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How to Build an Engaged Social Media Community

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Editor's Note: Tess Pajaron works in business management for Open Colleges. Today, she joins us to explore how brands can build an active and engaged social media community.

 

While consumers have been using platforms like Facebook and Twitter for over a decade now - beginning with the raging success of MySpace in the early 2000s - brands have only begun to catch on in the last five years and realize the full potential of social media for marketing.

Social media not only makes people better, but offers plenty of amazing opportunities to businesses of every shape and size.

Instead of using social networks solely as marketing platforms to advertise products, companies can now use social media to build customer experience and create engagement. The ability to connect and communicate directly with a target audience allows brands to build a solid fan base and grow their community easily.

Here are 6 tips to help you create an engaged network of followers that will support your brand -

1. Make sure your business is easy to find

You can't grow your social media community or spread the word about your product unless customers can easily connect with your business.

Here are a couple of tricks you should use to make sure that your brand is accessible to customers and prospects:

  • Your social sharing icons should be prominent on your website
  • Feature the URL of your website and social media handles on business cards and other print media
  • Include a link to your brand website in social media channel descriptions
  • Personalize your email responses: don't solely rely on automated messages
  • Track all associated hashtags and mentions to know who is talking about you and your product. Engage with those who are!

2. Know your audience

Your social media community is not a homogeneous gathering of people who behave in the exact same way. Rather, it is comprised of individuals. Each one of them has unique reasoning and behaviors that predict how they will interact with your brand. Segment your audience, and target these smaller groups with the right messaging in order to reach them more effectively.

To create a strong social media community, good communication is vital. And in order to communicate well, you need to get to know your family. You will have a completely different relationship with different segments of your family. Your engagement with followers will differ on the basis of what you know, resulting in better responses.

3. Solve the problems of your followers

Use social media not just to directly promote your products, but to interact with your customers and learn what their key pain points are. If you want more results from your marketing, you need to do your best to solve problems for your customers.

Most likely, there are plenty of businesses out there that offer similar products to yours, so you need to stand out. That's something you can achieve by building trust in your community and helping your followers with issues unique to them.

Invite your community to join you in helping others deal with such issues. Promote user-generated content on your social media channels as well – that's how you build loyalty and offer real value.

4. Be generous

Motivate the members of your community to share their own content and spark exciting conversations on your social profiles. One way to do this is offering incentives, like coupons, or giveaways. Another way is by sharing user-generated content, and bringing valuable contributors into the spotlight.

Analyze your social media data to find out who your top contributors are. These will be the people responsible for engagement on your website. The more feedback signals you get – like shares or comments – the more likely the social platform is to show your posts to a higher percentage of your followers.

Create content for your top users. Be generous and add a personal touch to all your communications. That's how you build relationships and help fans feel connected in the community surrounding your brand.

Don't forget to keep the communication lines open and instantly respond to your followers if they reach out to you.  

5. Listen to your audience

To build a social media community, you need to produce content that your audience wants to consume. That's why your first step is finding out what they want, and there are many ways to go about doing this.

Create a quick video and ask your fans what they want to talk about. When your community provides you with answers, follow through by implementing new initiatives based on what they requested.  

Put your followers and their needs or desires at the center of your social media strategy. Actively listen to their social chatter to build further engagement.

Instead of asking your followers to share photos of the products that they purchased, ask them to share content that shows what your products have enabled them to do.

Make your social media channels focus on lifestyle, not just on products or services. You can be sure that purely promotional content will reduce engagement. Offer your fans behind-the-scene content that shows the inside of your company or how your product is developed. That's how you take your brand to the next level and develop a community of people who share a sense of purpose.

6. Be honest

People like to deal with businesses they trust. A smart way to build trust in your business is admitting to your mistakes when you make them. No company is 100% perfect. And some forget that it pays to be open and honest.

If you admit your faults and offer transparency in the face of criticism, you will win big among followers by showing your willingness to listen and your ability to adapt. On the other hand, if you try to mask a bad situation or avoid the problem, you will be on your way to destroying that trust. Show the human side of your business to win loyalty among your fans.

Conclusion

Social media is a great opportunity for brands, but building a community is about much more than just promotion. With a little bit of effort and creativity, you stand a great chance of engaging existing customers and raising your bottom line in terms of prospects and exposure.

Get started with any of the methods listed above, and watch your community grow!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

 

How to Perform Segmentation Using Google Analytics

Content Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

Crisis Management with Social Media

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media market

 


A Simple Guide to A/B Split Testing

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Editor's Note: Elena Tahora is a marketing manager at Web Design Malta. Today, she joins us to discuss how A/B Split Testing can improve the success of your online platforms, and various methods to make it work.

 

Creating a new website, ad, or conversion page can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark, and shooting in the dark is scary for online marketers. However, there is a way to make design choices more smartly: A/B split testing is a marketing technique that compares two separate versions of web content to determine which performs best on your audience.

The basic A/B testing process is easy to understand: after creating an item you want to test, you create small variations, and use trial runs to determine which has a higher conversion rate. The best version wins, and from that point on, further A/B tests can refine your product into something highly effective.

Applications

A/B testing has a diverse range of applications, and all of them can help to make the most of your web traffic. Options include:

  • Headlines and Subheadlines
  • Testimonials
  • Paragraph Text
  • Call to Action (CTA) Text
  • CTA Buttons
  • Links
  • Images
  • Social Proof
  • Content Near the Fold
  • Badges and Awards
  • Media Mentions

Although this list focuses on design features that can be optimized with A/B testing, the method can be used on basic sales copy as well. You can experiment with free trial lengths, pricing structures, sales promotion, delivery fees, and basically anything else that can be changed on your site.

