The Rise of Big Data and Its Growing Importance in Marketing

Big data has made quite an entrance into the world of marketing. Though it’s largely been the playground of big brand names, many marketing professionals predict it will soon become an important piece of the marketing puzzle for companies of all sizes. Digital marketing has the power to produce an enormous amount of data about consumers and their spending habits, as well as what they seek. Companies that learn how to master this information to improve their marketing campaigns will be far better equipped to meet customer expectations and improve their bottom lines.

<strong>What big data can do for your company</strong>

With so many customers doing their shopping and research online, a nearly infinite amount of information can now be gathered on each potential lead. These details can provide you with clues to help you market your products more effectively and encourage visitors to convert into paying customers.

<strong>Why big data will become so critical</strong>

While the Internet has made it possible to work on a global scale and find your own individual niche, it has also produced a marketplace where countless businesses now perpetually vie for the attention of customers. Many people have started tuning out the perpetual marketing messages they encounter on their favorite websites, in their email, on the radio, and even on the buses they see on the way to work. Big data can give you the tools you need to better understand exactly what customers seek, so you can reach the right people at the right time with the right content, rather than broadcasting more general messages to larger audiences. Big data is all about learning to communicate better with customers and figuring out exactly what they seek. It’s bringing personalization back into marketing.

<strong>Using data to refine your marketing campaigns</strong>

Your company can use big data in a number of different ways. Analyze your sales records over the past few years. Look for seasonal trends and how various outside factors have influenced sales. Use the information to adjust your expectations and prices. You can also use big data to determine a more exact profile of your ideal buyer and how to reach them.

One of the biggest challenges for smaller companies is learning how to use data to adjust marketing campaigns. Many big data service providers focus primarily on larger organizations. If you’re a small business owner looking to capitalize on big data, look for a program that offers flexibility and scalability, so you can pick and choose the features that matter most to you. Only pay for the services you need, rather than all-encompassing packages that can be particularly crippling for small businesses.

Big data has influenced businesses of all sizes to begin transitioning from decision-making based primarily on feelings and perceptions to decisions based on concrete information and data. If you’re interested in taking advantage of what this new technology can offer, look into finding an affordable plan. We’d love to work with you to help you integrate your new insights into your marketing campaigns.

Taking Your Keywords to the Next Level

Keywords can be fantastic tools for attracting attention from potential customers. They help search engines ‘tune into’ your content and better match your pages to the queries people enter. Unfortunately, many companies use keywords at a very rudimentary level, failing to capitalize on what this simple optimization technique can do. Here are four ways you can easily improve the keywords you use on your website to bring in more visitors and increase your brand’s visibility.

<strong>1. Use the language your customers use.</strong>

Select keywords based on the way your customers speak. Often there’s a difference between how customers describe your industry and how you would describe it. Consider the types of jargon you and others in your industry commonly use when describing your products and services. Then compare that to how your customers tend to speak. If you sell a cloud-based service, for example, don’t assume your customers know the latest tech language, especially if you market your products to the average small business. Your keywords, and the language used throughout your site, should be user friendly.

<strong>2. Use language based on your buyer personas.</strong>

Your buyer personas can offer you considerable insight into your customers’ challenges and needs, so use them to help you optimize your content. As you develop your buyer personas and take a look at what motivates people to buy from you, start thinking about keywords that fit with each of these customer types, too.

<strong>3. Use your keywords throughout the page.</strong>

Look for ways to weave your keywords naturally into your content. When Google crawls your website, it looks at headlines and URLs, as well, to better ‘understand’ the content. Include your keywords in these spaces to better communicate with the search engines. Add them to your page meta description, too. When a customer sees your page on a list of search results, they’ll see the page title, URL, and meta description. Using your keywords in all of these areas will let search engines know what your pages are all about, while at the same time helping the people who are using those search engines know they’ve found a page that contains the information they seek.

<strong>4. Use your keywords naturally.</strong>

When it comes to keywords, more is not always better. In fact, more can often be worse. Overusing keywords comes across as forced and leads people to take your pages less seriously. Think about the last time you read something that had keywords placed oddly and used artificially. Chances are, you clicked away quickly. When website copy isn’t cohesive, people lose trust. Focus on providing reliable and valuable information for customers along with occasional, naturally placed keywords. This will help you get found organically and help improve your brand reputation.

