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Quote of the Day!

“Learn from the mistakes of others, you can never live long enough to make them all yourself.”

JOHN LUTHER

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17 Best Lead Generation Tools for Growth Marketers in 2020

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By Vince Magaline

The best lead generation tools make it easy to capture quality leads with as little manual outreach and follow-ups as possible. However, building a scalable lead generation machine is quite a challenge. So, when you get that machine rolling, it’s extremely rewarding.

In 2020, there are hundreds of lead generation tools to choose from, and naturally, some are built better than others. Furthermore, many of them no longer provide the same ROI as they once did due to overused strategies and a lack of further innovation.

This is why I’m sharing 17 lead generation tools with you that I know can grow your business from hands-on experience. With a combination of the following on-page, inbound, and outbound lead generation tools, you’ll be able to quickly identify and convert leads.

chatbot marketing

#1. Live Chat Software for Lead Generation: MobileMonkey

The best live chat software in 2020 allows you to proactively engage with customers and prospects in order to grow revenue, generate leads, and offer real-time support across multiple channels.

Most live chat software is only found on a company’s website. However, with OmniChat technology by MobileMonkey, you can instantly talk to customers across multiple channels, whether that’s your website, SMS text messages, or the messaging apps they already use.

live chat software lead generation tools

Having the ability to use live chat software tools on different marketing channels, all from one unified inbox, is a game-changer that only the best chatbot technology can deliver.

Here are some other great examples you can get started with today to generate leads using live chat:

Adding MobileMonkey to your digital marketing tools is guaranteed to generate tons of quality leads for your small business, and fast.

#2. Landing Page Builder Lead Generation Tools: Unbounce

Unbounce is one of the most popular landing page builders for digital marketers because there are no coding skills required, and they have some of the best lead generation tools.

Its ‘Conversion Intelligence’ and ‘Smart Traffic’ features help to set Unbounce apart from the competition.

landing page builder for lead generation

When you’re running highly-targeted campaigns, such as account-based marketing campaigns, you need your entire funnel to be tailored to its audience. This is why custom-built landing pages are so important.

Think about it…

If you click on an ad that’s promoting chatbots for marketing agencies and you landed on a homepage that isn’t marketing agency-specific, the chances of converting that traffic drops. However, if you were redirected to a landing page that says in big bold letters, “The Best Chatbot Platform For Marketing Agencies”, you’ve found exactly what you were looking for.

So, when you build your marketing funnels, use a tool like Unbounce to quickly create multiple, campaigns specific landing pages. Conversion rates are guaranteed to go up, and search engines will reward you for it.

With Unbounce, you can duplicate your most successful landing pages to save time and build high converting pages in bulk. Furthermore, you can A/B test variations of landing pages to see which messaging and designs perform best.

#3. Lead Generation Tools for Data Collection: Leadfeeder

Leadfeeder is a site visitor identification tool designed for digital marketers and sales teams to generate leads. Its tools tell you which companies visit your website, even if they never fill out a form or otherwise contact you.

lead generation tools for data collection

All you need to do is install the Leadfeeder Tracker to your site and connect your account to Google Analytics. Once installed, you’ll get the following details on your site traffic:

  • Company details including industry, employee count, and contact information
  • Which pages visitors looked at and how long they spent there
  • Where visitors came from before landing on your site

Being able to generate leads from web traffic that doesn’t convert or fill out a form is a no-brainer. As long as the cost per lead is below your existing cost per lead, tools like Leadfeeder are worth testing out.

#4. Lead Generation Tools to Build Email Lists: FindThatLead

FindThatLead is a great lead generation tool for building lead lists and capturing emails on different platforms. 

lead generation tools to build email lists

Companies that need to build lead lists fast commonly use FindThatLead to:

  • Perform targeted prospect searches and get their contact information
  • Build segmented cold email lists and schedule drip campaigns
  • Continuously feed your sales team leads to reach out to

#5. Lead Forms for Lead Generation: Leadformly

With Leadformly you can embed lead forms just about anywhere. Its lead forms work on any CMS, from WordPress and Squarespace to Magento.

lead forms

Leadformly has many lead generation tools and features, such as:

  • 58+ lead form templates
  • Customize the look and feel to match your branding
  • Multi-step forms and conditional logic to create conversational lead forms 
  • Data segmentation to qualify, and convert leads into customers

Lead forms can be embedded on your website and linked to your CRM. Then, you can use Leadformly’s analytics & A/B testing tools to increase your conversion rates.

#6. Lead Generation Tools for Building Mailing Lists: Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads is a lead generation plugin for WordPress. It combines many different types of opt-in forms into one plugin and gives you a simple drag-and-drop editor to create great designs.

lead generation tools for building mailing lists

Furthermore, you can get a conversion boost by showing relevant offers to your visitors based on posts, categories, tags, and more.

ThriveLeads is a sophisticated plugin, not your old-school list building plugin. It commonly updates with new conversion tactics and growth hacking strategies that are proven to grow contact lists quickly.

If you’re not using WordPress, consider using a tool such as HelloBar or Leadformly.

#7. Prospecting Lead Generation Tools: LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Designed for sales professionals, LinkedIn Sales Navigator helps you focus on the right people and companies, stay up-to-date on what’s happening with your accounts, and build trust with your prospects and customers.

