Why Digital Fundamentals Are Essential to Small Business Marketing Strategy

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Editor’s note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our New Digital Fundamentals CertificationJosh joins us this month to discuss how Digital Fundamentals are essential for small business marketing strategy.

 

When Apple was still a small business incubating in the basement of Steve Jobs’ parents, its first computer didn’t even have a keyboard or monitor. Much less did the fledgling startup possess a huge advertising budget or Internet connection in the 1970s. What they did have was an innovative product manufactured by an expert: a vision to simplify the personal computer for a broad audience, as well as an intriguing selling point—its unique price tag of $666.66.

What the business lacked in resources, it made up for in marketing strategy.

Apple knew that to make a solid product, they needed be experts. They knew that in order to sell their product, they needed relevance to the current interests of a specific audience. And they knew that in order to catch that audience’s eye, they needed to package everything into a simple, single price point.

How they accomplished this comes down to a mastery of any great small business marketing strategy’s most essential elements: Expertise, Relevance, and Attraction.

In fact, by communicating their fundamental expertise in computing, their relevance to both computer hobbyists and future computer users, as well as their ability to package everything together with a memorable and attractive price tag, Apple was able to demonstrate not only a fundamental mastery of marketing strategy, but a mastery of their market.

Now, it’s not 1976 anymore. Businesses like Apple have fundamentally changed the technological landscape we must navigate in order to compete (or even participate) in an increasingly digital marketplace of ideas. But while the technology may have changed, principles remain the same. We still have to demonstrate expertise, relevance, and attraction in order to execute a great small business marketing strategy and master our markets.

Today, mastering the digital fundamentals is one of the easiest, best, and most cost-effective ways for a small business to model fundamental mastery of their market.

That’s because amping up a small business marketing strategy by honing and combining skillsets in digital advertising, social media marketing, mobile marketing, and email marketing tends to move users seamlessly through a small business’s marketing funnel.

Enlarging online presence is an essential step in every small business’s digital marketing strategy. The easiest ways of doing this are digital advertising and social media marketing: it can cost as little as $41 to put up a digital ad that will expose your small business to thousands of potential clients. And it costs nothing but time and a little creative energy to maintain social accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. The more social profiles and the larger a small business’s following, the bigger their online presence will become.

Email and mobile marketing have become, perhaps, the most fundamental digital skillsets for generating leads and conversions. Executing these strategies on a large scale can be expensive, especially for small businesses early in their journey. But one of the best ways of generating leads is simply growing an email list and sending email newsletters to local individuals who care about your business. This step is neither cost-prohibitive nor time consuming, and gives you a big head start for later expansion.

In terms of mobile, continually optimizing your website for mobile viewers by using Google’s guidelines is the best and least expensive way to capture the fastest-growing segment of media users in the world. Creating a free and useful app with purchase options is also a great way to move users down your funnel, creating a seamless buyer’s journey.

Like most things that cost time and effort to develop, the payoff can be huge. But crafting a small business marketing strategy that brings all the digital fundamentals together requires a fair amount of expertise, relevance, and attraction.

The good news is that online education has made learning these skillsets a profoundly manageable task. Moreover, by learning and using them to amplify an online presence, small businesses intrinsically model the expertise, relevance, and attraction necessary to hold attention within their own marketplace, and build a thriving platform in the competitive digital age.

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI 

Top Email Marketing Strategies for B2B Companies

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Editor's Note: Samantha Prowell is a marketing strategist and educator, who joins us today to explain how and why B2B businesses should employ email marketing strategies.

 

In recent times, B2B marketers have focused on reaching new customers through blogs and social media. While these are excellent strategies, email marketing is still a cost-effective and highly profitable way to generate leads and build long-term relationships with clients. A smartly designed email marketing campaign can help you to engage in sales talk with your promising leads and connect more closely with your most valuable clients.

In this article, we will discuss specific ways in which email marketing can benefit your B2B company, and the best strategies for implementing an email marketing strategy into your workflow. Let’s get started -

How Email Marketing Can Benefit Your B2B Company

Let’s discuss why your organization should focus on implementing effective B2B email marketing strategies.

Take a look at these stats on email marketing to understand our point:

  • According to Experian, if you invest $1 on email marketing you get an average return of $44.25.
  • ExactTarget indicates that 77% of customers will give permission to receive marketing content via email.
  • Earnest Agency states that 72% of B2B purchasers share relevant content using email.

These stats demonstrate that email marketing remains a very effective strategy, and prospects respond well to the personalized nature of promotional emails. A properly executed strategy can help B2B companies:

  • Improve engagement and interest from prospects
  • Get more leads and sign-ups from interested parties
  • Boost the conversion rate of your sales funnel, and finally
  • rake in more dollars.

Put simply, if your B2B company isn’t equipped to manage an email marketing program, there is a lot you’ll miss out on as a result. If you don’t have one already, let’s dive into some practical tips to help you get kickstarted:

Choose a Reliable Email Service Provider (ESP)

A definite first step will be signing up to a high quality ESP. These services will allow you to manage email campaigns and lists from a web-based interface. A good ESP is essential for a successful email marketing campaign, and should enable you to format your email messages with a custom layout, links, images and other features.

The best ESPs also offer personalization, automation, and advanced analytics tools. They may also provide training materials, education programs, and free coaching to help you make effective use of their system.

Leading email service providers include MailChimp, Constant Contact, ExactTarget, Pardot, and HubSpot. You should read about these to assess which is best for you; most have free trials as well, so you can try before committing.

Offer Free Content

If you have a blog or social media page, you’re probably already doing this: the best way to raise engagement and keep the attention of prospects is by offering useful content that matches their interests. Smart companies understand that they need to keep in touch with their prospects and existing customers, so they don’t stop with social media - they also use email.

With an email marketing program, you can and should share white papers, eBooks, blog posts and other content relevant to your marketing goals and initiatives via email. Not only that, but offering free content of this kind is a great way to build your email list: by offering to send content to customers via their email address, they get valuable information, and you get a new prospect.

