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Marketing 101: What is (particular about) digital marketing?

June 30th, 2021
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

 

Marketing 101: What is (particular about) digital marketing?

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

Digital marketing is the communication of value to a potential customer through their computer, tablet, smartphone or similar device to help that customer perceive the value of the product or service. The goal of digital marketing is to earn a “yes” (also known as a conversion) to the organization’s “ask” (also known as a call-to-action). That ask may be the ultimate conversion an organization seeks to achieve – often a sale – or an intermediate ask like signing up for an email list or joining a webinar. Copywriting and design are critical to this value communication.

Digital marketing, also known as online marketing, is often contrasted against traditional marketing, also known as offline marketing. While offline marketing has occurred since the dawn of humanity, it’s rise really occurred during the start of the era of mass production caused by industrialization and mass media. Marketers were needed to generate demand for this new, abundant supply.

Digital marketing’s rise has been driven by the mass adoption of the internet and the associated increase in the use of digital devices.

If you are searching for the definition of digital marketing, you likely want to understand this juxtaposition – in other words, what is particular about digital marketing as compared to traditional marketing. We’ll provide a few particular aspects, but first, some word usage examples.

Word usage examples

To put the term “digital marketing” in context, here are some examples of how we have used the term in our content:

And our very first mention of “digital marketing” on February 26, 2008 (there were earlier mentions of similar phrases like “internet marketing”) came in a job title:

“However, Mikael Blido, head of Digital Marketing, Sony Ericsson, knows that…” from How Sony Ericsson Markets (In)directly to Consumers: Secrets Behind Their Online Strategy

Now let’s look at what is particular about digital marketing as compared to traditional marketing.

A/B testing is cheaper, quicker and easier in digital marketing

Before the rise of digital marketing, traditional marketers could split test direct mail and other direct marketing. They would mail one marketing message to a randomly selected group of potential customers, another marketing message to another randomly selected group, and see which performs better.

They would have to print multiple versions, have multiple calls to action (for example, two phone numbers), wait weeks or longer for the results to come in, and manually tabulate the results.

Digital marketing allows inexpensive, quick, and easy testing on a variety of channels – digital advertising networks, social media advertising, email platforms, or on websites with the help of testing software.

Since testing can help marketers improve results by better understanding their customers, digital marketing can allow more marketers to understand more customers quicker.

When Gartner’s GetApp brand surveyed 238 leaders at startups and small businesses about marketing technology, respondents cited A/B testing as the most effective software tool in their toolkit – 62% found A/B testing tools very effective.

“A/B testing may take a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of things you can discover business insights that help you increase conversions and—ultimately—your bottom line. Or, it may allow you to fail fast and move on,” said Amanda Kennedy, Senior Content Writer, GetApp.

Here are a few free resources you might find helpful if you’re looking for best practices for starting and/or measuring A/B tests for marketing experimentation:

A/B Testing in Digital Marketing: Example of four-step hypothesis framework

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Creating an A/B test

Unlock the Power of Your A/B Testing Program

Email Marketing Optimization: How you can create a testing environment to improve your email results

Get Your Free Test Discovery Tool to Help Log all the Results and Discoveries from Your Company’s Marketing Tests

Prioritize your marketing experiments with the Test Planning Scenario Tool

Digital marketing is less expensive in general

Not only is A/B testing less expensive in digital marketing versus offline marketing, pretty much everything digital is less expensive (well, everything except digital marketing salaries).

Email marketing is generally less expensive than direct mail. Video pre-roll ads are generally less expensive than TV commercials. And while rates are increasing as competition increases, online display ads are generally less expensive than print advertisements in newspapers and magazines.

Here are a few free resources if you need help with digital media buying and budgeting:

Reprioritize Your Marketing Spend and Transform Your Results: Learn a radical new framework

Advertising Chart: How digital ad placement strategy affects customer response

Marketing Budget Charts: B2B customer experience investments (plus 4 budgeting tips)

Advice From Three Digital Marketing Experts on Building Your Budget

It is easier to track the ROI of digital marketing

Department store owner John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

It is notoriously difficult to track the ROI (return on investment) of offline marketing. For example, you could put a coupon in a newspaper advertisement with a unique code and count how many times the coupon is redeemed (or even, the exact amount of sales the coupon and ad secured). But what about people who saw the ad and aren’t coupon clippers? Or even more complex, what about people who saw the ad, had a positive brand impression, and then your digital ad stuck out to them and they clicked and purchased? How can you know what role the newspaper ad played?

