Author: Adam Torkildson

5 Steps CMOs Can Take for Successful Reputation Management

Did you know that it only takes seven seconds for someone to generate a first impression about a person or organization? They’ll quickly analyze your appearance, tone, style, and other factors to form a skewed idea of your reputation. Sometimes they’re spot on, and other times they’re missing much of the story. 

As a chief marketing officer (CMO), know the reputation your company will develop through that seven-second first impression. It often dictates the potential success or failure of your organization, and your job is to protect it at all costs. There are a few key things you can do to manage your reputation and avoid making a bad impression on customers and clients. 

1. Protect Consumer Privacy 

Nothing damages your reputation more thoroughly than a privacy breach. Customers trust you to keep their information safe, and when online accounts are hacked and information is stolen, they’ll blame you for your lack of security, whether it’s a justified claim or not. 

According to a survey from Ponemon Institute, the majority of respondents believe that a data breach is worse than a chief executive scandal. Nearly 50 percent said a breach in privacy would negatively impact their impression of a brand. 

If you want to escape the negative light cast by a security breach, take steps now to protect your organization online. Start with your own virtual private network (VPN). The best VPN for your company will protect all of your data on the web by severely limiting access from unauthorized users. A VPN greatly reduces your likelihood of being hacked, and it’s a must-have at the corporate level. 

Other security steps include changing passwords often, using complicated passwords, updating software regularly, using encrypted email, setting up basic security measures, backing up to secure networks, securing devices, and other security items as advised by experts

Training employees on privacy practices is also an essential step to securing consumer information. One of the leading causes of security breaches is employees making mistakes or intentionally releasing information, so keep your employees informed to protect your business. 

2. Be a Thought Leader 

Thought leadership has the power to transform your brand if done properly. This isn’t a process that happens overnight. Rather, it’s a slow and steady building of articles, videos, comments, and conversations that establish your company as a trusted leader in a specific industry. 

Building thought leadership begins with identifying an audience that can benefit from your expertise and catering your content to that group. Speak in a voice that your audience will understand, using jargon and tone that establishes your expertise, but that recognizes you’re teaching people who want to learn more. 

“Consistency is key here,” says Mike Clum, founder of Clum Creative, a video production agency. “You want consumers to remember you, which will be difficult if you’re constantly switching tones or leaving your iconic brand out of the mix. This consistency can be used across a variety of mediums, including blogs, social media, videos, and graphics.”

As you share insights, focus more on providing value to your customers rather than on promoting your company. Not only are you more likely to reach your audience, but you’ll also publish content on more high-profile sites. Nearly 80 percent of editors say that one of the biggest problems they see with submitted content is over-promotion. You’ll get much further with valuable content than you will with shameless plugs for your services.   

3. Respect Your Followers 

It can take a lifetime to build up a great reputation and only seconds to destroy it. This is particularly true today, thanks to the pervasive nature of social media and online reviews. It doesn’t take long for word of your bad reputation to spread online.

Disgruntled consumers don’t have to be the end of your good reputation, however. You can mitigate these problems by creating a culture of respect for your followers. When you’ve established yourself as a courteous, influential thought leader, consumers often won’t believe the negative things that disgruntled consumers share. 

Respecting your followers is more of an attitude than a single action. It involves a culture of timely responses, respectful and professional comments, a strong tone, joined conversations, no overselling, and acknowledgement of positive comments. Nurture your brand and your followers, and they’ll repay you with loyalty and respect in kind.  

4. Google Your Company 

It’s hard to know the changes you need to make to your reputation if you don’t know what your reputation is. To assess how consumers perceive you, do a thorough Google search of your company. 

Start with popular review sites like Google or Yelp, and read the reviews. Although positive evaluations can reinforce what you’re doing well, the negative reviews will offer the best insights regarding potential improvements.

Keep in mind that negative reviews often stem from experiences that aren’t written. For example, someone complaining about the prices or quality of products might be particularly upset because they had a bad customer service experience at the time, even though that’s not something they mentioned in their review. Use context clues to read between the lines and get a wholistic picture of a consumer’s experience.  

Check social media as well. Monitor every mention of your brand on social media to learn what people are saying about your company and the improvements you must make.  

5. Own Up to and Learn From Mistakes

You will make mistakes; it’s part of the job. Nobody really expects you to be perfect, even your pickiest customers. Good reputation management involves preventing mistakes as much as possible, but it’s more about managing the mistakes when they happen. 

Own up to mistakes when they occur. Don’t try to cover it up or deny that it happened—consumers are smart, and they don’t like to be treated otherwise. Admit it, apologize, and then give a detailed plan for how you’re going to fix the problem and avoid this same mistake in the future. 

After that, don’t repeat the error. Learn as many lessons as possible from that experience, and use it to make your company better. CMOs who listen to and apply feedback set their company up for success nine times out of ten. 

Reputation management is a mindset. It’s an unwritten part of your job description, and when done well, it’s the gateway to success in any avenue you choose. 