I highly recommend combining LinkedIn Sales Navigator with the #8 lead generation tool on this list – LinkedHelper.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Key features of LinkedIn Sales Navigator include:

  • Advanced lead search to zero in on decision-makers with filters such as geography and seniority level.
  • Lead recommendations and saved leads to discover the right people, save them, and keep contact info up-to-date.
  • Alerts and insights to help take the right action at the right time with real-time updates on leads and accounts, such as job changes and recent company growth.

#8. Lead Generation Tools for LinkedIn Automation: LinkedHelper

Put your LinkedIn Sales Navigator account on steroids with LinkedHelper’s many automation tools to build connections, send ‘Inmails’, and generate leads. 

linkedin lead generation

By combining LinkedIn Sales Navigator with LinkedHelper, you can:

  • Acquire thousands of targeted contacts by sending personalized invitations to 2nd & 3rd contacts.
  • Create an auto-mailing system, auto-responders, and sequenced messages to 1st connections or LinkedIn Group Members.
  • Automate profile visits & export lead lists to CSV for Google Sheets and MS Excel.
  • Build targeted mailing lists.
  • Boost your profile by automating the endorsement of targeted profiles, and receive endorsements in return.
  • Invite 1st connections to join a LinkedIn Group.
  • Automatically add your signature to messages, follow or unfollow LinkedIn connections, and withdraw sent pending invitations.

Lastly, LinkedHelper has a great lists manager that allows you to build a lead generation funnel and avoid intersections between campaigns.

#9. Webinar Lead Generation Tools: EverWebinar

EverWebinar is a great ‘set it and forget it’ solution that allows you to create evergreen webinars.

Similar to evergreen content, which we normally associate with blog posts, EverWebinar facilitates the sharing of webinars as many times as you’d like.

webinar lead generation tools

The best part of the EverWebinar platform is that the audience always feels like they’re watching a live recording. After you’ve recorded a webinar, there are many features you can use to create what looks like a real-time and engaged audience.

For example, you can add comments, questions, and live polls that appear to happen in real-time to the viewer.

Additionally, to send traffic to your EverWebinar’s, you can add countdown timers to your website that makes it look like a brand new webinar is about to start in (for example) 10 minutes. So, even though it’s a recording that you could have made a year ago, interested site visitors will sign-up with urgency thinking they got there just in time.

Although EverWebinar is somewhat deceitful, once you get good at using the platform, you’ll be able to generate tons of leads over time with one recording.  

If you’re already running webinars on Zoom, take a look at how to use chatbots to invite more people to your Zoom webinars.

#10. Social Media Forums for Generating Leads: Quora

If you’re having trouble generating enough SEO traffic, Quora is a great option. I’ve personally received over 335,000 views of my answers over the years, and traffic has always converted at a high rate.

generate leads from Quora

Here’s a big part of my Quora strategy that you’ll want to take note of: Find questions that have a high follow-to-answer ratio.

What does that mean? It means you should look for questions that a lot of people have added to their followed questions, but have only a few answers. A ratio of 5:1 or better is ideal.

Additionally, after you create a piece of content, find five or more Quora questions that are relevant to your content, and provide a short version of the answer that links back to your content. For example, at the end of your answer, add some anchor text linking back to your content that offers a more in-depth answer to the question.

The results over time will build, and you’ll be rewarded by search engines as well as much more traffic to your content and website.

#11. Lead Generation Tools for Text Message Marketing: MobileMonkey

Text message marketing is one of the most popular lead generation tools you can have in your tech stack. And that’s because SMS has by far the highest open and engagement rates of any kind of media.

Take a look at these SMS marketing statistics which prove my point.

sms marketing statistics

Using MobileMonkey OmniChat technology, you can engage with your audience with chat blasts in real-time via: 

lead generation tools for text message marketing

SMS text message marketing is incredibly effective in both generating new leads and converting existing leads.

In fact, the average response time to business text messages is just 90 seconds. If you compare that to an average 90 minutes for business email, then you’ll understand why I’m emphasizing the importance of adding SMS to your marketing toolset.

Check out these 20 SMS marketing tools available on the MobileMonkey platform.

#12. Lead Generation Tools for Email Lookup: Prospect.io

Prospect.io has email lookup tools to build lists and automate your outbound lead generation campaigns.

email lookup

Building your lists is the very first step in sales prospecting. Prospect.io has tools to speed up the process while ensuring you build high-quality lists.

Additionally, with Prospect.io, you can combine personal emails, follow-up calls, social touches, and tasks into a multichannel campaign to reach your prospects wherever they are.

Prospect.io also has analytics and productivity tools that generate a list of tasks for you every day within campaigns. These tools help to make the most out of your sales efforts and to track your team’s performance over time.

#13. Cold Email Lead Generation Tools: Woodpecker

When it comes to cold email software, I’ve had the best results with Woodpecker.

Woodpecker is the best tool for companies who need to contact prospects with automated, personalized email drip campaigns.

lead generation tools for cold email

The platform is specifically designed for cold emails and follow-ups that you can send directly from your Gmail and other major email clients.

One of the most common issues with cold emails is being blacklisted or ending up in spam folders. I’ve found Woodpecker to be the most secure email client for automated campaigns to mass email lists. 

