Online Marketing

4 Ways to Find Marketing Qualified Leads on Twitter

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Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere sign on white background.

You already know that social media platforms like Twitter have the potential to build your client base – and your bottom line. But how do you know when you’re looking at a marketing qualified lead? When do you know there’s a good chance of generating interaction, winning a new customer and increasing your sales? A few telltale signs and characteristics will help you navigate the vast world of online discussion and find those qualified leads that you want.

  1. They’re talking

While Twitter has 313 million active users each month, not all of them are engaged. You’re looking for social media users who are active. In your research, ask some key questions about your potential leads to help you decide whether someone’s likely to take it to the next level: Is this person engaged in Twitter – in other words, do they tweet often and consistently? Do they often share content, and if so, what kind? How well do they respond to mentions?

Kissmetrics says targeting power users – those who are 86% more likely to send tweets and twice as likely to follow more than 20 brands – can help build your MQLs. Likewise, cultivating influencers – those who are generally trusted experts or celebrities who have a wide following – can be hugely influential because that one qualified lead can result in connections with hundreds or thousands of leads.

Keep in mind that 46% of consumers turn to social media when they’re thinking of making a purchase – they want to know what other people think. What’s more is people are 92% more likely to trust recommendations over brand content – even when those recommendations come from people they don’t know, AdWeek says.

That’s the power of social media discussion.

  1. They’re talking about you

We don’t necessarily mean you, but more specifically whether people are talking about what’s relevant to you and what your company offers. Are they discussing your product, similar products, or activities and interests relevant to your product? Your marketing qualified leads will display interests that are congruent with your company.

Entrepreneur magazine points to the example of Chicago-area baker Foiled, which in 2011 filled about 1,000 orders a month. Owner Mari Luangrath said she built her

customer base through “targeted listening,” or finding the conversations where her company naturally fit, starting with female followers of a public radio station in the Chicago area. Searching Twitter bios for job titles, interests and other factors can help you identify a core target audience. Tools like Socedo can help you automate that process by searching keywords and syncing with your marketing software.

  1. They fit your buyer persona

Understanding who is most likely to purchase your product or become a client is key to finding MQLs on Twitter. What is your buyer persona? It’s essential a characterization of who is likely to respond to your product or offering. What is the age, gender, geographic location you’d like to reach? What are their job titles and where do they work? What do they spend their money on, and what do they like to do in their spare time? What is important to them? How do they describe themselves in their social media bios?

Who might be the influencers your target persona engages with? What are the keywords you’d expect them to use in search engines and in posts?

  1. They’re responsive

TwitterSmallBiz says 85% of Twitter users feel more connected to brands they follow than ones they don’t. Follows demonstrate interest in your company or product, as do actions such as likes and retweets. They’re a clear message that you’ve captured a potential lead’s interest, and it’s time to follow up. Socedo has found that socially engaged leads convert into customers 22 percent faster than leads who aren’t engaged. Reach out and make a connection with a follow and a direct message, offering engaging content with a clear call-to-action tailored to their interests. When they click your link, you know you’ve got them. Wait a day before sending them an email so that you extend the amount of time your brand is in their minds.

Remember, it might take a couple of “touches” on social media before a marketing qualified lead engages – look for ways to provide the most valuable, targeted content to your leads and you’ll be most likely to win them over as repeat customers.

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 9.00.16 AMTeena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. Socedo is a demand generation system that empowers marketers to discover, engage with and qualify prospects through social media to generate revenue at scale.

 

 

 

 

 


The 9 Best Tools To Help Improve Your Content Writing Skills

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Content writing is unlike any other business skill. In most areas you can go off once a year to get a refresher course. But if you’re a content writer, you know this is not the case, as content writing is constantly changing from day to day. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, then you have to find the right tools to help you stay there. Every single day you have to teach the old dog new tricks.

That is where these 9 awesome online tools come in. Every one of them will help you and your employees take their content writing to the next level and put your content on the map.

Ideator

 

 

Starting off this list with a bang we have the Ideator from the clever people at Content Forest. You can’t write good content without knowing what people want to read about. You also can’t run any sort of curation without knowing what is out there on the internet. Ideator lets you track what content is going viral and which on which social media networks it is most popular. You can search in specific niche interest areas to identify your audience and you can choose topics based on what is trending from minute to minute. Before you ever start blogging this is where you need to go to decide what to write about.

Daily Page

For some of you content writing is only a part of your job. It might not even be your favorite part of your job. Daily Page helps you to get into a writing routine, producing at least one page of content every single day. First thing in the morning it will prompt you with a topic, and you have the rest of the day to write that post. At the end of the day, you decide whether or not you want to share it. If you are just getting started in the content writing world and want to hone your skills, then Daily Page might be just the right tool for you.

X-Essays

 

Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything that you need done. On days like that you can turn to X-Essays writing services. They can turn out content at a high speed on any topic and they can do it for a lot less than you might think. Their content is all custom written and plagiarism free so it is safe to insert it in amongst your own content freely. The bottom line is this, to run a content based business successfully you need the raw material to keep up momentum. Boom Essays can give you that.

Ideaflip

This is one of those tools that you never even knew existed, but once you try it, your won’t be able to live without it. Ideaflip is a brainstorming program that lives in the cloud. You and your employees can access it from anywhere in the world using any device. It eliminates the need for endless meetings to discuss every single idea and instead creates a risk-free environment for everyone to pitch their content and blend their ideas into the best final products imaginable. The bright simple design makes everything easy to understand, you can import your own content directly into the application and the “brain-map” design makes every connection between ideas crystal clear. You are going to kick yourself for not using it sooner.

Power Thesaurus

Everyone who has passed high school English knows what a Thesaurus is. When you are trying to brighten up your writing and eliminate repetition of your favorite phrases and words you open that little fat book and start looking. What makes Power Thesaurus different is that it is alive. While the old thesaurus was a fixed list of words and most of the websites that offer thesaurus services are much the same Power Thesaurus crowd sources its responses. Synonyms for words are listed in order of how many times they have been voted up by users. This lets you find out not just which words you can use in place of others, it also lets you find out which words are the most popular replacements for others. Power Thesaurus reflects the English language as it is now, not how it was decades ago when the first thesaurus was written.

Sniply

Sniply is a neat little tool that lets you link from your content back to your website in the form of an unobtrusive little pop-up call to action. As well as driving a lot of readers back to your site it also allows you to track where your site visitors are coming from and modify your marketing strategies accordingly. This tool turns every guest post that your bloggers produce into another stream of readers heading to your site.

Rated Writing


This service is all about generating copy for you to use where you see fit. Where they differ from other companies is that they have a ton of experience in writing search engine optimized material for websites. All of the content that they generate is custom written for you to your specifications with a lot of back and forth communication to make sure that it is exactly what you are looking for. Combined with Ideaflip this can completely change your whole business. With a guarantee of unique content you don’t have to worry about finding the exact same information anywhere else on the internet and have to deal with the ensuing headaches.

Keyword Tool

So you are writing content but nobody is ever seeing it. All those hours of work are going to waste and your business is no better off than it would have been if you had done nothing. That is why you need Keyword Tool. It gives you the data direct about which long-tailed keywords are going to drive readers to your content. You can use it for Search Engine Optimization while writing your content and you can use it when you are planning out the online advertising campaign that is going to make your brand into a household name. Huge bonus, it is 99% effective and free while every other Keyword Tool out there charges you.

 

Uber Suggest

Where Keyword Tool stops, Uber Suggest begins. It finds the keywords that Google Keyword Planner hasn’t even thought of yet. The strange little idiosyncratic phrases that the right group of people put into their searches that will drive them directly to the your content. It is incredibly easy to use, clearly explained and even offers the option of downloading a spreadsheet of your keywords as a CSV file to use later.

Putting it all together

The unpleasant truth is that content writing is never going to get any easier, there is more and more competition for views every single day and there are only so many eyes out there looking at screens. Your competitors will be using everything at their disposal to keep those eyes pointed their way. Using tools like these can help you ensure your content is what people see first and what they will want to share with others.