You may also be interested in reading: What is a Reputation Management System & Do You Need One?

8 Ways CMOs Should Engage Millennials on Social Media

As a marketer, you’ve likely noticed the shift across the industry when it comes to targeted audiences. Millennials are now the primary group that everybody talks about and extensively analyzes on social media.

The reason for this is simple. Within the last few years, there has been a massive wealth transfer between baby boomers and their Gen X and millennial offspring. Now millennials wield a larger spending power than any other generation.

Here are 8 ways you can better reach millennials with social media:

1. Prioritize Visual Content

Millennials are visual learners. They grew up interacting with screen-based technology like television sets, video game consoles, and computers. As a result, they tend to respond best to content that stimulates their eyes. Marketers who want to attract their attention will need to do so with a strong aesthetic design.

Make sure that the images you post are always of the highest quality possible. Reach out to talented photographers and artists for potential collaborations. Also, don’t skimp on videos. It’s predicted that by 2019 about 80 percent of all internet content will be video.

2. Stay Relevant

On average, millennials spend a little over six hours each week on social media. They often use this time to catch up on the latest news, trends, and discussions. “Given the speed that the internet moves and evolves, content that seems old or outdated has a greater chance of being ignored,” says Jonathan Foley, the founder of the popular Instagram pages @Positivity, @Deep, and @Societyfeelings.

“You should constantly monitor social media to keep an eye on what’s trending. If you see a great opportunity to jump into the public conversation – for instance, if there’s a hashtag that meshes well with your brand – then go ahead.”

Exercise a little caution, and do some research first, though. It’s best to avoid highly controversial and divisive topics, or else you might risk alienating your audience.

3. Invite Participation

Millennials are active internet users. Sitting back and passively consuming content gets boring for many of them. They would rather interact with others and contribute their own thoughts and creations.

There are many ways to tap into this inclination. You could ask your viewers questions, or tell them to tag their friends in the comments. Furthermore, you could encourage them to make user-generated content and then feature it on your page. Another good way to invite participation is by announcing a new product without many details. An example is the announcement of Microsoft Office 2019. Many users on Twitter, specifically millennials, made memes of what this product could look like driving product awareness.

4. Don’t Waste Time

There are numerous claims about millennials’ short attention span. Most of them are drawn from dubious research or based on overly negative, unfounded biases. The truth is that millennials are no worse than any other generation in this area. Instead, the real problem is that a large chunk of social media marketing is poorly suited for the medium.

Social media is used more in short bursts than extended periods. This means that users judge content based on quick initial impressions. People will watch a longer video, for example, if the introduction is compelling enough; however, they’ll quickly tune it out if it spins its wheels for too long.

So, in other words, make an effort to get to the point faster.

5. Change Your Influencer Approach

For a while, it seemed as if influencers held the ultimate key to marketing to millennials. Now, perceptions are shifting. Millennials are starting to trust influencers less these days, and the reason is due to a lack of transparency.

Too many brands and influencers are failing to disclose their partnerships. As a consequence, it has shaken their followers’ confidence in their honesty and integrity. While many still might hesitate in sharing this information, being upfront is significantly less damaging than getting caught and called out.

6. Humanize Your Brand

A lot of marketers lose sight of the “social” part of social networks. The main reason so many millennials flock to these platforms is that they wish to talk to other real people. They don’t want their experience interrupted by obvious marketing from faceless businesses.

This is why some brands have found success in adopting more organic, genuine personalities online. Just take a look at the MoonPie account on Twitter. Its unique mixture of self-deprecation and weird humor has won it many followers on Twitter.

7. Support a Good Cause

Generations are reflections of the cultural environments in which they grew up. It’s for this reason that millennials are more socially conscious than their predecessors. Not only do they expect individuals to contribute to society, but brands are expected to as well.

About 75 percent of millennials say they want businesses to give back to their communities and demonstrate social responsibility. That involves working with charities, organizing awareness events, speaking out about important issues, fighting inequality, and helping the disadvantaged.

8. Treat Them Like Adults

Despite how some use the word, millennial is not a catch-all for young people. It specifically refers to adults currently between the ages of 22 and 37. Anybody who still thinks of them as teenagers really needs to update their mental picture.

Address them like you would any adult. Don’t speak in a condescending tone or treat them like they’re still children. Give them the respect that they deserve.

Make sure to also read: 3 Tips To Reach More Millennials With Your Social Media Marketing

How CMOs Can Leverage Video Marketing

In the mid 2000s, the emergence of online video transformed how marketers reached their target audience. In a time where both video production technology and video streaming technology were rapidly evolving, corporations and their CMOs had to quickly adapt their understanding and approach to video marketing.

Gone are the days of creating one big television commercial a year and running it on broadcast, only to do it again the next year. Today’s CMO must be nimble and quick in creating strategies around and also executing on the production of marketing videos.

