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How to Advertise on Walmart Marketplace

April 15, 2021 0

how to advertise on walmart marketplace

If a company counted roughly half of the U.S. population as customers, you’d be pretty eager to use that platform to advertise your business, right?

Well, that’s exactly what Walmart Marketplace allows you to do. It gives you the ability to reach a huge market of highly targeted, engaged consumers, so why doesn’t it get as much attention as other platforms such as Amazon?

If you’re not on Walmart Marketplace already, then chances are you should be. Here’s how you can use advertising to get the most out of it.

What Is Walmart Marketplace?

Walmart Marketplace is where third-party sellers can upload, manage, and sell their products on Walmart’s website. 

As the largest retailer in the world, it was only a matter of time before Walmart started to flex its muscles in e-commerce, and in recent years, it’s seen tremendous growth thanks in part to Walmart Marketplace. With a large audience and millions of engaged shoppers, Walmart Marketplace could be a necessity for any online retailer in the same way that Amazon is. 

Getting your products on Walmart Marketplace is a great step to take, but to maximize your sales, you should consider how you advertise. Marketplace offers lots of useful ways to reach your target customer, and you may find they can provide a very good return on ad spend (ROAS.) 

Why You Should Advertise on Walmart Marketplace 

Understanding your customers is the only marketing strategy you need. A big part of this is reaching your customers where they hang out. For 150 million Americans a week, that’s at Walmart. 

The stats behind Walmart are significant, and just by looking at the numbers, you can get a sense of why it’s important to be on Walmart Marketplace:

  • the largest retailer in the United States
  • 90 percent of Americans shopped at Walmart in the past year
  • 150 million customers visit Walmart in-store or online each week
  • 90 percent of Americans live less than 10 miles away from a Walmart store

Walmart isn’t just about its physical stores, though. It’s also got a large e-commerce presence, and many of its shoppers are engaging with it. The buyer journey is truly omnichannel in the modern world, with 35 percent of Walmart shoppers researching products on Walmart.com before they go to a physical store. 

Amazon might have a bigger profile in the online world, but this doesn’t mean Walmart Marketplace is some hidden gem where you can achieve easy success. There’s a huge amount of competition on Marketplace, and while growing your profile organically is important, you’ve also got to make the most of the advertising options available to you. 

These options may look very similar to other large online marketplaces, but there are some unique features on Walmart Marketplace you can use to your advantage. 

Walmart Marketplace Features

In recent years, Walmart Marketplace has been rapidly growing and improving the seller experience. If you’re familiar with Amazon Seller Central, then you will notice a lot of similarities, but some features differ slightly. 

On Walmart Marketplace, you can:

  • upload your products
  • optimize your listings
  • choose your pricing
  • decide on your fulfillment method
  • assess your advertising

Every step in this process is important, so your Marketplace account is a key place you will visit regularly. Small details make a big difference when it comes to selling online, so it’s important you write great product descriptions, choose the right price points (Walmart is quite sensitive about this, so be sure to read all the terms and conditions), and come up with an effective fulfillment plan. 

Like with Amazon, you can send your products to a Walmart fulfillment center, but this feature works very differently, with sellers having a lot more control over the shipping process.

To get the most out of these features, you must understand your own business well and create a business plan for how you’re going to maximize your sales on Walmart Marketplace. 

Walmart Advertising: Sponsored Products

Advertising isn’t one-size-fits-all. People go through a complicated customer journey when buying your products, so you need to be able to reach them in a variety of different ways. 

Walmart advertising is particularly good at this, offering advertisers many different tools to help them reach their target audience.

With six different ad types, it allows you to reach customers at the awareness, consideration, and decision stages of the buyer process, establishing your brand in people’s minds and driving sales. 

To set up each type of ad, simply:

  1. Log in to your Walmart Ad Center account.
  2. Select “Create New Campaign” from the “Campaigns” tab.
  3. Choose manual or automatic targeting.
  4. Set your budget.
  5. Choose your placement type (if you selected manual targeting).
  6. Select bid multipliers (this gives you extra control over which ad formats you use).
  7. Create an ad group and add the products you want to advertise.
  8. Enter your keywords (for manual campaigns only; if you choose automatic, Walmart will do this for you).

Walmart Advertising Ad Type 1: Search In Grid

When we think of search engines, we think of Google, Bing, and Duck Duck Go. We don’t think of social media platforms or big e-commerce platforms like Walmart Marketplace or Amazon. 

That’s exactly what these platforms are, though. They’re search engines that allow people to find and buy products. This means the types of Walmart advertising you use probably look very similar to the PPC ads you run on Google

Search in grid Walmart ads allow your products to be featured when a customer types a certain query into the search bar. For example, if your keyword is “nuts,” your product will show in the search grid when people type that query. 

walmart advertising search in grid example

Like with traditional search engines, it takes time to build your organic presence on Marketplace, so search in grid Walmart advertising gives you the ability to feature at the top of the results more quickly. 

To set one of these ads, your products must fulfill several requirements:

  • be in stock
  • win the buy box
  • be in the top 128 organic search results (top 3 pages) 
  • same category as the search query 
  • same product type as at least one top 20 organic result

Once you meet all these requirements, then search in grid ads are an ideal way to get your products in front of your target audience. 

Walmart Advertising Ad Type 2: Brand Amplifier

Whereas search in grid ads are all about getting a certain product in front of your audience, brand amplifier ads are about showcasing your brand. 

You might have a whole range of exciting products that people want to try, and in this case, a brand amplifier may be the right form of Walmart advertising for you. Rather than your product appearing in the search results, a brand amplifier shows a banner with your brand name and a selection of your products above the results. 

Walmart advertising - brand amplifiers

This is a great way to boost brand recognition and get people to engage with your products. 

With an eye-catching logo, a customizable headline, and up to three of your products shown, this can help you grab people’s attention and encourage them to explore your brand further. 

Walmart Advertising Ad Type 3: Product Carousel 

Sometimes people shop online and know exactly what they want, but in many cases, they want to compare products to find the best one. To help people do this, Walmart places product carousels that show customers different product options on search, category, and product pages.

Walmart advertising - example of product carousel

Some of the results on the product carousel appear organically, but some are paid ads. 

