Data-Driven Marketing is the New Black

The digital landscape is constantly evolving and progressing the role of marketers as it continues to grow. Yesterday’s marketer spent time trying to develop solutions to attract their perceived audience; tomorrow’s marketer is spending time interpreting data and transforming analytics into insight.

Digital achievement can be found at the corner of online marketing and business intelligence (BI), which is where professionals are looking for prime real estate and moving.

Currently, many companies focus on one aspect but lack the other. The companies that do focus on both aspects silo them away from each other, with marketing in one department and BI in another. Though this made sense, because in the past they did not work closely together, with more access to big data and analytical tools that make data more easily interpretable, companies need to unite them together.

The data-driven marketing economy (DDME) is definitely impacting the business world, the digital realm to be more specific. It’s not in the far off future, it’s happening here and now. Skills in digital analytics, data-driven marketing and predictive analytics are crucial in order to survive and thrive.

As this trend continues, and data becomes more available, the best digital marketer will be the one with knowledge and passion for marketing, as well as technical and analytical skills.

Marketing isn’t about working from the gut anymore; it’s about interpreting and working from the numbers. Intuition is important, but, if it’s based on experiences before there was an emphasis on analytic tools and data, doesn’t it make sense to shift to more knowledge-based marketing? We shouldn’t have gut feelings based on this kind of intuition anymore, in this data-driven world we should have feelings based on analytics and insight.

Data breed’s valuable business knowledge, which can be a catalyst for overall achievement, with this said data alone doesn’t equal stronger decisions and success. Data is fundamental material that, when mixed with accurate marketing and BI, will help to create success.

In the end, it’s worth it to invest in data. No question. If digital marketing were a bedtime story, data would be the breadcrumbs. Don’t you want to find your way to a happily ever after?


Web Analytics in the Current Business World

As more and more businesses learn the importance of having an online presence and use multiple tools on the internet to meet and exceed goals, web analytics become a must.

Imagine that you own a store and instead of collecting data on your consumers and selling performance, you pay no attention. How long do you think you’d be in business? What would you blame poor revenue on?

This is how many businesses exist online that do not take into consideration multiple facets of web analytics.

Now imagine that you own a store and record total consumers per day, how long they spend browsing, how many items are purchased, and which aisles receive the most/least purchases. How long do you think you’d be in business? Would you have a better idea of where revenue comes from?

This is how a successful business exists online.

By using web analytics, you will learn:

  • Where your traffic comes from
  • How long prospects spend on your website
  • Which pages receive the most attention
  • Which pages receive the least attention
  • And, best of all, how to optimize your site and future marketing strategies to exceed your current goals.

Having an online presence is important in the current business world, but collecting data and analyzing metrics is crucial.

What web analytics tools do you currently use? What strategies have you found to be the most successful when linking metrics with trends?

Happy tracking!


Four Things that The Beatles taught us about Content Marketing

When thinking about content marketing, many only think about companies and brands using the tool to attract customers. What most of us don’t think of is the fact that it transcends branding in the business industry and the tactic can actually be found in both the movie and music industries as well.The Beatles

In the ‘60s, four young chaps from Liverpool were on top of both industries. The Beatles were taking the world by storm with their abundance of hits as well as their financially successful movies, A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, which featured many of the popular tracks from their records of the same names.

Now that we are in the digital age and content marketing has become such a powerful tool, it is important that we learn from those who came before us to use similar strategies. It is no question that we can learn a lot from the greatest band of all time; here are four things that John, Paul, George and Ringo have taught us about content marketing.

1.    You-centered

  • It is no secret that the Fab 4 were extremely beloved by their fans. Aside from their style of fashion, lack-there-of-grooming and silly yet charming personalities, the band was able to do this by focusing their music on the listeners. Of their entire collection of music, around 44 titles of tracks included the word ‘You’ or ‘Your’. Creating music that is you-centered is important to connect with fans, and this is also true for branded content. By focusing on your fan-base, or target audience, you will have much more success when trying to connect.

2.    Reuse and Syndicate

  • Before The Beatles were famous in the United States, they had already built up a large amount of hits in England. This served as a very powerful tactic as they were able to release older songs as well as newer ones, making it seem as if they were putting out hits quicker than any band before. When creating content, it is important that you create a syndication strategy to continually spread your work through many channels. To do this most effectively, you must study the analytics of previous content to gauge the best times and channels to do so.

3.    Breaking up isn’t bad

  • Though the band was only together for a decade, each member was able to have a successful solo career. Not only did they continue to create music, but also were able to grow in different directions and attract different kinds of fans. Working on content as a team can be useful but sometimes working separately allows new ideas to flow. When your content team hits a roadblock, or is having difficulty on agreeing on a similar direction, let each member go their own way and you may be able to capture a new audience that you never would have with everyone working together.

