Analytics

Twenty Measurement Insights from a Career in Marketing: Part 3

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career in marketing

Editor’s Note: Kent Lewis is the president of digital marketing agency Anvil Media Inc. Today he joins us to continue a series of measurement related insights he has learned over a long career in marketing, to help those who are on a journey in analytics/data related fields.

 

I never was much for math in school, so it’s ironic that numbers are central to my career. In the past few weeks, I’ve posted the first two parts of a four-part series:

Twenty Measurement Insights from a Career in Marketing: Part 1 of 4

Twenty Measurement Insights from a Career in Marketing: Part 2 of 4

In the first two installments, I shared 10 lessons in measurement from a career in marketing and analytics. This is the next installment of the series. Please enjoy.

Further Insights From a Career in Marketing

Relational data creates context

Dealing with data all day makes Johnny a Dull Boy. Even today, I struggle to gain insights from spreadsheets. To me, they look like the cascading numbers in The Matrix. Thus, I learned two tricks early in my career:

  1. Visualize the data and
  2. Create context via relationships

While I covered data visualization in part 1, I want to touch on relational data. In the world of marketing, improvements are everything. Optimizing traffic volume, conversion rates or qualified lead value is essential. I’ve found that ratios provide more meaning over time than other KPIs, especially for trending purposes. As seen in the above image, social media link growth increased 100 percent. At the same time, comments-per-like decreased 25 percent, as it doesn’t maintain a similar growth trajectory. Make sure your metrics have some sort of anchor: ratios do this exceedingly well.

Competitive data provides motivation

While sales has been a key responsibility for most of my career, I’ve discovered three ways to get things done, especially deals. One strategy is to use secondary research and social proof as appeals to logic and safety. Another strategy is to use primary research and customer insights for a personalized and often more compelling approach. The most effective technique I’ve used - particularly with senior management - is an appeal to the ego by means of competitive benchmarking.

Everyone wants to be a winner. And when your company or clients are in second place, there is motivation to invest in marketing to gain leadership. Three free tools you can use to benchmark competitors online (at least with relative data vs. absolute) include Alexa Internet, MOZ Open Site Explorer and Google Site Speed tools.

As you can see above, Alexa provides bounce rates, daily pageviews and time-on-site metrics across most websites.

The Google site speed tool above outlines responsive design and mobile/desktop speeds, which all correlate to conversion rates, user experience and thus rankings in search results.

The image above is of the MOZ Open Explorer, which includes data on domain authority. A site is more likely to rank for desirable terms in search engines when they have a higher domain authority, as it correlates with trust. No boss wants to lose the online marketing battle, so tell them how they stack up, then give them a roadmap to reach first place.

Facts tell, stories sell

As a huge fan of Mad Men, I get the tingles every time I watch Don Draper's Kodak Carousel ad pitch. The power of the 3-minute pitch is the reality that it’s light on facts, and heavy on storyline. The Kodak Cassette is a time machine or a carousel, which has nothing to do with resolution or technology, but everything to do with family memories. I learned this the hard way working with technology companies that sold chips, printers and software: messaging was always around humdrum tech specs rather than benefits.

Data should create actionable insights

For over twenty years my team and I have put together monthly activity reports for clients. I’ve also had the opportunity to see many reports from internal corporate teams and competitors over that same period. One of the most common shortcomings I see with analytics reports is a lack of value (insights and actions).

Too many reports are demonstrations of copy-paste efficiency, indiscriminately pulling charts from Google Analytics, AdWords and social media platforms. Even third party dashboards that streamline the process create bad habits for marketers, as they make report generation too easy. Value lies in analyzing the data, identifying issues and opportunities and developing specific, actionable recommendations. At Anvil, we’ve streamlined our reports, focusing on visualization of the data, a high-level summary of activities and performance,specific actions, owners and timelines. If your reports are falling short, it’s time to revisit.

Inspect, do not expect

Although I’ve been a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization for a decade, I’m sometimes slow to learn lessons in business. One business measurement lesson I learned the hard way was how to effectively measure my team’s performance. Early in my career as a manager, conventional wisdom (that many still swear by today) was to hire smart people and get out of the way. I got the first part right (hiring smart people), but I did not follow through to ensure they knew how to do their job and had the support they needed to be successful. Most importantly, I managed by instinct and perception, which became deadly.

Years later, my EO mentor advised me: “Inspect, do not Expect.” I immediately instituted a weekly status update, including goals for the coming week and an update on goals from the previous week. It has helped me to appreciate what my executive team can accomplish, where they need support and how often they get side-tracked by unanticipated emergencies. My only expectation nowadays is that my team will update me on a weekly basis. Inspect the rest. Related article: 3 Game-Changing Leadership Lessons.

Don't let good numbers create complacency

One of the surprising measurement lessons I’ve learned is this: success can breed complacency, and complacency creates major problems. We’ve all heard the old sayings about success going to your head. But I’m talking about a slightly different danger: if your car gets you to work reliably every day, it’s difficult to see why you’d open the hood to look for any issues, especially when you don’t see, hear or feel anything wrong. That was the challenge I faced at Anvil. We experienced five consecutive years of rapid growth. Essentially, the car we’d built kept going faster and it sounded great (at least to me). The problem was that under the hood, there was a good deal of duct tape and a few stray hamsters. By the time I figured it out, it was too late and had to completely rebuild the car while we were still on the road. I believe Johnny Cash wrote a song about this problem. Related article: 20 Lessons in 20 Years as a Marketer & Entrepreneur.

