Author: Anna

15 Creative Lead Generation Ideas to Try

The whole lead generation process is tough — especially when you only rely on traditional methods. Sending cold emails and scraping together lists can be incredibly demoralizing because, let’s face it — most of those people don’t really want to talk to you.

What if you could still reach your lead generation goals using methods that actually add value for your prospects?

This utopia of lead generation is, in fact, a possibility. To walk you through some of the different options, we’ve detailed several examples of modern lead generation methods below. These ideas provide valuable information to prospects that helps them instead of pushing them to buy from your brand.

How to Generate Leads: 15 Tried-and-True Lead Generation Ideas

1) Collect and share success secrets from thought leaders.

Want to provide unique value in your content? Start by reaching out to a thought leader in your industry. By interviewing an expert to uncover their secrets, you prove to potential customers that you’re dedicated to delivering the best advice out there.

Help videos can solve a real problem for potential customers in a format that’s both entertaining and easily digestible.

3) Create a quiz.

Offer a quiz to your website visitors as a creative way to learn more about them and obtain their contact information. The goal is to “bargain” the result of the quiz in return for a new lead, which can be very effective when done right.

4) Provide best practices for a challenging tactic.

When you explore a marketing tactic in a blog post or ebook, you want to know what others are doing to have success with the same method. Compiling those best practices into a list is incredibly useful to the marketer looking to get started in a particular arena.

5) Show what’s working for you.

Writing a transparent post that pulls back the curtain on something you’ve seen success (or failure) with can prove interesting to potential leads. Other companies going through a similar stage of growth — or approaching your size — can gain a lot of inspiration from posts like this, and ultimately avoid making the same mistakes.

6) Create a useful spreadsheet.

Compiling a spreadsheet of resources takes forever, so if someone else does it for you, it’s easy to see the value.

7) Offer a deep-dive answer for a tough question.

You can find the answer to any question you might have on the internet. But how many really good answers are out there? Taking the time to create an in-depth, step-by-step article that answers a burning question for your prospect serves as an opportunity to generate a lead. After all, the company that provides the best answer will often get your business, right?

8) Create a worksheet that simplifies a process.

There are tasks in every business that are best suited by a worksheet. For example, a software company might use a worksheet to formulate a marketing strategy. By providing a simple worksheet for people to fill out — and trading that worksheet for an opt-in — you can create a mutually positive relationship with prospects.

9) Create a list of useful tools.

It’s easy to brag about the tools your company offers, but when you take the initiative and explore other helpful tools your audience could be using, it proves that you prioritize their success over your own self-promotion.

10) Compile examples for people to learn from.

Finding effective examples to learn from can be extremely valuable, but also very difficult. A list of best practices in your industry is an excellent way to drive prospects to your domain where they can opt-in.

11) Create a valuable email course.

A well-developed email course is like gaining access to a real class — for free. For busy marketers, this type of offer can prove to be really valuable.

12) Host a giveaway.

Giveaways are one of the most successful forms of lead generation. However, a giveaway can also lead to a bunch of junk leads and waste your time if not done in a logical way. The trick? Make sure what you’re giving away is something people actually want.

13) Create a template to simplify an everyday process.

There are certain templates you use everyday in business — employee schedule, content calendar, market research sheets — that can be a pain to build yourself.

As a marketer looking for lead generation ideas, creating those templates for your customers is the perfect way to begin a strong relationship that can end in the prospect actually buying your product or service.

14) Offer a free trial.

Free trials of a brand’s services help get a prospect’s foot halfway through the door. If the trial helps them and provides great value, they’re more likely to purchase the full product and become a customer. Touchless buying is popular among prospects who want to stay online and off the phone. By creating a free trial, a brand’s site can do its own selling and encourage buying in a low-pressure way.

15) Make a checklist.

Who doesn’t have a running to-do list that sometimes gets a little bit too long? If someone runs a content marketing strategy, you can be sure there’s a lot that goes into it. Neil Patel created a handy checklist that marketers can download and use for easy reference at work every day.

Whichever lead generation strategy you experiment with next, make sure the content is useful to your audience so they’ll return to your website again in the future.

By Josh Haynam | hubspot.com

5 Crazy Advantages of an Inbound Website Redesign

Let me ask: What are some of the biggest problems you’re having with your website?

