Marketing challenges: how to beat the 5 bottlenecks

Fast technological development has empowered companies with an array of SaaS tools, helping break down the traditional barriers between business and consumer. If used effectively, marketers can deliver exceptional customer experiences – easily and profitably.

What are we on about? Marketing automation of course!

Only 51% of businesses are using marketing automation – what’s causing this roadblock? It’s certainly not the ROI: triggered messages drive 624% more conversions than batch-and-blast emails (Blueshift Benchmark Report, 2016).

If you find your challenges overwhelming, you need to take a step back and:

  • plan ahead with realism
  • invest your time wisely
  • adopt technology that helps you reach your customers

Challenge #1 – data

Data can be a stumbling block for businesses. It can either bring strategies to fruition or stop them in their tracks. The #1 priority for worldwide marketers, according to eMarketer, is to generate traffic and leads. However, this ultimately hinges on the data processes adopted by your company – so it’s crucial to get to grips with your collection, enrichment and management of data.

Whether you’re a B2C or B2B, your data will tell a story. Extracting insight is a fundamental practice that will contribute to the success of your marketing efforts.

Single customer view (SCV) is a mystifying term that needs to be addressed. Commonly thought of as a product, SCV is actually an optimum flow of data that informs marketing, enables sales and yields analytics. It’s the most important process in business and heavily relies on having the right technology in-house.

SCV could be the sum of a customer’s behavioral, transactional and demographic data. These data sources provide complete and actionable insight, meaning you can treat customers as individuals in your marketing campaigns. As a result, they’re likelier to engage with you and buy from you.

Challenge #2 – technology

Technology innovation is shaping the digital landscape, and with it, the customer-brand relationship. Consumers are now the decision-makers when it comes down to communication.

Those who fail to move with the times will be left in the lurch – if brands don’t adapt to customers’ communication preferences, they’re as good as out of businesses.

Aspirational marketers must adopt the right tools to meet the demands of their audiences. And while there are many SaaS options available, it’s wise for businesses to work with a powerful platform that plays well with others – where native products, integrations and widgets work together under one roof.

Today, brands can no longer use the ‘technology gap’ as a legitimate excuse for delivering poor customer experiences. The development of marketing automation systems has empowered businesses to be champions of personalization and one-to-one communications. These data-triggered messages deliver twice the number of leads than bulk emailing. Blitzing contacts with a shower of emails simply doesn’t cut it anymore! Plus, the market offering is so plentiful that there’s an option to suit every budget.

Challenge #3 – time

It can be hard to break the routine and take time to focus on your wider strategic goals. As marketers, we often get bogged down in day-to-day tasks that need to be churned out; in doing so, we neglect the things that matter most.

79% of marketing leads never convert into sales, for example; poor lead nurturing efforts are to blame for this, and the root cause is a lack of time.

Marketing automation is the answer; making time to implement it means saving more time in the long run. You also make more money – 75% of marketers swear by automation as a revenue-generating tactic.

These winning automation practices can help you save time and make serious money:

  • Automating social media posts can save you around 6 hours per week – time better spent elsewhere!
  • Dynamic content variations in email deliver a 20% uplift in sales
  • Businesses that automate lead nurturing with timely emails see a 10%+ increase in revenue
  • It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, so implementing an aftersales program is top on the agenda

Challenge #4 – resource

Not having enough resources in-house can hold you back from kickstarting your automation journey.

Many marketers prioritize their everyday tasks, neglecting proper time to focus on process improvements or alternative solutions that will make life easier. This can compromise long-term strategy and weaken marketing effectiveness to the benefit of the competition.

If you’re familiar with this scenario, you’re not alone.

40% of UK marketers surveyed in an eMarketer report said limits in resource hinder their email marketing automation. [1] This was the highest response rate for any given reason, which included a lack of strategy and budget restraints. Likewise, in an Econsultancy report, 60% of B2B marketers cited resource as the most significant challenge impeding marketing automation. [2]

Whether you want to create a customer lifecycle program, or need interim campaign management support, outsourcing your automation efforts means you can hit the ground running. After all, there are people out there – like us – building automation programs day in, day out.

And while this alleviates your resource constraints, your best brains get the chance to strategize and plan more programs. This will boost your long-term performance and ROI.

Challenge #5 – expertise

The surge in digital channels means that marketers need to leverage the right expertise to utilize their technology effectively.

According to a study of marketers conducted by the Digital Marketing Institute, strategy and planning emerged as the leading skills gap among US and UK organizations. Plus, only 8% of those who were tested on digital marketing competency achieved entry level skills! [3]

Ambitious marketers limited to in-house resources can easily get ahead of themselves and end up with too much on their plates. A whole host of things can suffer as a result: the learning curve, productivity, strategic planning, to name but a few. Not every marketer knows everything – and that’s okay! It’s important to remember that each knowledge gap you encounter is an opportunity to be seized.

If there’s a limit to your expertise – and this is preventing you from realizing your strategy – then it’s high time you considered outsourcing knowledge. A touch of marketing know-how is sometimes all you need to take your business to the next level.

Whether it’s practical advice from a digital marketing specialist, strategic guidance from an account manager, or a full-blown digital consultancy session – the learnings are there to take away and build upon.

When sourcing expertise, don’t forget to:

 

For the key takeaways on how to beat these five marketing challenges, download our handy cheatsheet here.

 

[1] eMarketer, Challenges of Marketing Automation According to Email Marketers Worldwide [Chart], 2017

[2] Econsultancy, State of B2B Marketing Automation, 2017

[3] Missing the Mark: the digital marketing skills gap in the USA, UK and Ireland, 2016

The post Marketing challenges: how to beat the 5 bottlenecks appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

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Developing Innovative Content: What You Need to Know

Posted by richardbaxterseo

A few weeks ago, I attended a breakfast meeting with a bunch of entrepreneurs in the technology, space (yes, space travel), software and engineering industry. I felt so blown away by the incredible talent of the speakers. You know, there are people out there building things, like private satellite networks, bio printing facilities, quantum computers and self-driving cars. I was completely transfixed by the incredibly future facing, innovative and exceptionally inventive group in front of me. I also immediately wished I’d worked a little harder in my twenties.

After the presentations, one of the questions that came up during the Q&A session was: “what’s the next big thing?”

Wow. Have you ever thought about “the next big thing”?

Part of the magic of predicting innovation is that it’s really, really hard to get right. Those that can accurately predict the future (in my humble opinion) are those that tend to understand how people will respond to an idea once they’re exposed to it. I think predicting this is a very special skill indeed.

Then again, we’re expected to be able to predict the outcome of our marketing, all the time. While predicting it is one thing, making it happen it is a whole different ball game.

Competition for the attention of our customers is getting tougher

In our industry, when you really boil down what it is we do, we’re fixing things, making things, or we’re communicating things.

Most of the time, we’re building content that communicates: ideas, stories, news and guidance–you get the idea. The problem is, no matter which vertical you work in, we’re all competing for something: the attention of our customers.

As our customers get smarter, that competition is getting tougher and tougher.

The most successful marketers in our industry all have a special trait in common. They are good at finding new ways to communicate ideas. Take a look at classic presentations
like this from Ross Hudgens to see just how powerful it can be to observe, imitate and develop an idea with astounding viral reach.

I particularly enjoy the idea of taking a piece of content and making improvements, be it through design, layout or simply updating what’s there. I like it because it’s actually pretty easy to do, and there’s growing evidence of it happening all over the Internet. Brands are taking a second look at how they’re developing their content to appeal to a wider audience, or to appeal to a viral audience (or both!).

For example; take a look at this beautiful
travel guide to Vietnam (credit: travelindochina.com) or this long form guide to commercial property insurance (credit: Towergate Insurance / Builtvisible.com) for examples of brands in competitive verticals developing their existing content. In verticals where ordinary article content has been done to death, redeveloping the medium itself feels like an important next step.

Innovative isn’t the same thing as technical

I’ve felt for a long time that there’s a conflict between our interpretation of “innovative” and “technical”. As I’ve written before, those that really understand how the web works are at a huge advantage.
Learn how it’s built, and you’ll find yourself able to make great things happen on your own, simply by learning and experimenting.

In my opinion though, you don’t have to be able to learn how to build your own site or be a developer. All you have to do is learn the vocabulary and build a broad understanding of how things work in a browser. I actually think we all need to be doing this, right now. Why?

We need more innovation in content marketing

I think our future depends on our industry’s ability to innovate. Of course, you still need to have your basics in place. We’ll always be
T-Shaped marketers, executing a bit of technical SEO here, a bit of content strategy there. But, we’re all SEOs and we know we need to acquire links, build audiences and generally think big about our ambitions. When your goal is to attract new followers, fans, links, and garner shares in their thousands, you need to do something pretty exciting to attract attention to yourself.

The vocabulary of content development

I’ve designed this post to be a primer on more advanced features found in innovative content development. My original MozCon 2014 presentation was designed to educate on some of the technologies we should be aware of in our content development projects and the process we follow to build things. We’ll save process for another post (shout in the comments if you think that would be useful!) and focus on the “what” for now.

At Builtvisible, we’re working hard on extending our in-house content development capabilities. We learn through sharing amazing examples with each other. Our policy is to always attempt to deconstruct how something might have been developed, that way, we’re learning. Some of the things we see on the web are amazing–they deserve so much respect for the talent and the skills that surface the content.

