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How to Build a Brand that Customers Passionately Love

Every Friday leading up to June 7, when IRCE begins in Chicago, MarketingSherpa will be diving into the lessons learned from last year’s Media Center interviews with speakers and attendees, such as Eoin Comerford, CEO, Moosejaw. He and I spoke last year about taking risks in campaigns in order to reap the rewards of customer loyalty.

 

“What it comes down to is, do you want a brand that people will care about? If you try to be all things to all people, you’re really nothing to nobody,” he said.

By playing it too safe, brands can evoke only apathy from consumers — “You’re just vanilla,” Eoin said.

“To create that kind of passion, that kind of engagement with your customer base, you have to understand that you’re probably going to piss off some people too, or at least disengage other people with that kind of focused approach,” he said.

Moosejaw, an outdoor lifestyle and outfitters brand based in Michigan, definitely steps outside of the bounds occasionally, he said.

“An example is the Moosejaw Breakup Service,” he said.

Basically, he said, Moosejaw sent out an email to customers that encouraged them to sign up for a service where Moosejaw employees would break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend for them.

All a customer had to do was send the person’s phone number, three reasons why they were being broken up with, and three nice things about them — the last part was “to sort of soften the blow,” Eoin said.

Eoin said he and his team thought they would have maybe 10 or 15 people participating, and “we’d cut it off at 50. We ultimately had to cut it off at 250.”

Moosejaw’s customer service employees were making these calls.

“It was just hilarious. Some of them were definitely pranks, but there were definitely real people, who were really broken up with by Moosejaw,” he said.

The purpose of this was more than just some random fun or engagement — it’s that it was unforgettable for customers.

“That’s a bar story for life — just that engagement, that word of mouth that comes with it. … It’s priceless,” he said.

Moosejaw also created video and blog content from the campaign, Eoin said, because, “everything that we do, we try to create a little bit of a lasting aspect to it as well. … We definitely try to leverage it as much as we can.”

 

Keep it simple

To launch an idea like this, just gather your team together for a brainstorming session.

“I wish I could tell you we had some incredibly scientific way to do it, but it’s really just a bunch of really smart, creative people sitting around a room and throwing ideas up in the air,” Eoin said.

Sometimes, he said, they begin working on an idea only to find there’s a legal issue blocking it. An example, he said, was an app called ‘Spot a Hottie,’ where people would take a picture of someone they thought was hot in a bar, or another social space, and post it into the app.

“You as the user could then look at where the heat map of hotness was in your local area,” he said.

 

Be willing to make mistakes

While that idea failed, because people tried to sue over the use of their likeness in the app, Eoin doesn’t regret the process that lead to it.

“It’s hard, and it’s a judgement call. I wish I could tell you we got it right all the time, but we don’t,” he said.

One of the key things, he said, is that you have to be willing to turn some people off of your product.

“You have to be willing to fail fast and move on, learn from your mistakes,” he said.

He gave the example of one such campaign that failed, which is “one of my favorites, because it was totally my fault.”

He had read a MarketingSherpa case study about how Obama for America had raised a lot of money with “these really kind of spammy emails. … You’d go in there, and there would be text links and highlights. I thought, ‘This is a good idea,’” he said.

Eoin sent the article off to his email marketing team, and encouraged them to test an email that was built similarly with the headline, “It worked for Obama …”

“Well apparently, politics and email don’t mix, because we pissed everybody off,” he said.

Marketers have to walk away from those missteps and onto the next idea, Eoin added, with “no fear.”

 

You might also like

Email Testing: How the Obama campaign generated approximately $500 million in donations from email marketing [MarketingSherpa Case Study]

Social Media Giveaway Campaign Lifts Sales 15%: 6 Steps [MarketingSherpa Case Study]

Email Marketing: 5 tactics to personalize your email message for better results [MarketingSherpa Webinar]

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

April 28th, 2016 No comments

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…

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

April 8th, 2016 No comments

“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…

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3 Lessons From Shia LaBeouf on How to Go Viral

November 13th, 2015 No comments

Marketers ask all the time, “How can we make our marketing go viral?” It’s a little like saying, “Let’s plan to be spontaneous” — as pointless as it is ironic.