There is always a role for humans in analytics

I was interviewed by DMN about the role of humans in the world of analytics. I prepared for the interview by reading a few articles on the subject. That preparation turned into the following article: Underestimating The Human Element of Big Data Analytics. In brief, artificial intelligence combined with big data provides amazing new opportunities for all types of disciplines, including marketing. The good news is that humans still play an essential role in the machine-driven process, including knowing what questions to ask, how to structure the analysis, interpret and act on insights.

Map data analytics to your dream job

When I graduated college in the 90s, my uncle told me to stay close to the money (more on that in part 1). It took me a few years to realize that my role in measuring buying activity through analytics put me on top of the money. That insight has led others to join a booming industry which includes newer disciplines like sales and marketing automation. It also includes maturing roles like data scientist and data analyst. I recently penned an article on the roadmap to building a dream job in the field of analytics: Six steps to a fulfilling and financially-rewarding career. This article will help you understand if your unique abilities and talents are in the ballpark of analytics, and from there, you can network and identify job opportunities.

Build your own career plan dashboard

For those of you that already have a job or a general direction for your career, it may help to validate your level of happiness. I have an article for that: Take this quiz to find out if you have your Dream Job. This article provides evaluation criteria for what a great job looks and feels like, and it can help to objectively assess your situation. If you score well, congratulations! If you score lower, it’s time to rethink your job or career. Start by painting a picture of your ideal job: how it looks, how it sounds and even smells. Then map that ideal to potential employers, and network your way into that company or start your own. Reverse-engineer your career end-point back to the present by setting goals, associated timelines, actions, and execute them.

Start your journey today

The most difficult step in making a career move - especially when it comes to data measurement - is the first step. I’ve written another article that provides specifics steps for building a career in any field, but especially digital marketing.

12 Career Tips for Growth-Minded Individuals

It all starts by networking, researching, studying, applying and improving. The first step may seem like the most difficult, but it doesn’t have to be: I hope you find these twenty lessons in measurement and analytics helpful to your journey.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Storytelling in the Digital Age

Web Analytics Fundamentals for a Data-Driven World

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

 

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


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!

 

 


Build a Social Media Presence From Scratch

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Editor's Note: Jo Robinson is a content writer for Media Shark. Today she joins us to explain the importance of a social media strategy for business, and how your company can build a presence from scratch.

 

As a business owner, your social media presence is non-negotiable.

On a personal level, you might find Facebook futile or Instagram infuriating. But professionally, if you want your business - and especially your online business - to succeed, an active presence on those platforms is crucial.

#That's a bit dramatic @writer', I see you tweet.

But it's not.

Your potential customers are active on social media and it's essential to keep yourself at the forefront of their minds; to increase sales, you meet your prospects where they are at.

Establishing a social media presence will also help you build relationships with your existing clients, strengthen their loyalty, increase your web traffic, and offer a point of difference to your competition.

Assuming, that is, you do it right.

Your attendance on social media is compulsory, but if you've been delaying the inevitable, do not be afraid: it's never too late. Now is the time for your brand to get socially active. Here are seven steps for building your social media presence from scratch, and gaining a meaningful following that will help you build your business.

1. Pick the platform(s) that work best for you and your brand

There are many social platforms to choose from these days: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Tumblr are just some of the mediums in a growing list of viable social networking sites.

The good news is, you don't need to be on all of them! In fact, spreading your resources too thin is counterproductive: there's nothing worse than Googling a business and finding an old, abandoned Twitter account sitting among half-baked hashtags and a default profile picture.

In the beginning, choose one or two platforms, and start there. Do some research, and pick the ones where your target audience is present. The quality of your content reflects on your company, so don't create profiles for the sake of it. Put your energy into growing and maintaining relevant platforms to avoid seeming like someone who isn't committed to their business.

2. Craft your profiles

You showed up, and made an account. Good job, but you're not done yet: your social media profiles should never be an after-thought. They're extremely powerful opportunities to strengthen your brand and communicate who you are, so it's essential that you give your profiles the #TLC they deserve.

Good Branding

Choose a profile and cover image that's consistent with your brand. Depending on the nature of your business, either a logo or a professional image of the business-owner works well. Low-quality images are a no-no, so make sure to use high-resolution images if you have them, or produce them if you don't.

Add your logo to all images throughout your social media and when you add any copy, consistently use the same font in line with your style guide.  

nutella social media

Nutella's brand imagery is front and center

Your biographies should be completed using your short and long business description, and all contact information should be filled out.

Make sure you add a ‘contact now' button to Facebook and Instagram so people can call you as an easy next step to their browsing.

Social media counts towards your SEO search ranking, so this is another golden opportunity to get keywords next to your business name on search engines. 

With informative and engaging profiles, social browsers who visit your page(s) will know that you mean business and you've got something worth their time, so never slack on this bit.

3. Share with your audience

On the Internet, it's easy to buy fake followers. Don't do this. Not only is it inauthentic, it's also completely unnecessary: if you produce engaging content that your market enjoys, your followers will grow organically and you'll also get engagement too.

Content is the currency of social media, so if you haven't begun a content strategy yet, now is the time to start. Here are some suggestions:

  • Attach a blog to your website, and write helpful articles related to your niche - you can hire writers to help you with this job, or invite guest posts from influencers
  • Commission white papers that reflect the state of your industry
  • On heavily visual networks like Pinterest, infographics are a proven strategy

Whatever you do, give to your audience, and they will have a good reason to stick around.