Here are some examples that I think demonstrate some of the most useful types of approach for content marketers. I hope that these help as much as they’ve helped us, and I hope you can form a perspective of what innovative features look like in more advanced content development. Of course, do feel welcome to share your own examples in the comments, too! The more, the merrier!

The story of EBoy

eBoy: the graphic design firm whose three co-founders and sole members are widely regarded as the “godfathers” of pixel art.

The consistent styling (as well as the beautifully written content) is excellent. Technically speaking, perhaps the most clever and elegant feature is the zoom of the image positioned on the Z axis in a <canvas> container (more on this in a moment).

An event listener (jQuery) helps size the canvas appropriate to the browser window size and the z axis position shifts on scroll to create an elegant zoom effect.


View the example here:

http://www.theverge.com/2014/6/17/5803850/pixel-perfect-the-story-of-eboy.

<canvas> is an HTML element which can be used to draw graphics using scripting (usually JavaScript). This can, for instance, be used to draw graphs, make photo composition or simple animations.

Colorizing the past

Take a look at
Pixart Printing’s Guide to Colourizing the Past (credit: Pixartprinting / Builtvisible.com) for a clever example of <canvas> in use. Here’s one of the images (tip, mouse-over and click the image):

The colorization feature takes advantage of the power of the canvas element. In this case, the color version of the image is applied to the canvas as a background image, with the black and white version on a layer above. Clicking (or touching, on mobile) erases portions of the top image, revealing the color version underneath.

Chrome Experiments: Globe

Globe is “simple” global data visualization of the Earth’s population growth over a set range of dates. The 3d visualization based in
webGL: a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 3D graphics and 2D graphics within any compatible web browser without the use of plug-ins.


View the example here:

http://globe.chromeexperiments.com/.

WebGL is a really exciting, emerging option available to content marketers who might want to experiment with immersive experiences or highly interactive, simulated environments.

Some of my
favourite WebGL examples include Hello Racer and Tweetopia, a 3d Twitter Hastag visualizer.

If you’d like to see more examples of webGL in action, take a look at
Chrome Experiments. Don’t worry, this stuff works in the latest versions of Firefox and IE, too.

Polygon’s PS4 Review

You might have seen me cover this long form concept over at Builtvisible. Polygon’s Playstation 4 review is a fully featured “long form” review of Sony’s much loved gaming machine. The bit that I love is the SVG visualizations:

“What’s SVG?”, I hear you ask!

SVG is super-fast, sharp rendering of vector images inside the browser. Unlike image files (like .jpg, .gif, .png), SVG is XML based, light on file size, loads quickly and adjusts to responsive browser widths perfectly. SVG’s XML based schema lends itself to some interesting manipulation for stunning, easy to implement effects.

View Polygon’s example here: http://www.polygon.com/a/ps4-review

That line tracing animation you see is known as
path animation. Essentially the path attribute in the SVG’s XML can be manipulated in the DOM with a little jQuery. What you’ll get is a pretty snazzy animation to keep your users eyes fixated on your content and yet another nice little effect to keep eyeballs engaged.

My favourite example of SVG execution is Lewis Lehe’s
Gridlocks and Bottlenecks. Gridlocks is a AngularJS, d3.js based visualization of the surprisingly technical and oft-misunderstood “gridlock” and “bottleneck” events in road traffic management.

It’s also very cool:

View the example here:http://setosa.io/blog/2014/09/02/gridlock/.

I have a short vocabulary list that I expect our team to be able to explain (certainly these questions come up in an interview with us!). I think that if you can explain what these things are, as a developing content marketer you’re way ahead of the curve:

  • HTML5
  • Responsive CSS (& libraries)
  • CSS3 (& frameworks)
  • JavaScript (& frameworks: jQuery, MooTools, Jade, Handlebars)
  • JSON (api post and response data)
  • webGL
  • HTML5 audio & video
  • SVG
  • HTML5 History API manipulation with pushState
  • Infinite Scroll

Want to learn more?

I’ve
amassed a series of videos on web development that I think marketers should watch. Not necessarily to learn web development, but definitely to be able to describe what it is you’d like your own content to do. My favourite: I really loved Wes Bos’s JS + HTML5 Video + Canvas tutorial. Amazing.

Innovation in content is such a huge topic but I realize I’ve run out of space (this is already a 1,400 word post) for now.

In my follow up, I’d like to talk about how to plan your content when it’s a little more extensive than just an article, give you some tips on how to work with (or find!) a developer, and how to make the most of every component in your content to get the most from your marketing efforts.

Until then, I’d love to see your own examples of great content and questions in the comments!

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