Guest Post If content marketing has replaced direct contact, how can companies engage with prospects? Put another way, what do 100 likes of an infographic on Facebook, 1,000 views of a video on YouTube or 10,000 downloads of a presentation actually translate to?
It’s been pretty obvious from the stock price, but LinkedIn, which I’ve written about every so often, is really on a roll lately. The influencer content play (which I will admit I’ve been part of, in a small way) is a clear winner, the company is enjoying very positive press, and its premium services are […]
Charlene Li and Brian Solis have penned a nice e-book that can help you better understand what a social business strategy is and judge whether or not your social efforts are, in fact, strategically focused. With the Altimeter Group’s normal quality of basing their assertions in research and case studies, The Seven Success Factors of Social Business Strategy outlines what […]
In the beginning, there were products and services, and some
were good. Fewer became trusted brands, but those that did enjoyed unquestioned
loyalty supported by a simple yet effective marketing engines built to reach
people in mass quantity. The formula worked for decades. An empire was built on
the shoulders of Madison Avenue and expanded globally. It is an empire, which
still exists today, though arguably it’s a diminished version of its former self.
More recently, technology has had it’s own evolutionary process which it’s
still going through. Well over a decade ago, when large organizations developed
and updated their complex Web properties, the most popular and rigorous process
one could follow in development was referred to as “Waterfall”. Think of this as a descending, linear
staircase where one step of the process was completed in full before moving on
the next. The methodology was rigorous, but also left little room for tweaking,
testing, adapting and improving along the way.
Responsive Design Today, digital design and development is often done
leveraging the “agile” method of development, which favors smaller, cyclical
bursts of development and rapid testing. Start-ups favor this approach as well
building not only their tech products but also their business models in a way,
which resembles more of an agile philosophy vs. a rigid, sequential approach.
Even “large” start-ups like Facebook demonstrate this in how they roll out
enhancements to their global platform, often making the changes incrementally,
rolling them out with select users and then adjusting based off the data they
analyze. Google often works this was as well. If you were to undertake designing and building a digital
property today—you would also have to ensure that it would perform across
multiple platforms (desktop, tablet, mobile). A popular methodology for
developing this way is called “responsive design”—a technique, which leverages
code that results in a shape shifting design which auto-magically fits the
medium it, is being interacted with in.
Remains Linear And Unresponsive Despite the pervasive nature of all manifestations of
digital, including social and mobile, much of the marketing emphasis remains
dedicated to reaching people in mass, following a tried and true formula for
advertising designed to build off consumer insights and craft compelling
messages which could be distributed across a myriad of channels (including
digital). The approach is designed for the broadcast industrial machine
including print, radio and television, which, despite rumors of its demise is
likely to stay with us for some time. The problem it poses however is that it
is an approach that much like its counterpart in tech development, (Waterfall)
is neither nimble nor flexible and isn’t built for rapid change nor does it
adapt well beyond the dominant media it was designed for.
Is Disrupting Modern Day Brand Building CMOs, chief digital officers and brand managers across many
organizations are currently grappling with the notion of content used in the
context of marketing—inherently they understand that their customers value
content, consume it, create it, and share it—and they want in on the action.
They also understand that this type of content isn’t often the traditional
campaigns they execute for broadcast so they face a dilemma:
What content do
consumers value most?
How do they find it?
What gets individuals
sharing content with peers?
How does content
scale, reaching the right audience at the right time?
How do brands insert
themselves into the content ecosystem in ways that bring value back to the
Responsive Marketing The solution to the content question lies somewhere between acknowledging
that a brand must support both a traditional, linear marketing model in
addition to a newer, cyclical construct which is constantly in tune with the
current environment and operates in consolidated time frames. Responsive
marketing sits at the core of the content evolution that many companies find
themselves trying to navigate as they pull together newsrooms, command centers
and media operations which are designed to help brands act more like
publishers. All of these can be effective in treating the symptoms a brand may
exhibit if they possess only competencies in linear forms of marketing, but
they do not address the root issue—deconstructing a marketing machine which
places the majority of resources on mass marketing will ensure it never gains
proficiency in alternate forms of content and media.
A more holistic approach
The Acquisition & Engagement Funnel Marketing is by design measurable, and most marketers are trained to value
metrics, which can be at minimum tied to awareness and ideally connected to
sales and loyalty. This is where the relationship between responsive content
marketing and business objectives must be reconciled—what good is content if it
is not connected to commerce? Content should be a vehicle, which “fills the
marketing funnel” and should be leveraged as the currency, which entices the
target to share, thus creating further awareness for the brand, which can lead
to bringing others into the funnel. It is the consumption of content via
social, web and mobile which fuels the acquisition and engagement funnel—the
flow works as follows:
Shared And Found
Content Drives Acquisition Content which is optimized and valuable inevitably finds its target,
whether through paid, owned, earned or shared means (usually it’s a combination
of all). When content is found valuable, it often leads to an “acquisition”
whether it via e-mail or a subscription to a brand’s social property. The
“consumer” in this construct demonstrates intent to at minimum engage with the
Engagement Once a consumer, customer or prospect is acquired, a brand can further
engage via content, messages, and through “micro-interactions” over time. Each
like, comment, or share on Facebook for example is a micro-interaction, which
solidifies the relationship and loyalty between the brand and the consumer. Loyalty Creates
Awareness Customers “acquired” via social and digital means are now available for
targeted content marketing tactics which can be especially effective via paid
enhancements whether that be through social or search. In the case of
social—shared content leads to further awareness using the networks of peers as
a distribution ecosystem while organically raising its profile in organic
Content As Currency:
The Four Key Archetypes For content to be successfully leveraged at the open end of
the marketing funnel, brands must understand the full landscape of content types
and the relationships they have with their core paid, earned and owned
channels. The four archetypes are:
Curated: A brand can curate content from infinite digital sources and provide value
by deriving signal from noise. A popular tactic connected to curating is
aggregating it in a single destination for easy access.
Co-created: Content can be co-created amongst consumers via collaboration or through
the consumer and the brand itself. Brands, which encourage consumers to
co-create content with it, invite them to participate but cannot often control
how consumers will want to co-create.
Original: Original content is produced by the brand, specifically for its target
audience and is owned by the brand. Original content can take many forms and
production value and be planned in advance or spontaneously in response to
emerging trends and events.
Consumer generated: Consumer or user generated content is often produced by non-professionals
and May or may not include references to the brand. It’s often in highest
quantity but also lowest quality.
Maintaining A Responsive Content Marketing Machine In order to build a content machine for a brand or business, the leadership
behind it must buy into the premise that content is a viable brand building
tool. This sets the stage for an evolution of roles within the
organization—brand managers must at minimum be literate in community
management, editorial and digital analytics. Organizations internally should
re-evaluate their digital centers of excellence and take stock of partners to
ensure that content strategy and execution exists as part of the mix. This
foundational work is core to then constructing a an “always ready” content
machine, which operates in a continual, cyclical fashion as part marketing,
part editorial operation as illustrated above.
Conclusion: Marketers Must Evolve Beyond The Linear Unlike software or web development, marketers have had less pressure to
overhaul their approach despite signs that media consumption is highly
fragmented, shifting to digital and increasingly more difficult to track. As
more pressure is applied to the CMO to produce results for the organization; it
is more than tempting to rely on the mass metrics of the past to demonstrate
that reach is being achieved at scale. This undermines the need for marketing
to undergo it’s own transformation where shifts in resources go into building
up direct media channels (social or owned media) and potentially reaching more targeted
audiences who may be inclined to share a brand’s content with their peer
networks. An agile and adaptive mentality is badly needed in the marketing arm
of organizations—one that is less dependent on historical data to make
decisions and is inclined to parse data inputs as they come in daily.
content conundrum represent the tip of the iceberg for the marketing discipline
but must be dealt with as proof mounts that content is valued while overt
advertising and marketing is something to be filtered out. Brands will learn to
be more flexible, in tune with rapidly changing sentiment and responsive in
their approach to messaging engagement and telling their stories across a
de-centralized and splintered media landscape.
Savvy marketers understand that you don’t always seal the deal with a single message, image, or advertisement. A user may see a display ad, click on a link from a friend, or do a search before buying something from your website — and all of these interactions can play a role in the final sale. It’s important to understand the entire customer journey so you can measure all of the elements that contribute to your campaigns, attribute the right value to them, and adjust your marketing budgets where appropriate.
That’s the philosophy behind Google Analytics tools like Multi-Channel Funnels and Attribution Modeling. Tens of thousands of our largest advertisers are gaining valuable insights from Multi-Channel Funnels every month, and we’ve collected these insights using aggregate statistics to develop a benchmarking tool — The Customer Journey to Online Purchase. This interactive tool lets you explore typical online buying behavior and see how different marketing interactions affect business success.
how different marketing channels (such as display, search, email, and your own website) help move users towards purchases. For example, some marketing channels play an “assist” role during the earlier stages of the marketing funnel, whereas some play a “last interaction” role just before a sale.
how long it takes for customers to make a purchase online (from the first time they interact with your marketing to the moment they actually buy something), and how the length of this journey affects average order values.
Channel Roles in the Customer Journey
The data shows that every industry is different — the path to purchase for hotel rooms in Japan is not necessarily the same as the path as for an online supermarket in Canada.
A few findings stand out, in particular:
As you might expect, customers typically click on display ads early in their purchase journeys, but in some industries, such as US travel and auto, display clicks tend to occur closer to the purchase decision.
Across industries and countries, paid search has a fairly even assist-to-last interaction ratio, implying that this channel can act both in the earlier and later stages of the customer journey.
Once you’ve explored the benchmarks, look deeper into your own marketing data with the Multi-Channel Funnel reports, and consider defining your channels and campaigns to separate out categories that are specific to your business needs.
Purchase values and the length of the journey
We also see interesting patterns emerge when examining the length of the customer journey. While the majority of purchases take place within a single day or a single step (i.e., a single interaction with one marketing channel), longer paths tend to correlate with higher average order values.
in US Tech, online purchases that take more than 28 days are worth about 3.5 times more than purchases that occur immediately. And while 61% of tech purchases take place on that first day, only 53% of revenue comes from single-day purchases.
in Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), on the other hand, most purchases (82%) are quick, likely because these are smaller and simpler purchases that don’t require much research.
in Edu / Gov, 41% of revenue comes from multi-day purchases, but 60% of revenue comes from multi-step purchases — suggesting that even when customers make decisions in a relatively short time period, they often have multiple marketing interactions before purchasing.
In Multi-Channel Funnels or the Attribution Modeling Tool, you can adjust the lookback window to reflect the typical length of the purchase path in your industry. For example, if your business tends to have shorter paths, you can zoom in on paths that take 5 days or less:
Putting the benchmarks to work
For marketers, it’s always a crucial challenge to design campaigns that deliver the right message at the right moment in a customer’s journey to purchase. We hope these benchmarks will provide useful insights about the journey and help you put your business into context. In particular, take a look at the final infographic, the “Benchmarks Dashboard,” to get a quick overview of your industry. Then, when you view your own data in the Multi-Channel Funnels reports in Google Analytics, you’ll gain a better understanding of where different channels impact your conversions and what your typical path looks like, so you can adjust your budgeting and marketing programs accordingly.
No matter how you define it, engagement is something that we most likely underestimate. Engagement symbolizes the touches that occur in various moments of truth and this should completely change not only how you engage someone in each moment but also how the inside of your company works with one another to make it frictionless and experiential.
Whether a customer stands on the stage of awareness, consideration, purchase, or post purchase, touch points open and close. And, it is in those moments that engagement, regardless of source or shape, affects the next steps and impressions of customers.
These moments of truth however are not limited to any one channel. Whether customers are navigating social, mobile, web or IRL (in real life), they approach each stage of the journey with different needs, in varying stages of decision making, and with one of several frames of mind depending on the context of engagement and also the screen (smartphone, PC, tablet, TV, etc) they’re using in each moment. It’s becoming increasingly complex, but then again so is the path of consumer decision-making. That’s why I wrote WTF, What’s the Future of Business…someone had to tell the story of the new customer journey, their way points, and how to reach them. The answers revealed that social was only part of the adventure.
The image above represents a detailed customer journey map, which outlines the important steps your connected customers take during and following decision making. The map also introduces the diverse elements that factor in to each step. Perhaps more importantly are the channels and screens individuals use to make their way along the journey. Mobile, social, web, IRL, they each contribute to a customer experience that either helps or prevents them from moving along in your favor.
In my research I’ve found that more often than not, each stage of the customer journey along with the mixed channels that they use are defined or programmed by different groups within the organization. The social experience is developed independently of the mobile experience, which is disconnected from the web experience. The point is that customers only see one brand or business and therefore each channel should complement one another to deliver against a desired experience and journey optimized for the moments of truth and for the context of each screen.
The Expansion from Social to Digital Engagement
One of the ways I’ve defined “engagement” over the years was quite simple, when a business and consumer interact within their channel of relevance during various moments of truth. Engagement though, is then measured by the actions, sentiment, and outcomes that result from each interaction. To optimize results, experiences, click paths, outcomes, and sentiment must be defined and enlivened through each channel in each moment. To do so takes vision, articulation of that vision, and collaboration with all stakeholder groups to cast a unified approach. Yes. It’s the age-old argument of bringing down silos and opening doors between departments and groups that just don’t talk to each other right now. But, that’s just what needs to happen and the more progressive companies are already taking note.
One such company is one that you’re more than familiar with. Starbucks recently appointed Adam Brotman, former senior vice president of Starbucks Digital Ventures, was appointed to an entirely new executive role, chief digital officer. The CDO role assumes all of Starbuck’s digital projects, which includes web, mobile, social media, digital marketing, Starbucks Card and loyalty, e-commerce, Wi-Fi, Starbucks Digital Network, and emerging in-store technologies.
Sephora is another forward thinking company that is uniting disparate channel strategies and various customer journeys in the name of holistic experiences. Sephora recently underwent a makeover to define the ideal customer experience and how it would play out in digital and real world channels, including in store engagement, while complementing and optimizing one another.
Perhaps a Chief Digital Officer is just the beginning. What we’re really talking about is someone who can bridge marketing, sales, service, and technology to create a frictionless path between customers and the business…at every step of the journey. Perhaps it’s time to think about escalating the role to someone who can own the entire customer lifecycle and bring the people within the organization together to do it. To break down walls, someone must be able to show how and why everyone can and should work together and also what’s in it for them. It would take someone who isn’t tied to any one function but instead someone who has everybody’s best interest inside and outside the organization to redefine the experience and how it’s formed and sustained. As I write this, I imagine someone taking over the role of customer journey management for digital, social, mobile and IRL.
The digital lifestyle is just a way of life now and businesses that don’t think beyond social or traditional will miss the greater opportunity to lead desirable customer journeys, experiences and outcomes. Take one more look at the Dynamic Customer Journey. As you plan for 2013 social, mobile, digital, and other channel strategies, consider how each can converge into a reciprocal and congruous ecosystem. The future of customer experiences lies in experience design and more importantly, customer journey mapping…across the screens and IRL.
Welcome to a new world of customer journey management (CJM) and the ability to bring people together around a common vision for improving customer experiences, sentiment and relationships.
You think you know social? How about who uses it? Well, you might not know it as well as you would have guessed.
A new study from the Pew Research Center and Docstoc shed some light on just who uses social and on what platforms. Some of the findings seem in line with what you would probably guess, but others were surprising.
If you think the smarter, more attractive sex is more socially prolific than us men, well … you’re right. Women use social media 9% more than men do. Despite having more distractions, people living in cities have the most social media activity, at 70% of the population. Perhaps it’s the connectivity of large-city life. Read more…
How Addicted Are We To Facebook Mobile? (IDC via AllFacebook) We know that Facebook has roughly 618 million mobile users, but how are they interacting with the social network from their smartphone? A comprehensive study by Facebook and IDC shows that most users on mobile check their News Feed frequently. Several users copped to checking Facebook from their phone at the movies and while they’re at the gym. Facebook and IDC polled 7,446 iOS and Android users, who were 18 to 44 years old, finding that 70 percent of them used Facebook’s mobile application (61 percent used it every day). Facebook was found to be the third most popular activity on mobile, with 78 percent saying they used the phone to check email and 73 percent using it for Web browsing. Read »
Consumers Are Using Mobile To Bank, But Not To Buy (WSJ) Americans are increasingly using their phones to avoid a trip to the bank, but they still have little interest in having mobile devices replace their wallets. The cellphone users tapping into banking services increased 33 percent during 2012, according to a Federal Reserve survey. Nearly half of those with smart phones accessed a banking app or mobile website in the past year, the survey of 2,600 consumers found. Only 6 percent of smart phone owners used their device to make a purchase in the past 12 months, and less than a quarter say that they’re even interested in such services, the Fed said. Read »
Samsung Leads The World In Mobile Patents (TechCrunch) Samsung lost out big to Apple last year in a mobile patent blowout in the U.S., but it’s been slowly building up an arsenal of patents that potentially will keep it from falling into the same situation again. Samsung received the most mobile patents in 2012, and it now holds the most mobile patents of any company worldwide, according to the latest patent report out from mobile analyst Chetan Sharma. Sharma looked at more than 7 million mobile patents awarded in the U.S. and Europe, the two biggest markets for patents globally at the moment. The U.S. accounts for nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of all mobile patents across the two regions. Read »
Twitter Ad Revenue To Near $1 Billion, 60 Percent Mobile (eMarketer) eMarketer has raised its forecast for advertising spending on Twitter for 2013 and 2014, estimating the company will earn $582.8 million in global ad revenue in 2013 before nearing $1 billion next year. According to the new forecast, more than half of Twitter’s ad revenues — about 53 percent — will come from mobile advertising this year, up from virtually no ad revenue from mobile in 2011. Advertising on mobile devices will be where Twitter sees the most incremental growth over the next two years. By 2015, Twitter is expected to pull in $1.33 billion in worldwide ad revenue, more than 60 percent of which will come from mobile advertising. Read »
Windows Phones Outselling iPhones In Emerging Markets (The New York Times) The New York Times asked IDC to qualify the research behind Windows Phone stats from Frank Shaw, the head of public relations at Microsoft. According to Kevin Restivo, an analyst at IDC, the countries where Windows Phone shipments exceeded those of iPhone during the fourth quarter were: Argentina, India, Poland, Russia, South Africa and Ukraine. A seventh “country” where Windows Phone shipments beat iPhone is actually a group of smaller countries, including Croatia, that IDC lumps together in a category called “rest of central and eastern Europe.” Mr. Restivo provided some context, though, that slightly diminishes the scale of Microsoft’s success in those countries. Three of the markets — Ukraine, South Africa and “rest of central and eastern Europe” — are small enough that there were fewer than 100,000 Windows Phone unit shipments in the fourth quarter in each of them. Read »
BlackBerry’s Android Bet Is Paying Off (TechCrunch) BlackBerry’s App World now touts 100,000 BB10 applications. An impressive number for a platform just months old. But out of those 100,000 applications, roughly 20 percent are Android apps, simply ported over rather than being coded specifically for BlackBerry 10 (BB10). Still, this is a win for BlackBerry. Android or native, it shows that BlackBerry is successfully pulling developers into its fold. Even without the Android apps, App World still has roughly 80,000 native BB10 apps. As it sits right now, the Android ports are simply holding seats for big apps. BB10 is still missing key apps, with Instagram and Netflix being two of the biggest holes. But don’t worry, there are Android ports available. Read »
Watch Baidu As China’s Mobile Advertising Market Matures (Seeking Alpha) Baidu is in an interesting transition right now. While it does boast good numbers and a lion’s share of the PC search market, its journey into the mobile market will dictate a lot of its revenue in the future. Baidu has two legs in this search advertising revenue model: PC searches where it boasts an 80 percent ownership of the market, and the growing mobile market where it has about a 35 percent market share. The latter is not expected to significantly grow because competition is a little fiercer and fragmented. There are other players like Tencent (23 percent market share) and Easou (22 percent market share). Read »
What Works In Rich Media Mobile Advertising (celtra via Cool Infographics) A well designed rich media experience that uses a store locator, games or social media has a direct and positive impact on consumer engagement and return on investment. In fact, rich media mobile advertisements drive double-digit engagement rates (12.8 percent on average) across all devices types, platforms and ad placements. Read »
Global online sales exceeded $1 trillion last year, and marketers have officially entered a new era of doing business. Mobile devices and social media are integral parts of the shopping experience, forcing e-commerce strategies to evolve. No longer do marketers wonder if campaigns are effective. Through analytics and marketing attribution, you can directly track a customer’s digital footprint to see how the customer arrived at a point of sale. These new technologies present numerous opportunities to extend your marketing efforts and derive increased business value from e-commerce.
Whether the goal is to increase customer engagement, retention rates, or up-sell and cross-sell success, your e-commerce strategy provides plenty of opportunities. Thanks to the proliferation of data via social media and mobile, insights regarding customer behavior are extensive. As a result, the benefits of e-commerce extend beyond sales by providing detailed data regarding customer interests, past transactions, and product preferences.
Below are six steps marketers can use to take advantage of e-commerce to not only nurture existing relationships but also increase engagement and reach new customers.
Personalize your marketing for targeted demographics
User generated content, online reviews, and status updates can turn marketing and PR teams on their heads. Today’s consumers love giving feedback to their networks. If your product is a miss, you can guarantee a customer will not stay quiet. Instead of fretting, take the reins and involve yourself in the conversation. Social media channels and e-commerce sites integrated with CRM systems provide a direct window to customers.
Direct customer engagement by a brand contributes to longer term and more valuable customer relationships. Through social media, customer interests and sentiment can be tracked in real time. Psychographic profiles use social data to help personalize outreach for individual customers. Is she into sports? Does he like rock or classical music? Interests say a lot about the products and brands customers find most appealing.
Multiple devices require intuitive digital design
Coordination between marketing departments and web or app developers is necessary to ensure optimal shopping experiences. Countless sales are lost every day due to faulty websites that fail to function properly on mobile. Even websites accessed from a laptop can have faults in functionality, which contributes to lost sales.
Marketers should collaborate with designers and developers in order to create e-commerce apps and websites that focus on the shopper and user experience. Faulty shopping carts that fail to accurately suggest similar purchases can hold back cross-sell opportunities. Similarly, if the payment process requires excessive clicks and pages, customers may cancel their purchasing plans altogether.
Use your brand’s mobile apps to embed offers
As your company embraces branded app development for customers, it is important to treat the app as a viable marketing channel. With 44 percent of Americans using smartphones, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities are boundless. Customers can receive discounts and offers through branded apps that help integrate mobile with the in-store shopping experience. In an ideal world, you would have customers purchasing both through e-commerce and in-store.
Also consider adding to the in-store shopping experience by increasing opportunities for e-commerce. Make sure the merchandise mentioned in e-commerce offers is physically in stock. Remember that coordination between your e-commerce operations and necessary departments is crucial to a successful strategy.
For example, every day more than 1.3 million Android devices are activated — which is way more than the 300,000 babies born daily. Users now spend more time each day surfing the web or on their mobile apps than they do watching television.
There are more than a billion smartphones in use around the world, and age is no barrier — teens, adults and seniors are all well represented among their users.
In the world of online businesses, the most competitive and powerful form of marketing is content marketing. Content does not only help business portray their strength and expertise to the targeted audience but at the same time, it allows audience to become fans and engage with the brands.
Content is a creative side of marketing that allows businesses to smartly educate and encourage targeted audience about the specific product or service that a business has to offer. However, many businesses and marketers think that writing 500 to 700 words of content is the only way they can attract their targeted audience and get better search engine rankings.
There are multiple types of content, a business can use in order to market them as well as engage their fans and audience. I will try to discuss different form of marketing that one should use in order to expand more and to gather likeminded people under one umbrella.
This is one of the most inspiring ways to get noticed by targeted audience and convince them to try product or service you offer. Case Studies actually minimize the level of questions and doubts that people has in mind because by case studies they can see how a person get advantage from the same service/product that the company is offering.
It is great if you can provide some sources from where targeted audience can verify your case studies because transparency will easily allow your fans to convert in to loyal customers.
2.Comics and Memes
Login to your facebook account and check, your timeline most probably you will find as many comics and memes shared by your friends on facebook. Memes and comics are highly shareable and this is why businesses use it to promote their product or service to the wider audience and increase their fan base.
You might not see hype in traffic and activity from the first comic or meme but using this on continuous basis will defiantly drive some extra traffic to your side.
Anything that allows audience to participate and compete against each other usually works and as a result level of engagement increases largely. Competitions allow targeted audience to better understand your produce/service you offer and at the same time their participation will not only allow them to convert but also share the word with their circles.
It is important for a competition to design keeping the targeted audience in mind or else you might not see what you have expected from the campaign.
Crowdsourced content is actually tapping in to the vein of writers who are given a topic to write about and then choose the best articles among all. This is great in the sense that you get the chance to look in to multiple perspective and choose the one you like the best.
There are ways you can use this idea to get the attention of the targeted audience and convert the targeted audience in to fans. And then leads.
One of the best ideas is to bring all content forward (this can be anything), on the table and allow your targeted audience to decide which one is best. This will give them a sense of authority to your audience and they will automatically convert in to loyal fans that will help your market to the new audience from the word of mouth.
5.Games and Apps
This is the most famous form of content where Big and mid size businesses are investing in order to increase their authority and build trust to the wider audience. The idea is to launch a game or a mobile app that come in to the daily use of your targeted audience so that they can use that app for free.
This investment will not only allow your audience to stick to your brand but also recommend your brand to others which give you more authority as a brand and business leads that will help you grow.
Content is not limited to writing articles, contests and apps but it is far more than that. Gift is also a powerful form of content that will allow your audience to stick with the brand and follow it religiously.
Offer gifts to your loyal audience on occasions like Christmas, brands anniversary or even you can offer personalized gifts on birthdays and this will kill the distance between audience and brand and people will not only follow them as loyal fans but also speak about you to increase your audience by speaking about you and your brand.
This is another common form of content that can allow brands to tremendously increase the word of mouth and sales of the product/service you offer. The guide should be based on the pain points of the industry or should answer the question they have in mind.
This will allow audience to not only read and download the guides but share and discuss about this on different community forums and blogs which will allow tons of new traffic and links to point back to the website.
This is the powerful form of content that most people don’t really care about. The reason why images are powerful because it can easily get crawled by Google and can be shown in Google images against a certain keywords.
It is recommended to use high quality optimized images so that people can easily share the images with others and at the same time Google images can find the images and crawl it accordingly.
Similar to Images, Infographics are the pack if information displayed in a graphical format so that people from the similar interest not only find the information easily but also share it with their audience just by coping and pasting the code available below the infographics (in most cases).
Infographics at one end allow most difficult information to present in a graphical format which is easy and fun to grasp by the targeted audience and at the same time this will encourage audience to share the information with their circles to spread information and help business to introduce with the new audience.
This is one of the most powerful forms of content that will allow your targeted audience to trust you and follow you and your brand as a fan. The idea is to create some intelligent questions and survey within your industry about hot topics and then make it live for free. SEOmoz is the living example of it who does the SEO industry survey every year and put it live for people to use it.
This will not only help targeted audience to find data from your entity but this helps set your image as an expert and then you can easily sell the product/service you offer.
Discussed above are some of the most powerful form of content that can allow targeted audience to gather around your brand and then convert in to fans and customers but there are few ingredients that a brand should have in order to enjoy the benefits of content marketing that includes a level of transparency, a kick ass product/service and more or else they might not be able to stick the audience around their brand in the longer run.
Four things jump out from the Pew Research Center’s just-released “State of the News Media 2013” report. None of them are particularly good news for anyone in news publishing but they all point to a clear and easy-to-understand trend: Ads alone just ain’t going to cut it anymore; it’s officially time to be experimenting with paid content models; and the product itself – news – is increasingly being commoditized.
