Best of Online Marketing

Infographic: Content Marketing Strategy

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Editor’s note: To celebrate the launch of our New Content Marketing Certification, we've created an infographic to help you visualize the team, strategies, techniques and tactics you need to develop a successful Content Marketing strategy that will drive sales, engage consumers and improve ROI.

 

More than 3.5 billion pieces of content are shared each week on Facebook alone, and according to Technorati, 15% of bloggers spend ten or more hours each week blogging. With so much content on the web, it’s no wonder there is high demand for content marketing strategists.

The Online Marketing Institute is focused on providing you with the latest insights into digital marketing. Illustrations are a simple and exciting way to educate, so in the spirit of practicing what we preach, we've created an infographic to simplify the complex domain that is content marketing strategy.

Some key takeaways:

  • Content marketing is not limited to blog posts. Content can be published on micro-blogging networks, social media, apps for smartphones, or even in the form of audio podcasts. Wherever there's a crowd, there's a way to build your audience.
  • Channels to distribute content include your own website, forums or wikis, but it's beneficial to expand by strategically paying for spots on existing platforms. High quality content will end up on unaffiliated, third party sites, which is a massive boost to your brand.
  • Content marketing requires a diverse skillset. You should evaluate and utilize the talents that already exist in your company, and outsource where your workflow needs expanding.
  • Effective content marketing strategy requires an in-depth understanding of your target audience, which can be constructed using buyer personas. Combining data analysis with your company goals allows you to segment the group of people who will appreciate your content the most.
  • Almost all online content is found with the aid of Search Engines. SEO optimization is the most powerful way to build a widespread reach for content that lives on your own platform.

We hope you find this graphic useful and informative:

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Want to master content marketing? Get certified with OMI

 


The Future of Content Marketing for Digital Marketers: Consumer Insight

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Editor’s note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org.  To celebrate the launch of our New Content Marketing CertificationJosh joins us this month to discuss the most effective Content Marketing techniques for driving sales, engaging consumers and improving ROI.

There has been a growing trend in recent years for product-based companies to act like content companies, and content-based companies have started to create products. Why? Because brands that market both products and content are able to grip both handles of the holy grail of digital marketing: better consumer insight. Brands with the best consumer insight are those that collect qualitative and quantitative data to measure social engagement and sales results from their marketing strategies. They also tend to have the most successful digital marketing teams.

Generally speaking, it’s nearly impossible to predict the future of marketing with pinpoint accuracy. Nevertheless, we do know that brands who collect data on both content and products are able to develop consumer insight that allows for a higher degree of predictive accuracy when it comes to understanding consumer behavior. In this post, we'll give you three routes that digital marketers can go in order to explore content marketing as a way to develop insight into consumer behavior. All three routes follow the road of data analysis, which makes the prospect of conducting market research even more pressing (and more interesting) to digital marketers in the foreseeable future—especially those who intend to market both content and products.

1. Direct Consumer Interaction

Distilling a brand’s essence into a single unified message takes a fair amount of time and energy. Part of the distillation process should involve discovering how consumers react to your brand, a discovery that can take years of research and development. One of the fastest ways to make that discovery is going straight to the source: i.e., contacting the prospective consumers of your brand directly.

Young brands that don’t have unlimited resources but do have an idea about the kind of person who might like what they have to offer can accomplish this by following the Degrees of Separation Principle, which says that marketers should stick as close to their product or service as possible. Digital marketers can accomplish this by controlling content promotion down to the hour, monitoring content feedback by the notification, and responding directly to content questions on a regular basis.

Because this type of feedback comes straight from the source, interacting with consumers directly via simple media like email or instant messages can provide the best kind of consumer insight. Think of this as field work: a way of collecting qualitative data about who your customer base is, how they react to your brand, what they think about your brand’s place in relation to its competitors, and where they think it might go in the future.

2. Indirectly Express Brand Identity

For brands with slightly more resources, paying for and creating content that works to enlarge a brand’s ideas in the consumer’s mind is the next step towards building a brand identity. Part of this identity-building process should entail casting your ideological net far and wide, a task that can take years to accomplish, even with the the right kind of segmented prospecting and messaging. One of the best ways to accomplish this kind of growth is to follow the Don’t Be Literal Principle, which says that marketers shouldn’t be afraid to express brand identity more broadly and indirectly through sponsorship and metaphor. Digital marketers can accomplish this by writing online copy and developing brand content that can easily apply to our understanding of current cultural, political, or workplace issues at the same time as they advance the name of a brand itself.

