3/12 What I can do for you as your digital marketer

Well, here we are, the last blog of digimark 3.1. This quarter went by so freaking fast, I can’t believe it’s almost spring break already. Graduation is right around the corner as well, and as I look back at my time spent at WWU I can’t help but think of all the classes I’ve taken here, and after switching majors (3 times) that’s a lot of classes. I can easily say that out of all those classes, Digital marketing provided me with the most applicable skills, ones that I will carry with me and use continuously throughout my career.

It seems to me that, up until digimark, most marketing classes didn’t actually prepare me for an actual job. They just taught me the framework that made marketing what it is, and while there was some valuable information provided by those classes, digimark was the only class that forced me to do the work of a modern marketer. I think my favorite part of this course was the certifications that took the place of tests, they provided me with easily applicable skills and knowledge of the major tools that marketers use today.

Here’s a quick rundown of just some of the things I can do for you as your digital marketer.

  • Manage multiple social media accounts and campaigns, and provide analytic insight about them via hootsuite
  • Provide valuable analytical insight via Google Analytics
  • Run A/B testing on marketing efforts such as ad campaigns, landing pages and website design.
  • Leverage content marketing to bring additional leads and customers.
  • Help you reach and connect to a wider audience through proper social media techniques.
  • Utilize email marketing to expand your reach and acquire leads
  • Help your marketing and sales teams to work better together.
  • Optimize your website to get better organic search results
  • Utilize sponsored ads to reach customers who are looking for what you offer.

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2/26 Programmatic Ad Buying

Even after reading various articles concerning the nature of Programmatic Ad Buying, it can be somewhat difficult to pin down exactly what it is. Perhaps that is due to marketers using it as sort of an umbrella term for targeted ad buying. While the definition of Programmatic Ad buying is kind of hazy, the direction it’s headed is very clear.

The most agreed upon definition of Programmatic Ad buying pegs it as a way of using automation to bring your ad to the right audience at the right time, using behavioral and intent-based targeting, while also incorporating a real time bidding system much like Google’s Adwords.

Perhaps the biggest push towards this new system of Ad buying is due to the efficiency it would provide marketers. All Programmatic Ad Buying would be carried out by software that ensures your ad is getting to the right person, at the right time, in the right place. This new system would increase marketing productivity far past what a human marketer could achieve, while freeing up that marketer’s time for more traditional marketing efforts, more suited for a human being. In the future we could potentially see this system used to handle nearly all digital marketing efforts.

So where is Programmatic Ad buying headed? In the future, this system might track your digital activity using an automated profile creation system. Instead of cookies on each browser you use, this would essentially follow you to each device you use, meaning no matter what form of digital advertisements you are subjected to, they are relevant to your interests based on your online activity and behavior. So instead of seeing an ad during a YouTube video for some medicine you won’t need for another 40 years, you might see an ad for that car you recently showed interest in.

Programmatic Ad buying has the most potential for media rich advertisements, such as video ads during streaming media. Currently these types of ads are not tailored to the audience whatsoever, they are presented from a preset bank of ads based on whoever is paying that media source at the moment.

While it is not exactly Programmatic Ad Buying, I would like to use this blog to address an advertising patent owned by Sony.

sonyadverpatentjtjtedut-1345811442

The patent is for a new method of skipping through streaming media advertisements, such as those found on YouTube. Say you are watching a video on whatever device, and an ad for McDonald’s starts playing. Instead of the usual click here in 5 seconds to skip the ad, this patent wants you to stand up and literally shout “McDonalds!” at your screen to skip the ad. Sure you get to skip the ad fairly quickly this way, but the marketers win in the end, by getting you to verbally acknowledge the ad.

2/24 Coding

Pretty much anything in our day-to-day lives that displays information to us, is built upon countless lines of code. Whether we are shooting off an email to the boss, or checking the latest celebrity tweets when we should have been working, code is the backbone of our modern, technological world. It is this prevalence that leads me to believe that maybe this is something we should start teaching our children in school. Coding can be a valuable asset to anyone, as it provides a core understanding of just how all this information is displayed to us,

Digital marketers of any experience level would benefit greatly from even a basic understanding of common Internet coding formats. Even just basic HTML and CSS knowledge will help the marketer to see how webpages and advertisements are presented to their audience. That same knowledge can help the marketer to make their page or ad more visually appealing, increasing their effectiveness. Marketers who are code-savvy could also more easily integrate analytic tools into their websites or ads. Perhaps even A/B testing could be incorporated into a webpage using some code that delivers different versions of your page, based on developer determined factors such as geographic location or the page the visitor came from.

Codeacademy

Prior to being prompted to use Codeacademy.com for this class, I had a little bit of coding experience thanks to the days of myspace and more recently via online forums. However the code I used on forums was aided greatly by the forum software, so for the most part I am still a coding beginner. I had always been interested in learning how to code, and I have known about Codeacademy for a while, but I never took the plunge and actually started to learn. I’m glad this class forced me to actually take that first step.

I spent a couple hours on Codeacademy, dipping my toes into the world of HTML and CSS, and in that time I was able complete HTML Basics I & II, Build Your Own Webpage and Social Networking Profile. The time flew by because CA makes the courses very easy to follow and learn from, with plenty of reinforcement of what you are learning through repetition, but not so much that it became tedious. The topics, pictures and examples they use in the tutorial are also pretty entertaining which helps to keep your interest. They also allow you to write whatever you want for your code, which also helps to keep you interested because you are coding about something you care about.

Overall I greatly enjoyed the time I spent on Codeacademy, and I plan on continuing through the lessons as I was left with a longing to keep going. I’m sure coding gets much more intense the further you get into it but I’m not really worried because Codeacademy makes it so easy to learn code.

Chemical and Wetware computing

With Moore’s law still holding strong after over 30 years, computer engineers are looking for a viable alternative to traditional silicone chips. The Nautilus article listed some possible alternatives derived from nature such as chemical and wetware computing.

To me, neither seems like they are quick or efficient enough to outright replace our current computer chips, but I can see some potential uses for both in conjunction with our current chips. Chemical computing could be useful in the field of chemistry as it uses chemical reactions to carry out its processes. I could see this being used in a machine that takes in chemical samples, processes them based on several factors, and outputs several situations based on the reactions that took place.

Wetware computing could be useful in the medical field, perhaps in a machine that takes in a single blood sample and checks it for various different attributes. Allowing patients to have less blood drawn at a time, and give doctors a faster way to diagnose blood borne illnesses.

Tuesday 2/17 Search Engine Optimization

Now at this point in the digital marketing journey, your website should be performing quite nicely. Your social media efforts are attracting new customers and your landing pages are converting them into leads, while your ongoing email marketing allows you to foster long lasting relationships, and convert those customers into repeat customers. But this is not enough for your now-expanding business; there are always opportunities you might not be realizing.

One area where you should be focusing a great amount of attention towards is Search Engine Optimization. Sure you may already be optimized for people who know they are looking for your business, but there is always the opportunity to inform a new audience to your product or service, especially to someone who doesn’t know they need it. SEO allows you to inform the internet audience that you provide a solution to their problem, that they might not have considered until it showed up in their search results.

One way this can be accomplished is by incorporating a few of these SEO tips:

Google:

  • Don’t create your webpages with the search engine in mind, create it for your customers so that what is presented by your webpage, is the same as what the search engine sees.
  • Make every page on your site reachable by at least one static link
  • Make sure that pages are written in a way that clearly and accurately describes your content. Ensure your title and ALT elements are descriptive and accurate in order to create an information-rich site.
  • Use keywords to make your URL’s more descriptive and human-friendly.

Bing:

  • Use a URL structure that is clean yet keyword-rich.
  • Don’t bury content within rich media such as Flash or Java
  • Produce fresh content regularly and match keywords to what people search for.
  • Don’t hide indexable text within images, such as text for an address instead of a logo.

Tuesday 2/10 Inbound Sales & Smarketing

In the past, salesmen and marketers have been separate entities. With each one standing on their own island, looking out across the water at the other one and wondering just exactly what their purpose is, what are they scheming? Sales people and marketers often use mostly negative words when describing the job of one another. Where a marketer would describe a sales person as lazy or incompetent, the salesman would describe the marketer as overly academic and even irrelevant. This type of mindset can be toxic to business in today’s highly cooperative workplace.

While marketing and sales are completely different continents in the world of business, it is important that both realize they are equally responsible for the performance of their company. This could be achieved by aligning sales and marketing so that they become the highly cooperative Pangea of “Smarketing.”

Sales and marketing should realize that ultimately they are on the same team, and in the end they are working towards the same goal of generating business for their company. Both departments should be aligned around the same or related goals, and should have transparency into each other’s goals and progress towards them. They should also allow each other access to the various buyer personas that each has developed, while at the same time providing each other with insight on them. Alignment around specific personas helps the company to solve the specific problem of that persona.