Mary Walton is a professional editor and online tutor, currently living in Santa Monica. She's starting educational blog Simple Grad to share her thoughts on education and writing. Follow Mary on Twitter and Linkedin!

 


Promote Your New Blog Post Like a Pro: An 8 Step Checklist for Small Business Owners

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Who’s been here?

Someone – maybe a friend, coworker, or blogger – planted a tiny seed in your mind. That seed:

Wouldn't it be great to start a company blog?

The benefits to your business would be enormous. It would skyrocket traffic, leads, and sales. The idea was so appealing that the seed finally grew into action. You slaved away with what little free time you had. You navigated the complicated blog setup process and settled on a design.

Once everything was in place, you started creating content. It seemed simple enough. Content is king, right?

But there was a problem.

Once you hit publish, nothing happened. Your traffic never took off. Those leads never appeared. Sales haven't changed.

What’s worse, you’re not even sure how to promote your content or where to start.

Sound familiar?

I promise you’re not alone. Many business owners struggle with this same problem.

Today, I’ll share a step-by-step process you can use to promote new blog posts like a seasoned pro.

Why Hitting Publish Is Not Enough

In case you didn’t get the memo , publishing content in 2016 is no longer enough.

There are upwards of 2 million blog posts published every day. Most people are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of content presented to them daily.

Aside from writing long form content and using an arsenal of other tactics to stand out, you still need to promote your content. Otherwise, chances are good no one will see it.

In other words:

You need to promote your content like crazy. But not like a crazy person.

You want to avoid haphazard promotion and a lack of clear planning. Small business owners need to make the most of what little time we have.

Instead, I'll show you how to implement a strategic plan and turn it into a company-wide process to follow. This will help you achieve the success you’ve been hoping for since the beginning.

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Internal Linking

Here's the first step to take after you hit publish:

Link to your new content from other, more powerful pages on your website. Sales pages, product pages, or other blog posts… it doesn't matter.

Why? The reasons are twofold:

  1. Navigational – We’re creating more places website visitors can discover your content.
  2. SEO – Internal linking is a great way to get more traffic to a new post. It’s also a great way to give it a rankings boost. Strategic linking from older, established, and more trusted pages on your website to a new page helps funnel authority.

Just make sure you’re linking from relevant pages. Take a moment to find the places where it makes the most sense to link to your new blog post. Write them down, and add them after reading this article.

Step 2: Social Media Scheduling

Next, you’ll want to share your new blog post on social media channels.

The most productive way to do this is through social media scheduling. For this, consider tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.

How many times should you share a new blog post? Check out this handy visual for some guidelines:

Now, you might think: "This is useless. I have no followers or fans.”

That may be! But if you want to grow your social following, you have to start somewhere. That means sharing content.

You can’t expect other people to share and link to your content if you’re not willing to promote it yourself. Don’t expect others to do the heavy lifting for you. Be a voice for yourself, first. Allow your ambition and enthusiasm to be contagious, and others will follow suit.

Step 3: Find Relevant Social Sharing Sites & Niche Specific Social Networks

Consider options outside of the major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram.

Untapped traffic sources can include social sharing and bookmarking sites, like Reddit and Stumbleupon.

Not sure how to use either? No need to worry. There are tons of online marketing guides that address these platforms, like this one and this one.

Another great idea is a niche-specific social network. While there may not be a specific social network for every industry, these can prove to be a gold mine for your business.

Here's an example:

Pack Dog is a social network for dog owners. If you were in the pet business, joining Pack Dog would be a great move. You could share photos of your dog and links that interest you and other dog owners. Your new blog post about dogs would fit right in!

Perform a few Google searches to see if you can identify any relevant niche-specific social media channels or social sharing sites that could bring you more traffic. Once you've found sites that are a good match, create an account and become a member. This will allow you to share your content with hyper-targeted groups of people.

Just make sure to become an active participant in these communities. Avoid spamming by only sharing content that promotes your business. That is a quick way to lose goodwill (and possibly get banned).

When in doubt, follow the 80/20 rule: 20% promotional content and 80% non promotional.

