Category Archives: Marketing

Why Email Marketing Still Rules (Plus 3 Tips to Increase Engagement)

Email marketing is like an old friend. It’s been around for years. It doesn’t surprise you much anymore. You may even find it a little boring sometimes. But at the end of the day, you know you can depend on it.

Even with the emergence of more exciting engagement tactics, email marketing has remained a key method for reaching your audience.

In fact, nearly 70% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 prefer companies communicate with them through email, according to MarketingSherpa research. That number’s even higher among 35- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 54-year-olds.

Regardless of how people feel about email communications, many marketers’ email campaigns are failing to connect with customers.

Nearly half of the marketers who participated in a recent Demand Metric/Return Path study reported email open rates of 15% or less, while almost 60% cited click-through rates of 8% or less.

But that isn’t because email marketing is past its prime. It’s because too many marketers have neglected the recent paradigm shift. Namely, today’s customers have become much more sophisticated about how they consume content.

Here are three easy ways you can improve your email marketing efforts to better connect with your audience and increase engagement:

1. Segment your lists

The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out who you should be talking to—and why.

Some of the most popular characteristics marketers use to segment their lists include:

  • Job title or function
  • Demographics
  • Purchase history
  • Website activity
  • Past email clicks or opens

Why is this important? For one, people’s inboxes are overflowing with marketing emails. If you insist on sending messages that fail to pique their interests, they’ll quickly tune out.

Say you’re trying to engage a chief human resources officer (CHRO) audience. Sending those executives HR content isn’t enough. Instead, you need to focus on their particular industries and needs.

A CHRO in the rapidly growing high-tech industry, for example, would likely be interested in information around talent recruitment.

Meanwhile, a CHRO in a legacy industry—where decades-long employees are nearing retirement—would gravitate more toward content on workforce management and succession planning.

Segmenting your lists gives you a chance to customize your communications, creating tailor-made messages that resonate with your intended audience.

2. Trigger your messaging

As a marketer, you’ve heard the phrase “email blast.” Does it make you cringe? It should.

Rather than sending emails to large, unorganized lists of contacts, you need to strategically engage.

Launching a triggered messaging program—using innovative email marketing software—can help. It allows you to contact customers and prospects based on actions or conditions.

For instance, if someone abandoned their online shopping cart on your ecommerce site, you could send them a strategically timed discount offer. Or, if a person attended your recent software showcase, you could send them an exclusive invite to register early for the next event in town.

By making each of your interactions more meaningful, you’ll earn more customer trust and gain greater influence over their buying decisions.

3. Take advantage of your data

In modern marketing, data is a priceless commodity. And while most marketers recognize that, too few use it like the valuable currency it is. Instead, they treat these precious golden nuggets like knickknacks on some dusty, old shelf.

But for email marketing to have real impact, data must be front and center. Marketers need to capitalize on the information at their fingertips to learn more about their audience and personalize their communications.

That could mean studying device data to better understand how customers view emails and then optimizing messages for mobile. Or it could mean analyzing complaint data to determine optimal email cadences.

Even information that doesn’t seem relevant can be useful. Evaluating how customers behave on a website or social media channel can provide a more vivid picture of their interests, enabling you to improve how you engage with them.

Deliver quality communications

Putting these three ideas into practice will help you elevate your email game. This will:

  • Engender trust between you and your customers—because you’re not bugging them with emails at all hours of the day.
  • Prove you’re tuned in to their needs—because you’re only sending them relevant information.
  • Show you’re listening to them—because you’re providing value, not just trying to sell them stuff.

That’s all your email subscribers are looking for today. And they, along with their inboxes, aren’t going anywhere—especially now that you have these three tips to increase engagement.

Download The Definitive Guide to Engaging Email Marketing to learn more.

The post Why Email Marketing Still Rules (Plus 3 Tips to Increase Engagement) appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

BBB Accreditation: What It Is & Why It Matters to Your Business

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a private, nonprofit company that offers accreditation to businesses that meet a standard of trustworthiness and quality. This BBB accreditation also comes with a rating from A+ to F; those that receive accreditation with a high rating are more likely to attract quality-seeking consumers and increase sales. Becoming accredited…

The post BBB Accreditation: What It Is & Why It Matters to Your Business appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Twitter Ads Campaigns: A Simple Setup Guide

Twitter is a great marketing channel for driving traffic and generating leads. In fact, 63% of Twitter users follow small businesses — it’s no wonder that companies can see actual growth from this platform.

If you’re not yet using Twitter for business purposes, or want to get better at it, keep reading. You’ll learn how you can use Twitter ad campaigns to reach the audiences you care about.

Do you already have a Twitter account? If so, you know how to use its free functions: tweeting, following, and customizing your profile. But because businesses are meant to grow, so too is your social media presence.

To expand your reach and grow your follower list on Twitter, consider supplementing your organic efforts with the paid promotional opportunities Twitter has built right into the platform. Using Twitter Ads is an easy way to get your tweets in front of the audiences that don’t yet follow you, which is particularly useful for generating new leads for your business.

And you don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune on it, either — Twitter ads can be effective even on a relatively small budget.

So, how do you get started? Let’s walk through the basic steps to setting up a Twitter ad and how to decide on the best structure for your campaign.

How to Advertise on Twitter

1. Choose between “Promote Mode” and “Twitter Ads.”

get-started-twitter-ads

Visit this menu screen to get started. The first decision you need to make when setting up your Twitter ads is whether you’d like to promote individual tweets or run an entire ad campaign for a specific purpose.

Promoted Tweets vs. Twitter Ads

Promoted tweets will allow your tweets to appear in the Twitter streams or Twitter search results of specific users. Running Twitter Ads is a more holistic campaign, using multiple groups of tweets to accomplish a single goal for your brand. Depending on your objective, Twitter Ads can display your username in places other than a user’s newsfeed, such as the “Who to Follow” section to the right of their Twitter homepage.

To learn more about promoted tweets, skip to the next section below this list of steps.

How do I choose?

If you’re simply looking to get more eyeballs on a webpage, promoted tweets might be just the thing you need. In this option, you pay a flat monthly fee for as long as you’re promoting a tweet. It’s perfect for gaining focused exposure on (and generating leads from) a particular aspect of your business.

If you’re looking to grow your follower base and/or build up your audience, Twitter Ads offer a bit more firepower. In the steps below, you’ll learn how to harness it.

2. Select your Twitter Ad’s objective.

twitter-ads-objectives

Promoted tweets are fairly easy to set up, and you can learn about this process in the section at the bottom of this blog post. To launch a Twitter Ad campaign, however, your next step is determining your objective. You have eight objectives to choose from, and you can see an elaboration of each objective once you select one on the Twitter Ads page linked in Step 1 of this article.

  • App installs
  • Followers
  • Tweet engagements
  • Promoted video views
  • Website clicks or conversions
  • App re-engagements
  • In-stream video views (pre-roll)
  • Awareness

Promoted Accounts

Ad campaigns focused on followers, the second objective listed above, are also known as “Promoted Accounts.” This type of campaign allows you to promote your profile, rather than a series of tweets, in your target audience’s newsfeeds and on the profile pages of the other accounts they care about.

3. Fill in the details your ad campaign.

Once you choose an objective, you’ll be taken to a page where you can name your campaign, a start and end date for your campaign, and your campaign’s total budget. Depending on the objective you chose in Step 2, you might have other details to fill in that are unique to your ad. If your objective is app installs, for example, this step will require you to connect your app to Twitter, and then select this app from the dropdown shown below.

twitter-app-installs-dropdown

When determining how much money you want to invest in a Twitter Ads campaign, you’ll set a daily budget and an optional total budget. Throughout the day, your daily budget will pay Twitter your set amount at the specific cadence you can set yourself.

The cadence of your promoted content can be set to “Standard (recommended),” which shows ads to your target audience at intervals Twitter deems most efficient; or “Accelerated,” which shows your ads as much as possible throughout the day. Accelerated ads cater to ad campaigns you want to perform well in a short amount of time.

4. Create an ad group within your campaign.

twitter-campaign-ad-groups

Next, you’ll create an ad group for your campaign — there should be at least one pre-created on the lefthand side of your Twitter Ads page. To create more than one ad group, select “Copy ad group” to the righthand side of your current ad group and you’ll see new ones appear in your ad campaign’s framework, as shown above.

Ad groups are individual ads that consist of their own budgets, audiences, and start and end times — but operate under the umbrella of your larger campaign.

For example, if you have a two-week Twitter Ads campaign with the objective of website clicks and a budget of $100, you can also create one or more ad groups that run for just a couple of days each, promote separate webpages on your website, and target different types of Twitter users. You’ll see how to set these parameters in the next few steps.

In the “Details” tab, shown above, enter an ad group name, a start and end time, a budget for the ad group, and a bid type. Bid types allow you to “bid” on a promoted ad placement. Ad placements will cost different amounts depending on your audience and where the ad appears on Twitter, and you can set your ad group to bid for placement in one of three ways:

  • Automatic bid: This type of bid permits Twitter to bill you the most cost-effective amount every time your audience engages with your ad content. The cost Twitter bills you is based on your ad group’s budget and audience parameters.
  • Maximum bid: This type of bid gives you full control over how much money you’re willing to pay every time your audience engages with your ad content.
  • Target bid: This type of bid allows you to specify how much money from your ad group’s budget you’d like Twitter to bill you every time your audience engages with your ad content. The price you’re billed will reflect the daily average cost of each ad placement within your audience.

5. Select your target audience for each ad group.

Beneath the “Details” tab of your ad group, select “Targeting.” This is where you’ll set the parameters of your target audience.

It’s important to customize your audience to be a good fit for your company and your message. That way, you’re only paying for engagement from folks who might have some interest in downloading your content or learning more about your product or service. A more targeted audience is more likely to help you generate qualified leads.

What are my options?

To select an audience for each ad group you create, you’ll customize the following criteria:

  • Gender: If your product or service caters primarily to either males or females, you should take advantage of the gender targeting option.
  • Age: Setting an age range is helpful for advertisements that are promoting a product or event that has either a particular age restriction or scope of interest.
  • Location: You’ll want to target by location if you run a local business, or if you sell primarily to specific regions (whether that’s your city or North America).
  • Language: This criterion might need to be used in tandem with the location filter, described above, if an ad is targeting a region of the world that speaks a language other than English.
  • Device: This is a great targeting option if your product or service caters more specifically to people on the go, or if your website visitors are most likely to convert on your offer when they’re in the office.
  • Audience features: These include keywords, movies & shows, conversation topics, events, and related interests.

