Monthly Archives: June 2017

Getting Collaboration Right in 2017

By Michael Brenner on June 23, 2017

While this post is sponsored by Microsoft Office, all thoughts are my own.

For many, it is the classic job interview cliché. When asked what our strengths are, we reply that we can take the lead and work on our own but also adapt to teamwork when the task or situation calls for it.

There is nothing wrong with this response. Indeed, a job interview scenario is something of a game in which the candidate must give the right answer to the right question. Certainly, being able to work alone and also collaboratively is an important skill in the workplace. But, what is teamwork? What does collaboration mean in 2017?

Collaboration has evolved. What used to involve getting a few people around a table to plan, and then sending them off into the field, has now become much more dynamic and sophisticated.

Take a look at our guide to getting collaboration right in 2017, and for more details, get the full Forbes report here.

Knowing When, and How, to Collaborate

The modern marketplace is a competitive one, one which requires focus and agility. Your organization needs to be able to respond and react to different situations as and when they arise, and then know that you have the best team in place to achieve the objectives you need.

As early as 2013, Forbes was advocating this high level of agility as a key asset for business. Writing in September of that year, Craig Le Clair discussed how 70% of the companies ranked on the Fortune 1000 list in 2013 had vanished in the intervening decade, due to too much rigidity and an inability to adapt.

So, flexibility is the order of the day, not least when it comes to collaboration. Understand your aims, understand how to achieve them, and make sure that you are ready to assemble and deploy the right team at a moment’s notice.

The Legacy of the Team

The individual legacies of the teams you create are also worth considering. Was the team you put together designed to meet a specific, ad hoc need? Was the team a provisional one, designed simply to plug a gap until a more permanent solution can be found? Or is this the team you need on an ongoing basis?

Answering these questions comes down, once again, to understanding. This must be the grounding for any collaborative strategy in 2017; a solid base of understanding – both of organizational needs and objectives in the short and long term – to support the action of your teams going forward.

Some teams will collaborate on an ongoing basis; others will lay dormant, ready to come together on other projects in the future, while some will be ephemeral; there to complete a specific task and then be dissolved. Which teams fall into which category is up to you.

Disengage from Concepts of Time and Space

The beauty of modern collaboration is that the concept is now wide open. Teams no longer need to be tied into any time zone or office space. Instead, they can operate anywhere in the world, and still collaborate and work together in real time.

There are a many different digital tools available to bring teams together from a variety of locations and across a myriad of time zones. By selecting the tools which offer the best fit for your business and your industry, you can develop a digital toolkit which facilitates high-quality communication. Remote collaboration does not need to be so difficult.

Of course, there will come a time when collaboration needs to happen within your office space, as your team comes together to work closely on a project. This can be supported by considering the set-up of your office and your collaborative spaces, and by thinking intelligently about the design of your workplace. Again, this is linked to adaptability and flexibility; operate a workplace which supports direct collaboration when it is needed, and remote collaboration when the moment calls for it.

Security and Stability

Whenever we expand a business concept or open it up, the security question comes to the fore. It is relatively easy to implement data protection measures and to safeguard sensitive information when it is being shared between five or six men and women in a boardroom. When teams begin collaborating across continents and oceans, sharing vast volumes of information via cloud computing networks, this becomes a little trickier.

A secure approach is not simply the best way to take care of collaborative tasks in 2017; it is the only way. Begin by securing hardware; if you have an ‘own device’ policy, then make sure that each device is inspected to ensure that anti-viral and malware software are up to date. Engage in extensive training to make sure all team members are on the same page when it comes to security, and that they are willing and able to implement security measures on their own devices and networks.

Next, secure the software. Only work with applications and digital platforms which have a robust and reliable commitment to security, and make sure that these are consistently updated. In the light of recent ransomware attacks, organizations can ill afford to be caught napping on this issue. Collaboration is vital to an organization’s success in their chosen field, but this should not come at the expense of its security.

Moving in the Right Direction

What do you want to achieve from collaboration? Your first thought might be to excite and delight existing customers, to grow revenue, or to reduce costs, but by focusing on such tantalizing objectives, you run the risk of losing out in other areas.

Don’t fall into the trap of focusing all of your collaborative efforts in one direction; adopt a balanced approach and safeguard the overall health of your company. For example, you may want to launch a collaborative task on improving customer care, which is a great idea. But, even with the best will in the world, these customers are not going to stick around if you’ve nothing new to offer them, so bear in mind that your research and development teams need a similar investment of time, energy, and resources. Consider all departments and cover all bases, collaboratively.