Such content should be nonspecific and never advance an agenda too overtly, casting a net that is wide enough to capture prospective consumers’ attention and imaginations, while also working to establish your brand as a thought leader with a pulse on certain consumer preferences. Think of the web traffic, social engagement, backlinks, and other scalable metrics that follow sponsored content with metaphorical messaging as a distanced way to quantitatively measure the level of interest an audience has in some of the big ideas behind your brand.

3. Big Experimentation

For brands with the most resources, spending time and energy to develop large-scale social experiments that simultaneously attract an audience, interact with them, and engage their sense loyalty is the best route to go. Part of the process of testing the waters on such a large scale should involve pushing the limit of what your brand is capable of providing its consumers, as well as testing the limit of what consumers expect from you. One of the best ways to accomplish this kind of experimentation is by following The Wow Principle, which says that marketers should push the envelope of expectation by working to create new and amazing channels through that express brand identity in the most innovative way possible - ideally, in a way that makes consumers say “Wow.”

Digital marketers have the luxury of being able to achieve this level of audience reach, interaction, and engagement through innovative channels that are already available on the social web. All it takes for a brand to pull off this level of experimentation successfully is signing up for a content channel the brand wouldn’t normally be associated with, and mastering that channel’s method of expression. Denny’s did this with its Twitter profile, winning applause and renewed interest in its brand.

Think of the qualitative and quantitative data that result from such experimentation—whether it be social engagement, press coverage, or product sales—as valuable pieces of consumer insight that can be assembled to form new routes for your brand to take in the future.

Want to master content marketing? Get certified with OMI 

 

 


Two Big Reasons a Content Marketing Strategy is Essential to Building Your Small Business

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Editor’s note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our New Content Marketing Certification, Josh joins us this month to discuss the most effective Content Marketing techniques for driving sales, engaging consumers and improving ROI.

 

Successful small businesses tend to have a common denominator in their marketing strategies, and that is content.

A well-planned content marketing strategy can mean the difference between a brand that’s perceived by consumers as a thought leader, and a brand that’s perceived as a thought follower. The current emphasis placed on thought leadership means that a vitally important part of conducting a business is developing a unique brand voice and brand mission: a scope that reaches beyond the realm of product sales and into the realm of touching hearts and challenging minds.

Having a scope that goes above and beyond consumers’ expectations is especially necessary for companies that cultivate an online presence and develop a broad-based content marketing strategy. As more and more companies venture online, such a strategy has become essential to small business brand-building. Here are two big reasons why:

1. Consumers Crave Intellectual Stimulation

Almost 9 out of 10 U.S. citizens have a high school education, while 4 in 10 U.S. citizens have a college degree or higher. Mounting levels of educational attainment have meant that a greater portion of American consumers is well-educated. As the bar has been raised for education, so too have the standards which consumers hold businesses to. Compound those rising buyer standards with the widespread availability of consumer rankings, reviews, and other data that can be found at the touch of a screen, and we see that consumers have been conditioned to crave intellectual stimulation by the wealth of information at their fingertips, which allows them to think big about small business.

The big implication is that the more educated consumers become, the more content they expect to satisfy their demand for quality information about what they buy. The essential task for small businesses is satisfying consumers’ growing demand for quality information, as well as their sense of intellectual curiosity by filling the online void surrounding their brand names with as much authoritative content as possible. Accomplishing this task with consistency of voice, quality control, and an ability to ignite audience passion is essential to the success of any content marketing strategy. This is best accomplished by publishing information that strikes a balance between education and entertainment.

16-OMI-0001_DigitalBanners_DigitalFundamentals_300x250_Optimize_CM_v1c02. Small Businesses Need Consumer Insight

The Metrics Principle states that while publishing content for consumers is great in principle, it’s even greater when that content can offer measured feedback about consumer preferences and behavior. While this level of consumer insight is easier to come by for big businesses who have the money to spend on market research, it’s not so easily attained by small businesses. When juggling the costs associated with starting a small business, marketing is usually (and sometimes rightly) the first cost to cut. Focusing effort on developing a product that "markets itself" is the more pragmatic route a small business can take early on, because it is more prudent to measure quantitative progress in terms of product sales than it is to measure the qualitative progress of increasing the space a small business occupies in popular imagination.

In the long run however, product sales alone don’t allow us to see the whole picture surrounding the success of a small business. In fact, many small business owners have weathered times when product sales were low by developing content marketing strategies that expanded not only the space their brand occupied in popular imagination, but also their customer bases. The additional consumer insight that such strategies afford via social media data, search engine rankings, and online consumer reviews also provides an ample window for prospecting future avenues of small business development. Because having qualified leads is absolutely essential to making decisions about the long run, small businesses need this kind of consumer insight in order to plan for the future.

