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4 PR Trends You Must Adopt in 2017

19 Apr


Last year proved that public relations (PR) is more important than ever before in the nearly real-time existence of today. The combination of a controversial presidential race and several major stumbles by well-known corporations made 2016 a year that will go down in the history books. Throughout it all, there were nuggets of knowledge and information that businesses need to tease out and remember. Keep the following PR trends in mind during 2017 to stay on stop of the increased growth that is expected during the remainder of the year.

  1. Reputation matters

This might seem like a point that is rather obvious. However, it is worth repeating given the explosion of fake news stories that spawned blow back against more than a few businesses. In many instances, by the time it was apparent that the news was fake, the damage had been done. When coupled with the increasing popularity of websites where nearly anyone can rate a business, it’s easy to see how a well-cultivated reputation can be nearly destroyed in record time. Handling potential crises means PR professionals will need to exercise transparency and tact.

  1. Market influencers will be tapped

Regardless of which market a business is in, there are influencers who are valued for their expertise. While this is not a static pool of contenders, it is one that is likely to be tapped with an eye toward adding validity to a business. Finding the right influencer to become a contributor to a business doesn’t have to mean looking outside your company either. Plenty of businesses generate their own influencers as well.

  1. Measuring continues to evolve

Measuring market influence and results continues to evolve. Staying abreast of the latest trends within the industry – as well as what is being attributed to a particular business – is crucial to you success. Marketing professionals will need to craft targeted PR materials based on projections as well as past statistics. Smart PR teams will use constantly evolving metrics to stay on top of their campaign results.

  1. Live video expands

Live video was just getting its footing toward the end of 2016, so expect it to become a major player in the PR game during 2017. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that video – live or otherwise – will plateau this year either. Instead, approach live video with the mindset that the trend is only just in its infancy and there is lots of room for growth.

Public relations – while a vital component of any business –  is not a concept that can be neatly compartmentalized. Complex, fluid and robust, good PR management is crucial for today’s companies. Learn how ER Marketing can make 2017 a banner year for your business.

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Plan to Measure What Matters

13 Apr



The “measure what matters” phrase has been around for a long time, but as marketers we can put it into practice more today than in any decade or generation in the past. I have recently had the opportunity to help a prospective client navigate their options when being aggressively pursued to renew a yellow pages agreement. It is a classic example of an outdated marketing tactic, with pressure and confusion being pushed on a small business owner. It’s important to take full advantage of the many effective tactics that can be measured for results in our current era of digital marketing.

You likely have a website and are exposed to at least the basic analytics. Beyond that, you probably have the ability to dive deeper if you want and have access to advice or interpretation of the analytics. However, data doesn’t mean anything without specific goals and analysis – it is just a collection of numbers. If you want to improve the value of your digital marketing and understand how it is impacting sales, there are four specific metrics to track.


1. Traffic

Website traffic is critical to seeing measurable success. The problem is that many companies consider it the end goal. Traffic should be the precursor to the goal of the conversion, which depending on the type of business, conversion can mean a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a white paper download, an email signup, or other identified desired action. If you desire X number of conversions to generate revenue, then you need Y number of website visitors to get there. The conversion rate of your website dictates the number of visitors you need. However, this isn’t a crapshoot. You have control over variables that drive traffic to your site through the various traffic sources.

If you globally have a 2.5% conversation rate, then you can quickly get to the number of website visitors you need to reach your goals or you can invest time and effort into improving your conversion rate (bonus if you can do both). You can see through basic web analytics what the number of visitors is by source and work to further optimize or advertise to push more visitors from each source category.

 2. Activity

Activity is what you’re doing to generate impressions, traffic, and conversions. This is the broadest category to track, but is important. To be able to calculate ROI, you need to measure the cost and resources invested in the activities that drive the other measureable aspects of your digital marketing. This is the time you put into SEO, PPC, social, content marketing, content creation, and other efforts that you invest in through time or through an outsourced vendor. Without measuring this cost, then you can’t fully understand what your true cost of goods sold is or what your cost per lead is.

3. Impressions

Getting less tangible, but still important to gain traffic to drive to conversions is impressions. This can broadly be classified as the number of people who see an ad, see an organic search result featuring your listing, receive an email from you, or otherwise are exposed to your brand. Impressions aren’t guaranteed to be seen by your audience, but is a measure of reach and intended exposure. By pushing to increase your reach and impression-share, you can see what campaign tactics and channels are most likely to drive traffic an ultimately, conversions. Not all traffic channels are created equal and you can quickly see what is driving quality traffic versus just wasting your time and budget dollars.

