8 Ways Marketers Are Being Heard In 2015

by Steve Olenski

One of the core challenges of marketing is what key information to present and how to do so effectively. Consumers literally have the entire world at their fingertips and as a result, there’s a considerable amount of marketing noise. With so much information streaming at a near constant, new and innovative methods of engaging users are crucial to establishing a unique voice over the chatter. To ensure they’re being heard, many businesses are utilizing the following eight marketing practices.

1. Going Mobile

No, I am not going to say 2015 or 2016 or any other year is the year of mobile. So now worries, there. However, it’s estimated that consumers spend almost 2.8 hours a day on mobile devices. With this comes big opportunity for marketers to engage their audience and in 2015, it’s become a downright necessity to re-contextualize business endeavors and situate them in the mobile space. From phones, to tablets, to wearable tech, companies are refactoring their efforts to maintain fluid marketing channels.

2.Visual Storytelling

A prominent trend in the world of marketing is visual storytelling. By making use of videos and infographics, marketers can visually convey their brand, philosophy, and objectives in a manner that is not only aesthetically pleasing but one that taps into the hearts and minds of their audience. Going into 2015, approximately 70% of marketers planned to boost their use of original visual assets. As we approach 2016, things don’t appear to be slowing down.

3. Blogs

For a long time, blogs have served as a great way to occupy a piece of digital real estate. They’re free, anyone can sign up, and they’re beautifully simple. Whether you’re a chef or a software developer, a blog can serve as an effective platform to broadcast expertise. Blogs are so enticing that each month around 329 million people read them. What’s this mean for businesses? You guessed it again: opportunity. Even Fortune 500 companies have jumped on the bandwagon, with 34% of them maintaining active blog accounts.

4. Content Marketing

A sound product or an innovative service are fine and well but consumers want to feel like they can trust the brands they love. Roughly 70% of polled consumers stated that they prefer to learn about a company through articles rather than standard advertisements. With over $100 billion dollars invested in content marketing this year, you can sure count on more videos, infographics, articles, and eBooks.

5. Social Media Marketing

Social media is now an installment of our culture and it’s one of the most effective ways a brand can engage their audience. The sheer volume of users provides a direct channel into prospective customers and it offers the chance for brands to employ the marketing trends discussed thus far. That’s why it’s estimated that marketers will drop close to $8.3 billion on social media marketing assets by the close of 2015.

6. Automation

Successful marketing requires not only high-quality content, but also punctuality. Consumers want and expect to be engaged on a regular, timely basis, and on the customer service side, you want to be able to address every customer complaint or question as soon as possible.

Although many think that there is no beating the personal touch when it comes to interactions on social media, these naysayers are behind the times – there’s actually an extremely strong case for automating social media practices. By using a software like Oracle Eloqua (note: my employer), you can easily cover every channel when you release a campaign, improve data collection, and increase your brand presence through shares and customer word-of-mouth.

7. Internal Communication

Communication is vital and there’s been a major push to ensure that the minds behind marketing campaigns are on all on the same page. By investing in streamline internal communication systems, employees are becoming more knowledgeable, more efficient, and more equipped to address work obstacles. As a result, they have evolved from representatives into robust “brand ambassadors”, backed by a fully-equipped and uniformly educated support system.

8. CRO

In order to maximize on marketing efforts, improving the user experience should be at the forefront of a brand’s priorities. That’s why they’re emphasizing conversion rate optimization (CRO) methods. By combining analytics and the user feedback, businesses can can monitor their online traffic, implement necessary marketing changes, and ensure that their online traffic converts to customers. One proven conversion tactic relates to the content marketing directly. With 25% of Americans watching online videos each day, 73% of them are more likely to make purchases after watching a video.

As technology advances and we hurdle closer and closer towards 2016, don’t be surprised if these trends become even more prominent. While it is true that the fundamentals of marketing are constant, the rate at which they are expected has most definitely accelerated. If you’re a business and looking to keep up, let these trends aid your momentum.

*This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.

