Month: December 2013

The Disadvantages of Responsive Web Design

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There have been hundreds of articles written about responsive web design over the past three years. Essentially, all websites want to do the same thing: show the viewer the information he wants to see in a way that’s easy to read on the device he is using.

Every time I look into this, I come down on the side of using device specific websites, not responsive design. Why? Because I believe that someone who is accessing your website from a mobile phone is in a different place in the buying process than someone who is using a desktop computer. And I think mobile users are looking for a specific level of information.

Research has shown that mobile users are increasingly ready to buy, with mobile purchases seeing more than 30% growth year over year (comScore Inc. 2013). Now that doesn’t mean that the purchase will happen on the mobile phone.

In fact, there is data that shows the consumer is researching on their phones, and then physically walking into the store to make the purchase (over 70% according to comScore). According to Pew Research, 24% of smart phone users look up product reviews while in the store.

responsive design example via Adobe

So it’s crazy for a retailer NOT to make his mobile website as easy to use as possible. Do your research to discover where most mobile users go on your site, and make those pages easily accessible from your mobile home page. If you know a mobile user is most likely to do product research on your site, make that a top navigation choice. Show a mobile user specific information based on your knowledge about them. Navigating on a small screen is not the same as navigating on a desktop or tablet. Another key stat: mobile app users are four times more engaged than those surfing the web through a browser (comScore Mobile Metrix, March 2012). Clearly these consumers need to be able to easily find what they want.

comscore mobile ecommerce stats

The other disadvantage I’ve read a lot about is that responsive sites take longer to load on mobile devices because of the way they are built. And long load times are bad for the consumer experience and something Google frowns upon. After just four seconds of waiting, you’ll have lost 25% of your visitors (KISSmetrics), and abandons are exponentially higher after that.

Responsive design has its place, however. If you don’t have an ecommerce site, for instance, it might make sense, and even save you money on your web programming in the long run. I have seen some great examples of responsive sites that translate well device to device. The key is to know your audience and understand what their needs are when they come to your site, regardless of the device they used to arrive there.

Learn how to use responsive design to your advantage.

Watch The Mobile Web and Responsive Design, and get expert advice for developing an effective responsive design strategy. Learn the 6 reasons why mobile websites should lead your digital approach, the key steps and tools necessary for following Google's guidance on using responsive design, and when you should create special mobile sites, or use your core site for mobile traffic. Get instant access to this class now.

 


3 Key Questions to Ask Before Investing in Content Marketing

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The good ol’ days of developing a single message and broadcasting it over the airways are long gone. Now marketers are faced with a seemingly endless proliferation of digital distribution channels: websites, YouTube, Facebook, tablets, mobile and the next big thing being dreamed up in someone’s dorm room as we speak. It all adds up to one thing: C-L-U-T-T-E-R.

How do you cut through the clutter and decide when to allocate time and resources to content marketing? Where do you start? Begin by asking yourself the following—and be truthful and honest with your answers.

RELATED CLASS: Developing a Content Marketing Strategy

1. What are your marketing objectives?

What do you want to share? Be specific. For example, there’s a difference between answering “We need to tell our company’s story” and answering “We need to tell our company’s story so prospective customers can immediately get a feel for what we offer and why we do what we do.” A focused and measurable objective is the cornerstone of your content development strategy. If you know what you want to accomplish, you can tailor your content to do just that.

One of my favorite examples can be found in this video for Revolution Dance:

If you’re selling dance costumes, what better way to showcase your product than by seeing them in action? And who doesn’t love cute kids?

2. Who is your target audience?

Don’t fall into the this-video-will-appeal-to-everyone trap. It won’t. New employees need information that is different from that provided to customers, just as investors need information that is different from that developed for potential employees. It’s all about them not you. If you offer content that is crafted to be interesting/helpful/informative to them as opposed to being focused on what you want to say, you’ll have a much better chance of grabbing their attention and keeping it.

3. What do you want to share and why?

(OK, that’s technically 2 questions)

You’ve probably already identified what you think you want to share, after all the ideas are the fun part, right? And this one is a “killer” that’s guaranteed to “go viral”. Pause one more time and ask yourself “Why?”.

