• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • alexmoffit
    Alex Moffit on September 4, 2014

    John Doerr on OKRs and Goal Setting at Google and Intel [VIDEO]

    “Ideas are precious, but they’re relatively easy. It’s execution that’s everything,” says John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the man who introduced Objective & Key Results (OKRs) to Google. Google widely credits OKRs for helping the company grow from 40 to 40,000 employees. Other businesses including LinkedIn and Twitter have also embraced OKRs. Hear Doerr explain how the OKR process gets teams pulling together by surfacing what matters most, and how a powerful goal system from BetterWorks is leading organizations to operating excellence.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 15, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • As the mobile internet becomes a greater part of most people's daily online lives, telecom regulators are monitoring service provider attempts to increase revenue by manipulating data service plan pricing.

    As the mobile internet becomes a greater part of most people's daily online lives, telecom regulators are monitoring service provider attempts to increase revenue by manipulating data service plan pricing. Why would mobile network operators risk creating the environment for additional regulatory oversight? They're following the usage trends of the experienced smartphone subscriber, and they know the future mobile data traffic predictions.

    The aggressive deployment of LTE networks has encouraged higher data consumption, providing an opportunity for mobile operators to focus on introducing mobile plans with a higher data quota.

    According to the latest market study by ABI Research, countries that have a monthly data quota in the range of 8 to 10 GB have increased from 21 percent in 1Q 2014 to 83 percent of the total in 2Q 2014.

    Facing a downward trend in ARPU, mobile network operators are in search of solutions to boost their profitability. The introduction of multi-tier, multi-device shared plans allow mobile operators to target different customer segments more effectively, and in some cases, increase the price.

    What's prompted this latest move. Savvy mobile subscribers have discovered they can use over-the-top messaging applications, such as the WhatsApp Messenger, and thereby reduce or remove the service provider fees they've previously paid for text messaging.

    "This shift in monthly data quota provides an opportunity for mobile operators to actually revise their pricing strategy," said Lian Jye Su, research associate at ABI Research.

    This change is being reflected in an average increase of 11.31 percent in the monthly tariff in the top 20 markets. In Canada, all three major mobile operators increased their price by $4.50 -- despite offering an identical data quota (limit) before the price hike.

    On the other hand, 'unlimited' data plans are slowly disappearing, dropping from 50 percent in 1Q 2014 to 27.6 percent in 2Q 2014. Instead of affordable single-device data plans, major mobile operators in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, and Australia are offering multi-device data sharing plans.

    For example, U.S. Cellular focuses its pricing strategy solely around data sharing plans and has increased its prices significantly.

    ABI believes that a shift toward shared data plans signals the mobile operator's marketing strategy to tap into increased data consumption. Personal mobile plans have reached market saturation and service providers are keen to search for other growth segments in the market.

    Mobile network operators are also introducing new 'customizable' personal plans. In Singapore, SingTel launched Asia's first post-paid mobile service that allows complete customization of voice, messaging, and data services. On the other hand, Virgin Mobile introduced a customizable prepaid plan with Walmart in the United States.

    mobile internet / shutterstock

    Social media rearranges your brain and the internet can be addictive. It seems that tweeting for 10 minutes elevates your oxytocin levels as much as 13% in your blood and that creates good feelings that can lead to psychological addiction.

    Nowadays, almost everybody is on internet and especially on social media. But did you ever think about the fact that using those social media platforms can influence the way your brain is wired? Nowadays, people are walking around with their heads glued to their smartphone screen and they communicate with their friends through Facebook or Twitter. That's why it's not really surprising that we question ourselves about this.

    Well, the team at TollFreeForwarding thought about it too. In the infographic below, you will discover how social media rearranges your brain and how the internet can become addictive. Let's face it, many of us can't spend more than five minutes without checking our smartphone and when we do, we spend far too much time on it as opposed to what we would like. And the same goes with any devices with internet or social media access.

    In fact, because of the addiction factor, it seems that tweeting for 10 minutes elevates your oxytocin levels as much as 13% in your blood and that creates good feelings that can lead to psychological addiction. That's why we feel so safe and calm when we use social media platforms. Only 5 hours of surfing the net can change the way our brain is configured. That's powerful stuff!

    When we check in on social media, we produce adrenaline and this hormone is what makes it so addictive. The social media effect is so big that the attention span of internet users went from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. By the way, just to put the information in perspective, the attention span a goldfish is 9 seconds.

    Yes, social media is a good way of communicating, sharing our lives with others and see what's going on with the world. But maybe we should think about the effect of internet on our brain and measure the impact that its usage has on us, before we all turn into crazed internet addicts.