Google and Facebook are sucking up all the digital advertising oxygen
While the likes of Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget point to rising digital advertising revenues as cause for optimism among digital publishers, a close look at where those dollars are actually going is not so encouraging. Sadly for publishers, most digital ad spend is going to Google and Facebook (Twitter will no doubt soon join that top tier), and those two companies are also hogging the newly opened up mobile display ad opportunities. Six companies already account for 72 percent market share of mobile display ads, Pew notes, and none of them produce news. News publications are also losing local digital advertising.
Says Pew, “improved geo-targeting is allowing many national advertisers to turn to Google, Facebook and other large networks to buy ads that once might have gone to local news media. At the same time, Google and Facebook are also moving directly into local ad sales. Google is now the ad leader in search, display and mobile.” The takeaway for new and aspiring publishers: Don’t expect ads to keep you afloat.
Sponsored content is up sharply
The Atlantic, Forbes, BuzzFeed, and Gawker are all embracing sponsored content as a way to branch out beyond display ads. Okay, sometimes they call it “native advertising” (BuzzFeed) or “content-driven commerce” (Gawker) – and no-one wants to call it advertorial – but it all amounts to the same thing: a brand slapped on to special content that wouldn’t otherwise be produced.
At PandoDaily, we’ve got a twist on the model, creating series of stories based on editorially selected themes that sponsors then choose to back. All these efforts are in some part a response to the declining value of online display ads, and particularly banners, which are hopefully on their deathbed. Expect to see more such sponsored content – the category is going gangbusters, with Time, Hearst, and Conde Nast all building formats to run native ads.“Though it remains small in dollars, the category’s growth rate is second only to that of video,” Pew says. “Sponsorship ads rose 38.9 percent, to $1.56 billion; that followed a jump of 56.1 percent in 2011.”
Experiments with paid content reached a turning point in 2012
In 2012, people figured out that the New York Times’ porous paywall was actually a success, Andrew Sullivan showed that a community-supported site might be possible, raising more than $500,000 in a matter of weeks, and Marco Arment’s The Magazine became profitable in its first month, without selling ads of any kind. Just today, the first details about the Washington Post’s proposed paywall emerged. Katherine Weymouth, the Post’s publisher, said: “We’ve watched our peers in the industry, and we think the metered model is the best way to keep our reach while asking our readers to help pay for the quality journalism we are known for.”
Meanwhile, 450 of the US’s 1,380 daily newspapers have started or announced plans for some kind of paid content subscription or paywall plan, says Pew, in many cases opting for a New York Times-esque metered model, which allows a certain number of free visits before asking readers to pony up. “With digital ad revenue growing at an anemic 3 percent a year in the newspaper industry, digital subscriptions are seen as an increasingly vital component of any new business model for journalism – though, in most cases, they fall far short of actually replacing the revenue lost in advertising.” Expect to see a lot more action and experimentation in 2013.
News is being commoditized even more
Consider this sentence from Pew: “A growing list of media outlets, such as Forbes magazine, use technology by a company called Narrative Science to produce content by way of algorithm, no human reporting necessary.” This was only one sentence from Pew’s report, but it is a portentous one. Narrative Science automatically creates stories out of raw data that would otherwise have been written by human hands. More robots producing news means fewer humans needed for the task.
This year, it was Forbes, but it can’t be long until other publications – sports and business ones, especially – realize that an algorithm is cheaper than an actual reporter. That’s when news stories become commodities: easy to produce, easy to replicate, easy to distribute. Combine those factors with the decline of digital ad dollars and newsroom layoffs, and it’s no wonder that we are seeing a crisis in journalism. As Pew remarks, “This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands.”
If you’re looking for a weekend project, and you’re especially computer savvy, how about building an Arduino-powered LED clock?
A person with a creative mind, identified only as “Tobias,” developed a one-of-a-kind timekeeper, shown in the video above. The design incorporates 60 LED units, and hours, minutes and seconds can be displayed as a pattern of colors. An Arduino processor is the command center of the clock.
If you’re inspired to create your own, Tobias posted the step-by-step process online, including materials he used as well as a template. The project only cost him about $30 from materials on eBay. Note that the building process is not for every do-it-yourself warrior, however, and programming the device to work correctly may not be as easy as it looks. But if you’re familiar with Arduino projects it could be right up your alley.
The only one people care about: Google Reader. (Seriously, will anyone miss the Google Voice App for BlackBerry?)
Google is shuttering Reader, a product which allows people to quickly skim and read news articles from websites, as of July 1.
News-reader apps like Google Reader, which use a technology called RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, never got to critical mass. But they are used ferociously by people in the media and technology insiders, who depend on them to keep track of a large number of news sources. So they’re very upset, judging by the stunned reaction on Twitter. People are tagging their posts with “#savegooglereader" to signal their support for the product.
Twitter, in fact, is a large factor in what did RSS in—at least as far as consumers went. Clicking one button to follow a source is far easier than setting up an RSS feed in a news-reading app.
Oh, and by the way, do you know what Twitter CEO Dick Costolo did before he was Twitter CEO Dick Costolo? He was the CEO of a company called FeedBurner, which placed ads in RSS feeds. He sold it to Google in 2007 for $100 million, in what was likely the high-water mark for RSS.
RSS will likely remain for a long time as a back-end technology for Web publishing. But if Google couldn’t popularize it or turn it into a business, it’s probably time to call an end to RSS as a consumer phenomenon.
The increasing popularity of the visual web as evidenced by the growth of sites like Pinterest and Instagram along with the recent updates to the Facebook News Feed and Google+ cover images has raised the bar on creative content marketing.
Not long ago, it was progressive just to create blog posts and a few social shares every day. Now so many brands have adopted a publisher model for content marketing that the web is flush with content marketing tactics.
The bar for marketing is definitely higher, not just in terms of the mechanical vs. meaningful brand effort at publishing useful content and engaging on the social web, but for sustaining high levels of content and user experience short and long term. Avinash Kaushik describes that expectation well: “You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).”
Sure, you can learn all the content marketing tactics and visual content techniques there are, but sometimes there are fundamental perspective changes that can make a world of difference in terms of how to approach the increasing demand for higher quality content over time. To that end, here are 4 key content marketing takeaways worth considering:
“Great Content Isn’t Great Until it’s Discovered, Consumed and Shared”
What good is an infographic, eBook or video investment unless you maximize reach and engagement? Buying ads to drive traffic is great for companies with massive advertising budgets, but that’s not most companies. Content Marketing that includes promotion in the planning process isn’t just for SEOs promoting infographics to their home-grown amplification networks, it’s a responsibility for any marketer that is to be held accountable for the performance of the content they’re producing.
Understanding how the target audience discovers, consumes and acts on content is a big move in the right direction for creating meaningful visual content over time.
“Facts Tell, Stories Sell”
Storytelling is what connects brands with consumers in a meaningful way. Every company has a story to tell, whether it’s the latest sexy tech or something most people consider boring. Online marketers should understand how each content object they create complements others and how consumer interaction with that content will advance the buyer along the journey.
Customer empathy will reveal a never ending source of rich stories about how the brand solutions solve problems for consumers and how those solutions will help consumers achieve their goals. We’re not selling hammers, we’re selling houses. We’re not selling insurance, we’re selling peace of mind.
Creative Content Marketing is About Results, Not Awards
It’s easy to get distracted with more creative marketing projects and aspire to making the next greatest content object and get recognized for it’s awesomeness. In the end, it’s the ability of that creative content to attract, engage and convert visitors to fans, prospects to buyers that drives business growth – not winning creative awards. Of course, if your creative content boosted marketing performance AND it’s creatively awesome, then why not? First things first.
The litany of content and now creative content marketing advice being published is finally starting to take customer insight and customer targeting into account. But an overemphasis on customer preferences for content can stifle content innovation. It’s a combination of understanding shifting consumer trends and customer preferences for content discovery, consumption and engagement plus brand content innovation that stands out.
Many customers simply don’t know what they want and it’s up to marketers to be creative about telling new and interesting stories with their content. The combination of customer targeting and creative content innovation is what will make some companies stand out amongst the sheer volume of new content being created by brands.
When you execute on daily content and visual marketing tactics, do you have the basic questions of “why” and for “who” answered? Are you planning content according to audience information needs? Are you building promotion into the content creation process? Are you investing in creative for thei right reasons? Who’s driving your content marketing bus?
I’ll be presenting on this topic at SES New York in a few weeks (Thursday March 28th at 9:30am) with examples of winning and failing in the creative content marketing game. I hope to see you there.
The publishing industry has changed immeasurably in the last decade, and its massive transformation can be summed up in one question… “How much is a piece of content worth?”
This complex question was brought into the national dialogue very recently when noted journalist Nate Thayer wrote a scathing condemnation of an editor for The Atlantic who dared ask him to contribute for free.
Thayer’s frustration has become a rallying cry for many freelance journalists who feel that their work is undervalued. He claims he was once offered $125,000 to write six articles a year. So, when a new editor offered him zero dollars to write, he was quite upset. [Note: an earlier version of this story cited his rate at $500/article, though he has no official market rate].
In fairness, Nate Thayer is an exceptional journalist — he has risked his life to cover Cambodia, and not a lot of people can say that they have risked their lives for anything. If we live in a world where people like Nate can’t exist to cover wars, corruption, etc, then the world will be worse.
But, at the end of the day, publishing is a business. As I’ve said many times, it needs to be treated like one, and so Nate Thayer has a right to understand how digital publishing interacts with revenue.
To be clear, I do not claim to be the world authority on Editorial, Advertising, or Tech — but I am a self-anointed authority on how those three things come together. And so… here is my answer to Nate Thayer (and everyone else) as we ponder the question “how much is my piece of content worth?”
There are three major ways in which an individual piece of content can contribute to the revenue of its digital publisher:
1. Contributing to Measured Reach and Brand Efficacy
A digital publisher begins its existence by trying to grow unique visitors as fast as it can, in order to cross “the line.”
What is “the line”?
Specifically, it is the minimum number of unique visitors (as measured by ComScore) that a website must achieve each month in order to be viable in the eyes of major brand advertising agencies.
And every website has a line that they must cross.
For niche categories like Fashion, the line may be relatively low — just 1 or 2 million visitors. For larger categories, the line is harder to achieve.
At Bleacher Report, we found the line to be about three million unique visitors. Once we reached that point, we hired our VP of Sales, and our revenue increased significantly. Several agencies with which we spoke were comfortable advertising on a sports website with three million unique visitors, though some expressed that five million was more realistic.
An individual piece of content is valuable when it helps its publisher get past that line. Because if the publisher is on the wrong side of the line, then they cannot build a sales team and earn premium CPM rates. And no publishing business can thrive on third party sales.
This, of course, is terrible news for bloggers.
Very few blogs can earn the traffic necessary to cross any line. So even if a story goes viral and attracts a million visitors to the blog, it will still prove far less valuable without the context of a larger publisher who can hit that critical mass.
This is also bad for “blog networks” who can try to package multiple sites under one “umbrella” traffic number — but many advertisers still prefer to work with large individual websites. This was the great flaw in SBNation, our largest competitor who struggled to grow revenue at our pace. No individual blog in their network achieved great scale, which is why their CEO Jim Bankoff corrected course in launching TheVerge under one brand domain.
It also explains Buzz Media’s weakness and recent job cuts.
Crossing “the line” is essential. But so too is building a great brand.
Unfortunately for Nate Thayer, The Atlantic already has a great brand, so he alone will not move mountains for them. For that reason, newer publications like PandoDaily, TheVerge, or Bleacher Report can get more mileage out of “big name” contributors who can do more to advance the brand.
In fact, The Atlantic can probably do more to improve the author’s brand, not the other way around — just ask Anne Marie Slaughter.
The great dream that many bloggers once advanced… that big publishers would give way to a decentralized “sea of blogs” was always an untenable one. Because advertising is the lifeblood of publishing, and no blog will ever be able to cross “the line.”
Not now. Not ever. It takes a lot of content to move a website past that barrier on a month-in-month-out basis.
2. Contributing eyeballs to the site
This is the easiest value to measure with regard to a piece of content. Everyone who understands the basics of advertising — heck, even a venture capitalist — knows how this equation works.
Impressions x CPM Rate = Dollars
To bring this to life, let’s use an example… A very successful article will attract 100,000 readers. If there are two impressions per page and a $1.00 CPM, then that article will generate $200. For most blogs, those rates are a best-case scenario. It would be very difficult to make a living in such a manner.
But for a successful website that has crossed “the line” and employs a strong sales force, then those rates could be much higher. Let’s say $5 CPM’s: An article for such a site might be worth $1,000 if it attracts 100,000 readers.
Could a tyical rate of $500 per article work in such a scenario? Probably not. Because then the publisher has a “gross margin” of about 50 percent, which will likely not be enough to pay for the rest of the operation, starting with the salesperson who will take his or her commission right off the top.
But it gets even worse for the Nate Thayers of the world.
Even if his article is published on the day of a major advertising campaign that can generate $5 CPM’s, that does not guarantee that his article will partake in that campaign. Maybe his article went live at noon, right when the advertising campaign ended. Or maybe his article pertained to a presidential election, but the advertising campaign revolved around sports.
This variable highlights exactly how many things have to go right in order for his article to generate that $5 CPM:
The article has to: (a) be a hit, (b) be on a site with great advertising salespeople, (c) run during an advertising campaign, and (d) run on a day when advertising inventory was constricted enough such that some other article would not have been able to take its place.
This quadruple-coincidence means that his story — however great its literary merit — probably won’t be worth the $500 for which he is paid. And even if it were, how can a publisher know that he will consistently generate such value?
Yes, these numbers were quasi-hypothetical. And, evidently, some people do pay him $500 per article. Who knows whether the newsroom editor cutting that check has any idea how the economics of content work — given the collapse of publishing, I’ll wager that most do not understand the relationship between ‘content’ and ‘business’.
