10 Ways to Amplify Content Promotion Strategies

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Generating content is the first step in engaging your audience, but your job isnt quite done once the content is out there. In order to get the most out of your content, you need to understand how to market what you have. Employing content promotion strategies can help boost your reach. Here are 10 ways you can expose your content to more prospects.

1. Ask For Contributions from Top Influencers

By publishing content, you automatically leverage the attention of your existing audience, but tapping into a bigger influencers larger base can open up your content to a wider crowd. How do you do this? Simply cite and link to top influencers when applicable. When you mention these influencers, you have a good chance of getting them to share the content, thereby exposing it to their audience.

Related Class: Finding Influencers to Amplify Social Reach

2. Give Those Influencers Meaningful Incentives

If you hope for an influencer to share your content, you must be prepared to give something in return. Give influencers an incentive, whether its a promotion or a product review, or any other form of mutual exchange. In turn, they are much more likely to help build your audience by sharing content on their platform.

3. Engage Niche Communities

It would be great to achieve mass appeal across a wide range of audiences, but that’s not how you should focus your attention. Instead, focus on the smaller segments that your content appeals to most. You might have content that specifically appeals to online marketers or the tech community; if thats the case, seek out places where these people tend to gravitate, and stay active in those communities.

4. Using the Skyscraper Technique

One way to create content with a built-in audience is to use the skyscraper technique. The idea behind this method is to find the best content thats already published by your competitors and build on it. Any content can be improved on with better design and more in-depth material. This isn’t the same as plagiarism, or spinning: borrowing ideas and making them better isn’t stealing. It’s how all writers, artists, thinkers and innovators thrive.

5. Create Hero Content

Rather than focusing on quantity of content, work on bigger and better content. Concentrate on producing resources that can be marketed and promoted, and spend the effort getting it out to the community.

Related Class: Creating and Curating Content People Love

6. Use Native Advertising

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Native advertising is paid content that fits into the standard structure of a site. Native advertising usually performs better than something like a banner ad, as long as it doesnt come off as pushy, or clash with the tone of your site.

7. Use Broken Links to Your Advantage

When you write powerful content, find other sites that have linked to similar articles, and identify those with broken links. You can use extensions to identify sites with broken links or broken redirects. Then, contact the staff to suggest your article as a replacement for the broken link or redirect. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it works. If they agree, that backlink will help your SEO for that particular page, thus improving the visibility in Google’s organic results for that article.

8. Buy Niche Property

If you are already a large Internet business, buying niche property is a viable option for you. While obviously an expensive prospect, acquiring an existing site that focuses on your market is a great way to quickly expand your platform and get your content out to the right audience.

9. Give Incentives to Sharers

Contests and access to exclusive content are both great ways to increase your audience’s engagement. If you provide them something in exchange for sharing your content, you can gain considerable growth directly from that incentive.

10. Use Snip.ly

Snip.ly is a tool for creating banners on the bottom of your content that links to other articles and resources on your site. This is a great way to keep site visitors around longer, which helps garner clicks and improve usability metrics.

Content promotion strategies can significantly boost your audience reach, which means more clicks, leads and sales. While I’ve touched on a number of these methods, don’t get overwhelmed: dedicating yourself to just one or a few can have a big impact.

Nick Rojas is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who’s enjoyed success working with and consulting for startups. Using his journalism training, Nick writes for publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. He concentrates on teaching small and medium-sized enterprises how best to manage their social media marketing and define their branding objectives.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Finding Influencers to Amplify Social ReachContent Marketing Strategy for Social MediaCreating and Curating Content People Love

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here!

Content Strategy: To Outsource or Not to Outsource?

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Over 200 million people use ad blockers, and that number is continuing to rise. This means that traditional online advertising is less visible than ever. In fact, the day may come when old methods fall entirely out of use. On the other hand, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional advertising, generates three times as much traffic, and is still an excellent way to market your brand. But who is going to do all the work?

In some cases, you can execute a content strategy alone or internally. In other cases, outsourcing content writing will definitely serve you well. Take the time to learn when and how to pass content marketing tasks to someone else.

Relevant Class: Introduction to Content Marketing Strategy

First, Discover the Right Time to Outsource

Can you handle your content strategy execution alone? It is a lot of work, and the idea of delegating it to someone else is enticing. But consider carefully before making any decisions. Here are criteria to help assess what’s best for you:

Reasons you should consider outsourcing content writing:

  1. Your internal team is running short on time or simply does not have the necessary skills.
  2. You have the budget to hire a specialized content writer.
  3. You understand the difference between freelancers and agencies.
  4. The project you are working on does not require much personal interaction.
  5. You can find a content writer / marketer specializing in your niche.
  6. You are clear on the process a freelancer or agency will take to complete the required tasks.
  7. You have or will set measurable, attainable content marketing goals.
  8. Content will compliment your other marketing and advertising efforts.

Reasons you should wait to outsource:

  1. You are not clear on your content marketing goals.
  2. You do not have the budget to hire someone.
  3. Someone on your team can handle the workload.
  4. You do not know whether a freelancer or agency would be the best fit for your project.
  5. Your current project requires too much personal interaction to be worth your time.
  6. Content marketing will not work with your current marketing efforts (this is rare).
  7. You cannot find the right person, externally, for the job.
  8. Your team has plenty of time to complete the tasks, and can train for certain aspects.

Relevant Class: Creating and Curating Content People Love

Which of the above scenarios looks more like your current situation? If you have taken stock of the relevant factors and think it’s time to hire help, read on. If not, invest your energy preparing for the time when you will want to outsource: raise the funds, learn about agencies vs. freelancers, and have a plan for securing help when you need it.

Then, Learn How Outsourcing Content Strategy Works

You might think outsourcing your content creation is as easy as a quick google search, contact with a professional, and sending an outline of your parameters. After that, you may expect your content marketing to work miraculously on auto-pilot. Sadly, this is not the case. There is much more that goes into it. This is how to outsource for true success.

