Author: John Rampton

The Importance of Data to Social Media Marketing

More than ever before, data is driving marketing strategy, tactics, and messaging, and that includes social media marketing. The proliferation of data is only set to rise as more people and businesses continue to share information about themselves on channels like social media.

It’s in this information that a business can learn more about their audience, especially on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where there is more sharing than on other channels. Social data metrics include information like the number of likes and shares and changes in followers as well as hashtag use and engagement rates.

Besides the fact that your audience is using these social media sites, there are other reasons why you should incorporate data and analytics in your social media marketing strategy:

Create More Engaging Social Content

The data you collect from social media sites will let you know what type of content your audience responds to in terms of liking, sharing, and commenting. When they do, that’s when you know they are interested and attracted to your brand.

The findings from your own posts and the ability to assess how other content ranks on social media can help you optimize your social media content strategy. This includes identifying the topics your audience is searching for online or what type of questions they are asking in social media conversations.

Determine Ideal Platforms and Timing

Social media data also tells you which platforms your target audience uses the most and when they like to read content. Analytics provides a way to track the day of the week and time of day that posts are most read. That way, you can plan and schedule your social media content to align with these preferred viewing locations and time.

Improve Your SEO Tactics

SEO tactics should not just be guided by your search marketing strategy; it’s social media data that can also be leveraged to make improvements in other aspects of your marketing efforts. Rather than using a generic list of keywords that may fit your industry but don’t get to your targets, the social media data you collect includes the keywords that your customers are using to search on social media for specific content.

Track Brand Reputation

Since most conversations occur on social media platforms, it’s the place you need to track if you want to know if there is anything good or bad being said that could impact your brand image. Having the ability to receive this real-time social media data that includes praise and complaints is an opportunity to engage and converse with your audience directly.  

Locate Influencers

Influencer marketing plays a critical role in today’s marketing due to the fact that so many within your target audience look to others to help shape their opinions and purchase decisions. While you can engage and make inroads as a brand, it’s these influencers that tend to make the most headway. Again, social media data can help by helping you identify the most influential people on social media for your particular audience so you can get to know them.

Keep an Eye on the Competition

Because social media platforms collect so much data, it makes keeping tabs on your competition so much easier and less time-consuming. You’ll be able to see their likes, followers, influencers, and content strategy to determine what you can do differently -- and better.

How to Create a Data-Driven Social Media Marketing Strategy

To achieve these benefits from collecting social media data, you’ll need to create a social media marketing strategy to direct your efforts.

First, start with what you want to accomplish with social media marketing: Is it increase your brand awareness and reach? Do you want to enhance your brand image? Or, do you want to grow web traffic? These goals guide the type of social media data you gather and analyze.

Once you know your goals and the metrics from the social data to collect, then it’s on to assessing which data analytics tools work for those goals and metrics. Many tools offer free trials so you can try them out, see what they do, and determine if the insights from them align with your objectives.

From there, the results should direct the changes you may need to make to your social media marketing strategy, tactics, and messaging. It will be an ongoing process of refinement in terms of the metrics, target audience, and content alignment, but, over time, it should further the level of benefits you receive from social media data.

Take another deep dive into how to craft a winning social media marketing strategy with “6 Steps to Becoming a Social Business.”

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Looking at Martech: The Intersection of Marketing and Technology

When it comes to company roadmaps for marketing, part of the journey to engage with customers still relies on the art of marketing. In reality, it’s still emotions and human connections that drive much of the impact marketing efforts have on an audience.

Yet, marketing needs technology to reach the right audience at the right time. That’s the intersection between the two where companies need to drive toward to meet their goals for 2019 and beyond.

From Good to Better

One way to think about it is to think about any road trip you’ve ever taken. In the days before GPS in our vehicles and preceding our dependence on smartphones, foldable maps were used to determine direction and guide us on journey. While they were good, they didn’t tell us much except for roads.

Now, fast forward to GPS, which not only gives us specific directions, but it also can reroute us for a quicker, more efficient trip. We can use these navigation devices to personalize the journey with places of interest along the way. Overall, technology enhances the experience and gets us where we want to go.

Marketing’s Technology Makeover

Like our physical journeys, technology has done something similar for marketing in terms of improving the process for higher levels of engagement. Marketers have a much more direct route to their intended audience with significantly more information about each segment. The result is a faster, more efficient, and accurate marketing journey, including the ability to deliver cross-channel marketing strategies. Less effort and time are spent to get a significantly higher level of results.

This marketing makeover includes a digital transformation with technology like analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, chatbots, geolocation, augmented and virtual reality, automation and more. All this technology is yielding results in terms of personalized marketing and engaged audiences. It’s become so important that there is even a term for it now: Martech.

It sounds so promising, but many marketers are frozen like a deer in the headlights unsure of what to do with all this technology. They are at a crossroads between the traditional marketing that’s served them fairly well until recently and the road ahead which appears to be complex and crowded with all types of technology.

Which Way to Go?

At this point, companies need to move forward with their digital transformations, adopting their marketing strategies to new channels and changing audience expectations.

Although there is a significant amount of technology now available for marketing, it does not mean you have to pick up all of it along the journey. Instead, you should be focused on the destination and understand what is necessary for reaching that destination.

