Author: Joshua Jackson

Why Your Next Marketing Hire Should Be A Chatbot

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To compliment the new Emerging Media classes in our updated catalog, he joins us today to explain the way chatbots are changing CRM, and how companies can benefit.

 

Because the chatbot is associated with a long history of frustrating and sometimes humorous responses to human questions, many Internet users roll their eyes when they hear the word chatbot.

And while some searchers ignore chatbox pop-ups habitually, many users fight the urge to close a window or end a phone call when they know a chatbot is on the other side.  

Nowadays, some of those users are pleasantly surprised to find that chatbot technology has come a long way in only a few short years. In fact, marketing teams might go so far as to say that chatbot technology has matured into the full-fledged industry called conversational commerce.

Why?

Because conversational commerce technology has emerged from its novelty phase when chatbots like Microsoft's Office Assistant and AIM's SmarterChild were cutting edge, and now it's —and it's riding a new wave of interest.

Source: Google Trends

In no small part, this chatbot renaissance is due to the proliferation and popularity of messaging apps which - along with brand name chatbots and personal assistants like Google Now and Amazon Alexa - have seen the marketing and AI potential of chatbots grow immensely.

Source: BI Intelligence

In addition, the modern marketing team's demand for 24/7 brand messaging and the ability to deliver a message when no one's available to take a call has worked double time to generate big waves of chatbot interest in platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Source: Google Trends

This means that the modern marketing team's demand for constant messaging has made the online environment ripe for innovation in chatbot marketing technology.

And while the most obvious function of chatbots may be in the realm of customer relationship management (i.e., attraction and retention of customers) the role of chatbots is expanding to include other realms for innovation in marketing: most notably, corporate productivity.

Here's why your marketing team's next hire should be a chatbot.

Big Customer Service Potential

Customer service, and specifically customer retention, is arguably the biggest, best, and most time-tested reason to invest in chatbot technology for your marketing team.

Over the years, customers have grown begrudgingly accustomed to going through the menu-items listed by interactive voice response systems (IVR), the ancient ancestors of the chatbot, that direct customers to the appropriate party via telephone keypad.

Source: Rob Guilfoyle, CEO Abe AI (LinkedIn)

Ask almost any customer what they think of interactive voice response, however, and you'll find that it's not a very good tool for retaining customers, much less maintaining customer satisfaction.

Today, free-flowing chatbot technology enables customers to interact with an AI system that - like a real employee - creates a conversational experience and learns a customer's preferences. Fostering such a natural language exchange rather than forcing a rote, numerical interaction is much more likely to meet modern consumer expectations, which increasingly depend on our ability to query interfaces like we would Google.

This is why adopting chatbot technologies early, and especially those that can handle customers' natural language queries, is likely to pay off in the long run—or in the words of Rob Guilfoyle, CEO of Abe AI, "likely [to] see quick and demonstrable ROI by getting ahead of the adoption curve."

Even Bigger Corporate Productivity Potential

Perhaps for the obvious reason that chatbots can avoid the complications that arise from human error, chatbot technologies have the potential not only to revolutionize the way we think about corporate productivity (i.e., as a means to the end of "the bottom line"), but also the very fabric of corporate productivity itself.

After all, if chatbots can take care of all our customers' service needs, could it become more productive for marketing teams to channel their energy into higher order, less tangible concerns, like accomplishing acts of social good? Could productivity become less defined as a measure of quantity than of quality?

Barring immediate answers to immaterial questions such as these, the prospect of a non-human future where someday, somehow, chatbots could replace human marketers is both frightening and exciting.

This prospect is frightening because chatbots really are beginning to spell a monumental change in the marketing profession for customer relationship managers. It is exciting because chatbots have the potential to more easily automate a processes that annoys customers at the same time as they develop more productive relationships with them.

All that is to say, good chatbots with good AI will make good customers, giving users and consumers the cutting-edge experience they crave with a company that is future-oriented.

And what better way to retain customers than to impress on them that you always have their interests (and their future) in mind?

Need more reasons why your marketing team's next hire should be a chatbot? Take OMI's newest classes on Emerging Media to see how chatbots are changing online marketing.

 


The 5 Biggest Trends Redefining Digital Marketing

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To complement the brand new content marketing classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to discuss 5 trends that are changing the Digital Marketing industry, and how you can make the most of them.

 

Perhaps the best definition of digital marketing is that it’s always changing.

The industry’s constant and rapid state of flux is why so many field guides on SEO and content marketing have emerged over the last decade, only to be rendered obsolete by changing practices the very next year.

This is what makes digital marketing difficult to define at any one point in time: it behaves more like a moving target than an established industry.

As a result, to fully comprehend what defines digital marketing (and therefore, what’s redefining it) we must look at the rise and fall of some of the biggest trends that have defined online marketing since 2004.

We say 2004 because that was the year Google started keeping track of interest in the search terms that define our current moment in digital marketing history—a moment dominated by 5 big trends that have emerged over the past fourteen years

The Big Trends

Using what we know about topics in digital marketing that capture marketers’ imaginations, our current moment in digital marketing history is being redefined by conversations about topics that fall within the following 5 trends:

  1. Digital advertising
  2. Content marketing
  3. AdTech & MarTech
  4. Mobile SEO
  5. Blockchain

Thanks in large part to Google Trends, we know that some very specific changes have occurred to these 5 big trends over the past fourteen years: changes that have already redefined digital marketing as we know it and will continue to do so.

