Monthly Archives: February 2017

3 Steps for Explosive Online Marketing Growth

Many business owners are under the impression that online marketingis extremely complicated because some online marketing efforts fail miserably, while others are responsible for massive returns. They assume performance is related to the marketing budget, what is being marketed and who it’s being marketed to.

Sure, that can all come into play, but it’s more about the marketing strategy.

It doesn’t matter if you are a small mom-and-pop shop with a budget of $1,000 per month or a large brand spending six figures monthly — the same three steps will contribute to a successful marketing effort. Let’s look at each one.

1. Identify the perfect customer for your product or service.

You need to determine who your ideal customer is and what problem you are solving. For example, my performance-based agency works with larger brands, spending at least $50,000 monthly on paid ads and typically relying heavily on Facebook. So, we know we have to target large brands with healthy budgets currently advertising on Facebook and interested in a performance-based relationship.

When you are very specific with who you target, it allows you to create a message and offer that speaks directly to that target. You must also make sure your pricing aligns with your ideal customer.

“You can’t attach a premium price to your product or service if your ideal customer has an average or below average income. You could have the best product or service but if it’s priced out of reach, they will never connect with your offer,” explains Joe Baldwin, CEO ofEssayLook.

2. Attract your perfect customer through smart marketing.

Let me quickly explain what I mean by smart marketing. If you are targeting people aged 35 to 45 with a life insurance offer, you don’t want to be running Snapchat ads — that’s the wrong platform. Highly targeted Facebook ads would work better.

Here are just a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • “What social media platforms are my perfect customer likely to be active on?”
  • “What websites are they likely to visit?”
  • “Are they likely to be using a mobile device to access the internet?”
  • “Will they be receptive to email offers and communication?”

When you have the answers to these questions it tells you what social networks and websites you should be running paid ads on and what devices you need to target. If you are selling a health product to millennials, then mobile targeting is a must, whereas an ad targeting the 50+ demographic would want to primarily target desktops.

3. Get your perfect customer to engage with your brand and messages.

Engagement is the last step. It’s responsible for generating sales and creating brand supporters that, over time, turn into lifelong customers. There are several different types of engagement.

For example, say you have a very appealing Facebook ad that drives your perfect customers directly to an offer. You might get some “likes” and shares on the post, but the click-through to your offer, and then ultimately the conversion, is the engagement that translates into revenue.

Not all offers are a good fit for a direct approach. Many will require that your perfect customer is placed in a marketing funnel, where they are then presented with valuable content, designed to eventually convert them into a sale. “Asking for an email address is a very small commitment, so it’s very easy to quickly fill your funnel up with prospects as long as your offer is enticing and provides value,” advises Tyler Chilton, CEO of Mayflower Electronics.

6 Must-Do’s for Effective Social Media Marketing

A lot of businesses do social media marketing wrong. They hear everyone screaming, “You must have a social media presence,” but what that entails isn’t always spelled out correctly. Social media marketing should be effective and affordable, and when done correctly, it can help scale businesses of all sizes.

Just like with traditional channels such as television commercials, radio spots and print ads, your results are going to be minimal at best if you broadcast your message to the wrong audience. To help you execute a successful social media marketing campaign, I spoke with six entrepreneurs to put together a list of must-do’s.

1. Dedicate time to learn how social media works.

There are a lot of social media marketing tips available online, from free content on websites like this one to paid courses you can complete at your convenience. It’s not very complicated if you take the time to educate yourself.

Charles Gumbley, Director of Flower Telecom, explains, “It’s important that you take the time to learn how social media marketing works for your specific business. While the fundamentals are similar across the board, different businesses will have to alter their strategies slightly in order to capture the attention of their target audience. In the beginning, consume as much content and free resources as you can. From there, you can then focus on your specific goals and objectives.”

2. Listen to your customers.

“The only way you are going to know what your customers want is by listening to what they have to say. It’s important that you use your social media platforms as an extension of your customer service. More customers are going to voice their opinion on social media than via email or over the phone,” says Ryan Koechel, VP of Marketing forABODO.

When you listen to your audience, you open the door to other opportunities as well. For instance, when my influencer marketing agency plans campaign strategies for a brand, we often audit their social media followers to identify key influencers. Learn to listen to your audience — it can provide you with valuable information.

3. Use automation for consistency.

There is smart automation and then there is spammy, ineffective automation when it comes to social media marketing. You don’t want to blast out promotional offers all day long — that’s a quick way to lose all of your followers. Use social media as a way to communicate with your audience and provide them valuable information. When you do that, you create happy brand supporters you can eventually convert into sales.

“If you have a full-time social media employee, make sure they are consistent and push out content across all of your social media profiles. There are several pieces of automation software, like Hootsuite, that offer a free plan that can greatly increase your efficiency. If you schedule your posts in advance it gives you more time to dedicate to replying and engaging with your social media followers,” advises Daniel Moravec of StreetSaw.

