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8 Ways to Use SlideShare for Content Marketing

March 14th, 2013 ::

SlideShareLet me just preface this blog post by saying that SlideShare is owned by LinkedIn. That should already give you a clue as to why you should use SlideShare, especially based on my previous blog post about using LinkedIn to grow your business. But let me back up a sec.

SlideShare is the world’s largest content-sharing community for professionals. According to this nifty infographic created by Column Five Media, it gets 60 million visitors a month who view 3 billion slides. In fact, Slideshare gets way more traffic from business owners than Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

We all know content marketing is the name of the marketing game nowadays, so if you are B2B and want to reach business owners, SlideShare is it. Here are 8 ways to use this amazing community for content marketing:

1. Gussy up presentations

Take a look at your PowerPoint presentations – are they chock full of good information that your target market would find relevant, interesting, and useful? Great – turn it into a slide.

Make sure your content is simple and straightforward:

  • Keep each slide focused on one idea
  • Only use graphics and images that support your messages
  • Rewrite content to make it self-explanatory

2. Convert ebooks and whitepapers

To really expand the reach of your ebooks and whitepapers, turn them into slides. Just use the above checklist to make sure they are good to go.

3. Tell stories

Put together a new slide based on customer success stories or use cases. Stories resonate with readers, so if they’re compelling, your slide could end up generating quite a few leads.

4. Add contact info and social links

At the end of your slide, add a page with contact information – an email, website address, and/or phone number – and links to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. accounts.

5. Include a call-to-action

If people like what you created, give them a good reason to contact you. Add a slide that explains what you do, how you can help them, and why they should contact you.

6. Double check for keywords and phrases

Search engines analyze the content in your slides when generating search results. Double check that your slides integrate the keywords and phrases you want to be found for.

7. Allow sharing

When you add your slide to SlideShare, you can choose to keep your slide public or private. Make it public so people can find it, view it, comment on it, and share it.

8. Provide an embed code

If you are comfortable letting other people use your content on their website or in their blog, choose to provide an embed code.

Do you use SlideShare? If yes, what content has done the best? If not, are you convinced you should start using it?

Image courtesy of SlideShare

B2B Marketing Budgets Are on the Rise in 2013—Is Yours?

February 6th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If your small business markets products or services to other businesses, you may want to consider boosting your marketing budget for 2013 if you haven’t already. A new survey from BtoB Online found that nearly half of B2B companies are increasing their marketing spending for this year.

BtoB’s 2013 Outlook: Marketing Priorities and Plans report polled over 300 B2B marketers and found:

What are marketers spending?

Some 48.7 percent of marketers say they will increase their budgets this year, up from 40.1 percent last year. About 41 percent will keep their budgets the same, down from 48.4 percent last year. Meanwhile, 9.5 percent will cut their budgets, down from 10.8 percent in 2012.

Where are they spending it?

Some 67.2 percent of marketers say they will increase their spending on digital marketing this year. Of those, 70.1 percent will spend more on website development, 61.9 percent on email marketing, 56 percent on social media, 55.8 percent on online video and 52.5 percent on search.

In addition, 72.2 percent of B2B marketers say content marketing is part of their marketing plan. The most popular platforms for content marketing are websites (93 percent), social media (65.4 percent), print (47.5 percent) and mobile (20.9 percent).

What do marketers hope to achieve?

B2B marketers report their number-one marketing goal this year is demand generation/customer acquisition, cited by 69.3 percent. The second most important goal, increasing brand awareness, was way behind, cited by 17.6 percent. In third place: customer retention, cited by 13.1 percent.

Who’s going mobile?

More B2B marketers are integrating mobile marketing, but there’s still a way to go. Some 32.7 percent of respondents say they currently use mobile in their marketing strategy, while 35.5 percent say they plan to spend more on mobile marketing this year.

What are they automating?

Better aligning marketing and sales is a key goal for B2B marketers this year. Some 52.3 percent say they will spend money on sales enablement platforms, while 50.8 percent plan to invest in marketing automation systems.

What old-fashioned marketing method still matters?

It’s not all digital and mobile. For many B2B companies, events are still crucial to their marketing strategy. In fact, some 41.5 percent of survey respondents say they will increase their event budgets for 2013.

