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Posts Tagged ‘content marketing’

Digital Marketing: Content marketing, social media and SEO predictions for 2015

February 20th, 2015 4 comments

Every year at Email Summit, we ask marketers for their predictions.

Before MarketingSherpa reporter Courtney Eckerle interviews you about your marketing predictions in the Email Summit Media Center, I figured it was only fair to put a stake in the ground and make some predictions you could hold me to as well.

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Prediction #1: Convergence is the watchword for digital marketing this year

You’ve already seen (and will continue to see) convergence among marketing and business software platforms, and this trend will continue to grow as the line blurs between publishers, brands and marketing agencies.

Curve by Getty Images. Verizon’s experiment with Sugarstring. And, of course, The Red Bulletin. More and more brands are learning the power of building this kind of one-to-one connection with their audiences, building an owned audienc, and not having to borrow interest from television or other content creators.

At the same time, publishers are creating content for brands with their own agency arms, as well (a bit of a blast from the past when newspapers used to help create ads to sell media space).

Tribune Publishing (which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other dailies) bought a stake in Contend, a content agency that creates branded campaigns. Onion Labs, The Onion’s in-house ad agency, has made some seriously cool campaigns. Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ recently hired a director of branded content and launched a branded content shop which blurs the line between editorial and promotion.

Advertising and marketing agencies, more threatened than ever by brands and publishers, will try to get an ownership stake in the ideas they help create, like Anomaly did with EOS cosmetics or how 37signals went from being a website redesign shop to a software company selling Basecamp.

Data, will of course, be huge. This will be of benefit to content creators of all stripes listed above. Since they have the traffic and relationship with the audience, they have the ability to learn the audience’s preferences based on their behavior, and then engage in A/B testing with these audiences to build a strong understanding of the products, services and offers that these customers will most respond to.

But behind it all, let’s not overlook the people with the knowhow to make it happen, which can be a scarce resource — brilliant, brilliant marketers, writers, designers and data scientists.

Being able to navigate this land of data and convergence, networking and real relationships will be critical for the marketer to build cross-functional teams that understand all the elements it will take to be successful — content, technology, data and strategy. That’s one reason we pay so much attention to the audience experience and foster interactions and networking at Email Summit.

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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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How a B2B Company Used Live Chat to Speed up the Sales Cycle

February 6th, 2015 No comments

Online chat is far more than a way to respond to customers. It’s an opportunity to optimize website content, pinpoint customer needs and even close sales, according to Brooke Beach, former Marketing Manager and current Marketing Director, Kevy.

Kevy enables businesses to connect and synchronize data to cloud apps. It’s a new industry, explains Brooke, so customers inundate the company with questions. Before live chat, Kevy responded to them via email. She admits the back and forth, full mailboxes and the time it took to clarify the issue via email dragged out the support and sales process.

So they took advantage of the immediate response of live chat and discovered it provided a much better solution by:

  • Optimizing their website. Brooke instantly found out which pages communicated effectively and which didn’t. Specifically, there were consistently two pages that people used chat to ask questions about. She revamped those pages based on the chat discussions, and the questions dropped by 75%.“I’m working with content all of the time, and I can have a false expectation of the level of understanding others may have,” says Brooke. “The immediate feedback enables us to cater the website content to better fit (customer) needs.”
  • Closing sales faster. “The beauty of chat is it gives a personal, human element to a flat website … you can get to know a person and what they’re looking for and immediately figure out the right solution for them,” she points out.In fact, almost immediately after Kevy installed live chat, a prospect used it to inquire about pricing structure. A sales professional was able to close the deal in a single conversation.

Watch the full interview and find out more about the value of online chat for B2B:

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Vendor Selection: A 5-step process for choosing a marketing automation solution or agency

February 3rd, 2015 No comments

How do you move 18 to 20 segments of customers through the learning process of a complex sale? Mitch Zlotnik, President, and Seth Pauley, Vice President, both of Audimute Acoustic Panels, used marketing automation to educate customers with content on a large buying decision.

To learn the process they used to find the right marketing automation solution and agency to help create this low-touch ecommerce operation, I interviewed Mitch and Seth.

“We’ve been rapidly growing for the last eight years. We’ve found a good partner selection helps you grow your business. A poor selection extracts resources from your business, creates problems that hinder growth,” Seth said.

 

Mitch and Seth discussed their “Five Q” Technology or Agency Selection Process:

  • Qualified (at 3:39 and 7:40 in the video interview)
  • Quantified (at 5:52)
  • Quick (at 5:05)
  • Quill (at 8:30)
  • Quality (at 8:39)

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Blogger Intervention: 3 reasons why no one is engaging with your content

January 30th, 2015 3 comments

So, you have low blog engagement or a handful of loyal followers that you were expecting to blossom into a world-wide audience — but it’s just not happening.

