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By: Heidi Bullock Posted: March 24, 2016 | Modern Marketing Earlier this week, the big marketing technology (MarTech) conference swept through San Francisco, giving marketers and technologists a sense of new and upcoming solutions, and what technologies are truly standing the test of time. Every year when this time rolls around, I personally really look forward to Scott Brinker’s updated Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic. And every year, as I look at the graphic and sift through the landscape, I go through a series of emotions (and this year was no exception, with the number of MarTech solutions now reaching 3,874): Excitement: Wow, this is a beautiful visualization of tech geek nirvana. I love it! Look at all of these new companies with interesting new offerings. And Scott has done a great job of categorizing the thousands of companies in a very elegant and organized way. Pride: MarTech is real. Marketing has come a long way and I’m so proud that this area of business is getting the investment and attention it deserves. Several years ago, this would have looked like a few green peas on a big white plate, but today, it’s a satisfying meal–complete with mints when you are done eating. Panic: Dear God, do I really need to know about all of these companies? Am I an incompetent marketer if I am not using all of the “latest and greatest”? How is my budget going to support another tool–and who on my team is going to run this thing? These concerns are real. It’s hard enough to come into the office every day and work on your day-to-day tasks, but more and more, marketers are challenged with being a technical landscape aficionado on top of it–and this is coming from someone who loves it! Calm, Cool and Collected: Okay, stay cool. I have got this and I need to chill out. It’s easy to get stuck in any one stage of the emotional journey, it’s critical to keep moving forward. While an entire book could be written on how to make sense of all of the MarTech solutions, let’s keep things simple for the purpose of this blog. Follow these three steps to navigate the ever-evolving MarTech landscape: 1. Build a Solid Foundation It’s critical to have a few core solutions that represent the foundation of your ‘house’. A good way to think about this is to understand what will be your source of truth or system of record for your key functions. For many companies, this is often your marketing automation systems, customer database/CRM and content management system (CMS) . This is an obvious point, but make sure you put energy and thought into this blueprint. The tools you put in place here are critical to getting set up correctly. For example, understand your data flow, rules, and data hygiene processes. Understand APIs and what is truly out-of-the box versus needing to bring in a team to complete your integration. It’s also helpful to connect with other companies similar to your own to see what they have done right and wrong–essentially, learn from their successes and mistakes. 2. Understand Where You Are and Where You’re Going You need to know what the current state of your business is and where you plan to go. The majority of businesses are trying to grow–so make sure you consider this as you evaluate new solutions. It’s critical to think about tools that will grow with you, so you don’t have to rip-and-replace every other year. Some solutions are excellent for a small businesses, but then reach real limitations quickly. Another important lens is understanding needs versus wants. What is mission-critical for your business? If customer marketing and referrals are important, you may need software to drive advocacy. Or, if this is in your future, build your stack knowing this could be an addition for next year. 3. Avoid a ‘Frankenstack’ Some of you might have seen what’s commonly referred to as a “Frankenstack”, a set of individual siloed tools that an organization tries to get to work together and ultimately results in a hot mess. It can happen to the best marketers, and it often happens because of rapid growth and a lack of planning or impulsive decisions (“Hey we can use it here!”). It is painful for IT, and it is painful for marketers. When this occurs, it is often more time consuming and expensive to fix. The key here is to have a plan, involve IT, and be honest about the resources you need to maintain and manage the solutions. This thoughtfulness will save a lot of grief in the future. The ever-evolving sea of MarTech solutions can be overwhelming, but with the right plan in place, you can understand how to evaluate new solutions and avoid being swept away by “shiny new objects”. Have you checked out the new Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic? What other tips do you have for evaluating these solutions for the best fit for your business?
