Make an Impact Today

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There is a good way and a bad way to become more productive.

The bad way is to become a box checker. The box checker makes a long to-do list just so they can cross things off the list. It feels good, the act of checking a box. So they maximize that feeling by creating a slew of low level, pointless tasks that they do each and every day. And at the end of the day, when it comes time to sign off and go home, they can rest easy knowing how many “tasks” they completed. They feel productive.

The good way is slightly different. There may still be a long to-do list. But the things at the top of that list are value tasks. These are priorities, both for the individual and for the company. They recognize that these tasks may not be things that can be completed in one sitting, one day, or one week. They may not even be things that can be completed by one person.

But the crucial difference is, when these tasks are completed, they add value to the business. They add an immediate impact to the organization.

These are the tasks that get people promoted, that get teams noticed, and that get individuals raises.

Each and every day, you have a chance to make an impact on your company. Don’t squander it checking boxes. Instead, be deliberate about how you spend your time.

How?

  1. Prioritize your workload, putting those items first that will have the greatest impact

  2. Divide large tasks into smaller sub-tasks and set milestones

  3. Block out time on your calendar to work on those tasks and advance them as far as you can

  4. Set reminders for team members whose input or assistance you need and stay on top of them

  5. Automate or delegate items that don’t add impact, but that must be done anyway

When you focus your efforts on adding value, your company benefits. When your company benefits from the things you are doing, you get noticed. When you make an impact every day, you become indispensable.

Best Algorithm Wins

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The age of AI is upon us. As marketers, we must embrace it. If we do, and if we can find the opportunities to use artificial intelligence to our company’s advantage, there will be nothing but success in our future.

Those who don’t, those who fight back against the changing tide, who insist on doing things the old way, are going to quickly find themselves out of a job. They will be passed over for promotions, will lose existing responsibilities to machines and those who realize their power, and will either go down with the sinking ship that is their company or will be shown the door as their company moves into the future without them.

It’s no longer a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN. How soon will the algorithms come for your job? Or, put in a more optimistic way, how soon will the algorithms make you better at your job?

First Mover Advantage and AI

The algorithms that will help us become better marketers will help us in a number of ways – from targeting new users to optimizing our offers and pricing. But regardless of what they will do for us, there is one thing that bonds them all. They need data to function. They need data to learn, to grow, and to succeed. That is why there is such a large first-mover advantage in AI.

Those companies with the greatest capabilities at the end of the day will be the ones that are investing in those capabilities right now. If you come late to the party, you may be permanently at a disadvantage. That is because your competitors will have better algorithms than you do, trained on more data, over a longer period of time.

When We All Have AI

When all companies in a place are using artificial intelligence to their advantage, it becomes a question of whose algorithm is best. And there are a number of factors that will come into play:

  • Who has the larger data set?

  • Whose algorithm has been around longer?

  • Who has trained out the initial bugs best?

These are still early days of implementation of machine learning and other technologies in the marketing space. It’s not too late to claim that first-mover advantage.

But what should you do now to set your company up for success in the future?

How to Move Your Company Forward with AI

There are a number of things you can do today that will help your company succeed in an AI-driven future:

  1. Do your research. Find out what other companies are already doing. Talk to experts, attend conferences, and network. There is a lot to learn, and people will spend their whole lives learning the intricacies of this new science. So don’t expect to pick it all up or become an expert overnight. But you can become the go-to source for information and innovation in your organization.

  2. Make the case. Once you have a basic understanding of how companies are going to be using these new technologies to improve their marketing, it’s time to loop in the decision makers. To get them on board, give them real-life examples. How will your company save money? Grow revenue?

  3. Partner with early-adopters. There are a lot of big companies out there that are already making gains with these new technologies, and they are willing to collaborate if it makes good business sense. A great way to get started is to take advantage of the tools that these first-movers produce, and partner with them to expand your own capabilities.

