Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How to Plan a Content Marketing Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide

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Why Content Marketing Matters for Businesses


Content marketing helps businesses prepare and plan for reliable and cost-effective sources of website traffic and new leads. Think about it -- if you can create just one blog post that gets a steady amount of organic traffic, an embedded link to an ebook or free tool will continue generating leads for you as time goes on.

The reliable source of traffic and leads from your evergreen content will give you flexibility to experiment with other marketing tactics to generate revenue, such as sponsored content, social media advertising, and distributed content. Plus, your content will not only help attract leads -- it will also help educate your target prospects and generate awareness for your brand.

Now, let's dive in to learn the specifics of how to create a content marketing plan.

7 Steps for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

1) Define your goal.


What's your aim for developing a content marketing plan? Why do you want to produce content and create a content marketing plan? Know your goals before you begin planning, and you'll have an easier time determining what's best for your 2017 strategy. (Want help figuring out the right goals? Download this goal planning template.)

2) Conduct persona research.


To develop a successful plan, you need to clearly define your content's target audience -- also known as your "buyer persona."

This is especially important for those who are starting out or are new to marketing. By knowing your target audience, you can produce more relevant and valuable content that they'll want to read and convert on.

If you're an experienced marketer, your target may have changed. Do you want to target a new group of people or expand your current target market? Do you want to keep the same target audience? Revisiting your audience parameters by conducting market research each year is crucial to growing your audience.

3) Run a content audit.


Most people start out with blog posts, but if you want to venture out and try producing other content pieces, consider which ones you want to make. For instance, if you've been doing weekly blog posts for the past year, creating an ebook that distills all your blog posts into one ultimate guide would be a one way to offer information in a different format. We'll go over several different types of content you can use further down on the list.

If you've been in business for a while, review your content marketing efforts and the results from it in the last year. Figure out what you can do differently in the upcoming year and set new goals to reach. (Pro tip: Now is a great time to align your team's goals with the rest of your organization's goals.)

4) Determine a content management system.


Have a system in place where you can manage your content. A few vital parts of content management include content creation, content publication, and content analytics.

If you're a HubSpot customer, you can plan, produce, publish, and measure your results all in one place using HubSpot software. Other content management system options include CoSchedule and WordPress (although we can't speak to the full range of capabilities of these sites).

5) Brainstorm content ideas.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

5 Impressive Examples of Influencer Marketing Campaigns










What is Influencer Marketing?


Let's back up for a minute. What exactly is influencer marketing, and how does it differ from the traditional celebrity spokesperson advertising model?

While there is some overlap between celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing campaigns, influencer campaigns are designed to tap into an existing community of engaged followers. Influencers are specialists in their particular niches, and have established a high level of trust and two-way communication with their follower bases.

Their fans trust that their endorsement of a product or brand comes from a well-researched, more holistic place, rather than something as simple as a signed contract. And while there is often a formal agreement in place between brands and influencers, influencers tend to be more selective about their affiliations, choosing to partner with brands that reflect their unique personal brands and won't alienate their followers.

Celebrity product endorsements are less about engagement and more about attaching a person's fame and name recognition to a particular brand. For brands, celebrity-driven campaigns are much more about grabbing the attention of a wide audience than tapping into a very specific niche.
10 Influencer Marketing Examples

To give you an idea of how brands -- both big and small -- are leveraging the power of influencers in their marketing efforts, we've put together a list of ten influencer-driven campaigns. Check them out below, and decide for yourself: Is influencer marketing worth the hype?

1) Old Navy


The affordable clothing chain tapped social media influencer Meghan Rienks to appear in a series of promotional posts on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. In the videos, Rienks shows fans how to style outfits for different occasions (e.g., a holiday party, and big date night) using pieces from Old Navy.

Rienks, known for her comedy sketches and lifestyle content, has a formidable following on social media, with over 1.3 million Instagram followers and 2 million subscribers on her YouTube channel.

2) Naked Juice


This bottled smoothie brand is edging its way into the beauty, fashion, and health scene on Instagram with help from key influencers in the space. Lifestyle bloggers like Kate La Vie (below) share sponsored posts featuring snapshots of their daily outfits and beauty essentials -- including a strategically placed Naked Juice in the mix.


3) Glossier


This Manhattan-based beauty startup (which was recently named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies of 2017) owes much of their seemingly overnight cult status to their ever-expanding network of super fans and micro-influencers.

Instead of paying a few big names to promote their minimal skincare and cosmetics, the brand relies on "regular women" to spread the word.

"What's very motivating to us is this idea of every single woman being an influencer," Glossier CEO Emily Weiss told Quartz. Glossier recently introduced a referral program to enable their more influential followers to offer product discounts and other incentives to their unique networks.



