Today I went to the Ohio Marketing Summit hosted by IC SUMMITS. It was great to hear marketing case studies and insights from large and small Ohio brands. My biggest takeaway was the importance of communicating with your customer rather than talking at them. Speak their language. An awesome brand will encourage consumer conversations on social media. I appreciated how Bridget from Great Lakes Brewing Company spoke about how they embrace how passionate their customers are about craft beer. Whether that’s a positive or negative passion, they use their social playbook to engage with their audience online, always in their brand voice.
I always like to write down and share my key takeaways from conferences that I attend:
Word of mouth, contagious marketing, even in the digital world, remains strong.
Hold up a mirror when deciding on something. Does this fit with who your brand is?
Market research, surveying your customer, understanding what they respond to is so valuable.
Great brands come from great strategy.
Edit to amplify.
The peanut butter approach – Spreading everything equally everywhere isn’t always the best approach to marketing
You don’t need to chase a shiny new object or new shiny marketing trend.
Status quo is the enemy of innovation.
Instead of buying expensive commercial time during a TV show, target fans of that show on Facebook. It’s a better use of your budget and it’s more trackable
Tell a story to executives rather show them the raw data. Give them an overview of if things are good, bad, or okay.
Sometimes you need to switch your strategy and benchmarks from focusing on conversions to brand awareness. You might need to first educate your audience on who you are.
Adept Marketing presented case studies that showed how they looked at a client’s existing data, redesigned their landing pages based on that data and saw an increase in conversions.
Don’t make your customers ask. Answer their questions beforehand. Add FAQ answers to landing pages. They used data from the website’s Live Chat feature to learn that customers frequently asked about price and bulk discounts so they added that information to the landing page.
Heat maps can validate your hypothesis with data. For example, if you think most people don’t scroll down to see the bottom of your webpage, you can prove that with data by looking at a heat map from a service like CrazyEgg.
You already have data. Look at it. Make a hypothesis. Test it. Redesign the user experience based on what you learned.
Don’t talk at your customer. You should be communicating with your customer.
Over scripting creates a cold response and inauthenticity
Your app will never be perfect. Try to release an MVP (minimally viable product) asap to get user data and feedback to grow from.
Great Lakes Brewing encourages and responds to all online conversations. They embrace how passionate consumers are. They created a social playbook for engaging online in their brand voice.
Tonight I went to a presentation called Social Media Strategy For Small Businesses at Haven Collective. I heard about the event from the Robles Design email newsletter that highlights cool upcoming marketing-related events for entrepreneurs in Columbus. This event peaked my interest because I always like hearing from other social media pros and learning from their expertise. (If you’re not learning, what are you even doing, bro?) Carissa Richardson led the event. She owns her own company Kindred Strategy, after working at different agencies and brands for 13+ years.
She talked about the difference of organic and paid posts on social media. She made the excellent point that organic posts won’t grow your following. You need to put money behind your top performing organic posts and show those to a more narrow audience, such as a custom or lookalike audience (which is more targeted than using the Interests targeting.) I like to boost the previous week’s top performing post. This statement struck me because too often business owners think the goal of social media is to grow their following and that will happen if you post organically. False. You should strategically target your posts and invest in paid social media.
Carissa briefly talked about engaging with your audience and how important it is to respond. With that being said, she addressed the elephant in the room: what to do when, (not if) someone leaves a negative comment. She suggested to post a canned response that asks the person to take the conversation offline, like “We’re so sorry to hear you had a less than ideal experience with us. Please email email@example.com so we can discuss this further.” She made the point that this sort of safety net policy in place can help leadership folks feel comfortable posting on social media. I would argue that posting a copy-and-paste response each time someone complains would fan the fire. It’s like if you called a company to complain about a service and instead of reaching a human you only got the automated voice. You’d get more mad. I think you should empower whoever is managing your social media to customize that response to address what they wrote. I’m still advocating that you take the conversation offline and follow that best practice, but I think canned responses make a brand feel robotic and can aggravate fans.
My favorite part of the presentation were Carissa’s steps to creating a social media strategy
Define your social media goals. If you’re looking to grow your business your social media goal might be to increase your website traffic or grow your brand awareness and increase your post’s impressions and reach.
Audit your current social media channels. Look out for duplicate pages, old accounts and take inventory of how many followers each account has.
Build audience personas. Use existing data to create a fictional character of your customer. What are their needs? Pain points? Values?
Choose your platforms. Check Google Analytics to see what social platforms are currently working to refer traffic to your website.
Competitor Inventory. What are they doing? What can you do better?
Establish your brand voice. This also involves creating your social media mission statement which is something like “BRAND creates social content to BENEFIT for AUDIENCE.” Example: “Volunteers of America creates social media content to help thrifty shoppers save money.”
Develop a content strategy. A good idea is to post 1/3 Engaging 1/3 Curated and 1/3 Promotional. For curated content, keep a list of websites, blogs, authors who fit with your brand and subscribe to their newsletter. I like to set up Google Alerts for keywords related to the brand.
Create a measurement plan. How will you track your success? I like to measure weekly analytics and one of my most important metric is looking at what post performed the best that week. That influences my future content.
Yesterday, I went to a digital marketing conference in Columbus called interact19. I’ve been to several conferences before and I can honestly say this was one of the best I’ve attended. Every presentation and speaker was filled with actionable knowledge that I could take back and apply to my workplace. So many of the tips were practical and cost-effective, requiring just time and skill.
I’m starting a new job later this month and in my interview, my future manager asked if I knew anything about Voice Search and I said I wasn’t that familiar with it and needed to do more research about it. Well at this conference, two of the speakers talked in-depth about the state of voice search, how to use it and where it’s going in the future. Now, I have practical information I can tell my new boss about how we should be using voice search. By attending, I learned something I can apply in my job and I can show that I’m staying up to date on marketing trends and best practices.
I definitely would recommend this conference and want to go back next year. I’m grateful to Volunteers of America for making it possible for me to attend.
I want to share what I took away from each session at yesterday’s conference: