By Laura Patterson
Research published in AdAge at the end of 2016 helped decode today's five CMO priorities. Two of those priorities fell squarely into the domain of marketing performance management (MPM). The first priority was measurement. However, the study revealed that not just any kind of measurement will do: To be effective, you need to be able to measure Marketing's impact. The second priority was the need to do a better job of justifying Marketing investments.
AdAge was not alone in shining a light on those CMO priorities. The trend toward more compelling measurements of value were reflected in a Chief Marketer article that identified six trends for 2017, three of which included some type of measurement: cross-channel measurement, more sophisticated marketing measurement, and real-time attribution.
And a Forbes article predicted that 2017 is the year Agile Marketing will be taken more seriously. Why? Because "agile marketing results in a measurable improvement in marketing performance."
In another instance, Steven Wastie, CMO of Origami Logic, wrote that "2017 will the year of data and measurement.... Marketers will be under more pressure than ever before to prove accountability."
Perhaps you see the pattern emerging: For today's marketers, the challenge really isn't measurement; there is an abundance of metrics. The challenge is measuring Marketing's value and performance.
Notice we won't suggest that common three-letter term "ROI" as a way to demonstrate value. Although ROI is important, ultimately the goals of Marketing measurement should be to facilitate decisions and determine Marketing's contribution to the business. To that end, you need a way to measure the value Marketing creates.
Are You Sure Your Marketing Metrics Measure Up?
The number of data sources that businesses will rely on will grow 83% between 2015 and 2020, a Salesforce study forecasts. We will be able to measure even more than what we measure today. But, although it may seem counterintuitive, that isn't necessarily a good thing. With so much information, it is easy to find yourself sucked into a metrics vortex.
To avoid that fate, we need to be smarter about the performance metrics we select.
Most marketers still take a channel approach to their metrics. An Allocadia study found that the over 90% of the 200 CMOs and top marketers who participated in its research primarily track and report on output-based metrics (e.g., visits and inquiries). Although those are useful measurements, even the best performing channel will result in failure if you aren't moving the needle for the business.
Marketing budgets tend to reflect such a channel-centric approach, with marketing investments allocated by activities such as PR, email, events, etc. That approach to metrics and budgets is dangerous because channel-centric metrics simply perpetuate the myth that marketing activity equals value.
On the other hand, companies—whether startups or established firms—typically set annual revenue and profit targets. They then define outcomes that, when achieved, they believe will produce the targets. Outcomes clarify priorities. An example of a business outcome: "Increase the rate of adoption of a new product by X% among Y customers resulting in contributing X% toward revenue and Z more market share."
Achieving business outcomes requires various parts of the organization to work in concert. Let's continue using the above outcome example: Attaining the specified product adoption rate would likely require effort by R&D, Manufacturing, Sales, and Marketing. Ideally, the operational plan for each of those organizations would include performance targets associated with that outcome. For Marketing to complete that performance target, it may focus on product adoption rate: how many customers will adopt the product, which ones, at what cost, and in what time frame, and their contribution to the organization's market share.
Marketers making headway on measuring their value to the business take such an outcome-based approach to their metrics. Operating in this fashion allows Marketers to effectively tether their measurement data to key business outcomes. When done well, the links between activities and outcomes form a metrics chain, enabling Marketing to measure value and impact.
How to Translate Outcome-based Metrics Into a Measure of Marketing's Value
Value reflects worth. Though it certainly takes activity to produce the outcomes, Marketing activity in and of itself isn't valuable: You need a way to translate Marketing's work into a measure of business value.
Businesses hold in high regard all forms of value that determine the health and wellbeing of the firm: Employee value, customer value, supplier value, channel partner value, alliance partner value, managerial value, and societal value are all examples of value that determine an organization's economic value.
Considering that Marketing's purpose is finding, keeping, and growing the value of customer, the work of Marketing—i.e., marketing activity—should focus on creating customer value. Therefore, every marketing metric must in some way positively affect customer value. Achieving that objective requires knowing the following:
Using outcome-based metrics is vital to helping Marketing prove its value. These metrics are the first step in transforming the perception of Marketing from a cost center to a value center.
Why is this shift critical? Since cost centers are always under pressure to maximize efficiencies and reduce costs, they are always facing the relentless challenge of doing more with less. When Marketing is treated as a cost center, the Marketing leadership is constantly in the budget hot seat, with their sole focus on keeping their costs in line or below budget.
Of course, Marketing should stay within budget, but is that the primary conversation you really want to have? Wouldn't a conversation about how and why Marketing is moving the needle for the business be far more productive? Of course it would be. So make sure that you can have that discussion.
When your metrics link Marketing to business outcomes, you shift the conversation to what truly matters.
Are you in marketing? Do you care about our planet? If yes, then I imagine that you thought about Green Marketing. I’ve seen a lot of companies jump on the green bandwagon. Being green can be a competitive advantage over your competitors in the marketplace.
What is green marketing?
There isn’t a gold standard here, there are various definitions and it is sometimes called eco-marketing or environmental marketing. The core to green marketing is that the product you are marketing and the way that you are marketing is environmentally safe.
Some ways to describe green can include non-toxic, safe, biodegradable, carbon neutral, recycled, sustainable, re-used, etc etc. It is hard to quantify, but it is definitely a worthy cause. Here are 3 tips.
1. Define your green
The most important part is to be authentic. If you care about making things better, define better. Doing better has a value of its own.
2. Communicate how green makes things better
Green is good, share in your marketing how what you are doing and why it makes your product or services better.
3. Practice what you preach
This third one might seem unnecessary, but after you define your green and share what you are planning, do it with integrity. Avoid Greenwashing at all costs. Greenwashing is marketing that is designed to trick customers into believing, a brand, product or company is eco-friendly.
In a 2010 study, TerraChoice investigated the claims of 4,744 “green” products carried in stores across the U.S. and Canada, finding that more
than 95% of these products were guilty of at least one of what they call ‘The Seven Sins of Greenwashing’:
1. Hidden Trade-Off: Labeling a product as environmentally and focusing on the use of recycled content while hiding the use of toxic chemicals in manufacturing.
2. No Proof: You need to back up the hype with facts on the product and or website.
3. Vagueness: What does all-natural mean? What does safe mean? Give details.
4. Irrelevance: Somethings might be technically true, but completely irrelevant. An example of this is touting that a product is CFC-Free is great but they are illegal so no one uses them.
5. Lesser of Two Evils: One example of this would be saying organic cigarettes are better than X product. Organic cigarettes are still cigarettes.
6. Fibbing: Advertising something that just isn’t true. There are a lot of green badges, such as organic or energy star that is on products that haven’t been certified.
7. Worshiping False Labels: Implying that a product has an endorsement or certification that doesn’t actually exist, often through the use of fake certification labels.
As the TerraChoice study shows, greenwashing is rampant, which makes it difficult to know who to trust. I encourage you to be honest and transparent. Green is important. Take care of our planet. ~:-)
By Jeremiah Owyang
A picture can tell a thousand words, and a video essentially consists of many pictures strung together. How many words is a video worth? It is enough to make video the most popular expression through which we share and view things online. We watch 6 billionhours of video per month on YouTube, upload an additional 300 hours per minute, and that does not even touch on the growing popularity of more video-orientated social media websites like Snapchat.
But if you are interested in content marketing, you probably already know that video is important, and may be familiar with some tips on how to produce a marketing video that has a better chance of going viral. But the internet is constantly evolving, and that means that content marketers have to think about how video marketing will evolve going forward.
Here are some things to note about the importance of videos and trends to spot going forward.