 4.    Start a Revolution

  • Other than actually having a song entitled ‘Revolution’, The Beatles are known to have been the band that changed the game and took the world by storm with their movement. Other than The Beatles Fanspolitically, they also changed the music game by changing average fans into musical fiends. You’ve seen the videos of fans when the band hit the stage; why not create the same craziness with your content? Some ways to do this involve creating fun videos instead of just words, engaging with users uniquely on social networks or even offering promotion through free giveaways!

When you think that your content marketing has reached its maximum potential or perhaps is not having the affect that you want it to, recall the band that changed everything and their tactics of doing so. In the words of the Fab 4, “It’s getting better all the time!”


Content Marketing: 5 Tactics You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

We’ve all heard that content is king, but it wasn’t until certain aspects of marketing grew further into the digital realm that it finally took the throne. As brands have grown closer to consumers through social interactions, delivering branded content has become vital. Though most content marketers take similar steps, the problem is that not everyone is doing it right.

Build, Inspire, EngageCultivating and creating content builds loyalty by developing awareness, forming inspiration and producing engagement with consumers. To do this effectively, you must implement the following five tactics into your content marketing strategy.

1. Analyze; don’t Research

Everyone conducts research before creating content, but it lacks many aspects that you will need to ultimately be successful. Content development is resource concentrated, and by analyzing the results of previously written content you will learn much more than you will by simply researching topics. Analyzing results will allow you to realize what readers like, but more importantly, what readers dislike.

Think about it, when billboards are constructed they are not just placed along the most beautiful roads and scenic routes. They are built along the roads that receive the most traffic, and the same can be said about digital content. It is important to gain insight through result analytics; discovering what content receives the most likes, shares and even comments will assist you more than just researching which topics are most prevalently written about.

2. Unique isn’t Enough Anymore

Though your content should be unique, that is not quite enough. Unique means rare and matchless, but it does not mean desirable. As content continues to flood and overflow the digital realm, it is important to be different, but much more important to be something that rises above and stands out because it is desired by your readers.

Content providers spend too much time trying to rewrite popular topics from their own perspective and too little time thinking from the perspective of their target audience. You are using your skills and experience to form an idea but, in the end, you want the product to be something that encourages your reader, not just yourself. It builds influence, but only if it motivates the reader to be inspired. It is not an easy task to create something that persuades, but forming such an emotion is the only way that content is ultimately an effective digital marketing tool.

3. Content is More than just Words

When it comes to writing content, the words are the easy part but not what will initially gain the attention of your reader. We’ve all heard the cliché that a picture is worth 1,000 words, but it has never been more significantly true than it is to cultivating and creating branded content that is sought after.

Developing a Digital Marketing StrategyFor example, any book that you have ever read has been because of three things:

  • Your professor told you it was going to be on the final exam,
  • It was recommended by a friend that had already read it, or
  • The front cover image grabbed you by peaking your interest.

Words take on similar meanings to everyone, but an image can form different meanings, which are usually based on an individual’s life, beliefs and experiences. As consumers become smarter, many realize that the majority of images are paid stock images or overused creative commons pictures from large sites such as Flickr or even Google Images. Instead of just using these images, we have reached a technological point where it is easy for us to create our own images. We are the ones doing the work, so why is it that we are not the ones shown at the desks signing documents or smiling in boardrooms with executives? Pictures lead to higher CTRs and are very useful for content syndication, and by using unique images we can begin to build better and more influential followings. In fact, I created both of the images included in this article!

4. Don’t Phone in the Call to Action

Even though the term may point to it, it is very important that you never phone in the call to action. The main reason that we include CTAs is to continue the conversation by challenging readers to think more deeply about topics. To truly create engagement, which is one of the most critical marketing aspects of content, you must ensure that your CTA is relatable to your reader and that you genuinely care about their contribution to the conversation.

Many content developers just slap together a question or two and link to a page on their company website or even an email form. Backlinking is important, as it brings interested readers to additional information, but you must not be insincere in this step. Not only is this the perfect place to learn which readers are most interested, but it is also a great way to develop insight about your target audience. Ask a question that you do not know the answer to, or that would actually be beneficial to know. Give them a reason to want to have a deeper connection and nurture this as if they are already a paying customer.

