Online Marketing

How To Attract New Consumers (Like, New-New) To Your Brand

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You certainly want to draw new people to your brand. Who doesn’t? But are you bringing in people who are new to your space, or just fighting for existing share?

When it comes to acquiring new customers, the best strategy is a balanced approach across the consumer journey. Companies commonly get stuck perfecting the later stages – i.e., in the intent, purchase and loyalty stages – and fail to attract true net-new prospects into the journey in the first place.

The beginning of the journey is usually left to mass brand awareness efforts with poor targeting. This creates a gap in the journey between brand awareness and purchase consideration. This also wastes a lot of effort on generating awareness with never-to-be-customers, while not gaining consideration from high-value prospects.

One of the more acclaimed strategy books of the 2000s was the book Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, about how to open up a new market space and create new demand.

The authors compare what they call “red oceans” and “blue oceans.” Red oceans are markets where companies fight with little differentiation for the same customers, and therefore have to compete on price. The blue ocean strategy details how to avoid getting caught in red oceans.

When it comes to customer acquisition strategies widely used today by brands, it strikes me that they’re still defaulting to a red ocean strategy.

Brands tend to focus acquisition efforts where competition is the fiercest, and often fail to do true net-new prospecting. For example, brands fight for:

  1. Past Customers: Reactivation campaigns to past purchasers are common, in an attempt to re-engage customers and subscribers who’ve made a purchase in the past but have since gone dormant. This is a useful tactic, but won’t power the start of the consumer journey.
  2. Competitor Customers: Some conquesting efforts are intentional. Some happen by accident due to lack of transparency. For instance, with co-op databases, you may accidentally find yourself conquesting when you thought you were net-new prospecting. When targeting consumers via a data co-op, you provide a list of your current customers and in return you more-or-less get a list of your competitors’ customers.
  3. Intent-based Prospects: These prospects are people who’ve declared a clear intention to make a near-term purchase, based on their behavior. When people provide contact details on an auto website, or ask for a quote from an insurance broker, they’ve made a clear statement about their being in-market or nearly in-market. Intent data is an important factor in calculating net-new prospects, but it’s one piece of a larger data puzzle. With intent-based prospects, once the prospect has registered her name, it’s sold to 3 to 15 brands who are left to win her over on price.

Not sure where to start with Lead Gen? You're not alone. Online Marketing Institute recommends these classes on Demand Gen. These classes make it easy for anyone in the digital space to understand the fundamentals of demand generation.

So why do brands neglect true prospecting efforts?

One reason is, there’s a lot of short-term reward for focusing on the end of the consumer journey and efficiently acquiring low-hanging fruit. Having a high conversion rate from consideration-to-purchase looks and feels great. The problem is the inherently lower volume in this stage in the journey, and even that volume fizzles over time without a strong early-stage acquisition process.

The other reason is status quo. It was the norm to purchase or rent “dumb” prospect lists for acquisition campaigns meant to drive new consumers to your brand. These lists were easily available, but lacked statistically relevant targeting, and mainly resulted in poor campaign performance. Yet, for a long time there wasn’t a better alternative. Some brands invested in manual data science to attempt to better predict future prospect behavior, but this was a time-consuming and costly process. And results varied.

Today, with automated cloud technology, it’s now possible to identify net-new prospects who are new to your business and who are the most likely to love and buy your products. And it can be done more accurately, in less time and with less cost. This is a game changer for the early phases of the consumer journey. Rather than rely on un-targeted brand efforts to people who will never become customers, brands can now spend brand dollars intelligently to reach large prospect pools, specifically those who have a significant chance of becoming a new customer in your space.

In the end, lower-journey strategies are important, but don’t dedicate all your marketing efforts to the zero-sum game. Real net-new prospecting will move you beyond fighting on price and features. Done right, blue ocean prospecting generates higher margins and is by nature a positive-sum sport.

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

This article was originally posted on the Reach Analytics Blog.

 


How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder

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How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder

How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder

Reduce, reuse, recycle. You’ve heard the mantra, only now it doesn’t just apply to saving the planet. This mantra can also be applied to marketing, specifically digital marketing. Rather than ramping up content creation, it’s time that digital marketing professionals work smarter, not harder.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize the content on your blog and work smarter.

