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Build your email list

August 8, 2018

emailIf you’ve been following along, we’ve been talking about some marketing resolutions to help you get a jumpstart on your 2019 marketing plan – email, reviews, video, etc. Over the next few posts, I’m going to tackle these suggested resolutions one by one and help you map out how you can crush each one in 2019.

In case you missed it, the resolutions were:

  • Build your email list
  • Work on earning great reviews
  • Produce more videos/build a YouTube channel
  • Do less but do it better

Today we’re going to tackle building your email list. Having a strong email list is vital for your business. It’s an asset that you own, and you control. Very few platforms convert more consistently and continuously than effective email campaigns.

Email allows you to target sub-sections of your list, be personal in your delivery and really take advantage of the one to one medium. But before you can take full advantage of your email list – you need to have one.

Make your content something they actually look forward to receiving. While that seems obvious, very few organizations deliver on it consistently. Your content can’t be about you, your team, your special sale or some award you’ve just won. It has to contain ideas or resources that they can learn from, use or share.

Offer different types of subscriptions. Create different resources for different audiences. Help them self-select what insights would be most valuable to them and serve it without the content they don’t care about. You might also offer a variety of frequencies. One person may prefer a monthly communication while another would rather get it in bite-sized pieces every week.

Create free tools, resources or guides that you can trade for email addresses. The key to this strategy is that there has to be a lot of meat on the bone. You can’t earn your prospect’s trust if you skimp on this kind of content.

Create links to capture email addresses throughout your website. Don’t just count on your “sign up for our newsletter” button on your home page. Pepper opportunities for people to join your email list on a variety of pages. Serve up different offers based on each page’s subject matter.

Use other platforms to promote your content. Email may be one of the most effective platforms, but that doesn’t mean the other platforms should be ignored. When you’ve gone to the effort of creating something that is really noteworthy – share it out. Create a private Facebook group or Pinterest board to woo prospects to get a little closer. After they see that you’re focused on adding value to their world – invite them to partake in some of your gated content.

Don’t forget offline events and activities. While we live in a digital world, there’s still plenty of analog activity that allows you to connect with people and identify common interests and needs. As you work your way through networking events, trade shows, conferences and all the other places you bump into people you can help – make those connections. After you nurture those relationships, extend the invitation to join your list so they can get even more of your goodness.

Focus on the two parallel goals in terms of your list. Grow it in quantity and also grow it in terms of engagement. You want people to reply, share, and come to rely on your regular communications. Calendar your communications, so you stay consistent and invest the right amount of time and resources, so you are always serving up something worth getting excited about, from your audience’s perspective.

That’s step one to a very successful 2019.

Next, we’ll tackle the second resolution – getting reviews from your raving fans so you can attract more raving fans!

 

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Marketing Resolutions

August 1, 2018

resolutionsIf you’re like most people, you set some New Year’s resolutions back in January. I have no doubt that by now you’ve stopped smoking, swearing, overeating or showing up late to pick up your daughter at daycare.

Since you’ve mastered all of your personal resolutions, what about your professional ones? Maybe you’ve made some headway or even mastered a few of them by now but my guess is that most of them have gone by the wayside in the day to day chaos of marketing.  It’s never too early to start thinking about next year and as such, I’d like to spend the next couple of weeks getting a jumpstart on brainstorming what your resolutions for 2019 might be, by suggesting a handful for you to consider.

Build your email list: Most of us check our email before our feet touch the floor in the morning. Email is such an integral part of our life that we take it for granted. But your email list is one of the most valuable marketing assets you have. People are willing to give you their email because they believe you’ll send them content they find valuable. Do that on a consistent basis and you’ll earn their trust and eventually, some of them will invite you to earn their business.

In 2019 you need a game plan for securing more email addresses and delivering a higher level of content to that list on a regular basis. There are lots of ways you can get someone to happily give you their email address. Think bigger than the “sign up for our newsletter” box.