Educating Is Better Than EntertainingContent marketers often dream of creating viral videos that spread across the internet in a flash by being humorous or creating some bizarre internet meme. But what makes videos so much better than pictures or words is that videos can pack in much more information in a short amount of time. Instead of trying to create a funny video, businesses are leaning on videos as a means to educate their customers.
Of course, using videos for educational purposes is not a new concept. McDonald’s used a two-minute video back in 2014 to educate customers about how its chicken nuggets are made and attack rumors about the health quality of its food. But the greater sophistication of internet marketing in its own right has spurred greater consumer distrust of funny videos promoted by businesses.
We live in an age where people do not easily trust others, especially corporations. This means that corporations need to be seen as giving something to the people to gain trust. Information in a video can accomplish that and is free.
Corporations should look to create videos that help and educate customers as opposed to zany videos that look more like a stereotypical advertisement. This shows that the corporation cares about the consumer and keeps it in the consumer’s mind.
The Importance of Social MediaAny self-respecting business should have a social media account, even though the specific social media website may vary from business to business. But while a business may have a social media account, it may still view YouTube or other video-sharing sites as the primary place to upload videos.
It may be time to start viewing those other social media websites as the primary place to put videos up instead, as they can boast certain advantages compared to YouTube. Twitter users can retweet a video and thus get it out to consumers who may not have noticed it otherwise. Facebook is sitting on a mountain of data that increases the chances of hitting the right consumers. Snapchat hits the teenage demographic, which is a key target for many businesses.
Most importantly of all, by branching out to other social media websites, your business can hit a wider field than you could by just staying on YouTube. You should look to push your business’s footprint on social media websites in general, and video is a key avenue to accomplish that.
The Rise of Vertical VideosEver since the television was invented, we have been accustomed to watching things with a horizontal frame. But one ongoing debate in the marketing world is whether marketers should embrace the growing popularity of vertical videos.
The lack of excitement toward vertical videos is understandable. Since they first popped up on websites like Instagram, vertical videos have been mocked as low-budget videos that are difficult to watch, as two black sidebars take up most of the screen. But while vertical videos may be awkward to watch on a computer, they are better to watch on mobile. And the tech story of the past few years has been how mobile devices are supplanting computers.
This format change will affect how businesses create videos. The narrower vertical format means that businesses cannot place as many people or things within a frame and have to pay more attention to the top and bottom of the frame. And because the vertical format is more popular on mobile and Snapchat, it promotes a more in-your-face style.
All of this means that a business needs to know when to use vertical and horizontal formats, and adjust its video production department accordingly. Longer, educational videos like the kind mentioned above should stay in a horizontal format. But shorter videos that are more like ads could move to a mobile format to attract mobile users, and businesses should consider emphasizing one format depending on their marketing strategies.
By Laura Donovan
Marketing and advertising have changed dramatically in the past several years. While some Boomers and Generation X folks still like to read a paper, or watch TV the Millennials are changing the way everything is done.
Millennials have been born and raised on media with information at their fingertips. The only generation to have computers and digital information from their first day on Earth. They also account for nearly one quarter of the US population and have an annual buying power of more than $200 billion.
It is expected that in 2017 their combined spending will outnumber all other demographics.
Attracting and converting this group is not easy, the old methods do not apply. So how can you engage this group and get them interested in what you have to offer? Here are 4 tips to take into consideration.
Omnichannel marketing provides consumers the ability to engage with a business in any format, in a physical store/office, an online website, a mobile app, a catalog or through Social Media.
Millennials are not easily manipulated. They look to their friends for recommendations and referrals. They are seeking out their own information and they place more value in the opinions of their peers than a direct message from a business.
Additionally, you can bombard them with ads and updates and emails, but they will eventually return to a business because of a good experience they had in the past or find your business because of your reputation with other consumers.
With the diverse range of consumers, it is becoming increasingly necessary to change your marketing and advertising tactics based on each demographic. If your services/products span several demographics you have your work cut out for you.
However, it is more important than ever to reach your customers and potential customers where they are and how they want to be reached if you want to grow your business (let alone stay in business!)
