1. 5 Fun Facts To Up Your Super Bowl Game

    Super Bowl Facts

    Football lover or not, the Super Bowl caters to all. I’m still in the process of understanding the beloved American game, but what I don’t need any help with grasping is the commercials (inject humor and/or a dog and I’m sold), the food (I’m a huge fan of chips and dip and think that any bowl that contains these two items is a super bowl, indeed), and the amazing stats tied to the Super Bowl (staggering, really).

    With that being said, below is what I consider need-to-know stats and facts when it comes to the Super Bowl.

    Average audience of last year’s Super Bowl: 111.5 Million

    It’s one of the most-watched events in the world and draws more than 80 million viewers every year since 1990. Want to be seen and hopefully remembered? Maybe you should consider advertising – both traditional and/or digital around this great event. You don’t need a huge budget to be a part of it–try tapping into social media to piggyback on the action.

    The rate for a 30-second spot during this year’s game: 4.5 Million (Insert gasp here.)

    The cost for a spot in the very first Super Bowl was a steal at $42,000; then again it was 1967 and a chocolate bar cost about a nickel at that time . No wonder this year Newcastle is opting to share the wealth with brands like Match.com, Jockey, YP.com, Boost Mobile, Charisma Bedding, Beanitos, Rotel, Brawny, Sharper Image, Dixie, and Krave Jerky, just to name a few. Seriously. Newcastle’s 2015 TV spot showcases a whopping total of 37 brands. According to Newcastle, ”It’s the most exciting, most jam-packed, most fiscally responsible big game ad ever.” I have to agree with the Brown Ale on that statement.

    The Super Bowl will be broadcasted in 34 different languages.

    English being the only one I understand, but still, that’s the ability for Super Bowl advertising to reach potentially everyone from Albania to Thailand. Can I get a cheers/prost/kanpai/salud to that?

    Miss the Bowl? No worries – NBC and Tumblr’s got your back.

    NBC is planning on posting all Super Bowl TV commercials to Tumblr moments after they air. This is just another genius way of gaining additional ad exposure. That should soften the blow of spending $4.5 million on a :30 second spot. Right?

    44% of people who eat chicken wings during the Super Bowl prefer bleu cheese dressing to ranch.

    I am a part of that 44%. Nothing goes better with chicken wings than some bleu cheese and beer. Maybe it’ll be a Newcastle this year? Well done Newcastle. Now I’m seriously considering you as my beer of choice for the big game due to your entertaining ad. What can I say? I’m a sucker for good entertainment.

    Bonus Fact: Budweiser Always Wins

    This one is really a matter of opinion. Mine to be exact. But Budweiser is targeting all with not only this year’s Super Bowl commercial, but every commercial they make that involves a dog, a horse and a man. Come on – dogs, horses and pulling on my heartstrings in one commercial? SOLD! Here’s a sneak peek of the commercial they plan on airing this Sunday, February 1st.

  2. Should I Consider Email In My Marketing Plan?

    It’s been over four decades since email was first created. Through the years, it’s evolved into being the King within a marketer’s deck of cards. Before we get into the nitty gritty of why email is so essential to your marketing plan, it’s best to explain how it has impacted us from past to present.

    History of Email Marketing

    Email Marketing From Past To Present

    Presently, it’s evolved in being the top dog in ANY marketing plan. Here are a few reasons why:

