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5 Tips for Developing a Promotional Strategy That Drives Webinar Registrations And Attendance

You have a great niche topic, compelling content, and a personality to keep people hooked while you drive your message home. The only thing you don’t have yet is an audience. That’s okay, though, because we’re about to give you five top tips for developing a promotional strategy that’s sure to boost your webinar registrations and increase your attendance rates.

Tip #1: Establish Your Positioning Strategy

webinar - promotional positioningWhen potential audience members view your webinar registration page, read your copy, and then leave without registering, there’s a reason for it. Unfortunately, it all boils down to an ineffective message and the wrong perception. If your page leaves people with the impression that your webinar is not on their level of understanding, that you’re unlikely to offer any new information, and that there’s no value to be gained, you’ll inevitably end up on the losing side.

How do you want your webinar positioned in the minds of your target group? How does it fit in with your content marketing and branding objectives? How do you want people to perceive your content? These are just a few of the positioning questions you should ask before you start promoting your webinar to all and sundry.

Determine how your target market decides which webinars they watch, understand how your competition positions their webinars, and figure out what unique value your content offers attendees. When you can answer these questions and cut right to the heart of what your brand does differently, you can start to shape your promotional messages accordingly and influence the right action.

Tip #2: Reach the Right People on the Right Platforms Multiple Times

If you want to generate high-quality signups, you need to be talking to the right people in the right place—not once, not twice, but multiple times. Hopefully you understand your target audience enough to know the type of people they are, what motivates them, and where the majority of them hang out online and in the real world.

Although you want to cast your net wide enough to reach and attract a large audience, you also want to ensure you’re not wasting your time in places that aren’t relevant. Placing your messages and links in high visibility areas that make sense for your strategy is key to gaining an audience that will eventually help you fulfill your webinar’s goal.

Tip #3: Create a Simple Registration Page with Compelling Copy and a Killer CTA

We’ve discussed how to develop a great webinar registration page before, but many people still don’t realize how detrimental this is to their registration and attendance success. A lousy page only serves to increase abandonment rates and totally kills your positioning efforts. Spend plenty of time developing the promotional message for this page, as well as a simple signup form and irresistible call-to-action. Make your promise clear, give people a preview of what’s to come, and then drive them to complete the registration form with your passion for the topic you’ll be covering.

Tip #4: Get the Hows and Whens Right

Webinar advertisingThere are hundreds of ways to promote your webinar. The question is: Which methods will you choose? Much of the answer depends on your promotional budget, as well as which advertising methods are likely to generate good response rates.

In terms of the whens of your promotional strategy, you need to ensure you start promoting well in advance and that you have plenty of communications lined up to keep people interested. If you publicize your webinar too early, people in desperate need of information may look elsewhere for resources. If you promote your webinar too late, you risk creating scheduling conflicts that will result in poor attendance.

Tip #5: Use the Power of Reminder Emails and Text Messages to Keep People Interested

We’re not talking about a one-liner email or text message that says, “Hey, don’t forget about our awesome webinar on Wednesday at 2PM.” We’re talking about messages that add value to what you’ve already told people, as well as build anticipation for the event. Tell registrants why they don’t want to miss the presentation, why your webinar is worth their time, and the additional benefits they can expect if they join. It’s crucial to keep in mind that your promotion of the event doesn’t stop after an individual fills in and submits the registration form. You have to keep a level of excitement going to ensure the person actually shows up on the day.

Ultimately, the success of your promotional strategy to drive registration and attendance rates relies heavily on audience focus. If you know whom you’re talking to, where to find your ideal viewer, and which methods are best for advertising or announcing your event, you’ll find that drawing in an excited crowd isn’t too much of a burden.

Are there any tips you’d add for generating webinar registrations and increasing attendance rates? Join the conversation in the comment box! 

25 of The Most Viral Videos of 2013

Video is some of the most influential content on the web. It is the number-one activity we participate in online. We thought it would be fun to showcase some of the most viral videos of 2013. The order they are in isn’t necessarily because of how many views they got, and this list is by no means the authority on the topic. Instead, we have an eclectic and fun mix of videos that made us laugh, that were clever marketing pieces, that were inspirational and that reflect our culture and the time in which we live.

“What Does the Fox Say?”

Remember when you had to watch MTV or VH1 for your music videos? Today, you can play them over and over and over again on YouTube, and that is exactly what everyone does. They did it in 2012 with Psy’s Gangnam Style and this time it’s What Does the Fox Say by Ylvis.

I’ll admit I contributed one of those over three-hundred-million views. Despite the ridiculous topic of the song, the clever nature by which the artist is able to craft an entire tune out of a simple question that a child might ask (and make it catchy, as well) is pure genius. The video takes the cake as one of the most watched videos of 2013.

Twerking

In the 1970s, it was the funky chicken. In the 80s, Michael Jackson made the Moonwalk a fad. Today, it’s “twerking,” and the viral video below adds some extra humor to the popular dance move. The star’s unexpected guest probably feels bad enough that she knocks over her friend, but what happens next makes everything worse.

