Damien Cabral

Act-On Marketing Automation Do’s And Dont’s

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In a time when trendy advertising options pop-up daily, it is important to strategize your goals and invest your budget wisely. Marketing automation is your business’ opportunity to build a portfolio of programs that deliver targeted content and nurture quality leads. In the last few years, we have experienced a burst of well-developed platforms geared toward the small- to medium-sized business sector. With several of our clients, we recommend and implement Act-On as the platform of choice. Below you will find several simple “Do’s and Dont’s” to take advantage of this automation software.

Before you sign on the dotted line:
Do build outlines for your programs and prep your content.
Take the time to strategize the flow of your automated programs and take inventory of the content you currently have. We recommend building up an established collection to fill at least 2-3 of your outlined programs. If you identify areas in need of more content development, build up your library first. This will help you avoid spending a monthly fee for a software you are not yet equipped to leverage.

Don’t forget to check the date.
Depending on your sign-on date and billing cycle alignment, Act-On will allow you 3-4 weeks of free experience/training. Sign-up mid-month to take full advantage of the extra weeks for onboarding.

Identify prospects while building your content and programs:
Do set-up the Website Prospector Tool.
Act-On provides a simple snippet of tracking code to add to each page of your website. A daily digest email sent to you by Act-On will tell you which companies are visiting your website.  This email tells you which prospects clicked on a link and which pages were visited on the website.

Don’t get wrapped up in the daily reports.
Depending on your list size and website traffic a lot of users may appear unknown with locations all across the globe. Spend 5 minutes each day to scroll through the daily digest email. Look for visitors with high page volumes and relevant locations to identify possible leads.

A Final Do and Don’t In One:
Do keep a healthy reputation and don’t forget about your list hygiene.
When sending large volumes of emails, it is important to regularly clean your lists. Contacts can become old or invalid. Outdated information may lead to high spam complaints, undeliverable mail (bounces), or unsubscribes. Check-in with your designated Act-On representative about your lists. It’s important to remember the cleaner the list the better your reputation which will ensure your ultimate goals that messages will be delivered and leads will be nurtured.

Why Earned Media Is Important to Your Organization

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The power of content marketing is emphasized everywhere in the marketing world, but how do you put a value on the content that your business is producing? Small- and midsize-business owners who wish to maximize their marketing efforts should consider paid, owned, and earned media when creating and distributing their content on their websites and other online channels. Before we dive into why earned media should be the end goal of your content strategy, let’s talk about paid and owned media.

Paid media refers to a company’s efforts to promote its products by paying for a media space and leveraging distribution channels such as web banners, paid search, and traditional advertising.

Owned media is any engagement driven directly by content that the company controls and owns. For example, when you post new content such as videos and blog posts on your website and social media channels, the interaction between the visitors and your company would be considered owned media.

Earned media is the chain of sharing that goes beyond the initial advertisement and is obtained through conversations on social media channels, emails, and word of mouth. Though it may be driven by paid and owned media, it’s an organic share from people who find the content compelling enough to want to pass on to others as a reflection of their own personality in some way.

So, why is earned media important?

1. Gain trust from your customers. We live in a culture where consumers are highly critical of any form of traditional paid media that interrupts their daily lives. They know exactly what they want without being influenced by commercial advertisements. It is clear that no one anymore wants to be ‘sold’, and consumers instead look to trusted sources for any type of life decision. According to Nielsen’s article on earned advertising, 92% of respondents trust reviews and recommendations from friends and family. Through earned media, your company avoids consumer skepticism and receives credibility from an objective third party who trusts your product or service.

2. Strengthen brand advocacy. Earned media creates a genuine bond between an organization and an individual. Customers become advocates for a business by sharing its content and endorsing the brand to friends and family. This adds more value than results from any other paid search campaigns or temporary online web banners because you are growing a group of ambassadors who are voluntarily passionate about your brand.

In order to build earned media, you need to get your content in front of the right people – people who are truly interested in the products and services you offer. This challenge requires you to analyze your target market strategically. You could share your content on all your social media pages and end up with a few hundred clicks only to see your content get pushed back by all the other content. Simply updating your content doesn’t generate earned media. Above all, have an end goal in mind when creating content. It’s important to invite your audience to join your community, engage in conversations and social sharing and amplify positive exposure for your business. Use your content to build substantial awareness and foster consumer relationships that will ultimately drive purchase intent and affect your company’s ROI.


The Power of Video

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If you’re wondering about the power of video as a compelling marketing tool, take a look at some of these eye popping stats:

  • The number of people subscribing daily to YouTube is up more than 3x since last year, and the number of daily subscriptions is up more than 4x since last year
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube – that’s almost an hour for every person on Earth
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

Even after reading these statistics, you might still be wondering if developing a video to tell your story is worth the investment of your marketing dollars and internal resources. Below are three more reasons to help change your mind.

