Author: Anna

Email vs. social: Which works best for B2C?

When you have limited time and resources, how do you choose which channel to focus on?
If you’re a busy professional with a digital company, you’ve likely lamented a thousand times over where to focus your limited resources. Email marketing and social media are two marketing tactics with a bundle of buzz, but which will give you the most efficient and effective results?

Email and social media are two completely different beasts and could serve two separate purposes in your overall strategy. To narrow your focus, we have to first get clear on what you’re after.

That said, keep in mind that it is not necessary to choose one or the other; each has its own place, and benefits and should be used in tandem to expand your business to new audiences and levels of success. But it’s always advantageous to have a core focus and know which modalities bring the most bang for your business buck.

Email marketing is a powerful mainstay

Email marketing is the little engine that could. It’s one of the only evergreen strategies that has worked since the web first landed.

This year, the number of worldwide email users will grow to over 3.7 billion, according to a 2017 report from The Radicati Group. By 2021, that number will climb to over 4.1 billion.

Gmail alone touts over 1 billion of those users.

When we compare this figure to the reach of social media, roughly 2.5 billion users, it is clear that email takes this round. According to Statista, social adoption will only increase to 2.95 billion by 2020 — still a far cry from email’s reach.

It’s this massive potential that has allowed email marketing and campaign management services like GetResponse to thrive and incorporate other powerful features like webinar solutions, custom landing pages and automation elements.

Additionally, one of the most significant benefits that email holds over social is that communications will reach their intended recipients about 90 percent of the time.

Email marketing, however, is not as easy as it seems.

First, the 3.7 billion email users are not all accessible the way they are on social media.

Moreover, email lists need to be carefully refined to only reach the most interested and qualified prospects; that means you can’t just buy a list of digital addresses and expect your email blasts to turn a profit; emails lists must primarily include people who actually want to hear from you.

Another downfall is that emails have to jump through a variety of hoops before safely landing in a person’s inbox. While most people will end up receiving your communications, poor email designs and content can cause messages to be labeled as spam. That takes all your efforts and tosses them into the digital trash bin. This is quite the double whammy when you consider the challenges associated with building an email list and gaining new subscribers.

For B2C emails, however, one of the biggest troubles is getting to know your audience well enough to tailor communications that will convert; companies need to understand their customers’ habits and tendencies in order to segment them properly and recommend relevant deals or products.

Additionally, B2C brands need to study their open rates to gain insights on the most beneficial times to send communications, so that a consumer is more likely to convert.

And for consumer-facing companies, in particular, email elements such as compelling copy, relevant calls to action, feature placement and the ever-imperative mobile optimization are critical challenges.

Without all these elements in place, the chances of recipients opening an email, clicking a contained link, and making a purchase from the web store are nil.

Social media has marketing superpowers

Social media has become a cultural phenomenon, evolving into a deep-rooted marketing necessity around the time that the Web 2.0 revolution began.

In that period, social media platforms have matured and transformed to become a marketer’s best friend.

All of the major players in the space now support hyper-targeted advertising, entertaining and dynamic content, massive reach capabilities and a variety of advertising channels for marketers to leverage. Most platforms also incorporate social selling opportunities like Facebook’s “shop” sections and Instagram’s shoppable posts.

These kinds of features allow businesses to seamlessly offer consumers products with unparalleled convenience.

Social media also helps propagate brand awareness in a way that has never been possible. Businesses can post blogs, updates, videos and other forms of content that users can then share with their friends, who share with their friends and so on.

This not only keeps consumers educated in real time but also pulls more prospects into marketing funnels by generating more awareness/interest, and even produces the potential for content to go viral.

As a natural byproduct, social media’s uploaded content and discoverability also tend to drive increased levels of traffic to websites, potentially leading to more conversions and higher rankings in the SERPs.

And did I mention that social media is 100 percent free to use? If you aren’t leveraging paid ads, that is.

But as you well know, there are some massive social pain points that must be considered.

Organic reach on social media has been declining at alarming rates over the past several years in accordance with various algorithm updates. Late last year, it was uncovered that publishers saw a 52 percent decrease in organic reach over the course of 2016.

And since 78 percent of consumers read reviews before buying, your brand’s page reviews had better be stellar if you have any hope of gaining a new customer.

Setting aside social media’s increasingly “pay to play” environment and other challenges, one of the final downsides to social is how businesses manage their social existence.