Work on earning great reviews: When you go to Amazon or Yelp or even when you search for a specific type of business – you notice the ratings and reviews, don’t you? It’s difficult to ignore them and it’s equally difficult not to be swayed by them. Reviews are playing a much bigger role in influencing the search engines as well as potential buyers’.

2019 should be the year that you actively solicit reviews from the customers who love you. Don’t leave it to chance. Create simple ways for them to tell the world that you’re a five-star business.

Produce more videos and build a YouTube channel for your organization: Videos are such a wonderful storytelling tool and you can’t ignore that in 2019. Whether you are teaching your prospects something, trying to influence them or entertain them – it’s hard to beat the multimedia appeal of video. Don’t be afraid to explore behind the scenes content and true brand journalism as you concept your next video series.

2019 is the year to get over your discomfort of the camera. Remember, you don’t have to be in front of the camera to create compelling video. There are many cost-effective ways to produce compelling videos that connect with your audience and give them a real sense of what your company is all about.

Do less but do it better: There are too just too many options out there. Snapchat, Facebook ads, billboards, referral programs, newsletters, print ads, etc. And that just scratches the surface. Even if you have the marketing budget of Coke, you can’t do it all. So rather than trying to dabble in everything, resolve to winnow down your marketing tactics so you can go a mile deep, rather than an inch deep and a mile wide.

Make 2019 the year that you actually eliminate some marketing tactics. Identify the ones that deliver the best ROI and do them more often and better. Explore ideas on how to expand the value you deliver through the tactics you decide to keep and work on elevating your game, rather than expanding your efforts.

Pick one or two of these and weave them into your marketing plan for the upcoming year. Leverage these trends and best practices as you map our your marketing strategy for the coming year. Do that and you’ll crush your 2019 sales and profit goals.

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Using call to action triggers to drive conversions

July 25, 2018

conversionsRecently, we reviewed some of the general best practices if you’re going to run Facebook ads. Now, I want to drill down a little deeper into one of the most critical tools you have to increase conversions – the call to action (CTA) trigger.

Bottom line – if your audience does not interact with your ad, you can’t convert them. You absolutely can and should use call to action buttons if that makes sense with your message. As you’re building your Facebook ad, the ad manager will give you pre-set buttons with a variety of options from contact us to download, learn more, sign up or request time.

I know it seems obvious but choose your CTA carefully. Match the offer with the button label, so people know exactly what’s at the other end of the click.

Don’t forget about calls to action that don’t require an actual call to action button. Your ad copy might invite the audience to click on the ad itself to take an action (give us your feedback, sign up for a free product, vote for a favorite, etc.) or to answer a question that you pose either in your graphic or text.

Another element of a successful Facebook ad campaign is social proof. Social proof is public, social engagement that other users can see. This includes likes or other reactions, comments, and shares of your ad. When someone sees your ad, they’ll also see who among their Facebook connections has already interacted with the ad. These small interactions can matter just as much, if not more, than the ad copy when it comes to gaining more conversions.

For most of us, if we see a Facebook ad with ten positive comments and a couple dozen likes, we’re much more likely to pay attention to the ad than if it had no reactions showing at all.

The power of consumer-generated reviews and reactions carry over to this channel as well. That’s why, according to a study by KISSmetrics, Facebook ads with some sort of social proof had 300% more conversions, and 50% lower clicks per actions and cost per clicks.

In addition, social proof has an additional, less obvious, benefit. Social engagement boosts your relevance score, which gives you a higher priority in the ad bidding system. It’s a great way to lower your ad costs.

Once the campaign is launched, the best way you can improve the performance of the campaign is to keep an eye on the metrics. One of the most under-utilized is the Relevance Score.

The Relevance Score is a calculated metric that monitors how your audience is reacting to a particular ad. The scores can go from 1 to 10, depending on the positive and negative feedback your ads receive. If your score is below a 5, you should do some testing to see if it’s your audience, the message or the visual that is causing the disconnect.

Choosing when your ads appear (based on your audience’s time zone) is another way to increase success. By watching which times of day perform the best, you can adjust your campaign to increase conversions and reduce your cost per lead.