Digital Advertising Is Outstripping TV Advertising

According to one source, digital ad spending surpassed TV ad spending around March of 2017. Although some of us are still waiting for confirmation from other sources on this tectonic shift in spending practices, the trajectory of the market appears clear.

The waning of TV ad spend ultimately signals a changing of the guard, a marked shift from one marketing industry dominated by television, to another marketing industry which is increasingly dominated by digital.

We can see this shift reflected in the slow and steady rise of Google search interest in "digital advertising," and the more precipitous fall of Google search interest in "TV advertising" between 2004 and the present.

That rise and fall suggests that both interest and investment in digital advertising are redefining digital marketing, as digital advertising emerges not merely as one small part of the future of modern marketing, but as one of its most valued players.

Content Marketing is Reaching Untold Heights of Popularity and Making Waves

It’s no secret that content is the most valued player of the digital marketing industry. One study even projects that if investment continues at current global levels, content marketing will be a $300 billion industry by 2019.

But the fact that content marketing continues to rise in practice and popularity despite having been around since before 2004 may surprise some of its practitioners.

Over the last six years, content marketing has undoubtedly shattered expectations with its ability to touch almost every industry in the world and reach record heights of cultural interest and financial investment. This trend is mirrored in Google Trends’ tracking of interest over time for the search term "content marketing," which reflects a steady, sometimes explosive intensification of search interest in content marketing, especially as its influence has expanded over the past 3 years in particular.

What appears to be creating this change may occur on a slightly smaller scale. Social messaging has become more ambitious, clickbait has become more aggressive, and content marketing has almost become something more like "contentious marketing," or messaging that is designed to generate controversy rather than make a point.

Whether or not this newfound propensity for wave-making explains the intensification of interest in content marketing since 2011 remains to be seen.

But one thing is certain: content marketing has redefined and continues to redefine digital marketing on a yearly if not daily basis.

AdTech & MarTech are Converging

Advertising technology has seen a lot of hype over the years.

But ad blockers and the growing popularity of AdTech’s cousin marketing technology have taken a toll, while interest in advertising technology has waxed and waned considerably over the years.

Looking at Google Trends' search interest index, marketing technology also appears to have followed this downward trajectory on a somewhat smaller scale. On the other hand, MarTech  recently experienced an uptick in search interest, which for the first time in digital marketing history, placed ahead of AdTech on Google Trends’ search interest scale this year.

The optics of this suggest that, perhaps like digital advertising is overtaking TV advertising, MarTech is overtaking AdTech with respect to cultural capital and financial relevance—in other words, the age of MarTech has arrived.

It's likely that the two practices are reaching a natural state of equilibrium, as they converge, and both advertising and marketing become even more technologically intwined.

Mobile SEO is Exploding on the Scene After a Steady Hike in Interest

With more mobile connections on the planet than people, mobile marketing is the fastest growing media channel by digital consumption.

Following that trend, mobile content is fast becoming more popular among users and content creators than desktop content.

Much of mobile content’s popularity can be traced to the mobile optimization boom that occurred in 2015, the moment when Google informed the Internet that any websites which weren’t mobile-friendly would be see their content drop in the rankings.

We can see the results of Google’s heads up in the exponential uptick in search interest for the term “mobile SEO” in April of 2015, the same month Google released its mobile-friendly ranking algorithm. After the initial hype, interest mobile search engine optimization died down for a while, only to explode back on the scene in early 2016, since which time it has sustained peak interest.

What this means is that mobile content for the mobile web is here to stay and should not be ignored. It also means that mobile SEO should be at the top of content developers’ lists for trends not only to follow, but to participate in through 2017 and beyond.

Blockchain is Entering Conversations about Marketing Automation

Since it entered the popular consciousness in 2013, blockchain has captured the imagination of workers in every industry, from government agents to marketers and salespeople.

Aside from blockchain’s long-term potential to revamp how global markets operate and interact with each other, one of the main reasons blockchain has become important to marketers and salespeople is that it has the potential to safely and securely automate digital transactions in marketing and sales, as well as authenticate the origins of products for sale.

This automation potential has vast implications that could affect all of the trends discussed above, especially AdTech and MarTech. However, that potential may not come into play until 5 years from now. In the meantime, the fact of whether or not blockchain will affect all these trends is anyone’s guess.

Despite that, there is no doubt that every trend discussed above is working, in big and small ways, to redefine how we think about digital marketing, both today and tomorrow.

Wondering where you fit in with these trends? Take a class in digital advertising, content marketing, AdTech & MarTech, mobile marketing, and digital marketing automation today to find out what you can do to redefine digital marketing.

 

 


3 Ways Content Marketing is More Than Just Managing a Blog

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content marketers

Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To complement the brand new content marketing classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to explain the responsibilities of a content marketing master.

 

After spending hours and hours of planning and posting content, many content marketers slip into thinking their role is simply an exercise in blog management.

They think, "As long as my blog is populated with new content, gets clicks (and the occasional conversion), my job here is done." Then they brush off their hands, and go home for the day.

Most content marketers know their role is not that simple - that there are search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) concerns that must factor into every editorial decision before posting an article.

But sometimes even great content marketers fall into the camp of complacency, and forget that producing quality content means wearing more than one (or even two) professional hats.

The best content marketers balance at least three professional hats, all of which intersect with other corporate departments: They are one part researcher, one part brand ambassador, and one part SEO expert. That’s why today’s blog manager should be working like a Content Marketer in Chief, otherwise known as a Chief Content Officer (CCO).

