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Four Ways to Survive the Death of the Marketing Middle Class

Four Ways to Survive the Death of the Digital Marketing Middle Class

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Although you might not be aware of it, your business is locked in a digital marketing arms race. And there are increasing signs that the ultimate victors will be those companies that can afford ever-increasing marketing investments.

A few examples:

Facebook Organic Reach Decline

 

Marketing is Getting More Expensive

In the past, it might have been good enough to have a smart digital marketer in your department who could keep you afloat with efforts to drive organic traffic. But with digital marketing real estate becoming more expensive by the hour, the lion’s share of web traffic will go to those who can afford to invest the most in paid awareness, which will favor larger organizations.

So where does that leave those of us with limited marketing budgets, marketing’s “middle class”? We may indeed be facing the death of the digital marketing middle class, but don’t worry, we’ve got three ways to survive and grow your marketing presence online.

How to Best Invest Limited Marketing Budgets

1. Hyper-Target Your Content Marketing and Social Media Strategy

One of the biggest mistakes we see smaller marketers trying to make is stretching their efforts too thinly. If you have limited resources, it’s simply not possible to be present everywhere you might find a customer. And this is important to recognize, because successful marketing requires a certain level of impression volume to be effective.

A good rule of thumb: you need to get your message in front of someone 7 times before it will register with them.

It’s much better to execute a smaller-scale campaign very well and be very responsive to that particular audience than to try and boil the ocean. What does that mean in practicality?

  • Scale back your social ambitions: You don’t need to be present on every channel (although you should reserve your account names just in case). Instead, focus on building a community and driving engagement on the one or two channels where your efforts can have the biggest impact. Be relentless about participating in discussions and responding to customers. This engagement will be key to building your audience.
  • Tighten your geographic or market focus: Everyone wants an international business, but budget often gets in the way. If you can’t afford to reach everyone you’d like, focus on the areas where you’re getting the most return. That might be a few cities, or a particular industry within a larger market. Look for patterns, and double-down where you see results.
  • Choose a keyword niche to dominate: Keyword targeting is the core of any good SEO strategy. But when you’re competing with companies that have an army of paid content writers on staff, the best way to drive organic traffic is to focus on a smaller keyword or search phrase niche and become the most visible resource in that particular space.

2. Maintain at Least a Small Paid Ad Presence

As shown below, the top spot on Google captures approximately 30% of search traffic, with the top 5 results driving ~80% of traffic. As we saw above, with Google Ads now comprising 40-50% of the listings on the first search engine results page (SERP), this means that, like it or not, you’ll need a paid ad presence on Google to keep your share of search constant.

4 Ways to Survive the Death of Marketing's Middle Class - Chitika's Research on Share of Impressions by Page Position

To do so cost effectively, be ruthlessly targeted with your ad keywords.  Focus only on those that are the most relevant to your business and drive lead conversion cost effectively. Review your data weekly until you’ve settled your keyword list, and then focus on optimizing your spend appropriately to maintain position.

3. Mine Those Who Already Know You

Acquiring a new customer costs five times more than growing revenue from an existing customer

One of the most overlooked resources in any business is its existing list of leads and customers. According to Forrester Research, growing business from your existing database is five times more cost effective than finding new customers. However old they are, these contacts are already favorably disposed to your business, and may just need to have an offer in front of them at the right time to convert. The trick to doing so is staying disciplined using the process below.

  • Set up a regular communications schedule to everyone on your list
  • Plan out an offer series mixed with informational content to keep each message fresh
  • Test all aspects of your campaigns to identify which elements (email send times, subject lines, etc.) drive the biggest response
  • Drill down on your non-responsive contacts – for those individuals who never open an email, does a phone call re-activate them, or have they left their company?
  • Use periodic surveys with incentives as a way to understand what will drive contacts to future purchases

A last note here – don’t worry about unsubscribes (unless they come in droves). Any lead who removes themselves from your mailing list is not someone who will purchase from you, and it lets you focus your attention on those who will.

