To Hire or to Outsource: Finding the Right Fit

A rapidly growing organization requires its employees to stretch beyond their job descriptions, addressing countless urgent needs as quickly as possible. Often, during these early stages, you do not have the time nor budget to build the robust team that you need. In this fast-paced environment, it makes sense to hire individuals who can be trusted to wear multiple hats and put out fires as they arise.

No matter how much drive and energy you have, there are only 24 hours in a day. It can be tempting to become accustomed to controlling every move within the business. While there is reassurance in knowing you have the final say, micromanaging every process in your organization is not a sustainable solution. There comes a point when trying to do everything yourself becomes detrimental and requires you to work twice as hard to hit your target growth rate.

Plus, adding marketing specialists to your team can boost ROI. Tasks ranging from copywriting and design to SEO and PPC require experience in both strategy and execution. While you could develop an in-house team to perform many of these marketing duties, some capabilities are stronger when they are outsourced to a group of specialists who can bring more to the table than a single individual.

Marketing results take time

Once your startup achieves a certain level of growth, you can round out the team with specialists who can expertly tackle specific needs. However, seeing tangible results from marketing programs is not always instantaneous. It can take weeks or months until you see the full benefit of new marketing programs. In the meantime, you may lose valuable time if you do not have experienced specialists on your team.

And by the time you realize your strategy is not working, your business will have lost valuable momentum. Unfortunately, developing in-house talent takes time as well. In situations where an internal resource is not in place, it is a good idea to reach out to third-party to bridge gaps.

If you have several positions to fill, the time and energy required to make the right hire can be time-consuming. In these circumstances, hiring an outside agency can create momentum, accelerate learning curves, and improve the efficacy of your resources. Working with a third-party gives you a reliable and experienced team, so you are not putting all of your faith in a single in-house hire to deliver the results you need.

Find the best option for your organization

Turn to an advisor who does not prefer one specialization or channel more than others. This outlook will provide objectivity that takes into account your target segment and your goals.

Imagine if you are considering hiring a social media manager. An impartial consultant will advise against hiring an in-house social media manager or paying top dollar to outsource to a social media agency if your customers do not spend a lot of time on social media. However, if most of your traffic is through organic search, then you stand to benefit by outsourcing your SEO needs. If you ask a social media agency for advice on whether you should outsource, they have a powerful incentive to ensure that you solicit their services.

Generally, unbiased advice will hinge on a few key factors:

A competitive analysis brings insights into your true level of differentiation from your competition as well how they successfully connect with your potential customers. The learnings gleaned from this analysis will help zero in on what your target is looking for in terms of messaging and how they want to interact with your offerings.
If there is a certain specialization that holds the key to differentiation and corporate identity, you should create a permanent position responsible for overseeing this area. Having internal capabilities allows you to maintain complete control over functions, and finding the right person to carry out a task means you can invest heavily in them.
The skill sets within your current team will play an important role when you are deciding what roles to outsource. If you have enough work to fill 40 hours each week, it might make sense to hire a full-time employee. Otherwise, you can have your employee manage one or more agencies who can fill in gaps until there is enough workload to justify a full-time hire.

Deciding whether or not to hire can be daunting, especially when you have a limited budget. Fortunately, TBGA can help answer your most crucial hiring questions. We have helped organizations large and small grapple with the same questions, and we can put you on a curated path toward successful growth. Take the first step and reach out today for a free consultation.

Categories Leadership, MarketingTags , , ,

Are you maximizing the ROI of Your Marketing Spend?

Your organization quickly expanded as a result of the people you have hired, most notably the handful of employees who have worked alongside you since the beginning. Naturally, you feel a great deal of loyalty toward these employees. After all, you want to keep the people around that helped you bring the company to where it is today.

In the early stages of any business, you often have to find people who can do a little bit of everything. This is especially true for marketing. If you did not hire a person (or two, for that matter) with at least a base knowledge of how to engage consumers and build brand awareness, you could easily count yourself as one of the nine out of 10 startups that fail.

As your business grows, your marketing needs will inevitably become more and more specialized with each passing year. Every campaign must deliver greater insights, results, and returns. Otherwise, your products or services could easily fall off even the most loyal of your customers’ radars.

This is not to say that you should replace all of your generalists with specialists. When industries shift, as they often do, it will be your generalists – and their innate ability to pinpoint issues and adapt – who will enable your business to come out on top. Their broad knowledge and problem-solving can piece together the big picture for the rest of your organization, helping predict the best next move.

As a marketing leader, you must build an organization that can support a rapidly evolving landscape. You must balance developing in-house talent against partnering with external providers. With each hiring decision point, you should evaluate whether you are striking the delicate balance with your in-house team or if an external agency can fill any gaps in executing your marketing strategy.

Effectively Assess Your Needs

You do not need to have all of the answers — and even if you do, team shakeups can still feel uncomfortable. Often, it can be hard as an entrepreneur to know when to bring in a new perspective. Fortunately, you can turn to a consultant to assess your marketing team, map them against your goals, and provide an unbiased recommendation for what to do and how to get everyone on board. However, you must select an advisor that brings first-hand knowledge in aligning a marketing organization with corporate strategy to get a real return on investment.

While advice will vary from business to business, here are four steps to set yourself up for growth:

  1. Gain a brutal understanding of the competition.
    You may be surprised by how much is learned through a competitive analysis. In addition to positioning, you can uncover where the competition devotes most of its time and budget. This can signal which channels and outlets allow consumers to interact with brands similar to yours.
  2. Look at your customer.
    For example, say your target segment spends limited time on Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. It would not be a good use of your resources to hire a social media specialist, then — or even an outside agency to work on your social messaging. If the reverse were true, we would encourage you to find a resource to handle these social media tasks.
  3. Address structural gaps.
    Map your staff’s collective skill set against to your future marketing needs. Dive into performance metrics and speak with your team to assess how to best allocate your bench strength. If necessary, you can bring in specialists and leverage your current generalists as strategic coordinators and project managers — the glue that holds everything together.
  4. Start planning.
    After assessing your needs, determine whether the projected workload warrants having a full-time hire or part-time support. Also, make a call on whether you want to develop the expertise on your team or lean on niche partners. It can take months to hire the right people or tap the right partner who can both fill in the gaps and fit within your culture so start moving.

Here is an example: With mobile phone penetration expected to hit nearly 83 percent by 2020, this channel will serve as the primary path to purchase for many customer segments. As you map the opportunity, you have to understand how consumer behavior differs across devices. This presents a golden opportunity to strengthen your team with expertise in mobile marketing. If you lack this expertise, your business likely will not see the same results for this marketing effort as competitors who are prepared. After you find skill gaps on your team, you must answer the following difficult questions: If you were to bring someone in to handle mobile marketing capabilities, would that person have enough work to fill up a 40-hour week? Or, would a better option be to hire a freelancer or agency to execute this task?

If a time comes when you need an unbiased opinion, you can rely on TBGA’s proven track record of improving marketing ROI and implementing time-tested solutions to get the most value out of your marketing spend. Get started, and reach out today for a free consultation.

Categories Leadership, Marketing, Operations, StrategyTags , , ,

Learn to Trust and Use the Data You Collect

Marketers are finally seeing the light when it comes to spending on analytics. A 2017 survey of nearly 400 CMOs found that the amount spent on marketing analytics will increase 376 percent over the next three years.

This has us incredibly excited because, as a team of marketing professionals, we are extremely analytical. We know that companies have long been collecting data, and we are so happy to see them ramp up their efforts and continue embracing the valuable science of marketing.

But There May Be a Catch…

While the survey of CMOs found a large increase in spending on analytics, it also revealed that the use rate of data is stagnant. Essentially, companies keep collecting more and more data, but few are effectively leveraging these insights to their fullest. Marketing leaders tend to have creative backgrounds, and many of them are not entirely comfortable diving into statistical analysis and uncovering the metrics that drive results. They tend to focus more on the art of marketing while neglecting the scientific side.

Any modern-day company that wants to remain competitive, increase revenue, improve customer loyalty, and acquire new customers must let data lead the way. Analyzing this data helps marketers understand what is working, what is not working, and how they can improve the customer experience. In fact, according to a recent Econsultancy survey, many data-driven methods boost customer conversions — including customer journeys and A/B testing.

Follow The Data

Quantitative results must be a major part of a marketing department’s dashboard. Teams should constantly use data to review the performance of their campaigns, better understand their customers, and predict their needs, as well as guide changes to their marketing mix, campaigns, customer journeys, and distribution channels.

