Friday, 30 June 2017

How to Use Micro-Influencers For Your Small Business

influencer small business

You probably know that word-of-mouth is the most valuable form of marketing out there. With 92% of consumers trusting referrals from people they know, one way to generate word-of-mouth is by transforming your loyal customers into brand advocates. But this is not the only way! Companies have been turning to influencers for help. Simply stated, social media influencers carry influence over others that they wield through social media. Consumers trust their favorite influencers in the same way as they trust friends and family. In fact, according to Twitter research, 49% of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers.

How to incorporate influencer marketing as a small business?

You don’t need a Kim Kardashian to promote your app (but if you know her, it can’t hurt to ask!). A newer concept known as micro-influencer marketing recently joined the scene. It’s the same concept as influencer marketing, but on a smaller scale: you partner with influencers with smaller followings to promote your local business with authentic posts of sponsored ads. According to Hubspot: “They’re individuals who work or specialize in a particular vertical and frequently share social media content about their interests.”

You might think it’s counterintuitive to use micro-influencers, as their following might be smaller than yours. However, there are severals reasons to believe micro-influencers can get better results for your local business.

First, micro-influencers have better engagement rates. In fact, Markerly’s Instagram research found that as an influencer’s numbers of followers increases, their number of likes and comments decreases. As a result, they recommend brands pursue micro-influencers with Instagram followings in the 1,000-10,000 range. Companies will achieve higher engagement rates by following this strategy.

influencer marketing


Not only will micro-influencers have higher engagement, they will also have a highly targeted audience. Here’s an example: if a brand like Barkbox partners with Kylie Jenner (who has several dogs), they will reach a very large audience on Instagram. However, many of her followers might not be interested in dog products. Barkbox instead partners with Instagram dog influencers. These accounts, while popular, come nowhere near the following of a celebrity like Kylie Jenner, but the followers are definitely all dog lovers. So the promotion has a much higher chance of leading to conversions, i.e. people buying Barkbox products after seeing the sponsored content. In this case, a micro-influencer allows the brand to connect with the right audience.

barkbox influencers

Which micro-influencers should you go after?

You will have to spend some time conducting research into influencers that align with your brand’s identity and narrative. Would this person use your product or service in their daily life? Do they embody your brand’s story? You want customers to understand and appeal to your brand through the chosen influencer. It’s not all about the number of followers and likes. The better the fit, the more effective the influencer marketing campaign.

This might seem obvious, but make sure you are looking on the platforms that your target audience is already using. If your target audience is on Instagram, then an Instagram influencer could be the way to go. However, be wary of sponsoring content on channels that you are not highly involved in. If your company doesn’t have a presence on Instagram, this might create a disconnect with your target audience.

Find micro-influencers among your fans. It will be a lot easier to convince people who are already a fan of your company to work with you. For example:

  • If you own a gym, look for the people who are always working out there. Find that gym fanatic who has an engaged audience. Approach this person for a partnership deal. Maybe you can offer this person free gym membership for 6 months in return for a couple posts on Instagram tagging your business location.

  • If you are in the restaurant industry, find local food bloggers in your area. Invite them to dine at your restaurant for free in return for a blog post about your establishment.

If you are not sure how to find the right influencers, or you don’t have time to do this manually, these third-party tools can automate the process:

  • BuzzSumo is a tool that allows you to search for influencers using specific keywords. In the search results, you can see the relevant statistics of each influencer. They also let you filter the results based on different categories; for micro-influencers you would select “Regular People.”

  • Klear is, similarly, an influencer search engine backed with years of historical data. You can find Instagram influencers, Twitter influencers, Youtube influencers and influential bloggers. Start your search by choosing a target audience based on the social network, the category and the location.

How do you reach out to these micro-influencers?

Make a list of potential influencers, taking into account that not everyone will say yes to your request. Approach these influencers over email or on the platform they use to reach their followers. Make sure to personalise the message to the influencer, instead of copy-pasting the same message over and over (e.g. reference their content, or a common interest). Get the conversation started by introducing yourself and your company, and describe the mutual value the partnership would provide. This mutual value can come in various forms. Partnering with micro-influencers is a lot more affordable than going after celebrities. However, you shouldn’t expect that just because they have a small following they will partner with you for free. Managing a blog or curating an Instagram account is hard work. Acknowledge this hard work by offering your product or service for free or offering a one-time payment in return for their sponsored content.

Make sure to include the most important elements of the partnership in your first message. This will make it easy for influencers to decide whether or not they want to collaborate, without wasting anyone’s time.

Working with influencers can be a great way to reach potential customers and breath new life into your small business marketing strategy. For more inspiration, just scroll through your Instagram feed and see how other brands are partnering with influencers to grow their business. On a side note, Instagram just released a new feature allowing influencers to formally disclose their paid partnership (instead of using #ad or #sponsored). This feature will allow you, the partnering company, to directly access the sponsored post’s analytics like reach and engagement metrics. In other words, social media networks are underlining the growth and value of influencers. Time to find your new brand ambassadors!

Source: B2C

WordPress vs Wix? Which Is Best For Your Website.

EVERY DAY, yes every day while I’m networking online I see a question similar to this…

Why WordPress over Wix? I am a beginner blogger and find WIX easier to use than WordPress (I did fool around with WordPress at first). However, as a beginner I’m not opposed to switching over to WordPress if its as inexpensive and easy to use. So what makes it better?

I see some variation of this question asked a lot in the different blogging Facebook Groups and thought it a good time to address it here.

Topics of Discussion

  • Why Choosing WordPress or WIX Matters

  • You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

  • What Should You Consider When Deciding Which Website Platform Will Work for You?

  • The Web Site Platforms & Which Will Work for You

  • New To WordPress? Not Sure Where to Start?

  • Why does my website platform matter then?

Why Choosing WordPress or WIX Matters

The simple answer is, if you want to create a lifestyle business that supports your choice on how you want to live then you need a platform that’s going to support that dream. I’ll touch on the different platforms a bit later in this article.

Your choice of platform, whether it be WordPress, WIX or even Squarespace, or Weebly, choosing the right one from the beginning will make things easier. Depending on your choice you will most likely see you making a change to a platform that has the flexibility you need to do what you want with your business.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Here’s the thing, there are a few platforms out there with very generous marketing budgets and will plaster themselves all over the place once you start to show interest in starting your own blog.

It’s most likely that they spend more on their marketing budget versus creating a platform that will help you create a sustainable and profitable business. It’s important to do your research and make a decision based on your instinct + the advice of others who have been there.

What Should You Consider When Deciding Which Website Platform Will Work for You?

It’s important to consider your long terms goals at this point. The maybes, and the “wow that would be awesome if that would happen” kind of thoughts. So think about these few questions to see which makes the most sense to you.

  • Do you want to make money with your blog? Whether it’s you offering services or collecting affiliate revenue. It doesn’t matter, do you want to make money?

  • Are you unsure what you want to do right now, but down the road you think you might like to offer an ebook or even an ecourse or a training program?

  • Are you concerned that the learning curve for some technology might be too much, and you hope you can find something simple easy to use

  • Are funds tight to get started so you hope you can start with something free?

Keep note of your answers because the next section covers the different platforms available. Your answers will help you decide which platform will work for you. At the end of the summary, I’ll share with you my experience and why I think my chosen platform is really your only choice.

The Website Platforms & Which Will Work for You

While this article is about WordPress vs Wix, there are other platforms out there that should be covered, so I’m covering Wix, Weebly, Squarepace and WordPress. Four of the more popular platforms for go getting bloggers.

wix logo for why your platform matters post


I decided to start with Wix as it is the one platform that is asked about the most.

