• TheDigitalJen
    Jennifer Stalzer on November 19, 2013

    Tough Lessons to Becoming a Socially Engaged Brand

    About 18 months ago, MasterCard set out on a mission to become the most socially connected and engaged brand in the payments space. As I look back, here's a look at almost ten hard lessons we learned.
  • ChristopherCarfi
    Christopher Carfi on December 9, 2013

    Five Trends That Are Going to Affect Marketing in 2014

    Agile marketing is now a common approach, and includes a healthy loop of building, testing, measuring, learning, refining and improving. There are five trends that you need to be on the lookout for when creating your marketing plans in the coming year, a combination of focus on results and a set of new channels that can connect directly to the bottom line.
  • JeffreyDachis
    Jeffrey Dachis on December 18, 2013

    Real-Time Marketing 101: It All Starts With The Trends

    Imagine you are a marketer in 1951. Harry S. Truman is president and Milton Berle is the most famous person on T.V., raking in 80% of all television viewers every night of the week. It’s the dawn of modern mass marketing. What if you were the first marketer to figure out how to use T.V. to sell stuff? You’d probably be in pretty high demand. The potential to sell your products would be effectively limitless. Well, an innovative, new marketing channel with the potential to rival television for its importance has arrived and marketers are starting to take notice.
  • Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on April 18, 2014

    Six Best Practices for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

    Content marketing is the linchpin of demand creation –the link between brand awareness and lead generation. Done well, it builds familiarity, affinity and trust with prospective and current customers by providing information that resonates – in the right format, through the right channel, at the right time.
  • IBM Social Business
    IBM Social Business on April 18, 2014

    Patterns in Achieving Social Business Success by Leading and Pioneering Organizations

    Here is an excerpt from “Patterns in Achieving Social Business Success by Leading and Pioneering Organizations,” an exclusive whitepaper brought to you by IBM. This whitepaper provides a step-by-step guide for determining your strategy to achieving social business success.
  • Spredfast
    Spredfast Business on May 1, 2014

    The Social Media Pocket Guide: Six Ways Marketers Should Use Social

    This guide walks through each of the “Big Six” objectives and provides a tactical overview of the business case, team considerations and actual content examples and templates to use for your social media initiatives. 
Download the guide now and use it as a cheat sheet on how to get started today using proven tactics and best practices.
  • Actiance
    Actiance Compliance on May 9, 2014

    The Forrester Wave: Social Risk and Compliance Solutions, Q2 2014

    Forbidding employees to use social networks because they may expose your business to risk is no longer a viable business strategy. According to its new report published today, “The Forrester Wave™: Social Risk And Compliance Solutions, Q2 2014,” Forrester Research, Inc. says “the practice of prohibiting social [is] no longer feasible.”
  • Spredfast
    Spredfast Business on June 9, 2014

    6 Blueprints for Social Network Success

    The Big 6 social networks offer tremendous marketing opportunities - but each one is very different from the next. That’s why Spredfast has assembled the 6 Blueprints for Social Network Success. In this quick-read collection, you’ll discover more than 50 constructive, actionable marketing tips and real-world examples from major brands like Hyatt, British Airways, Target, and General Mills. Let’s start building!
  • Synapsify
    Synapsify, Inc. on June 16, 2014

    Piecing Together the Story: Synapsify’s Annual Voice of Customer Industry Survey and Insight

    This eBook reveals the common practices and challenges faced today by social media managers/directors and brand insight analyst and conducted an online survey of 70 social media and content analysts professionally recruited for this survey. The survey results are presented as part of a complimentary eBook in which insight industry professionals shed light on their challenges and common practices they face in understanding the true voice of their customers.
  • If you have a business blog that people read and comment on, you have a real-time focus group. If you answer the comments quickly, a conversation happens. People who read that conversation feel attached to your business because they got interested in your story, and that story is being told in the dialog of the comment section.

    How many blogs do you read?

    How many of the blogs that you read do you comment on?

    How different do you think the blogs you read would be if there were no comments? Or if people did comment?

    People who read blogs have a lot of power — the power of influence. I can’t think of a single thing that a business needs more than the regular input from their customers. After all, businesses need is to know what people will buy, right?

    Without knowing what people are thinking, marketers can only guess. Sure, our guesses are based on data, but that data still isn’t like an actual conversation and it has far less influence than a person’s thoughtful input.

