• 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.
  • You’ve done everything you can think of to boost your conversion rate via social media, or at least that’s what you think. You follow all the social networking best practices, you post at the optimal times, and you follow back everyone who follows you. But are you using the right pictures?
    You’ve done everything you can think of to boost your conversion rate via social media, or at least that’s what you think. You follow all the social networking best practices, you post at the optimal times, and you follow back everyone who follows you. But are you using the right pictures?

    I hate to be the one to bring you a reality check, but you know that super-attractive happy looking woman holding a toothbrush? That’s what sells, that’s what grabs the majority of the general public’s attention.

    colgate toothbrush

    Is this how you hold a toothbrush? DO WE REALLY GET THIS EXCITED TO BRUSH OUR TEETH?! No, of course not. But the average consumer is easily swayed by the most basic emotional chords – all one needs to do is strum to the tune of beauty, perfection, and smiles.

    Too often people overlook the visual aspect of social media, which is actually a huge part of the experience. Most people report being more engaged by social networking posts that include photos. That’s because they draw attention and can spark interest in a post that otherwise would only have the support of a headline. The more engagement, the better the chance of a conversion, whether that means clicking on a link, signing up for a newsletter or buying a product.

    Here are some ideas for types of images you can use to help pump up your conversion rates from social media networks.

    1. Use High Resolution, Professional Photos That Seamlessly Scale

    You don’t want someone looking at your pictures for all the wrong reasons. An out of focus photo or slightly blurry action shot does nothing to enhance your brand. Instead, they make you look sloppy and too lazy to find a better picture.

    A good, high-quality image can have the opposite effect. It can tell a story with only a few words, which should spark enough interest to click on the accompanying link and bring you a conversion. Many companies prefer to take their own pictures, but if you need some help tracking down good images, try free high-quality image sites to help you find the best generic photos.

    Be careful when cropping. Cropping means discarding pixels and discarding pixels lowers resolution. Don’t crop to a size. Crop to an aspect ratio. Then define the size by assigning a value for the PPI:

    aspect ratio chart

    Also be weary of how file formats scale. Whether it’s a .jpeg or a .png or a .jpeg that converts a .png, scaling to fit Facebook and Twitter ratios can easily result in a loss of quality. This why have a RAW version of your photo or image is vital. Additionally, by using a vector based program such as Illustrator, you can seamlessly scale without worrying about loss of quality.

    SME facebook post

    This also means you’ll need the current specs for the different image options on different social media networks. SproutSocial has a public Google doc they maintain with the most current image sizes, which can be accessed here.

    2. Look at Things From a Different Angle

    “Pictures should be interesting.” Well isn’t that the most general advice you’ve ever heard? A professional photographer has a different view for what constitutes as interesting. Vantage points, subliminal messaging, and goals are part of an equation that amateurs would otherwise neglect.

    Why post a straightforward photo of an orange when you could get one that’s twice as appealing by shooting the photo overhead or off from the far right? People pay attention to things on social media when you hit them with something they aren’t expecting. They tend to scroll right past images that they do expect, and so your task is to make your photo stand out. Things like color psychology and copywriting play a crucial role here. But don’t forget about the toothbrush takeaway – it’s in our human nature to be drawn towards people that are smiling and look like they’re having a great time – even if we’re advertising analytics software. Obviously this is more of a “fail-case” solution if you’re simply out of ideas. Here are some examples of different products being advertised on Facebook – which do  you think is the most effective?

     

    fb1 fb2 fb3

    It’s  the Sweeperland advertisement. The Americommerce and Qualaroo ads are way too general; both their headline and their generic images. They don’t grab us or immediately shows us a unique selling point. We really shouldn’t have to read the side-text. Sweeperland is targeted, highlights exactly what we would get, and clearly describes the product in the headline. Since these ads are hyper-targeted, my guess is Sweeperpland would have most ROI.

    Additionally, try consulting peers and coworkers before going live with a social media advertising campaign. Email a select group of your peers with how the ad would be displayed and ask if this is something they could click on and if not, what they would change about it.