Wix is simple to use that is a big positive for anyone wanting to launch a web site. For me, that’s where the love affair ends with this platform.

Heavily marketed, just watch a few Youtube videos after you’ve searched for “how to start a blog” and you’ll know what I mean, they do make the idea of creating your own website a simple process.

While Wix does have some features that make is easy to get started, I have heard from so many folks that as soon as they want to do something “out of the box” they’re hit with another fee and those fees can add up quickly.

To have your own domain connected with cost you about $4/mth US & that still requires you to display their ads! Upgrade to the next level, $9/mth is required to remove their adds. Want to sell your own ebook, that will cost you $16/mth

Let’s put that into perspective, to have your own domain with Wix it will cost you $36/year, where purchasing your own domain runs around $10 to $15 depending on where you purchase the domain.

Wix, in my opinion, doesn’t give you the flexibility that will find with other services and for their monthly prices, you can easily find other more flexible options.

There’s a lot of other reasons I wouldn’t choose Wix, like it’s tough to rank using SEO, page load issues which slows down your site, and you’re on their platform so you don’t have complete control over your content.

Who could benefit from Wix?

Maybe a brick & mortar business that only wants to have a single brochure type website. Not recommended for a blogger wanting to create a lifestyle business.

Squarespace - an alternative to WordPress


I don’t mind Squarespace and if you’re focused more on offering services and selling some products or programs Squarespace could easily work for you.

It has an easy to use interface with some very nicely designed templates.

Squarespace is pricey though and does have limits to how many pages you can have. Need more you’ll need to upgrade. If you’re thinking that offering a membership program or even courses you’ll want to look elsewhere or you’ll need to use a third party service to make that happen.

My opinion, if you want to keep your options open and have choices down the road then Squarespace may not be your best choice.

Who Could Benefit From Using Squarespace

If you’re a coach or other service professional, Squarespace may work for you as long as you stick with a simple business model or you’re okay with using third-party services to make things happen.

Weebly - Website Builder I Dont Recommend


When you take a look at Weebly it has a lot going for it. It offers a way to create your website, build an ecommerce platform and the service also includes some marketing features.

You can get started with a free website, but you’ll be stuck with in your domain name, but that’s pretty much same for all of the free versions. It will cost you at least $120/year to be able to use your own domain & remove the Weebly adds.

Weebly does offer some membership features which is nice for someone thinking of adding a membership to their website. The negative though is it will cost you at least $168/year.

Weebly also offers a pretty good collection of integrations so you can add more functionality to your website, you’re still limited to what they choose to integrate with. Out of the platforms mentioned so far, Weebly has a lot to offer someone, but in terms of flexiblity, ease of improving your SEO and functionality for a blogger I don’t think it’s an option.

Who Could Benefit From Using Weebly

Someone testing out a new product or service and wants to follow the minimal viable product model. Also, someone that offers services, or any kind of physical product could probably use Weebly with some success.

WordPress - The Self Hosted Version of WordPress is What I Recommend


The balance of this article has been leading up to my opinion on WordPress, but before I share too much of that, I want to make sure that you’re aware of I’m talking about the self-hosted version of WordPress

It’s time to go back to your answers to the questions I asked earlier, do you want to make money with your blog? Do you want to make affiliate revenue? If you answered yes, then I could end this article here and wrap this up.

If you want to monetize your website then you’ll want to use the self-hosted version of WordPress.

Not only is WordPress on very friendly terms with Google, no matter what you dream up you’d like to do with your website you can accomplish it with WordPress.

New To WordPress? Not Sure Where to Start?

What makes WordPress so powerful?

WordPress is created by the team at Automattic, who share the code to make this platform freely. Meaning the WordPress platform is free to use , it also means that other programmers, designers and plugin creators have access to the WordPress API so they can create any kind of functionality that will work with WordPress.

Take a moment with that, even if you don’t know what an API is, the ability to be able to integrate anything WordPress makes this super powerful.

Yes, this is all great, but what if I don’t have any money to pay for all this amazing stuff?

Here’s the beauty of WordPress, you can get started for a very low cost of entry. Meaning that you can have your website launched and online for less than $60/year. This includes your web hosting & the purchasing of your domain. Could you spend more money, yes, of course, you could. But you don’t have too.

But WordPress is difficult to learn!

I won’t say that WordPress is easy, because for many it has a HUGE learning curve and you may get frustrated when you’re first starting to use WordPress, but I know from experience the more you use WordPress the more it will become your friend.

Why don’t I just go with Wix, Squarespace or Weebly for now and I’ll move to WordPress when I can hire someone to do all of it for me?

Yes, you could do this but I believe that you need to understand the platform you are using so you can make smart strategic decisions about your website & blog.

You likely know that knowing a bit about your car and how it works makes those trips to the mechanic a bit easier since you know a bit of what they are talking about.

When you’re starting out, you have more time than you do money so in the early stages of your blog you’re willing to invest your time more so that your money. When you’re just starting out is the time to get past that learning curve of WordPress and learn it now.

You can find lots of helpful articles on this site, my get started section is a great place to begin and there’s many, many resources online to help too. Youtube can become a very comfy place to hang out, too.

I also recommend WP101, to give you the basics of WordPress and give you a head-start on how to use the technical parts of the site.

Yes, I teach WordPress, but my focus is helping you get the best of the platform quickly and recommending a service like WP101 that offers video training about WordPress makes sense. They have the most current video training and you get lifetime access to their videos.

Why does my website platform matter then?

Choosing the right platform for your business or blog is one of the most critical things you can do when you are getting started. Keep your long term vision in mind when choosing your platform.

All platforms have limitations, but each offer something different for the new website owner.

Deciding which one is right for you is a big decision.

My recommendation is, if you’re unclear how you feel your business will evolve then choose WordPress, yes it has a learning curve, but it also offers the most flexibility, adaptability and it’s the most scalable of any website platform.

Source: B2C

Tired of Sponsoring Trade Shows? Become A Speaker Instead.

Picture this: You’re trapped in a large, stuffy convention center, aimlessly strolling up and down rows and rows of vendors’ booths. Suddenly, you’re bombarded by exhibitors chatting you up, while sneakily attempting to shove business cards, pamphlets and maybe some free swag (T-shirts seem to be the standard) into your hands.

The question I ask you is: How much do you actually remember about the companies that shook your hand or greeted you (albeit a bit too enthusiastically)?

Most of the time, probably not much.

Don’t get me wrong. Trade shows can be a great outlet to generate some buzz about your business, especially if you have the capital to invest in a killer booth setup and plan a few really cool giveaways. But for some of those smaller companies out there with even smaller budgets, there simply isn’t enough money to create a big splash amid all the noise on the trade show floor.

So, what can you do to get noticed at the next big industry show?

Think bigger than a booth and aim for a speaking session on the main stage. Below are three reasons why you should consider speaking at a trade show.

  1. Let the whole world know you’re at the event.
    Well, not really the whole world, but you know what I mean. At trade shows, it’s hard to stick out and make it known to all the attendees that you are exhibiting. Because the floor is chock full of booths that all start to look alike after a while, you need something that will give you that extra edge, and a speaking session can do just that. There aren’t nearly as many presenters as there are exhibitors at trade shows, so if you’re able to score a speaking session, you’ve already got a leg up on the competition. Not only will you be listed in the event’s agenda, but there’s a good chance you’ll get some promo from the conference itself. After all, organizers want the sessions to be jam-packed, too.