Here are some we hear often:

– The design gets outdated so quickly, and we don’t have the resources to update it every 1-2 years.
– I have trouble demonstrating ROI from my website and tracking meaningful analytics.
– I want to make improvements, but don’t have the skills.
– My website isn’t really benefiting my marketing/lead generation strategy.

What if I told you that there’s a new website model that solves all these problems?

We call it an “inbound website,” and it’s a great partner to an inbound marketing strategy.
Your website must now be an online sales platform for your business — an integral part of marketing to prospects. If your website isn’t selling around the clock, you’re missing out on leads and revenue.

The inbound website is a new way to think about your online presence.

Here’s how it works:

Your inbound strategy and marketing funnel are baked right into your website.
You have a dedicated web team (in-house or hired) that monitors performance and makes changes monthly.
You typically host on a platform that makes growth-driven design easy.

Here’s are the advantages of an inbound website redesign:

1) You’ll drive conversions by creating a 24/7 marketing funnel.
Oftentimes marketers think about a website as a piece of a marketing strategy.

But starting right now, don’t think about your marketing strategy and your website as two different things.

They’re entwined. Your website is the hub for your marketing and sales strategy — a complete lead generation platform, with marketing strategy baked right in.

How does that work?

Think about how your marketing funnel works with the inbound equation. You have different elements and assets to attract, convert, close, and delight customers.

Your inbound marketing strategy should be the driving force for your website — and should dictate your website’s organization and user pathways.

Your inbound website funnel should include:

A blog and search-engine-optimized pages to attract site visitors at the top of your funnel.
Corresponding conversion elements, like landing pages and calls-to-action, to help convert visitors into leads.
Forms and other tools to gather lead intel, so you can better nurture leads and eventually close them into customers.
Personalization and smart content that tailors your website to customers, helping to delight
When you start on your inbound website redesign, you don’t just think about aesthetics — you consider functionality, too. Ideally, you’ll redesign your site’s entire structure in accordance with the inbound methodology.

A visit to your website isn’t random. It’s the first step on a pathway towards conversion. Each click should be logical and clearly defined — One page leads to the next, as you move users further down the journey.

2) You’ll generate leads by showing up earlier in the buying cycle.

Did you know that buyers complete more than half of the buyer’s journey before talking to sales?

This means that your buyers are already researching and deciding on solutions long before a sales call.

The most successful companies are present in the first half of this journey — their websites help educate buyers throughout the sales cycle.

Is your website up to the task?

With a traditional website, you may publish basic information about your services. Then, you wait for website visitors to visit “Contact Us” and place a call.

It’s a far stretch from website visitor to final customer, and your website experience doesn’t nurture the gap in between. (Think of a large ravine. Now imagine that you’re expecting people to jump over that ravine to purchase from you. An inbound website model builds the bridge in between.)

With an inbound website, you nurture leads gradually, from first touch to final purchase.

Your website is paved with content for the buyer’s journey… AKA, those three stages that buyers take before purchasing a product.

Awareness — Person is aware they have a problem, and they’re looking to identify and understand it.
Consideration — Person becomes aware of potential solutions (including your product or service!) They actively seek to understand these solutions better.
Decision — Person is fully bought in to the solution, and is now deciding where, when, and how to purchase.
Do you see how your website content has a chance to address all three stages?

By hosting content throughout the buyer’s journey on your website, you write the narrative of first how and then why your solution is best for person’s problem.

That makes you present for that “zero moment of truth,” the critical moment when people are researching and deciding on where (and how) to purchase.

Without such a content strategy, your business will have a hard time generating leads online and driving sales.

3) You’ll see steady improvement in performance and design.

Are you redesigning your website every few years to keep with current trends? What happens in between redesigns?

Chances are, if your website isn’t improving all the time, it’s missing out on leads and sales.

That’s the genius of a growth-driven design — a fundamental part of the inbound website model.

You wouldn’t ignore your marketing for a year, let alone a month… so you shouldn’t let your website gather dust, either.

Instead of yearly redesigns, you invest in monthly changes to your website design and strategy.

Here’s how it works in a cycle:

Your web team (or an agency) will set or revise SMART goals to pinpoint certain metrics of value to your business.
They will analyze data on your website performance. They’ll monitor things like content conversion, button clicks, popups, design organization, landing pages, and the purchase path as a whole. They can use tools like Hotjar, implement user testing, and watch performance in Google Analytics or your CMS.
Then, they’ll make frequent improvements reacting to the data — ideally, on a monthly basis. Then, repeat with step 1!
Marketers love this model, because they’re always aware of how a website is performing. (Now I can’t imagine going a day without knowing how my website is doing!)