While there is certainly branding in digital marketing, most digital marketing has a clear and direct call-to-action, and marketers can track from a click on that call-to-action and see how customers performed throughout the funnel up to a purchase, helping them measure the ROI of the digital ad.

Still, ROI tracking is far from perfect in digital marketing as well. If your company has a long and complex sales funnel, you have to decide how to measure ROI. Should the ROI be credited to the initial ad they clicked on that got them to download a whitepaper and signup for your email list nine months ago? Or the email they clicked on today that lead them to finally purchase? Or a combination? (This general topic is known as marketing attribution, and first-touch, multi-touch, and last-touch attribution models specifically).

What about if a customer reads a review of a product on your review site, but doesn’t click the affiliate link? Perhaps they purchase your product in a physical store or simply go back to your ecommerce store later to purchase. Are you properly attributing revenue to the review site?

If you are interested in tracking the ROI of your digital marketing, here are some free resources that can help:

Marketing Attribution Chart: Data from more than 500,000 customer buying journeys

Marketing 101: What is lead attribution?

Improve Attribution: 8 Steps to Measure the Impact of Your Marketing Efforts

Ecommerce Research Chart: ROI on marketing spend

Social Media: 4 simple steps to calculate social media ROI

It is easier to reach the niche group of people who can be best served by your product

Marketers typically call this targeting. But who wants to be targeted? Targeting implies you are about to be attacked.

So let’s call it – reaching the people your brand can best serve. That might be a small niche. A giant group. Or an amalgamation of personas that together comprise a large group of people.

This is possible in offline marketing to some extent. If you only serve a particular city, you can buy an ad in the local newspaper. Or if you are looking for outdoor enthusiasts, you can advertise in Outdoor or Sierra magazine.

But digital marketing allows for a much deeper and more granular focus for your marketing messages. You can build your own email list of people who are interested in your product. You can host a sweepstakes and attract people who are interested in your giveaway prize (for example, a trip to an organic resort could attract people interested in buying organic milk). You can only serve up your advertising to people who take a certain action, such as search for a specific term or put a specific product in a shopping cart.

For example, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) was able to generate 2,555 leads from a $6,500 ad spend on Facebook by using specific parameters that focused the ads around a lookalike audience (people who had similar characteristics to BCAN’s current community) along with specific demographic parameters of people who are considered ‘at risk’ for bladder cancer diagnosis, such as firefighters and Vietnam veterans (you can read more in Quick Case Study #4 in Anti-Selfish Marketing Case Studies: 4 specific examples of focusing on what the customer gets).

This ability to reach a niche group of people may get harder and more expensive though. As customer privacy concerns increase, governments along with major corporations that make operating systems and devices are putting limits on tracking customer behavior.

If you are interested in reaching a specific group of people with your digital marketing, here are some free resources:

Online Behavioral Advertising: How to benefit from targeted ads in a world concerned with privacy

The Benefits of Combining Content Marketing and Segmentation

Email Segmentation: Finish Line’s automation initiative lifts email revenue 50%

How to Tailor Ads to Demographic-based Preferences & 5 Tips for Motivating Mature Consumers

Advertising Research Chart: Customer perception of what makes a travel ad effective, by age group

Email Marketing: Groupon’s segmentation strategies across 115 million subscribers

Local SEO: How geotargeting keywords brought 333% more revenue

You have many opportunities to learn about the customer

While it plays a role of some of the other aspects of digital marketing I’ve already discussed, data deserves its own distinct section as well.

With A/B testing, you are building an experiment to learn how specific changes you make affect customer behavior.

But even if you don’t build A/B tests, it’s almost impossible not to get some data from your digital marketing. Even better if you proactively set up your campaigns to record the data that will be most insightful about the customer.

With offline marketing, you may be able to collect data if a person responds to the ad. For example, if they send you the postcard you included in a magazine or call the phone number on your newspaper ad.

With digital marketing, the data is far more extensive. You can granularly track many behaviors customers taken, even how they scroll on your website or where they hover their mouse.

While we’re on the subject, data is a very buzz-y word that seems big and scary to the non-analytical marketer. It can be complex, for sure. However, data simply gives us an opportunity to better learn about and serve real human beings on the other side of the mouse – the people we call current and potential customers.

