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Organizing your marketing tech stack

Figuring out how to organize your marketing stack is almost like putting together a 1,000 piece blank jigsaw puzzle — impossible.

A Q1 ‘17 survey by CMO Council and RedPoint Global revealed only 3% of respondents felt all of their automation, engagement and deployment tools were fully connected, with data, metrics and insights traveling freely between different technologies.

This stat was staggering to me. Rather than just sit on my hands I’ve put together this infographic, which will help marketers better make sense on how to potentially organize these tools and get closer to achieving cross-channel marketing nirvana.

Organize and focus your team:

You need a team that is organized and led at the level of the New England Patriots. Both your quant marketers and creative teams need systems and processes that help foster trust, harmony, commitment, accountability and orientation towards results (check out The 5 Dysfunctions of Team for more). Marketing specific collaboration tools are taking stabs at addressing these needs and should be incorporated into how you organize your teams.

Know your message:

It’s very easy to get lost in all the process and organization of marketing and totally lose track of the appropriate message you should be communicating to your target customer. Don’t fall into this trap! Put content first as all the effort you put into everything else will be wasted if you fail in crafting the right message. There are a lot of tools that can help you work through the content creation process.

Establish an Intelligence Hub:

Create one centralized view of the customer and apply analytics, data science and orchestration against it so you can enable advanced communication. This is the heart of integrating most of your tools. Create sophisticated automation orchestrating messages within and across channels. Keep in mind your approach should allow for 1 to 1, 1 to many and 1 to all forms of messaging.

At Upfront, we recently invested in Cordial which aims to take this approach allowing marketers to take disparate data sources and create advanced marketing automation campaigns across all the dominant messaging channels in this type of manner. It’s something that’s been incredibly difficult to do with legacy systems until now.

Master the basic channels first:

While there are many exciting new types of marketing campaigns to drive growth, core channels such as email, social, web, search and offline still should be the main centers of focus for marketers. Be careful about getting distracted by next gen tactics like chatbots or VR if you haven’t even figured out the simple channels of reach.

Always be testing:

Invest in tools that test and optimize the performance of existing channels. You should always be searching for incremental lift in every tactic and tool you employ. If you fail in creating a test driven culture it will be very difficult to understand whether some of your new initiatives are really helping or hurting.

Wow the customer:

Focus on the customer experience and strive to make it a magical one. Leverage all data and insights available in order to delight the customer. However, don’t be afraid from time to time to take radical chances by throwing all customer feedback out the door and surprise them with something transformational that they never would expect. Its those types of moments that separate good marketers from great ones.

Keep in mind that this overview is just that — an overview (it’s a lot in some places and over-simplified in others). How you will digest all of this information will, in part, depend upon your expertise. If you’re just starting out, take it slow and don’t get overwhelmed. If you’re an expert, send along some feedback on how this can be improved (there’s an interactive version coming!).

What’s important to remember is that there has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer — and technology is playing a pivotal part in fostering better relationships with customers.



How to Add a Link to Your Instagram Stories

Do you want to drive more Instagram traffic to your website?

Wondering how to create swipeable Instagram Stories links?

In this article, you’ll discover how to add links to your Instagram stories and find ways to incorporate story links into your Instagram marketing.

How to Add a Link to Your Instagram Stories by Jenn Herman on Social Media Examiner.

Who Has Access to Adding Links in Instagram Stories?

Like many marketing features on Instagram, clickable links in stories were rolled out first to verified accounts. In May 2017, however, Instagram began quietly expanding this feature to more marketers on the platform. Clickable stories links are now also available to business profiles (not personal profiles) that have over 10,000 followers on Instagram.

There doesn’t appear to be any geographic restrictions to clickable stories links, and as the feature gains in popularity and usage, we can hope Instagram will continue to roll this feature out to even more users.

Adding a link to your Instagram story is easy to do in just a few quick steps!

#1: Start Your Instagram Story

You can take an image or video directly within the Instagram Stories app or swipe up on the Story screen to import any image taken within the last 24 hours.

#2: Add the Link URL

To add your link, click on the chain link icon at the top of your story.

The chain link icon appears at the top of the Story page to add a clickable URL.

The chain link icon appears at the top of the Story page to add a clickable URL.

A new window will appear on your screen, allowing you to input the link destination of your choice. Type in the complete URL address and tap on the green check mark (on Android) or “Done” (on iOS) to save the link.

The URL page will allow you to type in the link for any web page to which you want to send your audience.

The URL page will allow you to type in the link for any web page to which you want to send your audience.

Instagram Story analytics do not currently track URL clicks, so to measure your traffic and conversions, you’ll want to use a link that you can track separately. I recommend you use a link shortener such as or to create a shortened URL you can track metrics with.

Once you’ve successfully linked a URL to your story, the chain link icon will appear highlighted to indicate your story has a link.

