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Valuable Tools for Better Content Marketing

Posted by advantagemarketing on February 12, 2015

Check out these tools to help you make the most of your content marketing efforts.

Check out these tools to help you make the most of your content marketing efforts.

Make the most of your content marketing efforts and strategies by using time-saving tools.  These three will help you effectively manage your time and help you gain valuable insights into your competitor’s strategies:

SEMRush – Analyze how you and your competitors are ranking with SEO

This is a useful tool for monitoring how you and your competitors are placing on Google and the traffic that you’re receiving. By entering a web address, you can get an overview of the traffic you are getting, plus valuable information about keywords, link building and paid vs. organic searches. You can also see your competitors’ best keywords, discover new competitors and analyze their performance.

Use this data to evaluate your marketing strategies, keep the traffic that you do have and use the most successful competitors’ keywords to improve your domain rank.

Free and paid versions available.  Plans starting at $69.95 per month.

BuzzsumoDiscover and analyze which content is most popular

In the rapidly changing field of content marketing, Buzzsumo helps you keep up with what’s trending. This nifty tool collects data and helps you discover what content is being shared most frequently across the various social media networks. Buzzsumo will help you with content creation by analyzing competitors’ content marketing strategies, showing you what’s working for them and who their target audience is. Come up with better ideas, share great content, and find out who the industry leaders are.

Simply enter a domain or topic to see what is being shared most often. From here you can narrow your search through several filter types, view back links, and view who is sharing the content. This allows you to quickly identify what is working well, and what’s not.

Free and paid versions available.  Plans starting at $99 per month.

Quill Engage – Get Google analytics fast, easy to read and free

This tool analyzes and gains insights from Google analytics and provides fast, easy to understand results sent to your email weekly and/or monthly. Quill Engage tells you how and why your site’s performance may be changing. With Quill Engage, you will understand what’s driving your traffic, get relevant analytics, and receive advice on how to improve performance all for free.

Use these tools to improve your current marketing plan, revamp a plan that isn’t working, or simply to maximize your marketing efforts. Let us know what you think. Have you tried any of these tools in your content marketing?

Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/h2ey1

Posted in content marketing, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Trends, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Whole-Brained Approach to Marketing Is Most Valuable

Posted by advantagemarketing on December 2, 2014

whole-brain-marketing

Today, you need both creative and analytical/technical components to your marketing plan, if you expect to be successful in engaging customers.

By guest blogger Laura Carter

When we think about marketing, we most often think of creativity, innovation, and visual appeal, traits that typically come from so-called “right-brained” thinkers. However, a new trend is taking over, where “left-brained” or analytical thinking is just as valued and respected in the marketing world.

The main goals for marketing have always been to understand the customer and then guide him or her towards a purchase. The path that a buyer takes to that purchase has evolved over the years. According to the CEB Marketing Leadership Council, customers now progress nearly 60% of the way through the purchase decision-making process before actually engaging a sales rep. This places a heavy burden on marketers to deliver value and education early on in the buying process.

As a result of changing buying styles, businesses must embrace the role of technology in their marketing strategies. If you expect to reach and engage customers today, your marketing strategy must employ both analytic/technical and creative strategies. In other words, you need to have both geeks and creative types contribute to your marketing.

Those who don’t include technology and analytics will surely be left behind, if they haven’t been already.   Spending in this arena has already increased and is still on the rise. In fact, Laura McLellan of Gartner predicts that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.

The best companies must know how to generate interest using technology and turn that into actual revenue. They also must realize that their products and brand need to have a broad appeal that comes from a full right and left brain marketing approach.

With more money being invested in marketing technology, businesses want to see that they are actually getting a return on their investment. This often requires a more refined approach to analytics than what we have seen in the past. Modern marketers need to constantly monitor these analytics to know which areas to focus on and which areas to drop.

Marketers are not only expected to provide good marketing skills, but must also be able to track results with accurate analytics. They must also be able to merge fine details with creativity, analytics with the abstract, and logic with imagination to capture market share.

What marketing strategy do you use for your business? Is it a left-brained, right-brained, or whole-brained approach?