Here’s what can guide you as a marketing profession when you are stuck at the intersection of marketing and technology:

  • Attending Martech conferences provide a way to better understand this intersection and hear from experts on strategies for integrating the right technology that aligns with your marketing objectives. Industry leaders in marketing and technology converge to provide the best information and updates, which can shape how you invest in Martech.
  • Testing apps, tools, and platforms gives you and your marketing team a better understanding of what marketing and technology can do when they partner on processes and tactics. For example, it may be worth trying voice-assisted marketing or experiential marketing to determine if it would address customer expectations about their experience with your brand.  It’s also worth spending the time to read the material that each Martech company develops because this information details the value proposition and how you might use it.
  • Putting yourself in the shoes of the target prospects and existing customers by shopping online and using mobile platforms can give you a better perspective on what they want and why. You’ll be more likely to understand how to deliver that for them, including through mobile marketing, as well as have a better basis for the type of Martech you need to integrate into your marketing strategy.
  • Evaluating your overall marketing goals should also direct what technology you use. For example, it may be that you want to combine marketing efforts to be consistent and efficient with messaging across channels or you are focused on personalizing the experience and need to collect and analyze more data to achieve that.
Challenges to Overcome

Even with these actions, there can still be roadblocks that are standing in the way of a truly integrated Martech environment. You’ll need to know how to overcome the lack of an effective Martech strategy by spending more time building out a detailed plan that aligns each marketing objective with a particular technology.

Removing inefficiencies, increasing the ROI, and driving greater consistency in data and messaging through Martech investments will also address the challenge of limited buy-in from executives who may not understand how or why to undertake this digital transformation.

Between testing, researching, and aligning, you’ll be able to move past the intersection of marketing and technology, driving a clear path toward a digital marketing strategy that gets you to the right audience destination.

Learn more about Oracle Marketing Cloud and how the right Martech can better connect you to the data you need and the customers you are targeting with “A Perfect Circle: How to Connect to the Buyer of Now.”

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B2B Marketing Trends to Address in 2019

Spring is arriving, and 2019 is in full gear. It’s time to focus how you will address this year’s B2B marketing trends as part of your own strategy. While some trends may be a holdover from the previous year or are taking on a bigger role, there are also new B2B marketing trends that need your attention in order to attract and maintain your customer base.

Here’s what I’ve observed based on my own interaction with our B2B customers in the last six months and through my ongoing research on the overall marketing environment:

B2B Marketing Trends That Continue

It’s important to know the trends that continue to impact B2B marketing despite being part of the environment for so long:

  • SEM/SEO: Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization will always be a critical B2B marketing trend because businesses conduct ongoing research to understand their own environment as well as look for other companies to help them achieve strategic objectives. Although you may have focused your effort on title tags and headers -- and these will continue to be important -- you will also need to look at other tactics to build search traffic on other channels and through additional content strategies. This is because search algorithms will change yet again this year so you will need to stay up-to-date on how those changes impact your SEM/SEO tactics.
  • Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC): This is a traditional marketing concept that has been around for decades, but it is gaining new ground in 2019 and beyond as companies realize that they can apply the benefits of IMC to the digital environment as they reach out to companies across channels. The overall purpose of IMC is to help create a unified and consistent brand image and message no matter where you engage with your audience.
B2B Marketing Trends Set to Grow

Here’s what’s been around in the world of B2B marketing but will grow further as a key area for results:

  • Content Marketing: Business customers seek information for decisions just as much as consumers and sometimes more, especially if they are looking to invest in equipment or a software platform. Or, they might be desperate to address a key business challenge that is impacting their profitability. That’s when you can offer them niche-specific content that addresses those needs rather than focusing on selling to your prospects. And, as always, remember that your content marketing needs to be as relevant and useful as possible
  • Retargeting: The ability to locate where your visitors go in terms of other sites will become more critical as you fight to keep your audience prospects engaged with what you have to offer. More effort will be put into understanding their behavior as they move to other sites so you can create advertisements that speak directly to their interests and browsing history.
  • Social Media and Video Marketing: Certain social media channels are growing within the B2B arena, particularly Instagram where businesses are seeking out other businesses on this channel to see their brand in action, including videos and visual content. Although LinkedIn continues to lead the way in terms of B2B social media interaction, other channels like YouTube are starting to gain more traction in the B2B environment for the ability to share information they want in a much more digestible and engaging way. This is leading channels like LinkedIn to consider how it can offer similar features.
  • Data-Driven Marketing: Data will become increasingly important in the B2B world like it has done with consumers because companies will also want personalized experiences with brands. And, with the ongoing use of social media and content marketing, more metrics will need to be analyzed in order to core to understand what resonates with these businesses, when they are engaging with the content, and what the competition is doing to win your customers.
  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM): Although already in use, ABM will continue to grow because of the number of stakeholders and the complexity of transactions and investments in the business environment. Rather than taking an inbound approach to lead generation, ABM provides a way to hone in on specific types of clients and build out those relationships through value-added delivery and achieve return business over time.  
New B2B Marketing Trends on the Horizon

Although you may have heard about these trends, this is the year that they are set to become part of the B2B environment even if they’ve been part of the B2C marketing landscape for the past few years:

