Tag: Marketo Marketing Blog

5 Factors to Consider When Segmenting Your Customers

Everyone knows all the usual suspects for customer segmentation. Easily collectible demographics data such as age, gender, and location, are easy wins for companies looking to personalize their marketing materials. In the next few years, the tools that we use for segmentation will give companies an even more significant understanding of each customer on an individual level. Machine learning and automation are increasingly being used to improve data analysis. These tools will quickly become the norm for any digital business. Still, there are some common misconceptions about the best practices for segmentation.

In this blog, I’ll show you five factors to consider before you begin your segmenting your customers. 

Customer Behavior is Just as Important as Customer Details

Effective segmentation digs deeply. It involves an analysis of customer behavior, not just quickly available data like customer details. What actions are customers taking once they hit your website? Do their actions resemble those of other customers? Does there seem to be a trend? Not many brands dive into segmentation as customer actions as thoroughly as they should. For example, many companies sort customers based on who abandons their cart on ecommerce sites. In these cases, companies might offer a discount or reach out to ask if they had any questions about the product.

But what if you segmented that group even further? Further segments could include those for customers who never entered their credit card information, customers whose credit card has been denied, or customers who failed to enter a single detail after adding a product to their cart. By tracking and sorting customers based on their behavior on your site, you can better inform your marketing materials and customize your messages for each customer type. You can then design your landing pages to target specific customer types. Landing page builders like Unbounce are helpful tools for this since they let you design your landing pages and other marketing materials according to your segmentation of customers.

Automation and Machine Learning are Inherent Parts of Effective Segmentation

A big reason so few brands haven’t used segmentation to its full potential is that sorting through all that data can be tedious. It can take days to sift through data by hand and properly adequately categorize each person to ensure your assessments are accurate. And accuracy is important here: you wouldn’t want to send out customer emails only to find that you have miscalculated or missed a data point.

Automation and machine learning have re-shaped digital marketing and segmentation in particular. An excellent engagement platform can provide hyper-targeting that examines the customer journey and then automatically optimizes your marketing materials for specific customer types, helping you interact with customers on a more personal level. These tools will become the standard for all brands doing serious business online, simply because of the added value they provide.

Micro-Segmentation Builds Trust

Customers love brands that understand them. That’s why it’s so important to speak to their pain points in every piece of marketing that you create. Customers want to know that companies understand their needs, pains, and desires. They also want to be assured that the product you offer will solve their relevant problems.

Micro-segmentation is about sorting your customers into more specific categories. In typical segmentation, you might have customer segments based on who lives in Denver, who has a job title of Vice President, or who is above the age of 50. An example of a micro-segment would be a segment that includes all three—50+-year-old VPs who live in Denver.

According to an Infosys survey, 78% of customers stated that they’re more likely to buy from a company that sends them more targeted offers. Building that initial trust is incredibly important—customers who have been buying from a company for 30 or more months spend 67% more per order than they did on their first purchase. Micro-segmentation helps you win that trust by allowing you to speak to customers’ most significant concerns.

Segmentation Research Should Inform Product Development

At its core, segmentation begins with learning more about your customers. After all, the more you know about your customers, the more you can tailor your marketing to their unique problems, preferences, and desires.

Segmentation data should go beyond marketing; it should also be used to inform product development. Startups often pivot to find a market that needs solutions, and proper segmentation can help them pinpoint the best market. While no established business is going to do a full-fledged pivot in the same way that a startup would, many could benefit from more customer data involvement in product development.

Since detailed customer data is one of the most powerful tools available to companies, companies should design a product based on data-informed facts, rather than on their own assumptions.

Customer Needs are Not Static

A big mistake that brands make during the segmentation process is to stop their analysis as soon as they place customers in their respective segments. These customers will forever remain in that segment—even if additional data is collected in the future.

The problem here is that customer needs and preferences change over time. Today’s customers might be in a completely different place in life than they had been a year prior. Continuously working to correctly categorize customer types will help you more accurately target customers in your marketing and sales strategy.

Personalization is the Future

In-depth segmentation of your audience gives you more opportunities for personalization. It allows you to gain a detailed analysis of each customer so that you can tailor your sales and marketing efforts accordingly. While segmentation itself isn’t a new concept in digital marketing, the tools that we have available are making micro-segmentation increasingly feasible for companies of all sizes.

Segmentation can make or break your business. As more companies move toward the possibility and potential of an audience segment of one, it is paramount to create segmentation that can scale. How have you utilized segmentation to improve your customer’s experience? What tips will you implement from the advice given in this blog? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.

The post 5 Factors to Consider When Segmenting Your Customers appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog https://blog.marketo.com/2017/12/5-factors-consider-segmenting-customers.html

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Three Tips to Create Sales Personalization at Scale

As a sales development representative, I am rejected on daily basis. Some leads are kinder than others and let me down easy. Others are short and direct in their response. Now, I get it, we have all experienced the unannounced sales call, interrupting our daily routing to sell us products we neither want nor need, thus making it easier to empathize with the frustration asserted by the voice on the other side of the phone line.

