Now, more than ever, marketing teams are pulled in many directions. Multi-channel marketing can provide a greater reach, and the usage of automated tools can increase efficiencies. However, many organizations are still missing out on essential opportunities that will help them be even more effective in their marketing. These include:
Not collaborating with other departments.
Marketing, Sales, Product and IT teams should regularly collaborate. Unfortunately, most teams don’t join forces like they should. They work together to get a job completed versus helping each other discover the best approaches for achieving common goals.
Examples of projects and processes that benefit from collaboration:
- If your marketing team uses a marketing automation system like HubSpot, Pardot or Marketo, or an email marketing service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, you may experience better delivery results if you collaborate with your IT team. For example, did you know that if you set up your own DKIM and SPF authentication in Constant Contact or MailChimp, your campaigns may be more likely to arrive in subscriber inboxes than spam or junk folders? This task requires editing your domain’s DNS records and is something that most IT teams are familiar with.
- CIOs that involve their CMOs in the early stages of a digital transformation strategy may gain a better understanding of what their customer wants and needs since Marketing often owns customer experiences and utilizes big data analytics in their campaigns.
Not staying current with social trends.
Social media trends, opportunities and algorithms are continuously changing. The exact tactics that you used last year may not be the best ones to use this year. A few updates for 2019 so far include:
Not developing meaningful relationships.
Digital marketing has allowed organizations to communicate with their customers more than in the past. The problem is that communication is typically one-sided, which doesn’t often create meaningful relationships. Along with digital marketing (emails, social media, etc.), organizations should look for opportunities to build relationships through community outreach, hosted events and other in-person social opportunities. Friendships that are not entirely based online are often the strongest. The same goes for relationships with your customers and community partners.
Not investing in a marketing partner
A marketing partner can bring in new insights and innovation with expanded marketing channel expertise. Outsourcing can also trigger internal collaboration. Getting outside marketing support can be a great way to get fresh ideas, gain consistent branding, reach more customers and save costs. A good marketing partner can also help you create an effective marketing strategy and will provide whatever level of marketing support you need – whether it’s acting as your marketing team or performing or handling specific areas of your marketing such as digital marketing.
Have you been missing out on any of the opportunities mentioned above? Contact Break Ice Marketing if you’d like help with your marketing.
Regardless of where you work and what type of budget you have, utilizing free online resources can help you be more efficient, save money and get what you need done more quickly. Even better, many of the available free applications can help businesses gain exposure and make products and services easier to be found.
I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite “free” online resources and applications. Some of these have a small monthly or annual fee for more features and functionality, but the free versions still provide great benefits and allow users to achieve quite a lot. If you haven’t already, you should check each of these out:
Social Media Management:
Hootsuite provides a much more efficient way of posting on social media channels. The free version of Hootsuite enables you to manage up to three social profiles. These profiles can be from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google +. With Hootsuite, you’re able to schedule your posts by the hour, date and profile(s). If you have more than three social profiles that need to be managed, you can upgrade to Hootsuite Pro for around $10 a month. There’s even a Hootsuite Enterprise for larger organizations. Hootsuite provides analytics at an extra cost.
Website Optimization Tools:
A Google Webmasters Account is free and contains an abundance of useful tools and resources for anyone (you don’t need to be a web developer!) that wants to learn how to make their site better. The Search Console provides insights on site search traffic, links, Google index statuses, content keyword occurrences, crawl stats/errors and security issues. Google Webmasters also provides courses, guides and resources for learning all the ins and outs of creating a great site. There’s also a Webmaster Central Help Forum where you can get additional help and ask questions.
Google ranks sites that are fast and user-friendly better than those that are slow and not user-friendly. Through Google’s PageSpeed Insights, you can quickly analyze the speed and user-friendliness of your site for both mobile and desktop. For scores less than 100, Google lists things that you should consider fixing to improve the site’s speed and user experience. Note: You can also use this to check the speed of your competitors’ websites.