These extra layers of consumer expectation can become a liability for small businesses who either refuse to develop a content marketing strategy or do so poorly. The good news is that developing an effective content marketing strategy is one of the easiest ways to build a small business.

Want to master content marketing? Get certified with OMI

 


8 Tools for Managing Your Online Presence

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In order to be a digital marketing success, you must understand how to build your online presence. Why does that matter?

Without a good presence, it’s difficult to prepare your prospects for a sales pitch. After putting hours of hard work into building an online business, you want to make a great impression, and convert your leads into customers. But there's no need to go it alone: this list of tools will help increase your online presence, and boost success in your marketing efforts. Let’s get started!

1. Cyfe

Cyfe is an all-in-one dashboard for social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support, infrastructure, and a whole lot more. You can use this app to monitor all of your business data in one convenient location. Features include the ability to monitor individual departments and multiple websites, pre-built widgets, custom data sources, real-time reporting, historical data, data exports and interface customization. Users can set up dashboards from scratch using pre-built and custom widgets. To gain a better sense of how it works, check out this example of a Cyfe-powered web analytics dashboard. This tool will help you not to waste time and energy tracking data, so you can worry about the more important aspects of your business.

2. Brand24

If you want to know what people are saying about your brand, this tool is just what you need. Brand24 will immediately notify you of any online mentions so you can reach out to sales prospects, brand champions and disgruntled customers right away. Learn what people are really saying about your brand and use this information to improve on anything that isn’t working well, so you can improve your bottom line. Brand24 is also a great way to find publicity opportunities, and learn what your competitors are up to.

3. Wisestamp

Wisestamp generates professional email signatures that can help to grow your business. More than 650,000 professionals are using Wisestamp, and there are hundreds of signature templates to choose from. Whatever your field of work, there are enough templates, apps, and designs to find what you need to stand out and represent your business well. This tool can increase your reach across social networks, boost generated leads through the “Schedule A Meeting” app, and draw in more email replies simply by adding a photo: and this is all for free. The PRO version has even more functionality to generate clicks and website visitors

4. ClickMeeting

Webinars are a great way to generate interest for your business, and this tool enables you to create them quickly and easily. Using ClickMeeting, you can customize your webinars, analyze and follow up with attendees, and track the success of every event. These webinars can dramatically increase traffic to your site and boost sales. In conjunction with ClickMeeting, you can use your social media accounts as channels to keep traffic coming to your website, generate leads, and get your business more sales. While you have to pay for indefinite access, there’s also a considerable free trial period without any contracts. You have nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain, so get started today and get those webinars out there to the world!

5. Brandwatch

Brandwatch is another tool that will give you insight into what your customers are saying about your brand, and what they want from your business. This information is invaluable for building a direct marketing strategy that will speak to your audience and raise conversions. Brandwatch gives you instant access to customer conversations as they occur, so you are always up-to-date on the latest trends. You will also be able to identify threats as they arise, learn how to deal with them, and react smartly to anything that might impact your business. While the service is not cheap (starting at $500), it easily pays for itself depending on the size of your business, and if you aren’t sure, a free demo can help to assess whether it's right for you.

6. Kissmetrics

This tool allows you to segment your audience so you can target visitors by how they got to your site. Using Kissmetrics, you can set triggers to engage with customers based on their actions, and choose the behavior that visitors should display before you bother showing them your campaign. This process helps to identify and target viable prospects while weeding out those who just aren’t interested. Kissmetrics is easy to use, and provides five design templates to jumpstart your optimization. You can visit the site to request a demo and see for yourself how automated segmentation can help your business.

7. OptinMonster

If you want to convert website visitors into email subscribers, you need to start using this tool: OptinMonster allows you to create and A/B test awesome lead capture forms without having to bother with a developer, and the lead generation software will bring big results quickly. Features include the OptinMonster Builder, multiple form types, exit Intent technology, A/B split testing, page level targeting, and built-in analytics just to name a few. This tool works with all major email marketing services, as well as CMS and eCommerce platforms. Everything you need to grow an email list can be found right here, and it will only take you a few minutes to build high converting forms instead of several hours.