This is another opportunity to reach a targeted audience with your products. If someone is already looking at a product page and comparing their options, chances are they’re motivated to buy, and this is an excellent time to bring them to your product pages. 

Walmart Advertising Ad Type 4: Buy Box 

These different forms of Walmart advertising might seem very similar, but they each have their benefits. Another great option is the Buy Box. 

The Buy Box appears on product pages and offers your product as an alternative to the one they’re looking at, which makes it a great place for your product to appear. If the customer has any issues with the product they’re considering, then the next option they’re presented with is to check out your product. 

Walmart advertising - buy box

With the Buy Box, customers can quickly compare two products, so it’s a perfect place for your ad to appear. It puts your product in the mind of the buyer and establishes it as a viable alternative. 

Getting your product noticed at this late stage in the buyer’s journey is a great tool to have. 

Walmart Advertising Display Ads

Walmart advertising isn’t limited to result-based product ads; it also offers options for more content-based advertising through its display ads. 

Just as Google allows advertisers to display ads that pop up on websites across the internet, Walmart offers a similar feature. They allow you to reach customers at many different stages of the customer journey, whether they’re on Walmart-owned properties or third-party websites. 

Walmart Display Ad Type 1: Onsite Display 

Onsite display ads are content-based ads that allow you to advertise across all of Walmart’s platforms, including Walmart.com and Walmart apps. 

Display ads are prominent features across the web, and they’re a chance to grab people’s attention and earn their clicks. To do this, you’ve got to be creative with your ads, and it’s no different on Walmart. 

One advantage you have with Walmart is that you benefit from the huge amount of data it has on people’s shopping habits. This enables you to choose your ideal Walmart customer to target and make sure you’re getting your ads in front of the right people. 

With onsite display, your ads become truly omnichannel, reaching people however they interact with Walmart and allowing you to see your results all in one place. 

Walmart Display Ad Type 2: Offsite Display

Just because someone has clicked away from your product page doesn’t mean they won’t purchase in the future. 

They may have been doing some initial research and are thinking about coming back to your product later. When someone leaves your product page, you want to make sure your brand remains fresh in their mind. 

Offsite display ads can be the perfect way to make sure people don’t forget about your products. 

Through retargeting, you can reach targeted Walmart customers across the internet. These display ads can show on social media platforms and third-party websites, making sure your product stays in the mind of your audience, and they’re able to quickly go back and make a purchase. 

Retargeting can be an extremely efficient use of your budget if you’re using the right strategies, and Walmart gives you all the tools you need to do this. 

Conclusion

To succeed in marketing, you need to make sure you’re advertising on the platforms your customers are using. For 150 million Americans, Walmart is that platform. Of course, to make the most of your audience, you also need the right tools. With a rapidly growing online presence, that’s precisely what Walmart can offer you. 

Boosting your organic presence is a crucial part of being on any marketplace, but Walmart advertising also offers you an excellent platform to sell more products. If you can be targeted and creative with your use of Walmart advertising, you could expand your reach and boost sales quickly. 

As ever with advertising, it’s about finding the strategies that work best for you, and Walmart gives you more than enough tools to do this. Your customers are spending money at Walmart every week, so when are you going to start taking a piece of the pie?

Have you advertised on Walmart Marketplace? What was your experience?

[…]

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How to Use Google’s Call-Only Ads to Send Profits Soaring

April 15, 2021 0

How to use google call only ads

For service businesses everywhere, the noise of the telephone is often the sweet sound of sales. 

But maybe your phone isn’t ringing much anymore. The internet has made it easier than ever for customers to get in touch with businesses without picking up the phone. 

That’s great for introverts, but it’s not always good for business owners and service providers who’d rather chat with potential customers on the phone than respond to a slew of emails. 

While being accessible in more than one way is a good idea, you don’t have to restrict yourself to emails or online chats. Google’s call-only ads make it easy for customers to call your business. 

This article explains what these useful ads are, how they could benefit your business, and how you can start running them today. Let’s get that phone ringing again. 

What Are Call-Only Ads?

Call-only ads, officially called “call ads” by Google, lets customers call you directly from Google. You’ve probably seen them if you’ve ever searched for a local business on your phone. The giant telephone icon makes them hard to miss.

What Are Call-Only Ads

When users click on the ad, Google automatically brings up the business’ phone number on their keypad. The user can be on the phone with someone in two taps, reducing friction in the customer journey because they don’t have to try to find the number on the brand’s website. As the ad is designed to make the user take action, there’s also less space dedicated to copy and more dedicated to your business’ information.

Call-only ads only appear on mobile devices. When their sole aim is to get users to make a call, it would be a waste of money to show them on desktop and tablet searches.

The Benefits of Call-Only Ads

Call-only ads come with a ton of benefits that make them stand apart from other ads you can run on AdWords

Call-Only Ads Bring in High-Quality Leads

These ads filter out many time-wasters and other low-quality leads. If someone is willing to pick up the phone to speak to you, chances are they have a problem that needs to be solved.

The research backs this up. Invoca found calls have a 30 to 50 percent conversion rate, while clicks convert at one to two percent. 

Call-Only Ads Are Easy to Create

Google Ads aren’t always the easiest things to create, but call-only ads are different. They’re quick to set up and designed for even the least tech-savvy creators.

They Leverage the Best Sales Channel

Not only are phone call leads high quality, but the phone is also statistically the best sales channel for most businesses. HubSpot’s State of Inbound report found phone calls to be the best channels for sales reps to connect with prospects. 

Call-only ads - HubSpot State of Inbound

People Like Calling Businesses

You might not know it from the number of leads your website generates, but many people still prefer calling businesses over filling out online forms or speaking via email. Invoca’s State of Mobile Experience found 65% of people called a business within the last month. 

With these ads, there’s no need for users to hunt around on your site for your phone number. With two taps, they’re on the phone with you.

When Should You Create Call-Only Ads?

There are many circumstances when it makes sense for businesses to create call-only ads. Here are some of my favorites.

Local Businesses

Call-only ads are great for local businesses and national businesses operating on a local level. A local dentist would be the perfect fit, for example, but so would a nationwide chain of motels since every individual motel has its own phone line. 