I’m not an expert content writer or blog wiz. However, working at MarketingSherpa has given me insights that I would not have otherwise about what can make certain pieces of content successful while others flop.

Here are three common mistakes to keep in mind as you structure your individual blog posts and also determine your blogging strategy:

Blogger Intervention

 

1. It’s all about you

The biggest mistake that content creators can make is centering their blogs on themselves.

They open with a relevant, beautiful challenge that the audience is facing, and then they ruin a perfectly good opening by presenting their product as the flawless solution — or their service as an end-all-be-all to those interested in a DIY experience. Content consumers aren’t looking for a reason to buy from you. They are looking for a resource to solve problems.

Be real, be relevant and be genuine. Make sure that your blog humanizes you, and explain how your audience  can learn from, and apply, your mistakes to their own campaigns.

Lastly, edit — grammatically and for content. Even the world of food bloggers (which I frequent) knows that the audience really only cares about how much salt is too much salt and why cream of tartar really makes a difference in the cookie recipe rather than just adding more baking soda. The annoyingly long charming story about your grandmother’s old pickup truck isn’t a necessary preamble for what I’m really interested in below.

Remember, every sentence should justify the reason as to why your post is solving the problem that your audience faces. It’s about them.

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Tweetables: Top 10 MarketingSherpa posts of 2014 (according to you)

December 30th, 2014 No comments

It seems like only a short time ago I was sitting at my desk, staring at a fresh new calendar in front of me — an act that spurred feelings of intimidation, daunt and excitement.

But that was 12 whole months ago.

Over the past year, our team of bloggers have written over 100 posts for the MarketingSherpa Blog alone. I’m pulling together the ones that you’ve shared the most over the past year with your friends and colleagues into a single tidy post.

Something that stood out as I sorted the top shares by category (content marketing, email marketing and social media) is that marketers are evolving their mindsets from company-focused messaging to customer-centric messaging.

 

Content Marketing

Although content marketing may no longer be considered shiny and new, marketers continue to learn how to harness their talents and abilities into this form. No longer are we only marketers, but we are also artists, authors and videographers who strive to reach customers in ways that were not possible only a few years before.

Bolstered by the rest of the categories covered in this post, content is now an essential lighthouse to guide your customer to conversion in a world of saturated and stormy information across the Web.

 

Posts you shared the most:

 

What your peers said:

Tweet 1
 

The above tweet is is reference to Content Marketing: 9 examples of transparent marketing.

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3 Steps for Crafting a Crowdfunding Pitch (and Improve Your Marketing)

December 2nd, 2014 No comments

The hardest part of getting any endeavor off the ground is to secure funding. Traditionally, in order to gain enough funding for a project, entrepreneurs had to go to banks or find funding through willing investors.

Today, entrepreneurs can achieve funding through a variety of ways including friends and family, angel investors or venture capitalists, but none of them are as interesting as the crowdfunding phenomenon that has surged into legitimacy in the past decade.

Crowdfunding might be an activity for startup companies raising funds, but marketers can learn a lot from the crowdfunding process, from the importance of the pitch to creating effective video marketing content – in this case, the startups are marketing themselves to potential investors.

 

How does crowdfunding work?

In crowdfunding, the entrepreneur solicits donations from the public either in person at events like Jacksonville’s One Spark Festival, or by using a variety of online websites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

Crowdfunding is unique because it allows the entrepreneur to pitch their product while simultaneously perform a focus group dedicated to their product with very little risk. The more people who invest in a campaign, the higher the interest there will be in the final product.

There has been a lot written about crowdfunding campaigns. You can find, in my opinion, one of the best blogs written by Tim Ferriss of The Four-Hour Work Week fame on how to raise $100,000 in 10 days.

My focus in this blog will be to explain how to craft the most important part of a crowdfunding campaign: the pitch.

 

Pitching a crowdfunding project

The pitch is generally a 3-5 minute video explaining to your potential investors who you are, what you are trying to accomplish, how much money it would take to reach your goal, why you need that specific amount, and what’s in it for them.

Depending on your budget, your video could be professionally made or shot with a simple camera phone. What matters most is your content:

“The strength of your video pitch often determines how likely you are to meet your crowdfunding goal.”

The Bank to the Future

 

The pitch can be broken down into three sections: The hook, the core and the bribe.

 

Step #1. The hook

According to the Bank to the Future’s useful video on crafting a pitch, the first 8-16 seconds of your video should be used to capture your potential investor’s interest.

In those seconds, it’s important to introduce them to the purpose of your video and to tell them visually or verbally what they are going to get out of watching it. If you have a prototype, show it in action. If you don’t, state your value proposition.

To craft your value proposition, ask yourself the following question; “If I am your ideal investor, why should I help you reach your crowdfunding goal?”

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Newsletter Engagement: 3 tactics Calendars.com used to improve its monthly sends

November 11th, 2014 No comments

When Marcia Oakes, Senior Online Marketing Manager at Calendars.com, was challenged with the task of defining the company’s email campaign, she dove at the chance of evolving the campaign from promotions to engagement.

