Seven Tips to Balance Your Digital Marketing Scale



I meet business owners, marketers and digital folks everyday who try to gain new business, via the digital channel. When I say digital, I mean through their websites, mobile, social media presence, organic and paid search methods. I have to admit, there’s a lot of sophistication that marketers are using to launch their campaigns across various digital channels – and their spending big bucks to do it. But, I am surprised at the adoption rate of some marketers when it comes to measuring analytics correctly across these digital channels. Marketers tend to say, “I love digital because I can measure it”. Allegedly, digital methods conquered the question of where each marketing dollar actually goes. But when you get down into the weeds, you realize the measurement is half baked based on a few statistics – such as clicks, page views or other nonsensical stats.

By itself, your Adwords report is meaningless unless you know how much money those clicks made for your company. Your social media posts are great for perception but not much value if you don’t lead your followers to your business to buy, buy, buy. Your search optimization dollars are great, but do you know what happens when users reach your website? All in all, it doesn’t matter if you are number one in search if you are not making a high return on investment.

So how do you solve this problem? Here are a few key tips:

1. Spend some time ensuring that your analytics platform is installed properly and standardized across your organization.

2. Work with your agencies to define your requirements and goals of your website. Make sure those goals and conversions are correctly implemented on your site. Free and paid analytics products support this turnkey solution and this is an easy and critical component that will give you great data on what’s working.

3. Give dollar value to your goals and conversions. Attribution reports can tell you which channel is giving you the best bang for the buck.

4. When steps 1-2 are done, ensure that every campaign, post and banner follows a standard method to tracking. Use campaign parameters to ensure you can easily find your campaign in your analytics tool.

5. Analyze, analyze, analyze your data over time to see what is working what’s not.

6. Add more dollars to what’s working and ditch what’s not.

7. Make changes to your website and campaigns and then analyze, analyze, analyze some more.

In summary, digital has opened up multiple channels for us to market and attract new customers. But, in order to understand what is working and not working we need to be more sophisticated in how we measure. If you’re going to pay big bucks for a website, Adwords, social media presence, or even a simple banner, then challenge your agencies to confirm and provide data that show which of the strategies are working to meet your marketing goals. While clicks and page views are fine, they are just the tip of the iceberg. Savvy marketers should measure data that shows number of orders, number of sales leads, number of visitor inquiries and number of conversions.





Is your Facebook page driving good reach?



Social media has been a great tool for businesses. Facebook in particular has been used resourcefully in order to gain fans and boost interaction for a business. However, lately there have been several complaints to Facebook in regards to a decline in reach. According to Facebook, “Post reach is the number of people who have seen your post. Your post counts as reaching someone when it’s shown in News Feed. Figures are for the first 28 days after a post was created and include people viewing your post on desktop and mobile.” In the context of Facebook’s definition, reach seems greatly important when it comes to a businesses success and overall growth on Facebook. The question is, what can we do to ensure that our business pages are driving reach?

Let’s first look into why there has been such a decline in Facebook reach lately…

1. People are liking more pages than ever before- increasing the competition for exposure in the Newsfeed.

2. More and more content is shared on Facebook each day, making each person’s newsfeed more cluttered. More content is being made than the time able to absorb it all. On average, one person’s Facebook page can hold 1,500 – 15,000 stories on their NewsFeed. As a result, competition for exposure in the NewsFeed is increasing even further. You’re probably thinking “I definitely don’t see that many stories on my NewsFeed every day” and you are right – you don’t, which comes to my third point.

3. Facebook users do not see all of the new stories on their NewsFeed – Facebook chooses about 300 relevant stories based on relevancy to the viewer. So, there are a lot of posts (your businesses included) that aren’t shown on the NewsFeed.

Here are 4 simple steps to get you started in improving your reach:

1. Images aren’t the hype: While images were claimed to perform best for organic posts, they shouldn’t be your main focus.

2. Videos, videos, videos: Videos have seem to be the most effective organic post, next to text-only posts and links. Also, since not many pages have been posting videos, it comes up as a unique story – which Facebook’s algorithm seems to prefer.

3. Track which type of content resonates with your audience: The true trick is to study your insights that Facebook provides and see which type of post your specific audience prefers – it could be pictures, text-only, links, videos or a combination! Test out different variations of posts and analyze!

