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Digital marketing seminars by Gorilla 76 and Evolve Digital Labs

September 2011

Measure twice, cut once

Pardon the shoptalk, but when brainstorming headlines for this post, I couldn’t help but come back to this adage. I guess it could be all the blue-collar marketing stuff on my plate right now. More than likely though, it’s just the raw power of such a short, memorable line.

In fact, I’d bet my right-handed hammer on it that that’s the reason.

We all know this idea, measuring twice and cutting once, applies when working in the shop, when one needs precise measurements for a plank that needs to be an exact size. But what about other aspects of life and business…like marketing your brand online? How important is measurement amidst the endeavor of effectively marketing a brand on the worldwide interweb?

For the first time in marketing history, we can effectively and efficiently measure just how hard our dollars, and ideas, are working. Google Analytics, awe.sm, Campaign Monitor, firsthand evidence (personally seeing 30 comments on a Facebook post), etc. are just a few cost-effective (if not free) tools that can help us measure our brand’s footprint on the web. Such insights will then act as brand blueprints for marketing moving forward. It’ll help you with decisions like channels, frequency and messaging.

Today, simply being on the web or having your brand online doesn’t get the job done. It might have five or ten years ago. But it doesn’t now. Almost everyone at this point can say their brand is online. It’s the marketers who act as students, constantly learning from what their measurement tools are telling them, that makes for successful case studies. Sadly, there are many that don’t pay attention to the metrics that are sitting there right in front of them. Talk about low-hanging fruit! It really doesn’t get much easier than this. But, more than likely, marketers who aren’t taking advantage of such trends have a good reason. Like they’re just not sure this web stuff is for them or their brand. They’re simply too busy during the day to worry about such trends. They’re a B2B company and the web isn’t a professional-enough approach for them. I say to them, what measurement can you provide on that monthly $2K golf budget? Think about that while sitting in front of your typewriter. Discuss that over your two-martini lunch.

Good measurement drives good content. Good measurement drives steady success. You can either listen to what your consumers are saying, adjusting your message and delivery methods as you evaluate again and again, or you can just keep feeding the monster with your earplugs in. I recommend embarking with the former as revealing successes and failures will help you communicate fancy stuff like ROI at that Monday marketing meeting. This will likely get you a raise which will likely land you in the corner office which will likely get you more vacation days which will likely provide you time to search for endangered sea turtles AND build that nonprofit you’ve been thinking about which will…you get the point. From the get go, with good measurement, you’ll look, and you’ll be marketing, really smart. You really can’t take your brand digital without it.

 

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Simple steps to increase your blog following

There are so many blogs out there.
I don’t want to commit to something that is just going to add to the noise.

If this is currently your perception regarding the act- nay, the art– of blogging, then you are unfortunately misinformed. Yes, there is an abundance of blogs on the WWW. Plenty of stay-at-home moms are rattling off posts during nap time about make-your-own laundry soap and gluten-free cinnamon rolls as you read this. But blogging is more than that- and this article will help you get on track. Following these tips will transform your blog into a real company asset.

As a business owner, having the mindset of “there are enough blogs out there,” or “I have nothing unique to contribute,” is a blatant contradiction of your company, isn’t it? If you don’t even have anything unique to say, why should anyone think that your products stand out from the competition?

The Three Essential Components:

What is all really comes down to, is producing consistent, interesting, and applicable content. A post that is consistent and interesting, but not applicable, is not going to be viewed often unless a reader wants to kill time.  If your posts are consistent and applicable, but not interesting, then there is not enough substance that will attract readers and captivate their attention. Finally, posts that are interesting and applicable, yet lacking consistency, are unreliable to read. If someone keeps checking back to scan new posts- and continue to find that you fail to push out new content, that reader will move on to a more dependable source.

So how do you get your blog up to this level? Writing isn’t easy. It takes time and strategy. But it’s fairly simple, especially if you have a clear brand image (or vision), knowledge of the kind of content you should be including (namely, keywords), and the motivation to stick with it.

Immediate Benefits

Think of how beneficial it can be for you to publish valuable content to an eager audience for free. Blogging is a promotional feature that has crossed over into the realm of public relations. And even better, when someone values the topics you write about, they are prone to spread it to social media outlets with just a click. Free promotion! It doesn’t get better than that.

Now, where do you begin?

It Starts With a Plan

First, you have to start with a content strategy. One way to organize this is to print off a calendar page for whatever month is coming up and fill in the posting schedule. Consistency is key or blogs; you have to maintain a constant flow of content. It is also a good idea to fill in the topics of which posts will be published on which day. This encourages you to write posts in advance, thus lessening confusion and scrambling to crank out a post the day you are scheduled to do so.

