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

June 21st, 2016

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…

Marketing Basics: Don’t overlook these 5 digital marketing tenets

May 17th, 2016

There are so many impressive things you can do with your website these days. Augmented realty. Rich animations. Micro-interactions. Interactive infographics.

But I like to think of it like this …

When the quarterback throws a 90-yard touchdown pass, the camera cuts to the wide receiver doing a celebratory dance, and then to the quarterback pumping his fist. What they’re not showing you is the right guard who picked up the blitz to allow the quarterback the time to heave up that bomb.

Your website, content, and digital marketing is often presented the same way. Advanced, flashy user interfaces are great. But looking in our own analytics, I was reminded there are probably a few unheralded, down-to-Earth, un-buzzworthy basics that should still power your online marketing.

 

Basic content

“Basic” has become slang for “limited,” “rudimentary” or any number of other negative connotations. To quote Kara Brown on Jezebel, “Being basic just means that you aren’t that dope.”

And you probably feel that way about the content on your site as well. You are steeped in the latest, most advanced things going on in your industry. You focus on the breaking news. You spend your waking hours thinking about the coolest features of your products, and most advanced capabilities of your services.

But is that what your customer is looking for?

Read more…

Video Marketing: Electronics retailer injects fun into product tutorials to achieve 1.75% purchase rate

May 13th, 2016

“We try to have fun with everything we do, and our audience seems to respond to it pretty well,” Gregg Barclay, Senior Videographer, SparkFun Electronics, told me in an interview at last year’s MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE.

What it takes to produce online video marketing

YouTube, Vimeo and other online video sites have lowered the bar on what it takes to use video to promote your product to consumers. They no longer expect a slick commercial with a massive production staff and budget. The DIY feel can resonate with customers, as well (and for the right product, feel more authentic).

But, as with any business initiative, video still requires a resource investment. For a company with relatively limited revenue ($30 million in sales), SparkFun has nonetheless chosen to make a significant investment in video with seven or 130 employees dedicated to this purpose.

Only two (including Gregg) are involved in the actual shooting and editing of the video. Additionally, there are three full-time creative technologists building products. The team invests a few days in preproduction while the shooting and editing is complete in just a few hours.

This may be a reason SparkFun’s videos have been successful. After all, no matter how slickly a video is produced, it is just a container. You must fill that container with entertaining, helpful content.

“I never wanted our videos to feel like commercials,” Gregg said. “I wanted them to feel like these are projects that we would build whether we were working there or not, and I think that that’s what our audience really responds to because they’re doing the same things that we are.”

The electronics retailer introduces 10-15 products per week, and its team is able to produce two to five videos per week that shows customers how they can use them.

 

Video content driven by fun online tutorials

While the site also includes more traditional tutorials, along with informational product and how-to clips, fun is a key component in many of the videos, such as in the LIDAR Lite Module video or SparkFun Claw Machine! video.

lidar-lite-review

“We always think of fun first. It’s in our name — SparkFun Electronics,” Gregg said. “There might be more conventional uses for these products, but we try to think out of the box a little bit and really get people thinking of other ways to use this kind of stuff.”

As a result, 1.75% of people who view a video on SparkFun Electronics buy a product within that session. This doesn’t include people who watch a video and come back later to purchase, or those who watch a video on YouTube, so the real impact might be even higher.

 

 We’ll be heading to Chicago in a few weeks to bring you more stories of marketing, ecommerce and fun from the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE 2016.

 You can follow Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute, @DanielBurstein.

 

You might also like

Inbound Marketing: Small business builds YouTube channel from the ground up, expands to 40 countries

Video Marketing How-to: 4 tactics from a small business that generated 1 million YouTube views [MarketingSherpa Case Study]

MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 in Las Vegas Call for Speakers — Tell us your story for a chance to speak and, as a bonus, win a trip to Summit in the MarketingSherpa Awards

Mobile Email Marketing Optimization: Tips for beginner and advanced marketers from four experts

May 10th, 2016

In the article from today’s MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week newsletter, we share data produced exclusively for MarketingSherpa by Adestra and Econsultancy, which identified the mobile email marketing optimization techniques that most commonly produce excellent email marketing ROI.

You can take a closer look at the data in the article – Email Marketing Chart: ROI from optimizing email for mobile devices – but here’s the punchline: Optimizing emails for mobile is more than three times as likely to generate ROI.

