• 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.
  • Great marketing can generate a steady stream of new customers in a growing market, but only positive customer experiences will result in high retention rates. Caveats aside, one thing is clear; rapid change is ahead in the marketing automation sector.

    One of the most important metrics in evaluating the ultimate value of any cloud software product is the customer retention rate, a number that encapsulates the value obtained versus client expectations. Retention rate takes into account usability, support, expectations set, and impact on marketing and/or revenue goals. Companies that receive value in excess of expectations generally renew; those that don’t opt out.

    Though a valuable indicator for customers considering an investment in marketing automation, don’t expect marketing automation vendors to divulge much about retention. They sometimes publish the number and growth rate of their customer base but not a single one lets on to retention rate, or its inverse—churn.

    Not to worry. Another class of marketing technology companies can shed light on the magic retention metric.

    Download my just revised Marketing Automation Industry Report Covering Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot Act-On, Infusionsoft, Salesfusion and many others, with with user adoption rates, features guide, and industry forecasts.

    Software tracking company Datanyze scans over 18 million of the world’s most-trafficked websites, hunting for JavaScript embeds and web tags that indicate the presence of hosted software—in this case a marketing automation platform. The chart below shows the total number of websites using selected marketing automation platforms as of 9/1/14.

    [[{"fid":"163196","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Top 32 Marketing Automation Platforms by Website Count","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"Top 32 Marketing Automation Platforms by Website Count"},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"Top 32 Marketing Automation Platforms by Website Count","title":"Top 32 Marketing Automation Platforms by Website Count","style":"width: 700px; height: 509px;","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

    Note that websites do not equate with customers as a single customer may use marketing automation software on dozens or even hundreds of websites. Nevertheless, website count is a good indicator of success.

    But not so fast...

    It’s not just absolute website count but rather the changes—the additions and loses over time—that are the strongest indication of platform success in the marketplace. I analyzed the top 20 firms for which we have data—and which fall roughly into the marketing automation space—and calculated the percent change in websites using their software since January 1, 2014.

    [[{"fid":"163201","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"20 Leading Marketing Automation Platforms","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"20 Leading Marketing Automation Platforms"},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"20 Leading Marketing Automation Platforms","title":"20 Leading Marketing Automation Platforms","style":"width: 700px; height: 508px;","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

    Change happens quickly in dynamic markets. Demand for marketing automation software is growing overall but aggregates mask marketplace turbulence. According to the data, only two of the 20 firms—Pardot and Act-On—have increased their website count by more than ten percent since the beginning of 2014. Seven of the 20 platforms have actually lost websites, a few by over 20 percent.

    The data also implies that churn is higher than many would believe. For the 20 marketing automation platforms, the aggregate ratio of websites adds to drops for the first eight months of 2014 was 1.08, meaning that for every 100 websites that added a marketing automation platform, 92 websites dropped one.

    Note that the Datanyze metrics are an indication only and are by no means a definitive measure of software presence. A few caveats of this data are in order and can be found here.

    Great marketing can generate a steady stream of new customers in a growing market, but only positive customer experiences will result in high retention rates. Caveats aside, one thing is clear; rapid change is ahead in the marketing automation sector.

    ****   ****   ****    ****

    Marketing Growth Strategies LLC has been engaged in research, analysis, lead generation, and client implementation in the Marketing Automation sector since 2009 and has recently revised its highly successful 2014 Marketing Automation eBook.

    Considering implementing marketing automation? Download the 2014 Marketing Automation eBook.

    Persistence plays an important part in successful marketing. Without it businesses may jump from one type of marketing strategy to another, trying build their business but not allowing sufficient time for their marketing initiatives to payoff.
    Persistence is needed whether the strategies we use to help build our business and brand name recognition include a website, permission based email marketing, social media, newspaper advertising, mobile ads, networking events or any other kind of marketing strategy.

    Time Is Needed To See Results

    Most, if not all, marketing initiatives require time to produce results. Rarely do any of these, or even a combination of these, provide magical overnight results.

    Without persistence we are likely to jump from one type of marketing strategy to another trying to build our business but never allowing sufficient time for any one strategy to produce results. It's kind of like planting seeds in a field and then digging the seeds up before they've had time to produce a crop. It's a huge waste of time and resources.

    Certainly some marketing strategies we may recognize early on, or even further down the road, as unproductive and needing to be halted. Possibly, an investment of time and money we shouldn't have made in the first place or one that has been impacted by changes in the marketplace and is outside of our control.

