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How to Win the Online Marketing Battle

30 Jan

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The quest to convert target customers into clients is never-ending. The battle to connect with such clients has moved to the web across the past couple decades. It is no longer enough to advertise on radio, TV, billboards, magazines, and/or newspapers. If you own, manage or advertise for a business, it is imperative you win the online marketing battle. Here’s how to do it:

Tap Into the Power of Inbound Marketing

Today’s competition for business requires exposure those who spend time on the web as well as those who do not use computers or smartphones. Just about every company needs a healthy mix of traditional outbound marketing with inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is all about connecting with clients who already express an interest in your product or service. These are the prospects who are most inclined to transition into loyal customers. Consider adding something like a membership form for your website. This way, new visitors to the site will be able to obtain more information about your offerings. Whether it is a membership for discounts, industry information, product/service updates or anything else to keep target customers in the loop. Regular correspondence with such clients keeps your company at the forefront of their mind. This consistent contact through online channels will prove essential to keeping target clients thoroughly engaged with your business.

If an online membership or club does not jive with your business and what you offer, consider implementing an email marketing campaign in which those who have expressed an interest in your offerings are provided with an electronic newsletter. An email campaign such as a newsletter will establish your business that is worthy of respect as well as prospective clients’ business. Though an email marketing campaign, online membership or other clubs might not generate an immediate impact on the bottom line, it will catalyze business as time progresses. Be patient, make a genuine commitment to inbound marketing and you will enjoy an uptick in business in the ensuing months and years.

Social Media Matters

Business owners and managers who take the time to study their competitors will likely find these groups have a strong presence on social media. If your organization has not yet established a presence on the popular social media sites, it is time to do so. Appoint a social media manager to manage your company’s accounts on these platforms. This professional will ensure prospective clients are engaged on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites. Use these platforms to provide clients with updates regarding products and services, tips from industry insiders, sales updates, and other important information.

Establishing a presence on social media does not mean you have to employ a full-time social media marketing manager who makes a lofty salary with full benefits. Rather, you can start out with a part-time employee and gradually increase the workload as time progresses. In fact, you might find it prudent to lean on a tech-savvy employee to handle social media responsibilities during lulls in work. Above all, your company’s social media presence should be engaging. Provide interesting information that gives prospective clients insight or facts and they will begin to view your company as a trustworthy authority figure worthy of their business.

Content is Still King

It is often said content is king when it comes to the web. This statement was true a decade ago and it is still accurate in 2018. Companies that generate a steady stream of intriguing content that helps customers solve problems or better understand the product or service offering will inevitably enjoy a spike in business. However, any old content will not engage prospective clients. The content must be laden with keywords and key phrases relevant to your industry and possibly even your locale, depending on the type of services and products you provide. The use of such keywords will help your content rank high on search engine results pages. Highly-ranked website pages will lure in target customers, provide them with captivating content and ultimately lead to a considerable bump in conversions.

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How Automation Sets You Up for Big Growth

23 Jan

 

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If you have not embraced the AI revolution in marketing, you will soon find your business squarely behind the eight ball in your industry. Automation is one of the core implements/takeaways/precursors of artificial intelligence. Its proper use sets you up for big growth in every aspect of business. Here’s how:

Cost Reduction

Big growth doesn’t start with big revenues. You need to shore up your supply side first, and automation in either your production or your marketing can help tremendously.

Production automation has been a part of our business culture since the Model-T Ford assembly lines. The modern version of this automation actually helps in the procurement of more personalized vehicles – the money a company makes from selling the base model aids in customization for special customers. The same is true of your marketing department – use automation to cut down on your manpower and overhead in customer acquisitions to redirect those resources into loyalty programs, PR, and mid-level sales funnel functions.

Customized Manpower

Big growth comes from big ideas. Big ideas don’t come from your CRM, logistics or administration software. No matter how robust those platforms may be, they can only organize and feed off of the data that your employees put into it.

If your employees spend all day on repetitive tasks, they are demoralized and otherwise unable to deliver the unique ideas that give your company its unique personality and core competencies. When they are relieved of tasks that require only a rote knowledge of procedure and mental function, they respond with customized ideas that lead to higher ROIs (even if most of them are never implemented). This is why Facebook and Google give their employees 20% of the workday to brainstorm and even fund some of the best ideas from those sessions. You may not have Facebook and Google money, but you can do the same thing on a smaller scale by giving your employees the gift of marketing automation.