  • Why will sharing it help accomplish your objectives? (see Question #1)
  • Why will your audience want to watch it? Will it create a connection? (see Question #2)

If you can answer all 3 questions with honesty and no hesitation, you have the green light to begin creating your content. If however, you find yourself hesitating, stop right here. It’s a sign you need to rethink your strategy or you’ll never cut through that clutter.

Learn how to incorporate real-time content into your marketing strategy.

Watch Real Time or Die: Feeding the Content Beast and see how top brands, bloggers and media outlets are producing high-impact content at higher velocity. You’ll also get expert tips to plan for and produce real-time content—and feed your own content beast. Access it now with a FREE trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Get instant access now.

 


The 7 Steps of the Inbound Marketing Campaign Process

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The business world is always trying to figure out how to use process to create scale. Makes sense, right? With good process comes scale, and with scale comes higher profitability. The same holds true in marketing. Properly deployed inbound marketing requires many different things to happen. Forgetting just one can ruin the whole campaign. Strategically, most understand what inbound marketing is, but many still fail to deploy it with much efficiency or process. Below are the seven steps that must occur in order to create scale and to maximize inbound marketing opportunity.

inbond marketing campaign process

1. The Offer

When it comes to inbound marketing, everything starts with the offer. However, not all offers are created equal. Most offers should be geared more towards top of the funnel visitors who probably don’t know much about the business whose website they just visited.

These are the folks looking for information to help solve their own problems and represent the vast majority of most companies’ website visitors. Top of the funnel offers can include free whitepapers, ebooks, guides, videos and checklists.

Middle of the funnel website visitors are likely people who are already familiar with the brand. They represent a small contingent of traffic on most websites. They’ve likely downloaded top of the funnel offers in the past and have some level of trust or perceived value in the branded content. Middle of the funnel offers can include webinars, case studies, free samples, catalogs, FAQ sheets, brochures, etc.

Bottom of the funnel visitors are the smallest group of visitors on most websites. These are people seeking out who will solve their problem. This group is looking for free trials, demos, assessments, consultations, estimates and coupon offers.

2. Landing Pages and CTAs

The offer represents a brand’s currency in the inbound marketing quid pro quo transaction. The call-to-action (CTA) and the landing page are a website’s checkout lane and cash register, respectively. Website visitors who convert do so by paying with their name, email address and whatever other form fields a brand includes on its landing page.

RELATED CLASS: Landing Page Optimization for B2B Marketing

Without CTAs, website visitors will struggle to find a brand’s landing pages. Without landing page conversions, an inbound marketing campaign will struggle to show a return and proper nurturing will be impossible.

b2b landing page examples

B2B landing page examples via ion interactive

3. Lead Nurturing

After a visitor converts on a landing page, they’re now ready to be nurtured by sending a series of emails that deliver prudent content over time. This automated marketing exercise should roughly mirror a typical sales cycle.

Lead nurturing can be deployed using many different channels. However, this example is for email lead nurturing only. Many of the same principles hold true across other channels. Lead nurturing empowers marketers to deliver the proper content to the appropriate person at the best time.

Marketers who master lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales ready leads and do it at a 33 percent lower cost.

RELATED CLASS: How to Setup a Lead Management Process

4. Email

The difference between the lead nurturing step and the email step is automation. In this step, marketers need to turn their attention towards their current contacts database. Upon the launch of a new offer, marketers should segment their email database with just the contacts they feel would appreciate receiving the offer. Open, click-through and conversion rates are much higher this way.

5. Earned and Owned Blogging

Most marketers are very familiar with owned blogging. It’s as simple as writing an article and publishing it on the brand’s blog. However, earned media has traditionally resided in the PR arena.

After a new offer is published behind a landing page, marketers should publish blog content that closely aligns with the topic of the offer. This makes click-throughs on the CTA and conversions on the landing page much more palatable for readers.

After that, marketers should put their PR hat on and reach out to other bloggers and journalists to see if they can guest post or get media coverage for the content represented in the offer.