Here are four things CMOs should consider when looking to win with video marketing:

In-House Video vs. Outsourced

If a marketing department has multichannel video needs, supports sales with video content, and creates video for internal communications, the demand for video can become very high. And with expanding needs, comes ever-increasing costs.

It’s critical to identify the type of videos that can be done internally and those that need the help of an outside video production company. In general, the critical assets (e.g., top of the funnel Facebook ads, television commercials, and brand videos) should be outsourced to a professional agency.

Consistent needs — Instagram stories, Facebook Live, ecommerce product videos, day-to-day Facebook video content, smaller product launches, etc. — can all be done in-house.

When thinking about executing his production, Adam Boalt, CEO of Passport Renewal said, “It’s clear when you need to outsource and when it’s easily done in-house. I found it’s worth the investment to outsource things like our main company explainer video, but things like our product demos are fine [when done] internally.”

Staffing your internal video team really depends on the video demand internally and the allocated budget. On the small side, you can hire a one-man band who can shoot, edit, write, do motion graphics, and produce the final product. However, more realistically you’ll want to plan for staffing a producer/director, a writer, and an editor with motion graphics skills.

Non-Product Branded YouTube Channel

Video content can be a form of advertising and customer acquisition, and if done right, can be a profit center within itself, particularly when it comes to YouTube marketing. Consider creating a YouTube channel in your niche to educate and entertain your audience. Build it outside of your brand, and through investment and talent, build a following within that community.

If your product serves a market that has a content audience on YouTube, then you’ll have an easier time building a following. If there is little to no traffic on YouTube surrounding the types of products you offer, you’ll need to provide more cross-channel promotion.

In addition to a production team, you’ll need:

  1. A host with an engaging personality.
  2. A writer who is an expert in the niche.
  3. A digital marketer.

Here are a few examples of non-product branded channels around product niches that could spark some inspiration:

  • LaurDIY: A channel on crafts with an engaging host who gives tips and insights on cool DIYs for a primarily female, teen audience.
  • Teddy Baldassarre: A channel on watches and watch reviews that discusses trends and topics in the watch community.
  • Pocket Full of Primary: A channel for teachers by a teacher that shows the day in the life of a teacher, gives best practices tips, and talks about current issues.

These are great examples of channels that could be highly leveraged to drive audience awareness to your products. The channel can be costly, but it can be an asset you own with an audience that is loyal and engaged.

Improve Already Successful Funnels

Video doesn’t always have to be a standalone marketing effort that is independently providing ROI, often it’s a way to augment channels that are already working. Every CMO has one or a handful of successful platforms that are keeping the business alive. Ideally, each platform and marketing channel should have its own established customer acquisition cost. Identify those and integrate video into all parts of those successful funnels.

PPC: If paid search is a proven tactic for you, integrate videos into your landing pages. Test which work and which don’t, and try to drive down your acquisition cost through video.

Facebook: If Facebook ads are driving awareness and conversions, test video ads vs. photo ads in a one-on-one test.

Traditional sales: If your marketing department is primarily supporting your sales organization, and you acquire customers primarily through sales, then identify ways to integrate video into your sales channels.

A/B Test Creative

When creating videos, brands often create just one and hope that the creative approach they chose is going to work. When building out individual videos, create two or three versions of them allowing you to A/B test different intros and creative approaches. Doing this will not add too much budget to the project, either.

This is particularly important for advertising uses on paid search landing pages, YouTube pre-roll, Instagram or Facebook ads. These use-cases allow you to quickly test what’s working and what’s not. If you only make videos with one creative approach, you’ll never be able to understand what creative resonates and what doesn’t.

Integrate these things and you’ll be better set to see success in video marketing moving forward.

How Marketers Can Be Successful with Blockchain Technology

We’ve so often heard about how new tech disrupts industries that it has become cliché. Whether it’s IoT, smart glasses, or even AI, there’s always this constant conversation about how new and innovative tech is going to change things. With blockchain, though, it’s more than just hot air. It’s the truth.

From healthcare to insurance, blockchain has the potential to impact an array of industries. Aiming to solve problems including remittance, intermediaries, and even proof of ownership, there’s a lot of applications blockchain can bring about. However, it’s the recent innovations in marketing and advertising that have been at the forefront. This has been fascinating both in how marketing practices have changed and how new technology has played a role.

Here’s why:

The ICO Hype

One of the biggest stories to come out of blockchain last year was the explosion of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). If you’re not familiar, ICOs, are public sales of a coin or token as a means of raising funds for a project. Similar to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, ICOs became massively popular, with companies receiving millions. However, this wasn’t without its hiccups, which marketing companies had to learn to combat.

According to Bitcoin.com, 46 percent of ICOs failed last year. While some companies were well-intentioned with their token sale, the lack of regulation led to an immense amount of fraud. As a result, companies like Facebook and Instagram banned them from advertising And MailChimp straight up banned any blockchain or cryptocurrency projects from using their service. As these traditional channels were unavailable, blockchain marketers had to get creative.

