Posts Tagged ‘Inbound Marketing’

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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Content Marketing: How to use social media sweepstakes to encourage user-generated content

October 27th, 2015 No comments

“I think content is becoming the forefront for any ecommerce or digital strategy,” Andy Wang, Digital Brand Marketing Manager, World Kitchen, said.

The struggle, though, can come in creating that content. In 2014, 45% of B2C marketers reported “producing enough content” as a top challenge, according to the B2C Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report. And that’s just creating it. Moreover, 51% of marketers struggled with “producing the kind of content that engages.”

How can marketers meet the content amount demands while still producing quality content that resonates with customers?Challenges that B2C Content Marketers Face chart

At the MarketingSherpa IRCE Media Center, Andy discussed with Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, how his team worked through these challenges.

“For us at World Kitchen, it was critical for us to bring in valid content that would showcase some of our passions that our consumers have for our products,” Andy said. “Giving them a voice was critical and allowing them to contribute to our website and be a part of our campaigns. That was one of the things we really enjoyed and were hopeful for.”

You can watch his full interview to learn how his team invited customers to share pictures and stories and integrated this user generated content into their digital marketing strategy.

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Social Media Marketing: When your product delights your customers, customers will help sell it

October 16th, 2015 No comments

Where does social media success begin? In many cases, it begins well off of an online platform like Facebook or Twitter. It begins with a valuable product.

Cambria Jacobs, Vice President of Marketing, Door to Door Organics, sat down with me to discuss the natural and organic grocery company that sells entirely through ecommerce. She shared how it started with a valuable product that customers loved and built off that base to grow its social media fans more than 600% in less than 18 months.

Start by producing share-worthy products

“We were really proud of getting our hands on the best organic produce. We weren’t necessarily looked at or aspiring to become this strong ecommerce player with a really strong technology savvy. And what has grown, being a pure ecommerce player, is our customers were finding us on social media,” Cambria said.

The product itself had enough appeal that it spurred a passionate base audience organically promoting it to friends, family and connections on social media.

“We had organic visuals that were popping up on Instagram and Facebook before we even had a presence on Instagram — just our customers taking photos of their box and of their delivery,” she said.

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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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The Power of Visuals: How four companies effectively used visual content and three tools to get you started

August 18th, 2015 1 comment

An image is a powerful tool in the digital world.

It can draw attention, communicate value, increase shareability and so much more. In fact, HubSpot pulled together the “17 Stats You Should Know About Visual Content Marketing in 2015” to display this. From what your peers are doing to how effective visual content is for social sharing, the stats of recent studies are certainly interesting.

Two stats stuck out to me while researching this topic.Visual storytelling in the digital world

First, tweets with images were clicked 18% more and retweeted 150% more than those without, according to Buffer.

Second, when looking at the most shared posts from Facebook pages, a photo post made up 87% of interactions.

Even better than stats, I came across four success stories that show how visual content can greatly impact your content and social media marketing efforts, from blog views to Facebook shares.


Case study examples

Content Marketing: Interactive infographic blog post generates 3.9 million views for small insurance company

As a smaller insurance company, HCC Medical Insurance Service (HCCMIS) needed a way to stand out in its marketplace. While insurance can typically be thought of as a boring product, the HCCMIS team decided to make their blog content more exciting with interactive infographics.

The result? The team saw a 1,000% lift in blog traffic, as well as significant lifts in social media followers and email revenue.

Interactive infographic blog post generates 3.9 million views for small insurance company

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Digital Marketing: What is a 21st century brand?

April 7th, 2015 2 comments

What is a brand?

Specifically, what is a brand in the 21st century, when we have the ability to converse directly with our customers?

Is it a product, a culture, a destination, service or ingredient? Or is it something more metaphysical? Steven Jones said in his book, Brand Like a Rockstar, that,

Brands are so much bigger than business, logos, names and locations. Brands go deeper, beneath the visible surface and exist in the mind. Brands are essentially perceptions and emotions. They are feelings and associations that come from interacting with a product or service.

A brand in the 21st century exists in the feelings customers get when they interact with a company’s product. It is a direct reflection of that company’s culture, value proposition and the individual personalities of its executives and employees that help shape the brand’s core values.

With the advent of social media, the cultural norms that dictate how a brand interacts with its customers have irrevocably changed the way we view it.

Brands have become more human, and today’s technology allows us to have a real-time conversation with our customers as well as allowing them to start a real-time conversation with us. This means brands are quicker to respond to the praise and critiques of marketing campaigns.

Recently, Starbucks had a social marketing campaign that focused on a desire to force its customers to talk about race. In the campaign, Starbucks had their employees write, “Race Together” on cups of joe.

race togetherThe idea was that every time someone got a cup of coffee, it could be an opportunity to talk about the recent racial and social tensions that have recently gained traction in the national media.

The campaign failed spectacularly.

After only a week of near constant criticism, it came to an end. However, it didn’t harm the Starbucks brand. In fact, it reinforced the brand’s values in the minds of the public. Because Starbucks has crafted a socially-conscious brand image, it has often been criticized by taking a stance on socially divisive subjects.

However, for better or for worse, the company has taken a stance on social issues, which is the main fact perceived not only by customers but also the media at large. Failures have (so far) been forgiven.

The hardest part of managing a brand in the 21st century is with all the avenues we have available to interact with customers, ensuring that messaging reflects brand values.

Brands today can make jokes in social media, wish customers happy birthday and interact frequently with the online communities that support them. It is these communities in the end that help define the perception of the brand in the minds of other consumers. By developing relationships with them, brands can grow a brand image that will absorb the blows of bad campaigns and help gather steam to launch its next marketing idea.

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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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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.”

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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:



Progressive Insurance very famously does this as well: 



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 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.

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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.

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