The chain link icon on the story is highlighted when a URL is successfully linked.

The chain link icon on the story is highlighted when a URL is successfully linked.

#3: Continue Editing Your Story

Add any other content including text, stickers, and filters to your story, then upload it to your profile as you would any other story.

I highly recommend you include a call to action (CTA) in your story text to direct your viewers to access the link. Common CTAs include “Swipe up to see more” or “Tap ‘See More’ to visit our website.”

How Your Followers Can View Your Story With a Link

When people on Instagram view one of your story posts that includes a link, they’ll see the See More option at the bottom of the screen.

Viewers will see the See More option at the bottom of a story post when a link has been added.

Viewers will see the See More option at the bottom of a story post when a link has been added.

While the See More prompt is clearly visible, some viewers may not notice it if they aren’t looking for it. Less-frequent users of Instagram may not even know to look for it, which is why it’s prudent to include a CTA as shown in the figure above.

Effective Ways to Use Links In Your Instagram Stories

Given that adding links to stories is currently the only way to add a specific link to any single post on Instagram, marketers may get over-zealous and add too many links too frequently.

Depending on the number of posts in your full story, you may want to include one or two posts with clickable links to the entire story collection. For example, if your story is a series of three or four posts, only one should have the link. If your story has six to eight posts, you can include the link in two of those posts.

And remember, not every story collection needs to include a link. As a marketer, you must ensure that the link you provide adds value and context to your story in a way that benefits the viewer.

Here are a few creative ways to add links to your stories and benefit your viewers:

Drive Traffic to Your Blog Posts

If you incorporate a blog into your marketing strategy, you know the value of sharing that new blog post in as many places as possible. With links in Instagram Stories, not only can you alert people to the fact that you have a new blog post up, but you can include a link directly to that blog post.

Promote new blog posts with a call to action in your Instagram stories.

Promote new blog posts with a call to action in your Instagram stories.

Complete Your Tutorial or DIY Stories

If you’re using Instagram Stories to share tutorials or DIY tips with your audience, you may want to include a link to your website, with the complete instructions, at the end of the story.

For example, if you share a recipe with your audience, the first post may be the finished dish, the next couple of posts would show scenes from the preparation process, and the final post in the story could show the plated dish with a call to action to Swipe Up to get the complete recipe from your website.

Unveil Exclusive Content

A creative way to use story URLs is to tease your audience with something they want to see more of.

Zach King shared an Instagram story to announce the winners of a recent contest, but viewers had to swipe up to see the list of winners on a page on his website.

Use teasers like Zach King did to encourage your audience to visit your website for something of interest.

Use teasers like Zach King did to encourage your audience to visit your website for something of interest.

This tactic also works well to reveal exclusive information, sneak peeks at new products or projects, or bloopers from a recent video shoot. Get creative in your approach to teasing your audience!

Promote Your Products or Services

Of course, if you have a product or service to promote, you’ll want to share that to your Instagram stories. Like most social media tactics, this is perfectly acceptable when used in moderation. Not every story should be used to promote a product or service.

If you do choose to use clickable links in stories to promote your products, you should also use links for some of the other tactics listed here. This ensures that your audience won’t assume you’re selling to them every time they see a link in your story.

If you’re going to promote a product or service or do a promotional campaign, keep it fun and styled similarly to how your stories typically appear.

When using links to promote products or services in your Instagram stories, keep the style of your post the same as your other stories.

When using links to promote products or services in your Instagram stories, keep the style of your post the same as your other stories.


This clickable link feature has been highly anticipated by many marketers who’ve been looking for more ways to drive traffic from Instagram. When used effectively and creatively, marketers who have access to this feature will definitely be able to increase website traffic.

What do you think? Are you excited to use clickable links in your Instagram stories? Or have you already? Please share your thoughts or lessons learned in the comments below.

4 Ways Small Businesses Can Master Marketing

Don’t let your fear of failure keep you from launching your small business.

We often hear from our customers that it had always been their dream to own a business – whether that’s opening their own store or starting their own restaurant. Like most entrepreneurs, the goal is to turn a passion into a career.

However, many people are held back by the fear that they won’t be able to manage their business successfully. It takes a leap of faith to open a new business, and it takes business savvy to keep it open. In a series of posts, I’ll explore common challenges small business owners face and how to solve it.

Related: 10 Things You Need to Learn From Apple’s Marketing

One of the first hurdles a small business owner faces is getting the word out about her new business. Or, if the business is established, growing the business and attracting new customers. At the heart of driving sales is marketing. For business owners without marketing experience, this can seem overwhelming. The good news is there is a lot a small business owner can do to market a business easily and efficiently.

1. Define your unique value proposition (UVP).

The first step in marketing a business effectively is understanding your capabilities and the white space your business is filling in your industry.