Build Themes into Your Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is not merely a holding place for blog topics and content ideas. It’s the ideal place to put down in writing the overall trajectory of your content marketing strategy.

Start by building themes into your editorial calendar. The easiest way to do this is to pick a larger topic for each month and have all the blogs for that particular month address certain aspects of that topic.

For example, an editorial calendar for a corporate recruiting firm may cover resume writing in May, preparing for an interview in June, and negotiating benefits in July. In May, the four blog posts will cover the main things to include in a resume, common resume mistakes, tools for checking grammar in resumes, and unique takes on resumes. Each of those blog posts will roll up to the general topic of resumes for month.

Repurpose Blogs into Downloadable Guides

A successful content marketing strategy does not rely solely on creating blogs. Rather, it incorporates multiple types of content to appeal to a variety of potential clients.

Instead of starting from scratch for each ebook, case study, white paper, or how-to guide you create, look to your blog. You can take content from a blog, especially a popular or well-received blog, and repurpose it into a white paper that can be gated and downloaded from the website. Or if a particular blog discusses what works, use a particular client to demonstrate how those approaches work and create a new client case study.

Turn a Blog into a Visual

Many marketing departments are fully utilizing their awesome designers or design team. Take advantage of their wonderful skills by having them turn a blog or ideas from a few blogs into a visual, like an infographic, tip sheet, or chart. This is one of the easiest ways to repurpose content, mainly because it requires chopping down content to the very basics so that the visuals tell the bulk of the story.

A great opportunity to create a visual content piece is a how-to article. How-to blog posts are the easiest to convert into an infographic or a presentation because a visual can take the place of a 200-word description. For example, if the recruiting firm creates a blog on what to include in a resume, they can work with a designer to turn it into a downloadable visual that a job seeker can reference while drafting his or her own resume (without writing new content!).

Use Analytics to Pick Topics

When topics aren’t resonating with prospects, ditch them. Stop covering topics that prospects and clients don’t care about. Eliminating the topic duds is a great way to streamline your process and focus on what matters to your potential clients.

The only way to know the difference between a dud and a winner when it comes to your blog posts is by reviewing the analytics. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website or blog, take a look at the traffic and track the downloads of your content pieces. We always suggest looking at a couple of months of data to weed out seasonal traffic spurts.

If a particular blog post does well, add more topics to your editorial calendar that address different aspects or takes on that particular topic. Using the recruiting firm again, if they wrote a topic on how to dress for an interview and it got 2x as many views as a topic on how to clean up your social media when job hunting, they should add more topics that discuss dressing the part for an interview.

Not sure where to start with Google Analytics, you're not alone?  Take, Getting started with Google Analytics, to learn to identify your preforming channels, and how to optimize them. 

Promote Your Blog Posts

It’s very rare that a blog post goes viral after sharing it on one social media channel. Don’t produce 20 blog posts hoping to hit on a topic that will have a viral reach. Instead, focus on producing 5 – 10 quality blog posts and spend time promoting them.

First, share them on all your social media channels. If you have multiple blog posts to share, be sure to share each post multiple times (at different times and days of the week). This will enable you to reach a higher portion of your audience and put more eyeballs on your blog posts.

Next, pay to promote your posts. Sponsoring your posts on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest enables you to reach users that aren’t part of your existing audience. Allocating a portion of your budget to promotion enables you to maximize the value of your blog posts. Even a small budget can have a dramatic impact in helping your post reach a brand new (targeted) audience.

Want to learn more about how to get the best visibility for your blog posts?  Take Getting Your Blog Content Shared On Social Media, for practical tips that work really well to get more of your blog content shared.

In an ideal world, you have the bandwidth to create a ton of blog posts, but in the real world, there just isn’t time. By following the tips here, you can maximize the blog posts you are able to create and increase the ROI of each one.

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

Jeremy Durant About the Author: Jeremy Durant is Business Principal at Bop Design, a B2B web design and digital marketing firm. Jeremy works closely with businesses in need of a website, marketing and branding strategy, helping them to develop their unique value proposition and ideal customer profile. Jeremy received his BA from Merrimack College and his MBA from California State University, San Marcos.