Google ranks mobile-friendly sites higher than those that aren’t. So, every site should strive to be mobile-friendly – even if most of your visitors are coming from desktops. If you’re not sure whether or not yours is mobile-friendly, check to see if it passes Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. If it doesn’t pass, Google provides a list of reasons why. Note: You can also use this to find out which of your competitors sites are mobile-friendly.
Google Analytics is free and something that every site should be set up to use. With it, you can collect in-depth insights on traffic, demographics, behavior, conversions and more. Using Google Analytics will also help you determine how many people are visiting your site via a mobile device.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool
This is another free tool that helps you determine what keywords words and phrases people are using to search for products and services like yours. Type in the words that you think people are using and find out how many local and national searches are being made for those words. Google Adwords also provides data on other words with similar meanings. Note: The keyword tool is available regardless if you’re running a paid advertising campaign or not.
Google’s SEO Starter Guide
Google is constantly changing its algorithms for SEO. Google's SEO Starter Guide gives you the most accurate information regarding how Google ranks sites.
Google url shortener
Many times, the secondary pages of a website contain a long URL. The easiest and quickest way to turn a long URL into a short URL is by using Google’s url shortener.
Google My Business
To help give your business more online visibility, make sure that it’s displayed on Google Maps. In order to do this, you need to register your business at Google My Business. After providing your business contact information, Google will send a postcard to your business mailing address with a verification code, which you’ll need to complete the process. Once your business is listed, people will be able to get driving directions to your business and write reviews. Through Google My Business, you’ll also be able to create a Google+ business account.
MailChimp is an email marketing service that allows you to create and send emails, and receive data insight. The free version enables you to send to up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Marketing automation, the ability to send more emails and receive advanced analytics is available at a monthly fee starting at $25 a month.
File Storage, Sharing and Creation:
Dropbox is a file hosting service that allows you to store and share files. A free account provides up to 2 GB of file space. For individuals needing up to 1 TB of space, the monthly fee is $9.99. Or, for businesses needing unlimited space, the monthly fee is $12.50 for a minimum of 5 licenses.
Google Drive provides all Google accounts with up to 15 GB of free storage to share across Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos. More space can be purchased starting at 100 GM for $1.99 a month, 1 TB for $9.99 a month and numerous other plans going all the way up to 30 TB for $299.99 a month.
Google Docs is similar to a free version of Microsoft Office. Google Docs consists of
Slides, Sheets, Docs (comparable to PowerPoint, Excel and Word) and Forms. The ability for better collaboration by allowing multiple users to view and edit simultaneously is another great benefit (besides for being free!).
With the Wayback Machine, you’re able to see the visual history of URLs. This can be useful if you want to see how your website and competition have evolved.
The free version of Survey Monkey allows you create online surveys and track results for up to 100 people. Customization and the ability to receive more responses is available for a monthly fee starting at $25 a month.
These are just a few of the many free and affordable online tools that are available to help businesses succeed. Which of these are your favorite? Please feel to comment on any other free online tools that you use that were not mentioned.
Contact Break Ice Marketing for more ideas on how your business can be more efficient, save money and reach more people.
I’ve seen it time and time again – blogs that are neglected with months in between posts, Facebook pages with no recent updates and social links on websites that go to a place that’s no longer managed or even exists.
While businesses without a social presence can be considered “behind in times”, irrelevant and not credible, I feel it’s worst to have such an outdated presence. I think that many others feel this way too, which is why I often get asked “do you do social media?”.
When asked if I “do social media”, my response is always yes. But, my reply is quickly followed by my own set of questions, including; “are you using social media already?”, “why do you want to use social media (what are your goals)” and “what else are you doing to help people find you?”. The response to the last question is perhaps the most critical because it helps me determine what my client’s expectations are and how they need my help.