This is one of those videos that proves high-end productions and clever scenarios are sometimes no match for classic slapstick humor caught on tape by accident.

Miley Cyrus — “Wrecking Ball”

One of the most successful artists of 2013 is arguably Miley Cyrus. The former child star came out of nowhere with her risqué music videos and live performances. While many questioned her tactics, some called her a marketing genius as she held huge media outlets captive with her behavior and sold out shows from coast to coast. Her video on YouTube was another one of the most viewed for 2013.

“Harlem Shake”

You know a video is viral when it gets viewed and shared a ton of times, but what about when people copy it over and over again. That’s what happened with the Harlem Shake.  The original below was one of the most copied videos of 2013. Everyone from members of the military to professional sports teams parodied the video.

“I Quit” Video

Resigning from a job isn’t an uncommon thing, but when you do it on YouTube with a creative and well-made music video, it tends to draw some attention. That’s what Marina Shifrin did when she wanted to leave the news organization she worked for over “creative differences.”

Part of the reason this video became so popular (other than the fact that it was entertaining) was that it made a bold statement. Here is someone who isn’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means losing their income.

Chuck Norris Van Damme Video

In this video, martial arts professional and actor Chuck Norris stars in a parody of Jean Claude Van Damme’s impressive stunt between two Volvo semi trucks. The video was a Christmas message put out by Delov Digital, and features Norris doing the splits between two cargo planes with a half dozen pilots doing a pyramid while balancing on his head.

How Houdini Died

Educational videos (if done well) often get shared a lot. Destin from Smarter Every Day has a lot of educational videos that get a ton of views. His video on how Houdini died is especially interesting. Harry Houdini was one of the most celebrated and interesting escape artists of his time. Crowds marveled at his ability to get out of seemingly impossible situations. He was also famous for being able to take severe trauma to the stomach and still stand on two feet. Ironically (and according to the video), it was a punch to the stomach that killed him.

Fox 5 News Jet Pack Fail

For some reason, we all like to see people make mistakes. Videos of people screwing up (especially in “epic” ways) go viral pretty quickly. That special viral sauce was created when Fox 5 news San Diego was shooting on location at the San Diego Yacht and Boat Show.

They thought it would be so cool to have a guy wearing a water-powered jet pack launch off the doc after saying the station’s slogan, but instead some kind of misfire happened, and he plunged into the bay.

“People of Walmart” Version 3

You can tell the diehard YouTube creationists when you see them. They often have tons of videos and make it their full-time job to entertain their subscribers. Jessica French does this by making light of the questionable characters that frequent Walmart stores.

She actually has two other videos that have garnered millions of views, but they weren’t uploaded in 2013.

Carrie Coffee Shop

YouTube started as a place for regular users to share videos they had made themselves. Now that it has exploded in popularity to become the most recognized video sharing platform on the planet, organizations are having professional videos produced to promote products and services.

Promotional events meant to promote movies have great potential to go viral when they use the hidden camera approach and fool regular people. That’s what happened in a promotional video for Carrie, the Stephen King classic brought to film. Actors, stuntmen, and a behind-the-scenes crew helped rig up a coffee shop in Manhatten to make it look like a woman had telekinetic powers.

Needless to say, patrons who weren’t in on the prank were shocked, flabbergasted and downright scared.

I Forgot My Phone

I like this video because it acknowledges an elephant in the room. More and more people are spending more and more time on their smart phones. The presence of smart phones is pervasive and invading our everyday lives.

The video highlights the experience of someone preoccupied with what they are doing on their phone instead of what’s happening right in front of them. I know I’ve been guilty of that, and I’ve seen others do it, as well. For example, we often see people on their phones while ordering food at a restaurant or answering a text while in the middle of a conversation.

Jeff Gordon Test Drive

Here is another hidden-camera promotional video, this time made by the folks at Pepsi Co. Professional race car driver Jeff Gordon goes undercover to fool an unsuspecting car salesman and takes him on the test drive of his life.

This is an example of a really well-made video that doesn’t talk about the company’s product or service, gets tons of shares and views because it’s hilarious, and does a great job of getting some notoriety for the brand. If you are looking for a recipe on how to make a viral video for your brand, this is the model to follow.

“Space Oddity” by Astronaut

Astronaut Chris Hadfield records his version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity high up in the International Space Station. He has made subsequent videos explaining the process, but his original musical version is actually pretty good for someone who has spent their life devoted to science and not music.

“Joking Bad”

If you are a fan of Breaking Bad and haven’t seen this viral video yet, you have to catch it. Jimmy Fallon does a parody of the popular cable TV show on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. You’ll have had to watch almost all of the Breaking Bad series in order to understand the jokes.

The video even features appearances from actors Brian Cranston and Aaron Paul, who portray Breaking Bad’s two main characters. Jay Leno even plays a small part in the 12-minute piece.

Psy “Gentleman”

As mentioned earlier, one of the top music videos for 2012 was Psy’s Gangnam Style.  Since it was uploaded in July of 2012, it has accumulated almost two billion views. The artist’s next song Gentleman hasn’t done nearly as well but it’s still pretty popular. Psy’s videos have a quirky and refreshing style that makes them fun to watch.