Here’s my opinion…
I have no idea how an article can justify a $500 price tag in 99.9 percent of cases.
Is it worth it for ESPN to pay Bill Simmons more than that? Probably. He is a cultural icon. The same goes with Tom Friedman. But people like Nate Thayer are far from being household names or cultural icons, and so they have to play by the rules of economics.
And I think it is unlikely that the average piece by a quality freelance journalist is going to generate more than $500 of revenue on a consistent basis. Let alone the $5,000+ it probably needs to generate in order to contribute to a profitable overall business.
If the WSJ and NYT digital subscription model starts working for more publishers, it may change the model. But I would not count on that scaling.
3. Contributing directly to sponsorship opportunities
This is more of an exceptional case than it is a strategy for writers like Thayer. But it is real.
Assuming that a large publisher can attract large advertising clients, then they can start to create sponsored content. This is all the ‘rage’ in New Media as sites like BuzzFeed shine a spotlight on it. Though there is nothing particularly complicated about it.
An advertiser may want your site to create special content around a brand-relevant message, and they may be willing to pay a lot for it.
At Bleacher Report, we had a major automotive client commission a Fantasy Football series, and for that reason we were able to pay Arian Foster — one of the most famous athletes in America — to star in the content. I won’t tell you how much we paid him. But you can guess that it was more than $500.
This is a great opportunity for writers to align their efforts with that of the advertisers in a very direct manner.
And while most writers must still understand that the publisher could just use some other writer instead of them to create the sponsored content, there is usually a fair middle ground. Most publishers pay more to create sponsored content, because it just seems reasonable when it contributes to a seven-figure check.
So, in conclusion…
If you are a freelance journalist, don’t expect to get paid $500 per article. The economics of print journalism in the 1990s may have been different, but in today’s digital age, they are what they are.
It takes hundreds (if not thousands) of articles to cross “the line” each month. The typical article will directly monetize tens not hundreds of dollars worth of eyeballs. And sponsored content is still a new concept.
To be honest, Nate Thayer’s article was probably worth a lot closer to $0 than it was to $500.
And while he deserves our respect for his willingness to risk life and limb in the name of his craft…nobody — not Nate Thayer, not The Atlantic, and not I — can do a damn thing about that great leveler:
[Editor’s Note: For another take on this issue, see Paul Carr’s recent post, “The future of journalism: It’s time to pick a side.”]
I have always been a fan of the CMO.com guide to channel selection. Each year for the last few years, the CMO.com folks have put together a handy guide that explains exactly how each of the main social media channels can be best used.
This year, rather than producing an infographic (as in previous years), the guide has become interactive.
You simply select a social network and mouse over the various good, ok and bad options to learn more about how they can be used effectively.
Unfortunately, the guide only covers Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube. Which is a shame, as marketers seeking to put their content to work are likely to find niche social networks will deliver more bang for the buck. However, if you just want to validate your tactics and share that with your boss, this hands-on guide to social media channel selection may be just what you need to share internally.
LinkedIn has quickly achieved top status as “the” business to business social networking destination. In fact, less than two years after going public, LinkedIn’s value has risen from $4 billion to over $18 billion.
Not only has LinkedIn’s value increased significantly, but their capabilities and engagement have as well. The same Wall Street Journal article that included the valuation above also shared the following insight:
In the most recent quarter LinkedIn’s page views have risen 67%
LinkedIn’s new “content” features include news aggregation and hosting of expert blog posts
If your company hasn’t quite figured out the secret sauce needed to really make your executives’ LinkedIn profiles shine or how to make meaningful connections, you’re in luck. Whether you want to increase your brand or individual online visibility, this post shares insights into the 5 elements of an optimized LinkedIn profile.
#1 –Use An Appropriate Image
Your LinkedIn profile image should accurately reflect who you are as a professional. When users are searching for you or land on your profile your picture is one of the first things that they see.
Adding keywords to your headline that you want to be associated with can improve your searchability within LinkedIn and beyond. While it may be tempting to add extra filler words it can actually hurt your optimization for key phrases. Here are two best practices for updating your headline for maximum impact:
1 – Multiple Titles: Create a headline that displays the different titles someone is likely to search for related to what you do. Mari Smith’s LinkedIn profile is a great example of this tactic.
2 – Descriptive: Write a descriptive headline that illustrates what you do with keywords filtered in. TopRank CEO Lee Odden’s profile utilizes this approach.
#3 – Update Relevant Experience
It’s easy to fall into the trap of simply grabbing the “about us” text from your company website and utilizing it for your position description. However, there is an opportunity within the work experience section on LinkedIn to share a little bit about your company, as well as share a list of your responsibilities and accomplishments in current and previous positions. Consider it a timeline of your growth and evolution as a professional.
Make sure that you flesh out as much information as you can for each relevant position that you’ve had. Connie Bensen of Dell provides a great overview of what she’s accomplished during her time with the company as well as a list of her specialties.
#4 – Beef Up the Summary Section
The LinkedIn Profile Summary can be used to provide additional descriptions about your experience, expertise, awards, etc. The Summary is also the section of your profile which has the highest character count. This is where you can give people a glimpse into who you are, what your background is, what you’re looking to accomplish, and additional places they can find you online or contact you.
LinkedIn Summary also presents an opportunity to include links to content that you’ve created (or participated in creating) and displays them. For example, Pam Didner from Intel has included links to a few of the presentations she’s given at conferences to provide visitors with more engaging examples of her work and point of view. A presentation is far more engaging than a block of text.
When someone endorses you for a particular skill or area of expertise it shows up below your work experience on your LinkedIn profile. Next to each endorsement you’ll see the number of people that have endorsed you for any individual skill set. If you find that the skills listed on your profile don’t accurately represent your capabilities you can always go into that area of your profile and either add or remove individual items from your list.
A good recommendation is going to take a little more effort than simply clicking to endorse your connections or ask that they do the same for you. If you’re going to ask for recommendations I recommend that you always personalize the message. While LinkedIn allows you to send a recommendation request to 200 people at a time, a personalized approach can go a long way. Remember that you’re asking your connections to set aside time to say nice things about you in a public forum, so your communication with them should be sincere and appreciative.
Every professional can benefit from a properly optimized LinkedIn profile in many ways. Whether you want to connect with others in your industry, find a new position, learn more about your customers, or continue to network with those you know in real life there is no question that LinkedIn has tremendous value.
As you continue to improve the content within your profile you’ll notice that your profile ranking, searchability, and number of people viewing your profile will most likely increase. The more visibile you are, the more visible your company will be.
What have you found to be the most effective tactic for promoting your business and for professional networking on LinkedIn?
We all know analytics are important. As marketers, we spend a great deal of time in the data. We all, hopefully, consider ourselves part analyst in many ways. At the foundation of a good marketing team, there is an accessible analytics platform that is set up to provide actionable insights. We should always feel that the data is just a log in away. We should feel we have the data to make great recommendations, troubleshoot issues, and forecast our efforts accurately. We should all feel totally in control of our analytics, and use them daily.
But then unicorns jump out of pink clouds and fly around our heads, because that is simply not the case. Ever.
Maybe a handful of you work on teams that are doing all they can do as it relates to analytics. Maybe some of you have even staffed your team with a handful of full-time analysts. More likely, you may all be trying to use data in your jobs, but not doing it as thoroughly or as effectively as you wish you were.
So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the different types of analytics and common places to start with them. I believe the number one reason marketing teams aren’t as data-driven as they should be is because data is intimidating. However, knowledge trumps intimidation. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be to put on that analyst hat. And analyst hats are cool. So let’s jump in.
What are the different types of analytics?
The goal of all data analytics is to leave us more educated than before so we can perform better in the future. Sounds simple, right? Well, not really. A common misconception among marketers is that all analysis is equal, which isn’t exactly the truth. There are actually three types of analytics; predictive, prescriptive, and descriptive. Most marketers spend the majority, if not all, of their time on only one of them: descriptive. As you can imagine, that leaves a lot of awesome data and innovation on the table.
Let’s run through the three and talk through the differences…
Descriptive analytics is when we data mine our historical performance for insights. Often, we are just looking to get context or tell a story with the data. This is most certainly at the heart of what most marketers do on a daily basis, particularly in their web analytics. We look at how we are doing, and we try to understand what is happening and how that is affecting everything else.
Typical questions include: “How did that campaign do?” “What sort of performance did we see last quarter?” “How did that site’s down time affect other performance KPIs?”
Predictive analytics takes that one step further. It’s less about the questions, and more about the suggestions. It involves looking at your historical data, and coming up with predictions on what to expect next. This is most readily used in our industry when we try to predict how next month will perform based on this month’s performance (month over month predictions or MoM). While it seems like an obvious next step for analysis, it’s amazing to me just how many marketers stop at descriptive, and fail to push into this arena of predictive analytics. Often, it’s because this involves predictive modeling which can, again, be very intimidating.
Typical statements include: “Based on the last few months of data and our consistent growth, we can expect to increase another 25%,” or, “Knowing our seasonal drop trend, we can expect to slow down by 10% in the next 6 weeks.”
This is where things can get fun. Prescriptive analytics takes forecasting and predictions a step further. With prescriptive analytics, you automatically mine data sets, and apply business rules or machine learning so you can make predictions faster and subsequently prescribe a next move. Marketers tend not to think of this “as their responsibility.” That is for someone else to think about and solve. I think that is a super dangerous mindset, given we are on the hook for hitting the company’s business KPIs. Prescriptive analytics can be a very powerful catalyst for success at a company.
Typical questions include: “What if we could predict when customers leave us before they do, what could we surface prior to that to change their minds?” “What if we can predict when they are ripe for a second purchase and suggest it along side other products?” “What if we can predict what they would be most likely to share with a friend, how would we surface that?”
So, are you doing enough?
I ask this because somewhere along the way, marketers began to believe that descriptive analytics was our job, and “that other stuff” was for someone else to figure out. At SEOmoz, we are working hard to have each team working on all three types of data analysis in a variety of capacities. It’s not easy. There is a stereotype out there that you have to break through. Data can be fun. It can be accessible, and it can be part of everyone’s job. In fact, it really should be.
Imagine this for a second: just think about how much could get done if every team felt empower to tell a story with the data, make predictions off of it, and then brainstormed ways to operationalize that data to prescribe next steps for the biggest gains.
That is what being an analyst means and I believe we are all becoming more of an analyst as this industry continues to evolve. The platforms out there make it easier than ever, and the competition is more intense then ever. Why not be part of something more than just telling a story with the data? Why not suggest the next move? Why not create crazy ways to use the data? I think it’s time we all put our analyst hat back on and had a little fun with it.
Hopefully, breaking down the types of analytics above is a great reminder that there is more than just descriptive analytics. At the very least, you can share with your team to inspire them to do more with the data in front of them. Best of luck to you fellow data lovers!
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!
I’m in Lake Tahoe this week combining some business and down-time and recently spoke at “Snowcial"—billed as "SXSW for the snow sports and hospitality industry, it attracts a really cool cross section of people who span marketing, technology and even journalism. If you love skiing or snowboarding and marketing/technology, it’s worth considering for your event calendar. I kicked off day one yesterday with a short talk about content, convergence and connectivity. Below are a few themes from my talk:
Content As Currency
There’s a good reason everyone is talking about the role of *content these days but you have to understand the psychology of it all. Thanks to social networks, people share interesting, entertaining or even informative content because it makes them look good. There’s a reason why the word “meme” has “me” in it. So it’s not enough just to produce content—your content has to be designed for sharing. I like to think of content in today’s hyper connected world as being “snackable”—sending out bits and bites of content which can be digested and shared rapidly. The reason why we’re seeing a revolution in visual content which is designed for social newsfeeds and mobile is based on this core understanding of why people like, share and engage around content.
Everyone Can And Will Publish
I shared a recent experience I had with Jeep where I tweeted for help and was not only responded to but had my issue resolved through their customer care service which was facilitated through my initial interactions on Twitter. This is by no means a new model, but clearly Jeep had a process in place and was able to close the loop with me efficiently. This is an area brands will continue to grapple with as people move from traditional ways to initiate contact with brands and go directly to public forums. The obvious follow up question is how does this scale? My answer is figure it out because it’s not going away. And yes, my car is working just fine now.
Insights > Influence
For all the hype around influence—we’ve still largely got it wrong. We should be looking at analyzing who and what are driving conversations in the same context as we might run a focus group. Technologies that allow us to analyze conversations and how they spread and who influences them can provide great insights if we know what we are looking for. For example in working with the association that represents US dairy farmers—we analyzed conversations in forums and found these emerging. As we audited the content the organization was producing—we identified opportunities make future content initiatives more relevant to what people were talking about. You Don’t Not Need An App For That
There’s no doubt that we are living in an App economy, but it’s time to step back and ask ourselves if we need an app for every idea. Unless that idea involves significant functionality, it might not need to be developed as a stand alone app creating yet another format to maintain. My team has been developing content solutions using responsive design techniques so the design reacts to the format it’s being viewed it. It’s not a perfect solution for every development issue, but worth tapping where it makes sense.
It’s All Converging
Lastly I talked about the convergence of media models and marketing tactics. First from a broad perspective inspired by Altimeter's model of converged media, but also ad it applies to new digital advertising formats which blur hard lines. Facebook sponsored posts are a perfect example of how paid, earned, and owned dynamics all come together. You can read more about that on the unofficial All Facebook blog who covered my talk.
Looking forward to hitting the slopes again before I leave!
Google today updated its Inside Search site, its homepage for all things search, with a handful of educational and interactive features that explain in layman’s terms how Google’s Search works. Did you know the web had over 30 trillion pages, by the way? Or that Google supports over 100 billion searches every month? Or that Google’s index is over 100 million gigabytes? If you find factoids like that interesting, you’ll probably enjoying a scroll through the new “How Search Works” live infographic, which also contains a few clickable links to charts and graphs showing things like the rise of spam, and milestones in Google’s spam-fighting techniques, among other things.