But when it comes to turning a few of those “no’s” into a “tell me more,” there are a few tricks that I have learned that other sales representatives can adopt to turn their luck around.

In this blog, I’ll give you three tips to create sales personalization at scale to help you move from rejected to connected.

Make the Sale Personal

As sales representatives in today’s day and age, we are fortunate enough to have a wealth of information at our disposal thanks to the internet. From individual prospect information to company/industry updates, there is almost no limit to the amount of personalization ammunition we can use at our disposal. But when it comes to delivering this level of individualized communication scale, via either telephone or email, we must be strategic.

Most organizations use sales enablement tools to equip their sales team to deliver mass and quick communication. But, before pressing send on those pre-constructed, vanilla emails, use this opportunity to add a little spice to the mix. Quickly adding a dash of personalization to your email can go a long way to increase their response rate. Looking for ways to personalize? Think industry specific news, noting their expressed interest in your product, or even a commonality about their professional career make-up.

By adding even a tiny bit of personalization to a specific campaign can drastically increase your outreach efforts and show that you have actually taken the time to learn about your prospect, and have earned the time to speak with them. Don’t jeopardize hurting your brand by sending mass, insincere, sales campaigns that not only waste your time but annoy your prospects, pushing them farther away.

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is key when you convince a prospect to buy or even consider buying your product. When it comes to selling the pleasure of your product, versus selling to pain, John Barrows clearly defines our problem as “the main reason most of us are stuck in the world of selling pain is because, unfortunately, most of us get stuck selling to people below the ‘power line,’ or non-decision-makers.” Selling to pain can have its benefits, by focusing on the time-consuming, menial processes that are eliminated by the implementation of the product. Showing empathy for daily frustrations and offering tangible solutions creates a level of desire for the product.

Yet, when it comes to selling to those who are outside of your product’s daily sphere of interaction, that is where you sell the hopes and dreams of grander marketing opportunities. Especially when you are looking to convince a company to invest a significate amount of capital in your product, showing them tangible and meaningful impact your product can have on their growth and long-term success, outside of feature/functionality, is going to be the ultimate decision maker.

Strike When the Iron is Hot

Staying top of mind is key for sales representatives to be successful in their space. With so many companies competing for an individual’s attention at any given moment, waiting too long to connect with an interested individual could mean losing their attention altogether. Now, I am not so much referencing the leads that are hot, reaching out to you to buy your product. That is a given fast-mover. I am more so suggesting the leads that are engaging with your brand, yet need a little nurturing, and a little push, to get them qualified to be a sales-ready lead. By being able to understand how a prospect is engaging with your brand in real time, you can leverage their attention to push that conversation and meet them half-way through their solution search. A timely interaction could just make the difference between, now and never.

When it comes to sales, there is no magic formula or secret sauce that makes a prospect reply to your outreach. Even a poetic and personalized email cadence can still land in the deleted folder, and a prospect who regularly visits your website could declare themselves uninterested in a purchasing conversation. Certain tricks work for some representatives, while others are left with negative returns. That is why the real secret to sales is that if at first, you don’t succeed, try again—but maybe this time with a different subject line.

With these three tips, you’ll move from rejected to connected in no time. Tell me about your tips and tricks to stay top of mind as a sales development representative. I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

The post Three Tips to Create Sales Personalization at Scale appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog https://blog.marketo.com/2017/12/three-tips-create-sales-personalization-scale.html

How to Show Off Your USP (Unique Selling Point) and Gain Conversions

A unique selling point (USP) defines your company, highlights the advantages of doing business with you and sets you apart from the competition. It also gives your company focus, because you won’t try to be everything to everyone. To reap the best business benefits, you need to fulfill your own unique USP.

Today’s business landscape is oversaturated in nearly every industry. For example, if you sell web hosting services, you have a lot of competition, and there are only so many ways to differentiate yourself. The best thing to do is to survey your competition. What is the USP for each of those businesses? How can you stand out from the crowd, provide something unique? Your USP can be anything from the best customer service around to a specific specialty area.

In this blog, I’ll explain five ways to show off your USP to gain conversions and stand out from the crowd. 

1. Solve a Problem

One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the competition is to solve a problem for the consumer. For example, if you run a blog about jewelry, what is one issue that people who buy or own jewelry have? Perhaps it is figuring out what their jewelry is worth and you can offer an online estimate tool.

Figuring out a problem to solve is as easy as polling your current customers. Ask them what questions they have. You also can search on forums related to your topic to see what people are posting and asking questions about.

Take the meal kit delivery service, Blue Apron, for instance. Their USP is, “Fresh Ingredients, Original Recipes, Delivered To You.” They have provided all of the ingredients in the right proportions to take all of the guesswork and grocery store headaches out of cooking.

2. Collaboration

Even though you might think you should just stick to a single niche, sometimes the way to differentiate your business is to collaborate and provide one or two solutions even better than one company could offer alone. Being one of the first to offer A and B will be your USP. Your selling point is being a one-stop solution for both things.