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, content marketing, lead generation, Marketing, Marketing automation, Marketing plans, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Trends, Social media marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dos and Don’ts of Content Marketing

Posted by advantagemarketing on September 17, 2013

content marketing

Content marketing can be more cost effective than advertising, IF you learn the Do’s and Don’ts of effective CM.

The Financial Post ran an excellent column online about the do’s and don’ts of content marketing. If you’re still unfamiliar with this type of marketing, think of it as continually providing interesting and helpful content such as FAQs, white papers, online communities, etc. to your prospects. Such content is not an overt, pushy sales pitch and can be more cost effective than traditional advertising.

According to The Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 91% of B2B Marketers and 86% of B2C marketers already use content marketing (CM) in their marketing mix. CM is meeting the needs of today’s demanding customers, according to the article. Google research finds that consumers require twice as many sources of information before making a decision today than they did just  a couple of years ago. Roper Public Affairs, a research firm, found that 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement, while 60% say that company content helps them make better product decisions.

The article reports that some companies such as Xerox, McDonalds, and Open Text are scoring big wins with CM. Other firms aren’t so sure their efforts are paying off. A CMI survey of 1,400 companies found that only 36% of respondents considered their CM initiatives effective.

One big difference between CM and traditional marketing tactics is that CM is NOT a quick hit. It requires an investment of time and effort, not only by the marketing team but by the experts in your firm. These folks, because of their knowledge and experience, are often your firm’s busiest professionals, even before you load them up with CM tasks.

To maximize CM’s benefits, you would be wise to heed the article’s dos and don’ts:

Dos

  • Focus on the objective – CM should be about inciting readers or viewers into doing something desirable like purchasing a product or requesting a quote.
  • Have a systematic process – Organizations should cultivate, track and engage customers through their CM journey. To drive efficiency, marketers need to ensure they are using and measuring the right metrics like leads by content, on page conversions and share ratio by content.
  • Maximize SEO – To maximize CM’s impact, companies should periodically refine their search engine optimization programs including keyword choice and site design.
  • Stress quality – Poorly crafted and executed content can detract from your CM program and brand image. CM benefits from an iterative approach that regularly explores customer preferences and tests out new creative executions.

Don’ts

  • Choose the technology first – Technology is an enabler not a strategy.  Get the right structure, people, and value proposition in place before choosing any CM tools.
  • Under-invest – Producing quality requires the right people and resources, as well as a creative license.  CM capabilities need to be nurtured for long-term success.
  • Ignore organizational implications – Leveraging CM requires the buy-in and collaboration of many parts of the company to unlock key knowledge.

Do you want to learn how CM can help your firm get more from its marketing investment? Or are you wondering if you’re doing content marketing right? Contact us or request a complimentary Marketing Assessment today.

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, content marketing, Management, Marketing, Marketing Trends, small business | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

For Best Results, Just Add Video

Posted by advantagemarketing on July 2, 2013

video for small business

Small businesses can boost their lead generation by adding video to their marketing mix – and they don’t need to resort to grumpy cats

My kids are hooked on YouTube. Even my husband is on YouTube almost every night. Turns out my family is not alone. YouTube, the leading Internet-based video distribution platform, gets over 1 billion unique visitors per month.  People are watching a staggering 6 billion hours of YouTube videos every 30 days — which is almost one hour for every person on Earth. Not surprisingly, YouTube reaches more U.S. adults ages 18-34 than any cable network, according to Nielsen ratings, and not all of them are watching Grumpy Cat videos.

Video can be a powerful vehicle for getting a company’s message in front of a receptive audience. But it can be difficult for small business owners to know how to use video effectively.

To learn more about video, I turned to Lisa Marie Latino, executive producer at Long Shot Productions. Her Fairfield, NJ, based company is a full service television production firm that works with corporate and small businesses.

Why should business owners add video to their marketing mix?

Lisa Marie: Video tells a more vibrant story and can bring your message to life. When you use a video clip on your website, for example, your site visitors gets to know your business on a deeper level. People have short attention spans and video gets them to the main point of your story more quickly.

