Month: October 2014

Mapping Out Your Marketing Automation Strategy


If you’re on a road trip, you started at point A with the goal of getting to Point B. If it’s a long road trip, you may make a few stops here and there, stay the night, and see some sights. Your stops break up the long drive and expose you to new (hopefully) educational experiences along the way. That is what makes a road trip fun, right?

marketing automation map

But, before you start out on your adventure, you should probably map out your journey and all the stops in between. Mapping out your journey before you leave keeps you on track to your destination. In this way, a road trip is a lot like marketing automation. Marketing automation gets a lead and/or customer from point A to point B, using specific content pieces that act as stops along the journey – the customer journey that is.

Rules of the Road

Just like you don’t want to stray (too far) from your route in a car, you also don’t want your leads and customer to stray to one of your competitors. You want to make sure that your leads and customers stay consistently engaged with your brand. Marketing automation helps you get the right content in front of the right person at the right time.

Thankfully, marketing automation software exists to help you map out and manage your lead’s journey from the moment they first come in contact with your brand to the moment they become a paying customer and beyond.

So, let’s explore the different ways that you can start implementing marketing automation today.

#1:  Visualize Your Customer

Not everyone wants to take the same road trip, or make the same stops. This is true, too, for your leads and customers. It is important to understand that your buyers want and need different things. This is where buyer personas come in handy.

By establishing buyer personas, you can get a better idea of the type of content they want and where they want it. Not every customer is going to want your newsletter; some may prefer to get their content via Twitter, Facebook, your blog, and so on. Leads are also at different stages of the buying cycle so the content they receive should reflect that as well.

Related Class: Demand Generation: Understanding Your Audience

Don’t just write out your buyer personas. Instead, illustrate who they are with images and descriptions. Having a visual representation of each persona also helps guide your content, so that you develop and publish content directed at each buyer. The more targeted content you create, the more likely the lead is to listen.

Check out my full blog post on creating buyer personas for more information.

marketing automation to funnel


  • Think about what types of questions each persona would ask. What issues are they trying to solve? If you already have content that speaks to your different personas at each level of the buying process, then repurpose that in your automation. If not, start to develop content surrounding each persona and their respective questions.
  • Develop an organizational chart that categorizes your content with your personas. This will make things a lot easier when mapping out your automation and the journey that each persona takes.

#2:  Visualize Their Road Trip

Now, it’s time to actually visualize the trip your personas are taking. An example:

It isn’t just enough to say that one person skis, and the rest snowboard. Some of your friends are coming from LA and San Diego, while other are coming from across the country. This not only plays into who they are, but also makes a huge difference in how they get to the end destination, Mammoth.

So, how does this translate to marketing automation? Easy. There are a number of ways that a person comes into contact with your brand, but also a difference in how they receive your messaging. Just as I mentioned earlier, some may prefer email newsletters, while others want to engage with you socially. The point of the matter is that you need to make it easy for each of your leads to take the path they want towards conversion.

Related Class: Introductory Overview of Digital Marketing Channels

It’s at this point where you’ll want to draw out your map or your funnel and marketing automation strategy.

Things to think about:

  • Signup forms and landing pages: The more landing pages the better. Each landing page should be relevant to what the lead clicked on to get there. If you promised a special promotion, do not send them to your homepage. Make each landing page contextual, so it gives them a reason to signup for more information. Landing pages can be used for PPC campaigns, specials, events, and pretty much any targeted message that triggers some sort of action.
  • Drip campaigns and auto-responders: Drip campaigns can be triggered by clicks, signups, SMS campaigns, inbound phone calls, and much more, while auto-responders are specific to particular signup forms. The two can work simultaneously, but you have to make sure that you understand the difference first.
  • Number of emails in your series: Think about what a new lead is going to want to read or view. Don’t make the series too long, nor too short. You want to keep them engaged, but not bore them to death. To optimize your drip campaigns, make sure each email has a focus, and answers a question or provides a solution to a problem.
  • Amount and types of content needed: Just as I expressed before, your leads come in all different shapes and sizes, and so should your content. Whether it’s emails, webinars, blog posts, or social media updates, you should be utilizing each medium to ensure that you are touching people at every stage, and effectively guiding them towards their end destination…the sale!

Once you have decided where your leads come from, you can start to map out how they move through their respective customer journeys. This is where you actually draw out, perhaps like a web, the map of where your leads come from, where they are going, and how they are getting there. It is important to keep in mind all their different starting points. Because they all start out in different places, they will take different paths.

Interested in learning more? Check out this class, Marketing Automation Strategy for Full Lifecycle Management, to explore strategies across many channels and platforms, so you can reach your leads where they want to engage.


Digital Marketing Team Training: How OMI Helps Your Organization Achieve Digital Excellence


The OMI Education & eLearning Program

The Online Marketing Institute is the world’s most respected global education company in digital and social media marketing. Launches nearly 10 years ago, OMI has helped more companies, from small agencies to global brands, accelerate their digital transformation than any other eLearning provider.

