Be genuine or don’t bother

If you are on LinkedIn, you have probably received an email that starts with something like “Hi Scott, I was browsing Linked-in and wanted to reach out to you.”emailfail

Sure, the mistyped “Linked-in” is a signal this is probably not worth reading but it looks good compared to what follows. The email goes on to introduce the seller, their company and what they do. Not bad, but if you’re writing me because of something you saw while browsing LinkedIn, why not open with what about my profile caught your eye while browsing? At least then I might wonder what you offer that has something to do with something about me or my business.

It gets worse. The description of the company and its products or services is fine. Except that it clearly isn’t anything I have any need for at all. I was selected for this message because the sender was browsing on LinkedIn? Really? While browsing, did you read or just look at the pictures?
Continue reading “Be genuine or don’t bother”

More evidence that you need video in your marketing

image of video for marketing
Syndacast’s “Video Marketing Statistics and Trends 2015” report concludes that 74% of internet traffic will be video in 2017. It also found that more than half of marketers worldwide now report that video marketing has the best ROI. Lots more convincing statistics in their infographic.

Interestingly, video isn’t just good on its own. Syndacast also found that using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%.

Meanwhile, Guillaume Delloue (@willthefrench) has a guest blog on Hubspot with some great suggestions of how to use produced video early in the sales cycle and live video later in the sales cycle to increase conversions.

Are you using video in your marketing yet? Need help getting started? Lewis Studios can help.

Your business v. the business of digital marketing

I met with a prospective client this morning. This client is a sole proprietor who makes many other people’s lives better through health and wellness services. Her coaching and calm, quiet leadership help people become more fit and less stressed. Yes, she is a yoga instructor.

In thinking through a marketing program for new services she is launching I was reminded that many small businesses aren’t in the business of digital marketing. They are in the business of whatever their product or service offers their customers. To read any modern marketing advice, you’d think they all have to become expert in social media, video marketing, SEO, SEM, Adwords, email marketing and digital display ads. They should spend more time each day cultivating the digital relationship with their market than on their actual business. Or they should spend a fortune on an agency who does all of this for them and who, somehow, manages to osmose the business person’s subject matter expertise.

There are books and books that profess to make it easy and allow you to do any of these things in “an hour a day”. Yet when you add up the single hours for each category, you end up with a full work day of nothing but digital marketing and social media. When does the business fit in?

My approach with this client was, not surprisingly, analytics centric. This business cannot afford to do it all and it is questionable whether every path would yield value. So we’ll start small. A basic website that can capture email addresses and offer value through content. Traditional ads in print in the local area with CTAs that land on the website with tracking codes or landing URLs so we can see what works and what doesn’t and adjust the plan. A predictable, if infrequent, email campaign that offers tips and sustains mindshare, again with measurement. Asking real customers where they would expect to see this business online leading to a basic presence on one social media channel to start. Smart use of words in all content for SEO value with measurement so that when we can afford the time to invest in SEM, we have a well-informed starting point. And more non-digital marketing such as free trial classes for employees from major companies in the area and word of mouth through existing clients.

In a variation on “measure twice, cut once” or “if you can’t afford to do it right the first time, when will you ever have time to do it again”, I found myself advocating for measurement from the get-go. Analytics isn’t easy for a non-technical small businessperson. They may have to pay for help. The time and or money invested in measurement is a powerful guide to directing the rest of their marketing investments to optimal outcomes and they can’t afford to spend unwisely — with their time or their money. The familiar mantra of experiment, measure, experiment, measure and so on and so on fits small businesses too. They might just be testing serially where a large company could afford the people or budget to test more things in parallel.

Why is better than which

With our intense focus on analytics, experiments, A/B testing and big data, we’re living in rich times as far as data driven, continuous improvement of marketing. Yet most of us would agree that marketing is both art and science. If we know one version of an ad works better than another by looking at the analytics data, can we say for sure why?

Surely knowing why one ad performs better than another will accelerate our ability to generate the greatest result, the fastest in the future, right? When analytics tells us which is the winner, shouldn’t we take the time to explore why?

I was pondering this very question today and it occurred to me that a classic ad critique might be a good way to document what is truly different between the ads. Not just the apparent wording, graphic, color theme or placement differences, but, rather, the broader marketing differences. By comparing two ads for target, objectives, content, primary benefit, image and creative execution, it may become more obvious what is really different and why one worked better than the other. This is as applicable to a landing page as it is to an online ad, paid search placement or inbound marketing content item.

Don’t throw random acts of marketing at your experiments, use decided alternative approaches so you can learn more about your market’s preferences, interests, sources, needs and responses.

Who are you attracting?

Searching for information on digital marketing might leave you with the impression that the point is to generate as much traffic as possible. That may be true if you’re marketing a consumer product with a target market of, well, everyone. What if you’re a business marketing to other businesses in a narrow category of products or services? The answer is widely shared but, oddly, rarely stated in the negative. Many inbound marketing and content marketing experts and vendors promote knowing your audience and targeting them precisely with both your marketing selections (pyscho-demo-geo graphics, placements, etc.) and your content (writing for someone is more powerful than writing for everyone).

Should your content purposely drive away visitors that are not your target market though? Some say no because you never know who may become a prospect. If your offering has sufficiently broad potential uses, then you may well want to be inclusive. If your product or service is for very specific buyers for very specific uses it is worth considering how you can use content to qualify prospects in and others out. For one thing, you don’t want to pay for paid search or digital advertising clicks from non-buyers. Equally important, you want to develop a relationship with target buyers through conversation in their language, with examples of customers like them, for uses like theirs. Content that specific will inevitably leave others out as they fail to find themselves and their needs in your content. The alternative of making your content so broad that it invites more visitors in but leaves them unsatisfied when they get there is not a great way to win conversions and sales.

When you evaluate your traffic through analytic data, are there signs that your content strategy may need adjustment? Analytics can’t tell you in quantifiable terms. You need to compare different content with your knowledge of meaning. Experiment, measure, adjust, repeat. Does more specific content consistently have greater engagement than broader content with your audience all else being equal? Do two ads that lead to the same landing page draw equal traffic but very different bounce rates and conversions? What’s different about the ads?