Signing a new client is one of the most thrilling experiences in the business world. But it can also be a dangerous venture.
The first 90 days are crucial to the success of your relationship with your client. This new change is bound to be stressful for your client, especially if they are just coming out of a bad business-vendor relationship. Don’t let that hold you back.
Help your client ease into this new partnership by following these tips.
Learn About Your Client’s Previous Supplier Understanding how your client worked with its previous vendor will help you gain insight into:
What worked and what didn’t in your client’s previous relationship
How difficult this transition is for your client
How you should modify your style to meet your client’s style
Form your new relationship around these details, and your client will be more inclined to trust and rely on you to fulfill their needs. Build a system based on what has worked not only for your company in the past but what has worked for your new client. Do this, and you’ll build a successful and lasting relationship.
Recognize the Difficulty of This Transition for Your Point of Contact Your client may be hesitant to invest a large sum of money into your services at first, especially if their previous vendor wasn't what they expected. Try not to push any services on your new client that are outside their budget or that the company is not yet comfortable with. Worse yet, this change may have been sprung on your point of contact (POC) without his/her input. As if this alone isn’t stressful enough, your POC’s superiors are breathing down his/her neck about this new commitment - on top of all the other responsibilities your POC juggles on a daily basis.
Listen to Your Point of Contact In order to properly gauge the status of your client’s transition, pay close attention to the way your POC communicates with you. Each time he/she speaks with you, sends you an email, etc., find out what your POC is really saying.
Is he/she stressed?
Does your POC trust your company?
Does he/she believe in you yet?
Over the first 90 days, communicate with your POC over the phone as much as possible and attempt to understand his/her feelings. Ask lots of questions. Listen to their tone of voice. Stay up to date on company happenings that might be influencing them. Speaking with your POC over the phone also helps build assurance that your new client’s project is in trustworthy hands.
Acknowledge and Resolve Any Concerns Relationships can get tense with particularly touchy transitions. Always listen closely to your POC and his/her superiors in order to determine the best route for resolving any conflict that may arise. Acknowledge their concerns and develop a strategy that works for your POC’s team and yours to best address them. Present the strategy both verbally and through email, so both sides have documented evidence and your POC has an eased conscience. You can even go so far as to have your management schedule weekly calls with your POC’s management to ensure all is moving well, until everyone is confident in the progress of the project.
The first 90 days with a new client are similar to adjusting to any new constant in your life, new roommate, new job, new pet, new boss. Each side has expectations and perhaps even fears. But it is in weathering these times of stress gracefully and productively that friends are made. Don't underestimate how a healthy business relationship during this initial time can help solidify your status as a trusted vendor.
Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.
Kaye’s work at Web Talent Marketing includes working closely with the client relations team to ensure exceptional service and strategies are provided to our clients. Additionally, her role includes new business development as she builds channel partnerships and leverages previous business relationships.
Marketing in the B2C (Business to Consumer) space is very different than marketing in the B2B (Business to Business) space. B2B marketing is unique for a lot of reasons. In the B2B market, the sales cycle tends to be longer, multiple decision makers are typically involved, the partnerships are often long-term, and the products or services carry a higher price tag than many B2C products and services.
Approaching B2B marketing the same way one would approach B2C marketing is a huge mistake. Organizations need a website and digital strategy geared towards their unique B2B customers. Read on to learn what common mistakes that marketers make when designing websites for a B2B firms.
Going for the Close Right Away
Traditional B2B industries covers a broad range of industries including, but not limited to: medical devices, recruiting services, manufacturing products and financial services. One of the few things most B2B industries have in common is a long sales cycle. These sales cycles tend to be 6 months or longer, often spanning to nearly a year.
A major mistake that marketers make in designing a B2B website is going for the close right away. Asking a prospect for their contact information before they’ve gotten the opportunity to learn more about the product and services a firm is a huge turn off. This is particularly true in our new age of information, where a person’s name and e-mail address are coveted. And generally, B2B companies aren’t offering low value widgets that a consumer can return if they decide they don’t like it. B2B products and services ten to have price points in the tens of thousand, and products and services that require a lot more thought and consideration before a commitment is made.
Instead of going for the close right away, a B2B website should tell a story, draw the prospect in, and educate him or her on why the firm’s products and services are of value to them. Calls-to-action should be clearly placed and encourage the website visitor to take the next step, such as Read Our Blog, Download Our White Paper, Learn More, etc. A well-designed B2B website nurtures a lead through the sales funnel, often over an extended period of time.
