Posts Tagged ‘Hootsuite’
As online marketing processes have evolved, the number and sophistication of software tools to support specific functions has exploded. Every discipline within marketing and PR has its own tools, among them:
SEO: backlink tools (Backlink Watch, SEOmoz, Majestic), keyword research tools, page optimization tools, SEO plugins.
Social media: social media monitoring (Radian6, Sysomos, SM2), social media management (HootSuite, SocialOomph, Buffer), Twitter tools, etc.
Web analytics: Omniture, WebTrends, Google Analytics, Clicky, and more.
All are very helpful, even essential, but most are designed for practitioners, that is: they help a specialist in a particular discipline do his or her job more effectively. Not only are they tactical, each focuses on supporting one functional silo or another. Not surprising, since this is how digital marketing is managed today—as a set of largely disconnected specialties. So much so, companies utilize different tools, resources, and in some cases, even different agencies to manage web visibility for brand, SEO, social media, PR, and paid advertising.
And of course, search has evolved—it’s no longer just 10 blue links. Today, web presence goes way beyond a company’s website. News and social links are as vital as are other points of visibility. What’s missing is the larger strategic picture needed for top-level decision-making and for managing digital marketing and PR in a coordinated manner. We’re all missing this because there aren’t tools to help us do it. Or are there?
A “Eureka” Moment
A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about the web presence optimization (WPO) framework. This model (evolved from a 2010 post) came about from KC Associates’ (KCA) client consulting projects. Operating as a cross-functional team, each consultant knew that a framework for optimization is useless unless there’s a way to track and measure gaiting factors that can be adjusted in order to move the optimization needle. So the group took a long, hard look at the tactical tools each consultant uses with a more creative mind of how they might be repurposed for WPO.
For example, SEO backlink tools can provide detailed lists of the precise backlinks to a competitor’s website. This can be quite valuable to an SEO consultant, but it’s mind-numbing overkill for a VP of marketing.
However, a graphical comparison of the type and quantity of backlinks pointing to the firm’s website and the sites of close competitors may be very enlightening (e.g., discovering that competitor A has twice as many media links and three times as many social links pointing to them)—particularly if these measures have changed significantly in a short period of time.
This simple change in thinking was truly eye-opening.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
First and foremost, the WPO framework provides the strategic and structural approach to the unified management of web visibility. And WPO metrics that support this framework provide the critical measurement necessary to enable the overall coordination of these disciplines to improve presence optimization and performance.
The set of 100+ WPO metrics that the group developed for KCA clients is driven by data collected by a host of off-the-shelf tools as well as some custom developed sources. As a collection, the attributes of these metrics differ from what most other tracking and measurement tools are set up to provide in six distinct ways:
- • Focus on management, not execution. WPO metrics are designed to support management decision-making (e.g., where should we devote more resources) rather than tweaks to specific tactics. Put another way, they are about the “what” rather than the “how.”
- • Provide a unified view of results. They provide leaders and team members with an overall picture of press (media outlets), social, website (organic search), industry (e.g. associations, research organizations) and paid web presence. The tactical tools available tend to focus on one or two of these areas.
- • Include competitor metrics. An organization’s digital marketing results don’t exist in a vacuum; it’s critical to be able to view results in the context of competitive activities. Competitive benchmarking is vital to developing strategy and allocating resources.
- • Reflect the value of owned, earned and paid presence, not just the company website. What customers, analysts, journalists, bloggers, and others have to say about you is sometimes more important than your own content. WPO metrics show the value of all of your points of web presence, whether it’s your content or something produced by a third party.
- • Are actionable and NOT “everything but kitchen sink.” Too many tools try to report every possible detail, rather than just what’s important. The result is data overload and analysis paralysis. It’s confusing and too much to absorb, and therefore doesn’t get acted upon. Best-practice WPO metrics focus only on measures that support concrete action.
- • Identify clear priorities. While WPO metrics cover a lot of ground, not every measure matters all the time. For example, if your media share-of-voice remains about the same from one month to the next, but your AdWords conversion rate drops by half, WPO metrics focus on the latter result.
WPO metrics won’t replace tactical, execution-level tools, but they will help guide decisions about which functional tools to use and how to coordinate the tasks of different disciplines for a larger purpose. They fill a critical gap by giving marketing executives, and everyone on digital marketing and PR teams, a unified view of web presence that reflects a more integrated optimization effort.
Ultimately, as Olivier Blanchard has pointed out repeatedly, social media marketing has to demonstrate an ROI (though he acknowledges the questions have to be made more specific). In the b2b world, the “R” is generally leads (website call-to-action conversions) with some monetary value applied to them.
But it’s crucial to the social media ROI debate to recognize that “R” is an end-of-the-process measure. There are numerous in-process measures that may be impossible to tie directly to ROI, but are nonetheless critical in producing that final “R” value.
Consider automobile manufacturing as an analogy. There are an abundance of measures, from machining tolerances on shafts to the temperature in the paint room, which are vital to track during the manufacturing process. The C-level folks may not know or particularly care what these numbers are, but if those values are off, they will affect quality, which impacts rework and warranty claims, which impact manufacturing and repair costs, which impact the ROI of each vehicle.
Similarly, in social media marketing, there are numerous intermediate “process” measures that don’t fit into an ROI equation, but which are vital in optimizing social media efforts in order to minimize “I” and maximize “R.” These metrics don’t represent the goals of social media marketing in and of themselves, but are critical measures to help optimize processes to achieve the ultimate objectives.
Here are 46 intermediate metrics (and two final measures) to help marketers evaluate the success of their social media programs and optimize their associated processes. Most of these are easy and free to track.
Nine Blog Metrics
- • Overall traffic
- • Traffic quality (e.g. bounce rate, average time spent per visit)
- • Most popular posts (indicates topics with highest interest)
- • Search traffic
- • Social media/network-referred traffic
- • Other key sources of traffic (e.g., company website, newsletters, syndication sites)
- • Number of RSS subscribers (regular readers)
- • Number of email subscribers
- • Top visiting organizations (measure of targeting effectiveness)
Six Twitter Metrics
- • Total number of relevant followers (exclude the inevitable spammers and oddballs who seem to be attracted to any active Twitter account)
- • Interaction (@ mentions)
- • Retweets (reflects both level of engagement and quality of shared content)
- • Most tweeted links (i.e., which content is most popular with followers)
- • Influence (e.g., Klout and Kred scores)
- • Brand and mention tracking (e.g., from HootSuite or other social media monitoring tool)
Six LinkedIn Metrics
- • Number of company followers
- • Recommendations on products or services
- • Page views (of LinkedIn company overview)
- • Unique visitors
- • Click-throughs (on product links)
- • Followers by industry, function and company
Five Facebook Metrics
- • Number of Facebook page “Likes”
- • Friends of fans (indicates an organization’s total potential reach on Facebook)
- • Number of people talking about you (the number of unique people who have created content about the company page on Facebook in the past week)
- • Weekly total reach (the number of people who have seen one of the firm’s messages on Facebook in past week)
- • Most popular posts
Ten YouTube Metrics
- • Number of subscribers to the company channel
- • Total number of video views
- • Change in views and subscribers over last 30 days
- • Engagement measures:
- » Likes / dislikes
- » Comments
- » Shares
- » Favorites added or removed
- • Top videos, last 30 days
- • Playback locations (e.g., regular YouTube page, company channel, mobile device, etc.)
- • Top traffic sources
Two Google+ Metrics
- • Number of people / organizations in company circles
- • Number of people / organizations that have company in their circles
- • Note: Google has indicated that it plans to introduce more advanced analytics for Google+ soon
Ten Company Website and Cross-Social-Network Metrics
- • Total social media-generated visits to the company website
- • Lift in direct visits (an imprecise but correlated measure)
- • Lift in branded search visits (another imprecise but correlated measure)
- • Major social network visits by source
- • Traffic quality by source
- • Most-viewed pages by social media visitors
- • Top visiting organizations (all social media sources)
- • Top visiting organizations (by major social network)
- • Lead conversions (all social media sources)
- • Lead conversions (by major social network)
If you’ve utilized the first 46 metrics to continually monitor and adjust your social media activities, the final two—the real return on investment for b2b marketers—should validate and quantify the value of all your hard work.
Social media marketing has gone well beyond the hype stage and is now mainstream business practice. Still, questions remain: how do I use social media most effectively across the enterprise? Which social media monitoring tools should I use? What should I monitor for? How do I use my time and resources most effectively? What social media developments and trends should I be watching?