  • AI and Machine Learning: Now that companies see how this technology can work with a consumer audience, there is growing acceptance that these tools could help with B2B marketing in a similar way. For example, more analytics is incorporating artificial intelligence to understand the audience and results from B2B marketing efforts. Also, more B2B bot applications are appearing, such as chatbots for websites and social media channels as well as meta bots for customer interaction and analysis to address the aforementioned trend toward data-driven marketing.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): Now that businesses are starting to adopt more IoT devices and see the benefits of such connectivity for their own operations, they are more amenable to receiving marketing messages via such devices. This means more content marketing and engagement through devices like virtual assistants, including ads, promotions, relevant information, and access to further content that helps them deploy and use IoT devices in their businesses.
  • Data Protection: Businesses are showing an increasing focus on their desire to have their personal information protected, which means brands will have to find more ways to protect the data they are gathering on their clients. This means paying more attention to technology that secures this sensitive data and to how privacy policies are written and shared with clients.
A Forever Changing Landscape

While it doesn’t feel as volatile as the consumer landscape, the B2B marketing environment continues to change as companies experience more demands on their own operations to satisfy their audiences.

Find out more about how data, personalizing your communications, and email programs can come together in “Discover the Right Marketing Solution.”

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4 Resources for Your Team to Get Up to Speed on Mobile Marketing

The more you know, the more likely you are to succeed at whatever you do. And, that includes mobile marketing. The investment in learning and training will pay off. That's because it will provide a way for you and your team. The result will be better decisions about new technology investment and effective strategic actions that deliver results.

Here are four mobile marketing resources I've found useful but have no affiliation with except that I incorporate them in my own company to enhance our efforts:

1. Research Reports

There is a wealth of information available from research firms that produce annual and quarterly research reports on mobile marketing. Research firms, such as Global Information Inc., Spendedge, Forrester, and others, devote considerable expertise and energy to collecting qualitative and quantitative data. Buying one or more of these reports makes more financial sense than doing all the research ourselves. Many of the mobile marketing reports available for purchase include specific statistics that can inform and guide decision-making around where to invest marketing dollars. The research keeps us current on what consumers think about the mobile environment and aware of new technology. It also provides insights into their mobile behavior and preferences.

2. Swrve

This mobile marketing resource company also provides access to a comprehensive library of past and current materials about mobile marketing. Their collection includes webinars, white papers, and video content to direct your mobile marketing effort even if you don't choose to use their products.

For example, their webinars include measuring customer satisfaction in a mobile world, mobile ROI and the first-time user experience, and how to test and release new mobile features. The focus on video content makes this mobile marketing resource particularly effective. My team finds the videos easy to follow and they retain more. Also, numerous white papers deliver best practices that can be directly implemented.

3. Amazon

Although I enjoy all the digital resources available, I'm still an avid reader. I believe books are a great way to absorb the necessary knowledge and skills. I regularly visit sites like Amazon to find out about the latest mobile marketing books to continue enhancing my education in this area and encourage my team to do the same. Just plugging in the search term, "mobile marketing," reveals over 4,000 books and e-reader content that is readily available.

There are handbooks, textbooks, manuals, and guides from well-known mobile marketing specialists and researchers. Plus, you can focus on one type of mobile marketing or enjoy a wider picture of the mobile environment, including the latest consumer and business trends related to the mobile world. Some books even feature key issues related to mobile marketing and potential ways to solve these challenges for your business.

4. Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)

This is a global non-profit trade association that has over 800 member companies from fifty countries. This is an ideal resource for learning from each other and sharing on-the-job insights. Plus, this collaborative resource environment can help propel the mobile marketing world and drive a higher standard of best practices.  Members include brand marketers, marketing agencies, mobile marketing technology firms, and media companies.

Although this mobile marketing resource does cost money to join, including an annual membership, it does give a considerable return in the form of education, research and insights, events and networking, case studies, programs, tools, and more. The depth of information available to leverage can be particularly useful as it provides a global perspective that is critical to more businesses that want to serve a larger audience.

More Mobile Marketing Resources

However, these four mobile marketing resources are just the start of what you can find to help you and your team improve your mobile marketing strategies. Also, online courses, conferences, trade publications, blogs, social media discussion groups, and forums are other resources to consider that are made to fit your time and budget. I make time each week to study mobile marketing resources so that I can further refine my own mobile marketing strategy and optimize the incredible results that are out there.

Did you know 65% of marketers have no official mobile strategy? Don't let that be you. We have some helpful guides to started.

 

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Mobile Campaigns

Mobile marketing continues to be a critical strategy as statistics show how much consumers rely on their mobile devices to research, interact, and shop. According to Statista, there are over 3.5 billion unique mobile internet users. And, comScore noted that users spend an average of 69 percent of their media time on smartphones. Lastly, mobile devices will drive 80 percent of global internet usage as reported by Zenith.

With so much opportunity to reach your target audience, mobile marketing tops the marketing strategy list. However, it's not an absolute you will achieve success with your mobile marketing strategy. Many brands have made mobile marketing mistakes like these seven misses:

Mistake #1: Optimizing Landing Pages But Not Mobile Ads

The first mobile marketing mistake is to not apply an optimization strategy to everything you do. While your website, social media content, and landing pages are optimized, there may be an area you forgot. And, that area is where you actually may be investing more money. That is, mobile ads. With the amount of money that goes into purchasing mobile ads, you want to make sure you optimize the content for maximum reach.