From Buzzwords to Implementation: Keeping your Marketing Relevant

by Jeff Tomlin

Every marketer says that telling the story is the way to go. It’s become such a generic piece of advice that, although relevant, now seems almost as commonplace as “the medium is the message.” But here’s another marketer here to tell you it’s true. According to an online survey of 1,000 US marketers, 76 percent of us believe that marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the past fifty. What is true for marketers is true for companies—the marketing landscape has changed dramatically and companies need to find the new path to follow, or better yet, lead.

So what’s changed? The medium and the tools, yes, but much more than just that. Your customers have changed. How you allocate your budget has changed. Who you hire has changed. Who sets your brand’s message has changed. In short, nearly everything is different. Here are three things you need to do to stay relevant in the digital marketing landscape.

Broaden expertise in the marketing department. Long gone are the days when marketers need only know how to write slogans and design billboards (if that were ever the case). Companies need content creators, data analysts, influencers and learners. Most of all, marketers need to be well versed with technology. They need to know how to manage brands online, how to get people talking and sharing content, how to dig into analytics, how to source relevant data—the skillset attributed to marketers is undergoing a rapid evolution, and will continue to change as long as technology is driving business.

Produce engaging content. Inbound and content marketing aren’t just buzzwords—they are an absolute necessity. If your company is still cold calling and emailing people who have never heard of you, you’ve got some catching-up to do. People need to see you as industry leading and relevant. Businesses need to see you as a trusted source of information, providing something of value to them. Then, when they’re ready to buy, you will already have proven yourself as the trusted agency, and the natural choice will be to come to you.

Embrace innovation. This could not be truer than it is today. As your customers evolve, you must evolve, too. Your message and information should be available where your customers are—whether that’s a new industry site, directory, social media platform or news site. If your customers want to offer retargeting, you should be able to, at least, be a source of truth for them, providing knowledge and advice.

As marketing and the way companies communicate with the world continues to evolve, the most important thing to remember is to be flexible. Those resistant to change, will be left behind.

Jeff Tomlin is the co-founder and CMO of Vendasta Technologies, a company that builds white label reputation management, social media marketing and listings management software for some of the most successful media companies in the world. In working with channel partners to help their business clients to grow revenue with digital media solutions, strengthen traditional media assets and develop digital sales strategies, Jeff is known to many of America’s top media companies. Prior to co-founding Vendasta, Jeff was the VP of strategy and business development at Point2, where he helped grow a real estate platform from the ground to power over 185,000 agents in 84 countries. Follow him on Twitter @jtomlin.

8 Inbound Marketing Reports You Can’t Live Without

by Steve Olenski

As a marketer, you’re already familiar with the inbound marketing model: attract online visitors, transform them to leads, and then convince them to become customers. However, it is vital to choose the right reports and make them easy for decision-makers to interpret.

These eight inbound marketing reports will help you get the most for your marketing dollar clarify where your leads come from, which promotions they prefer, and which inbound channels work best for your business.

1. Traffic Sources

Your first job is to identify how people find your website, your social channels, and your content assets. These channels provide the majority of inbound traffic:

  • Organic search. People find your website or blog when they type a query into Google or Bing.
  • Online ads. You purchase pay-per-click ads on search engines or other sides, and those ads lead customers to your landing pages.
  • Social networks. You connect with prospects on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or other social network, and those prospects click your links and visit your site.
  • Referrals. Inbound links from a guest blog post you’ve published on another website direct potential customers back to your website. A prominent blogger mentions your company and provides a link readers can use to find you.
  • Email marketing. When you use email for lead generation, people might click on your newsletters or download your promotional coupons.

2. Lead Sources

Most businesses discover that certain traffic sources deliver more leads than others. For instance, you might receive a lot of traffic from social networks but get the most verifiable leads from organic search. Once you understand which traffic sources create the most leads, you identify where you should spend more of your marketing budget after all not all qualified leads are not created equal.

It’s precisely why marketers need lead management software to automate lead scoring.

3. Leads Per Offer

Some promotional offers attract more customers than others. For example, one white paper might generate more leads than others. It’s a good idea to test different promotions against one another and also to test identical promotions in different contexts. Try testing two versions of a Google AdWords campaign offering the same promotion to see which generates the most leads.

