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21 Reasons to Engage in Digital Marketing

The rise of social media and the ubiquity of the internet mean that people are more used to immediate gratification than ever. As a marketer, you can take advantage of this faster communication by reaching out to leads and customers through various channels in order to speed the sales cycle or maintain customer loyalty.   These 21 statistics show why the strategic use of digital marketing (social media, blogs and email) can boost revenue and profits more than non-digital methods: Social Media Both B2B and B2C marketers use an average of 6 social media platforms to distribute content.   Top B2B platforms: LinkedIn (91%), Twitter (85%), Facebook (81%), YouTube (73%), Google+ (55%), and SlideShare (40%) Top B2C platforms:  Facebook (89%), Twitter (80%), YouTube (72%), LinkedIn (71%), Google+ (55%), and Pinterest (53%) – Content Marketing Institute 2013 Among leading companies, 70% rate inbound site traffic from social media activity to be “valuable” or “very valuable.” – Aberdeen Group 2013 By spending as little as 6 hours per week focused on social media marketing, 64% of marketers see lead generation benefits, and nearly half say their marketing expenses have decreased. – Social Media Examiner 2013 72.6% of salespeople using social media outperformed those sales people not using social media. Of the 21.7% of salespeople who said they were not using social media, 18.9% said they didn’t see the value and 45% said they didn’t understand it. – A Sales Guy Consulting 2013 Experience matters:  Marketers who had 2 or more years’ experience in social media marketing cited the following as directly attributable to social media. Increased exposure for their business (95%) Increased website... read more

How To Optimize Open Rates

  It should be no mystery what the most important thing is when it comes to email marketing campaigns: getting people to read them. According to statistics, 55% of people don’t open their e-mails regularly: So when they do check, they focus on the emails that are worth reading. You may have precisely the product your customers need and you may offer the best prices, but if they aren’t reading your emails and acting on them, then none of that really matters. So how do you get people to read emails? Subject Line The first thing would obviously be the subject line. As we mentioned: people will read what they want to read, when they want to read it, so it’s important that your subject line makes customers want to read the content. In terms of what they subject line says, remember that the point is for people to read your email, which will then inform them about your product and offers. The best advice here is to tell them what the email is about in the subject line, don’t try to sell it to them. Telling them allows them to decide if they are interested in your offer, while trying to sell to them immediately might deter them from reading altogether. The ideal subject line will be: short and to the point. six to ten words, or 50 characters or less. free FROM CAPS and multiple exclamation marks!!! (Caps and exclamations can get filtered out as spam and they come off as a bit aggressive). Optimise for mobile It’s important to remember just how important mobile devices are... read more

Outbound Marketing and Its Role

If you search for “outbound marketing” on Wikipedia, you find that outbound marketing can be seen in different ways.   The old definition refers to something good, while the new one refers to something bad. But interestingly, they have a lot more in common than it would seem, so let’s look at the term more objectively. Two Definitions? The first definition leads you to an explanation that “Marketing communications is the ‘promotion’ part of the ‘marketing mix’ or the ‘four Ps’: price, place, promotion, and product. It can also refer to the strategy used by a company or individual to reach their target market through various types of communication.” The second states that interruption marketing “refers to promoting a product through continued advertising, promotions, public relations and sales. It is considered to be an annoying version of the traditional way of doing marketing whereby companies focus on finding customers through advertising.” Notice how both of these definitions refer to promoting/promotions and they mention various types of communication. In reality, that’s all outbound marketing is: using various methods to promote your product. It’s all traditional The traditional types and methods of outbound marketing are things that we are all used to seeing every day: billboards, telemarketing, direct mail, television and radio ads, Sunday newspaper, etc. These are simply methods to get  your name and product out for people to see and hear about. We are all used to seeing commercials on TV and sometimes we might even look forward to watching and discussing them with others. Think about Super Bowl Sunday in the U.S. It is a tradition for companies to... read more

