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TV/Radio vs. Business on Social Media

  
  
  

We often take a look at social media from the perspective of our clients – what platforms are being used, what’s the importance of social for SEO, who’s doing what right or wrong.  But recently, I came across a piece of research focused on television and radio stations that I found interesting.  

The study, which published May 4 of this year, was the third in a series of reports developed by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Professor Emeritus at Hofstra University in New York, Bob Papper conducted the study, which surveyed 1,688 operating, non-satellite TV stations and 3,704 radio stations at the end of 2014.  The research covered everything from the social stats that I plan to discuss in this post to newsroom salaries, women and minorities, etc.  Obviously, the social piece is what I was most interested in and seemed most relevant for a discussion on The Sounding Board (and, since you’re reading our blog, probably the most relevant for you, as well). 

Social Media*Image credit: http://www.socialmediatoday.com

Here’s a look at some of the main findings:  

  • 72.4% of news directors said they did something new in social media in 2014 while 27.6% said nothing new
  • 42.9% of radio stations said they did something new in social media in 2014, but 57.1% said nothing new
  • 99.3% of TV stations have a Facebook page vs. 90.8% of radio stations
  • 99.3% of TV newsrooms are active on Twitter vs. 59% of radio newsrooms

These show that TV stations started using Facebook and Twitter more this year than the year before (in terms of the report, they did more planning when it comes to participating in social) and that radio was already relatively active on Facebook and Twitter so they didn’t do anything new, just focused on increasing engagement and probably creating better content.  

What is interesting is the newsroom participation on Twitter, which makes complete sense. Radio stations aren’t as active, because they don’t necessarily have continually new content to push out like broadcast news, since it can be assumed the mix of surveyed was most likely a mix of music and news stations. 

So how can we make use of this data from a B2B perspective?  I think it helps to show that having a continuous stream of new (or even refreshed or repurposed) relevant content is what makes it possible for businesses to increase social activity, which is the first step to achieving business goals through social media: engagement, brand awareness, website traffic, SEO, etc. that help close deals and sell.   For news stations (and some businesses) this happens easily and organically, but for others, i.e. the “radio stations” of business, you have to get more creative with your efforts.  Again, this may mean more repurposing existing content than creating anything new and simply being more strategic with what you have to work with.  This can come in the form of visuals, video and infographics that present content in a new and interesting way for your audience.   Although being a “TV station” business can sometimes make life easier from a social media perspective for volume, it doesn’t always mean your content is superior.  Creativity and strategy are still vital. 

Want to read some interesting facts about businesses on Facebook?  I liked these easy to read “25 Facebook Facts and Statistics You Should Know...

*Image credit: http://www.socialmediatoday.com 

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Four Questions to Help You Decide if Blogging is Right for You

  
  
  

If you’re a senior executive, you’ve probably heard at least a few people say, “You need a blog.” And they might be right. But they also might be wrong. As with many things in life – it depends.

Obviously, we at SpeakerBox think blogs are great and serve many benefits. You can use them as a forum to state opinions and spur discussion. Blogs can be great places to post company news, allowing you to save money on press release distribution while getting information directly to your captive readers. And they can be a great place to post thought pieces on the current state of your industry, comment on something of relevance to your customers, or respond directly to their concerns or feedback about a particular issue.

All of that said, a blog may still not be right for you -- or, it could be the perfect vehicle to get your point across. How do you know? Start by asking yourself four questions: 

Are you passionate about something?

Blogs are not like press releases, which take a “just the facts, ma’am” approach to content. Blogs allow far more leeway, so you can let your knowledge flag fly.

When you’re doing that, though, it’s important to remember that it’s not enough to be savvy about a particular topic – you have to be passionate about it, too. Anyone can write a fact piece about CRM best practices, but what are your thoughts on the matter? What really gets you going? Do you vehemently agree or disagree about something? Use your blog to touch on all of those points. Let your passion show, and readers will continue to follow you.

Do you have the time?

Here’s another reason to be passionate about the topics you write about: if you’re planning on blogging, you’re going to be writing about them a lot.

Blogs need to be living things that make readers want to come back to them to read something new. Given that, you’ll want to be able to update your blog with new posts at least once a week. Could you have someone else write those posts for you? Sure. But, you’ll still need to be involved in deciding the topics and the editing process. Remember, the goal is to make sure it’s your voice that’s coming through on the blog.

