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In years past (not to date myself), marketers were often able to reuse the same marketing content over and over for a year or two. A set of great case studies would serve your sales team for a few years. Even during my MBA program, we learned from case studies that were five years old and still relevant to the topics being covered in class. However, those days are long gone. Today, marketers struggle to create strong, relevant and current content. I would even venture a guess that content creation is one of the biggest challenges we face nowadays as marketing professionals.

Most organizations have some sort of email newsletter, blog, or social media presence. However, the majority lack the most important ingredient: relevancy. I often subscribe to peer-written newsletters and blogs looking to learn from them, only to find myself unsubscribing within a month or two. A disappointing majority of the sources I encounter lack both expertise and relevant content, which in turn can be detrimental to their brands.

Published in The Marketing Edge
Thursday, 14 June 2012 08:39

Effective SEO = higher conversion rates

Most people have heard of the term Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), and understand its impact on the effectiveness of their website through improved search engine rankings. A site with no SEO is much more difficult if not impossible to find if you do not already know its direct URL.

The most important element of any SEO campaign is something known as link building. Each website that posts a link to your website acts like a vote for your website on search engine rankings. This helps make your website more visible and easy to find when people search for related queries.

Link building must be employed for every page of your website, as Google assesses each page individually and assigns it a page rank not the overall website. This process is called deep linking, which refers to the fact that some of your inbound links go to the inner pages of your website, rather than simply to your home page.

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 16:01

Smart marketers learn from their mistakes

Forbes recently reported a new research study from Stanford's business school, which suggests that individuals who tend towards feeling guilty when they do something wrong exhibit strong performance as leaders. The study involved 520 people and three separate experiments. For each of these experiments, researchers subjected participants to online personality tests that measured their tendency to feel both guilt and shame, among other traits.

Many (if not most) people think that guilt and shame are the same emotion. Psychologists, however, feel that this is incorrect. The difference, they say, lies in the actions a person performs subsequently. After doing something wrong, guilt-prone people often want to correct their mistake to make things right. Those who experience shame, on the other hand, tend to feel bad about themselves, but do nothing to correct their errors.

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 30 May 2012 14:35

Do Facebook Ads Work?

The short answer: Yes and no. To many marketers, Facebook advertising is a challenge. Most brands want to maintain contact with their target audience globally, using the most widely-adopted social network - but doing so is more complicated than it first seems. The truth is that most marketers haven't yet been able to prove the success of their Facebook advertising campaigns through verifiable conversion rates, but rather only through an increase in their fan base on the platform.

According to an article written by Ben Bunz of BusinessWeek, Facebook 'likes' have become a devalued currency. 'Liking [has become] as common as blinking, and a like' no longer signals that a consumer loves your brand,' said Bunz. Most organizations do not experience interaction with all of their fans; in fact, most fan interaction is at the other end of the spectrum, averaging less than 1 percent per day.

It's hard to convince business owners and marketers to continue to invest money into Facebook advertising, as they haven't yet been able to reap the fruits of their past investments on the platform. One striking example was the recent announcement that GM is going to withdraw its $10M Facebook advertising budget this year. Why? Among many reasons, including budget cuts, there is a simple one: Facebook hasn't been able to prove that their ads work.

Published in The Marketing Edge

With so many marketing channels available and competing for your advertising dollars, it's hard not to fall into the trap of marketing fragmentation. Each advertising channel will offer a 'better solution,' with a 'higher ROI,' and 'guaranteed exposure.' These offers are, of course, very appealing to business owners and marketers coming out of a recession with an enormous thirst for business growth.

In reality, 'integrated marketing' is simply what good marketing should be! The over-use of the word 'integrated' has turned it into another buzzword. Any good marketer knows that consistency is the most important ingredient in a successful marketing campaign.

