Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Social Media Tools Can Help with Your Marketing Campaigns

Until recently, social media and e-mail have operated as two completely separate entities. You can “like” websites and videos, but if you received an e-mail you liked, you couldn’t exactly hit “like” on it to share it with friends.
For marketing campaigns, this has been a hindrance. If your small business is e-mailing newsletters, coupons, or just great messages to your distribution lists, there may be times when  your recipients would love to share the information with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Maybe your recipients haven’t considered it, but seeing that “like” button will give them the idea.
Recognizing the need for this, Campaigner has added this functionality to its popular e-mail marketing platform. Through social sharing, users can “enable sharing” when launching a new e-mail campaign. This automatically archives your content online, complete with a “share” bar at the top of the screen. You’ll also be able to track all page views that occur as a result of your content, including any views on social media sites.
“The synergies between email marketing and social media are evident, particularly as email marketers explore the value of enabling their messages to be easily shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter,” said Paul Turnbull, Product Manager, Campaigner. “Instead of having to deal with both an email marketing service and social media management tool, customers now have the ability to share emails on multiple social platforms through one easy-to-use interface. We are excited to deliver on many of the top requests from our customers and look forward to meeting their evolving email marketing needs.”
Campaigner is only the latest of many e-mail marketing businesses to integrate social media into its platform. With social media becoming so important in today’s marketing campaigns, many services have searched to find ways to implement new technologies. Some of these services include:
  • Constant Contact–Constant Contact allows you to add Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn links to your e-mails. Once your customer clicks, they are taken to your social media page, where they can like and share information about your business.

  • Vertical Response–Through its canvas editor, Vertical Response allows you to add a “Like” button to an e-mail. The canvas editor allows you to create HTML e-mails, which are necessary for the Like button to be visible to your recipients.

  • Mail Chimp–Mail Chimp has recently added new tags that will allow you to incorporate Facebook like buttons, Tweet buttons, and Google Buzz tags. The site also offers YouTube merge tags that can help with incorporating video into your marketing campaigns.

  • iContact–iContact allows users to easily add Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn buttons to e-mails, choosing whether these buttons should apply to the entire message or just a section.

  • My Emma–This site allows you to add a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn button to e-mails by simply clicking a button that says “Add Social Sharing” as you’re creating your e-mails.
The above solutions also offer analytics on the buttons you add. In fact, chances are with any marketing campaign service business you choose for your small business’s marketing campaign, you’ll have the option to include social media buttons. So the key is to find the e-mail marketing solution that works for your small business and learn how this new integration of technology can help improve your marketing campaigns.

The science of sharing and the impact for Facebook marketers

Twitter and Google+ may be gradually increasing their user numbers, but there’s no doubt that Facebook is still the king of social networks.
As evidence of that fact, Facebook accounts for 52% of the 4bn pieces of content shared everyday through social.
So tapping into all that sharing is an important challenge for marketers and even a partial success could lead to untold riches, or at least a boost in traffic and conversions.
A talk by Beyond’s Nils Mork-Ulnes and Judith Lewis at the recent Facebook Marketing Conference examined thescience of sharing and the implications for Facebook marketers.
They identified seven different types of social sharers, ranging from altruists who share because they want to help to careerists who share because it helps them in business.
In the UK, altruists account for the largest proportion of sharers (39.6%), while careerists are in the minority (2.5%).
Lewis also highlighted data from Google which showed that shoppers are increasing the number of sources used to arrive at a buying decision, and that they use them almost twice as heavily as in the past.
The increase in sharing is coupled with data that shows that people put great value in recommendations from their friends and family when making a purchase decision.
Research from Reevoo shows that more than half of respondents (52%) said friends’ recommendations were influential, followed by consumer reviews (48%) and advertising (24%).
So what are the implications for Facebook marketers and how can they get involved with all the social sharing that takes place?