  1. Sell your company, without selling your product.
    No one hates bad advertising more than me – especially those “selfless” promotions that tell you how great product X is and why product Y sucks. While speaking sessions are typically vendor neutral, they present organizations with an amazing opportunity to showcase their smarts. When someone truly believes what you’re saying, you’re one step closer to gaining their trust – and their sale.

  1. Save (some) money.
    Sponsoring or exhibiting at trade shows can be expensive (think anywhere upward of $50,000 for the booth alone). Most of the time, securing a speaking session at a top industry conference is free. All it costs is the time you spend putting together a stellar call for speakers abstract and the slides and narrative for your talk. Be thorough in your research, though, and make sure you read the fine print – there are some conferences out there that do require some sort of sponsorship.

Want to know how you can generate some awesome media attention at your next big conference? Download our trade show PR checklist.

Source: B2C

A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media Paid Advertising: Part 1

Why is Paid Advertising on Social Media Necessary?

If you’re a business owner or in the field of marketing or advertising, and you’re new to the world of social media paid advertising, this article is for you.

With more than 2 billion users across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, social media has seen an unprecedented explosion in growth the past decade. Creating content that stands out from the clutter and capturing enough attention and interest to be shared by multiple people is the hardest challenge for any social media marketer.

Social media has almost infinite potential for reaching specific, targeted audiences. At this point, many marketers have already conceded to the fact that “boosting” a post or investing in paid ads is really the only way to get people to see your content outside of a handful of dedicated followers to your profile.

Don’t Let Ads Stress You Out

Considering all the options available for different ad types on different platforms, and the various targeting measures that can be employed to reach certain audiences, some brands can feel understandably overwhelmed. Not knowing where to begin or what elements are needed to successfully launch a paid ad on social media is one of the primary reasons I decided to write this blog.

It’s easy to feel intimidated by the process of creating a paid ad on social media. For most marketers out there, you’re playing with other people’s money, which can add a layer of stress to the ad creation process. Knowing what components you’ll need beforehand and what kind of research you can do to prepare will work wonders for your confidence, not to mention help you achieve the results you’re hoping to get out of your campaign. In part 1 of this series on paid advertising, I will discuss the different objectives and targeting criteria you can utilize for your ad.

What You’ll Need to Create an Ad

First off, it’s important to note that the Ads Manager platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, are fundamentally the same. All ad creation platforms will first ask you to select an objective for the campaign, then ask you to input the audience targeting criteria, followed by information regarding ad placement, schedule, and budget, and finally, end with the ad creative (copy and image).

Different Ad Objectives

What sorts of objectives can you achieve with paid advertising?

  • Brand Awareness: Cast a wide net and get the word out about your brand or product with ads that are optimized for reach and impressions

  • Website Traffic: refer social media users to your website

  • Lead Generation: Capture emails and other useful contact information that can be useful for remarketing purposes later

  • App installations: Drive traffic to either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to encourage downloads of your app

  • Conversions: Sell a product either directly in social media, or by referring them to a checkout page

Selecting Your Target Audience

Once you’ve decided what objective you’re looking to achieve, the next and arguably most important step is selecting targeting criteria. The performance of your ad hinges on many factors, but aside from having stellar visuals and a catchy tagline, you’ll need to ensure your ad is reaching the people who would be most interested in interacting with it. The best way to approach this is to develop what’s known as an Audience Persona, which contains the following elements:

  • Location(s): Where in the world do your customers live?

  • Age range: How old are your customers?

  • Gender: Male, female, or both.

  • Marital status and family characteristics: Are your customers typically married? Have children?

  • Income: How much money does your customer make in a year? How much disposable income do you believe your customers possess?

  • Education: What level of education does your average customer possess?

  • Interests & hobbies: What sorts of things do your customers do for fun or to simply pass the time?

Isolating and targeting a specific audience helps to improve what Facebook calls the “Relevance Score” of your ad. Relevance is a measure of how appropriate the message is to the target audience, as well as the strength of the connection between the ad copy and the objective/destination of the ad. The topic of ad relevance will be discussed in more detail in a future blog post.

Researching Your Audience

Here’s a tip: when conducting research for the purposes of creating an Audience Persona, try using Facebook Audience Insights. An extremely handy online tool that lets you select a location and see a demographic breakdown of all the Facebook users in that area. You can build your Audience Persona around identifying the most popular characteristics of the social media users in your target location.

In the next blog, I will delve into different budget strategies and the difference between automatic and custom bidding. I will also look at different ad placements, as well as downsides and benefits of each. Finally, I will offer up some tips on ad creative and visuals that will help improve your ad’s reach and click-through rate.

Source: B2C

Do Your Users Interact With Your Videos?

Atarythm / Pixabay

Beyond Engagement: How interactive video marketing brings another dimension to the user experience

We’ve been talking about video marketing a lot lately. It’s important and increasingly so. What you make, where the user views the video, the story you tell, and where the user ends up are all important.

Another step you can take to make the most of your efforts is to make the video interactive.

This may seem daunting and the idea intimidates a lot of people but there are ways to go about it that are often easier and more cost effective than you’d think.

Here are some excellent tools that can help you turn your videos into an interactive experience:


Adventr is a free tool though it has tiered pricing options for those looking for more. This system allows the user to choose based on selection offered during the video putting the user in a position to enjoy more than one outcome and more than one story.

The drag and drop administration puts you in control of the narrative you create. When the video pauses at certain points you offer the user choices that then determine the outcome!

For those looking to draw the user in or convey a message that requires interactive elements this tool is ideal and you can try it free before committing to anything.


Klynt is another great tool that makes interactive video making easy. They also offer drag and drop video creation that offers up neat opportunities such as adding in specific paths the user can take from or from within the video as well as adding clickable icons that link to pages within your website that may provide further insight into the subject matter for your user. It’s like linking from within your video!

There are more great ways to use this service as seen in this demo example of a dynamic landing page menu to start your video. Now you just have to get creative.


A somewhat more advanced tool this one will take you a few hours to toy with but if you’re interested telling stories in your videos then this is ideal.

This system allows for inserting everything from audio tracks to adding fade in text effects and more. If you have a certain point in your video youwant to be linked to a url within your site just add it as a hotspot linked by either text or an image.

Add a map and make it interactive to allow the user to choose where to go and when they get there have a video about that section or locality.

It depends on how much time and effort you’re willing to put in but if you want to really make a splash and excite your users this could be a great way to do it.


Odyssey is much simpler than the rest. Though you might be intimidated by words like documentation and .js this one is in fact quite easy to use with 3 options to tell your story with.

Slides, scrolling, and torque are the 3 types of videos you can make with this system. By taking your time and reading the documentation you can use this one quite easily to make your videos a journey for your users.

While mostly map based this system does offer options on how to get your user to engage with your content and if you’re stuck that same documentation is there for easy reference.

Creating videos can be a lot of fun. If you’re running into obstacles or need help getting started then please sign up for our Social Media Membership Program. We have great lively discussion and learning sessions designed to help you grow your business by making the most out of your online efforts and social marketing.

To your business success!

Source: B2C

Consistency is Key: How to Ensure Your Customers Get the Same Brand Experience, Every Time

Free-Photos / Pixabay

To win in a limited B2B market, every CMO must also be “Chief Experience Officer.”

Chief marketing officers love to talk about creating and selling experiences. Yet if you ask a group of CMOs what it takes to deliver a great customer experience, there’s a good chance you’ll get several different answers.