Inevitably, you will face competition, so take the time to outline what sets you apart from your competitors. Become as informed as possible on your industry. Sign up for industry newsletters; read relevant trade publications; and consider participating in industry events. This will allow you to identify trends, and stay up-to-date with important news. It will also help you identify your competitors. Take a close look at what they are doing and how they present themselves to potential customers.

Then determine who your target customers are and what they want. This is important – one of the biggest small business marketing pitfalls is to assume you know your customer without doing research.

Clearly identify the service you are providing and the problem you are solving for your target customers. This will help you define your UVP – the unique benefit you are providing for your customers.

You’re not trying to sell to everyone, which is a good thing. Your goal is to clearly define who you are targeting, why they want your product and how best to reach them. Once you know that, your job is to consistently execute your marketing plan.

2. Maximize your online presence.

Armed with a clear understanding of your business and its industry, it’s time to market it to potential customers.

While there are many marketing channels to consider, typically the most efficient and cost-effective are online.

Take time to audit your online presence. An easy place to start is your website. Make sure the website design is consistent with your brand and that the site is easy for customers to navigate, and find the information they’re looking for.

If it’s appropriate for your business, make it easy for customers to sign up for a mailing list. This will enable you to build a database of customers, who give you permission to reach out to them regularly with product updates, interesting news or coupons.

In addition to listing your products or services, consider adding a blog to your website to provide tips and product or service updates to customers.

Beyond your own website, be sure to build your presence on and spend time managing review sites, like Yelp and Angie’s List. These help validate your business and can boost sales. You can even share good customer reviews on your website.

Whether you’re communicating via your website, a blog, an email, a third party review site or social media, be sure to keep a consistent voice. Every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to build your brand.

Related: 4 Low-Cost Marketing Strategies Every Business Should Know

3. Start a conversation.

Social media channels are a low-cost way to get the word out about your business and build relationships with your target audience.

Choose a channel, which your customers are already on. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn serve very different purposes, so be smart in your choices, and think about the kind of content you like to post. Using platforms specific to your business makes it easy for customers to find and interact with your business online.

When it comes to posting on social media, consistency is key.

Create a schedule to ensure you are posting regularly so your audience knows to expect content. For example, plan for three posts a week, which you can draft in advance.

In order to keep content dynamic, take a three-prong approach:

  1. Talk about yourself and your business,
  2. Talk about your customers,
  3. And talk about your industry.

Share updates about what’s happening at your business, such as a new shipment you’ve received or a peek behind the scenes. Be sure to thank your customers, and engage them through questions.

Finally, share interesting news articles, and invite your social media followers to share their thoughts. In all social media posts, make sure you’re authentic and realistic so your audience can connect with you.

4. Consider paid content.

The paid aspects of social media can also be a great way to boost your business’ profile, and get in front of new customers.

For instance, you can target the exact type of customer you are looking to attract with advertising through Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns, based on the information individuals have shared on their profiles.

Related: 10 Free Marketing Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Know About

If you have the ability to incorporate this tailored approach into your budget and cash flow, it is an option worth exploring to supplement your free social media efforts. Sometimes a small campaign can make a big difference.

Regardless of size, every business owner can use the tools available to market their business successfully. Small business owners can be their own CMO, even without a marketing background, by developing a keen awareness of their industry landscape, building out their social media presence and developing their brand identity.


4 Marketing Ideas From the Fashion Industry Every Business Can Use

In order to succeed, fashion brands have no choice but to be creative.

Fashion is one of the most cutthroat industries. Famous fashion brands compete not only with each other but with smaller and younger brands. What’s more, today’s customers, and especially fashion customers, have become more demanding. They don’t want to buy just a product — they want to buy a story, a lifestyle, emotions. They want to be surprised and be a part of something bigger.

Related: Tory Burch Says Inspiring Entrepreneurs Share These 3 Qualities

In order to succeed, brands have no choice but to suit the customer’s request. They have to be creative. Therefore, they test every single marketing tactic, trying the latest trends. And that is the reason fashion marketing is so awesome.

Let’s look at some marketing tactics the fashion world is using already.

Unexpected collaborations

Collaboration is all about attracting a new audience, and fashion brands have had great success. We’ve already witnessed H&M, known as a mass market brand, make collections in collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld, Kenzo and other high fashion brands. Or Nike, for example: The sports giant surprisingly collaborated with luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

One of the most surprising collections came from Adidas. In partnership with Stella McCartney and the organization Parley for the Oceans, Adidas made a unique swimsuit collection. The crucial thing about it is the fact that the garments are made of refined oceanic litter.

We see that fashion brands successfully combine things that look different: wearable and unwearable, mass-market and elite, sports and fashion. Why are they doing it? They make a new product that fits a new audience. That is an excellent way to extend both a product line and a brand’s audience.