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By: Daniel Tolliday Posted: March 3, 2016 | Content Marketing If you ever find yourself banging your head on the keyboard wondering why there are so few hours in the day to produce content; don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Content marketing is an important part of a strategic marketing mix, building brand awareness, establishing thought leadership, elevating your messaging, and engaging your audience. But content takes time to produce and get out into the world. Sometimes, it can all come down to the way you manage your team and the content they produce. So, use this blog as a guide to speed up your editorial process without compromising the quality of your content. Let’s get into the five ways you can speed up your content editorial process: 1. Set Predefined Roles Within Your Content Team Whether you’re working with an internal team or external freelancers, it is critical for you to define specific roles for each process and determine who does what. If there’s only one person planning the calendar, producing all the content, and measuring its effectiveness–it’s likely that you’ll fall behind and that person will get worn out. This doesn’t mean that one team member can’t be used for more than one role; it just depends on your budget and resources. For example, your analytics manager may be able to write content about marketing analytics or your social media listener might have awesome design skills that you can leverage. Below are some common roles associated with content marketing teams: Content Strategy Director/Content Strategist: This is where it all begins. The director or content strategist is often someone high up in your organization that is experienced in digital marketing strategy. They will have created your content strategy and now it’s up to your content team to follow through and implement it. Production and Editorial Management Content Manager: Often called the ‘Content Marketing Manager’ or ‘Chief Content Officer’, content managers are responsible for overseeing the entire process–from start to finish. When an organization implements content marketing into their arsenal, the content manager is usually the first person hired. Managing Editor: The role of the managing editor is quite diverse and they often wear multiple hats. A typical day might involve editing several pieces of content, managing writers, and even working with the content manager to plan and update the content calendar. Social Media Listener: How is your content performing on social media? Your social media listener will be able to tell you. Whether they’re using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, they will provide you with regular reports detailing how your content is performing on social media. Analytics Manager: Working closely with the social media listener, analytics managers help measure the effectiveness of content once it is published. They play a key role in proving the ROI of your content marketing activities and should have solid data and website analytics abilities. Content Production Content Writers: Whether they’re internal writers or external contractors, the number of content producers you need will depend on the quantity of content you wish to produce. Be sure to enable your writers as much as possible with resources, detailed briefs, and transparent writing guidelines to save editing time. Designers: What good is an article or ebook without a sexy design? A good designer is worth his weight in gold, as they are often the difference between a solid piece of content performing well or not at all. If you don’t have the budget for a professional designer and want to save extra time, you can explore using a tool like Canva (more on this tool shortly). Proof-readers: Many content teams share the workload when it comes to proofreading. Once an article has been edited, for example, it’s always good to get a fresh pair of eyes onto the piece for extra quality control. 2. Clearly Communicate Content Goals and Guidelines This is a key factor in speeding up your editorial process. Each piece of content should have a brief and your writing team should have access to a content guidelines document. Not only will this help them write faster, it will help the managing editor breeze through the first draft. Here are 4 questions to consider before sending anything to the content producer: What is the goal of your content? What themes or topics should it cover? Who will be reading the content? Think titles, industries, and company size. Are there any useful research links or existing assets that will help? It makes sense to provide your content producer with as much information as possible. It saves time and makes everyone’s jobs easier. 3. Repurpose Existing Content For each asset you produce, you should be able to leverage it to create at least 5-6 more pieces. One simple ebook can be turned into: A SlideShare presentation Tweets (using quotes from your ebook) An infographic An image for social media A blog post Webinars are also great for repurposing your content as they often cover a broad range of topics. Imagine if you have already written 5 ebooks; that’s around 25-30 extra pieces of content just sitting there waiting to be produced, which is a huge time saver. And speaking of time savers–there’s none better than a valuable editorial tool. 4. Use Editorial Tools and Templates Sending emails back and forth is a huge time waster; especially when an asset requires multiple rewrites. Fortunately, there are tools out there to help simplify and speed up the editorial process. It is important to note that you should not get too wrapped up in using tools, especially if you’re looking to save time. Sometimes, a simple spread sheet and word processor is all you need. Let’s take a look at a few (of the many) valuable time-saving tools: Trello: The days of overflowing inboxes are coming to an end–thanks to editorial tools like Trello. This tool allows you to organize content projects and have your writers upload drafts, comment on projects, and even track the time it takes to complete each task. Google Docs: With Google Docs, your editor can add comments directly into each document. Hosted in the cloud, there’s no need to store the files anywhere–they’re stored securely on Google’s servers. Once it’s finished and ready for publishing, you can save the document onto your computer. BuzzSumo: Having trouble with content ideation? BuzzSumo allows you to search for the best performing pieces of content on the web. You can rank them by LinkedIn shares, Facebook likes, and much more. This gives you a clear indication about what type of content works best for your target audience. Canva: If there was one time-saving tool I personally couldn’t live without–this would be it. Canva includes templates for every type of visual graphic imaginable (Facebook and Twitter cover images, for example), and images can be easily tweaked for uniqueness within