Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Wed, 18 Jul 2018 10:35:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 The Key to Social Media Success is Understanding Your Audience http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/audience-social-media-success/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/audience-social-media-success/#comments Tue, 21 Feb 2012 13:18:47 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13341 I recently attended a great presentation by Taylor Pratt of Raven Tools at OMS in San Diego.  He focused on the importance of using content marketing for improved social engagement. TopRank has been a long time and well-recognized advocate for the notion of customer centric content marketing.  Over the years we have seen SEO, social [...]

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What are customers saying about your brand?

I recently attended a great presentation by Taylor Pratt of Raven Tools at OMS in San Diego.  He focused on the importance of using content marketing for improved social engagement.

TopRank has been a long time and well-recognized advocate for the notion of customer centric content marketing.  Over the years we have seen SEO, social media, and content marketing industry change and grow at a rapid rate, so now more than ever marketers must create content to meet customer needs in order to execute a successful online strategy.  The social media game is not only evolving but the way that our audience consumes this information is constantly changing.

In fact, a study by NM Incite (a Nielsen/McKinsey Company) found that 2 in 5 social media users are accessing their social platforms from their mobile devices.

As additional devices are released on the market content marketers should be aware of these trends and create optimized content not only for computers, and Internet enabled devices, but for their customers as well.

How Do Your Customers Access Social Media?

 

Pratt also provided some valuable information on the different cycles that content marketers should go through in order to effectively target new customers.

Discovery

Any time that you launch a new client what is your first step?  I’m going to bet that discovery is typically your first step post sale (or pre-sale).  It is essential that you take a similar approach with your own company when launching a new social media campaign.  Some of the  key items you should be looking for when running your initial discovery might include:

  • Brand mentions
  • Product mentions
  • Keyword mentions
  • Competitor mentions
  • Influencer mentions

It is also recommended that you begin determining which social sites you should participate in, key influencers you want to get in front of, and topics that are trending or popular.

Listening

After you have discovered what is currently being said about your brand and your industry it’s time to really begin listening.  Attempting to jump head first into the deep end will not produce the results you are looking for.  Begin by tracking how your customers are using social media.  Are they sharing particular pain points or problems?  Are they looking for tips or advice in a certain way?  It is imperative that you interact with your customers in the same way that they interact with everyone else.  You may also want to determine:

  • Where are they participating?
  • What are they already saying about you?
  • What is their activity level on each social network?

Planning

Pratt shared a very insightful formula for the Planning phase of the process.  First you want to identify your business objectives.  This could be anything from improving your customer service to generating more sales.  Other objectives might include:

  • Improve brand sentiment
  • Generate brand advocates
  • Increase your brand reach
  • Reduce your sales cycles
  • Improve your product reviews or ratings

The second step involves identifying your organization’s value add.  Work to determine what sort of words your customers or potential customers are using when they mention your company.

Finally you need to define your level of commitment.  How often do you plan on interacting?  What steps must you take in order to create an engaging social media strategy?

Execution

When implementing your social media campaign it is very important that you as marketers consider how it will align with your other online marketing strategies.  The convergence of SEO, social media, and content marketing is no longer an option, it is a necessity.

Measurement

When beginning to measure your brand awareness there are four particular KPI’s to keep in mind.

  • Brand recognition
  • Share of voice
  • Engagement
  • Reach

A recent report by the Altimeter Group provides specific formulas for calculating each of the KPI’s listed above.

Although there are quite a few steps involved in creating a customer centric social media strategy it is well worth the effort.  Have to fear, there are many reputation management and social media engagement tools at your disposal.  Some require a monthly cost while others are at no charge.  Some of the tools available on the market today include:

Remember, one of the keys to a successful social media campaign is asking questions.  The more you know about your current and potential customers, the easier it will be to engage them online.


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Video Interview: Social Media Marketing at GM – Charlotte Blank, Manager of Social Media http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/social-media-gm-charlotte-blank/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/social-media-gm-charlotte-blank/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2012 12:42:04 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13325 At the recent Online Marketing Summit in San Diego I caught up with Charlotte Blank, Manager of Social Media at General Motors to talk about digital marketing.  In this short interview I asked Charlotte a few fundamental questions about digital and social media marketing related to customers: 1. How does GM segment digital marketing activities [...]