If you’re running ads to build brand awareness or some other top of the funnel activity, then you aren’t measuring success by conversions, and this may be less important to your campaign.

But in most cases, you’re running Facebook ads because you’re trying to drive an action of some kind. You want to give yourself every advantage you can and how you entice the audience to click on your ad is the most important step.

 

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Put your best Facebook forward

July 18, 2018

FacebookWith over two billion monthly active users, it’s clear that Facebook is a vibrant marketplace. Whether you only serve clients who live within a couple of miles of your brick and mortar location or you can sell to anyone on the globe – Facebook is a viable advertising option that you should consider in your marketing plan and budget.

Beyond the sheer size and engagement level of the audience, one of the most appealing features of Facebook advertising campaigns is the ability to create a custom target audience. With the Facebook Custom Audience Tool, you can upload a list of contacts (emails, phone numbers, etc.) and create a lookalike audience that will allow you to target others who fit the same profile.

Don’t have a list? No worries. You can segment your target audience by elements like zip code, interests, demographic information or a combination of them.

The ability to hyper-target to a finite audience also allows you to manage your budget more effectively. There’s very little waste when you do it well. Every ad is going to be seen by the audience you want to reach.

Before you start to create your ad campaign, you need to decide how success is defined. Do you just want to put your business on the audience’s radar screen? Do you want them to click on the ad to get more information? Do you want to drive them to a landing page where you could offer them a digital asset (ebook, audio file, checklist, etc.) in exchange for their email address?

Once you’ve decided on the desired outcome, you need to follow some best practices to help you get there.

Remember that the ads will be appearing on Facebook and Instagram, mingled with your audience’s newsfeed. You want your ads to be a part of their social stream, so pick visuals that are personal and engaging. Make sure your photos are crisp and a high enough resolution that it creates the right impression.

You can use a combination of photos, text, videos, sounds, and a slideshow to create your ads. Like any advertising channel, your success is going to depend on your ability to capture your audience’s attention.

Think about your own social network habits. We scroll through the news feed pretty quickly. Your headline needs to grab their attention, and you don’t want to create a blur of text. Focus your message on the essentials and remember, the ad’s job is to get the viewer to click to learn more. You don’t have to tell them every detail within the ad.

Video ads are quickly becoming one of the most popular ad formats on Facebook. Over 100 million hours of video is consumed on Facebook every day. Remember the 2015 ALS ice bucket challenge? That’s what the experts point to as the tipping point for social video. It’s only going to become more mainstream and popular.

One fact you need to keep in mind as you build out your video ad campaigns. You should upload and host your videos on Facebook as opposed to using a video that you’ve uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo or any other platform. According to a study by Search Engine Journal, Facebook favors native video uploads, and those videos reach at least twice as many people and because of that additional exposure, will earn more likes, shares, and comments.

Next time, we’ll dive a little deeper into some more nuanced best practices so that every dollar you spend on Facebook yields the results you want. In the meantime, start paying attention to the ads that catch your eye and how you interact with them as a consumer.

 

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Could marketing be a revenue source?

July 11, 2018

revenuePreviously, I told you about the book, Killing Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. Their premise is that marketing has evolved to the stage where it needs to be completely re-invented, and we need to think of our organization’s marketing departments as media companies, that is to say, as a revenue source.

On the surface, it sounds like quite the stretch.

The book quotes Peter Drucker who said: “the purpose of marketing is to create and keep a customer.” In this case, the authors are emphasizing the word create. They believe that marketing has moved from just persuading someone who is already interested in buying what you sell to literally creating the audience in the first place, via your own generated media.

This is where the book risks losing readers. If you run an architectural firm or serve your clients by moving their goods across the country in your truck, the idea of launching a magazine or creating a YouTube show probably holds very little appeal. But when you start considering the broadest definition of media, it gets a little more interesting and might be better aligned with what you are already doing.

The big shift in thinking here is that rather than marketing to sell a product, you market to create an audience. Once you understand that audience and earn their trust, you can monetize that relationship by knowing exactly what they need/want, offering it to them and build revenue in the process.