5 Ways to Tell Your Brand’s Stories on Social Media

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The following is a guest post by Al Gomez. Al is a digital marketing consultant. He is the President of Dlinkers, and he specializes in SEO, PPC, & web development since 2008. Al has over 10 years’ client digital marketing experience and has helped businesses such as Dr. Berg, Patexia, Panel Wall Art, the Ritz Carlton, and countless others use the web to drive online visibility and generate leads.

Storytelling on social media is all the rage nowadays…

As consumers and target audiences trust sales pitches and product descriptions less and less, there is a greater need for brands to up the ante when it comes to engagement. Technology has evolved so much that interacting with brands have never been easier. But horrible experiences also abound. (Need I mention what they are?)

There is a solution to this kind of predicament, and it comes in the form of storytelling.

Storytelling and Human Nature

We’ll discuss storytelling and psychology in just a minute…

But first, and foremost, let me ask this question.

As a child, how fond of storytelling were you? In any shape, method, or form, any child would have been fascinated with the stories that they heard (or read; or seen). And even as an adult, that love for hearing stories hasn’t diminished. Although it’s morphed into a different form, the affinity that we have for hearing an introduction, a climax, and a resolution hasn’t changed at all.

Now, let’s step back from the modern era for a bit…

Imagine how people of the old days lived their lives. Without technology, how did people entertain themselves?

They played games, listened to music, and yes, they told stories. Lots of them.

In the words of Psychology Today's Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D., M.B.A., "Our brains still respond to content by looking for the story to make sense out of the experience. No matter what the technology, the meaning starts in the brain."

Why, you might ask? Simply put, stories are the perfect example of authentic human experiences.

Stories are so powerful because:

  • It is a form of communication. It's very primitive, and yet, it has transcended the generations.

  • Stories represent a larger self and universal truths.

  • They are all about connection and collaboration.

  • Stories are how people think. It's how we make sense of life, isn't it?

  • It's how, we, as humans are wired.

  • ●       They trigger our imagination by engaging the right brain.

Is it such a big wonder why a lot of brands take to storytelling on social media?

Storytelling Formats on Social Media

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Thanks to technology evolving above more than what we had hoped for, brands and marketers no longer have an excuse to create stories that are bland and unappealing…

There are so many methods to tell stories nowadays, that it’s just up to us to delve deeper and come up with creative methods to indulge our viewers and audiences in our storytelling.

Besides technology (ranging from smartphones to virtual reality headsets), the number of platforms to share these stories have also increased in number (from print to stories on search engines to ones on social media networks).

Telling your brand’s stories on social media can be done through:

  • Videos: It’s how people prefer to consume content nowadays.

  • Images: A nod to visual content once again.

  • Posts: Something motivational or inspirational. Even captions do excellent work and pack a punch when combined with visual content.

  • Podcasts: Audio appeal, and a good way for people to entertain themselves while doing other things.

How to Tell Your Brand’s Stories on Social Media

The formats and the method of distributing your compelling stories matter, of course. But none are as important as the message you wish to convey to your target audience. What do you want your target audience to know? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do afterwards?

To evoke certain responses from your chosen audience, here are five methods to tell your brand’s stories on social media.

#1 Show real people

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In today's mode of storytelling, it's best to show real people working behind the company -- not just the brand logo or the company name (though that’s important too). From the first to the last link of the business.

Showing what goes on behind-the-scenes is no longer breakthrough news -- by any means. But showing what happens within the company walls, and how products are made -- or how services operate conveys more than authenticity. It fosters transparency and honesty.

Do you know how you can make it even better?

You can spice up your storytelling by letting members of team tell a story from their point-of-view. That's how you show different perspectives, and display your brand in a bright light, at the same time.

With full discretion, don't hesitate to show the big life-changing events happening in your company. From something as simple as an office renovation to events as grand as a product launch.

Tell your audience all about it!

#2 Uncover Your Origins

Another classic method of doing your storytelling -- or a good material you should use, is your company's complete background information. History isn't always the most interesting to a lot of people. But in this case, it's safe to say that it's an exception.

