Content Marketing

The True Price of Weak Customer Service

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“One of the biggest mistakes companies make is that they view the customer’s purchase as a transaction versus an interaction. There is more than a subtle difference here. A transaction has an ending.”

Shep Hyken, top social customer service pro

Customer service is the most neglected aspect of effective marketing. Wait, customer service is marketing?

Yes, in two ways: one, it’s marketing to customers you want to become repeat customers. Two, it’s marketing to leads who watch how you interact with your existing customers.

Any business that isn’t treating customer service as a vital part of its marketing activities is leaving money on the table.

Salesforce reported that bad customer service costs American businesses $84bn every year; worldwide, that figure was $338.5bn. Repeat customers are the lifeblood of any business, yet only 27% of initial-purchase customers become repeats. What if we could use better customer service to hang on to a few more repeat customers? Well, since 78% of customers have walked away from a business due to poor customer service (Source: American Express), there’s a good chance that we can.

Maybe these stats don’t apply to you, though. After all, you hardly ever get a complaint.

Neither does anyone else. Only 4% of dissatisfied customers complain… to you. They tell their friends, though – and they’re twice as likely to pass on a bad experience as a good one. 96% don’t complain; 91% will never come back. In fact, if a 2008 Accenture report can still be believed, the real cause of business churn is poor customer service.

Sounds like a problem that needs fixing, but we need to understand it first. Let’s start with the customer: what do customers want?

What do customers want?

Customers expect prompt customer service from knowledgeable, trained individuals. When they don’t get it, they leave. That’s the clear picture from years of customer research.

On the phone, 75% of customers think they’re using the best channel for them to communicate with a business – but if they don’t get to speak to a real person, right away, 53% get irritated. When they did get through to someone, the result was unsatisfactory: customers said service agents failed to answer their question 50% of the time (Source: Harris Interactive).

Off the phone, the key channel for customer interactions is social media. Here, the gulf between what customers say they expect and what they’re getting is most dramatic. Customers say they want to hear back from brands. On Twitter, 14% of customers expect a response immediately, and 65% expect one in less than 2 hours. And what do they actually get? About 71% of the time they get no response at all (Source: Maritz Research).

Say you were in an industry where you lost 2.27% of your revenue – average monthly customer churn for a US wireless carrier (Source: Statista) – out of holes in your employees’ pockets. I’m guessing you’d start looking into thread. Or say you were in a business where 5% to 7% of your money – average SaaS churn rate (Source: Bessemer Venture Partners) – just blew away because you left the door open. Or what if it was 20% to 25% a – the average rate for retail banks (Source: Pitney Bowes)? You’d shut the door, I guess.

But every business is in the customer business. And customers are walking away – 25% of them every year, in some industries – and it’s overwhelmingly because of service. Not product, not price, but service. So when they’re telling us what they want so clearly, isn’t it time customer service was as much of a priority to us as it is to our customers?

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Measure Your Service

Start by finding out where you are right now. It’s hard to know exactly what to do if you don’t have any idea what your customer service currently looks like. Use customer feedback questionnaires. Try getting ‘mystery shoppers’ to try out customer service. You can take this further and check your Net Promoter Score. (Another good indicator is your churn rate!)

If you want to get a deeper view, try ClientHeartbeat – you’ll get in-depth analytics on customer satisfaction details. Moreover, the creators claim a customer feedback response rate three to five times the average, so you’ll have a clearer idea of where you need to improve.

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  1. Train Your Staff

Once you’re clear on the strengths and weaknesses of your current customer service provision, it’s time to start training your staff. Way too many companies take on customer service staff and just throw them in at the deep end, with poor pay, minimal training, no support, no authority – and they don’t do a great job.

But in those circumstances, it’s not surprising. Staff need to know what to do, and they need to know why. Start by explaining to service staff what good customer service is. Talk to them about how to handle difficult customer situations in an appropriate way – and actually train them; don’t just give them a ten-minute talk about it. One service staff member who reacts badly on a chat or social channel could be the thing your company gets known for worldwide!