Keywords can be a valuable tool for getting found and attracting the right type of people. Using them appropriately, according the four points above, can help you improve your keywords and see even more results from your marketing efforts.

Marketing Lessons from Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein has taught generations of children lessons about life from his books of fun and goofy poems. People of all ages can appreciate his wit and what he has to say. As adults, it’s easy to forget all those valuable words, but Shel Silverstein also has a number of lessons he can teach us about business and life. Here are four quotes from the famous poet that we should never forget as we begin to build and grow our businesses.

<strong>”Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”</strong>

This lesson can be very hard to remember in daily life. After all, most entrepreneurs have at least one force in their life telling them they’re not going to succeed. Sometimes one of the most important lessons is learning to tune out the naysayers and finding the mental strength to succeed in the face of adversity. Form your dreams, identify your goals, and plot a way to get there.

<strong>”If the track is tough and the hill is rough, <em>thinking</em> you can just ain’t enough.”</strong>

Forging your personal path is never easy. While most people intellectually understand there will be challenges, all too often, when these problems arise, they give up.

In business, you must accept the fact you’ll face problems and that things won’t always go according to plan. Sometimes the challenges will feel like too much. But if you have goals, you need the perseverance and strength to make it past the hurdles. Believing you can do so and determining the steps needed to succeed will give you the tools you need to continue along the path to your goals.

<strong>”If there is a book you want to read but isn’t written yet, write it.”</strong>

This quote applies to more than just books. It also applies to industries and businesses. If no one is fulfilling a particular niche and serving customers in a particular way, use that as your window of opportunity. The marketplace is extremely competitive. The companies that succeed are the ones that identify a need, determine a way to fill that hole, and then get their information in front of the necessary audience.

The idea of writing your own book also speaks to the importance of taking initiative. No matter what your position might be, finding ways to anticipate needs and then addressing those issues instead of waiting for someone else to notice the problem is an excellent way to get ahead and find both personal and company-wide success.

<strong>”Just ’cause somethin’ ain’t been done don’t mean it can’t be did.”</strong>

This quote also speaks to the importance of taking risks and being willing to be the first one to take a chance. This might mean developing a new product or service to fill a certain niche, or taking a conventional industry and finding completely unique ways to deliver your products and services. No matter what might drive you, don’t allow yourself to be limited by what others in the industry have done. Don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail and see where the road takes you.

Shel Silverstein has words of wisdom for all of us. Keep these quotes in mind and use them for the motivation you need to move forward. If you need help developing your marketing plan, contact us. We’ll be happy to offer guidance as you get started.

3 Key Marketing Trends to Add to Your Strategy for the New Year

Like many business leaders, you realize that digital marketing is here to stay. But you also know the marketing landscape is changing rapidly, which means that 2015 will bring many new ideas and necessities.

As you look back on your past year’s marketing and start developing plans for the year ahead, now is the perfect time to review some of the expected trends for 2015, so you can begin incorporating them into your campaigns. Here are three trends to consider.

<strong>The art of personalization</strong>

Developing relationships with prospective customers and nudging them closer to conversion is certainly nothing new. We all know that customers appreciate companies who care about them on an individual basis and take the extra time to address their concerns.

In 2015, however, the idea of personalization will go from a ‘nice extra’ to a necessity. Consumers have started realizing they’re in control of more of the buying experience. They’ll continue to seek companies who are willing to give them the more personalized attention they deserve.

Personalization must permeate your entire organization. Customers want to bond with you as individuals, not just as a brand. They appreciate hearing your story, seeing pictures, and learning about the people behind the scenes at your company. While such content shouldn’t consume all of your digital marketing, you should take the time to develop a one-to-one relationship with your customers.

<strong>The role of data</strong>

This is another area that will quickly move from trend to necessity in the coming year. While many at the forefront have already started collecting hard numbers to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns, it will become increasingly important for all businesses to follow that trend in the year ahead.