seconds. Not to mention it’s free, too. 5. Utilize a Content Calendar As one of the most effective ways to speed up your editorial process, content calendars save time by revealing the bigger picture. Usually managed by the content manager or content editor, it should include content goals, useful links, and show you what is due and when. But how do you map out your content calendar? Fortunately, there are a variety of free tools available: Google Calendar: With Google Calendar, you can create your own version or download one of the many templates available online. Simply create a new calendar and start filling in your content ideas and what marketing objectives or company goals they map to. The best part of using Google Calendar is that you can receive notifications to your phone and desktop when your content is due! Excel Spread Sheets: This is perhaps one of the easiest and most effective ways to manage your content editorial process. Set up columns for the due date, publishing date, writer’s name, keywords, notes, and any other information relevant to your needs–and remember to use one tab for each week or month, depending on how much content you are producing. This reduces clutter and makes it easier to navigate through. But, if you’re looking for a more robust content management experience, there are many content platforms that can help you manage your content process from start to finish—from building an editorial calendar to tracking the production progress to publication and more. Using tools and calendars are effective time savers and a great way to give you a complete perspective of your content creation process. But what you really need to remember is to stay focused on one task at a time and allocate tasks among your team when there is an overload of work. After all, they are only a limited amount of hours in the day–and time management is something everyone must deal with. What tactics or tools are you using to save time in your editorial process? Let me know in the comments below! http://events.marketo.com/summit/2016/
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By: Liz (Courter) Oseguera Originally Posted: March 1, 2016 | Marketo Blog ​ | Engagement Marketing Engagement marketing is becoming an increasingly complex, yet critical task for modern businesses and organizations. Every form of marketing today—from mobile to direct mail—requires an in-depth understanding of your audience if you want to engage with them and stand out. There are several ways for you to discover the insights you need. You can evaluate your data or survey existing customers to figure out what your target audience needs or you can go to the places where they’re already sharing this information—community forums. Community forums are one of the best (and most commonly overlooked) channels that provide marketers with an invaluable, and often free, pool of queries and topics of interest. By being proactive and taking advantage of the expanse of users and information on forums, you can transform the way you engage with your prospects and customers. Here’s everything you need to know to get started on integrating community forums into your engagement marketing strategy: where to turn, what to look for, and how to use your new insights: 1. Take Advantage of All Available Forums There are three kinds of forums, and all are extremely valuable for market research: major forums, niche, and company forums. Major forums are useful for evaluating a massive, diverse audience and spotting large trends. Niche forums are much more akin to customer surveys, but on a larger scale. Utilizing both sets of forums in tandem will yield the most effective data to implement change in your customer acquisition strategies. Let’s dive into a few major forums that you can glean insights from: Quora: A Bank of Questions that Need Your Answers Quora is a social forum built around a Q&A functionality. It is free to sign up, however there is a massive emphasis on valuable content that is managed by the Quora community through an upvote/downvote system. To date, DMR Digital Stats/Gadgets reports that Quora answers span over 400,000 topics, and the site’s forum engagement has scaled to over 80 million unique visitors per month. Due to its Q&A structure, Quora is a great resource for finding out what your target audience is confused about or having issues with. Reddit: The Front Page of the Internet Reddit is a massive forum and is making a very compelling shift towards the business sector with a buzzing and information-rich BusinessHub . Reddit is the 32nd most popular website in the world, according to Alexa, and has a vast pool of content and highly informed users. This allows businesses to conduct market research on a very diverse group of people, over a wide array of subjects, to find the right influencers and gauge the best topics to engage their audience. Yahoo!: The Most Popular News and Media Site Alexa reports that Yahoo is currently the 5th most visited site in the world. While it’s known for its email services, Yahoo is also a popular search engine, news source, and Q&A platform. In fact, Yahoo Answers has been around since 2005 and accounts for 4.5 million unique monthly visitors. Yahoo also provides Yahoo Groups for users to join in on more niche topics. The overall volume and depth of content on Yahoo allows marketers to compare over a decade of content to find trends, while still researching the needs of current active users. LinkedIn: The World’s Largest Professional Network LinkedIn is a powerhouse in the B2B sector—with a website rank of 16th in the world and users totaling 400 million, according to Alexa. Focused entirely on business, LinkedIn’s users can provide valuable insight into any industry. LinkedIn Groups are also extremely popular and give members the ability to find content and connections in their unique industries or niches. Due to its largely professional membership, LinkedIn and its groups can provide quick and easy research on your prospects and customers. After you have a general sense of how to engage with potential customers, start tracking forums that serve your specific industry or niche. Niche forums are much more akin to customer surveys, but on a larger scale. Utilizing both sets of forums in tandem will yield the most effective data to implement change in your customer acquisition strategies. Where major, general forums can inspire content ideas and engagement strategy to increase your customer base, niche forums can provide the insights to help make your brand a true thought leader in your space and deepen engagement with your audience. Think about who your target customers are and the right niche forums to find them on. Below are some examples of niche forums for specific audiences. If you do not see one applicable to your industry listed below, The Biggest Boards maintains an active list of forums and online communities in just about every category. City-Data: The City-Data forums are home to all