Lack of Helpful Information
A bare bones website works for a variety of B2C companies that offer a quick experience with a service or an inexpensive product. However, in the B2B space a bare bones website lacks credibility and the information a prospect needs to make a decision.
An all-too-common mistake we see with B2B websites is a lack of actionable or educational information about a company’s service or product offerings. Services and products in the B2B space have a tendency to be detailed, customized, and/or complicated. As such, prospects need as much information as possible to make a well-informed decision. Firms that are able to provide helpful information to prospects set themselves apart from their competition and establish themselves as a true resource and authority in their field.
We often see B2B firms who have a plethora of offline marketing materials but very few materials available online. Rather than keeping all these great, educational materials in only print format, we encourage B2B companies to digitize these materials by adding them as pages on the website, creating case studies online, writing blogs about how to use their products or services, or create other content marketing materials that can be housed on their website.
Content Isn’t Accessible
Accessibility. It has a lot of definitions, but for marketers and those of us in the B2B space, accessibility translates into whether or not out content is available and easy to comprehend for our intended audience. We live in the age of information where everything we want to know ia at our fingertips. To continue to compete in this landscape, it is important to have information that is easy to find and to understand. If you’re not saying it, someone else is, and that someone is likely taking your traffic.
Content For All Decision Makers
A pervasive issue on B2B websites is that content isn’t accessible for all of the decision makers. A firm’s main prospect may be an engineer, but the engineer may have to get the approval of a CTO or a CFO before moving forward with a deal. If all the content on the website is aimed at the engineer, the firm isn’t providing tools that make it easy for the engineer to convince the CTO or CFO that the products or services are necessary.
An alternative to creating content just for one client persona is to create content for each of the decision makers in the target organization. This sounds like a lot of extra work, but with the right planning, it’s quite simple to integrate into a website. For example, a CFO may be more interested in the financial costs and benefits of a particular service, whereas the engineer is likely interested in the technical aspects. Creating accessible content for the CFO, such as case studies or cost savings comparison sheets, and for the engineer, like spec sheets or technical guides, that are both hosted on the website worthwhile. While often overlooked, it’s an easy solution to effectively communicate with multiple decision makers.
Few Credibility Elements
In most industries, there are more than a few players. Competition can often be dense. However, most B2B firms have a unique value proposition that sets them apart from their competition. A firm may not be the cheapest or fastest, but there is a lot of value in being the most thorough or the best at something specific.
This issue is that they often don’t clearly communicate their value proposition clearly. Many B2B websites lack the credibility elements that build their case for the value they offer and why prospects should trust them. Long-term partnerships are founded on trust, respect, and added value. In the B2B space, this is true for almost all partnerships. As such, a B2B website and digital presence absolutely must engender trust and build confidence in a firm’s products or services.
There are so many ways to build credibility with a website. Instead of a firm saying they are better, faster, or more compliant, they should try showing they are better, faster, or more compliant. This can be done through client testimonials, industry awards, before and after demonstrations, a portfolio of work, and case studies. How the website performs (page speed, ease of navigation, imagery, etc.) should also uphold the value proposition and credibility assertion.
There is rhetoric out in the marketing world that there is no B2B or B2C, that it’s all the same type of marketing. However, it’s simply not true. Building and designing a B2B website according to the same principles used in B2C marketing is designing for failure. Having an understanding of what makes the B2B audience different enables a firm to create messaging, content, and a digital presence that accommodates, nurtures, and compels that audience.
Email is by far the most effective way of directly increasing sales and growing your business.
You’d think because of this data-backed fact that more business owners and more sales professionals would spend more time growing their email list. If you’re on the hunt for the next-best-thing in lead generation, might I remind of you of the tried and true king of commerce communications.
Here are 9 compelling reasons why you need a solid email marketing list:
If you’re a diligent about keeping an address book then you understand the importance of quality book of contacts. Let me re-frame this concept. If you’re throwing a party, your goal is to have a great party with your guests. You have a guest list which you market the party to via invitation. Your guests receive your invite and consequently show up and you reach your goal of having a great party. Keeping a list of your potential guests cost virtually nothing and it has yielded a great ROI - in this case, a good time!
Now imagine you’re having a product launch or a sale. It’s a party (of sorts). You go to send invitations to your would-be guests (marketing list) only you have no guest list. Disaster. Now instead of just inviting your past customers to your sale, you have go buy billboard space, create ads, make flyers to try to get them todiscover that you’re having a sale. This drastically cuts into your budget and it hurts your return. In the context of ad space vs email and social media marketing the costs are minimal.
#2 Zero Learning Curve, For You.
