Posts Tagged ‘social media marketing’

Mail-to-Order Marketing Takeaways: 5 lessons to be learned from subscription boxes

October 9th, 2015 No comments

Who doesn’t love the feeling of seeing a package on their doorstep? While the mailbox is reserved for bills and sales flyers, a box on the front porch usually means a present.

The popularity of subscription boxes has allowed for millions of customers to enjoy this consumerism bliss bi-weekly, monthly or even quarterly.

Subscription boxes are the ultimate way for consumers to enjoy products. The boxes are delivered on some sort of schedule, filled with products the customer is interested in and usually have some element of surprise.

There seems to be a subscription box for every category of shopper — food, pet supplies, “nerd gear” and even apocalypse prep. The diversity of the boxes available speaks to the widespread popularity among consumers. However, not every company has the interest or ability to expand into the subscription box space. This poses a question: What can we learn from the success of subscription boxes?

To answer that question, we’ve compiled five takeaways from boxes that marketers in any industry can utilize to promote their product.


Takeaway #1. Be surprising, but don’t get crazy

Customers who subscribe to boxes have a general idea of what types of products will be mailed to them. For example, a box member knows that every month he’ll get a t-shirt, an accessory of some type and a small gadget.

However, every month there is a surprise element — the products that will actually make up the box will be a surprise upon arrival. That means our example box member doesn’t know that this month the t-shirt will have a comics theme or that the accessory will be a pair of sunglasses.

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B2B External Communications: How IBM conveys the value of complex products, spotlights innovative employees and entrusts employees with social media

October 6th, 2015 No comments

B2B companies often face a struggle with communications to the outside world. Regularly, products or technologies are shrouded in secrecy with an occasional blimp on social media.

At &THEN 2015, Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, IBM, sat down with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, to discuss how B2B companies can have a voice in a consumer world.

Simply, Jon talked about how to communicate brands and products, how to establish authority and credibility among employees and how employees can become company advocates on social media.

You can watch the full interview with Jon Iwata here:


How to communicate brand and products to the world

Although IBM is primarily a B2B company, for many it remains a household name in technology, innovation and computer science.

“Even though we are a B2B company, we want to be a company that is relevant to millions and millions of people,” Jon said. “You can call them consumers; you can call them future IBMers, future business decision makers, shareholders, neighbors.”

“We still want to be known; recognized; frankly, admired; and relevant to people,” Jon said. IBM is an early innovator in taking some of these complex B2B technologies and communicating them through more B2C means.

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Social Media Marketing: 4 steps to identifying the ideal social media platform for your company

September 15th, 2015 2 comments

Recently, I spoke with a graduate business class about social media marketing and how the MECLABS’ heuristic can be used to optimize social media ads and pages. The MECLABS Institute is MarketingSherpa’s parent company.

However, the biggest question coming from the class was which social media platforms would be the best to invest in.

How does a marketer determine where to place their efforts? Casting a wide net might seem like the best answer, but that typically results in an unnecessary waste of time and money.

The key is to identify which social media platforms will be conducive to your relationship with consumers.

Below are four steps to help you determine where you should invest on social media.


Step #1. Address consumer value proposition

At the foundation of every marketing effort is the value proposition. Once you can securely address the question “If I am your ideal customer, why should I purchase from you?” then you can move into analyzing your data to better understand this consumer.

Everything from age, gender, location, interests and behaviors can provide essential clues to which social media platform will perform best for you.

In addition to understanding your consumer, you need to understand your business and its goals. For example, let’s look at a couple of the dilemmas the graduate students were investigating:

  1. Local pub
    1. Do we want to reach potential patrons outside of our area?
    2. Do we want to foster an environment of tighter-knit groups of regulars?
  2. Health club/gym
    1. Do we want to generate fresh leads?
    2. Do we want to market services and products to current customers?

By answering these questions, you should be able to narrow down your choice of channels to a manageable list of appropriate sites.

For example, a gym looking to generate membership leads is unlikely to have maximum success on LinkedIn. A pub wanting to create an online “fan” space for regulars might have better luck with Facebook than Yelp.

Irish Pub Facebook


Step #2. Review previous campaigns

With an understanding of your customer and your goal, now would be a good time to review campaigns and tests you have run in the past.

What have consumers — specifically those you desire to target — responded to (both positively and negatively)?

Planet Fitness Instagram


Based on your goals and target audience, you should think about what makes sense to run from a customer lens.

For example, if you own a local pub, does it really make sense for you to invest significant resources in a Tumblr account? Testing will tell but it may make more sense, from a consumer standpoint, to invest in a Twitter account that allows you to share specials and events.