For marketers to have a successful token sale meant building trust with their audience. For example, companies like Deedcoin were able to build an audience by compiling solid press, which lent them authority from trusted sources. Furthermore, using the chat messaging app Telegram enabled people to communicate with the founders and team members in real time, which gave these leaders an opportunity to showcase that they know their stuff. A big lesson for marketers here is how to be scrappy and resourceful — how to rely on grassroots and organic efforts.

Hedging Bets (On Making Humanity Better)

Many in the tech world believe that blockchain could potentially change the world for good. This altruistic approach was seen early on with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin being able to serve the unbanked – huge for developing nations. This idea has led to a whole new sector of social entrepreneurship. Even with such a philanthropic goal, it can be hard to explain this new tech and how it helps to the masses.

When it comes to marketing social entrepreneurship in the blockchain, there are a lot of layers and steps necessary to educate potential users and customers. An excellent example is with Dispatch Labs, who are creating a protocol to build scalable DApps (decentralized applications), with some of their early projects giving back by donating money via smart contracts.

One thing they do right communication-wise is simplifying their message, cutting out all the unnecessary noise surrounding how blockchain, protocols, or dApps work, and instead talking directly about how the user can become engaged. Setting a precedent like this could make a big difference later. With the blockchain industry estimated to be worth $3.6 billion by 2023, even a fraction of that going back to charity could make a world of difference.

The most significant takeaway from social entrepreneurship and blockchain is how companies are able to communicate complex ideas in a simple form. Especially for the CMO that works in tech, taking a page out of this playbook can be a smart move. Remember, the more you can help people understand and believe in your product, the easier it will be to spread word-of-mouth.

Implementing the Chain

Beyond just marketing for blockchain companies, the actual blockchain technology has also started to make a significant difference in the advertising and marketing industries. Although still in its infancy, a lot of blockchain uses have been the perfect fit for early use cases, especially projects that deal with proof-of-stake or proof-of-ownership. Forbes noted that blockchain is already combatting the $7 billion in fraudulent advertising sales, which goes to show the value this industry holds for one application alone.

One use of blockchain technology is to verify the source where a file comes from allowing secure copyright and file transfer for creators wishing to sell their work on an enterprise level to agencies (e.g. typefaces, b-roll, etc.). Furthermore, being able to apply a quid-pro-quo smart contract system on the blockchain enables more transparency in advertising purchases too, reducing fraud. Who knows what other amazing innovations will be coming in the next few months.

What are some innovative strategies you’re interested in implementing within blockchain and marketing? Comment with your answers below!

The Difference Between Wide and Deep Content Explained

Content marketing has become a vital component of online marketing, and there are several things to consider while producing content:

  • What is the conversion-goal related to the particular piece of content?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What type of topic will push readers to your call-to-action?
  • What content format will be well received?
  • Should you create wide or deep content?

That last point is one that many overlook when planning their content strategy. Let’s first briefly explain what each one is.

Wide Content: This type of content will usually touch on a broad topic, something similar to this article on how to create influencer marketing relationships, which features a lot of tips related to establishing mutually beneficial influencer relationships. It is a piece of content that has the potential to appeal to a very wide range of readers.

Deep Content: When content focuses on one subject and gets very specific about the details of that topic it’s referred to as deep content. An example would be this article on what happens after a DUI arrest in Los Angeles. It is very detailed and focused on a single topic, thus appealing to a much smaller audience.

There are benefits of both wide and deep content. Let’s break those down now so you understand how each can benefit your content marketing strategy.

Benefits of Wide Content

Much easier to create content (or outsource): Since the topics are of a much broader nature, less research is typically needed. You can produce wide content at a faster rate in-house, and for those who outsource, it's much easier to find writers who can create adequate pieces of wide content.

Unlimited topic availability: There are virtually unlimited topic options for every niche and industry, giving you the ability to always publish fresh topics and give your readers a wide variety of topic choices to consume.

Appeals to a very large audience: Wide content allows you to cast a very large net and pull in readers that have a wide variety of interests and objectives. While not everyone will necessarily be interested in what your business offers, it's a great way to get more eyes on your brand.

Benefits of Deep Content

Builds authority: When you create very detailed pieces of content around a specific topic it can become an authoritative content asset that other websites link to when referencing said topic. This is a great way to earn links, which can drastically improve your SEO. This is a great example of how content marketing is designed to work.

Attracts high-quality targeted traffic: Deep content is very topic-specific, so the content titles and article bodies will typically feature several search terms and phrases that will trigger it to show up in Google's organic search results when someone makes a search query related to the content. When you start to publish a large volume of content you can see your traffic number snowball, even if each piece of content is just attracting a handful of visitors month-after-month.