I want my clients to reach their goals. In fact, I want them to surpass them. So, when I take on a new social media client, the very first thing I do is to ensure that they have a social media plan that supports a much bigger strategy – one of making their brand easy to be found, which is what will help them reach their goals. While there are social media “standards”, tips and tools (many that I will soon be sharing), my most important advice is to ensure that your business is integrating its social media with the rest of your digital marketing (website, blog, email, etc.). Each of your digital marketing channels should support one another.
TIP # 1: Each of your digital marketing channels should support one another.
This is not a typo. I know that I just stated this. But, it’s worthy of calling out again. That’s how crucial this is. Social media is important, but so is having a good website because that’s where people will be visiting if they want to do business with you. Make sure your website is mobile responsive. Besides for Google knocking you down in rankings if it’s not, your customers will likely be going there from their mobile devices if that’s what they’re using for social media. With all that said, your website should also be used to promote your social channels (have links to them on your site). And, be sure that your social profiles have links to your website. Your email signature should also include links to your social profiles. See a theme here? Use each channel to promote the others. And, be sure that you are using consistent branding!!
TIP # 2: Don’t build your social plan around your personal opinions. Go where your customers go.
I’ve known many people that have selected only the social platforms that they use personally, for their business. For example, I’ve had people tell me that they will not use Twitter for their business because they don’t like it. I also had a business owner tell me that because he dislikes Yelp, he does not have his business listed there. My response to these type of statements is who are you trying to reach? If you’re truly wanting to use social media to help grow your business, you need to be where your customers are. If some of them are on Twitter, why wouldn’t you want to be there? The same goes for the social review platforms, such as Yelp. That’s where your customers are going. If they don’t find your business there, they’ll find your competitors. If you want customers to find your business, you need to go where your customers go.
TIP # 3: Use keywords that your customers are using.
If you haven’t already, you should figure out which keywords that your customers are actually using. You can do this by going to Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool (https://goo.gl/YAxli6). This tool helps you determine what words people are using to research products and services like yours. You can access this data with a free account and without advertising or having a campaign.
Social Channels You Should Consider:
You ask: Should my business be utilizing social media? I say: Most likely. You ask: Can I help? I say: Most definitely.
Contact Break Ice Marketing for an assessment of your social media or to have a social media plan and digital marketing strategy developed.
Around this time of year, fitness centers and gyms are the busiest. In fact, the volume of gym-goers is 33-50% higher in January than any other month of the year. It’s not hard to understand why. Exercise is one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions – and it’s also one of the shortest-lived. By the second week of February, most of the increased volume drops.
While exercising is a great resolution that can help you be happier and healthier – relieving stress and giving you more energy to achieve more personally and professionally, there are four other resolutions that you should make - and commit to keeping.
These four resolutions can help you be more successful in 2016:
The four resolutions mentioned in this article are those that can help employees in all professions. Break Ice Marketing specializes in helping organizations increase sales, gain more leads and reach more customers through strategic branding and marketing. Contact us if you’d like help in creating and fulfilling resolutions in these more specific areas.
We wish all readers a successful and prosperous 2016!
It’s the week before Christmas and staffs of all levels are hustling and busting to get things wrapped up before year-end. As hectic as this time of year may be, the holiday season provides a great opportunity for all businesses to prepare themselves for more success in the upcoming months within the New Year.
Below, is some of the season's best business advice.
Deck the halls with good, strong branding
During the holidays, your brand may not be forefront on your customers’ minds unless it offers a product or service that coincides with an item on their holiday lists. But, don’t let this dissuade your team from preparing for the after-season rush when your customers are less distracted and ready to hear from you. Be courteous and visible to your customers throughout the holiday season. So, when it’s over, your customers will remain loyal to your joyous brand.
'Tis the season to be branding
Fa la la la la la la la!
We now send our best direct mailings
Fa la la la la la la la!
Songs of joyous branding wonders
Fa la la la la la la la!
See the blazing brand before us
Fa la la la la la la la!