If you are interested in digital marketing data, here are some free resources:

The Data Pattern Analysis: 3 ways to turn info into insight

Digital Analytics: How to use data to tell your marketing story

Get Your Free Simplified MECLABS Institute Data Pattern Analysis Tool to Discover Opportunities to Increase Conversion

Digital marketing is less trusted

We’re on a roll discussing all of the bonafides of digital marketing, so I hate to be a Debbie Downer. But if we’re going to discuss what is particular about digital marketing…let’s be honest. At least one thing that is particular is negative.

Digital marketing is generally less trusted than traditional marketing.

We asked 1,200 consumers: “In general which type of advertising channels do you trust more when you want to make a purchase decision?” Prints ads ranked first, with 82% of Americans saying they trusted advertisements in newspapers and magazines when making a purchase decision. But it goes beyond just that one channel. All of the top six most trusted media were traditional, and all of the seven least trusted media were digital.

You can see the data for yourself in Marketing Chart: Which advertising channels consumers trust most and least when making purchases.

If you need help instilling trust in your digital marketing, here are some free resources:

Anxiety: Use privacy as a competitive advantage

The Marketer and Buyer Anxiety: Three ways to counter anxiety in the purchase funnel

The Importance of Building Trust: What 2,400 consumers say about trust in the conversion process

The Trust Trial: Could you sell an iChicken?

Four Quick Case Studies of Anxiety-Reducing Marketing

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

If you are interested in digital marketing, you might also like…

B2C Marketing: 65% lift in organic traffic from in-house digital marketing transition

A Simple Guide for the Busy Marketer: Using data from online marketing and web analytics tools

Social Media Marketing: Doubleday combines geocaching and Facebook to boost sales 23% for John Grisham book

If you are interested in entry-level marketing content, you might also like…

Marketing 101: What is source/medium?

Marketing 101: What is PPC in marketing?

Marketing 101: What is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)?

The Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing: 53 articles (and 1 video) to help with onboarding

Call-to-Action Optimization: 132% increase in clickthrough from changing four simple words

February 14th, 2018
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Think of all the money you invest in attracting customers before they even get to the call-to-action … buying media or traffic, designing websites and landing pages, crafting just the right offer.

If you can squeeze just a bit higher conversion rate out of your calls-to-action (CTAs), it increases the ROI on the rest of your marketing investment.

And that’s just a few percent. What about more than doubling the conversion of that CTA? Without the need for any IT or development resources?

A recent experiment MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) ran with a Research Partner did just that. Let’s walk through the simple word changes and what you can learn from them as you craft your own calls-to-action and button copy.

Experiment design

This experiment was a landing page test that encouraged people to get a physical copy of a textbook mailed to them. These people are decision makers. They choose a product that will lead to significant product sales from others. By getting the sample in these decision makers’ hands, they are more likely to select this product and, therefore, drive significant sales.

The experiment had a control and two treatments. There were several differences between the control and the treatments including changing the image, headline and call-to-action. Both treatments improved clickthrough rate (CTR), with the second treatment generating a 277% increase in CTR at a 99% level of confidence.

That clickthrough increase carried its way through the funnel to an increase for the final conversion as well — an 82% increase in conversion for Treatment 2 at a 99% level of confidence.

But here’s where it gets more interesting. While the team changed several variables between the control and the treatments, they only changed a single variable between Treatment 1 and Treatment 2 — the call-to-action — to discover the impact of the CTA wording.

Read more…

Customer-Centric Marketing: How transparency translates into trust

May 23rd, 2014
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Transparency is something that companies usually shy away from. From the customer’s perspective, that product or service just appears for them – simple and easy.

Marketing has a history of touting a new “miracle” or “wonder” product and holding up the veil between brand and consumer.

michael-norton-summitHowever, in Wednesday’s Web Optimization Summit 2014 featured presentation, Harvard Associate Professor Michael Norton brought up a different idea, speaking about how hard work should be worn as a badge of honor.

“Think about showing your work to customers as a strategy,” he said, coining it “The Ikea Strategy.”

The idea behind this is that when people make things themselves, they tend to overvalue them – think of all the DIY projects around the house. In the same vein, when people comprehend the hard work that has gone into a product, they are more likely to value it.

