What’s Your Social Marketing Voice?

Recently, we recorded the first ever StrataBlue podcast. As I was listening to a recording of the StrataCast episode with a couple of my coworkers, one of them asked, “Do I really sound like that to you guys?” After a few seconds, the rest of us replied, “Yep!”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. It can be a little strange hearing your own voice coming from a set of speakers instead of your own mouth. Our brief conversation about her actual vocal qualities got me to thinking about the topic in a broader sense.

In our roles, we’re responsible for representing and upholding the voices of client organizations across a wide range of markets and industries. For skilled communicators, this voice adaptation happens instinctively and seamlessly. However, the importance of doing so effectively cannot be overstated. A company’s voice underlies every piece of communication that it presents and greatly impacts how they are perceived.

Think it through. Before jumping directly into posting and interacting on social media, take the time to intentionally consider how to best represent your company’s existing voice. Imagine your brand being a person. What type of personality do you want to portray? A polished, suit and tie-wearing professional has a much different voice than the fun, easy-to-chat-with guy/gal next door. Selecting the appropriate persona depends on your particular industry and the intended audience.

This is a great way to think of your brand’s voice. Tone, on the other hand, can be thought of as a subset of your voice, adding different flavors depending on the channel, audience or situation. For more assistance in the initial stages of voice and tone development, take a look at this handy 4-step guide from Social Media Explorers.

Voice 1

Steady wins the race. In any form of communication, written or verbal, the recipients filter others’ words through their own experiences and perspectives. This is a common source of misunderstanding. Being consistent and clear in the way you communicate while carefully choosing the words you use can help ensure they hear (or read) what you intend.

To complicate things a bit further, larger organizations sometimes have multiple individuals who distribute content on the same channel. In these cases, it’s critical that brand and marketing communication guidelines are in place so that everyone has a consistent tone and voice. Followers and fans can easily pick up on small changes. Remember, the goal above in step one is to portray a single voice.

Don’t be the stereotypical used car salesman. This tip applies even if your purpose for being active on social media is to sell more used cars! There are few things less appealing than feeling like you’re being coaxed towards a cash register. Ending a tweet or post with “click here to purchase our great widget” or “contact us today to schedule your 30-day trial” are acceptable once in a while, but not as the norm.

Instead, strive to provide worthwhile, engaging content with calls to action that focus on the benefits to the audience. For example, you might develop a social campaign to educate and inform your audience about the important changes taking place in the widget industry landscape. End those messages with a call to action that invites those interested to visit your blog or subscribe to your email list. Social marketing is a great way to have frequent contact with customers and leads while gently moving them along your sales funnel. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it can replace the entire process though.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on social marketing voice portrayal. What companies have you encountered on social channels that effectively match their social voice to their broader brand voice? What specifically did they say (or not say) and how did they say it to accomplish that? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!

 

How to Create Effective Call to Actions

You’ve built a fantastic website, your social media presence is growing and your marketing emails are being sent out regularly, but you’re not seeing an increase in sales. What are you missing?

You need a call-to-action that is so good people will be clicking without thinking twice! Putting your phone number on your home page and a “Contact Us” button is not good enough anymore. I am going to help you create some effective call-to-actions with some simple techniques:

The Button

call-to-action-buttons-preview

Is there anything special about yours? Does it draw any attention to it? Your button should differentiate itself from the rest of the website in color and size. Using contrasting colors will really help it stand out along with correct wording.

Make sure you’re delivering what you promise after your customers fill out the call-to-action. If you promise access to a whitepaper and it goes to a YouTube video, this will only confuse the visitor, making them likely to simply leave your site forever. It is important that your button position is prominent, too. The rule of thumb is to have it centered and placed high on your site. Don’t make it look like it was an afterthought. Use lively, pressing words to help further encourage action to be taken.

Some great words to use include:

  • Call
  • Register
  • Buy
  • Subscribe
  • Join Now

The Value

Is it worth a visitor’s time to fill out your form? They will want to believe that what they are receiving for filling out a form is valuable to them. With all of the data breaches happening today, people are more hesitant than ever to give out their personal information, so they will want be extra careful with sharing it. The fewer the steps you make your visitors take, the higher success rate you will have.