The update is something of a follow-up to last year’s detailed look into how Gmail works called The Story of Send. For the most part, it’s really high-level stuff here, designed to make the details of technology approachable and understandable to a more mainstream audience looking to gain a better understanding of what happens after they type into the search box.
The new sections of the site include not only the graphical explanation of Google Search’s inner workings, but also details about Google’s major algorithms and features, a list of Google policies, plus a 43-page document that explains how Google evaluates its results. (OK, that part might be a little more in-depth, I’ll admit.)
But the best part? The live spam slideshow. Here, you can see screenshots of spam Google has removed from its search results only minutes ago. Dozens upon dozens of them, in fact. It’s almost like getting a real-time view into Google itself, which is actually pretty fascinating.
Now if only we could see what people were googling for in real-time, we would really….wait…
I just spent the last hour browsing my dashboard in Tumblr,
“hearting” many posts and reblogging a couple that live up to what I am trying
to publish in my Tumblr. I follow artists, designers, comic book artists, architects,
map enthusiasts, photographers of empty spaces and much more. For me, it’s about inspiration. And pausing
from the frenetic pace and tension of my life to remember what I care about
"EVENT: Don’t miss my interview this week with Tumblr founder, David Karp.
Join us as for a candid conversation with David Karp who has created one of the fastest growing communities of people sharing what they care about most. How can brands participate in Tumblr with meaningful brand or business impact and how do we do it without spoiling the beauty of Tumblr? Join Social@Ogilvy’s John Bell as he asks David Karp about his vision for brands and Tumblr.”
Tumblr is a place of passions, things we care about. Sure,
it’s about “creators” but a broad, generous definition of creativity. As such
it’s a network of people who care about the affinity that draws them there.
Many brands are more than experimenting with the site. You
can browse some of the brand pages via the Brands on Tumblr page. The
advantages are clear:
Tumblr hosts interest and passion-driven content through the
Connecting with relevant microcommunities will become
essential for brands in the next phase of data-driven social media marketing
Tumblr pages are indexed by Google and enhance a brand’s
They can be masked within a brand domain and therefore be
part of the corporate domain
The network of 150 million, highly engaged users has
appreciable reach and a built-in social behavior - reblogging
The simplicity of the platform supports brand ambitions to
embrace content marketing
They visual design of the service lends itself to visual
expression and emotion
There are some simple advertising solutions – two – that
help brands be discovered
The 4th Place
If Facebook is the key social network that brands want to
master due to its broad global reach, Twitter is likely number two due to broad
global relevance, it’s influencer status and suitability for service brand
care. YouTube comes in next as the defacto platform for serving up video inside
the world’s #2 search engine.
Pinterest? Instagram? Tumblr stands a better chance at
earning the 4th place position in social brand architecture for
companies who know they need a searchable content place and who want to be
inside a network of passions.
There are over 93 million Tumblrs (Tumblr blogs), users
average 23 minutes on the platform per session and they clock 18 billion page
views a month. It’s got reach and engagement. (Get some strong stats here)
Many arts-related brands have made a home here. Fashion
brands are a strong niche.
Burberry: they established the Art of the Trench, the
emotional “home” of the brand and are asking people to submit their photos of
Chanel: they keep it simple and post images that people can
lust after and reblog
Dolce & Gabbana: An endless flow of fashion covers and
spreads ready for reblogging and ‘hearting.’
Tory Burch: Torypedia is personal and luscious. Big, rebloggable
pictures which si just what we want from fashion
Now is the time to explore in Tumblr. Brands like Ford, IBM, Amex and others are exploring how to use great content within this interest community.
The Lincoln Motor Company: our team did this work and
created a poetic and beautiful site for Lincoln that taps the heritage of the
Beautiful Creatures, the Movie: Hollywood embraces Tumblr as
the platform of choice for new releases. Think about all those wasted dollars
creating the Flash sites of yesteryear.
Coca Cola: the brand that embraced content marketing (see
Content 2020) brings you a tumblr full of shareable images and gifs
Whole Foods: the Dark Rye Tumblr aggregates “pioneers of unconventional ideas…” thus building on the brand story of Whole Foods as a disrupter.
I know the guys/gals at Tumblr and have a lot of faith in
their plans. They are embracing brands while staying committed to their
original vision of a platform for creative-types. They have created an index of
passions in my own words. That means emotion is part of what you will find
there and as brands re-embrace the power of emotion and, perhaps, how to create
great brand experience in a social world, Tumblr is the place to do that. They are innovating and working with brands now. That’s why our team participates on their A-List and produces Tumblr-based ideas for Ford, IBM and other brands.
Facebook and Twitter serve to point to other content. Tumblr
We are not mobile enough. Brands are under investing in
meeting customers at all of the mobile touch points just as they are
under investing in social media. But business leaders want to lead and do more
Media companies, brands, technologists, carriers and Ogilvy
will flock to Barcelona to the Mobile World Congress 2013 to not just pace the
trade floor for promising mobile solutions beyond the obvious, but they will
also attend insightful keynotes like the panel on Vertical Disruption featuring
GM, American Heart Association and Qualcomm and the panel on Mobile Innovation
2023 offering a near-future vision.
We will publish throughout the event and distill what we
learn into useful takeaways just as we did for CES. Our own Martin Lange will
be leading the charge and you can follow his team’s Tumblr here. Start off with
their ‘5 Trends to Watch For…’
Mobile in the Middle of SoMoVa
Marketers need a “stimulus package” for mobile. They need an
artificial way to motivate their marketers to commit to making mobile a core
expertise and a primary way they engage customers. Someday, mobile will just be
how we engage people from smartphones to the tablet-of-the-future to the
‘internet of things.’
But until that future arrives, and to ensure it does, we
need ways to spark the imagination of marketers to put mobile first now - to
make it routine and consistent. Clearly, mobile usage broadly defines varies
market-by-market and consumer context-by-context. Still, you would be hard
pressed to examine a market anywhere in the world and not be able to identify
ways in which mobile is changing the customer journey.
Many would say that mobile (and social) don’t fundamentally
change how marketing works. Maybe. To help ace marketers focus on mobile and
social behaviors, I would suggest a simple rubric with checklists to help us
all put these considerations front of mind.
Social + Mobile + Value = Successful Marketing
Okay, okay, that’s not all that goes into “successful
marketing.” These ingredients are now essential, however.
Brands can increase the social qualities of their marketing
and communications by designing programs around the “Principles of Social
Design.” These are the lessons we have learned that explain why people share
all types of word of mouth (i.e. “earned media”). The more they do this and
learn their own context-specific principles the more they will meet consumer’s
Likewise, brands can increase the mobile accessibility and
utility by designing programs for the customer across the heterogeneous experiences
of mobile. That means understanding the context in which we reach for our
tablets at home on the couch or press on our smartphones standing in the
aisle. Google’s Multiscreen Study
continues to be a great reference that starts to articulate useful context.
We need the equivalent “principles of mobile design” to
serve as a checklist to inform creative and strategic work from all marketers
not just the token mobile experts. At the very least, our checklists include “…the
inherent advantages found in the mobile world: location sensing, cameras and
instant access to social networks.”
Every marketer thinks about the additional value they are
delivering to customers whether in the form of complimentary recipes posted on
Facebook or via a mobile app or something much bigger like a Nike Fuel where a
whole new business model is inspired by technology and mobility. What is the
core value we are trying to dial up? How is that being enabled or amplified via
our mobile and social-first design?
If brand marketers and their teams had this simple rubric
and the questionnaires for each axis in front of them as they designed
marketing and communications programs, it might serve as a stimulus package to
making SoMoVa central to how we serve our consumers/customers today.
I often share my thoughts to help global brands and enterprise organizations. But with this article, I would like to talk to the broader group of business professionals without reference to the size and shape of your company. Here and in many other media outlets, networks, and blogs around the web, social media is one of the most prevalent subjects in business today. While advice is everywhere, advice is becoming a commodity. Insight however, is precious.
Let’s take this time together to share with you my thoughts on some of the most often asked questions and how your role in finding the right answers and putting them into action is more important than you may think.
While you may read success story after success story, we cannot make any great assumptions in how they’ll impact your work.
There is a great myth that a winning formula exists for success in social media; that if you deconstruct the most popular case studies, you’ll find a winning recipe for your social media strategy.
It’s easy to get caught up in the creative examples we read about. Many times however, they feed the very impressions that can work against you.
- If we can introduce the right viral content we can get more views or friends.
- If we can maintain a rhythmic editorial calendar we can spark conversations that create a social effect.
- If we can develop the most amazing app, we can rise to the top of our customer’s attention span!
- And, my personal favorite, if we get our company in social networks, we can build better relationships with our customers.
Rather than seeking shortcuts, we should see these examples as inspiration. In the end however, we each have our own question we need to answer…what do successful relationships and experiences look like in social media for our customers?
The formula for success in social media begins with first defining what success is and how it will be measured. This is one of the most important steps in any social media strategy, yet it is the first step that many businesses miss. The truth is that there is no formula for success. It requires something special for each strategy and it’s dependent on the people you’re trying to reach, their expectations, your business objectives and how this engagement ties specifically to your organization (sales, marketing, service, products, etc.)
To help, let’s put social media strategy into an approachable framework. Begin by organizing the most important themes to form what I refer to as The 5 Pillars of Social Media Strategy. This will contribute to a meaningful social media presence as long as you revisit this approach through every step of the strategy process.
1. Listen, Search, Walk a “Daily in the Life” of your customers.
Research is critical in understanding how your connected consumer makes decisions, how they’re influenced and where they engage and learn. This is the dynamic customer journey. Here, you’ll learn that your social customers are not at all like the traditional customers you know. Please note that they’re still important, but a new approach is required to expand your reach. Essentially here you discover new touch points and decision-making cycles. You’ll learn that this isn’t just about social media at all. In fact you’ll see how social, mobile, digital and other traditional channels need to work together to guide a complementary, integrated and converged journey. Think of it as customer journey optimization (CJO) or customer journey management (CJM).
2: Rethink your Vision, Mission, and Purpose.
When’s the last time you read your company’s vision or mission statements? Did it or does it speak to you? Would you Tweet it? Take this time to redesign customer experiences and articulate your vision for how you will use social media to improve customer experiences now and over time.
3. Define Your Brand Persona
Take some time to answer the following questions…What do you want people to see and appreciate? What do you want customers to hear, see, think and feel? Who are they engaging with? What do you stand for? Defining your brand persona will humanize engagement and make takeaway impressions and value consistent across every network and in every scenario.
4. Develop a Social Business Strategy.
Make your presence matter. This isn’t just about concepting the next Facebook Like or Twitter Retweet campaign. Based on the first 3 steps, develop a business-level strategy that meets the needs and expectations of your connected customers. As you’ll learn in step 1, new touch points emerge. If you are not part of the awareness stage of the decision making cycle, you will not benefit from consideration nor a decision in your favor. They key is to also tie social media back to key business objectives while investing in the necessary roles to engage customers at the functional level (service/support, sales, marketing, collaboration/innovation, etc.)
5. Build and Invest in Your Community.
Don’t just think about social media as an editorial or marketing program. That’s just table stakes. In fact, don’t just limit this to social media at all. This is a chance to rethink the entire engagement strategy and the customer journey. Ultimately, you’re setting the stage for something more meaningful and substantive…the experience. Community isn’t defined by Likes or followers. Those are essentially “in the moment” actions. We’re talking about human beings. Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter. Participate in the communities that you host and also the communities that host the conversations that are important to your business. That’s the secret to earning a lasting affinity the contributes to you becoming a trusted resource.
By repeating steps one through five over time will help you achieve empathy, which will inspire meaningful strategies to earn relevance. I often think of my good friend Chris Heuer’s words, “There is no box!” In the face of something, something that moves and adapts so quickly, we can only be students to learn and figure out what others take for granted. It’s important to remember is that in social media, mobile, and in the face of innovation, there is no box to think outside of. In fact, there is no box. There is only a blank slate and a series of unanswered questions that separate you from your connected customers. Seek inspiration from the examples of others, but use The 5 Pillars of Social Media Strategy to learn how to reach, engage, and enchant your connected customers now and in the future.
Originally published in AT&T’s Networking Exchange
Call it “anticipatory computing,” “information gravitation” or whatever else you want, but it appears the future of search isn’t search at all. Rather, next-generation applications will surface the information we need when we need it — whether we know we need it or not.
And although there’s a semantic element to it, this is beyond the realm of semantic search. We’re talking about doing a video chat, sending an email or just surfing the web, and seeing relevant content appear before your eyes. Why? Because the web and, heck, even our laptops are so full of information we don’t always know what to look for or have the extra attention to devote to looking for it.
Most recently, I spoke with Christopher Eakins, CEO of a company called Grapple Data that wants to revolutionize desktop search. Presently, the company’s flagship product, called Aikin, is doing something similar to semantic search on the surface. It’s responding to searches with a list of files, emails, contacts or other content — ranked by relevance — that a standard keyword search wouldn’t detect.
He says the product addresses the problem of information workers “being force-fed more than we can chew,” often across applications that don’t interact with each other at all. One might think of Aikin, he said, as a device that records, indexes and keeps track of everything you do on your machine, so you don’t have to remember specific file names, people or even keywords later on. If you have an idea what you’re looking for, it will find that content and then some.
Going forward, though, Eakins hopes Grapple can do away with desktop search altogether, or at least make it less necessary. That’s where the real innovation comes in. He wants to enable what he calls “information gravitation,” where relevant content would start to surface based on the subject of an email someone is typing, for example. It’s like those targeted ads in Gmail, only in real-time and, presumably valuable to users.
I first came across the concept in April 2012 while covering a company called PureDiscovery. Historically dedicated to semantic search and indexing within large corporate datasets, CEO Dave Copps explained to me the company’s plans for going much, much bigger. Essentially — first within corporate networks and then across the entire web — it wants to teach is BrainSpace software to learn how people and pieces of content are related and then surface both automatically based on who you follow, what your interests are or even what text you highlight on a web page.
