Social Media Tips for Small Businesses to Ensure Success In 2021.

Social media has become an integral part of everyday life. In fact, many people spend a large part of their day exploring various social media channels. A study from Globalwebinex showed, on average, people spend three hours a day on social networks and messaging.  Given the prevalence of social media, it’s no surprise that marketers and businesses flock to these channels hoping to connect with their target customers.

As social media is becoming more integrated into our lives it provides countless opportunities for businesses looking to reach their audience through various initiatives. That being said, it can be challenging for small businesses to stand out given the massive content overload on social media channels.  Small businesses don’t have the budgets to compete with big brands, who are pumping millions of dollars into paid advertising to promote their products and campaigns. For small businesses to succeed, it’s important to bring social media back to the foundation of what it aims to do, engage.   Having a clear and engaging social media marketing strategy can help small businesses succeed into 2021 and beyond.

I spoke with Clay McDaniel, CEO of  Ripl Inc. regarding social media for small businesses to succeed.   Since many small businesses often can’t afford a social media manager, or don’t have team members with knowledge of how to develop social media content they often look to implement a third-party tool to support their content management needs.  I’ve worked with my fair share of social media tools throughout my career and have been impressed with Ripl Inc.

Clay explained that “With Ripl, anybody can easily manage the social media presence of their business. For about the same price as a lunchtime sandwich per month, you can have thousands of customizable templates available to your company with over 500,000 high-quality images and 90,000 videos at your disposal. You can quickly create trackable professional-grade content and schedule to share it across channels in minutes instead of hours.”

Clay shared several key pieces of advice for small business owners to consider for social media success this January.

  1. Consider focusing on a “hero” social platform. If you feel like you’re spread too thin tying to manage all of your social channels, see if one is performing much better than the others and focus your energies there. Some channels don’t make as much sense for certain types of businesses. Visual platforms like Instagram often benefit retailers, while Twitter can be beneficial for sharing news and managing customer service.
  2. Understand Your Customer – Small businesses often can’t afford to do mass marketing, so you need to make sure your social media activity is pinpointed to your customers’ needs. Spend the time to really personify your customer and what will speak to them and that will help as you develop new content throughout the month and year.
  3. Set goals for your social pages – Having a page just to have a page isn’t the best strategy, so set some measurable goals so you know what’s working and not. Perhaps that means brainstorming new types of content, posting more often or at more regular intervals, or doing more community management on your social media channels.
  4. Add a call-to-action button– This button sits just under your cover photo on your Facebook business page and can be added to Instagram, as well. Make sure it fits your business so potential customers can engage immediately to “Shop now,” “Book now,” “Sign up” and more.
  5. Delete or archive old content – Comb through your past Instagram posts and Twitter tweets and decide if any are outdated or no longer applicable to your business. Go through each of your story highlights at the top of your Instagram feed and remove outdated content…and if you’re not yet using Instagram stories for your business, you should start. This is a great way to keep important content indefinitely since highlights last forever while stories only last 24 hours on the platform. Be sure to also go through your past tweets to determine if there are any that might spark controversy or seem tone deaf and delete those, as well. 

COVID-19 has been a game changer for small businesses both within the United States and across the world.  Facing financial constraints and major limitations imposed by the pandemic has resulted in the need for many small businesses to pivot and come up with innovative solutions to reach their customers in order to survive (and hopefully thrive!).

The advice Clay shares above is crucial for small businesses to succeed on social media channels.   Small businesses have one major advantage over big corporations in my opinion, they can be nimble and seize opportunity.  The ability for a small business to lean in and adapt social media channels in order to evolve in a rapidly changing world is key.

What additional social media tips would you give for small businesses to ensure their success into 2021?

Please take a moment and leave a comment below!

How to Plan Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Today, every business needs to maintain its online presence to be able to reach their potential customers. No longer can a business survive with just a brick-and-mortar presence. Even if you don’t actually sell any goods or services online, you have to develop some sort of digital presence. That may mean building out a website, posting regular updates to a Facebook page or sharing news of things you offer for your followers on Instagram. 