Step 4: Share With Your Email Subscribers

If you’ve been building and grooming an email list, don’t forget about these super-important people!

Why? They’re your biggest fans!

Anyone who's opted in to receive email, news, and information from you should never be ignored.

Create an email campaign to let subscribers know about new content, and encourage them to check it out. Provide a strong call to action, inviting them to share it with friends or leave a comment.

This is a great way to generate early buzz and engagement on your post.

Step 5: Contact Weak Ties

Despite what you might think, everyone has what’s called “weak ties.” These are people who will happily promote your content.

Who are these people? Brian Dean refers to them as people in your professional network, or even acquaintances. But I think they can go beyond that. Maybe it’s your mom, your partner, close friends or family.

Don’t be afraid to approach them. Now’s not the time to be shy or proud. Ask for a social share.

Weak ties may also be old colleagues, people within your company or department, or even your employees. Chances are you’re both on the same team, or work within the same industry. Most people will want to promote their profession and see their place of business succeed. Many will be more than happy to lend a hand.

Most importantly, don’t view this as begging for help. This is a strategic marketing move to generate buzz.

Don't be afraid to get out there and hustle!

Step 6: Reach out to Previous Linkers

This is one of my top link-building secrets.

When you perform any kind of email outreach or link development campaign, you should keep track of your efforts. This means recording:

  • Whom you contacted
  • When you reached out
  • For what reason
  • Responses

Think of this as your little black book of recurring link prospects. When you’re working on something new, comb through your records for what I like to call “previous linkers.”

These are people who linked to you in the past, and with whom you’ve built up a rapport. Often, you can count on them again for a link or social share.

Be careful not to ruin these relationships by spamming.

Only reach out if you have something they may be interested in or something that's relevant. If so, reach out again.

You'll be surprised at just how effective of a tactic this is.

Step 7: Contact Brands or Influencers Mentioned in the Post

Next, review your content for any mentions of brands or influencers, even if you didn't mention anyone directly. Did you share an idea, tip, tactic, or strategy of theirs?

If you have, contact these people! Shoot them a quick email letting them know they were referenced in your article. Gently ask for, or suggest, a social share.

While you won’t get a response from everyone, this is a valuable tactic. It uses a share trigger called social currency.

People want to share content that proves their position or makes them look good. If you featured their work in a positive light, they'll want to share that with their audience.

Most brands or influencers will likely have a larger social following than you. This type of strategic promotion will send you traffic, increase social shares and engagement, and possibly open the doors to new potential customers.

Give credit where credit is due, and reap the rewards.


Step 8: Conduct an Email Outreach Campaign

By now, we’ve done a good deal of legwork to generate early buzz and acquire quick links.

This is crucial. We've created what's called social proof. We're now going to leverage this in the rest of our outreach efforts. If we can show other people are engaging with our content, it makes other prospects more likely to do the same.

Basically, we have people talking, and now we're going after the big fish.

This is where you begin an email outreach campaign. The type of campaign and tactics you'll employ will depend on the topic and type of content you created.

The ultimate goal is to find other people, blogs, and publications that are likely to share your content, and reach out to them to make them aware of it.

If you're unsure of where to start, I would read Moz's How to Start a Link Building Campaign. Another gem is Neil Patel's The Link Builder's Guide to Email Outreach (complete with email templates and all).

Now, get out there and get started!

Recap

Content promotion takes time and effort. But it’s critical to content marketing success.

Even the busiest of people can find the time to implement at least a few of these suggestions. At the very least, getting organized and following a strategic, step-by-step plan will increase your chances of success.

Again, the 8-step process goes like this:

  1. Add internal links
  2. Schedule social media posts
  3. Utilize social sharing sites and niche-specific social media networks
  4. Share with email subscribers
  5. Ask “weak ties” for help
  6. Reach out to previous linkers
  7. Contact brands or influencers referenced within content
  8. Conduct an email outreach campaign

Give this 8-step content promotion process a try, and leave a comment letting us know how it worked out for your business!

A link to said memo might be great here?

