One of the biggest social media trends projected for 2014 is the rise of visual content. Image-based updates have up to that site than text-based updates, and video content is in between. Photos and videos are fun and engaging, but they aren’t easy to create and quality stock photos are expensive. A small business can have trouble taking advantage of this trend because visual content is simply harder to put together than text content. Here are a few ways your brand can still capitalize on the visual content trend in spite of some of its barriers to entry.
One of the laws of business is that it’s always more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to sell more to an existing customer. Part of the reason is that having more information about the people you are marketing to translates directly into better sales leads and more receptive purchasers. This is because trust has previously been established, and you can more precisely tailor your offer based on the data you have, so your audience will be more likely to consider your advertising and marketing. From a business perspective, this means less cost per advertisement and significantly improved marketing results.
To effectively retarget an offer to existing customers there are three main steps that you need to follow.
Attending conferences and expos on behalf of your company is often an expensive undertaking. Between admission to the trade show, materials for your booth, lodging for the staff, and perhaps even a spot as a sponsor, attending events like these often requires substantial investment on behalf of your business. The benefit is that rarely will you find a higher concentration of your company’s core prospects in one location, available and even eager to connect with companies like yours about doing business. So how do you make sure that you capitalize on this opportunity and ensure that your company makes a profitable return on its investment? Here are 5 tips for how to get more business from conferences and networking events:
NBC’s “The Voice” wrapped up their 5th season this month, crowning Jamaican songstress Tessanne Chin as the winner. Not only did the singing competition find a new, amazing musician, but they also added a twist to the voting procedures that angered many fans. The series started its “Twitter Save” this season, where viewers can tweet a hashtag during a five-minute window to save one of the contestants in the bottom three from elimination, allowing that one person to continue in the competition. It’s a nice idea in theory, but the online engagement for the TV show was riddled with hiccups and mistakes. Here’s how you, as a small business, can create online engagement with your offline events without angering followers and customers.
When developing your company’s marketing and branding materials, one of the most common challenges is how detailed you should make your creative. After all, if you go into too much detail you risk overwhelming the prospect. If they’re presented with a long, text-heavy design, there’s a good chance they will decide it’s not worth their time to read it all. In their minds, if the only way they will be able to understand the value of your business is by examining a novel-length promotional piece, then your product or service is not for them.
On the other hand, if you don’t give your prospects any details and your promotional materials are only flashy designs with little substance, then your audience will become suspicious that you are hiding something. If you can’t back up the attention-getting claims in your promotional materials with facts or explanations, your prospects will assume your offer is probably too good to be true.
So how do you resolve this conflict? How do you know that your are providing enough detail to make your business seem legitimate, but not so much that it overwhelms your potential customers? The first step in finding the balance that’s right for your company is to understand what the purpose of using details is to begin with.
While the amount of marketing and advertising that occurs online is substantial and continues to grow, businesses still make large investments in offline marketing as well. From newspaper and magazine ads, to billboards, to radio and TV commercials, to direct mail, there are plenty of prominent and effective marketing channels used by businesses that do not happen online. The key issue many businesses face now is how to track the online results for their offline marketing campaigns.
The core idea behind tracking the online results of offline marketing activities is being able to connect a given marketing piece with a visitor when they come to your website. If your company has been wondering how its offline marketing activities have impacted things like website visitors, online leads, e-commerce sales and more, here are four ways you can track the online activity that results from your offline marketing campaigns.
1. Domain Redirects and Alias Phone Numbers
The first way that you can identify which offline marketing piece caused a person to visit your website or call your phone number is by setting up domain redirects and alias phone numbers. Domain redirects allow you to point multiple domains to your website and alias phone numbers allow you to send multiple phone numbers to your main line. Both methods can be tracked to identify which original domain or phone number, and therefore which offline marketing piece, was responsible for that visitor or phone call.
To create domain redirects, first you will need to purchase the domains for your campaign. For example, if you were running a regional promotional campaign for your sporting goods store and your normal website is joessportinggoods.com, you could buy joessportingoodsNY.com, joessportingoodsNJ.com, and joessportinggoodsCT.com.
Once you have those domains, you need set them up so that whenever someone visits them, they get sent to the main page for joessportinggoods.com. You’ll want to use what’s known as a “301 Redirect,” but if the technical aspects of this are too advanced for you the person who created your website should be able to help. There’s also plenty of information about different redirect types on Wikipedia.