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Optimize Digital Marketing Interview Charlotte Blank GM

At the recent Online Marketing Summit in San Diego I caught up with Charlotte Blank, Manager of Social Media at General Motors to talk about digital marketing.  In this short interview I asked Charlotte a few fundamental questions about digital and social media marketing related to customers:

1. How does GM segment digital marketing activities between customer acquisition and retention?

Follow up: Does GM follow a social media editorial calendar according to customer buying cycles and personas?

2. With all the shiny objects of social media in the world, how do you go about deciding what to test and what to implement?

Take a look at the video and I think you’ll be interested in the customer-centric approach GM takes with social media and how time is allocated towards new customers, activating current customers as evangelists and their approach to filtering shiny social objects.

How is your company focusing digital and social media marketing efforts towards winning new customers and engaging those you have? How do you evaluate new social technologies for marketing and communications? Do you allocate time for testing, experimentation or go with the crowd?

Interview Transcript:

LO: This is Lee Odden from MarketingBlog.com at Online Marketing Summit in San Diego. With me is Charlotte Blank, Manager of Social Media at General Motors. Welcome.

CB: Hi Lee, Thank you.

LO: So thanks for spending a couple of minutes with me to answer some key questions I think for digital marketers, big brands, small brands. One of the first questions I had for you is, in terms of your digital approach, how much of it is split between customer acquisition vs customer engagement and retention?

CB: We definitely approach the consumer from a 360 degree angle. We try to keep the consumer at the center at all times in thinking about their journey from when they’re just kind of living their life 98% of the time to maybe thinking about making a car purchase a few months down the road to actually actively researching the car.

I think social media in particular, plays a role in all of those areas of the funnel. Our own channels, like our Facebook pages and Twitter handles for example, we typically think of as an upper funnel play.  There are really an opportunity to engage our consumers with their lifestyle passions. For example, music is a big pillar for Chevrolet and we offered early access to Spotify when that came out. That was a good integration with the millenials that we were targeting for the Sonic launch. That encouraged more engagement with our Facebook page. That would be an example of a lifestyle play that we use our own social media channels for.

I also see social media playing a big role in the ownership and CRM space and that’s where I think I’ll be focusing a lot of my efforts this year. I think that there’s a big opportunity with turning our owners into advocates and giving them tools to light up their social graphs and really share with their friends how they love their GM vehicles.

In that kind of middle area, more on the conversion question, we do have an entire group that has all kinds of sophisticated ways of knowing when someone is in market.  Because we really want to be cognizant that we’re not flooding the market with our messages about “buy now, buy now” when really only 2% of people are in market at any given time.  So we like to be very sophisticated in the way that we target those people with relevant messaging when they’re ready for it. There are still great opportunities for social to play a role there, especially in the influencer space. The ratings and recommendations – we work a lot with 3rd party sites like KBB and Edumunds – those are increasingly socializing.

LO: Is there integration much from an editorial planning standpoint? Are you running social content calendars for example, that tie into buying cycle or customer segments?

CB: We absolutely do use content calendars, mostly from a lifestyle engagement space. We do constantly measure and optimize the way that we’re resonating with consumers. We’re starting to find some real nuances depending on the name plate. So some of our more performance oriented vehicles, Camero fans, Corvette fans, Cadillac, they really like that awesome car content – great performance engine type of content that they just can’t get enough of. Whereas we’ll use some of our bigger brands, Cheverolet overall to connect more with young consumers based on a lifestyle play, a mom blogger relationship or ways to be more a part of every day life.

LO: In the social media world, by the way I love that you used the word optimize, OptimizeBook.com is where you’ll see this video and information about a book called Optimize. In terms of this fast changing world we’re in, there are so many apps and channels for us to deal with, it’s almost information overload not only for consumers but for marketers deciding where it is that those consumers are spending their time. How do you decide when it comes to new digital marketing technology, to invest, where to experiement?

CB: That’s a great question, that’s one of the things I talk most about in my job. It’s one of the most important things that we can do.  It’s all about consumer insights and putting yourself in the shoes of the consumer you’re trying to reach. This varies by campaign, by name plate, by the tone that we want to have with our consumers. We need to define up front what are we trying to achieve and who are we trying to connect with? Put ourselves in their shoes using thorough research, data and insights. What is that these people like to do? Do they use the Pinterests of the world, are they big Tweeters, do they even click on online advertising? It depends on who we’re trying to reach. If you constantly put yourself in the consumers shoes, it can help avoid the “chasing shiny object syndrome”.

