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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.

 

 

 

 

The Best Times to Post on Social Media

As noted in our previous post, “3 Ways to Effectively Advertise on Facebook Without Spending a Dime“, posting on social media at certain times can maximize visibility and extend your reach with every post. While we can generalize the best posting times for all audiences, industry-specific information is most useful as not all audiences interact with social media the same way. It all comes down to what content your brand is sharing and who your target audience is.

The First Step in Social Media Posting: Understand Your Audience’s Geography:

Before we dive into what the best posting times are for different industries, it’s key to understand where your audience is located geographically. There are six time zones in the United States alone, although the Central and Eastern time zones represent roughly 80% of the U.S. population. For standalone brick-and-mortar businesses, it’s easy to know what time zone you should use. But for online stores and businesses with multiple storefronts, the best time to post may depend on your audience’s daily schedules.

If you are unsure where your audience is located, Google Analytics provides detailed geographical data on your site visitors that will help. Simply click on the “Geo” tab of your Google Analytics account and you will see a map similar to the one below. You can adjust the dimension to see what the most popular cities/regions are as well.

Note: If your audience is evenly dispersed across the United States, you may want to stick to Eastern times, as they represent 50% of the U.S. population.

 

Social Media Marketing: Why When You Post Matters
Google Analytics provides geographical data to help you better understand where your audience is

The best times to post on social media by industry:

The following posting times were collected by TrackMaven from January 1, 2016 through July 31, 2016. The results are based on engagement rates from over 17.5 million social media posts by 17,737 brands. Although TrackMaven analyzed 75 industries, we will list data for only a few of these industries. The data is listed in Eastern Standard Time (EST). After you have an understanding of where your audience is located, you can adjust the following data to a different time zone, if necessary.

 

Consumer Goods

Facebook: Sunday at 11:00 am

Twitter: Wednesday at 11:00 am

LinkedIn: Friday at 8:00 am

Instagram: Tuesday at 6:00 pm

Pinterest: Tuesday at 12:00 pm

 

Consumer Services

Facebook: Friday at 4:00 pm

Twitter: Monday at 1:00 pm

LinkedIn: Sunday at 6:00 am

Instagram: Saturday at 10:00 am

Pinterest: Tuesday at 9:00 am

 

Financial Services

Facebook: Saturday at 5:00 pm

Twitter: Thursday at 12:00 pm

LinkedIn: Wednesday at 9:00 pm

Instagram: Friday at 9:00 am

Pinterest: Monday at 9:00 pm

 

Information Technology & Services

Facebook: Tuesday at 9:00 am

Twitter: Wednesday at 1:00 pm

LinkedIn: Wednesday at 1:00 pm

Instagram: Thursday at 2:00 pm

Pinterest: Friday at 8:00 pm

 

Management Consulting

Facebook: Wednesday at 2:00 pm

Twitter: Friday at 4:00 pm

LinkedIn: Sunday at 5:00 pm

Instagram: Tuesday at 6:00 pm

Pinterest: Thursday at 12:00 pm

 

Marketing & Advertising

Facebook: Saturday at 9:00 am

Twitter: Thursday at 4:00 pm

LinkedIn: Tuesday at 4:00 am

Instagram: Wednesday at 1:00 pm

Pinterest: Tuesday at 9:00 am

 

Online Media

Facebook: Wednesday at 4:00 pm

Twitter: Friday at 3:00 pm

LinkedIn: Friday at 4:00 am

Instagram: Monday at 12:00 pm

Pinterest: N/A

 

Retail

Facebook: Monday at 1:00 am

Twitter: Friday at 11:00 am

LinkedIn: Thursday at 1:00 pm

Instagram: Tuesday at 1:00 pm

Pinterest: Tuesday at 9:00 pm

 

If your business needs help with its social media marketing strategy, feel free to contact Young Marketing Consulting.

Six (More) Social Media Best Practices for 2016

Last week, we covered our first round of social media best practices for 2016. In that piece, we looked at the three most popular social media sites: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to discuss how brands can best reach their audience through these platform. This week, we’re diving a bit more deeply into what were once the “newer” social media networks: Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. These social media platforms are much more visual than their bigger and more widely-used brethren, but they still pack a marketing punch that savvy marketers can exploit. Welcome to our overview of six (more) social media best practices for 2016.

Instagram Best Practices

First, a caveat: Facebook owns Instagram, and many of our Facebook feeds are already regularly interspersed with Instagram posts. Over time, the two channels will no doubt converge more and more. But for now, Instagram remains different enough that we believe it warrants its own inclusion in a discussion of social media best practices. And that reason is that Instagram stands alone as the epitome of the “lifestyle” feed – pictures with short descriptions that give a brief window into the lives and aspirations of its account holders. But not every brand is suited for this space, and for that reason we offer our two best practices for Instagram marketing.

