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Internet Marketing, Social Media, eMarketing… It’s Still Marketing

imageInternet marketing, online marketing, eMarketing, social media marketing — whatever you call it, it’s still marketing. It’s still the art and science of crafting and delivering a message that influences the recipient’s behavior. (Ok… that may be oversimplified, but there is truth in that statement). After all, the end goal of marketing is to be an equal contributor to sales in driving revenue for our company or clients. The Internet and social media don’t change this goal. What has changed are the rules and strategies for achieving it.Many marketers are attracted to online marketing and social media because of the reduced costs. Your decision to leverage the Internet and social media in your marketing mix should not be based just on cost. It also shouldn’t be about being cool. Sure blogging, podcasts, twitter etc. are cool, but if what you’re really trying to do is drive more revenue, you have to take the coolness factor out of it.So take a step back and consider the following:Internet + Social Media Tools = Increased Customer Interaction – Think about how you can leverage every single interaction to increase the value of your product, brand, or company in the eyes of your customers and prospects. Where are Your Customers? — Do your research. Find out where your customers are online and what social media they are using. The traditional marketer in you may want to find the demographics on each social media tool, but you can do it another way: Look at a random sample of your customer base and find them, via email address, on the different sites. Determine which have a significant presence of your target customers, and invest your time and energy on those platforms. Content Trumps Awareness — Content is the raw material that makes it possible for your target customers to use the Internet and social media tools to objectively research, evaluate and compare your product, company, and services. The quality, range, and availability of your content is now the most important deciding factor in putting what you are selling in front of prospects interested in buying. This now becomes the most important consideration for marketing. Augment; Don’t Replace — Social media and the Internet are not a panacea. Don’t forego more traditional marketing channels. Think about how you can leverage what you are currently doing in an online manner — even if it’s just promoting an event in a Twitter stream or creating customer testimonial videos and posting to YouTube. Evaluate your library of content and extend its reach by posting in online forums. Take small steps.Which Tools are Right for Your Business? – Chris Brogan has a great post up today on evaluating what social media tools can do and how to better integrate them into your marketing strategy. He offers the formula Possibilities + Function as a way to evaluate these tools. His insight is great.. seriously.. go read it.

Marketing Metrics – Is It In Your DNA?

imageWe’ve recently been talking a lot about how we measure marketing within the Channels Marketing team here at Cisco. The present challenging economy we’re in keeps this top of mind. We all need to do more, better, smarter marketing with less. Aren’t we all in that same boat? My take on marketing measurement is that this is something that we should be doing all the time. Sure we may be more motivated now than ever before to show how marketing positively impacts the business, but… really… tying our marketing to business goals, measuring our efforts and being accountable should be part of our DNA as marketers. So let’s use this motivation to learn why, what and how to measure our marketing. Laura Patterson, President and co-founder of VisionEdge Marketing , a leading metrics-based strategic marketing firm spoke at our Cisco Partner Velocity event in February and our internal marketing boot camp session last week about this very topic. I highly recommend that you check out her “The Measure of Marketing” presentation she did during Velocity. This outlines the development of a marketing metrics framework from tactics (activity based) through strategic (predictive) measurement. Rather than jump right into how you get to the more strategic measurements, I thought I’d start at a more tactical level with intent to do subsequent posts on this topic and the hope that we all can evolve to more predictive measurements over time. Most of us are probably doing at least some basic activity-based level reporting e.g. event registrations versus attendees, appointments scheduled via a telemarketing campaign etc. (If you’re not doing this, then we need to chat live…). Can we take this kind of measurement up a notch? I think it’s possible. Instead of measuring only the small results details e.g. a telemarketing campaign to 150 contacts – received 4 scheduled appointments, try to bring these results in line with your true objective which is to drive your business and get a decent return on your marketing expenditure. Here are some suggestions for other measurements that you can apply start to apply to your marketing activities and campaigns. Cost Per Lead — Total marketing costs divided by the number of leads meeting your target customer profile and sales readiness criteria. For example if you spent $10,000 on a telemarketing campaign which netted 100 leads your cost per lead would be approximately $100. See my earlier blog post on sales leads for details on lead definitions. Conversion Rate — Number of qualified opportunities divided by the number of leads. If those 100 leads above net 15 qualified opportunities, you would have a conversion rate of 15%. Pipeline — Sales pipeline created by the activity or campaign. If you total the opportunity size for those 15 leads you would have your pipeline number.Return on Investment (ROI) — In its most simplistic form ROI is revenue generated from your marketing efforts minus your total marketing expense. My recommendation is not to try to measure ROI immediately. It takes time for leads to be nurtured, opportunities to materialize and deals to be closed. True ROI measurement is longer term in scope. There is a standard marketing ROI calculation included in the “How to Create a Flawless Marketing Plan” presentation from Velocity which gives you a better idea of how to “forecast” a potential ROI from your marketing efforts. One last thought — Never underestimate the power of a good CRM system. Measuring marketing requires the ability to track leads. Your CRM system is of paramount importance to this effort. The Business Marketing Institute has an interesting eBook — “On Demand CRM and the New Marketing Model” that may help you identify how you can leverage your CRM system to make your marketing more effective and increasingly measurable.

