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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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10 Interesting Digital Marketing Stats to Ring in 2018

21 Dec

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1. 84% of millennial B2B decision-makers regard their mobile device as a critical tool – and 76% of older B2B buyers agree.

Google has already declared mobile to be mandatory for search—as of 2018, the tech giant’s mobile-first index will view sites through the eyes of the mobile user, and will rank them accordingly. Bottom line: if your mobile and desktop sites differ greatly, you could suffer a penalty on your desktop Search Engine Results Page.

2. 64% of senior employees make the final decision on B2B purchases – but 81% of non-senior employees influence their choices.

Traditional B2B marketing strategies might need to rethink their target audience when it comes to who the influencers are. Senior-level managers are looking to the younger generation when considering B2B buying decisions—and the majority of those influencers are non-C-Suite employees.

3. In the B2B marketing space, LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform.

While it’s true 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn, more than 66% regard the platform as the most effective social media tool in the B2B marketing space.

4. Instagram has the highest social media interaction rate.

At 22.53 interactions per 1000 followers, Instagram takes the lead in social media engagement. Facebook pulls up second place at 5.99, with LinkedIn following behind at 1.09. Twitter comes in at 0.86.

5. For 85% of B2B marketers, quality content and a commitment to metrics is critical.

The majority of B2B marketers regard content quality and efficiency as top priorities for their digital marketing campaigns, and nearly half consider metrics and optimization to be crucial for success.

6. Millennials make up more than half of B2B researchers.

In just the last few years, millennials have been part of a major shift in the B2B researcher demographic. In 2012, B2B researchers were pretty evenly distributed across all age groups. Over two years, a dramatic shift took place: 18 to 34-year-olds made up more than half of all researchers, amounting to an increase of 70%. And the number just keeps rising.

7. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms.

With more than 300 million daily Instagrammers—80% under age 35—B2B brands could be missing out. Just 33% of B2B brands have an Instagram presence.

Considering joining? You’d be in good company. Instagram has more than doubled its users to more than 700 million monthly actives in just two years, and its growth rate is skyrocketing. From December 2016 to April 2017, in just four months, its user base grew another 100 million followers. Take a look at these stats:

October 6, 2010 – Instagram Launch

February 26, 2013 – 100 million users acquired over 28 months

March 25, 2014 – 200 million over 13 months

December 10, 2014 – 300 million over 9 months

September 22, 2015 – 400 million over 9 months

June 21, 2016 – 500 million over 9 months

December 15, 2016 – 600 million over 6 months

April 26, 2017 – 700 million over 4 months

How do these numbers compare to other social platforms? Instagram has more than twice the user base of Twitter, and it’s fast headed for the billion-user club alongside the likes of Facebook (1.8 billion), WhatsApp, and Messenger (combined 1.2 billion).

8. 89% of marketers use content marketing as their strategy, and 62% report that it’s more successful than just one year ago.

More than half of marketers regard effective distribution as the reason for their success, with 93% of B2B marketers using email as their primary distribution channel. With 54% of all emails accessed via mobile device, it’s easy to see how mobile content optimization will be critical in 2018.

9. 71% of B2B researchers begin searching Google with generic search terms.

That’s right—in today’s competitive marketplace, ranking for certain keywords has never been more difficult.

So how are searchers getting to your site? According to Google Think, they are looking for a product first—not for your brand—and generic paid search is huge when it comes to the initial path to purchase for industrial/business brands.

What does this mean for your business? In short, it means that your potential customers are reaching your brand much later in their journey, so you have to be prepared to present value to them earlier in the process—well before the initial contact and sale. Bidding on your brand terms is no longer enough, as decision making is taking place prior to brand awareness. If you pinpoint where you might be part of the conversation early on and throughout the search process, you’ll be in a better position to make a connection that turns into a sale.

10. Just 50% of B2B organizations have a responsive website.

What does this mean for your business? A new year is fast approaching and making an investment in your site’s responsiveness could give you a competitive edge in the market. Check out our latest blog on digital marketing trends for 2018 here.

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Branding

5 Dec

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hillmanGuest Contributor: Matt Hillman, Creative Director

You have a great product, great service, great people, great materials—and your brand still sucks. Competitors in the building products marketplace keep racking up sales while you struggle to get by. It feels like you’re trying to scramble up a muddy hill, expending time and resources with little-to-nothing to show for it. How does this happen?

