• Duo Consulting
    Michael Silverman on October 15, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal Is the Best Social CMS

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • marin-software
    Brenda Ton on October 25, 2014

    Why Cross-Channel Retargeting Drives 200% More Clicks

    To help enterprise advertisers optimize their growing retargeting programs, Marin Software surveyed 233 digital marketers of leading brands and agencies to produce an 18 page report covering important trends, benchmarks, and best practices for cross-channel retargeting success.
  • The social media space understandably generates a lot of buzz. There are a lot of opinions about what it’s all about, and with that come many misconceptions. I would like to share some of those misconceptions with you here.

    The Social Media space understandably generates a lot of buzz. There are a lot of opinions about what it’s all about and with that come many misconceptions. I would like to share some of those misconceptions with you here.

    In keeping with the timing of Halloween, here is a few “trick or truths?” about the Social Media space.

    The Social Media space is all about popularity – TRICK

    Social Media isn’t a popularity contest – unless being popular is the objective or the definition of popularity is specified. There are many objectives that the Social Media space can assist with, one of which is counting the likes on a Facebook page. So defining your goals is crucial to evaluating the success of a Social Media campaign.

    The Social Media space takes commitment – TRUTH
    Social Media shouldn’t be another task on the brand manager’s desk. Social Media is comprised of many segments of a business: Communications, PR, customer service, marketing and sales. It takes a dedicated team that makes Social Media “their” priority – bringing other people into the mix to assist in growing the Social Media footprint. It also takes real-time management to measure the efforts and shift priorities if need be.

    The Social Media space is about taking risks – TRICK
    B
e risk informed, not risk adverse. Social Media is an emerging channel, so like it or not, there are a lot of unknowns – so there are going to be errors. Understanding the consumer’s journey and being present when the consumer needs information is key. But understanding the potential pitfalls of Social Media initiatives is equally as important. In addition to strategic planning and execution tactics, you need to be prepared. This allows for the development of contingency plans. Risk informed, in any business or industry, is expected – in Social Media, it’s the norm.

    The Social Media space is about adding value – TRUTH

    The Social Media space is the perfect forum to shift people's perception and to dialogue with consumers, today. Any business or brand needs to have a voice on Social Media. I view Social Media as a marketing media channel that can assist in achieving any number of objectives.

    In summary, the premise of Social Media is about adding value to people’s lives. This is achieved by providing information, advice or opinions without the expectation of anything in return. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an upside or ROI. Providing information, engaging with consumers and as a result, creating and facilitating relationships is something that can be achieved through the Social Media space – and that can be of extreme value to business.

    Marketing sideways doesn’t showcase features and benefits. It means giving something away of value that improves your business over time. And it works.

    Brands! Stop leading with your features and benefits. Ask yourself this instead: How can I help?

    Jay Baer challenged all the marketers and brand managers gathered for the digiSTORY 2014 conference to tell stories that matter. “Marketing sideways,” he called it: “Making the story bigger.” Callahan Creek proudly sponsored the conference, and we were excited to hear that Jay’s talk dovetailed nicely with some of our own strategies.

    Here are three challenges that marketers today face when it comes to getting their message heard:

    1. Audience disaggregation - Audiences don’t clump the way they used to. There’s no “Happy Days,” “Cosby Show,” or “Seinfeld” reaching a mass audience like they used to.
    2. Customers are storytellers too – They have instant access to tell social and web platforms and can tell horror stories about your brand. As Jay put it, “Customer service is a spectator sport.” Everyone can see these negative experiences.
    3. Competition for attention – There is noise everywhere. Additionally, brands are fighting to cut through content that customers have carefully curated themselves with their own preferences. In your Facebook News Feed, for example, you’ll see posts from friends and family that you interact with often. His biggest question, when it comes to relevancy: “Are you more interesting to me than my own wife?”

    What brands tend to do is fall into a dangerous trap, falling back on hype. Telling stories louder. Literally, sometimes. Like this guy:


    (Ironically, this kind of ridiculousness can be its own novelty. The video went viral, was featured on Tosh.0, and owner Mike Mixson is obviously listening on social media, because he responded to us on Twitter. And now we know who to go to when we’re selling golf clubs.)

    Instead of hyping your brand, what if you created stories that help? After all, as Jay said, “there’s only two letters’ difference between “hype” and “help.” Catchy, eh? Yeah, he’s good at that. But he’s also good at making an idea come alive in simple terms that relate to companies’ needs.

