Online Marketing

Podcasts – Digital Marketing’s New Best Friend

Although podcasts are not new, I’ve noticed a recent resurgence in their popularity that’s worth noting.

If you may recall, podcasts are digital media files that feature audio recordings, and originated in the early 2000’s, but it wasn’t until technology advanced and distribution methods expanded that podcasting exploded in popularity. In fact 2016 alone, there were an estimated 57 million monthly podcast listeners, a 75% increase since 2013.

Much like blogs, podcasts are used to deliver great content to your audience and have become a key tool in many company’s content marketing strategy. You may be thinking, “why use a podcast when I already have a blog?” Well, let me explain a few of the key advantages that podcasts offer:

Attract New Audiences: Some people prefer to consume their content through listening rather than reading text. By adding podcasts to your marketing mix, you are pulling in a new demographic and gaining more leads.

Multitasking Capabilities: One of the biggest advantages of podcasts is that they can be listened to on-the-go and while doing other tasks. This is great for your brand, as it means your message will reach your audience more frequently during the day.

Hidden Advertising: The casual, conversational nature of podcasts allows you to include a few “hidden” advertisements in the audio without it sounding too blatant. Advertising in your blog, on the other hand, tends to come across as too overtly promotional.

Brand Loyalty: Think about your favourite radio show you tune in to in the morning. Does it keep you hooked? Well, podcasts are very similar. When you offer engaging content, you’ll begin to create a following. And when you create a following, you’ll develop brand advocates for your business.

Stay tuned for my next blog, which will outline some tips you might want to consider when incorporating podcasts into your marketing mix.

The Missing “Link”

LinkedIn is one of my favourite social media platforms to use. Like many of you, I use it to conduct business development activities, discover potential new talent, and find out what some of my peers are working on. As a business owner and marketer, I also use it as a platform to target my potential clients and “tout” my expertise through the sharing of my company’s updates as well as industry-related articles.

LinkedIn has two distinct options: the LinkedIn profile page which most of us have to showcase our personal “resumes”, and the company page that is set up for your company.

While I know many business owners and marketers have an LI profile, many small businesses still do not have a company LI page. So what exactly is the difference between a profile page and a company page on LinkedIn? A LinkedIn profile is probably the most powerful tool you can use for business development as it allows you to highlight your professional experience, connect with your peers or potential clients, join industry-related groups, post your blogs or other articles, and share awards and updates.

I have seen many companies use the profile page as their company page, but LinkedIn has a distinct company page that provides your business with the opportunity to engage with followers with targeted and regular news and activities, share career opportunities, and expand your online brand presence.

If you are a business owner or marketer with a B2B business, an LI company page is a must! If you have a B2C business, it is still a good idea to have some presence on this platform, as this platform is great for SEO and for expanding your reach to influencers.

Here are some reasons I‘d recommend considering using an LI company page for your business:

1. Show How You are Unique

In the description on your company page, emphasize how you stand out from your competitors. You might want to include company news and share information about your company culture. This will help you reach potential customers and also new hires. Support the content with professional videos, or images to help you show how your company is different.

2. Improve SEO

We all hear about SEO, but did you know that Google and other search engines rank LinkedIn company pages and posts highly in the search engine results pages? Having the page and posting on it frequently will help you increase your SEO and increase site traffic.

3. Share Content

It makes sense that you need to write posts that your viewers want to see and share with others. The more you can engage your viewers, the more likely you are to expand your global reach and influence. You can also link your post back to your website for more information and to convert them into a warm business lead. It’s a good idea to create a media mix on this platform as well, so consider using different formats such as SlideShare business presentations, blog posts, infographics, webinars, podcasts and videos.

4. Measure Success

Like most social platforms, you can view analytical data about your company page to help you gain deeper insights into your page performance.

Having a LinkedIn company page will help you network and prospect to a targeted audience for quality sales leads, while establishing your business’ public image on a global scale as a reputable and trustworthy organization. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer!