And just remember, Millennials are people too!
By Kristi A. Dosh
At the most basic level, your business needs two marketing strategies: One that increases your credibility and one that generates qualified leads. But it’s easier said than done, right?
In fact, it’s easier than you might think–whether you’re running a startup or working for yourself. As a publicist, my daily efforts center around landing my clients opportunities that achieve both goals simultaneously. The best part? Most of these opportunities are free.
Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs conflate these two strategies, mistake one type of activity for another, or overdo it on one side of the divide and neglect the other. Here’s how to tell credibility building from lead generation, and what it takes to strike the right balance.
CREDIBILITY BUILDERSFirst, everyone who’s selling something–whether it’s an app, a physical product, or their own consulting services–needs to build their market credibility. Lots of potential clients I speak to want to be on television, but most have outsize expectations for what a three-minute segment on a local news channel will do for their business.
“I did it to have content I could share on social media, not because I thought it would increase my followers,” Brooke Rash, cofounder of the online entrepreneur community The Social Circle, said of an appearance she made on morning television in Cincinnati last year.
As an entrepreneur who specializes in helping business owners crack social media, you might think that Rash appearing on TV during “National Social Media Day” would have boosted her website traffic or generated new leads. It did neither–but Rash wasn’t fazed. She understood that the appearance was a credibility builder. She could post about it on social media, add it to her website, and even share a link in her email newsletter, knowing that the media exposure would subtly improve how her audience perceived her expertise.
Esther Kiss, a fellow publicist, says she uses TV appearances similarly. “These clips help build trust with new prospects because of the credibility that comes with being associated with brands like NBC, CBS, or ABC,” says Kiss.
The same goes for contributing as a writer to a well-known publication (like this one). Before I started my publicity firm, I was a corporate attorney who steadily worked to position myself as an expert on the sports industry by writing for Forbes and becoming an analyst for a regional sports network. There’s no doubt in my mind that the exposure and credibility I gained that way were instrumental in ESPN hiring me away from my law practice in 2011 to become a sports business analyst full-time.
LEAD GENERATORSGuest blogging for a well-known outlet can also be a lead generator—not just a credibility builder—but it’s a long-term play.
I’m currently on my second stint with Forbes, and having written for the outlet for over three and a half years, I’ve been approached with book offers, paid speaking engagements, and lucrative consulting gigs. I would caution, however, that one guest blog isn’t going to have that same impact—it’s a long-term strategy that requires consistency. For example, this is my fifth piece for Fast Company, and I’ve seen no noticeable increase in leads or traffic to my website as a result. (Hint: that’s not my goal, either.)
But inevitably, when I ask potential clients about their publicity goals, they think the quick fixes are an appearance on a national television show or a feature in a major magazine. But while those things can build your credibility, they’re much less likely to be lead generators.
So, what type of publicity does generate leads?
First and foremost, you should look into being interviewed on podcasts in your niche. According to Edison Research, an estimated 98 million people listen to podcasts, and they over-index as affluent and tech-savvy. Plus, “since most podcasts are geared toward niche audiences, for experts with niche offers, doing podcast interviews can be very lucrative,” Kiss says.
Kiss and I both advise our clients to have a lead magnet and sales funnel in place in order to convert listeners into leads and, eventually, into clients or customers. At its most basic level, this means offering some kind of free content (a checklist, an ebook, video training, etc.) in exchange for an email address. Then you need a plan in place to follow up with those leads.
“The lead magnet should be answering questions or providing a solution for something that’s related to the topic the guest shares their expertise around, so it’s perceived as a logical next step,” Kiss says. “That way, you have permission to further communicate with them, provide value, build even more trust, and ultimately generate sales.”
Kiss was able to add $1.8 million to her client Ryan Levesque’s business during the launch of his 2015 best-seller, Ask, and she says it largely came as a result of podcast interviews. On each one, Levesque offered a free copy of the book to the first 50 listeners to claim the offer, only requiring them to pay for shipping.