    Baer’s challenge to marketers is essentially to create a “story so useful that people will pay for it.” (Earlier in the day, we heard from Brian Storm, who has created a viable business model with MediaStorm by telling engaging and important stories that people are willing to pay for. Most of these stories are meant as a call to action for social injustice or other cause-related things.) 

    Marketing sideways doesn’t showcase features and benefits. It means giving something away of value that improves your business over time. And it works. It’s something we are using right now for several of our clients. 

    One statistic Baer quoted (I don’t remember the source unfortunately) was that useful articles are forwarded 30% more than average. That’s kind of a no-brainer, but now consider this: The only thing that really matters is content, not the quality of the video. Take this video, for instance, with almost 150,000 views:


    Amazing, right? I am totally doing that the next time I prepare corn on the cob.

    Here’s something else to consider: People are doing tons of online research before they purchase. In 2011, 10.4 sources of info were needed before purchase, which is twice as much as 2010. Mobile data usage doubled in 2013. Consumers are looking things up on their phones, even while they are in brick-and-mortar stores. Why not make sure that you own the conversation with helpful content on the very subject that consumers are searching for?

    This summer, I needed some help with the filter on my backyard pool. I immediately went to YouTube and saw a series of How-To videos that covered every possible problem I might have and how to fix it. They were all from one guy at this company in Virginia. It was pretty funny when Jay mentioned him in his presentation, and not at all surprising to find out that these videos had affected his bottom line positively. Marcus Sheridan is the co-owner of River Pools & Spas, and in addition to the video(s), the company has an enormous amount of helpful content on the company blog.

    So what types of stories can brands tell?

    1. Stories that inform. Stories that build knowledge on a relevant subject.
    2. Stories that build trust. Trust is the filter through which all business success must pass. One good way to do this is to be transparent, because the truth always comes out. Why not lead with it?
    3. Stories that build kinship. Giving your brand humanity gives your story a hero. Remember, friends and family are trusted 92% of the time. (Again, I don’t remember the source of this stat – sorry.)

    One secret to marketing sideways is that you have to give yourself permission to make the story bigger. Chompie’s Deli has been around since 1979 when founders Lou and Lovey Borenstein moved from New York to Arizona. The videos on their YouTube channelaren’t about their sandwiches – they’re about them. And sometimes it seems like you’re watching clips from a Christopher Guest movie! Check this out:


    Another secret to telling good stories is to make the story smaller. Take those big stories and atomize them, like the #LowesFixinSix Vine videos, which show helpful hints for common problems around the house and clever shortcuts with a fun amount of novelty.

    Lastly, empowering your fans to tell stories is always a great idea. It’s also authentic and affordable. Jay mentioned a river rafting company that encourages their customers to tell stories of their trips with photos and stories on the company blog. Letting your customers tell everybody what a great time they had on one of your trips sounds like a pretty good way to drum up new business. And because its self-produced, the genuine quality of it makes it easier to trust.

    “Youtility,” as Jay calls it (also coincidentally the name of his book) is a process, not a project. Inspiration doesn’t respond to meeting requests, so you have to look for examples in your life every day. It’s an adjustment. You can be a utility. Your brand can be a utility -- a trusted source. His last challenge was simple: When you wake up every morning, ask yourself: “How can I help you?”

     

    As is true of so many things in life, the big boys have it a whole lot easier than the rest of us. Fishing for backlinks in exchange for money can be risky (not to mention deeply unethical), but that didn’t stop Hotels.com, an Expedia property, from sending out spammy emails asking travel bloggers for precisely that.

    As is true of so many things in life, the big boys have it a whole lot easier than the rest of us. Fishing for backlinks in exchange for money can be risky (not to mention deeply unethical), but that didn’t stop Hotels.com, an Expedia property, from sending out spammy emails asking travel bloggers for precisely that.

    What Happened?

    Earlier this month, a number of influential travel bloggers received an email from an as-yet unnamed “SEO Manager” for Hotels.com’s Americas division. The poorly-written email was sent from a Hotels.com email address, and claimed that the SEO Manager had been reading the bloggers’ posts. The sender went on to ask if the recipients would be interested in some “brand promotion for our hotels.”

    So far, so good, right? Unfortunately (for Hotels.com), the phrasing of the email soon to a detour into black-hat territory. The sender, who until the end of the email had been asking for hotel reviews or “more neutral content, such as ‘Brought to you by Hotels.com,’” then gave the game away by explicitly asking how much the bloggers wanted to be paid for helping Hotels.com acquire backlinks:

    “If you agree with partnering with us on helping us acquire backlinks, I would like to discuss a package or how you wanted to compensated to perform this assignment.”

    Oh dear.