Nominate an ESP Specialist in Your Team

To make the best use of features and tools offered by the ESP, it is a good idea to designate a member of your team as ESP specialist. This employee should manage all contacts within the ESP, and ensure that the vendor is providing for the needs of your enterprise. By designating someone for this task, you can stay on top of campaigns, utilize features for efficiently, and address problems as soon as they arise.

Build a List of Interested Subscribers

Your email marketing campaign will be more effective if you target it towards an interested audience. For this reason, you should carefully develop your subscriber list, curate, and tag it appropriately. This will help you to prepare and send relevant and useful emails that meet your objectives. Your lists should be specific to your industry or business and designed with your marketing goals in mind.

Segment Your Audience

Segmentation is an important step that helps you to narrow down your subscribers into groups that will respond best to certain messages. For instance, if you want to engage your most loyal and profitable clients, you can segment them into a particular group based on this demographic and send them relevant event announcements, blog posts, and special offers. In the end, segmentation takes a little work that goes a long way in focusing your energies where they count the most.

Automate Your Campaign

Use your ESP’s automation features to communicate with prospects and existing clients in a relevant and timely manner. For example, an auto responder enables you to contact those who download content or fill out a form on your site. You can often create an autoresponder to contact new users and subscribers to your newsletters, and engage them with interesting content or start conversations.

Use of RSS-to-Email

RSS-to-email makes it easy to send out a newsletter whenever you post a new content piece to your blog or website. The advantage of this feature is, however irregular your content schedule may be, your subscribers can receive newsletters only when new content is published.

Nurture Promising Leads

Create an email campaign tailored for “hot” leads that have expressed a certain amount of interest. Pay special attention to those who are apparently sitting on the fence about making a product purchase, and give them a helpful push by providing special offers that can convert them into buyers.

Some leads can take a while to make up their minds, and that’s okay. Be prepared to contact them consistently over weeks or months, though in moderation, and only with relevant content or offers. Keep them interested in your offerings using appropriate blogs posts or other content pieces which relate to the subjects they care about.

Conclusion

Marketing professionals have a responsibility to enhance their company brand with messages over multiple channels and media. They have a further responsibility to aid their sales team in closing deals, generating revenue and boosting company profits. For this reason, email marketing strategies and campaigns are an important part of every B2B lead generation effort. Whether you’ve tried email marketing before or are brand new to the game, try one of the above strategies in your workflow, and learn more in one of our classes.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Email Marketing Tactics

Creating and Curating Content People Love

How to Build a Lead Nurturing Campaign

 


Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

Future Fundamentals for Digital Marketers

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Editor's Note: Teena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. To celebrate the launch of our new Digital Fundamentals Certification, she joins us today to discuss the future of digital marketing, and fundamentals that will guide the industry for the foreseeable future.

 

To be successful, digital marketers must be able to think beyond the present. Not only should they understand the present state of the industry, but they should also have a grasp on what’s coming down the road. While this is no small task in the constantly shifting work of technology and social media, being able to view trends through the proverbial crystal ball will keep you ahead of the curve, ensuring that your strategy will keep both current and future prospects interested. With that in mind, let’s take a look at developments which seem to portend the future of digital marketing.

Social media gets more visual

In 2015, Shareaholic reported that more than 31% of traffic to websites was driven by the top 8 social media platforms that year, up from 23% in 2014. It’s clear that social media will continue to grow and remain an important way of attracting users to your website, though the venues and types of sharing may change. Keeping up with the most popular networks and how people are using them is key to keeping your brand relevant in the future.

The rising popularity of video platforms like YouTube, Vine and Snapchat has inspired other networks like Facebook and Instagram to add video features. If you’re not already using a video as a part of your digital marketing program, you might consider finding ways of integrating it into your strategy. Video content will continue to be a key growth area because of its popularity and potential to convert leads. How much potential? Shoppers exposed to videos are 174% more likely to follow through with a purchase. They’ll also stay on your site twice as long, and look at twice as many pages.

Forbes predicts that more people will want to experience events vicariously, meaning they’ll want to see video to get a feel for scenes they can’t attend in person. What better way to display your company culture than bringing your prospects to the party? Think of other ways you can share your company’s story, help people to learn about your brand, and provide useful content that helps users solve problems and pains.

Aesthetics become more inspiring

Your digital marketing efforts must hold the attention of your prospects while clearly demonstrating who you are. While attractive color schemes and eye-catching font are the basic places to start, aesthetics are moving to a deeper plane in the near future.

Forbes predicts that content will move from the practical to the emotional – what will touch your consumers? Think inspirational, artistic and beautiful. Think about the kinds of videos that go viral – often, they touch people in a deep way. Connect with your prospects on a visceral level, and your content has a better chance of moving them to action while achieving a broader reach.

No matter how your posts change, one constant that will take your digital marketing into the future is authenticity. People can see through rushed, generic content, and will lose interest before you can lure them in with discounts and offers.

Analytics get analyzed

If you only think about analytics in terms of finding out much web traffic you’re getting, you’re missing out. Future analytics will build upon the use of psychology to help drive the success of websites. Already, basic principles of psychology are at the core of most marketing campaigns: think of FOMO, or fear of missing out, and other countless ways that marketing is designed to make people feel positive or negative emotions. More psychology to predict consumer behavior is a natural progression, and will help to improve the results of your digital marketing strategy.

Factors that are increasingly taken into consideration include when and why consumers abandon a sales funnel, how they respond to price changes, and methods that work on certain kinds of visitors, such as “flash” sales which are mainly effective on impulse buyers. Combined with user data, these advanced analytics will benefit your conversions. This brings us back to the idea that inspirational content will become more popular: it’s all about appealing to people’s emotions. In the next generation of content marketing strategy,you’ll be taking the principles of authenticity and compelling content to a new level.