1. How Content Marketing is Being a Researcher

Content marketers - and especially blog managers - know they need to do their homework. They know that producing good content means researching what other blogs are releasing, teasing out trends in industry discussions, and developing new ideas that will establish their brands as thought leaders and innovators in the public arena.

If they are aware of search engine optimization practices, they also know that executing a good search engine marketing strategy means staying up to date on changes to search algorithms from the most popular search engines, which could affect their company’s place in search rankings.

With all these knowledge bases, a Chief Content Officer should  know how and where to allocate resources in order to optimize content reach and production. This includes knowing when to hire out talent, when to pull the trigger on ad buys, and when to invest time and money in marketing technology that will provide further insight into the company’s target market.

2. How Content Marketing is Being an SEO Expert

Good blog managers know they need to get creative to produce the type of content that helps them rise in rankings. They should also know that to achieve brand recognition, they must encourage, manage, and project their own authority as an organization that pushes the envelope of thought leadership in their industry and knows what places them in Google Search’s top 10 search results.

For content marketers who have the mentality of a Chief Content Officer, this is where it becomes important to not only be a creative expert but also an SEO expert.

Chief Content Officers know all the tricks of the trade when it comes to search engine optimization. They are uniquely suited to harness the power of a variety of softwares and dashboards, pick up on industry trends, and find innovative ways to enhance their content’s placement via PageRank. The goal for Chief Content Officers is not just to make as many search results as possible, but also to expand their organic presence, quality scores, and relevant search traffic through an advanced understanding of how search engines and other websites value their content.

3. How Content Marketing is Being a Brand Ambassador

Blog managers and content marketers of all stripes should know that they operate on their company’s front lines. They should know that what they post and publish represents the voice of their brand; they are brand ambassadors, and first impressions  determine how their organization is perceived by the public.

For content marketers that have the mentality of a Chief Content Officer, the content they publish is more than an exercise in brand management: it is an exercise in brand execution. Every blog post that’s published, every video or social comment that’s posted is where the proverbial rubber meets the road, where not only the content marketer’s vision for the brand comes into play, but also where each and every executive’s voice and vision for the company comes into play.

In other words, content marketing is how every theory about how a brand should impact its audience meets practice, where customer meets executive, and vice versa. That’s  why content marketing is so much more than managing a blog.

Do you have what it takes to market content like a Chief Content Officer?

To learn how you can adopt the strategies of today’s best content marketers, check out our classes on content marketing from Content Marketers in Chief: Joe Pulizzi, Lisa Buyer, and Denise Robert McKee.

 


The 4-Step Content Marketing Strategy for Growth-Hacking Conversions

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To complement the brand new classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to discuss a growth hacking strategy that content marketers can use to boost their conversion rates.

 

There are thousands of workable content marketing strategies, but a select few have higher-than-average conversion rates. These content strategies fall under the category of growth-hacking strategies, which include ways of enhancing leads and conversions in a very short period of time.

One of these content strategies is the four-step process outlined below, which I’ve personally seen increase conversion rates for nearly a dozen affiliate marketing websites focused on growth hacking. Let's dive in!

1. Research and Develop Consumer Insight

Every business has indicators of success, or success signals. These success signals range from the number of leads generated by a single blog post (obvious), to a single click through to a landing page (less obvious).

Growth hackers and conversion-oriented content strategists research and develop consumer insights by harnessing the power of data to narrow down exactly what these success signals tell us about our users. Their methods might include conducting polls, surveys, and interviews—each of which can be achieved with ease on social media—as well as implementing user tests or following the trail of web analytics wherever it goes, which can require some buy-in.

(Source: Inflow)

All of these methods can and should be used to pinpoint exactly what your business is doing that is working to convert casual users into customers, and what your site is doing that isn’t working to convert casual users into customers.

Pro-Tip: Use at least two different methods to test your insights into what’s driving users to convert.

2. Publish Information Most Relevant to Incoming Traffic

One easy success signal we haven’t mentioned is incoming traffic to your website.

Most businesses know that if users perform a search and click through to our website, then we’re doing something right in terms of relevance.

But content strategists and growth hackers also know that a steady stream of traffic doesn’t always spell a steady stream of conversions. They also know that the right kind of traffic does.

So what’s the right kind of traffic? Organic search traffic.

Organic search traffic is drawn to your website because you publish some of the most relevant information pertaining to a certain set of keywords, whether that information appears in an advertisement, a search result, or both.

Now having the most relevant information available on a certain set of keywords also means publishing content well and publishing ads often, both of which should focus on repeating the set of keywords that best draws your organic search traffic.

Pro-Tip: Match your calls-to-action with the keywords that incoming traffic is searching before they are referred to you. That means if users who search “content marketing strategy” are coming to you, you should probably include a call-to-action that says “Get Our Content Marketing Strategy” on a landing page.

3. Appeal to Authority for Credibility

If content strategists want to enhance the pagerank for their content on Google (or any of the Internet’s most popular search engines), they need credibility.

What most people underestimate is how long the path to earning credibility usually is. Even sites that start with a bona fide audience or brand name can lose public interest quickly if the content doesn’t measure up to that audience’s expectations. This is why earning credibility is arguably the most difficult step to surmount in this four-step process: it requires knowing how to build relationships and play the long game, fast.

Growth hackers and content marketing strategists know that in order to gain credibility, they must efficiently use each and every piece of content they publish to build trust and establish relationships with authorities in their industry.