    Your Brain On Social - An infographic by the team at TollFreeForwarding.com

    Photo credit: miss karen / Foter / CC BY

    What are the three most compelling trends to watch out for in marketing automation? And what should buyers be demanding more of from marketing automation solutions?

    In August Gleanster published the 2014 Marketing Automation benchmark report, covering 53 vendors, complete with vendor rankings (based on end-users) and analyst commentary on each vendor. The marketing automation vendor rankings showcase user perceptions across four criteria: ease of use, ease of deployment, features, and overall value. A minimum of 8 users for each solution featured on the FLASH rank these providers on a scale of 1 to 5.

    Click here to view the raw data from the Marketing Automation FLASH

    Click here to view the raw data from the Marketing Automation FLASH

    What are the three most compelling trends to watch out for in marketing automation?

    • Predictive marketing (also commonly referred to as predictive lead scoring, predictive intelligence, and predictive customer lifecycle) platforms are rapidly starting to demonstrate value in the Enterprise and Mid-Size market. These tools use machine-based learning and predictive models to analyze customer data and marketing lists to segment or target leads that have the highest propensity to convert. When you are dealing large organizations with lead volumes in the tens or hundreds of thousands per year, optimizing lead prioritization models can be very powerful- both in terms of marketing spend optimization and revenue lift. I see no reason why these won’t be a core offering in marketing automation – particularly within “marketing cloud” providers that already have establish customers who need these capabilities. Some predictive marketing platforms (Mintigo is one that comes to mind) augment the modeling with additional B2B data, so the solution can actually build models with data you didn’t even know about your customers.  Gleanster will be expanding the research coverage in Predictive Marketing and capturing a benchmark survey in 2014.
    • Forget inbound – unbound your marketing. It’s getting A LOT harder to stand out with your inbound strategy.  It’s also more expensive. Inbound is beneficial, but it will never replace traditional marketing tactics. Don’t let the inbound marketing messaging from vendors convolute your demands from a marketing technology platform. You probably still need to send to lists and execute campaigns that might not have “active leads” in them. Many providers are cracking down on loading purchased lists or monitoring bounce rates and punishing (or downright firing) customers for deploying these tactics. Bottom line, you need to invest in a mix of inbound and outbound marketing – and the marketing automation partner you choose ought to be open to some level of SPAM-compliant outreach to non-opt-in lists, especially if you target and segment your lists based on your relevant communication strategy. That’s the key, you can’t just deliver generic messages to generic lists anymore – it’s bad for your brand.  But you should be able to deliver targeted messages to relevant recipients without “hoping they come across a blog post or find a whitepaper”.  Have faith but keep rowing for the shore.  Thing is, every marketing automation provider used their own platform to send campaigns to “non opt-in recipients” to grow their brand, so there needs to be some wiggle room for paying customers.  With more and more innovation around predictive insights (using your existing win/loss data from your salesforce automation system) you can actually narrow down very relevant target audiences that have the greatest chance of converting.  That way you don’t waste boatloads of money on a top of the funnel strategy that only drives a handful of leads.
    • When making an investment in marketing automation, have the vendor not only demo what it takes to create the outcome they are showing; dive into the configuration. Too many purchase decisions are based on the “promise of what the solution can offer.” Take a look at what’s under the hood to make the demo run.  Expect to see continued innovation in reporting and analytics in marketing automation, users still struggle with these capabilities. We also expect to see some MAJOR innovation with respect to big data in the marketing automation space.  Marketing automation providers are sitting on a massive amount of data about customer strategy and campaign configurations that could and should be used in aggregate to benchmark and recommend campaign strategies that deliver the best results.  Next generation marketing automation solutions should be providing more than campaign template libraries, they should make recommendations about campaign tactics by industry, company size, and performance.

    What should buyers be demanding more of from marketing automation solutions?

    • Reporting is still abysmal in most tools. Specifically, campaign comparisons, visual insights, and custom reporting. There’s a data model in there somewhere; we think marketing automation providers should be partnering with on-demand BI tools to unlock the insights in the customer data. That’s where a whole new generation of marketing automation tools will start to blossom.
    • Email templates and landing page templates are still a nightmare. Look for providers with a wealth of responsive design and email options that render across service providers. Why can’t marketing automation email and landing page configuration be more like Unbounce? This isn’t a knock on marketing automation; this stuff is hard, and it’s a nightmare in email platforms as well. But if marketing automation is supposed to be the next-gen tool to consolidate and replace legacy technologies like stand-alone email, it had better not bring the same challenges to the table.
    • Real-time analysis and real-time CRM integration. In the age of big data we should expect even more from SaaS platforms. It’s really not appropriate for CRM solutions and marketing automation solutions to charge by the drink for computing capacity, data storage, and API calls these days.
    Personalize your invitation by explaining the context of your connection request. Why do you wish to connect? What is the benefit this person will gain from connecting with you? Feel free to reference a recent conversation, LinkedIn Group discussion or other event that brings you closer to your invitee.

