Your Marketing and Design Reading for The Weekend

As we head into a holiday week, I’m considering the many things for which I am thankful. When it comes to my work, I’m grateful that marketing is an ever-changing field requiring pros to learn and challenge themselves constantly. Personally, I have no interest in doing a job that is the same today as it was ten years ago. This was further reinforced when I was working on a response to a request for a proposal earlier this week. It was obvious the company and the person leading the purchasing process trotted out the same template they’d been using forever, despite the fact it was irrelevant to a review of solutions!

Fortunately, this assembly-line approach is not even a remote possibility in marketing. It seems that changes are happening faster than ever before and what you mastered yesterday is already old hat today. So let’s get busy learning some new stuff!

The New Marketing MachineOnline News and Blog

This post hit home for me because it states: “if you are the only person contributing to your content marketing strategy . . . you’re going to be in trouble.” Because mobile and online social platforms are 24/7 propositions, there is incredible pressure to provide compelling content to engage audiences. As a result, companies need to use all of their resources to publish more content, in more places, more rapidly than ever before. “If you don’t, you may wake up with your website in a ditch.”

The post goes on to say that content has been the lynch pin of the commercial internet since day one. But there are new digital customer behaviors and expectations, additional channels being created and evolving SEO rules to which we must adhere. Staying on top of what’s coming next requires a content marketing blueprint.

The advice is to deepen your contributor bench to enable you to deliver better content more quickly.

  • Step 1. Break Down Silos: stop thinking of the website as separate from the blog or social media. They are channels to tell your story and need to be in sync.
  • Step 2. Enable more internal contributors: if you make it easy and rewarding to get involved, other team members will pitch in. Find those people who are already tweeting all day long.
  • Step 3. Enable more external contributors: There are incentives for outside authors such as incoming links, greater visibility, etc., so go ahead and ask customers, industry leaders and others.
  • Step 4. Everything is content: Reshape your definition of content and you’ll find you are surrounded by it. Customer inquiries, photos and employee events are all content.

Sounds to me like the most important thing to do is to adjust your perspective and become more open to both accepting help and using different content.

Social Media Isn’t Dead: It’s Boring

Social media are tools and are not very interesting on their own because they are just a way to reach people and it is the content that matters. He and Julien Smith wrote The Impact Equation to help people get attention, understanding and, eventually, a relationship of value. Their strategies drill down to the five Cs.

  • Communication:  You have to stand out, embrace simplicity and resonate with your audience or you will not be successful.
  • Content: Build value around ideas that are easy to share so you get more and more attention.
  • Community: To get attention consistently, you must have a relationship-oriented approach or people will not share—a community is essential.
  • Commerce: While specific money-making tactics are not addressed in the book, the point of applying this advice is to increase profits.
  • Customer Service: Service begins before a prospect becomes a customer and every touch point must be seen as an opportunity to display excellence. If we treat people properly, we earn more chances to serve them.

To apply the premise to marketing, sales and service for your business, ask yourself questions such as these. Is it easy for people to contact you? Do you make it easy for them to buy from you? Do you speak customers’ language? Do you communicate on the platforms where they spend time?

How to Simplify Your Social Monitoring

If you are struggling to track mentions of your company and/or key terms and business trends, there are two tools that can make your life easier.

  • Topsy is a search engine that provides real-time insight into online conversations, including the most recent and the most relevant results. Another advantage to using this tool for Twitter is that URLs are automatically expanded so you can see which tweets are linking back to your website and also view tweets about you that don’t use your @handle.
  • Netvibes is a free public relations news wire service that allows you to select from numerous pre-installed search widgets. Search results are arranged by source (e.g., Google, Yahoo!, etc.). You can organize each search topic into separate dashboard and you should set up a tab for each website URL so you’ll know when someone is linking back to you.

Once you set up all of the searches you want to monitor, you just need to check frequently to know almost instantly when you have been mentioned online. Pretty easy, right?

20 Stats Every Global Social Media Marketer Should Know

This post cites interesting statistics from around the world to illustrate how different demographics use various social media and make the point that you should not assume a homogeneous audience when you market online.