Ghost Elevator Prank

Technically, this one was uploaded at the end of 2012, but it still got a ton of attention on news media in 2013. It’s another hidden-camera bit where unsuspecting elevator users experience a brief power outage only to come face to face with the dreaded “little girl ghost.” It’s funny that a little girl placed in the right context could be so darn scary.

YouTube Shutting Down Video

This video didn’t get a lot of views in 2013. In fact, it was less than all other videos in this list; however, it did work to fool people into thinking YouTube was shutting down (at least for a couple minutes). Videos like this showcase the power that social media and the web have over us in terms of the information we consume.

Unlike network television or radio, virtually anyone can publish information to the Internet, and if done right, even incorrect information can look pretty convincing.

Honest Cable Company

This video is absolutely hilarious, and if you have ever purchased high-speed Internet and/or cable services from a local provider, it will resonate well with you. Extremely Decent does a great job of explaining the nature of the highly competitive and revenue-driven focus of large media companies.

Dog Found in Oklahoma Tornado Debris

Heartwarming videos contain another kind of secret sauce for going viral. As humans, we either gravitate toward pain and suffering or triumph and perseverance. The formula works even better when it is unexpected.

When an Oklahoma woman is being interviewed in the aftermath of a tornado, she talks about her dog being lost. Just as she does, she hears a noise and discovers her dog crawling out of the wreckage of her home.

Preparing For Social Media Marketing In 2014

social media marketing tips for 2014December tends to reign in a flurry of activity as marketers and their teams scramble to assemble some sort of plan for the coming year. While some will succeed, others will fail miserably. Although we’d love to ensure you fall into the former category by focusing on every area of marketing, there’s one area that appears to need some work: social media marketing.

It’s time not only to do social media marketing right, but it’s also time to do it better. With that said, here are five ways to prepare for the year ahead.

Writing a Social Media Plan That Makes Sense for Your Business

Writing a social media plan is only something big businesses do, right? After all, they’re the ones with the time and resources to create these “useless” documents few people ever really follow. You’re the one who barely has the ability to produce enough social media content, let alone focus on unnecessary paperwork.

Besides, your “let’s play it by ear” strategy seems to be working. You can’t really tell what impact you’re having because you’re not measuring anything, but your follower and fan numbers are on the rise so that must be a good thing.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Although your reasons for not writing a social media plan may seem valid, adopting a forward-thinking strategy and content plan can help you solve many of the issues you’re using as excuses. Whether you’re a one-man band or part of a large team, make certain you have a written plan to help you remain focused and accountable. It doesn’t have to be long or complex, but it must make sense for your business.

Being Effective In the Implementation of Your Plan

What good is your plan if you let it gather dust in the attention-deficient recesses of some marketing file you only glance at once a year?

The hard truth is this: we’re entering 2014. It’s time to be effective or be left behind. Pull out your plan if you have one, blow off the cobwebs so it looks as grand as when you first typed it up, and then get excited about implementing it the right way. Your social media marketing strategy is designed to guide you, so let it. If you don’t, you really have wasted time and resources your business can ill afford to lose.

Unleashing Creativity

social media creativityIf you look at most viral social media posts, there’s one thing they have in common: creativity. They’re created by people who think outside of the box and take risks in their content development strategies.

In an environment where every brand is vying for the attention of the masses, the successful ones are those who show character, embrace unusual thinking, and break with convention. The only rules you need to follow are those of being a responsible social media citizen. Outside of that, there’s no law that states your content has to conform to specific guidelines in terms of structure or appearance.

Going Big or Going Home

Keeping the buzz alive on social media platforms is a hard thing to do. People move from one trend to the next at what seems like lightning speed, so it has become increasingly important for brands to develop concepts that produce enough buzz and brand awareness for a campaign to be deemed successful. Although you’ll want to publish a consistent flow of content, you should also plan one or two big ideas that give your target audience something they desire—something that’ll keep them engaged, and something that’ll generate valuable leads for your business.

Opening the Door for Spontaneity

If you’ve wrapped so much red tape around your social media marketing strategy that all content has to make an extensive journey through the upper echelons of your organization for approval first, you’re missing some great opportunities to be innovative and timely. Some of the best and most viral posts this year came from brands who took advantage of topical events. Things happen too fast to dally about with ridiculous review processes, so let your team of social media content geniuses be spontaneous and jump on the latest happenings for the benefit of your brand. As long as you have a social media policy in place and trustworthy individuals at the helm who think before they post, your brand should be in good hands.

The bottom line: if you prepare properly, you have a good chance to make 2014 a year that surpasses all others in terms of your social media ROI. Most businesses can’t afford to play around anymore. Can yours?

How are you preparing your social media marketing in 2014? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

13 Stupid Mistakes to Avoid When Creating and Hosting a Webinar

common webinar marketing mistakesCreating and hosting a webinar isn’t easy. You’re not simply throwing together a last-minute YouTube video for your business and then posting it online. There are so many moving facets that go into the process, you need to prepare well in advance in order to create a great experience for attendees. After all, if your shoddily put together webinar scares away leads, you’re essentially wasting your time.

