Digital Marketing All-in-One For Dummies book cover

Digital Marketing All-in-One For Dummies

By: Stephanie Diamond Published: 05-07-2019

Unlock the value in online marketing

A well-executed digital marketing plan is a proven component of success in business, and Digital Marketing All-In-One For Dummies covers everything you need to build and implement a winning plan. Whether you’re a novice in the online space or an expert marketer looking to improve your digital ROI, this book has easy-to-absorb tips and insights that will turn online prospects into loyal customers.

This book compresses the essential information on 8 topics, so you have all the information you need and none of what you don’t. You’ll learn social media marketing, marketing to millennials, account-based marketing, influencer marketing, content marketing strategies, and more!

  • Use targeted, measurable marketing strategies to promote brands and products
  • Increase brand awareness, customer acquisitions, and audience engagement
  • Measure what your online traffic is worth and improve ROI on digital marketing
  • Develop a solid digital marketing plan and put it to work for your brand

From SEO and SEM to brand awareness and why you need it, Digital Marketing All-In-One For Dummies will help you level up your digital marketing game and avoid the common mistakes that might be holding your business back.

Articles From Digital Marketing All-in-One For Dummies

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Digital Marketing All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-23-2022

Digital marketing is continually evolving. New technologies enhance your ability to collect information about your customers and how they view you. This cheat sheet provides you with advice you can immediately put into practice to engage your customers and track their opinions of you.

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Valuable Data Sources for Digital Marketing

Article / Updated 03-06-2020

Data is everywhere, and as such, it’s extremely important. While the data may be overwhelming at times, when used correctly, it’s a valuable source of information that you can use in your digital marketing efforts. Keep in mind that data can often be industry and audience agnostic. By agnostic, it’s meant that raw data can apply to any or all situations and demographics and isn’t necessarily limited by a particular group or scenario. In the following article, you read about several different types of data that you can use in your marketing efforts. Raw data in digital marketing Raw data is information in its purest form. Raw data is data extracted at the source but not yet processed. While raw data can be daunting when you first come across it, it’s completely malleable, which makes it one of the most valuable data types. An example of raw data sorted in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is shown below. Digital marketing and cooked data The industry reference to cooked data relates directly to raw data. Cooked data is what marketers get when raw data has been manipulated in some way to highlight a particular segment, finding, or aspect of the unadulterated information. Social media user data When it comes to social media, you can leverage a treasure trove of user information to create your marketing strategy. For example, Millennials may share answers to questions on their social feed that you never thought to ask. Analyzing your social audience user data can be as simple as reviewing your Facebook Insights data. This data can lead to some significant breakthroughs. Customer lifetime engagement data can drive digital marketing campaigns When a customer engages with your brand across multiple channels, a story is being told. At every touchpoint, or chapter of the story, data is collected, and you can analyze it to improve your marketing efforts. Some groups have a preference for a single sign-in, where they have the ability to use a Facebook or Google profile to sign into all accounts, tools, websites, or online stores. With that single sign-in, information about the customer journey is collected at every step of the way, and that data is hugely valuable for improving the customer experience. Brand profile data shines light on digital marketing efforts You can usually find the jackpot of user data in the brand profile. This user data relates specifically to your organization. Every bit of information you extract directly informs how you might shift your marketing efforts, your sales tactics, or even some of your internal operations to improve efficiency. The image below shows you an example of Amazon’s recommendations. Tracking user profiles and searches and using advanced algorithms that learn about user tastes and preferences, Amazon can make customized recommendations to its customers. Over time, this robust profile data provides a company like Amazon with the ability to build a well-rounded view of each customer at every stage of the buying process. Visualized data, a helpful digital marketing tool Just as with cooked data, visualized information is a representation of some sort of manipulated data in a visual framework. Plenty of tools exist to help users analyze and manipulate data to depict it in visual form. Tableau is one such tool. Big data in digital marketing Big data means exactly what you might think it does. It’s a large amount of data collected from a variety of sources. You can analyze big data to make predictions, identify trends, improve pricing, optimize customer buying paths, and optimize products. While you can find plenty of other areas where big data may be of use, these are some of the most popular cases. Showcasing only big data is a disservice to small and medium business marketing teams. The real value for marketers rests on how you can segment and use this data on a smaller scale. Small data in digital marketing Small data results when you conduct an in-depth analysis of smaller segments of your complete data sets. When your data is condensed into smaller groups, it becomes significantly easier to analyze and more opportunities can be discovered. Diving into your small data can help improve your digital marketing efforts with such things as Message targeting: Creating tailored messages for small groups leads to much higher engagement and conversion. Small data presents opportunities for improved targeting. Content and creative split testing and optimization: When you dive into your small data, you can identify minute details that allow you to optimize your campaign. This again can lead to some pretty dramatic improvements in your results. Rolling ad budget optimization: Improving the performance of your budget means making your ad dollars go further. When you analyze your small data, you can identify new information that leads you to change small details. These details include such things as maximum bids or placements of your ads, and they impact the performance of your campaign as a whole. The opportunities with small data extend even further when you consider the fact that data is always full of surprises. Keep an open mind and analyze every possible angle of your small data subsets. Doing so can lead to major improvements in your digital marketing campaigns. If you have a strategy, a target audience, content, and a series of objectives, the small data you analyze may present findings that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. This can lead to a significant expansion and improvement of your strategies and the overall growth of your business both on and offline. Competitive data offers digital marketing insight You can learn quite a bit when you analyze publicly available competitive data. Your competitors are most likely trying to achieve the same objectives you are. Taking cues and learning lessons from both their successes and missteps will serve you well. What you learn from this process will help you achieve your digital marketing digital objectives in a shorter time frame and avoid some pitfalls that were costly for your competitors. Several tools exist for the purposes of competitive data analysis and tracking. The following three are easy to use: Alexa (an Amazon company): Alexa pulls data from a competitor’s website and digital presence when using the Pro version. The product provides users with insights into the online performance of sites across the web. BuzzSumo: When it comes to tracking your competitors’ social presence, you have dozens of additional options. BuzzSumo provides insights into the performance of content on social media and assists with the development of effective content strategies. TrackMaven: TrackMaven has some great features like content optimization capabilities, integrated social networks including paid ad optimization, and some pretty extensive insights into the performance of your marketing efforts. Other good products are Similarweb, Rival IQ, and SEM Rush. All of the preceding tools can help you Identify responsive audiences: Identify audiences that have been most responsive to your competitors’ content on both websites and social channels. Create effective content strategies: Craft content strategies that have a higher likelihood of driving engagement from your intended audience based on content that has succeeded in your competitors’ campaigns. Discover pain points: Pinpoint missteps and pitfalls that your competitors have suffered or are currently dealing with so that you can avoid facing the same issues. Uncover industry insights: You can use several tools to discover industry insights. Another, more advanced example of a product that highlights industry insights is Crimson Hexagon. (In 2018, Brandwatch.com merged with Crimson Hexagon. At the time of this writing, they’re continuing to operate as separate brands.) You can also achieve the following objectives with the strategic use of industry insights: Development of a new or expanded content strategy Expansion into new media and new platforms based on engagement from your target audiences Development of new short- and long-term objectives Identification of trends that indicate how an additional investment may be beneficial Digital marketing and transactional data Transactional data are the insights gleaned from your customer transactions. If your organization has digitized its client records or if you sell products via an e-commerce platform, then transactional data will be very useful to you. Perhaps the most notable reason why you’ll want to leverage transactional data is for the purpose of improving the buyer journey, thereby shortening the path to conversion and decreasing your internal costs that go into the customer experience and marketing timeline. Transactional data can also be extremely useful to you when allocating your marketing budget. Within a transaction, assuming that your tracking has been properly developed and implemented, you can monitor each touchpoint reached by your customer. Identifying the most valuable touchpoints across hundreds or even thousands of transactions will allow you to optimize the resources to which your budgets are allocated.

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What Is Influencer Marketing and Which Platforms Do Influencers Use?

Article / Updated 11-07-2019

So, what is influencer marketing exactly, and why are marketers so darn excited about it? Influencer marketing is the art and science of engaging people who are influential online to share brand messaging with their audiences in the form of sponsored content. Advertisers have always used celebrity endorsements as a way to increase awareness and improve perception of a brand, because people tend to trust celebrities they admire, and sometimes aspire to be like them. Influencer marketing is similar in concept, but it has ushered in a new way to define celebrity. In addition to TV and movie stars, pro athletes, and musicians, celebrities of the social media world exist now, too. People can build big, engaged audiences on social media, such as through blogs or Instagram. And those social media influencers wield influence over their audiences, akin to celebrity influence. Brands then work with these social media influencers to create a new kind of celebrity endorsement. For example, maybe a new energy drink has just come out, and they want to market themselves as a “perfect boost for busy women.” They decide that — in addition to email blasts, online display ads, and in-person events — they’re going to reach out to influential female bloggers who write about their busy lives (and include information about the new energy drink). To engage these influencers, the energy drink’s marketing team will Find bloggers who meet their target demographic. Reach out to the bloggers in an effective and professional way so that both parties are happy with and clear about their upcoming partnership. Send the bloggers samples of the drink. Enjoy the results of a fantastic social media campaign! The bloggers’ readers are thrilled to have learned about their favorite online friend’s good experiences with this energy drink, and they comment that they’re going to try it themselves. Of course, influencer marketing is not quite that simple, and these are actually quite time-consuming and involved, but the idea is sound. Use this guide to discover how to make influencer marketing work for you, regardless of the size of your business. So why influencer marketing? What makes it so impossible to have done before and so hot right now? Social media today gives access to anyone to become an influencer; anyone who builds an audience can influence that audience. This means there’s a huge pool of influencers available for brands to work with. More tools than ever before exist to help brands find and engage with influencers. There are resources for turnkey influencer programs now that simply didn’t exist. Influencers exist on any channel or platform; they aren’t limited to one format or another. Consumers have little trust in advertising. No one clicks banner ads anymore! But consumers do trust their friends and family when it comes to product recommendations and purchasing decisions — and consumers consider social media acquaintances to be friends. When executed well, influencer marketing programs have proven to be one of the most cost-effective and powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal. The primary influencer platforms A slew of social media platforms are out there, but most influencers focus on the six big ones: The most established: Programs on these platforms are replicable and scalable based on years of data and case studies. The most marketing-friendly: Marketers know they can expect good results from programs on these platforms. The Snapchats of the world are fun, but they haven’t yet proven to yield demonstrable results for most businesses. Regardless of how many new tools emerge, when you’ve mastered the basics of these six platforms, you can manage influencers anywhere. Blogs Blogs were arguably the first form of user-generated content that attracted advertisers. When the web evolved from top-down editorial content (content that was published on websites, much like magazines and newspapers were published, without any way for audiences to interact or respond to that content), bloggers were the first people to attract true, measurable, engaged audiences. Blogs allowed for commenters, which meant bloggers (publishers) were interacting with their audiences. This two-way communication was revolutionary, and entire communities formed around blogs. Advertisers followed. Since 2000, blogs have evolved from being primarily text-heavy outlets for sharing opinion and personal stories, to a dizzying world of highly visual, readily shared content. Blogs are still a mainstay of influencer programs. Here’s why: There are popular blogs for every topic under the sun. Traffic and activity from blogs (page views, visits, time on site, and so on) are easy to measure. Influential bloggers can create gorgeous content and tell beautiful, true stories in a way that brands simply can’t. The evergreen nature of blog content means sponsored posts will be discovered long after programs have been completed. Instagram No other social media tool has enjoyed Instagram’s meteoric rise to prominence. People of all ages (especially under the age of 34) love perusing and sharing snapshots and short videos called Instastories of people’s lives, whether they know them IRL (in real life) or not. Instagram is fun and easy to use, and though marketers were once hesitant to believe that fleeting photos on Instagram could do much for brands, nearly 95 percent of retailers are now on Instagram! Working with influencers on Instagram is fabulous because Users want visual content that’s easy to digest, which is why Instagram is so popular. Engaging Instagram influencers to ensure that brand content is prominent on Instagram is a no-brainer! Simple photos and videos are a great way to bring your product to life, for others to see it in action. A picture really is worth a thousand words. Many tools are available to track Instagram programs simply by using a unique hashtag, so measuring program success is easy (and some of these tools are even free!). Instagram’s audience is broad, and often different from the audiences who are reading story-based blogs. Instagram offers a fantastic additional channel to get sponsored content in front of as many people as possible. Twitter Twitter has changed the news cycle, and the way social media-savvy users consume news. Any event will be discussed and shared as it unfolds in real time on Twitter. Twitter is the platform for the world’s social commentary, whether it’s serving as a political megaphone for citizens reporting live from the trenches, or a humorous collection of ongoing reactions to this season’s Bachelor finale. Facebook is where social media users check in and check up on family and friends (mostly people they know in real life). Twitter is where users go to find out — or share — what’s happening in the world at large with thousands of users they (mostly) don’t know. Therefore, Twitter is great for Hosting chats or “parties” with a wide cross-section of people who have a common interest. Disseminating information about a new product launch or anything newsworthy. Brands that are interested in actively engaging with users. Facebook is more passive — comments may go unanswered for long periods of time, for example. Twitter users expect responses quickly. As a brand, if you can’t engage in near real-time conversations with followers, working with influencers who can do it on your behalf is a fantastic option. Facebook Although Facebook isn’t quite as popular as it once was among the under-25 crowd, millions of Americans check Facebook daily. Marketers have to be there! But being there can be tricky. Facebook changes its algorithms, policies, and ad serving regularly — what worked today may not work tomorrow. It’s tough — but critical — to keep up. For that reason, when it comes to Facebook, working with influencers is fantastic. Here’s why: People who are popular on Facebook know how to navigate the tool to ensure that their posts are seen as widely as possible. Working with influencers means working with experts. If you’ve already created branded content and you just want to disseminate it, engaging Facebook influencers is your perfect solution. Facebook is incredibly powerful for sharing brief, to-the-point messages, such as coupons, in-store sale info, or branded images or videos. Running a company Facebook Page is completely different from engaging influencers to post sponsored content to Facebook. Pinterest After soaring onto the scene, fueled by users who couldn’t get enough of the beautiful, educational, and aspirational tool, Pinterest has established itself as an absolute must for any product-based brand. Pinterest drives more traffic to online retailers than any other site. Here’s why Pinterest is great for influencer marketing: Influencers love to create beautiful content and post it to Pinterest. The more beautiful the content, the more extensive the pin’s reach will be. Working Pinterest into an influencer marketing program means thinking about the brand in a visual way, which ultimately makes the program more successful. For example, how do you make a child’s plastic bucket visually beautiful and pinworthy? By adjusting the program content to work for Pinterest — for example, images of sand castles that influencers made with the plastic bucket or by posting a list of 13 outdoor activities for kids under 5 (and all you need is a bucket!). Unlike other platforms, pins tend to live on and on and on, because they’re pinned and repinned in perpetuity. Video Video influencers are, in some ways, the holy grail of social media influencers. In some cases, their videos reach millions of adoring viewers who can’t wait for the next installment — and to be told what products to try. A popular beauty expert who makes a video about the perfect bronzer will directly affect sales of that bronzer. In the influencer marketing world, video is its own special entity. The most popular video influencers are often quickly scooped up by agents or agencies, which makes it difficult for brands to work directly with them. Popular video influencers can also command much higher compensation than other types of influencers, especially if they have six- and seven-figure followings. The good news is, as video production tools continue to become more ubiquitous, more affordable, and easier to use, there are more up-and-coming video influencers than ever before. Now that you can film nearly theater-quality movies with your camera, more and more people are entering the video influencer world and amassing thousands of viewers who aren’t necessarily reading blogs, checking Pinterest, or using Twitter or Facebook. And when done well, a sponsored video can be as beautiful as a TV ad, while being more authentic and compelling to viewers. To make the most of video influencer programs, Don’t focus too narrowly on YouTube stars. There is video talent everywhere! For example, there are thousands of Snapchat users, who have tremendous followings even though their videos are only seconds long. Keep your eyes open for new talent. When a video talent is discovered by the masses, she’s less likely to work one-on-one with brands or marketers. Allow influencers great creative freedom. Building a video audience isn’t easy to do, and the influencer knows her audience best. If you want her to incorporate brand product or messaging into her work, you have to be willing to allow her the flexibility to do it her way. If you’re working with highly inexperienced and less popular video influencers, be willing to offer help — from editing resources to script ideas — and expect more back-and-forth communication throughout the process. Before deciding which influencer platform is right for you, try to match your align your target audience with a platform and your selected influencer. It would be frustrating to select a social media platform only to have your influencer strategy fail because you didn’t research your influencer’s following.

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The 4 Types of Specialized Content in Digital Marketing

Article / Updated 09-18-2019

As a digital marketer, you should know about several kinds of content. These include pillar content, evergreen content, visual content, and viral content. When developing your content plan and overall digital marketing strategy, you should keep these in mind. Pillar content Do you know what pillar content is? You’re probably using it even if you don’t know the term. Pillar content is quality foundational content that you create to represent your brand. This content can be ebooks, tutorials, or other substantial content pieces that provide value. From this content, you create a variety of other pieces of content that function as a pillar “supporting” a topic. This means that you can take the tutorial you created and turn it into a Video Podcast Mind map Google Hangout Guest post Webinar You really have no limit to the amount of pillar content you can create. Evergreen content Evergreen is an important concept that you should consider when developing your content marketing strategy. Evergreen content is content that can be enjoyed without regard to when it was created. For example, a blog post about “how to be a productive entrepreneur” can be read any time of the year in any recent year. It’s timeless and can keep readers interested whenever they come upon it. Some examples of evergreen content include: Tutorials Support content and FAQs Ebooks Online tools lists Favorite resources Company stories So what should you keep in mind when creating this type of content? You should Make it easy to consume: Visitors appreciate content that doesn’t take a long time to read and isn’t overly complex. Read this article for tips on creating evergreen infographics. Create only high-quality assets: If the content is going to be around for a while and represent your brand, you want to ensure that it can delight and engage customers. Include visuals: Visuals are key to creating great content. Make sure that all evergreen content has graphics, photos, and so on. Create a series: It’s helpful to create evergreen content that is in series form. Readers look for the other articles in a series after they find one of them. An interesting article by Julia McCoy, CEO of Express Writers called “Why You Need to Start Creating Long, Evergreen Content Today” was published in the Search Engine Journal. In the article, she discusses why small business owners specifically benefit from long evergreen content. She lists several reasons that could also apply to any size business: Google rewards more in-depth content, and places you higher in search results. Your visitors appreciate content that is not overly complex but is instructive and useful. You can get leads over a sustained period of time with less effort. Evergreen content keeps you relevant and provides quality content whenever visitors find it. Graphics and other visuals Throughout this book, you see how visuals enhance your content marketing efforts. To emphasize that point, here are just a few stats that show how using visuals powers up your content: When you include an image with a tweet, you get 18 percent more clicks than those without images, and you get 150 percent more retweets (Buffer). ighty-six percent of buyers want interactive/visual content on demand (Demand Gen Report). Your customers respond to visuals, and taking advantage of this responsiveness is imperative for digital marketing. A wide variety of choices are available to you, such as infographics, memes, comics, doodles, sketches, photos, wireframes, custom graphics, and more. Viral content What about viral content? Everybody wants to create it, but do you really know how? Some research done by Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman suggests some of the components that make up viral content. Berger and Milkman published an article in the Journal of Marketing Research called, “What Makes Online Content Viral?” They analyzed New York Times articles and determined that emotion played a large part in creating sharing behavior. Specifically, they found that: Positive content is more likely to go viral than negative content. High psychological arousal fuels viral content. Content that evoked such strong emotions as awe, anger, anxiety, and sadness was more likely to go viral than weaker emotions. This research can help you when you’re creating content with an eye toward going viral, but it can’t ensure your success. One sure-fire way to get some power from viral content is not to write it, but to curate it. Make sure you are providing some content from each category. A well-rounded digital marketing strategy https://www.dummies.com/business/marketing/the-5-components-of-a-digital-marketing-strategy/has the most likelihood of success.

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What to Target for Search Engine Marketing

Article / Updated 09-17-2019

Three main players make up the search marketing landscape, each with a different motivation. Understanding who the players are and what they want gives you a better understanding of how to make search marketing work for your business. The important players in search marketing are Searchers: People who type search queries into search engines Search engines: Programs that searchers use to find products, services, content, and more on the Internet Marketers: The owners or managers of websites and other channels that publish content and make offers to people on the Internet As a marketer and business owner, you want to maximize the amount of traffic, leads, and sales you get from search marketing. To do this, you must give searchers and search engines what they want and that requires understanding SEO best practices. Understanding searchers’ needs The key for both marketers and search engines is understanding the mindset of searchers. By understanding what motivates searchers, marketers and search engines can serve them better. People use search engines every day for everything from researching a school project to looking for reviews for a big-ticket purchase like a car or home. What motivates searchers is simple: They want to find the most relevant, highest-quality web pages about anything and everything they’re searching for, and they want to find those pages now. If marketers and search engines can satisfy searchers, everyone wins. Searchers find what they want; marketers get traffic, leads, and sales; and search engines gain users. Knowing what search engines want in keywords A search engine company, such as Google, is a business, and like any other business, it must generate revenue to survive. As a result, it’s useful to understand how search engines generate that revenue. If you understand what motivates the search engine, you can plan your search strategy accordingly. Most search engines generate most of their revenue by selling advertising. The image below shows a typical set of advertisements in a Google search results page. As a result, it’s in a search engine’s best interest to serve the best, most popular, most relevant content to searchers. Failure to deliver what searchers want sends those searchers elsewhere to find what they’re looking for, which means less opportunity to show ads, which reduces its ability to ask for high advertising rates. Other search engines generate revenue by establishing affiliate relationships with the businesses to which they refer traffic. When a searcher visits one of these affiliate partners and makes a purchase, the search engine makes a commission on that sale. Black hats and white hats in search engine marketing If you want to build a successful search marketing campaign, you need to stay within the borders of each search engine’s terms of service. Search marketing tactics that violate those terms of service are called black hat; those that play within the rules are called white hat. Black hat search marketing tactics are not only unethical (and sometimes illegal), but also bad for business. Violating the terms of a search engine may create short-term results, but those results won’t be sustainable. Search engines like Google continuously update the algorithms they use to rank websites in an effort to squash black hat methods such as link buying and keyword stuffing. Marketers who use white-hat search marketing strategies — those who follow the search engine’s terms of service and build a better user experience for searchers — are rewarded with higher rankings and more traffic, leads, and sales from search engines. Targeting keywords in search engine marketing One way that people discover your business, brands, products, and services is by using search queries typed in search engines. A searcher navigates to a search engine, types a keyword or phrase, and taps or clicks a search button, and the search engine returns popular, relevant results. The searcher clicks or taps one of those results, and he’s off to the races. To help make your brand discoverable and available to a searcher, marketers have two broad categories of search queries to keep in mind: Branded queries: Keywords or keyword phrases that searchers type in search engines when they’re looking for a specific business, brand, product, or service. The search query “Southwest Airlines,” for example, is a branded query that Southwest Airlines should target. Nonbranded queries: Keywords or keyword phrases that searchers type in to search engines when they’re not looking for a specific business, brand, product, or service. The search query “fly to Chicago,” for example, is a nonbranded query that Southwest Airlines should target. By understanding the preceding two categories, marketers can target keywords or keyword phrases to help make their brand discoverable and available to searchers. Suppose that a searcher is looking for a bed-and-breakfast inn, and she types the search query “historic bed and breakfast near me” in Google. This query is a nonbranded search query. The searcher isn’t looking for a particular bed-and-breakfast; she’s simply researching and discovering historic bed-and-breakfasts nearby. On the other hand, the searcher might be searching for a specific bed-and-breakfast, such as Austin’s Inn at Pearl Street, in which case she types a query such as “reviews of Austin’s Inn at Pearl Street.” This query is a branded search query. What is a search query? Each of the billions of search queries entered in search engines each day contain the intent and context of an individual searcher. Intent, as it relates to search marketing, involves understanding what the searcher is looking for. The context of the query is made up of the reason why the searcher has that intent. In other words, intent is the “what” of a search query, and context is the “why.” Following are examples of intent and context of three people who might be searching the Internet: Person 1: I want to start a vegetable garden because I want to add organic food to my diet. Intent: Want to start a vegetable garden. Context: Add organic food to my diet. Person 2: I want to start a vegetable garden because I want to spend more time outdoors. Intent: Want to start a vegetable garden. Context: Spend more time outdoors. Person 3: I want to start a vegetable garden because I want to save money on grocery bills. Intent: Want to start a vegetable garden. Context: Save money on groceries. Each searcher in these examples has the same intent: start a vegetable garden. But each person has a slightly different reason for wanting to start that vegetable garden. In other words, the context behind the intent is different in each case. A search marketer should focus on satisfying both the intent and context of searchers. Each intent and context represents a query worth targeting. In the preceding examples, searchers might type any of the following queries in a search engine: “start a vegetable garden” (intent only) “add organic food to my diet” (context only) “start an organic vegetable garden” (intent and context) A business that sells vegetable gardening products or services would do well to target all these keywords based on the intent and context of its ideal customer. Choosing the right queries to target Each query typed in a search engine contains the searcher’s intent and context, or both. To determine the intent and context that your ideal customer is typing in search engines, you need to do keyword research, using tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Coming up with keywords the “old-fashioned” way Before you start using keyword tools, one of the best ways to do keyword research is to brainstorm ideas with anyone who comes into contact with your customers. After all, you know your customers' wants, needs, and pain points better than a keyword tool does. Gather the appropriate members of your team to answer questions about your customers. This will help you come up with relevant and specific keywords and keyword phrases to research with a keywords tool. After you have completed the brainstorming phase, move on to your respective keyword tool to see what keywords and phrases will work best for your search marketing campaign. To help with your brainstorming, answer questions like these in the subsequent example. Following are examples of how online shoe retailer Zappos might answer questions to sell shoes to people who plan to run a marathon: Q: What is our ideal customer researching before he buys our product or service? A: The ideal diet for a marathon runner. Q: What is our ideal customer interested in that’s related to our product or service? A: Treating sore leg muscles. Q: What barriers does our ideal customer need to overcome before she buys our product or service? A: Finding time to train for a marathon. Q: What does our ideal customer hope to accomplish with our product or service? A: Running a marathon. Q: What information does our ideal customer need to evaluate our product or service against our competitors’ products or services? A: Compare the weight of Nike and Adidas running shoes to train for a marathon. Q: What information does our customer need to buy our product or service? A: The shoe-return policy. Using keyword research tools to optimize your content for search marketing After brainstorming, you move on to your chosen keyword research tool. Dozens of good keyword research tools are available for purchase, but the free Google AdWords Keyword Planner meets the needs of most search marketers. Google provides this free tool to allow advertisers to research the behavior of searchers who use its search engine. Advertisers use the information provided by this tool to choose keywords they bid on. The Keyword Planning tool is free, but you need to sign up for an Adwords account to use it. Typing a keyword phrase like “run a marathon” in the Keyword Planner tool returns several keywords to target: “running event” “marathon runner” “marathon tips” The Google AdWords Keyword Planner gives you the following information about each query: Average monthly searchers: The average number of times people have searched for this exact keyword based on the date range and targeting settings that you selected. Competition: The number of advertisers bidding on this keyword or keyword phrase for a paid traffic campaign. In the Competition column, you can see whether the competition for a keyword idea is low, medium, or high. Don’t be discouraged if you research keywords and find that the Google AdWords Keyword Planner has no information to report. The main reason to use this tool is to research keywords to target on Google’s advertising platform. Keywords that may be absolutely relevant to your business, and thus good keywords to target, may not appear in this tool, particularly for branded queries such as the names of your products, services, or brands. Satisfy searchers with the right keywords and SEO tactics Much like bloodhounds on a hunt, people often search the web until they satisfy their intent, context, or both. To compete for a search query, a marketer needs to create a web page or asset that satisfies the searcher’s query. That web page or asset could be anything from a blog post to a product demonstration video. The web page shown in below satisfies the intent of any searcher who enters the query “mojito recipe” in the Google search engine. The web page shown below satisfies the intent of a searcher who enters the query “buy canon eos 70d” in the Amazon search engine. Other assets you might create to satisfy the intent of a searcher include podcasts, videos, and social media updates. The web page or asset needs to be discoverable by the search engine that the marketer is targeting. The Pinterest search engine, for example, discovers new Pinterest pins added to your Pinterest boards, and the Google search engine discovers new web pages and blog posts added to your website (assuming that you haven’t created any technical barriers for the search engine). If the web page or asset you create satisfies the intent, context, or both of a searcher, it has a chance to be shown to that searcher. That said, many factors determine which web pages and assets are shown for any given query. The trick is to get the formula right so that you are providing the best content for the search query. SEO is an ever-evolving process. Use these resources to stay up to date on SEO.