I didn't cut this line, because I was on the fence about it, but I think it's prime for cutting. It doesn't seem strongly implied elsewhere that the reader will immediately take to their new blog post after reading this article.

 


 


4 Ways Big Data Analytics Affects Your Customer Service

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Not needing customer service is the best example of customer service.

Big data analytics helps you tune into your customers’ expectations, frustrations and demands, so you can constantly evolve your business platform, providing a superior and smooth experience to your customers.

However there is a giant elephant in the room: the probability of failure of big data analytics. You won’t hear people talking about it for the fear of appearing incompetent or ignorant, but believe me, it is a common occurrence with many problems and roadblocks on the way.

Let’s examine a few reasons why big data analytics fail and some instances where they succeed when it comes to customer service intelligence, so that you can avoid these mistakes and improve your chances of success in retention as well as acquisition.

Data models

Bear with me while I spew some mumbo-jumbo.

The concept of data models is very complex. In a nutshell, it manages its constituent elements and their mutual relationships. A database model, in turn, is a logical data model, which determines the structure of a computerized (usually) database, and specifies how data can be added, stored, organized, accessed and edited. Common database models include hierarchical, relational, and semantic.

In your organization, the decision of which big data or automation tools you’ll adopt and deploy is often dependent on the data model that is on offer, whether you realize it or not.

Suppose you are a retail ecommerce website selling t-shirts and such. Using your analytics tools, you could easily profile shoppers who interested in product X – things like the source of visit, age, location, etc. Let’s say you find that the majority of your customers are millennials.

Now you want to know what kind of t-shirts millennials like. So you decide to do product A/B testing based on the relational model i.e. the relation between a demographic (millennials) and their consumer behavior (t-shirt preferences).

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See where I am going? At the end of the day, unless you make sure your customer service team sounds more authentic, and totally gets the marketing channels favored by millennials, you won’t see any results from either your data analytics or testing.

Again, it all boils down to the data model. Even a business that makes extensive use of analytics data can go wrong. For example, Google Analytics follows the “last Interaction” attribution model by default when it comes to tracking conversions. As per this model, a product purchase is credited to the last channel that your site visitor interacted with before making the purchase.

For instance, Tim finds your website through organic search, sees some cool t-shirts and forgets all about it. His second interaction comes through a tweet about your blog post. During both these visits, he has liked your products and maybe registered and added a couple to his wish-list but hasn’t taken any action. His final purchase comes a few weeks later when he really needs to buy a t-shirt, googles “hip tshirts” again and clicks through the first ad he sees (yours).

Google Analytics will attribute the success of this conversion to paid search, based on its last touch attribution model. Consequently, you might feel compelled to increase your AdWords budget. This is how you can go wrong.

You must use a lot of different data models to make an informed decision. Blindly trusting one data model can prove to be an expensive mistake.

Unavailability

The Columbia Business School and the New York American Marketing Association surveyed over 250 corporate decision-makers in marketing – director-level at large companies. This is what they found:

  • 51% of the respondents said that a lack of sharing customer data within their own organization was a big challenge to overcome.
  • Nearly half weren’t using data to personalize their communications.
  • Almost a third did not know which high-value customers to focus their marketing on.
  • 39% said their company’s data collection methods weren’t well-timed.

There are countless tools – from Hadoop to Kyvos – that help enterprises collect and analyze big data. However, you must remember these are just tools. They will give you valuable insights on your data, but that doesn’t guarantee changes at the ground level.

Most of the times, analysis reports are seen only by the select few in the upper echelons while the team that actually connects with the customers on a regular basis is left out.

For instance, I once ordered a pair of jeans only to find them a size too small. I wanted to get a bigger size, so I left a message on the retailer’s website, for which I got a support ticket. But I didn’t hear from them, so I emailed the whole thing again to the customer care ID and waited another 24 hours before giving them a call. I was told to hang up (my and wait for someone to get in touch with me, which of course never materialized. So I took the jeans to their store (luckily for me, they have one in my city), repeated the whole story to the manager and got my jeans exchanged. To cut a long story short, had the details of my order and issue been available to all employees on the shop floor, warehouse as well as customer service departments, we all would have saved a lot of time.