For mobile PPC ads, don't forget to optimize your ad copy, including using search ad device targeting. By providing mobile searchers with notification that your mobile site is optimized for iOS or Android, they will happily choose you to shorten their search.

Mistake #2: Mobile Campaign Links to Nowhere

While it seems obvious that you should check every link you use in your mobile campaign, brands often skip this task in the rush to launch. However, by not checking links, you defeat the purpose of your campaign. When users click on the links in your mobile campaign and they get an error message, you've just hurt your conversion rate and tarnished your reputation. Plus, if your competition has done their due diligence on mobile campaign links, then you may have just lost those conversions forever.

Always test your mobile campaigns links for dead pages and correct them before launching your mobile campaign.

Mistake #3: Not Emphasizing Your Mobile App

Often, companies don't promote their mobile app as they could be. Instead, they think that the app's appearance in major app stores is enough. However, these companies are missing out on the opportunity to have more app users by not pitching their apps on mobile web pages, reminding users of the benefits of this app.

In reality, there are already thousands of similar apps in the app stores. No user wants to sift through all of them to find an app. They want the app to come to them and make it easy to download and use.

By adding the app to your mobile landing pages and then having it link directly to where users can download it, you'll be able to get more traction from your app investment while adding more brand value for the customer.

Mistake #4: Making it Complicated to Opt-In

Everything about what you do on mobile has to be as easy as possible for the audience, but many companies still complicate things such as the opt-in process. At one point, the answer seemed to be to offer QR codes. However, that seems to be a mistake because it's still too complicated. Plus, this strategy assumes that consumers have a QR scanner on their phone or are willing to locate, download, and learn how to use one. Yet, it doesn't mean you have to forego the QR opt-in method.

Instead, keep the opt-in process simple for users. Offer an SMS opt-in as well as the QR one so that consumers have a choice for what they would like to use.

Mistake #5: Not Providing Enough Information

There is a false assumption among some companies that mobile marketing means limited content. Therefore, these companies tend to leave out critical information that customers are looking for when interacting with mobile platforms. This missing information includes specific direction on how to participate in a program or campaign event.

Don't forget to give the customer every incentive to participate. Give them social media buttons, links to landing pages, and even in-store signage with offline options to join in on what you want them to do. Additionally, make sure that the call to action clearly explains the value to the customer. That way, they understand the incentive for acting on what you are telling them to do.

Mistake #6: Not Creating an Omnichannel Experience

Many companies are still putting their mobile marketing efforts in a silo. By doing so, they are losing opportunities to deepen the interaction and connection with customers and prospects. This can also mean lost conversions for those customers that may choose to take a unique journey to reach their purchase decision. When you put mobile marketing all by itself, there may be customers that don't want to close the deal on that channel. Instead, they may want to continue the journey on another channel.

Keep the conversation going by creating an omnichannel experience rather than just a mobile experience. Learn how to move traffic between your various touch points, including knowing what to say to influence their continued journey with your brand. Personalized messaging and easy access to the touch points can enhance this omnichannel experience.

Mistake #7: Ignoring Privacy and Data Regulations

Most of the mistakes related to compliance with privacy and data are by accident rather than disregard. This is because the laws are continually changing in terms of data, privacy, and security. Companies do not regularly review current laws related to mobile marketing tactics, such as email, unsolicited texts, and data storage. You don't want to incur fines and penalties. Also, it would be challenging to face a tarnished brand. It will take a long time for a company to recover from their lack of knowledge and respect for the mobile regulatory environment.

Instead, take the time to continually review the current regulations related to the information you can collect. This will effectively shape how you can interact with customers and prospects on this channel. This builds trust with your target audience, which is so important to today's omnichannel presence.

5 Key Skills Your Team Needs to Nail Cross-Channel Marketing

The cross-channel marketing model has been in effect for many years, but it continues to evolve as an art and science. That evolution requires an ever-expanding skill set for the talent you add to the team. To identify talent or determine what type of skills development to invest in, here are some of the key skills for succeeding at cross-channel marketing:

Video Production

It's important to develop skills in video production. It has become such a popular form of content across channels. For example, audiences like to watch videos on social media, websites, and even through emails. Sure, you could outsource this task or hire a production company. However, it's better to add this to the internal team's skill set as a competitive advantage. Also, it provides a way to add videos at any point that an opportunity arises. This includes participation in conferences, community events, or special campaigns.

Acquiring skill means developing an understanding of video software, social media video tools such as Facebook Live, and other technical capabilities associated with video production including editing and sound. A good place to start is online technical training courses offered through organizations like Udemy.

Paid Search and Social Media

There are opportunities across search and social media to reach a targeted audience. Yet, there's a lack of understanding of how to do it to achieve the maximum ROI.

Therefore, it helps to add this skill to your marketing team's toolbox. This means learning how to leverage Google AdWords and Bing for paid search opportunities. The results of this know-how can drive more traffic to your website. It can also provide insights on how to improve SEO and your overall content strategy.