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What You Should Know Before Hiring an Influencer Marketing Agency

Article / Updated 09-17-2019

The fact that influencer marketing is a rapidly evolving practice can make it hard to evaluate and pick one agency over another. Like any other kind of outsourcing, it helps to start by understanding your budget, and what you want to accomplish with influencer marketing, including the following: Who you want to reach. Where and how they already interact on social media channels, so you know which type of specialist to hire. You don’t go to a Twitter agency if your target is active on YouTube. What type of message you want to share and have the influencers share in turn. Having a clear picture of what you want your influencer marketing program to be will help you set specific and actionable goals for your agency partner, and make it easier to measure the success of your program. You want to be sure that any and all activity supports your business goals. Because if it doesn’t, you’re wasting your time and money! Leveraging relationships in influencer marketing Managing relationships with influencers is hard work. Coming up with a concept, theme, and hashtag is just the beginning! Someone also has to manage the communication and administrative tasks involved with your influencer marketing program, including identifying and recruiting the right people, setting up a contractual agreement, administering payment, and even dealing with typos. Setting up this infrastructure with each individual influencer at any kind of scale is costly and time-consuming, and around every corner is another opportunity to get it wrong and offend the very people you’re trying to convince. Perhaps most important, very few brands (Disney is the exception that proves the rule) have enough content or interesting reasons to interact with any one influencer more than two or three times a year. Influencers don’t want to write about a brand more than that, and their audiences certainly don’t want to read that much content about any one brand! Unless you can come up with diverse, creative angles from which to approach your brand’s messaging (for example, a recipe one month, a post about a vacation the next, favorite pets the next, and so on), while still somehow staying relevant, content will get repetitive and boring. This is where outsourcing to an influencer marketing agency, especially one with a network of influencers, is so valuable. A capable agency will have a comprehensive database with information that helps identify and vet the best candidates to work on your project. They’ll have processes in place for quality control, systems to pay the influencers, and measurement and reporting methodologies. A great influencer marketing agency will even offer first-hand qualitative data about its influencers as well — that is, who is reliable, whose posts produce consistent engagement, who creates the most original/creative content, and which influencers can’t be counted on to meet a deadline! This knowledge can’t be found in a database or by simply looking at statistics. An agency that works on behalf of multiple brands has multiple reasons to contact influencers, building credibility and a relationship over time. In practical terms, this means they have already weeded out the crazies and earned the respect of the good ones. Consider the value of the influencers’ desire to stay in the good graces of an agency that provides them with multiple opportunities to work on prestigious programs — they have more at stake than a single gig paying $150, which means they’re motivated to behave professionally. A strong relationship with an influencer is extra valuable when consumers say they hate your product. The influencer will be more likely to reach out privately with negative feedback, and less likely to take cheap — and brand damaging — shots on a public forum if she sees a long-term value to the relationship. How influencer marketing works: Self-service versus full-service Approaches to managing influencer marketing programs range from fully automated and self-service, to highly personalized, high-touch, custom solutions. Most agencies skew more one way than the other. Each approach has value, and it’s smart to let your needs, rather than a philosophical preference, dictate your selection. Think of it as a choice between an all-you-can-eat buffet in a casino in Las Vegas, or having a personal chef come to your home and make a perfectly designed three-course meal for an intimate dinner date. They both can be delicious, but when you’re in the mood for one, the other choice definitely won’t satisfy you! I <3 control: When self-service platforms rock Often considered the “technology solution,” self-service, automated platforms put the bulk of the control — and responsibility — in your hands. You log in to the vendor’s system and have access to a variety of program components. Many systems let you go in and sort their influencer database according to a set of desired characteristics. This can include demographic factors like household income, education, gender, and number of children, as well as information about their social channel presence like number of followers or monthly blog page views. Automated solutions are usually a cost-effective way to get a general message to a broad audience at scale. Some platforms allow you to review posts before they’re published, which is appealing to brands that are in highly regulated industries like financial services or have a desire to tightly control the messaging. However, the quality of the content tends to be fairly generic, and the engagement of the influencers audiences is often low. Also, there are usually few vetting or validating processes to join these automated platforms, so anyone with an email address can sign up. This approach is fine if you can reach your goals with the lowest common denominator. For example, if you’re trying to sell gift-wrapping supplies during the December holiday season, you can afford to be very general in your targeting and selection of influencers. It’s a safe bet that pretty much every influencer out there has someone in their community of followers who needs a gift bag. Automated solutions also make control freaks happy. Do you want, or even have a pressing business need, to check your results daily or even hourly? Great! Log on and watch the impressions roll in. Just remember that most platform solutions don’t provide very much customer service, so you need to have internal staffing resources, who are trained and available to do most or even all of the program setup, project management, and reporting. Just make it happen: Getting someone else to do the heavy lifting At the other end of the continuum is the full-service influencer marketing agency that manually (or mostly manually — everyone uses some kind of contact management system, even if they don’t give clients access to it!) sets up the program. This gives you great flexibility, starting by allowing you to be very specific in your influencer selection. Need military moms in Florida, with three kids and a family history of diabetes? They can be found and recruited! But it’ll be expensive, it’ll take time, and your program size will be limited by the actual number of people who match your requirements and are also willing to participate in the program. Speaking of participants, the members of this type of network usually meet minimum membership requirements and consequently are of a higher caliber, with better content and higher audience numbers, as well as being more reliable. These more expensive services come with a full suite of benefits for you the marketer, including an expert project manager, who runs the programs, manages influencer communications, and provides you with reporting that can be highly customized. This type of service is great when you really just want to outsource it all. If you want to hand over your list of requirements and goals, and go take care of something else, you’ll be happier with a full-service agency. Deciding which type of influencer marketing agency is right for you Realistically, your influencer marketing program probably needs a little bit of both. And few agencies are purely one or the other, although their pricing and standard service models will start at one point or the other. See the table below for a helpful chart on when to use a self-service agency versus a full-service agency. When to Use a Self-Service Influencer Marketing Agency versus a Full-Service Influencer Marketing Agency Self-Service Full-Service You have a small budget. X You have a bigger budget. X You have few demographic requirements. X You have very specific demographic requirements. X You have a highly engaged, skilled, and/or dedicated internal staff. X You have limited internal resources to manage the project. X You need real-time, frequent reporting. X You have a broad topic that is applicable to most of the population. X You have a very specific or sensitive topic. X