Michael gave the example of a locksmith he had spoken to as part of his research to understand the psychology of people who work with their hands. This man was a master locksmith, Michael said, and he started off by talking about how he used to be terrible at his job – he would go to a house, use the wrong tools, take an inordinate amount of time and sweat over the job.

Gradually, he became a master at his trade, and could fix the same problem quickly with only one tool. It didn’t matter that his work was superior because of his experience, his customers became infuriated when he handed over the bill. Even though the result was the same, the customers hadn’t seen the effort.

Independent of the service being delivered, Michael explained, we value the labor people put in.

“We like to see people working on our behalf,” he said.

He asked two questions on how to apply this in the marketing sphere:

  • Can this be applied to the online environment as well?
  • Can this be built into websites so people feel like these interfaces are working for them?

A counterintuitive mindset must be applied in this area. In many cases, rapid service or response comes second to transparency. Michael spoke about how his team ran a test where they purposefully slowed down the searc results for a travel site by 30 seconds.

“30 seconds of waiting online is like … 11 days. It’s an enormously long time,” he said.

But slowing something down like a search, he continued, makes people feel like the algorithm was working hard for them.

As surprising as it sounds, more customers picked the delayed search travel site because they perceived that it was working harder for them, he said.

Read more…

Social Media: How to turn customers into brand advocates

April 11th, 2014
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For many marketers, user-generated content is the upcycling opportunity of a lifetime. It’s free content created by customers turned brand advocates with a margin of credibility money can’t buy.

Sadly, this content often goes to waste in marketing, or worse, unnoticed altogether.

The challenge, however, for savvy marketers like Evin Catlett, Digital Marketing Manager, Amer Sports, often rests in finding strategic ways to repurpose content effectively.

In a recent MarketingSherpa webinar, Evin explained how Amer Sports was launching its first U.S. Instagram campaign in support of a new product. According to Evin, the launch would also focus on the overall goal of increasing social media engagement with U.S. consumers.

“We didn’t have a ton of reach,” Evin explained, “And while we did have really strong engagement, it was with a very small community.” 

social-media-engagement

 

Before Evin began, she realized one important element to the campaign was the need to inspire social media interaction with customers.

invitation-to-inspire

 

To help accomplish this, the team brought in key brand athletes to have a fairly robust part in interacting on social media with the product, and invited the social media community to do the same.

suunto-ambitions-instagram

Read more…

Web Optimization: How AARP Services boosted renewals by increasing usability

March 11th, 2014
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Eyeglasses launched across the table. A focus group member was irritated, experiencing difficulty reading the AARP Services website.

“‘I can’t see this content because you’ve got a grey background!” the member complained. “There is no place for me to increase the font size!”

This was just one of the observations that helped drive the optimization of the AARP Services website, making it more user-friendly for its senior demographic. At Optimization Summit 2013, two members of the company’s team shared AARP Services’ secrets to success.

In this excerpt of the presentation “How AARP Services increased referrals and membership renewals,” we learned how focus groups helped fuel the first test’s goal – make the site easy to read and share.

 

Preeti Sood, Digital Channel Manager, AARP Services, admitted that she was initially opposed to using a focus group. However, by observing frustrations of customers, AARP Services was able to use data from a focus group to convince management to perform additional testing around readability and social media sharing.

This short clip showcases how changing the background color, font size and placement of the “email” button resulted in a 12% decrease in page bounce rate and 7% increase in social sharing – all beginning with information collected from a focus group.

Gaurva Bhatia, VP of Digital Strategy, AARP, also said he was skeptical about focus groups, especially given the subject matter at hand. He thought that website visitors could easily just change font size through their browsers. Why waste time and effort on this? After witnessing the frustrations from the focus group, it became clear that this was an area that needed priority when it came to testing.

This left Guarva with a valuable lesson.

“Listen to the members,” he explained. “Test what they’re telling you versus assuming about them and doing what you think is right.”

Watch the full free session from Optimization Summit 2013 to discover:

  • How AARP Services adopted a “teach and learn” culture
  • The benefits that can come from focus groups
  • Items to keep in mind with the “newspaper generation”
  • And much more

  Read more…

Transparent Marketing: 3 marketing lessons from the fast-food industry

December 13th, 2013
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Quick, convenient and cost-efficient are three words some marketers hope customers will find synonymous with the fast-food industry.

