While I’ve reviewed what’s happened in 2015 in my recent posts, it’s time for me to look ahead, and see what I need to plan for this year.
I admit that last year, I had big plans. I knew that I wanted to sample some new conferences so that I could have some new experiences and meet new people. I also knew that I wanted to try to launch my own consulting company. Additionally, I knew I needed to learn something new to enhance my skills. I achieved all these goals on some level, so that’s good. However, it’s more difficult this year. If last year was a transitional year, this seems to be more of a transitional year than before. Last year, I had some direction on what I wanted–and needed–to do. This year, I really don’t know where to go, and that’s problematic.
While I earned a mini-MBA in digital marketing last year, I don’t feel strong enough to take on a content marketing job. I could certainly try, but most of the job listings need someone with a stronger marketing background than a digital background. While I understand marketing concepts, my experience fails me on that front. I’m open to taking more coursework in something to enhance my job seeking opportunities, but…in what? Two avenues that I’ve considered is learning more about Agile/Scrum, and the other is looking at getting a certificate in localization practices. I think both would be beneficial, and are things that I’m interested in, but I don’t know how much they would actually help me in the job market where I’m at. I’ve thought about getting some coursework in project management–which is what originally brought me into the IT world almost 20 years ago. Project Management has morphed quite a bit since that time. I’ve also thought about learning more about either WordPress or AEM development, which I think would be good, but I’m not sure where to find the right education for that, or know if I’m up to it, since I’m not really a developer. I’m not sure if any of these are the right direction, either.
I launched my company, but I’ve hardly gotten it off the ground. Part of the problem is that I know I need to focus on what I’m best at, and figure out what I can offer that other consultants can’t. I’m not sure what that is quite yet. I think I have a lot to offer, but honing into what makes me special, unique, and valuable to a client is much harder to define, especially when you are trying to figure it out about yourself. I also need to figure out how to find clients–that’s important, too! If I can get that off the ground more, I’d love that. I’m open to any part-time or full-time projects–even being the sub-contractor for someone else. I’m very open to remote possibilities. I don’t know where the opportunities lie. I know they are out there, but I don’t know how to tap into it.
I’d like to continue trying out new conferences, and perhaps go back to some that I’ve already attended in the past. I’m already set to attend the STC Summit this year, as I’ll be a workshop speaker. I’ll also be attending the STC-PMC Conduit conference–for the first time strictly as an attendee, and not a speaker! But other conferences? A lot of it has to do with time and money. Money is something I don’t have a lot of, and time–well, I don’t know what my time is going to look like a few months from now, let alone later this year. Perhaps I’ll go to the IEEE ProComm which will be in Austin, Texas in the Fall. I’m not sure yet. I thought about going to the Big Design conference in Quito, Ecuador (I heard it’s going to be great, and an opportunity for me to visit cousins-in-law at the same time), but it’s very close to the STC Summit, so I don’t know if I can swing two conferences so close to each other time-wise or financially.
I think the biggest issue, as you can sense here, is that I feel direction-less. It’s almost a dilemma between having too many choices and not enough choices. It’s one of those times that I wish I was a kid again, and someone could see through the clouds better than I could, and help point me in the right direction. But alas, I don’t have such a luxury. I have to figure this out for myself.
You can see that I have ideas, and I’m open to suggestions, but there are too many unknown factors this year that prevent me from committing to anything right now. I don’t know what direction my career is going in right now. Last year was the year that I thought I would turn things around and start in a new direction, and it would be a clear path. I think I had some good ideas last year–and they were, and I could try to continue with them, but I’m not sure how to do that.
So where do I go from this point? As I said, I’m certainly open to suggestions or leads. I have a concept in my head of where I want to go, what I want to do, but I don’t know how to get there. There are no Google Maps to take me there. If you have felt like you didn’t have any direction in your career before proceeding towards next steps, what did you to break out of that rut?
Include your comments below, as I’d really like to hear about some ideas that might benefit me, but could also help others who are facing the same dilemma as I am.
