Content Marketing: Now What?

You know the feeling of creating the perfect blog post. You’ve done your research and put all of the pieces together. You’ve edited, double checked, triple checked and optimized the content. You spent almost as much time coming up with a clever and catchy title as you did in crafting the blog. This post is your best work yet, it’s bound to go viral, right?

Well…maybe.

Chances are, without the right promotion and distribution, your blog isn’t going viral (no matter how great it is) on its own. Yes, sometimes it happens without any extra effort, but that strategy of wishing and hoping is not going to work for you in the long run. It doesn’t matter if you have incredible content if nobody sees it! Buzzfeed Founder Jonah Peretti has said that when it comes to content marketing, 50% of your time should be spent considering promotion and distribution.

Twitter

Promote your content by tweeting about it, but don’t limit yourself to only one tweet. Send out a link to your blog several times during the day with different copy accompanying the link. You could tweet a quote from the blog, a statistic about the blog topic, how your audience will benefit from reading the content, a catchy headline, one of your thoughts about the blog or a number of other ideas. This makes your Twitter timeline fresh while still promoting one piece of content. By attaching the same link to all of these different tweets, your blog gets more opportunities to be seen by a larger group of people. Space these posts out throughout the span of a week and test out which posts and times work best. Remember, you can’t expect to tweet a link to a blog once have your web traffic go through the roof.

Content Distribution Software

Content discovery offerings such as Outbrain or Taboola can help grow your audience by distributing your content on other sites where people are already in content consumption mode. This audience is targeted, more engaged and likely to stay longer on your content. These content discovery services have networks of publishers to give your content visibility and reach beyond what your social networks can do for you. Outbrain, for instance, appears on over 100,000 online publications and blogs, serving over 100 billion content recommendations every month. While these paid opportunities are not cheap, they send high quality and targeted traffic to your content. If you decide to go this route, remember to keep cost vs. conversion in mind to see if the money you’re spending is worth the results.

Outbrain-link-placements

Email Marketing

If your company has a weekly newsletter, make sure to add a short teaser about your content with a “read more” link. This teaser should entice the email recipients to head over to your website because they want to know more. You could also send a personal email about your content to a select list of people with a link to share. This is the most direct line of communication for you to your audience: straight to their inbox. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email has an ROI of around 4,300%! Email and content marketing go hand in hand.

Direct Outreach

Do you know who the influencers are in your niche? Create an inventory of the most influential bloggers and tweeters in your industry that are engaging, motivating, well-known, impactful and thought leaders. This list can be anywhere from 50 to 500 people. Now it’s time to engage! If you want influencers to interact with your content, you have to interact with theirs. So start by sharing, commenting on and asking questions about their content. Once you have built up a relationship with your influencers, you can start to share your content with them and hope that they share it with their audience. If you have built a strong relationship, you could even email him/her a link and ask for a share (although I wouldn’t recommend doing this frequently).

Facebook

Facebook advertising  is one of the best online marketing options available, mainly for the fact that potential profit is around two to three times better than AdWords and SEM. You can use Facebook advertising to have your content show up in the News Feed of a very targeted audience based on factors such as likes, interests, location, age, gender, education, connections and more. This will expand your reach, drive traffic, increase “likes” on your page and will help improve EdgeRank to help improve your future organic marketing efforts.

Have you found certain tactics that have helped your content go viral?

Why You Failed at Marketing Automation

52% of B2B marketing organizations say lead generation is their #1 marketing challenge. The solution? Marketing automation.

Marketing automation is a very effective tool in providing companies with leads. By nurturing prospects with highly personalized, useful content, marketing automation helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers. Why then are companies failing to capitalize on marketing automation? Here are the most common missteps of companies who use marketing automation wrong:

  • When companies buy email lists, it hurts more than their bank account. When they send emails to people who never requested the information, those emails get flagged for spam, bring down reading rates and hurt the company’s IP address reputation. All this will result in those emails going straight to spam folders for buying email lists.
  • Companies think marketing automation will do the marketing and lead generation for them. This is not the case. Marketing automation will help that company become successful, but it will not do all the work. Companies need to create valuable content that speaks to their potential customers.
  • Email marketing isn’t dead. You can read more about that in a recent blog of ours. It is an ineffective tool if it’s the only channel you are using to talk to your potential customers. The average person will receive more than 10,000 emails this year, according to The Radicati Group, Inc. If companies are only relying on emails, how confident can they be that they are separating themselves from the other email noise? Too many companies use marketing automation solely as an email engine.
  • Nurture campaigns are often considered the most complicated feature of marketing automation. But B2B marketing is very similar to building a relationship with someone. When you nurture a lead, your message should always be relevant and timely based on customer actions. It takes time to figure out what customers want before you can start to sell to them. These types of campaigns have two times the open rates and three times the click-through rate compared to a one-off email. In a nutshell, you have to treat a nurture campaign exactly as you would any other sales relationship.
  • Leads get handed off from the Marketing Department to Sales too early, resulting in raw leads. According to Sirius Decisions, only 2-5% of raw inquiries actually convert to sales. That is a very small percentage to be wasting efforts on.