4. Revenue Per Source

Different promotions and marketing channels attract varying qualities of leads. Your Instagram campaign might attract a few big spenders while your email marketing might generate a lot of small transactions. You can choose to invest heavily in high-revenue sources, or you can market products at varying price points over targeted channels. Market in a way that generates maximum revenue, but don’t become too dependent on one big client.

Monitor Lead Nurturing Effectiveness

It’s not enough to run reports; you have to create reports that decision-makers can understand. For example, Windward Studios helps businesses create reports that are professional and easy to interpret.

These reports teach you which lead nurturing methods convert leads into long-term, high-value customer relationships.

5. Contacts Per Persona

Your buyer persona identifies who your customers are. The buyer persona doesn’t have to be the person making the purchase; it could also be someone who influences the final decision-maker. Focus your marketing dollars on the personas that lead to the most purchases. Also, challenge your assumptions about your personas, and don’t hesitate to reconfigure them as you learn more about your customers.

6. Investment Per Opportunity Generated

Ideally, you want to keep your cost per lead low to stay under your marketing budget. At the same time, some leads become big spending customers, so investing more money into nurturing them becomes worthwhile. Use this report to identify which leads cost a lot of money while failing to convert.

7. Revenue Per Opportunity Generated

Getting leads is nice; turning them into paying customers is better. If you notice a low ratio of revenue per lead generated, it’s time to diagnose what’s going wrong with your lead nurturing cycle. You might need to swap out underperforming content from your lead nurturing campaigns or trim your investment in traffic sources that generate low-quality leads.

8. Contacts Per Lifecycle

It’s vital to know the current state of your marketing pipeline. If you’re heavy on new leads, focus your marketing budget on nurturing and getting conversions. If you’re light on new prospects, spend some money on pay-per-click or social brand awareness campaigns. The balance shifts constantly, and your marketing budget needs to shift with it.

*This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.

Sales and Consumer Care May Know More About Your Customers Than Marketing and Production

by Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey


Your marketing people have done a fine job of creating a marketing plan, strategy, and package. They’ve considered the market, the competition and the delivery systems. They have honed the message, dialed in the positioning, and developed the compelling logo, catch phrase, and merchandising materials. But like any aircraft designer, they must eventually launch it; then be ready to redesign it based on the constant feedback they get from the pilots who are actually flying it through the headwinds, storms and down drafts.

Who are the folks who intimately know what’s right and wrong with the program? Who knows first about the changes in the marketplace, attacks by the competition, and the nuances necessary to keep the brand image and experience excellent? Who are the pilots of the customer experience? Your sales and customer care people.

In some companies marketing and production are considered to have a higher status than sales and customer care. Too often sales is viewed simply as “sales execution,” and customer care is viewed as “complaint resolution.” This attitude can result in restricting the information flow from the consumer to production and marketing.

Relevance is the key to an excellent customer experience and brand image. Your products must remain relevant and leading edge in a market filled with alternatives, creative initiatives by your competitors, and constant changing circumstances on the ground. Who knows about these shifting conditions and challenges first? Your sales people. Now they are not just executing sales – now they are your best source of timely tactical and practical feedback. Your marketing people should listen up and even thank them for sharing their street smarts!

Relevance is also a function of “complaints.” In fact complaints are a gold mine of information that will keep your products and services relevant. Your customer care people are in touch with your end users daily. They know more than anyone in your organization about what’s going on with your customer experience. Only one in a thousand complainers actually take their precious time to call and talk with your company about their concerns. The others just walk. But the complainers really want to improve their experience with your product. Sure, they want a resolution, but more importantly, they want your production people to hear their concerns to help keep “their brand” relevant. Do your customer care people have a clear channel to you production people? Better yet, do your production people respect their input as extremely valuable? Or do they see it as a threat to their job security coming from a perceived ‘lower’ level in the company?

