Selena Blue

Email Marketing: 4 steps to optimize a mobile experience for better conversion

April 15th, 2014

Mobile is big, but just how big is it?

Justine Jordan, Marketing Director, Litmus, posed that question during her Industry Perspective session, “Email Design: How to optimize for all environments in a mobile world,” at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014.

mobile-demographics-chart

 

Almost half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, according to Litmus research. That’s definitely big – especially since it was just three years ago that Litmus found only 10% of emails were opened on mobile.

So what can we do to capitalize on this drastic shift?

Justine said we need to re-examine the subscriber experience from the mobile user’s perspective. While she covered the whole path, we’ll hit on four of the steps subscribers experience.

 mobile-conversion-path

 

Step #1. Don’t ignore pre-header text

Many inboxes are formatted so that users can see not only the subject line, but also a line of additional text in the email. This text is pulled from the first bit of text at the top of your email. However, you can hide this text and still have it show in the pre-header area if you wish.

The default text for most templates is not very valuable messaging. She showed these examples of dos and don’ts to the Summit audience:

mobile-preheader-examples

 

“My challenge to you is, is this a positive brand experience? Is this really what you want people to associate with your ‘From’ name and subject line? Go back and re-evaluate your pre-header text – it’s showing up in mobile inboxes everywhere,” Justine advised.

She suggested making your pre-header “tie into the subject line, bringing [readers] in and encouraging the click.”

The pre-header is another opportunity to infuse value into your email – don’t let it go to waste. iPhones cut your subject lines off at about 35 characters.

 

Step #2. Embrace scrolling in an opened email

mobile-email-comparison

 

This is the same email but it looks completely different. Why?

“It’s because not every smartphone or mobile device is going to support HTML and CSS or even display the email in similar way,” Justine said.

Plus, Android devices vary in what they do and don’t support, so they can be challenging to work with. Some scale the email, some cut off the right side of an email and some support responsive design. Justine said iPhones are a little friendlier, scaling to a 320-pixel width.

But with scaling comes other issues to keep in mind: text and images resize as well.

Justine hit on another key aspect of the user’s experience after opening an email on your email: scrolling.

“Scrolling is a really natural behavior on any mobile device,” she said. “Clicking, or tapping, represents a decision. It’s a point of friction that people are going to either have to embrace or move past.”

mobile-site-clicksIn an email like the one to the right, you don’t know where you’ll be tapping. Where will your finger land with so many small choices? You need to make the user experience more friendly in emails. You don’t need to compact as many options as possible “above the fold.” There is no fold on your iPhone.

“Embrace the scroll; people are inherently going to scroll on mobile devices,” Justine said.

 

Step #3. Recognize a finger is the new mouse

On mobile devices, people are not clicking. Instead, they’re tapping, rendering your “Click Here” call-to-action illogical. There is no mouse to click on a smartphone – only a finger, or stylus, to tap.

“’Click Here’ is a really crappy call-to-action anyway. You need to add a lot value, make sure the buttons are topical, and tell people what they’re going to get when they click or tap on your emails,” Justine said.

The “tap” experience is more than the text of your buttons and calls-to-action. It’s also about the area or location you want to physically tap.

Justine said, “You no longer have a one by one [pixel] target area. It’s more like a 40 by 40 target area.”

A finger requires more tapping space than a mouse needs clicking space. Make sure they can actually tap on that valuable CTA you crafted.

 

Step #4. Don’t stop at the email – optimize the entire path to purchase

“You can spend all day long optimizing your mobile emails to make sure they look really beautiful on all these devices and the whole thing could fall apart once they get past the email and hit your webpage,” Justine said. “I know that’s a challenge for a lot of us. In my team we’re really small, but still someone else controls the landing pages.”

Do your best to sync those two worlds together.

That means your landing page should allow people to convert – literally. On this Victoria’s Secret page, Justine could not buy the item in her cart.

victorias-secret-popup

She could not get the pop-up to disappear no matter how many times she tapped the “X” or zoomed in on the box. With the pop-up fixed on the page, she could not finish her purchase.

For B2B companies, make sure people can read and fill out your forms. 

mobile-form-example

 

“Make it easy. Don’t create more friction than you have to,” Justine advised.

After all, you successfully moved subscribers past the first five steps to conversion – you don’t want to fail here in the final step.