For the Online Marketing Institute, the building blocks of a great educational program include four elements that create a complete education and eLearning program. Together, these four elements are proven to impact your business positively, to be scale-able to employees worldwide and to be sustainable for the gains and knowledge that drive everyday improvements. These building blocks are:


Digital IQ Assessment

A quick and simple way to test employees on digital marketing knowledge and assess strengths and weaknesses per person, per department and across the whole company. This assessment helps OMI build a program to fill your bigger gaps and accentuate your strengths.


Digital Essentials and Onboarding Certificate

For most, a baseline knowledge to level set the team and company on digital knowledge is the first step in true digital transformation. The Digital Essentials Certificate is a great way to ensure that your entire team has the baseline knowledge and are on the same digital page. Not to mention bringing new employees and interns up to speed.


Continuous “Needs Based” eLearning Library

Most instances of personal learning are initiated by an acute and timely need. Give your team access to the entire OMI library of over 400 on-demand classes updated monthly. It’s a great and simple way to help your employees to stay current on industry trends and best practices, as well as a way to build their own learning experience or follow a path of specific classes that you assign to them.

Trends & Best Practices Live & On-Demand Monthly

Everyone is interested in the latest trends and innovations in the digital space. OMI’s on-demand resources were created, in part, to capture all that is new and innovative in the world of digital marketing. Your team will find what’s new, what’s trending, what’s being done and what the best practices are.

Digital and Social Media Training Programs for Marketing Teams, Agencies and Global Enterprise

Who is this training suitable for?

OMI’s training is tailored to fit the requirements of your organization, and extends beyond the marketing team. OMI’s online, on-demand approach makes it possible to deliver custom education to a wide range of audiences.

  • Agency marketers who need to be knowledgeable and confident when working with clients.
  • Specialist digital marketing teams wanting to update their skills.
  • Offline marketers who need practical insights into online marketing.
  • Human resources teams responsible for the employee brand, recruitment of digital staff and internal skill development.
  • C-level executives wishing to understand the implications of digital for their business, to make better decisions and assist with planning and strategy.
  • Entire organizations wishing to evolve the enterprise for the digital era. 


Contact us today to learn more about how OMI can help your team achieve digital excellence.


A Lesson in Viral Video Marketing: Cats, Celebrities, and Madden NFL 15


I love cat videos as much as any other girl on Facebook, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that ads with cats are a surefire way to get me to buy cat food. The BuzzFeed video below, sponsored by Friskies and titled “Dear Kitten,” is a fun way to spend 3 minutes, for sure. But the 8 seconds that talk about wet food coming in armored claw proof containers at the 2 minute mark, and then the 15 seconds of static ad at the end of the video didn’t make a lasting impression.

This is especially true since I don’t own a cat at the moment, and if I decided to go get one Friskies might get my pet food purchases, but the big winner would be PetSmart – they’d sell me a kitten, a bed for my kitten, a $300 electronic litter box so I didn’t have to scoop said kitten’s poo, and a laser toy because that 22 seconds in the video focused on laser pointers made me want to play with kittens and lasers.

You may have noticed that I trailed off there for a minute – that’s how cat videos work. You watch a video, and then you say to the person sitting next to you, “Did you see that cat named Maru that jumps into boxes? It has 80 Million YouTube views, isn’t that insane?” This is, of course, the problem with most viral videos. They aren’t content, they’re filler. We watch them and we never know what they were about, or why we should care, and so 16 million views later, they still haven’t made a lasting impression.

Madden’s Smart Move

Let’s change tack now and look at a different viral video. It was definitely not as cheap to make as the Dear Kitten video, which I could likely have made for $300 on a weekend. Kevin Hart and Dave Franco star in the Madden NFL 15 video from EA Sports, and it’s a big production. There are fewer than 15 seconds of footage of the actual game in this ad, which you can watch below.

I am so out of touch with sports that I had to ask a friend why it was called Madden (turns out he was a commentator who has been part of the EA franchise since 1984). I don’t own an Xbox One, or 360, or PlayStation. I don’t have the foggiest as to the rules of football. I love to go to games, and eat food, and yell, and jump up and down when everyone else does, but I have no delusion that I am an NFL fan, or a video gamer. But after watching this video, I had to be talked out of buying the game and a console to play it on, because I am competitive, I do like Twitter wars, and I couldn’t get the song out of my head.

Content Over Cats

Madden Season is content marketing. It may be funny, and sharable, and infectious, but it’s not a flimsy viral video. I watched the video, and then went looking for how much it would cost to buy the game, and a console, and which console was the one to play it on, and then watched other trailers for the game. I basically went from never having heard of Madden, to deciding I was going to own it in 3 minutes. Bravo to EA Sports.

Related Class: Video Marketing & YouTube 101

As a marketer, this is everything you want in an ad. I was entertained, I was informed, I was ready to buy. EA is good at this, and they have been for years. Even before there was a YouTube (2002), EA was creating videos that made the rounds by email, depicting how various countries celebrated wins at the World Cup, to promote their FIFA franchise. The ads resonated with people who were only interested in soccer once every 4 years, and had no understanding of the game, but it worked because they were emotional, and well informed, and sharable.