Most importantly, you must be able to trust that you are measuring the right behaviors and results. Marketing departments need to learn how to rely on the data that they are collecting and analyzing. Bad data makes this work more difficult and increases costs — up to 20 percent of revenue, to be specific.

Set Your Foundation

In order to tease out valuable insights from your data, you must first have clear objectives. Is your goal to increase revenue, grow customer loyalty, or acquire new customers? Once you identify your overarching goals, let data uncover key customer behaviors and use analytical tools to develop personalized strategies to directly achieve them.

The ability to have a fact-based, behavior-based, 360-degree view of the customer is the key to developing marketing strategies that deliver the results you need. TBGA focuses on data-driven decision making. Our team has a proven track record of helping companies embrace, trust, and leverage their data into tangible results that boost their bottom line. We can help you integrate detailed data about your customers, your offerings, and the circumstances in which purchases are made. We can also uncover hidden insights that help you create or improve your products, services, and processes.

We have helped companies learn how to trust their data. We know the strategic objectives that move the needle, and we have established metrics and benchmarks to use as guideposts along the way.

We are eager to do the same for your brand. Contact us today for a one-hour consultation!

Categories Marketing, OperationsTags , , ,

Are There Benefits to Using a Fractional CMO?

Growing a business is exhilarating — but it is no easy task. Sheer enthusiasm and effort will only take you so far. It might help you get the ball rolling and raise a few rounds of funding, but there will inevitably come a time when your growth will stagnate. When that day comes, it will be in your best interest to surround yourself with proven experts who can help carry your brand to the next level.

This is especially true when it comes to marketing. To hit your next growth goals, you will need to bring in a seasoned marketing professional who knows how to develop an integrated strategy that effectively promotes your brand and converts people into customers. This requires experience in generating leads across multiple channels, managing people — and managing a P&L.

In other words, you need a brilliant chief marketing officer who understands what success looks like and knows how to deliver it. Unfortunately, finding this capable person is often easier said than done, especially for small to mid-size businesses.

The Path to Find the Right CMO

We have seen companies waste tons of time and money trying to recruit and hire full-time CMOs. It usually looks something like this:

    Turn to your personal network to see whether a friend (or a friend of a friend) is looking for a job. Most of the time, this approach will not yield top-tier talent — and it could easily present an awkward situation in which you jeopardize a friendship by telling someone, “Sorry, you are not the right fit for my company.”
    Post a job description, which leads to a deluge of résumés and cover letters. Sifting through them in search of someone with the right experience and attitude for your company is no short order — and that is assuming you or your hiring manager understand what the right CMO candidate even looks like.
    Hire a headhunter to do the dirty work for you. A headhunter will most likely speed the hiring process, but it is also a huge investment not in headhunting fees.

All of the above options could easily cost your company more time and money than it has to spare. From there, you still face several rounds of interviews and salary negotiations before you can potentially fill the position with a great candidate. Then you have time required to on-ramp the hire. It could take you up to a year to find the right fit, negotiate mutually beneficial terms, and incorporate the new hire into the fabric of your company.

Imagine if the hire does not work out. If your growing business is looking to improve its marketing results today, we strongly recommend you take a different route.

When to Consider a Fractional CMO

Fractional CMOs are basically on-demand executive-level marketers. Just like traditional CMOs, their ultimate goal is to supercharge your current marketing efforts, identify new opportunities for experimentation and growth, and provide mentorship to your in-house team.

However, there are two big differences between fractional CMOs and traditional CMOs: Fractional CMOs will cost you much less money, and they are equipped to have an immediate impact on your marketing ROI from day one.

Sure, you will be working with an “outsider” — but this outsider will lend an impartial eye to your company’s inner workings. We will make honest suggestions regarding your current tactics and strategies, provide input on future initiatives, and put a plan in place for follow-through. Just as importantly, a fractional CMO will put all the necessary metrics in place that illustrate your marketing ROI.

Last but not least, a fractional CMO can serve as a stopgap while you search for your future full-time CMO. He or she will ensure your company does not lose momentum as it takes the time it needs to find the perfect permanent hire. They can even help you weed out candidates who will not meet your needs during your search.

If your company is stuck in a rut and is struggling to accelerate its growth regardless of how much time, money, and effort you invest toward the cause, it is time to consider partnering with TBGA and hiring a fractional CMO. Our fractional CMOs are industry veterans who have embedded themselves in a wide variety of businesses across multiple industries. We know exactly what it takes to help companies like yours achieve their next growth goals.