The most surefire way to build trust and establish relationships is to curate content that appeals to authority. Publish content you want those big names to read. Build a network of company reviews, logos, and backlinks that connects your brand with some of the biggest and brightest names in industry. Then watch your conversions start to grow.

This takes time, patience, and maintenance, but it will pay large dividends if you persist.

Pro-Tip: Post company email addresses with a person’s name attached to them on your contact or support pages. Doing so enhances transparency, trust, and ultimately credibility.

4. Offer an Option with Calls-To-Action

Think about the last time someone asked you to do something. Now think about whether or not you were happy to do it. If you were, chances are the person gave you an option, and you chose to do what they asked because you felt it wasn’t too much to ask, especially if the other option didn’t sound as good.

If you didn’t choose to do what they asked, then chances are they offered you too many options when too much was at stake, and you felt the offer was too much to ask, which may have forced you into a state of so-called “analysis paralysis,” or worse, to simply ignore the offer in the first place.

So why do people prefer fewer options to more? According to two studies by the same two researchers, giving people fewer options increases their likelihood of making a decision to buy something.

That means it is a virtue in sales to provide consumers with a simple choice.

The same can be said for the content marketing and conversion strategies of growth hackers.

Growth hackers know that less is more, as well as how to avoid overwhelming users with too much information and too many options. One of the best ways to do this is giving users a choice on your call-to-action pages, even if that choice is as simple as a Sign-Up or Login button. Allowing users to choose between two versions of free content (e.g., Free Trial and a Study) is also a great way to increase conversion rates and gain some insight about what your users prefer.

Pro-Tip: Remove the navigation bar from CTA landing pages. Doing so has been shown to increase conversion rates by as much as 16% for Free Trial offers and 28% for Demo offers.

Is the conversion rate for your content marketing strategy optimized? To learn more about how you can implement a content marketing strategy that optimizes your conversion rates with consumer insights, credibility, and calls-to-action, join OMI's newest classes on Content Marketing Consumer Insights and Content Marketing Channels.

For ten days, access to our new courses is completely free.

 


How Marketers Use Social Media for Recruitment

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To compliment the brand new classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to discuss how social media is used for recruitment, and how employers can benefit.

 

What if I told you that 94% of recruiters have reported using LinkedIn to vet candidates?

Or that the number of employers using social media to screen candidates has increased over 500% in the last decade?

If you’re looking for a new job, you might think I’m trying to give you a piece of conventional wisdom: “Keep your online presence professional.” (And that’s still true!)

But here's something you hear less often: if you’re looking for a new hire, then you already know these social stats spell far greater changes for recruitment and human resources than for jobseekers, unless they too aspire to become recruiters.

The Great Talent Tug of War

Before LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter were used to headhunt the best talent, Human Resources was the primary driver of talent acquisition.

But over the last 10 years, social recruiting on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms has revolutionized the way we hire, so that now what was once a job for the accounting team has become a job for the marketing team.

So how did this great talent tug of war wind up on the marketing end of things? Short answer: the Great Recession.

When huge job losses started occurring around 2008, HR departments became understandably less concerned with filling positions and more concerned with compensation and risk management.

Around the same time, all of our most popular modern social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram) were undergoing a development renaissance, all while performing an admirable job of bucking the Recession’s downward trends and revitalizing the online economy that had crashed at the beginning of the 21st century.

The net result of this decline in hiring and ascent of social media was that social recruiting became many companies’ primary resource for not only scouting talent but acquiring it.

Where we once followed recruitment protocols that relied heavily on HR spending, talent scouts, and physical energy to go forth and fill a company’s talent pipeline, we now inhabit a world where free social recruiting technology has placed a vast and easily accessible talent pool right at our fingertips.

This heightened selectability has altered the job market’s center of gravity in major ways. If you’re an investor, then you might say what was once a seller’s market became a buyer’s market. If you’re in HR, you might say what was once an employee’s job market became an employer’s job market. And if you’re a social recruiter, you might say what was once a hustle for HR to fill an abundance of positions is now headhunting: the practice of sifting through hundreds of perfect-fit candidates to fill a choice few jobs with the best talent possible.

Yet with all of the convenient recruiting this talent acquisition revolution has created, there are perhaps an equal number of complications that arise from vetting people online. Chief among these is the age-old HR question: “How do I know I can I trust this person?

How to Know: Using Facebook for Social Recruiting and Talent Acquisition

Using Facebook for social recruiting requires a very discerning eye, but if used wisely, the world’s largest social network can be an excellent tool for talent acquisition.

One of the first reasons Facebook emerged as a tool for talent acquisition was largely a negative one; in its early years, Facebook was a more personal posting platform where employers could research whether prospective new hires behaved badly outside of work and could result in a PR nightmare for the company.

Rest assured, Facebook can be (and still is) used in this way. But many prospective hires know their Facebook pages will be vetted, so they often take precautionary measures that render the process of using Facebook to root out the bad apples less effective.

But there are still jobs for which Facebook vetting remains a highly recommended recruitment strategy. In fact, some of the web’s best social media managers were picked up from scrolling organically through News Feed and coming across users with carefully curated Facebook posts and great, engaging voices. Others use Facebook to cultivate and monitor an audience of enthusiastic fans, followers and groups that can be used as an excellent resource to mine brand advocates whose skill with word-of-mouth messaging could make them excellent candidates for new marketing jobs.