You can’t make anything go viral. It’s a mysterious and oftentimes random set of elements that leads to online sharing and discussion, even if “going viral” is just within your own pool of customers.

That isn’t to say, though, that there aren’t tips and ideas that you can’t integrate into your content and marketing practices to increase the odds of intriguing and capturing your customers enough to share your content.

3 Lessons From Shia LaBeouf on How to Go Viral

 

Chances are you’re familiar with Shia LaBeouf. The actor notably started on the Disney Channel show Even Stevens and he has been a near-constant figure in Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. However, around the Internet, he may be better known for his performance art pieces.

Beginning Tuesday, November 10, at noon, LaBeouf sat in the audience of the Angelika Film Center in New York City to watch all 27 of his movies, beginning with the most recent and ending Thursday at 8 p.m. with his first.

In this latest performance art piece, titled #ALLMYMOVIES, visitors were invited to the theater to sit with Shia as he watches all of his movies consecutively in what various articles are calling “a work of genius,” (Rolling Stone) or alternately, “the most narcissistic binge-watch of all time.” (LA Times).

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Inbound Marketing: How to turn your customers into brand enthusiasts

November 6th, 2015 No comments

KontrolFreek has taken a “very organic” approach to building its base of customer brand enthusiasts and ambassadors, which it calls FreekNation.

Ashish Mistry, President and CEO, KontrolFreek, sat down with me at IRCE 2015 in Chicago, and discussed how the company was able to work within pockets of influence in its digital marketing to turn customers into fans.

The key to how the marketing team has been able to do this is through a number of different avenues in its digital space.

 

Authentically develop relationships with customers

“One of the things we realized early on was that this was going to be the core of our marketing,” Ashish said.

The team thought email would be one of the main marketing drivers, he added, but what has been the most interesting development, from his perspective, is to see how important the social role of these brand enthusiasts has been for the customer base.

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7 Surprisingly Successful Brands on Instagram

September 8th, 2015 1 comment

I love looking at interesting data. When I found Totem’s list of brands on Instagram, I dove right in. The first thing I noticed looking at the list was that it was full of obvious consumer brands at the top. Brands that are inherently visual —  mainly fashion, food and consumer goods.

What was interesting to me about the data were the outliers. The brands that seem like they wouldn’t fit at all on the mainly visual social network. Even more interesting for marketers are the reasons they are successful. If we can study these brands and their creative use of the platform, maybe we can model them for our own brands.

With that in mind, I tried to do some digging into the “why” of the success for each of the brands below. There were a few instances where it was obvious, and a few not so obvious.

Either way, I recommend you dive in yourself and study these brands. Figure out what they are doing and draw inspiration from the marketers behind these brands. Think of this as simply a diving off point. Without further ado, here are the most surprising brands I found on Totem’s list.

 

Pure Michigan (@puremichigan)

Official tourism brands have done extremely well on Instagram for obvious reasons. The Earth happens to be very beautiful to look at. For some reason (and nothing against Michigan) nowhere on Earth has more people posting pictures of it than Michigan.

@PureMichigan ranks first in Totem’s overall tourism category for Instagram users posting its hashtag #puremichigan. If you only look at tourism brands for geographical areas, after Australia and Canada, it ranks third in terms of follower numbers.

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Social Media: Understanding Pinterest consumers

March 13th, 2015 1 comment

“The only reason any brand exists in the first place is because it helps people do something in their lives,”  Kevin Knight, Head of Agency and Brand Strategy, Pinterest said.

In his session at The Digital Marketing Conference — Adobe Summit, Kevin spoke about what makes Pinterest unique to marketers and brands in the social media sphere.

Mainly, unlike other social sites, it’s kind of a loner.