You can also select which devices you’d like your promoted tweets to be displayed on — any combination of desktop and the various mobile devices.

Targeting by Keywords

Targeting by “keywords” — an option included in the “Audience features” field, listed above — allows you to reach people that search, tweet about, or engage with specific keywords. For example, if I’m promoting HubSpot’s ebook, How to Use Twitter for Business, I might filter my audience by keywords I consider relevant to this advertisement, like this:

twitter-keywords-audience-targeting

This audience targeting criterion is helpful if you want to know exactly how many Twitter users are currently using a keyword. As you can see in the screenshot above, the keyword “marketing” is being used by 7.67 million people. This data can help you decide between topics that seem similar but have different levels of popularity you wouldn’t know about otherwise.

Targeting by Interests and Followers

Targeting by interests and followers allows you to create a list of Twitter usernames and then target users whose interests are similar to the interests of those users’ followers.

A great use of this type of targeting is when compiling a small list of the top influencers in your industry. For example, to promote HubSpot’s How to Use Twitter for Business ebook, I’ll want to target an audience of users interested in social media. Targeting by interests and followers allows me to say, “show these tweets to people who are like so-and-so’s followers.” As a result, I’ve created a large audience that’s still tailored to the topic of my content.

With this targeting option, you can also add a list of interest categories. So, for example, I could say, “show these tweets to people interested in marketing, social media, or lead generation.” Again, this creates a broad audience focused on the topic of the content or products you’re promoting.

6. Select the creatives you’d like to run with each ad group.

Your last task in creating a Twitter Ads campaign is to choose the creatives you want to run with each ad group belonging to your campaign. “Creatives” are simply the tweets you want to promote, and you can select them from the list of tweets that appear under each ad group’s Creatives tab. Select the “Creatives” tab beneath the Targeting tab to get started.

This is the fun part. You can either select from existing tweets in your account or create new ones.

To compose a new tweet, click the blue quill icon to the far right of your Creatives screen. When crafting a new tweet, you can check the “Promoted-only” button if you’d only like to promote it through your Twitter Ads campaign, and not have the tweet appear organically on your followers’ newsfeeds. See what this option looks like below.

promoted-only-tweet

In addition to promoting your tweets on your audiences’ timelines, you can also choose to have your tweets appear in users’ profiles and the detail pages of specific twitter conversations. The benefit of this type of targeting is that it helps you define a more qualified audience, since these people are actively looking for or engaging with those specific keywords that are relevant to your offer. You can select this option on the righthand side of your Creatives tab, as shown below.

where-your-promoted-ads-appear

7. Review and launch your campaign.

Finally, select the “Review your campaign” button, as shown above, to look over your campaign details. If everything looks correct, hit “Launch campaign” at the top-righthand corner of your screen to run the campaign.

How to Promote a Tweet

Promoting tweets allows you to show critical pieces of content to a wide audience and drive views to the landing pages that generate leads for your business. This Twitter Ads option gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of the content you want potential viewers and customers to see.

Here’s a quick definition of this ad so you can understand how it differs from the ad campaign we walked you through in the above section:

Here’s how to promote a tweet:

1. Select “Promote Mode” from the campaign menu and click “Get started.”

You’ll start from the same place you start when creating a full, multi-tweet Twitter Ads campaign: This menu screen. Once there, click “Get started.” When you’re done, click “Next” on the top-righthand corner of the page.

2. Select your promoted tweet’s country and timezone.

Currently, you can only promote tweets to audiences in the U.S., the U.K., and Japan. Start creating your ad by selecting of these three options, as well as your intended timezone. When you’re done, click “Next” on the top-righthand corner of the page.

3. Choose either “Interests” or “Location” as your targeting method.

Twitter can promote tweets to an audience based on their interests or location. Choose one of these methods and follow Step 4 or Step 5, below, depending on your choice.

4. Choose up to five interests associated with your target audience.

audience-interests-promoted-tweets

If you choose to target an audience based on their interests, select this option, hit “Next,” and Twitter will take you to the page shown above. Here, you can select a maximum of five interests related to your ideal audience.

Keep in mind the more interests you select, the more types of people your promoted tweet will appear in front of.

5. Choose up to five locations associated with your target audience.

audience-location-promoted-tweetsIf you choose to target an audience based on their location, select this option, hit “Next,” and Twitter will take you to the page shown above. Here, you can search a specific city, state, and country where you want your ad to appear.

You can select up to five locations where you’d like your tweet to be promoted. Keep in mind you can only place promoted tweets in front of users who live in the U.S., the U.K., or Japan.

6. Review your ad criteria and select “Proceed.”

Once you’ve customized your audience’s interests or location, hit “Next” and Twitter will show you an overview of your ad criteria, including your bill.

Sound good to you? Review your ad criteria and check that you agree to the Twitter Promote Mode’s Terms of Service at the bottom of this page. Then, click “Proceed” on the top-righthand corner of your screen.

7. Add your billing information and launch your promoted tweet.

If you haven’t yet added billing information, Twitter will ask you to enter it in the following screen. Select “Save” and follow the prompts to officially promote your tweet.

There you have it! No matter which type of Twitter ad you create, be sure to keep an eye on your campaigns as they run and continue to optimize them for better results in the future.

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How to Build Brand Loyalty on Your Landing Page

Your landing page is your opportunity to make an impression on your target audience. If it connects on an emotional level and has a clear and transparent purpose, site visitors are more likely to identify with your brand. Building loyalty often takes a bit more time, but your landing page is a start to a long-term relationship with new customers.

For most businesses, around 65% of their revenue comes from an existing customer base. Connecting with your customers to build a relationship from the moment they land on your page through the ordering process is key to remaining competitive in your industry.

Though many elements tie into how loyal people are to one brand over others, we’re going to go right back to the beginning—that first impression when a user lands on your page, and how you can build brand loyalty from the first few seconds when a new customer sees what you offer.

1. Consider Visual Aesthetics

It takes milliseconds for someone to form a first impression of your website. The overall design has a significant impact on whether the person stays or bounces away. Building brand loyalty is difficult if the person can’t stand to look at your page because of the design. A visually pleasing design draws site visitors in and keeps them there long enough for you to make an impression.

2. Place Contact Info Front and Center

Place your contact button where users see it from the minute they land on your page. Would you want to do business with a company lacking contact information? In addition to a contact button, consider having a live chat feature or a toll-free number right near the top of the page. These elements should be above the fold so users see them the instant your page loads.

Isaacs & Isaacs offers an excellent landing page to begin to build trust with potential clients. When you land on the page, the phone number is at the top, and a live chat feature appears in both the upper right and the lower right corners of the screen. Placing the live chat button in multiple locations encourages interaction and shows this company wants its site visitors to get in touch.

3. Focus on Voice Branding

Voice is the wave of the future online—about 27% of the younger generation uses voice search on their mobile devices. Podcasts grow in popularity from year to year, and people expect a level of interactivity never before seen online.

Voice branding is the wave of the future. The average person listens to several hours of audio content each day, and the majority of Americans listen to weekly audio podcasts. One way of developing loyalty is showing site visitors you offer a podcast and voice search from the minute they land on your page.

4. Personalize Results

Create more than one landing page to tailor your content to different audience segments. For example, if you have locations in two cities, target locals in City 1 with one landing page, and users in City 2 with a second landing page. The more specific you make the pages for each audience, the higher the chances they’ll become loyal fans of your business.

Sotheby's International Realty Landing Page Example

Sotheby’s International Realty features properties all over the globe, but when you land on their homepage, they target your area and show you properties that might be of the most interest to you.

Note the Florida property that appears above, and how it is in the same country as the user who accessed the site. A Canadian visitor, meanwhile, might see property in Alberta. The image varies, but other elements remain the same, creating a personalized landing page that speaks to each user and their interests.

5. Create a Streamlined Experience

The user experience of your site is something customers tend to remember. Have you ever visited a website and grown so frustrated over non-working features or hard-to-find pages that you bounced away and went to a competitor’s site instead? Aggravating your customers is the opposite of building brand loyalty with your website.

Instead, ensure every element on your landing page works seamlessly. Test all buttons and make sure the sales funnel is clear, so users go from landing on your page to the action you’d like them to take almost instinctively. If you aren’t sure whether your landing page performs well, implement some split-testing models and see what elements need changing and what works well.

6. Offer a Loyalty Reward

Another essential item on your landing page is placing your loyalty program front and center. If users feel rewarded for doing business with you and telling others about you, they’re far more likely to return to your brand for future purchases. Discounts increase the likelihood a consumer does business with you by about 77%, so place discount info and programs front and center on your landing page to encourage brand loyalty.

Kings Island Landing Page Example

Kings Island offers a season pass with a lot of extra perks if you sign up. Not only is it cheaper to visit multiple times, but Gold Pass holders get free parking, discounts on food and bring-a-friend discounts. By highlighting the season pass and the benefits of it on their landing page, they attract loyal park visitors who will buy the pass year after year.

7. Make an Emotional Connection

In a recent study, experts found companies that make an emotional connection have customers with a 306% higher lifetime value, and who are much more likely to recommend the brand to others. Your landing page must make an emotional connection with your readers, and the best way to do that is to figure out what their emotional pain points are.

If you sell kitchen tables, perhaps you could create an appeal to people who want a cozy kitchen where the kids can do their homework, and the whole family can gather. You would then tap into those emotions to grab the user’s attention and show them you understand where they’re coming from. Tapping into their emotions begins building brand loyalty because you seem to understand the consumer.

8. Remain Consistent

Keep your landing page consistent with the overall tone and look of your brand. Around 63% of consumers say brand consistency impacts whether they spend money with a brand. If a customer visits your Facebook page and then your landing page, the overall look should offer recognizable symmetry.

Gain Trust

In addition to the minor elements that draw in users and make them want to give your brand a try, pay attention to trust indicators. Add reviews of your brand, testimonials, and any memberships in industry organizations or business organizations. When a consumer sees others are happy with what you offer and you aren’t afraid to put reviews of your brand out there, they are much more likely to give you a chance and begin building a relationship that creates loyalty.