Related: The 15 Companies Are Bringing Tech to Fashion

Celebrity endorsements

Again, it’s all about finding the new audience. The whole concept of using celebrity to promote a business is not new. The idea is quite simple: Celebrities’ fans adore them and trust their opinion and choice. That’s why when a brand uses a celebrity in its advertising it gets more than a new audience — it gets a loyal audience. Although those in the fashion industry may be celebrities themselves, they still invite big names from different spheres to be advocates for brands. For example, Puma made Rihanna the creative director of its women’s collections. And this tactic doesn’t only work for retail. The Bank of Georgia invited a famous blogger to participate in its Christmas campaign. What did the bank get? Worldwide attention, audience and engagement growth across all social channels, and as a result, massive PR.

Related: Small Business Marketing Tips for 6 Industries

Newsjacking marketing

The term “newsjacking” was popularized thanks to David Meerman Scott’s book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas Into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Newsjacking means that the company uses hot news or a trending topic to draw audience attention to the brand. Fashion brands have gone even further. They use hot political trends and put political slogans on clothes. These “political” collections were demonstrated throughout New York Fashion Week by several brands such as Prabal Gurung, Creatures of Comfort, Opening Ceremony and Alice + Olivia. For example, The Row embroidered the words like “freedom and “hope” on certain pieces, and Public School used a play on Donald Trump’s famous red hat.

This move gets the fashion brands opportunity to get the attention of a very new kind of audience — young and politically engaged people. What’s more, these collections were wildly written about not in fashion but in political media, so the brand gets broader media coverage.

There are a lot of news, ideas and events happening every day. The trick is to pick a relevant topic and use it to draw attention to your brand.

Related: 3 Marketing Hacks for the Struggling Startup


The main benefit fashion retail gets from livestreaming is the audience. Live video helps brands reach millions of people. Moreover, thanks to livestreaming, the biggest industry event — fashion week — is no longer elite and a closed-door event. Everyone can watch the show in real-time. And this is the right way to expand the brand’s audience. Although every single guest of the event can make a live video on their own channels, fashion weeks have their own, official channels. They announce and promote these channels before the event has happened, on all social channels, and redirect the social audience to the official website.

The audience, meanwhile, adores live video. For example, let’s look at the incredible spikes of engagement on Louis Vuitton’s Instagram page. That day, a livestreaming of the Men’s Fall-Winter 2017 collection at Paris Fashion Week was announced. As soon as the brand mentioned a live video, engagement tripled.

louis vuitton live video graphImage credit SEMrush


10 Current Trends in Digital Marketing That You Should Think About

 If you are a search engine optimizer or a digital marketer, you should always be up to date with the current trends in the world of digital marketing. The nature of the world of digital marketing is such that it changes overnight. The trend which was taking the world by storm yesterday might not hold the same value and power today.

Everything in this world is fast paced, which means that you need to grasp every change as quickly as possible. In this article, we are going to look at 10 current trends in digital marketing that you should think about.

1. Video Domination

Videos are getting more popular these days. Whether it is Facebook or even on Instagram, videos are getting more views than regular and image based posts. Also, it is easier for you track the success of a video campaign as many companies tell you how many people have watched your videos, where the data is not that clear in terms of regular creative.

You should definitely take the advantage of video marketing for your campaigns. If done perfectly, a video advertise can be way more effective than a regular creative based ad like old school methods.

2. Paid Advertisement

Gone are those days when you could reach thousands of people with organic reach. Unless you rank your website on the first page of Google for keywords, it is not possible for someone to get reach a lot of people without paid advertisement. Paid advertisement is still cheaper than the traditional way of analog marketing and you should definitely take that advantage. The price is always increasing so it will be better for you if you can start early. Especially, some new social media websites are way cheaper than they should be and as a company, you should take that advantage.

3. Creative Content

Creativity is now the deciding factor of whether someone will engage with your post or not. Engagement is the first priority that you look for because when someone engages with your creativity, it is an indication that they are interested about the product. A complete marketing budget might go to waste if you are not spending enough for the creative part of it whether it is an image or a video.

4. Tougher Google Guidelines

Google has changed a lot over the years. It is tougher today than it ever was to rank a website. You have to do things right to make sure that you are ranking your website. Whether you go white hat or black hat about the process, it has to be carefully executed to see the best results. Also, with all the Google penalties, it is easier now than ever to receive a penalty on your website. Therefore, you will have to stay extra careful.

5. Value of Engagement

It is important that you engage with your customers in every way possible. Always reply to their comments on your social media pages including YouTube videos. Appoint someone to interact with them if possible. Also, if you are uploading blog posts regularly on your website then you should encourage your readers to ask you questions in the comments. Engagement now plays a big role, both as a social proof and as a SEO method.