When setting up the redirect, in order to be able to track different domains you will need to add tracking code to the redirect URL so that you’ll know which domain generated the website visit. Otherwise a 301 redirect treats the visitor as if the original domain name doesn’t exist and acts as if the visitor went directly to the final URL, so no tracking information will be captured. If you use Google Analytics, simply go to their URL Builder, type your main website address (in the above example it would be joessportingoods.com) in step 1, create tagging information to identify the referral in step 2, and then after clicking submit use the resulting URL in the redirect. This way when someone visits the URL, they will be redirected to your link with the tracking code and their visitor information will be captured that way.
Now that you’ve setup your domains to redirect with tracking code, all that you have to do is use the appropriate URL in the marketing materials for each state, so that people in New Jersey see joessportinggoodsNJ.com, and if they visit the URL they will be redirected to the URL with the appropriate tracking information and you’ll know which regional campaign was responsible that visit and any purchases that come as a result!
Creating alias phone numbers on a large scale can be more involved, with companies like Call Fire offering solutions for businesses who need in-depth call tracking. For smaller campaigns where you only need a single number, you can use Google Voice to set up an alias number for your existing phone and keep track of how many calls it gets. However your Google Voice account will only allow you to create one new number, so it won’t work for larger campaigns that need multiple numbers.
2. Shortened URLs
Another way to track offline activity is by using shortened URLs. Like domain redirects, you can put different shortened URLs into your marketing pieces and then track each one to determine which item delivered that visitor to the site. While it’s easier to setup shortened URLs than domain redirects, it ultimately requires more organization since you’ll have to keep track of which shortened URL corresponds to which marketing piece and it often looks less professional than having a dedicated URL.
Also, unless you setup URL tracking like in the domain redirect example, you won’t be able to view your results in your analytics platform or have any information beyond which marketing pieces resulted in the most traffic. This is because when a visitor enters a shortened URL your analytics platform behaves as if the person simply came directly to the site, so everyone will show up as a direct visitor and there will be no way to identify them as they browse the site or make purchases because there won’t be any tracking information associated with them. You’ll have to track the visits to your shortened URL through whatever service you use to create them.
If you want to be able to use shortened URLs in your offline marketing and still track visitors in your analytics platform, use the URL builder from the last example to create a trackable URL and then enter that into your URL shortener of choice. That way, like with a domain redirect, after the person types in shortened link it will take them to the URL with the tracking information and capture which marketing piece generated their visit to the site.
3. Custom Pages
A third option is to create custom webpages for your campaigns, and work to ensure that the only way someone will visit these pages is because they have viewed your offline advertising. To take the example of the sporting goods store again, you could create separate pages joessportinggoods.com/baseball, joessportinggoods.com/basketball, and joessportinggoods.com/football in order to run campaigns targeted at each of those sports.
The trick for executing this method is making sure that the only way to reach these pages is when people who see your offline marketing type the URL directly into their browsers. Obviously this means you don’t want to create links to these pages on your website, otherwise people will be able to click on those links to visit the page and it will throw off your results. The key is to make sure that these pages also don’t show up on search engines. In order to do that, you need to modify the metadata for the pages so that they will not be indexed by search engines. To do this, enter <meta name=“robots” content=”noindex” > into the <head> section of the page’s HTML. With no links to the page from your site or from search engines, you’ll help ensure that the only visits these pages get come from your ads so that you get an accurate overview of the effectiveness of your campaigns.
4. Discount Codes
A final way to track online purchases that are generated from offline campaigns is by using unique discount codes for each piece. If each ad has a unique discount code, all your company has to do is track which code is entered during the checkout process and match it up with the appropriate marketing piece. This obviously requires your company to use an ecommerce platform that allows you to create discount codes, and it also doesn’t allow you to track any other website activity besides a purchase, but for businesses that have the capability to handle discount codes and only care about tracking purchases it’s a great option.
Does your company track the online results of its offline marketing campaigns? Let us know how you do it in the comments!
One of the key transition points of the sales process for businesses is closing warm leads and converting them into customers. Your business could be generating volumes of traffic to its site, capturing most of them as leads, and building demand through direct outreach, but if your business struggles to close these leads and turn them into paying customers you won’t have much success no matter how strong your pipeline is. Get more of your top prospects to agree to review a proposal from your company, with the intention of making a purchase, using the following script in an email or letter.