If you need data to help justify the budget, resources, and buy-in you need from business leaders or clients for optimized mobile email marketing (or if you’re already optimizing your mobile email marketing but need resources to move to the next level), the chart is an excellent asset.

So now what? Let’s say you get the resources … where do you begin? Or perhaps you’re already several years down the road, but are running out of ideas on what to do next.

To help with your mobile email marketing, we interviewed four experts who gave us invaluable tips for both beginner and advanced mobile email marketers. We’re including all the tips in one blog post to allow you to easily scan because, let’s face it, one marketer’s “beginner tactic” is another marketer’s “advanced idea.”

Let’s get started …

 

Tip #1. Start simple

No matter your budget or resources, adding tasks to your department’s already overflowing plate is no easy feat. This is especially true when you consider the proliferation of mobile device types, screen sizes, operating systems, email readers, and download speeds.

(You can multiply that complexity several times over if you have an international customer base.)

But the experts we interviewed encouraged marketers to simply get started on the changes you’re capable of making right away, and not trying to swallow all that complexity with one bite.

“Most of those just starting on the mobile optimization journey feel overwhelmed, so they should keep in mind that simplicity is often the best route,” said Monica Savut, Senior Research Manager, Econsultancy. “Focusing on the core components is key, from using a single-column design and hiding content that might not be essential in a mobile view, to including a mobile-friendly pre-header and designing for ‘fingers and thumbs.’”

“For companies just starting to put a mobile strategy together, simplifying is key,” agreed Aaron Pearson, Product Manager, Listrak. “Simplify you template and layout; simplify your content such as copy, buttons, and images. A mobile-optimized template doesn’t necessarily have to be responsive, so don’t worry about spending time developing a hugely complex system to deliver content to your subscribers. Instead, focus on iterating your content strategy and begin to improve the conversation with your audience.”

Read more…

Customer Testimonials: 3 ways to leverage your customers to help tell your product’s story

April 28th, 2016

U.S. media ad spending will hit $200 billion in 2016, according to eMarketer. And yet, when we asked 2,021 customers how they discover new products, advertising was the fifth most popular response with offline and online advertising tied for fifth with 27% of responses.

“In-store browsing” was the most popular (59%), and the focus of today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post — “word of mouth from friends, family, colleagues” — was a close second at 57%.

However, when we asked marketers how they actually helped customers learn about products, there was a bit of a disconnect from customer preferences. Online advertising was the most frequently used tactic (60%), while “encouraging word of mouth” was only the fifth most popular tactic (chosen by 45% of marketers).

 

How can you increase word of mouth for your products and services?

Be awesome.

This will generate organic referrals at the highest rate.

But a deeper question is more applicable to marketers — how can you leverage word of mouth in your marketing to increase conversion?

Here are three ideas for your campaigns.

 

Idea #1. Help, not hype

“My experience with Summit has just been seamless. I got the opportunity to submit some different proud moments for marketing and my team’s successes. And then having the opportunity to be selected and the opportunity to be with such a prestigious organization was very flattering. Then I was very, very prepared every step of the way. I had a dedicated team that was sending me updates, giving me clear deadlines, supporting me along the way — just made it incredibly professional and certainly best in class.”

That quote is from Cambria Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Service, Door to Door Organics, from a video promoting the MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 Call for Speakers.

Now, we didn’t need to have Cambria in the video. I could have told you how amazing it is to be a speaker at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017 at the Aria Resort in Las Vegas. How you’ll have your name up in lights. You will be fawned over by an adoring crowd of marketers. And, most importantly, you may even get the distinct honor and privilege of working directly with me for several months — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you will never forget — as I help you shape your story before we discuss it on stage.

Read more…

Content Marketing: How to help subject matter experts come up with blog topics

April 19th, 2016

Let’s say you’re an intrepid marketer at a company. You’ve read about the power of inbound marketing, have started your company’s blog, and … now what? How do you get these subject matter experts (SMEs) to blog? And what should they blog about?

Or perhaps you have an established content marketing blog — you’ve been going for years. But your SMEs are running out of ideas for blog topics. What should you do?

Keep reading (and then send your SMEs this blog post).

 

The analogy

Photo: Cirofono

Photo: Cirofono

Now that we’ve established the problem, let’s look to an analogy laced with a pop reference to help give you an approach to solve it.

When George and Jerry are pitching the idea of the “show about nothing” to NBC executives on “Seinfeld,” George asks …

George: What did you do today?
NBC Exec: I got up and came to work.
George: There’s a show! That’s a show.
NBC Exec: How is that a show?