Orders were tracked with a unique coupon code for each show, and then those purchasers were retargeted with Facebook ads where they were offered paid products and services. Nearly $2 million later, giving away his book for free to podcast listeners turned out to be a pretty good plan for generating quality leads.
This two-part marketing strategy isn’t rocket science, and many startup founders, solopreneurs, and business owners already grasp it in principle. But it can be easy to conflate the two sides of this coin, or mistake one type of marketing activity for the other, then scratch your head when your business just isn’t scaling. By balancing credibility building with lead generation right from the get-go, you can not only avoid this pitfall but start to raise your profile–and at a lower cost than you’d even budgeted.
By Rose Leadem
Emoji aren't just good at expressing your feelings while texting friends. It turns out, they're great for marketing your business.
A recent study by mobile marketing platform Leanplum and app analytics company App Annie revealed the effectiveness of emoji in mobile marketing campaigns. Analyzing more than 2.6 billion push notifications, the study found that push notifications with emojis had 85 percent greater open rates than those without.
The companies also found it's a good idea to target Android users -- the system's push notifications with emoji were opened 135 percent more than push notifications lacking those colorful little images. When it comes to iOS, there were only 50 percent more opens with emoji push notifications compared to those without.
Using emoji in mobile marketing will not only engage users, but also leads to higher usage, loyalty and conversions, the study says. Through A/B testing, it found that there was a 9 percent increase in users clicking a push notification’s call to action. And to ensure people weren’t downloading an app and abandoning it, the study also discovered that people retained an app for at least 48 hours when they initially downloaded it following a push notification featuring emoji.
Emoji push notifications even have higher open rates than push notifications with simple images, according to the study. Don’t know where to start? The companies pulled together the top 25 emoji that have the highest posh notification open rates.
Check out Leanplum’s infographic below to learn more.
Spend any time researching marketing trends and tactics for 2017, and you’ll see the words ‘genuine’ and ‘authentic’ over and over. Today’s marketing plan is to channel your authenticity and invite customers into your world. Marketers create relationships with their potential customers by making customers feel like they know the people behind the brands.
Individuals and companies are more visible than ever before. With dozens of social media outlets, brands have the opportunity to tell their story even as it’s happening. Social media is a staple in most people’s lives. It makes us feel like we know everyone that we follow, and that’s bled into how customers consume businesses. Companies have to build genuine connections within their target demographics to succeed today.
To invite your customers into your world, you have to open up. Creating online content like blogs, videos, podcasts or photos that tell your company’s story helps to humanize your company. Offline, supporting causes that align with your company’s mission, or doing pop-up shows where people can meet you in person helps to plant your brand in their hearts and minds.
You can focus on authenticity in your brand marketing easily. Here are three ways you can tell your story, and three things that accomplishes.
Three Marketing Tactics That Build AuthenticityCreate marketing content that shares your story. Today, everyone feels entitled to a behind the scenes look at things. We want to see the final product AND how it was made. We want stars to share their stories during red carpet interviews and on their personal Instagram stories. When you create content that shares your business story you open your world to your potential customer. You can introduce them to employees, share your values and practices, and make them feel like they are a part of the team.
Introduce yourself and be consistent. Brands that jump around are dead in the water today. There’s so much competition for a customer’s attention that you need to hammer home your message several times before it really sinks into anyone’s mind. Being consistent helps get your message to more people and helps it resonate more. Plus, you tell a cohesive story. Customers don’t simply want to know what you have to offer them. Customers want to feel like they know the brands they support. They want to know the history, the practices and the ethics of your brand. Customers give their money to brands that they understand.
