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Why Every Manager Needs to Understand Marketing Data

December 9, 2016
Why Every Manager Needs to Understand Marketing Data

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about interpreting blog traffic like a boss to set clear and attainable goals. Since then Ive had some responses criticizing why someone whos an account manager, business strategist, or client services director would need to understand that level of marketing data.

Truth is, that post was actually written with my marketing director/marketing strategist persona in mind! I can understand having a specialist pull these measurements and create visualizations with Excel or some other tool. However, when it comes to synthesizing this data and communicating the implications of it with a client, Im talking to the manager or strategist on the account.

Gathering the data outlined is a pretty mechanical process and, while it requires a strong eye for detail, it doesnt require substantial skills beyond that.

This is where client facing skills and data interpretation intersect. Being able to understand data will help throughout the phases of a client relationship. Lets go through a few ways understanding data can seriously help managers and strategists.

Using Data to Build Retainers

When scoping a project, its common to ask a prospect what they need help with. We might ask them for specific goals, or what kind of work they are straight up neglecting. At this point, we need a current state of the union to determine whats being done, whats working, whats not and whats being left behind.

Based on trends of efforts that are working or not we can see give educated guesses as to how our efforts can augment their current strategies. The more we understand how to pick apart trends the more accurately we can communicate how much our efforts will help.

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Keeping conversations centered around data will show good clients that we arent going to make empty promises. However, if a client keeps pushing back on how data isnt that important Id be nervous about continuing to work with them. If they know more about trends than hard numbers, they might be too much of an expert for their own good.

Basing a Retainer Off Data Will Help Maintain Client Relationships

Okay, we didnt make any blind agreements or get pushed into promising 10,000 new visitors per month (or some other arbitrary number). Were basing our goals off their current strategy and the return on it.

We also factored in some current events into their trending metrics, like:

Big name Twitter profiles sharing a piece of their contentSyndication starting on a major industry outletExposure from news and local journals from an award the client won recently

Now we have a clear idea of how much effort is generating which results. Even better, were able to quantify it on an annotated chart showing trends over time with a few different trend lines. Now were enabled to confidently say Based on your current efforts and return, we think our efforts will put your projected growth somewhere in this region. All while pointing to a specific and measurable part of a timeline.

Keeping everyone on the same page is achievable when trends are clearly identified and our contribution to them is accurately anticipated. This positions us to gives to supply metrics were very confident we can achieve and stretch goals that are possible. Read: stretch goals should be challenging, not unattainable.

Now when it comes time to discuss next years retainer weve put ourselves in a good spot to get that contract signed!

Marketing Teams Will Experience Less Burnout

From the very beginning, weve gone out of our way to identify what efforts are contributing to what results. This helps us tremendously in focusing our efforts on strategies that will pay off. Note: keeping goals in mind wont completely solve burnout issues, but its a good start and can help in clearly identifying roles and making sure the right person is doing the right work.

This will allow teams to see how their contribution is impacting a clients marketing. The payoff of seeing efforts assist in some way is pretty substantial. Likewise, the opposite is true. Working hard on marketing efforts that arent going anywhere is discouraging.

Luckily for us, basing our strategies on data will allow us to avoid this kind of pitfall.

I feel like this article may have been a little eat your vegetables-ish, and I get that it can be hard to slow conversations down and keep initiatives based on numbers. Keeping data in mind from the very beginning takes preparation and its something Im always working on improving in my own meetings. Sometimes you need to say I dont know when asked a question that requires some serious trending research. The idea here is to not get backed into a corner, and the thing is, clients dont

The idea here is to not get backed into a corner, and the thing is, clients dont want to back you into a corner. They just want real answers and real results. Taking a step back and doing some research before rushing to answer their pain points will be a tremendous help down the line.

Author: John Hodge

John is a digital professional. He lives in the cloud, embraces the nuances of technology, improves businesses remotely while contributing to local brick and mortar efforts. He's a Senior Account Manager by day in the New York Digital Agency worldand a prevalent free agent of Southeast Michiganby night.

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Avoid these Facebook marketing mistakes - Automotive News (subscription) (blog)

September 20, 2016
For the auto industry, Facebook marketing is no longer the novelty it was when Ford used the network to catapult a youthful Fiesta campaign in 2009.

Automakers have gotten more creative with their social outreach in the years since then as Facebook expands the marketing tools it makes available to advertisers. But it's dealerships, which are on the front lines of the daily sales grind, that are the target for many of the new tools designed to help move consumers down the purchase funnel.