 

Interested in learning more about mobile email marketing? Watch Justine speak on the Responsive Design Panel at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014 in this free on-demand video replay.

 

You may also like

Optimizing the Evolving Landscape of Mobile Email Marketing [Email Summit session video presentation]

Marketing Research Chart: Which mobile tactics are most effective? [Marketing Chart of the Week]

Mobile Marketing: 5 takeaways from MarketingSherpa case studies [More from the blogs]

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John Tackett

Social Media: How to turn customers into brand advocates

April 11th, 2014

For many marketers, user-generated content is the upcycling opportunity of a lifetime. It’s free content created by customers turned brand advocates with a margin of credibility money can’t buy.

Sadly, this content often goes to waste in marketing, or worse, unnoticed altogether.

The challenge, however, for savvy marketers like Evin Catlett, Digital Marketing Manager, Amer Sports, often rests in finding strategic ways to repurpose content effectively.

In a recent MarketingSherpa webinar, Evin explained how Amer Sports was launching its first U.S. Instagram campaign in support of a new product. According to Evin, the launch would also focus on the overall goal of increasing social media engagement with U.S. consumers.

“We didn’t have a ton of reach,” Evin explained, “And while we did have really strong engagement, it was with a very small community.” 

social-media-engagement

 

Before Evin began, she realized one important element to the campaign was the need to inspire social media interaction with customers.

invitation-to-inspire

 

To help accomplish this, the team brought in key brand athletes to have a fairly robust part in interacting on social media with the product, and invited the social media community to do the same.

suunto-ambitions-instagram

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David Kirkpatrick

Social Media Marketing: Adding Reddit to the mix

April 8th, 2014

Social media is almost certainly a part of your marketing mix by this point. Facebook and Twitter are the two overall leaders, and B2B marketers are probably at least looking into how to leverage LinkedIn. Then, there are a host of additional social media platforms such as StumbleUpon, SlideShare, Pinterest, Vine, Quora and many others.

One platform that probably isn’t on most marketers’ radars is Reddit. Marketing tactics on Reddit are not readily obvious, and the platform’s users are not there to be marketed to and don’t welcome any interaction that feels like marketing.

Should you consider Reddit in your social media strategy? If so, how should you approach the platform?

To answer these questions, we reached out to two experts in marketing on Reddit: Brent Csutoras, Social Media Strategist, Kairay Media; and Greg Finn, Internet Marketer, Cypress North.

Here is the result of that discussion.

 

MarketingSherpa: It sounds like a key challenge to marketing on Reddit is the platform’s policies toward that activity. Briefly cover what marketers should know and understand about these policies.

Brent Csutoras: It is very important to first understand that Reddit is not a single community, but rather a platform to either join existing communities or to create your own communities. Each community is made by a Redditor who then can add moderators and who makes the rules for which everyone in the community must follow. It is super important before trying to submit any content to Reddit to understand the moderators and the rules for each Subreddit you intend to submit your content to.

For instance, some Subreddits will not allow certain domains to be submitted to their community, some like “TodayILearned” require content to be at least two months old, and some like “/worldnews” do not allow news about the U.S.

As to the challenge of marketing to an audience who is by nature against the concept of marketing, it definitely takes someone with a long-term goal and general interest in Reddit to balance the line between being a valuable member of the community, while at the same time, trying to submit your own content.

Greg Finn: The biggest question to ask when participating in Reddit is: Are you contributing? That’s essentially what you should be asking yourself before beginning any type of “marketing.” One of the lines in Reddit’s User Agreement is:

“Cluttering Reddit with junk or spam reduces the quality of the Reddit experience.”

Make sure that you are going into the site with the mindset of increasing the quality of content shared. Also, while not blatantly obvious in the user agreement, you should not be too promotional with your content. Reddit moderators will swiftly ban users that only submitting their own content or commenting with their own links. Treat it like a forum and build credibility in a specific Subreddit, add to the community, then start marketing.

 

MS: Beyond the key challenge addressed above, what are some of the unique marketing challenges (and potential advantages) faced when marketing on Reddit over other social media platforms and other digital marketing channels such as email and paid search?

BC: I mentioned earlier, how individuals really need to make sure they understand the rules of each Subreddit they are submitting to in order to have any real chance at long term success.