The same goes for sponsored content and social media ads on Facebook and Instagram. Include a team member who has experience beyond organic social media, someone who can use these social media advertising tools effectively in conjunction with your other channel tactics.

Content Strategy and Development

While you can hire freelance writers to produce content, they may not have the acumen to truly understand how to craft content or develop the topics that work effectively for your audience. That's why it helps to have team members who are highly skilled in content development. They know how to conduct the research. Then, these content experts can apply existing insights to create a content calendar that delivers the most relevant and engaging content.

Plus, they understand how to leverage different tools to enhance the content development process. This includes content management systems (CMS) and tools such as BuzzSumo that reveal trending topics. This skill should include knowledge of how to take content and repurpose it into specific content vehicles. These vehicles include infographics, infomercials, podcasts, social media posts, and video scripts. Additionally, knowing where to distribute the content, including the appropriate syndication outlets, adds value.

Analytics

One of the biggest challenges is measuring results in cross-marketing channel campaigns. This is because using a combination of channels means that each channel has some impact on the results. But, in what measure? And, how do you know which channel to emphasize and when to get the greatest results?

Therefore, having a team that can leverage analytics tools and understands the insights they deliver is one of the greatest assets. This skill determines the combination, frequency, and timing for all marketing tactics across channels. From there, the team can refine content messaging. This skill requires learning how to use Google Analytics and similar programs. Also, it includes the ability to create various reports from the available data. Finally, a team member skilled in analytics can explain how to apply the findings to specific strategic goals and tactics.

Programming

Although not as critical, being well versed in coding can propel a marketing team member's value far above everyone else. This is because it's a skill that can address the marketing department's need to personalize and customize its tactics for a diverse audience.

For example, someone who knows how to program can localize a landing page based on the incoming IP address of a website visitor. This means the landing page could have content that reflects a particular city where that visitor is from as well as offer specific promotions to them versus someone visiting from another city where you do business. Additionally, programming skills may be valuable for APIs that further customize marketing efforts as well as for adding chatbots or apps.

What Key Metrics Should Inform Your Cross-Channel Marketing?

 

 

Knowing what to track in your marketing can help shape your future tactics. Today's marketing success comes from the ability to make the right improvements at the right time. This sounds fairly straightforward. However, with the increased number of metrics available, it can be difficult to know which to incorporate in your cross-channel marketing strategy. Plus, not every metric is meaningful to what you’re trying to achieve for your business or audience.Not every metric is meaningful to what you’re trying to achieve for your business. How do you choose what to focus on?

Therefore, consider key metrics that include channel approaches and an integrated framework. Here is one way to approach analytics for each channel in your marketing strategy:

Website Channel Metrics

Your website has the power to inform, engage, and, most importantly, influence purchase decisions. With your other channels, you’re trying to direct prospects to your website. Hence, it's important that they stay after all the effort you put in on the other channels to get them there.

Site speed significantly impacts the user experience. It determines if customers decide to stay or turn to your competition. Also, review each visitor's session duration. This indicates their level of engagement. Heat maps assess where each visitor spends the most time, what pages they like best, and what page they were on before they bought something or left your website. When and where they leave can indicate where you need to improve content or website navigation.

Social Media Channel Metrics

Whether you’re participating in social media ads or just generating your own social media content, this channel needs to be assessed for engagement and influence. Your posts influence if followers take the next step to buy from you. To get more companies to advertise and spend their marketing dollars on social media, the major social platforms offer all type of analytics.

These tools track these metrics without having to learn or pay for additional tools. This adds to the value of investing in the promotional features on these social media sites.

Email Marketing Channel Metrics

Since email continues to be a results-driven marketing channel, it's important to measure certain metrics for email campaigns. Look at how many subscribers are added as a result of each campaign. This tells you if the content was compelling enough to peak their interest on future content you may share.

Additionally, you can find out how many recipients opened the email and followed through based on the call to action. Of course, knowing how many unsubscribe is also good. It's a sign you’re not connecting with certain people. Understanding why can direct how you alter future email campaigns.

Integrated Channel Metrics

While these metrics are all a key part of your overall cross-channel marketing effort, the reality is that today's audiences are influenced by numerous channels and don’t necessarily have a pattern or habit for which channel they prefer or feel influences them the most. After all, this is why you’re crossing channels in your marketing efforts to reach more people. Therefore, your analytics have to do the same in terms of following an integrated customer journey that determines how different channels work together to convince their target audience.

Examining metrics in an integrated way identifies cross-channel synergies that increase influence and, in return, ROI. Therefore, integrated analytics can reveal how much each tactic and channel contribute to conversions. This also points to what combination wields the greatest influence over purchases. There are powerful analytics platforms available that incorporate forecasting algorithms for digital and traditional channels.

Also, machine learning capabilities can identify changing customer behavior that separate metric analysis cannot deliver. Incorporating artificial intelligence will then provide a way to predict traffic and pinpoint the exact time to post content on a particular channel and in what sequence across channels.

Therefore, cross-channel marketing will need to go beyond looking at key metrics and evolve into a model that takes an integrative approach through applying statistics, modeling, machine learning, a range of algorithms, and predictive analytics. Cross-channel marketing becomes more of a whole-business approach when it comes to analysis, bringing together online and offline data from across the organization and the external environment. By doing so, your company can more effectively track and respond to customer behaviors with real-time changes to campaigns across all channels.