The problems begin when the company culture dictates that there are separate divisions that are higher or lower than each other, rather than working together as a team. When the sales people are considered “outside” and the customer care people are in a call center; and everyone else is “inside” there is can be a disconnect. The other departments have direct access to top management on a daily basis and can easily outnumber sales and customer care.  So at a C-Suite level, do you allow a misguided view of structural status to block sincere and valuable feedback coming from your end-user?

Ironically, from a status standpoint, if you really do put the customer on top, you must realize that sales and customer care come next on the totem pole. That’s how you stay relevant, practical, and excellent.

Everybody says they want to give exceptional customer service, but they must be willing to hardwire their companies to provide sales and customer feedback to marketing and production for a dynamic brand image and experience. Stay informed and stay relevant!

For related complimentary business resources and graphics, please visit: www.barefootbonus.com.

Copyright © 2015 by Footnotes Press, LLC

Michael-Bonnie-ProfessionalMichael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey are the founders of Barefoot Wine, the largest bottled wine brand in the world, and authors of the New York  Times Bestselling Business book The Barefoot Spirit. From the start, with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative strategies to overcome obstacles, create new markets and foster key alliances. Michael and Bonnie now share their experience and entrepreneurial approach to business as consultants, authors, speakers, and workshop leaders. Michael and Bonnie launched at the C-Suite Network Conference their new companion book to The Barefoot Spirit entitled, The Entrepreneurial Culture, 23 Ways to Engage and Empower Your People. Learn more at thebarefootspirit.com, and find them on Facebook and Twitter @barefoot_spirit.

3 Things Marketers Should Not Overlook This Summer

by Steve Olenski

The summer. Depending on where you live, work and play the word can connote different things – from beaches to barbecues, to camping to fishing, to mountain climbing and white-water rafting and on and on.

The summer is a time for vacation for sure. And yours truly could use one right about now. But that’s another story and quite honestly you probably don’t care and I can’t say I blame you. The summer is also a time to spend with family and friends to yes – engage. And we all know, when it comes to marketing, engagement is everything.

Here’s a list I compiled of 3 things marketers should not overlook this summer. No, I did not include sunscreen for that should be obvious.

1. Your Database (and the growing thereof)

This time of year, AKA the summer (at least in the northern hemisphere) people are on the lookout for their next greatest vacation spot. And companies that provide access to rental properties are in a fierce battle with one another to stand out while growing their list of repeat customers.

One such company is Swantree 30A and its co-founder Jason Koertge says others in the same industry – as well as all companies in general, can benefit greatly via two traditional methods.
“Email newsletters and social media,” says Koertge. “I realize these are not exactly new platforms but we rely on both heavily to stay engaged and grow our list at the same time. I think these are goldmines that many companies downplay or overlook completely.”

2. Something New i.e. New Technology

It’s very easy to be lose sight of a new release of new technology over the summer for after all, you have your tan and summer reading to think of, right?

Well in case you didn’t know there is a slew of new technology that will be release this summer including the Apple iPad Pro, Microsoft 10 and Oculus Rift, the latter of which could finally open the doors to using virtual reality (VR) as a true marketing tool.

According to AdWeek, Marriott, which has dabbled in VR in the past, is considering making the Oculus Rift – which will be available for pre-order this summer, a permanent fixture inside its hotels this year.” Last year in fact Marriott offered guests a one-minute “fantastical glimpses of Maui’s Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach and central London from the dizzying heights of gigantic skyscraper Tower 42″ via an initiative named #GetTeleported.

3. You Are Not the Only One On Vacation

Just as obvious as using sunscreen (see above) so too should the fact be that marketers need to remember that people, AKA your customers and prospects are on vacation, too.
Now I can hear you now: “No kidding, Steve. Of course I know they’re on vacation. What am I an idiot?”

Well I not get into the whole IQ aspect of this topic but I will get into the fact that consumers during the summer are under a different mindset. For one thing the pace is slower; more relaxed. This is not to say they are still open to hearing of about a sale or receiving a coupon, etc.

But the pace at which they disseminate the marketing messages they receive is slower. I have no scientific data to back this up – am relying on good old fashioned common sense. Don’t you as a consumer slow things down just a notch during the summer?