5. Always Share and Engage Responsibly, my friends!

Every good content marketer knows that publishing is not the end of the process. In fact, in many ways it is only the beginning. The reason that content is such a powerful marketing tool is because it gives your target audience insight into your brand and allows them to develop a unique connection that they may have never been able to do before. After forming and perfecting your content, it is natural to want to share it across all social platforms, but it is very important that you think first!

To garner the best reactions, don’t flood every network, because each social platform has different qualities, audiences and are used for completely different purposes. Instead of flooding, let it rain where there is actually opportunity for growth. Engagement is a part of lead nurturing, and you wouldn’t want the same message to be sent to customers that are speaking different languages. A new female boutique wishing to gain more awareness of their new clothing line will not receive the same reactions from Twitter or Google+ as they will from Pinterest, or even Facebook. If you are planning to syndicate your content across multiple platforms, it is crucial that you reformat your message to speak to the different audiences.

There is no question that content marketing in the digital realm is becoming one of the largest tools for success. According to Hubspot, branded content generates 55% more website visits and according to a 2013 research report conducted by Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B marketers are using content marketing strategies. The overall success of your content will be determined by your ability to utilize these tactics.

What tactics have you found to be the most effective when reaching your audience through content? Do you think that implementing these into your current marketing strategy could help you further do so?


How Social Media Is Reshaping the Landscape of Music

There is no question that social media has brought fans closer to their favorite recording artists – Facebook lets users like artists and Twitter lets users follow and even communicate with them – but now it is even reshaping the landscape of music. Not only are social networks allowing musicians to bring fans closer to their lives, artists are even using social platforms to promote and distribute their music.

Spotify, the largest and fastest growing social network for music, has made great strides to add services to create a better user experience. Other than being able to listen to a large library of songs, including new release albums, users can follow artists and, as of recently, listen to the music that they are currently listening to. Musicians build playlists of their favorite songs, much like users, and their fans are able to listen along and are updated when new songs are added.

In a recent campaign, Spotify invited users to stream “Wish You Were Here”, the first Pink Floyd track on the network, one million times to unlock their full catalogue of music. The campaign was so strong that the full catalogue, including their multi-platinum albums The Dark Side of The Moon and The Wall, was released in less than four days.

Pandora, another social music powerhouse, is also taking part in creating a unique user experience. With the release of their new service, Pandora Premiers, users are able to listen to full-length albums weeks before they are released. Not only is this taking music discovery to another level, but it is also allowing users to sample new music to assist in the decision of whether or not they will purchase upon release. The new service allows for repeated listens of tracks in any order, which has never been offered by the platform before.

Myspace, the recently re-launched social network, has a focus on music and plans to revolutionize the way that music is discovered and experienced. Owned by Justin Timberlake, musician turned businessman, the platform is being reintroduced through a 20 million dollar campaign including commercial spots with some of the current top artists who are already using the social network. Fans are able to listen and follow their favorite artists in a whole new way and musicians are able to get closer to their current fan base and even introduce their music to new ones.

Not only have musicians joined social platforms to reshape the landscape of music, but artists are also starting their own movement to do it themselves. Hip-Hop giant turned entrepreneur and business mogul, Jay-Z, is taking the world of music by storm by offering his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, for free to select fans. Users of such Samsung phones as the Galaxy S4, S III and Note II are encouraged to download his app, JAY Z MAGNA CARTA, and the first one million to download a copy of the album on July 4th will get it for free. Unfortunately, because it is unprecedented, these copies will not be considered in first week sales, but there is no question that this movement will change the way that music is experienced and distributed.

Will more artists use similar Spotify campaigns as Pink Floyd? Justin Timberlake brought ‘sexy’ back, but will he be able to bring Myspace back? Do you think that other artists will duplicate Jay-Z’s music distribution movement? Whether you answer yes or no to these questions, it is obvious that the music industry is constantly evolving and being changed by social media.


Takeaways from Today’s Facebook Announcement: The New Product

If you are anything like me, then you have been following everything leading up to today’s Facebook announcement with great anticipation to find out what Zuckerberg has up his sleeve. Attendees of the event, held at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, received a unique invitation that said ‘A small team has been working on a big idea. Join us for coffee and learn more about a new product’ which only built the mystery up even more. Though there were many speculations of what new product would be revealed, we now know!

“Today we’re finally going to talk about that Facebook phone,” Mark Zuckerberg announced. Over the past few years there has been a lot of talk about the social powerhouse creating its own mobile device, and now that light has been shed on the new product, we have a better understanding of how this will be rolling out.

Zuckerberg put to rest all of the rumors that his company would be creating the actual hardware, and instead spoke about how their software will be coupled with Android based phones. After the initial announcement of the new product, he said, “…more accurately, we’re going to talk about how you can turn your Android phone into a great social device.” If you are an IPhone user like me, this was a bit of a turnoff. Nonetheless, usually when something becomes popular on one system it will be added to others eventually.

