Top Tips For eBayersMarketing products Internationally

eBay is one of the largest ecommerce sites. It is one of the three global marketplaces. It offers you a global market and you can easily sell internationally unless you have a product that is banned in a given country or cannot be shipped overseas.

Some products cannot be carried by standard international courier services or delivered at a price that is competitive. Some products are of so little value that the shipping alone makes it unviable to sell overseas. However, those are only a fraction of the products that can be sold overseas. You can send a parcel to Spain, or any other international destination if you sell on eBayerand have a well-planned strategy in place. Here are top tips for you to bear in mind when you scale your operations overseas.

  • Your reputation is very important, so you need to use reliable courier services as part of your offer to clients. If you need to send parcel to Spain using a large branded service like DHL or FedEx gives clients the confidence to buy from you knowing that they can track their shipment. Often these types of services can be bought from authorized resellers such as Courierpoint.com at discounted rates. With the right choice of courier, you can ensure that your goods don’t get damaged, get delivered on time and that your end customer is treated well. Any rude or unprofessional delivery staff will not only ruin the reputation of the courier company but the overall experience will disappoint the buyer and that would include the seller and eBay as a portal.
  • You should always make it easier for your overseas customers to make online purchases. Don’t ask for cards or banking details that would make people uncomfortable. Use payment gateways that the audience is accustomed with. There’s PayPal and other similar payment gateways including those of banks in specific countries. Offer cash on delivery if you can have such an arrangement with a cheap international shipping company.
  • Get accustomed with the local laws. Some laws would pertain to all sales while some may pertain to online sales. Get accustomed with government regulations. Know its currency and know the cost of living or what people can afford in local currency and accordingly choose your prices. Else, your price in dollar may look quite odd in euro and people there would know.
  • You should work on presenting your product in the right way. Cultural, social and other differences should be factored in. The same messaging will not work for the consumers of every country.

The Anxiety of Being in Debt

I’ve been working as a debt collector for the past year. Going into the industry, I totally expected to lose my soul to it. Part of me has had to harden up before the hard calls that I have to make. I understand the stress that comes with being in debt; it’s like a ghost that constantly haunts you. Except this ghost comes with friends who constantly call the home tyring to have you to pay it. I decided I wanted to know what it’s like so I read Professional Recovery Consultants reviews as my first choice for a future employer. Continue reading “The Anxiety of Being in Debt”

How To Create A Homepage That Drives Revenue

Green-marketing

Your homepage is the most important single page of your entire website, bar none.

The question is, are you maximizing the power of your homepage? On far too many websites, the answer is an honest “no.”

Why is this the case? Why do homepages fail to live up to their raison d’etre? Why do they not drive more revenue for the business?

The causes are legion. The homepage is often a battleground of competing interests, a hodge-podge of unfocused strategies, a showcase for poorly executed redesigns, and a circus of sheer confusion.

Here’s why your homepage is important.

For most websites, the homepage receives more direct and organic traffic than any other page of the website.

  • To prove this point, I surveyed the first website that showed up in my Google Analytics. The homepage has 80% more traffic than the second highest traffic page on the site.
  • The site I analyzed has more than 90,000 pages, and the homepage receives more than 18% of all visits.
  • When I look at the data closely, I see that not only does the homepage get more traffic, but it gets more unique traffic. Out of all 90k+ pages, the homepage scores 20% of the unique site visitors and accounts for 46% of the site entrances.
  • Furthermore, the bounce rate is lower (23%) and the dwell time is higher than other pages on the site.That’s just one example. Most ordinary websites probably have similar results.What do these numbers tell us? The message is simple. Your homepage is important. It’s the entrance to your entire site. It’s your branding front. It’s you.

    Now, I want to tell you exactly how to engineer a page for maximum revenue.

    Since you recognize the importance of your homepage, you should try to improve its power and earn you more revenue. I’ll tell you how.

    1. Figure out why your website exists.

    I hesitate to start the list with an existential assertion, but I couldn’t help it. A successful website has a purpose. Many web pages are taking up Internet space, but accomplishing little purpose. If your business has a purpose, then your website should serve that purpose in some way.

    Figure out the purpose. Here are some suggestions — 1) Read an article. 2) Sign up for a mailing list. 3) Start a free SaaS trial. 4) Buy an item. 5) Fill out a lead form.

    Tip: Make it action oriented rather than information oriented. The unstated intent of many web pages it to “increase brand awareness or information.” That’s good, but it’s neither actionable nor measurable. The best way to increase brand awareness is for your site visitors to do something — sign up for the mailing list? Download a white paper? Fill out a form?

    Once you define the purpose of the page, you’re ready to start optimizing it. Soon enough, the cash register will start to ring.

    2. Focus the entire page towards a single action.

    Since you now have a purpose for the page, you can focus the page on that purpose.

    How do you do this? It all depends on your product or service. I suggest a few common ways:

      • Use call to actions everywhere on the site. Many of your homepage shortcomings will be solved as long as you have CTAs.
      • Create large and compelling call to action buttons. Text CTAs are fine, but buttons work better.
      • Use a popup to capture email addresses.
      • Use the HelloBar.
      • Place a form on the sidebar or header where site visitors can easily see it.
      • Feature your phone number in the site header.

    Methods are many, but the principle is one: Focus the entire page on just one action.

    3. Create a compelling reason for the user to click.

    Visitors will only click and convert if they have good reason to do so. CTAs alone do not a conversion create.

    What’s going to make the user click? There is an entire body of research on this question, but thankfully, you only need to follow a few simple principles.

    • Make the visitor curious. Give the visitor something to wonder about. What’s going to come next? What is this all about? Why is this so important? Keep the website focused enough, but also intriguing enough to elicit clickthroughs.
    • Make the visitor excited. Another powerful emotion is excitement. Excitement and its complex physiological parallels turn passive users into eager customers.

    Motivating users becomes easy once you truly understand what drives your customers. For example, let’s say you’re a property manager selling your property management services to real estate investors. You understand their needs, their motivations, and their pain points. “Hey investors, your rental problems are solved! Call for the best rates in property management!” Score!

    All you need to do next is add your well-placed headline, create a relevant CTA and start racking up leads.

    Now, your homepage is profitable.

    4. Make the user click rather than scroll.

    One of the trends in web design is to create Parallax sites. I tend to agree with the Awwwards critique that it is “overused as a trendy effect.” More damaging, I believe, is that it limits the effectiveness of a site.< why your website exists. If your website exists to convey information alone, then sure, scrolling may be a great action. But if you’re looking for action, leads, form completions, and conversions, then I suggest you angle for clicks rather than scrolls.

    5. Make the load time as fast as possible.

    Slow loading pages will turn away vast amounts of users. According to research, half of web users expect a load time of 2 seconds. If the page hasn’t loaded in three seconds, they’re gone — off to find a faster-loading site.

    Page speed may sound like one of those under-the-hood technical tweaks that you might be tempted to ignore. Not so fast. When WalMart improved their page load time, they increased revenue by 1% for every 100ms improvement. Mozilla gained an extra 60 million Firefox downloads one year when they made their site 2.2 seconds faster. Yahoo boosted their traffic bu 9% by shaving off 400ms of load time. On the flip side, Amazon’s load time creeped up by a single second, costing the retailer $1.6 billion in sales.

    Load time is important. You can assess your site speed and make improvements using Google’s free Page Speed Insights tool.

    Conclusion

    Is your website a waste of space? Is it merely an online placeholder? For all the money that you’re spending on your website, you need to turn it into a cash cow.

    Start with the end in mind — the ultimate goal for your website. From there, work towards your goal with actionable and practical changes that will compel users to do exactly what you want them to do.

The Value Of A Great Presentation…And Cost Of A Bad One

Marketing-Model

Q:        What is the value of a great presentation?

A:        The amount of the deal you are trying to win.

Q:        What is the cost of a terrible presentation?

A:        The same.

The lights dim and you sink into the conference room chair, bracing yourself for yet another sales pitch. You preset your expectation dial to low while selecting the highest setting for your anticipated frustration. You’re ready. And then the unusual happens. You are instantly engaged by the introduction. The presenter’s preparation becomes obvious, as she conveys relevant, appealing and even inspiring messages. “What’s going on here?” you ask, as you realize that your time is not being wasted. “This person has what I need,” you recognize, “and she knows how to tell that story well.” You want to do business with her.