4. Prioritize Your Marketing Software Investment

Roughly 6,829 marketing software tools exist as of this writing, and that number is surely growing by the minute.

ChiefMarTech.com's Marketing Technology Lanscape in 2018

ChiefMarTech.com’s Marketing Technology Landscape in 2018 – that’s a lot of software!

Such a high volume of tools can make it difficult to allocate your software budget. Worse, you might feel that you have to purchase a certain tool in order to drive results. With that in mind, here are the ways in which we recommend prioritizing your marketing software spend (and what we recommend getting for free).

Prioritized List of Essential Marketing Software

  1. Website CMS/Lead Capture: Your marketing won’t be effective if it’s not bringing people in the door, and for most of us, this means our web presence is critical. While any software that will help you capture leads (landing page/form software, chatbots, etc.) can certainly help, there are a number of free CMS tools like WordPress available that will get you started.
  2. Email Marketing and Automation: Once you’ve captured a lead, it’s time to drive that lead to conversion. And to do that, you’ll need email to stay in front of them. The best email marketing tools include marketing automation that can execute campaigns based on a lead’s behavior.
  3. Web/Campaign Tracking and Analytics: Google’s Marketing Platform is the most effective platform for tracking campaign performance and web traffic, and it offers a robust suite of free tools. Combined with Google Search Console and Google My Business, you won’t find a better combination.
  4. Search/Social Media Marketing: it’s not always ideal to manage campaigns across multiple platforms, but the free built-in tools for most of the major networks (Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) are more than robust enough for daily use.
  5. CRM: Leads and contacts are the lifeblood of your business, and a system to organize them is essential. A well-configured CRM system will also support your sales and marketing activities operations through list management, lead tracking/scoring, automated processes/reminders, and more. Many CRMs provide some level of email marketing capability as well.

From this point forward, your choice of software will depend on your budget, your operational requirements, and where you can drive the biggest return by becoming more sophisticated. But if you start with the five essential marketing software tools above you’ll be building a solid foundation.

 

Conclusion – a Healthy, Cost Effective Marketing Strategy

We hope that you’ve found the above helpful in prioritizing your marketing investments. Good luck, and if you’d like to discuss how this approach might work in your business, please contact Young Marketing Consulting today.

 

 

 

 

Content Marketing: Developing a Strategy That Sticks

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Content is king, engagement is queen.

How do you get your business found online? The answer is content marketing. But before we jump into how to develop your content marketing strategy, let’s talk about what content marketing actually is. Because you’ve got less time than the attention span of a goldfish to capture your target audience’s attention, and if you don’t someone else will.

Defining Content Marketing

More than 3 billion people use the internet every day to find answers to questions, keep in touch with friends, play games, and more. And your goal is to capture a tiny percentage of that traffic and redirect it to your call-to-action. Content marketing is the practice of establishing yourself as a go-to resource for the types of content that will catch your target audience’s attention. Various content marketing tactics could include:

  • Positioning yourself as an online thought leader and expert by answering user questions in forums and discussion groups (for example, on Quora, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc.)
  • Providing fun, shareable entertainment content such as games, memes, or videos (you may want to check out our Six Video Marketing Best Practices)
  • Posting aspirational lifestyle images (of food, decor, etc.), along with how-to tips (we’ll call this the Pinterest/Instagram approach)

But whichever channel you choose, remember that the goal of content marketing is to encourage your audience to take action and join a conversation with you – this could range from signing up for a newsletter, liking a status, or sharing a blog. And that means that you need to give your audience what they want, not what you think they want.

Content marketing is the billboard of the internet, there to catch people’s attention as they whiz by

In a competitive web environment, developing a content marketing strategy requires careful planning and proper execution. The following five content marketing tips will guide your content marketing strategy so you can outwit the competition.