And of course, there’s the ongoing social media ROI debate: how do I measure this? Can social media ROI really be measured? Influential voices like Olivier Blanchard and Jacquie McCarnan present formulas and methods for ROI calculation, while Steve Goldman contends that social media ROI can’t be measured in isolation, and Jackie Cohen reports that more than a third of CMOs still have no idea whether or not social media marketing is producing any ROI.
What to do? Read on for answers to these questions and more from some of the best minds in social media in some of their best blog posts and articles of 2011 so far.
Social Media Strategy and Best Practices
9 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Location Based Services by Social Media B2B
The always-insightful Adam Holden-Bache contends that location-based services like Foursquare aren’t just for consumer marketers, and supplies ideas on how B2B marketers can capitalize such as through partnerships with non-competitive local businesses, incentives and rewards, and in event marketing (“Are you seeing a lot of your contacts attending certain business events? Whether it’s a local tweet-up or a major conference, this knowledge could be useful to help you plan what events you should sponsor or where you should set up your next booth”).
Is Social Media Really Living Up to Expectations? by B2B Lead Roundtable Blog
Brian Carroll talks with MECLABS Director of Research Sergio Balegno about the disconnect between social media activity and results in the B2B environment, and concludes that “marketers are expecting way too much too soon.” Social media adoption on both the buyer and vendor side is happening with incredible speed; the tools that we’ve developed to track other web marketing activities haven’t kept pace. As social media monitoring and integration with CRM systems improves, marketers will have the metrics and analytical tools to more accurately assess the value of various social media efforts and continually improve them.
The B2B Social Media Landscape: a portrait by Beyond
***** 5 STARS
The social media approach that nobody wants to hear by Hugo Guzman
Hugo Guzman explains the importance of listening and planning before jumping into social media (failures also noted previously here in the dirty dozen top 12 social media mistakes to avoid). He lists nine steps its imperative for companies to take in order to “build enough social karma (yes, I said karma) to facilitate things like guest posting opportunities, retweets, likes, etc.”
19 Social Media Best Practices [VIDEO] by Social Media Explorer
30 Ways to Use Social Media for Business People by SEOptimise
Citing a recent study showing that “94% of businesses actually do not use social media even for the most obvious task it’s good for: Getting feedback”–and another demonstrating that those businesses are less competitive–Tad Chef supplies a list of 30 ways businesses can use social media, among them to get feedback, get attention, debunk myths, forge relationships and build links.
5 ways to use social media to build a crowd for your event by Socialbrite
Tamara Mendelsohn of Eventbrite details five guiding principles for promoting events, including choose the right platform, publish your event to Facebook, and “define success metrics and don’t underestimate the effort required.”
Organizing Your Social Media Strategy by CompuKol Connection
Influence in social media: how to find the top bloggers by blur Group
The most underestimated social media asset by iMediaConnection
Noting that “the proper framework of enablement and empowerment can turn a company’s workforce into the most effective means of advancing the goals of the business through social media,” Lori Luechtefeld details IBM’s experience with transforming its business be empowering employees to actively engage as part of the company’s social media strategy.
It’s Not Your CEO’s Fault He’s a Social Media Moron by Social Media Today
Expand Your Social Media Mix: Twitter Alone is Not Enough by Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang
***** 5 STARS
Deftly weaving in a dinner analogy to social media, Jeremiah Owyang compares Twitter to shish-kabob (bite-sized morsels of information) that are tasty but need to be supplemented by “steak”–infographics, Slideshare presentations, blog posts–and topped off with online video for dessert.
26 Ways to Use Social Media for Lead Generation by Social Media Examiner
***** 5 STARS
Debbie Hemley compiles another brilliant A to Z post, this one focused on using social media for lead generation. Her list of tactics begins with Assets, Branding and Compelling messages and continues all the way through Word of mouth, eXcellence, adopting a Yes attitude, and demonstrating Zeal in your social media activities and relationship building.
Social Media Tools
10 Steps to Finding the Influencers in Your Market by Junta42
***** 5 STARS
The brilliant Joe Pulizzi details 10 steps for finding and cultivating relationships with the key influencers in your market space. For each step, he identifies the overall strategy, useful tools, and helpful tips for execution.