Instead of saying, “I want to talk about stuff we sell, and hopefully that will catch the attention of people who might want to buy our stuff” you could say, “I will talk about the topics and issues that matter to the people who typically buy our stuff. After we’ve earned their trust and continued attention, it will be easier to sell our stuff to them.”

The truth is – we’ve all been consumers of this sort of strategy. Walt Disney launched his empire by creating cartoons and movies. He then moved into TV. From there, he started creating products and experiences to serve the audience he created.

It would be easy to dismiss this idea as being reasonable for consumer-focused companies but not for the business-to-business model. But it actually works even better for the B2B organization because your audience is naturally more defined and niched.

By now you’re probably wondering what kind of media are we talking about? Here’s a partial list.

  • A content-rich website that provides information and opinion pieces
  • A forum or message board/group chat engages your core audience
  • A weekly podcast or YouTube video
  • Monthly educational webinars
  • Regional events to create networking and learning opportunities
  • A national event with speakers and CEU courses
  • Research (you can sell the report/results) that informs your business decisions and offers insight to your audience

That list is daunting, isn’t it? It looks expensive from both a money and time resources perspective. How does that become a revenue stream rather than an ever-growing drain on your company’s budget?

  • Sell sponsorships and advertising spots on many of the items above
  • Charge a fee for the events and courses you offer
  • Create premium content that you put behind a payment firewall
  • Sell subscriptions for access to ongoing research or other media
  • Build/rent out your mailing list to other companies who are interested in the same audience

I’m barely scratching the surface of what’s possible. I don’t believe this is an all or nothing strategy. Every business could bake some of this thinking into their marketing, or should we say revenue plan. It’s an interesting premise and just imagine what you could do if your marketing was self-funding!

 

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AI’S emerging role in harvesting and connecting disparate data to improve customer engagement

July 9, 2018

Whether you’re an executive at the source of product supply, in the engine room of shopper attraction, or at the point of commercial transaction, AI-enriched data analysis has now become an essential to customer engagement success.  
 
Yet, one in four marketing, commerce and supply chain leaders admit that there is simply not enough time, budget or patience to unlock all of data’s potential, notes a new report from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and IBM Watson Customer Engagement. The milestone study entitled, “Doing More with Data: Discovering Data-Accelerated Revenue Traction”, was released today. 
 
 
This turn to AI is not surprising considering the issues across data accessibility and quality that plague the organization’s ability to do much more with the data being amassed across systems. Thirty-seven percent of all executives surveyed feel that the current state of data accessibility is “hit or miss” at best, limited by selective connections across functions, systems and platforms. Once data is accessed, executives are further pressed to identify usable data as 39 percent of executives admit that data is often incomplete or only partially integrated across systems.
 
Among the top data issues executives highlight in the study:
  • 68 percent of leaders admit that second and third party data is only partially or barely integrated into current data systems, providing an incomplete view of a connected customer’s relationship with a product or brand
  • Dark data, defined for this study as unstructured, untagged and untapped data that has typically not been analyzed or processed, has frustrated stakeholders who are struggling to turn this data into actionable intelligence. Some 36 percent of respondents have yet to even tackle the issue of dark data while 30 percent admit that this valuable yet inaccessible data has emphasized how much the organization collects…but how little it actually uses.
  • Instead of streamlining operations, data has forced teams to spend massive amounts of time managing, manipulating or manually exporting and importing spreadsheets and reports. Other operational black holes of mundane tasks include content management and tagging (a time drain for 66 percent of respondents), journey mapping (41 percent) and forecasting (56 percent)
 “The question is not if data is important for any organization with customers…it is if the ability to do more with that data will mean the difference between engagement, profitability and success,” noted Liz Miller, SVP of Marketing at the CMO Council. “Each of the functions we surveyed have their own lens that colors and enhances their view into the organization’s data: Marketing, Supply Chain and Commerce will all interpret the subtle shadows and light differently, but in the end, they need to be looking at the same picture.”
 
