It’s the the final stretch of 2013, and you might be already be thinking about New Year’s resolutions. And if you’re a marketer or an entrepreneur, you’re certainly thinking about how you’re going to do business in 2014 — new markets you’re going to crack in to, new campaigns you’re going to launch, new partnerships you’re going to strike up. In fact, you’ve probably already forgotten about 2013, and have had your eye (almost) exclusively on the future for some weeks now.
Maybe you plan to step up your ecommerce game, maybe you’re going to break 10K followers on Twitter, maybe you’re finally going to rank #1 on Google for “buy acai berry online”. Whatever your goals, no matter how silly or sensible, you’ve probably drawn a roadmap to get there.
The problem with drawing roadmaps, however, is that we often leave out the routes we haven’t travelled. Well, here are 4 roads on the digital marketing landscape that are often overlooked by those who haven’t travelled them before and, depending on where you’re trying to go, can be time-saving short cuts.
With marketers already spending over 25% of their budget on content marketing and 78% of CMOs believing in branded content being the future of marketing, content marketing is poised to blow up (even more) in 2014. And as any content marketer will tell you, just because you build (or create) it, doesn’t mean that they’ll (users) will come. Indeed, with so many marketers investing in content, the competition for users’ attention (and eyeballs) has never been higher.
Not surprisingly, marketers are relying more on more on sponsored social posts to seed their content. From Sponsored Stories on Facebook to Sponsored Tweets, having a social ad budget is as much of a part of a content strategy as the budget you invest in content creation and community outreach/management.
But have you looked beyond the first-tier social networks? Have you considered the markets and audiences that exist beyond your users’/followers’ current social graph? Such as the niche-interest communities that are already extremely active on other social networks?
There are social networks out there that are primarily content driven, meaning that there are entire communities out there already looking for your content; you just have to reach out to them. Specifically, I’m thinking about SumbleUpon and Tumblr.
While SumbleUpon has for years allows marketers to promote their content to users based on interest, Tumblr launched their ad platform just last year. And while these communities might not always represent your target market, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to love your content (provided that it doesn’t suck), and Stumble and Tumbl it all over the web. The social signals generated by these users, moreover, will not only boost your SEO, but help you reach new customers that you might not have reach via Twitter or Facebook.
You know that saying “Fall down seven times, get up eight”? Well, how about applying that to your online ad buys? After all, just because you didn’t make the sale on the first visit, that doesn’t mean that that user still isn’t a targeted, qualified lead. And just because a user purchased once, that doesn’t mean they won’t buy again; in fact, they might be even more likely to buy again.
First, you have the users who abandoned their shopping cart. If they got that far down the conversion funnel but didn’t complete the transaction, there’s a probably a good chance that they were dissuaded by unanticipated shipping costs, so consider retargeting them with ads offering discounted or free shipping.
Then, you have those users who have visited your site, but didn’t make it all the way to check-out before bouncing. In this case, one of two things have happened: (1) these users were targeted users who were still just shopping around for products/services similar to what you offer, or (2) your pricing might have been too high for them. Here, you can retarget your ads at these user to either remind them that you still offer what they’re looking for, or to offer them a discount on the kind of items they viewed on your site.
Finally, you have users who’ve already purchased something from your site. You’ve already won their trust an they’ve already demonstrated a willingness to shop with you. So leverage that trust by retargeting them with ads for similar and/or related products/services, such as accessories to whatever they’ve already purchased.
Through ad retargeting, not only can you win over users who you’ve lost some point along the way (i.e. conversion funnel), but you can also win back users who’ve already shopped with you. In other words, don’t be so quick to give up on a sale just because you didn’t close it the first time around.
If you’re running any kind of ad campaign, whether it’s social or PPC or display, you need to think aboutlanding page optimization. In fact, you’ll probably want to send traffic from different sources to different landing pages, even if each of those landing pages advertise the same value propostition. The reason is that users coming from different sources clicked on ads for different reasons and were in different mindsets when they did so, so what’s going to resonate with them is going to be different.
In fact, this is even more true if you’re retargeted ads. After all, if the user bounced the first time, and you’re going to invest in another click to get them back, then you should probably offer them something other than what turned them off in the first place.
Of course, with landing page optimization comes A/B testing, and the challenge with A/B testing is that it can tie up designer/integrator resources. A cost-effective way of getting around that is by using a tool like Unbounce, “The landing page builder for marketers,” that let’s you “Build, publish, and A/B test landing pages without IT.”
Basically, Unbounce let’s you choose from over 50 different landing page templates that you can then edit and customize through easy-to-use drag-and-drop features. Then you just see which one works better for that ad campaign, isolate what it is that’s making it convert better, and refine and roll it out to similar campaigns.
The point is that if you’re going to diversify your social ad buys and/or be retargeting your ads, you need to provide each of those kinds of users with a user-experience that best suits their expectations. And this is going to require a bit of A/B testing and landing page optimization. Otherwise, you’re just throwing money at the same wall over and over and hoping that it (somehow) sticks, and as Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”
So now that you’ve stepped up your game to drive users to your site through social and ad buys, and are doing everything you can to convert them, you might want to find out exactly what they think about your brand, your site, and your products/services. After all, what better way to find out what your users are thinking than to get it straight from the horse’s mouth?
Now, this might sound a lot easier said than done. But just as there are social platforms that allow you to target by interest, ad platforms that allow you to (re)target based on behaviour, and tools that allow you to customize user-experience based on where they came from, there are tools that can help you collect user feedback and other market data.