You’re not waiting for the next redesign to roll around to make improvements and fix problem areas… you’re proactively committing to your website’s success.

The result? Your website is constantly showing its best face to buyers.

It’s converting at a higher rate and growing. You can head back to the C-suite to brag about your great ROI!

4) You trade one-time cost for long-term value (and prove ROI).
When you think about a website redesign, you might be planning the appearance of your website.

But what about the functionality? What about lead generation potential, and conversion opportunities?

Many businesses use periodic website redesigns to keep their websites up-to-date — and they focus mainly on aesthetics.

This can get costly for several reasons:

You go into a redesign without much strategy, so you inject money without promise of ROI.
Redesigns can (and often do) go over budget and take longer than planned.
In between redesigns, your website isn’t growing and improving — meaning your investment only generates return as long as that strategy is relevant.
With an inbound website, you don’t need to cram all of your strategy for the year into one redesign — you’re constantly improving.

You can generate more value by investing month-to-month in incremental changes, instead of one big website redesign cost up-front.

There’s also immense value in being able to prove ROI: According to the 2016 State of Inbound report, organizations that can calculate ROI are 1.6X as likely to receive higher budgets.

With an inbound website model, you’ll always be monitoring data, so you’re aware of how your site’s performing — and proving that your changes are having an impact.

5) You’ll qualify contacts with smart content and baked-in lifecycle strategy.

It’s simple: Better educated leads have more trust in your solutions, and make more confident investments.

What does your lead nurturing process look like now?

For many marketers, it’s either manual and cumbersome, or nonexistent.

Are you manually moving people in and out of different lists, emails, and processes — trying to figure out where the heck they are in the buying process so you can tailor to them?

Or, are you not nurturing leads at all, and applying a wide umbrella experience to everyone?

Either situation is a mess… and leaves business leads on the table.

When an inbound website is set up correctly, though, it creates a complete lead nurturing process automatically.

This makes qualifying leads a snap.

With clear pathways for the buyer’s journey baked into your website, you’ll have an idea of where people fall in your sales cycle based on which pages they visit, which offers they’ve downloaded, and which forms they’ve filled out.

You’re not piecing together different actions to try and understand intent — you’ve set up a complete customer lifecycle with your website content.

Source: by Kayli Kunkel (www.hubspot.com)

4 Smart Ways to Keep Up With Google in 2017

Over the past few years, Google has made a lot of changes that can be challenging for modern marketers and SEO experts to keep up with.

Recently, Google started indexing according to mobile search results, cracked down on intrusive pop-up ads, and removed right-side ads. What do all of these changes have in common?
Google has been making changes to its algorithm, search engine results pages, and policies based on user behavior and preference. They’re observing what users are doing and making the search engine work more intuitively for them. This is great for the frequent Google searchers in all of us — Google processes more than 2 trillion searches per year — but it can make it challenging to adapt your strategy and achieve your SEO goals.

4 Ways Marketers Can Strengthen Their SEO Strategy in 2017

1) Diversify your traffic sources to keep earning visits from Google.

Fishkin encourages a distributed content strategy designed to help you earn traffic from a variety of different sources. This approach ensures that your traffic numbers aren’t entirely contingent on people directly searching for your brand name.

Video marketing is an engaging content format that can diversify traffic. For example, Moz videos are published on Wistia first, then on YouTube. This multi-channel strategy allows them to generate traffic from different sources. In the same vein, written content can be published on blogs, LinkedIn Pulse, and Medium publications. However, it’s important to tailor your content to different audiences where they consume content, whether it’s on social media or YouTube or guest posts on other blogs, to keep earning traffic and links from a variety of sources in Google search.

2) Evolve your keyword targeting strategy.

There are many new elements on Google search engine results pages (SERPs) that make it harder to generate clicks. Changing your keyword targeting strategy so your content is better geared toward the changing ways people are searching on Google. Use keyword research tools such as Google AdWords and HubSpot’s Keywords App to determine the long-tail, conversational keywords your audience is searching for. Then, plan a blog post strategy based around topic clusters so your website is more likely to rank higher in Google search results.

3) Invest in a link building strategy that can scale.