Contact us today for a one-hour consultation to learn more about how our marketing veterans can accelerate your brand’s business growth.

Categories Marketing, OperationsTags , , ,

Why Your Marketing Partner’s Pedigree Matters

Hiring a marketing consultant or agency based on the power of a sales pitch is akin to hiring an airplane pilot based on how sharp his uniform looks. This limited amount of information provides you with little to no idea of whether this person can actually help your business soar. Unfortunately, too many small to mid-size companies hire marketing partners without first taking a close look at their credentials and pedigree.

In fact, quite a few of our current clients hired us to help them rebound from consultants who did not live up to their slick sales pitches. For example, before working with TBGA, one of our clients hired a senior marketing consultant who used his fun, personable attitude to win them over. Their entrepreneurial environment required a consultant who could establish metrics, set priorities based on ROI, push his priorities throughout the organization, and most importantly execute on the plan. He always seemed to be working hard, but in the end, it turned out that he was just spinning everyone’s wheels. There were no quantifiable results to speak of.

The consultant was in over his head. He was frustrated, the client was disappointed, and neither party walked away happy. Although we were grateful to have an opportunity to fix the resulting mess, we want you to get it right on the first try.

Pedigree Matters

Pedigree is not about any experience; it is about the right experience. You need to make sure a candidate’s experience will dovetail with your unique needs. Ivy League MBAs, previous jobs at blue chip companies, firm handshakes should never be the sole reason you hire a consultant.

If you do not know exactly what you need, you should hire a consultant who can help you identify them. When looking at a partners track record, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has this partner ever spearheaded the launch of a new business or product line?
  • Does this partner typically have access to a large budget, or is he or she an expert at maximizing minimal resources?
  • Has this partner ever built and led a marketing team, or do they typically work in isolation?
  • How do they measure success?

At the very least, your consultant should have experience working at companies that resemble your own, carrying out tasks similar to the ones you have in store, and delivering the real-life results you want to see.

Culture Is Also Important

When considering a marketing partner, look for a hands-on team of collaborators that do not simply give advice from the sidelines. This should begin at the inception of your relationship by setting clear objectives and diving in to build solutions that meet those objectives.

Your partners should constantly strive to be on the cutting edge — proactively seeking new research, new technology angles, and new information. They should utilize modern-day tools and tactics that will help us deliver the results you desire.

Our roster of marketing experts is deep and diverse. We provide more than a savvy sales pitch; we provide proven marketing expertise that will help accelerate your growth. If we do not meet your objectives, it is probably because we have exceeded them. If you are searching for a partner who is a passionate, determined problem solver with a proven track record of success, contact us today for a one-hour consultation.

Categories Marketing, OperationsTags , , ,

What Is a Fractional CMO?

When we say that we offer fractional CMO services, we are frequently met with some variation of the following question: “What does that mean?”

Then, after we define the term, we almost always hear this: “What a great idea! We did not know this was even an option.”

So what exactly is a fractional CMO?

Essentially, it is a senior-level marketer who embeds him- or herself into a company and drives its marketing results to the next level — either temporarily or on a part-time basis. This person comes equipped with a wealth of experience and knowledge, but unlike a traditional CMO, he or she does not come along with a high price tag or arduous hiring process.

Our fractional CMOs have proven track records. We have led marketing teams and sculpted marketing programs at Fortune 500 companies and startups alike. We do not work from hypotheticals; we know what works and what does not, and we apply these lessons and best practices to our clients beginning on day one.

Here are four misconceptions that surround fractional CMOs:

  1. “It is essential to have a full-time CMO.”  

    The CMO’s role is certainly essential, but it is not essential for this person to be a full-time member of your team. A part-time CMO can provide the strategy based on hands-on experience in order to steer junior marketers toward high-value programs and away from low-ROI ones. In the end, you increase your return on marketing spend and do not waste time on tactics that do not work.

    Even if your ultimate goal is to someday hire a full-time CMO, a fractional CMO can support your organization while you search for the best candidate. Given the amount of time and money it takes to find top-tier marketing executives, partnering with a TBGA fractional CMO is a great way to quickly leverage experienced leadership without sifting through hundreds of résumés or hiring a headhunter. In fact, he or she can help you vet candidates — all while managing your strategic marketing initiatives and mentoring your less experienced marketing professionals.

