Paul Cheney

Content Marketing Generated a 5,100% ROI for Health Care Innovator Optum

July 27th, 2016
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The promise of content marketing is that all that’s needed to provide value is creating high-quality material that gets noticed. The material then does all the pre-selling for you so your company closes more deals with greater efficiency.

No need for cold calls, pushy sales tactics, or throwing money at direct mail.

But the question since the beginning has always been, “does it ROI?”

According to Karen Thomas-Smith, VP Provider Marketing and Reference Management at healthcare giant Optum, it absolutely does. She led a team in a pilot program at Optum that completely turned the company’s traditional campaign-based strategy on its head.

“We literally flipped all the roles on their side,” she said.

“We don’t even want to talk about campaigns. We want to first look at a list of all the content, all the topics we need to be talking about, then build a campaign.”

It worked. Swimmingly.

Thomas-Smith’s strategy generated $51 for every $1 spent on her pilot program, alongside the following results:

  • 12 million impressions
  • 10,000+ downloads of gated content
  • $120+ million in sale pipeline

Watch the video to see the full strategy below:

Time Stamps:

1:00 – Quick look at the preliminary results

2:20 – Background on Optum

3:16 – Evaluating the team based on a marketing maturity model

6:00 – Why content marketing is important

8:15 – Aligning the organization around content

12:32 – Building customer personas

17:36 – Creating a content strategy

20:36 – How Optum takes care of their client champions (for content)

22:25 – Creating compelling content

25:45 – How Optum maximizes its content production with content nuggets

28:00 – The overall content machine and how it works

31:25 – How marketing works with sales in Optum’s model

33:43 – Optum’s four lead nurturing phases

37:45 – Optum’s results to-date

38:19 – Thomas-Smith’s top takeaways

You might also like:

Content Marketing: Healthcare B2B generates 9 million impressions through multi-channel effort

Content Marketing: How an energy data company’s content strategy increased leads by 733%

Red Bull Media House’s Advice for Successful Content Marketing

Content Marketing: Targeted persona strategy lifts sales leads 124%

Selena Blue

Website Optimization: How Brian Gavin Diamonds overcame ‘mobilegeddon’

July 22nd, 2016
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For most companies and its marketers, ensuring good placement in search engine results is crucial.

In 2015, Google updated its algorithm. The update earned the name “mobilegeddon.” Why?

“If someone is doing a search on Google using their mobile device, Google is going to show websites that are mobile friendly before websites that are not mobile friendly,” said Danny Gavin, VP, Director of Marketing, Brian Gavin Diamonds, in his interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE. “You can imagine that people who don’t have a mobile friendly site they lose a lot out because naturally they’re going to fall to the bottom of the first page or even on the second page.”

Danny sat down with Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, to discuss how his company addressed the update and the impact seen from the rollout.

As a high-end jewelry retailer, Brian Gavin Diamonds didn’t see the early mobile traffic burst that some companies saw online. Danny shared how their mobile traffic was very small in 2012, but steadily increased as the years went by.

“As we saw that our customers are using their mobile device more so naturally we need to make sure that our website is more mobile friendly,” Danny said.

This became even more evident with the announcement of Google of the new algorithm.

Read more…

Courtney Eckerle

Gotta Catch ‘Em All: How to get new customers from the Pokémon GO phenomenon

July 15th, 2016
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Marketers can learn a lot from Pokémon GO, and it call comes down to one mantra: Gotta catch ‘em all.

Except in our case, we’re talking about our customers. While not everyone can create a social phenomenon out of their product, you can definitely capitalize on one to pique your customer’s interests and stay top of mind.

Pokémon GO, which is an augmented-reality smartphone game that has players exploring the real world to find virtual Pokémon, is currently rivaling Twitter when it comes to daily active users. This means you can’t afford to just ignore it. Especially if you plan on reaching out to millennials.

Let’s review how some businesses have capitalized on the Pokémon GO phenomenon of the past week.

 

It doesn’t have to be external

MECLABS Institute, the parent company of MarketingSherpa, is sponsoring its own Pokémon GO contest, with the employee who captures the most interesting picture of a Pokémon winning dinner for two.

