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Content Marketing 101: Tips on content strategy

April 14th, 2015 3 comments

By this point, I think most marketers understand the value and importance of the content marketing channel. It’s well known that prospects for both consumer and B2B marketers are now doing most research on their own — I’ve seen research reporting B2B prospects are now getting 80% down the pipeline before ever raising their hand and letting you know they might be a customer.

content marketing

 

A prospect 80% down the pipeline is likely going to be a more qualified prospect because they are nearing the end goal in terms of making a purchase — and because Marketing and Sales only have to get that last 20% to close the sale. At the same time, it means you can’t just push out marketing messages to names and leads in order to reach the entire marketplace.

The solution to this issue is to have a solid content marketing strategy in place, maybe even making content marketing the centerpiece of the overall marketing strategy.

Having spoken with hundreds of marketers about their content strategies over the years, I wanted to share tips on some of the basics of content marketing with the MarketingSherpa Blog reader.

 

It’s not about selling

One point about content marketing that can’t be emphasized enough is this: It’s not about selling your company, your products or your services. At its core, a content marketing strategy is targeting those prospects in the research phase that have yet to identify themselves as potential customers. You don’t know their names; you don’t have their email addresses in your database, and they might not even follow you on social media.

However, they are conducting research on your products, your services, your marketplace, your competitors and your company. If you can become a resource of basic information and instruction around the general marketplace of your business, you can become a trusted destination for those as-yet unknown prospects.

The two terms to keep in mind here are thought leadership and brand awareness. If you can provide valuable and relevant content to people conducting research on your marketplace, products and services, you can become a thought leader for information in that space.

As people visit, and revisit, your website and other digital outposts (such as a Facebook page or answer to a question on Quora) without being sold to, they will become aware of your brand. When they do decide to take a more definite step and raise their hand to be sold to, hopefully you will be top of mind.

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Ecommerce: How to preserve your brand globally [Video]

March 27th, 2015 2 comments

Ecommerce offers a great opportunity because it allows marketers to sell globally much more easily than opening brick-and-mortar locations around the world. This video from the MarketingSherpa video archive features Rob Garf, Vice President of Industry Strategy and Insights, Demandware, covering this topic with some tips on global ecommerce and insights from the frontlines of selling online in new geographies.

 

Preserving brand value across multiple cultures

According to Rob, global ecommerce is growing, and the first challenge is preserving brand value while meeting the specific needs of the new marketplace.

“First off, you can’t not pay attention to [global ecommerce]. Retailers — historically, how they grew globally was to have to stand up an entire physical location, retool their entire supply chain, and it was really expensive,” he said.

“The digital world really allows you to grow across boundaries in a real, more efficient way. Be able to test different markets. Be able to reach new consumers and ultimately grow the business,” Rob added.

Rob explained that it comes down to culture and being entrenched in how the consumers behave and how they want to interact with the brand, and those factors are affected by geography. In order to accomplish this in marketing, merchandising and promotional practices need to be adjusted. In Rob’s words, “Have a local presence in order to be local.”

Watch the video to find out more of Rob’s advice on marketing ecommerce globally:

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Mobile Email: Tips on getting started

March 20th, 2015 3 comments

For email marketers, tackling mobile email is a relatively new challenge, but a challenge that needs to be addressed. According to research from Litmus, the email testing and analytics vendor, 49% of people access email via a smartphone — a figure that’s risen fivefold since 2011 and continues to trend upward.

mobile

 

To provide some insight for you, the MarketingSherpa Blog reader, I reached out to five email marketers who addressed the mobile email challenge with two basic questions on the topic.

Read on to find out what this expert panel had to say about mobile email:

 

MarketingSherpa Blog: What one tactic has the most impact on mobile email campaigns?

Justine Jordan, Marketing Director, Litmus

Ah, the million dollar question! As with most things with email, it’s hard to make a generalization since it can vary greatly based on your industry and audience. If I had to pick just one tactic, I’d go broad and say responsive design has the most impact on mobile email. MailChimp sends billions of emails every year, and they’ve seen a 15% increase in unique clicks for mobile users when responsive design is used. Even without huge gains in performance, sending responsive campaigns sends the message that you care about providing the best possible user experience for your subscribers.