    • You can create a database of those you want to connect with by collecting their email address and contact information. This, in turn, can be new clients, new relationships, and new business.
    • You can target the audience that you specifically want to reach. This is DIRECT EXPOSURE of your company and your brand, right in the inbox of your next customer. They open this email and see YOU, think of YOU, and possibly want to work with YOU.
    • You can send custom-designed e-blasts or newsletters that are appealing and tie directly into your brand. These blasts can vary anywhere from announcements, tips & tricks, marketing a new product, information about your business, or Holiday greetings to event information. This can be anything that you think your target audience would want to read about, find value from, and ultimately, learn about you.
    • Without an email marketing platform (we use emma), if you’re sending 100 emails all at once (or even 10 emails with 10 recipients each) your account will more than likely be blocked. This can look like a spamming effort to your provider. When you have an email marketing platform, you can send over 25,000 messages directly to your audiences’ inboxes.
    • Using an email marketing platform, you also have the ability to view who is opening your email, how many people (and who) clicked through your blast, if they are opening your message on a mobile device or desktop computer, and even what email platform is being used to view your message (i.e., Yahoo, Outlook, Mac Mail, Gmail, etc.). This helps you to determine what to deliver by being able to view the behavior of what your audience is interacting with.

    As you can see, Email Marketing provides an unlimited amount of resources, flexibility, and an overall front seat to your customers. So what’s holding you back? You’ve got the cards in your hands, now it’s just time to add the King.

  3. Conquer LinkedIn In Just 10 Minutes A Day

    You’re a businessperson. Your phone probably rings 10 times before 9:30 AM, and you can’t even bear to look at your e-mail lest another crisis arrive signed with a frantic, “Best.” I understand — you’ve got a full to-do list. The last thing you need to do is get involved with social media, even though your marketing team is practically begging you to (that’s one of the unanswered emails in your inbox, isn’t it?)

    Social media can seem overwhelming at times and it may constantly fall to the darkest corner of your priority list. But guess what? It’s not going away anytime soon. Social media sites such as LinkedIn have become the way to increase your personal and professional online presence, create new business opportunities, and stay up to date on the “need to know” in your industry. Don’t let yourself fall behind the pack simply because you think you don’t have time.

    In a good day, you have maybe 15 minutes to hop up from your desk to grab a snack, a glass of water, or take a brisk walk before your legs fall off from sitting for too long. The good news is it only takes up to 10 minutes a day to create a following on LinkedIn!

    Is This Really Necessary?

    Short answer: Yes.

    Why do you need to be on LinkedIn? Because your peers are. Because more and more every day, it’s where connections are being made, deals are being closed, and opportunities are arising. And its use is evolving all the time.

    LinkedIn is for Professionals

    LinkedIn isn’t like Twitter or Facebook. You don’t have to whip out a clever quip in 140 characters or less. LinkedIn posts don’t lose relevancy in the blink of an eye. You don’t have to impress your followers with photos of all the influential and awe-inspiring people you’re meeting on a daily basis. LinkedIn is a place filled with people just like you. Businesspeople and professionals log on to share information about their companies, their professional lives, their industry knowledge — basically all of the things that you’re already thinking of 24 hours a day. So why not?

    Let’s Get Efficient

    If you haven’t already, download the LinkedIn app on your smartphone or tablet. Go ahead, I’ll wait….

    You know those times when you’re standing in line at Chipotle, sitting on mute on a conference call, or stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate? These are all times when you are inevitably on your handheld device anyway, so log onto LinkedIn for 10 minutes and engage! Pulse (LinkedIn’s recommended news channel that automatically appears on your homepage) will do all the searching for you. It shows you articles that it knows you’ll be interested in.

    Tap an article, skim through it, and if you like it, share it! Let the author know that it was an insightful read or that it related to a problem that you just had the other day. Trust me, authors love your comments (No, really. We do. Wink.) and they’ll never be annoyed at hearing how their article impacted your day or even if you disagree with every point they’re making and think they’re full of bologna. The point is to start a conversation, even if you only have 10 minutes to do so.

    You Can Contribute Too

    Let’s kick it up just one more notch before you go back to all of your responsibilities.

    How to add a post on LinkedIn

    Got a blog post or article that you’ve written? LinkedIn has these handy “posts” where you can dust off that old content and repurpose it in a great way. Simply hover over the text box where you would normally post an update and click the pencil icon. Here, you can copy and paste content from a previous piece that you have published (just make sure to give credit and link back to the original source). Now, you’re not just commenting on others’ hard work, but adding to the pot as well!