9 Social Networks Your Business Should Be Using by Likeable Media
The Social Media Strategists Power Tools [Consumption] by NewCommBiz
Social Media and Online Video
9 new rules for YouTube marketing by iMedia Connection
Greg Jarboe lists nine helpful rules for video marketing, such as “Rule 1: YouTube marketing is the new video marketing…YouTube gets more than 86 percent of visits to 77 video sites in this country.” (Hulu, at #2, gets less than 4% of visits.) And “Rule 2: You can’t make it on YouTube alone…even with close to 2.0 billion out of the nearly 5.2 billion viewing sessions in the U.S., only 38 percent of all viewing sessions occurred at YouTube.com…45.13 percent of viewers discovered videos by going to a video site (i.e., going to YouTube and running a search or clicking around the featured or related videos). But 44.24 percent of viewers discovered videos embedded on blogs or other websites.”
Social media: Adding video to your digital marketing plan by SignOn San Diego
Erik Bratt expounds on the popularity of video marketing (“video capability was the fastest-growing website feature for small-business advertisers in 2009, with one in five hosting website video by the end of the year”) and the different types of videos businesses can consider using, including screencasts, customer testimonials and video email.
7 Little Known Tricks That Will Get You More YouTube Views by SocialTimes
Social Media Case Studies
The Fantabulous Lists of Social Media Case Studies by Social Media Today
Looking for examples of social media success to emulate? Giedrius Ivanauskas supplies 17 lists of social media case studies such as WOMMA’s Case Study Library and 35+ Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action from Mashable.
B2B Social Media Example: GE MarkNet by Social Media B2B
Social Media Trends and Predictions
2011 Trends: Make Your Corporate Site A Social Media Hub by Business 2 Community
Pam Moore outlines a dozen ways companies can fail at social media marketing, from not understanding the social media “ecosystem” for their industry or hiring the wrong consultant/agency for help to assuming social media will fix a broken business (it’s won’t–it will expose it) and having unrealistic expectations in general.
Social media: What lies ahead? by iMedia Connection
Shelly Palmer predicts that Facebook will face increased competition from better tools, that smart phones will continue to advance and account for a higher share of online traffic, and more in this 11-minute video.
Are These Social Media Trends of 2011 Part of Your Strategy? by Social Media Today
It is the structure of social networks that shapes influence… and the structure is changing by Trends in the Living Networks
Ross Dawson delves into the concept of influence networks to explain why some tweets go viral and others don’t, noting that this is a rapidly evolving area and that research shows “professional blogs are the most influential news media in sports and the second most influential media in politics and national news, while personal blogs are the most influential in entertainment and the second most influential in technology. In general the influence of blogs tends to decay more slowly than other media.”
Social Media Policies and Regulation
10 Steps to Managing Employees on Social Media by Write Speak Sell
**** 5 STARS
Noting that “Well-written (social media) policies prevent public relations disasters and potential legal liability. In addition, when done properly, they also create environments that foster productivity and loyalty among employees,” Kyle-Beth Hilfer provides an outstanding 10-step list to use as a guide in writing a social media policy.
Social Media Policy Unites Social Media Initiatives by Social Media Today
Going down the same path as Who Should Write Your Social Media Policy?, Tim McCord emphasizes the need to create a team when crafting a social media policy and selecting monitoring tools.
NLRB Says Companies Can Not Discipline Workers For Posts in Social Media by iMedia Connection
In news that every company needs to hear thought most likely don’t want to, Chris Boudreaux reports on a recent case wherein the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that “companies can not discipline workers who post criticisms on social-networking sites.” Chris concludes with: “This clarification by the NLRB is a big deal for a lot of companies in the United States.” Indeed it is.
Social Media and SEO
Why social media optimization is the new SEO by iMedia Connection
Noting that many people now “receive the majority of their news on Twitter or via posts on Facebook and LinkedIn before resorting to a Google search on any given topic…How many times have you seen an article posted on Facebook or Twitter that has either made you click on it, or urged you to suddenly search about the topic? It’s a fascinating process,” Dennis Franczak explains why social media optimization (SMO) is now taking center stage in online marketing and how to go about it successfully.
Jennifer Sable Lopez offers a nine-step checklist to making social media activities SEO-friendly, such as incorporating keyword research and making sure your content is easily sharable across the most popular social networks. She uses the word campaign unfortunately, but otherwise it’s a helpful post.
Why Not Be The CMO Of Everyone? by MediaPost Search Insider
***** 5 STARS
Writing that “every person in an enterprise is potentially an authentic, invested content producer, networker or influencer. Very often, employees in large enterprises are actively evangelizing their brands or products and no one in the home office even realizes it,” Derek Gordon advises CMOs to solicit content from the broadest possible array of contributors within an organization in order to develop more valuable, search-optimized copy.
