Month: February 2014

40+ Ways to Improve Your Digital Strategy in 2014, Part Two

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The Online Marketing Institute's Annual List of Top Digital Strategists Share Their Best Advice for Driving ROI in the New Year.

Welcome to part-two of the top digital strategists series. This part is focused on B2B marketing and how to use content to improve your digital strategy. If you missed part-one, read what top OMI educators had to say about the future of social media in 2014.

To help marketers discover new opportunities for driving ROI, the Online Marketing Institute identified the top 40+ digital strategists, and asked them for their best advice for 2014. These OMI online learning center digital educators were selected because they are:

  1. Embracing the latest integrated digital strategies and technologies
  2. Advancing the industry through education — speaking, blogging, and teaching
  3. Driving game-changing results for their clients and organization

B2B MARKETING INSIGHTS

In the second installment of this three-part series,  17 digital strategists well-versed in the area of B2B marketing share their best practices, predictions for the future of business to business marketing, evaluation of industry trends and share the know-how to deliver thought provoking insight that will lay the groundwork for you to build an effective, holistic digital marketing strategy in 2014.

9. Rediscover the humanity in your digital communication

"Rediscover the humanity in your digital communication and make sure your team is listening, paying close attention, and taking action to build a relationship between your brand and your consumers. Whether you’re on the front lines of consumer service or in the boardroom making company-wide decisions, whether you're online or face-to-face, listening and responding accordingly is paramount to success. Sometimes that means engaging with the consumer, sometimes it means delivering what they’re really after. But it always means responding with exceptional service and creating an unparalleled experience with your brand at every touchpoint."

- Susan Baroncini-Moe

Susan Baroncini-Moe is the author of the bestselling, Business in Blue Jeans: How to Have a Successful Business on Your Own Terms, in Your Own Style. She is an executive coach and a marketing consultant for B2B and the wellness and hospitality industries. She regularly speaks to audiences of all sizes and has shared the stage with business giants like Michael E. Gerber, Bob Burg, and Larry Winget, among others. Susan and her businesses have been featured in Redbook Magazine, USA Today, MSN Living, Investor’s Business Daily, Yahoo Finance, and American Express Open Forum, and she is a Guinness World Records® titleholder.


 

10. Deliver more contextual content

"Content management will become increasingly valuable to marketers who are looking to ramp up their efforts to deliver more contextual content offers. By establishing a strategy to conceptualize, produce, launch, and measure content, organizations can optimized content delivery and programs. Marketers also should embrace new metrics to quantify engagement. Understanding content consumption and sharing habits enables marketers to segment audiences. This strategy helps improve internal effectiveness and integrated planning; deliver contextual content offers; and understand which key performance indicators matter to content marketing. A shared process for content management also helps other marketing stakeholders to collaboratively support development and maximize launch initiatives."

- Amanda Batista

As part of the Oracle Eloqua Marketing organization, Amanda Batista, drives Eloqua's major content initiatives to support thought leadership, team enablement, and educate customer communities. She also manages the award-winning 'It's All About Revenue' Blog, crafting content that helps marketers and salespeople bridge their gaps and rethink technology to meaningfully engage with their communities. Amanda also is a freelance music writer, and her passion is helping modern marketers find inspiration in engaging pop culture. Follow Amanda on Twitter @AmandaF_Batista.


 

 

11. Take a journalistic approach to content

It's an editorialized and blended world of owned, earned and paid! Brands that take on a journalistic approach to content and treat their blogs and social networks like individual publications will build strong communities and ever lasting relationships; ultimately converting into business.

- Lisa Buyer

Lisa Buyer is President and CEO of The Buyer Group, an interactive public relations and social agency located in Celebration, Florida and editor for Social #PR Chat covering trends in Social PR, Mobile PR, Brand PR and SEO PR.  Lisa writes for several industry publications covering how public relations influences search and social and is a regular speaker with PubCon, SMX, ClickZLive (formerly SES), OMI and an instructor of the University of San Francisco’s online Advanced Social Media certificate program. Lisa graduated from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism. Go Gators! Her favorite hashtags are #yoga, #sunsets and #surfing. Follow @lisabuyer for more. 

 

12. Start acting as publishers

"Businesses everywhere will start acting as publishers. Instead of using content just for lead generation, companies will start creating more specific, targeted content pieces to be used as a sales tool. B2B companies, in particular, will up their targeted and niche content marketing campaigns to assist buyers during the decision making process. Companies need to focus on creating original and branded content that they can push our to both their potential and current clients in order to build thought leadership in their respective industries."

- Alessandra Ceresa

Alessandra Ceresa is the Director of Marketing at GreenRope. With an iPhone, MacBook and iPad on hand at all times, Alessandra’s enthusiasm for marketing and social media landed her the position as the Director of Marketing for a leading software company, GreenRope. After graduating from the University of Southern California, Alessandra gained years of experience as a Public Relations executive in both San Diego and Los Angeles. She was responsible for developing and executing marketing campaigns, both online and offline, for numerous companies across multiple industries. Her passion for small business and online marketing led her to her current position, Director of Marketing for GreenRope, and as a freelance marketing consultant, content creator, and overall marketing strategist. Alessandra has since developed her expertise to include CRM, marketing automation, and email marketing.


 

13. Create content that means something

"Touch people. Get it out of your head that what you're doing is "digital" and never treat anyone as a number. Create content that means something to them. Understand them. Help them. Invoke emotion. You don't want followers, fans, users, or any such frigid thing. You want new friends. Sure, your relationship might exist largely on a rectangular piece of glass. Aim to "kiss their glass.""

- Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman of Feldman Creative is a veteran copywriter, creative director and content marketing strategist. He works with clients of all sizes to create effective online marketing programs. In addition to publishing his tips and tactics at the "The Point,"  www.feldmancreative.com/blog, Barry contributes articles to many of the web's leading publishers of marketing and social media advice.

 

 

 

14. Customer is the King or Queen

"We marketers are in the throws of finalizing our yearly plans. Here are three predictions for 2014.

1. CONTENT IS NOT JUST KING OR QUEEN: It’s still all about content. But not just about the creation of it. We have to enhance content strategy into more than just demand generation campaigns and form fill outs. Excellent content is not the measure of success — but rather now the standard.

2. CUSTOMER IS THE KING OR QUEEN: 1000% agree — we need to take the same approach to our existing customer base as we have with net-new logo acquisition. It is not just about customer communication but more so about added revenue generation.

3. SOCIAL TECHNOLOGIES WILL IGNITE INTEGRATED MARKETING: And not just social media, but leveraging social behavior. How do we get things done more effectively by leveraging how people consume information and how people work? We will see a rise in more social-centric applications that connect desperate systems, functions and organizations."

- Christelle Flahuax

Christelle Flahaux is the Senior Director of Global Demand Generation at Jive Software. A senior Marketing professional with over 15 years experience in various marketing management and sales operations roles. Expertise is in sales and marketing alignment for large enterprise software teams. Management of Telemarketing teams with a focus on generating highly qualified net new inquiries for the field and building programs post inquiry to nurture and warm leads that are not ready to purchase. Extreme focus on conversions to pipeline and revenue, not just inquiry creation. Responsibility for all marketing operations, proposals, sales forecasting, sales database maintenance, tracking and reporting. Performed market analysis on various industries as a basis for targeted sales programs and lead generation. Leading cross function teams to implement and manage customer satisfaction programs for key clients. Coordination of all external and internal communications, i.e., press releases, newsletters, e-mail blasts, event management for tradeshows, conferences, seminars, webinars, and corporate hospitality programs at sponsored events. 

 

15. Collect social proof

"B2B buyers are spending more time educating themselves before they contact sales. Instead of sales pitches, they want social proof that your products and services deliver results. For example, technology buyers on a Spiceworks panel cited that they want to see unbiased reviews from people who have used your products. Meanwhile, a hawkeye study revealed that 71% of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77% in the evaluation stage cited testimonials and case studies as the most influential types of content. If you want to engage customers, then collecting testimonials, case studies and five-star product reviews should be at the top of your marketing “to-do” list this year."

- Rachel Foster

Rachel Foster is a B2B copywriter who helps her clients improve their response rates, clearly communicate complex messages and generate high-quality leads. Rachel has shared her insights on B2B marketing in presentations for The Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs and Business 2 Community. You can connect with Rachel on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter (@CopywriterTO) or check out her B2B marketing resources and blog.

 

16. Brand advocacy is the new digital marketing goalpost

"For the last two decades, much of digital marketing has focused on generating impressions, traffic, clicks, and conversions. The new goalposts for digital marketing are about building an army of Advocates for your brand and products. It’s not difficult to get more clicks. You can do this by slashing prices or running splashy promotions. But this is the “fast-food” approach to marketing.You may get filled up quickly but it’s not very nutritious. Even worse, this approach – if you rely on it too much – can ultimately damage your body (or your brand.) A more valuable and sustainable approach is to create and nurture relationships with Advocates, who will promote, support, and defend your brand and products for years. Apple, Amazon.com, Trader Joe’s, and USAA (a financial services company for the military and their family members) are among the world’s most recommended brands. These companies didn’t build their brands through price-cutting and short-term promotions. They delivered customer experiences worth talking about. And helped nurture relationships with Advocates, who then spread the word among their social networks. Are you still obsessing about yesterday’s goalposts and metrics? Or are you building a movement around your brand and products?"

- Rob Fuggetta

Rob Fuggetta is the Founder & CEO of Zuberance, a social media marketing company that manages and powers Brand Advocate programs for leading brands. Prior to founding Zuberance in 2008, Fuggetta was the Chief Marketing Officer at Genuity, a Verizon spin-out. He also was formerly a partner at Regis McKenna, Inc., the legendary high tech marketing and communications firm in Palo Alto, where he co-led the global Apple account. Fuggetta has spoken at dozens of industry conferences and seminars including events sponsored by the American Marketing Association (AMA), the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), TedX, the Online Marketing Summit, the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG), and more. Fuggetta also has published articles about brand advocacy in AdAge, Forbes, iMedia, AMEX Open Forum, McKinsey’s Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Forum, and elsewhere. A resident of San Carlos, CA, Fuggetta is an avid tennis player, a rabid San Francisco Giants fan, and proud father. 

 

17. Add social science to your marketing arsenal

"Add social science to your marketing arsenal: Today, terrific targeting, content and offers only get you so far. To increase your engagement and conversion rates, study the social scientists. They, along with behavioral economists, have proven that people take cognitive shortcuts when making decisions. And they’ve shown these shortcuts can be prompted – resulting in automatic behaviors. Now you can stack the deck every time you craft a subject line, write an email, lay out a landing page, design a call to action, etc. Tap into proven human behavior triggers like the Scarcity Principle, Cognitive Fluency, Loss Aversion and dozens more to prompt the behaviors you want."

- Nancy Harhut

Nancy Harhut is Chief Creative Officer at Wilde Agency, where she combines marketing best practices with behavioral science in order to get people to act. She and her teams have won over 200 awards for digital and direct marketing effectiveness, including two 2013 International Echo Awards for Nationwide Insurance and TripAdvisor.com. A sought-after speaker at industry events, Harhut has shared her expertise with audiences ranging from Moscow, Russia to the US Department of Defense. 

