Friday, 13 May 2016

Are You a Content Rocker or a Content Blocker?

As I tour the country (and further afield) with my Content Marketing Boot Camp, I meet a lot of highly frustrated marketers. They are generally an unhappy lot because YOU don’t trust them and as a result they are failing in their role.
I struggle to comprehend why any organization would invest in a talented, creative and hungry marketing team and then block their every move by insisting a senior member of the team (outside of marketing) approves and even edits any content before it leaves the confines of the office.
Why You Shouldn’t Get In The Way of Your Marketing Team
  • Managing Director/CEO – Have you got the time to think about every single blog post, email marketing campaign or social media comment? No I didn’t think so. If you insist on signing off every single piece of content before it is released, or worse still – insist on making changes to the copy because it doesn’t sound like something YOU would say, then YOU are the reason why your campaigns are being delayed and ultimately failing.
  • Sales Directors/Managers – Great salespeople generally do not make great marketers. Whenever I see a lengthy, intrusive form on a website (asking for everything from company size and turnover to whether or not the person completing the form out is going to make a buying decision in the next 30 days), I know that a salesperson is behind it. Make no mistake – these long forms will prevent just as many hot prospects from completing them correctly as tire kickers. Marketing is not just about creating quick wins for a hungry sales department focused on closing deals before the quarter is out. It’s about positioning, brand, reputation and building long term relationships with prospects and influencers. Yes – marketing needs to feed sales but it is not the be-all and end-all.
  • IT/MIS Directors/Managers – Although a large percentage of marketing now takes place online, this does not mean that IT/MIS should have any influence over the output of the marketing department other than providing them with the tools to do their job. I recently met a marketer who told me that she was unable to use Twitter (perhaps one of the most powerful tools available to marketers) because the IT Director had blocked it from the company network and had advised the wider Senior Leadership Team that he perceived it as a risk.
  • The Weekly Marketing Meeting – Nothing useful has ever been designed by a committee. When marketers are forced to share their entire strategies and accept input from non-marketers their campaigns become compromised. Great marketers are already good listeners – trust them to seek out the best solutions and don’t throw them to the lions to have their best ideas torn to shreds.
I understand that many business owners want to protect their businesses. But just as a parent wants to protect their offspring, they must learn to trust others if they want their offspring grow up to be healthy and happy. It’s time to give your marketers the freedom to succeed or fail. You hired them because you believe them to be smart, creative individuals. Let them prove this assumption to be true.
I once worked for an individual who claimed he gave his staff enough rope to hand themselves but in reality kept his marketers gagged and bound. If you have given them enough rope to hang themselves, you might be pleasantly surprised that they actually use it to rope in some new customers.
The next Content Marketing Boot Camp will be held in Nicosia, Cyprus on June 9, 2016.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Getting Your Email Marketing Subscribers to Act on Impulse

Because email is consumed by busy people, who are very often on the move, your campaigns need to pack a punch and make your subscribers act on impulse. If you cannot get a reaction to your campaigns within a couple of seconds, they will ultimately fail.

Following the three golden rules of email marketing (for which I make no apology for constantly repeating) – your campaigns must be relevant, timely and engaging – is a must for any marketer hoping to find success.

But if you truly want your subscribers to act on impulse and engage with your campaigns, perhaps you need to factor in a fourth golden rule: agility. In short, you need to occasionally supplement your planned and strategic campaigns with the occasional burst of impulse yourself.

This means mixing things up a bit. If an idea feels good, do it. If you think it’s too risky, test it first and then do it (testing is definitely something you should be doing). Email is not something that should always be run to a tightly managed schedule. It’s not limited by deadlines; it’s only limited by ideas.