Plenty of other businesses make great candidates for call-only ads, including:

  • doctors
  • lawyers
  • restaurants
  • home repair workers
  • specialty grocers

Urgent Services

Customers clicking on call-only ads know what they want. They usually have a specific issue and are looking for someone to help them quickly. If you provide urgent next-day or same-day services, these ads could be a fantastic marketing tool. The more urgent the customer’s need, the more likely a call-only ad will be effective.

For instance, if someone’s basement is flooding, chances are they don’t want to spend a lot of time browsing the web, comparison shopping, and shooting off emails trying to find someone to fix the problem—they need someone at their home now. Having this call-only ad option allows them to find that person quickly.

A few urgent services that could benefit from these ads include:

  • plumbers
  • electricians
  • handymen
  • locksmiths
  • veterinarians

Any Business That Sells on the Phone

As per the HubSpot report above, phone calls are the best sales channel for many businesses. If you make sales on the phone, even if you don’t offer the types of services listed above, I recommend you try call-only ads. 

You’ve only wasted a couple of hundred bucks if they don’t work, but you could discover an untapped gold mine of sales leads

Call-Only Ad Examples

Before we get into creating your ad, let’s look at some of them in the wild. Here’s a selection of call-only ads for a variety of businesses and why these work.

Emergency Locksmiths

Examples of Call-only ads -  Emergency Locksmiths.png

If you’re locked out of your house, you need someone who’s going to respond fast. That’s what makes this ad so good. There are three references to how quickly this company will get you back in your home. 

First, they’re “Speedy.” Second, they’re available 24 hours a day. Third, they work across all of New York City. It doesn’t matter where I am or what time I’m searching; this business can clearly solve my immediate need if I’m in NYC.

A Roofing Company

Examples of Call-only ads -  A Roofing Company

You may or may not need a roofer urgently, but you’ll want to hire the best person either way. This ad’s copy does a great job of persuading the reader that the contractor is one of the best in the area by using phrases like “high-quality” and “master elite.”

A Pest Control Company

Examples of Call-only ads -  A Pest Control Company

Do you know what’s great about this ad? It’s simple, concise, and gets straight to the point. Unlike the other two, this company has carefully tailored its ad copy, so nothing gets cut off. In just two short lines, we know what they do and how well they do it.

This ad is also a solid example of how non-urgent businesses can use call-only ads. Pest control is sometimes an emergency, but often, customers are just dealing with something annoying that needs to be handled soon, not right now. You don’t need to offer an emergency service to succeed with these ads, but you do need to write great copy.

How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google

Creating an ad is easy. Just follow the step-by-step process I outline below. 

1. Open AdWords and create a new campaign. 

How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - New Campaign

2. Set your goal as “Sales.”

How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - Select Sales Goal

3. Choose “Search” as your campaign type.

How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - Search Campaign Type

4. Tick the “phone calls” box, then enter your number. 

How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - Phone Call Box

5. Change your campaign settings.

  • Rename the campaign.
  • Untick the “Include Google search partners” box.
  • Click “Show more settings” and set the “Ad schedule” to your office hours.
How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - Schedule

6. Set your target locations.

In this example, I’ve set my ad to target all of San Diego. But you can be as broad or as specific as you like.

How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - Location Targeting

7. Set your daily budget and focus the bidding on clicks. 

You can also choose to set a maximum cost per click.

How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - Bidding

8. Create ad groups for your ads. 

Enter a relevant web page or service, and Google will spit out a list of related keywords you can group together. 

How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - Creating Ad Groups

I recommend creating very specific ad groups, each targeting a different customer need. If I’m targeting searchers looking for an emergency locksmith, for instance, I only include a handful of very specific keywords. That makes the list above a lot smaller.

How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - Emergency Locksmith example

9. Create your ad

There’s a lot to do at this stage, so follow my checklist below:

  • Verify your phone number is correct.
  • Include a URL users can visit instead of calling.
  • Add the URL of a page on your site that includes your phone number. This allows Google to confirm the number.
  • Create a vanity URL if you don’t like how your final URL looks.
  • Add a 30-character headline. This will be displayed next to your business name.
  • Add a 30-character secondary headline.
  • Enter your business name.
  • Add two descriptive lines. Keep these short, sweet, and enticing. 
  • Make sure to include a call-to-action.
How to Create Call-Only Ads on Google - URL Set Up

The vast majority of these fields are optional. Google’s call-only ads are flexible and appear differently on different mobile devices. Even if you use every field when creating an ad, it doesn’t mean it will always be shown to the end-user. 

10. Review your ad and hit publish!

Nice work. You’re done.

Google Call-Only Ad Best Practices

Let’s look at how you can make sure your ads are as eye-catching, clickable, and profitable as possible. 

Create a Killer CTA

There are dozens of businesses each user can choose when they search, and you need to make them click on you with the perfect call-to-action (CTA). Copy is even more important in call-only ads where you have two lines of text instead of the usual three. 

Keep your copy focused on the user and their urgent need. Phrases like “call now,” “act fast,” and “quick quote” can persuade searchers you’re able to provide the fastest solution to their problems. Create a sense of urgency.

Make it clear users will speak to a human. Including phrases like “We answer immediately” or “speak to a rep today” will relieve any fears the user has about having to sit through a long hold time or deal with an automated phone system.  

Set an Ad Schedule

There’s no point running a call-only ad when you or your team can’t answer the phone. Yet, I see so many business owners who forget to set an ad schedule.

Make sure you use the ad schedule to only run ads during office hours. Of course, if you have a 24/7 hotline, you don’t need to worry about this. You may even find the cheapest clicks and most profitable calls happen in the middle of the night. 

Use a Link to Your Website As a Catch-All

In April 2020, Google added the ability to include links in all call-only ads. It’s an optional ability, but I recommend most businesses use it. Not only does it make your ad slightly bigger (and therefore more noticeable), it also adds a level of authenticity from the user’s perspective and gives them the option of finding out more about your business before they call. 

Opt for a No-Headline Call-Only Ad

When Wordstream’s in-house team compiled research on the conversion rates of call-only ads, they found those without headline copy—that is, they focus on the phone number and not other information—converted at a significantly higher rate.