How to Know: Using LinkedIn for Social Recruiting

At first glance, LinkedIn might seem like the easiest tool to use for social recruiting. After all, it was created to connect job seekers with job offers, right?

In fact it was, but its features have grown in number and complexity since the service’s inception, so that now users have to navigate interfaces such as LinkedIn Premium and LinkedIn Pulse, and constantly think about how to execute a content strategy or promote their brand outside of the seasonal job search.

That makes good leads out of job candidates who regularly update their profiles with new content, experience, and education. But as with print resumes, social recruiters should trust but verify what they read on a job candidate’s LinkedIn profile and cross-check all of the candidate’s online profiles for consistency, credibility, and digital footprint.

All these layers of complexity mean that those who want to engage in social recruiting as a form of talent acquisition should be working hard to revolutionize their marketing strategy on the micro-level every day, especially if their brands, businesses and HR departments want to stay on top of the job market.

 

How are you using social recruiting for talent acquisition? To learn more, check out OMI’s brand new selection of classes. Our expert educators cover social recruiting, human resources, talent acquisition, and many other topics. For ten days, access is completely free.

 


3 Mobile Marketing Strategies Proven to Convert Customers

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To compliment the brand new classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to discuss three mobile marketing strategies that your business can use to build conversion right away.

With over 8 billion mobile connections to the web in 2017, there are now more mobile devices than people on the planet.

Compound that fact with the following statistics:

  • For mobile searches, the first position on Google nets a 31.35% clickthrough rate. 
  • One in every three (34%) of online retail purchases now occur on mobile devices.
  • More Google searches are made from mobile devices than computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan.
  • Mobile is the fastest growing media channel by digital media consumption.

You get the idea—mobile has reached heights of global availability, marketability, and saleability that TV, Radio, and Print media could only dream of.

This is why most online marketers will ask themselves this question between now and 2020: Right now, aside from the lengthy and expensive process of developing new mobile applications, what can my business do with mobile marketing strategies to increase conversions?

Here are three cost-effective ways to do exactly that.

3 Mobile Marketing Strategies to Increase Conversions

1. Optimize Your Site for Mobile Users

This should be an easy check off the list for most people who know that in 2015, Google decreed that mobile optimized sites would get an extra boost in their rankings.

But the main reason to optimize sites for mobile users has changed slightly, from a directive of following Google’s guidelines to an industry imperative to follow mobile wherever it goes, especially when it signals higher conversion rates.

The the most basic reason to go mobile-friendly is to get a seat at the table, or have a shot of ranking anywhere near the top of the Internet’s most popular search engines. But currently the best reason to optimize your site for mobile is that users engage more intimately with mobile interfaces than they do with desktop interfaces.

In other words, people prefer mobile for finding specific pieces of information rather than for general research, which they reserve for desktop/laptop searches.

That means if a user is looking up “best mobile streaming service” on their phone, they will very likely click on the first search result they see, and either convert if they find a definitive answer, or bounce if they can’t.

This is why it’s imperative, when optimizing your site for mobile devices, to place the most informative and interactive components of your interface at the top of your landing page.

Example: If your goal is getting users to sign up for your email list and you already know your audience comes to your site looking for information about mobile streaming services, place an email sign-up at the top of your page with the header: Get Our Definitive Ranking of the 10 Best Mobile Streaming Services.

That way, mobile users who come to you looking for that nugget of information will see it right away. Otherwise, they’ll bounce, and bounce fast.

Unique clicks on ads: 15% higher on mobile-optimized sites.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) among mobile users: 64% higher than conversion rate optimization among desktop users (socPub)

2. Research Audiences and Target Demographics By Operating System

This strategy traces its roots way back to the timeless debate between Mac, PC and the demographic data that distinguishes those sets of users.

That demographic data includes distinctions between more affluent users (who tend to use Mac) and less affluent users (who tend to use PCs), as well as a smaller global sample of users (who tend to use Mac) and a larger global sample of users (who tend to use PCs).

For mobile operating systems, this debate centers around the difference between iOS and Android, the two software systems that respectively run iPhone and Android devices.

For mobile marketers, the distinction between user demographics holds true on mobile platforms, where a smaller but more affluent sample of iOS users tends to convert more often than the larger but less affluent global sample of Android users.

The most likely explanation for higher conversion rates among iOS users has to do with affluence: i.e., that iOS users likely have more expendable income than Android users. This doesn’t mean that Android users don’t buy or sign up for things on mobile platforms, but it does mean that there is a smaller subset of products and services that Android users will buy or sign up for on mobile.

The key takeaway here is that mobile marketers can and should research, target, and segment their audiences according to the demographic data most readily available to them about their users’ mobile devices.

Avg. Conversion Rate for mobile users of iOS: 2.09% (Smart Insights)

Avg. Conversion Rate for mobile users of Android: 1.47% (Smart Insights)

3. Offer Direct and Seamless Checkout

One of the biggest barriers to mobile conversions is any friction that gets in the way of completing a sign-up or purchase, either on-website or in-app.

Such friction usually comes from page redirects that take mobile users outside of your app or website and onto another forum that asks for information, money, and in some cases, new member sign-up. PayPal and some email services have become slightly notorious for doing this by asking users to log in and create new accounts to complete checkout if users are not already members.

Creating such friction often comes at the expense of a sale or sign-up, because it breaks the bond between the user and the service provider, who is expected to create and offer a uniform user experience.

As such, it’s imperative that mobile marketers work tirelessly to make sign-ups and purchases as direct and seamless as possible for mobile users.

