Digital Marketing Today is More About Science, Less About Magic

We’ve seen so many changes take place as a result of the digital revolution. Think beyond “mobile” and “social.” I’m talking about an even greater change. A change that has made it easier for some of us to do our jobs and harder for others. I’m talking about the rise of data and its role in marketing and how various tools today can help marketers be successful with little to no creativity.

This past September, I had the pleasure of attending #INBOUND15 in Boston. It was a radical conference – so many great like-minded marketers, awesome entertainment and food, and wonderful breakout sessions and speakers. During the keynote, co-founder and CEO of Hubspot Brian Halligan spoke about the importance of software and tools today. At one point, he said this:

“Today, marketing is more about science and less about magic.”

I wrote it down. Along with another 50 pages of notes throughout the four days there.

It wasn’t until recently when I did a download of my takeaways that I revisited the quote. I let it digest and gave it a lot of thought. And finally I started to figure it what it meant (to me, at least). Come to find out, it really resonated because it was a similar theme that I’ve been preaching for a while. I just never worded it that way.

 

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Right and Left Brains

My interpretation is that there are two types of marketers. Those that are right-brained and creative and those that are left-brained and not. Because of the importance of data/technical-ness in our daily lives today, it’s becoming more and more common for left-brained folks to serve a real purpose. Of course, having teams made up of both is essential – but this concept of science trumping art (aka magic) is surely something to think about.

Now I certainly don’t intend to undermine the importance of creativity. Today, perhaps more than ever, requires great creative (copy, writing, graphics, video) to actually be noticed. On TV, through streaming ads, in social media – everywhere. The very foundation of marketing was built on that that is interesting, captivating and engaging. And that will not change.

But there’s a critical place for all of you who are not so savvy. The folks who draw stick figures or have trouble writing. There’s a place for you because so much of what we do today is drawn from the ability to work with, navigate and excel at very important software that help us get the job done on a daily basis. A place because numbers and analytics are the battery that helps the marketing clock keep ticking. Because everything we do today requires measurement. It’s what allows us to track ROI and deem a project successful or unsuccessful. And the tools available to us today allow us to track at a microscopic level. It’s no longer guesswork like it was in the 60s. We can prove the true value to our work.

Important Tools Today

It was hilarious, a few weeks ago, when Google Drive crapped the bed and was down all afternoon. Twitter was buzzing with complaints and my office was refreshing Google’s support page every 5 minutes. We, as marketers, cannot work without three things: WiFi, our devices, and our software. Too much of what we do every day relies on it. And when we lose that connection, we are a waste of air. And it’s because so much of our day is consumed by powerful software that we use to get the job done. I betcha you use some these:

Reporting:

  • Raven Tools
  • KISSMetrics
  • Google Analytics

Marketing Automation:

  • HubSpot
  • Marketo
  • SharpSpring

SEO Services:

  • SEMRush
  • Raven Tools
  • Majestic SEO

Public Relations:

  • CisionPoint
  • Vocus
  • Meltwater

Social Media Management:

  • SproutSocial
  • Falcon
  • Hootsuite

The list goes on and on. It’s so important to have members on our team who are great at thoroughly using software to uncover and interpret data, manage projects, and strategically make wise decisions. That’s why young marketers (or those looking to come over from other fields) should understand this:

Creativity is not the end-all-be-all of marketing. If you are a left-brained, less creative person, you can find ways to excel in the field by using the many various tools at your disposal. Take advantage of technical traits, and you can find ways to be extremely successful.

I actually feel I sit more on the right hand side of the spectrum. So all of this came to me not because I thought I was technically-savvy, but because I thought it would be helpful to try and improve those types of skills. Alas, I did some research and found some help. Below, find 5 certifications that I believe to be less on the creative side, and more on the analytical side that can help individuals looking to become better at left-brained marketing.