The post How to Build Brand Loyalty on Your Landing Page appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Social Media Statistics to Keep You on Track in 2019

Social media is an invaluable marketing tool, but it also changes rapidly, leaving businesses wondering how to adapt their strategies. Thankfully, there’s lots of data on social media usage to help direct your methods. Here are some statistics that can shed some light on how and where your social media marketing dollars are best spent….

The post Social Media Statistics to Keep You on Track in 2019 appeared first on Fit Small Business.

How To Force Q&A On a GMB Page That Doesn’t Have It

Here’s a stupid little GMB Q&A thing I figured out yesterday I thought you all might enjoy.

I was asked by mi nuevo amigo, Ruben Coll Molina of PA Digital in Spain, what is the event that triggers the Q&A functionality in a GMB profile? Ruben had found that some of their SMB customers did not have the functionality. He sent me to this SERP for “nouvelle couquette”, a clothing store in Torrent, Spain. At the time, their GMB did not display the “Ask a Question” module like this:

Ok, I doctored it. Of course I forgot to take a “before” screenshot, but trust me, I’m an SEO consultant…

Anyhow, I searched for “women’s clothing stores in Torrent, Spain,” got a local pack then clicked on the “More Places” link and saw Nouvelle Couquette listed in the Google Maps Local Finder, but this time it had the Q&A widget, but no questions had been asked:

Nouvelle Couquette Local FInder

On a hunch, using my best 7th grade Spanish, I asked a question:

Una Pregunta Excellente

Ruben answered:

A few seconds later we witnessed El Milagro de Las Preguntas y Respuestas:

Quien es mas macho?

The post How To Force Q&A On a GMB Page That Doesn’t Have It appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

What's a Website Title (Title Tag) & Why Does It Matter for SEO?

To consider what a title tag is, and why it matters for SEO, let’s start with an example.

Let’s say I’m a true beginner in the marketing industry, and I don’t even have a firm grasp on what marketing is — so I turn to Google, and I type in my question, “What is marketing?”

With my question, I’m likely not looking for “marketing best practices” or “10 best marketing campaigns of 2018”. Sure, both of those titles have my keyword “marketing” in them, but they won’t answer my direct question.

So Google, understanding my intent, serves me this:

Undoubtedly, you can see how a title benefits both a user and a search engine.

While HubSpot’s “What Is Marketing? [FAQ]” piece needs to be compelling — and follow other SEO tactics — to land on page one of Google, it will never reach its desired audience with the wrong title.

A title, then, enables users to see what a web page’s content is about — and, equally importantly, tells search engines how it should rank the page.

A search engine knows the title of a web page by finding a title tag in the code — for instance, on “What Is Marketing? [FAQ]”, a search engine will find this in the HTML:

Along with being helpful for search engines and users, a title tag is also useful when someone has multiple tabs open. For instance, let’s say a user is researching marketing extensively, and using your resource as one of many (or, procrastinating on Facebook … ).

When the user needs to return to your web page, she can find the correct tab via your page’s title:

Now that we’ve covered why website titles matter, here are a few best practices when it comes to creating a good title tag:

  • Keep it short, ideally under 60 characters
  • Don’t use caps
  • Don’t overdo keywords in the title — for instance, don’t title your piece, “What Is Marketing? Marketing Tips, Marketing Facts, Marketing General Information”
  • Write compelling copy that would make you want to click on the link
  • Make it relevant to the page itself
  • Make your <h2> keywords different from the title tag
  • Include your brand in the title, i.e. “Best Advertising Campaigns – Advertising Age

To further strengthen your titles, take a look at How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can’t Resist.

1. 10 Best Nike Sneakers in 2019 [Buying Guide]

2. Top 15 Ad Campaigns of the 21st Century – Advertising Age

3. The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Hashtags for 2019 – HubSpot Blog

4. 34 Essential Things to Know Before You Visit China – Y Travel Blog

5. A Novel Way to Boost Client Satisfaction – Harvard Business Review

6. SEO Is Back. Thank God. – New York Magazine

7. Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company – Medium

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this  audit.  

The Best Time to Post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & Pinterest

Social media is one of the best ways to amplify your brand and the great content you’re creating. But it isn’t enough to just post content to social whenever you feel like it. Some times are better than others.

So, what are the best hours to post on each social media channel?

Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer. People browse each social network differently, and businesses may find different days and times work best for them. For example, while Twitter sees tweets perform well at hours like 6 PM, Pinterest sees certain posts perform well as late at 2 AM.

These aren’t your only (or best) times, though. Good post timing depends on the platform you’re using, as well as on how your target audience interacts with that platform, the regions and corresponding time zones you’re targeting, and your marketing goals (e.g., clickthroughs versus shares).

However, there is ample data out there on the best time to post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The great folks at CoSchedule recently looked at a combination of its own original data and more than a dozen studies on this very topic — from the likes of Buffer and Quintly, just to name a couple — and created a helpful list of ideal posting times based on industry trends across today’s most popular social networks. The industries they analyzed include:

  • B2C
  • B2B
  • Software
  • Healthcare
  • Media
  • Higher Education

Bookmark this post as a go-to set of guidelines, and refer to it next time you need to find the optimal posting times for your business.

With many businesses facing a growing global audience, varying time zones have become a growing concern, especially when it comes to the best times to post.

To start, let’s take a look at the U.S. About half of the country’s population is in the Eastern Time Zone, and combined with the Central Time Zone, that accounts for over 75% of the total U.S population.

Given that sizable share, if you’re targeting a U.S. audience, try alternating posting times in Eastern and Central Time Zones — we’ll get into those specific times in a bit.

If you’re targeting users outside of the U.S., conduct some research to find out where they live and which social media channels they’re using. That kind of data is available through studies like Smart Insights’ Global Social Media Research Summary, or We Are Social’s annual Digital Global Overview.

1. Best Time to Post on Instagram

Instagram is meant for use on mobile devices. Approximately 60% of its U.S. users use the app daily, though it would appear that many engage with content more during off-work hours than during the workday.

  • On average, the best times to post on Instagram across industries are 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM, during lunch and the end of the typical work day, respectively.
  • B2B organizations have the most times of high-clickthrough rates to choose from: 12:00 – 1:00 PM, 5:00 – 6:00 PM, and even as late as 8:00 – 9:00 PM when people are winding down for the day.
  • The best day to post on Instagram is Friday.

2. Best Time to Post on Facebook

People log in to Facebook on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it’s used depends heavily on the audience.

  • On average, the best time to post across industries is 9:00 AM, when people are just starting work and going online for the first time.
  • Facebook sees another increase in clickthrough rates between 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, when folks are take their lunch break.
  • The hours of 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM are also promising posting times for B2C, B2B, software, and higher-ed organizations.
  • The best days to post on Facebook are Thursday to Sunday.

3. Best Time to Post on Twitter

Like Facebook, people use Twitter on both mobile devices and desktop computers, both at work and at home. How it’s used also depends heavily on audience — but people often treat it like an RSS feed, and something to read during downtimes in their day, like commutes, work breaks, and so on.

  • Good times to tweet average around 8:00 – 10:00 AM, as well as 6:00 – 9:00 PM — which makes sense, given that it correlates with both morning and evening commutes.
  • B2C companies have the most hours to choose from where they would see heightened clickthrough rates on their content: 8:00 – 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and then 7:00 – 9:00 PM.
  • If your goal is to maximize retweets and clickthroughs, aim for noon or 5–6 p.m.
  • For B2C companies, the best days to tweet are weekends. For B2B companies, the best days to tweet are weekdays. Coincidence? Not really. If you think about it, people shop for business needs when they’re working (weekdays) and personal needs when they’re off work (weekends).

4. Best Time to Post on LinkedIn

Roughly 25% of U.S. adults use LinkedIn, largely for professional purposes, during weekdays and the work hours. It’s used with slightly less frequency than some of the other channels on this list.

  • Aim to post on LinkedIn between 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM.
  • B2C, media, and higher-ed organizations have the narrowest windows for when to post for maximum performance: 12:00 PM, 8:00 AM, and 10:00 AM are their best times, respectively.
  • The best day to post on LinkedIn is Wednesday.

5. Best Time to Post on Pinterest

Pinterest users skew heavily female, and 29% of users are active on this channel on a regular basis.

  • The best times to post on Pinterest are 8:00 – 11:00 PM and, interestingly, 2:00 – 4:00 AM. This could indicate some interest in the platform in non-North American time zones, which means global content is all the more important here.
  • Contrasting many of the other channels we’ve listed here, evening commutes tend to be some of the worst times to post to Pinterest. That could be due to the fact that it’s not as “browseable,” with many pins requiring navigation away from the channel.

There you have it, folks. Keep in mind that although each social network sees its engagement and clickthrough rates increase at specific hours and days of the week, your how much engagement you get depends on your audience and content you publish for them. Perhaps you’ve established a weekly video series that your audience always expects to see on Friday morning. In this case, don’t listen to the data above — you have an agreement with you followers, and this day and time works just for you.

Happy posting, tweeting, and pinning.

Free Template Social Media Content Calendar

Why Big Data Means Big Responsibility for CMOs

The CMO’s position in the C-suite hierarchy has been elevated significantly over the past several years, thanks in large part to the rise of big data. With the right data at their fingertips, modern marketers can now target customers with surgical precision, as well as provide CEOs with evidence that their initiatives are working.

And get this: Big data isn’t even all that big yet. At  CES earlier this year, it was said that our world produces roughly 43 million terabytes of data every single day. That sounds like a lot, but in 2019 and beyond, we’ll undoubtedly see an explosion in the number of connected devices coming online. As such, the International Data Corporation, a global market intelligence firm, predicts that businesses and consumers will be generating 163 zettabytes of data per year by 2025.

For some marketers, this future can’t get here fast enough. Others, though, might find the possibilities less exciting because of one inescapable reality: All that data doesn’t come without risk.

Please Use Responsibly

This past October, the Association of National Advertisers and other trade bodies launched a new “Data Transparency Label” in an effort to improve consistency in data reporting. As most marketers know, a large number of disparate data sources that often report data in different ways isn’t exactly a marketing panacea, but rather a potential landmine. The new label was created to facilitate the responsible use of consumer data by reputable marketers, as well as improve the consumer experience as it pertains to branded content and advertising.