All too often, brands spread themselves far too thin by trying to participate on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn and other popular networks. Without a refined strategy, it’s extremely easy to get lost in the digital noise.

Which channel should you use?

As far as B2C organizations are concerned, email is going to be a more beneficial and prosperous method for driving more sales and cultivating loyalty among consumers. Considering that emails will land in a customer’s inbox more times than not, it’s essential to study your audience and deliver more personalized messages, send communications at the right times and structure emails to allow for the most engagement and conversions possible.

While email is more fruitful for B2C, social still does a lot of heavy lifting in terms of generating awareness, website visits, increased email subscribers and brand loyalty as consumers continue to engage with a company.

If you can only do one, email is your champion. If you can do both, then you have a recipe for continually building, nurturing and converting leads in an exponentially powerful way.

Author: Jordan Kasteler

Digital Trends You Need To Pay Attention Right Now

Digital marketing evolves every day, forcing all leaders to keep up or fall behind. Once well-known and popular brands like Sears, Sports Authority, and Blockbuster (remember them?) fizzled out because they either couldn’t or didn’t want to keep up with changes in marketing. No one expects to become one of those brands, but the truth is, if you don’t know what trends are coming around the corner, you could put yourself at risk.

So here are six trends industry leaders need you to pay attention to.

1. Creating content for content’s sake will get you nowhere.

I think most companies know by now that they should be creating content. What they forget sometimes is that creating content just for the sake of creating content isn’t going to do much. That content should be guided by a documented content strategy and connected to your company’s goals. According to Kaydee Bridges, VP of digital and social media strategy at Goldman Sachs, there has to be a meaningful value exchange with everything you put out. The same applies to your content.

One of the best ways to get the most out of your content is to tap into your intellectual capital: your internal experts and thought leaders. Use their insights and turn them into consistent sources for content creation. Their unique insights and points of view add authenticity to your marketing and help your audience feel more connected to your brand.

2. Influencer outreach needs to be seen as an owned asset, not just paid media.

Influencer marketing continues to be a growing trend, in major part because it can be so effective. However, Socialtyze CEO John Bohan says most brands aren’t approaching influencer marketing correctly. They’re coming to it with a very campaign-centric mindset, thinking mostly in the short term and hoping they see a quick bump in sales as a result — and that’s not true influencer marketing.

Companies are doing what Bohan calls “superficial influencer identification,” selecting influencers mostly by their personas. But effective partnerships start with identifying influencers who already love your brand or have engaged social followings that align with your company and offering them some data-driven creative guidance.

The most exciting part of influencer marketing is the long-term potential and the opportunity to create a powerful marketing database of influencers that your brand can control. CMOs should view influencer marketing as more of an owned asset and long-term partnership to take advantage of those opportunities.

3. The days of the generalist agency are numbered.

It’s no secret that marketing is evolving. The number of channels marketers need to incorporate into their plans is becoming more complex at a faster and faster pace, and agencies are becoming more specialized out of necessity. Their expertise will be increasingly deep, not wide.

To keep up with this evolution, marketing leaders can’t just rely on sheer spend through a few simple channels anymore. Kepler Group CEO Rick Greenberg recommends hiring at least one true digital specialist who is comfortable with code, data, and all things tech who can be the go-between for your brand and your specialist agency partners. Your specialist and the agency need to work side by side, making transparent decisions in real time around how every penny is spent.

4. The shift to customer-centric business means the CMO has a more powerful seat in the boardroom.

Successful brands focus on the customer, and that requires all departments to be on the same page: The customer comes first. According to Deloitte Digital CMO Alicia Hatch, because companies are becoming more consumer-centric and marketing is closest to the consumer, this shift puts CMOs in a new position of power and responsibility for the way their companies connect with customers.

As the customer gatekeeper and experience shaper, the CMO has insights that can affect the entire business and help the whole company improve by learning directly from the customer. Brand experience is formed by every single touchpoint your customer has with your company, so the vision — communicated by the CMO — needs to be executed across more than just your website: Every part of the company should be on board.

5. Big data means there are no excuses for poor marketing decisions.

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for a CMO to allocate a solid chunk of his marketing budget without being asked to prove exactly what each dollar achieved.

CMOs today have to get a lot more transparency into data and analytics because that’s how their executive teams hold them accountable and how they’re able to measure their efforts.

Because data can show you which decisions lead to which outcomes, marketers are better able to attribute their budgets to results. Everyone and his mother has an opinion on creative; data means CMOs can come to the table with the facts to make better decisions.

