December 29, 2017

4 Marketing Strategies Every Startup Can Afford

You don't need to outspend your competition. You just need to out-think and out-work them.

Do your products sell themselves?
Having a great product is essential, but that alone isn’t enough to make your startup successful. Aside from your fantastic product, you’ll also need a stellar marketing strategy to grow your startup. But for many entrepreneurs, it's simply not realistic to spend a lot of money to acquire new business.
Instead, consider a few of these cost-effective marketing strategies that can help generate early successes.

Affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is the most cost-effective marketing strategy that works. I believe all businesses -- regardless of size -- should adopt referral, or affiliate, marketing. I've used it with a good deal of success and put it to work in all my online businesses.
Here's how it works: Encourage people to recommend your products to others, and pay a commission only when someone purchases your products through those referrals.
Start by setting up an affiliate program though networks such as ShareASale or ImpactRadius. You then can promote your affiliate program by featuring it prominently on your website and inviting customers to join the program. Additionally, you can choose the right reward structure -- one that’s compelling enough for your network's members to engage.
Email outreach also can serve as an efficient tool when communicating with influencers:
  • Create a list of influencers and experts in your industry,
  • Send an outreach email requesting they try your product for free, and 
  • Explain the monetary rewards they could earn by referring a user.

    Content marketing.

    According to the Content Marketing Institute, nearly 90 percent of brands use content marketing to grow their businesses. It's the perfect marketing strategy for startups and small businesses because it works within the confines of limited resources.
    Even though content marketing is extremely popular, not everyone finds success with this tactic. Lack of a documented content strategy is one of the primary causes. Without this crucial piece, your efforts will be less effective. As a result, you could face significant challenges when you attempt to implement content-marketing tactics.Streamline your content-marketing process by creating an editorial calendar. Identify any bottlenecks and evaluate your content planning. Measure your strategy's progress, tracking how well your content is performing to attract the audience.

    Do-it-yourself PR.

    More than 540,000 new businesses launch each month. That means you'll encounter some serious competition to grab your target market's attention. If you want to generate favorable and frequent public-relations mentions, build quality relationships with the journalists and bloggers in your industry.
    Be prepared that you might not always get a response when you make your pitch. You can increase the likelihood of getting coverage if you differentiate your pitch so the tone or angle of each is exclusive to the journalist and her or his publication. Do some research to discover which writers or videographers cover which aspects of your industry. Then, tailor your press release, teaser, or pitch-by-phone to fit those respective beats. Free tools such as Help a Reporter Out can assist in your quest to gain access to email addresses that belong to journalists looking for interviews in your space. 

    Piggyback a popular platform.

    When you’re launching a bootstrapped startup, the real challenge is coming up with a marketing strategy that requires little to no funding. Piggybacking another well-grown platform is a great strategy to get your product in front of potential customers. Airbnb’s integration with Craigslist is a perfect example of ad hoc integration for user acquisition.Craigslist doesn’t allow integration with any third-party services that cross-post listings to the site. To build a backlink and attract users, the team at Airbnb reverse-engineered how Craigslist's forms worked -- then made Airbnb's own site compatible with that workflow. Just a few clicks allow users to easily cross-post a listing to Craigslist while also placing a backlink that points to their own site. 
    The general rule of thumb: Find the right platform you can leverage to grow your startup and create a strategy that works to acquire customers.
Photo by: Jason Briscoe - Unsplash

December 26, 2017

7 Bold Predictions for Digital Marketing in 2018

Every year around this time I take a step back and to ponder some predictions for our field for the coming year. Some come to be, others are a few years early - and then there are predictions which I’m still waiting to come true years later.

You can’t win them all, unfortunately. That said, the trends I’m following lead me to believe that the seven predictions below will become true in 2018.
So without further ado, I present to you my seven predictions for next year:

1. Blockchain Infiltrates Paid Media

It’s the technological foundation for today’s cryptocurrencies, it has the ability to digitize, decentralize, secure and incentivize the validation of transactions. It’s the democratization of trust using distributed digital ledgers.
Its impact will be significantly felt in the programmatic ad world – driving down costs, while eliminating waste and fraud. Blockchain companies like adChain, Bitteaser, Native Video Box and NEM have all entered the ad tech space.