The move is just one example of how advertisers are attempting to show consumers that they can be trusted with data. Of course, not all consumers are averse to sacrificing privacy in exchange for relevant content delivered at the right time and in the right context. For many, this transaction has become an expectation—and sometimes, it can be tough for marketers to walk the line between meeting consumers where they are and invading their privacy.

For example, a recent study conducted by Selligent Marketing Cloud, which surveyed more than 7,000 consumers around the world, found that 70% of consumers think it’s important that brands understand their customers’ specific situations (such as age, location, and marital status) in order to provide a more customized marketing experience. And a third of consumers say they expect brands to anticipate their needs before they come up. Yet, according to the same survey, only one in five consumers were willing to provide this type of personal data upfront, and 88% were concerned that their data would be shared across companies without their consent. So, while consumers are craving personalized marketing experiences, many are still concerned about the privacy issues surrounding data.

Data is certainly powerful. But like all powerful tools, it must be ushered into society safely and responsibly, and that responsibility rests largely on the shoulders of the marketers who deploy it. For CMOs and other marketing leaders seeking to take advantage of big data in a way that won’t backfire, here are three strategies to keep in mind:

1. Create Some Ground Rules

Visitors to this year’s CES convention probably noticed a huge Apple advertisement overlooking the Las Vegas Convention Center from the side of a nearby hotel. The ad copy read, “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone,” and its message was clear: Apple won’t sell user data.

While the ad was certainly a shot at rivals Google and Amazon, both of which had a huge presence at the convention, it provides a great example of how brands can approach data management.

Assess your business goals in the context of your organization’s larger mission or vision, and create some simple, unambiguous rules for how you’ll manage consumer data. Draw a line in the sand and clearly define your stance, whatever it may be.

2. Find the Right People

Organizations in virtually every industry will increasingly need to be able to recruit, develop, and retain trained and qualified people who can translate data into relevant actions and insight.

As the regulatory environment around data sharing and usage continues to evolve, it will be especially important to have people on your staff who understand what compliance means now and how you can continue to ensure compliance in the future. These employees must be able to communicate that understanding to every member of the C-suite, as well as to other members of your organization.

3. Analyze and Iterate

In 2019 and beyond, CMOs will likely be asked to present their data management strategies to boards, shareholders, and colleagues. By carefully monitoring your approach on an ongoing basis (and tracking missteps, hurdles, and successes), you’ll be in a position to provide transparent feedback when required. You don’t have to get everything right immediately, but you should be able to demonstrate consistent progress in the way you’re using the data at your disposal.

When it comes to managing consumer data, transparency is critical. As a CMO or marketing leader, you don’t have to know everything about how data is collected and stored, but you must know how it’s used. Moreover, you should be able to communicate your strategy for making the most of data while minimizing risk, knowing that each will be critically important in the months and years ahead.

The post Why Big Data Means Big Responsibility for CMOs appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

6 Best Domain Registrars 2019

A domain registrar allows you to search for and buy a domain to use with your business’ website and email address. We reviewed 20+ registrars to find the six best — including the best overall — that offer affordable .com and .net extensions, tools to prevent domain theft, matching email addresses, and helpful customer support….

The post 6 Best Domain Registrars 2019 appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Walmart’s Hello Bello Signals Shifting Trends

Walmart doesn’t just want the last word in affordable-premium products with its new Hello Bello – it wants the first word. And that word is “goo-goo.”

With the aid of a celebrity partnership, Walmart is using its price-reducing scale to appeal to cost-conscious parents who do not want to scrimp on high value. The superstore chain has aligned with the likeable acting couple Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”) and Dax Shepard (“Parenthood,” “The Ranch”) on an exclusive line of plant-based baby-care products, from diapers to detergent, called “Hello Bello.”

In doing so, Walmart is acknowledging a broadening demand for more transparency in ingredients. The global market for natural and organic personal-care goods is projected to escalate to nearly $30 billion by 2028, from $12.1 billion in 2017, according to Persistence Market Research. North America accounts for more than a third of that spending.

That’s a lot of hustle in what not too long ago was considered a niche market, and Walmart apparently recognizes that challenge as well: By exclusively partnering with Bell and Shepard, parents themselves, Walmart is betting not just on the couple’s co-owned brand, but on the power of having their friendly and credible faces on the brand.

But more to the point by tapping specifically into the natural-ingredients market for baby care, Walmart acknowledges not simply the power of life-stage shifts, such as having a baby, but of four lifestyle shifts that could permanently alter how retailers merchandise in years to come.

Walmart’s Baby Boon

That Walmart selected baby products for its new natural line is elementary. Babies are delicate and should get safer products. The trick has been making them affordable which Walmart has the scale to accomplish. The 10 Hello Bello products are priced from $1.88 to $23.94 with most less than $8.

As Shepard stated in the joint press release: “Parents shouldn’t have to choose between what’s good for their baby and good for their budget.” (Hello Bello’s line includes diapers, wipes, shampoo and body wash, bubble bath, baby lotion, diaper rash cream, laundry detergent, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and bug spray.)

To the business point of it: If Walmart can win the trust of parents at the new-life stage of their families now, it is more likely to maintain that trust for the lifetime of those customers, as well as their progenies.

To add urgency, there’s mounting competitive pressure to win shopper loyalty at birth. In January, Target expanded it private-label line of baby-care products, Cloud Island, to include competitively priced diapers, wipes, toiletries and other essentials, some with plant-based ingredients.

Which is likely why Walmart has in the past 18 months expanded its baby assortment, adding 30,000 items. It also remodeled the baby departments in more than 2,000 stores and added a microsite on Walmart.com that helps parents shop nursery designs by style, from classic pink to mid-century modern.

Rattling Lifestyle Changes

By investing in a “head-to-butt-to-toe” line of safe-ingredient baby goods, Walmart is seeking cradle-to-maturity shopper loyalty. In assuring that, it appears to be responding to four essential lifestyle shifts many consumers are making.

A shift to sustainability for babies.
In just a few months, newborns could require 10 times their weight in spending, and parents increasingly are directing their dollars toward “cleaner” products. The size of the global organic baby food market alone is projected to reach $11 billion in 2024, from $6 billion in 2018. That closely matches the size and projected increase of the overall baby-care product market — $6 billion in 2018 to $11 billion by 2025, cites Statista. According to Hello Bello’s website, it uses “as many organic ingredients as we can without driving up the final cost of the products we make.”

A shift to niche brands that mean something. 
Transparency extends to mission. Responsible consumerism is expected to be among the big retail trends in 2019, as the expansion of digital and in-store shopping options enables people to more easily locate brands that help them make better, more responsible choices, according to a report in forbes.com. Consumers ages 23 to 38 in particular are more likely to purchase cause-related products — 37% vs. 30% of older shoppers.

A shift in influencer credibility. 
Social media has enabled most anyone with confidence and the ability to take a great selfie to become an influencer. However, just 3% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product based on celebrity, according to new research by Collective Bias, an influencer marketing firm. Bell and Shepard are the kind of couple that could redefine celebrity influence. They are not mega-stars, not overly glamorous and they frequently share the foibles of marriage while poking fun at each other. This makes them desirably relatable, which Walmart evidently has spotted.

A shift in expectations to “affordable premium”.
Thanks in part to digital startups such as Brandless, which sells natural-ingredient consumer products at low prices, shoppers are learning they can indeed get premium products at dollar store-near prices. But Brandless, which once priced everything it carried at $3, in January bumped its prices after it too entered the baby-care category. Walmart may have already been developing the Hello Bello line with Bell-Shepard when Brandless introduced its pricier baby products, but it certainly makes for a fortuitous introduction.

Shepard even hints that Hello Bello would never have seen the light of morning without Walmart. “We couldn’t ask for a better exclusive retail partner,” he stated in the press release.

The more important partner, however, is the customer. If Walmart can get the first word right, it might have the last word in shopper loyalty well beyond parenthood.


Bryan Pearson a Featured Contributor to The Wise Marketer and is the President of LoyaltyOne, where he has been leveraging the knowledge of 120 million customer relationships over 20 years to create relevant communications and enhanced shopper experiences. 

This article originally appeared in Forbes. Be sure to follow Bryan on Facebook and Twitter for more on retail, loyalty and the customer experience.

The post Walmart’s Hello Bello Signals Shifting Trends appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

11 Free Microsoft Excel Templates to Make Marketing Easier

Many of us can recall a time in high school when we were sitting in math class and thinking, “When am I ever going to use this stuff in the real world?”

And then we suddenly find ourselves in the real world, only to realize that numbers actually do play a pivotal role in what we do — especially in digital marketing.

The trouble is, many marketers are right-brained, meaning Excel spreadsheets riddled with numbers and formulas aren’t all that inviting. Making them from scratch can be especially intimidating.

While we won’t argue with that, we will say that the advantages of leveraging Excel’s functionality to organize information and streamline tasks are unparalleled. To help those of you looking for a way to sharpen your skills, we’ve put together a detailed list of ways you can start using Excel to simplify your marketing tasks. Complete with templates, these suggestions will have you making strides in no time. Know what’s even better? You can download this full collection of Excel templates in one fell swoop.

Free Excel Spreadsheet Templates That Make Marketing Easier

1. A Marketing Budget Template

marketing-product-budget-template-1

While marketing budgets vary from business to business, the need for structure and a clear sense of alignment between your goals and your spending is critical across the board. To ensure you’re always prepared for unanticipated costs, it’s important that you’re not only allocating your budget thoughtfully and properly, but that you’re also keeping tabs on how closely you’re sticking to your projected expenses.

If you want to avoid a mess at the end of the month or quarter, take a look at this collection of 8 marketing budget templates, designed to help you organize your marketing spend better. From product marketing, to website redesign, to content marketing, to events, these templates serve as a guide for marketers to visualize and track their expenses to avoid overspending.

The collection also contains a master marketing budget template that’ll help you generate a high-level visualization of your marketing budget on both a month-by-month and quarterly basis.

Download the marketing budget templates here.

2. Social Media Posting Schedule

social-media-post-schedule-templateYou might already use a social media scheduler to manage and publish your posts every week, but you still need a place to draft your social copy and decide which posts will go to which social networks.