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This post is sponsored by Microsoft Office.

One of the most important topics in business today is security.

Despite all the advancements in data security, most companies are still vulnerable. Last year, 80 percent of US businesses were compromised, according to Microsoft Office’s – most of them small businesses.

The cost of cyber attacks is at an estimated $4 billion dollars every year, with a loss of $3 trillion in global market value.

Data vulnerability is a huge problem today. How will cyber security improve for tomorrow? What steps can businesses take to ensure they are fully protected?

Are Data Breaches Going to Be Inevitable?

With all that organizations can do to protect their data, and by extension that of the consumer, why do cyber criminals still wield so much power? One of the problems is the technology itself. As it evolves, so do the cyber attacks.

When asked about the future of security over the next few years, cyber intelligence advisor Dr. Jessica Barker predicted more automation and machine learning with less reliance on people.

She expects a sort of hybrid system of human and machine intelligence – but warns the innovations in cyber security may end up being used against businesses in the future. Cyber criminals will simply figure out a way to hack the machine learning.

Where Security and Privacy Are Headed

Even with the constant race between cybersecurity experts and hackers to outwit one another, there are data security innovations that indicate a more secure future.

In the webcast Bret Arsenault, Microsoft’s Chief Information Security Officer, explains that with the technology available today, it is possible to enhance both user experience and security.

Instead of relying on passwords and security cards to access data, it is the use of biometrics that is leveling the playing field in favor of businesses. Fingerprints, iris detection, and other biometric security identifiers make it easier to integrate user access while making data more secure.

Hackers may have methods for figuring out someone’s password or security question answers. Recreating bio-identifiers is one very large step closer to impossible.

Another growing problem with data security today – and its emerging solution – is the tendency to stitch together security products to secure a business’s digital environment. This becomes a particular challenge for small businesses, which is part of why so many are left vulnerable.

The solution is to use products that already have security built-in. This type of software is better protected, and it reduces an organization’s operational costs.

Compliance and Consumer Privacy

As we approach May 2018, when the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, will go into effect in the EU, many businesses in the European Union are focusing on becoming compliant with the new rules for enhancing consumer privacy.

There is a shift occurring in the US as well. Some tech companies are starting to take their responsibility for data security very seriously, putting in the time, effort and expense to create greater transparency around how they treat and protect consumer data.

Experts believe that forward-thinking companies that spend the time now proving they can be trusted are the ones that will be able to innovate in the future. Those that wait for legislation to force them to improve their data security may be in for an unwelcome surprise.

Savvy consumers are actively choosing products and services, such as smart home devices and business apps, based on the provider’s stance on privacy. T

his means data security is no longer a compliance issue – it is what consumers want. The reality is, it is the platforms – the app stores, browsers and other tech platforms – that are highly responsive to the consumer.

If consumers are uncomfortable with a particular tech company, it is possible that in the future we will see the platforms pushing those companies out.

Steps Towards a More Secure Future

While culture shifts and innovations like biometrics and products with build-in security offer businesses more today in terms of powerful, affordable protection, there are still important steps that every organization must take to prevent data hacking.

Especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) permeates more of our world, we’re looking at more points of vulnerability in the future.

  • Outsource your backup to the cloud. For small to mid-sized businesses, this is one of the most important advantages of cloud-based technology. Today, it is possible to rely upon a specialized team with all the advanced security and encryption measures, disaster recovery, and real-time protection capabilities of an enterprise-level corporation – at an affordable price.
  • Talk to a cyber security specialist. There are so many things you can do to better protect your business. Some are small tweaks, while others may be process overhauls. By consulting with someone who can look at your entire system, identify your vulnerabilities, and help you create an action plan to bolster your data security, you will help to ensure your business doesn’t become another cyber attack statistic.
  • Train your employees. A business is only as protected as the security habits of its employees. Taking simple steps like regularly changing passwords or switching to biometric identifiers can reduce the chances of a network intrusion significantly. It is also important to talk to everyone about security protocols, such as not clicking on a fake advertisement or phishing email.
  • Test your system regularly. You need to know what your vulnerabilities are and that each is secured.

No matter how proficient our data security technology becomes, hackers aren’t likely to disappear.

Data theft has become a persistent industry. Not because the technology doesn’t exist to protect data, nor because it is even very profitable, but rather because we live in a digitized world. So, we have to deal with digital theft.

With the use of machine intelligence, stronger encryption measures, and by shifting to products with in-built security, businesses are certainly outpacing the cyber criminals.