You have a couple of options here. You can either bring both solutions to the consumer yourself, or you can collaborate with another company to offer a package deal. The key here is to bring two solutions or benefits to the table for consumers. If you can do it for a reduced price, so much the better.

One example of such a collaboration is the Honeywell and Lear Corporation. The two companies have come together to try to create some security solutions for autonomous vehicles. One concern consumers have about automated cars is the possibility of hacking into the computer system. The two companies are working together to overcome this concern and provide security to companies who build these cars.

3. Make Your Proposition Visual

Visual marketing is powerful. 37% of marketing professionals indicate that visual marketing was the most critical type of content for their business marketing. According to FastCompany, this is likely because site visitors share and remember more images and info on social media.

Another advantage to creating a visual element to your USP is that you show other businesses instead of just telling them. So, instead of just telling another company your USP, you would perhaps provide a detailed chart or image.

SpeedPro doesn’t just show off which products they provide for other businesses to grow through text, but they also make the entire process visual for the business owner. If a business was looking for an event graphic, they could see at a glance what types of items SpeedPro provides.

4. Find a Specialty

As a business, it is crucial that you find a niche area. This allows you to really hone in and specialize on that one unique area and develop a USP around it that will let you come up with unique taglines, marketing materials, and advertising that shows off your expertise in that area.

You can find your niche by thinking about what you do best. Next, look at your competitors who offer the same thing and figure out how you can specialize even more. What is still unique about you or what can you make unique?

Just because you have a specialty area doesn’t mean you can’t ever branch out, though. It’s okay to grow your business and offer more products and services, but always consider how they meet your USP and how the new additions can shape your business and allow it to fulfill its potential. Once everything is running smoothly with the first niche, you can add more.

Intermedia offers cloud IT management for businesses with a niche focus on cloud-based business IT services. They seem to have figured out that a problem for medium-sized businesses is managing their IT needs and have come up with a simple solution.

5. Staying Current

When it comes to showing off your USP, you need to stay on top of the newest trends and ideas in your industry. It doesn’t do you much good to hit a unique point only to discover that no one cares any longer. Or, your competitors may be copying what you do, making your unique selling point not so unique.

However, if you’re consistently studying the markets, new trends, interviewing customers and potential customers, and watching the competition, you will always be a step ahead. You’ll come up with new ideas faster than your competitors can copy your ideas, which is key to your success as a business owner.

Flowcrete offers some interesting flooring options, particularly for businesses. One way that they keep their site current is to provide a flooring blog. The blog is mostly a collection of short stories written for B2B decision makers. They show customer projects, share reviews and offer inspiration. It’s a pretty unique and interesting take on a blog.

Define Your B2B Business

Defining your USP is vital for both business growth and developing brand loyalty. Because you’ll have a narrow focus, you can concentrate on building your customer base within that niche. A clearly-defined USP is one that will stay with possible customers. When they need that specific need filled, they’ll think of you first, and you’ll watch the conversions roll in.

What is your brand’s USP? Has it changed throughout the development of your company? Tell me about it in the comments.

The post How to Show Off Your USP (Unique Selling Point) and Gain Conversions appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog https://blog.marketo.com/2017/12/show-off-usp-unique-selling-point-gain-conversions.html

How to Measure Digital Marketing Metrics and ROI

Research shows that email, social media, and websites are the top three channels for engaging with consumers. Whether they’re using mobile or desktop, the majority of your customers use these channels to learn and compare products and services. They are also best used for engaging with the customer before and after purchase. If executed correctly, all three can work together to form a smooth, positive experience. And after all of your hard work creating the campaign, you as a marketer are tasked with measuring the metrics and return on investment (ROI) of your campaigns. But measuring your digital campaigns’ ROI can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re looking for. With so many numbers out there to crunch, how do you know which ones to focus on?

You can use soft metrics like impressions, engagement, and visitors which are essential for shaping your marketing strategy into a winning game plan. Or you could focus on hard metrics, like spend and revenue, and are typically where your execs’ will focus. Both hard and soft metrics feed into calculating ROI

You can think of ROI metrics as three separate categories: front-end, middle, and back-end.

  • Front-end metrics, such as click-through-rate (CTR) and engagement ratio, tell you if your content is relatable enough to inspire action by your target audience.
  • Middle metrics note measures like conversion rate and bounce rate that show you the number of leads inching closer to client status.
  • Back-end metrics like pipeline and revenue show you not only how your marketing efforts have been hitting the company card but also how much revenue you’re receiving in return. These are the usual metrics for measuring your financial ROI.

In this blog, I’ll cover how to measure digital marketing metrics and ROI for email, social media, and website landing pages. 

Email

Email has come a long way since its inception—the year when Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff” swayed all of the hips—to where we see it today, and it continues to be a primary source for brands to engage with their consumers. Whether it’s through newsletters, inquiries, or purchase confirmations, email remains a quality avenue of information and communication between consumers and brands. Thanks to new advances in technology and email marketing services, we now have more efficient ways to carry out campaigns and access to various ROI metrics.

