Month: September 2014

How To Convert Affluent Consumers on Digital Media

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A consumer who does not cut corners. One who can afford to (and does) splurge on your fancier items – the ones you had given up hope on. One who shops pricey, often, and comes with a great credit record. Yup, the stuff of marketers’ dreams – an affluent customer!

While being affluent can mean different things in different parts of the world, in the United States, an affluent consumer is one who makes over $100,000 annually. There are further stratifications in the rarified air of the millionaires and above (high net-worth individuals, ultra-high net-worth individuals), but for the purpose of our current discussion, let’s just call them all “consumers we’d give an arm and a leg to have.”

How big a market size are we talking about?

Research by Ipsos MediaCT as of July 2013 pegs the number of affluent consumers in the U.S. at 62.5 million adults who make up 26 million households. This figure represents 1.2 percent of total U.S. households. Further,

  • “Affluent” people have an average income of over $200,000 and net worth of $1 million
  • These affluent consumers spent $1.9 trillion across 159 consumer categories last year.

money

Where can these affluent consumers be reached?

Traditionally, affluent consumers were considered a difficult demographic to crack, considering that they limited their exposure to traditional mass media like television, radio, or even mainstream print publications. The use of digital media was considered too “brave” and a “waste of resources” while targeting the wealthy.

A Wealth–X survey of marketers found them surprisingly reluctant to target HNIs via digital platforms. Twenty-six percent of marketers believed that wealthy individuals do not shop online, while 68 percent thought that wealthy consumers did not respond to digital campaigns as well as they did to other media.

The trouble is the truth could not be farther from this perception that marketers seem to have in their minds about high net-worth individuals and their media preferences. A chat with the wealthy themselves paints a very different picture of their media preferences and shopping habits.

According to Ipsos MediaCT, U.S. affluents are extremely technology savvy. Not only is their time spent online on the rise – from 32.8 hours per week in 2011 to 41.6 hours per week in 2013 – but they are also active on social media, all of them are multi-device users, and nearly 40 percent use mobile apps to shop online.

So now let’s look at some strategies to target and convert affluent buyers.

1. Focus on search

Affluent buyers may not shop online always, but they definitely do their homework online before making any purchase, especially if the item is high-value. So before you dismiss search marketing as something that works only among the middle classes, be aware that the wealthy like to do their research before putting their cash down, too. According to a study by Google and Ipsos Media, 75 percent of affluent buyers research online before making a big purchase.

infographic

In this context, online research does not just refer to using a search engine. It also refers to checking out e-commerce sites, blogs, product review sites, and other avenues to learn more about the product.

To do:

  • Create an interactive and informative website that satisfies the curiosity of an avid searcher. If you’re targeting an affluent audience, make sure your design and layout reflects class and desirability – no affluent buyer would want to be associated with cheap-looking products or brands.
  • Make your site search friendly to rank higher in search results. From on-page SEO elements to creating great content that will draw in eyeballs, invest some time and effort on SEO.
  • Don’t forget paid search marketing. Figure out the keywords that your affluent buyers favor and use them in your PPC ads. Typically these would be part of the long-tail list that would be used by your regular users.
  • Target the right demographic segments within the affluent buyer group. Research shows that affluent women are more likely to buy high-value items and at a higher frequency in Asian countries. They are also likely to be in their mid-30s. On the other hand, affluent Western shoppers are an even 50-50 split between the men and women who also tend to be significantly older than their Asian counterparts – in their mid- to late forties.
  • Display retargeting is your best friend. Since affluent buyers carry out research while buying high-value and luxury items, display ads play a huge role in conveying the luxury and brand value of your products in just a small banner ad. Combine the power of search and display ads by deploying display retargeting to convert your affluent users.

2. Be mobile ready

Having a mobile-friendly website, creating and sending out mobile-friendly email newsletters, and having your own mobile app are things that are “good to have” for the general population at large.

Related Class: Introduction to Mobile Marketing

However, with affluent buyers it’s imperative to be mobile first and not mobile friendly. The Google and Ipsos study quoted earlier show that every last one of them uses multiple devices, and the penetration level of smartphones among this demographic is twice the levels among the general population.

To do:

  • Invest in a responsive website. Responsive web design might be more expensive than regular web design, but that is the future of all websites. The quicker you adapt to it the better; especially if your primary audience consists of affluent buyers. These days there are quick and simple plugins to make your mobile site responsive. A dedicated mobile app is not a bad idea either, considering that four in 10 affluent buyers use retail mobile apps on a regular basis.
  • Mobile-friendly emails. With 66 percent of all emails being opened via a mobile device, it’s elementary to have mobile-optimized emails. The funny part is the sheer proportion of non-mobile-ready emails that we see floating around in spite of these skewed statistics.
  • Invest in mobile advertising. According to research by the BBC of 6,000 users across six countries, mobile ads are over four times as effective as desktop ads with the affluent demographic. Target native ads in news apps, as they are the most popular type of app for wealthy users.

3. Get it right the first time

Past experience is the strongest driver among high net-worth individuals when they purchase products. In the case of a high-value product like a luxury car, great past experience scores a 7.6 on a scale of one to 10 when compared to other factors that affect a purchase.

