HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog’s 30 Amazing Marketing Tools, Tips & Tricks We’re Thankful For, by  Amanda Sibley lists some of the tools, tricks, and tips that marketers say help them do their jobs better. Here are a few:

Social Media Tools

Facebook Global Pages – This newly developed tool tool allows marketers to create one central maintenance location with better targeting options instead of having to choose between a single Facebook page for an entire global audience, or multiple pages to target specific audiences.

Audience Targeting in Facebook Advertisements – Facebook’s ad platform audience targeting allows marketers to create ads for a specific target audience. This makes your ads more relevant and allows you to target custom audiences from email addresses in your database

Content Creation Tools

Evernote – Note-taking apps are helpful for writing or brainstorming content on the go.

Factbrowser  helps you find compelling stats or data points as you create content. It breaks down data by topic, source, format, region, and/or demographic.

CreativeCommons – This gives you another option for finding images for your marketing content. Instead of using stock photography or creating the images yourself, you can use CreativeCommons to search for free photos that are that are allowed to be used commercially, provided you give credit to the artist.

PowerPoint for Design – Marketers can create professional looking calls-to-action, ebooks, and infographics without hiring the services of a designer by using PowerPoint as a design tool.

Snipping Tool – This Windows tool lets you easily take screen captures. Hubspot provides an  overview.

Hubspot’s free template to help you easily create infographics.

SEO Tools

Free Site Crawl Tools – Free tools like Xenu and Screaming Frog crawl your entire site, and provide you a spreadsheet of all the pages, URLs, and broken links on your site.

Analytics Tools

VLOOKUP – You can use VLOOKUP in Excel to search for and identify particular sets of data, allowing you to analyze data quickly.

Statistical Significance Calculator – When you’re running tests in your marketing, statistical significance calculators can tell you when your test’s results are actually meaningful.

Collaboration & Planning Tools

Google Drive (Google Docs) – This tool helps everyone on a team to see and update information in real time.

Sales & Nurturing Tools

Landing Page Creation Tool – It can take a long time to get landing pages created working with IT.  to get landing pages created. Easy landing page creation tools like HubSpot allow you to create a landing page in minutes, making it easier to launch offers and lead generation.

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Top 5 Challenges Marketers Face

Hubspot’s analysis of the top Challenges for B2B vs. B2C shows that the most common challenge across both segments is driving awareness and traffic, in other words, optimizing the top of the funnel to grow their reach. Here are the top challenges:

The top 10 challenges across both B2B and B2C companies are:

  1. Awareness/traffic (22.5%)
  2. Lead generation (16.2%)
  3. Social media (6.3%)
  4. Targeting (5.4%)
  5. Branding/brand recognition (4.5%)
  6. Converting leads to customers (3.6%)
  7. Keeping up with marketing trends (3.6%)
  8. Increasing/proving ROI (2.7%)
  9. Content creation (1.8%)
  10. Budget (1.8%)

The top 5 B2B marketing challenges are:

  1. Awareness/traffic (22.5%)
  2. Lead generation (16.2%)
  3. Social media (6.3%)
  4. Targeting (5.4%)
  5. Branding/brand recognition (4.5%)

The top 5 B2C marketing challenges are:

  1. Awareness/traffic (19.6%)
  2. Social media (17.9%)
  3. Targeting (10.7%)
  4. Budget (8%)
  5. Lead generation (8%)

The HubSpot Inbound Internet Marketing blog’s Sarah Goliger identifies 5 Major Challenges Marketers Face (And How to Solve Them). While we all face different challenges, there are some areas that any marketer can improve on. HubSpot’s quick 3-question quiz – “What’s Your Biggest Marketing Opportunity?”  can help you hone in on where you might best focus your efforts to improve the effectiveness of your marketing more effective.HubSpot’s analyzed their results to identify some of the most common challenges marketers have told them that they face, and suggests solutions.

1. Generating Awareness and Driving Traffic 

Challenge: To beging generating leads to convert into customers, you need to get your audience’s attention. This means generating a large enough volume of interested prospects by understanding which channels can get you the highest return.Solution: You first need to determine if you are using the right social networks where your natural audience is.  Some suggestions include using tools to “widen the top of your marketing funnel, such as:

2. Targeting Effectively 

 Challenge: Hubspot recommends that you identify your buyer personas. In other words, make a clear determination of who it is you should be marketing to:

Offer some sort of value to them (fulfill a need or desire – for instance, to learn or understand something about your industry or alleviate a problem that your product aims to solve.)