Nutella_Facebook_Posts.png

Nutella shares content featuring their own product to encourage interaction

Before your page grows, you need a small initial following. Start by:

  • Sharing your page with people you know, or people in your company
  • Share it with existing customers by email
  • If you're on Facebook, join relevant Facebook groups, and share page content there
  • On sites with tags (like Twitter and Instagram), adding useful tags will help you get discovered

Once you've made a start, your followers will grow organically and you'll know that people are there because they will be genuinely interested in you and your content.

4. Post consistently

We've all seen it. A nice, attractive page, a few posts bubbling with excitement about a new business, and then...

...nothing. nothing but a screen-based version of an awkward silence. Think tumbleweeds and crickets floating across your screen as people wonder where the rest of your content is. The last post was 40 weeks ago and your customers - protip: the people with money to give you - have no idea if you're even still in business.

Until you've built up a loyal following, you need to post regularly and consistently. This might be once a week, or it might be once or more per day. How often you post depends on the nature of your business and your market, but the key is consistency.

Unless you have a dedicated social media manager, uploading content on the fly will never work. You're a busy person and social media will always get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Spend some time scheduling content to make sure your reach is constant, and your followers know what they can expect from you.

5. Offer incentives for sharing your posts

All humans have a ‘what's in it for me' attitude, so once your immediate friends and family have liked and shared your page, it's helpful to devise incentive-based offers to create a traffic boon.

Offer goods to your audience and potential audience such as discount vouchers, a free product, or entry into a competition for sharing a post which will extend your reach.

Always check with your platform owner as restrictions can apply to competitions, and you need to make sure your posts always sit within their guidelines.

6. Respond to engagement

Your pages should be a welcoming environment where people can hang out, express their opinions, and feel included, so always acknowledge people who respond to your content.

Tag people in comments, and like/reply to reviews and posts on your page; yes, even the negative ones!

This is your opportunity to create strong relationships with your market and put yourself at the forefront of their minds. As your followers witness this engagement, they're more likely to pop over and follow you too, further building your audience.

7. Use analytics

Finally, most platforms now provide free analytics which you should take advantage ofPosting the wrong content at the wrong time for the wrong audience will bring you to a roadblock in terms of growth. Useful metrics to pay attention to include

  • Number of reactions/shares/comments on a post
  • Days of the week, and times of day that your users are most active
  • How many clicks a link received
  • Demographics of your audience: age, sex, location, interests

Using this information, you can build a better social media strategy while simultaneously boosting your marketing efforts. Pay attention to people, and they will pay attention to you.

Conclusion

Building a social media presence can be a slow process, but it has a snowball effect. Stay in it for the long haul! With consistency and effort, an active social media presence is well worth the benefits it will bring your business, so use the outline above to devise a strategy you can commit to.

Bio: Jo Robinson is a content writer at Media Shark, where she can be contacted. With an exciting background that includes police forensics and professional fundraising, Jo's a whiz with words and appeals to a wide range of audiences.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Social Media Brand: Expressing Brand through Social Media

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Leveraging Analytics

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 

 


Build an Informative Customer Profile in Minutes

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Editor's Note: Bruno Delahaye is the CEO of Reach Analytics, where a version of this article first appeared. Today he joins us to review popular strategies for building a customer profile, and a new approach made possible by cloud technology.

 

Having a strong understanding of who your customers are (customer profiling) is a central element in any marketing effort. Marketers may choose to focus on strategic activities like company positioning, and defining target markets. They may also look at more tactical approaches like marketing campaign design and execution; however in all of these cases, the first thing any marketer needs to understand is who their customers are and what they are like.

To obtain a customer profile which provides them with this information, marketers have three traditional options:

  1. Create a segmentation of their existing customer base using internal data
  2. Conduct a market research survey
  3. Append 3rd party data to their customer file as a base for profiling

In what follows, we will briefly survey these strategies and spell out an effective approach to customer profiling.

Segmentation

Segmentation allows companies to sift through company clients and sort them into categories. These categories allow for strategic marketing decisions when it comes to new products and services. Of the traditional choices, segmentation has been the fastest and least expensive customer profiling option until recent times.  Large companies generally have had the resources to run analysis internally, relying on their data infrastructure and the availability of a data science team. This team would typically take between 1 and 6 weeks to report their findings.

The main drawback of this customer profiling method is that the entire analysis is centered on your existing customer base. Although it may seem intuitive that customer profiling should center on your customers, this strategy utterly neglects context: the only way to build a comprehensive understanding of who your customers are is to compare them with non-customers. In other words, you should be asking what differentiates your customers from the general population, and what makes their profile special. For this very reason, market research surveys and use of 3rd party data for customer profiling have become more widely adopted strategies.

Market research

Market research analysis is the most expensive and time consuming technique to build a customer profile. A key advantage is that it focuses on a comprehensive review of customer expectations and personalities outside of your company, allowing you to develop strategies that work broadly and effectively.

...or at least, that's the theory. While hotly debated, market research analysis remains a qualitative technique. Rather than using hard data on customer behavior, it is based on surveys which report customer opinions. While there is probably some value in this, actions tend to speak louder than words, and even moderately skewed survey questions can skew the answers received.