 


4 Leaks to Plug in Your Lead Generation Strategy

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Stop losing money. Convert more leads. 4 Leaks to Plug in Your Lead Generation Strategy

There are a lot of different visuals that come into play when discussing a lead generation strategy. The lead funnel. The sales pipeline. The marketing workflow.

For whatever minor differences, they all share the metaphor of water flowing through something. For lead generation this is appropriate. A single crack in your funnel or pipeline and your carefully designed system begins to fall apart.

Over the past few years, the amount of content and social media messaging companies are creating has exploded. The main goal of this has been to increase website traffic and draw in more and more leads. In fact, HubSpot found that the top marketing priority in 2014 and 2015 was increasing the number of contacts and leads.

Now marketers are starting to ask an even more important question, what are we doing with those leads? In 2016, the number one marketing priority is converting contacts and leads into customers.

Your funnel/pipeline/workflow are full of leads, but how many of them are coming out the other side as customers? Are there any leaks in your lead generation strategy? Here are four areas to optimize to make sure no qualified lead is falling through the cracks:

  • Lead Capture

All of your inbound marketing works hard to grow an audience on your blog and social channels, but those follower counts don’t mean anything if you aren’t able to capture enough information to move the conversation forward.

This is one of the mistakes marketers make when trying to convert visitors and followers. The key is to only ask for enough information to move the conversation forward. Asking for too much information too early in the lead capture process can scare a potential lead away.

With the amount of marketing messages people are receiving on a daily basis, your audience is already apprehensive to give anyone their valuable contact information. Don’t make it difficult to exchange that information for whatever you are offering in return.

Want to learn more about Lead Capture techniques? These 8 classes from the Online Marketing Institute can help anyone in the digital space learn the fundamentals of demand generation.

Optimize Landing Page Conversions

Once you have an optimized and streamlined way of capturing lead information, avoid the temptation to overcomplicate it with a distracting landing page. Your landing page should clearly convey the value the lead will gain from providing their contact information. It should also be extremely clear on the action you’d like them to take. Unfortunately:

  • 48% of landing pages contain multiple offers. Keep yours simple to increase conversions.
  • Only 16% of landing pages are free of navigation bars. This gives your leads an option to leave your page without converting.
  • Only 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each lead capture campaign. Each landing page should be customized to the specific offer and campaign you are using.

Creating the perfect landing page for your offer can be a major challenge for marketers. By measuring and testing different approaches, you can zero in on a strategy that works for your business.

  • Have a Compelling Offer

If you’ve done your job correctly, your audience sees your company as a thought leader and a source of valuable information in your industry. The lead magnet is your chance to deliver on that promise.

While you may be able to capture your leads information with a great sounding title and an optimized landing page, it won’t do you any good if the magnet itself isn’t a valuable resource. You’ll have your leads information but you’ll have lost their trust. As you create different whitepapers, training videos, email courses and free trials, make sure you are asking whether or not this is content you’d be willing to pay money for.

Unsure of what your audience will find valuable? Using social media can give you insights into your audience’s preferences. By adding your follower’s social activities to create more enhanced lead data you’ll be able to develop much more targeted content.

As Jay Baer says, “the more you know about your customers, the more you can provide to them information that is increasingly useful, relevant, and persuasive.”

  • Start Lead Scoring

According to Gleanster Research, 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy. Moving your leads effectively through your pipeline requires a complete understanding of where they are in the buyer’s journey.

This understanding can only come from developing a system for scoring your leads. Despite its importance, 79% of B2B marketers are not engaging in lead scoring.

Rather than giving each lead the same amount of attention and lead nurturing – which means some leads receive more than they should and the more important leads receive less – rate your leads based on activity such as:

  • Subscribing to your blog
  • Following you on social media
  • Opening your email
  • Filling out a form on your site

A lead scoring system allows you to qualify and rank your prospects to engage with them over social and other channels in a much more customized and engaging way.

No matter what you do, you will never convert 100% of the leads that flow through your funnel. However, by creating an automated workflow and carefully analyzing it to ensure there are no major leaks, you can greatly increase your company’s ability to convert.

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.

 

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

 


What is the Difference Between Paid Content Marketing and Display Banner Advertising?

