Our Latest Blogs

Our Solutions News Blog was envisioned to gather and share information from the very best to help you and your business to become more effective.

One key part of being a great marketer is understanding how people think and knowing why they act the way they do. 10 principals.
Which Social Network Should You Advertise On? Social media advertising is a great tactic to use to supplement your print advertising.
More Market Share

More Market Share (36)

Get Some Social Savvy - It's Not Magic

It also won’t make your marketing program successful, and it certainly won’t drive revenue either. That is — if it’s not integrated into an existing business ecosystem that, ahem, works.

What social media can do is amplify almost any area of your business: customer acquisition, customer marketing, support, PR, HR, business intelligence, sales, and most other business areas you can think of. But mapping social activities to business goals doesn’t happen magically. And while social can certainly help these areas, it’s not going to fix what’s already broke.

Social media is not magic

For example, if your customer care is terrible, hanging out your shingle on Twitter specifically for customer service is not going to solve your organizational problem. In fact, it might expose more faults than it mitigates. If your marketing strategy is nothing more than a program designed to offer tired discounts, then posting those tired discounts on Facebook is not going to make them any more special or exciting.

Another myth is that just by developing and maintaining an engaged community, companies can drive revenue. Think of an engaged community as the supports of your bridge. In order to reach your goals you must build upon that foundation. An engaged community alone will not get you to your goal.

Often there is a BIG disconnect in businesses between the idea and the desired result, as if having a huge amount of Facebook fans will magically put dollars in the bank.

Social media is not a one (or two) trick pony

To be fair, social media can be confusing because it’s often playing several roles simultaneously. It’s kind of like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time because you have to keep the steady drumbeat of content and community management while creating campaigns and programs specifically aimed at meeting a goal.

When people talk about “doing” social media, most often they’re referring to the functions of community management. In essence, community management is the deliberate development of a relationship between a brand and its customers and prospects on a social media channel. At its most basic level, the goals of community management are to:

  1. Increase audience size
  2. Drive socially-visible engagement actions
  3. Grow trust, loyalty, and even love (or at least affection) for a brand

Can’t buy me love

Sure you can buy Facebook fans and spend lots of money on advertising, but that only buys you exposure, not loyalty or affection. Like any solid relationship, it will take time, persistence, charm, and a deep understanding of your audience for all that effort to pay off.

It also takes a community manager who not only knows your business inside and out, but also has a deep understanding of the technology and tools at their disposal and how specific types of content drive specific engagement “love metrics.”

Community management is hard. It takes time, resources, and a bit of trial and error to get it just right. You also can’t immediately measure business results.

So why do it?

  • When you’re building your community, you’re laying the groundwork for a referral engine
  • You’re staying top of mind and putting money in the bank against mistakes or bad publicity (“brand insurance”)
  • You’re creating a channel where you can quickly and easily communicate news and announcements
  • You’re adding value to your business by delivering relevant information to your audience
  • You’re cultivating a space where customers can quickly and easily get their questions answered and their problems resolved — and your business gets to show off how responsive you are to your customers’ needs
  • You’re creating a forum where you can learn about your customers preferences and needs
  • You’re developing a network that connects with millions of other networks
  • Most importantly, you’re creating the conditions to let your customers do your marketing for you

There’s no amount of marketing you can do or money you can spend that will equal the recommendation of friend.

Effective, well-supported community management is a long-tail investment. You may not see the “return” on it for months or even a year, but like any good thing, it’s worth investing in and waiting on because of its potential power. The trick is to nail the community management piece down and then layer in specific business drivers appropriate for the channel.

Source: Constant Contact

B2B Informantion Seeker Rely on Print

According to American Business Media’s “Value of B-to-B” report, B2B information seekers continue to rely on print as a source for industry related content and publishers report that print remains a key source of revenue, nearly a third say they expect to cut their print ad budgets in the next 12 months.
Key findings from the report, which aims to quantifying the role of the B2B information and media industry in the buyer-seller relationship:

  • Print magazines and websites are the top B2B media for reaching decision makers with industry related content:

Q: How often do you use the following information sources for industry-related content?
Print – 96%
Websites – 96%
Manufacturer product info – 93%
E-newsletters – 92%
Trade Shows – 80%
Print newsletters – 76%
Digital replicas of print newsletters – 69%
Mobile optimized web sites – 56%
Social media – 54%
Mobile apps – 51%