Using third party data

The third approach tends to address the major drawbacks of both segmentation and market research surveys. 3rd party data allows your company to synthesize analysis of both customers and non-customers to build a thorough and balanced customer profile. Yet, an obvious drawback of this approach is that it can be a relatively long process and therefore limits applicability:

  1. Small and medium sized companies cannot manage such processes if they do not have the necessary internal resources, and outsourcing might be cost prohibitive.
  2. Companies typically have more than one product/service on offer, and would like to generate more than a single customer profile analysis.

The Cloud Approach

And now there’s good news that will help marketers to resolve downsides of all the traditional approaches. By leveraging a predictive marketing cloud, we are able to quickly generate a complete customer profile with the following characteristics:

  1. A basic profile for marketers to gain an initial high level understanding of their customers’ demographics: age, marital status, income, and education level.
  2. An advanced version of the same profile which enables marketers to identify characteristics that set their customers apart from the rest of the population.

By removing the largest hurdles in the development of customer profiles using 3rd party data (time & data science expertise), small and medium-sized business as well as large companies are in a position to access a more analytic approach and leverage their customer profile to make more informed marketing decisions.

Learn more with the following classes:

Demand Generation: Defining Your Target Market

How to Perform Segmentation Using Google Analytics

Metrics-Driven Demand Gen in a Multichannel World

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Infographic: How Video Marketing Works

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video marketing

Editor's Note: Megan Arevalo is community director at Websitebuilder, and joins us today to share an original infographic that covers video marketing from A to Z.

 

As online marketing becomes more and more visual over time, video marketing has emerged as a favorite choice for businesses to share a message, promote a product, and entertain customers all at once. The effort has not gone to waste - our research shows that:

  • E-commerce stores which use video content have an 80% higher conversion rate than those which do not
  • 73% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when shown informational video content
  • A 1% budget increase on active video marketing is worth a monthly average of $13,000 for a company

Case studies prove that intelligent video content is a highly effective way to raise consumer interest, leading to higher profits. For instance: Home Depot's online outlet blinds.com experienced a 68% increase in orders and a 92% raise in overall profit after launching a video marketing strategy.

Sharing Video Content

As far as video platforms go, the Internet has come a long way. YouTube retains the top spot; advertising features on the site are versatile, and easily targeted to a segment of millions of users with detailed demographics information collected from Google activities.

However, while YouTube is still a starting point for many marketers, Facebook is gaining ground quickly, and a robust marketing strategy integrates both. Our research shows that:

  • By 2018, 90% of content shared by Facebook users will be video
  • At present, 59% of video shares occur on Facebook
  • 90% of online marketers use both Facebook and YouTube for video marketing

All of this data has a general thrust: video marketing is a strategy that is growing more potent with time, as Internet content becomes increasingly video-based, and case studies show that it is effective for businesses ranging wildly in size, market, and product type.

Infographic

We have collected all of this information and more in the infographic below to help you make informed decisions for an effective video marketing strategy. Feel free to save, and share with experts and novices alike!

video marketing infographic

 

Learn more with Video Marketing & YouTube 101

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 

 


How to Improve Customer Acquisition Using Artificial Intelligence

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Editor's Note: Nick Rojas is a freelance journalist who has written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. Today he joins us to discuss how AI is changing the way that businesses acquire customers, and how to use it.

 

Every company needs new customers to grow, and anyone running a business knows that it takes time and planning to attract them. However, thanks to the growth of artificial intelligence, customer acquisition is getting a little bit easier.

AI is advancing and isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon: between this year and 2022, the AI market is expected to grow 62 percent, by a value of $16.06 billion. Marketers and businesses are wisely taking notice and implementing AI into their customer acquisition strategies.

With the right methods in place, AI can revolutionize your acquisition funnel, saving you time and money in the process. Let’s take a look at how this can be done.

Chatbots

Chatbots are a hot trend in tech marketing circles. You’ve probably interacted with them numerous times, even if you didn’t realize it.

Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa are all chatbots. You may find this confusing, since chatbots are usually thought of in very narrow terms. In reality, any AI which interacts with customers using natural human speech can be thought of as a ‘chatbot’.

So why are they such a big deal for customer acquisition? It’s simple: chatbots simplify the user experience and enhance customer support.

Simplified Experience

Consumers are more likely to buy your products if you remove barriers to entry. To remove those barriers, you need to facilitate an environment where moving from acquisition to decision is painless.

This is exactly what chatbots accomplish. Take for instance bots that live on Facebook Messenger, allowing customers to ask questions and buy products on-the-fly. If consumers become interested in your business through a social media page, they can do research and make a decision without ever leaving the application.

In this case, the chatbot enables your customers to act on a whim, moving them seamlessly from curiosity to a product purchase. In the long-run, ease of use and access streamlines your funnel, leading to more sales and consumer interest.

Customer Support

Chatbot customer support helps retain customers that you’ve already done business with, and thereby improves your brand reputation, which can attract new customers in turn.

AI allows companies to offer versatile 24/7 support to their customers. If a problem arises while your staff is away, your chatbot is always ready.

Advances in Artificial Intelligence enable chat bots to gather information about a problem, offer solutions, and also transfer the problem to a human when it’s too complex. Simple issues can be resolved on-the-spot without intervention, leaving the most important problems for your personnel to handle, with all the pertinent information collected and ready for review.

No matter how a problem is resolved, customer support chatbots enhance the customer experience while saving time and money.