  1. Optimize social media for mobile. A recent study by Daily Mail revealed that, next to browsing the web, checking social media sites is the most common activity users perform on their smartphones. Making actual phone calls was fifth on the list! Just as important to know is that 61% of customers who visit a site that is not mobile friendly are likely to visit a competitor’s site.
  2. Understand which social networks are best for your target demographic. Don’t waste valuable marketing dollars and hours on the wrong platform. For example, if you are a B2B company, you might want to use LinkedIn for the U.S. audience. A Hubspot study indicated that 65% of B2B respondents had acquired a customer through LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter are more effective for B2C companies and 77% and 59% have acquired customers through these channels, respectively.
  3. Understand your audience’s online activities and tailor your marketing strategy accordingly. When you know what activities are most popular with your audience when they are online, you can target your campaigns and make the most of your efforts.
  4. Offer online promotions and encourage user-generated content. People use social networks to research products, read reviews and look for promotional offers. When they do this, chances are they are already interested in your offering so make sure they find what they are looking for: testimonials, specifications and discounts or coupons.

23 Tips on How to A/B Test Like a Bada__

On Search Engine Watch’s blog, this post reminds us how important it is to A/B test and tries to take a basic understanding of the practice to the next level. Here are a few of the suggestions that I found most compelling.

2. Minimize friction. Friction is any element on your landing pages that slow down conversions, such as form fields, process steps and page length.

3. Information-entering anxiety. You can recognize this by a pattern of abandonment at certain steps in the process.

4. Clarity trumps persuasion. Rather than focus on selling, be sure visitors know where they are in the sales process, what you want them to do and why.

8.  Test social features. Inclusion of social sharing buttons can actually inhibit sharing for some products, especially those that might be considered sensitive. But you won’t know this unless you test.

9.  Test all best practices. They are called best practices because they have already been tested. However, if getting results are crucial, take the time to test anyway.

12. Don’t ignore the conversion trinity. The trinity is relevance, value and call to action. You should consistently work to enhance one or all of the elements.

17. Violate the sacred. Similar to testing best practices, major results can be achieved when you break those rules that should never be broken.

18.  Don’t be perfect. This is not the goal. Rather, A/B testing is about making things better than they were before.

The theme that emerged for me from all of the suggestions was that we should test common sense and, above all, never stop testing!

Dance Dance Revolution and One Big Reason Why Businesses Prosper Online

The author of this post saw a young woman playing the video game Dance Dance Revolution. When he tried it, he discovered he was as terrible at it as she was amazing. He says that doing business online is not all that different from playing this game.

  • No one is born being good at DDR or business, even Apple.
  • To get better at anything requires practice. Apple had failures like the Lisa, the Macintosh Portable and the ROKR.
  • You have to practice the basics and make small, daily improvements in the fundamentals of business rather than implement the latest trendy trick. The tricks can work in the short-term, but you still need to do the work that matters.

You don’t need an “Easy Button;” just put in the effort.

Are You a Monday Person or a Friday Person

This is an interesting post that talks about how we are all either Monday people or Friday people. The former gets excited about the upcoming week and can’t wait to get started. The latter reflects on a busy week of accomplishments and looks forward to some R&R over the weekend.

The author challenges us to reverse our mindsets for this week by thinking of our Monday as Friday and vice versa.

On Monday:

  • Think positively about all you have accomplished in the past week and contemplate what you need to follow up on in a few days.
  • Don’t attend any meetings (if possible).
  • Contact a satisfied customer.
  • Plan for the weekend.
  • Post fun content on Facebook and Pinterest.
  • Have lunch with colleagues and discuss what will happen during the week.

On Friday:

  • Make a list of what you need to accomplish for the next week.
  • Go to a meeting, especially in the afternoon.
  • Clean your office and get rid of stuff you don’t need
  • Write a blog post about issues in your industry and share it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Avoid entertainment and cute animal news, tweets and videos.

I don’t know if this works but, considering the day of the week when I publish my blog posts, you can probably guess which type of person I am! What about you? Do you think you could shift from being a Friday person to Monday or the reverse?

To all our readers in North America, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and we wish the best to you, as well as your family and friends. Many thanks for all your Likes, comments and shares.

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

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