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Category Archives: Integrated Marketing

It’s All Geek to Me

Many people earn degrees based on their interests, it only makes sense, right? However, let’s face it, not everyone has same interest and maybe your run slightly (or highly) more to the nerd side. Sure you would love to be musician or draw concept art for car makers, but that just isn’t your thing. You are far more into Dungeons and Dragons than designing buildings. If so, here are some degrees you might like.

Astronomy – If you wish you could boldly go where no man has gone before, well now you can, at least in your mind. If long night and large telescopes intrigue you then why not study astronomy?  Granted, this can be pretty intense and mind boggling at times but deep down inside, you know you would love every minute of it. You might even get lucky and discover a planet or an asteroid about to hit the earth.

Physics – Physics and any other type of physics have a lot of overlap. If you like colliding invisible particles in multi-billion dollar pieces of equipment then you should love this field.  If you know what a mass spectrometer is, or how to use one then you definitely need to major in this.  Once again, this is no casual stroll through academic America, it is pretty tough stuff to wrap your head around, but you can do it. Just don’t look too closely too quantum physics, that stuffs insane.

Math – If you are math addict then you have little choice but to major in math. For some reason, geeks everywhere seem to love this subject and somehow they actually understand it.  Teaching would be your most likely option, but if you learn your advanced stuff you could get into programming, code breaking or the exciting world of accounting. If this isn’t for you, do what I did and go for…

History – On the entirely different end of the nerd mass spectrometer you can delve into the depths of history and the liberal arts. Learn about the battles epic battles with knights and maybe reenact some of them yourself.  Antiquities, artifacts and folklore are yours to master. You can even specialize in a military masters degree. If worst-comes-to-worst, you could at least get a job at Medieval Times.

Which bring us to literature, the cute, shy sister of history. Everyone has seen a bookworm or two in their lives. You know, they are always reading. They read in the car, they read while working out, they read while they eat and they fall asleep while reading. Are all books nerdy? No, but most are. For those who love to explore the vast plains of the unbridled imagination then literature is for you.

Which leaves us to the more important and eternal question, what will you do with these degrees? Well, it is true that many people end up doing something not related to their degree at all, teaching is the most obvious choice. You can go and be an inspiring influence and younger nerds who were once just like yours and let them see just where they will end up.

Jeff Jordan lives, breathes and writes in sunny Southern California. He mainly writes about education. automobiles, navy education, real estate and pop culture.  He would write about romance and dating but sadly knows nothing about it.

 

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The Significance of Lead Scoring in Marketing Automation

Marketing automation platforms – those that allow ‘dripped’ marketing by email, text message or another form of contact – have become incredibly popular as more consumers integrate the internet into their daily lives.

What is ‘Lead Scoring’?

Lead scoring refers to the process of choosing how close a lead is to purchasing based on where they are in the prospect cycle. For instance, if a prospect visits a website and spends two or three minutes browsing around before entering their email address into a form and leaving, they would likely score very low. Conversely, a prospect that has clicked through from a marketing email, browsed an online shop and added items to a shopping cart is likely very close to making a purchase, and would score much higher.

Motivating the Prospect to Take Action

Lead scoring is the best way to make marketing automation software work with high efficiency. Leads that are already close to purchasing or have made a purchase in the past are going to be turned off if they receive marketing material directed at cold prospects and brand new leads. By using a multi-step marketing campaign, leads can be coaxed to higher and higher scores and eventually converted when they are ready to purchase or end up making an impulse buy. Leverage marketing automation software to continually provide more and more motivation for the prospect to respond, and they will take action accordingly.

Creating a Long-Term Conversion Plan

The vast majority of prospects won’t convert the first or second time they are contacted. As a matter of fact, research suggests that prospects – especially those being contacted via email – may take up to ten or more contact points before they are converted into paying customers. This is where marketing automation software comes in handy; these automation platforms never forget about a prospect, and can be set to contact them with new content indefinitely. Invest the time and resources in creating a long-term contact and conversion plan for your prospects and with a few tweaks along the way it is sure to pay off.