Deceptive, unrealistic and way too expensive seems to be where conversation about fast food goes with the family and friends that I’ve asked for their thoughts.

Clearly, there is a Hatfield-McCoy relationship between Marketing’s hope and customer perception, but does it have to be this way?

Absolutely not.

Some fast-food chains have started to step away from tactics perceived as nefarious to build brand equity on unique offerings, transparency and customer testimonials.

Before you start thinking of where to go for your next meal, let’s take a look at three restaurant chains that have embraced a brave new world of marketing and what we can learn from them.

 

Much more than a burrito, it’s an upsell

As a frequent flyer to Tex-Mex chains, I have grown skeptical of other burrito-related establishments. I’ve tried plenty of them and the experience is often heartache and, at times, heartburn.

However, one Tex-Mex chain has cleverly strategized a way to increase the likelihood of an upsell with its menu design.

 

Qdoba Mexican Grill has a unique menu presentation. Many competitor menus start with a choice of meat and continue with the ingredients that follow the assembly line.

So what is the difference?

This is a classic example of passive versus active engagement. Offering all of the choices upfront creates a passive experience in that, “I’m just thinking of what I don’t want on my burrito.”

 

Qdoba, however, starts its menu conversation with signature flavors and customization, which puts my focus on actively experimenting with different combinations to find the burrito of dreams.

I can also choose vegan and gluten-free options, which is a smart move as the paradigm of healthy eating continues to shift toward a lifestyle of calorie consciousness or for those who require vegan or gluten-free menu options for health reasons.

So how does this relate to a Web conversion?

Take it from Qdoba, don’t be afraid to show off something signature with your offering. Your site should display its value in a way that is suggestive and not submissive. Promoting one item more than another only bothers those who believe in symmetry.

Also, don’t be afraid to engage customers for the upsell.

 

Why yes, I would like fries from Sugar City, Idaho

Another chain that is helping you decide what to have for lunch at 9:30 a.m. is Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

This establishment utilizes a small menu, a variety of condiments, fries made from Idaho’s finest potatoes, and all the free peanuts you can eat.

What Five Guys offers is a lesson in transparency.

Customers can see their food being made and can be rest assured that their order is fresh with all of the right toppings. This can also serve as a piece of wisdom for marketers to clearly show how a product or service will benefit customers.

In the digital age, transparent marketing is the best way to earn a user’s trust and click.

 

Endorsements are fast track to breaking the mold

In 2012, Subway became the first restaurant in the fast-food industry to receive the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Meal Certification. 

 

This was clearly a game changer for the chain in terms of strategy due to the common preconceived notation that fast food directly translates to unhealthy living.

Subway was able to escape that mold of negative perception by receiving a strong source of third-party credibility.

This goes without saying, but having someone else – including an unbiased group in this case – back your product or service screams credibility and validation.

Read more…

#TwitterTips: 5 steps for a successful 140-character conversation on Twitter

December 6th, 2013
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Tweets are limited to 140 characters, which allows readers to easily digest your content. How do we put out amazing shareable content in such a restricted template? Read on for five tips you can use to create engaging conversations on Twitter.

 

Step #1. Have a purpose

It’s good practice to begin with a purpose for each piece of content shared on social media platforms. Because Twitter is limited by so few characters, this especially holds true. Every tweet should have a purpose.

Your point has to come across very quickly and at the same time, make your audience want to find out more about what you posted.

When you compose a tweet, imagine how your followers will use that information and how will it help them.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself first to help narrow down your purpose before you tweet:

  • What message are you trying to convey to your audience?
  • Are you trying to influence, promote, sell, provide customer service, or maybe just attract attention?
  • What message do you want the audience to walk away with?
  • Do you want the audience to take action, to be better informed, or simply just be entertained?

 

Step #2. Learn how to use the medium effectively

Once you have the purpose nailed down, you need to figure out the best way to convey the message to your audience.

You want content that is engaging, purposeful, and most importantly, shareable. Depending on your audience, pairing a tweet with an image may drive the message home to your audience versus just providing a link.

The best way to discover the ideal messaging medium for your audience is by testing and measuring engagement.

There are two things to consider:

  • Is text the best format to put out your message?
  • Could video, links to other pages or images help drive your message?