Ask yourself if you would fill out the form on your website. Don’t ask for unnecessary information. If you don’t need to know their demographic information then don’t ask for it. Sometimes you will have to sweeten the pot to persuade visitors to fill out your form. Discounts or free gifts are a great incentive, especially if your free gift is branded with your logo, like a shirt or calendar.

Are you seeing effective click through rates with your call-to-actions? Check back next week for some more techniques on how to create a great call to action. If you have any pressing questions feel free to contact us anytime!

Content Strategy: The Rock Star Approach

Being a nerd, I love heavy metal music. It’s a genre of extremes – not only when it comes to music, but also in terms of lyrics, visuals and attitude. I guess my love of metal is why I was drawn to this quote from Robert Rose about content strategy and marketing:

“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.”

Isn’t that awesome? And it perfectly describes the brave new world that brands find themselves in. It’s no longer enough to buy a billboard or rent some radio time. Disruptive marketing is mostly hated by the average customer. Instead of shoving products in people’s faces, the best brands use content marketing. They show consumers why they need those products. But what is content marketing, exactly?

Contact This is a two-fold process. First, you’re going to want to get in touch with your potential customers. This is so much easier in the social age! You can contact a variety of people through your brand’s social media. Once you are engaging with those individuals, make sure they can get updates from your brand easily. Set up a mailing list for your brand, and make it easy for people to sign up!

The second part of contact comes not from potential customers, but from influencers. These are experts that will help you show expertise and authority with your brand in the beginning of your content strategy. Share content from your influencers. Eventually these experts will see the value of your brand, and will begin to reciprocate.

Curate As a brand, you probably don’t have time to endlessly write blogs, create infographics and take photos. Many brands get overwhelmed when they understand the vast amount of data needed for content marketing. But never fear! This is where curating comes in. Social media is all about sharing the content people make. What better way to connect with influencers and potential fans than to share their own content? If your brand grooms dogs, share photos from the local pet shop. If you’re in the business of kitchen repair, share those blogs from the local DIY club. Content strategy should always include sharing and highlighting the work of others!

Create But it can’t all be about sharing cat pictures. Eventually you will want to share your own original work as part of your content strategy. The good news is that earned media can be one of your most powerful marketing tools. Some separate promotional pieces from the traditional owned media of blogs and infographics, but I say creation is creation. If you are working with your influencers and engaging with your audience, most of your earned media should be shared and spread.

content strategy, content marketing, earned media, what is content marketing

Content strategy plan in action!

 

Calendarize Now that you’re contacting, curating and creating as part of your content marketing, the final advice I can give you is to create an editorial calendar. This can take the form of a planner, organizer or actual calendar that helps you keep track of important promotions, events and launches for your brand. I would suggest you plan at least a month in advance. Some brands plan out the full quarter for their content strategy calendars. See what works best for you!

I’d like to hear about your rock star content strategy tips. Comment below and let’s chat!

Deciphering the Big Three: Paid, Owned and Earned Media

Sometimes us folks at online marketing agencies get so caught up in our own lingo that we often forget how to break it down for who we are working for: our clients! An online strategy plan for a client in the restaurant industry could have no idea what the difference is between owned and earned media and how they feed off of each other.

As a refresher and to help with communication when pitching an online social strategy, refer to the three explanations below when explaining why your client needs your services to conquer paid, owned and earned media.

Paid: Bottom line, if you are spending money from a client’s budget for a social strategy, coin it paid media. Paid media is excellent because you can control the content you distribute on different social channels to anyone online. Some examples of paid media include sponsored or promoted ads through Twitter, Facebook ads or pay per click campaigns. Using one or several paid media online strategies could help to drive traffic to a client’s website, assist in promoting a specific product or help to initiate conversations about the brand in general.

Owned: Owned media is created and controlled by the brand in different online channels such as a company website, LinkedIn or other social networks and newsletters. Like paid media, the content is controlled and distributed by the social media manager. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical for the owned media component. Content and links within the different channels for a brand should have strong keywords so the brand appears in Google or higher up in page rankings.

Earned: Earned media can most easily be described to clients as online word of mouth. Retweets, mentions, tags, shares, reviews and recommendations from fans mentioning a brand is earned media. This social strategy is where the client’s fans or customers play such a dominant role. Positive, or negative, customer shared publicity online is what potential customers will notice and consider first when searching out the brand. There is no control over what customers say online, however, there is control in how you respond as the social media manager for the client, which intertwines with the owned media aspect.