 

18. Test with new channels to build new audiences

"In 2014, it is all about distribution. We've all heard the quality or quantity debate for some time and now it is more important to market our marketing, in the words of Jay Baer. Digital marketers should opt to create stellar content and dedicate the same amount of resources, if not more, to ensure their target audience engages and acts upon the content. Test with new channels to build new audiences:
-Build relationships with internal and external influencers to extend your reach
-Experiment with paid campaigns to ensure your content is getting consumed
-Get close with demand generation to plan larger campaigns rather than one-off email blasts
-Repurpose existing content in new formats to help increase shareability on social channels"

- Amanda Maksymiw

 Amanda Maksymiw is the content marketing manager for Lattice Engines, a Big Data for sales and marketing company in Boston, MA. She is responsible for setting and managing the Lattice’s content marketing and social media strategies including creating, producing, and publishing engaging content. Throughout her career, she has advised and worked with several technology startups on their content strategies. In 2012, Amanda was named Content Marketing Tactician of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute. 

 

 

19. Create a balance of messaging across channels

"Don't throw away the "exploration" broadcast messaging with the "targeted conversion" messaging. It's the proverbial baby in the bath water. Advanced data management and campaign automation - coupled with the new marriage of content marketing and analytics -- make targeted messaging - display, CRM retargeting, triggered email, social, mobile and even offline mail - so easy, multi-channel and powerful, that it's tempting to ignore the power of the good old broadcast message. Consider the latter as a way to uncover new truths about various audiences, and to improve your segmentation. Often, the unexpected, generic message will reveal as much about a person's habits and interests than the uber-targeted one. Create a balance of messaging across channels to make all your content marketing work harder."

-Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP and “Chief Listening Officer” at DMA

 

20. Enter a branded content channel

"Branded Content will be a game changing for many businesses. Why? Does your businesses want more traffic, leads and thought leadership? Most businesses do and trying to generate these are some of the greatest challenges they face. Enter a branded content channel. It is one of the quickest ways to generate more traffic, leads and thought leadership by accessing a channel in which your target audience is already participating in droves. It generally costs a “reasonable” amount, but the value (i.e. cost for new leads) is generally in the ballpark of $5- $20. Would you pay that for a new lead?"

– Chris Muccio

Chris Muccio is the Chief Technologist at SFGI/Catapult Interactive Inc. He is a seasoned executive with a pattern of success in large businesses and start-up companies. Today, as a Hubspot Certified Partner, he has evolved with the digital world to be a leading voice in digital business development and branded content. Among his various achievements, he wrote one of the first books on LinkedIn that became an Amazon Best Seller.


21. Create content that solves business problems

"Just because we produce more content doesn't mean we can digest more. In fact, we can't digest any more information than we did 100 years ago. With the increase in content, the need for high relevancy is critical. Use Big Data to truly understand your audience and then create content that solves their business problems and reaches them on the channels they use. Stop selling and start helping. I'll live by this in 2014 - will you?"

- Amanda Nelson

Amanda Nelson is manager of content for salesforce.com, leading a team of writers to create sales, service, marketing, and mobile content that’s helpful, relevant, and lead-driving. She has a background in account management from interactive and full service advertising agencies. Amanda has spoken at over a dozen conferences and has won awards from the Direct Marketing Association, Content Marketing Institute, Publicity Club of New England, American Banker Association, New England Direct Marketing, University of Hartford and the Advertising Club of Connecticut. Amanda is passionate about content marketing, community management and border collies. 

22. Focus more resources on content quality

“Only 36 percent of content marketers feel they use content effectively. Why? Because most brands don’t have a substantive audience to consume it. Every minute of every day 100,000 tweets are shared, 571 new websites are created and over 347 blog posts get published. It’s noisy out there. So how do most marketers address this problem? By focusing more resources on content quality and/or quantity. Those marketers without existing prudent audiences who want to use their content effectively in 2014 must develop a content distribution and promotion plan backed by robust audience and media research. According to Ryan Skinner of Forrester, brands can actually step down content production and step up distribution to get better results. Truly converging owned media with paid and earned media empowers marketers to get their content in front of millions of eyeballs every day and expedite the growth of their own audience.”

– Chad Pollitt

Chad Pollitt is a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army Commander; a member of a Forbes Top 100 List, and the Director of Marketing at DigitalRelevance. He’s a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and has been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and other websites throughout the world.

 

 

 

23. Choice your voice carefully

"Standing out amidst the escalating online noise and clutter is key. Ensure that the voice sharing your content rises above the din to create a connection. The voice is a combination of the person and the message. Who’s telling your story? Is he relatable? Is she the best choice or an easy solution? Does he or she have followers that will share your message on a wider basis? Is the message relevant and different? Does it translate as genuine and authentic—or, does it proffer thinly-veiled marketing speak? Will it compel others to share your story? Choose your voice carefully. It can mean the difference between rising to the top or disappearing into the fray."

- Denise Roberts McKee

Denise Roberts McKee is the Chief Operating Officer at AboutFace Media, which creates branded documentary videos for the web. Denise’s decades of work within mobile media, gaming, and independent film industries includes teaming up with, and creating award-winning initiatives for, leading brands such as Time-Warner, NBC Universal, Bravo TV New Media, and Rachael Ray. Also a speaker, Denise brings her years of experience to conferences and seminars worldwide, with a focus on content development and marketing.  

 


24. Create visual content for the best ROI

"2014 will see a rise in visual content, and a decrease in the reign of heavy text-based blog articles. Visual content is shared more, gets more engagement on social, communicates information quicker and easier than text, and, as a result, is worth more in SEO. Because of this, visual content has the best ROI currently available to content marketers. The top three types of content will be short-form videos, infographics and slideshares."