    Lack Of Success Often Tied to Unrealistic Expectations & Time Frame

    But often, a lack of success may be because our expectations and time frame are unrealistic and we haven't given the strategy the time or the attention needed to be successful.

    Putting an advertisement in one or two issues of a newspaper or on social media, and then 'pulling the plug' because 'we didn't see any results' is an example of this.

    Frequent Exposure Needed To Gain Awareness

    Frequent exposure is usually needed before potential customers even begin to notice an advertisement, let alone consider taking any kind of buying action. This tends to be true for both online and print advertising, unless you are already a highly successful and well known brand and/or you are offering a highly attractive sale or discount on your products or services.

    Of course, even a great sale or discount won't do much for you if the product or service you are selling is not one that people think they want or need, or if your reputation in the marketplace is lacking.

    This week we hosted another Social Media Today webinar as part of the Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of Advocate Marketing Decoded: 5 Proven Steps to Powering Advocates in Retail. This webinar was sponsored by SocialChorus.

    This week I moderated another Social Media Today webinar as part of their Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of Advocate Marketing Decoded: 5 Proven Steps to Powering Advocates in Retail. We assembled a panel to do a deep-dive on this topic, consisting of Greg Shove, the Founder and CEO of SocialChorus, and Carlos Gil, the Head of Digital and Social at Save-A-Lot. This webinar was sponsored by SocialChorus.

    Greg set the stage with a discussion of why advocates are more powerful than fans. He described the significant difference between random content in your news feed versus content from someone you trust in your news feed. It turns out that just 135 advocates can have the same reach as 1,000,000 fans on Facebook. This gets to the heart of what he calls “turning social media inside out” by harnessing the power of your advocates you can get them to create and engage with more authentic content across all your social channels.

    Carols took over after Greg and talked about the 5 proven steps to powering advocates in retail. Since this webcast was a deep dive on this topic we took questions on each of the steps along the way. Carlos really did a great job informing the audience of how he is able to harness the power of user generated content and how he likes to ensure every advocate post is followed up on in 15-20 min of the post (while the user might still be in store)!

    The 5 proven steps to powering advocates in retail are:

    1.     Identify goals & align to business objectives

    2.     Define success metrics

    3.     Activate brand advocates

    4.     Create a plan for long term engagement

    5.     Scale and grow program

    Now, if you have ever been on a Social Media Today webinar before, you know they are very “participant-driven” and we love to ask your questions of our panelists. Some of the questions we covered were: Do you use any incentives to get your advocates to join your program? How do you handle pictures taken in store – are there guidelines or rules that you follow? What type of business outcomes have you seen from advocates?

    If that piqued your interest, you will want to hear the replay of this webinar or review the slides from this webinar. Otherwise we hope you will join us on another Social Media Today webinar! The next webinar is on Marketing at the Speed of Life: Engaging Consumers When, Where, and How They Want, sign up for it or you can view the schedule of upcoming webinars here.

    "Dear Socially Stephanie: I work for an online car advertising company as the acting brand manager. I have a social media officer who reports to me. I was once told by the founder that we shouldn't do sales-related tweets on the company's Twitter page. What other content can you recommend we put there aside from traffic reports, funny car pictures and real-time celeb car stories?"

     

    Dear Socially Stephanie:

    I work for an online car advertising company as the acting brand manager. I have a social media officer who reports to me. I was once told by the founder that we shouldn't do sales-related tweets on the company's Twitter page. What other content can you recommend we put there aside from traffic reports, funny car pictures and real-time celeb car stories?

    Cruisin' in Kalamazoo


    Dear Cruisin',
    I feel your pain. While your founder is concerned about the brand image, and rightfully so, I think he may not be fully aware of the best practices for social media marketing. But fear not, once we're finished here, not only will you have a grasp of what's right and wrong for social media, you'll also be able to take some of the ideas and start your social engine. So, get your motor ready, because we're off to the races.

    The first thing you need to know is that while you don't want to overly promote yourself or constantly push out sales-related tweets, it's not forbidden. You have to look at Twitter as an extension of your marketing and advertising communications. Imagine what your sales would look like if you never told anyone that you are offering a special deal on your latest car. It wouldn't fly now, would it? In fact, you probably wouldn't get an influx of visitors to the dealership like you would with a strong advertising campaign. Well, the same goes for Twitter. Of course, the first thing you need to do is build relationships, but the next is to advertise and get your cars out there to the public to entice them to come check you out. A good rule of thumb is to stick to the 80/20 rule: 80% engagement, 20% promotions.