1. Cut Through The Clutter

We live in an age of information overload that makes it difficult to get the attention of today’s consumers. This is hardly surprising given that the average US consumer reads 100,000 digital words and sees around 5,000 marketing messages each day. In order to truly capture the attention of your target audience, your marketing needs to tell a compelling story that quickly captures the attention of your target audience. A well-crafted video is an optimal tool in your marketing tool kit that can accomplish this.

2. Build a Connection With Your Brand

Today’s consumer has evolved over the years. Rather than viewing products strictly for their functional benefits, consumers are thirsty to connect on a more emotional level with the brands they buy. And given the same old generic sales pitches that are bombarding consumers each day, it’s no wonder that they are tired of the same old transactional sales pitch and yearn for more. Given this reality, we should not look at marketing solely as the ability to ‘sell stuff’, but as a powerful vehicle an organization can use to build relationships. Just like any relationship, both parties need to be able to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level that separate a memorable relationship from the dozens of other acquaintances we all maintain. Looking at a marketer’s toolkit, there is nothing more powerful than video to ensure these deeply connections are taking place.

3. A Cornerstone For Your Content Marketing Efforts

A well-produced video can serve as the foundation for all your organization’s content marketing efforts and can be leveraged in a myriad of ways using multiple marketing channels. Using TribalVision as our case study, our company story video has been; leveraged on our website, emailed to prospects interested in potentially working with us, linked to our company newsletter sent to thousands of business owners, embedded in our press releases to strengthen our Google ranking, included in our sales presentations, and showcased on our Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube social media properties. There aren’t any other pieces of content we have developed that have been repurposed in so many mediums nor had the effect our video has had in spurring action from tepid interest to sale.

5 Questions Every CMO Needs to be Ready to Answer

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Should we redesign our company logo?

To answer this question, you first need to ask the question why? Redesigning your logo is a big decision and something your organization shouldn’t take lightly. Remember, your customers identify with the current logo and there is potential goodwill that has been attached over the years. As the Chief Marketing Officer, it is your responsibility to lead the rest of the executive team through the appropriate questions that will aid in your decision of whether to leave the logo as-is or to begin the re-design process. Below are a few questions to aid the conversation:

Good reasons for a logo redesign:

  • Has your company recently been through a significant transformation?
  • Is the old logo is dated looking and stale compared to others in your space?
  • Are you trying to recover from recent bad press and re-define your brand?

Bad reasons for a logo redesign:

  • Does your CEO not like the color [insert color here]?
  • Does your new agency think this is a great first project?
  • Is the executive team feeling like it just needs to be freshened up?

What is the ROI on Social Media?

This is a tough question and one that every CMO will likely face at least a few times a year. Social Media is now a maturing channel but still in its infancy when compared to other marketing channels. While some tools and methodologies exist that attempt to begin to quantify social media, it is still elusive. For now it is best to view social media as another communication channel, just like your customer service department, its another way to talk to your customers. The advantage of social media compared with the phone is you can speak with images, videos, and text. If you are only on social media looking for an immediate ROI then stop placing any energy or dollars in this channel. If you are looking to build meaningful relationships with your customers who are seeking to engage your brand – have at it!

Why aren’t we using [insert media channel here]?

It’s tough calling the shots as the head marketer. Everyone else in the organization is constantly presenting you with new marketing ideas and sometimes it’s more than presenting – its asking ‘why we aren’t currently using channel X?’ The key to answering this question is having a marketing plan and a marketing budget for the year. By having both in place well before the year starts, answering this question is easy. You can explain that the company is following a specific plan to achieve the marketing goals for the year and you have limited funds to attribute to new channels. As the head marketer, you will evaluate and consider all new ideas but they must fit into the existing strategic plan and there must be room in the budget.

Do we need an app?

The best answer to this question is to pose another question – Why? Apps are great and oftentimes can enhance your brand on a new platform. But before taking the plunge, clear goals need to be defined. Keep in mind creating a native app can come with a hefty price tag (starting at $20k for something basic.) If you and your company can’t come up with very solid goals for an app that (like enhancing your brand experience,) then take a pass. Also, ask yourself if an app is needed at all. Sometimes a robust responsive design web experience is sufficient for your customers mobile experience and actually easier (and cheaper) to implement since it is device agnostic.

Where are our best leads coming from?

Every marketer worth their weight should be able to answer this question any day of the week. In this new marketing environment of measuring what we market, knowing all your KPI’s (key performance indicators) are key. Understanding where most of your leads are coming from, how much they are costing you, and the ROI on these leads is not an option but a must in today’s competitive marketing environment. The best way to keep a finger on the pulse of your marketing organization is to create a dashboard of KPI’s that is reviewed regularly. This can aid decision making regarding which channels to turn up or down as well as where improvements are needed regarding lead quality. Be sure to include front-end measures like clicks and opens and back-end measures like ROAS (return on ad spend.)