Another challenge that people might now understand is that Reddit has a lot of anti-spam elements at play on the site. New users to a Subreddit, and in some cases, new domains, can find themselves being auto-filtered or even silent-filtered, where their submissions might show as submitted to them, but are actually hidden from all other users until it becomes approved by a moderator.

Lastly, it is really important to understand Reddits’ voting algorithm, which, to put it simply, values the combination of the first 10 votes the same as the following combination of the next 100 votes, and then 1000 votes, and so on. This means that what happens during the first 10 votes of your submission are super important. Choosing the right Subreddit, knowing what type of content the moderators support, and selecting the best title when submitting are key to making sure your first couple votes are positive.

GF: The biggest challenge is undoubtedly the volatility of the community. There are dozens of unwritten rules that exist and can kill your promotion on arrival if you don’t follow along. If using images, submit with Imgur. Videos? Use YouTube. Follow along with the community, learn the inner workings before giving it a try.

One of the biggest challenges is the sheer competitiveness of Reddit these days. You need quality content, a killer title and a dash of luck to strike it big.

 

MS: What are some actionable tactics or tips for marketers looking to add Reddit to their digital marketing mix?

BC: Start by identifying the Subreddits you really want to participate and submit to, followed by learning what works in the Subreddit, both from the community’s acceptance and support, and from what the moderators are going to approve and support. Make sure to fully understand the rules of the Subreddit prior to submitting any content.

Never submit something that doesn’t fit into a Subreddit. It will almost always get removed, which can result in you having filters applied to your submissions and possible having your account silent banned.

You simply do not win on Reddit with brute force.

Lastly, you have to be a Reddit user first and foremost, to really understand how to be an effective marketer within Reddit.

GF: Far and away, the most valuable tactic is to go niche. Every marketer is looking for the homerun, but you can easily hit .400 while driving the right mix of targeted traffic to your site. Reddit has individual sections called Subreddits that are niche communities around a specific topic. These Subreddits have the most potential as you can get your content in front of a (smaller) group of highly targeted users.

Local business? Look for a local Subreddit near you and scope the scene.

Got a book about parenting? Head to r/parenting.

Manufacture crockpots? Try /r/slowcooking.

There is a Subreddit for everything. Seriously, take a look. Jump into a community that fits your niche and start participating. The numbers won’t be overwhelming, but the quality will.

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Laura Harkness

E-commerce: 3 test ideas to optimize the customer shopping experience

April 4th, 2014

Last weekend, I was able to see the dichotomy between gathering valuable customer information and risking customer conversion play out before my very eyes.

I had roamed into a local Sears department store on a Sunday afternoon when I came across just the type of skirt I had been coveting.

Better yet, in my favorite color – and wait, 50% off?!

My motivation to have that skirt was high. As I sailed to the checkout line in the women’s apparel section, my shopper’s high began to dissipate as I observed an alarmingly long line. Although I wasn’t in a particular hurry, I promptly determined my time might be better spent searching for a shorter line in a different department.

As I walked swiftly past the stainless steel refrigerators and lawn mowers, I reluctantly joined a slightly less daunting checkout in the men’s department. As I waited patiently, I began to realize why my fellow bargain-hunters and I were not moving along as swiftly as one might project:

And can I have your ZIP code, please? And what is your phone number? And your email address? Yes, ma’am, an email address. And would you like to use your customer rewards today? Do you have any coupons? Would you like to sign up and save 20% today? It will just take a minute; we just need your driver’s license.

I continued to hear this same barrage of questioning to each and every individual ahead of me, young and old.

Many of the elderly shoppers appeared visibly anxious after the request for an email address, resulting in further delay while the cashier clarified what it was for.

“I thought I could just nip in and out of here!” groaned the lady behind me. “I’m putting these shoes back, I don’t need them that badly and my husband is waiting in the car.”

Another shopper in front of me commented, “I hear them asking about coupons, was there one in the paper today? Maybe I should come back later.”

As I watched these shoppers abandon their quest, I wondered if the benefit to gathering all of this wonderful personal information comes at too high of a cost. How does this same experience play out online?

 

How to transfer discoveries from brick-and-mortar peers to your website

Clearly, there are some important distinctions to be drawn between brick-and-mortar shopping experiences versus shopping online from the comfort of your couch.

However, visualizing how a website would play out in a physical store may help digital marketers develop their strategy for a more optimal experience for their visitors and spark testing ideas.

