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Big Data: No longer a big buzzword

December 16th, 2014 No comments

This week in the MarketingSherpa Book Giveaway, we’re giving out five free copies of The Big Data-Driven Business: How to use big data to win customers, beat competitors and boost profits.

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, we interviewed one of the co-authors, Russell Glass, for his insights on leveraging big data and what’s on the horizon for this much-discussed topic.

Russell currently serves as Head of B2B Marketing Products at LinkedIn and previously served as Founder, President and CEO of Bizo, acquired by LinkedIn this year for $175 million.

Sean Callahan, Senior Manager of Content Marketing, LinkedIn, and former Marketing Director of Bizo, served as co-author of The Big Data-Driven Business.

Read on to discover how big data has brought Marketing and Sales closer than ever and what marketers can do to use big data effectively and ethically.

 

What really is big data?

“One of the reasons we wrote the book is that we saw a big discrepancy between those who understand big data and those who were either skeptical of it or didn’t know what to think about it,” Russell said.

For a marketer just getting started in understanding and leveraging big data, Russell explained that it’s all about knowing your customers much better than you know them today through technology.

 

Why is big data so valuable?

For CMOs and marketers driving success for their company and achieving huge gains by using big data, they are putting a culture in place that is asking deep and insightful questions about their customers.

“They are understanding what makes a customer tick, what their customer is looking for and how can marketers create more relevant experiences for that customer,” Russell said.

Then, these marketers using big data are putting the systems in place to answer those questions as well as using all of those increases in processing power, storage and technology to create a better experience for their customers.

“These CMOs, because they are so close to the customer, they become the person in the organization that’s most likely able to move shareholder value,” he explained.

 

How can big data break down the walls between Marketing and Sales?

According to Russell, if you look back in history, before the Internet and before mass communication vehicles, the salesperson had the most direct connection to the customer.

“It was much more one-to-one,” he said, citing an example of a customer walking into a brick-and-mortar store.

Back then, the customer would interact and ask questions with the salesperson in-store, creating a dialogue and, ultimately, ending with a purchase.

However, in the past decade or two, the customer is doing a large percentage of research before they even get to the salesperson. Through Google searches for product reviews or turning to social media networks for recommendations, the implication is that Marketing is now the department closest to the customer.

“They have to make sure that they’re putting content out there … and that they have the right information across the Web when a customer or prospect is looking for it,” Russell said.

With so much of the buyer’s journey now a marketer’s responsibility, Sales is increasingly reliant on Marketing to understand the customer as well as to ensure the customer is getting what they need before they speak to a salesperson.

“Marketing is much more central to the conversation,” he said.

Furthermore, marketers are now in the best position to score leads and determine when those leads are sales-qualified, and they’re doing so using big data insights.

“Salespeople now are getting more qualified leads, and they’re closing more often. That starts to create a cycle because data is more entrenched with what Marketing is doing,” he said. “Marketing gets more budget to drive more leads, and you start to see this collaboration happen in a more effective way.”

 

How can marketers leverage big data ethically?

Russell explained there are two camps regarding issues with privacy: those who would prefer to have all tracking shut off and those who are using that data have the ability to collect it everywhere.

Russell explained there is a middle ground to this debate, and it involves creating mechanisms for transparency.

“Make sure prospects and customers know what you are doing, and offer control so that your prospects and customers can make changes to how you’re using their data if they would like to,” Russell said.

At LinkedIn, a cross-functional group called the Trust Council meets on a monthly basis to discuss issues ranging from new products that are getting released to complaints that are received and how the teams are designing privacy systems to combat those challenges.

“We make decisions as an organization that are consistently members first, and [we are] consistently thinking about how the member is being treated in their experience on LinkedIn,” he said.

On the flip side, data security is another big issue for marketers leveraging big data. With recent breaches of big box retailers, these issues have come to the forefront in both the customer’s and the marketer’s mind.

“It’s critically important that if companies are going to be storing data about customers and they’re going to be using that data online … they have to have a very thoughtful approach to security,” he said.