It's especially beneficial if your brand has been around a while, and it's been gradually gaining a lot of engagement. That's a perfect time to share company history with an audience who's interested in learning the company's beginnings.

Company histories are authenticity and encouragement rolled into one. It's you telling your audience that reaching your dreams is perfectly possible.

It's the business version of a Disney fairytale…

#3 Encourage User-generated Content

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Do you know what's more valuable and engaging than your own stories? Your audiences'.

User-generated content comes in three different forms:

  • Customer feedback: That's the most common type of user-generated content. It fosters engagement as your customers ask questions and get answers in return -- either from you or your other clients.

  • Reviews and ratings: These are more straightforward. And they come in either positive or negative. Numerous studies show that peer reviews go a very long way to up your business' credibility.

  • Pictures and screenshots: Pictures for B2C; screenshots for B2B. Image-proof goes a long way and is as powerful as the first two UGCs mentioned. It complements the other two, and adds another level of trust and transparency to the brand.

Encouraging and magnifying user-generated content tells a story all its own. And the best part? It's a story from your customers or clients that tells others how they feel about your business and your product; how they see it, and how they interpret the message that your business advocates.

#4 Highlight Your Corporate Social Responsibility or Advocacy

There's a thin line between tooting your own horn to look good, and sharing company resources with others while genuinely caring for the people and living things who need special assistance. When you're involved in doing social responsibilities, tell your audience about it.

Only do it, however, if you truly do care about a particular cause. Don't do it for the wrong reasons...

However, showing your target audience and the world that you have a stand on a particular issue shows everyone that you have values and advocacy that you uphold. Consequently, it’s a message that reflects in the products that you sell as well.

#5 Get Meme-ing

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There's an underdog among social media marketing methods. I won't ask people to hazard a guess, because I'll come right out and say it anyway...

Ladies and gents, we are living in an age of memes -- the most popular form of expression online and an integral part of pop culture. We'd be fools to ignore this marketing tactic any longer.

There's no long list of reasons for companies to start using memes. In fact, there's probably only two that will sum it up completely.

First, and foremost, memes fit seamlessly into social media platforms so well. They spread like a wildfire -- as a result. Second, humans these days are characterized with short attention spans. A meme's upfront nature makes it the perfect medium for quick consumption.

Memes are like inside jokes everybody wants to be in on. Why is it so popular among brands? The answer is simple; because they drive traffic and engage the target audiences simultaneously.

Make references to popular culture (The Avengers, ridiculous social issues, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, music stars, etc.) tastefully and tactfully, and you'll be surprised at how much people like it -- as long as its really funny and it's something everybody relates to, of course...

There's also inside memes. Jokes that revolve around your niche are a good way to catch your audience's attention.

Just Take It from Influencers

And when you go back to the root of it all, just take the time to learn from the experts of social media influencing and the basics of marketing…

A lot of mega influencers know how to play their marketing games, and how to engage the audience so flawlessly.

  • By 2019, there will approximately be 2.77 billion social media users worldwide.

  • 84% of consumers make purchases after reading about it (Scrunch).

  • 83% of consumers trust peer recommendations over branded advertising (Nielsen).

They’re not exactly influencers for nothing!

What kind of story do they tell, you ask?

They tell stories of their lives with every social media post. With every life update… In every vlog they do, they tell stories. In some cases, they even stir up drama. And what does the internet do? It consumes it and everybody participates.

I’m not saying you should start a brand scandal or drag an opposing brand to start drama to generate engagement and attention.

The main point I want to drive home is the importance of storytelling…

In Conclusion

Telling your brand's stories on social media is commonplace, and it's everywhere! Storytelling is that kind of entertainment format that hasn't diminished in quality (only increased). Moreover, it's transcended time, and will continued to do so in the generations to come.

A lot of brands nowadays understand that a lot, and everyone is called to constantly adapt. So what's the key?

For 2019 and beyond, storytelling on social networks is the thing. And doing it effectively comes with audience research, creativity, and clever strategizing.