Those businesses that do take advantage of the technology available today to improve data security are the ones that are less likely to become compromised in the future. For more, take a look at the webcast and see how the future is being decoded.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Microsoft Office, but opinions are my own.

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Lead nurturing is no different than building long-term relationships. It’s simply a strategy marketers use to stay in front of prospects, providing relevant, worthwhile content to warm them up until they are ready for sales. According to MarketingSherpa, 79% of marketing leads never convert to sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the #1 cause for poor performance.

Content forms the foundation of your lead nurture programs. Think of it like this – if lead nurturing is the engine, content is the fuel that keeps it running. So before you launch a new nurture campaign, making sure you have the content in place to support it is crucial. Below is a list of suggestions for content worth including in your nurture campaigns:

  • Analyst Report
  • Blog Post
  • Case Study
  • Coupon
  • eBook
  • Free Demo
  • Free Trial
  • Outside Trade Publications with information or best practices about your industry
  • Thought Leadership Piece (usually published by your company expert in a third party publication)
  • Video
  • White Paper

No matter what pieces of content you decide to include, each touch needs to be personalized so that to your prospect, it feels as though this piece of content or this message was made specifically for them.

Build long-term relationships with these 6 nurture campaigns

So you have the content to share, but how do you decide the best way to nurture your database with it? To start, nurture campaigns can be delivered based on conditional logic as seen in this basic campaign below:

 

Marketing automation solutions use conditional logic to help you decide which type of nurture campaign is best for each prospect or customer. Here is a list of the 6 basic nurture campaigns and when to use them:

  1. Intro | Welcome –Your prospects may not know a ton about your brand or the solutions you offer. Without being too “salesy”, an intro nurture campaign can bring them up to speed. Intro campaigns typically provide some high-level information about who you are, along with a valuable piece of content. These campaigns are meant to start a lasting conversation with newly acquired leads.
  2. Remarket | Recycled –Do you have great content? Interesting videos? Hilarious social media accounts? No matter what the case is, potential customers show interest in your company for a number of reasons without actually pulling the trigger. Remarketing campaigns target people who have shown interest – through visiting your website, sending an email, visiting your social media pages, etc. – in a new and exciting way.
  3. Close | Lost –Sometimes your biggest competitor of all is simply the prospect not purchasing anything. Automated closed-lost nurture campaigns give you a chance to revive that opportunity. Like most nurture campaigns, closed-lost nurtures work best when you’re using a natively integrated CRM and marketing automation solution. For example, if you lose a deal to another competitor that sells 12 month contracts, you know exactly when the deal is going to be up for renewal and can use automated nurturing to start nurturing months before the renewal and revive the opportunity. Your sales team puts so much time and effort into opportunities, so don’t waste their time well spent.
  4. Stay in Touch –Your prospect may not be ready to buy right now but that doesn’t mean you should lose touch completely. A stay in touch campaign allows you to stay top-of-mind and build credibility for when they are ready to make a decision. It’s important to remember not to establish yourself as a sales machine during these campaigns. Instead, you want to help educate your leads and position yourself and your company as a thought leader in the industry.
  5. Accelerator –When things you thought were moving quickly start slowing down, should you throw in the towel? Of course not … try an Accelerator campaign. Accelerator campaigns provide relevant information at the right time in an order to put the process into overdrive and nudge leads along faster. These campaigns are triggered specifically on prospect activity – visiting a certain page on your website or searching other relevant terms on your website, reading a specific email or any social activity that may occur between the prospect and your business.
  6. Customer Lifecycle –So your lead has turned into a customer, but now what? Now is not the time to let them set sail with your solution and shut the conversation off. Customer lifecycle campaigns help customers with onboarding, keeps them educated on industry trends and best practices, and gives them the opportunity to take advantage of other offerings and contract renewals. Customer lifecycle campaigns can include things like newsletters, invites to free customer or best practice webinars, special offers specifically for current customers, etc.

The truth is, nurture campaigns – no matter how basic or what the subject is – take time and effort to create in your marketing automation solution. However, the benefits to your sales pipeline far outweigh the work to get them up and running. By allowing prospects to customize their path through the buyer journey, nurtures enhance your sales processes and reduce the chance of leads disappearing along the way.

What is intuition, anyway? Sure, we aspire to do something exceptional, and we can’t stand all that average noise created by the endless “hacks” and “cheats” and “secrets” out there. We know there’s a better way. Our gut is telling us something — maybe. Is it really our gut?