 

Idea #1. Test a guest option to speed up checkout

Providing a customer with the option to check out as a guest and forgo establishing a username, password and other non-vital fields may be advantageous to accommodate a visitor seeking to make a speedy transaction.

Research from Toluna found 25.6% of online consumers would abandon a purchase if they were forced to register first.

walmart-checkout-register

 

Idea #2. Cut out email overlays on the homepage

Would we have an employee posted at the entrance to a store requesting an email address before they can come in and shop?

Many of you savvy marketers are hopefully shaking your head. Of course not. I just want to come in and browse; why do you need my email address? However, many popular companies continue to greet visitors in this manner.

levis-sign-up-email

 

Idea #3. Coupon code boxes may be a conversion killer

When the shopper ahead of me at Sears heard there were coupons available, she quickly made the decision that her perceived value of the item no longer matched its cost without first hunting down that elusive coupon.

Many websites use coupon code boxes, but what is the effect of the field on conversion?

I imagine there are many customers like me who will halt at the sign of a coupon box and leave the page to commence a separate coupon search first.

If there’s a chance to save money floating around out there, I want to find it before I buy something for full price.

This begs the question: If customers can’t find that coupon, do they return to complete their purchase?

Perhaps it would be worth testing a coupon field that is de-emphasized to help deter the visitor from leaving before they complete the checkout process.

trade-in-promotion

 

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David Kirkpatrick

Content Marketing: Come in with an idea, leave with a blog post

April 1st, 2014

Two previous MarketingSherpa Blog posts, “Content Marketing: Interviewing internal resources,” and “Content Marketing: Making use of internal resources,” covered meeting the challenge of infusing the knowledge of your internal experts into your content marketing strategy.

Marketers, particularly in the B2B sphere, are regularly told that there is a wealth of great insight and knowledge to be mined for content within the enterprise walls. The challenge is turning that knowledge into content that can be shared.

The first post in this series looked at the popular tactic of interviewing those internal experts and turning the interview material into blog posts, e-books, podcasts and more. The second post in the series offered lists of tips and ideas from three content marketing sources.

Today’s post provides three interesting approaches to take in meeting this content marketing goal:

  • Thinking like a publisher and developing an editorial process
  • Gaining buy-in at the highest levels to improve the process
  • Implementing an interesting tactic dubbed the “blog closet” can provide a wealth of internal expertise for sharing

Kari Rippetoe, Content Marketing Manager, Marketing Mojo, explained how her team takes a publishing approach to content marketing with an editorial process:

We rely heavily on internal resources to create our content!

I’m the content marketing manager for a digital marketing agency, and we create a variety of content including blog posts, webinars, infographics and guides.

Our staff has expertise in a lot of different areas of digital marketing, and we want to showcase that expertise through our content. In fact, content creation is a big part of our culture here. So, almost the entire staff contributes regular blog posts and periodically present webinars.

When I first joined the company, there was an “editorial” calendar of sorts in place for the blog. In fact, the only real purpose it served was to assign blog post deadlines to each writer. This was done without any real interaction with or input from the writers. In addition, writers would run up against their deadlines with no idea about what they were going to write – resulting in last-minute scrambling to get something written.

So, I implemented the following:

  • Regular editorial meetings with the writers to determine topics in advance, so they have more time to think about what they want to write.
  • True editorial calendar tracking not only due dates, but topics, keywords and special holidays/events to keep in mind.
  • Editorial review process to ensure quality of content.

We’ve seen dramatic improvements in the efficiency of content creation on our blog because of these process changes. There is a lot less stress on the writer and me, as the editor of the blog, to get the content written, reviewed, published and distributed.

 

Brandon Gerson, President of Business Development, Mak & Ger, provided an agency perspective on the importance of making internal content a process that begins from the top down:

This is a challenge that our agency faces on a regular basis while trying to create content for our clients.

Interviews work well, but it is best when they can create their own content.

The challenge is that we are trying to do our job, which requires their help, but they have their own job to do, and thus, by working with us, they are not getting their work done.

Here is the best way we have been able to remedy this …

Take a top-down approach and work with the CMO to make an organizational commitment to generating content.

This helps each department allocate a certain amount of time and employees towards generating content. Ideally, this can be a team effort that can occur on a Friday, when productivity levels are low anyway. A few members of a department can get together and share ideas and turn it into bullet points. We then have a dedicated person email these bullet points to our agency partner, who then works to turn their bullet points into blog posts.