Why is this scenario so rare in today’s business environment? With so much riding on our presentations—in sales situations, funding requests, conferences and career negotiations— why don’t we knock the socks off of audiences and connect deeply with their hearts and minds every time ? The more important question is: how can we do a lot better?

Elisabeth Osmeloski, VP of Audience Development for SearchMarketingExpo.com and MarTechConf.com, handles the details of 80 to 100 speaker presentations per event. She has developed a keen sense of what differentiates great presentations from poor ones. “Lack of preparation is the biggest cause of failure across the board,” states Osmeloski. “Not having a clear message and actionable takeaways will leave the audience feeling like their time has been wasted.” According to Osmeloski, you can definitely tell when a presenter knocks it out of the park by audience reaction and comments. “The perfect presentation,” she continues, “has certain attributes, and will be engaging, entertaining, memorable, inspiring and actionable—all at once.”

A tall order, to be sure, but this level of performance is possible. If you want to read a great book on this topic, I suggest Oren Klaff’s Pitch Anything (McGraw-Hill, 2011). To understand how one company, AvalaunchMedia, is setting a new standard for the quality of their own (and their clients’) presentations, read on.

How Facebook's Changing News Feed Could Dictate The Future Of Content Marketing

web

Much in the same way that Google constantly refines its search algorithm by launching new updates and making tweaks, Facebook refines how it relates to users by updating its newsfeed display. To the average user, nothing is changing—these introductions are gradual and subtle, designed to be almost imperceptible while still improving the overall experience. However, the rapid-fire nature of these updates in the past few years and the scope of Facebook’s vision for the future are having a profound effect on the future of content marketing and how people use social media.

I want to start by taking a look at some of the significant updates that have shaped today’s average user newsfeed (aside from updates that have filtered out spam and hoaxes).

Increased Search Functionality

In December 2014, Facebook introduced multiple new search features for its users. Among these were a keyword-based search that allows users to look for old posts that were shared with them by certain other friends, and a feature that allows users to search for specific apps. This was the first major leap forward in terms of Facebook’s search functionality, but it wasn’t until 2015 that it developed a new kind of search engine altogether.

In May 2015, Facebook developed a search bar on its mobile app that allows you to search for specific articles on the web that you mean to share. When drafting a post, you now have the option to search the web for the article you have in mind. Here’s the catch—this doesn’t run on Google, Yahoo, or Bing. It’s an independent, fully functional web search bar created by Facebook, and it could serve as a precursor to further search functionality in the future.

Neither of these search-based updates have a direct effect on how Facebook populates your newsfeed, but they do play into Facebook’s apparent long-term strategy, as we shall see.

Friends Over Pages

Businesses were understandably nervous when Google announced in April 2015 that it would be prioritizing content from Facebook friends in individuals’ newsfeeds over any content produced by business pages. This is the latest extension of what is objectively a decline in the organic reach of branded posts. Part of this is motivated by Facebook’s desire to sell more advertising; if you can’t get this level of reach for free, you’re forced to pay for it. But more of this is motivated by Facebook’s desire to have each individual’s newsfeed to be as customized as possible to that individual.

General Audience Insights

Depending on your account, you may need to enable advertiser features in order to see this information. Otherwise, you’ll be able to find it under the “Audience” tab. This information shares general insights about the type of people who use your site, rather than how they use it or how they found it. It’s an invaluable tool for marketers, especially if you’re having trouble identifying your core demographics.

Age and Gender

The age and gender section is probably the most straightforward to use and interpret. Here, you’ll be able to see what percentage of your audience falls into certain demographic categories, and you can use this information to adjust your marketing strategies and make tweaks to your branding to better speak to your audience. For example, if you find that the majority of your users are young women, you can adjust your brand voice to better appeal to them.

Geographic Indicators

Geographic indicators can also help you figure out information about your audience. Some businesses are surprised to find that they have an international user base, even though they’re currently only marketing to domestic customers. Others realize that they’re far more popular in certain states than in others, and make adjustments to their offerings accordingly.

Technology Use

There are a number of other areas under the Audience tab where you can learn more about how users are accessing your site. Here, you should be able to see what percentage of your users are using mobile devices versus desktop devices, and which browsers are most popular for viewing. You can use this information to tailor your strategy and cater to the largest portion of your audience. For example, if you find that the majority of your users are using Internet Explorer, you might want to consider optimizing your site for Bing as much as you do for Google.

Putting Insights to Good Use

It should go without saying, but simply knowing your audience isn’t enough; it’s actually only the first step. It’s what you do with that knowledge that really matters. Take a critical look at how your site is designed, how it’s written, and what features you currently offer your users. Are these all optimized for a speculated target audience, or for the audience who’s actually using your site? What areas of the site can you eliminate? What areas of the site can you improve? What can you add to make your users happier?

By answering these questions and putting a strategy in place to address them, you’ll better position your site for your current audience, and your conversion rates will improve as a result.

What To Do If You AC Breaks This Summer

Your AC is most likely to develop faults during the peak summer temperatures simply because that is when it has to work hardest. It is a bitter irony that it can break when it is most needed. There are some simple things you can check if your system is not functioning properly:

  1. Make sure the unit has not been disconnected from the electricity supply. It may be unplugged, or it may be that the circuit breaker in the distribution board has tripped. If the latter is the case, reset the circuit breaker and try again, but do not do this repeatedly.
  1. Check that the thermostat is at the correct setting. Somebody may have inadvertently changed its setting.
  1. Check that the filters are not clogged up. Most units let you easily access the filters. Remember to switch off the electricity supply to the unit before doing anything internally.

If you cannot find the problem and get your unit working again, it’s time to contact a local HVAC repair service. The sooner you do this, the quicker your unit will be repaired. Remember that HVAC repair services will most likely be working flat out, so you may have to wait some time before an engineer can get to you.

Prevention

Units which are regularly serviced are less likely to fail than those that are not. Your AC unit consists of several different components that work together to remove heat from the air. If any of these ceases to function, the unit may not work at all.

Defective components may not fail completely. This may mean that the unit carries on working, but it does so less efficiently. When your unit is not running at maximum efficiency, you are paying more for your cooling in the form of higher energy bills.

The best way to keep your HVAC unit in good shape is to set up a maintenance contract with a reputable HVAC repair service. When your system is regularly examined by an expert, the chances of something going wrong are greatly reduced. Additionally, many HVAC repair services will give priority attention to customers with whom they have a maintenance agreement if something does go wrong.

Keeping cool

While you wait for your unit to be repaired, make sure everybody drinks lots of water. Keep doors and windows closed, and make sure blinds or drapes are also closed. Try to avoid running appliances that generate heat. These include washing machines and dishwashers, dryers, and stoves.

 

Do Not Let Your Business Drown with Poor Branding

Advertising a business was once as easy as distributing business cards and a well-placed newspaper ad. News travelled quickly through word of mouth about whether your products or services were worth a consumer’s time, and reputation held fast once established. Now consumers are more sophisticated, occupied by a thousand ways to obtain information instantly. This increased availability of information online, whether through a cellular device, a computer, or the millions of blinking advertisements that follow consumers everywhere they go, has brought both opportunity and challenge to advertising. It is important for the profit minded business to avoid marketing tactics that cause more harm to the wallet than good. What does your business brand need to look like to its market consumers? In order to express exactly what a business wants to express with its brand, branding agencies exist.

Reasons to Hire a Branding Agency

An ill-defined brand strategy is like sailing across the ocean without nautical equipment. In order to provide exactly what your business needs to get moving in the right direction, a branding agency will help you communicate across the whole of your marketing and advertising campaigns. It is imperative that the correct market of customers be targeted for your brand. For example, a burrito restaurant is less likely to bring in elderly people and more likely to bring in younger consumers.