The data speaks for itself: The number of internet users in North America is rapidly growing. Nearly 90% of people have access to the internet. (click to tweet)  A digital marketing strategy is one of those terms that most marketers have heard of, but seldom have seen it planned and implemented well. If you’re still trying to search Google for “what is digital marketing strategy,” the following steps within this article will help. Salesforce developed some graphics which I found immensely useful to provide us the tools to take a step back and develop a strategy for our digital marketing.

You can’t just throw things up and expect magic to happen. You have to think things through strategically and allocate resources if necessary. What’s more, you can’t expect that all of your customers are accessing digital resources in the same way. Some may be old-fashioned and, on a desktop, or laptop computer, but some may be conducting most of their research and finding information on mobile devices. This graphic outlining the four steps to creating a digital marketing strategy helps offer some insight on the best way to get started.

So, where do you start with your digital marketing strategy?


Before you begin, keep in mind that a perfect strategy is not one that is written in stone. It needs to be comprehensive but adaptable, and you should make tweaks and adjustments as you go. To create a digital marketing strategy, gear up with data about your audience, competitive landscape, current efficiency of your marketing efforts, and the right metrics to track.
 

Step 1: Know your audience.


In particular, you should know where they prefer to spend their time online and find information.

To engage your audience, you need to do it on their terms. That is, you need to deliver your message through the channels and in the tone of voice they prefer. Moreover, it should align with their customer journey stage. For that, you need to know exactly where they spend their time online and how they search for information. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few effective tips to get you up and running.

Ask your current users.

The power of information gathered directly from your audience can’t be overestimated. This can be done with the help of a quick survey. Depending on your budget, you can select something simple and free like Google Surveys, or go with something more sophisticated. For example, Typeform can turn a simple questionnaire into an interactive opinion survey.

Since your users are busy people, if you really want to receive a substantial number of responses, provide them with value. That could be a product or service discount or an evergreen $10 gift card for Amazon or Starbucks.

Step 2. Analyze your competitive landscape.


No business operates in a vacuum, and to make informative decisions, you need to be aware of your competitive surroundings. Your competitors have likely already built up some online presence, which is the main reason to review which channels they’re using to communicate with your mutual audience. Furthermore, a competitor analysis will help you better understand your current market position and see where your business sits in your industry.

Step 3. Review the channels you’re currently using.


There’s no way to improve something without first analyzing how it performs at the moment. So before turning your findings into an actionable digital marketing plan and setting any KPIs, you need to know how efficiently your channels are currently performing.

To kick things off, go to your Google Analytics Acquisition report and see which channels are currently working best for you.

Pay close attention not only to the quantity of traffic, but also its quality — that is, consider the number of conversions that each channel earns. For instance, even if referral traffic isn’t generating as many visits as social, the percentage of new visits coming from this channel may be higher. Additionally, this audience may demonstrate more interest if the average session duration and the number of pages per session are a lot higher for referral visits.

Evaluate how much effort it takes to keep the traffic flow from each channel. For example, to get enough visits from social media, your team needs to spend a few hours each day curating content, creating custom images, and engaging with the community. It requires substantial resources. However, the amount of interest from this audience is superficial, and they hardly convert. On the other hand, attracting visitors from other channels might not be as time-consuming.

The bottom line is that with this data, you can make informed decisions and concentrate your efforts on the channels that perform best in terms of the resources spent versus the number of acquired visits and conversions.

Step 4. Define your main goal and general principles for measuring success.


This step is critical for your future work. You need to apply all the findings from the previous steps and define how, exactly, you are going to achieve your marketing goals.

Let’s start from the top: Define your high-level marketing goal. If your company has a mission, your main goal should resonate with it and broadcast your mission to the outside world. For instance, remember the example from the beginning of this post: “Become the go-to website for ordering flower delivery.”