Regarding the integration of the Facebook software, he discussed how social updates will appear on the home screen, which he refers to as ‘the soul of your phone’. “You look at it about 100 times a day,” he continued, “It sets the tone for your own experience and we think that it should be deeply personal.” Updates from the network will flow on the screen of these devices, even while locked. This can be an exciting feature for those of you who, like me, love to stay connected.

Also, the ‘chat heads’ that we have all become accustomed to from the updated app will appear on the top of the phones, even when the Facebook app itself is not opened. This will allow users to continue conversations outside of the social network and while doing anything else on their mobile devices.

As many others may start to think how this will be different than current mobile features, the same questions emerge in my head. Why are people going to want this software when there are already so many similar features that can be done with the free app? Does it really matter if they are on the home screen or run while they are not logged on?

To me, in many ways, this software seems to be the first steps towards Facebook integrating with people outside of the digital realm. It is no secret that Zuckerberg has been making strides to be involved with people’s lives outside of the social network, and this seems to be a strategy of expanding and venturing into new territory. They definitely want to have an impact on the physical realm, in order to connect user attitudes and behaviors with their real world interactions, and this appears to be their way of doing so.

The HTC First will be the first phone to be preloaded with this new product, and speculations of the next device have already begun. Being that Zuckerberg arrived at the announcement after meeting with Samsung’s head of mobile and co-CEO in South Korea, this could point towards the next devices to harness it. 

Whether or not this product will be successful or go the way of many past flops by the company will depend upon the future user behaviors and attitudes towards it. Regardless, it is obvious to me that Facebook is making strides to be a part of the lives of people even when they are not logged in.


Collaboration of SEO and Content will lead to a Quality Internet

The behavior of Internet users has changed, which makes the evolution of how content is searched and ultimately presented inevitable. The questions that you have been wondering are how and when this will happen. Though the answer to the first question is more difficult to explain, the answer to the second is simple – now.

To understand the need for collaboration between SEO and content marketing, you must recall why these are important tools in the first place. In his eBook, “Why Search Engine Optimization is Dying and the 21 New Rules of Content Marketing for 2013 and Beyond”, Randy Milanovic, Principle at KAYAK Online Marketing, discusses the impacts and failures of SEO. In reference to the conception of search optimization, Milanovic writes:


“Although most of us take Google and the other search engines for granted now, take a moment and consider why it is they even exist at all: because the Internet is too big, and growing too quickly, for people to always have a good idea of what it is they are searching for.”


The purpose of search optimization is to create a better user experience, which is exactly the reason that a change must occur. SEO has always taken a quantitative approach, rather than a qualitative one, which has led to content and sites with poor quality links and stuffed keywords to be ranked higher than others. For a while this was acceptable and bad SEO practices were tolerated, but as of recently this is completely changing.

 With the increase in social and mobile use, the behavior of Internet users has changed from wanting as much information as possible to wanting the best information rapidly. Because of this, content marketing began to be recognized as a necessity and rose to the throne. As much as it is used, and mostly used incorrectly, I must admit – content is king. This is not to say that SEO is no longer important. The fact is that great content is only powerful if it is findable, making search optimization, in terms of the digital realm, queen. 

This behavioral change in users has not only impacted the way that businesses optimize their content for search, but also the way that search is conducted itself. With importance being focused on the quality of content, rather than quantity, Google has altered their search algorithmMatt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, announced that the new algorithm, Penguin 2.0, has rolled out.

This updated algorithm will do a better job of removing spam links and will lead to more sophisticated links. There will also be an update to their Panda algorithm, which will rank high quality content and sites more efficiently and will create a better overall user experience.

These changes will greatly impact the approaches and practices of SEO professionals as well as Webmasters. In an attempt to develop a more quality Internet, these algorithm updates will:

  • Create a more sophisticated link analysis
  • Identify hacked sites more effectively
  • Give more information and feedback to Webmasters
  • Detect authorities easier and rank them higher
  • Lead to more high quality writing

In reference to these changes in search, Milanovic writes:


“…they are doing more to look at your site the way an actual person would, and making common-sense judgments that go far beyond a few links and meta-tags. What’s more, they are ignoring or even penalizing companies that are going too far to influence their ranking.”


Ultimately, smarter users have led to the need for smarter algorithms and marketing tools. Though it has been speculated, SEO will not ‘die’, rather it will be coupled with content marketing to enhance the overall framework. All of these changes are leading to a better user experience and will result in a more quality Internet.