6. Staying Away from Scam

As the internet is becomes mature, more and more scams are happening around. We already know about the hacking attempts that are dominating the world these days, but there are scams in the world of marketing too. Make sure that you are using the right marketing tools and right equipment to avoid issues. There are companies who have faced lawsuits due to using copyright protected image, music or videos that they bought from a company and thought it was original.

7. Growth of Crypto Currency

Crypto currencies like Bitcoin have already started to rise and it seems like this industry is going to keep on growing in future. There are a lot of benefits that crypto currencies offer, including borderless transactions and no fee model while transacting money. Apart from that, you also get the option to stay anonymous while transferring the payment. A lot of companies have already started taking payment via bitcoin and it is going to keep on increasing.

8. 360 Marketing

Gone are those days when you could get your desired number of traffic using just one method or style of marketing. Now, you have to opt for a 360-degree campaign. Your desired customer has to see you everywhere before you get his or her lead or sale. Therefore, try not to keep any stone unturned when it is a marketing campaign. Target all social media and do not forget about Google Adwords or YouTube Advertisement either.

9. SEO Has Changed

If you are operating your website like it is still 2011 then you are missing out a lot of traffic. SEO has changed a lot over the years and it is a completely different game today. There are more than 200 ranking factors that Google now looks at to rank a website. You have to make sure that you are dominating most of them to hit it right. SEO is also a long term marketing style now so you should not expect the result of your SEO campaigns overnight.

10. VR & Voice

The world of virtual reality and voice based operation are slowly getting into the market. We have already seen products like Google Home or Amazon Echo that are working in the voice operated industry. There is a chance that both virtual reality and voice based communications are going to take over the traditional world of marketing in a few years from today.

If you can follow these 10 steps perfectly, then there will be no problem in promoting your company or a campaign perfectly.


Digital marketing tips for start-ups

Digital marketing is one of those buzzwords that everyone says you need to know about if you’re going to run a successful business. But how can you make sure you’re getting it right? Emma Gribben, founder of Digital by Emma, shared some tips on the Virgin Media Business VOOM Tour in Belfast recently…

“You know your business inside out, but do your customers?” Emma asked at the start of her talk. “No. So you need to tell them.”

But, she said, you need to tell them in a way that they understand, on channels that they use, and in your own language. “You need to understand who your target market is and the channels they are using,” Emma said, and recommended: “Be yourself. Be your company. Be very clear about your tone of voice.”

Where do you start?

1. Own your space

Emma said that you need to make sure you own your brand name on Google – and to make sure that you’re on top of what people are saying about your brand online. “You want to put your competitors onto page two of search results,” she said.

2. Know your audience

Obviously you need to know who your target market is for your business – but you also need to work out who you’re targeting online. Target market profiling can help you to work out what that person looks like – and where they are active online. Then once you’ve done that, Emma said, “it becomes clear what the questions people have about your business are” – and then you can work on answering them.

3. Create an experience

Marketing of all kinds is about creating an experience and with digital the scope is even greater, with technology enabling you to do so much more. “Give [your audience] something new and exciting,” Emma said. “We are consuming digital content all the time so you need to find what is unique about your business.”

How do you do it?

Mobile first is the real key here. People use their mobiles to surf the internet more than they use tablets, laptops or desktop computers now so you need to make sure that mobile is your priority when you’re creating anything digital. Emma said: “Start with mobile and build it from there. If you are not mobile optimised you will lose out.”

When creating your mobile first website though, it’s important that you only include the necessary information. Don’t overload your pages with too much – keep it simple, Emma recommended.

Once you’ve created your site, Emma said it’s important to test it and make sure that it works properly and isn’t loading really slowly on mobile. She recommended using Google’s testing site,, to see how your website performs.

For more expert advice for small businesses, check out the Virgin Media Business VOOM Tour. Visiting cities across the UK and Ireland, the VOOM Tour is offering free advice for entrepreneurs in everything from funding to marketing to PR. The next stop is in Newcastle on July 6th, find out more on the Virgin Media Business website.


How to Improve SEO for Your Small Business

Businesses of the 21st century are all connected to the digital market. Not all marketing and business relationships should be digital, but digital marketing boasts proven results in growing retention with your clients and community. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is an integral part of any digital marketing strategy. It is a crucial element in organically driving customers to your businesses via online platforms. In other words, it’s modern day marketing!

Take a look at these ways to increase that foot traffic using search engines that are more conducive to small businesses without big box SEO budgets.

Google this and Google that

If you look up the definition of “search engine” in the dictionary, you’ll probably find the word ‘Google’ somewhere in that definition. For many, “search engine” is synonymous with Google. Google is one of the masterminds in online searchability. Therefore, this search engine is an important gateway in helping your business be found through being searched for on the web. However, Google is not the only search engine out there! By limiting your SEO efforts to Google, you might be missing out on some great opportunities for small business growth.