    If you have a business blog that people read and comment on, you have a real-time focus group. If you answer the comments quickly, a conversation happens. People who read that conversation feel attached to your business because they got interested in your story, and that story is being told in the dialog of the comment section.

    If nobody is commenting on your blog, maybe it’s time to figure out why. For starters, the stuff you write about has to be worth commenting on, but it goes farther than that:

    • Is the comment process ridiculously convoluted?
    • Are they reading an email and unable to comment unless they go to the site?
    • Can they get email notifications that a discussion is happening?

    Now it is indeed true that the infamous troll can come out from under a rock somewhere and start to cause chaos in a comment string. But that is why we need moderators. The value of dialog, particularly between a business and customers, is worth dealing with a few trolls.

    Comment dialog gives the writer all sorts of springboards for future blog posts. You know that you are writing what your audience is interested in, and that is something every writer hopes to do. Good conversations will have other benefits, too. Many times, a confusion is cleared up in the comments and other people add their ideas or experience so it just gets better and better. If you are not counting comments as important data in social media marketing, you are missing something good.

    What are you going to do the next time you read a blog and think of a comment?

    commenting on blogs / shutterstock

    You’ve probably invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the creation of your store’s website, but if no one knows about your site, how can they possibly buy from you? Here are the seven website tips for attracting shoppers to your website.

    You’ve probably invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the creation of your store’s website, but if no one knows about your site, how can they possibly buy from you?

    Here are the seven website tips for attracting shoppers to your website.

    1. Excel in SEO

    If customers can’t find your website on a search engine like Google, then you’re never going to get much business. Customers looking to buy a specific items usually start with Google first. Since so few customers go farther than the first page of search results, it is therefore essential that your website be in the top search results.

    google logo

    But how do you get there? Your website should have excellent search engine optimisation (SEO), meaning that it’s easily searchable. Here are a few features of a great SEO website:

    All of these factors will help your website reach the top in search results. Keep in mind that building SEO takes time, usually months. It won’t happen overnight, but if you keep working at it, you’ll see very real results.

    2. Create dynamite content

    blog on shopping site

    Weekly blog content on Mr Porter

    You might be thinking, “I’m a store. Why do I need to have content on my website? People are coming here to buy things.” Many sellers have trouble understanding why they need content on their websites. When a buyer walks into a store, for example, they’re looking for a product, not to read about the industry. So why would you need content on an online store’s website?

    The truth is that content helps build your brand and establish yourself as an expert in your field. By having a blog or producing podcasts or videos, you’re interacting with your audience and showing them what your brand is all about. Your content will keep them up-to-date on the latest advancements or styles in your industry.

    Customers will enjoy shopping at your website because it is both entertaining and informative.

    3. Utilise social media

    Twitter buttons

    Photo: CC-BY Garrett Heath 2013

    Hopefully you already have at least a Facebook fan page, but if you don’t, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Almost all of your customers are using social media in one form or another, and you have the power to connect with them on those platforms.

    All websites should be connected to a Google+ page, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account, no matter what the site is selling. As these are usually considered the three most popular forms of social media, you should have a presence on these sites. Interact with your followers and encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions. They will help you better see how people discovered your website and thus provide insights on how you should direct your marketing efforts.

    You should also look into other social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and StumbleUpon. These sites will allow you to post pictures and create videos that will back to your website and encourage your followers to view and share them with their friends.

    Be sure you provide a link to your website with all the content you post so viewers can easily get to your website.

    4. Master online advertising

    When you’re looking to generate interest for a store in a strip mall, how do you get the word out? Usually it’s with advertisements. You might rent a billboard on a nearby highway or take out an ad in the local paper. On the Internet, ads work similar to billboards. They display a message to people going in the direction of your store, hoping to direct them to you.

    site ads

    Ad on Vogue.com

    Paid online ads, like Google Adwords, are triggered by keyword search. You can pay to have Google target certain keywords that relate to your business and display an ad for your business on certain sites. For example, an online shoe store might target words like “high heels” or “boots.” Customers searching these keywords will see ads for the online store displayed on the Google Display Network sites, sites that have agreed to show these ads, they visit. You’ll get your name in the hands of people who are looking to buy your products.

    There are all types of paid advertising available online so if you’re not sure who to go with or how effective they are, try small campaigns first and use the data to fine tune your campaign.