Although this is my personal experience, I’m sure you will identify with this story. It illustrates how important it is to make real time data analytics more available to everyone, right down to your customer service team.

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Expectations

As with everything, CIOs and managers want everything yesterday! They want to see results from big data in as early as 3 to 6 months. Most CMOs and CIOs go as far as to calculate ROI within the first year.

The truth is that it takes you far longer than three months to even make sense of the overwhelming amount of data analytics today’s tool present you, let alone glean insights from them. Then you go on to draw up plans on which metrics you’d like to monitor and meet, based on your business goals, and proceed to implement it over the next six months to a year depending on the scope of the task at hand.

Even then, you can never be a 100% sure that you have made the right changes, so you keep tweaking your data analytics models; the question of ROI doesn’t arise this early in the game.

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Source: SlideShare

So how do you work around this problem?

  • Find the pain points in your customer service.
  • Define metrics for improvement. The success of measuring ROI in big data analytics depends on how well you pinpoint metrics that precisely gauge its success.
  • Set realistic short and long term goals.
  • Keep updating your big data models as and when you get more relevant data or insights.

For instance, XO Communications’ ultimate aim was to model their customer base and use that data to deduce whether a customer was happy or not. However, this was a long term goal and it would have been impossible to define metrics or determine success based on this goal alone. So, they broke it down into a short term goal of identifying “high risk” customers who could possibly switch to another carrier, contacting them in time and convincing them to stay. (Another win for customer retention!)

XO then converted this goal into KPI form – they aimed at reducing customer query times by up to 90 percent (from 7 to 10 days to less than a day). This was a realistic and measurable objective and they found they saved up to 5 million in revenue in just 30 days by solving this pain point.

They scaled up and changed their models several times after that and their annual savings shot up from $11 million in the first year to $15 million with a subsequent optimized data model.

Disruption

One of the most important ingredients in the recipe for big data success is disruption. If you keep trying to milk the same old data warehouse, team, IT infrastructure and tools, you are headed for big-time big data failure.

To ensure success, you need to be able to do a 360-degree pivot at the snap of a finger – hire experienced data scientists, do not be afraid to use newer tools, encourage disruptive thinking and most importantly, be prepared for implementing changes at all times.

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The biggest case in point here would be Groupon’s failure to capture China’s budding market. Encouraged by their success in Europe, Groupon duplicated the same approach in China – a high volume, low touch, cold-call approach (read, mass email marketing). However they didn’t take market differentiators like Chinese culture into the big data equation and thus failed to please their Chinese customers.

Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, used data intelligence quite wisely. They were always good at data analytics and have a track record of successfully using it to improve customer service several times. Some time back, they announced the deployment of speech analytics in order to extract information out of live-recorded interactions between customers and service personnel, in an effort to dig deeper for customer insights. No surprises that they are amongst the top 3 airlines for excellent customer service.

Tesla too created disruption by using data to understand their vehicles’ security issues and recruited hackers to break into their car’s security control unit, a preventive step ahead of their plans to collect more data from their connected cars. This is a great example of how companies today think inside and outside the box.

Over to You

As you saw, there are several ways you can fumble and fail to achieve results from big data for your customer service. If you’re a business decision maker, here are a few sources of big data learning you must make a habit of revisiting regularly. This will help you to gain industry insights on everything related to big data or customer service.

  • Clickz’s “Analyzing Customer Data” section
  • Inside Big Data’s concise insights on big data strategy
  • This huge list active blogs on big data, data science, data mining, machine learning and analytics
  • This Quora question, where everyone from data novices to entrepreneurs have shared their favorite resources for big data analytics

Have you tried using big data analytics for improving customer service or are planning to in the near future? What are the other business areas you wish to improve with big data analytics?