2. Artifical Intelligence Transforms Web Analytics

We’re seeing artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and/or natural language processing being used in programmatic solutions, as well as influencer advertising solutions. Many of the most successful demand-side platforms (DSPs) have some form of AI already integrated. Next year will be the year supply-side platforms (SSPs) will start to embrace AI en masse.
In addition, there’s been a new wave of AI-driven analytics cropping up (DemandJump) in 2018. These solutions will completely disrupt the traditional analytics tools many are used to using, enabling marketers to be more choosy with how they spend their time and ad dollars - thus, maximizing return.

3. Influencer Marketing Moves from a Tactic to a Strategy

I just finished a comprehensive case study on a small business that uses influencer marketing to power every aspect of its marketing - they only publish influencer articles on their blog and all of its ebooks and guides are from influencers. It features influencer content in all of its newsletters and its annual magazine - it even controls some of the social media accounts of some of its influencers.
Their approach has led to a 35% increase in sales since last year.
Influencer marketing can be so much more than a roundup post. I predict more companies will begin to adopt a strategic model, like the one described above, in 2018.

4. Media Companies will Start to Take Significant Market Share from Agencies Globally

Whether agencies know it or not, media companies (especially in Europe) are signing significant service contracts with brands. Historically, this budget went to agencies.
The rapid growth of native advertising has propelled media companies to create and build their own content studios (internal agencies).
Media companies have a distinct advantage over most agencies, too - they have their own significant audiences to tap into, post content creation. This year we saw media companies branch out more by offering more than just creative services. From paid media to virtual reality, content studios are really beginning to look like full-fledged agencies. The New York Times has even built its own influencer marketing network.
These trends will certainly be felt in the wallets of many agencies.

5.Net Neutrality Elimination in the US will Take a Heavy Toll on Digital Marketers

This is the one prediction I hope doesn’t come to fruition. If net neutrality get’s overturned by the FCC, ISPs will be given the green light to create fast and slow lanes on the Internet. Potentially, this could mean that consumers will have to pay more to access certain websites, and that certain websites will have to pay ISPs more for consumers to access their websites.
Such change would impact all of the work and tools digital marketers use on a daily basis. It also has the potential to create a massive barrier to entry for any cloud solutions – both consumer and cloud company.
Imagine waking up tomorrow and not being able to access your social media accounts, analytics, Google Docs, Dropbox, Skype, GoToMeeting, and so on, and so on.

6. Native Advertising Agencies, or Agency Service Lines, Will Begin to Crop Up En Masse

To date I only know of seven agencies globally that specialize in delivering native advertising distribution of content - which is surprising given the fact that there are over 360 native ad tech companies in this space. With native advertising spend predicted to surpass $85 billion globally in 2020, it would be shocking if we don’t see more agencies looking to get their share of it next year.
I’ve also been approached on more than one occasion by agency owners this year asking to help them create a paid content distribution team or native advertising team. This isn’t coincidence.
I predict whole specialized service lines built around native advertising from agencies in 2018.

7. The Native Advertising Technology Landscape will Surpass 500 Vendors

This year alone we’ve seen the native advertising technology landscape move from 272 native ad tech companies to nearly 370, and there’s no reason to believe this trend will slow down in 2018. In fact, on the contrary, it will likely speed up. If the Chief MarTech lumascape is any example, surpassing 500 vendors in 12 months is being conservative.
Those are my seven predictions for 2018 folks. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that number five doesn’t happen - we’ll know next month what our fate will be.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this list is that we’re entering a new era of transparency with paid media, whether native or not. And AI and blockchain will have a transformative impact on all paid media.
This post was first published on the Relevance blog.
Written by:  
Photo by: Tommy Tong - Unsplash

December 19, 2017

Voice AI: The Next Frontier of Brand Marketing

67 million voice-assisted devices will be in use in the U.S. by 2019

Soon enough, your breakfast bar could be your search bar. Your lamp could be how you shop for lightbulbs. Your Chevy or Ford might be your vehicle for finding a YouTube video, like the classic SNL skit of Chevy Chase’s send-up of President Gerald Ford, to make a long drive less tedious. And you won’t have to lift a finger—all you’ll need to do is turn toward one of those inanimate objects and say something. Welcome to a future where your voice is the main signal for the elaborate data grid known as your life.