    If you’ve ever sent an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, you’ve seen the screen below. If the person is a work colleague or a friend, then checking the appropriate circle and clicking “Send Invitation” can work just fine. But if your invitee is a potential customer or partner with whom you’ve corresponded with once or twice, this is when it pays to get strategic.

    It’s no secret that large networks facilitate social selling success. To help you build your professional network by:

    1. Sending better invitations that resonate with the person you’re sending them to, and
    2. Helping you feel more comfortable sending connection requests to valuable prospects and partners…

    Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 11.12.45 AM

    Here are 5 ways to get better results with your LinkedIn invitations:

    1. Customize your invitations

    Notice the line “Include a personal note:” with (optional) in parentheses in the image above. The truth is, if you’re serious about connecting, and especially if it’s an important prospect or partner, a personal note should be viewed as mandatory.

    To save time, you can create templates for specific networking groups however these should be used as a starting point, not as the final draft because it’s important to…

    2. Tell a story

    Personalize your invitation by explaining the context of your connection request. Why do you wish to connect? What is the benefit this person will gain from connecting with you?

    Feel free to reference a recent conversation, LinkedIn Group discussion or other event that brings you closer to your invitee.

    3. Capitalize on incoming requests

    Think of each request as a new opportunity. Reply with a personal message explaining how your customers benefit from doing business with you along with a description of your ideal prospect. Use incoming requests as an opportunity to include a call to action or to reference relevant content.

    Kicking off your professional relationship in this manner sets the stage for networking opportunities and referrals, increasing your sales lead generation results.

    4. Know your limits

    You have 300 characters to work with. Make ‘em count. If you have room to spare, try deepening the relationship at the outset by calling attention to the LinkedIn Groups or other social/industry platforms you’re active in.

    5. Know your boundaries

    Create your best invite and then let it be. Sending multiple invites to the same person can make you appear desperate, and can inhibit your ability to establish a relationship with the invitee (or those in the invitee’s professional network) in the future.

    If your invitee doesn’t accept, there are other tactics such as blogs and LinkedIn Group discussions you can use to get on the networking radar.

    Best-in-class social sellers take advantage of every opportunity to rise above the “sales noise.” Sending personalized, relevant invitations to connect immediately puts you in higher company than the large majority of sales people who fail to do so. For more social selling tips, follow us @LinkedInSelling.

    You should know that Reddit hates marketers, unless they give real value and are an active part of the community who give real value. With that being said, you shouldn’t leave it out of your next digital campaign.

    Marketing on Reddit has been a big challenge for me to comprehend. Everyone kept telling me: if you’re doing content marketing and still haven’t tapped into the power of Reddit, then you are truly missing out. So I kept going. I would like to share with you 3 tricks that are currently working for me that I haven’t seen any marketers using.

    According to their 2013 stats report, you can easily see why marketers love Reddit. It gains a lot of traffic, active users who share stories and click on articles, and is basically a juggernaut for posting content and luring visitors to your articles.

    Reddit is a social bookmarks platform, that anyone can post content to and up or downvote content. E.G., if you already have the proper content, it can go popular without working too hard on it.

    Instead of writing a long intro about what Reddit is, this video says it all.

    You should know that Reddit hates marketers, unless they give real value and are an active part of the community who give real value.  With that being said, you shouldn’t leave it out of your next digital campaign. This post doesn’t intend to cover the basics, so if you want to learn the basics for Reddit marketing you can check Blue Mountain Media’s quite extensive Reddit marketing guide, or this shorter and more basic Mashable guide, or the Social Media Examiner’s guide.

    To get a lot of traffic through Reddit you will need to have a mixture of great content, gain initial exposure and publish to the right sub-Reddit.

    In this post I want to share with you 3 hacks that will make it easier for you to publish content and go big on Reddit with the best ROI for your marketing time and resources.

    3 Ways to go big on Reddit:

    1) The AMA hack:

    In the past few months, Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) sub-Reddit got pretty huge. As mentioned by Ryan Holiday, a good Reddit’s AMA session “can generate hundreds of thousands of impressions and drive fans into frenzy. It can reinvigorate an established persona or hoist a completely obscure or unusual person into the Internet spotlight”.

    What is an AMA? Holiday explains: “It’s a thread of questions within Reddit, hosted by an interesting person. The Reddit community responds with the type of honest, earnest and provoking questions that would rarely show up in your typical media interview. Anyone can participate, from the host to the casual Reddit user to the fans who simply upvote questions.