To do:

  • The lesson here is straightforward. Treat your important and high-revenue customers with kid gloves, make sure your products are top-notch quality, and offer them the best after-sales service in the industry to build a level of confidence that keeps them coming back.
  • Invest in a good CRM that helps you deal with each individual customer from the time she is a prospect to when she becomes a lead to conversion and beyond.
  • Remember, these are not price-sensitive customers who will switch loyalties to save a few dollars. If your track record with an HNI is a proven and positive one, the chances of them coming back to you for a repeat purchase are pretty high.

4. Connect with social media

Connecting with HNWIs on social media is an uphill task. While over 90 percent of HNWIs use social media in one form or another, they are extremely selective about who they connect with and what personal information they give out to brands via social media.

Related Class: Introduction to Social Media Marketing

However, this is not to say that luxury and high-value brands haven’t managed to connect with affluent buyers on social media. Instead of coupons and deals, affluent buyers seek value and exclusivity. Brands that convey an aspirational brand image on social media as well attract the affluent buyer who is assured of their bragging rights and would love to associate with such brands.

To do:

  • Use social media to answer queries and connect one-on-one with users. With high-value purchases, a user (even a wealthy user!) likes to be sure of every tiny detail before making the purchase. Aid this process by having frank and informative one-on-one conversations with them on social media.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your funny bone. Premium water maker Evian showed the way to all high-value brands over the years with its hilarious spots with dancing babies that took social media by storm. The latest in the baby video series – Baby & Me – got over 100 million YouTube views in weeks and even spawned its own mobile app!
  • Don’t overshare on social media. With the news feed algorithms on Facebook and the barrage of continuous updates on Twitter and other platforms, you have learned that high volume of posts = average visibility from a user’s perspective. However, avoid spamming your affluent audience with too much content or being too intrusive on social media. This will go a long way to convince them that their privacy is as important to you as it is to them.
  • Social retargeted ads. Combining the reluctance of affluent buyers to divulge personal details to brands and the propensity of affluent users to carry out extensive research before buying, retargeted ads on social media are a great way of offering relevant messaging to affluent buyers. It not only builds brand awareness, it grows followers among this audience segment and increases the click-through rates to your brand website.

Conclusion

Starting a business in today’s hyper-connected world isn’t tough. Even home-based businesses have risen to dizzying heights of success thanks to the level playing field that all brands now play on. However, what separates a successful business from an also-ran is their understanding of their customers and the ability to deliver to customer expectations.

Affluent customers raise the bar for business owners yet another notch. But as research and experience prove, they are definitely not a breed to be feared or left alone on digital mediums. Armed with the right user insights, they can be just as pliable and twice as rewarding as the general population.

There are many steps that go into earning conversions. Creating a great user experience is a key part of this process! Watch this class, Evoking Experiences that Convert, to learn more about how good design can increase your conversions.

 


The 7 Essential Digital Planning Ideas for Breakthrough Results in 2015

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With budgeting and planning season upon us, the timing now feels right to go in-depth (a long form article…gasp!) on what will really make an impact on everyone’s digital planning efforts for 2015 – and more importantly, the leadership mindset needed to get you there. I’ve added a boatload of links throughout to educational content I’ve learned from, to shoot you off into specific areas where you can start your learning right away.

My recommendations here come from 9 months of countless meetings with the very smart folks running Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, WPP/JWT, Publicis/Performics, Disney, Cisco, and Amazon; time spent at events like ClickZLive; many, many online learning videos watched; and preliminary data from the October 1st New Digital Life, Learning and Skills Study. It’s all summed up and broken down here, for you to digest and then run with.

For the sake of scanning, I’ll list these major points here, so you can quickly skip to those that are most salient to your needs. But keep in mind that about 97% of businesses are not doing ANY of these points well, so be careful not to skip over those you “talk to” or “kind of do.” We’re here to go in-depth, which makes this a good time to explore things you’re doing, but could be doing better – not just new ideas you want to start fresh with.

7.  Go Big on One Content Idea

6.  Use Big Data in Little Ways

5.  Make Time for Technology

4.  Get Real: Re-Learn Best Practices

3.  Target or Die an Irrelevant Death

2.  Advertise More, Hope Less

1.  Invest in Yourself, Invest in Your People

 

 

7.  Go Big on One Content Idea

Content marketing is a no-brainer these days. But are you really using it as the framework for your digital and especially your social media efforts? Top-down planning based on major content will help you map out a great 2015.

If you plan for one big content piece that can act as your center piece for content marketing in Q1, and then map all the smaller components that can peel off from it, you’ll see much more success.  Focus your energy on one big piece vs. 20 other small pieces – then the big piece can get broken up into 20 others with a bigger impact overall.

Example:

Budget for creating one really high impact piece of content, like research (at OMI we do the Annual Digital Skills Gap Study) or a high end video that you can then cut up into smaller bite-size pieces like blog posts, webinars, branded content, and native ads. This will allow you to tease out all the major salient selling points, and highlight different features to appeal to new audience needs over time.