No-headline ads had a 17 percent higher average conversion rate than standard call-only ads. The cost per action of no-headline call-only ads was 28 percent lower, too.

Test your ads if you have the budget. Otherwise, stick to no-headline ads. 

Localize Your Ads As Much As Possible

The majority of searchers clicking on call-only ads will be looking for local businesses. Make your business’ location as obvious as possible by:

  • using a local phone number
  • including your town or city in ad copy
  • targeting localized keywords

This ad for a roofing company in Dallas is a great example. They use a 214 number, name themselves Dallas’ number one roofing company, and use DFW in the copy. Searchers should pick up on at least one of these references with just a glance.

Google Call-Only Ads - Example of Dallas roofer

As a side note: notice they opted for the no-headline option while still getting local information in there.

Conclusion

Phone calls are the lifeblood of many service businesses. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a handyman or a lawyer; you need that phone to keep ringing to stay in business.

Call-only ads are one of the best ways to generate more calls, especially if you’re a local business that solves urgent needs. Follow my step-by-step instructions above to create your ads, follow my best practices and continue to optimize them once launched. 

How many calls are you aiming to generate from call-only ads?

[…]

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Internet Marketing

How Could Deepfakes Change Marketing?

April 15, 2021 0

how deepfakes could change marketing

Deepfakes are receiving a lot of bad press.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called the technology a propaganda weapon

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg said deepfakes raise the issue of not believing what you see.

Investigative journalist Rana Ayyub was targeted with a deepfake pornography video to discredit and silence her.

With so much negativity around the tech, is there any chance of it bringing good into the world?

Yes! The possibilities when you combine AI technology with marketing are exciting and can change how we speak with our customers forever.

When used with positive intent, they are a potent marketing tool. 

Below, I’m breaking down exactly what these videos are, the drawbacks of using them, and the different ways marketers are currently using deepfakes to create stronger campaigns.

What Are Deepfakes?

deepfake of barack obama

Have you seen a YouTube video of Barack Obama calling Donald Trump a “complete dipshit?” What about Jon Snow apologizing for the disastrous season finale of Game of Thrones?

If you answered yes, you’ve seen a deepfake video.

The term “deepfake” was coined in 2017 and is a combination of “deep learning” and “fakes.” It uses deep learning technology (a branch of machine learning) to create the dupe. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) learns what the source face looks like at different angles and then superimposes it onto an actor’s face, essentially creating a mask.

For example, let’s say you have a database of audio clips or video files of a person. You could create a hyper-realistic fake video of celebrities discussing the future of cinema or revenge porn.

Hollywood has already taken advantage of deepfakes by transposing real faces onto other actors. The most notable example is bringing Carrie Fisher back to life for a short scene in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

While many fear the technology being used for nefarious ends (more on this below), deepfakes offer a range of intriguing possibilities. You can create apps to try a new hairstyle or use it to help doctors with medical diagnosis.

The Drawbacks of Using Deepfake Technology

With the rise of deepfake technology, it’s not hard to understand why some people are skeptical and even terrified of it becoming widely adopted.

After all, the advances in this technology make it harder to distinguish what is real and fake.

It can lead to serious dangers like fake news, putting words in politicians’ or celebrities’ mouths, and ruining someone’s life with fake pornography.

Lack of Trust

Deepfakes can breed a culture of mistrust and not knowing what to trust. If the president holds a press conference inciting violence, but it’s a deepfake, how do you know what to believe?

For example, a deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg made the rounds on the internet. The video shows Facebook’s CEO giving a speech about how the platform “owns” its users and crediting an organization called Spectre for Facebook’s success.

Increase in Scams

Another con is the opportunity it provides for scammers. Audio deepfakes have already been used to defraud people out of money. 

For example, a German energy firm’s U.K. subsidiary paid nearly $243,000 into a Hungarian bank account after a scammer mimicked the German CEO’s voice.

The core message for both examples is not knowing what is real. 

Consumers are already doubting what they are reading online with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, adding fact-checking processes to content. Deepfakes can create more distrust of everyone around us and make us question everything we are seeing and hearing.

7 Ways Marketers Can Use Deepfakes

With all the backlash and potential pitfalls of deepfake technology, can marketers use it for good?

The answer is yes!

Some of the world’s biggest brands are already experimenting with deepfakes and using them to create unique and engaging content. 

As long as you’re transparent about using the technology, you can create a more dynamic consumer journey.

1. Dynamic Campaigns With Influencers to Increase Reach

deepfake of david beckham

Imagine having an influencer agree to an ad campaign and only provide you with 20 minutes of audio content and a few video shots. 

No lengthy photo shoot or filming days required.

Not only does it help you save time, but it opens the door to creating dynamic campaigns, a.k.a. microtargeted ads at scale.

Case in point: David Beckham’s 2019 malaria awareness ad. The deepfake had the soccer star speaking in nine languages and is an excellent example of how this technology can increase a campaign’s reach. 

Translating an ad into multiple languages also allows brands to enter new markets seamlessly and speak to consumers in their native tongue while still benefiting from the influencer or celebrity’s likeness.

2. Hyper-Personalized Campaigns for Your Audience

While some people want to ban deepfakes because of how they can be used to deceive people, it’s a creative and groundbreaking technology for marketers when used for good.

If you’re in the fashion industry, you could easily show models with different skin tones, heights, and weights.  

With the average person seeing thousands of ads per day, using this tech to create psychological ownership and see the product as an extension of themselves is vital to cut through the noise.

It also helps marketers create hyper-personalized ads. The benefits of creating a shopping experience catered to multiple segments mean you can reap the rewards of personalized marketing.

3. Product Ownership to Increase Sales

Another way to create ownership with deepfakes is using the technology to create personalized videos of your clients using or wearing your products.

For example, Reface AI lets users virtually try on the new Gucci Ace sneaker as part of a virtual try-on haul. Users can browse through the footwear options and view it on foot by pointing the phone at their feet.

Savvy marketers know the likelihood of a sale increases if people feel like they own the product. It doubles down on the sensory experience where the longer someone spends looking and holding a product, the more likely they will buy it. 

Deep learning can help stimulate the same experience with a deepfake of the customer behind the wheel of the latest BMW or a makeup look with the newest MAC eyeshadow palette.