 

What’s the future of big data?

For Russell, he believes that it’s easy to think of big data as a fad or the next buzzword everyone is talking about. However, because this is how marketers are going to increasingly understand their customers, this is a strategy that will continue to grow and evolve.

The Internet, which is the fastest growing media channel of our time, is increasingly a part of everyone’s lives. Now more than ever, it’s being accessed on mobile devices and wearable tech — even cars are Internet enabled.

“At the end of the day, just about every piece of consumer information is going to be available to a marketer to create better and more personal experience for those people,” Russell explained.

 

Read more about The Big Data-Driven Business, and be sure to enter to win a free copy through the MarketingSherpa Book Giveaway.

 

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Marketing Data: Using predictive analytics to make sense of big data [More from the blogs]

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Sales-Marketing Alignment: Marketing-qualified lead lift of 25%, lead rejection reduction of 20% with data-driven marketing strategy [MarketingSherpa case study]

Social Media: 4 steps to build your personal brand using LinkedIn

June 13th, 2014 4 comments

What is personal branding?

A personal brand is an expression of a value proposition.

It is a powerful message that clearly articulates who you are, what you do and how you create value.

When applied to social media, a personal brand creates a memorable first impression that entices visitors to connect with you. When using LinkedIn, a brand message should be the professional version of your value proposition. This brand messaging should be consistent throughout your profile and capture the attention of your visitors.

Here are some tips to establishing a personal brand on LinkedIn.

 

Step #1. Personalize your URL

In LinkedIn, you have the ability to personalize your public profile URL. A personalized URL is essential to establishing your personal brand as it is not only friendlier from an SEO perspective, but it allows for people to find you more easily.

Here are the steps to personalize your LinkedIn URL:

  1. Log in to LinkedIn.
  1. Move your cursor over Profile at the top of the page and select Edit Profile.
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  1. Find your current URL under your profile picture and click Edit.
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  1. In the Your public profile URL box in the bottom right, click Customize your public profile URL.
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  1. Enter your new custom URL in the text box.
  • Your custom URL can have between five and 30 letters or numbers.
  • Do not use spaces, symbols or special characters.
  • You cannot change your URL more than three times in six months.
  • If the URL you want isn’t available, don’t give up. Try adding numbers to the end of the URL or slightly changing the text.
  1. Click Set Custom URL.

Read more…

Social Media Marketing: Which type of content is appropriate for different platforms?

April 2nd, 2013 5 comments

When I was a kid fresh out of high school, I was a little socially awkward. I didn’t exactly understand the various types of social gatherings to which I was invited to, and I consequentially always showed up dressed incorrectly, saying the wrong things and bearing the wrong gifts. We all know the guy who shows up to the baby shower with a bottle of tequila, right?

Unfortunately, a similar situation exists in marketing circles when advertisers crash the proverbial wedding of social media platforms wearing board shorts and flip flops. That metaphor may be a little dense, so follow me…

For all of the analysis currently existing about how to best leverage social networks for marketing success, we actually understand comparatively little about how the various platforms work. Frequently, despite best efforts to the contrary, marketers end up looking like the odd man out simply by taking the wrong platform-specific tones with their campaigns.

Companies simply can’t expect to behave the same at different social functions and receive an overwhelmingly good response. Since we’re on the analogy train today, I’ll try to keep the theme going.

 

Facebook is a pub crawl

People spend most of their Facebook time interacting with their “friends.” In truth, most of the “friends” with whom we interact with on Facebook are merely acquaintances.

Nevertheless, the environment yields similarities to the dynamics of a pub crawl. Surrounded by acquaintances and, yes, a few old friends, we dive into topics of various levels of seriousness ranging from the patently absurd, to the politically charged before wandering aimlessly from topic to topic for a spell.

We do so without expecting to be inundated with marketing messaging, much the same as we would expect to not be rudely interrupted by an insurance salesman while we were in the middle of telling our best frat house story from college at the local bar.

In order to market effectively on Facebook, you first have to win a seat at the table, or be interesting enough to be the topic of our slightly buzzed conversation.