Your customers are going online
At the moment, your customers may be spending most of their time online, shopping for the type of gifts that your brand may not offer. Whether they’re going to your website or not, don’t stop giving your digital presence the attention that it deserves. Use this time to ensure that all web content is current and relevant. This is also the perfect opportunity to make those back-end site updates that will help improve SEO - and to evaluate and respond to any customer reviews made about your company and brand.
You better watch out
You better update
Better not sit
I'm telling you why
Your customers are going online
They’re making a list
And checking reviews;
Gonna find out who’s worthy and right
Your customers are going online
Have a holly jolly company
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it can be easy to give less focus than you should to your staff. Don’t just have a holiday party and then check your team off your list. Bring cheer to the office by openly communicating next year’s strategic goals and objectives so that your staff can start planning and preparing now. Greet your employees with a smile and don’t forget to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Have a holly, jolly company
it's the best time of the year
I don't know if there'll be cash
but have a cup of cheer
Have a holly, jolly company
and when you walk down the halls
say hello to staff you know
and everyone you meet
The twelve days of selling
Between now and the end of the year, there is actually less than 12 business days available to sell. But, that shouldn’t stop you from trying to close a few more deals. Depending on what you’re selling, sales are either at their annual peak or they’re slowing down until the first of the year. If you’re the case of the latter, this is the time to make sure that your CRM is updated and current so you’re ready when things start to pick back up.
On the first day of selling
my sales team sent to me:
12 Responding Prospects
11 New Decisions
10 Leads Awaiting
9 Replies to Emails
8 Completed Demos
7 Returned Phone Calls
6 Quotes Requested
5 Customers Converted
4 Contracts Pending
3 Answered Phone Calls
2 People Talking
and another Goal that Has Been Met
Make the most the most of the time you have left in the office, but then be sure to take time and enjoy the holidays.
Break Ice Marketing wishes each of its clients, followers and readers a season of good health, happiness and much success.
Traditionally, the Marketing and IT Departments lived in two different worlds with clearly defined roles. The boundaries that separated Marketing and IT were distinct and infrequently crossed prior to the existence of marketing automation systems, cloud-based CRMs and websites built with a CMS.
But, times have changed and so have the roles, functions and processes within the two departments. Some of the boundaries that previously separated Marketing and IT have faded, with little communication to direct. As a result, it’s not uncommon for assumptions and a lack of understanding to occur between the two teams – making both less efficient than they should be.
The fact that I’ve led a Marketing Department and my husband manages a team of IT staff has certainly given both of us insights on the perspectives from the other side. His venting about the requests and actions of his company’s Marketing Department has given me a greater understanding of how some marketing requests can impact an IT Department. On the other hand, my rationalizing some of those vents has given him a better appreciation of the demands and viewpoints of Marketing.
While it can be tempting to finger point, we all know that doesn’t solve the issues. Creating improved collaboration and alignment through open communication is key. But, it’s also helpful to understand the evolving roles of each department because both have changed tremendously and each is critical to the organization’s success.
Roles have changed in the Marketing and IT Departments.
The IT Department has always been much more than a group of people that fix broken computers (my husband will attest to this). A primary responsibility of the IT Department is to build and manage the IT infrastructure, which is a complex system of physical hardware, software and the network responsible for making all technical components (the company’s phone system, corporate email and business applications) work. Maintaining this infrastructure requires frequent maintenance and for many organizations, takes up much of the IT resources.
Because the primary role of the IT Department has always been to build and manage the IT infrastructure, Marketing faced more limitations and slower-than-desired turnaround times to their requests when CRM systems were built and maintained in-house and websites without a CMS were updated by the IT Department.
Now that many organizations use a cloud-base CRM system in conjunction with a marketing automation system and have their website developed with a CMS, most Marketing Departments have taken hands-on ownership of these areas – acquiring new technical skills a long the way. While this gives the IT team more opportunity to focus on evaluating and optimizing the IT infrastructure, it can also cause a disconnection when Marketing does not keep IT in the loop on projects that should require their involvement.