LO: Right, some empathy towards what’s important and what they care about.  If you’d like to share a Twitter handle, a blog or any other social destination for folks to find out about you and the work you’re doing?

CB: You can follow me @charlotteblank and please like all our Facebook pages. We have  8 Chevrolet pages and one each for Cadillac, Buick and GMC.

LO: Thanks Charlotte!

 


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Better Content Marketing for Improved Social Engagement: Michael Stelzner http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/better-content-marketing-for-improved-social-engagement/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/better-content-marketing-for-improved-social-engagement/#comments Tue, 14 Feb 2012 12:39:32 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13295 In 2009 Michael Stelzner decided to run an experiment.  He wanted to see if he could repeat his previous success in a new industry.  That experiment led to the launch of Social Media Examiner in October of that same year.  Michael had been well known in the whitepaper industry and joked “I went from the [...]

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Michael Stelzner's Help me launch campaign

Does your business need better content marketing like this Social Media Examiner contest participant?

michael stelzner In 2009 Michael Stelzner decided to run an experiment.  He wanted to see if he could repeat his previous success in a new industry.  That experiment led to the launch of Social Media Examiner in October of that same year.  Michael had been well known in the whitepaper industry and joked “I went from the king of whitepapers to the joker of social media.”

I really appreciated Michael’s insight into today’s customers and the need for change in an industry that is constantly evolving.  Below I’ve provided some highlights from what I learned from Michael Stelzner at the 2012 Online Marketing Summit.

In the World of Marketing Change is Essential

As industries advance, ideas begin to expand, products morph, and customers move on.  With this change comes a series of questions:

  • Will my business survive?
  • Have I set the right trajectory?
  • What is coming?
  • Am I ready?

In the rapidly evolving Social Media Marketing industry there is one thing that is constant that business often overlook.  People are the constant; at their core people don’t change.  They will always be looking for great insight, access to great people, and recognition.  If you can keep focused on people and their desires then half of your mission, as a content marketer is complete.

What is Wrong with Marketing Today?

One of the analogies that Stelzner shared is that we often treat our customers like fish.  In order to better target these customers we must create better offerings and promotions than our competitors in order to get our customers to bite.  Marketers should also keep the following tips in mind when creating a content strategy:

Channel Overload Syndrome

As customers receive marketing messages from multiple sources on a daily basis they begin to tune out and seek a sense of refuge from the marketing bombardment. If you are able to create a sense of trust between your company and your customers it is one of the biggest assets that you have working for you.

Customers as a rule will typically distrust companies. If you can manage to solve your customers initial problems at no cost you open up the possibility that they will look to you to solve their larger issues which could lead to increased revenue for your organization.

What is the Formula for Growth?

According to Stelzner the formula for a great and engaging marketing plan is:

Great Content + People – Marketing Messages = Growth

  • Great content is that stuff that everyone wants.
  • Other people, means it’s designed not for your purposes but for others.
  • When you throw your marketing messages out the window completely in relation to content marketing you can grow quickly.

Creating Great Content

Instead of investing your marketing dollars in ad space consider investing in the creation of quality content.  That content will include personal experience and gathering information about topics customers care about, and identifying where they are spending time looking for answers.  Stelzner also identified two types of content that marketers should be creating which includes:

Primary Content: The type of content that people consume on a daily basis that brings them back for more on a regular basis.

Nuclear Content:  This type of content is harder to produce and includes things like industry reports and contests.  Nuclear content can have a larger impact and draws people to your organization and can get you noticed as an industry leader.

What Have We Learned?

There are many elements to creating a great content marketing plan.  First and foremost we must always remember who this content is for, what their preferences are, and what problems we are trying to help our audience solve.  I also really enjoyed hearing Stelzner’s take on different types of content, when to create them, and the anticipated results when executed properly.  What are your thoughts on adding “primary” and “nuclear” content to your online marketing strategy?

Be sure to tune in this afternoon to Social Media Examiner’s Small Business Summit with Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, Joe Pulizzi from Junta42, Brian Clark from Copyblogger Media and TopRank CEO Lee Odden as they discuss blogging and small business success.