 

Twitter is a speed date

You’ve got 140 characters to impress me, so you’d better make it work for you.

I might spend a few extra minutes after the last round of speed dating with a particularly interesting person (company, product, etc.), but if I do, it will be because you have done or said something particularly compelling in your allotted time slot.  Equally as fun as interviewing potential dates, I can wander sneakily around the room to see what other people are saying about me …

“That guy has impeccable taste in clothing,” says one. “He’s stunningly good looking,” says another.

Brands can do the same with Twitter, getting a better idea of how the market is responding to their product offerings. In order to market on Twitter, you have to learn how to answer the question of what you’re into right now, and answer it in a compelling enough fashion for me to care when you’re done talking.

Read more…

Social Media Marketing: Opportunity knocks worldwide

February 24th, 2012 No comments

Living in the U.S., we often use social media to reach domestic customers. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were popular here first, and that sticks with us. But as social networking expands worldwide, the size of the audience we could be reaching has multiplied.

Focusing exclusively on the U.S. would ignore 80% of the people on Facebook and Twitter, according to “It’s a Social World,” a report from comScore. On LinkedIn, it would ignore more than 60% of the audience (Note: You’ll need to provide an email address to download the report. It’s worth it.)

 

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The report is full of mindboggling stats like, “social networking captures nearly 1 out of every 5 minutes spent online worldwide,” and “social networking sites now reach 82% of the world’s online population, representing 1.2 billion users.”

If your company sells anywhere outside the U.S. (or ever hopes to), and you’re marketing through social media, then the report points to a world of opportunity. Social penetration among online audiences is above 90% in 35 of the 43 countries measured.

Read more…

Marketing Career: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketing Job Seekers – Part 4

January 27th, 2012 1 comment

We’ve reached the fourth and final post of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketing Job Seekers blog series, where we take Stephen Covey’s habits and help you practically apply them to your marketing job hunt.

Today, we’ll cover “Synergize,” which is all about working together – or as the old saying goes, “two heads are better than one.” The job search doesn’t have to be a solitary chore. This habit thrives on all that networking you’ve been building upon for years.

We’ll also discuss “Sharpen the Saw,” which wraps it all together in that the job search doesn’t begin and end with the job. It must all revolve around you, your skills and your experience. The last habit works to keep you at the top of your game, even through long gaps of unemployment.

  Read more…

Marketing Career: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketing Job Seekers – Part 3

January 13th, 2012 1 comment

This third installation of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketing Job Seekers blog post series will examine how Steven R. Covey’s fourth and fifth habits can help those looking for marketing positions (you can check out our discussions of “Be Proactive” and then “Begin with the End in Mind” and “Put First Things First” here).

“Think Win/Win” will help you decide which companies to apply to and what message to convey in your cover letters and interviews. The fifth habit, “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood,” will also help job seekers in crafting their cover letter message and resumes, but also provides tips on preparing for interviews.

 

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

In a Win/Win solution, all parties should mutually benefit and feel good about the decision.  Covey says, for any type of situation, if both parties cannot reach a Win/Win, then they should agree on ‘No Deal’ or walk away from the table.

  • A Win for the company

When I started thinking about how this habit relates to the job search, it reminded me a bit of President John F. Kennedy’s famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Instead of your country, though, ask what you can do for the company or organization to which you wish to apply. Then, relay that answer as your value proposition in both your cover letter and interview.

Some companies receive thousands of résumés for just one opening. Chances are you will not be the only applicant to meet all their minimum requirements. You must provide some added value that could push the company forward in some way.

What is your “wow factor”? Determining how the company will win with you as an employee will answer a vital question for any job seeker, “Why should my ideal employer interview me instead of other applicants?”

Inform employers exactly what you’ll bring to the table that no other candidate can. Read more…

Social Spam: Why you should clean out your LinkedIn and Facebook communities

December 16th, 2011 6 comments

The landing tab for the MarketingSherpa group on LinkedIn is called “Discussions.” Except, it was pretty much false advertising because there wasn’t a lot of discussion happening. It was mostly social spam … blatant self-promotion.