    3. 360-degree spin images convert 27% higher than standard photos

    If you want to go really high-tech, add a spin to your imaging. A maternity clothing site, DueMaternity, added this feature to its product images and increased conversion rates by 27 percent. Make sure you use a professional who can instruct you on the proper way to do this, since it’s not an easy trick to pull off.

    Along the same vein of emerging ad practices, consider giving people incentives for sharing photos of their own. This has been a wildly popular strategy that really hits home with all demographics of smartphone owners. For example:

    Some social media platforms only support your run-of-the mill static ad. In these cases, resorting to essentials such as buzzwords like “new” and high energy colors like purple, orange, and yellow, can be very effective:

    taco bell ad

    4. Feature Your Products In Comparison Examples

    People want to get a good look at what they’re buying. It helps to post very clear pictures of the products you are selling so that potential buyers can get a good idea of what is available. It’s smart to post multiple photos so that people get a better view of what the product looks like all around. If you are selling something where size is important, put an anchor in the photo, say a quarter next to a small object or an apple next to a medium-sized one, so that people can see the true size dimensions.

    oscar mayer tweet ad

    Comparison examples are a great way to help people immediately spot the difference between your product and your competitors. This has been applied to traditional TV ads for decades and is similar to the before & after model. When you see this image what do you think?

    mac v pc

    PC vs Mac. It’s been embedded into our brains after having seen it over twenty times.

    Comparing yourself to the general “competitor” allows for a visual demonstration of why your product is the best. Plain and simple.

    5. Use Pictures of People

    Studies have shown that images of human beings can send conversion rates soaring. We’ve already covered this, but it often gets misinterpreted. Specifically, a person making eye contact, that’s both smiling and attractive to many will always capture more eyeballs than two people in business suits expressing joy in something out of focus.

    customer ad highrise

    Of course, it’s easy if you sell something like clothes. You show someone wearing your clothes as opposed to a mannequin with them on. It becomes more complicated if you’re selling something more abstract, such as data or drug rehabilitation. But try your best to work people into your photos, whether they’re in the background or the focus of the picture. Even better if those people happen to work for you and you can mention their stories.

    Even your regular Facebook posts can utilize our natural draw to personal stories and connections to humans. DBK Concepts does a great job of this in their recent Facebook post:

    dbk facebook example

     

    This is a great way to shed the “corporate skin” many businesses retain when they post on social media networks. It humanizes them and makes it easy for us to connect on a personal level. Plus this is great for improving brand disposition and awareness!

    6. Feature Elements and Words That Are Emerging

    It stands to reason that people will be drawn in by images of things they like. This is why kitten videos are so darn popular on YouTube. So when you include photos of things people like with your posts, your engagement rate will soar and so will your conversion rates. Similarly, buzzwords, campaigns, and breakthroughs in technology (for example) can present perfect advertising opportunities. We read an article about quantum computing and then all of a sudden it shows up in our feeds as an ad – but it doesn’t like an ad because we’re genuinely interested in it:

    microsoft tweet ad

    There have been studies linking images of beer to increased conversion rates, even when the advertiser itself had nothing to do with beer. The lesson is that the beer will draw in people’s attention and make them more likely to click, even if the advertised product is 180 degrees different from an alcoholic beverage.

    By getting creative, using the best-quality images, and keeping up with the latest research on what types of images drive engagement, you’ll find your conversion rates climbing with very little effort on your part.

    The post The Highest Converting Images to Use on Social Media Networks appeared first on Mashbout.

    With 94% of internet users having an email address, and most of them checking their inboxes on a daily basis, email is the most popular online activity. Especially with the prevalence of mobile technologies, people are always listening. What this means to you as a business owner is that there is a not-so-new personal way of getting in touch with customers! In addition, email offers an easy way to track your success.
    Email Marketing Beats Social Media
     
    Rock, Paper, Scissors, Email, Social Media. Which one do you choose?
     
    A recently published report by McKinsey featured in the Entrepreneur states that email is significantly more effective than Social Media. As a matter of fact, the researchers have found that email is 40 times more effective than Twitter and Facebook combined!
     
    Depending on your personal experience, you may find this report either mind-blowing or simply that it states something that you already knew.
     