    What Was Hotels.com’s Response?

    Predictably, Hotels.com was quick to distance itself from the shady machinations of the SEO Manager.

    In a canned response shortly after the incident came to light, Hotels.com issued the following statement:

    “We work hard to adhere to the guidelines which search engines have put in place. The email is not aligned with our program and was the result of an internal misunderstanding that has been quickly identified and resolved.”

    Presumably, the “internal misunderstanding” was that this type of back-alley shenanigans should never have been made public, and that the SEO Manager responsible has been fired.

    So What’s the Big Deal?

    Aside from being risky business, Hotels.com’s attempts to buy backlinks from bloggers highlights just how often large, well-known sites get away with underhanded tactics that would otherwise ruin small businesses trying to do the same thing. Not convinced? Let’s take a look at other questionable tactics being employed by Hotels.com.

    Thin Content and Link Farms

    Do a Google search for “Hotels.com” and you’ll see firsthand how the site leverages its size and power to game the system:

    Hotels.com SERP

    Apparently, the Hotels.com domain has almost 36 million pages indexed in Google. Even an SEO novice could see that something’s up. There’s no possible way that Hotels.com could have that many legitimate pages on its site. Our site is quite large and we only have 14,000 indexed results.

    So what’s the deal with all those pages? Well, Hotels.com is using computer-generated pages featuring thin content and link farms to game the Google algorithm. The site has a page for virtually every city/state/region/hotel name in the world:

    Hotels.com thin content

    This massive content farm is supported by agressive, automated internal linking to further boost rankings:

    Hotels.com internal linking

    Ads are injected to bulk up all this thin content and further monitize pageviews:

    Hotels.com ads

    What Does This Mean?

    A few final thoughts here:

    • Hotels.com is a paid-link supported content farm that just so happens to offer hotel bookings. The site is using virtually every trick in the book to boost its rankings. When it comes to dodgy SEO tactics, brands get away with murder.
    • Major brands still purchase backlinks to game their search rankings, despite the risks.The practice is common knowledge among those in the know. And SEO is too important to sites like this for management to not know of these kinds of tactics.
    • Google spam algorithms have a long way to go still towards cleaning up the SERPS!

    Social media sharing is a way through which you can share images, videos, and data’s with in few fractions of seconds. The amount of traffic that one can get through this type of sharing in social networks cannot be earned in anyothers. Incredible features and benefits are the two main reasons behind its success rate

    A competitive edge is always a necessity to stay ahead of your competitors and also to expand your markets by increasing the number of potential buyers and converting them into leads. Internet has indeed expanded the scope of marketing your company, services and products and has taken marketing and advertising to a totally new level targeting global audience and customers.

    Content marketing and your company

    Content marketing is gaining rapid significance thanks to the dependence of almost everybody on the internet for the most basic to the complex requirement. Internet has answers and solutions for everything that you want to seek. Search engines play a vital role in content marketing, where the popularity of your site or the number of visitors to your site and the number of back links of high quality get linked to your site; eventually improving the site’s search engine ranking. Content marketing in fact targets this importance your website receives. By having your company’s ads posted on blogs and websites having relative content will surely grab one or the other visitor’s attention converting the visitor into a customer. Quality content is known to attract target and thus potential consumers.

    Articles, blogs, videos, etc are the novel means of marketing your products and services. For instance YouTube is a very popular video sharing site where millions watch videos they want to and right before the video starts many company’s advertise their products and services. Thus it gives the company to reach out at individual level providing the opportunity for the company to show its products, services, etc.

    Sharing of your content on social media

    sharing Your content on social media is a very effective means of marketing to attract target audience and customers. Internet has again taken this very content marketing to yet another level where people share your content and website among themselves for free. This provides scope for increasing the traffic. All this is made possible thanks to the advent of many of the social networking sites like Face Book, twitter, Pinterest, etc. These social media sites have made content marketing quite easy where a wider number of audience are reached. The readers and visitors liking your content on such medium will share it further and a chain reaction follows with increase in traffic through sharing of your content. And all this marketing of your content for free.

    Content marketing however has its loopholes. A content marketing strategy becomes successful only if the published content is found to be relevant by the audience. Your content can reach many audiences if your website has a good rank on the search engine which calls in for SEO of your website. Such hindrances are often faced wile indirectly marketing your content on the social media sites as well. For the content to be shared and liked the quality and the information provided in the content have to be enticing. Only then will it be shared to reach many audiences and potential leads. Articles, blogs, videos, etc can be shared but the quality of these really matters that makes the content provided I them sharable.