  1. Tell an Emotional Story Without Words: Words are few and far between on Instagram (except in the post comments), and so you’ll only have imagery to tell your brand’s story. For that reason, an Instagram best practice is to become crystal clear on the need state your product or service solves among your target audience, then build your visual story around moments where that need state is met. It’s one thing to post a coupon for a can of pet food, it’s another to show a contented pet snoozing in its owner’s lap. People will connect with images that speak to their shared experience, and in order to do that you’ll need to tap in to what they actually want, rather than a traditional marketing or sales offer.
  2. Do the Hard Work to Create a Following: Social media marketing is always a conversation, and the best social media marketers are adept at sharing and promoting others so that those individuals return the favor. Be sure to use relevant and trending hashtags related to your posts, engage with your audience by following them and commenting on their posts. Promote your Instagram handle on Facebook and other social media. Link your posts to your Facebook and Twitter to reach a wider audience. But more importantly, talk to people. Have fun with contests and sharing. Your goal is to let others share and participate in your brand experience, and the best social media marketing practices draw other users to your conversation by rewarding them.

YouTube Best Practices

Almost one-third of all internet users in the world spend time on YouTube. With hundreds of hours of video uploaded each day, backing by Google’s aggressive content marketing/Google Play efforts, and auto-play features whisking users from video to video, it’s conceivable that YouTube will replace broadcast television in the next few years. The platform has been a resounding success, but that success makes it even harder for marketers to be heard. The following best practices for YouTube may help you get a leg up against the competition:

  1. Stick With Content Formats That Work: While anyone who’s ever uploaded a video has no doubt dreamed of seeing millions of views, the reality is much different. With estimates for the typical number of YouTube views beginning with a few dozen, our first YouTube best practice is to stick to video formats that are proven to be strong search and share draws. These formats include how-to videos, reviews, vlogs, and, of course, comedy. Social media marketing can be difficult on YouTube if your brand does not easily lend itself to these formats, and so we encourage you to consider the return on your videos versus the effort you’ll be making. Posting regular content on Youtube can be time consuming, and if you’re not able to grow your audience it may be more time-effective to post responses or Q&A videos rather than original content.
  2. Adjust Your Uploads to be More Easily Recognized in Search: Our second YouTube marketing best practice is to always keep in mind that the primary reason you’re posting content is to help your target audience find you. So a video with little description and the title “hilarious” won’t get you very far. But adding video transcripts and adjusting the titles of videos to include keywords should boost your views and engagements. YouTube is currently the second-largest search engine in the world after Google, and a best practice is to follow the same SEO practices you use on your business’s website when posting content.

Pinterest Best Practices

Pinterest is the social network of the craft and hobby enthusiast. You’ll find more recipes, handicrafts, and jaw-dropping wardrobe ensembles here than in any catalog, and this cornucopia of craftiness is one of Pinterest’s primary draws. More than any other social network, Pinterest represents 21st century window shopping, and can be an ideal social media marketing vehicle of used properly. Let’s take a look at two Pinterest best practices for marketers.

  1. Post Original Visuals: While this can be considered a standard best practice for all social media, nearly 80% of Pinterest’s users do not post any original content. Those brands that do will be ideally positioned to spread their content with so little market competition. Of course, Pinterest isn’t for every business out there. If you struggle to find original content to post that doesn’t have strong shareability, Pinterest probably isn’t the place for you.
  2. Capitalize on Pinterest’s Homemade/Catalog Nature: What happens when someone stumbles across your original Pin? If they’re interested, they’re going to want to know how to create what they’ve seen or where to buy it. The best social media marketing on Pinterest begins with the Pin, understanding that a Pin is the initial invitation to bring your followers into your brand’s world. Your Pins should link to how-to tips, blogs and vlogs describing other ideas, and a whole world of tips and tricks for those enthusiasts who are constantly in search of new ideas. A social media marketing best practice is to keep your followers engaged, and the more content you link to from your pin, the more you’ll keep them coming back.

So that’s our list of six (more) social media best practices for 2016. Remember, the most effective social media marketing strategy entails choosing the right platforms that will help best reach your target audience. If you follow these tips and still don’t see the results you’d like, it may be time to try a different strategy or platform. Or you could contact Young Marketing Consulting, and we’ll be happy to sit down with you and discuss all your social media marketing needs.