With that said, let’s look at 13 common—and completely avoidable—mistakes newbie webinar marketers make.

Mistake #1: Working outside the realm of a webinar marketing plan.

If you approach your webinars with a “let’s just wing it” attitude, you’re planning to fail. No marketing program in the world works that way, so you can’t expect a successful outcome for your webinar if you’re not applying the basics. Make sure you develop a project schedule that includes milestones, activities, and deliverables along with a webinar marketing plan that maximizes reach, influence, and ROI.

Mistake #2: Developing boring automated reminder emails.

There may be quite a bit of time between the moment someone signs up and the moment the webinar starts. Therefore, a series of automated reminder emails is crucial for maintaining interest and keeping your event in the minds of registrants. You don’t want to send out dull emails, though. They should be informative, they should be captivating, and they should leave people wanting more.

Mistake #3: Failing to practice.

Attendees will know right off the bat whether you know what you’re doing. Besides the flawless presentation of your materials, the transition between slides, speakers, and talking points must be smooth. That only comes with practice, so make certain you spend some time rehearsing with your team a few days beforehand.

Mistake #4: Using a webinar platform that consistently gives you problems.

If a particular webinar platform or service frequently causes technical issues, it’s time to change providers. We often hear the pros tout the benefits their favorite service, but the reality is you need to find a stable and reliable one that works for you. Test out a few webinar platforms before you make your final choice.

Mistake #5: Neglecting to consider all timing aspects of webinars.

When we talk about timing, we’re talking about everything from the date and time of the event to the length of the webinar and the time you actually begin your presentation. Besides setting a schedule that’s convenient for your core target audience, you need to ensure your webinar isn’t too long and that you begin on time. No one likes to wait around for things to start, so be professional and avoid agitating your attendees before the event even begins.

Mistake #6: Designing a complicated and lifeless registration page.

Conduct a quick search for webinar registration pages and you’ll quickly see which ones are likely to be effective and which are not. If you want people to sign up to your event, a concise, simple, and compelling landing page is definitely the way to go.

Mistake #7: Forgetting to create opportunities for interaction.

webinar interaction QAYour content alone won’t satisfy your viewing audience, especially if you’ve created it around a boring topic. Interaction is key to ensuring people remain engaged, so throw in a Q&A session, polls, or surveys when appropriate. You can even use the chat function of the webinar platform you’re using to keep the conversation going or create a dedicated hashtag for social media interactions.

Mistake #8: Failing to record the webinar.

Besides the fact that some registrants may not be able to attend your live event, there will also be those who want to listen to your presentation again. Recording your webinar and then offering it on demand will ensure you maximize your marketing mileage and boost conversions.

Mistake #9: Failing to follow-up with viewers.

Unfortunately, your job doesn’t end when you close the event. You need to establish and build relationships with attendees in order to reach your webinar and business goals. A follow-up email series is usually the best way to do that. Make certain you set up your emails to funnel people through a program that eventually gets them to take the action you want.

Mistake #10: Slacking on the promotion of your webinar.

If you think you can simply create a registration page and the Internet will take care of the rest, you’re sorely mistaken. While you don’t necessarily need to leverage every marketing channel, a comprehensive webinar marketing plan should include promotion through social media, email marketing, paid media, your website, and your blog.

Mistake #11: Creating a dull webinar slide deck.

If your slide deck looks like a novel, we’re sorry to tell you that you’re doing it wrong. A good PowerPoint presentation includes key talking points, relevant and engaging visuals, and a great design. It shouldn’t be crammed with information you simply read to your audience as you run through each slide.

Mistake #12: Failing to set up alternative options.

You can use the best equipment and software in the world, but it won’t eliminate the potential for things to go haywire. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have backups in case you run into technical challenges before or during the presentation.

Mistake #13: Recruiting an inexperienced host, moderator, speaker, or techie.

Team members who know what they’re doing within their given roles can keep your event from turning into a total disaster. Performing a dry run is a great way to figure out potential problems with certain team members so you can either fix those issues or replace the person with someone who has experience.

When all is said and done, creating and hosting a memorable webinar lies in the planning. Start by avoiding these 13 rookie mistakes and you’ll be well on your way to a successful webinar that generates results.

Are you making one or more of these webinar blunders? If you’re an experienced marketer, let us know some of the errors you made when you first started. We’d love to hear your stories, so drop us a line in the comment section below. 

Marketing Automation and Automated Email Marketing

@ Symbols on Flowers symbolizing the self-sustaining nature of automated email marketingAutomated email marketing is a natural outgrowth of marketing automation. Marketing automation refers to software platforms that automate repetitive or generic marketing tasks. Once you generate a large contact list, nurturing those leads until they finally convert involves several touches. Email is not used exclusively, but many marketers do use it as a lead-nurturing tool. When you can automate some of those messages based on certain predefined parameters, you can shed time off of your overall marketing efforts.