Step 1: Set Measurable, Attainable Goals

If you have not already set measurable, attainable goals for your content strategy, this should be done right away. The aim of a new strategy is critical for success. No matter who you choose to hire, there must be a way to know whether or not the plan is working. As you move forward with any content strategy, you should analyze to see what is working, what’s not working, and make adjustments accordingly. When it comes time to interview someone for the position, they should know your goals, so they can judge whether they are right for the job.

Step 2: Create a List of Blog Topics That Can be Written

As the manager of this project, in the beginning at least, it is your job to come up with potential topics to be written. Whether you are posting everything on your own blog or using the content as part of a backlinking strategy - like guest posting on authority blogs - the topics you choose should be relevant to your target audience, or provide SEO value.

Fortunately, there are helpful tools to make this process a breeze. Try these tools and services to come up with topic ideas quickly:

Step 3: Seek Out Specialized Talent

You can’t just hire any writer for your project. You need to have someone on board with experience in your niche. You don't want to hire someone specializing in law to work on an art blog. You don't want a naturopath writing on a blog designed to promote prescription medications. So although writing skills are important, they are secondary to specialized experience. If you're especially concerned about proper style, you can bring an editor to the project as well.

It’s difficult to say where your perfect freelancer or agency is hiding. Try looking on freelancer websites, check out the recommended agencies listed with your marketing platform, consider academic writing services, and/or post an ad on a job website. The more people you interview, the higher your chances of finding the right person for the job.

When it comes time to hire the right person, make sure that your current strategy, goals, topic ideas, and expectations are laid out up front. Choose a freelancer or agency that is experienced and confident in helping you execute your strategy, and check their work. You may want to add your own personal flair, or make changes to the final product until your new employee understands exactly how you want your articles.

Conclusion

Now you know when outsourcing content marketing is appropriate and how it works. If you’re ready, follow the steps above to start your journey towards content marketing success.

Janice Kersh is a freelance writer with vast experience in content marketing. In her spare time, she likes to cook, read sci-fi, and write in her blog - Janice Writing.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Creating and Curating Content People LoveIntroduction to Content Marketing StrategyContent Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

8 Ways to Turn a Negative Online Review into a Loyal Client

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In the age of social media, things can turn ugly fast. Small incidents turn into crises, which can become a public relations nightmare spreading bad press about your business to your current users/clients, and even to those who have never even heard of you. Dealing with these situations requires a level head, and a good crisis management plan. But part of avoiding full-blown crisis is responding to individual complaints effectively, whenever they arise.

It’s never fun to find a negative online review about your company. Whether the review is an honest account of a client’s experience, or the result of a partnership gone sour, it can be very discouraging. However, a negative review can also be a great opportunity to create a loyal client.

Remember that leaving a negative review takes effort. The easiest way for a client to handle an issue is to terminate their relationship with your business and go their merry way. The fact that they have taken the time to write and post a review indicates that they would probably like some response from you. Any feedback, positive or negative from a client is an opportunity for your business to grow and improve.

Here are 8 ways to turn a negative online review into a loyal client.

1. Listen

The first way to turn a bad online review into a positive experience is listening to the client’s complaint or story. This means putting ego and defensiveness aside. Read between the lines. For example, if they mention that their account representative didn’t respond in a timely manner, the real issue is that they felt your team wasn’t reliable, or a resource they could turn to in a crisis.

For B2B firms, most phone calls and emails are returned the same day or within 24 hours during the work week. However, when there is a crisis for a client or an urgent request, those need to be prioritized. We’ve all encountered a crisis at work, and we remember the folks who helped and the folks who didn’t. By really listening to the issue that has caused the negative review, you are taking a first step towards resolving the problem and addressing the client’s real concern.

2. Research

Your gut reaction and management’s directive may be responding to a negative review immediately. While quick response time is a priority, you should never act in haste. Research what happened with the client. Talk to the people involved and get the facts. Whether the client is right or wrong isn’t the priority; you want to assess the situation reasonably, and determine the underlying factors.

The priority during your research should be to determine what happened and how to resolve the issue or complaint. If you discover that your team honestly did everything to accommodate the client, then it may be a case where an explanation is needed. Many negative online reviews are caused by misunderstandings or miscommunication. Assemble all the facts, including dates, times, and the people involved so you can draft a coherent, thoughtful reply.

3. Apologize

A great response to a negative online review should start with an apology. It doesn’t have to be an apology about what transpired, but it should take the client's experience seriously - clients are human beings with feelings. If you don’t validate a client’s feelings in any way, they are unlikely to be receptive.

For example, you can start your response with, “We are sorry to hear that you had a negative experience with our customer service team.” Apologizing in this case is not accepting blame for the situation, but shows that you understand their experience was a negative one. Conversely, if you discover in your research that your team was at fault, it’s best to accept blame immediately. This kind of apology could be, “We are sorry that we inadvertently overcharged you for services last month. We accept responsibility for that and are working to reverse the charges immediately.” Whether the issue causing the review is your firm’s fault or not, always begin by acknowledging the negative experience, and apologizing for it.

4. Empathize

The best way to address a negative review is to show empathy. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. We’ve all been frustrated when we can’t access an online account, or forget a password, or experience a product failure. Relate to your client’s frustration and show that you understand their experience.

The main challenge that businesses face here is the temptation to patronize, or express dry sympathy. Saying things like, “I’m sure that is frustrating” or “You must be so frustrated” or “It’s not a big deal” can be insulting. The latter statement is condescending, and the first two are examples of sympathy instead of empathy. The difference between these two states is subtle, but very important: to sympathize with someone is to express regret at their situation. To empathize with them is to show that you relate with their experiences, and know what it's like to be them.

State your empathy in a genuine manner. Really mean what you are saying. Something along the lines of, “We understand how frustrating it can be to have login problems during a meeting with the boss.” In the majority of negative reviews, people just want to be heard and understood. Show that your business listens by empathizing with their situation.

5. Resolve

Don’t bother responding to a review if you don’t have a resolution. Always, always offer a resolution to your reviewer. If you need more information from them to provide a resolution, offer a contact name and number so they can get in touch. Let the negative reviewer know what you need to resolve their issue and how you plan to do it.