 

 Brian Graves, UI Team Lead, DEG

Simplifying the experience. In addition to helping deal with the smaller amount of screen real estate available on mobile devices, statistics show that customers typically spend less than 15 seconds reading marketing emails, with iOS users spending the least amount at around 3 seconds or less. Look at repositioning your email layout to lead with your most important messaging. The most effective emails are typically concise and have a clear focus. This is not only a good tactic for mobile but is one way in which a mobile-first approach can help improve your campaigns across every platform.

 

Ted Goas, Designer and Developer, Canfield Scientific

Work as a unified team from day one. Having product managers, marketers, designers and developers working together from planning through to execution helps ensure a campaign’s quality doesn’t degrade as it gets ‘thrown over the wall’ in a waterfall process. Everyone knows what’s happening and why.

 

Dan Denney, Front-End Devevloper, Code School

Designing an email for scanability has the most impact. We want everyone to read every word, but people want to find what they’re interested in and move on. Make it easy for them.

 

Fabio Carniero, Lead Email Developer, MailChimp

Spongy development (sometimes called hybrid development), in my opinion, has the most impact. There are a fair number of pitfalls associated with mobile email, and the spongy development method — a combination of fluid and non-fluid email markup — can generally resolve most of them. The most pertinent example is the Gmail app on Android and iOS; the app doesn’t support media queries, which are generally necessary for responsive design. The spongy/hybrid technique serves as a work-around for providing ‘responsive’ email in clients that don’t support the technology specifically.

This development technique, with its inherent flexibility and robustness, also has the benefit of being stable in a very wide variety of email clients and platforms, from desktop to tablet to phones.

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Email Marketing: List segmentation tips using social media and online behavior

February 17th, 2015 No comments

Unless you are executing batch-and-blast email campaigns (and I sincerely hope that you aren’t), your email strategy probably involves some level of personalization or at least getting relevant email content to the right person. In order to achieve either of those goals, the starting point is your email subscriber list and having that list segmented so you can pick and choose who in your database receives each email send.

Lists can be segmented many different ways, and obviously the more record fields you have on each person in your list, the easier it is to segment based on criteria such as geographical location, job title, industry and possibly even transaction history.

To provide a few ideas of how your peers are segmenting their lists for email campaigns, here are three examples taken from MarketingSherpa Newsletter case studies. Hopefully you will discover insights that are inspirational or maybe even something you can immediately apply to your own email efforts.

 

Tip #1. Utilize behavioral data for segmentation

This tip comes from an article titled, “Segmentation: How a small office supply ecommerce site boosted revenue 25% by sending more emails,” covering JAM Paper & Envelope, a New York City-based brick-and-mortar that added ecommerce in 2007. Andrew Jacobs, Director of Ecommerce, JAM Paper, said, “Essentially, we come up with one email a week, or every two weeks, or even a month if we didn’t have time, and we would send it out. We would just cross our fingers and hope for the best,” referring to the company’s initial batch-and-blast approach to email.

JAM Paper’s campaigns included a “lapsed purchase” send to anyone who hadn’t bought anything for 17 months, but the team decided segment beyond just a certain timeframe and began taking individual behavior into account for the campaign.

This meant looking at each customer’s buying behavior. Some bought monthly, or even weekly, while others bought only once a year. The team calculated the average time between orders for each customer and began sending the “lapsed purchase” email once each person passed their individual threshold. This tactic yielded a 45% conversion rate — the highest among all of JAM Paper’s email campaigns.

 

Tip #2. Mine social media for customer segmentation data

In the case study, “Email Marketing Segmentation: Clothing brand uses social behavioral data to drive a 141% increase in revenue,” Johnny Cupcakes, a mid-sized apparel retailer, linked its customer database to social media engagement of its individual customers, analyzing 19 million public social expressions.