Predict Consumer Behavior

Attracting new customers means understanding consumer wants and needs. AI helps this process by predicting consumer behavior on the basis of existing information.

Artificial intelligence is routinely used by companies like Salesforce to mine and process large data sets of customer information such as preferences, shopping habits, and comments left on your social media pages. Using a process called semantic analysis, AI can understand human context and intelligently guess how a person feels about a product or service based on their interactions with your company.

You can then use this information to tailor marketing strategies that target new customers. Essentially, the AI gives you a list of your product’s greatest strengths and weaknesses relative to your audience.

Is your product getting lots of views on social media? Then you should capitalize on social media.

Is your idea unique to a specific market? Then hit that niche with your advertising.

Chatbots and predictive behavior analysis streamline your customer acquisition process while also saving you time and money. As Artificial Intelligence continues to revolutionize online customer acquisition, the best time to get started is now!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Increase Lead Generation Quality, Conversion & Velocity

Mastering the Facebook Sales Funnel

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Removing Rivalries: How to Work With Traditional Advertisers

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Editor's Note: Tom Alexander is a digital marketing veteran, who joins us today to discuss how digital marketers can join forces with traditional advertisers to create better marketing campaigns.

 

The alleged animosity between traditional advertisers and digital marketers has become almost legendary. We hear blow-by-blow reports of what appears to be intense opposition, each side fiercely clinging to their fundamental elements in death grips. It’s wonderfully heady stuff, but the ongoing nature of this battle may be more fiction than fact. As marketing becomes more integrated, the challenges that once separated these would-be rivals are bringing them closer together.

To understand the present relationship between traditional advertisers and digital marketers, we need to revisit the past.

Before the current advertising ecosystem, traditional advertising was a mainstay, from billboards, TV spots, magazine and newspaper spreads, to radio advertisements. However, with the advent of the Internet, digital marketing has taken away the spotlight with email marketing, social media, blogs, web banners, and paid targeted advertising. Some digital evangelicals went so far as to eulogize traditional marketing in the 1990s.

As we see today, these were premature pronouncements. Traditional advertising is still alive and well, and when used in conjunction with digital marketing, the results can be beautiful.

Changing to a Collaborative Mindset

Digital marketers and traditional advertisers aren’t fundamentally different. After all, they have the same goal: help companies achieve their objectives. Working hand in hand, they have the ability to enhance traditional methods of advertising by integrating digital marketing strategies. This is a natural evolution that ought to be considered an advancement, not something burdensome or invasive.

Consider digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising which targets consumers who spend a lot of time away from their homes. Out-of-home advertising providers that moved toward digitization have been able to drive increased revenue streams thanks to their foresight. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, DOOH is expected to almost double its 2014 revenue figures by 2019. DOOH started in the realm of traditional media, then evolved into digital forms. Ultimately, it offers a mutually beneficial relationship for all its players, without negating at-home advertising on traditional platforms.

What does this mean for advertisers and marketers? The responsibility lies with them to create positive change by working together when possible.

Ways to Develop Digital-Traditional Bonds

Embracing any new habit takes patience and planning. The best practice for creating a partnership between digital marketing and traditional advertising is to spot key opportunities for the benefit of clientele, and follow those opportunities down various rabbit holes.

The following seven ways to foster digital-traditional ties are excellent starting points:

1. Explore successful traditional-digital campaigns.

Research begets epiphanies. Find and analyze examples of successful traditional-digital campaigns.

Want a clue? Start with “Share a Coke,” the 2016 phenomenon that was a huge hit for the soft drink behemoth. Coca-Cola added names, messages, and hashtags to its packaging, encouraging purchasers to share their Coke with the world via social media. Twitter blew up in a positive display of brand-building and loyalty. All aspects of the marketing ecosystem worked in tandem to drive consumers toward simple yet powerful actions.

Each amalgamation of digital-traditional you uncover will give you greater insights into clever ways you can incorporate both strategies into your campaigns.

2. Consider traditional advertising as a way to complete your message 'spread.'

If you only focus on digital advertising techniques, you will miss the chance to maximize your message’s journey across all platforms. Spread your message through various traditional channels, reaching all the consumer nooks and crannies. Exposure is still the name of the game, regardless of the decade.

After blanketing all possible markets using a combination of traditional and digital, you can then lightning-focus on digital messaging and build relevant, personalized relationships.

3. Think in terms of a two-way street.

A two-way street allows you to turn around and go in the opposite direction when needed. The same should be true for digital marketers and traditional advertisers.

Although traditional does tend to be used at the front end of campaigns, it shouldn’t be abandoned like Hansel and Gretel in the woods. Leave some crumbs so consumers can double back to traditional advertising platforms for a thorough, harmonious marketing mix.

4. Keep your eye on the prize.

Instead of grappling with the “is digital or traditional better?” puzzle, put it aside to focus on metrics like your return on investment and sophisticated key performance indicators.

Use those measurable goals to drive your advertising and marketing choices, not the distribution vehicles. Additionally, keep testing, testing, and testing using emerging data science tools. By taking an objective stance, you can quickly remove biases and make the right decisions for the health of any campaign, no matter what medium it lives on.

5. Have honest conversations about digital-traditional.

It’s OK to talk about digital marketing and traditional advertising in an open forum; in fact, it’s essential for collaboration and cross-pollination.