- Nick Steeves

Nick Steeves, Chief Product Officer, Wishpond: Nick is Chief Product Officer at Wishpond. Wishpond makes it easy to run contests and promotions on social networks. He and his team discuss social media for small business at blog.wishpond.com

 

 

 

25. Make your message relevant

"Your message must be relevant to your buyers! All successful marketing programs have one thing in common: messages that speak directly to specific buyers. Why? Because relevant messaging establishes an important emotional connection between a business and its buyers, which, in turn, spurs future purchases. Messaging is a large part of the branding process and can drive visuals and campaign themes. Therefore, it is critical to carefully research and develop a thorough buyer profile prior to crafting marketing messages. It doesn’t matter if you’ve developed an amazing concept and launched via the latest digital or traditional marketing channels; if your message doesn’t speak to targeted buyers, your marketing is worthless!"

- Bonnie Taylor

 

 

Bonnie Taylor is the VP of Strategic Marketing with the Washington D.C. Metro based marketing firm, CCS Innovations, LLC. Her close to 20 years of experience spent growing companies and generating large-scale awareness has included working with some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Coca-Cola, Revlon, Deloitte, as well as countless mid-size and smaller companies in local, national, and international markets. Ms. Taylor has taken two companies from a single office without a marketing program to worldwide growth in just a few years, earning Inc. 500 and Business Journal ‘Fastest Growing Company’ awards along the way. Not one to always work behind the scenes, she is an internationally published authority on marketing, branding, and corporate growth and performs extensive work with nonprofit organizations. 

 

The Online Marketing Institute is honored to have the same industry experts leading various online learning center classes and crash course programs throughout the year, share their best advice on what to do in the ever-changing online marketing environment.

OMI is committed to bringing forth the insight of industry leaders. Look for the full list of courses from these top digital educators on the online learning center's class topics page.

Stay Tuned for our next installment on overall digital marketing.

 


What’s the ROI of Social Media?

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Today, more businesses demand their social media marketing campaigns generate ROI (return on investment). A number of tools help with this, including free ones like Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, and paid tools like Ubervu and Brandwatch. The problem is, these insights are somewhat fragmented. What businesses need is a tool to understand the performance of their social media campaigns holistically.

That’s why I developed the four-factor model of social media performance. Before I get into the components of the model, let’s take a look at the problem.

Measuring the ROI of Social Media

Measuring your social media performance isn’t easy, in part, because your efforts are fragmented across different social platforms – Facebook, Twitter, your blog, etc. Firms are drowning in all this data, so the bigger problem is knowing what to measure.

Measuring vanity metrics (such as fans, followers and similar expressions of the size of your network) doesn’t help a lot because there’s little correlation between vanity metrics and market performance. Measuring conversion misses the role of micro-conversions (Google’s term for actions leading to conversion). For instance, actions such as sharing impact conversion by amplifying the brand message to more eyeballs.

So, what’s a brand to do?

Related Class: How to Measure Social ROI for Your Client

The Four-Factor Model

It seems to me a brand needs a single metric capable of evaluating the overall performance of their social media campaign. A single metric allows firms to track performance over time, compare different campaigns and compare performance across brands. Certainly, firms need to drill down from this single metric to understand factors contributing to performance once they have the initial metric.

A single performance metric must include both conversion (sales, leads, sign-ups) and micro-conversions (actions contributing to conversion). Within micro-conversions I include both the sales funnel (i.e., the clicks visitors take to complete the conversion such as placing a product into a shopping cart or viewing FAQs) and actions unrelated to the sales funnel directly, such as social shares that amplify the brand message while adding personal recommendations.

I’m still refining the model, but currently, it looks like this:

ROI = amplification X sentiment X marketing intensity X close rate

Let’s look at each factor and why I included it in the model. I welcome comments and suggestions for improving the model.

Amplification

Amplification increases awareness of your brand. But, more important, a share is an implied endorsement of your brand by folks who most influence buying decisions –  friends. Shares also morph a brand’s image based on characteristics of who does the sharing. For example, if a trendy friend recommends a particular sweater or new restaurant, you’re much more likely to give it a try.

Now, I have a proprietary algorithm developed to assess amplification using scoring for individual pieces of content, but you can create your own simple measure of amplification by adding up all the post Likes, +1s, shares, RTs, etc. Or, maybe you weight different types of shares differently since a recent study published on MOZ shows a different impact for Google +1s, Facebook and Twitter on search results.

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis measures your brand image – do folks like it or hate it?  Obviously, folks buy brands they like and, by extension, brands their friends like. While all sentiment analysis tools have major problems, Radian6 is a good option for gathering sentiment.

Marketing Intensity

Here, we include marketing efforts like coupons, traditional and online advertising spend, maybe some overall measure of content marketing efforts such as number of posts and other factors representing marketing activities.

Close Rate

Your close rate includes conversions, but might also include some other conversion-type factors such as your CTR (click-through rate) for your emails or online advertising, although these might represent your conversion.

Using the Four-Factor Model

First, you can weight any factor in the model as you see fit. Second, you can weight individual elements of each factor. For instance, you might weight sales more than requests for information or other types of lead generation.

You might also add additional factors to the model. Additions I’m playing with include engagement (e.g., comments), weighting actions by influencers based on their Klout score or other mechanism or weighting elements based on the size of the network so that Facebook has a higher weight than Pinterest.

An additional factor to consider is assessing crowdsourced content or other types of user-generated content as a separate factor or including it in the amplification factor.

Now, I recognize using the Four-Factor Model is a little challenging since it isn’t something you can do by simply combining numbers from a single report. Implementation requires either some BI (business intelligence) savvy or a clunky manual process. If you’re a developer, I’m happy to discuss how you might make money developing a SAAS to calculate results based on the model.