While it's clear that this method can do a lot for your business, A/B split testing is also subject to many regulations which - unless followed carefully - can sink your website quickly. For this reason, it's generally safest to conduct your trials with tools designed specifically for the purpose.

In the following paragraphs, we'll review some of the best commercial A/B Split Testing tools. Let's jump in!

A/B Split Testing Tools

1. Content Experiments by Google Analytics

Google Analytics is such a prominent resource for online marketers that it hardly needs introduction. This suite of analysis tools is a baseline for data analytics across the web, providing users with an opportunity that none can rival: retrieving data directly from the world's largest search engine.

For A/B split testing, Google Analytics provides you with Content Experiments. This feature allows you to split-test page variants for a particular campaign. Advanced reporting options give you a detailed understanding of what worked, and why.

google a/b split testing

The main advantages for Google Analytics are: it's free. And as already mentioned, it taps into the largest source of content information on the web.

The only downside is that Google will not provide you with tools for generating variant pages, and Analytics is a complex tool which can be hard to understand if you're just starting out. For beginners, options with a more visual bent may be helpful.

2. Visual Website Optimizer

Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) is an effective A/B Split Testing tool with a great track record. Prominent case studies range from the car manufacturer Hyundai to computer chip maker AMD.

VWO is also very easy to use, involving the following steps for absolutely any content on your website:

  • Include simple source code from VWO on your webpage to make it active 
  • Developing variations on content using a visual HTML editor.
  • Select goals to optimize for (engagement, revenue, clicks, etc.)
  • Start running your tests and track the test results

VWO has a variety of plans that depend on the size of your business, beginning at $49.00 a month for sites with 10,000 monthly visitors.

3. Optimizely

Optimizely is both well-known and widely used, and specializes in boosting CTA conversion rates. Used by nonprofits such as the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, it's a great place to go if you want to increase your presence and get more people on board.

Optimizely has a three step process:

  1. You must collect data on your current site performance before deciding your goals.
  2. Predict future anticipated progress before creating variants to test.
  3. With variations set, you can start running the experiment and finish by analyzing the results obtained from the A/B split tests.

Optimizely has the big advantage of offering a thirty day free trial period which allows you to see how it works and what it can do before committing to any payment schemes. Pricing after this period is not published on the site, but reviewers indicate that it is mainly affordable for large or mid-range enterprises.

4. SiteSpect's A/B Testing Tool

SiteSpect is a company that offers extensive testing of business ideas, with a designated A/B testing platform that is very easy to use. The provided visual editing tools make it a cinch to brainstorm small adjustments, and generated analytics data will help your company to understand factors that affect conversion rates, reduce costs, drive revenue and mitigate risks.

Like Optimizely, SiteSpect offers a trial period which can help your company to determine if its worth the cost.

5. Unbounce

Not everyone needs the ability to test every font, subtitle, link or button on a website. Some people pursue A/B Testing for one specific goal, and that goal is common enough that Unbounce has one purpose: optimize landing pages.

Whether you are promoting a webinar, a course, or a single product, landing pages are an easy default destination for potential customers. A/B Testing with Unbounce will help you to optimize for the specific goal of gaining more conversions and sign-ups, and also offers more than 80 pre-designed landing page templates to experiment with in case you don't know where to start.

For some users, this tool has everything they need to get started. Through its simplicity and specialization, Unbounce offers a nice contrast to the range of complex features in Google Analytics.

Going Alone...

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, A/B split testing tools help you to avoid pitfalls that could reduce your site rankings. But in case you decide to forego tools and formulate your own code/strategy, bear in mind that Google is watching you, and it has a few things to say:

  1. Avoid cloaking. This means showing one variant of content to your normal site visitors, and another set of content to web crawlers. This is considered extremely fishy, and it's a sure way to get hit with a penalty.
  2. Use rel=“canonical” tags to distinguish a test page from the main version. This is more a matter of sensible practice than a law: unless Google knows which page is your real page and which is the test page, the real page may go down in rankings because visitors won't be able to find it.
  3. Use 302 redirects. When directing users away from a page to a test page, 302 redirects - as opposed to standard 301 redirects - tell Google that this redirection is only temporary. They'll back off and wait for you to finish.
  4. Get it over with. At some point, you have to get on with business and leave A/B split testing behind. So don't test forever, and don't perpetually use the exact same test. This is suspicious, and you'll get in trouble for it.

You can read Google's full list of detailed guidelines here.

Conclusion

Every online marketer wants more visitors, and after getting more visitors, more conversions and sales. A/B split testing is a great multitasking strategy which can boost response rate to a diverse range of prompts.

Whether you pick a tool or develop a strategy on your own, you can't go wrong by trying new things and seeing what works best.

 

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

Strategic User Experience Design

How to Create Personalized Web Experiences That Increase Engagement

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


How to Optimize Your Site for Lead Generation

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Editor's Note: Jane Hurst is a business writer and regular OMI contributor. Today, she joins us to discuss how your company's website can be optimized for lead generation.

 

Driving fresh traffic to your website is essential for getting new customers, and nowadays it’s vital for marketers to be strategic and creative when developing ways to build their client base.

As a further challenge, getting traffic is half the battle: afterwards, your site needs to be optimized to capture leads and turn them into sales. Otherwise, your visitors are meaningless statistics that won’t do anything for your business. If you are looking for ways to optimize your site for lead generation, here are some ideas to get you started.

Optimize at Every Step

Let’s say you are selling a rare kind of product. If someone has searched for the type of product you are selling and they end up on a blog post about it on your site, make sure that the post is linked to a relevant sales offer. This way you get to capitalize on the interest of incoming traffic and get more sales.