Paid, owned and earned media graph

It’s imperative to explain to your client, or potential client, that these three entities work together, not alone. For a more visual learner, take a look at the graph above from the view from here to fully understand how The Big Three work together.

Want to chat more about how The Big Three intersect when developing an online strategy? Leave a comment below!

Content Marketing, Scalable Data and One Night Stands

I’m a big fan of author, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik . The guy is insightful, witty and consistently shares content that entertains and educates. That’s the type of content I enjoy and like to share on my own social platforms (not to mention actually read beyond about this point in the article). In case you’re not one of Avinash’s 130k Twitter followers or haven’t attended one of his key note addresses, I wanted to share a few of his digital marketing pearls of wisdom that have led to “ah-ha” moments for me (and often, a good laugh)!

1) AK: “The metaphor I use is that the likes or +1’s are like one-night-stands. My metrics show how things went on a second or third date. How many got engaged or married to your brand? In this case, polygamy is OK. One-night-stands might feel good, but when you wake up the next day, you have nothing.”

  • Takeaway: It’s easy to get caught up in the short-term satisfaction of Facebook likes or your number of Twitter followers. While these stats are important, it’s critical to move beyond the superficial and into measurements that provide insight into areas such as conversion rate, applause rate and economic value. Guess what? Mr. Kaushik dives into this in one of his blog posts.

2) AK: “And what’s not dead? Ads that live and breathe these three strategies: entertain, inform, provide utility. The ad from Honda is a great example of Entertain and Inform. It uses immense creativity to deliver a memorable message that you might remember for a little while. Chances are also high you’ll share the ad, and increase its organic reach well beyond what Honda paid for (or could ever have paid for).

  • Take away: From a social media perspective, it’s important to share content that meets the above criteria. Sure, an SMB might not have the budget to produce a video on the same level as Honda’s. Still, before posting anything on Facebook or Twitter, always ask yourself why it’s being shared and what the goal is. If it’s not entertaining, informative or useful (and preferably all three), rethink that piece of content.

3) AK: “My keynote at the eMetrics summit yesterday was a call to arms for less obsession with data, dramatically more obsession with business (influence, experience, value) manifested via using scalable frameworks, drastic simplicity in data outputs (ex: dashboards) and use of super-amazing visualizations. The picture below represents the “notes” that [@NickSeeber] took during the keynote. See what I mean by art? Thanks Nick!”

AK picture

  • Take away: At first glance, I thought this “call to arms” might oppose the point Mr. Kaushik makes in item 1 above. However, upon closer inspection, they’re perfectly aligned. Mr. Kaushik isn’t minimizing the importance of data (he’s a data guy, after all). Rather, he’s advocating for more intelligent use and delivery of the data. When I think of scalable frameworks for example, Marketing Automation comes to mind. These platforms help SMBs track leads throughout the “sales funnel” and customer lifecycle so they can effectively deliver customized content at appropriate times.

What do you think about Avinash’s ideas? Let’s talk in the comments below. In the meantime, I’ll be working to get Avinash to follow me on Twitter. I’m not interested in one night stands though. I’ll offer him informative and useful content and try and take our relationship to the next level!

Push and Pull Marketing for Growth Hacking

Everyone wants to know how to get more traffic to their website. What are the easy tips and tricks to increase the views on your page? You might assume that’s your job as a growth hacker, but the truth is that’s only one step in the growth hacking funnel. Once new eyeballs have landed on your page, you still have to activate and retain them. So how do you do that?

Two tactics that growth hackers rely on are push and pull strategies. These strategies are used to get a brand’s product in front of its target market in two very different ways. Consider the differences between the two methods:

A push strategy puts a product in front of consumers to gain brand exposure. You actively seek out your customers and then push your products into view. A push strategy often involves you interrupting the content the consumer was viewing by using a form of paid advertising.

Considering this, you need to keep in mind that push tactics more often than not cost money. For example, your content could come across as a YouTube ad people have to watch to get to the content they wanted. Or maybe you run a promoted tweet on Twitter that comes up in their timeline even though they aren’t following you.

So how much is a customer worth to you? Take a step back and think about the amount of money a customer is going to spend with your business over the span of your relationship. Your push strategies should cost enough that you make a profit on moving a customer through the funnel.