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6 Secrets for Influencer Marketing Success

Article / Updated 09-17-2019

Influencer marketing can be a tricky road to navigate. However, if you approach your campaign with the right expectations, your influencer marketing efforts could yield high results. Use these six secrets to help you set up your influencer marketing programs for success. Secret #1: Set realistic influencer marketing campaign goals Campaign goal setting is important. Why? Because influencer marketing without goals is a waste of time. And influencer marketing without being tied to business goals is an even bigger waste of time. Just as you wouldn’t make a capital expenditure without assessing your business need, you wouldn’t spend money on an influencer marketing campaign unless your end goal was to move your business forward. Check out the questions below to set realist goals for your campaign. “Going viral” is not a goal. If you're thinking: “We need a viral video!” “Make it go viral!” Then you are going about it completely the wrong way. Companies, influenced by the constant barrage of viral videos shared via social media, want all their social media programs to “go viral” and think that virality is the key to brand marketing success. Wanting a campaign to “go viral” is not a viable campaign goal. Going viral isn’t realistic — and, besides, it often doesn’t map to business goals like engagements or sales. What you want to do is set practical, measurable campaign goals that will (maybe) set you up for virality, but more important, help you achieve your sales and/or marketing goals, whether you go viral or not. What are you trying to achieve with influencer marketing? When preparing for an influencer marketing campaign, think about what the overall purpose is. For example, is your campaign: Launching your new company, product, or brand Sharing a charitable initiative Amplifying a special offer, like a coupon Promoting a contest or sweepstakes Advertising an event Your purpose might be one of these, a combination, or all of them. Whatever the case may be, start by thinking about what your marketing need is and how influencers will fit into that plan. How will you assess your achievements? After the purpose of your campaign is set, you need to decide how you’ll assess your achievements by selecting a few measurable targets. These targets can be anything you want — from the number of people who download a coupon to how many times a tweet is shared (tracking via your unique hashtag) — as long as they’re tied to sales or marketing goals. If you’ve never done an influencer campaign before, set some metrics so that you can gather baseline data about your campaign, and then use that baseline data to gauge future campaign success. Here are some suggested targets to get you started: The number of visits to your website The number of increased Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and/or Facebook followers The number of likes, comments, and/or shares a Facebook post gets The percentage of increase in sales due to a coupon or promo code The number of tickets sold to an event based on a trackable URL Increase in foot traffic to your retail store Brand awareness (more people talking about you online) Better data on your customers One of the main reasons why it’s important to have business goals is so that you can track your return on investment (ROI). Influencer marketing isn’t free, and as with any marketing program you run, you want to make sure that the data you gather supports your spend. How will you achieve your influencer marketing goals? When you’ve decided on the purpose of your campaign and how you’ll measure your achievements, you need to think about how you’re going to git ’er done! Here are the main questions you need to answer: Do you have the time, expertise, and resources within your organization to not only create your influencer marketing campaign, but also find, vet, and hire the right influencers for the job? Are you familiar enough with social media analytics to gather and measure the data you’ll be collecting? Would you rather hire expert consultants and/or agencies to do the creative work, manage the influencers, and/or collect the data? How you answer these questions probably depends on the timing of your influencer marketing campaign, your marketing needs, and your budget. If you’re in a hurry, you may want to hire outside help — but keep in mind that most agencies require several weeks of lead time and may charge a quick turnaround fee if you need a campaign to run sooner. If you aren’t on a timeline, you may want to budget to hire a creative team, which includes a staffer who is knowledgeable about influencer or content marketing or an analytics expert. Think about what’s best for your company and your needs, and go from there. When will your influencer marketing campaign run? The timing of your influencer campaign is very important. Think about when you’d like your campaign to run. Is it seasonal? Does it correspond to a holiday? Is it tied to an event you’re promoting? Let’s take a month-long holiday campaign as an example. You have a product that would make a fabulous holiday gift. Ideally, you want to start promoting that product in November, having your influencers marketing your product all month long in advance of the holiday shopping rush. If you’re in the United States, you may want to launch your campaign around Thanksgiving and capitalize on the Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopper mindset. Working backward from there, this means your influencers should be familiar with your product and know what their scope of work is (exactly what’s expected of them and what they’ll be sharing) and have all assets and materials needed (product photos, videos, and/or descriptions) by the date of your program launch. This means that the creative for your campaign — including goals, assets, and influencer scope of work — needs to be completed at least three to four weeks in advance of influencer selection, vetting, and hiring (including getting all employment contracts signed). Depending on the number of influencers you’re hiring, that process alone can take two additional weeks even with experienced professionals doing the selection and vetting. Six weeks in advance of your November campaign launch puts you in mid-September, which means you should already be thinking about plans to lock down your influencer marketing holiday promotion in the summer. Even if your influencer marketing campaign isn’t tied to a holiday, you should give yourself at least two months to come up with a plan, set goals, figure out how you’re going to achieve them, and begin gathering your data. When you’ve done all that, you’re ready to launch your influencer marketing campaign. Secret #2: Know your audience to develop influencer marketing goals The second secret to setting your influencer marketing campaign up for success is knowing who is talking about you and where your potential customers are. Who’s talking about you? If your company has a social media presence, you need to know where your audience — fans and potential customers — is talking about you. Do you have a product or service that people tweet about or share about on blogs? Or are lively conversations happening on your Facebook Page? Before starting any influencer program, take the time to investigate and listen in on conversations already happening about your company, product, industry, and/or competitors on social media and focus on who’s doing the talking. Grassroots conversations may already be happening about your brand. Get to know those influencers. Introduce yourself to them, whether via a hello tweet or by leaving a comment on a blog post, as a way to begin a relationship (see the nearby sidebar). People who are already talking about your brand on social media are your organic influencers. They have the power to affect your brand in positive or negative ways. Establishing an authentic relationship with them — where you engage their opinions and ideas — is a way to keep their view of your company or brand positive. And when you’re ready to start your influencer marketing campaign, you can contact these influencers first to see if they’d like to participate. Where are they talking about you? It’s not just who is talking about you, but where. When you see where the most engaged social media interactions are happening, you can target your influencer marketing campaign to those particular channels. For example, if you’re a fashion or beauty brand, you may want to focus your influencer marketing on Instagram, like Jimmy Choo, Motives Cosmetics, Flash Tattoos, or Christian Siriano. All those brands leverage Instagrammers to share their content. It makes no sense, for example, to focus on Pinterest for an influencer campaign if you sell cloud services. Pinterest is a visual channel, so it lends itself to sharing visual content like recipes, workout ideas, decorating tips, and fashion inspiration. Know where your audience lives. If no one is talking about fundraising on Instagram, you’re wasting your time doing your campaign there. Secret #3: Keep your influencer marketing campaign on message Sometimes the first question seems to be when starting any influencer marketing campaign is, “What’s the hashtag?” The key message is just as important as the goal, and making sure that everything you do drives activity back to your key message matters. If your marketing plan is a rocket ship, your messaging is the flight plan and social media is the rocket fuel. Marketing plan = Rocket ship The rocket ship analogy is useful when talking about influencer marketing. Just as you wouldn’t attempt to explore space without a rocket ship, you shouldn’t engage in influencer marketing without a plan. Messaging = Flight plan With your rocket ship in place, you need a flight plan to get to space, and that’s exactly the purpose of your message. What will you be asking your influencers to do? Share a coupon code? Tweet a link for a charitable donation? Post a photo? Whatever it is, your influencer marketing flight plan needs to have one clear, consistent message. Pick one call to action so you don’t confuse your influencers and/or your potential customers. Social media = Rocket fuel You’ve built your rocket ship and your flight plan is solid. Now it’s time to take off! The social media channels where your influencer marketing campaign will live are the rocket fuel you need to send your campaign into outer space. By tracking where your influencer conversations are already happening, and by leveraging those channels, you can give your influencer marketing campaign the fuel it needs to take off. Influencers will be sharing your content in the channels where it makes the most sense, and you can leverage the influencers’ audiences or communities within those channels to spread your message far and wide. A marketing plan is your rocket ship, and social media is the rocket fuel that sends it to outer space or somewhere amazing. Without a plan, without a ship, you just have a bunch of liquid that can catch fire and burn down your launcher. Secret #4: Keep your influencer marketing campaign agile It’s important to have an influencer marketing plan in place, but be sure to build in contingencies just in case Plan A doesn’t work as planned. Say you have two dozen influencers contracted to write blog posts, but what happens if three of them get sick, one person’s laptop dies, and another has a family emergency and can’t complete her work by your deadline? Hopefully, you’ve also identified five backup influencers who can step in and take their places to get your job done. Even with the best laid plans, anything that can go wrong often will go wrong, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster if you’re prepared. Secret #5: Recognize the power of emotional stories in influencer marketing Emotions — from awe and anger to sadness and joy — make content go viral. You want to set up your influencer marketing campaign to go viral, but Psy is busy making another video (plus you can’t afford to pay him) and your cat is camera shy. How to create a compelling story that people will want to share? Start with a story people will care about! If you want your influencer marketing campaign to be set up for virality, you must create an emotional angle for your story. What emotion will your brand story elicit? Will it play on humor? Or will you aim to inspire? https://www.dummies.com/business/marketing/branding/building-a-brand-for-market-success/Brands have spent millions of dollars on creative concepts and marketing plans to ensure virality. If you don’t have millions of dollars to spend, you have to come up with a compelling story, formulate a solid plan, and identify the right influencers to help spread your message. Then hope for the best. Beyond the emotions of virality, two other factors are at play: Good viral content tugs at the heartstrings or makes people feel something, and that’s not necessarily tied to any of the emotions mentioned earlier. Good viral content is relatable. Content is contagious when people want to feel a part of the story and then share it not only because they relate, but because something about the sharing is a reflection on them as well. Secret #6: You get what you measure in influencer marketing Marketing — especially in new spaces and platforms — is iterative, which means you make changes and adjust as you go. What worked? How do you do it more? How do you scale? You can answer all these questions by setting goals for your campaigns and tracking those goals. In that sense, you get data from what you measure. Let’s say the goal for your month-long holiday influencer marketing campaign was to track the number of visits to your website and to sell more of your product by sharing a coupon code across social media. Your influencer marketing plan should focus on having influencers share a link to your website where people can then find a coupon code to use toward a purchase Before you start your month-long influencer marketing campaign, gather some baseline information about your website traffic and know your typical sales numbers for your product. At the end of the your month-long promotion, check your site traffic and look at your sales numbers. You get what you measure — and hopefully the results are what you were expecting!