PokemonGo MECLABS

Many companies have noticed their employees wandering around the company campus, phone in hand, chasing elusive Pokémon. And they’ve capitalized on the fun by working with something their employees were already doing.

Instead of employees trying to sneak around hiding their obsession, why not turn it into a company activity?

Read more…

Regina Love

Promotional Marketing: How to use promotional marketing to build brand awareness

July 5th, 2016
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I’ve gotten the nickname “Coupon Queen,” because I love a good deal. It’s hard for anyone to turn down a 50% off sale from their favorite company. Promotional marketing uses special offers to raise a customers’ interest, to influence a purchase and to even stand out among competitors. As marketers, our main goal is to use tactics like this to boost awareness in order to build the community for our brand.

A few months ago, I wrote a post on building customer experience by looking at event marketing while we prepared for MarketingSherpa Summit. Before getting started with the event marketing process or the launch of your content, the truth is there is a whole production that begins before that. You have to start with your promotional work. As we are now gearing up for MarketingSherpa Summit 2017, I interviewed Erin Fagin, Senior Marketing Manager, MarketingSherpa, on her role with promotional marketing.

Promotional marketing includes advertising, public relations and sales promotion. Whether you want to inform the market, increase demand or differentiate a product, here is an introduction to promotional marketing that can help you drive the traffic that you need for your product.

 

Phase 1. Establish your objective

Erin is responsible for the MarketingSherpa brand, with majority of her focus being on MarketingSherpa Summit. She said this includes the “entire brand perception, experience and voice, and how we are positioning ourselves to our followers and customers.”

As a marketer, the first question you want to ask yourself is, “What are we trying to achieve?”

Everyone’s goals are going to be unique to the company; for example, our main objective is to grow our community. This is where your past can become handy in the future planning process. Take a look at past campaigns and data collected to analyze what previously worked and areas where improvements can afford to be made.

Erin has built a portfolio of ideas that were inspired from past campaigns. However, she strives to involve her team in as much as the process as she can. A collaboration session is key in this step.

 

Phase 2. Build your strategy

Research is the most important asset in your strategy, whether formal or informal. Using that available data on your current or past audience engagement is going to benefit your campaign heavily. Organizing your route to the end goal while showing the value is going to be challenging yet rewarding in the end.

Marketing with internal stakeholders provides the beginning foundation, and external stakeholders can also provide a valuable perspective to the strategy. Here is where the buy-in from those involved comes into play. Your team and leadership has to be convinced to change the nature of the existing or previous strategy to be on-board from the very beginning, because as you move on to the next step, that buy-in is going to be to be crucial.

Budget is a piece to always take into consideration at this stage. If you have the flexibility to share a budget with other departments, utilize the resources to combine efforts to cut costs. With the remaining funds, you may have room to experiment with your strategy.

 

Phase 3. Execute your plan

Three core components in creating this plan to execute are:

  • Clearly defined goals
  • Establishing resources
  • A realistic project plan

Identifying the milestones needed to achieve your goals is going to be the first step. In this marketing optimization post, I walked through steps that similarly tie into building a promotional strategy when improving marketing efforts.

The content messaging is one of the core pieces in your promotional plan. Think about, what you want to say to your customers and how you want them to interpret your content. At the end of the marketing asset, put yourself in the audience’s shoes. How likely are you to be motivated to take action by clicking on the CTA or sharing the information?

In a Buzzstream article, “How to Create a Winning Content Promotion Plan,” Stephanie Beadell presented a well-developed framework to building a successful campaign. What I found thoroughly valuable were the starter questions for marketers to ask during the crafting section:

content-promotion-plan

 

Erin added that she begins by taking a crack at developing the content needed for her promotions and then solicits feedback from her colleagues on the marketing team. The content team is brought in the process as well to copy edit and ensure that the voice of the brand remains consistent. Utilize as many departments as your company has available. You also want to change your copy to reflect where it will be shared, she said, whether with a segmented audience and of course for unique social media channels.

Determining when and where your content is distributed is the final step.

Ensure that you aren’t overwhelming the audience with multiple sends, and map out your promotional periods in advance if you can. Understand your audience and where their motivations are, whether it is through direct mail or email. But don’t be afraid to take risks and test new mediums. Establish how technology can be of assistance as well – can paid search, print ads and retargeting help in your marketing efforts?