Examples of push tactics:

  • Direct sales
  • Negotiating with retailers to carry your product
  • Sponsorships/affiliate marketing
  • Social media advertising (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more)
  • Telemarketing
  • Banner ads

PullPush_blog1

A pull strategy aims to get customers to seek out your brand’s product, giving them a reason to come to you. Pull strategies work best for highly visible brands and are known as a method of inbound marketing, meaning the customer comes to you for answers, interest or inquiries.

On the plus side, you aren’t directly paying for your visitors by using pull strategies but the cost could be considered in time spent and personnel resources. With pull strategies, you’ll find that you get more engagement since customers are coming to you, but beware of targeting the wrong audience or losing your customers’ trust. You need to provide something of value that draws your audience in, or else you have no pull. So try to come up with an experience that leaves a lasting impression on your audience.

Examples of pull tactics:

  • Blogging and guest blogging
  • Ebooks
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Social Media
  • Infographics

In your growth hacking journey, try using a mix or push and pull marketing tactics for a healthy balance between the two techniques. Once you know the difference between the two and how it affects the growth of your business, you can find out which method brings the best ROI for your brand.

Have you found that push or pull tactics work better for you? Which do you prefer and why?

Rebrand Your Business without Spending Millions

In 2000, BP spent $7.6 million to design a new logo and at least $220 million over two years to rebrand vans, manufacturing plants, gas stations and more. You shouldn’t have to spend that type of money, but you do have to commit to a rebranding as if it were that costly.

You’ve been running your business for a couple of years now and you haven’t made many changes. Why change something that is already perfect, right? But one thing is clear; you can’t run your company the same way forever. You have to make changes and evolve as the years go by. Here are some ideas to bring about change and breathe new life into your business.

1. Be Ready for Change: If you want to revamp your business it’s going to require you to change your ways of thinking and get rid of things that were at one time perfect. A first step is to be open to changing or adjusting the way you do business and be prepared to act immediately.

2. Determine Your Mission: Take stock of your company’s strengths and weaknesses.  Look at the big picture and not just a preview of your business. Before you go about changing anything like a type of product, brand name, or company, be clear about what problems you are you trying to solve. Make it a mission. Figure out where you are now and where you want to be.

3. Talk to People: Ask people you know for their opinions on your company. They could be your customers, employees, business partners or industry experts. Ask them…

  • What they think about your products, services, and your brand in general.
  • What they like and don’t like.
  • What they would suggest changing.
  • If you need a little revamping or a major overhaul.
  • Where do you rate in terms of customer satisfaction and brand differentiation?

Your market research, both qualitative and quantitative will be able to help you answer some of these questions. Maybe your business could send out short survey as your market research.

rebranded-logos1

4. Measure Your Total Market: “Most people agree that this is the most important thing you can do as a business owner”, says  Michael Silverstein, a consumer and retail expert with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consulting firm. Many companies make the mistake and measure a narrow representation of what their market is. A good approach is to devote ongoing study in two arenas, within your industry and outside it. How has the market changed in your industry? Is your product or service still relevant? That’s the moneymaking question.

5. Seek Allies: Companies should foster new relationships with retailers and seek allies from within and outside of the industry. It could be hard creating a new brand identity and having other businesses help you through the process will be great for you and will help them in the long run as well!

Rebranding can be difficult if you don’t know what steps to take and what needs to be done.  Fortunately, StrataBlue has helped many businesses rebrand themselves and can help you out, too! Which businesses do you think did a good job rebranding themselves? Let me know in the comments below!

Growth Hacking: The Other Side of Marketing

“A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.” -Sean Ellis

The term “growth hacking” was coined in 2010 by startup advisor and marketer Sean Ellis. To a growth hacker, everything is done for its potential impact on scalable growth. Entrepreneur Andrew Chen later wrote a blog stating that the growth hacker is the new VP Marketing. But don’t get the two roles confused, growth hackers and marketers are not the same.

According to Aaron Ginn in TechCrunch, growth hackers have three common traits: a passion for metrics and data, creativity and curiosity. You could even say that growth hackers step out of the box, ignore the rules and create new ones. One part marketer and one part developer, growth hackers use a plethora of tools to help them reach their goals, including SEO, social media, web analytics, content marketing, case studies, press releases, blogs, white papers and more, typically sticking with low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing.