Think local

There’s nothing like your own community. It’s where you live, where you experience the joys and bumps of life. It’s home. If you want your small business to shine, you need to set your eyes on a local presence. When it comes to marketing strategies for your small business, local SEO is the first avenue on that road. There are many different search engines on a local level that can get your small business found by the people who are looking to experience what you have.

1. Strengthen your Yelp presence

Major search engines index Yelp listings in their algorithms. So, setting up an active Yelp profile and utilizing keywords will get you on the market as an operating business in the area. Yelp is the Yellow Pages of our time, including content like detailed contact information, reviews, maps and photos. Yelp averages about 145 million views each month, and 70 percent of those come from mobile. This goes to show that many people are searching for local places while on the go, making their decisions based on Yelp listings.

To start, you want to make sure your Yelp page is aesthetically pleasing. The reason is simple: you need to get people in the door so that they can write you a review. The number one factor in Yelp’s results ranking system is reviews. So inviting people into your store, and winning that positive review, is crucial in developing a high ranking on Yelp.

A successful marketing strategy many small businesses are adopting to strengthen their Yelp presence is mobile marketing via mobile apps. For example, small businesses use geofencing to send out push notifications to ask customers to leave a Yelp review while they are in their establishment. The best time to prompt your customers to leave a review is after a great experience with your business. So why not after they have enjoyed an incredible meal?

There’s nothing like marketing in the minute. Just ask In a Pickle, a Walton Massachusetts restaurant. The eatery attributes 30-40 percent of its new business to its 173 Yelp reviews and its 4.5-star rating.

2. Stay engaged on social media

Social media plays a huge role in your business’s online visibility. According to TechCrunch, Facebook sees 2 billion search queries every day, so it’s not something you want to overlook when you are thinking about being relevant in the digital community.

The key to boosting that visibility and SEO is staying active. For many small businesses, staying active on all the different channels can be a real challenge. There are a few ways you can combat this.

  • Post meaningful information
    • Updates on product releases
    • News about trends in your industry
    • Customer success stories
    • Promotions
    • Giveaways
    • Product demonstrations
  • Limit your channels
    The first thing to remember about social media is that the goal is retention. So, the first question you need to ask yourself is “What social media channels do my current customers frequent?” Then, you can develop the right SEO and marketing strategies for those channels. Simply put, you don’t need to grow a Pinterest following if your customers are not on Pinterest.
  • Socialize with your customers
    One thing that’s often overlooked by small businesses is the idea of customer engagement. It’s not enough to only post on social media; you also must actively engage with your followers. This means making sure you offer genuine responses to comments rather than canned comments. In fact, studies show that 67 percent of customers use a business’s social media channel as a means of customer service. So, if you’re giving canned answers, you could be doing more harm than good.
  • Use a social media monitoring program
    It’s important to maintain and manage your chosen social media channels, and of course there’s an app for that. Hootsuite, TweetReach, Klout, and Buffer are all great and free programs will allow you to schedule your content ahead of time, as well as notify you when people interact with your social media profile. Many of them even come with mobile applications that offer you the opportunity to respond to comments on the go.

You can learn a lot about using social media as an SEO tool from Red Mango. The company boasts over 76K Facebook followers and 54K Twitter followers. The marketing team uses three powerful techniques to keep their business visible in the eyes of its potential customers: customer engagement, product promotion and quality visuals.

3. Get video savvy with YouTube

Not everyone is ready to buy products or make a decision about which product to purchase. There are many steps in the buying process, and it’s important to make your business available on the channels that complement those steps.

Some customers want to see how to use a product before they purchase it. Other’s are looking for advice about a product or service. When visuals, tutorials, or demonstrations are in demand, YouTube is the best search engine for the job. In fact, it’s the second largest search engine, next to Google, filtering over 3 billion search queries each month. If that’s not enough to convince you, 59 percent of people would rather watch a video than read a product review, a blog post, or even a social media feed.

Remember, it’s not always about selling. In order to grow your YouTube channel and achieve brand loyalty, you need to show that you’re an expert in your niche. Creating “How To” Videos is a great way to show customers you know the ins and out of your area of expertise.

Here are a few ways to get your business noticed on YouTube:

  • Keep it short
  • Add a quality description
  • Create a descriptive title
  • Use Annotations
  • Link your videos together
  • Add tags
  • Use thumbnails
  • Engage with views

Creating a video is not hard! All you need is a camera and a basic editing software. You can certainly find a How To YouTube video that guides you through the process. It’s an inexpensive way to cultivate an online presence. It’s also an excellent local SEO marketing strategy that’ll help you increase customer acquisition.

There’s always power in creativity as well. This is the approach BlendTec took, and it has earned them 775,000 subscribers and over 1 million views. The company created a show called, “Will it Blend?” And, it literally tried to blend anything that would seem impossible to blend. The comedy and enjoyment led loyal followers to purchase high quality blenders from BlendTec. After 10 years of “Will it Blend” episodes, the company reports 1000% increase in sales that are directly related to its YouTube SEO efforts.