Social Media Monitoring
20 free, awesome social media monitoring tools by Socialbrite
Top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business by Socialmedia.biz
J.D. Lasica and Kim Bale review 20 powerful fee-based tools for professional social media monitoring, among them Radian6, Lithium, Alterian SM2 and Attentio. For guidance on how to evaluate these tools, check out 9 Criteria for Selecting a Social Media Monitoring Tool.
Top 10 analytics tools for social media by iMedia Connection
Pam Sahota provides helpful mini-reviews of 20 free social media monitoring tools worth checking out, from Twilerts and Backtype through Proxlet (which, among other features, helpfully filters out those annoying Foursquare checkin tweets) and Trendrr.
Social Media Dashboards by CompuKol Connection
Neil Glassman raises a number of questions to help focus social media monitoring activities (e.g.,”Does your query language mesh with your consumers’ language? Or is it industry language?”) then makes three key recommendations to help organizations really get value out of social media monitoring.
Social Media Metrics and ROI
6 Critically Undervalued Social Media Success Metrics by Convince & Convert
Jay Baer details the half-dozen social media metrics and tools he views as the most meaningful yet undervalued, from the Klout scores of your Twitter followers (rather than just number of followers) to share of voice and inbound links.
Social media metrics: 5 things to learn in 2011 by Ragan.com
Social Media Strategists Look Hard at ROI this Year by eMarketer
According to research from The Altimeter Group, “when it came to social media programs, 82% of respondents reported they would be investing in brand monitoring in 2011, while 77% cited staff budgets and 78% training budgets…Creating ROI measurements tops the list of internal social strategy objectives for 2011, with 48.3% of respondents highlighting that goal.”
3 Ways social media market research can impact your business by ListenLogic
Noting that “Market research is now beginning to leverage social media in a revolutionary way that provides insights and impact across the organization,” Chris Karnes explains how social media listening can be used to measure marketing campaign effectiveness, drive purchasing decisions and inspire product innovation.
6 Buckets of Social Media Measurement by Take a Peck
Jason Peck details six “buckets” of metrics companies should use to evaluate the success of various social media initiatives, including business metrics, awareness (e.g. website traffic, searches for brand terms) and engagement (Facebook likes, blog comments, retweets, etc.).
Social Media ROI for Idiots by Social Media Today
Hmm, not to sure about the title of this post, as idiots are unlikely to get social media ROI. Or even to get social media for that matter. But regardless, Jacquie McCarnan helpfully provides several different formulas for calculating social media ROI, based on different factors such as qualified leads, employee retention, and customer engagement.
Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel by SocialSteve’s Blog
***** 5 STARS
Contending that social media ROI can’t be measured in isolation, Steve Goldner recommends instead measuring its contribution to the business through key performance indicators (KPIs) including awareness, consideration, loyalty and advocacy. His brilliant “Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel” graphic makes the post worth a look in itself.
Social Media ROI business measurement by Slideshare
***** 5 STARS
Social Media Research, Facts and Statistics
Gordon MacMillan reports on research from McKinsey showing that “companies that are starting to do it (social media marketing) well are being rewarded for their efforts (e.g., with higher operating margins and market share). More than that, it says those that fail to implement social media could be making a ‘critical mistake.’” He also shares four key steps McKinsey suggests executives should take to move their organizations forward.
Chris Boudreaux cites a study concluding that nearly 9 in 10 large-company CEOs believe social media is important to their business strategies, and that “43% of CEOs say they will ‘significantly change’ their strategies in the next three years to respond to customers’ increased use of social media and mobile devices.”
STUDY: Return On Investment In Facebook Eludes CMOs by All Facebook
Jackie Cohen summarizes and comments on a recent Bazaarvoice / CMO Club showing that “Nine out of every ten Chief Marketing Officers participate in at least three forms of social media promotions, yet many don’t know whether these efforts yield a return on investment…(while) 15.4 percent have a significant return on investment and 20.6 percent have an average return…34.9 percent said they don’t know whether they have an ROI, and 8.6 percent have none.”
How much does Social Media cost companies in 2011? by MackCollier.com
***** 5 STARS
Mack Collier very helpfully provides social media consultants, and companies looking to hire them, with pricing benchmarks for common types of projects. For example, ghostwritten blog posts cost anywhere from $50 to $500 per post, with most providers charging $100-$250.