Been sending emails for years? Decades? Just about everyone you know has an email address and uses it. It’s is about as standard as having a cell phone. As a business owner, you don’t have to learn 17 different platforms just to reach your intended recipient, just type in their address and go.
#3 You'll Actually Reach Your Database
Two our own detriment, in the midst of our social media frenzy we've lost sight of some of the basics of marketing. Organic social media is on life support, Facebook is only showing your posts on from your business page to a very small 1-3% of your followers. Email however, has delivery rates of up to 99%. Email services also tell you if your recipient has received your email. Your post? Maybe they saw it maybe they didn't.
Granted, email is only opened by a fraction of subscribers - at Tribez our open rates hover around 30%. But even if your email is never opened, the message still reaches its destination and then at least your recipient has the option to to read it or not.
#4 Sticking Power
Have you ever see a post on Facebook you you wanted to read and then try to find it again? Yeah… not so easy. That email you got this morning that you flagged to read later on? Well there it is right where you left it! Social Media is noisy and it’s getting noisier! Your social feeds update thousands of times a day, your inbox updates dozens of times a day and for your customer probably even less.
Social media is all scroll and no action. Email is for doing. Opening, reading, and our favorite - clicking. Email never dies. You have to eliminate it. It just sits there in your inbox waiting for you. Even if it’s deleted, it still requires that action. Social media? Scrolling on.
#5 Measure Twice Cut Once
Trying to prove the value of social media is difficult and becoming more so. What’s the value of a Facebook follower? Who knows.
Email on the contrary is very simple. What email did you send, how many inquiries did you get, and how many sales did it generate? Then you can take it from there and figure out the average value of each opt in.
#6 Have an actual conversation
You know the kind of communication where I say something and then you say something back to me? If you are a small business, next to your phone, your email email is your money maker, the vessel to true 2-way communication. One-on-one conversations with prospects are priceless! Reach out to them first and spark a conversation!
#7 Advertising Approved
Email is perceived differently than social networks. It’s become quite normal to be notified of a sale or a receive a coupon code in your inbox. You won’t be ostracized for doing this, however if you blast your LinkedIn connections with a coupon code, they might have something no-so-nice to say back.
#8 The Inbox Has Gone Mobile
As long as you stay away from using huge images in your emails you can deliver your messages right to the hand of your subscribers!
Although there is a logical understanding that every email we receive is not always personal, it still feels like the message is for us, even if it’s sent to a list of thousands. A social post is for anyone who stumbles upon it. Further segmentation of your list allows you to send more specific messages to help nurture your subscriber into desired action.
Email is still the only channel that remains private-ish, it provides a direct line to you and your contacts. Most importantly, it has an opt-in process that turns it into the purest form of Permission Marketing.
In 2014, YouTube reached more 18-34, and 18-49 year olds than any cable network
Time they spent on YouTube shot up 44% percent, with mobile viewing making up the largest source of growth
YouTube accounted for 51 percent of time spent watching premium digital video* in December 2014 across desktop streaming, smartphones, and tablets among key adult demographics, specifically adults 18-34 and 18-49.
Where does this leave us?
Live TV viewing in on a downward trend, streaming services are on an upward trend, and YouTube is the clear leader in digital video platforms. Researchers across the industry believe these trends will continue year over year in the near and distant future.
Time spent watching TV content is down overall. It is important to note however, that the popularity of this content is not in question, but where the eyeballs go, that’s what is changing. Moreover, viewing TV content on YouTube is increasing year over year, along with using YouTube to consume new content.
So, how can you capitalize on the YouTube train? Here are a few ideas.
Replace some TV ad spend with YouTube ad spend. This doesn’t mean spend more, just allocate differently. According to a study done by Google of 3,000 U.S. companies, they found that had companies taken this approach dual ad approach, they would have reached 42% more millennials alone.
Invest in YouTube ads. A recent Google study found that people were 23x more likely to visit or subscribe to a brand channel if they watched a YouTube ad. So, invest in a YouTube Ad, and create a valuable platform to increase brand awareness and potentially dedicated audience to market to.
A similar study showed that YouTube Ads increased the value of past content. When brands ran YouTube Ads, they saw views of their previous content increase up to 500%!
Do you Youtube? We’d love to know. Let us know how YouTube fits into your digital marketing strategy in the comments section below.
According to a study done by Capgemini Consulting in conjunction with MIT Center for Digital Business, they uncovered some staggering stats that will help us understand the phenomenon.