Inbound links pointing toward your website give it massive levels of authority in search engines, so link building is still an integral part of your inbound marketing strategy. Fisher says that, in order for link building to be successful, you need several elements: link goals, a strategic approach to achieving them, tactical initiatives, and metrics to track. Link building takes a long time to show results, so there is usually a significant time gap between when you start experimenting and conducting initiatives and when you see the benefits of your efforts.

For that reason, SEO marketers need to balance their efforts between long-term investments and short-term hacks so you’re constantly generating links while investing in the future health of your site’s inbound link generation. You’ll want to make sure that these approaches are white hat link building tactics that offer a benefit to your site and sites linking to you, and not spammy tactics that can hurt your site.

4) Increase searcher engagement with your content.

With the introduction of RankBrain, Google’s new machine-learning algorithm that helps determine search engine rankings, how the searcher interacts with Google is now being weighed as one of hundreds of ranking signals. While Google is still figuring out how RankBrain operates themselves, but metrics such as clickthrough rate and time on-page already contribute to how high (or low) your site ranks in Google.

Here are strategies to think about in order to amp up your site if RankBrain starts to play a greater role in SEO:

– Think about all of the questions your audience is searching for answers to, and not just individual keywords.
– Prioritize user experience and consider amplifying or redesigning your website so that it answers multiple search queries and visitors will stay on your site for longer.
– Design your website so that it delivers content quickly and beautifully across multiple devices.
– Remove features like pop-up ads that discourage users from reading or returning to your page.
– Most importantly, invest time and resources in publishing authoritative, comprehensive content that your audience will read and share again and again.

What’s Ahead in Search

We already know that Google has changed a lot this year, and will most likely keep changing in the next year, so it’s important to get a plan in motion now for search engine optimization and link building strategies to propel your site’s growth.

Source: By Sophia Bernazzani (www.hubspot.com)

How to Build Your Marketing Dream Team

What are the essential skills needed for any modern, digital marketing team? Getting straight to the point, these six skills have become the most important in modern day marketing and agencies who do not keep up with these trends will fall behind:

1 – Copywriting
2 – Data analysis
3 – Coding
4 – SEO
5 – Graphic Design
6 – Social Media

1. Copywriting
The number one skill a modern marketer needs to master is copywriting. As Roetzer notes in his book, “the ability to write persuasive copy for all marketing channels is possibly the most important fundamental modern-marketing skill.” In other words, content marketing has become a key business strategy in 2016 and will continue to be so in 2017. Why is content marketing so important then?

Due to increasing “marketing clutter,” the impact of traditional marketing channels (e.g. magazines, radio, television, billboards) is continuously being diluted. Content marketing can resonate powerfully with your customers, being tailor-made to their needs and interests. It is a vehicle with which you can communicate your brand identity and subject-matter expertise, without being overtly (and sometimes irritatingly) promotional. As reported by one study, 70 percent of consumers prefer to learn about companies through articles instead of advertising.

Today’s consumers browse the web in search of valuable information and have built up a certain resistance to the “hard-sell.” More specifically, people want to read quality content that helps them make good decisions.

Content marketing is also imperative for your website’s SERPs (search engine results pages) and online ranking. Publishing new and original content, as well as updating existing content on your website, will boost your presence on search engines. In turn, more customers will land on your site in their online search for a solution.

2. Data analysis
Modern marketers must have strong analytical skills in order to interpret and implement marketing data. As a marketer, you need to be able to measure the impact of blog posts, social media campaigns and email marketing campaigns. To do so, you need to be skilled in the use of marketing tools, such as marketing automation software, analytics tools, social listening platforms and spreadsheet software. If you know how to interpret the data, you will be able to map out actionable steps to improve your agency’s strategies and drive bottom-line growth.

3. Coding
Coding is third on the list of modern marketing skills. I think many of you will agree that “coding” has an intimidating ring to it. Yet coding is the foundation of any website, app or email that goes out to your clients.

But don’t worry, you do not have to be an expert programmer to be a good digital marketer. You do, however, need to have a basic understanding of coding, as it will help you comprehend what the technologically limits are when crafting marketing campaigns. By understanding the basics of coding, you can get inspired and create the next innovative campaign.

4. Graphic design
Complementing the fundamental copy is the visual. Telling a story needs to be a combination of both textual and visual creativity. Graphic design skills are critical in a modern marketing team, as this can enhance any piece of written content and increase its shareability. There is no single formula for what makes content go viral, but visual storytelling is definitely part of the equation.

