Tag Archives: Marketing

33 Tools Every Startup Marketer Needs

I’ve spent the last twelve years working in (or as) the marketing department at start ups. In fact, every job I’ve had has been at a start up. Marketing for start ups is a lot different than big brand marketing. For one, the budgets are much, much smaller, and often nonexistent. And you’re laser focused on customer acquisition, there’s no time or money for branding exercises. Because of those start up marketing truths, these tools are focused on getting the most bang for the buck and driving real marketing results for the business.

Over the years I’ve compiled a list of tools that are must haves for marketers who are trying to get marketing up and running for brand new businesses. This is not every tool, these are not the most expensive or a list of free tools, these are the ones that I’ve found help me get a marketing department off the ground. Here are my top 33 tools that every marketer needs to run a successful marketing department at a start up.

33 Tools Every Startup Marketer Needs

Google Analytics – Start here. The best, free analytics package there is. If you configure your goals and segments properly you’ll be off to the races with web analytics. The second you launch your website, install this tracking code. If you’re selling anything on your site configure it to capture ecommerce information. That will let you get important information such as, oh you know, revenue, average order size, revenue per visitor by traffic source, all that good stuff.

Google Analytics

Basecamp – There’s one thing that’s consistent across every start up I’ve been at: everything moves at a lightning pace. Having projects, files, timelines, and to-dos in one place is critical in a start up environment. I love basecamp for marketing teams because it’s lighter weight than something more robust like JIRA but far better than trying to stay organized by email. Works just as well with two people or twenty and will help you keep on top of everything you’ve got going.

Basecamp

Campfire – Communication is everything at a start up. Campfire is a great way to keep everyone in the loop with a browser-based group chat. Teams can bat ideas around, share comps and other files via the chat room and have an opportunity to weigh in on important projects and initiatives that the team is working on. With Campfire the likelihood that someone feels out of the loop drops significantly.

Skype – If you’ve got a remote team, Skype video chat is the secret sauce to keeping everyone on the same page and connected to the team. Video chats are a quick easy way to get in synch and keep that all-important chemistry that will keep the team moving forward.

Google Apps – Save yourself the headache and costs of a Microsoft Exchange setup. Convince your IT team that they would be better focused building the product and not dealing with desktop support and networking. Google Apps: mail, docs, sites, chat and Google Plus are all incredible productivity tools that can keep the team focused on building what matters and not dealing with the nonsense of desktop support.

Dropbox – Skip FTP for moving big PowerPoints and marketing files around and use Dropbox, plus you’ll save your inbox storage for all the mail you’ll generate. It’s great for sharing comps, files, storing assets and synching important documents. Your team can start with free plans and upgrade to a Team plan when you’re ready and need the space.

Dropbox

A DSLR – Whether it’s the Canon or a Nikon, grab a DSLR and learn how to shoot decent shots of your company, product, customers and events. Bonus if it takes HD video too. If you’re going to leverage social marketing to power your business you’ll need content. And people love photos, lots of photos, and video. From shots of the hackathon to video of the product launch and everything in between, having great photos and video can make for engaging content that connects your customers to your company and has them rooting for your team from the beginning.

KISS Metrics – Google Analytics is great, but it doesn’t give you two important things: cohort analysis and user-level funnel metrics. KISS Metrics provides you with detailed funnel construction and page-by-page analysis for cohorts of users and at the user level to see how people are moving through your website. You can see where drop-offs occur and find opportunities to improve your conversion.

Crazy Egg – How is your website performing? Are people seeing the content you want them to? Are the calls to action getting the attention they need? With Crazy Egg you can see what your users are clicking on and how far they’re scrolling down the page. By using Crazy Egg you can see if you have page elements that are being ignored or navigation that is leading people astray. It’s a great visualization tool that you can leverage to up your conversion and improve the user experience on your site.

Crazy Egg

Optimizely – With a single line of JavaScript, Optimizely lets you run and deploy A/B testing on your site in a snap. If you’re running marketing for a start up, one thing is certain, you don’t really know what your customers want. From headline copy, to button color, to page layout and more, Optimizely lets you collect the data and find the best combinations to drive conversion. And, you can deploy it on any page — landing pages, home page, product pages and in the conversion funnel, you can learn and optimize with Optimizely.