This is not to say I’m not optimistic about this year. I will say that over the past several years, I’m glad that I’ve built a great support network professionally around me who can certainly lift me when I’m down, and I’m grateful for that. Also, who’s to say that I have to set out any goals right now? When I decided to lose weight and get healthy, I didn’t make the plan in January, but rather in May or June of that year. Who’s to say that I won’t have this figured out a little better in a few months? Time will tell, but for now, I’m hoping the Force will provide me with some direction….
Anytime I think of any kind of tech comm analytics, I don’t think of Google Analytics or Web Trends, but my mind races back to the first time I heard Mark Lewis speak and how my mind was blown at the idea that tech writing was measurable in any form. Now, a few years later, I’m looking at this latest module in my online Digital Marketing course at Rutgers about Web Analytics and ROI, as taught by Rob Peterson of the marketing firm, BarnRaisersLLC.
The idea of analytics and ROI (return on investment) sends a shiver down my spine. While I understand the function of analytics and some basics, it makes me think of complicated mathematical formulas, and that in itself makes me anxious. (I was a decent math student in school, but it was not my forté.)
Peterson started his course with a quote that I could swear I’ve heard either Mark Lewis or Joe Gollner repeat (I think it was Joe) by Peter Drucker to frame the objective, in which Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” So, the first question was, what is “it”? “It” could be almost anything. But Peterson feels that “it” is success–that your success (or lack thereof) is what needs to be measured. He also felt that the verbs “measure” and “manage” were the keys to understanding the material for this module.
Peterson broke down these by 6 steps to demystify web analytics:
Know why your site exists
Identify who you want to attract
Find out how they find your site
Know the action(s) you want them to take
Create an actionable scorecard aka figuring out your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
Listen to your digital ecosystem
You want to do these steps because the buying cycle has changed due to the internet. The buying “funnel” has been replaced by a flatter, more circular course of evaluation and re-evaluation before buying, but there is a subsequent loyalty to a brand after the initial buy that shortens the cycle the second time around.
Petersen then talked about how to make your digital ecosystem thrive, describing it as the intersection of earned (sharing), owned (web properties), and paid (advertising) media. People come before software in analytics, he insisted, stating that there’s a 10/90 rule for analytics, namely 10% of the marketing budget should go towards the analytics software, and 90% towards getting good people to analyze the results. We use measurement to understand our role, which is understanding the customer journey with the goal of optimizing the customer experience and find more customers.
To do this, there are several (he said 12, but I could figure out which were the specific 12) measurements to know.
First, you have to understand how consumers find you. This is primarily done through keywords and links. It was emphasized that page rank (aka “SERP”- Search Engine Rank Page) mattered because the first listed item in the ranking outweighs subsequent 5 ranks combined, usually. The metric that mattered most with paid media? He gave these two equations to show how this worked:
CPC (cost per click) = CTR (Click thru rate–this makes the click relevant)
He noted that a good conversion rate is actually low–2% is considered good!
So, once you’re at the website–now what? To analyze this, you need to look at sessions and users (which were recently renamed by Google, and formerly known as visitors and unique visits, which I understand better). Usually the period of time usually measured is looking at the last 30 days. An important metric in this is looking at the bounce rate, which is a percentage that means the number of people who only viewed one page then left. It’s important because it shows if the site is relevant or not. A good bounce rate depends on your goal or objective. If you wanted people to come to a specific page to sign up for something only on that page, then you achieved your goal, but if not, then you have to figure out why they didn’t stay. Petersen noticed that if you notice that your bounce rate is high for the wrong reasons, it’s not easy to change a bounce rate overnight.
One also has to understand where users people come from and what they do. Traffic resources are organic, direct, or paid searches, but can also be referral and social media sources.
The focus then turns on the key content (aka the webpages) by determining how many take the actions that you want. Conversion, here, is an important metric. There is the macro conversion, which is revenue generating, such as person to person, B2B, B2C, WebEx to WebEx, and the like, versus micro conversion, in which users would subscribe to the blog or a newsletter or participate by making a comment on a blog, and so on. This can also be done through word of mouth, more specifically “likes”, comments, shares, people talking about the site, followers, retweets, reviews and rating, sentiment, text analytics, and email open rate. The conversion rate is determine with this equation:
Conversion rate=(Desired outcomes/total visits) X 100
There are several online tools to help you listen that are generally free tools and work better on bigger sites, but easily available to use, according to Petersen:
Google Trends – This tool uses keywords. It can compare two different topics to see where they’ve been and where they are predicted to go. The example given was the buzz between Justin Bieber and the anticipated Samsung Galaxy 4 among teenagers as potential buyers. Fortunately for Samsung, the Galaxy 4 was trending more than Bieber!