Marketing Needs PR: Handling Crisis

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed more and more of a convergence between marketing and PR. The shift comes, I feel, as a result of the increasingly blurred lines between advertising and public relations as I mentioned in a previous blog, but also in part because marketing is so much more in the public eye than ever before as a result of personal brands.

As marketers today, it’s not uncommon for us to look at influencers, sponsor social content, and engage bloggers with opportunities to invest our marketing budgets. These approaches, one could argue, would typically have been part of a PR campaign, but with this paradigm shift many of us in marketing are taking note and making sure our marketing strategies include public relations.

The need for PR as part of your marketing can be highlighted in a situation of crisis. We see it almost daily: big brands make headlines after a bad social media post or a viral video, and because now bad social means bad PR and bad PR can mean a loss in customer and brand loyalty, these PR crises can become marketing nightmares.

As marketers, we need to have resources at hand to handle any scandal or branding nightmare. It’s important to have a plan in place should a crisis develop. In true PR fashion, but with a marketing twist, here are my tips for handling a branding crisis.

 Act quickly- but not recklessly

Once you’ve heard the bad news, it’s important to gather your team and address the situation. Find out what went wrong, and how you can fix it. If you speak first, you control the story, but it’s important that you have all the accurate information you need before you release any information to the public.

Take responsibility

While you might not feel like this was your fault, if your company was in any way responsible for this crisis, it’s important to take ownership. Shifting the blame around just makes consumers think you are dishonest and untrustworthy.

Create a solution

After you have received all the information needed and have accepted the fact that you need to apologize to the public for what has transpired, you need to come up with a solution. People want to know that you see where things went wrong, and you know how to fix it. After apologizing for your company’s wrongdoing, outline how you are going to ensure this never happens again. Once people know that you are fixing the problem, they will begin to move on.

 Rebuild

In the moment, it feels like this situation will completely ruin your business, but it’s important to remember that eventually, a new scandal comes along and people will forget about your organization’s indiscretion. In your effort to rebuild your brand, focus on creating positive buzz for your company, especially if it counteracts the original scandal.

I hope scandal never erupts in your business, but better to be prepared, which is why I advise clients to have a crisis PR plan in place as part of their marketing strategy. This will allow your business to act quickly and effectively, making sure your organization and brand comes out unscathed.

Predicting 2016 Marketing Trends

digital_marketing_predictionsAs we near the end of the year, customers often ask me for my predictions for the year ahead and the latest marketing trends: “What’s Hot?” and “What’s Next?”

In this post, I’ll look at what I see as the latest trends in marketing and specific questions for the smaller business owner looking to be a part of the trend in the coming year.

Here are my top 4 predictions for marketing trends in 2016:

  1. Content Marketing

70% of surveyed marketers say they are creating more content than they did a year ago.

Writing engaging content will become the central component of all marketing campaigns. Look for terms like “content optimization” to be popping up everywhere as marketers look to content as critical to their strategic success. You should strive to provide readers with information they likely haven’t seen elsewhere, information that’s shareable and keeps people invested from beginning to end. Do you have a professional content writer on staff? If not, where will you go to generate content for your marketing materials? The creation of consistent, high-quality content is a must for any successful content marketing plan.

  1. Big Data (including market and customer insight and predictive analytics)

65% of business executives from global brands say they embrace big data to stay competitive.

This is a term used to describe how companies can target the right message to the right person, at the right time for the right price. The message is delivered once consumer behaviours are captured and analyzed to determine what is the right message, who should it go to, when should it go to them and what is the right price point. Big Data often assumes your company has the appropriate IT hardware/software infrastructure in place and personnel to manage it, but for a smaller business, Big Data could simply mean tracking downloads, social media, e-blasts, customer calls, clicks on PPC advertising, and conducting some customer research.

  1. Mobile Marketing (Mobile advertising, site development and apps)

70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour.

