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Why Your Business Needs To Start Social Media Brand Monitoring TODAY

You’ve heard the horror stories.

Applebee’s, McDonalds, and Amy’s Baking Company are among a long line of brands with firsthand experience in these catastrophic tales.

We’re talking about social media users unleashing their frustration and fury on businesses that have done them—or humanity as a whole—wrong. Although we’d like to think it isn’t true (considering we should learn from the mistakes of others), rarely a week goes by without a big name brand trending on a “hot topics” list for all the wrong reasons.

While there’s an upside to social media in that it generates powerful publicity, there’s also a downside to social media in that it generates powerful publicity. From a lack of service to insensitive faux pas, customers are quick to share their experiences online and others are quick to spread the word. The good news is social media brand monitoring can help you nip potential problems in the bud while capitalizing on opportunities. There’s more to this activity than that, though.

Why should your business invest in brand monitoring ASAP?

Reason 1: Market Research

Market research is critical at almost every phase of campaign planning. Thankfully, social media channels have opened doors to information about target audiences and competitors that were otherwise closed without a large investment in traditional research methods. Now you can investigate and analyze a variety of metrics, characteristics, and other marketing factors with a few relevant keywords and a click on a search button.

Looking to crowdsource product development ideas? You’d be surprised how many people are tweeting what they wish a product like yours can do. Looking for opportunities with enough traction in the social graph to demand attention? Your social media using customers—and in many cases detractors—often see areas for growth or change that you’re completely oblivious to even on a good day. Looking to build relationships with brand advocates? They’d be the ones already touting your awesomeness. Hoping to connect with influencers? Well, you get the picture.

The bottom line: monitor. Monitor. Monitor.

Reason 2: Avoid a PR Crisis

social media brand reputationYou can ignore it all you like, but people are talking about you, your business, your products, your services, and your employees. Whether it’s positive, neutral, or negative conversation depends on their experience with your brand. If it’s an experience they’d soon rather forget, you better hope they don’t use social media to voice their opinion to the world.

A proactive approach to issues management is crucial if you plan to maintain a favorable reputation and dodge negative chatter. Social media brand monitoring tools let you pick up and respond to potential disputes before they become embarrassingly out of control PR nightmares that influence the future of your business. If you haven’t already, it’s time to take the blinders off and earplugs out and start listening to what people are saying about you. When you’re able to turn complaints into positive publicity and show you’re 100% invested in customer satisfaction, you may just have a chance at nailing this social media thing.

Reason 3: Gain Insight for Strategic Decision Making

You’re leveraging social media for a reason. Whatever that goal may be, you’d serve your business well to monitor social sites so you can facilitate and plan the execution of a strategy that combines the right mix of tactics for your brand. Find out where conversations are taking place, which topics are driving conversation, and how people feel about those topics. These insights give you an opportunity to make strategic decisions that will ultimately boost the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Reason 4: Track Your Branding Successsocial media brand monitoring success

How do you know if your messaging is correct, that you’re driving brand perception in the right direction, and that your brand positioning efforts are working? Hopefully, you know the answer by now: social media brand monitoring. Mentions, sentiment, influence, and other key performance indicators can all be tracked through listening tools.

Reason 5: Become Part of Relevant Conversations

If people are talking about you, isn’t that reason enough to join the conversation? Use this opportunity to improve customer relations or obtain high quality feedback from people who are already invested in you or the things you can offer them.

 

Are you actively participating in social media brand monitoring? If you’re a solopreneur, you may even consider it a social media chore. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so join the conversation below.

What Does Your Social Media Branding Strategy Look Like?

Social Media Branding StrategyFor many businesses, their online branding starts and ends with their website. While someone may have slapped the logo and a suitable background or cover image onto the company’s social properties, they’ve done little else to communicate their message to the world effectively.

If you believe you’ve unintentionally made this blunder and your social environment really isn’t representative of your brand at all, then follow along as we explain how to fix this common problem while building a solid social media branding strategy.