Two decades ago when Amazon and Google were founded, only a seer could have predicted that those companies would eventually start turning the physical world into a vast, voice-activated interface. Artificial intelligence-powered voice is what perhaps makes Amazon and Google the real duopoly to watch (sorry, Facebook), as their smart speakers—2-year-old Amazon Echo and 8-month-old Google Home—are gaining traction. Forty-five million voice-assisted devices are now in use in the U.S., according to eMarketer, and that number will rise to 67 million by 2019. Amazon Echo, which utilizes the ecommerce giant’s voice artificial intelligence called Alexa, owns roughly 70 percent of the smart speaker market, per eMarketer.

“Our vision is that customers will be able to access Alexa whenever and wherever they want,” says Steve Rabuchin, vp of Amazon Alexa. “That means customers may be able to talk to their cars, refrigerators, thermostats, lamps and all kinds of devices in and outside their homes.”

While brand marketers are coming to grips with a consumer landscape where touch points mutate into listening points, search marketing pros are laying important groundwork by focusing on what can be done with Amazon Echo and Google Home (the latter of which employs a voice AI system called Assistant). With voice replacing fingertips, search is ground zero right now when it comes to brands.

But how will paid search figure into it all?
Gummi Hafsteinsson, Google Assistant product lead, says that, for now, the goal is to create a personalized user experience that “can answer questions, manage tasks, help get things done and also have some fun with music and more. We’re starting with creating this experience and haven’t shared details on advertising within the Assistant up to this point.”
While Hafsteinsson declined further comment about ads, agencies are now preparing for them. “In the near term, [organic search] is going to be the way to get your brands represented for Google Home,” says 360i president Jared Belsky, who points to comScore data that forecasts 50 percent of all search will be via voice tech by 2020. “Then ultimately, the ads auction will follow. You’ll be bidding to get your brand at the top of searches. I believe that’s the way it will go. Think about it—it has to.”
Jeremy Lockhorn, vp of emerging media at SapientRazorfish, remarks, “The specificity of voice search combined with what any of the platforms are already able to surmise about your specific context [such as current location] should ultimately result in more personalized results—and for advertisers, more narrowly targeted.”
Brands—which are accustomed to being relatively satisfied when showing up in the top five query results on desktops and phones—should brace for a new search reality, Belsky warns, where they may have to worry about being in either the first or second voice slot or else risk not being heard at all. “There’s going to be a battle for shelf space, and each slot should theoretically be more expensive,” he says. “It’s the same amount of interest funneling into a smaller landscape.”
Scott Linzer, vp of owned media at iCrossing, adds that consumers may not “find it an inviting or valuable-enough experience to listen to two, three or more search results.”
Marketer interest in voice search is downright palpable in some circles. Fresh off a tour of client visits in Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, 360i’s Belsky reports that “every CMO, every vp of marketing and, especially, every ecommerce client is asking about this subject first and foremost. And they have three questions. ‘What should I do to prepare for when voice is the driver of ecommerce?’ The second one is, ‘What content do I have to think about to increase my chances to be the preferred answer with these devices?’ And, ‘Will all my search budget one day migrate onto these devices?’ There’s not obvious answers to any of these questions. Being early to all of this means you get the spoils.”
National Public Radio may not seem like an obvious media brand when it comes to being an early AI adopter, but the 47-year-old news organization has moved quickly in the space. Its news, music and storytelling app, NPR One, is evidently infused with machine learning, offering listeners curated options based on their shown preferences. And the organization extended the reach of NPR One’s content by inking a deal with Amazon Alexa in February. Since then, the phrase, “Alexa, play NPR News Now,” has been regularly heard in 400,000 homes that use the service. Additionally, NPR One has functionalities that its corporate sponsors have appreciated for some time; in particular, letting brands get extended audio mobile messaging when consumers want to hear more.
“They can press a button on the phone to hear more about what [carmaker] Kia is doing around innovation,” says Meg Goldthwaite, NPR’s marketing chief. Is voice-enabled digital advertising—where the listener asks for more Kia content and perhaps even fills out a test-drive form—right around the bend for NPR? “It’s absolutely possible,” she says.
