Monday, May 5, 2014

Inbound Marketing Trends & Digital Developments for 2014/15

To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often. 
It seems as if Google used Winston Churchill's famous words as guideline in 2013, thereby creating a roller coaster ride for digital marketers. Google’s many changes in algorithm created shifts in demand for certain marketing activities on one hand, however many opportunities for creative, new strategies on the other. 
Which raises the big question - how can we adjust to these changes and what are the inbound marketing trends and strategies to follow in 2014 & 2015?
I scanned some of the latest industry reports and articles on trending marketing activities including Moz's industry report, research by shopaholics, stats by IDC, PEW surveys and a couple of my favorite blogs. Here is a short and sweet version, translated into English to keep the "geeking-out" under control.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2014 & 2015

Trend 1: OAO - online audience optimization 
Content will stay king in 2014 and due to the changes in Google’s algorithm and now restricted data on keywords, OAO will be the answer to many questions that were previously answered by SEO or keyword strategy. Demand for content creation increased by 70.94% in 2013 and this trend is to be expected to continue throughout 2014. You can learn more about OAO in my previous post - How to evolve from SEO to OAO

Demand for Marketing Activities in 2013

Trend 2: Brand Mentions are the future of link building
For quite some time there has been speculation on how Google measures “brand authority”. What we know at this point is that brand building is the best strategy for long-term organic visibility. But how can you measure brand authority with a complex formula or algorithm? According to Moz a patent filed by Google could give us some interesting answers. I won’t bore you with the exact patent-wording, since +simon penson did a great job interpreting what it means in his article "The Panda Patent", which I can recommend if you are interested in learning more details.
Bottom line is that it suggests that there will be a shift in how links are weighted and how relevance is measured – the two key ingredients of search. The patent suggests that nofollow links and brand mentions will have a bigger impact in the future. How can we implement this knowledge into our marketing strategies in 2014 & 2015? As suggested under Trend 1 - OAO and creative content will be key. Building content that people are more likely to share will drive mentions and build the brand. 

Trend 3: Tracking, Retargeting & Analytics
No big surprise here since other trending marketing activities such as social media or automation are result-driven. The good old times on Madison Avenue are long over, sorry Don. Last year analytics was the second highest in demand, with an increase of 64.46% - this trend will continue in 2014 & 2015, also driven by higher spendings on intent & retargeting. Understanding targeting and allocating budgets towards activities reaching predefined target groups will be key for successful marketing. 

Trend 4: Marketing Automation
According to ExactTarget Marketing Automation tops the list for where most Marketers plan to increase budgets in 2014. If you are interested in learning more about Marketing Automation and why it does not necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg, check out my previous article on automation and growth hacking.
Another great resource that does a fantastic job explaining everything you need to know about automation before making the financial commitment is Hubspot’s great learning guide, and I strongly encourage you to read it; even if you aren't planning on adding it to your mix of tools this year.

Trend 5: Trending Social Media Channels
Facebook is still the social network of choice for most internet users, but many suggest it has reached or passed its peak usage from the younger demographic. However Facebook continues to have the highest frequency of site use with 63% daily visits. (Source: PEW Research Center) Let’s also not forget that Facebook offers the highest volume among all networks. In 2014 it will be all about knowing where to reach your audience. When looking through most of the research, one thing in particular caught my eye - people forget about LinkedIn and YouTube. LinkedIn (and Google+) drives the highest quality traffic. (see Shareaholics latest research below) YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, but also a social network with great tools to engage the audience. (most articles and research do not feature YouTube as social network) 

Post Click Engagement on different social media channels

Trend 6: Responsive Design & location based services
According to IDC sales of tablets will outperform laptops and PC’s in the last quarter of 2014. Based on that fact the need for responsive design will continue to increase. By now we know that location based services convert and it will be interesting to follow location based services such as Foursquare or Momentfeed over the course of this year.