Congruency and Consistency

Okay, so your strategy may begin with the visual aspect of your online presence—it’s important to remember, however, that it’s not the be all and end all of your branding efforts. Being congruent and consistent simply means ensuring the message, look, and feel of your brand carries through from your website to any social profiles, blogs, and forums you own.

Before you set out to evaluate your existing social assets, consider what kind of impression you’re hoping to make. If your brand is a luxury brand, then ask yourself whether that’s something your audience can pick up within the first few seconds of clicking onto your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube pages. If it’s not, then you have some work to do. If it is, then you’re about half way to success.

#Tip: Pay attention to branding elements such as style, imagery, tone, and colors. Hire a professional designer to create captivating images and creative cover art if you don’t have any that are worthy of your networking sites.

Experience

Branding isn’t just about logos, colors, and certain font types. It’s about experience too. Since social media takes the experience between brand and consumer to a completely new level, you need to define that interaction so you can shape and control the way you’re perceived.

Think about the social media train wrecks we’ve seen in the past few years and how those negative experiences went viral faster than the account manager could hit the delete key. Now, think about your business decisions and the potential for them to find their way onto social channels. Will your community love you for your actions, or will they raise up an army of haters and smash your brand to smithereens?

#Tip: Set guidelines for your interactions with customers and develop a reputation management strategy. Be nice, be community conscious, and behave in a way that creates a positive experience. It’s not easy when you’re dealing with a complaint or negative comment left on your social feeds, but the way you react is going to be the tell-tale sign that lets people know what kind of person (and subsequently brand) you are.

Voice

social media brand voiceOne area where companies seem to lose it is in voice development. It’s far too easy to let your own voice overpower the qualities you want seen and heard in your business brand. While they may be very much the same, it’s still crucial to identify what your interactions should sound like. Developing your company’s voice is as simple as asking, “How will I speak to my audience?” When you have the answer, make sure your comments match those qualities.

Are you actively implementing a social media branding strategy or are you letting your community define you? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so join the conversation below.

Setting Realistic Goals and Objectives for a Webinar

You’ve probably heard it before: every solid marketing strategy begins with goals and objectives.

While that’s certainly true, you may not know what those targets should look like if you’re dabbling in a content marketing tactic like webinars for the first time. In this post, we dig a little deeper into the process of setting realistic goals and objectives for a webinar, as well as provide insight into practical things you should look at when planning for success.

Evaluating Higher-Level Business Goals

Webinars for lead generation goals

Webinars can be highly effective for drawing in leads and nurturing them through your sales funnel.

You can’t possibly formulate an effective execution strategy for webinar marketing before identifying the high-level business goals this tactic can help you achieve. Therefore, you need to start this process by mapping out your overall goals for growth and then figuring out how webinars can potentially fit in to your plan. This includes pinpointing the stages of the sales funnel at which you’ll leverage a webinar to achieve a specific goal.

For example, if your business goal is to increase revenue by 20% for the year, you’ll need to improve sales conversion rates. To do that, you can use webinars in one of several ways:

  • generate awareness
  • draw in qualified leads
  • move prospects up the interest ladder

How many webinars you create and when you’ll use them depends on your product or service offering, how you structure your sales funnel, and what you hope to achieve through this communication tool.

Formulating Webinar Goals and Objectives with a Specific and Narrow Focus

It’s all too easy to say, “Our goal is to build a reputation as a thought leader in XYZ.” Yes, it’s a goal, but it’s not one that’s very focused, specific, or effective. If we give this a little more substance, the goal and objective might look something like this:

Goal: Build thought leadership by educating prospects and customers on XYZ using relevant, unique, and expert insights that are appropriate for their level of education.

Objective: Achieve a 35% response rate and 80% satisfaction rate as measured by an exit survey.