Goldthwaite is probably onto something. Last year, IBM launched Watson Ads, which lets viewers “talk” with a brand’s ad and request additional info. Toyota, Campbell Soup and Unilever have tested the units, often averaging between one and two minutes of engagement, per Big Blue. “We have already begun to see that consumers are spending more time with these cognitive ads than with other digital ads,” says Carrie Seifer, CRO for the IBM Watson content and IoT platform.
Imagine being able to talk to video ads via Amazon Echo Show, a smart screen that comes juiced with Alexa voice functionalities. Costing $230, the device shipped in late June and provides a glimpse into next-gen households of the 2020s with talking screens, holograms, appliances and vehicles that Amazon exec Rabuchin alluded to.
“Voice is a productivity tool,” remarks Linda Boff, CMO of GE. Her company provides an intriguing business-to-business example of how AI-based utilities will soon help enormously expensive products like locomotives, jet engines and turbines sell themselves. For instance, GE has developed a prototype that lets an otherwise insentient locomotive send a voice message to a repair technician describing what needs to be fixed. It’s part of GE’s Digital Twin program, which creates 3-D representations of industrial assets and can process information gathered from individual machines globally to better inform decisions. It’s essentially machine-based crowdsourcing for when trains need to fill up on digital feedback instead of diesel fuel.
“The twin can call you and tell you, ‘I have an issue with my rotor,’” explains Colin Parris, vp, GE Software Research, who reveals that his brand’s voice AI features will roll out widely in 2018. “It can provide basic information that a service rep would want. Like, ‘What was the last journey you took? How many miles did you travel?’”
Staples also plans to flip the switch on its b-to-b voice AI initiative early next year. In  partnership with IBM Watson, the retailer’s Easy Button—a fixture in its TV spots—will add an intelligent, voice-activated ordering service, which already has been tested in recent months by office managers with enterprise clients.
The business supplies chain is practically providing a step-by-step tutorial on how to build such an Echo-like device. Teaming with conversational design and software company Layer, Staples first built an AI-anchored chat app and carefully analyzed the conversations.
“It helped us narrow down our use cases and create more robust experiences around the core challenges we were trying to solve,” says Ian Goodwin, head of Staples’ applied innovation team. “Once we got a really good idea of what our customers were asking on chat channels, then we built the voice experience with the Easy Button. It was really a gradual ramp-up rather than just going out and doing it.”
Indeed, voice AI probably shouldn’t be rushed to market. One company that understands that is Trunk Club, a Nordstrom-owned men’s clothier that recently rejected an offer from Amazon to be a fashion partner for Echo. Justin Hughes, Trunk Club’s vp of product development, isn’t AI-averse—he’s hoping to use voice activation in the next 18 months to spur his company’s subscriptions-based sales. But the timing with Amazon wasn’t right for his brand.
“If you are going to purchase between $300 and $1,000 of clothes, we don’t want it to be a weird experience—we want it to be something you return to often,” Hughes says. “There is so much imperfection in voice AI right now; it can be clunky.”
The vp also pointed to an elephant in the room—data ownership—when it comes to retailers partnering with Amazon or Google. “We just don’t want to give them all of our talk tracks,” Hughes says.
What’s more, hackers in the future might find a way to siphon off data collected from various “listening points” in homes and offices. Just last spring, Burger King caught considerable heat from privacy advocates after its television spot—which, in spite of the brouhaha, won a Cannes Grand Prix—hacked Google Home devices around the country.
The last thing voice-focused marketers want is Uncle Sam on the case. “As in-home, voice-controlled AI technology becomes even more prevalent and evolves in terms of substance—more capable of offering real answers to real questions—marketers will need to be increasingly careful to properly follow FTC disclosure and advertising guidelines,” notes advertising lawyer Ronald Camhi.
And since voice AI could greatly impact search-driven commerce, it’d probably be wise for Amazon and Google to encourage industry best practices. Then again, they might want to actually form a larger circle that also includes Facebook, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft. Facebook last week purchased AI startup Ozlo and is rumored to be developing speaker technology of its own. Apple has star power in Siri, and Samsung in late July debuted voice capabilities for its assistant, Bixby. Also, Microsoft will continue to market its AI assistant, Cortana, in hopes of getting a significant piece of voice real estate.
Says Abhisht Arora, general manager of search and AI marketing at Microsoft, “Our focus is to go beyond voice search to create an assistant that has your back.”