Here are the different segments of the script, followed by what it would look like put together:
Section 1: Headline
The headline is what captures the prospect’s attention and gets them reading. It should be less than thirty words, and it should speak directly to a problem or pain point they have. This section gets the prospect to think to themselves that your product or service just might be the solution they’ve been looking for to reach a key business goal, and makes them want to find out more. If you can get the prospect to think to themselves “How did they do that?” or “I would love to be able to do that,” then you’re on the right track
Section 2: Tie-In Paragraph
The tie-in paragraph transitions from the headline to the purpose of the correspondence, and creates some type of social context for the message. This makes the prospect feel comfortable that your business is well-known, reputable, and trustworthy, so they start to trust the claims you present in the next section of the pitch letter.
Section 3: Benefit Bullets
The benefit bullets are a series of short statements that further explain the advantages using your product or service can provide for the prospect. Again, the prospect needs to see doing business as a way for them to reach their goals, not as a list of features and specifications that don’t mean anything without context.
Section 4: Closing Paragraph
This paragraph has one purpose, to make it extremely easy for the prospect to reply to you with a one-word answer — yes — and have that give your company the opportunity to submit a proposal for their business.
Now that you have the explanations of the different parts, here is how they would look when you put them together. For reference, the beginning of each section is noted with a superscript number corresponding to the section number above.
1Another manufacturer in your industry increased revenues by 26% and reduced operating costs by 31% in just 4 months using our proven system. How would you like to achieve these or even greater results?
Hi [Prospect Name],
2During the past 12 years, we have worked with 16 of the top manufacturing companies in your industry. Are any of the following achievements on your list of goals, plans, or objectives for this year? If so, the good news is that we have created a proprietary, repeatable process that we guarantee to deliver results such as:
- 3Up to 30% increase in sales volumes and faster product shipments by as much as 65 days.
- Lowering inventory and improving product availability by detecting supply descriptions early and responding with cost-effectiveness in mind.
- Increase shareholder value and protect company’s existing market share.
4We can discuss the details of course, but first I wanted to make sure that results like these would be something that interests you. If so, would it be okay if I followed up with a few more specific ideas about how we could help you achieve these and possibly even greater results?
Notice at the end of the message all the prospect has to do is respond and say “yes” in order to agree for you to follow up with specific ideas about how you can help? Once the prospect says “yes,” you can put together a proposal for new business with them, and then either send it to them or schedule a meeting to present it to them. Either way, this script will help you get out of the endless sales cycle and get right to the proposal phase to close more new customers for your company.
This script is based partially on material from Anthony Parinello’s book Selling to VITO: The Very Important Top Officer. What book do you think has the most effective marketing or sales templates?
Over half of all businesses engaging in content marketing, small and large, say producing enough content is a challenge. It takes a lot of time and effort to create even one piece of great content, where smaller pieces like blog posts and checklists can take a few hours. Unfortunately after all that time and effort, most companies only wind up with one piece of content to show for it. However there’s no rule stating you can only create one piece of content per idea. If you plan strategically, you can repurpose your ideas so that one marketing message can be presented and distributed across many pieces of content. This allows you to be more efficient so you can stop feeling stressed about publishing enough material for your company. Here are five creative ways to get more mileage out of your message by planning ahead and repackaging it into new content to share in new places:
1. Turn Several Blog Posts into a White Paper or eBook
If you’ve been blogging for a while, then it’s likely that you have many posts dedicated to one topic. For example, if you’re a law firm, then you may have several posts regarding tax law, or estate planning, or traffic law. Since the content is already created, all you would have to do to create a white paper on estate planning is organize all those posts into a logical order and think of a good title for the white paper or eBook. You may also have to add things like a new introduction, a table of contents, a conclusion, a cover page, a list of references, or redo the layout and the formatting, but the majority of the content will already be there. After taking the time to edit and to clean up the presentation, you will have a brand new piece of content that you can promote and use to convert web visitors.
This repurposing method can also go the other way around. You can take an eBook and turn each chapter into a blog post or guest post to gain exposure. Better yet, with each chapter/article, you can include a call to action at the end of the blog post leading visitors to download the complete eBook, capturing their email address in the process for lead generation. If you want to use this strategy for the approach from the last paragraph, where you combine multiple blogs into an eBook, just go back and add a call to action to download the eBook on the blog posts you used as the source material.