Branding gets fluid

How the public sees and recognizes your brand, can be enhanced by the kind of content you offer on your social media channels and through your website, blogs or direct emails. The fluidity of social media and targeted messages may be fueling another trend: shaping the brand to an audience. Landor says the look and feel of a company’s brand may be shaped by its appeal to particular audiences, and the days of carefully-guarded branding may be over. Moving forward, smart companies will increasingly adapt to the changing tides of audience mood, habits and feedback.

SEO and advertising get the satellite treatment

According to The Guardian, when people are ready for information on a product or service, 89% of them turn to search engines first. Search engine optimization (SEO) improves your target audience reach by raising the prominence that search engines give to your content and products. The future of SEO will move far beyond keywords and quality content. Going forward, GPS will start to play a greater role in SEO.– even now, Google doesn’t just care what people are searching for, but where they are searching from. Location-based advertising and mobile marketing will be significant areas of growth.

Geolocation is being used now to target advertising customers who are located a certain distance from relevant businesses or venues. Starbucks allows consumers to pre-order when they’re close to a local branch, and some retailers bring purchases out to a customer’s car when they arrive for a pre-ordered pickup. In customizing a marketing campaign to customer needs, it’s clear that geolocation will be another target for optimization and research. 

Not every crystal ball is clear: trends are bound to emerge that were not previously seen or anticipated. But hopefully this article has given you a sense of areas that already promise future relevance to your business. The key fundamental that will take you into the future is a sense of adaptability which allows you to change up your strategy with the times. By reading this article and keeping yourself informed, you’re already a step ahead of competitors who live entirely in the present.

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI 

How to Optimize Your Site for Lead Generation

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Editor's Note: Jane Hurst is a business writer and regular OMI contributor. Today, she joins us to discuss how your company's website can be optimized for lead generation.

 

Driving fresh traffic to your website is essential for getting new customers, and nowadays it’s vital for marketers to be strategic and creative when developing ways to build their client base.

As a further challenge, getting traffic is half the battle: afterwards, your site needs to be optimized to capture leads and turn them into sales. Otherwise, your visitors are meaningless statistics that won’t do anything for your business. If you are looking for ways to optimize your site for lead generation, here are some ideas to get you started.

Optimize at Every Step

Let’s say you are selling a rare kind of product. If someone has searched for the type of product you are selling and they end up on a blog post about it on your site, make sure that the post is linked to a relevant sales offer. This way you get to capitalize on the interest of incoming traffic and get more sales.

For instance, if your visitors are reading an article about a type of auto insurance policy, link to an offer for a deal on the auto insurance that you sell. You want to keep your visitors’ attention and get their business. Once they are thinking about a certain kind of item, they are never more likely to buy it: instead of waiting for them to browse your site further, make sure they can act immediately.

The moment someone visits your site, you can start to learn about how your conversion path works. If that path doesn’t take visitors where you want them to be, it is time to optimize that path to turn those leads into sales. The key is to keep giving visitors things to look at that they are interested in. If you can do this, then they are more likely to stay and come back for more down the road. If they really like what they see, they will recommend it to others, generating even more leads.

Use Thank-You Pages

A lot of marketers miss out on a big opportunity to deliver premium content to those who might be interested. Once visitors have submitted the form on your landing page and are taken to a thank-you page, include a link to informational content related to their purchase. This is an opportunity for you to suggest further offers that could be of interest. Never miss out on an opportunity to get more sales.

Send out an automatic thank-you email known as a “kickback email” after a transaction, and include more specific calls to action. Don’t go overboard and send daily emails. After a while, that approach will just land you in the spam folder. A good rule of thumb is not to send out offers more than once a week, and once every two weeks is considered a standard rate. This will keep you in your prospects’ minds without coming across as pushy or over-the-top.

Studies show that by using kickback emails, companies can double their engagement rates when compared with rates that result from traditional marketing emails. Calls-to-action aren’t just about selling to a particular lead, either: you can also include social media links and offers to encourage sharing and social engagement.

Take Advantage of Social Selling

Instead of using email as your main source of lead generation, consider what social selling can do for your company.

A content analytics tool like Leadfeeder can show you what companies your website visitors work for, and exactly what they are doing while on your website. This allows you to qualify your sales leads so that when it’s time to reach out, your sales reps knows the exact interests of each prospective buyer. Content analytics tools can often integrate with your email marketing tools and CRM to further increase lead-flow.

Leadfeeder is free and easy to set up; it can be used to identify new leads, get automatic reports, and output relevant data that will help you to know which leads are most promising.

Personalize Calls to Action

When using calls to action, aim to be personal. For instance, if someone has already visited your return policy page, you can use this information to be more personal with him or her the next time they visit. Let’s say a customer has visited your Father's’ Day Gift Guide page three times in the past two months. It’s time to create a call to action just for her: the next time she visits any page on your site, it can offer discount codes on Father's’ Day gifts.

A stranger obviously won’t see this level of personalization – at least not until until he or she has submitted a form. But the next visit can be tailored specifically for his or her interests. In order to pull this off, all you need is a set of simple tools such as Hubspot’s Content Optimization System. Using this or something similar will help you to serve up the smart content that you need to personalize messages for your leads.

Nurture Leads Individually

Getting a sale is an achievement, but getting repeat sales from the same customer is icing on the cake. Customers are people, and people will only stay interested in your company as long as you are interested in them: so stay interested.

As soon as a lead fills out a form on the landing page, put it right into your workflow. Send them useful content that is relevant to their interests and needs. The more you nurture, the more you are going to learn, and the more your customer will know when the time comes to close a sale.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

How to Get Clients & Generate Leads

Email Marketing Tactics

How to Create the Perfect Landing Page

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

The 5 Skillsets You Need to Master Digital Fundamentals

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Editor’s note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our New Digital Fundamentals CertificationJosh joins us this month to discuss the skillsets that marketers need to master the fundamentals of digital marketing.