Higher Revenues

Automation in your marketing department can lead directly to higher revenues. If you find a message that resonates with a certain buyer profile, that message should be repeated. There is no reason to employ a human to key in this message over and over – this is when automation is most useful. Modern automation platforms allow you to imprint cursory personalization modifiers into a repeated message for a more sophisticated communication.

Many companies forego marketing automation because they believe the technique is see-through. The true strength of marketing automation is that your clients know you are using it. You are in the B2B marketplace – most of your clients are probably serving their clients using the same techniques! Your buyers are more interested in your professionalism while using the tactic. Can you keep up with your own lines of communication? Do you direct the correspondence to the correct person? Do you know when in the sales funnel to create truly personalized messages?

Channels for Outreach

You can synchronize your communications channels through modern automation. Your social media outreach should be high on your list of priorities to automate as much as possible.

You can easily save time and money by updating all of your social media channels as you update one of them. IFTTT is a great resource to begin the process, although there are more sophisticated platforms out there.

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7 Tips to Create Your 2018 Trade Show Budget

16 Jan

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Creating a trade show budget for 2018 is a skill that pays off in a better use of company resources. By following the tips below when making the budget for this crucial aspect of marketing your business, you’ll be able to develop a more accurate template of the necessary costs.

  1. Exhibit Space = 30 percent

Allocate about 30 percent of your trade show budget to the expense of the trade show itself. As the largest expense in the budget, this amount covers any fees associated with exhibiting at the event as well as extras for a prime location, if possible.

  1. Staffing and Travel = 20 percent

The second largest expense of your trade show budget will be for staffing and travel. Count expenses such as transportation, meals, and lodging for staff. If the staff needs additional training in order to work the trade show booth effectively, add those costs too.

  1. Logistics and Exhibit Services = 20 percent

About 20 percent of your budget should be allocated to those logistic and exhibit services that are necessary in order to present a polished and professional presence for your company. Some examples of services included in this category are the storage and warehousing of exhibit materials and their installation and breakdown during the event. Don’t forget to include the costs of labor for skilled workers like electricians, riggers, carpenters, and others.

  1. Booth Design = 10 percent

The visual representation of your company and your booth design will require about 10 percent of your overall trade show budget. During the planning phase, make a list of preferred features and price them when you consult with your designer.

  1. Transportation, shipping, and drayage = 10 percent

Obtaining an estimate for transportation and shipping tends to be pretty straightforward since it’s usually based on factors like the dimensions of your trade show booth. Drayage costs can be more difficult to pin down. A good rule of thumb is to plan to spend slightly more in drayage than you do for shipping.

  1. Marketing Materials = 5 percent

While your trade show booth is the biggest marketing tool at the event, you’ll need supporting materials to go along with your brand and your message. This category includes the cost of giveaways, company literature, and product demos.

  1. Miscellaneous = 5 percent

Set aside about five percent of your trade show budget for those expenses that are easily overlooked. Items such as daily housekeeping, WiFi, and lead gathering are necessary for the success of the trade show but are often forgotten when it comes time to make the budget.

By following the above steps, you can hammer out an effective and accurate trade show budget for 2018. What trade shows will your company be attending this year?

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Key Digital Branding Tips to Dominate Your Online Presence

9 Jan

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In a competitive marketplace where analytics and conversion rates rank high among digital marketing tools, many businesses put the idea of branding on the back burner. Because it’s a relatively slow process, traditional branding is often overlooked in favor of the instant-gratification of PPC campaigns, Facebook ads, and AdWords. Establishing a brand can sometimes be accomplished in just months…but in many cases, an effective brand can take years to develop.

As a critical marketing strategy that creates measurable results over time, downplaying the importance of your business’s brand is a big mistake. Take a look at our most valuable tips to help establish, expand, and empower your digital brand’s presence:

Leverage content to develop authority in your industry

These days, it’s no secret that content is crucial to any digital marketing strategy worth its salt. Video has risen to the top as a content leader, and blog posts are still the method of choice when it comes to establishing your brand’s voice through writing: the key is to keep the content high-quality, engaging, and authoritative.