Hubspot has identified five steps for integrating Smarketing:

  1.  Speak the Same Language: In order for sales and marketing to align around the same goal, they must use a similar metric. Sales is a good metric for both departments because it can be boiled down to leads needed for marketing and sales needed for the sales department. Equally important is the alignment of the definition of a sales-ready lead; a potential customer that shows a high level of fit and interest.
  2. Set Up Closed-Loop Reporting: Proper reporting between departments can help marketers determine if the leads they gather are any good, and can also provide insight into the effect of your marketing efforts. Sales can see which leads are worth pursuing, which aren’t worth pursuing, and helps to eliminate duplicate leads.
  3. Implement a Service Level Agreement: An SLA defines what sales and marketing commits to accomplishing a common goal, in order to support each other. Agreements such as marketing delivering a minimum number of leads to sales per month, or Sales making a certain number of attempts to engage a potential customer in a set period of time.
  4. Maintain Open Communication: Holding a smarketing meeting in which both sales and marketing attend to discuss team successes, educate each other about personas and to address potential issues regarding service level agreements. Management meetings should also be held so that key managers can discuss these topics in depth and to resolve any potential issues.
  5. Rely on Data: You can create a common dashboard for both sales and marketing to use, through which they can share reports aligned with their common goal, and measure progress towards service level agreements. A common dashboard can also help to measure the volume of quality leads against the monthly goal, and to adjust accordingly. This dashboard would also help to track your various efforts and determine which are the most successful.

Thursday 2/5 Email Marketing

So at this point in the digital marketing evolution, your website should be pretty solid. It is optimized for search engines, has attention-grabbing landing pages that beg the customer for their next click, and you bring in a constant flow of customers through your expansive social media strategy. But there is always room for improvement, there are always more potential customers out there that you might not be engaging.

One way to expand your reach is to utilize proper email marketing, and that doesn’t mean simply bombarding every one of your email leads with promotions and coupons. That’s a good way to get lost in the clutter that is your client’s inbox, but you can avoid this dilemma by incorporating a few of these email marketing tips:

  • Prove your Value to the Customer: Don’t keep sending them coupons they probably won’t use. Instead send content they will want to read and share among their friends, content such as industry insight through an article or even just sending them a free e-book will show them you are thinking about more than just sales.
  • Give your Customers Options: Don’t just blanket your customers with emails about anything and everything, let them choose the topics they are interested in, and the frequency at which they receive those emails. This makes your emails seem less harassing, and lets your customers hear from you on a schedule that works for them.
  • Treat your Email Contacts as People: When people sign up for your email list, it shows that they want to hear more from you, and what you have to offer. Instead of treating them as simply a name on a list, use this opportunity to nurture a relationship with that customer. Prove to them that they matter to your business. This can be done by educating new customers about your business and focusing on repeat sales and rewards for long-time customers.

Tuesday 2/3 — Landing Pages

OK, so we’ve covered some pretty good ways to attract customers to your website through various means of inbound marketing, search engine optimization and building a strong presence on social media. Let’s say all of your time and hard work has paid off and you are now getting a considerable amount of traffic to your website, but how do you turn that traffic into revenue?

The first step in converting your website patrons from viewers to purchasers is to have an attractive landing page, one that will grab their attention and garner more interest in your business, product or cause. Your landing page is the first thing that customers will see, so you want it to make a good impression.

Here are some tips and practices that any good business should incorporate into their landing page:

  • Keep it Simple: Your landing page should be very straight forward, and reflect the overall theme or image that your brand is trying to accomplish. Too much clutter can distract customers and drive away potential sales.
  • Catch their eye: The design of your landing page should be attractive and garner interest from the customer wherever they look. Using animations to demonstrate your product or open up to more information can help the customer learn more about you or your product without leaving the page.
  • Call to Action: Have an obvious next step on your landing page, whether it be purchasing or learning more about your brand. There should be a clearly defined option, begging for that next click.
  • Product Demo: Having a video on your landing page to demonstrate your product or inform about your company is a surefire way to increase conversions. It offers the page viewer a chance to learn more about your product without any additional clicks.
  • Targeted Ads: In order to get past the usual “banner blindness” of the everyday online consumer, use targeted advertisements that will make the customer feel like they were designed specifically for them. Using geo-specific ads to present promotions to the customer can help drive sales.

These are just a few of the various tactics to employ on your landing page to help drive sales. A properly optimized landing page will do most of the sales work for you, allowing customers to develop interest in the product at their own pace

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.

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.