  2. “I am better off promoting an internal candidate.”

    Fractional CMOs can even train and mentor your up-and-coming internal candidates until they are ready to take on the CMO position — and they come in ready to contribute. Think about the amount of time, training, and resources it will take to transform junior team member into an experienced CMO. It could take months, even years.

    Beyond that, they possess a fresh, unbiased outsider’s perspective. They will not be bogged down by company politics and bureaucracy. Instead, they will feel free to point out flaws, voice concerns, and give honest feedback and suggestions that revolutionize your marketing function.

  3. “I would rather save money by hiring a junior person.”

    You get what you pay for. Most businesses have little to no margin for mistakes, and if you hire an inexperienced CMO to lead your team, you open the door to this very issue.

    Fractional CMOs bring a breadth of experience across different marketing systems, tactics, and corporate environments, they possess a big advantage over junior employees. As senior leaders, they already know how to manage teams and P&Ls — and quantify their impact.

  4. “We hired a great marketing agency, so we have it covered.”

    Agencies should be an extension of your marketing strategy — not drive it. Your team will need to provide the competitive landscape, target segmentation, buyer personas, and differentiation. Your CMO is also responsible for ensuring your marketing operations are running efficiently. Agencies are not equipped to dive deeply into a company’s internal operations and infrastructure, discover inefficiencies, and provide relevant solutions that move the needle.

    On the other hand, when you hire a fractional CMO, your company becomes his or her one and only priority. This person is ready and able to roll up his or her sleeves, investigate the inner workings of your marketing department and company as a whole, and offer tailor-made solutions that result in measurable benefits.

We hope that we have cleared up any uncertainty surrounding fractional CMOs and how they can help propel your marketing results. If you have any further hesitations or questions — or if you are interested in scheduling a one-hour consultation — please Contact us today!

Categories MarketingTags , ,

The CMO as Your Growth Partner

Ultimately, the people at the helm of your company make or break your organization’s strategic abilities.  If what makes a CEO shine is growth, then your CMO is your partner in crime. Their input will be essential to the broad challenges that you will face: competition, innovation, and core customers. Also, few have a better feel for the end-user/consumer pulse than the marketing executive – their relevant and refined perspective on customer preferences will play a vital role in your company’s growth.

In today’s economy, the CMO is at the crossroads of growth and customer experience. CMOs are increasingly seen as a director of growth and customers, rather than the director of spending and advertising, worldwide. The CMO role has changed from working exclusively on brand communication and messaging to driving impactful growth and cultural change. Marketers not only need to funnel customer intelligence into all parts of the business; they also need to keep up their technological proficiency, utilize big data to create meaningful customer interactions, and deliver value within a consistent brand experience.

While CMOs need to be part of the key decision making, they also need to partner closely with your CFO part of the key leadership.  It’s important that your CMO partners with chief financial officers to help them contribute to top-line growth and position themselves for a seat at the board table.  Together, they can steer the ship responsibly.

A strategic focus on return on investment, coupled with the rise of customer centricity and acquisition allows for CMOs to achieve measurable value within the organization. In fact, the CFO and CMO should be working hand in hand to increase accountability and reduce inefficiency — the CFO’s role is greatly enhanced by today’s savvy marketer as they are often the most resourceful person on your team.

Change the way you work with your CMO. Both CEOs and CFOs stand to gain tremendous insight at the ground level and meet the growing customer expectations. The role of the CFO is also becoming more multifaceted so work closely with your marketing person to help your organization survive and thrive in this increasingly competitive landscape.

How to tell a good CMO from a successful one? The latter has the ability to think long-term, adapt quickly, and pitch in with the team. They are able to shift from focusing on growth to a ‘big picture’ mentality. Thus, your CMO should not only influence decision-making but be able to make the tough calls, embrace uncertainty, and put relevant issues in front of the board to consider. This focus on vision makes a difference. Consider opening a conversation about bringing your CMO to the boardroom and see how they can deliver even more value as your strategic partner in crime.

Want to chat about this topic? I’m speaking at the NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco on Thursday, June 30th on Marketing through the Funding Lifecycle.

Categories Marketing, Operations, StrategyTags , , , , , ,

Best Marketing KPIs to Track Your Business Success

As marketing has become more advanced and targeted, it has also become increasingly important to understand the specific metrics with which effective marketing is measured. These metrics, more commonly known as KPIs (key performance indicators), are a powerful way to determine which marketing tactics and strategies are most effective. Used properly, they can dramatically improve your marketing tactics.