4. Don’t focus on using Facebook for reaches or to gain fans: Use Facebook to achieve specific business objectives. Organic content still holds a lot of substance on Facebook pages and can still make it to the top of the NewsFeed. Publish content that relates to your business and that is educational and entertaining.

 





Customers: Potential and Current



Your business is very special to you, it is your baby. We know this first-hand here at Xcelacore. You watch your business idea come to life slowly and gradually. You watch your idea grow and take its first steps into the world of business. It is a very special process. But, as we all know, a business is very fragile and can dissipate as fast as it was created. So, what can businesses do in order to better ensure survival? The number one factor that influences a business is the customer.

Customer satisfaction is important because…

1. It keeps those customers coming back!

2. It leads to recommendations!

3. It reduces negative word-of-mouth!

4. It lessens competitor advancement!

5. It is the foundation of every business!

How can you make sure your customers are satisfied?

1. Measure satisfaction– Send out surveys or ask your customers to write reviews on your service. This shows the customer that your company genuinely cares about what the customer thinks. It will make the customer feel like their opinion matters within your business. *If you are asking for customer opinion, always make sure to note those opinions- never ignore!

2. Treat your customers like they are your boss– Technically, your customers are your boss- they’re paying your bills aren’t they? So make sure you’re catering to all of their needs.

3. Say thank you– Always use your manners in the business world, it goes a long way and it is remembered.

4. Investigate what your customers are saying– Use social media to see what your customers (or potential customers) are saying about your business and your competition. This will give you organic information to use in order to provide the best service. This is very helpful because a lot of unhappy customers will not directly tell you but will tell social media about an issue.

5. Go above and beyond– Provide your customers with more than what you promise them.

6. Talk to them– Communicate with your customers directly in order to humanize your business and add some personality. This will also make your customers feel important. You would return to a business that made you feel important, right? Email is a great tool- use it!

7. Make customer service a top priority– Make a good impression with your customers early on in your business relationship.





Ringing in the New Year with Top Digital Marketing and Technology Trends



The one constant that we can rely on is change. The marketing world is not an exception – each year, month and day, there is a new marketing trend that is on the horizon. We as marketers should never stop learning (even though some of us said farewell to school many moons ago), because our industry is constantly changing. The material that was learned in textbooks back at school no longer apply, so it is time to re-dedicate ourselves to the world of innovation that brings disruption to entire industries.

Unfortunately, if you do not embrace these trends and learn how to leverage them, your business will get left behind with those yellow taxis. The following are the top 5 marketing and technology trends that we at Xcelacore believe you should embrace and put into your arsenal of business tools for the new year:

 

1. Marketing Automation: These technology platforms have become a must-have for large enterprises and increasingly important for small and medium enterprises as well. There are plenty of tools available to match the size of company, level of sophistication, and budget. Marketing automation tools will help you manage your marketing across multiple channels (email, social, web). Automation is essential to improving your conversions from leads to sales; automation speeds up the sales cycle and assists in engaging with your prospects in a personal way that matches their buying stage.

2. Analytics: Analytics provides the ability to find out which of your marketing activities are working and which are not. Without analytics, there is no way to understand your targeted reach, website engagement or how many users are converting into customers. Once you have the available data, you can then optimize your customer experience and begin gaining that much needed insight. There are several tools out there that can match your business needs from Google Analytics to Adobe Analytics.

3. Return on Investment (ROI): The ROI is paramount. In the early days of digital, it was all about experimenting with different channels (mobile, social, web) and advertisements to test about how your customers behave and engage. Now it’s time to tie the dollars you are spending on advertisements, and other marketing efforts, to real revenues. The way to do that is to have the right tools in place (such as marketing automation and analytics) to give you a view on your marketing campaigns. For example, if your spending $100/week on Google AdWords, do you know which convert and how much revenue they add? Or, if you are running an email campaign, do you know how many people followed up with a visit to your website, made a purchase or downloaded that Whitepaper?

4. Content is Key: While this was also true in 2015, we think content is important enough that it deserves to be in the top 5. Without quality content, inbound and thought leadership activities won’t get off the ground. You need informative, thought provoking, and educational content that is delivered to the right audience at the right time to be successful!

5. Focus on Mobile: The rise of mobile is increasing. With so many people checking emails, shopping, reading e-books, playing games, etc., it is important to heavily incorporate this new trend into your marketing strategy for 2016. According to mobileSQUARED, 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes of being delivered. An important insight to remember is that we multi-task with mobiles while watching TV, eating and doing other things that shall remain unmentioned – mobiles are always within reach and we feel naked without them.