Those same rules apply today. The best content marketing doesn’t feel like an ad, it feels like content. Friskies got that right, but they missed the other rule for the best marketing: it makes you want to go get the product right now. EA has had 12 years of practice, so they should have the recipe down. BuzzFeed is new to the game, so while I’m sure they made a mint off the Friskies ad, I don’t think either company should count it as a huge success. And lastly, I’m not responsible for you singing the Madden Season song for the rest of the day, or adding the phrase, “I will write the check your face can’t cash, and make you pay your bills” to your vocabulary.

video marketing

Interested in learning more about how your business can do video the right way, and get results? Check out this class, YouTube: The Digital Video Advertising Opportunity, for lessons on creating compelling content, choosing topics that resonate with your audience, and leveraging your video for big results.


Tips for Social Media & Email Marketing: Tailoring Content for Your Channels


In my last post, I explored the value of social media marketing in comparison with email marketing. There are certainly positives and negatives to both methods of reaching your leads, but the truth is that your view of them probably has a lot to do with what you marketing priorities are. If you’re solely focused on sales, sales, sales, then email is a faster way to get there. If you are interested in working to develop your brand – and the way people feel about and interact with it – then social media is a great place to do the job.

Sharing Content Well

Syndicating content is something that we all do to some extent on our own platforms, whether it’s sharing your blog posts on Facebook and LinkedIn, or tweeting your email offers to followers. In general, it’s a smart way to get more mileage out of your content marketing efforts. This is particularly helpful for small businesses that don’t have an in-house team to generate endless new content. You worked hard on producing valuable content, so by all means, share it!
email marketing

But sometimes businesses go overboard when it comes to distributing all their marketing efforts across all their platforms. The trick to avoiding this oversaturation is a real understanding of how each channel works, who it reaches, and what those people are looking for from you. Your marketing channels will not do best with a one-size fits all approach – they want smart, tailor-made content.

Email: Good for Sales & Offers, Bad for High Volume

Let’s start with email, a very valuable tool for driving traffic and bringing both first-time buyers and repeat customers into your sales funnel. The great advantage of blasting a newsletter or special offer out to your mailing list is, essentially, the list itself. These are qualified leads, people who have either purchased from you before, or chosen to provide their email addresses to you. Don’t hold back – go for the salesy content! Pitch your products! They are interested – though whether they’re buying what you’re selling right now is another story, which depends a lot on your email marketing content.

To put it plainly, email is THE medium for distributing offers. Whether it’s a discount code, a BOGO promotion, a freebie or just a limited time clearance sale, many of the people on your mailing list are expecting to receive those types of offers, and (if they’re anything like me) it may be the only reason they’re still on your mailing list and haven’t clicked ‘unsubscribe.’ Voucher codes also work great on social media, but be sure you get them out to your mailing list as a first priority.

Related Class: The Power of Email Marketing: 8 Keys to Success

What email isn’t good for is heavy volume, which is where social media has the advantage. No one’s going to complain if you tweet every day, or even many times a day – but try that with email and see how thin your mailing list grows! Even if you think every one of your emails is witty, or funny, or informative, or packed full of discounts, sending too many of them will only lead to fewer and fewer recipients.

Social: Good for Personality & Frequency, Bad for Constant Self-Promotion

Social media is an effective and generally free way to get your brand out in front of consumers, so there is really no downside – as long as you’re posting the kind of content that users want to see. These channels create an opportunity for you to form the perception of your brand to a certain extent, whether it’s a fun and playful vibe with plenty of interaction (see Taco Bell), or a focused and informative style like Met Life. Whichever you settle on, what users don’t want is endless self-promotion – so mix it up or you’ll be quickly un-Liked.

Related Class: Content Marketing Strategy for Social Media

Because users on social media are likely seeing your post or tweet in between their friends’ and family members’ posts or tweets, you’re in a unique position to be a little more human. When done right, humanizing your brand this way will help users feel that they know and trust you – so you become more than your products or services to them. You should be posting not just about offers and sales but also about the behind the scenes stuff: announce new hires at the company, celebrate retirements, photograph office/store parties, or share new product development stages. Pull back the curtain so you can help influence how they see your brand.

email marketing

Whereas email isn’t a good channel for sharing frequent content, social media is a great platform for it. Since Facebook isn’t even serving your posts to all your fans (those days are long gone, sigh), the likelihood of oversaturating any one person’s feed is pretty low. And on Twitter, the average user sees hundreds of tweets a day, so they’re unlikely to mind or even notice if you’re posting frequently throughout the day. I’d suggest scheduling your tweets ahead of time as much as possible; this will help you avoid posting all your tweets in rapid succession, particularly if you’re the type of busy marketer or business owner who only gets around to checking Twitter once a day. Most users of social media follow hundreds of other businesses and people, so you should worry more about how to stand out in the feed than about how often you appear in it.

Balance, Share, and Specialize

You wouldn’t email your entire mailing list to share a photo of your office dog, and you wouldn’t post super-salesy content to your Twitter or Facebook feed. Think hard about what you’re sharing where, and make sure you’re not just blanketing all channels with the same tone, offers and sales copy.

Use Twitter for your short, newsy-content; use Facebook or Instagram for your personal, behind the curtain posts; use email for your sell-sell-sell, offer-focused messaging. You can certainly cross over content between different channels – in fact, you probably should. But take a few minutes to adjust the tone, add a photo, or pump up the copy before you do. Combined, your various channels will complete a content delivery system that always shows you at your best.