Converts more website traffic into customers and buyers: Since deep content topics are very specific, traffic that hits your website via organic search is going to be highly targeted. Conversion rates are always much higher when you have targeted traffic, rather than broad traffic that wasn't actively seeking what it is that you offer. Deep content should have a very specific call-to-action built in, as these readers have a high probability of converting.

Final Thoughts

While both formats of content serve a different role, most businesses will find that they need a mix of both deep and wide content to satisfy their content needs. Over time, you will need to dive deep into your analytics and conversion data to see what pieces of content your readers respond the best to and adjust your content marketing accordingly. Content marketing isn’t any different from other forms of online marketing – constant testing and optimization will be required to be successful.

Want more? Download The 7½ Deadly Sins of Content Marketing (And How to Avoid Them).

Deadly Sins of Content Marketing ebook

Picking Up the Pieces: How Companies Rebuild Brands Post-Crisis

Every company makes mistakes every now and then. It’s inevitable. Whether it’s a marketing campaign that falls flat and generates backlash, a serious collapse in services or a faulty product, it’s bound to happen sometime. Careful vigilance will prevent many of these disasters before they explode, but eventually one will get through and everything will go wrong. And once crisis strikes, no matter how you’ve defined and cultivated your image over time, confidence in the brand is going to take a hit. It doesn’t last forever, however, and it’s certainly possible for a brand to fully recover from such a crisis.

Being able to recover from a brand crisis or a public relations disaster requires distinct actions in three phases. It helps to have an active reputation management system working before the crisis itself, it requires a measured response in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, and it depends on a longer-term strategy afterward for the recovery. You should take the crisis seriously and make an effort to honestly and transparently listen to customers and respond. For the long-term strategy after the crisis you need to be patient and careful about going back to marketing-as-usual, and you need to take real action in the long-term to prevent similar crises.

Some companies even consider re-branding entirely, although this may look suspicious to consumers if it attracts attention, and it has the potential to backfire.  It might help to look at a few examples of how companies have handled this recovery for better or for worse.

Takata Airbags and Automakers

When something serious goes wrong with one brand, it can have dramatic effects not just on confidence in that brand but on all brands that are linked to it. The Takata airbag recall is the biggest car recall in U.S. history, and it involves airbags in vehicles from 19 different automakers. These airbags have the potential to malfunction in the event of a collision and explode upon inflation, shooting deadly shrapnel around the inside of the vehicle. In the United States at least 15 deaths have been linked to Takata airbags as well as hundreds of injuries. The recall is still ongoing, meaning that many of these cars are still on the road. The problem is that there are so many airbags that Takata and automakers are not able to rapidly provide fixes.

For car companies including GM, Mazda, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and more, however, this is a dangerous brand crisis that came about through no obvious fault of their own. But compared to these auto-makers, Takata is a relatively unknown brand that consumers will rarely interact with directly. Takata may have a long way to go to win back confidence from car manufacturers, but those car manufacturers will also have their hands full rebuilding their brands with upset consumers.

In a crisis like an automotive recall, the recovery from the brand crisis depends a lot on the immediate response. Some automakers are getting little to no press attention on their brand and have had few or no reported accidents so far that can be linked to them. For them, dealing quietly and effectively with the recall and then waiting for the media coverage to pass is the best thing they can do. For the car companies getting more attention, however, their image depends on the quality and speed of the recall and their service to affected customers. This isn’t going well so far for many of the car companies, which may make for a long recovery and a drop in sales and loyalty, at least among affected customers.

Chipotle and the E. Coli Outbreak

Popular Tex-Mex restaurant chain was hit by a serious string of E. coli and norovirus outbreaks in 2015 in locations across the United States, producing a serious drop in confidence in the brand. After many locations closed and customers in seven states reported getting sick after eating Chipotle, Chipotle’s sales dropped 14.6 percent and its income dropped 44 percent in the final quarter of 2015.

This outbreak became a serious issue for the Chipotle brand because of how widespread media coverage of the issue was, and because the problem seemed to clash so directly with Chipotle’s existing brand identity. The quality and integrity of the ingredients of their food has always been one of the core values in Chipotle’s marketing, from the ethical sourcing to the way the food is prepared. This led to an even greater drop in consumer confidence after the crisis, and it created more media interest and thus widespread coverage.

In the wake of the crisis, Chipotle temporarily closed many restaurants and put some operations on hold. They returned to business as usual by December 2015, but largely kept their heads down in marketing and public statements. Several months after it was over, they closed Chipotles across the country for a morning of training and planning. That event, plus an open letter to the public from the CEO, marked Chipotle’s attempt to begin moving forward and leaving the crisis behind them. Not only did the letter accept responsibility for the food safety failure, but it promised a wide range of specific measures they were taking to improve food safety.

After these statements and actions addressing the crisis, Chipotle almost immediately started a new marketing blitz to encourage customers to return to Chipotle, including promotions for free entrees. Several years after the crisis, Chipotle has now fully recovered and restored their brand to what it was before without falling into another disaster since.

