online marketing

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.