 

Keep in mind that the 5 trends provided are only a sample of the trends that will be seen in the upcoming year. Stay tuned to the Xcelacore blog and we will bring you more of the latest throughout next year. Happy New Year!





Why Aren’t Enterprises Allocating Budget for Digital Metrics?



We just returned from the AMA Conference: Analytics With Purpose, held in Scottsdale earlier this week. This was Xcelacore’s first time sponsoring an AMA event and we were honored to represent the business. This was a great opportunity to hear from industry experts on best practices and learn what other leading companies like AOL, American Cancer Society, Charles Schwab, and IBM are working on (not to mention the great Superbowl party!).

Most importantly, it gave me a chance to meet other marketers and hear about their challenges. Many of the attendees I talked to were there to learn more about analytics and then apply them at their companies. An important pattern I noticed was that many marketers are struggling to figure out where to start with analytics and digital marketing technologies. Some have pieces of the puzzle in place, but not everything is connected. Others are further along. Every company is at a different place in the maturity curve for implementing and using marketing technologies.

But the common theme is the lack of resources and expertise internally to get where they want to be. Almost everyone talked about realizing the importance of having the right tools (including digital analytics) in place to be more efficient and informed on how their marketing activities are performing. So that left me wondering why enterprises aren’t allocating a bigger budget to make it happen. Why wouldn’t you want to have visibility into your marketing activities’ success and ROI?

I have some theories on this, having run marketing organizations in previous roles. But I would love to hear from you directly. Write me at mansoor@xcelacore.com and we can exchange some ideas on this topic.





Client Highlight: DJ’s Sports Bar and Grill



Just a little over a year ago, we acquired DJ’s Sports Bar & Grill as a client. For the past year, we have been posting and monitoring all of DJ’s social media pages (FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterestGoogle+Yelp, and Foursquare). Our main objectives with DJ’s has been to boost interactiveness on social media and increase venue popularity during lunch hours. We have found that a good amount of potential and current customers are on social media; after testing the waters this year, so to speak, we have found what this audience wants to see on social media. By doing this, we have created a voice and steady following for DJ’s Sports Bar & Grill.
We have launched several different social media campaigns throughout this year, including the #DJsGram campaign, which produced high visibility, due to the interactiveness (“likes”, comments, shares, etc.). The campaign involved an Instagram cardboard cutout that customers at DJ’s could take pictures with (see picture below). To boost interactiveness, we created an incentive for customers to take a picture with the cutout and post it on social media; each week we would announce the winner of a $20 DJ’s gift card, for posting the most unique picture to social media. These pictures provided us with organic content for our viewers and it produced high visibility – each time someone posted a picture with the cutout, it was subliminal advertising.

Each month we analyze the analytics to find what is working and what is not, in order to better apply our tools. This month we have looked back on the past year to see the growth of the restaurant’s social media popularity. We have found the following for the top three social media platforms:

 

The increase in social media activity has boosted interactiveness and sales, according to business owner, Tracey Valerio. Tracey explains that, “Since hiring Xcelacore to handle all my social media needs I have seen an increase in sales (specifically in the areas we were trying to improve, therefore targeted.) Also, as we are a local business we see a lot of “regulars” and we have seen an increase in 1st time customers. I can see by my monthly reports how effective they are by seeing the posts, reviews, and interaction within each social media site.” She continues by noting, “The number one benefit for me is that I don’t have to spend hours of my day or hire a full time employee to monitor all these sites for reviews and interactions. I also seem to have a higher ranking on Google as some new customers tell us that is how they found us.”

We’re excited about working with our new clients and looking forward to work with other businesses. Contact hello@xcelacore.com to schedule a consultation.