2. Combining Several Pieces of Long-Form Content into a Resource Kit
A resource kit is a set of materials that are bundled together to share an idea with your audience that is too advanced or detailed to be fully explained in a single piece of content. This is one of the easiest ways to repurpose content because you don’t necessarily have to redo or reformat anything to put it together. Creating a resource kit is a matter of putting different materials into an all-in-one package that makes it easy and convenient for your audience to find and act on your advice. The demand generation success kit is a good example of a resource kit, comprising of webinars, blog posts, a podcast, and a few worksheets outlining best practices. You can have one piece of content discussing demand generation, but to successfully explain a concept as advanced as this it’s more effective to create a resource kit.
With a resource kit, it’s often a good idea for you to use a variety of content types, since this allows you to present each concept using the medium that most clearly communicates the idea, keeps things engaging for users, and also accommodates the different ways people learn. However, you should balance the number of unique pieces inside your resource kit based on the complexity of the message, realizing that too little information will leave users feeling like your offering was inadequate and too much information will cause them to become overwhelmed and never even start.
A good rule of thumb is the more things you include in your resource kit, the more important creating some sort of order or sequence becomes. This way, even when there is a lot of material, users know exactly where to begin and can proceed in order. This makes the amount of material a lot less daunting.
3. Posting Your Webinar Slides on Slideshare
Webinars take a long time to put together, so why do all of that hard work just to present the information once and then forget about it? Slideshare is an often-under-used content sharing platform, but with over 60 million views monthly, if you have slides from a presentation just sitting around you’re missing out on a lot of potential exposure by not posting them. In order to maximize the value of your exposure, make sure that your presentation has an appropriate call to action at the end, so that you can carry the attention from the slideshow to your website, increasing visitors and leads. First, you may need to update the call-to-action that you used for the end of the webinar because it’s not the best choice to use on Slideshare, where a visitor is unable to listen to the presentation that’s supposed to accompany the slideshow and is not participating in real time. Second, you may have different objectives for people attending a live webinar, who are more engaged, compared to people browsing slides on Slideshare who are more passive.
Another great thing about posting to Slideshare is you can embed Slideshare presentations into your blog posts. Consider this a bonus way to repurpose your content or to further engage your reader once they’re at the end of a post!
4. Turn Your Webinar into Blog Posts
While creating a blog post summarizing your webinar and including the SlideShare presentation at the end, like the last section suggested, is not a bad start, because of the high level of effort for hosting a webinar there is much more you can do with that content. Your webinar probably had an agenda, which most likely was divided into sections or subtopics. You can turn each of those sections into its own blog post, or combine two or three if they can’t stand on their own, and illustrate each one with the graphics and/or quotes from your slides. The Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association does a good job of turning its webinars into blog posts, and posts like this one often generate a lot of traffic because it contains information their audience finds valuable.
A way to make your webinars more helpful and accessible is to hire someone to transcribe the webinar so that you have a transcript to accompany the audio and/or the video of your webinar. Doing this not only allows people to read along with the recorded webinar, but by adding a click to tweet option next to quotes and statistics, the material is much more engaging and is further divided into shareable bits. The transcript, if placed underneath the video on YouTube, Slideshare, or on a web page, also provides SEO benefits. If keywords are mentioned throughout the video, then the page can now rank for those keywords. Search engines have a hard time “seeing” that a video or slideshow is on the page.
One final benefit is that some people just prefer to read an article than listen to a webinar, and having the transcript makes your webinar accessible to that group.
5. Create an Infographic from a Tip Sheet, Checklist, or How-To Article
Variety is another common content marketing challenge, and visual content is one area where many businesses struggle. Granted, it takes more time and effort to create a video or a series of charts versus an eBook a series of newsletters. But if your business wants to offer more variety in its content marketing, then consider adding an infographic to the mix. Infographics are attractive, compelling, and easy for the reader to scan for the most important insights. They’re also an outstanding way to get more mileage out of your smaller pieces of content, or out of certain types of content that can be harder to repurpose. It’s difficult to turn a checklist into an engaging webinar, or to stretch that information out into a sizable white paper, but creating a decision flowchart out of it is a fun, visual way to reuse that material.
If creating visual content still seems like a lot, then use these infographic templates to get you started. Color schemes and icons aren’t for everyone, and every business doesn’t have a graphic designer in the building to do an infographic for them, but there are free resources out there that will allow you to test the waters to see if the ROI is worth investing in paying someone to help you in the future.