Make your message relevant to your audience.

Solution: Start by developing a detailed picture of your target audience, building buyer personas through a 3 step process:

  • Segment by demographics.
  • Identify their needs.
  • Develop behavior-based profiles.

Then determine what each buyer persona is looking for for and how you can provide value to that persona and tailor your content to make your message relevant to every individual lead.  Hubspot provides  and developed a  to help you research and create detailed buyer personas.

3. Using Social Media to Generate Customers and Revenue

Challenge: Increasingly, companies understand the business value in social media marketing. The problem is, they don’t know how to convert social engagement into dollars – the science of targeting, engaging, and nurturing a social following that can be a source of quality leads for conversion.Solution: Managing media marketing requires that you:

  • Recognize influencers.
  • Segment groups of users based on their social activity and interests.
  • Properly time and manage appropriate follow-up communication.

Social media lead intelligence about a lead’s behavior and interaction with your company in social networks will enable public facing representatives to have more meaningful and targeted conversations with specific, tailored information about that person’s activity. Personalized conversations based on information that is personally relevant to the customer lead to higher conversion rates.

4. Keeping Up With Marketing Trends and Strategies

Challenge: Marketing has increasingly shifted its focus from print media to online media, and social media is becoming a dominant platform for two-way communication and feedback collection. How can you keep up with new technologies, trends and strategies in this quickly changing environment?Solution: Effective marketing means investing in consumer research and ongoing marketing resources to know:

  • Where your audience is.
  • How to provide value to them.
  • What the best tools and methods are for doing so.

5. Proving ROI

Challenge: The proliferation of advanced analytics tools means that marketers are held to a higher standard. You must be able to measure the value of your efforts in terms of leads, customers, and revenue, tying every single lead, customer, and dollar back to the marketing initiative that created them.

Solution: Some suggestions Hubspot presents are as follows:

  • Closed-loop marketing cuts through the vagueness of marketing myths and assumptions and reveals real data about the results of your marketing efforts.
  • Advanced marketing analytics can track which marketing activities are generating leads, customers, and revenue.

Closed Loop Marketing means developing a loop of two-way messaging with customers. Done effectively, messages are pushed to the customer based on insights on customer preferences, or accessed in a self-service model. Data is gathered during the interaction leading to a cycle of continuous improvement. Enhanced knowledge about the customer and customer preferences allow you to refine the message or content to improve subsequent interactions.

In other words, it is about relationship building using data gleaned from customer interactions through various communication channels to support the continuous refining of relationships:

  • Selection of the channels and messages are driven by customer preference and receptivity.
  • This provides an improved customer database for refined segmentation by behavioral attributes.
  • Data about which content was presented, duration, frequency,which customers, feedback, responses to surveys, and click stream data, along with additional data sets such as sales, market share, sales growth provides you with the analytics to compare data sets for cause and effect in order to recommend corrections to the next approach.

In Closed Loop Marketing, when the insights gained during a customer interaction are used to make a change in the sales and marketing approach in order to improve a subsequent interaction, the loop is closed. Additionally, this intelligence can be extended to:

  • Multichannel Marketing – closed loop marketing with multiple interconnected channels.
  • Continuous Loop Marketing – allowing for improvements to happen on an ongoing basis, rather than one time only.

The Economist article, “Data, Data, Everywhere” discusses the fact that the digital universe is growing faster than the capability to store this information. In the graph below you can see a representation of this phenomenon measured in Exabytes. (5 Exabytes = all of the words ever spoken by mankind.)

To attempt to deal with all this data, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP have spent more than $15 billion in the past few years buying software firms specializing in data management and analytics – an industry  estimated to be worth more than $100 billion and growing at almost 10% a year, twice as fast as the software business as a whole.

This produces a significant problem for Marketers as well.

More Data Than Talent = Bad Marketing

 writes in New Media Media and Marketing that brands, like consumers are overwhelmed with too much data to know what to do with. And when it comes to Marketing, a new study shows that companies don’t have enough talent to know how to use it.  Rich sums up the problem:

With too much data, a lack of funding and resources and a scarcity of talented individuals and it’s not hard to understand why there is so much bad marketing out there.