Codeacademy: HTML and CSS

Code has been always Greek to me. I always felt intimidated in front of it. But as a content marketer and SEO professional, I found myself often times being faced with it. Now I wasn’t expecting to build full blown websites, but the opportunity certainly came up where I need to make tweaks, override CSS for styling, or identify errors so my development team could have a better understanding of what was going on. The basics are taught on codeacademy through an excellent hands-on approach that so many have completed to date to help improve this technical trade. I’m a fan.

Hootsuite Social Media Management

Social media is still that bad boy from high school that everyone thinks is cool but no one respects. But it’s slowly coming around as more and more brands find value (in terms of real, legitimate leads and sales) through these channels. Conducting effective social media require a whole lot of creativity – from the content that is prepared and distributed to the ads that are built to drive awareness, push content further or grows followers. But think about timing, measurement and monitoring. There’s definitely a place for technical minds to help with social media. Give them a thorough understanding of social media so they can assist with the efforts. Take advantage of Hootsuite’s offering.

Hubspot Inbound Certification

Inbound certainly requires great creativity – especially when it comes to the content creation portion, the landing page designs, or the clever email copy. But beyond that is building a system of workflows, triggers and emails that make sense to help nurture leads over time. It requires looking closely at data to figure out the best time to reach out to leads and make contact. And do not overlook A/B testing, heatmaps and more. It’s a must to create a plan that can take those quality pieces of content and get the most out it. These technical skills can be improved through HubSpot’s certification. (And even more through its partner program).

The Google Suite

If you aren’t familiar with Google software, it’s hard to be successful in marketing today. From Webmaster Tools to Analytics to AdWords to Tag Manager to Drive to Hangouts, it’s practically impossible to go an entire day without running into a component of the Google suite. Consider certifications from the tech giant to become better at using AdWords, Tag Manager and Analytics and understand both basic and advanced technical functions to get the most use out of these tools. It will likely allow you to not only do a better job on your next SEO, advertising or marketing project, but you’ll probably be able to work faster by knowing shortcuts and the right features to get the job done.

Project Management Institute

Projects today are very complex. If you’re a believer in an integrated approach, you’ll start with a strategy, have multiple players involved, set benchmarks, assign tasks, budget costs and hours, and more. Great project management skills require organization and focus. It’s not for the faint of heart, or a loosy-goose mind. Take advantage of the skills that can be attained through this certification and manage projects better, from start to finish. It’s not “technical” per se, but it certainly requires much more of a focused, rigid mindset than that of a creative set of skills.

Wrap Up

More of a left-brained individual? Don Draper had no room for you in 1964. If you couldn’t draw or write copy, you were wasting his time.

Now, our teams are more diverse. Marketing encompasses more duties and responsibilities. And the skills required for this field are dense. Analytics, measurement, data, and using powerful software to its fullest potential and abilities can make a regular ‘ol marketer a certified genius. If you’re a numbers guy/girl, development guy/girl, and an overly tech-savvy guy/girl, you can probably find a suitable niche.

Listen, I’m one of the biggest advocates on the face of the earth for great creative. And more importantly, I appreciate good artists and I despise those who try to be something they are not (the “I know my way around Photoshop a little bit” type artists). Good content writing. Good visuals. Good copywriting. It’s all an integral part of successful marketing and developing a powerful brand – especially online. But it’s still a piece. And there are other shoes that need to be filled. Measurement is a must. And those analytical, technical minds are so important.

We need you.

This post was originally featured in SEMrush.com. To view the original article, please click here.

What Mario Kart Taught Me About Business

I’m not much of a gamer anymore. I used to be. Then again, weren’t we all in the 90s? Nintendo was pretty much our generation’s iPhone. Mostly everyone had one. And those who didn’t have one, wanted one. It was fresh, cool and continually being modified with newer versions and games that were better than the last. I fell in love with Super NES in 1994 when my brother and I got it as a Christmas gift. And on it, we loved playing one of the greatest party games of all time: Mario Kart.

 

 

Parents used to always rag on video games back then. Remember? They advised us that we should go outside and throw the ball around instead of sitting on the couch playing video games. “It will rot your brains,” they preached. “Those games don’t teach you anything.”