Optimizely

 

Facebook Power Editor – Facebook ads are cheap, plentiful and provide a quick and easy way to test your start up’s value propositions, messaging and offers. But how do you do all that testing? Facebook Power Editor. A Chrome extension, it lets you upload ad variants via Microsoft Excel so you can test hundreds of versions of ads in hundreds of different targeting configurations. With a monthly spend of just $1,500 you can leverage Power Editor and put its functionality to work in helping you find what really resonates with who.

Google Adwords – Another great tool for start up marketers. Even if paid advertising isn’t part of your early plan (i.e. you’re hoping press and social word of mouth drive the business) AdWords is a great testing ground, just like Facebook ads. You can test messages, value propositions and calls to action to see what resonates. If you find a particular message or ad unit that converts at a higher click through rate you can take that winning message, value prop or call to action and test it in a broader setting across your site.

MailChimp – There are dozens and dozens of email service providers (ESPs) out there. But MailChimp’s dead-simple user interface and affordable pricing makes it a no-brainer for startups. Plus A/B testing, autoresponder capability, API integration and more, MailChimp can grow as your business grows. Plus the Chimp? Adorbs.

Mail Chimp

WordPress – You’ll need a website and there’s a good chance that you’ll want a blog to keep people up-to-date with what you’re working on. WordPress is a great first step to get your marketing website and/or blog out there. Obviously, if you’re building a consumer facing web product, then you’ll be launching you’re own site based on whatever tech the product is built on; but when you need to get a blog or marketing site up in a hurry, WordPress is a perfect tool to get the job done.

Adobe Photoshop – As a marketer in a startup it’s likely that you’ll be doing not only the marketing, but you’ll be kicking in to support the design team, and if you’re building a product, you may have to fend for yourself creating marketing materials so the designers can focus on the product. Photoshop can help you crank out things like landing pages, email marketing templates, production graphics, ad units and more. The more you can roll your own graphic needs the more you can get done while letting the designers do their thing on the product side.

Final Cut Pro X – If you’re launching a new or novel web service, mobile app or something else brand new, it’s likely you’ll need an explainer video. Video is a great way to demo a product, capture interest, generate press and drive new users. Of course you can pay for it; or you can shoot it and make it yourself. Plus tutorials, how-tos, customer testimonials, demos and more all look better on video. If video is going to be a key part of your marketing strategy you’ll want to be able to polish it up quickly and easily. Final Cut Pro X will give you everything you need for just $299.

Final Cut Pro

Google Alerts – You’ll want to keep an eye on any press, blog or comments mentioning your new venture. Set up a free Google Alert with your brand name and any variations that may exist (e.g. a space between two words in your name, even if you write them together). Extra points for setting up alerts for the founder names and competition to keep a better picture of what’s going on with your brand and in your space.

TweetDeck, HootSuite – Google Alerts can’t monitor everything, and if social marketing is going to be a key component of your marketing, then a more powerful Twitter monitoring and management tool will be handy. I love having a separate monitor setup with HootSuite to keep an eye on people talking to the company, answering customer support, engaging in conversations relevant to the brand and more. TweetDeck is a bit limited in its new release, but HootSuite is just one of many full-featured Twitter clients that can be an important way for marketers to stay connected on the platform.

SEOMoz Pro – SEOMoz Pro is the secret weapon for many online marketers. It’s packed with useful tools and information. You’ll get search monitoring tools to measure your organic keyword traffic, social measurement tools to see how effective your social programs are, and tons and tons of education on how you can build visibility for your company with search engine optimization and social marketing.

SEOMoz

Hacker News – Simply the best news source for the latest and greatest in the technology space. If your company is in the startup world, you just can’t afford to not read it every day.

Inbound.org – Like a Hacker News for online marketing full of great insight on search engine optimization, social marketing, conversion rate optimization, online testing and lots more. If you’re looking to get educated on the latest in online marketing, Inbound.org is a great place to start.

Inbound.org

Verify – Sitting around a table arguing about design is healthy, up to a point. Then it’s better to get the design out there and see if anyone outside the building really likes it or not. That’s where VerifyApp comes in. You can put up a page, email, add, or mobile app comp and ask Verify users to choose a favorite between two designs, recount what they remember after seeing your landing page and more.