    Now, businessmen and women just like you waiting in line for a delicious burrito can take 10 minutes, skim your article, and let you know what they thought about it. You may even make some new connections out of the deal.

    Just 10 Minutes a Day

    You probably read this article during today’s downtime, so I totally understand if you start tomorrow. But the next time you find yourself waiting around, pull up the LinkedIn app for just 10 minutes. Engage with content. Post your own! Add it into your daily routine. You’ll find that creating an active presence on LinkedIn isn’t nearly as time consuming (or pointless!) as you thought it was.

  4. The Top 5 2014 List Posts to Ring in the New Year

    It’s my favorite time of year: List time.

    Best of, worst of, top-selling, funniest, weirdest, most viral – I love those compact, summarizing, quick-hit catalogues of cool.

    When I was little, I read The Guinness Book of World Records cover to cover. It was my favorite Christmas gift. As an adult, I’m a grocery store, housework honey-do, holiday shopping, bucket list kind of person, so when you put anything on a list, I will probably read it. I especially can’t wait for those annual who-said-what, who-watched-who and what-sucked-most list posts because they’re a mind-blowing reminder of how fast 365 days actually pass by (the Olympics were a few months ago? Really?).

    List Posts = Efficiency

    How to Enjoy List Posts

    On social media and blogs, list posts are the most read social posts. There is so much content out there that searching for quick answers to your questions can be overwhelming. Because of this, simple, digestible bullet points are rewarded. When sifting through millions of Google results or clicking through to find out the 4 Steps to Creating a Marketing Strategy, people are more likely to take a look at this concise dose of facts than a vague title that…well…sounds loooong. Sad, but true. And when it comes to list posts, laziness is good. It is a promise of efficiency.

    So, my lazy and nostalgic friends, I give you my 5 Favorite “Best of 2014 Lists” List (listception!).

    1. The most popular “word” in 2014 was not a word at all; it was an emoji. A heart-shaped one, to be exact. This “word” barely edged out Ebola, which makes it a little less upsetting that our most popular word wasn’t even a word.
    2. The best advertisements of the year featured people acting “like a girl,” Bill Gates dumping ice water on his head, and Matthew McConaughey acting weird normal.
    3. Of course we were appalled every day on social media about something “important” so why not make an Outrage List? Take for instance, on July 2 we found out that Facebook was doing mood experiments on us without our knowledge and on October 21 we were abuzz by Renee Zellweger’s new eyes! Yes. We. Were.
    4. The Top Ten Viral Videos of the year include a couple of my favorites, such as Emma Stone’s lip sync battle with Jimmy Fallon and President Obama on “Between Two Ferns,” but how did I miss the video with the Lion King cast on the New York subway? Wow!
    5. 2014 was the year many people tried to “break the internet” and the Masters of Photoshop were very bored…I mean…busy.

    What lists are you reading to ring in the new year?

    P.S.: I still can’t believe Pharrell’s hat was 2014. It seems like that was so 2013!

  5. SEO: 2014 in Review and New Year’s Resolutions

    If there’s one constant in the world of SEO, it’s that there is no constant. Between algorithm updates, best-practice tips, and users modifying how they search for information, you can always count on something changing.

    This past year may not have brought as many huge upheavals in search engine optimization practices as in years before, but there were still some pretty significant SEO changes from 2014 that are worth noting.