For instance, if your visitors are reading an article about a type of auto insurance policy, link to an offer for a deal on the auto insurance that you sell. You want to keep your visitors’ attention and get their business. Once they are thinking about a certain kind of item, they are never more likely to buy it: instead of waiting for them to browse your site further, make sure they can act immediately.

The moment someone visits your site, you can start to learn about how your conversion path works. If that path doesn’t take visitors where you want them to be, it is time to optimize that path to turn those leads into sales. The key is to keep giving visitors things to look at that they are interested in. If you can do this, then they are more likely to stay and come back for more down the road. If they really like what they see, they will recommend it to others, generating even more leads.

Use Thank-You Pages

A lot of marketers miss out on a big opportunity to deliver premium content to those who might be interested. Once visitors have submitted the form on your landing page and are taken to a thank-you page, include a link to informational content related to their purchase. This is an opportunity for you to suggest further offers that could be of interest. Never miss out on an opportunity to get more sales.

Send out an automatic thank-you email known as a “kickback email” after a transaction, and include more specific calls to action. Don’t go overboard and send daily emails. After a while, that approach will just land you in the spam folder. A good rule of thumb is not to send out offers more than once a week, and once every two weeks is considered a standard rate. This will keep you in your prospects’ minds without coming across as pushy or over-the-top.

Studies show that by using kickback emails, companies can double their engagement rates when compared with rates that result from traditional marketing emails. Calls-to-action aren’t just about selling to a particular lead, either: you can also include social media links and offers to encourage sharing and social engagement.

Take Advantage of Social Selling

Instead of using email as your main source of lead generation, consider what social selling can do for your company.

A content analytics tool like Leadfeeder can show you what companies your website visitors work for, and exactly what they are doing while on your website. This allows you to qualify your sales leads so that when it’s time to reach out, your sales reps knows the exact interests of each prospective buyer. Content analytics tools can often integrate with your email marketing tools and CRM to further increase lead-flow.

Leadfeeder is free and easy to set up; it can be used to identify new leads, get automatic reports, and output relevant data that will help you to know which leads are most promising.

Personalize Calls to Action

When using calls to action, aim to be personal. For instance, if someone has already visited your return policy page, you can use this information to be more personal with him or her the next time they visit. Let’s say a customer has visited your Father's’ Day Gift Guide page three times in the past two months. It’s time to create a call to action just for her: the next time she visits any page on your site, it can offer discount codes on Father's’ Day gifts.

A stranger obviously won’t see this level of personalization – at least not until until he or she has submitted a form. But the next visit can be tailored specifically for his or her interests. In order to pull this off, all you need is a set of simple tools such as Hubspot’s Content Optimization System. Using this or something similar will help you to serve up the smart content that you need to personalize messages for your leads.

Nurture Leads Individually

Getting a sale is an achievement, but getting repeat sales from the same customer is icing on the cake. Customers are people, and people will only stay interested in your company as long as you are interested in them: so stay interested.

As soon as a lead fills out a form on the landing page, put it right into your workflow. Send them useful content that is relevant to their interests and needs. The more you nurture, the more you are going to learn, and the more your customer will know when the time comes to close a sale.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

How to Get Clients & Generate Leads

Email Marketing Tactics

How to Create the Perfect Landing Page

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Fundamental Digital Marketing Techniques to Master in 2017

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Editor's Note: Teena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. To celebrate the launch of our new Digital Fundamentals Certification, she joins us today to discuss the most important digital marketing techniques to master in 2017.

 

You’re ready to get started in digital marketing – but how do you know where to begin? If you’ve done some research already, you know there are dozens of potential avenues to pursue, and you could fill a dictionary with terms you don’t fully understand. While it can be dizzying to navigate all the information you’ll run into, there’s a good place to start: master the key principles and techniques that will get you on the path to building your online presence and growing your client list.

In this article, we’ll spell out the basics of digital marketing strategy so you can get your feet in the water and start figuring out what will work best for you and your brand.

Strategy

What your digital marketing strategy will look like really depends on your goals. What do you hope your business will accomplish with an online campaign? How wide of a focus do you want to have? At this point, you should take account of simple factors like the size of your business, the scope of your campaign and your target audience.

When figuring out your target audience, you should construct a buyer persona – who are the people who likely want the product or service you are offering? Hubspot suggests collecting information such as location, age, income and job titles. This information is particularly important if you are targeting decision-makers, and those who can choose whether or not to buy into your offering. Analytic tools allow you to quickly sort your prospects based on the above factors, many of which can be gleaned from social media profiles. They can also build your social media audience – another key strategy – based on interests and keywords, thus increasing your traffic and growing your potential client list.

Once you’ve determined who you want to target, you will use multiple techniques to develop a strategy for capturing your audience wherever they are on the web. To accomplish this, digital marketing strategy has three main pillars: social media, your website, and email lists. Since almost everyone has a social media account, social media is a fantastic place to start building your online presence and connecting with your prospects.

Understanding the major social media platforms and knowing how to build a presence on them is a first step to communicating directly with the very audience you hope to attract. Knowing the style and personality of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat can help you decide what forum will work best for your brand. Blogging platforms or live streaming can also help you to drive traffic towards your site.

Anyone can build a social media presence, but the whole point for you as an online marketer is driving traffic to your website where you offer and advertise the products and services that you want your audience to see. Hosting content on your website in the form of helpful blog posts, webinars or whitepapers is a great way to engage your visitors. By maintaining a rich and living catalog of free content, you can vitalize your social media posts, and most importantly, build an email list.