Digital marketing provides enormous potential for data collection. You can learn about where your page viewers are coming from, what they’re doing on your website, what engages them the most, what common characteristics they share, and how much money you’re spending for every lead and customer. This information will give you the tools you need to refine your campaigns, pinpoint the weak spots, and find ways to improve your efforts, while reducing costs and increasing the number of customers who convert.

<strong>Better internal communication</strong>

In 2015, efforts at improved communication will play a big part in planning and implementing digital marketing strategies. When you focus on improving communication between departments, two things happen:
<ol>
<li>Employees have a better idea of what is expected of them and how their job fits into the larger company picture. This increases their work satisfaction and the way they present the brand to the public.</li>

<li>Leads are better managed internally, as everyone has a clearer understanding of the role each team plays in the process. Departments work together in better harmony, and conversion rates improve.</li>
</ul>

The upcoming year is sure to bring many changes to the digital marketing world. Keeping these three key areas in mind will help you improve your strategies and standing as the new year begins.

What Politicians Can Teach Us About Audiences

The midterm elections may have wrapped up just a few weeks ago, but many are already turning their attention to 2016 and who may or may not make a run. In living rooms across America, people are letting out a collective sigh, knowing that when the next political season begins, they’ll be bombarded once again with advertisements trying to convince them that one candidate or another has the experience and ideas necessary to take the country in the right direction.

While it’s easy to grow weary of political advertising, if you ever stop and just focus on the message, instead of the politics involved, political candidates can actually teach us all a few things about marketing.

<strong>Politicians understand their audience</strong>

Successful politicians are master marketers. They construct narratives, brand stories, and reputations, and they work to inspire loyalty and admiration. But one of their most intriguing campaign techniques is the art of tailoring their message to the audience they’re trying to reach.

Politicians must appeal to a wide variety of voter groups and constituencies. When a politician is speaking with representatives from a certain population, or is developing an advertisement most likely to reach this particular demographic, they’ll use language and cover topics that are more important to this group.

Why? Politicians understand that the best way to influence people’s loyalty is by tailoring their message to what matters most to each voter group. Generally speaking, young people know that Social Security is important, but it doesn’t typically impact their daily life. On the other hand, seniors understand the importance of education and jobs for a thriving economy, but most retirees don’t find these to be pressing concerns for them personally.

The successful politician takes these generalities and develops a message that speaks directly to each respective audience.

<strong>Taking the lesson home</strong>

If you want to grow your company, you need to do the same thing as these politicians. Take your buyer personas and carefully examine the issues and challenges that impact them the most. Discover what motivates your buyers, where they struggle, and how your products or services can meet their needs. Use this information to tailor your marketing messages, so you can reach your intended audience. Just like different voting groups, your different personas might be motivated by different things.

When you tailor your message and your voice to each potential audience, you’ll greatly enhance your odds of reaching them and converting them to your brand. Rather than tuning out the politicians during the upcoming election cycle, take a lesson and learn how to make your own message speak directly to your particular buyer personas.

5 Tips for Developing Content That Will Resonate With Your Audience

When developing content for your website and marketing materials, you want to create pieces that will resonate with your audience. This will encourage them to read what you’ve produced, share it on social media and with friends, and — most importantly — remember what you said. Strong content will enhance brand loyalty and improve the success of your entire marketing campaign. Here are five tips to help you create more meaningful content.

<strong>Analyze your buyer personas</strong>

Buyer personas exist to give you insight into the people you’re trying to reach, so use them to produce the best types of content. Gather information such as:
<ul>
<li>the challenges your customers are facing</li>
<li>circumstances that prevent them from buying</li>
<li>their budget</li>
<li>their goals</li>
</ul>

This type of information should give you clear guidelines about the kinds of content these people will pay attention to. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, interview your existing customers and take surveys of your target population.

<strong>Look at what content gets the best responses</strong>

Take a look at your past content to see what people respond to most frequently. If you thought a topic was only mediocre but it managed to generate exceptional traffic and attention, you can feel pretty confident that it resonated with page viewers. Use past site data to plan future content on subjects that garner the most interest to keep visitors engaged. Create videos, experiment with different formats, or dive into hot topics from a completely new angle.

<strong>Examine multiple formats of content</strong>

Different formats, such as video, are increasingly catching steam. People enjoy watching videos to get up close and personal with the people they do business with at a company. Monitor your video views and see how well customers are responding to your productions. This will give you insight into how often you should work to produce this type of content.