As mentioned earlier, you’ll still need to drill down with existing analytics tools to get a more nuanced picture of your social media campaigns. However, despite implementation challenges, I think the Four-Factor Model goes a long way toward addressing how and where ROI is created in your social media marketing campaigns, which allows optimization of those campaigns. I welcome your comments for improving the model.

 


How to Fail at Content Marketing

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We're in a marketing world that's constantly evolving, and content marketing is no different. In this ever-changing world, for every content marketing success, there's a failure first. Learn these content marketing no-no's and be one step closer to a content plan that works.

Blogging for the Sake of Blogging

As Jason Falls often shares, "Don't blog to blog." You may experience pressure to create or update your company blog, but if you don't have a plan and goal around it, the effort is a waste. Before you even start typing, know your goals, audience and schedule so your blog is frequently updated with on-topic, relevant content. If you can't commit to that, don't blog at all.

Running on Your Own Schedule

Sure, that brainchild ebook idea may be smart, but if it's not relevant to your company message, initiatives or offerings, you'll be the only one enjoying it. Work with your entire marketing department, sales, PR, etc. to understand the big events, product launches, campaigns and other initiatives happening for the year, the quarter and the month so your content can be directly tied in. This will also help you create a content calendar and schedule. Then, when you generate leads from your content, the leads have a natural next step.

Related Class: Strategic Blogging: The Why and The How

Forgetting to Triple-Check Your Work

No matter how great the content, if you have typos, the credibility is gone. After all, when's the last time you shared an article riddled with errors? Don't just double-check your work, triple-check it. Make it a top priority. Get an extra set of eyes on your content or hire a dedicated proofreader.

Always Be Closing

The traditional ABCs of sales does not apply to content marketing. Sure, you want your content and work to drive revenue (and if you do it right, it will), but pushing your audience toward a sale is not the right approach in this type of marketing. The right way is Jay Baer's "Always Be Helping" mentality. Solve your audience's business problems with helpful, relevant, non-product-related content, and they'll keep coming back for more. Soon those return visitors will become return customers.

Launching and Then Moving On

Oftentimes, after a piece of content goes live we wipe our hands and move onto the next project. This is a huge mistake. This is actually where the work first begins. Once your content goes live, plan a campaign including paid and organic media. Create other types of content around it such as an infographic, SlideShare presentation, blog posts, etc. that all support the initial piece. Ensure the campaign not only has a big push at the beginning, but has support throughout the year. For instance, launch those supporting content pieces weeks or months later. The long-tail effect of that content may be greater than the initial splash.

Set It and Forget It

Let's say you do that big launch and you automate your promotional efforts around your content. Good job, but don't forget that your eyeballs are still crucial in the process. Oftentimes, we launch a campaign and let it ride. But the beauty of social media and big data is the ability to see your results live and in real time. Check the data and feedback around your content every morning and optimize based on your findings. A headline change or responding to a tweet can be the difference between a good campaign and a goal-crushing campaign (or the difference between a prospect and a customer).

Keep these tips in mind when working on your next content marketing campaign and you'll be one step closer to an eventful 2014.

What other mistakes have you learned from? Please share your thoughts here.

If you need to start the process of improving your content marketing strategy today, enroll in Amanda Nelson's Online Marketing Institute class, 10 Advanced Strategies to Mobilize Your Content Marketing, to explore 10 actionable strategies that can be implemented as soon as today to improve your content's impact. 

 


Three New Ways to Boost ROI From Your Referral Program

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Are you getting the maximum ROI from your refer-a-friend program?

Here are three new ways to super-charge refer-a-friend programs and fill your sales funnel with high-quality leads:

1. Go beyond referrals.

Most refer-a-friend programs are aimed only at getting referrals. Authentic advocates will recommend you in lots of other ways. Without pay or perks, advocates will:

  • Create valuable content like highly positive reviews and glowing testimonials
  • Answer prospects’ questions, helping make your cash register ring more often
  • Give you money-making ideas
  • Defend you when you or your employees do something dumb

Consumer electronics company TiVo recently ran a highly successful refer-a-friend campaign. A whopping 54 percent of TiVo Advocates who referred friends also have recommended TiVo by writing positive reviews or advocating in other ways. Here’s one of those great reviews created by a TiVo Advocate:


To go beyond referrals, you need a word-of-mouth marketing platform that supports referrals and content generation.

Related Class: Integrating Social Media Tactics Into your Digital Marketing Strategy

 2. Support a social cause.

Most refer-a-friend campaigns and programs are little more than bounty hunting. They’re all about paying customers cold, hard cash for referrals.

While this approach can work, not everyone is motivated by money or personal gain. Another problem with pay-for-referrals is that it’s like “referral cocaine.” Customers get hooked on it.

Take your referral game up a notch by supporting worthy causes to stimulate referrals. Norton, the consumer brand of Symantec, generated thousands of recommendations and referrals when it provided donations to Computers for Youth on behalf of Norton Advocates.

3. Improve your customer experience.

A well-known satellite TV company is dishing out millions of marketing bucks on ESPN, the Food Network, and elsewhere to promote its Refer-a-Friend program.

The company offers subscribers $50 for referrals. Referred-in friends who become customers also get $50. The program would be more successful if the company worked harder to earn its subscribers’ affection.

As a subscriber, I personally wouldn’t refer my friends to this company for $50 or $5,000. I actually like my friends.

No matter how much money you offer for referrals, you won’t get as many referrals as you would like unless customers feel good about telling their friends.

True advocacy can’t be manufactured or purchased. It can only be earned.

To understand the influence that brand advocates have on digital marketing strategy, enroll in Rob Fuggetta's class, The Marketing Power of Brand Advocates, today!