But here’s our big question this week: If all that readily-accessible expertise out there is simply generalized advice, and that helps us reach AVERAGE at best — then what can we use to go from average to exceptional? What can we rely on to get the rest of the way there?

Intuition.

But what the actual heck IS intuition? And how can we actually control it proactively?

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In the “Ultimate Sales Machine”, Chet Holmes mentions that only 3% of your target market is ready to buy! 7% of your target market is open to buying but not looking, 30% of your market is comfortable with the status quo and 30% of your market believes they aren’t interested.

When it comes to LinkedIn marketing and social selling, where do you think everyone’s focus is? It’s on the top 3% of the market meaning they’re missing out on 67% more opportunities that my clients (like Schneider) are getting with a 40% to 70% improved chance of closing.

How sales & marketing professionals and social media lead generation companies are focused on only 3% of the target market…

In a recent article, SAP’s Nicholas Kontopoulos mentioned that social selling has become another form of spam! He wrote: “Social media is now just amplifying the bad selling behaviors of salespeople. Where a bad salesperson could deter dozens of potential customers, social platforms allow the same person to reach thousands of people…with the same one-night stand, transactional mentality and message.”

You see LinkedIn marketing and social selling has become a volume play. The focus is on how many connections are being made, how many prospects are joining the LinkedIn community, how many views the content is generating, how much website traffic are they getting, how many people are being reached with messages. They’re focused on how many people are being added to the pipeline even if they aren’t validated and qualified. They’re focused on lead generation even though most leads go nowhere – when the focus should be on prospect development.

Even social media experts are talking about social media being a volume play.

Jay Baer has mentioned in his talks that social media is a volume play. You have social media and social selling experts including Jeff Molander, John Nemo, and Brynne Tillman coaching clients and followers to take a templated approach that lacks relevance to try to book as many calls and sales conversations as you possibly can. For example, Jeff Molander, a digital sales prospecting trainer and coach, teaches clients to use templates like:

Hi, Sam.

How are you adding new capability to your ______________ [insert area of business your product addresses] at any time soon or in future? I work with organizations like _______ [prospect’s business] to make sure ________ [goal]. Would you like to quickly explore, via email, if a larger conversation makes sense? Please let me know what you decide.

So, instead of taking an account based marketing approach and focusing on issues that are relevant to targeted organizations. key decision makers and influencers, sales, marketing and social media lead generation firms using this approach are hoping that if they send it out to enough people, it will be relevant to someone and stick. They are focused on “trying” to hit that 3% of the market – the people that are most likely ready to buy now. If those leads that may or may not be part of the 3% of the market do not move forward, then you have a high cost for business growth. And, your efforts on LinkedIn are nothing more than a cost center. It doesn’t matter how low your cost-per-lead is if leads are being stuck at the top-of-the-funnel. It’s still a cost and investment that isn’t leading to revenue!

Social media firm focuses on lead goals even though the leads they delivered went nowhere!

As I share in this cost-per-lead post, I recently spoke to the President and CMO of a logistics company – and they were both so focused on how many leads we are able to deliver on a weekly and monthly basis. They proceeded to tell me how another social media lead generation firm was delivering 5 to 10 leads for sales calls per week.

However, those sales leads they were delivering sucked! 90% of the calls were with prospects who were not in the right stage of the buying process at this time – or they were with people who were not even a decision maker or influencer. The people who said “yes” to a call was just looking for free information, to network – and maybe refer the company. What good were those leads if there were no relationships being created and leveraged to create revenue opportunities?

How sales and marketing can capture 67% more opportunities instead of just leads that go nowhere

  1. Focus on relevance across all levels using an account based sales and marketing approach

Adding the person’s name or position to a message or talking about their industry does not make you relevant. When you’re engaging in prospect development, you’re not just relevant on one or two levels – you’re relevant to the industry, to the company, to the person’s role and to the individual decision maker or influencer.

Being relevant to each key decision maker and opening doors with different demand units is what account based sales and marketing is about. It’s how you can forge stronger connections within individual people within potential customer organizations. Remember, developing relationships require getting to know the potential customer and demonstrating how you can bring relevant value to them. This is how you’ll move those that are indifferent or think they are not interested in your solution.

  1. Engage in marketing for sales alignment:

Marketers who go beyond lead generation and focus on Sales and Marketing alignment to achieve revenue goals using LinkedIn can prove a clearer, stronger social media ROI. By providing rich insights into buyers, their companies, and their territories, marketers enable sales to better prioritize their efforts. And by focusing on relationships and how to leverage them, marketers can become the social bridge between buyers and sales. They can help build familiarity between salespeople and their customers. Together, sales and marketing can improve sales effectiveness using LinkedIn.