    5. Consider engaging with affiliate networks

    Affiliate networks are websites that will send traffic to your site in return for a commission fee, usually calculated on a Cost Per Acquisition analysis. If you’re site’s SEO isn’t as high as you’d like, you can commission other higher-ranking sites to help give you a boost and get your name to people who would be interested in your products.

    Though this option is usually fairly cost-effective, it still means that the more people who buy from you, the more of your sales you’ll have to give to your affiliate. Still, for a site just starting to gain an audience, this can be extremely beneficial in building your brand.

    6. Offer free shipping promotions and other incentives

    Sometimes you need appeal to your shopper’s wallet and give him or her a concrete reason for shopping with you.

    Free delivery

    Free delivery by Book Depository

    First, you could offer free shipping or set a value, say $25 or $50, at which shoppers will receive free shipping. While free shipping on every order might seem like a major loss to you, it will definitely attract customers. Rather than buying from a local store, they might feel buying from you is worth saving the trip to the store. Setting a limit will also encourage shoppers to spend a little more to get the free shipping.

    You could also offer promotions and discounts to entice buyers to look around your site. Again, play to your customer’s wallet and give them a chance at a discounted item. They’ll be more likely to want to come back if they know there’s the possibility of getting a product marked down.

    7. Hire a digital advertising marketer or company

    Digital advertisers are committed to building your brand online and obtaining a following on social media. They know how to optimise your website so it will rank higher on Google and other search engines, and they’ll help you cultivate a campaign that combines content and social media marketing.

    There are companies that specialise in digital advertising, but you can also hire a marketer to do this for you. Just be sure that whomever you hire, a company or an individual, they understand you, your message and your goals.

    It won’t happen overnight, but if you keep working at it, you’ll see very real results.

    The post 7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your Pages appeared first on Social Garden.

    Studies have found that 30 percent of smartphone searchers and 25 percent of tablet users buy what they’re looking for within one hour. By making smart use of mobile features like the ability to add a one-touch phone number so that potential customers can call you, retailers can encourage immediate conversion.

    If you have a retail business, you probably “know” that mobile search is important and that you should start thinking about targeting mobile customers. After all, mobile adoption rates and usage continue to skyrocket, transforming this once-niche market into something that’s not only mainstream, but for many is their primary way to access the web and interact with the world. To put a number to it, more than 1.2 billion people now access the internet from mobile device. That’s an audience no one can afford to ignore.

    But just because you have a vague understanding that you should be tapping into this market doesn’t necessarily mean you really understand why mobile customers can be so valuable. What makes this audience so special?

    Mobile customers tend to be shopping now. When someone searches for a product from their mobile devices, there’s a very good chance that they are looking to buy as soon as possible. How good? Studies have found that 30 percent of smartphone searchers and 25 percent of tablet users buy what they’re looking for within one hour. By making smart use of mobile features like the ability to add a one-touch phone number so that potential customers can call you, retailers can encourage immediate conversion.


    Mobile customers follow through more often. According to the Mobile Path to Purchase study conducted by Nielsen, 55 percent of mobile retail shoppers actually end up buying something when they search. This means that you’re getting a better return on your investment when you target a mobile customer because those advertising dollars are aimed at people more likely to end up becoming paying customers.

    Mobile customers spend more. When compared to people using traditional laptops and PCs – either at home or at work – retailers report that mobile users tend to spend more per order. 36 percent of retailers say that this is true for smartphone users and an incredible 77 percent of retailers find that tablet orders have a higher value.


    smart phone user demographicsMobile customers prioritize nearby options. Research has shown that when smartphone users search for a product online, 77 percent of them ultimately go to a physical store to make the purchase. Unless there are no other options available, do you think that someone is going to drive across town? Probably not. This is something that obviously benefits companies with multiple locations, but it can also help small businesses to fend off bigger competitors by reaching customers who happen to be closer to their location.

    Mobile customers buy more often. Google recently released a study showing that 20 percent of people who have smartphones use them to make a purchase every single day. Additionally, 14 percent buy 
    something using their phone once a week, and 60 percent purchase a product or service using their phone at least once a month.

    Mobile customers using smartphones and tablets are wealthier. According to Pew research reports, while a surprisingly high 47 percent of people making $30,000 or less per year have a smartphone, that number jumps to 61 percent for those making $50,000-$75,000 and soars to 81 percent for people earning over that amount. But the findings go beyond that; it’s not just that these potential customers have more money – they actually spend it. In fact, when compared to their less-wealthy counterparts, these users shop more than three times as much.