Furthermore, Woodpecker is a great marketing agency tool for sending bulk emails because it’s easy for agencies to switch between client accounts and track results.

#14. Lead Generation Tools for Scheduling Meetings: Calendly

Calendly is a great tool to avoid all the back and forth emails trying to set a meeting with prospective customers.

calendar meeting automation

Setting up your account is fairly simple. All you have to do is let Calendly know your availability preferences and it’ll do the work for you.

Then, share your link in emails, your website, and other correspondence to automate the scheduling of your meetings.

Prospects will pick a time and the event will then be added both of your calendars. Calendly integrates with all major calendars, such as Google, Outlook, and iCloud. 

#15. Lead Generation Tools for Social Media: Phantombuster

With all the growth hacking strategies that have become popular in recent years, one marketing automation tool emerged as one of my favorites. And that’s Phantombuster.

Phantombuster provides over 200 code-free automation and data extraction tools for LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Zapier, Medium, Quora, and others.

lead generation tools for social media

Each tool in Phantombuster can be used individually or combined with others to create full workflows.

For example, you can automate lead generation on LinkedIn, be noticed by Instagram users, hire developers from GitHub, receive follows from your competitor’s Twitter followers, or acquire the Instagram accounts of all the restaurants in a neighborhood.

Use Phantombuster on your social media channels to automate the following:

  • Lead generation
  • Audience building
  • Increasing social reach and engagement

#16. Lead Generation Tools to Run an Online Contest: UpViral

UpViral is a sweepstake, rewards, and waitlist campaign platform that makes it simple for entrants to follow your brand on social media, visit your YouTube channel, subscribe to your newsletter, and more.

The platform is known for sweepstakes and comes with pre-built campaign templates, automated trigger emails, real-time fraud detection, and unlockable milestones to keep participants motivated.

lead generation tools to run an online contest

UpViral does a few things that other contest platforms don’t, such as verifying that actions have taken place. 

The biggest problem with contest platforms is the number of people trying to cheat the system. So, by verifying the entries to social networks (where allowed). This reduces the number of steps required to enter, saves you time & drives higher quality entries into your campaign.

Additionally, UpViral has cool interactive leaderboards that use gamification, which can generate a lot of leads in a short period of time.

UpViral users can also access sales tools on the platform that help to increase ROI and lower ad costs. 

#17. Lead Generation Tools to Run a Facebook Contest

Giveaways and contests naturally have the ability to go viral and generate a ton of leads fast. And the best way to run a Facebook contest is via Messenger, which is used by over 1.5 billion people daily.

Facebook contests are an effective tactic for generating new leads, getting more fans, and expanding your network reach.

But contests with a chatbot to do the heavy lifting have even more upside:

  • Instant lead capture
  • Low-friction user participation
  • Automated follow-up and management
run a facebook contest

Furthermore, running a Facebook contest is an opportunity for lots of innovative ideas. That’s because you can get creative with the rewards, prizes, and incentives you decide to offer.

Keep in mind that it’s important to focus on aligning rewards with your brand and the giveaway you’re running. Giving away an Amazon gift card only provides an incentive to get a gift card, which has nothing to do with your brand. Instead, the prizes you giveaway should be things that your target audience would like to receive.

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The Biggest Mistakes Marketers Make on Social Media

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Iva Djukić 

Starting out at any job means that you’ll definitely make mistakes. You won’t be familiar with many of the unspoken rules or you won’t know about what sources to trust.

You’ll probably come across articles that tell you the best time to post or even what type of content you should post. However, almost none of these will teach you how to do it perfectly for your own company. Ultimately, you’ll make some of the biggest mistakes in marketing if you’re not careful.

It’s impossible to get everything right the first time, it’s just a natural way of learning things. But if you know about some of them, you can avoid making some of those mistakes. Since there are a variety of mistakes and it would take forever to go over all of them, we’ll go over some of the biggest mistakes marketers make. Let’s get started!

Don’t know who they’re talking to

We’ve repeated this many times, but only because it’s so crucial: you need to know who your target audience is. This is actually one of the biggest mistakes marketers make. Your ad creative could be a valuable asset, but that’s only true if the right people are seeing it. In 2015, Quantcast created a report on reaching the right audience and shared some interesting statistics about how businesses spend their budgets to narrow down their scope.

Quantcast study on marketing and targeting

They found that psychographics and demographic targeting are the most important for companies’ campaigns across almost all levels of revenue. This is something to consider when you start to plan your next ad campaigns and how to narrow down your audience. 

So what should you be doing to get to know them? To briefly summarize, you need to:

  • Create buyer personas
  • Research your industry
  • Analyze your audience
  • Use targeted ads on the right social media platforms

Without getting to know them, you’ll misunderstand their needs and have spent time and your ad budget targeting people who were never going to buy your product in the first place.

Your social media profiles can give you a detailed insight into your target audience. Analyzing your audience can be done in two ways: you can use the built-in analytics tools in the social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook Insights, but there are quite a few obstacles when you use these tools.

For example, Instagram Insights doesn’t let you export your data, so you will have to spend a significant amount of time each week manually writing down your metrics. What’s more, the time frame you can select and metrics will be limited.

Aside from the built-in analytics, the other option is to use an external tool. Sotrender, for example, allows you to add your social media profiles to the tool and analyze your audience, your performance metrics, and also export your profiles’ data quickly.