6.  Use Big Data in Little Ways

‘Big data’ is a code word for using your CRM (and marketing automation for some), third party cookie capturing platforms (like retargeting), and, when you’re ready,third party data like reverse IP lookup (Demandbase, 6Sense). With tools like these, you’ll know which companies are visiting your site, and be able to backfill profile data on existing customers from big data warehouses like Acxiom or D&B. More information means you can start to focus on one area you’d like to better understand in the buying cycle.

Example:

For retailers, your new approach could be something like, “We’d like to serve up more relevant content or ads to users based on who they are when they visit our site.” This is known as behavior targeting, and it’s super easy and extremely effective. I’d recommend first looking at this in a big picture, more holistic testing/targeting way, and then getting into one specific use case as mentioned above.

For B2B marketers, this process would be about using more data to improve your lead scoring and nurturing programs. Try mapping big data into something as simple as the CRM & marketing automation programs you already have. New data sets are better able to tell you if this is a potential buyer based on, for example, the company IP address. Simple, right? And yet something so effective is so rarely used by most businesses.

5.  Make Time for Technology

Today, the difference between those that gain market share and those that lose it is technology. This is true across all aspects of business, and particularly in marketing and advertising. The advantages of well-used technology are many: Being more time-efficient in building and launching marketing campaigns. Driving much higher engagement and return from every dollar spent. And going deep into improving the customer experience and relevancy (more on point 2). These improvements are driven by technology today, so it’s time to get with it or get out (of your own volition or not).

That process starts with a little bit of baseline learning – just to get past the fear, and develop a foundation to feel confident about your decisions (and for all those meetings where you cower in hopes that no one will ask your opinion). Technology scares many of us senior marketers and agencies; we are steeped in being creative. Our focus has been coming up with big campaign ideas and, you know, building the brand. And for small companies, marketing and technology in the same sentence already has us confused. But you need to be brave. You need to find good people that can help you sort through the clutter, and simplify technology to business and marketing drivers.

Using technology to drive exponential gains is one of those no-brainers in this era of marketing. For big global brand ad spenders that means programmatic. For B2B enterprises that means marketing automation. And for small business, that means investing time in basic free or low cost tools like Google Analytics or email marketing (like triggered emails – which you probably aren’t using, but should be!).

Example:

Going from a business that just does social media as an outlet for media and marketing, to a business (from the top down) that imbibes how we all live, communicate and buy today “socially” is a great start. This is what we mean by transforming into a Social Business. Many Fortune 500 companies that have done this are seeing major, significant gains across every aspect of the business (including marketing).

4.  Reality Bites, So Bite Back on Best Practices

Sometimes the truth hurts. But ultimately, it will make us better when we face up to it and deal with it straight on. That means getting back to basic best practices and the Fundamentals of Digital. Nearly all of us have informal or NO formal training, credentials or educational classes under our belt. We just learned on the job, through trial and error. And no, that one event you went to, that blog post you just read (including this one), or webinar you attended – those do not count for education. Remember that information is free and easy. Education is not.

So whether you’re a leader of a team or organization, or the one doing all the work, I’d like to throw the ice bucket of water on you: wake up to the fact that we really do need to go back to some digital fundamentals. It’s long overdue. Whether you’re a digital agency, global brand or small business, you’re likely doing things in the way you learned, mostly by default trial and error. Start over with fresh thinking based on fundamental best practices.

Example:

Getting a grip on real best practices will bring you some amazing results. We’re not talking just small gains in conversion rates or CTRs. It’s high time you stepped back and evaluated true best practices from fundamentals of, say, web analytics now with all this new data ideology. Or, for many leaders, it’s important to take a step back and get a renewed grasp on the entire digital/social ecosystem in learning. And yes, even using some of the latest technology to address my targeting point in #5.

This stuff changes fast, but more importantly, there’s a 99% chance you never learned the fundamentals to start with. You’d be shocked how much there is to learn, and how much digital ROI ensues, when you have a sound foundation. You, your team, and your organization need to commit to re-learning.

3.  Advertise More, Hope Less

I know it sounds crazy to say this in the “internet age” and with all the talk on content marketing. But if you make it happen right now with some fundamental data strategies that use retargeting and programmatic, every size of business will see great results. Start by weighting your spends on areas like retargeting. Compare this to some of the bigger universal campaigns, when we’re “branding” and broadcasting our way to results without specializing.

The same goes for programmatic. It’s just simple: ads that work and are relevant based on success metrics will get more budget. Those that don’t will get less programmatically (i.e. automatically). So, now you don’t have those moments of of saying, “I hope this ad works since we’re spending lots of money on it.” Instead you’ll be able to really test, target and optimize your way to glorious returns. Spend more on advertising that works and hope less on advertising in general.

Example:

Instead of broad advertising buys, you’ll be targeting your spends on folks who have visited a page, areas of Facebook, or your site, which is highly relevant to your offering. You’ll be sending great ads related to those pages they’ve visited, designed to get them engaged.

2.  Get Targeted or Become Irrelevant

It’s crucial to stay highly focused and targeted, since nowadays folks expect ads, messages, and content marketing to be relevant to them. Without this tailored approach, your brand will suffer, and you’ll have big issues with click throughs, conversions, and even open rates and unsubscribers for email.