Many will talk about improving the product deployment process or delivering better customer service, but they’re simply focusing on the post-sales customer experience. There’s not enough talk about creating a better experience from the beginning to the end of a buyer’s journey.

We often forget that every touchpoint throughout a buyer’s entire journey is an experience with your brand. This journey begins with a buyer’s existing perception of your brand even before they start researching your product on external sites, visiting your website, or interacting with sales reps.

Each touchpoint — from your web copy to email signatures to the invoice — adds to or detracts from customers’ experience with your brand and ultimately impacts their larger perception of you. You’re in trouble if their experiences don’t tell a consistent, cohesive story. This is as true in B2B as it in B2C, but fewer B2B companies spend time thinking about customer experiences as opposed to companies like Apple or Southwest that think about them every day.

As CMO, how do you find time to ensure your company is delivering a consistent brand experience at every touchpoint?

Limited B2B Markets Demand Focus on Experiences

No matter what B2B industry you’re in, it’s a naturally limited market so there’s typically a finite number of accounts that fit your target profile. For example, if you’re primarily targeting enterprises, you might be surprised to hear there are fewer than 11,000 businesses in the U.S. that employ 1,000 or more people.

And if you work in a niche industry like aerospace, the available number of buyers is even smaller. You can’t continue to repetitively cold call and email the same targets without creating a negative perception of you brand.

That’s why a focus on customer experiences, particularly in a limited market, is more important than ever. In B2B, this can often be achieved through account-based marketing (ABM), which treats a fewer number of current and prospective clients as markets unto themselves. The goal is to nurture long-term, high-value relationships with a more focused list of targets by creating more impactful experiences at every touchpoint. Because at the end of the day, experiences matter most in a limited market where customers pay attention to not only what they’re buying, but who they’re buying from.

A New Approach: Becoming the Chief Experience Officer

But what do we really mean when we say “touchpoints?” CMOs who think only of web copy and other marketing deliverables they control miss a crucial opportunity to bring the brand to life everywhere in the organization.

Let’s say you’re selling a network router to the enterprise market, and you want to be known as the market innovator who drives performance and security. What would it say if your support team took three days to respond to every request? What if your sales team approached prospects the same way as every other company in your space? And what if prospects were bombarded by pop up ads every time they visited your website? Innovation wouldn’t be the takeaway, would it?

Put differently: think about retailers with highly valued brands. Apple and McDonald’s, for example. Everything down to the package, invoice font, and store design speaks to their message: luxury tech for Apple, fun convenience for McDonald’s. Your experience should be as integrated.

And yet, as CMO, it may not be your job to write customer support scripts or sit on sales calls. What to do? Start by identifying brand champions in each department and empower them to guide the touchpoints in their department. These should be employees that are familiar with your core values and passionate about your brand. But instead of enforcing the law, allow them to give authority to others in their department on how to customize the look and feel of deliverables or have impactful conversations with customers and prospects. Be a Chief Experience Officer, and make it your mission to influence employees to bring your brand to life across the entire company.

You can’t and won’t control everything, of course. But the customer experience has to remain front and center in everything we do, even when implementing new marketing technology. Because in the fight to be considered in a limited market, you need more than just a good product. You need great, standout, consistent brand experiences at every touchpoint.

Source: B2C

Relationship Marketing: 6 Secrets To Everlasting Brand Love

Most marketing executives understand developing and establishing a brand is important. It’s not necessarily easy, and, it’s only half the battle. To win, you must take it a step further. That step is to not only recognize your brand, but to develop a passion for it. According to consulting firm Bain & Company, it costs 6 times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. What’s more, a mere 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits by up to 95%. This is where relationship marketing comes in.

You’ll get more bang for your buck by retaining loyal customers than constantly trying to recruit new ones. In addition, these passionate advocates can be key drivers for new customer acquisition channels. That being said, here are 6 relationship marketing secrets used by successful brands for getting your target audience, prospects, and current customers to love your brand.

Secret 1: Surprise & Delight


These days it’s not about just getting by on your service, but going above and beyond. People can get basic service anywhere. What they crave is a brand that will truly value them. The easiest way to lure prospects in and get them hooked on your product or service is to wow them with each and every interaction.

Secret 2: Image is everything


Your online presence is akin to your brand’s first impression with your audience, and we all know you only get one chance, so you’ve really got to knock it out of the park with this one. Make sure you have a compelling, user-friendly website, a clear brand image and a solid social media presence so that first impression will really stick.

Secret 3: Quality over quantity


It’s not about bombarding your audience and banging them over the heads with your brand. Rather, it’s about providing them with quality content that they can use. In fact, 60% of consumers say they feel more confident about working with a company after reading their custom content. Not sure where to begin? Start by asking what are your customers’ biggest pain points? Then, determine how your product or service provides the solution. Turn this information into content and you’ll have them hooked.

Secret 4: Connect emotionally


75% of consumers say they make buying decisions based on their emotions. What does this mean for your brand? If you can find a way to connect with your audience emotionally, you’re more than halfway toward converting them into loyal customers. In a recent brand engagement survey, 94% of respondents said they would be highly likely to recommend a brand they were emotionally engaged with. Find a way to tug at the heart strings of your target audience and you’ll end up with loyal brand ambassadors.

Secret 5: Over-deliver


You’ve surely heard the old adage, “under promise and over deliver”. This is a key component to garnering affection for your brand. When you consistently go above and beyond to satisfy your customers in service, quality and support, they’ll pay you back with repeat business and referrals.

Secret 6: Listen to feedback.


Think the squeaky wheel always gets the grease? Not necessarily – especially when it comes to customer satisfaction. A recent Harris Interactive study revealed that only 4% of customers that are unhappy will actually complain. The other 96% will simply leave. This means that you need to be asking for feedback from your customers on a regular basis. More importantly, you need to pay attention to what’s being said – good or bad. When you encourage your customers to speak up and show them that their opinions really matter, you endear them to your brand. As a bonus, you’ll also be better prepared to correct problems and make improvements in a more proactive way.

Relationship Marketing As Part Of Your Brand Strategy

Loyal customers are critically important to the success of your business. They stay longer, buy more, and refer your brand to their friends and families. In fact, according to a study conducted by the White House Consumer Affairs Department, repeat business is worth 10 times as much as a single new sale.

By implementing these six key strategies, you’ll have your customers falling in love with your brand. Build a strong relationship that will have them coming back for more and spreading the love to their own networks.

Source: B2C

7 Must-Have Features in Your Business Intelligence Dashboard Tool

geralt / Pixabay

If the past three decades tell us anything, it’s that we’re indeed deep into the “Information Age.” Business intelligence and dashboard reporting tools are all the rage. Why? Because data is everywhere, coming from virtually everything. Around the clock connectivity and the Internet of Things (“IoT”) have digitally connected everything from cars and appliances to countries and economies.

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) is now using data to perform and automate tasks that historically required human interaction, like visual perception (e.g. virtual reality), speech recognition, business decision-making and language translation.

Data for Data’s Sake is Useless

All of that data coming from so many sources also means we’re knee-deep in data overload. The truth is, data for data’s sake is useless. More data isn’t necessarily better if you cannot deduce meaningful conclusions from it.

The other truth is that the seamless integration of technologies and systems to make data accessible and useful has been, for many companies, a bag full of broken promises.

By 2014, the world’s capacity to store information reached 5 zettabytes. That’s the equivalent of 4,500 stacks of printed books extending from the earth to the sun… some 92.96 million miles (146 million kilometers).

While storing so much data is a big enough challenge, actually collecting and crunching data to create useful intelligence is an even bigger one.

So are you still chasing data sitting in separate CRM and accounting systems? Are you still manually managing and manipulating data in Excel spreadsheets? Are you still fighting to find trends and weak points in your disconnected eCommerce and inventory systems?

While the world’s largest companies have the resources (budget and people) to collect, analyze and report back on such disparate data — those efforts are often time-consuming and can slow the company’s responsiveness to changing marketing conditions.

Then there’s the rest of us: the small and mid-sized company ‘masses’ who may be able to move faster in response to changing market dynamics, but who often lack the necessary in-house expertise and budget resources to effectively derive intelligence from raw data.

BI is the ‘Holy Grail’ of the Information Age

The point is: the holy grail of having all systems neatly integrated and useful analytics spitting back out has not quite come to fruition. Many organizations still have data siloed across disparate systems — all quite necessary to efficiently run the business, of course — but siloed, nonetheless.

Whatever your business type or industry, no doubt your company needs to find faster, better, smarter ways to create actionable intelligence from primary raw data sources.

According to CIO Magazine, business intelligence is an umbrella term used to describe software applications that help analyze and make sense of an organization’s raw data. When done right, business intelligence can help speed and improve decision-making, discover areas of waste and potential cost reduction, identify new business and revenue opportunities, and more.

Surprisingly, BI is older than you might think. Hans Peter Luhn, a researcher at IBM, coined the term in 1958 after seeing the connections that BI made possible, and the opportunities to adjust course and fine-tune decisions to reach strategic goals. This was — and still is — the basic premise of BI.

Such a big need for using data to our advantage drove an onslaught of BI tools to market. According to research analyst firm, Gartner, the BI and analytics software market is expected to reach $18.3 billion by the end of 2017.

Now companies are not only paralyzed by their vast volumes of data, they’re paralyzed by which BI and analytics software tool(s) to use. Fortunately there are some key features to look out for that will set you ahead of the pack and expedite your tool evaluation process.

  1. Cloud based and mobile ready

    The world is moving fast, and uninterrupted access to business analytics is mission critical. Be sure the tool is cloud based and offers a mobile application version for access through a browser, tablet or phone. Every dashboard should be fully responsive and adapt to any size screen, in landscape or portrait, via your 4G/LTE network or public Wi-Fi. Essentially make sure you’re never without your reports again.

  2. Real-time data feeds

    The most valuable tools connect data and feed it into the reporting system in real or near-real time. Old data doesn’t help much, does it? And by today’s standards, ‘old’ could be only days or even hours. Customers demand products, services, information and response time from a company quickly, as do employees. If your tool is still ‘batch’ processing data, it’s time to make a change.

  3. Easy visualization with drag and drop editing

    If it’s not easy, it won’t get used. Be sure your tool has simple drag and drop capabilities and indicators on your workspace so you can connect data from any source. You should be able to create live, visualized dashboards and reports with just a few clicks. If you need consultants to create visualized dashboards and reports from your system, it may be time to evaluate other tools.

  4. Automated data refreshes

    You should be able to easily (aka, without expensive consultants) connect to a large number of systems and databases like Google Analytics, Facebook, Salesforce, Oracle, MySQL and files on Dropbox, Google Drive and others, and schedule refresh dates and times that make the most sense for your business, team or users.

  5. Scheduling of dashboard publications

    Although there’s no ‘set it and forget it’ in business analytics, modern tools should allow you to create schedules of various dashboards and automate the publication of them to users or groups of users.

  6. Cross platform access (Windows, Mac, Linux compatibility)

    Most companies have a complicated mix of legacy and newer systems, and therefore, often a complicated rollout of tools. Be sure your tool allows for cross-platform compatibility so there are no surprises after deployment, like half of your company without access.

  7. Custom alert options

    Every business has unique KPIs it needs to track, and specific users that need certain reports on demand. Modern BI tools allow you to set custom alerts for various user types and datasets so anyone on any team gets immediate notifications of the triggers they need to see around the clock.

  8. Per user AND per team data views

    Drill down interactions let you dig into your charts, indicators and tables, display sub tables, other dashboards and even websites. You should be able to display data per user, or per team of users, on any given dashboard so that every user sees their own data.

It’s even better if you can zoom in and out of charts, easily move time scales, group by months, quarters and/or years all in a single click. Flexibility and usability are key — you should have all the control you need at the macro and micro levels.

There are plenty of BI and dashboard reporting tools with many other features, but these will offer the most value, flexibility and ROI for your business.

Finally, be sure to look for a BI dashboard tool that offers a free trial so you have the option to test its ease of use, connectivity and the above features with your company’s live data.

Source: B2C

7 Tips To Start Your Own Business


If you get discouraged when you think of getting your business idea off the paper, remember that even great entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet started out from nothing. The most important feature in business is having passion for the project. It should always leave you excited and bright-eyed.

Good business ideas are wasted all the time because of the insecurity and fear of people, who often worry about financial issues, the chances of failure or success, and even lack of emotional support. But starting a business is basically risking. This does not mean that you should quit your job today and open a new business tomorrow. Instead, you must trust your instincts and analyze whether the conditions for a new venture are favorable.

  1. Research your market

It is essential to understand the competition and the market when opening your own business. Do a thorough research to become a subject matter expert. Do not be discouraged if the market looks too competitive. You can use this as an advantage. A swollen market means that many people are doing well in this area. That is, you too can be successful.

  1. Make a plan

Starting a business does not mean dreaming about it and putting it into practice. You will need a detailed plan on the expenses that your new business will represent, the profits you will receive, in how much time they will arrive. You need to know the area you are entering, the job market, your employees and your buyers. And you need to maintain a growth plan so that the company does not get stagnant at one point. All this is not done overnight. Although you rely on your instincts, you do not open a company without planning.

  1. Have a goal

Many entrepreneurs often set new goals every six months. However, it is always important to have a primary goal to achieve. Think about what your most important goal is and plan to take small steps each day to get there.

  1. Produce quality content that people want to share

Looking for inspiration in big companies can always be something interesting to feed your ideas. But do not forget to produce something unique for your brand – especially if you’re talking about a website of your own. People like websites with differentiated content that they can always access and share. Create something that is a reference for the public.

  1. Make a list of emails

Emails are still one of the best ways to do your company’s online marketing. The mailing list is one of the most important tools for a business. After developing your site, start capturing the contacts of people who visit your page. They can become potential customers for your products.

  1. Create products or services that can be sold

To achieve the financial goals of your business you need to have something to be sold or monetized. Develop a relationship with your audience and try to understand what their needs are. Then create something that solves these people’s problems. Successful companies are always based on the principle that they offer a solution to the needs of their customers.

  1. Start now!

Many people waste time thinking about how to make things perfect before launching their business. It is a mistake to waste time if you plan too much. Successful companies are launching new products all the time, even if they are not yet perfect. Evolution and experience are gradually emerging.

Think about Facebook, for example. At all times they are making changes in their service. Get started today. If not, your designs will leave the paper…

Source: B2C

4 Principles of a Successful Client Onboarding Process

Hans / Pixabay

Making sure that your client onboarding process is successful is crucial for any service company.

When done well, your onboarding process is the mechanism through which your business development and/or sales team does an elegant handoff to your service delivery people. This instills confidence in your offering, and makes your new customer glad to have signed on with you.

Getting your client onboarding process right—especially when your service is offered remotely from a globally distributed team—is even more important and difficult.

