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Posts Tagged ‘Inbound Marketing’

Why Savvy Marketers Establish Affiliate Relationships with Bloggers

June 20th, 2014 No comments

Having in-house bloggers on your marketing team can keep your content flowing, but there are limits to the audience they can reach.

One way to solve this challenge, according to Carolyn Kmet, Chief Marketing Officer, All Inclusive Marketing, is strategically recruiting third-party bloggers outside of your team to help deliver the right mix of credibility and content that can reach new audiences.

At this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, MarketingSherpa hosted the event’s official Media Center. Our team of reporters interviewed marketers from across a variety of business verticals to learn insights on what works in ecommerce marketing.

As Carolyn explained to Allison Banko, Reporter, MECLABS, third-party bloggers can deliver additional exposure opportunities for your brand.

“Bloggers can position brands beyond traditional reach,” Carolyn explained.

 

According to the MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study, less than 40% of all companies surveyed utilize affiliate marketing as a traffic driver to an ecommerce site. Using bloggers as affiliates can help with driving traffic from audiences outside of your reach.

The trick is, as Carolyn explained, is to build relationships with bloggers and offer them content opportunities that make exposing your brand to their audience worthwhile.

To do that, she often recruits third-party bloggers outside of her team as affiliates and helps them access industry thought leaders for interviews that would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain otherwise.

The affiliates create content from those interviews to share with their respective audiences.

“There’s a lot of transparency, Carolyn said. “It gives them fresh content for their audiences.”

Read more…

Why You Should Thank Your Competitors

March 28th, 2014 No comments

I was at a conference recently and had a very surprising conversation with the person I was sitting next to at lunch.

His company had no competition – and he said it was a bad thing!

 

What happens when you have no competition?

Having worked with a competitive sales office (the team responsible for generating a report explaining why every deal was won or lost) at a previous job, I gained a visceral dislike for the competition.

Much like in sports, we always like to root for the home team and against the rivals even when it doesn’t necessarily make sense.

As a Florida resident, my tax dollars equally flow to the University of Florida and Florida State University. But as an alumnus of UF, it’s hard to cheer for FSU even when the team wins a national championship.

My point is: Competition seems rooted in human nature.

I was surprised when my fellow conference attendee expressed that it was a real challenge not to have competition. Since there was no one else delivering his service, potential customers didn’t view it as category they should consider.

Also, potential customers couldn’t really get competitive bids or issue proposal requests (RFPs).

 

(Another) theory of relativity

There may be another factor at play here. Dan Ariely, who spoke at MarketingSherpa Email Summit, said, “We like to make decisions based on comparisons.”

In his book, Predictably Irrational, Dan gives an example in which if you were shopping for a house and had three choices:

  • A contemporary
  • A colonial
  • A colonial that needs a new roof, but the owner will knock the cost of the roof of the home’s price

According to Dan, people will go with the colonial with the good roof. The contemporary suffers from a lack of competition.

Or, as Dan puts it, “We don’t know much about the contemporary – we don’t have another house to compare it with – so that house goes on the sidelines. But we do know that one of the colonials is better than the other one.”

Decision-making is complex. When we’re making decisions, we usually don’t understand all of the factors that go into it. Yet, we want to feel that we’ve made a logical decision, so we look to the information we have at hand to reassure ourselves.

 

How can we use this information as a marketer?

Some marketers try to avoid the competition and never mention them, especially if they are the market leader. Marketing tradition says that Coke never mentions Pepsi.

However, perhaps you should tell customers more about the competition. You should help them make the best choice between you and the competition and provide them with something to compare your company to.

 

Help your customers make a choice

For example, KAYAK does this with travel pricing:

kayak-comparative-pricing

 

Progressive Insurance very famously does this as well: 

progressive-comparative-pricing

 

This may seem counterintuitive, so think about the brick-and-mortar world for just a moment. Many businesses tend to flock to the same location as their competitors, such as the famed Diamond District in New York City or even car dealership row in almost every city in the U.S.

Customers want choice. They want to make a logical decision and consider their options, or feel like they did at least. Help by giving them options, even when those options come from your competitors.