We position this as not only a way to help us create content for their marketing, but also as a camaraderie, brainstorming, team building time where new ideas can formulate.

It can be a hard sell initially, but when it works well, it adds a lot of value to all involved.

We have been able to get one client to commit to this approach with their sales team and it has produced some great content that has helped all of their closing rates. In addition to blog posts, we have been able to create white papers, numbered lists, e-books and other assets that they now use to nurture their prospects further down the funnel and it has worked well for the entire organization.

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Daniel Burstein

Why You Should Thank Your Competitors

March 28th, 2014

I was at a conference recently and had a very surprising conversation with the person I was sitting next to at lunch.

His company had no competition – and he said it was a bad thing!

 

What happens when you have no competition?

Having worked with a competitive sales office (the team responsible for generating a report explaining why every deal was won or lost) at a previous job, I gained a visceral dislike for the competition.

Much like in sports, we always like to root for the home team and against the rivals even when it doesn’t necessarily make sense.

As a Florida resident, my tax dollars equally flow to the University of Florida and Florida State University. But as an alumnus of UF, it’s hard to cheer for FSU even when the team wins a national championship.

My point is: Competition seems rooted in human nature.

I was surprised when my fellow conference attendee expressed that it was a real challenge not to have competition. Since there was no one else delivering his service, potential customers didn’t view it as category they should consider.

Also, potential customers couldn’t really get competitive bids or issue proposal requests (RFPs).

 

(Another) theory of relativity

There may be another factor at play here. Dan Ariely, who spoke at MarketingSherpa Email Summit, said, “We like to make decisions based on comparisons.”

In his book, Predictably Irrational, Dan gives an example in which if you were shopping for a house and had three choices:

  • A contemporary
  • A colonial
  • A colonial that needs a new roof, but the owner will knock the cost of the roof of the home’s price

According to Dan, people will go with the colonial with the good roof. The contemporary suffers from a lack of competition.

Or, as Dan puts it, “We don’t know much about the contemporary – we don’t have another house to compare it with – so that house goes on the sidelines. But we do know that one of the colonials is better than the other one.”

Decision-making is complex. When we’re making decisions, we usually don’t understand all of the factors that go into it. Yet, we want to feel that we’ve made a logical decision, so we look to the information we have at hand to reassure ourselves.

 

How can we use this information as a marketer?

Some marketers try to avoid the competition and never mention them, especially if they are the market leader. Marketing tradition says that Coke never mentions Pepsi.

However, perhaps you should tell customers more about the competition. You should help them make the best choice between you and the competition and provide them with something to compare your company to.

 

Help your customers make a choice

For example, KAYAK does this with travel pricing:

kayak-comparative-pricing

 

Progressive Insurance very famously does this as well: 

progressive-comparative-pricing

 

This may seem counterintuitive, so think about the brick-and-mortar world for just a moment. Many businesses tend to flock to the same location as their competitors, such as the famed Diamond District in New York City or even car dealership row in almost every city in the U.S.

Customers want choice. They want to make a logical decision and consider their options, or feel like they did at least. Help by giving them options, even when those options come from your competitors.

 

Make sure customers experience a proper comparison

Showing competitive trade-offs is easier in some industries than others. After all, sometimes customers don’t understand what other choices they should compare you product to.

For example, it was rumored that marketers at Best Buy were sad to see Circuit City go out of business. Sure, they dogged competitors. But without Circuit City, would customers now compare Best Buy directly with Amazon.com? While Amazon’s prices are cheaper, is the service the same as a brick-and-mortar store?

The Rodon Group, an American manufacturer of high-volume plastic injection molded parts, faced this challenge. When companies thought of cheap sourcing for small components, they thought of China.

The Rodon Group wanted to change potential customers’ frame of reference and show that it was, in fact, also a low-cost supplier even though it was an American company. The company’s “Cheaper than China” campaign increased sales 33%.

You don’t determine the competition. Your customers do.

But you can help frame customers’ decisions by showing why your product should be compared to another offering.

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David Kirkpatrick

Content Marketing: Tips from your peers on making use of internal resources

March 25th, 2014

A recent MarketingSherpa Blog post, “Content Marketing: Interviewing internal resources,” covered one technique for including internal resources in your content marketing. Today’s post features sources who each an array of quick-hit tips on the topic.