    Not so long ago, some thought (and some may still think) that email was a thing of the past. I remember having a very heated discussion with a friend of mine who argued that the good old email will soon be replaced by other message-based services such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Maybe, I argued, but you still need an email address to log into Facebook!
     
    I must agree that nowadays we are inundated with choice due to the sheer volume of messaging services available to us, however that doesn’t make the good old email obsolete. Au contraire, email continues to be the first online stop for many of us and when it comes to shopping and purchasing behaviour it seems that it is our preferred medium! And McKinsey’s backing me up on this one!
     
    According to the study ‘the rate at which emails prompt purchases is not only estimated to be at least 3 times that of Social Media, but the average order value is also 17% higher’. So not only is email more popular when acquiring customers, but those obtained by email also tend to spend more!
     
    One of the powers of email is its opt-in feature. That instantly makes email a form of consensual marketing. Its permission based feature (people allow you to get in touch with them via email) essentially means that customers have given you the green-light to contact them. They want your messages, they are interested in your offering. Therefore, the success rate and the conversion of leads and prospects into actual clients is so much more likely to happen!
     
    With 94% of internet users having an email address, and most of them checking their inboxes on a daily basis, email is the most popular online activity. Especially with the prevalence of mobile technologies, people are always listening. What this means to you as a business owner is that there is a not-so-new personal way of getting in touch with customers! In addition, email offers an easy way to track your success. Open and click-through rates and reports are a standard features for most email services; you can also measure the return on investment. This is something that Social Media still needs to work on since their ROI is more of a guesstimate. Social Media does deserve the hype, but when it comes to actual results and effectiveness, email marketing comes first as the undisputed winner.
     
    Don’t be too hasty to delete your Facebook account though! Social Media is still a great way to generate exposure and convert referrals. So don’t cherry-pick one or the other, integrate!
     
    Always cross advertise! Add a Newsletter sign up to your Social Media accounts, and always include Social Media buttons to your newsletters. Encourage people to share! Still don't have a decent email marketing software? Why not try InTouch?
     
    If you are wondering how to start compiling emails to connect with customers, some simple things can help. Put a messages on your checkout counter saying ‘Text us your email address and get 10% off your next purchase’, for example. For more tips on how to grow your email list click here.
     
    Which one do you choose?
     
    What’s your opinion? Which one do you prefer- Social Media, Email, both of them or none of them? Let me know!
    Yelp is ten years old and they gave everybody else a gift to celebrate, a new toy called Yelp Trends. Now I know it’s a serious tool because it is a decade of data, but is it fun.

    Yelp is ten years old and they gave everybody else a gift to celebrate — a new toy called Yelp Trends. Now I know it’s a serious tool because it is a decade of data on 98 cities in 20 different countries but wow, is it fun. You can look at their suggestions, like whether chicken & waffles became popular before deviled eggs in San Francisco. This answers their question about which came first, the chicken or the egg…..

    The Toy Is A Tool

    Seriously, being able to look at what real people looked for in local searches gives you a handle on what, over time, has trended in different regions. If you are anywhere close to one of those regions it would be very helpful in seeing how your own products or services have trended over the last ten years. You can identify at a glance what’s hot and what’s cooling off. And you could put in your competition to see how they have done.

    Data crunching is not always fun, but this tool does make it amusing if you want to get sidetracked. It’s a good way to see how trends grow and die all over the world and give a larger perspective on marketing and local search.

    Local Search Is Usually Mobile

    One thing that strikes me as I look at Yelp Trends is the fact that most of the searches were probably on a mobile device. Somebody got hungry for chicken & waffles or deviled eggs and looked for where they could get it nearby. One of the trends that isn’t a fad is mobile search and if your business isn’t ready for it you will miss the boat.

    Responsive website design & development and local search engines like Yelp have grown together over the last ten years and while I can’t predict the future for Yelp, I am pretty sure that mobile devices and local search is here to stay.

    Photo Credit: Local Search Toys/shutterstock

    In the late 90s, some organization declared the World Wide Web over. The prediction of the web’s demise was based on the decline in the number of press releases announcing the launch of a new corporate website.

    With apologies to Monty Python...