 


Mastering the Facebook Sales Loop

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Is it possible to get sales from Facebook?

And if so, how do you do it?

These are the questions that plague every small business that uses Facebook. They know it’s a powerful tool to get new and repeat customers, but they don’t know how to utilize its potential.

Building on the work of Jon Loomer, I’ve created and refined a simple six-step method that works for any business to drive users from Facebook to buy from your business. In my webinar, I’ll show you how to execute those six steps like a pro.

What Is the Facebook Sales Funnel? What Are the Benefits? 

A Facebook page gives you a 24/7, two-way communication channel with your past and potential customers. But unless you can actually utilize it to drive sales for your business, it’s practically useless.

The Facebook sales funnel is a proven method of moving targeted shoppers from non-fans to repeat customers. Facebook gives you a lot of power in terms of finding targeted consumers, nurturing them with content and converting them into customers. Our method shows you how to use the tools provided to you in an effective way to continuously nudge users to buy from you.

It combines Facebook Ads, content, landing pages, email automation campaigns, ad retargeting and contact list ads to create a funnel that drives repeat customers to your shop.

It won’t happen overnight, but if executed properly over a number of weeks you can drive new sales that give a return on investment far greater than the time and ad spend needed to deliver them.

The 6 Steps of the Facebook Sales Funnel

In this section, I’ll give you a brief overview of each step. I’ll go into full detail of each in the Online Marketing Institute class, Mastering the Facebook Sales Loop.

1. Attract new fans

The first step is to get targeted users to make the “soft buy,” which is to “Like” your Facebook page. This opens up a channel and will allow you to nurture them with valuable content. Acquiring new fans requires the use of two tools: Promoted Posts and Like-Gated Page Tabs.

Use the two together by creating a Promoted Post (which appears in the Newsfeed of your selected audience) that drives users to the Like-Gated Tab on your Facebook page. To entice people to click the ad and “Like” you, you need to provide an “offer” that is an exclusive, valuable piece of content, such as an e-book, video or free tool.

2. Nurture fans with valuable content

Once people have “Liked” your page, you can start nurturing them. This is a strategy of posting content that is highly valuable to your target audience. This includes content that is educational, interesting or problem-solving. To maximize the amount of your targeted fans who see your posts, you can use targeted Page Posts. This makes sure that every piece of content is seen by every person you want to see it, instead of the mediocre 16 percent of fans that a normal post reaches.

3. Convert fans into email leads

After a few weeks of receiving valuable, regular content from you, your targeted fans will be ready to make the next “soft buy,” which is to give you their email address. You can do this by combining two tools: Promoted Posts and Email-Gated Page Tabs.

Create a Promoted Post targeted to your fans that drives people to an Email-Gated Tab on your page. This will require fans to give you their email address in exchange for an offer, which can be similar to the offer you gave for becoming your fan, or something different like a Facebook Sweepstakes.

4. Nurture leads with an email drip campaign

Now that you have an email address, you have a highly personalized channel to market to your leads. Set up a series of five emails to be sent every few days that, over time, will drive these leads to buy from you.

Start off light, with the first two to three emails showcasing valuable content from your blog or social channels. In the last two to three emails, introduce coupons, promotions and “reasons to buy” for your products. This will drive a ton of sales-ready leads to your website to check out your products and services.

5. Bring back lost customers with ad retargeting

But you’re not going to convert every single person who you drive to your website.

So, how do you convert those leads who drop off?

Ad retargeting on Facebook. This allows you to show ads just to people who visited your website but didn’t buy. This is a highly effective tool for bringing lost customers back to your website to buy.

6. Drive repeat customers with ads targeted to your email list

Once it’s over and you’ve driven a ton of new sales, what’s next?

Now it’s time to drive repeat customers. You can easily do this by creating Facebook Ads that target people on your email list. This will allow you to reach your past customers with new marketing messages without constantly spamming them with emails.

Although it may seem like a lot of new tactics and tools to utilize, it’s really quite easy. In my Online Marketing Institute class, Mastering the Facebook Sales Loop, you'll learn the simple, actionable steps, with all of the information you need to execute on it.

 


6 Best Practices in Remarketing

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If your business isn’t remarketing, you’re missing a great opportunity. Remarketing (aka retargeting) is a powerful advertising tool for companies, whether they’re retail shops or B2B brands. It refreshes a lead’s memory and reinforces a brand’s message.

What’s more, when you use remarketing, you engage with warm leads, prospects that already have some familiarity with what you offer. Prospects who were interested in your products once are prospects likely to be interested again. So, when your business is ready to add remarketing to its outreach efforts, here are six best practices to keep in mind!

  • Set clear objectives. It’s as true for remarketing as it is with any marketing practice: it’s hard to measure success without clear goals. Instead of coming up with a generic remarketing plan and then hoping for some good to come of it, establish super-specific, tangible goals you want to achieve. Examples of clear goals might be a certain percentage boost in traffic, a specific number of new sales in a month or a certain improvement in turning last month’s visitors who didn’t buy anything into new customers. Whatever the case, you want to make your goals specific, both in what you hope to achieve and in what time frame you hope to achieve it.
  • Test everything. You’ll see the best results from remarketing when you test every campaign you try. Track results on your PPC remarketing campaign for a set period of time, then change something (the call-to-action, the wording, the landing page for ads, etc.) to see how the results change. Keep conducting these trials and you’ll gain insight into what works best.
  • Segment specific audiences. Set up website metrics that collect specific audiences from your site’s existing traffic - people who spend a certain amount of time on a specific product page, people who exit at the call-to-action page, etc. This establishes targeted groups to which you may remarket later.