If you’ve run an email campaign before, then most of the following metrics should be familiar to you. But as email evolves, it’s important to keep an eye out for new updates and features—there just might be something new to add to your reports. Don’t forget! Incorporate tracking parameters in your emails, so you know where to attribute any leads and successes.

When measuring the initial success of your email campaign, especially when using A/B testing, pay attention to the following:

Bounce Rate. Are there any emails that failed to send? Remove false emails from your list, so you don’t continue paying for inactive addresses. Plus, a high bounce rate will count negatively towards your campaign and might even label you as SPAM.

Open Rate. Are your emails not getting opened? Test a new headline (or several) to catch their attention.

Unsubscribe Rate. Hello, darkness, my old friend. This metric is an easy way to determine something is wrong. If your consumers are getting turned off by your content, at any rate really, put on your Batman mask and investigate.

Clicks & Click-Through-Rate (CTR). How many clicks are your emails receiving? Are they clicking your links or images? Give your consumers a reason to engage with your email.

Conversions & Conversion Rate. How many people are following through to your email’s end goal? You can have a high open and click rate, but if you’re not converting, then there is room for improvement. You might need to make some adjustments to your email and/or your landing page.

Leads. Add up the number of conversions earned on your emails and note any replies and regularly engaged subscribers. These are your leads—follow up with them!

Though these are important metrics, they may not be your campaign’s sole reason for success. If your campaign’s goal is to bring in pipeline (expected future business) and revenue (dollar dollar bills), the success of these metrics depends on bringing in as many conversions as you can to generate a monetary return.

Ask yourself these questions once you have a fair amount of data from your campaign and/or tests:

  • How many of these conversions became quality leads that led to pipeline? What is my pipeline-to-cost ratio for this campaign? For this quarter, month, etc.?
  • How much revenue did this campaign generate? At what rate?
  • How much did each email, open, click and conversion cost? How much did it earn?
  • Where can this campaign improve to help these ROI metrics grow?

All of these metrics give you a solid summary of your email campaign with great detail to make adjustments and record ROI.

Social Media

Remember the early days of Facebook when you were so stoked the first time you hit double-digit likes? Triple-digit? For new brands and small business, likes were hard to come by at that time, and it’s probably not getting any easier. If it wasn’t already apparent that Facebook and other social media platforms are legitimate advertising spaces, Facebook recently announced that they are testing the removal of organic page posts in a few countries. Organic content reach has been running out of steam for years now, so this move essentially brings business pages to a “Go Paid or Go Home” mentality.

With Facebook ads, in particular, coming to a wild west shootout between brands, where bullets are replaced with four bits (look it up), it’s going to be very important that your marketing campaigns take precise aim rather than a good ol’ shotgun blast. Build on your strategy and take a deep look at what has or hasn’t been working in your previous campaigns. Facebook’s Insights tool offers a good amount of data from your page as a whole to an individual post.

Before you spend dinero (that’s money) on your next campaign, take a look at these metrics:

Engagement and engagement ratio. Are people reacting, commenting and sharing your boosted posts? The #1 obstacle to consumer engagement is irrelevant content, so find out what it is that gets them to act on your posts.

Clicks and click-through-rate. Engagement on your ad is fantastic, but are consumers actually clicking on your call to action? Choose the route that gets more people to your website over the one receiving plenty of blind-shares and likes.

Though Facebook Insights are great for front-end metrics like engagement ratio, clicks, and click-through-rate (CTR), you won’t have much data on conversions & conversion rate from your website. To really maximize the data—and your spend—out of Facebook, be sure to implement the Facebook pixel on your website for “conversion tracking, optimization, and remarketing.” The way your Facebook fans convert on your campaign depends on what goal you set. If the goal of your campaign is to fill out a form on your landing page, for example, the pixel will record that as a social conversion. These goals are triggered by actions on your Facebook page, and a follow through on a call to action (CTA).

To see how many leads you generate from your social marketing efforts, be sure to include tracking parameters in the URL you are advertising. From here you can see which campaign(s) bring in the best lead conversion rate. With this data and tracking in place you can determine how Facebook and other social platforms are contributing to your pipeline, therefore allowing you to gather more data on pipeline to cost and the cost/earning per click and post.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • How many of these conversions became quality leads that led to pipeline? What is my pipeline-to-cost ratio for this campaign? For this quarter, month, etc.?
  • How much revenue did this campaign generate? At what rate?
  • How much did each impression, click and conversion cost? How much did it earn?
  • Where can this campaign improve to help these ROI metrics grow?

You’ll want to look and pull reports from both Facebook Insights and your web analytics platform to get the full picture of your paid social campaign’s success.

Website Landing Pages

Consider your website as a digital Disneyland: it’s where the magic happens. Though, instead of a shirtless giant mouse in short shorts selling you an overpriced funnel cake, it’s where you send your potential customers to find quality content and information on your products or services.

Be sure to take a look at these metrics on your website analytics using your tracking parameters:

Traffic. See how many visits your landing page received from your campaigns.