At this point, you might be wondering what other kinds of goals you can set for each webinar. While we won’t go into metrics or the intelligence you can potentially gather in this post, you should consider the following areas:set attendance goals for a webinar

  • Target registration goals
  • Target attendance goals
  • Real-time feedback goals
  • Audience retention goals
  • Thought leadership goals
  • Post-event goals
  • Sales-specific goals

When you break down each of these areas, you can start to create sub-goals and objectives. Let’s take target registration goals as an example. It all starts with a landing page, which means you’ll not only define your goal for the number of registrations you hope to receive, but you’ll also ask key questions like “What are my traffic goals?” and “What are my CTR goals?” These answers are crucial because when you compare them to your actual results, you’ll find they indicate the quality of your message and the effectiveness of your landing page. As you can see, you suddenly have a subset of goals you need to define as part of your webinar strategy.

Action Steps:

  1. List your overall business goals.

  2. Identify which goals you can work toward through your webinar marketing efforts.

  3. Outline how you’ll use webinars as part of your sales process.

  4. Formulate goals for each webinar.
  5. Formulate objectives for each of those goals.

Although you probably don’t need the reminder, you’re getting it anyway: goals must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based). If you can’t establish a specific metric that can be measured to determine your success, then you need to rethink your goal and its supporting objective because you cannot manage what you cannot measure.

 

Do you struggle to set goals and objectives for your webinars? Perhaps you find it a challenge with any strategy you develop. You might even be the polar opposite and this part of the process doesn’t really faze you. We’d love to hear from you either way, so let us know if you have any questions, comments, or advice for others by dropping us a line in the comment box below.

Animate Your Google Plus Profile Banner

Google Plus LogoNo, if you animate your Google Plus profile banner, it won’t drive more traffic to your site or have any kind of business impact. However, if you are active on G+ and want a unique way to showcase your brand, it can definitely help you stand out from the crowd. The whole process is pretty simple and involves the use of software that can easily be found for free online.

This method involves using video clips. I’m sure there are other ways to do it, but I got a nice result from this method, so I like to share it.

Step 1: Your video clip.

Choose a video clip that is less than two minutes long. It can be pretty much any aspect ratio. Most video files, by default, are in the 1440 by 1080 range. You can resize this later.

Step 2: Extract still images (frames) from the video using software. 

I used a free download of Irfanview. Open your video in Irfanview after you have downloaded and installed it on your computer.

Choose Options -> extract all frames.  It helps to create a folder before you do this to keep your images organized. Otherwise, Irfanview will just store them in your TEMP folder.

ifran-screenshot

Step 3: Cropping your images to fit into your Google Plus Profile.

You will have to crop your images so that they fit nicely into the profile banner on G+. Cropping every single image would be a nightmare, so you can do this in Irfanview, as well.

Open the first of your images (001) in IrfanView. Left-click on the image and drag to define a nice rectangular box that outlines the area you want to use. The info bar at the top of the window should show you the current selected dimensions. You need a 5:1 ratio or 980 by 196px (whatever you use, write it down so you can use it in later steps).

Step 4: Get X,Y coordinates. 

You will also need the X,Y coordinates for later cropping of your images. To do that, just click at the top left corner of the rectangle you created and hold there. Up at the top of the screen in Irfanview, you will see the XY coordinates of your mouse pointer. Write these down.

You can now get rid of the current window you are working with.

ifran-screenshot2

Step 5: Now it’s time to do some batching. 

Use the batch function under the file menu. Choose batch->conversion/rename.  Make sure you check the “Use advanced Options for Bulk Resize” box and click “Advanced.”  The first step is to set up the correct region to crop your image. Remember that you will need just one image for your banner, and it needs to be big (940×180). Use the XY coordinates that you just wrote down, and also enter in your height and width dimensions from earlier.

ifran-view

Step 6: Select your images.  

In the batch window, navigate to the images that you want to use (the ones you extracted from your video) and select them all. Tip: hold down the ctrl or command key to select a whole range of them. Click the “add” button near the bottom of the window. Make sure your output folder is selected on the left, then click “start batch.”