Verify

Bit.ly Pro – If you’re using social media marketing there’s no better way to track clicks then to push all of your links through bit.ly Pro. It’s a great way to get analytics on what was clicked and what wasn’t so you can see which content has the most interest to the social audience.

Litmus – Litmus is an email marketer’s dream. It lets you send test emails to a single email address and then Litmus renders them in each of the main email clients. You can even select which clients to include in your test. It’s brilliant for ensuring that your email looks great in the email clients that matter to you, in the browsers that your users use. See an email in Gmail in FireFox, Chrome and IE. See how it renders on the iPhone. Busted HTML email is amateur hour — make sure it looks good before you send it.

Balsamiq Mockups – Wireframes aren’t just for the UX designers any more. Marketers should know how to use and communicate with wireframes. Need a landing page? You should be able to wireframe out one to use as conversation starter or requirement with your designer. Need a Facebook tab, a pricing page, or a blog? Pick up the tools and learn to do it yourself, it will go a long way toward saving time and giving your designers and devs more information on how to approach a marketing project. Balsamiq is great because it’s easy and because the wireframes looked sketched, which makes people feel like they aren’t as formalized, yet they still communicate your requirements.

Balsamiq Mockups

Survey Monkey – There’s no better way to learn about what’s working that to talk with your customers. Regular surveying is a must. Survey Monkey is a cheap and effective way to survey your customers. You can create surveys quickly and easily and go as long or as short as you like. If you’re not surveying your customers you’re doing it wrong.

Unbounce – If your design team is too busy on the product to worry about marketing projects then you might want to consider Unbounce. Unbounce lets you create great landing pages on the fly. If you know some HTML and some CSS you can crank out some great looking landing pages without having to get sprint points to get them done. Win!

ReTargeter – Personally, I think display advertising is for suckers in a startup, but if you’re going to do any display ads, they should be retargeted ads. ReTargeter and Google ReTargeting ad programs let you target display ads back to people who have been to your site. It’s a great way to appear bigger than you are, and to remind your previous visitor to come back soon.

Retargeter

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+  – I can’t write about all of the social networks, but obviously if you’re a startup you’ll take all the free marketing you can get. I’m not going to go into detail on these, because there are literally hundreds of books on the subject. Hundreds. My recommended books post is coming up after this.

Salesforce – Whether it’s Salesforce or some other CRM, it’s helpful to have a database of prospects that are tied to marketing campaigns that allow you to follow up with, measure effectiveness and see progress tracked back. Especially good for marketing teams that need to support sales staffs and for product sales that have a long sales cycle, such as B2B sales. Without CRM you’re under performing in the sales department, guaranteed.

Join.me – Need to share a screen with a potential prospect or business partner? Join.me makes it dead simple. Just send them the join.me link and they’ll see your screen in real time. Great for marketing folks who have to support business development efforts with product marketing and/or training. Also great for demoing press and bloggers who you can’t meet in person.

join.me

ZenDesk – Say it with me, customer service is marketing. Great customer service can lead to excellent word of mouth, which leads to more business for you. You know this, I know this; but if customer service doesn’t fall in your domain you need to champion for a help desk solution for your customer service team to ensure that your marketing effort is focused on growing the business, not fighting fires from unhappy customers.

OLark – If you’re trying to sell something online, there’s no better tool than live chat. It’s great for answering questions and giving users the confidence they need to make a purchase. It’s also a great way to learn about what visitors questions and fears are before buying from you. It’s marketing gold, because you can turn that feedback into content and design that addresses those concerns and converts more visitors to customers.

olark

So there you have it. Some of my favorite tools for startup marketers. They represent a strong set of technologies that can help you get any marketing department off the ground and run it for the beginning stages of the company. These tools work for a company of just 3 or 4 people and scale upwards of 100 (and beyond in many cases). Sure, there will be some that are overkill in the beginning, so wait on those, and there will be those that won’t scale with the organization, so just graduate from them when it’s right; but in all I’ve found these tools invaluable in the startup environments I’ve been in. As a marketer, you’re doing everything from customer acquisition, to email marketing, to social, to supporting customer service and business development, to product marketing and more. With these tools you’ll be able to do your job better and help your startup grow.