Below, I outline four principles we’ve kept in mind while structuring our onboarding process, a process that we see as foundational to Prialto’s success.

4 Principles of a Successful Client Onboarding Process

1. Make the new customer glad to have signed on with you

Savvy buyers are always hesitant to sign on to a new service. They fear the inevitable productivity dip that takes place before a new service becomes additive.

Our new customers are particularly fearful. They worry that they will need to provide a lot of heavy personal management time to make our service work in light of our virtual assistants residing a world away in Asia and Latin America.

To overcome this, we work to awe the customer with the amount of management support we will provide on their behalf. We put their entire support team of virtual assistants and their manager on the onboarding call so that they hear from each person and understand how each of their roles will help make the service exceptionally “turnkey” such that the productivity dip common in adopting a new service will be minimal.

This addresses one of the greatest fears with which the customer comes to the new relationship. It puts them at ease and encourages them to follow our lead.

Instead of regretting that they’ve signed on, they rightly feel smart for having done so.

2. Create a detailed, personal and professional context around which to collaborate

Contrary to conventional wisdom, studies show that when meetings begin with a bit of personal sharing they are more productive than meetings kept to “just business.” Sharing and honoring the personal context in which work is conducted creates the trust and respect that is foundational to work collaboration.

We begin each onboarding call by introducing each of the several key Prialto employees who comprise our new customers’ support team. By this time, we’ve already sent the new customer a detailed biography of his/her primary virtual administrative assistant. On the call, we outline each of the team members’ roles in helping the customer.

We then ask the new customer to introduce him/herself. While making the request, we invite the new customer to tell us about both the professional and personal aspects of his/her life.

When the new customer pauses, the Prialto team comments or asks follow-up questions to show that they understand the professional life being described, the personal world in which it takes place, and the connections between the two.

We follow these introductions with a series of preference questions. Many of these preferences might have been collected in advance of the call via a web form or survey. However, asking the questions on the call allow us to follow-up with personal insights and questions that further build trust, primarily my telling the new customer that “we’ve been here before.” We have worked with people like him/her, and we know how to successfully lead a busy professional through the productivity dip to the “sweet spot” in which the service we offer is creating lasting value.

These questions and introductions also help bridge the context gap between our customer operating in a high pressure North American business environment and the world in which our virtual assistants live in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

3. Begin taking steps to ensure continuity

Customers who sign on with a firm for a new service are often attracted by one particular partner, employee or executive. But the firm and the customer hope the service is not dependent on any one or two people.

Building continuity of service starts with the client onboarding call. That’s why the call should never be with just one person. It should always be with the broader support team.

It’s important to note that someone on your team should always document all preferences and key information shared on the call. And whenever possible, the call should be recorded (if that’s okay with the new customer).

4. The onboarding bridge

Services are difficult to sell because of all the trust building required between provider and buyer. The provider must convince the buyer that the productivity dip will be minimal, and the buyer must convince the provider that they will be a customer capable of riding out the productivity dip.

A good client onboarding process will:

  • Help the new customer slow down in a time-efficient way in order to get started

  • Help overcome the business and social context gap between the service provider and service buyer

  • Begin the process of ensuring continuity of service for both the firm and the customer

By proactively addressing each of these bulleted needs, the onboarding process becomes an elegant handoff from sales to service that positivity defines your brand.



If you’ve struggled with your client onboarding process, you’re not alone. Many executives and business owners find the process difficult to navigate.

Would you like to learn how we can help you grow your business and be more productive?

Source: B2C

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Partner With Your Cloud Infrastructure Vendor: 5 Key Consideration for MSPs

Providing enterprises with managed services to complement their offerings of public cloud infrastructure is a great business opportunity. The expanding cloud ecosystems of Azure and AWS are examples of the scope of this new industry. Are you taking advantage of the market opportunity? By packaging and selling your company’s specialized expertise to multiple customers, you earn contract fees and establish ongoing profitable support relationships with organizations that wish to benefit from the cloud. However, have you developed relationships with your cloud vendor? Have you leveraged this partnership to support your marketing and business? Are you managing your responsibility in this threesome — the cloud vendor, your enterprise customer and you? As a Cloud MSP, there are many ways you can develop your business to better serve your clients and increase your profitability.

An Opportunity Is Born: The Public Cloud

When Amazon Web Services (AWS) emerged in 2006, the industry’s new entrant had deep pockets and a proclivity for making compute available to the masses. They began servicing start-ups, and, as with every good disruptive technology, made their way to the large enterprise market. Because of this trend, a traditional MSP (managed service provider) hosting service could no longer rely on the margins from physical data center hosting to stay afloat.

CEO Taylor Rhodes defined it best: “How do you matter in a post-Amazon world?”

In recent years, Rackspace and other enterprise IT hosting vendors recognized a growing niche: enterprises want to scale down their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and move to the cloud. To make this shift, they needed help with the complicated process of migrating their applications and data. The automation and self-service mechanisms that enabled AWS and Azure to remain scalable made them impersonal; neither Amazon nor Microsoft could afford to assign account managers to every potential customer. Traditional managed service providers that boasted years of trusted relationships with existing customers were experienced in providing this needed service. Becoming a Cloud MSP enabled them to support a customer’s cloud adoption journey.

The gap noticed by players such as Rackspace is ever widening. Organizations in many industries are clamoring for access to this new technology in order to succeed in their own marketplace against their competitors, as well as to break through scaling bottlenecks that increase time-to-market. Yet costs can be prohibitive without a Cloud MSP to bridge the gap.

Cloud MSPs can evolve to service multiple customers with similar integration needs. A Cloud MSP can specialize in a specific vertical, such as the healthcare industry, which requires HIPAA-compliant cloud stack construction know-how, for example. The Cloud MSP acts as a “bridge” between an institutional customer such as a school, hospital, university or medical practice and a cloud vendor, while providing the custom services that such customers require.

Enterprises recognize the gap as well. They seek to accelerate cloud adoption and remove deployment and management risks. Cloud vendors similarly recognize that gap, and they see the MSP as a key player in their race to conquer the enterprise market.

So, if you partner with players such as AWS and Azure, or are planning to become certified as a cloud consulting partner, continue reading to learn more about this important, strategic partnership.

  1. Choose Your Clouds

As an early stage MSP, it is advantageous to select a single public cloud vendor to broker. This focus allows you to make the most of your resources and expertise, rather than diluting your energy among multiple vendors. Choose your vendor by evaluating the feature set that can best serve your niche customer, making sure to consider supported architectures, tools and technology, as well as your customers’ first option. You will also want to consider the extent of “lock-in” with your vendor – and evaluate your needs with regards to this.

However, remember your role as a cloud broker. In addition to requiring your assistance with migration to the public IaaS, your enterprise customer may want you to run a hybrid IT infrastructure. Private cloud solutions can provide the answer – select a vendor by evaluating their compatibility with your supported public cloud, and the overall deployment and management efforts required from your team.

As you become more experienced, you may want to grow into a multi-cloud offering that can provide additional options to your customer. Plan for the long term and define for yourself when and how you intend to begin to branch out to other additional offerings.

  1. You Are a Partner

Establish a strong relationship with your chosen public cloud provider. Attend summits to join the scene, arrange for accreditation to a partner program and invest in this relationship. Several tiers of partnership are available, depending upon the size of your account and achieving a higher tier offers benefits such as access to volume discounts and development roadmaps.