8. Mention

Use Mention to monitor your online presence from any location. You will enjoy real-time monitoring of brand mentions from social media and around the web. Track all of the important outlets including social media, blogs, forums, and more, so you can really focus on your brand and learn about your competitors. This tool will help you to attract new customers, build awareness, and improve your overall online reputation while allowing you to engage your audience and react to mentions right away. This tool will help you to handle a crisis when it arises, create reports, study your competition, and a whole lot more. Mention has iPhone and Android apps, and prices start at $29 a month.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Social Media Marketing Best Practices for SMBsEmail Newsletter Foundations: A Roadmap for SuccessCrisis Management with Social Media

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here!

 


 


How to Develop a Crushing Video Marketing Strategy

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Video was bound to become the new go-to marketing tool sooner or later. Good videos can communicate as effectively as text and image based content, and often more powerfully. With new video sharing technologies and a myriad of formats to choose from, video should become an integral part of any marketing campaign. Since this is still a relatively new medium, marketers are still in the process of understanding what works best and what goes into making a crushing video marketing campaign. To help you along the way, here’s a list of points to consider when developing your video marketing strategy.

Choosing the Right Type of Video

There are so many video formats and techniques you can choose from, it can be overwhelming. Each can accomplish a different set of goals, so when it comes to choosing the right one, you should consult the broader plan for promoting your business. One of the first things you need to consider is video length - a conventional TV commercial lasts for about 30-45 seconds. On the internet, video ads can last even longer than that, since they are not constrained by the rules that apply to TV ads.

When it comes to choice of style or format, there are a number of valid choices. Animation tends to be the preferred format when it comes to explainer videos, since it can easily represent abstract concepts. Animations are also much easier to make than live action videos, and offer a broader range of stylistic choices and storytelling options.

Live-action videos with actors, props and sets can be more expensive, but they also lend a certain credibility to your brand. This format is especially suited for testimonial videos, which are also fairly easy to produce. Unfortunately, effective live-action videos can be more expensive and less permissive than animation. Both of these styles have a place, so take some time to consider what will work best for your individual needs.

Hire a Team of Professionals

When it comes to the production of your videos, there is a lot of free video-making software you can use. These may suffice for some organizations, but tend to offer only basic customization options. It’s also likely that many other companies use these free programs, so your video may end up looking like those produced by many other companies. That runs counter to the whole point of crafting a video strategy: to generate brand awareness, and create a memorable look for your business. With generic tools and software, it’s unlikely you will be able to create a memorable video. And failure to differentiate can mean the failure of your entire strategy.

If you’re looking to develop an amazing video marketing strategy, there’s no better option than to hire a professional team. Trust these video professionals to handle the creative side of things, and you can focus on strengthening the rest of your campaign.

Know Your Audience

Obviously you should enjoy the final cut of your video, but remember, you are not the target audience; your customers are. 

So, when you are planning the strategy, it is them you should be thinking about. Consider the age group you are addressing, but also the context in which these videos are likely to be seen. Are customers going to view them at work? In that case, you should invest in videos with a focus on descriptive imagery, so the story is easy to understand even with the sound turned off. Is your audience more likely to view the videos on mobile devices? In this case, animations with simple shapes and bright colors can work better for the relatively small screens of smartphones or tablets.

You don’t need to do special research to understand what kinds of videos your audience will appreciate. You can target your audience using the same metrics you’ve used for other marketing strategies. You can certainly ask more specific questions as the campaign evolves, but to begin, you can segment your audience in much the same way you have for other purposes.

Don’t Neglect Entertainment Value

When creating video campaigns, many companies focus on providing their customers with information about their business, offers and promotions. And that’s definitely what the ultimate goal of a video campaign should be. 

But that agenda is only relevant  to you and your company. Audiences certainly want to learn something by watching a video, but they also expect videos to be entertaining. Ignoring entertainment value will make your videos dry and uninteresting, and in the end, your audience may tune out your humorless infodump.

That is why, no matter what information you want to share, you must consider how you’re going to package it. The best way to get your audience’s attention and keep it is crafting  a story around the information you want to deliver. Envision a situation in which that information could become relevant to your customer and say something meaningful about it. Entertaining stories can bridge the gap between your business offers and solutions, and your customers’ needs and preferences.  

Consider Each Part of the Video

Creating a compelling story for your video might seem like a daunting task. But you don’t have to be an award-winning scriptwriter or director to understand how to craft a video that delivers a message effectively. The key is timing the different segments of the video so they form a coherent narrative. In a sense, it’s not much different than writing good text, which is why videos always begin as a written script.

You will have an introduction. This is where you establish your character/characters and the context in which the story happens. Next, you’ll want to establish some sort of conflict or issue that needs to be resolved. The middle of the story is the climax: how the issue escalates, and the implications of that escalation.