Relating to People Through Surveys

Whether you’re creating personas or trying to get ideas to update your product, surveys are an important tool to use. Surveys will let you talk to customers directly and get input about their needs and interests without having to make assumptions or guesses. But what makes a good survey? How do you create a survey that people want to fill? Why, why, why? The most crucial thing that you need to define is the objective, and there are two things to remember: You have to know what your main objective of the survey is. What are you going to use the information for? Why do you want to know this information about your customers? Keep this objective in mind when you formulate all of your questions. All your questions should be designed to help you achieve your goal, whether it be directly or indirectly. If it’s not related to your goal, it’s not going to help. Leading Questions Perhaps the trickiest and most essential thing to remember throughout the entire survey is to make sure that you don’t ask any leading questions. These are questions that encourage people to respond one way or another. Asking people “Is X the best Y?… Would you say that X is reliable?…” or many other questions that immediately label something as good or bad within the question are all leading questions. It may sound simple, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to create a leading question without knowing it. One Idea In designing your questions, you have to be careful that each question covers only one idea at a time.... read more

What is Inbound Marketing?

In one sentence, inbound marketing is: education – it is educating potential leads throughout the buyer’s cycle so that you can guide them down through the sales funnel. Drawing people into the top of the funnel with marketing assets, introducing people to a product or service and gradually teaching them the ins and outs. This process of attracting prospects in and then leveraging your knowledge to educate them to a readiness to buy is the essence of inbound marketing. The Topic Inbound marketing involves the use of blogs, white papers, eBooks, videos, podcasts, newsletters and social media (among other things) that make people aware of your company and the products you offer. This information allows them to reach out back to you once they are more serious about buying from you. Throughout the nurturing process, they become more comfortable with choosing your product over the competition and this makes the buying process much smoother. Statistics show that 79% of companies in 2013 that had a blog reported a positive return on investment (ROI) for inbound marketing, so there’s good evidence that these are worth the effort. On your end, inbound marketing involves optimizing your website for online searches and social media so that anyone who is looking for products within your industry (or industries) will find you first. This optimization involves placing your content in the proper context for potential clients, which includes time and location. In a nutshell, outbound marketing is like a politician posting “vote for me” advertisements all over town because they want to win, while inbound marketing is when someone actually walks around town offering... read more

3 tips to write better Rails URL helpers

This is a typical Rails URL helper I write these days, and I encourage you to do the same. Why? Let me explain it here, but first the helper: module PostsHelper module_function def post_path_with_date(post, **options) Rails.application.routes.url_helpers.post_path( permalink: post.permalink, year: post.published_on.strftime('%Y'), month: post.published_on.strftime('%m'), day: post.published_on.strftime('%d'), **options ) end end 1234567891011 module PostsHelper   module_function def post_path_with_date(post, **options)     Rails.application.routes.url_helpers.post_path(       permalink: post.permalink,       year: post.published_on.strftime('%Y'),       month: post.published_on.strftime('%m'),       day: post.published_on.strftime('%d'),       **options     )   end end # module_function By using Ruby’s module_function you can create a global helper which can be called like PostsHelper.post_path_with_date(post). This allows you to use this helper outside its typical context, but without breaking existing functionality. Your views will still work, and you can use your helper inside Rails console or any Rake task as well. Win-win! # routes.url_helpers Rails’ magic does a lot for you helping to write as little code as necessary. For example, it mixes all your url helpers into your view context. But once you step out of this context, a lot of the magic is gone. Be sure to always access your urls with Rails.application.routes.url_helpers to be safe from any unpleasant surprises. # kwargs or keyword arguments are my personal favourite of Ruby 2.0. And if you’re already using a recent version (and you really should so), don’t hesitate to use them already now. By passing the given kwargs to the route helper, you can easily customize your routes for your needs. For example, the other day I needed all blog post URLs including our domain: Post.all.map { |p| PostsHelper.post_path_with_date(p, only_path: false, host: 'https://blog.7sheep.net' )} 1234 Post.all.map { |p| PostsHelper.post_path_with_date(p,   only_path: false,   host: 'https://blog.7sheep.net' )} Really neat,... read more

How to Write & Use Personas

According to research, 61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content. Creating a persona, and knowing how to interact with it will be an investment that will make your marketing more efficient and lead to better customer relations. So what are the steps to creating the right personas? Research The goal of your research is to find patterns in behaviors, expectations, motivations, interests and goals of your target audience. It is important to continue until you find a repeating pattern of responses. Surveys and interviews are essential. Because of their vested interest in both the business and the consumer, you should interview business stakeholders who frequently interact with users. You should also check existing market research and interview market research specialists for advice. Lastly, remember that informal conversations are also very useful. It may not be formal research, but the important thing is to gather information. Anything from 30 minutes to an hour should give you adequate information as long as you stay on topic. What sort of questions should you ask? For building personas, a lot of the questions will likely be indirectly related to your product. Ask things such as “What aspects do you enjoy about your job? What sort of things frustrate you? What would make your job or life at home easier?” Since it all depends on the industry you’re in and the product you’re offering, the possibilities are endless. But it’s essential to remember that questions should be personal and tell you about behaviors, interests, etc while at the same time... read more

What is a Persona?