And please, do not set your marketing machine on autopilot for the summer. Do not send message after message without one iota of consideration toward relevance. Just the other day I published something onLinkedIn entitled The Danger For Brands Who Don’t Master This 9-Letter Word.

The 9-letter word in question is relevance and the article touched on findings of a recent study which revealed this mind-blowing stat:

20% of U.S. and U.K. consumers say they receive between four and five irrelevant marketing messages per day.

So please, I beg of you, don’t fall into the “set it and forget it” mode and blast one irrelevant message after another to your customers during the summer hoping they will respond to one of them.

*This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.

The Mentality Of A CMO Is Changing To This

by Steve Olenski


Adapt or die. It is an oft-spoken term, most notably in the movie Moneyball by Billy Beane, AKA Brad Pitt. In that context the term referred to the way baseball general managers needed to change their entire method of evaluating players via the use of “sabermetrics.”

We won’t get into the whole nitty and gritty of sabermetrics but its introduction into the game caused quite a stir and debate and still does to this day.

When it comes to the role of the CMO, the same type of fundamental change is occurring as the mentality of a CMO is changing to one of a Chief Engagement Officer. Why? The answers are obvious, at least they should be.

In today’s digital world – and let’s get one thing perfectly clear here, we as marketers are not doing digital in a marketing world, but rather are marketing in a digital world , big difference – engagement is everything.

Yesterday we were both part of a panel discussion on a webinar entitled The CMO Solution Guide to Leveraging New Technology and Marketing Platforms Webinar. Presented by Oracle Marketing Cloud (OMC) (note: Steve’s employer) the webinar featured insights gleaned from a Guide by the same released earlier this year by The CMO Club in partnership with the OMC.

During the discussion this very topic of Chief Engagement Officer was raised. The sheer number of engagement opportunities alone is staggering hence the need for this mentality shift among CMOs. The use of technology as a means to engage with a given brand is only going to keep climbing with no ceiling in sight.

Today, consumers aren’t just tech savvy, they are techdependent. How many studies and surveys do we need to read where people say they would be willing to sacrifice this or that before they give up their technology?

Still not convinced? Well perhaps the opening line to an article on Bloomberg from earlier this year will convince you. “Almost a third of Americans would rather give up sex for a year than part with their mobile phone for that long.”

Not only are consumers tech dependent, they are techaddicted.

CMOs must adapt or die. No, not in the literal sense of course. But in a very real sense nonetheless for if they do not adapt to this mentality they run the risk of seeing their career perish – understanding engagement is that important.

This article was co-written by Michael Williams, CMO of Grand Prix of America and contributor to the The CMO Solution Guide to Leveraging New Technology and Marketing Platforms.

*This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.

The Roadblocks To Unified Communications

by Steve Olenski

Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.

Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.

In early February, in a piece entitled Why Unified Communications Are So Important Yet So Difficult, I wrote of the difficulties including the topic of legacy systems, many of which simply do not integrate with well, if at all, with new UC technology and the inherent cost associated with transitioning from a legacy system to one that is unified.

The article also referenced an ominous edict from Logitech who, in July 2014 wrote “Despite advances in UC technology and adoption, network services aren’t keeping the pace to meet the needs that increased connectivity demands. 17% of the participants (InformationWeek’s 2014 State of Unified Communications Report) worry over their network capacity and list a lack of WAN bandwidth — and the cost to upgrade it—as their most pressing concern.”

There is a wide array of players in the Unified Communications field, including the bigger boys such as Cisco, Polycom, PanTerra, and Oracle, and also startups such as Starleaf.

Overcoming Roadblocks

“The path to unified communications deployment is not without complexities and unexpected roadblocks.”

The above line comes from an article posted on searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com – in 2008.

Needless to say, a lot has changed since then — most notably the rapid rise of mobile and the cloud in essentially every aspect of a marketer’s lives. Thomas Wyatt, Vice President and General Manager, Collaboration Infrastructure Technology Group for Cisco, says in the mobile- and cloud-first era, users define how they work — not IT.