1. Focus Your Content Marketing on the Right Keywords

Many marketers make the mistake of using content keywords that don’t reflect the words their target audience actually uses to describe the product or service they’re looking for (and thus the terms they use to search for it). These keywords could be irrelevant to their products or services, too broad, or too specific. To address this issue, you can research what keywords are popular among your target audience by using a secret weapon: Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner tool. Typing your content topic or target URL into the Keyword Planner will bring up monthly search volume forecasts, which serve as a proxy for the popularity of the terms you’re using.

The example below shows that, if we’re targeting our content toward, well, content marketing, we need to word it properly because much smaller numbers of people are searching for “marketing content”.

Screen shot 2016-06-20 at 11.20.37 PM.png

Google AdWord’s Keyword Planner provides you with keyword ideas for your content marketing strategy

2. Monitor Traffic Driven by Your Content Marketing Efforts in Google Analytics

Content Marketing: Developing a Strategy that Sticks

Where to find your top performing content in Google Analytics

Forecasting hypothetical search traffic volume is one thing. Monitoring how your content marketing efforts perform “in the wild” gives you actual data on what specific content your target audience is most interested in consuming from your own efforts.

To access this information, make sure to install Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools/Search Console on your site. Then, navigate down to Behavior/Site Content/All Pages. This data will show you what content is receiving the most traffic.

A bit further up in the left-hand menu, under Acquisition, you’ll also see a tab titled “Search Console”. If you’ve set up your Google Search Console, this tab will show you how well you’re performing against your specific target keywords.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the features that Google Analytics has to offer, but if you’re focused on content marketing these reports are ones that you don’t want to overlook.

 

 

3. Plan Ahead by Setting up Your Content Marketing Calendar

Screen shot 2016-06-21 at 12.05.58 AM.png

Use Facebook’s post scheduling tool to schedule content before your vacation

Creating a content calendar is an excellent but often-overlooked organizational tool to ensure you never miss a posting. Planning ahead is also essential during the summertime. If you know you’ll be on vacation, create content in advance and schedule appropriate times and dates for your posts. You can schedule posts within WordPress and Facebook, but you may want to use a management app such as Postfity if you have multiple platforms for your content.

You also want to be thinking about important dates for your target audience. Think about dates such as when their fiscal year ends and when holidays are. For example, you may want to get your content out in front of July 4th so you can capture the most search traffic. As we’ve previously discussed, you can also use Google Trends to identify when your target keywords are in heaviest demand.

 

Screen shot 2016-06-21 at 12.02.50 AM.png

An example of a content calendar

 

4. Keep Your Content Marketing Theme Consistent Over Time

Content Marketing: Developing a Strategy that Sticks Snowball

Content marketing. It’s kind of like a snowball rolling down a mountain.

When you’re planning your content strategy, keep in mind that repetition and consistency will carry the day. Your theme and viewpoint should remain the same over time, which will allow you to generate enough impressions on your content to capture meaningful traffic. That means that your themes need to stay consistent across social media channels.

It can be very easy to get distracted by posting interesting pictures on Instagram that don’t support your brand’s message, but your topics and themes should address the same topics for your target audience, even if your video and blog executions are completely different. Inconsistent themes confuse your audience about what your company does and how they can help them, which is the last thing you want.

5. Make the Most of Your Content: Leverage by Leveraging it Multiple Times

Content on the internet is a living thing. Data will change, perspectives will change, and once you’ve written something it doesn’t need to stay static. So, make the most of your content by posting it across numerous channels while consistently measuring performance. Make tweaks and changes to your blogs and share them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other channel in order to reach as much of your audience as possible. Break down different elements and share them across channels, while keeping a close eye on metrics such as what content got you the most clicks, how particular traffic behaved on your site, and how your audience interacted on each channel to refine your posts. Social media analytics tools such as Klout will assess your performance across channels, but we’ll talk about that more next week.

We hope these tips gave you a basis for developing a content marketing strategy that sticks. Look out for next week’s blog post on tracking social media marketing metrics.