Next, move forward to setting high-level KPIs. For example, here’s a nice KPI template to use:

  • Template: [Goal] by [value] in [time period]
  • Example: [Increase traffic] by [20 per cent] in [six months]

After the high-level goals and KPIs are set, you need to deconstruct them with your team into personal goals and KPIs that each team member can achieve individually.

If the high-level goals can be somewhat vague (“20 per cent monthly growth of traffic and conversions”), the individual goals should be clear to the contributor and easily broken down into particular tasks.

Here are a few additional points to consider.

  • Very often, when the actual goals are not clear to the team, reaching target KPIs becomes the goal. Make sure not to let this happen. Communicate the actual goals to your team, inspire them, and make sure they understand that KPIs are just a way to measure progress. Reaching them is not the sole purpose of their work.
  • Preach collaboration within your team. For example, if you’re in charge of community management, team up with your colleagues responsible for content and SEO to maximize the efficiency of what you do.
  • Set up the rules of ethical and low-risk marketing. Everyone, at some point, considers cutting the line in a race for target KPIs. When talking about personal goals with your team members, make sure to communicate which marketing techniques are beneficial for the business’s reputation, and which are not and should not be used.

Over to you


A defined, documented digital marketing strategy is not a necessity. In fact, many marketers do their jobs without having one. However, if you want to maximize the outcomes of your marketing activities, a clear, data-fueled strategy is an absolute must.

Use the tips and information in this article provided by Salesforce to get started, then revise your strategy as you learn what works and what doesn’t. Use your digital marketing strategy to work together toward clearly defined goals and help your team reach those goals faster.

Social Selling – How Businesses Can Boost Their Sales

Guest Post from Sudhir Kumar, Origin.

Not that long ago, consumers didn’t have information at their fingertips and businesses were often successful in using outbound sales and marketing methods such as cold calling and email blasts to close sales.

And, it’s been revealed that just 16% of organizations that use outbound methods feel it delivers ROI, 44% of direct mail is never opened, and 86% of consumers skip TV ads on recorded shows (Source: HubSpot)- Click to Tweet.

Today, the buyer and the buyer’s journey have changed thanks to the internet of things (IOT) and advancements in technology. Now, 57% of the purchase journey is completed before a customer has even contacted a business (CEB), and 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally (Source: SiriusDecisions). Click to Tweet

Added to this, in 2019, there were 3.48 billion active social media users worldwide, which presents a huge opportunity for businesses to take advantage of.

The rise of social media usage has encouraged organizations to look into ways that can utilize the technology to improve their sales, which has led to the development of social selling.

So, what is social selling and why should you care?

I define social selling as the process of researching, connecting and interacting with prospects and customers on social media networks. It focuses on nurturing leads, building brand authenticity and building trust with your prospects.

Leading firms have taken advantage of social selling and have begun reaping the benefits it offers. Research has shown that 70% of sales professionals are active on LinkedIn for business purposes, 89% believe social networking platforms such as LinkedIn are important in closing deals and 64% of sales reps that invest time in social media are hitting their sales quota (Source: SuperOffice). Click to Tweet

As buyers are becoming more digitally savvy, social selling becomes a no-brainer. But to stand out from the noise on social media, it’s essential to provide value to your audience through high-quality content, insight and real conversations, to enhance each touchpoint that your audience has with you and your business, from awareness stage through to purchase.

What are the benefits that social selling offers?

  1. It appeals to the modern buyer

B2B buyers have 12 to 18 non-human and human interactions along their buyer’s journey (Source: Sirius Decisions) Click to Tweet. 68% of buyers prefer to research products and services online (Source: Forrester) Click to Tweet.

With this in mind, it’s essential that you develop and push information and content on social channels that resonate with your target audience and provide the solution to their problems.

This will enable you to influence their choices and position your business as front of mind.

2. It allows you to build “real” relationships

How many cold calls do you actually answer, listen to and respond to?