The Problem: A Shortage of Marketing Talent

A study by MarketingSherpa conducted among small, medium and large businesses found that the most significant challenges facing marketers are:

  • Lack of funding or resources.
  • Lack of skilled individuals.

Here’s what the companies surveyed said were the major marketing problems they faced:

The Causes: Old Paradigms

Corporate politics:  A majority of respondents said that “there is at lest one wrong person in a critical position.”

Traditional Marketing Mindset:   Companies are still throwing money at traditional marketing tactics that are don’t engage today’s empowered consumers who don’t want to be interrupted with irrelevant ads.

No Clear ROI: Companies continue to do elaborate “branding” without demonstrating “a clear path to ROI.” In today’s cost-conscious environment, executives therefore see marketing as an expense rather than an investment in the brand.

The Solution: 5 Steps to Better Marketing

Companies need to find real marketing talent real fast. And Rich provides 5 steps to do so:

1: Hire Different:  If you want to “think different” then hire different. Instead of hiring people based on a close fit for a job description put together with the help of Human Resources, hire people for their passion and commitment to creative solutions.

2: Hire Outside the Boxers: Seek out those who question the status quo and adopt to them, rather than bring in those who fit in too well.

3: Hire Influencers: People who are creative and engaged and can influence others within your organization can get others excited about using data creatively to market to micro segments.

4: Hire Ego Challengers: As Rich puts it: “always hire someone smarter than you.”

5: Hire Non Technicians: Hire someone who knows how to use technology to maximize business objectives rather than someone who is just great at technology.

Do you want to read a 647 page report on data deluge?

Don’t be ridiculous. Rich Meyer’s last piece of advice is this:

Finally hire someone who can take a 60 slide Power Point deck and condense it down to one page of actionable recommendations against key brand objectives.   Either your organization is going to change or you’re going to become more and more irrelevant to consumers.

End of Story!

Data Driven Marketing

Hubspot Inbound Internet Marketing Blog has compiled 20 Revealing Stats, Charts, and Graphs Every Marketer Should Know. The compilation is from their 2012 edition of 120 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts & Graphs which provides information on inbound marketing, SEO, blogging, and social media, email, Pinterest, Google+ and mobile marketing.  The list of 20 contains some of the most interesting data points from that presentation.

Review this list of 20 to see what catches your eye. For further detail, click here for the full article.

The Top 20 Stats Every Marketer Should Know

1) Research is a vital part of online shopping.

2) 89% of marketers are maintaining or increasing their inbound marketing budgets.

3) Inbound remains more cost-effective than outbound marketing.

4) Search engines are often a starting point for product research

5) More web pages mean more leads.

6) 80% of email marketers send the same content to all subscribers.

7) B2B marketers use email segmentation heavily.

8) More and more people report reading email on mobile devices.

9) Social media & blogging generate real customers.

10) Social media adoption has grown drastically in the U.S.

11) Social media conversations influence purchases.

12) LinkedIn drives the most customers for B2B organizations.

13) Facebook drives the most conversions for B2C organizations.

14) Pinterest is popular mainly in the U.S.

15) Most marketers recognize the value of blogging.

16) Blog reading peaks around 10AM.

17) Facebook grows in importance to marketers.

18) Most Twitter users are 25-34 years old

19) Twitter drives more customers for B2C companies.

20) Mobile users rarely reopen emails on computers.

The full report of 120 marketing stats, charts, and graphs is available via free download.

Snap! principle of targeted online marketing:

Target your marketing to the audience by finding an optimal media mix and adjust your messaging accordingly.

Mature companies have overcome technical and data challenges in their quest to deliver a compelling multichannel customer experience empowerment (Research by Econsultancy and Foviance)

The second annual Multichannel Customer Experience Report by eConsultancy shows how organisations are committing to delivering an integrated experience in a world of evolving technology and the proliferation of devices. A survey of over 650 companies and agencies, finds key differences in what the most successful multichannel companies are doing versus those that are struggling.

Differing Perceptions of How To Provide a Positive Customer Experience

The findings show that mature and immature companies have a different perception of the attributes required for delivering a positive customer experience:

  • Mature companies are far more likely to regard ‘motivated and empowered staff’ and ‘efficient customer service’ as among the three most important attributes.
  • Immature companies are more focused on visibility of customer behavior across channels and the need for a single or joined-up customer database.

