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How to Use LinkedIn for Content Marketing Success

LinkedIn represents massive opportunity for businesses today. Just consider that LinkedIn is the most used social platform by B2B companies (used by 94 percent) and over two-thirds of those companies see quantifiable results from their LinkedIn strategy.

When it comes to your content marketing strategy, you can post your content three different ways using LinkedIn:

  1. Sharing an update
  2. Uploading a photo
  3. Publishing a post
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15 Social Media Statistics Every Company Needs to Know

I’ve been doing a lot of social media work lately—from cleaning up my clients’ social profiles to creating social copy to collaborating on long-term social strategies. Next week, I have a lunch set up with a prospective client to discuss social objectives and game plans.

I absolutely love working on social media projects, and I love to see the progress my clients are making on the social front. But for every company that’s getting social media right, I can’t help but wonder how many more are out there doing it wrong (or worse, doing nothing at all).

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The Easy Way to Get Started with eNewsletters

You’ve established a blogging cadence, have built consistency across your social channels, and have set up a strategy for producing premium additional content (i.e. white papers, videos, case studies) on a regular basis. You’re now ready to begin delivering an eNewsletter to your customers. Congrats! You’re already a few steps ahead of many businesses in terms of content marketing maturity and planning.

You’re on the right track in wanting to create an eNewsletter. Research from the Content Marketing Institute shows that as of this year, 81 percent of B2B marketers and 83 percent of B2C marketers use eNewsletters to achieve their various content marketing goals.

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Three Major Marketing Takeaways from CES 2016

This post originally appeared on Mintleafmedia.com

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is largely considered the be-all and end-all for technological innovation. This year’s event certainly didn’t disappoint, showcasing everything from hybrid hoverboard-robots to autopilot drones. In addition to the highly anticipated products at this year’s show—which took place in Las Vegas from January 6-9—were pieces of advice that marketers would be wise to consider as they kick off the new year.

trend

So, what were the best marketing takeaways from this year’s CES? Here’s our two cents.

1. Marketing is (and always will be) about evoking emotion: If the products unveiled at CES ‘16 suggest anything for marketers, it’s that successful marketing is about evoking emotion. For example, consider this year’s emphasis on emotive robots, which are designed to recognize, process and interpret human emotion and behavior. It’s much less likely that a product or service will lead a customer to spend money with a business. Purchasing decisions usually have much more to do with how a customer feels about a brand (i.e. its level of service, how it engages with customers). Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich put it best when saying that “We’re entering a new era in technology where consumers are choosing experience over products.” The same goes for marketing.

2. Don’t forget to tell your company’s unique story: Between the time consuming tasks of your everyday marketing strategy, it can be easy to forget the most important aspect: telling your company’s unique story. Consider the advice given at CES ’16 by Amanda Bradford, Founder and CEO of intelligent dating app The League: “Put aside the product when thinking about marketing and tell a good, interesting story.” At the end of the day, you cannot forget that you have a compelling story to tell. Ensure that every piece of content you create, every Web page you develop and every customer touchpoint is tied to your story.

3. Ignore the importance of data at your own peril: Metrics, reporting and data gathering have become nothing short of fundamental for marketing success today. At CES ’16 Artist Nick Cannon explained that, whereas people used to say content is king, “data is an even stronger king.” The bottom line is that today, you must use data and analytics to fine tune and improve your marketing strategy. This is especially true for small businesses. Consider that 73 percent of small businesses are using marketing analytics to find new customers; 65 percent for improving their customer experience; and 31 percent for developing new products, according to 2016 research from SCORE.org. Overall, the findings show that companies that use data and analytics experience an increase in both profits and marketing ROI.

Use these three CES takeaways to support your marketing strategy this year and beyond—good luck!

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Three Industries Where Content Marketing Matters Most—Part 1

Don’t be mistaken—companies across every industry need content marketing in order to bolster brand awareness, engage with customers and increase thought leadership. There are a few industries, however, that may benefit above the rest.