Why Great Marketing Is Like Going to the Gym

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Marketing is like Going to the Gym

We are often asked, what makes great marketing? It would probably be good for our job security if marketing was somehow like brain surgery, or some other deep mysterious calling that only a few can do. Instead, to market smarter, it actually takes a little bit of practical experience and a lot of common sense.

Many of us have heard the adage that marketing is a lot like going to the gym. With the advent of The World Cup in Brazil, we thought that a workout-based post would make sense. As luck would have it, we have a number of athletes on the TribalVision team, so we asked them about what it takes to perform on the marketing field. Here’s what they think:

  • Do the little things well: In general, consistency beats grand plays at the final buzzer. Staying true to the fundamentals like a regular email nurturing plan or personally following up with every qualified lead are keys to staying on top.
  • Have a short memory: The best athletes keep their eyes forward and easily let go of what happened yesterday. They learn from both successes and failures, but they don’t dwell on them. Similarly, you need to treat every sales call or marketing campaign as a new opportunity to get in front of your audience. One problem call or disappointing send should never sway you from your overall campaign goals. Like watching game tape, look at your metrics, and assess what you can do better next time – and then move on.
  • Make a plan: Great sports legacies don’t happen by accident. They start with a dedicated coach, a comprehensive training regimen and a game plan. Similarly, well-run organizations rarely have ad hoc policies, but rather strategic plans to improve their businesses. For the same reason, we start every marketing engagement with a strategic plan, to look at businesses inside and out, and determine the best plan of attack.
  • Baby steps to victory: Great college athletes don’t just sit around and wonder whether Michigan can really build a legacy or not. Instead, they spend hours strength training in the gym, and watching tape to see what tweaks will improve their shooting percentages. To quote Any Given Sunday, “(sports are) a game of inches.” So is marketing.

This month, ask yourself what incremental business improvements can you make to improve your customer experiences? Is there one thing you can do to better touch your customers? What is the one thing you can do, consistently, that will truly change the game for your business?

Five Content Must Haves

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Have you ever looked at other company’s marketing material and thought to yourself, “I am just not creative! I don’t have what it takes to write (or design) that.”

Unless your business super power is writing or design – and even if it is – many companies struggle to write about themselves. Further, with so many kinds of “content” out there, it can get confusing or overwhelming to decide what content your company really needs.

To help you plan, we reviewed our most recent marketing action plans and strategy decks to determine what the most common collateral needs that we see among small businesses. Here is a list of the most common collateral companies need to create:

  • Company Collateral Material: You need something that talks about who your company is. This can include an overview document, customer interviews and testimonials and a list of your services.
  • Email Newsletter Primer: Email marketing is still a primary workhorse for most marketing plans. Think about creating turnkey content and a branded email template to build out a strong email nurturing strategy.
  • Blog: For those thinking of building an online presence, a blog is invaluable for displaying your thought leadership and building SEO.
  • Customer Outreach toolkit: You don’t want to only focus on reaching out to new prospects, but also think about how you are communicating with your existing – and brand new – customers. Opt for creating a customer Welcome Kit, customer collateral pieces and other outreach options (such as mailers, and referral programs) to build a strong relationship with your existing clients.
  • Thought leadership content: With consumers getting better at tuning out messages they don’t want to hear, sharing what you know with your prospects (sometimes called adopting an inbound approach to marketing) is becoming the most efficient means of building a successful marketing program. Think about creating eBooks, whitepapers and tactical tools to share your knowledge with your prospects.

The First Three Steps to Kick Start Your Marketing

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We spend a lot of time with business owners on square one on their marketing efforts. With the advent of online marketing, many companies are looking around to realize that their traditional methods of marketing are less and less effective – and they are losing leads and revenue by not evolving online.

Even with a minimal budget, there are still ways to compete in the new marketing environment. The key to getting back on track is to just get started. Find a partner you trust, and set aside a few hours every month dedicated to building out a few key elements to your marketing backbone one at a time.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a plan? The first thing your marketing firm strategy needs is a goal to achieve. Come up with a 3 – 6 month Marketing Action Plan that starts with your business goals and builds out what tactics, such as email marketing, in person events or improving your website or SEO, which you will select to accomplish these goals. Make sure to include timelines to keep your team honest and on track.
  • Do you know who you are? We almost always start by looking at a company’s messaging, which we use to build out the rest of your marketing materials. A Messaging Document should be a one to three page “mission statement” to clearly explain your business’ value proposition and key competitive advantage. Use this document for everything from key talking points for sales presentations to writing copy on your website.
  • How is your website? With 50% of marketing budgets dedicated to websites, conducting a thorough website audit is usually a fast way to improve your overall marketing ROI.  A good optimization partner should be able to quickly look at your site, and recommend quick fixes and long term improvements to help you achieve your business goals.