Allow creativity to take the front seat. Again, competition is fierce out there. In order to stand out, allow your creativity to run wild. Take some risks. Share personal triumphs or stories of struggles. Be that guy in your field. When you do this in your marketing you come across as real. Nothing is more paramount than authenticity today. Brands that rely on automation or canned, clunky responses will fail. Customers want to connect with the humans behind the logos. When you take a risk, it shows that you’re about more than just profits. Stories that share personal information, such as work habits and challenges, resonate with people. It makes you real in their eyes. It makes you relatable.
When you’re developing a marketing plan, look to brands that move you. Marketing works on all of us. Even when we’re in the same game, a well-executed marketing plan will still wriggle into our hearts and minds. Business owners are still consumers.
So, what are the brands that tug on your heartstrings? Which company’s Instagram accounts do you stalk? Take the aspects that you respond to from them and incorporate them into your own plan. For example, Dove is a multi-national company that relies on using ‘everyday’ people in their marketing. American Eagle clothing has vowed to do away with airbrushing their models, to create more ‘realistic’ pictures of bodies. Their company message is that everyone is beautiful as they are- they just happen to be companies that sell beauty products.
You don’t have to be a beauty or clothing company to piggyback on their ideas. Use real people in ads for your tool company. Snap a picture of yourself before you get all dolled up for an interview and post it to social media. Your message is bigger than sales- it’s sharing a relatable story. Sales will come after your story has been shared.
Authenticity is the name of the game at the moment. It’s the best strategy to get people to notice and remember your brand. It’s the way to establish a true and lasting connection with your audience. Invest your time and energy into content marketing to see a difference in your growth and business success.
By Andrew Gazdecki
Marketing, especially in the hyper-connected digital world, is tough and expensive.
With new technologies, platforms, apps, and services manifesting themselves every week, the marketing world moves at a blistering pace.
Large enterprises have the budget-luxury of experimenting with untested trends and tools. Small businesses and startups, on the other hand, have a meager budget to work with and need to be more frugal.
Instead of being on the cutting edge, small businesses find themselves just outside it, chasing the coat tails of competitors that have the means to test and invest in these tools.
If you and your company are limited by a shoestring budget, it can be difficult to compete, but not impossible. There are cost-effective strategies that can help you remain competitive, even with limited resources.
As an organization, you have to remain particularly tight-fisted and target less-expensive options that promise high returns. With a small budget, accuracy is everything when choosing the tactics to invest in. Discovering new ways to grow your business on a dime is a process that requires a constant eye and a knack for creative thinking, planning, and even a little bit of luck.
If you aren’t known to be frugal and budget conscious, the following six ways to market on a tight budget will get you thinking about where your budget is best spent.
1. Give away free stuff by writing about it
When it comes to content marketing, blogging is one of the most popular types of content for multiple reasons: it’s practical, easy to produce and low-cost.
Written articles and similar content types are also very effective.
That said, if you struggle or lack time to blog, it isn’t a lost cause. Hiring a freelance writer is affordable and a good way to ensure that all of your written efforts are done at a high level and with zero errors.
Many of these trained writers are also adept at producing eBooks. These informative guides are longer than your typical blog post and take longer to produce. However, they offer the potential for significant returns. A well-written eBook can help push additional traffic towards your website, capture leads, and allow your brand reputation to grow and prosper.
It’s also easy to link the download of a free eBook as an incentive to signing up for your email-based marketing campaigns or participate in other brand practices.
2. Email (nope, not dead yet)
If you’ve ever heard someone claim that email is a dead or on-its-way-out technology, then hopefully you didn’t ignore your better judgment and listen to them.
The truth is, email is far from the brink of extinction, especially when you consider that it has one of the highest ROI of any marketing channel.
According to MailChimp, the popular email marketing service, the stat line for email marketing is incredibly compelling. While the effectiveness of email can depend on the size of your company and industry, the average stats look something like this:
Plus, while not everyone has a Facebook account or even a smartphone, most of us do have an email address. No matter what your demographics are, your target audiences are using and communicating over email.
The steep side of marketing via email is building the lists and gaining customer’s contact information. If you are just starting an email newsletter or are having trouble attracting participation, you can try and incentivize signing up to encourage more customers to do so.