I personally thought +Michael Stelzner hit the nail on the head with his view on marketing trends:

“A little bit of selling here and there is great, but those marketers who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, are gonna get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by consumers and prospects. Get cracking folks, it’s time to actually care. That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track, like answering customer questions and providing more value online.”

I am certain there are other developments some of you would like to see featured in this article. If so, please leave a short comment or shoot me a tweet @global_trend. This article will be featured on LinkedIn, feel free to follow & connect! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Growth Hacking, Marketing Automation and Lead Scoring - Customized!

[Marketing Automation] has been one of the buzz terms & topics in 2013. Without looking at real stats it might have been outranked by [Growth Hacking] recently. Here is the connection - you can't be a growth hacker, even if self proclaimed, without knowing about marketing automation and why there has been so much talk about it recently. I am contacted by companies/headhunters looking for help with marketing automation on a weekly basis, which shows me that companies like Hubspot, Silverpop or Marketo have hit a goldmine by focusing their efforts on positioning themselves as the leaders in this area. 

Growth Hacking & Marketing Automation

I have worked with both services and they are great. On top of that Hubspot's marketing is amazing, proven by all of us using the term "inbound marketing" (a word creation by Hubspot). They are also doing a lot to incentivize their target group to make sure they spread the word. Or why is it that many of us now have an "inbound marketing certificate" issued by Hubspot  (including myself) and are suggesting Hubspot as the tool to use?  Here is the catch - working with these services can get quite expensive, especially if A) your database is big or B) growing fast. 

There is no question that marketing automation is the way to go, but neither does it have to be expensive, nor via the use of leading platforms. 
For all readers who are not sure why there is no question, please check out the many case studies on the subject including companies like Sony, Panasonic, Intel or Chrysler. 
When using all-in-one marketing solutions you are clearly also paying for features such as social listening tools, blog/website builder and email marketing. One would argue that all these features are needed in order to monitor inbound marketing workflows or create effective lead scoring, but that is not the case and I will explain in the following.

Take these 3 simple steps to analyze if and what type of marketing automation you need:

1. Analyze your business size and existing workflows.
SMB's might not always need a fancy lead scoring system or complicated, automated workflows including webhooks, social media or email. There are many, less-expensive alternatives (see below 2.) and aligning them with existing email solutions will do the job.
Larger companies often have internal tools and effective workflows in place, which brings us to the next step.

2. Look into existing tools first, before paying twice when signing up for all-in-one marketing solutions.
What are you already using and how is it working? Keep successful tools, especially the ones offering flexible options to sync with other platforms. If you have manually built internal solutions, make sure they are not outdated and compatible with other tools. 
For startups I can recommend tools like Zapier to automate workflows around certain events. Zapier lets you create promotional workflows around events such as upload of a video on YouTube. I am choosing the YouTube example since getting eyes on videos within a short timeframe is crucial for SEO. Zapier helps you to automate all promotional activities around the upload such as posts on all social media channels (you can even trigger these promos by certain keywords in the video's description) in order to boost engagement for your video, resulting in higher search rankings. 

Automating trigger workflows on Zapier

Interesting for startup founders with existing social media reach - you can use Zapier to sync all your databases and create workflows to get in touch with people you connect. (e.g. automated email after connecting via social media channel) 

If you need more than workflows and would like to analyze click-paths, funnels and send notifications based on user behavior, I recommend looking into Mixpanel. Mixpanel covers many of the tools you would find in solutions like Hubspot, Marketo or Silverpop, however it does not offer landing page creation, smart lists and their lead scoring system works differently (scoring can be assigned to people properties) Its a great tool and allows to sync with CRM's, Salesforce, etc. 

Mixpanel Event Analytics

3. Coordinate with your developers & sales team
Talk to your developers and find out where they stand on aligning internal tools with third party software. Check how much time they would need to invest to build additional solutions and whether it would be worth it. Finally make a decision on third party tools you could use in order to optimize workflows and automation.
Also talk to your sales team to find out how to synch internal CRM or other sales tools such as Salesforce with SMART lists, lead scoring or people properties for event tracking.