Better Customer Experience Data Gathering  = Better Outcomes

This doesn’t mean that mature companies aren’t concerned about technical and data-related issues, but that they have already mastered these areas and can now go on to reap the benefits by focusing on key performance issues. Immature companies that are still worried about technology and systems, are losing sight of the importance of customer service and empowered staff.

According to Richard Sedley, Commercial Director at Foviance:

Companies that have benefited most from improving their multichannel customer experience are those that have recognised the importance of combining quantitative and qualitative customer insights. If your company isn’t already capturing ‘voice of customer’ via onsite surveying and social listening and integrating it with data from web analytics and search there has never been a better time to start.

 Better Data = Better Marketing

 An article by Jeffrey Boorjian, Vice president, Marketing at Caesars Entertainment Corporation on Chief Marketing highlights the importance of using customer experience data to deepen marketing insight. By integrating service data into their customer records, marketers can use information to better shape campaigns, alert their companies to potential problems, and aid in product design.
The great thing is that customers are willing to share meaningful feedback to help you improve products, resolve disputes, uncover errors and increase revenues – for free. However, this information typically remains isolated, not funneled to the appropriate departments and represent the loss of a valuable opportunity to businesses that fail to incorporate service data into their customer records, and use it profitably.

How To Collect Feedback

Marketers have many opportunities to collect feedback, formal and informal. The informality of a channel does not minimize the value of the data that can be gathered. If you employ multiple channels to collect feedback, you get the benefit of hearing the perspectives of disparate customer segments, which avoids getting feedback that is heavily weighted with a certain customer type that isn’t representative of the entire population.

Data collection methods include:

Formal surveys
* Online and social media
* Real-time in-store interactions

1. Formal Surveys

Marketers who have regular customer surveys can receive continuous and valuable insight into how their customers view their businesses. Here are some guidelines:

  • Surveys should follow each step in the customer experience to understand the  important drivers of customer satisfaction. Tailoring each set of questions to customers’ use of specific products or services both expedites the process and demonstrates knowledge of customers’ preferences.
  • Marketers should weight the surveys so their most valuable consumers have the strongest voice. For instance, in the airline industry a customer who has purchased a first-class ticket one week before the flight represents a substantial premium vs. someone in coach who used loyalty program currency to obtain a ticket based months in advance. If there is consistent feedback on a certain area, management needs to understand which consumers it is coming from, and the potential revenue implications of changing strategy.
  • Marketers should optimize response rates through timing and incentives because consumers are bombarded with customer surveys.
  • Survey within seven days of a customer’s purchase because recency is often the best predictor of future behavior.  This allows customers to reflect on their experiences and provide the most memorable feedback.
  • Provide appropriate resting periods before soliciting feedback again. Too often retailers deploy surveys to the same customers after every transaction. Over time, this typically decreases response rates.
  • Provide a clear benefit to customers for taking the survey, such as entry into a monthly drawing or a future discounts. People like being rewarded for their efforts.

2. Online And Social Media

Step 1. Have channels available for consumers: Today’s technology enables marketers to collect data in real time. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, etc. enable businesses to connect with different customer segments. These channels provide a wealth of ideas and serve as the foundation for innovation. Websites like mystarbucksideas.com offer excellent examples of businesses creating a forum for brand enthusiasts to share new concepts, provide suggestions for improvement and gauge customer feedback.

Step 2. Ensure active engagement by employees who are knowledgeable and empowered to speak on behalf of the company. Quite often, customers have complaints or comments that require in-depth product knowledge. Customers expect an immediate response. If a business does not respond or provides a generic answer, consumers will quickly disengage.

3. Real-Time Interactions

Real-time data collection can be challenging activity, but it is extremely valuable to have a database that tracks transactions. This provides quantitative support that helps balance the qualitative feedback marketers collect.

For example, companies often keep detailed records of customer service calls, complaints and preferences so they can tailor their approach when speaking with each customer.  For example, if a service representative  knows that a customer called three weeks ago interested a product but hesitant about the price, he can offer a discounted rate.

Ultimately, the more businesses learn about their customers, particularly their most profitable ones, the better off they will be. By continually collecting feedback and disseminating this information so that it is available throughout all customer-facing channels, businesses will reap financial rewards and engender strong loyalty.