6 Video Marketing Tips: The Future is…Yesterday?

From Periscope to Facebook Live to Youtube, video marketing has taken the digital marketing world by storm. By 2019, Cisco predicts that 80% of all consumer internet traffic will be video, and US adults already spend 5.5 hours with online video content every day.

Live Video Marketing US Adult Online Video Consumption

With traditional television viewing in steep decline among most demographics, many marketers are tempted to say that we’ve entered completely uncharted media consumption waters. But when it comes to video marketing, I’d argue that we’re watching a rerun.

[bctt tweet=”Good video #marketing puts the right message in front of the right audience.” username=”YoungMktg”]

Live Video Marketing Bob Hope Timex

Timex was one of The Bob Hope Show’s sponsors

In the 1930s and 40s, television was just beginning to supplant radio as the media of choice, and many radio companies were the first to broadcast television signals in their local markets. By the 1950s as more Americans purchased television sets, advertisers had fled radio for television and the “commercial” was born.

I was speaking with a friend in the broadcast TV advertising business last week, and was struck by how Periscope and Facebook Live are just the latest in a long line of content that marketers can use to promote their brands. These platforms are the modern version of a television, but they offer the savvy video marketer a way to find a much more targeted audience than any 1950s commercial ever could.

Without further ado, let’s look at six tips for video marketing:

Six Tips for Video Marketing

1. Start Small: If you’re creating your own video channel from scratch, understand that it’s a big content world out there. Your first video won’t be a viral smash, so plan something that’s simple and achievable for you. The point is to get started, not become the next Spielberg. And just putting out video is a big start.

2. Invest the Time to Grow Your Audience: One of video marketing’s great benefits for marketers is the opportunity to have a continual discussion with your audience. From reaction videos to responding to comments, there are a number of ways to maintain rich interactions with your customers. But unless you take the time to foster that conversation, no one will be listening. When you start, you’ll need to do a lot of the initial outreach by commenting on other users’ videos and linking to them. You’ll also need to make sure that your video keywords and descriptions are drawing search traffic. And as your build your audience, you’ll need to respond to them just as you would in any conversation.

3. Become Hyper Targeted: From Will it Blend to white noise, there are millions of video channels and producers on the internet. The best approach to video marketing is to find your niche and target content to that audience. Doing so will help you build a following and keep your content calendar focused.

4. Understand What “Live” Viewers Want, and When They Want It: As much as video marketers would like to believe that our content is 100% fascinating at all times, it’s sadly not the case. If you’re going to go live with a tool like Periscope or Facebook Live, think through the type of content that will perform best in this fashion. Discussions with famous personalities, events, or product reveals are all good categories that may draw a live audience; in this way, live streaming video is very much the same as broadcast television.

You should spend some time thinking about when to do your live video marketing as well. Remember that your audience will have a life outside your content, so you’ll need to spend time promoting your broadcast and schedule it for a time when you’re most likely to draw viewers. Consider using a tool like Buffer to identify the optimal times during which you’ll be most likely to drive video marketing engagement.

 

Video Marketing: Most Commonly Uploaded Video Subjects

Source: The Pew Research Center

5. Have Fun and Be Spontaneous: As the data below show, people most commonly upload real-life situations that have some fun or humor to them. Staged or scripted videos are the last often uploaded, and while this is most likely due to the production time and cost, it’s ok if your videos are rough around the edges. Some of the best video marketing is human and approachable. The days of the slick TV commercial may be numbered.

 

6. Want a Shortcut? Advertise with More Popular Channels/Content Producers: And finally, a good video marketing strategy may not involve producing any videos at all! If you can find channels or content producers who already have high awareness among your target audience, your best approach may be to sponsor them or advertise on their channel. This will keep your production costs low and provide you with a very measurable ROI to see if your video marketing spend is bringing a return.