There are a currently a number of ways to offer your services as directly and seamlessly as possible, including the use of mobile media for native advertisements that take users directly to your email sign-up, or in-app purchase landing pages.

Avg. Conversion Rate for mobile device that minimizes friction (e.g., tablet): 2.42%

To learn more about how you can implement mobile marketing strategies that will optimize your site for mobile users, join OMI's newest classes on the Mobile Channel, Mobile Consumer Insights, and Mobile Media Ad Formats.

 


What’s AdTech & MarTech, and Why Should Your Business Care?

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To compliment the brand new classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to introduce AdTech and MarTech and explain their ever expanding role in marketing.

 

AdTech & MarTech are two of the biggest buzzwords and most difficult-to-understand practices in the modern marketing industry.

There are two reasons why:

    1. AdTech & MarTech are still developing. Trying to understand them is almost like trying to understand two teenagers based solely on the fact that they play the same sport. In other words, it's too early to know where they will end up with any certainty.
    2. AdTech and MarTech are virtually becoming the online marketing industry. Any time you use a service that provides you with analytics and feedback on how people see and engage with your business online (think: Facebook and Twitter for Business), you’re harnessing the power of AdTech & MarTech networks. Translation: AdTech & MarTech are an ever-growing part of an ever-widening industry.

Despite the fact that they’re moving targets, we can say two things for certain: AdTech & MarTech are converging, and they have been riding waves of venture capital-backed search interest for at least ten years.

But arguably the biggest reason they are so important is not because of top-down investment, but because of bottom-up interest. That is, because businesses are recognizing that AdTech & MarTech​ affect their digital footprint​​, no matter how large or small that footprint is.​

Look no further than the top three search results the next time you google your business or industry—those first three returns will likely come from Google’s Search Network, an adtech service hosted by Google AdWords. If you or your business isn’t in that network, it will appear below those entries.

Complex search algorithms are at work behind adtech systems like Google’s, and these algorithms require some awareness of data management to properly integrate advertising platforms. But ultimately, that integrated advertising platform - or omnichannel - makes online advertising much easier to use and understand.

Definitions for AdTech & MarTech: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Despite the growing size and complexity of the marketing industry they influence, AdTech & MarTech can be broken down into simple definitions that parallel and complement each other.

AdTech (noun; adj)

  1. Short for "advertising technology."
  2. The industry name for any tool or application for researching audiences and delivering targeted advertisements to them.
  3. A group of platforms and software for hosting the automated exchange process of buying and selling advertisements through a machine-based ad network or marketplace (e.g., Adobe Advertising Cloud).
  4. Used in a sentence: "Were you able to attend that conference on AdTech in NYC? Reps from Fortune 500 companies sponsored a great exhibit on this adtech and artificial intelligence platform that helps you advertise on social media."
  5. See: "Facebook Ads," "Google Ads," and "MarTech" 

MarTech (noun; adj)

  1. Short for "marketing technology."
  2. An industry term that encompasses a vast body of tools, platforms, processes, and applications that we use to market online products and services (e.g., Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Marketing Analytics, and Marketing Management).
  3. Platforms and software for managing marketing data and automating marketing processes (e.g., Oracle Marketing Cloud).
  4. Used in a sentence: "Did you see the martech issue of Ad Age? They did a cover story on how the number of companies in MarTech has grown exponentially since 2011."
  5. See: "Facebook for Business," "Twitter for Business," and "YUGE DEAL."

Advertising is just one form of marketing, and AdTech is just one form of MarTech. As such, it's best to think of AdTech & MarTech as two sides of the same coin: AdTech is the front (what most people recognize a coin by), and MarTech is the tail that most people touch and see everyday without noticing.

So What (Do AdTech & MarTech Mean for My Business?)

Data and Targeting

Because AdTech and MarTech are driven by data collection, data analysis, data presentation, and data management, they have a much more nuanced research methodology for delivering ads than traditional methods of marketing and advertising.

Traditional methods tend to operate on the principle of "shoot-first-ask-questions-later" (e.g., billboard ads, radio ads, television commercials, and online banner ads). Traditional methods do involve at least a small amount of research, such as finding the best locations to air an ad for a targeted demographic. However, they also reach a substantial number of people who are not the intended audience for their particular product or service. This overreach can result in annoyance (or worse, distrust) for brands that are particularly repetitive or intrusive. Just think about the last time an infomercial for cleaning products interrupted your regularly scheduled programming when you weren’t in the mood.  

AdTech & MarTech make it possible to target your intended audience without as much overreach, so that video or banner advertisements will reach an intended audience that is not only more likely to be interested, but also most likely to convert.

Ad networks like those owned by Facebook and Google are particularly good at this, since they can deliver "native ads" in user feeds to appear more like solicited information than annoying or intrusive advertisements.

How are you using AdTech & MarTech?

Whether you know it or not, you probably already are. If you want to learn more about controlling the size of your digital footprint in marketing and advertising technology, view our new classes on search engines, data management, and integrated advertising platforms, free for ten days!

 


Why Email is the Ultimate Marketing Omnichannel

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss email as the first step in an omnichannel strategy that can skyrocket your traditional or online business.

 

Despite the hype surrounding social media, email is still the most popular and effective marketing tool for gaining and retaining customers.

Why?

Longevity. Of all internet marketing tools, email has been around the longest, which means it had a head start in the race for global users. As a result, those users - and all potential users - have had a long time to get comfortable with the service email provides, and think of that service as a part of everyday life, like telephone, TV, and billboards on the side of the road.