  • B2B users are not making either/or decisions in their use of media. Three-quarters (74%) of respondents say they rely on both digital and traditional media to learn tips/best practices and to gain valuable information they can use in their work.
  • Nearly 7 out of 10 (68%) say they spend more time with industry-related print publications than with mainstream business or consumer print publications.
  • Websites (73%), e-newsletters (67%), and print magazines (45%) are the most common B2B content sources accessed on a weekly basis.
  • Websites (65%), manufacturer product info (62%), and print magazines (48%) are the top 3 resources for decision-makers researching work-related purchases.
  • Nearly all (95%) of B2B media users think that websites will remain important to their jobs, or grow in relevance, over the next five years. The majority (61%) thinks that print magazines will stay constant or grow in importance over the next five years.
  • Compared to other information sources, B2B publishers say print advertising generates the largest share of revenue.
  • While publishers report that print remains a key source of revenue, 32% say they expect to cut their print ad budgets.
  • Search engine, mobile, and e-newsletter ads are among the budget areas B2B marketers expect to increase in the next 12 months (45%, 43%, 41% increases respectively).
  • As stated by ABM “these data points reveal a disconnect between marketers and end-users: marketers are moving away from print media, but our research suggests readers are not, at least not at the pace advertising is leaving print.”
  • Nearly 9 in 10 respondents rank trade events as the top tactic for creating awareness and generating leads.
  • Many who use smartphone for business would engage with industry content more if publishers:
    • Offered an optimized version of their website – 75%
    • Offered a digital version of their magazine at no additional cost – 73%
    • Enhanced their digital magazines with interactivity (e.g.. video, audio) – 63%
  • Media consumers who use mobile devices are more enthusiastic about all forms of B2B media, including print and events, compared with non-mobile users. 87 percent of the heavy mobile group engages with the trade press in print, online, or digitally once per day; only 47% of non-mobiles do so.

About: Three separate surveys were conducted online by Readex Research between March 11 - April 12, 2013). The polls were created by ABM with advisement from research sponsor Adobe Systems, marketer organizations ANA and IBSA, and several partner media companies. Respondents: 6,682 media end-users (readers, event attendees, etc.) responded to the user poll. 111 publishing professionals and 74 marketers responded to the publishing and advertising polls. Results were cross-tabulated in 11 vertical categories, with the most responses in the retail, building construction, utilities, and healthcare verticals.

Source: Print in The Mix

Mobile Stats

All it takes is one look around the office or the coffee shop and you’ll see face after face buried in their smartphone or tablet.

Mobile device usage is sky-rocketing. But how many people actually own smartphones? What percentage of email is opened on mobile?

Here are 3 mobile stats that you need:

1.) 133.7 million people in the U.S. currently own a smartphone.

According to comScore’s latest report on the U.S. smartphone market, 133.7 million people owned smartphones as of February 2013. Not only is that number huge, but it’s growing. That number is up 8 percent since November 2012 alone, and it now represents 57 percent of the entire mobile phone market.

A few years ago, it was rare to find someone with a phone that could access email: now it’s the norm.

2.) 43 percent of email is opened on a mobile device.

Not only do many people now own smartphones, but many of are using these devices to check their email. In March 2013, 43 percent of all email was opened on a mobile device, according to Litmus. But that number alone doesn’t tell the whole story. For some comparison, mobile opens were at just 10 percent in 2011 — that’s an incredible 330 percent change. And while mobile opens are skyrocketing, desktop opens are going in the exact opposite direction — down 44 percent over the same time period.

3.) 58 percent of marketers say that mobile will affect their email marketing in the next 12 months.

What’s the top item that will affect email over the next year according to marketers in surveyed in MarketingSherpa’s 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark report? ... Mobile.

58 percent of marketers indicated that smartphones and tablets will have the greatest impact on email over the next year, even ahead of social media. How will it affect their emails? Instead of designing emails for large screens, marketers will need to design emails for fingers and thumbs.
What does this mean for you?

All of these stats make it very clear that email is no longer limited to desktops or laptops. This means that you need to create emails that look great no matter where they will be read — on a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. In the email marketing world, we call these mobile-friendly emails.