While a growing number of stores have been able to attribute sales directly to Facebook promotions, others still believe that Facebook ads can't move cars. And some that are willing to give Facebook a shot never get off the ground because they lack cohesive strategies.

That's frustrating for marketing consultant Kathi Kruse, who calls Facebook "a fabric of our lives."

With Facebook ads, "the opportunities there are so huge if you know what you're doing," says Kruse, founder of auto retail consultancy Kruse Control Inc. "It's really frustrating to see people not adopting the idea of it at all. When I speak [to dealers], I see a lot of blank faces."

Kruse said some dealers are held back by fear of failure or not knowing what to post. Others may think they don't have enough time to devote to Facebook outreach.

Kruse, whose grandfather was a car dealer in Los Angeles, warns dealers to avoid these common mistakes of Facebook marketing:

You try to take off without a runway. Launching a Facebook presence without a plan won't get stores anywhere. Kruse said stores need to have strategies around content, promotion and conversion in the beginning. "A lot of people don't have a plan. They think they shouldn't put money towards Facebook or social because they can't quantify why," Kruse explained. Dealers will say, ""Oh, it doesn't sell cars.' Well, it does if you know what you're doing and you do it right. If you have a plan, then you can set your goals and you can work back into those goals with strategy."

You make it all about you. Kruse said a consumer will look at a dealership's Facebook post wondering: What's in it for me? She said dealers should apply that thought process to their strategies by asking themselves before posting, "What attracts your audience to you?" and "What can you do to attract them to your brand?"

You have no content strategy. To generate leads, Kruse said stores need to know who their customers are and what's relevant to them. "Content could mean you want to create more engagement with your brand or more interest with your brands," she said. "Or it could mean more advertising content."

You make no meaningful investment. Facebook isn't a free ride. If a dealership is posting content without boosting it, then it's likely no one is seeing it. "You have to have a budget for content creation and you need a budget for Facebook ads -- and someone to manage those ads."

You don't regularly conduct a social-media audit. Some stores can't figure out why their strategies aren't converting consumers. That might be in part because they don't take an occasional deep dive into what's effective and what isn't. "They don't look at how they stack up against the competitor," Kruse said. "An audit will give you what best practices are. It will give you some guidance on if you're going to hire somebody to do social."

You have no conversion strategy. A dealership could be posting content on Facebook and even promoting it with basic ads on the platform, but Kruse said some stores don't realize they can take their Facebook outreach to the next level. Dealerships can do that by crafting special landing pages on their sites to which they can draw specific consumer groups from Facebook through newsfeed ads. "The goal of a landing page is to take them from where they are, click on a link, go to your website and further down the sales funnel," she said. "It guides them along to do the things you want them to do."

You fail to identify and achieve return on investment. Some of the metrics stores can observe to gauge effectiveness include content reach, audience growth and engagement. Another key performance indicator deals with whether organic leads are being converted. An organic lead, Kruse said, may come to a dealership's Facebook page asking whether the consumer can make an appointment for an oil change. The person monitoring the page should know how to convert organic consumers without the dealer spending a dime.

Kruse said stores should learn how to close the loop between their offline and online sales activities. One of Kruse's dealer clients ran a recent Facebook ad campaign around an anniversary special, and a marketing staffer was able to follow who bought vehicles after being exposed to the campaign.

"She actually did it by hand just to prove to the boss that Facebook ads work," Kruse said. "When you're in marketing, you don't always see the results of your efforts."

5 Content Marketing Tactics You're Still Getting Wrong - SocialTimes

June 24, 2016

Brands and businesses are aware of the importance of content marketing, but many are still not seeing the return theyd like. Here are five common mistakes youre still making and how to fix them.

Thinking content marketing doesnt apply to your business

Just because you arent a major national or international brand doesnt mean you cant benefit from content marketing. Its also not just for retailers and entertainment brands. Any type and any size business should embrace this modern tactic, especially when marketing on social media.

As John Rampton shares in the An Introduction to Content Marketing, Technologies like social media create a better opportunity to connect with an interested audience. This gives marketers the ability to share more about their product or service and really tell their story. And its all about the story. Thats the first step in connecting and building relationships with consumers.

When businesses do this, they open the door to communicate with an offer to purchase exactly when [consumers] are in buy now mode. Or return to your site when they are. But, if you havent established a relationship, theyll likely be elsewhere or wont think of you when that moment strikes.

Making assumptions about your audience

If youre sharing a ton of content but not seeing an uptick in engagement or sales, youre missing your mark. Its crucial not to go with your gut when it comes to content marketing, especially on social media. Modern consumers arent swayed by sales pitches, or anything generic. They want to be treated like individuals.