Get some practical tips and tricks from this class by social media expert Jennifer Kane: Best Practices for Integrated Content Marketing and Social Media. You'll learn more about balancing your content across different social media platforms, and how to be consistent while still tailoring your content to best fit the channel.


The NASCAR Parallel: 3 Ways that Wearable Technology Will Change Advertising


What do NASCAR drivers, Little League ball players, and smart watch owners all have in common? They wear advertisements.

Maybe not in quite the same way – but as smart watches start to become popular, ads for smart watches will also start to become commonplace. Wearable ads may not just be targeted at the wearer, and that is something wearable owners will have in common with NASCAR.

wearable advertising

Google Glass doesn’t have a display that others can easily read, so any ads that appear on it will likely have to be for the user, but watches are another story. It is pretty common for me to have someone comment on my Omega Ladymatic (I don’t pick the names), and if you assume that a lot of people look, but don’t comment, you can guess that display ads could be a juicy market for watch faces. With multiple companies entering the smart watch market, the way ads are purchased will change, for sure – and while display ads will be one of those changes, there will be also be several others.

1.  Contextual Advertising

First, ads are going to be far more contextual. All of that data that we collect from phones is interesting, but a phone has more privacy restrictions than a watch will. This is because people expect more privacy from a phone. You lock your phone, you don’t keep the screen on for everyone to see at all times, and you have things stored on your phone that you think of as private.

Watches have always been reasonably communal in the information you share from them. “Do you have the time?” is something you can ask of a random stranger who is clearly wearing a watch. “Can you take a picture of me for Instagram?” or “Can I call my mom?” is something you would not likely ask a random stranger holding a phone. As a result the ads are going to be creepier in how they follow your location and interests, and likely will not always be on a device.

Related Class: Targeting Millennials on Social & Mobile

Monetizing apps is much more likely to be about agreeing to be advertised to off-device, using data from the device. Think of it like a rewards card: you swipe your card at the grocery store, and then you get ads related to your purchases. The same will be true of data from your wearable. Get an app in exchange for letting Starbucks get access to your geo data, or get free iTunes credits when you opt to allow Bank Of America to know your pulse rate when you are making payments at stores. We are going to trade our info for better targeting, and this will bring changes to the way big companies do their marketing.

2.  Multi-Screened Ads

Second, ads are going to be dual screened. Your wearable sharing your data to the cloud on a regular basis will create a way for ads on screens near you to change what they advertise, or how they advertise it. Think about how you might receive an ad when you are stressed compared to when you are relaxed. Or what you would buy when you’re hungry vs. when you are not. As we start wearing things to share our heartbeat and blood sugar levels, it’s not far-fetched to expect ads on your desktop, or even your Hulu, that reflect your current bio-state.

mobile advertising

3.  Wearable Ad Feedback

Lastly, ads are going to be more emotive. Currently, most ads are relatively bland. This is because advertisers know that you can do as much harm with an ad as good, since it’s far too easy to advertise in a way that rubs a user the wrong way. Wearables are basically electronic mood rings, so for the first time, advertisers will have real time feedback loops about how a user reacted to an ad.

Related Class: Introduction to Retargeting (Remarketing) on Google

When you run an ad that is supposed to make people laugh, the sensors will confirm if you got the desired reaction. If your ad is intended to make users mad, like a political ad that criticizes a candidate for saying something offensive, the wearable can confirm that reaction as well. For example, if a company ran an ad featuring a gay family in a home with conservative values, the feedback would likely tell that company to consider a more mainstream ad. Running the same ad in the home of a progressive “modern family” would bring the company feedback showing how the ad resonates positively, and the company would then know that those types of ads will work in that household in the future.

Wearables will soon be a lot like NASCAR drivers in their advertising ways. And in another sense, NASCAR is all about data. The drivers log their own data, track all sorts of sensors, and wear indicators that follow the pulse of the car and the driver. That data is then used to achieve a successful outcome. In that way, wearables have even more parallels to NASCAR than you might think.

Thinking hard about how your ads are reaching people, and what the results are? Check out this class, Validating Campaign Delivery: Thrive in the Digital Economy, to learn more about how you can monitor data about the people you’re reaching, and the efficacy of your advertising efforts.


Twitter Cards for Business: A Guide to Getting Started


If you’re a regular user, you’ve definitely seen Twitter Cards before. Twitter cards are essentially a way to push your content beyond the traditional 140 character limit. With a variety of choices in different optimized card types, you can add a much stronger visual image, resulting in higher click and engagement rates. Put simply, Twitter Cards can include a variety of media types below your original tweet, pulling metadata from your website in different forms. From blog articles and large images to video and app downloads, you can be sure to find an attractive card format that works for your site, and cranks up your traffic.Twitter cards boost

Why Use Twitter Cards?

Twitter is unquestionably one of the fastest moving platforms out there, with approximately 6,000 tweets sent a second (that’s 500 million a day). It’s never been more essential for your message to cut through the crowd and make a visual impact. With Twitter’s natural short text-based interface, it can be easy for a user to swipe up and miss your tweet. And even if they see the message you’re trying to convey, it could be confusing or garbled due to your 140 character limit.