Restoring brand reputation starts with rebuilding trust. There is nothing more important than creating exceptional customer experience to help rebuild trust and build a strong brand reputation. Download Customer Experience Simplified: Deliver The Experience Your Customers Want to learn how to craft an outstanding experience for your customers​.

 

Tips for the Right Marketer Mindset in 2018

The new media environment is here. Or really, it’s been here long enough already that we should be used to it by now. The one constant in the marketing world of the 21st century, however, is change. In this rapidly changing technological and social environment there are new pitfalls and problems appearing every day to challenge us and force us to rethink the way we do marketing. If you’re not careful you can slip into a certain way of thinking that will lead you into some serious misstep. Follow these keys for your marketing plan and approach this year and make a difference for your brand.

Learn to be Objective, Listen to Others

As you cultivate your marketing mindset this year and start to brainstorm ideas for your 2018 plan, hold yourself accountable and make sure you listen to others around you. We all like to think we’re objective and that we know best how to deal with our field, our product and our audience. The truth is that everyone is fallible, and often our irrational love for our own ideas doesn’t necessarily prove the quality of those ideas.

In this constantly changing media environment, a little bit of humility and careful consideration before moving forward with an idea goes a long way. Every week or two another ad campaign majorly flops or inspires significant negative publicity, and in hindsight, the problems are so clear! One example from last year was the Pepsi ad that tried to comment on political divisions and Black Lives Matter protests. Failures like these could be avoided by simply making time to vet projects more extensively, opening them up to criticism before they’re aired to the public. The brainchild project you’re so proud of isn’t always going to be perfect – but you won’t know that unless you listen to people around you.

And in what some call the “post-truth” era, there’s more and more distrust and questioning of statements and claims out there. Think twice before you stretch the truth, and set yourself apart as a brand by seeking objectivity.

Invest in Training and Skill Development

“Every day there’s something new that changes the whole field,” says Rich Newsome, attorney and co-founder of Newsome Melton Law. “If you don’t have someone already working on figuring out how to use it, you’re behind.” New technologies and practices are being developed every day to match the proliferation of new media platforms and avenues for marketing. It’s your job as a marketer to stay on top of these developments, to be a “change manager.”

That means not only being aware of latest advances in the field, but investing the time and staff to be able to take advantage of them. A Capgemini Consulting study in 2017 revealed that 70% of companies in the U.S. and 55% worldwide observed a widening talent gap when it comes to new digital technologies and the ability to take advantage of them. Continuing education for you and your staff to close that gap has to be a priority. Make time for developing new skills. Your brand will suffer if you don’t.

Let Your Brand Be Genuine

Customers buying into brands today need their brand to have a personality, to represent something. One large study in 2015 showed that 91% of consumers internationally expect businesses to act responsibly and keep external interests in mind. A full 84% say they choose products from responsible, pro-social companies when possible. Gone is the era where brands could stay out of all public conversations and get by with nothing but silly, gimmicky ads. People have values and beliefs and they want to see that your company has those too. It doesn’t need to be anything controversial, and it’s safer if it’s not, but you have to somehow humanize your brand.

The most important thing to keep in mind here, however, is the importance of sincerity. If your attempt to show some sort of value or corporate responsibility is just empty posturing, audiences will see right through it and it will backfire. Let the social values of your brand come from the brand and the company itself. Smart consumers will pick up on that authenticity, and that will draw them in to your brand better than anything else.

Time to Multi-Task

If you really want to connect to your customers in 2018, you need to engage them at multiple levels. Effective marketing now means you have no choice but to work across many platforms at once. Don’t neglect your social media presence, but also don’t forget the value of video advertising across platforms like YouTube and Netflix. And that doesn’t mean you can ignore more traditional advertising media either.

The most important thing is to know your audience. Know who your potential customers are and be able to effectively target them. Follow their lead and go where they go. You have to be consistent and disciplined in your multi-platform approach so that customers don’t drop through the cracks.

For more tips, tools, and hacks to make your life as a marketer easier- join us at Modern Customer Experience 2018. ModernCX’s Modern Marketing track offers more than 200 expert-led sessions geared to equip you with new skills you can immediately apply to your work.

Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018 here.

4-Step Content Marketing Process to Grow Your Business

Content marketing, which was a mere buzzword several years ago, is now one of the most popular and effective online marketing strategies today, and rightfully so, as these stats are hard to ignore:

  • Small businesses with blogs get 126% more lead growth than small businesses without.
  • After reading recommendations on a blog, 61% of U.S. online consumers made a purchase.
  • Content marketing rakes in conversion rates six times higher than other methods.

Content marketing is especially attractive to companies with limited budgets, as it allows you to experience results with limited financial resources. If your business is not using content marketing as part of your strategy, you are missing a huge opportunity to grow your business. Here is a simple 4-step process to help you get started with content marketing.