But now as an adult, I find myself constantly feeling nostalgic, thinking about those great games and if what our parents said was actually true. And then I started to realize something.

Mario Kart was a great parallel to the business world.

It didn’t rot my brain. No sir, Mario Kart taught me everything I know about life! Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but there’s certainly something to be said about the game and the lessons it lends to today’s business world, especially those looking to excel in marketing. Here’s three key reasons why I find Mario Kart to be the perfect metaphor to succeeding in today’s workplace.

Every Employee Has Different Skills

You turn on the game, and before you can even start thinking about all the fun you are about you have, you have to make a decision. In the worry-free 1990s, this was probably the most important decision you were going to make all month. Which character are you going to be?

I love how Nintendo made each character distinct. Not only in who they are, but in the strengths they possessed. Mario was well-balanced, for example. He didn’t have any stats that were off-the-chart, but was a great well-rounded driver. You could count on him to do a good job on all courses. Toad was light and had excellent handling abilities but his size and stature didn’t fair well when getting bumped by the big boys. Speaking of which, Bowser’s size and weight made him have slow acceleration speed but top off at the highest speed once he got going.

In the workplace, we all have unique strengths. At my company, upon hire, our president makes us each take the StrengthsFinder test as well as a personality test. By doing so, the group can quickly get a feel for a new member’s work style and what he/she might be great at. There’s a total of 33 strengths in this particular study. Some include:

  • Achiever
  • Belief
  • Competition
  • Developer
  • Discipline
  • Empathy
  • Focus
  • Futuristic
  • Positivity
  • Strategic

What I love about the book (that supports the test) is that it instructs readers to not focus on trying to compensate for weaknesses, but rather take time to understand and accentuate strengths. Just like Mario Kart, different employees, based on their strengths, might be better suited for certain projects, tasks, clients, etc. Maximizers are wonderful at working through the details, woo (winning others over) are great in client facing roles or in sales, etc.

It’s also helpful to take a look at personality types. Using the Jung and Briggs Myers model, learn which of the 16 personality types you fall in. By carefully understanding your personality, you can do a better job at adjusting your work style to find greater productivity and efficiency and settle into roles where you will succeed.

In Mario Kart, you have to know what you are good at to compete at the highest level. Understanding each team member’s strengths in your company can help you do a better job at aligning the proper resources to each project, while seeing far greater quality in work. Manage by strength, not by name or title.

All Markets Are Different

I bet running a small business was easy in the 1880s. You opened your business, maybe put an ad in the local newspaper, and dealt with all those great, loyal customers walking through the door. Life was good.

Today, it’s much more complicated. The web and mobile make geographical reach virtually non-existent. Remote staff and sales teams allow us to hire anyone, anywhere. The ability to reach all sorts of customers let even the most niche product or service have the potential for success beyond any sort of borders.

And at that same time, competition is fiercer than ever because anyone can start a business, raise funds, operate a staff, and sell a product. You see how much some of these GoFundMe pages have raised? It’s more important now, more than ever, to fully understand your market and target audience.

One of the coolest things about Mario Kart is the different courses that you encountered. Each was unique with different themes, roads, and enemies. It took weeks or even months of playing before you could master them all and know the special nuances of each. But let’s not mention Rainbow Road.

Tying back to real life, your market is the course. Each with a different landscape and makeup.

You may not have a bird’s eye view of your market like Mario, but you can research and pull from past experiences. As long as you have the time, talent and resources, you have access to data and information that can help you understand your market and audience and better lay out your business plans.

Explore blog posts, case studies and online statistics, and lean on research to build out buyer personas to see what your target audience is like – from both a demographic and psychographic perspective. Read into the cultural makeup of the areas that you are selling in to see if there are any correlations with buying habits.