Related Class: Twitter Marketing 101

This is where Twitter Cards can be really beneficial. Besides looking very professional and in line with your business image, Twitter Cards give you a chance to get more content into each tweet in a display style that’s suited perfectly to your brand. On top of these benefits, once a Twitter Card is set up, it can be used on every single tweet.

Different Types of Cards

To activate Twitter Cards, you’ll only need to decide on a type of Card, and then add a few lines of HTML code to your website. Determining which type of Card works for you is the big first step, so let’s discuss the main types of Twitter Card:

Summary Card: This is the default Twitter Card and is a great way for bloggers to showcase their posts or news articles. The Summary Card includes a description, thumbnail image, account attribution and link to the content.

Large Photo Summary Card: This Card is ideal if your brand content is very image focused. With a much larger image display, these Cards have all the same features as a normal Summary Card, but beware – the description is space limited.

Gallery Card: Perfect for restaurants, hotels and any brand wanting to take a strong visual approach, this Card gives you the chance to add a combination of four photos in a gallery style to one tweet. Great for story-telling and as a mini photo album.

Photo Card: Any photographers will find this a really useful card, similar to attaching an image on Twitter but with the enhanced ability to add a photo caption and site link.

Twitter Lead Generation Card: This is the paid ad version of the above Cards. If you’re looking for leads to build your brand’s email database, the Lead Generation Card is a smart choice; the viewer’s email address is already pre-filled so it just takes a click to capture the lead!

Product Card: An underrated essential for any ecommerce brand. The Product Card gives you a title, description, thumbnail image and all product details (price, availability, etc.).

App Card: This is a smart Card for any app developer looking to increase sales. The Card shows the app name, stars, ratings, price and an icon with a long Call to Action button (when viewed in mobile).

Player Card: Slightly more complicated than the other Cards, this one needs approval and testing on platforms. But for musicians, videographers and creative types, this can be a valuable tool to increase views and reach.

Twitter cards

After checking out the different styles of Twitter Cards, have you worked out which one will be the most effective for your brand? If you have, it’s time to get installing!

Installation Process

Installation is where it can get intricate and a little more complicated: meta tags need to be installed on your site’s page, to help Twitter pull over all necessary data when posting in the future. A developer or web designer can help you get started with this method. Twitter also has a great page on getting started if you have the general know-how to try it yourself. There are also other options depending on your platform. For example, if your site is built in WordPress, there are several apps available to help with the Card installation process. If you’ve got your eye on the Lead Generation Card, you won’t need to install anything – just visit the Twitter Ads dashboard.

Reviewing & Analyzing Your Cards

Once you’ve started using your Twitter Cards, you can find out how your audience is reacting with Twitter Card analytics. Get started by visiting Twitter Analytics to get a concise view of how many clicks, retweets and impressions your card has received.  On top of this, if you use a variety of cards you can view the different types to really determine which is working best for your specific audience.

Related Class: Measuring the Value of Social Media Using Simple Analytics

Tips & Tricks

Engage – Now that you have your Twitter Cards with analytics, make sure you use this information to its maximum potential, by reaching out to and engaging with those who are regular fans of your content.

Mix it up Be sure to try different styles of Cards to see what works best, and A/B test to find the most effective option for your business. For example, sometimes a Gallery Card might get you more attention from users than a large photo Summary Card.

Make it clickable Most Twitter Cards are unexpanded, so your normal tweet copy needs to be as ‘clickable’ and tempting as possible. Your goal should be to make viewers want to open the tweet, because when they do click, they’ll be greeted with an engaging Twitter Card!

Looking for more on how to get the most out of your Twitter account? Pump up your interaction with this class, Twitter Engagement Tactics for ROI, which explains the overall strategy and day-to-day tactics you should use to get users engaging with your tweets.


7 Game Changing Marketing Trends to Engage Customers and Build Your Brand


Given the need for speed and agility, a critical priority for marketers is to reevaluate your current marketing strategies to determine if they are achieving two key objectives; competitively differentiating your brand and engaging customers across the multichannel mix.Lays - Do Us A Flavor

Here are 7 game changing marketing trends you need to consider as you reevaluate your strategies. As you read these trends you’ll see that they address these key customer needs and expectations:

  • Empowering the buyer to become an active participant in their experience
  • Increasing relevance
  • Increasing differentiation and engagement
  • Solving problems and needs.

#1 Extreme Creativity

Extreme creativity is now required to help you achieve competitive differentiation in an increasingly cluttered and distracted market.

To target business decision makers and reinforce their message of big technology and big data to increase efficiency, GE used extreme creativity in the form of popular Sci-Fi movies in their “Brilliant machines” campaign. The TV spots use creative approaches to show how GE can solve major problems. GE also launched an innovative social campaign which generated 200,000 social engagements across #GEInstaWalk posts, 3.5 million unique viewers and over 3,000 new followers to the GE account.

#2 New Technology

There is a constant stream of new technology to enhance user experiences at every touch point. What’s key is to understand how your specific customers want to use technology to improve their experience with your brand.