A Rube Goldberg apparatus for the marketing history books

What do you get when you jerry-rig six Google Homes, six Alexa Dots, six laptops, six soundproof boxes and four extension cords? You get an apparatus that’d make Back to the Future’s Doc Brown proud.
Along with a bottle of Puerto Rican rum for the technicians, those are all of the ingredients that were poured into 360i’s VSM, or Voice Search Monitor, which is the brainchild of Mike Dobbs, the agency’s longtime vp of SEO. This makeshift system is designed to give clients like Norwegian Cruise Line an edge as smart speakers increasingly influence consumers’ purchase decisions.
VSM asks Google Home and Alexa Dot (Echo’s little sister device) thousands of questions around the clock, and whether the queries are answered automatically gets recorded on an Excel spreadsheet. An early round of testing found that for the travel category, Google answered 72 percent of questions while Amazon responded to 13 percent of the queries. In the second round of testing for finance, Google answered 68 percent of questions while Amazon answered roughly 14 percent.
Dobbs thinks unanswered questions present brands with an opportunity to become the search result with targeted, voice-minded digital content. “That’s one interesting thing that we believe is going to be white space that marketers need to explore,” he says. “They can raise their hands to take conversations on when major systems don’t have the data sources or depths to [provide an answer].”
Right now, his team is focused on speakers. But how long before they have to pivot and figure out how voice-powered refrigerators and other appliances impact clients’ needs?
“I don’t think it’s 2025—I honestly think it will be in the next two to five years,” Dobbs predicts. “Those technologies are not as elegant at they need to be right now. But, yeah, in five years—we’ll be there.”
Written by: Christopher Heine - ADWEEK
View Article Here  Photo by: Piotr Cichosz | Unsplash

December 18, 2017

11 Digital Management Mistakes You May Be Making

The internet and mobile technology has forever changed the way customers make purchases and how we need to market to them. Digital marketing over the last decade has been proven to be one of the most effective, if not the most effective, way to reach potential and existing customers at a reasonable price. If you aren't maximizing your digital marketing efforts then you'll need to implement some changes immediately to get back on track. Check to see if your digital marketing strategy is failing and falling into any of these mistake categories:  

1. Failing To Update Your Blog 

If your last blog post is a month ago, Google isn’t going to include it in a lot of searches, because there are a lot of other sites that are constantly updating their content and such sites have higher priority in Google’s eyes. No matter how well-made your blog is, if it isn’t up to date it isn’t going to appear on Google, which means that you aren’t going to draw a lot of new customers in. You might think that it’s counter-productive to dish out filler blog posts just so your blog will be updated, and that may be true, but it’s also kind of an excuse. Constantly keep your mind on creating new, interesting and relevant content that isn’t filler (or at least, not completely filler) and you’ll find that it will benefit your business greatly. 

Remember, content is king for a reason! It gets results.

2. Neglecting Your Data

Analytics are hands-down the best way to tell you what sells on the Internet these days. Look at the numbers a few times a week and try to deduce how you can improve your website based on those numbers. And honestly, looking at digital analytics is a lot easier than before. Some time ago you didn’t have applications such as Google Analytics that could provide you with this important information, and you’d have to do the research yourself. It’s still a bit of a tedious process, but significantly watered down compared to how it was a decade ago. 

3. Not Hiring Real Industry Experts 

Digital marketing is a creative process and requires you to know quite a bit about a number of things, and trying to do all of it yourself can often backfire, because you simply aren’t equipped with all the necessary knowledge, especially if you’re just starting off. Because of this, you should seriously consider putting together a team of experts, each of them in their own respective field, to help you out. This will yield you the best results, because not only will it split the workload, but you’ll have a number of people who you can trust and who know how to do their job. It's not always the best strategy to hire the cheapest candidate who is right out of college just because it makes financial sense and you assume that because of their age they know everything about online marketing.