Email lists form a very important part of every online marketer's toolkit. When visitors are interested in your content, an opt-in form can be used to offer them a free taste of what you have to offer. After collecting email addresses, marketing automation tools and list managers can be used to send targeted emails based on customer’s unique tastes and interests. This is a great and long-term supplement to social media.

Here are other strategic components you’ll also want to master to get started:

Aesthetics

A good website is nothing without good design, and the same goes for your social profiles and posts. In the same way that print or televised advertising must catch the eye, your digital marketing must be designed in a way that holds your prospects’ attention and clearly demonstrates your value proposition. Even seemingly simple choices like color are important decisions: 85% of buyers say color influenced their purchase, according to Revenizer. Using distracting fonts, generic stock photography or failing to visually differentiate your brand are big mistakes when designing your digital marketing campaign. Ensuring you communicate clearly with your web visitor as soon as they land on your site and hold their attention afterwards are key techniques for the best digital marketers.

 

Analytics & ROI

You need to know if your campaign is working, right? You need to know that you’re getting a return on any investment of time and money into your digital marketing campaign. Analytics helps you to figure that out, and make smart adjustments as you go along. While you might think of analytics as data that measures web traffic – (think Google Analytics) Hubspot points out that’s only the beginning. More important is the connection between your social media and email marketing efforts, and measurable results such as prospective leads and conversion to sale rates.

Having a good handle on your marketing analytics lets you see exactly which channels are most effective with which targets – is your Twitter campaign strategy effective, or are you getting more volume from direct email? Or are they effectively tying in together? You want to know not only how many people clicked through to your website, but which ones were converted into clients.

SEO & SEM

When people are researching products, they’ll type keywords into Google, Bing or other search engines. Search Engine Marketing lets you use those keyword searches to raise your website higher on the list of results people see, and target digital advertising in the right places. Consider that 89% of consumers use a search engine to look for information before investing in a service or product, and 70% of buying decisions begin with those queries. You want to make the most of this fact. Getting to know tools which help in this area can help you improve your company’s search engine optimization (SEO), and thereby improve your target audience reach.

Search Engine Watch says that search engines seek factors such as quality content, fast web performance, and user experiences. While optimizing your pages can mean incorporating the most-often-searched keywords relating to your service or product, it’s about more than “keyword stuffing.” It’s also about having user-friendly content answers to the questions or pains that your prospects are looking to solve.

Can enhancing your SEO take time and expense? Sure. But Ballantine estimates the ROI on SEO in 2014 was $21.93 for every dollar invested. That compares with $6.48 in revenue for television advertising, $8.29 in telemarketing or $10.06 in newspaper ads. The investment is a good bet.

While the realm of digital marketing is complex and goes beyond the principles outlined here, these techniques form the foundation of every good digital marketing strategy. No matter who you are, what you’re selling, or who you want to reach, the Internet is big, and everyone starts in the same place. Now that you have the basic principles for building a digital marketing strategy, why not get started today? You’ll discover the effort is well worth your time, energy and investment.

Want to master digital fundamentals? Get certified with OMI 

 


5 Easy Ways to Find The Right Keywords For Ads

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Editor's Note: Roy Dopaishi writes about content marketing and advertising for Paidtraffic. Today, he joins us to share the best methods for finding great keywords to use in content and PPC campaigns.

 

An AdWords campaign is driven by keyword research. Target the right keywords, and your ads appear at just the right moment when prospects are searching for the products and services your business offers. But if you target keywords that are too broad or narrow, you run the risk of failing to reach customers and wasting your adspend.

This is why it’s so important to identify the right keywords before launching your campaign. But what’s the best way to do it?

There are many tools to help you with this vital task. Google’s Keyword Planner is often cited as a useful start - in addition to giving keyword ideas, it uses analytics to make predictions and improve suggestions.

The problem with Google’s tool is that thousands of others use it, so there will most likely be plenty of competition for your target keywords. Relying solely on this tool also restricts your reach, as it only provides limited keyword samples.

Fortunately, there are many other methods of finding the right keywords to target. Implementing these can give your AdWords campaign a major competitive advantage, since most advertisers don't bother. Let’s get started!

  1. Question and Answer Sites

Quora is an excellent way to find common questions that prospects are asking.

A search for “kitchen remodeling” yields the following results:

quorasample

Browsing through Quora results provides rich keyword suggestions that you may have otherwise missed. These queries can then be plugged into Keyword Planner to generate even more ideas.

For example: if your business does kitchen renovations, then after reading related conversations, you might include keywords such as “cost of kitchen remodel” or “finance a kitchen remodel” in your ad groups. These are also excellent topics to create blog posts around.

Yahoo Answers is another popular question and answer site you can use to find keyword ideas.

  1. Google Keyword Suggestions

When typing in a search query, Google displays keyword suggestions in the search box.

keywordsuggestions

This is another way to find related keyword ideas based on your initial search query. Entering in different letters of the alphabet displays additional results. However, typing in each letter and copying the results can be rather tedious.

KeywordTool.io is a free keyword research tool that uses Google Autocomplete and other search engines including YouTube and Amazon to generate a comprehensive list of keywords. This tool parses the results so you can easily select relevant keywords and export them to a spreadsheet.

keywordtool

Here is an example of Google Autocomplete results:

autocomplete

And results from Amazon:

amazonresults

One thing to keep in mind is keyword intent and type. Simply adding every single keyword to your ad groups is a recipe for disaster. Instead, think about the intention behind your keywords and whether they apply to your business.

  1. Competition Research

There is one source you should never overlook: your competitors.