6. Brands must start paying attention to their digital-native competitors.

Samir Bhavnani, area vice president for 1010data, explained that the brands that didn’t invest in digital earlier are getting crushed by these digital natives because they were slow to understand the importance of evolving. They’re only just now starting to put some spend behind innovation and technology and digital communication. They’re testing a lot of options pretty quickly and cheaply, and in many cases, it’s too little too late.

Marketing has always been an exciting industry, and digital marketing is pushing its evolution farther every day. These trends tells us where it’s all heading and how leaders can keep up. Are there other trends in marketing that we should be paying attention to? Let me know in the comments.

Source: (written by John Hall)

How To Boost Your Brand Identity With Instagram

Imagine a casual Instagrammer who wants to be thought of as adventurous.

They post photos of themselves traveling to exotic locations, trying foreign foods, and living a life that seems extraordinary.

Even if they actually spend the majority of their time at home watching Netflix, their audience will view them as an adventurer.

Successful businesses do the same.

They use Instagram as an outlet to craft and show the personality of their company, also known as their brand identity. A well-developed brand identity resonates with your audience, encouraging them to become customers. It also pushes one-time customers to become regulars, by giving them an emotional connection with your brand.

Building a brand identity on Instagram requires consistency. Follow these four steps to ensure your Instagram channel is cohesive and representative of your brand.

Consistent Messaging

All of your Instagram content should reaffirm your brand.
So what do you want to be known for, and what do you want to gain?

If you are currently recruiting young talent, you may want potential employees to know that your company is a fun place to work. For content, you’ll want to feature pictures of your workers doing actually interesting activities.

Hint: sitting at their desks with a forced smile does not count.

Consistent Visuals

No matter the image type, your followers should be able to look at any of your posts and instantly recognize it as one of yours (without even seeing your logo.)

In other words, your visual content should be its own watermark.

When posting photos, use the same filter to give them all a similar feel.

If you’re creating images yourself, make sure the art style is consistent even when the images are different. Try to use the same color pallet that is found throughout your brand and across other your marketing channels — including your email marketing.

Consistent fonts

On a visual medium like Instagram, using words in your pictures can either make or break you.
It is good practice to rely on one or two main fonts across all channels of your brand.

If your business doesn’t yet have a set of fonts it uses, try to pick a couple that match the tone of your industry.

Consistent timing

You want your audience to look forward to your posts. Be predictable.

Even with Instagram’s new algorithm, the bulk of exposure your posts receive comes shortly after posting.
By posting at consistent times and days, your followers begin to expect and look forward to your content.

So what now?

With these tips, you’re ready to craft your brand identity on Instagram.

But don’t stop at just your Instagram channel. Look for ways to extend the reach of these brand-boosting images by sharing the best ones on your other social channels, your website, and in your marketing emails.

Constant Contact integrates with Instagram so you can easily upload images from your Instagram channel into your email newsletter.

As your audience sees your consistent brand coming through on multiple channels, your brand identity will shine through even stronger and you’ll have confidence in the images you’re sharing.

Source: (Written by Rustin Nethercott)

How to find the right social media influencer for your campaign

Before reaching out to a potential social media influencer, you’ll need to consider the Rs of influence:
Relevance: The influencer is sharing content and developing a following relevant to your business and the particular market segment you want to target.
Reach: The number of people you could potentially reach through the influencer’s follower base that would bring value to your business.
Resonance: The potential level of engagement the influencer can create with an audience that’s valuable and relevant to your brand.

When determining whether an influencer is a good match for your three Rs, you’ll need to ask yourself a couple of important questions.

Who are you trying to influence?

Most marketers have no trouble coming up with a high-level answer to this question: you’re trying to influence your customers, prospects, and the broader industry community. But your influencer campaign can’t be all things to all people: as in all types of marketing strategy, a meaningful answer requires greater focus and a clear understanding of your goals and your audience.

Perhaps you’re trying to influence people who work in a specific job function—social media professionals or community managers who tend to spend significant amounts of time on social media every day, for example. Or maybe your goal is to influence decision-makers in a particular vertical—maybe government or finance leaders who tend to place deep trust in recommendations from their peer network. Or, you could be trying to target a specific consumer segment, like millennials looking to buy their first home.

These are three very different groups, and an effective influencer marketing strategy requires you to speak to the right people using the right tools (and, in this case, the right influencers), just like you do in all of your other marketing work.

