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12/03/2015 10:09 AM
How to Earn Revenue With Your Customer Support
How to Earn Revenue With Your Customer Support

Image via BigStockPhoto.com

When a company looks at cutting costs, one of the first things to get affected is the customer care team. Since most customer care teams are outsourced, the pain of letting people go doesn’t feel real and is easier to bear. Also, there’s always the lure of the cheaper call center around the corner that will make your account books look healthy again.

Whether you are a service-based business or a budding new ecommerce site, letting customer service suffer in a bid to grow profits is like stepping on the brakes hoping your car will go faster.

Customer care, when done right, has the power to earn you revenues and not just be a drain on your resources. (highlight to tweet) Here are a few ideas on how to bring about that transformation in your customer care team.

Make Customer Care Mind-Blowing

If you’re treated wonderfully at a particular hotel, would you think twice about booking there again the next time you’re in town? Probably not. Research shows that customers adhere to the principle of reciprocity. You treat them well, and they reciprocate by bringing their business to you again.

According to a study by Bain & Co., increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase business profits by 25% to 95%. The study goes on to cite the example of fast food chain Chik-Fil-A to prove its point. Chik-Fil-A enjoys such strong customer loyalty that it pays its store operators double or triple the industry average pay and still affords to give 10% of their profits to charity.

Use Coupons to Drive Repeat Business

Gone are the days when customer care was limited to the telephone and, maybe, email. Today, customer care is everywhere. Websites have Live Chat options that allow users to speak to a customer care representative via chat while they’re in the middle of browsing your site or even making a purchase. Customers reach out via social media and expect answers instantly.

This increased exposure to customer care means representatives are ideally suited to offer customers reasons to visit your store again—in the form of coupons. End every customer care interaction with a special coupon that tempts your customers to come back and buy again from you. The multiplicity of customer touch points makes customer support teams perfect for this role. Moreover, a free unexpected gift along with the perfect solution to their initial problem makes a great combination to end the call with, don’t you think?

Send Reminders for Subscriptions and Refills

Many businesses have products that don’t have a very long shelf life, like food items. Others sell products that need upgrading every now and then, like smartphones. Yet others offer products that run out on a cyclical basis, like dog food. Whichever category your business comes under, your customers are often perfect candidates for a refill or an upgrade.

Reach out to your customers, and remind them about their product that’s about to run out. Don’t do this over the phone; you’ll only be yelled at. Instead, say it gently with an email. Make sure your reminder emails carry a “Buy” button that helps them re-order immediately, if they so desire. Sending them a direct message via social media with a link to the product page is another quick, non-intrusive, and effective way of doing the same.

Latch Onto Upsell and Cross Sell Opportunities

Fast food chains have their upsell and cross sell techniques down to a science. When the clerk at the register asks you, “Do you want your burger with extra cheese?” or, “Shall I throw in fries with that?,” saying anything but yes seems impossible.

Train your customer care team to apply this insight into their calls too. The trick to a good phone upsell or cross sell is not coming across as robotic. Make the request in a friendly, “Oh, I’m helping you out,” kind of way. The minute customers smell a hard sell, they run for the hills. The online version of this is effective and consistent content marketing, where selling becomes as subtle as adding a “Buy” button to blog posts describing your products’ benefits.

Avoid Losses While You Grow Revenues

An infographic compiled by KISSmetrics shows that companies worldwide lose about $338 billion per year due to poor customer care. Of this, $83 billion are lost in the US alone. If bad customer care is making you lose business to the tune of thousands of dollars every year, isn’t it time you invested a little more time and resources in your customer service and helped stem the leak?

A proactive customer care team makes sure your customers’ problems are taken care of in a professional manner and potential complaints with your product are nipped in the bud. Happy customers equal fewer lost dollars—and we all know a dollar saved is a dollar earned. Channel these savings into growing your business, and voila—you have a revenue-positive customer care team!

Charge a Premium for Good Customer Care

Anyone who’s ever sold on eBay or Amazon knows how important seller ratings can be to closing a sale. As shoppers, we overwhelmingly put our faith in the wisdom of the crowd and tend to patronize sellers that are rated highly for customer service. We avoid those that might be cheaper but are rated terribly when it comes to customer care.