Every blogger wants more traffic. How to get it? The key is a balanced strategy of search engine optimization (SEO), social media, syndication and guest posting.
So where does blog traffic come from, and how does this change over time? Looking at data from the Webbiquity blog, several trends are apparent. This B2B blog isn’t necessarily representative of all blogs of course, but the trends likely aren’t much different for many business blogs. What’s important here isn’t the specific results from this blog, but what those results say about how to get more traffic to your blog.
Six conclusions that can be drawn from this graph:
It takes time to build a blog audience. Don’t expect miracles right out of the gate, or get discouraged by low blog traffic at first. Patience is a virtue, and persistence is rewarded. Even those early posts may draw significant traffic over time as your blog gains traction.
Direct and referral traffic are highly correlated. It’s striking in the graph above how the lines for direct and referral traffic remain nearly parallel over time. But it makes sense: the more often your blog is “seen” on other sites, the more people will bookmark it, subscribe to your RSS feed, and type in the URL directly.
SEO doesn’t produce immediate results, but is crucial over the long term. Just as it takes time to build a following, it also takes a while to build credibility and authority with the search engines. Note from the graph that search was the lowest source of traffic to this blog for its first three months, and for six of the first nine months. But it’s been the top source of visits for nine of the past 10 months (the only exception resulting from the spike in direct and referral traffic to the Nifty 50 Top Women of Twitter post). And even with the falloff in direct and referral traffic over the last two months (more about that in a moment), search traffic has held up fairly well.
A closer look at Google stats (see below) reveals an even more remarkable point about search: while direct and referral traffic tend to be “spiky” based on the popularity of individual posts, search traffic is more consistent over time.
Social media is important. Of the top dozen sources of traffic, four were social networking or related sites: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and HootSuite. Twitter is the most productive, driving more than half of all non-blog social media visits. Including blogs, more than one of every seven visits came through social media (blogs, social networking, social bookmarking, or tools like HootSuite and bit.ly) sites.
Syndication is also helpful. Three of the top 12 traffic sources for this blog were syndication or content aggregation sites: B2B Marketing Zone, Social Media Informer and Social Media Today. The best syndication sites will vary by industry, so choose sites appropriate for your blog subject manner. Don’t overlook smaller blog directories and RSS syndication sites that can collectively drive notable traffic (as well as providing valuable links for SEO purposes).
Digging deeper into the Google Analytics results and correcting errors (such as GA sometimes mislabeling search visits as referral traffic) yields a more detailed picture. Search is the top source of traffic for most blogs over time. But search is affected by every link, so a multi-faceted approach is critical. For example, links from other blogs may provide only modest direct traffic, but they influence search engines and other social media sources, as well as increasing direct traffic.
Post frequency matters. Back to that dropoff over the past two months—in a way, this blog is a victim of its own success. Because I’ve obtained several wonderful and active clients through my blogging, I’ve had less time to write posts over the past 60-90 days, and the resulting dip in direct and referral traffic is readily apparent in the first graph above. But for corporate blogs, the lesson is clear: maintaining consistent post frequency is crucial to maintaining high blog traffic and continuous growth.
A substantial share of “Other Referring Sites” traffic to this blog comes from WebMarketCentral, the website marketing resources portal. The lesson for companies is to feature your blog prominently on your corporate website, as that can be a rich source of visits.
All in all, your specific results will vary, but again the key to getting more traffic to your blog is a balanced approach of activities including search engine optimization (SEO), social networking, social bookmarking, syndication, blog commenting and guest posting. And of course writing compelling content for your audience.
Last week’s Online Marketing Summit in Minneapolis drew an intense crowd of local agency and corporate attendees focused on learning the latest strategies for SEO and search, conversion rate optimization (CRO), QR codes, PPC, social video marketing, integrated analytics, social media measurement and more. It was three days of drinking from a firehose of expertise from an impressive lineup of speakers, but did the conference deliver the goods? Here’s a recap of a few of the key sessions and conversations from the summit.
Steve Woods, Eloqua
Steve is one of the most brilliant marketing strategists I know, and co-author of a new book, Revenue Engine. Among Steve’s observations and insights from the summit:
- • The buying process is now 1) online, 2) all about the buyer, and 3) complex (multiple stakeholders).
- • The sales “discovery” call, where a sales rep spent an hour learning about a prospect’s issues and pains, is extinct. 78% of executives report that they are spending less time with sales reps than ever before. Research, through social media, has to fill in much of this gap.