Instead of labeling any platform as “old-fashioned” or “ultra-modern,” talk about all possibilities as viable until proven otherwise. Foster chats among team members and add weekly debriefings to your schedule to generate an environment where people feel free to fluidly discuss options and opinions.

6. Develop winning formulas.

Being at the forefront of your industry is a privilege that grows from productivity and efficiency, not to mention the ability to know when a campaign is failing miserably.

When you hit on winning formulas, seize them, even if they're not exactly what you predicted they'd be. Figure out why a particular traditional-digital mix worked, and repeat it to further your — and your clients’ — success.

7. Work collaboratively with influential publishers.

High-value publishers may operate in both the traditional and digital worlds. For instance, the Wall Street Journal has a thriving online presence alongside its paper format.

Work with the publisher influencers who can drive the most revenue and become key partners. They may provide interesting insights into methods you never considered that merge traditional and digital seamlessly.

At the end of the day, remember that this isn’t the historical clash between the Hatfields and the McCoys. Traditional advertisers and digital marketers might not be ready to walk down the aisle, but they should at least be willing to share a cup of coffee, figure out how their commonalities can unite, and determine how their differences can be complementary. By identifying and merging their strongest attributes, they have the power to create engaging campaigns for a contemporary audience.

About the Author: Tom Alexander is founder and CEO of PK4 Media, an omnichannel media company located in El Segundo, California. With more than 13 years of experience in digital advertising, Tom has a keen understanding of the industry and the voids in the marketplace. As a result, he has developed a single system in PK4 Media’s platform XPS, which controls delivery and optimization, providing advertisers an effective and efficient way to achieve results.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Metrics-Driven Demand Gen in a Multichannel World

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

How to Find & Engage Brand Influencers

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


How to Market to Affluent Buyers

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Editor's Note: Reach Analytics, where this article first appeared, specializes in predictive marketing for online businesses. Today, they've joined us to share advice on reaching affluent buyers through targeted marketing

As America’s demographics shift, the tastes and desires of affluent buyers change as well. The number and median income of affluent buyers, defined as Americans with more than $100,000 in annual income, is growing. Both millennials and older affluent buyers are interested in buying a home in the next three years, but not a McMansion. Neither uses cash, and both use streaming services in addition to social media. Some affluent buyers may also be less empathetic than their less-affluent counterparts, so there are also social differences to consider.

Depending on your industry, tapping into this high-income market segment is well worth the effort, and you can target your products or approaches to affluent buyers with improved advertising, payment options, choices and customer service. Here’s a little insight you can use to reach and serve your customers in both brick-and-mortar and digital environments.

Personalize Customer Profiles to Increase Interest and Retention

Many affluent buyers - also known as luxury shoppers - dislike the time it takes to fill out forms, preferences, or complex web searches to get results that are relevant to their needs. A lack of data collection at the right time and place can cause a buyer to receive too much or too little information, leading to indifference or even hostility towards your business. Rather than asking buyers to complete surveys or give responses, think of ways you can retain information as soon as it is obtained for use in future offers.

As examples, you can use the data you already have about your affluent customers to personalize their shopping experience by:

  • Greeting them by name when they visit your location
  • Being aware of their preferences based on past purchases
  • Mailing, emailing or texting offers and rewards based on their interests
  • Inviting them to VIP events based on their interests
  • Another great idea? Studies show that affluent customers crave exclusivity. You might think about directing your staff to ask affluent buyers if they would be interested in paying for a personalized experience. Train them to showcase the advantages of your existing system and changes you expect to make.

Advertise with Traditional and Digital Media, Gearing Digital Campaigns toward Millennials

Affluent buyers often access media through cell phones and computers, but also view media in many traditional ways, from television to magazines and newspapers. Consider a campaign that reaches across different outlets. TV ads remain the most influential medium across different age groups. Many affluent millennials are interested in interactive opportunities to connect with a business. Ideas include partnerships with apps like Snapchat, geo-location, digital coupons and loyalty apps. Both millennials and older audiences are also interested in digital tools; methods to invest and track their wealth that do not require them to interact with a person to make financial decisions are in very high demand.

Ratings and reviews are another way for merchants to reach out to affluent buyers. A customer who is excited about your product and engaged enough to start a conversation is a person who may provide good word of mouth through online posts and in-person conversations. Chatbots and A.I. that already have information about a customer and are prepared to collect more constitute great ways of reaching out to affluent buyers. You can enable chatbots on websites as well as in stores to suggest options, and gather data about customer preferences.

As you begin to understand this new breed of affluent buyers, you can benefit by creating a strategy that spans multiple channels, environments and preferences. Begin developing your advertising campaign by looking at the trends for your industry and meshing them with the data you collect. This will help you develop a better, more on-point approach to understanding what your customers need and how to serve them best.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Marketing to Millennials

Metrics-Driven Demand Gen in a Multichannel World

Trending Social Apps: Pinterest, Vine & SnapChat

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


How to Succeed as a Small Business on Instagram

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Editor's Note: Matt Foster is a Content Strategist at Distinctly. Today he joins us to explain how a small business on Instagram can build their presence, and effectively engage with a diverse audience.

 

Since it was introduced in 2010, Instagram has become one of the most popular and widely used social media sites, competing with Twitter as a key platform for business users. So how can Instagram benefit you as a small business?