Does Everyone on Your Team Know the Goals?

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Transparency in business leadership is critical. When leaders are transparent, they build trust and credibility. Their teams generally have a more favorable view of them, as well as the company as a whole.

Transparency encourages open communication, problem solving, and respect. These are the foundations of a strong company culture.

What Happens When We Fail to Be Transparent

Still, many companies and managers struggle with transparency. They will point out the potential pitfalls with too much transparency.

What happens when you have to make difficult or unpopular decisions? What happens when ethical or regulatory questions arise? What happens when confidential insider information gets leaked to the press or to our competitors?

While it is true that some secrecy is required at the highest levels of an organization, the more transparent we can be, the better. And that’s not just a matter of culture. It’s a matter of performance.

Study after study has shown that healthier company cultures lead to stronger company performance. And when management is open and honest with their employees, they give them the tools to succeed.

Share the Goals

In most companies, you get a kind of goal pyramid. There are overall goals at the very top – revenue growth, profitability, etc. – that are driven in turn by shorter-term goals that vary from department to department. Marketing goals, sales goals, financial goals, hiring goals, product goals, and more. They all build on each other and successfully hitting all the individual goals should lead to the company hitting those top level goals we started with.

You count on your team to help meet the goals of your department. But do you share with them what those goals are? And if you do, do you also share with them the larger goals for the company?

In the spirit of transparency, we should all strive to share all the goals the company is aiming for. Our teams deserve to know how the work that is expected of them is going to help the company achieve its goals.

This kind of openness encourages feedback, incentivizes performance, and adds meaning to each and every role throughout the organization. When your team members all know the goals, they can do their part to help reach them. Otherwise they are just checking boxes as part of some vague mission that does not involve them.

Conclusion

Be open and honest with your team and you will drive better performance.

Use Google Analytics to Optimize Advertising Spend

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When you think of Google Analytics, what do you think of?

You might think of website metrics, like visits and users. You might think of website usability – bounce rates and time on site. You might even think of goal tracking – transactions and revenue.

Google Analytics does all of that, and more. Which is why it is such a great tool for marketers at companies large and small.

However, most marketers don’t think of Google Analytics as a tool to help you optimize your advertising spend. But it can do that too.

How to Optimize Your Ad Spend with Google Analytics

First, did you know that you can import cost data into your Google Analytics account? You can link your Google Ads account so that all of that data gets pulled in automatically, and then use this article to learn how to add all your other ad spend.

Once you have cost data included in Google Analytics, you can use various ‘Acquisition’ reports to dig into the performance of all your advertising channels. From paid social campaigns like Facebook and Instagram ads, to search ads on Google and Bing, to email marketing and display – you can learn more about how visitors behave on your site when they come through one of these paid channels.

You can see the number of sessions, and calculate the cost for every new visitor to your site. You can see where they go on your site, and how long they stick around. And you can see transactions, including conversion rate, revenue, and cost per transaction. In that way, you can even calculate your return on ad spend (ROAS) for each campaign – that is, how much money is this campaign delivering in revenue for every dollar you spend in advertising.

At this point, you will have a better idea which channels are working and which are not. And you can optimize your budget to spend more in those that are working, and press pause on the campaigns that are not.

But that’s not all.

Take things one step further and learn how to improve performance within each individual campaign with audiences and segments. You can identify specific behaviors in each of these visitor groups (based on the traffic source or campaign) that will help you create better onsite experiences.

Looking at landing pages, bounce rates, conversion funnels, and ecommerce data, you can collect vast amounts of data points to help you better understand how people are interacting with your site. Find the gaps, and work on improving the overall conversion process – whether its for that single campaign or all of the above.

This conversion rate optimization work – that springs from observing traffic patterns and user behavior in Google Analytics – will help you optimize your advertising efforts even further, by improving the ROAS across the board. If you get more conversions for each dollar spent, your ROAS goes up. That means greater marketing contributions and a happy boss.