Email Marketing: Connecting Your Email Marketing Provider to Google Analytics



Setting up your digital infrastructure is very important for any business, but it is also fairly complicated when starting off. First of all, you need to select a email provider. For small business, Mailchimp and Constant Contact are great options. For enterprise, ExactTarget and Silverpop are more appropriate options. Next, Google Analytics needs to be set up to run on your website and configured for conversions. Your on your way to being a digital rock star. You start your newsletter campaigns hoping to see all the email traffic you have generated only to realize that your GA report is not showing email traffic. Figure 1 shows a channel report from Google Analytics. The third entry per the image below should should you how much traffic you have gained from email. But if you haven’t properly integrated the two platforms, all the traffic may be classified as direct and you’ll never know the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

Figure 1

 

 

So, how do you solve? It’s different in each platform but generally configuring the platform requires some form of administrative setup to use the google analytics campaign variables. As a quick review, below is a list of the Google Analytics campaign variables that you have the option of setting on each email, link you would like to track: More information is available at https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033867?hl=en

 

In ExactTarget, when you start the engagement, it’s critical that you tell your account rep that you want a link similar to the following set for your account: ?utm_source=exacttarget&utm_medium=email. This will ensure base level reporting so that Google Analytics can identify the source and medium of your emails. To take it a step further, you will need to look further at configuring the ExactTarget web connector for configuring campaign and email level data. More information can be found here: https://help.marketingcloud.com/en/documentation/integrated_products__crm_and_web_analytic_solutions/web_analytics_connector/ .

 

In Silverpop, the setup is very similar except you won’t need help from an account rep to make the update. You can use the following documentation to create an append string that will be concatenated to every email. Use the following documentaiton https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SSTSRG/Step_1_Configure_the_Append_String.html. More advanced setup such as campaign name passing is also available.

 

To keep this short, I will also quickly provide the links on how to how to make this integration work in both Constant Contact and MailChimp. Please review and feel free to reach out with any questions.

 

Constant Contact: http://support2.constantcontact.com/articles/FAQ/2687#Add

Mailchimp:http://kb.mailchimp.com/integrations/e-commerce/integrate-google-analytics-with-mailchimp

 

In summary, I can’t state the importance of making sure your email marketing platform and Google Analytics are integrated and working correctly together. If you’re going to be a digital marketing rockstar, you’ll need to take these steps to complete this configuration.





Client Highlight: Leib and Associates



Xcelacore has been working with Leib and Associates since the Spring of 2015. Leib and Associates is a manufacturers’ representative for the lighting industry offering an array of luminaire styles, genres and designs from lighting manufacturers and importers. Leib and Associates didn’t have an online social media presence or a website that portrayed their brand the way they desired. They needed a new website design, logo design, and to build a social media presence for their brand from scratch.

 

We evaluated the current client website and identified a fresh new look and feel for the new website design that was inline with the customer’s personality. Xcelacore created social media brand pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google +, and Houzz.

 

We also manage their daily social media posts and their email marketing. Additional strategy was put in place to engage their audience on social media with an ad budget to maximize their reach and engagement.

 

As a result of our partnership, the client sees consistent email marketing open rates of 44%, has growing social media platforms across all channels, and has an updated, brand reflective website for their customers to use as a guide to check stock, find new products, and stay current with their business.





Do I need an app for that?



As technology and business leaders, many of us have been part of a decision around building new technology solutions to create new services or products. In this mobile-first era, one of the first questions you are challenged with is – do we need an App for that? Or can this service or product can utilize just the mobile web version?

We all wish this was an easy yes or no answer. But the answer may be much simpler than you think. There are 3 main criteria you need to consider that will help you make the decision.

 

#1 – Application feature set

If your product needs built-in phone features like GPS, Accelerometer, Contacts, Push Notification, etc., then you will need to build an app. From the technological advancement with HTML5, some of the phone features can be accessed so you may be able to get away with only a mobile web version. You will need to research the specific feature set requirements with what is possible to do within HTML5.

If the answer is – yes, I have to use phone features that are not available through HTML5, then your decision is made, no need to read further!

 

#2 – Audience

Just because a customer downloaded your app does not mean that they will be using the app for life, or even at all. The data shows that people actively use only 5-7 apps in a given month. Unless there is a compelling need for the users to download the app, they will not.

Again, your answer here will determine what direction you take.

 

#3 – Resources

Since you have read it this far, the assumption is that the decision is still pending. Developing a mobile app is a skillset that not all developers hold. You should carefully evaluate the resources at your disposal in making the decision. Not only do you have to build an app (possibly on multiple platforms – iOS, Android, Windows), but you also must manage and maintain it. You should consider the total cost of ownership as you make this decision.

In conclusion, whether you build an app or not, you will need to develop a solution that is mobile responsive at the least.

 

Sincerely, The Xcelacore Team