    As you can see, there are lots of things that make mobile users incredibly valuable to retailers, regardless of how big or small you are. By using the right local search optimization techniques, you can connect with this growing demographic and convert them into paying customers far more readily than their non-mobile counterparts.

    To be effective, the image we are branding our business with needs to reflect our business positively and accurately. It needs to begin with the first impression and carry on from there. There’s no point in selling our business as one that cares if the products or services we deliver, and the way we deliver them, leave our customers disappointed.

    Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings.” -Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

    Most of us know intuitively, that first impressions are important. We don’t like to think that we judge a book by its cover or a person by what they are wearing, but the reality is that we often do. It’s second nature. (Judge: to form a judgment or opinion of, to make a careful guess about.)

    For small businesses, how consumers view us or judge us is often determined, like with people, by outward appearances. Things that are evident right away, before they dig deeper.

    This doesn’t mean we (or our business) need to be the best dressed or look like something we are not. It does mean making sure our image reflects who we are. So that consumers can ‘size us up’ quickly (which they will do anyway) and that the first image or impression we leave them with is a positive one. A first impression that will draw them back to us, cause them to remember us, when they want or need what we have to offer and, just as important, will keep them coming back to us after they have experienced what we have to offer.

    This is where branding comes in! To be effective, the image we are branding our business with needs to reflect our business positively and accurately. There’s no point in selling our business as one that cares if the products or services we deliver, and the way we deliver them, leave our customers disappointed.

    [Image: to reflect the likeness of, to resemble]

    We can spend a lot of money on advertising to bring in first time customers, but if they don’t look further than the first page of our website or physical store front, because the way we present our business is lacking, we’re wasting time and money.

    Branding is critically important, but it will only do so much. If you are a flash in the pan business looking to make a fast buck and then head out-of-town, you might be able to make it work for your business over the short-term. But if you plan to be in the game for a while, you had better deliver on your brand promises or branding will backfire on you big time! Phenomenal branding efforts won’t make up for poor products and services!

    [Brand: to mark with disgrace or infamy]

    At the same time, we may offer the best product and the best service known to man or God. But, if we’re not able to get this message across to potential customers, we will just be another small business with a great service or product that fizzles out due to lack of customers.

    If people don’t know about you or don’t want to know about you, because they don’t really understand the benefits of what you’re offering, your job is to change that. Maybe not your job specifically, you may need help. But it’s your job to take the steps to make sure your business is recognizable and known in the market you serve, that your ‘brand’ is understood.

    Branding is all about image or how people see you and experience you! First impressions and lasting impressions that build your business through attracting new clients and that keep them coming back, and telling others about you.

    Branding will ‘mark you’ to help people remember you and think of you when they are looking for what you offer (think Starbucks, Nike, Apple, McDonalds). It will ‘mark you’ so that your advertising and other marketing campaigns will have the added benefit of your name. Your name will carry weight based on the reality of who you are, what you do and how you do it. You don’t need to be big business for this to work in your local market. But you do need to do the work of building your brand, and this takes time.

    Of course, if you’re not good at what you do, if you don’t provide good service, if you over promise and under deliver, this too will mark your business and impact it in a negative way. Great branding can help solidify a bad reputation in the marketplace too.

    A good reputation is hard to beat. A bad reputation is hard to overcome. Branding can help anchor your brand in the marketplace and build your business.

    Your website is an important piece of your online branding. It is the one piece of online real estate that belongs to you! Ensuring this online space represents your branding, is attractive, easy to view and navigate, for starters, is far more important than many realize. It’s often the first place potential customers go online to find out more about you. Existing customers too!

    Your business may shine in many ways, but if it doesn’t shine online you’re likely losing potential business opportunities. Even with existing customers who visit you online, you may inadvertently be undermining the image you’ve built up in their minds, if you’re not paying attention to your website as an important part of your online brand.

    Social Media is another important and relatively inexpensive way for small businesses to help build their brand online. But don’t pay attention to this area and neglect your website!

    Consistency is an important piece of the branding equation, so for maximum impact ensure all of your branding is aligned, consistent, representative of who you are and clearly marks you as being you.

    And, of course, branding isn’t only skin deep. It’s not just the look of your brand, its who you are, everything you do and how you do everything.