If you’re one of those people that frantically hangs up, cursing as you put your phone down you are not alone. Research from Citizens Advice has revealed that 67% of British adults say that have received an unwanted telephone call and 92% of people don’t trust companies whose sales representatives contact them by cold calling. Click to Tweet

With this said, it’s time for businesses to break down the barriers around selling and get on the same page as their customers. Social selling supports this, as through social media listening tools, you’re able to listen to topics and conversations that are relevant to your industry. This technique will not only give you insight into what’s important to your prospects but it’ll also present new opportunities and leads, giving you an easy way to engage and reach out to potential customers in an appropriate, non-intrusive way.

3. Your competitors are already using social selling

71% of all sales professionals are already using social selling tools, so if you aren’t you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage (Source: LinkedIn). Click to Tweet.

For example, Microsoft is one organization that has taken hold of the power of social selling. Their social selling pilot program started with 15 people selling Microsoft Azure through their LinkedIn accounts to find their own customers. This boosted the productivity of their team by 38% and led to the program scaling to 3,000+ sellers.

4. It builds your social capital

Social capital is built when someone in your LinkedIn network has a problem or an issue and they automatically think and turn to you for help. This will happen when you have positioned yourself correctly on social networks with your activity.

To gain social capital you’ll need to consider social proximity, and your connection philosophy. Instead of connecting with just anyone, connect with people in a targeted manner, and with those who you can genuinely help. Next, you’ll need to ensure your social presence is up to scratch.

Present and share your insight and knowledge and contribute towards discussions and groups to build it. This will enhance your online visibility and will strengthen your social capital.

5. The Mere Exposure Effect

The Mere Exposure Effect was first spoken about in 1968 by social psychologist Robert Zajonc. This social phenomenon states that the more a person is exposed to something, the more they’ll develop a preference towards that thing over time.

Social media gives businesses the ability to tap into this theory through regular and consistent posting and updates. When you’ve created and put into action a dedicated strategy, you can begin to utilize social media channels to your advantage and ensure that you have messages trickling through all the channels that your audiences use, creating multiple touchpoints with them.

However, it’s essential to remember to not just share sales messages and calls-to-action. Instead, share content that adds value to your followers, and offers insight and information.

If you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail…

The infamous quote from Benjamin Franklin couldn’t be truer when it comes to achieving social selling success.

To successfully leverage social selling, you need to optimize your social channels to showcase your expertise. And, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. For example, research from LinkedIn revealed that members with a photo receive 21x more profile views and nine times more connection requests compared to those that don’t. Click to Tweet

So, what do you need to do to give a positive first impression on your social channels?

Here are my top tips:

  • Post a professional head and shoulders image of yourself
  • Write your bio/summary to highlight your expertise and what you do on a professional level
  • Include links to your website and other social channels to encourage visits
  • Utilize hashtags that your prospects follow
  • Create lists on Twitter to monitor content from specific accounts
  • On LinkedIn include your job title and keywords in your headline, ask for recommendations to boost your credibility and join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry and begin networking in them

Social selling best practices

Once your profiles are ready to be rolled out it’s time to kick off your social selling strategy. Effective social selling takes time and must be consistent to build meaningful relationships with your audiences.

  • Dedicate yourself

Start by creating a plan and setting aside time to dedicate yourself to building your social presence. Being present on multiple social channels can be time consuming, but if you spend 30 minutes every day monitoring your channels, engaging with others and posting content it’ll help ease the pressures and ensure your feeds are always up to date.

  • Create and stick to a content plan

By creating and sticking to a content plan you’ll ensure that there is structure to your posting on LinkedIn.

The purpose of a content plan is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content that engages, resonates and attracts your target audience. In today’s social web environment, getting the right message to the right customer at the right time is crucial. And, to stay front of mind, build rapport and trust and position yourself as an expert, you’ll need to have a solid content plan in place.

  • Take advantage of social listening

Earlier I mentioned social listening, and it’s essential to factor it into your social selling strategy. So, create and use social lists and monitoring streams to collate what people are saying about you, your company, your industry and competitors, and identify what questions they’re asking and topics they are talking about.

  • Provide value

Focus your content on providing relevant, informative posts and content, when your audience wants it. This will position you as a thought-leader and build your personal brand. It’ll also help you create relationships with your prospects and gain their trust.