 4. Goal Conversions

This is the total number of specific conversion actions taken by users driven to your website. Like stated previously, depending on the type of business, this could be a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a whitepaper download, an email signup, an ecommerce sale, or other identified desired action. These are tracked through several sources and can be tied to “goals” in Google Analytics that will allow for reporting by source. You can determine whether organic search, direct, referral, social, or traffic from specific campaigns drove the desired action. For ecommerce sites, you can also pass through sales revenue data so you can see in nearly real-time what you’re making from each traffic channel.

Beyond Google Analytics, you can get granular data from pay-per-click advertising campaigns through Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and other paid campaign sources to know what is working and what isn’t. If you don’t know this data, know that it’s “knowable” and work with trusted partners to get it set up for your site, advertising account, analytics platform, etc.

Before launching any campaign–and even during well-established campaigns–we recommend taking a step back quarterly to review metrics in these primary categories and shore up any areas where they are not fully known or detailed. If you can’t measure it, then it can’t matter.


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B2B Marketing on Snapchat and Other Video Sharing Sites

27 Mar




Too many B2B marketing experts are missing the wealth of opportunity that comes from a solid presence on social media sites with a reputation for B2C and personal, non-business content. Savvy marketers recognize that the addition of business analytics to specialized profiles on Instagram and the plethora of articles that detail the business uses of Twitter’s Periscope are more than tangential to the success of these companies; after the initial buzz and funding rounds are over, social media platforms need the business world in order to grow.

Snapchat is no exception; rather, the latest addition to the must-have smart phone app collection is finding a home with brands who want to build stories with their core audience, according to leading social media-centric business leaders like Gary Vaynerchuck.

The Statistics You Need to Know

  • Six out of every 10 users who are online are now on Snapchat.
  • 60% of Snapchat users are currently Millennials between 18-34; however, social media apps that hit the mainstream and achieve satiety will naturally begin to attract an older, more serious demographic.
  • Ads on Snapchat can routinely receive over 1 million views in a single day
  • More than 20% of advertisers plan on using Snapchat moving into 2017

Top Brands Currently Using Snapchat for B2B Business

Many brands you might not think could find an audience on Snapchat are actually leading the charge into the new platform, IBM chief among them. The seminal tech company gives its audience behind the scenes videos to humanize itself. Cisco is not far behind, with its employees taking center stage to provide potential clients with a more personal experience. Purple-haired admins and IT pros will take Cisco’s audience on tours of the office as well as the annual Cisco Crawfish Boil. HubSpot is another leading company that is using Snapchat to send the most salient parts of its industry talks to its audience.

How to Use Snapchat as a Viable B2B Platform

In order to maximize the use of Snapchat, as these leading brands are, you must create something new that is of value to your audience. The unique platform that Snapchat gives you does not lend itself to traditional content, and you should not try to shoehorn the content that you normally create into the space. You can use Snapchat to give people a seat at your table without the need for a business class plane ticket.

Use Snapchat to humanize your business. Companies that do not normally have an inroads to using humor or levity to create business now have the ability to do so. You can utilize the quirky personality of your administrative assistant or mail guy – these become tools that draw people to your message without the need to pay for a Hollywood production.

Tell a story. Snapchat gives you your own cable network for free – you can take the time to tell the stories that will put your company in the best light. Forget crushing a message into a 30-second piece that you must continue to pay for in order to distribute. Snapchat isn’t TV or radio. You determine when the messaging stops. Although each individual video disappears, this is actually an advantage. You leave your audience waiting anxiously for the next installment, and you do not have to put together another $100,000 in order to deliver it.

Snapchat is a platform that you can rely on for high distribution, low cost content creation that will engage your audience in a new way. If you can look past the stereotype of teenage pranks on social media, you will find a treasure trove of opportunity for new business.

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Fifteen Million Dollars or Fifteen Cents – What is the Cost of Web Traffic?

31 Jan







Guest Contributor: Corey Morris
Director of Digital Strategy


I recently saw in Ad Age that estimated the cost for a 90-second TV ad slot in the Super Bowl to be fifteen million dollars. While a Super Bowl ad goes out to a massive audience on what many consider an unofficial national holiday, it can be hard to measure the full actual impact the spot has on a business. While sitting here with my mind blown about how much work I would put into finding ways to make web traffic from the spot measurable and able to be attributed properly, I started thinking about the differing cost of traffic through specific website traffic channel sources. That led me down an interesting and variable path. In my recent [2016 benchmarking review of the building materials industry] I found some connections that make sense and others that provide for strong predictions of what we’ll see in web traffic at the end of 2017.