What is a persona? Using personas for email campaigns has been shown to double open rates and increase click through rates by 5x, which is testimony to their usefulness. Interestingly enough, a persona could be defined as a personalization of a generalization. By looking at individual customers, finding patterns among them, and grouping these customers based on their similarities, companies set the groundwork for a persona. The last step is simply going back to the individual after various groups have been defined. Creating one personality out of each group allows the interactions between a company and its target audience to become more personal. Instead of trying to cater to an average customer, personas allow for multiple types of customers to arise in order to account for the different interests, motivations and behaviors.   What’s the risk of skipping personas? If you’re not using personas, then you’re doing it wrong, and there’s one all-encompassing reason why: unless you sell one version of one product, there’s probably no such thing as an ‘average customer.’ People have different needs, interests, motivations and aspirations. By having one marketing plan based on one generalization about what your customers are looking for, you would be sacrificing a lot of sales. For example, if you sell clothing and don’t account for the difference between a businessman, a hipster, and a fashionista when you send your “50% OFF SALE” email campaign, chances are your message won’t resonate with any of them. Personas are the best way of avoiding this situation by ensuring that your message reaches the average businessman and the average fashionista instead of just the... read more

How to Rebound from a Bounce Code

You’ve heard of the Napoleonic Code or the Da Vinci Code… but how important is a Bounce Code? Well, for e-mail marketing these codes are very important. Essentially, a bounce is an e-mail that cannot be delivered. It has been rejected or bounced back to you from the e-mail server. Each rejection has a code associated with it – the bounce code. Sometimes negative metrics can be as helpful as positive ones: Understanding bounce codes will allow your marketing campaigns to be more effective and give you an indication about the cleanliness of your data. A Crash Course on Codes E-mail servers communicate through different codes that mean the same thing to all servers. These codes are either three straight digits (123) called Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) or digits separated by periods (1.2.3) called Extended SMTP (ESMTP). 7Sheep will report on SMTP codes, which are used more traditionally. We’re going to focus on these here. Lower numbers in the 200 and 300 range tend to be less important for us because they mean things like: 252 – Cannot Verify user, will attempt delivery later 354 – Start message input and end with . (which simply indicates that the server is ready to accept the message) For e-mail marketing purposes we need two sets of codes. Soft Bounce – The 400s (Temporary Errors) These errors mean that the system ran into some technical problem during delivery (server is down, inbox is full, message is too big, etc). This can happen due to delays or smaller issues occurring when the systems communicate with one another, but it doesn’t mean that... read more

Clean data: What we mean and how can you do it right?

First, let’s get it out of the way: Data cleaning is invariably dull. It’s repetitive work and you need an eye for detail. But, I think we’ll all agree, it is essential. A lot of our clients struggle with the concept and execution of clean data when we talk about it. Let’s break it down: What do we mean by clean data and how do you do it? What is clean data? Essentially, for us, there are two parts. One part is clean according to 7Sheep and the other is clean according to ‘humans’. The first part is what can be harder to communicate. Part of an IBM definition of a clean data set is: All data types are accurately identified. All columns contain the same data type. For example, in a numeric type column, there are no alpha-numeric strings. Essentially, that’s it! Simple! Or is it? Something as simple as a telephone number can be stored as the correct number but still be ‘unclean’/invalid according to the database. In 7Sheep, a telephone field is a numeric field option with a few special characters (+, (.)) allowed. However, different cultures write telephone numbers in a variety of ways so, someone could be forcing an invalid result by separating digits with a full stop (period). The phone number may be correct but the way it is stored is not. Your data isn’t clean. 7Sheep is a program, when all’s said and done, it responds to your commands and does what you tell it to. Clean data is entirely in your control. How can you clean data? In 7Sheep it’s a... read more

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