In the practice of targeting more, you’ll be forced to re-think your personas, target your audience by psychological profiles (e.g. what are their personal interests as shown by page likes on Facebook) and really address the digital user holistically – not the anonymous 45-year-old soccer mom with that $120,000 salary. This process actually takes some thinking work in the planning stages, so if you’re not up for the hard work and just want to take it easy this fall, skip this step.

Example:

You should be targeting and retargeting your ads on Google and Facebook to specific folks who have a) clicked on your website (thus they have an inherent interest in your site), b) have specific Facebook activity, like ‘women who are interested in environmental cause pages on Facebook,’ c) have clicked on children’s apparel advertisements in Google Display Network or Facebook, and d) show continued interest in green sustainable farming. Now you have a filtered, specialized customer to sell your new environmentally-friendly clothing line to!

1.  Start Investing in Yourself and Your People

Every study you’ll read shows that ‘your staff’, your talent, your people are the most critical aspect of the business. And we don’t need a study to tell us that; good leaders already know it intuitively. The problem is that we really don’t do a hell of a lot to actually prioritize this. It all starts with the investment of both your time and other leaders’ time, and, of course, your budget. Unfortunately, the most common response to this issue is, “We have an education program,” which in reality translates to, “Since HR has submitted their plan and budget and so, I, the leader of organization/marketing/team/HR have checked that off the list.” But there’s nothing worse than “having something” that doesn’t work – better even to have nothing and be aware that you need to address it!

The most common forms of ineffective “list checking” and “budget line item” education syndrome is:

  • Individual Budget allocation – where employees can spend $500 - $3,000 on   something education-related. This is usually an event where more cocktails then best practices are consumed.
  • Licensing to Allow – where we get a license to some library of content and tell staff to use it for development. From tons of experience I’ll tell you, it won’t get used, nor is it helping anyone advance their career or ensure proper best practices are being followed.
  • Internal Experts Lunch & Learn - Your team members are not educators, even if they are experts. Your best hope is that they can disseminate some information to others. But this is not sustainable, great learning that impacts the company. I like the idea in general but it is NOT an education program.

For those not in leadership positions, this type of list checking means investing your time, weekly or monthly, to learn and improve in social media, mobile, etc. in low cost ways to advance your own career, while leaders get their act together. Or of course, as my friend John Battelle likes to say, “vote with your feet” and move to an organization that does invest in and value you.

The solution is to really look at what’s needed. For example, most agencies need to level set their knowledge and build a Digital Essentials style program to ensure client services has a baseline to talk fluently and recognize opportunity. The brand badly needs to stay current with trends and have a social and mobile up-skilling program (and analytics) to really execute and properly plan for the way folks now buy and consume their content. And small businesses are in desperate need of executing a simple Digital Starter program, laying out essentials like how to use search, email, social and website in one thoughtful, connected manner.

Example:

In short, the process will be to go through a proper Digital Skills assessment, then spend the time to plan it out across the organization from HR to digital leads, and then start with a pilot program to hash out the good, the bad and the ugly. Then you can roll it out to your entire organization… and yes, you’ll need to spend some money doing all this.

In this ever-fluid job market, our talent acquisition and retention – our most important resources – will depend on it, and increasingly those folks will expect it.

This is all a perfect way to say that it will clearly be key in separating the Big Winners from the Painful Losers in 2015, and digital smarts, thoughtful planning and investment in training our people will make it’s mark, in the short-term and the long-term.

 


The Do’s and Don’ts of Guest Blogging: Get the Leads You Want

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Guest blogging is a tried and true way to reach new audiences, and, if you’re good, get them back to your site for some fresh leads. In my last post, I discussed the benefits of guest blogging, and how to get started by finding sites that are a good fit for your content. Now, onto the nitty-gritty: how to really get your guest posts on sites, and how to make sure those posts bring you plenty of new leads.

Blogs with Open Submission for Guest Posts

Many blogs are happy to accept guest posts at any time, from just about anyone. But whether they will use your post – that’s another story. Some do’s and don’ts to improve your chances:

DO follow their guidelines to a T. Often the bigger and better the blog, the pickier the guidelines. If you don’t meet every specification, you can be quite sure your guest post will never see the light of day on their site. Guidelines can specify things like a 7-10 word title, paragraph length, at least 3 subheadings, 2 images, hyperlinks to certain sites, a call to action, no call to action, etc. Play nice so your content will be considered.

DO read their blog for voice and content. Some blogs are funny and playful; others are deadly serious in tone. Match your submission to the voice you find most often in their accepted posts. Pay careful attention to first- and second-person references to see if they prefer abstract posts or direct address to readers. Content should be obvious – don’t pick a topic that they’ve just covered in a post, and don’t write something that won’t fit in with what they’re posting about.

DON’T leave off your byline. In a highly controlled guest post, regulated by strict guidelines, it’s very likely that your byline will be the only space to mention yourself and your business. This is your chance to guide readers back to your blog, so don’t miss it. Check their specs for bylines or bios (word count, one or two sentences, etc.) and fit in as much as you can to tempt readers. And make sure to link back to your site!

DON’T republish your guest post on your own blog. This is generally just bad practice for SEO (duplicate content will mean a penalty from Google), but it’s also a good way to create bad blood! Your responsibility as the guest blogger is to share and link to the post on the host site – so you’re sending them traffic. They’ll be promoting it as well and thus sending you some traffic too.

Related Class: Fundamentals of Business Blogging

Blogs that Don’t Solicit Guest Posts

This is the majority of blogs – they’re plugging away, providing good content to readers and minding their own business. You’re going to need to convince them of your value, and create that win-win situation that marketers like to see.

DO approach them with a great pitch. If you’ve done your research, you should know the type of content their readers like, and what fits with their goals. You should serve them a thoughtful pitch – not a completed post – that will tempt them. Also be sure to send links to your writing elsewhere, and your own blog, so they can get a taste for your style, and your readership.

DO offer a trade, if it makes sense. You want to write them a guest blog to get new leads. That’s probably something they’re looking for too, so why not a trade? Many content marketers swap guest blogs to breathe new life into their blogs from time to time, assuming that there is a strongly relevant connection between the two blogs.

DON’T forget to iron out all the details in advance. Make sure you know what you’re getting: What kind of byline or bio will they give you? Are they going to link to your site? Will they be adding you to their blogroll? Will they be promoting your post on their social media platforms? Also be sure that you know what they expect of you: How are you going to promote the post? How many words should it be? Do they have specific formatting requirements? Are you supplying images or are they?

DON’T be a risk for them. Think of your own blog: you have spent countless hours laboring over it, creating the right feel and content, and cultivating a readership you really, really want to keep and keep happy. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that most blogs are protective of their space and would generally rather play it safe. You are a new and unknown commodity, so prove yourself to be professional, knowledgeable and easy to communicate with. Of course, the proof will really be in that pudding (blog) you send them!

Guest blogging isn’t a costly undertaking, but it will require your time and effort to get right. It’s not as easy as spinning your old content for a new market; you’ll need to spend time establishing the rules, crafting content that fits them, and then writing posts that make for great reading as well. Playing by the rules will help you get your guest blog in front of fresh eyes, but it’s also up to you to create a post that is insightful, or creative, or funny, or helpful – whatever it takes to pull those leads to your own site.

Want to expand your content marketing efforts? Watch this class on blogging for business for more info on guest blogging, and the value of a business blog!

 


How to Use Big Data to Predict Sales and Forecast Revenue

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Increase revenue by alerting sales of the leads and opportunities that are ready to buy.

By predicting when leads are ready to buy, you can leverage that information to deliver the most relevant and effective marketing, alert sales of leads and opportunities, and better measure marketing effectiveness.

Start developing your predictive analytics program today with a proven model that has been statistically validated with an 85% accuracy rate. With this model, you'll be able to correlate multiple channels of interaction data (web, call, email, CRM, social, search, call center, marketing automation), and identify patterns of activity prior to a purchase, based on previous customers. Then, when other companies exhibit similar behavior, you can predict when they will buy, too.

Finally, you'll be able to send those results to all downstream sales and marketing systems, including your CMS for delivering personalized content, marketing automation to enhance lead scoring, and your CRM or account reps as leads and opportunities.

You Will Learn

  • How Cisco predicted $300M net new opportunities last year and how you can too 
  • How to use data to optimize and predict the success of your marketing spend, deliver more relevant marketing, and alert sales with leads and opportunities
  • A proven formula for identifying purchase intent
  • How to put your data to work for you without relying heavily on IT resources.

Instructor: Amanda Kahlow

Watch this class now

 


Introduction to Social TV

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Getting started in social TV: Trends, tech & opportunities. Even brands that don’t technically advertise on TV can begin marketing to viewers of TV content in this emerging milieu. Marketers who are poised to exploit these emerging technologies and platforms will change advertising as we know it. The convergence of social media, television and online video is opening up new marketing opportunities. In this class, you will learn how connected devices, T-commerce, TV-centric social networks, interactive TV, transmedia storytelling, TV ad retargeting, and new ratings methods are changing how marketers can find and interact with consumers and prospects.

Even brands that don’t technically advertise on TV can begin marketing to viewers of TV content in this emerging milieu. Marketers who are poised to exploit these emerging technologies and platforms will change advertising as we know it. The convergence of social media, television and online video is opening up new marketing opportunities. In this class, you will learn how connected devices, T-commerce, TV-centric social networks, interactive TV, transmedia storytelling, TV ad retargeting, and new ratings methods are changing how marketers can find and interact with consumers and prospects.

You Will Learn

  • What social TV is and how it got started
  • Consumer trends and user behaviors driving social TV opportunities
  • Technologies that open up new venues for advertising, sponsorships and storytelling
  • Examples of social TV initiatives
  • How to get started in social TV marketing

Instructor: Carri Bugbee

Watch this class now

 


Fundamentals of Facebook Marketing

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Market Your Business With Facebook. In this class, you will learn step-by-step how to create a strategic Facebook plan so it works for you, rather than against you. You will walk away with an action plan, implementable steps and a better understanding of how to integrate Facebook into your business from a strategic perspective.

In this class, you will learn step-by-step how to create a strategic Facebook plan so it works for you, rather than against you. You will walk away with an action plan, implementable steps and a better understanding of how to integrate Facebook into your business from a strategic perspective.

You Will Learn

  • Facebook marketing planning fundamentals
  • How to become a social business and identify influencers
  • How to optimize your Facebook profile and overall brand presentation
  • How to implement goals and understand your KPI's
  • How to master Facebook promotions

Instructor: Kylie Bartlett

Watch this class now

 


How to Achieve Success Through Relationship Building

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It’s been said that it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters in business. The problem is that you can know a lot of people but not have built relationships with them, and then the fact that you know these people really doesn’t matter at all. That’s why today I’ll be showing you how to create success through relationship-building.

Why Relationship-Building Is Key to Business Growth

Every time you meet someone new, he or she has a network of about 250 people. Some of those people could be potential clients, customers, business partners, or friends. If you make the right impression with the people you meet, you can expand your own personal network exponentially, growing the opportunities for you and for your business quite rapidly.

We know that people do business with people they know, like, and trust, but they also have to need your products or services and believe that you can do exactly what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. If you can make that happen then you’ll have given your clients and customers proof that their trust in you is well-founded, resulting in more referrals and business growth.

Further, if someone isn’t a client or customer now, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be in the future. If you focus on the relationship instead of the immediate sale, you’ll have something that lasts a great deal longer and is much more valuable in the long run.

Related Class: Success Through Relationship Building

The Kinds of Relationships You Need

In my book, Business in Blue Jeans, I refer to the assortment of relationships that any business owner needs as “The Village,” because every business, like every child, takes a village to survive and thrive. There are five neighborhoods in your village:

  1. The Networking Neighborhood: This is a big neighborhood with lots of loose connections.
  2. The Mastermind Neighborhood: This is a small neighborhood, with tighter relationships and bonds, formed around advancing a shared goal or an industry.
  3. The Administrative Neighborhood: This is the neighborhood where the people who make your business run well live. We’re talking about graphic designers, assistants, salespeople, office managers, social media managers—all of the people who do the work of your business so it can run better.
  4. The Advisory Neighborhood: This is where all of the people who keep you on-track and out of trouble live. It’s where you’ll find lawyers, accountants, consultants, and coaches.
  5. The Customers and Clients Neighborhood: This is the place where all of the people who buy your products and services live.

We need all of these relationships for business growth and success.

The Actual Relationship-Building Itself

Relationship-building isn’t about getting to know how others can be of benefit to you. It’s about how you can be of benefit to others. And that doesn’t mean looking at the other person as a prospect that you can qualify or trying to find a way to re-word your sales pitch so that it sounds like you’re giving them a gift. It’s about getting to know people as human beings and having conversations to find out more than just, “What do you do for a living?”

In fact, when you meet someone for the first time, whether it’s in a networking context or another one, try not asking what he or she does for a living. We’re all more than our job, and looking for other questions that might help you get to know the person better will help you to get outside the ordinary and communicate on a human level, which is a much stronger foundation for a relationship to form.

When Is It Time To Sell?

When you listen and become curious about other people, you’ll find out if there’s an opportunity or not. You won’t have to convince anyone to buy anything. Listen and find out what’s going on with that person and what their frustrations are, and you’ll know if there’s a good fit or if there’s an opportunity for business.

All of this may sound counterintuitive, because it’s the opposite of what you’ve probably learned about sales. But if you build relationships the right way, if you focus on the person, the opportunities will arise organically.

Note that this has nothing to do with marketing, which can open doors to other opportunities, conversations, and relationships. I’m not saying you don’t have to market your business. I’m saying that when you enter into a conversation, remember you’re talking with another human being—not a prospect or a potential client or customer, but a human being.

Where to Start Building?

Opportunities arise when you put yourself in the right situations. Social media is a wonderful place to initiate relationships with interesting and, yes, strategic people. Be sure to take the conversation offline to the phone or to an in-person meeting. Social media is a good start, but you want to get off the computer and into the real world to take the relationship further.

 

 

And when you do go offline, turn off your phone, your ringers, and notifications, and be present. We spend far too much time noodling on our phones and answering calls and texts when we’re in the presence of other people. The one thing you can do to build relationships quickly is to give the other person your complete focus and attention.

The next time you’re in a conversation with someone at a networking event or business function try not talking about business. Try simply getting to know the other person and forging a relationship. The business matters will come organically. Instead, just focus on value and relationship-building, and see where it leads.

For an in-depth look on how to further improve your professional development skills, OMI has teamed up with WOMMA to offer a Social Media Marketing Tactics and Strategy Certification Program to teach the essentials, best practices and effective strategies in the key areas of social media and word of mouth marketing. WOMMA members save 30% on OMI certification programs using promo code WOMMA30.

 


The 5 Types of eLearning Providers: Breaking Down Your Options

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First Preview: The Initial Findings of the eLearning Vendor Landscape Report

These days, one of the most talked-about areas in company culture, talent acquisition, pure learning and professional development is eLearning. We see it in every sector: agencies are looking at the advantages of a level set when it comes to client services and digital knowledge; brands rely on eLearning to improve social media skills; small businesses leverage eLearning to drive digital sales. Nearly every major publication, from the Wall Street Journal to PBS, and TechCrunch to AdWeek, is covering this growing area.