RELATED CLASS: How to Leverage Earned and Owned Media to Create Effective Paid Media Programs

6. Social Media

This is perhaps the simplest of all seven steps. Promote the earned and owned articles as well as the offers themselves as part of the brand’s normal broadcast, sharing and engagement activities on social media. It’s important, however, not to overdo it. Marketers should have a clear understanding of what’s acceptable and what’s taboo in the online communities they manage.

7. Analyze and Adjust

Like all good processes, analysis and adjustment should occur regularly in order to make sure each step is optimized and working properly. This process also helps create fertile ground for testing which goes a long way in maximizing and taking advantage of online opportunity. While the individual contributors to each step of the process should analyze and adjust the steps they’re responsible for, ultimately, the campaign in its entirety is the responsibility of the department head.

The great thing about this process is that it’s easily supported and executed with the right people and software in place. When the machine is fully operational increasing output (traffic and conversions) is simply a matter of creating more offers. Marketers will realize scale if they deploy the entire inbound marketing campaign process described above.

Learn how to incorporate real-time content into your marketing strategy.

Watch Real Time or Die: Feeding the Content Beast and see how top brands, bloggers and media outlets are producing high-impact content at higher velocity. You’ll also get expert tips to plan for and produce real-time content—and feed your own content beast. Access it now with a FREE trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Get instant access now.

 


4 Ways Social Media Helps You Land Awesome Links

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When you hear about marketing opportunities using social media you might not immediately think of link building. Traffic, clicks, conversions - all these things come to mind with social media marketing, but for the purposes of link building social media sites can work quite well into a strategy.

Many tout link building as one of the hardest and most important parts of search engine optimization. According to a June 2013 Moz survey, link features, meaning external links, how many, how high-quality, and where are they  coming from—is the 2nd most important cluster of Google's algorithm.

links and sep factors

With that, here are 4 tips to help you leverage social media to uncover awesome link building opportunities.

1. Form relationships.

The main purpose for a social networking site is to get social. It’s where we go today to meet new folks, share information, collaborate and learn. If you take this principle into consideration when developing a link building strategy you can start looking for opportunities to form relationships with your existing followers.

RELATED CLASS: Twitter Tactics for Higher Engagement & ROI

Rand at Moz suggests using sites like FollowerWonk to take an examination of your existing followers and conduct follower outreach. Who follows you and who happen to be the most influential bloggers or run successful websites in your niche? If they already follow you there’s a good chance they really do know who you are. With a bit of personalization and maybe a light pitch to get a link who knows you may have a shot at earning a link. Do this research on all your social profiles—not just Twitter.

2. Find guest blogging opportunities.

Similar to follower outreach, the ability to find guest blogging prospects are just a few short clicks away. I’ve used this tactic in the past with a simple tweet/Google+/Facebook post, “anyone looking for a guest blog post for their _____ blog?” Doesn’t hurt to ask! Or use this principle in another way by conducting a Twitter search to see if anyone has used the words “need guest blog post” or “write for us” in a tweet. Don’t forget about Twitter advanced search or Google+ search to dig deep into updates on social media.

Additionally, looking through Twitter for users who are tweeting about news and topics in your industry may uncover some great bloggers you never knew existed. Check out their profile which often will link to the blog they manage, look onsite to see if they accept guest blog posts and suddenly you’ve found great prospects for guest blogging.

3. Uncover unlinked brand mentions.

I’m a big proponent of searching for unlinked brand mentions. I am amazed at how many instances of a brand there are online that don’t contain a link, but publishers are willing to update the page with it if I ask nicely. Uncover these mentions using search engines within a social media site. Sure you’ll uncover a tweet or status update that has the brand name mentioned, but maybe it’s also a link to an article or news story about the company. After some clicks and reading through the piece you may discover an unlinked brand mention contained in the post.

RELATED CLASS: Tomorrow's SEO: 9 Critical SEO Skills You Need to Succeed

4. Get ideas for content marketing & link building strategies.

Last but certainly not least social networking sites can provide great ideas for content marketing and link building strategies. Reviewing the things your competitors are doing with content marketing or link building is evident when conducting research through social media. Look for popular promotions that receive a lot of likes, RTs or +1s. Find out about new partnerships, press or industry news by monitoring social activities. Each of these are great ways to uncover awesome new link and content marketing strategies.