While the disparate state of data has revealed gaps in both talent and technology, it is actually third “T” that has been most elusive: Time. Some 45 percent say that there are just not enough hours in the day to address all the transformation projects that are needed to activate data. But this is the exact issue that many executives hope new tools like AI can address and resolve, leveraging tools to ingest, analyze and recommend action in real-time, regardless of platform channel or functional owner.
 
Data for the study was compiled through an online survey in the second quarter of 2018. 
The 107 page full report, now available by visiting https://www.cmocouncil.org/thought-leadership/reports/doing-more-with-data includes a key summary of findings, including analysis of differences in reaction and perception across marketing, commerce and supply chain executives, in-depth best practice interviews with leaders from brands including Nordstrom, Lamps Plus, REI, Ryder, The Body Shop, AT&T, TD Bank and more. 
 
To learn more bout The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council visit their website here.
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Is marketing dead?

July 3, 2018

 

I just finished a fascinating book, Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses are Turning Marketing Cost into Profit, by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. Joe and Robert are the creators of the mega-conference Content Marketing World, and Joe has written other books like Content Inc, Epic Content Marketing, and Managing Content Marketing.

Catching a theme?

The core message of their book is acknowledging that the marketing world, as we have known it since the dawn of the big three (print, radio, and TV), is our past and that marketing doesn’t have to be just a cost center anymore. When done well – brands can actually create a profit center from their marketing efforts. Instead of your marketing requiring additional financial resources – what if it generated new dollars? We’ve all heard the idea that brands should become media companies. You may not want to take your company quite that far. But wouldn’t you like to make money with your marketing efforts?

Let’s take a step back before we look at the future. Traditional marketing has been primarily advertising – the renting of space on someone else’s channel to earn attention, brand awareness and alter the consumer’s behavior. Even PR falls under that description. Instead of buying an ad, the brand or their agency would pitch their story to the editorial side of the advertising channels. Their goal was to have a story written about them or their offerings that would create the same results as paid advertising would have generated.

Along came the Internet and suddenly consumers found their voice. Until that shift, they’d been our silent audience. But as it became easier to share opinions on message boards, forums, social media channels, websites and review outlets, they got louder and louder.

Initially, as a defensive mechanism, brands began using the Internet too – creating content to fight for search engine position and to balance the consumers’ voice. But the brands discovered what probably seems to you as a very simple marketing truth – that when the brands provided valuable content and helpful information, the consumers would create a connection and magnify the brand’s reach by sharing the content and inviting others in.

On a mega-level, this is what Johnson & Johnson has done with BabyCenter.com. What started as a simple extension of their core website, it now reaches more than 45 million parents a month across the globe and offers their content in nine different languages. Eight of every ten U.S. mothers use BabyCenter.com.

Odds are your goals aren’t quite so lofty. Which is awesome because that means you can replicate your version of the results faster and with a smaller level of investment. The Internet and digital content have leveled the playing field. It’s why small brands like BigPoppaSmokers.com have crushed their competition, stolen the market share of much bigger companies and have created a brand that garners incredible amplification of their value from the consumers who love them.

The book isn’t suggesting that you abandon your core business model and become an organization that generates revenue the way a traditional media company does. Nor is it suggesting that you should abandon your paid and earned media efforts. For most organizations, there will always be a benefit to those channels.

But what the authors are suggesting is that businesses today also need a profit-generating, owned media strategy that will give you an unfair competitive advantage.

Next week, we’ll explore some of the suggestions the book offers that seem reasonable for small to mid-sized organizations to experiment with as they build out a marketing strategy and budget. Based on the book, you just may want to shift some of your dollars to some new avenues.

 

 

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Marketing automation doesn’t mean autopilot

June 27, 2018

marketing automationMarketing automation is nothing new, but it is enjoying a renewed focus in conversations about how to stay connected to your prospects and customers. As brands get better about creating content and understanding that our potential customers watch and interact with us for a long time before they’re ready to buy – we have to be prepared to stay in touch in a meaningful, useful way for a lot longer than just the active sales cycle.