In many cases, you may not be able to ferret out enough information during the research phase to resolve the issue. In these situations, the resolution is to give the name and email/phone number of a particular problem solver and ask the reviewer to get in touch at their convenience. A great way to address this is by saying, “We apologize for the error you mentioned in your review. We’d like to work with you to resolve this issue. Please connect with Jeremy by calling 555-5555 at your convenience. Jeremy is aware of your feedback and is ready to help you find a resolution.”

In my experience, half the time the negative reviewer will follow up and work towards a resolution. The other half, the simple act of reaching out resolves the issue by itself. The best part is that responding with a resolution shows other clients and potential clients that your business is responsive, and works to resolve issues issues when they arise.

6. Respond

It’s important that you not only respond to the negative review online, but respond to any questions or requests the client may have afterwards. If they get in touch, make every effort to respond quickly. Everyone who interfaces with that particular client should be aware of the situation so they can work together to repair the relationship. Taking this type of approach often makes clients grateful, which in turn creates loyalty. They know that even when the going gets tough, you’ll work with them. Just like friendships, when things are great, everyone is your “friend,” but when you have an argument, misunderstanding, or make a mistake, the people you really trust work with you towards a resolution.

7. Correct

Once the review has been responded to and the client’s issue has been resolved, you aren’t done. It’s time to correct the issue. Does the internal team need additional training? Is there a bug with your software that needs to be resolved? Do you need a new approach for managing clients? Taking steps to correct the problem and prevent the same issue in the future is essential.

When the issue is corrected, whether it takes days, weeks, or months, it’s important to acknowledge the fix and communicate it to your client base if appropriate. If you followed all the tips above and were able to reverse the negative experience for the client, taking the additional step to incorporate their feedback and fix the issue for all clients shows that you take feedback seriously. Clients become loyal when they know you are listening, and take their input seriously.

8. Follow-up

Following up with the negative reviewer is the final step, regardless of how the situation was resolved. If your team was able to address the issue for the client and has continued working with the client, it’s important to follow-up after time has passed. This can be a quick check-in to see whether they are happy, whether they have any feedback on the process, or if they see anywhere else your firm can improve. This lets them know their feedback is valued.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if the client never responded and ended their relationship with your firm, it’s still important to follow-up in a non-invasive manner. Don’t be pushy, but do send some form of follow-up whether it be an email, a letter, or voicemail. These are delicate communications and should indicate that while you are sorry to lose their business, you found their feedback to be valuable and are always working to improve your products and services. They may not respond, but making an effort to repair the relationship is always worthwhile.

jeremy

Jeremy Durant is Business Principal at Bop Design, a B2B web design and digital marketing firm. Jeremy works closely with businesses in need of a website, marketing and branding strategy, helping them to their unique value proposition and ideal customer profile. Jeremy received his BA from Merrimack College and his MBA from California State University, San Marcos. His writing has been featured in EContent Magazine, PublishThis, Marketing Agency Insider, Visibility Magazine, and Spin Sucks.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Crisis Management with Social Media, Twitter PR and Crisis Management

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

Improve Conversion Rates With Data Democratization

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One of the most critical components of web analytics and conversion rate optimization is interpreting data, analyzing it, and turning it around like a Rubik’s cube. For instance, you can rotate and arrange the traditional 3x3x3 cube in 43 quintillion ways – 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 to be precise. Similarly, you can build billions of models from your data. However, only one of these models will give you the best conversion rate, and this is the elusive Holy Grail you must find to maximize your efforts.

Let me illustrate this with another example. As you can see in the image below, there are 3 expressways you can take to go from Chicago to Wyoming. The shortest route is the 196, but if you take a detour and go via 131, you might end up adding an hour to your journey. There are a couple of other routes to get there too, but both will take longer.

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Image Source: Google Maps screenshot

In the same way, any of your conversion tactics can prove lucrative and get you to your goal, but one will get you there faster than the others.

So how do you find the perfect, elusive model to reach the optimum conversion rate? The answer lies in data democratization, data decentralization, and data transparency. Let’s dig a bit further into the whys and hows of revolutionary data processes so you can play around with the data you’ve collected and find your conversion sweet-spot.

Data Democratization

We have more data than ever before, sometimes more than we know what to do with. If you were to narrow down data and scrutinize bounce rates on Google Analytics, you would probably start with entry and exit pages, then move on to user flow, keywords, location, language, device, browser compatibility, site speed, and more.

This is just one issue (bounces) and one data source (Google Analytics). Now imagine you add legacy data, POS transactions, social media conversations, survey results or feedback collected from trade events, and make inferences from the pool of data available: even if you are an insatiable data glutton, you’ll be quickly overwhelmed!

It is inappropriate, impractical, and immature to restrict data to the elite few, whether they are CEOs or domain-specialized data scientists, and expect them to make sense out of it for everyone. This is why 2016 has been heralded as the year of data democratization. Data democratization ensures everyone in an organization has access to data, and is therefore in a better position to make decisions.

Finish Line, an athletic apparel and footwear retailer with nearly 700 physical and online outlets, uses POS data, loyalty data, social streams, and beacon data to improve one-on-one communication and up-sell to customers. The results were impressive: Stephanie Bleymaier, Director of Digital Personalization and Loyalty, reported a 50% increase in email open rates and a 30% rise in return on social media ad spend. Guess where that would have taken conversions?

Related Class: Leverage Social & Customer Data for Email Relevancy

Other departments were able to “increase their efficiency...by tapping into the data pool,” Stephanie said. The first priority for any decent collaboration and data management tool is making data available to all users, ensuring healthy debate, consensus, leading to quicker, more informed decision-making.

The idea of data democratization may cause worries over security. But to protect sensitive data, you can use a sophisticated collaboration tool that offers secure file sharing, access control and group or individual level permissions, ensuring data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. For instance, campaign tracking and project management tool WorkZone allows users to share sensitive data and plans securely with a particular team, giving each person access to just the right amount of information.

workzone

Image Source: WorkZone screenshot

With this tool, users can send emails, comment, make changes or record meeting notes to data resources that are relevant to them. WorkZone also automates the approval workflow, sending requests to managers, tracking responses, and recording access. This way the entire team stays informed, and you have an organized, time-stamped record of all activity.