4. Host Exhibitions and Events Anywhere in the World

deepfake of dali

For the events and art industries, deepfakes open up a world of exciting possibilities. The technology can help you recreate objects or people anywhere in the world at the same time.

An example is the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla., which uses a deepfake of Salvador Dalí  to greet guests. It creates a more engaging experience for visitors and brings the surrealism master back to life.

Dalí’s video was created by using over 6,000 frames of video footage from past interviews and 1,000 hours of machine learning to overlay it onto an actor’s face. What makes the deepfake even more impressive is that Dalí is interactive. The video has more than 190,000 possible combinations depending on a person’s answers.

While we already have holographic concerts for iconic musicians like Michael Jackson, deepfakes would create a more hyper-real experience for attendees. Art exhibitions can use the technology to display artworks around the world simultaneously. 

Marketers can take it one step further and create deepfakes of products prelaunch (like the new iPhone) to generate buzz and create an interactive Steve Jobs to answer questions about the latest device.

5. Use Deepfakes to Entertain Your Audience

deepfake of kenny mayne

Marketers can use deep learning to create ad campaigns we would have never been able to do 20 years ago.

State Farm is leading the pack with its ad for The Last Dance, an ESPN documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Using deepfake technology, State Farm superimposed 1998 SportsCenter footage to make it look like Kenny Mayne predicted the documentary.

The ad’s success led to a follow-up ad with Keith Olbermann and Linda Cohn “predicting” Phil Jackson’s success when he left Chicago to lead the Lakers.

These deepfakes serve to purely delight audiences and create a viral piece of content for the brand.

6. Market Segmentation and Personalization

One of the most successful deepfake examples using market segmentation is the 2018 Zalando campaign with Cara Delevingne.

The campaign’s concept was to create awareness around Zalando now delivering Top Shop fashion to people in the most remote parts of Europe.

With a single video shoot, they created 60,000 bespoke video messages for every tiny town and village in Europe using deepfake technology to produce alternative shots and voice fonts. Then using Facebook’s ad targeting, they showed users the specific video which mentioned their hometown.

The campaign received more than 180 million impressions, and Top Shop sales increased by 54 percent.

This can help marketers eliminate further customer generalizations or affinity grouping and create content that speaks to people on a more individual level.

7. Educating Consumers With Deepfakes

Do you have a product with a learning curve? You can use deepfake technology to educate your customers on how to use it and improve their skills.

For example, if you’re a camera brand like Canon, you can use an AI instructor to help novice photographers learn faster. The technology can point out compositional mistakes, advise on camera settings, and help them slowly master their device.

At trade shows, you could have potential customers practice taking photos, learning from the AI, or testing their skills against the deepfake. It can help create an interactive experience, put the product in the person’s hands, and start building brand loyalty.

Conclusion

Of course, there’s always going to be a few bad apples. While some people are causing mayhem with deepfakes, there are plenty of golden opportunities for marketers.

This technology allows you to create hyper-personalization, duplicate your marketing efforts instantly, increase brand loyalty, and use product ownership to increase sales.

What are your thoughts on using deepfakes in marketing? Do you think its potential to do good outweighs the bad?

[…]

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Internet Marketing

Best HR Outsourcing Services

April 15, 2021 0

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

There’s a reason people spend their entire lives learning the ins and outs of human resources—there’s a lot to it.

But the good news is that nobody expects you to know it all and you don’t have to navigate it alone.

The best HR outsourcing services exist to make your life easier. You’ll be able to deliver a better experience for your employees with less time and frustration on your end.

However, there are a ton of service providers on the market. How do you decide which one’s right for you when they all appear to be exactly the same?

To help answer that question, I looked at countless options and narrowed it down to my top six recommendations. And by the end of this guide, you’ll know everything you need to know to make the right choice for your business.

#1 – Insperity Review — The Best for Outsourcing All Your HR Responsibilities

I highly recommend Insperity if you want to go the PEO route, or you are looking to offload as much of your HR workload as possible. 

This is a great option for companies of any size. Insperity offers PEO arrangements to companies of 150 people or more. 

If you have less than that, you can still outsource the entirety of your HR workload to Insperity, it will just happen under a traditional HRO arrangement.

This is best for people who want a “set it and forget it,” type relationship with outsourcing. You’ll still have to coordinate with Insperity, but all of the heavy lifting, repetitive work, and regulatory stress is off your plate.

It’s overkill if you just want to outsource a few HR tasks. Their payroll service, for example, is bundled with a human capital management (HCM) software designed to work across your company. You don’t need (or want to pay for) all this infrastructure if you are just looking to cut checks for your employees.

If, on the other hand, you want full-service HR outsourcing, Insperity makes managing everything as simple as possible. Everything is integrated, easy to scale, and effortless to monitor.

Piggy-backing on Insperity’s high quality infrastructure, you don’t need to build out any of your own. And the company can provide a wide range of services, as the following is only a selection:

  • Accounting & bookkeeping
  • Expense reporting
  • HR consulting
  • Insurance services
  • Organizational charting
  • Payroll and HCM
  • Performance reviews
  • Recruiting
  • Retirement
  • Time clock & scheduling

It’s the full scope of every service and technology that a company needs in order to manage HR operations. Integration between time clock & scheduling, payroll, and retirement means fewer mistakes with minimal data entry–for employees and managers.

On top of that, Insperity is right alongside you, every step of the way. If there are changes to laws or regulations that are going to impact your company, you’ll receive proactive notifications alerting you to the potential issue long before it spirals into a penalty.

Really, Insperity does a lot to support your company. When you reach out, you’re talking to an agent who has more than 10 years of experience on average. You can quickly find a specialist in any area of law, safety, or compliance. During business hours, the average service time is less than 2 hours.

You’ll have to get in touch with Insperity for pricing, and they will put together a custom package of services to meet your HR goals. The plans for full-service HR outsourcing (5-150 employees) or PEO services (150-5,000 employees). Entering into a PEO arrangement requires a two year agreement.

Insperity is best-in-class if you want to outsource HR entirely. You can focus on growing your company and let Insperity handle the whole backend. 

People who want a few services should look at Gusto, ADP, or potentially Bambee, if they need the HR guidance more than services per se.