Use this insight to develop a world-class customer service team that commands a higher price. Let that be your differentiator from competition. Once users acknowledge the superiority of your product and services, they will be open to paying a slight premium to avail better customer service.

This is not just wishful thinking on my part. Research by Ebiquity corroborates what I just stated: 68% of US customers will gladly shell out a 14% premium to companies that offer good customer care, just to be treated well!

Customer care can be a tricky boat to keep afloat. But it’s one of those no-risk, no-reward avenues—once perfected, it offers your business the key to long-term customer satisfaction and sustainable growth.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.


12/03/2015 10:09 AM
Are You Being Manipurated by Online Reviews?
Daniel Lemin - InstagramThe Review Battlefield

The escalating culture of online reviews is a new and dangerous world that can make any business sink or swim in a hurry. Even more terrifying is the advent of reviewers-for-hire which put your online reputation at the mercy of the highest bidder. Add in the alarming statistic that ratings and reviews (up to 25% of which can be fraudulent) are trusted 80% of the time as much as recommendations from friends/family, and you have a perfectly good reason to lock yourself and your business in a bunker for all eternity.

Thankfully, Daniel Lemin is joining Social Pros this week to share his “stop, drop, and roll” method of handling online critics and to deliver a fresh, soothing perspective on how to win the review battle. Having just released a book on this very topic, he is a bonafide fount of priceless information.

In This Episode
  • How one (or even two) bad reviews won’t necessarily lead to the end of your business
  • Why adding counterpoint to complaints will help you gain new customers in the long run
  • How and why the rating and review culture impacts businesses in all industries of all sizes
  • Why a second set of eyes on review responses can mean a more positive permanent record
Quotes From This Episode

“It’s very easy to participate in rating and review platforms. You offer up your opinions and your feedback about all manner of things.” —@daniellemin

“Ultimately, from a psychological buyers’ standpoint, these ratings and reviews actually really matter.” —@daniellemin (highlight to tweet)

“If you can’t trust one of these things, can you really trust any of it? I think that’s a question we’re starting to see addressed.” —@daniellemin

“Don’t panic, because a bad review is not necessarily going to take your business down.” —@daniellemin (highlight to tweet)

“A review without a counterpoint becomes true.” —@jaybaer (highlight to tweet)

“Stop what you’re doing, drop the attitude or the ego or the emotion, and roll with the punches.” —@daniellemin

Resources The Big Two:Daniel Lemin

What’s your one tip for becoming a social pro?

The key to success in social media, according to Daniel, is to embrace intellectual curiosity and keep that “test and refine” methodology. As a social pro, you have to be a master of many things if you want to be effective, and the key to mastery is remaining curious about everything.

If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be?

Terry Gross from NPR’s “Fresh Air” is such a compelling character. She has interviewed so many people that Daniel would love to turn the tables and interview her. She’s a master of storytelling that is unique in our era, which would make for a fascinating conversation.

See you next week!


12/03/2015 08:59 AM
Want Better Leads? 7 Tips to Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment

marketing-and-sales-growth

There is often a struggle between sales teams and marketing teams to prove who is most valuable. However, when marketing and sales combine their efforts, that is when they can be the most effective and powerful.

Recent research has found that nearly 60% of the sales cycle completed before prospects even speaking to a salesperson. That means, now more than ever, marketing has become an even more integral part of the sales process.

Below are some tips to help sales and marketing teams collaborate in a meaningful way that meets both business objectives and marketing KPIs.

#1 – Communicate Well & Often

One of the biggest causes of misalignment between departments is infrequent communication. Some simple ways to begin collaborating more frequently include:

  • Meet monthly to review lead quality.
  • Encourage the sales team to share questions, feedback, requests that they receive from prospects and utilize that information for marketing intiatives.
  • Have the marketing team participate (silently) in a few sales calls. It may spark something they didn’t consider previously.

#2 – Set & Align Goals & Objectives

Teams that operate independently are far less likely to be successful. Instead work together to align business objectives with marketing goals and determine a set set of metrics and criteria that will be used for reporting.