Editor’s Note: Network Solutions offers an easy way to build a website for mobile devices in mere minutes: goMobi™, powered by dotMobi.

Image by Flickr user Andy Roberts Images (Creative Commons)

What Marketing Strategies Are You Spending on in 2013?

January 22nd, 2013 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

How does your small business’s marketing budget for 2013 compare to that of your competitors? A new survey by StrongMail has some insights. Overall, businesses are bullish on marketing for 2013, with a total of 89 percent saying they will either increase or maintain their level of marketing spending in the coming year. (Some 45 percent will increase their marketing budgets and 44 percent will keep them the same.)

Email marketing, social media and mobile marketing will be the main focus of investment this year. More than half (55.5 percent) of marketing executives report plans to spend more on email marketing campaigns in 2013; 51.8 percent say they will spend more on social media; 42.8 percent say they will increase spending on mobile marketing; and 39.8 percent will boost spending on search marketing.

Two-thirds of the companies in the survey report they will spend more on mobile marketing programs such as mobile apps (39 percent) and SMS alerts (21 percent). Overall, mobile marketing spending will increase by 11 percent compared to 2012.

When it comes to social media, where are marketers putting most of their efforts? Facebook dominates, with 60 percent of businesses saying Facebook is the most valuable social media channel for them. Twitter and YouTube ranked second and third, respectively. Google and Pinterest were somewhere in the middle, cited by 31 percent of marketers, while Yelp, Instagram and LinkedIn brought up the rear.

Email is a strong area of growth for marketers, who plan to use it for a variety of purposes this year. While at one point some experts were predicting that social media would make email obsolete, marketers are figuring out email’s value in growing their social media presence and customer engagement. That’s reflected in the 46 percent who say they will spend more on emails to drive growth to their social media channels, such as Facebook or Twitter. In addition, 38.8 percent will spend more on promotional emails, and 34.7 percent will spend more on email newsletters.

Where aren’t marketers spending? Direct mail, trade show participation and traditional advertising will take the biggest hits. Some 37.4 percent report they plan to cut spending on direct mail, 33.6 percent will cut back on trade show spending and 23 percent will decrease spending on advertising in 2013.

You can view a PDF of the full survey results here.

Image by Flickr user Jay Freshuk (Creative Commons)

Are You Marketing to Asian Americans?

January 11th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

What’s the fastest-growing consumer group you may not be targeting yet? The answer might surprise you. In the last 10 years, the Asian American population has grown at double-digit rates in 49 of 50 states, according to Nielsen’s State of the Asian American Consumer Q3 2012 report. That’s good news for marketers, since many Asian American consumers are affluent, well-educated, tech-savvy and have lots of purchasing power.

The Asian American population has increased by more than 50 percent since 2000, to approximately 18.2 million, and is projected to reach 20.9 million in the next five years. Asian Americans come from many different countries of origin, including China, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. The largest overall group is Chinese Americans, who make up 22 percent of the Asian American population.

The Asian American population is actually growing a little bit faster than the Hispanic population in the U.S. However, unlike growth in the Hispanic population, which is primarily fueled by babies being born in the U.S., currently growth in the Asian American population is fueled by immigration. In 2010, about 430,000 new immigrants, or 36 percent of the total immigrant population, was from Asian nations, and in the last 10 years, 3.6 million Asian immigrants came to the United States

What are some demographic characteristics of this population? Overall, Asian Americans skew younger than the average American (41 years vs. 45 years) and their household size is slightly larger than average (3.1 vs. 2.6). Adult, native-born Asians skew much younger than adult immigrants (median age of 30 vs. 44).

The median income for Asian American households is higher than average ($63,420 vs. $49,580 in 2012). More than one-fourth (28 percent) of Asian American households have incomes of more than $100K; among overall households, only 18 percent boast this income level.

What are the most effective ways to market to Asian Americans? The number of Asian media outlets increased by more than 1,000 percent from 1999 to 2010, so there’s no shortage of options. However, one of the best (and most affordable) ways to reach this market is online, since Asian Americans have high tech adoption rates.