Looking at a very specific marketing niche, for example, a recent survey from public relations firm MWWPR found that influencer marketing is the most effective way of marketing spirits to millennials, along with earned media. According to the report, 54 percent of Millennials share branded content from spirits companies when it is posted by a social influencer, and 93 percent usually try a new liquor after someone recommends it to them. For any liquor brand looking to expand into the millennial market, those numbers should be hard to ignore.

Who do your customers, prospects, and community trust?

For marketers, the key requirement for true influence is trust. Your audience must trust and respect the opinion of the influencers you partner with. Without the trust component, any lift in results will be superficial and you’ll struggle to see a tangible business impact from your efforts.

Working from a clear idea of exactly who you’re trying to influence, take the extra step to find key opinion and thought leaders whom your audience already looks to as sources of meaningful information. These people are already influencers—and partnerships with them can drive real impact.

Keep in mind that your audience demographics play a major role in determining which influencers will be the most trusted in your marketplace. Data from Twitter shows that people aged 45 and up view more traditional household name celebrities as preferred influencers, while millennials prefer digital content creators.

There are plenty of tools to help you identify people with large and engaged networks talking about topics that matter to your audience, including followerwonk, Traackr, Klout, and Hootsuite. But remember that reach alone does not indicate a powerful influencer—you also need the other two Rs: relevance and resonance. Watch for engaged followers—that means plenty of views, likes, comments, and shares, all from the precise follower segments you’re trying to reach.

A huge follower count is meaningless without evidence that those followers are paying attention, and a smaller follower count can be very powerful if it’s a niche area and the potential influencer is a recognized leader. Markerly, a network that connects brands with influencers, recently found that partnering with “micro-influencers” can provide much better ROI than trying to snag a big celebrity. Their analysis of 800,000 Instagram users found that the influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers offer the best combination of resonance and reach.

Credit: Christina Newberry via

Improve Your Local SEO in 5 Hours

Make sure potential customers can find your business locally on Google.

Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort makes all the difference.

What is local SEO?
I’m sure you have done a Google search and seen the results populate at the top of the page with the map, star ratings, address and phone number. This is what I’m referring to when I say local SEO. This is Google’s Local Snack Pack. Depending on the industry, it has the potential to be the very first result on Google and can make a big difference when it comes to bringing new leads into your business.

Step 1: Create a Google My Business page.
It is free to create a Google My Business page and shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to cross this step off your checklist. This will get your business hours, phone number and directions onto Google Search and Maps. Make sure you add pictures of your business and add a great description so people can familiarize themselves with your local brand directly from your Google My Business page. To verify this process, Google will manually send you a postcard with a pin so make sure to check your mail!

Step 2: Submit your business to local directories.
After you enter your PIN and verify your Google My Business page, you still have a lot of work left! There are hundreds of local directories across the internet where your business needs to be submitted to.

Since you are a busy entrepreneur and we only have five hours to bolster your local SEO, we are going to automate this process. Fortunately, there are services that will take care of this for you. This will be one of the most worthwhile investments you can make from a marketing standpoint.

After submitting your business to one of the aforementioned services, you will appear on sites like MapQuest, FourSquare and Yahoo Local (to name a few). This process will take you 30 minutes and it will help align your local presence.

Tip: If you have moved businesses or are not confident that all of your local listings are consistent, run this test on Moz to check your listings. It is vital that you have consistency with your brand name, address, phone number and other local indicators.

Step 3: Get reviews.
I’m frequently asked if reviews on a Google My Business page will help increase rank. The answer, unfortunately, is somewhat wish-washy. Just because you have more reviews than someone else doesn’t necessarily mean that this will help you surpass them in rank. What reviews will help you do is increase your click-through rate, an important indicator to Google. It makes perfect sense. Reviews help establish credibility for your brand. When people are deciding between firms, they are likely going to read reviews. Google likes it when you have a high click-through on the search results because it means you are clearly providing value to the user (otherwise, they wouldn’t click on your site).

Business owners should spend at least one hour coming up with a list of 50 customers or clients. Create a customized email for each brand advocate and tell them how important a review would be to your business. It is also important to train your staff to ask customers for reviews. Starting with reviews on your Google My Business page is a good start. But, don’t forget about Facebook and others.

Every week, before closing up your office, make sure you’ve gotten some new reviews!

Step 4: Acquire local backlinks.
How exactly is Google determining which local business to populate in the “snack pack” results? There is a lot of correlation between the domain authority of your website and the local SEO results.