5. SEO
As mentioned earlier, SEO strategies are closely related to content marketing. The search landscape has evolved tremendously over the past 10 years, completely changing the way one should go about search engine optimization. The most important thing to know is that SEO is now equally about link building and keyword optimization, as it is about creating content that users love and want to share. Above all, marketers need to hone in on providing value, answering questions and delivering quality content.

6. Social Media
Hand in hand with modern marketing comes social engagement. Social media is more than a marketing channel dedicated to sharing content, it is crucial in increasing brand awareness, building brand loyalty, bringing in new customers and connecting with current ones. A modern marketer should be capable of recognizing the social media networks most pertinent to their target audience and use these to organically communicate with them.

Recruiting your dream team
Now that you know who and what you need on your marketing team, how do you find this marketing talent? Here is what industry professionals say on the matter:

“A marketing talent war has begun for tech-savvy, hybrid marketers who are capable of building, managing and executing fully integrated campaigns that produce measurable results … They are agile, adept at advanced marketing technologies and experts at inbound strategy.” — Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of PR 20/20

Marketers now must, at the surface level, be able to master two sides of the same coin: First there is a rigorous focus on back to basics – connecting with customers, product/market fit, brand building and customer development. But, on the other hand, marketing has evolved into an analytically driven discipline. You have to be a brand marketer, but you also have to be a data scientist and fully weave together these mindsets before deploying any new tool, tactic or technology.

While traditionally marketers were hired from the pool of business/marketing/communications graduates, companies should start looking towards building a more diverse team. By hiring people with a background in journalism, media production or English, for example, you can create a team with a diversified skillset. On a more practical note, you can follow Percolate’s three steps for employing your dream team of hybrid marketers (Hint: the key is to train and retrain).

Conclusion
The roles and skills outlined in this article are essential to surviving and thriving in modern marketing. If you haven’t done so yet, 2017 is the year to build your marketing team into a digital dream team. As for marketers, now is the time to adopt and evolve so you can stay relevant and reach your maximum potential.

Source: by KIMBERLY DE SILVA (www.entrepreneur.com)

Communicating Startup Story With Data

Startups are great for doing things a little differently. They have the freedom to not just break the mold, but redesign it completely, and that’s always exciting. But when 90% of startups fail, there are some tried-and-testing techniques that are essential to help their chances for success.

A big key to success is simply getting your brand out there. To do this, you need to have a visual style that you use and develop with you as you grow. If you get your branding right from day one, your bank account and new team members will thank you.

Data visualization is great for developing your brand. Being able to communicate your story in a visual way will help people understand what you do much more easily.

Here are just a few ideas of how data viz can help with your branding:

1. Making your decks look phenomenal There’s something really impressive about well-designed presentations, probably because they’re usually something that’s not been cobbled together on PowerPoint an hour before a talk. Data visualization is great for investment pitches and helping people understand your brand. The visual element means you’re twice as likely to be more persuasive than startups with no visuals in their decks. When your data is presented beautifully and clearly your audience will understand you more and will be much more likely to remember your brand.

2. Designing ultra-sharable content Studies show that people are more likely to click on a link if it includes an infographic. 45% of web users will click on a link if it features an infographic, leading to a 12% increase in web traffic. More clicks = more brand awareness, it’s that simple.

3. Creating memorable product/service videos A motion graphic is a great way to explain what your company does and the products / services you offer simply and effectively. You can really make the most of those branded visuals and style you’ve created in videos. This is one we created for ourselves, which shows just how powerful a branded product video can be.

Source: by CARLA SALIBA (www.entrepreneur.com)

5 Serious Business Books to Read Over the Holidays

With the holiday season upon us, there is no better time to relax, unwind and pick up a good book. If you are looking for some book suggestions that aren’t just entertaining, but that can actually teach you a thing or two, here are some of the best business books to consider reading over the holidays. These books can give you some valuable lessons that you can utilize as you start 2017 off on the right foot.

1.Tools of Titans
This book by Tim Ferris a great read if you are looking for a book with straightforward tips that you can start utilizing. This book is also filled with different insights on habit forming and what habits today’s most successful titans have. This book is a great read and extraordinarily comprehensive.

2. Ten Restaurants That Changed America
This book takes a detailed look at different businesses that both succeeded and failed and why they succeeded and failed. This is an easy and entertaining read that looks at the importance of capitalizing on changing trends in order to stay relevant in the market.

