Just What the Teacher Ordered: The Business-Building Benefit Marketing Reports Provide

By the time most of us graduated from high school, we were well acquainted with researching, writing, and editing reports. College often meant more of the same.
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While few would list report writing as a “highlight” of their academic career, those hours spent compiling reports were not spent in vain. Sure, report writing helped many of us learn how to plan out a project and conduct research, but they also taught us a bit about the topics we were researching, too. By forcing us to look in depth at the various subjects we were studying and analyze them from a number of different angles, we gained a far better comprehension of the subject matter than we might have if we had just read the textbook.

It’s important to remember those benefits, especially when it comes to marketing your company.

How marketing reports are like your old school reports

Like their high school and college counterparts, marketing reports can also feel frustrating. People often view such assignments as time wasters that are only done because they’re demanded by the c-level executives upstairs. In reality, however,marketing reports can offer considerable insight and help everyone better understand the company’s marketing strategies and how they can be improved.

When you sit down and really invest the time needed to complete a thorough marketing report, you’ll walk away with a much better understanding of your company’s current marketing practices, how well each campaign is performing, and how it all relates to your company’s bottom line. Without a well-researched report, it can be easy to gloss over weak spots and overlook opportunities for continued growth.

What a marketing report should exam

There are an infinite number of metrics a marketing report can examine, but some have more appeal and a greater ability to shed light on the success of your marketing strategy. Here are a couple to consider.

How much does it cost the company, on average, to obtain each new customer?

Take a look at your total cost in sales and marketing over a given period of time. Then see how many customers you obtained in that same period. Divide the cost by the number of customers, and you’ll have your average cost of obtaining a single customer.

Determine what percentage of that cost is related directly to marketing, so you can see which campaigns worked and which ones didn’t. Such insights can prove valuable in helping the marketing team improve their regular performance and illustrate the success of any changes made.

How many leads were generated directly from marketing?

Your marketing team should also be able to report how many successful leads were generated specifically from marketing efforts. Begin by calculating the percentage of customers who began as marketing leads. Then look at how many leads started elsewhere (e.g., in sales), but were influenced by the marketing department before making a purchase.

For added benefit, try to break down specifically where these marketing leads are coming from. Are prospects downloading certain ebooks? Do they subscribe to your blog? Did they take an online webinar?

Marketing reports offer valuable information about the state of your company’s marketing programs and what can be improved. Although they might be viewed with the same frustration as the school reports of your youth, they can also offer incredible insight and education. So don’t overlook the opportunity reports provide to regularly analyze the success of your marketing efforts.

How to Fix Your Call To Action

Your call to action, or CTA, is easily one of the most important parts of your website. It’s where you find new leads and convince your audience you offer something worth exploring. Whether your CTA invites people to sign up for a newsletter or download your latest ebook, all CTAs are not created the same. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when developing this critical part of the website.

The wordsunnamed

The words on your CTA are critical. Most people will be skimming it, so it’s important to make your offer’s potential value obvious to everyone who sees it. Use precise, clear language that explains what customers are going to receive. Bullet points are fantastic because they’re particularly easy to skim and tell the audience exactly what they’re going to receive.

The words you use in your CTA should also line up with the text around it. For example, if you offer home cleaning services and are offering a free download on the safest cleaners to use around children, your CTA will probably best fit at the end of blog posts and articles that discuss the dangers of certain cleaners or how to safely secure cleaners away from children. Try to create a tangible link between the content and the CTA. This will help ensure your offer reaches those who are most likely to be interested in what you have to say.

The appearance

While what you say is certainly important, so is the overall appearance of your CTA. Choose contrasting colors to help the CTA pop from the page and attract viewers’ attention. A CTA that just blends in at the bottom of a blog post will be overlooked and have a poor conversion rate. Similarly, make sure the CTA is big and bold, so no one can miss it. Don’t hide the CTA in the corner, using the same font size as the rest of the page. It will be too easy to ignore.

In the same way, use images and other visuals to help consumers get a concrete look at what they’ll be receiving. If that’s an ebook, for example, use a picture of an actual book with the title of your ebook printed on the front. Using images helps people develop a strong association with the product you’re offering and makes it look more appealing.

