Category Archives: Marketing Help

How to Be a Marketing Rock Star During Annual Strategy Planning

As summer fades away and pumpkin spice lattes roll into town, one thing is certain – it’s time to begin your annual marketing strategy sessions for the coming year. In the most basic context, strategy is defining what your company wants to achieve and developing a plan to watch it come to fruition.

Anytime I set out to achieve a goal I schedule time to reflect and meditate on it. I need space to clear my mind and visualize the big picture behind the goal. The same is true when it comes to strategy planning. There are many benefits to having a solid strategy in order, but I advise taking a chunk of time to reflect before even jotting anything down on paper.

Effective planning ensures team alignment. The objectives are clear, which allows for everyone to prioritize their workload. This allows for the best use of resources across your team, particularly the time your employees are spending on projects. Once your team is focused on what matters the most, your company will see the results they desire.

As you plan your marketing strategy for the coming year, here are some tips to help you succeed:

  • Determine your top three marketing goals: As a company, you should know your top three goals. This can be part of your mission statement or culture, as well as financial expectations for the year. If these are not established, work with upper management to determine them. Once they are established, every single event, advertisement, social media post, press release, sponsorship, piece of content or any other marketing materials should ladder back up to one of these goals. If anything comes across your desk that does not align with one of these goals – pitch it. Stick to the plan as to not waste your time, budget or resources.
  • Review ROI from all previous activities: Now, just because something may align with one of your three goals, does not mean you have to proceed with it. Take a look at everything your company has done in the past. Are you able to show return on investment? If not, how can that change? ROI comes in many forms and I know firsthand that it is not always the easiest item to track. If you are just going for brand awareness versus leads, it is not always as quantifiable as you’d like. However, it would be easy to determine your ROI from a trade show by quickly seeing how much it cost and how many deals were signed and attributed from that show. Use this data to determine if it is worth the investment next year.
  • Establish your budget: Budgets are a reality. You have a limited pool of money to use that must accomplish a lot of goals. Take the time to block off a meeting and understand where your money will go and how to plan for unexpected needs throughout the year (include line items for this). It is not uncommon that trade shows, events and sponsorships arise throughout the year that I would not be able to send my sales team to attend had I not planned for these unexpected items. Also, understand where your costs will be split with other departments in your budget. For example, website costs might come from marketing, IT, sales and eCommerce departments.

It’s tedious to jump into planning mode, but it is worth it. Having everyone on your team aligned and ready to go as 2016 approaches is well worth the investment it takes to get there.

Behaviors That Matter: Personalization Based on Data

The importance of a personalized web experience cannot be overstated. In a world where customers already know their data is being mined, they don’t just expect personalization, they’ll avoid experiences that don’t deliver it to them. In other words, if my social media platform exists, I expect to be served ads that are relevant to me, and I expect websites to know what I want even before I do. After all, all of my information is already out there – isn’t it a brand’s job to use it in a way that benefits me as a customer?

Data is the key to successful web personalization, but oftentimes it isn’t used in the most effective manner. It’s vital to set up the correct set of variables that is most relevant to your brand. This can be done by looking at the traffic and engagement you already have on your website, and working backwards from there.

Ask. What patterns are emerging here? Where am I finding trends?

Look at the most popular pages on your website. Determine where that traffic is coming from, and what those users have in common. Your own first party data is the most valuable insight you have because it’s a direct line to your audience. Their actions and origins give you the recipe you need for success.

Target. Determine your targeting variables.

These should be based on the answers you find to the questions above. Variables could include things like location (are most of your users in a few concentrated areas, or more spread out?), device, customer history, and time spent navigating your website. Pay attention to how users interact with every individual webpage or post related to your brand. Mine your data and discover who is always close to clicking the “purchase” button but never does, who buys frequently, when they visit and whether it’s spurred on by a particular event. For example, a customer who visits your site to make a purchase most often around the 15th or 30th of every month may make purchases relative to pay day.  Variables like these  will help you personalize content and experience for multiple audiences.

Personalize. You know your audiences, so talk to them.

When personalizing the content or ads you serve up to your audience, testing is important. Run multiple ads, try out taglines, test headlines and subject matter in your blog posts and social media. There is no magical “one size fits all” personalization guarantee, but thorough A/B testing can help you find the right fit for your audiences.

IgnitionOne Introduces the Ultimate Digital Marketing Dictionary

It could be argued that the digital marketing industry has about as much jargon as NASA – and even more acronyms. In a world focused entirely on communication, our own communication can be confusing to say the least. That’s why IgnitionOne has created the Ultimate Digital Marketing Dictionary.