Content marketing is major piece of any digital marketing strategy, particularly for B2B marketers. This content – in the form of blog posts, white papers, e-books, infographics, videos, podcasts and more – can be created by the marketing team and can also come from third-party experts.

Utilizing the knowledge of experts, such as developers or engineers, within the enterprise is another resource for content marketing. The challenge is taking advantage of those internal resources.

Simply interviewing those resources is one way to tap into their knowledge, and we covered that tactic in the earlier blog post.

Here are three of your peers in content marketing sharing their lists of tips and ideas to kick start the process of making use of your internal resources.

Tricia Heinrich, Senior Director of Strategic Communications, ON24, explained a number of tactics used at the webcasting technology company:

1. The primary challenge faced when working with internal personnel to develop marketing content is getting needed information from colleagues who are already too busy with their own day-to-day responsibilities. They see the value in marketing, but it is not their primary focus. Overcoming this challenge requires a combination of incentive, persuasion and simplification across all levels and roles.

2. A top-down approach is helpful – if the CEO or CMO mandates that everyone (or certain people) take a more active role in marketing their company and asks to see results, employees will be more accountable and likely to take part.

3. Critical to the success of ON24’s marketing and communications program is customer involvement, and key to recruiting quotable, positive customers is enlisting the assistance of our sales reps.

4. To encourage their participation in the program, we incentivize sales reps by providing a special bonus for customer media interviews, press releases and case studies.

5. Another strategy for successfully involving sales reps in ON24’s marketing and communications program is ON24’s annual customer awards program. Leveraging their relationships, sales reps publicize the program to their customers, recognizing that the program creates good will between ON24 and the customer. The customers who win an award are more likely to participate in the generation of marketing content.

6. To encourage blog posts and bylines by internal contributors, including the executive team, we try to minimize any extra work involved by repurposing content across channels.

7. For example, a presenter in one of our webinars will write a blog post based on his webinar presentation, and the blog post will then be promoted across social channels.

8. Bylined articles are also promoted socially when published – and are often posted on the blog or rewritten for the blog.

9. We also encourage colleagues to write about what they are passionate about. For example, our CEO Sharat Sharan sees the importance of communicating effectively in the workplace and emerging marketing trends. As a result, he has written pieces for The Economist and The Huffington Post on these topics.

 

Jeff Klingberg, President and CEO, Mountain Stream Group, offered tips with a focus on gaining knowledge from engineers:

This topic was discussed at great length in LinkedIn’s B2B Technology Marketing Community.

 

Issue #1Time

Small companies (50 employees) are typically working with a skeleton workforce and everyone is wearing multiple hats. Even larger companies are facing downsized workforces since the “Great Recession.” Finding time in a busy workday to create content while fulfilling the day-to-day responsibilities to satisfy client needs can be challenging, especially in the engineering department.

 

Issue #2. Subject-matter experts

In manufacturing companies, the retirement of engineers has driven them to take a different track in meeting engineering department needs. Many companies are hiring CAD operators (designers) on a contract basis instead of hiring engineers. Therefore, they don’t have a lot of subject-matter experts available to create content.

 

Issue #3. Fear

Engineers, by nature, are not good communicators, so fear sets in when asked to create documents beyond the typical CAD drawing or manuals.

 

Issue #4. What type of content to create

Smaller companies typically don’t have a deep understanding of their customer personas, pain points and what customers’ purchasing influencers and specifiers are looking for in content. Also, you have to define what content is.

For example, 52% of engineers expect a supplier to have downloadable CAD drawings in order to consider doing business with that company, however, only about one-fourth of manufacturers have CAD drawings on their websites. And engineers are looking for 3D models to help them reduce time to market.

I know one company who has taken a novel approach to the 3D model issue. If their current suppliers don’t have 3D models, they have offered to create the 3D models for the supplier in return for product.

Ultimately, content creation is a team effort. Its importance has to start at the chief executive. Marketing personnel have to make it easy for subject-matter experts by providing research on subject and content needs, put questions together to help the SMEs create content or pull together information that Marketing can then [use to] create content.

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Maria Lopez Fernandez

Social Media 101: Branding for the PR-impaired marketer

After leaving the world of public relations, I dove head-first into the world of marketing. It didn’t take long for me to realize my skill set as a public relations professional made me a different breed of marketer.