The importance of testing

When planning your campaign, develop more than one CTA, then test them to see which one resonates more with customers. You might be surprised how much difference a particular word choice or color can make on your conversion rates. Run basic A/B tests on the CTA, and get concrete answers about which offer is getting more conversions.

An A/B test is simple. Say you have one CTA and then develop an alternate page. The A/B test will randomly show some visitors the original and some the alternate page. It will then track how many people convert from each page. You can use this information to see which has a higher conversion rate, so you get the best page on your site.

Developing an efficient CTA will bring you leads and potential customers. Take the time to follow the steps above, and create a CTA that will maximize your potential.

3 Marketing Lessons Netflix Has Taught Us

Over the past few years, Netflix has revolutionized how people think about television and movies. As people have become increasingly disenchanted with cable options and the price of TV, Netflix has risen to become a major entertainment provider. Recently, the service has even begun producing movies and shows of its own. Whether you subscribe to Netflix yourself or know someone who does, here are some valuable Netflix-inspired lessons to consider for your company.

Research, research, researchunnamed (9)

We know it’s important to research our potential audience and customers, but Netflix has taken that research to a whole new level. Just consider the research that came with the company’s production of its own original shows. Netflix researched everything from viewing habits to actor popularity to the types of shows and movies people like in order to create the perfect recipe for success.

Conversely, Netflix has also shown us the importance of research with its hiccup a few years ago when it split the charges for its streaming and DVD options. While the company did manage to bounce back, people were very upset with the price hike and were so outraged at the company’s attempt to rename part of its brand that Netflix had to drop the idea. Knowing where your customers’ sensitivities lie can help you avoid such a debacle. A company that was not as popular as Netflix might have struggled to weather the storm.

Solve people’s problems they didn’t even know they have

Netflix has become popular precisely because the company has mastered this skill. Before Netflix came on the scene, people didn’t really have much of a choice besides cable. Netflix came and offered people a solution for watching movies and TV shows. The company was also able to predict customer trends and started producing and advertising a streaming service before people even realized there might be something better than waiting two days for DVDs to arrive in the mail. Netflix stayed one step ahead of its customers, which gave the company a strong reputation as a superior provider.

Encourage word-of-mouth advertising

Word-of-mouth advertising is some of the most valuable in any industry. When people receive a recommendation from someone they trust, such as a friend or a family member, they automatically give the advertisement more credence. Encouraging people to tell their friends and family, and making it easy for them to do so, has been fantastic advertising for Netflix. Just about everyone has seen those little ’1 month free for friends and family’ cards Netflix gives out to subscribers. These cards make it simple and productive for current subscribers to encourage signups among their social circles. Once these new signups experience the convenience of Netflix firsthand, they’re more likely to stay with the company long-term.

Netflix has built success by anticipating customer needs, understanding what drives customer demand, and capitalizing on industry opportunity. As you settle into your chair tonight for a marathon of your favorite show, keep these marketing techniques in mind and see what lessons you can apply to your own business. If you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, contact us today for assistance.

Maximizing Your Use 4 Top Social Media Platforms

If you don’t use social media personally, it can seem difficult to understand why it’s such an important aspect of digital marketing. You might be tempted to think, “Well, Facebook is the biggest of the social media platforms, so maybe I should just post everything on there in the hopes of reaching the most people.” What you need to realize, however, is that social media is not just a publication service. It’s a community. unnamed (7)

While there is overlap, different platforms are known for attracting different people and different types of conversation. You’re not going to have much luck unless you understand the crowd each one attracts. Here’s a quick breakdown of the top four social sites — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ — to help you get a feel for each platform and how to connect with customers on them.

Facebook
Facebook is easily the largest platform with an estimated 1.3 billion users. The site is known for being the perfect place for users to develop their individuality. You can use images, text, videos, and just about anything else you can think of. Generally keep your posts under 250 characters to keep your customers’ attention, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your page visitors. This is the platform for making your brand seem full of personality and connecting with customers.

Twitter
Think of Twitter as a large, global conversation. There are an estimated 645 million users around the world, and the site has made the news multiple times for helping to start large social movements. It can also help your business.