In order to identify the best branding agency for your business, view websites such as this. Reputable, honest branding agencies are available now in order to optimise the advertising and marketing you deploy. The best branding agencies will research heavily into your business in order to best understand how your company works. Your business’s management, goals, and policies are unique to your business, and thus it is essential that your business is treated with individuality and specificity. Your brand must be stretched across every platform, including, but not limited to, your business’s web page, business cards, and TV commercials. The right agency understands that in order to help your business grow in every way, modern technologies must be taken advantage of at every turn.

Today’s consumers are locked into their devices, and in order to make a personal connection with them your business must be technologically advanced. Mobile applications, social media, and video posting platforms have only increased in popularity over time. A business that can touch every one of these platforms has the highest chance of success, as it can connect directly with its targeted consumers no matter where they are or how they are connected.

Do Not Let Your Business Fall Behind

Without a strong, far-reaching brand, your business has missed an opportunity for growth. Branding agencies do not sell products, but rather are dedicated to your business’s success in order to create their own success. Do not allow your business to flounder before it is given a chance to take advantage of a great opportunity. Go online now.

Marketing strategies for small enterprises and start-ups

Maybe you’ve been inspired by Simon & Garfunkel’s Go Tell It on the Mountain. In fact, you probably ought to find a snow-capped peak from which to lead a sermon on the great products you offer if you’re struggling to find an audience.It’s common for businesses to struggle in their first year, many young enterprises don’t survive the lows.

You know that what you have to sell is unique, but who else has been persuaded? Your competition maybe? So how did they do it? How did they get people to buy their product or services?

Marketing is everything, but starting small means only a small portion of an already tight budget can be allocated to advertising and SEO. So how can you make the most of that speck of an investment on your spreadsheet? Let’s look at a couple of ways for new enterprises to maximisemarketing strategies, like handing out stellar promotional items.

Real testimonials

Prove to new clients that the product or service you offer works. Find creative ways for satisfied clientele to share testimonials. An interesting video detailing a customer’s experience for instance. Written feedback should be posted directly on your website, and social media posts should receive positive, prompt replies.Try to not give in to the negativity that can spawn from internet threads.

Promotional gifts

You don’t need to shout about it from mountain tops if you can get people to talk about your product of their own volition. You’ll need to have an understanding of who your target audience is and get to know more about them. What are their interests? What factors drive their conversations? Go to conventions, read social media posts and ask questions.The more you understand your audience, the more effectively you can distribute swag that can promote your business by word of mouth.

Social Media

Blog posts relating to your trade, interesting shares and even some mildly controversial posts can have people frequenting your media sphere. Social media sites are your mountain top, but you won’t be the one doing the shouting, let your followers do it for you through shares and likes.

Prepare your business for success by expecting a positive outcome. Build a strategy around the next holiday rush and show your future clients that you mean business.

Strong marketing department drives firm performance, Iowa State researcher finds

Company executives take note — marketing matters.

Not only does marketing pay off in the short-term, but it has a positive effect on long-term shareholder returns, according to new research from Iowa State University’s College of Business. Hui (Sophia) Feng, lead author and assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State, says the study provides clear evidence of the marketing department’s value.

“During the economic crisis, the first thing firms cut was the marketing budget and staff,” Feng said. “The marketing department contributes to both the short-term and long-term, so managers should not be short-sighted and cut the marketing budget and staff just because of a crisis or poor quarterly figures. Managers need to look beyond one quarter or one year and see marketing is important.”

The study, published in the Journal of Marketing, measures marketing department power, and a firm’s ability to build and leverage brand equity and customer relationships. To objectively calculate these measures, Feng and colleagues Neil Morgan and Lopo Rego, at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, developed a new scale to measure marketing department power and marketing capabilities using publicly available data for more than 600 firms in the U.S. over a 16-year period. It is the first study to take such a comprehensive and objective approach.

To determine the marketing department’s power, researchers compared head count, compensation, the number of responsibilities and rank of job titles of marketing executives to executives in each firm’s top management team. Feng says while many marketing professionals are concerned they are losing power or being marginalized, the data show just the opposite to be true.

“There is this panic that marketing is losing a seat in the boardroom, and that marketing doesn’t really have a say in the strategic direction and the decision making,” Feng said. “We found that the power of marketing departments actually increased. Not only did it increase for firms that didn’t have a marketing department before and created one later, but also for firms that already have a marketing department.”

More than power, marketing has value

Power struggles aside, marketing departments are often criticized for a lack of accountability, Feng said. That’s because it’s difficult to measure whether specific outcomes, such as sales, are a direct result of an advertising or social media campaign. To overcome this barrier, researchers compared how well the firms used their available resources to build brands and customer relationships, and their ability to turn these resources into cash flows. This allowed researchers to estimate the firms’ return on investments in building and leveraging its brand and customer relationships.

This research shows that strong marketing department power is associated with strong short-term and long-term firm performance, Feng said. Researchers controlled for firm size, number of strategic business units and competitive intensity. They also conducted several tests to verify the validity of the results.

“Structurally, the marketing department not only improves performance by increasing a firm’s capability to perform marketing activities, but also directly increases performance, because they influence the strategic decisions made by the top management team and direct their attention to marketplace issues,” Feng said.

Marketing professionals can use that influence and their knowledge of the customer base to help guide the firm on decisions about a new product line or other ventures, she added.

The trade-off and management lessons

While marketing’s overall impact is positive, Feng says there is some give-and-take. For example, building brands and customer relationships takes time and resources. The return on that investment is not immediate, which negatively affects the short-term return on assets, the study shows. However, once the brand is established, a firm can leverage it to generate more cash flow and benefit the long-term shareholder return.

“For example, if Burberry or Gucci were on sale, more people are going to buy it than a less famous brand on sale. Firms benefit in the long-term after building a strong brand,” Feng said.

Feng cautions that there is a limit to how often a firm can leverage or “milk” its brand, despite the cash-flow brought in by leveraging these brands. If famous brands, such as Burberry or Gucci are on sale too often, people won’t buy any regular-priced products. Repeated sales promotions can tarnish the brand image or make it seem less pristine, so there is a balance. Regardless of the trade-off, Feng says the overall takeaway for managers is simple.

“It’s very straightforward — invest more in marketing and give marketing a stronger voice in the top management team. It’s convincing evidence for marketing professionals to justify an increase in the budget and staff, request more seats and influence in the firm’s top management team and show that powerful marketing departments create value both in the short-term profitability and long-term shareholder value,” Feng said.