The cropped images that are all the right size for your G+ profile should now be in the folder that you selected for output.

Step 7: Making your GIF.

Now that you have all of the images to make your GIF, you have to combine them all. If you have a piece of software you like to use, go right ahead. If you don’t, you can use Photoscape. It’s free and easy to use, and if this is the only thing you plan to use it for, you can delete it right after you’re done.

You can find it here (I used the CNET download link).

Install the program, then run it. Click on the “Animated GIF” icon on the right side of the screen.

In the left pane of the program, you will see your computer’s file structure. Find the images that you have recently cropped. Once you get to them, you will see them all appear in the pane below the file structure. Select one of them, then hit Ctrl-A (Command-A for Mac). Drag all of them into the main work area.

Play with the rate of animation until you are comfortable with how the GIF looks. Note that the number of seconds you set is the amount of time each image is shown to make the whole thing look like a video, but be a GIF. For the video I used, 0.8 seconds seemed to be a good speed. Typically, the bigger the number, the slower the video.

Also set your canvas size, as it may have changed by default when you imported images. I had to revert mine back to 980 px by 196 px.

Once you are satisfied, click the save button. You now just have to follow the steps for uploading your image to Google Plus. You might have to play with it a couple times to get the right look.

 

What tips do you have to make your G+ profile strand out from the crowd? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

6 Straightforward Tips for Building a Social Media Management Company

building a social media management companyIs the entrepreneur in you ready to take your knowledge, experience, and passion for social media to the next level by starting a social media management company?

If you’re eager to take the next steps, but launching your business and building your initial client base seems like a daunting task, then you’ll want to pay attention to these six straightforward tips for starting a business while maximizing your effectiveness.

Tip 1: Create a Product or Service Offering In Line With Your Skills

As social media evolves, so do the roles and skills required to create, implement, manage, and maintain campaigns. Therefore, you need to identify your competencies and figure out what you’re going to include as part of your service offering. Will you provide online audits and needs analysis? Strategy development and implementation? Educational training? Monitoring and reporting? Social media policy creation? Whether it’s one or all, make sure you develop a framework for your approach to product and service development, as well as define your unique value proposition.

Tip 2: Optimize Your Online Properties for Your Brand

Before you launch your social media management company, you’ll want to ensure your business website, social media profiles, and blog are optimized for search and that your branding is infused throughout these properties. A solid brand that’s recognizable and consistent is going to go a long way in helping you establish credibility.

Tip 3: Leverage Your Experience and Credibility

If you haven’t built your own online communities and you’re not an active social media player, the chances are a potential client won’t trust you enough to hire you. Think of your profiles as your online portfolio, and then use them to demonstrate your effectiveness at growing a loyal following of fans who engage with your insightful content and participate in the conversations you generate.

Tip 4: Know What You’re Worth

Since you’re just starting out, your hunger to nab a new client could overrule the economic aspects of running your own social media management company. Make certain you do your research beforehand so that you charge market-related prices for the types of services you’ll be offering.

Tip 5: Be Prepared To Overcome Objections

Be Prepared To Overcome Objections

The reality is this: most Internet users know how social media sites work. It’s become second nature to them, and younger generations are becoming smarter and smarter at using these platforms. Unfortunately, the widespread adoption of social media has sprung an “anyone can do it” mentality. Therefore, you need to be ready to overcome objections when potential clients underestimate the level of skill required for this job. You need to be ready to explain that you don’t simply tweet or play on Facebook all day. You need to be ready to justify your prices.

Tip 6: Promote, Network, and Get Involved

How do you grow your client base? Ask your current clients, connections, or social media communities for referrals; develop an inbound marketing strategy along with high quality lead generating content; network in business forums; advertise; and tap into your offline network. Building a social media management company is no different to building any other type of company. You have to figure out what works for you, allocate your resources wisely, and pursue the avenues that will yield maximum ROI.

There are thousands upon thousands of social media managers out there, so anyone who tells you it’s going to be easy is lying. However, your social profiles are where your work can speak for itself, and it’s likely to do a better job than you are.

Have these tips helped? If you’ve already established a social media management company, feel free to share your advice and stories with us in the comment section. We’d love to hear about your trials and triumphs.

9 Ways Webinars Benefit Your Business

Using webinars to market a businessIf you’re still on the fence about webinar marketing, and whether it’s right for your business (even after answering “yes” to every question in our quiz), you might want to evaluate the ways in which webinars benefit a business. Their advantages may just be enough to persuade your positive adoption of this tactic.

#Benefit 1: They’re Cost-Effective

When a tight budget or miracle-demanding bosses expect you to accomplish more with less, webinars can be an affordable solution to your dilemma. While you’ll still have to set aside costs for webinar development and web conferencing technology, you won’t need to budget for the travel, venue, accommodation, and catering expenses usually dedicated to hosting in-person seminars. That means you can free up finances for other areas of your business without sacrificing the opportunities this marketing tactic offers.

#Benefit 2: They’re Scalable

Nobody likes turning away a prospect or client, but live events at physical venues can really limit space. Thankfully, webinars are scalable. With no seating restrictions, you shouldn’t have any problems accommodating people who want to attend at the last minute.

#Benefit 3: They’re Convenient

Since there’s less organization involved with online events, webinars are a time-efficient tactic. They’re also designed to last around 45-90 minutes so you can easily schedule other activities into your day.

#Benefit 4: They Help Build Awareness

 webinars raise brand awareness

By creating a sense of occasion around the information or ideas you have to share, you effectively create hype and attract attention from your target audience. As awareness grows, traffic numbers to both your registration page and site will likely increase, and people registering for the webinar will potentially influence its virality by spreading the word to their online communities.

#Benefit 5: They’re Engaging

A huge focus for any marketer developing content is engagement. Thanks to the inclusion of video, slides, audio, and other interactive elements, webinars offer a highly engaging form of communication.

#Benefit 6: They Offer Long Term Value

If you record the session, your content can be accessed at any time long after the webinar has ended. Participants who may have missed something or want to reference your material at a later stage will gain additional value if they can view the webinar on demand. You can also generate residual ROI as you repurpose the presentation to create additional content.

#Benefit 7: They Increase Your Market Reach

Webinars increase market reachYou aren’t limited by location, which means you have an opportunity to grow your business faster by extending your reach across international borders. Audience members who wouldn’t have been able to attend an in-person event will also feel included and privy to the same experience as everyone else.

#Benefit 8: They Help Grow Your List, Leads, and Sales

Webinars are excellent for establishing yourself as a thought leader, educating and training attendees on your products and services, highlighting your experience and expertise, building relationships with audience members, increasing your brand’s credibility, and more. Therefore, if you create compelling content and use webinars the right way, you can motivate participants to join your email list, move them through your marketing and sales funnel, and convert them into paying customers and brand advocates. Ultimately, webinars offer a highly effective way of growing your list at a lower cost per lead.

#Benefit 9: They’re User-Friendly

You don’t need to be an IT guru to master web conferencing technology, nor do your audience members require technical abilities to register for and join a webinar. In fact, software has only become faster, more reliable, and less clunky over the last few years, so it really is a win-win situation all around.

 

Have we convinced you that webinars are worth a try? Are there any benefits you’d add if you’re already leveraging webinars in your business? Join the conversation in the comment section below.

An Inbound Marketing Guide for Email: Start the Conversation

inbound-for-email-marketingInbound marketing is about building a non interruptive funnel to draw people into your brand. So when you throw in things like emails (which are traditionally interruptive forms of advertising), it’s hard to still call it inbound marketing. You’ll find that there are differing viewpoints on the role of email when it comes to inbound. Some marketers will say it’s outbound, whereas others will say it’s inbound. I’m in the camp that says it’s a little bit of both depending on how it’s being done.