I’d love to hear about any news, case studies, experiences and insights on everything related to big data that you might have to share. See you

 


Three Emerging Social Channels You Must Keep An Eye On In 2016

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There are few digital realms that captivate more people these days than social. The social space is an evocative one. Social media can be rather personal.  This makes it fundamentally intriguing, allowing people to peek behind the curtains of our lives - or rather, our companies lives. Whether we portray an authentic image is up to us, but -  that notion of transparency is why our customers love to visit us in our ‘social homes.’ They walk through our social doorways to get to know the product more deeply, see how human our organizations are (or aren’t), and interact with whatever useful and free content we’re happily providing. And, as the age old psychological phenomenon reveals, proximity breeds affection and attention, so it behooves us to to build social homes wherever the customer might wander. The same side of that coin a mantra worth repeating: as marketers -  we must always, always watch new and emerging channels. New and emerging channels are likely where our audiences are - or in the least, exploring. Their actions, interactions, engagement, disengagement, can give us incredibly useful information on what our potential customers are - and aren't interested in, and of course, where the eyeballs are, at any given moment. 

With that, here are a few emerging social channels to watch in 2016.

Hyper: Instagram and reddit got married, and had a baby...meet hyper.

With Hyper, user post images directly to areas that interest them.  Others who have previously subscribed to that interest area, will get notified. Users provide instant feedback in the the form of up votes and down votes. Hyper still feels a little shaky where UX is concerned but -  by taking some of the most popular features from other highly successful social media forums (photo heavy, hashtags, voting, and geographic tagging), hyper may be poised for a ton of growth and eyeballs in 2016.

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Blab: Live streaming - that doesn’t suck.

Blab is simple, intuitive, and provides a higher sense of engagement than Google hangouts in that it is outfitted with a panel for live chat on the left, and a panel to tweet on the right. The medium also limits guests to 3 people, with an option for one of those seat to be left open for a “call in” during the blab. This cultivates a sense of exclusivity, unlike Google hangouts, where you can host up to 10 video participants. And unlike Facebook mentions, Meerkat and Periscope, Blab is not limited to mobile only. Further, it’s easy recording feature has made it relatively popular tool for use in podcasts, after shows, interviews etc. Blab’s versatility, simplicity, built in live chat and social integrations, might just be enough to position them as a leader in live streaming in 2016.

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photo cred: https://blab.im/about

Peach: Making social media … more addictive?


Crafted by the creator of Vine, Dan Hoffman, peach is a new app that some are claiming might be ‘the one to take on the giants’, (read:Facebook, Twitter). For those who enjoy social media (most of us) peach is intriguing in that is ups your potential ‘social creativity’ by acting as your social media assistant, pulling images, gifs, songs, moods, emoji etc., based on “magic” words typed by the user. Still, it’s lack of timeline and inability to follow those who aren’t friends, leaves me questioning its’ realistic lifespan.

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The Need For Speed – Optimize Your Mobile Experience

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Group of friends of different ethnics sitting on the street and looking at mobile phone - Young modern hipster people having fun with new technologies - Multiracial group representing the addiction to technology

“Mobile really is where everything is going and where everything is spent today,” Gary Burnett, former Facebook Advertising Exec and now COO at Flurry, a leading app measurement and ad firm.

In a recent article Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends for 2016, mobile optimization came in amongst the top ten.

Let’s quickly review our mobile discussion from that article. 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 that mean in the broader context for your 2016 marketing strategy? In 2016, a mobile-optimized website should be a default, but not a placeholder for an app. An app can (read: should) do everything your website can do. Not to mention an app is both touch screen (read: less barriers to clicks) and is an advertisement/reminder of your product that goes with your user everywhere they go.

Mobile usage in the purchasing process, from research to checkout, is on an upward trend that is not slowing down anytime soon. A few stats to back that up?

  • 90% of smartphone shoppers use their phone for pre-purchasing activities
  • 86% of time is spent on apps vs. 14% on the mobile web
  • 25% of search queries are now on mobile

Whether you’re working on your app, planning a re-vamp, or already have a fantastic one in place, there’s one thing we recommend testing and optimizing above all else - and that’s speed. Load speed, checkout speed, and how quickly your users can find relevant info. Recent research has found that a staggering 29% of mobile users will immediately switch to another app or website if they are experiencing slowness, or can’t find what they need - quickly.