 

To call ourselves digital marketers, it has become imperative to master the fundamentals of digital marketing. Today, marketers inhabit an educational universe that’s expanding at a rate of 7 new bachelor’s programs every year - but in this competitive educational marketplace, jobs are increasingly based on skills rather than degrees. And despite their growth, marketing degree programs are struggling to teach every skillset we need to legitimately claim we’ve mastered the digital fundamentals.

To be sure we’ve mastered these preliminary areas of a comprehensive digital marketing education, we need both knowledge and skills. We need to know the history and evolution of digital marketing. We need to know the ins and outs of the kinds of online media used for content promotion (like blog posts, white papers, videos, infographics, and press releases), and we need practice placing them in appropriate media moments.

These basic components of a digital marketing campaign allow us to execute marketing strategies with the care, precision, and digital mastery that today’s jobs consistently demand. That’s why we’ve laid out the 5 skillsets necessary to truly master the fundamentals of digital marketing: to help you prepare for the next step in your marketing career, and secure it in a solid foundation. Let's dive in!

1. Digital Advertising

Although email marketing is often considered the staple of every digital marketer’s playbook (see skillset #4), it’s really just a single play with multiple options. A competent digital marketer knows how to assemble a binder of playbooks, each of which might include a list of relevant search engine marketing tools that complement each other. At the same time, masters of digital fundamentals know where they can strategically place ads that reinforce email messaging, and they understand the importance of participating in complex, growing trends like affiliate marketing and programmatic ads.

A quick Google search of these terms and their definitions will show it is no easy task to comprehend these relatively new outreach methods, much less harness them skillfully. But masters of digital fundamentals can balance these skillsets in order to solidify a brand’s place among the rank and file of similar brands competing for the top spot on search engine result pages.

2. Social Marketing

With literally hundreds of social media platforms developing since the late 1990s, social media marketing is essential for conducting digital business successfully. Competent digital marketers know that Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube get our feet in the door. But a master of the digital fundamentals also knows that their brand needs to harness the staying power of more permanent visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, at the same time making ample use of more ephemeral visual platforms like Snapchat, Periscope, and other live streaming services.

In more recent years, LinkedIn has become one of the most authoritative platforms to hatch a professional digital marketing strategy, especially because its social network has the capacity to connect disparate people with shared interests for the express purpose of doing business. And of course, blogging platforms like Tumblr and WordPress always help raise a business’s profile on Google and other search engines. While the skillsets for each of these platforms overlap, masters of digital fundamentals know when and where to use each one to its full potential.

3. Mobile Marketing

Mobile is the fastest-growing marketing skillset on this list, and it is quickly becoming the biggest and best way to spread a message. The core tools and terminology that surround the discipline grow as fast as the research and development, and so does the number of mobile marketing programs. The competent marketer knows they need to optimize their site for mobile users in order to make brand content easily accessible. But a master of digital fundamentals will know that the most popular content medium for mobile is the mobile application, while mobile video and location-based advertising have continued to grow in both popularity and opportunity for expansion. They will know how to do their homework and apply research to place messages at the most opportune moments. They will also know that because two out of every three Americans (and counting) own a smartphone, digital marketers need to exercise each of these skills in order to move forward boldly.

4. Email Marketing

As alluded to in the first skillset, email is one of the most fundamental skillsets to exercise in any digital marketing strategy. Running a direct email marketing campaign is perhaps the most essential skill necessary for executing such a strategy effectively. Competent digital marketers know that outbound campaigns like this can be easily automated, and masters of digital fundamentals know that learning automation tools can be difficult to use without expert training. They also know that the same can be said for learning the practice of small batch email marketing, which includes research, list building, targeting, message drafting, and tailoring to specific audiences with special kinds of content. They know that both learning and practicing all of these approaches is essential to mastering email marketing, and that when push comes to shove, email marketing campaigns can mean the difference between virality and obscurity.

5. The Marketing Funnel

As the structure that surrounds our foundation, the marketing funnel wraps all the digital fundamentals into one package. A competent digital marketer knows they need to direct people down their funnel for conversions. But a master of digital fundamentals knows that certain parts of the funnel are better for certain types of content than others. Assuming they need to market a mobile application, masters of the digital fundamentals might plan a digital advertising and email marketing campaign for the top of their funnel to increase brand awareness, a social marketing campaign with video for the middle of their funnel to pique interest, and a mobile marketing campaign at the bottom of their funnel to set up a free trial that leads to loyalty and a sale.

Above all: a true digital marketer knows that the more they practice these skillsets in conjunction, the more confident they’ll be when they say

they’ve mastered the digital fundamentals. Everything else comes with experience; experience comes by knowing the basics and applying them in everything you do. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI 

Why Proficiency in Digital Fundamentals Matters for Your Company’s Success

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Editor's Note: Tracy Vides is a content strategist and OMI contributor. To celebrate the launch of our new Digital Fundamentals Certification, she joins us today to discuss how small and large businesses can benefit from studying fundamental digital marketing strategy.

 

The beauty of digital marketing is that it gives startups and smaller companies a chance to compete on a stage shared by larger enterprises; it levels the playing field by eliminating the need for a huge budget to reach a vast amount of consumers.

In the old days, a good deal of marketing boiled down to scale: companies threw out wide nets, hoping to gain as many leads as possible. This posed a serious obstacle for small businesses lacking the capital for such an expansive reach.

Now digital marketing has made it possible to pinpoint a target audience, research consumption habits and find the most effective strategy to broadcast your brand messaging and improve ROI without wasting copious amounts of money on experimental campaigns based on guesswork.

Let’s talk about fundamental digital marketing strategies, and key advantages that businesses of all sizes stand to gain from mastering them.

Create an effective SEO strategy

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a cornerstone of digital marketing. 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. With a number like this, omitting SEO causes you to miss out on a lot of benefits. A well-planned strategy can do a lot to improve search rankings, increase web traffic, build leads, and ultimately make sales.