For instance, if you’re a marketer, you’ve probably come across that 4Q survey that pops up as a layover when you first visit a site. Well, 4Q is a free survey offered by iPerceptions who also offers a whole bunch of other market research tools that you can upgrade to if you decided that you want to make sense of all the data you collect, conduct some predictive analysis, and turn it into actionable insight.
iPerceptions, of course, has no shortage of competitors, but the point is that there’s an entire set of customer insight tools out there that can help you capture data that goes above and beyond what you can get out of Google Analytics and the ad campaign reporting offered by AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and the like. After all, it’s one thing to know what your users have already done; but it’s quite another to gain insight into how they think and factor that in to your future marketing campaigns.
Especially in the context of marketing, it’s always advisable to have clear goals and a strategy to take you there — rather than shooting in the dark with random tactics and hoping for the best. When roadmapping that strategy, though, it’s too easy and tempting to stick to the routes we know and avoid those roads that lead off into unfamiliar places.
Those unfamiliar roads, however, can often lead to opportunities, and if you’re going really going to grow your business, you’re going to have leverage new channels to find new sources of revenue. So if your roadmap has already been drawn up to maximize every channel you’re already familiar with, you should start thinking about all the channels that you might’ve overlooked only because you’re unfamiliar with them.
So you’re a social media marketing rockstar. You manage your Facebook Page with style and grace. You have your fingers in all kinds of social media ad formats and you’re really good at optimizing your Page Post Ads on Facebook. And, of course, you know how to measure every social media action out there — from Tweets to Likes to Pins.
But what about your company blog? You know, that thing you used to update regularly before there were Facebook Pages. That section of your site that’s been relegated to sporadic updates of company news.
Where does your blog figure into all of this? Because it should figure front-and-center in your social media strategy, and if it’s doesn’t, it’s time to bring it back into the marketing fold and use it to generate both leads and customer engagement.
So social media has gone mainstream. No seriously: MAINSTREAM.
How do I know? Well, aside from the fact that every second piece of print or outdoor advertising seems to have a “Like” icon somewhere on it, Google has fully incorporated social tracking into Google Analytics. And that means that social media is so much more closer to being fully trackable and attributable as a source of traffic in the sales funnel.
So what does this mean for your business (or your clients’)? Well, it means that you can now understand how social is affecting is affecting your bottom line online.
And there are two ways it’s doing that: search rankings and actual conversion rankings.
So maybe you have an online budget and it’s time to build a strategy. Or maybe you have to build a strategy so that you can lobby the purse-holder for a budget to work with. How do you determine what channels are best suited for your goals?
Well, each online channel offers a distinct form of user targeting, and how you target someone is going to affect how they react, respond, and/or convert. So it’s helpful to first understand each of these major targeting methods, and from there decide which online marketing channels are most compatible with your goals.
We spend a lot more time on this blog talking about “outbound marketing” rather than “inbound marketing”. Sure, we sometimes touch on how to sync the two, such as using PPC to find SEO opportunities and support SEO efforts, but even then we’re focusing on using “outbound marketing” to support or enhance “inbound marketing”. The focus is still on the outbound side of things.
Well, what about planning a comprehensive and self-contained “inbound marketing” campaign from the get-go? In this post, we’re going to look at how to do just that, as well as how to infuse it with SEO every step of the way.
For those of you that aren’t aware, I co-host a show called HipMojo that’s all about digital media and technology. This is show #22 (released last week) in which Ash and I make some predictions for 2012. I throw out a couple whimsical predictions about Amazon, Google and Facebook — but even I have trouble taking these completely seriously.
After that, Ash runs through a list of “anti-predictions”. What he’s doing with these “anti-predictions” poking fun at some very common digital media predictions that we hear year after year after year. Some of them include:
If anything, our combined cynicism is food for thought in the sense of a reminder that it’s a little too easy to drink the kool-aid, pee out some snake-oil, and get carried away with just how much short-term promise some medium or technology has. Which isn’t to say that these media and technologies don’t have promise, but just that change, no matter how quick and disruptive as a force it can be, rarely happens over night. In any case, I hope you enjoy this episode…
Today, I gave a workshop on corporate social media strategy at Agence Ometz. In it, we explored the different social media channels that business can leverage, and how they might align those channels with their business goals. Specifically, we covered:
Here are some links to some of the tools we discuss using for managing multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts:
And here are the slides from the session.
This Wednesday will mark the first annual Salon eCom Montreal, and I’m going to be delivering a presentation on Social Media Strategy for Ecommerce. Salon Ecom Montreal is an all day event that explore all aspects of ecommerce strategy and best practices. It will be held at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal on May 18, 2011.
I’ll be co-presenting my session with Thomas Langdale, and we’ll be looking at how different social channels can be used to (1) target qualified users and (2) drive sales online. First, we’ll address how social media can be used for SEO, paying specific attention to how a proper social content strategy can help brands rank on targeted keywords.
Then we’ll go on to explore the best practices of using Facebook for ecommerce, including how to integrate inventory onto Facebook Pages and drive direct sales. Finally, we’ll examine how brands can use Facebook Ads to “hyper target” users, grow their customer base, and collect user-data that they can then put toward optimizing conversions.
If you’re interested in attending, we can also offer you a 30% discount by using the coupon code RABAIS_NVI and registering through this link. Hope to see you there…
Yesterday, I delivered a workshop at Agence Ometz on Corporate Social Media Strategy. The first part of the course consisted in a presentation where we explored 3 business applications of social media: (1) online reputation management & blended search optimization, (2) social media for SEO, and (3) enterprise social media API integration, such as Facebook Connect. Here are the slides from that part of the workshop.
Also, here are some links to some additional reading that explores some of these topics more in depth:
If you have any questions about any of this, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.