1. Identify a content strategy that works for your business

In order to be successful when it comes to content marketing you need to have a well-defined strategy. To start, you need to identify goals. Are you wanting to drive brand awareness and push consumers to visit a physical location? Do you want to collect email addresses and place them into a funnel and email responder to drip-market?

Once your goals are established, you need to determine what type of content will best help you reach those goals. Blog posts, video content, podcasts, etc. -- there are multiple content formats that can be used. You need to create your strategy based on what will help you reach your goals.

The temptation will always be to first question whether you have anything interesting to say. And that others have probably already said it anyway. One of my favorite tactics to overcome these 2 mental roadblocks is to first, go to Google News and type in a phrase that describes your industry.  See what articles are coming up, and if any seem remotely similar to your company’s business practice, then you’ve got your inspiration right there. One of my favorite examples to share about the use of unique, newsworthy posts about a seemingly boring topic (legal) comes from this blog. If they can do it, so you can you.

2. Create an efficient publishing process

The majority of businesses fail at content marketing because they are not consistent. You can’t randomly publish content and expect miracles to happen. You have to first create content that your audience enjoys engaging with, and second, you need to put it out there on a consistent basis.

“Whether you are publishing content weekly or daily, you need to remain consistent. Your audience becomes accustomed to your publishing frequency and if your publishing becomes inconsistent they will disconnect from your brand and get their content fix elsewhere,” explains Adam Boalt, CEO and founder of Travel Visa.

The easiest way to ensure you remain consistent is to use an editorial calendar to schedule content far in advance. This allows you to make sure your audience will always have something to engage with, according to the publishing frequency you decide is best for your brand.

You can also reuse, or repurpose, older content across other channels. For example, sharing older blog posts on social media allows you to use a new platform while not having to spend additional money on the content creation.

3. Focus on building your brand’s authority.

When you build your brand’s authority, you are able to leverage your position within the marketplace to influence the purchase decisions of consumers.

When you publish quality content that helps your target customers solve problems or answer questions they may have, they see you as an authority within your industry. Then, when they have questions in the future, they turn to you for the answer. As this snowballs, you see more traffic coming back to your website, which then converts into sales.

One of the easiest ways to make sure your content is attracting the right type of traffic is by targeting keywords and search terms that have buyer-intent. Think about what your target customer would be typing into Google when they have a question about the products or service you sell prior to making a purchase, and then create in-depth content that answers those questions.

4. Constantly review and adjust

Content marketing is not a ‘set it and forget it’ form of marketing. It requires constant analyzing and adjusting in order to be successful. It’s important to fully understand Google Analytics and have conversion goals established.

Data such as where your visitors came from, what they did while on your website, how long they stayed and how they exited are all key to identifying well-performing content to further optimize, as well as poorly performing content to abandon.

Numbers don’t lie, so it’s important to test multiple content formats, because what you think might perform the best with your audience might in fact not be best format in terms of conversions. Test as much as possible and adjust accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Content marketing is something that businesses of all sizes can participate in, and by following the 4-step process outlined above, you can experience business growth, regardless of your marketing budget.

Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018 here

Want to brush up on your content marketing skills? Join us at Modern Customer Experience 2018. ModernCX’s Modern Marketing track offers more than 200 expert-led sessions in content marketing, mobile marketing, B2B marketing automation, B2C cross channel marketing and more. Our sessions are geared to help equip you with new skills you can immediately apply to your work.

See you in Chicago:  here.

How To Use CRM Data Mining For Smarter Content Marketing

Content marketing isn't easy to do. There's no doubt that it's effective, but it's very hard to do it well. It's a little like publishing a book blindly. You have no clue if anyone will be interested enough to read it - and want another. Despite this, content marketing is still an important part of any marketing plan - so how can we overcome this problem?

One strategy is to write your content so that it is targeted to a specific type of individual. This isn't a new concept in marketing. Buyer personas are a core concept but most buyer personas are an educated guess. The buyer persona you're targeting may not be the type of person you're actually attracting with your content.

If your company does have a number of customers already and wants to really leverage the power of content marketing, then a more refined understanding of who is actually participating with the company is necessary. When you know your audience you can write to them. That's where data mining can come into play.

Data Mining your CRM

Data mining is a set of processes for analyzing a large dataset to find statistically significant information. Most data mining for content marketing purposes uses sophisticated engines to crawl through the net to find signals related to particular keywords or topics. From this analysis, predictions are made to learn more about what type of person reads what, and what readers of one topic might be interested in reading next.

But this can be turned around the other way. Instead of looking at the wider net, you can use data mining techniques on your own customer database to see which visitor behaviors correlate with particular pieces of content.

You might be asking isn't that what analytics is for? True, analytics can help but data mining takes it one step further. Analytics by its nature only looks at surface behavior, and for a small to medium-sized business this might be all that is necessary. A simple examination of which articles performed the best is a pretty good indicator of what your audience is interested in. However, if you have a large number of visitors there may be deeper patterns that cannot be so easily discerned. By leveraging these patterns via your content marketing it can become more effective.