Digital marketing has quickly become the driving sector in the overall marketing industry. This is largely thanks to the fact that close to half of the world population, or about 3 billion people, now use the Internet on a regular basis. As a result, it should come as no surprise that many of the most important KPIs involve the Internet and digital marketing in one way or another.

While each business will have different KPIs, these are some of the most important marketing ones to pay attention to:

  1. Cost per lead
    Understanding how much it costs to acquire a lead is as important for a startup company as it is for a well-established corporation. If nothing else, understanding what makes the cost per lead increase (or preferably, decrease) can be a powerful marketing tool that improves profit margins. Beyond that, however, understanding what it costs to acquire a lead can be used as the basis for understanding whether or not a marketing campaign is a worthwhile investment or not.
  2. Ratio of leads to qualified leads
    One of the greatest advantages of digital marketing is the ability to highly target leads. In fact, if you are not targeting leads on a particularly granular scale, you are all but certainly wasting marketing resources in an inefficient marketing campaign. One of the best ways to determine whether your marketing campaign is appropriately targeted is by comparing the ratio of total leads to qualified leads, and ultimately the ratio of each of those metrics to an overall conversion rate. A small number of high-quality and highly-targeted leads are significantly better than a massive number of unqualified leads.
  3. Return on investment
    Return on investment, or ROI, is as important in marketing as it is in many other aspects of business. With marketing, ROI is used to determine which marketing tactics and strategies are most effective (as well as which ones are not), and can have a substantial impact on determining which marketing strategies will be used moving forward.  In the subscription world, you’ll pay closer attention to customer acquisition cost, or CAC.
  4. Customer lifetime value
    The lifetime value of a customer is a bedrock metric for any business, and it can help determine the marketing framework as well. Ultimately, understanding that the lifetime value of a customer is particularly high (for example) can help to justify the upfront costs of qualifying leads and then acquiring them. On the flip side, a low lifetime value might mean the marketing campaign needs to be as streamlined and bare-bones as possible. In the subscription world, you should be tracking the churn rate (or retention rate if you want to keep a positive mindset) and the average monthly revenue per customer to calculate LTV.
  5. Net Promoter Score (NPS)
    The Net Promoter Score is based on the theory that customers who are strong proponents of your company are highly valuable. These “loyal enthusiasts” are a powerful source of referral business, and can be a major factor in the long-term viability and health of a company.

    The NPS theory can basically be boiled down to this: customers who rate their overall experience with your company a “9” or “10” out of 10, are likely to be “promoters”, or customers who will dramatically improve a number of KPIs, including cost per lead (thanks to free referrals), lifetime value of a customer (thanks to loyal repeat customers), return on investment (again, thanks to the long-term value of customers), and numerous others.  While it might seem difficult to attain a 9 or 10, the reality is that anything lower (7-8 is considered “passive” and 0 to 6 is considered a “detractor” rating) will not be beneficial to one’s business.

The Net Promoter Score, along with the rest of the KPIs listed above, can and should be used to measure the strength or weakness of your marketing campaign. You can rest assured that your competitors are doing the same.

Categories Marketing, StrategyTags , , , , , , , , ,

Four Reasons Why Content Marketing Drives Traffic (and Revenue)

Many experts predict that 2015 will be a big year for content marketing. According to recent studies, more than half of content marketing budgets will be increased in 2015, and content marketing alone will be a $100 billion industry sometime in the near future.

There is no question that content marketing is increasingly being adopted and expanded across a wide range of industries and economic sectors. The real question is: why?

The bottom line is that content marketing has proven to be an effective way to drive both traffic and revenue to companies, often at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing efforts. The following are a few of the specific ways that content marketing can help drive both traffic and revenue to your company.

High-quality content is essential to getting ranked on Google

Over the years, Google has made constant updates to its search engine in an effort to serve better results to their users. One of the ways Google has accomplished this is by directly combating marketing firms that tried to “game” the search engine by simply “keyword stuffing” low-quality content. In the past, these low-quality articles could often find themselves at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), even though they were clearly not the best result for users. In response, Google has changed their algorithm to highly value quality of content over simply the right quantity of words.