Get Out There

As a blogger, it’s important to interact with other people online. This doesn’t just mean limiting yourself to replying to comments on your blog. If you want to really build a strong following, you have to market your company by commenting on and interacting with other blogs. If there is a source that you find inspiring, make sure the author knows. Has a certain post revealed some great insight to you? Compliment the writer and thank him or her for sharing. Even start a discussion. This positive feedback on your part will prompt that author- and other readers- to visit your company blog.  Plus, habitually exploring other sites will trigger inspirations and ideas for you to enhance your own business.

You Scratch My Back, I Scratch Yours

Another important strategy for increasing your blog following is to utilize the idea of guest blogging. This means you can write for others or have others write for you. The benefit of doing this is to increase the blog’s influence on readers. If you ask a friend or business acquaintance to provide a post, then at the bottom of your blog, you will be able to link to that friend’s personal or company blog. This way, your friend will receive traffic from your site- and your blog will increase in value from having new written content from an additional authority. Then, of course, when you offer services as a guest blogger, you will be able to link to your own blog and gain new traffic as well.

Dress [your posts] to Impress

One very simple, yet often overlooked, component to successful blogs is formatting. Online material is typically scanned, rather than read line-by-line. To make sure that your readers are getting the most out of each post, stylize the content with headings and images. These visuals greatly refine the messages within your posts and call attention to the subject.

Hopefully you now understand the importance of blogging. It may take time to see results and gain a respectable following, but a blog provides you with an incredible opportunity. This is, of course, the ability to deliver insight and expertise with the branded voice of your company. You have the chance to become a source of information- so take advantage of it!

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Incredible PlanetTran gets unbelievably digital

I know it’s awfully early to be checking the odometer of their success, but green transportation company PlanetTran gets a Facebook thumbs up from this guy (that’s me for those confused). Sure, they’ve proven themselves over the past few years with their basic level stuff, but it’s their recent focus on building their brand digitally that gets an upward pointing digit (get your head out of the gutter) from yours truly.

This was all detailed in a recent story from one of my favorite pubs – good ‘ol Fast Company.

Things I love about what they’re doing? Hmmm…let’s see.

There’s the Wi-Fi ready hybrids which are cool. And the easy online booking that’s, well, easy. And then there’s the Tweet-a-ride functionality that lets clients tweet their location and destination for immediate service.

But that’s not what gets me excited.

Instead, I love their reasoning and strategy behind it all. I love that they saw a need and nailed the solution. I love that they’ve architected a brand that is flexible enough to take advantage of emerging channels and opportunities of engagement. I love that they know their audience, they know their goals and that they’ve implemented a business strategy using tools we all have, online tools available to everyone, to deliver an absolute, kick-ass experience for their clients.

Fast Company says it best. Would you rather hail a cab in the rain or order one more drink while you wait for your cab to wait for you? Because that’s a choice you have now. We’re in an eerily Darwinian era of customer service. The smart brands are recognizing this. The smart brands are adjusting. The smart brands will survive.

PlanetTran will be making headlines for years to come – I’d bet my cab fare on it. Three honks for them. Keep on toolin’ on.

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10 great free (or almost free) digital marketing tools

We’ve talked amongst ourselves, and here are ten of our favorite digital marketing software tools that will cost you nothing, or close to nothing, to learn and implement. They might not all be applicable to your business, but I’m willing to bet that at least a few will tickle your fancy.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Tweetdeck logo1. TweetDeck

Twitter’s acquisition of TweetDeck a few months back should be validation enough that this one is here for the long haul (whatever “long haul” means in a web marketing world where everything changes daily). TweetDeck is a pretty powerful tool that lets you manage a number of different social media accounts from one place. Want to post something to Twitter and Facebook, but not LinkedIn? Or maybe from two different Twitter accounts at once? TweetDeck is your answer. The software also supports Foursquare for anyone in the location-based social media world. COST: FREE

Awe.sm logo2. Awe.sm

Ever wonder what kind of footprint your social media sharing efforts are actually leaving? What’s working and what’s not? Awe.sm can at least start to give you an idea. This software allows you to create custom shortened URLs to replace any links that you’re sharing on your social networks, and backs it with data that you can then analyze. For example, if you find an article of interest to your audience, you can post it on Twitter and Facebook with different short URLs that can each be tracked separately. You’ll learn how many people clicked them and shared them with others through retweets or reposting. Most importantly, you can learn which bits of your shared content have generated real interest. Awe.sm also allows you to add custom share buttons to your blog posts or website content to make those shares trackable. COST: Starting at $15/month per user