Marketing Concepts and Techniques Challenged

The major marketing concept of customer orientation still seems to be a valid reference point. In the contemporary over-informed, over-stressed and hedonistic consumer society the customer is the one who decides to purchase a product, to be loyal to a brand or to switch to a competitor. We may agree, therefore, that “the need for such a [customer] focus has not changed” (Holland and Baker, 2001:44). The exchange value concept, however, might have been rendered obsolete by the “postmodern manoeuvre in marketing and consumer research” (Brown, in Baker, 2003:25). Let us assume that value may be created “during consumption, in sign-value” and not in “exchange-value, as modern economists claimed” (Baudrillard, in Firat and Venkatesh, 1993:235). In such a way the emphasis is on the customer’s personal experience and on the view, that “the value of consumption comes from the consumer experience” (Addis and Podesta, 2005:404).
According to the traditional theory, consumers are identified, targeted and acquired through a set of strategic tools such as segmentation, targeting and positioning. Different techniques and approaches based on statistical, “psychological, sociological, and economic principles and models” (Addis and Podesta, 2005:389) have been employed in service of these concepts. While these techniques are still in use, a number of processes and mainly the fragmentation of markets will gradually render the traditional bases of segmentation (demographics and psychographics) questionable and “even the more recent typologies” like VALS will be “less and less useful” (Firat and Shultz II, 1997:196).
Additional challenges faced by marketing research specialists poses the fact that “within the field of qualitative research it is widely recognised that there is no single uniform manner for representing consumer experiences” in postmodern, consumer society (Goulding, 2003:152). The typical roles of researcher and respondent have also changed and the research process is characterised by increased collaboration. Furthermore, the Internet demands that researchers adjust to the new forms of communication by adopting new methods such as “lurking”, “online community”, “netnography” and others (Cova and Pace, 2006:1092).
As a result, in today’s fragmented markets reality where “segments are breaking up into individual customers” (Firat and Shultz II, 1997:196), “the modern tools of sociological analysis” become outdated (Cova 1996:19). While quantitative research is still widely in use, an array of qualitative techniques are been preferred to “fill the gap” in the knowledge about the postmodern consumer. Among the most frequently mentioned are ethnography, fiction, discourse analysis, personal introspection, and in-depth interviewing (Addis and Podesta, 2005:406).
Since purchases, branding and communications are all moving online, scholars have begun defining the Internet Marketing Segmentation (IMS). One such definition follows:
“IMS is the use of current information technology to classify potential or actual online customers into groups in which the consumers have similar requirements and characteristics” (Lin et al., 2004:602).
Definitions of that sort, alluring as they may look, are simply old concepts in new clothes and some make-up. More important is that new approaches like online ethnography, or netnography are being increasingly used as appropriate research methods (Cova and Pace, 2006; Maclaran and Catterall, 2002). Companies would need to resort to guerrilla tactics and employ people proficient in areas such as online community engineering. Phenomena like brand hijack (Cova and Pace, 2006:1094) and decisions on how much power should be given to consumers will eventually speed up the trends that shape contemporary research.
The marketing communication concepts of mass marketing and mass advertising have also been a subject to considerable revision. The so-called mass customisation has been boosted by the use of email marketing, database marketing, RSS and others. The processes of fragmentation and post-consolidation have given birth to new concepts like tribal marketing (Cova, 1996:21). Mass advertising and the one-to-many, one-way linear communications have given way to one-to-one, many-to-many, two-way, non-linear communication flow (Holt, 2002; Maclaran and Catterall, 2002). The Internet has brought also the idea of suck as opposed to the traditional push and pull (Travis, 2001:16). The levels of interactivity have changed “the nature of advertising from persuasion to relationships” (Philport and Arbittier, 1997:75) and the efficacy of advertising itself has been questioned. The title of the article “Stop Advertising – Start Staging Marketing Experiences” by Pine II and Gilmore (Strategic Horizons LLP, accessed 10th January 2009) is self-explanatory.
Schmitt (1999:53) argues that three trends in the broad commercial environment have caused a paradigm shift from traditional “features-and-benefits” marketing toward “experiential marketing”:
– The omnipresence of information technology;
– The supremacy of the brand;
– The ubiquity of communications and entertainment.
While agreeing with Schmitt’s ideas I would also add to the frame the influence of postmodern consumer behaviour. Therefore, reference points for future research are:
– Postmodern condition;
– Experiential marketing;
– Internet as a new branding tool;
– Customer-based brand equity.

How does business debt affect firm value and consumer satisfaction?

Feeling less satisfied with the businesses you patronize? It might be because those businesses are in a lot of debt. According to a new study in the Journal of Marketing, a company that has a lot of financial leverage–that is, a company that has a lot of debt in relation to its value–spends a lot less on advertising, which in turn decreases customer satisfaction.

“Surprisingly little research has been done on the effects of debt on marketing,” write the authors of the study, Ashwin Malshe (ESSEC Business School) and Manoj K. Agarwal (SUNY-Binghamton). “That’s surprising for a number of reasons, including the fact that companies with higher leverage tend to invest less in long-term, intangible assets–the very assets that have an impact on customer satisfaction.”

To investigate the relationship between leverage and marketing and the effect of that relationship on customer satisfaction, the authors used a sample of 171 firms surveyed in the American Customer Satisfaction Index over seventeen years. They estimated a system of five equations and found that higher leverage leads to less advertising, which in turn results in lower customer satisfaction. The impact of leverage on satisfaction is economically significant. As the authors report, a one-standard-deviation increase in leverage from the average level results in a 0.47-point decrease in customer satisfaction, which is equivalent to an estimated loss of $26 million in net operating cash flows.

What’s more, leverage negatively moderates the link between customer satisfaction and firm value. When firms are extremely highly leveraged, an increase in customer satisfaction can actually reduce the value of a firm. This happens because a high amount of leverage increases a high risk of bankruptcy, which can make it difficult for companies to realize the full value of a satisfied customer base in the future.

The study has several lessons for company managers. “Increased financial leverage can prevent marketers from realizing the full value of strategic opportunities embedded in customer satisfaction. Without that understanding, chief marketing officers are likely to overestimate the value implications of their marketing expenditures that help maintain and increase customer satisfaction,” the study authors write.

Email Marketing in Your Web Marketing

Email marketing, sometimes also called web marketing or E-Marketing, is the method of marketing products or services through the internet using electronic mail. It is one of the most advanced and effective marketing technique presently available.

There are lots of advantages to email marketing over conventional marketing techniques. The Internet has acquired such popularity among the public, and has become the most widely used communication medium all over the world. Emails can include links to websites, and people like the ease of use of online shopping sites. Also they get the lowest price through internet shopping. The widespread use of credit cards and internet banking facilities affords more convenience and speed in the online shopping field.

The reduction in cost of marketing is another major advantage of email marketing. Since the medium uses digital format, it can avoid the printing and publishing costs associated with traditional marketing. So the Internet can be termed as a selling tool which is cost effective.

The filtering process can be done in a very effective way as the advertisement can be routed to the appropriate customers. All types of customers are available over the Internet irrespective of age, occupation, living standards, etc. which gives widespread publicity for the advertisements.

Another advantage of routing email readers to your E-Store is that it can be open for 24 hours a day and 7 days a week which is not possible in the case of conventional marketing methods. This gives freedom of time for the customer for purchasing. The different types of internet marketing include email subscriptions, blogs, feeds etc. The cost of this kind of marketing is nothing. Through these kinds of marketing methods, up-to-date information can be given to the customers.

The statistics of marketing can also be measured easily and conveniently, and necessary steps for evaluation can be done efficiently. Email marketing can be monitored, and tested in all aspects. In Email marketing a person even do not have to own a product to sell it. There are lots of affiliate programs available in the internet. They work on the basis of pay per click, pay per purchase etc. Thus internet marketing is a new phase of modern marketing techniquePsychology Articles, and email marketing is one of its most powerful tools.

Online Marketing versus Conventional Marketing

As exotic, wedding consumption in China has experienced rent, buy custom process. 90’s of last century, many brides believe with the intention of wearing a wedding dresses only, less demanding on the wedding, usually by way of loan in the direction of choose their own dress. Early 20th century, in the midst of the change in people’s consumption concept, new people began in the direction of buy wedding way in the direction of commemorate his life is just one of the ceremony. Until now, the selection method still mainstream position. Beijing Weeklong photographic equipment located in the city of cheap wedding dress shop, the selection of wedding steady stream of young couples. An ordinary white wholesale wedding dresses a few hundred dollars, but also change the size of the bargain in addition to free.  However, the way custom wedding the bride is becoming one of the ways are most popular. More young people eager in the direction of creative in addition to interesting life experiences, the pursuit of personal, emotional expression naturalized proprietary system. The industry believes with the intention of the future development of personalized wedding. Wedding dresses in addition to echoed the feelings of people, in the direction of find a true expression of the bride’s wedding dress emotional experience.

 

Meanwhile, in the midst of the Western culture began in the direction of affect more people’s lifestyle, more in addition to more girls on the wedding in the midst of a hope, in order in the direction of choose a unique Ball Gown wedding dresses in addition to went from studio, bridal salon. In addition in the direction of the traditional bridal salon, a variety of customized private wedding studio are emerging in the direction of meet this consumer demand. Vera Wang is a Hollywood star has attracted away in the direction of the brand, opened in Shanghai in 2005, the first wedding of its domestic stores. It is said with the intention of when he got married as Vera Wang could not find a fancy wedding; the wedding dresses forced in the direction of do it yourself. After her wedding as an entry point on behalf of entrepreneurs in the direction of start a career fashion design, special order high-priced bridal dress. Beijing studio chief designer Ball Gown Wedding Dress Bashan Jiao Jiao Dongle, told reporters, custom wedding is worthy collection of art. Girls can be treated in the midst of a handicraft approach in dealing in the midst of their own wedding dress. “In comparison, the studios pay more attention in the direction of the spirit of communication, communication on behalf of wedding more vitalityFree Articles,” she explained in the direction of reporters.

