Tuesday 1/27

Getting the word out about your blog, website or another area of your social media presence can make all the difference in the world to a struggling company, but with so many areas of input battling for internet user’s attention, it can be hard to draw in the customers you seek. I have selected a few courses from Hootsuite University’s upper level classes that should help streamline your content creation and strengthen your online community.

SCMD 161: Generating and Sharing Content Effectively

The effective use of content creation and also curation can help you engage with your audience while at the same time let your audience feel engaged with your brand as they soak up the information you provide them with.

Created content is exactly how it sounds, content that is original work of your business that is then posted across your social media pages. It is important that your content is interesting, engaging and educational to your audience but creating content like this can be taxing on your resources. It is important that you strike a balance between content quality and quantity. Too much low-quality content will lower the image of your brand with your audience while less, but higher quality content might not be frequent or captivating enough to drive interest from audience.

Curated content is content relevant to your business that is sourced from other media outlets, that is then reviewed by your team to ensure it properly educates and informs the audience your business is directed at. Curation allows your business to save valuable time while also still putting out great quality content that engages and educates your audience. The types of curated content your company publishes should include articles, infographics, photos and relevant blog posts from around your industry. Aggregation can help to gather high quality content from experts in the field, but you should be careful not to include anything from your direct competitors.

SCMD 162: Growing Your Online Community

An online community is a group of people rallying around a shared, common interest. It is important for businesses to recognize their community, and engage with them so that they foster a strong presence within that community. Individuals within a community include followers, customers, influencers and competing businesses.

Listening to your community can provide insight on to how your company is viewed, and to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your products. Communities can also help you when working on a new product as you can poll or directly ask members questions about the features they would like to see implemented by your company. This helps the community to feel like they contributed to the overall product design. A strong community will also help to save you time and effort by the presence of informed customers or community members, who can answer a question or concern for you, reducing the amount of resources spent on the community. Although it is still crucial to monitor and listen to your community.

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Thursday 1/22

Social media is everywhere, always combating for our attention. It seems like everywhere you go, no matter what, something will be there battling for your share, like or tweet. Take the most recent advertisement for Eggo Toaster Waffles for example, it features a family of five sitting down to enjoy breakfast, but instead of a knife and fork in each hand, each individual is glued to their phone, arguing over who will be the first to share a picture of their waffle on social media. It paints a grim but all-too-true picture of modern times.

Social media is here to stay, whether some of us like it or not, and it’s prevalence will only continue to grow as we move forward. Sites like twitter and Facebook promote constant contact between people and businesses, allowing consumers to have their questions or concerns addressed faster than ever before. These sites also foster an easier way to understand and reach your consumer, as everything online is logged and tracked, it allows businesses to analyze exactly what their customers are interested in and where they spend their money.

This means ads on your social media feeds are tailored to exactly what you have been looking for lately. Say you were interested in buying a new pair of shoes off of Eastbay but didn’t pull the trigger, so you go to twitter or Facebook to kill some time while you think about that purchase. As soon as you load your newsfeed, 9 times out of 10, there will be an ad for the shoes you were just looking at, enforcing your decision, and triggering a response in your mind to buy those shoes.

Social media is also a great way for businesses to promote their products or services for little cost to the business. MOZ described this in their ebook as “Like-Love-Defend” which can be broken down like this: A customer shows interest by liking/sharing something about your product, that action is displayed to each and every one of that customer’s friends, increasing awareness of your product. Then the customer buys that product, and if they turn out to love it, they are most likely to share that they love it with everyone they can. If they truly love your product then they will promote it and defend it as well. A process that results in a cycle of promotion for your product, with very little input from the company itself.

For what it’s worth, I figured the people behind Buzzfeed to be some evil lizard-people that require mindless clicks on recycled content for sustenance. Turns out that it is actually run by a very savvy, and innovative businessman named Emerson Spartz. The site’s infamous titles and headlines are actually the product of a careful analysis of the modern Internet user and their habits. Content is screened to users with a process similar to A/B testing, in which a bunch of headlines are tested and the one that does the best sticks to that article. Sure some of their content is recycled, but it is just business to Spartz, as content that has already been seen can still generate ad revenue.

Tuesday 1/20

According to Scribe, in their ebook (more like a big pamphlet on why you should be using their software): The Business Case for Agile Content Marketing, “the job of any smart marketer is to enter a conversation that’s already taking place, and channel existing desire for solutions and benefits onto a specific solution.” I actually like this metaphor as it accurately describes the role of a content marketer.

In this case, the conversation is the want or need that a potential customer has. This conversation is “already taking place” because at this point the customer has expressed their want with an Internet search. The role of the content marketer then is to optimize their content in a way that not only reaches their customers and fulfills that need, but also does so in the most efficient way possible. This is done by creating content that speaks the same language as your audience while also resulting in a strong ranking among search engine results.