These are just a few of the benefits that social media provides to us link builders out there. How have you used social media for link building? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

Gain better visibility in the search engine results by optimizing your social media content.

Watch How to Optimize Social Media for Search, and learn how to optimize Facebook, Twitter and more for search visibility, and how your social network profiles can benefit from search optimization. Get instant access now.

 


Why You Should Bid On Branded Terms & Let Resellers Bid, Too

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Many companies utilize a network of resellers and/or affiliates to help them generate more customers. These resellers are usually paid some kind of bounty on an agreed upon action (sale, install, appointment).

This is true in telecommunications, medical, home products, education, and many other categories you can think of. The key here is to know who is selling, how they are doing it, and to be able to control it as best you can. If you are the brand, you get to set the rules. If others want to sell your wares, they need to play by those rules, or lose the privilege. Here's how to manage your pay-per-click rules & keyword strategy to protect your brand:

Who gets position 1 in branded search?

One thing is for sure, your affiliates shouldn’t be bidding for placement above yours in branded search. You are the brand, so you get to be in first place. Depending on what article you read, paid search gets as much as 41% of the desktop clicks on the search page. The lion’s share of those clicks go to the top paid position. Clearly that’s where you need your ad to be. And as the brand, you pay less for your clicks than anyone else does to be in the top position (a little more on that below).

RELATED CLASS: Who's Got the Time? How to Save Time & Better Prioritize Your PPC Efforts

In the example below, Brooks Running Shoes is below Zappos in the paid listings for the branded query, "Brooks Glycerin 11 Womens".

Who gets positions 2 and 3?

Is it okay to let resellers bid on your branded terms for positions 2 and 3? It is okay, and you should allow it. Why? One primary reason is it can help you manage your competitors by keeping them out of those spots. You probably don’t need to allow more than two resellers to bid on your brand, since there are only three paid positions in total, and you already are taking one. If your resellers can earn money from you by taking one of those positions, they’ll spend more to get there.  And if they are spending more, your competition may decide not to bid for those branded terms (NOTE: Companies often bid on competitive branded terms so that if a potential customer is searching on another brand, their name will still turn up as well).  If you aren’t in the top three positions, your competitors are getting clicks and sales that should be yours.

RELATED CLASS: Google Shopping Overview: Strategies and Tactics for Success

But I haven't controlled this in the past!

What if your current PPC landscape is a free-for-all? My advice is that you take everyone out of the market except for your top two sellers. You can’t physically prevent someone from bidding on your branded terms. However, if you are paying resellers, you can create your agreements to say that if they want to earn bounties, they cannot bid on your branded terms. And if they are already doing so, simply contact them and tell them to stop.

If I don’t have affiliates, do I still need to bid on branded terms?

Yes and here’s why, even if you are already number one in organic:

1. You will pick up more clicks if you are in position one in paid and position one in organic.

It’s a fact that has been proven over and over again. If you are unsure, try testing it. If your clicks (and conversions) don’t improve, then stop the campaign.

2. Branded terms are affordable—if you're the brand!

Branded terms are really inexpensive when you’re the brand because your quality score on branded terms will be higher than anyone else’s. That means that you’ll pay far less per click then the next guy pays for your branded terms (this is significant, say $.40 per click if you’re the brand, to $4 per click if you’re not).

3. You’ll be able to manage your competition better (see above).

If you aren’t bidding on your branded terms, there’s nothing to stop the competition from doing so.

What about mobile?

The same principals apply to mobile. The big difference is that mobile only has 2 paid positions available. You still want the top position and one of your resellers can take position 2. With the Google Enhanced Campaigns that launched earlier this year, you can no longer create a mobile only campaign. You’ll need to manage your mobile bids as a part of your overall campaign. You can read more about that here.

And of course, you do need to be in mobile. Half of all searches are conducted using a mobile device (source: Microsoft), and 90% of those searches lead to action, with 50% of those leading to a purchase (source: Search Engline Land). You can’t afford NOT to be there.

Learn how to drive more ecommerce transactions with Google Product Listing Ads.

Watch Google Shopping Overview: Strategies and Tactics for Successand start leveraging Google Product Listing Ads (part of Google Shopping) to drive more transactions today. You'll see how to integrate Google Product Listing Ads into your current search strategy, and get expert tips for optimizing your PPC spend. Get instant access now

 


6 Things Search Engines Want from Your Content

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SEO checklistIf you want to rank high with search engines, you have to understand what they want. So with that in mind, here’s a roundup of qualities that search engines look for in websites and your content. When you make sure your site includes these features, you make it as easy as possible for search engines—and, by extension, visitors—to find you.

1. Relevant Keywords

Think about this way: When someone goes to a search engine looking for the services you offer or products you sell, what will he or she search for? Whatever the answer is, those are the terms you need to work into your website. Some of the best places to use keywords are headlines, headings, subheadings, and the first and the last paragraphs of posts. Don’t overdo keyword placement either. Your writing should sound natural, not like it’s being written to trick a computer program.

2. Images They Can Understand

Search engines use complex algorithms to determine which content most closely aligns with a user’s search query—but even with their formulas, search engines can’t see pictures the way people do. That’s why all your images should have relevant ALT and TITLE attributes defined, to let search engines know what users are seeing. To make this process simple, download an app like SEO Friendly Images or All in One SEO Pack. Then, be sure to name your files with descriptive terms that relate to what users might search for to find them.

what search engines want from content

3. Speed

Search engines like websites that load quickly. When someone comes to your site, how quickly does the text load? Are there any stalls before images appear? One good way to test your site is through Google's Page Insights. This tool will evaluate your URL and then provide suggestions for improving speed.

RELATED CLASS: Tomorrow's SEO: 9 Critical SEO Skills You Need to Succeed

4. Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are less about being picked up by search engines and more about being noticed by Web users once you are. When someone searches for terms related to your industry and your site comes up, the meta description is what will appear below your link. It gives users a clue as to what they’ll find by clicking through to your site. search engines content

5. Internal Links

Internal links are links on your site pointing to other content on your site. They build relevance for search, but also they help your readers find additional, valuable content throughout your pages. These are most helpful when they use keywords (rather than words like “this link” or “here”).

RELATED CLASS: Mobile SEO: 5 Things You Need to Know

6. External Links

External links are links on your site pointing to content off your site. For the best SEO power, you must use these sparingly—don’t link to any and everything. Your ThoughtsWhat do you think about these qualities as compared to your website? Do they describe your content? If not, what needs to change?

Learn how to build and design your website with SEO in mind.

Watch Incorporating Good SEO into Web Designs, and make sure you avoid common design pitfalls that can hinder your search engine rankings. Learn how to see what search engine bots see when they crawl your website, and how to work around design challenges to balance design and SEO. Watch it now with a FREE trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Get instant access now.

 


How a Glove Manufacturer Exceeded Sales Goals with Multi-Touch Email & Teleprospecting

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grow salesIn the previous four posts on the importance of multi-touch lead nurturing, we discussed what it takes to deliver a qualified, sales-ready lead. In summary, we said:

  • Marketing is now required to generate more of the higher quality sales-ready leads defined by the sales organization.
  • This isn’t easy to do. Marketing automation can’t make it happen alone.
  • You’re going to have to plan for multiple touches and multiple channels unique to each market and buying conditions.
  • To shorten the process: have a comprehensive plan, targeted lists, segmented messaging, compelling offers, great creative (email, direct mail, etc.), a plan for personal touches (tele-prospecting)—and track the metrics so you can adjust.
  • We also said that marketing must take over the job of pre-qualifying leads. The leads that come in from marketing automation software or over-the-transom inquiries simply do not contain the level of data that Sales requires to justify their limited time and sales resources.

In this post, we’re we'll take a look at a real-world scenario in which a major manufacturer of industrial gloves put these principles into action and reaped the benefits.

RELATED CLASS: How To Understand Your Buyers: 5 Insights for Better B2B Marketing

Multi-Touch Lead Nurturing Case Study: Glove Manufacturer

The ABC Glove Corporation (not the real name—we can’t reveal it in this post) is a leader in the field of industrial gloves. The average value of a new customer account to ABC is high—around $50,000 per customer per year. The target contact is a decision maker in safety, operations or purchasing within metal manufacturing industries.

ABC’s ambitious goal was to gain $2.5 million in incremental sales. The corporation’s marketing department tried everything: pay-per-click advertising, email, tradeshows and more—but could not acquire enough qualified sales leads to hit this target. ABC called us in to help them take a fresh and more productive approach.

RELATED CLASS: Enterprise Sales Predictions: How to Use Big Data to Predict Sales & Increase Revenue

First, we identified the “sales-ready A lead” criteria based on their selling process and marketplace. Then we did some simple, back-of-the-napkin analysis of the needs of the lead-to-sales funnel. Based on the estimations of the vice president of marketing, we found that achieving an incremental $2.5 million in annual sales at $50,000 per sale meant they would have to close 50 new sales in a year. At a 20% proposal close rate, they needed 250 qualified sales opportunities in the proposal stage. At a 25% conversion rate (qualified sales-ready A leads to proposal rate), ABC needed 1,000 “Qualified A” leads in the sales team pipeline. And the conversion rate of marketing inquiry level (MQL) leads to sales-ready A leads is 10%. The bottom line: ABC Corporation needed 10,000 MQLs in the top of the demand generation funnel process to be able to hit their incremental sales target.

Why wouldn't email alone work?

The VP of marketing estimated that on the high end, the available universe of companies in metal manufacturing was roughly 7,500. If ABC emailed all 7,500 and got a 1% inbound response, that would equal 75. If 50% of those leads filled out a form, that would result in 35 marketing-level MQL leads and only 7.5 Sales-ready A leads. ABC would have to email to this list at least 285 times to get the 10,000 marketing-level leads in the pipeline. (But it is unlikely that every email would result in a 1% inbound response as the response rates from this small audience would decline over time.)

So email alone could not achieve the sales goals.

Multi-Touch and Multi-Channel Solution

Under the conditions of this small but highly valuable target market, we determined that ABC needed a much higher lead-to-sale conversion process to meet their sales goals. We recommended a multi-touch and multi-channel sequence of email and tele-prospecting with comprehensive metrics benchmarking.

sales funnel example

RELATED CLASS: How to Setup a Lead Management Process

We normally recommend testing different approaches with a small sample of prospects to see which approach stimulates the highest response level. In this case, we tested two offers: a book about physical safety in the metal manufacturing environment versus the offer of a free pair of gloves. The VP of marketing suggested the offer of a free pair of gloves because in his experience, the prospect would request a sample pair in any case, so he felt this would short-circuit the process to some degree. We were less certain, as we have found in the past that a free sample sometimes feels like too much of a commitment early in the relationship. We also tested two lists, an in-house list versus a rental list.

The test showed that the appeal of the offer was about equal between the gloves and the book. We went with the gloves for the final campaign because sooner or later, the prospect would request a free pair of gloves anyway. Both lists performed equally well.

The multi-touch lead nurturing process involved:

  • Initial email campaign
  • Initial call (left voice message or in some accounts we must be directed to proper contact)
  • Call to engage new contact in the value prop and offers
  • Email to correct contact, and or email content as requested to support our dialog
  • Call to complete the value prop and offer conversation, listen to needs and pain points and gather those critical data points into the lead qualification script-record, and if qualified, close on ABC sales rep appointment

Remember that we have been saying it takes seven to 13-plus touches to deliver a sales-ready lead? In this case, the average number of touches was 4.28. Why did our campaign for ABC require so few touches? The answer is embedded in what we’ve been saying all along:

  • Have a good list (few incorrect contacts)
  • Develop creative that captures hearts and minds and have follow up content and dialog to support it
  • Offer something of high perceived value
  • Optimize the value proposition delivery by adding teleprospecting to the mix. This creates a personal relationship with the prospect. Remember: people buy from people, and prospects don’t share their qualifying pain points online.

While we can’t share final numbers for incremental sales for this client, we do know that the client’s sales team is delighted with the results and they are continuing to implement our multi-touch, multi-channel approach.

Learn how to nurture more leads to qualified with an effective marketing automation program.

Watch Marketing Automation Best Practices for Success, and get expert advice to build your case for marketing automation, select the right solution, develop the right people with the right skills, and define your implementation strategy. Get instant access to this class now.

 


How to Boost Your Blog by Interviewing Influencers

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blog interview influencersOne of the most powerful ways to boost the profile of your blog is by interviewing people who are already established in your niche.

Here are proven tactics you can use to track down great interviewees and make the most of the content they help you produce.

1. Find influencers

Your main focus here should be on the social following someone has — the aim is to interview them on your site, then get them to promote the content to their followers. There are two tools that can be used to help track down influencers with strong social media presences: Topsy and Followerwonk.

RELATED CLASS: Brand Influencer Marketing Playbook

Both have free options, although you will need to subscribe if you want to access advanced features. Both have simple to use search functions that will allow you to enter relevant keywords and build up a list of potential interviewees.

You should take into account the number of followers they have and the kind of engagement levels their tweets get (ie the number of Retweet and replies). You should also take note of any other social media profiles they have as these could offer extra exposure.

 2. Contact them & offer something in return

As with any form of outreach, it's easier to get people to do what you want if you're able to offer them something in return. If you've already got an established blog with a decent number of readers, or a reasonably powerful readership you should be able to offer exposure or a link in return the interview will probably be enough. If you're still looking to establish yourself, you may have to sweeten the deal a little by offering freebies, but you'll find there are many people out there who are willing to conduct such interviews out of the goodness of their own heart.

Regardless, your email approach should communicate the benefits the interviewee will get out of the process as this will increase the likelihood of them saying yes to your proposal.

3. Leverage video when possible

If you're not confident with video and/or audio technology, then writing up the interview as a blog post is fine. However, you should think whether multimedia interviews will help boost engagement. If you're worried people won't hang around to watch or listen to the whole thing, you can always include an audio transcript as well.

RELATED CLASS: B2B Video: Expert Tactics and Tips for Success

4. Craft smart questions

The chances are you're going to be conducting a sympathetic interview with your subject, so you won't be asking anything too probing. However, you still need to do your preparation to make sure you get the most value out of your interviews. As well as reading up on the background of your subjects, you also need to think about what information they can provide to your readers. More often than not, you'll find yourself asking for tips and advice on how to replicate success. That said, don't be afraid to delve into other areas if you feel they add value to things.

5. Integrate smart calls-to-action

Done well, interviews should bring plenty of new visitors to your site. However, to get the most out of this tactic you need to convince them to come back again. In order to do this, you should make sure the interview page features a call to action that encourages them to sign up to your newsletter or follow your social media accounts.

6. Measure results & invite successful interviewees to come back

You should also keep track of visitor numbers so you can identify the interviewees that bring in most traffic and conduct a follow up with them in a few months' time to get another boost.

RELATED CLASS: Executing Winning Content Marketing

Interviews are a great way to gain traction in areas that you would otherwise have difficulty breaking into.

 


How B2B Marketers Can Use Primary Research to Build Authority

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Primary Research Example: Our Very Own "State of Digital Talent" ReportWith so many businesses leveraging content marketing these days, it can become challenging to make your brand’s voice rise above the chatter.

One way you can separate yourself is by releasing high-quality, original research. This strategy takes more time and effort than churning out blog posts, but it could be the key to elevating your brand above the competition.

By conducting primary market research, you are creating original content that is useful to your customers and not accessible from other vendors. Not to mention, primary research has the ability to earn a high volume of social shares and links, while building your brand’s authority within your market.

Janna Finch, Managing Editor at Software Advice, a research firm that analyzes marketing trends and software, recently published an article showcasing four companies that have successfully used primary research to help solidify their brand as a market leader. Here is a brief summary, with an additional 5th example—our very State of Digital Marketing Talent report.

1. Moz’s “2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors Survey”

Moz has been viewed as an industry leader in the SEO community for over a decade. To help solidify this position, Moz released its “2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors Survey.” For this report, the company surveyed over 120 search marketers on more than 80 search engine ranking factors. With the data Moz collected, it was able to capture what influences search engine results, according to search marketers. The quality of this data helped popularize Moz, and helped generate nearly 700 links and more than 3,000 social media shares.