Millennials Make Marriage Proposals Public Affairs

Valentine’s Day this past weekend brought sweets and other treats for loved ones, and for some couples, an engagement. A hard-to-believe 6 million people told American Express that they were either expecting or planning a marriage proposal on the national love holiday.

How many actually materialized is unknown, but chances are that most were not low-key, drop-on-a-knee affairs. Proposals now require a fancy restaurant, flowers, a party with friends — and that’s the small-scale version.

In yet another generational difference, many millennials have turned marriage proposals into full-scale productions complete with flash mobs, singing groups and marching bands. It shouldn’t be surprising that a cohort of people who grew up on music videos and detail their daily lives on social media turns to YouTube to demonstrate their love. Why not go over the top when the magic moment finally presents itself?

An informal survey of online videos found proposals via fire trucks and skyscrapers, on snow-covered mountain tops and crowded beaches, and in police stations and coffee shops. Jimmy Kimmel’s show provided the backdrop for a proposal by a man dressed as Elmo the Muppet. On the TV show The Talk, 50 men proposed en masse. One that has drawn 30 million YouTube views was staged three years ago by a young Atlanta man who proposed to his girlfriend by dubbing a movie trailer. The couple now offer consultations.

A whole industry has sprung up around public marriage proposals, including the wedding site TheKnot.com. Los Angeles-based Heart Bandits was started when the founder was disappointed that her now-husband had not put more thought into his proposal, including a videographer and post-proposal party. She told the Washington Post that she now plans up to 20 engagements a month, with the cost often running into thousands of dollars.

However, a public proposal runs the risk of failure. And that, too, will be shared online. YouTube features a section of humiliating moments where the answer to “Will you marry me” was “no.” For some reason, many seem to take place at sporting events. A survey by TheKnot.com found that some women actually don’t like a public proposal.

>> Looking for a fun gift idea? AARP can help you celebrate that special birthday. Shop now

From this admittedly unscientific survey, it seems that the most successful proposals are those in which the groom-to-be really knows his bride. One perfect proposal involved a Canadian newspaper reporter who posted a Twitter query wondering who mounted heart-shaped posters all over town advertising a Sunday event in a local park. Camera and notebook in hand, she headed to the park at the appointed hour, where her boyfriend of eight years surprised her with a proposal in front of family and friends. She said yes and even published a piece about it. Now that’s a story to tell the kids and grandkids!

12 Marketing Ideas

1. Stayed focused on two or three core promotional messages.  Consumers do not have the time or interest to absorb a long list of messages from any one company. Some folks who execute well on “less is more” — Apple, Geico, WalMart, and makers of luxury goods like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Johnny Walker. Also two hospitals — Cleveland Clinic and Lenox Hill in New York City.

See also: 5 Great Home-Based Businesses

2. Humor has never been needed more than in fragile financial times like now.  Life is tough enough for most people without advertisers piling on with warnings about the future — medical, financial, or otherwise.  Capital One understands the power of humor. So does VW with their highly popular Darth Vader ads. We need to make consumers smile and feel good.  Now more than ever.

3. Get the family involved. Offers for the whole family will get more attention in 2012 and beyond. Wanting to spend more time with one’s family has been an upward trend Researchers have been tracking ever since 911. Car manufacturers pay attention to this trend as do resorts and certain restaurants.  Having an offer the family can enjoy will help grow your business for sure.

4. Outsource your web management. 2012 is the year to finally stop trying to manage your website yourself.   Firms that specialize in web design, management, and content creation can manage your site faster, better, and  cheaper than you.

5. Track your customers surfing. What other sites are they visiting?  There are software programs now that can tell you. One firm out in front with this capability is Infogroup based in Omaha, Nebraska. See, Warren Buffet has some high tech neighbors out there in the middle of nowhere.

6. Contemplate addressable advertising. Several major TV CABLE providers now allow you to personalize ads to different households and even announce in advance the ads will be geared toward the specific family unit. This relatively new capability has huge potential for building a whole new “channel” of distribution and overcoming the TIVO enabled skipping over of your precious ads.

7. Loyalty programs. There are so many today they have overwhelmed consumers and many just sign up and never do much more than that.   Make no mistake — the only loyalty program that really works is a stated discount for every purchase that is visible at the point of sale. Barnes & Noble figured this out a long time ago which is one reason they are still around and Borders is history. Smart supermarkets have similar programs which often vary the discount by item in conjunction with the food distributor. Programs that  don’t work anymore are those that require a buildup of purchases before your first discount comes available.

8. One is a lonely number. Think about co-branding. Joining up with another company that has a product or service that together with yours makes for an exciting package. This approach isn’t done very often and that’s a mistake. A simple example is a restaurant in close proximity to a movie theatre complex offering a discounted set of movie tickets for any dinner party of two or more people. From time to time BMW offers two fancy name brand bicycles and  BMW bike carrier when a new BMW is purchased.  Progressive Insurance co brands in the sense that it also promotes its competitors with the basic theme — may the best insurance offer win from those of us who provide it.

9. Two-way dialogue. If you really want to get consumers involved stop sending e mails that don’t allow a response. The vast majority of companies don’t allow consumers to respond back. How annoying. Be willing and able to hear from consumers via e mail and be able to respond quickly. Quickly means same day.  Same approach applies to your phone service. Back to e mail — if you want to stand out with stellar customer service you must encourage incoming e mails with comments and suggestions and create an ongoing dialogue with as many consumers as you can.

10. A simple thank you can go a long way. Make it a New Year’s resolution to call the top ten percent of your customers next week to thank them for their years of loyalty or their first year if they were new customers in 2011. Just thank them. No offer. No selling. If they want to buy, great, but they should initiate the request. Many will not be home — for them leave the thank you message on their answering machine.

11. 2012 is a Presidential election year. Those who track Media Spending predict 2.5 to 3 Billion will be spent on political advertising on TV alone — most of it from July through election day. It will most likely be an endless stream of nasty messages which will be mind numbing and make us all grumpy. Consumers will stop paying attention to media in general except the extremists on both sides.  Your business may suffer as a result of consumers “shutting down.” You might think about creating promotions during this time that make fun of all the negativity and offer a feel good alternative message. Or, just scale back and wait for the election to be over.

12. Always remember the three basic principles of successful promotion never change.  1) Create visual or sensory excitement.  2) Create real news about your product or service (what’s new, different, special). 3) Have a strong and compelling call to action.

Products or solutions Can your sales team perform a diagnostic

It is not enough for your sales and marketing team to understand and sell services. Employees need to understand the complex marketplace and be able to tell clients what services and solutions are best for them.

I recently was in a position to review a series of high-quality sales presentations for several media organisations, and, at the same time, on the receiving end of yet another media organisation’s sales effort. It was quite a diverse array of players – a television station, metro newspaper, and cable entity – all with an arsenal of digital tools and Web/mobile audiences.

I was impressed with the quality of the presentations, both in graphics and content. In fact, I found myself developing enthusiasm with each organisation, their product portfolios, and the earnest professionals who were involved from each media organisation.

But the end result was the same in every case.

After providing an analysis of the marketplace, customers, and competitors, and then providing an overview of their capabilities/products, they in effect asked me to choose what products/services/tools I needed.

To me, this is tantamount to bringing a vehicle in need of repair to a reputable mechanic. The mechanic tells you all about your vehicle, provides an overview of the highway system and traffic situation, and shows you an marvelous array of shiny tools and gadgets that can be used to repair your vehicle. Then they ask you which tools you’d like them to use to fix your car.

I am not doing business with this mechanic.

If the car and mechanic analogy doesn’t resonate, try a medical one. You are not feeling well and you schedule a visit with a doctor. The doctor does an examination, discusses your health with you, and reviews the general health situation in the community. The doctor then shows you their imaging equipment, medical apparatus, and pharmaceutical supply and asks you what drugs and/or treatment you’d like administered.

The bottom line is that it is no longer sufficient that media companies offer a wide array of traditional and digital tools to their clients. It’s not even sufficient that you understand how each tool works and can explain it to the prospective client. The stakes are higher.