In December 2016, Instagram boasted over 600 million followers: a world of potential clients and customers for small businesses. This enormous market is often tapped by bigger brands looking to develop their social media marketing efforts, while smaller businesses sometimes assume it will not work for them; this simply is not true. In this article, we’ll show how to raise brand awareness and reach a larger customer base as a small business on Instagram. Let’s get started!

Target Your Content

After setting up an Instagram account, it’s time to post content. But where do you start? The key to success on Instagram is knowing the kind of content that will capture the attention of your audience. As a small business, it’s important that you know who your target users are, and tailor content to their interests. Begin by looking at your current customer base, and decide who they are in terms of age, location and gender. Once this information is clear, it’s easier to make an informed decision on content and hashtags.

Hashtags and trending topics are important on Instagram, and many will be relevant to you. When a hashtag relevant to your business blows up, it’s a great way to reach a wider audience beyond your followers. Adding hashtags to the content you post means it can be easily found, and posting content that is relevant to current trends can do the same. Both techniques are good ways to not only gain followers, but generate brand awareness in your target market.

Keeping your Instagram content related to your company brand is important, and this can be done by choosing a niche theme. When you have a theme, followers know what to expect, and will rely on you for similar posts down the road. It can take some experimentation to find something that is both unique and well-received, but once you’ve found something that works, you can focus on perfecting it.

A woodworking business based in Georgia, USA - Sons of Sawdust - reclaimed wood to create new products. By taking photos of their projects and posting them online, the company has created a popular online portfolio showcasing their work, and providing a behind-the-scenes demonstration of their processes. To make sure the right people see it, Sons of Sawdust uses relevant hashtags – #workshop, #oldwood, and #salvage, for example – so it will be found by a wide variety of users interested in woodworking.

A small business on Instagram

Engagement is Key

Being active and engaging your audience is vital to building a successful presence as a small business on Instagram. You can post great quality, relevant content, but if no one knows you have an online presence, you will struggle to grow it. Start by telling current customers that you have social media accounts by putting a link to your Instagram on your website, and advertise it on other mediums like Facebook and Twitter. Include all social media links in your email signatures to drive traffic.

Consistency is a tremendously important way to keep your audience engaged, so content should be uploaded on a frequent and regular basis. The more active a small business is on Instagram, the more engagement they will see in return.

There are optimum posting times for Instagram, so try to establish a routine and post when most of your audience is online. Social Insights and Iconosquare are tools that will help you find the best times to post for maximum engagement, and both use analytics to optimize for your unique follower-base.

Another way to gain a large Instagram presence is collaborating with another local business or organisation that has already established themselves on Instagram. Working together exposes you to a pre-existing audience, and expands your own base.

Instagram has become the social platform for influencer endorsements. Do research to identify an influencer who shares your product, service, or target audience on Instagram, and build the relationship through engaging, ultimately inquiring about them promoting your business.

You can approach and offer between $20 and $100 they will promote your product or brand to their followers. There are plenty of research tools you can use to target the right influences for the size of their following in set niches, although be aware this must be matched with high levels of engagement of their followers when they post content.
Alasdair Inglis – Marketing expert at We Are Grow

Be Unique and Stand Out

In order to create an engaging Instagram account, it is essential to stand out from the crowd. So where do you start in terms of generating unique content? Your business likely offers a product, service or experience that is sold to customers through a unique selling point (USP), and you can use this to attract followers.

The London Helicopter has special access to bird’s eye views of the London skyline every day. The company’s USP lies in offering an experience that many people want to see, and that very few get to see. As a visually oriented platform, Instagram is a perfect place for this company to showcase these experiences and share them with followers who are unlikely to forget the brand if they are ever on vacation.

The London Heli Instagram

Have a Consistent Style

As mentioned before, consistency is key to all forms of social media and Instagram is no exception. But while many companies remember to post consistently, they often neglect stylistic consistency. People follow a brand because they want to see more of whatever attracted them in the first place, so giving it to them is important.

A popular way of doing this is to concentrate on a branded color palette throughout your content. Oreo does this well by using the same house style and color scheme in each of their posts:

Oreo Instagram

Instagram is About More than Gaining Customers

While social media can absolutely help you to gain new customers, it isn’t just a quick way to boost your business and market your products. It also works to demonstrate excellent customer service, and the quality of people who work for your business.

There are many ways businesses and brands can benefit from this besides the acquisition of new customers:

Boosting Sales Among Existing Customers: Businesses who show great customer service on their social media accounts are likely to see a boost in sales and profits. Research by Aberdeen Group found that brands who are good at customer service benefit from an annual financial gain of 7.5%, against the typical 2.9%.

Creating Brand Advocates: Using social media turns your customers into brand advocates. If a customer has a good experience with a brand on social media, they are three times as likely to recommend that brand to a friend or family member. This is how word of mouth works in the digital age.

Creating a Positive Image: Social media platforms are a good way to show old and potential customers alike that you are interested in them, and this matters even if you aren’t getting direct sales from your content. 74% of shoppers list social platforms as a main influence on whether or not they made a purchase, so it is important for brands  to focus on customer care and maintaining a friendly, outgoing public image.

Like other social media platforms, Instagram gives your customers a space to interact with your company, a chance to retain old customers, and gain new ones. Using it effectively means appreciating the unique qualities of a visual medium, and being sincere in your efforts to build a positive image that your brand will be remembered for. Getting started isn't hard, and it's well worth it - hopefully the advice above will help you to build your presence on a platform that is teeming with opportunity.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

B2B Social Visual Storytelling on Instagram, Pinterest & Tumblr

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Social Media Strategy for Business

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Best Email Marketing Tools for Small Business

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Editor's note: Stacey Marone is a social media marketer who has joined us today to explore the best tools for managing an email marketing campaign.