If you are unfamiliar with domain authority, it is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. I wrote an article about this if you want to learn more about domain authority. To make a long story short, to increase domain authority, you need quality backlinks pointing back to your site from external websites.

For a local company, it is imperative that you have local links pointing back to your site. If you are an extermination company, for example, make sure all of your vendors link back to your site on the “partners” section of their sites. If you have a lot of corporate clients, see if they’ll link back to you. Get involved in the local community and sponsor a youth baseball team and they should link back to you on their “sponsor” page. All of these backlinks are indicators to Google that you are a local business.

Step 5: Improve your on-site SEO.
Google is not going to know you are a lawyer in Little Rock unless you make this clear on your website. Make sure to include your business name, address and phone number on your website. In the title tag of your site, reference your local market. On your contact page, make sure to list out directions to your office and include local landmarks so people can easily find your location.

Your local search results tie back to your website. Your website needs to be a true local indicator. Don’t go overboard though; there is no need to mention Little Rock on your homepage 48 times. Google will get the point if it is naturally worked into the verbiage throughout the site.

Open for business
You want to make it known to Google that you are open for business.
If you have a local office and spend five hours in a smart and efficient manner on your local SEO, you will reap the benefits for years to come. Don’t be discouraged if your business isn’t ranking in the top three results within a week, though. Like anything in life, it can take time and continued work for Google to recognize your efforts.

Credit: JASON PARKS via

Design Tips For Creating Killer Apps

“A gorgeous app with poor UX isn’t a gorgeous app – it’s an invitation to frustration.” – InVision

This powerful quote points to the significance of a good user experience and user interface. It will literally make or break your app. The following article goes over app design tips that will enhance the usability and appeal of your app. Even though some of seem obvious, there are plenty of bad apps out there that prove the opposite. Stand out with an app that is both gorgeous on the inside and out.

1. Apply the rules of interaction design
Even though the screen is a lot smaller, the rules of good interaction design still apply. Interaction design is an important component within the giant umbrella of user experience (UX) design. According to DesignModo, “Interaction design is a process in which designers focus on creating engaging web interfaces with logical and thought out behaviors and actions. Successful interactive design uses technology and principles of good communication to create desired user experiences.”

So when you start building your app, keep the Five Pillars of Interaction Design in mind:

Goal-driven design: User research, such as interviews and surveys, helps you design for the right user. Uncover personas and user scenarios to create a complete picture of the experience with your app, as it will allow you to tailor your app’s workflow to suit users’ needs.
Usability: If anything, your app needs to be easy to use. “Usability makes a product useful, which is the first step in being desirable”, says The Next Web.
Affordance & signifiers: The affordance is the function; the signifier hints at the affordance. For instance, blue, underlined text (signifier) indicates that it is “clickable” and will take you to a linked page (affordance). Signifiers need to be used correctly, so users don’t need to think about what each UI element does.
Learnability: Users should be able to intuitively navigate your app. Using familiar mobile patterns will help (new) users acclimate to a (new) app — more on this later in the article.
Feedback & response time: Feedback lets a user know if an action was completed, whether through sound, image or text. This feedback needs to happen in a timely manner, as well as be user-friendly.

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Besides following basic design rules, do not try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your app’s interface. There is a reason why many (successful) apps look similar, they build off of established mobile patterns that users are familiar with. Users shouldn’t be required to learn a new pattern every time they open a different app. This would cause instant abandonment of the app. Therefore, use patterns that you see in popular apps, including the colors, icons and gestures. For instance, use red for errors and an envelope icon for your email feature. Furthermore, touch devices are defined by gestures, including swipe, double-tap, zoom and pinch.

According to TNW, you should “use common UI patterns as a baseline for usability, then layer on your own creativity. In doing so, you’ll ensure that your app design matches user expectations without feeling boring.”

3. Remember accessibility
We’ve all experienced the frustration of accidentally hitting the wrong button on our phone, and ending up on a random screen. Fingers are a lot bigger than precise mouse cursors, so make sure you build a ‘finger-friendly’ design. Allow enough space for users to tap with their fingertip to minimize annoyance as much as possible. Fingers are about 45-57 pixels wide, which is bigger than most design guidelines state for hit targets. Apple’s recommendations (44×44 pixels), for example, are actually too small.