  1. Support Customer Service Like You Would Sales and Marketing – Because That’s What They Do

Customer service is sales and marketing to people who have already made a purchase. Treat it that way. High-level training that’s geared towards satisfied customers will produce greater customer satisfaction, lower churn and more repeat purchases.

But it takes more than training on the phone or instructions on how to handle a tricky chat. Staff need technical support too. Teach them how to use social media channels, especially Facebook and Twitter, in an appropriate manner. Teach them how to use a wider range of customer service tools. The phone isn’t enough anymore: specialist social media training is still necessary because although most of your employees know how to use social media, they don’t know how to use it for customer service. Get them the equipment they need to deliver customer service that wows – because for many customers, customer service is the most important thing you do.

Since content forms the core of new age digital marketing, integrate your content marketing with customer service. And there’s no better form of content than video to do it most effectively. Anything that requires significant instruction or is visual can be dealt with by creating a video. Evan Hamilton wrote a great post on the UserVoice blog advocating the use of video in customer service.

You’d do well to invest in a tool like ClickMeeting to run webinars for explaining features of your product, one-on-one private chats for customer service, as well as moderated videoconferences with focus groups or brand advocates.

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  1. Make Customer Service the Center of Your Company Culture

Sales is at the heart of many company’s cultures. But sales is customer service, to customers who haven’t made a purchase yet. Customer service is sales. Put it right in the center of your company culture. Talk about it. Post big signs in the lobby congratulating the most effective customer service team. Consider incentivizing customer satisfaction the way you incentivize sales.

This unity of purpose between marketing, sales and customer services is increasingly recognized in CRM software like the modular Zoho, which offers a Service package, or Sage. Even the mighty, sales-focused Salesforce comes with dedicated service functionality.

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  1. Let Your Team Work

Your staff know what to do. They have the tools. Let them do it. Give them the authority to control how they operate.

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Image (Modified under CC license)

Wrapping Up

Learning to see every part of your business as part of an ongoing interaction with customers is difficult. But the rewards are clear. Happy, satisfied clients will recommend you to their friends, advocate for you on social media (and hopefully in their lives), and leave you positive reviews. They’ll also be back to make more purchases. And customers themselves are saying the way to do it is great customer service.

 


Over 90% of Companies Lack Digital Skills – And What You Can Do About It

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What is the digital talent gap?

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
  • Social media
  • Mobile devices
  • Cloud

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.

We’d love to help you empower your team. Visit our Corporate Training Page or send us an inquiry.

 

 


The One Thing Marketers Must Do Before Diving Into Email Marketing

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Want to know what the Obama pic is all about? You'll have to read to the bottom to find out...

Contrary to what some say, the data over the past few years has continued to demonstrate that email marketing still holds water to many other marketing tactics. Earlier this year I discussed why email marketing is still a front runner for marketers. Below is a quick recap.

According to the most recent Oracle Marketing Cloud Study, email continues to remain in the top three initiatives (2nd) for marketers  - namely because of the huge ROI it continues to offer.

  • Email marketing ROI is about $44 for every $1 spent

Need some more email stats to back up that claim, here you go:

  • 91% of consumers check their email daily
  • On a daily basis consumers interact with 11 brands on email (compared to 9 on Facebook and 8 on Twitter)
  • 48% of consumers say they prefer to communicate with brands via email
  • 44% of consumers made at least one purchase based on a promotional email they received
  • 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message

So let’s get to the point of this post. The above stats help us understand why we need to continue to pay attention to our email marketing. Before you recommit to revamping or revisiting your email marketing do this one thing - check your senders score.

Why it’s important:

Your sender score is an indicator of the trustworthiness of your IP address. So - why is that important? Your IP address is used by email providers to determine how to filter your message (read: whether or not YOU go to spam).