    SEO Changes in 2014

    This list isn’t exhaustive by any means, but I’ve included some of the highlights and biggest SEO changes 2014 brought. I would say let’s put the past behind us and start prepping for 2015, but in order to effectively do that we need to know what changed this past year!

    search strategy

    • Guest blogging: Just say, “No.” That’s not to say you can’t ever utilize guest blogging, but make sure you’re following best practices. Over time it has become more of a spammy practice, and it’s not nearly as reputable or effective as it used to be. As Matt Cutts shares, “A trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains.”
    • Google’s 100% secure search: Have you seen that “Not Provided” keyword section in your Google Analytics, yet? You’ll be hard-pressed not to; more than 80% of Google traffic is lumped into this section now.
    • Google+ Authorship demise: Google Authorship, what was once a promoted and driving force in G+ land, went away. The authorships program originally lost author photos, and then Google did away with it altogether.
    • Mobile emphasis: Have you thought about responsive web design, yet? You should, if for no other reason than Google emphasizing its importance. When users are scrolling through SERPs on a smartphone, a new “mobile friendly” tag now appears next to websites that are responsive.
    • Panda 4.0: Beware poor content! If you want to have a site that’s user friendly, then make it user-friendly – this includes the copy on the site.
    • Pigeon: Local search got a refresh with this algorithm, which focuses on distance and location ranking parameters. It aims to deliver a relevant experience for those searching for local results.
    • Penguin 3.0: Designed to target sites that are spammy, this update was a major release for sites that had been penalized in the past. It provided the opportunity to submit a reconsideration request and maybe get on Google’s good side again.

    Make SEO Resolutions for 2015

    2015 SEO trends

    Now that we’re caught up to speed on some of the biggest SEO changes that happened this year, let’s start prepping for 2015.

    • Remember the intent of the searcher: Thanks to the Hummingbird algorithm, phrases and keywords in SEO don’t hold as much weight. Google looks at actual search intent. When crafting content, bear in mind that your audience probably isn’t simply looking for “flowers” around Valentine’s Day. They’re most likely searching for results using phrases like: “Valentine’s Day bouquets,” “fast delivery for Valentine’s flowers,” “Valentine’s Day flower specials,” etc…
    • Check your site’s structure: Think of a house. Even if all the cosmetics are in place and there’s new paint on the walls, if the structure is rotting and the foundation has cracks in it, at some point you’re going to have major issues. The same remains true with a site’s URL and coding structure. Take the time to make sure the coding is clean and the URL structure is streamlined and organized.
    • Quality, not quantity: It doesn’t matter if you have 1,000 back links if only 5 of them are reputable, trust-worthy, and viewed as an authority in your field and industry. However, if you only have 250 back links and 200 of them are authoritative and trust-worthy, your site is much better off.
    • Responsive Design: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – having a responsive website is becoming more and more important. You have to think about the entire user experience now, not just how a site looks and performs on a desktop. Google has already penalized sites that provide a bad mobile experience.

    That’s the basic game plan for 2015, though there’s much more that can be done and should be done to help ensure your site is at the top of its game (and SERPs) for the New Year.

  6. The Social Snowball Effect: Why No One Sees Your Facebook Posts

    You may be thinking to yourself, “Why doesn’t anyone care about the content I’m posting to my company Facebook page? I’m not getting any likes. No comments. No one is sharing my stories. What are all of my fans doing out there? Are they ignoring me?”

    Whoa, there. Back up a few steps. Facebook isn’t kicking you to the curb. It’s much more likely that you’re seeing the results of the social media site’s many algorithms that affect what users see in their news feeds.

    Facebook carefully filters the content displayed in each user’s newsfeed – both crafted to its standards and with your fans’ interests and behaviors in mind. But before you angrily close out of this window declaring Facebook the enemy, know that there are ways to increase engagement on your business’ Facebook page, get it in front of more eyes, and create content that your followers want to see.

    Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm

    The Facebook algorithm’s methodology is right alongside the many search engine optimization updates you’ve been hearing about. It’s developed to show users content that they actually want to see. Pay attention to the old sales adage: “Everyone likes to buy, no one likes to be sold.” Users know the difference between being sold to and wanting to purchase and engage because they’re viewing content that is crafted to help or entertain them.

    No one likes to be sold to!