#4 – Optimize For the Customer Sales Cycle

Digital marketing can be an incredibly useful tool in helping to move prospects through the sales cycle. Today’s buyers are savvy and spend time self-educating on the web. In order to best meet their needs, marketers need to create integrated digital strategies that account for the following phases:

  • Attract: These tactics and topics will draw the prospect in.
  • Engage: Here you will begin to build credibility and loyalty.
  • Convert: When the need is present, you will be top of mind.

While you do want to create a strategy that is well optimized for search engines, your first priority should always be to optimize for customers.

#4 – Collect, Analyze & Act on Data

The truth is, data doesn’t lie. It can be easy for sales and marketing teams alike to have a bias for a particular process, topic or initiative. If both teams are relying on the same set of data then it will remove barriers that may cause tension.

Review the data as a team and determine:

  • Did the marketing initiatives create a conversion?
  • What path are prospects taking to contact?
  • Which tactics and strategies are performing well and which ones need to be altered?

#5 – Create Mutual Accountability

Sales teams are often given sales metrics for success, as well as benchmarks that need to be achieved each month. Similarly, the marketing team should have a certain standard that is maintained and goals for growth.

When the two teams work together, both will be better informed and have an increased chance of success.

#6 – Nurture Leads

The amount of effort that goes into marketing and sales departments generating leads is no small task. However, what are you doing to nurture these leads once they’ve converted in some way (newsletter subscription, asset download, contact form, etc.)?

Always know what you hope to achieve before embarking on any digital marketing initiative. This will help all parties understand what is expected as well as the business goals that these campaigns help support.

#7 – Bring In Reinforcements

Sometimes you may not have the manpower or expertise in-house to accomplish complete sales and marketing alignment. When that happens, consider engaging a company like TopRank Marketing to help develop an integrated digital marketing strategy that aligns with business objectives and marketing KPI’s.

While this post may only scratch the surface for some, hopefully it helps you understand the necessity for alignment between sales and marketing, and how it ultimately impacts business objectives. As a sales or marketing person, what have you found to be the biggest benefit to aligning with your counterparts?

Image via Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | Want Better Leads? 7 Tips to Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Want Better Leads? 7 Tips to Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.


12/02/2015 10:16 AM
5 Steps to Finding the Best Rating-and-Review Sites for Your Business
5 Steps to Finding the Best Rating-and-Review Sites for Your Business

Image via BigStockPhoto.com

Is it just me, or can running a business make you feel a bit schizophrenic? Sometimes, your sales will surge with no explanation. Other times, it’s all quiet on the Western front.

Sales rise and fall for a number of reasons—many times for reasons outside of our control. However, ratings and reviews consistently affect your bottom line in the same way, no matter what’s happening in your market. Managing the rating-and-review sites that are driving (or not driving) sales for your business can help you get business more reliably.

Even better, there are a few tried-and-true strategies for finding and evaluating these sites. Some are more time-consuming and cheap, while others will do the work for you, but cost a little extra.

How to Find the Top Rating-and-Review Sites Step 1: Search Yourself via Incognito Mode

Begin by Googling yourself—but make sure you’re in Incognito mode (or the equivalent). Incognito mode allows you to take any of your preferences (search history, location, etc.) out of the equation and provides you a clean, objective search.

An Incognito search helps you see where you rank organically. This allows you to see how people are discovering your business. For instance, if you discover that your Yelp page ranks significantly higher than your actual website, you know where to focus your efforts.

Step 2: Set Up Google Analytics on Your Website

Many business owners today rely on Google Analytics to gain insights into their growing (or shrinking) website traffic. How to set up Google Analytics is well beyond the scope of this post, but here’s a very helpful post from Google on how to get started.

Step 3: Discover Your Sources of Traffic

Once you’ve set up Google Anaytics, let some time pass. Give yourself a week, or even a month if you can afford it. Then check the “Source/Medium” tabs to find out where your traffic is coming from.

Pay special attention to the ratings-and-reviews sites in the top 10, as well as the ones that aren’t. Are any of them ranked higher than your website, your Facebook page, or your Twitter page? If so, you can’t afford to neglect them.