4) Sperry


Towards the end of 2016, the boat shoe brand began working with over 100 micro-influencers on Instagram to create engaging content for their followers. Sperry identified fans of the brand on Instagram who were already sharing high-quality photos of their products, and started inviting these users to develop visual content for their official Instagram account.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Guest Post: Tips For Buying Girard Vintage Watch Through Cyber Dealerships and On-Line Auctions



The Internet appears to have had three major effects on the Girard vintage watch market: firstly, in terms of supply; secondly, in relation to price, and thirdly, it has given parasites and con artists a global platform in which to practise their deceit.

SUPPLY

In pre-internet days, the collector's lot was that of a somewhat nomadic search for elusive timepieces, of countless visits to auction houses and dealerships, of infrequent but heartening 'finds' and of time lines extending to many years, or even lifetimes, to build up substantial collections.

These days the legwork has to a large degree been replaced with an ever-changing marketplace of thousands of watches on eBay alone. The collector's experience and understanding of supply has been turned upside-down and watches hitherto thought of as rare or hard to find turn up regularly on various Internet auction sites.

It is now possible to assemble large collections in shorter periods of time if your passion is aflame and your coffers are deep. While this may satisfy in the short term the irrepressible obsessions and impulses of avid collectors, I wonder whether it will also gratify prematurely the collector's appetite for a lifetime of interest and acquisition.

PRICE

The Internet has also had a significant impact on price. No longer can a few bricks and mortar Girard vintage watches dealers monopolise price structures and quarantine specialist knowledge. The downside of this is that fewer people strike up a relationship with their dealer or watchmaker and instead fly solo on the Internet. However, if newbies land in one of the more respected brand or Girard vintage forums, they will encounter many generous people willing to share their knowledge.

While the on-line auction scene and specialist trading pages of watch forums started off as a platform for connecting wholesalers to retailers, it has 'matured' into marketplace where collectors source Girard vintage watches from a pool of suppliers, becoming almost, but not completely, a retail market. Prices are, to a larger extent, determined globally these days.

BLOODSUCKERS GO GLOBAL
The growth of the Internet Girard vintage watch marketplace through on-line auctions and cyber-dealerships has also created a new group of consumers for Girard vintage timepieces. And wherever there are neophytes with money, the slimy underbelly of commerce soon reveals itself.

In on-line watch forums the dissent over shady and dishonest seller practices has risen in concert with a creeping fatalism expressed by seasoned contributors who lament that the villains and shonks of the horological universe will ultimately push the good guys out.

Another common theme to run through many threads in on-line forums is 'Caveat Emptor'. This is often accompanied with somewhat merciless sentiments like it's "tough titties" and maybe a useful and salutary experience for newbies to buy a lemon or get ripped off. At least they walk away with a bit more experience - so goes the logic.

Too much emphasis, however, on Caveat Emptor and too little emphasis on blaming, naming and shaming the bloodsuckers who feed off the naiveté of new and often enthusiastic bidders sends the wrong message. When we place a disproportionate onus on buyers, the message we send to the parasites and rip-off merchants is that buyer naivety is a type of crime in itself. In the crooked mind of your average Internet parasite, that may mitigate his or her deceitful and underhanded practices.

Blaming the innocent makes it morally easier for the shonks to go into denial and avoid facing the full import of their deeds. It allows them to escape introspection and get out of facing the fact that they're navel lint, that they hurt people, and that they're a blight on the horological landscape.

If you're new to the game and want to avoid becoming a victim of the swarm of internet parasites that are buzzing around looking for fresh blood, observe the following cautions:

THE NEOPHYTES LIST OF ON-LINE GIRARD VINTAGE WATCH AUCTION DOS AND DON'TS
· Hazy unfocussed pictures can hide a multitude of sins - only bid or buy from sellers who agree to provide you with quality close-ups. Match those close-ups with what you know are pictures of the genuine article.

· Never buy a watch from someone who can't or wont provide you with close-ups of the movement, caseback and dial.

· Before you bid, check serial, caliber and caseback numbers to ensure they match to satisfy yourself that you are bidding on an authentic watch.

· Never buy a watch from someone who can't or won't provide relevant serial numbers and caseback numbers. If you haven't got numbers how can you do an authenticity check?

· Ask for the service history of the watch. Unless the seller or dealer expressly says the watch has been serviced, assume that you will have to service the watch as soon as you receive it. Factor that into your bid.

· If you want a Girard vintage watch to look and perform as new, you're in the wrong market.

· If a Girard vintage watch does look brand shiny new, chances are it's been seriously re-furbished. Ask the seller to detail exactly what was done. If it's not to specifications its value will be seriously compromised.

· Never buy a watch that has been offered under a twenty-four hour listing. This is a favourite ploy of scam artists who purloin genuine pics and set up bogus listings.

· Never buy a Girard vintage watch from a Chinese seller who has minimal or no feedback. More fraudulent listings come out of China, than Indonesia, Malaysia and other Asian countries combined.

· Unless you really know what you're doing, avoid sellers who have little experience in Girard vintage watches. Bid from sellers who have excellent feedback and a strong history of selling watches.