Over the years, despite the emergence of game-changers like mobile devices, social media, and other innovations, most of the issues around branding still seem to fall into seven distinct areas—consider them the 7 Deadly Sins of Branding, and any one of them can sink your brand.

Wrong Message

Too many marketers rely on what they already know to build their messages. This echo-chamber effect reinforces what’s familiar and “safe” and can actually keep you from gaining the ah-ha moments you need. Think of it as trying to steer your car down the highway while looking only in the rear view mirror, more about where you’ve been than where you’re headed. Instead, you need to be continually surveying your customers—and your prospects!—for the fresh insights needed to build a message that’s relevant today, not just yesterday.

Wrong Audience

This might seem like a near-impossibility, but it can happen. Marketing your brand to the wrong audience is most often the result of marketing and sales teams not communicating effectively, with marketing working toward where sales should happen and sales focused on where they can happen. Having a clear, agreed-upon marketing plan is essential to having your brand pointed in the right direction. Yes, these are fundamentals that should be self-evident, but all it takes is for your brand to be strong with architects but being marketed to builders instead, and your brand isn’t going anywhere.

Wrong Tactics

One of the best cautionary tales comes from experience marketing to building products dealers. When offered the option to select their preferred method of receiving marketing communications, what do you think topped the list? Email? Direct? Text? How about…fax. That’s right, in our world of high-speed connectivity and mobile devices, the lowly fax was the leading way dealers wanted to receive information. Why? Because it fits how most small- to mid-sized dealers operate, with the fax machine right next to the main bulletin board. Again, surveying your audience will provide the insights to get the right tactics in play and to avoid wasting effort on the wrong ones.

Wrong Voice

If you’ve followed social media the past few years, you’ve probably heard of (or witnessed) the notorious sass of Wendy’s social media accounts. While some might think this was a bold or daring move, it’s actually highly calculated, the result of Wendy’s assessment of what brand voice would resonate best with their target. Where other fast food companies played the usual safe game, Wendy’s connected with their audience with a salty dialogue that not only aligned with the brand but helped share it more broadly online. Again, research was the key to cracking the code and connecting with customers.

Inconsistency

One way to think of branding is simply a single message delivered consistently and aligned with customer experience. And yet, time and again we see brands shift their message as if chasing sales trends, or worse, repeatedly reinventing the message to push an idea that doesn’t match the customer experience. If your name is One Day Printing and service takes two days, that’s a brand problem. Similarly, if you say your customer service is superior and then leave customers on hold for minutes at a time, that’s a brand problem. Determining what your brand is—and isn’t!—and sticking to that is critical to developing a strong brand over time, and over time is exactly how brands happen.

All About The Product

The brands that see the greatest strength in the marketplace are the ones that offer more than just a product or service—they build relationships with those who select and purchase them. Through content offerings, customer experience design, website functionality, social media strategies, sponsorships, and other interaction-based methods, the strongest brands take on a personality well beyond something being sold to buyers. These brands can have conversations with the public, growing and evolving through the choices made in messaging and positioning—all without changing what’s being produced or delivered.

No Differentiator

In the film Field of Dreams, we hear the iconic line: “Build it and they will come.” Unfortunately, all too many companies have followed this same advice when developing their brand—and have paid a heavy price for it. It is not enough to simply be available for purchase, there has to be a reason your target would take notice, have interest, and be willing to abandon their current relationship to gain one with your brand. And just as it is with products or services, your brand needs a unique selling proposition, too, something to make it different from the others. Is it more innovative, less complicated, focused on quality, easier to do business with? Identifying what sets your brand apart—and staying true to that differentiation—is critical to finding an audience that appreciates it. Trying to be all things to all audiences or simply showing up isn’t enough to get noticed.

Name + Logo = Brand

“We have a brand,” the marketing manager will say, pointing at a logo. “It’s right there.” Actually, no. The worn-down vehicle with your logo on it: that’s your brand. The customer left waiting hours for a delivery with no updates: that’s your brand. The defensive response to a highly critical customer review on Yelp: that’s your brand. The product that arrived dented: that’s your brand. Identity is all about a name and logo; brand, however, is about expectations and experiences. The strongest brands find success in designing and crafting the brand experience for customers, both new and current, and making sure everything aligns with that design. If it doesn’t align, it’s analyzed, adjusted or removed—why spend time and effort on something that only undermines your long-term efforts?