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Girl pondering the

What is the difference between paid content marketing and paid banner advertising?

Paid content marketing and display banner advertising (also paid for) are often thought to be at war with each other.

At first glance, their opposition seems obvious. With informative articles, free promotions, and interactivity that drives traffic inbound with users not even knowing it, content marketing appears far less intrusive than does display advertising, the old guard of online, outbound promotion, which gave us the Internet’s billboards: pop-ups, pop-unders, leaderboards, skyscrapers, and everything rectangular in between.

The reality is these forms are far less at war with each other than they are at peace. In fact in recent years, they’ve merged through a combination of methods employed in the fields of both native advertising and social media marketing. In this post, we explore how these two forms of marketing emerged, evolved, and combined to form much of what we see today when we visit a commercial website, as well as what a good marketing degree should offer in the way of training for these fields.

So how did banner ads and paid content get their start? By trading notes, essentially.

In 1994, banner ads initiated a boom through the 90s. Largely due to novel clickability afforded by their debut on several popular early websites like Hotwired and Yahoo, they earned a place of prominence among users of the World Wide Web. Around 1996, at the same time these ads were allowing a huge surge in the number of content-driven publishers like Hotwired that were able to generate substantial revenue selling ad space, the novelty of banner ads wore off—just as paid content was starting to spread its wings. In 1999, after a large dip in market value when banner ad effectiveness was measured to find 0.1% conversion rates, a rise in fear surrounding y2k, and the bursting of the Dot com bubble, online ad revenues dropped 32%, and investors started tightening their pursestrings during the first two quarters of the year 2000.

At this time, paid content and display advertising in particular retreated to lick their wounds. A period of market volatility ensued. That is, until Google AdWords came to the rescue. With new clickthrough and performance-based tracking technology available in 2002, Google introduced a new ad program that overhauled the landscape of online advertisement, transforming it from a predominantly paid placement model (i.e., the more buyers pay, the more their ad plays) to a predominantly pay-per-click model. This new advertising paradigm, which is still by and large the paradigm we use today, ranked and placed advertisements based on relevance to the user’s keyword searches rather than the size of a buyer’s bid at auction. Thus, a new era of online marketing was born: the era of search engine optimization, user-determined virality, and clickthrough-rate above all—an era in which paid content became king.

So what happened to banner ads after their crash opened up the road for paid content’s preeminence?

They went native. That is, they began to take notes from king content on how to be less intrusive. Much like product placement in movies or TV shows usually goes unnoticed but still leaves impressions that have been shown to influence comsumer behavior, the success of native advertising pressured brands to pay for dynamic content rather than throw money at static “Click Here!” ad campaigns. The result is that in this new age of adblockers and textual content, banner ads would no longer be able to fill our periphery with flashy pop-ups, or at least not on websites that had become conscious of the importance of publishing relevant content and creating pleasant user experiences. Some of the most popular examples of native advertising today are advertorials, promoted tweets, and those little branded posts we scroll past on our Facebook News Feeds: Sponsored posts (which are based on paid placement), Suggested posts (which are based on your Google searches), or posts from organizations that your friends have liked or shared (which are based on your well, your friends).

Now, the (quite literally) billion-dollar question. Where are we headed? If banner ads have been eclipsed by paid content, then what does their future hold? And if paid content is king, then what else do we have to look forward to in the fields of social media marketing and native advertising? More of the same regime?

These are very big questions that no one post can presume to answer in full. But it is safe to say that we can expect greater things than more of the same. Banner ads are predicted by some, including Forbes’ online advertising expert, Robert Hof, and an eMarketer study, to be making a comeback in 2016. Due to innovations in ad-buying technology, new understandings of user search behavior, and increased awareness of user demographics, both banner ads and paid content are being traded through a practice that blends the stock exchange with online advertising to produce a new, largely automated industry called programmatic buying. Since display ad trading comprises a big portion of this ad exchange market, and because the emperor Google has decreed that “programmatic is here to stay”, it’s safe to say banner ads are nowhere near extinct, and that the paid content industry should consider other ways to incorporate display advertising’s outbound techniques into their inbound marketing campaigns.