Making the time commitment is very important. If you can’t make that commitment, perhaps a blog is not the right avenue for you.

Are you OK with receiving feedback – some of which might be negative?

The beauty and scariness of a blog is that it can be used to spur debate and conversation. That’s beautiful because it encourages customer engagement; it’s scary because your readers may say some things you don’t like.

Bloggers need to have thick skin because, inevitably, they’ll receive a comment that criticizes their opinions, writing, company, or any combination of the three (after all, we’re talking the Internet here). However, you can use this to your advantage. Your responses can correct misperceptions or serve to better educate your customers on your stance on a particular topic. At the least, comments can provide you with unfettered insight into how people view you and your company, which can lead you to make adjustments as necessary. You just have to be prepared.

Do you have anything insightful or unique to say?

This is probably the most important thing to consider. All of the passion, time, and thick skin in the world won’t help you create a compelling blog if you don’t have anything insightful or unique to say.

No one wants to read a blog that’s a regurgitation of something they could read somewhere else. They want your own perspective on topics that are relevant to them. This gives you the chance to set yourself – and, by extension, your company – apart from your competition. You’re already doing that through your other communications efforts, too – right?

If you answered “yes” to all of these – what are you waiting for? It’s time for you to get typing.

But – if you answered “no,” or hesitated, perhaps you might want to carefully consider whether a blog is the right communication vehicle for you at this time. Blogs are great, but they do require a certain level of commitment, not to mention a willingness to really put yourself out there.

Contrary to what some may tell you, blogging is not for everyone – but, if it is for you, it can be a great way to let your unique voice be read.

Want to know more about blogging, or content relations in general? Check out this free guide:

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TandemNSI Cyber Security and Data Analytics Event Recap

  
  
  
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Last night, TandemNSI hosted its 3rd #PitchNSI competition at Virginia Tech’s facilities in Arlington. Each event focuses on a different section of government agency technology, and this event’s featured topics were cyber security and data analytics, with a particular focus on predictive analysis, mobile security and the Internet of Things

 The candidates were startups and growing technology companies interested in making connections with national security agencies.

The night started off with an hour of networking between companies with tabletop displays. Each company educated attendees about their technologies and how they intend to forge partnerships with national security agencies.

Jonathan Aberman, co-founder of TandemNSI; Dan Dooney, chief innovation officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); John Hanna, director with In-Q-Tel, the nonprofit strategic investment firm; and Frank Pound, program manager at DARPA, moderated and judged the company pitches.

The last hour of the event was saved for the pitches—three minutes each with two minutes for judges’ questions.  Here were the companies:

3 Round Stones, Inc. – 3 Round Stones provides Callimachus Enterprise, the leading platform for combining complex data. The company has been on the forefront of scalable data platforms that allow information to be read by humans and processed by machines. Its products are used by professionals working in life science research and health care delivery to eliminate data silos and make information available for new insights, new perspectives, and new conclusions.

Anatrope, Inc.  – Anatrope has developed sensors and a business intelligence platform that identifies unique signals emanating from vehicles for use in location-based marketing, perimeter security, and fleet management.

FlockDataFlockData – FlockData provides an open-source information management and data integration platform, with a multi-mode data store. In short, it helps companies manage information in ways like building a business graph (think Facebook’s social graph, Google’s knowledge graph, Twitter’s interest graph) and leveraging these for organizational intelligence and decision-making.

Illuminate – Combines expertise in cyber threat analysis and net defense with enterprise software development to provide commercially developed and supported Web-based software that addresses fundamental issues within cyber security. Conceived by experienced threat analysts, Illuminate is the first platform that solves the issues surrounding the creation and management of effective rules to detect and prevent malicious cyber activity.

Knowledge Based Systems, Inc.Knowledge Based Systems, Inc. – KBSI is a dynamic analysis, modeling, and systems/software development company which transitions innovative research and technology into cutting-edge solutions and software for government and commercial clients worldwide. Specializing in business process redesign, corporate integration, software and services resource and production, optimization planning, data mining, analytics, algorithm development, discrete event simulation, neural and Bayesian network-based solutions, information modeling and development, semantic search, and ontology development, KBSI has established a reputation for improving customers’ bottom lines and producing state-of-the-art commercial products and solutions.