4. Engage with and delight your audience.

“It’s one thing to fill up your social media feed with posts, but it’s another thing to actively engage with your audience and turn them into satisfied customers. I see a lot of small business owners posting a couple times a day, thinking that they are doing the right thing when it comes to social media marketing. You can’t just post and walk away. If you do that, you are missing prime opportunities to engage with your audience and convert them,” explains Roy Surdej of Peaches Boutique.

Engaging your followers allows you to uncover problems or issues other customers might be experiencing as well. Then, you can be proactive and address those issues quickly before they turn into fires that are difficult to put out. When your communication lines are always open, you will often discover problematic situations before they spiral out of control.

5. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

It’s nearly impossible — and almost always ineffective — to be active on every single social media platform. I always suggest new brands should start with two or three social media platforms they are certain their target audience is active on. Master those, and then expand your social reach as the business grows and more effort can be allocated to additional social platforms.

Jasper Hillaud, Managing Partner of elf925 stresses the importance of focusing on the social media platforms that complement your brand, explaining, “While Pinterest marketing might not be effective for some businesses, it is one that we put a lot of energy into because we see that it works first-hand. Just because it wouldn’t be a preferred social media channel for a law firm, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It’s important to pick where to focus your social media efforts based on what works for your specific customer base.”

6. Track and measure everything.

“You will never run a successful social media marketing campaign if you don’t measure your results. It’s important that you lay out clear goals with benchmarks that allow you to determine whether or not your social effort is paying off. The data you collect and analyze can then be used to make changes to your campaign. You must be willing to constantly optimize and test your efforts if you want to develop a truly successful campaign,” explains Eric Ritter, Founder & CEO ofDigital Neighbor.

4 Marketing Lessons Entrepreneurs

The internet has recently been taken over by a very tall and overly pregnant lady.

You may have heard of her. Her name is April. April the Giraffe. This chick has taken over the internet, with pregnant human women going viral for impersonating her.

April is a powerful woman, as I assume most pregnant women are.

Almost 100,000 people are tuning in on YouTube at any given minute to see if she’s birthed her fourth calf yet. When someone or something can garner the accumulative attention of millions, it’s worth taking note.

And while April is undeniably powerful, she is not nearly as powerful as the creative team behind her at Animal Adventure Park. Here are four lessons you can borrow from Animal Adventure Park to spark your own sensation.

1. Your ordinary is someone else’s extraordinary.

You frequently forget there are things you find common and ordinary that others simply find extraordinary. This is the main basis for why Animal Adventure Park’s livestream has captivated so many, hitting headlines daily for over a week. Giraffes give birth on a regular basis. Or, at least I assume so.

Since April has been livestreaming, two other baby giraffes have been born stateside. For zookeepers, a giraffe having a calf is ordinary. Yet, for the general population, a giraffe having a calf is extraordinary. What is your ordinary that others would find extraordinary?

2. Utilize the tools you have at your fingertips.

I imagine it went something like this: April’s caretakers were talking about the upcoming birth, and someone nonchalantly mentioned, “Perhaps we could livestream it for people to see.”

The tools were already there to livestream. They just decided to use them unlike any other zoo had. Well played, Animal Adventure Park. What tools are you not taking full advantage of?

3. Start before you’re “ready.”

What I don’t think many people understand is that Animal Adventure Park isn’t even open yet. It’s bloody brilliant! There is so much press and news coverage about this business, and it hasn’t even opened its doors for day one.

That’s solid proof there is business genius in starting before you feel ready. With a well-thought out plan, anything is possible. It’s not about waiting until it’s perfect. It’s about knowing how to execute effectively. Where can you begin executing while still perfecting?

4. Don’t forget a call to action.

An imperative part of doing business is making it extremely easy for people to buy or support you. I was so impressed to find in the description on Animal Adventure Park’s live stream video that they did not forget a call to action.

Even better, they gave two! Take your pick to support the organization: Download GiraffeMoji for $1.99 from the App Store, or simply donate to the organization’s GoFundMe page. (As of this writing, it’s just shy of the $50,000 goal.)

What a failure it would have been to have that many people at your fingertips without an easy way for people to engage with the business. Yet, it’s a common business mistake.

How Marketers Optimize Their Social Content

It may have taken some of them a while, but businesses have finally caught on to the importance of social media. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Industry Report, 97 percent of businesses use social media for marketing purposes, and 92 percent feel that it’s important to their success.

But even as companies ramp up their social media efforts, they continue to struggle with how to best optimize social content to achieve desired business outcomes: 91 percent say they have difficulty deciding which specific tactics are most effective, according to the same report.

To better understand which strategies marketers are currently using to optimize social media content (and to gauge the effectiveness of these strategies), Software Advice has partnered with Adobe to create the first-ever Social Media Content Optimization Survey.

We also shared the 182 results we received from marketers with Liz Strauss, founder and CEO of SOBCon, who was ranked seventh on Forbes’ 2013 list of “Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers.” Her insights are included along with our analysis below.