Examples

Here are some of the questions data mining can answer when done right from a content marketing perspective:

  • Which articles or keywords did your customers read before, during, and after a purchase? What are the correlations between these?
  • Is there a shift in content consumed when moving from one product purchase to another?
  • Why did a particular post go viral? Was it an outlier, or did you tap into something deeper?
  • Which combinations of article reads are most likely to signal that a customer is close to making a purchase?
  • What are the common characteristics between the people who follow your content channels all the way to a purchase, and what might be different in the ones that fall away?
  • Are repeat customers even reading your content at all?

Let's take an example from Sink Law, a large personal injury firm, and their blog. How do they know if they're getting a good ROI from their blog? They can compare their website analytics to the consultations they get, whether those consultations begin as calls, online chats, texts or email.  The firm could compare the blog topic, length of topic to the magnitude of response, to help determine which types of content generate the best return on investment. Data mining techniques could pull all of this information together and look for patterns about which combinations of client statistics and content marketing engagements lead to a call. Perhaps a post on a recall of child safety seats resonates very strongly with young mothers compared to other articles on child safety. Done correctly, data mining will help reveal what works and why people took action, so it can be replicated in the future.

This is just the start of a much longer topic, but one that is clear. Content marketers are looking for any way they can get an edge to build up their audiences. Leveraging existing customer information to build up more refined buyer personas through data mining is a matter of when, not if.

Content marketing is challenging for many organizations. Oracle’s Content Marketing has solutions to simplify the process of creating, distributing and promoting your content. Visit our website for more information. If you are in the market for new content marketing solutions that works for you, read the Buyer’s Guide: Evaluating Content Marketing Solutions for an easy way to access your solution requirements and options.

How CMOs Are Helping Healthy Food Brands Secure Market Share

Consumer demand for healthy food is at an all-time high, leading Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) to think outside of traditional marketing channels to put healthy brands directly in front of their target markets. The majority of healthy food brands are small in terms of size, compared to the established players, but with creative approaches, they are being discovered, leading to healthy growth and market share.

The more conventional marketing strategies also aren’t direct enough, leading many experts to focus on content marketing and social media. The following five steps outlined below explain the new-age strategy CMOs are using to help elevate these new brands.

1. Introduce new brands through creative social media campaigns

Brands in the health food space are forgoing the traditional launch strategies, like press releases, in favor of attracting interest across social media platforms. Brands can attract instant attention using custom videos, well-crafted content and other attraction assets to create early interest and product demand.

Many healthy food brands are relying heavily on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook initially. It’s important to master a few social media channels in the beginning, rather than on all of them. Finding success on just a few is more effective than just participating on all of them.

2. Share the brand’s story

Consumers are attracted to a brand on social media when they connect with its story—include the reason for the brand’s launch or highlight the people behind the brand so the consumer can make that personal connection.

Personal connections create loyal brand supporters who will purchase and introduce their friends and family to the brand. Every brand should have a detailed “About Us” page on their website that highlights all of this information, which can then be repurposed on social media to help share the story.

3. Create and distribute educational content assets

When creating content, CMOs are focusing on publishing assets that provide educational information, rather than content that is purely promotional. Popular content formats include information packed long-form blog posts, educational videos and infographics that consumers love to engage with and share on social media.

Every time someone likes, shares or comments on your social media content, it’s introduced to new eyes that may not be familiar with your brand. To capture a potential consumer’s attention, your content needs to provide value and something of interest. If it’s just a glorified advertisement, it won’t receive engagement or be shared.

4. Focus on specific lifestyles

For healthy food brands, the niche is smaller and may not appeal to the masses in the same way as a large brand. While there is a growing interest in healthy food, according to a HealthyYOU Vending report, there is also a very large percentage of the population that can’t afford to focus on healthy food; instead, selecting their food purchases based on affordability.

When running social media campaigns, target those consumers that tend to be active in a specific lifestyle that relates to healthy eating. For example, target CrossFit fans to place your offers and content in front of an audience that is interested in healthy food choices. Facebook offers the most extensive targeting options, making it a must-do.

5. Emphasize the ‘how’ rather than just the ‘why’

Consumers that tend to gravitate towards healthy food options are more interested in how the particular brand is beneficial, rather than why. They are fully capable of understanding that healthy food offers many benefits, but they will want to know how your particular brand is going to contribute to their health.

One popular trend is to create how-to videos that explain the benefits and give some behind- the-scene footage of the brand. This educates the consumer while building trust. It’s a very low-cost strategy that performs well.

Final Thoughts

Large food brands are slow to make the transition to healthier varieties, leaving the window of opportunity wide open for new, smaller, health-focused brands to thrive. The discovery strategy above will be continued to be used by leading CMOs in the industry, and optimized along the way, as new social media networks and content opportunities emerge.

Download The Guide to Social Media Marketing to learn how to align with your customers and followers and create a better perception of your brand.