We’ve all been there. Looking up that great new restaurant but finding the mobile website too slow? Jump to Yelp. Want to make a res. at said restaurant but reservation information isn’t easily accessible, jump to opentable. Opentable isn’t showing available reservation for the time you want - back to Yelp for the phone number to give them a call.

So, how can we optimize our websites or applications to keep as many users inside your brands as possible? Here are a few tips:

  1. Be there in micro moments - especially when it comes to mobile. Below is a great infographic from Forrester to give you a quick snapshot of how to design micro moments. We’ll cover this more in depth in next week’s article.

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  1. Make sure your mobile website is super simple, responsive, with an easy and streamlined checkout process.
  2. Your load time needs to be 3 seconds - or less.
  3. Know what your customers are searching for and optimize your app and website to display calls to action for those specific needs first.
  4. Less is more. Less clicks, less steps. Eliminate any unnecessary actions, assets, or distractions that get in the way of people performing the action you need them to take.

If you’re a small business looking to do some quick catch up in the mobile space, check out this article, How to Optimize Your Small Business 

We'd love to hear your top tip for optimizing your companies mobile experiences. Just leave a comment below!

 


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 App Argument – The One Thing You Can’t Afford to Leave Out of Your Marketing Strategy This Year

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Assuming recent trends continue, by 2019 we should expect to see nearly 75% of digital ad spending spent on mobile. Why? While it’s more complex than just a few statistics, the following make a strong case. In 2015, marketers began to wise up to the fact that people are spending more time on mobile phones than on their laptops/desktops. So, they matched eyeballs for marketing dollars, and, they did this even though mobile conversions are still lower than other devices.

 

So -  in essence, this is a cautionary tale.

 

Here are some statistics to demonstrate why you need to pay attention to this trend right now.

If you haven’t already, you need to start (read: continue - because at this rate of change, it will be hard to play catch up) optimizing your marketing plan for mobile.

In 2014, a report by KPCB showed that marketers were not spending ad dollars relative to the amount of time spent on mobile. In other words  - mobile phones (tied for second place with the internet/desktop), were where people spent most of their screen time (mobile has since surpassed internet/desktop). And yet, advertisers were not spending money to market there.
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It is important not to overlook this very important fact. That this surge of mobile activity could be largely in part due to the fact that 86% of time spent on mobile - is time spent in mobile apps.

Enter 2015 - looks like a very different story. According to a 2015 study by eMarketer, marketers got the hint. The percentage of digital mobile as spending skyrocketed to 49%, nearly mirroring people’s behaviors. The study also made some future projections - that by 2019 nearly 75% of ad budgets will be spent on mobile.

So - these marketers are running after the trend, reactively marketing and playing catch up with buyers behavioral changes. Still, I’d say they caught up pretty quickly.

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So if everyone’s doing it, should you be?

 

Here is one big reason you don’t need to sound the alarm right away.

One, conversions rates on mobile devices are still relatively lower than on desktop and tablets. According to this 2014 Q4 report from monetate desktop, tablets, and Kindle Fire conversions outpace others at about 3% while smartphones and iphones converted at .8% and .85% respectively.

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Here monetate updated this data showing conversion rates by platform further into the future, through Q3 2015. It looks like, while iPhone conversions are still converting a lower rates, conversion rates across desktop, tablets and iphones are coming closer and closer together.

 

(Interesting aside to note iphone conversions increasing at a much faster rate than other smartphones - something to keep in mind when digging deeper into your mobile plan)
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So - what have we learned?

 

People are spending more and more time on mobile (duh!), marketers are catching up and spending money to get these people’s attention, but conversion rates on mobile still have a little catching up to do.

Conversion rates on tablets, desktop and mobile are trending to cross paths. Trends point to conversions on mobile behaving in the same way most mobile trends have gone … up.

Importantly -  of all the time spent on mobile devices, most of this time is spent in mobile applications. So, if you’re poised to do just one thing this quarter (or year, if you’re a small business with limited budget) in regards to your mobile plans - focus on the app. 

If you don’t have the in house resources, check out this post on the 16 best app tools to make your own app - without a bit of code!

 

 


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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Image source
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.