    Directly from Facebook’s FAQs:

    “The stories that show in your News Feed are influenced by your connections and activity on Facebook. This helps you to see more stories that interest you from friends you interact with the most. The number of comments and likes a post receives and what kind of story it is (ex: photo, video, status update) can also make it more likely to appear in your News Feed.”

    Facebook’s algorithm rewards well-performing posts that include dynamic content (photos, videos, articles, links). As more people interact with your post, your reach will continue to grow – just like a snowball!

    The bottom line: Facebook wants you to create good content that is useful to your followers.

    Increase Your Reach Organically

    There are a few things you can do to get your Facebook posts in front of more eyes before pulling out your wallet.

    1. Remind your employees to “Like” your business page.
    2. Encourage employees to engage with content that is posted. Incentivize Likes, shares, and comments with gift cards and random acts of appreciation. The more engagement a post receives, the more likely it is to appear within the feeds of your followers’ Facebook friends.
    3. Take a look at the types of content you are posting. Facebook incentivizes posts with photos, videos, articles, and links. It’s not so keen on text posts or posts that are overly sales-oriented. Just remember: people will want to share your content if you make it shareable.
    4. Engage with your existing followers. Create conversations, ask questions, and respond to comments, reviews, and messages.

    Use Paid Facebook Advertising

    Using paid ads on Facebook is a great way to give your follower count a little boost and increase post engagement at the same time. Remember to properly target your ads — take a look at your existing demographic and target similar people. They are more likely to be interested in what you have to say and will become highly engaged followers who are more likely to see your posts on a regular basis.

    Paid advertising does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. Every month or so, dedicate some extra money to a special campaign you’re running. Or test different types of content to see what performs better with your target demographic. Paid ads are a great way to gain insight on what is working and what you should avoid.

    Facebook Isn’t the Enemy

    Increasing your Facebook engagement is a process that takes time to perfect. Don’t expect to see immense change overnight. You may see small growth at first, but like a snowball rolling down a hill, this growth will only continue to expand over time as long as you continue to post compelling content & encourage engagement with your followers.

    Above all else, create content that your followers want to Like, share, and comment on. Engage them in conversations, make them laugh, inspire them. And sometimes, sneak in a sale, announce a great deal, or ask for a newsletter signup.

    Facebook’s algorithm isn’t the enemy; it’s a tool to create a better experience for your followers!

  7. Do Keywords Really Matter?

    SEO Blogging 101 Series: Part One

    Writing a blog post may be pretty straight-forward, but making it SEO friendly is another story entirely. If you have a great topic that you think your audience will be interested in, then it’s a good idea to go ahead and write it!

    However, it’s also important to make sure that as many users as possible see the content you took the effort to craft. That’s why using an SEO strategy and different content marketing tactics is so important, and why we’ll be exploring the different tactics and strategies that should be applied throughout this series.

    What Role Do Keywords Play?

    To begin with, SEO is not just about the keyword in a topic.  Since Google periodically makes updates to its algorithms that changes how it crawls, indexes, and determines what should appear on search engine result pages (SERPs), knowing how to make each blog post count is important. However, focusing only on a keyword or keyword count won’t get you the ROI you’re looking for.

    Why? Because Google – and even more importantly your audience – doesn’t consider just one specific word when they’re trying to find an answer to something. SEO is an all-encompassing strategy now and takes many factors into consideration. Yes, engaging content is still a driving force and factor, but long-gone are the days of keyword stuffing to get a website to rank as the number one search result. The emphasis now is quality – not quantity.

    HubSpot shares the following,

    “It’s not about choosing the right words anymore — it’s about providing context. Google doesn’t want to return results anymore; it wants to return answers. So, if you’re not doing a good job of answering your prospective customers’ questions, it doesn’t matter what keywords you choose — your SEO will suffer.”

    So what does this mean when it comes to your blog content? Keywords still matter, but they shouldn’t be the focus. In Part One of our SEO Blogging 101 Series, we’ll cover the role keywords play and why they’re still important to consider, but shouldn’t be the sole focus behind online and digital content.