 

Social media is often portrayed as the ultimate marketing tool for small businesses. But before there were social networks, people relied on email to stay connected. In fact, everyone on a social network has an email address, but not everyone with an email address is on a social network. It stands to reason that you can reach a lot more people with email marketing than with social media marketing alone.

Even with a strong social media strategy, email marketing opens your business to many leads and opportunities you might otherwise miss. Furthermore, the two strategies can be combined to create more powerful campaigns.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a kind of targeted marketing.

If you’re like most people, you sometimes open your mailbox to find brochures and invitations from different companies offering product information, samples, free seminars and other promotional material.

Email marketing is something like that, except in digital form. In both cases, you need contact information to promote your business. When it comes to email marketing, this information takes the form of an email list compiled from your existing customers, or email addresses you got from site registrations.

There are many ways to obtain a list of email addresses. But once that’s taken care of, you have a new challenge on your hands: turning them into customers. In order to make the best use of your leads, it's essential to have a versatile email platform that will help you to send the right information where it counts.

To help you find what’s right for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best email marketing tools for your business. Let’s get started!

Mail Chimp

mailchimp

In spite of its humorous style, MailChimp is a very serious email marketing tool, and one of the most popular and user-friendly ones around. It is especially useful if you are just starting out on your email marketing journey.

MailChimp will do much of the work for you, including product follow-ups and stock availability updates. It will track what your customers are buying so you can target them with related product offerings. You can also integrate MailChimp with your Twitter and Facebook account, allowing you to bring social media and email marketing together.

If you have an e-commerce store, MailChimp has a lot of great options for you; it will connect directly to services like WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce. This integration allows you to create email campaigns directly from your store.

Beginners will appreciate the intuitive drag-and-drop interface in MailChimp’s email builder, and the dashboard is also very simple to navigate. To track success, you can easily generate reports of your campaigns to learn how many people opened their emails, which links got the most clicks, and what customer segments respond best to different offers.

MailChimp is also very fairly priced, with a free plan to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers a month. This is usually a great place for small businesses to start. Once you gather steam paid plans start at $10 a month.

Litmus

litmus

Next up on our list is Litmus, a versatile platform that takes analytics to the next level. Litmus specializes in testing and tracking emails with advanced features to help you fine tune your email marketing strategy. It’s a step up from MailChimp, but still quite easy to use, and makes a great supplement to email campaigns that you might be running on another service.

Litmus not only tests email optimization for PCs and laptops, but also mobile devices. Since the market is increasingly going mobile, this is an important strategy for success. If you test your emails before sending them out, you will see exactly how they look to your recipients. By refining the look and load time of the emails you send, automatically removing broken links and streamlining design elements, Litmus will ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Litmus will also track your emails so you get important information such as what devices were used to open emails, when they were opened, and how much time recipients spent on them.

As a testing and tracking tool, Litmus takes the cake. Beginning with a 7 day free trial, using Litmus permanently will cost you a cool $79.00 per month. Given how much it can improve your results, the investment can be well worth it for those with a medium to large email marketing list.

Reach Mail

reachmail

For those with smaller budgets who would still like to benefit from email analytics and optimization, Reach Mail is a good, affordable option at a mere $10.00 per month.

Like Litmus, Reach Mail offers message testing and tracks email performance. It also has a Spam Checker, which tests your emails to see whether they might be flagged as spam. A nice feature of Reach Mail is that it considers your emails as entire compositions, taking into account both subject lines and content in its analysis. This is important for determining how successful your campaigns will be ahead of time.

Like MailChimp, Reach Mail offers hundreds of attractive templates for creating your emails, so you won't need graphic or layout chops to send a professional-looking email. And if you do want something a little more unique for a special occasion, you can easily request custom design directly through the service.

ActiveTrail

activetrail

Formerly known as TargetHero, ActiveTrail is an email marketing solution which specifically targets the growing population of users who read emails on mobile devices.

Aside from the usual email composition and sending features, ActiveTrail will automatically send targeted emails to people on your list who perform certain actions on your website, such as registering for a newsletter, or entering a particular campaign. These auto responses can be a “Thank You” or verification email which include product offerings and other promotional information relevant to the target user - you do your marketing every step along the way!

AvtiveTrail’s pricing comes in tiers. For $7 a month, you can manage up to 500 subscribers, and it goes all the way up to $55 a month for 10,000. This range of options makes it easy to start small, and expand according to your means. If you’d like to give this tool a spin, there’s also a free trial, so take advantage of that before committing!

There are many other options in the world of email marketing to help you accomplish your goals, but these are great choices for beginners; even simple tools like MailChimp are used by very large corporations to manage their email marketing needs. There’s no better way to learn than by doing, so pick one and give it a try!

Stacey Marone is a freelance writer and a social media marketer. She creates magnetic content optimized for search. In her free time, she also does volunteer work and organizes some activities for children. Her passions involve painting, reading, and writing. You can follow her on twitter.

Learn more with these related OMI classes: 

Using Social Data to Improve Email Marketing

How to Create Mobile Friendly Emails

Successfully Measuring Email Performance

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.