Follow these steps in order to build automation for less $, optimize workflows and increase conversions.

If you liked this article click here to Tweet the following: Take these 3 simple steps to analyze if and what type of marketing automation you need
What are your experiences with marketing automation? Are there other tools you can recommend? If so, please leave a comment or tweet @global_trend

Friday, January 10, 2014

Optimizing Social Media Reach with Celebrities

Using celebrities, bloggers or people with high social reach in ad/marketing campaigns is a no brainer for brands. However many brands expect that the reach of a celebrity's brand will do the job and there is no further strategy needed.  This no-strategy strategy to only works for brands with either money to burn (please PM me) or strong enough brand awareness to create buzz via their own channels.

I admit that +Angelina Jolie as Goodwill Ambassador or +David Bowie  might get the job done without much support. But who can afford them? 

In case you decide to work with celebrities, make sure they are social media savvy or at least have a good community manager/agency. 
I recently had the pleasure to connect TV host & model +Andrea Rincon to one of my clients, - lingerie brand Felina. Her manager and herself are extremely social media savvy, which makes working with them super-easy and pleasant. The question was really how we would engage with her close to 2 million Facebook fans and hundreds of thousands followers on other profiles. 

Andrea Rincon for Felina - Social Media Promotion

With the latest changes of making pins available to image search made by major engines (e.g. Bing) and Andrea's looks it was clear that we need to stay on the visual side in order to create engagement. We decided to optimize search results and social media engagement on via Pin-to-Win contest, well knowing that Pinterest is generating the highest AOV's of all social networks. Steps of our campaign included engaging fans across different platforms including Facebook via set-up of customized visuals including fangate page, entry page, post entry page & share dialog popup to spread the word. 
In order to follow up and drive conversions we generated coupon codes targeting the mainly male audience on Andrea's fanpage. To make a long story short my client's traffic increased 718% on the first day and stayed up at an average of around +380% the weeks during we promoted the contest. 

The big difference to standard campaigns was that we looked into how we can use her assets and popularity to create a number of campaigns to generate interest, engage her followers and fans, create SEO benefits for our brands and ultimately drive conversions.
For more case studies and best practice digital marketing examples, join our page on Facebook - TREND WATCHING. If you have questions or examples of good social media promotions, make sure to leave a comment or shoot me a message on Twitter @global_trend. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to evolve from SEO to OAO (online audience optimization)

SEO is dead. Long live OAO!
A lot has happened in the digital marketing world during the past few month. With the many changes made by Google such as restricting keyword data or change in algorithm (still not sure why they had to call it hummingbird - I used to like these birds!) SEO has become a moving target.

"SEO is dead. Long live OAO!" 

All that talk and these smart quotes (see my contribution above) make digital marketers nervous. The big question everyone seems to have is: Why OAO and what do I have to change?

Please excuse my irony above, but I do not believe SEO is dead. OAO is a great new term and an amazing opportunity for lot of marketers to add another skill to their resume. However a term to explain a more holistic approach makes sense in some ways. Think about OAO as the main category, SEO as the sub-vertical. Such as in footwear being the sub-vertical of the entire fashion industry.

Comparing to SEO, OAO is less keyword and more content focused. It provides instructions for effective ways on using social media, mobile applications, website design and content in a way that is attractive to users (and not just search engines). Inbound marketing and content strategies were basically already using OAO - without having that fancy term to brand their efforts with.
Engagement is another criteria by which we can differentiate. OAO goes beyond SEO and helps to maximize engagement, ideally enticing users to return to your site.