    How to make the content more social media friendly for maximum likes and shares

    The content posted must be easy to share and the social sharing buttons must be present or made available at the right spot. The top left side of the page is quite ideal as it is easily noticeable for sharing. The other important pointers to make your content social network friendly include; the type of content you wish to share. The content has to be fresh and likable as it will make many visitors to take time and read your content which if they like would be shared. To grab a reader the title of the content has to be catchy and particularly on social networks an emotional title does the trick.

    Providing attractive or relevant images along with the content is the basic means of attracting a reader and be careful with choosing of this image as the fate of your content relies on it. Posting the content at the right time is again important. General rule which is tried and tested is that most of the content is read in the mornings. In fat early morning visitors and Saturday visitors tend to leave more comments and tend to share a lot. 

    In content marketing, we spend a lot of time talking about brand marketing efforts, feeding funnels, targeted outreach, increased traffic, storytelling, authenticity, engagement, blogs and videos and how all of these things serve our prospective and current customers. This is really fun stuff, so it makes sense that we tend to go on, and on, and on about it.

    In content marketing, we spend a lot of time talking about brand marketing efforts, feeding funnels, targeted outreach, increased traffic, storytelling, authenticity, engagement, blogs and videos and how all of these things serve our prospective and current customers. This is really fun stuff, so it makes sense that we tend to go on, and on, and on about it. However, we rarely talk about how we can serve our internal customers with content. For instance, when was the last time you heard a content marketer utter the words “we need to think more about sales enablement content?”

    It’s likely been a while, or never…

    Why is that? Shouldn’t content marketing be about putting the right content into the right hands? What if the best audience for getting your message heard is your own sales force? Your customer service representatives? Your in-store employees?

    Does the definition of content marketing automatically exclude sales enablement?

    No, not at all. In the recently released 2015 B2B Content Marketing trends report by MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, we saw a shift in the definition of content marketing.

    • 2014 definition: “creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple media formats to attract and/or retain customers”
    • 2015 definition: “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”

    As the report points out, the difference is that what was once described as a discipline of “creating and distributing” content has evolved into a formal, measurable and goal-oriented discipline.

    Content marketing is about getting the right content to the right customers, at the right time, on the right device, and evoking an action. That action can vary from downloading an ebook to signing up for a demo to calling a sales rep. Nowhere in the definition does it specify a specific audience; it merely points to reaching a “clearly defined audience.” The specifics are up to you.

    What’s the right audience for your content?

    If you’re like most content marketers, you have a diverse audience and you use varied means to reach them, mostly online, likely including a blog and social media. But here’s the big question: How much of your efforts are focused on providing content to internal audiences like sales?

    Sales loves great content for use in their daily jobs, but they also report that 18% of their time is spent searching for or recreating content provided by marketing teams.*  Why is that?

    Because sales teams need smarter content!

    Perhaps the best questions to ask are:

    • Why SHOULDN’T marketing focus on sales enablement content?
    • Can we serve up unique and real- time content that will actually be used by sales?
    • Can we serve up compelling content that will shorten the sales cycle?

    Content that enables a sales team has just as much potential to reach a massive audience as content created for traditional content marketing channels. If a sales organization is properly sharing engaging content with their prospective clients, at every stage of the funnel, they have the ability to reach audiences significantly larger than the average blog or corporate social media page. For example:

    sales enablement, content marketing

     

    By enabling your sales reps with content you could literally serve millions of impressions every week.

    Okay. It has reach potential, but can it help close sales?

    Yes; just like content works for consumers online, it also helps to educate when distributed through sales. We know that when buyers encounter relevant content on the Internet, they progress 57% of the way through their purchase decision before they even contact a sales rep. This statistic tells us two important things about buyers:

    • When they are presented with relevant content, it helps them to move further into the sales funnel.
    • When sales reps have easier access to content, they’re better able to engage their buyers early in the sales cycle.

    Imagine how marketing can impact that process by simply thinking strategically about the content they deliver. If marketers can find a way to deliver better, smarter content to their sales teams, they have the potential to change the sales and marketing paradigm.

    We know content marketing works for brand and digital marketing, and now we know it should not be ignored across the organization. Customers are demanding content and we have started getting really good at delivering it through known channels, but we need to expand the scope and think about how it can impact other departments, most importantly sales.

    For more on this subject, and a few tips to creating successful sales enablement content, download our most recent e-book, Beyond the Powerpoint Deck – Four tips to empower your sales reps with better, smarter content.

    *IDC, 2012: Sales Enablement Strategy: Content is King So Why Does Sales Feel Like a Jester?