Arguably, the most important part is the ending, or resolution. Here you will weave your solutions into the plot. This is the message you want to communicate: that your solution solved a problem for the characters. How you end your video determines the meaning of the content, and the effect it will have on your viewers.

Don’t Give it All Away in One Go

Depending on how long you want your campaign to last, you should also consider the broader story your videos will construct. In order to make your whole strategy effective, you need to spread out information, and deliver it bit by bit.

That way, audiences will keep coming back for more. Curiosity is a very powerful force, and if you’ve hit the mark with your first couple of videos, your viewers will be hooked. Resist the temptation to give it all away in the first try, or your viewers won’t have any reason to tune in later.

If you do want to extend a campaign that’s been going well to maximize its potential, you can switch up the format you’ve established. Perhaps change styles in a radical way. But always try to maintain the same basic tone and principle. Serialized videos need to have some consistency in order for your audience to see the bigger picture that is fundamentally about your company, and how it is relevant to them.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

Author bio: Cristopher Tuckerman is a digital marketing strategist and a zealous writer who's interested in all things SEO and design-oriented. He believes that since almost 50% of our brain is involved in visual processing and 70% percent of our sensory receptors are eyesight related, it’s reckless not to be interested in design principles. Do yourself a favor and follow Cris’ advice: make your business more visually striking!

 


Do Your Marketing Videos Cause “Failure to Differentiate”?

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Workplace with person working on laptop watching video player, concept of webinar, business online training, education on computer, e-learning concept, video tutorial vector illustration

Person watching marketing video

When buyers can’t figure out what differentiates a company’s solution, bad things happen:

  • They rule out the company.
  • They spend more time consulting third parties.
  • They put off the decision.
  • They just do nothing.

That’s according to a recent Gartner report titled “Failure to Differentiate.”

I’ve come to believe that the traditional approach to technology “explainer” videos may be contributing to the buyer’s failure to differentiate.

How traditional explainer videos can get in the way of differentiation

“Explainer” videos have been around for a dozen years or so. They started with IT solution and software vendors who needed to explain unfamiliar concepts that are hard to grasp quickly in text format — concepts like business process management, service oriented architecture, etc. These short video overviews became popular with tech companies and their salespeople as a way to engage prospects with content that was quick and easy to understand.

The traditional approach was straightforward: tell the viewer what problem you solve, how you solve it, and how it all pays off. This is still how most explainer videos are structured.

The trouble is that now there are many more technology solution vendors who claim to “solve” the same problem in different ways. And so many short videos are competing to get buyers to do something. The result is that the buyer is seeing lots of videos that start out with dramatizations of the same problem.

It’s true that animated characters coping unsuccessfully with problems have featured in terrific cartoons for more than a century [seek out Fantasmagorie (1908) on YouTube]. But in view of today’s short attention spans, the first 20 seconds or so of a video are crucial. If differentiation is your goal, you probably shouldn’t use those 20 seconds to tell the same story others are telling — even if you tell it better.

Stories around buyer motivations

A 2015 OpenView B2B Buyer Insight survey set out to find out what motivates buyers to contact salespeople. This is interesting from the standpoint of explainer video production for two reasons:

  1. Explainer videos are generally viewed during the part of the buyer’s journey where the buyers are doing their own research and actively avoiding contact with salespeople
  2. The main purpose of a technology solution video is to get the viewer to seek more information — the same thing they do when they reach out to sales

Here are the main reasons buyers said they would reach out to a salesperson:

  • To research a market
  • To replace a solution that isn’t working well
  • To bring about a major change in the organization

Keeping these motivations in mind as you plan out a video makes sense. You will develop the story buyers want to hear, and one that will immediately differentiate your message from the old problem-solution-benefits story your competitors are probably telling.

Videos for buyers researching a market

Buyers who are researching a market are probably not trying desperately to get out from under some problem — more likely, they wonder what cool new thing they might be missing. This calls for a cooler approach — like dramatizing the new possibilities your solution opens up for them. For example, Cisco’s Workload Automation solution has been around for a while (as Tidal Enterprise Scheduler), but was recently updated to integrate cloud and big data workloads. This is good news, but it means different things for people with different responsibilities. If you’re responsible for Big Data jobs, you may be looking into better ways of getting data into and out of the Hadoop ecosystem. If your responsibilities extend across a hybrid data center, things would be better if you could integrate new kinds of workloads into the job schedule. Cisco made short videos geared to these specific points of view, in addition to a traditional product overview. Same product, but different messages about big data workloads and hybrid cloud integration.