I know there are hundreds of tools out there, which ones did I miss that you’d add to the list? Share with me in the comments.

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Something Like a Pinomenon – How Pinterest Drives Real Business

You’ve probably read just about enough about Pinterest. There are plenty of articles on how it’s the next, big thing for brands and marketers, yadda, yadda. But what does it really mean for businesses? In short, depending on the business, it’s a phenomenon. I have the opportunity to consult on the product and marketing at DesignPublic.com, and my fiancee, Erika, runs social marketing and PR for the company. Design Public sells modern furniture and accessories, and we’ve seen first-hand the power of the Pinterest effect. So let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

Pinterest is Design Public’s No. 1 Referring Site

While it’s not the biggest traffic driver for Design Public (organic search and direct visits are the lead dogs), Pinterest has quickly become the number one referring site for traffic. And it’s charged up the list in a hurry.

In October, Pinterest sent 634 visits, putting it 10x behind the number one referring site that month, uncrate.com.

pinterest traffic in october

In January? It’s was first, and by a long shot. It grew nearly 5x in total traffic to the site. It was 30.4% higher than the number two referrer, ApartmentTherapy.com. And for some background, Apartment Therapy has been our top referrer for a very, very long time.

pinterest traffic in january

Pinterest is No. 3 in Revenue from Referring Sites

For the month of January Pinterest was number three in terms of revenue from referring sites (excluding the weird mail referrer here). So while people are browsing and pinning, they’re definitely buying too. We see bounce rates that are higher than other traffic sources, but 25-40% lower than paid advertising sources. People get sucked in and keep browsing our site – eventually buying.

What’d Design Public Do to Drive Pinterest Traffic?

1) Erika began curating boards. The Design Public Pinterest account has a collection of boards across a wide range of design-minded topics. And it’s not just all products. Erika is actively participating in the community and re-pinning and sharing other finds. While she does pin Design Public items it is just a part of her efforts to build brand awareness for Design Public on Pinterest. Pinterest has been a great outlet for reintroducing the brand.

2) Add the Pin It button early to product pages, which gives us a two-fold benefit. One, it lets people pin products from the site with a good-looking product shot and description that includes the Design Public name/URL. Two, it provides social proof to shoppers, helping them make decisions about items on the site.

3)  The entire team is involved in pinning. Design Public has amazing merchandisers and people who have a great design eye. They’re just as addicted as everyone else, and as a company we all try to pin our favorite stuff as it comes in. Then we share what gets repinned and look for ways to leverage that information for how we can come back and promote those popular items on the site, via email, etc.

4) Run a Pinterest Contest. Erika is currently running a Pinterest contest asking people to create pinboards of their dream home and incude at least a few Design Public products. The winner will pick up a $250 gift card to the site. The contest is a great way to get users discovering the products that are on Design Public and sharing them back with the Pinterest audience. Surfacing this content in ways other than just through the main Design Public Pinterest account is critical to reaching new users and potential customers.

Never Add the ‘no-pin’ Meta Tag

We can’t imagine why any site would not want free traffic and sales from people who love design and beautiful things. This audience is a dream audience – and for all of the traffic that comes through, people actually buy. There’s a very real benefit to letting your content circulate on Pinterest.
Take for example this light up cube. It’s been pinned more than 1,000 times at this point. There hasn’t been a single sale. But we do know that we’ve sold other products to people who have visited Design Public via that pin. It’s definitely validation for the model.

What’s Next for Design Public and Pinterest?

We’ve got a few ideas up our sleeve that we’re not quite ready to share; but there are a bunch of really interesting ideas and things that we can do from both a marketing and product perspective to continue to integrate Pinterest into our site. And a lot of it will be driven by the new features, API and other tools that Pinterest releases for brands and stores like Design Public.

Is Pinterest for Everyone?

Doubtful. If you’re pinning auto-insurance policy quotes or mortgage rates, you’re probably not going to have the success we do. But if you make or sell things that are unique, beautiful or inspirational, Pinterest is a no brainer. If you want to keep an eye on Design Public on Pinterest, you can follow Design Public on Pinterest here.