AddThis logo3. AddThis

Similar to Awe.sm’s custom sharing buttons, AddThis let’s you put share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social platforms on your website or blog. Its analytics software then allows you to track the activity generated by those who share your posts by clicking the buttons. COST: FREE

Klout logo4. Klout

“Klout measures influence online.” How many people are your social media posts reaching? How much are you influencing the actions of those who are exposed to your posts? How influential are THOSE people? These are the main ingredients of Klout’s secret sauce that ultimately determines your Klout Score. So how is this useful to you as a marketer? In an interview with Forbes, founder Joe Fernandez described the Klout Score as “your social credit score”. As a marketer, you can use this information to figure out who in your audience is a true influencer online. From there, it’s up to you to decide what to do with the information. COST: FREE

EMAIL MARKETING

Campaign Monitor logo5. Campaign Monitor

This has been one of our favorites at Gorilla 76 for a while. Campaign Monitor is an email marketing software that, in their words, allows you to “send beautiful email campaigns, track the results and manage your subscribers.”. Features include the ability to create targeted lists of subscribers, add email capture code to your website or blog, and view analytics that let you literally see who is opening your emails and what they’re clicking. Powerful stuff. Though you can use some of their pre-designed templates, Campaign Monitor is at its best when you work with a designer to customize a template that visually integrates with your website. COST: $5 per send + 1 cent per recipient (unlimited monthly plans exist as well)

CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT

Highrise logo6. Highrise

A great product from an incredibly smart company called 37 Signals, Highrise is a very simplified CRM tool. If you’re a Salesforce user or a company tracking hundreds or thousands of new business leads, Highrise might be underwhelming. But if you’re a small or medium-sized company looking for a central location to store contact information, notes from meetings with these contacts, business leads and estimated values of these leads, Highrise could fit the bill. The software also allows you to create tasks to follow up with people at a chosen date and/or time. COST: Starting at $24/month

WEBSITE MONITORING AND KEYWORD RESEARCH (HAIL, ALMIGHTY GOOGLE)

Google Analytics logo7. Google Analytics

If you have any responsibilities in the process of website development or management at your company and you’re not fully-immersed in Google Analytics, you have permission to close this window click here immediately. Google Analytics allows you to look at almost any kind of website data imaginable, including how many visits your site is getting, what pages people are looking at, what sources are driving traffic to your site, what keywords people are searching in Google that are resulting in new visits, geography of your visitors, time spent on site and on specific pages, what percentage of visitors are coming from mobile platforms vs. desktop, and on and on and on. The key to Analytics is understanding WHAT metrics matter to your business. The data is overwhelming and not even useful unless you’re able to pinpoint what you’re trying to accomplish with your site. When you know the answer to that, you can measure and adjust your site accordingly. And heck, if you need assistance strategizing, I know a company or two that are pretty darn good at helping you figure it out! COST: FREE

Google Trends logo8. Google Trends

In their own words, “Google Trends analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you enter, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.” Translation: Google is giving you market intel on popular keywords searches for free! So you might want to use it. COST: FREE

Google Webmaster Tools logo9. Google Webmaster Tools

Another free gem from Mr. Google, Webmaster Tools helps you improve the visibility of your site in searches. The software helps you identify barriers to Google recognizing your specific site and what searches are driving traffic to your site. It also allows you to submit a site map to help Google better understand how your site is organized. The end result? SEO improvement and great reports to share with your boss. COST: FREE

Google Places logo10. Google Places

While this one is important to any business in our opinion, it’s particularly important to businesses that are locally-centered. How it works: Create a profile at google.com/places, enter descriptive information about your business (product or service offerings, location(s), hours, etc.), and then start asking for customer reviews after transactions. People trust reviews more than they trust ads, and people also like to have their voice heard online (thanks, Facebook and Twitter). Because Google owns this one, of course they’re going to give it some serious play in search results. It’s easy and it’s free, so there’s no reason not to use it. COST: FREE

There are obviously plenty of other great tools out there – both alternatives to the above and tools that serve different purposes. We’d love to hear from you about what you’re using and how you’ve found success.

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Selling digital to the boss man

“I just don’t think it’s relevant,” says CEO Phil N. Thablank. Well, if it’s digital marketing you’re talking about Mr. Thablank, you’re wrong. Dead friggin’ wrong. It’s relevant. And millions of web users a day say so. But, that might not be enough to convince the shrewd Mr. Thablank when it comes to best building […]

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