Managing email drip campaigns without software (unless you are doing it for a handful of prospects) is a complete nightmare. Not only do you miss out on a lot of tracking opportunities, there is also no automation. We’ve compiled some of the leading automation software on the market to show you what’s available and how it can help improve your efficiency with automated email marketing.

Silverpop LogoSilverpop Automated Email Marketing

Silverpop is a marketing automation software company with a web-based platform. It has a lot of different services that come with its plans, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on email marketing.

Silverpop’s email feature is called Engage Email, and it is basically a combination of email marketing software like Constant Contact or iContact and marketing automation software. Here are some of the highlights of its email marketing software (excluding automation features)

  • WYSIWYG editor that enables you to make pretty attractive emails
  • Templates
  • Dynamic content
  • Personalization features (like importing first name last name from an Excel document)

Silverpop's Home PageSo that stuff is pretty generic, and you can get it without paying through the nose from any email marketing provider. The powerful part of Silverpop’s service comes in with its automation software. You can define customer behaviors, for example, that trigger specific preloaded email messages (crafted by you, of course) to be sent to the prospect as soon as he or she completes a particular action on your website.

For example, if you have a site that sells auto parts, you can set up a form where visitors fill in their name, email, phone and some other basic information. Silverpop uses information from that email, including keywords, options selected and other data to send an automated, personalized email to the visitor.

Naturally, if you just have one or two people per week filling out the form, this functionality may not be very exciting (or valuable). If you are getting dozens or hundreds of inquiries from your website every week, though, this automation can save you a lot of person hours sifting through and responding to basic email inquiries.

Silverpop has two basic plans for pricing on its website. You can go with the basic one (called Automated Essentials) starting at $800 per month. The Enterprise plan is about double that amount. The company offers a ton more services than described above; however, this is a significant investment for a smaller business just starting out. If you are looking to make more of an impact in online and email marketing, and have the budget for it, Silverpop looks like a pretty good company to investigate.

Hubspot LogoHubSpot Automated Email Marketing

We may be a little biased about HubSpot as we use it on this website and often mention the company in examples on our blog. That being said, we aren’t offered any consideration for mentioning them and we feel that they have a very innovative and useful product.

Like Silverpop, HubSpot has an email nurturing feature. HubSpot has the Workflow tool that allows you to nurture and manage leads from when they come into the system until they become customers. Some of the tasks you can perform include:

  • Configure lead-nurturing campaigns to drive prospects further along in the buying cycle
  • Construct and schedule auto-response emails based on visitor behavior (i.e. enrollment time, calendar date, or specific behavior like demo view or contact form submission)
  • Re-segment lists based on where prospects are in the buying cycle

Hubspots interface to set up automated email marketing campaignsIf you are just starting to use automation programs and automated email marketing, HubSpot is slightly more affordable for the functionality you get with the platform. Like Silverpop (and many other automated marketing programs), price is based on database size.

Plans on HubSpot start at $200 per month, and go all the way up to $2,400 for enterprise plans. With the $200 per month plan, you can manage 100 contacts at any given time — not a bad deal if you are converting prospects within 30 days and each one is worth at least five bucks to you. On average, a company’s prospects are worth much more than that.

Marketo Automated Email Marketing

You’ve probably noticed a theme here. Most of the platforms mentioned here are moderately priced and have similar features. A lot of that has to do with who our readers are. Also, the majority of online marketers are either small outfits or solo marketers. If you are interested in corporate-level software programs, there is a great review post here.

Marketo has a lot of similar automated email marketing features as the other two companies mentioned here, but there was one thing I really liked about their platform. They have a built-in a/b/n testing feature for emails that automatically picks a winner for the campaign and sets it into action.

You can see pretty much everything the company’s automated email program offers in the video below.

Marketo is at the higher end of the pricing scale for the marketing automation software mentioned in this post. Their plans start at just under 2K per month, and you have to call for enterprise pricing. In other words, if you have to call, it probably costs a lot.

Marketing automation — and especially automated email marketing — can save a ton of time (and hence money) for your business. The key takeaway here is that you have to weigh the cost of not having the software against the price of whatever you choose to go with. Spending $2,000 a month on marketing automation may sound like a lot, but if it saves you $1,300 dollars per month in person hours and enables you to maximize those same person hours to make an additional $5,000 per month, then the investment is probably worth it.

 

What automated email marketing programs have you checked out? Do you use one platform that you really like right now? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Social Media Manager Tools For 2014

As social media experts gear up for the year ahead, it’s crucial to evaluate the old marketing toolbox and add plugins, applications, and services that can potentially bolster campaigns. With so many new options entering the market on a yearly basis, it’s almost impossible to choose the best tools for monitoring your brand, understanding your audience, and staying connected. Fortunately, our 2014 list can help you narrow down the choices.

In previous posts, we’ve covered some great social media manager tools that we’d still highly recommend today. These include:

Following are some of our 2014 recommendations for your growing arsenal of social media marketing tools.