 

Make sure customers experience a proper comparison

Showing competitive trade-offs is easier in some industries than others. After all, sometimes customers don’t understand what other choices they should compare you product to.

For example, it was rumored that marketers at Best Buy were sad to see Circuit City go out of business. Sure, they dogged competitors. But without Circuit City, would customers now compare Best Buy directly with Amazon.com? While Amazon’s prices are cheaper, is the service the same as a brick-and-mortar store?

The Rodon Group, an American manufacturer of high-volume plastic injection molded parts, faced this challenge. When companies thought of cheap sourcing for small components, they thought of China.

The Rodon Group wanted to change potential customers’ frame of reference and show that it was, in fact, also a low-cost supplier even though it was an American company. The company’s “Cheaper than China” campaign increased sales 33%.

You don’t determine the competition. Your customers do.

But you can help frame customers’ decisions by showing why your product should be compared to another offering.

Read more…

Multichannel Campaigns: How do you avoid zombie marketing?

February 4th, 2014 No comments

Zombie marketing.

It’s where lackluster marketing runs rampant as customers are swarmed by hordes of mediocre messages.

So how do you avoid it?

 

Commit to breaking through the noise  

When you strip away all the fluff, marketing is a choice to communicate with the chance that someone might care enough to listen.  

But when you’re in an industry where there’s not much excitement, saying something of interest to customers can be tough. Christine Nurnberger, Vice President of Marketing, SunGard Availability Services, revealed some of the challenges she faced in taking on zombie marketing at SunGard, both figuratively and literally.

“Let’s be honest. Selling managed services, business continuity, production resiliency at the surface level isn’t really all that sexy,” Christine explained. “I was challenged by the CEO when I took on this position last October to find a way to really break through the noise of all the B2B technology clutter that’s out there.”

 

Focus on creating quality content for the channels that will help you break out

SunGard’s overall efforts across email, direct mail and social media were influenced by the buzz zombies are enjoying in popular culture. But according to Christine, the focus on delivering something of value to your customers is vital to your marketing’s survival.

“There is no substitute for really focusing on quality creative content that breaks through the noise,” Christine said.

To learn more about how you can survive zombie marketing, check out our next MarketingSherpa webinar, “How to Leverage the Zombie Apocalypse for an Award-winning Multichannel Campaign,” where Christine will reveal some key takeaways every marketer needs to stay ahead of the marketing undead.

Also, if you have any questions you’d like to ask Christine, tweet them to our host @DanielBurstein, or use #SherpaWebinar.

Read more…

Content Marketing: How to serve customers when they shouldn’t buy from you

January 14th, 2014 No comments

You have a great product to sell. So you pour time, creative ability and life’s energy into making sure customers know just how great that product or service is.

But, just between friends now, that product isn’t right for everyone, is it?

If you answer that question honestly, it naturally brings up another question.

 

How do you give your customers what they want even if you don’t have it?

Content marketing is about serving customers, not pushing product. Only once you serve those customers (and build up trust) can it become an effective vehicle for selling. And oh brother, can it ever be effective.

Here are two ideas for serving customers when your product isn’t right for them.

 

Idea #1. Help customers decide not to buy your product

Limited shapes and designs: Because fiberglass pools are built from a mold, the consumer is limited to the shapes and sizes offered by the various fiberglass pool manufacturers.

The above line is from a blog for a company that sells fiberglass pools.

What? Why?

“Fiberglass might be too skinny, but if you’re looking for that size, it can be good for you,” said Marcus Sheridan, Co-owner, River Pools and Spas. “We tell potential customers, ‘You know what, fiberglass might not be for you. And that’s OK, we’re going to figure it out together.’”

The results? The “problems post” garnered 176 comments, 396 inbound links and 43,867 page views. For a small pool company. In Virginia.

You can read more at “Competitive Messaging: Tell your customers what you can’t do.”

 

Idea #2. Help them get what they want

Sometimes customers can’t find what they want from you because it simply doesn’t exist yet.

Since the best marketing messaging is based on how the customer expresses what they want, hopefully you’ve been:

  • Listening in on social media
  • Engaging with customers service
  • Learning from Sales
  • Doing research in relevant target audience-focused newspapers, magazines and websites
  • Testing value proposition expressions using A/B testing

In doing customer research, you will naturally come across these gaps of unfulfilled customer desire.

When you do, it’s a chance to work with product development and business strategy to test your company into new products and services to better serve your customers’ unmet needs.

But sometimes, you simply can’t produce that new product or service.

What to do? Check out this brilliant idea from Eventful, the Best in Show in the E-commerce category in MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2014, sponsored by ExactTarget.

Here’s how the event Web service handles an unfulfilled customer desire.

I’ll be the example. I go to Eventful.com to search for a Pearl Jam concert in Jacksonville. But Pearl Jam doesn’t have any concerts planned for Jacksonville (really, Eddie, really?), so I’m greeted with this pop-up that states, “Would you like to be notified when Pearl Jam comes to Jacksonville?”

 

The other option I have if I close the pop-up is:

“Bring Pearl Jam to Jacksonville! Demand it!”

  Read more…

Content Marketing: How to manage a change in content on your blog

October 11th, 2013 4 comments

You’ll get no arguments from me that starting a new blog can be difficult.

There are plenty of great content marketing resources from MarketingSherpa and elsewhere to help you do that.

But, what happens when your company decides to undergo a change in content?

Navigating the waters of a new format on a well-established blog is a different kind of monster than starting from scratch.

 

Make sure everyone understands the big picture

If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of new faces on the MarketingSherpa blog.

Also, if you read the blogs of our sister brands MarketingExperiments and B2B Lead Roundtable, you will also find a lot of new contributors there as well.

When I asked Brandon Stamschror, Senior Director of Content Operations, MECLABS, about some of the elements driving the change in content, Brandon explained the new approach was a unique opportunity to return blogging to its roots.

“For us, it felt like it was time for our blogging voice to come full circle,” Brandon explained. “Blogging originated as the ultimate personal journal. It was a platform for practitioners who were passionate about their message being heard, but over time, that approach has evolved into a more sophisticated medium that has as much in common with a trade journal as it does with a personal journal.“

Another reason Brandon mentioned for the change was based on the idea that members of the MECLABS research team have a wide range of insights and practical advice to offer our audience.

“We realized that we are in a place to leverage the strengths of both approaches. Real world practitioner discoveries and observations supported by a consistent editorial standard,” Brandon said.

Instead of letting all of that content simply vanish, the era of the MECLABS practitioner blogger had arrived.

Consequently, this also meant the MECLABS research team would be taking on a new writing initiative, so the first real challenge was one of communication throughout the organization.

So, the first tip here is simple – communicate, communicate and communicate.

Make sure everyone in the organization understands the reasons for change and what their role in those changes will be, as your team can’t help build something they don’t fully understand.

 

Anticipate problems and start looking for solutions

This is my faith in Murphy’s Law – if anything can go wrong, it will – so the trick is to anticipate problems and find solutions to avoid headaches later.

For instance, while having a sizeable pool of new content creators was a great asset, there was one catch …

Most of our practitioners’ writing skills were based on formal training in academic writing.

Few had prior blogging experience, while only one to my knowledge had any experience in journalism or exposure to the editorial process.

Based on our assessment, here were some of the problems we anticipated:

  • Limited blogging experience – How do we help analysts to start writing blog posts?
  • Formal training in academic writing – How can the content team help practitioners develop blog writing skills?
  • Few have exposure to editorial process – How do we build a new editorial process that allows for more revision and editing time? How can we educate our internal thought leaders on the editorial process?

After a few rounds of discussion, our team decided a blog post template provided a simple solution to solve the problem of helping analysts get started writing blog posts.

 

The feedback we received from our in-house writers so far is the blog post template has been helpful in providing some rudimentary direction and structure to get started.

In short, the more problems like these that you can anticipate and find solutions for beforehand, the less painful your transition will hopefully be.