Over 90% of companies lack digital skills
77% of companies considered ‘missing digital skills’ as a key hurdle to digital transformation
87% of companies believe a digital transformation is a competitive opportunity
Only 47% of companies are investing in developing digital skills
Only 4% of companies are ensuring their training efforts are aligned with their overall digital strategy
Companies are spending no more than 20% of their training budget on digital
Only 30% of organizations mentioned HR as being actively involved in skills development
Companies across the globe felt the biggest holes in digital skill sets across their organization in the following areas: social media, mobile, internal social networks, process automation and analysis.
According to the same 2013 study, the below skills are most relevant for the digital age:
Big data analytics
To get a bit more granular, skills in this area range from light tech to heavy tech-centric skills. Light tech skills in the digital age include things like social media management, brand building online, online community management, virtual (webinar, presentation, etc.) facilitation, writing for different digital mediums, marketing automation tools management, customer service and public relations. Heavy tech skills in the digital age include things like user interface design, mobile device management, mobile device security, data analysis, app management and design, and much more.
The second half of the puzzle lies in corporations needs to match tech skills with business acumen. The true value of digital skills are born when they are combined with a deep understanding of the business. This is leading to an increased need for employees who have both technical skills plus business and leadership abilities.
So - what can companies do to ‘plug the skills gap?’
Let’s first take a look at what some companies are currently doing. Google partnered with P&G to implement an employee exchange program to help teach their employees how to sell things online. They focused on digital and search marketing to help bring their e-commerce into the 21st century. Nike partnered with Techstars in an incubator program to create new products.
Upskilling employees is an ideal way to empower those who already know your business, with the digital skills needed to close the gap in your organization.
And, this upskilling does not need to be ‘Google-sized.’ Small and medium sized business have options. There are ways to invest in current employees that don’t require you to be P&G or Nike.
Organizations, like ours - offer affordable options for digital and online training for companies of all sizes. We’ve been training teams since 2007 and have supported corporate teams as large as 10,000 employees, and as small as 10. We offer fully customized eLearning programs with the added benefit of leveraging over 400 + hours of existing high quality content taught by Digital Marketing thought leaders, authors, and leading practitioners.
We begin with an assessment to test employee’s digital knowledge to help us build a program to fill your skills gap and augment your employee strengths. We’ll then help design a custom based learning pathway comprised of classes that fit your organization's’ particular skill(s) gap. We also offer LMS integration, marketing support, reporting dashboards, and robust user role access to support any size organization.
Tis’ the season for lists! Christmas lists, lengthy grocery lists for holiday gatherings, itineraries for holiday travel. If you’re a marketer, surely you’re poised for the onslaught of ‘2016 trends to watch,’ lists, popping up all over our favorite blogs, periodicals, and websites; Top digital marketing trends to watch in 2016, 5 Marketing tactics that will make or break your company in 2016, 7 Digital marketing tactics you need to master in 2016. So, to ease your burden, we’ve read most of them for you - and prepared a snap-shot of the most popular from the list of lists. Here are the Top 10 digital trends and tactics to plan for in 2016.
1) Social Media - From Ugly Duckling to Swan
With a number of alliances between Google and big social media players (read: Facebook and Twitter) it’s no wonder marketers are starting to head the social call. The product of these marriages will increase the importance of a company's social media presence. Bloomberg was quoted saying, “[tweets] will start to be visible in Google’s search results as soon as they are posted.” It doesn’t seem likely that Google will slow down forging more partnerships with leading social platforms. The result? Allowing social results to influence search engine results!
Next, if you haven’t experienced the upgraded targeting ad features on Facebook, take the time to get acquainted now. The retargeting and integrations within Facebook Ad’s manager are powerful data driven features that have marketers excited. Serve ads based on retargeting, custom lists, actions, behaviors, page visits ... the list goes on.
Lastly, social media has become one of the number one place customers go to thank (or complain). The highly transparent and public nature of social media makes users feel like they’ve ‘cut to the front of the line’. If you’re not hearing their complaints (or accolades) and acting accordingly, you can be certain other people are.
So what should you do? Tweet. Be active, transparent, human and timely across social channels. Allow people to know what you’re up to - build brand trust and intrigue. Invest in your Facebook content and strategies, and get social listening tools so your customer service team can be a part of (and control of) the ‘social goings on’ of your company.
2) Now You See It, Now You Don’t - The Rise of Ephemeral Marketing
Sometimes termed ‘temporary social media’ - Snapchat is leading the way in ephemeral marketing. Snapchat is useful for generating excitement around a new product or feature, or driving specific marketing actions, such as promos or discounts. Many companies (Food Network, Vice, BuzzFeed, Mashable, Cosmo, ESPN, to name a few) are capitalizing on the younger generation, aka millennials, who flock to Snapchat where they can consume content that feels ‘straight to the point’ and, where they can access ‘limited access content’, that is content with an expiration date - read as: exclusive.