The client expectation today is that you can “run a diagnostic” on a business/marketing programme and prescribe the effective combination of marketing investments to effect improvement on a company’s marketing outcomes.

The increasingly diverse and sophisticated platforms, services, and marketing tools in your product portfolio is beyond the expertise of most clients and demands that your expertise rises to the occasion.

Unless your team can go beyond the mere fact that you offer an ever-growing multitude of products and services, and actually know which ones are called for, your organisation is selling products, not solutions. And you are offering these products in the context of commodities rather than investments with expectation of returns.

You will compete on price alone, slicing your margins ever thinner, because you are one of many providers.

In today’s media environment, it is the expertise your people offer that makes your product portfolio valuable.

Making More Money Than I Thought Possible

I have a very good education, but I was not putting it to good use. I was just not able to find a great job in my town. Instead of raking in the big bucks, I was managing a pizza shop, which was definitely not fun. I decided I had enough one day, and I started looking for a work from home job. I knew that I should be able to find something with my degree, so I did a search for earn money from home program. I hit gold on my first attempt, because it took me to a video that showed me just lucrative working from home can be.

I am not naive at all. I know that there are a lot of people out there who selfishly profit off the sweat and tears of others. Continue reading “Making More Money Than I Thought Possible”

How to Fire an Employee The Right Way

As a small business owner, you might not even be able to imagine the possibility of firing one of your staff members. Each of your employees provides value to the company and helps keep things running smoothly. You could never let any of them go, could you?

The unpleasant reality of running a business is that sometimes, people must be fired. Whether it’s for reasons beyond anyone’s control — an economic downturn, a shifting marketplace, etc. — or because the employee has exhibited poor behavior or work ethic, there may come a day when you need to make a decision about someone’s future with your company.

Terminating an employee is never easy, and going about it the wrong way will result in an angry former staff member at best, and a hefty lawsuit at worst. Here’s how to go about this difficult process properly, from both a legal and a professional standpoint.

Before the meeting

Donald Trump may make it look easy, but firing an employee is never as simple as saying, “You’re fired.” Proper termination is not a rash, spur-of-the-moment decision, but a well-documented process that must prove that you, as the employer, are justified in your actions. Otherwise, you’re inviting the potential for a wrongful termination lawsuit.

In an article on Entrepreneur.com, author John Boitnott said that employers should do their research on federal and state laws that could protect an employee, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevents discriminatory firing on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, disability, etc. He also noted that, if the firing is performance-related, any and all documentation of employee issues should be brought to the meeting, including formal warnings and performance reviews stating the need for improvement.

“These can serve as proof that the employer offered the worker the chance to turn things around,” Boinott wrote.

The situation can be a little trickier if an employee is being let go as part of a downsizing initiative. Kathie Caminiti, a partner at labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips LLP, said that documentation is necessary to justify not only the reduction in staff, but how you determined which employees got cut. [Should You Fire That Employee? 4 Questions to Ask]

“With a downsizing or reduction … what is the business justification and what is the selection criteria for the person to be terminated?” Caminiti said. “If you’re letting go of three people, the next question is, why those three people as opposed to [other employees]? That’s where companies get into trouble.”

To make sure you’ve covered your bases, Caminiti advised asking yourself these five important questions when preparing for a termination meeting:

  1. What is the reason for the discharge and what documentation exists to support that decision?
  2. What is the employee’s background and history with the company? (Consider age, gender, protected class under EEOC laws, union versus non-union, whether employee has made complaints against company, etc.)
  3. Am I treating all other employees the same? (i.e., if the employee is being fired for violation of policy, would any other employee also be fired for the same violation?)
  4. Is this termination achieving business objectives?
  5. Am I following my own employer policies and procedures for discipline?

Breaking the news

As difficult as it may be to prepare for an employee’s termination, the actual firing part will always be the hardest step in the process. Caminiti reminded employers that, while letting someone go does affect your remaining staff and their morale, the decision has an immediate financial and emotional impact on that person and his or her family. Therefore, the situation must be handled with the appropriate sensitivity and tact.

The employee you’re terminating is likely going to be upset and have some questions for you once you deliver the news. Caminiti said you should anticipate this, and be ready to answer any questions posed in a respectful and succinct manner — don’t drag it out, or you might say something that could land you in hot water.

“How a person is terminated often influences whether they file a lawsuit,” Caminiti said. “If people feel treated with dignity and respect, they’re less likely to file a lawsuit.

In a Nolo.com article, attorney Amy DelPo recommended preparing answers to common questions about the employee’s current projects, clients and appointments, as well as when the employee should collect his or her belongings and leave.

“Before the meeting, you should come up with a plan for work that is in progress,” DelPo wrote. “Will these projects be handed off to a co-worker? Do you need the employee to complete anything? Does the employee need to assist in the transition?”

Above all, Boitnott reminded employers to be careful of what you say, as it can be used against you should the employee file a lawsuit. State that you’re dismissing the employee “for cause,” but don’t get too far into specifics, he said.

“The discussion should be brief, stating only the facts,” Boitnott wrote. “If an employee gets emotional, the manager should continue to stay on track, keeping as professional as possible.”

Next steps

Once the employee has learned of his or her termination, your job as the employer is to make sure that person is able to make a clean transition out of your company. This includes collecting any company-issued property like phones, laptops or keys, revoking any software permissions and passwords, and having all the necessary paperwork ready to go after the meeting.

Caminiti noted it’s very important to make sure an employee’s final notices — COBRA information, final pay, benefits administration, nondisclosure agreements, etc. — are completed, filed and issued correctly, so as to have a proper paper trail should any problems arise after his or her last day.

If you’re offering the employee a severance package, Boitnott advised having a human resources representative or office manager sit in on the meeting to handle the paperwork right then and there. This will help the employee shift his or her focus to logistics rather than the firing. Severance pay can also help to minimize potential backlash from the terminated employee, Boitnott said.

Before the employee leaves the office for the last time, be sure to provide him or her with the proper company contact to assist with any follow-up questions regarding pay and benefits. From there, DelPo recommended trying to end the meeting on the most positive note possible.

“Wish the employee good luck and shake his or her hand,” DelPo wrote. “If you can honestly say something positive about the employee’s tenure at the company, by all means do so. And assure the employee that the contact person you’ve provided will be available to answer any questions that come up and assist the employee with the termination process.”

More information

While you should consult with an employment law and/or human resources professional before moving forward with an employee termination, here are a few resources to help you prepare for the process:

  • “Employment Ending Checklist” (About.com)
  • “Fire Well: How To Avoid Wrongful Termination And Employment Discrimination Lawsuits” (Forbes)
  • “The Best Way to Fire an Employee” (Inc)

7 Reasons Your Audience Isn't Connecting With Your Brand

With the growing prominence of digital marketing, customers are coming to expect a more personalized experience, and today’s savvy brands are doing everything they can to measure up.

If you don’t connect with your customers in a personal way, you’ll fall behind competitors that do. That’s just the way business works these day. So whether you’re a startup or an enterprise corporation, you’ll find that personalization is more important than ever before.

But what if you’re trying to connect but the audience just isn’t receptive? This can be discouraging. Luckily, you can often pinpoint the reason why your audience isn’t connecting with your brand, and if you fix the issue, people will be more than happy to engage with you in the future. Here are seven common reasons:

1. You’re too self-centered.

Dale Carnegie once said, “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years of trying to get people interested in you.”

I’ve taken that to heart in both business and life. If you want to make an impact in someone’s life, focus on their goals and pains. It’s not about blasting your agenda and trying to interest people. It’s about listening in and delivering on what your customers are actually looking for.

People don’t connect with those that only talk about themselves. It’s a turn off. Instead, they cling to others that make them feel valued and appreciated.

Related: How to Overcome 6 Obstacles Facing Every Online Marketer

2. You don’t have a clear target audience.

If you’re marketing to everyone, you won’t connect with anyone. The clearer you can make your target audience, the better. Try to narrow it down as much as possible, as doing so will help you craft your message and value proposition in a more engaging manner.