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Think social business. Not social marketing.

Social business - not social marketingThink social business — not social marketing. Social marketing, the content, programs, campaigns and promotions that leverage social technologies, is part of social business, but it’s not the end all, be all. Social impacts business in its entirety. It’s easy to say social media or social marketing when talking about social business; because it’s how the press has pegged the activity of brands and users on these networks, but it’s wrong.

Social impacts nearly every aspect of the organization: human resources, legal, product, customer service, business development and of course, marketing and communications. A smart business looks at social holistically and integrates it into the business units in a way that connects the entire organization via social technology. Through this integration, social makes the business more accessible, more agile and more responsive to customer needs. These are all good things.

Businesses that truly “get it” don’t limit their thinking of social as some specialized area of marketing. In fact, social can’t (and shouldn’t) be confined to marketing or to the marketing function. To think of it as a marketing-only area is to miss the boat in its entirety.

So whenever I start saying “social marketing” too often, I remind myself that it’s an organizational discipline and a fundamental shift in how business is done by leveraging new ways of communicating with one another — both internally and with the outside world.

This isn’t a new idea, just a reminder I like to give myself to keep my eye on the prize.  I thought you might find it useful too.

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Marketing’s New Frontier: The Facebook Stream

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

I first heard the idea of Stream Marketing in this AdAge article, where the author explored how brands were marketing with Facebook status updates. The article looked at Oreo and other big brands who had figured out that the mundane updates were the ones that got the most engagement. And, by virtue of the Facebook social graph, also the most exposure and attention for the brand on the social network. Stream marketing is the practice of optimizing your outgoing status updates to get the most engagement (and therefore reach) with each one. It’s about being intentional in the stream, and cultivating your brand persona with well timed, and executed updates. As a social marketer, it’s imperative that you go beyond the network-presence level of social marketing, and get down into the front lines, update by update, to maximize the brand’s presence in the stream.

Stream marketing is the next frontier of online marketing. Many people and companies talk about using social marketing; but how many are actively thinking, planning and optimizing their stream marketing? It’s a huge, open field with few boundaries and rules for the road; and lots of debate about what is, and isn’t good marketing in the stream. But what does it really look like? Let’s look at that AdAge article:

As it turns out, many people in social networks don’t want to talk about your product, they just want to talk. We’ve long known that inserting brands into social-media channels requires a conversational touch, but many are surprised by just how conversational. There’s increasing evidence that the most-effective kinds of marketing communications on these websites are simple, random, even banal statements or questions driven by the calendar or the whim of a writer that may not have anything to do with the brand in question.

What are you doing this weekend? What is your ideal vacation? What’s your favorite movie or book? On Veteran’s Day, BlackBerry posted a simple holiday-related message that received nearly 8,000 likes and more than 500 comments, many of which consisted of veterans thanking the brand and posting their PINs, allowing others to contact them via BlackBerry messenger. Reaction to that update far outpaced other recent ones concerned with products or tips.

The key here is the conversational element. Being able to create a dialog around your brand or product is what drives the spread of your brand through Facebook’s social graph. Facebook’s algorithm, called EdgeRank, uses the number of comments, likes and shares of an item to determine what bubbles up to the user’s Top News feed – the default view of the News Feed for most of Facebook’s 500+ million members. Items with many comments and likes get seen by more people, driving the virtuous cycle of the viral spread of the message to your fans’ friends, and so on. Without any engagement those status updates just fly by, in a river of noise, unnoticed.

Facebook knows that brands and marketers are paying attention to their stream marketing efforts, and have started adding some rudimentary, yet valuable, stats underneath status updates visible only to the page administrators. Now with each status update you can see the number of impressions received by the status update as well as the percent feedback received for each of these posts. Now marketers can start to really see what is connecting with their fan base, and not just throw stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

The impressions number is important because it’s representative of the number of how effective that message was at propagating through the social graph of users. Getting content into that Top News feed is the best way to reach people on the network, and so the number of impressions can be used as a proxy for how effective that update was at achieving that goal. The feedback is a critical number for obvious reasons. The higher the feedback, the more engaged the users are with the brand around that update. You get all sorts of benefits from that. You have more awareness, you can drive action that’s tied to a KPI, you may get more affinity/loyalty, and you also get the Edge Rank boost as mentioned above, driving that status update into the Top News feeds of your fans’ friends and creating the opportunity to gain new fans, and build greater awareness with people not already connected to the brand on Facebook.