Think content is only used to strengthen SERs? While that is absolutely one of the key reasons you should be creating regular, original, relevant, brand enhancing and engaging quality content, check out these statistics that tell a compelling story about the other important roles content plays.
90% of customers find custom content useful while 78% believe that companies with custom content are interested in building positive relationships
Content marketing costs less than traditional marketing, 62% less per lead, to be exact
Content builds brand trust and loyalty, and helps define you as an expert in your field. If you don’t yet have brand advocates upping your credibility, you’ll have to be the one to do that - and one of the best ways you can accomplish this is with content. In 2016, if you don’t have the budget or resources to create a robust brand advocacy strategy, think about getting influencers on board to help tell your story. It comes down to this, if you’re not doing it, your competitors are, and as content and consumption becomes a larger part of the buyer's journey, if you’re not making noise with your content, you’re getting drowned out by the noise of others.
Location based marketing is particularly important if your company regularly hosts events. Through the use of fancy tech (Radio Frequency Identification - RFID) marketers can utilize wearables, applications, or even cards with a unique RFID identifier, to amplify social sharing by creating a seamless and integrated consumption and sharing experience.
Although a lot of the freshest and coolest location based marketing is geared towards events, location based marketing isn’t just for event marketers. Other location based services and technologies have been created to locate nearby devices that can detect prospects at the time of engagement with a particular product or retail establishment.
Minority Report? Anyone?
5) Relationship Marketing
This boils down to creating loyalists (brand advocates) instead of focusing on quick, short-term sales and aquisition. The focus is on long lasting customer relationships. Those companies that do this well are the envy of many, having created an ecosystem where customers are creating brand awareness that feels organic, authentic and credible.
Coca-Cola kills it when it comes to relationship marketing. This is one of my favorites (of hundreds) of relationship campaigns they’ve run all over the world.
Coca-Cola caps as currency - genius. Not to mention, this one’s a real tear jerker.
Marketing automation has become increasingly necessary as more and more companies are understanding the importance of content and leveraging content as a leading tactic for led gen. Automation tools make it easier to manage everything from blogging to the customer/prospect lifecycle. Curious about what tools are out there? Check out this list of The Top 50 Marketing Automation Tools and Apps.
Recommended Class: Marketing Automation Best Practices for Success by Carlos Hidalgo
7) Virtual Reality
Virtual reality will emerge, and has the potential to change the way we tell stories. Obviously we expect 3D to take off first in the game industry, however, the benefits this tech add to the customer journey are intriguing. Imagine taking your next car out for a test drive or taking a tour of a potential vacation home, without leaving the comfort of your own living room? As personalization continues to be top priority, savvy marketers will find ways to bring their products and stories to life. Whether this will be a massive game changer remains to be seen, but with billions of dollars of funding around, it surely will be entertaining to watch it all unfold.
8) Wearables and the Internet of Things
What has felt like a slow and steady burn for wearable tech popularity in 2015, will likely continue into 2016. What this means for marketers is even more opportunity for targeted marketing, data and behavior driven marketing. It also means you may be making marketing choices based on the day-to-day behaviors of your potential consumers. Wearables will also change the way people share content, so the whole social landscape will shift accordingly, plus more wearable tech means less dependence on RFID’s or ibeacons for geo-location marketing efforts.
9) Video or Bust
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google? The number of searches on YouTube tops Bing, Y!, Ask.com, and AOL combined. YouTube also boasts an audience reach of more US adults ages 18-34 than any other cable network. Makes you squirm a little thinking about all the search you’re missing out on - doesn’t it? Live streaming takes video to a new level entirely. With ephemeral marketing gaining popularity, anyone with a smartphone can capture ‘exclusive’ content. In 2016 make sure you’re exploring snapchat, periscope, and Facebook and seeing where you can incorporate live streaming into your marketing strategies as well as planning for a YouTube presence if you don’t already have one. Check out this article for examples of these 8 brands live stream video for innovative marketing.
10) Optimized for Mobile
At this point, mobile and responsive websites should be a no brainer. For the past few years, we’ve been sprinting towards mobile dominating desktop, and we’ve passed it. Mobile has officially passed desktop browsing. What does this mean for you? In 2016, a mobile-optimized site will be an acceptable placeholder for an app, but not for long. An app can (read: should) do everything your website can do, just in a more accessible, intuitive and convenient way. Not to mention, an app is both touch screen (read: less barriers to clicks) and is a advertisement/reminder of your product that goes with your user everywhere they go. Talk about location based marketing 😉 2016 is the year to create a plan and market strategy for your app, get familiar with the latest app indexing best practices, and get an app to market, that for all intents and purposes, could replace your website.