Want to read more? Check out our Cross-Channel Fundamentals Guide and Streamline CX Guide here.

 

4 Little Known Ways to Implement Cross-Channel Marketing

It's a great time to be in marketing because there are so many more channels and outlets to reach customers and prospects. Each channel has different expectations and opportunities to connect with your audience.  You need to know which channels mean the most to your specific audience. Plus, it's important to determine how to leverage them effectively and how to use them together to increase return. It's a cross-channel marketing strategy that brings all those components together.

One way of creating and implementing your cross-channel marketing strategy for business success is to use tactics like these:

1. Have One Script, Many Writers

In a choir, everyone sings from the same sheet of music. Yet, it doesn't mean they all contribute the same thing to the overall sound. Use the same approach in your cross-channel marketing. Be consistent in your messaging and theme across channels. However, don't just copy and paste what you had in your blog onto your social media pages and then make it an email, too. This bores your audience. Eventually, they will stop following you on certain channels and you'll lose that engagement.

Instead, a choir features a soprano, alto, and other distinct pitches. This adds depth to the sound while creating harmony. Likewise, your cross-channel marketing effort can use many writers on the team. They can generate multiple dimensions and narratives for your brand message, resonating with different audience members on various channels. This same harmonious result can be achieved where there are not conflicting messages or redundant content.

Use a content calendar to create your overall themes and messaging. Then, assign various team members or freelancer channels so their voice and unique style put a different spin on your storytelling efforts. Consider rotating these writers across channels so that they work on blogs one month and perhaps email marketing the next.

2. Localize Your Efforts

With cross-channel marketing, it's easy to just focus on the broader set of channels that reach across your entire target audience. To change your approach, consider looking at how to localize one or two of those channels. Select those channels where you know your audience might be inclined to use in conjunction with their local errands and needs, such as social media, SMS, and search. Then, you can adapt your content periodically to address local promotions at certain locations while still maintaining an overall promotion strategy.

Likewise, you can consider this strategy if you plan on expanding into international territories and need to address the subtle differences, cultural attributes, and varied languages of these markets. When implementing this type of cross-channel approach, you'll also need to think about how to adapt taglines, product names, slogans, and other types of content for other languages and cultures. Get local talent to help you achieve this to ensure you are not sending a confusing message to this new international audience segment.

3. Integrate Your Data Across Channels

Cross-channel analytics is an integral part of your strategy that’s often not implemented to the depth it should be to create the valuable insights for greater success. Instead, companies tend to leave their analytics in silos related to each channel. Then, they view the data separately for each channel. The better implementation strategy is to synchronize data across all channels. This uncovers how your audience interacts with more than one channel – and sometimes does so simultaneously.

The results from doing so will provide a way to make sure all the customer experiences and interactions you are creating across all the channels – email, social, mobile, web, and more – are relevant and timely for your audience. Also, it's a way to understand the impact and location of referrals. Additionally, analytics can uncover which channel combinations deliver the greatest conversion rates. That will help you optimize your spend on channel strategies such as paid social media, Google ads, and other tactics that may consume more of your budget.

4. Return to Traditional Channels

What has also happened recently is an obsessive focus on digital transformations, which means that traditional marketing channels are now being neglected. In reality, a large part of the millennial demographic prefers these old school marketing methods, especially tactics like direct mail. Determine how your audience might respond to print ads, billboards, television ads, and direct mail.

For example, a direct mail piece to a targeted local area can drive prospects and customers to your physical location. However, if you add a QRC code, they can also use that through their smartphone. This can connect them with your business through a website or social media page. In this way, your call to action is drawing customers to your online or offline presence and influencing their purchase decision. Also, you can use the traditional channel as the introduction to the new campaign. Then, follow that up with a digital rollout on email or social media a few days later. This reinforces the message and catches your audience on different channels at an optimum time.

7 Ways to Future-Proof Your Organization With Data Driven Marketing

The way prospects buy is changing. This truth has been identified by a number of studies. Even without such studies, each of us intuitively understands that our shopping habits have changed and continue to do so. Today, if we are in need of household items, we turn to Amazon. If we want to be entertained, we turn to Netflix. If we want to plan an amazing vacation, we turn to Tripadvisor or Google.

Empirically speaking, buyers research between 1 to 4 hours online before making any purchasing decisions. This was not the case a decade ago when Android did not exist and when the iPhone was just launched. Similarly, in a few years, the buying preferences of your target audience will undoubtedly have changed again.

This article is designed to help marketers prepare their marketing organizations for change. Even though we may not know what those trends will be, there are seven steps that any marketing leader can take to position their organizations for future success.

1. Embrace Data Science

Some of the world’s most successful organizations use a combination of data scientists and marketers to acquire more customers, improve customer retention, and reduce acquisition costs. The term “data science” can be applied to many different aspects of business, from software development to business operations, Marketing teams that embrace the principles of data science will be more successful because of it.

Google Trends GraphThe Google Trends chart above highlights the growing interest among all searchers in regards to data science. When it comes to marketing and data science, mining datasets for customer insights can help organizations find the right answer much faster than by relying on traditional techniques.