I'm all about saving money obviously, but remember this tidbit of wisdom from Red Addair:

"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

4. Text Overload 

The more the better, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, with the constant distractions that plague Internet users nowadays, our attention spans are significantly shorter than they were several years ago, and most people will give up on your blog post if it’s too long or too broad. And besides, more content definitely doesn’t equate to better content. In fact, the fewer words you can use to make your point and elaborate your product/service, the less time and energy it will take the reader to understand what you’re on about – and therefore, the more likely they are to remain interested. 

5. Skimping On Digital Security 

What does security have to do with Digital marketing, you ask? Plenty, actually. Since most of your work is going to be conducted via the web, you’re going to be exposed to a variety of online security risks. There’s nothing worse than having a huge DDoS or a data leak happen to you, the moment that you thought everything else was going perfectly. The problem is that people these days don’t really comprehend how important Internet security is, until it’s too late. So don’t let that happen to you; set yourself up with some security plugins (if you’re using WordPress, there’s a myriad to choose from), perhaps a two-step authentication system and a good VPN to encrypt your connection. 

Simply put, you can't effectively market to your customers if your websites aren't secure, customer data isn't secure, and your work computers are infected with viruses or ransomware.

6. Resorting To Clickbait Tactics 

If your titles sound something like “This Product Will Change Your Life Forever”, you’re doing it wrong. These titles are misleading, annoying to readers, and not even that effective these days. The fact of the matter is that people have been avoiding these ploys, so by using it you’re actually bound to lose their trust instead of gaining it. Be as honest as possible with your product, and don’t resort to misleading titles. If what you’re offering is a quality brand, you aren’t going to need it anyway, and you certainly don’t want to chase your clientele away. It’s an annoying marketing habit that needs to disappear, and the sooner it does, the better for all of us. 

You might get some extra website traffic in the short term, but long term your credibility could be shot.

7. Neglecting Social Media Marketing 

Unfortunately I see many inferior social media marketing campaigns daily. On Facebook I see pages with minimal likes, no interaction, infrequent posts, and negative comments posted without any response. Sometimes a post is unprofessional, negative, irrelevant, or mentions a polarizing issue (politics or religion for example). On Twitter I often see lack of interaction, unpolished profiles (no header, fuzzy profile picture, no background, poor profile wording), inconsistent posts, or irrelevant posts. Pinterest and Instagram accounts may be incomplete, ineffective, or non-existent. On LinkedIn I see company pages that aren't optimized at all and haven't been updated in years. Don't get me started on the profiles with selfies as their professional pictures, or their empty summary and experience sections. "Growth Hacking Ninja" is not a real term that should be listed on what is essentially an online resume and portfolio that can be viewed by anyone in the world. 

The main issue I see on YouTube (besides low views and subscribers), is a lack of response to comments posted, including offensive language and spam. That isn't an issue due to a lack of talent or intelligence, it's really just a matter of insufficient effort and vigilance. YouTube success can often hinge on your dedication to your loyal viewers and prospective subscribers. On many of these platforms, the following : follower ratios may appear horrendous. Overall, I see a lack of consistency, interaction, professionalism, relevance, focus, and scale when it comes to many businesses and their social media marketing. Nowadays especially it's also crucial to have a very comprehensive and polished Instagram account and at least the beginnings of a Snapchat marketing strategy. 

8. Neglecting Online Reputation Management 

A lot of companies aren't monitoring feedback from their visitors, prospects, customers, or former employees. This includes review websites, business complaint sites, social media pages, forums, and more. It's crucial to monitor these pages to accentuate positive reviews and provide exceptional customer service to prevent negative reviews. If a negative review does occur, the situation needs to be rectified immediately. Organizations also shouldn't forget to monitor, correct, remove, or report any of the dozens or hundreds of business directories, aggregation sites, or spam sites that include your company's information. However, if you have an effective online marketing system in place, the overall significance and relevance of many of these inferior sites will be substantially decreased. 