Data Decentralization

As we saw above, data democratization bought a significant jump in email open rates for Finish Line, but democratizing doesn’t happen on its own. You need to make your data more intelligent and intuitive for any layman to understand. A standard practice of data democratization is to collect data from all touch points and make it available to each and every user. This is known as data centralization.

From the conversion point of view, data centralization is an exercise in profiling every customer, by collecting data on their preferences and behavior from CRM, point of sale, logistics, customer services incident management, and other systems, integrating all of it in one common data bank. When you enter a particular query about the customer, their data is processed, de-duplicated, and cleaned to give you accurate search results in a simple, transparent and aesthetically pleasing format.

This is how data is crunched, in a cost-effective way in large organizations.

This is the way things have been done up until now.

This is a bad way to democratize data.

Data centralization makes your analytics sluggish and its results are unintuitive. Here’s an analogy: say you are a data scientist or a user, your furniture is your data, and your house is a storage unit. Data centralization means you put all your furniture in one single unit or a room so you have a single point of access. Now imagine finding and pulling something out of such a room.

Data decentralization means letting your data stay where it is, so each unit is able to localize, process, and analyze data in an agile manner. This way, you go directly to the kitchen if you need to access the chopping table, and consequently, get the job done quickly.

Telecom major Vodafone successfully kept their decentralized systems in operation and created a unified view of customer data for their customer service agents, while minimizing data replication by using Denodo’s data virtualization platform. Denodo added a data virtualization layer to legacy systems, liberating data by keeping it where it was, but allowing users to get a complete, updated view of customer data, even though it was scattered across disparate sources.

denodo

Image Source: Denodo

Vodafone was able to reduce average service response time from 6 to 2 minutes. They also found better upselling and cross-selling opportunities, retained more customers, and stretched the usability of existing data infrastructure as a result.

Related Class: Drowning in Data: How to Effectively Leverage Web Analytics

Data Transparency

The last piece of the puzzle is to increase the clarity and comprehensibility of data. When I say “data transparency,” I mean inside and outside the organization. In a bold move, Omniconvert (formerly Marketizator) announced a product revamp strategy that allows marketers and customers to decide on the features and capabilities for what they call “the first democratic CRO software.”

Source: Omniconvert screenshot

Perhaps Omniconvert’s strategy is risky. But it is also rewarding. It allows organizations to build products while maintaining close contact with their communities, ensuring customers get what they want. With this master stroke, Omniconvert has banded experts and users together to create a successful product that has the features and agility of an open source platform while maintaining the reliability and robustness of proprietary software.

Valentin Radu, CEO and founder at Omniconvert is optimistic about the move since “everyone can publicly see the priorities of the features as they are voted for.” The whole voting system is completely transparent, as every planned update with new features is publicly shown on the site. There’s also video streaming of all the kick-off meetings, making the whole process more engaging and open-sourced.

Over to You

These are just a few ways you can liberate data and make it more accessible to users, getting you to your goals faster. How does your organization use data in creative and intelligent ways to increase conversions? Let’s hear your stories in the comments below!

Tracy Vides is a content strategist and researcher who gives small business and entrepreneurs marketing and social media advice. Tracy is also a prolific blogger - her posts are featured on Engadget, She Owns It and Usability Geek. Connect with her on Twitter @TracyVides for a chat anytime!

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Leverage Social & Customer Data for Email RelevancyDrowning in Data: How to Effectively Leverage Web AnalyticsHow to Create a Data-Driven Culture

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

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Although the strict line that professional marketers have drawn between inbound and outbound marketing is disappearing over time, the difference between these strategies can almost be described as the difference between paid content marketing and display banner advertising. That description may be in the right ballpark, but it only lands us on first base.

There are a myriad of differences between inbound and outbound marketing (of which different conversion strategies are only a small part), differences which even celebrated thought leaders sometimes equate with the “old” and “new” dichotomy. This way of thinking rarely moves the ball forward for the rest of the marketing world.

When examined more closely, the relationship between inbound and outbound marketing is a bit more complicated, and that’s why we’ve dedicated this post to explaining the relationship between them in terms that marketers of all stripes are likely familiar with: Conversion Strategies, Target Audiences, and Offers. We recognize the ‘versus’ terminology that we employ to describe this relationship may seem to imply an opposition between them; it’s not meant to do that. It is more intended to set up a spectrum along which any marketer’s inbound or outbound tactics may fall, whether they are deployed for content strategy, an email marketing campaign, or the design of an advertisement—or perhaps most effectively, all three.

1. Conversion Strategy: Attraction versus Promotion

The motivational force behind attraction is a pull. The motivational force behind promotion is a push.

When marketers adopt inbound conversion strategies, such as content publication, they want to gently pull users and consumers in their direction, converting with an attractive offer. When they opt for outbound marketing strategies such as banner advertisements, they want to gently push users and consumers along a predefined path, converting with a promotional offer.

A standard inbound conversion strategy will more often reach for indirect methods of persuasion (like branded infographics or product placement) than a standard outbound conversion strategy, which will more often cut to the chase and make a direct offer. These outbound strategies might include “buy-one-get-one-free” promotions, discounts, and other types of financial incentives. The best marketers are often able to blend these two conversion strategies, perhaps opting first to gently push an outbound promotion to raise awareness of a free offer, and then placing additional, attractive information along the path toward accepting the original offer. This information can be designed to gently pull the user or consumer toward accepting an additional offer, and create enough loyalty to make them a paying customer. In fact, many successful software as a service (SaaS) companies, including LinkedInAncestry, and the popular buzzword search tool BuzzSumo, use this exact conversion funnel strategy to grow their customer bases.

2. Target Audience: Business-to-Business versus Business-to-Consumer

The art of targeted business messaging lies in the science of research. The art of targeted consumer messaging lies in the science of even more research.