63% of companies that are outgrowing their competitors use integrated marketing automation. Avoiding a few common mistakes when integrating this tool will keep you and your business in that percentile. Have you already incorporated a marketing automation tool with your business? Has it freed up your time and energy to focus on other tasks? Comment below with your insights!

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.

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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.

 

How Can Marketing Automation Help Your Business?

Getting clicks and impressions on your online content has value, especially when it earns leads. But the bottom line for all businesses is the revenue.

Your business (hopefully) has a social media presence and you send out a weekly email newsletter. Your marketing department stays on top of current trends and brainstorms creative ways to get your message conveyed. You have eye-catching landing pages put in place and your website clicks are increasing. You have assembled the best sales team possibly, but you can’t seem to put your finger on what’s working and what’s not. This is a gap that most marketers don’t know how to fill: how do you tie together all of your efforts to increase revenue?

78% of high-performing marketers indicate that marketing automation systems are partly responsible for improving revenue contribution. Also, 25% of all B2B Fortune 500 companies are already using marketing automation!

So what exactly is marketing automation? If you don’t know, you’re not alone. 44% of B2B buyers do not know what marketing automation is. Marketing automation is a technology that helps move leads from the top of the marketing funnel to becoming a sale at the bottom. This uses a range of information, incorporating both inbound (such as social media) and outbound (such as email) functionality in addition to CRM integration to streamline, automate and measure your marketing efforts. In turn, this will help increase your efficiency and boost your revenue.

Here are some of the key benefits of marketing automation:

  • ROI. One of the most important features of marketing automation is tracking your results. Find out what’s working and what’s not so that you can change your process to help generate more revenue. You can also assign a score to your leads to track your progress through the sales funnel so that you know what’s most important and pressing.
  • Customer Retention. Marketing automation lets you understand your customers’ behavior, allowing you to reach them in a customized manner at different points in the sales process. This also creates customers loyalty and facilitates a long-lasting relationship.
  • Cross Selling. When you know the characteristics, behaviors and actions of your customers, you’ll know how to cross-promote. If you customers likes Product A, they’ll love Product B but hate Product C. This will help turn a customer from a one-time buyer to a devoted fan.
  • Cost Reduction. Cut the amount of time you spend on marketing by automating tasks such as email. Marketing automation provides 70% shorter sales cycles and 54% improvement in sales quota achievement. Think of all the time and resources you could save!
  • Lead Nurturing. One study says that 84% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy. Instead of cold calling, find out exactly when to nurture leads for a sale. You’ll be able to get in front of your customers when they have the intent of buying instead of blindly marketing to them. Not only that, but you’ll know what your potential lead wants, needs and cares about in advance.

Marketing automation isn’t just for large corporations any more; many small and medium businsses are using this software to help improve their marketing strategy. If you’re ready to make the leap instead of being left in the dust, contact us!

Email Marketing Isn’t Dead, It’s Making a Comeback

Email isn’t dead, it’s making a comeback.

According to a 2012 Blue Kangaroo study, 7 in 10 people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the prior week. Also, 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.

Social media is a great tool for building your brand, generating a buzz and spreading the word about your product/service. This is at the top of the sales funnel to help spread your company’s mission to reach a large audience. This allows you to share broad topics and build a community around your brand. So what’s the next step?

When you’re ready to move your customers down the funnel through the path of purchase, it’s time to incorporate email marketing. Research shows that 90% of consumers report daily email use, with the largest group being Millennials. Email marketing goes beyond fans and followers, and is accessible to both mobile and desktop users. What is the point of having a large database of “customers” that have no value or won’t make a purchase when you can target high-value customers and drive them to opt in to your email list?

So how can you increase your email database to start reaching more customers? Here are five things you should be doing:

  • Create a contest. Use a third party app such as Wishpond to create a contest on Facebook and require customers to give you their email in order to enter. Make sure that the contest you create has a relevant prize to your company. For example, if you are a store that sells culinary equipment, have a contest to win a gift card or perhaps a free cooking class. This way, you know that the people who are entering (and giving you their email address) are valuable potential customers.
  • Inform your social media fans and followers when a newsletter is going to come out. Give them a sneak peek of what will be included in the newsletter along with with a link they can follow to sign up. the sneak peek should be a teaser into insider information a reader can only get by being subscribed to your email list.
  • Segment your list to personalize your message. Instead of sending out one mass email to your entire database, tailor your emails by looking at customer data such as browsing history, purchase history and click throughs. Create different variations of your email to send a more private and personal message to your customers.
  • Include a popover window on your website. One study has shown that 43 of all deal email sign ups come from popover email registration boxes.
  • Offer an incentive. Just as social media contests are popular due to the incentives offered, you can grow you email list by offering a discount or free sample. Maybe you give your customers a coupon code for 10% off their next purchase, or perhaps a free sample-sized product. Whatever the incentive is, make it worth your customers’ time to sign up.

Need help getting started? Contact us to get an email marketing plan put into place.