 

Step #3. Set the right tone

Depending on your audience and purpose, I recommend conveying your message in a conversational tone that focuses on “customer-speak.”

Many brands focus on promoting messages using unfamiliar language and jargon I call “company-speak,” which often delivers a tone that can be easily perceived as talking “at” your followers rather than talking “to” them.

My point is to aim the tone of your message toward conversation. Here are some examples of tweets with a conversational tone.

 

Step #4. Hashtags

No blog post on the subject of Twitter could be complete without a conversation on hashtags.

A hashtag is a tool that makes words searchable and allows Twitter users to tap into a conversation around that word.

My recommendation is do not go crazy with hashtags. I suggest using two hashtags per tweet at most. This will help you avoid overwhelming your audience and keep the conversation relevant.

Here are some great examples of how the hashtag “#Salute” was used on Veteran’s Day to give you an idea of how hashtags drive conversation.

 

Step #5. Have fun

Twitter is a chance to engage with your audience in a setting where creativity and standing out is rewarded.

The example that stands out most for me is Oreo’s infamous Super Bowl tweet. While brand standards and voice guidelines take precedence, don’t forget that fun content can also serve to engage your audience.

Read more…

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

October 11th, 2013
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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
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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…

Marketing Concepts: 3 telltale signs your homepage is not customer-focused

August 9th, 2013
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As a research manager, when I look at a homepage, I always ask myself two questions …

  • Who are the customers?
  • Was the homepage designed with those customers in mind?

I often find a homepage design makes perfect sense to the company’s executives, but not to the most important audience, the customers.

As homepages increasingly become the center of a company’s marketing and sales universe, making sure your focus is on the customer is more important than ever.

In today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, I wanted to share three common telltale signs your homepage is driven by company-centric marketing.

I’m sure this post is likely to raise a few eyebrows, but my goal here is to help you raise revenue by helping you see your marketing efforts through the eyes of your potential customers.

 

Sign #1. Our homepage is a collage of department products instead of popular products

I generally tend to hope the most popular products and services offered on a homepage within direct eye-path, which is also prime real estate on a homepage, are what customers came to your homepage to find, versus products and services the company wants to sell.

However, it is not always that simple when you are in a large company with various departments with different sales goals all competing for that prime real estate on the homepage.

The big issue with this is when departments become only focused on the product or service, and marketers lose sight of what the customers want.

If a product or service that is not the primary driver of your sales traffic is overtaken on the homepage by a minimal interest product or service, should it really be placed within the customer’s direct eye-path?

The obvious answer is no, and I understand it is more complicated than that.

I also understand the chances of success for a business model that tries to force the sale of products or services to people who don’t need or want them are also slim in the long run.

So, if you find yourself in this position, I encourage you to take a step back and develop a strategy to work collaboratively with other departments to build a homepage that improves the overall customer experience.

 

Sign #2. Our value copy talks “at” our customers instead of “to” our customers

Have you ever read about a new product and still had to ask yourself, “What is this thing and what will it do for me?”

Unfortunately, this happens frequently.

Sometimes, we try to impress our customers with creative copy, hoping to sound professional and intelligent. This is great as long as it makes sense to the customer.

Remember, you understand your products/services inside and out and your potential customers are more than likely just learning about it for the first time.

The value copy from a customer’s perspective should answer one essential question – what is in it for me?

 

For example, I did a quick search online about cloud services, which is a complex product, and the first homepage I found left me even more confused.

Some of the cloud’s value copy explained this company’s service features“Open architecture based on OpenStack technology with no vendor lock-in.”

That may be an awesome feature, but I have no idea what it means.

Some of this company’s customers may understand this terminology, but the majority of customers are likely left just as confused as I am. Failing to provide clear and digestible information for customers could induce anxiety, increase frustration and ultimately leave visitors with no choice but to exit your page.

So, when I looked at the next cloud service homepage in my search, here’s what I found …

 

This homepage makes no assumptions about my level of IT sophistication.

It offers a short video and even lays out copy explaining what cloud service is and how it can help me.

And, there’s more …

 

Further down the page I found links to the options available that offer additional short videos combined with value copy explaining what cloud computing is and how the option can help me.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to optimize on this homepage as well.

The overall point here is to understand that I left the first homepage confused about how a solution could help me and I left this one with a clear understanding of what cloud service is and how it could help me.

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