The status data from Facebook isn’t real time, but it is fast enough to let you make some smart decisions very quickly. For example, looking at a recent client’s feed, we realized that their fan base was very engaged around Mad Lib-type, fill-in-the-blank status updates. In fact, they were performing at 4-to-1 compared to other updates. So we made a recommendation to mix more of those types of updates into the stream. The result has been more engagement around more status items, which is exactly the goal. Of course, we also cautioned them not to overdo it, as you don’t want to exhaust a fun outlet for fans; but it was a way that they could shift their stream marketing ever so slightly to get better results.

Stream marketing requires a mix of planning and thought combined with the ability to rapidly respond and shift based on what’s working and what isn’t, all while keeping with the brand voice and persona. With such a fast-moving environment it’s easy to get off brand in a hurry, so it’s important that the people managing your stream understand the brand voice to the core and have a working playbook of ideas, themes and do’s/don’ts that keep them on brand in this fast-paced environment.

It is the evolution of marketing from editorial calendars to playbooks. Let me use a football analogy here. In most football games, a team has its first 15 or so plays scripted. That is, right out the gate, no matter what, they’re going to run 15 plays and see what happens. These are based on their best research and planning, and allow them to test their theories about the opponent, etc. This is very much like a standard editorial calendar. Here are the items we’re going to go to market with, because based on what we know we think they’ll get the best response. But after those 15 plays are done, it’s time to go to the playbook adn call plays based on the response of the opponent.

The same is true in stream marketing. You can start with a strategy and an approach, and you can even stick to it at the start; but then you need to start adjusting and responding to what is and isn’t working if you’re going to have success connecting with fans on Facebook. And much like a football team, marketers, copywriters and community managers can call a play, but whoever is driving the feed activity is the Quarterback, and they need to be able to audible into other plays and strategies based on how their fans respond. From the AdAge article:

“When you have ad agencies or copywriters writing your Facebook copy, it ends up being promotional in nature and if you’re not inspiring feedback no one’s going to care,” said Sarah Hofstetter, senior VP-emerging media and brand strategy at 360i. “You can only talk about your product so much. Balance that with you’re not trying to be their best friend, you’re trying to achieve some marketing objective.”

So how can you be effective at stream marketing? Here are a few tips:

  • Create a strategy and approach to stream marketing that fits with your brand and brand voice
  • Create a rules of engagement document that outlines what is an isn’t on brand for status updates
  • Set a soft editorial calendar for the first handful of status updates to learn what does and doesn’t resonate with your audience
  • Create engagement opportunities by asking questions and using fill in the blank statements
  • Use the stream insights provided by Facebook under each item to see what works and what doesn’t work, and refine accordingly
  • Create a playbook of ideas for conversation starters and status updates that your community manager can go to at any time to engage the fan base
  • As with any online marketing effort: test, learn, refine, test, learn, refine, repeat ad infinitum.

By effectively marketing in stream you can “inspire feedback” driving the virtuous cycle of extended reach across the network, leading to better results and greater return for your Facebook investment.

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Sandberg is Right: Email is Going Away

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg created quite the stir last week when she said that “email is probably going away,” and the results of this new study seem to suggest that she’s right.  What does this mean for marketers? I think it means that while it’s important to build and grow email databases and have a solid email marketing strategy that the time is now to begin to build other, permission-based marketing assets like Facebook fans, opted-in mobile subscribers, Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers.

The online audience and communication channel will continue to fragment – the saavy marketers recognize this and realize that one communication medium won’t be enough – especially when trying to reach the Millenials.

via Study: College students adopt texting, shun e-mail – chicagotribune.com:

A new Ball State University study says text messaging has far eclipsed e-mail and instant messaging as college students’ favored way of staying in touch.

The findings show that 97 percent of students now send and receive text messages, while only about a quarter of them use e-mail or instant messaging.