9. Failing To Gain Employee Support

Not everyone will agree with me on all of my thoughts on this topic, but I think everyone can agree that many employees have a vested interest in their company's success. If a company becomes more successful, it is more likely that the employees of that company will have greater opportunities and compensation. What I observe daily is a lack of employee online support and alignment. Employees do not link to their company's Facebook page. Employees do not properly link to their employer's LinkedIn company page. Mentions and hashtags are not mentioned in employee Twitter profiles. There are minimal likes, shares, or re-tweets. Sometimes on these social media platforms your employees could complain about work in general or their specific company on social media channels. A worst-case scenario could involve a scandal resulting in extremely negative publicity. In summary, lack of employee support or improper online behavior by employees can certainly be detrimental to overall digital marketing efforts. 

You can't do it all on your own. If you can leverage employee support behind your digital marketing campaigns like HubSpot, Tech Target, and countless other companies you'll achieve far greater results.

10. Not Focusing On Profit Margins

Why should businesses use online marketing? MONEY! That's the bottom line. Cut expenses, increase revenue. Improve how others view your company and it will improve your BOTTOM LINE! Everything that is published or managed online by a business should be achieving that goal directly or indirectly. But you would be surprised at the number of business websites and social media platforms that aren't generating revenue. Or they are only generating a fraction of the income they could be eliciting. 

Sure, the website may cover the basics such as general product or service information. But do they allow the purchase of products or services directly from the site? Are gift cards and merchandise available for the visitor to buy to generate income and grow the brand? Are advertising networks enabled to monetize traffic? Is an email newsletter in place to convert prospects or remind current customers to continue buying and sharing their experience? Are you requesting visitor information so that their data can be passed along to the sales team for potential conversion? These are the questions that businesses need to be asking to make sure they aren't missing out on opportunities to leverage their online presence financially. 

11. Lack Of Website Updates

This is one of the simplest things but you'd be surprised how many companies don't update their main websites. Many companies are not updating their main website design or basic website information including contact information, logos, blogs, or their latest promotions. Many companies also use an outdated website that was designed years ago and it shows (especially when compared with a competitor's state of the art website). The company website is often the first experience a potential customer will have with your business. Make it a positive, dynamic, mobile-first, and user-friendly experience. A business website needs to be constantly evolving and improving to reflect company changes and current market trends. And don't forget that it is almost mandatory these days to have a mobile-friendly website to avoid Google PageRank penalties and negative user experience. 

And for the record, I understand that this website isn't exactly state-of-the-art. It's supposed to be frugal to go with the theme, it has been dependable over a period of nearly 10 years, and has made me thousands of dollars for every 1 dollar I've invested into it. It may not seem like a 6-figure website but it is, and it has cost me only 3 figures!


Hopefully going over these potential mistakes has reminded you to improve your digital marketing strategies and given you a new perspective on some strategies you already employ. Digital marketing is all about keeping up with the times, sticking with strategies that have proven to be effective and dropping the other ones. It’s also about subtlety, drawing your audience in and building trust from the moment they stumble upon your product, and the difference between the good marketing and the bad is often only in the subtlety itself. We wish you the best of luck in all your further digital marketing endeavors, and as long as you keep these tips in mind we’re certain that they’re going to be successful.

Bootstrap Business by Michael J Schiemer
Read Article Here
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

December 15, 2017

Reaching hard-to-reach customers with marketing strategy

Reaching hard-to-reach customers is not easy, but also not unattainable. When developing your marketing strategy, you must be aware of the fact you have a limited amount of your customer’s attention. 

Below are some tips on how to engage, entice, and inspire your target audience to go on a journey with you while putting their needs first.

Pinpoint effective channels as quickly as possible

While you only have a limited amount of time to gain your prospects attention, you need to create a campaign that includes creative messaging that specifically fits their needs, while reaching them on various channels. You don’t always hit the nail on the head your first go-around, but utilizing the test and learn approach can effectively help you fine tune your plan as quickly as possible. Starting broad with a general awareness is best at first while you learn your customer base. Once you have a better understanding of your target demographic, you can move to targeted brand campaigns honing in on the learnings you have found.