Step 4: Ask Your Customers Where They Found You

Be direct. Ask your customers how they made the buyer’s journey from discovery to the sale.

There are several ways that you can do this, but the best way is to conduct a brief online survey that enters them into a drawing for a prize. It doesn’t matter what the prize is—just having one will sweeten your response rate.

Step 5: Change Up Your Game

Once you have all this information at your fingertips, it’s time to synthesize a new strategy. Compare what you thought your top sources of traffic were to what they actually are. Look for consistencies and inconsistencies in your performance.

If you’re not getting any visitors from a certain channel (like TripAdvisor), perhaps it’s time to start managing reviews better. And if you find you’re getting a lot of traffic via Yelp, make sure that keeps happening. Don’t forget to respond to customer concerns and compliments, too. Are any high-profile reviewers complaining?

You know your business better than anyone, so keep an eye out for potential threats and opportunities across all review channels.

A Few More Tips

These five steps only scratch the surface of what you could be doing to manage your reputation on rating-and-review sites, but they’re a great start. Here are a few more things to keep in mind:

Commit to Doing This Every Day

Don’t slack. You can’t afford to. A bad online reputation is no reputation at all. (highlight to tweet)

Google My Business

Formally known as Google+ for businesses, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. While not nearly as well-known as Yelp, Google My Business is guaranteed to pop up when someone is searching Google for your business. Pay special attention to this channel.

Applications Can Help Automate the Process

If you have too many reviews and not enough time, there’s an app for that. The popular ones are ReviewTrackers, Reputation Ranger, and Yext.

Turn these steps into a consistent practice, and you’ll be armed for success with online ratings and reviews.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.


12/02/2015 08:29 AM
How to Find the Courage to Tell Your Story With Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams - Instagram

Marketing From London to Arizona

Bryan Adams is a UK native who runs branches of his digital agency, Ph. Creative, in both London and Liverpool.

Over his twelve years as an author and digital marketer, Bryan has found that many of his European clients are focused on the tactics of digital marketing instead of the basic building blocks of story.

What does this lead to? Although many brands feature brilliant, innovative identities and stories, all too often they are afraid to take the risk to share them. (highlight to tweet)

In this first ever Business of Story simulcast podcast, Bryan and Park introduce new tools and resources to build your storytelling bravery.

 In This Episode
  • What “designed serendipity” is and how it can help your business
  • Defining your audience through personas
  • Using brand values and business objectives to delineate your story
  • Empathy mapping to connect with your audience
  • Giving yourself the permission to try storytelling
Quotes From This Episode

“Story is almost grassroots; it’s the essence of marketing, and I think it’s being overlooked—certainly on this side of the pond, which is why we are starting to focus on it.” —@Bryan_phc

“Those who tell and live the best stories will, I think, rule the world.” —@ParkHowell (highlight to tweet)

“It’s so frustrating for a team when you come up with a great authentic story and the client isn’t brave enough to put it out there or dilutes it until it loses it’s magic. It’s painful.” —@Bryan_phc

“Take the time to intimately understand and care about your audience. Really go through the idea of empathy mapping and connecting: understand how they think, how they feel, how you can make your brand experience easy, and how you can make it memorable. You’ve got the foundation to move forward and start to craft a story that actually resonates and means something.” —@Bryan_phc

“You have to put the audience, your customer, at the center of the story and in doing that, you have to understand the story that they are living (or at least the story they are telling themselves about your brand).” —@ParkHowell

Resources

12/02/2015 06:31 AM
A Visual Guide to Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing

In 2016 a there will be a significant push towards influencer marketing from all areas of digital marketing from content marketers to public relations to SEOs.

Companies considering the role of influencers in their marketing efforts will come at it from as many different perspectives as there are benefits. Luckily, there are a growing number of useful resources on the topic, including this blog.

But there’s more to the topic than what we’ve covered here, so I’ve curated a collection of influencer marketing infographics that present a mix of statistics, best practices, research and models for planning, implementing and measuring the performance of influencer marketing. Take a look, click, download and enjoy!