3. The Richest Man in Town
This book by Randal Jones, the founder of Worth magazine, details his “twelve commandments of wealth.” It is super straightforward and talks about the different habits he has and how they have helped him create a great deal of success. If you want to hear first hand from a very wealthy individual what it takes in order to build that wealth, this the book for you.

4. Only the Paranoid Survive.
This book is filled with amazing insights on the success of Intel and how this company became such a force in today’s market. It also talks about the company’s potential mishaps along the way. This book is so entertaining because it takes just as much time teaching from failures as it does from successes.

5. The Hard Thing About Hard Things
If you want a book that is more focused on management techniques, then this is the book for you. This book is raw and straightforward as it talks about all of the hard, dirty and non-glamorous parts of starting and running a business. The author, Ben Horowitz, is the co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz and he takes a very brutally honest approach to detailing what it takes to run, sell and manage a company. His voice makes this book very fun to read and very applicable to other professional situations.

Keep these business books in mind as you look for your next holiday read. You never know what the right book can help you learn and just how much it can change your life.

www.entrepreneur.com

Differences between web design and web development

“Web Design” and “Web development” are compatible terms, but they really do very different meaning. If you want to establish a new project or a new website, you need to know the difference between these 2 terms.

WEB DESIGN:

It is the most common term used by professional web designers. It is all about the process of creating website which includes planning, analyzing, designing and updating. It also embraces the navigation process, colors, fonts, icon design, and photography.

Web designers are architects of the web. A good web designer must know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript etc. They are well focused on the looks of the website. They utilize their creativity, intuitive, and imagination to design an amazing website.

Web Designer:
1) Focus on the gaze of the website
2) Uses HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript
3) Proficient in color scheming, graphic design, and information
4) Create an immense user occurrence
5) Right brained: inventiveness, instinct, and imagination

Web Development:

It refers to the tasks associated with developing websites for hosting via the internet. Web development includes web design, web content development. It includes building, creating, and maintaining websites.
Web Developers are more into technical nature. They have an extreme problem-solving knowledge and generally good at math. A developer writes the coding using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, and SQL. Web developers are the technical expert with programming.

Developer:
1) Engage in technical workings of a website.
2) Uses PHP, .NET, HTML, CSS, JavaScript and many other langauges
3) Develops user interface and user-friendly website
4)Lleft-brained: technical, logic, linear thinking
5) Competent on hands-on coding experience

Conclusion
The web design is mainly concerned with the look and feel of the website however web development deal with the technical and functionality part of the website. Every business must think once and twice before hiring the web design and development company to ensure that they are well versed with the advanced knowledge in their field. Once you opt for the professional companies, they will build the exact website which you have expected.

By Ultimez Technology

Marketing Trends to Keep Your Eyes on for 2017

As we’ve seen repeatedly this year, it’s always hard to predict the future. But companies try every year, from budget projections to planning marketing strategies. Though we’d all like to be clairvoyant enough to know what the next best thing will be, it’s incredibly hard to accurately predict new trends well enough to get a jump on the competition. There are, however, trends that we can assume will continue over the next year.

Here’s our pick for trends to keep an eye on for the upcoming year.

1. Detailed content.
Content marketing has been adapting and growing over the last 10 years. In the past year, we have seen a particularly large leap forward in detailed content. It’s no longer enough to have strong keywords, links, and good meta tags. Your content needs to be relevant and interesting enough for people to read more than the first paragraph. With so much content out there, every piece needs to reach exactly the audience looking for it. Otherwise, it simply gets lost in the noise of other content.

2. Innovative social-media campaigns.
The last year has seen significant changes for the social media landscape. With social media taking over as the primary source of news, ads, and other information, it’s more important than ever to innovate and diversify your marketing campaigns. From Snapchat filters to Facebook Live events, companies that can adapt with the changing social media landscape and stay on the front wave are going to see better ROIs than those who fall behind.

3. Interactive content.
The past few years have shown the power that having an interactive strategy can have. For-profit companies can benefit from studying the ways that other causes are using to garner attention. The Ice Bucket Challenge and, more recently, the Mannequin Challenge have become a social media phenomenon for a reason. People like to get involved in the story. If you can draw your customers in and make them feel like they are part of something larger, you’ll build both excitement and loyalty in your audience.