Finding the right audience is one of the hardest parts of marketing. Die-hard proponents of inbound marketing strategies would probably tell us that’s why we should allow our ideal audience to find us, while die-hard advocates of outbound marketing strategy would probably tell us that’s why we construct ideal audience personas: to target those we suppose would be most interested in what we have to offer. The assumption underlying both suggestions is that business audiences will naturally gravitate toward subtle, inbound messaging since they are constantly looking to improve their business, whereas consumer audiences require a more robust, outbound message, since they are a more passive bunch.

But strategists who are dogmatic about either approach tend to miss the mark by overlooking the art and science of research—that is, listening rather than pushing new ads and pulling new leads. Some of the best marketing strategies are born from long stints of research and development, which culminate in the creation of the most relevant message reaching its most relevant audience. It’s often easier to research a business than it is to research a consumer. After all, there are fewer businesses on the planet than consumers, and consumers tend to change their preferences more frequently than businesses do. But taking the time to listen to an audience and shape our message around their proven needs and desires offers a much more lucrative payoff than leaving a trail of breadcrumbs or shouting into the void. As market research has shown, marketers for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies can make good use of Facebook analytics to discover and monitor new target markets.

Related Class: Facebook Advertising and Targeting

3. Offers: Education of User versus Sale to Consumer

An offer of educational information is perceived to be more valuable by users of services. A promotional sales offer is perceived to be more valuable by consumers of goods.

Value is more often determined in the eye of the consumer than in the eye of the supplier, at least in a free market. When it comes to goods and services online, the case is no different. But there is a difference in our marketing expectations for service providers and suppliers of goods. The expectation for marketers of services, particularly SaaS, is that they should adopt an inbound marketing strategy by publishing content like blogs and videos, whereas we expect marketers of goods to adopt an outbound marketing strategy by pushing online promotions such as discounts and free shipping.

The problem with these expectations is that they often force young SaaS companies and commercial online vendors to make uninteresting offers to users and consumers who want to see more than another marketing agency infographic or commercial website sign-up coupon. Some of the best and biggest companies have risen to the top because they balance educational information with promotional sales. The increasingly popular massive open online course (MOOC) providers like UdacityCoursera, and edX are excellent examples of what can happen when we hybridize user education with promotional sales, as their business is premised on offering a quality education for 1 percent, and sometimes 0% the cost of taking an equivalent college or university course. Imagine what could happen if more companies started flipping the script, and commercial websites like Amazon began offering courses in web sales, while marketing agencies began offering bundle deals on memberships with their company that included access to all their best content. Content entrepreneurs and educators at Online Marketing Institute are already doing this with the provision of corporate training courses and certifications, the former of which specifically prepare business teams to expand their inbound and outbound online marketing expertise, while the latter helps individuals gain expertise in online marketing on the whole

Such hybridity is the lifeblood of the marketing era we find ourselves in now, an era that demands innovation every day.

A version of this article first appeared on BestMarketingDegrees.org

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Top of the Funnel Tactics for Inbound Marketing, Facebook Advertising and TargetingContent Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

How to Get More Traffic to Your Blog in the New Year

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For most of us, the new year is motivation to sort out our digital mess, clear the inbox and fix old bugs. I like starting a new year with the feeling of old stuff being sorted. This way I feel better prepared for new projects and challenges in the New Year.

As business owners and marketers, one of the things we tend to put off is sorting out our blogs. We’ve become accustomed to handling small inconveniences and bugs. Many of us can  barely find time to publish new content let alone find the time to research the  countless new plugins available or update old articles.

Well, I hate to break it on you, but getting all that technical staff in order is probably more important than publishing new content. Lack of security opens you up to the risk  of losing all your precious content. . Slow pages and broken links means lost readers and conversions. You need to start thinking about your blog performance now, so you can  start the new year with a better converting, more successful blog. So what to do to first?

Fear not, this checklist will take you through the complicated lists of plugins and tools, so  you can get right down to execution.

Step 1: Fix or remove broken links

One of the most widespread issues with a website of any age is broken links. Broken links present both SEO and usability issues. The more broken links your site has, the less trustworthy it looks both to a user and a web crawler. You may have no control over pages that go down over time (resulting in broken external links) but you are fully responsible for the links that you have on your pages, even older ones.

It's impossible to keep track of broken links and images, even if you have a smaller site. You need a reliable tool to handle this for you.

Netpeak Spider is an ideal solution for larger-scale websites. It's a desktop program, so you won't have compatibility issues with your browser. It’s also fast, and very flexible - you don't have to be an SEO expert to use it. Just run the tool regularly and fix new errors as they are found. Look for errors in red, those are the most important to eliminate.

netspeak

If you have a small blog, make sure to install the awesome Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin. It may slow your site down if you have too many pages, but it works great for blogs with under ~500 articles.

To avoid slow-downs and downtimes, you should disable automatic crawling to make sure it will run a new report on demand.

The plugin saves a ton of time by letting you remove broken links right from its dashboard.

linkchecker

Step 2: Keep an eye on your site security

Did you know that around 37,000 websites are hacked every day? It's no joke! Even with some security measures taken, you still run the risk of getting hacked. Huge sites, with multi-million dollar budgets like Yahoo! and LinkedIn are regularly hacked, and WordPress is not the most secure environment out there.

A proactive measure is submitting your website to  Google's Search Console. They have one of the largest databases of compromised websites, and they almost instantly know once a new site has been hacked. They will send you an email once they notice anything weird with your website so you can take measures on the spot.

Now that we have monitoring in order, make sure you have taken these steps:

  • Always update your WordPress version as soon as possible, and update your plugins as well.
  • Always install well-trusted plugins. Search Google before installing anything and only install from the wordpress.org website.
  • Never keep "admin" as a user. Come up with a different username for the blog administrator and use a powerful password (later versions of WordPress will generate a good one, so just go with it).
  • Use Login LockDown to limit login attempts.
  • Never login to your blog using public WiFi, never give anyone admin access unless you know and trust them, never give anyone permissions to upload anything to your blog (use standard contributor permissions for your site contributors).