And because most social media schedulers allow you to upload social post copy in bulk, from a spreadsheet, it behooves you to have an Excel template designed for this purpose. With that in mind, we created the Excel template shown above.

This social media posting schedule allows you to draft each social post, the date/time it is to be posted, the message you want to publish, and any link you want to accompany your message (that link could be a blog post, registration page, an ebook landing page, you name it).

Once you’ve drafted all of your social posts for the week, month, or quarter, you can sort them by social network and upload your Excel file into your social media platform of choice.

Download the social media posting schedule here.

3. A Blog Editorial Calendar

blog-editorial-calendar-templates-1

Blogging plays a significant role in your ability to attract visitors and leads to your website. But managing a blog is one of those responsibilities that’s easier said than done.

Whether you’re struggling with ideation, consistency, or simply just lacking organization, an editorial calendar can often serve as the solution you need to refocus your blogging efforts and generate even more traffic and leads from your content. Visualize the blog posts you plan to publish in a given week or month makes it easier to define overarching themes, keep track of ideas, manage contributions, and prioritize strategic distribution.

Use this editorial calendar template as the starting point for keeping track of all of your business’ content. It’ll help you be more mindful of topic selection, buyer personas, keyword inclusions, and CTA alignment.

Download the blogging editorial calendar template here.

4. A SMART Goal Matrix

SMART_Goals_Excel_Templates.png

Whether you’re planning for a new year, quarter, or month, defining a clear set of goals is critical for driving the direction of your marketing efforts and priorities.

Do you need help not only setting marketing objectives, but actually achieving them? Start with these SMART goal planning templates. Rooted in specificity, measurability, attainability, relevancy, and timeliness, these templates will help you set your team up for success while providing you with a tool for identifying your greatest marketing needs.

Download the SMART goal planning templates here.

5. An On-Page SEO Template

SEO_Templates_Excel.png

When it comes to SEO, there’s a lot for marketers to remember in order to see results. (Put another way, there’s a lot for marketers to forget.) With search engines evolving and algorithm changes turning your existing strategy on its head from time to time, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and push off revamping your SEO strategy. However, SEO should never be treated like an afterthought.

If you’re looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, pull up this handy SEO template created in Excel. Designed to make the process of managing your SEO efforts a whole lot easier, marketers can use this template to guide their strategy step-by-step or pass it off to their webmaster to serve as a helpful guide. It focuses on not keywords and SEO best practices while providing tips and tricks to identify nuances and increase productivity.

Download the on-page SEO template here.

6. A Google Ads Campaign Tracker

google-ads-campaign-template

If you’re doing your Google Ads campaigns right, they probably aren’t exactly walks in the park. That’s because to get the most bang for your buck, you’ve set up multiple campaigns with multiple ad groups and have variations of your campaigns — all with different content. Not only that, you’re (hopefully) also keeping track of those campaigns to determine which ones to shut off, add more money to, or tweak.

Sounds like a lot to keep track of, right? But take a deep breath. This Google Ads tracking template can keep you on top of your Google Ads game. It’ll help you catch mistakes and implement best practices across all the different campaigns and ad groups you’re running — for the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. Not to mention, it’s a perfect complement to that SEO template you’ve started using.

Download the Google Ads tracking template here.

7. A Social Media Content Calendar

Social_Media_Publishing_Calendar.png

Since you’re probably generating tons of clicks from your Google Ads campaigns and writing awesome content thanks to your blogging editorial calendar, you’re going to need some help figuring out how to spread the love on social. We’ve got just the thing.

The social media calendar template is the perfect resource for helping you scale and streamline your social media marketing. When you use Excel to break out separate worksheets for each social network you’re using, you’ll be able to keep a repository of content ideas so you’re never struck by writer’s block, and always have something to post.

It’s also worth mentioning that Excel really comes in handy when it comes to Twitter, as it has the ability to count your characters to help you write tweets that stay within the 140 character limit.

Download the social media content calendar template here.

8. A Service-Level Agreement (SLA) Template

service-level-agreement-sla-template

It’s no secret that sales and marketing are known to have a pretty rocky relationship history. Sales might think marketing isn’t generating enough leads, while marketing might think their sales reps aren’t capitalizing on the leads they’re sending over. When it comes down to it, though, finger-pointing doesn’t grow a business.

In an effort to better align your sales and marketing teams, turn to this template for creating a service-level agreement (SLA). Generally speaking, an SLA is a contract that defines the expectations sales has for marketing leads (both quantity and quality), as well as the expectations that marketing has for how sales will act on qualified leads.

With this customizable SLA template in your toolbox, you’ll have the information you need to reduce tension, define a concrete monthly lead generation goal, track and measure the success of specific lead generation channels, and keep close tabs on your current sales close rates.

Download the service-level agreement (SLA) template here.

9. A Leads and Traffic Goal Calculator

Traffic_and_Leads_Calculator_Excel.png

You have to set a leads goal, but you don’t know where to start. Then, once you finally figure that out, you have to determine how much traffic you need to hit that goal … but you’re not sure what approach to take there, either.

Sounds like you could use hand calculating your leads and traffic goals. Luckily, there’s an Excel template for that. Rather than try to sort of these numbers on your own, this template is designed to take care of the math and leave you with a clear picture of what you need to accomplish in order to achieve your traffic and leads goals and ensure the health of your inbound marketing strategy.

Download the leads and traffic goal calculator here.

10. Your Monthly Marketing Metrics

Monthly_Marketing_Metrics_Excel.png

Is there a feeling sweeter than hitting all of your goals for the month? How about communicating your success to your boss? Excel spreadsheets can be used to prepare comprehensive reports of your marketing metrics to send off to your boss — and there’s no need to work from scratch. (After all, you’ve already so worked hard this month.)

To simplify your reporting, check out these monthly marketing metrics templates (and the corresponding PowerPoint template). Each, month, you can update them quickly and easily to reflect your monthly visits, leads, customers, and conversion rates. From there, you’ll have everything you need to accurately track and report on which channels are performing best. Every boss loves to see ROI, so you can’t go wrong with these templates.

Download the monthly marketing metrics templates here.

How do you use Excel to streamline your marketing? Share your favorite techniques, tips, and templates in the comment section below.

11. Essential KPI Tracker

essential-kpi-tracking-template

If you’re a fan of the monthly metrics template — item #10 on this list — you might want to grab a copy of this template as well. The essential KPI tracker, shown above, takes the metrics your marketing team has agreed to track and describes them in more detail.

KPI stands for “key performance indicator” — they’re basically your most important metrics, each with a unique purpose and place in your marketing strategy. Using this template, you can assign specific employees to each KPI, define the frequency at which you’ll monitor each KPI’s performance, and assign each KPI a color that reflects the quality of that KPI’s performance.

If one of your KPIs is organic traffic, for example, you can set up your template such that 100 page views per month is red (poor performance), 500 page views/month is yellow (stable performance), and 1000 page views/month is green (great performance).

Download the essential KPI tracker here.

Want more Excel tips? Check out these Excel formulas, keyboard shortcuts, and tips.

free excel templates for marketing

The Social Media Content Calendar Template Every Marketer Needs [Free Template]

“We have a 9 a.m. meeting? Hold on — let me just click around the internet like a maniac to find something for the morning tweet.” 

Sound familiar? Scrambling for social content is nothing new. We have meetings. We run late. Things come up. And it’s really hard to get any meaningful amount of work done when you have the next social media update looming over your head every 30, 60, or 90 minutes. It all moves so fast that you might periodically feel a case of the vapors coming on, which is why pre-scheduled social media content should be your new best friend.

To make social media content easier for companies to plan and schedule across the accounts they manage, we created a social media content calendar template. And recently, we updated to be better, faster, stronger, and just generally prettier. 

You can fill it in at the same day and time every single week to prep for the following week’s social media content. That means when you burst through the office doors at 9 a.m., you won’t be in panic mode looking for something to push out to your Facebook fans — you already took care of that last week.

This blog post will walk you through exactly how to use the template to stay on top of your social media content planning for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

Note: HubSpot customers can also schedule content through Social Inbox, or use this spreadsheet to organize their content and subsequently upload it to Social Inbox. Detailed instructions for doing this exist in the cover sheet of the template.

How to Use the Social Media Calendar Template to Plan Your Content Schedule

When you open up the social media content calendar template, you’ll notice the bottom of the Excel spreadsheet has several different tabs, most of which are dedicated to a specific social network.

social-media-calendar-excel-tabs.png

The reason you’ll want a different worksheet for every social network is simply that every social network is a little bit different. You can’t just craft one, single social media update and use it across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. You can certainly promote the same piece of content across all six of those networks, but that doesn’t mean you’ll craft your update in the same way for every single one of them. (In fact, you may even want to add additional tabs if you’re active on other networks, like Quora or YouTube.)

This following sub-sections will walk you through how to fill out each of the four tabs you see in this template — the updates for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. But before we get to that, let’s just walk through the “Monthly Planning Calendar” so you know what that’s for.

Monthly Social Media Schedule 

The tab “Monthly Planning Calendar” provides an overall snapshot of your monthly social media campaigns. It’ll help you coordinate better with other stakeholders, not to mention keep all the moving parts straight in your own mind. Here’s what it looks like:

social-media-calendar-month-view.png

There are three sections to take note of when you edit this template for your own purposes. First, the color-coding key: These are the types of content or campaigns around which you might coordinate, like ebooks, webinars, blog posts, product launches, and so on. Though only some of these might be relevant to you, they’re there to indicate what you may want to put in there — so be sure to edit these categories to align with your own campaigns.

The other two sections you’ll need to edit are the Month and Year at the top of the calendar (duh), as well as the cells below each day of the week. In those cells, you should enter the type of content you’ll be promoting that day and color-code it to align with the campaign it’s supporting.

Instead of deleting all the content in this spreadsheet each month, I recommend copying this worksheet twelve times over, and creating a separate sheet for each month. (If that gets to be too overwhelming, you can always save those tabs as a separate file.)

Planning Your Twitter Content Calendar

Alright, now let’s get to the social media content. This section will be the lengthiest, because all subsequent sections will draw on the instructions we go through here. So if you read one section in this whole post, make it this one.