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The Role of the Customer Experience in Digital Marketing

Article / Updated 09-16-2019

In today’s marketplace, the customer experience is so important for retention. Buyers want to be able to explore information on all their devices from any location. They explore retail stores, the web, print and broadcast outlets, customer events, and so on, and all in a nonlinear process. What you need to do is to anticipate the potential contact points and provide content for each one to improve the customer experience. But even more important than a focus on touchpoints alone is an understanding of the journey your customers take. You need to walk in their shoes to understand their behavior and what they need. This is where your personas come into play. Of course, mapping the journey using a host of procedures, systems, personas, and touchpoints can be complex. But the payoff is worth it. According to an article called “The Truth About The Customer Experience” in the Harvard Business Review, Alex Rawson, Ewan Duncan, and Conor Jones from McKinsey found that a focus on the buyer journey is “30% to 40% more strongly correlated with customer satisfaction than performance on touchpoints." This is a key finding. If you focus only on individual touchpoints but miss the bigger picture of the buyer journey, you’ll find the mistake costly. Looking at the customer experience from both sides When you and your team meet to discuss the ways you’re going to interact with your audience, you believe that you know where to engage them. Or do you? The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Panasonic, did an interesting worldwide survey in 2014 called “Creating a Seamless Customer Experience.” The survey’s goal was to show how both senior executive and customer groups viewed service delivery to customers. A customer group was shown a list and asked, “Thinking of the ideal customer experience, which of the following elements are most important to you?” The top five elements chosen were as follows: Fast response to inquiries and complaints A simple purchasing process Ability to track orders in real time Clarity and simplicity of product information across channels The ability to interact with the company via multiple channels 24/7 As you can see, the customers wanted fast, simple, always-on interactions. No friction, no delay. Nothing listed here is an unreasonable request for a twenty-first-century company. If your company were rated on these criteria, how well would it do? The same survey asked the executive group and the customer group similar questions. It asked executives, “Which of the following channels does your organization currently use to interact with customers (companies)?” It asked the customer group, “Which of the following channels do you use to learn about and compare products?” The executives focused on a few channels that were popular with customers, but for the most part, the differences between the channels executives thought were important and those that customers chose as important were significant. The five channels that were the most at odds were: Search engines: Twenty-five percent of executives say their company uses search engines to interact with their customers; 69 percent of the customers say they use this channel. Missed content opportunity: Search engines are most often used in the early stages of the buyer journey. If customers are searching and your content isn’t optimized for search engines, you won’t even be on their radar. Friends and family: Zero percent of executives say their company communicates with customers through their family and friends; 51 percent of customers say they consult family and friends. Missed content opportunity: Obviously, this is a big misstep. Recommendations from trusted friends and family are a big factor when deciding to make a purchase. These executives have made no attempt to reach the customer’s influencers on social networks. Independent websites: Nineteen percent of executives say they use independent websites to interact with customers; 46 percent of customers say they use these sites. Missed content opportunity: This mistake is a hard one to understand when you think about all the guest posting and cross promotions available to most marketers. Email: Sixty-seven percent of executives say they use email to interact with customers; 38 percent of customers say they use this channel. Missed content opportunity: This one requires some understanding of what kind of emails executives are referring to. If executives use personalized emails to send targeted content to buyers, they have a good chance of getting the buyers’ attention. Obviously, buyers would have given their email address with the expectation that they would receive emails. If the executives are sending what you would consider spam, that is, content that was neither requested nor desired, these emails would rank very low among customers. Phone: Fifty-five percent of executives say they use the phone to interact with customers; 24 percent of customers say they use this channel. Missed content opportunity: Obviously, this is a tactic that should most often be used in the later stages of a buyer journey and only if the buyer has given permission. Cold calling (that is, without permission) just doesn’t fit with marketing tactics. An omni-channel approach offers a better customer experience One key benefit of mapping your buyer’s journey is that it helps you understand where to put your greatest effort. So how do you go about putting your plan together? Start with an omni-channel mindset. This means that you have to think of all the different customer touchpoints as one integrated journey. No more multi-channel approach; instead, all the channels are connected. A multi-channel experience is not the same as an omni-channel experience. You likely already have a presence on several channels. But if the customer experience on all these channels is not consistent and integrated, you aren’t an omni-channel marketer. Marketers make the common mistake of thinking about their buyer journey as a discrete set of linear steps. For example, marketers create a content plan for their social media channels and another for their website. They forget that consumers are jumping from one channel to another, from different locations and on different devices. They aren’t giving any thought as to how they fit together. That’s your job. According to an article from the readwrite blog (https://readwrite.com/2018/12/12/why-omnichannel-is-important-for-customer-experience) omni-channel strategies allow users to create a personalized experience for themselves. They can access information they need at their own pace and from the channels they frequent. You need to provide prospects with a frictionless journey that doesn’t require an online road map to traverse. If buyers want to look at your Facebook page on their mobile, or look at your website in your bricks and mortar store, you need to make sure they’re viewing a consistent message that ties all their activity together. This idea probably makes sense to you because that’s how you buy products, regardless of whether you’re making a B2B purchase or buying a sofa for your home. In fact, according to Outerbox more than half of all Internet shopping is conducted on a mobile device. When shoppers decide to buy, where they are or which channel they use doesn’t matter. Here’s an example: Imagine that your customers are looking at your website and see something they’re considering purchasing. They want to look at it in your store to make sure that it’s exactly what they want. When they walk into your store, you can trigger a discount coupon on their smartphone. Then they can buy using that coupon. When they return home, they can check your website to look at the shipping arrangements. If you don’t have a bricks-and-mortar store, your customer will still want to shop where and when it’s convenient for them, so you have to create a buyer’s journey that supports that path, too. It's tough to find the downside of a positive customer experience. Make customers the focus of your digital marketing efforts and you will reap the rewards.