Which trends and strategies do you think will dominate 2016? We’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to share!
Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us in no time and every self-respecting business will be sending out letters, greeting cards, emails or logo-stamped gifts. Direct marketing is one of the most fascinating branches of marketing. From the days of yore, it has made people talk, share and take action. With so many messages thrown at people throughout the day, direct marketing provides one of the least risky – and anticipated and accepted, if a bit interruptive – ways to connect with customers. I love creative mailers that come through my door. Some are thoughtful, some are clever, and some are downright cheeky. However, one common point amongst all these mailers is they are all prohibitively expensive for small businesses.
This is where small budget ideas come in. These ideas make it possible for small businesses to connect with their customers in surprisingly affordable and effective ways.
Vine set the precedent in making hastily-shot amateur videos all the rage. With Instagram and Periscope only confirming that video-clip marketing is here to stay, small businesses have an amazing opportunity to post a series of Vines leading up to Christmas and New Year. All you have to do is grab your smartphone and look around for cute and quirky opportunities to make a video.
Check out this cute and funny Vine made with zero dollars’ investment:
Embed Vine: https://vine.co/v/OgIwBEnLKPv
Take a look at the other videos on Christmas Channel – the channel that hosts the above video for more amazing ideas.
Share your Vines on other social platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook.
Embed links to your Vines on product pages on your website, blog posts, and email.
Make a series of Vines on a particular theme. For instance, think Harvey Nichols’ famous “I Spent it On Myself” commercial, break the idea into smaller videos – and you have a series!
Scour the app store for video editing apps that come with tons of effects to make your videos funny, creative and cool. Use these liberally.
Inboxes are invariably flooded with the same old “formulaically creative” emails during holiday times. So the chances of your email being read are infinitely small.
But with a little proactive and out-of-the-box (we desperately need a more out-of-the-box word for out-of-the-box) thinking, you can ensure your holiday emails are read.
First things first – stop being stingy when it comes to photos. Say goodbye to the ubiquitous boring vector backgrounds and illustrations, and invest in high quality pictures; or better yet, hire a good photographer. Yes, this still counts as “small-budget.” You can borrow creative “ideas” instead of “images” – Pinterest is an excellent source of inspiration.
If you are short on time, try online email creators. They are intuitive and easy to use, and you are done in minutes. Plus they come with a lot of beautiful, seasonal templates and forms, so you can create highly engaging emails with designer-like finesse. Most likely, your email marketing suite has such features too.
Don’t leave it for too late – start emailing at least weeks in advance.
Include creatively modified photos of your staff for more personalized email greetings. Other than being great for employees’ morale, it also lends a face and identity to your company.
Turn the banners on your homepage and category pages into online billboards. The banner or slider on your homepage is the first thing your visitors notice, so it makes sense to create one specifically for holiday season. Personalized card and gift item retailer FunkyPigeon.com is known for putting out banners with timely messages relevant to upcoming events, days or seasons.
More effective than just banners are entire landing pages with customized elements, each of which appeals to customers’ holiday moods. You can do this (without much coding) using DIY ecommerce platforms such as Spaces, which allows you to create product pages or even single-page websites with mobile-optimized, easy-to-A/B-test banners that give you more room for creativity while showcasing your merchandise.
If all your DIY or in-house efforts fail, you can always fall back on community-powered design marketplaces like 99Designs to not only get yourself a customized banner but pick and choose from dozens of entries submitted by the community.
In perfecting your means, don’t forget your message. Content marketing still remains the #1 small-budget marketing medium. Done right on your email and social media, and especially on your blog, content allows you to drive traffic to your business.
X Things You Can Fill in That Dog Christmas Stocking (for a pet food company)
X Original Setups to Capture Awesome Christmas Selfies (for a camera or smartphone company)
Why Santa Is Going To Pay Us an Extended Visit This Year (for anyone to share their annual success stories)
Send teasers through emails and share them on social networks from at least a month before, while there is still ample chance for them to be read.
Though content and email marketing have proven to be highly effective ways of marketing, it is always a good idea to send out physical gifts during holidays.
But you need to think beyond personalized pens to logo-engraved mugs – there never seems to be a shortfall of such boring “corporate” gifts.
And what’s more, these gifts are just that – gifts. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take on the festivities with more smart (read eco-friendly) and creative ideas for direct marketing (without the overwhelming expenses, of course)?