    What’s Your Topic?

    Do you know what you’re writing about? SEO experts have different schools of thought on how valuable a keyword is and what the optimization percentage should be – or if there should be an optimization percentage at all. There is one new update that most SEO connoisseurs agree on: content should be developed with the intent of the searcher in mind.

    I recommend that writers try to optimize the content with a percentage of 1.5% for the keyword in mind, using the following formula:

    SEO Keyword Optimization Formula

    The reason for this is because at the end of the day, there’s no hard and fast rule for how often a keyword should be included in content. Writing with a keyword in mind, though, helps keep the main topic and intent of the searcher as the focus.

    This way the blog post will be included in search results for not just the individual keyword, but also long-tail queries such as: “How can digital marketing for restaurants help me get more customers?” or “What is social media marketing?”

    Remember to keep your writing, keyword phrases, and terminology natural as well. SEO has evolved from focusing on ranking and singular keywords to the overall intent of the searcher and user experience. So yes – write with the keyword “digital marketing” or “seafood for sale” in mind. But also write for what your audience wants to learn and know about. Is your audience really looking for seafood for sale, or are they trying to find a recipe that has seafood in it?

    Keywords have a role and a place, but be careful not to focus so much on one word or phrase that you completely miss the point of posting content in the first place: to engage with your audience. 

  8. ‘Tis the Season for Online Shopping

    internet safety

    Ho-ho-holiday Shopping at Your Fingertips

    If there’s one thing I’m very good at, it’s maneuvering around the world wide web and shopping to my heart’s content. In one hour, I can be done with holiday shopping sans the hassle of dealing with (road and pedestrian) traffic, all from the comfort of my own house. Even better, now thanks to responsive web design, I can pretty much shop from my cell phone or tablet without having to break out the Big Boy (my affectionate name for my MacBook Air). You bet this crazy holiday season will find me online shopping for everything, and I’m not the only one…

    According to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, the average shopper plans to do 44% of their holiday shopping online this season. This is the most in the survey’s history. If they aren’t shopping online, you can bet that a good amount of them are researching products online first, and then going to their brick and mortar store to make the final purchase.

    As you may know, mobile has seen a huge growth in use and scope and majority of mobile owners plan to use their device for shopping and researching items and prices this holiday season. Google has noticed this growth in mobile use and recently rolled out a change that puts an emphasis on responsive web design in search results for mobile users. When consumers turn to their hand-held devices for shopping, sites that are mobile-friendly will be indicated by a “mobile-friendly” notation. Meaning that if your site isn’t made for mobile use in addition to desktop/laptop and tablet, then there is a chance that you can be losing out on some of that holiday traffic. For those of you that still do not have a easy-to-use mobile friendly site, take note that one-quarter of shoppers say it is an important factor in their decision to shop with a retailer.

    According to the 2014 eHoliday study, retailers have been investing in mobile-optimized websites, cross-selling, re-marketing, paid search and reviews. All this is being done as the holiday season contributes to retailers’ yearly revenue by – at the most  – 24% (according to the MailChimp 2014 Holiday survey).

    With all of this being said, it is of the upmost importance that your website is secure and optimized for online transactions. Below are some tips for ensuring that your website and customers are protected when shopping on your site.

    Stay Secure and Warm with an SSL

    By implementing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) authentication for web and data, it helps protect you and your customers from keeping their information vulnerable. SSL certificates are a must for transactions and ensures that no one can intercept credit card information. Note that before your eCommerce site can accept credit/debit card transactions, they must pass PCI compliance testing and having an SSL is one part of the puzzle.

    Layer, Layer, Layer.

    Bundle up with authentication and security layers.  Include firewalls, as these stop attackers before they can breach a network and access information.

    Forget your password or username when logging into a frequently visited site? It happens. In order to reset that password or have a username sent to a user, you should make sure that your website has authentication layers set up. These authentication layers consists of CAPTCHAs and security questions that need to be answered before you provide lost or updated information.