The plan appears to be coming along. The web part, which is definitely a bigger-picture undertaking, seems to have materialized in the form of a beta-mode application called Grokkit. (I’m still waiting for my invite.)
There’s also the work that Expect Labs is doing around its MindMeld application, which my colleague Om Malik lauded as “herald[ing] the era of anticipatory computing.” MindMeld is a video-chat application that also uses voice recognition and some serious data analysis to figure out what a conversation is about and surface relevant information related to that from the web or users’ social graphs. It also tries to predict where a conversation is going and queue up content that it thinks will be relevant in the future.
The point of all of this stuff — and even some of what we’re seeing in the enterprise IT world with startups like Ayasdi and BeyondCore — is that people don’t always know what they’re looking for or the right queries to enter in order to find it. If more information (or at least more relevant information) really is better, this should be a welcome trend.
Instagram announced Thursday that it’s hit 90 million monthly active users, finally releasing the metric that most people look to in evaluating the reach of a particular website or app. Monthly active users are one of the better indicators of a company’s true reach — you can have millions of users, but if they never log in and use your service, that doesn’t mean much.
We broke down the numbers for all of the prominent social media services that have released a monthly active user stat, and then plotted those numbers along with the years since the company launched. The area of the circles is representative of the service’s monthly active users. And you might find some of the results surprising. For all we talk about Twitter, it still has only half the monthly active users of Tumblr, which was launched a year later. And while LinkedIn was the first company founded of all we charted, it still has pretty tiny numbers.
But taking a look at the numbers we do have — and it’s worth noting that the majority of major sites do release the monthly active figure — gives you a good sense of where traffic and user interest is going. And if your users aren’t interested in visiting your site or app each month, that’s probably not a great sign:
You’re not alone. A recent study showed that almost three-quarters (72 percent) of businesses that use social media don’t know how to measure their return on investment, and with e-commerce sales forecast to have reached $9.2 billion in 2012 – from some 167 million online shoppers – this disconnect has never been more important. Or costly.
Digital marketers who drive sustained revenue and customer acquisition through organic search understand the value of being agile. Search engine optimization is one of the most volatile digital marketing channels, with Google changing its algorithm on 41 different occasions since July 2011. It was at this time that Response Mine Interactive published its first SEO tactics chart. Just over a year later, a new tactics chart has been released. Here are the changes:
More emphasis on content The content spoke has been significantly enhanced. The new edition includes terms like “latent semantic index (LSI),” “editorial calendar,” and “social sharing.” High quality, relevant content has always been a staple of a solid on-site SEO strategy. However, this alone is no longer enough. Frequent and sharable content is required for sustained success.
The most beneficial on-site SEO investment a company can make is the creation and execution of a smart editorial calendar. Content that is tied to recent events and consumer interest will generate the most social activity. Ensure content is relatable to your brand and is used to support key landing pages that drive revenue or customer acquisition.
The introduction of the latent semantic index has increased opportunities for better on-site copy. Copywriters no longer have to write for search engines and humans, enabling them to focus on providing an optimal user experience. In addition, less SEO landing pages are required to rank for a wide variety of keywords. Let’s say your company sells athletic gear and competes with Sports Authority and Dicks Sporting Goods. Historically, you would need to create separate landing pages for keywords such as “athletic gear,” “athletic equipment,” “athletic apparel,” “sports apparel,” and “sports clothing.” With latent semantic indexing, this is no longer the case.
Pay close attention to the bolded words in the query above. All these words are semantically related to “athletic gear.”A more robust synonym index enables brands to focus on creating content based on user interest and relevance while not sacrificing organic search performance.
Importance of link diversity and social signals
On April 24, 2012, Google released “Penguin,” its most impactful algorithm update in recent history, changing the SERPs for 3.1 percent of all English queries. This update was meant as a solution for sites ranking atop Google via unnatural means. Link type and anchor text diversity are two key factors Google uses to determine what’s “natural.”
SEO professionals historically built links on relevant and authoritative sites to achieve performance goals. Almost all of these links used the main keyword or a slight variation as the anchor text. The reason such tactics worked so well was Google’s reliance on anchor text to determine relevance. Today’s algorithms are significantly more complex — as a result, smart digital marketers can build links with a wide variety of anchor text, driving sustained organic performance.
In addition to varying anchor text, link type diversity is required for a natural SEO campaign. Contextual links are still the single most influential link type you can acquire. However, obtaining a wide variety of link types will produce the best results. The challenge lies in the monitoring and identification of these different link types.
Response Mine Interactive utilizes an enterprise level SEO platform (BrightEdge) to competitively monitor link type distribution and identify new link opportunities of various types.
The left side illustrates the link type distribution for one of the largest lawn care providers. As you can see, this particular company leverages blogs, new articles, and press releases as its main sources of links. Technology to detect and classify link types is evolving, yet nearly 75 percent of links do not fall into a particular category and are still being classified as “other.” Marketers can still classify link types manually by exploring competitive back links using other tools such as Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer, and Ahrefs.
The right side lists links classified by link type. This is extremely helpful if you want to acquire competitor links of a certain type.
Agile companies have a significant advantage in organic search as algorithms continue to evolve. Proper resource allocation is the key to efficiently driving sustained performance. The frequent publication and social promotion of relevant, customer-centric content is the single most beneficial on-site investment a company can make. Always ensure this content is based on a solid keyword strategy and editorial calendar. Add high-quality links of various types and anchor text into the mix to achieve a level of sustained organic performance your competitors can only attempt to emulate.
Feeling short of time? Perhaps you’ve lost it all to social media. People spend nearly 7 hours per month on Facebook, and time overall spent on social media is way up since 2006. Even watching TV has become social, with 29% saying they watch TV and use Facebook at the same time. These…
Social marketing is maturing, but many CMOs are still not sure how to develop true relationships with customers and prospects. Insighs from these 4 consumer segments will ceratinly help them.
Also media agencies have noticed a disconnect, between consumer reach provided by paid social media and actual, quantifiable customer acquisition and return on investment. But not found a solution yet.
Maybe marketing strategists can help help, by taking the actionable insights provided by the interesting reserach of The Incyte Group?
This study, summarized in below infographic, provides unprecedented insights into 4 major consumer segments that are researching your brand online. More importantly, the best ways how CMOs can reach them, and pull them gently through their funnels.
My Opinion? The implications of the findings are not a one size fits all solution for social engagement. Rather, the research provides actionable insights into 4 consumer segments that can have a major impact on your social strategy. If you understand what motivates them. And, if you have a social strategy.
Reaching consumers by paid social media? That has never been a true insight driven solution. Certainly not to the many brands out there that have jumped into social media without any marketing insights. Reach is made up by media agencies, to quantify your media spend.
I am talking about the brands that chase the channels based on reach. But reaching consumers has never been a marketing objective and has nothing to do with social marketing or consumer motivations. Just hunting for reach in social media, is one of the biggest mistakes out there.
That’s why I feel that CMOs should go back to social marketing strategists. They are able to understand the insights, about what is really driving consumers. And why these consumers are being part of social media.
These insights might lead them towards a new social marketing strategy. Maybe even differentiated social strategies for the many brands that are targeting more than one consumer segment. Uh, almost every brand on this planet?!
Who will bring CMOs the needed solutions? They might love to hear your opinion in the comments below.
Analytics is one of those words: it gets used correctly for the most part, but often gets used as a catchall. As marketers, we understand the importance of having web analytics set up, of having an analyst on staff, and of constantly working with the data as a part of our daily practice. We spend a significant amount of time focused on site metrics and web analytics reports. We have a great sense of how our sites are performing technically, and how that backs out to money made.
But what if web analytics aren’t enough?
Over the last few months, we’ve seen the rise of an equally important piece to the puzzle — marketing analytics — and I’d like to take some time and to explain what it is and how it can help all of us be more effective marketers.
So, what is Marketing Analytics?
Marketing analytics is the measurement and optimization of your marketing activities. Rather than focusing only on your site’s performance like you do with web analytics, you focus on how your marketing efforts are performing, and adjust them accordingly. Marketing analytics goes beyond on-site indicators and leans on other tools, offsite metrics, and even offline efforts. It takes a whole-picture approach to the measurement of your marketing.
The concept seems simple — and somewhat assumed — but many marketers spend hours in web analytics tools like Google Analytics and Omniture, looking at the outcome of their efforts as it relates to site performance, but don’t go any further than that.
But what about analyzing the way you executed that campaign? What about the time of day you did things, or the vehicles you used? What about the conversations offsite, and the engagement in real life that resulted from those efforts? Marketing analytics is the act of looking past mere website results, and asking yourself, “How did that marketing campaign really go?”
Marketing analytics helps us see how everything plays off each other, and decide how we might want to invest moving forward. Re-prioritizing how you spend your time, how you build out your team, and the resources you invest in channels and efforts are critical steps to achieving marketing team success.
How do I get started with Marketing Analytics?
Like many new approaches to analytics, there is a learning curve. There will need to be some up-front explanation and defining. We wanted to break down the parts of marketing analytics and leave you with some kick-off questions to get started with.
1. How are your marketing activities performing?
This is the piece that most marketers have down pat. This is all about how are you performing right now. How are your current efforts paying off? If you focus solely on web analytics, you may find yourself focusing too narrowly on your site’s results. With marketing analytics, you’ll take a wide angle view.
Rather than simply reporting your visitor counts, time on site, and conversions, what about reporting more? What about the results that happened offsite? What about the less traditional KPI-driven results like conversations, comments, and shares? In addition to reporting more metrics, we should also be reporting them in a way that speaks to the entire team and the company at large. If you want to change how your company invests their marketing resources, you need to make a strong case for analyzing what is happening beyond your site, and to go beyond cookie cutter KPIs and report formats.
Here are a few examples of common web analytics performance KPIs (on the left) and then a contrasting list of marketing analytics KPIs (on the right). You can see how the list doesn’t just grow in size, but requires us to use many tools, compile our own reports, and work to tell a story with the data.
Marketing analytics goes beyond traditional website KPIs. We find more of the metrics we care about tend to be people-centered: how are we doing our best job for both current visitors/customers and for future ones? How are our fans, friends, and followers engaging with us? Who’s talking about our brand on other sites? We track metrics that help us use our time in the most valuable way possible, and we work to know exactly how our marketing activities are doing for us.
2. Where are your competitors investing time and resources?
Competitive analysis, you so funny. It’s one of those things that all marketers know is important, but so many of us fail to carve out dedicated time for it. Marketing analytics assumes that competitive research is an ongoing, fluid effort. It shouldn’t be something we do at the beginning of a project or when we take on a new client. It should be a constant metric we are aware of — and one we know as well as we do our own.
In addition to performance, we need to be aware of where they are putting their time. What are they testing? What are they investing in? This requires we jump out of our software and tools and become observers. Are they engaging more on certain networks? Are they pushing more money into content marketing? Are they investing heavily into channels that you may or may not be in?
This competitive layer adds color to your performance research. Now you know where you stand, where they stand, and you have a better sense of where things are going. This helps you invest in the right efforts, and possibly pull back from others.
3. How do your marketing activities perform in the long-term?
We understand the importance of knowing if we have improved week over week, and month over month, but too often we stop at that. There are so many other things to be watching closely when tracking success. How about the momentum of those gains and losses? What about the long-term quality of those gains and losses? How do those short-term wins turn into loyalty and ongoing engagement?Marketing analytics focuses more on the overall performance of our efforts, and the many ways we can single them out to improve them.
Imagine planning your marketing roadmap around yesterday’s results only, or your site’s performance only. Scary, huh? We agree. Now imagine planning a marketing roadmap around how each channel has done over time, and how your specific efforts returned across all the objectives you care about (money, engagement, loyalty, etc.) — that sounds way better. If you take the time up front to map that movement out, you will make more holistic decisions about where to invest your energy.
Here are some great additional questions to ask when working to understand how your activities are returning:
4. How does your marketing analytics data inform your next decision?
We all understand the premise that we need to invest where things are returning well. This is most commonly applied in performance marketing, but all of our marketing efforts demand the same closing of the loop. Marketing analytics can help us close the loop as it relates to our marketing efforts and investments. Instead of assuming some channels always work — or that some channels are never going to work — you should be testing where and how you spend your time, and prioritizing next quarter’s investments accordingly.
This is most easily applied when it comes to staffing and budget spend, but what about time spent on researching new tools, new processes, creating new tests, and designs? Are you giving your time to the right channels? Marketing analytics helps us get to the bottom of that, and because of it you can make your next move a fully informed one.
Common mistakes with Marketing Analytics
There are quite a few common challenges people face when trying to invest in marketing analytics. Here are a few we’ve found, and tips on how to avoid them.
Set it and forget it dilemma: We’ve all done it. You hear about this new cool analytics tool. You set it up and start collecting data, but you never quite circle back to see how things are going and what it’s telling you. Or, worse yet, we receive weekly reports sent to us but we fail to interpret the data for valuable insights. It’s the “set it and forget it” dilemma. Marketing analytics expects more. To do it well, you need to be testing both new channels and new tools to track their success — then set aside time to dive into the data. A key piece to successful marketing analytics is to be proactive and constantly pushing the limits on the process behind your decisions. It takes time. Marketers are strapped for time, but this is time well spent.
Thinking it’s a CMO’s job: A common misconception around deciding how to grow a marketing program is to think it’s solely the CMO’s job to do so. Instead, we should look at it as every marketer’s responsibility to know how their efforts are returning and what to do next. This should back out to a roadmap for your channel or job responsibilities. If you leave it to the top of the organization, you often get a very disconnected roadmap. It should be a joint conversation.
Failing to evangelize the wins and losses: One of the most common mistakes we fast-moving, highly caffeinated marketers make is failing to evangelize the results of our efforts. To make marketing analytics part of your team’s culture and place it in the forefront of your company’s mind, you need to be sharing how things are going on a regular basis. Rather than tell them you “use inbound marketing to attract community members,” you can talk about the specific campaigns, content pieces, and efforts. Show them which ones are working, and which ones need work. Ask for ideas and feedback. By getting them involved, they will be more invested in seeing it succeed.