So here’s a thoughtful gift idea for which clients and customers will remember you for a long time:
Costing just around $2, plantable paper can make awesome gifts to help your customers stay focused on their goals. Simply send a letter with the plantable or seed paper (with your own custom messages such as “Hope our association grows stronger by the day!”) that explains the concept of your gift and how to use it, and you are done!
Plantable papers are available in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and many other countries, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get hold of it.
The best part about such gifts is you can follow up with timely cross-sells or reports and cement your relationship in the process.
Over to You
The new truth of marketing is that no single channel is enough these days. You cannot say with conviction that you’ll be successful just by milking a channel you’re good at, whether it’s email, social or television ads. You need to create a multi-channel marketing mix with all the ingredients perfectly mixed together to create awesome holiday season campaigns.
With mega-sale days just round the corner, don’t waste much time – start experimenting with as many guerilla-budget campaigns as you can. Like, now!
You pour all your resources into creating a major piece of content, such as a white paper or webinar. You think the topic will resonate with your audience. The production quality is excellent. Your message is clear and concise.
But then you press, “publish” and nothing happens. No downloads…no registrations…no rush of customers calling your sales reps.
So, what happened?
You might have picked a topic that doesn’t interest your target audience. Many B2B marketers have a disconnect between the content they publish and what their customers want. If your content doesn’t hit the mark, buyers won’t respond.
Here are five steps you can take to pick the right topics and hit a home run with your content:
1. Look for trends.
One way to bring more people to your content is by writing about trending topics. And no, you don’t need to blog about what the Kardashians are up to this week. Here are three tools – other than Google Analytics – that will help you find trending topics and keywords:
Hashtagify.me helps you find trending hashtags. Simply enter a hashtag, and the service will tell you how popular it is. It will also recommend related hashtags that can help you reach a wider audience.
BuzzSumo gives you insight into top-performing content. When you enter your key phrase, BuzzSumo will display the most-shared content containing those words. This helps you see if your key phrase will attract readers.
Google Trends shows you how searches for a key phrase have increased or decreased over time. You can narrow your results by country or time period. For example, you can see how searches for “cloud computing” have changed over the past year or 90 days.
2. Get to know your target audience.
If you haven’t updated your buyer personas since the first season of Breaking Bad, it’s time for a refresh. Updating your personas will give you insights into your audience’s top challenges and goals, so you can create content that speaks directly to their needs. Here are some questions to ask about your buyers:
What are their roles?
What industries do they work in?
What is their typical day like?
What are their top challenges?
What are their biggest goals?
How have their goals, needs and challenges changed from the last time you updated your buyer personas?
What stage(s) of the sales cycle do they influence?
Where do they get information about your products or services?
3. Speak to each stage of the sales cycle.
In Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, 61% of respondents said they selected vendors who delivered a mix of content that was appropriate for each stage of their buying process. Reviewing your buyer personas will help you see what topics will engage them during each stage of the sales cycle. Provide them with the information that they need when they move through the following stages:
4. Learn some new tricks.
Many B2B marketers create the same type of content all the time. For example, they might publish only sales materials or educational content. However, varying your topics will keep your audience more engaged. Mix it up by creating the following types of content:
5. Answer customer questions.
Your customer’s questions are a treasure trove of potential content. When you find a question, save it in a spreadsheet. Then, you can decide if you want to answer it in a new piece of content. What questions are customers asking in your forums? What are they emailing your sales and customer success reps about? What are they asking you on social media?
When you go through these steps, you’ll find a lot of great topic ideas. Which of these topics will your audience find the most compelling? Which topics will help you get the biggest bang from your content investment? Add these topics to your editorial calendar.
Want to learn more about how to fill your content calendar with topics that engage your target audience? Register for my session, “How to Plan Your B2B Content Calendar,” part of the Digital All Stars Virtual Summit on May 13th.
It’s no secret that content marketing has been all of the rage the last couple of years. Adoption rates, as reported by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), bear this out, too. That might lead many to believe that last year’s top digital marketing focus might have been content marketing.
That’s great, but there’s a little problem with that. CMI reports that only 37 percent of marketers believe their content is effective.
Since so many brands in a variety of industries are cranking out content, many of these verticals have moved from content deficits to surpluses in the last few years. There’s much more competition for online content consumers’ attention today than at any other time in history.
Early adopter brands are the ones mostly reaping the content marketing rewards. They earned their audiences when they were one of the only content producing brands in their industry.
In the time of content deficits, brands could mostly rely on organic social and search channels to deliver the audiences they sought. That dynamic has changed substantially in the last few years. Year over year growth in organic search queries is on the decline and Facebook’s organic visibility is quickly approaching zero.