And this self-promotion went far beyond pushing products or special offers, it was promotion of blog posts, webinars, articles, etc … not quite as bad as promotional offers or the SEO phishing we get from comments here on the MarketingSherpa blog.

But still, it prevented conversation. So, Bethany Caudell, Customer Service, MECLABS, and I sat down to discuss the right approach forward. Beth manages the MarketingSherpa LinkedIn group, along with the MarketingExperiments Optimization group on LinkedIn.

 

Social media shades of gray

When it comes to managing social media communities, there are always shades of gray as to what, exactly, is appropriate. Then, once you set ground rules, the social media platform changes on you (ah, innovation).

For example, the challenge I’m talking about here only arose because LinkedIn did away with the “News” tab in its groups, leaving members with no dedicated place to post links they thought were newsworthy. So on the one hand, I did feel for them.

On the other hand, again, all of this “news” was killing the true point of the tab – discussions.

So at the end of the day we bit the bullet, sent out a warning letter about the new change, and Beth whipped out her virtual machete and started cleaning the groups of all that social spam. I expected some negative kickback, but I was extremely surprised when the feedback was overwhelming positive (in case you have to clean house yourself one day, you can see copy for the letter I sent using that link as well).

So the question arises … how do you combat social spam? How far should marketers go as policemen and women for their LinkedIn Groups, Facebook fan pages, and the like? These social media pages, originally meant for discussion, can be easily filled with junk thanks to a self-promoting audience … or simply inappropriate content.

Below you’ll find a very basic six-step process to help with your own efforts.

  Read more…

Social Media Marketing: Analytics are free and plentiful, so use them

November 15th, 2011 8 comments

For years, the debate on social media marketing centered on ROI. Marketers asked themselves “How can we measure the impact of social media?” “What’s the ROI on Twitter?” “How do we know if LinkedIn is worthwhile?”

Thankfully, those days are behind us. Data is available from tools both paid and free. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, not every marketer has taken advantage, as you can see in the chart below from Adobe and Econsultancy, which we pulled from The Social Media Data Stacks e-book.

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Five of the six metrics listed above have a greater number of marketers saying they’re important than the number of marketers tracking them. This is like saying it’s important to eat right and exercise while eating chili cheese fries and canceling your gym membership. It just doesn’t make sense.

But don’t worry — we have you covered. Here is a list of free tools you can use to start measuring each social media metric.

- Read more…

Marketing Career: How to get your next job in marketing

October 14th, 2011 6 comments

Sure, the economy is a bit uncertain. But companies are still looking for high-performing marketing professionals. I know because they post these job openings almost daily on our marketing job listings page.

In fact, I recently came across a shocking bit of data in The Wall Street Journal. From my experience, jobs in advertising and marketing tend to be the most sensitive in an uncertain economy. In a recession, most CEOs seem to cut the marketing budget as step #1 (Step #12, corporate jet).

However, according to SimplyHired, marketing managers is “where the work is,” as it’s listed as one of the occupations listed as having many openings.

I’m not personally familiar with this metric, but marketing managers is listed as having 108 job openings for every 1,000 people employed. That is much more than the “few openings” for mental-health counselors and preschool teachers, with only two openings per 1,000 employed. It’s even more than registered nurses, which I always see recruitment ads for and is widely regarded as desperately in need of more talented people (82 per 1,000).

Intuit is one such company hiring marketing professionals right now. So, I sat down with Leslie Mason, a Senior Recruiter at the computer software company, to help give you an inside scoop about what companies are looking for when they fill these plentiful marketing job openings.

Read more…

Find Some Consulting Success with LinkedIn

April 23rd, 2008 No comments

It can take a long time and lots of experience before you are “ready” to become a consultant. Even then it might not be right for you.

That’s the big takeaway I found while researching the characteristics of successful marketing and PR consultants for a MarketingSherpa article and quiz. But there are other traits that should be mentioned. Read more…

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