If you recognize any of these 7 Deadly Sins associated with your brand, have hope: Every one of them is escapable and repairable with honesty and effort. The common element to all of these brand issues is to take nothing for granted: conduct research and be willing to accept that your buyer isn’t who you think and may not think of your brand the way you do. But with focus and time, virtually any brand can find its own salvation.

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Salesforce Simplifying B2B Facebook Marketing?

16 Nov

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Perhaps unjustly, Facebook has never been known as a hub for B2B lead generation. This is not for lack of potential – plenty of companies use Facebook for surfacing contact info. However, following up on that contact through automation and CRM systems required a bevy of tools that were disconnected and independent of each other. No longer – Salesforce Lead Analytics for Facebook brings the sales funnel together.

The Salesforce tool innovates by working simultaneously across Instagram (which is owned by Facebook), Facebook itself and the Facebook Audience Network, which is the official name for the Facebook ad platform. Users of the Salesforce Lead Analytics tool will enjoy a data stream that connects the first interaction of the customer all the way to the purchase. Users will also be able to connect data from upsells and resells. The dashboard will showcase the most important performance metrics that marketers need to improve campaigns, such as leads generated and total views, as well as sales performance related to ads. In addition, the proprietary Salesforce Einstein AI will give a marketer a score for each prospect after that prospect finishes with a lead form.

There is plenty of other data for marketers to pick through with this new tool. Some of the other featured data includes a Pardot score rating, ad spend for campaigns, click through rates, campaign ROI and qualified leads that each campaign generates.

Salesforce is not done here. Alongside the Lead Analytics tool, the company is also bringing out the Einstein Account-Based Marketing tool. This tool will automate the connection between the sales and marketing staff. The data in both departments will now be easier to marry, streamlining execution time.

These new innovations from Salesforce have definitely come under duress. Its main competition in the CRM landscape, Microsoft, has greatly strengthened its position in the market through its soon-to-be acquisition of LinkedIn. Although Salesforce has tried to block the acquisition, the effort will likely fail. However, these new tools certainly bolster Salesforce’s position in the market, especially since they are currently on the cutting edge of technology here.

 

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Why LinkedIn is Better for Marketing at Scale

9 Nov

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When it’s time to target your prospects at scale, there is arguably no better platform than LinkedIn. It is well-known that LinkedIn is the best platform for targeting professionals in general, however, there is not a great deal of talk around the scale that LinkedIn provides.

Part of the reason that LinkedIn does not get the attention that it should is due to the convenience of its scaled applications. It is not easy to market at scale with LinkedIn. For instance, if you are trying to reach 1000 CFOs, you cannot simply type “CFO” into the search engine and spam away. You have to incorporate some detailed techniques in order to take full advantage of the features that LinkedIn has to offer.

First of all, job title targeting is perhaps the most inefficient way to market at scale on LinkedIn. It is the most used tactic, which means that marketing this way will increase competition and bring you higher CPC rates. Job title targeting is best used for precise marketing efforts, and this is exactly what scale is not.

If you are looking to market at scale, then you need to start with the Job Function search on LinkedIn. This is the search that will create the largest audience for you, although you will need to streamline and focus this audience in subsequent steps. For instance, if you are looking for digital marketers, you would need to drill down into the Job Function of “marketing.” Leaving your research at this step will potentially show your ad to many unqualified prospects, ballooning your costs with no results. 

You may want to cross-reference your Job Function search with a Group Search. The majority of professionals who fill out profiles on LinkedIn do not join any groups. However, those who do are extremely interested in the topic. With these names in tow, you will have your core audience. People who join LinkedIn groups are also usually the most active individuals on the site. You are beginning to drill down into your audience list and find the people who are the most relevant to your marketing efforts.

If you find that Job Function targeting does not give you a good cross-reference after drilling down into groups, you may reverse course and try a Skills targeting campaign. These audiences are large and self-selected, which may actually benefit your campaign in the long run. The stated job title of an individual may not always coincide with the responsibilities of that individual in a company. Using Skills as your target, you will identify people from their real position in the company, not just their job title.

Ideally, you are looking for an audience between 25,000 and 50,000 people. LinkedIn tells companies to go with an audience greater than 300,000, but most case studies have determined that this is too large. Consider also that LinkedIn has a bona fide interest in seeing you advertise to as many people as possible. With a max audience of 50,000 people, you can more easily track the results of your campaign. You will also be able to more easily break up this audience into smaller buyer profiles.

 

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