Step 3: Make sure you address downtime timely

How often is your site down? According to these stats, even the most popular hosting providers have terrible uptime numbers. Your site may be down without you even realizing. Being offline is one of the worst thing that can happen to a digital entity. It means your website visitors have nowhere to click, no way to get in touch with you, and no way to engage.

Try Monitority to be notified whenever your  site is down. The tool is absolutely free and the moment your site goes down, your email is pinged so you can look into the problem right away. If you have a few sites to manage, give Pingdom a try. It has some cool analytics and monitoring reports you'll find useful. Pingdom also talks to the monitoring dashboard with Cyfe.

cyfe

Step 4. Find better keywords for your old content

Your content can be outstanding, and people may still not be able to find it. That means wasted effort. It's a new year coming, time to make the most of your old content so you’re ready to create new articles.

Try Serpstat to discover good keywords and optimize older articles. Just take a core term from your article, run it in Serpstat and set the competition filter between 0% and 3% to discover relevant phrases that may take you on top of Google's search results page.

results

Step 5. Try and push those search positions higher

There are tons of search queries that your site is already ranking for. You may be unaware of those because they rank below the fold and hence they are not sending too much traffic. However, these are often keywords that have huge potential.

Try Google's Search Console "Search Analytics" feature to show you which search queries are driving traffic to your blog. Make sure to check a box called "Position" (for some reason, it's unchecked by default). This way you'll see your page average position for each search query.

analytics

If the average position of a keyword is 5 or lower but it's driving traffic, this means two things:

  • It will send tons of visits if it's #1 or even #3.
  • It is not that hard to push it higher, without additional effort.

What to do with these keywords:

  • Discover which exact pages are ranking for the term.
  • Use this WordPress plugin to send more internal links to that page.

Usually, this quick exercise results in 2-3 higher positions and therefore better traffic.

Are you ready to take action? Hopefully this checklist will get you started. Happy New Year!

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

The Best Growth Marketing Strategies for B2B Businesses

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Although B2B business has always been in the shadow of B2C, the field has demonstrated significant growth over the past year. The industry continues to mature and attract more prospects, as companies adopt effective strategies to increase profits and engage more clients.

Some reviewers cite companies like Alibaba and Amazon to support the claim that B2B companies are becoming more like B2C.  The B2B world seems to increasingly recognize the importance of customer experience and service, a domain it has historically neglected.

Apparently, this approach is paying off significantly. In the U.S., B2B e-commerce is already twice as large as B2C e-commerce. The same trend will likely expand to the international arena in the near future.

What specific strategies lie behind the success of modern B2B companies? Let’s find out.

Social Media Engagement

The role of social media for B2B companies continues to increase. Previously, this field has been dominated by B2C companies because it grants them access to an enormous client base. However, in recent years, social media has been increasingly used by companies that provide services to other companies, especially through Facebook ads. You have probably seen them in your news feeds; they invite you to connect with the business by visiting their site to request a quote or demo. There's definitely a strategy to marketing your B2B company with Facebook, so make sure you adequately understand the Facebook sales funnel.

Besides providing great opportunities to use digital advertising, social media networks are a good way to engage with your existing customer base and answer questions from potential customers. With social media, getting in touch with a company is convenient and low-commitment, providing prospects with an easy way to reach out and learn more.

The most effective social media profiles contain “contact us” buttons that encourage viewers to click them and visit the company website. Given that more than half of international B2B companies use social media, adding it to your B2B company’s online presence is a no-brainer.

LinkedIn Presence

The first international network for professionals has emerged as a great marketing tool for B2B companies. According to Jerome Knyszewski from Heavyshift Marketing, LinkedIn has generated 80 percent of B2B leads out of 100,000 posts, while the closest competitor Twitter raked in only 12.7 percent. Facebook is third with just 6 percent. Several years ago, LinkedIn was primarily used as a way of connecting with colleagues and business partners, but its function has evolved to include lead generation by connecting with businesses.

For example, experienced B2B owners say that a series of messages are sent to the representatives of companies as part of their marketing process. According to Martin Morgan, a senior marketer from Proessaywriting, this strategy works just like a standard lead generating and nurturing approach and is supposed to build relationships with potential partners.

For more information on engaging with potential contacts on LinkedIn, learn how to create a LinkedIn engagement strategy.

Use of Targeted Content

Targeted content marketing is another method of attracting customers that was initially applied mainly by B2C companies. Content is increasingly recognized as a primary factor in the decision to engage with a company because it helps to connect, entertain, educate, and improve brand image.

B2B businesses have recognized the importance of content for reaching new clients, and now use it to drive consideration and influence purchase decisions, in addition to building brand awareness. Examples of effective content include research reports, digital magazines, infographics, articles, and videos.

Email Marketing

More than 70 percent of marketers today consider email marketing to be a vital strategy because it allows for concise and clear communication. B2B companies have been using it for quite a while now. Many great email marketing strategies have been developed specifically for B2B, many of which you can learn about by following thought leaders, taking online classes, following leading blogs in the space, etc.

For example, in this Smart Insights article we learn that Dropbox emails its users to promote installation of its desktop/mobile app by  focusing on benefits of installing the product. Hubspot uses emails to inform its customers about upcoming webinars, and details specific benefits of joining an event to increase turnout.

Clearly, email marketing is a great method that can be used to connect with potential clients and show them the benefits of collaborating with a company. By leveraging your subscriber lists, client retention, up-selling opportunities and lead generation are benefits that can be gained at a relatively low cost. Be sure to understand the ins and outs of a comprehensive email marketing strategy.

Mobile Marketing

The mobile experience is a big deal nowadays. Successful B2B companies are increasingly launching  mobile-optimized websites because mobile traffic volume has widely exceeded desktop traffic. Mobile apps are often developed to accompany mobile sites and provide an even more enjoyable and fluid experience for users. According to Bizible, 83 percent of B2B marketers use mobile marketing tools like apps and websites to connect with clients, generate and nurture leads, and take advantage of cutting-edge technologies including voice recognition, QR scanners, and GPS systems.