Webster’s Dictionary of the English language contains roughly 500,000 words, with new ones added every year to reflect the changing nature of our speech. The same is true – admittedly to a slightly lesser extent – with marketing. Our industry has changed rapidly over the past decade with the rise of digital marketing and mobile-first strategy, as well as the instant communication allowed by social media. The internet has a whopping 3.17 billion users*, and with the digital world comes an entirely new set of terms and acronyms that change almost as often as they appear.

The upshot? Our language is changing fast, and it’s important to stay up to date on what means what. So wheter you’re working to streamline team communications or talking with clients and vendors (or just trying to explain your job to an outsider), the Ultimate Digital Marketing Dictionary has you covered.

Register here for your free copy!

 *Source: statistica.com

The Art of Nurturing

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of connection between people. My group of family and friends is close and at any given moment we all have different wants from each other. Sometimes I rely on them for advice and sometimes they come to me for a listening ear. Over time these relationships have become very strong due to reciprocity, loyalty and consistency.

Each one of these friendships is strong not by chance, but because both parties invested the time necessary to build up something of value. At any given moment one friend might need more attention than another friend. In my mind I place them in different buckets based on where our relationships currently stand, as no two friendships are alike. Much like these friendships, the connections brands have with their ever-changing customer needs alter on a daily basis.

While one customer might be thrilled with the quality of service and personalized advertising/marketing efforts, another customer may feel as though you don’t know them at all. There is an art in nurturing to be able to assess where your customers are at on an emotional level to tailor messaging to them appropriately.

Here are a couple of tips to help you better nurture your customers:

  • Implement a Data Management Platform: You need a centralized hub to intake and store all of the data on your customer. This must be able to intake known/anonymous data from all sources, including offline, to help you have a 360-view of your customer before determining what data you need to collect.
  • Collect Relevant Data: You may find that you’re collecting data that doesn’t matter. If this is the case, pitch it. There is no need to collect data that doesn’t directly benefit the customer or you. Continue to monitor what is working and what you need to refine the data you collect.
  • Create Buckets and Segments: As you setup any campaign, you will want to have triggers that move people into appropriate buckets. For example, after a customer has made two online purchases in one month, you may want to move them to bucket indicating they are more likely to make online purchases than other customers. This can help with future targeting. As you go through all of your segments, begin to create logic on which bucket your customers should be in and how to craft strategic messaging around those buckets.
  • Measure and Test: Once you have success criteria setup, it becomes easy to measure whether or not you hit your goals. From there, you can refine your nurturing campaigns and adjust continuously as needed.

There is an art to nurturing your customers. Think of it like a conversation in person – you start by saying hello and then go from there. By keeping it real, authentic and genuine you have all of the makings to allow the conversation to grow organically, ultimately building a stronger relationship with customer.

The Top 3 Benefits of Exceeding Customer Needs

Two weeks ago I had an amazing digital experience. I went to the doctor’s office as I wasn’t feeling well and they performed some simple tests. Near the end of the visit the doctor said my test results, which would dictate if I needed a prescription, would be available online the next day. Before I even received a call from the doctor or access to my online results, Walgreens sent a push notification to my mobile phone alerting me that my prescription was ready for pick-up.

This is brilliant for many reasons. First, Walgreens was able to act on the data shared by the hospital faster than the hospital could relay it to me. Second, in doing so they also gave me the status of the test. Third, while I associate this brand with my health already, their actions continue to prove how much they value my health and me as a person (read: this makes me want to spend my money with them). Finally, all of this happened because they have a top-notch data management platform in place to effectively manage their consumer’s data.

You see, at some point I wandered into Walgreens to purchase an item. Upon checkout I signed up for their loyalty card, slowly giving them more information during subsequent visits. Eventually, I downloaded their app and synched it with my loyalty card. Then I logged into my online account to manage the entire ecosystem. And truthfully, this was not the first time Walgreens impressed me (you can read about my Connected Experience with them here).

