I'm doing research on how to implement B2B social media. This post includes links I'm finding helpful. Eventually I will write a post on implementing B2B social media. If you know of any good posts on B2B social media marketing implementation please share.
Turning Social Media Chaos Into Marketing Utopia
Fellow P&Ger's excellent post on how social media needs to be consistent with existing brand positioning and marketing. When I was at P&G we developed SMAC objectives: Specific, Measurable, Accountable and Consistent. Social media isn't an end unto itself, so Zeus is right about the importance of consistency.
Social Media Checklist
From: TopRank Marketing
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I'm doing research on how to implement B2B social media. This post includes links I'm finding helpful. Eventually I will write a post on implementing B2B social media. If you know of any good posts on B2B social media marketing implementation please share.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
SEOEXSERVICES posed this question on Twitter today. The short answer to their question of is YES, BUT… Content for content’s sake is drowning in its previous success. Google started the great content shoot out seeming to prize content above all else. This is a too simple and wrong interpretation of Google’s algorithm.
Content as an expression of authority is important. Content written thin with few supporting inbound links, poor search engine optimization and inconsistent or spammy non-natural keyword density does more harm than good. Google knows an important truth every Internet marketer should recognize and incorporate – math always wins.
Google’s magic math sifts wisdom of crowds curation of a million intersecting points in milliseconds. The right sites win top listings in this moment. They may not win in the next moment, but Google only has one time – NOW. Google can be gamed for a moment, a second, and a tiny tick. Organizing infinity will always have some small window of vulnerability. Black Hat SEO experts find and exploit vulnerabilities perhaps even becoming rich by gaming their sites to top listings (for a short time).
Irony of ironies black hat SEOs prove the point – the math always wins. Stephen Hawking once explained how all systems head toward entropy. Cleaning up your room doesn’t make sense. Energy expended cleaning meant that, despite your room’s refreshed appearance, the universe’s values continued slipping toward entropy. Energy to clean can’t be reclaimed. Your room remained “dirty” according to Hawking’s universal math. Black hat SEO gamers spend lives cleaning a room only to prove professor Google’s point – in the end the math always wins. Black hat SEOs are captives in a secret gulag unaware.
White hat Internet marketers should ask the right questions for the right reasons THEN create authoritative content. Yes there are mechanics. Keywords are important. A site’s voice must engage. Structure matters; so don’t mash keywords at the beginning. An article’s cadence doesn’t matter to search engine spiders, but it does to readers. Search engine spiders do many things. Building a link to your content is not something any automated system can reliably do. For your content to be authoritative it MUST be linked to preferable by other authorities. Link love is earned, earned with great ideas, fascinating writing and incorporation of cool stuff from the infinite and ever expanding ball that is the World Wide Web.
Content serves two tough masters. Humans want to read magic, joy and passion. We want stories of heroes and heroines vanquishing evil forces. Search engine spiders “understand” stories mathematically. Left-brain’s analytics must cohabitate with right brain’s creativity. Dogs and cats live together. Should your site tell great stores or rank high on critical keywords with search engines? Yes is the frustrating answer to both questions. This is like saying nerds, artists and jocks should sit harmoniously as the same table for lunch. Painful to even think about (LOL), but necessary in our new marketing world.
Is content still king for SEO? Yes, authoritative, viral content well linked moving customers to action is and always will be KING. Why will content always be king, because in our flat, fast, furious and connected Internet marketing world the math always wins.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Once upon a time in a marketing world far, far away STORY ruled the day. Peter Guber, Movie and Media Company Mandalay Bay’s CEO lives in, around and through stories. Guber’s new book, Tell To Win, teaches by sharing one cool story after another. How can we apply Tell To Win's secrets to web sites and Internet marketing?
Tell To Win’s stories are compelling, suspenseful, surprising and exciting. Guber explanation about HOW TO use stories is solid coming to life mostly when, no surprise, stories illustrate key points such as:
Story Structure Defined
Challenge, Struggle and Resolution
Get listener’s attention with an unexpected challenge or question.
Provide an emotional experience by narrating the struggle to overcome the challenge or find the answers to the opening question
Galvanize listener response with an eye-opening resolution that calls THEM to action
Emotion vs. Logic
People buy with emotion and justify with logic. Stories provide emotion then logic. When telling stories in a business context we tend to reverse the process expecting to win emotions, passion and allegiance from charts, graphs and logic.
Stories And Internet Marketing
Tell To Win is an important marketing book. Arianna Huffington called it a “game changer” (specific link provided below). Tell to Win may be THE most important Internet Marketing book. The web is the greatest storytelling medium ever, yet few e-commerce web sites (B2B or B2C) tell stories well. We seem to lose our story telling chops when faced with technology’s demands.