Businesses like MailChimp, Uber and Amazon (among countless others) have all embraced data science as a way of uncovering hidden opportunities for many different business units, including marketing. As the VP of Product Management (and previously the Chief Data Science), John Foreman says, “The data science team at MailChimp leads from the back in this way — constantly finding ways to serve other teams and our customers using analytics and data-driven products.” 

2. Create a Growth Team

Marketing teams responsible for fueling demand are essentially helping to grow the business. As a result of this focus, Growth Marketing has become a popular new trend used by companies like Hubspot, Dropbox, and Warby Parker.

Growth marketing teams are usually comprised of an eclectic mix of data-driven professionals. It is typical for growth teams to include a lead marketer who is supported by an engineer, product manager and data scientist.

When thinking about what skills a growth marketer should have, consider the “T” example shown here. The visual shows a “T” shaped skillset where growth marketers are knowledgeable about many different aspects of marketing, while also having deep knowledge about a few key areas related to growth. In this case, search engine optimization and pay per click advertising are key skills for the growth marketer represented by the diagram above.

Creating a growth marketing team will help your marketing organization to drive growth in a scalable and sustainable way, by incorporating growth strategies into many different areas of your business.

3. Measure Every Marketing Channel

The famous management consultant, Peter Drucker coined the phrase, “what gets measured gets managed.” It was true when his book The Effective Executive was published in 1967, and it is true today.

For marketing teams to be successful both today and in the future, it is important that key metrics are measured, tracked, and incorporated into company culture. Team updates should be centered around performance related to KPIs, as should individual performance evaluations.

Unfortunately, some areas of marketing—such as PPC performance or email marketing—are often over-measured while other areas are under-measured. Measurement of new social media platforms is the one facet that marketing teams should focus on, for example. After all, investing in an Instagram analytics platform like Owlmetrics can help your team get the most out of one of the fastest growing social media networks in the world.

4. Successfully Forecast Performance within a Few Percent

Being able to successfully forecast marketing performance is key when working in a data driven organization. Marketing teams that reliably forecast performance will gain trust within the organization, while also helping other teams understand what they should reasonably expect from marketing performance results.

This skill goes hand-in-hand with the idea that business will become increasingly data driven as analytics become more accessible. A great way to begin forecasting is by learning a simple exponential, or a double exponential smoothing model. This analysis takes past performance into account when predicting future performance. A double exponential model is a bit more sophisticated, as it weighs recent performance more heavily, making it perfect for organizations that are scaling quickly.

5. Set Skill Benchmarks for Your Team

The company that created telegraph infrastructure in the United States, now needs talent that is comfortable with computer programming and business intelligence. AT&T developed an expansive employee training program to bring current AT&T employees up to speed. This move allows the company to forgo costly recruiting expenses, while retaining people loyal to the company.

In a recent Harvard Business Review profiling this strategy, “AT&T estimates that, all told, 140,000 employees are actively engaged in acquiring skills for newly created roles.”

It is impossible to know exactly how marketing will change in the coming years. The only thing that is certain is that changes are coming. Businesses can prepare employees for these changes by investing in employee development. In doing so, businesses can avoid expensive recruiting costs, while retaining hard-earned on the job knowledge that can take marketing teams to new heights.

6. Experiment With Chatbots

Over 2 billion people use at least one messaging platform a minimum of once a month. The rise of social messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Kik (among others) is changing the way people communicate with one another and with brands. While in some cases, messaging platforms create marketing challenges because accessing analytics is difficult (which is why messaging platforms are called “dark social”), a few companies are already capitalizing on these new platforms.

Chatbots use either machine learning, or pre-programmed conversation trees that allow users to interact with brands through the messaging platform of their choice. Brands like Sephora and Lyft make it incredibly easy for customers to make purchases from most messaging platforms.

Sephora’s chatbot provides Facebook Messenger users with a free beauty consultation. Depending on how a user interacts with the chatbot, Sephora will recommend specific items based on that user’s needs.

Lyft also created a chatbot that works with Facebook Messenger and Slack. In just a few sentences, anyone can order a ride without even opening their Lyft app. In addition to text based messaging platforms, Lyft also integrates with Amazon Echo, so users can request a ride by voice as well.

Marketing teams of all sizes can get started with chatbots by working with a third-party software like ChattyPeople or Chatleap. Alternatively, they can outsource the work to developers that specialize in building chatbots. Marketing teams that are interested in providing a chatbot experience but would prefer doing so on a company website, can use a tool like Drift to get started.

7. Create an International Marketing Plan

Guess which country had the most people using the Internet last year. If you guessed China, take a moment to congratulate yourself. If you didn’t guess China, take a minute to educate yourself.

Over 700 million Chinese residents, which is 2.5 times more than the number of people in the United States, used the Internet last year. Similarly, over 400 million people in India used the internet last year, which is 1.5 times more than US internet users.

Marketing teams interested in scaling products to become billion dollar companies should realize that a great deal of opportunity exists internationally (regardless of where you are working as you read this article). Localization marketing can help brands access less competitive or more profitable markets while scaling customers.