Three Tips for Marketing Success in 2014

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Every new year, we all set goals we absolutely will follow in the next 12 months: We will finally get proactive about our sales funnel, start actually tracking where leads come from, or lose that extra five pounds of business expenses. Then, right about the end of January, we tend to forget these good intentions, as the reality of our to-do list gets longer, and we go into tactical mode to march through the long winter months. Besides, with so many “vital marketing trends” to follow, it can be simply overwhelming to know where to start.

At TribalVision, we focus on providing our clients with practical, strategic advice on what will actually move the needle in your business. With that in mind, we asked our team what they see as the most important trends – the ones we believe will measurably improve business their lead generation efforts for 2014.

Here’s what we think matters:

1. Content marketing will continue to gather momentum. For 2014, we see more smart companies turning towards a more inbound, thought-leadership model for lead generation. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of B2B brands and 90% of B2C companies are currently deploying content into their marketing mix.

Why? We have already seen that the buyer journey is changing – whether screening calls or reporting spam, prospects are just really good at tuning out the messages that they don’t want to see. The only solution is to create something that your prospects really do care about – and pull them into your lead funnel on the basis of your expertise. Certainly, developing content takes somewhat more time than more traditional paths, but there is also zero return to investing in a strategy that is interrupting or annoying your audience – and may actually do more damage than good.

2. Websites will become even more important to the company bottom line. With 633 million websites in existence today, the website has become your public storefront. While some companies continue to see their sites as a glorified online brochure, the businesses who will succeed in the next 10 years understand the website is more than a marketing asset, but a core resource to drive leads and revenue. Smart companies need to capitalize on their sites with a strategic plan and optimized pages to truly convert their audience. Similarly, great marketers will deploy new technologies such as responsive design to ensure that people can see your site wherever they are.

3. Small businesses should think strategically about how they spend their marketing dollars. After a long economic recession, there are finally whisperings that the economy is moving in the right direction again. To take full advantage of this upturn, marketers need to be ahead of the curve.

We know there are a lot of people pitching marketing solutions out there – and it can be hard to know what is true, and what is hype? For most companies, start by looking at your fundamentals: Do you know your revenue goals this year? Do you know who your audience is? Have you effectively determined your competitive advantage, and do you have collateral material that explains it? From there, you can decide how to make your marketing budget accomplish your goals.

TV Blog: Marketing Outlook Report Series (Post 4)

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In the last blog post, we addressed the most effective marketing tactics of the superior strategy and inferior strategy companies. In our research partnership project, we also investigated the marketing tactics of small, medium, and large companies. While email marketing was again ranked as the most effective tactic, mobile marketing held the bottom ranking.

However, mobile marketing’s low ranking does not reflect the importance of this marketing tactic. This ranking will rise as the adoption of mobile marketing tactics and best practices increases. According to a BrightEdge Mobile Share Report, mobile traffic has grown ten times faster than desktop from 2012-2013.

The rapid growth of mobile-use offers plenty of opportunity to drive leads into conversions. Over the next few years, marketers will optimize the mobile experience so that it is as user-friendly as the desktop experience. Mobile marketing is an underutilized tactic in this digital age, and if you want to stay ahead of the game, start focusing on the future now.

TV Blog: Marketing Outlook Report Series (Post 3)

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The tactics of superior strategy companies are indicative of what successful marketing campaigns will look like in the future. For superior strategy companies, email marketing is the most effective strategy, followed by content creation and organic search (SEO).

Email marketing is the most cost-effective way to boost customer loyalty, drive business, and leverage social networks. As evidenced by the success of the superior strategy companies, refining your organization’s email campaign is a worthy investment to improve your organization’s marketing function. Re-examine your email’s subject line, target audience, calls to action, and subject content, in order to maximize incentive for customer engagement.

Content creation is the second most effective tactic, yet the largest percentage of superior and inferior strategy companies chose content creation as the most difficult tactic to execute. From webinars to blogs to white papers, content creation is a fundamental component of marketing. Great content takes considerable time to create, and the importance of content creation for superior strategy companies demonstrates that the time spent making content will pay off.

The third most effective tactic is organic search, while paid search is one of the least effective tactics. Most companies use paid search, since it is easy to execute. However, organic search tends to resonate more with customers since they may feel as though organic search results are more accurate reflections of what they are looking for, as opposed to paid advertisements. Although search engine optimization can be tedious and time consuming, ranking well in organic search results is far more effective than paid search.