Without a doubt, modern marketing automation software platforms offer marketers the ability to connect with leads and prospective customers far better than has been possible in the past. As long as campaigns are planned, executed, analyzed and optimized for improvement, there are few better ways to market to leads generated online.

John is a small business owner, and contributing writer for Aprimo marketing software.

 

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Why Flash and Animated Websites Can Be Bad for Business

by Chris Bolton

Click to View Animated Gif

I love special effects, video games, and Sci-Fi movies. But I can’t stand a slow-loading animated website when I’m trying to accomplish a purpose. If I’m trying to get some information or buy a product, I want the shortest distance between my mouse and my goal. This is why Flash websites can sometimes do more damage than good. Sure, you’ve got a goldfish swimming behind the article you’re trying to read and fireworks following every move of the cursor–that’s a nifty trick–but I can’t read anything on the site, and it takes forever for all the graphics to load.

Most people who work in the web-world know that Adobe Flash-based websites have numerous issues. They don’t work on manymobile devices; they load slow; they can’t be read by Google (which means they get poor search engine ranking).

That being said, what if there was a solution that worked better than Flash–something that loaded faster and played nice with Google? Would we all start building websites that snow, sparkle, flip upside down, and make burps when we click buttons?

Well, there are alternatives to Flash these days. HTML5 is the most promising, and as it is more widely adopted, you will see more websites with HTML5 animation. But this is where I think we need to pause . . .

Just because we have these tools doesn’t mean we should run out and start dousing our sites in animated menus, dancing puppies, and scrolling banners.

Here are 5 reasons I think you should think twice before creating a website that relies heavily on any kind of animated effects.

1. Shiny/Flashy/Moving Things are Distracting

Things that blink, buzz, and whir serve a good purpose. There is a reason why we have traffic signs that blink, sirens that scream, and alarm clocks that buzz. These things are designed to tear our attention away from whatever we were trying to do in the first place and PAY ATTENTION. This is never a pleasant experience. Ambulance sirens scare the hell out of me, but I’m generally forgiving because they are serving a public good. If your website starts screaming, talking, spinning, or blinking, it might just scare the hell out of me as well. But my reaction will not be so forgiving. In fact I will never go to your website again.

2. Slow Load Time

Even if you have super-fast internet, your fans and customers may not. You’ve got about 2 seconds to engage your audience before they click onto the next thing. Loading excess animations and video will slow down your site load time. Also, putting a video or song on your website is great, but don’t make it auto-play. If your visitor wants to watch or listen, they will push play and they will usually wait a reasonable about of time for it to load. But most users like to choose whether to watch a video or not.

3. Animations Often Force an Experience

The internet is full of options. People like options. If a fancy animation loads when you land on a website, you are forced to watch it before you can go on to what you were trying to accomplish. The perfect example of this is a “splash page.” This is a page that loads prior to landing on a homepage and usually features some kind of animation or ad. Now if I’m trying to locate a concert date, buy your eBook, or perform any other transaction on your site, a splash page serves a s a barrier between your site and my intended action. If I’m on a mobile phone it could break your website completely.

4. Inconsistent Mobile and Tablet Experiences

More and more people are using phones and tablets to access the internet and leaving their desktops to gather dust. Creating animations that work well on a big screen and a tiny phone screen is a tough challenge and it often fails. The best mobile experience, in my opinion, is a simple one. I’m usually in transit when I use my phone and I want my information fast. Ask yourself what you want people to do on your website and make that super easy to do on any device.

5. Search Ranking

Search engines, like Google, are great at reading text. They are not-so-great at reading images and animations. Sure, HTML5 will be easier for Google to handle then flash, but because of the potential for keyword stuffing and hidden text, words that are embedded in images will probably not be given the same weight as text on the page.

All this being said, I love special effects and animation and there are some awesome interactive websites that are exceptions to the rule because they are designed as a novelty or a multimedia experience. But if you’re trying to grow your fan base and readership and sell some merchandise, you don’t need special effects. You just need a great-looking website that is easy to use.

 

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10 Of The World’s Dullest Trade Conferences

It’s true that what’s ‘cool’ and what’s ‘dull’ are pretty subjective and one person’s best trade conference ever could be an event of excruciatingly boring proportions to someone else. Despite this, there are some trade conferences that most people are not going to consider exciting, no matter which way you look at them – such as these 10 of the world’s dullest trade conferences.