How do you check it? Do the following:

  1. Find an email, newsletter, announcement etc., sent from the email address your want to check
  2. View the full header of that email by
  • In Gmail - click the down arrow on the top right hand corner of the email and scroll down to ‘show original,’ then find the IP address. Go to https://senderscore.org/ , create and account, and plug it in

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How to read the score:

Anything over 95 is good, anything less than 95, and you need to take a deeper look into your deliverability. After all, why spend hours on emails campaigns and strategies if no one is getting them in the first place?

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This is an image of the top preforming subject lines as researched by Barack Obama’s re-election campaign team. They did a ton of email marketing research and testing. Tailor them to your message and presto! Even better, do an A/B test with these vs. your old subject lines.

 

 

 


Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends For 2016

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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.

Recommended class: Using Social Media to Create Engagement by Kevin Popovic - Founder of Ideahaus

 

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.

 

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Recommended class: Trending Social Apps: Pinterest, Vine and Snapchat  by Kelsey Jones owner of MoxieDot

 

3) Content Remains King

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.

Recommended class: Content Marketing for Social Media by Neal Schaffer, Founder of Maximize Social Business

 

4) Location Based Marketing Technology

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.

Recommended class: Improve Relationship Marketing Using Social Media by Brian Basilico, owner of B2B Interactive Marketing, Inc.  

 

6) Marketing Automation

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.

 

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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!

 

Happy Holidays!

 

 


Small-Budget Marketing Ideas for the Holiday Season

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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.

Holiday Vines

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:

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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.

Top Tips

  • 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.

Holiday Emails

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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.

Top Tips

  • 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.

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Web Banners

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.

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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.

Content

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.

However, you need to start early. Create indirect branded content (including infographics) on holiday themes, such as:

  • 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.

Smart Gifts

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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.

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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!

 


E-mail Marketing Still a Front Runner for Marketers, and Social Media Steals the Bronze from SEO

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As marketers, we must choose, and prioritize, our marketing efforts. So what are most marketers up to? According to a new study by Oracle Marketing Cloud, Website, E-mail, and Social Media, are top priorities for the year to come. Website remains a front runner for obvious reasons. These days, as digital marketing continues to gain more and more traction, and consume at least 25% of marketing budgets, a website is the cornerstone from which marketers plan, strategize, and execute digital marketing efforts. Similarly, as the trend toward purchase via mobile increases at a lightning pace, a poorly optimized website can be an e-commerce disaster.

In second place we have e-mail, still, contrary to what some might believe, continues to offer huge ROI, about $44 for every $1 spent. And if you need more stats to back that up, check these out: 91% of consumers check their e-mail daily, and on a daily basis consumers interact with 11 brands on e-mail (compared to 9 on Facebook and 8 on Twitter), 48% of consumers say they prefer to communicate with brands via e-mail. And more on that RIO, 44% of consumers made at least one purchase based on a promotional e-mail they received, and 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an e-mail marketing message. You can’t argue with those numbers.

Interestingly, Social Media Marketing took third place, replacing SEO. Social allows a company to gain peer recommendations at the click of a like. A positive note on a social channel is free advertising, and, if you’re an e-commerce company, a free endorsement for your product. That endorsement becomes increasingly important as the buying trends become more and more dependent on peer recommendations vs. internet search and research. Social media also allows a company to respond to criticism in real time, buy your way in front of a target audience, and - an active social media community drives high quality traffic to your website. The majority of links that are built by SEO companies do not bring traffic to your website. These links may help increase the authority and power of your site, but in terms of traffic, it doesn’t do much. Social media also allows marketers a constant audience, and, interestingly, search engines are now taking into account social signals when ranking websites. The more social shares, interaction, or activity you have, the higher your search engine rankings. Assuming this doesn’t change anytime soon, you can understand why Social has snatched Bronze from SEO.

 

 


Digital Marketing Weekly Roundup: 5 Stories You Don’t Want to Miss (9/4/15)

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Every week we will scour the Internet for the most useful and interesting articles on digital marketing - so you don't have to. Here are our top picks for for the week, enjoy!