Another reason is success. Email is the top channel driving both leads and conversions, especially when it comes to doing business with other businesses, as well as doing business with consumers who want to do business. In other words, there’s a good reason 80% of businesses use email for retention. It works.

In other words, email is the most trusted, time-tested resource for converting leads into customers.

The Biggest Reason

Those reasons alone make email an essential tool for acquiring and retaining customers.

But while success and longevity are good answers to why email is essential for acquiring and retaining customers, they are not the be-all-end-all, nor the most pressing and relevant answers to why email marketing is so essential today.

In fact, arguably the biggest, most relevant and underrated reason that email marketing is essential to the customer lifecycle is that - at a time when brick-and-mortar stores are shrinking - email is the ultimate marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Here’s why.

Omnichannel Marketing

Social media is an excellent channel for increasing brand awareness in marketing and sales, but when it comes to conversions, social media platforms do not lend themselves to customers making buyer decisions.

Email does. If a user is willing to give you their email address, you have already sold them on your journey. And they are certainly willing to listen to your offer, if not entirely willing to buy your product, wherever it may be.

When a customer gives you their email address, they are giving you permission to enter their private online universe. They are also expressing a certain degree of brand loyalty and customer trust that is greater than a like on social media, and greater than or equal to an in-store purchase.

But all this is to say: acquiring a customer’s email by their own permission falls along the same spectrum of customer loyalty as online and in-store shopping. Many customers are willing to give their email addresses during purchase, especially if it means access to promotions and discounts—which is what makes email uniquely suited to being the most suitable marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.

So, instead of worrying about online sales cannibalizing brick-and-mortar sales or vice versa, businesses should see email as a unifying marketing channel, or what’s known as an “omnichannel." In this case, omnichannel marketing is the practice of using online messaging to lead customers to brick-and-mortar stores, and brick-and-mortar messaging to lead customers to online stores, all of which works to keep the customer lifecycle of acquisition and retention alive.    

Something to Consider

It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retail stores are closing at a rate that could see 1 in every 4 U.S. malls shuttered by 2022. In 2016, the biggest retailer in the world, Walmart, closed 269 brick-and-mortar stores and bought Jet.com in an apparent bid to expand its online sales.

Meanwhile, Amazon.com continues to grow its already burgeoning online sales, and just last month expanded to the point of bursting its own digital bubble by purchasing Whole Foods and entering the brick-and-mortar business, wholesale.

Barring discussions of what all that says about the epic power struggle between Walmart and Amazon—which is impossible to say this early in the game—the expansion of each retailer into the other’s “domain” spells out what we’re seeing in the retail industry as a whole: a contraction for brick-and-mortar, an expansion for eCommerce.

What most businesses would rather see is a balance, which is why the first businesses to adopt an acquisition and retention model that can successfully unify online with brick-and-mortar could be the start of something new.

Why not start with email and add the ultimate marketing omnichannel to your business cycle?

Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want more in-depth knowledge about integrating email into your marketing strategy, check out our updated class library with brand new email marketing courses.

 

 


Email Marketing: Simple Ways to Get High Open Rates

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss simple ways to get high open rates in your first email marketing campaign.

 

Most businesses know that they should be using email marketing to gain and retain customers.

But not all businesses know how.  

Even for those who do know how, many still don’t know how to net a higher open rate than 25%, or 1 in every 4 customers, where the other 3 simply delete.

So how do you set up your first email marketing campaign for high open rates?

  1. Be Deliverable: your emails should be delivered to recipients without setting off spam filters.
  2. Be Teachable: should be able to listen and learn from your customers.

Easier said than done? Not necessarily!

If you can follow the outline below during your first campaign, chances are high that your messages will be delivered and received without issue. That’s because you’ll have followed certain steps that ensure you’re listening to and learning from your customers—and not just to avoid their spam filters, but to deliver what they want most.

So start being teachable in order to be deliverable, and follow along to learn how you can set up your first email marketing campaign for high open rates.

Set a Target Audience

Do research, and find out who is most likely to be interested in your offer. If you’re providing an update to your service, find out who would appreciate it most and why. If you’re offering a new product, find out who is most likely to buy it and why. Avoid choosing a demographic that is too broad, such as “Millennials.” Instead, refine your search to center around the segment of your target audience that your message is most likely to hit, such as “millennials aged 25-40 who like us on Facebook.” If you can hit that target right on the bullseye, its impact will be felt throughout the market, likely reaching other people who may also become customers.

Prospect for Leads

Look for online spaces and brick-and-mortar places where your target audience is most likely to be found. Drive traffic from those spaces and places to your site via Twitter, Facebook posts, guest posts on blogs, and word-of-mouth advertising. Avoid scraping other sites for email addresses, unless you’re 100% certain they would be interested in what you have to offer, or your service directly relates to theirs (e.g., you know each other from an exposition). It’s very important you do everything you can to follow our next piece of advice.

Gain Permission

Prompt Facebook fans, site visitors, and especially regular customers to sign up for your email list. Promising a benefit such as free content, a discount, or a free trial goes a long way towards procuring this permission. It is always a bad idea to buy email lists. This is not only because it skips the permission phase of listening to your customer, but also because using it puts you in danger of violating laws that safeguard internet privacy and protect against spam.