HDFC Bank, winners of the Gartner CRM Excellence award, used technology to unify sales, service, and relationship management processes for a concerted CRM experience across all channels and devices, including branch, internet and mobile banking. This integrated, technology-based solution covered more than 40,000 users and its entire 3400+ branch network. The bottom line is that this new use of technology resulted in many improvements including reducing customer complaints by 30%.

#3 True Personalization

According to the 6th Annual Personalization Consumer Survey“consumers expect and desire personalization throughout their online shopping experience. And, 83% see value in being recognized with personalized experiences across channels.”

LE TOTE, an online shopping platform that launched in 2013 breaks new ground in the online fashion shopping experience through true personalization. The company’s personalization algorithm presents merchandise to each customer based on their supplied personalization elements such as measurements, age, location, as well as the items placed into their online “dream closet.” It has achieved rapid success because it provides a uniquely personalized online shopping experience.

#4 Leveraging the Power of Community

The power of community has taken consumer participation to a whole new level by empowering traditionally passive buyers and turning them into active brand contributors.

A powerful example is Quirky, which provides potential inventors with an online “store” to bring merchandise “made by real people” to audiences of “real people.” The concept of empowering the community to vote on which new product ideas have potential and should go into manufacturing, resonates. This community wants to participate in every facet of the process; from idea to development, marketing and ultimately buying these products. This very active community of over 200,000 people is able to vote, rate, and comment on potential new products.

Other notable community marketing campaigns are Lays, “Do us a Flavor”,Crocs social media contest (to vote on new products) and Sharknado2 ‘s fund raising efforts. All of these work because they actively engage fans by allowing them to become participants in the experience. Additionally, it gives brands relevant consumer insights about market preferences.

#5 Embracing the real customer journey

The path to purchase of your buyer is one that every business needs to understand in order to offer necessary education and a seamless experience. Understanding the path to purchase lets you make it simple and easy for people to do business with you.

Online travel site, TripIt believes that the customer journey is not a series of events, but a continuous experience. “It’s about the journey we’re on with the customer,” director of marketing Elisa Haidt. The company gives customers a way to make real-world journeys easier by organizing a trip into a master itinerary. A recent promotion for customers with one-year anniversaries offered a trial version of the premium version which resulted in a 900 percent increase in adoption because it integrated the buying journey into the fully-rounded customer experience.

#6 Multiscreen communication

Whether B2B or B2C, customers are accessing content on a multiple screens. According to new data from Usablenet; mobile traffic to BtoB sites will soon outpace B2C traffic and 52% of business people reported that they are using mobile devices to research products for their businesses.

Microsoft Advertising’s Cross-Screen Engagement study found that 68% of consumers engage in “content grazing,” multi-tasking using several devices at once. This leaves marketers with the challenge of rethinking how they present marketing messages so they deliver a good user experience no matter how the customer is digesting online content. At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity the company showcased a campaign by Lexus using Microsoft solutions for a multi-screen consumer experience.

Related Class: Video and Multiscreen Strategies

#7 Location based marketing

Though this trend is still somewhat controversial, there is no doubt that location-based marketing is here to stay. The ability to use location to target consumers with messages based on not just who they are, but where they are, opens up tremendous opportunities for marketers.

An innovative example is a geo-based deal engine that connects merchants and consumers via a mobile marketing platform. The service lets 8,000 restaurants publish over 10,000 deals “real-time” and “instant offers” to nearby consumers, who download the app to use the service. The company recently ran its first media awareness campaign which increased traffic by nearly 250 percent, showing that consumers are warming up to the benefits of sharing their location info in exchange for a discount at a nearby business.

Additionally, many online location-based price comparison services, have embraced the popular consumer trends of location-based mobile shopping as well as the phenomenon of “showrooming” (checking prices on a mobile device while in a brick and mortar location.) RedLaser, lets shoppers access current deals at local stores or scan the product’s barcode, to discover if a better price is close by. This works because rather than being targeted, customers are offering up their location to seek out helpful information.

We live in exciting times. Innovation is marketing’s best friend. We hope you’ll think about how these 7 marketing trends can transform the quality, relevance and ROI of your marketing.

For more on the latest digital marketing trends, visit Online Marketing Institute's eLearning library of over 400+ classes on digital marketing - from Intro to Social Media to Advanced Retargeting and everything in-between.


Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing: Weighing Your Business Priorities


If you’re here, you probably spend a good chunk of your time reading up on marketing and digital to stay current. Social media marketing certainly feels like the wave of the future; every day there are 10 more reasons to focus your time (and budget) on connecting socially to grow your business. It’s a common topic here on the OMI blog, where there are often tips for getting the most out of your social media marketing efforts.

Related Class: Introduction to Social Media Marketing

But is social really earning its keep at your business? Is it your biggest traffic-pusher, your best lead-converter, your most effective sales-generator? If it is, that’s great. Yet for many businesses, this is just not the case, and without running the numbers, you’ll never know where you fall. Today, a robust social media presence is definitely a requirement for any business – we’re not arguing against that. But you should keep your marketing priorities in line with the ROI they bring you, regardless of what is newest or most on-trend in the marketing world.