But marketing has to use its influence on LinkedIn and become more of a sales enabler – and support sales in a more meaningful way so they can close deals.. There can’t be these silos anymore where marketing is focused on the company page, sponsored updates and the solutions that LinkedIn Marketing Solutions provides and relying on sales to make the relationships. Marketing needs to become a sales enabler on LinkedIn by focusing on the complete awareness to revenue customer life-cycle that includes a set of psychological transitions where customers become aware of, evaluate, like, advocate and invest in a specific product or service. We need to go beyond the awareness tactics that social media and digital marketing executives take and meld traditional marketing with LinkedIn to increase the percentages of transitions as well as increase the speed at which they transition.

  1. Focus on breaking down the potential customer’s status quo

When going beyond the 3% of the market that is ready to buy, you have to spend time breaking down the customer’s status quo. As the CEB mentions in their Challenger Demand Gen Marketer Role Guide, “Without breaking down the status quo, potential customers may engage with your content, talk to your sales reps and nod along. But ultimately. they won’t take the hard actions to drive consensus and take the next steps toward investing in your solution.”

It’s not enough to just challenge prospects and show them a new approach. You need to give prospects a reason to change. For a positioning and messaging firm client, we were only able to help the firm gain clients once the firm’s President was able to show sales and marketing how their positioning and messaging was affecting sales and marketing performance – especially in the areas that were high on the priority list. Once we were able to target specific companies with specific positioning and messaging issues and show sales and marketing leaders why they needed to change, the firm gained clients like Membrain, Mariner Partners, Shift Energy, Idea5, Rocket Software and SmartOrg.

  1. Don’t optimize content for social media engagement

When you’re optimizing content for social media engagement, you’re optimizing it for reach. You’re optimizing the content for top of the funnel awareness which may attract that top 3% of the market that is ready to buy – but it won’t move the other 67% of the market. As the CEB mentions, you want to optimize your content for consumption of disruption or, in other words, focus on how your content is driving changes in thoughts and actions.

  1. Focus on lead validation and qualification

The Chief Learning Officer at PeopleLinx, CEO of Social Selling Link, and Co-Founder of Business Development University and Social Selling GPS tells clients:

“With each new connection, determine if they are someone you’d like to speak with and tweak the LinkedIn message slightly: NAME, it is nice to be connected on LinkedIn. Typically I like to have a brief call with my new connections so we can explore ways we might be able to work together now or in the future. Here is a link to my calendar: xxxxxxxx. Please pick a time that is most convenient for you. I am looking forward to our call.”

So she’s telling business leaders and sales and marketing professionals to go for the call–don’t worry about lead qualification and validation. She’s saying don’t worry if they haven’t seen your value yet and that you haven’t demonstrated your relevance. Don’t worry if you haven’t identified a need yet and don’t worry if they are not in the right buying stage. This shotgun thinking assumes that getting the sales information “out there” may eventually lead to a sale. But all it really does is cost you time and money.

Inside my Get Help with Linked Strategies Group, we’re showing how to apply account based marketing and the challenger sale to the LinkedIn marketing and social selling environment. We’re discussing how to go beyond the top 3% of the market to get 67% real sales opportunities – not leads but actual sales opportunities that move forward.

Recent developments in technology are empowering consumers like never before. This digital revolution is expanding consumer choice and giving users access to information around the world, anytime, anywhere. Customers can now make educated choices between competing brands, as information is literally at the tips of their fingers.

As a result, customers have higher expectations of brands. It’s more difficult than ever to convince customers of the value your product or service brings while competing with more established brands and companies. This is prompting businesses and marketers to bring their A-game when it comes to customer experience (CX).

The world of marketing is now shifting to a customer-centric approach. Despite this new trend, some marketers and businesses are still using traditional methods.

New marketing strategies such as experience marketing, account-based marketing, and contextual marketing aim to deliver highly relevant and personalized customer experiences. We’ve outlined the significant advantages of adopting a customer-centric approach below:

Benefits of a Customer-Focused Approach

  • It’s more expensive to find new customers than to retain existing ones

Most marketers invest a huge amount of time and resources in generating new leads and attracting new customers. Studies show that there is more value in focusing resources on retaining existing customers. After all, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one.

A CapGemini study revealed that customers with strong brand attachments deliver 23% more profit and revenue than the average customer. By providing excellent customer experiences, businesses can gain the trust and loyalty of each customer.