- • Social media killed newspapers; anyone can now publish to the world. The most important users of social media are Google and Bing, who are attempting to create “social filters” to identify the most relevant content.
- • QR codes marry social media with traditional direct marketing.
- • With marketing moving online, everything is measurable now. The days of not knowing which 50% of your marketing dollars you’re wasting are over.
- • ”Sales and marketing” has to be one budget, with dollars flowing back and forth based on measurable value. But few companies have sufficiently sophisticated analytics in place today to do this properly.
- • The trick in using social media monitoring tools is not to automate “fast, shi**y answers” as Steve put it, but rather to find the right person to respond. Even in fairly large organizations, the actual number of social media mentions that really require any kind of detailed response tends to be fairly small.
- • The best social media managers will work themselves out of their jobs by making their organizations social media proficient. Social media will ultimately be another tool, like email, but it will take some time to reach that stage.
- • Online buyers discover information in three ways, which require three different approaches to capitalize on: active search (use SEM), passive search (use content marketing and SEO), and influence (social media).
- • A common issue for B2B vendors: how do you sell “boring stuff” online? Don’t be boring! Find a tie between your “boring” product and something interesting and capitalize on it. For example, gaskets are boring. But they may be used in race cars, and race cars are not boring.
- • Tap your internal subject matter experts and help them create personal brands. Answer questions and establish expertise. Don’t explicitly sell products, rather solve problems. The revenue team is no longer just sales and marketing.
- • Facebook is better for B2B than many businesses realize (the one point of Steve’s on which I remain skeptical).
- • Don’t try to talk to everyone; this drives people away. Buyers are open to sales conversations when 1) they are the right buyer and 2) their “digital body language” indicates they are actively engaged in looking for a solution right now. Use data–intuition often leads down the wrong path.
- • Buy his new book!
Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing
Lee presented a session on search and social media. Highlights:
- • SEO is dead, social media is sexy? No, SEO is still not dead yet. As technology and buying processes change, SEO evolves. The top priority in SEO this year should be search and social integration, as the search engines seek to incorporate more social signals into search results.
- • 92% of b2b buying cycles start with search. It’s not enough just to produce great content, it has to be made “findable.”
- • Every two days, we now (collectively) create as much information as was created from the dawn of time through 2003 (according to Eric Schmidt)–5 exabytes of data.
- • Make your customer service content searchable, and extend the customer relationship to build loyalty and recommendations. Google does a good job of this with the help information for their various tools.
- • To scale content creation, use of a mix of original content and content curation–select the good stuff and add value to it.
- • To optimize time spend on social networking, allocate about 15 minutes per day per network, with perhaps a bit more time spent on the 2-3 most important sites.
- • Use Knowem.com to claim your (and your company’s) profile across social networks; you don’t have to be active on all of them (only the ones where your customers and prospects are).
- • Use keyword research to coordinate content creation, SEO and social media efforts.
- • SEMrush is a valuable tool for analyzing your competition in SEO and SEM, search traffic, and keywords that work today.
- • Use knowledge gleaned from analytics to scale up what works and kill what doesn’t.
Angie did a phenomenal job of communicating a highly visual topic largely without the use of visuals, thanks to technical glitches with the hotel’s equipment.
- • When evaluating 2D barcode readers (mobile apps), look for support for multiple barcode types as well as autoscan capability. BeeTag is her favorite.
- • There are numerous free 2D barcode generators available online. Some also serve as management platforms, which is helpful. Delivr is a good option, particularly for local retail businesses, due to its mapping functionality.
- • Minimize the data stored in the barcode by using a shortened URL.
- • Brainstorm ways to add value to the user when using QR codes. Don’t just send them to your mobile site home page. Try to deliver exclusive content.
- • When it comes to QR codes, size matters. Bigger images are better (easier to scan with a wider range of phones). 1″ x 1″ is considered a reasonable minimum, but go a bit larger than that if possible. Also, always include a URL just in case someone’s phone can’t read your barcode.
- • Tell users what will happen when they scan! It’s okay to “tease” a little, but don’t try to be too mysterious; that will reduce scan rates. Make it a strong call to action.
- • Link to a smartphone-friendly destination (e.g. NOT just to a standard web page or to a high-definition video). Ideally, apps should take advantage of smartphone features.
- • B2C use of QR codes is about selling, B2B use is about branding: provide the visitor with some kind of value (e.g. tracking a shipment) or send to a (low resolution) video, for example.