    When Guardians of the Galaxy opens next Friday, Marvel Studios will score a huge opening. This is the latest in a string of successes for Marvel, and it is due to the brand’s adherence to some core tenets. You can apply many ideals of the Marvel method to your own work, and create content that succeeds in a crowded field.

    When Guardians of the Galaxy opens next Friday, Marvel Studios will score a huge opening – currently predicted at $68 million – for a group of obscure characters that are not even well known among most comic book fans.

    This is the latest in a string of successes for Marvel, and it is due to the brand’s adherence to some core tenets. You can apply many ideals of the Marvel method to your own work, and create content that succeeds in a crowded field.

    Take Risks

    Marvel: In a recent Blastr article, Trent Moore asked, “Why has Marvel pumped in an estimated budget of at least $150 million to make a movie about a comic no one has ever heard of? Because they’ve spent the past decade taking risks, and they can’t keep cranking out Captain America and Iron Man sequels forever.”

    Marvel has made a fortune by taking risks. Their first fully self-financed film, Iron Man, starred a (then) washed-up Robert Downey Jr. playing a (then) c-list super hero. The studio has gambled on allowing lesser-known directors to take their shot at blockbuster filmmaking. Marvel’s Avengers strategy relied on an unprecedented five-film lead up designed to familiarize audiences with the major characters (The Avengers grossed more than $1.5 billion worldwide).

    Guardians is another risk, but it is meant to continue to introduce audiences to new characters. Audiences will grow tired of Tony Stark, just as they are tiring of Spider-Man and Optimus Prime. Unlike the Spider-Man and Transformers film series – each of which had their lowest-grossing entries in 2014 – Rather than counting on Iron Man 4, 5 and 6, Marvel is continuing to introduce new waves of characters and potential new franchises. If one misfires (like 2008’s The Incredible Hulk did), Marvel has enough other irons in the fire to stay afloat.

    Any growth requires you to step out of your comfort zone.

    You: Any growth requires you to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t rely on the experts within your own company – start to interview influencers in your field. Trust your staff with access to social channels and try to find your internal brand influencers. Learn about new social and distribution channels and how to use them.

    Set goals for yourself in learning new platforms; if you don’t tweet now, set a goal of five per week. Find a new network that your audience might use. In short, get out there, and take chances that other companies don’t.

    Create unique, authentic, quality content

    Marvel: Marvel continues to change up the formula of the super hero film. They allow each film to fit the unique personalities of the character – Thor presented with Shakespearian overtones, Captain America as a political thriller, and Guardians as an action comedy.

    None of that matters, however, if the product isn’t good. Marvel has yet to produce a film that was rated “rotten” (indicating that less than 60% of reviews are positive) by film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Iron Man (91%), Iron Man 2 (73%), Iron Man 3 (78%), Incredible Hulk (67%), Thor (77%), Thor 2 (65%), Captain America (79%), Captain America 2 (89%), and The Avengers (92%) all averaged good-to-great reviews.

    As Moore notes, “Guardians is the gutsy gamble to prove audiences will turn out for something weird, so long as it’s good.”

    You: Produce relevant content that stays true to your brand. Brands like Subway and REI create content that lives the mission statement – that is authentic, useful and relevant to their customers. The content is not created to make a sale, it is created to build a community.

    That is the difference between content and advertising. However, that hasn’t stopped marketers from trying to hijack the content train. McDonald’s Moms Quality Correspondents content reads like it was written by the company's PR department.

    Unlike McDonald’s, Subway, REI and Marvel know who they are and who their audience is, and they are attempting to make real connections with them, not to fool them.

    Go where the audience is

    Marvel: No film this summer has broken $250 million, which is a rare occurrence. One reason is oversaturation. Action films Amazing Spider-Man 3, Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past all opened within four weeks of each other, and all underperformed based on previous estimates.

    The year’s big winner, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (258.5 million) opened on April 4 and had the whole month to itself. Similarly, Guardians has a wide-open August. Neither of these brands are as strong as Spider-Man or X-Men, but they will do better business than those big names by moving into a less competitive playing field.

    You: Are you getting creative with your content distribution? If you are simply posting to Facebook and Twitter, you are shooting your content into the middle of a battlefield, where it will be extremely difficult to be seen.

    Start to think of a more focused content distribution – as a scalpel and not as a cannon. What unique audiences might be interested in your content and where do they like to get their content? What influencers can you engage and how can you reach them?

    What are your tips for creating content that gets seen and shared? Please let me know in the comments.