Is your online investment in digital marketing lost on a website that does not convert leads? One of the more common questions I receive when consulting clients is how to prioritize digital efforts for measurable sales results. I prefer to reply with a question of my own: Is your website working hard enough to funnel new business into the pipeline? Most digital tactics will direct a potential customer to your website. It remains that final destination, validating what you claim anywhere else. When they arrive, what kind of brand experience awaits them? Is it consistent? Is it relevant to their needs? Do you make the decision making process easier than competitors? Or does it reveal disconnects? Before prioritizing your digital efforts, ask yourself these three questions: 1. Have you recently evaluated which devices are trending across your customers, and what that experience is like for them? If you are noticing a trend, determine what customer needs are driving it and how you can respond by designing the optimal experience on that device.
If you’ve read Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, you might remember the Red Queen’s race. In it, Alice discovers that a brisk run with the Red Queen has brought her to the same place she started.
“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Managing a content marketing program often feels like running the Red Queen’s race. In addition to plotting out strategy and messaging, you can spend considerable time just keeping up with the latest social media platforms and technologies — not to mention the etiquette for each.
Content creation is a separate race: what topics do you cover? What format should you use? Where should you publish, and how will you drive people there?
Finding balance amidst all these decisions can seem like an impossible feat. But it doesn’t have to be. Most content marketing can be divided into two fairly simple categories: stock and flow.
â€œStock and flowâ€ is a concept first used by writer and media inventor Robin Sloan. Stock, Sloan explains, â€œis the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.â€
Think of search engines as the customs gate of an airport through which every person entering a country must pass. The country they’re entering is the Internet, and 1.3 billion people use search engines every day to find stuff there.
That’s a big number and it’s easy to find dramatic ways to illustrate just how big– it’s the size of the entire population of China. But what’s more important than the size of this number is the idea that all your customers and potential customers are using search engines every day and if you don’t reach them there, your competitors will. So your opportunity is to connect with these people as they pass through this narrow gate.
But the reality is, for many marketers today, search engine marketing is merely a sideshow beside the seemingly more important activities that make up the core of their marketing plans. This approach misses an enormous opportunity and it needs to change.
How Your Customers Use Search Engines
There are three critical ideas related to how people use search engines that should guide your search engine marketing strategy.
First, potential customers are not just searching the name of your company, product or service, they may be searching for information that relates broadly to what you offer. So your search marketing efforts should focus on ensuring that your marketing content appears when users enter copy related to what you offer, not just when they enter your company name, product or service.
Second, of the 1.3 billion people using search engines daily, 1.1 billion click on the unpaid listings- versus the paid advertising that appears on the top and sides of the search engine results. So this means that paying for search engine listings through services like AdWords cannot be the core of your long term search marketing strategy. Ultimately you need to create organic visibility for your marketing content (“organic” is the term that describes non-paid search engine listings).
Finally, know that 1 billion daily search engine users (out of 1.3 billion) never look beyond the first page of results. So this means that achieving page-one search results listings is crucial.
Is it time to redefine your brand?
In a study released earlier this year from BtoB Magazine, nearly 80 percent of B2B marketers indicated that brand differentiation is a priority for their organization. However, most marketers surveyed (60 percent) report they are not fully satisfied with their current effort. I believe that the lack of satisfaction stems from the fact that just differentiating on brand isn’t enough to truly impact their business.
Setting yourself apart from competitors is important, but that alone isn’t enough to engage decision-makers. Brand differentiation is only one component of a strong brand. In addition to being differentiated, your brand must have a distinct personality or tone, it must be credible, and it should include a clear promise that you make to your customer or clients. An organization needs to define or redefine each of these important brand components to compete. When each of these elements is clearly defined and integrated into the business, a company will see powerful brand impact.
Redefining your brand can take time, but in the end, it can put you ahead of the competition for years to come.
Does your brand need redefined?
This worksheet will help you evaluate if it’s time to consider redefining your brand based on factors like:
- Does your company have a clear vision for the future?
- Do you know what your customers find valuable about your company? Your products? Your services?
- How distinct are your products or services from your competitors?
To successfully measure the effectiveness of your company’s marketing mix, you must first understand the customer decision journey and which channels are having the strongest impact. And on the flip side, identifying under-performing marketing channels can ultimately lead to stronger ROI and more powerful marketing results. Marketers are turning to attribution measurement – the identification, tracking and measurement of all marketing tactics leading up to a conversion – to better understand buyer behavior and tailor marketing efforts to deliver a more seamless purchasing process. (Continue Reading this eBook)
Search terms are powerful indicators of how consumers think and feel about a subject or a product or a brand. And for a marketer trying to understand consumer preferences and attitudes, this information can be extremely valuable. The challenge is how to derive insight from this “big data.”
Recently I was asked to conduct a webinar on this subject as part of Big Data Academy from Data Informed. This webinar series provides information on how to use “big data” technology to improve business performers. I was very pleased to be presenting next to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, a book that influenced me significantly when I read it in 2007.
Google provides the ultimate “big data” and our team here at JPL has developed a good way to use this search data to learn about consumer preferences. The key to this approach is seeing how search queries correlate with consumer needs. To illustrate this example, let’s look at searches related to “bed bugs.” It so happens that there were 46,241,401 searches in the U.S. for subjects related to bed bugs (yes, we might have a problem).
First, we use Google AdWords Keyword Tool to see all the searches related to “bed bugs.” We find 801 different search terms related to this subject. These include terms as general as “what are bed bugs” and as specific as “bed bug exterminator Brooklyn.” Next we organize these search terms according to how they correlate with the three main stages of the marketing funnel: awareness, consideration and purchase. And we find that there are lots of search terms that correlate with each stage.