Buyers motivated to replace an existing solution

Many IT managers in non-profit performing arts organizations are looking to replace existing box office management and ticketing solutions because older solutions lack agility and don’t talk to software used in other parts of the organization — notably marketing and fundraising.

A video we produced for the software vendor PatronManager redefines the problem instead of dramatizing it. Instead of contrasting the confusion of siloed systems with the efficiency of integrated operations, the video simply shows how everyone can easily share quality data on the people who support the organization by buying tickets and making donations, and how that contributes to business success. You can see the PatronManager video here.

Buyers motivated to bring about a major change in the organization

Buyers who are eager to bring about a change certainly don’t need to be told what you think their problem is. You just need to encourage them to find out more about your better way of doing things. It’s “Here’s something you can change right now” (vs. “Here’s what we can do for you”)

So, for example, Software AG is a vendor active in the government market for solutions to help improve government service delivery. So their explainer video on the subject starts out “Sometimes, you just need an app.” It assumes that the viewer is motivated to make a big change in how things are done, and shows how new applications can be quickly assembled from pre-built components in the cloud. You can view the Software AG explainer video here.

Thinking differentiator-ly

The examples here are not templates for videos or meant to be prescriptive. They do illustrate our conviction that if you want to differentiate your solution, you need to stop talking about problems your buyers already know about.

A good way to come up with different approaches is to think about some of the reasons buyers reach out to sales — which are probably the same reasons they have for visiting your website and watching your videos.

  • To learn about what’s new in the market
  • To replace a solution that isn’t working well
  • To bring about a major change in the organization

Giving buyers some of the information they’re looking for in a video will encourage them to seek more information. And we believe that should be the goal for a tech company’s videos.

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.

About the Author:

Since 2004, Bruce McKenzie, founding partner of 2 Minute Explainer has been developing videos to increase sales engagement for companies such as IBM, Cisco, Brocade, Compuware and many B2B technology startups. His free guide “Apply eLearning insights to improve your technology marketing videos” shows tech marketers how they should be designing their videos for sales enablement. Download this free guide here.

 


What’s the Best Strategy When Making a Viral Video?

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While some people might get lucky when it comes to getting a video to go viral, most of the time when it comes to videos made by brands, there is a highly tactical strategy in place before the video ever gets made. Did you know for example that the average viral video is anywhere between 15 seconds and five minutes. 15 seconds you might ask? Well think about Vine and its highly popular six second loops.

The golden rule of course for making any video with the aim of getting it to go viral is to focus on extracting an emotional response from the video’s target audience. Whether your aim is to make them laugh through slapstick comedy antics, make them cry with a heartfelt sob story or make them angry by purposely portraying a controversial topic in all its grandeur, the bottom line is connecting your audience with a story they will want to watch.

Have a look at the below infographic for a snapshot of top tips to assist you when planning a viral video, or for a more in-depth read around the strategies behind them, see this guide produced by One Productions.

one-productions-top-tips-to-make-viral-videos-igWant 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.

 


Top Lead Generation Strategies for Startups & Small Businesses

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43864555 - lead generation - letters on wooden desk with laptop computer and a notebook. 3d render illustration.

Let’s face it. Running a business is a lot of work.

You have to deal with long hours, sleepless nights and tight budgets. Tons of things that just suck the life out of you. Stress just keeps on building. But you’re cut out to be an entrepreneur and never give up.

You figure out that digital marketing is the next big thing, your ultimate chance to best the competition. So you launch a website, write several blog posts, and create social media accounts to share stuff. But for some reason it’s just not working.

Why?

Sergey Grybniak, a digital marketing expert and founder of clever-solution.com, knows the answer. He’s sure that owners of small businesses and startups make one very glaring mistake: They focus on driving visitors, not generating leads.

I am going to interview Sergey to find out more about the best lead generation strategies that bolster conversion rates and are guaranteed to shoot revenue through the roof.

Sergey, what’s the thing with lead generation?

Generating leads is the most important objective for every business owner. And you know why? Because leads mean money.

Let’s have a closer look at how businesses do digital marketing. They are obsessed with getting more visitors, and invest thousands of marketing dollars to drive traffic to their product pages.

While having lots of visitors is vital, it doesn’t make sense if a business lacks the tools to convert and close them. If owners just tried to capture leads, they would turn their marketing into an effective revenue generator. But what they actually do is more like using carpet bombing vs. laser-targeted missiles.