Unique & Returning visitors. This is the number of individuals who came to your page and how many kept coming back!

Total page views. Note any other pages visited on your website after your landing page.

Time spent on your page. Not only can you see how long people are on your website, but it also lets you know if your visits are engaged or immediate exits.

Conversions. Whether it’s an online purchase or signing up for an event, find the value generated from users that complete a goal on your website.

Use these initial metrics to gather details as you go further down the lead conversion funnel from campaigns, to website, and finally to revenue. Pulling consumers in through email and social is the first step, now you have to retain them. Pay attention to the bounce rate and exit rate on your landing page or website from these campaigns. Are people exiting at a high rate without converting? Might be a hint that you need to make some adjustments to your site. You could have a significant campaign that falls flat if your landing page doesn’t match your consumer’s expectations.

Is your website generating newsletter signups and email inquiries? These are leads! Perhaps a consumer came through a campaign and didn’t convert initially, but they came back to your website later for more information. Signing up for a newsletter or filling out your contact form can become a potential lead for you to continue your marketing.

Your website also has metrics that your social and emails may not: direct sales attribution. With transactions and revenue records on your site, you can see how much money your campaigns and website are generating. This gives you an immediate sense of ROI, but these are not the only two metrics to look at when it comes to money. If you operate through eCommerce, make sure to look at your cart retention rate. How many people are following through with their purchase after placing an item in their cart? Be sure to always test every function of your campaign, including following through on a purchase, to make sure that everything is working.

Take a look at the funnel visualization data to follow your buyer’s journey on your site. Your campaigns can bring you revenue outside of your initial promotion, so it’s a significant additional metric to see which campaigns and actions are contributing to conversions and sales. Here you can measure each channel’s contribution to your website’s success and compare it to your social metrics and email metrics.

Moving Forward

As marketers, it’s vital for us to pay attention to every detail to ensure that the customer journey is flawless, enjoyable, and shareworthy enough for them to recommend their experience. When presenting campaign data, create your reports using high-level reviews to provide knowledge on where the financial investment is going and how exactly it’s bringing a return. Email and social campaigns work directly with your website for a smooth customer experience—if you do it right. Not only do these metrics help you determine your overall ROI, but it also enables you to find room for improvement on each channel.

What metrics do you measure for your digital channels? How have you adjusted these as innovation happens in the digital space? I’d love to hear about your best practices in the comments.

The post How to Measure Digital Marketing Metrics and ROI appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog https://blog.marketo.com/2017/12/measure-digital-marketing-metrics-roi.html

Should You Be Gating Your Content Offers?

Can you remember the last time you were on a website that failed to offer you a guide, coupon, ebook, white paper or something else in exchange for your contact info? (And no, Facebook doesn’t count.) If you spend a good amount of time on the internet, it’s likely you run into a dozen of these every day (I actually have a library of “free” content offers collecting dust on my hard drive). The practice of generating leads through gated content offers, also known as lead magnets, has become so widespread that if you don’t encounter a pop-up or slide-in form during your visit, you might get the feeling something’s missing.

10 Percent Example Email

As a marketer, you might click these things away out of habit. But the pervasiveness of this trend testifies to the fact that they do work—or at least they’re working on someone. The fact is, many of the leads generated by such offers are fake (i.e. people using bogus email addresses). This is becoming easier to do with more temporary email address services becoming available. And on top of that, if these offers incorporate intrusive overlays, they tend to drive most people crazy. So, the question is whether the advantages of gating your content outweigh the disadvantages. Are the leads you’re gathering really worth the damage to your user experience? More importantly, are you really getting the most out of your content assets if they’re sitting behind a form?

In this blog, we’ll explore the pros and cons of gating content so that you can decide for yourself which option is best for your business.

Arguments For Gating

  1. Generating Inbound Leads

The most obvious argument for putting your content behind a form is that it gives you the opportunity to collect contact information from your visitors. Few website visitors are willing to give you their email addresses for nothing. But bribing them (or what should really be called a value exchange) with a quality piece of content is an effective way to get them in. If a visitor is interested enough to download an ebook or white paper and is even willing to give up contact information, it’s likely they’re a good candidate for further sales and marketing engagements.

  1. Coming Across as Premium

In the mind of a consumer, quality is almost always connected to price. If you have to pay for something, you will inevitably attach more value to it than if you received it for free. The same principle is applicable to your content assets. In a sense, users are “paying” with their contact details. The mere fact that they must fill out a form to get your ebook, white paper or brochure will cause them to attribute greater value to it and see it as more authoritative.

  1. Gauging the Level of Interest in Your Content

Gating your assets allows you to determine just how much your readers want your content—especially if you perform some testing. If you begin by offering your ultimate guide for free, and later put it behind a form, the change in download volume will give you some clues. If the downloads stop, it may indicate that the general level of interest in your guide is not so high. If the decrease is only marginal, it means you have something your visitors really want—and that they see you as a trustworthy source.