Business owners competing for market share within the technology, education and self-help markets should be closely evaluating their content marketing strategies and getting ready to make their next best move. Let’s kickoff this three-part series by exploring the first of these industries, an industry that I have been covering for years: technology.

typewriter

Technology

Companies in this industry may be involved in telecommunications, cable/Internet, mobility, M2M, IoT, or consumer electronics. Here’s why companies operating in the technology sector desperately need content marketing:

  • They are not well-known for stellar customer service: Chances are you have experienced a nightmarish call center experience with your cable or Internet service provider; you may have even given them a poor review online or said something negative about them on social media as a result. According to 24/7 Wall Street’s 2015 “Hall of Shame,” cable, satellite and wireless service providers made up six of the top 10 companies with the worst customer service. Custom, original content is designed to engage, inform and (if done correctly) capture the hearts and minds of customers and prospects. For an industry that is unfortunately known for unnecessarily complicated customer service that tends to leave customers frustrated, targeted, high-quality content is imperative.
  • Their content needs disentangling: Products and processes within the technology industry are vastly more complicated compared to those within health and beauty or retail, for example. Unless you’re a CIO or an IT wizard, it can be difficult to understand technological terms or how specific processes work. The task of explaining these processes in order to connect and engage with prospects and customers becomes even more difficult considering that many companies aim to speak in layman’s terms. In other words, many technology companies understand that their average consumer may not understand how everything works; therefore, most copy is produced in a way that strikes a balance between informative yet understandable.
  • They need a specific expert to effectively achieve their goals: Most CIOs or IT guys are not inherent writers, which is where specialized tech-centric content marketers come into the picture. A qualified content marketer should ideally have some experience covering a specific industry before being considered for employment; however, when it comes to technology, this is absolutely mandatory. The learning curve for the technology industry is too long and exhausting for a novice writer—even if he or she has solid marketing experience. The knowledge required to natively write (and creatively think) about the technology industry is something that not every writer touts. Similarly, this unique challenge is not faced by every industry.

Education is up next! Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, coming soon.

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Why Marketing Is Still an ‘In Person’ Game

This post originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

Don’t get me wrong; I definitely believe in the power and prominence of digital marketing. After all, digital vehicles like eNewsletters, blogs and digital magazines are ranked as top tactics being used by marketers today, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)’s “2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America” report. Furthermore, research from Gartner shows that digital marketing budgets will increase by 8 percent in 2015.

There’s no denying that digital marketing is here to stay, but, still, there is something exciting about having a face-to-face interaction.

in person

I was reminded of this when one of my favorite clients—whose company is based out of state—stopped by the office yesterday to say hello and to collaborate with some of our team members on an upcoming project. This individual bounded into our workspace with a beaming smile and shook the hand of each and every one of our editors. This week our team also had the pleasure of ghostwriting a riveting story for him, and he made a special point to thank us personally for the fine job we had done (which put a smile on all our faces!).

Today’s 21st century marketing world is filled with digital communication and outreach channels (e.g., email, social media and IM/chat), which oftentimes give marketing a “behind the scenes” feel. Since I’m used to putting my nose to the grindstone hidden from sight, I was reminded of just how refreshed, happy and invigorating it feels to sync up with clients (especially this client, who I have not seen since January) in person, even if it was for just 10 minutes. Despite the weekly calls in which this client thanks our team for our good work, hearing praise from him in person felt so much different (and, quite frankly, more fulfilling).

In this regard, CMI’s 2015 report found that, among the many B2B marketing tactics being used, “in-person events” have the greatest effectiveness rating (69 percent). This is the fifth consecutive year that “in-person events” topped the list.

By no means am I suggesting that digital marketing is not a fabulous channel for your marketing initiatives. What I am suggesting, however, is that marketers are perhaps not putting enough emphasis on that dynamic feeling that in-person meetings, meet-and-greets and visits provide in today’s fast-paced marketing world. Perhaps take a moment to think about how you can incorporate more in-person strategies into your marketing campaigns in the months to come.

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Who Needs the Powerball? How Small Businesses Can Really Win Big

This blog originally appeared on Mint Leaf Media.

Let us take a wild guess that you didn’t win the $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot last month. It’s okay, you can join the rest of us who had the nearly nonexistent chance of winning the largest prize in U.S. lottery history.

It’s always fun to take a shot in the dark in such a low risk, high reward environment; however, this try your luck strategy isn’t as effective in everyday life (maybe outside of the “I’m Feeling Lucky” search option on Google).

powerball

In reality, risky chances usually don’t end well. This is particularly true for small businesses when it comes to their marketing strategies. Just consider that 85 percent of companies say the pressure to measure and prove marketing ROI is only increasing. Now imagine this pressure for small businesses, where it’s not uncommon to see owners singlehandedly managing their own marketing initiatives—oftentimes with no way of knowing if they are yielding desired results.