  • Create custom messages. Craft your messages to your established targeted groups. Don’t use the same call-to-action or the same advertising style with every group. Rather, take time to evaluate and analyze the needs and interests of those particular users. This is one of the most useful features of online marketing and advertising. Customized messages greatly improve results, as demonstrated through Google's dynamic remarketing where “clients (saw) click-through rates which were as much as 450% higher.”
  • Limit your ads. To avoid annoying followers or turning off your audience, implement limits as to how and when your remarketing efforts will display. For online ads, for example, you can limit the impressions your ads make to fans - allowing them to show a certain number of times a day. Likewise, you’re able to limit the types of places in which your ads will show — so you can prevent your ads from appearing on sites with suggestive, juvenile, profane, etc. content.
  • Use remarketing in multiple formats. There is more than one way to use remarketing, so don’t let yourself get locked into the box of thinking it’s only about Google AdWords or only about your PPC campaigns. There is also email remarketing, site remarketing, search remarketing, social media remarketing, etc. Each one presents potential value for converting specific groups of leads into customers.

 

Does your business already engage in remarketing, and, if so, what types? What other best practices have you seen to be important?

 


3 Marketing Tactics Prospects Find Impossible to Ignore

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Whether your goal is simply to get read - or to make an immediate sale - you can count on three marketing tactics to spike your success rate.

Each is easy to use, proven in-market and backed by the research of social scientists.

What makes these three tactics so powerful?

The thing that unites these strategies - and makes them so powerful - is that each triggers a decision-making shortcut in the human brain. Social scientists have proven that people, in an effort to conserve mental energy, have developed certain shortcuts when making decisions. There are actually quite a few of them, and science has shown that we’re all hard-wired to rely on them.

So, savvy marketers need only tap into these “decision defaults” in order to get more of the behavior they seek. Here are three ways you can begin today:

1. Show faces - especially eyes. Social scientists have found that people are drawn to other people’s faces. The face is the first thing we look at when we meet someone. Long ago, it may have been to assess a person’s status as friend or foe. Today, it’s just instinctive behavior.

When we see a picture of a face, we automatically look at it. And, as psychologist Susan M. Weinschenk notes in “100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People,” it’s a real attention-grabber if the face is looking right at you.

So, use a photo that “makes eye contact” with your reader; it will stop prospects and invite them right in.

The other smart way to use eyes in your advertising is to have the person featured in your marketing look at your product or the text about it. Your reader’s eyes naturally follow the gaze of that person and look exactly where you want.

Related Class: Foundations for a Visual PR Strategy

2. Include a dashed line. People have become so accustomed to associating value with coupons that our eyes are drawn to them wherever they appear. In tests, Starch Advertising Research discovered that an ad with a coupon gets 23 percent more readership than the exact same ad without the coupon.

It gets even better. Turns out the ads are read regardless of whether or not there are any actual savings in the coupon. It’s the mere presence of the dashed line that compels readership.

So, if there’s something in your email, blog, web page or online ad that you absolutely want your target to notice, put a dashed line around it. They’ll go right to it.

3. Use “eye magnet” words. Some words in the English language attract the human eye more than others. Heat maps, in-market tests and, most recently, experiments involving fMRI machines prove it.

“Free” is one such word. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely devotes an entire chapter to the pulling power the word has in his book “Predictably Irrational.” In it, he describes “free” as nearly irresistible.

Another eye magnet word is “you.” As the human eye skims and scans text, the word “you” jumps out and pulls it in. After all, who’s more interesting than ourselves?

Arguably, even better than “you” is your target’s name. A person’s name commands almost magical power. Scientific research proves you’re more likely to do a favor for someone if you share the same first name. You’re also more likely if you have even similar-sounding names.

Researchers have found your first name can influence career choice (dentists are 43 percent more likely to be named Dennis), and even donations to hurricane victims (people whose names began with R were 260 percent more likely to donate to Hurricane Rita relief funds).

Placing these eye magnet words in subject lines, headlines and other prominent pieces of marketing real estate prompts automatic readership.

Now all’s that left to do is infuse these three tactics into your marketing and watch as your target finds your message impossible to ignore.

For more techniques to boost the effectiveness of your digital and social campaigns to engage customers and drive response, watch Nancy Harhut's class How to Use Psychology-based Marketing to Drive Online Response.

 


The Top 4 Reasons to Have a Facebook Business Page

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While most company owners are being told that having a Facebook business page is important, many are still not clear about why. This is actually dangerous for the business owner, who may start a page because it is expected, put the blue “F” on his website, and then not have a clue about what to do next. Here are my four reasons, with some explanations:

Impression and branding. While companies spend a lot of time polishing their images and using various branding techniques, Facebook business pages provide a more granular branding strategy. On Facebook, the company’s brand is not only defined by the company, but also by the fans of the page. The comments, questions and even the complaints of the page’s audience reveal a lot about what people think of the company. However, how the company responds to them often says even more. Companies must understand that this is an environment where they may not control the conversation, but can definitely steer it in the right direction. Companies that pay attention to how their fans are interacting with the page, acknowledge that interaction, and then tailor their content and responses accordingly will see a better result. These data can also be used by other departments within the company (sales, customer service, product development, etc.) to further shape and grow the business.

Related Class: 7 Elements of Highly Effective Facebook Marketing

Warm leads and referrals. In 2012, comScore released a report that analyzed the impact of social media exposure on several large companies. The results showed that fans of a large retail store were 19 percent more likely to purchase at that store in the four weeks following exposure. Even more impressive is that friends of fans were 27 percent more likely to purchase at the store. In a separate study of four leading retailers, they found that exposed fans spent more than twice as much at these stores, and friends of fans also spent significantly more. The data on friends of fans is significant, as the reach for brands on Facebook increases exposures of fans to friends by 50 to 200 percent.