4. Personal stories and content.
Though this is not a new concept, it is increasingly important. As advertising becomes more ubiquitous, people look towards others like themselves to determine the next big thing and whether a product is worth purchasing. Putting a name and a face to your customer base will help them feel connected to your brand and product. It is absolutely essential, however, that this is genuine. If personal accounts and experiences are fabricated, customers will feel betrayed and negative reviews spread faster than positive ones.

5. Specific audiences.
With the ability to reach so many people daily, it’s necessary to be more specific than ever when determining your target audience. Having a blanket campaign that tries to appeal to everyone is going to make your brand fade into all the other content out there. Determine the specifics of your audience, from education level to associated likes, and find the best way to reach that group for each product or service. It may be more work, but the benefit will far outweigh the cost and effort.

Over the next year, the most important thing of all is going to be leaving room for new ways of interacting with customers. Whether the next trend is virtual reality, artificial intelligence, or immersive marketing, having the ability to be part of that new conversation will be essential for any company hoping to grow in 2017.

www.entrepreneur.com

LinkedIn Your Way to Your Next Deal

LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can lead to plenty of great contacts and successful sales and deals.

What do you do when you need to get to a person or a company?

It used to be that when you needed to get through to somebody you didn’t already know you had to pick up the phone and persuade that skeptical receptionist/gatekeeper. Remember the movie “Wall Street,” when Bud Fox called Gordon Gekko for 30 days straight, each time trying to charm Gekko’s secretary to put him through?

Gatekeepers can be pretty tough (besides, when Bud Fox did get through the gatekeeper to Gekko, he lost everything and almost wound up in jail. But we digress).

Cold calling is not dead — but it is on life support. Sure, the cold call still has its place but, fortunately, we now have some other tools in our arsenal that make cold calls a lot warmer. Today, that means using LinkedIn (and sometimes Facebook and Google) to try to get to someone. And going in warm is almost always better than going in cold.

How to Linkedin your way to success.

Used correctly, LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can lead to plenty of great contacts and successful sales and deals. You can literally get deals done on LinkedIn — if you just know how to navigate it.

Here’s how you do it.

Your Profile: Make sure you have a professional looking Linkedin profile. It goes a long way to someone wanting to do business with you. That includes a profile picture, summary, job history and your education. Plus, if you can get some good recommendations from colleagues, that’s a big help. Make it look good so people want to do business with you.

Getting to someone: If you want to get to a specific person, type his or her name into LinkedIn. When you get to their profile, see if you have any “common connections.”

If you find a common connection, congratulations. Now you have two options.

Ask your common connection to make an introduction for you. If they’re willing to do so, that’s great. But remember, you’re now on their timetable. And besides, they may not know each other very well… they may just be “LinkedIn friends.”
Your other option is to simply reach out to the person you’re trying to get to. Of course they may not respond, but…and it’s a big but, when they see that you have a common connection or two, they’ll assume that you’re someone worth being connected to. In other words, that common connection is essentially vouching for you without even knowing it.
Pretty cool, huh?

If you don’t know anyone in common, that’s ok. Now you just have to dig a little deeper. Go through their profile and maybe you have something in common with them, whether it’s their college, a previous job or an interest.

Still nothing? Dig deeper.

Company search: If they work or used to work for a decent sized company, you can search that company on LinkedIn. You’ll get a list of everyone on LinkedIn at that company — as well as what level of connection you are to each of them.

You can even connect with random people at a company, so that when you try to connect to the person you really want to get to, it appears to them that you already know people at the company, so they are more likely to accept your request.

The Pro version of LinkedIn, while not cheap, is worth the investment if you’re serious about connecting with people and building your network. You can even test it free for one month. You can use that month to expand you base of contacts and see if it’s a worthwhile investment for you.

Another benefit of the Pro version is that you can see when someone looks at your profile. Not everyone you reach out to will look at your profile, but it’s nice to know when someone does. At least you know you’ve got their attention.

For some reason, the mobile app lets you send connection requests with fewer steps and to more people than using the website. Strange as that may seem, it does appear to be the case.

www.entrepreneur.com

Apple’s new ad is for people who haven’t figured out how to use iMessage effects

Apple debuted a TV ad today that shows off the new iMessage effects on iOS 10. The ad depicts balloons floating around a city and gathering in the bedroom of an iMessage user who reads a happy birthday text that was sent with the balloon iMessage effect. In case you don’t know what the new effects are, they fill a text thread with either balloons, confetti, lasers, a shooting star, or fireworks. The commercial’s very endearing.

www.theverge.com