With this momentum, we thought it was high time to do an eLearning vendor comparison report – examining the important attributes of each genre of vendor, and of course, the companies that play a role in that space.

elearning

eLearning Providers Categorized

The full report is due out in October, but I felt remiss in not sharing some of the initial findings now, when so many of us are knee-deep in planning and decision-making for the coming year. Here, we’ll break down the five main categories of eLearning providers, with discussion of the advantages and downsides of each platform. Shortly following, we’ll post a further discussion of our top takeaways from the report, and the questions you should ask providers before you decide on one.

The five main types of providers you’ll encounter:

  1. Trainers
  2. Curators
  3. Certificate Programs
  4. General Subscription Providers, and
  5. Digital eLearning Program Creators (new category)

Each vendor has its own upsides and downsides. Our aim is not purely to highlight the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ options, but to examine the flaws and perks across a wide range, so you can determine which providers fit your situation, your needs and your development model best.

Comparison: Big 5 Matrix Based on 6 Important Criteria

The below matrix shows how each provider stacks up in six categories: professional development and skills-based learning, on-demand continuous needs-based learning, content depth (e.g. how many classes on social media are offered), content breadth and range (e.g. do classes cover email, mobile, analytics, etc.), affordability, and the all-important customization capabilities.

elearning comparison

As with so many things in marketing, the initial findings come down to the critical ratio between price and value. Is full customization a requirement to achieve your eLearning and development goals? Or is a wide breadth of training more important to your employees’ success? Which option works best for your business depends on your budget, which criteria you value most, and what you’re willing to pay for a provider that succeeds in those areas.

Pros & Cons by Provider Type

Trainers who dabble in eLearning as part of their training program:

Pro – they offer custom in-person training that works great as an activation tool.

Cons – the in-person training is an expensive service with few options for customization in eLearning. In short, they offer great in-person day-long trainings, often with some supplemental eLearning. It’s the sustainability that suffers long-term after a day of inspiration wears off – when you’ve cut a check for $10,000-$100,000 with not a single change to show for it within your business. Not a lot of bang for your buck, and truly, the day has passed us by when this constituted “our training program.”

Examples:  The Knowledge Engineers, eConsultancy, Hyper Island

E-Curators:

Pro – these are a good option for those looking for an economical, on-demand service for their employees to take advantage of.

Cons – you’ll be at the whim of the random instructor when it comes to the quality (and it will vary) of eLearning available, and there’s zero customization.

Examples:  Udemy, Balloon

E-Certificate providers: 

Pro – these allow for an all in one “in the box” program, which may be a good fit for you. The upside is that you get decent eLearning content with structure.

Cons – the downside is that a) it’s not customizable, so you’re really getting a general program that is diluted enough to meet all needs, and b) it’s often a one-and-done program, leaving you scratching your head for what’s next to keep folks continuously learning. Most times we see a lack of focus on your vertical market, particular staff needs, or your custom outcome goals, which will create lackluster feedback from the team.

Examples:  MarketMotive, Digital Marketing Institute, Bisk

eLearning subscription/license programs:

Pro – these are a great way to offer your employees a huge library of content.

Cons – the challenge is that you’re really just offering a “go check out the library” solution, but you can assume that engagement will be low. This means that its value back to your company specifically, and its application to your internal needs, is a very small part of a true program. The price is low, but so is the value to you.

Examples:  Lynda.com, Grovo

Digital eLearning Creators: These eLearning providers have a unique leg up, since they offer a hybrid of the above providers.

Pros – this type requires relatively low up-front fees and offers customization for an additional cost (far less than trainers charge). Even better, digital eLearning providers like OMI will focus on your long-term, sustainable, scalable outcome. More pros also include custom certificates, custom eLearning libraries, and even custom supplemental live training (online or in-person).

Con – the downside is that you’ll need to invest your time thinking through a good program, and this option will be more expensive than just a license to an eLearning library.

Example: Online Marketing Institute

Comparing Cost to Customization

comparing providers

It’s clear that digital eLearning providers are the ones to watch, overall. Particularly if you’re in need of customization that won’t blow your budget, as illustrated in the chart above. The eLearning content and custom program creators create and operate affordable programs that have specific outcomes – and this is key to full engagement and future program buy-in.

The critical takeaway is a business decision. Do you want to “check off” eLearning on your list, by having some kind of training? If that’s the case, then just license a tool. If you want to do it like you always have, and get a trainer in for a day, then make it happen. But if you really want to take the concrete step of making education a deep and integral part of your organization, then you really need to thoughtfully invest – and start thinking of eLearning first.

It’s a lot to digest, I know! The full report will explore further, but in the meantime check out the second half of our report preview, posted soon here on the blog.

Want to know more? Feel free to connect on LinkedIn, or email me (AaronK@OnlineMarketingInstitute.org) for a copy of the report or to discuss the topic.

 


How to Build an Affiliate Website [infographic]

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Depending on who you choose to follow or believe, affiliate websites are an easy way to make money online.