Arguments Against Gating

  1. Greater Reach

The biggest reason to avoid gating your content is that it will inevitably increase your content’s reach. More people will see it, and—if your content is really good—you’ll have the chance to impress more people. Many internet users are loath to give up their info on principle. And if you’ve spent a lot of time producing your content, it would be a shame to limit its exposure only to those willing to provide contact details.

  1. (Controlled) Shareability

The problem with gated PDFs is that, once they’ve been downloaded, users can simply email them to whoever they want and you lose the ability to track and measure your content’s performance. If your content is freely accessible online, however, you can both include sharing options to increase reach and maintain an overview of how many times your content has actually been accessed, shared and read.

  1. SEO

If your content assets cannot be accessed without first filling out a form, it means that web crawlers won’t be able to access them either. Ebooks, white papers, and guides are typically rich pieces of content that are likely to boost your SEO—but if they’re gated, you forfeit some of that benefit.

It All Boils Down to Your Content Goals

Like so many things in life (and in business), there is no single correct answer. The best choice is always contingent upon your goals. For each piece of content, you need to decide what your primary objective is before you decide whether to gate it or not.

Gated Content Goals

Source: Statista; MarketingProfs; Content Marketing Institute

If your goal is lead generation, gating makes a lot of sense. But if you want the best of both worlds, you may also consider semi-gating your content—allowing users to freely access the first few pages and then asking for contact details to gain access to the rest.

If your goal is brand awareness, it makes sense to aim for maximum reach and shareability. Leave your content freely accessible so that it can be shared, indexed by search engines and found by as many people as possible.

If your goal is customer engagement, then gating your content is probably not going to be of much value considering you already have your customers’ info. If you don’t want content to be freely accessible, you should allow customers to access it with their existing credentials.

If your goal is sales enablement, you probably want to introduce as little friction as possible. Product brochures, pricing pages, specifications and other sales collateral should be easy to access for prospects nearing a purchasing decision.

So, before you jump on the bandwagon and put your new ebook behind a gate like everyone else, take a moment to think about your content goals and overall marketing strategy.

What successes have you had with gating content? What successes have you experienced with ungated content? Do you have hard and fast rules that you follow at your company as to what content is gated and what content is ungated? Let’s keep our conversation going in the comments.

The post Should You Be Gating Your Content Offers? appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog https://blog.marketo.com/2017/12/gating-content-offers.html

4 Types of Social Media Content That Drives Engagement

It a big world out there. The amount of content being produced can be overwhelming. According to MarketingProfs, every single day over 2 million blogs are posted. Marketers are producing more content than ever before. With that much noise fighting for consumer attention, it only makes sense to invest in highly engaging, fun, and interactive content that will drive consumers to share it socially.

What types of content should marketers look to invest in order to drive social sharing?

Here are four types of social media content you can implement right now to drive engagement.

Interactive Content

Interactive content generates 4-5x more pageviews than static content, and social media is the perfect platform to showcase and explore interactive content. Here’s a look a few examples that have been proven to resonate particularly well with social audiences.

Quizzes

Quizzes can be used as a fun way for brands to engage customers. Marketers can use quizzes for brand awareness and a “fun” factor, or as a means to gauge customer interest in products. Results can be useful for recommending relevant subsequent content that drives back to the brand. With quizzes receiving 75% of their traffic from social media, it’s important to establish a promotion strategy to get the word out and generate buzz. A great way to encourage engagement, provide a score users can share on their social media channels.

Check out this fun quiz our partners over at SnapApp recently shared to help marketers determine which content to invest in for their holiday campaigns for a great quiz example.

Interactive Infographics

If you’re looking to share a large amount of data in a very visual way, interactive infographics are the way to go. There are endless ways to tell stories in infographics. Everything from embedded questions that pop up with answers, to maps that tell a story based on geographic location. We’ve been playing (yes, we have so much fun developing these it’s like playing) with animated gifographics. They catch the eye with subtle movement and provide snackable bits of data and analysis. How can you ensure you’re getting the most out of your asset while promoting across your social channels? While we’re developing gifographics in particular, we break each section out into separate gifs allowing us to share different data points over several weeks.

This great example from Quicksprout on How Google Works utilizes many of the best aspects of interactive infographics.

Survey/Poll

Soliciting real-time feedback is a great way to help you better understand your customers and what they care about. We’ve been incorporating polls on Twitter and our Instagram Stories and getting fantastic engagement.  We’ll often ask questions about a blog topic or campaign and then direct back to a content asset that provides additional information on the topic. Instagram Polls are a fun way to highlight giveaways or offerings at events. A great way to get the most out of your polls? Embed them on your website. You can embed Twitter Polls into blogs or web pages exactly like normal tweets, which means they will include a clickable “Follow” button. Win/win!

Here’s an example of a poll our friends at Hootsuite recently posted.