Just to make sure we’re all talking apples to apples — marketing automation is the tactic of using software to automate repetitive marketing actions like emails, enewsletters, responses to web inquiries, social media, and other website-driven actions.

We’re all the recipient of marketing automation every day. When we download a checklist off of someone’s website and over time, we start receiving emails related to that topic – that’s marketing automation. When we take a quiz and then are directed to a landing page where we can learn more about our results/possible solutions – that’s marketing automation. When we get a shipping update email in real time – that’s marketing automation. When we sign up for an email-based course, you guessed it. That’s marketing automation.

If you’re a B2B company, don’t think this is only a consumer-facing tool. In fact, it’s the B2B marketers that are really leveraging all of the nuances of this tool.

As you’ve heard me preach many times before – it’s about having the right strategy. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that once you pick the right tool, you’re all set.

Marketing automation is most often used as a lead generation tactic, and it’s a very good one. But it can also serve your current customers from a customer service point of view. Your clients often feel silence after the sale. You chased and wooed them before they bought but after the transaction, they sometimes get less attention. Marketing automation is a way to make sure that never happens.

A sizable part of the marketing process can be automated. Yet many companies and marketers tend to focus on specific tools or features they’re missing rather than on how their marketing automation platforms fit within their marketing strategies.

Today, only 10% of marketers are confident in their ability to execute comprehensive marketing automation programs as part of a larger marketing strategy, according to a recent a Forrester study. That’s not because they picked the wrong software; it’s because of the strategy. A sound marketing strategy should be anchored by clear goals. Those could include thought leadership, lead generation, gaining website traffic or something else. Without establishing these goals, you won’t be able to get anywhere — even with the best marketing automation software.

Remember that marketing automation isn’t a tactic in and of itself. It’s a mechanism to help you amplify the effectiveness of your marketing tactics, and you should be clear about what those tactics are. Are you going to be sending out newsletters or an email nurture campaign, or are you going to focus on collecting inbound leads by providing access to gated content? Be clear from the beginning, because all of your subsequent decisions will be based on maximizing these tactics.

Once you sort out all of that, you’re finally ready to find the right tool. But don’t even start looking until you’ve thought through how you want to use it.

If you implement marketing automation correctly, you can expect to see positive results relatively quickly. Don’t rush into it, though, especially if you don’t have any previous marketing automation experience. Take the time to build a sound strategy, and then invest the time and resources to really learn the platform you invest in. The results will follow if you stick with it.

 

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How engaged are you in digital?

June 20, 2018

digitalIt’s hard to imagine there is an active business today that doesn’t have some level of digital connection and engagement. But the truth is that how business leaders define engagement and the level in which they invest (time, money, staff, etc.) in that engagement is an incredibly wide range.

Deloitte released a study for Connected Small Business US, which was commissioned by Google to explore the levels of digital engagement among small businesses (250 or fewer employees) and the impact of each level.

The study determined that there were general levels:

  • Basic (no website/no social media presence)
  • Intermediate (simple website/basic digital marketing)
  • High (advanced, mobile-ready website/multiple social channels)
  • Advanced (use of data analytics/mobile apps)

As the researchers reviewed the activity level and the outcomes that aligned with each of the four levels of engagement, they came to some very interesting conclusions.

Digital engagement increases revenue. Seventy-seven percent of businesses in the advanced category reported expecting revenue growth over the next year—almost double the percentage of businesses in the most basic engagement level. The reason the advanced level businesses were confident in the potential of growth is because forty-five percent of them had already experienced revenue growth over the past year, compared to only twelve percent of businesses identified as having a basic digital engagement. Thirty-two percent of the organizations in the high category reported revenue growth.

Digital engagement increases employment needs. When a business experiences increased revenue, it only makes sense that they’d need a larger workforce. So no surprise, the category of companies that reported larger percentages of revenue growth (high and advanced) also reported an increase in employment growth. The research also pointed out that people employed by a digitally savvy company “tend to be relatively more productive, with the average revenue per employee at digitally advanced businesses being two times as high as small businesses with a basic level of engagement.”