Compete.com – This is a paid tool focused on doing competitive intelligence. It lets you see how you compare to your competitors so you can figure out your strategy.
Alexa.com – This is another tool that looks at the competition, powered by Amazon. It can use to compare your competition by providing ranking and metric information.
Marketing.Grader.com – This is a HubSpot tool that grades your website on several levels from social media marketing, blog posts, SEO, lead generation and mobile. I tried this tool and this blog got an 82/100, mostly because I’m not really trying to generate leads, and the mobile aspect of using WP needs help, so I considered that pretty good. I like this tool because it was really easy to use and understand. At the time of the recording of the lesson, Petersen’s business website had an 81! And I had an 82? Hah! I must be doing something right!
The course continued by using a case study using Google Analytics. The objective of this part of the lesson was to learn what to look for and how to use it. It was pointed out that it only will look up your own company due to admin rights, and to make it work optimally, you need to get specific code and embed it in all of your page (perhaps in the header, for example) so that Google Analytics can track it correctly by the correct administrators.
The main focus in using Google Analytics is looking at the audience figures. Look at the Engagement section to see who is really spending time on your pages. It helps you to understand the bounce rate. Petersen pointed out that on average, 95% of the audience never views more than 5 pages, and 95% don’t spend anymore than 5 minutes on a website. You can also look at location for geographic data, drilling down from national to town level. The section labeled “Mobile” can let you see how the site is being accessed.
This information helps to frame the marketing “funnel” that is often talked about, which is where marketers start with the action of acquisition, narrowing the focus to engagement, which further narrows to conversion. If it circles back to the engagement, this signals that there is loyalty to the brand, and this cycle begins again.
Google Analytics can also identify how your audience finds you, which is mainly through acquisition, behavior, and e-commerce. Behavior metrics can show what pages they are going to. Channels section knows keywords even if analytics don’t tell, as it shows keywords that people are using to access the site. You can find out about keywords from the Site Search section. All this information helps us understand the conversion rate by allowing us to see what’s been bought and look at average order value if you offer goods on your site.
For better information on keywords, Google Webmaster Tools is a better choice. It can tell you if your website is set up correctly so that the webcrawlers can find you, and helps correct errors on your site, providing rich depth of information on keywords.
So, you have all this information–what do you do with it? You do a lot of testing, because it’s an activity and a philosophy in which you build and test and repeat the cycle, using lots of small steps continually. Surveys are one way to do this, as they are essentially a tool that acts as the “voice of the customer”. Surveys use simple questions regularly executed such as, “Why did you come to this website?”, “Did you find what you were looking for?”, “Would you come back?”, and “What would make your next visit better?” There is also what is known as A/B Testing, in which you show two different versions of an ad or webpage to customer groups, and then seeing which people went to the goal page based on the two different models. A third way to find out some of this data directly from customers is looking at reviews, as they help searches and sales for other customers.
This is when the talk steered towards the ROI part of the discussion. Petersen started by letting us know how much a “like” on a site was worth. Research showed that among 150 brands researched, it was worth $71.84. Fans of a brand are 28% more likely than non-fans to continue using the brand, while fans are 41% more likely than non-fans to recommend a fanned product to their friends.
What does it tell us about “Like”-ability? It tells us how we can learn from social media audiences, which can be achieved through Facebook surveys and provides sentiment analysis.
KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)are crucially important as they are the “scorecard” needed to keep a strategy on track. Petersen defined KPIs using a quote by Avinash Khaushik of Google, saying that KPIs are “Measurements that help you understand how you are doing against your objectives.” Petersen also used the quote by Laurence Peter, saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” This, Petersen decreed, is where you define the “success” using metrics to measure.