Marcia and her team hoped to develop a newsletter that people wanted to read and a way to “engage with subscribers without asking them to open up their wallets.”

The result was a newsletter with refreshing and relevant content that resonated with the customer.

 

Find your voice

The team at Calendars.com used a calendar format as a template for the newsletter send. Not only was this visually different than other emails in the inbox, but it was very fitting for the brand.

They also used a previously shelved trademark phrase, “Flip Day,” to describe the newsletter send. (Flip Day, if you’re wondering, is the ceremonial and satisfying day that you flip your calendar from one month to another.)

By using this resource they already had, it empowered the team to communicate with their audience in a purposeful way, without promoting products.

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Content Marketing: Lord of the airline safety videos

November 4th, 2014 No comments

Since when did airline safety videos become so darn viral?

What used to be a dry and boring legal formality has now become a way to engage audiences outside of the plane cabin.

As a huge fan of “The Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movie franchises, my inner nerd did backflips when I watched Air New Zealand’s newest airline safety video:

 

For those not so familiar with the world of J. R. R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson, New Zealand was the filming location for all three “Lord of the Rings” films as well as the more recent “Hobbit” movies.

Featuring actors and characters from the movies, as well as flight attendants dressed as elves and an appearance from director Peter Jackson, Air New Zealand really outdid themselves. (However, I would have liked to see a little more Gollum in the video.)

This isn’t the first time the airline has capitalized on the “Hobbit” hype for its in-flight safety videos. In 2012, they used the theme in coordination with the first “Hobbit” film in the series.

Delta VideoHowever, Air New Zealand is not alone in taking safety videos to the next level.

Delta has produced some pretty entertaining safety videos as well, notably this 80s-inspired throwback featuring big hair, crazy clothes and of course some iconic characters from the time.

 

Storytelling in the strangest places

These safety videos, while still used for the in-flight safety precautions, were undoubtedly created to become viral online.

What was once an untapped resource has become a way to kill two birds with one stone: comply with FAA regulations and entertain viewers.

But even more than that, these videos are great content marketing. For Air New Zealand, the company is gaining more brand awareness from these videos because, let’s face it, most people will probably never make the 24-hour trek to the island.

However, by embracing its ties to the “Lord of the Rings” franchise and getting creative, it’s found a way to reach audiences who may have never heard of the airline company before.

For larger airlines like Delta, I would argue that having more entertaining safety videos is a way to spice up what used to be mundane travel for 165 million travelers each year.

As a popular network, these videos add more personality to the brand.

For me personally, I saw one of Delta’s comedic videos on a trip I took, and that video was the first thing I told my family about when I landed was that video. Even on the flight, people were chuckling and talking about the video, even if they had seen a similar one on a previous trip.

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How to Craft a Viral Campaign in 3 Steps

October 21st, 2014 1 comment

In 2012, only half of Americans knew of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after one of its most famous victims. The ALS Association, a nonprofit committed to raise money for research and patient services, raised a combined total of $19.4 million for that year.

Fast forward to today, and the ALS has raised over $100 million this year alone, most of which has been raised in the two month period of July and August.

As many of us know, it’s all due to one viral campaign: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge, in which one records dumping ice water on themselves or donates to the ALS Association, has been shared over 1.2 million times on Facebook and 2.2 million times on Twitter.

The campaign was so successful that critics started to worry about how the challenge would affect counties under severe drought watches.

Why did this campaign, out of all the others floating around on the Internet, go viral?

There’s not a lot we have control over when it comes to the “viralocity” of an image, video or idea. However, according to Malcom Gladwell, there are three elements that increase the probability:

 

The law of the few (Know who to target)

Malcolm Gladwell states in The Tipping Point, “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.”

Gladwell calls these movers and shakers of the internet realm “connectors.” These are people with the extraordinary gift for making friends and acquaintances. They have a multitude of followers on social networks, and when they mention something on Facebook, it is immediately shared 100 times.

These connectors can be people, a website or a news organization. People want to be connectors.

While in today’s society a connector can translate their social network directly into money or political power, most people simply want the rush they feel when their idea or link is liked or retweeted. A good idea in the hands of a few can spread like wild fire.

 

The stickiness factor (Good content)

The two reasons the ALS Ice Bucket challenge succeeded was because it was for a good cause, and it was easily repeatable. At the end of their individual challenge, the participant then had to challenge three of their friends to replicate them. As the campaign gained momentum, it even grew to include big-name celebrities, such as Oprah, Bill Gates and Steven Spielberg, taking the plunge.

The stickiness factor correlates to your core content, cause or campaign. Is it well thought out? Is it for a good cause? Will it make a difference in someone’s life? More importantly, is it memorable? The more memorable the campaign, the higher the stickiness factor, and the faster it spreads.

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