  1. What IS Digital Marketing Strategy?

This article provides great examples of the importance of a digital strategy.  The average person is exposed to over 5000 messages a day, and as a marketer, you need a developed digital strategy to ensure your message reaches your audience.

  1.  How to Implement a Killer Online-Marketing Strategy for $15 a Week

Online Marketing doesn't have to break the bank. Here are four ways you can maximize your lead generating efforts while staying on a $15 a week budget.

  1. Make a Monthly Content-Marketing Check-In a Must-Do

Here's a quick guide on how to measure your marketing plan.  By regularly measuring, you can develop a great content marketing strategy.

  1. Back To Basics: Why You Should Try A Minimalistic SEO Strategy

This article highlights the basics of SEO strategy. Although your business may be small, you can still take advantage of SEO with these tactics.

  1. 7 Twitter SEO Tips: Leverage Your Social Presence For Better Traffic!

With Google now being able to access Twitter's full stream of tweets, Twitter visitors have increased 10 times.  This article has 7 SEO tips to help you get ahead.

 


6 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Conversions From Your Content

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Content marketing has been the flavor of the season for a handful of “seasons” now. And by the looks of it, we’re going to enjoy its company for a long time to come.

A sure sign of its popularity is seeing every business, no matter how big or small, jump headfirst into the choppy waters of content marketing. A recent study by Content.ly showed that about a quarter of all businesses allocate over 50% of their marketing budgets to content marketing. Nearly 60% of businesses have at least two people devoted to content marketing.

content marketing for conversions

However, not all of these content marketing efforts are actually paying off. If all content marketing was equal, every company engaged in content marketing today would be in the Fortune 500 list – but that doesn’t happen.

All too often the content created by businesses is well meaning but lacks the teeth required to cut through all the clutter on the web. Here are the top 6 ways content marketers go wrong, leading to content that never takes off.

1.  Content Not Relevant

Content marketing is all about creating valuable content that your target audience would not just appreciate, but seek out. When you create content that has little to do with your audience and all to do with your business and promoting it, you cease being relevant to them and drop off their radar like flies.

The answer – Research your audience thoroughly. Build psychographic profiles of your ideal customer and figure out what they would be interested in the most. Tools like Oktopost and SocialMention help you listen in on conversations between your users and determine the topics that truly interest them. Create content around those topics with your brand subtly inserted into the mix.

2.  Publishing on the Wrong Platforms

This one’s a real crime. After investing your time and money on creating good content, if you go and blow it all up by publishing the content on platforms your users don’t care about, you might as well give up on content marketing.

The answer – Refer to step 1. When you research your audience, also find out which platforms they prefer, what media they consume and create your content accordingly. Your users love original research, go create that for them. Is video their favorite type of content? Don’t waste time on tons of blog posts.

3.  Content Too Salesy

The whole idea of content marketing is to convince a potential user to try your product without making them feel like they are being sold to. Users have an inherent distrust of paid advertising. When you turn a stealth marketing tool like content marketing into a wall-to-wall billboard for your business, you lose credibility and turn off users.

content mistakes

The answer – Tone down the urge to sell, sell, sell. Try subtlety instead. Believe me, it works better than you’d think. If you can’t go without injecting a sales pitch into your messaging every now and then, keep your general vs. sales-y content ratio to an 80-20 mix.

4.  Content Not Good Enough

Why isn’t your content getting you results? It could be because it’s simply not good enough. By “good enough” I mean churning out any of the following types of content: plagiarized, poorly written, grammatically incorrect, uninteresting, factually incorrect – you get the drift. Google goes out of its way to punish “lifted” and duplicate content. Its Panda and recent Quality updates penalize sites with poor quality content and “thin content.”