Trello provides marketers with compelling evidence that highlights the effectiveness of localization marketing. Before being acquired by Atlassian for $425 million, Trello created a team of talented international marketers. These marketers helped the brand to acquire new users in markets like Brazil, Germany, and Spain by tweaking Trello’s strategy to suit local preferences.

Research whether or not a localization strategy can help your business scale more efficiently. If you find that it might be useful, consider building a team of international marketers with knowledge in the region you hope to target.

Conclusion

Marketing is sure to continue evolving as prospects change buying habits and uncover new pinpoints. For marketing teams to be prepared, it is important to focus on hiring individuals with data-driven expertise.

Businesses should invest in analytics platforms, and should ensure that marketing teams are capable of successfully forecasting performance. In order to truly prepare for the future, it is also a good idea to create some sort of training program to update current employees on the latest best practices.

What else should your business be investing in to empower the marketing team? Download the Marketer's Backpack to find out what questions and insights marketers should be pursuing in order to make the most of your marketing strategy.

Marketers Backpack

Geolocation-Based Marketing in 2017: The Impact on Businesses

The ongoing use of mobile devices by consumers means that companies have a much better way of tracking where their customers are going. Knowing where they are thanks to geolocation technology means that a new marketing opportunity has emerged that can maximize the return you invest in marketing. Now, companies can leverage geolocation-based marketing to reach out with personalized, local messaging, promotions, and other strategies designed to raise leads and encourage impulse purchases.

A New Language

The marketing language has changed with the introduction of geolocation. First, there is geosocial networking. Consumers commonly use this to check in from their current location on social media sites like Facebook or Foursquare. Second, there are location-based services. Consumers leverage this service to learn what is nearby like a restaurant, shop, or gas station. Also, marketers can offer promotions or messages at just the right time. That's because they have each mobile device's geographic position.

Then, there is what's known as geofencing. This is a marketing tactic that involves putting a virtual perimeter out there. When people enter that with their mobile devices, they then receive specific alerts, messages, or promotions.

Who is Using Geolocation-Based Marketing?

The Location Based Marketing Association generated an infographic from research conducted by The Pew Center that illustrated just how widespread this type of marketing has become due to the increased use of mobile and social location services among consumers. Their findings included the fact that 58% of adults with smartphones have used location-based services while 55% of these have used it for directions or recommendations.

With the majority of adults now using smartphones, there is the potential that more people of all ages and backgrounds will adopt some type of location service or feature. Companies and consumers all over the world use geolocation services. Therefore, this means more opportunities for marketers.

Geolocation: An Evolving Marketing Process

It is also important to understand how technology furthers geolocation services. Sensors are an integral component. This includes Bluetooth Low Energy beacons, microchips, and sensors and microchips that power near-field communications (NFC). It's this technology that also enables mobile payments. There are also geofences, which incorporate technology like GPS, WiFi, electromagnetic fields or RFID.

Beyond technology, marketers still have to be aware of other factors if they want the technology to be effective. That means understanding where your customers are coming from and where they are headed. You'll also need to figure out what gets their attention and admiration. All the technology in the world identifying where a customer does not matter unless the marketer has the context for the various types of experiences that customers go through, it won't yield results. As the technology evolves, a marketer must still be that human point of context that can integrate that very necessary perspective about behavior and customer expectations. An Immediate Impact

The real impact is in the benefits that this marketing strategy is providing to companies of all sizes and across multiple industries. Here are some of the key ways you can gain an advantage quickly:

  • Social media sites offer location-based searches that allow you to find prospects by city, region, or country. This is ideal when you have a physical location and want to draw customers to your business. Targeted marketing messages are sent to these prospects. These include a special or promotion as an incentive.
  • You can receive an alert when customers are in a certain area. This allows you to interact with them. Customers like to know that you are interested in what they are doing. This can quickly increase the engagement level with them, especially if you can tie some reward to it. When they are walking into your store, use a geolocation alert you and send them a greeting with timed promotions or a coupon to increase the chances of them buying while there. Even beyond a purchase then, it can also encourage them to come back again in the future.
Long-Term Benefits Then, there are advantages that can be achieved over time:
  • While the ability to incite impulse decisions is a great benefit, the results don't have to always be immediate to get your ROI. For example, the geolocation data leads to a profile of buying habits. This profile shapes future marketing campaigns. This profile can also include dates so that you know when to follow-up with certain customers. An analytics platform assists with developing this profile.
  • Other information that comes from the geolocation data an tell you where they went in your store and how long they stayed. This also can impact other marketing endeavors, including store layout, in-store promotions, and product placement. This approach improves their experience. 
Things to Remember

When it comes to geolocation-based marketing, you still must proceed with caution. While customers like the engagement and attention, they are also very concerned about their privacy and maintaining some distance. That means finding the right balance between respecting those boundaries and taking the available data to do something that enhances customer experiences. A best practice is to use an opt-in arrangement for location-based services. That way, users can choose to agree with this sharing or not. For those that do connect with your business this way, you can target even more precisely as well as engage in new and exciting ways. It also delivers a win-win for a sustained relationship.

When you can personalize the customer experience across channels, you can provide a unique experience that increases customer loyalty and satisfaction. But in order to do that successfully, you'll need to know how. Download the Personalization Playbook for more information on how to make it happen.

Personalization Playbook

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