Crunching the Numbers

A huge range of studies have examined the value of email vs. social media when it comes to marketing, and while you can split hairs, the overall results show that email still far outpaces social platforms when it comes to getting customers and profits. This summary highlights recent studies with some impressive stats: specifically, that email is roughly 40 times more effective for acquiring new customers, and 3 times more likely to lead to a sale. And when you get that sale – email sales have an average order value 17% higher than those acquired through social media.

email newsletter

What do these numbers mean for you? That depends. Obviously these studies examine a wide range of businesses, and you’re most likely only interested in one business – your own. You’ll need to crunch your own numbers to see how your social media marketing efforts add up when it comes to new leads, website traffic, and sales. Careful work with your website’s analytics, and tools like Facebook’s Insights, can help you determine how your time and efforts are paying off. This is particularly important if you’re paying to ‘promote’ or ‘boost’ your social media posts, since you don’t want to throw money at a strategy that isn’t going to pay off in sales.

Where Social Wins Out

There are also, however, many intangible things that are a lot harder to quantify with numbers, but that you should still consider within your social media strategy. Even if your Facebook page or Twitter account aren’t bringing you new sales, many marketers (including this one) would still argue that your social media presence has major value.

Today, those searching online (your potential customers) assume that you’ll have a page on Facebook, a location on Google+, and a social presence that they can look over. You won’t be able to quantify it, but it might very well be that your winning Facebook page and genuine tweets helped them feel a sense of trust and reliability, which somewhere down the line (a day, a week, 6 months later) brought them to your webshop or your brick-and-mortar business.

social marketing

Because social media humanizes your business and connects you personally with potential leads and customers, it will never truly be a waste of your time and effort. But all the same, you may never be able to track these social media victories, and might not even have a comment or like to let you know you’re doing well online.

What Does This Mean for Your Priorities?

Once you’ve run the numbers, you should have a better idea of where your best ROI is coming from – and whether your time and efforts reflect that ranking, or not. If your social media presence is sucking up a lot of your valuable time, or requires too much attention from your in-house team, then you should reconsider whether the time is paying off in sales and new customers. Of course, dropping it altogether isn’t really an option, but scaling back the frequency with which you update, post or tweet could help you manage time and improve quality.

Related Class: Tracking and Measuring Email Marketing Results

On the other side of the equation, you should make sure that you’re giving email marketing the attention it deserves. Every email you send is reaching a targeted, interested person (more than you can say for a Facebook post), and you can deliver great content straight to them. If you’re doing a monthly email newsletter, that’s great – but do the numbers show that a biweekly newsletter would drive more sales? Or, try rolling out triggered emails when customers visit your site, or if they haven’t purchased anything in 6 months. A little A/B testing will go a long way, so you can tell how your email efforts are paying off.

Stay tuned for my next post exploring the topic of content channels, and how different channels like email, Facebook and Twitter should be used in ways that play to their strengths, instead of a one size fits all approach.

In the meantime, explore the practical aspects with this class, Measuring the Value of Social Media Using Simple Analytics. You’ll learn how to accurately measure social media traffic to your website, calculate engagement metrics, and much more.


Social Starter: A Beginner’s Guide to Google+ Marketing


Putting it simply, Google+ is a marketer’s dream. Sure, there are a few ins and outs you will need to learn to use it well, but it will be well your time. So, let’s kick off and explore the ways it will help you and your business fly.

Build targeted email lists using Google Circles

Google Circles are powerful, but so many people are not seeing this advantage yet! Imagine you have a super niche email list of people who want to receive information you have. That is what many diligent marketers are building up using Google+.


When you’ve built them well, you will be able to notify people through targeted emails and increase the engagement on your content.

Related Class: Google+ and SEO Reputation Management: Why Your Business Must Set Up an Account

Top of mind awareness

There is real power in the plus one button. Every time you ‘plus one’ someone’s content they receive a notification, which brings you and your logo to their attention. The deeper you connect with them, the more powerful an impression you will make. And when, of course, the time comes to make a choice between you and the next brand, you will have already given them a reason to think of you.


Google+ communities

With over 150,000 active communities, these are hives of activity within your niche that are just waiting for you. When you get the ‘feel’ for what’s going on, you can engage and increase the reach of your content as well.


Shares and +1/recommend

There are loads of really subtle features on Google+ that are built in to help you market well. In short, when you understand how information flows around Google+, you will be able to increase your reach with a simple +1 of content that matters to you most; by plus one-ing the ‘shares’ of your own content, you can enable it to have fresh life, and more eyeballs.

Social activity leads to visitors

Do you want more visits to your website? Of course you do! But you also want the right visitors, who are most likely to take their engagement and turn it into action.

When you post the right content for your niche, well formatted and using appropriate hashtags, you will enable more people to find, engage and ‘click’ to visit your website.

From there they are in your ‘house,’ and it will be a case of serving them accordingly.

Google Search

Google+ is Google. Google owns ‘Search.’

This is HUGE. If you search for ‘Google Plus Marketing’ you will probably see one of my posts sitting very near the top. As a case study (included in the OMI course), you’ll see how you too can build a community of people around you who will then fall in love with you and your brand. It only takes 100 brand evangelists for things to get very interesting.