Twitter announced last fall that it will be minimizing brands’ organic visibility, too. SEO isn’t what it used to be, either.
Today, it’s easier to earn a real audience that produces the signals Google and the other search engines use to determine relevance than it is to game their algorithms.
As a result, brands should focus on marketing their content using earned and paid channels, and not content marketing this year. Creating owned media, hitting the publish button, sharing it on social media and broadcasting to a small email list won’t cut it in 2015.
Marketers residing in the 63 percent that believe their content is ineffective are starting to figure this out. The ones that don’t will start to see company support for content marketing wane.
The Channels of Content Promotion
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It’s not a mystery why over the last several years a cornucopia of new and unique content promotion tools, networks and tactics have cropped up. The promise of search and social organically delivering game changing business results in a "build and they will come" strategy is a myth with today’s content surpluses.
That’s why a robust content promotion ecosystem that leverages both paid and earned media for a converged strategy exists.
Email marketing is one of the best tools in your digital marketing arsenal, and it should be used as a tool – carefully and with precise aim. Too many businesses still use email as a sort of spray-and-pray campaign, trusting in a big mailing list to bring in at least a few sales, even if the great majority of recipients trash the email immediately. After all, once you’ve put together an email campaign, it doesn’t cost you any more whether you send it to 20 or 2,000 people, right?
Wrong. Unfocused content and untargeted marketing can irritate your subscribers, resulting in unsubscribes, abuse reports, negative brand image, and lost sales. And it dilutes the impact your email marketing could otherwise have – so when you do finally have a great bit of content or a huge offer, subscribers won’t bother reading. Your mailing list is chock full of qualified leads, and it deserves more than general batch and blast emails.
Divide and Conquer Your List
In a recent post, CEO Susan Baroncini-Moe discussed the importance of honing your digital marketing efforts to your target markets, no matter the medium. The good news is that email marketing is one of the easiest to segment and target, and at a low cost as well. As long as you’ve kept good records and know how to sort through them, you can segment your mailing list and target all your messages.
Email marketing service provider MailChimp used results from 11,000 segmented campaigns, sent to over 9 million recipients, to research the benefits of segmenting your mailing list. Their results confirm what you’d generally expect – segmented campaigns had 19% higher open rates, and 22% higher click through rates, performing better across the board.
Experiment with Your Targets
If you’ve never segmented your mailing list before, start small and think carefully about divisions in your customer base. If, for example, your product sells well with grandparents and young parents, there are similarities there. But there are also differences that you can use to tailor your content and marketing pitch. Come up with a few strategies to test, and run a campaign based on these, keeping a careful eye on your analytics. Use data like CTRs, open rates, and sales to determine which approaches were successful and which performed poorly. Three ideas to get you started:
Time Triggered Emails
Run a list of every customer who purchased in the last month, 6 months, or year. They’re obviously interested in what you’re selling, or they wouldn’t be in this group – so hit them with helpful content to remind them what great services or products you offer, and, if you’re feeling generous, a discount voucher code to tempt them back to your sales funnel.
New Subscribers and Buyers
You wouldn’t want your sales team using the same pitch on first time perspective buyers that they use on loyal returning customers, would you? Hitting brand new subscribers to your mailing list with the same content you send everyone else isn’t the best way to nurture them into the fold.
Introduce yourself with thoughtful, quality content that really reflects your brand and voice, so that these new readers will get a sense of your business. Let them know how excited you are to have them on board, and ease them into the relevant sales messaging based on demographic data like age, gender, and location. These recipients haven’t seen your previous campaigns, so if you have older content or messaging that you’re particularly proud of, send it their way!
Subscribers Who Have Never Purchased
Ah, the possibilities! Recipients on your mailing list who have never actually completed a purchase represent a lot of opportunity. Whether they once downloaded your eBook or abandoned a shopping cart, these folks are interested but not yet eager. Do they really know what you have to offer, or how you can solve a problem they have? Are they aware of your free shipping and easy return policy? Let them know why customers choose you, and be specific. I’m a big believer in freebies and samples to coax in customers that could be loyal for life – read my blog on the subject here.
There are a million ways to segment your list, and you should try as many as are relevant to your marketing strategy and customer base – zip code, gender, age, interests, purchase history, cart history, etc. Track the data and determine which lists were most effective, and incorporate them into a strategic long-term plan. As long as your content is tailored to each list, and germane to their needs, you’ll find more success than with general eBlasts. Who on Earth wants to receive something called a blast?