4. Answer questions on Quora

Quora’s 190 million users consist of industry experts actively engaging with their potential customers by answering industry specific questions. It’s quickly becoming the go-to place for finding answers to any intellectual and relevant question you can think of. Thus, it’s a search engine for those people looking for answers to very specific questions. The key to capitalizing on the benefits Quora has for your business is to answer questions and showcase your knowledge about your niche.

With any SEO strategy, the goal is to optimize your online presence and create more visibility for your business. This is easily achieved when you think of Quora as a search engine for your business.

  • You will be reaching your targeted audience where they are seeking answers.
  • You will be strengthening your reputation among peers and customers.
  • You can easily promote your website and your content.

Quora played a large role in the growth of a small technology marketing firm owned by Gail Dempsey. Dempsey credits Quora for increased traffic to her website because she answered industry specific questions about topics and linked back to blogs on her website that address similar industry issues.

One thing you need to remember if you are using Quora as a search engine is that it’s not a place to offer salesy type language and promote your business. It’s a search engine that is geared at customer retention. You offer valuable knowledge to the community, and because of the value you provide, people seek you out because they trust what you have to offer.


Digital Marketing Agency Kotton Grammer’s Meteoric Rise To Fame

Agency For Digital Marketing Services


Image via Shutterstock

I wanted to convey a tale of epic proportions. It’s a story about heartbreaking failure and earth-shattering defeat. It’s a unique spin on the proverbial American Dream for one individual who decided that a life of mediocrity wasn’t for him. However, it’s a journey that spans over a decade, one that left Kotton Grammer homeless near the end, defeated and at the end of his rope. Little did he know that he would go on to found one of the most successful digital marketing agencies on the planet.

However, before I relay this modern-day fable, I wanted to ensure that it conveyed a sense of hope and prosperity for people who might be struggling to achieve their goals. The shackles of the 9-to-5 rat race have certainly ensnared a large degree of our population in a sense of paycheck-to-paycheck hopelessness and despair. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel for those that stay persistent. And Grammer is a true testament to that.

Kotton Grammer

Kotton Grammer

Image via Kotton Grammer

Kotton Grammer’s story exists thanks in large part to the ever-pervading connectivity that binds us all. In this digital ether called the internet, we live, work and communicate with others on such a massive scale that it boggles even the most astute mind. Although we all exist in this world as consumers of media, very few are able to wield a vast amount of influence to capitalize and invest in themselves to create explosive results.

If you take a glimpse at the beginnings of Grammer’s story, in large part, it’s very much similar to the tale of countless other souls on this planet. For a great deal of his life, Grammer worked as an employee, consulting for corporations in the bustling metropolis of St. Louis. He spent a decade in that career, but somewhere, deep down inside, he knew that there was more to life than struggling in a job that slowly lost its luster year after year.

At the time, Grammer knew very little about digital marketing. It was simply the 800-pound gorilla in the room, a behemoth that he was well aware of but reluctant to tackle head on. In a string of very unfortunate incidents, and after his Grandmother got sick, Grammer took the opportunity to take a leave from work, one that spanned nearly 12 months. During that time, his life slowly dwindled down and deteriorated, leaving him morally, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt.

As Grammer’s financial situation diminished, and his grandmother was on her deathbed, his then-girlfriend, who had apparently been cheating on him for the past year-and-a-half, began to berate him, telling him that he was useless and that he would never achieve his dreams. Grammer had often been vociferous with her that he would one day become a millionaire and be able to take care of her. Instead, when she kicked him out of the house they shared, not only was he broke and homeless, but his heart had also been shattered to pieces.

Forced to move in with his parents, Grammer fell into a massive depression. It was a period that brought an enormity of pain. To deal with it, he used the one asset that he could turn to: his mind. He engaged in something called future jumping. He would time travel in his mind, to meet his future self and to notice the differences. The present-him was broke and homeless but the future-him ran a billion dollar digital marketing agency, owned the building its name was on, and lived a lifestyle replete with the finer things in life.

The Five Digital Marketing Metrics That Will Drive Your Business in 2017

The Five Digital Marketing Metrics That Will Drive Your Business in 2017

In the world of digital marketing, the numbers tell the story.

Want to know if the time your are spending writing those clever Facebook posts is worth it?

Check the number of reactions, comments and shares you are getting and see how many of your “Fans” and their friends you are reaching.

Are your followers loving your tweets on Twitter? Check the number of retweets you are getting.

It seems like every action you take online has a COMPLETE analytics suite to support it.

That can be good, but it can also be a little – no A LOT – overwhelming!

I will confess, I am a “numbers guy”.

But, I will even admit that, after awhile, everything runs together and the value of any single “metric” starts to lose its meaning.