Another great way to define your brand and establish authority is to publish free informational content designed to educate and assist your customers without directly selling to them. This type of content can have a positive effect on your SEO efforts by increasing page views, links, and long-term visibility.

Use social media to promote your content

No matter how much amazing content you publish on your website—it won’t do you any good if no one can find it. Utilizing social media ad campaigns can help with promotional efforts by streamlining your target audience and expanding your content’s reach. For example, Facebook allows you to aim for groups who “like” companies and products similar to yours, and Twitter offers the option to target a specific brand or influencer’s followers.

Maintain content that resonates with your brand voice

Effective branding relies on consistency, and keeping your content in line with your brand image is a critical step toward forging a meaningful connection with your audience. Focus on publishing content that’s consistent with your brand’s subject matter, image, and tone of voice.

Concentrate your efforts on branding over conversion rates

With the massive amount of fast-acting digital marketing tools available today, it may be tempting to focus on short-term metrics rather than long-term effectiveness in evaluating your branding campaign’s ROI. Many businesses make the mistake of initially strategizing with the intention of strengthening their brand—only to compromise those efforts by redirecting the campaign strictly on boosting conversion rates and return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) metrics.

Rather than trying to push a product or conversion in the effort to strengthen your brand, focus instead on associating the brand with a specific feeling, a sense of nostalgia, or reliable solution. This isn’t to say that those digital marketing metrics should be ignored—but they should be evaluated separately from your branding strategy. After all, branding’s real value and ROI can only be accurately measured over the long term.

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Top Digital Marketing Mishaps and How to Solve Them

4 Jan

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Digital marketing has come a long way over the last few years. Big data means businesses have more data-driven insights than ever before, which translates to quality relationships with customers and (hopefully) increased conversions along with a better bottom line.

While digital marketing continues to improve and empower the way businesses interact with their customers online, the process doesn’t come without its challenges.

We’ve compiled a list of marketing mishaps that are most likely to frustrate your customer—along with our proposed solutions:

1. Dead-End Pages

Simply having an informative website presence is no longer enough. These days, it’s all about interaction, and it’s absolutely critical to actively create an ongoing relationship with site visitors in order to get the most out of your website investment. This doesn’t mean that you should hound potential customers with “Buy It Now” pop-ups, but your site should offer a convenient method for customers to act on the information they find—even if only by taking advantage of strategically placed contact forms or opt-ins for special event information, social updates, and discounts.

Offering something of value in exchange for contact information is another great way to build your email list—think in terms of white papers or free eBooks that offer solutions to a common customer problem.

2. Broken Links and 404 Errors

There are few things more frustrating to a consumer who is looking for something specific than “Page Not Found” …especially when that link comes from somewhere on your site. Rather than sending your visitors away frustrated and empty-handed, consider deploying a 404-page template designed to offer a lighthearted explanation for the broken link, along with an actionable response – think links to functional pages, email opt-ins, and even an option to submit a ticket.

3. Inconsistency

Inconsistencies throughout your messaging may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to the overall customer experience, they can really add up. For instance, if you refer to a sale price in an email blast—but your website shopping cart displays the original price, and the fine print reveals that the sale price is only applicable if the visitor purchases a year’s worth of services—your potential customer might go from feeling slightly annoyed to completely mislead. And they may not be a potential customer anymore.

Being consistent in your messaging is critical to establishing brand trust. Before starting a new campaign, be sure to outline your core value proposition, your regular and promotional pricing schedule, any relevant taglines, and all potential variations as to how you’ll refer to your product or service throughout the campaign. Keep this master document handy for reference any time you consider launching a new part of your strategy.

4. Outdated Content

Few things make a business look more out of touch than a website full of references to past events, unavailable live webinars, and outdated company news.

Links to your website’s event pages don’t expire when the event is over. Whether your customers find their way via a trade show blast, a colleague’s blog post, or even through organic search—if the page hasn’t been updated or removed, it will leave a not-so-great impression that you aren’t staying on top of things.

Of course, if these pages are generating traffic, you don’t want to delete them. Consider these options instead:

Update the page. Modify the message, change the call to action, and offer something current and of value.

Redirect the page. Point your visitors to your event calendar for the remainder of the year, or to another upcoming event. This way, you don’t lose valuable traffic and you keep your messaging current and useful for your customer.

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