Marketing and IT must work together to increase efficiencies and meet goals.
While the skillsets and personalities of the Marketing and IT Departments are commonly thought to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, they must work together in order to increase efficiencies and meet goals.
Ensure that all levels communicate
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of communication. In the past, the Marketing and IT teams may have rarely communicated with minimal consequences. But, now it’s different. Timely communication allows both teams to have an opportunity to work together and to contribute their skills and expertise. Communicating at all levels (not just at the executive level) helps ensure that all members of both teams are on the same page and share the similar expectations.
Share goals and timelines
Sharing goals goes hand-in-hand with communication. The Marketing Department’s goals will usually be different from the IT Department’s but by sharing with each other, both teams have an opportunity to find a solution that will best meet the top priority goals. For example, while Marketing may be looking for a system that helps improve their marketing results and provides a measurable ROI, IT may want a system that provides good data control and security. The ultimate goal should be to find a system that does both.
Additionally, providing ample time to allow both teams to create a timeline to achieve the desired completion date is also important.
Take time to translate and explain
Most of us acknowledge that Marketing and IT speak a different language when it comes to terms used to explain processes and systems within their fields. Not taking the time to translate technical slang and terms will end up costing more time in the end. Furthermore, not using common language will most likely result in a key goal or step getting missed by the other team.
Build teams with the right skill sets and people
The roles of both teams have evolved and so have the skills needed to fulfill the new responsibilities. In many cases, resources have not been made bigger. So, it’s up to each department manager to ensure that they are staffing their teams in the best way possible. Ensure that you’re building your team with the right skillsets and personalities. You need people that will be able to get their job done and work with others to meet all goals.
Those who invest in ensuring good alignment and collaboration among their Marketing and IT teams will experience less frustrations and more success.
Contact Break Ice Marketing for more tips on bridging the gap between Marketing and IT.
Marketing and advertising – they’re two terms used almost as interchangeably as marketing and branding. But, just as there is a difference between the latter set of functions, there is also disparity between the first. Marketing and advertising are not the same. And, having a clear understanding of their differences can help you bring in more business. That’s because each serves a different and deliberate purpose and when appropriately executed, the two work together to help increase sales and achieve other goals.
Understanding the difference is key to achieving goals.
Examining the definitions of marketing and advertising is a key step to understanding their differences so that you can appropriately execute. So, here are the definitions:
Helps drive sales through activities and processes that promote your brand to reach and engage customers. Communicates value to keep your brand and products top-of-mind among the people that you want to do business with.
Helps promote the sale of an offering (product, service, event or anything else that can be purchased) by bringing it to the public’s attention, usually through paid announcements.
At first glance, their definitions may appear very similar. But, they’re actually quite different. Marketing and advertising share a common objective of driving sales; however, the purpose and objectives of marketing are more than just that. Marketing also promotes the value of your brand in a way that advertising does not do to the same degree. Marketing uses advertising to help extend its reach and initiate sales quicker. I like to think of advertising as marketing’s “power-up”. However, in order to sustain the “power-up”, advertising needs to support and work in conjunction with the rest of marketing.
The marketing plan should be used to guide advertising.
A good marketing plan contains key components that should be used to guide the advertising. These components include target audience, company mission, value proposition, situational analysis, marketing strategy and budget.
Unfavorable results are a common outcome of advertising that’s not led by marketing.
Advertising that is not driven by a marketing plan usually produces unfavorable results. Unfortunately, this happens more often than it should.
A plumbing company with no true marketing plan spends most of its marketing budget on paid ads through Facebook. This company generates minimal fan page likes, no new traffic to its website and no increase in sales.
Assuming that the target audience is local residents with impromptu plumbing needs, it may make more sense for the plumbing company to invest in marketing that will drive potential in-market customers to their website. SEO, Yelp and Google Business are areas that could produce better results.