For small business owners, avoiding a questionable “try your luck” strategy is critical. A sounder alternative would be to allocate hard-earned dollars towards an investment that is proven to generate marketing ROI.

Whether it’s strengthening multichannel marketing or learning the ropes of social media, small business owners shouldn’t feel as though they have a once in a lifetime shot at winning big when it comes to accomplishing their objectives. Instead, they should rest assured that there are ample resources available to help them, like a marketing agency that concentrates on relieving the pain points specific to small businesses.

This is all good and well, but in a world saturated with agencies claiming to specialize in small business, it can feel almost impossible to find the right one. So, what should you keep in mind when shopping around? Look for a partner that:

  • Specializes in consistent branding: Your partner of choice shouldn’t have a one and done mentality. It should instead be dedicated to maintaining consistent messaging across all of your marketing channels—especially digital and social—to ensure an ongoing Web presence, as well as brand uniformity.
  • Takes time to educate: Understanding the value of your time and finances, your partner should equip you with the knowledge you need to make the most informed decisions for your brand. Whether it’s a quick “how-to” or a deep dive into a project management system, your partner should leave you feeling more empowered than when you first started. In other words, your partner should help you understand core marketing processes, verses simply doing them for you.
  • Maximizes your time: Your partner should have a solid understanding of the pain points that are specific to small businesses, enabling them to create a foolproof strategy that maximizes your time. This might include, for example, prioritizing tasks based on how much time you have to offer each week so that you can gain a predictable view of when objectives will be accomplished.
  • Works with you, not for you: At the end of the day, your marketing agency should feel more like a collaborative partner than a third-party vendor. There should be flexibility, understanding and appreciation when it comes to your time, money and challenges—always.

 

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Spring is Coming Early! A Few Tips for Content Marketing Spring Cleaning

Happy Groundhog Day! Perhaps you’ve heard the news: Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring. For this summer lovin’ East coast girl, this is certainly good news. For business owners, however, an early spring should signal one thing: spring cleaning.

Business leaders should consider now a good time to conduct a thorough cleaning of their organizations. Just as one might perform such meticulous tasks as wiping walls and ceilings, vacuuming and shampooing rugs or dusting bookshelves at home, business owners should look into the cracks and crevices of their companies to see what strategies, processes, partnerships, etc. need to be polished up or trashed.

spring cleaning

Here are a few suggestions for giving your marketing strategy a good, deep cleaning:

Decide which marketing tactics need to be trashed or revisited: I certainly encourage companies to try new marketing tactics in order to revitalize their strategies. There inevitably comes a time, however, when you notice some strategies don’t work as well as others. Perhaps your eNewsletter campaign is too similar to your blog subscription. Maybe your podcast launch unexpectedly fizzled. It could be you don’t have enough time to create new videos for your YouTube account. Determine which tactics resonate most with your target audience, and consider chucking or revisiting the others.

My suggestion: Do not get rid of social accounts like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. This is the holy grail of social marketing. Make time to stay current with these.

Dust off your analytics tools: Reporting and analytics are fundamental for marketing success. If it’s been six months since you’ve refreshed your SEO keywords, for example, you may want to consider doing so in order to optimize your content as needed. You may also want to revisit those analytics tools you either don’t use anymore or have found no need for. “Analytics” is a huge marketing buzzword, and it can drive organizations to overspend on tools and technologies.

My suggestion: Don’t do anything until you read this article that lists three strategic ways to use Google Analytics to your advantage.

Get rid of all old marketing materials: Marketers are known for having way too much clutter on their computers. We’ll save important documents on our personal drive, shared folder and desktop—just to be careful. Dig deep into your folders and do a thorough cleaning; get rid of that blog you wrote back in 2012, for example, or that webinar script that never even got used. This task is time consuming, but so very worth it.

My suggestion: Take time on a weekend to get this done, verses overwhelming yourself during the work week. You’ll want to carefully go through your documents, so avoid feeling rushed.

Hopefully these cleaning tips are helpful for you, and here’s to hoping spring is here soon!