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How to Make Influencer Marketing Work for You, Regardless of Your Business Size

Article / Updated 09-16-2019

No matter what size business you have or what kind of marketing or PR background you come from, you can make influencer marketing work for your business — as long as you keep in mind what influencer marketing can and cannot do! The various approaches outlined here can serve as the foundation for the influencer programs you’ll build. Leveraging influencer marketing if you’re an established consumer brand If you represent a large, established brand and you’re looking to launch or enhance your influencer marketing programs, you likely have the experience, resources, and budget to regularly run large-scale programs. Leveraging your advantages If you’re an established brand, you’ve obviously been successful with your marketing and PR programs. Way to go! You have systems and processes in place for your marketing efforts, you know what works, and you have a budget in place for ensuring your campaigns are successful. You should be able to implement all the tips and tricks in your influencer marketing efforts. Use your scale and experience to your advantage! You probably already have access to more data and metrics for influencer marketing than you realize. Many social media metrics tools — the ones you’re already using to monitor your social media programs — have add-ons for measuring influencer activity. Research what your current tools can already do to help save budget while ensuring you’re measuring your programs’ successes. Speaking of measuring success, according to a 2015 study performed by influencer marketing agency Tomason, businesses are, on average, making $6.50 for each $1 spent on influencer marketing. That’s quite a statistic! Data like these support influencer marketing ROI figures and should make an easy case for diverting more marketing budget to influencer marketing. Given the demonstrable ROI, hiring a dedicated person to oversee influencer marketing makes sense. Just as businesses were once reluctant to hire full-time social media resources and now have entire social media teams and agencies, influencer marketing is deserving of full-time strategizing and implementation. Think of influencer marketing as an addition to your current programs, not a standalone effort. Start with your overall marketing plan: What are your goals? Your key messages? Your key milestones? Your social media efforts will be coordinated with your more traditional tactics (digital, print, TV, radio, and so on). There’s no reason for influencer marketing to be any different. Influencers should amplify your efforts, not compete with them! As an established brand, the best reason to use influencer marketing is to help give your brand a fresh perspective. Allowing influencers to tell your story lets other consumers see your brand through their eyes. Handing over the “storytelling keys” to influencers breathes new life and personality into brands that may otherwise feel too staid to consumers. Avoiding common mistakes Larger brands with bigger budgets and teams can run into trouble with influencer marketing by taking too much of a “hands-off” approach. There are, of course, ways to scale influencer marketing programs, but avoid rushing to automation! Don’t fall into one of these traps: Even if you build your own internal pool of influencers, or outsource your programs to an influencer agency, don’t underestimate the amount of work that goes into making influencer campaigns successful. The very reason influencer marketing works is because influencers are real, live human beings — not display ads. There are ways to scale your programs, but influencer marketing is not programmatic. Don’t approach it as though it were. Don’t under-budget! You’re working with individuals (not machines or ad exchanges). No matter how sophisticated your process or tools may be, every influencer campaign will be different, and each will require a larger investment of time and resources than a campaign that only involves “flipping a switch.” Don’t try to control everything. More established brands frequently have a more rigid way of doing things, and are often used to owning — and controlling — their own media. Yes, an influencer campaign would be more automated and controlled if a company simply provided the influencers the exact copy they were supposed to publish — except that’s not influencer marketing. Don’t try to control the messages in the name of efficiency or fear of losing control. Otherwise, you’re just forcing a different kind of display advertising into a medium where it will fall flat. (Bloggers’ audiences don’t want to read a prewritten press release!) Don’t treat your influencers impersonally. The more impersonally you treat your influencers (something that’s easy to do when you’re a large organization), the less personal and less effective their work will be. Treat your influencers like individuals. Finding an approach that works for you As a large and sophisticated company, you have greater flexibility to really leverage influencer marketing and make it work for you. Here’s how: Your overall marketing initiatives can lay the foundation for hugely successful influencer marketing campaigns. You can use influencer marketing to supplement, enhance, and amplify your existing efforts. For example, say you’ve created a two-minute ad spot but only 30 seconds of it will air on TV. Use influencers to showcase the full video across social channels, while everyone uses the same hashtag. Don’t limit your perception of influencer marketing to “something someone else creates over there.” Use and repurpose the amazing content you worked so hard with your influencers to create! Spend the time, energy, and budget to create large, high-quality influencer programs. For example, the kind of programs where the writing and photos and captions and posts are striking, where influencers clearly can and do produce outstanding content for you. And then repurpose that content all day long! Use it in display ads, via social media channels, on your website, even on TV. Be sure to build content usage terms into your influencer contracts. Influencer marketing works in two directions: It’s easy to mostly focus on how influencers do a great job of introducing their readers to a new brand or product — to grow brand awareness, purchase intent, and (ultimately) purchase. But don’t forget that influencer marketing also works well for consumers who are already in the purchasing intent phase. For instance, a guy who’s looking to buy a new vacuum cleaner is going to start by searching online for something like “best family vacuum cleaners.” Imagine how compelling it would be for him to stumble upon a series of blog posts written about a specific vacuum cleaner, especially if those posts were balanced and visually attractive. He’s never heard of these bloggers before, but this demonstrates the long-term impact of influencer marketing programs. What’s more, this man may then further investigate the vacuum he’s read about by going to an online retailer and looking up the model to read reviews. It’s extra powerful to have influencers write reviews directly on retail sites (with full disclosures that they’re being paid for their reviews) to help move the customer from intent to purchase. Using influencer marketing if you’re a small to midsize consumer brand You don’t have all the experience and budget of the major brands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rock influencer marketing! In some ways, you’re actually more likely to be able to enjoy success with this new marketing medium because you’re more nimble and better able to try new things. You can absolutely use your size and lesser-known brand name to your advantage! Leveraging your advantages What you may lack in resources (budget and human capital) will impact the size and length of your influencer programs — you simply won’t have the ability to run giant programs again and again. Instead of breadth of programs, focus on depth of relationships. In other words, do more with less. Spend time upfront identifying influencers who really embody your brand, and develop true, one-on-one working relationships with them. If you can’t pay them in cash, “pay” them with valuable products, insider information, and attention. Treat them as extensions of your workforce. Consider developing brand ambassador programs that span several months. If you have a lesser-known brand, you have more creative freedom. The social media influencer sphere is attracted to innovation and self-expression. The less forced influencer marketing is (that is, the less a brand insists on stringent brand and editorial guidelines when working with influencers), the more likely the program will be to garner users’ attention. Take chances and let your influencers get creative with their assignments! As you’re working to create more awareness of your brand, you’re building your social media presence. Influencer marketing is especially useful at helping companies build their social media followings on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on. Focusing your influencer marketing goals on shorter-term wins, such as building your social media following, means you can better track successes. “Brand awareness” is a good goal, but it’s tricky to measure and expensive to achieve on a broad, national scale. Influencer marketing goals need to be realistic and achievable, especially when your resources are constrained. Avoiding common mistakes Some approaches to influencer marketing simply won’t work, regardless of the size of the company trying to implement them. But there’s a disappointing pattern among small to midsize organizations trying to implement influencer marketing for the first time. Don’t fall into these traps: Don’t underestimate the cost of running influencer marketing programs. Too many companies turn to influencer marketing because they mistakenly think it’s a cheap, easy alternative to other marketing tactics. It’s not! Producing amazing and demonstrably valuable campaigns takes dedicated time and resources. That doesn’t mean you can’t get great bang for your buck, but don’t approach influencer marketing as though it’s a quick fix for marketing ails. Don’t let your influencer marketing take over your marketing budget. Allocate no more than 20 percent of your total marketing budget to your influence marketing programs. Influencer marketing amplifies traditional marketing efforts, but it doesn’t replace them. Don’t forget about how to measure success. Think about what your success metrics are going to be and how you’ll get there. Are you tracking sentiment, brand lift, coupon distribution, social media followers? With what tools and benchmarks? Whatever your goals, start with a small, in-house program with a handful of influencers and let them serve as your benchmark. Too many organizations throw together influencer programs with unrealistic expectations (“Our hashtag will go viral!”) and no way to measure success. Finding an approach that works for you You want to get the most out of your investment, especially because your marketing dollars are likely to be spread thin. Keep these tips in mind as you approach influencer marketing: Given your more limited resources, focus on influencer marketing programs that truly amplify your other marketing efforts rather than programs that operate completely independently from them. If you have a product promo code or sale, use influencers to get that code spread far and wide. If you’re launching a product in stores, coordinate your influencer efforts to launch at the same time. Do you have TV, YouTube, radio, or podcast content you’re proud of? Work with influencers to share that content with their audience. Use influencer marketing to increase awareness of and followers to your social media channels or to increase your email marketing list. This is easier to do if your influencers have one simple, clear, and consistent message. Keep your goals realistic, measurable, and short term. Nurture the relationships you develop with your influencers. You want them to become vocal advocates for your brand — both online and off — even when they aren’t being paid to do so. Reuse the content that your influencers create! Their content can populate your other social channels and resonate with your audience because the content came from users and not just the brand. This is especially true for Facebook, where you’re constantly searching for new content that will engage your readers; posting images and blog links is fast, easy, and very relatable. Using influencer marketing if you’re a startup brand Being a startup is tough in every way and discovering your brand is no different. You’re struggling to build something great internally, while ensuring that potential customers know you exist. Often startups turn to influencer marketing because they think it’s a fast, cheap (read: free) way to get a lot of traction with brand awareness. And although that’s not exactly true, there are ways to make influencer marketing work for startups. Leveraging your advantages The very best advantage you have as a startup is that you’re new and fresh. Maybe you want to be first to market with a cool new concept. Maybe you can do something no one has seen before! Find influencers who care about being trendy and who want to know, see, or do things before their peers, and appeal to this desire — you’ve got something no one else has. If you can’t pay them, offer them first looks, tours of your workspace, beta versions of products before they’re on the market, or stock/equity in your company. Be creative! As you’re trying to get your brand name out there, you have tons of freedom to try new things. PR “stunts” are safer to try. Consider collaborating with potential influencers to do something radical! You don’t have to limit your influencer activity to writing reviews of your product. Consider reaching out to influencers and using them as beta testers. Bloggers can make amazing virtual focus groups. Sometimes, early feedback makes all the difference between a startup succeeding or failing. If you don’t have the resources to pay an influencer to write a public-facing review, the influencer may still be willing to work with you to give you private feedback. Avoiding common mistakes Startups tend to make the following mistakes when it comes to influencer marketing. Avoid doing the following: Assume influencer marketing is quick or cheap. Influencer marketing takes a lot of time and resources, two things most startups don’t often have. Unless there is a clear strategic marketing goal that influencers can help you achieve (such as beta testing), don’t waste your startup energy. Try influencer marketing if your product is an app. If you’re promoting an app, you may want to reconsider influencer marketing. Yes, it can be a fabulous tool for long-term boosts in searches — if you engage a handful of bloggers to include your app as part of a blog series on “perfect apps for kindergarteners,” you can be sure that parents who search for “kindergarten apps” will discover those posts. But you won’t see a surge of downloads directly from blog posts. Don’t max out your marketing budget hiring 50 bloggers to write about your app thinking you’ll see thousands and thousands of downloads as a result. Influencer marketing is not direct response — it will never convert at the rate a startup app needs. Finding an approach that works for you If you’re limited in resources and budget, be very deliberate in how to leverage influencers and know exactly what you’re going to get out of a program before you start one. Influencer marketing can help round out your marketing strategy regardless of your business size. Make sure you’re using it in conjunction to complement your other marketing efforts.