Live Streaming

Video, and in particular live streaming, has finally found its legs this year. Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined. I’ve seen my streams get more and more inundated with cell phone conversations in airports, thought of the day posts, and general how-tos/tips and tricks updates. How can brands tap into these trends and still maintain a professional tone? The key is understanding why video resonates. It’s personal, authentic, and organic. Putting a human face behind the brand logo allows people to connect in a way they haven’t previously been able to. We’ve had fantastic results live streaming interviews with keynote speakers at events, sharing an inside peek into our company, and hosting general Q&A sessions. Live streaming is a fantastic way for you to share with your audience how you’re finding success and where you’ve failed. With more than 87% of online marketers currently implementing video content into their social strategies, if you’re not, you’re going to get left behind.

Memes

Who can resist a great meme? Memes allow you to tap into real-time cultural references that provide a quick laugh. With the average person now spending over 100 minutes per day on social media channels, they’re often looking for humorous content to pass the time. Memes provide a great way to show your brand has a human side and isn’t afraid to have a little fun. A simple way to get started, look at creating a few memes that poke fun at your day to day pain points. Here’s an example of a few we created for an April Fool’s campaign last year:

Bryan Mills April Fools

Derek Zoolander April Fools Meme

For marketers looking to stay on top of trends, it’s important to keep a pulse on what’s new in pop culture. These memes, while still funny, are less relevant today than they were in 2016 due to movie release dates. Relevant this month would be Stranger Things, Thor, or Taylor Swift memes that rift on what’s top of mind now. The challenge for marketers is to strike while the iron’s hot and master the balance between humor and relevance.

Motivational Quotes

Who doesn’t want a little pick me up throughout the day? When I’m scrolling through my social feeds, I always appreciate a good quote. Sure they can be overdone. Yes, there are (eh, hum) several memes out there poking fun at motivational quotes. But the truth is: people want to feel good. They enjoy getting the “feels” once in a while. Here’s where brands can really hit it out of the park. Don’t always use quotes relevant to your field. For example, there’s a ton of marketing quotes from amazing people like Steve Jobs and Seth Godin I could pull from, but I often step out of typical brand relevant messaging and go for something a little different. The rule I like to use: If a quote makes me think and gives me a smile, others might find it enjoyable as well.

Want to really drive the message home? Overlay your quote on a relevant image that really speaks to the message you’re relaying. Here’s an example of a recent #MondayMotivation we’ve had extremely high engagement with:

Vince Lombardi Motivational Quotes

There’s a common thread woven throughout all of these recommendations—people are looking for visual, lighthearted easy to process content they can easily relate to and share quickly. Not to say long-form content doesn’t have its place, indeed it does. However, to gain the attention and get people into that long-form content, you may want to explore creating some of the recommendations above to grab their attention to ultimately guide them back to your asset where they’ll find more education and value.

What types of content have you had success with to drive engagement for your business? What have you introduced to keep up with/beat your competitors in the last year? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

The post 4 Types of Social Media Content That Drives Engagement appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog https://blog.marketo.com/2017/12/4-types-social-media-content-drives-engagement.html

SEO Cheat Sheet: Best Practices for On-Page Optimization

Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that’s certainly the case when it comes your website’s Search Engine Optimization. It’s safe to say that SEO best practices are a moving target with Google’s dedication to innovation and a constant stream of updates since inception. To hit that target, you need a content marketing plan and a good engagement platform. There are two main components of an SEO strategy, on-page, and off-page.

This cheat sheet will focus on on-page optimization and pointers to help you stay on top with less effort and more continuous, measurable results.

The Key to Keywords

Keywords are a large part of a solid on-page SEO strategy: they make the content your audience already loves appear equally enticing to search algorithms. But if your CEO asked you about it in the elevator, could you confidently explain your keyword strategy? Do you know which keywords you should be ranking for in the first place?

Nailing down a precise, targeted list of keywords is the very first step to conquering SEO. To begin, brainstorm a list of keywords you would like to rank highly for.

There are four ways to do this:

  1. Manually cull keywords from your existing sales and marketing materials, your current content, and the words you use to describe your products and services.
  2. Type those manually generated keywords into Google, scroll to the bottom of the results page, and see what other, related search terms Google is recommending.
  3. Generate a list of high-performing keywords from your marketing automation software.
  4. If you have a physical location, add the names of a few local cities to your top keywords for highly targeted variations.

Whether you use one of the above techniques or combine them, you’ll end up with a very long list—it could be hundreds of words long. Now it’s time to be ruthless and edit it down. Hone in on the keywords most likely to drive the right type of traffic to your content in the highest numbers—maybe 150, max.

Trim the Fat:

  1. Use critical thinking to banish tangential keywords. Remove any words that aren’t really related to what you sell, or that your ideal customers are unlikely to search for. EXAMPLE: You sell sweaters for cats that you make by hand. An example of an irrelevant keyword phrase: “make cat sweater.” Yes, you make your own cat sweaters, but the person searching is probably looking for instructions, not for sweaters.
  2. Sort your keywords by volume and degree of competition. A keyword might be a popular and relevant search term, but if everyone is using it, it’ll get diluted—which means you’ll have a hard time ranking highly for it. Conversely, if a keyword doesn’t have a lot of competition, but no one ever searches for it, there’s no point using it. The Holy Grail is the keyword that ranks high in search volume but isn’t too competitive
  3. Weed out branded terms. If one of your keywords is the brand name of a competitor, you might not want to bother targeting it. If most of the first-page results for “denver cat sweaters” are pages on the Denver Cat Sweaters website, blog reviews of the latest style, etc., you’re probably not going to break in—even if you’re making the best cat sweaters in Colorado. And if you did, it probably wouldn’t matter, because users are most likely looking for the brand anyway.