When it comes to understanding my target market (and the target markets of my clients), I do a few things:

  • Identify the people that need my product or service the most.
  • Learn about their pains, challenges and goals.
  • Build personas based off what I’ve learned.
  • Market to that narrow group of people.

It’s not a complicated process, but it is one that most people overlook. By taking the time to really do your homework, you can position the right message to the right person at just the right time. And that, my friends, is powerful marketing.

3. Your content doesn’t evoke emotion.

That’s a nice way of saying it’s boring. You’ll create content for all aspects of your business, from your homepage to the headline in a customer-inquiry email. Each word you write must convey the right message. It should it evoke the right emotion for the situation.

Use language that directly connects with the pain points of your target audience. By doing so, you create a lasting impression and connection with your customer. Words are a powerful tool. Use them well.

4. You’re not taking a stand.

What’s unique about your business? What’s the one thing that sets you apart from the other, more established competitors in your industry?

You’ve got to know the answers to these questions. Just like it’s important to understand your buyer, it’s equally important to understand yourself. After all, if you don’t understand your unique selling proposition, how can you stand out and really connect with your audience?

Find what makes you different. Then build your marketing, sales and internal culture around that differentiating factor.

Related: 4 Strategies That Must Be Part of Your Marketing to Customers

5. You don’t engage with your audience.

Relationships are a two-way street. When problems arise, it’s never the sole fault of just one individual. In some way, each have contributed to the break in the relationship.

Find creative ways to engage directly with your audience. Strike up a conversation, send a thoughtful gift, share a token of your appreciation. This can become time-consuming, but it can also win customers for life.

The return is well worth the investment.

6. You haven’t built the right team.

Your business can die or thrive based on the team you build. Yes, it’s that important.

Look for people that align with your long-term goals and vision. Support them, encourage their success and help them through failures. Perhaps most important, be willing to accept when hiring someone was a mistake.

You’ve got to know how to build the right team. Sometimes that means letting go of the wrong team. Remember the adage: Hire slow, fire fast.

7. You’re too impatient for results.

Building an audience takes time. Despite what some “gurus” want you to believe, it doesn’t happen overnight. Regardless of how much traffic or how many followers you purchase, numbers alone don’t build an audience. Take the time to build it the right way. You don’t need gimmicks and ploys. It’s a simple matter of investing in the people that you want to invest in you.

Once you’re sure you’ve found the right audience, give it some time to see results.

What do you find most challenging about connecting with customers in this digital age? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

25 Digital-Marketing and Social-Media Experts to Follow on Twitter

Twitter is a great source of information. Every tweet is 140 characters or less, allowing you to quickly scan your feed and engage with the content that interests you. While this eliminates a lot of unnecessary noise, you still need to be following the right people if you want to be constantly flooded with great information.

In no particular order, here are 25 digital marketing and social media experts to follow on Twitter.

1. Guy Kawasaki: An industry veteran, Kawasaki’s Twitter feed is a source of inspiration that features a diverse range of topics. With nearly 1.5 million followers, it’s clear that he is doing something right.

2. Kim Garst: A social-media expert, Garst is always discussing the latest social-media-marketing strategies and sharing content from her excellent blog as well as curated posts that she believes provide value.

3. Noah Kagan: The founder of Appsumo and OKDork, Kagan is constantly sharing great pieces of content and bits of information via his Twitter feed. He is a great person to follow if you are into email-list building and growth hacking — and tacos.

Related: 7 Entrepreneurs You Should Follow on Twitter

4. Rand Fishkin: Fishkin, the founder of Moz, tweets about search-engine optimization and marketing. I suggest checking out his “Whiteboard Friday” videos — they always contain information that is beneficial for everyone, regardless of experience and digital-marketing knowledge.

5. Kristi Hines: A blogger and freelance writer, Hines knows a thing or two about content marketing. In addition to helpful content marketing tips, you will find her tweeting about productivity, social media and SEO.

6. Neil Patel: An entrepreneur that founded several software-as-a-service companies, Patel provides an abundant amount of information via his own blogs as well as valuable curated content.

7. Jon Morrow: The former editor at Copyblogger, Morrow now runs a highly successful website, Boost Blog Traffic. A mix of his own blog content and curated content from other sources occupies Morrow’s Twitter feed and covers all the digital-marketing and social-media bases.

8. Hiten Shah: Shah co-founded multiple SaaS companies with Neil Patel. His Twitter feed is a source of excellent content, covering all digital-marketing formats.

9. Kevan Lee: As the content crafter at Buffer, Lee tweets a great deal about social media and content marketing. His content typically features a lot of posts filled with tips that are suitable for people of all skill levels.

10. Ryan Deiss: His company, Digital Marketer, has one of the best blogs I have seen in a while. His Twitter feed features videos and blog posts that discuss strategies for building email lists quickly and scaling business revenue via online marketing.

11. Gary Vaynerchuk: The CEO of VaynerMedia and the host of the #AskGaryVee show, Vaynerchuk’s Twitter feed is a great way to stay up to date with the latest episodes of his show as well as reading the latest content from his blog and platforms that he contributes to, such as Medium.

12. Larry Kim: As the founder of pay-per-click management-software-company WordStream, Kim’s Twitter account is a great source of PPC information, naturally, but he also tweets a lot about social media and content marketing.

13. Amy Porterfield: Porterfield is all about growth, from social-media followers to prospects and profits. Give her a follow to have a constant flow of helpful content to engage with.

14. Jay Baer: As the president of Convince & Convert, a strategy-consulting firm, Baer’s Twitter is a source of relevant information covering everything digital marketing and social media.

15. John Jantsch: A small-business-marketing consultant, and the man behind the popular Duct Tap Marketing blog, Jantsch is a great person to follow on Twitter to keep your feed packed full of great online-marketing-related content.

16. Jeff Bullas: One of the top content-marketing influencers, Bullas is constantly sharing great information via his Twitter feed. It’s one account that I can visit and find something new to read every time.

Related: Follow These 25 CMOs to Learn How to Build Your Brand on Twitter

17. Pam Moore: The CEO of Marketing Nutz and Social Zoom Factor, Moore is a great source for social-media content. Get great tips and insight on how to build your business through social media by following her.

18. Danny Sullivan: As the founding editor of Marketing Land and Search Engine Land, Sullivan is constantly tweeting relevant social media, digital marketing and SEO news — and he is typically one of the first sources to announce breaking news in the industry.

19. Barry Schwartz: If you are interested in SEO, Schwartz is someone you need to follow on Twitter. He is the CEO of New York-based firm, RustyBrick, as well as the executive editor of the Search Engine Roundtable.

20. Aleyda Solis: A well-respected SEO consultant, Solis can be found speaking at some of the largest online-marketing conferences around the globe and her expertise is featured in several industry publications. Follow her for helpful SEO tips and solid content.

21. Dharmesh Shah: As the founder of HubSpot, pioneers of inbound marketing, Shah is a great person to follow on Twitter because he’s at the forefront of an industry that is constantly evolving. He posts industry news, case studies and mixes in the often welcomed motivational tweet.

22. Darren Rowse: If you are looking for a Twitter account to follow that is constantly pumping out great resources about growing your blog, than look no further, as the founder of ProBlogger, Rowse is an internationally-recognized expert on blogging.

23. Ann Smarty: A very active Twitter user, Smarty is constantly sharing SEO information and content, both curated and her own. She’s incredibly knowledgeable and worth following.

24. Perry Marshall: A business-growth expert and bestselling author, Marshall focuses on paid advertising using Google AdWords and Facebook PPC to drive sales. If you’re looking to elevate your PPC advertising give Marshall a follow.

25. Me: I’ve completely revamped my tweet strategy and this month is the start of a much more consistent flow of tweets from my end. I tweet content from my company’s blog, my content from other media outlets and curated content from other sources. I also mix in online-marketing tips and just a small dose of digital-marketing humor.

Make a Monthly Content-Marketing Check-In a Must-Do

A monthly content-marketing check-in gives you the opportunity to measure the success of your campaigns. Without a regular review, you won’t be able to take a strategic approach to your efforts, and if you don’t understand where you’re at, you can’t create a clear path for where you’re going.