Social Motus

Social media manager tool - Social Motus

Although Social Motus was only established in 2011, this social media data analysis tool has quickly become a popular option among the pros. Besides helping you manage Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, this all-in-one program offers everything from monitoring, publishing, engaging, and discovery to analytics, real-time feeds, and conversion tracking. Pricing starts at $15 per month per user, but you can test out the service with a free 30-day trial. If you’re an Internet marketing consultant or belong to an agency, you’ll be pleased to know Social Motus also offers a White Label option so you can rebrand the dashboard as your own when providing social media management services to clients.

Swayy

Social media manager tool - Swayy

Finding and publishing engaging content that speaks to the interests of your audience is crucial for social media success. Swayy helps you do just that by dropping relevant posts into your dashboard so you can read and choose what you want to share with your communities on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Besides the content discovery aspect of the tool, the software will even provide hashtag suggestions for your posts, as well as analytics that show you which pieces of content are the most effective in growing your community of followers. Swayy plans range from free to $49 per month depending on your needs.

SimplyMeasured

Social media manager tool - SimplyMeasured

When you need detailed data regarding your social media presence, few tools can compare to SimplyMeasured. This service not only allows you to manage, organize, and analyze your brand’s data on all major networks, but it also provides a complete snapshot of your social media performance, competitive analysis’ for Facebook and Twitter, Instragram and Youtube channel reporting, and data on social traffic. All accounts include Google Analytics integrations, Bitly and Klout tracking, influencer and trend analysis, and more. Although there are five different levels available with basic plans starting at $500 per month, there is a free 14-day trial period so you can test the tool first.

Crowdbooster

Social media manager tool - Crowdbooster

This popular platform is a firm favorite with experts as it offers social media managers listening, scheduling, monitoring, analytics, and exporting capabilities. It also highlights influential followers, lets you track audience growth, and offers intelligent suggestions for improving campaigns. Plans range from Bronze to Platinum with $9 per month being the starting point for basics.

Raven Tools

Social media manager tool - Raven Tools

A little different from other options, Raven Tools offers a complete Internet marketing toolset that’s perfect for social media managers wanting a comprehensive solution. In addition to monitoring and management software, users gain access to features that cover the areas of online advertising and SEO. Social media features include team management, automated sentiment analysis, keyword searches, analytics, and CRM integration. If you run large-scale digital campaigns and you prefer the convenience of managing everything on one dashboard, then give Raven Tools a go. Their Pro packages cost $99/month while their Agency packages start at $249. There is a free 30-day trial available if you want to test the service without any obligations.

 

Are there any social media manager tools you’d recommend for 2014? We’d love to hear about them so drop us a line in the comment box below.

5 Things You Need to Know about Developing a Webinar Registration Page

When it comes to webinar marketing, there’s little more soul crushing than setting up what you believe to be an elaborate presentation only to have your registration page turn into a complete flop. Why isn’t your beautiful landing page converting?

While we could try to answer that by pointing out common mistakes many webinar marketers make, we’re going to give you five tips for developing a killer webinar registration page instead. That way you can compare your current attempt and make necessary changes, or start from scratch the right way.

1. Customize It

Webinar Landing PageAlthough many hosting services provide built-in tools for the creation of signup pages, they usually aren’t as effective as a customized landing page and form. Yes, you’ll need to do a bit more work, but the number of registrations a user-friendly page with relevant fields and a powerful call to action can yield is often well worth the effort. You can also embed the registration form directly on your website and track the performance of your signup page.

2. Keep the Content Simple

By simple, we mean clear and concise. You want to answer the who, what, when where, and why questions, but you also want to ensure your language is devoid of jargon and that you set the right expectations for potential registrants. Whatever you do, don’t use this as an excuse to create a page that’s thin on information. Your webinar registration landing page is a great place to provide brief and compelling bios of your presenters, as well as other morsels of information that explain the value of the webinar’s content. Use this space to build anticipation and encourage people to reserve their spot. Also, don’t forget to include the price of your webinar if you’re charging for it.

3. Keep the Form Simple

Have you ever come across someone who enjoys filling out long forms that require copious amounts of information and a crowbar to jog his rusty memory? Neither have we, so please don’t force your attendee to provide unnecessary detail right off the bat. Unless, of course, it’s crucial to your presentation. People will bolt in the other direction if your complicated registration process takes more than a few clicks, so plan it out properly before you put your landing page and signup form together.

4. Don’t Forget Optimization Basics

You’ll never drive enough registrations if your page barely registers in SERPs. Therefore, you need to consider all SEO factors while ensuring the content is still fit for human consumption. That means eye-catching headlines that contain a keyword or two, compelling copy that delights both readers and search engines, and optimized code.

5. Become Design Savvy

Webinar Registration Page DesignIn order to maximize conversions, congruency and the placement of certain elements is essential. You’ll need to test your page once it’s live, but be sure to follow best practices for things like CTAs, directional cues, supporting video, messaging, social sharing buttons, navigation, etc. All elements should align with the topic of your landing page, as well as your goal to generate registrations. You’ll also want to pay attention to branding elements during the design phase so that your page looks like it belongs to your business.