· With Girard vintage watches, be very wary of descriptions like: mint, minty, new-old-stock, brand new-in-box, keeps perfect time, like new, never worn, etc. Instead, go with sellers who detail in their listings specific condition reports and who use clear language to describe the watch.

· Look for ambiguity in listings. If the description can be taken more than one way, assume that the most negative connotation is correct.

· Ask plenty of questions of the seller. Clarify any issues before you bid. Good sellers welcome questions and respond fully to queries. Shonks avoid being tied down and will often be cagey in their replies.

· Avoid sellers who have 'private' feedback or who have opted for private bidding. While some sellers do this to avoid fraudulent second chance offers being sent to unsuccessful bidders, it is also conducive to sellers organising what is termed shill bidding: registering another name on on-line auctions and bidding against genuine bidders to inflate the price of the watch.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

7 Game-Changing Marketing Trends To Tackle in 2016










1) Relationship Marketing


As smartphone adoption continues to rise with an estimated 2 billion consumers worldwide expected to own a smartphone by 2016, the opportunity for brands to be connected with their customers and prospects is set to be closer than ever. Enter relationship marketing.

The goal of relationship marketing is to focus on building stronger loyalty and long-term customer engagement rather than on quick, short-term customer acquisition and individual sales. This helps companies develop strong, emotional customer connections to their brands that drive word-of-mouth promotions and lead generation.

Through meaningful customer relationships and conversations, companies create loyalists and brand advocates. Companies that do relationship marketing well set the bar high for other brands vying for more meaningful connections.

So, how can companies develop community and personalize their outreach efforts? Data. We now have data in easily accessible and interpretable formats through which we can develop strong relationship-marketing plans. In 2016 and beyond, personalized, data-driven marketing will become increasingly important.

Intrusive, mass-target approaches to marketing will slowly dwindle as marketers who focus on relationships grow their businesses. All solid relationships are built on trust. Transparency between customers and brands is essential, so companies must keep this in mind when mapping relationship marketing tactics.

2) Marketing Automation


As marketers today are spending at least 50 percent of their time on content, companies are coming up with more ways to automate marketing. Marketing automation alone is worth $5.5 Billion and is leading the way in lead generation and prospect nurturing.

Using a marketing automation platform makes it easier to schedule emails, segment contacts, automate social media posting, manage your content, and track the lifecycle of customers in your marketing funnel. This automation trend also highlights the growth of convergence, which allows you to stay lean, focused, and as profitable as possible without compromising on quality.

With even more focus on marketing to deliver results, marketing managers and CMOs should be taking stock of their team’s skills, noting the gaps and defining a robust automation strategy to help sales through engaging prospects, qualifying leads, and shortening the overall sales cycle.

3) Location-Based Marketing Technology


How can event professionals and marketers create an interactive experience? They must target users at the point of engagement. Location-based marketing technology, like iBeacons and RFIDs, helps make this possible. iBeacons are small, inexpensive transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to detect nearby devices that can be housed in retail stores, point of sale displays, and merchandising areas.

iBeacons can also help event attendees make the most of conferences through sign up and engagement in talks and sessions. Furthermore, Linkedin integration offers the opportunity to connect with attendees and send messages (including push notifications) about the latest news, reducing the need for delayed email communication.

A Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a small electronic device that contains a chip and an antenna, providing a unique identifier for that tag. RFID wristbands, cards, and apps enable event attendees to interact in new and engaging ways. Event organizers can let visitors easily share their experience with their friends online. Brands can increase shares and likes with a simple photo and tap of the wristband to share across social media.

It’s all about location – and the marketer’s ability to make the most of it, in real time.

4) Virtual Reality


Virtual reality technology, like Oculus Rift, will inevitably have a huge impact on the way that marketers engage consumers in 2016. One of the biggest keys to marketing, especially to Millennials, is personalization. With the ability to literally tell 360-degree stories, companies will be able to engage like never before.

Companies who don't supply a virtual experience for prospective customers, such as retailers, could see a drop in sales. Adoption of VR in 2016 and beyond will undoubtedly cause some kind of shift in marketing ideology. It’s best to hop on the VR train now to get a first look at what these new eyes will show us.

5) Ephemeral Marketing


Snapchat is already moving into the space of a “standard marketing platform.” In the upcoming year, marketers will come to understand that Snapchat isn't just a tool for fun marketing experiments; it's a platform that users are flocking to in order to digest social media in real time.

In order to deliver integrated campaigns that make constituents feel connected, especially the younger generation of consumers (read: Millennials) you need to be offering exclusive content that has an expiration date. This “less is more,” or ephemeral, marketing is all about communication that’s shorter and more to the point. In a world where people have less and less time, this model works.

Snapchat is the ultimate platform for making consumers feel connected and at the same time, unique. Brands such as ESPN, Vice, and Comedy Central already use it to push their messages to voracious consumers of media. With Snapchat, the advertisement becomes the product – something that competitors won't be able to ignore. Take advantage of this huge opportunity to connect uniquely using just a small window of your audience’s time. Be organic, speak their language, and just cut to the chase.