Let’s say you want to add some tweets to your scheduling template. Skip over to the “Twitter Updates” tab, where you’ll see this:

Social media calendar template for Twitter content

The first four columns, “Day,” “Date,” “Time,” and “Date & Time” are there for your convenience, and if you choose to use a third-party app for pre-scheduling your tweets (like HubSpot’s Social Inbox), then these columns will be useful. For now, just fill in the date on which you’d like your updates to publish to Twitter, and the time at which you’d like them to go out. The “Date & Time” column will automatically change based on what you input in the previous two columns.

Now, let’s move over to the “Message” column. Here, input the copy you’d like to appear in your tweet, bearing in mind you should cap it at 116 characters to allow enough room for a link, and at 115 characters to allow room for an image. (Read this blog post for a full character count guide.) This spreadsheet will auto-calculate the number of characters you’ve entered to keep you on-point, turning yellow when you’ve reached 95 characters, and red when you’ve reached 116 characters.

After you’ve composed your tweet, paste the URL you’d like to include in your tweet in the “Link” column. Be sure to include UTM parameters so you’ll know whether all of these tweets are actually driving traffic, leads, and customers. This is an important step to remember if you’d like to be able to demonstrate ROI from social. You can also use the “Campaign” column to add an associated campaign, which helps which more robust tracking and reporting.

Finally, in the “Image” column, attach the tweet’s image (if you have one). For Twitter, we recommend images that are 1024 x 512 pixels. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.) If you’re having trouble attaching your image to the spreadsheet, follow these steps:

Step 1: Right-click the cell in which you’d like your image.

Step 2: Click “Hyperlink,” then click the “Document” button, and finally, click “Select” to choose your image.

Step 3: In the “Choose a File” window, select the image from your computer and click “Open.”

Step 4: You’ll now see the image attached to the “Insert Hyperlink” screen. Feel free to edit the “Display” text to change the file name, then click “OK.”

Note: This process is simply for organizational purposes. If you decide to upload the spreadsheet to your social media publishing software, it will not attach — you’ll have to do that with your marketing software. If you’re a HubSpot customer, details for how to bulk upload your Twitter content to Social Inbox can be found within the downloaded template.

Planning Your Facebook Content Calendar

Now, let’s talk about how to plan your Facebook marketing in advance with the template. Navigate on over to the tab in your template labeled “Facebook Updates.”

Social media calendar template for Facebook content

Facebook updates work similarly to Twitter updates, with the exception being bulk uploading your content is not possible in Social Inbox.

The first three columns, “Day,” “Date,” and “Time” are there for your convenience. Head on over to the column labeled “Message” and input the copy you’d like to appear in your status update, corresponding to the days and times you’d like those updates to run. Then, move to the “Link” column and input the link you’ll be, you know, linking to in the update. (Don’t forget that tracking token.) If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. Finally, attach an image just like you did with your Twitter updates — if you’re using one, we suggest you edit it to be 1200 x 900 pixels. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.)

Planning Your LinkedIn Content Calendar

LinkedIn updates are the most unique, because you have both Company Pages and Groups to consider. To demonstrate the difference between Company Page updates and Group updates, let’s navigate over to the column labeled “Title (For Group Discussions Only).”

Social media calendar template for LinkedIn content

LinkedIn Groups let you post a few kinds of updates, one of which is called a “Discussion.” You will only fill out the “Title (For Group Discussions Only)” column if you’re looking to post a Discussion to your LinkedIn Group — because Discussions are the only update you’ll be posting that requires a title. If you’re not posting a Discussion to a LinkedIn Group, you don’t need to fill out this field, because your update will not have a title.

You’ll fill out the next column, “Message,” for every type of update you post, whether it’s for a Company Page or a Group. Simply input your copy into this column, and then navigate to the next two columns, “Link” and “Campaign” to input the URL to which you’re directing readers with the tracking token you’ll use to track activity, and the associated campaign if one exists. If you’d like to use an image for an update, attach it per the instructions laid out in the “Twitter” section. We recommend editing the image to 700 x 520 pixels.

Planning Your Instagram Posting Calendar

Now, let’s move on to how to set up your Instagram photos and videos in advance with the template. Navigate on over to the tab in your template labeled “Instagram Updates.”

Social media calendar template for Instagram content

Instagram updates work similarly to Facebook updates, in that content can’t be uploaded in bulk to Social Inbox like it can with Twitter.

The first three columns, “Day,” “Date,” and “Time” are there for your convenience. Head on over to the column labeled “Message,” and input the copy you’d like to appear in your post’s caption, corresponding to the days and times you’d like those updates to run. Keep in mind that although Instagram captions can be up to 2,200 characters long, they cut off in users’ feeds after three lines of text. The exact length of these three lines depends on the length of your Instagram handle. (Read this blog post for a full character count guide.)

Next, move to the “Link for Bio” column and input whichever link you plan to put in the bio when you publish the accompanying Instagram post. (The reason you’d put a link in your bio and not the photo caption itself is because clickable URLs aren’t allowed anywhere except the single “website” box in your bio. See #13 in this blog post for more on how that works.) Oh, and don’t forget that tracking token.

If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. Finally, attach an image just like you did with your other social media updates — we suggest you edit it to be 1080 pixels x 1080 pixels. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.)

Planning Your Pinterest Content Calendar

Alright, now let’s go over how to set up your Pinterest pins in advance with the template. Navigate on over to the tab in your template labeled “Pinterest Updates.”

Social media calendar template for Pinterest content

Pinterest updates work similarly to Facebook and Instagram updates, in that content can’t be uploaded in bulk to Social Inbox like it can with Twitter.

The first three columns, “Day,” “Date,” and “Time” are there for your convenience. Go to the column labeled “Message,” and input the copy you’d like to appear in your pin’s description, corresponding to the days and times you’d like those updates to run. Then, move to the “Link” column and input the link you’ll be, you know, linking to in the update. (Don’t forget that tracking token.)

If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. Finally, attach an image like you did with your other social media updates — we suggest you edit it to be 735 pixels x 1102 pixels.

Planning Your Google+ Posting Calendar

Finally, we come to Google+.

Social media calendar template for Google+ content

Update: Google recently announced it is shutting down its Google+ platform. Please consider using the template and instructions below for any potential social networking platform Google launches in the future, and check back with us for an updated template that reflects this rollout.

Start in the “Message” column, and input your status update. Then move over to “Link” column, where you’ll input the link to which you’re directing readers. If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. If you’re attaching an image, you could use multiple different sizes, but 960 pixels x 960 pixels works best. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.)

Content Repository (Or, Where to Source Social Media Content)

This template also provides you with a tab called “Content Repository,” which should help you keep track of all your content and maintain a healthy backlog of fodder to make sourcing social media content easier.

social-media-calendar-content-repository.png

As you create more assets, you’ll likely want to resurface and re-promote those pieces down the line, too. To ensure you don’t lose track of all of that content, record it on this tab so you’re never at a loss for what to publish on social. If the content you’re promoting isn’t evergreen, be sure to include an expiration date in the column marked “Expiration” so you don’t promote it when it’s jumped the shark.

This tab will also help you maintain a healthy balance of content: A mix of your own content and others’, a mix of content formats and types, and mix of lead generation content vs. MQL-generating content vs. traffic-friendly content.

Don’t Forget to Interact With Your Followers

Whether you use this spreadsheet to plan your content out in advance or upload to a third-party app, you’ll still need to supplement these updates with one the fly content. Breaking news hits? Whip up a quick update to share it with your network. Someone in your network tweets something interesting? Give it a retweet with some commentary. Got a fascinating comment on one of your updates? Respond with a “thank you” for their interaction or an additional follow-up comment.

Coming up with and scheduling your social media content in advance is a huge time-saver, but it should go without saying that you still need to monitor and add to your social presence throughout the day.

Finally, we encourage you to experiment with your social media publishing. This template provides publishing dates and times for each social network, but you may find those are way too many updates for you to fill, or perhaps too infrequent for your booming social presence. You should adjust your social media publishing frequency as needed.

Free Template Social Media Content Calendar

4 Ways Everyone Can Champion Women in Tech

Women’s history month is always an opportunity to learn and grow—for every gender, not just women. It’s important to take time to reflect on how far we’ve come. When I started my first job nearly 20 years ago, I adhered to a dress code that required I wear a skirt and pantyhose to work every day. Just 55 years before that, my grandmother got her college degree in home economics as it was one of the few majors available for women. The progress we’ve achieved is tremendous—but this is by no means a time to pat ourselves on the back and become complacent. Quite the contrary. In the immortal words of The Doors, ‘the time to hesitate is through.’ We have a duty to each other to make a seat at the table for everyone, regardless of gender. If we only have women championing diversity and change, we will fail.

Here are four ways that everyone can champion women in tech.

1. Speak up and Speak Out

As TSA says, “if you see something, say something.” If you see discrimination, use your voice to make it known. It doesn’t even have to be confrontational. Suggest having an equal balance of gender identities and races in the next committee you’re on. Look into your job descriptions to uncover unconscious language bias. Encourage diversity studies as part of your campaign strategy to discover any blind spots in your marketing efforts. By continually evaluating your processes, you can find bias easier and stop it before it becomes a problem.

2. Mentor

Mentorship is an amazing opportunity to create allies in the workplace. No matter your age, orientation, or identity, you have commonalities with someone else at your company. You also have something to offer: your experience & knowledge. Even new to the workforce employees provide value to their advanced age counterparts. Consider reverse mentorship, where younger employees are paired with more advanced employees to shed light on new technologies and the changing workforce. This type of mentorship provides benefit for both in that the unique experiences which both have had provides insight into another person’s life.

3. Attend a Women’s Event

Women’s events are not just for cisgender women. Many events which have “women” in the name are, yes, overwhelmingly filled with female attendees. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. Step outside of your comfort zone! Learning about the challenges that those around you face is the path to understanding. It can also be a way to uncover biases you might not know you have. Take the opportunity to learn something new and to listen. You might be surprised at what you come to understand.

4. Start a Conversation

Asking questions isn’t always easy but it truly is the way to learn about others. Take the time to talk to an employee outside of your team who you might not normally interact with. Join a committee where you are the minority. Women and other marginalized people are looking for understanding and a path toward change in a timely manner. No one is expecting immediate change or that failure won’t happen along with way. Keep talking. Keep the conversation going to understand what is needed to create an equal workplace. It won’t be the same in every environment but keeping an inquisitive mind and continually asking questions will allow real change to be made.