A B2B company spent advertising dollars on generating social media likes and followers. The ad campaign did achieve its initial goals; however, once the ads ended so did the growth of their social channels.
In addition to running social ads, the company should invest in strong, ongoing content that’s posted on the social channels. This content should include strong CTAs to increase website traffic, leads and sales. Good content will also help the company continue to grow its social channels through shares and other engagement.
A credit union spent advertising dollars on direct mailers with a “visit our site for more info” CTA. A minimal spike in site traffic occurred; however, it was offset by a high bounce rate.
A more specific and compelling CTA could have generated more traffic. To minimize the high bounce rate, the credit union could have directed potential members to a landing page vs. their website’s homepage. There is also opportunity for the credit union to modify its website so that it’s easier for members to find what they’re looking for when they do arrive on the homepage.
The same differences apply to the digital world.
Digital marketing and digital advertising are used the most interchangeably. But, even in the digital world, there is still a clear distinction between advertising and marketing. And, as demonstrated in some of the examples above, digital advertising needs to be driven and supported by digital marketing.
There is definite value in advertising when it’s directed by a strategic marketing plan. When intertwined with other marketing efforts, advertising can be the component of your marketing that fuels more rapid growth – helping you bring in more business.
To get help with your marketing or advertising, contact Break Ice Marketing.
Many business professionals reach a point where they begin to question how effective their marketing really is. Or, sometimes, they already know that their marketing isn’t producing the results that they feel it should, despite the fact that lots of time and money have been spent. Understandably, this realization can generate lots of frustration, which leads to a common question - why isn’t my marketing working?
Below, is a list of five of the most common reasons why an organization’s marketing efforts are not achieving desired results.
1.Marketing is driven by assumptions and “gut feelings” vs. metrics and data. Not long ago, using a marketer’s intuition was the norm for determining how and where to market. Personal opinions drove marketing decisions and results were measured in ways that did not necessarily correlate with the actual marketing. This approach made it nearly impossible to determine the value and effectiveness of marketing efforts.
Now, there are numerous tools available that provide essential data for tracking marketing effectiveness and consumer behaviors throughout the sales cycle. Rather than relying on educated guesses, marketers should use available metrics to know with certainty which marketing efforts are and are not working. An analytical marketing approach also allows businesses to spot new opportunities for reaching and engaging with their target audiences.
Nearly all organizations, regardless of their size and budget, have access to statistics that provide marketing insights. While there are robust systems available that streamline the reporting of data and provide more detailed intelligence, there are also plenty of free and inexpensive tools available that can be utilized (even by marketing novices) to help drive the best possible marketing.
2.Inconsistent branding is waning marketing effectiveness.
While branding and marketing are different, they do need to work together. Inconsistent branding does impact the effectiveness of marketing. Although there is more to branding than the name, logo and design, it can be these areas that start to negatively affect the outcome of the marketing.
It is important to ensure that the branding across all marketing channels is the same. Using different logo and name variations is guaranteed to cause confusion – to the extent that consumers may not realize that all marketing is representing the same company or product. The same holds true with product feature and brand story messaging. Marketing with constant, unwavering branding is more credible and memorable - and will produce the best results.
3.The call-to-action is hidden, missing or weak.
A missing or weak call-to-action (CTA) represents a huge missed opportunity for leads and sales. All marketing should give your audience a compelling reason to want to act – whether it is to order, sign-up, pick up the phone or visit your site. And, if the goal is to get potential customers to visit your site, you should promise more than just general information. Be more specific on what the CTA is offering. For example, instead of having a CTA that states “for more information”, try using something like “Learn more ways to…“
In addition to being present and strong, the call-to-action also needs to be highly visible – not hidden on the bottom of a web page or flyer. If on a web page, the CTA button should be above the fold (the part of the web page above where you must scroll down to view).
4.Marketing is disjointed vs. integrated.