As mentioned before, an eBook can be a good way to start the foundation of a newsletter list. In this scenario, the customer incentive is the eBook and, to access the incentive, the visitor willingly offers their participation in your email campaign.
The incentives can be low-to-no cost and have a direct impact on bolstering sign up rates.
3. Develop a solid mobile strategy
Mobile is becoming more affordable with the use of app makers that allow business owners to build mobile apps without high development costs.
These mobile solutions provide businesses with a powerful marketing channel. Mobile is hyper-effective because marketing messages are coming straight from the source—the brand itself.
Push notifications are a great way to let your customers know what is going on with your business. These messages can be tailored to specific users to deliver a personal message.
But a mobile app gives you the ability to do more than just communicate with your customers. You can track customer loyalty, build a reservation system, allow product ordering, and build customized features for your business.
These features help you reach your customers in a way no other technology can, and have become much easier to implement thanks to some of the best app makers on the market.
Businesses can create an app that tailors to their specific needs without the need of a development team.
4. Network, the old fashioned way
Your local business community undoubtedly has a number of meetings and events every month. These gatherings present the perfect opportunity to network and expand your reputation as a business owner.
Organizations often forget that aside from being a member of the business community, they are also a member of their local community.
If you have local retail locations, it is even more imperative that you showcase your brand in the local spotlight.
Sponsoring events, participating in town forums and other actions help demonstrate value to the customers in your immediate location. The positive brand reputation you’ll build will expand to include the customers outside of that area as well.
Networking events provide an important chance to promote. You can expand that email newsletter list or get people to try a new product out.
The other potential benefit to attending these meetings is finding business partners. These organizations have similar interests as your business, but don’t share direct competitors. This creates an opportunity to band together and be a part of a multi-business contest or promotion.
As an example, let’s say you own a local bike shop. To help stimulate business you can partner with adventure-focused groups or shops. You can offer discounts to their loyal customers in exchange for sending customers to your shop for equipment. In return, you can promote their business and provide them with employee discounts.
Non-locally, you could find a business partner that is willing to commit to a joint social media contest or something similar.
5. Google (yes, really)
We think of Google immediately as the premier search engine that it is, but Google offers a lot of other tools, beyond just a new verb and an ability to look up anything on the Internet.
G Suite, Google’s business-focused tools and extensions package offer all of the tech company’s most-popular tools (Gmail, Google Drive, Google+, Calendar, etc.), for business use.
This is an easy way to get your business its own email address, improve collaboration, manage tasks, store data and much more. G Suite does cost some money.
If you are really on a tight budget, Google My Business is a free service that delivers an excellent and deliverable means to supply vital information about your business when potential customers search for you. Google My Business puts your hours, contact information, address, menu (when applicable) and more vital, highly searched information all in one place.
This helps people visiting your area find your business before your competitors’ organizations.
6. Join and engage with existing communities
The internet is comprised of many unique communities where people meet and exchange ideas.
These communities can be as small and specific as a “book club for women over 50 living in Pensacola, Florida”, to as large and broad as Reddit or Craigslist.
Target niche groups that are relevant to your brand. Reach out to pre-existing communities of people that have demonstrated an interest in what your brand has to offer, rather than trying to attract them one at a time with more conventional means.
Since these people are not visiting your website yet or following your social media pages, it’s a great opportunity to share your blog content, encourage newsletter signups, and showcase the level of expertise and know-how that your brand brings to the table.
Inserting yourself into these communities and conversations puts your brand on a more approachable and human level.
Again, you are providing value, both in your products and the experience you are offering to consumers.
AirBnB did this flawlessly in their early days, with nearly overnight success. Their so-called “growth hack” leveraged the existing groups on Craigslist that were focused on housing and real estate to find prospects all over the world.
ConclusionMarketing is never free; it always costs something. Often, this is dollars and cents, but it can also be time, manpower and other resources.