Competitors in your industry are more than likely using AdWords to bid on relevant keywords, so keeping an eye on your competitors can provide additional keyword ideas. Identify competitors by searching for your target keywords and entering their URLs into SEMrush.

Here is an overview of top organic keywords for trekkinghero.com:SEMrush

And top paid keywords:

SEMrushtop

 

Note that the tool only provides limited keyword data. To see a full report, you need a paid subscription to the site, but you can perform basic keyword research for free.

  1. LSI Keywords

Search engines are getting increasingly sophisticated.

LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are phrases semantically related to your main keywords. For instance, if a page contains keywords like “Apple”, “Macbook”, and “computer”, Google knows the page is about technology rather than fruit, and won't deliver it to the wrong people.

Use tools like LSIGraph to generate a list of LSI keywords:

LSIGraph

These keywords can not only be added to your campaign, but included within the content on your page to help it rank better in organic search results.

  1. Your Own Search Data

If you have a Google AdWords campaign running, then you already have potentially valuable keyword data at your fingertips.

You can view actual search terms that have triggered your ads from the Campaigns menu. Simply click the “Keywords” tab, and then click the “Search terms” button:

adwordsmenu

 

The Search Terms report shows queries that are triggering your ads.

This information is valuable for two reasons, as you can:

  • Identify search terms with high profit potential
  • Identify irrelevant terms to add as negative keywords

Be sure to regularly comb through your own data to find more valuable keywords to add to your PPC campaign.

Conclusion

Finding the right keywords is essential to gain measurable results, and it doesn’t take much effort. Less than half an hour of your time can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your ads, so there simply are no downsides to doing the research. Take advantage of your new knowledge, gain an edge on your competitors, and get started today!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Fundamentals of Measuring Search ROI

Creating and Curating Content People Love

SEO For Business Owners

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


5 Ways to Boost Your Video Marketing Strategy for Millennials

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Editor's Note: Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist who writes for SEO Sandwitch. Today he joins us to discuss good video strategy for attracting a millennial audience.

 

An extensive knowledge of all things digital make millennials a complicated segment of consumers to attract. So why do marketers put up with them? Maybe because millennials also have the greatest buying power of any generation, which automatically gives them the biggest consumer voice. Marketers are therefore willing to overcome a multitude of quantitative and qualitative challenges to fulfill their requirements, starting with a rapid pace of technological advancement.

Changing Face of Video Marketing Strategy

Out with the old, in with the new – that’s the mantra video marketing professionals should bear in mind if they wish to stay relevant and sell their products online to millennial consumers, who value originality, sincerity, and creativity above all else. Marketers should focus on finding an original voice for video marketing, one that captures the attention of a culture that gives precedence to personal expression.

At the same time, they should be also mindful of brand consistency and utilize performance marketing data to optimize their content. This is more complex than it sounds, and there is no single, overarching solution. But don’t let the messiness scare you away: by following generally good practices and mixing in your own ideas, it’s not hard to create video content that millennials will appreciate and respond to.

Below you will find five points for devising a competent video marketing strategy targeted to millennial customers -

1. Build Your Strategy on Video Marketing, Not the Other Way Around

In the millennial age, videos no longer play a merely supporting role in your marketing campaign: they have grown to become their own unique marketing strategy. A millennial audience will often begin by consuming video content before entering your sales funnel, and they respond to a style that emphasizes personal expression and reflects consumer sensibilities. For this purpose, the fundamentals of video communication are vital components in your new marketing strategy. Communicating effectively through videos will drive emotional engagement across various disciplines, from customer relationship management to product marketing and cross-platform paid advertising. Learn how a good video is constructed on a fundamental level, and use that knowledge to drive content across your marketing efforts.

2. Take Time to Analyze Your Target Audience

Some marketers think it’s important to deploy an especially complicated and well-researched video strategy when catering to millennials. This can give marketers a feeling of paralysis as they reflect on possible inadequacies in their finances, logistics and brand. It is true that best practice for video marketing geared towards millennials requires some fine-tuning, particularly in terms of identifying the right audience groups. However, that does not mean companies have to sit down and completely rethink their brand to accomplish this.

Narrowing the broader domain of ‘millennials’ into manageable segments is a much easier task thanks to digital marketing tools that largely automate the work. Insight into the best millennial-targeted video marketing strategy comes from testing, analysis, and scale. This is vital to your marketing strategy, since the millennial generation has a hard time trusting too many people too fast.

Instead of attempting to impress your target audience with a traditional advertisement-focused video marketing campaign, your video strategy should be different: it should be extremely visual, experiential, personal, and easy to comprehend.

3. Have the Right Video Marketing Support

Video marketing professionals should have provisions in place to counter the consumer shift in digital platforms. This means arranging for video support that complements your existing production plan:

  • Understand your budget. A large budget will allow you to create impressive 360-degree videos which are sure to draw audience’s attention. Even if you’ve got a smaller budget, you can still create amazing video marketing content in VR.
  • Kajabi is a great platform for people to create and sell content, courses etc. For video makers, this is a great way to make money from their work; for you, it’s a great resource for supplementing your video library.
  • ClickMeeting is a leading webinar solution that enables you to easily generate instructional campaigns.

In every case, you should not rely on any single solution to generate great video content. Creativity and thoughtfulness is essential to set your brand apart from competitors, which means that experimentation is a must.

4. Crowdsourcing, and other creative strategies

When settling on a long-term production strategy for your video content, there are three possibilities:

  1. You can rely on an internal video-marketing team
  2. You can outsource these responsibilities to freelancers
  3. You can crowdsource your content

While the end goal is always to become as self-reliant as possible, don’t forget the importance of creativity in reaching out to millennials. Before settling on a style, be willing to try things out. Find different approaches, and see what works best. By reaching out to freelancers from popular sites like Freelancer and Upwork, you can find diverse talents. Crowdsourcing platforms like veed.me will also give you instant access to new and exciting ideas.