Getting to know them at this level requires social listening software to divide your audience into micro-segments based on common interests. And its also important to dissect the depth of consumer emotions, because when you know what each audience segment is most passionate about, you can craft messaging targeted directly at those specific feelings. The more personally, passionately targeted your content, the better the results. Make it matter, or dont waste your time.

Forgetting about SEO

Google assigns value to websites based on their ability to meet the demands of search queries. So content must be intentional and organized by theme, topic or keywords to make it easy for search engines to recognize where youre going, or it wont be returning your jumbled mishmash in search.

Rampton advises, If you know that a certain keyword draws a lot of traffic to your site, then you should focus your efforts on creating more content around that term. This will help you reinforce your relevance and boost your search ranking for that particular term. This should hopefully lead to more traffic and monetization opportunities for your efforts.

If you dont understand search engine optimization, its time to read up.

Thinking you have to do it alone

Keeping fresh content coming is challenging and time-consuming under the best of circumstances. Smaller businesses and solopreneurs might find it difficult to maintain a consistent presencebut you dont have to be the only contributor.

There are countless guest bloggers looking for opportunities to expand their online presence by contributing to your blog. Post guest contributor guidelines on your website, and actively promote any writers who do provide content, and youll have writers clamoring to be featured.

And dont forget about user-generated content. According to Hubspot, Consumers are more interested in hearing the views of their peers than reading cleverly written sales messages. So getting them involved saves you some time while also increasing content efficacy.

Not counting video as content

Its not just text-based content that matters. Video is exploding online, so businesses and brands should take advantage of it. Marketing Insider Group reports, Last year, online video accounted for64 percent of all consumer internet traffic,and this number is expected to rise to 69 percent by 2017 and 79 percent by 2018.

Video content also tends to resonate more with social consumers. As Rampton points out, It involves more work and experience, and as a result, theres noticeably less competition than in the blogosphere. Thus, creating your own visual content is a great way to separate yourself from your competitors.

And the additional work is manageableespecially as social platforms continue to make video content easy to include. Smart marketers are also making good use of live streaming, which is taking video to yet another levelone where being a little less polished is okay.

Although its still important to follow best practices with regard to adequate lighting, background noise, appearance and scripting, less producedi.e., more humanvideos are cropping up all the time, and racking up views and shares. Add some video to your content strategy and watch engagement soar.

Embrace content and thrive: Theres a lot to keep in mind when it comes to content marketing, but none of it is overly technical or challenging, no matter how big or small your business is. Avoiding these common mistakes will make a difference, as will consulting resources that offer up everything you could ever need to know. Theres no reason not to embrace this key strategy and apply it well. Your bottom line will thank youand so will consumers.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Google May Have Found a Way to Make the Real-World Web Work - WIRED

April 15, 2016
Remember beacons? Honestly, theres not much reason you would. Hailed for years by Apple, Google, and beyond as one of the next big things in techfor marketers, at leastthe glorious beacon future has yet to arrivein the present. They may get a little closer, however, now that Google has solved one of their major issues.

Heres your one-sentence refresher: Beacons, a bedrock of the physical web, are small transmitters that broadcast information about a location to nearby mobile devices. For the most part, theyve been pitched as a way to makethe experience of shopping at brick-and-mortar stores more like shopping online.Instead of clipping coupons for stuff you might buy, the items on the shelf will ping you themselves.

There are benefits and drawbacks to this for both companies and consumers, but one glaring disadvantage for everyone involved is that theyre not very secure. Googles going to fix that. Or at least, its going to make a start.

Bringing Home the Beacon

You may not use beacons yourselfor realize that you havebut theyve made sizable inroads since Apple first launched its iBeacon standard back in 2013. They lean on Bluetooth low energy (BLE) to transmit a unique identifier and connect to nearby devices, like your smartphone. From there, they can track customers through as store, or send them location-based messages. Macys, for instance, uses them to ping customers with deals and discounts as they walk through distinct departments.

'People dont have a really good feel for the digital exhaust that they leave.'

The benefits for retailers and marketers are pretty obvious; you can serve up relevant offers to customers based on their physical location. Sounds nice! For consumers, though, its a tougher sell. Just because youre inside a Starbucks doesnt mean you want Starbucks inside your phone, and even if you did, there are layers upon layers of permissions to wade through before you can actually take advantage. Besides which, most businesses still arent using them effectively yet.