Ultimately, a targeted webinar registration page can make or break your event. Have a look at examples on the web and then figure out how certain elements may work for your page. You may find you like the idea of soliciting questions for presenters with an extra field in your signup form or that you have social proof you can incorporate into your copy. Keep your post-registration follow-up and reminder emails in mind, too, as you can use these to build excitement and provide additional details to signups.

 

Are there any tips you’d add to our list? Do you use the built-in tools provided by a hosting service or do you develop your own customized pages from scratch? Drop us a line and let us know your thoughts on this topic.

Free, High-Quality Web Development Tools

Web design graphicWhen you are starting out as a novice web developer, or maybe even if you are pretty good at making websites, it can be difficult to afford some of the mainstream development tools out there. I was super surprised to find out there are a number of completely free (and high-quality) coding programs available.

Aptana Studio

This one is probably one of the richest free programs I’ve ever used. It supports a lot of different development environments, and there are many different customizable features. For instance, you can select from one of many different default profiles for text color in your documents, or you can customize the color of the code. If you are focusing on more than just HTML and CSS, this is a good one.

Netbeans

NetbeansAnother good program for those focusing on many different languages is Netbeans. Really, though, it is best for applications built using JavaScript. If you are brand new to development programs, this one is not for you unless you are a fast learner. It has a big learning curve. One of the best parts about this software (other than it being free) is that the creators have a ton of support documentation and tutorials on the website. It’s really great when you can find a free application and lots of documentation to go with it. It’s also a good program if you are into HTML5 and CSS3.

Notepad++

Notepad++Yes, I know, this is probably the most basic text editor out there, but I have to include it because sometimes less is a lot more. Notepad++ is a step up from the original notepad because you can actually get some development work done. It color-coordinates your code, lets you know when there are basic errors, and allows you to save in virtually any file format. If you are brand new to development, this one is great. It won’t tell you or suggest how to write anything, but there aren’t any confusing tools to learn or get in the way of basic programming. If you are learning the basics of any language, this is a good one to write it with.

HTML-kit

HTML-kitThis is another simple one. It’s like Notepad++, but a little more robust. The cool feature on this one is its search functionality. If you are at all familiar with web development, you know that scanning through lines of code is tedious as…well, it’s tedious. The search function in HTML-kit suggests lines of code in your document as you type. You can also use a drop down menu to select what kind of snippet you are looking for whether it be ids, classes, comments or whatever. The interface is also a bit more like a web development program instead of a text editor. Note that there is a free version and a more full paid version.

Alleycode

Alley-codeThis is a web editor with a twist. I like the features in this one, but there are some big drawbacks. The main thing that concerns me is that it hasn’t been updated in a while, so use it with caution. The reason I mention it here is that it has some cool and relevant features for web designers in today’s world. The most notable are the search engine optimization features. There are some built-in features that allow you to check architecture of your pages for SEO like meta descriptions and other meta tags, and also seeing your page rank on the Alleycode website. Another cool feature is that you can see your updates in real time on their website. I would investigate this one further before you go ahead and use it extensively, but it’s worth looking into.

Chrome Elements Panel

ChromeYes, I know this isn’t an editing program, but I wanted to mention it as a very handy web development tool. In case you are not familiar with it, the Chrome browser (from Google) has an excellent web development tool called the Chrome Elements Panel. You can activate it either by right-clicking while looking at a web page in the Chrome browser, or by pushing F12 (also while viewing in Chrome browser). A panel will appear at the bottom of your screen showing the HTML code on the left that makes up the page and the corresponding CSS to the right.

As you hover your mouse over the HTML tags, you will see the sections highlight on the page above. You can expand and contract the contents of elements on the page by clicking on little arrows in the code. One of the coolest and most useful features is that you can make edits to the code and see how the changes will affect design right on the page!  Note that this is not really editing your code, and only you at that exact moment with that machine and that browser can see the changes. It’s a fantastic tool to figure out why something isn’t behaving like you want it to or to see how a change will affect something before you do it.

You can learn more about the elements panel here: Chrome Elements Panel

 

What free programs or tools have you found useful for web development? Join the conversation by commenting below.

Striking a Perfect Balance between Social Media Promotion and Interaction

social media promotion versus interaction balanceLet’s be clear about the basics: businesses claim social media property and invest resources into strategies because they want to see some form of return. Whether that’s a monetary return, a boost in visibility and brand awareness, a strengthening of customer relations, or an increase in retention rates, depends on the company’s strategy.

Where many entrepreneurs fail is in the execution of social media marketing. They mistakenly translate “social media marketing” into “promote, promote, promote.” With so few companies succeeding at this approach, it’s a tactic that clearly doesn’t work.

The reality is that social media platforms aren’t advertising forums—they’re designed for the creation and exchange of ideas and information. If any business hopes to succeed in the online social sphere, it’s crucial to remove the focus from the promotion of a brand’s product and service offerings to the creation of meaningful conversation. Does that mean you shouldn’t promote your content at all? Absolutely not. What it means is you have to create an ideal balance between social media promotion and interaction.