When you find something that works well, you can stick with it and build from there, but don’t confine yourself in the beginning. Strict boundaries will only put a limit on your versatility.

5. Consider Utilizing Artificial Intelligence

The video marketing landscape has greatly changed in the last decade, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is partly responsible for that. Believe it or not, AI can be used to generate creative ideas for video content. Understandably, some people find the idea of machines driving creative output bizarre and borderline offensive. But when properly utilized, AI will drive and augment human expression rather than supplant it. Don’t think in terms of creative cannibalization, but rather in terms of extended capability.

Martech Advisor has done a good story on how AI can empower video campaigners. New tools like Magisto can speed up the video production process by an exponential factor, helping you to set a good pace and dramatically decrease costs. While it may seem like a novel idea, it’s one more creative solution to consider in order to further differentiate your brand and appeal to a market driven by an appetite for innovation.

Conclusion

In an Internet-driven world, millennial audiences have become extremely fragmented, and video marketers must contend with new challenges if they wish to tap into the millennial market. That being said, the sheer potential of a properly executed video marketing strategy, combined with the purchase/social media power of millennials makes for a blockbuster formula.

The points mentioned above will help you in exploring and defining your video marketing strategy for a new generation of millennial buyers. The risk is small, and the upsides are massive, so find a point that seems helpful and get started today!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Marketing to Millennials

Video & Multi-Screen Strategies

How to Create a Content Segmentation Plan

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


23 Better Ways to Write a Follow Up Email

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Editor's note: Belle Balace is a social media strategist with Visme, and Leslie Ye is a marketing editor with HubSpot. Today, they've shared an infographic with us designed to help marketers send more effective follow up emails.

When contacting business prospects, writing a follow up email is as crucial as reaching out. In follow up emails, you have to be straightforward yet engaging in order to elicit a response without coming across as pushy.

It may take days or weeks before you get replies, even if you’ve already sent a few emails, and this can be discouraging. But when you don't get a response, don't immediately give up! Here’s a little wisdom from Thomas Edison: “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this - you haven’t.”

You may be doing or saying the same things over and over again and forgetting to try new ideas in your follow up emails. Be persistent, but don’t be that annoying person who constantly says ‘just following up’ like a verbal tic - that's just stating the obvious, and it will turn people off after awhile.

Next time you write a follow up, try being creative and thoughtful. The more personalized and unique your emails, the better your chances of getting a response. Take time to investigate good ideas, seek advice from the email marketing experts you know, and run A/B tests to see what kind of follow up emails work best for you.

If you're looking for inspiration, here are 23 follow-up emails you can try when you've used up all the generic templates:23_better_alternatives_to_the_just_checking_in_email_1

Learn more with these related OMI classes: 

Email Marketing Tactics

Successfully Measuring Email Performance

Click here to sign up!

 


Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Paid Traffic Conversion Rates

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So you’ve got your Google AdWords or other PPC advertising up and running, but now what? Unfortunately, the work is far from over if you want to achieve optimum results.

In fact, the hard slog begins as soon as your campaign goes live. By this we mean optimization. More specifically, conversion rate optimization (CRO). And when it comes to perfecting your paid traffic, there’s always room for improvement.

What is CRO and why is it so important?

So you might be getting the traffic, but what good is that if you’re not generating any decent leads yet? CRO is about changing things up on your site and applying different tactics to enhance the user experience, and ultimately turn visitors into customers. It’s an effective way to improve your conversion rate without having to increase your overall adspend.

Over to our proven top 10 CRO tips.

1. Match your message

It’s absolutely imperative your ads align with what’s marketed on your website. Be genuine and don’t make overzealous claims about your product or service that could mislead your visitors.

Make sure the landing page you’re sending them to has the content they’re looking for. High bounce rates can account for visitors clicking through from your ad, only to be presented with a landing page that doesn’t deliver the goods.

2. Optimizing your Landing Page?

bounce-rate

The readability and relevance of your landing page is another big factor that can determine whether your visitors stay or jump ship.

What kind of user experience are you creating for your visitors once they click through to your landing page? On a very basic level, landing page optimization can be boiled down to 2 key factors - matching intent and testing different ad sets.

Check out this class to learn more about optimizing your landing page to improve conversion.

3. Tweak your headline

As in other forms of advertising, your headline is the attention grabber. So take the time to refine your hook. Adding numbers to a headline is always a useful trigger, but make sure they are relevant.

4. Review your call to action (CTA)

Just as important as your headline is your CTA. Ensure you are clear and direct about the desired outcome. What is it that you want your visitors to do? The copy and design of your CTA can make a big difference to your conversions. If you have a text link CTA, consider using a button to make it stand out more. Creating a sense of urgency in your copy will also go a long way.

5. Add videos and images

The buzzword for 2016 was video and this still holds true. Including a video on your landing page is more likely to spur interest and engagement from your visitors than text. Among the different types of videos, Introductory, review and explainer videos tend to provide good results.

Don’t overlook image selection either. Choosing the right image can evoke the kind of emotions that will turn visitors into customers. On the flip side, the wrong image might send them off in the opposite direction. Never underestimate the power of an image!

6. The proof is in the social pudding

We all love a recommendation - it’s why word of mouth is so effective, followed closely by social proof. Including proof of your brand likes, shares, customer reviews, testimonials and product ratings will influence purchase decisions, and also build trust.