That’s why I focus on just 5 numbers, the 5 digital marketing metrics that will drive your business in 2017. 

Key Metric #1 – Page Behavior on Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a number lover’s nirvana. The problem is there are literally thousands of numbers to look at.

I go directly to a single screen to see how our website traffic as a whole, as well as any single individual page, is doing.

It’s the “All Pages” screen. Here’s the one for, one of our two websites.

You can get there by entering Google Analytics, then selecting the “Reporting” tab first and scrolling down and clicking on “Behavior”. Once there click on “Site Content” and then “All Pages”.

Look at the wealth of information!

I can see our top perfroming pages ranked by “Pageviews” and all of the key data on each. From there I can make decisions about what’s working, what’s not and what our community wants more (or less!) of.

For instance, from the data above I can see that two of our free offers are crushing it (#2 and #4) and that we might want to add a free offer on top Instagram Hashtags (that blog post received 63,000 pageviews and people spent, on average 10:01 on the page!)

Key Metric #2 – E-Mail Open Rates

What’s the point of spending all of the time and effort building an email list if the people on the list never open the emails that you send them?

Yes, email open rates are a critical metric that you should be intimately familiar with, but what’s a good open rate?

That’s a question I get asked A LOT!

My answer is “It depends”, and that answer usually drives people crazy! But, let me explain and you will see why.

So far in 2016 we have sent 65,823 “batches” of emails ranging from a single email to a single person to one reaching over 160,000 individual subscribers.

Our opens rates ranged from a low of 5% to a high of 68% with an average of about 14%.

The massive fluctuation is based on the segment of our entire subscriber base we choose for the mailing and the subject.

For instance, the results below are for a follow-up email we sent to people who signed up for and attended one of our open training webinars.

A whopping 48% of the subscribers opened the email and 15% actually clicked on one of the links in it.

Whereas just 11% of the subscribers receiving one of our recent newsletters opened it and just 2% clicked on a link.

However, the “top” performing email had 236 link clicks while the “bottom” performing one had 2,493!

My point?

Email open rates are a critical digital metric that will drive your business in 2017.

You need to become familiar enough with yours to understand what a good open rate is versus a bad one based on your business, your market and the type of emails you are sending to the different segments of your list.

Key Metric #3 – Facebook Post Engagement

Our Facebook Fan Page numbers are HUGE. We have 400,000 Fans and our posts typically reach 1,000,000 – 10,000,000 people per week.

However, in my opinion, those numbers don’t mean a thing!

What really matters is the number of people “engaging” (meaning reacting, commenting or sharing) with our Facebook posts.

As a rough comparison, the number of Facebook Fans you have is similar to the size of your email list. The number, or percentage of post engagements is similar to your email open rate and link clicks.

I know our posts for the week are particularly engaging when the post engagement rate (number of post engagements divided by Facebook Fans) is above 25%. In the screen shot above it’s 29%, which is pretty strong.

Key Metric #4 – Landing Page Conversion Rate

Is this a good landing page? By good, I mean high converting.

Let’s find out.

We have an absolute scale we measure our landing pages performance against.

If our landing page conversions rate (the number of people who complete the information divided by the number of people who land on the page) is under 30% we pull the page, work on it and try again.

From 30% to 50% is considered “average” for us and we leave the page up while we continue working on it.

Above 50% is considered “good” and we pore a disproportionate percentage of our Facebook Ads budget to promote is.

How do you calculate your landing page conversion rate? There are lots of ways. Google Tag Manager is free and pretty easy to set up.

We use Facebook Ads and fiind the two pieces of data we need in the Ads Manager dashboard.

The landing page conversion rate is simply the “Results” (the number of people who made it to the “Thank You” page) divided by the “Link Clicks” (the number of people who clicked the actual ad and were taken to the landing page).

In the example above ,the landing page conversion rate is w whopping 60.2% (5,231/8688).

So, the answer to my question is “Yes”, this is an exceptional landing page.

Key Metric #5 – Blog Social Sharing

We use a WordPress plugin (Social Warfare) to make sharing our blog content quick and easy.

How many people share our blog posts, and where, tells us the relative value of the information we are providing for our online community.

For instance, the realtively new post above, a post about the best time to post on Facebook, has been shared 149 times…on Facebook!

We have had posts shared 50,000+ times and other shared under 100. By tracking this metric we know which of our blog posts are resonating the best with our community.

A Few Final Words about Digital Marketing Metrics

What I have presented above are the 5 digital marketing metrics I use on a weekly basis to tell me, in a glance, how our website, email, Facebook, landing page and blog are performing.

Each of the above is free and realtively easy to set-up.

Don’t be afraid of the numbers, embrace them. They provide amazing insights that will drive your entire business in 2017!

What are your favorite and/or the most powerful digital marketing metrics you look at? I would love to hear you answer in the comments section below.