The most predictable was that direct traffic (third highest source) and organic traffic (highest source) are both in the top three as traffic drivers. These are two “free” sources of traffic to a website; however, they aren’t really free. There are costs associated with building a brand, sales efforts, and other drivers that cause a website visitor to directly type in a domain name and go to a website. Additionally, while the organic traffic from search engines is free, there are often costs associated with search engine optimization, content development, and website maintenance in external expense or overhead.

The second highest traffic source is paid search traffic. This traffic source is strictly for paid ad traffic to the website from search engines. By default, it is often written off as a more expensive source of traffic by many companies and is not considered. Yet, the evidence continues to suggest that this is an important source of traffic, right after organic search engine traffic. It fills gaps and ensures that as many visitors as possible are captured from search engines. With the removal of the right column of ads in early 2016, it is as important as ever because the ad slots at the top of the search results pages look more like organic results. The beauty about this source is that it has much more visible and self-contained costs than other channels. We know what we are paying in media, what our external or overhead costs are for managing it, and the more small-scale content investment needed for PPC compared to content marketing.

Social media traffic is a small segment, yet it is the most rapidly growing and surpassed email marketing in 2016. Both social media and email marketing fall under the content marketing umbrella in terms of external costs on overhead for internal management plus the need to generate content.

So, where does this all lead us? After running through a lot of different scenarios, looking at different industries, and diving deep into analytics of specific companies, I realized there’s not really a set, objective benchmark target to report or target. The key is to first find out what the true costs of your traffic are by channel. Once you have those numbers and expose all potential hidden costs, then you can calculate the true cost per acquisition for each channel. That will show you how much return you’re getting on your investment in each area so you can make wise decisions when that next budget season comes around or when that new campaign idea comes up.

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Search Marketing in 2017

10 Jan




CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor: Corey Morris
Director of Digital Strategy


This is the time of the year where everyone posts the obligatory recap of the past year and look forward to the next. While I’m typically good for one of those types of posts, I find that they often lack details and substance. I can be as philosophical as the next person with a dozen years of working with search engines on a daily basis. However, my clients aren’t relying on me to say the same thing as the industry leaders and prognosticate on things that don’t have a strategic or tactical importance on their business. What I am going to share is what we know and what you should do – regardless of what may or may not happen with Google and Bing in 2017.


In B2B, we don’t always think about building our websites, microsites, landing pages, and complete user experiences around the mobile user. We know they are important and we’re on the mobile bandwagon, we just don’t shape an entire experience around what in some cases is just 20% of our audience. That being said, we can’t ignore the fact that Google does care very much about this audience. With most searches being made on mobile devices across the entire Google search universe, not understanding or caring enough about the mobile algorithm or factors can hurt. Interstitials (pop-ups) must follow new guidelines and if you are running AdWords, you need to finish your migration to expanded text ads in January.


Content has been king for longer than SEO has been declared dead (that’s more than a decade now); however, we’re not always working off of the same definition of what content is and even if we were, we’d differ on the importance of sticking to a defined content strategy to guide our efforts for a full year. We must have more relevant content and content that is intended to be helpful to our visitors. It isn’t about getting it into Google–if no one converts or moves further down the funnel, then it was a waste of effort and (this is debatable, but still important) could hurt us when a user bounces back to the search results page and continues looking for the right answer. Featuring the right content is critical as further validated and evidenced in the recent release of Searchmetrics’ annual ranking factors data set. Lastly, good content attracts links and is easier to build links to. This is nothing new, but does still matter and hasn’t totally gone away.


You might have thought I’d lead into this with attribution. Attribution was last year’s big topic at every event I went to. We don’t have everything solved with lead and conversion attribution, but everything leading up to it has to do with a data point. The explosion of dashboards and integrating every piece of data this year was predictable. We have been doing real-time dashboards for clients for years, but have dedicated ourselves to a shift to them and away from static report documents this year. As we get easier access to APIs from more social, search, and tools platforms, this will continue to improve. Google knows the importance of this as well, evidenced in the rollout of two products in 2016 that include dashboard functionality from Google products, as well as A/B testing that is normally reserved for the enterprise Analytics product.


Where does this lead us? We’re running full steam into 2017. It is hard to use the calendar to delineate a point where things slow down or roll over to new subjects of focus. The big deals right now:

  • If you’re not thinking mobile first, then it is time to start.
  • If you’ve got a shotgun approach to content, you need to tighten it up and focus on your key themes and stick to them
  • If you’re not seeing the full picture of what your marketing is doing for your bottom line, don’t wait any longer!


We’d love to hear if you have additional themes or feedback on mine!



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