These ongoing changes mean that it is increasingly important for marketers to produce high-quality content that provides useful and unique information. Doing so can mean the difference between being highly ranked on Google and not showing up at all.

Content marketing is a one-time cost that results in long-term benefits that aggregate

Content marketing is one of the most cost-effective methods for building web traffic and sales, when looking at the long-term. While it can take some time for the benefits of content marketing to really show themselves, it is important to remember two characteristics of content marketing:

  • Content written is paid for once, but the benefits essentially exist in perpetuity, as the content will remain on the Internet for a long as a company chooses to keep it there.
  • As the number of content pieces builds, a company can provide an increasingly comprehensive store of related information, which is valued both by a company’s target audience and by Google’s search algorithms.

Content is an effective way to convert traffic into revenue

Studies also increasingly show that Internet users (and particularly Millennials) do not like, and will not respond positively to the “hard sell”. Content marketing allows a company to position the benefits and rationale for a product or service in a non-threatening and non-aggressive way. At the same time, content can provide a powerful and convincing argument for an idea, product, or service without coming across as simply a sales tactic.

Content marketing is a great way to engage with your audience and build brand awareness

Content marketing is one of the best returns on investment in any marketing budget because the brand awareness it can help generate is long-lasting and comes at far less cost than more traditional paid advertising. At the same time, content marketing encourages an audience to engage with the company, and with each other, through a commenting system or on social media platforms.

At the end of the day, content marketing is popular because it is an effective way to reach your target audience in a friendly and engaging, yet also informative and persuasive way.

Sources

  • http://www.marketo.com/infographics/content-marketing-vs-traditional-advertising/
  • http://www.allocadia.com/cmo/marketing-spending-rise-focus-digital-social-content/
  • http://heidicohen.com/why-content-marketing-is-more-effective-than-digital-advertising-research/
Categories MarketingTags , , ,

Why Google Makes Content Marketing Better For Everyone

Google is perhaps the most well-known Internet company on the face of the Earth. It is by far the largest search engine in the world (by a large margin), and where a Web page ends up on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) can be the difference between success and failure. With such importance, it stands to reason that Google has an impact on a wide range of business aspects, including the content marketing industry.

Ongoing Evolution

Google’s search engine is constantly being updated, the most recent series of updates being known collectively as the “Penguin” updates. Google’s primary goal is keeping and growing its share of the search engine industry, particularly because Google’s search engine remains its primary revenue driver. This means that Google is in a constant battle with individuals and organizations that want to manipulate Google’s search engine algorithm to their benefit.

Google has constantly made updates and iterations to its algorithm with one primary goal in mind: improving the quality of search results. Over time, this has meant an increasing focus on high-quality, unique and lengthy content as opposed to generic content filled with the “perfect” cocktail of keywords.

These changes are a good thing for everyone (except those who were used to exploiting Google’s algorithm). Google benefits because it is able to provide a higher-quality experience for its users while the users themselves are able to find better content from their searches.

That being said, the question of companies that do not aim to “game” Google’s algorithm but simply want to generate traffic through Google searches should be considered, as well.

How Companies and Marketers Adapt

Back in 2013 and 2014, when Google made major changes to its algorithm, many companies were terrified to see that their website traffic dropped dramatically. It seemed like overnight, the number of hits their pages were receiving from Google cratered almost to nothing, and many were frantic to understand exactly how this could happen. As it turned out, many companies had trusted their Internet marketing strategies to companies that had simply posted low-quality, generic fluff on their clients’ websites while charging exorbitant premiums for the content. While this strategy had worked in the past, Google’s algorithms were updated to no longer allow this type of practice to be effective.

The digital marketing industry was forced to adapt. Those who were unwilling or unable to do so lost business (and ultimately went or will go out of business themselves) while those who were able to adjust to the new reality of “quality and quantity” were able to thrive. This, in turn, caused what could be called a renaissance in the content marketing industry.

Quality Is King

Content marketing in 2015 looks completely different than it did just a few short years ago. Today, content marketing is all about providing high-quality, unique, shareable content for readers. Instead of trying to game the system by keyword stuffing, content marketing is about providing real value.

It is worth noting that the ultimate goal of content marketing has remained largely unchanged. That is to say, content marketing is still about driving traffic and conversions for a company. However, the method for accomplishing that goal is now audience-focused instead of simply focused on how to manipulate Google’s search engine algorithms to artificially boost a website’s traffic and SERP ranking.