Diversity in the Workplace is Everyone’s Responsibility

Women’s history month is not the only time that we should be talking about equality and diversity. As we build the foundations of the future, take time to look around you and understand how you can contribute. No matter your age, race, orientation, identity, or otherwise, ensuring diversity can be a challenge but it is the only way forward.

The post 4 Ways Everyone Can Champion Women in Tech appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

A/B Testing: What It Is & How to Maximize Performance

A/B testing is an optimization technique that creates a copy of an existing webpage, allowing you to change a specific feature (like a button or sign-up form) on the copied version and test which page performs better. The better-performing version is kept, which should result in higher clicks, conversions, or traffic. How A/B Testing Works…

The post A/B Testing: What It Is & How to Maximize Performance appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Your Google Rank Doesn't Matter Anymore

For a long time, keyword rankings were a staple part of any SEO campaign. In a lot of cases they were a primary metric used to judge performance.

Today, your Google keyword ranking is just one of several reasons your traffic can increase or decrease.

Just six or seven years ago, we had so much more information on the keywords users were searching to reach our web content. All of this information was available transparently within Google Analytics, and you could get relatively accurate search volume estimates from within Google’s Keyword Tool.

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The first major update that changed this was Google’s move to encrypted search and the dreaded appearance of “not provided” within Google Analytics. This means you can no longer find out which keywords are bringing in the organic traffic your website is receiving. The “not provided” tag looks a little something like this:

keyword-not-provided-google-analytics

This created a ripple effect across many SEO software providers that made a lot of their tools less effective — or at least tougher — to measure the impact coming from organic search on a granular level.

Google’s next major change — a more recent one — was its decision to move search volume estimate within their Keyword Planner tool to show estimates in broad ranges. Instead of learning that a keyword was being searched for 1,400 times each month, we’re told that it’s searched between 1k-10k times per month. This isn’t overly helpful when developing your content strategy.

These changes have forced marketers to adapt their search strategy to focus less on individual keywords and shift to a topic-centric content strategy, especially for content sitting at the top of their marketing funnel.

Keyword Rankings are Inaccurate

One of the major criticisms of keyword ranking data is the fact that it is largely inaccurate. Many industry leaders and even software providers of rank tracking data have admitted that this is the case.

The reasons behind this can be broken down into three broad buckets:

  1. Personalization.
  2. Device.
  3. Location.

Personalization

Around the time of the launch of Google+, the SEO industry was talking a lot about personalization within search. Even after the death of Google+, personalization has remained a big consideration.

Bonus points if you remember Authorship snippets (circa 2012).

Ultimately, Google will deliver results that are personalized to a user based on their search history. This means that if I were to search for a query like “electric cars” and I’d previously been browsing the Tesla website, it’s a possibility that Google would tailor the rankings of the search results to show Tesla near the top.

This wouldn’t be the case for someone that hasn’t previously visited Tesla’s website, which makes it very tough to determine which website actually ranks #1 (because it can be different from one person to the next).

Device and Location

Whilst personalization plays a part in the ambiguity of keyword rankings, it’s nothing compared to the role of implicit query factors like device and location.

One of Google major advancements in search over the past five years has been its ability to take into account aspects of a search query that aren’t explicitly stated. To make sense of what I’ve just said, let’s take a query like, “Boston restaurants”.

Go back to 2010 and a search for “Boston restaurants” would yield a list of relatively generic websites that either talk about Boston restaurants or maybe are a restaurant.

Fast-forward to 2018 and a simple search for “Boston restaurants” will arm Google with a whole lot more information than before. They’re able to see which device you’ve searched from, where you’re located whilst you’re searching, even if you’re currently on the move.

Let’s say that you searched on an iPhone and you’re walking around in the center of Boston at 11:30 am. Here’s what this query would actually look like to Google:

“Which restaurants are currently open for lunch within walking distance of my current location in the center of Boston, MA?”

Google Maps results with location search for Boston restaurants

They’ve gathered all of this information without the individual even having to type it. As a result, they’re able to completely tailor the search results to this individual searchers’ current situation.

So … to answer the question of who ranks #1 for “Boston restaurants” becomes an even more challenging task.

Keyword Rankings are Directional at Best

Strong keyword rankings don’t always equate to high volumes of organic traffic, let alone improvements in revenue. As I mentioned at the beginning, we’ve lost a lot of visibility on search volume metrics, which makes it very difficult to accurately estimate the amount of traffic you can gain from an individual keyword. Factor in the changing appearance of the search engine results page (e.g. the widespread increase in featured snippets) and it becomes an even more daunting task.

If keyword rankings are your North Star, you may be traveling in the completely wrong direction.

Here are three search features that can interfere with your keyword rankings while presenting you with opportunities to capture traffic from Google in new ways:

Featured Snippets

Featured snippets are the enhanced search results that appear at the very top of Google SERPs. They’re a form of “rich snippet,” a grouping of structured data that Google has collected from a webpage. And due to their size, they can take an extraordinary amount of traffic away from the the results beneath them.

google-featured-snippet

What makes featured snippet results so important? Publishers can earn them regardless of their Google rank. That’s right, it is entirely possible for a site below position #1 on the SERP to win this top-dwelling space, making Google rank noticeably less important for topics that are vulnerable to them. Check it out below — as you can see, the featured snippet is pulling in a result that technically ranks in position 3, allowing it to steal organic traffic from the results in positions 1 and 2.

Videos

Video is playing an increasing part in content marketing strategies, and not for superficial reasons. Videos published to any platform, not just YouTube, are now ending up on SERPs where Google has determined the intent behind a search query is best served in this medium. 

google-video-carousel

These video results might take away traffic from publishers, but they also allow you to “rank” for keywords you might not have written content to target.

Image Packs

Image packs are large groupings of images that Google pulls into its SERPs from the Images tab in a Google search. As you can see below, they can be so large that they take up all the space “above the fold” of a SERP. This makes results ranking in position 1 for a particular keyword hard-pressed to capture organic traffic from that keyword unless they’ve published images dedicated to (and optimized for) this keyword.

google-image-packs

When all you’re obsessing over is where each page is tracking against a ranking goal, you’ll likely be misses a ton of other value that your content is bringing in. For example, what if you’ve built out some content with the primary goal of driving backlinks or social traffic, but it isn’t necessarily designed to rank for much itself (e.g. a research report)? Using keyword rankings as a determining factor of success could evaluate content in a completely inaccurate way.

Measuring Performance at the Topic Cluster Level

To combat a lot of the issues I raised above, we shifted the way that we measured content at HubSpot. For the past couple of years we’ve taken a step back from analyzing the performance of content on a page-by-page level and looked at the performance of content at the topic cluster level.

Organic search traffic and conversions are our primary search goals, so when we group our content into clusters to try and gain visibility for any searches related to a given topic, we look at the collective performance of these groups of webpages vs just the performance of individual pages.

This model of analysis helps us account for the varying goals of each individual piece of content. Also, running this analysis at scale tells us which topics tend to drive more traffic growth compared to others, and which topics tend to convert traffic at a higher rate.

This information tends to provide much clearer insights for the team as to what they should focus on next without obsessing over individual keyword rankings.

Is There Still a Place for Keyword Rankings?

Despite everything I’ve said above, I’m not actually saying that keyword rankings are dead (I can already see the tweets ready to be fired at me!). Keyword data can be useful for digging into any SEO problems that happen to your site, and also to look into the intent behind certain types of searches.

That said, the new version of Google Search Console that has just recently been rolled out should give you pretty much everything you need here.

More than anything, as a marketer you need to be aware that the data that you’re looking at related to keywords is not 100% accurate. As a result, this should never be your primary performance metric.

 
Learn SEO in HubSpot Academy

Demand Generation and Thought Leadership: Why You Need Both

Demand generation and thought leadership are both terms you need to know if you’re a B2B marketer. But do you actually know what they mean and how they work, or are you using them in a “fake it till you make it” way? We’ve all been there, including me.

When I first got into the marketing game, I can honestly say I didn’t know the difference between the two. Both are buzzwords of sorts that I would throw around without truly knowing how different they are. I speak with dozens of CEOs and CMOs every week, many of whom will also admit they don’t have a full grasp on demand generation or thought leadership. Continuing to educate yourself is key, especially in the always-changing landscape of marketing. Let’s dive into these buzzwords a bit so you can go into your next executive meeting feeling like a marketing rockstar.

What Is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is just that: generating demand. It’s the process of driving inbound interest to your brand and/or services through various channels and methods.

For example, think of the content marketing funnel. First, you start with top-of-the-funnel content to increase awareness of your brand and build credibility. This oftentimes involves getting educational, bylined articles published in third-party publications and/or getting mentioned by other contributors.

From there, to hold the attention of your newly generated inbound traffic, you need on-site content. This could be a blog, case study, infographic, or video. Every piece of content serves a specific role in generating demand, so understanding how your audience members like to consume content and where they are in the customer journey is key.

The next transition piece is imperative: gated content. How do you expect to turn marketing-qualified leads into sales-qualified leads if you’re not capturing them to begin with? After you’ve captured new leads comes the nurture aspect, whether that’s via an email drip campaign or an e-newsletter. This is the last piece that allows you to stay top of mind with new prospects.

What Is Thought Leadership?

Thought leadership can be defined in different ways by different people, but my definition is “the process of positioning yourself or your brand as an expert in your given field while boosting your overall awareness and credibility.” Thought leadership can take the form of off-site articles (like this one), on-site blogs, videos, the list goes on.

The best way I’ve seen executives boost their thought leadership is by creating valuable, educational content. Whether you decide to outsource this activity or bring it in-house, having a dedicated team creating and distributing this type of content is crucial. You’ve spent your whole career gaining valuable insights, so now is the time to share those with the world.

Do I Need Both?

Yes! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can do one without the other. Think of it this way: If you don’t have thought leadership to build credibility, there is no way you can boost demand. So many B2B marketers think of these two tactics as living in different silos, and oftentimes they have two separate departments working on these initiatives, but that’s a huge mistake. The biggest reason you need both is to ensure the different aspects of your marketing strategy are aligned with each other and your goals.