Video is also so much more affordable than putting an ad in a magazine. With video, there’s a more immediate call to action – and people will really take action.

What are some ways businesses are using video today?

Long Shot Productions

Long Shot Productions works with corporate and small businesses to tell their stories through video

Lisa Marie:  I interviewed Kevin Harrington, chairman and founder of TV Goods Inc. – the “As Seen on TV” folks – about how video contributes to business success today. As Kevin says, video gives you the ability to demonstrate the benefits of your product, the before and after, and the customer or expert testimonial. (Lisa’s interview with Kevin is here: http://youtu.be/nSRCECqSdTw.)

At Long Shot, we’ve done viral marketing videos for clients, plus interviews, product launches, training videos, messages from the CEO, and customer testimonials. I’ve had clients kick off conventions with video. Any marketing campaign can easily have a video component.

I think every company should have a video on their homepage that explains how they help customers. And for all those bios posted on your website, consider adding a video component. Such videos can help your site visitors get to know your company employees in a more personal way.

How can a business owner get a video made?

Lisa Marie: The easiest thing to do is record video with your iPhone or other mobile device. But this isn’t professional and can reflect poorly on your company’s brand image. You wouldn’t publish a poorly worded article, so you shouldn’t produce a low quality video.

You might be tempted to call a local university and ask for a student to do your video. The tradeoff here is that you may get a free or low-cost video, but the student is focused on school and your video is typically not their first priority.

My advice: Invest in getting your video produced professionally. A expert videographer will think critically about your business and knows how to tell a great story with visuals. It’s like the rest of your marketing: you’re better off working with an expert.

What are some tips for creating a video that engages the audience?

Lisa Marie: Start by mapping out your expectations from start to finish. What do you want the video to accomplish? What look and feel do you want the video to have? And so on.

Then you must find a video company that “gets” you. You must have an environment of collaboration, patience and mutual respect with your videographer.

What else makes a successful video? A stellar script. You need to allow time to develop a good script and have a good shoot.  Typically I spend a lot of time coaching clients through script development, and before and during the shoot. I know it can be intimidating to speak on camera. But the beauty of this is it’s not a live event. You can control it – if you mess up, you can always shoot the video again.

What other advice would you give to someone who is considering video?

Lisa Marie: It’s easy to produce a video, but it has to be marketed effectively to produce the results you want. Your marketing team needs to have a plan to promote your video to help people find your company. You have to put your video in front of them; don’t wait for them to come to you!

Your marketers need to focus on social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or wherever your audiences are – to actively promote your video. And share your video content with bloggers – they always need good content.

Have you used video in your company’s marketing mix? Share your experiences in the Comments section.

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Entrepreneur, Internet business, Marketing, Marketing plans, Marketing Trends, small business, Social media marketing, video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

5 Marketing Trends that Matter – Part 2

Posted by advantagemarketing on July 26, 2012

In the previous post, we looked at hot marketing trend #1 – Use Stories to Cut the Clutter –  presented by expert panelists at the NJ MarComm Summer Networking Event.  Here are a two more of today’s most important marketing trends that were revealed during the discussion:

Trend #2 Winning the Moments that Matter

When my sister-in-law KK and I get together, one of us will eventually say, “I wonder about…” or, “I can’t remember where I saw it, but…” at which point she’ll say, “Wait! I’ll Google it,” and whip out her smart phone.

Traditional sales & marketing funnel

If this is what you think your company’s sales & marketing funnel looks like today – you’re wrong.

KK is a perfect example of what NJ MarCom panelist David Blair, a Google digital marketing solutions executive, described as “a monumental shift in behavior,” one in which people are increasingly online to find information and solutions. He presented these statistics:

  • One-third of media consumption is online
  • Over 1 billion searches are conducted every day
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded every minute to YouTube
  • 400% increase in mobile searches in the last year
  • 71% of web users watch online video
  • 39% of web users spend 1-5 hours watching video
  • YouTube is the #2 search engine
  • YouTube is inherently social: people share videos as well as make them

What this means, said David, is that the old way of marketing is completely obsolete. The traditional sales and marketing funnel is now twisted. There are many more touch points where you need to have a presence, engage your audience, but not constantly push your message.