  • Maintain relationships once you’ve created them

Once you’ve made new connections it’s important to stay engaged with them over time. So, comment on and like the content that is posted by your prospects.

And, be sure to offer advice and guidance to them and contribute to their conversations in a meaningful way if they ask questions.

  • Share testimonials

Success stories from other customers have a lot of weight, and research from Pretty Links suggests 92% of buyers trust recommendations from peers and 70% trust recommendations from strangers. Click to Tweet

By gaining and sharing third party testimonials you’ll start to build your credibility with prospects and it’s more likely that they’ll begin to trust your business.

  • Track engagement

Tracking metrics such as likes, comments and shares will allow you to identify the types of content that resonates the most with your audience. And, it’ll enable you to determine if your social selling activities are paying off.

In addition, by establishing what content is getting the most engagement you can adjust your content so that you’re producing more of what is preferred by your audience. For example, if you notice content about a particular topic is getting high levels of engagement, this will suggest that your audience is interested it in, so why not produce more and give your audience what they want?

  • Understand when to take your connections offline

To land a sale you’ll need to escalate the connection with a prospect by offering them a call to continue the conversation offline and on a deeper level. And, it’s important not to try and push a call before prospects are ready as this will damage all of your nurturing efforts.

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Sudhir Kumar is marketing director at Origin Blurbs. For more information like this article please connect with him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sudhirkumarorigin.

10 SIMPLE & EFFECTIVE THINGS TO TRY WITHIN SOCIAL MEDIA THIS YEAR FOR ONGOING SUCCESS

I’m thrilled to share a post from one of my oldest colleaguesDhariana Lozano. I’ve worked with Dhariana for over ten years and she has grown to be one of the most influential social media and digital marketers within the industry.  She has setup her own agency Supremacy Marketing and often published posts on her blog as well as many industry channels.

Each week Dhariana runs a segment known as #CoffeeWithDhari on her Instagram live stream.  Within the livestream she promised her viewers a list of simple and effective things to try on social media within 2019.  You can read the below repurposed post below or by visiting her blog as well.

DhariLo-Social-Media-Marketing-Tip-214-10-Simple-Effective-New-Things-To-Try-On-Social-Media-In-2019

10 Simple & Effective New Things to Try on Social Media in 2019 for Success 

  1. Ephemeral content

I think disappearing content or content that is only temporarily available will be big in 2019. It will give followers an extra reason to follow your brand on the particular social media network you’re publishing this kind of content on so they don’t miss out. We’ll discuss a few of these content forms in this post.

  1. Live videos

Live videos will not slow down in social media in 2019 and tie into ephemeral content forms we just talked about. Live videos really let your followers see more of who your brand is behind the scenes. Their unscripted nature add a different element that can contrast a curated feed. They are a great way to “humanize” you brand and drive live engagement with your audience. Live videos can also be repurposed for content later on.

  1. Videos/Vertical video

Speaking of videos, I think vertical videos will become more popular on social media in 2019. We naturally hold our phones vertically and with the popularity of Instagram Stories and the introduction of IGTV I think there might be more of a shift to create vertical content.

  1. Instagram stories

Keep going with those Instagram Stories! I don’t know about you but I’m spending a good amount of time scrolling through stories as opposed to going to the accounts of the people or brands that I follow. While we’re chatting about Instagram stories I think you should make use of the countdown sticker. I just had to bring this one up because I love! It’s a great way to remind people of what’s happening. I’ve been using them to remind my followers of my weekly #CoffeeWithDhari live story segment.

A little bonus here: I think giving Facebook Stories a shot may be worth it. You can repurpose your Instagram Stories.

  1. Influencer marketing (mainly micro influencers)

The influencer marketing world is shifting. I think in 2019 more focus will be placed on micro-influencers. Micro influencers are people with smaller followings (think 10k). These influencers may have a more engaged audience than some of the bigger guys.