When was the last time you did something on impulse? Share your comments below:

Photo: Jen Knoedl



Thursday, 5 May 2016

Six Things Small Business Marketers Should Be Doing on Twitter

Twitter, now in its tenth year, might be one of the more mature social networks out there, but that doesn’t mean small business marketers really get it. The fact is, Twitter is ripe with prime business opportunities, if you just know where to look. Following are six things marketers should do on Twitter every day to engage clients and prospects and win new business:


  1. Listen: Listening is a vital component of any conversation, and this is as true in the social-media environment as it is in the real world. Listening via the social Web can be as easy as entering a few choice keywords (e.g., your brand, your competitor’s brand, industry-specific phrases, geographic locations, etc.) into the search facility on Twitter. You might be surprised to discover how many people are actively asking questions about your line of business. Actively listen for these conversations, and you could soon be speaking to potential clients.
  2. Engage: Twitter isn’t a one-way broadcast channel. It’s called “social media” for a reason — so get social, and enjoy the conversation! Be prepared to get to know your prospects before going in for the hard sell. The online social environment (like any other real-world social environment) does not provide a quick and easy route to sales success. Online, just as off, people buy from people they like and trust — so take the time to build relationships before going for the kill.
  3. Follow: Take the time to follow Twitter accounts relevant to your business. These could be potential clients or high-profile industry influencers (e.g., journalists, bloggers, consultants, etc.). A few minutes a day spent following the right people will help you steadily build your following. Your competitors’ Twitter accounts are a good place to start mining for new connections.
  4. Share: Invest in great blog content, and share it widely. Remember: The average lifespan of a tweet is only 18 minutes, so be sure to share often to maximize your blog traffic. Twitter has the potential to drive significant, targeted traffic back to your website. Think of it as a vital component of a wider SEO strategy (without the weird science).
  5. Endorse: Your opinion isn’t the only valid message on social media. Connect with industry influencers and potential clients by endorsing their opinions with the occasional “like” and re-tweet.
  6. Cross-Pollinate: Socialize everything you do to promote your business and send campaigns viral. You can add Twitter “share” buttons to virtually everything you do online to promote your business, including blog content, email campaigns and digital downloads (such as whitepapers and ebooks). Remember, in a perfect world, you will have the same people following you on Twitter as you will have subscribed to your email marketing lists. Engage your followers with social media, and sell to them via email.

Let us know how you engage your audience via Twitter. Send us a tweet via @iContact.

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Photo: Uncalno Tekno

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Magic Marketing Button You’ve All Been Waiting For

As a marketer, how many times have you thought to yourself: “I wish there was a button I could hit that would automate my entire marketing process”? I constantly disappoint attendees at my regular email and content marketing workshops when I fail to deliver the secret location of this magic marketing button … because it just doesn’t exist. This is why we prefer to think of iContact Pro, our recently launched marketing automation platform, as a “smarter” marketing solution.

My tough-love answer to the magic marketing button is: “Marketing is difficult – get over it, and get to work. Technology will help you save time and money, and deliver more targeted results, but you need to put the work in first, so be prepared to work hard at it.”

Last week, I was delivering this cruel news to a group of small business entrepreneurs at a university in the south of England when a gentleman at the back of the room contradicted me.

He told me that there was a magic marketing button and then suggested that I had been speaking about it all morning. Everyone in the room turned to the back, fascinated by what the gentleman was going to say next. I’ve got to admit that I was equally enthralled by his suggestion.

Was this man some kind of marketing alchemist? Could he turn base metal into marketing gold?

He stood to address the room. To be honest, I dreaded what was going to come out of his mouth. These kinds of distractions can send a seminar into freefall and make it difficult to take control of the session as delegates get excited by the lunatic at the back of the room.

However, his argument was one of the smartest and most articulate I’ve come across in a long time.

Hit The Button

He said: “There is a magic marketing button, and what’s more, everyone has one. It’s at the back of your head, and it has the word ‘focus’ written on it.”

Everyone in the room, including me, instantly accepted his argument, and the topic of a magic marketing button was never mentioned again. We just needed to focus.

Learn how smarter marketers focus their marketing output with iContact Pro by starting your 30-day free trial today.

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Photo: Dennis Skley

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Content Marketing Boot Camp To Visit Cyprus

Becoming THE Expert's Content Marketing Boot Camp will be visiting Nicosia in Cyprus on June 9th, 2016.

The Content Marketing Boot Camp helps small and medium-sized business owners and marketers find their voice and position themselves as Thought Leaders within their own field of expertise.