Traackr Infographic
Traackr: The Many Faces of Influence also Content and Influence Framework.

the shelf infographic
the shelf: 40 Tips from PR Pros on Influencer Marketing also Influencer Marketing is the New King of Content

Webfluential Infographic
Webfluent: The Results of Analyzing Over 100 Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Onalytica Infographic
Onalytica: Influencer Marketing Survey

Unfunnel Infographic
unfunnel: The Marketing Influencer Lifecycle

Augure infographic
Augure: The Influencers Marketing Guide

Once you check out this collection of influencer marketing insight, you should be much better prepared to tackle the big questions about influencer marketing. Whether you’re simply trying to define what influencer marketing is, relevant to your marketing mix, to determining how to take your existing influencer relationships to the next level, there’s plenty of infotaining advice in these infographics.

Join Me for an Influencer Marketing Blab
If you would like to participate in a live Q and A with me and two other marketers involved in the influencer marketing game (Neal Shaffer and Doug Kessler), be sure to check out the Brandwatch Influencer Marketing Blab today at 11am CT.

Top image: Shutterstock

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | A Visual Guide to Influencer Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post A Visual Guide to Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.


12/01/2015 03:32 PM
5 Sly Ways to Get More Clicks
5 Sly Ways to Get More Clicks

Image via BigStockPhoto.com

Clicks! They aren’t the ultimate goal of most marketers (because actions are way more important than eyeballs) but it’s certainly better to have clicks your website, blog, or other digital property than to not have clicks.

Clicks are like seeds. Not that useful by themselves, but critical if you’re going to grow something. (highlight to tweet. It’s fun!)

Of course, you could create better content and/or create more content in your quest for more clicks. We talk about that all the time on this blog. But here are five other, sly ways to get more clicks that perhaps you haven’t tried yet.

1. Sigstr

mockup-email-homeThink about how many people are in your organization, and how many emails they send every day. Not think about how perfunctory their email signatures are. Each of those is an opportunity for timely, consistent calls-to-action that generate clicks.

Sigstr (a sponsor of our awesome Business of Story podcast) provides an inexpensive, elegant solution to automatically implement branded email signatures across your entire team. Sigstr includes full tracking and the ability to change signatures on the fly. We’re rolling it out here at Convince & Convert too.

For more on the email signature way to get clicks, download the free ebook “3 Creative Ways to Unlock the Power of Email Signatures.”

2. Get Site Control

You may be looking at this one right now. It’s at the top of almost every page on Convince & Convert. It’s the little “window shade” that pulls down, promoting our latest Webinar, ebook, or other project. You can also configure it to be a full pop-up or slide-out, if you prefer.

Get Site Control works on all sites (not just WordPress) and you can customize the pull-down to include surveys/polls, email signups, even social sharing tools. Great, detailed stats are included, and it’s easy to run A/B tests.

3. Contextly

Another one of our favorites at Convince & Convert, this killer app powers our “you might also be interested in” feature that you’ll find at the bottom of this blog post.

Super easy to use, the power version of Contextly is just $99/month and gives you a ton of control in how you acquire more clicks. Pick the color, font, size, and arrangement of your related items, and you receive detailed daily stats reports.

Built-in A/B testing is a big plus, as is the ability to create custom calls-to-action and “force” them to appear on all posts. (The Manipurated one below.) And, as you type posts (like the one I’m writing right now) Contextly will read the content and recommend the most logical related posts to include below—you can override whenever needed.

4. YouTube Video Cards

This is a must-do if you have a video content program. Video cards replaced annotations earlier this year, and Christian Karasiewicz gave me the idea to include them in this list of sly ways to get more clicks.

He even created the definitive blog post on how to create, use, and measure Youtube video cards (which are free, by the way). Grab that post right here.

5. Facebook Call-to-Action Buttons
Our Facebook CTA button goes to our email signup

Our Facebook CTA button goes to our email signup

On every Facebook page you manage, you can select a distinct call-to-action that is prominently featured in the corner of your cover image.

While post of your interactions on Facebook will occur within News Feed/Timeline, for people who do visit your Facebook page (typically these are new fans) giving them this easy opportunity to visit your site, sign up for your email, etc. is a great (and free) way to get more clicks.