Video & PR – A Recipe for Increased Exposure

imageVideo is not a fad. It’s fast becoming an important mechansim for message delivery in the corporate world. Why? Video effectivley conveys information and emotion in a single package. And whether we like to admit it or not, there is typically a certain amount of emotion involved in purchasing decisions.Public relations has shifted away from its traditional laser focus on the media with the rise of the Internet and new media options. Opportunities to bring PR into marketing campaigns abound. Plus, most experts now agree that PR is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your company. At the recent Cisco Partner Velocity event I spent a good deal of time in the skills clinic speaking to partners about using video within their marketing mix. One element we did not discuss directly at Velocity is the use of video as part of your PR efforts. Thought I’d address this now.How can video bolster your PR efforts? Video, and images for that matter, can get you better attention from search engines when they are thoughtfully and purposefully aligned with your PR efforts. You still have to make your story interesting, relevant and newsworthy. Adding video to a poorly written release riddled with gobbledyguck and hyperbole isn’t going to do you any good. Assuming you have an interesting, relevant and newsworthy press release, here are some quick pointers on how to integrate video into your PR effort and possibly increase your exposure. • Make sure your video reinforces the core message of your press release. You’re video needs to be clearly related to the release. Incongruent content reduces the overall impact.• Your video must be easy to share. In a Web 2.0 world anything you create in support of your company must be easy for your customers, prospects and other interested parties to passy on to their own networks.• The video must be compelling. Even amateurs can create high-quality, highly engaging videos. Anything less won’t be passed along. Your “supporters” won’t pass along anything that could put their own reputation at risk.• Don’t forget keywords. Add a keyword to the video title when you upload it to the Web. Write a short paragrpah describing what’s in the video. This adds significantly more search engine content. Keywords are the trick.PR is one of the most effective and affordable ways to promote your company or build your brand This is especially true with online press release services that are available. Adding video can extend the reach of your PR efforts. Do you already have video assets that you can leverage as part of your PR efforts? If not, what can you do to change that? Look at the Velocity Skills Clinic content for some ideas. If you need assistance with crafting a compelling press release, review the 60 Minute Guide to Writing Your First Online Press Release from PRWeb.

Search Engine Optimization and Social Media – Is there a connection?