According to Forrester Research, mobile is predicted to be the fastest growing channel among all digital channels, so make sure your campaigns are mobile or involve a mobile component. It goes without saying that your website needs to be mobile-friendly if you hope to engage an audience that is using this platform to engage with your brand. App downloads surpassed Facebook friends and Twitter followers for most brands in 2015, and they continue to do so in 2016. Expect for brands’ mobile apps to replace their social communities as the tag of choice on advertising, including TV. For the smaller brands, as mobile development has become more mainstream, think about whether there is an opportunity to develop an app to help interact or support your customers.

  1. Social Media Marketing

46% of web users look to social media when making a buying decision.

Most platforms are moving towards “buy” buttons which allow consumers (FB app or Twitter app) to buy a product instantly without leaving the app. The goal of most of the social media platforms are aimed at keeping consumers in their apps which is a good opportunity for marketers to advertise directly to their customers via PPC campaigns. If you are a smaller business, you might want to consider “owning” a specific social media channel that speaks to your targeted audience instead of spreading your budget across multiple platforms. Instead of being the small fish in the big pond, if you pool your financial resources you can be the big fish in a smaller pond.

 

I anticipate we’ll see these trends pop up and continue through 2016. Be prepared to make some changes to step up and beat your competition to the punch!

 

 

3 Things to Consider to Overcoming Privacy Concerns of Cookies

CWM TuesdayYou may have heard of the term “cookie” or come across it in your online experience. But what does it mean? What does it mean for consumers? And what does it mean for you as a business owner or manager?

Have you ever noticed when booking travel destinations online that the next day or time you are on the internet, ads or messages will appear from other travel sights? This is not a coincidence – this is as a result of cookies tracking your purchasing and surfing behaviours.

Cookies are therefore a key tool that we marketers can use to track customer behaviour and purchasing choices. They can help your business understand your customers so that you can provide them with tailored content specific to their behaviours.

From a marketing perspective then – cookies provide us with a pull-push approach, but the challenge is we need to make sure our campaigns are transparent and therefore we need to utilize cookies in a way that the customer does not consider invasive of their privacy.

I wanted to share with you a few tips that will help you overcome privacy concerns raised by cookies when planning your next online marketing campaign.

  1. Show transparency

The most important thing to consider when using cookies is that privacy is the biggest concern. Let your customers know when they visit the site that you are using cookies to provide them a tailored experience.

One popular approach is to provide a notification on your website. For example, a website will post a notification like this:

Company X sites use cookies and similar technologies. By using company X sites, you are agreeing to our revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our cookie policy.

A simple notification like this serves to provide both knowledge and consent. The choice is then on the consumer to continue using the service. Your customers will appreciate that you are being transparent with them, and that they are being given a choice.

  1. Value-added, permission-granted

Make sure you have a strong value proposition. Based on consumer behaviours in downloading Apps, if you can provide them with the tailor product/service they need, and the value is there for them, they will grant you permission to track them.

  1. Make it part of a larger strategy

For a cookie to be effective, it should be used as part of a larger marketing automation strategy. Just simply placing cookies on your site only tracks users on your site, and does not give you much “intel” on what your customers are doing and where they are going online. You’ll need to track them across many sites, to gain a richer understanding of who they are and how you can push them targeted content.

With all of the exciting automated marketing technology that is available to us today, we need to always put our customer first and ensure they are not feeling their privacy is being compromised.

Do the benefits of cookies overcome its potential danger to privacy? Do you have other online strategies for understanding your consumer behaviours?

Automated Marketing: It’s All About Targeting Your Customers

blogNot a day goes by that I don’t read an article about automated marketing,       re-targeting, or how large multinationals are re-tooling their marketing departments to make way for this new era in marketing. It appears that a new marketing game is afoot and we in the marketing field are all facing a shift in what will surely be the new norm.

At its core, automated marketing uses software to more effectively market your brand on multiple online channels like social media and websites and automate repetitive tasks. Whether through the use of cookies, profiling tools, database or sales platform integration, these automated systems provide the holy grail for marketers: specific details on your customers needs and wants, so you can specifically target them with advertising that addresses these needs. This type of marketing provides the customer with something you know they want.