Krypteia LLC - Krypteia LLC obtains online data without being detected. It specializes in applying Virtual Tradecraft to exploit the social media, Deep Web, and Dark Web domains. Its techniques are the online analogs of traditional street tradecraft and do not rely on technology for security.

PFP Cybersecurity – PFP Cybersecurity solves the detection gap problem – only 50% of known malware are detected at any one time, and the average detection time is 229 days. PFP next-generation endpoint security detects anomalies by using power analysis on AC, DC and EMI. It is effective for detecting both hardware and software threats, including malware, BIOS attacks, firmware attacks, hardware Trojans, and counterfeits. PFP addresses supply chain and configuration management, cloud infrastructure, internet-of-things, and critical infrastructure.

Relevant Security Corp. – Real Privacy Management (RPM) from Relevant Security Corp. was specifically designed as a lightweight cryptographic system that is operationally efficient for the embedded systems marketplace. Examples include FPGA, ASIC, SoC, IC, and device applications that define today’s market for the Internet of Things. RPM is small enough, fast enough and efficient enough to allow for the continuous mutual authentication and security of all transactions on any device, on any network.

Skai, Inc.Skai, Inc. – Skai, Inc. has developed object orientation for Hadoop. Skai was founded with the backing of an MIT faculty member. Applications of Skai included data fusion, data virtualization, and real-time synchronization.

Sqrrl – Sqrrl is a big data analytics company that lets organizations pinpoint and react to unusual activity by uncovering hidden connections in their data. Sqrrl’s linked data analysis platform gives analysts a way to visually investigate these connections, allowing users to rapidly understand their surrounding context and take action. With Sqrrl's cyber security solution, users can detect and respond to advanced data breaches associated with cyber-espionage activity, insider threats, and other types of hard-to-detect attacks.  At the core of Sqrrl’s architecture are a variety of big data technologies, including Hadoop, link analysis, machine learning, Data-Centric Security, and advanced visualization. 

Interested in learning more about TandemNSI? Make sure to check out its website for upcoming free events.

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Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit: Mobile Marketing with Kevin Alansky

  
  
  

Kevin AlanksyIn the spirit of mobile marketing, I decided to Periscope Kevin Alansky's presentation, “5 Things You Should Know About Mobile Marketing Today and 5 More for Tomorrow.”

If you don't know what Periscope is, Google it and get smart quickly. It's one of Kevin's must-know tools for marketers.

Please excuse the quailty of the video. Periscope is designed for real-time broadcasting and I wasn't on wifi and didn't have a tripod.

Pro tip: make sure to have both of those things when you use the app! 

I've know Kevin for a few years now and it was great to hear his well-informed insights on mobile marketing. The team at SocialRadar has been rowing hard with their app and software development kit, so his knowledge is steeped in real-time experience.

   

You can also view his presentation on SlideShare, see see below (thanks for sharing, Kevin!), so maybe open his slide deck first and then the video if you want the full effect.

Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit: B2B Marketing in a Social, Mobile and Data-Driven World

  
  
  

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Pictured left to right: Moderator, Fred Diamond, Principal, DIAMOND Strategic Marketing; Bob London, President of London, Ink LLC; Christine G.D. Schaefer, Chief Marketing Officer, ThreatConnect; Anuj Agrawal, Vice President, Product Marketing, Orchestro; Debbie Shemony, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, MarketBridge; and Brian Cooley, Chief Marketing Officer, EverFi

------------------------

There was a lot to cover in this panel discussion and Fred Diamond and the panel did a great job of providing interesting insights and keeping it lively and fun. I’m going to paraphrase a bit in this recap (and may not hit every question and every answer) – I’m not the fastest or most accurate typist on the planet. If I’ve done my job, you’ll get the spirit of the discussion.

Q: How do you use analytics to drive strategy?

Anuj: I look at Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to see how we are progressing through the sales funnel. We track conversation and the time it takes for a lead to  progress  through each stage. This allows us to forecast revenue much earlier.

It also exposes the seasonality of our marketing efforts and  allows us to make tweaks depending on efficiency of lead sources.

Christine: I find the most value in tracking by cohorts. In general, I think there is too much emphasis on how singular wins happened. It’s rare that two sales ate exactly the same. Tracking by cohorts is smarter vs. in aggregate or at the individual level.

The most important data to me is competitive analysis, which is more available than it’s been in the past. Web visits, keywords, and how competitive tweets performed, etc. are incredibly insightful.  Let the competition do the A/B testing for you.  I also love any data that gives me insight into the customer. In general, marketers don’t spend enough time with the customer.

Brian: We need to be ruthless about moving beyond campaigns that are not effective.

Q:  How has marketing ROI changed? What is the current gauge on senior leadership’s expectation?

Brian:Expectations have definitely gone up. ROI is one of the first things that the board discusses. Not just how marketing has sourced leads, but how it’s influenced the buying process. Influence is not about taking credit, but creating things we want to replicate. You need strong data to back things up.

Debbie: The linkage between marketing and awareness and purchase is now available for the C-level. Data is no longer a siloed thing,  it is a part of how we work.

Q: Let’s discuss the 3 N’s of digital (Net, Nurture and Nudge) 

Debbie: It’s all about digital customer experience. What does the nurture track look like once you have that customer? People do a lot of independent research before they even engage with your brand, so if you’re not serving up the right content at when they get to your site, you’ve lost them.

Q: Thoughts on the relationship between marketing and sales?

Christine: You have to understand your customer (the sales person) and talk to them in language that they understand.  If you don’t have that chemistry, you’re doomed for failure or mediocrity – and I consider mediocrity failure.  The hones is on marketing to get out of your office and make that relationship work. We don’t live in the same risk environment that they do, so meet them where they are.

Brian: Follow the “eagles” (top sales reps) and support them well.

Q: How do you define segmentation?

Anuj: Annual revenue size and verticals. We have six core segments  and crisp, core messaging for each segment.  We have a have a grid set up with these six personas to make sure that we are serving each segment well and with the right tools. All e-mail campaigns are broken down by persona. We A/B test everything that we do and test with 20% of the base before e-mailing the rest.

Brian: You can still use tactics from yesteryear – email doesn’t always reach your target anymore. Focus on more in person touches. Also connecting with customers where they live is important. Go and actually see where they work. 

How do you stay up with what your competitors are doing?

Bob: The good news is that most companies don’t do a good job of differentiating.  Looking  at what they’re doing can easily validate what you’ve decided is your differentiator.

Any career advice to share?

Brian: You have to show passion and be committed to it. Bring data to the conversation. Talk in measurable terms. Understand the impact of marketing – take it all in – talk to a range of people in your organization to get perspective.

Debbie: Being prepared  is crucial – whether it’s preparing for a campaign or pitching internally. Be passionate.  Be proactive  - I love when team members say “let’s try this” or “how about this?” – proactivity shows passion and demonstrates commitment. Also, be positive. No one wants to work with negative people.

Anuj: Be paranoid about your strategies and tactics and what competitors are doing . Always try and learn and connect with other sharp people in the industry. Always be learning.

Christine: Get connected to the community – it will pay out more than you put in.

Join a group and get entrenched. I’ve been blessed with a great career because of the connections that I’ve made over the years. People don’t call your references, they call people they know to get unbiased insights, and so being well integrated in the community is important.

Bob: If you want career security focus on where things are headed (e.g. analytics). Always be eavesdropping. You have to have a certain level of intellectual curiosity  and be able to act on what you hear. Try and absorb as much as you can.

Emotional Marketing and the Role of Story Telling

  
  
  

My last session of the day was a presentation by Chris Beutler, chief vision officer at Renegade Communications. Chris’s session focused on emotional marketing and getting to the heart of great, integrated campaigns by telling great stories.  

How do we leverage strong emotions to tell great stories? There are lots of changes happening in the world of marketing but the heart of the consumer isn’t changing – just the platforms we’re reaching them on. 

That’s great, but can emotional marketing work for me? That’s something that only you can decide but if you think about it, Budweiser has managed to emotionally market beer so, yes, you likely can make it work for B2C and B2B.  

The idea behind emotional marketing is that there is so much marketing out there, that you need to connect to cut through the clutter.  

One way to cut through is to realize that humans are emotional buyers. They buy something because they feel a certain way then justify the decision with logic afterwards.  

If you change the way the customer feels, you’ll change the way the customer buys. But are we trying to change the way customers think or are we trying to change the way they believe? When you change their beliefs you intrinsically change the way they think.  

Also be sure to have a solid strategy. Prospective customers do not care about your product. Instead focus on a strategy where your offering means something to the customer’s life.  