Another report by BIA / Kelsey and Manta found that returning customers spend approximately 67% more than a new customer. Customer retention is improved with a customer-first approach that delivers great customer experience.

  • Fill the gaps in your customer experience journey

Data analytics tools are now available to aid marketers in their customer experience research. By looking at the metrics and data behind every customer touchpoint, you can determine gaps and bottlenecks in the customer journey.

Customers interact with companies through multiple touchpoints; by phone, via email, websites, social media channels, or in-store. You need to unify your channels to ensure consistency in customer service and communication.

According to Accenture, 89% of customers become frustrated because they need to repeat their issues every time they speak to a company representative. To drive the point home, another study revealed that 87% of consumers believe that companies need to work harder to provide a more consistent customer experience.

  • Optimized customer experience improves customer satisfaction

A 2014 survey by McKinsey & Company revealed that effective customer journeys increase a customer’s overall satisfaction by 20%. By optimizing your customer experience at every touchpoint, you can ensure a more seamless customer journey. This can potentially increase your revenue by up to 15% and lower your customer service costs by 20%.

However, it’s not enough to just look at individual touchpoints. You need to understand your sales funnel and focus on the entirety of the customer journey to improve their customer experience. When you focus on the customer journey as a whole, it becomes easier to see the “big picture” and deliver unified and consistent customer service.

When the customer experience is consistently positive, you can increase brand trust and loyalty while building strong business relationships.

  • Delighted customers are the best brand promoters

Satisfied customers are the best sources of referrals and brand advocacy. They’ve used your products and have experienced how you do business, so if they’re still buying from you, you’ll know it’s because they’re satisfied. There have already been countless studies that show how consumers trust the referrals of friends or trusted associates.

Nowadays, it’s very convenient for customers to hop on social media and post negative reviews about your company. Keep your customers happy, and they’ll provide all the social proof you need to build credibility for your brand.

  • Create competitive advantage

A recent study found that by the year 2020, customer experience will take higher priority than price and product as the key brand differentiator. As mentioned above, today’s digital world has shifted the focus from brand to consumer, so a shift in priorities is likely to occur.

Whatever industry or niche your business belongs to, you will always have competitors who either have lower prices than yours or more features to boast. Despite this, many brands are still able to differentiate themselves from tough competition based on perceived value. This perceived value is often derived from a great customer experience.

It’s no longer about you. It’s about your customer.

In the past, entrepreneurs and business owners believed that the key to a successful brand is in providing the most competitive price with the best features, but that no longer holds true in today’s digital age.

The goal is now centered on how customers can achieve success with your products, with the help of an optimized customer experience and journey. Technology is making it easier for businesses and marketers to offer the personalized brand experience that modern customers crave.

Needless to say, increasing brand loyalty produces profitable results for both brands and their customers. Customer loyalty can only truly be addressed by providing a highly personalized customer experience that not only satisfies but exceeds expectations.

Learn how you can use customer data to customize your marketing and create a better customer experience with our Complete Guide to Data-Driven Marketing.

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While Snapchat is wildly popular with individual users – it reached the 100 million daily active user mark at the end of 2016 and has ballooned to 161 million since then – businesses are only now catching on to the potential. Until last year, it was still Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn which got the most social media marketing attention.

Like its slightly older sibling, Instagram, Snapchat has become a social force to be reckoned with in a few short years. Visual, interactive, and engaging, if you are still in the camp of marketers overlooking Snapchat, you may want to look again.

Snapchat Marketing Examples You Have to See

From the businesses that market directly to the millennials and younger, Snapchat’s biggest fans thus far, to multinational B2B organizations, some brands are already gaining traction and engaging leads with this somewhat mesmerizing social platform.

Goldman Sachs has been leveraging Snapchat for years.

They got a lot of attention for their campus recruiting campaign directed at recent grads. The Campus Story platform was even nominated for a Shorty Award.

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More recently, Goldman Sachs purchased ad space on Snapchat for International Women’s Day, showcasing their 10,000 Women initiative with three video ads.

Amanda Rubin, co-head of brand and content strategy explains their decision, “Snapchat allows us to reach an important audience in real time and join a conversation about how best to empower women in emerging economies.”

Gatorade used a Snapchat Sponsored Lens to promote their brand during the Super Bowl.

Combined with a classic influencer marketing technique, using tennis star Serena Williams in the animated GIF, this one by Gatorade was a winner.

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Hubspot is setting the standard for B2B companies.