    In the late 90s, some organization declared the World Wide Web was over. The prediction of the web’s demise was based on the decline in the number of corporate press releases announcing the launch of a new corporate website. (I have tried to find that report. I’ve come up empty, but my memory of the report is so clear that I’m willing to bet real money that the prediction happened.)

    Of course, the web was not in decline. It had just become so common for companies to have websites that announcing it not only didn’t get you any coverage, it made you look behind the times. (“Oh, you’re finally getting around to launching a website, are you?”)

    It wasn’t long after that when you stopped hearing so much about the development of new web technologies. The really cool stuff in any new technology tends to come early in it life when the big advances—like being able to watch video on the web—catch everyone’s eye. But neither the decline in site launch announcements nor the slowed pace of innovation signaled that we had somehow moved into a post-web era.

    The assertion that the web was over back in the late 90s came to mind as I read Geoff Livingston’s intriguing post claiming that we have entered a post social media era. Geoff’s a smart guy whose posts spark some deep thinking. But I don’t agree that we’re in a post social media era, or even close to one. Geoff listed seven reasons, but I want to address only the first two in this post.

    Firs, Geoff argues:

    New social networking apps, while still developing, are not generating huge investment rounds or attention anymore. Heck, even the most mainstream of social networking apps are retooling to meet the new mobile visual Internet. As the old adage goes, follow the money.

    His second reason notes that the social media IPO craze might be drawing to a close. “No big U.S. social media start-ups are on the horizon with the exception of Pinterest,” he says.

    Reddit For {fill in the blank}

    In a comment, I challenged the idea that innovation was over, and Geoff replied that incremental advances will continue, but that the big money will flow toward other types of tools. I don’t disagree that the Internet of Things and the age of context will drive a lot of innovation and investment, but doesn’t signal an automatic and conurrent decline in social media innovation.

    I just learned, for example, of the launch of a relatively new site called Product Hunt, which founder Ryan Hoover calls “Reddit for products.” It’s a pure social media play, a community built around new products in which community members vote new products up or down and comment on them. According to TechCrunch, Product Hunt is in the current Y Combinator batch.

    Product Hunt isn’t the only “Reddit for Blank” tool that has found its footing in recent months. I have reported on Betterific, which you could call Reddit for customer feedback. There are few tools more social media-centric than Reddit, which is serving as a model for a lot of new sites.

    The rise of the professional social network

    Professional-centric social networks are another category attracting investors. Forty percent of all doctors in the U.S. use Doximity, which recently was financed to the tune of $50 million. College students are flocking to Piazza, which raised $8 million. RallyPoint raised $5.3 million; it’s billed as “LinkedIn for the military.” It was only in 2012 when GitHub, a social network for software engineers, raised $100 million.

    There are other social media companies getting healthy investment rounds, including Inbilin, a social networking voice call app, which raised $15 million. A Chinese social shopping platform, Mogujie, raised $200 million. Why haven’t we heard of these? Why aren’t they all over the news? They’re just not as sexy as Facebook and Pinterest were when they were new. They represent more infrastructure than the networking itself. And, let’s face it, we’re kind of bored by new innovations for maturing technologies.

    Investment isn’t the only sign that social media innovation continues unabated, even if the most of the sexiest innovations were introduced back in the early, heady days of social media. The Wall Street Journal points out that Facebook continues to soar among consumers, the adoption of social media in the enterprise still hasn’t ramped up. The integration of social media into work processes is taking longer than expected, and a lot of innovation is still to come on that front.

    Much of the innovation currently taking is wrapped up in the shift to mobile, with Facebook and other social networks launching apps. These may be single-purpose apps—consider Instagram, which Facebook acquired—but they’re still pure social plays.

    Baking social media into the web

    Nothing, however, speaks more to the continuing rise of social media than the announcement a few days ago that the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has launched an initiative to standardize social networking technology into the web. The W3C effort will “create a standard way of building social-network operations into the Web,” according to C|Net. This includes “adding friends, commenting, and sharing updates with text, photos, and video,” and will also feature the ability for multiple sites to federate.

    As B2B marketers continue to struggle figuring out social media, C-suites and boards of directors just begin paying attention to it as a high-level responsibility, and enterprises grapple with how employees use it, it seems counterintuitive to suggest we have already moved beyond social media.

    A point on a continuum

    Part of my perspective is based on the fact that I have been watching the way people engage with each other online since 1985 when I first logged on to a BBS. After that came Compuserve and AOL, and then the web. Some people argue that Compuserve forums (like the PR and Marketing Forum, which rocked) and usenet news groups all fit into the social media category. For me, though, social media is defined largely by the tools that made it possible for the average person to engage without gaining more technical prowess than they wanted to.

    There is ample data to make it clear that what others say about brands and products drives purchase decisions. In his book, “Absolute Value, Emanuel Rosen and co-author Itamar Simonson argue that getting third-party consumer reviews should be a marketer’s most important task. As one review of the book noted, “Consumers are acutely aware of both consumer and expert reviews. If a particular product does not meet the expectations of the consumer, loyalty will not hold consumers in a franchise.”

    As I noted in an earlier post, a Dutch study found that positive consumer reviews of your organization will lead the reviewer’s friends and followers to form equally favorable views, and that the more people use social media, the more likely they are to engage with your brand. The study pointed out that, because social media use is surging among all demographic groups, this represents a huge opportunity to boost your company’s reputation.

    And let’s not overlook the fact that brands, institutions and individuals continue to find innovative ways to apply social media to various opportunities and challenges.

    None of which sounds like a post social media era to me. The desire to connect and share online predates social media; it’s a continuum with no end in site. Social media in five years will most likely look completely different than it did five years ago. That’s what happens on continuums.

    The greatest risk with adopting a post social media mentality is that business leaders will have another excuse to dismiss it.

    That would be a fatal mistake.

    If there is one powerful outcome from the advancement of technology it would be marketing. Gone are the days of running an ad in the local paper and wondering if anyone saw it.

     

    If there is one powerful outcome from the advancement of technology it would be marketing. Gone are the days of running an ad in the local paper and wondering if anyone saw it. Asking people how they heard about your business seems so yesterday.

    Thinking back to 1998 when I was placing full page ads in the Winston Salem Journal for $18,000 a pop. Clueless to the effectiveness other than Saturday at the dealership being a busy day or not. Three years later the world changed and I have not looked back since.

    My marketing budget shifted from those expensive print ads to 100% digital. Instead of wondering how effective the ads where, I tracked every lead and response in our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. The sales staff received every inquiry in the CRM and we could report on the performance of our digital marketing channels. We tracked KPI’s like:

    • Number of leads by ad source
    • Number of appointments set by lead source
    • Number of cars sold by source
    • Gross profit and finance income per lead closed
    • Total lead conversion ratios
    • ROI on marketing dollars spent

    This technology was in place and working well in 2001. Fast forward to 2014 and you would be amazed at the possibilities available to large and small businesses today. Social media marketing, pay per click campaigns, organic website traffic, and content marketing technology lends no excuse for any business of any size to not maximize their advertising budgets.

    Digital marketing today has been advanced through technology in amazing ways. Two of the most obvious are social media and inbound content marketing. Think for a minute about how a business can target a marketing campaign:

    • Gender – Is your product’s primary audience men or women?
    • Age – Is there a target age group in your audience demographic?
    • Location – Local companies can specifically target an audience within a certain radius of their location.
    • Interest – Social media enables you to target your ads based on the likes and interest of potential customers.

    Taking that thought a step further, marketing automation software now enables you create marketing channels to provide relevant content based on the behavior of your prospects. For example, you have an email marketing list of people who opt in for product information. Today you can create automated email campaigns to send targeted content to a prospect based on their engagement with your company. What webpages they visit on your website, do they open the emails you send, how often do they visit your website, and are they engaging with product information as in downloading product brochures? All of these activity types can trigger a campaign for lead generation to prospects you know are showing ‘in-market’ activity.

    These examples only scratch the surface. Have you experienced viewing a product on eBay or Amazon and then have that same product appear in your social news feeds as promoted posts? Technology enables this experience and provides an enhanced user experience as they are presented with relevant content and also provides a business with a cost effect and targeted marketing opportunities.

    The post Digital Marketing Technology appeared first on Neil Tolbert.