1. The International Water & Effluent Exhibition (http://www.sustainabilitylive.com/Content/IWEX/7/) might well be of interest to those within the industry, but to the rest of the world, a conference that deals with the disposal of various different types of waste and water technology is not going to float many boats.

2. Kiosk Europe Expo (http://www.kioskeurope.com/ke-expo). It’s a trade conference about self-service terminals – enough said really.

3. The International Portable Toilets and Public Health Facilities Exhibition (http://www.toiletschina.com) is definitely something of an acquired taste and unlikely to hold much allure for anyone without a very specific interest in certain types of sanitation.

4. Contamination Control & Cleanroom Products Exhibition (http://www.cleanroom-technology.co.uk) no doubt deals with some essential issues, but for the average Joe, the subject matter of this exhibition isn’t going to be worth cancelling any plans for.

5. American Coatings Show (http://www.american-coatings-show.com) is three whole days of events and exhibitions dedicated to – yes you guessed it – coatings; that’s paints, sealants, adhesives and the like to the rest of us. Unless you have a very specific interest in coatings, you may well be better off watching paint dry…

6. The Plastics Design & Moulding Exhibition & Conference (http://www.pdmevent.com) certainly seems to deserve the title of one of the 10 of the world’s dullest trade conferences – I mean there’s not a lot you can say about plastic design and moulding is there.

7. The Festival of Quilts (http://www.twistedthread.com/pages/exhibitions/viewExhibition.aspx?id=38&view=overview) may have limited appeal for those in the professional quilting business, or anyone who wants to indulge in several days worth of quilting talks, demonstrations and presentations. For most of the rest of the world though, it’s not going to offer anything groundbreaking.

8. The International Cheese Technology Expo (http://www.cheeseexpo.org) is a focused event for those in the cheese and diary industry – looked at as a percentage of the world’s population, that’s not a huge figure, so the number of people who might find this expo more interesting than cleaning out the fridge is likely to be small. Buy tickets for this for any enemies you have with a dairy intolerance.

9. Harrogate Flooring Show (http://www.theflooringshow.com) claims to be the UK’s only dedicated flooring event, a title that it may well hold for very good reason. This is one very specifically for the flooring enthusiasts – there’s not even a roofing exhibit to break up the monotony.

10. Lets face it, offices are pretty dull places at the best of times, and tend to be somewhere most people try to spend as little time as possible. A whole trade conference about offices then is only for real gluttons for punishment. The Office Show (http://www.officeshow.co.uk) offers two days of presentations, Q&As and exhibits about office equipment, stationary, office furniture and the like, creating a giant office-like environment.  Yay.

Although there might be some strange souls among us who relish the thought of events like these, on the whole it’s probably fair to say that these 10 of the world’s dullest trade conferences give each other a run for their money in terms of the yawn factor.

John wrote this guest post on behalf of Just Displays who provide exhibition displays and pop up stands which will make even the dullest trade show look a bit more exciting!

 

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3 Simple Marketing Ideas You Need to Start Doing For Your Business

One thing I’ve never heard anyone complain about is having too many sales. Now, your business can certainly grow more quickly than you expected, and you may have to find ways to scale it and keep up, but in all actuality, who isn’t looking to boost sales a bit?

There are some things that you can do right this very moment that can help increase your brand awareness, and pull customers in from sources that you otherwise may not have.

Here are 3 simple ideas that you can implement into your marketing plan immediately:

1. Start using coupon sites. This is a strategy that I started awhile back, after I started inserting coupon codes on some of the standard business promotion sites, like Manta and Merchant Circle, offering discounts on orders at my website. When I saw the codes being used by my customers quite frequently, I decided to see where else I could place coupons for my company.

Do a search for coupon sites in your favorite search engine, and start visiting these pages. Some of them have quirky hoops that you need to jump through in order to get a coupon listed, but many of them allow just about anyone to add a coupon for any store, both online and offline. Some of my favorites that I have seen some good return on, and were easy to submit my coupon codes to, are 247coupon.com, hotfrog, retailmenot.com, and coupon chief.