There is a difference between KPIs and metrics, namely that a KPI is a metric, but a metric is not a KPI. More specifically, KPIs:
Relate to a business objective
Are chosen by the people accountable
Provide context by being tracked over time
Are based on legitimate data
Are easy to understand
Create meaning that gives control
The role of KPIs, per Petersen, is that “KPIs are an actionable scorecard that keeps your strategy on track. They enable you to manage, control, and achieve desired business results.”
How do you choose the best digital marketing measurements? Start with a KPI scorecard that compares raw numbers against progress against the percentage of change.
# of new customers
22% increase in sales
From there, you create a dashboard for the scorecard that should include both web and offline metrics that looks something like this:
Sales Metric #1
Sales Metric #2
Website Metric #1
Website Metric #2
Social Media Metric #1
Social Media Metric #1
The KPI dashboard shows key areas and results from metrics, and can help you to figure out what the key points are to create a KPI report for management.
During: visitors, segmentation, bounce rate, traffic sources, key pages, conversion rate, average value
After: reviews, surveys, A/B tests, social promotions
Starting from KPIs to deriving ROI is about the “Show me the money!” You need to look at the results from latent effects to direct effects. Direct online effects usually make up 16%, latent online effects makes up 21%, while latent offline effects makes up 63% of the results.
What is ROI (Return on Investment)? The equation given for this was:
(gain from investment-cost of investment)/cost of investment ($)=ROI
ex. ($500,000-$100,000)/$100,000=400% or 4-to-1 ROI
ROI is important because it reflects the idea of good management of money. Examples of gains and investments include:
Gains: sales increase, shorter purchase cycle, more leads, higher close rate, lower internal operating costs
Investments: marketing, advertising, promotion, PR, customer service, staff, overhead, time and energy
Metrics we use to create both annual and lifetime customer value and help us be better marketers include:
Mass Marketing (Mass media, like TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards — create awareness, interest, trial, sales)
Direct marketing (leads, conversions, retention, sales)
Digital marketing (unique visitors, downloads, register, redeem, convert, buy)
What ROI calculation can and can’t do:
Can: identify direct effect, provide relationships between direct and latent effects, give insights how to drive ROI higher, define consumer value
Can’t: define ROI goals and expectations, establish a baseline, identify a timeframe
What’s in store for the future? More data (aka BIG data) is growing exponentially coming in. “Big Data” is large amounts of data from web-browser trails, social network communications, sensor and surveillance data that form unstructured data stored in computer clouds, not servers.
The course was concluded with the statement, “It’s not the data, it’s what you do with it.”
Overall, this module was pretty good. I feel less anxious about web analytics and how to analyze the information provided, and I now have some more robust tools to use as well. The only thing I didn’t like about this module was that while Mr. Petersen was obviously knowledgeable about the topic, the structure of the module wasn’t completely clear. At the top of the course, he said from the beginning that there would be a top 12 things, but they really weren’t defined as “this is #1, this is #2, this is #3,” and so on. While there was a good progression, part of this came off as scattered because I felt like I didn’t understand how he was going from Point A to Point B and why, and no clear outline on how he planned to cover the lesson. Call it the content strategist in me, but that structure was something I just needed. Other than that, it was a module that I definitely needed for a better understanding of the topic, and the information was sound.
The last module is coming up, which looks like it will tie all the previous modules together! Until then…
As of the end of this module, my mini-MBA course is now three-quarters of the way done! I’m glad it’s getting towards the end since it’s been a while since I squeezed in a course into my busy schedule.
This week’s topic was about online customer acquisition. Staci Smollen Schwartz taught this section. She was formerly the VP of digital marketing at Virgin Mobile, and now is an independent consultant for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. I found that much of this module took elements of all the prior sections so far, picking out elements that were meant to provide the best customer experience and provide what customers needed.
Ms. Smollen Schwartz began by talking about the offline versus the online experience– what entices customers to buy online versus offline? Some sites will direct you to brick-and-mortar, some will have you shop online retailer, and some will sell direct.
The foundation for how customers are driven towards products via websites has to do with the path towards awareness, to consideration, to conversion, followed up by engagement. Ms. Smollen Schwartz demonstrated this by presenting many different kinds of ads and having the class try to determine what part of the path were the ads and banner ads as calls to action.