They use Snapchat to showcase what’s going on within their company culture.

The software provider, which specializes in inbound marketing, also offers plenty of useful tips and advice for getting started on Snapchat.

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How Does Snapchat Work for Marketing?

Part of Snapchat’s attraction is the finite duration of the messaging. Snaps are shared between users and disappear after viewing. A story lasts longer. Create a photo or short video and every one of your brand’s Snapchat friends can view the content for 24 hours.

This makes Snapchat ideal for running campaigns around specific events, brand announcements, and also to engage your audience with relevant chats during the holidays.

Snapchat is also useful as a marketing tool to support other facets of your overall content strategy. For example, if you want to let more of your audience know about a new vlog series, seminar, or your latest blog posts, sharing a photo or video can help to create more interest and drive more people to your site to view, sign up, or read.

The more creative, authentic and relevant, the better.

  • Feature some of the most important points from your content in an innovative way.
  • Take the Hubspot route and include your staff – try fun interviews or a clip of your team in action.
  • Announce any contents, deals or special promotions.

Here’s an example of Snapchat marketing ingenuity in action. Grubhub uses the platform to announce coupon codes, elegantly capitalizing on the sense of urgency that’s intrinsic to chats.

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Snapchat Promotional Tools

Snapchat has developed several tools for marketers to use to make their brand more visible and to engage users on the platform.

  • Snap Ads are mobile video ads with an interactive elements such as a swipe up features. When done well, the interactivity can turn the Snap Ad into a short game.
  • Geofilters are custom overlays that are only available for users in a particular geographical area. This makes them a little more exclusive and ideal for regional or local events.
  • Sponsored Lenses are intended for big brands with deep pockets, costing $450,000 on slow days. But, they are a truly unique way to promote a brand. Who’d ever have thought ten years ago, one of the most powerful ways to market would be to let your customers turn themselves into a grinning taco head?

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Snapchat is also a well-played medium for influencer marketing. Sour Patch Kids 2014 campaign with Vine star Logan Paul, made huge waves, in the form of 120,000 new followers for the brand.

How to Master Snapchat

You, however, don’t need ads to benefit from the popularity of Snapchat. In fact, Snap Ads and Sponsored Lenses could be the platform’s downfall in the future.

What makes this social media site stand out, growing from a niche site to one of the top social media networks in existence, is its down-to-earth feel.

What users appreciate is the newness and rawness, as well as the fun. This isn’t a platform for glossy promo videos and polished ads, but rather for clever emojis and text captions.

Ads could quickly get old and eventually push users to other platforms that are able to offer the genuine, light-hearted feel that Snapchat offers today.

Want to get the most out of Snapchat? Be creative and strategic. You have to keep your visuals fresh and interesting. This isn’t where you can really display your prowess with educational content. It is where you can be the most innovative, coming up with snappy posts that are never the same yet always in tune with your brand messaging.

Snapchat is more about catching your audience’s attention, making them smile and helping to move them further down the sales funnel.

How to build your audience? You can use your followers and friends on your other social media channels to build a following on Snapchat.

Using an influencer to garner attention or connecting with an industry event that your audience would be interested in can help you to get more users opening your Snapchats.

image source

Hubspot suggests making a measurement plan at the beginning when using Snapchat for business marketing. Look at your retention rate for each story to see which ones are being viewed. Track when your audience stops viewing – what percentage make it to the second snap. Also, pay attention to qualitative feedback. What are users saying about your posts?

Snapchat is really still in its infancy. But, there is a lot of potential for businesses. Sure, this fast-to-rise social network has half the modern world vomiting rainbows, but it can also help you better market your brand.

In a webinar for the GetResponse Automation Hub, I discussed the content driver for marketing automation.

Content marketing is a driver for success in marketing automation. In fact, marketing automation creates a need to understand how to create the kind of content that the target audience wants. The kind of content that reaches, engages, and converts them. This will help you quantify the value of your content marketing activities for your organization. Can’t beat that, right?

Marketers have a marketing problem. What do non-marketing people think is?  They think it’s:

  • Advertising
  • Promotion
  • Interruption

But if you think back to marketing classes at university, you probably learned that marketing is a communication between a company and its customers. That’s so much more than advertising, promotion, or interruption. And we, as marketers, often forget what it’s like to be on the consumer end of a marketing initiative.

The content imperative for marketers is: stop interrupting what people are interested in, and be what people are interested in! In other words, create the kind of content that people want to consume. Marketing automation helps with the delivery of that content, but it’s so much more than simply automating emails that promote your product, company, or offer.