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Good Content Marketing vs. Great Content Marketing: Learn the Difference From Joe Pulizzi #OMS12 http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/good-content-vs-great-content/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/good-content-vs-great-content/#comments Thu, 09 Feb 2012 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13294 If you are part of the online marketing or content marketing industry you have undoubtably heard of Joe Pulizzi and his company the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).  Joe has been a member of the content marketing community for over a decade, and has made it his mission to help brands create quality content and distribute that [...]

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If you are part of the online marketing or content marketing industry you have undoubtably heard of Joe Pulizzi and his company the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).  Joe has been a member of the content marketing community for over a decade, and has made it his mission to help brands create quality content and distribute that content through multiple online channels.   This was my first time seeing Joe speak and he made it a great interactive experience, and was of course wearing his trademark Orange.

I enjoyed the history that Joe shared with the audience as well as his practical tactical tips that can be implemented by an organization of any size.  However, I think the true takeaway is determining a way to differentiate yourself from your peers and your competition.

A Brief History of Content Marketing

Content marketing is not a new concept.  In fact, one of the first slides in his presentation showed a newsletter from 1931 published by John Deere.  Their print publication the “Furrow” was created as a way to educate their customers about their products and services, and provided a way to solve some of the common technology issues that they were facing.  One quote from Joe that stuck out in my mind during the presentation was:

“From the days of cave men writing on the walls, brands have been creating stories to sell their product and form a connection.”

The Barriers to Entry are Gone

The issues that our content marketing forefathers faced are far different than those we face today.  The barriers to entry or our ability to get in front of potential customers is no longer a hurdle.  Where are we now?

  • Content Acceptance: prospects and customers can accept a piece of content online within 3 seconds.
  • Talent: Journalists that would have previously worked as editors or writers for major publications have now shifted to the brand side.
  • Technology: We can now execute a content strategy that will not cost an extravagant amount of money to distribute.  Often times the technology we use is at no charge.

Pulizzi stressed that we must do what we can to make a difference for our audience.  But how can we accomplish this seemingly difficult task?  Through storytelling!  A well-formed story is an essential part of an online marketing strategy.  If you are trying to figure out why you aren’t having much interaction, it’s probably because you don’t have compelling stories.  Online tactics including search engine optimization, lead generation, and social media should al be focused around telling a compelling story to engage your audience.  After all, we know that facts tell and stories sell!

One of the examples shared was that of Coca-Cola.  The brand has recently released a series of videos that provide their take on the future of content marketing and more specifically the importance of storytelling.

If you’re interested you can find links to the videos below:

Content Marketing 2020: Part One

Content Marketing 2020: Part Two

Six Characteristics That Separate the Good to Great Content Marketers

#1 – The focused Non-Sales Content Mission and Platform

People do not want to be constantly bombarded with sales material.  If you are in a competitive industry (which lets face it most of us are) try to find a super niche way to attract your customers.  Create content that is not sales focused but customer centric.

#2 – Opening up New Content/Media markets

Create content that doesn’t pitch your product but focuses on what the audience wants to know.  Try experimenting with different types of content.

#3 – The Chief Storyteller

We are seeing great brands that are hiring people to tell some great storytelling.  Many teams are now made up of managing editors, content producers, chief listening officers, and content creators.

#4 – Leveraging Employees in Content Creation

By encouraging they participation of your employees in content creation you can accomplish a few things.  First off content creation on a regular basis will continue to educate your employees on the industry and provide them with increased exposure online as an advocate for your brand.  Secondly you can eliminate the need to hire a content creation team all at once.

#5 – Removing Your Brand From the Story

Joe said that someone once told him “your story travels further the less you mention your brand.”  Therefore, the more you provide quality content that is relevant to your readers the more likely they are to read and share that information.

#6 – Building the Influencer or Customer Community (a focus on referral traffic)

Search is still very relevant but we are seeing the switch to increased referral based business.  If you have an influencer ripe for you on your site and they share with their network and that will in turn send even more people back to your site.

Key Takeaways: Social Media 4-1-1 From the Content Marketing Institute

Content Marketing Mix: For every 6 posts shared on Twitter or Facebook CMI follows the following formula:

  • 4 shares of other influencers/company content
  • 1 original piece of CMI content
  • 1 sales pitch

Make It Easy to Share: Have you ever wanted to share an article and spent more time looking for the social share buttons than you did actually reading the content?  Place your social sharing buttons in a visible place that makes it easier for your audience to share your content with their network.