The science of sharing

Mork-Ulnes highlighted three stats around sharing branded content on Facebook:
  • 60% of people would be willing to share a product or service if given a deal/discount.
  • 53% of people have used Facebook to interact with a brand.
  • 36% of people liked or shared a brand page on Facebook in the last 30 days.
However the deal/discount statistic may be a bit of a red herring as Nokia’s Thomas Messett said at the same conference that giving away cheap products or discounts has no long-term benefit to the brand as people simply click 'like' to get something for free, therefore the engagement doesn't actually mean anything.
That said, Mork-Ulnes provided data which indicates that fans exposed to brand content on Facebook buy more.
In tests, 2.12% of consumers that were exposed to ‘organic’ Starbucks branded content on Facebook made a purchase online or in-store compared to 1.54% who were no exposed to the content – a 38% difference.
A similar experiment using content from retailer Target found an 18% difference in favour of those who saw the content.
But not all products are necessarily impacted by social sharing – impulse buys that come at a lower cost and with minimum effort are apparently more suited to social recommendations.
The talk also touched on the benefits of frictionless sharing.
Though 67% of people have used an app that automatically shared their actions with their friends and family, 61% of users said these sorts of apps annoyed them.

ViDEO - The Value of Video, By the Numbers

The data and facts presented in this video are amazing. Video means business.
It’s not just marketers, communication, PR and creative folks who must embrace video as part of their strategy to make an impact.
All organizations need the magic of this medium:  government, nonprofit, small, large. If you want customers, donors, business, sales or influence, you need video.
The increase in engagement and interest that video creates with audiences is stunning.
The power of this three and a half minutes is proof...


Which Social Platform Really Drives the Most Traffic?

In preparing for our morning show we were doing some research and came across an old story that showed that StumbleUpon was actually driving more traffic than Facebook in January of 2011 and we wondered two things about that - firstly, is it still true, and secondly what would that mean for internet marketing and social media experts who stake their companies social media results on traffic from just Facebook and Twitter?
So we went back to the source of the original data, StatCounter.com for an update for the last 12 months:
Social Media Traffic Trends 2012
Social Media Traffic Trends 2012

StatCounter Global Stats - Social Media Market Share

In this graph it clearly shows that Facebook has regained domination for traffic driving over StumbleUpon, in fact, StumbleUpon seems to have dropped off quite dramatically this past year, but despite that fact, it still comes in as the number two traffic driver in social media well ahead of Twitter and edging out both Youtube and Pinterest. With the tremendous buzz that Pinterest has been generating over the past few months and the fact that it was recently recognized that Pinterest drives up to 4x as much retail buying traffic as Facebook, the fact that StumbleUpon still drives more traffic than Pinterest is a big deal.

Then you look to YouTube, arguably the world's largest search engine, and it comes inbelow StumbleUpon as well, but just a hair ahead of Pinterest for the third place spot in real traffic driving among the major social media.

In fifth place, then, we have a big drop to Reddit that has managed a slow but fairly steady climb up in the ranks of both traffic driving and credibility among major social media. And now dropping to 6th place is Twitter. Digg seems to be producing consistent if sub-par results compared to the sum of other networks, but is still a player in the market as a standalone service.

But the big surprise is how much traffic businesses that are only concentrating on FaceBook and Twitter are missing out on.
Considering that the volume of traffic on Twitter empowered things like The Arab Spring, since Reddit now has surpassed it for traffic generation, businesses, governments, and organizations that ignore it do so at their peril.
And that really is true of all of these top 7 social networks - they each have tremendous influence over huge numbers of highly engaged users, and this graph clearly shows what some of us have been saying all along, which is unless you are paying attention to more than Facebook and Twitter, your social media strategy is horrifically flawed.
StumbleUpon in 2011 was far more powerful at driving traffic than Facebook, now Facebook is the more powerful of the two, but those roles can reverse again just as quickly as users change their minds about where they want to spend their time. With Facebook's recent stock declines and underperforming advertising revenues, it would not be surprising to see StumbleUpon or any of the others leap up and wrestle the number one spot away from Facebook again next year, so basing your strategy on the thought that Facebook is King might not be the best idea for managing your overall social media brand.
That's not to say I think Facebook is going away, but these year-on-year statistics prove you can't count on any one social network to be your 'silver bullet' for social media traffic generation any more, and you truly need a much broader social media strategy that recognizes that social traffic is social and behaves in social patterns. It's a little fickle and moves sometimes in very sudden and powerful directions and any business that is looking to engage them needs to be engaged where they are, not the other way around.

Monday, July 30, 2012

8 Steps for Social Media Marketing Success

Do you follow, friend, like, tweet, #hashtag, circle, search, share, upload, link-in, link-to, favorite, discover, connect, bookmark, filter, share, pin, post, upload, comment and connect? You should.
For business, it’s become an imperative—for marketing, PR, personal branding, customer relations—you name it. For life outside of work, it’s a ton of fun.
When you think about, you come to realize social media kind of blurs the lines between work and play making it easier to get news, pick fights, spout off, opine, share wisdom, survey customers, track competitors, do research, make offers, make announcements, make friends, make money, make progress, make the world a better place, or make whatever you want to make. (Exhale.) Social media is what you make of it.
What’s on your mind?
If you’re a Facebook faithful, you answer the question daily, or hourly, hopefully with stuff more important than your coffee prefences. But what if, say, er, God-forbid, (pause…) maybe, you don’t have an itty bitty clue about what social media is, what it’s for and how to go about getting started. There’s no shame in it. I read somewhere 50% of businesses don’t even have websites. Could that be true?
This isn’t a how-to tutorial. I can—and I will give you one—or point you to the real experts. But if you’re going to get into social media for marketing, this does offer some solid advice for using it effectively.

Here’s your social media marketing starter plan.

A good chunk of this stuff comes from an informative article I found at socialmediaclub.org. (First lessson: it’s good protocol to cite your sources in this online journalism free-for-all.) Here goes, according to experts at the club, successful social media campaigns have eight characteristics, eight to-do’s for you.

1. Aim for a target

Successful social media campaigns have clear objectives and success criteria. They’re targeted. You MUST think through what you’re trying to achieve, the audience you want to engage, and forge your plan accordingly.
Are you going mostly for awareness? Influence? Buzz? Sales? Job hunting? Aiming to heighten your stature as an expert? You have to aim for something specific.

2. Make your point

Marketing campaigns aimed at raising brand awareness big time and in large scale generally require deep pockets. Small businesses tend to get left behind in the spend-a-thon. However, the Internet has proven to be quite the Goliath slayer and social media can be a real potent player when the playing field needs leveling.
But you have to focus. Pick your battle. Bang away at a specific issue, customer pain point, challenge, idea, etc. When you know exactly the point you’ll be making, you gain a great advantage for developing and/or delivering meaningful content that will make the impression you need to make your efforts worthwhile.

3. Measure and manage

You’ve heard it before: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Social media marketing (SMM), any marketing actually, demands metrics—a basis for measuring the success of your campaign. Set ‘em and don’t forget ‘em. Parlay what’s working, dump the stinkers, and refine the ones that fall on borderlines between.

4. Deliver great content

You might have noticed: it’s noisy out there. The good news is anyone can publish and the bad news is they do. Junk abounds.
If you want your campaign to stand out, make a commitment to making it great. It might take time. It might take money. Faking it won’t fly. The cornerstone of an effective social media campaign is great content presented in an engaging way.
Make sure you have a solid grasp of your audience’s passion and pain and feed their needs with the appropriate words and images.

5. Keep it simple

I’m not going to elaborate on what I mean by “keep it simple” because it’s a simple concept.

6. Make the media work

For your great, on-point, focused message to make a mark, you need to deliver it via the right channels. Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube rule today, but that doesn’t mean your target audience is there or the nature of the beast serves your purposes.
As a newbie to these or any social media channels, pay close attention to who’s there and how they behave. You want to be relevant. Remind yourself to match the media to the message. And consider how your online efforts will jive with what you’re doing offline. 900 million Facebook fans made it a big deal, but it didn’t make trade shows extinct.

7. Do something memorable

Rockin’ sockin’ social media campaigns touch a nerve, stir the pot, inspire, make a connection, get a laugh, or do something to make them memorable and share-worthy. Try to make an emotional connection. Tell a great story. The brand should mean something real. Apple is one helluva great example.

8. Engage

Truth be told, the article that inspired this article ended with a point about profitability. Profitability doesn’t suck, and though making money is fair game for social media marketing, it’s not the common denominator. You could have a different agenda.
No, really. You might say conversion could be as simple as starting a conversation.
So I want to close by insisting your SMM efforts engage viewers and inspire interaction. Make your social media messages personal. Show each and everyone you care. Make them feel like they belong in your circle, club, community, tribe, following…. Ugh. You get the idea. It’s time to make your way into the fascinating world of social media.

6 Critical Action Items B2B SEOs Need to Consider With Converged Media

Last week, Altimeter Group published its report "The Converged Media Imperative," which explores how paid, owned, and earned media can join together to become a disruptive force in digital marketing strategy.
Converged media represents the utilization of two or more channels (paid, owned, and earned media) working in concert and enabling brands to reach their target audience regardless of channel, medium, or device.
The three media channels are defined as:
  • Paid media is classified as display or broadcast advertising (PPC, sponsorships, etc.)
  • Owned media is content assets the brand wholly owns or controls (websites, blogs, etc.)
  • Earned media is user-generated content created and/or shared by users (social media posts, shares, organic reviews, etc.)
B2B search engine marketers should be at the forefront of converged media, since best practices and opportunities inherent to SEO will only be enhanced by companies embracing this initiative.
B2B SEOs should consider these six critical action items for spearheading the converged media imperative.

Tout the "Pervasive Nature" of Search

SEO results are generated and can enhance almost all B2B marketing initiatives, giving them greater impact in the long term. Some of the ways SEO has positively impacted organizations, leading to improved results for clients, include:
  • Videos and webcasts optimization – SEO tactics included link acquisition, keyword research, development, and optimization.
  • Microsite development – SEO tactics included keyword optimization, implementation of on-page/on-site SEO best practices, link outreach.
  • Blog post development – SEO tactics included link acquisition via blogger outreach, keyword research, on-page (post) keyword optimization.
Search can also be a component of almost every digital marketing initiative, not just public facing search engine technology (Google, Bing, etc.). B2B search professionals lead the responsibility to optimize content marketing asset visibility across platforms, from optimizing internal search mechanisms to establishing visibility in popular social media networks.

Succinctly Tie PPC Reporting to SEO Activity

It can be challenging to tie SEO initiatives to immediate results because the indexing of assets and acquisition of links take time to appreciate value. As a result, it might be easier to dismiss SEO, as pressure for short-term lead generation results mounts.
That is a key difference in comparison to PPC, where traffic, conversion rates, and cost per action metrics are much more immediate. B2B SEO teams should work in coordination with the reporting metrics developed through PPC management, to spot the best performing keyword phrases to target organically.
Considerations for B2B SEO:
  • Bring well performing PPC landing page concepts into site-specific SEO content development initiatives.
  • Evaluate existing content marketing assets for opportunities to optimize in coordination with low volume but higher converting PPC keyword phrases.
  • Provide and create additional content marketing recommendations that will support existing PPC strategies with historically above-average conversion rates.

Build Links via Social Media

It wouldn't be surprising if social media teams are looking for more tangible KPIs in their initiatives related to converged media. Helping to build quality links via social media participation, in a post-Penguin search environment, might be a win-win for both B2B SEO and social media.
The below referenced chart from a 2011 Marketing Sherpa report takes a look at social media tactics, illustrating the correlation between tactical effectiveness and the degree of difficulty to implement. Blogger relations, while most difficult, were also considered the most effective. B2B SEO and social media teams should work together to build quality links through effective blogger relationships.
In a recent example from our office, our team worked with our client’s social media team to build a blog post meant to be distributed to related industry bloggers. Using social media tools like Twitter and StumbleUpon, we secured more than 50 Twitter mentions and 2,000 views within the first 12 hours of publication.

Establish Clear Calls-to-Action

Review content marketing assets built for SEO campaigns and make certain conversion actions are clearly defined (or incorporated at all). B2B organizations are concerned with leads, both quantity and quality (hopefully in that order).
Examples of better call-to-action optimization include:
  • Evaluation of form requirements in association with content marketing assets. Conversion actions tied more directly to sales should require more in-depth field requirements, whereas content assets meant for lead nurturing programs should require fewer (but still hold true toB2B lead scoring systems).
  • Testing landing page layouts and optimizing for keyword strategies in an effort to increase conversion rates.
  • Considering secondary calls-to-action to increase awareness of social media profiles, email newsletter subscriptions, and visibility of related content marketing assets. Example: cross-link these assets on confirmation pages of completed form submissions.

Dig Deeper Into the Data

A key element of the converged media imperative is "understanding the flow" of the digital consumer. Visits to the website, referral sources, and the paths they took and/or assets viewed all need to be evaluated.
B2B SEOs can look toward proactive reporting in web traffic tools to help establish patterns of success (or improvement) of digital marketing initiatives.
Some of the first places to evaluate (if using Google Analytics specifically):
  • Visitor Flow reports (reference)
  • Page Views in coordination with Traffic Sources (reference)
  • Establishing Goals and Event Triggers and measuring conversion rates in coordination with these actions (reference)
Reporting tools, particularly in larger organizations, are often separated from the marketing group. Because SEO relies so heavily on metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies, B2B SEOs can lead the effort in defining website reporting requirements that measure success (and understanding) of a converged media implementation.