But by merely sending me a simple push notification they have exceeded my expectations. By exceeding expectations, brands stand to gain the following:

  1. Customer Loyalty – My default location for all prescriptions is now Walgreens. This experience, along with previous experiences prove that they can do it – and they can do it well. They are loyal to making sure I’m happy and I’m loyal to them by returning every time to spend my money with their brand. With hundreds of other locations to fill my prescriptions, I choose Walgreens because they know me and they can execute efficiently and effectively.
  1. Brand Advocacy – When I have a good experience, I am a sharer. I like to tell my friends and family so they can also have good experiences. If the experience is particularly great I will socialize online as well. Not only does this generate positive news regarding the brand, but it also influences my friends to shop with that brand. I remember once reading a stat that a bad experience is shared 3x more than a good experience – something brands may want to keep in mind while mapping out customer journey experiences.
  1. Exploration of Other Brand Offerings – When a brand exceeds expectations in one area, there is a good chance they excel in other areas as well. In turn, customers will explore their other offerings based on the experiences they have. For example, I learned about the pharmacy app because of Walgreens photo printing app. Both continue to add value to my life and help me simplify. I’m sure I will continue to explore to see what other offerings they have for me.

Regardless of the consumer, everyone likes to be treated well. And the companies that understand the value of treating a customer well will continue to thrive in this ever-changing digital world.

Six Tips to Cross-Channel Bliss

Your audience is savvy, using an array of devices, gadgets and “things” to engage with your brand or company. When you consider the volume of data that’s available – that might soon be accessible – it’s enough to blow your mind. Marketers need to be concerned with issues of reach, yet this also drives the need of consistency and real relevance across touch points and channels. It’s impressive that the interest identified on the website can inform a display ad, followed by an email offer and even a direct-mail coupon thanks to digital marketing hub advancements. Get it right and it’s a moment of wonder and awe, as if your brand universe aligns around the customer (cue choirs of angels singing) for a fantastic experience. But it takes some planning and investment to get there.

To support you in your journey toward cross-channel bliss, here are six steps to get you moving in the right direction. The key is to unite your data around a common goal – happy customers who support your brand.

  1. Start with what you’ve got. Do an audit of what data you have and where it lives. What are you collecting right now? If people sign up for emails, what fields are included in the form? Do you track purchase history by customer name or ID? Do you ask gender or category preferences? What about web search activity? Call center details? Get a list together so you can see what you have, and what you may be missing that could be helpful to your messaging.
  2. Build a team. Bring together people from across your internal silos, working together to move things forward as you centralize your data. With so many projects and tasks, the best way to keep things on track is with cross-company involvement. Team members should have authority or responsibility over a specific channel or data source so there’s ownership in the decisions being made across the organization, especially as priorities shift toward an integrated data approach. You’ll want both their brains and their buy-in on this.
  3. Map out customer personas. Your data integration has a single purpose – to better serve and engage your customer. This can be difficult to do if you’re not sure who you’re selling to. See how the data you have can support the buyer/customer across their entire customer journey. Consider different situations when people buy from you. Chart out the steps a sample persona prospect may take as they are introduced to your brand or services. Then see what type of data can be collected and leveraged to make each of those experiences terrific.
  4. Investigate the details. Be the Sherlock Holmes of the customer journey, then smooth and improve any rough spots you discover along the way. As you piece together your data, look for trends. Spend time on the stories behind the numbers. Ask yourself “why” things are happening as they are instead of focused on the “how.”
  5. Reduce friction with facts. Use your data to identify real issues. Is there a falling off point along the path to conversion or checkout? Are your email campaigns doing well, but activity off of purchase confirmation emails is weak? Do people click through to the home page but jump off without browsing deeper into the site? Does your strategy include ways to engage them before they get away? These can indicate a point of friction on the path to conversion.
  6. Work together.Not only do you need to be working together within your organization to establish shared priorities to pull your data together, you also can work with partners specializing in Data Management to both educate and support you along the way.
    There are resources available to you when you’re ready to put your ideas into action.

Four Ways to Add Context To Your Marketing

This morning I woke up to 60 e-mails. I laid in bed and mindlessly went through my inbox deleting them, as I do every morning. By now I know that most e-mails I receive in the morning are editions of daily newsletters, promotions, etc. that I’ve been meaning to unsubscribe from because the volume seems overwhelming. It’s a lot to sort through first thing every morning.

This is a problem all marketers are facing. Not only are you spending hours to craft, curate and send the perfect e-mail or marketing message, you are competing against 59 others all trying to grab my attention at the same time…right when I wake up and am still a bit groggy as I begin my morning routine.

Yes – I did sign up for many of these, but because the companies do not know my preferences (or are not honoring my preferences) I find that they just end up in the trash bin. For example, I’m much more likely to read a marketing e-mail once I’m at work and seated at my desk as opposed to when I first wake up. Since I go through and clear out everything immediately in the morning, this would mean the e-mail would have to be sent after I get into my car and before I get to my desk.