But if you are looking to get HR taken care of, call Insperity today.

#2 – ADP Review — The Best for Outsourcing HR Piece-By-Piece

ADP is one of the best options for companies that need some HR outsourced now and likely need additional services in the future. 

The company does offer PEO and full-service arrangements, but it’s not mandatory. You can select from their service offerings a la carte, get exactly what you need, and never have to enter into an enterprise-grade business arrangement. 

Eliminate your specific HR dilemmas and bottlenecks right now. Add services as need be. Scale your company with one of the most trusted names in payroll and HR. ADP can take virtually any task off your plate, including:

  • Benefits
  • HR Consulting
  • Payroll
  • Recruiting
  • Retirement
  • Time & Attendance
  • Workforce Management

You can get end-to-end coverage for these services, outsourcing every HR task from recruitment to retirement. Or you can use ADP to get relief from essential administrative tasks in any of these areas.

Maybe you just need a fast, dependable way to pay employees now. In a few months, when you’re hiring more, you can outsource some of the recruiting and onboarding to deliver a professional experience for new hires. As time goes by you can add a benefits package to attract even better talent.

ADP can help you get there at your own pace. You don’t have to go all-in on HR or enter into a PEO relationship before you are ready.

In other words, you don’t have to change the way you work to solve HR. ADP’s software has a long list of integrations and an extensive app marketplace. You and your staff won’t have to negotiate with dozens of conflicting services to accomplish a simple task.

Your employees and managers will be able to get the help they need on-demand, using ADP’s intuitive self-service features. From their desktop or phone, your staff will have the ability to troubleshoot and solve most problems on their own.

Get access to best-in-class services that change with the times. ADP’s touchless kiosk uses voice activation and facial recognition to clock employees in safely.

ADP is a long-time player in the HR space, but you don’t have to worry about clunky technology. You get an evolving toolkit for the exact challenges you face.

When particularly complex or annoying questions pop up, you can reach out to ADP 24/7. This puts people in touch with specialists who handle HR questions all day. They can help you understand the challenges you face and forecast the roadblocks ahead.

It’s all about what you want. It could help with risk management or setting up worker’s compensation insurance. You can build around your in-house HR staff (or person) and use ADP to reduce busywork and complexity. Or you can have them completely handle payroll and benefits administration.

How can ADP make your life easier? Get in touch for a custom plan today.

#3 – Paychex Review — The Best for Businesses with Frustrating Regulations

Restaurants, freight companies, law firms, and other businesses have reporting requirements that can throw a wrench in HR. Calculating tips, mileage, and billable hours isn’t always easy with off-the-shelf payroll and HR software.

Paychex has been around for decades. The company has evolved its software to meet the challenges businesses face in any industry. It doesn’t matter whether you have one or one thousand employees, Paychex delivers a platform that fits your niche needs and gives you total visibility.

The reporting features are very good. You’re not going to be blindsided by issues because it’s easy to visualize the big picture and drill down into the specifics.

Anything you need to monitor is easy to find.The Paychex platform isn’t quite as simple and clean as Gusto’s, but you’ll find that it can be configured to suit the most complex payroll, benefits, and workplace safety regulations.

The other factor that makes Paychex so good is the customer service. You are getting unrivaled availability with chat and phone service available 24/7/365.

That’s important, but where Paychex really steps away from similar offerings is the dedicated HR service representative. 

With other companies, you may get someone who understands your business. Or not. With Paychex, you get a single point of contact. They are going to know your workplace and be able to offer guidance about changing laws and regulations in your area.

When you run into an HR-related roadblock, how long does it take you to resolve the issue completely? With Paychex, it will be a lot quicker than if you’re on your own.

Some of the areas where the company can help include:

  • Benefits Administration
  • Business Continuity Planning
  • Business Insurance
  • Hiring & Onboarding
  • Payroll
  • Recruiting
  • Retirement
  • Time and Attendance

It’s a good option whether you are looking to outsource your HR completely or build around an in-house staff. You can get as much relief from administrative duties and as much strategic guidance as you need.

Pricing is not available online, so you’ll need to get in touch with Paychex. Together, you will work out a suite of services that fit your specific industry.

You won’t have to build onerous workarounds to accommodate because of their all-in-one HR software. And when issues crop up, you can get in touch with Paychex immediately, day or night.

Move at the speed of your business. Say you need a new insurance policy. Paychex can help you get set up in less than 24 hours.

If you are tired of waiting for a callback or hitting limits with your HR platform, reach out to Paychex today.

#4 – Gusto Review — Best for Companies with Fewer Than 100 Employees

This is my top recommendation for small businesses that need the core HR functions off their plate. Gusto is incredibly easy to set up and effortless to maintain. The platform is clean, simple, and so is the pricing.

Gusto is beloved by employees. It’s so far ahead of the rest of the HR outsourcing space in terms of user-friendliness. The automated guidance directs people through the basic tasks and reminds them when something needs to get signed. 

Eliminate those back-and-forths filling up your inbox–managers and employees can clearly see the status of everything from their health insurance to next paycheck. 

Part of the reason Gusto is so approachable is that it’s been pared down to the essential services. Once you hit the 100-employee range, Gusto’s sleekness starts to lose ground with more comprehensive solutions.

So Gusto isn’t going to handle workforce and human capital management like a full-service HRO, but the company excels at the core functions:

  • Benefits Administration
  • Hiring/Onboarding
  • Payroll
  • Time Tracking
  • Workers Compensation

For a lot of companies, this is all they need. Say you’re a startup that’s looking to grow. You want to hire top talent, but that means offering benefits, if not a retirement plan. Instead of spending more money on experienced HR managers, get Gusto for a fraction of the price.

With some simple coordination on your end, Gusto can handle the rest. 

In that sense, you can think of Gusto as an all-in solution, even though it’s much lighter than other tools. If you don’t have a huge office, Gusto is going to deliver everything you need in a single package.

As you can tell, you’re picking from a pre-arranged suite of services rather than selecting them á la carte. 

At the same time, Core comes with everything you need to put payroll, hiring, benefits, and workers compensation on auto-pilot.

It’s still very much an all-in solution, but it only works for small teams. If you have a couple dozen people or more, the Complete and Concierge plans come with additional organizational tools for onboarding and HR administration.