By repurposing one piece of content into many different forms, you don’t have to start from scratch every time you need to create marketing material for your campaigns. Instead of constantly stressing about what materials to create for your brand, reuse the content archive you already have and repurpose it for a different audience as a new content type in order to turn new people on to your company’s message!
Does your business effectively repurpose its content? Tell us how you do it in the comments!
Twitter made headlines in recent months after announcing that it’s going to support retargeting ads. Following Facebook’s lead, Twitter will experiment with using people’s behavior to tailor ads on their network. If the two biggest social networks are doing it, then retargeting ads must be the future of online advertising, right? They have been embraced by the marketing industry and many e-commerce websites, so retargeting ads seem to have a place in the future of online advertising. Here’s what you need to know about retargeting ads, and why you should consider them for your next campaign:
What are Retargeting Ads
Retargeting ads are banner ads on other sites, specifically shown to people who visited your site previously but didn’t buy. Only 2% of web visitors are ready to buy when they visit your site, so the idea is to remain fresh with the other 98% by tracking their behavior and presenting ads when they surf other websites so they’ll come back to your site when they are ready to make a purchase. Some companies have had great success with this strategy. Consumer-package goods company Kimberly-Clark reports that its retargeting ads have a conversion rate between 50-60 percent.
Unlike regular banner ads, retargeting ads are measured in two ways: click-through conversions and view-through conversions. Below are the definitions of both measurements, according to Moz.
- Click-through conversions are any conversions that happen as a direct result of someone clicking a retargeting ad they were served.
- View-through conversions are like assists. They are conversions that are attributed to another channel, like Google AdWords, but these people were at one point served a retargeting ad before that. Another example of this would be someone who saw the retargeting ad, but went back to the website on their own and made a purchase.
How Retargeting Ads Can Help Your Business
Retargeting ads are different from banner ads, and can be helpful to your business because of the better conversion rates. Although Kimberly-Clark is seeing 50-60 percent conversion rates on its retargeting ads, the average for them is .7%. It doesn’t seem like much, but the average conversion rate for a normal banner ad is just .07%, so retargeting ads have 10 times the conversion rate of a normal banner ad!
One reason why retargeting ads have a better conversion rate is because they can be tailored to the visitor, and even more specifically than just showing ads to people who have been on your site before.. For example, visitors can be segmented by what they were browsing. If you ran an online clothing store, people who looked at shirts could be shown different ads from those that looked at pants, so that the retargeting ads are much more relevant to the individual. This segmentation can also include a time factor, where someone searching for travel or concert tickets needs to be retargeted immediately, while someone looking for a new suit can be retargeted later.
Another reason why retargeting ads work better than display ads is because they are reaching people who have already had an experience with your brand, whether that experience is passive interest in your product, a strong intention to purchase a product in your category, or somewhere in between. In this case, retargeting ads can be used to move your visitors through the buying process and to get them closer to making the purchasing decision. Each stage would use a different message or piece of content in the retargeting ad. The person with a passive interest doesn’t want a coupon or a demo, while the person that already knows about your company and is strongly considering hiring you as a provider doesn’t need an ad explaining who you are and what you offer.
Don’t Rely on Retargeting Ads, However
The numbers show that retargeting ads work well for businesses, but they also shows that the idea of retargeting ads doesn’t sit well with consumers. Unless the consumer understands the marketing aspect of it, the process feels invasive as a brand suddenly follows them all over the Internet, showing them ads for the exact same items they browsed through on the company’s website. And it’s the brand that will pay the price for being persistent and pesky, not the third-party ad companies who serve the ads in the first place. The ads can be even more bothersome if the consumer didn’t even put anything in a shopping cart and just was window-shopping online. “Ad fatigue,” as this phenomenon is called, can sometimes be solved by limiting the number of ad impressions a visitor sees per day, but simply reducing their exposure might not be enough for some of the most sensitive consumers.
Overall, retargeting ads are a way to take your banner advertising to the next level of segmentation and specificity. They can reach people in a way that regular banner advertising can’t. When used appropriately, they can lead to a substantial increase in sales. They aren’t necessarily the future of online marketing for everyone, but for the right companies they could be an effective new addition to your marketing strategy.
Have you used retargeting ads for your business? Let us know about your experience in the comments!