Related Class: Using Google+ for Search Rankings & Brand Reach

This type of social SEO is often considered the future of Search Engine Optimization, and you should specifically consider it as your way to generate quality traffic, long term, to your website.

If you Google many topics about Google Plus Marketing, you may well find that content from Plus Your Business is ready for your attention.

Google+ marketing


Business is about people, and relationships. Google+ is technology that helps people to connect in new ways. To the outside observer they may well see ‘the stream’ of content that flows in the social network aspect, but when you dig deeper you will a new world. There is a thriving community of people who have populated this virtual space; there are daily events on just about every subject you can imagine, all of which are attended by people you want to know. Just drop by and introduce yourself. It will be just like going to a networking meeting, without all the hassle like parking and bad coffee.

And you can meet some really cool people there too:

Google+ hangout

(yes, that is me chatting with Sir Ben Kingsley on a Google Hangout…)


So, let’s say people visit your website – they pay you attention, but then leave. What next? Well, when you understand the Google eco-system, you will be able to use Google Adwords to remarket to people as they move around the web. This is such a powerful and under-utilized tool, and when you add using both Google+ and Google Search to generate relevant visitors, you will be ahead of the game.



There is so much more to Google+ than meets the eye, and this article is just a super quick introduction to the many ways in which you can use it to up your marketing. Have fun and get engaged with Google+, and this great platform will be well worth your efforts.

Go more in-depth on this subject with many classes from OMI on how to use social media, and how to integrate your content marketing with social platforms.


Drive Inbound Efficiency with Social Direct Response


The number one objective for inbound marketing efforts in the year ahead is to increase conversion rates, according to an August 2014 survey by Ascend2/Research Partners. The same survey also found that 90% of companies are now integrating social media and other marketing tactics for inbound marketing purposes. Still, the most challenging obstacle to inbound marketing success reported was the lack of an effective strategy. Some brands and businesses have wisely turned to social media as a direct funnel to sales, creating a lead generation mechanism that collects data and directs traffic to the website at the same time. Yet many are still unsure of how effective or measurable this tactic could be for them.

social media stats

Social media marketing efficiency and efficacy can often get lost in the shuffle of your day-to-day efforts: earning customers’ attention, producing interesting content, and making sure users can find you easily online. Here are three distinct ways marketers can make sure they are exploiting social and inbound to their utmost:

Step 1: Earn Attention with Sincerity

Be genuine. Have a genuine voice and message that consumers will relate to. If the goal is to convert customers from social properties, then your brand should have a genuine message, creating a platform where consumers can easily show interest and intent.

Related Class: Defining Social Media Marketing

For example, this summer Cinnamon Toast Crunch  ran a sampling campaign through social media, with the goal of getting samples into the hands of their most engaged followers. Rather than pushing the product on all consumers, they ask their fans if they want it, and give them a direct way to raise their hand and ask for it. Consumer-powered offers that a brand can use to boost conversions and benefit their followers create a win-win situation.

Step 2: Get Smart Conversions

Use social as a point of conversion. Merge your social and content marketing, giving consumers a way to opt-in via social platforms. Try using unique content opportunities – behind the scenes, newsletter sign-ups, exclusive opportunities, and the like. Since you are likely already producing this type of content, don’t work for the easy ‘like,’ but instead aim to get to know consumers better. Gather information (email address, interests, feedback, etc.) that will help you further the conversation with the consumer as they progress down the path to becoming a loyal customer.

Related Class: Social Promotions Foundations

A great example: adidas soccer gave their social followers a first chance to win an Argentina Messi jersey during a season match. Rather than creating a landing page, they gave fans this opportunity directly in social, reaching them where many were already talking about the game. This way they were able to capture the data of fans who were specifically interested in a particular product, all while creating buzz around a timely soccer event in exchange for an item of high value to its audience.

Step 3: Be Action-Oriented

Create programs that incorporate social actions into your broader inbound marketing activities. When you give the power to the consumer to take action for an offer within the channel (social media) that they like to use, the consumer is able to easily engage, immediately seeing the benefit from your offers. No pushy sales pitch necessary. Simultaneously, brands see their marketing message move from private to public spaces (i.e. from email or direct mail to Facebook or Twitter).

For example, TaylorMade Golf activated their email marketing promotion by telling consumers to enter to get a sample via social media. This allows marketing messages in an offline channel to be actionable for the consumer, no matter where they see a marketing message. It also gives the brand the ability to reach out to the qualified consumer and ask, “Would you like to try?” and also the ability to then fulfill those requests. Importantly, it also allows marketers to move the conversation to a consumer’s interest stream, wherever that may be, so there aren’t any major hurdles between the consumer and the action.

Twitter marketing

While there may be a turf war of sorts going on over social media within marketing departments everywhere, at the end of the day, social can drive interest, intent and conversion. Inbound marketers should have a role in ensuring that social media is part and parcel of their marketing mix, working in coordination with brand marketers and direct outbound marketers. The more concerted the effort, the higher the likelihood that social marketing efforts will drive distinct, measurable business outcomes.

Interested in using social to reel in better, more detailed leads? Watch this class, Social Media Tools to Build Your Audience, where you'll learn the most efficient social media tactics to increase your online presence and simultaneously drive response from your target demographics.