If you want to experience these types of results, it will require more than a one-day effort. SEO is built on five pillars:

  1. Strategy
  2. Conversion
  3. Content
  4. Optimization
  5. Authority and Trust

It might take weeks – or even months – to start seeing the results you want. Stay consistent with your efforts, and in time you will see the fruits of your labor.

Use social media to boost engagement

Currently, there are over 2 billion people using social media worldwide. Opting out of this bandwagon is simply not an option. Social media is an arena where brands have a prime opportunity to let their unique personas shine through while contributing value to the lives of their prospects.

The biggest advantage provided by social media is an opportunity to boost all your other marketing channels. For example, a good SEO strategy is based on producing quality content. One of the best ways to share that material is through social media outlets.

Additionally, it can play a huge role in learning what makes your target audience tick. Tools like Brandwatch give you the ability to monitor what users are talking about within your industry. Backed with actionable-metrics, you can properly gear your approach in a manner that will not only keep viewers engaged, but also maintain positive sentiments about your brand.

Social media marketing is here to stay. Understanding the ins and outs of how it can affect your business is crucial in building brand trust and exposure to your messaging.

Adapt to an increasingly mobile landscape

Back in 2014, mobile devices became more popular than desktop for digital media consumption.

More recently, global internet traffic in terms of pageviews on mobiles surpassed desktop traffic.

With this in mind, integrating your marketing strategy to fit the mobile landscape is vital. For instance, 71 percent of marketing emails are opened on a mobile device.

Mobile the go-to medium for people on the move. In turn, big e-commerce brands have made it easier than ever to make purchases via a smartphone. The benefits of optimizing for mobile are practically infinite. Here are several of them:

  • Mobile-friendly websites rank higher in search results.
  • Mobile advertising is more cost-effective than desktop advertising.
  • Mobile gives you a broader range of personalization options when marketing to prospects.

Altering your entire strategy towards mobile is an involved process. There are many things to take into consideration, like content format and consumption duration. But given how much it can improve a business, learning how to optimize accordingly is one of the best decisions you can make.

Make your operation efficient with marketing automation

Marketing automation is especially useful for startups and small businesses. Regardless of your goals, you should always strive to maximize efficiency. With automation, you can harness the power of technology to manage a significant portion of your marketing activities without depending on human control. This can do a lot to cut down on labor, and frees up more time to focus on big picture innovations.

According to Gartner Research, by 2020 customers will manage 85% of their brand relationships without talking to a human. Benefits of automated marketing include:

  • Targeted landing pages
  • Effective lead nurturing
  • Complete workflow management
  • Targeted and responsive email marketing
  • Increased productivity
  • Brand presence on multiple channels
  • Detailed customer profiles
  • Quicker and better customer support
  • In-depth tracking and measurement
  • Consistency

There is a whole lot more to gain from marketing automation than you might think. Do yourself a favor and study what it can do for your business. In the long-run, it can save (and earn you) incredible amounts of time and money.

Over to you

It’s no secret that the traditional marketing funnel is going obsolete in favor of digital. Brands everywhere are realizing how this shift in the landscape is putting a big emphasis on customer experience and targeted strategies. The underlying truth is that consumers are more connected than ever. Learning how you can accommodate this trend is crucial in building a brand for the future.

If you’re involved in a startup, small business, or even a large enterprise looking to build its knowledge of digital fundamentals, there’s no time like the present to learn. Get started today!

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI 

How to Improve Customer Acquisition Using Artificial Intelligence

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Editor's Note: Nick Rojas is a freelance journalist who has written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. Today he joins us to discuss how AI is changing the way that businesses acquire customers, and how to use it.

 

Every company needs new customers to grow, and anyone running a business knows that it takes time and planning to attract them. However, thanks to the growth of artificial intelligence, customer acquisition is getting a little bit easier.

AI is advancing and isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon: between this year and 2022, the AI market is expected to grow 62 percent, by a value of $16.06 billion. Marketers and businesses are wisely taking notice and implementing AI into their customer acquisition strategies.

With the right methods in place, AI can revolutionize your acquisition funnel, saving you time and money in the process. Let’s take a look at how this can be done.

Chatbots

Chatbots are a hot trend in tech marketing circles. You’ve probably interacted with them numerous times, even if you didn’t realize it.

Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa are all chatbots. You may find this confusing, since chatbots are usually thought of in very narrow terms. In reality, any AI which interacts with customers using natural human speech can be thought of as a ‘chatbot’.

So why are they such a big deal for customer acquisition? It’s simple: chatbots simplify the user experience and enhance customer support.

Simplified Experience

Consumers are more likely to buy your products if you remove barriers to entry. To remove those barriers, you need to facilitate an environment where moving from acquisition to decision is painless.

This is exactly what chatbots accomplish. Take for instance bots that live on Facebook Messenger, allowing customers to ask questions and buy products on-the-fly. If consumers become interested in your business through a social media page, they can do research and make a decision without ever leaving the application.

In this case, the chatbot enables your customers to act on a whim, moving them seamlessly from curiosity to a product purchase. In the long-run, ease of use and access streamlines your funnel, leading to more sales and consumer interest.

Customer Support

Chatbot customer support helps retain customers that you’ve already done business with, and thereby improves your brand reputation, which can attract new customers in turn.

AI allows companies to offer versatile 24/7 support to their customers. If a problem arises while your staff is away, your chatbot is always ready.

Advances in Artificial Intelligence enable chat bots to gather information about a problem, offer solutions, and also transfer the problem to a human when it’s too complex. Simple issues can be resolved on-the-spot without intervention, leaving the most important problems for your personnel to handle, with all the pertinent information collected and ready for review.

No matter how a problem is resolved, customer support chatbots enhance the customer experience while saving time and money.

Predict Consumer Behavior

Attracting new customers means understanding consumer wants and needs. AI helps this process by predicting consumer behavior on the basis of existing information.