7. Speed up your site

It’s the little things that count. Site speed can make a huge difference, so you should at least check to ensure your website is running at its best. No one wants to visit a site that takes ages to load - who has time for that? You can lose dozens of prospective customers thanks to a few milliseconds of lag.

8. Show your scarcity

For e-commerce sites in particular, scarcity is a powerful tactic. Including the limited number of stock available for certain products will create a sense of urgency for a visitor, and instigate an immediate purchase response. Why would they want to miss out if there’s only “2 left in stock” or if you’re running a limited time deal?

9. Include contact information

Prominently including a phone number, email address or other means of contact on your homepage adds more credibility to your site. Just knowing they can talk to a real person if they need to makes visitors feel more comfortable and raises trust of your products/services.

10. Test it out & analyse

You won’t know what works best unless you test. Running A/B split tests on important variables like your landing page copy, sign up forms, color palette, images and CTA will help towards improving your conversions.

Heat maps are also a great way to understand what attracts your visitors’ attention, by clearly showing where their eyes are drawn on a page. Based on the data you receive from a heat map, you can add or remove details from your page accordingly.

We don’t suggest you start implementing all of these tactics at once; you may find that one small change will go a long way. This is where it’s handy to have a dedicated Google AdWords expert to advise you on best CRO strategy can be helpful. Whatever you do we hope these tips will help pave the way to higher conversion rates for your campaigns!

A version of this article first appeared on Paidtraffic

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Turn Website Visitors into Customers via Conversation OptimizationCreating and Curating Content People Love, Social PR

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

 


How to Get More Traffic to Your Blog in the New Year

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For most of us, the new year is motivation to sort out our digital mess, clear the inbox and fix old bugs. I like starting a new year with the feeling of old stuff being sorted. This way I feel better prepared for new projects and challenges in the New Year.

As business owners and marketers, one of the things we tend to put off is sorting out our blogs. We’ve become accustomed to handling small inconveniences and bugs. Many of us can  barely find time to publish new content let alone find the time to research the  countless new plugins available or update old articles.

Well, I hate to break it on you, but getting all that technical staff in order is probably more important than publishing new content. Lack of security opens you up to the risk  of losing all your precious content. . Slow pages and broken links means lost readers and conversions. You need to start thinking about your blog performance now, so you can  start the new year with a better converting, more successful blog. So what to do to first?

Fear not, this checklist will take you through the complicated lists of plugins and tools, so  you can get right down to execution.

Step 1: Fix or remove broken links

One of the most widespread issues with a website of any age is broken links. Broken links present both SEO and usability issues. The more broken links your site has, the less trustworthy it looks both to a user and a web crawler. You may have no control over pages that go down over time (resulting in broken external links) but you are fully responsible for the links that you have on your pages, even older ones.

It's impossible to keep track of broken links and images, even if you have a smaller site. You need a reliable tool to handle this for you.

Netpeak Spider is an ideal solution for larger-scale websites. It's a desktop program, so you won't have compatibility issues with your browser. It’s also fast, and very flexible - you don't have to be an SEO expert to use it. Just run the tool regularly and fix new errors as they are found. Look for errors in red, those are the most important to eliminate.

netspeak

If you have a small blog, make sure to install the awesome Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin. It may slow your site down if you have too many pages, but it works great for blogs with under ~500 articles.

To avoid slow-downs and downtimes, you should disable automatic crawling to make sure it will run a new report on demand.

The plugin saves a ton of time by letting you remove broken links right from its dashboard.

linkchecker

Step 2: Keep an eye on your site security

Did you know that around 37,000 websites are hacked every day? It's no joke! Even with some security measures taken, you still run the risk of getting hacked. Huge sites, with multi-million dollar budgets like Yahoo! and LinkedIn are regularly hacked, and WordPress is not the most secure environment out there.

A proactive measure is submitting your website to  Google's Search Console. They have one of the largest databases of compromised websites, and they almost instantly know once a new site has been hacked. They will send you an email once they notice anything weird with your website so you can take measures on the spot.

Now that we have monitoring in order, make sure you have taken these steps:

  • Always update your WordPress version as soon as possible, and update your plugins as well.
  • Always install well-trusted plugins. Search Google before installing anything and only install from the wordpress.org website.
  • Never keep "admin" as a user. Come up with a different username for the blog administrator and use a powerful password (later versions of WordPress will generate a good one, so just go with it).
  • Use Login LockDown to limit login attempts.
  • Never login to your blog using public WiFi, never give anyone admin access unless you know and trust them, never give anyone permissions to upload anything to your blog (use standard contributor permissions for your site contributors).

Step 3: Make sure you address downtime timely

How often is your site down? According to these stats, even the most popular hosting providers have terrible uptime numbers. Your site may be down without you even realizing. Being offline is one of the worst thing that can happen to a digital entity. It means your website visitors have nowhere to click, no way to get in touch with you, and no way to engage.

Try Monitority to be notified whenever your  site is down. The tool is absolutely free and the moment your site goes down, your email is pinged so you can look into the problem right away. If you have a few sites to manage, give Pingdom a try. It has some cool analytics and monitoring reports you'll find useful. Pingdom also talks to the monitoring dashboard with Cyfe.

cyfe

Step 4. Find better keywords for your old content

Your content can be outstanding, and people may still not be able to find it. That means wasted effort. It's a new year coming, time to make the most of your old content so you’re ready to create new articles.

Try Serpstat to discover good keywords and optimize older articles. Just take a core term from your article, run it in Serpstat and set the competition filter between 0% and 3% to discover relevant phrases that may take you on top of Google's search results page.

results

Step 5. Try and push those search positions higher

There are tons of search queries that your site is already ranking for. You may be unaware of those because they rank below the fold and hence they are not sending too much traffic. However, these are often keywords that have huge potential.