0-FaxreqlrR90swKWL

Growth hackers are essential to startups. In order for a startup to succeed, it needs to break through all of the market noise, reach its target customers and flourish. While marketers are an important piece of the puzzle, it’s the growth hackers that will get you to your end goal. In a growth hacker’s mind, the sole focus is put on growing. This drives every decision, strategy and campaign.

One popular case study of growth hacking is Dropbox offering more storage to users who referred their friends. Instead of buying into traditional marketing, growth hackers look for a way to acquire new customers that doesn’t cost very much, if anything at all. Dropbox is worth over $4 billion, but doesn’t spend much on advertising due to its growth hacking techniques. Within four years, Dropbox has gained 200 million users, has one billion files saved to it every 24 hours and has over 500 employees. That’s huge for a company to accomplish in four short years.

Do you think you have what it takes to be a growth hacker? I’d suggest you check out GrowthHackers.com, a community to connect and get inspired. Now let’s take a look at the three steps of the growth hacker funnel.

Growth Hacker Funnel

  • Get Visitors: Find new ways for people to land on your product. Just because someone lands on your webpage or finds your product doesn’t mean you’re done; you need your visitors to form a relationship with you. Getting a visitor to connect with you by joining your email list or creating an account on your site turns them from a visitor to a member, which takes us to the next step.
  • Activate Members: Help people take an action that you have decided was necessary for the success of your product. It’s time to turn your members into dedicated users, keeping them coming back regularly. Figure out ways to keep your members engaged, gradually becoming your brand ambassadors.
  • Retain Users: Help people become habitual users of your product. If you get through this third step, you’ve accomplished your goal as a growth hacker. For growth hackers, retaining customers can sometimes be the most important part of the funnel, because if retention is low then all of your previous work has been meaningless.

Not every marketer or developer has what it takes to be a growth hacker, but if you have the potential, it could take you farther than you might have imagined. Check back for more blogs about growth hacking techniques and tips.

 

Super Commercials Guaranteed This Upcoming Sunday

Spoiler alert: John Stamos is back and puppies are guaranteed during commercial breaks of Super Bowl XLVIII. Averaged at $4 million for 30 seconds worth of play time, big brand names and even a first time contender all cut hefty checks to commercialize their products during this upcoming Sunday’s game featuring the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. While die hard NFL fans have been busy planning viewing parties, I’ve been scoping out different brands’ Super Bowl commercial teaser ads and viewing released spots.

Battle of the greek yogurts: In one corner, we have the Greek yogurt big game commercial veteran, Dannon. Getting a jump start ahead of the rest, Dannon released their ad today featuring spokesman John Stamos and two of his Full House comrades, Bob Saget and Dave Coulier. The comedic spot highlighting Dannon’s Oikos yogurt will face off against greek yogurt competitor Chobani. The brand’s first ever minute long Super Bowl ad will have a bear navigating through a supermarket to find “delicious foods with natural ingredients.” The sport will launch Chobani’s new brand platform, “How Matters.”

Doritos is doing it again: Doritos opened up commercial ideas to the public, including all 46 countries the product is sold, for the eighth year in a row with their “Crash the Superbowl Contest.” Consumers will vote for one of the top finalists to be played during a commercial break and Doritos’ marketing team will decide the other. This year, the two winners will get to work on the set of “Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron.” You still can vote for your favorite by tomorrow at midnight. My pick? Doritos Finger Cleaner.

Bud Light trumps all: Searching for Butterfinger’s advertisement or Car Max’s spot online? While you’ll likely find what you are looking for, you are also guaranteed to see searches pop up for Bud Light. The brand’s extensive budget purchased all the Google searches for “Super Bowl ad.” Click on the ad and you’ll be directed to Bud Light’s YouTube channel asking “Are You #UpForWhatever?” The teaser spots revolves around big celebrity names such as Arnold Schwarzenegger playing ping pong and Don Cheadle holding a llama on a leash. Bud Light got my attention and I won’t miss how those scenarios pan out.

Have a favorite Super Bowl teaser I didn’t highlight above or want to live chat with me about the commercials during the game Sunday? Follow me at @whatupTUT and let’s chat! What are some of your favorite Super Bowl commercials of all time?