Hat tip to Christian Karasiewicz for this one too. Take a look at his very good blog at http://www.christiankonline.com

Dollar Shave Club reports a 2.5X increase in sign-ups after implementing the call-to-action button. Here’s a case study on that, as well as the official Facebook how-to.

Note that you can also use CTA buttons in Facebook ads built in power editor. A great post on testing various buttons here, by Digital Marketer.

So that’s my five sly ways to get more clicks. I know I missed a TON of them. What ideas do you have? Leave them in the comments below, and if we get a decent batch I’ll write a follow-up post with corresponding credit/links, etc.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.


12/01/2015 08:18 AM
How to Diversify Your Content Strategy for Maximum Success
Joe Chernov - Instagram Finding Balance in Every Strategy

Joe Chernov comes to the Content Pros Podcast this week from InsightSquared, a sales performance analytics software product. In other words, it’s business intelligence for the rest of us.

Prior to working at InsightSquared, Joe served as VP of Marketing at several successful businesses, including Hubspot, Eloqua, and Kinvey.

Joe brings a wealth of knowledge and experience surrounding the importance of balance in a company’s content strategy—a balance between not only quantity and quality, but also between ABM (account-based marketing) and inbound marketing. He stresses that despite marketers’ tendencies to work in extremes, finding balance in content strategy is the key to achieving innovation and success.

No matter how uncomfortable it may seem, operating in the gray area that this new balance creates is necessary, says Joe. Additionally, by supporting a horizontal marketing strategy over a vertical one, Joe redefines the elements that measure content success to provide new insight and relevance.

In This Episode
  • How to flip content marketing from vertical function to horizontal function
  • How to provide quality content for all stages of the funnel and convince your superiors to support it
  • Working with sales reps for better use of enablement content
  • Finding balance between pure ABM and pure inbound marketing for mid-sized companies
  • Finding balance between quantity and quality in content marketing
  • Redefining content success with the rise of the ABM model
Quotes From This Episode

“There’s a lot of religion around this topic and, to some degree, I think it’s a false choice. You need enough content of a certain quality to drive the business. There reaches a point of diminishing returns on the quality side, and I imagine there reaches a point of no return on the quantity side.” —@jchernov

“Marketers tend to like to go all-in on something, right? We tend to be binary. You’re a content marketer or a demand gen marketer. We tend to define ourselves fairly narrowly and be more comfortable in extremes. But I do think that for the vast majority of companies, they’re going to have to find a setting along that spectrum between pure inbound and pure ABM that they’re comfortable with and live with that. It’s going to be uncomfortable, but for most companies it’s the only answer.” —@jchernov

“In the past, my definition of quality was a little different. It had to do with how beautiful it was, how unique it was, how fresh it was. Now quality to me is the uniqueness of the data contained in the content.” —@jchernov

“If you take good at-bats, the stats are going to follow. But if you chase the stats, you’re going to start to screw up your swing; you’re going to start to screw up your approach at the plate. And I really think there’s a parallel in the business world to taking quality at-bats and then just trusting that the results will follow.” —@jchernov

Resources What did you want to be when you grew up?

For young Joe Chernov, it was less “what” than “who” he wanted to be:

“I wanted to be Steven Tyler from Aerosmith. I would purse my lips to try to look as much like Steven Tyler as I could. I wanted to be that guy.”

And though that dream has perhaps passed for Joe, there may be hope for the next generation of Chernovs. “I have two kids and one of them is six and he spent the last year in drum lessons. While I can’t get him to play the Aerosmith songs, he is playing AC/DC songs. So I get the biggest kick out of it; seeing my childhood rock star dreams, the seeds being planted at this young age. He told me the other day, ‘I used to want to be a paleontologist, but now I just want to be a rock star.’ So it was about the best thing I’ve ever heard.”


12/01/2015 08:04 AM
Content Marketing Tactics: Webinar Pros, Cons, Examples & Best Practices

Webinar-Content-Marketing-Tactic

Quality, useful, and engaging content is the foundation of a marketing strategy. However, content is much more than just words on a page.