  1. Showing more personality

Getting more personal will be a differentiating factor for brands on social media in 2019. In the crowded space of social media marketing, being laser focused will yield more results than trying to appeal to the masses. I predict brands will continue to get personal and get behind specific social and even political causes. Not to0 long ago brands wouldn’t touch issues like this – so it’s refreshing to see the turn around. Just like in life, your personality will attract the people you’re friends with. Showing more personality is also helpful in creating more engaging content on social media.

  1. The death of vanity metrics

I predict (and hope) that 2019 will bring the end of the concentration of vanity metrics on social media marketing. I mentioned this a little in my latest #CoffeeWithDhari session. In the new year I think there will be a stronger emphasis on engagement as opposed to paying attention to follower numbers. Likes may even be weighed more lightly. This is because with the decline in reach, making the most out of the audience you have, and reaching more of the audience you already have will have a bigger impact than just simply gathering likes.

  1. Chatbots, 1-1 messaging

Have you interacted with a chat bot yet? The potential for brands using chatbots is immense. I ordered some items online and was able to get tracking info and updates right on Facebook Messenger. This should be a great aid to customer service. Definitely something to think about going into the new year.

  1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn has been an all time favorite of mine. I think people and brands alike are starting to see the importance and potential of LinkedIn. The originators of the Groups feature – LinkedIn has been a place to gain super targeted and high value leads. LinkedIn has been revamping itself in the past few years and I think more people will be exploring the possibilities on this network in 2019.

  1. Social media ads

Last but not least, and somewhat unfortunately, I think social media ads will be big in 2019. With all the saturation going on, the only way to break through may be to pay to play.

Social media marketing is an ever changing landscape. Just like you change over time, social media changes from day to day. 2018 has been filled with so many new features and innovations and I can’t  wait to see where we will go in 2019. No matter what changes, just know that one thing will not – and that is the power of a strong social media strategy. I am looking forward to relaunching Building Your Brand On Social Media in early 2019! For now you can keep track of your own social strategy with my handy social media strategy checklist.

To view the full article please visit Dhariana’s Blog and subscribe today to receive her notifications. Leave a comment and let me know if you have any recommendations of what you’re looking to try within 2019. 

Ten Eye Opening (and Tweetable) #Instagram Stats

Data from the Pew Research Center shows that among social media networks, Instagram has surpassed Twitter in popularity among United States Adults.  The research states that 26% of online adults in the U.S. used Instagram in 2014, up 17% from the previous year, and 13% from 2012.  As a comparison 23% of online adults in the U.S. used Twitter in 2014.  The data finds that Facebook remains by far the social media site, however over the past year Instagram has made a splash, and engagement on Instagram is 15 times that of Facebook’s!

PI_2015-01-09_social-media_01One of the most interesting aspects of Instagram is that it’s not a site, but lives only on the mobile app.  Numerous brands have begun to use Instagram as businesses are seeing results from showcasing more visual images.  With over 300 million monthly active users, Instagram executives think the network will eventually hit 1 BILLION monthly active users!

If you’re still not bought into Instagram, here are Ten Eye Opening Stats:

  1. Instagram is the eighth most popular mobile app in the U.S. (comScore)- Tweet This
  2. Instagram is projected to reach 45.8 million U.S. users in 2015 and 50.6 million in 2016 (Statista)- Tweet This
  3. More than 30 billion photos have been shared on Instagram since it was launched in 2010 (Instagram). – Tweet This
  4. An average of 70 million photos are shared through the app each day (Instagram).- Tweet This
  5. 53 percent of Internet-using adults age 18 to 29 are on Instagram (Pew Research Center). That’s up from 37 percent in 2013.- Tweet This
  6. 76 percent of American teenagers use Instagram, making it their favorite social media network (CBS News).- Tweet This
  7. 49 percent of all Instagram users use the app each day (Pew Research Center).- Tweet This
  8. 94 percent of Instagram users are on Facebook (Pew Research Center). Facebook owns Instagram.- Tweet This
  9. 58 percent of Twitter users also use Instagram (Pew Research Center). – Tweet This
  10. 52 percent of Instagram users also use Twitter (Pew Research Center).- Tweet This

In less than five years Instagram has gone from it’s infancy to a social media rock star, and i’m excited to see what the future will hold!