Businesses need money. So, let’s get to the point. What’s your first lead generation strategy?

This strategy is quite hard to master: Learn the mechanics of online lead generation.

Most business owners are bad at lead generation because they know nothing about it. Let’s do some learning together, shall we?

The lead generation process is based on four crucial elements: offer, CTA, landing page and form.

Your product or service is your offer. And your goal is to make it irresistible.

How? Rely on psychological tips and tricks. Use limited-time and limited-quantity offers to show your prospects that they may be missing out on a good offer. The law of scarcity will spur them on to convert.

You can rely on a tried-and-tested tribal effect as well. Convey a message that others love your product and reduce anxiety with social proof. Humans often copy each other – take advantage of it.

Your next element is call-to-action. Ensure that your CTA:

●  Stands out “above the fold”

●  Has a clear copy

●  Is linked to a dedicated landing page

●  Matches with the landing’s title

A landing page is your secret sauce. Use it wisely to reinforce the message about your product's benefits.

How? Well, tweak and test relentlessly until you come up with:

●  A catchy title

●  A subtitle with the offer description

●  Up to five “value” bullet points

●  A visually appealing image

●  A clickable and noticeable CTA

●  User-friendly social buttons

●  A neat form to fill out

The final element is a conversion form. Test it well because users hate long, unfriendly forms. Minimize the number of fields to fill out.

When you master these four elements, your conversion rate will improve. And, moreover, you will have a clear picture of how your funnel with the sales prospects is actually doing.

This strategy isn’t a dark art but still rather complex. What about the second one?

Unfortunately, it’s not too simple either: Rely on multi-channel lead generation. You should promote your product using as many marketing channels as you can.

Blogging, email marketing, social media, organic search – every little thing matters.

Though it takes some time to learn how to capture leads with blog content, emails, social posts, or through organic search, it’ll help you get the right marketing mix to spur your business on.

And what can any business owner do right now? I mean, do you have any kind of a foolproof strategy?

Absolutely! And this one is just a piece of cake: Register on lead generation platforms.

There are dozens of platforms to drive free leads from. As a rule, these are digital marketplaces. Your goal is to find ones that fit the needs of your business.

If you lease cars, search for marketplaces that provide car leasing services (e.g. Carvoy, ZipCar). If you own more of a mixed-bag company, register on jack-of-all- trades marketplaces (e.g. Opporty). Want to make a bigger splash in the travel industry? Get your company noticed on Vericost or Rome2rio. It is a little more difficult than just submitting your company to some directory. You should be connected to information distribution networks. But once it is done you can get get a significant amount of orders absolutely for free.

There’s no shortage of examples.

And it’s not rocket science! Just find a marketplace, register, and bring in leads to your website. Anyone can do it.

Any final thoughts?

I’d like to sum it up. Basically, you have five strategies to generate leads:

  • Learn about online lead generation mechanics
  • Utilize multiple marketing channels
  • Register on lead generation platforms (marketplaces)
  • Build strategic partnerships
  • Hire a professional digital marketing agency

The first four depend on each other in a sense that they require hard work and constant fine tuning on your part. The fifth is a one-size-fits-all strategy.

Thanks for joining me, Sergey. Pleasure talking to you.

Interested in digital classes on the topics discussed above? OMI recommends the below classes to get started:

Increase Lead Generation Quality, Conversion, and Velocity, Creating Content that Converts, How to Build a Lead Nurtuting Campaign, and How to Generate High Quality Leads with Paid Search

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

 


How to Create a Successful Online Ad Campaign to Accomplish Brand Awareness

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Man creating brand awareness campaign Concept

Man creating brand awareness campaign

While technology has significantly changed how companies market their products and services over the years, the guiding principles behind successful advertising campaigns have remained constant.

Before you launch an advertising campaign, whatever the media and channels, you first must know be able to answer these questions:

  • What is the marketing budget?
  • How long will the ad campaign run?
  • What are your marketing goals?
  • Who is your audience?
  • How will you measure your marketing goals?

It also helps to know what your competitors are doing. More on that later.

First things first

Let's not put the shopping cart before the horse, so to speak. That is, one of your first tasks is to determine the campaign's overall goal. If your goal is to sell products or services, you will be creating a much more aggressive campaign than if your goal is to increase brand awareness.

You can find a great deal of information on digital advertising campaigns designed to drive conversions. Somewhat less prevalent are articles focusing on the creation of online advertising campaigns simply designed to create brand awareness. We're talking apples and oranges or, in this case, conversions and clicks.