  Read more…

Content Marketing How-to: Social media tips and tactics from B2B Summit panel

August 20th, 2013 1 comment

According to the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Handbook, companies that create content “produce higher-quality leads that are more likely to convert than organizations that do not.” Although effective, content creation is difficult.

At B2B Summit 2012, Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, sat down with a panel of marketing experts: Eddie Smith, Chief Revenue Officer, Topsy Labs; Nichole Kelly, President, SME Digital; and Chris Baggott, Chairman, Compendium. They exchanged insights on content creation, the importance of genuine content and how marketers can kill their career with inauthentic content they create or repurpose.

Watch as the panel discussed the value of harnessing a company’s internal email power, verifying sources and using a human tone with customers. Discover why Nichole said, “Email is the biggest wasted content resource,” and what marketers can do to utilize it.

 

Creating inauthentic content was one of the five career killers the panel discussed. Watch the full free presentation to see the rest of this discussion as well as the other four social media career killers, including:

  • Thinking your CFO is your nemesis
  • Single-use content
  • Treating social media as “special”
  • Not soliciting outside content

Read more…

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 …

 

SEO & PPC

Local search has had the biggest positive impact on marketing objectives, with 54% of marketers indicating so, according to the MarketingSherpa SEO Marketing Benchmark Survey.

How to Switch to SEO, PPC Strategies to Increase Leads: 10 Steps to Triple-Digit Lifts

Local SEO: How geotargeting keywords brought 333% more revenue

PPC Marketing: Two accidents reduce cost-per-lead 20%

 

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…

12 Most-Tweeted MarketingSherpa Blog Posts of 2012: Inbound and email top the list

December 28th, 2012 No comments

This time last year, we put together the top 11 posts of the MarketingSherpa Blog for 2011, and social media marketing easily dominated the list. In 2012, email marketing put up a good fight, but social media marketing along with other inbound strategies and tactics still took the gold.

This year’s list focused on three areas: inbound, email and customer-centric marketing. Along with a brief summary of each post, you’ll also find some interesting tweets about select posts. Read on for 2012′s most popular MarketingSherpa Blog posts, as determined by your peers.

 

Inbound Marketing

Blog Awards: The 13 best marketing industry blogs (according to you)

Our top post of 2012 shared the results of the MarketingSherpa Reader’s Choice Awards, where we announced the 13 winning blogs, in a variety of categories, as decided by you, the MarketingSherpa Blog audience.

“If you’re looking for information to help you improve performance and advance your career, check these blogs out,” said Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, in the post.

Read more…

Inbound Marketing: Content is everything in search and social

November 13th, 2012 4 comments

This week’s MarketingSherpa Book Giveaway features Search and Social: The Definitive Guide to Real-Time Content Marketing by Rob Garner, VP of Strategy, iCrossing (a Hearst company).

This book is based on six years of columns for MediaPost Search Insider and Social Insider, along with Rob’s speaking engagements, blog posts and experience as a marketing practitioner. The depth of this experience and knowledge really shows in the detailed, actionable information Rob provides readers.

I had the chance to hear Rob speak on this material at a recent Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association meeting, and later got the opportunity to pick his brain a little on search, social and content marketing.

Here is the result of that conversation …

Read more…

Inbound Marketing: 5 tips for cultivating user generated content

October 11th, 2012 1 comment

Despite the fact that we have never met them, and usually have no clue as to their qualifications, consumers put increasingly greater stock in the word of their fellow consumer.

“[User generated content] is just something that has evolved, but in many ways we have always had it,” said Kaci Bower, author of the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Handbook citing mass reviews and word of mouth.

“Now, with the advent of social media, it is just exploding. Now consumers and brands actually have a place to share their opinions, thoughts and ideas,” said Bower. “It actually provides a platform for user-generated content to not only be created, but also shared quite easily.”

The puzzle is in learning how to harness its power.

Social media provides a more intimate cyber setting than any other format, and because of that fosters feedback that is more conversational and for better or worse, people don’t hold back. It gives marketers insight into what their consumers are really concerned about, or happy with.

Read more…