Generally, you want to start your posts (tweets) early in the day and post frequently (just like a conversation). What’s challenging about Twitter is that your posts should be only 115-120 characters long (which makes it easier for others to ‘retweet’ you). Twitter is also known for the popularity of the #hashtag. Hashtags help to make your posts searchable, while connecting you with your audience. You should alternate between text-based tweets and occasional photos.

LinkedIn
This site is the more professional of the social pages. There are about 300 million users, and most of them are there for professional networking and business information. This trend is reflected in the best posting practices. Posts made before 8amand after 6pm tend to fare better than those made during the day (when most users are at work). They should also typically concern business topics. Your business page and posts should all reflect the more professional aspect of this site.

Google+
Google+ also has about 300 million users, but Google+ offers the added benefit of being connected to Google, which helps make it fantastic for local search SEO. Google likes businesses to use Google+ and has combined it with the old Google business pages. Take some time to build up your profile and cultivate reviews. This can help boost your local search results and make your business seem very appealing when it shows up on a search results page.

Content posted to this site should also be diversified between images, videos, fun content, and educational content. In terms of seriousness, Google+ tends to fall somewhere between Facebook and LinkedIn, making it a good place to connect with professional and casual users.

Social media has a considerable amount of potential in what it can offer your company. It’s a great place to connect with people and show them everything your business has to offer. Knowing the crowds who tend to gather on each platform will help you considerably as you set out to use each to its fullest potential.

How Does Email fit into your Marketing Strategy?

Given that most people despise spam email, it can be difficult to see how email can fit into a successful marketing strategy. Isn’t blasting potential customers with email part of the old, outdated marketing system that’s now viewed as ineffective?

Yes, and no.

Yes — when you send potential customers unsolicited emails, especially using email lists you purchase from a provider.

No — when your email messages are used purposefully as a means of initiating conversation with your leads and helping them along the sales process.

The truth is that more than 3/4 of your customers prefer to receive marketing communications by email compared to other methods. It’s also true that 95 percent of online customers use email, with the vast majority of them checking their email at least once a day. When used properly, email can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with your customers reliably and consistently. Here’s what you should keep in mind to make sure you’re getting the most from your emails.

Make sure everyone wants to be on the email list.

The first step to using email effectively is to ensure that everyone actually wants to be on your email list. This means no list purchasing and no generating email lists from random people. Your email lists should be comprised of people who have voluntarily given you their email address. You can use your landing pages, sign ups, and past customers to generate much more effective email lists. Such lists will have a much higher open rate than a randomly generated list. Your messages will be less likely to be marked as spam, and you’ll generate a higher conversion rate.

Use email to cultivate leads.

Email is a fantastic tool for taking people who have shown at least a passing interest in your brand and moving them further along the conversion process. Start by creating an e-newsletter comprised of helpful, relevant information designed to help people no matter where they are in the buyer’s journey. This will remind customers of the value you have to offer. As an added bonus, when you produce content that people like to share, you can generate even more leads. When people receive information about a company from a person they trust, they’re more likely to trust the company themselves.

Use email to stay in touch.

Email is also a great medium for staying in touch with people. Got any past customers you haven’t heard from in a while? Reach out to them with an email asking how you can help them reach their goals. How about people who have visited your pricing page but didn’t make a purchase? Email them to find out if they have any more questions about your products or services.

Email can even be helpful for taking an interested, sales-ready lead to the final step. After making your sales calls, follow up with emails. By opening multiple lines of communication, you’re making it as easy as possible for your customers to contact you.

Spam email has long passed its effectiveness as a marketing tool, much to the relief of everyone. But that doesn’t mean email itself is obsolete. Using email effectively in conjunction with the rest of your marketing efforts can be an excellent way to cultivate more leads and bring your company the growth you seek.unnamed (6)

Keeping the Ship Afloat . . . In Business

We’ve all heard the expression “keeping the ship afloat.” Anyone who has ever spent time on an actual ship knows that keeping a boat afloat and getting it to the intended destination is no easy task. Ships of all sizes require a considerable amount of work from everyone on board, and we in business can learn a great deal from these professionals when it comes to keeping our own companies running and moving in the right direction.