Jennifer Kane, Kane Consulting
Jennifer braved a displaced neck disc (ouch!) and tag-teamed with Kary Delaria to deliver an excellent presentation on tools for measuring online media effectiveness. I have to say, I expected Jennifer to be smart (which she certainly is) but wasn’t expecting her to be funny, especially given the neck issue. But her presentation was the best of the day at combing humor with valuable information.
- • Start with what you think social media success looks like. Measurements must have meaning, or else they are just data.
- • To define the “return” on your social media efforts, ask people to do specific things (e.g. visit a link, download a report)–then measure how many people do it.
- • The “big three” KPIs for social media success are 1) increase brand awareness, 2) drive sales, and 3) build brand loyalty.
- • Basic metrics include reach (who reads your content and where), sentiment and conversion. When looking at sentiment in social media monitoring tools, always double check the results. To use Jennifer’s example, if someone writes that your product “kicks ass,” that is likely a positive, though many social media monitoring tools will tag this as a negative sentiment because “getting your ass kicked is generally a bad thing.”
- • It takes 10,000 brand mentions at a minimum to get statistically relevant sentiment tracking from a social media monitoring tool.
- • Social media ROI can’t be measured directly. But you can measure “tons of stuff” and find correlations. And correlations are good data.
- • The best social monitoring tools are “Excel and your own eyes.” Don’t overlook the value of native searches on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Technorati.
- • Tools like Klout and PeerIndex are good for measuring your “cool factor” but not really business results or the quality of your content or interactions. They can be gamed. However, when paired with other data, results from these tools can be interesting.
- • Tools such as TwentyFeet, Trackur and Unilyzer don’t provide competitor data but are useful for showing all of your data in one place on a single dashboard.
- • HootSuite rocks.
- • Even the best paid tools only find, on average, about 65% of your global brand mentions.
Greg Ott, Demandbase
Greg presented on conversion rate optimization. Much of his presentation reflected, indirectly, the capabilities of the Demandbase tool. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it’s a pretty cool product, though it is in my view grossly overpriced at $2,500 per month. I think there could be a huge marketing opportunity for the product in the $500-1,000 per month price range.
- • All marketing is now online marketing. Online sources provide 50% of all B2B leads now (sounds low to me) and that figure is projected to rise to 70% within two years.
- • Most b2b websites are still static and one-dimensional. Companies spend 9X as much on attracting visitors to their websites as they do on converting those visitors once they arrive.
- • Most websites are “leaky buckets.” They lose half of all visitors at each additional click.
- • Key is to determine who the visitor is as quickly as possible, then serve up relevant content and offers.
- • Think about visitors in terms of company size and industry, then optimize forms and offers for each.
- • To optimize conversions, keep forms as short as possible and test everything: content, offers, specific calls to action, etc.
Kim Albee, Genoo
Kim Albee is the fascinating, high energy leader of Genoo, a marketing automation system for small to midsize companies. Though both Genoo and Eloqua provide marketing automation software, they fit at opposite ends of the market in terms of company size, so they rarely compete. Genoo is more similar to something like ePROneur; both offer hosting, robust CMS capabilities and forms builders. Genoo is stronger in marketing email automation and suitable for smaller companies with reasonably sophisticated internal marketing capabilities. ePROneur on the other hand includes an integrated CRM application is ideal for sales-focused companies who outsource more of their marketing functions.
A few notes from our between-sessions conversation as well as the end-of-day panel session in which Kim participated (along with Greg Ott, Maria Lettman – Director of Social Media at Cargill, and others).
- • Employees need to understand the “rules of the game” for business social media participation; everything from etiquette and strategy to simple things like not including “#in” when posting something in LinkedIn.
- • Lots of agencies offer social media marketing services, but companies are having a hard time right now finding agencies with the bandwidth to do the work.
- • Data is important–but it won’t help you to be creative or “think outside the box.”
- • In social media, be a voice not an echo. Add value when you pass along information from others.
- • LinkedIn profiles should reflect personality; they should like they are written by individuals, not by the marketing department (though they should all contain some important keywords for consistency).
- • Infuse personality into social media efforts; don’t be afraid to “pi** people off.” Hmm, be careful with that one.
- • Balance value added vs. selling: help buyers solve problems or think about how to solve them. Share relevant content, even (or particularly) content that isn’t your own. Be interesting!
Got anything to add?