2. Start Pinning on Pinterest. Ok, so this is a simple marketing strategy that you should be using if your particular niche is catered to women. Pinterest is an image-sharing platform that has taken social media by storm. 90% of its users are female.

Create a pin board, using product images and other interesting content, in hopes that it will go viral. Infographics, which are a hot marketing tool, are great for pushing out on Pinterest.

3. Start “thanking” your customers. Well, you should be doing this literally all the time. However, do you ever make that extra effort to wow your customers?

Show them how much you appreciate their business, and surprise them with complimentary items when they place a big order with you. Also be sure to take care of the customers that have been loyal to you for a long time. They may place smaller orders, but the fact that they have consistently done so for a few years, certainly deserves recognition with a small token of your appreciation. Sending a “thank you” note, along with a gift card for gas, movies, coffee or books, in their order or out-of-the-blue, will go a long way with a customer.

Gestures like this will be remembered by them when it comes time to reorder, and one of your competitors is offering a better price. Many consumers will go with a business they feel comfortable with, and who they know will treat them well, even if it means paying a few dollars more. It can also help to smooth things over a bit if/when there may be a customer service problem in the future.

I know there are many other things that go into a marketing plan, but start implementing these tactics, and I guarantee you’ll start attracting more buyers.

John Ehlenbeck is a small business owner, and contributing writer for Aprimo Marketing Automation Software.

 

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Print Design vs. Web Design – Which Channel is Best to Market Your Business

 

Both print and web design are important to the growth of a business today but prioritising one over the other is dependent on your business needs. Newspapers and magazines have had to adjust their methods of doing business as the internet has increased in popularity but they have not disappeared. However, you now can find online versions of newspapers called advertorials.

Targeting different customers

If you run your own business, it is important to invest in both: online (web) and offline (print). A website is open and available 24 hours a day to inform and possibly sell to your customers. However, not everyone may be looking for your business online. For example if you are a retailer and many of your customers are older than 50 or 60 (not being discriminatory), they may not be surfing the web and instead will be reading their local newspaper and therefore will see adverts placed by local businesses.

Print characteristics

Print design has certain characteristics, different to web.  The space is generally measured inches and the area can be anywhere from a business card to a street billboard.  It is important to have a bleed around each printing piece but the best part about print is the design will look the same to everyone who sees it.  Page layouts are static designs unlike on the web. Printing will be done in CMYK colours and all images will be in tiff and eps format.

Designing for the web

All images for the web will be in a different format to those for printing offline. They are in a jpeg, gif or png and tend to have a lower resolution than those for print, otherwise it may take too long to load the web page.  With web design, as the pages are more fluid and dynamic, you will need to ensure the site or graphic you are designing  looks good on all monitors and resolutions.  Colours are displayed in RGB, so check there is a CMYK equivalent so that you can use the same colour offline.

Staying within the budget

If you are small company and cannot afford to have two companies working on your web and print design, then you need to make sure what you have on your website can be easily translated into print.  It goes back to having good standard branding for your site. Your audience has to be able to recognise your logo clearly whether it is offline or on the web. If you are thinking about asking a web designer to handle all of your print work as well, be sure to look at the print samples before you sign off the work. Your website and print collateral represents you and your business.

There are many companies throughout Australia which offer photocopying services, business card and brochure printing.  For printing in Brisbane, visit your local printing company.

 

 

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Healthy Staff Investment Aids Business Growth

After many years of experience working within corporate America, I have seen how businesses that invest in the health of employees flourish more than those that make little effort to do so.

Business Losses

Aside from the humanitarian aspects, I have personally experienced and witnessed that unhealthy employees cost a company far more than healthy ones do. It has been estimated that unhealthy staff costs billions of dollars each year for businesses, related to:

- Costly temporary staff replacements;

- Backlogged work;

- Ineffective workflows that create business disruptions;

- Increased heath care premium costs; and

- General lower productivity.

Lessening Stress Promotes Healthy Staff

I also noticed that as a healthy worker, I was far more productive than when I was ill. Nearly every sickness I ever had was related in some way to the often needless stress from:

- Lack of organization;

- Unrealistic workloads;

- Being continually exposed to employees who were sick.