For example, while marketing concentrates on product placement, public relations focuses on building relationships.

Using basic public relations tactics can strengthen your marketing campaigns by reinforcing brand identity, expanding your customer base and creating an integrated customer experience.

To do this, you must master social media and understand how to use it effectively.

For the late adopters, you no longer can afford to ignore social media.

Consider that an Infosys study recently found consumers are 38% more likely to interact with retailers’ Facebook pages than their websites. Smart marketers are creating brand consistency by putting as much thought into their social media campaigns as they do on their websites.

But before you start tweeting and posting updates, keep in mind that all social media was not created equal. Knowing how to use the different platforms is going to give you an edge over your competitors and strengthen your brand identity.

 

Facebook is a place for conversations

Facebook encourages interaction between users. Communication consists of comments, likes and shares. The feedback that you get on this platform creates an interactive conversation with your audience.

When you post content that isn’t generating feedback, you’re not creating conversations. Instead, you’re creating noise and this will make the content you post irrelevant in the eyes of your audience.

If your Facebook page has low interaction, take another look at the value of the content you’re posting and who your audience is. Also, keep demographics in mind to help keep content relevant.

Let’s not forget that in order to have a conversation, you need to respond to the feedback of your audience. The easiest way of doing this is by replying to their comments.

 

Twitter allows you to network

Because Twitter feeds are constantly updated with a mosaic of content ranging from information to entertainment, there’s something for everyone. Tweets are similar to a stream of consciousness.

Start by searching for content that interests you. The search results will include people who use those keywords in their handles and hashtags. Follow, favorite and retweet to start building an audience.

Twitter is a great tool for connecting with people and organizations in an open environment. If you want your tweets to be found by your audience, use strategic hashtags.

If enough people interact with a hashtag, it starts trending and gets displayed on the main Twitter page. Businesses also have the option to pay for promoted tweets.

 

The key to Twitter is personal interaction. It humanizes brands. An excellent example of this is @TacoBell. The sassy account has 1.1 million followers and constantly interacts with fans.

 

Blogs put you in control

The really fantastic aspect about blogs is that you don’t have to pitch your story to the media. By eliminating the middle man, you decide what gets published, when and how.

Because the featured content is your own, you’re in control. But with that control, comes a whole new set of challenges and demands to successfully build an audience of advocates.

A strategic blog should include content that informs, entertains and reinforces your value proposition.

Blogging includes the ability to engage in storytelling. While websites sell products, your blog sells your brand. By brand, I mean the “perception” that your customers have of you.

starbucks-newsroom-page

You can do this by featuring content that personalizes experiences with your product or company. For example, Starbucks uses its blog to publish content ranging from event recaps to letters from CEO Howard Schultz.

Stay relevant by planning out your blog posts and publishing consistently. A blog that is not updated consistently is wasted potential. Followers want to regularly consume information and if you don’t provide it, another blog will.

 

Putting it all together

When Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo rescued a panther cub, it did a fantastic job letting everyone know about it.

tampa-lowry-park-panther

 

The picture the team at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo featured on their Facebook page received 1,313 likes and 137 shares, but they didn’t stop there. They also tweeted a video and posted mini press releases on their website.

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John Tackett

Email Marketing: How a creative throwback helped Dell boost revenue 109%

March 18th, 2014

Meeting customer expectations can be tough, but exceeding them consistently introduces a whole new set of challenges.

How do you build fresh excitement around a new product when customers have become comfortably numb?

This was the challenge facing Dave Sierk, Consumer & Small Business Email Strategist, Dell, who shared an interesting case study at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 on Dell’s approach to tackling this problem for a new product’s launch.

In today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, let’s take a look at the throwback creative Dave and his team used to effectively communicate value.

 

Expectations on autopilot are tough to disrupt 

dell-laptop-emails

 

Dell launches a few products a year, and as you would expect, most of them are laptops.

When the team prepared to launch the XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook, a laptop that can transform from a laptop to a tablet, they realized communicating the new product’s value effectively would prove a little tricky.

 

Text and images don’t always cut it

A versatile range of motion is one of the core values of the product.dell-text-emails

How do you communicate that aspect through an email using text or images?

You can’t.

Image stills do not fully deliver the product’s fluid range of motion, and a wall of descriptive text telling customers about it is not very appealing either.