“Planning your UC deployment without understanding how your users work is like coaching a football team without knowing who your players are,” says Wyatt. “IT’s job is to build the foundation that will empower these users to work freely and across boundaries on any device — giving them stability, security and flexibility.”

Wyatt adds that the strongest foundation for a business will be built by taking into account several key factors, including “the integration of voice, video, conferencing and messaging tools, options for remote worker connectivity, deployment across on-premise and cloud-based platforms, unified management for control and visibility, and tight interlock with the existing network.”

Unified communications is very fluid, with lots of moving pieces “from the service itself to bandwidth, networking equipment and endpoints, all of which can span multiple sites,” says Arthur Chang, President and CEO of PanTerra Networks.

He offers the following advice when it comes to choosing the right unified communications vendor:

“Selecting a UC vendor that can deliver as much of the solution as possible will give an enterprise the best chance of a smooth and successful migration to cloud UC. Focus on UC vendors that best interoperate with existing legacy applications and have strong pre-sales configuration tools to ensure any performance or incompatibilities are identified early in the process. Redundant WAN connectivity and QoS capable routers are critical to delivering a high quality reliable UC experience.”

For his part, Mark Loney, the CEO of StarLeaf believes the biggest barrier to UC is overcoming the challenges of incompatible communications systems and applications.

“No business should need to rip and replace every piece of hardware and software on the network, just to get working, seamless and interoperable UC,” says Loney. “The only way to do this is to leverage current investments in existing platforms, merging and integrating them so that the reality of any-to-any communication is achieved in a cost effective and productive way.”

In closing, I’ll share something from the aforementioned piece I ran back in February: The most pressing need the analysts at Information Week believe is the biggest problem plaguing UC is an inability to create clear expectations — in both technology and business buyers’ minds — of exactly what it delivers.

So I will put it to you: How do your overcome or have overcome any of these or other obstacles when it comes to implementing a unified communications system?

*This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.

5 Lessons Learned In Marketing From The Financial Industry

by Steve Olenski


Whatever your business or service is, a successful marketing campaign involves driving traffic to your website, and then on-site conversion. Without those two actions, your company is dead in the water.

The financial industry is among the most dedicated service industries in managing their marketing. Here are five valuable lessons to learn from their successful strategies:

  1. Use recognized influencers to drive traffic to your brand.
    It can be a celebrity, like Mike Ditka, who is associated with equity index products. Or anyone else who is a recognized talent or authority. Don Orban is the Executive Director of Retire Iowa, and he recommends tailoring the influencer to the product or service as closely as possible:
    “When you’re dealing with people’s money and especially with their retirement accounts, you want them to know they’re dealing with someone who shares their goals and orientation. Hollywood glamor or a Super Bowl ring may not be what reassures your clients; instead you may want a spokesperson who is trusted and shares senior’s values.”
  2. Use compelling content (images, videos) to drive consumers from Pinterest and Instagram to your direct website.
    Both of these platforms are fantastic in getting customers who are browsing the web to land on your website. Pinterest is full of headlines meant to tantalize those interested in financial planning, such as “The 30 Day Money Cleanse” or takeaways like “Free Printable Financial Planner.”
  3. Incentivize your customers.
    Customers who have purchased an item from your website need an incentive to spread the word, e.g. a discount on their next purchase when they spread the good word on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media. How about a free e-book for repeat customers? This kind of customer retention strategy pays hefty dividends.
  4. Simplify every step of the sales funnel.
    Remove steps, minimize forms, add confidence builders and ensure progress is clearly signposted for the prospective customer to minimize drop-out. And, if your website has a remarketing pixel placed on all of its product pages throughout the site, when someone drops off without making a purchase you can serve an advertisement to them for that specific product over a 30-day timespan.
    Joey Muller, an expert in online direct marketing at Sum Digital, says “Don’t only ‘prospect’ for customers; with the right platform you can re-engage users who have already shown an interest in your products or services. Use remarketing techniques to close more customers.”
  5. Find a strategic position in the industry.
    The CEO of BenefitGuard, Matt Bradley, is an advocate of this principle: “When we examined the competitive landscape, we found several large areas of opportunity. We then designed our services in such a way to solve the problems that we saw in the industry. Then we started to broadcast our message in ways that the rest of the industry had not yet considered.” Financial institutions, both great and small, use a host of tracking sites to follow their rivals. Can you afford to do anything less?