Which leads us to the next question: How can I optimize via OAO?
Consistency throughout content and across platforms including social media is key for good OAO results. The more you are able to segment and personalize your content, the better your rankings (and other engagement-based metrics) will be. According to a recent study conducted by Invesp Consulting 59% of online shoppers believe it is easier to find services on personalized sites (keyword: SMART content) However my main advice on OAO is not technical and simpler than you might think - work with marketing personas and make sure to understand your online audience, then generate content relevant to each persona.

Do you have experience with effective, new OAO methods? Where do you see the main difference to classic SEO strategies? As always, please share your wisdom below in our comments or shoot me a tweet @global_trend.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

5 Lessons for Creating Successful Social Ads

We are getting closer to the holiday madness and the days every online shopper is waiting for. Black Friday + Cyber Monday. Picture the images of people fighting to get into department stores first each year, then think of marketers in front of their computers bidding & increasing ad spend.
You get the picture - same madness, same competition. Only you can make sure to be smarter by following a couple of rules.

Black Friday - it's competitive! 

Find out what is working for your industry - paid campaigns via AdWords or Social Media? Or both?
Many users tend to try out social ads (e.g. Facebook) and drop them after a very short time assuming they do not perform well. In most cases this happens due to mistakes in setting up these ads:

  • Many times paid media has been in place, before trying out social ads. When social ads do not perform as well they are dropped fast, without checking what makes them underperform. Clearly older paid media (e.g. AdWords) has been optimized and therefore creates better CTR's & CPA's. Lesson #1 - give it time and optimize campaigns before comparing.
  • Create ads with different images for your campaigns and wait a week or so before checking which perform better. Use the same bids. Basically like A/B testing with the only difference that you can use different copy and test simultaneously. Lesson #2 - use different images over a defined period of time

Ad Bidding Increase
  • Create the same goals for your social ads. If you are comparing branding ads to direct response you are comparing apples & oranges. And end up with lemons. Make sure you have your ads on conversions (use the Facebook Power Editor option) and compare once you reached representable traffic numbers. Lesson #3 - create the same goals for campaigns you would like to compare
  • Cost always looks high in the days/weeks after setting up new campaigns. For the ones who slept during math class - cost (e.g. per conversion) builds up until first conversions are reached with a critical mass. On the way ads need to be optimized for the ones not performing (keywords, images, copy, etc.) Lesson #4 - don't panic - optimize! 
  • Don't check your conversions/website clicks via Google Analytics - the numbers might be lower due to secure browsing, which is not captured by GA. Use the analytics per social media site (e.g. Pinterest Analytics, Facebook Insights) Lesson #5 - use the right analytics for your monitoring!
Join me for more digital strategies on Google+ and Twitter @global_trend and let me know what your strategy for this years holiday season is? Have you used bidding strategies that worked particularly well for you in the past - if so, please leave a comment! 
Happy Holidays! Oh and yes, #dont #overuse #hashtags, #please! #fashion #digitalmarketing #socialads #facebookads #ecommercemarketing

Friday, October 11, 2013

Social Media Strategy for Fashion Retail Sites

There are many ways to drive traffic to fashion retail sites. Affiliate marketing, paid search, email or intent & search retargeting just to name a few. With many changes by search engines (I guess we can not label Hummingbird a keyword in this context) and new developments in intent & search retargeting there has been a lot of discussion about the most effective digital strategies.
However I still believe in the high ROI potential of social media marketing. I know, I know - it has to be a combination. But this is just a comparison and statistics showing viral effects make a clear statement for good social media strategies.
At the same time there are many variations of social media strategy and the big question is not about whether to implement, but how and which channels to use?

1. Which social media channels are effective for driving traffic to fashion retail sites?
Facebook drives the major share of shopping sessions, while newcomer Pinterest has a surprisingly large share and is driving more traffic than Twitter.

Traffic driven to fashion retail sites by Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter

2. Which channels drive higher AOV's?
Pinterest users spend have a higher purchasing power than any other user coming from social media. AOV's are higher by a healthy margin. What else is there to say, but "pin it to win it"? (contact me via Skype or email for more information on how to implement a good Pinterest strategy or join my LinkedIn group "Pinterest International"!)

AOV on fashion E-commerce sites by social media channel
3. Which social network generates high conversions or even same-session conversion rates?
Facebook is still leading here, but it looks like Pinterest will take over at some point in the future, considering their increasing rates in 2012 & 2013.

Conversion rates driven by Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest

*Also the highest revenue generated per source has been shifting from Facebook to Pinterest over the past 6 month.

5. Latest developments and forecast:
New features such as rich pins & article pins and sponsored pins will ultimately make Pinterest a valuable part of every marketing strategy. Also from a SEO perspective Pinterest is gaining ground - Bing's latest decision to include pins into image search will potentially increase AOV and engage users to implement Pinterest into their SEO strategy.

6. Stats to consider & bottom line:
A few stats to consider when creating marketing strategy:

  • Facebook drives 86% of social retail sales, Pinterest 11%, Twitter 3%
  • Visitors to ecommerce sites coming from Facebook view an average of 7pages / session vs. 4.1 Pinterest, 2.7 Twitter
  • Revenue / Visitor averages $2.50 for FB traffic, $1.6 for Pinterest, $0.80 for Twitter
  • Ecommerce AOV from Pinterest referrals is $169 vs. $95 FB, $71 Twitter

The bottom line and my advice is: be on top of all changes search engines are making currently and follow Pinterest's development over the next couple of month. If you have to prioritize du to lack of community management manpower, make sure to work with Facebook and Pinterest.

For more information on digital marketing, check out my marketing services here and join me on Twitter @global_trend!

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to use A/B testing for your next marketing campaign

A/B and multivariate testing are not just trends anymore, but proven tools to gain knowledge about visitor behavior and increase conversions. Yet they are not as common as the popular online marketing subjects SEM, SEO or social media. One of the reasons may be a lack of strategy behind A/B testing, resulting in misleading variations, statistics and ultimately a waste of yours and the especially your designer's time.
This article is meant to give advice on the how to effectively implement A/B testing.

Depending on your strategy and goals, there are several different elements you should consider testing. If your primary goal is to increase the number of sign-ups, you might test elements such as length of sign-up form, number of fields in the form or display of privacy policy. Some of the elements to consider for A/B testing include: 
  • Size, wording, color or placement of CTA's
  • Visual ID and branding elements on landing and product pages (creating a high recognition value for users) 
  • Amount of text on page
  • Pricing and offers
  • Headlines and descriptive text 
Depending on strategy or degree of branded elements (logos, etc.), there may be many more.
Landing page elements to consider for A/B testing
Pretty cool and simple so far, right? 
Well, there are a couple of mistakes I would like you to avoid when creating your next A/B test. 
I highly recommend not surprising your regular and always returning users with variations of core parts of your site. Think about it - you might not even use them at the end of the day, so why bother your power-users? Also make sure to keep design-elements such as buttons consistent across your site. Meaning if you are testing a red CTA button with a new font, which appears on multiple locations across your site, make sure to show the same variation everywhere. 
Consider these when creating A/B tests

+Tim Ferriss (author of the 4 hour work week) showed how important small details can be when testing variations. By simply reducing the options he gave visitors on his diet and exercise platform Daily Burn, he was able to increase conversion by 20%.
One of my recent clients experiences an increase of 83% in landing page sign-ups after implementing images with a high-recognition value (don't include logo's or trademarks here)
At this point you might ask about multivariate testing and despite the fact that it is a time consuming activity, it is an option to consider. For a fist glimpse of the difference between multivariate and A/B testing, see below.

Difference Multivariate & A/B Testing

What is your experience with A/B vs. multivariate testing? Which strategy do you prefer?
Make sure to leave a comment or tweet @global_trend! And please stay tuned for more about multivariate testing in my next post.