To test how integrated or effective your marketing program is, take a look at all of your campaigns and see if they are all communicating the same message. Marketing integration is a lot more than using your brand's colors, logo and tagline. As a matter of a fact, unless you're Apple, Google or IBM (the top three most recognizable brands in the world, according to an Accenture report) most people will not remember this information if asked on the spot to describe your brand.

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 16:44

Marketing spring cleaning

According to research conducted by Forrester Research, B2B firms have seen an average increase of 6.8 percent in their allocated marketing funds this year as compared to 2011. This budget expansion is a reassuring sign that the economy is picking up and B2B organizations are beginning to see substantial growth in revenue giving their marketing efforts an invigorating boost of capital.

After a few years of marketing budget drought, the new challenge for B2B marketers is figuring out the best ways to invest their funds. Although an increase of 6 percent or more may sound amazing, some of these budgets had been slashed to the bone and even with the increase, funds haven't yet returned to the point they were at five or six years ago.

As an agency, we suggest that our clients begin by taking a close look at their marketing activities. Nothing works better than developing a fresh marketing plan to assess where your business stands versus where you want it to be, and how you'll get there. This exercise is invaluable. Having a realistic view of where your business is positioned in the market in relation to your competition is the best reality check.

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:39

Analyzing the success of your SEO program

Having a well-designed website doesn't mean that your organization has secured a visible web presence. In order to ensure that your website is highly 'discoverable,' you must invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website in search engines via 'natural' or unpaid ('organic') search results.

SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-time deal, and it requires maintenance in order to remain effective and ensure a return on your investment. Measuring the success of your program on a regular basis will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as ways to address them. Therefore, it is important to run regular stats reports on your website's traffic so that you can compare its performance each time you make any changes to your program.

Ultimately, as with any other marketing undertaking, the goal of an SEO investment is to increase conversions whether your goal is to sell a product or service, recruit followers to a cause, or distribute news.

Published in The Marketing Edge

Pinterest is a fast-growing social platform that can be used to store and share images associated with your brand. It can be also helpful in driving traffic to your website, and can serve as a powerful link building technique to support your current SEO program.

The cool thing about Pinterest is that it is overwhelmingly positive in nature. People don't pin complaints, or negative interactions - they pin their passions.

According to a research conducted by Internet Marketing Inc, 80 percent of Pinterest's users are female. Seventy-five percent of all users are between 25 and 54 years of age; they are well educated (85 percent have some level of college education), and with an average annual household income of $50k or more.

Published in The Marketing Edge

The U.S. economy is getting better I can tell. After four dry years, business is finally picking up, and small business owners are able to invest in marketing once again. That is not to say that as a country we're fully rolling - but there is light at the end of this long recession tunnel.

The best thing about tough economic times is that we are forced to learn how to become more frugal and use our dollars more wisely. This is also true when it comes to marketing your business. 2012 marketing budgets are not at 2007 levels yet, but they have been steadily increasing.

There are many creative ways to effectively stretch your marketing budget in order to gain more exposure. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Published in The Marketing Edge
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 16:42

QR Codes: How much is too much?

The over-use of QR codes has become something of a running joke around our office. We have seen them on TV commercials (we're still trying to figure out how anyone has enough time to launch an app and scan a code that only appears on-screen for a few seconds) business cards that have no information other than a logo and a QR code (which give the prospect no incentive or context to encourage them to learn more), mattresses tags with a QR code and no price (which creates a higher barrier to entry for customers), and the best of all QR codes that do not work at all (which nearly guarantee a prospect will not make a second attempt).

So, I have been asking around: How many times have you scanned a QR code from a TV ad? Do you prefer to receive a business card with a QR code, or does that trendy boxed code become a barrier to sales conversions? Not surprisingly, the results of my survey mostly conducted on friends over a good glass of wine indicate that many organizations might be overusing QR codes. Perhaps this happens simply because they are currently 'cool' and in-vogue, and businesses want to capitalize on a growing trend.

Published in The Marketing Edge
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