Among the most surprising technologies in mobile B2B marketing is text messaging. SMS has been used by many companies, from cab services to electronic shops, to inform clients about upcoming deals and new offers. In addition to  advertising, companies often include personalized messages to gain customers’ attention, and build rapport. According to Bizible, SMS follow-up after a phone call increases conversion by up to 112 percent. Therefore, if you’re dialing your clients, you should definitely be texting them.

Personalization

Personalization strategies have proven to be effective in B2B and B2C companies. Just as it is important for a company to demonstrate its uniqueness through creative and effective branding, it is important to acknowledge the uniqueness of a customer. Personalization can be defined as a way of  “presenting information to a consumer that acknowledges whom he/she is and what his intentions are — to make his/her interaction more meaningful.” Personalization makes interaction with a company more positive and individualized, making it more memorable.

In B2B, personalization can be applied through various means, including website design, social media, loyalty programs, packaging, phone and chat, ad networks, landing pages, wish lists, opt-in and transaction emails. The end results of a robust personalization strategy include higher conversion rates, and client satisfaction.

Conclusion

B2B companies continue to demonstrate growth, and marketing strategies are a main reason for their success. The strategies described in this article are proven to work for many B2B companies, so don’t be afraid to start applying them today!

Tom Jager is professional blogger. He works at A-writer.  He has degree in Law and English literature. Tom has written numerous articles/online journals. You can reach him at G+ or Facebook.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Mastering the Facebook Sales FunnelCreating a LinkedIn Engagement Strategy, Email Marketing Tactics

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

5 Major Content Marketing Trends You Can Expect in 2017

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Ah, content marketing.

Influenced heavily by Google’s algorithms, content marketing has the undivided interest of entrepreneurs and internet marketers around the globe. Marketers know that using content for SEO is more affordable than traditional advertising, but improvements to search engine algorithms (and rapidly changing consumer demand) means it’s never been more difficult to stay in the limelight.

2017 will usher in a new, dense tangle of requirements for content marketers; but before we take a glimpse at the upcoming challenges, let’s take a moment to review what happened to content marketing in 2016:  

Content Marketing in 2016 Became:

  • Saturated. Statistics show that over 2 million blog posts are published daily, in addition to millions of YouTube videos, GIFs, infographics, and other types of written and visual content. Simply put, the amount of content online is cluttering the digital world.  
  • Focused on “Behind the Scenes” Strategies: The enormous amount of visual and written media released in 2016 made content marketing heavily dependent on “behind the scenes strategies” like promotion and outreach.
  • Ruled by Niches: Marketers today have two options: make your content visible, or allow it to become lost in the jungle. To make their way through the thicket of blogs, videos, and infographics, effective marketers used niche sites to zero in on their target audience.

With this background information in mind, let’s take a look at 5 content marketing trends you can expect in 2017:

1. Visual Content Will Become Crucial

We’ve already seen  the power that Facebook Video and YouTube Live hold. In 2017, this growing demand for visual media will skyrocket. A combination of live and staged videos will be used by brands that are openly embracing the inevitable change from written to visual media.

What to do:

Visual content is arguably one of the most time-consuming types of content creation.  Thanks to improvements in technology, creating branded videos and images isn’t as difficult as it once was.

Without a budget:

Startup companies and small businesses already have the tools they need to begin creating visual content: company cell phones and computers. Through a combination of social apps like Snapchat, and broadcasting sites like the ones listed below, your business can start building a visual content strategy that won’t stretch your budget.

A few (free) sites to consider include:

It's also a good idea to publish visual content on free sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, which have a primarily visual focus, and massive audiences.

With a budget:

Brands with a small marketing budget should consider pairing the free solutions above with the work of a professional videographer, photographer, or media agency. Professionals like these can help to plan a unique visual content strategy that captures your brand’s unique personality. 

2. Shifting Focus to Data and Retention

Marketing is an industry driven by two factors: results and data. For content marketers, showing how a blog can drive return traffic and therefore sales is difficult - without the right tools, that is.

What to Do: If you’re not already using analytics tools to track your basic content marketing efforts, it’s time to get started. Many agencies use Google Analytics to track basic site data, then expand on that tool with diversified metric tracking tools like:

  • Bitly
  • Linkody
  • Cyfe
  • SEM Rush
  • Hubspot Marketing Automation
  • Ahrefs
  • Kissmetrics
  • CrazyEgg
  • Piwik
  • SimilarWeb
  • Moz OSE

Be sure to learn more about how data analytics can be leveraged to improve the quality of your website, and increase conversions.

3. Mobile Compatibility Will Be Key

These days, it’s rare to see millennials (even baby boomers!) without a cell phone clutched tightly in hand. Google has monitored the shift from computers to mobile phones closely; as a result, it’s rumored that the Goliath of search engines will make mobile users a  key focus in upcoming algorithm changes.

What to Do: If you don’t already have a responsive website, it’s time to invest in one. Content that is easy to read on mobile devices will be critical in 2017. Once a site is set up to support mobile, it’s time to craft content strategies that cater to mobile users. Mixing up content lengths and trying new formatting tricks are just two ways to optimize content for mobile use. A few other ideas include:

Integrating a mobile content strategy with mobile oriented PR and outreach can increase your exposure to audiences who primarily access the Web through mobile devices.

Remember: it’s likely that shorter-form content paired with minimal visual content will become more important as time goes on.

4. Distribution Will Rule

The internet is saturated with content – everything from plagiarized to carefully written articles can be found in just a few keystrokes. Because of the immense clutter, promotion of existing content will matter just as much as the quantity that’s produced.

What to do: Although there are hundreds of ways to promote content, social media and vertical content platforms will be essential in 2017.