Entrepreneurs that fully invest in content marketing will generate an abundance of data as their campaigns grow. It’s crucial that you have a plan for analyzing these numbers and making adjustments to your efforts along the way.

Content marketing is a dynamic effort. You’ll want to test different things and see what works and what doesn’t. The only way to truly know that is through regular check-ins.

Review progress of overall goals.

Start the check-in with a brief review of your overall goals. Your content-marketing team should have set these initial goals in the beginning of your efforts.
(source)

Goals are important because they set the baseline for all other analyses. For example, an increase in traffic doesn’t have value if there isn’t a business goal to measure it against. But if you knew that your overall goal was an increase in monthly revenue, you can measure your financial results against your traffic to see if you’re on track with your goals.

That said, things change. Make sure to reevaluate your goals once a quarter to be sure they’re still applicable.

Related: How to Use Content Marketing to Build a Brand with Purpose

Measure traffic changes.

Review your traffic and see how it changed compared to last month. If you’re investing in content marketing, you’ll want to see that your efforts are continuing to bring in new traffic from different sources. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Which traffic source increased/decreased?
  • Did any product launches or events create a large bump in traffic this month?
  • Have we recently done a trade show, mailer or other marketing campaigns that could account for the increase in traffic?
  • Have we started or ended any prominent partnerships with industry leaders?

Try to find the reason for any major shift in traffic. It will help you evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.

Recap campaign performance.

Look at how your content-marketing efforts have impacted your marketing performance overall. Specifically, you’ll want to analyze:

  • Traffic to landing pages from content-marketing efforts, such as blogging or guest blogging.
  • Lead-generation numbers compared to last month.
  • Results of A/B tests on content-related items such as call-to-action copy on blog posts.
  • Conversion rates and traffic from social-media campaigns.

You’ll learn a lot when you evaluate your content marketing against your other digital-marketing campaigns, as doing so will help you see the true impact of your efforts.

Look at your content-marketing landing pages.

For the most part, you’ll be creating landing pages focused on lead generation. These types of landing pages typically include a form that aims to convert viewers to email list subscribers. But there are other types of landing pages as well.

In content marketing, you can develop things such as resources pages and in-depth guides that serve as landing pages. If you’ve developed this type of content, evaluate its success.

Look at metrics such as the number of social shares, traffic increases or decreases, conversion rate and new leads acquired this month. Knowing this data can help you evaluate whether this type of content works with your audience. If it does, you can make plans to do more of it in the future.

Related: How Much Should Your Content Marketing Really Cost?

Identify top-performing blog posts.

Some of your blog posts will out-perform others. Identifying the types of posts that are performing best on your website gives your team special insight. You can use this information to guide your future topics, hone in your buyer personas, direct your marketing team and locate opportunities for blog-post optimization.

Specific metrics you can use to gauge success include:

  • Number of views
  • Conversion rate
  • Number of social shares
  • Number of comments
  • Keyword rankings

I particularly like this part of the check-in because it directly correlates to the type of content that resonates with your audience. The more you can narrow down those topics, the better.

Track social-media impact.

Content marketing is great, but it won’t accomplish much if you don’t promote it. Social media is one of the main ways many marketers promote their content. Review how much traffic is coming from your social-media channels. Also, measure how many people arrive on your site and then share your content to their social profiles.

I’ve found that it’s one thing for someone to retweet my content. But it’s far more valuable if I get them to my site and they share it themselves.

Establish opportunities for the upcoming month.

Once you have all this information, it’s time to make plans for the upcoming month. I like to ask myself a few questions:

  • Should I alter my strategy based on this month’s findings?
  • Are my content-marketing efforts serving my business goals? If not, what adjustments should I make to realign my efforts?
  • How can I make sure that next month’s results are better than this month?

These simple questions set the stage for my next month of marketing. Sometimes I’ll make radical changes. But most of the time, it’s the small tweaks, adjustments and tests that create the lasting impact.

Are you measuring content marketing on a regular basis? If not, make plans to implement monthly check-ins such as these as soon as possible. The fate of your success depends on it.

The 13 Tools You Need to Build a Content-Marketing Machine

A whopping 76 percent of marketers plan to increase their content-marketing budgets in 2016, according to Curata. Really, though, this growth isn’t that surprising, given that most companies realize content marketing is a key strategy for building relationships and creating customers.

That influx of cash will only do so much if you don’t have the right tools. Here are a few great options you can use to drive every stage of your content-marketing machine in 2016:

Defining needs and strategy

The tools you need for developing your strategy come largely from the collaboration space. Any of the following options will help you work with your team to define what content needs you have, what strategy you’ll use and who is responsible for what.

1. ProofHub

This project-management tool makes it easier to be organized in your approach and collaborate with clients, vendors and stakeholders. Basically, ProofHub gives you a platform to assign tasks, determine time tables and stay on budget.

Related: 7 Content Marketing Roles You Should Fill to Build a Greater Presence

2. Kapost

Kapost is a content-marketing platform that helps you manage your editorial and content-creation process. With this tool, your team can brainstorm ideas, organize writing assignments, run content production and analyze results from within a single platform.

3. Marketing.ai

Marketing.ai allows you to build a content strategy using a central framework, and then work together as a team in the calendar to create and promote content, enabling you to easily align your strategic goals with your execution.

Content creation and curation

“Creating content” doesn’t just mean writing new blog posts. You can use your existing content and curate it to create something new to share, or you can create entirely new content from scratch. Here are the essential tools you need to do both:

4. Storify

Storify allows you to collect social-media mentions around a specific topic. By researching a given trend, event, industry or influencer, you can curate all of the best social-media mentions in one place and adapt them to create your own content.

5. Curata CCS

Curata CCS helps you to find, share and organize relevant content for your industry or brand, positioning your company as a thought leader while building your brand and customer base.

6. Contently

With Contently, you can connect with high-quality freelance writers in your desired industry who can create original content for your blog, website, social media and more. The program’s content-management dashboard is also worth a look for brands that want to keep everything in-house.

Sharing, promotion and community

Writing great content is essential to your content-marketing machine, but even great content doesn’t sell itself. You have to share and promote it if you want to build your business. Here are the tools you need:

7. Content Marketer

Word of mouth is powerful: 74 percent of consumers say that word of mouth is the top influencer in their purchasing decisions. As a result, having influencers share links to your content is a great way to build trust. I built Content Marketer to make it easier for people to connect with influencers to boost shares and increase traffic.

Related: How Much Should Your Content Marketing Really Cost?

8. Buffer

A popular social-media-management tool, Buffer allows you to share content with your social-media followers on multiple platforms throughout the day. Content can be scheduled in advance or posted in real time, helping you to balance the need for at-the-moment updates with hands-off management.

9. PixxFly

PixxFly allows you to automate the distribution and syndication of your content, saving your team time and money. The platform includes sharing of content, news releases, videos and other formats.

10. Narrow

Narrow is a great tool for building your Twitter following. It helps you build a targeted audience of prospective customers to follow and engage with. The software leverages and utilizes keywords and hashtags to identify a relevant audience.

Analytics and measurement

You can’t improve what you don’t measure, and that’s truer now with content marketing than ever before. Simply sharing content and hoping for the best is cheating your brand. Instead, use these tools to measure what you share and focus on the most effective platforms and content types.

11. Parse.ly

This tool uses predictive analytics to track the performance of topics and authors, capitalize on online trends, promote popular content and more. Parse.ly lets you know why audiences respond to your content so that you can publish more of it in the future.

12. SumAll

This tool gives you a comprehensive understanding of your social-media channels. SumAll tracks all of your data in one place, making it easy to get a complete look at the success of your social-media campaigns.

13. Raven Tools

The capabilities of Raven Tools help you to take a comprehensive look at your results — from website search-engine optimization to social media to pay-per-click ads — and to benchmark your results against your competitors’. The company’s reports are easy to create and can be set to run automatically at regular intervals.

The entire content-marketing process can seem overwhelming, but designing a successful content-marketing machine is simply a question of having the right tools in place. With the tools listed above, your strategy and execution for 2016 will be ready in no time.

What other tools do you use in your content-marketing machine? Share your best recommendations in the comments section below.