Quoting Chris - ask yourself – what do people give a shit about? There are a few properties used by story tellers to tell universal themes that remind us that life is short, dreams comes true, to never give up, offer a fresh point of view, or contain unexpected twists.

So, how do we find the emotional center of the campaign? Emotional marketing at the end of the day is good storytelling and the principles of good story telling are key  - including that conflict drives narrative.  

One example that Chris shared with the group was their work with the One Love FoundationThe PSA is pretty cool and worth watching.

 

The State of Advertising and Marketing

  
  
  

Our own Elizabeth Shea participated on a panel this afternoon titled “The State of Advertising and Marketing.” The industry experts covered a wide range of topics from the evolving C-Suite to finding talent to managing expectations. The panelists included:

  • Greg Kihlström, Founder & CEO, Carousel30 and President DC AdClub

  • Eileen Bramlett, Vice President of Marketing Worldwide ERC and President of American Marketing Association DC

  • Elizabeth Shea, President & CEO SpeakerBox Communications and President of The Marketing Alliance

  • Linda Kempin, Managing Director, Art of Digital Prominence and Vice-Chair of Marketing Executive Networking Group (MENG) DC Chapter

  • Moderator: Cary Hatch, CEO & Brand Advocate, MDB Communications

After brief introductions from each panelist, our moderator, Cary Hatch, jumped right into a discussion on agency and client roles and how they have affected the industry.

Elizabeth Shea: We have a seen a lot of different trends when it comes to the agency/client relationship. At first the big thing was to have a large global agency, then splinter off into several agencies, then go back. It really depends on where you are in the corporate lifecycle and what verticals you really want to hit.

Greg Kihlstrom: I agree, it’s cyclical. Take social media for example. Not too long ago companies and organizations didn’t have an internal social media person, but now we see that you don’t do marketing without social so it often is brought in house. Agencies are now focused on strategies and tactics more than that type of commodity.

Linda Kempin: We have so many more areas of constraint, particularly in the healthcare and financial services industries. When we run into compliance issues, like what we can say and who we can talk to, we end up looking towards specialty firms that are aware of these issues that were never on our radar before. 

Cary Hatch: Lets talk about the changing role of the CMO in today’s world 

Eileen Bramlett: I think it depends on who you work for. I work for a CEO who is extremely dedicated, interested in, and knowledgeable about marketing. Because of that we can invest in marketing, hire a great team, and grow our efforts.

Elizabeth Shea: I’ve been surprised recently to see and hear that CMO’s are going on to be CEO’s. We have a TMA event once a year where we bring in board members and potential investors and ask what they’re looking for. Several have said that the CEO should be looking more towards the CMO than others in the C-Suite! 

Linda Kempin: There is a trend right now where CMO’s really need to have more of that business acumen to better fit in the C-suite. Having that skillset and knowledge makes the transition to CEO easier.

Lets talk about your experiences with managing expectations and how people have been able to validate those contributions. 

Elizabeth Shea: People continue to talk about the need for ROI but it’s often difficult to demonstrate. Today we have a lot more tools to help show ROI, to really show analytics that track your success. We’ve heard a lot today about the importance of marketing and sales integrating, that couldn’t be more true. Returns for the sales team based on what we do are great endorsements. 

Eileen Bramlett: It’s so important to track and analyze data so you can pivot when you see that something isn’t working. It allows you to be more experimental if things are successful. I have recently put this set of metrics and analytics into place and people really love having that level of accountability and ability to measure success. My advice is to make it easy and to report often. 

Greg Kihlstrom: Everything we do is direct marketing. Everything can be tracked now, so everything has a direct marketing component. There is always a hashtag which is track-able in real time, in different increments.

Lets talk about the kinds of talent that it now takes and what has been changing over the past few years. You’re looking for “unicorns” that are fluent in multiple areas, who can think strategically. What has that been looking like for you? 

Linda Kempin: It’s definitely not easy to find multi-faceted team members, but they’re out there. Personally, I recognized that ability in a past intern and now she’s going to be working for us. The great thing I’m seeing about millenials is that they’re very tech savvy, they’re fluent in social media, and they’re eager to learn. Go look for them and then train them and keep them happy. They can be a gold mine! 

Greg Kihlstrom: I’ve seen that a lot of students now are learning social media more than traditional media, which is really cheating our youth. It makes me a little hesitant about the future, to be successful for the long term students need to understand those tactics. 

Elizabeth Shea: The biggest challenge that I’ve heard lately is product marketing and product management. I hear that there is not enough talent in general and that there’s not enough here. What I think we should be doing is bringing in the rock star product marketers and having them mentor the great new talent to help them grow. They’re still going to need the strategy, but younger people are going to be more adaptable. 

People are keenly interested in making sure there’s ROI for every dollar. What are your thoughts between clients who take a 70:20:10 split between something we have always done, something a bit more innovative, and something completely new?

Eileen: Based on my own experience in speaking with members of AMA DC and in my own position, its tough to take risks but people are doing it all the time. As competitive as it is out there, people know to succeed they need to take more risks. We are not only investing heavily in marketing/communications but we’re taking risks. We want to pivot and make sure that our members, as well as the industry, knows that while our industry is over 50 years old we are willing to take a risk and stay current.

Elizabeth Shea: Because of all the tools that are out there this is an entirely different story. Our TMA speakers have to show something bad, and it gives us all the opportunity to examine what everyone else has done. We have seen that people are so much more willing to try new things because it’s become so much easier to course correct.

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Email Marketing: The Future of the Inbox

  
  
  

Allen Nancy

 

I started my afternoon off with a presentation from Allen Nance, CEO of email marketing software company WhatCounts about email marketing and the future of the inbox. There was no after lunch drag here – Allen was lively and funny and it was a great session! Here are the highlights.

Everybody is obsessed with digital marketing and marketing technology is like Hansel, it’s so hot right now, and there are few reasons why. One reason is that there is a lot of money chasing it.  A lot of VC money is entering the space and is creating opportunities. Right now there are more than 3,000 marketing technology software products. 

Allen challenged the audience to take an honest look at email. Email is currently used by four billion people globally and that number will only continue to grow. It’s twice as big as all other social channels cumulatively, and is intertwined in everything we do. To that end, email is also always #1 on the digital marketing ROI list.

For these reasons Allen feels that email is ripe for innovation and had a few predictions.  

Prediction #1—Somebody is going to ‘Tinder’ the email experience. Somebody will launch a mobile-only email product that you will flip through like a magazine. This mobile-only email client will fundamentally change the way we interact with email which will have a profound impact on email marketers.

Prediction #2 – Payments phenomena. Open up your Gmail and start to compose a message. Now look down. See that dollar sign? Soon email addresses will become fully integrated into Google Wallet, Windows and payment gateways (Square) to create a global payments phenomena. That dollar sign in your Gmail – it allows you to send and request money. What this means is that soon the goal of email will no longer be to drive traffic to a website but rather to get people to transact from inside of the email. Your email address will be tied to your credit card.

Prediction #3 – IP based credit score. The idea of a “spam folder” goes away and the introduction of IPv6 leads to a “credit score” of engagement that drives all inbox delivery.  What this means is that credible senders have good credit scores that allows their email through while spam email is assigned a low credit score. However, instead of the email getting bulk deposited into a spam folder it’s just flat out blocked. Imagine a world with no more emails from Nigerian princes asking for money!

Prediction #4 – Smart inboxes. The “inbox” gets smart. No more “newest at the top,” instead it is replaced with an algorithm that learns who you interact with most often and how.  

Prediction #5 – Codified user experience. Email becomes 4D. Driven by wide adoption of HTML5, embedded Java, video and other programming languages, email comes to life. What this means is that everything you can do inside of a browser will be capable inside of an email.  

Allen wrapped up by saying that in the next five years he strongly believes email marketing will continue to be the number one digital channel, (it’s) more mobile, personal, smarter, and you can transact across it…

No longer will email marketing be about increasing open rates or click rates. In the next 36 months email will move from a traffic channel to a transaction channel.

Consider my mind blown!

The State of SEO in 2015 (so far)

  
  
  

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My second session of the day was “The State of SEO in 2015 (so far)” with AOL Inc.’s Senior Director of Audience Development, Simon Heseltine. In his current role, Simon heads up organic search, social, newsletters, and training across all of the AOL properties, including TechCrunch, Huffington Post, and AOL.com. It’s also worth mentioning that he has a fantastic accent and wonderful sense of humor.

Simon started his presentation with two visual demonstrations of SEO, one in 2000 and one in 2011. It was amazing how by 2011 the landscape had simplified so drastically, to just a few big players. 