In conclusion: you need both
While we think marketing analytics is critical for a successful marketing program, we aren’t saying it should replace your web analytics. Quite the opposite, actually. We think it’s the combination of the two that set a team up to succeed. If you spend time analyzing both your site’s performance and your efforts’ performance you will have the full picture: What is working? What needs help? What demands a pivot?
We’ve already seen more tools and resources pop up to help marketers really understand how their efforts are affecting the full picture. I think the next year will bring even more into the space. Many marketers are already looking at the big view marketing analytics provides today, albeit without dedicated tools that provide all of this functionality. For most marketers, the task is a manual one that requires multiple tools to get the full view — but it’s worth it. As marketing teams continue to grow in size, and marketers wear more and more hats, we think more people will demand mature tools that make it easy to document a game plan. Rather that navigate that landscape based solely on conversions or other secondary metrics, there will be a demand for a more holistic approach to help us understand how we are doing, and where we should be doing more.
I’m excited to see marketing analytics continue to evolve, and to see how tools develop to make it a smoother, more repeatable process — and I’m super excited to see how that can help us all be more efficient, successful marketers. I’d love to hear how you are applying this form of analysis, and what tools you use to help dictate where to invest your time and resources. Please leave comments and thoughts below!
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!
First there was Black Friday, and shoppers rushed en masse to brick-and-mortar stores for early holiday deals. Then came Cyber Monday, allowing a simple point-and-click from your desk over a cup of coffee. Now, millions of products are within your reach at all times. In fact, they’re right in your pocket.
Mobile shopping is on the rise as smart phones proliferate, and retailers are taking note, catering to a tech-savvy consumer base who wants a seamless shopping experience. Check out the infographic below to see the trends in mobile shopping.
Do you plan to shop via mobile this holiday season? Tell us in the comments.
In the Email Tracking Report 2012, the DMA asked consumers “who does email well?” and ranked results by sectors. Telco finished dead last, behind financial services, utilities and even government agencies. Compared to online retail (38% satisfaction), telco’s 8% leaves a lot of room for improvement.
The DMA’s study found “emails containing offers, discounts or vouchers continue to remain the most popular types of email.” It’s easy for online and physical retailers with large catalogs and seasonal sales to send frequent emails that get customers excited. The “big sale” of hardware and service contracts for telcos happen once every year to 3 years, and the range of cross-sellable offerings (like bundled utilities) are limited and can carry a high long-term cost for consumers.
Given these constraints, what can telecoms do to improve email marketing effectiveness?
Tips for improving telco emails
Before asking for an opt-in, be up-front about what your emails contain. Regardless of what you sell, your email campaign needs a value proposition.
Sprint excellently explains what subscribers can expect, listing Exclusive Deals first.
Sprint’s call-out to join its Facebook page for company updates is a great way to keep its email program clean. Many subscribers view company-centric emails as spam, and will unsubscribe or worse, report your messages as spam, which can hurt delivery to your entire list. Those who care can follow through social channels, or opt-in to a separate email list.
Rather than spam its entire list with Nascar Sprint Cup updates, it’s a separate opt-in.
AT&T offers a text-message option for receiving its green tips. Not every nurturing campaign needs to go through email.
Use a preference center
Preference centers are best practice for all industries, but consumers are not always aware they exist, or that they can update preferences at any time.
AT&T is the first company I’ve seen incentivize updating preferences. Not only does it improve its own program and metric by sending only messages that people want, it can stimulate new sales.
Your telecom customer may be married to your services for the near-term, but that can all change once contract is up, or a competitor introduces a device or service option you don’t have. The word “exclusive” is powerful to communicate the perks of being (and staying) your customer, even if the customer does not jump on every offer.
If the subscriber expects exclusive deals, she’ll open your emails until she finds her holy grail offer.
Surprise and delight
Telecom customers are used to surprise fee hikes and unexpected changes to plan terms. Delight customers by improving their services or activating free trials of related services. When you do, shout it out loud (and make the message social media shareable).
AT&T offers a kick-back for choosing paperless billing.
Comcast broadcasts its new increase in Internet speed.
The above example could be warmed up by using the account holder’s name rather than “Valued Customer.” But real personalization tailors messaging, content and offers based on what you know about the person.
Even if you can’t achieve that level of sophisticated personalization, segmenting by device or service type will improve relevance, open rates and conversion rates.
Would response rates have been higher if existing Blackberry Pearl owners were sent a different version of this email? Do existing Blackberry Pearl owners understand what they would be upgrading to – a new service plan or a newer device?
If you offer your own downloads or use affiliate links to platform app stores, merchandise the occasional email with top rated, most popular or newly added digital content.
Listen to the voice of the customer
A final step is to use VOC (voice of the customer) tools to understand what your customer wants from your email program, and what is not working for them in your existing one.
It’s easy for retail sites to generate excitement about products and stimulate frequent interest in purchase. It’s tougher for telco. Replicating a grocery or retail email strategy is not necessarily the way to close the experience gap for any industry. Best practices like setting expectations, allowing subscribers to manage their subscription options and offering mobile friendly content are table stakes. Sending relevant and attractive offers and updates that customers want is the holy grail.
Mobile advertising technology company InMobi has released its latest round of stats and, for the first time ever, Apple has recorded negative growth in impressions. The figures also show that almost three quarters of mobile ad impressions come from apps, compared to 28% from mobile websites.
Impressions served on Apple mobile devices fell 0.4% over the last three months, while Android saw an increase of 2.7% from the previous quarter.
The data, pulled from the InMobi network from July to September 2012, shows the changes taking place in Australia’s mobile media landscape. The unprecedented growth in tablet usage saw impressions on smartphones in general drop 4.2%, with tablets growing the equivalent amount to take their total share to almost 20%.
InMobi’s general manager and regional director, Francisco Cordero, says it’s not surprising that smartphone penetration has dipped given its aggressive growth in recent years leading to a highly-saturated market in Australia: “As we predicted when this report came out last quarter, tablets are continuing to dominate the device space, growing in popularity as smartphones decline. This is surely only set to continue with the long-awaited launch of the new iPad Mini last week.”
On Apple’s fortunes, Cordero suggests it is still a force to be reckoned with but the tide may be turning. “One possible reason for this may have been the release of the iPhone 5 with many Apple users holding off for the latest model. Our Q4 data will confirm whether this has been the case,” he says.
Rogers famously described the ways products are adopted:
On the left, geeks and nerds and people who love stuff because the new is new and edgy and changes things. All the way to the right, the laggards, the ones who want to be the last to change. And in the middle, the masses, the ones who wait for the new idea to be proven, cheap and widely adopted. Most people are in the middle, and a few are on either edge. (Note that in every area of interest, different people put themselves into different segments. You might be a shoe geek but a movie laggard).
Marketers work to change the market. And for the last thirty years, marketers have been working to turn people into geeks, into people eager to try the new. And it’s working.
There are more and more people lining up to buy the new gadget, more exploring the edges of the internet, more willing to engage in ways that were seen as too risky just a generation ago.
In addition to an ever increasing amount of media and advertising about what’s new, the products and services themselves are designed to draw us in. It used to be that a car nerd would buy a new car every year while the laggard could wait a decade quite happily before upgrading. Today, because our software connects, the upgrade cycle is built in. Like it or not, the new version (or the new TOS or the new interaction style) is about to become part of your life.
The cultural implications here are significant. We now live in a society with more people more willing to change more often. And that means your customers are restless, and more likely to walk away if you don’t treat them the way nerds want to be treated. Amaze, delight and challenge…
Marketers spend a boatload of cash each year on web and CRM analytics – roughly around $20B. That’s a lot of change.
Marketing has, as ViralBlog recently and rightfully noted, “gone from art to big data.”
Analytics rule marketing and shape marketers. Marketers gather analytics ranging from website abandon rates and CTR, to conversion rates, repeat visitors, and time on site. Increasingly they are able to automate actions based on how many times emails are opened, pages are visited, and even how many times articles are read. Combining these on-line analytics with big data is powerful.
On-line marketers are now just now getting familiar with all this data. They understand it and they are figuring out how to use it. And now, just when they were getting comfortable, here comes mobile.
Mobile is Different
An interesting ‘problem’ in the mobile space right now is that mobile marketers ‘grew up’ as online marketers. Thus, they have built in biases, habits, and traditions. Mobile marketers think like on-line marketers. They market like on-line marketers. They look at analytics like on-line marketers. And they optimize their marketing like on-line marketers.
The problem is this: mobile marketing is vastly different than on-line marketing.
It is different because, primarily, it generates calls at ridiculous levels. Consider the following:
Google says that 61% of mobile searches produce phone calls
Nielsen says that 73% of mobile searchers call a business as a result of their search
BIA/Kelsey says that mobile call volume will produce 70B new phone calls to businesses in 2015 alone.
In other words, mobile marketing – particularly mobile search – produces phone calls at historic levels.
So much for all that useful big data.
Mobile Call Analytics
Call tracking has been around for more than a decade. Most marketers understand it and use it. But call tracking still doesn’t strike at the heart of big data. It merely tells you who is calling and which ad produced the call.
That’s hardly big and it is hardly data.
New call analytics platforms are not only providing call tracking, but are also actually analyzing calls themselves – conversations, keywords, and phrases – for big data. Imagine being able to score leads and determine propensity to buy based on triggers inside a conversation. Tie that information back to demographic info, web analytics, and even automation, and the results are truly mind blowing.
3 Ways to Use Call Analytics (The New Big Data) to Improve Marketing
In the articles we write for ViralBlog we try to, not just provide big picture analysis, but rather, to provide practical use cases. To that end, we give you some specific ways to combine call analytics with what you’re already doing.
Lead Scoring– Incredible companies like Pardot, Hubspot and Marketo have mastered lead scoring in the on-line world. I’m not sure I would classify their products as ‘Big Data,’ but certainly they provide analytics tools that serve useful ends. They assign points to web leads based on things that lead does. For example: a prospect that downloads an eBook and reads 7 emails would have a higher lead score than a lead that downloads a White Paper and doesn’t open any emails.
Lead scoring with call analytics works in a similar way, except the score would be based on caller demographics, previous on-line actions, and most importantly, on the words the lead actually said during the call. For example, if an auto insurance caller said they drive a BMW and live in California, they would have a higher lead score than a lead that drives a Honda in Des Moines.
This is just an example, of course, but think about the huge number of things said on a call that could indicate if someone is a good lead or not.
And then think about the vast number of things you could do – or automate with that information.
Map Close Rates – New and sophisticated call analytics platforms, like LogMyCalls, can track close rates for specific ad channels and even individuals. You can actually generate reports that show what percentage of calls individuals are closing. Or, you can see the specific close rates for your latest banner ad, PPC ad or mobile campaign.
Automate Actions – Imagine being able to trigger marketing or CRM actions based on words actually said during a call. Imagine plugging in call analytics data with a marketing automation tool you already use. Imagine generating emails, dynamic content, lead scores, CRM triggers, remarketing, SMS marketing, or big data cloud triggers, all based on words actually said during the call.
BIA/Kelsey says that mobile marketing will contribute to a massive increase in calls businesses across the U.S. receive. The word they use is ‘deluge.’ That’s a cool sounding word.
Let me be clear: it is critical to gather analytics from calls than ever. Mobile necessitates that marketers shed their habits and traditions and move into the ‘now.’ Mobile calls are that now.
More than 70% of Pinterest’s 10 million users told BizRate that they turn to the social pinboard for shopping inspiration and to keep up with trends. There’s also better user engagement with brands on the photo-sharing website: 66% of users regularly follow and repin retailers. Only… Continue reading…
Customer service is going social. Unfortunately, it’s traveling on the slow boat to customer satisfaction.
Brands on Facebook and Twitter are all about engagement, right? Sometimes it seems as if the answer is only yes when engagement means brands talk and consumers listen. Particularly in the automotive industry, where only 26 percent of customer queries get answered.
Socialbakers, the social analytics company, measured companies’ responsiveness across nine different industries to arrive at what it calls “social devotion:” using social media effectively to improve customer satisfaction — and ROI.
The results are not great.
Less than 50 percent of customer questions asked on Facebook pages were actually answered across all industries during the July-September time frame. That includes alcohol companies at 30.8 percent, electronics brands just a bit higher at 34.2 percent, and, of course, the aforementioned automotive companies, which manage to answer just a hair more than a quarter of their customer inquiries.
But at least the recent stats are better than earlier in 2012. From March-May, brands across all industries answered only 30 percent of social media customer questions. So Socialbakers found a 60 percent improvement.
We’re all increasingly inundated with information about mobile-first design, and one only has to review global subscriber statistics or marvel at the natural dexterity children have with devices to understand “mobile-first” will soon be obsolete, as all communications and digital interactions are becoming inherently mobilized.
What’s surprising is that the IAB discovered that nearly half of all Fortune 500 corporate websites are still not optimized for mobile. While it may appear obvious that mobile is the first screen we need to design for, there are always those organizations that are slower on the uptake. Before we think about mobile-first design, we must pursue a mobile-first culture.
Our first instinct for mobile-first design tells us to understand the business challenge we’re trying to solve — how a particular program will add value to our customers, and why a particular solution should be oriented for mobile versus PC. One can view mobile across the consumer lifecycle and reasonably port mobile solutions to drive awareness, close a purchase, drive effective usage, and even activate the fan base.
While focusing on your business strategy and customer needs is a good place to start from, there are other ways to develop a mobile-first culture that socializes these capabilities throughout the broader organization. Here are five ways to improve your strategy.
Re-evaluate old tendencies
Many organizations are resting on old tendencies such as building bloated, stand-alone websites, rather than developing useful content and delivering it across a variety of platforms simultaneously. With the proliferation of digital touchpoints, it’s more important than ever to re-examine how we’re delivering value based on prevailing consumer behavior.