Good marketing uses a variety of channels (email, social media, print, etc.) to reach customers. Just as it’s important to have consistent branding, it is also crucial that the marketing used in the different channels is consistent. All of your marketing should complement and support one another vs. fight against each other. When marketing to the same audience, it can be more effective to run one campaign that uses multiple marketing channels than give each channel its own campaign.
For organizations with a marketing team that has staff managing different marketing channels, it is important that everyone is working toward the execution of an integrated marketing plan. A marketing department managed in “silos” can also lead to disjointed marketing.
5.The marketing team is not aligned with other teams within the organization.
Organizations that do not have their marketing team aligned with the rest of the internal teams will not reach their full potential for success. The sales and marketing departments are examples of two teams that frequently lack alignment. Marketing, sales and the senior management teams all need to be working toward the same goals at the same time. This goes back to consistency. Having the entire organization aligned to support the efforts of consistent promotions, messaging and follow up are some of the keys to marketing and organizational success.
Don’t be discouraged if your marketing is not producing the results that you want. You can change this. Take a step back and compare your marketing situation to the “5 Most Common Mistakes” listed above. Chances are you’ll find your current marketing scenario matching up to at least one of these areas. Once you know what’s not working, you’ll be able to start fixing.
For help assessing and repairing your marketing, contact Break Ice Marketing.
We all know that the way consumers research and buy products/services have significantly changed over the past decade. New consumer behaviors have altered the way that businesses must market themselves in order to effectively reach their customers. Traditional marketing (a.k.a. outbound) has been pushed aside with a more targeted, cost effective strategy called inbound marketing.
If you’re a marketer or part of a small business wearing multiple hats, you’re likely to be at least somewhat familiar with the term and/or concept of inbound marketing. Its definition is:
A set of marketing activities that earn the attention of customers through relevant, engaging and timely content, which make the organization stand out and easy to be found.
While the successful execution of inbound marketing is becoming more critical in order to ensure customers are reached before competition, it’s an area that many organizations are still struggling to perfect. For many, this type of marketing is being learned through trial and error since experience and formal education on this topic are minimal. Up until recently, traditional marketing dominated most marketers’ careers and inbound marketing was not a concept taught in school.
Fortunately, because inbound marketing has created a lot of hype, there are plenty of books and conferences available for marketing teams to strengthen their knowledge. HubSpot’s annual Inbound Conference generated over 14,000 global attendees just a few months ago. There’s also learning tools specifically for digital marketing and social media. Before investing time and money in these learning tools, it’s helpful to know the basics:
Inbound marketing is not the same as digital marketing. Digital marketing is a category of channels (email, social media, web). Inbound marketing is the content and strategy that relies heavily on the digital marketing channels to deliver its content to customers.
Inbound marketing uses analytics to customize and adjust content. Marketing analytics help provide insight on how your customers are accessing your content and which materials they’re favoring. This information helps you to continue to improve your inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is not a trend. Inbound marketing is here to stay. As technology continues to advance, there will be new channels that can deliver, but the strategy itself will not go away. If you haven’t already, you need to come up with a plan for creating and executing an inbound marketing strategy.
Unlike traditional marketing, inbound marketing doesn’t interrupt customers. Inbound marketing is not annoying or intrusive. Instead, it’s interesting and informative – providing customers with the information that they’re seeking. It’s there for customers when they want it vs. in their face when they don’t. And, because of these traits, inbound marketing is almost always more effective than traditional marketing.
A lot has changed in the last decade. Inbound marketing has changed the way customers expect to do business with you. It’s also the forecaster for the marketing in the future. The need for providing convenient information to customers will not go away. This will continue to be what helps increase sales and grow your business.
So, if you haven’t already, embrace inbound marketing - and have fun with it. Inbound marketing is here to stay.
For help with inbound marketing at your organization, contact Break Ice Marketing.
Recently, The Financial Brand posted survey results that shared some interesting data regarding the anatomy of marketing departments among banks and credit unions. While this survey was given to financial institutions throughout the U.S., I believe that many marketing teams from various industries can relate to several of the stats shared. For example, 70% of the survey respondents chose “lack of people in department” as their biggest marketing challenge in the next year.