In the simplification, SEO itself has changed. The evolution has led to the perception that SEO is dead or that it’s a joke. Another perception is that SEO is a feature that can be brought in after a site has launched. 

SEO is something you need to be thinking about from day one of your website development. As Simon told the group, you cannot “SEO” a site in a day once it’s live. Don’t ask your developers for it—they’ll just look at you with a blank stare.  

So, what SEO can do for you?

  • Promote audience keyword research
  • Make your pages useful for users
  • Organize your content
  • Generate ideas
  • Create opportunities for your content
  • Get your great content found 

SEO Basics

Simon showed us examples of meta-descriptions and headlines that have come up in his own Google searches. It was a great representation of how much those factors matter when it comes to what you click. If your meta-description is a URL or a list of menu options people will not click on your site. 

Consider what someone is going to type into Google when they’re looking for a company like yours. What would you enter if you were searching for what you do? That’s what you need to remember when you’re considering your keywords. 

Title tags haven’t changed too much in the evolution of SEO, but they’re very important.  This is simple, enter the title you want and that is what will show up, this is NOT a step you should skip. For example, BBC’s title tag is “BBC—Homepage.” Who is searching for the word “homepage”? No one. A better example would be CNN, whose title tag is, “Breaking News, US, World, Weather, Entertainment, & Video News – CNN.com.” It seems like such a simple idea, but making sure your entity is in your title tag will give you better results. 

Description Tags are a similar idea, they are short 120-160 characters descriptions and they should be a call to action. When you’re putting together your description tag you are really telling people why they’re clicking on your link, rather than the link above you that may have a similar product.

  • Editorial Checklist for SEO

    • Target keywords

    • Keywords in title tag

    • Keywords in description

    • Keywords in content

    • Internal links

    • Promote in social networks and get people to cross share it 

What’s Changed?

Google’s algorithm. A lot. This can be frustrating but they have a good reason. Google is refining and adjusting their algorithm constantly to make sure that they are pulling together exactly what you’re looking for because if they don’t you’ll go to Bing or Yahoo. The latest Google update, Panda, really looks at quality of design, trustworthiness, speed, depth of content, and quality of content to maximize results. Make sure you’re getting your content right. Again it seems so simple but getting your own information wrong is the best way to mess up your SEO. 

Looking Ahead

Moving forward Simon considered Google+ to be a major factor that will affect SEO. As the platform evolves, as Google gets different partnerships (like Twitter), as the available technology advances, search results are going to be affected.

To wrap it up, here a few of Simon’s thoughts on the state of SEO:

  • SEO is alive and well in 2015 (no matter how many articles say it is dead)

  • SEO will continue to evolve

  • SEO will continue to integrate more tightly with other marketing channels

 

The Consumer Diagnostics Revolution for Marketers

  
  
  

Scott Laughlin at the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit

Scott Laughlin, Co-owner and Director, LMO Advertising sees a fundamental error in how we approach big data. Like presentations before him, Scott mentioned the coming “revolution”: Big data.  

Scott’s presentation was allegorical and he spoke about how LMO had approached big data.  

In order to explain LMO’s strategy, Scott first defined big data, by addressing what it wasn’t.

  • Volume does not equal vision

    • It’s easy to get encumbered with jargon. Aggregation, cataloguing, etc. only works to pull focus away from a larger issue. Gathering more data won’t lend any advantage if you can’t make sense of what you already have.

  • Accounting does not equal analysis

    • In order to illustrate this, Scott referenced the novel, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the supercomputer in the novel that found the answer to life: “42”. Yes, the computer succeeded in finding the answer but it neglected to understand the meaning. Without understanding the meaning of your data, the answer won’t matter.

  • Data does not equal diagnosis

    • Simply having data does not necessarily mean you’ll be able to recognize the trend. Data can provide insight into what happened, but a diagnosis can be predictive. 

  Scott then proffered how LMO has approached marketing. His assertion was that population data is not a very good way to approach marketing. Instead, marketers should be focusing on the person, citing these statistics:

  • Population-focused big data can predict that people have a 20% likelihood to purchase.

  • Consumer-focused diagnosis can predict that this person has an 80% likelihood to purchase.

  As marketers, Scott says, we should go from being about the people to being about the person. We must focus less on the data and more on the diagnosis.  

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