Doctors have recognized how stress plays a large factor in illness. Stressed out, overworked staff will spend more time at the doctor’s office which drive up health care costs. Additionally, unhealthy workers greatly contribute to business disruptions.

European Human Resources Philosophy

Many European businesses have been way ahead of the U.S. when it comes to the overall treatment of their employees. For example, when I worked with a bank that was based in Amsterdam, I was shocked to learn of the various health-related perks:

- 100% paid health care plan;

- Fully paid gym memberships;

- Three weeks of paid time off for vacation immediately;

- Unlimited, paid sick time;

- Doctor visits counted as paid sick time;

- Twelve days of personal time;

- Every major holiday off;

- Extra bank and European holidays; and

- Bonuses paid in cash or time off.

I had thought that allowing employees to take unlimited sick time would encourage abusing this privilege. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Because I knew that I would be covered financially should I become ill, I found that I almost never needed to take a sick day off. Of course, part of the reason that I stayed so healthy was probably due also to:

- Realistic workloads;

- Positive, thoughtful work environments;

- Communicative management; and

- Less chance of contracting an illness, since people stayed home when they were ill.

Rarely did anyone in the office need more than a few hours to a day or two. Usually, “sick time” was used to go to the regular check-ups that the company also encouraged that each employee take advantage of, through its fully paid, no-co pay health plan.

What’s more, I was never made to feel badly about visiting the doctor or staying home if necessary. Rather, I was encouraged to do so. This company understood that having sick employees in the office was not good for business. Illnesses are spread and there is nothing productive about insisting that employees who are sick come to work. For this reason, I now choose workplaces not entirely by compensation, but by the culture of overall health that they adopt.

This author writes articles advising business owners to invest more in their employees and also reads medical alert systems reviews.

 

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Going viral: from 350 to 135,000 readers a day

Recently one of my blog articles (A Dog’s Purpose? from a 6-year-old) went “viral” and in one week, had 335,000 hits.

One can never predict the reaction of the Internet, but your next article could be the one.  Who knows?  The point is that if you don’t set up a Social Network, maintain it regularly, and generate good content, it is sure not to happen.  I have to admit, it took me two years to grow the circulation from zero to around 350 readers a day.  When this article was first published it started with a few readers.  The next day it was around a hundred, the next 500, then 2,500, and then on a Friday it soared to 135,000 readers in a single day.

The amount of positive feedback we have had is amazing, and my business has never been better, time to re-staff.  The moral of the story is that attraction marketing is not an overnight sensation, but a process.  It takes time to build trust, and a brand, but if you stick with it, it works!

In my consulting business I work with business owners to integrate social media and internet publishing to generate interest and drive prospects to their websites, and make sure the sites are optimized to convert prospects into customers.  I would love to discuss some improvements to your business, at no charge, if you are interested.  Feel free to drop me a line by email @ steve@bayintegratedmarketing.com  http://www.bayintegratedmarketing.com  and please if you haven’t yet, please join my LinkedIn network at: http://linkd.in/IPwsK7v 

 

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Start-Up Business Advertising – Online or Offline?

In the past, advertising was regulated to television and print media. However, with the invention of the internet, there is an entire new sphere with which to consume content and advertise to clients. For business with a website, there are an abundance of advertising and marketing tools at your disposal for generating new business.

It doesn’t matter if you sell products online or not, the internet is still an excellent way to attract new business. In fact when it comes to online versus offline advertising, research shows that using the internet is far more advantageous for new businesses than traditional methods.

Creative Versus Directional Advertising

Creative advertising involves billboards, radio, television, magazines, and newspapers. These are considered offline methods, and have traditionally been known as “creative.” This is not to imply the advertising is imaginative or artistic. Creative in this sense means creating interest in your product. As the consumer had never intended to come across your product, you are in a sense creating interest.

Directional advertising is a term used for online advertising, as the intent is typically to direct your marketing efforts at a particular group that has either made a search query or visited a particular product page. In other words, contrary to creative advertising, the consumers here are already interested in purchasing something, and are looking for a relevant item.