Artificial intelligence is routinely used by companies like Salesforce to mine and process large data sets of customer information such as preferences, shopping habits, and comments left on your social media pages. Using a process called semantic analysis, AI can understand human context and intelligently guess how a person feels about a product or service based on their interactions with your company.

You can then use this information to tailor marketing strategies that target new customers. Essentially, the AI gives you a list of your product’s greatest strengths and weaknesses relative to your audience.

Is your product getting lots of views on social media? Then you should capitalize on social media.

Is your idea unique to a specific market? Then hit that niche with your advertising.

Chatbots and predictive behavior analysis streamline your customer acquisition process while also saving you time and money. As Artificial Intelligence continues to revolutionize online customer acquisition, the best time to get started is now!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Increase Lead Generation Quality, Conversion & Velocity

Mastering the Facebook Sales Funnel

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

Fundamental Digital Marketing Techniques to Master in 2017

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Editor's Note: Teena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. To celebrate the launch of our new Digital Fundamentals Certification, she joins us today to discuss the most important digital marketing techniques to master in 2017.

 

You’re ready to get started in digital marketing – but how do you know where to begin? If you’ve done some research already, you know there are dozens of potential avenues to pursue, and you could fill a dictionary with terms you don’t fully understand. While it can be dizzying to navigate all the information you’ll run into, there’s a good place to start: master the key principles and techniques that will get you on the path to building your online presence and growing your client list.

In this article, we’ll spell out the basics of digital marketing strategy so you can get your feet in the water and start figuring out what will work best for you and your brand.

Strategy

What your digital marketing strategy will look like really depends on your goals. What do you hope your business will accomplish with an online campaign? How wide of a focus do you want to have? At this point, you should take account of simple factors like the size of your business, the scope of your campaign and your target audience.

When figuring out your target audience, you should construct a buyer persona – who are the people who likely want the product or service you are offering? Hubspot suggests collecting information such as location, age, income and job titles. This information is particularly important if you are targeting decision-makers, and those who can choose whether or not to buy into your offering. Analytic tools allow you to quickly sort your prospects based on the above factors, many of which can be gleaned from social media profiles. They can also build your social media audience – another key strategy – based on interests and keywords, thus increasing your traffic and growing your potential client list.

Once you’ve determined who you want to target, you will use multiple techniques to develop a strategy for capturing your audience wherever they are on the web. To accomplish this, digital marketing strategy has three main pillars: social media, your website, and email lists. Since almost everyone has a social media account, social media is a fantastic place to start building your online presence and connecting with your prospects.

Understanding the major social media platforms and knowing how to build a presence on them is a first step to communicating directly with the very audience you hope to attract. Knowing the style and personality of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat can help you decide what forum will work best for your brand. Blogging platforms or live streaming can also help you to drive traffic towards your site.

Anyone can build a social media presence, but the whole point for you as an online marketer is driving traffic to your website where you offer and advertise the products and services that you want your audience to see. Hosting content on your website in the form of helpful blog posts, webinars or whitepapers is a great way to engage your visitors. By maintaining a rich and living catalog of free content, you can vitalize your social media posts, and most importantly, build an email list.

Email lists form a very important part of every online marketer's toolkit. When visitors are interested in your content, an opt-in form can be used to offer them a free taste of what you have to offer. After collecting email addresses, marketing automation tools and list managers can be used to send targeted emails based on customer’s unique tastes and interests. This is a great and long-term supplement to social media.

Here are other strategic components you’ll also want to master to get started:

Aesthetics

A good website is nothing without good design, and the same goes for your social profiles and posts. In the same way that print or televised advertising must catch the eye, your digital marketing must be designed in a way that holds your prospects’ attention and clearly demonstrates your value proposition. Even seemingly simple choices like color are important decisions: 85% of buyers say color influenced their purchase, according to Revenizer. Using distracting fonts, generic stock photography or failing to visually differentiate your brand are big mistakes when designing your digital marketing campaign. Ensuring you communicate clearly with your web visitor as soon as they land on your site and hold their attention afterwards are key techniques for the best digital marketers.

 

Analytics & ROI

You need to know if your campaign is working, right? You need to know that you’re getting a return on any investment of time and money into your digital marketing campaign. Analytics helps you to figure that out, and make smart adjustments as you go along. While you might think of analytics as data that measures web traffic – (think Google Analytics) Hubspot points out that’s only the beginning. More important is the connection between your social media and email marketing efforts, and measurable results such as prospective leads and conversion to sale rates.

Having a good handle on your marketing analytics lets you see exactly which channels are most effective with which targets – is your Twitter campaign strategy effective, or are you getting more volume from direct email? Or are they effectively tying in together? You want to know not only how many people clicked through to your website, but which ones were converted into clients.

SEO & SEM

When people are researching products, they’ll type keywords into Google, Bing or other search engines. Search Engine Marketing lets you use those keyword searches to raise your website higher on the list of results people see, and target digital advertising in the right places. Consider that 89% of consumers use a search engine to look for information before investing in a service or product, and 70% of buying decisions begin with those queries. You want to make the most of this fact. Getting to know tools which help in this area can help you improve your company’s search engine optimization (SEO), and thereby improve your target audience reach.

Search Engine Watch says that search engines seek factors such as quality content, fast web performance, and user experiences. While optimizing your pages can mean incorporating the most-often-searched keywords relating to your service or product, it’s about more than “keyword stuffing.” It’s also about having user-friendly content answers to the questions or pains that your prospects are looking to solve.

Can enhancing your SEO take time and expense? Sure. But Ballantine estimates the ROI on SEO in 2014 was $21.93 for every dollar invested. That compares with $6.48 in revenue for television advertising, $8.29 in telemarketing or $10.06 in newspaper ads. The investment is a good bet.

While the realm of digital marketing is complex and goes beyond the principles outlined here, these techniques form the foundation of every good digital marketing strategy. No matter who you are, what you’re selling, or who you want to reach, the Internet is big, and everyone starts in the same place. Now that you have the basic principles for building a digital marketing strategy, why not get started today? You’ll discover the effort is well worth your time, energy and investment.