Not in the standing alone in the corner at the school dance kind of a way, but in a “Best All Around” superlative kind of way: independent, and not only party-planning the dance, but countless other activities and interests as well.

“They’re using it for themselves,” Kevin said, adding that many users don’t follow a lot of people, because they using the platform to fulfill their own needs, not to impress anyone else.

 

What is a Pin?

“Art and copy, as old as advertising itself,” Kevin said.

What is a Pin

 

Who is on Pinterest?

  • 70M+ monthly users in the U.S.
  • 40% of women in the U.S. are on Pinterest
  • 75% of usage is on a mobile device
  • One-third of millennials are on Pinterest

*Based on comScore Sept 2014, desktop and mobile, U.S. users, and internal Pinterest data

Those 70 million monthly users utilize Pinterest to discover, save and then do, Kevin said. Over 30 billion pins ave been categorized by people into more than 750 million boards, and this is a highly personal interaction to them.

Pinners are sharing their interests, hobbies, hopes and goals, creating the narrative of their future through pinning actions.

Read more…

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4 Tips from Jonah Berger on Taking Content Marketing Viral

February 10th, 2015 4 comments

We all see things go viral on the Web or certain products that suddenly take off. It begs the question: Why do some things get talked about more than others?

“And how by understanding that science can companies and organizations and individuals get their stuff to catch on?” said Jonah Berger, Associate Marketing Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, during our phone interview.

ContagiousJonah, who will be a keynote speaker at Email Summit 2015, has studied how products are used and why behaviors catch on. His book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller on the topic.

Companies can get stuck in an “advertising” mindset, he said, and see that as the only way to communicate with consumers.

“While advertising is useful for some things, it’s not as effective as word-of-mouth for some other things. And so understanding how to both effectively use traditional advertising and word-of-mouth and blend those two approaches becomes really important,” he said.

Jonah provided four tips on how to best integrate the two and how to make your content go “viral.”

 

Tip #1. Keep the focus on customer

Marketers have a tendency to focus too much on the product or service, rather than the customer or user, Jonah pointed out.

It’s easy to speak in a language the customer can’t easily understand when you spend day after day up close to what you’re offering — “You know a lot about your product, your service, your idea,” he said.

Ask yourself a few questions to make sure that you’ve pictured the customer’s journey:

  • Why are they using this?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • How can we be more successful by finding our messages in customer language?

The value of content done well, he said, is that “it’s not about you … the best content doesn’t yell your brand; it whispers it.”

While recently working on a project with 3M, Jonah said he helped them create content that focused on how the product could be used.

“So focus is more on the user, or the thing that happens, or the way it improves the world or people’s lives, rather than the product itself,” he said.

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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.”

  Read more…

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2 Tough Questions to Ask About Your Content Marketing Strategy

June 24th, 2014 No comments

At MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute, shared some of the forgotten strategies for generating epic content.

One of those strategies revealed how creating a mission statement for your content can help you define the desired outcome for your content marketing efforts.

So in today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, I wanted to share two questions every marketer should ask about their mission statement to help craft (or refine) the ultimate purpose for content creation.

 

Question #1. Is our purpose clear?

Content-purpose

 

Here are two examples Joe shared of mission statements that are clear and concise in their purpose and intent. They also have one other unique similarity that’s worth mentioning.

Their focus is exclusively on helping customers instead of trying to sell to them, or as Joe explained:

“It’s not about trying to sell more,” Joe said, “It’s about what is the outcome for my persona.”

 

Question #2. Who does our content serve?

content-mission-statement

 

Joe also explained that creating a mission statement help fill in the strategy gaps is essential to give content a much needed targeted focus.

“This is part of the strategy that most of us don’t have,” Joe explained.

Here are three recommendations Joe had for crafting (or refining) your content marketing mission statement:

  • Core target audience – Who is your persona? What are you talking to?
  • What will be delivered? – Is this information useful?
  • The outcomes for the audience – What will your audience get out of consuming your content?

Read more…

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