Story telling is already competitive advantage for some sites such as:
Amazon isn't a great storyteller. Amazon’s platform creates a long tail of stories. Amazon is a good example the long tail of stories.
The Long Tail Of Stories
Wired editor Chris Anderson teaches everything has a long tail, a long broad area of consumption out away from the most popular. Long tail economics are created when distribution (of anything) stretches toward infinity. Digital costs go down even as power increases thanks to Moore’s Law, the secret to new business physics. Digital inventory is cheap and getting cheaper so sell as many widgets as possible. Amazon’s long tail books, books selling one, two or five, are estimated at 30% of Amazon’s total sales (See Radar). Don’t get caught up in the math. This example proves the importance of books far away from the Best Seller list.
Your web site needs more stories than you can write. Amazon’s platform mines stories (reviews) from customers, readers and Amazon evangelists. Amazon acts as curator of other people’s stories. Their platform is a curation tool. Read Curation: The Next Web Revolution for more on curation tools.
Amazon Can, Your Site Can’t
Amazon can abdicate story telling to its traffic, but your site must use Tell To Win’s tactics to craft your company, brand, and product or service story. Building social media into and around your web site is important. Writing blogs posts, allowing comments, providing platform-like inputs such as reviews are a must, but you must to Tell To Win.
“In every case, your success will ride on your ability to get your intentions inside your listeners in a way that moves them to action. What better tool to accomplish that than story telling!"Smart web sites use Tell To Win’s outline to craft at least four stories including:
Dan Siegel, Tell To Win Pg. 23
- Creation Story (About)
- People Story (Management Team)
- Process Story (How)
- Save The World Story (Social Marketing)
- Uniqueness Story (best quoted from customers or other partners)
If creation is the act of heroism people are the actual heroes. Most sites provide standard corporate biographies. Where is the pathos? Where is overcoming all odds to fight for truth, justice and the American way? Not on most companies “people” pages. People hate corporations because they are faceless and Borg-like. Customers want to know your people. Customers look for and follow heroes.
As Dov Siedman wrote in his excellent book How: Why how we do anything means everything business process is the only thing a company “owns” in a Google-infused web marketing world. Process stories usually start with how important customer service is, blah, blah, blah. Consumers are SMART and know to THINK the opposite when reading BLAH-MARKETING SPEAK. Zappos understood process is the only thing they own. They rocked the world with free shipping out and back (on returns too). They were famous for paying employees to leave Zappos if they couldn’t commit fully to the Zappos-way. Zappos created a real-time Twitter feed. This is our process warts and all, they confidently state with each Tweet.
In some way your product or service is saving the world. If not, find a way to use the profits from your product or service to save the world. Companies, brands, products and services must live in a larger context. Just being a world-class widget doesn’t matter. There are four other world class widgets and they all cost less. Your product or service MUST, MUST save the world in some way (however small).
There is something unique about your product or service. Your web site must dig into this uniqueness. There needs to be supporting pictures, video, copy and testimonials. Pride should beam from the hilltops. Blendtec knows now to beam their uniqueness from the YouTube hilltops as their blender eats iPods, dogs and small children :). Does your company’s site beam its uniqueness half as well?
Tell To Win Summary
Tell To Win can be an Internet marketing game changer. Sites that learn how to tell stories will win. Sites that ape others will lose. Guber applies Tell To Win’s ideas in movie pitch meetings. Internet Marketers will understand his “call to action” immediately and some will spend $26.00 in order to change the world.
Huffington Post Review of Tell To Win
How author Dov Seidman
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
You may be reading this post wondering what the heck is a “channel”? I apologize for using Internet marketing Lingua franca. “Channels” are Internet marketing speak for ways to reach customers. Print advertising is a channel. Direct Marketing, or catalogs usually received through the mail, is a channel. Creating an e-commerce web site is a channel. Google’s pay per click ads (PPC) is a channel.
The blogosophere might be an effective marketing channel for some business models. Apple apps are becoming a robust channel and Facebooks ads may prove to be the most robust channel. The jury may be out on whether Facebook’s platform becomes a more effective “channel” than Google, but we live in a multichannel Internet marketing (or multi channel) world.
Marketing across multiple channels brings new challenges and risks. This post outlines ten multi channel marketing mistakes. I write to not to do these things the next time on web sites I manage. If your company is making one or more of these mistakes you are not alone. Multi channel marketing is an evolving science. Channels multiply like rabbits in our fast, furious connected world, so it is easy to make mistakes, ones outlined here and o
A good plan executed today is better in multi channel Internet marketing than a perfect plan tomorrow. I recall wise words from Russ Mills, my first P&G boss. Russ told me, almost thirty years ago, “ Martin you aren’t failing enough.” Russ’s comment came after what I thought was a successful day of selling bar soap and household cleaning products. If your company isn’t making some of Martin’s Multi Channel Marketing Mistakes then you aren’t failing enough. Hopefully this Biggest Multi Channel Marketing Mistakes post will help your company fail more in order to make more money and think of multi channel marketing differently.
Top Ten Multi Channel Marketing Mistakes
- Too Many Eggs In One Basket
- Speaking With Forked Tongue
- Disrespecting A Channel’s Rules
- Not Walking Marketing Talk
- Throwing Good Money After Bad
- Misreading Marketing Analytics
- Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots Between Channels
- Ignoring New Channels
- Allowing Competitors To Seize High Ground
- Jack Of All Trades, Master of None
Easter seems an appropriate time to steal a metaphor. We are all multi channel marketers now. Your company or not-for-profit can’t survive reaching customers via a single channel. This truth is worth repeating and saying a little differently. Your company must be a multi channel marketer. No matter how good you are or were in a single channel your company must be available to your customers in multiple ways.
Even the greatest infomercial creators, Guthy Renker, include web site addresses for Proactiv, their teenage skin play, Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Edge and Dean Martin’s Roast. Guthy Renker, the best infomercial creators in the world, know they must communicate in many marketing channels. Supporting web sites are the cost of infomercial poker. Create and air a multi-million dollar infomercial without a web address and you will have trouble creating positive return on investment (ROI).
Guthy Renker seems late to the social media marketing party. Being late to social media marketing might be all right in their business model (though secretly I doubt it). Guthy Renker illustrates an important multi channel marketing point. Your company MUST be a multi channel marketer, but this is NOT to say your marketing message must play in EVERY channel. Web sites are required for infomercial creators. Infomercials need a web site’s legitimacy.
We live in Do-It-Yourself (DIY) times. Deny your customers the ability to learn about your products and services easily and on their own at your financial peril. Guthy Renker knows it is too easy to support their main marketing efforts with multiple channels. Infomercial ROI is increased greater than the costs of creating and maintaining supporting web sites.
Some marketing channels are so important every business must have or develop core competency. Required channels are:
Customer Friendly Web Sites
Search Engine Friendly Web Sites
At Least One Social Media (Twitter or Facebook )
Multiple marketing channels are a MUST. A long post could be written explaining each channel listed above, but, for this post, these four describe the minimum number of marketing channels required. Note the absence of traditional “interruptive” media. Print, television and other “traditional” marketing media have a place, but their place is different today versus ten or twenty years ago. Traditional marketing was THE WAY to build brands and so start a product or service’s sales engine. Traditional media continues to have a role, an amplification role. No product, service or company has enough money to climb today’s marketing Everest with a single channel. And why would you want too?
2. Speaking With Forked Tongue
Many multi channel retailers create channel conflict. Recently I got caught in just such a conflict. Receiving an email on Friday from Borders about a special on boxed CD’s I rushed to the store only to be told the sale started on Saturday. Email is an immediate marketing medium. I took an immediate action, but Borders was speaking with a forked tongue. They wanted to use email marketing to generate store traffic, but they violated one of the primary rules of email marketing – a call to action customers can act on NOW.
Borders is a single example of marketing channel conflict almost every brick and mortar retailer creates. During a trip to Macy’s during the holidays I asked about an Internet promotion only to be told it was “web only”. Macy’s left hand didn’t know the cool stuff its left hand was creating losing money and customer loyalty with each failure.
Marketing messages must be coherent and consistent across channels. “Internet Only” is one way around channel conflict, a cheap and uninspiring way. When a company says “Internet Only” they admit to channel conflict so severe they can’t see their way home. Marketing is hard enough. Creating silos inside a company’s marketing is consumer death.
This is not to say every campaign has to go full bore on every channel every time. Testing a new ad campaign inside a single channel is a good idea. If Macy’s wanted to make their Pandora offer Internet Only as a way of testing the expense of campaign extension, a perfect use for the Web, then more power to their marketing team. Be sure to say “Internet Only” in bold, large letters. Consider adding copy to tell the story of why something is Internet Only. Internet Only because your company is testing and wants customer feedback. Sharing the backstory gets customer feedback faster than keeping that secret. Customers feel informed, engaged and 1% will be willing to help. Read more about customer participation in my 1:10:89 post.