kinds of discussions based on physical locations, which makes this a great resource for real estate professionals or any brick and mortar business that is invested in the local community. Stack Exchange: Stack Exchange is a compilation of 130 mini Q&A sites. It’s widely known as the largest community of programmers, with 26 million professional and novice programmers congregating there every month. Insurance Forums: As the name implies, Insurance Forums is an insurance community, bringing together more than 72,500 registered members around the insurance industry and how to succeed in it. You can use the “Forums” drop-down to find the exact topics you are looking to research, such as long term care insurance or retirement planning. /r/nonprofit: Reddit’s subreddit /r/nonprofit is great for news, trends, and questions regarding nonprofit organizations. To find more specific information, use the search bar in the top right and make sure to focus your search just in the /r/nonprofit subreddit. CNET: CNET has you covered on everything tech-related. With a forum for nearly every product and every major brand, CNET is a bounty of information for tech industry leaders. You can find the forums section of CNET in the footer of the homepage. SportsHoopla: This forum is very straightforward and easy to use. It clearly differentiates college and professional athletics, and hosts separate forums for each major sport. myFICO: myFICO’s forum has excellent organization on topics for financial services professionals, covering broad and minute topics from credit questions to loans and personal finance discussions. Education Week: Education Week is a one-stop-shop for news, research, data, events, and forums for education professionals and enthusiastic parents. If your company has its own community forum, peruse it for valuable insights from your very own customers. And if you don’t, it’s never too late to get started on building your customer community. The Marketing Nation is Marketo’s community for digital marketing practitioners to share their knowledge and thought leadership, learn from other like-minded marketers, access community-based support, and most importantly, help us shape our product roadmap by contributing to our active ideas section which has over 400 customer ideas that have been implemented. 2. Look for the Right Things Once you’ve decided where to start, jump right into your research by searching for your industry. If the site doesn’t have a visible search bar, you can use Google. In a Google search bar, type in “site:” followed by the URL of the forum you are using, and then the keyword you want to search for—like your industry, product, or band name. For example, “site:quora.com digital marketing” will display a list of pages on Quora that match the search “digital marketing.” You can also look for tabs like trending now, topics, read, top stories, or other tabs that are relevant to your industry. Browsing more general topics, in addition to searching for specific terms, will help you find prospects who might be so new to the industry that they don’t use the “right” terms yet or those who are looking for your solution in the wrong places. Once you have found relevant posts or questions, take note of the following things: Questions: What questions is your target audience already asking about your industry or product/solution? Take special note of any trends that stand out and try to pintpoint at which stage in the purchase cycle certain questions seem to arise. Common misunderstandings: Are there common misconceptions of your brand, product, or industry? Recurring words/phrases: Identifying these commonalities will help you understand how your audience thinks about your industry and interacts with your brand. Even if some of the terms are not technically correct, using (and correcting, when necessary) those keywords will help you communicate.  Opinions about your brand: Find out what your existing customers like and don’t like about your processes, products, or services. (And resist the urge to start defending your brand to angry dissidents.) Opinions about your competitors: What does your target audience like and dislike about your competitors’ products or services? Influencers: Who motivates conversions in your niche? Who do buyers look towards to influence their purchase decision? 3. Integrate Your Research into Your Campaigns for Better Engagement The data you’ve gathered from scouring relevant forums is actionable, so apply it to your marketing strategies to better reach and engage your audience. These are just a few channels you can integrate your insights into: Email marketing: A better understanding of what your audience is asking at each stage of the funnel will help you create more engaging email marketing programs . Tweak and personalize the content in your automated email campaigns to address specific questions or misunderstandings that are relevant to your audience’s needs and buying stage. Content marketing: A list of real questions and common misunderstandings is a great resource for planning yourcontent marketing plan around. You can also reach out to new influencers you discovered for features or interviews. SEO and PPC: These will be closely tied to your content marketing efforts, but pay special attention to recurring words and phrases that your audience uses. Then, use them strategically in your ads and throughout your content to attract organic and paid clicks you’ve been missing. Social marketing: In addition to promoting all the new content ideas you’ve developed, use your social marketingplatforms to influence brand image in light of new insights about your audience’s opinion of your brand and your competitors. What can you magnify and own, and what might need correcting? You also may need to update your buyer personas in light of some of this new information. Are your customers really who you thought they were? You might be surprised. Make sure to update those profiles so you’re targeting your audience better moving forward. And don’t forget to share your new insights with the rest of your team like sales and customer service. All of your marketing, throughout the entire customer lifecycle, can all be improved by a better understanding of your target audience. Learn More About Your Audience Today Community forums are an often-neglected gold mine of data and audience insight. Too many marketers struggle to create effective marketing personas or create content and ad campaigns that really connect from scratch, when the insights we need are right at our fingertips. The best part is that you don’t need to clear your calendar to get started. Just choose one forum that fits your audience, do a quick search, and see what you discover. The possibilities are endless. Have you already started looking through community forums to discover what your audience is interested in? I’d love to hear what insights you’ve found in the comments below!
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