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI 

Removing Rivalries: How to Work With Traditional Advertisers

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Editor's Note: Tom Alexander is a digital marketing veteran, who joins us today to discuss how digital marketers can join forces with traditional advertisers to create better marketing campaigns.

 

The alleged animosity between traditional advertisers and digital marketers has become almost legendary. We hear blow-by-blow reports of what appears to be intense opposition, each side fiercely clinging to their fundamental elements in death grips. It’s wonderfully heady stuff, but the ongoing nature of this battle may be more fiction than fact. As marketing becomes more integrated, the challenges that once separated these would-be rivals are bringing them closer together.

To understand the present relationship between traditional advertisers and digital marketers, we need to revisit the past.

Before the current advertising ecosystem, traditional advertising was a mainstay, from billboards, TV spots, magazine and newspaper spreads, to radio advertisements. However, with the advent of the Internet, digital marketing has taken away the spotlight with email marketing, social media, blogs, web banners, and paid targeted advertising. Some digital evangelicals went so far as to eulogize traditional marketing in the 1990s.

As we see today, these were premature pronouncements. Traditional advertising is still alive and well, and when used in conjunction with digital marketing, the results can be beautiful.

Changing to a Collaborative Mindset

Digital marketers and traditional advertisers aren’t fundamentally different. After all, they have the same goal: help companies achieve their objectives. Working hand in hand, they have the ability to enhance traditional methods of advertising by integrating digital marketing strategies. This is a natural evolution that ought to be considered an advancement, not something burdensome or invasive.

Consider digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising which targets consumers who spend a lot of time away from their homes. Out-of-home advertising providers that moved toward digitization have been able to drive increased revenue streams thanks to their foresight. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, DOOH is expected to almost double its 2014 revenue figures by 2019. DOOH started in the realm of traditional media, then evolved into digital forms. Ultimately, it offers a mutually beneficial relationship for all its players, without negating at-home advertising on traditional platforms.

What does this mean for advertisers and marketers? The responsibility lies with them to create positive change by working together when possible.

Ways to Develop Digital-Traditional Bonds

Embracing any new habit takes patience and planning. The best practice for creating a partnership between digital marketing and traditional advertising is to spot key opportunities for the benefit of clientele, and follow those opportunities down various rabbit holes.

The following seven ways to foster digital-traditional ties are excellent starting points:

1. Explore successful traditional-digital campaigns.

Research begets epiphanies. Find and analyze examples of successful traditional-digital campaigns.

Want a clue? Start with “Share a Coke,” the 2016 phenomenon that was a huge hit for the soft drink behemoth. Coca-Cola added names, messages, and hashtags to its packaging, encouraging purchasers to share their Coke with the world via social media. Twitter blew up in a positive display of brand-building and loyalty. All aspects of the marketing ecosystem worked in tandem to drive consumers toward simple yet powerful actions.

Each amalgamation of digital-traditional you uncover will give you greater insights into clever ways you can incorporate both strategies into your campaigns.

2. Consider traditional advertising as a way to complete your message 'spread.'

If you only focus on digital advertising techniques, you will miss the chance to maximize your message’s journey across all platforms. Spread your message through various traditional channels, reaching all the consumer nooks and crannies. Exposure is still the name of the game, regardless of the decade.

After blanketing all possible markets using a combination of traditional and digital, you can then lightning-focus on digital messaging and build relevant, personalized relationships.

3. Think in terms of a two-way street.

A two-way street allows you to turn around and go in the opposite direction when needed. The same should be true for digital marketers and traditional advertisers.

Although traditional does tend to be used at the front end of campaigns, it shouldn’t be abandoned like Hansel and Gretel in the woods. Leave some crumbs so consumers can double back to traditional advertising platforms for a thorough, harmonious marketing mix.

4. Keep your eye on the prize.

Instead of grappling with the “is digital or traditional better?” puzzle, put it aside to focus on metrics like your return on investment and sophisticated key performance indicators.

Use those measurable goals to drive your advertising and marketing choices, not the distribution vehicles. Additionally, keep testing, testing, and testing using emerging data science tools. By taking an objective stance, you can quickly remove biases and make the right decisions for the health of any campaign, no matter what medium it lives on.

5. Have honest conversations about digital-traditional.

It’s OK to talk about digital marketing and traditional advertising in an open forum; in fact, it’s essential for collaboration and cross-pollination.

Instead of labeling any platform as “old-fashioned” or “ultra-modern,” talk about all possibilities as viable until proven otherwise. Foster chats among team members and add weekly debriefings to your schedule to generate an environment where people feel free to fluidly discuss options and opinions.

6. Develop winning formulas.

Being at the forefront of your industry is a privilege that grows from productivity and efficiency, not to mention the ability to know when a campaign is failing miserably.

When you hit on winning formulas, seize them, even if they're not exactly what you predicted they'd be. Figure out why a particular traditional-digital mix worked, and repeat it to further your — and your clients’ — success.

7. Work collaboratively with influential publishers.

High-value publishers may operate in both the traditional and digital worlds. For instance, the Wall Street Journal has a thriving online presence alongside its paper format.

Work with the publisher influencers who can drive the most revenue and become key partners. They may provide interesting insights into methods you never considered that merge traditional and digital seamlessly.

At the end of the day, remember that this isn’t the historical clash between the Hatfields and the McCoys. Traditional advertisers and digital marketers might not be ready to walk down the aisle, but they should at least be willing to share a cup of coffee, figure out how their commonalities can unite, and determine how their differences can be complementary. By identifying and merging their strongest attributes, they have the power to create engaging campaigns for a contemporary audience.

About the Author: Tom Alexander is founder and CEO of PK4 Media, an omnichannel media company located in El Segundo, California. With more than 13 years of experience in digital advertising, Tom has a keen understanding of the industry and the voids in the marketplace. As a result, he has developed a single system in PK4 Media’s platform XPS, which controls delivery and optimization, providing advertisers an effective and efficient way to achieve results.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Metrics-Driven Demand Gen in a Multichannel World

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

How to Find & Engage Brand Influencers

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

How to Write SEO Friendly Content

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Editor's Note: Sarah Robinson is a blogger and SEO enthusiast. She joins us today to explain how SEO friendly content improves your website performance, and how to optimize your content for search engine exposure.

 

Whether you’re writing a landing page for your website, or a blog post, it’s important that all of your content is SEO friendly. SEO friendly content has a tremendous impact on your ranking in search engines (i.e, Google), and the better you follow the conventions of SEO, the higher your content will rank on search engines.

The higher your website is ranked by search engines, the more visible it will be. This also leads to more website traffic and conversions. Your content is also more likely to provoke reader engagement and shares on social media if it is highly visible. Bottom line: you can write amazing content, but unless people see it, there’s no point.

Thankfully, producing SEO friendly content is not as difficult as it may seem. By following the steps outlined below, your content will be more interesting, grab attention and rank higher in search engines without excessive effort. Let’s dive in!

1. Research

Individuals and SEO companies should do at least some research before writing anything. Even if you are an expert on an issue, you should not forego this step. Not only does research provide you with the data you need to make a well-reasoned point, but it also helps you to find the key terms that your audience is looking for. By incorporating these terms into your content, you make it much more SEO friendly for casual browsers.

The research step is especially important for the heading (title) of your content. The heading is the first thing readers encounter, and it therefore determines whether they will click away, or stay on to read more. Your title should be well structured, to-the-point and relevant to common search terms.

A high quality heading will help search engines understand what is on your page, and it will assist in gauging relevancy when a user searches for certain keywords. A headline will also determine whether your newsletter subscribers want to open and read your content.

How do you create a title that engages? To start, it’s a given that you should take a dive into SEO keyword research to find the terms which readers are looking up. But keeping your headlines short and catchy is also important. List articles (‘listicles’) attract attention by outlining the structure of an article in the title, so readers know what to expect before reading.Just take a look at recent BuzzFeed headlines to get a feel for what attracts readers. Here are some examples taken from the website:

2. Unique and original content

It is important that the content you produce is unique and original. This doesn’t mean you have to be a pioneer in your industry and propose something completely new or revolutionary. But if you say the exact same thing as everyone else, in the exact same way, content that is otherwise SEO friendly can still fail. Everyone has a unique spin or view on an issue, and in good content, you must be prepared to offer yours.

While this advice may or may not seem obvious, the point is worth stressing. For SEO-optimized content, it’s vitally important to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism, in this case, means copying large chunks of text from existing websites or even entire articles without the right permission or HTML attribution. Not only is it unethical to do this, but your website can get penalized for these methods by search engines, which will bring down your site’s ranking considerably.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use sources to back up your argument and make your content more credible. In fact, you should be using other sources - but rather than offering extensive and direct quotes from existing content, summarize, and cite the important facts while providing a link. Being lazy will sink you like a brick - Google knows, and you will never get away with it.

If you are working hard to keep your content original, but have to use quotations, there are many places you can go to find out whether search engines will get suspicious. Copyscape is a great way to quickly check if there are any copies of your website content on other sites, or whether original content will trigger red flags to search engines. When in doubt, check first!

3. Images

Firstly, yes you should absolutely include relevant images with your content. And secondly, they can and should be optimized both for readability, and SEO.

Images are important to your content because they visually establish the context of an article, and give readers’ eyes a rest. Have you ever gone on to a webpage and there was just all text on the page? Was it inviting and enjoyable to read? Probably not: no one likes impenetrable chunks of text, so it is important to break it up with images. Images also help to make your content more shareable on social websites; if you use interesting images, you can quickly attract attention.

Images, like the text in your content, will also impact your search engine rankings. You can add keywords to an image’s file name, and captions, tags and alternative text when relevant. It is also important that you check the size of your image, and compress or resize them when appropriate. Images need to be big enough so they aren’t blurry, but not so big that they slow down the loading time of your webpages.

4. Make the text interesting

Just because you have added lots of images to your content doesn’t mean you are done making it attractive! You can (and should) make the actual text more interesting to read by formatting it elegantly.

There are multiple ways to make content pleasurable for reading, and it’s important to implement these methods whenever possible, because Google has quality guidelines, and it checks to see if sites are following them.

By changing up the size and style of font as well as underlining the right words, or putting them in bold/italics, you can direct a reader’s eye to the most important things; content is more interesting to look at when all words aren’t the same.

HTML subheadings to organize your content are also important. Not only do they help to give your content structure and improve readability, but they also show search engines that your web-pages are detailed and useful.

All this being said, it’s easy to go overboard changing up the look of your text. If you change too much, too often, the results can appear unprofessional and distracting. Remember, you want to draw readers attention to the most important parts of your text. Focus, and retain a balance between the mundane and the stylized.

5. Content length

The right length for content depends on your genre, audience, and how much you have to say. Follow common sense in this regard: a blog post should be long enough to be informative (anywhere between 500 and 2000 words). But depending on the subject, you may need a lot more, or a lot less.

Word count does not factor into SEO as much as people sometimes think. 300 is a good minimum, but beyond that, it is more important that you post content consistently. Realistically, if you make content-writing difficult, it will be difficult to read, and you will probably find excuses not to do it. By sticking to a reasonable word limit,content writing becomes more enjoyable, which increases the likelihood that you will continue to produce content in the future, which will also raise the ranking of your website.

Summary

Making your content SEO friendly is crucial if you want it to be seen. You may have great content but if you haven’t properly optimized it, you won’t get readers or leads. There’s no wrong way to start, so if your content isn’t SEO optimized yet, pick something that stands out, and get your site to the top of Google!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Convert More Website Visitors into Customers: Best Practices for Usability and Analytics

Fundamentals of Social Media for SEO

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.