The Problem with a Promotion-Focused Strategy

  • You risk alienating your target audience. People don’t join social media sites so that companies can shove branded content down their throats or sell their latest product and service offerings to them. They join to connect to the world outside of their local communities, to interact with people who share the same interests and values, and to have fun.
  • Your brand will fade into obscurity. Think about it: if you alienate the very people who are meant to spread your social media content and endorse your brand, how will you keep your name in front of the right eyes?
  • You miss opportunities to connect with clients, partners, influencers, and future employees. When you’re failing to participate in crucial conversations around your brand and key topics, you’re neglecting to fulfill a major part of any successful social media strategy. Why would any business want to miss the opportunity to build potentially fruitful relationships?
  • You may overlook critical insight. Interaction with like-minded individuals can help stimulate the big ideas that may just put your company on top. You never know when valuable links, stories, or industry data will make their way into your hands thanks to your participation in relevant groups.

So, what should you do to make sure you don’t implement a strategy that’s too focused on promotion?

The 80/20 Rule Can Help You Find the Right Balance

Social media balance

In a nutshell, the 80/20 rule, which is also known as the Pareto Principle, states that for many events, approximately 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

In other words, you should be using your social media assets for interaction 80% of the time and for self-promotion 20% of the time. With one out of every five posts being a promotional post, you shouldn’t have too much trouble following this rule of thumb, right?

Just in case, here are tips for the best 80/20 outcome:

  • When you’re promoting, provide value.

  • When you’re interacting, be engaging and helpful. Show that you’re genuinely interested in the topic of conversation.

  • Don’t make a promotional post a blatant sales pitch. Subtlety is the way to win over followers.

  • Keep it real when you’re posting a conversational post. Let people know there’s a person on the other end of the computer.

  • Always be audience-oriented.

The bottom line: stop killing your brand by constantly talking about your brand. Social media demands that you get rid of the “me, me, me” mentality and start focusing on others. People will buy from you if they like you, and you’re not going to attain that favorable position if you’re bombarding them with advertisements and self-flattering posts. Finding a good balance will ensure you’re not viewed as narcissistic, but rather an all-around social media player.

 

Do you struggle to obtain a balance when it comes to social media promotion and interaction? Perhaps you have a different viewpoint on the 80/20 rule. Share your thoughts with us below.

What You Need To Know About Webinar Dry Runs

Want to know how webinar marketing pros make the delivery of virtual presentations look super easy? The secret is simple: they practice. While you may believe that hosting this type of event is about knowing your content and cues, the reality is that managing a live webinar requires expert multitasking. After all, you’re dealing with technology that may just decide to abide by Murphy’s Law when you least expect it. For that reason alone, you need to schedule a run-through of your webinar a few days before the event to ensure you’re as prepared as can be.

What should you be doing during webinar dry runs?

A Webinar Dry Run ChecklistWebinar Dry Run

  • Introduce your webinar team members and presenters to each other if they haven’t already met. If guest speakers have any questions or require assistance, they should know whom to turn to for help. This is also a great opportunity to encourage participants and generate enthusiasm around the event.
  • Make certain everyone knows how the webinar software, tools, and features you’re planning to use work. You may need to pull out tutorials, user guides, and other training materials to conduct a quick recap for those who aren’t too familiar with the webinar service provider you choose.
  • Conduct a review of your webinar agenda and make sure everyone knows what their action signals are. If there are any persistent issues, now is the time to work them out and finalize changes. Ideally, you want to have your presentation materials loaded before you do a run-through so that there are few interruptions during your practice session.
  • Check your equipment to ensure everything is in working order. This includes an audio test, features check, and recording check. To avoid any nasty surprises, make sure everyone joins your webinar dry run from the computer they’ll be using for the live event. With the equipment check, you’ll need to test:
    • The compatibility of each person’s equipment with the web conferencing service you’re using;
    • Sound quality (use a good headset and eliminate background noises or echoes);
    • Phone-in options;
    • Plug-ins;
    • Recording abilities;
    • And features such as screen sharing, organizer or moderator controls, muting, and chat options.

If you have the resources, you might also want to consider having backup equipment in place if something malfunctions.

  • Run through your presentation and record it for reviewing purposes later. What you want to pay attention to here is the time it takes you to present your content, as well as the overall flow of your slides, visuals, and other materials. Ask yourself whether your webinar talking points are captivating enough, whether interactive elements such as polls are in an optimal position, and whether transitions between speakers is smooth. Also, take note of each speaker’s tone of voice and the pace at which the individual speaks.
  • Review your dry run recording and note down any problematic areas.
  • Adjust your presentation if needed, work out any technical problems, and answer any unresolved questions. Once everyone is happy with the outcome, you can wrap things up and wait for the real thing.

The last thing any webinar marketer wants is to be ill prepared or encounter technical glitches at the last minute. Practicing will ensure you know your content, cues, and webinar software. Be smart and schedule a dry run to eliminate unnecessary issues and ensure all participants are comfortable in their given roles.

 

Do you perform dry runs for your webinars? Is there anything you’d add to this checklist? Share your suggestions with us in the comment section below.