The fact that most marketing departments are understaffed does not surprise me. I’ve experienced this myself in the past, and it seems that nearly all marketers and business owners that I speak to vent the same frustration: there’s too much to do and not enough people. It can be aggregating to say the least. Many marketers are expected to do more with fewer people on their team than they had five years ago – and sometimes with less of a budget, as well. And, since quality is just as important as quantity, the demands on short-staffed marketing teams are made even higher. While I admit that these scenarios can present big challenges, experience has taught me that there are ways to increase productivity (and quality) with an understaffed marketing department.
Accomplish more without overworking your staff or exceeding budget.
Yes, there are times when late days and long hours are required to get the job done; however, I firmly believe that marketing departments that lack people can accomplish more without giving up their work/life balance or going over budget.
Review and update job descriptions before filling an open position.
This may seem like a given, but time after time, I have seen it happen. A gap is formed from the departure of an employee and management immediately begins recruiting for the open position without giving much thought to the original job description. This is a mistake. Ideally, you should use this opportunity to review the skillsets, workload and job demands of the entire team. At a minimum, evaluate the role of the employee that just left. Organizations grow and evolve. The way you reach your audience compared to how you did a few years ago, may have also changed. When you take the time to review the role and job description, you’ll often find that the skillsets and responsibilities needed are not same as when the role was first created. This is your opportunity to adjust and modify the position so that your new hire will help meet the demands of your department in the best way possible.
Hire a marketing consultant/strategist.
Contrary to popular belief, the primary role of a marketing consultant is not to tell you what you’re doing wrong or even to replace existing staff. A good marketing consultant or strategist will be able to save your team time and money, and has the expertise and skillset to either be used as an advisor that guides your team, a consultant that provides solutions to challenges or a collaborator that helps complete projects. Essentially, this person should become an extension of your marketing team - think of this individual as a partner vs. an employee or even a typical vendor. You’ll receive the benefit of gaining new, fresh ideas from someone that is able to consider strategies from a different perspective, while you’ll have the flexibility of using that person whenever and for however long is necessary.
Many marketing consultants also have a network of other creative professionals that they work with, which can further help fill in the gaps (and save money) for other areas within your department that may also need support. While there are some outsourced costs associated with a marketing consultant, it’s typically less expensive than using a full-service agency or hiring someone (no additional expenses from benefits or taxes). A marketing consultant also provides more cost-savings and high-level expertise than going through a temp agency.
Ultimately, the primary benefits of hiring a marketing consultant/strategist is that your team will be able to accomplish more, complete projects faster and improve quality from the increased focus and efficiencies that the outside help provides.
Automate, but choose your system wisely.
In order to stay ahead of the game and be efficient, automation is needed more than ever. If you have your team do everything manually (emails, social media, tracking, analytics, etc.), you’re going to significantly slow down productivity and make low quality from errors more likely. Luckily, there are several types of marketing automation systems available that automate nearly all of this for you, which vary in capabilities and costs.
If your marketing team has been given a budget that allows you to select one of the platforms with all the “bells and whistles”, be certain that your team is ready to execute the majority of features into its marketing before bringing the system in-house. While it can be tempting to move forward with the most elaborate marketing automation platform, you’ll be wasting money if you don’t use the majority its features. Also, make sure that your team has the manpower and skillset to effectively operate the system. If it does not, consider partnering with an outside marketing agency that can help train your staff and manage that area of your marketing for you.
More power to be an effective and efficient marketer.
Having an understaffed marketing department can seem overwhelming at times, but it also comes with greater flexibility than what a full-staffed marketing team can offer. By using the strategies listed above, you’ll be given greater power to be a more effective and efficient marketer – increasing productivity (and quality).
For more information on how your understaffed marketing team can increase productivity and quality, contact Break Ice Marketing.