    When it comes time for checkout on your site, utilize an address and card verification system. This helps in reducing fraudulent charges and provides peace of mind to your customers by showcasing that their information is safe and “locked behind closed doors.”

    Sensitive Data is a Don’t!

    According to Chris Pogue, Director of Digital Forensics and Incident Response at Trustwave,  there is no reason to store customers’ records, especially credit card numbers, expiration dates and CVV codes. This is also forbidden by the PCI.

    It is Pogue’s recommendation that you only store a minimal amount of data, just enough for charge-backs and refunds as a breach outweighs the convenience customers experience at checkout.

    Strong Passwords are a MUST.

    When it comes time for site users to create a password, require a minimum use of symbols, numbers and at least one uppercase letter. Complex passwords make it harder to gain access to an account and add to the security of a user’s account.

    As Always, Keep Your Eye On The Prize {AKA Your Website}

    Frequently monitor your site for needed website updates and update everything when a new version is released. This is speaking to everything from your web server and software to any third-party plugin you are utilizing. These updates can help protect against security breaches, design defaults, and other technical issues. Before you make any of these updates though, please be sure you make a backup of your website. If you are unsure of how to do so, reach out to whoever assisted you in the creation of your website as they should be able to help.

     

  9. Marketing: Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted

    Do you measure the marketing ROI of having a presentable office lobby? Do you count how many leads you captured from spending an hour of your time with a community connector who invited you to have a cup of coffee? Of course you don’t. You can’t.

    Right vs. ROI

    You do these things not because they generate short-term financial gains, but because you know instinctively that they will pay unseen future dividends. And they’re the right thing to do. I think Albert Einstein put it best when he said that “not everything that counts can be counted.”

    Albert Einstein Quote | Not everything that counts can be counted

    So why do marketers insist on demanding an immediate return on a blog post or Facebook spend? Or on a Google Adwords campaign?  Or use a lack of same-day purchase metrics as an excuse to abandon social media efforts? As a reminder, human beings don’t make purchases in lock-step fashion like zombies, they form relationships with brands over time.

    As an example, let me explain how this plays out in our agency. Over the past several weeks, we have brought on a number of new clients. Many of these client “wins” have come to fruition through a variety of means. When I stop to look back and think about how they came to a point where they signed an agreement with us, each client took a slightly different path. Here are a couple of examples:

    • A device manufacturer first learned of our firm over five years ago through a friend of a friend who struck up a relationship, had lunch a few times, and ultimately found a way to work together.
    • A commercial developer was referred to us through a colleague of the firm who had never worked with us directly but got to know the firm through some joint volunteer work through a chamber of commerce over nearly a decade.
    • A professional services firm engaged us in an interesting piece of work after getting to know our team through joint service in a civic organization.
    • A construction firm signed on with us after reading a piece of material we had written and distributing it to his colleagues.  We first connected on Facebook.

    Connecting The Dots in Reverse

    I wish I was smart enough to be able to go back in time and know how all of these activities that we undertook (months and years ago) were going to add up to sales in October of 2014, but I’m not.  There’s no crystal ball–not then and not now.  All I can tell you for sure is that all of these prospects took different paths and lengths of time to become our customers, being gently impacted by our marketing efforts along the way.  Steve Jobs said it best when he explained in his now-famous commencement address that “you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

    Steve Jobs Quote | Connecting the Dots

    I can tell you, however, that there were several common threads in these transactions:

    • They became aware of our firm in some way
    • They used our website to perform initial research on our firm and compare us to other agencies
    • They visited our office to meet us and see our facility
    • They received marketing collateral from us and distributed it internally
    • They were given (and presumably read) thought leadership material that we had published in print and online
    • They took their time before writing us a check

    Our business and your business are being evaluated all of the time by the marketplace.  Each customer take his or her own course to get to the point where the check is signed, but they encounter your marketing materials (investments you have made) all along the way. As they move from stranger to check-writer, they are exposed to:

    • your website
    • your blog posts
    • your social media updates
    • your business card
    • your printed collateral
    • your logo

    Having all of these things in order is the right thing to do. You can’t isolate any one of these activities and determine the individual dividends it pays. It’s just like you can’t measure the potential value of an event you choose to attend or a sales inquiry you make with a prospect.