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The 5 Components of a Digital Marketing Strategy

Article / Updated 09-16-2019

Before launching any digital marketing strategy, you need to understand the key components for success. To understand how the pieces of a digital marketing strategy fit together, the components are organized into a framework called the Five Cs. They are (1) company strategy; (2) customer experience; (3); content creation (4), channel promotions, and (5) check-back analysis. Working with the Five Cs framework helps you cover all the bases as you create your digital marketing strategy and implement your plan. Digital marketing strategy component #1: Company strategy The first C is company strategy. To create a digital marketing strategy, you need to begin by looking at your company’s business goals. The question to ask yourself and your team is, “What do we want the company to achieve and how do we make it happen?” You should direct your attention to your goals and business case for undertaking this effort. To that end, consider the following topics: Create a digital marketing strategy. Several components go into a successful marketing strategy. Get your customers’ attention. Marketers are fiercely competing for your customers’ attention. Understand your business model and your brand. Learn about a variety of business models and how to determine what “job” your product does. Decide which marketing campaign to create. After you understand your goals, you can choose the right marketing digital marketing campaign. Develop the strongest offers. You look at how to turn leads into customers by crafting winning offers. Digital marketing strategy component #2: The customer experience The second of the Five Cs is customer experience. You need to learn what your prospects will think, feel, and do when interacting with your brand as part of your digital marketing strategy. The question for your marketing team to ask is, “Who are our prospects and how will we serve them as customers?” You must define your audience and analyze the customer experience. You do this with the following: Collect and analyze customer data. Before you define your audience, you need to evaluate the kind of data you will use. Create personas. You define the characteristics of your perfect audience by investigating several different types of information. Develop the buyer journey. You want to understand the journey your prospect takes from being interested in your product to sold on it. Assist with sales enablement. Your sales team is facing an empowered customer. Your content can assist in making the job easier and more powerful. You can also determine where your company falls on the content maturity scale. Digital marketing strategy component #3: Content creation The third C you should address when developing your digital marketing strategy is content creation. You need to focus on creating quality content (based on your story) that you know your customers want and need. The question to ask is, “How will we create quality content, who will do it, and what will that content be?” You need to develop a strategy for content, define your messaging, and establish your systems and governance rules. Create a content strategy. You should have both a content plan and a content marketing strategy. Develop content types. You want to ensure that you take full advantage of all the types of content available to you, including long- and short-form original content, curated content, and visual content. Know what your customers want. You learn how marketing funnels help you reach your entire audience. Write and storytell. You have a story to tell that will connect with your audience. How do you incorporate it into your content? Create processes and systems. You know that without a documented workflow and procedures, your content marketing efforts fail. Target content for each audience. Your company needs to build a resource library that customers can access without contacting you. Digital marketing strategy component #4: Channel promotions The fourth C in the digital marketing strategic approach is channel promotion. To have your content make the greatest impact, you want to decide where and by whom your content will be distributed. The question to ask is, “How will our prospects and customers find our content so that they can choose us?” You want to make your content easy to find and share. You need to know how to promote your content so that prospects can find it. Use paid, earned, shared, and owned media for maximum reach. Making the most of all types of media is the only way to ensure that your brand voice will be heard. Use search marketing. Although search marketing is constantly changing, you can’t ignore its value. Create sharable content. Sharing is key to any content plan. You should embrace shareability as a strategy and borrow from journalism’s five Ws and one H (who, what, why, where, when, how) as applied to sharing. Add an email marketing campaign. Everyone loves and hates email. But email marketing is still a very important tactic to use to reach customers. Digital marketing strategy component #5: Check-back analysis The fifth C is check-back analysis. The focus here is on the metrics you choose to determine successes or failure of your digital marketing strategy. The question to ask is, “Have we met our goals?” You want to reevaluate your plans and make revisions as necessary: Reassess your business model and brand value. You know that it’s important to frequently assess how things are working. Reexamine your content marketing strategy. Obviously, a determination of how well your content marketing strategy is working is essential. Measure success. If you’re tracking key accounts you need to reassess your goals for each one. Track metrics. It’s helpful to gauge potential new opportunities as you track your metrics. Optimize campaigns for return on investment (ROI). Using split testing and analyzing the speed of your pages is key to optimizing your campaigns. If you do the hard work required to create and implement your plans, you can expect to be on the road to content marketing success. When creating your digital marketing strategy, knowing what other companies with high growth do is helpful. According to a study done by Accenture called “CMOs: Time for digital transformation or risk being left on the sidelines” a large percentage of high-growth companies: Use data and analytics to improve the impact of their marketing (86 percent) Know that digital channels are of strategic importance (84 percent) Make sure that customers get a similar experience across all channels (80 percent) Addressing these components will set you on the path to digital marketing success.

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