imageSocial media marketing is still very new, especially in a B2B context. We want to jump on the social media train, but struggle with determining the business value (this IS getting easier), we don’t know where or how to start etc. Social media does not necessarily replace the kind of marketing you do now. It can augment, support, and enhance your existing marketing efforts. The trick is finding the right synergies between what you do now and social media marketing elements. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an area that many of you have embraced already. You have a website and you are constantly working to find ways to drive more traffic. Can social media help you do this? My answer is “yes”. I would even go so far as to say that social media and SEO are inevitably linked and in the future …if not now… it will be impossible to separate the two. Where are the synergies between SEO and social media? Here’s what I see:Content — If you take nothing else away from this blog post, make sure you take note of the importance of content. In a Web 2.0 world content is king. Content on your site must be relevant to your target audience. Social media and SEO analytics can tell you what content is most important to your audience. This is data you can use to create content for your end customer. Content on your site needs to meaningful, relevant and useful. Great content is rewarded by search engine rankings. David Meerman Scott’s recent post “SEO and your crap filled site” candidly speaks to the importance of content. Links — In order to rank well in search engines, your site needs lots of relevant, trusted links from a variety of sources. Social media can help you build links to your site, ultimately increasing the flow of traffic to your site. Let’s assume you have a blog. You can submit your blog content to sites like Digg, Reddit, Technorati. If enough people find your content valuable, your link could “go viral” resulting in much more traffic to your site. Things to keep in mind: 1) If you have a blog or other social media content, make sure it is hosted on your own domain. Ultimately, you want to drive traffic to your own domain. 2) Always link to others. Link building is a two-way street Search Queries — Social media can create some increased “buzz” for you and helps to drive more people to search for your relevant keywords, building general awareness and exposing your brand, company, products, services etc, to a broader audience, ultimately increasing your site traffic. The links between SEO and social media are one example of ways that social media can supplement some of the marketing approaches you are already taking. My advice to you is look at your current marketing mix. Find the places where social media can logically support these efforts. Most importantly, be patient and keep trying.

Social Media Strategy – Start with Listening

imageThe more I think about it, the more I think listening is the foundation for a solid social media strategy. We can get all fired up about blogging, facebook pages, twitter etc., but if we don’t put a strategy behind our social media efforts and actions, then what can we reasonably hope to achieve?One of the key tenets of a Web 2.0 world is developing relationships with your customers and prospects. Being a good listener is key to every relationship in the real world and in the digital world. The beauty of a Web 2.0 world is transperancy. Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media tools make your customers and prospects extremely influential. Conversations, whether good or bad, can spread like wild fire. We know that customers are more likely to trust online reviews from peers than a company’s marketing messages (see my earlier blog post on Social Media and IT Decision Makers) According to a recent report by Forrester Research, more than 75% of the US is participating in social media in some way.21% = Creators — Publish blogs, web site, video etc.37% = Critics — Post product ratings, blog comments, contribute to online forums etc.19% = Collectors — Subscribe to RSS feeds, add tags to web sites, phots etc.35% = Joiners — Maintain profiles on or visit social networking sites69% = Spectators — Read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos from other user etc.25% = Inactive — Do none of the above.Suffice to say, there is a lot of information out there. Listening to these conversations can be invaluable in helping you determine your strategy — where can you add value, how can you enage, and ultimately where are the opportunities?Many companies monitor their brand within the digitial world to identify trends and check the competitive landscape. But there is so much more that can be done beyond brand monitoring… Positioning — What are people saying about your company, products etc? Is this in line with how you want to be perceived? Do you need to adjust your messaging and competitive differentiation?Sentiment Analysis — Tracking sentiment changes in online conversations overtime can be a key performance indicator. This tells you how people feel about your company, products and services. As you evolve your business, sentiment analysis can help ensure that your customer base remains satisfied.Customer Segmentation — Customer segmentation analysis can help you find disgrunteled customers of your competition that you can convert, identify groups that your competitor does not have a strong foothold in, identify advocates within the digital community that can influence others and at a basic level interact with positive customers.So how can you listen? There are many companies that have solutions for brand monitoring and analytics — basically listening to conversations/comments relevant to your business online and in some case offline. These companies include Nielsen-Online, Dow Jones Insight, Visible Technologies, TNS Cymfony, and more.Many of us may not be ready to commit to a firm social media strategy and/or to one of these third party solutions. If that’s the case, there is much that can be done with “guerilla” tactics. Chris Brogan’s blog post — Grow Bigger Ears in 10 Minutes gives you a step by step on how to use social media tools to listen as part of your business communications strategy. Check it out. It’s worth the read.