Black Cat in White Cable Knit Sweater

To end up on your list, each keyword must be:

  • Extremely relevant to your business
  • Frequently searched for
  • Not branded by your competitors
  • Powerful enough to convert someone into a lead

The Missing Keyword Ingredient: User Intent

Keywords used to be enough for a savvy SEO/content marketing strategy, but not anymore. Spammy SEO strategies exploited search engines’ fondness for keywords, and search engines fought back. There are now dozens of algorithms, machine learning programs, and artificial intelligence bots working around the clock to deliver the content that users actually want. That means you also need to understand the intent behind the keywords that your audience is using.

EXAMPLE: When a user searches for “homemade cat sweaters,” does she want to buy one, or does she want a pattern to make her own? If someone Googles “marketing automation,” does he want to buy software or learn what the term means? That’s user intent. The good news is, Google is hard at work trying to answer that same question, and they can’t keep their findings a secret. Like so many things in life, all you have to do is Google it.

Search your top keyword and scan the Page 1 results. Are they product/sales pages, or are they informational resources? Google has tracked countless clicks and engagement metrics to determine what users want for that keyword, and these 10 results represent what they’ve found.

If your results are mostly sales pages such as different brands of cat sweaters, then most people who search “homemade cat sweaters” want to buy. If the results are mostly patterns to make your own, then that’s what users want. If there’s a pretty even mixture of both, then you have your work cut out for you.

Colorful Sweater on Myrtle the Cat

Build Your Content Kingdom

Armed with the right keywords and the user intent behind them, it’s time to start creating content that will proactively improve your on- page search rankings. This won’t happen overnight. But with a solid list of keywords and an understanding of how to use them, your rankings will soon climb.

Step 1: Create personas so that you know exactly who you’re trying to attract with your keywords.

Step 2: Segment your keywords into categories aligned with those personas.

Step 3: Compare the content on your site with the keyword/user intent/persona combos you’ve developed. Identify where you already have content that meets the users’ needs, and where there are gaps.

Step 4: Create a prioritized list of content that needs to be (A) updated to make better use of keywords and other on-page SEO strategies, or (B) created to fill in a gap.

While keywords are key (ha) for making your content compelling to search engine algorithms, it’s more important that real live humans find your content relevant. Even if your keywords attract a lot of visitors, Google’s algorithm will notice if those visitors quickly bounce from your site and will lower your ranking accordingly. So rather than “stuffing” your content full of keywords, create content that actually addresses the intent of keyword searchers.

Tips for On-Page Optimization:

  • Optimize each page for one keyword/user intent combination, using normal, human language. Use variations of the phrase naturally within your page.
  • Use keywords in your URLs, with hyphens between the words to make them easier to read:
    https://www.clothing-for-pets.com/cat-sweaters.
  • Use keywords in your image file names and alt tags, as appropriate. It’s okay to title the picture of a cat in an orange sweater, “cat-sweater-orange.jpg,” but it’s not okay to use irrelevant titles/tags. If the picture is a cat sitting in an armchair wearing an orange sweater, the text can say, “cat in an orange sweater sitting in an armchair,” but not, “orange cat sweaters.” Google hates keyword stuffing and you won’t get away with it.
  • Use keywords in your headers and style them with <h1>,<h2>, and <h3> tags.
    • Your blog post about the latest cat sweater style, for instance, might have a header with HTML like this: <h1>The Latest in Feline Fashion: Cable Knit Sweaters<h1> 
    • Followed by subheads at frequent intervals that say things like: <h2>Does the idea of your feline friend looking like a dapper gentleman strike your fancy?<h2> But again, use them naturally. Search engines are getting better at recognizing keyword stuffing every day. Write for the reader.
  • Create keyword-rich categories for your blog posts.
  • Use keywords naturally throughout your actual body text. There is no magic ratio or keyword density. Write content your user will enjoy and search engines will favor it as they do.

Next Steps

Capturing metrics on how your keywords are performing will help you fine tune your on-page optimization strategy over time. Many engagement platforms allow you to access metrics such as visits, leads, and rank right within your platform. This way, you’ll attract the audience you want, for the right reasons.

Of course, all the great keywords in the world are no match for well-done content. But if you can create great content based on strategic keyword/user intent combinations, you’ll be creating SEO-savvy content that your audience actually wants—and that is how SEO drives real results.

How has your SEO strategy changed over the years? What other best practices do you employ for SEO? Tell me about your strategies in the comments.

The post SEO Cheat Sheet: Best Practices for On-Page Optimization appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

from Marketo Marketing Blog https://blog.marketo.com/2017/12/seo-cheat-sheet-best-practices-page-optimization.html