Inbound is A Conversation

A theme of inbound marketing is that it’s about developing a conversation with your audience and engaging them with good content. Marketers who are forcing the conversation by purchasing lists or sending unsolicited messages are not sticking to this theme.

Email can be totally in the inbound marketing arena if consumers have opted to receive communication from a business, and if that business delivers on its promise. For example, if a prospect signs up to receive an ebook or newsletter subscription, a company should only send emails related to or containing those forms of content. In that way, the relationship becomes a give and take, or a mutually beneficial one.

social-sharingSocial Sharing

In the video below, Joel Book (Marketing and Research at Exact Target) mentions a statistic posited by Tim Schigel (Founder & Chairman at Share This). Tim said that 50% of all content shared on the Internet is done via email. That is a pretty huge chunk if that stat is at all accurate.

Regardless of whether the 50% figure is true or not, sharing functions in emails play a crucial role in email’s position as an inbound marketing function. When emails are sent to recipients from companies, they have to fit a certain criteria in order to be a part of inbound marketing.

When ANY email is forwarded to, or its contents shared with others online — regardless of how the original recipient received the email — that is totally inbound marketing. It’s because those brand advocates are selling your products or services for you without compensation, and because they feel the content is useful to the people they know.

Check out the other responses from industry professionals on whether or not they feel email is an element of inbound marketing or not.

Email can also be used in a nurturing function for inbound marketing. When prospects sign up to receive content via your company in the form of ebooks or newsletters, they may find other things interesting as well.

In this regard, you can keep the conversation going by mentioning other content that people may find useful. You can further your relationship with a prospect, nurture them down the path to making a purchase and maintain the essential character of inbound marketing in the process.

 

Do you think email is an outbound or inbound marketing tactic? Do you think it’s both? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

 

How to Create the Best Email Marketing Campaigns

The @ symbolThere is no shortage of posts and articles to read that tell you the best practices for email marketing. We even have a few of our own. I know that when I’m looking for guidance on how to do something, it’s so much easier when you can see a physical example of what to do. So for email marketing, it’s a lot easier when you have a set of examples highlighting the best practices we talk about. Here are some examples of great email marketing campaigns and what they are doing right.

Hulu

If you didn’t already know, Hulu is an online video-streaming service that has recently launched a paid subscription plan for popular movies and television shows. They are pretty much a direct competitor of Netflix. I receive lots of emails from them, and  I like the simplicity and design of their templates. Specifically, their calls-to-action and the task they want users to perform after opening the email are very clear. Check out the body of their email below. Notice how important messaging is not displayed as an image but as plain text. They only have one button for you to click through to their website. There is no ambiguity or confusion. If I want to check out BBC classics, that is what I will get.

A hulu email marketing campaign

Also check out the consistency of their subject line with the body of the email. If I am interested in BBC television shows (which I’m not), I would click on the email. What do I get when I click? Low and behold it’s information about BBC television shows, not a bunch of other information that I don’t care about.

hulu-email-subject

Mashable

Even though Mashable is a news organization, I wanted to point out one thing they do really well on a consistent basis, which is calling attention to personal conflict. They do it well in their subject lines, and they do it well with the compilation of stories that they put together for their email content.

Even though retail and service-based organizations don’t produce shocking news stories, they can take a page from Mashable’s approach. If you are a business producing content for the web, you can always put a twist on your content that reflects pop-culture or that, in some way, draws attention to personal conflict.