When marketers think about context they need to think about the timing, mindset and overall experience of the consumer based on their current physical, emotional and mental state. Context is crucial because it takes into account all of these conditions and proactively designs a way to overcome them and get the message through on any channel. Here are four tips to help you boost the context within your marketing messages.

  1. Leverage Historical Time Data – Depending on the DMP you have implemented, you should be able to track the effectiveness of your marketing down to each consumer. As mentioned in the above example, if I am receiving a newsletter every day at the same time and the company sees I’m not opening it, it might be time to consider trying out a new time to make it more contextually relevant to my life. This can also include monitoring the times I follow-through on my purchases.
  1. Dig Into the Search Details – As I shop online and engage with different brands, everything I type into the search bar can be tracked (known or anonymous). Instead of looking for shoes, I’ve started typing in “blue shoes” and then “blue shoes size 12.” With each search I’m giving the brand more insight into my needs. At that moment I’m receptive to purchasing a very specific product. In your next promotion (which is hopefully quick), it should include blue shoes in my size.
  1. Leverage Cross-Device Use Patterns – The brands I’m engaging with should be able to understand how I navigate between my tablet, phone, laptop and desktop while engaging with their product. In fact, this is one thing I love about the Netflix. It is a seamless interaction that makes it easier for me as a consumer. I can navigate from my phone to my TV picking up exactly where I left off. Similarly with marketing, brands should be able to help me pick up where I left off to remain relevant to me. In fact, depending on the technology implemented – some brands can push me messages as I’m walking down the aisle of the product I need.
  1. Think Like a Consumer – Before planning out any campaign it is good to sit down and strategically think what you want to say. Work with your content developer to share the personas of your customers as a way to add contextually relevant content appealing to their emotions. Ask questions to better understand behavior. Depending on the amount of data you have available, you can message to them at a moment when they are most receptive by observing how they interact with your brand currently.

As you can see, context is important. Consumers are busy and they receive multiple messages on a daily basis. You can break through by understanding and adjusting your messaging to add context while honoring their preferences, time and mindset.

Introducing the DMP Discussions Handbook

When it comes to implementing a DMP, internal discussions are key. Even the biggest arsenal of results-based marketing strategies isn’t effective without clear communication across departments about what needs to happen. The right hand should always know what the left hand is doing, and vice versa.

The Internal DMP Discussions Handbook is designed to take you through that process step by step. In the handbook, you’ll find an in-depth exploration of the implementation process, along with the questions that CEOs, CMOs and marketers will need to ask both each other and the IT team at each point along the way. Questions like:

  • What business KPIs will we use to measure the success of the DMP?
  • Have we created a clear workflow that establishes each party’s role in DMP implementation?
  • How is the data being segmented?
  • And more.

 Download the handbook today.

 

I Love You, But You Don’t Know My Name: Personalizing the Customer Experience

As each year ticks by, consumer expectations increase when it comes to the depth of personalization of the brand experience. Many brands are doing their best to keep up, using customer data to identify key points of interaction to ramp up the customer love in fits and starts. While this is well intended and perhaps better than nothing (albeit worthy of an A/B test of no personalization versus limited personalization), it still begs for a more consistent approach.

But how do you introduce personalized consistency into a cross-channel mesh – and mess – of interactions?

Some suggestions:

  • Start with the audience you’re trying to reach and design your content strategy around them. Demonstrate that you know them by embracing your target personas as part of your “customer family.” Get intimate with who they are, what they do, what they think, what keeps them up at night, what makes them laugh. Find images of persona people (or a fair representation) and paste them on the walls of your office. Name them, nurture them, be inspired by them. Advisory groups and qualitative data can help.
  • Look at your core two or three audiences and map out the typical customer journey for each. Use that at a starting point to simplify the moments that matter. As you continue to advance in the use of data in an effort to grease the funnel, you can prevent the impression of fits and starts by mapping out and tackling one journey at a time. Even if you can’t do everything right away, you can at least allow for consistency across specific audiences. Start with the ones that matter most to your success.
  • Analyze the data you own for the most important “moments of truth.” Optimize those points of engagement first when it comes to effective messaging and customizing of cross-channel content.

You know more than you did a year ago about most of your core audiences. Take action on those insights and assumptions knowing that the use of a data management platform (DMP) with cross-channel integration can make easy work of something that’s become increasingly complex. It’s the fusion of science into the art of marketing to bring the brand experience to life for your audiences, and bringing your audiences to life for your brand.