Affiliate marketing has been around for a long time but the stratospheric rise of e-commerce has seen it transform into a massive global industry worth billions in sales every year. As most of us should really know, there is really no such thing as easy money and anyone jumping on the affiliate marketing bandwagon and hoping to ride off into the sunset with a stash of cash, is almost certainly going to end up disappointed.

Related Class: Affiliate Marketing 101

Whilst the basic principle of affiliate marketing is pretty straightforward and can be an effective way of generating a decent income online, the assumption that it is an opportunity to generate a passive income with minimal input and effort required, will almost certainly lead to failure at some point.

The How to Build an Affiliate Website infographic sets out to explain the basic concept behind this multi-billion dollar industry and runs through a useful list of basic errors that many new entrants tend to make as well as pointing out the components that should be included if you are going to taste the sweet smell of success for some time to come.

The affiliate marketing arena is a crowded space and you really need to find a niche and a way to stand out from rest of your competitors. Creating a point of difference (POD) is one of the keys to ensuring that you avoid the prospect of blending in with other affiliates who are promoting the same products and services that you are.

To achieve profitable longevity in affiliate marketing you need to employ multiple methods so that you have the chance of diversifying your monetization, and you also need to successfully develop methods to contact users without them actually visiting your website.

Affiliate marketing can definitely be profitable when you do it right, but it certainly isn’t easy money.

For more on how to create an effective affiliate marketing foundation, view the Online Marketing Institute class, Affiliate Marketing Foundations. This class with teach you all about relationship building, but on an entirely different level. Enroll today to learn the basics of affiliate marketing: what affiliate marketing is, who the major players are, and what to expect from your affiliate marketing program as a whole.

 


How to Generate Leads Without Spending a Dime: The Case for Guest Blogging

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Lead generation is a big worry for most businesses – if you’re not thinking about it, you probably should be. Keeping your customers returning once you have them is critical of course, but new faces are a requirement for growth and healthy cash flow. Actively seeking out new leads requires effort, yes, but it’s well worth your time and money. Short on money? Invest your time instead by guest blogging.

How Does Guest Blogging Work?

I’m assuming here that your business already has its own blog – because that’s an essential part of any inbound marketing efforts. As you no doubt know, your blog is a resource for leads, customers, and those just sniffing out your business for the first time. Guest blogging is a way to generate leads by pointing them to your blog, and then your business. It’s possible that your site could benefit in terms of SEO from backlinks, but it shouldn’t be your main goal – spammy guest blogging won’t get you anywhere.

The process of guest blogging is pretty straightforward, and works in two possible ways. The first option is to submit a completed blog to a site that accepts them; the second is to reach out to blogs you select, and offer to create a post for their readers. Try both!

Why Should I be Guest Blogging?

You need to generate new leads all the time, and you probably don’t have endless funds for pay-per-click ads, promoted Facebook posts, and all the other myriad ways you strive to reach new eyeballs. Guest blogging is free in terms of cash, and if you’re a practiced blogger (or have one on your marketing or web team) then the time investment won’t be extensive either. And with the right placement on a good blog, and a high quality blog post from you, the payoff can be more than worth your time.

Think about your business’s blog; you probably have a pretty steady readership, or none at all, or the odd uptick in traffic when something gets shared in the right place. Much of your readership may already be converting customers, so you’ll need to draw in new leads and get them to check out everything you have to offer, starting with your thoughtful blog, and hopefully leading to your great products or services.

If you author a strong guest post on a blog that reaches your target audience, enthusiastic readers will follow links to your blog, in your byline or bio. Depending on the blog, you might even be able to mention your business outright, although I’d shy away from a true plug, since you don’t want to seem self-promotional. The value you should be offering readers in a guest blog is your thought leadership – not your services, even if they are great.

Related Class: Introduction to Blogging

How Do I Get Started?

I’ll be talking more about the process of guest blogging in my next post here on the OMI blog. But to start you off, your first step is finding a blog to guest post on. There are many ways to do this, but you’ll want to cast a wide net (among quality sites, of course) since not all your attempts will be successful.

Many different types of sites accept guest blogs at all times. Popular CMS companies, web and eCommerce platforms, and education- or eLearning-focused blogs often welcome the contributions of their users. HubSpot, Shopify and Desk.com come to mind. But that’s if you want to write about topics relevant to those sites and their readers – largely marketing and eCommerce. If your thought leadership is more specific to the industry you’re in, whether it’s refurbished gadgets or high-end baking, you’ll need to seek out blogs that speak to those niche topics, and those readers.

Obviously a simple Google search will turn up many options in most industries, and then you’ll want to vet them for quality (to avoid spammy sites or blogs that are just poorly done). Even a high quality guest post on a low quality blog isn’t going to get you any leads, because no one will be reading it in the first place!

When you find a site that is relevant to your business and already has a strong blog, you should confirm that they have engaged readers (check for comments, social media shares, etc.) so you don’t waste your time on a blog that isn’t being read, or isn’t resonating with readers. Check out their social media sites – are they reaching an engaged readership that you want to get your hands on? Make a list of blogs that fit the bill, and start the process by making contact.

Want to find out more? Check out OMI’s “Content Marketing Best Practices” class for advice on the guest blogging process – and other content marketing strategies you should consider.