For the most part, retailers have missed the mark when it comes to leveraging beacons, says Adam Silverman, an analyst with Forrester Research. Their approach has been to be very overt with the messaging, such as using beacons to greet you personally when you enter the store. Silverman thinks a better implementation is to drive service; the Golden State Warriors, for instance, use beacons to make nose-bleed ticket holders aware of seat upgrade offers during the game.

Still, its early days. In fact, Google didnt make its first beacon play until a year ago with Eddystone, an open source beacon specification. The technology has proliferated, though, and will continue to as the hardware becomes more accessible and the applications more obvious.

Part of the success of beacons is their simplicity, says Google VP of Engineering Yossi Matias. Were seeing this mushroom of all these devices. In a way it reminds me of the very early days of the web, when all of a sudden it was very simple to set up a web page. People are starting to come up with all these ideas of how to do that.

Digital Exhaust

But as beacons grow in popularity, their security holes become more of a liability. More specifically, their reliance on BLE makes them susceptible to long-term tracking, as a recent study from Open Effect found. In that report, reseachers found that seven out of eight BLE fitness trackers emitted unique identifiers that let the devices be tracked even when not paired with a mobile device. Think of bad actors who tap into not just your online activity, but your actual, real-world movements and routines.

People dont have a really good feel for the digital exhaust that they leave as they go around the web, says Joseph Hall, policy technologist at CDT. Its way worse when it comes to operating in physical reality.

And to the extent that people do appreciate how the real-world web works, theyre already suspicious. Privacy is the top consumer barrier to wide adoption of beacons, says Silverman. Customers are weary of sharing their location data with a retailer or venue.

Compounding the issue is that todays beacons are designed to be discoverable by any nearby device, making private communicationsand whole new categories of use caseseither risky, or downright impossible.

Thats where Google comes in.

Feeling Ephemeral

What Googles announcing today is an Ephemeral ID, which lets developers control who can access a beacon signal and, just as importantly, who cant. Its open source, and available on GitHub today.

How Eddystone-EID works gets technical, so it might be useful to start with the real-world actions it will enable. Today, Googles announcing partnerships with a variety of vendors. The K11 museum in Hong Kong, for instance, will use Eddystone-EID to enable personalized visitor tours; walk up to a specific exhibit, and a beacon will transmit information about it to your mobile device. Samsonite, meanwhile, will later this year release a suitcase with an Eddystone-EID beacon built right in, to help keep track of your luggage.

Samsonite is a particularly helpful example, since its hard to imagine it being possible without a secure connection between your suitcase and phone.

As we started this project, my favorite use case was the suitcase, since I travel so much, says Matias. You can think about many benefits; my favorite one was getting a notification once its near the carousel, so I dont need to waste time watching other bags. But the question is, how can I do that knowing that Im the only one that can recognize my suitcase, and that its not recognized by anyone elses mobile device?

Googles answer? Create an encrypted, moving target. Beacons are registered to an EID platform, which enables them to send encrypted, rotating IDs synchronously with that platform. In turn, that means that only users with access to a service that knows the current ID can access its data. It creates an exclusive club, with a secret, constantly changing password that only select people know. Its also protected by AES encryption, meaning that to anyone who doesnt have the shared key, the EID representation looks like gobbledygook. It cant be tracked or spoofed.

The threats that Googles trying to protect against here is some sort of persistent correlation between your identity, or some location, or the fact that youre communicating with this thing quite often, says CDTs Hall.

Importantly, the EID solution also doesnt create any more work for the consumer, because again, theyre being asked to do too much already.

The main challenge of having done this right is that we keep the utility, and make the platform safer across the board, says product manager Nirdhar Khazanie. In fact, EID can also be implemented in existing beacon hardware, as long as theres a willingness on the part of the vendor and the ability to accept firmware updates.

Were still likely a long way from beacons becoming an everyday part of our lives. And theres nothing forcing the deployers of beacons to make EID part of their experience, or even to use Eddystone at all. There are a number of competing standards still out there, after all, and no easy indicator for users as to which one youre in contact with.

At least now, though, its possible to have a modicum of privacy without making beacons even more of a headache.

Its very easy to provide security layers which compromise the user experience, says Matias. These are very easy to deploy from a technology point of view, and are very bad experiences. The real challenge from a technology perspective is how to keep things simple, but also add a security layer on top of everything.

The next challenge after that? Making sure that layer actually finds its way into the beacons that need them most.