When your team comes within reach of the objective or achieves the overall goal, celebrate with your colleagues because your hard work has paid off. Communicate the success with your entire company and internally share the information. And don’t forget to use this promotional marketing strategy you’ve created as a baseline for the next one.

 

You may also like:

How Companies Fail, and Why the Customer Always Wins in the End

Email Marketing: Ideas and inspiration from 11 years of award-winning campaigns

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017

Brian Carroll

Three Questions to Align Your Strategy, Marketing and Sales

June 28th, 2016
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When the business strategy isn’t linked with sales and marketing, the result is that marketers and sellers end up working harder, not smarter. This has a multi-billion dollar impact. Most companies struggle with this according to the Frank Cespedes, author, and Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School: “Selling [or marketing,] no matter how clever and creative, can’t generate good financial returns unless it’s connected to strategy.”

I met Frank while we both spoke at an event in Santiago, Chile. We had a memorable time sharing ideas and research. I thought Frank had a practical approach to aligning sales and marketing. So, I reached out to him and interviewed him about what he’s learned through his research for his most recent book Aligning Strategy and Sales.

[Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and grammar only.]

 

Brian Carroll: What inspired you to write about Aligning Strategy and Sales, which is the title of your new book?

Frank Cespedes: Despite decades of attention to so-called strategic planning, there is remarkably little research about how to link strategy with the nitty gritty of field execution, especially sales efforts [and marketing]. American companies annually spend about $900 billion every year on sales efforts. That’s not marketing, that’s sales, that’s compensation, the travel, incentives, the infrastructure, etc. and to put that in perspective, Brian, that figure is more than three times what they spend on all media, Super Bowls, everything. It’s more than about 40 times what they spend on digital marketing, and it’s more than 50 times what they currently spend on social media. This is a big, big gap.

 

Can you tell us more about your background and where all of this came from?

I was an academic at Harvard Business School for about 11 years working my way up the hierarchy and always was doing research in sales-related areas. My research started with distribution channels, B2B distribution channels, morphed into sales. Then I ran a business for 12 years. And then I came back and said, “I’m teaching strategy. I know something about sales. Let me see what people have written about it.”

What I found was this gap, so I figured two things. One is I don’t think the world needs another book about strategy, and I don’t think, to be blunt, the world needs yet another selling methodology, but there just isn’t much if anything about linking the two and that was the gap that I set out to address.

Read more…

Daniel Burstein

Customer-first Marketing: Do you put your customers’ interests first?

June 21st, 2016
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fiduciary-dutyFiduciary duty. These words have been in the news lately, as the government seeks to require that financial advisors have a fiduciary duty to their customers in certain cases.

A fiduciary duty is a legal duty to act solely in another party’s interests. So what this new regulation essentially means is, financial advisors must put customer’s interests before their own. And the financial industry has been fighting this.

As marketers – this should be crazy to us! This is what we should do every day: Put our customer’s interests before our own. How can a business, much less an entire industry, be against the customer?

 

Remember: You are not your customers

Customer-first marketing begins with the realization that our desires and goals are not necessarily the same as our customers’.

Let me give you an example. Mary Abrahamson is an Email Marketing Specialist at Ferguson Enterprises.

Usually if you go to marketing industry events, and a mobile vendor asks, “Who has a smartphone?” we see that everybody raises their hands. And so the vendor says – “See, everyone has smartphones.”

Well Mary realized – she wasn’t her customer. Her customers were plumbers and HVAC professionals. These people often had flip phones. So, when she launched a mobile campaign, she made sure that text messaging was an important part of her campaign … not just apps. The campaign ultimately generated more than $10 million in online revenue.

So next time you’re launching a campaign – take a fiduciary responsibility with your customers. Think of their needs … and not just your own.

  Read more…

Melissa Pickle

Customer-centric Marketing: 5 more takeaways on consumer behavior from researchers and strategists [Part II]

June 17th, 2016
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MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 will be here before you know it, and our team is hard at work planning the agenda, with a special emphasis on customer-centric strategies and approaches.