These posts led to insights on data points such as:

  • Gender
  • Customer interests
  • Brand preferences
  • Media habits

Gender was seen as the key data point to uncover from the effort and was actually taken directly from social media profiles if that information was available. One of the insights into customer interests was that a lot of Johnny Cupcakes’ customers were sports fans.

The team decided to test these insights by promoting a baseball-themed shirt to the sports fan segment of its list.

Men on the list were sent an email featuring a male model and a shirt cut for men:

Men's shirt

Read more…

Lead Generation: How to build your own list

September 26th, 2014 6 comments

Last week’s MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter case study — “Lead Generation: Content and email combine for high-quality list building” — covered an effort by cloud replication and disaster recovery startup company, CloudEndure. The overall basis of the campaign was a process created by CloudEndure’s Vice President of Marketing, Ramel Levin, before he joined the startup. This process Ramel called BYOL, or “build your own list.”

The case study features some of the steps involved in Ramel’s lead gen idea, but since he developed it for a company he worked for before joining CloudEndure, the exact steps he took in putting the process together were not part of the case study.

For today’s MarketingSherpa blog post, I wanted to provide more detail on how Ramel created his BYOL concept.

Ramel said he was in a business setting speaking with a startup company that did website translations when the BYOL idea came to him.

“I was asking them, ‘How do you generate leads for websites that need translations?’ He (one of the employees at the startup) started telling me about all the different ways he was doing it, and he talked about the traditional ways of doing email blasts, going to conferences and doing advertising for pay-per-lead and PPC,” Ramel said.

 

One method for building high-quality lists

After a bit of thought, Ramel decided that building a list of higher-quality leads would be more effective for this company, and here is the process he developed to do just that.

 

Step #1: Identify the first stage of target companies

Ramel stated, “So I told him, ‘How about doing the following? How about scanning the top one million websites, based on Alexa or Quantcast, or any other ranking service … and find out how many of those websites have only one language.”

He said, for example, scan the top sites in Germany, and make sure they only have pages in the local language. If the company is in the United States, its website only features pages in English.

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Email Marketing: Taking advantage of responsive design [Video]

September 16th, 2014 No comments

If your experience is anything like the typical email marketer in 2014, a growing portion (possibly a very large percentage) of your list is opening email on a mobile device — maybe a tablet or, more likely, one of the many smartphones out there.

To fully reach and engage that audience, you can either design and build custom emails for every single platform your audience is using …

Or, to make things a bit simpler on the design and execution end of things, take the responsive design plunge for all your email campaigns to ensure your sends have the best look, feel and, more importantly, clickability on any mobile (or non-mobile) platform your recipients use.

To address this issue, watch this excerpt from a panel discussion at the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014:

 

This excerpt features Pamela Jesseau, Senior Director of Marketing, MECLABS (parent company of MarketingSherpa); Amy Carpenter, Digital Marketing Team Leader, Whole Foods Market; and Ewa Badaruk, Global eCRM Marketing Manager, adidas Group.

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How a Single Source of Data Truth Can Improve Business Decisions

September 12th, 2014 1 comment

One of the great things about writing MarketingSherpa case studies is having the opportunity to interview your marketing peers who are doing, well, just cool stuff. Also, being able to highlight challenges that can help readers improve their marketing efforts is a big perk as well.

A frustrating part of the process is that during our interviews, we get a lot of incredible insights that end up on the cutting room floor in order to craft our case studies. Luckily for us, some days we can share those insights that didn’t survive the case study edit right here in the MarketingSherpa Blog.

Today is one of those times.

 

Setting the stage

A recent MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Newsletter article — Marketing Analytics: How a drip email campaign transformed National Instruments’ data management — detailed a marketing analytics challenge at National Instruments, a global B2B company with a customer base of 30,000 companies in 91 countries.

The data challenge was developed out of a drip email campaign, which centered around National Instruments’ signature product, after conversion dropped at each stage from the beta test, to the global rollout, and finally, to results calculated by a new analyst.