*This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.

How to Use Referral Marketing to Address Your Firm’s Biggest Business Challenges

by Lee Frederiksen

via Matylda Czarnecka

via Matylda Czarnecka

Professional services firms face a wide range of unique business challenges. But in our latest research, we found one challenge to be considerably more prevalent than others. We surveyed 530 professional services firms from a broad range of industries and asked which business challenges they were facing in the New Year. The number one response — identified by more than 70 percent of firms — was “Attracting and Developing New Business.” This response was more than twice as common as the next most common answer: “Finding and Keeping Good People,” at 35.9 percent.

So, if the difficulty of generating new business is a pervasive struggle, how can professional services firms rise to the challenge?

Why Generating More Referrals Is Key to Attracting New Business

Referrals have always been an important aspect of attracting new business for professional services firms. This was also made clear by our results: Nearly 62 percent of our survey respondents said generating more referrals was their top marketing initiative for 2015. However, firms have traditionally focused on client-generated referrals. While client referrals are certainly important, they don’t make up a balanced referral marketing approach on their own.

In fact, there are actually three types of referrals that can help generate new business for your firm – and only one type is based on direct experience. In addition to referrals from clients (experience-based referrals), firms can also seek out reputation-based referrals and expertise-based referrals.

Reputation-based referrals occur when individuals recommend your firm based solely on your positive reputation. Even though they have no direct experience with your firm and aren’t necessarily aware of your particular expertise, they feel comfortable making a referral for your firm based on reputation alone.

Expertise-based referrals occur when someone doesn’t have personal experience with your firm, but he or she is aware that you specialize in a given problem. They recommend you based solely on your perceived expertise.

In our research, we found that a startling 81.5 percent of professional services providers report receiving a referral from someone who wasn’t a client. This means that focusing your firm’s referral marketing strategy on non-client referrals can be instrumental in attracting new business. But in order to generate more of these non-client referrals, firms need to place a stronger emphasis on brand building.

Why Building Your Brand is Essential to Generating Non-Client Referrals

Your brand is the combination of your reputation and visibility. By strengthening your brand and improving these two qualities, you can increase your firm’s chances of attracting more non-client referrals.

Obviously, when your firm has a better reputation, you become more likely to receive reputation-based referrals. Likewise, increasing marketplace visibility can bring awareness to your firm’s particular expertise. What’s the best way to improve your reputation and increase your visibility? Content marketing.

Producing relevant and educational content that establishes your firm’s authority can help to lend credibility within your industry and improve your firm’s online presence. Prospective buyers who are looking for an answer to their problems will not only be more likely to find your firm, but they’ll also be more likely to trust your services.

However, it’s more important than ever to have your marketing and branding work together to not just generate referrals, but also turn those referrals into new business. We discovered that 51.9 percent of respondents ruled out referred firms before even speaking with them. The main reason this occurred was a lack of understanding about how the provider could help solve the problem.

Figure 1. Why Buyers Rule Out Referrals


Poor marketing and a lackluster website can have major consequences for firms that want to attract more new business. With clear branding, a strong online presence and comprehensive marketing materials, your firm can avoid being ruled out by referrals before they even have a chance to speak with you. In this sense, building a better brand can both generate more non-client referrals and translate those referrals into new business.

leefLee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value. Lee can be reached at LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com or 703-391-8870.
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11 Things CMOs Need To Know About Mobile Marketing Strategy And App Development

by Steve Olenski


I honestly cannot believe I actually have to write this but this just in, pretty much entire world is on a mobile device on pretty much the whole time they are awake. In other words, the world of mobile marketing and its ridiculously enormous benefits should come as no surprise to anyone.

I have written countless articles on the topic of mobile marketing going back years. I don’t say to imply I am some sort of soothsayer or anything like that. I merely bring that point up to highlight the fact that mobile marketing is not something someone in the marketing world should just be waking up to.