Also consider that people hold their phones in different ways: one thumb/one hand, two hands/one finger or two hands/two thumbs. Keep this thumb and finger placement in mind when adding important touch buttons.

4. Know your colors
Different colors convey different meanings and emotions, so it is crucial to pick the right ones for your app. As the guide shows, blue can convey trust and strength, whereas orange can signify cheerfulness and confidence. The color palette should, of course, also match your current company colors.

According to Envato, “we have seen a shift in trends from heavy use of colors throughout mobile app elements, to more minimal use of color, with much more focused palettes being used. As well as this, there has been a move towards using more white space alongside high contrast, experimental colors.” Most importantly, you need to use color contrasts that facilitate a better reading experience.

5. (Con)text is king
Text and design go hand in hand, so make sure not to skimp on this element. Some even argue that words are the most important part of interaction design. Crucial is that your copy is easy to understand. “The first step to any writing endeavor is to know both your audience (your target users) and your medium (web page content, sidebar, pop-up, etc.), says Fast Company. In other words, the writing needs to be tailored to who will be reading it, when they will be reading it, what they need to complete their goal and so on.

Phrase labels positively to make users feel in control. Users are coming to your site to do something to achieve their goals, so create copy that encourages interaction.
Use the most important words first. Mobile users are especially impatient, so make sure the point comes across as fast as possible.
Use consistent wording across each screen. Besides being a stand-alone product, the app should be an extension of your company’s brand.

Time to go (back) to the drawing board with these app design tips!


How to Create a Great Influencer Marketing Campaign

Here are some tips that would help smaller companies get started, and find success, using this highly effective marketing strategy.

1. Let your influencers have creative freedom.
Influencers got to where they are, in terms of popularity, because of their personality. It’s important that you let them have full creative control when promoting your product or service. What you think might work potentially won’t gel with their audience.

They engage with their audience all day long and know what they will respond to and what will push them away. When you allow them to control the creative direction you are going to end up with a much more organic feeling post and a better end result.

2. Do your due diligence to make sure an influencer is the right fit.
It’s very important to dig deep before you hire an influencer. Ask yourself, “Is this someone that I want representing my brand?” Take a minute to look at all of their social media profiles and see if there is anything that sets off a red flag.

Remember, this is someone that is going to be essentially representing your brand. If a consumer sees that your brand is being promoted by someone that engages in hate speech, drop the F-bomb every other post or is outright rude, it’s going to reflect negatively on your brand.

3. Don’t get mesmerized by follower count.
Follower count means nothing. Nada. Zilch. I have seen an identical campaign run on an Instagram account with 6.5 million followers and several accounts all under 30,000 followers. Every single smaller account outperformed the larger one by close to 300 percent.

Look at engagement rates and the type of engagement posts are receiving. I can promise you that the audience following some of these models with millions of followers aren’t interested in buying anything. They are following for bikini pictures – nothing more.

4. Always negotiate prices.
Have you seen what some influencers are charging per post? I’m not even talking about mega celebrities and six-figure pay outs. There are models with a few million followers commanding $5,000 to $10,000 per post. Don’t always bite on the rate card price. There is often times room for negotiation, especially if you are buying multiple posts.

I have seen initial asks of thousands per post come down to a couple hundred. If you are promoting a product, chances are you are going to be sending it to the influencer so they can create content to post. Use product as leverage too — offer to throw in some extra to drop the price. Many will gladly take a combination of product and monetary compensation.

5. Remember, you aren’t producing infomercials.
An influencer holding up your product with a, “Buy this product” caption isn’t going to be well received. You aren’t trying to create an infomercial that simply lists all of the amazing benefits.

You want the influencer to create an organic post — something that doesn’t reek of being overly promotional. When you partner with the correct influencer sometimes a picture of them with your product in a natural setting is all you need. They don’t have to tell their audience to buy it — they notice on their own. This has a lot to do with the very first tip above — giving the influencer complete creative control.

6. Identify micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers can be your campaign’s sweet-spot. Let’s pretend you wanted to promote a health supplement and have a small budget of $2,000 a month for influencer marketing. You could go with a popular fitness influencer with a few million followers that will suck up your entire budget for one post, or you could secure a dozen micro-influencers in the fitness world with smaller followings for the same price.

As mentioned, follower count is irrelevant. Micro-influencers tend to have a very engaged following that is genuinely interested in their content. There are several tools that help identify micro-influencers who would be a good fit for your campaign.

7. Constantly track, measure and analyze your campaign.
You must know whether your influencer efforts are working or not. There isn’t a plug-and-play success formula. The number of likes or comments a post receives isn’t an indication of a successful campaign.

Dive into your Google Analytics and look at your referral traffic to see if you notice a large increase from the social networks you are running influencer posts. If you have goal established, did you notice a large increase in leads or sales? Did your own social profiles see increased followers and engagement? Are your sales numbers through the roof? These are all questions you will need to answer.

8. Don’t ignore your other marketing campaigns.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see. Brands get so excited about influencer marketing that they forget about their other marketing efforts. They assume that influencer marketing is going to be a game changer, and it can be, but you can’t ignore everything else.

Influencer marketing drives a lot of brand awareness, which leads to consumers doing things like checking out your social media and visiting your blog. Use influencers to compliment to your marketing.


Laws of Social Media Marketing

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It’s vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and — perhaps most importantly — your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. The Law of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

8. The Law of Acknowledgment
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.

9. The Law of Accessibility
Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

10. The Law of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others.


6 Tips on Running Micro-Influencer Campaigns

When you’re the only one making decisions on how to reach more users for your product, knowing which direction to take can be tough. In the past four years, influencer marketing has become a reliable customer acquisition channel for software-as-a-service startups, app developers and more.

But you as already know, there are different types of influencers. Micro-influencers are influencers with less than a million followers. These followers can be on social media, write blogs, are on YouTube, etc. The bottom line is: Are these followers loyal and engaging?

To determine the level of engagements, in 2016, the Markerly team conducted a study on follower engagement vs. influencer size, and comparing larger influencers with celebrity-size followings against micro-influencers. In the study, they found that the micro-influencers in the 10,000 to 100,000 range were the most successful in engaging their audiences, displaying a higher like rate (2.37 percent) than influencers and celebrities with more than a million followers (1.66 percent).

With that in mind, here are six tips to help you reach more of your ideal customers through micro-influencers:

1. Find relevant influencers.
If, for example, you sell high fashion women’s business apparel and you contact a YouTube prankster who has a demographic of 10- to 25-year-old boys, how relevant is this audience to what you’re selling?

Even if this influencer has millions of subscribers and each video gets millions of views, your ROI will be less than if you connect and use a female micro-influencer who specialized in job skills training to help women in the workforce.

2. Focus on engagement.
The truth is, user engagement leads to growth. One of the things I do prior to reaching micro-influencers is to ensure they have built a level of engagement with their followers.

Do you see valuable likes, comments, questions, repins, retweets, social shares and other engagement metrics? Always focus on engagement first.

“Remember, most big influencers typically don’t have the type of engagement that micro-influencers do. Because it’s easier to engage 1,000 followers compared to 50,000 followers under the same circumstance,” says Heidi Yu, CEO and founder at Boostinsider.

3. Use an army.
Influencer marketing, in general, requires a lot of work. For most people, it’s easier said than done. To help you maximize your results, you need to connect with “lookalike” micro-influencers.

You can decide to start off with one specific influencer, but not for too long. It’s essential to build an army of micro-influencers who can simplify your message, communicate it clearly, and provide the impact that you need for the fraction of the cost.

You may think that the moment you build a relationship with an influencer with 3 million followers, that all your worries are gone. After all, your app can get the attention it truly deserves, right? Don’t be deceived, a huge audience doesn’t mean lots of downloads.

Victor Ricci, founder at Trend Pie, recommends that “instead of paying $3,000 per tweet, which isn’t guaranteed to generate the results you’re looking for, you should approach a group of micro-influencers who can do it for $450 per tweet.”

You’ll get more exposure and more downloads — without spending extra money. Don’t be carried away by follower counts. Spread your tentacles to more micro-influencers.

4. Find a network of connected micro-influencers.
“A technique that I’ve found successful is to find a network of connected micro-influencers. They tend to support each other by sharing each other’s posts and leaving comments on each other’s content,” says Kimberly Price, senior social media strategist at Merkley + Partners.

This can provide a form of social proof because when an ideal customer sees comments or endorsements from two or more experts, it influences their potential purchases.

As an example, for a CPG brand, Merkley + Partners leveraged 130 micro-influencers to promote a niche line of laundry detergent. After calculating ROI in respect to media value on this campaign, they saw a 29 percent increase, which is higher than a similar campaign using one big celebrity.

5. Send a weekly digest email.
Don’t get overwhelmed by email marketing strategies. If you must get better results, start from where you are and with what you have. Send a weekly digest email and inspire influencers to amplify what you’ve already started.