Let’s not forget an even bigger problem …

While the laptop’s motion could be demonstrated at a brick-and-mortar store, the gap in effectively demonstrating the product online would remain unsolved.

 

A blast from the past emerges as a solution

dell-gif-email

 

The team decided to use a GIF to illustrate the product’s full range of motion in the email campaign. Another advantage of using this throwback to the 90s was that the GIF solved the problem of showing online users how the product worked.

“It’s a great way for a customer to get a full understanding of how that product is going to work in their hands,” Dave said.

 

Delivering value to the inbox is why customers buy from you

dell-gif-email-results

 

After Dell compared the campaign’s performance against internal benchmarks, it proved a success. Dave’s team increased conversion 103% and boosted revenue 109%.

This example also serves as a reminder as to why capturing and delivering a value proposition is vital to your email efforts versus just plugging a few product images and text in an email and hoping for the best.

You have to go beyond just sharing what something is with customers and show them why it’s the ideal solution for them.

To learn more about this campaign and other inspirational and transferable takeaways from Email Summit 2014, check out the on-demand replay of “Email Summit 2014: Top takeaways from award-winning campaigns.”

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Daniel Burstein

Marketing Management: Are agency creative reviews killing customer response?

March 14th, 2014

“Practice like you play.”

This truism rang in my ears as I reviewed one of the videos slotted for MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014.

I was reviewing the video on a big screen in a conference room during a meeting as we prepared for Summit, and a key quote in the video was washed out and hard to read.

I realized I had made a mistake by previously reviewing the videos on my own monitor or the crystal clear monitors our A/V team uses.

However, the audience was not going to see the video on an LCD monitor 12 inches from their face. They were going to see it from a giant projector in a cavernous room at the Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas.

 

How do you review agency creative?

This also got me thinking – how many marketers review agency creative the way prospects will receive it?

I’ll give you an example from my own time working at an agency.

When we presented print ads, we blew each ad up as big as possible and mounted it on a black board to really make it pop.

Then, we presented the ad with no distractions in a conference room.

The people reviewing them were marketers for the company, obsessed and excited about every tiny detail of their product.

 

How do potential customers perceive your marketing and advertising?

Of course, potential customers never received the ad this way. The print ad was just one of many in a Wall Street Journal filled with competing ads, screaming headlines and political coverage.

On top of that, the reader was going through the paper on a busy train, or with kids fighting in the background.

No one, except the marketers we presented to, ever saw the oversized ad in a distraction-free environment.

 

How do you grab the attention of someone who doesn’t care?

I’m not picking on agencies here. This also holds true if someone inside your company, like my first example, created the work.

Creatives, marketers, account executives – we want to present our work in the best possible light. So it makes sense that we blow it up and show it on super sharp monitors.

But if you really want your marketing to stick out, break through the clutter and be different from the crowd, here are a few questions you can ask the next time you are presented with creative to review.

1. Did you buy the newspaper or magazine you’re designing ads for? How will the paper quality (glossy vs. newsprint vs. poor-quality newsprint) affect the ad? How does the ad look, at its real size, placed in the publication?

2. I prefer not to see these banner ads in isolation; can I see them on a few of the websites they will be placed on?

3. How will the customer view this website? It may not be on an Internet connection as fast as ours, on a computer as powerful as ours, and it certainly won’t be on a computer as powerful as the ones developers and designers use. How does the website render and load on an older computer with a smaller, lower-resolution screen and with a slow connection?

4. Same goes for any mobile emails or mobile sites: Do customers have the greatest and newest smartphones and tablets? If not, how will sites render and how quickly will they load on slower devices? On 3G?

5. What compatibility issues will exist? How will this website look if they don’t have Flash? How will this email look if images are blocked?

6. If the audience is older, can they read type that small in a brochure, postcard or on a website?

7. Will our TV commercial or online video be able to convey any information if it is muted? Should we leverage more text to make sure it does?

8. This PowerPoint looks good on my screen, but how will it look to an audience of a thousand people? (Hint: Make the text bigger than you think you should, you can see my own error below.)

 

What you see when you review

 

What your audience sees

 

I’d love to hear you share your tips as well. How do you review marketing creative? What do you do to put yourself in the customer’s shoes?

Do you engage in copy testing, campaign pre-testing or other advertising research, or do you approve marketing campaigns based on your own opinion? If so, how do you decide?

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