Some activities to gather this information could include:

  • Google Consumer Surveys
  • Email Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Google Analytics and Social Media Demographic Data
  • User-Testing
  • Customer and Company Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Secondary Research
  • Negative Persona Development

The information gathered should be complete and help establish a comprehensive understanding of the audience. Some things you’ll definitely want to gather include:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Education
  • Income
  • Company
  • Title
  • Family
  • Language
  • Favorite Website
  • Favorite Apps
  • Preferred Device
  • Buying Motivations
  • Buying Concerns

There are resources out there, you just need to find them. Do so before you create any action plans so you can tailor the product, service, brand, and messaging for the audience within that market. And make sure to keep a close eye on your competitors too. You wouldn’t want Donkey Kong sneaking up on you and blasting you with a triple red shell now, would you?

Different Tactics Work At Different Times

When the race began, you had one goal. Get a weapon as soon as possible.

The genius behind Nintendo is their creativity with things like this. Each weapon offered a different advantage, and some even could come back to haunt you. The green shells were sent flying to try and knock off a leading racer. Red shells were similar but tracked the competitor for increased accuracy. And the blue shell chased the race leader! Banana peals were dropped behind you and hopefully forced your nearest enemy to slip and wipe out. And of course you also had mushroom boosts and the beloved star power.

In the business world, and most especially in marketing, we have an incredibly wide breadth of tactics at our disposal to try and reach our goals and/or improve our bottom line.

I came up with a list of 99 marketing tactics one day just to try and see how many were available to me while I was working on a new marketing plan. The fact is: we have a ton of options. Here’s just a few:

  • Affinity programs
  • Blogger outreach
  • Contests
  • Employee videos
  • Lead nurturing
  • Loyalty programs
  • Mobile apps
  • Podcasting
  • Social Media
  • Remarketing
  • Webinars
  • Websites

But what works best?

Of course that all depends on the company, the competitive landscape, the industry, budget, the audience and more. Before your new calendar year begins, put together a marketing plan that will map out everything you are looking to accomplish this year and why.

And before you start making the decisions on what to include, begin with research. Not all tactics are created equal and some companies see greater success than others, depending on how well they’ve crafted their plan.

In Mario Kart, some items work better than others. That depends on the course, the player, your current positioning, and the enemies in front or behind you.

In the game, it was a toss up what weapon you’d receive each time. And you were left dealing with the hand you were deal. Fortunately, in the business/marketing world, it’s not random. You have the power to choose whatever tactics you want.

Do the research, understand the market, lay out a strategy, and select the tactics that work best for you to help your company reach your goals. Choose wisely and work towards earning the most profound ROI around your work.

So, there ya go. See, Mario Kart really did teach us kids something. Happy personality test-taking, buyer persona-creating, marketing plan-building, and of course, Mario Kart playing. Have fun! And good luck!

This article originally appeared on Steamfeed.com. To view the full article, please visit: http://www.steamfeed.com/what-mario-kart-taught-me-about-business/

99 Tactics Every Marketer Should Know

Puzzle integration with internet securityIt’s funny to think that there was once a time when TV, newspaper, and radio ads were the most powerful forms of marketing. Today, there are so many more options out there to help brands build relationships and grow sales. Put simply, we’ve advanced. I find it odd that some companies choose to invest in only one particular tactic like, say, online banner ads and expect to see results. Don’t get me wrong; PPC can be a great form of marketing, but you aren’t going to move the needle with just one effort. It’s just not possible. Instead, you need many things working together towards a common goal. The lines are blurring amongst marketing disciplines and this integrated approach is key to reaching audiences efficiently and influencing their buying decisions. There are many tactics that a company can and should be taking advantage of. A strategy should be put in place first to organize a plan and determine which efforts are most likely to help meet objectives. Throughout this development process, consider all the tactics available, especially less popular ones that might require some extra work or creativity but could be a perfect fit for your brand. Keep in mind that integrating your tactics together with an aligned theme and messaging has added value. Here’s the list of 99 different tactics that marketing communication professionals can utilize in their efforts:

  1. A/B testing
  2. Advergames (branded games)
  3. Affinity marketing
  4. App store optimization
  5. Associations and memberships
  6. Awards
  7. Billboard ads
  8. Blogger outreach
  9. Brand development
  10. Broadcast or TV ads
  11. Buyer personas
  12. Case studies
  13. Cause marketing
  14. Chalk art
  15. Co-ops
  16. Community goodwill, donations, or volunteering
  17. Consumer data/feedback collection
  18. Content marketing
  19. Contests
  20. Contributed posts
  21. Couponing
  22. Crisis communication
  23. Custom voicemails
  24. Digital billboards
  25. Direct mail
  26. Downloads
  27. Drip marketing
  28. E-books
  29. E-commerce
  30. Editorials
  31. Email marketing
  32. Employee videos
  33. Flyers
  34. Free trials and sampling
  35. Gamification
  36. Giveaways
  37. Guerrilla marketing
  38. Hand written notes (thank you’s, birthday, holiday, etc) to customers/prospects
  39. Hosted events
  40. How-to videos
  41. In-game ads
  42. Industry events and conferences
  43. Internal or external trainings
  44. Lead generation and lead nurturing
  45. Linking
  46. Live chat and enhanced customer service
  47. Local optimization
  48. Market research
  49. Media relations and PR
  50. Mini-sites and landing pages
  51. Mobile app development
  52. Mobile marketing and SMS
  53. Motion or animated videos
  54. Movie theater ads
  55. Newsletters
  56. On-site blogging
  57. Outdoor street ads
  58. Packaging designs
  59. Paid posts from social media stars
  60. Personalized products
  61. Point of purchase signage
  62. Point of sale literature
  63. Pop ups or pop unders
  64. PowerPoint presentations
  65. PPC ads
  66. Press releases
  67. Print ads
  68. Product or employee photos
  69. Product placement
  70. PSAs or video PSAs
  71. Publicity stunts
  72. Radio ads
  73. Referral program
  74. Remarketing
  75. Reporting and analysis
  76. Reputation management
  77. Reviews
  78. Reward or loyalty programs
  79. Sales promotions and discounts
  80. Sales sheets and white papers
  81. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  82. Social media listening and monitoring
  83. Social media marketing
  84. Speaking opportunities
  85. Spokesperson and media training
  86. Sponsorships
  87. Street teams
  88. Team building outings
  89. Telemarketing and cold calling
  90. Testimonials
  91. Tracking and measurement
  92. Tradeshows
  93.  Tutorials and demos
  94. User testing
  95. Viral marketing
  96. Vlogging
  97. Webinars and podcasts
  98. Webisodes and branded shows
  99. Websites

When choosing tactics, it’s important to consider your audience’s media consumption habits, your budget, as well as your team’s time and talent. Remember that it most often takes seven touchpoints to win over a customer. Be conscious of the tactics you are selecting and where you are interacting with those prospects within the buying process. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s better to thoroughly execute a few rather than having too many on your plate and falling short. Ask questions like, what has worked in the past? What hasn’t? What are your competitors doing? What can you do differently? What does your research show would be most cost effective? Where can you afford to take a risk? Can your messaging and creative be applied to all tactics?

One of my favorite integrated campaigns from the past year is from Chipotle. It’s done a fantastic job at tying together many tactics, which all revolve around their main messaging of healthier, fresher foods. Maybe you’ve seen the animated TV ads or custom-branded streamed show, “Farmed and Dangerous?” Have you played its mobile game, The Scarecrow? Those more edgy tactics were backed up traditional PR, SM, and SEO. It worked. Really well.

Another great integrated campaign was Dove’s Real Beauty. The messaging focused on anti-Photoshop, anti-fake perceptions of women’s appearances. That confidence and self-esteem mattered more than society’s view of what is beautiful. It began with market research. Dove then launched a cause marketing campaign to help influence the young generation with help from the Boys & Girls Club of America, as well as the Girl Scouts of the USA. It utilized viral marketing with a good deal of attention given to its “Real Beauty Sketches” YouTube video, housed on a branded mini-site. Don’t forget about the ever-present TV and print ads.

You don’t have to be a large corporation to mimic both Chipotle and Dove’s successes. Plan your tactics well and take time to get creative with each one. Spend time planning. Spend time executing. Spend time evaluating. Next, use that information to determine the best tactics. Learn from your findings and adapt your plan moving forward. Don’t be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone if it makes sense for your brand. The most successful campaigns refuse to play it safe. And most importantly…integrate.