As we select our keynotes, the team has conducted in-depth research and gained some interesting takeaways from both academic and marketing practitioners.  We highlighted the first five takeaways earlier this week, and we have five more thought-proving insights again for you today.

 

Takeaway #6. Build habit forming products

Many of the products we use in our daily routine have influenced our routines.

Nir Eyal, author of best-selling book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, has identified a design pattern in habit forming products. He describes this design pattern, “the hook,” as “an experience designed to connect the users’ problems to your solution with enough frequency to form a habit.”

The hook is comprised of cycle of triggers, actions, rewards and investments. The triggers can be internal or external, but must evoke motivation to act.

For instance, customers need to anticipate the reward for their action or they will not engage. The more involved a customer becomes with a product, the more likely he or she will develop a loyalty to the product.

Nir explains, “Products that create successive cycles through the hook help customers’ preferences, tastes, and habits develop.”

This engagement is what makes these products better, it’s not necessarily the quality of the products.

 

Read more…

Melissa Pickle

Customer-centric Marketing: 5 takeaways on consumer behavior from researchers and strategists [Part I]

June 14th, 2016
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At MarketingSherpa, we’re in the planning phase for MarketingSherpa Summit 2017. With the interest of our customers’ experience at the core of our every decision, we conduct extensive research to select the most thought-provoking and applicable keynote sessions for our attendees.

During our research phase, we have identified 10 key takeaways from leading experts (both academics and practitioners) in marketing. That’s a lot of key takeaways, so we’re breaking it up into two digestible bites. Read on today for insights around customer centricity, empathetic marketing and “less is more.”

 

Takeaway #1. Customer centricity does not mean doing exactly what the customers want

Dr. Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing at University of Pennsylvania and Co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Institute, explains that while performing at the level of meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations is a component of customer centricity, it should not be a blanketed approach for all customers.

According to Fader, truly customer-centric organizations do not treat all customers the same because they do not provide equal value to the company. Most of us are aware that we should identify different segments of customers. Fader establishes that while segmentation itself is not a new idea, how it is conducted has evolved from simple demographics to customer lifetime value. He suggests companies organize themselves around different customer segments rather than different products. Then, organizations can deliver products appropriate to their segments of customers.

In summation, to truly become customer centric, companies need to identify and invest in the right customers.

  Read more…

Paul Cheney

Direct Marketing vs. Wholesale Marketing: How Steve Madden organizes and optimizes its $1.4 billion shoe empire

June 9th, 2016
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When your business is 80% wholesale like Steve Madden, how do you carve out a unique value proposition for your direct ecommerce business?

 

Watch the full interview to find out

“The value proposition of our site is that we have the deepest selection [and] we have it before anyone else.”

So said Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce for Steve Madden, yesterday during a live interview at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016.

Additionally, Mark mentions the company’s community of rabid Steve Madden fans in social channels and through the SM Mag.

“It’s crazy how people feel about the brand. We incorporate that into the site, and that gives others some perspective of how some people are wearing it. You’re getting to see not only the product that they bought, but their complete look and how they put it together,” Mark said.

Of course, because the business is 80% wholesale, Steve Madden can’t just leave partners out in the cold. To balance its relationship with partners, Mark mentions the team employs a variety of tactics, including:

  • Syndicate product photography done in-house
  • Syndicate product reviews that were written on SteveMadden.com

  Read more…

Regina Love

How Integrating Customer Service and Marketing Can Build Successful Consumer Marketing

June 7th, 2016
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This week, the MarketingSherpa team is running the official Media Center at the world’s largest ecommerce event – IRCE 2016. We’re interviewing speakers, industry experts and brand-side marketers to bring back ecommerce lessons for you. To get notification when this year’s interviews will be available visit our IRCE 2016 Media Page. Until the videos are up, here’s an interview from last year’s event. 

When you go to a restaurant and your customer experience before the meal arrives is terrible, you’ll most likely refer to that restaurant as being terrible, even if the meal was amazing. Customer service has the power of leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

Customer service and marketing now work together more than ever. At the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2015, Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, interviewed Katie Laird, Director of Social Marketing, Blinds.com, on how her team was making amazing strides with their customer experience.

Here are a few components to transforming customer service feedback internally to build success in your company.

Read more…