The ultimate goal of an online brand awareness campaign typically is to drive traffic to your site. Once the visitor clicks through to your site, you have the opportunity to educate and engage via relevant, valuable content. But we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here.

Your ad campaign will be impacted by the factors listed above, which means you may have to tweak your original goals along the way. For example, if your original goal was simply to create top-of-mind awareness for your brand, you might want to inundate the web with banner ads. You would place ads based more on reach and frequency than on targeting a specific audience. However, if your online marketing budget is limited, you probably would have to rethink such a broad-based approach.

Consistency is key

You may not be able to blanket the web with your banner and search ads, but you can (and should) be consistent in your creative efforts. In doing so, you will build visual recognition with your online audience. Over time, elements such as your color scheme, logo and fonts will instantly resonate with viewers.

The banner ads below are good examples of consistency in advertising. It just so happens the ads are promoting BP, which has had to dig its brand out of the PR hole created by the oil spill back in 2010. And with the release of the "Deepwater Horizon" movie, the BP brand may take a bashing again.

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A brand awareness campaign such as BP's hovers between the worlds of advertising and public relations. Because BP is already a known brand, the overarching goal may be brand awareness, with a campaign devoted specifically to altering the public's perception of the brand.

Note, too, the call to action (CTA) for each of the banner ads. It is not an "in-your-face" CTA like BUY NOW. Instead, the CTAs encourage the viewer to "Learn more" or "Read the Report." In the most simplified sense, brand awareness campaigns are soft sell vs. hard sell.

In fact, your brand awareness campaign could be the precursor to a straight sales campaign. This ties in perfectly with the consumer buying process:

AWARENESS --->  RESEARCH --->  EVALUATION --->  COMMITMENT

Just keep in mind that it most likely will take longer to see results from a brand awareness campaign. Patience and persistence will pay off in the long run.

If you want to learn more about brand strategy and awareness, OMI recommends How To Be The Most Talked About Brand. 

How to get the most bang for your buck

The Google Ad Network is a popular choice for setting up a digital advertising campaign. According to Google AdSense, the most successful banner ad sizes are:

  • 336x280 large rectangle
  • 300x250 medium rectangle
  • 728x90 leaderboard
  • 300x600 half page
  • 320x100 large mobile banner

Whether you're resizing an image within each ad or the ads themselves, this can eat up a lot of valuable time. That's when a tool like the Image Resizer comes in handy. Simply upload your image, plug in the desired width and height in pixels, and you've got yourself a resized image.

The tool also comes in handy when prepping ads and images for social media. That's right, don't overlook advertising on social media sites. These can be particularly effective for brand awareness campaigns. Admittedly, it all can be a quite overwhelming. Here's a helpful guide to ad sizes on social media.

With search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns, be careful in your keyword bidding. If you're running more than one campaign at a time, you don't want to bid against yourself. With Google AdWords, you can use the AdWords Editor to avoid duplicate keywords.

As mentioned above, it's important to know what your competition is up to online. This is especially true when it comes to keyword bidding. Your competitor may be bidding on your brand name, and you can return the favor.

If you want to learn more about Social Media and Branding, OMI recommends Brand Advocacy Strategies for Social Media.

Getting them to 'click' with your content

So someone clicked on your ad and ended up on your website; now what? Your first inclination might be to take the visitor to your home page. For best results, however, create a dedicated landing page. Even better, create (and test) several landing pages to see which ones perform best. If you don't have the bandwidth or budget to design multiple landing pages, use an online service such as Unbounce, which provides landing page templates (no HTML coding needed).

The content on the landing page should follow search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. It also should be tailored to complement the banner ad. That way, when the visitor arrives at your page, there is no disconnect. It's a seamless experience. We often think of site design and functionality when we're discussing user experience (UX), but content also can dramatically affect the online experience.

Are we there yet?

How do you know if your brand campaign is a success? Many marketers are leery of brand awareness campaigns because they can be more difficult to measure. But that's the beauty of digital advertising; it's easy to track your campaigns online.

In addition to monitoring your Google and other paid search campaigns, you can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to track the volume of searches for your brand name.

Be sure to conduct social listening, as social networking sites offer keen insights into how consumers react to your brand (or not). Several social listening platforms, such as Hootsuite, offer both free and paid plans.

Assuming you've integrated an email component into your online campaign (as you should), you also could conduct a survey to gauge brand awareness.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

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Darcy Grabenstein is a freelance copywriter with more than 20 years experience in print and digital advertising. In the digital world, she has worked extensively with e-commerce and email campaigns. Connect with her on LinkedIn.