The content imperative is important now because the buyer’s journey has changed. The consumer is now in control of where and how information is consumed. And 90% of that journey is completed before a consumer makes contact with a salesperson. That’s true for B2B and for considered (larger) B2C purchases.  It’s also important to remember that the buyer’s journey doesn’t start with a search for your product, but for a search for a solution to a customer’s problem.

Empathy for your customers will go a long way. In this context, empathy means being able to answer the question, “What’s in it for your customers?”

This webinar is for you if you…

  • want to learn how to quantify the value of engaged traffic to your business.
  • want to answer customer questions with your content marketing, instead of promoting your product.
  • need to define the questions your customers are asking, and can rally your organization’s experts to answer those questions.

Watch the webinar recap today!

The post appeared first on the GetResponse Blog.

Growing a small business is tough. Once you’ve reached out to your immediate family and friends and encouraged them to share your new business with their networks, it’s common for new businesses to hit a wall. Especially when you’re just starting out, you don’t have a ton of extra cash to put towards marketing. So something like getting quoted in the LA Times or getting featured on your local news station could be huge for you.

Here are eight ways to get media mentions for your small business:

#1 Press Releases

When you think about getting media attention the first thing that should come to mind is writing a press release. Though, utilizing a distribution company that’ll get you the results you’re looking for doesn’t come cheap. There are plenty of free services out there like PR.com and 24-7pressrelease.com but if you want big time hits on your release you’re going to need to pay a little more. PRNewswire is a great site and will get you great visibility, but each release can cost around $300, depending on your market and the reach you want. So, if you’re trying to save where you can, only utilize one of the bigger distribution sites when you have something you’re really trying to promote.

#2 Reach Out to Journalists Directly

A great way to get media mentions is to create lasting relationships with journalists. If you have a friend or colleague with that connection, try and get to know them better. Send them an email when you like a recent article they’ve written.

You also want to make sure you offer up resources and content that’s relevant to them. For example, on one of my sites, I have an NFL streaming guide that I’ll offer up to sports bloggers and journalists. However, I’m not going to use it to reach out to finance reporters.

Don’t be overbearing, but try and build a relationship. That way, when they need a quote from someone in your industry, you’ll be their go-to guy.

#3 Notify Local News Stations When You Host an Event

Local news stations are always looking for businesses and events in the community to support. If you’re hosting an event or even offering a big promotion to community members, let your local news stations know. If it’s a slow news week, they’re just looking for stories to fill in the gaps so you have a pretty good shot at being featured. When pitching them on your event or promotion, be sure to use language that demonstrates how exactly it involves and benefits the community.

#4 Facebook Video

Creating viral content is another way to get media attention, but it’s a lot harder to do. You can never be certain if something you’re making and putting out on your social channels will go viral, but you can play into Facebook’s visibility algorithm. Facebook loves videos. Right now, they love live videos. Put a video on Facebook and you’ll get an impressive organic viewership without having to boost anything. If it goes far enough, you never know who might see it.

#5 Boosted Posts

In the same way that your content is more likely to end up in the right hands if you play into Facebook’s visibility algorithm and post videos, your content also may get picked up by a news outlet if you boost your posts. Just like with press releases, you get what you pay for so the more money you put into a boosted Facebook or Twitter post, the more eyes will see it. You can get some pretty decent viewership for just $30. If you have a huge event or promotion that you’d like people to know about, it doesn’t hurt to spend around $100.

#6 Use the Right Hashtags

Using the right hashtags can also get your business noticed by the media. Whether your business is celebrating its five-year anniversary or you’re offering new products, let the media know. Hashtag #localnews or the name of your city. If you think whatever you’re promoting would be of interest to a bigger outlet, like Forbes or Huffington Post Business, hashtag or @ those outlets as well.

#7 Guest Blog

Another way to break into the world of media is to become a guest poster on reputable outlets. Start small by writing quality articles on your own blog. From there, pitch a little bigger outlets, sending them examples of your work. Slowly build up to bigger and bigger outlets. It’s possible to become a Forbes contributor in a year’s time. All it takes is good writing, the ability to research and a clear point of view.  If you don’t fancy yourself a writer, hire someone who is.

#8 Networking Events

Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to attend networking events. Research which networking events the media will be at and bring your best elevator pitch and business card. Introduce yourself, let them know what you do and say, “If you’re ever in need of an expert in my field, I’d be happy to help.” Don’t forget to follow up after the event with a phone call or email.

Image Source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/3H21KUXVT4