Archive for the ‘Inbound Marketing’ Category

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.

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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.”

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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?



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?



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?

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Content Marketing: Finding the Goldilocks zone in your blogging

December 17th, 2013 5 comments

One of the perks of growing up in Northeast Florida was being able to watch space shuttle launches from my backyard. I never became an astronaut, but having NASA as one of your neighbors has an impact on you.

For example, I still keep up with NASA’s continued efforts to explore space, which is currently centered on a strategy of looking to planets in the Goldilocks zone orbiting around stars as big as our sun.

As a writer and editor, I often think about where the Goldilocks zone exists on our blogs.

Sure, there are a lot of factors to consider, but what I’ve found is that discovering the ideal zone where the conditions of voice and benefit exist in just the right amounts so an audience can flourish is truly not easy to find.

But, there are a few elements to consider that can point you in the right direction.


Start with the bare bones of blogging

If you break a blog post down, you’ll usually find it consists of two basic elements:

  • Identity – The human element of your content’s voice
  • Benefit – What the audience gains out of your content

When writing blog posts, hopefully your goal is ideally to try and find the balance between those two elements while keeping the interests of your audience at the forefront. 


Here are a few Venn diagrams to help put this into perspective. Now, let’s take a look at some of the imbalances and why they matter.


The messenger in blogging is a part of the message

A blog that is light on identity lacks the humanistic touch that makes your voice unique.

I often see this as a common problem for newer blogs still developing their voice in the market, but it can quickly become a problem even for established blogs.

To put a little context around this, blogs traditionally started as a platform for democratic content. It was a way for thought leaders to bypass the gatekeeping of traditional media and cut through the noise by taking their message straight to the people.

This idea still holds true today to a large degree even as blogging continues to evolve, but the trick to remember is the messenger remains a vital part of the message.

Consequently, if your blog voice is an erratic messenger with no unique identity, even the most beneficial content on the planet will not save you from eventually being abandoned by an audience.

Before you publish another post, take some time with your team to review the basics around your brand’s persona and how that persona translates into delivering a consistent voice in your blog content.


Just make sure the messenger is not the entire message  

In the case of overdeveloped identity, the majority of attention is focused on the brand or the author and not on the audience or how they benefit from your content.

The upside of an overdeveloped identity is that it’s is easy to spot – I call it “look at me” blogging.

Now, don’t get me wrong; you want to include a certain amount of personable information in your content. After all, that human element of blogging is what made blogging so dynamic to begin with.

But, the challenge rests in knowing when to deliver enough voice identity in your blog posts to be personable and transition from that to delivering benefit to your audience.

“Look at me” blogging is seductive because it’s easier to do than producing value for an audience, but the consequences for your blog are toxic.

The best way to avoid this is by holding your blogging to an editorial standard where the promise of benefit to your audience is always the focus.

If your team develops the habit of fleshing out value first by asking, “What will the audience get out of this?” before a single word is put on paper, you’ll discover that easily understood value is also easily delivered value.

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Social Media Tips: 5 easy steps to set up a Facebook business account

November 1st, 2013 23 comments

I’ve decided to start a Facebook account. Now what?

To start, we need to determine if we are looking to do a business account or a personal account.

Which type of Facebook account is right for you? For the purpose of this blog post, let’s focus on a business account.

If you are going to have a business account, you must start with a personal account. Facebook business pages are similar to personal timelines. A big difference are the analysis tools Facebook includes for business pages that offer in-depth knowledge to help you see how well you are connecting with your community.

Let’s walk together through setting up a page for your business. Please note that the Facebook landscape changes on a regular basis, so remember you can always visit Facebook’s Help Center for updated instructions.


Step #1. Set up your personal Facebook account

First, you are going to need a personal Facebook account to set up a page for your business.

The reason for this is driven by Facebook limiting your availability to access its business account process without an initial personal account.

If there is a silver lining to this, the business page will not interact with your personal page and your personal information is not public on the business page.

Facebook will allow you to switch back and forth from your personal account to your business account so you can interact as the business on the business page and then simply switch back to your personal account.

In addition, the business page is capable of being managed by multiple administrators if needed. Once additional administrators are set up for the page, each administrator can simply log in to their personal Facebook account to access the business page’s control panel.


Step#2. Select “Create a Page”

You can find this in the “More” section at the bottom of your personal account homepage.


Step #3. Select a page

Which page category should you select? 


Facebook classifies business pages into six major groups. Here’s a breakdown of each group to help you select the right one for your business.