Joining a cloud vendors’ partnership program and becoming deeply involved with your cloud vendor helps you stand out and benefit from partner programs. They can assist with budget and resources, and are eager to do so, in order to promote you to their customers as their consulting partner.

Once you are a partner, communicate with your cloud vendor account manager regularly. Establish relationships and a continuous discussion, and respect this important partner. This relationship can have a huge impact on your business as they can send many opportunities your way.

  1. Certify and Accredit Systems and Personnel

When hiring your team, check CVs for existing accreditation and training qualifications with your chosen cloud vendor, such as an AWS Certified Solution Architect qualification, and cross check the registration number with your cloud partner. Expand your existing resources and create a skilled and trusted team by offering staff in-house training led by your senior cloud professionals. A knowledgeable team of skilled cloud consultants is your core capability.

  1. Prove Delivery and Market Your Capabilities

Where possible, choose projects that showcase your skills in your specific niche, or show off skills as per your cloud partner’s guidance. Showcasing a good enterprise migration project for a recognized brand can generate business through recommendations. Ensure that your cloud partner’s account manager and leaders are aware of your skills by sharing case studies and inviting them to hear you speak at key events. Become a cloud thought leader in the verticals you service by giving technical examples and sharing the best practices and tools you use. This will encourage your cloud partners to forward potential customers to you.

  1. Understand Your Responsibility

The cloud shared responsibility model, an important element in defining the separation of duties between the customer and the cloud vendor, was etched into the industry’s consciousness by AWS. However, you need to make sure that your liabilities are defined as well. They must be aligned with your customer and fit in with your position between the vendor and customer. For example, is your team the sole administrator of the cloud infrastructure? Are there users on the customer side, or any other stakeholders that can affect your liability? These are issues that must be defined.

Although the cloud vendor might be able to inform you and the customer of threats such as DDoS attacks or instance pools exploits, it is advisable that you demonstrate proactivity.

Maintain a robust governance, monitoring and alerting suite. As the cloud expert, you should be the first to report and fix problems, such as a cloud sprawling due to a hack. You must plan your network and resource allocation. In a co-hosted environment, for example, define how you will segregate customer accounts so that they cannot see each other except through sanctioned federation arrangements. Decide how much access and control the customer is given over their cloud network and how to support customers when they make changes that are difficult or impossible to assure.

  1. Resell Your Partner’s Infrastructure

The MSP is a hub and should leverage its position as a reseller by negotiating better volume packages and forwarding some of the benefits to its customers. Reselling public cloud is a great opportunity and a scalable business.

In comparison to traditional IT reselling, however, this is a volume game. As your cloud reseller service grows, you can generate additional efficiencies that are directly translated to added benefits for yourself and for your customers. Some examples include consolidating resources, migrating steady workloads on-premise, and leveraging long term discounted packages such as AWS reserved instances. Prove your professional skills, show customers that you can achieve better deals, and “own” the account by being the hub for the bills: you pay the vendor and chargeback your customers.

This is a win-win-win for all parties: your cloud partner, your customers and last but definitely not least, your business.

Source: B2C

Campaign Attribution Best Practices for Your Inbound Marketing Efforts

umerprince / Pixabay

It’s time to geek out about HubSpot and measuring digital marketing efforts.

Let’s talk campaign attribution.

In old-school advertising, a campaign was really straightforward. It was typically a word used to describe the marketing activities surrounding a new product launch or a push for a key business objective. I don’t know about you, but I have visions of Don Draper sitting at his Manhattan-view desk with his feet up, smoking a cigar, drinking a Scotch, and spouting off invariably ingenious insights about a blonde in a bikini.

Campaigns mean something different now.

With the invention of, well, the internet, marketers have access to a whole new world of data. You can track your visitor in regard to customer performance down to the minutest of details, from your first tweet to your latest new customer entering his or her credit card information.

All of this privileged intelligence gold is very exciting for us data nerds. But it can quickly become overwhelming. What is the most important factor? And how should one set up tracking to measure the success of our efforts in the end?

That “efforts” question—insert “campaign” here. Your campaign should be directly attributed to a KPI, which should be tied to a measurable outcome. And HubSpot rocks at that! Let’s dig into why.

Setting up Campaigns in HubSpot

Let me back up a bit for those who may not have yet ventured into the nerdy depths that HubSpot allows. HubSpot has a cool feature called “campaigns.” With this feature, you can tie any digital marketing effort to a particular campaign that is tracked in a single space in HubSpot.

Here’s what it looks like:

Campaign Attribution in Hubspot

Essentially, through a mix of UTM tags and software-level campaign tracking, HubSpot makes it not only possible but really straightforward to answer that question of “success of our efforts.”

As you can see, you just tie everything you’re working on—keywords, blog posts, landing pages, emails, calls to action (CTAs)—to your campaign. And you can measure those successes of your efforts in one place! Here’s a great HubSpot article if you have more questions about the technicalities on how to do that.

But How Do You Pick a Campaign?

Well, the obvious first answer is to go with those past campaigns our forefathers laid before us. Track an entire new product launch or run a campaign around a unique feature of your hottest item. But I have a secret for you: You can be so much more than that! With the data that we have available as digital mavens, you can think about a specific objective and track your entire campaign to that end result.

The best way to set up your campaign will likely vary depending upon your business. But the very best thing you can do is to identify a single key performance indicator (KPI) and go from there. Think to yourself: What is the most important outcome of this campaign? What will I get the biggest “attaboy” or “attagirl” for? Make sure that goal is SMART. Then set your campaign around that. Working from “the question” is the best way to get a clear measurable answer in a variable sea of data. (Side note: That’s why our 9th grade science teachers went on and on about the scientific equation—it works.)

Here are some examples:

  • If your KPI is ebook downloads, set your campaigns by ebook. Tie all social posts, blogs, emails, keywords, and other data that point for that ebook to your campaign.

  • If your KPI is to grow SQLs, set your campaign as SQLs but then tie in your bottom-of-the-funnel keywords, content, CTAs, workflows, and other activities back in.

  • If your KPI is to be the number-one authority on taco toppings, set your campaign and start writing and tracking blogs, social posts, keywords, landing pages, and any other type of content that is important to you within that taco-rific sphere.

The answer is, there is no right answer.

The true secret is to start with the question. What is the most important outcome? That will help you decide the campaign to track and start setting up your individual content items that need to be monitored to measure success.

Measuring Results

If you set your goal ahead of time, it should be easy to measure whether or not your campaign was a success. The important thing here is to avoid getting lost in the details. There are a lot of what we call “vanity metrics” in digital marketing: data surrounding information that sounds good at first but doesn’t really measure up to the bottom line. Some examples of vanity metrics are impressions, likes, views, and even traffic.

Let’s assume you’ve read this article, so you’ve already set SMART goals. It should be easy to measure results. With HubSpot in particular, performance is broken out by the KPIs at the top and then at a more micro level by individual contributors as you scroll down.

Campaign Attribution in Hubspot I2

How to Track Campaigns to ROI

Let’s be honest with each other. No matter what industry you work in—however many organic, chemical-free product lines you have or the charitable organization that a portion of your profits go to—at the end of the day, we all need to make revenue to keep our business going.

Tracking ROI is an essential part of a marketer’s job.

And what’s the best way to track ROI? Closed-loop reporting. Make sure that any customer relations management (CRM) platform (or sales platform) that you’re using is integrated into your marketing software (HubSpot is the example we’re using today). That way, you can push that acquisition data through to your sales team and vice versa—ensuring that you have a complete story about how people arrived on your site, answered their questions, and made decisions to buy. Without integration, the buck stops at lead.