    ” While the AMA has become famous for its celebrity hosts, it works pretty well for the regular marketers looking to generate awareness, leads and traffic – if they’re willing to answer questions and be really helpful.

    Lior Frenkel, Co-founder of The NuSchool, an initiative that helps designers become better freelancers, submitted his own AMA a few days ago and got some amazing results.

    While submitting the offer to ask him anything in an off time hour, he got almost instantly dozens of questions and comments for other Redditers, without even promoting the AMA at all.

    Here are some takeaways on how you can conduct your own AMA to generate traffic, impression and reach “superstardom”:

    1.  Go to: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/
    2. Write an informative eye catching description of who you are in the title. For example: “I’m Roy Povarchik, a growth hacker who helps startups get their first 1M users. Ask me anything”.If you have a strong social proof such as: “I’m Kevin Systrome, CEO and founder of Instagram. Ask me anything”, it will also play to your advantage. Make it very clear why should anyone care about you, how you can benefit them and who can benefit from you experience.
    3. Write a short and to the point bio.
    4. Provide a proof that you are who you say you are, having real expertise and value. You can put in a link to a photo of you in a conference next to your name tag or to your personal blog, or startup’s site. It needs to be very clear that you are who you say you are. Lior’s proof wasn’t sufficient at the beginning and Reddit took off his AMA thread until he fixed it. So it is super important.

     

    Screen Shot 2014 09 14 at 5.36.33 PM 3 little known hacks to get more leads using Reddit

    The AMA hack

    When’s the best time to conduct an iAMA?

    When it comes to live interaction online, timing is everything. You don’t want to start your AMA when there’s nobody there to interact with, right? Luckily, there’s a tool for that.

    RedditLater is a free service that lets you schedule a link to be posted to Reddit at a later time. It also has highly useful features that track the most active times by sub-Reddit.

    For example, if you look for the iAMA sub-Reddit, you will notice that Thursday noontime is when best to post your AMA thread.

    See what times work the best for you, go to Reddit, fill the details for your AMA and start engaging.  

    2) The trending sub-Reddits hack:

    We already established that timing is a very important element for Reddit marketing success.

    Timing is not only to know what the hour is, but also to recognize when to post to trending relevant sub-Reddits.

    When a sub-Reddit is trending, it means that it will probably get more traffic than an optimized time on a non-trending sub-Reddit.

    Hence, you shouldn’t look only for the best times to post a certain category, but also track which categories are the best ones to post, based on their trending status.

    RedditMetrics offer you a list of trending sub-Reddits which you can also filter by assuring their relevance to your niche. Simply go to RedditMetrics, see which sub-Reddits are trending, and check if they are relevant to your article. If they are, post them there, and if not, you can also go to the search field at the top-right to analyze and track other sub-Reddits you know will work for you.

    This is where the next trick comes in handy.   

    Screen Shot 2014 09 14 at 5.39.33 PM 3 little known hacks to get more leads using Reddit

    Meet Redditmetrics

     

    3) The Domain hack:

    As a Reddit marketer, you should already know that the most important part of posting content to the website, beside its sheer value, is choosing the right sub-Reddit for your content.

    Posting your content to the wrong sub-Reddit means you can forget about meaningful engagement and traffic.

    So what is the best way to choose the right sub-Reddit when posting new content?

    Most marketers will tell you to search through the different sub-Reddits to find one that is relevant which engages a lot of material. The concept itself isn’t bad, and yet, it counts as an educated guess.

    About two weeks ago, while speaking at a Google campus event, I heard Takipi’s Iris Shoor share a great trick on how to find what sub-Reddits work well for websites that shared similar content.

    Here’s the way to do so:

    Step 1:  Choose a blog/domain that talks about similar topics and shares the same target audience you intend to reach.

    Step 2: In the URL line, type reddit.com/domain/the domain you want to check. For example, if I’d want to know what sub-Reddit work well for Kissmetrics, I’ll type in this link: http://www.reddit.com/domain/blog.kissmetrics.com

    Step 3: Look for posts that are relevant to your topic which preformed well, and check what sub-Reddit they were submitted to. Pretty simple, isn’t it? Just remember, every topic has a different sub-Reddit that will work well for it. Be careful to choose an article similar to yours and not just whatever sub-Reddit that ranked high.

    Screen Shot 2014 09 14 at 5.43.42 PM 3 little known hacks to get more leads using Reddit

    Choose the right Sub-Reddit

     

    Bringing it all together

    Reddit can be a golden unicorn for your content, but it can also function as its bottomless pit. Make sure you apply to Reddit’s marketing rules, and you’ll be fine.

    1. Submit quality content.
    2. Post to the right sub-Reddit.
    3.  Know your timing.

    Do you have any insights from your Reddit’s marketing? Share it in the comments.