For companies willing to adjust to the new realities of content marketing, the future is certainly bright. The key is learning to evolve alongside Google’s constantly improved algorithms. While it might seem like a lot of work, it truly is a win-win for everyone involved.

Sources:
http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/
http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-gigantic-list-of-google-stats-and-facts/

Categories MarketingTags , , , , ,

Don’t #BeSomebody

An integrated approach is essential to every marketing strategy.  As the internet of things has grown, a marketer must consider how offline activities will affect online activities, and vice versa.  With marketing undergoing rapid and massive changes, it is inevitable that there will be the occasional high-profile slip-up.

One of the biggest risks that any campaign faces, particularly when targeting younger demographics, is the risk of coming across as tone-deaf or otherwise hypocritical. This is exactly what happened when an experienced and highly successful marketing professional, Kash Shaikh, launched his much-maligned “inspiration” company, #BeSomebody (yes, it’s a hashtag and the company name).

The idea behind #BeSomebody was fairly simple. Connect aspiring hobbyists or professionals in everything from piano playing to scuba diving with actual experts who can teach them how to be successful in those fields. In order to market their company, #BeSomebody had the fairly unique idea of conducting inspirational assemblies at high schools throughout Texas and (eventually) the rest of the United States.

Unfortunately for Kash Shaikh and #BeSomebody, their message fell on unbelieving ears when they conducted an assembly at Austin High. Instead of finding the assembly inspirational, the students felt like Mr. Shaikh was using his particularly privileged experience (in the form of an impressive resume, extensive travel, and ability to live with his parents well into his adulthood) to connect with high school students, many of whom had little to none of the privileges that Mr. Shaikh had available to him.

Ultimately, the students at Austin High launched a robust campaign of mockery, in which the hashtag #Lookadouche was used to disseminate parody videos and other derisive material.

While #BeSomebody ultimately had a fairly bad reaction to their marketing strategy, there is still a great deal that we can learn not only from what #BeSomebody did wrong, but what they did right as well.

What #BeSomebody did right

Despite the outcome, there is still a lot that can be learned about what #BeSomebody did well. For starters, they used a very creative marketing tool – high school assemblies – to reach their target market. If their message had gone over well, this would have proven to be an incredibly cost-effective way to build an audience for their app and their company. Additionally, #BeSomebody was able to execute a plan using a very small team and utilizing very little overhead.

What #BeSomebody did wrong

Clearly, #BeSomebody made mistakes in the execution of their marketing plan. Perhaps the most egregious mistake they made was failing to test properly their message before going out to schools such as Austin High. If they had tested their message in a smaller, more focused setting, they probably would have found that their message came across as out of touch and hypocritical, and could have adjusted it (or scrapped it altogether).

The other misstep that #BeSomebody made was their reaction after the mocking campaign from the students at Austin High. Instead of taking the message in stride, Kash Shaikh acted fairly petulant, mocking everything from grammatical mistakes to the overall reaction of the students, including claims that the students simply lacked the proper passion and motivation. Clearly, this was not the right approach to take, which was proven by the fact that Mr. Shaikh later went on to apologize and thank Austin High for their “tough love”.

#BeSomebody could have even turned this situation around.  The company could have accepted the criticism and positively engaged in the conversation.  In 2005, a journalist created a blog called Dell Hell that chronicled the horrible customer service that he experienced.  Dell Hell caught fire, and many unhappy customers jumped on board.  However, Dell turned lemons into lemonade.  A couple of takeaways from the event include:

Real conversations are two-way.
Think before you talk—but always be yourself.
Don’t be afraid to apologize.

These were a lesson the Dell learned in 2007, and it is just as powerful today.

At the end of the day, #BeSomebody is a lesson in testing one’s message and ensuring that the message actually resonates with the target audience. While they did make mistakes, #BeSomebody has a great team of creative and marketing experts. Whether or not #BeSomebody ultimately turns out to be a successful company, the team will find success one way or another. That being said, we should all look closely at what they did wrong and right, so we can avoid, or replicate, where appropriate.

Sources:
http://customerthink.com/you_can_learn_dell_hell_dell_did/
http://www.texasmonthly.com/daily-post/austin-tech-bros-besomebody-are-losing-fight-they-picked-against-local-high-school
http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-31754918

Categories MarketingTags , , ,