Try Google's Search Console "Search Analytics" feature to show you which search queries are driving traffic to your blog. Make sure to check a box called "Position" (for some reason, it's unchecked by default). This way you'll see your page average position for each search query.

analytics

If the average position of a keyword is 5 or lower but it's driving traffic, this means two things:

  • It will send tons of visits if it's #1 or even #3.
  • It is not that hard to push it higher, without additional effort.

What to do with these keywords:

  • Discover which exact pages are ranking for the term.
  • Use this WordPress plugin to send more internal links to that page.

Usually, this quick exercise results in 2-3 higher positions and therefore better traffic.

Are you ready to take action? Hopefully this checklist will get you started. Happy New Year!

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? 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.

 


Demystifying Predictive Marketing for Brands

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Searching for Answers About Predictive Marketing for Brands

The term predictive marketing can conjure up thoughts of either complicated data science or mystical fortune-telling. But it’s really not that complicated or mysterious.

Prediction boils down to finding patterns in data, specifically patterns that let you calculate the likelihood of future actions or desired outcomes.

For example, if you have customers who purchased a product or service – like high-end bed linens or on-demand doctor services – then you can use data to find new people who are likely to buy those same products. We call these people likely to buy, net-new prospects. ‘Net-new’ just means people who’ve never heard about or been customers of your business.

Unfortunately, before predictive marketing, the word ‘prospect’ was a flimsy term that usually pointed to a random person, who perhaps was a certain age or gender. ‘Psychographic’ criteria were added over time, in an attempt to account for things like people’s activities, opinions or possessions. But, marketers couldn’t effectively process demographic, psychographic and other data all together – in toto – so no one really knew if these prospects would love or buy a product.

Today, the word prospect is becoming a more accurate and powerful word for B2C marketers. True predictive-based, net-new prospects are people new to your business and who are going to love and buy your products. For customer acquisition marketers, real net-new prospects are what dreams are made of. Predictive marketing lets you find and acquire them.

To help further demystify predictive marketing, here are a few other misconceptions—

The Top 5 Myths Of B2C Predictive Marketing

Building Predictive Models Takes A Long Time

This was the case at one time, however advances in technology like machine learning and cloud computing have dramatically reduced the time it takes to build powerful and accurate models. With the right software, you can now build models on a daily or even hourly basis.From data preparation, to model building, to scoring prospects for campaigns – the process can be streamlined for better customer acquisition.

You Need Data Scientists, Statisticians or Analysts To Build Predictive Models

Predictive models can now be created easily in the cloud. It doesn’t require technical subject matter experts. Any marketer can build a solid model themselves in minutes, which is great, because there is still a human element and marketers are best suited for the job.A software platform can build a model (or a data scientist, if you have time and money to waste), but knowing the customer base and marketing strategy will enable the proper reasoning behind building a model in the first place.

Marketers can quickly grasp what they need to know about how modeling works. It has become an accessible discipline like content marketing or digital advertising. As you plan, build, and implement predictive models, your familiarity with predictive details like ‘tiles’, ‘scoring’, and ‘likelihoods’ increases over time.

More importantly, marketers know what to do with model results. They can rapidly run acquisition campaigns to predictive-based prospects and feed results back into the modeling software for continued campaign improvements and optimization.

Building Predictive Models Is Expensive

In-house, manual data science is expensive due to the team and resources required. Meanwhile, outsourced, manual model building can cost many thousands of dollars per model – that’s just for building and doesn’t cover the cost of implementation. Predictive software platforms are cutting overhead by using machine learning and algorithmic prospecting to automate the building of custom, sophisticated predictive programs. The result is better modeling and implementation than previously available, yet at a reduced cost.

Transactional Customer Data Is Sufficient To Build Predictive Models

Brands are rich in data. Or are they? Transactional customer data is an advantage, but by itself won’t let you find net-new customers, who have yet to purchase your product. You also need demographic, financial, and behavioral characteristics to determine who your best customers will be, beyond previous spending that occurred. Predictive software platforms are able to enrich existing customer transaction data with hundreds of other valuable pieces of information.

Likewise, third-party behavioral and community data is a vital resource that allows you to reach net-new customers and avoid ‘red oceans’. (Red oceans are where companies for limited pools of customers reducing them all to competing on price.) Predictive software processes external data to open up immense pools of relevant prospects, new to your brand, who will look and act like your best customers.

Predictive Models Don’t Work / They Aren’t Better Than Univariate Targeting

Targeting prospects based on a single variable or imagined personas are expiring solutions. Marketers have relied on simple targeting, because there wasn’t a better option. When trying to hone in on future buyers, it was better to identify at least one, or a few, meaningful variables that ostensibly indicated something important about customers or prospects. This has limitations in the real world. People are more complex that simple persona-based modeling or univariate targeting can account for.

As marketers, we’re used to making assumptions about our ideal customer and potential buyers. We’ve grown used to attributing traits to segments like “Eco-Conscious Moms,” based on anecdotal evidence or severely fragmented data, which – when put to the test – doesn’t correlate or predict future purchase behavior. It’s not our fault. Marketers chose the best criteria available, but have been missing the many hundreds of variables and characteristics that give a true and dynamic view of customers and can identify best prospects.

Try it – run a campaign with predictive-targeting versus a random or univariate selection and check the results. With a control group, you’ll clearly see the power and ROI of predictive prospecting.

 

This article was originally published on the Predictive Analytics Blog.