Find and Communicate Even the Small Wins

Because converged media puts change and additional pressure on multiple players in the organization, skepticism and earlier failures seem likely. It's important to motivate others by finding and celebrating even the small wins.
Examples of small wins to consider:
  • Hitting milestones and due dates associated with the first converged media project.
  • Leads acquired that can be traced back to the SEO of owned media assets.
  • Links acquired through successful earned media initiatives.
Early wins are important for building momentum in the much more collaborative environment of converged media. Because B2B SEO can be related to so many groups involved, SEO professionals can take the lead in recognizing proof points that lead to long-term success.

Final Thoughts

The search marketer's job constantly evolves and becomes more complex, but change is nothing new in our field. As technologies and marketing disciplines become more integrated, B2B SEO helps connect strategy more cohesively.
Is a converged media imperative taking place within your organization? I would love to hear your perspective, what is working, and what I've missed in this column, via comments below.

5 Major Mistakes to Avoid When Managing the New Google Shopping

Setting up Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Google Shopping can be a complicated process. Below I outline some of the top mistakes online merchants should look out for when setting up and managing Google Shopping.

1. Waiting Until October to Set up Product Listing Ads

Let’s be honest, Google Shopping is pretty intimidating. But doing nothing or letting other merchants get the jump on you isn’t helping your campaign. Overused platitudes and trademark violations aside - just do it!
Pro Tip: You can always rely on the safety net of setting a low campaign budget if you're worried about spend, and not very knowledgeable about product ads. As long as you set up ad groups under your main PLA campaign, they will always be restricted by that campaign budget, no matter how many you set up. In the example below, the budget for each Ad group: Ad A, Ad B, Ad C, etc. is restricted by the PLA campaign budget of $20 a day:
When setting up PLAs, AdWords will prompt you to identify your budget under Bidding and Budget:
And if you already have PLA campaigns set up in AdWords, you can change your daily ad budget in that campaign folder by clicking Edit:

2. Confuse PLAs and AdWords Ads in the AdWords Login

PLAs and AdWords Ads all live together in the AdWords management center, but it can sometimes be confusing differentiating the two types of campaigns. Make sure you know what type of ad you're setting up or modifying.
Pro Tip: An easy way to quickly filter out existing PLAs is to select the Auto Target tab:
When creating a new PLA campaign, be sure to specify which type of ad you want to set up, depending on your AdWords account this will be at the bottom of the campaign setup page under Ad Extensions:
Old vs. new (Google AdWords), for both make sure you select PLAs.
Or at the top of the page:

3. Manage Google Shopping Like AdWords

AdWords and Product Listing ads are both managed through the AdWords client center, and they both appear on Google Shopping and Search, but that’s largely where their similarities stop.
Ketchup is not a vegetable, don’t treat it like one. Manage your AdWords ads based on keywords, and manage your Product Listing ads with product, category, brand (etc.) and AdWords_label specific bids, based on the past performance of these products in Google Analytics.
Pro Tip: The AdWords_label in your Google Shopping feed can have a virtually unlimited number of variables. Use it to group products such as top performing products, worst performaing products, etc.

4. Manage Google Shopping Like Google Product Search

Google Product Search was largely a set-it-and-leave-it type of campaign. Other than optimizing your feed and landing pages, there wasn’t much you could do to increase visibility on Google Product Search.
In contrast, paid comparison shopping engines (CSEs) like Google Shopping require weekly (if not daily) campaign management. If you’ve already set up PLAs, you should actively check on which ad groups are performing well, and identify specific products, categories, brands, etc., to elevate or exclude.
Pro Tip: Use Google Analytics to determine which products perform well on the CSEs to set up PLAs.

5. Track PLA performance through AdWords Alone

While AdWords is a valuable source to identify clicks and spend, you’ll definitely also want to use Google Analytics to temper that data, identify revenue metrics, and break down performance for each of your ad groups.
Pro Tip: You can break down PLA campaign performance in Analytics under Traffic Sources > Content > Search > Campaigns, to find your specific PLA campaign and view specific AdWords campaign performance: