Tag Archives: online marketing

Do Your Content Marketing Efforts Compare with the Best?

8 May

Apple and Orange

Find out what the best B2B small business marketers are doing to succeed in content marketing, the major challenges facing them in their content marketing efforts and the tactics and platforms used to deliver content.

The Content Marketing Institute just released an original research report on small business content marketing, “B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America”.  It’s full of relevant data for the SMB marketing organization, providing an opportunity to compare your content marketing efforts vs. your peers as well as the enterprise business.

The report looks at several trends including the percentage of marketing budget spent today on content and the planned growth in spending over the next year.

You can sign up for your free copy of the research report at Content Marketing Institute.

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Social Media – Just Like Any Other Business?

22 May

Has Social Media become so complex that we feel like we’re losing our minds trying to make sense of it? For the majority of us, Social Media is complicated, even for those of us that use Social Media on a regular basis. It’s a young industry and new companies, tools, and applications are continuously launching. Trying to make all that visually understandable to us, Buddy Media and Luma Partners published a graphic categorizing Social Media firms, platforms, tools, and blogs. This graphic seems to have hit a few nerves about the complexity of Social Media today.Businessman with many choices

(Due to confidential and proprietary content, the graphic is not included in this blog. The graphic can be viewed at one of the two links below. )

In Eloqua‘s blog on the recent graphic, Joe Chernov compared the complexities of Social Media to that of the auto industry and its vast ecosystem.   Even if Social Media is as complicated as other businesses making that comparison doesn’t mean that Social Media isn’t complicated. And for most of us, who are not experienced digital marketers, Social Media IS complicated.  Yes, there is an almost endless amount of free Social Media white papers, ebooks, webinars and blogs to help get educated.  It still takes a lot of time to understand every platform and tool, their differences and then to decide which ones are the right ones to support the marketing plan.

Do we need to learn all the tools inside and out to be successful at Social Media? I don’t think so. Deciding which tools to use in Social Media is like other marketing decisions we make.  We start with goals and objectives, focus on the products that will help to achieve them and ignore the rest.  Buddy Media’s graphic depicts 28 categories and almost every Social Media platform and tool available. That doesn’t mean every one of those tools or even a fraction is needed to support our marketing needs.

And if Social Media is like other businesses, a time will come in the not too distant future when there will be a consolidation of companies and integration of products and features.

What do you think?

Resources:

Social Media isn’t “Ludicrously Complicated” Business Is, by Joe Chernov, It’s All About Revenue, Eloqua blog

This INSANE Graphic Shows How Ludicrously Complicated Social Media Marketing Is Now, by Charlie Minato, Business Insider blog

Repurpose Existing Content to Create PowerPoints, Videos and Reach More Customers

24 Apr

Wouldn’t it be great to have your own Content Marketing staff, a team of writers that could meet your every content need?  For the majority of us, there is no Content Marketing staff.  Content development most likely falls under someone in marketing that already has a full plate of responsibilities or maybe it’s outsourced. One way to effectively extend marketing resources and the value of content is to repurpose it in different mediums.

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How to Create Your Brand Page on Facebook’s New Timeline

5 Mar

On March 30th, Facebook’s New Timeline will go live for all Brand pages, whether or not your company has updated its page.  Take this opportunity to create an engaging page for your brand over the weeks ahead. There are several changes you need to be aware of for your brand page. Below is a handy guide from hearsay social on what you need to know to create a brand page and links to blogs that cover the changes.  Make sure you review the blog by TechCrunch’s Josh Constine.  It’s thorough. For additional information and help go to the Facebook Help Center.

Here are a few key changes worth highlighting:

1.  Cover Photo – The cover photo takes up a large amount of space spanning the entire page.  Here you should choose a photo that supports your brand.  It is important to know that Facebook Covers may not display calls to action or references to Facebook Like or sales promotions, pricing or website URLs.

2.  Left Side Navigation – The navigation for page apps has moved to the right and below the cover photo with thumbnail photos above the text link.  Four of these apps are above the fold and one is default for Photos.  So, three of these four you can choice your apps. Pick your most important three. Unfortunately, this limits visibility for custom apps; contests, promotions, coupons, games, etc. since the default landing page for all users will be the Timeline page.  Users will need to click through to find additional apps.

3.  Messages – Messages can now be sent privately by users vs. posting on the public wall for all to see.  This can be a benefit if you don’t want certain comments visible.  You’ll need to determine a process internally to actively and timely respond to the Messages.  For some businesses, this may create a burden.  Try testing it for a few weeks to monitor the number of messages sent and your organization’s ability to manage it.

4.  Timeline Bar – To the right of the cover photo is a new timeline bar that allows users to view a brand’s history over the years.  It’s a great opportunity to highlight your favorite posts by you and your fans.

5.  Pinning – This feature will allow you to pin an important feature story, promotion or event and post it at the top of the timeline for seven days.

6.  Star a Story – You can also star a post to grab attention and highlight a story on your timeline.  When you star a story, it will expand the full width of the page.

Cover of Facebook ebook by hearsay social

The New Facebook Pages Brand Timeline by hearsay social.

Resources:

Introducing New Facebook Pages, Facebook website
Learn About Facebook Pages, Facebook video
How to Use Facebook Timeline for Brand Pages: New Feature Details, Josh Constine, Technology Writer, TechCrunch
Timeline for Brands:  How to Prepare for Your Company’s New Facebook Page, Jim Belosic, CEO Short Stack on Mashable
Facebook Timeline for Brands, the Complete Guide,  Christine Erikson on Mashable

Sharing the Who, What and Why With Customers

28 Feb

Several months ago a start-up had asked for a review and recommendations for improving  their current website and Facebook page.  What stood out most for me was that their website lacked information about the organization, the Who, What and Why were all missing.  Who is a part of their organization? What is their organization about?  and Why does it matter that customers do business with them?

For a new business with a unique product, sharing this basic yet key company information with potential customers is even more critical to build trust and a relationship with customers.

While this may seem pretty obvious to most of us, sometimes smaller organizations and start-ups feel the need and want to be different starting with the website.  For this organization, they have a unique, creative and non-traditional approach to funding charities.  Their website design and content reflects those attributes.  But, the important point is not to get so caught up in being creative or non-traditional that you forget about why you have a website in the first place, to provide information and to connect with your customer.

On this organization’s website, there is no tab or section that tells the story of how or why the organization got started, who the founders are or what is the mission.  A Join button is located on the home page that immediately opens to a window requesting customer contact information to join. There is no landing page to tell the customer why do business with them or in this case ‘join’ their cause. And because this organization has a new model in charity giving, it is important for potential customers to clearly understand how the giving of donations works, what is expected of them and what if any are the costs should be explained on the site before the call to action to join.

Understanding where customers are in the sales process and providing the right content for each stage in the sales cycle is also critical.  If you don’t provide the appropriate information, customers that are not yet ready to buy will leave.  Don’t ask for the sale too soon.  You’ve got to build trust first.

Start with the website. For the majority, it is still the first place they go to learn about a company.  Be creative in design and marketing on your website but, also include the information that customers need and want to know, who you are, what you are about and why they should do business with you.

5 Good Reasons to Include Podcasts in Your 2012 Marketing Plan

20 Dec

Podcasts can add a new element of excitement to your marketing and social media efforts.  It’s another medium to reach your audience and share updates on your company or products, the industry, trends or insights.  The latest technology and new tools and services make podcasting easy to use and at a relatively low-cost to deliver.  Today, most podcasts are delivered on-demand and can be accessed from your website as either a video or audio file.  Any computer that can play media files can play a podcast.

Here are five good reasons to include podcasting in your 2012 marketing plan:

1. Creates Interest:  A new medium to deliver your marketing message can create new interest in and bring new life to your existing marketing content. Using audio and video to deliver content enhances the audience experience beyond printed text.

2.  Positions You as an Expert:  Consider delivering a series of podcasts that informs and teaches your audience on a topic that is relevant and of interest to them.  Providing helpful and useful content to your target audience furthers your relationship with them and your position as an expert in your field.

Businessman watching podcast3.  Reinforces Your Brand:  A human voice has the capacity to add inflection and an emotional element to your content vs. print. Using an appropriate voice that fits your brand further reinforces your brand strategy and messaging.

4.  Increases Reach:  Podcasts are accessible on-line at the demand of your audience.  This increases the reach of your marketing efforts beyond time-zones, work-styles and geographies.

5.  Builds Relationships and Trust:   People don’t have relationships with a company.  They have relationships with other people.  By giving a voice to your company, you humanize the experience between your target audience and your company.  They’ll be more likely to do business with you if they know and trust you.  Podcasting can further develop that trust.

As you look at including podcasting in your marketing and social media plans consider the following;  Podcasting should support your overall marketing strategy and plan and enhance your current marketing efforts with your target audience. Confirm that podcasting is an effective medium to reach them. Make sure you have the resources to update content and provide podcasts on a regular basis.

Resources:

How to Create Your Own Podcast, by Corey Deitz, About.com Guide
How to Podcast, by Jason VanOrden
12 Ways to Promote Your Podcast, by Jake Ludington
How to Grow Your Podcast Audience, by Marcelo Lewin

You Can Do-It-Yourself Website

14 Nov

by Susan Lowe

Who needs to know XHTML or PHP code  to design and publish a website?  No one anymore.

Web hosting companies have been providing website builders for a while now, allowing customers to design, build and edit their own site without any special coding knowledge or skill.  Not only can you save a chunk of your marketing budget on the initial design of the site by doing it yourself but, you can make your own edits in real time – no need to pay a web administrator to do it for you.

The tools are free with most hosting services when you sign up. Some hosting companies offer a free trial service and most have some really great design templates ready to use.  And if you have the desire and the time, you can also customize most of the site.

Easy to use Site Builder Tools

Many of the tools allow you to easily add video, social media links, customized forms, and even PayPal to your site.  Intuit, a fairly recent entry into this space, has taken almost all of the frustration out of doing this yourself. Their easy to use SiteBuilder Plus is likely the result of Intuit’s years of experience perfecting the user interface with products Quicken and TurboTax.

The time to design and publish is quick. I completed my site in a few days.  I used the Intuit product and the interface was so good, I didn’t even reference a tutorial. Help is available from many of the web hosting companies and some are better than others.  If your comfort level is low, you will want to choose a host with good support that is included in the hosting fees.

Keep These Things in Mind when Building Your Own Website 

  • Check the website options and features carefully before choosing a hosting service -especially the Help Desk Support
  • Although templates are provided, you should have a good sense of design
  • Content is still King.  If you plan to you write your own copy, content should be written for your target audience(s) and include your value propositions.  Many of the templates provide helpful suggestions but, content is an area of marketing expertise that is not ready out of the box. Keep the content updated and fresh and optimize your content for search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.  Many of the hosting companies provide help with SEO.
  • Your website is a reflection of your brand.  If you have a logo, include it.  Consider your brand as you choose a design template and customize your site and write the content.
  • Have someone whose opinion you respect review it before you go live – another set of eyes is always helpful.  Your website is your face to your customer and may be their first impression of your company.

Related Links:

Ten Best Website Builders of 2011 by websitehostingfreereviews.com
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