Check out their subject line below. Who couldn’t resist clicking on this to see if they might be doing one of those things on the internet that could be considered illegal?

mashable-subject

They also do a good job of being consistent. The first thing you see is the story that caused you to open the email in the first place. Indeed, scandal and the indiscriminate search for miscues is what makes stories on these sites so attractive. You can also leverage this as a business by shaping your content in certain ways and then promoting them as such.

mashable-body

Esurance

When you just send out emails about your business talking about your products and services, no one really cares. If you are going the next step and offering sales or discounts, recipients may be marginally impressed. When you create content that they can use, however, they sit up straight and pay attention. In other words, no one will care about your message unless there is something in it for them.

Esurance does this pretty well with their eNewsFlash. Recently I saw an email with a very compelling subject line. It was a question asking if electronic forms of car insurance proof are allowed in my state. I didn’t know, and — being a tech-savvy person — I kind of wanted to know, so I clicked on the email.

esurance-subject

Esurance delivered, showing me a nice graphical representation right at the top of the email of all the states where digital forms of insurance ID cards are acceptable to show to a police officer when I get pulled over (my state was not one of them – darn!)

esurance-body

It is this kind of content that consumers find valuable. It is also the kind of content that stays in the mind of the consumer later on down the road when they go to make a purchase. Prospects who are not yet customers of Esurance may even refer back to the company for information when they eventually shop for car insurance.

Seeing real examples of campaigns that provoke interest and are well configured helps marketers in their own marketing efforts. When we can visually place best practices with real-life examples, we can more easily create effective email marketing campaigns.

 

Do you have any examples of email campaigns that are done really well? Let us know by leaving a comment below.  

Webinar Marketing and Your Business: Yes or No?

Webinar marketingThere’s no denying that a webinar offers a powerful outreach and training tool, but is it the right medium for your brand’s marketing efforts?

Like all communication technologies, you need to evaluate whether webinars fall in line with your brand’s strategic marketing objectives and if they meet the needs of your target market. Although webinars work well in some circumstances, they don’t in others. Therefore, you need to ask yourself some key questions before deciding to leverage this tool.

Crucial Questions to Ask Before Making a Decision

  • Is your audience tech savvy? While most web conferencing providers do not require audience members to install software prior to joining a webinar, there may be supporting software, such as the most recent version of Adobe Flash Player, that your viewers may be prompted to download. As a result, you need to be mindful of leads, prospects, or customers who can barely open their emails, let alone register for and attend a webinar.
  • Are prospects based across geographically dispersed locations? Depending on the type of business you run, you may have a very small client base located locally—buyers you can easily visit in a single trip. If that’s the case, then webinar marketing is likely not for you. However, if you’re attempting to reach customers globally, then this could be the perfect communication medium for educating and connecting with your consumer base.
  • Are you desperate for an inexpensive alternative? When certain expenses, such as those involved in travel or face-to-face training, become too prohibitive, webinar marketing could offer your business a cheap and equally effective solution.
  • Can you conduct your presentations within a reasonable timeframe? The average webinar runs for 45 to 60 minutes. If your subject matter requires extensive coverage, you may find it’ll be better suited to a traditional daylong training conference. Alternatively, you can split your topics and information into smaller chunks that would form part of a webinar series. Keep in mind when developing your webinar marketing plan that you’re likely to lose audience interest if your webinars are too long.
  • Will your business need to conduct follow-ups after real-world events? If you consistently host large corporate events, seminars, conferences, tradeshows, or functions of a similar kind, think about using webinars as your communication channel for following-up and maintaining relationships with groups of people. You may find web conferencing is more effective than phone or email.
  • Will on-going education improve sales, customer satisfaction, and ultimately lead to increased retention? Use webinars to educate and improve customer satisfactionIf you believe you can leverage this tool to drive better engagement, enhance the value of your offerings with additional information, and help customers utilize your products and services more effectively, then webinars are definitely worth a shot.
  • Do you have the necessary resources to create and host webinars? While this tool is still relatively inexpensive when compared to other options, there are still costs involved. If your marketing budget can handle it, then give webinar marketing a go.