How to Use LinkedIn in Your Content Marketing Strategy

3 Ways to Incorporate LinkedIn into Your Content Marketing Strategy

B2B marketing strategies can no longer afford to leave out LinkedIn. In 2015, LinkedIn reported that 13% of their users did not have a Facebook account and 59% of their users were not active on Twitter, making LinkedIn an oft-overlooked opportunity for marketers to reach audiences they may be missing on other platforms. Additionally, 50% percent of LinkedIn users spent more than two hours a week on the site. If you already have a B2B-focused content marketing strategy created for 2016, consider adding LinkedIn to the mix with the following tactics.

Revamp Your Company Page

Brush off the dust and look at your company page with a new set of eyes. In addition to posting company news, determine what types of content would be relevant to your users and add that content to the mix. Initially, it may be a bit hard to gauge which content will be of the greatest interest to your audience, but a little informal competitive analysis can solve this problem. Take a look at a competitor who is getting good engagement on their page and ask the following questions:

  • What are they posting? How much engagement do they get on each post?
  • What ratio of content are they using (i.e. 50% blog posts from their website, 30% company news, 20% links from reputable industry sources?)
  • How often are they posting?

After analyzing one or two competitors, figure out what mix of content works best for you. Most importantly, make sure you have a strategy before diving in to any content creation. As with any marketing activity, progress can only be measured after consistently efforts have been made. So, make sure to get your team on a regular posting schedule and keep the cobwebs off that page!

Repurpose Content

LinkedIn content doesn’t need to be boring. Instead of just linking to the latest company whitepaper, shake things up a bit by including an infographic. Visual components should not be underrated when using LinkedIn. In fact, image posts result in a 98% higher comment rate than posts that do not contain an image. Additionally, SlideShare posts have become an increasingly popular and engaging way to disseminating otherwise mundane information.  And the data explains way: people are five times more likely to engage with these posts than traditional presentations and documents.

When in Doubt, Measure

If you’re looking to benchmark you efforts, conduct monthly audits. Start by taking a look at the following metrics:

  • Engagement rate: An engagement rate is simply the collective number of likes, comments and shares on your posts divided by the number of followers you have. According to Forrester’s study of the top 50 global brands, this number will be .05% on average.
  • Most Engaged Posts: For this, we typically like to look at the posts that had the highest engagement and drove the most traffic to the website. Once you figure out which post this was, determine why those posts performed well. Was it the call-to-action? Or an different image? After forming an hypothesis, make sure to test it out and integrate it into your content for the next month.

We hope these tips are helpful. In our next blog post, we’ll discuss how to use LinkedIn to generate leads for your B2B company.

Featured in Forbes – How Content Marketing Worked for Wanted Analytics

One of the keys to modern digital marketing is establishing yourself as a thought leader. Your organization undoubtedly has something unique and special to say in the marketplace; creating and marketing content that conveys that viewpoint is one of the best ways you can promote your business in today’s search engine-driven world. Done properly, content marketing promotes your brand over and over again over a long period of time by enabling others to find and share the compelling stories that you tell. As the number of people linking to and sharing your content rises, your website’s search engine ranking will increase as well. Today, I wanted to share a content marketing case study from Young Marketing Consulting client Wanted Analytics.

Wanted Analytics provides human resources departments with talent marketplace data – what companies are hiring for what positions, how much they’re paying, how hard certain skills are to find, etc. One thing we’ve learned over the years is that nothing catches a visitor’s eye more than data that helps them make decisions or provides an interesting insight. And as you can imagine, Wanted’s data set is a content marketing goldmine. So, we worked with them to build a blog-centered digital marketing and lead generation strategy that provides excerpts from Wanted’s data in areas such as bilingual staffing, in-demand IT skills, and more. So far, the results have been generating leads and driving site traffic, and the momentum keeps building.

Our biggest content marketing success so far came when Wanted ran a blog post on the recent meteoric rise in hiring for the “Internet of Things”. A reporter from Forbes came across the post and ran a story on where to find a job doing Internet-of-Things work based on our content. That’s fantastic exposure without paying for a public relations firm, and it’s all thanks to content marketing.

 

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