2. Adobe’s “2013 Digital Marketing Optimization Survey Results”

Adobe is already regarded as an authority on marketing by the industry, but to help reinforce its position, it published the “2013 Digital Marketing Survey Results.” This provided a comprehensive overview of what characteristics marketers believe are essential to achieving success. The report was delivered with summaries and easy-to-understand graphs, which helped present the potentially-overwhelming data in an easily-shared format. According to a LinkedIn case study, after marketers reviewed the report, they were 50 percent more likely to agree that Adobe is shaping the future of digital marketing. This LinkedIn case study evidences the potential for primary research to solidify your brand as an authority and an industry leader.

3. Silverpop’s “2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study”

Silverpop is one of the most authoritative brands in the marketing automation community. To help reinforce this standing, the company turned to its “2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study.” This study provided actionable and useful information for Silverpop’s customers. The report analyzed the click-through rates, open rates and message sizes of every email message sent by 2,787 companies around the world. Silverpop’s report generated a great deal of buzz, earned 206 links and got a great deal of Web exposure.

These four examples showcased in Finch’s article help reinforce the idea that primary research can be an effective strategy for companies looking to reinforce their brands as industry leaders. Keep in mind that creating useful and original primary research is not easy, but the rewards might make it worth the extra effort.

4. The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’ “B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends”

The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs recently joined forces to survey 1,218 B2B marketers to help build a comprehensive picture of current content marketing trends and challenges. The two organizations published their findings in an easily-digestible report called “B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.” Their report analyzed what mediums marketers have found to be the most successful, along with a variety of other useful industry data. It successfully positioned these brands as marketing thought leaders. Not to mention, the report earned over 126 linking domains, 2,000 social shares and 26,000 Slideshare views.

5. OMI's "State of Digital Marketing Talent" report

This past summer, we surveyed 747 executives from global agencies and brands on the state of digital & social media skills and training within their companies. Grab your free copy here (worth over $495), and check out the corresponding infographic, too. The study found Fortune 500 companies and global agencies face a serious digital marketing skills shortage. This report is helping address the widespread lack of talent in digital and champion the importance of training and education. We released the study in November, and to date, have generated over 60 back links and thousands of downloads.


 


Social media: It’s not easy, but it is simple.

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In under a decade, social media has become a mainstream channel for consumers.

72% of adult internet users in the U.S. are now active on at least one social network, up from 67% in 2012 and just 8% in 2005. (Source: MediaPost) 

As marketers, we must embrace the change and explore this new & exciting channel for communication with our customers. Simply put, if you’re not embracing social media, you’re missing out.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”- George Bernard Shaw

For some, this change can be overwhelming, time consuming, fast paced and scary. Whilst it’s true that you must invest in this change, with the same time and care you invest in traditional marketing channels, the bottom line we often overlook is simplicity.

social media

Social media is simply a new channel for communication with your audience that ultimately can compliment your existing marketing mix. It’s a place to listen, to learn, to inform, to help and to engage.

RELATED CLASS: Best Practices for Integrated Content & Social Media Marketing

The exact same principles you apply to more traditional channels apply to social media too.

Send the right message, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

Marketing 101, right?

The Right Message
Earn the attention of your audience. Provide valuable content. Be Helpful. Solve Problems. Engage.

54% of B2B marketers plan to increase spending on content marketing in 2014. (Source: MyCustomer.com)

The Right People
Social media is not a mass marketing channel. In fact, I can’t think of one that is. Use hashtags, targeted ads and social media tools to laser in on your audience. Think your audience isn’t on social media? Think again.

In fact, the 55-64 age group is the fastest growing demographic on Twitter — at 79% since 2012. (Source: Jeff Bullas)

The Right Place
You don’t have to be on all social media channels, but you do have to be where your audience is.

Approximately 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision. (Source: Nielsen)

RELATED CLASS: How to Prepare Your Brand for Today's SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile) Marketing Environment

The Right Time
Is your brand prepared to be spontaneous? Be timely. Respond quickly. Leverage trends and current affairs.

More than 70% of users expect to hear back from the brand they’re interacting with on Twitter, and 53% want a response within the hour.  (Source: Search Engine Watch)

Make sure your brand is ready to send the right message, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Our audience is embracing social media. Are you?

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