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Suggestions For A Dynamic Search Engine Optimization Strategy

November 28, 2015
dallas seo expert

Optimizing your web site for the major search engines is more vital than ever with the steadily increasing competition for visitors on the internet. Make sure that you know how to do this by using the techniques in this article. If you do, you will soon see your website traffic to increase.

For search engine optimization, avoid heavy use of flash, or avoid it altogether if possible. The same goes for frames and the use of things like AJAX. Rather than having differentiated links, this is because different pages or elements in flash or similar set-ups will all share the same link. This makes it harder for search engines to find.

Although you may outsource some of the work, SEO is still your primary job as a site owner. This means you will have to oversee the process, as tedious as it may seem at times. You cannot let the little details slip by you. One wrong keyword or a broken link today could lead to a poorly ranked site tomorrow. So be sure to stay on top of micromanage and things your site.

Take care when using your social media presence to boost your main site's PageRank. The data you provide on your social media pages (e.g. Twitter and Facebook bios) should dovetail with the main keywords of your website. This establishes a relationship between the two that can help improve the positioning of both your social media presence and your main site.

Provide links to other blogs and websites to increase your views. You will improve your search results within the major search engines if you have an active linking located here system. Find articles that you like that relate to your content and add links to them. Be sure however to keep your page from becoming just a page of links or you'll lose your viewers.

Your meta description should make an demand and impact a call for action from the searcher. Use words and phrases that get people to respond in a motivated way. Before they even click through, Incorporate phone numbers or specific sales dialogue that create a buying atmosphere. Keep it short and to the point at 155 characters.

While purchasing a domain name may seem like the right way to go, many search engines do not recommend it. Some search engines have a long delay for adding new sites to their existing lists, and the last thing you want is to delay getting new visitors. Using your existing website is more feasible, since the wait time for some engines is up to a full year.

Be very cautious when you link to content on other websites. While a direct link to popular or relevant contents can help your search engine optimization efforts, the owners of the site you link to may not appreciate it. The owners of content-rich sites (like those in news media) do not like visitors to access their content without seeing their homepage.

Test your third party resources before you use them, and ask others who have, how they performed. You do not want to find yourself relying on a search optimizing http://searchengineoptimization.org/ tool that is completely inaccurate or faulty. Ask around, try them out, and make the best choice for what you need.

You should make use of the keyword tool from Google Adwords' to optimize the search engine. The keyword tool will find the most popular keywords that are related to your website. The Adwords tool will show you the number of searches for a word or phrase that you enter. Use this tool to find the best overall words or phrases to use for your site.

Give your customers points toward free products. Be generous with the points, so it is easy for them to visualize cashing them in after a few orders. The points could be toward products or information, available only to those redeeming points, so customers feel special because they have access to those products. Another option is to throw in a freebie of some sort, with every order.

Search engine crawlers recognize hidden keywords as unethical ways to boost site rankings. So, caution is needed, with SEO optimization, choose ways that will really boost your ratings instead of lowering them.

Ensure that it's surrounded by text that makes sense if you have a link within your text. Explain what you'll get when you click through to the link so that both your search and readers engine spiders will see the link as being natural and making sense. People won't click a link if they don't know what lies on the other side!

Keywords are very important for search engine optimization but you will want to use them in an effective manner in regards to affiliate marketing. Overflowing your page with keywords is not a good strategy, as search engines will pick up on this and dock points. Use your keywords in a relevant and understandable manner to maximize effectiveness.

You can use search engine optimization to generate additional traffic to your personal or commercial blog. One of the best ways to do so is by selecting a blog theme or template that is optimized for SEO and site relevancy factors. You will recoup your investment site traffic, although this may require the use of a paid template.

DO NOT use your front page's file name in links to it from the rest of your site. Only use your domain name as that is likely to be what other sites will use to link to you. By having two different links you'll split your link juice between the two and lower your page rank.

What many business owners do not realize is that they do not have to buy their way to the top of search results. The most effective way to get your website higher in search results is to search engine optimize the content on your site and to use your site description and meta tags to show its relevance to certain key terms.

You must make sure that each web page has its own unique and specific content. In other words, do not place the same article on more than one web page. The reason for this is that when you have two or more web pages with the same content, you will also have a set of inbound links that point to several pages rather than have the entire set of links point to one page. Since search engines take into account the number of inbound links, you want to consolidate as many of those inbound links into one web page. It is significantly better to have one high ranked web page than several lower ranked web pages.

Using these simple tips to improve your website's search ratings through Search Engine Optimization will revolutionize your website. Remember to be patient and stick with the strategies, and soon you'll see your site traffic skyrocket as more people discover you through search engines and become regular viewers or customers.

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