Stay mobile

Content you serve must be to the point and easily consumable on a mobile device. Consumers spend so much time throughout each day on their phone it is important to reach them here. The goal is to integrate relevant advertising into your target audiences normal path of conversation without completely disrupting the consumer experience. Make sure you strategize your call to action appropriately, making it easy for your customer to “sign up”, “learn more”, or “buy”.

Personalize your ads

Avoid serving consumers with irrelevant ads by keeping a list around their prospect profile. Building out a list around learned information regarding your client base, purchase intent, past purchase behavior, etc will go a long way for future targeting.  With this list, you can use and create lookalike audiences, while avoiding making the costly mistake of reaching the wrong customers. The more you know about your audience, the less holes will be in your data to help you build attribution models that work. Making your customers feel special, as if you are individually marketing to them, should be the ultimate goal.

Written by: Stephani Nunez
Photo by: STIL on Unsplash

December 14, 2017

7 Mistakes You’re Making With Video Content

With more than 75 million people watching online videos every day in the U.S. alone, video has become a driving force in delivering marketing messages. Increasing brand awareness, explaining products, optimizing landing pages, developing social media content, and providing educational tutorials are just a few of the ways that video is used as an effective marketing tool. The fact that viewers are likely to retain around 95% of a video message vs. 10% of written text is one reason that video works.

On the other hand, attempts at using video content for marketing can go awry if some of these aspects don’t get enough attention:

Wrong Channel

While YouTube does maintain activity for at least 1/3 of all internet users, other video channels may be more effective for your particular target audience. Since Facebook is the most popular social media channel in the world, you may be missing out on your target audience if you’re not using it. Demographic studies can help to better understand the preferences of your audience and pinpoint which channels will perform best.

Bad Titles and Poor SEO

Just because content is video form, doesn’t mean that SEO can be tossed out the window. Titles, descriptions, categories, and tags all act as critical identifiers to draw your target audience in. Of course, using misleading tags in order to get more views is a really bad idea. Remember that it’s not massive numbers of people you want watching—it’s the right people.

Too Long

Most people today have a short attention span and want instant gratification. Around 2/3 of viewers prefer videos that last one minute or less. Time is a commodity and asking people to use their time by watching your video should offer some sort of payoff. Creating content where the first few seconds grab the attention should help earn trust. Be sure to maintain trust by making your video short, to-the-point, and valuable.

Ho-Hum Content

Striking the perfect balance between a boring video and ridiculous hype can be a challenge. Videos should send a message. Whether it is meant to be helpful, entertaining, or moving, your video should provoke the viewer to feel, think, or respond in some way. Enthusiasm and emotion are what make videos share-able and gain traction online. Building curiosity by using cliff-hangers may be an effective way to lead viewers on the buyer’s journey.

Morphing into a Sales Pitch

Remember, the last message you want to be sending is that you are trying to sell something. Video content that resembles infomercials makes it about your needs (selling stuff) rather than about meeting the viewers’ needs. Video content included within a larger marketing plan is part of the whole picture of leading your potential clients through the buyer’s journey, without a pesky sales pitch.

Forgetting the Call to Action

When you can identify the direction you are taking your viewers, you can help lead them along on the road toward conversion. A video should move the audience toward a call-to-action without fading to black so there is no opportunity to back out prior to the call-to-action. Driving viewers to watch another video, sign up for a free trial, download an eBook, or respond to some other type of CTA will lead them further along on the buyer’s journey.

Missing Analytics

Determine who is watching your videos, which ones they watch, how long they watch, and which parts they watch. This information is critical for measuring effectiveness, telling you where the viewer is in the funnel, and allowing insight into what type of CTA and/or follow up would be most effective. For instance, if viewers are consistently dropping off about halfway through then you can assume either your videos are too long or that your titles and tags are not leading them to what they want. In the same way, knowing that viewers are skipping certain sections but watching others repeatedly helps you to optimize the content you already have.
When well executed, video has the potential to be one of your most effective marketing tools. But if you aren’t researching, planning, analyzing, and optimizing, then your efforts will likely fall flat.

Written by: Roman Kniahynyckyj
Photo by: Jakob Owens
Stephani's Space © . Design by FCD.