For all these reasons, we should expect colleges and universities to offer marketing degrees that train their students in the art and science of social media marketing, native advertising, and programmatic buying. Without them, students will be left behind in a time where paid content and banner ads were supposedly enemies from different industries, instead of friends with the same ends. Isn’t that the goal of marketing after all? To unify people over a product for which they can share their mutual appreciation?

This article was originally posted BestMarketingDegrees.org

Want to learn more? Visit the Online Marketing Institute to take classes in Content Marketing , Digital Advertising, and more.

 

 


8 Things to Do Immediately to Increase Your Blog Traffic by 3000 Visits a Month

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Increase Blog Traffic

8 Things To Do To Increase Traffic On Your Blog

Creating stellar content should be the prerequisite for any blog. But is that really enough to boost your blog presence?

Given the millions of blogs floating over the net, it’s even challenging for your great content to attract a pretty number of readers. It happens to all of us, a piece we expect to be a blockbuster falls short.

Still, if you implement these ideas below, you’ll be well on your way to a more popular, traffic driving blog.

Increase the Number of Articles You Post 

Quality content is a given, but not enough alone. According to Hubspot, websites that post over 16 blogs in a month get 3 times more traffic than those having 0-5 blogs posts monthly. Further, having more than 400 blog posts is said to double traffic over those having between 300 to 400 posts.

Similarly, online marketing Guru Neil Patel has found that increasing the number of blogs you post per week can significantly grow your monthly visitors.

Simply put,  more blog posts on your website means more visitors. Many recommend publishing 2 or more articles a week. Make sure to keep some blog posts long form, meaning about 2,000 words, so they can be easily cached by Google or other search engines.

Tweak Your Social Media Sharing

Social media can play a crucial role in the visibility of your blogs. This means building an effective social media strategy by targeting similar interest groups, networks, and pages to share your blogs. Stick to the basic principal of constant post updating and uploading.

Put an Emphasis on Guest Posting

Guest posting is the good way to increase your following. Find other websites or blogs that seem to have a good ranking and see if the editor is open to you placing a link to your website either in middle of the content or in the author bio. These links will drive traffic to your website, improving your site visibility. Besides dropping the website links, you can give the links to your social media profiles. Needless to say, if a reader likes your blog, they may think to follow you on your website and social media networks.

Choosing the right blogging site for guest posts can make the difference. Here are some tips from Kissmetrics for what to look for in a blog or website you want to guest post to:

  • Must Have Good Ranking and Traffic
  • Must Be of Your Genre
  • Must Have Engaged Readership
  • Must Have Active Blog Owner

Use Videos for Your Tutorial Blog

Apart from the textual content, a video is an impactful tool for engaging the reader. If your post is tutorial in nature, consider including a video summarizing the post. This increases engagement and SEO.

Make Your Newsletters Powerful

Email newsletters are not only beneficial for your web traffic but are great lead generators. If you’re a product based company an email newsletter is a must. All you need to pump it up is an active blog, and RSS feed and good pop up technique.

Switch to Responsive Design

Searching the net with mobile phones or tablets is common place. So, ensure your blog is responsive, thereby making it fit for every screen. Google has started rewarding mobile friendly sites in its SERP rankings. In other words, mobile ranking is crucial for your blog to be in the Google’s good graces.

Link to Other Bloggers in Your Article

Link to other blog posts or bloggers in your article and inform those blog owners or authors about your article via email, asking them to share. it’s a win-win situation for both of you.

Include Expert Opinions in Your Posts

Adding expert opinions gives your post/blog extra dimension. For example, if you are writing a medical blog on child diseases, adding a pediatrician’s commentary can add credibility to your post. Similarly, you can compile the opinions of different authors on any product launch or services. You can then ask the featured blogger or expert to spread or share the post. As a result, your website receives more attention.

Although some of these tips can take time, when taken together, you’re bound to be rewarded by new traffic and new leads. Good luck!

Author Bio: Varun Sharma is a Co-Founder at KVR WebTech Pvt. Ltd., one of the fastest growing seo companies in Chandigarh, India. He analyses Digital Marketing strategies, trends and practices emphasizing Mobile, SEO, Social Media and Content Marketing. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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).

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 1.27.38 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 1.30.13 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 1.30.46 PM

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