Set Open Rate Goals

The benchmark open rate is 25%, but you can set your goal higher or lower, depending on the parameters of your campaign. If your target audience is relatively small, niche, or consists of regular customers, then you might set your open rate goal higher than the benchmark. Meeting that goal shows how well you know your customer. But if the target audience is a relatively large or a new market, you may want to set your open rate goal lower than or equal to the benchmark to be safe. Remember: in order to properly manage expectations, you should never over-promise and under-deliver. Instead, try to under-promise and over-deliver on open rate goals.

Write, Style, and Send

Writing, styling, and sending your email is the time to show your customer how well you’ve listened and learned from them. It is the most important step of the outline because it tests how well you’ve done your homework, as well as how deliverable and teachable you are. By this point, your written email copy should address the needs of your target audience and reflect a solution to all leads who have given you their email. If you write, style, and send an email but skip audience targeting, prospecting, or gaining permission, your open rates will reflect it.

Study Results, Rinse, and Repeat

Give your message at least 24 hours to be sorted by your recipients, and then check results through analytics provided by an email service provider. This is where you get to hear the verdict on whether you’re succeeding at being both teachable and deliverable. Deliverability is easy to measure. If you’re deliverable, then your bounce rates and spam flags will be low. Teachability is more difficult to measure.

If you’re teachable—that is, if you’re both listening to and learning from your customer, especially regarding their preferences—then not only will your open rates be higher than the benchmark, but your customers’ engagement levels and click through rates will be off the charts.

If that’s the case, then you’re doing something right, and all you need to do is rinse and repeat the process.

If not, then you need to learn more about how to set up email marketing campaigns for high open rates.

Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want more in-depth knowledge about how to set up your first email marketing campaign for high open rates, check out our updated class library with brand new email marketing courses.

 

 


6 Email Marketing Trends You Can’t Miss in 2017

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss the biggest email marketing trends in 2017.

 

We’ve come a long way since “You’ve got mail.”

So far, in fact, that the reason people open emails has completely changed over time.

From its inception in 1971 through the 1990s, email was seen exclusively as an extension to the written memo or business letter. That’s why it was called “electronic mail” or “e-mail” for short: it was an electronic alternative to paper based communication.

email marketing trends

In 2017, email is the dominant platform used by working professionals to communicate with businessesIt comes as a surprise to many that even more than social media, email is still the most popular, private channel for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) messages.

Looking at recent and historical trends, total emails sent and total email senders are projected to grow 3% annually through 2019, as email’s sphere of influence continues to expand. This means the audience marketers can reach via email will continue to broaden. And because that audience prefers email to communicate with brands they trust, email’s potential as a marketing channel will only continue to grow.

But there are hurdles to such growth, and marketers have to be prepared:

1. Shorter Attention Spans

email marketing trends 2

A study recently confirmed what we all suspected: most online readers have shorter attention spans than a goldfish. While experts argue about the exact length of that attention span or whether its growing, consensus says that the average online reader has an attention span that does not surpass 9 seconds.

What does this have to do with email marketing? Well suffice to say, it doesn't bode well for your 2,000-word newsletter with no images. If you can't engage your recipients quickly and hold their attention, you're on a one-way-trip to delete-ville.

2. Sensitive Spam Filters

email marketing trends 3

Automatic spam filters are getting much more aggressive to corporate messaging. This trend represents increased interest in cybersecurity that may only climb as government officials and email oversight personnel pay more and more attention to webmail.

Sadly, there's not much you can do about this. But here's a hint: most spam filters are trained on human perceptions. If your email doesn't look like spam to a person, there's a better chance it won't get deleted.

3. Increasingly Complicated Styles

email marketing trends 4

The ever-increasing complexity of web design doesn't end with webpages. Email has moved away from text-only messages that look like newsletters. As a result, it is more difficult to make emails stand out and easier to let them stagnate.

To combat this stagnation, remain on customers’ radars, and hold their attention: businesses should watch all of these trends and learn how to make their emails appeal to customers’ sense of exclusivity, novelty, and personalization.

4. Exclusivity

One of the best ways to maintain a relationship with your subscribers is giving them access to exclusive content. This approach can work with offers of access to a video, a webinar, a study, a free trial, or any other content produced by your brand.

When sending out email offers, condense the most interesting information you have to offer in the email subject line. Make it read like a news headline, but don’t give too much away.

The goal is to give subscribers something not all of your readers can access. Conceal and reveal is how you should approach both your emails and calls-to-action (CTAs); retention and acquisition should be your guiding principles. If your subscribers freely share the information you’ve freely given them, this approach can increase customer acquisition. Keep tabs on open and click-through rates and other metrics to analyze how well your appeals to exclusivity work.

6. Personalization

The best way to remain on a customer’s radar is personalized email. What is personalized email? Let's break it down:

A personalized email knows:

  • What a customer likes
  • And what else they might like based on those preferences
  • And how to deliver it to them via recommendation engine and webmail...
  • ...at the time a customer is most likely to be at their device

While this might seem like a scary level of detail, machine learning makes this level of personalization possible on a large scale. Email template providers like MailChimp can provide detailed insights about reader preferences to businesses.

But when it comes to adding a personal touch, there is no substitute to corresponding one-on-one with actual customers. That’s why it’s a good idea to personalize emails with your own words as much as possible. Including your business’ address, telephone number, your personal signature, and a way to opt out of email from your business goes a long way towards accomplishing this goal. Doing all of this ensures that you’re complying with the CAN SPAM Act of 2003, and makes you appear reachable and human.

Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want to know more about email marketing trends to watch in 2017, check out the new email marketing course in our updated class library for free!