However, strong search engine results are not enough to succeed in today’s online business environment, the content of your website and how you handle it play an equal, if not larger role in getting customers to your desired resolution. Content marketers who do no pick up on current or upcoming trends will fail to strive. Content Harmony listed several trends to take advantage of in the upcoming year, and compared them to the old trends that drive away customers.

The first is to have a mixed content strategy, with plenty of info, visuals and graphics to present more visually appealing content to your audience. The second trend is to choose your battles on the social media front, instead of having an all-you-can-eat, use every social-site strategy. Another trend is to have structured microdata on only the metrics that are important to your business and not marking up everything on your site as it can lead to wasted time and resources.

One trend that I found interesting was the use of print content marketing. I previously thought that this form of marketing would be dying out but Content Harmony makes a strong case for using printed marketing. Handing out a magazine at a tradeshow might seem to old school for today’s marketing climate but if that magazine is well organized and grabs the audience’s attention, it can give your potential customers something that is physical and lasts, and helps your business in segments it might be struggling in.

http://www.contentharmony.com/blog/2015-content-marketing-trends/#

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2015/01/5-pillars-successful-content-marketing/

https://markstaton.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/the-business-case-for-content-marketing.pdf

Thursday 1/15

Today I learned where the slang term “limey” (used to describe someone originating from the United Kingdom) came from and it was surprisingly not from my England-born grandmother. This bit of insight actually came from the Microsoft study about not listening to the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion), in which they described a 17th century ship captain looking to help his nation’s navy overcome the scourge of scurvy. To find out why his nation’s seamen were so prone to getting this debilitating disease when compared to the navy of Mediterranean countries, he risked half of his crew in a controlled experiment. One half was given limes in addition to their daily rations, and the other half of his crew was left unchanged. The half given limes had shown a considerable decrease in the disease. The fact that he was willing to risk half of his crew shows just how important controlled experiments can be, especially when that experiment is looking at challenging the status quo. If he did not conduct this experiment, he could have very well lost his entire crew to scurvy.

The same mindset can be applied to digital marketing in today’s world. Say, for example a company is doing just well, but they are wondering if changing the look or layout of their website would result in more sales. The HiPPO in most cases might not want to conduct any type of experiment, because they are worried that anything other than the way they have been conducting business would drive away customers. The beauty of today’s modern world is that the company would not have to sacrifice those potential customers because they would be able to retain their current website as a control variable, and then introduce the new and improved website, perhaps to a new market. This type of testing would give the HiPPO definitive evidence on whether the new look helps or hurts business.

This type of hypothesis testing, often referred to as A/B testing, is a small but very important slice of the website optimization pie. With the countless sources of input on the Internet, battling for our attention, clicks and money, an aesthetically pleasing website can make all the difference in the world. The right layout, font choice and even color palette can be the deciding factor in grasping a customer’s attention, as internet users tend to make snap judgments of websites they visit in a fraction of a second. Even the color of the checkout button on a shopping website can make a difference in sales as certain colors will trigger responses in the mind of the consumer. For example, a red button might drive away sales due to the color’s association with stopping and danger. A green button could provide the exact opposite response. The only way to know which website design works the best, is through A/B testing, which would give empirical evidence to the HiPPO that says “hey, maybe change isn’t so bad after all.” The key to a successful website is through evolution of it’s design, as trends change, so should your website.

Tuesday, 1/13

Due to a family emergency I am not able to do a proper blog post, but I would still like to post about an emerging analytics technology from IBM, called Bluemix.

http://www-01.ibm.com/software/bluemix/

http://www-01.ibm.com/software/ebusiness/jstart/bluemix/

Bluemix is an implementation of IBM’s Open Cloud Architecture, leveraging Cloud Foundry to enable developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage their cloud applications, while tapping a growing ecosystem of available services and runtime frameworks. IBM will provide services and runtimes into the ecosystem based on our extensive software portfolio.

In practical terms, this means that cloud applications built on Bluemix will:

  1. Reduce time for application/infrastructure provisioning
  2. Allow for flexible capacity
  3. Help to address any lack of internal tech resources
  4. Reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  5. Accelerate exploration of new workloads – social, mobile, big data

Thursday 1/8

Web analytics is one of, if not the most important emerging Marketing technologies in the modern marketing environment, but because it is still a relatively new focus, the web analytic tools offered by companies are still being refined. Forrester’s analysis of the top 6 companies in the digital intelligence industry show that at the moment there are some clear leaders in the field, and some innovators who are quickly gaining ground.

Forrester identified Adobe, AT Internet, IBM and Webtrends as the current leaders of the industry, but each company handles their web analytics a little differently, with each giving the service a unique positioning within their product lineup. Adobe and IBM both group web analytics with their broad suite of marketing software, and are renown for their enterprise capabilities.

As the industry expands, not every firm will offer the same exact analysis package. I predict that through 2015, firms will begin to target specific areas of the business world and tweak their analysis to be the most beneficial to a specific customer base. Whether it is a more simple, straightforward analytics package for a recently-founded small business website, or an all-encompassing package for a fortune 500 company. Web analytics companies will be able to cater to the specific needs of their customers.

