Smart Insights http://www.smartinsights.com Digital Marketing > The Marketing Strategy Blog Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:01:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Retina Displays – Why you need to think about retina screens in your email marketing http://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/mobile-email-marketing/retina-displays-emailcampaigns/ http://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/mobile-email-marketing/retina-displays-emailcampaigns/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:45:00 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=41146 Understanding the pros and cons of Retina screens in email design

eye-phone retinaChildren of the (higher) resolution – Every time I see an article or advert about Apple’s Retina Display, I have to force myself not to dismiss it as marketing guff and consider the relevancy. Let me explain.

As an email designer, devices with a Retina display are a pain. When I open an email I have lovingly crafted they make my pin-sharp graphics look a touch blurry, and that’s guaranteed to upset any designer.

In this article I look specifically at email design for retina displays, register for the free webinar with my colleague Darren for more insight on mobile design for Email.


What is a retina screen or display?

First it’s important to understand what a ‘Retina’ screen is. First and foremost, the name is just an Apple marketing term – Samsung, Sony, HTC, in fact all smartphone manufacturers are now producing devices with high PPI (Pixels per inch) displays.

Any screen with a pixel density high enough that under normal viewing conditions the individual pixels cannot be distinguished is essentially ‘Retina’, although it should be noted that Apple’s Retina devices handle images differently to any other high PPI device.

In a nutshell, the PPI value is determined by the resolution of the screen and its physical size. The ‘normal viewing conditions’ also vary between devices and their use. I want to explore these details in more depth in my next post.

What happens if you don’t design your emails for retina screens?

Scalable graphics, photos and text look super sharp on these screens. Unfortunately, images created at the smallest possible size with mobile devices and data connections in mind don’t look quite as sharp as they should. In fact, Apple Retina displays in particular have a particular way of handling and displaying graphics that ironically make ‘normal’ graphics look worse than any other high PPI screen, where the slightly fuzzy edges are barely noticeable.

The current workaround is a @media query – a line of code that tells devices with certain parameters to do different things. In this case, telling devices with a pixel ratio of 1.5 or greater (with a few other rules specified to cover different devices) to display an image double normal size.

@media (min–moz-device-pixel-ratio: 1.5),

(-o-min-device-pixel-ratio: 3/2),

(-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 1.5),

(min-device-pixel-ratio: 1.5),

(min-resolution: 144dpi),

(min-resolution: 1.5dppx) {

/*Show alternative double size image*/

}

This provides another image double the size for high PPI displays, ensuring everything looks as it should. Sadly due to limitations of the @media query code, it also means that every device that responds to the @media query itself (which includes all mobile devices) downloads the bigger image as well as the normal one. For an email with say 5 images, this is a 10 image download, 5 of which are double the size of the others. That’s a much longer load time, and could very easily be the difference between opening and ignoring an email.

load-times-forklifts

But the fact is high PPI ‘Retina’ screens are becoming the norm on smartphones and tablets. Why? As technology improves and brands seek to distinguish themselves from their competitors they increase the number of pixels while the physical sizes stay the same, all in the name of sharper text and images.

Load times are so important that they’re still the overriding factor, but if you had a super whizzy message to give that would really benefit from it (say an iPhone app targeted at iPhone customers) then the extra wait might be worth it. As always, it’s down to your target audience.

Image/Source Copyright:NewZapp
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Brainstorm content marketing ideas and create a content calendar http://www.smartinsights.com/content-management/brainstorm-content-marketing-calendar/ http://www.smartinsights.com/content-management/brainstorm-content-marketing-calendar/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:30:00 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=41269 Day 4 of our 5 days of Successful Content Marketing Series with Sticky Content

Day 4 content marketing brainstorm

Today’s the day you start generating ideas and populating your calendar.

Hold a brainstorm. Sit round as a team, look at what the competition are doing, look at what you’ve done before, look at who you’re trying to reach. Start jotting things down on Post-its: literally anything that comes to mind.

[Editor's note: Readers who don't know it, check out the Smart Insights Content Marketing Matrix which was designed for sessions to brainstorm content marketing].

At this point, no idea is a bad idea, but make sure you’re generating solid concepts and not simply coming up with themes. A good idea is specific, with a clear angle that can be summarised in a neat elevator pitch. A theme is an area you want to write about, perhaps many times. So for a healthcare provider, a key content theme might be ‘stress’, but the ideas will be many and varied: ‘How to spot signs of stress in your staff’, ‘Can stress ever be good for you?’, ’10 ways to de-stress your business’, ‘101 natural stress-busters’ and so on.

Now make a content editorial calendar in Excel, with time (broken into weeks or months, depending on your resourcing summary) along the horizontal axis, and content channels (e.g. blog, email newsletter, Twitter, Facebook etc) down the vertical axis. Using the time axis as a diary, add in any events (internal or external), upcoming campaigns or key team absences – anything that could impact on what you’re to going to be able to create and when.