OK, enough about that.

I’ve put together a high-level list for CMOs or any marketer for that matter to consider when looking at their mobile marketing strategy.

1. Mobile App or Mobile Website?
Many companies rush forward and create an app just because their competitors have one. But not every company needs an app. Often a mobile-optimized site will meet most requirements. Mobile apps, however, generally allow for more creativity and better interaction with your targeted users.

According to Janna Badalian, Director of Marketing at MobileSmith, “When it comes to customer engagement, native mobile apps can give your website a run for its money. You can engage various groups of customers and offer them a superior user experience — even without a reliable Internet connection.”

2. How Are Your Customers Using Mobile?
Use analytics to understand how your target audiences are using mobile. Are they transacting or using it to gather information? Are they mostly on Android or iOS; smartphones or tablets? Translating this data to IT will help them make the right decisions and prioritize development plans. However, sometimes requirements can get “lost in translation.” Marketers usually know best what their customers expect from a mobile app, and they can get their idea to market quicker if empowered with the right app prototyping and development tools.

3. Get to Know ASO
What is ASO? App Store optimization. The App Store can be a great source of new customers, or it can be a competitive nightmare where your app never sees the light of day. Getting to understand ASO is a critical part of gaining traction and maintaining traction in the App Store. Sites like apptamin.com offer great information on the subject.

4. Get to Know Your Competitors
Download your competitor’s apps — not just you, but everyone on your team should get to know what’s out there and how the competition operates. Not only will you get some ideas, you will find out what they are not doing well which will give you an opportunity to identity ways to beat them.

5. Check Cost Per Download
This is a fundamental issue that hits the business side of marketing your company with an app. It’s one thing to develop an app, it’s entirely another to motivate customers or potential customers to download the app.

6. Consider In-App Advertising
CMOs should look at the app landscape and focus on popular apps with frequent usability. Popular apps like Twitter allow in-app advertising or mobile advertising, and that’s one way to quickly distribute your app.

7. Use Social Media to Acquire Users
You should consider every distribution point that you think is efficient, but certainly use mobile social media platforms. The technology offers an almost immediate access to download your app. Your creative plan to drive consumers to download must be spot on, or your app will fail.

(the remaining four come courtesy of Momchil Kyurkchiev, CEO of Leanplum)

8. Double-Down on Mobile
The future of marketing is mobile. Mobile is the most personal device we possess, which makes it the best device to market to. Additionally, time spent in mobile apps has already surpassed time spent on desktop Web, and for some parts of the world, mobile devices are the first and only computer people possess.

9. Use Mobile App Marketing Automation
CMOs are already familiar with marketing automation on the Web; however, mobile apps present a lot of unique challenges and opportunities. On the Web, marketing automation is predominantly a B2B market, whereas apps are primarily for consumers. Also, the primary use case for marketing automation on the Web is lead nurturing, whereas with mobile apps it’s about engagement, retention and lifetime value. Therefore, CMOs responsible for mobile apps should adopt marketing automation solutions specifically designed for mobile.

10. Take Advantage of Real-Time Location
Location is one of the great opportunities for marketers on mobile. CMOs should experiment with iBeacons and geo-fences, not only to be able to segment users based on where they’ve been in the past, but also to design marketing interactions for users as they enter or leave certain locations. For example, switch the user experience in the app to “in-store mode” once a user passes by the iBeacon at your storefront, or send a survey to hotel guests as they leave the geo-fence of the hotel.

11. Be Lean!
Mobile holds tremendous promise, but it’s also uncharted territory for a lot of CMOs. We can’t rely on gut feeling of past experience to build a successful mobile app. Instead CMOs should adopt a culture of data-driven decision making and build their app incrementally. That involves relying on A/B testing and analytics for optimizing both the in-app experience and all marketing interactions, such as push notifications.

*This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Steve OlenskiSteve Olenski was named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred. Steve is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading marketing cloud software and services company. He is a also a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing and co-author of the book “StumbleUpon For Dummies.” He can be reached via LinkedInGoogle+, Twitter @steveolenski or at the nearest coffee shop.