Sound complicated?

It’s not. It’s actually a lot easier than you might think and you don’t even need any fancy tech skills. Here are 5 Simple Tips for Mobile-Friendly Emails.

Source: Constant Contact - Fresh Insights

Market Your Small Business

Famed author Mark Twain once said, “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

But advertising can be expensive, and in a tight economy, many small businesses cut their marketing budgets first because of cash flow concerns. However, when times are tough, it’s even more important to keep your business brand front and center.

During an economic downturn, clients, customers, and consumers have less money to spend. This means that when they’re ready to buy, you want your brand to be at the top of their list. Social media is undoubtedly one of the most effective and affordable ways to engage your customers and keep your brand top-of-mind, but it’s not the only way. Here are ten tried and true marketing strategies that can help you market your business on a shoestring budget.

1. Craft an elevator pitch
You should be marketing all the time — wherever you are. Therefore, you need a compelling elevator pitch. Research shows the average attention span of an adult is about 6 to 8 seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention. If you successfully engage them, then you only have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service. Invest the time to craft a killer elevator pitch. The return on your investment will pay huge dividends in terms of creating business opportunities.

2. Leverage your community
You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. What’s going on in your community? Sponsor a Little League team or a 5k charity walk/run. Print bookmarks and leave them at the local library. Get to know your ideal customer and think about how and where they spend their time. Then search for opportunities to get in front of your customer with your marketing message.

3. Collaborate
Put together a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to cross-promote. You can use coupons, fliers, reciprocal website links, bundled promotions or social media platforms.(Okay, I had to add a little bit of social media to the mix.) By collaborating with each other, you can expand your customer base because you’ll be reaching new people.

4. Network
I’m a huge fan of networking. I don’t think there is any better way to build a business than to get out there, shake some hands, and get to know people. Networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network is one of the greatest assets any business person can have.

5. Give a speech
A lot of people hate public speaking. However, there are many organizations looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Take a deep breath and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience. And the upside — the more you do it the easier it gets. Plus, it positions you as a credible authority in your field.

6. Create buzz
I started my corporate career in the field of public relations and the business has changed significantly because of technology. Today, a small business owner can accomplish a lot without hiring a professional firm. Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out  www.helpareporter.com. You can respond to reporters’ queries that are looking for story ideas and resources. Some are small media opportunities, but others are major media outlets that use this service too.

7. Ask for referrals
Don’t be shy about asking for customer referrals. The majority of people say they are willing to provide a referral if asked, but very few take the initiative to do it on their own. Referrals make it easier to get in the door with new customers. If you aren’t asking for them, you are missing opportunities.

8. Build relationships
It is a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by launching an email campaign. Make your communications informative and helpful — something your customers will look forward to receiving. Social media campaigns are another way to keep the communication channel open (and there I go again.)

9. Offer coupons
Coupons are a good way for many businesses to attract new customers. Research shows that people will go out of their way to use a coupon, proving that this method is successful in expanding your customer base. Coupons can also generate return visits. For example, if you give a customer a coupon for a discount to use on future business, there’s a high probability they’ll be back.

10. Give it away
If someone has the opportunity to experience your product or service, chances are they will want to purchase more. Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or a sample. In today’s economy, people are more comfortable purchasing something they have been able to experience first.

These ten, inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage customers, build relationships, and ultimately keep your brand top-of-mind. It’s not always about the money you have to spend on marketing, it’s about the time and effort you put into it and above all, the relevance it has for your customers.

Source: Constant Contact - Fresh Insights

B2B Content Marketing

June 2013 -- With content marketing on the rise, the CMO Council conducted a study of B2B content seekers’ information gathering attitudes, such as what they are seeking from B2B content and the characteristics most valued.

The study found B2B buyers are “turned off by self-serving, irrelevant, over-hyped and overly technical content. They’re migrating to peer-based communities and new sources of trusted, relevant and credible content and conversation.”