Start Small:  If you focus on creating a lot of content versus quality content it will hurt your brand.  If you believe that it is more realistic to post great content once a week you will be far better off than posting mediocre content five times a week.


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Innovative Search Features Drive Engagement – Paul Vallez #OMS12 http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/innovative-search-features-drive-engagement-oms12/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/02/innovative-search-features-drive-engagement-oms12/#comments Wed, 08 Feb 2012 11:30:54 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13302 Paul Vallez admits that when he started at HP less than a year ago he had just come from Ask.com and was pretty cocky about what he knew.  Vallez also shares that he wasn’t very open to new ideas and wanted to step into his new position at a big brand and immediately demonstrate value. What was [...]

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"Google taught us how to search." - Paul Vallez

Paul Vallez admits that when he started at HP less than a year ago he had just come from Ask.com and was pretty cocky about what he knew.  Vallez also shares that he wasn’t very open to new ideas and wanted to step into his new position at a big brand and immediately demonstrate value. What was his approach?

  • 75% Cocky
  • 25% Open to new ideas

In Vallez’s presentation he identified what he called “3 Key Learnings” that he shared with the audience for improving the way that your search strategy is implemented for improved engagement.

Key Learning #1 – Enterprise Search is Ripe for Disruption

According to Vallez, Enterprise Search is constantly going through a cycle and that emerging companies and established companies alike should expect changes, be prepared to take action, and run for the opportunity.  The different phases that were identified included:

  • Creation: In this phase organizations are experimenting with different platforms and their may be limited use or capability.
  • Survival: This phase shows some growth with a small community of partners and vendors.
  • Growth: At this point their is a solid value proposition in place as well as vendor consolidation.
  • Equilibrium: By this phase the vendor community can be leveraged, benefits and risks are known, and there is a flat growth.
  • Decline: The final phase presents an opportunity for other companies to begin working their way onto the Search playing field.

When we reach the “Equilibrium” phase of the cycle what you will typically see happen is the beginning of the decline.  At that point there is the opportunity for other organizations to disrupt the cycle and begin rolling out their own Search solutions.

Are you prepared for this disruption?

“By the end of 2012 over 90 percent of information flowing through the internet will be reach media (audio, images, video)” – Cisco

Search today is largely commoditized.  Companies will feature a product page that contains images, pricing, and product specs but not much more.  What these pages wont show you is what the product is good for or what problems it will help consumers solve.  When we talk about content we need to start talking about which content will better engage our customers.  At this point the majority of us know that if  they can’t find it from you they WILL look elsewhere.

Key Learning #2:Enterprises Need to Facilitate User Research

Facilitation of user research is key.  After all the internet is all about information.  How it is consumed, shared, and what affect it has on our prospective clients.  The question we were urged to ask ourselves was: What is the right information for your customers?  Vallez encourages us as marketers to make our information less about the product and more about the customers needs, stressing that customers also need to understand why your product is right for them. A 2010 DMA Study found that 43.7% of buyers admit that they are taking more time to research purchases while 66% of buyers say that vendor content/website influences their purchasing decisions.

Key learning point #3: Deliver the Right Balance of Content and User Experience

It is recommended that we focus on search results that bring up the right TYPE of information for our customers.  It should be as easy as possible for customers to  find anything related to your products so they know if they are making an informed buying decision. An example of some objectives that you may want to set forth to target your consumers could include:

  • De-commodotize the search experience
  • Better engage user
  • Faciliatate research
  • Increase Conversion Rate

What Did We Learn?

  • Prepare for a deeper level of engagement beyond text
  • Segment your audience and develop customer centric content and experiences
  • De-commoditize your search experience
  • You should spend at least 75% of your time being open to new ideas

After the presentation I asked Paul Vallez the following question: “With a shifted focus on providing customers with a combination of targeted content and user generated content how do you handle negative feedback while still presenting a real picture of your products?”  Vallez shared that obviously no brand wants to see anything negative being said about their products.  However, customers can tell when something is too curated or moderated.  HP has implemented a response button so that if customers don’t like the results they can send feedback to the company.  He has found that you will consistently get a more positive reaction from your customers if you take an open and honest approach.

 


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