Smaller teams don’t need customizable onboarding forms or a framework for tracking PTO, but they are invaluable for keeping processes smooth once you’ve expanded beyond a single group.

The simple pricing remains reasonable, even at the higher tiers:

  • Core: $39/month base price, $6/month per person
  • Complete: $39/month base price, $12/month per person
  • Concierge: $149/month base price, $12/month per person
  • Contractor:  No base price, $6/month per person

The Contractor pricing is fantastic. You can bill contractors frequently for no extra charge, and have 1099s ready to go with no work on your end. 

This gives small businesses more flexibility to start (and stop) relationships with contractors. It’s hassle-free and inexpensive to give people a shot.

Concierge is the only plan that comes with dedicated HR support. Every other plan comes with Gusto’s standard customer service, which has an exceptional reputation.

You get unlimited phone, email, and chat support. Your liaison with Gusto (or just you) will likely have a quicker response time than employees, but the self-service portal can handle 99 percent of what they need. The online documentation is great, too, for helping admins solve issues or new employees through the onboarding process.

For remote onboarding, Gusto is really good. There is zero confusion, and you never have to see employee information. They work with Gusto to make sure money is getting deposited in the right place. 

There’s no workarounds to accommodate a legacy system. Everything is smooth and easy.

Gusto is a tremendous opportunity for new companies to start on the right foot. Established small businesses may find that switching to Gusto makes their lives a lot easier. 

Discover why people love Gusto today.

#5 – Bambee Review — Best for Supporting Your In-House HR Team

Bambee isn’t HR outsourcing in the traditional, “set it and forget it” sense. It’s more like HR consulting for small businesses that can’t afford (or can’t justify) hiring a full-time staff. 

Say you and your team already have 80 percent of HR locked down. Payroll, accounting, hiring–it’s all going smooth–but every so often you encounter a situation where you wish you had a full HR staff in house.

Bambee is expertise on-demand, for a low monthly fee. They’ll help you navigate the 20 percent of HR that complicates your job and causes problems down the line. Consider the company a wellspring of advice and guidance for tricky and unfamiliar challenges.

So you aren’t outsourcing your HR as you do with Insperity or another full-service option. Instead, you are getting Bambee’s help to set up efficient processes, policies, and with the occasional thorny question.

In the words of Bambee founder and CEO Allan Jones, “Every small business in the country should have access to a human resources professional.” This is the essence of what Bambee offers.

The truth is that outsourcing can save money over the long-term, but it’s prohibitively expensive for many small businesses. They try to handle HR on their own, and it works until it doesn’t.

Jones told TechCrunch. “When I was a kid my dad owned a small minimarket and got sued for wrongful termination and he had to dip into my college education fund.” 

Like Jones’ father, many small businesses that don’t have HR expertise available find themselves exposed to significant risks. Are you prepared for a wrongful termination lawsuit? Have you worded all your hiring documents in such a way as to prevent litigation?

With Bambee, you get a dedicated HR manager that you can reach any time you have a question. This is someone who specializes in the problems faced by small companies and can help you stay protected from the various pitfalls of doing business.

And it’s not just damage control and troubleshooting. Your manager works closely with you to help you create efficient processes, HR materials, and guide you through the thicket of regulations.

Plans start at $99 per month, or $79 per month with an annual subscription. This comes with unlimited direct chat, phone, and email.

This is a fraction of the price it would cost to build that expertise in house, and much less than traditional outsourcing. It’s the perfect solution for companies that only need help with HR intermittently.

The cost of Bambee increases depending on how many employees you have:

The prices listed above are for month-to-month pricing. You can get a discount signing up for a year, but there is no need to sign a contract if you don’t want to.

This means Bambee offers a ton of flexibility, whereas other providers lock you into a multi-year deal. You can cancel at any time.

There is a one-time set up fee to be aware of. It starts at $500, and increases for higher tier plans. Still, the low monthly price more than makes up for the initial spend. And Bambee is going to help you establish bulletproof HR policies, which can lead to significant savings in the long run.

Bambee also offers plans for midsize businesses (not pictured) of 100-500 employees. The company only serves companies of 500 people or less

People are very happy with their Bambee representatives and their overall service. Whenever they run into an issue, they have an on-demand resource to call.

If you’re tired of getting thrown off by HR curveballs, get in touch with Bambee today. You can eliminate your problems without having to spend big on outsourcing or hiring.

#6 – G&A Partners Review — Best Full-Service HR for SMBs

If you worry that some of the lighter HR outsourcing options for SMB aren’t going to satisfy the unique challenges faced by your business, G&A Partners is a safe play.

Gusto is fantastic if you just need the core HR functions, but what if you are looking to make HR part of your strategic growth strategy?

Insperity’s PEO option is extremely attractive, but you need at least 150 employees to sign up. With G&A, on the other hand, you’re good to go as long as you have more than five.

Imagine being a single location retailer who’s able to offer their employees a benefits package? Not only that, but they are choosing from insurance plans from the best carriers. 

Everything is managed with G&A’s WorkSight technology platform, which can be customized to fit your exact situation. Some of the areas G&A will help you take care of include:

  • HR consulting
  • HR management
  • Health insurance & benefits
  • Online learning
  • Payroll administration
  • Recruiting & onboarding
  • Time & Attendance
  • Workplace safety

It’s more than just streamlining HR and getting it off your plate. With G&A, you are able to offer your employees a best-in-class experience. And your business is going to get discounts on high-quality health and retirement plans.

Attract top talent and keep your best employees by having G&A work with you to strengthen your business. You’ll be able to develop paperwork that protects you from litigation and follow a long-term strategy that increases salaries and increases your bottom line.

Along with customized HR software, G&A provides a direct line to a dedicated Client Advocate. This means fast response times from someone who actually knows your business.

You have to make contact with G&A to get a price on a custom plan. Depending on your needs, you can set the arrangement up as a PEO or ASO arrangement. 

The ASO arrangement can be full-service, or you can choose services á la carte. I would go with G&A as a full-service ASO or PEO. The benefits of using their end-to-end platform are dulled if you just use a few services.

G&A opens doors for SMBs in a way outsourcing cannot. It’s an excellent option for small businesses looking to do more than just outsource HR. Get in touch today.