Is your brand on Instagram, would love to know your experience, and how you are succeeding, or the challenges you face, leave a comment below, or tweet me @MarissaPick.

Dos and Don’ts of Marketing Automation (Marketo Blog)

I recently was asked to be a contributor to a post by Marketo discussing the Dos and Don’t of Marketing Automation in their Marketing Automation 101 blog.  The full article is posted below and can be found by clicking on the Marketo image, please let me know what you think of my feedback within the comments section, or by sending me a tweet @marissapick. Enjoy!

Marketo-Logo-Large

Dos and Don’ts of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a powerful tool with the ability to greatly increase your conversions.  However, in order for marketing automation to be effective, there are certain do’s and don’ts that you should understand, including how it fits into the larger context of your business. Based on information collected from experts in the marketing field, let’s look at the specific do’s and don’ts for marketing automation

“Marketing automation plays a key role in the customer/client acquisition process as it automates lead scoring, routing of qualified leads, nurturing those that are not ready to buy, and greater transparency into prospect/customer behavior on its own. It is important that a CMO and his/her team understand that marketing automation, as with any technology solution, is an enabler to their business strategy vs. a strategy on its own.

-Andrea C. Levine, Chief Outsiders,(@andreaclevine1)

DO FOCUS ON YOUR TARGET

​Unfortunately, marketing automation does not automatically recognize your best target audiences.  As a result, it is important that you are knowledgeable in regards to your personas.  If you are not 100 percent certain who you are targeting, there is a good chance that your efforts will not reverberate with anyone.  Obtaining well defined personas gives you the chance to create more concentrated campaigns through careful segmentation and targeting.  When segmenting and targeting are done correctly, it will lead to increased engagement, as well as more conversions over time

“Do personalize your B2B (business to business) marketing. The last time I looked, buildings and factories don’t process PO’s and write checks. People do. Use marketing automation to build segments to provide the right content, and the right time, to the right people. An IT director for a $50 million financial services company will have different needs and interests than an IT network administrator at a $200 million medical device manufacturer. Share stories with people that matter to them. Don’t talk AT them. Use marketing automation to personalize content based on buying stages, roles, companies, industries, and regions.

-Brian Hansford, Heinz Marketing, (@RemarkMarketing)

DO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU CANNOT “SET IT AND FORGET IT”

​While it can be easy to simply set everything up and move on to something else, this is not effective. You will gain the most from marketing automation by frequently revisiting, reevaluating, and adjusting your settings based on their performance. This also applies to social media. It can be very easy to schedule tweets ahead of time that are completely irrelevant when they are finally published. Keep track of what is coming up and readjust messages if needed.

“Do take the time to create your content strategy, and assess your people and the process changes that will be needed prior to investing in marketing automation. Marketing automation is a must-have technology for digital marketing programs, providing the visibility and automation necessary to execute on strategy, and the lack of it can result in failure. Given the functionality that marketing automation makes available, it’s also critically important to determine goals and how you’ll measure them to set up the appropriate lead-scoring scenarios and progression planning that gets contacts to a qualified state that your sales team will appreciate.”

-Ardath Albee, Marketing Interactions, (@ardath421)

DO URGE YOUR MARKETING AND SALES TEAMS TO POOL THEIR RESOURCES

​In the past, there has been some tension between these two teams, but marketing automation should reduce that.  Using marketing automation, your marketing team should be able to provide higher quality leads to the sales team.  In addition, it provides integration and analytic features to help the teams work together to identify certain business opportunities to follow.

“It’s critical to come to an agreement with sales on lead definitions and process steps.  Working with sales can provide feedback and data on lead quality and opportunities for future campaigns, which marketing automation can support.”