All right, Mo, that sounds great, but how do I align both demand generation and thought leadership? I’m glad you asked.

1. Write and Publish Guest-contributed Content

Whether you have a large dedicated team or limited resources, there is no excuse for not prioritizing thought leadership content. There are several options out there: Outsource it, create it in-house, or do it in your “spare time.” There’s no one right method of doing this; the bottom line is that it has to get done. Demand Gen Report found that 87% of B2B buyers give more credibility to industry influencer content like third-party published articles, so this thought leadership aspect is vital to driving traffic to your website.

2. Create Consistent On-site Content

On-site content can have a lot of different looks: an educational blog, a visually appealing infographic, or a captivating video. What’s critical is staying in front of your audience. Continual content creation can be taxing, but there are benefits. According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs 60% less than outbound and generates three times as many leads. Now is not the time to disregard the hard work you put into driving traffic to your website—it’s time to continue walking your prospects through the buyer’s journey.

3. Create Gated Content to Capture Leads

If you’re creating consistent content but still not seeing an uptick in leads, you might be missing this crucial step in the marketing funnel. Research compiled by Intercom shows that 76% of buyers are willing to register and share personal information in exchange for whitepapers, and 63% will do the same for ebooks. This is the step where you turn inbound traffic into marketing leads. From here, using a CRM and marketing automation software will allow you and your sales team to align. Did I mention how important it is to align your marketing strategy and your goals? Well, the same goes for your different teams.

4. Nurture Your Leads

We’re almost there. The last step is to nurture and engage your leads. So many companies I talk with have an old list of emails they admit they’re doing nothing with. This is a common mistake that leaves money on the table. You’ve done the hard work of getting prospects to this point in the buyer’s journey—now it’s time to turn your traffic into actual sales leads. In fact, companies who use email drip campaigns saw an average ROI of 4,400%, according to Campaign Monitor.

Now that you have a better idea of how to align thought leadership and demand generation, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice. Look at your goals. What do you want to accomplish at the end of the day? What are you currently doing well? Where do you see gaps in the content marketing funnel? Once you can answer these questions, you’ll be headed into your next executive meeting like a boss.

The post Demand Generation and Thought Leadership: Why You Need Both appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

How to Build an Email List in 8 Steps

An email list is comprised of customer or prospect contact information and is a great way to send promotions or business information. Building a roster of customer email addresses can be done by pushing visitors to your site with ads, then offering a “freebie” (valuable information or a gift) in exchange for their contact information….

The post How to Build an Email List in 8 Steps appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Mobile, Multi-Merchant and “Just-For-Me” Personalization

2018 was a complex year for loyalty
professionals and marketers, marked by several high-profile developments at the
program level and the ongoing evolution in how brands approach loyalty.

In terms of major program shifts, we saw the demise of Plenti, the complicated, American Express-owned coalition marketing program; the consolidation of Marriott Rewards and the Starwood Preferred Guest Program; the “will they, won’t they” drama of Air Canada’s re-acquisition of Aeroplan; and the launch of Nordstrom’s mobile loyalty app, Nordy Club.

What
these headline-grabbing mergers, acquisitions, launches and closings didn’t
obscure are the fundamental changes taking place … loyalty is getting more
personal, more dependent on mobile channels, more integrated with payments, and
more valuable than ever to brands in competitive environments.

Having worked on the team that launched the Fuel Rewards® program (still the most successful national coalition marketing program in the U.S.), I’m proud to say – I’m optimistic about the future of loyalty.  Here’s what I see coming in this space over the rest of the year and into 2020.

Refining Personalization Marketing

If 2018’s loyalty buzzword was ‘personalization,’ then this will be the year personalization actually gets better. Loyalty programs that offer personalization features consistently score higher in consumer satisfaction. However, the ways in which brands implement their personalization strategies will improve and become more refined. To do this, loyalty programs (and brands in general) will increase their ability to capture customer data, allowing their personalization efforts to become more accurate, more intimate without being intrusive, and ultimately more effective. Many loyalty programs will be modified to put more of a premium on collecting customer information as part of the process. Nordstrom’s Nordy Club is a good example of this, incentivizing members to complete a profile to earn points – and use that information to provide better personalized offers and communications.

Smarter Personalization

Just as personalization marketing will become more refined, the way personalized loyalty offers are deployed will become smarter. Predictive offer scoring, a relatively new concept in 2018, will be more widespread in 2019 as brands become better able to manage the intersection between customer data, personalization constructs, and real-time offer deployment. To achieve this, brands will need to lean on connected data – combining information from the loyalty program with point-of-sale data and even marketing channel data (social media, SEO, etc.) to build a solid understanding of their customers. When brands know what resonates with their customers through loyalty program data, tailor offers to their individual preferences and deliver those offers at the optimal time to prompt a purchase, this trend will be fully realized – and brands will enjoy the incremental revenue boost that goes along with it.

Payment and Loyalty Convergence

Another trend I see defining loyalty in 2019 is the increased convergence of loyalty programs and payments. Some loyalty programs have always been tied to specific payment methods, i.e. members earn points only when they pay with a particular credit card. Other loyalty programs are payment-agnostic, allowing consumers to earn rewards or points regardless of how they pay.  Many loyalty programs have evolved to support both; Target, which has always rewarded its REDCard holders with 5% cash back when they paid with the ACH-powered, checking-account-linked card, announced that loyalty program members could earn (lesser) rewards when using another payment method. 

Some
payment-agnostic programs are moving in the other direction, integrating
payment options into their existing loyalty programs.  Brands have recognized the value of combined
loyalty+payment, and as the technology improves to weave these two aspects
together more seamlessly, we’ll see more brands pursuing this approach in the
year ahead.  

Less Spend on Web

The fact
that loyalty programs are highly invested in the mobile channel isn’t new,
though we think it may have reached a peak in 2018.  On the whole, we see this as a positive
development for the loyalty sector – 69%
of consumers want digital or mobile loyalty cards, and a majority of those will
spend more with a brand that offers mobile capability.  But while brands might have simply augmented
their digital and physical loyalty operations with mobile, 2019 will be the
year they begin to reallocate investment dollars from online to mobile.  This means more simplified, less feature-rich
traditional loyalty websites, and more adaptive mobile websites and apps.

Coalition Loyalty Reasserts Its Value

The decline of Plenti and the trend of major brands bringing their loyalty programs in-house may have made 2018 seem like a negative year for coalition marketing programs. But multi-merchant programs, including our own Fuel Rewards® program, actually thrived in 2018, adding more consumer members and retail participants and breaking records for engagement and redemption. 

Programs that
focus on driving frequency – while allowing retailers to maintain their own
brands and the equity they have invested in them – are the programs that
deliver the most value. Provided, of course, those programs also deliver
relevant and clear value to consumers. 

Coalition marketing programs that offer these benefits and are “bolted on” to existing loyalty strategies will become more prevalent this year, reinforcing the fact that multi-merchant programs can work and thrive in the North American market.

Connection Creates Efficiency

It seems like every year, advances in marketing and loyalty technology create new capabilities for marketers, and 2018 was no different.  But in 2019, more marketers will find value in having these capabilities connected into one manageable platform. Instead of leaning on separate systems to handle loyalty program execution, CRM, analytics, and content management, marketers will seek out services and partners that can bundle these tools.  This type of consolidation will not only provide convenience, but also value, as marketers will need to deal with fewer tech vendors.

Already, 2019 is shaping up to be a strong year for loyalty programs across different retail sectors. Brands will get better at personalization, both refining it and facilitating smarter offer deployment strategies, and you can expect to see more convergence of loyalty and payment systems. Investment in loyalty programs’ digital strategies will be diverted to the mobile channel – both native apps and mobile web – as consumers continue to demonstrate their preference to engage through their mobile devices.  And we also expect a positive reevaluation of coalition marketing programs that leverage relevant rewards currencies to drive visit frequency, redemption, and revenue.

Watch our Executive Interview with Brandon here.

Brandon Logsdon is SVP of Marketing Cloud Solutions for PDI Software, oversees the company’s loyalty division in addition to its MarketLink and Data monetization services. Prior to PDI, Brandon served as Excentus’ President and CEO, and was the driving force behind the launch of the most successful national coalition marketing program in the U.S., the Fuel Rewards® program.

The post Mobile, Multi-Merchant and “Just-For-Me” Personalization appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

Unstructured Data Vs. Structured Data: A 3-Minute Rundown

Most marketers think being data-driven means using web metrics to inform every decision they make. But that’s not actually being data-driven. That’s being Google Analytics-driven. To truly be data-driven, we must remind ourselves of the actual definition of data — all types of information.

One of the most insightful types of information is qualitative data or unstructured data. It can reveal your customers’ true opinions and feelings toward your brand, which is challenging to extract from quantitative data or structured data.

Even Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, is a passionate proponent of using qualitative data to drive strategy. “The thing I have noticed is when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right. And there’s something wrong with the way you are measuring (your data),” he explained during an onstage interview at George Bush Presidential Center last April.

Bezos’ love for customer feedback shouldn’t compel you to supplant quantitative data with qualitative data when strategizing your next marketing campaign, though. It should compel you to inform your strategy with both sources of data. By combining the insights pulled from web metrics and customer feedback, you can get a full understanding of your marketing program’s effectiveness.

If you want a deeper explanation of what qualitative or unstructured data and quantitative or structured data is, check out this quick rundown of what both data sources exactly are and which tools you can use to store and analyze them.

Since you can’t store and organize unstructured data in typical databases, you need to store them in Word documents or non-relational (NoSQL) databases, like Elasticsearch or Solr, which can perform search queries for words and phrases.

Additionally, since you can’t use standard data analysis methods and tools to pull insights from unstructured data, you can either manually analyze or use the analysis tools in a NoSQL database to examine unstructured data. However, to use these tools effectively, you need a high level of technical expertise.

If you can successfully extract insights from unstructured data, though, you can develop a deep understanding of your customer’s preferences and their sentiment toward your brand.

Be Data-Driven, Not Just Google-Analytics Driven

In a world where Google Analytics can spit out every metric under the sun, you must remember that qualitative data, like customer feedback, is just as crucial for informing your marketing strategy as web metrics. Without unstructured data, you won’t have a clear understanding of how your customers actually feel about your brand. And that’s crucial for every marketer to know.

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