Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Inbound Marketing: How to turn your customers into brand enthusiasts

November 6th, 2015 No comments

KontrolFreek has taken a “very organic” approach to building its base of customer brand enthusiasts and ambassadors, which it calls FreekNation.

Ashish Mistry, President and CEO, KontrolFreek, sat down with me at IRCE 2015 in Chicago, and discussed how the company was able to work within pockets of influence in its digital marketing to turn customers into fans.

The key to how the marketing team has been able to do this is through a number of different avenues in its digital space.


Authentically develop relationships with customers

“One of the things we realized early on was that this was going to be the core of our marketing,” Ashish said.

The team thought email would be one of the main marketing drivers, he added, but what has been the most interesting development, from his perspective, is to see how important the social role of these brand enthusiasts has been for the customer base.

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Tips for Incorporating GIFs in Email

November 3rd, 2015 4 comments

I am a serial email subscriber. If I think there’s even a chance that a company’s subscription list will provide me with discounts, fashion tips, insightful news stories or even just a joke every now and then, I will most likely click that sign up button.

This email addiction paired with my experience reporting for MarketingSherpa’s Email beat has transformed my promotional Gmail folder into a nest of virtual hoarding. But it has also given me insight into the latest trends in email marketing.

One trend that seems to overwhelm my inbox is adding GIFs to emails. If you’re unfamiliar, a GIF (commonly pronounced “JIF,” like the peanut butter) is a short animated graphic without sound that typically replays the same visual sequence on a loop.

In the Internet age where memes and GIFs seem to reign supreme, adding these fun graphics seems like an engaging and relatable strategy for companies to employ. However, as I’ve learned sifting through my inbox, there is a proper and an improper way to incorporate graphic animations.

Read on for a quick guide on the do’s and don’ts of GIFing while emailing.


Use a GIF when: Flat images would detract from a specific message

For the majority of emails, using an image that relates to its content is enough of an illustration. However, there are instances where using a flat image actually detracts from your overall message. Take a promotional campaign from Dell, for example.

The computer company wanted to send out an email advertising its new Dell XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook: a laptop with a hinge design that allowed it to transform into a tablet. While Dell could use flat images of the device in both computer and tablet mode, the company decided to instead use a GIF, showing the device’s transformation. This illustrated the full capabilities of the product in a fun way.



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

September 15th, 2015 4 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.

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21 Subreddits Every Digital Marketer Should Subscribe To

July 24th, 2015 No comments

The best way for anyone to stay on top of any news, events and information around almost any topic imaginable in the 21st century is Reddit. Hands down. Most digital marketers know this already so I won’t waste too much time proving the point here. If you don’t know this, it’s okay. Here’s a five minute synopsis to get you up to speed.


The real trouble with Reddit, even for marketers who are familiar with the platform, is its unfriendly UX and search feature.

It’s very difficult to find the subreddits you should be following.

To help give you a head start with finding marketing subreddits, here’s a list of 21 you should probably be subscribed to if you’re not already …

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Social Media Marketing: How Lilly Pulitzer, Kahlua and Neiman Marcus use brand influencers

Customers have long been wary of content sponsored by brands. This is probably because marketers have been trying to sneak it past them for years — the notorious “Sponsored Content” label, buried at the bottom in tiny font.

The marketers from Lilly Pulitzer, Kahlua and Neiman Marcus — which have all been previously featured in MarketingSherpa case studies — found ways to be transparent about collaborating with bloggers and vloggers to promote their brands.

The brands were also able to approach this content in such fun, creative and colorful ways that consumers didn’t really care the content was company-generated, causing customers to engage regardless of the source material. Read on to learn how to create sponsored content that actually interests audiences.


Bringing bloggers along for the (bike) ride with Lilly Pulitzer

Every year, Lilly Pulitzer has a brand theme for all its marketing materials and events. This year, it is “Spill the Juice.”

Spill the Juice


#Spillthejuice, the hashtag for the year, goes back to the brand’s origin story, which is the life of Lilly Pulitzer herself.

Lilly Pulitzer was born into New York society and “could’ve lived a fancy life of galas and soirées and black ties and gloves. But she … was a real rule breaker,” Eleni Tavantzis, Senior Manager of Social Media Marketing and Public Relations, Lilly Pulitzer, said, adding that in her early twenties, Pulitzer eloped to Palm Beach, where her husband’s family owned citrus groves.

She eventually started a juice stand using citrus from the grove, and Pulitzer created her first shift dress because she wanted a wild print that would hide the juice stains on her dress — hence the phrase, “Spill the Juice.”

The brand frequently collaborates with fashion bloggers, according to Eleni. To pull the brand’s theme and brand influencers together, the team puts together trips to create powerful brand content.

“We’ve done two this year, two Lilly Spill The Juice influencer trips where we bring some of our favorite fashion bloggers and editors to Palm Beach with us to really experience what Lilly’s Palm Beach was like, which was not stuffy or fancy or full of rules,” Eleni said.

During these influencer trips, the marketers create a lifestyle out of brand ideals and have bloggers live it out — all while wearing Lilly Pulitzer, of course.

Spill the Juice Brand Influencers

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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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Marketing Careers: 5 sites to develop and enhance your skills with free online courses

March 31st, 2015 No comments

Marketing is continually changing and evolving, and nothing has propelled that more than the Internet.

This means marketers must grow with the industry. According to Formstack, those in digital marketing now need seven skills beyond the norm to succeed:career key

  • Analytics
  • Social media
  • Data visualization
  • Technical skills
  • Teamwork
  • Newsjacking
  • Soft skills


While the digital age has created a need for new skills, it has also enabled marketers to learn those skills with the click of a button, without going back to college.

It’s possible to learn these skills through books, blog posts, podcasts and more, all with little to no cost commitment. There are also moderate to expensive online courses available. However, for those who might want a more structured or interactive learning experience without the cost, we have a few options for you to check out.

Read on to learn about five different sites that can help expand your skills in a variety of areas.


Google Analytics Academy

Skill: Analytics

Google offers free online courses to improve analytics skills in its Analytics Academy. It’s an at-your-own-pace format. You can watch lessons from Google’s experts, then test your knowledge through quizzes and practices exercises. They have also created a learning community with course forums so you can engage with other students and experts.

After you’ve mastered the courses, you can earn Google Analytics Individual Qualification by taking the IQ test, which is now free of charge.



Skill: Coding

Codeacademy’s mission is “teaching the world how to code.” For no cost, users can learn to code in multiple programming languages:

  • HTML and CSS
  • Javascript
  • jQuery
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • PHP

It also offers courses on to make a website, an interactive website and a Rails Application, where students build their own versions of popular websites — Airbnb, Flipboard and Etsy.

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Social Media: Understanding Pinterest consumers

March 13th, 2015 1 comment

“The only reason any brand exists in the first place is because it helps people do something in their lives,”  Kevin Knight, Head of Agency and Brand Strategy, Pinterest said.

In his session at The Digital Marketing Conference — Adobe Summit, Kevin spoke about what makes Pinterest unique to marketers and brands in the social media sphere.

Mainly, unlike other social sites, it’s kind of a loner.

Not in the standing alone in the corner at the school dance kind of a way, but in a “Best All Around” superlative kind of way: independent, and not only party-planning the dance, but countless other activities and interests as well.

“They’re using it for themselves,” Kevin said, adding that many users don’t follow a lot of people, because they using the platform to fulfill their own needs, not to impress anyone else.


What is a Pin?

“Art and copy, as old as advertising itself,” Kevin said.

What is a Pin


Who is on Pinterest?

  • 70M+ monthly users in the U.S.
  • 40% of women in the U.S. are on Pinterest
  • 75% of usage is on a mobile device
  • One-third of millennials are on Pinterest

*Based on comScore Sept 2014, desktop and mobile, U.S. users, and internal Pinterest data

Those 70 million monthly users utilize Pinterest to discover, save and then do, Kevin said. Over 30 billion pins ave been categorized by people into more than 750 million boards, and this is a highly personal interaction to them.

Pinners are sharing their interests, hobbies, hopes and goals, creating the narrative of their future through pinning actions.

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Digital Marketing: Quick insights from Adobe Summit on perfecting the art and science of marketing

March 11th, 2015 No comments

From the opening General Session at Adobe Digital Marketing Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, the speakers reiterated, in one way or another, the thesis statement made by Brad Rencher, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Adobe:

Consistent and continuous experiences only happen when marketing goes beyond marketing, and the reality is that brands have to earn it every day, with each experience. With each touch point, we either win or we lose.

Marketers need to fight every day to be personal with consumers — this isn’t a plane you can reach or a level to be achieved. It’s a consistent struggle won through consistently building up small interactions.

If those word choices — fight, struggle — sound harsh, forgive me. With Adobe Summit’s gigantic main stage, complete with three towering screens, impeccable design and A/V feats, it’s easy to lean into the theatrical feel of the event.



Digital marketing is certainly not real war or strife, but each speaker takes the stage not unlike the speech in “Patton,” commanding attendees to work for a better (marketing) world. The marketers here begin to feel like foot soldiers who believe they can engage customers with genuine interactions.

These aren’t actions savvy brands should be shirking from because they’re difficult, but running toward. There are an overwhelming number of opportunities to understand your customers in digital marketing.

These three takeaways are just a start.

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