Social platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter will become marketing staples as we progress into the new year. To reach very specific audiences, vertical platforms are highly recommended. A few “mainstream” examples of these emerging platforms include:

Industry: Home & Garden

  • Houzz
  • Zillow
  • Better Homes & Gardens

Industry: Pop Culture

  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • StumbleUpon

Industry: Internet Marketing

  • Moz
  • Hubspot
  • Contently
  • SEMRush

5. Interactive Content Will Be a Hallmark of Content Leaders

In 2017, brands using interactive content (such as quizzes, questionnaires, and worksheets) will become the thought and trend leaders of the content marketing industry. A few brands already engaging in interactive content include Buzzfeed, The Content Marketing Institute, and Kissmetrics.

How to do it: Whether you want to code your own interactive content or use a site that builds them for you (like ThingLink), start producing  interactive content of the kind  listed below.

  • Quizzes / Polls / Surveys
  • Interactive E-books
  • Interactive White Papers
  • Calculators
  • Responsive Images
  • Games
  • Maps
  • Interactive Infographics

Conclusion

By mixing a variety of these interactive assets into your content marketing strategy, you can attract and retain site visitors in your target audience.

To stay competitive in 2017, online marketers will need to stay agile and adapt to emerging content marketing trends. Creating mobile-friendly content and websites will be essential to maintaining a competitive edge: once a site is optimized for mobile, build systems for creating and distributing visual content assets. After reviewing updated data on returning visitors and bounce rates, adjust your strategy to boost retention and conversions.

Angela Higbee is the director of the content marketing agency, Progressive Creativity. She spends most of her time doing business and reading; away from “the desk,” she can be found with family or exploring the Colorado outdoors with her dog.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: B2B Social Visual Storytelling on Instagram, Pinterest & TumblrLeveraging AnalyticsMobile PR & Content Marketing

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

The Importance of Immediacy in Your Social Media Nurturing

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Most salespeople know that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.

Marketing and sales teams that take this idea to heart have great processes for getting  MQLs (Marketing Qualified Lead) to the sales rep as fast as possible so they can start smiling and dialing. Unfortunately, many organizations struggle to convert this important lesson over to the nurturing stage of the sales cycle, particularly on social media, where potential leads often go hours or days without a response.

While immediacy is a central aspect of every channel you use for lead nurturing, social media may be the most important. Not only are your customers used to instant communication over these networks, they are also increasingly wary of any messages that don’t fit into the conversations they’re having and the immediate need they’re feeling.

Improving social media monitoring and automating lead nurturing will help your organization improve the immediacy of your social media messages and ultimately increase responses and sales.

What is Immediacy?

First, what is immediacy? While it does involve an immediate response time, speed is not the only factor. The term originated with non-verbal communication before social media or marketing automation were ever invented.

In the 1960s, Professor of Psychology Albert Mehrabian defined immediacy as the “degree of directness and intensity of interaction between communicator and referent in a communicator’s linguistic message.”

Probably a little too dense for our needs. From a sales and marketing perspective, immediacy involves a few different factors:

  • Context
  • Time
  • Personal Connection

In his recent talk at INBOUND 2016, Gustavo Reis discussed how he uses the idea of immediacy to grow the social engagement with his online math course. Using these principles, he created a following of 60K+ on Facebook in less than a year and 5K+ on Instagram in less than 2 months.

Incorporating Immediacy into Your Social Lead Nurturing

So why is immediacy so important and well suited for social lead nurturing?

According to Marketing Donut, 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months, and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy. Engaging and nurturing these leads for up to a year is impossible without deep insights into their needs and a scalable way to reach out consistently.

Here are a few steps for incorporating immediacy into your social lead nurturing, to improve the directness and level of engagement you receive from your audience.

Identifying Touchpoints

If you’re only using website data such as website visits and form submissions for your lead scoring and segmentation, you’re missing out on a large part of the picture. Not to mention, most prospects won't engage directly with your business enough to keep a meaningful conversation going.

Monitoring social media provides you with even more data:

  • What leads are interested in
  • Keywords
  • Influencers they follow
  • Events they’re attending
  • Who they’re engaging with
  • Content they like

This allows you to identify a much larger set of touchpoints. The more information behind your lead nurturing, the timelier your messages can be and the more you can tailor them to the context of your lead’s conversation.

Segmenting by Context and Relationships

As your business scales, you can’t expect to send each of your leads a personalized tweet, DM or email based on their unique actions. You can use marketing automation and personalization to send them one of a hundred or more carefully tailored messages.

In a recent webinar, we discussed how Socedo saw unsubscribes decrease by 50% when we included context in our emails. The more segmented you can make your leads, the more context and personalization you can add to each message you send them.

Context and personalization don’t just involve the content of your social messages and emails. Segmenting your leads by the person they had initial contact with – and then ensuring all future communications come from that same person – can greatly increase the immediacy of your messages. When we started sending emails from employees leads had already engaged with, we saw 76% higher open rates. When we sent from a different person, our open rates decreased by 24%.

Real-Time Marketing

Once you have set up social media monitoring to identify touchpoints and segmented your audience based on those insights, you can send them relevant content in real-time. Here are some examples of real-time nurturing that focus on immediacy:

  • “I saw you just tweeted about this event, did you know we’ll be there? Here’s a webinar about it.”
  • “You just shared an article on conversion rate optimization. Check out this whitepaper that dives deeper into the subject.”
  • Like a tweet 24 hours after following someone on Twitter.

Socedo uses these examples in our own social lead nurturing. Through the last example, we’ve gained 30% higher follow-back rates (you can learn more about this tactic and others in our webinar, “10 Lead Nurturing Hacks for Faster Conversions”).

Thanks to the increased opportunities for context, timeliness and personalization, socially engaged leads move 25% faster through the lead pipeline and convert at a 22% higher selling price. Using the principles of immediacy, combined with social media and marketing automation tools, you can create a lead nurturing system that is much more engaging while still remaining scalable for your business.

How does your company nurture leads through social media? Do you use any of the concepts of immediacy? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 9.00.16 AMTeena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. Socedo is a demand generation system that empowers marketers to discover, engage with and qualify prospects through social media to generate revenue at scale.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Social Media Strategy for BusinessSocial PRFundamentals of Social Media for SEO

Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.