Six Social Media Best Practices for 2016 – Part 1

If you want to market to an audience in 2016, you’ll find them on social media. Facebook’s user base is now larger than the population of China, Instagram grew 50% in 9 months, LinkedIn has nearly 400 million members, and it seems that a new site or app pops up every day that demands our audience’s attention. With so many options and networks to choose from, the sheer scale of social media marketing can overwhelm marketers. But a coherent social media marketing strategy is essential to an effective digital marketing campaign, and social networks are growing ever more savvy about helping marketers reach their audiences. So, with hope on the horizon, let’s start by looking at what some of the most popular social media sites are, and what they aren’t.

The first thing to keep in mind when marketing on social media is that each social medial platform began with unique functionality that evolved to drive different forms of discussion. Twitter, for example, is a way for customers to have direct, public conversations with a brand (or anyone). But if you want more involved professional discussions, you may need to head to Google+ or LinkedIn. According to the Pew Research Center, LinkedIn’s users are more likely to be aged 30-64 than 18-29. On the other hand, Facebook and Instagram are more popular among younger generations and are much more visual modes of communicating.

So, as we review the best practices for social media marketing below, keep in mind that the best social strategies adapt to their channel. If you have any questions or would like to a review of your social media strategy, please don’t hesitate to contact Young Marketing Consulting.

Facebook Best Practices

Facebook is taking more and more steps to keep users on the Facebook platform by autoplaying videos and housing news articles within its site, rather than having visitors click away to other sites. These efforts make things tricky for marketers looking to drive traffic from Facebook, but you do have some good options:

  1. Ramp up your organic Facebook activity: there’s still no substitute for a post that goes viral, so make sure that you’re regularly posting engaging content and responding to users who interact with your posts to build your community. Be friendly and personable, and remember that Facebook is primarily a visual medium. The platform currently has more video views than YouTube, so the more images and videos you’re posting the better. If you’re struggling for topics, try how-tos, “listicles,” comparisons/quizzes, or just plain humor. Many Facebook users also wear their hearts on their sleeves, so cause advocacy can work well in this space also.
  2. Use Facebook’s advertising and post-boosting tools: Facebook is doing more than ever to integrate advertising within its platform, and if you haven’t yet experimented with its targeting capabilities now would be a good time. Facebook allows strong targeting based on user interests, and its advertising cost-per-click rates are some of the more affordable of the various PPC advertising channels. While conversion rates from social media ads tend to be lower, you’ll at the very least know that you’re getting your advertising in front of the right audience.

Twitter Best Practices

Twitter is still an evolving social media platform. At its best, Twitter allows for lively conversations among diverse groups, while giving a unique form of direct access to brands and individuals that would not otherwise be possible. Here are two best practice tips for Twitter from the team:

  1. Engage with influencers on an individual level: One thing that’s easy to forget in the Twitterverse is that there’s a human being behind the computer screen who’s reading and reacting to what you’re saying. The best analogy for Twitter is that it’s like a cocktail party – you don’t want to stand in the corner shouting to yourself, you want to reach out to people, ask them questions, help them out when you can. And by doing so, you’ll begin to build your own influence. Directly tag people and respond to them in a timely manner – etiquette matters in the online world.
  2. Keep up with hashtags: Hashtags let everyone chime in to a single conversation, and are great tools to use when you don’t have large numbers of followers. They’ll also show you trending topics that you’d like to be involved in that you can take advantage of in the real world as well. Hashtags.org is a good resource to identify popular and trending hashtags. A few other words of wisdom on Twitter – try posting in afternoons and later in the week, and include pictures when you can. Keep your conversations natural, and don’t force a sales message into a discussion. It’s the quickest way to see yourself blocked.

LinkedIn Best Practices

LinkedIn is the most popular “professional” social network in the U.S., and the conversations you’ll find here are very much geared toward testing ideas and asking for advice on business topics. For this reason, it’s a much better B2B marketing tool than any other social network. Here are a few tips for maximizing your reach on LinkedIn:

  1. Engage in discussion groups: Discussion groups are some of the lesser-known features of LinkedIn but are a great way to demonstrate your expertise. Adding quality responses to industry-specific discussion groups will add to your credibility and build your audience among those who don’t know you. The topics will also show up in searches as well, which never hurts. One thing you don’t want to do is hit LinkedIn with heavy sales messages. LinkedIn users are savvy business people; the hard social media sell will turn them off. By the same token, company posts are not the best places to engage in discussions.
  2. Remember that your company is a collection of individuals: People follow other people, not companies. Your company officers should be posting on LinkedIn and tagging your company or promoting those posts. In addition, your CEO or spokesperson should be regularly commenting on news, engaging in discussions, etc. The more conversations you can get your teams involved in, the greater your reach will extend throughout the platform.

We hope that these social media best practices help set you up for success in 2016 and beyond. Next week, we’ll cover some of the “newer” social media platforms out there: YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and more!

 

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