Because mobile is increasingly becoming the domain of cross-functional teams, many organizations need a steering committee that sets the organizational vision for mobile, prioritizes projects, assesses partnerships, and establishes KPIs. Media mix modeling can provide tighter attribution to understand which investments drive the best ROI in mobile and other digital and traditional channels.
Sometimes it’s best to concentrate on just a few well-executed strategies. A laser focus on fundamentals would start with foundational activities such as mobile site development and SMS, while creating roadmaps for apps that offer the most utility to end users.
The mobile web and the mobile apps space need to coexist, as one offers greater reach, where the other offers greater functionality. As more people start their Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) search with a mobile device, it’s increasingly important to be found via mobile search, as we can usually spend less for a higher CTR.
Along with creating foundational standards, it’s important to make a few educated guesses based on consumer insights and then develop a test-and-learn roadmap. Look for untested but high reward projects, in addition to safer bets, and evaluate opportunities based on strategic impact, consumer need, and the organization’s ability to execute.
This approach is very similar to Coke’s 70/20/10 rule — lay foundations, innovate on top of what works, and invest in new ideas and approaches.
While it’s possible to survive on driving parity through executional excellence, a perpetual beta culture is instrumental to stay relevant in emerging technologies and to derive insights within the emerging markets where business growth is increasingly coming from.
Share early and often
In most companies today, with digital becoming so ingrained in all aspects of the business, there is a groundswell of training programs, with mobile becoming a core competency for digital teams and eventually the organization as a whole.
With so much more to learn, it’s critical to develop a culture of sharing best practices and tapping into expertise that exists in various functional areas and around the world. It’s one thing to share best practices post-launch, but in this rapid prototype world we live in, we must develop systems to share best practices in real-time, so others can gain immediate takeaways.
It’s also important to look beyond your category to gain outside perspectives, and to leverage partnerships that can enable learning, testing, and scale. There are great resources out there to explore.
I would love to learn more about how others are working toward a mobile-first culture. Please share in the comments field below.
Another day, another social media redesign. Following hot on the heels of a redesign of its company pages, professional social network LinkedIn has rolled out a new layout for profile pages.
The revamp is aimed at helping professionals tell the story of their career path more clearly, highlighting skills and accomplishments, making it easier to discover people and opportunities and facilitating greater engagement between contacts.
One of the new features in particular – “rich and visual insights on the people and companies in your network” – appears geared towards taking business stalking to the next level. The tool will show the people and companies in your network in a visualisation and make it easier to surface people connected to these networks.
Recent activity from members of your network will also now be displayed at the top of the profile, allowing you to stay current with what your network has been sharing and doing.
Over the next few months, all LinkedIn members will start to see their profiles in the new look and feel. To be one of the first to get the new profile, you can sign up at http://linkd.in/TrvxEs.
You’ve heard the overused phrase “content is king.” But what does that mean, really?
Search, social, and strategy
It started when relevant, fresh content became a key factor for search engine optimization, which plays a huge role in positioning your company as an industry resource and expert. Then social media emerged as a viable channel, increasing the need to push consistent communication to your (hopefully) engaged community.
Search and social initiatives are a necessity. You have to be seen and heard by your potential and current customers. If you aren’t driving your brand or company to compete with the thought leaders or become one yourself, you will be obsolete in the marketplace. After all, if you aren’t talking to your customers, you can be sure someone else is.
What are the thought leaders practicing? Content marketing.
Content marketing and PB&J
So what exactly is content marketing? Entrepreneur Magazine’s concise definition is “the creation and publication of original content — including blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos, and photos — for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand’s visibility, and putting the company’s subject matter expertise on display.”
It is the way brands gain trust, credibility, and ultimate loyalty from customers by communicating messages that represent something they care and want to know more about.
One online expert recently described content marketing by using the symbolism of my favorite childhood sandwich: PB&J. (Stick with this, it’s good.) Imagine that search and social are peanut butter and jelly and content is the bread that holds it all together. So the content, the foundation of the strategy, must be something customers deem valuable, want to consume, and then want to pass on to family, friends, and anyone in their social or offline network.
There is no “I” in content
Now, with the internet becoming increasingly personalized in our multi-polarized world, content marketing is more important than ever. Budgets are increasing to develop deeper, thought-provoking messaging and strategy (evolving from “look at us” and “wow, our products and services are fantastic,” to a storytelling technique that taps into the customer experience).
So how do you go from, “What’s in it for us?” to “What’s in it for our audience?” Simply tell a story and stop talking about yourself. (Sales reps, gasp here. Remember, there is no “I” in content marketing — well there is, but it’s a little guy.)
Stop informing, start storytelling
How do you do content marketing and storytelling well? Tell a story that is personable, approachable, tangible, and memorable.
For example, every year The Hartford sponsors the Paralympics, and just last year the company decided to tell a story. It launched a media and video campaign on Facebook, highlighting the athletes themselves. The result was a successful and emotional story connecting with people on an individual and personal level.
Customers are not looking to read your blog or microsite to see what you sell; they can view that in a catalog or on the products and services tab on your site. They are interested in what you know and what you stand for. It’s time to start communicating as a trusted and relevant source and not as a sales script. Storytelling is the new content marketing.
See where your expertise and your customers’ interests overlap to tap into your niche. Tell a unique story, and communicate in a way that the competition can’t touch.
We have all heard it said many times: “Content is king.” In general, this statement is true, but it needs some qualification. This column looks at the role of Query Deserves Diversity and how it impacts your content strategy.
All that stuff you’re publishing … all those blog posts and videos and podcasts and white papers … it’s not getting you anywhere, is it?
You thought it would. People told you to get busy online, to say what you think, to publish lots of content, because if you do, people will find you and love you and support you and everything will be perfect, forever and ever and ever.
That you have to connect with readers before you start teaching them
What? Nobody told you that?
Bummer. Because really, those are three of the most important things you need to know about creating content that works online.
Might as well talk about it now and get it out of the way.
Here we go:
Your readers are self-absorbed little punks
They don’t mean to be, but they are.
They’re busy and stressed and searching the web for ways to just escape. They don’t want to learn anything when they’re in escape mode. They just want to feel something other than boredom or fear or inadequacy.
So all that content you created to teach them something?
Yeah, they look at it for a few seconds, discover it requires actual thought (the horror!), and start hunting for the Back button.
That affiliate review for the supercool product you really do believe in and would happily sell without a commission?
Eww. You’re just another one of those evil con artists trying to scam them out of their money.
I know, it’s not fair. You deserve better.
But it’s the truth.
The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can get past it. Because hiding underneath all that self-absorbed punkishness is a person who desperately needs you and will love you until the day they die — if you can actually help them.
And you can help them. You just have to know how to grab their attention first. So let’s talk about that.
Don’t be boring
That’s a really important point, so let me say it again in all capital letters:
It’s Rule #1. Violate it, and you don’t pass Go, don’t collect $200, proceed directly to jail and rot there for eternity.
Is that an exaggeration?
Is it graphic?
Sure, maybe a little.
Could I have found a more polite and still accurate way to say it?
But it doesn’t matter. Here’s why:
IT’S NOT FREAKING BORING.
You can make almost any mistake, and people will forgive you if you’re interesting. Yes, you’ll get the occasional member of The Righteous Minority for Moral Authority who hates everyone and everything, but you can safely ignore those folks.
Everyone else will thank you for keeping them awake.
Is offending people the only way to be interesting?
It’s just one way, among many. You can find a whole collection of ways here.
Personally, I find hyperbole and brutal honesty to be an effective way of reaching people. If you don’t believe me, watch pretty much any comedian.
But it’s not a requirement by any means.
Here at Copyblogger, the majority of the popular posts aren’t offensive at all. (Just mine.
) Scroll through that list at your right and you’ll see that virtually all the most popular posts cover topics our readers are totally obsessed with. (Topics like creativity and grammar and writing tips.) Posts on those topics have a big head start on becoming popular.
The most important word in the above paragraph: Obsessed.
If you want people to give a rat’s fart about your content, first you have to understand their obsessions.
That’s the secret.
But it’s also the thing most bloggers suck at more than anything else. Yes, that includes you.
To prove it to you, here’s a little experiment:
The crybaby experiment
You know those crybabies who whine all the time and drain you of all your energy and make you lose all faith in the human race?
You probably know several. All of us do.
Well, here’s the experiment:
The next time they’re whining at you, force yourself to NOT react.
Don’t judge them. Don’t think about what they’re saying. Don’t fantasize about punching them in the face. (I know you’re tempted.)
Instead, listen very closely, and then reply like this:
You mean (insert paraphrase of their complaint)?
If you do it correctly, they’ll say, “Yes! Exactly!” Any other response, and you fail the experiment.
So for example:
Crybaby: I’m writing all this stuff, but nobody is commenting, nobody is tweeting, nobody is linking to me. I’m doing everything it tells me to do, but none of it is working, and I just can’t figure out why!
Well, here’s how the experiment applies to creating awesome content …
The secret to grabbing anyone’s attention
Listen to your audience’s complaints, and then repeat the complaints back to them in a pithy way that proves you understand them perfectly.
No stories. (Yet.) No trying to fix their problems. (Yet.) No input from you whatsoever.
Just pure empathy … at least in the beginning.
As you master this technique, you can eventually weave it into stories and advice and opinion without anyone realizing what you’re doing. But for now, just transform yourself into a slightly more clever version of a talking parrot. Nothing more.
If you do it right, and you get the “Yes! Exactly!” response, you’ll have an instant connection with the person. They’ll be tuned into you like nobody’s business. Here’s why:
We’re all searching for someone who “gets” us. If we happen to come across one of these precious people, we pay more attention to them than anyone else in our lives.
Unfortunately, the reverse is also true.
If people don’t feel like you “get” them, they don’t care what you think. It doesn’t matter how brilliant, eloquent, or hard-working you are. Even a great headline won’t save you. They’re not listening.
So prove it. Prove you understand them better than they even understand themselves.
And thenteach them, persuade them, entice them, or whatever you want to do.
How to create content people love
It’s simple, really:
Talk about stuff they’re obsessed about.
Notice I didn’t say “interested in.” If you want your audience to swoon at your content and immediately begin making up little love poems about you, being merely interesting is no longer enough.
Connect yourself to their existing obsessions. Using your superduper empathy skills developed in the last exercise, make a list of the things your audience is obsessed about. Then resolve to write about nothing else.
Do that, and you won’t have to fight for attention.
About the Author: In addition to serving as Associate Editor of Copyblogger, Jon Morrow is on a mission to help good writers get traffic they deserve. If you’re one of them, check out his blog about (surprise!) blogging.
Is it best to share on Tuesday or Thursday? Does it matter if your tweet is 15 words or 25? And does using a question mark really reduce your chances of viral growth?
Content marketing company Compendium ran a study with more than 200 companies, checking on how social media marketers can get optimum engagement in business-to-business and business-to-consumer conversations. The study looked at factors such as word count, punctuation, time of posting, and day of the week of posting to determine success factors.
It turns out that who you’re marketing to makes a massive difference.
For instance, if you’re talking to consumers, Monday and Wednesday are best on Twitter, and LinkedIn is better on Monday. But if your company is marketing to other businesses, post to LinkedIn on Sunday, and to Twitter on Wednesday. And while hashtags are great for consumer-focused posts, they really don’t work at all for B2B marketers.
The one great commonality?
Question marks significantly reduce clickthrough on posts aimed at both consumers and business clients. Posts with question marks get between 25 and 52 percent fewer clicks than other posts.
The rich are just like the rest of us—they’re spending more and more time glued to their screens, according to Ipsos Media CT’s 2012 Mendelsohn Affluent Survey. Affluents’ time online rose 14 percent in 2012 from 2011, as people spent more time doing things like social networking, shopping, using apps and playing games. The rich still do most of their communicating in person—averaging 13.6 hours per week—but that’s declining as their use of electronic platforms becomes more widespread and time-consuming. Sixty-three percent of affluents connect on Facebook in a typical week, averaging 4.7 hours for the period. Twelve percent are on Twitter, averaging 6.8 hours, and 18 percent use LinkedIn, averaging 1.4 hours.
Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Put psychological pressure on your customer to convert now instead of checking out competitors, sleeping on the decision or letting the sale event expire. Do it with “BUY NOW” labels, quantity in-stock countdowns or suggest the sale price might not be around tomorrow.
It’s actually sound advice that is expected to convert like crazy for some websites. But it doesn’t work for every site.
WineExpress tested an urgent call to action “order in the next [remaining time] and get $0.99 shipping” during a 24-hour shipping promotion event.
The result was a 7% decrease in conversion rate for the version with the shipping offer.
The marketing insight is, the wine connaisseur is not a deal-hunter. She is less likely to respond well to aggressive sales incentives.
A follow up test confirmed this belief. WiderFunnel tested a larger call-to-action window with “on sale now” messaging.
The result was a 5% conversion rate lift, and 41% higher revenue per visitor for the original page, without the sale messaging.
For this business, perhaps testing an incentive of a wine connaisseur gift, such as a wine-saver or bottle opener combined with an urgency message would have outperformed the control. (An idea to test, not to implement just because it sounds like it could work.)
3. Follow web conventions
Peruse through the Internet Retailer Top 500 List and 99.9% or higher will present the add to cart button on the right hand side. It’s one of the most entrenched web design conventions we have in the Western world.
Baby Age flipped image and call to action, placing the CTA on the left, which lead to a 16% boost in conversion rate.
Don’t be afraid to challenge conventional design!
3. Over-communicate security
Everyone’s scared to shop online, right? You’ve gotta remind folks you’re a secure site, yeah?
Using a security badge has helped improve conversion on countless sites, especially when proximal to the entry fields for financial information. We’ve even published 2 cases where conversion rate improved 4-6%.
But this isn’t a universal rule.
In this test by WiderFunnel, the version without the security seal won the test.
It really depends on the site.
Sometimes reminding folks about the risk of shopping online arouses FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).
The point of this post is not to say best practice doesn’t matter. Rather, take “best practice” advice under advisement, and put it to the (A/B) test on your site to see if it’s best practice for your industry, geography, customers, product and site context.