Don’t let what is happening to Borders, they filed Chapter 11 several months ago, happen to your company. Make sure your marketing messages are consistent and supportive across multiple marketing channels.
3. Disrespecting Channel Rules
Borders violated a primary rule of email marketing – allow customers to take action NOW. Each channel from YouTube to highway billboards has rules or best practices your marketing team must walk, talk and incorporate. Typically I advise “go now and beg forgiveness later” figuring a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. While this “go now” attitude is generally correct some caution is needed when marketing in a new channel.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Gatekeepers and customers are judging every Internet marketing move. Jumping into the deep end of a new marketing channel’s pool may be a mistake. Better to hire or create expertise THEN begin marketing in new marketing channels. The world is awash in helpful information, so read up or hire a consultant to learn, incorporate and respect a marketing channel’s rules.
4. Not Walking Marketing Talk
Not walking your marketing talk is deadly. Assume anything you publish will be challenged, scrutinized and checked with wisdom of crowds aggregation tools. The time of marketing speak may be over killed by social media, blogs and easy wisdom of crowds aggregation tools. Web sites are platforms for interaction more than “selling” tools. Customers buy on testimonials, reviews and ratings. Building a platform where honest collaboration is easily possible may be the most important marketing statement any web site can make. Walk your marketing talk and back your ideas with supportive non-verbals. This means you can’t say, “We are great at customer service” and not have a Zappos-like Twitter feed. Zappos understands the cost of best in class customer service is using Twitter to allow an open and honest conversation, a conversation where Zappos employees contribute thoughts, experiences and solve problems. Zappos walks their Internet marketing talk AND they understand how to translate their beliefs into site architecture (i.e. a web site’s “nonverbals).
5. Throwing Good Money After Bad
Many new channels don’t respond well to money first marketing. Money first marketing is selling hollow ideas or products with large advertising buys. Spending a million dollars in Google PPC advertising doesn’t make sense if every forum, blog and rating site is trashing your company, brand, product or service. Any attempts to climb marketing Everest with money alone fail.
A Bully Finds A Pulpit on the Web, a November 2010 New York Times article, outlined how an eyeglass retailer provided lousy customer service at least partially to gain Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ground. The customer understood links from high PageRank pages would boost his lousy store into lead positions on important keywords. Mess with the bull and get the horns. Google changed their algorithm not long after the New York Times article to deflate this retailers nasty e-commerce dreams proving Google’s relationship math always wins, if we had any doubt. Gaming the system is not a multi channel marketing ploy with a sustainable or profitable future.
Multi channel marketing is about creating greatness, telling amazing stories and supporting customers desires to evangelize your company, brand, product or service:
- Good news: it has never been easier for your customers to help build your company.
- Bad news: it has never been harder to earn the most important multichannel marketing you can’t buy – WORD OF MOUTH.
- Create greatness, tell the story and then listen intently. Don’t try to scam or buy your way to the top of the mountain.
- Don’t throw good money after bad.
6. Misreading Marketing Analytics
Knowing exactly when and why you are making money can be foggy in a multi channel marketing world. Did your ad + web site + email drive a sale? If so, what portion of the sale should be allocated against each channel? Smart multi channel marketers know answering the “why”, “when”, “where” and “how” questions are impossible. Taking reporting license is needed. If this sounds like a Serious Wild Ass Guess (SWAG) you aren’t too far wrong.
Every customer touch point contributes to making sales. Quantifying who gets what can drive you mad. Better to realize we live in ambiguous marketing times and assign business rules to help define where and why you are making money.
I’ve heard Marketing Directors make crazy statements such as “Twitter is stupid,” or “organic marketing doesn’t work”. Read Why Twitter Is Important for more on how curation tools such as Twitter will shape our Internet Marketing future. Find ways to value every channel’s contribution and you won’t misread your marketing analytics and cut off an important upstream contribution to your Internet marketing's success.
7. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots Between Channels
It is possible for an offer in one marketing channel to knock the block off another. Creating campaigns that obliterate each other is cross talk to a maximum degree. Some offers are so strong they MUST be carried across all channels. Free Shipping on your site means your catalog should offer it too. A “buy one, get one” in the catalog means your site must match the offer.
I was a Director of E-Commerce in a company started as a catalog. Our catalog created GREAT offers, but some mechanics were hard to duplicate online. Our catalog loved creating variable set merchandising. Buy $20 of this get this free. Buy $50 get this other thing free. This kind of mix and matched merchandising was very hard to match with our web’s legacy content management system. We found klutzy ways to make these “catalog” offers work online. It was hard for our site to explain, in real time, how to get the deal. Our web site’s block was knocked off by our catalog.