She discussed various tactics to bring about the conversion. Offline tactics are meant to drive you towards digital, and can include QR codes, vanity URLs, using the Shazam app to listen to commercials that will drive you to a website, and hashtags. Product placement within website can occur too, just like on TV or radio. There are also brand experience apps to consider, such as an app doesn’t sell the product but the experience. The example used was the Weber Grills app, which provided recipes and grilling techniques instead of shopping for a Weber Grill. Another examples were branded microsites like Sherwin-Williams Chip-It browser plug-in or app, and YouTube videos and channels that talks about the experience rather than the product.
Naturally, you need to figure out how the measure the awareness through reach, engagement, favorability, and re-marketing capabilities. Search Engine Marketing is important, because while relevancy in organic search is big, you also need to know how buying keywords for paid search can make a difference provided that you can bid high enough on the rights to that keyword in the paid search. You can also use product listing ads, daily data feeds from retailers (images, SKUs, price), and CPC price – can be made and used similarly to paid search, but with product specifics
Affiliate Marketing is another tactic. It’s similar to advertising, but instead of getting a slotted space, you get a percentage based on clicks to conversions. RetailMeNot is a good example of affiliate marketing with their coupon codes. Amazon actually has the longest running affiliate program–since 1996! (Where do I sign up?) This strategy is often used on smaller sites like blogs. Commission Junction and LinkShare are others that are affiliate marketing networks. Re-marketing in online ads is marketing to people who have already been exposed to your website or banner ad at least once. The premise is that you look at an ad, and then next day, you see similar ads everywhere, like on Facebook, Yahoo, etc.
Behavioral targeting in online ads involves marketing to people who demonstrate an affinity to your brand or category, without necessarily every having been to your website or seen a prior ad. Third party data companies see cookies for certain things, and based on those purchases and views, they can figure out what likes might be. AdChoices is a common third-party company which is an initiative that tries to educate and be transparent in doing behavioral targeting while keeping government rules out, and provide an easy opt-out.
Enhanced targeting is often paired with custom creative, such as setting up a modular ad in which, based on the cookie data, can switch up info for the ad on the fly to customize and personalize it for the user.
Email marketing is a proven and efficient online acquisition tactic. Shoppers overwhelmingly report that promotional emails tend to be their preferred method of communication with a company, and often cited as second biggest influence on a website visit.
Social media marketing is something that brands are still experimenting and seeing how this works because it’s still new. At least one-third of all shoppers say their purchases are influenced by social media, as “likes” and “dislikes” are often posted about a retailer that can influence the brand.
It was at this point that Ms. Smollin Schwartz gave us some formulas on how e-commerce conversions happen.
1) Total site conversion rate (%) =# of orders / # of visits X 100
2) Upper conversion rate (%) (This would be the awareness, consideration, and conversion) = # of orders added to the online shopping cart/#visits X 100
3) Lower conversion rate (%) (engagement) = # of completed purchases/#orders added to cart X 100
Tactics for driving upper conversion include recommendations and personalization; A/B testing, multivariate testing (variations of the same thing in different configurations) created on the fly for best performance, site search,virtual sales agents (live chat), and social commerce (negative reviews are best, because you can decide if the worst thing about that product is something you can live with).
Tactics for driving lower funnel conversion include incentives, like free shipping or accelerated shipping if ordered by a certain time, pricing incentives, alleviations to security and privacy concerns, and accepting PayPal instead of credit cards.
Shopping cart abandonment is about 71%, and this is usually due to customer shipping concerns or the customer is not ready to purchase. Some will take advantage of that, and re-market the shopping cart information for abandoned items in carts and promote a discount in order to fulfill the purchase process.
Driving cross-channel conversion is another online tactic, in which companies provide store locators, in-store pickup options, or even cross-channel prompts (allows the customer to click to call to finish the sale).
Engagement after the sale is important, because customer acquisition doesn’t stop after the initial sale. The progression of customer engagement starts with inactive customers, then moves towards active customers, to participating customers, who eventually can become product evangelists who bring in more prospects. Building engagement and loyalty is confirmation marketing, which is done through community building, packaging and loyalty programs. Referral marketing is part of this engagement, in which incentives are used such as one customer’s referral code is used by another customer, and the original customer gets an incentive to get a reward too. This works similarly to affiliate marketing.
Ms. Smollen Schwartz summarized the online customer acquisition process with her “Key Tactical Lessons throughout the Customer Journey”, which were:
It is helpful to think about tactics in terms of a consumer decision framework of awareness/consideration/conversion/engagement, integration of offline, online, mobile and social, and often circular pathways.
Tools, tactics, and metrics differ depending on a customer’s stage along the decision pathway, nature of your product and industry, and your budget allocation.
Look at the key drivers of e-commerce and digital-influences sales, including the success of traffic-driving tactics, upper and lower conversion rates, ways of measuring cross-channel sales impact, engagement, and repurchase.
Before I took this module, I thought this might be an easier topic for me to understand, but this was a harder section for me to get through. I think it’s because much of this was deeper marketing than I was experienced with, and it centered around consumer product examples. While I understood the consumer product examples, I had a hard time envisioning how I might convert this same information easily for a B2B service model. Everything given was very commercial product related. The information was very dry, so while it was evident that Ms. Smollin Schwartz knows her stuff, for me personally it was tougher to get through this information. I will say that a few examples she provided proved to be well-explained, so I could see that I had already participated in some of these tactics at some point, like affiliate marketing. I could also relate to all the consumer examples she gave from my consumer perspective. Envisioning how to parlay this information into a means of promoting the potential new business I’m thinking of starting…well, that question wasn’t answered as clearly as it was on how to promote and sell a consumer product. Even getting through the quiz– it took me several tries before I got a good result. It gave me agita like the SEO information did again.
It looks like I will definitely have to attend the virtual office hour for this module, because I need to have a better grasp of how this information translates into acquiring customers for services that are not B2C (business to consumer), but B2B as well. For all I know, more subtle tactics are used. So for now, a good part of this topic still eludes me.
The next module will be about web analytics and ROI (return on investment). I understand on a broad level what those are, and I’ve used some elementary analytics to help me understand how webpages perform on a website, but not much beyond that, so this will prove to be interesting.
After the confidence I had emerging from the Social Media Marketing module of my digital marketing course, I felt I could ride that wave of confidence into the next module about Mobile Marketing. From what I could tell, I wasn’t wrong to be confident. After all, I’ve been writing about m-learning and mobile topics on this blog since the beginning, so I figured that I would have a good handle on this topic. I did, but I was quickly reminded at how fast mobile technology has been growing even in three short years, and how I still need to do much more to keep up, if not catch up.
The module was taught by Christina “CK” Kerley, who is a very animated speaker on mobile marketing topics. She provided some great real life examples that I could easily related to. What struck me the most was how subtle mobile marketing can be and how it can be used in ways that we already take for granted, and the technology out there through mobile devices that are probably under-utilized by some, not only in marketing, but also in other mobile applications. One thing that I agreed with her about in regards to mobile is that at one point, everyone thought they needed an app for their service or product, and that’s not necessarily the case. I agree that websites need to be optimized for mobile–something that I need to do with my own e-portfolio when I get some free time in the next year. But an app has to have a purpose, and it doesn’t mean that it’s solely a glorified version of your website in tiny form.
The technologies that fascinated me the most had to do with geofencing, NFC, and RFID technologies. An example of this would be something like this: you had the Starbucks app on your phone, and as you passed by a Starbucks, your phone would send you a notification for a coupon off a drink–but only if you were in the vicinity of the Starbucks. My brain started to spin with the possibilities of how to use this, at least in m-learning. She also talked about how the proliferation of QR codes and augmented reality were coming about, and how wearables were going to be playing more of a part in mobile marketing. I knew all about these from Marta Rauch and her talks about Google Glass, and such, but I think there were some additional features that I hadn’t really thought about before this way.