The answer – Invest in good writers who can provide content that meets professional content standards in your industry. Strategize, strategize, strategize. And then monitor the execution closely. Too time consuming? Set up a collaboration tool like Wrike and get key members across departments to contribute pieces of content to your content marketing program based on their areas of expertise. Store all your in-house expert content in one place with the tool and co-ordinate with your expert contributors easily regarding content edits, deadlines and more.

5.  Ignoring On-Page SEO

Your content is only as strong as the environment in which it resides. A great piece of content that sits on a poorly optimized blog is doomed to a lifetime of invisibility. If your users can’t even find your content, how can you expect that content to get you conversions?

The answer – Don’t be in a hurry to publish your content. Take the time and first fix the SEO on your blog to make it visible to search engine spiders. With your content, spend time in crafting the perfect title – one that encapsulates your main keywords and conveys the gist of the content clearly. Title tags are probably the most important component of on-page SEO. Some of the easiest elements you can optimize on your content pages include

  • Meta description for the page
  • Alt tags, captions and descriptions for images
  • Header tags containing keywords
  • Including semantic variations of important keywords at the right places in the body of your content

6.  Not Enough Promotion

In the days of traditional marketing, all that marketers had to do was create ads, buy spots on media and blast their audiences with the ads across various platforms to get ahead of competition. On the other hand, content marketing is a more indirect method of promoting your business. For content marketing to do its job well, it needs to be spotted by consumers first.

The answer – Promote your promotion tools. Put your content in places where they’ll be easily found and consumed by your audience. Spend money on promoting your content so your users can “discover it themselves” across the various sites that they browse. Paid content promotion networks like Outbrain and Taboola are a great way to ensure visibility for your content. Tap into your email database and share your content with them. Publish it on the right social media platforms and promote it via paid advertising on social media. Reach out to influencers in your industry and get them to endorse your content.

solving content marketing mistakes

In Closing

Content marketing is an organic promotion strategy that builds relationships with your users instead of treating them purely like revenue sources. Steer clear of the content marketing misfires listed above and rest assured, your target audience will not just buy from you, but also grow to love your brand.

 


How to Use the Summer Dip to Boost your Lead Generation

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If you’re like most B2B marketers, you’re probably thinking of dialing down your lead generation efforts for the summer. But here’s the undeniable truth: no matter the time of the year, your pipeline, big or small, is what fuels your business. So while you may find yourself scaling back, you can’t put all marketing on pause.  And since slow times are always followed by busier ones, why not use this time to sharpen your focus and stay ahead of the game? summer growthHere’s how, in 3 steps:

1.  Review Your SEO Strategy

If the thought of doing a competitive analysis makes you shudder, don’t worry. You don’t have to completely overhaul your SEO to make a greater impact. Two main tasks can significantly boost your page rankings over time: - Research your keywords to ensure their validity and find untapped opportunities to introduce new key phrases. - Optimize your page titles and Meta descriptions to do at least one of the following:

  • Align with the copy on the page, whether through current or new keywords and phrases
  • Leverage your USP and/or differentiators
  • Make benefit-rich statements that connect with prospects
  • Make a strong call-to-action

lead generation through SEO 2.  Revise Your Website CopyWith a refreshed SEO strategy, move on to your website:

  • Update your blog and social media.  They’re great traffic boosters, but blogs tend to fall quickly through the cracks in busier times. The summer slump gives you the time to update your editorial calendar and brainstorm new ideas. When you have a calendar ready, compile relevant free images to dress up your blog and social media posts.
  • Refresh your website photos, home page sliders and About Us staff photos. (Summer interns count too!)
  • Give your complete contact information and share all your social media handles. Incomplete contact information is a major deterrent to buyers, so make sure yours figures prominently on your Contact Us page and throughout your website, whether in headers or footers.
  • Check in on the competition. They may or may not be snoozing off the summer. Either way, it’s the perfect time to scope their website and identify what you can do better.