Customer service. No one wants to hear negative things about their products or services. However, these negatives can almost always be turned into positives when posted on Facebook. If the response is quick, appropriate and solves a problem, the loyalty of your fans may be strengthened. A sincere apology or, better yet, a good solution may spark positive comments that get shared among fans and even friends of fans. Even something as simple as providing a missing instruction booklet or helping someone understand how a specific product can be used more effectively can create the positive feelings a company desires. When fans, themselves, answer questions or help other fans, the page’s worth increases exponentially.

Website traffic/SEO. Many marketers believe that website traffic from Facebook and other social networking sites will soon surpass that from Google. While this is a bold statement, there are studies that confirm that Facebook does generate traffic back to websites. Also, Facebook posts, themselves, are indexed by Google and other search engines. With the right strategies, those posts are conduits back to a company’s website. Facebook managers routinely send Facebook fans and friends of fans to the company website. For example, writing a good profile with a website link, using a Facebook tab with a special website offer, linking to a contest on the website from Facebook or posting an interesting or provocative image with a link to a piece of content or a blog post on the website are just a few ways that savvy business owners are leveraging Facebook pages to generate website traffic.

As the social media field becomes more crowded, these skills are more crucial than ever. It’s not enough to simply post new product announcements on Facebook; marketers need to command attention, craft relevant informational content, and engage in authentic ways. Learn how by enrolling in the Online Marketing Institute's Social Media Marketing Certification today!

 


How to Use Content to Influence B2B Technology Buyers

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The B2B technology buying process involves more decision-makers than ever before. If you want to create content that helps you attract high-quality leads and turn them into customers, you must tailor your content for all of your audiences. This means you need to develop content not only for early-, mid- and late-stage leads, but also for all of the stakeholders within your customers’ organizations.

Related Class: How to Generate More Leads by Targeting Personas through Search and Social

According to a TechTarget Media Consumption Report, “corporate IT buying is a team decision-making process with 95% of IT buying teams having more than 2 members. The majority work in teams of 2–7 with a significant number of teams having 10 or more members.”

Here are examples of people who may be involved in the B2B technology buying process, along with what they are looking for in your content:

Researchers                                                                      

Researchers are typically junior employees whose boss has asked them to research a specific product or service. Although these people usually do not have buying power, they have a lot of influence.

Researchers are often the first people who will visit your website to gather information. You want to make it easy for them to find what they need and pass it along to their boss. They may download your white papers or check out your blog to see if they like what you’re talking about. It’s also a good idea to provide them with a PDF overview of your products or services – such as a data sheet – so they can easily forward the information to their boss.

End users

Your end users want to know that your solution works and will make their lives easier. Provide them with case studies and unbiased reviews from customers who have used your products and services. End users may also be interested in attending webcasts, watching demos, participating in forums and joining user groups.

IT influencers

If you sell technology products or services, your customer’s IT team will want to know how your solution will impact their network. Will it simplify things or make things more complex? How easy is it to implement your solution? How will it affect their network security? Be sure that your marketing materials address these concerns. You may need to create separate content geared specifically toward IT to answer these questions.

Finance decision-makers

Financial influencers will want to know if your product or service is worth the investment. After all, they are the ones who will sign your checks. Be sure to demonstrate your value in all of the marketing materials that you provide them – such as case studies, ROI calculators, data sheets, brochures and webinars.

Executives

Executives want proof that your products or services will help them reach their business goals and achieve ROI. Make sure that all of your content discusses the key business challenges that your customers are facing and how your solution helps to solve these challenges. White papers, case studies and ROI calculators can be valuable when you want to influence an executive.

Figure out who your key stakeholders are and create buyer personas for all of them. Learn how to identify these potential customers, build content that will educate them about your business, and compel them to move towards purchase in the Online Marketing Institute's Demand Generation Certification Program.

Enroll today to gain  an understanding of their needs and the types of content that will most appeal to them.  

 


3 Ways To Pump Up Your Social Media Efforts

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Social media is no longer a passing fad; rather, it’s here to stay. And frankly, it’s a must for your small business as an inexpensive way to get your message out and reach your audience. But how can you be successful at finding new customers and building your brand using these online tools without spending tons of time, effort and money on it?

Here are three secrets for pumping up your social media efforts:

1)    Create visual interest. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true when it comes to social media. In fact, one study says photos generate 93 percent more likes on Facebook, as opposed to links, videos or other updates. If you want to engage with your friends, followers or subscribers, include pictures in your status updates. Snap a picture of a day at work, your product/service in action or something that relates to your business or service and encourage followers to give a “thumbs up!”

2)    Get consumers involved. Social media is all about engagement and dialogue with your consumers. So get them involved by asking them to like, share, retweet, repin or just plain respond to your posts and updates. Whether it’s asking for feedback on a new product/service or getting a response to unique ways followers use your product/service, the sky is really the limit. Just be prepared for negative responses, because it’s inevitable that you will get some. Have a standard response prepared with a toll-free customer care number or email address for frustrations and complaints that’s monitored. 

3)    Get hyper local. The best thing about being a small business owner is that you understand the needs of local consumers. You live and work in the same community as they do, which is a huge asset! In fact, a recent study by 8Coupons.com found that more than 85 percent of store customers come from within a five-mile radius. So it’s a good idea to entice your closest neighbors to come through your small business’ front door.

Want to learn more? Join Cole Information for a webcast on three ways to Pump Up Your Social Media Efforts. In addition to more information on the steps above, you’ll come away with knowledge on:

    • The top updates and tweets you should be sending.
    • How to gain traction and new followers.
    • The number one mistake small businesses make.
    • How to take these online conversations offline and ultimately build your business.