If you’re still uncertain whether webinars meet your business needs, consider soliciting advice and feedback from others. Ask potential audience members whether they’d be receptive to online training, gather feedback from experts on the subjects you intend to tackle, and evaluate what competitors are doing. A little research can go a long way to helping you determine whether webinars are the right medium for your audience.

 

Does your business use webinars? What has your experience been like? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

An Inbound Marketing Guide for Social Media

inbound-for-social-mediaA common denominator among all social media networks that have gained traction in recent years is that millions of people are using them to communicate. A great deal of the public now uses these networks to not only talk to one another, but to get their news and entertainment. Social networks also play a key role for inbound marketing. They act as a net that captures the attention of people who may be interested in the content a company is offering.

It’s also clear that each social media platform brings different strengths to the table. Each one has its own opportunity to leverage certain kinds of content. For example, Instagram is great for images. YouTube is great for video. Facebook is wildly popular and flexible and Twitter is great for short, fast-paced dissemination of news-related content. Continue reading our inbound marketing guide for social media to learn more.

inbound-marketingThe Importance of Social to Inbound

Before we get into positioning content on different platforms, it’s important to realize why social media is crucial to the inbound marketing puzzle. The main reason social media is so vital to inbound marketing is because it is one of the cheapest means of advertising your content.

The reality is that you can produce exceptional writing, video, images and any variations of these content forms, but if you have no way to tell people about them, chances are they will never get seen. Let’s think about this for a moment: if there were no social media and no search, how would you get Internet users to see your content? You would have to advertise it online or offline in some fashion.

With social media, you can build a unique and personal network in which to push information to. What’s better is that these platforms are completely free less the cost of paying a knowledgeable person to manage it all.

The Data Behind Social Media

Everyone is talking about using social media, and many companies know they should be doing it, but we have to look for hard data when we are forking over cash for these initiatives. HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound marketing report has a ton of great stats on how marketers are making a difference with social media and inbound marketing.

For example, it was reported that social media contributed 14% of marketers’ total pipeline in 2013. It was also reported that 82% of companies that blogged daily acquired a customer through their blog. The chart extracted from HubSpot’s report shows that marketers surveyed are allocating much of their marketing budget toward social media and SEO.

social-media-inbound-marketing

Positioning Your Content

Depending on what kind of content you are pushing out, there are specific ways you should position it on the various social platforms.  Some networks allow for more engagement opportunities and still others are more or less effective for certain kinds of content.

Blog Posts

Links to blog posts relevant to your target market are great to share on virtually all networks that you are active on. They are also great to share in emails and even as URLs in print ads. On social media, this content can serve as the reason that someone goes to your site.

You want to be sure that the content you share is relevant to the market you’re sharing it with. For example, you can use circles in Google Plus or the inline audience selector on Facebook to share content with segmented lists of people.

imagesImages

Images are great to share on sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. Infographics are image-based pieces of content that combine interesting information with attractive graphics. Be careful not to give too much away when sharing these. Start out by sharing a smaller version of the graphic along with a link to the original one so that people have to visit your site in order to read it.

Video

Sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, Vine and Instagram’s new 15 second video service are all great places to engage people with video. YouTube is a network that can be leveraged the most because you have the ability to embed links, callouts, ads and other things (provided by the network itself) in your videos. People can also subscribe to your channel and get emails when you post new videos.

cassette-tapesAudio

You don’t hear about a lot happening with audio, but it can be an effective form of content for inbound marketing. People love to find useful podcasts, audiobooks and music among other forms of audio for use in all sorts of scenarios. Some companies are even taking advantage of a newfound popularity of audio. An app called Dubbler for iOS and Android is making its rounds and allows users to record 60 second snippets for sharing on popular social media sites.

Social media is the channel through which people are discovering all kinds of useful content. Part of getting people to discover the great writing, video, images or audio that you produce is having a robust social presence made up of your target market.

How do you use social media for inbound marketing? Is there anything that you would add to our inbound marketing guide for social media? Join the conversation by commenting below.