Targeted Marketing

With offline advertising there is some targeting involved, as you can market to a particular base or genre. For example, if you sell women’s hygiene products, you would advertise in magazines that have a large female subscriber base as opposed to a men’s health magazine. Nevertheless, this is an imperfect strategy, and you are never going to target the specific client you are looking for. On the internet you have far more specialization and can place your advertisements only on relevant websites. Furthermore, you can use search functions to find clients who are actively searching for your product.

What the internet provides is a more efficient advertising strategy that markets by location and keywords as opposed to casting a wide net and hoping to find potential clients. This also presents a cheaper alternative given that the number of people you are advertising to will be less, even as the number of relevant consumers you reach increases. For example, a magazine or television show will charge you based on the number of readers or viewers they receive. There is nothing to distinguish how many of those people are potential customers, yet you will be charged all the same. Conversely, with online advertising, the numbers will be much smaller but will also be better targeted. Moreover, online content itself is cheaper to produce. All of this adds to being able to advertise more effectively in terms of cost and strategy, something that is essential to new businesses.

Content and Research

In addition to more efficient advertising, in recent years the amount of content that is shown online has rapidly increased. Newspapers and magazines are even making the shift to the world wide web, and more consumers are using the internet to consume news and entertainment.

However, the internet also serves as an important reference for those looking to research products before buying them. 9 out of every 10 consumers will visit a product page and read customer feedback on an item before purchasing them offline. It is important that you monitor what people are saying online and address any concerns your consumers may have. Using a company page on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will help you market and provide customer service directly, and avoid having to fight to display your business at the top of search engine. Conversely, you would have to pay a substantial cost to get premium advertising space offline.

Cliff Hill writes on behalf of PublicLiabilityInsurance.org (Click here to visit) an online resource for business owners providing self employed insurance.

 

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Writing Style Tips for Marketers

Writing is the most influential tactic you can employ as a marketer. You can have pretty graphics, but the words you write are what will inform, educate and entice your customers to take action.
Before you can write effectively, though, you need to decide what type of writing style you want to incorporate. Your style needs to remain consistent throughout all of your collateral, as this will help create brand recognition among your customers. If you continue to change voices and styles on every new marketing collateral you generate, it will leave your customers confused.
The following are writing style tips for marketers.

Choose your style.

Take a good look at your company and what you have to offer. Then, take a good look at your target market. When you decide which type of style to use, you need to consider your audience first, as these are the people who will be reading your marketing collateral. Determine what type of writing style is most effective to your target audience. Do they prefer persuasive pieces, informative pieces or maybe even narrative pieces? Once you know what your readers want, you can start writing to this desired style.
Keep a consistent voice.

Determining your writing style is only a part of the battle. You also need to pick a voice. Do you want to be informative, or do you maybe want to be more lighthearted and funny? Again, you need to look at who your audience is and what they are most likely to relate to.
Be clear and concise.

Your audience doesn’t have all day to read your collateral, so you need to grab their attention, inform them and get them to take action in as little sentences as possible. Don’t talk around your topic, and don’t say the same thing in multiple ways.
You also need to make sure that your sentences make complete sense. If you use fragments or run on sentences, or if you mess up the subject/verb agreement, it’s going to make your writing harder to follow. The more work your audience has to put into understanding your collateral, the less likely they will be to read more.
Know your topic.

If you don’t have a good handle on the topic you’re writing about, your message is not going to be effective. Before you can offer advice or inform your readers about a topic, you need to know a good deal about it. The purpose of your writing is to come off as an expert. If your content only includes the basics, your readers aren’t going to take action.
Having a good grasp on your writing style will help your messaging become more consistent while reaching your target audience. Having a consistent writing style will also help give you some brand recognition. If you don’t have a consistent style, you will not effectively reach your audience, and you run the risk of losing some business. Using these writing tips will help you achieve a writing style and start reaping the benefits.

Andrew Malak is a business student at the Univeristy of Texas. He is obsessive about his grammar usage and refuses to submit any writing or homework without first proofing it with a grammar checker. Most of the time he has no problem remembering grammar rules but he likes to use the software to double-check.

 

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