Sounds amazing and it is, but it will require businesses to work more collaboratively with their sales and marketing teams, which is no easy feat! The more these two teams can be seamlessly integrated, the better able you are to develop strategies that receive increased ROI.

I know I consistently speak about the importance of strategy, but in automated marketing it becomes even more important because you are researching and mapping out your customers’ behaviours so you can target them with the appropriate type of advertising. Without a strategy of this type, your automated marketing will fail.

This is one of the greatest changes our field has seen in years, a chance for sales and marketing to really work together and focus our attention on what really matters—our customer.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll share a few insights on getting started in automated marketing.

Has your company created an automated marketing strategy? What are some of your challenges?   I look forward to an active discussion!

Digital Collateral – To Go Paperless or Not To Go Paperless?

Business concept of flat design smartphone with handPrint media has taken a backseat in the last decade to make room for digital. However, even in this digital age, print isn’t expected to go away any time soon. We’ve seen a large shift in businesses using available technology to transfer print collateral into more meaningful, interactive and engaging material.

Business materials that have traditionally been printed – like brochures, business cards, newsletters, flyers, sell sheets and catalogues (to name a few) – are all considered “Marketing Collateral”.

Business owners frequently ask me if they should go paperless with their marketing collateral and I see the benefits to both, though I’d say a large part depends on the size of your company, your strategy, and whether you’re B2B or B2C. Let’s examine the benefits of going paperless.

Benefits of Going Paperless

Excessive use of paper is bad for our planet, and can also be bad for business by draining your time and money. When thinking about going paperless, here are a couple things to consider.

  • Content Marketing is now A “Thing”: Digital collateral is ready to take center stage with marketing moving towards a more content-based approach. Creating digital collateral for your business that has original content and is easily shared means you’ve got original resources on hand!
  • Digital is Agile: Easily transferable and shareable, digital collateral and digital publications can be updated quickly and used to share any type of collateral online (including brochures, catalogues, magazines, direct mail, newsletters, reports, postcards, and other business documents).
  • Cost Efficient: In short, digital collateral means lower production costs, and increased reach (hello social media!).
  • Leverage Your Social Media Presence: A PDF posted on a static page of your website isn’t going to stir up excitement in a potential customer. Digital collateral on the other hand, provides you with original, user-friendly resources, which can also be shared through other platforms to help spread your mission and message.
  • It’s Green: You save paper when you use digital collateral. You can also avoid having boxes and boxes of unused and/or out-of-date materials laying around and cluttering up your workspace.

Should You Go Digital?

In my experience, business owners can get a little nervous if they don’t have tangible marketing collateral (because as a business owner you want people to believe and trust you as a real company, not just a virtual one). So why not have both, digital collateral and traditional print collateral?

Digital and print mix well together – it’s all about finding the right balance. Traditional marketing tools have a longer life span, however in some cases (like for smaller businesses) digital collateral, when done right, can save the day!

Refer back to your marketing strategy (if you don’t have one then have one created – it is imperative!) to see what’s appropriate for your business. One thing to remember when making your decision is “paperless” means less paper, not no paper. If you choose to go paperless, like any major change you should start small. Here are tips that can make the transition easier:

  • Keep business cards in the traditional printed format: Business cards aren’t going away any time soon! I believe printed business cards are a staple for all key employees, and are necessary for networking.
  • Create a digital version of your main piece of collateral: Be it a brochure, postcard, sell sheet, or flyer – it will be beneficial to you and your business to have a digital copy on hand that you can send off or post on the fly!
  • Start an E-Newsletter: this is a great way to communicate online with your customers and get the online conversation going!

What do you think about going paperless? What is your biggest concern with going paperless? Do you have a marketing strategy that speaks to having digital collateral?

Share your thoughts and stories with me in the comment section!