A Mass Marketing Contrarian’s View of Keeping It Real

“Clueless Is No Excuse”

It has been reported recently that most executives have no idea how to measure the impact of social media and even digital marketing in driving business objectives.  New Media and Marketing presented an interesting Contrarian’s view of social media and digital marketing. According to New Media and Marketing:

In my 15 years as a marketer, I don’t think I have seen more BS and hype around a specific channel than I have seen for social media.   So called social media experts lead marketers to believe that they absolutely need to have a Facebook page or Twitter account.  When marketers sink resources into social media they then become desperate to show some kind of ROI to C suite executives.

4 Realities of Social Media 

1. According to Simplyzesty.comOnly 16% of people who are a fan of your brand see your brand feed posts on  Facebook.

2.  In-store influence is more important.  Nearly one-quarter of moms say that their brand decisions are heavily influenced by in-store circulars.

3. New research has found that consumers feel overwhelmed with information and usually want want less of it  This includes marketing messages. Brands that help consumers simplify the purchase journey have customers who are 86% more likely to purchase their products and 115% more likely to recommend their brand to others.

4. Most marketers feel that social media is providing an ROI but they don’t know how to measure it.   Executives who said their companies had established an extensive social media presence reported a return on investment that was more than four times that of companies with little or no social network engagement activity.  But how they are measuring social media and is it really just self justification for  social media spend? The Contrarian believes that:

  •  Most brands and marketers believe that social media is more important to their brands that it actually is.
  • Most are clueless about the resources needed to measure its impact and  most don’t even have a handle on any of their digital marketing.

Contrarian’s View

Analytics are important and require investment in resources. The Contrarian believes that marketers who buy into the notion that that social media is very important to their mix are going to pay a huge price in misallocated resources.

Snap! principle of the contrarian’s warning about social marketing:

Be aware that the return may be difficult to measure and may not always justify the investment

 

Anytime, Anyplace Marketing

1. Big Data

Capture Customer Data at Every Touch Point: With most large corporations depending increasingly on big data, sales and marketing departments are charged with capturing customer data at every touch point. Channels for collection include phone conversations, online and offline forms, and  face-to-face conversations. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools then store interaction histories of past, current and prospective customers, increasing buying opportunities. Information about buying behavior across multiple channels creates lucrative opportunities to engage potential buyers to drive revenue at every stage of the customer lifecycle at just the right times.

2. Right-time Multichannel Marketing

Understand the customer lifecycle:  Integration of audience data from multiple sources makes it possible to correlate customer attributes and interests,  replacing a scattershot approach to marketing with more targeted, effective, and memorable multiple-channel campaigns. By transforming big data into customer intelligence, you realize increased opportunities to drive revenue throughout the customer lifecycle.

Traditionally, Sales and marketing departments lack the ability to integrate existing data into integrated digital marketing campaigns and to use the data to extract valuable and actionable insights. But they are now moving toward more integrated paths across multiple media channels that include websites, social media, mobile, video, email, search, display, PPC, and PR. Through social media, we can see our audience’s response in real time and we can integrate the their profile data into CRM and marketing automation tools.  Marketers thereby achieve right-time multichannel marketing and revenue optimization.

3. Marketing Automation Integration with CMS and CRM

Marketing Automation and CRM Integration creates a closed-loop sales and marketing system that connects and extends your big data: Companies are building intelligent functionality to provide better data to their audiences via their various platforms. According to Talent Zoo’s Hassan Bawab, benefits of this approach include:

  • Higher rates of reporting and forecasting metrics
  • Cohesively combining customer interactions, insights, and resulting actions
  • Improving demand generation and qualified leads
  • Real-time and intuitive personalization
  • Instant intelligence on prospects and deal influencers of site visitors
  • Increasing efficiency and decreasing complexity

Through these new tools, marketers can use the customer lifecycle as a dynamic means to engage prospects and customers at the right time, with the right offer, in the way they choose to buy.

Related Article:

Taking Advantage of Digital Marketing Trends 2012 and Beyond, Content Marketing Today

Snap! principle of data marketing integration:

Data integration is transforming marketing to a dynamic means of engaging customers at the right time, with the right offer, in the ways they choose to buy.