The data can give you insight into audience demographics, when your fans are awake, and how they interact with your content. In general, you’ll get a bigger picture of the brand-client relationship with a few clicks.

You might find out that your audience would benefit from region-specific pages, or that you should add communication in more than one language if the audience segment is big enough. Checking demographics and activity are simple ways to check when you should be posting to get their attention.

Of course, this isn’t all that you should do, but it’s a simple first step in the right direction. 😉 It’s especially important at times when your target audience’s interests seem to have changed. Make sure you adapt to their interests and behaviors so you can stay relevant.

Analyze your social media performance

They don’t plan their content

For one, the rate at which they post becomes unpredictable. At times, they could neglect some of the platforms that you’re supposed to be active on. Of course, you shouldn’t have an account on every social media platform if your audience isn’t there. If you don’t regularly make videos, YouTube isn’t all that necessary for your brand. These are some basic things to consider.

It becomes an issue when you’re posting content that has no common theme, and your profile just looks sloppy. At some point, you risk posting about the same thing way too often. Repetitive posts bring very little value since they’ve been there, done that. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stick to an overall theme, but you should consider keeping the content fresh, checking what’s trending in your field, and which profiles are doing it right.

Most people who have spent time on Instagram remember the #SaltBae guy. He’s a chef that was recorded adding salt to a meal in an extremely photogenic and extra way.

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How to use empathetic marketing in your social media strategy

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As a business owner, it’s important to take an empathetic approach in all of your marketing materials, from your website copy to your social media strategy. By empathizing with your customers, you can better serve them. So to help you get—and stay connected—with your customers, here are four ways you can build a social media presence with more empathetic content marketing.1SHARES

BySusan Friesen

This picture show a group of people working on marketing.

4 ways to increase social media reach and engagement

If you’re like 44% of people worldwide, you’ve been spending more time on social media during the pandemic. Whether you’re catching up on the latest news on Twitter or chatting with family on Facebook, social media has allowed us to stay connected. 

But as a small business owner, are you spending more time on social media being empathetic?

While sometimes confused with sympathy, which is feeling compassion for someone else, empathy means putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes. 

By empathizing with your customers, you can better serve them.

Here’s the Merriam Webster definition of empathy: “the action of (or capacity for) understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.”

It’s important to take an empathetic approach in all of your marketing materials, from your website copy to your social media strategy.

Because social media offers such a great way to interact with a large audience, you should be willing to put in the time and effort to ensure your communications are not only engaging, but empathetic to what people are going through.

***
READ: The Importance of Empathy-Based Marketing, on our website.

As we move forward from COVID-19, empathy-based marketing isn’t just the right thing to do, your customers now expect it. 

Many studies done during the pandemic are showing people want brands to be more empathetic and aware of the long-term impact it will have on their lives.

Hopefully, you communicated authentically and empathetically with your customers during this time, and you’re going to have to continue to do so! Here are 3 ways to use empathetic content marketing…

***

According to the Braze Brand Humanity Index research, around 65% of people were more loyal to brands they felt a human connection with. 

So to help you get—and stay connected—with your customers, here are four ways a small business owner can build a social media presence with more empathetic content marketing

Create an empathy map

This can be a good first step to put you deeper into the mind of your customer. Originally a tool used in the design and agile development worlds, empathy mapping provides a deeper understanding of your customer. It’s usually split into four quadrants: says, thinks, does and feels.SEE ALSO  Kapsaliana Village Hotel: The Greek luxury escapade

With your target customer’s persona in the middle, you begin to brainstorm questions, like:

  • Why do you need my product? 
  • How does using my product make you feel/think/do/say?
  • What are some stressors/fears in your life?
  • How does my product help you reach your goals?

Write out your customer’s thoughts the way you think he or she would express. Their needs, wants, desires, hopes, fears, goals, and dreams will start to be more clear, and you’ll be able to build a social media presence using messaging that resonates with your followers.

Tap into your customers’ emotions

I’m not talking about playing on their fears to sell your products, but rather, thinking about how your product makes them feel.

Here’s a way that a brand helped ease their smallest customers’ fears. Philips invented a miniature version of a CAT scanner called the ‘KittenScanner,’ which doctors use to educate kids about the MRI process and put them at ease. Children can try it out with toy animals, taking the focus off of their procedure and onto fun.

It was created back in 2004, but it still gets mentioned on social media, in videos and in health journals as a way to reduce the need for sedation. How could you position your brand in a helpful, stress-reducing way for your customers?

Use social listening to your advantage

Social listening is all about monitoring your communication channels for brand and competitor mentions, and certain keywords and comments.

As you “listen” to your followers this way, you can gain valuable insights into what they like, don’t like, want and need from you. You may see a tweet on Twitter from a happy customer who loved your product. Or, you may see a comment from someone who wasn’t impressed with how long it took customer service to respond to a complaint.

With social listening, you not only get information on how your small business is performing, you also get the opportunity to provide better customer service and tweak a process or product that isn’t working.SEE ALSO  AfDB pledges $10 billion to Africa to fight the corona crisis

Inspire customers to take action

Showing your customers you believe in them is an ideal way to increase social media reach and engagement. Think about the product or service you offer to your customers. How could you get them to use it to add value to their life and/or entertain them?

For example, a popular home improvement retailer encouraged their customers to grow a living salad bowl with an infographic they shared on social channels. While there is minimal branding on this infographic, it still reinforces the business’s marketing strategy of the things that are possible with their products.

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Great Leaders

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If you were like me you were brought up to be seen and not heard, or to be quiet and not to rock the boat. But, from a business perspective this is terrible advice. In business you must be seen and heard to be a really great leader. You have to strive always to be seen as a leader in your niche if you want to build a successful long term business. Leaders lead from the front and don’t lurk in the shadows. You need to be seen and heard in order to lead groups, persuade others and maximize your impact. Here’s how to do it.

Walk into a Room with Confidence

One of my favorite mentors used to often say “fake it until you make it” and this is especially true when wanting to develop confidence. “Practice makes perfect”, is another saying that you should heed. Practicing feeling confident and acting the part will eventually help you really feel that way. How you present yourself as a leader makes all the difference. Dress the part. Look the part. Talk the part. Be the part.

Speak with Intent

When you are speaking, don’t back down from your ideas and opinions. If you have studied something which is true and factual, you should be able to speak with intent without even faking it. Before any talk or before any meeting, play out in your mind the points you want to make and practice your lines so that you will not sound unsure.

Understand How to Use Emotion

Use their stories, their fears, and their ideas when you speak to people. Try to relate their situation to yourself in a way that is revealing, but don’t give away too much information. It depends on your topic and audience, but you want to evoke the emotions that will get them to move forward.

Be Authentically You

You don’t have to tell everyone your deepest, darkest secrets to be yourself. But you do need to let them in sometimes. There was a military officer who loved to do his Elvis impersonation before events. He was a tough person, but he was well loved due to this one thing he did that let people see that he was human.

Be Present in the Here and Now

If you’re tied up in what may happen, what has happened or what will happen, you won’t be present and it will show. Charisma comes from inside and it comes from people who are good at being mindful of where they are and what they’re doing right this second – without thought of the other noise that gets in the way.

Listen to Your Audience and Show It

One of the best ways that you can be perceived as being a great leader is by listening to your audience. Even when you are in public giving a speech, there are ways to get the mood of your audience. Observing them, and asking them questions that requires a clap, a yell, or a response of some kind will help you establish a connection by showing that you’re listening.

Be Where Your Audience Is

One of the best ways to be seen and heard is to know who your audience is and make a point of being there. The more you surround yourself with your audience, the more you can listen and learn so that you know what helps motivate them.

It’s OK to Be Wrong

Chances are you don’t know of anyone that hasn’t made a mistake, everyone makes mistakes. What great leaders do well however is to admit when they are wrong and to learn from these mistakes. There is absolutely no harm in being wrong; there is only harm in stubbornly sticking to your guns when facts show that you’re wrong. Remember true character shines through in adversity.

If you want to be perceived as a leader within your niche, then you must come out of the shadows and be seen and heard. Submit guest blog posts, let people interview you, promote your published works, give talks in person and online and really utilize social media. The more people see you, hear you and get to know you, the more they’ll see you as a great leader and as the go to expert in your niche.

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5 Difficult Decisions No CMO Can Shy Away From

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By Michael Brenner

Although decisions about a company’s marketing strategy aren’t as critical to life and limb as are those of a warrior on the battlefield, they are critical to the lifeblood of the company. As former Navy SEAL and Forbes business leadership consultant Brent Gleeson points out, there is indeed a vital thread that runs through all decision-making, both in the boardroom and on the battlefield. As a CMO, you need to face those difficult decisions and move forward into uncharted territory – unbridled success.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Lose the fear of making hard decisions.
  • Don’t get stuck in analysis, testing or perfecting. At a predecided juncture, just do it.
  • Empower your teams to take decisions. Of any kind.
  • Lose your fear of the spend – leverage money and time to build value.

1. Lean into Challenging Conversations

The temptation, especially in a top-down siloed operation, is to back down, play along with the powers that be, and allow the company to go down the road of mediocrity. As a CMO, you’re there to promote your company and its expertise in its field. If silos and tradition stand in the way, you need to have the courage to have those difficult conversations.

As Gleeson puts it, putting such a conversation off “won’t fix things, and it’s not fair to the other person.” When that other person is someone who depends on you to take your marketing strategy into the next decade, it could even be your job on the line if you don’t take the lead and show them the data that points to the need for a more collaborative, agile marketing strategy.

2. Know When to Call It

We’ve all watched medical TV programs where teams of doctors and nurses pound on the chest of a patient for what seems like hours. There comes a time – both on TV and in life – at which a doctor must realize when her patient hasn’t a chance. She calls it, “Time of death: 12:03.”

In marketing, there’s no patient on the table, but there might be a piece of content that you believe should go one way. You A/B test and you A/B test again, and you don’t get a clear direction from the results.

You could, of course, keep testing. But there are other “patients” to save. You need to make the call. If your experience tells you that a piece of content is a winner, publish it and move on. Don’t waste your team’s time and your company’s money on navel-gazing. If the data is ambivalent, choose the version your gut goes with and move on.

3. Empower Your Employees

It’s scary to yield control to people you’re tasked to supervise, particularly in an organization with a top-down management structure. After all, it’s your job on the line if they mess up.

However, statistics tell a different tale. Even in top-down companies, management’s number one concern is their bottom line, right? According to the career advice experts at The Muse, companies with highly engaged employees rake in 2.5 times the revenue compared to their competitors with low engagement levels.

Those numbers could make even a top-down tyrant like Scrooge stand up and salute. And though company tyrants like to strut around your company’s halls, breathing threats to fire everyone who doesn’t measure up, the stats show that the Scrooge strategy is not only a morale-killer but also a profit-killer.

The same report shows that highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the company than those who aren’t so empowered. And as the human resources gurus at HR Dive point out, the average cost to replace a single employee who leaves is $15,000.

Multiply that figure by 87 percent of your employees. You do the math.

When you empower your employees to take risks, to innovate, and to find better ways to do their jobs, you’re helping your company grow. Take those numbers to the C-suite the next time the office dragon thunders down the hall.https://www.youtube.com/embed/4vFTMjYJTnY

4. Spend the Money on Martech Innovation – But Do So Wisely

Speaking of Scrooge, there are some fearful CMOs who hesitate to jump into the water when it comes to the cost of digital transformation, content marketing, and other cutting-edge strategies that can keep them ahead of their competitors. Do it anyway.

Do your research. Find the most effective tech and digital strategy providers. Prepare the way for a 21st-century transformation with workshops, training, and patience.

If you don’t move now to embrace a new way of working, you’ll find yourself falling behind your peers. Come on in, the water’s fine.https://www.youtube.com/embed/SBjWHBHlvAs

So fine, says Online Marketing Institute’s Josh Jackson, that over the past 10 years, corporate marketing budgets have shown upward growth. It’s no wonder.

They must spend now, or risk going under. Here’s why these 21st-century marketing innovations are necessary for CMOs to keep ahead of the game:

  • Digital transformation: Companies that invest in a digital transformation are 64 percent more likely to reach their goals than those who do not. The reason? Customer experience. Today’s customers expect a seamless experience from beginning to end. Only with predictive digital technologies, automated processes, and intuitive customer service can companies deliver the kinds of experiences that drive customer loyalty and referrals – both necessary to grow your business.
  • Agile marketing: As a recent McKinsey study pointed out, using Agile methodology in marketing empowers marketers to leverage data analytics to discover opportunities, solve problems, run tests quickly, and adjust the strategy accordingly. Those organizations that do make the switch to an Agile strategy, says the study, boost revenue anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent.
  • Customer-centric strategies: Having a robust data analytics program won’t bring much fruit unless you put the customer at the center of your marketing strategy. Product-driven marketing is so yesterday. Use AI and other data technologies to uncover your customers’ pain points and put your Agile teams to work on solving those problems. That approach, say the results of a CMO study by PAN Communications, are what will keep companies on the leading edge of their respective industries.
  • Personalization and account-based marketing: With today’s technologies, CMOs can empower their teams to deliver personalized messages to their target customers at exactly the time they need them. With account-based marketing (ABM), your team can narrow your focus down even further, delivering specific content to each decision-maker in your target customers’ company (or family, for major consumer purchases). Those who make the investment generally see a tenfold increase in customer engagement, a key precursor to purchasing.

5. Leverage Content Marketing to Build Authority and Customer Trust

“You can’t get something for nothing,” blares the late ’70s rock anthem from the legendary Canadian band Rush.https://www.youtube.com/embed/FW7NL9ZQ6c8

But when your company gives away valuable content for nothing and your recipients are your target customers, marketing management happens. The reason? Customers don’t trust ads.

What they do trust, however, is information that helps them solve the problems that keep them up at night. When a company delivers that kind of information for free – and the advice works – potential customers bookmark that company’s website. They put its contact information in their address book. They enter its number in their phone directory.

They subscribe to the company’s newsletter and read its blog posts voraciously. As all that content proves to be fruitful in making these customers’ lives better and their businesses more profitable, trust in that company’s expertise rises to astronomical levels.

When those customers need what such a company sells, you can bet that the one that provides all that free information will be the one they’ll call on first. But don’t take only my word for it. Studies show that content marketing brings in three times the leads for each dollar spent, compared to other marketing strategies, points out a CMI article. Also, 61 percent of all American consumers who read recommendations on a blog post purchase something. Whether sooner or later, they’re likely to buy.

Bottom line – you need to make it your New Year’s resolution to lose your fear, empower your teams, and empower yourself for success. Get started today!

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Visual Search Can Help Local Brands Rank Better

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By Eddie Nehani

The way people search the web has seen a shift with more age groups using visual search when looking to purchase online. With the major search engine and social media platforms launching visual search tools such as Google Lens, Pintrest visual search tool, Bing visual search tools, there is an upward trend on people’s visual search preferences. A report by Emarketer in August 2018 shows that visual search was the preferred technology among UK and USA age groups 18-34 and that number is expected to grow even further.

Emarketer Visual Search Report

This brings up a very important topic which is: Are local businesses especially those who rely on images to capture customer’s attention such as restaurants, fashion, photography, retail, giving the required importance to properly optimizing images they post on their website, e-commerce site and social media profiles?

Image SEO has been overlooked in the last 5 years. Treating images within your content with the ‘Is just an image’ attitude, especially in times when the online search activity and particularly online shopping has seen a significant increase would mean missing out huge on opportunities to be discovered online. Think about how image search can help people who:

  1. Make purchasing decisions based on images they see online,
  2. Know what they really want but can’t remember the name
  3. Due to language barriers prefer visual communication

Why should local businesses optimize for visual search?

Optimizing for visual search should become part of your SEO strategy and the sooner a business thinks seriously about it, better the chances of gaining a competitive advantage. Looking at the report published by SparkToro, which shows that Image search represented 21.51% of the search market share for the first quarter of 2019, this makes a convincing enough case for SEOs to no longer ignore the importance of image optimization.RECOMMENDED FOR YOUWebcast, July 1st: Marketing During a Crisis: Pivoting Your Marketing Messages and Approach in 2020
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GoogleImageSearchShare-SparkToro

Google Image Search Share-SparkToro

How can a local brand benefit from visual search?

  • Google Lens as well as Bing visual search or Pintrest offer huge opportunities for ranking on mobile and desktop SERPs. Google was acknowledged the patent to help return image queries from searches involving identifying objects in photographs and videos in February. See the post Bill Slawski wrote about this in his blog
  • Image carrousels on mobile devices can increase conversions minimizing the number of clicks from search results to the shopping cart. More on how this and using structured data for rich results can be found on Google’s documentation
  • Product schema markup when implemented properly, greatly helps your product images appear in organic search results especially on mobile devices. As of 2018 Google started showing product labels in image search in mobile as well as organic rich results on web search. This feature applies only to product related images in the Google Merchant Center

Google Showing product labels in rich results

Google Showing product labels in rich results

  • Leverage the power of rich English language. Considering that the English language has over 170,000 words and the regular person uses from 20,000-40,000 words, there is an enormous opportunity for e-commerce sites to optimize for visual search based on user intent.
  • GeoTaging images can help with rankings. This is especially important for local websites. You can add location manually with geoimgr.com
  • Use high quality photos for your images, preferably 1200px wide. Avoid using filters. Here is a short article listing some of the most popular image optimization tools which compress images, without any perceivable loss in quality
  • Create an image rich Google My Business profile to get found when users search locally for a business. Using structured data for local business increases your chances of being discovered when customers search using a specific query or a business type.

To conclude, the rise in popularity of visual search demands that local brands focus more on image optimization and make visual search part of their SEO strategy.

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Website Plugin Perils

How Website Plugins Can Compromise Your Website Security.

Lots of websites make use of open source and commercial code libraries many of which are now so user friendly that they are called plugins and can be installed on most of the major platforms in a matter of minutes. They allow you to do all kinds of cool things that would otherwise require a great deal of programming. But plugins should be used sparingly. Not all of them play nicely together and not all of them are coded correctly and the more you have, the more you put your sites security at risk.

The Dangers of Website Plugins

Plugins pose a security risk because they introduce new code to your web site, with some plugins being well coded and others having terrible coding standards. This increases your website’s vulnerability to attacks. More code means more opportunities for hackers to exploit weaknesses in your website’s coding.

This is especially risky in the long term, in order to maintain plugins, you need to get regular updates just look at how often Microsoft release updates, website plugins are updated almost as often. If the plugins on your website go without updates for long periods of time, they will almost certainly be full of weak points through which hackers can gain access. And hackers once an hacker knows of a security hole in a plugin they can easily find websites to hack using Google to search for them, it takes just minutes to come up with lists of thousands of websites.

Sometimes plugins aren’t what they’re advertised to be, they could be fake programs that contain malware. Once you install them on your site, the person who created them could potentially take over your website or use your server for their own purposes.

Check Out Plugins Before You Install

You can prevent most problems by using plugins sparingly and doing some research before you install them. Take a look at the author of the plugin to see if they’re legitimate. See if they’ve developed other plugins and look for reviews of them. Reviews will tell you if any other website owners had problems with them.

You can also find out about a plugin by looking at its activity in the directory where it’s available. Pay especially close attention to how responsive the developer was when there were problems. If something is not supported by its developer the best advice is to stir clear of installing it.

You may also be able to see how often the creator updates the plugin. This is tricky because if you see no updates, it might indicate that the owner is slow or unresponsive about updating their plugins. On the other hand, if there are a large number of updates, this may mean the plugin has had too many glitches and problems. Look for plugins that have a consistent update record.

Most directories will let you check the plugin’s popularity. If it has many users, this is a good sign that the plugin is alright. You’ll know at least that there’s nothing suspicious about it.

Get Rid of Old Website Plugins

If you have had your Website for any length of time, chances are you have plugins installed that aren’t used anymore, you might even have deactivated them. These deactivated plugins still pose a security threat as their code is still there and hackers can still use this to gain access, this is one of the biggest security black holes which hackers exploit. Periodically check for old plugins and uninstall them completely. This means removing them completely and generally means use a file manager program on your hosting account to uninstall them completely.

Do You Really Need It?

Plugin shopping is fun and there are many plugins offered for free, but resist the temptation to go overboard. Each time you’re considering a plugin, ask yourself whether or not you really need it. Are you considering it because it’s crucial or just cool? Before you install a plugin, you should also check to see if there’s a similar one that might be better, more popular, or more secure. Generally speaking commercial plugins are better coded, better supported and more secure however there are exceptions to everything so do your homework and check, check, check and if in doubt err on the side of caution.

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Content Marketing

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If you’re serious about content marketing, it’s important to make your content creation plans in advance. This needs to be based on the season as well as the products and services that you plan to promote, launch or market to your audience. Just as retail stores plan sales to coincide with the New Year so you should be planning in advance for each season too.

Survey Your Audience

You understand the importance of understanding your audience, however just because you have studied and worked out who your audience is once, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t survey them occasionally to ensure you’re still delivering the information that they need and want. You might like to consider a quarterly survey so that you can find out what’s on their mind, and get a deeper insight into their problems.

Research Your Industry Niche

If you want to stay ahead of the pack you need to keep up to date on your niche. Read industry news, study, read between the lines of regular news for clues to the state of your niche, follow niche influencers. Look ahead for killer technologies that might turn your niche on its head. By doing this you’ll have a wealth of knowledge to draw upon with your content creation efforts and your audience will look to you for information.

Check Out the Competition

It’s always beneficial to be aware of what your competition is doing, not to copy them but to stay one ahead of them, playing to your strengths and to their weaknesses. For example if you offer higher quality, test their merchandise to ensure that your quality is better.

Know What’s Coming

Not all businesses are seasonal, but all of your audience is. They think of things in terms of certain seasons depending on where they are in their life. For example, if they have school-age children they are thinking differently during back to school time than summertime. Plus, if you have a product or service launch or other event coming up, you should be planning it in the quarter before the event.

Know Your Realistic Schedule

If you have a regular job, children at home, or other responsibilities that will get into the way of your blogging duties, be honest about that as you create a schedule for yourself. If you have a lot to do, set a realistic blogging schedule around these other responsibilities so that you can stick to whatever schedule you set.

Brainstorm Topics

Once you have some of this other information set up, it’s important to take some time to brainstorm topics based on the information you’ve gathered, plus the events you know that are coming up. At this point nothing is wrong; just write everything down.

Organize Your Topics

Take the brainstormed topics and categorize them for your blog. Throw out anything that doesn’t fit or seem right. Then organize them and match them with the seasons, events and products that you want to promote.

Create a Publication Calendar

Add everything to your publication calendar. If you use WordPress, there are numerous plugins that you can use to help create editorial and publication calendars. Here you enter the information so that during the times you’ve set aside for writing and producing content, you can get right to work.

Set Aside the Time to Create

Now that you have everything ready for you, each time you have the time to create content, you can get the information from the publication calendar and get going easily and quickly. You can also look ahead easily so you can know whether some of the content needs to be outsourced or researched.

Planning in advance actually end up saving you time and helping ensure your success. Working off the cuff will rarely work when it comes to building a successful blog. What will work is planning, knowing your audience and knowing what is coming up, knowing what products you want to promote, and relating the seasons and current events to your blog posts.

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Google: We Rarely Show Sitelinks Search Box, Even When Markup is Used

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Google’s John Mueller recently stated that a sitelinks search box is rarely shown for sites in search results.

Further, the appearance of a sitelinks search box is not at all influenced by implementation of structured data markup.

Mueller discussed this topic during a Google Webmaster Central hangout held on April 28.

A question was submitted by an SEO who mentioned their boss is upset with them.

After implementing all the correct structured data markup, Google is still not showing a sitelinks search box when the business is searched for.

Here’s what Mueller had to say in response to this issue.

Problem: Sitelinks Search Box Not Shown in Search Results

A sitelinks search box is a way for people to search within a specific site from the search results page.

Site owners do not have to do anything to get a sitelinks search box to appear.

However, there is structured data available for customizing how a sitelinks search box will appear when Google decides to show one.

Whether or not the structured data is used will not impact Google’s decision to show a sitelinks search box.

In fact, Mueller says this feature is “rarely” shown in search results.

Important: Google doesn’t guarantee that a sitelinks search box will be shown in search results. Additionally, using the sitelinks search box markup doesn’t make it more likely that a sitelinks search box will be shown.”

Keep Expectations Realistic

Mueller mentioned that he sees people struggling with this sitelinks search box issue from time to time.

But it sounds like the real problem stems from managing expectations.

In this case, the SEO may not have explained to their boss that the appearance of a sitelinks search box is not influenced by structured data markup.

That would help explain why the boss was upset when they didn’t see a sitelinks search box after searching for their business.

It’s important to keep expectations realistic when implementing any kind of structured data

There’s no guarantee Google will display a rich result just because the structured data exists on a site.

Structured data is a tool that can be used to communicate to Google how you want a rich result to be displayed.

Whether or not rich result is ultimately displayed is up to Google’s algorithm.

“With regards to sitelinks search box, this is kind of a tricky one and something I see people struggle with from time to time.

The hard part here is that adding the markup does not make it more likely that a sitelink search box will be shown. But rather, if we were to show one, we would use one that’s based on your markup.

So it’s very rare, or it feels very rare, that we would show a sitelink search box in general – for queries, for sites. And only for those cases where we would show it, if you have the markup we’ll try to use the markup, if you don’t have it we’ll just use the default setup.

So that’s something where, if you’re currently not seeing a sitelink searchbox at all, then adding the markup for that will have no effect.”

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