Key Findings:

  1. Most marketers (84 percent) routinely post on at least three social media networks, with 70 percent posting at least once a day.
  2. Marketers most commonly cited the use of visual content, hashtags and usernames as important tactics for optimizing social media content.
  3. Over half (57 percent) use software tools to manage posting, and these respondents experienced less difficulty optimizing their social content.

Most Marketers Use Three or More Social Networks

Of the marketers who took our survey, the vast majority (84 percent) said they actively posted content on at least three or more social networks—most likely including Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn.

Number of Active Social Media Outlets

A total of 61 percent posted on at least four networks; 20 percent posted on at least six; and, impressively, 3 percent posted on 11 networks or more.

This leaves 14 percent of marketers who were posting on only two channels, and just 2 percent who said they routinely posted content on just one social media outlet.

With so many marketers posting content across such a broad spectrum of social channels, businesses that are only active on three or fewer sites may be at a disadvantage, according to Strauss. In a world where more businesses actively post on 11 (or more) social sites than on just one, promoting content on Facebook and Twitter alone may not be enough.

However, Strauss says, a sizable (but unknown) number of users “are using social channels in a non-useful manner: posting randomly, without a goal, and without a true understanding of what can be accomplished on any particular social channel.”

In other words, there’s a big difference between posting frequently and posting strategically. A sound social media marketing strategy will not only involve publishing a lot of posts—it will involve publishing the right ones.

Most Marketers Post Frequently, Plan Content in Advance

Most marketers (70 percent) said they post content on social media outlets at least once a day, with 19 percent saying they post more than three times daily. Conversely, only 16 percent said they post fewer than once a day, and 14 percent had no set schedule for posting.

The fact that so many businesses are posting so frequently and consistently is even more impressive, considering that many post across a large number of sites in which content guidelines vary widely (for example, Twitter limiting posts to 140 characters, or YouTube requiring video content).

Number of Social Media Posts per Day

When we asked marketers how far in advance they schedule their social content, 41 percent said, “several days to one week,” making that by far the most popular timeframe for planning posts. A total of 65 percent said they schedule their social content at least one day in advance, with only 12 percent saying they had no consistent plan for scheduling posts ahead of time.

How Far in Advance Posts Are Scheduled

Taken as a whole, the data demonstrates that many marketers have an established plan for consistently generating and posting content. As a result, businesses that fail to post consistently will likely struggle to build brand recognition and engage audiences, when faced with competitors that have adopted more regimented social content delivery strategies.

Visual Content, Hashtags Are Most Important Tactics

Our respondents most commonly cited images and hashtags as crucial elements of social media content optimization: 82 percent said it was “important” or “very important” to use the former, while 67 percent said this about the latter. Even the tactics that were viewed as less imperative (such as using videos) were still considered at least “moderately important” by over 68 percent of respondents.

The fact that a significant majority of marketers viewed all seven of these tactics as important reflects that most believe optimizing their businesses’ social media content requires a multifaceted approach.

Most Important Tactics for Optimizing Content on Social Media

However, Strauss argues that our respondents’ priorities might need adjusting. For example, she says, their prioritization of images and hashtags over targeting specific audiences is completely backwards, and may reflect a more troubling lack of understanding about basic social media strategy.

Everyone knows images increase engagement, she says, “but how do you know which images are going to resonate with your audience if you don’t know who your audience is?”

Strauss also believes that marketers should more highly prioritize social calls-to-action (CTAs), saying, “If you don’t ask, ‘why don’t you visit my site,’ people probably won’t even bother to see if you have a site.”

But even then, she insists, these specific tactics only work “when you know exactly who you’re trying to reach and what you want them to do.” This means images and CTAs must be carefully selected to elicit a specific response from a specific sub-audience.

For example, when Oracle wanted to publicize an event at the South by Southwest Interactive conference with Chevrolet, it used the #sxswi hashtag to share a promotional image with attendees. It also included the @Chevrolet username to share with its partner’s audience, along with a CTA encouraging users to follow the event hashtag #IdeaRally and participate in the discussion.

And because this tweet was perfectly relevant to the attendees following the#sxswi hashtag, those users were positively inclined to respond to the CTA and to share the tweet with their own followers—who were also likely to find it interesting and actionable.

Most Test Sharing and CTRs to Optimize Times to Post

When we asked marketers about the tactics they used to determine the best times to post on social media, nearly all of them prioritized trial and error. Eighty-seven percent said it was at least “moderately important” to test the sharing rates and click-through rates (CTR) of content at different times of day and days of the week, in order to understand when potential audiences are most receptive.

On the whole, respondents valued testing for share rate and CTR almost equally, although slightly more said it was “very important” to optimize for the former (35 vs. 33 percent).

Many also felt it was “very important” (31 percent) or “important” (33 percent) to use social media optimization tools to help determine the best time to post. These would include social media monitoring and management tools such as Hootsuiteor Adobe Social.

Altogether, this data shows that the marketers in our sample feel it’s crucial to use testing strategies and social media monitoring to make data-driven decisions when it comes to optimizing the time to post their social content—and to base those decisions on multiple performance indicators, rather than focusing exclusively on any single metric.