All in all, it got me excited about mobile technology. Not that my interest in mobile had ever gone away–just sidetracked. We really do take our mobile tech for granted–I know I take mine for granted! I think that whatever my next stage is, I surely need to figure out how to get mobile technology into the mix, whether it’s writing or designing for mobile, or whatever. My passion for mobile has simmered over the years. I think the dark side of content strategy lured me over for the past year or two (not that it’s a bad thing), and I lost sight of where I wanted to go. If I end up starting my own business, then I need to think about incorporating those mobile skills again. Seriously, three years ago I talked about mobile in terms of m-learning mostly, but I knew it was the next big thing because mobile use was growing. My thinking was correct back then, and deep down, I know it’s only going to grow and get more complex in time. I feel like I’ve already fallen behind! So, I need to try to get up to speed on this technology again, and try to push forward, whether it’s in content marketing or something else. I appreciate CK lighting the fire under me again!
Moving on from there, the next module will be about content marketing. OK, folks, here’s the crux of it all, and I’m fearful of it. This is the topic that drove me to take this course because it’s all that I hear about in the content strategy world. We’ll see if I come out unscathed from this topic next week.
The next module of my online digital mini-MBA in Digital Marketing was about social media marketing. Simply from the name of it, I suspected that I had a better chance with this topic than I had with search marketing. I took a look at the slides and completed the pre-reading assignments, and sure enough, I understood ALL of it. Why? Because I’ve entrenched myself into social media from the beginning of my tech comm career, and it’s why you are reading this article. It’s all about how to use social media for promotion and starting the conversation with your readers through the use of meaningful content.
I was lucky that I had a great course on the theory and practices of social media at NJIT, which I still refer to in presentations and still greatly affects me to this day. That course was what started this blog, after all! I learned many of these marketing concepts through trial and error over the last three years.
There were so many concepts that easily clicked for me, which included what I’ve been struggling to get people to understand not only from a social media perspective, but from a content strategy perspective as a whole! It seems that most of the issues from a corporate level stem from a cultural standpoint, and that corporate culture is not willing to evolve and change with the times! There are other complications, but that’s the primary one. I know from working with several companies, I’ve seen this often. There’s some progress, but it’s not the progress that I would recommend. (But I’m a consultant at the bottom of the food chain, so I know I don’t have a chance to be heard anytime soon.)
The biggest part of this module that I agreed with entirely was that social media is not another type of media along the lines of singularly directional TV, radio, or print. Social media is SOCIAL, people, so it’s about that two-way communication that I wrote about in my last blog post. The instructor for this module of the course, Mark Schaefer, is the author of several books on the subject and has been in marketing for 30+ years, and discussed much of what I’ve come to understand on my own! He went into deeper detail of it all, but he talked about the idea of creating strategies that create relevant content that connects. He said that we are already experiencing content overload, and the key is figuring out how to filter the relevant content that connects people to each other. It’s no longer B2B (Business to Business), but rather P2P (Person to Person). Mr. Schaefer is also the author of Tao of Twitter where he provides insights on how Twitter can be used effectively–and ineffectively–for content marketing. As students of this course, we all received a digital copy of the book. Based on how this module went, I definitely plan to read this! (Perhaps I’ll do a TechCommGeekMom Book Review about it as soon as I finish it.)
This time, I got 100% on my quiz on the first try. So many of the concepts in this module were easy for me, I think simply because there was such a strong connection between content strategy and social media concepts that I already knew or learned on my own in the last few years, either from experience or from various presentations I’ve seen at conferences (Intelligent Content Conference is a great example–did you see that discount there on the right side bar? If it’s still there, take advantage of it! It’s a very good conference on this very topic!) After last week’s struggles with Search Marketing, I was relieved that this module, while truly packed with a lot of information, was much more my speed and less confusing.
I know Rutgers offers another mini-MBA program that is solely on social media marketing, and I’m sure that I’d like that very much, but I think I’ll wait and see how this mini-MBA goes first. I’m not sure that I necessarily need the social media marketing mini-MBA, but Mr. Schaefer said he teaches in that one, and if this module was a broad summary of the larger course, then I think I’d be okay!
The next module is something that I think I’ll have a pretty decent understanding of as well…mobile marketing! Y’all know that I love my mobile tech comm and m-learning, so I have a feeling that many of the concepts that will be brought up in this module will be familiar to me or easy to understand as well. Until the next module…