Characteristics Most Valued in B2B Content:

  • Breadth and depth of information (47%)
  • Ease of access, understanding, and readability (44%)
  • Originality of thinking and ideas (39%)

Characteristics most disliked in B2B content:

  • Too many requirements for download (50%)
  • Blatantly promotional and self-serving (43%)
  • Non-substantive and uninformed (34%)

B2B content most valued and trusted:

  • Professional association research reports/whitepapers (67%)
  • Industry group research reports/whitepapers (50%)
  • Customer case studies (48%)
  • Analyst reports and whitepapers (44%)
  • Independent product reviews (40%)
  • Only 9% said they trust vendor content

B2B content sources that are most valuable in shaping purchase decisions:

  • Professional associations and online communities (47%)
  • Industry organizations and groups (46%)
  • Online trade publications (41%)
  • Seminars and workshops (41%)
  • Trade shows (35%)

Additional findings:

  • The majority of B2B content consumers say that online content has a major (27%) or moderate (60%) impact on their vendor selection.
  • Email is the most common method used for sharing online content.
  • Although PCs are the most popular devices used for accessing content (68%), a significant of respondents use smartphones (41%) and tablets (30%) to access content.

About: The data is based on a recent survey of more than 400 B2B content seekers around the world, conducted by the CMO Council’s Content ROI Center and distributed by NetLine Corporation’s global content syndication network. Some 41 percent of respondents came from companies with more than $100 million in revenues, and half held titles of director and above. Two-thirds said they had influence on key purchasing decisions or final purchase-making authority.

Source:  CMO Council, Print in the Mix

Why Social Media

As a savvy inbound marketer, you already know that social media is a must-have in your marketing strategy. You’ve spent time looking at what channels work best for your company, creating the best content you can for those outlets, and aligning the social media goals to the business' bottom line. You live and breathe social media every day on the job.

But that's not true for everyone else in your organization. Not everyone is sold on the importance of social media -- never mind manage their own presence. What about that VP down the hall with tons of killer industry knowledge or that executive you know who spends hours talking to customers? These executives may not be active in social media just yet, but they should be.

This is where you come in. If you think there are executives in your company who could add credibility to what you’re already doing, it’s time to get them on board.

Why Should Your C-Suite Be in Social Media?

Often, executives may feel like there's not much for them to do in social media. They hired a social media manager to watch over the company's presence, so why would they need to be in social media as well? Though some executives at your company may have already made up their minds about their social media participation (or lack thereof), it's incredibly important to have them in social media.

Having a presence in social media gives executives the opportunity to stay relevant with industry trends, engage with your prospects and customers, and show that they stand by and believe in your brand. By not listening and participating in social media, executives are missing out on numerous opportunities to improve your business. And ultimately, growing your business is every executive's objective.

How to Get Your Executive Team in Social Media

Getting executives in social media isn't as simple as signing up for a Twitter handle and asking them to tweet. Instead, you've got to be strategic if you want to get on board. By following these five steps, you can develop a socially savvy executive team.

1) Pick the right executives for the job.

Not every executive is ready to dive headfirst into social media -- and that's okay. Instead of proclaiming that all executives must start tweeting immediately, start off with a select few that you know would be successful in social media if you were to show them the ropes. Think about who would be a good advocate for your brand and have the potential to be a thought leader. Also, see how active they are in social media already. You may want to check out LinkedIn first to see who’s active already, since executives prefer LinkedIn to any other social site. This will give you a good indication of who to approach about helping build your brand in social media.

After you understand who’s been up to what, it’s time to think about your approach. Asking an executive who isn’t that familiar with Twitter or Facebook to jump right in isn’t going to work. First, they need to get an understanding of what's happening on social media for your brand.

2) Show them why they should care.

While 90% of business executives say that social media tools are important for brand awareness and company reputation, that doesn’t mean they're personally doing anything about it. This might be because they think they don’t have anything to add, they don’t know what to say, or they aren’t really in the loop with the happenings in social media at your company.

Here's your golden opportunity to show off what your company is doing and form a plan for what the executives could be doing, too. Invite the executives you identified in step one to a meeting to give them an overview of how your company uses social media and how it’s affecting the rest of the business.

When you meet, bring numbers that those in the room care about. If your goal is to get a seasoned VP of Sales involved in social media, you’ll probably want to show them how many leads social media generates for your company a month. For a VP of Sales, leads = perked ears. Figure out what gets each executive excited about being in social media, and be sure to highlight it for them.