Digital engagement creates new products and services. Over the past twelve months, businesses at the basic level had less than a ten percent chance of introducing a new product or service. On the flip side, almost seventy percent of the most digitally advanced companies reported did. New channels mean new opportunities, and if you’re not there, you can’t take advantage of them.

So what does this mean for your business? It means that maintaining just the “table stakes” level of digital engagement is costing you opportunity, market share, and money. If you are at that level, which was defined as just having a simple website and not really using effective email marketing, social media or exploring the data that these tools can give you, you need to recognize the consequences. This should not come as a surprise to you but perhaps the outcomes that this study points to can serve as the wake-up call to drive you to explore how your business can step further into the digital realm.

This study emphasizes what common sense has told us for some time. The way we do business has changed. The expectations that the marketplace has for us have changed. We may be the only element that hasn’t yet changed.

For every business, whether you only serve a local audience or an international customer base, embracing digital strategies is a business must. Tools like marketing automation, social media, mobile readiness, and letting the data help you determine what your prospects are interested in and what you can offer to encourage trial and conversion is more business survival than anything else. Today, as the research clearly demonstrates, businesses that ignore that truth are simply behind in revenue, growth, and innovation. But pretty soon, without making some changes, they may just not exist anymore.

 

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Where do AI and marketing collide?

June 13, 2018

AIAI or artificial intelligence is, at its simplest definition, when a computer is capable of mimicking human intelligence and making decisions/taking action based on that intelligence.

We’ve been slowly evolving to AI being pretty commonplace for years. I’m not talking robot uprising. I’m really talking about tools that help us analyze data and choices to predict best outcomes. Odds are, you are taking advantage of AI today and just didn’t label it as such. The iPhone’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are simple examples of AI. Both use machine learning technology to get smarter based on our choices and actions so they can serve our needs better with each interaction.

There’s no doubt, given all of the consumer data we have at our disposal today, that AI and marketing will merge in some pretty interesting ways. Granted, we’re talking infancy stages, but the truth is you are probably using it today without recognizing it.

Here’s a quick look at some of the elements of our work where AI is already present and will have an even bigger influence down the road.

Digital media: Given the almost infinite number of advertising options and the advent of programmatic media buying it’s easy to see how computer calculations and propensity modeling would save us time, remove the human bias and deliver projected outcomes. Results can be tracked, modeled, modified and improved upon in nanoseconds, as opposed to how long it would take us to do it manually.

Retargeting and ad targeting are two areas where AI is already playing a pivotal role and is getting better every day.

Content: As a writer, I will admit that I bristle at this idea. How can a computer possibly write as well as a human being? In many cases (at least for now) it can’t. A computer can’t generate copy that connects the emotional dots, but it can generate a report or content around factual dots. Check out Wordsmith.com and watch how they can take information like an earnings report or sporting outcomes and create very human-like copy.

There’s also the area of content creation. Can a computer watch what people view and buy and then use data to know what that consumer should be shown next? Amazon, Netflix, and Pandora are already showing us how effective this is. Why wouldn’t you want the same AI to be working on your website or other digital assets?

Who is your next buyer? This is a fascinating and sophisticated aspect of AI and marketing that many organizations have yet to explore. By using propensity modeling, predictive analysis can give you insight into who is ready to move from consideration to purchase and which of your existing customers is most likely to buy. It will also give you an idea of what kinds of offers (products, discounts, etc.) are most likely going to trigger that purchase decision.

From there, it’s an easy jump to dynamic pricing. AI would help you determine who needs a discounted price to convert and who is ready to buy without you having to give up part of your margin.

Earlier in the sales cycle, AI can help with lead scoring. The idea that a computer can sort through our prospect list and tell us where to concentrate our efforts is very appealing.

There are many industries and professions who are probably right to be a little nervous about AI. But for us marketers – AI is poised to be a huge advantage in how we work. It has the capability to help us measure and deliver ROI in a very efficient way, which allows us to spend even more time on the creativity and innovation sides of our business. Because in those spaces, we are irreplaceable.

 

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