The importance of clear leadershipunnamed (5)

Ships are not democracies. A captain always leads the ship’s crew and directs activities on board. Captains have considerable experience sailing ships and know what needs to be done to make the trip a success. Their ability to see the larger picture lets them direct their subordinates. They don’t waffle in making decisions and have confidence in their abilities.

Like any good leader, however, a captain also willingly listen. Captains will take advice from their advisers in certain situations, and then balance the advice against their own experience. A good captain is able to take all of these sources of information and synthesize them to come up with the best possible solution.

As a business leader, you must be willing to do the same. Strong leaders unabashedly listen to those around them while also using their own experience and wisdom to make decisions for the benefit of the company. They don’t shy away from making firm decisions, nor are they so concerned for their own power that they neglect to listen to what others have to offer.

Dedicated workers

Ships have always required dedicated crews to keep them afloat. The ships of old required crews of men who would paddle the ship or control the sails to keep the boat moving. Crews today might man the sails or the engine rooms. No matter where the crew is working, however, they have to be prepared to give the boat 100 percent.

The employees you select for your business must also be fully dedicated to your company. You should be able to trust that their skills and experience will help them move the organization forward. Running an efficient business means not having to look over everyone’s shoulders, but instead establishing goals and having your employees work to meet you there.

Choosing a direction and sticking with it

When sailing a ship, the boat has a concrete destination. The captain and crew might have to adjust their route slightly if a storm comes up or another obstacle crosses their path, but they always know where they’re going and how they plan to get there.

Your business must have the same foresight. Successful organizations don’t set vague goals for success. Instead, they lay out concrete, measurable goals they want to achieve. When the goals of the organization are clearly laid out in front of everyone, it’s much easier for each person to know exactly what they’re supposed to do and how that fits in the broader picture.

Keeping a ship — or business — afloat requires strong leadership, a dedicated staff, and concrete goals. When you manage to keep these three ingredients in mind for your company, you’ll be well on your way to success.

Are You Using Keywords Correctly

When it comes to search engine optimization, few topics are as popular as the use of keywords. To hear some people describe it, keywords are the secret to success; if you just use specific keywords in your text enough, people will flock to your website. But think about the last time you read something that was clearly “keyword stuffed.” It probably sounded awkward, unnatural, and a bit forced, didn’t it? You probably didn’t take the information or the website too seriously. Fortunately, it is possible to use keywords effectively to entice visitors, give them confidence they’ve found a good source of information, and still sound completely natural.unnamed (30)

Selecting the keywords

When choosing keywords, think about the words customers are commonly searching for online. Monitor the number of searches that are done for different keywords, and then choose a few you’d like to target. These should be keywords directly related to your business, so you can use them naturally throughout your website and blog.

When selecting keywords, make the subtle distinction between keywords you and other professionals in your industry are likely to use and those your customers are likely to use. Your keywords won’t do you any good if your site ends up just attracting competitors. They’re not looking to buy from you! You want to use language and keywords that reflect your customers’ priorities and their language. This will ensure you bring the right people to your site. This is also helpful for selecting vocabulary words to use on all your marketing materials, including your outbound direct mail and newspaper advertisements.

Using the keywords appropriately

Make sure you use the keywords a few times in content. This will let your visitor know they’ve found a page with the information they were looking for. If done naturally, using the keywords in the opening paragraph can be a good practice for this reason.

Don’t use your keywords excessively, though. Generally, aim to keep the keywords in mind when you write, and use them whenever the opportunity naturally arises rather than assigning yourself the task of fitting them in as often as possible. Using this system will help you improve the flow of your writing and make it sound much more compelling and natural, rather than a trap designed to bring visitors to your website.

The reason blogging and keeping your website up-to-date are so fantastic for marketing is that both of these practices allow you to naturally incorporate keywords into your content. Keywords should be thought of as subjects that you want to write about. They’re terms your potential customers are searching for because they’re interested in learning more. Be the source of information for them, so they will turn to you as a source of authority.

Keywords can be very helpful in developing websites to attract and retain visitors. Capitalizing on their value, however, requires understanding what customers and search engines are and aren’t looking for. Keeping these guidelines in mind should help you use your keywords to your advantage. If you’re ready to take your marketing campaign to the next level, let us know. We’d be happy to help get you started!