-Brian Hansford, (@RemarkMarketing)

Don’t Think Marketing Automation Will Create Your Content For You

​While it does not create content for you, it will point you in the right direction as to how to push your content.  Essentially, it acts as a delivery system between your audience and what you already have in place.  Use data analysis to make automation benefit your business.

“Do leverage data and analysis to make automation work for your brand. Review, revisit, measure and adjust to understand the full range of data triggers from your campaigns and get the most out of your automation. Take advantage of the rich behavioral data provided by marketing automation to create more focused, personalized, and successful campaigns.”

Marissa Pick, (@MarissaPick)

DON’T USE MARKETING AUTOMATION TO CREATE SPAM MAIL

​Marketing automation has numerous email capabilities that can potentially be used to spam prospective and existing clients with unnecessary and unwanted emails.  Do not give in to this temptation.  It will only backfire!  Instead use it to your advantage, as well as that of your current and potential clients.  Examples include using marketing automation to create a monthly newsletter or any number of follow-up actions based upon how a lead reacts to an original email.

“Don’t commit email spam by merely automating the recipient’s first name, you must step up your game and deliver more personalized and engaging content. You must ensure emails sent through automation are customized for the individual reader, and leverage the sophistication of your platform. Your clients must feel as though they’re receiving communication from humans, not robots.”

-Marissa Pick, (@MarissaPick)

DON’T ALLOW MARKETING AUTOMATION TO LET YOU BECOME LAZY

​In order for marketing automation to truly work, you have to come up with something to automate.  Simply utilizing the extra time you have to think about other initiatives, such as how to effectively reach clients in a more personalized way.  When content is personalized and tailored to meet a client’s specific needs, they are more likely to convert.  By spending your extra time getting to truly understand your audience, you have the potential for even bigger payoffs.

“Over the past few years, marketing automation has rapidly evolved and has enabled marketers much needed ease in performing daily tasks at work. One of the most important things to remember before embarking with marketing automation is that it’s a technology not a strategy. It’s simply a tool available to help leverage the desired results from a more cohesive and planned strategy. Marketing automation should allow your brand and people to take advantage of the efficiencies gained by focusing times and efforts on other parts of the business, by automating otherwise time-consuming tasks.”

-Marissa Pick, (@MarissaPick)

“Do not ‘set it and forget it.’ The beauty of marketing automation is that it can relieve marketers from manual tasks. This ‘freed up time’ should be redirected into monitoring and refining, to continuously improvement the programs run by your marketing automation platform. Even if you’ve done the research and groundwork to create your content strategy, it’s still a ‘best guess’ until it’s in execution. With continuous improvements, marketing campaign performance can reach heights you might not have thought possible. Don’t settle for good enough when you’ve got the potential for greatness.”

-Ardath Albee


Marketing automation has proven to be very valuable for both marketers and clients.  Businesses will appreciate the increased lead conversion rate, while clients and customers appreciate their improved online experience.  By taking the following tips into account, you can ensure that marketing automation works most effectively for you.

My #1 Piece of #SocialMedia Advice for Ongoing Success

My colleague Anna Lee has built her blog “small thoughts, big ideas” around short and simple posts, with great takeaways.  I’ve modeled this post similarly, and would like to share my opinion regarding the single most important thing you should do before launching any social media campaign.

CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES.

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Defining and setting objectives for your social media campaign may be the most important step in creating a solid plan. Here’s a few simple ways to help you develop objectives:

1) What do you want to accomplish? i.e. lead generation, additional traffic from social media, brand visibility… 

2) What does success in social media look like? i.e. revenue, larger following, customer service & satisfaction

3) How are you going to measure ROI and success from social media? i.e. customer feedback, sales figures

Asking these three simple questions can help to clarify your objectives and get everyone on the same page.  Remember to put the pieces together and communicate with your team, clients, or managers to solve the puzzle of what social media success within your business looks like. There’s no one simple answer, and this is a question you need to periodically ask and assess to ensure the ongoing performance of your social media efforts.

Do you agree? What’s your #1 piece of social media advice? Tweet me @MarissaPick, or leave a comment below 🙂