    If the engagement is going to pull your customers in, it needs to be strong. Car photos, memes, and celebrity shots will all work well. But you can actually go above and beyond and engage with your current customers and care enthusiasts. One company who totally rocks the car world is Jaguar. Take a look at their feed and you'll understand what I mean. They are constantly engaging with people who are avid Jaguar fans and drivers.  They reshare their photos and put their customers and prospective customers first. And let me tell you something, it works like a charm. I truly believe Jaguar is a leader in online marketing, and by studying them your company can learn from the best.

    Another thing Jaguar does extremely well is nurturing their ambassadors. Okay, I know from first hand experience. Last year I won a competition in which I was able to drive their new #FTYPE. It was an incredible experience in which Kelly Rowland and I took to the streets of Miami for an exclusive ride.

    This is an example of a brand going above and beyond to make sure their ambassadors are happy, engaged and forever in love with their brand. You can take the same idea and apply it to your most engaged fans. By offering exclusivity you can be sure that your fans are going to do their job in promoting you for you. It's a win!

    So now that you have your engagement strategy down, it's time to develop your online sales strategy. I recommend searching for people who are in the car market and engage with them directly. Yes, that means reaching out and talking to them on a one on one basis. While time-consuming, it is a surefire way to reach the people in the heart, which for a car buyer is extremely important.

    And don't forget to utilize your other channels as well. Instagram is highly visual and for a car buyer, visuals make the sale. Use the correct hashtags and search for those that your customers and potential buyers will use. Engagement is key!

    Well, there you have it. I'll see you at the finish line!

    Socially,
    Stephanie

    Do you have a question for Socially Stephanie?

    Please email SociallyStephanie@socialmediatoday.com and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)

    Illustration by Jesse Wells

    With more and more skilled labor striking out on their own as independent contractors and businesses de-centralizing and looking for talent in new ways, Apple underscores the importance of productivity by creating products that help make these individuals more productive at both home and work, with the promise of personal insight that makes managing work-life balance possible.

    This week's product announcement from Apple is notable, with the Cupertino, California-based company introducing three new products and a payment gateway that could rival PayPal. But perhaps most notable to the new entrepreneurs of Generation Flux is how personal this announcement was. The Flint Center venue, last used by Steve Jobs to launch the iMac SE and first used by Jobs 15 years introduce the world the first Mac, provided the perfect backdrop for Apple CEO Tim Cook to say:

    Apple Watch is the most personal device we’ve ever created.”

    From what we learned, it seems that the ‘comprehensive health and fitness device’ will provide more insight into our health and how we choose to spend our time than perhaps any device currently on the market. Work-life balance is the Holy Grail of what health and fitness devices offer, with the promise of leading a healthier life intimately tied to living a happier, more productive one.

    Apple sells more merchandise dollars per square foot than any other retailer, bar none. Their announcement will no doubt influence other retailers and help to shape the products introduced by them in the coming weeks, months, and even years. Who doesn’t want to live a healthier, better-balanced life and while achieving greater productivity?

    Productivity, it could be argued, is one of the reasons Apple has remained successful. For example the MacBook is the standout laptop of choice among graphic designers and animators, often freelancers. Trendy, yes, but the powerful productivity justifies the cost over less expensive rivals. Once hooked, the usability of the Mac operating system makes it difficult for users to return to Windows. Similarly, the pioneering iPad provided a productivity boost to free time time, which few saw coming. And the iPhone crossed the boundaries of free and work time more seamlessly than any device that had come before it. In fact, it spawned an entire ecosystem, much of which is dedicated to productivity that we now know as the App Store.

     

    Apple iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Plus

    Along with the Apple Watch, we see the introduction of two new iPhones, the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, which at first blush appear to provide one of the best enhancements of all: The most clear, readable screen on the market, in larger sizes than exist now. The fact that they are thinner, and presumably easier to carry, is icing on the cake, allowing users to do more on a device that follows them in their pocket –  or on their wrist – providing further liberation from the desktop.

    Productivity is core to the advancement of society. As the only non-inflationary driver of growth, productivity is a key pathway from poverty. However, national productivity is largely a function of productivity levels at large corporations and government, over which we have little or no control. What we can control is individual productivity, which is key to the success of sole proprietors and freelance contractors. That’s why Apple’s launch is so important for economic growth. With more and more skilled labor striking out on their own as independent contractors and businesses de-centralizing and looking for talent in new ways, Apple underscores the importance of productivity by creating products that help make these individuals more productive at both home and work, with the promise of personal insight that makes managing work-life balance possible.