The Seinfeld Method

If your SMEs don’t think they have anything helpful to blog about for your audience, ask them, “What did you do today?”

Their day-to-day role likely spurs many topics that would benefit your ideal customer but are hidden in the four walls of your company. In fact, are you read this blog post, your SMEs are probably:

Almost everything done in their job is content.

Read more…

Social Media Marketing: Online organic retailer grows following 600% in 18 months

April 8th, 2016

“Your brand is not what you say it is, but what your customers say it is.”

Or so goes the old advertising maxim.

If we were to update that to modern times, we might add, “And you can discover what they’re saying about your brand on social media.”

When Cambria Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing, Door to Door Organics, sat down for an interview at MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 with Courtney Eckerle, Managing Editor, MarketingSherpa, she shared that old advertising maxim along with her team’s journey on social media — from a customer service channel to a unified, proactive, brand-building strategy.

 

Here are four key lessons from Cambria’s interview …

Read more…

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

March 11th, 2016

There are two ways for a business to be successful in the short term.

Option 1 is to do anything you can to generate revenue. Sometimes it’s something small like sending that one extra promotional email — it will get unsubscribes, sure, but at least it will push your numbers up this quarter. Or it might be something huge like holding a monopoly position in the marketplace. It could even be slowly making the product just a little bit worse to boost margins.

Option 2 is to relentlessly serve customers better than your competitors. Those are the case studies and stories we share on MarketingSherpa. Likewise, you see this in Zappos walking away from drop shipping, even though it produced 25% of its revenue. Or Optum reorganizing its marketing team around educating the customer, instead of one-and-done marketing techniques that attempted to generate leads but didn’t serve the customer.

Optum's consumer resource center

 

And, frankly, most companies are a combination of the two. But every day, with every decision you make as a marketer, you decide where on the spectrum your company lies. Will you push your company closer to the customer or farther away?

Of course, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Let’s take a look at why customer-first marketing is so important, and why it’s so hard.

Read more…

Online Advertising: Tips based on The Leading Hotels of the World’s campaigns

January 26th, 2016

Unlike many hotel brands that strive for a consistent look and feel, part of the value proposition of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), a hospitality consortium with 425 hotels worldwide, is that each hotel is unique. From the fabled King David Hotel in Jerusalem to The Ritz Hotel in London (featured in the film “Notting Hill”), customers have a plethora of experiences to choose from.

With such a diverse offering, online advertising, content and customer journey challenges that face every brand loom especially large for LHW.

I sat down with Debbie Johnsen, Director of Interactive Marketing, The Leading Hotels of the World (and Adjunct Instructor at New York University teaching Integrated Marketing, Ecommerce Marketing and Web Analytics), to get some tips that might help you improve your marketing campaigns.

“It’s key to understand your target audience. And for us, being a luxury brand, we’re looking for people [with] higher income, higher propensity to travel, people who travel more frequently [and] are looking for unique experiences,” Debbie said.

We discussed paid search, travel-specific Meta Search Networks, A/B testing, attribution modeling, the customer journey, content and customer reviews in this conversation.

 

Read more…

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

January 12th, 2016

The challenges of today scream at you. How can I increase sales? Get more people to subscribe to my opt-in list? Ensure my emails end up in the inbox? What is the next technology to keep up with?

Sometimes it’s helpful to take a look back to see the future more clearly. Getting a sense of where we have been as email marketers helps us to better understand where we’re going. To quote Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

To help you do that, and find inspiration and ideas for your current email campaigns, let’s take a look back through the archives of the MarketingSherpa Email Awards.

 

Idea #1: Email is not a one-way communication medium (from 2006)

When email marketers talk about engagement, we’re typically talking about metrics, analytics, data — numbers like clickthrough or read rate.

But don’t overlook human interaction as well. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center did more than ask people to click in its Wildlife Watch newsletter. For example, the 1,800-acre natural wildlife conservation center asked readers to name a new baby giraffe.

Wildlife Watch email

 

Because of this very human (and giraffe) form of engagement, traditional engagement metrics also performed well, with the newsletter getting average open rates of 35 to 40 percent and clickthrough rate of 16 to 20 percent of those received.

Learn more from the award-winning email marketers of 2006 — Winners included Blockbuster, Vanguard and Canadian Blood Services.

Read more…