Today there is an enormous amount of data available to guide marketing decisions. In fact, there is so much data that it is hard to know where to start. But today’s marketplace is changing so fast that there is a huge risk in not using “big data” to your advantage.
Consider how fast consumer preferences can change. MySpace (remember them?) lost 35 percent of its users in one year and went from being a leading social platform to a dinosaur. About a year later, Pinterest gained 18 million users in one year and went from being a niche site to a vital marketing platform.
What is critical to see is that consumer preferences now change faster than your fiscal year so it is not good enough to plan in yearly cycles. You need to analyze, test, learn and evolve in much shorter durations. Here are five ways to do that.
1. Use search data from Google as a primary source of market intelligence
As a test, I used just these two tools to see what I could learn about the recent bed bug outbreak (you have heard, haven’t you?). In about an hour I learned the following:
There are 46 million monthly searches on bed bug related terms
One of the most frequent search terms is, “How do you get bed bugs?”
The problem is focused in large cities of the Midwest and Northeast, particularly Cincinnati
The problem has worsened considerably since 2010
There’s a strong need for strategies to address the problem
So if I can learn this much about bed bugs in an hour, imagine what you can learn about your product and category using the same sources!
2. Teach your team Google Analytics
Google Analytics provides detailed, valuable and free data on the performance of your website. This data should be a constant source of guidance that your team taps every week. To ensure that your team knows how to use Google Analytics, ask each of them to get trained in its use through free instruction from Google.
3. Tackle data analysis and insight mining in small bites
Gone are the days when you can rely on instinct when planning and targeting marketing campaigns. Use data. Here’s how:
The next time you plan a lead generation campaign, do a quick ROI analysis using data from Google AdWords Keyword Tool to check quantities of searches on particular keywords. Then see how much those terms cost to buy. Using the bed bug example, I know that there are 33,100 monthly searches for the term “how to eliminate bed bugs.” And I know that I can buy that search term for $2.78 per click. Using that data, combined with an estimate of conversion rate, I can quickly calculate ROI for a campaign and determine if it will succeed.
4. Ensure that the cost of deriving insight is commensurate with its value
I once worked on an advertising campaign for Ivory Soap where we spent about $150,000 on research and testing in preparation for deploying the campaign. $150,000 might sound like a lot, but it was just two percent of the $8 million media budget, and it was well worth it to ensure that the campaign worked. When your team is determining how much to spend on research and analytics, make sure that the expenditure is commensurate with the overall business value.
5. Optimize during campaigns, not after
When you turn on a digital marketing campaign, plan to check results weekly and make adjustments right away. For example, with paid search campaigns you should reallocate the budget away from low performing search terms toward high performing ones. Additionally, you can conduct multivariate testing to identify what elements of a landing page work best in driving conversions. Then, based on what you learn, you should make changes to your site immediately.
The marketing world is speeding up and so should you. But rather than feeling overwhelmed by “big data,” make it work for you. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please join me for a free webinar that is part of the Data Informed Big Data Academy Marketing Analytics & Customer Engagement series on August 14 at 2:00 pm EST. Sign up here.
Digital marketers know that analytics are crucial to successful campaigns. They constantly look at data to determine what’s working and what’s not. They make ongoing adjustments to keywords, creative execution and messaging based on what they learn. They fine tune, and build increasingly effective and efficient lead generation campaigns.
What we learn from a digital marketing campaign is astounding. It’s one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to learn about your target, your messaging and even your products and services. And, the same learning that is applied to improve the digital marketing campaign can be used to improve other marketing communications efforts.
Gaining insights in real time
Here is an example:
A company has a product or service in need of a push. Maybe it’s a new offering, or maybe it’s a struggling product that would benefit from a spike in leads. The client has allocated a substantial budget to the lead generation campaign. Through planning, we determine that an integrated program is the solution, with tactics including digital marketing, events, social media, public relations and some traditional advertising (print, TV, radio, outdoor, etc.).
We have a pretty good idea of what makes their product different, and the client has broadly identified the target. However, there is no time (or budget) for a research engagement to further define the target and identify the buttons that need to be pushed to generate leads.
The solution? Launch a tight, disciplined lead generation digital marketing campaign. Test messaging. Experiment with targeting. And closely track the results. In a week or two, with a minimal investment, we invariably gain important insights about the target and what drives a response. We learn what works, and we learn what doesn’t work. In some cases, we even test various products or services to determine if they’re right for the target.
Oh, and at the same time, we drive leads.
Applying the learning
What we learn is leveraged to refine the digital marketing program. But it is also applied to other aspects of the program. The proven messaging is used in the more expensive media. Improved target definitions aid in media planning. Work gets produced with a much better understanding of what will be effective.
The result? An integrated, lead generation campaign that is driven by real learning, which significantly increases the likelihood of success.
With just a few weeks and a small budget, you can learn a lot. While simultaneously driving business. That’s research that we can all justify.
Marketers across the globe are being asked to create more content with smaller budgets. With proper strategy and planning, video can help you achieve that objective. Here’s how to make your video content dollars work harder for you.
1. Identify where video makes sense: Strategy
Video is a great communication tool. 75% of executives view business videos daily or more (B2B Trends in Mobile and Video Usage, Google/Forbes Insight, U.S., 2010) Review your content strategy and identify which messages make sense for video in your industry. Product demonstrations, testimonials, expert interviews and case studies are some examples that may work for you.
2. Plan for quantity: Economy of scale
In video marketing, quantity reduces cost — just like shopping at a convenience store and buying one soda versus a case at a wholesaler. After identifying the message or topics, plan for how many videos you will produce in a year. A template approach will reduce cost and time to completion such as reusing openers, closers, the graphics to display names, job titles and chapter or section introductions.