<strong>Offer genuine value</strong>

Some companies get hesitant about producing real value for their readers. They imagine that if they give away all their ‘secrets’ no one will need to hire them. No blog, however well-written, ever made anyone a complete expert on a new industry.

Instead of worrying about revealing too much, work to offer real value to your readers so they can see the expertise you have to offer. It’s this kind of genuine value — not wishy-washy, bland content that teaches people nothing — that will turn readers into followers and followers into customers. The more value you can offer readers, the more they’ll come back to read your posts again. Don’t be afraid to take a stand, form opinions on subjects in your industry, and produce content that’s worth reading.

<strong>Understand your customers’ current situations</strong>

When your company appears on top of the issues facing your customers and sensitive to their problems, people will naturally gravitate toward what you have to say. If you acknowledge and address news in your industry, your customers will appreciate that you’re keeping them informed. Look for ways to keep the timing of your blog posts relevant. For example, in the winter, a plumber might write blog posts about how to keep pipes from freezing, what to do if they do freeze, and similar bits of information that show an understanding of the struggles customers are facing right now.

Producing meaningful content is key to keeping your website visitors engaged and continually returning to your blog. These five ideas will give you the tools you need to produce posts and information that will resonate with your readers and inform them, which can improve your conversion rates and the success of your marketing campaigns.

What We Can Learn From Children Learning to Play Together

Imagine a preschool classroom filled with three- and four-year-old kids, each eager to play with a certain toy firetruck. The disagreements over whose turn it is quickly draw the attention of the teacher, who is immediately inundated with different versions of the story. According to one student, it’s her turn because one of the little boys in the class has been playing with it “all afternoon.” The little boy counters with, “No, I haven’t! And besides, you’ll just break it anyway!”

The teacher sits down and attempts for the hundredth time to teach her students about the virtues of sharing. She explains that by sharing the toys, the children will be able to develop much more elaborate games and have a lot more fun. Playing together will give them a chance to explore new ideas, create new characters, and have all sorts of adventures with the firetruck. She is only partly successful.

In an effort to maintain the peace in the small classroom and reinforce her lesson, the teacher creates a behavior chart for playing with the favorite toy of the day. The chart describes, in preschool language, how the toy will be played with and when it needs to be passed to another student.

The students quickly learn that the teacher is right. When they share the toy together, they end up having much more fun. On those days when the students neglect their newly-found sharing skills, however, the chart provides a handy reference to help them get back on track.

<strong>How does this lesson in sharing apply to marketing?</strong>

Take the warring students and replace them with the sales and marketing departments at some companies. An estimated 87 percent of the words used by marketing and sales departments to describe each other are negative, yet when these two teams are aligned, they can accomplish so much more. Just like the more elaborate games of childhood, aligned sales and marketing teams can produce up to 20 percent more profit! When the teams are well-aligned, they maximize their lead cultivation and achieve a much higher conversion rate.

<strong>Using a written agreement to help align your teams</strong>

The teacher in our story discovered that while meetings and lessons helped to encourage the students to play together, the behavior chart gave them something to look back on as a reference when things went wrong. A similar chart (though more elaborate, of course) can help sales and marketing teams coexist more peacefully, too. Such a chart should define terms, behavior, and the steps each team will take in cultivating and contacting leads.

Clearly defining the roles and expectations of sales and marketing teams will help each understand better what role the other plays in generating leads. The teams will also stay on the same page about when a lead is sales ready and when information should be passed along. When the marketing team finds leads, they’ll do a better job of passing along lead intelligence to the sales team, so the sales professionals know what contact the company has already had with this particular person. When salespeople receive a lead, they’ll have clearly defined expectations of the type and amount of contact they should have with the lead.

Working together will enhance communication, improve understanding, and make it easier to stay on the same page. Enforcing this agreement with regular meetings to judge progress can ensure everyone remains satisfied.

Aligning sales and marketing teams can be a fantastic way to improve profits and brand representation. Just like children learning to share, showing employees the value of working together, while also having a common agreement to back up the lesson, can help improve performance for everyone.