Humans are visual learners by nature—and we crave visual, interactive content in reality and online. As a result, in today’s digital world, marketers are using webinars to connect and engage with their target audiences. Additionally, webinars create a great opportunity for co-creation and collaboration as well as content repurposing. 

In fact, 66 percent of B2B marketers said webinars are one of the most effective content marketing strategies around, according to as recent report from Content Marketing Institute. In addition, 51 percent of marketers said visual content will be a top priority for their campaigns in 2016.

Definition: Webinars

A webinar is a live meeting, presentation, discussion, educational session, or demonstration that takes place online. As a content marketing technique, webinars use various forms of content such as blogs, audio interviews, and video to promote and execute the event. In addition, the webinar as a whole can be saved and archived for future viewing.

Webinars aim to provide helpful, interesting, or compelling content and instruction, and ultimately encourage participants to take action (e.g. buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, become a member, etc.) on what they learned. They can also be great ways to build recognition as a thought leader, which some consider to be the ultimate content marketing tactic.

Webinars are often confused with virtual conferences—and while they’re both online meeting events—virtual conferences are far more elaborate affairs that attempt to mimic a real-world event online. Webinars generally focus on just one topic and are much shorter (generally running an hour to two hours) than virtual events.

Pros

Webinars are convenient, cost-effective, and allow businesses to market their content in real-time to a wide audience. Here are some more benefits as a content marketing tactic:

  • Businesses find they’re able to attract customers earlier in the buying cycle, as well as target various stages throughout the buying cycle.
  • Excitement is created for a topic, especially when a well-known expert delivers the presentation.
  • There are a variety of content repurposing options such as live blogging the event or using participant questions to create new blog posts.
  • Since webinars require registration, they can serve as an excellent lead generation tool where content can be provided as the lead is nurtured afterwards.
  • Webinars can be archived to the web and will attract views indefinitely.

Cons

While webinars can be a powerful content marketing tool, the may not be practical for every brand. Disadvantages of webinars include:

  • Unique skills and technology such as a registration platform that ties into your CRM or a presentation hosting platform are needed to produce an event.
  • Archived webinars can become outdated, and need to be monitored and removed when appropriate.
  • Like all online events, the general low cost of entry makes it easier for people to skip the event or bow out early.

What Industry Experts Say About Webinars

Signing up for a webinar is much like scheduling an appointment. Your audience can make room for the webinar in their schedule ahead of time, making it much more likely for them to give undivided attention and participate. A live webinar creates more of a one-to-one engagement than many other types of content and encourages participants to ask questions and interact on the spot.
Ashley Zeckman, Director of Digital Marketing, TopRank Marketing

“With over 60% of marketers using webinars as part of their content marketing programs and 76% of the 17 largest SaaS companies in the world using marketing automation, it’s clear that these tools are becoming increasingly essential to today’s marketers.”
American Marketing Association (Source: ama.org)

“They are the next best thing to being face to face, in-person with your target market. If you want to leverage yourself and scale your business, webinars are key. By being the person at the helm you set yourself as an expert, it’s your virtual stage.”
Nick Unsworth, Facebook marketing expert. (Source: The Huffington Post)

How Brands Use Webinars for Content Marketing

McKesson (client)

Revered as a leading healthcare technology company, McKesson provides a series of educational webinars for many of their different business units. For the Medical-Surgical division, users can register for upcoming webinars or access their library of previously aired webinars on a whole host of topics that cover everything from reimbursement to preventing infection in patients.

McKesson Webinar

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

ASDC is a global network of educators and advocates that develops programs and services to help educators continually improve how they support their students. Through webinars, the organization offers numerous professional development opportunities to support their mission, while also encouraging new membership and more participation from current members.

ASCD Webinar

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Yes. Even the IRS offers webinars for individuals, businesses, and tax professionals.

IRS Webinar

Webinar Best Practices

  • Choose a topic and headline that is searchable. SEO best practices should always be part of your content marketing efforts, and you want to entice your target audience.
  • Create a list of content marketing tactics you’ll be using. Your list should include tactics such as emails, social messaging, blogs, video, and press releases to promote the event, run the event, and repurpose content after the event.
  • Get organized. Create an agenda, make sure all your visuals are ready to go, confirm your platform is working, and communicate regularly with any speakers you’ve lined up.
  • Practice makes perfect. Schedule a dry run with any presenters or if you’re doing the talking, set aside some time to go through your full presentation.
  • Promote, Promote Promote. Promotion is important to any event you put on, but digital events don’t require the commitment of real-world events. Use that list of tactics you’ve created to get the word out and keep your event top of mind.