    Does all of this mean that you should not measure the performance of your marketing activities? Of course not. It just means that you should look at the intangibles that won’t show up in the metrics on your spreadsheet.

    I will never be able to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of the marketing materials we produce. Or tell you what would have happened if we never invested in a content marketing strategy that includes blog posts, books, and white papers. I can just tell you that it works and you should do it.

    The reason this is so important is because too many marketers are searching for measurable returns on digital marketing activities that they will never be able to demonstrate. In some cases, they end up not doing the right thing because the short term return can’t be immediately seen.

    Whether it’s offline or online, where you choose to spend your marketing dollars should be a matter of art as well as science. Measure, certainly, but don’t let measurement keep you from doing the right thing. I would encourage you to follow Jobs’ follow-on advice: trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future.

  10. Holiday Email Marketing Know How

    ‘Tis a sad day to admit when it’s no longer PSL season (Pumpkin Spice Latte) at Starbucks. Fear not though, as your business approaches the holidays. Instead, prepare your taste buds for a Peppermint Mocha (extra peppermint to feel uber wintery) and take advantage of this occasion, email marketing style.

    Email Marketing

    Facts on Holiday Email Marketing

    First step: GET YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW.

    Ask yourselves these questions:

    • What are your goals for the end of the year?
    • What value can you offer your customer base during this season?
    • What seasonal strategies or holiday promotions could you implement to meet your objectives and serve your customers’ needs?

    It is important to first be aware of  your objectives and then understand who you can target to achieve those goals.

    Will your audience be an existing customer, a new customer, or both? Next, develop a strategy on when and how often you want to reach out to this audience and how email can create valuable touch points.

    If your goals don’t translate directly into a viable email campaign, consider creative ways to engage your customer base that may be supported by action-driving email. Some ideas could include hosting a holiday event, contest, or promoting new things happening in the New Year for your company.

    Second step: READY… AIM… FIRE!

    Once you’ve developed your campaign concept, start compiling a draft of what you want your customer base to know and how they can reach you. Keep it simple and to the point. Email marketing is most effective when it’s brief, informative, and creatively designed. Secondly, use your email program (we love Emma) to create an audience group specific to this campaign. For example, if your campaign is geared toward prospects (rather than existing clients) hitting “SEND ALL” wouldn’t target the particular group you want to reach.

    Third step: SUBJECTS… THEY AREN’T JUST FOR SCHOOL.

    There are creative ways in which you can effectively target your audience to open your e-blast. I always compare an email subject as if it were a title of a book.

    Chances are, if a title of a book read “Book” or “This Is A Good Book,” you probably wouldn’t open it— right? Your subject line is the same thing, it’s the title of  your email.

    Make it count. Don’t be afraid to take as much time as you need to create something compelling and worthy to read.

    Fourth step: SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED.

    Before sending your e-blast, be sure to get an extra pair of eyes on your content. The testing phase for email marketing is one of the most important steps in building your campaign. Ensure that no matter where your audience is, or what device they’re viewing your email on, they can read it… and take action. Check your email on multiple devices and platforms. Is your email mobile friendly? Do your images display on all platforms? It’s worth the extra effort to confirm your email is viewed the way you intended.

    Once testing is complete, schedule a sending date and time the e-blast(s). If you don’t already know, take time to research what day of the week and time tends to work best for your audience group – this ensures your campaign achieves the highest possible open rate. Once you’ve established a time, you’re set to sit back, observe your analytics and enjoy your holiday peppermint mocha!