Step #3. Invest in content creation

Blog posts, specials, images, events, meet-ups, products, background — the content you can share with a social media audience is nearly endless.

Not only does your content need to be relevant and interesting to consumers, it also needs to be appropriate for the platform. By appropriate, I mean sensible.

For example, you own a gym and have designed a coupon targeting potential new customers. Which platforms would a gym coupon meant to generate leads be most appropriate on? Likely Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would do well because of the option for current customers to share and the ability of the post to show an image of the coupon.

Yelp might also perform well for consumers doing research on local gyms. However, platforms such as Pinterest and LinkedIn might make marketing a coupon for new consumers more difficult than necessary to achieve results.


Step #4. Connect with your customers

Ultimately, the determining factor in identifying the ideal social media platform comes down to connecting with your consumers.

  • Will my ideal customer find value in connecting with my Facebook/Instagram/etc. page?
  • Do I have the capabilities to invest in multiple ways on multiple platforms?
  • Is the content I have available (or the ability to create) appropriate on these platforms and for my consumers?
  • Am I able to achieve the desired results through this platform?

Although I wish I could recommend a specific platform for you, I can’t. However, I can guide you to making a better choice.

Let me know in the comments how your social media campaigns are performing. Have you had success on some platforms and total failure on others? What do you think made for a successful or failed social media campaign?


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MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 — At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, February 22-24

Social Media Marketing: Over 120% increase in daily activity for app due to visual social media campaign [from MarketingSherpa]

Social Media Marketing: Small sporting goods store sees 1,100% ROI increase with Facebook coupon [from MarketingSherpa]

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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Amazon Prime Day: 12 quick takeaways from Amazon’s magnificent train wreck

August 4th, 2015 1 comment

For those of us interested in marketing, Amazon’s first ever “Prime Day” celebration could not have been more fun to experience. Intended as a special shopping day for members of Amazon’s $99/year Prime service, Amazon had practically promised ecommerce Armageddon leading up to the 24-hour event, with “More deals than Black Friday!”

As the morning unraveled, however, Prime Day quickly devolved into spectacle as the buying public hammered Amazon for what they perceived as lackluster deals.

Despite customer complaints, Prime Day was by most metrics a staggering success for Amazon. According to online retail tracker ChannelAdvisor, Amazon’s sales were up 93% in the United States year-over-year, and 53% in Europe. 34.4 million items were sold across Prime-eligible countries, shattering Black Friday records, and hundreds of thousands of new users signed up for Amazon Prime throughout the event.

When planning our promotions or campaigns, here are 12 quick tips we can extract from both the failures and successes of the now-infamous Prime Day.

Happy Prime Day! More Deals Than Black Friday (Garage Sale Meme)

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Creating a Viral Environment to Serve Your Customers

June 23rd, 2015 No comments

The impulse to share something new with someone else is a natural and universal trait.

In the age of the Internet, why are some things shared while others are not? What causes a piece of content to go viral? To help answer this, Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, sat down with Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 to learn how an email marketer can create a viral environment. 


Word-of-mouth is extremely important in creating a viral environment. You have a subscriber list but to grow that list you have to get people to share your content. We all know word-of-mouth marketing matters. What’s less clear is how to get it.

There is a science to word-of-mouth, and the key is to think about it internally and externally while keeping the customer at the center. Too often we find ourselves focusing on the product — but how in-depth do we go thinking about the users? What drives them? What is that underlying behavior that triggers them to share content?

After spending 15 years studying the science of why things catch on, Jonah Berger developed the S.T.E.P.P.S. framework, which is a series of psychological factors that drive and trigger the sharing mechanism.

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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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Social Media and Email Integration Predictions for 2014: Were they right?

December 5th, 2014 No comments

At Email Summit 2014, marketers were asked: what do you think the relationship between social media and email will be in 2014?

Now that Email Summit 2015 is right around the corner, let’s take a look back a few of those predictions:


One-way message turned two-way conversation

Dave Sierk

“For the first time, I’m becoming an optimist about what the capabilities are going to be,” said Dave Sierk, Email Strategy and Analytics, Dell.

As a self-described pessimist, email, it seemed, allowed for one-way communication only.

However, with the rise of social media, Dave explained, “We’re getting pretty pumped about how we can make social a two-way street,” and turn social media followers into email subscribers.



Slow social adoption as brands transition into the realm

Shirley Salmeron


“Email isn’t going away – it’s not dead … but we haven’t gotten to the point where we have the adoption rates in social media on both the user side and marketing or company side,” explained Shirley Salmeron, Northeast Sales Director, Teradata.

She described the experiences as “siloed,” and although they might flow together in the future, as of 2014, “[marketers] haven’t bridged the gap.”


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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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