Webinar Software and Resources

There are a number of different webinar software companies to choose from. Some of the most popular options include:

  • AnyMeeting
  • CiscoWebEx
  • GoToWebinar
  • Skype
  • Adobe Connect
  • ClickWebinar
  • MegaMeeting

People are visual by nature. So, it’s no wonder that interactive, visual content like webinars is a powerful tool for brands. If you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty with some of the technical demands, consider weaving webinars into your content marketing strategy. The demand for visual content is only getting stronger, so brands need to consider other content marketing solutions to stay competitive and achieve their goals.

How have you used webinars as part of your content marketing strategy? What are your best practices for pulling off a successful webinar? Share in the comments section below.

If you liked this post, check out our content marketing tactics index page with links to more than 25 helpful posts just like this one.

Header image via Shutterstock

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11/30/2015 08:43 PM
This Holiday Season Brings Surprising Deals and a “December to Remember”
This Week in Realtime Media Business: Lexus & Barneys Team Up for ‘December To Remember’

The iconic red ribbons are riding back into holiday advertising, as Lexus launches another December to Remember. Like years prior, the luxury vehicle manufacturer is telling the story of gifting Lexus cars holiday as presents to your loved ones. This year, a new partnership with Barneys New York is bringing even more attention to both brands.

By incorporating Lexus vehicles into holiday displays, Barneys is dressing up their windows for the season along with associated retail product offerings, in-store promotions and a chance to win a $10,000 Barneys shopping spree.

Looking closer at December to Remember headlines, it is interesting to note that “racetrack” is at the center of the conversation:

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.22.39 AM

The racetrack theme found in Barneys windows incorporates three penguins surfing on various models of Lexus vehicles while racing around a track commissioned and created by famed slot car track designer Gary Gerding:

Aside from the spectacular construction (as seen above), this demonstrates that people are not talking about deals or savings, but rather a window display.

With thousands of people potentially neglecting Black Friday this year, could this be a reflection of a growing disinterest in holiday shopping, or is this genius in marketing? Only time will tell…

Entertainment: Adele’s ’25’ Sets Records Sans Streaming

It may only be Monday, but two HUGE records have already been broken this past week. Along with the Golden State Warriors making history with their 16-0 start, Adele’s 25 broke the single-week U.S. album sales record, previously held by *NSYNC.

As soon as news broke of Adele’s record-setting album, mentions around the artist spiked…
Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.54.43 AM

…totaling over 45,000 since last Monday (numbers calculated as of last Wednesday):
Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.58.50 AM

The most popular tweets around Adele show that 25 is the best-selling album of the year, in less than one week after being released:
Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 10.50.09 AM

Despite Adele not streaming the album through services like Apple Music and Spotify, fans still purchased her work. And from a business perspective, it appears to be a brilliant move to limit the album’s avenues of availability, as she achieved Double Platinum status… from fans buying the album, not streaming.

Tech: Celebrate ‘Thanksgetting’ with Verizon

Verizon customers, rejoice! As a special Thanksgiving treat, the telecoms provider is offering 2 GB of data free of charge, along with other goodies.

Coined “Thanksgetting,” the holiday promotion is taking off on social media. #Thanksgetting is not only at the center of Verizon’s Hashtag Cloud…

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 12.21.23 PM
…but has generated over 4,500 mentions since November 21:
Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 12.21.44 PM
It should be noted, not all of these mentions are positive. Among the tweets discussing the promotion, people are upset the promotion is discounting the “giving” aspect of Thanksgiving:
Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 12.50.40 PM
Although Verizon certainly has people using #Thanksgetting on Twitter, it is probably not in the way they entirely intended the hashtag to be used. With the majority of those tweeting #Thanksgetting in a negative light, the wireless provider might have to reconsider what they promote during future holiday seasons.

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