Did I miss any tactics in the list? Make sure to comment below so professionals can learn of all of their available options!

101 Different Types of Content for Your Content Marketing Plan

Content Image

We keep hearing it over and over again: “Content is King. Content is King!” And it’s true. Content is the single best way to drive people to your website today. Various types of content, strategically connected to your brand, can work wonders in capturing the attention of consumers and leading them in your direction. But you have to provide some sort of value. Teach them something. Entertain them. Do something that makes it worth their while. That’s where you have the opportunity to tell them about your brand and what you can do for them.

I always encourage my clients to create boatloads of great content. That’s when they say: “Well, we already blog, so what more can we do?” Ahhh yes. I’m so glad you asked. Because in fact, there’s actually 100 more things you can do.

I’ve compiled a list of 101 things that can act as content on your website. Some are standalone, some work together, but most importantly, they can all be promoted on the social web and be used as resources to drive your target audience to your website. Content will help attract traffic, accumulate more social shares, improve SEO efforts, and more. Your end goal is to leverage these types of materials so you can do a better job at educating or entertaining your audience to sell your products or services, strengthen your brand, or both.

Are you ready? Here we go:

  1. A/B testing and results
  2. Affiliations and partners
  3. Aggregation of articles
  4. Animated gifs
  5. Associations and memberships
  6. Audio recordings
  7. Background and experience info
  8. Blog posts
  9. Book summaries
  10. Brochures
  11. Cartoons
  12. Case studies
  13. Certifications
  14. Charts
  15. Cheat sheets
  16. Comics
  17. Comments
  18. Commercials
  19. Comparisons
  20. Contests
  21. Creative stories
  22. Custom software
  23. Customer reviews
  24. Data and statistics
  25. E-books
  26. Email newsletters
  27. Embedded tweets
  28. Event information
  29. FAQs
  30. Files and spreadsheets
  31. Flyers
  32. Free guides
  33. Full videos
  34. Giveaways
  35. Graphs
  36. Guest posts
  37. History
  38. How-to guides
  39. Illustrations
  40. Infographics
  41. Interviews
  42. Lists
  43. Live chats
  44. Live streaming video
  45. Maps
  46. Media mentions
  47. Memes
  48. Micoblog posts
  49. Micro-videos
  50. Mind maps
  51. Mobile apps
  52. Music videos
  53. News
  54. News releases
  55. Newsjacking write-ups
  56. Newsletters
  57. Online games
  58. Personal bios
  59. Photo galleries
  60. Photos
  61. Pin boards
  62. Plugins
  63. Podcasts
  64. Polls
  65. Portfolio pieces
  66. PowerPoints or SlideShare presentations
  67. Predictions
  68. Pricing
  69. Pricing sheets
  70. Product demos
  71. Product or service information
  72. PSAs or video PSAs
  73. Q&As
  74. Questionnaires
  75. Quizzes
  76. Quotes and Inspirational messages
  77. Ratings
  78. Research or synthesized information
  79. Resource pages
  80. Results of polls, surveys and questionnaires
  81. Reviews
  82. ROI calculators
  83. Sales sheets
  84. Screencasts
  85. Screenshots
  86. Site tour videos
  87. Software reviews
  88. Specification or data sheets
  89. Stupid, fake and funny images and captions
  90. Surveys
  91. Templates
  92. Testimonials
  93. Timelines
  94. “To do” and “what not to do” articles
  95. Twitter chats
  96. User-generated content
  97. Vlogs
  98. Webinars
  99. White papers
  100. Wikis
  101. Worksheets

Remember. Entertain > educate > persuade > convert. That’s your goal. All of the content above can be included in your content marketing plan to do a better job at building your online presence and boosting your traffic. So next time you’re in a conversation about content marketing, or if you are developing your content calendar, you should no longer struggle to come up with ways your company can start leveraging this tactic. Select one or more from the ideas above! Good luck!