People are not only looking online for information, they’re looking for insight, inspiration, empathy, and a solution. To make the web work for you, you need to connect with your audience at the right time, at the right place, and with the right message.  At Google, they call this “winning the moments that matter.” What this means is that your communication pathways have to be well thought out and you need to actively orchestrate connections across key touch points.

Trend #3: Customers Are in Control

If it’s so easy to look things up – just Google it, like KK does – what is getting lost? Retention, said David, and comprehension of what we marketers would like the audience to understand. The control is in the customers’ hands, not ours.

Listen to your customers

Listen to your customers, then create stories that lead to conversations.

Search comes first, before purchase – so, for starters, you need good search engine optimization (SEO). But you also need to look at where the communities are who are interested in your products or services. Segment these communities, look at each segment’s behavior and then put yourself in that segment’s mindset. Think about what you want community members to do with the information you’re providing. Then tell stories to start the conversation with that community.

The key here, noted David, is that organizations need to listen to the community and then start the conversation.

The Marketing Advantage Takeaway: You need to understand your customer’s buying process in depth and know where they’re getting their information. What do people need to see or read from you and when? In the Marketing Advantage post, Letting Customers Have Their Say, you’ll find tactics for starting the conversation and listening to your customers.

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Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Marketing, Marketing Trends, Professional service firm marketing, small business, Traditional marketing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

5 Marketing Trends that Matter – Part 1

Posted by advantagemarketing on July 17, 2012

Marketing Trends that Matter

Four panelists at the 2012 NJ MarComm Summer Networking meeting talked about the top marketing trends. Read this series of posts and find out what really matters in marketing today.

There’s a lot of chatter out there about the latest and greatest trends in marketing – much of it put out by marketers themselves.  But what really matters? What are the BIG CHANGES that are fundamentally altering marketing? And what are the implications for small businesses and professional service firms?

To find out, I attend the NJ MarCom Summer Networking Event which featured a panel discussion on this very topic. Here’s the first trend that is reshaping marketing; others will be covered in a separate post.

Marketing Trend #1 – Stories Cut through the Clutter

Jennifer Lehr, Associate Professor and Chair of Communication Studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University, spoke about trends in education. While she did talk about students staying in school longer to earn advanced degrees – no surprise here if you’re the parent paying the bills – the more notable trend is the renewed interest in storytelling and narrative communication. Stories can cut through the 24/7 advertising noise. To tell stories effectively, you must be able to write. So writing, commented Jennifer, remains a crucial – and often lacking – communication skill. Writers need to be able to take complex information and makes it a dialog.

When you’re telling a story, you’re evoking emotion – not selling. Have an organized, clear plot, keep it relatively short, and get to the point. Have key characters and a compelling message. One story that has successfully cut through the clutter, Jennifer said, is the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign. (A quick Google search confirmed this: Dos Equis sales have increased every year since the campaign’s 2006 start.)

How can stories work across the Internet or on 140-character social media platforms? David Blair, a digital marketing solutions executive at Google, noted that it depends on the audience. You must know your audience, and understand where they are most likely to engage with you. For example, teens don’t tweet, so if you want to reach them, use Facebook or YouTube, not Twitter. Tweak your message so that it’s relevant to your audience and then leverage social media to put your story out there so that audiences can discover it and engage with it how they want.

You’ll also want to ensure the story length and format are suited to the devices individuals are using – i.e., shorter for a mobile device, and longer for PC-based access. What this also means is that you can take one piece of content and spread it many different ways.

The Marketing Advantage Takeaway: Know your audience and the stories that resonate with them. Write stories to build your brand across the communication channels the audience prefers. For more tips on writing simply about complex topics, see 15 Tips for Creating Engaging Content.

What do you think? In the Comments section, tell us about the stories you’ve used to build your small business’ or professional service firm’s brand.

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe and get The Marketing Advantage by email. Just click on the Subscribe today! link in the blog’s right sidebar.

Posted in B2B marketing, Business, Marketing, Marketing Trends, Professional service firm marketing, small business | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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