This one-day course will explain in plain English how business owners and marketers can:

  • Find the inspiration to create and publish compelling content that potential clients and existing customers cannot ignore
  • Improve their rankings on the major search engines
  • Generate leads, maintain relationships and sell more via email
  • Win local, national and global media coverage with well-placed PR Campaigns
  • Engage their prospects with social media
  • Reduce their reliance on traditional (high cost) paid advertising techniques
  • Shorten the sales cycle and reduce the need for cold calling techniques
  • Connect all the dots to build a cohesive content marketing strategy

For more information about this very special event or to book your seat visit: https://contentmarketingcyprus.eventbrite.co.uk

Photo: Sergey Galyonkin

Saturday, 16 April 2016

No Time for Email Marketing – And Other Lame Excuses That Are Costing You Business

OK, time for another tough love lesson in marketing. You’d better sit down because you might not like what I’m about to share with you.

I meet countless marketers who tell me they would love to get more involved with email marketing but they just haven’t got the time. I ask what could be more pressing than the MOST EFFECTIVE form of marketing available to today’s marketer (on or offline).

And then the excuses come flying in:

  • My boss doesn’t like email marketing: Does he or she like money? If your boss knew that email marketing could potentially deliver $40+ (and more) for every single dollar invested in the medium, I bet he or she would love email marketing.
  • Our customers hate spam: I don’t blame them; so do we. We’re also not very keen on your rather bland monthly newsletter that is so untargeted it might as well be spam. Email marketing works so much better when you put a little more thought into your campaigns.
  • Our email lists are too small: If you have customers (or potential customers) who have taken the time and effort to share their contact information with you, why would you ignore them? Remember, the average life span of an email address is only 18 months. Sit on them for too long, and your potential will wither and die.
  • We’re focusing on social media: Social media and email are perfect bedfellows. Use social media to engage followers and email to sell to them. Remember: Engagement doesn’t pay the bills; sales do.
  • We get enough traffic via paid search: But is paid search delivering high enough margins? We like to think of email marketing as the profitable component of your paid search activity.
  • I haven’t got the time: What else are you doing? Are all of those meetings you go to really so necessary? Should marketing really be organizing the work summer party? Explain to me how staring at a spreadsheet is improving your organization’s bottom line. It’s time to get tough and start saying “no” to some requests that come in from other departments.
  • I REALLY haven’t got the time: OK, we get it. Time is a big problem for many small businesses, especially when owner operators wear many hats. Why not speak to us about taking some of the burden off your shoulders with a managed service?
  • I wouldn’t know where to start: That’s easy. iContact offers a free 30-day trail of its award-winning email marketing and marketing automation services. We also provide free support and advice and can help even the most technophobic marketers come to grips with email.


Why are you still ignoring email marketing? Take your first step to a more profitable life here: www.icontact.com.

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Photo: Rachel

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Remarketing Never Worked For Small Business Marketers – Until Now

Remarketing is a fantastic way for online marketers to keep their potential customers engaged with their brand after they have left their website. 

The principal of remarketing is simple - a potential customer visits your website but leaves without making a purchase, your advertising then follows your visitor around the web (appearing on a wide range of highly visible sites), encouraging repeat visits and potential purchases.

Remarketing works incredibly well for websites that already command high volumes of visitors but for smaller businesses with less traffic, it’s not really viable. 

It’s a simple equation really: Limited traffic = limited remarketing opportunities

This is all about to change thanks to a new service from BoostSuite.


BoostSuite

BoostSuite enables marketers to partner with like-minded organizations and build a shared pool of traffic which can be used to power incredibly targeted remarketing campaigns.

For example, a wedding dress boutique might partner with a jewellery store, a photographer, a wedding venue, a travel agent and caterers to build a highly focused but non-competitive network. Subsequent visits to any of the partner websites would then generate remarketing opportunities across a wide range of sites (including major news networks like CNN) for all members of the group. This essentially creates remarketing opportunities to attract visitors who may never have previously heard of your organization.

Try BoostSuite for Free

BoostSuite is offering marketers the opportunity to try their new remarketing service for free. The free service enables marketers to show their ads to up to 500 people per month. Registration is simple and no credit card is required.

The free service also enables users to share their blog content with like-minded sites, helping to drive organic reach and win new customers.

For more information visit: www.boostsuite.com

Photo: Paval Hadzinski
 

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