Local Business or Place

  • If you have a brick-and-mortar store where customers physically visit, select the Local Business or Place page.

Company, Organization or Institution

  • If your business is mostly run online or has multiple locations, then you should select the Company, Organization or Institution page.

Brand or Product

  • If your business has products that are sold through multiple websites, resellers and/or retailers, then you will want to select the Brand or Product page.

Artist, Band or Public Figure

  • If you are in the public spotlight and your business is focused on promoting,  the Artist, Band or Public Figure page is the appropriate selection.


  • If you are looking to promote your television show, movie, book, radio station, magazine or other media, select the Entertainment page.

Cause or Community

  • If your organization is a community of action that supports specific issues, campaigns or nonprofit organizations, select the Cause or Community page.


If you feel like you made a mistake in your choice of page, you can always change your page type and category. You can do this after you’ve created the page through the admin control panel.


Step #4. Select your category and get started  

The category selection is just a simple category drop-down list.

After choosing a group that best fits your business, enter the required information for your page, read the terms, and if you agree, check the box and click “Get Started.”

Now that your business page is set up, the hard part is over!


Step #5. Create cover and profile photos  

Facebook allows for a standardized template design with two elements that can be changed on a regular basis.

These two components are:

  • Cover photo
  • Profile photo

These elements are essential to the look and feel of your page. They also serve as free advertising space for your business. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of them.


Cover photos

Cover photos are the large image at the top center of your page that can serve multiple functions.

The size dimensions for cover photos are 850 pixels by 315 pixels.


To give you an example, let’s take a look at Motorola’s Facebook page.

Motorola has blended images of its products and text to thank fans for their engagement, which leads me to another point.

Cover photos are versatile and only limited to your creativity. They can introduce visitors to your page, promote special offers, provide contact information, and most importantly, help you set the tone of your page.

Even if you are not a designer or have very limited resources, you can still create effective cover photos.

Freeware like GIMP or will allow you to size, crop and save your images as needed.

Also, here’s a tip – try not cover more than 20% of the image with text. The reason is Facebook has been rather picky in the past about the amount of text you can use in images.

I also recommend creating multiple cover photos initially, and then upload and swap them out on a weekly basis.

Creating multiple images is hard enough without adding in the reminder to change the cover photo once per week. However, at the moment, when you change your cover photo, your audience will be able to see that photo in their timeline. Another recent MarketingSherpa blog post dives into the details on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.

But for now, I suggest implementing this tactic as a best practice to keep your brand top-of-mind with your Facebook fans. Also, changing out the cover photo on a regular basis to keep your page looking fresh is a good idea.


Profile photos

The profile photo is the square box to the bottom left of the cover photo. The dimensions for profile photos are 180 pixels by 180 pixels.


Your profile photo serves one main purpose: every time your page posts an update, your profile photo will appear alongside the post on your fans’ timelines.

The profile photo is a small square, so you will want to minimize the amount of text used in this box to maximize the real estate.

A lot of brands safely use a logo in this space for identity, but there is no right or wrong choice here. As I mentioned earlier, your boundaries are the limits of your creativity.

I recommend taking some time to find the right profile image that captures the heart of your business.


Related Resources:

Social Media Marketing: A quick look at Facebook EdgeRank

Social Media: 4 simple steps to calculate social media ROI

Social Media Marketing: Why should I like or follow you?

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Inbound Marketing: 15 tactics to help you earn attention organically

June 28th, 2013 No comments

Often, the best ideas for our content come from the MarketingSherpa audience,  such as  this note I received from Steve, “There was a very good graphic in a recent post from Rand Fishkin. I think it would be interesting for you to add some ‘quantitative metrics’ to this.”

Let’s take a look at that graphic …


I reached out to Rand, who is the CEO of Moz, to get a little background on the chart, which looked almost like a yin and yang of modern marketing to me.

“The items in red aren’t necessarily all terrible things you shouldn’t do,” Rand said.

“Interruption marketing can be well done, but as the graphic notes, there’s no flywheel effect generating momentum, and these channels/tactics, on average, lead to higher costs of customer acquisition. In some markets and for some companies, that may be a fine tradeoff, but it should always be a conscious one,” he explained.

Today on the MarketingSherpa blog, we’re providing a mixture of quantitative metrics, case studies, how-to articles and other resources to help you improve your own inbound marketing efforts by learning more about how your peers are effectively using these tactics …



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Opt-in Email Lists

Only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list.

Email Deliverability: How a marketing vendor with 99 percent delivery rates treats single opt-in lists vs. double opt-in lists

Read more…

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