Here’s Sandberg explaining why email is probably going away:

Read More:

Image via VentureBeat.

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That’s G: Gatorade Gets Social Media

Gatorade Mission ControlGatorade has planted a stake firmly in the social media realm, putting its social media monitoring and engagement at the heart of its marketing department, launching Mission Control. Mission Control is Gatorade’s listening and engagement center where it monitors brand mentions and conversations in social media space. It also lets the brand see which websites, landing pages and online marketing efforts are performing better than others-letting Gatorade extend or shut down campaigns depending on how sentiment and other KPI’s are doing for given opportunities.

An impressive effort to be sure, and one that more brands will follow as social media becomes core to their understanding of how their brand is performing with their target audience. Whether it’s a physical space or not, expect more brands to make social media monitoring a core part of the daily dashboard showing the health of the brand, market or business. So the question becomes, what are you doing to monitor the health of your business online?

From Mashable’s article on Mission Control and its ROI to Gatorade:

On a day-to-day basis, Gatorade’s tools are also being used for more conventional marketing tactics –- like optimizing landing pages and making sure followers are being sent to the top performing pages. As an example, the company says it’s been able to increase engagement with its product education (mostly video) by 250% and reduce its exit rate from 25% to 9%.

Below is Gatorade’s video about the new Mission Control:

Read more:

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Self-funded Success Stories

Image representing 37signals as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

37 Signals has launched a new blog series titled, Profitable and proud, which highlights successful companies that have grown without any venture capital or funding.  It’s a great idea and a clever way to advance their theory that venture capital often gets in the way of companies becoming a success.

Their first company is Campaign Monitor, a company that I love for email marketing.  They also have a great way of marketing themselves that is inexpensive and customer-centric (double bonus!)

I think one of the best ways a company can build a relationship with their customers is to help them get better at something. When we launched Campaign Monitor six years ago, HTML email design really was a dark art. While browser limitations and workarounds were well known, there was next to nothing available on HTML emails. How do you make an email look good in Lotus Notes? Why isn’t this float working in Hotmail? You had to learn everything the hard way.

Over the years we’ve put together almost 350 articles and tips to help reduce this frustration for our customers. Some of our most popular resources include our regularly updated guide to CSS support in email, our free templates that work in all the major email clients and our email gallery showcasing beautiful email design.

I love what Marc Hedlund over at Radar has to say about self-funded companies too.

I think it would be interesting to compare customer service satisfaction across companies with different kinds of ownership structures. I noticed a while that some of my favorite businesses near my home –Cheese Board/ArizmendiZachary’s Pizza, and Missing Link Bicycle — which have the best customer service in their local markets, are all co-ops, owned by the employees. 37signals often argues that running a business their way is better for the business, but I think it is nearly unarguable that it’s better for customers, too.

I think you get greater flexibility to do what you think is right for your customers when the only pressure is on you to live up to your standards – and not a quarterly board meeting with people wondering when they’ll see their return on investment.

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Small business video marketing – using a call to action

video call to action

I recently had the opportunity to write a guest column about online video marketing over at ReelSEO, and I focused on the importance of including a call to action in your video to encourage viewers to take action after watching.   Whether it’s subscribing to your YouTube channel, sharing the video with a friend, visiting a website or your store; a call to action is critical to creating measurable ROI for your video marketing program.

Here’s an excerpt of HOW TO: Create a Call to Action in Small Business Video, read the rest over at ReelSEO:

A video without a strong CTA is a missed opportunity for a small business looking to create new business from their video marketing. This is an important difference between video marketing for big brands and video marketing for small businesses. A large brand can post a video and use “softer” measures of success such as reach, brand recall, and impressions, but small businesses have limited budgets and success is measured in terms of ringing the cash register.

Image via ReelSEO.

Disclosure: I work for TurnHere. We make and promote video for small businesses.

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What is Brand Anyways?

Not quite sure how to explain brand?  Ever wonder what brand is (beyond fancy logos)?  Watch this short video about branding and feel smart.  If it was my brand, I would’ve chosen a different narrator; but that’s just me.

Thanks to AdPulp for sharing it.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9005191&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1

What is Brand Anyways? from Urban Influence on Vimeo.

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