The drip email campaign tested several of National Instruments’ key markets, and after the beta test was completed, the program was rolled out globally.

The data issues that came up when the team looked into the conversion metrics were:

  • The beta test converted at 8%
  • The global rollout was at 5%
  • The new analyst determined the conversion rate to be at 2%, which she determined after parsing the data set without any documentation as to how the 5% figure was calculated

Read the entire case study to find out how the team reacted to that marketing challenge to improve its entire data management process.

Read more…

Social Media Marketing: Tools and takeaways to implement today

August 29th, 2014 2 comments

Earlier this year, I was asked to moderate a case study panel at DFW Rocks Social Media Day. It was a fast and furious two days with multiple concurrent tracks and a lot of great information for attendees.

Since so much was happening at once, I wasn’t able to take in all the great content. So I reached out to Lissa Duty, Organizer of DFW Rocks Social Media 2014 and Vice President of Community Management at Advice Interactive Group, for her take on the event to give MarketingSherpa readers the opportunity to learn some of the top takeaways.

 

Insights from the organizerDFW-rocks

From the organizer’s perspective, Lissa said that this year’s event placed a higher importance on live content.

She explained, “This year, I really saw the value in having the live blog to share the conference sessions and highlight the speakers, even after the event, plus the live tweets, which did make for the #DFWRocks2014 hashtag streaming on Twitter at one point.”

What’s Lissa’s quick-hit advice on social media marketing?

“You must start with creating a social media plan,” Lissa said.

She then outlined three key points:

 

Key Point #1. Understand why you’re using social media

It’s not just to “get rich.” Understand why you feel social media is important to you, your customer and your brand.

 

Key Point #2. Research what your customer wants to know about your brand

Discover how you can share that message uniquely in each social space, and then create a plan to give them that message.

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Email Marketing: What is the best day to send an email?

August 12th, 2014 10 comments

For this MarketingSherpa Blog post, I thought I would examine some email research. This chart from the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report focuses on the effectiveness of sending emails on different days of the week:

 

 

Looking at the results of this survey, you can see a wide range of effectiveness, along with a few clear patterns. Tuesday and Wednesday look pretty good, but Sunday looks to be the least effective.

What’s left off of this highly aggregated data is the fact there is no “best” day – or time of day – to send emails that works across the board for all email marketers.

The reality? Testing your email sends is paramount to effective email marketing. What might work for one industry, or business category, or maybe even your direct competitor might not – no, make that probably won’t – work for you.

Your email list is unique to your business (unless you’ve bought the entire list, and if so, shame on you). Only by testing your sends and tracking open rates, clickthroughs and other engagement metrics will you learn what works best for your list.

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Content Marketing: User-generated content tips from Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia

July 15th, 2014 3 comments

At the recently held Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, and Allison Banko, Reporter, both of MECLABS, interviewed event speakers and attendees in the MarketingSherpa Media Center.

In this 11-minute video, watch as Daniel spoke with Wikipedia CEO and Founder Jimmy Wales on how to encourage user-generated content – a powerful element within an overall content marketing strategy. Jimmy also discussed why Wikipedia is the only top 50 website in a Wall Street Journal study covering companies that do not engage in any visitor tracking.

 

Empower people to provide the content they want to provide

Jimmy explained that user-generated content is not free labor for marketers, and that he dislikes the term “crowdsourcing” for that reason.

Retailers think, “I want people to do this work – I want them to write reviews for me.”

He explained, “Instead, they should turn it around and say, ‘What do my customers want to accomplish? What is it they are trying to express, and how can I help them express that?’”

Jimmy continued to say this mindset might lead you in new and different ways. Maybe reviewing products is boring for your customers, but what they are really interested in is discussing your products or services in a more general way in which they can add their expertise to a community.

“That’s the first idea I would give – flip it on its head,” Jimmy said. “Don’t think about the work you would like people to do; think about what it is people want to do and how you can empower them to do that.”

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