When it comes to HubSpot, pretty much any CRM can integrate through the API. Many of the well-knowns will be faster. Salesforce, Zoho, and Sugar will be quick and easy, of course, but HubSpot has the capability to connect with any CRM.

Making It Count

At the end of the day, the most important takeaway when setting up campaign attribution is to think about your goal. What are the most important objectives that will help grow your business? Start with the end in mind. An outcome-focused mindset will help you set up campaigns in your marketing platform that drive actionable insights that you and your team can grow upon.

But identifying that end goal is not always as easy as “more sales.” There is a lot that has to happen in between to help your company achieve success. And through the brilliance of the internet, you can track those details and continue to improve your performance.

Still have questions about what exactly needs to be measured? Download our free guide, 10 Steps to Building an Inbound Campaign That Works. We’ll make sure you set your plans and execute them, too!

Source: B2C

How To Build An Inventory Management System Your Employees and Customers Will Love

Does your business suffer from the following symptoms of poor inventory management?

  • Haphazard warehouse organization

  • Late deliveries

  • Mixed up shipments

  • Lackluster customer service

Yes, all of these problems can be traced back to poor inventory control. Why? Human error is imminent when you handwrite SKU numbers or key data into a spreadsheet. Even the most expert typist will make one keying error in every 300 keystrokes. And your co-worker’s handwriting? Forget about it. The point is, keying errors and misread data adds up to a lot of frustration for your employees as well as your customers over time.

Still, 43 percent of small businesses use manual inventory management processes or don’t track inventory at all, according to the 2017 State of Small Business Report.

Since you run a small business or a start-up, you may think an inventory management system would be too much of an investment or too complicated, or simply overkill. Quite the contrary. The lack of inventory management causes confusion and mistakes. Warehouse workers become disgruntled with internal mistakes and a disorganized warehouse, resulting in shipping errors. Shareholders get impatient with inaccurate or outdated reports. And customers aren’t happy when you don’t know what’s in stock, send the wrong shipment, or don’t send orders in a timely manner. Added together, these problems can destroy your business, from the front office to the warehouse.

To avoid much unwarranted stress at your company, consider the following questions as you plan for an inventory management system that will make everybody happy.

  1. What are your business’ priorities? It’s natural to get caught up in all the “fancy” features some inventory systems offer. But before you make a rash decision or spend too much, figure out what your company needs to help solve specific problems. Ask your employees about where the hold-ups are. They’ll be more than willing to help identify problem areas. Also, consider software integration processes. Will you switch to barcode scanners or will a new system need to work with existing software programs? Coming up with answers to these questions will confirm your decision before signing on the dotted line.

  2. What are you willing to pay? If you run a small business, it’s likely your budget is tight. And that’s OK. Your priority is to get most bang for your buck. Since you narrowed down what key features will enable an efficient workflow, you can make a more informed decision. Although you have a set budget, you may find the inexpensive programs lack features you want, or you’ll need to replace it once your company outgrows the software’s capabilities. That expensive risk may cost you more than an upfront investment into an affordable, more robust solution.

  3. Will implementation cause downtime? Since you’ve done business without an automated system, you’ve likely experienced lost time and money you’ll never get back. And the last thing you want is for business to slow down for system installation and lengthy software and hardware training. Choose software that’s user friendly and that several employees can learn relatively easily. Be sure your solution provider offers online and onsite training that is flexible and works around your employees’ schedules.

  4. What hardware is best? Barcode scanners: You might be surprised at how many different types of scanners you’ll have to choose from. Again, it’s important to know what scanner features fit your business the best. For example, a 2D barcode scanner is best for retail, healthcare or hospitality industries. If you run a small office, a handheld or entry-level type of bar code scanner might fit the bill. There are also scanners that are disinfectant ready for healthcare and more rugged for harsher warehouse environments. If mobility is important, take advantage of apps that will turn employee smart phones into scanners.

Bar code printers: In order to use a barcode scanner, you need a printer to produce the type of labels appropriate for your business. For a typical small business, thermal printers are the product of choice. It’s still important to where it’ll be used before making the investment. For example:

  • Where will the printer be used? Thermal labels can hold up in even the harshest warehouses, however, you should still consider the location of the printer: will it be on a desk in a normal office setting or in a cold, dusty warehouse?

  • How about the labels?What size will they be? How important is print quality? Will labels need to be printed in batches or on-demand?

When you take all these factors into communication, your warehouse is more organized, mistakes are eliminated, processes are streamlined…and that makes happy employees and customers.

Source: B2C

The Pros and Cons of Adding a Blog to Your Website

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When it comes business websites, content is king. One of the most cost-effective ways for a small business to add useful content is through a blog. The more often you can post a relevant, authoritative blog, the more you’ll get out of it. Here are some pros and cons of including blogs on your website:


Establish authority:

Marketing a product or service on the Internet is essential if you want to sell to the widest possible audience. A business blog educates consumers about your offering and the industry in which you operate. Your blog also showcases your talent and authority, giving readers the confidence to buy what you’re selling. Google bestows a higher Page Rank and better search results on websites that constantly offer authoritative, unique content, and there is no better way to create content than through a daily blog. A good blog generates new readers, who then become leads and (hopefully) customers.

Industry-Specific Marketing:

While blogging can help any company, it is especially useful in certain industries such as hospitality. For example, you can use your blogs to establish communication with potential travelers who are looking for, say, a nice place to stay in your community. If you blog about the local sites and events, travelers will come to rely on your information and will be more likely book their rooms with you when staying in your city.

Search Engine Optimization:

Fresh blogs can help get you on Page One of search engine results for your chosen keywords. Blogs should revolve around a cluster of search keywords. Your marketing effort should therefore expend some resources to ascertain the optimal keywords for your business. Online tools and SEO sites can help you with this task. For example, you can use tools like Google Keyword Tool to help you decide on the exact keywords and keyphrases to use on your website Frequent blogs that concentrate on your selected keywords can help enhance your marketing effort by:

  1. raising brand awareness

  2. solving customer problems

  3. exhibiting thought leadership

  4. establishing authority and trust

By peppering your blog posts with the appropriate keywords, you help improve your results when people search using those keywords.

Social Issues:

Sometimes, you blog not only to market an offering, but to express your opinions on social issues. Your blog and the responses it elicits can act as a forum for you and others to express their thoughts on the interesting and important issues of our times. By combining your blogging with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, you have a great opportunity to reach many people who share (or disagree with) your point of view.



Like most worthwhile things, blogging requires you to commit resources such as time and money. Adding blogs to a website is easy and costs little, but creating good blogs is a talent that needs financial support. For example, you are diverting resources if your employees take time out of their busy days to wrote posts. The other route is to hire a professional freelance writer to create your blog posts. While not overly expensive, you should seek out the best writers with the finest reputations.


A poorly prepared blog is worse than no blog at all. A blog is meant to establish your competence and authority, but you’ll achieve the opposite effect if your blog is poor. Some signs of a deficient blog concern:

  1. Poor grammar and syntax

  2. Improper, off-topic or otherwise unsuitable material

  3. Use of too much jargon

  4. Bad or poorly expressed ideas

Clearly, the benefits of blogging greatly overwhelm its drawbacks, especially if you have the resources to write good, effective blogs. Whether timely or evergreen, good blogs deliver benefits that far outweigh their costs.

Are you ready to budget for a blog? Start with the Business Budget Smart Sheet. This resource can help you make sense of tracking and spending, to help you forecast for the future.

Source: B2C