3.  Audit Your Content for Gaps

Slow periods are perfect for auditing your content and finding opportunities to bridge any gaps. First, ask these questions:

  • Does your content address each phase of your buying cycle, or lean heavily on one or two phases?
  • Does it answer questions and address objections, or rest on fluffy, generic company accolades?
  • Does your content engage, educate and entertain readers, or fall flat without a discernable voice?
  • Is your lead generation bait enduring, or out of touch with today’s current market realities?
  • Does your USP or value proposition figure prominently throughout your content, or sit inconspicuously on your About Us page?

Even this part needn’t be exhaustive. By enlisting other stakeholders to help, you’ll get a fresh perspective, with deeper insight into what’s not working well and how to make selling easier.

audit lead generation content

Summer is the ideal time to evaluate your marketing efforts and start shifting them accordingly. Follow these steps and start turning up the head on your lead generation. Before you know it, you’ll be armed and dangerous when fall kicks in.

Want to learn more about best practices for consistent growth through lead generation? Check out this OMI class: Increase Lead Generation Quality, Conversion & Velocity.

 


How to Get the Most Out of Video Content on YouTube

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A certain video platform just celebrated its 10th anniversary, which means we’ve been hearing even more about this runaway success than usual. The first video clip (elephants, if you must know) was uploaded in April 2005, and YouTube’s beta version launched in May. To commemorate the anniversary, YouTube has announced a month-long Blogspot series called “From A-Z: A Letter a Day Throughout May,” highlighting everything we’ve come to associate with the platform (at the time of writing, that was A – animals and B – beauty).

youtube anniversary

But it’s not just a time for retrospective nostalgia about cat videos and David After Dentist (my guesses for C and D, obviously) – this is a great time to reflect on what your business is (or isn’t) doing on YouTube, and what you can do to squeeze more life, leads and value from your video content.

Content Is Still King, But Video Is the Imperial Overlord

I most likely do not need to tell you that people today want, and have even come to expect, video content. This has been the marketing trend for some time, and everything from search results to social media algorithms are adjusting to make way for the true marketing trump card, great video content.

Related Class: B2B Video: Expert Tactics and Tricks

No matter how specific or niche your audience, it’s likely that they’ll reward you for creating and sharing great videos. And it’s a guarantee that social platforms like Facebook will reward you for native video content (with exponentially better reach, autoplay functionality, and more – read it all here). But did you know that even Google rewards video content these days?

The YouTube Boost in Search Results

We all know Google works to prioritize the content that it thinks searchers are most likely to want, so it shouldn’t be too surprising the videos get some preferential treatment in search results. It also probably doesn’t hurt that Google owns YouTube (bought in 2006 for $1.65 billion). All in all, it’s generally easier to get your YouTube video onto the first page of Google search results than it is to get a webpage or blog post up there.

The other major benefit of creating YouTube videos is that Google allows rich snippets for video content in the search listings. So instead of just the usual title-URL-date-text line, you get a thumbnail of the video and a credit for your YouTube channel:

youtube search results

The battle for top of the page search rankings can be cutthroat, but you can do well with snippets that stand out in a page full of text listings, even if you’re not at the top.

Can Your Video Rank in Google’s Search Results?

Google does not always show video results; a great video is far from a guarantee of good listing in the search engine result pages. This depends a lot on the keywords you’ve used for the YouTube video. Only so-called “video keywords” will trigger video results – depending on whether Google believes that searchers using those keywords would prefer text/reading to video/watching. For example, searching for words like “how to” or “demonstration,” or a musician or movie, will likely yield some video results along with typical text-only listings, whereas a product keyword is more likely to bring up Google Shopping results and then regular listings.

The easiest way to figure out if a potential keyword might help your video rank is to Google that keyword and see what you find – if no videos appear on the first page, you’re probably better off trying a different keyword. You can read more about this on Search Engine Watch.

There’s a lot more that goes into optimizing your videos for top performance. For now, check out this class from SEO expert Liana Evans: Video Marketing and YouTube. You’ll learn everything you need to know about getting the most from the platform, and get advice on YouTube advertising, featured videos and more.