3) Let the benefits get personal.

This is probably where to expect some pushback. I can hear it now: “But why do I have to be involved? Didn't we hire a social media manager to handle this?"

You want these questions. You’re ready for these questions. Now that you’ve shown the executives what the company is doing, you can show them how their social presence fits into the overall social media team effort.

You can prepare for these questions by giving them concrete reasons for participation: Based on a recent social media survey by BRANDfog, executive social media engagement creates brand transparency (score!). It makes a brand seem more honest and trustworthy (win!). And, it makes executives better communicators overall (bonus!). Make sure they understand exactly what they will get out of this new experience -- you'll be much more likely to get them on board.

4) Set them up for success.

So they're up for the challenge -- now it’s time for them to get down to business. If they’re hesitant to jump in headfirst, offer to get them all set up and give them a demo of what to do. At this point, you’ll know how much handholding is necessary for each executive -- use your judgment. There’s a balance between relying solely on executives' intuition and independence and losing them in the noisy crowd.

If they need help getting started, give them a couple of ideas of what to do. Maybe you come to the table with some sample content they could share or people to follow. Suggest some goals for them to aim for each week (X tweets, X Facebook posts, etc.). If you're a HubSpot customer, maybe set up a dedicated email alert in your Social Inbox. However you decide to start, make sure the task is fairly easy. The beginning is always the hardest and you don't want your executive team to be discouraged right off the bat.

5) Maintain momentum by checking in periodically.

At this stage, you’ve done some serious work getting your executives up and running. You’ve explained your company’s social strategy, the benefits of executive involvement, and the steps to get involved on those channels. You’ve given them all the tools they need to become socially savvy.

To keep up momentum, schedule regular check-ups with the executives. Show them some results from their social media efforts and identify what’s working and what’s not. Real-life examples and metrics are a must here, especially when you have data available to track conversions of current leads and customers through social media.

It may be a slow start, but every step is a step forward. Make future plans to keep the conversation going. One possible idea is to schedule a monthly get-together to talk about social media news and how they could integrate that into what they’re doing. Managing a social media presence isn't a one-and-done effort -- it needs constant evaluation and planning to maintain and grow.

Eventually, you’ll find the rhythm that works best for your company. Creating a socially savvy executive team doesn’t happen overnight. But with the right approach, you may start to change the way your executive team thinks about social media. And who knows -- maybe one day, your CEO will want to take over Twitter for the day.

Source: HubSpot

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 12:52

Facebook & Business

Facebook and Business - Getting Started

The time has passed when Facebook was a "good idea" for businesses to try. It's now essential to your inbound marketing strategy. Thing is, Facebook keeps changing how to set up Facebook business pages -- both on the large scale with the rollout of Facebook Timeline, and on a smaller scale with new features that are rolling out all the time.

Don't waste another day poking around aimlessly on Facebook, trying to figure out what the heck to do to get your Timeline up and running like a social networking pro. This post will break it down so literally anyone -- novices and experts alike -- can set up their brand's Facebook Timeline 100% correctly. Either follow this step-by-step [video tutorial], or read the full article [here] to get your business on Facebook today.

Source: Hubspot

Offline Ads Preferred

The latest annual AdReaction study, focusing on consumer opinions and perceptions of advertising, finds that even in this digital-centric climate, U.S. consumers are likely to view offline media ads most favorably -- with TV viewed positively by 49% of respondents, followed by magazine ads (41%), and newspaper ads (40%).

The 2012 study finds the most positive attitudes towards digital ads are for opt-in email ads, which 28% of respondents find very or somewhat favorable. Social media and mobile advertising rank towards the bottom at 13% and 9%, respectively.

Examining changes in attitudes towards advertising formats between 2009 and 2012, the traditional media types with the most positive favorability changes: newspapers (+6) and radio (+6). The only upticks for digital favorability are for mobile (+2) and non-opt-in email (+2).  All other forms of digital media lost favorability points with Americans, led by social media (-8), online video (-6) and online search (-5).

The global study was conducted using qualitative/quantitative methodologies across 18 countries, with a total of more than 6,000 interviews. The U.S. subset findings represent quanitative data only.

Sources: Print in the Mix & Millard Brown, AdReaction

Page 3 of 3