“We started sending one out highlighting the bestselling items of the previous week, to give influencers an idea of what to push. It has worked extremely well. In fact, our sales have increased by 200 percent and there are more opportunities to improve it,” says Conrad F. Smith, sales director at Offers All Day.

6. Show them love.
When it comes to influencer marketing, cut through the noise by showing love. Ditch promotional emails that are boring and pushy. Instead, show micro-influencers that you care and value their time. Start by admiring their work (e.g., article, video, book, presentation, website).

Sarah Ware, CEO of Markerly, advises that “influencers, like consumers, don’t want to feel like they’re just another target for your messaging so make them feel like a part of your brand’s family.”

Next, show how much you would love to work with them. Always explain clearly why that particular micro-influencer is the right fit for your message and brand in general.

While this is happening, understand that most influencers will not reply your emails or even care about you. But don’t worry, because there are thousands of other micro-influencers in your industry. Reach out to them. Most importantly, don’t refer to them as micro-influencers in your email. In fact, don’t mention the words “influencer” in your email. Make it cordial. Respect them.

The ultimate key to winning at influencer marketing, especially when connecting with micro-influencers, is to provide tremendous value.

You don’t want to appear salesy, but don’t hoard your value either. You may be promoting your mobile app, or trying to gain more brand awareness, but bring value first!

No matter the form of marketing you employ, quality will always beat quantity.


9 Marketing Books to Read

Simply put, marketers comprise an impressively busy population. With a perpetually incomplete to do list, an eternal quest for work-life balance, and ongoing efforts to keep up with the latest creative trends, where the heck are we supposed to find time to do something like, say, read a book?

But something that might seem recreational on the surface could actually be vital to your career development. Even better, there’s a veritable plethora of books available on marketing, specifically, and some of them can be quite influential. The question is: When you’re already short on time, how do you pick out the best ones?

1) Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger

Read This Book If You:

Want to boost the virality of your content.
Are curious to learn more about word-of-mouth marketing.
Would like to see marketing examples from SMBs that have gone viral.

2) Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, by Ann Handley

Read This Book If You:

Are looking for a hybrid of a “writing guide” and “handbook on the rules of good sportsmanship in content marketing.”
Are a journalist who wants to learn how to write on behalf of a brand.
Are a marketer who wants to learn how to generally enhance your editorial skills.

3) Different : Escaping the Competitive Herd, by Youngme Moon

Read This Book If You:

Are a marketer who isn’t that into business books – this one is more conversational.
Want to achieve continuous uniqueness – both personally and in your work – to sustainably stand out in a competitive market.
Would like to learn how to leverage the criticism you’ve received to improve your marketing.

4) Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, by Nir Eyal

Read This Book If You:

Want to learn how to apply the principles of viral and word-of-mouth to your product marketing.
Are looking to step up your UX efforts and knowledge.
Are curious to learn more about the psychology of consumer behavior.

5) Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, by Ryan Holiday

Read This Book If You:

Want to improve your general PR knowledge and skills.
Made a somewhat public mistake, and want to know how to fix it – but can’t afford professional help.
Need to learn how to navigate the online media landscape (versus the traditional one).

6) Learn SEO: An On-Page SEO Tutorial, by Patrick Coombe

Read This Book If You:

Have limited knowledge of SEO, but aren’t sure how to start learning.
Don’t have time to learn a lot at once, and need to master SEO in phases.
Are looking for efficient ways to keep up with algorithms and other frequent SEO updates.

7) Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, by Phil Knight

Read This Book If You:

Love marketing and sports – and have always been curious where the two intersect.
Learn better from stories, rather than how-to or academic guides.
Want to know how to leverage cultural phenomena to build and complement your brand.

8) Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace

Read This Book If You:

Absolutely love the Toy Story movies, and are curious to know what the heck they have to do with marketing.
Are struggling to convince your colleagues or boss to promote a culture of creativity.
Want to find new ways to for your team to produce unique, original work – and how that starts with the people who comprise it.

9) No One Understands You And What To Do About It, by Heidi Grant Halvorson

Read This Book If You:

Manage or are part of a team with low morale – better communication can fix it, with the three pillars identified by the author (trust, power, and ego).
Are concerned that project execution and quality are suffering because of flawed communication.
Have trouble tactfully expressing what you really think or how you really feel.

By Amanda Zantal-Wiener (