Now add in your content mission statement across the top of the doc, and create mini statements for each channel. To use sports gear as an example, the overarching statement was ‘helping you achieve peak performance in your chosen sport’. For different channels, this might break down as:

  • Twitter: personal messages encouraging individual customers to improve their times or hone their skills.
  • Email newsletter: hints and tips for better training and performance.
  • Blog: in-depth articles about sports science topics eg nutrition, muscle fatigue.
  • Facebook: the channel where we talk about new products and promote the content we’re producing in other channels (eg the blog).

Now you can go back to your Post-its and start sifting the ideas into 3 piles: Definitely, Delete and Think About. Focus on the first pile and start populating your key channels with content inspired by your best ideas. Look for ways to reinforce ideas across channels, and always make sure each execution fits with the mini-statement you’ve agreed on for each channel.

Output: An editorial calendar in Excel, detailing the content you’re going to be posting, when you’re going to post it and via what channel.

Case study: Nike

Nike uses its social channels for different purposes and personas in a way that is clearly informed by research but still clearly linked to an overarching content brand. Nike Football and Nike Running on Twitter , for instance, feel more aimed at males and focus on developing skills and technique.

NikefootballTwitter

However, Nike’s presence on Pinterest is largely aimed at a female demographic, with a focus on style, visuals and exercise classes.

nikewomenpinterest

Image/Copyright:@PA Images
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The modern B2B Lead Nurture Process http://www.smartinsights.com/lead-generation/lead-generation-strategy/b2b-lead-nurture-process/ http://www.smartinsights.com/lead-generation/lead-generation-strategy/b2b-lead-nurture-process/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=41122 Practical content marketing and profiling techniques to identify senior decision makers

Senior decision makers are increasingly reluctant to hand over their contact details when exploring potential solutions. You may have noticed how busy managers often omit their phone numbers from their email sigs! At the same time, the explosion in content marketing with the availability of detailed information online in a range of formats has enabled those seeking to use your products or services to carry out extensive research on you independently without booking a demo.

There is now little need to book a demo, take a trial or speak to a salesperson when so much content exists online to inform their decision.

Whilst these prospects are carrying out their due diligence research at distance, others who are at a much earlier stage of the buying cycle are seeking content that will inform and educate them.

Whitepapers, videos, thought-leadership pieces and research are standard fare in any inbound content marketing plan and can be very effective at driving traffic to your website, but putting barriers in place to access this content can be premature in two respects.

  • Firstly, across the whole B2B site, less than 5%  of website visitors will volunteer their contact details in exchange for access to the content – although it’s higher on individual landing pages of course [see these B2B Conversion rate examples].
  • Secondly, those looking at this content are not always ready for the sales follow up that you would attempt through capturing their details.

In fact, just 27% of B2B leads are sales ready when they first divulge their contact details (Marketing Sherpa). For the majority of contacts you acquire in these circumstances, there is a lot more lead nurturing to be done.

If you’re treating the download of a whitepaper as a buying signal, you may find your sales efforts a little premature.

However, having their details at this early stage does enable you to monitor their behaviour. For all of those who would not divulge their contact details in any circumstances, marketing automation and tracking technologies can help you identify them nonetheless and add them to Lead Nurture programmes.

By using a variety of techniques to identify and nurture companies visiting your website from an early stage, you are then able to communicate more effectively as their interest becomes more serious.

Signals for the advanced buying stage

The online behaviours of those at a more advanced buying stage are different. They are doing due diligence and looking at different types of content from those who are merely researching the topics that your content covers. Case studies, pricing, specifications and brochure downloads tend to be more reliable indicators of buying behaviour. Why would someone be interested in a case study if they had no interest in buying?

Although they are doing this at distance, we can still track these behaviours. Case studies are seldom behind a registration wall, hence the value in having identified them earlier in the process. We can track company and contact activity from initial visit, right through to purchase. We can also see how, depending on business size, different people in a company become involved in the process as they progress through the purchase funnel.

lead-info-disclosure

At the point a contact demonstrates some form of genuine interest, the nature of your marketing should change. Content designed to convey your proposition more clearly will work better in these circumstances. There comes a point where blog posts and other light touch content is not sufficient to help progress these leads.

Prospects will be more receptive to in depth content, but you should also attempt to give them opportunities to make contact and help you qualify their interest further. This is where interactive content types come into play; seminars and webinars, surveys and solution wizards (calculators, assessment tools).

This content should help them develop their understanding of your proposition, but also help you to better understand them.

Five killer B2B profile attributes

Your understanding of prospects should be structured in such a way that you can then segment and target future communications.

  • 1. Location - Are they located in an area that you serve? Does distance have a bearing on your approach or who approaches them?
  • 2. Size - The requirements of an enterprise are seldom the same as an SME. How does your proposition differ to certain sizes of organisation? What differences are there likely to be in the sales process? More due diligence? More stakeholders? More time?
  • 3. Industry - Likewise, different industries will have their own challenges. There may also be structural and legislative differences which have a bearing on your approach.

The first three killer attributes or values relate to the organisations you are targeting. Sometimes referred to as firmographic data. The latter two are contact centric; demographic. It is important to consider the implications of having multiple contacts to engage from a single company that you are targeting and how their role and seniority may dictate differences in your approach.

  • 4. Role – Different departments will be interested in different aspects of what you can provide. Are there differences in the business benefits? Who will be interested in the technical aspects? Is there a compliance or legal requirement?Here’s a simple example of how we can use technology to tailor content by role:relevant-content-example
  • 5. Seniority – Who will ultimately sign off on contracts or purchase orders? Are you able to deal with them directly or with their team? What relationships will you need to nurture and at what level?

To effectively communicate, you must better understand your prospect intimately.

Salespeople are used to contending with this variety and adjusting their behaviour and their pitch accordingly, but in marketing, we have to set out our stall in advance and try to guide leads along their own journey.

Everyone’s Different

Predicting the path from first time visitor to sales qualifiable lead is never something that we can map out fully. There are too many variables:

  • Different timelines
  • Different requirements
  • Different stakeholders
  • Different budgets!

The focus should be on progress rather than precision. Lead Score helps us to track cumulative behaviour. Different leads may consume different content, but their engagement with different types of content can give us a clear idea of their readiness for sales engagement.

A sudden jump in Lead Score due to multiple sessions from multiple contacts within an organisation is often a sign that your solution has been pitched internally. Other stakeholders in the decision making process will conduct their own desk research into the suggestions of their peers and seek the relevant assurances that their colleagues have done their due diligence properly.

It may be that those who visited your website and divulged their details at an earlier stage are not the ultimate decision maker, but researching solutions on their behalf.

As senior contacts become involved, they may be looking for answers more quickly than their colleagues who you have nurtured over time. Executive summaries, video testimonials and other forms of content that convey the key selling points succinctly are best deployed in these circumstances.

The larger the organisation, the more complex the vendor selection process and in recognition of the shift in the point of sales engagement, you should mine your sales literature for more content that can be deployed in a targeted marketing capacity.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction

The quality of your content and your ability to deliver the right message at the right time to the right contact will define the success or failure of any lead nurture strategy.

In devising your strategy, you should match trackable actions to content delivery, but in the latter stages, also draw upon the Five Killer Values to ensure relevancy.

Also consider what you would do both in the positive and the negative. Your follow up to downloading a whitepaper may be to invite them to attend a webinar. What happens if they don’t attend? Some actions or inaction will qualify them out, but others need either perseverance or a variation in approach.

Other times, your calls to action may not appeal to certain types of contact. Senior decision makers may appreciate a more direct approach if it saves them time.

Avoid your own content cul-de-sacs too. Some specific actions warrant a specific response. Others will be more generic. This is where Lead Score can help you to make sense of a variety of actions and respond appropriately.

Businesses with established lead nurturing programs generate 50% more sales ready leads at a lower cost (Forrester Research). Historically, marketing has handled the ‘one to many’, whilst sales look after the ‘one to one’.

Using Marketing Automation to nurture leads requires marketing and sales to work more closely, getting more and more targeted until such time as only a one to one approach is appropriate.

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7 things marketers need to know about Twitter Digits [@SmartInsights alert] http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/twitter-marketing/7-things-marketers-need-know-twitter-digits-smartinsights-alert/ http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/twitter-marketing/7-things-marketers-need-know-twitter-digits-smartinsights-alert/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:31:06 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=41436 Will Digits displace other email address-based user sign-in and authentication methods?

Importance:

Recommended link: Twitter Blog Digits announcement

twitter-digits-example

This is another interesting piece of new jargon and associated tech that marketers need to ‘get their heads around’. Here’s a summary of my understanding. I’ve also gone a bit beyond the ‘copy and paste’ summaries of other announcements by digging out a couple of case study examples of brands already using Digits which show how important this could be as part of the overall digital marketing ecosystem. This is why I have unusually rated its importance as 5/5!

  • 1. Digits is a new method of signing on to mobile apps and websites developed by Twitter. Twitter says it will reduce ‘friction’, enabling users to sign in to apps more readily.
  • 2. Digits works by signing in with mobile numbers and confirming using an SMS . It’s similar to two-step authentication already introduced by Twitter and Google in 2013 to improve user security.
  • 3. It was announced as part of Fabric at the Twitter developers conference on 22nd October 2014. Fabric is a platform of three modules that Twitter says:

addresses some of the most common and pervasive challenges that all app developers face: stability, distribution, revenue and identity. It combines the services of Crashlytics, MoPub, Twitter and others to help you build more stable apps, generate revenue through the world’s largest mobile ad exchange and enable you to tap into Twitter’s sign-in systems and rich streams of real-time content for greater distribution and simpler identity”.

  • 4 Twitter sees part of the value proposition of Digits as the lack of need for an email address. Could this be the “beginning of the end”” for email? One of the main reasons younger users are forced to adopt email is that they need it for social sign-on.
  • 5 The security risk of Digits is sure to get attention. Simply, put what happens if you lose your mobile? Other fallbacks will surely be needed.
  • 6 Brands are already using Digits to extend their mobile apps. The McDonald’s Alarm App enables friends to share offers for McDonald’s food and beverages. In order to redeem the offer, a person must authenticate as a real user. Twitter says:

McDonald’s felt that social sign-ins put too much burden on a user to share personal details, and that email addresses and passwords were too often forgotten or onerous to manage. Digits enables McDonald’s to quickly authenticate real users and get them into the app with a minimum of friction

In another case study / example Fitstar  sees it as important in emerging markets where it can be more common for young users in particular to have a mobile number, but not an email address.

  • 7. You can find out more on a dedicated site. Digits.com has all the info – it’s a separate site.

The big question is whether other social network platforms such as Facebook and Google will adopt it? That seems unlikely, but as Google has shown with its two step authentication, they are likely to develop similar approaches.

That’s how I see it – how important do you think Digits will be?

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Getting noticed for your first digital marketing job post University http://www.smartinsights.com/managing-digital-marketing/personal-career-development/first-digital-marketing-job-post-university/ http://www.smartinsights.com/managing-digital-marketing/personal-career-development/first-digital-marketing-job-post-university/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=40044 My top 10 tips to help you secure your digital marketing graduate job

There’s something nostalgic about looking back at your time at University – especially when looking to offer advice.

Like that one time you were stranded in the library preparing for your last exam. Or the time you were rushing to print your coursework and realised you had run out of print credits. Frustrating at the time, but when you look back, there’s always a lesson learnt.

15886076_s_123rfgraduate

University offers so much, yet it’s often under utilised by students. This is sometimes only realised by graduating students when it’s too late to seize those opportunities.

So this is me, who has been there, done that, passing the baton of advice on to any Under-grad or Post-grad students who may be considering their future in digital marketing. The following tips are lessons I wish had been passed down to me in my time of need. So if you’re preparing for graduation, or just want to get ahead, check them out and let me know what you think!

10 tips for Undergraduate or Postgraduate Students wanting to get a first job in Digital Marketing

  • Tip 1. Make the most of your time

Whether you plan to secure a grad scheme, start your career or just go travelling, one day your time at university will amount to something, and if you knuckle down now you’ll be thankful later.

University is a great opportunity to discover yourself and gain independence, but at the end of the day you don’t want it to be wasted time. The key take-home from this post is to make the most of your time at university, but how…

  • Tip 2. Get experience

I’m adamant the most valuable aspect of my time at University was my placement year. Before we go any further this isn’t a ‘uni-bashing’ article. There’s no ‘I learnt more in one week on the job than I did at Uni’ sentiment around here, and this is why…

I spent over 15 months working for a sports travel business, heading up their online marketing. During this period I was exposed to challenges that I’d never faced before, and I was forced to develop new skills.

One of the key benefits of my placement wasn’t skill related, it was more human than that. It was focus and determination and it transferred directly to university.

When I returned to university I knew what I wanted and the only way to get that was to knuckle down and be committed to my course, expand my knowledge and achieve the grades I knew I was capable of.

With half of recent UK graduates stuck in non-graduate jobs the graduate job market is as competitive as ever. The long and short of it is that you need experience. I was lucky that Leeds Metropolitan University had a great Careers Advice Centre that helped prepare me for applications and interviews. If you aren’t as lucky at your university then there’s plenty of resources out there. Just check out Target Jobs or Milkround and get searching for your placement year.

  • Tip 3. Study Abroad

Along with their careers advice team, Leeds Met also have great international links which allow students to spend a semester abroad through their Study Abroad Programme.

Now I wasn’t lucky enough to get an exchange, but it’s one of my biggest regrets. Not only does it provide great life experience, but in today’s growing international community, having experience working overseas could just be the different in helping you secure that dream job after graduation.

If you get the chance then apply. Don’t have regrets.

  • Tip 4. Digital resources

Once you’ve spent some time working in the marketing industry you get a feel for where you want to progress. For me it was digital, and if you’re reading this article then you’ve at least got a slight interest in digital marketing.

With the fast pace nature of digital it’s critical to keep up-to-date with the latest trends by staying plugged in to key industry resources such as Smart Insights, Econsultancy and Mashable

Smart Insights

There are also some great specialist resources out there such as Moz for the SEO inclined, as well as one of my favourite digital resources, QuickSprout

  • Tip 5.  Digital courses and qualifications

Along with the great resources outlined in the previous point, there are also some fantastic opportunities to gain recognised digital certifications.

Google Analytics Academy is at the fore-front of digital certification, and there courses are a ‘must-have’ for those starting out in digital. The syllabus is a great way to learn the basics of Google Analytics at your own pace with video tutorials to help you along the way, plus it’s FREE so what are you waiting for?

If you followed my recent post about digital analytics you’ll see that there’s a wide range of certifications available. However the Digital Analytics Fundamentals is a great start and should you pass, it’s a fantastic addition to your CV.

  • Tip 6. Read, Read, Read

One of the greatest marketing books I’ve ever read is ‘The New Rules of Marketing & PR# David Meerman Scott. This book helped spur my interest in digital marketing, and I don’t know where I would be in my marketing career had I decided not to open the first page.

Engage, expand, enjoy…

  • Tip 7. Study

During university you learn a lot about yourself. The first two years of university you find yourself, make new friends and get to grips with your degree. You pick up areas of interest; you get to know what you do and don’t like.

During your final year things change and it gets serious. You’ll notice a switch in behaviour amongst your fellow students. Rather than a wild night out, many will hit the hay, knowing full well that tomorrow they’ve got a big library session on their hands. Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of time for fun.

You need to know your subject and actually be prepared for your seminars and lectures by reading around the topic. Not only does this help you understand the module, but you’ll find that you’re actually engaged with the seminar and you’ll get more out of your time at university.

Trust me when I say the most important place on campus is the library. Your time spent here can literally make or break what grade you get.

Engage with the subject, find your passion and get after it. You’ll thank me later.

  • Tip 8. Prepare

This point follows on from the previous but it’s that important it requires an extra emphasis.

In my first two years at university I did very little (if any) reading around my subject. I thought I could do enough by just cramming the week before deadlines.

The truth is that 70% of your final grade is decided by your final year. It just isn’t good odds to gamble your degree on being able to cram a year’s worth of study into the two weeks before finals.

Read around your module, challenge popular theory by offering different points of view. Again, just engage with the subject, you’ll reap the rewards both in your grades and your overall enjoyment.

  • Tip 9. Job Hunt

So you’ve put in the hard yards and you’ve got the grade you wanted. Next up is to secure that dream grad job. Truth is most the good graduate schemes start their application process quite early on in the academic year, so if you don’t want to miss the buck you best be prepared. A good place to start is by visiting recruitment popular recruitment websites, as well as The Times 100 Top Graduate Employers

With Digital Marketing being somewhat of a niche when it comes to grad schemes your going to have to do a bit of digging. Most agencies have some great internship posts, particularly if you have a language or two under your belt.

Econsultancy’s Jake Hird wrote a great article a while back which highlighted who’s investing in digital marketing grad schemes. A belter of an article and if you want to get into digital marketing then check it out.

  • Tip 10. Have Fun

Okay there’s been some hard hitters in this post. I don’t want you to think I’m all work no play. I had a great time at university, I made some great memories that I’ll never forget and have made some fantastic friends.

However would it have been worth if I chose not to study, flunked out and didn’t achieve what I went to university for in the first place? In my mind it wouldn’t have been. It’s not cool or clever to be the clown.

Enjoy yourself, study hard, and have fun, you’ll have a much better time for it come graduation when you’re celebrating your achievements with your friends and family.

Image Credit/Copyright:  hxdbzxy :123RF Stock Photo

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The Five biggest mistakes that digital marketers make with PR http://www.smartinsights.com/online-pr/online-pr-outreach/avoid-typical-pr-blunders/ http://www.smartinsights.com/online-pr/online-pr-outreach/avoid-typical-pr-blunders/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=41082 How to avoid those typical PR blunders

PR SolutionsPR, like many parts of digital marketing, can be a numbers game. You try different pitches to different publications and hope that something works. Along the way, you make mistakes and you learn from them.

Below, we’ve spelled-out five of the most standard mistakes of PR outreach so you can avoid making them.

  •  Mistake #1: Thinking news will come to you

It can be exhausting, but in order to get coverage, you need to seek it out. And today, there are more tools available than ever for low-budget, reduced-effort PR outreach campaigns.

‘Info’ and ‘tip’ lines are freely available online and more effective than you probably think, too and social platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn or software-as-service like MuckRack provide an opportunity to get in touch directly with people you might otherwise never have had access to.

Following a reporter’s social media feeds will give you a sense of their personality and what topics interest them. Re-tweets and shares may even help open some initial doors.

If you’re planning to reach out via social media, reach out through your most established account or the one most suited to the pitch.

  • Mistake #2: Reaching out with nothing to offer

The news media is a fast-paced business. In the digital age especially, the pressure on publications is to get the latest news, first, and get it out as quickly as possible.

Don’t expect that a publication will be interested in covering ‘your company,’ because your company, in and of itself, is not news. And definitely don’t reach out before you have some to deliver on the news end.

Wait until you have a newsworthy announcement to make before seeking coverage. Otherwise, you’ll just damage your credibility and hurt your chances the next time you actually do have something to work with.

What qualifies as news? Well, that varies depending on the publication and writer and what exactly your business consists of. But these are a few standard announcements every business should be looking to use as launch platforms for outreach:

  • Launches (you’re starting your business or releasing a new product)
  • Fundraising (you’ve just raised $10,000 on kickstarter)
  • Milestones (your company turns 5!, surpasses 10,000 users, gains 50,000 followers on Twitter, etc.)
  • Acquisitions (your company acquires, or is acquired by, another company)
  • Joining a cool club or receiving an award
  •  Mistake #3: Not minding your manners

A little politeness can go along way for you when your goal is to convince other people to shine a light on your business.

Again, PR is a numbers game, which means that strategy has to look forward, beyond this piece of news or this particular campaign.

Don’t become so committed to getting coverage for that one story that you squander what could be a lengthy and productive relationship down the road. Remember to always be courteous, even when the response you’ve been handed is less than ideal, or possibly rude itself.

Keep in mind that journalists are busy people, reading through more solicitations, emails, and press releases than you would ever want to. Empathize with that. Tell them, for example, ‘I understand that you might not have time to respond.’

Be persistent, but know that no amount of badgering is going to get someone to publish a story if they don’t want to on its merits, and that a good interaction will pay dividends, if not now, then in the future.

  • Mistake #4: Rushing your pitches

As much as you may feel like a machine sending out pitches all day, the reporters going over them are people.

And before those people get around to giving your press release the time of day, they’re going to read your email. It seems simple, but the best outreach email really is like the best marketing emails: personalized, cordial, brief, and professional. Professional means free of mistakes and well-mannered. Brief means no more than around five one- or two-line paragraphs.

  • Give them a succinct idea of who you are and why they should be interested.
  • Show that you took time to learn about the person and publication you’re writing to and that you’ve given some thought to how your news can fit the types of stories they aim to cover.
  • And, of course, be polite.

Here’s a quick sample of how you might go about it.

Hi Jane,

My name is Joe Shmo and I’m contacting you because I enjoyed your article on improving digital marketing ROI and thought you might be interested in a new announcement from my company, SmartInsights.

SmartInsights is a prominent digital marketing strategy blog that specializes in providing actionable, analytics-based insights to our readers.

Next week, we’ll be publishing our latest e-book, “Planning Template,” which compiles professional digital marketing templates created by our team of global experts, and will be available free on our website.

Below I’ve attached an official press release, along with pictures of the book cover and some of the chapter pages.

If you’re interested, we would be happy to offer you exclusive access to the launch story, including interviews with any of our staff and/or the authors of the e-book.

I understand that you’re busy and might not have time to respond. If not, I hope you don’t mind that I send other announcements in the future.

Please, let me know if there’s ever anything I can do to help in the course of your writing. And thanks for your attention. 

Best,
Joe Shmo
Editor-in-Chief, Smart Insights

(999)-999-9999

  • Mistake #5: Don’t ask for too much

It’s important to show that you know a journalist’s time is valuable:

  • Don’t ask open-ended questions or approach journalists with frivolous ‘just wanted to introduce myself’ emails. Come when you have something, or not at all. The internet provides plenty of forums for casual interaction, but if you’re sending an email, there should be a purpose behind it.
  • Don’t ask to meet for coffee, unless you’re already on casual speaking terms with that person. Anything you have to say or propose can be spelled out in a quick email, or it doesn’t need to be spelled out at all.
  • Don’t offer anything you’re not prepared to deliver. Don’t, for example, reach out to dozens of journalists at once with an exclusive. If they say yes, and you have to turn them down, you may never have their ear again.

Much of PR is common sense. But it’s good to hear these things over and over, because you’d be amazed at how many savvy marketers and business people make the same basic mistakes. Making sure you’re not one of them is as good a way to stand out as anything unique you might bring to the table.

Image/Copyright: OpenClipArt/cyberscooty
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Which digital role is right for you? [Infographic] http://www.smartinsights.com/managing-digital-marketing/resourcing-digital-marketing/digital-roles/ http://www.smartinsights.com/managing-digital-marketing/resourcing-digital-marketing/digital-roles/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=40996 An interactive map for your new digital marketing job role

Do you know where your digital skills and passions lie, but aren’t sure which digital marketing role to target? NeoMam Studios have produced a fun infographic to help you map out your skills with suggested roles. Although it references apprenticeships it also prompts thoughts about the right type of role for more experienced digital marketers

This will be a useful tool to use in conjunction with our recently updated Digital Marketing Job Descriptions and Roles Template to guide you through the digital jobs maze to find what is right for you or to build up a role specification for a new digital specialist in your team.

Digital Apprenticeship Infographic

As  you clickthrough you will have the chance to click onto the 4 skills at the end of your mapping and be guided through a journey to match your skills to the right job. Start the Journey by accessing NeoMam Studios’ full interactive infographic How to apply for a digital apprenticeship.

This infographic also reminded us of Simon Swan’s post from last year suggesting people working in digital marketing need a balanced range of skills defined as a T-Shaped Marketer.

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Building and structuring your content marketing team http://www.smartinsights.com/content-management/content-marketing-planning/structuring-content-marketing/ http://www.smartinsights.com/content-management/content-marketing-planning/structuring-content-marketing/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 07:05:00 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=41252 Day 3 in our 5 days to Successful Content Marketing series

content marketing team - football

In previous days in our series we have defined a vision and strategy for Content Marketing. Now, today’s the day to start thinking about who’s actually going to put all of this together. You’ll need to work out who does what in your content team, and how much time and effort you can realistically muster.

At its simplest, your content team needs to look something like this:

contentmarketingteam

All of the above roles could be resourced in different ways, depending on the scale and ambition of your operation. In some cases, several roles may be filled by one person wearing several hats; in other cases, one role may be taken by a whole team or an outsourced agency. Here are the key players:

  • The Editor sits at the heart of the operation. They decide what you talk about and when, commission work from the creators (writers/designers/video producers etc), and also decide what to leave out. They’re basically the content plan in walking, talking human form.
  • The Creators get stuff done to briefs supplied by the editor. (Remember that it’s vital to create a simple briefing form.)
  • The QA/Sub-Editor checks content for style, consistency, digital best practice, typos and so forth.
  • Your in-house experts provide the raw material for your content. They may not be client-facing, and they may not know how to write in short, snappy bullets. However, they are the guardians of your in-house expertise. Part of the Editor’s job is to cultivate relationships with the experts and find ways to gather raw material from them that can be turned into usable, shareable, search-friendly content.
  • The Managing Editor is a senior sponsor for your operation. They have enough clout to argue for the budget and resource that will enable you to maximise the returns on your content.
  • Often demonised, your stakeholders are the people who sign things off – or not – including legal, compliance, brand, SEO and more. No content marketing operation can succeed without taking their input into account. The key to stakeholder management is to educate them up front about what you’re trying to achieve and to make them part of the content creation journey from the outset, rather than see them as adversaries who come in at the end and spoil the content party. Stakeholders are people too, and they have an important job to do.

Work out who does what, how much time they’ll have available for content marketing, and decide how much content you can realistically produce per week or month.

Always start small and always underestimate what you can do. If you think 1 blog post per week, a daily tweet and a monthly white paper is about as much as you’ll be able to produce initially, that’s fine. Commit to that, make it happen and keep it going. Once you get some traction from your content, you can build the business case for more resource and more dedicated time.

Output: A simple diagram of your team structure, identifying key roles and the people who’ll be carrying them out. A brief summary of resource and minimum content output. A simple briefing form.

Case study: Indium Corp

Indium Corp manufactures soldering components. The company now runs a massive 73 different blogs, all based on targeted keyword phrases related to their industry, with the goal of creating contacts that convert.

indiumcorporationblog

According to content marketing guru Rebecca Lieb, the strategy resulted in customer contacts increasing by 600% in a single quarter. All of the blogs are written by Indium engineers, who are passionate about what they do and have the necessary expertise to talk knowledgeably to prospects.

[Editor's note: For more on structuring teams to manage multichannel marketing, see our Structuring a Digital Team template for Expert members.]

Image/Copyright:@PA Images
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3 facts you may not know about conversion funnels http://www.smartinsights.com/conversion-optimisation/conversion-optimisation-strategy/sam-green-clicktale-3-facts-may-know-conversion-funnels-aa05/ http://www.smartinsights.com/conversion-optimisation/conversion-optimisation-strategy/sam-green-clicktale-3-facts-may-know-conversion-funnels-aa05/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:00:00 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=40895 Examples and tips to improve your conversion funnel for your persona?

freewayconversionfunnelVisualizing your conversion funnels, personalizing them for your buyer personas, optimizing their CTAs, landing pages, and other elements requires knowing things you may not know and testing new concepts.

Conversion funnels are the freeway systems of website infrastructure, with landing pages as on-ramps and exit pages as off-ramps; but also with a variety of bridges, underpasses, toll booths, and traffic cameras throughout.

MarketingSherpa shocks us with the statistic that only 68% of B2B marketers have identified their funnel. And, naturally, in order to optimize your funnel and explore the things that you do not yet know about funnels, you first need to define what your funnel is.

The Basics: What is your conversion funnel?

Theoretically, your funnel is the series of steps prospects take on their journey to becoming your customers. Graphically, a conversion funnel may look like this:

conversionfunnelsamgreen

The optimist sees every step of the funnel as an opportunity to provide visitors what they need in order to progress to the next step. The pessimist sees every step as a point of divergence where visitors drop out of the funnel. The realists realize that websites typically have more than one funnel, based on different personas of visitors.

Your funnel may start from a call to action in an ad or an email. Once a user clicks that, he may be taken to a landing page. Then, he is prompted to complete a form. The form completion likely triggers a thank you page and a confirmation email.

Once you solidify your current conversion funnels, you may want to engage in optimizing your funnels, but there are a few things you probably didn’t know:

1. Funnels for Personas: Different strokes for different folks

Before you examine your funnels for optimization opportunities, you need to understand that different buyer personas need different funnels. For example, if your site targets young college students for its low-cost subscription and upper-middle class professionals for its premium services, you will find that each persona requires different steps toward becoming a loyal paying customer and advocate.

An eager (and often unexperienced) young buyer may progress quicker through a funnel toward a low-cost option; while a seasoned executive may need more proof, comparisons, analyses, and reports before making a decision to purchase an expensive subscription.

2. The Calls to Action: are yours optimized?

In tracking and monitoring calls to action, we have found certain indicators for success.

A short disclaimer is in order, however, because what works for one persona may not be a fit for another. What is effective for each industry, product, price point, traffic source, etc. needs to be tested to find the optimal solution.

In general, to be effective, calls to actions should be:

  • Short and clear. 2-5 words is the optimal length.
  • Urgent, descriptive, and action oriented. Typically, ‘Download Today’ or ‘Sign Up Now’ work better than ‘Download the free guide to learn how to write urgent calls to action’ or ‘If you don’t sign up today, you are missing out.’
  • Stand out. Graphically, use colors that contrast with the rest of the page. And make sure the CTA is large, bold, and in a prominent position to be noticed at the time the user is ready to convert.

A great example comes from Wix.com:

wixlandingpage

Captured from: http://www.wix.com/html5webbuilder/400-landingpage

As you can see in this example, the CTA button uses short and clear text: Start Now. It is urgent and explains exactly what the button will do. The yellow color of the button immediately draws a user’s attention and invites him to click.

Another great example for the United Airlines credit card:

unitedairlinecreditcard

Captured from: https://www.theexplorercard.com/30kAFW

3.  Optimizing Landing Pages

Volumes can be written (and have been!) about the optimization of landing pages alone. Instead or reinventing the wheel, we will just point out some things you probably didn’t know about landing page optimization.

  • Videos help

Conversions can be increased by 86% by using video on landing pages, according to EyeView.

  • Personalization is important

Anvil Media reports that Axway increased ROI over 291% with custom landing pages and tests for each of their PPC ad groups with dynamically generated keyword-specific content on the pages.

  • Don’t forget mobile

Deluxe increased conversions by 153% by using a mobile-optimized version of their desktop landing page, according to Ion Interactive.

  • People power

In a study led by Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan, tests were run for bank campaigns in which short term loans were offered at different interest rates and with different images. The amazing results showed that a picture of a wholesome, happy woman had ‘as much positive impact on the response rate as dropping the interest rate by four percentage points.’ These images, often referred to as ‘hero shots,’ have a great effect on conversions.

  • Reviews offer a lift

Further studies show that reviews and customer testimonials add trust and lift conversions. When comparing the impact of branded content, expert content, and user reviews on items costing $399 or less,

Nielsen found that intent to purchase is strongest after reading a user review. Econsultancy found that 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, consumer reviews are trusted nearly 12 times more than manufacturers’ descriptions, and that reviews produce an average 18% uplift in sales.

Remember: It’s your Conversion Funnel!

Studies have been conducted. Statistics have been published. Best practices have been established. But the most important things about your conversion funnels can only be uncovered by testing, optimizing, and re-testing your conversion funnels.

As we alluded to above, what works for one (or even for most) may not work in your particular case. For example, there is a possibility that hero shots won’t be effective in your funnel or that the yellow CTA that works so well for Wix and United just isn’t right for your visitors.

The only way to know for sure is to take these common best practices, apply them to your own initiatives and test the results on your funnels. Do more visitors merge onto your conversion funnel freeway with each change? Or do your exits beckon them?

Your conversion funnels are just that: yours. And to reap the most reward from them, you must test, optimize, and re-test them for yourself.

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Define how content marketing will add to your brand http://www.smartinsights.com/content-management/content-marketing-planning/define-content-marketing-branding/ http://www.smartinsights.com/content-management/content-marketing-planning/define-content-marketing-branding/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 07:45:00 +0000 http://www.smartinsights.com/?p=41243 Day 2 in our 5 days to Successful Content Marketing Series

content marketing megaphoneYesterday I introduced our mini series by reviewing the key content marketing strategy questions.  Today’s advice is all about working out how your brand and business offering can extend into a content proposition. What kind of content can you credibly create, and how can this content support your business goals?

Think of a classic sales funnel, such as AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action). Your content marketing activity will typically be most valuable around the Attention and Interest top end, where search and social tend to be the key triggers of engagement.

So ask yourself: what kind of content can we create that the people we’re trying to reach might care about, or be prepared to offer a click or an email address for? For a quick answer to this, consider:

  • What expert knowledge do we sit on? What do we know more about than anyone else?
  • What kind of questions are people searching for that we can provide credible answers to?

Start by coming up with a few search terms related to your area of expertise. Google them and look at related searches in any of the free keyword planner tools. Look on forums and social sites where you might find the kind of people you want to reach. What are they talking about? What do they want to know about? Where could you step in and add value?

With a bit of thinking along these lines you can start to turn your business offering into a content proposition. All we need here is a simple content mission statement that turns what you do into what you can credibly talk about.

So a commercial bakery chain makes and distributes pastries, but its content proposition could be ‘everything you need to know about down-to-earth baking’. A stationery supplier to SMEs might go for ‘ways to improve the productivity and atmosphere of your office life’. A sports gear manufacturer might focus on ‘helping you achieve peak performance in your chosen sport’, while a virtual office specialist might choose ‘the changing workplace of the future’ as their content specialism. You get the idea.

The statement might include information about your target audience (eg small businesses), what you’ll be delivering content-wise (eg tips, advice, resources) and what the outcome is for your audience (eg a more productive, happier workplace). But keep it simple, get everyone to buy into it, and use it to filter ideas – if a content idea doesn’t sit well with the mission statement, it’s not the right idea for you.

Output: A simple one-line content mission statement that you can stick up on the wall for all to see.

Case study of how content marketing can support a brand: Louis E. Page

Louis E. Page is a family-owned fencing and mesh company that sells a variety of products, from garden fences to specialised material for zoos. It’s Fence Post blog has a distinctive tone of voice and is focused on answering customer questions. Thanks to this, it has gained over 2000 leads from organic search, over a much wider and more diverse base, in a single year.

Fencepostgopherproblemlouispage

Read the full Hubspot case study here http://www.hubspot.com/customers/louis-e-page

Image/Copyright:@PA Images
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