Specifically, Asian Americans spend an average of 80 hours online each month; view 3,600 Web pages monthly (1,000 pages more than any other demographic group) and visit computer and consumer electronics sites 36 percent more often than the average population. Using search engine optimization and online advertising targeted to these consumers are effective methods to reach this growing market.

Image by Flickr user Cea (Creative Commons)

10 Ways to Stay Competitive in 2013

January 9th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business doing all it can be to stay competitive in 2013 and beyond? The latest Citibank Small Business Pulse survey spotlighted 10 actions the most successful small business owners take to keep their companies competitive. Are you doing them?

1: Do your research and get educated. Some 88 percent of small businesses surveyed say they regularly work to stay up to date and knowledgeable about their industry and changes in the market.

2: Work hard and do what needs to get done. Successful small business owners are dedicated—so much so that more than half (53 percent) say they didn’t take a vacation last summer.

3: Update or upgrade technology. Nearly 70 percent of respondents say they recently updated or upgraded their computer systems, and 51 percent have made a major change to their business technology.

4: Know your clients. More than two-thirds (67 percent) say they are spending more “face time” with customers to keep their businesses ahead of the pack. Such client relationships also help entrepreneurs stay on top of industry and market trends.

5: Keep a close eye on cash and budgets. Many small businesses say they are keeping cash in reserves and spending cautiously. No wonder: Some 58 percent admit that cash flow issues have been a major challenge in the past few years. However, 73 percent feel they are doing a good job of managing their cash effectively.

6: Be involved. Small business owners are taking part in their business and local communities: 51 percent have built a network of suppliers and partner companies, and 47 percent say they have become more active in the community and local organizations.

7. Be prepared. If another economic downturn occurred, 80 percent of survey respondents say they could handle it. They’ve learned from the recent recession, in which many of them took steps such as running leaner, cutting operating costs and renegotiating contracts.

8: Plan ahead. Some 27 percent of small business owners say they can predict their cash situation four to six months ahead, which enables them to plan for the future.

9: Stick with your aspirations. Despite the challenges of entrepreneurship, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of business owners polled say they are living their dream; three-fourths say they would do it all over again.

10: Market, market, market. More than half (53 percent) of small business owners say they’ve upped social media and online advertising in the last year, while 54 percent improved their websites and search engine presence.

Image by Flickr user Generationbass (Creative Commons)

7 Quick Tips to Optimize Your Content for Search

January 2nd, 2013 ::

You create content for various reasons: to build awareness, gain thought leadership, demonstrate expertise, and convert Web visitors into leads and then into customers. Since you’re spending time on content creation, be sure it is optimized for search to make it super easy for potential customers to find you.

Here’s what to do:

1. Conduct a search

Even though you are 99 percent sure your target market uses specific keywords and phrases, double-check. You might find additional ones you hadn’t thought of.

2. Integrate keywords

Don’t just add the keywords to the body of the content; add them to titles (early in the title is better) and use them in links back to landing or other Web pages instead of “read more.”

3. Optimize images

Because search engines cannot read text embedded on an image, use keywords in the file names and alt text, tag them (like you would for a blog post), and include a description or caption when you can. This is true for images in any digital content – blog posts, white papers, ebooks and downloadable marketing collateral.

4. Optimize video

This is pretty much the same as optimizing images. Use a keyword-rich title and add tags, but when it comes to the description, focus less on keywords and more on a compelling message that will convince people to watch your video. Add a link to your website at the end.

5. Add to executive summaries

When you publish long-form content like ebooks, white papers and how-to guides, write an executive summary, add keywords and use it to publicize your content on your website, in press releases and newsletters, in blog posts, etc.

6. Use on Web pages

Add those keywords and phrases to page titles and URLs where the content is housed, whether it’s a landing page or service or product page.

7. Optimize for social

Look up hashtags on Twitter and keywords on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and any other social sites you use to ensure your content will be easily found once you share it there.

As you optimize your content, just be sure you don’t go crazy and overstuff with keywords. Search engines don’t like that.

Image by Flickr user mRio (Creative Commons)

 

 

 

Cross-Channel Marketing: How the Nation’s Top Retailers Do It

December 31st, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you a brick-and-mortar retailer who also has a website to sell your products? Wouldn’t it be great if you could get more customers shopping at both your physical store and your website? You can. Just learn a lesson from what some of the nation’s most successful retailers are doing to market their products in multiple channels.

Internet Retailer recently examined the habits of some of the nation’s top retail chains and here are the most common tactics they found:

Promote in-store only discounts or deals on your website or via email marketing. For instance, you can email a coupon good only in your store (but include links to your website so customers can shop both ways).

Offer online ordering with in-store pickup. This appeals to customers who are in a rush to get the product or don’t want to pay for shipping. More retailers are offering shorter time frames for in-store pickup, such as Staples, which promises to have shoppers’ orders ready in two hours. If you make such a promise, be sure you have the manpower to fulfill it.

Offer online ordering and in-store payment. Some consumers still don’t feel comfortable using credit cards online or prefer to pay in person for other reasons. You can attract those users by enabling them to reserve a product online, then pick it up and pay in-store.

Do a subtle upsell. Apple, for instance, urges customers to shop online but then come into a store to pick up the product and get “personal assistance.” If your product, like Apple’s, is one where customers could benefit from additional assistance, this approach can get them to come in and spend more in-store than they might have online.

If you’re offering the pickup or pay-in-store option, make sure the area where customers go to pick up their products is merchandised attractively. For example, you could display items related to commonly ordered products (such as cords or accessories if you sell electronics) or impulse buys such as gift wrap or small-ticket items.

Make sure your website has multiple ways for users to find your physical store/s, such as a map and directions, address, and a phone number to contact you. Also make certain that information about days and hours you’re open is prominently displayed.

Increasingly, consumers expect a seamless experience that allows them to shop how and when they want, so make sure your website encourages shopping in any possible sales channel.

Image by Flickr user Jamison_Judd (Creative Commons)

 

The World Is Going Mobile. Is Your Business Following?

December 17th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

This holiday season is providing hard-to-ignore proof that increasingly, consumers are turning to mobile devices for functions like search and shopping. Recently, eMarketer did a roundup of some mobile device stats that should get you thinking. Here’s some of what they found:

  • The desktop isn’t obsolete yet. U.S. consumers on average still spend twice as much time on desktop computers than on mobile devices.
  • However, mobile devices are catching up fast. The average time spent on mobile devices is growing a whopping 14 percent faster than time spent on desktops.
  • In fact, if that rate of growth remains the same, eMarketer projects that time spent on mobile could equal time spent on desktops in just a few years.

What are consumers doing on mobile devices? In ever-larger numbers, they’re surfing the Internet. The eMarketer article cites data from Net Marketshare that says tablets and smartphones accounted for more than 10 percent of global browsing traffic in October for the first time ever in October. Net Marketshare notes that this figure is likely an underestimation since it didn’t include users who accessed the Internet via mobile apps.

Net Marketshare’s data is global, but in nations where smartphones are widely used, the growth in mobile Internet access is even faster. According to Chitika data cited by eMarketer, some 28 percent of Web traffic in North America came from mobile devices as of June 2012.

What does this growth mean to your business? If you haven’t yet invested in making your website mobile-friendly, or if you’ve treated this activity as an afterthought, it’s time to get with the program. While in the old days you could think about designing your website for desktop first and then stripping it down for mobile, now you’ve got to consider how users interact with your site differently on desktops, smartphones and tablets.

Also keep in mind consumers are increasingly expecting to be able to choose between a mobile-optimized website and a mobile app depending on their needs and moods—so if you haven’t thought about an app yet, it may be time (provided, of course, there’s some business value that you can offer customers).

I’m not saying you should ignore your website—it’s still the foundation on which all online activity is based, and for right now, it’s still where consumers spend most of their online time. But that’s changing faster than you think. Is your business ready?

Image by Flickr user p_a_h (Creative Commons)

 

 

How Local Search Can Boost Your Business

December 14th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If your business relies on local customers from the neighborhood and surrounding areas, then you need to know about the importance of local search to consumers. According to a new survey by YP, local search is becoming widespread, and shifts in how consumers rely on how local search will affect businesses now and going forward.

YP discovered that local searches (that is, searching the Web for local businesses) is a way of life. In fact, four out of 10 consumers in the survey say they use local search once a day; two-thirds use it three to four times a week.

The study divided consumers into those with PCs, those with PCs and Smartphones, and those with PCs, Smartphones and Tablets. The more devices someone has, the more frequently they are to use local search. Those with PCs only average about five local searches a week. For those who also have Smartphones, the volume of local search nearly triples, to 13.5 local searches per week. Consumers who have all of the devices perform nearly 21 local searches per week.

The most frequently searched categories relevant to small business were entertainment, restaurants/dining, contractors, retail stores, automotive, professional services, personal and fitness, financial services and healthcare.

While “local” is kind of a vague term, the survey tried to pin it down a bit more and found that for most categories, most consumers actually buy from businesses that are within 15 minutes of their home or work. If you have a product or service that’s purchased less frequently (such as automotive repair or financial services), customers are more likely to be willing to drive farther, which means your “local” base might expand a bit more.

Users who use local search at least daily on a regular basis were defined as “avid” local searchers. These consumers were more likely than others to own both tablets and smartphones. They were also more likely to:

  • engage in behavior such as “showrooming” (looking up information about products in a retail store on their mobile devices while in-store),
  • engage in mcommerce (buying products on their mobile devices),
  • use mobile shopping apps and
  • click on mobile ads.

As tablet and smartphone use grow, the report predicts, regular users’ search behavior will start to resemble that of avid searchers—so catering to avid searchers now can prepare your business for the future.

Image by Flickr user zabdiel (Creative Commons)

 

 

How Can You Motivate Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers to Buy?

December 12th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

The holiday retail season is heading into the home stretch, but there are still plenty of Americans who haven’t checked off every item on their gift lists yet. How can you attract them and what motivates them to buy? The PeriscopeIQ Second Annual Holiday Shopping Survey has some useful insights about what works and what doesn’t.

QR Codes: So far, QR codes on ads, point-of-sale
items and price tags haven’t lived up to their potential, reports the PeriscopeIQ study, because nearly
three-fifths (59 percent) of shoppers don’t know what the codes are or what they
do. Fewer than one in five (18 percent) have ever used a QR code in
a retail environment, even though 60 percent own smartphones with built-in
scanners or apps. “We believe QR codes will continue to evolve but the
actual 2D code will be transformed by a newer, more efficient technology in
the near future,” said Mohamed Latib, COO of
PeriscopeIQ.

Working Shoppers:
 Up to 40 percent of survey respondents admit to shopping online at work during the
holidays and year-round, and more than a quarter of
those polled shop more than 15 minutes daily on the job.

Gassing Up: Some 40 percent say their willingness to drive long distances for a bargain will be impacted by gas prices. And for shoppers in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, gas availability itself may still be an issue. Consumers’ awareness of gas prices is good news for ecommerce sites that let them shop from home.

Free Shipping:
 If you do have an ecommerce site, know that 95 percent of respondents say free shipping is a major factor in whether they buy from a particular site or not.

Smartphones Mean Smarter Shoppers:
 Over two-fifths (41 percent) of customers say they are pre-shopping online before going into stores, up from 27 percent last year. A smaller number (33 percent) check prices at other stores or at websites while in-store, and about 36 percent take pictures of items with their phones in-store, whether to get feedback from friends or family, or to do comparison shopping.

Waiting on Mobile Wallets: While mobile wallet options such as Google Wallet or Passbook have captured headlines, these technologies are still in limited use. Fewer than 5 percent of respondents say they use mobile wallet technologies.

Black, White and Read All Over:
 When looking for product information, sales and other information about shopping, almost
three-fifths (58 percent) of consumers say they still rely primarily on print magazines and newspapers.
In comparison, only 24 percent said they look at online reviews of products for information before shopping.

“With more than half of our respondents equipped with smartphones, the
multi-channel world is a boon to holiday shoppers,” said Dr. Pawan Singh, CEO and Chief Scientist at PeriscopeIQ. “But it can also be an
advantage to retailers who address physical, mobile and online customer
experiences with equal diligence.”

Image by Flickr user RetailByRyan95 (Creative Commons)