One of the biggest areas of potential use of web analytics is predicting the effect of marketing. As more data is gathered, stored and interpreted, the easier it will be for analytic programs to predict the outcome of a proposed form of marketing based on past events and conditions. For example, a company wants to know which type of advertisement would attract the most attention to their website, so they run each potential ad through the program, which then predicts which will have greatest effect on customers based on past promotions. This type of program could greatly improve the marketing process but it must also account for the ever changing needs and wants of consumers.

In my opinion, the current leaders in this market have the most to lose. Although they won’t necessarily lose the business they already have, I believe they will lose potential customers as more and more companies offer web analytics packages. Customers who choose to go with the current leaders of the industry might receive their suite of marketing tools and software, and become overwhelmed by it all. These programs might make sense to people in the industry who received the proper training on how to interpret the data presented by web analytics, but to someone who is just starting a business it can seem like another language.

Tuesday 1/6

OK, here we go, first ever blog post…


Hello! My name is Jeff Thompson, I am a student at Western Washington University pursuing a degree in marketing, this is my third year (and third major) at Western and if everything goes as planned, I will be graduating this spring. I was born and raised here in Washington and spent the entirety of my pre-college life living on Camano Island, a small community about an hour south of Bellingham.

Some of my hobbies include playing video games, working on my car and spending time with my English Springer Spaniel, Aero. I would love a career in the marketing field after college but at the same time would not mind dipping my toes into another area of the business world.

I enrolled in digital marketing because I believe the content offered by this course to be one the biggest and most important factors of the modern marketing environment. The push towards an all-digital world is unavoidable and I believe you either have to get with it, or get left behind. Ideally for this course I would like to learn how to optimize the online presence of a business/product and how to properly market that business/product. I feel that a company’s  online presence is one of the key determinants of it’s success.


    Knowledge and Skill Requirements for Marketing Jobs in the 21st Century

This report was a good read and shed a little light onto something i’ve suspected since the beginning of my college career; that schools should spend a little less time on the framework of the marketing process and more time developing skills that will actually be used in the field. Software advancements happen so quickly these days that it can be difficult to become proficient in the emerging programs while at the same time gaining experience with older, more widely used software.

At most colleges, there aren’t many management information system courses included with the marketing curriculum. Take WWU for example, the marketing concentration includes two MIS classes, but if you are like me and gave accounting a shot before marketing, then you may substitute an accounting class for the higher level MIS class. In all honesty, I didn’t really like this approach from a learning standpoint as the accounting class you can substitute (acct321) involved virtually no MIS content. In fact the biggest project in the class, that makes up most of your grade, is doing the jobs of three different accountants BY HAND, ON PAPER! Show me a company that still does that. Overall what I take from this article, is that companies today require experience and knowledge of marketing software and processes that universities are not providing in their curriculum.


    Forrester Interactive Marketing Forecast 2011 to 2016

One thing that is unavoidable, is the transition of making nearly everything in our daily lives interactive, digital or laden with technology. While some people (including myself) might see this as the beginning of the end of social interaction altogether, perhaps those who stand to benefit the most from this all-digital world are marketers. As more everyday devices become internet connected, and the adoption of these smart devices becomes more widespread, marketers will be able to reach a greater number of potential customers. As these new customers get exposed to ads, marketers will also be able to more easily measure the effect that their advertisements had on the customer, as STIHL marketing manager David Schwartz said “you can measure anything through digital.”

Older marketing techniques can be difficult to measure how effective they were, but in the digital world, nearly everything is logged, from what you click on to other sites you have been to. Someday we could even see eye movement tracked by the camera in your smart device, being logged and tracked for marketing purposes. It’s kind of scary but it is the way things are headed.


    State of Digital Marketing Talent

This report is closely related to Knowledge and Skill Requirements for Marketing Jobs in the 21st Century in that it addresses the fact that employers have a gap between what they are looking for in terms of skills, and the skills of applicants or members of their marketing team. While some companies will prefer to hire marketers with a more generalized set of marketing skills as they have done so in the past, there is a greater push emerging for specialists trained in specific areas of the marketing world such as analytics. This just makes sense to me, you can’t train everybody to be an all-encompassing marketer that can do everything perfectly. Different type of people take to different type of things, someone could show a strong knack for marketing software without ever really understanding the core framework. It’s just the way we are, everyone is wired differently.

This report also relates to the issue of a lack of software courses in the marketing curriculum, as I believe what most schools attempt to do is to make each student as applicable to the major as possible. Which is great in theory but tends not to work as well as hoped, students get lost in all the information. I would suggest that schools start creating more specific marketing degrees, ones that churn out specialists who excel at that discipline, or perhaps bundle marketing with a minor such as marketing analytics or quantitative analysis.