Customers hate it when they can’t get or understand a promotion. Better to error on the side of simplicity. After ten years of Internet marketing I know nothing is ever as simple as it you think it is or should be. Don’t let one of your channels knock the block off another channel’s marketing efforts.
8. Ignoring New Channels
Ignore new channels such as YouTube, cell phones and Twitter at your marketing peril. Set aside 10% of your yearly marketing budget to “blow” against new channels, new media. Suspend the return on investment (ROI) conversation for this money. Assume you will lose every dollar but gain valuable intelligence and be ready to create effective marketing in new channels when they become undeniably robust. Don’t get hung up in what “undeniably robust” means. Look to lose money to “fail enough”. When in doubt, read Biggest Multi Channel Marketing Mistakes number 9.
9. Allowing Competitors To Seize High Ground In New Channels
New marketing channels form quickly and without any guarantees. They may or may not be around ten years from now. Watch your competitors closely. When they begin listing Facebook and Twitter symbols so should you. Ideally you would lead, but you can’t be all things to all people. Sometimes your marketing is about marking a competitor’s move. You can’t afford to be absent. Your competitors may build too much steam if you seed new channel's high ground for long. Mark a competitor’s move, watch and wait. Use a service such as SpyFu or Hitwise to make sure your competitors aren’t seizing the PPC high ground. Watch their sites for new social media marketing icons and don’t be far behind. If your competitors seem to be emphasizing a new channel, watch, listen, learn and mark. Never seed new channel marketing high ground uncontested.
10. Jack Of All Trades, Master of None
No company, brand, product or service is going to be brilliant, innovative and world changing in every channel. Can’t be done, so don’t try. Understand the marketing channels critical to your business model and get or hire experts. This begs the question what channels are RIGHT for my company, brand, product or service.
There is no cookie cutter formula to answer the “what channels are most important” question. Guthy Renker figured out they had to have web sites to support infomercials. Your company may combine direct marketing, Facebook, email marketing, search engine marketing and content marketing in a profitable way.
Select one or two marketing channels, build or hire expertise. Define these first two as your marketing “core”. Add new channels by testing offers and comparing results. Never abandon a “core”, but always look to add a new floor or room to your multi channel Internet marketing house. Watch your metrics and find reasonable SWAG’s for attribution. Understand it is always better to be generous in attribution than too cheap since down playing an important marketing channel may secretly kill your business. Once you gather data on multiple marketing channels start to prioritize based on perceived ROI.
Remember to be fuzzy and generous. If you think sales come from 10% email marketing, 30% PPC, 30% direct mail (catalogs) and 30% organic search be willing to share some dollars with what seems like the lowest contributor. Look for “best practice” metrics and compare your ROI to these benchmarks. If something seems off create a SWAG and do a deep dive on the data to figure out what makes the most sense. Going in search of multi channel marketing needles can be time consuming and fruitless, but necessary.
If your business model is not living within available standards find out why. If you are doing a better job in direct mail be cool with that even as you try to bring way ward channels, such as email marketing in the above example, back up to standard. I wanted our marketing channels to shape up like this:
30% Organic Search (i.e. content marketing)
30% Pay Per Click (PPC)
30% Email Marketing
10% Direct Marketing (catalog)
** This is before social, see Perfect Ecommerce Pizza Pie for more. **
This ideal multi channel mix made sense for the business model, company, brand and products I managed. It may make little or no sense for yours. If asked I could explain why each channel received its value with the “why” grounded in the business. The brand I managed was an implied content play, so 30% of sales should come from content marketing. Content marketing is strongest when matched with PPC, yes it does make sense to buy PPC ads even when your site comes up first on a search, so 30% of our marketing budget was allocated against a $3 to $1 ROAS (return on ad spend) PPC buy. Email marketing was our most profitable marketing channel, so I wanted it to grow, grow, grow. The company was founded on a catalog, but its share of web sales continued to shrink over my seven-year tenure. If you want to see a good example of catalog and web site integration go to UncommonGoods.com and request a catalog. Uncommon Goods knows how to avoid speaking with forked tongue.
Multi channel marketing is tricky and getting more so every day. Hope this post helps your company, brand, product or service find a path inside the multi channel marketing labyrinth.
Good luck, and call or email ScentTrail E-Commerce if you need some advice, coaching or multi channel marketing strategy. We’ve been there, done that and do want to do it again ☺.