What I Looked at to Find the Best HR Outsourcing Service

If you are used to handling HR yourself or in-house, you may have toyed with the idea of passing these responsibilities off.

But outsourcing your payroll is different than finding someone to plow your parking lot. There’s a lot that goes into this relationship that takes it beyond the typical client contractor set up.

It can be hard to distinguish between your options, especially if this is your first time looking to outsource HR. At first blush, these companies seem to overlap quite a bit in terms of what they provide.

To keep your options clearly defined, follow this simple methodology to make sure you’re asking the right questions in the right order.

Building In-House vs Outsourcing Responsibility

Are you planning on keeping HR staff in-house or trying to avoid hiring them in the first place?

Figuring out where you are on this spectrum will help you hone in on the type provider you want to work with. You are going to see three types of HR outsourcing arrangements:

  • PEO (Professional Employer Organization) A PEO becomes the employer of record for your company, absorbing the responsibility and liability. In this sense, a PEO becomes a “co-employer” and completely handles HR for your company.
  • HRO (Human Resources Organization) An HRO doesn’t involve a transfer in liability or tax ID. You are still the employer of record, but the provider takes over the backend HR legwork.
  • ASO (Administrative Services Provider) An ASO doesn’t involve transfer of liability. You are still the employer of record, but the provider takes over backend administrative work. They might handle benefits administration and health insurance, but ASOs do not always offer the full range of HR services, such as consulting or recruiting.

Today, there’s a lot of overlap between HRO/ASO. Both categories have expanded to offer services that were traditionally separate. Paychex, for example, used to handle payroll only, whereas now they can help you hire, fire, and insure your employees.

The dividing line between those two options and PEO is still very clear. You won’t have to worry about tax law or compliance at all, but you do lose some control and flexibility.

For example your provider will determine what insurance plans your employees can choose, and you may be subject to regulations for larger businesses now that you are part of the PEO.

The flipside is that, as a larger employer, your PEO is going to be able to get much better rates on workers compensation insurance. You’ll also have access to employee retirement plans that would normally be off-limits to smaller businesses.

With HROs and ASOs, HR outsourcing is more like a client/contractor relationship. You pass off specific services to the provider, though you remain the employer of record.

Insperity, ADP, Paychex, and G&A Partners offer both types of arrangements. Gusto and Bambee function as HROs only.

Service Selection

Once you know which arrangement you want, it’s time to hone in on a provider who can handle your specific HR workload.

If you’re looking to offload HR responsibility and liability entirely, any of the PEO or full-service HR providers I recommend will be able to handle anything you throw at them. 

Of course, if you need some speciality service, it’s best to find a provider with experience. But most people wouldn’t have to worry about having to switch providers in order to get a certain task handled.

Companies that want to develop HR in-house while outsourcing a few tasks need to be a little more careful. Are you getting the ability to pick and choose services, or selecting from a package deal?

ADP and Paychex are a great place to start your search if you are looking to be selective. You pick and choose the services you need à la carte. After you get in touch, these companies will create a customized package to fit your needs.

You might find what you need with one of the “off-the-shelf” HR outsourcing packages from a company like Gusto. This bundles a bunch of common HR services at a lower price than you could get purchasing them individually.

So you get a better deal, but less flexibility to choose the exact services you want.

Support When You Need It

If you’re keeping a lot of your HR in-house, you may only need support every once in a while. Once everything is up and running, a quick monthly chat and then a little heavier collaboration come tax time might just do the trick.

Say you go the full-service route–you better be dead sure that you can get someone on the line as soon as possible. Otherwise all the complex stuff you thought you were outsourcing is going to blow back on you.

The options I’ve picked are highly reviewed and have a dependable track record. But you still have to do your own digging.

During the onboarding process, submit enough tickets to see what their customer service is really like. If you’re struggling to get an answer at that point, it’s only going to get worse from there.

So if you are going for one of the all-in solutions, I’d pay very close attention to the support quality. For the most part, companies that are keeping more HR resources in house just need predictable responses during service hours to get by.

Employee Services Make People Happy

If employees can’t just walk down the hall to HR because it’s been outsourced, they need to be able to get answers without a hassle.

An employee who onboards easily and gets paid on-time is going to have a much different impression of their workplace than someone who struggles getting set up and has the wrong deduction on their first paycheck.

Show people you have your act together. Make things as easy on employees as possible. They can focus on their work instead of waiting for a password reset they didn’t ask for.

Employees should feel confident using the self-service portal. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a simple site where they can view W2’s, schedule paid time off, check their benefits, and so on.

A mobile app is definitely a plus from an employee perspective. Especially if it works as well as the desktop version. 

And here’s the thing, all the convenience of employee-service means less work for their managers. No tracking down paperwork, ever. It’s a true win/win.

As you’re browsing, dig into the support documentation a little bit. Is it clear? Is it enough to help an employee switch their tax status when they get married, for example?

The more people can solve on their own, the better for everyone.

Summary

Insperity is my top recommendation for people who are looking to outsource HR entirely. It’s incredibly flexible with the ability to handle businesses of all shapes and sizes. Plus, they offer a wide range of services to help make your life easier. 

But that doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. You may find that one of my other top picks is going to work a lot better for you. Here’s a recap of my recommendations:

  1. Insperity – Best for outsourcing all your HR responsibilities
  2. ADP – Best for outsourcing HR piece-by-piece
  3. Paychex – Best for businesses with frustrating regulations
  4. Gusto – Best for companies with fewer than 100 employees
  5. Bambee – Best for supporting your in-house HR team
  6. G&A Partners – Best full-service HR for SMBs

If you read the reviews, you should have a fairly clear picture of which options are going to work. As I said, these providers offer very different ways of taking your HR stress away.

And if you are having trouble making a decision, follow the links and reach out to the provider directly. The first time you make contact will tell you a lot about the quality of service you’re going to get.

How do you handle human resources at your company?

[…]

SEO

How to Create an Eye-Catching Instagram Ad

April 15, 2021 0

Like all issues in advertising, there’s no single silver bullet to discover success with Instagram promoting. Though it may be a extremely profitable advert channel for manufacturers of all sizes and is among the many […]