If you are marketing on a small financial budget, you may have to tap into a resource you have an abundance of. For instance, blogging requires no dollar investment to do yourself, but it does require a good chunk of time.
All of the above strategies can be completed with little to no dollar investment and promise good returns. This will allow you to grow your business, compete with firms with larger budgets and, over time, expand your shoestring budget to allow for greater investments.
By Megan Totka
Video marketing was the big success story of 2016, and so far in 2017, there are no signs it’s losing its shine.
The statistics tell a powerful tale. Research reveals video viewers are between 64% and 85% more likely to buy a product after seeing a video for it, and 71% of marketers report higher conversion rates for video than for any other form of marketing.
Using video in emails can substantially increase click-through rates, and users are far more likely to share video with their friends (therefore promoting your company for free) than any other form of advertising.
And if the primary benefits weren’t enough, rich media is seen in a favorable light by search engine algorithms—so the presence of a video on your website could also provide a handy SEO boost.
Is Video Right for You?In short, yes, it probably is. Online access in developed markets is near-universal; 84% of American adults are internet users, and among the under-50s the figure is closer to 95%.
That’s good news for all online marketing, but video in particular benefits from the rise in our use of mobile technology to access the web. An incredible 92% of mobile users watch and, most importantly, share videos.
Text rarely works well on smaller screens, but video is perfect for mobile.
However big your business is and whatever you’re selling, it’s a near-certainty that your target demographic will be out there waiting on the web, ready and willing to engage with and, if they like it, spread your message around.
Getting Creative vs. Calling in the ProsVideo marketing is a lot trickier to put together than static images or text-based advertisements, and this can present problems, especially if you’re doing it alone or as part of a small, non-specialized team.
Whether or not you can produce useful video marketing in-house largely depends on the skills and equipment available, and what your goals are. A quick, six-second Vine video could easily be shot using a smartphone camera, and a $400 camera on a tripod is more than capable of producing professional-looking video.
Using a professional video production company will almost certainly produce better results, though, and a polished, stylish end product with quality visuals, writing, planning, and sound (amateurs rarely cover all these bases) is a lot more likely to make a strong impression on a potential customer.
Think about what you want to achieve with your video. A mediocre-quality Vine isn’t likely to do you any harm, but if you’re showcasing your business or product in a “real” video, quality matters. Potential customers could be put off by a poor-quality video.
The Cost of VideoIf you’re doing it yourself and have the tools on hand, the production side of video marketing is “free”… aside from the loss of working hours better spent on other tasks.
Taking the professional route obviously costs a lot more. As a rough guide, a minute-long video produced by a competent, local team would come in somewhere in the region of $5,000. While it may sound pricey for something so short, you receive a product you can use to promote your business on dozens of different platforms. And remember: There’s no better platform than video for growing your business.
But be wary of hidden costs. You may also need to spend precious dollars on promoting the video, for example. Some marketing companies will offer a full service, including production and promotion. This sort of deal gives you a clear upfront idea of the cost—but only pay for services you actually need.
Calculating Your Video ROIHaving made your investment in video, your number one priority will be measuring whether the resulting additional sales justify the cost. It’s impossible to determine exactly why each sale was made, but there are plenty of tools available that will give you a strong indication of your videos’ effectiveness.
Google offers a free, simple URL builder that allows you to add tags (known as UTM parameters) to URLs pointing at your site. These let you use your Google Analytics account track visitors arriving to your site from specific locations, in this case, from clicking links associated with your video.
YouTube and Facebook have their own free tools allowing you to track user behavior, and paid tools such as Wistia offer a fully comprehensive tracking experience.
Get StartedMore and more businesses are turning to video to get their message across, and as smartphone use continues to rise, the importance of this medium will only grow further.
Don’t expect instant success; your first effort might be a hit, or you may have to wait until your fourth or fifth video to see real benefits. Stick with it. You can’t afford not to.
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