Report: Most Trusted Marketing Automation Tools

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Marketing automation tools are making their ways into the business world, not only for large enterprises but also for small companies some solutions have proven to be promising, and not only since IBM bought Silverpop. However, which tools are the right ones for your business? At least we get some advice now from TrustRadius“Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation Software”. They did a report based on 400 in-depth reviews by authenticated end-users of marketing automation products combined with the results of more than 10,000 comparisons performed on the TrustRadius’ website.

The report looked at software solutions that include various demand generation capabilities like email campaign management, landing pages,or even lead scoring. However, the analysis out those providers which just offer one aspect of marketing automation (i.e. only lead scoring). In their focus were those tools that “help to automate and scale repetitive marketing tasks and the analysis of those efforts.”

These were the findings they came up with…

Small Businesses (Up to 50 employees)
Small companies gave quite positive and high ratings with at least a 4 out of 5 (average was 4.3 out of 5 – better than the average in the midsize and enterprise companies). Then TrustRadius ranked the products via two factors: a) average user rating and b) how does the product serve the business segment (determined by the number of comparisons made by organizations of that size).
The leading 3 solutions were HubSpot (4.8, 69% of comparisons by small businesses), Act-On (4.7, 53%), plus Infusionsoft (4.3, 96%). Other solutions like Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, and Silverpop also got good ratings. Still, they ranked lower as they had a smaller proportion of small business comparisons.

TrustRadius Marketing Automation Small Business 2014

SMB Businesses (From 51 to 500 employees)
The average rating in the midsize company category was 3.9 out of 5. The report shows that a higher demand goes alongside bigger companies and more complex requirements for marketing automation tools. Here, the trusted vendors are Marketo (4.2, 60% midsize category) and Pardot (4.0, 58%). Act-On, Eloqua, and HubSpot also got positive ratings.

TrustRadius Marketing Automation SMB 2014

Enterprise Businesses (500+ employees)
The average rating for enterprise marketing automation products was 3.8 out of 5. Eloqua showed up to be the top marketing automation software for enterprise companies (4.4, 59% enterprise focus). Act-On, HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot also performed well according to users, but they had a smaller proportion of comparisons from enterprise customers.

TrustRadius Marketing Automation Enterprises 2014

Tell us about your findings. Which tools do you use and what has proven to be successful for you? All insights can help other companies make faster decisions.

Why content marketing is like running a marathon (infographic)

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Content marketing seems to be the new hype in the business world. But wasn’t it there before? Case studies, whitepapers, corporate brochures, corporate publishing, etc. – did we not have all of this before? Maybe the B2B world was better trained in this topic than the B2C folks.

The guys from Curata now train marketers with a step-by-step content marketing marathon infographic. It will make marketers understand what it needs to become efficient in content marketing, to have the right pace at producing versus curating content, to achieve the perfect help and support from your fans and get to the finish line.

Good luck – and don’t forget to drink some water!

Content Marketing Marathon Infographic

2014 Trends in Content Marketing [Infographic]

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The perspective of Uberflip “predicts” that there are some obvious trends coming up in content marketing.

Not surprisingly, a “director of content” might be the new team member in companies. This might be nothing new when compared with our job title predictions for web strategy at the beginning of 2013. Some other aspects of Uberflip include: higher quality of content, content curation, multiscreen marketing, and what every consultant will love: bigger budgets for hopefully better content.

“Brands will step up their game by integrating great journalism and storytelling into their strategies,” states Uberflip.

Let’s hope their predictions proof to become reality. Or maybe, you see some other development in the near future. Why not share it with us…?

Content-Marketing-2014-infographic

Best and worst times to post social media updates (Infographic)

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The questions we get asked by management team all over Europe are quite similar whenever it comes to best possible conversion times, or perfect hours and days to posting on social networks, to send out updates and to generate engagement. Although this might be an option to boost your social and web activities, it should be clear to everyone that if we all obey these options, we are challenging our clients more and more in generating engagement.

Above all, not all social media platforms are alike. The user types of social networks are different, depending on whether these are coming with a purchase intent, the idea to keep their friends up to date about their latest spare time activities, or whether they are looking for new job opportunities in career networks. Sentiment, time and openness for your updates might vary from minute to minute.

Mitt Ray summarizes some advice on when could be the best and worst time to publish your updates on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Tumblr. Take it for whatever it is worth to you…

Best-Times-and-Days-to-Post-Your-Social-Media-Updates-Infographic

How social search helps marketers boost their brands (Infographic)

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How important do you see social search for your brand or your company? Not much. Well, you might reconsider this answer when you have read some of the stats provided by Prestige Marketing in the following infographic.

The compilation of figures and data gives some insights in why brands need to understand the benefits of social search.
- When exposed to relevant branded media, consumers are more likely to click your information: search click-through rates increase 94%.
- Comparable to the Nielsen findings some months ago, 78% of consumers trust personal recommendations over search result rankings.
- In order to make purchase decisions, 48% of digital buyers use search and social media for their buying decisions.

“Social search engines use data from social networks and online relationships, including rating, shares, and likes, to determine the display order of search query results,” claims the infographic.

The following infographic will tell you more about a toppic you might not really be spot on…

trends-in-social-search-infographic

Ratings, Retweets, Repins & Likes: Automated response creators = killers of insight creation?

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twitterview-2Some years ago, I have written about the Retweet button being the “killer of positive blog comments”. Over the years in many seminars and speeches, I have stressed the point that the ROI of the social web is not about generating high quantity in “thumbs up” on Facebook or Retweets on Twitter, or anything automated that comes along with similar meaning.

Retweets, Repins & Co. are only of value for your business, if…
- you accept those automated response generators as the pillars of your ROI system.
- you are a marketer who builds their business on proving the capability of accelerating reach rather than relevance.
- you are a brand that struggles to understood the value of building a community-centric business.
Still: Are ratings as insightful as a written comment – be it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other community platform out there in the social web?

Yesterday, it became public through a post on TechCrunch that Facebook is testing out a system of openly displaying star-ratings on Pages. Will this be another killer of value creation?

I definitely agree that the Facebook “Like” has become confusing, and in some way worthless. Many users just click on the Like button out of a pure and immediate emotion, nothing sustainable, lasting or resilient. Some are expressing their solidarity with it. Some are missing the dislike button, and click the Like button.

Do those automated responses tell us what they really feel? Do they tell us what people really think? Do they help us to evaluate our position? Fair enough, these automated response creators are some word-of-mouth catalysts. Well, I admit by adding these five star ratings, there is at least some specification in the differentiation of generating feedback.

Obviously, the new rating system puts Facebook in a different position and moves it more to the likes of Foursquare, Yelp and traditional trend shop systems. Furthermore, it allows users to be more concrete in defining their opinions. Users might get better orientation in why a coffee shop or a business or restaurant deserves to be tested.

Spotted by TechCrunch

Spotted by TechCrunch

But does it really help us? What is a 4.2 with twelve votes compared to a 4.9 what two people have build up? Do we know who gave the votings, and if these people have the same interest and preferences that we have got? Doesn’t orientation get even more confusing? What will we book on travel websites when there are less and less reviews and recommendations?

Spot On!
The 3 Rs of the social customer (ratings, reviews and recommendations) might make our lives interesting and exciting for new stuff. But maybe there is too much new trends and products out there to get our heads around. Maybe a real review or recommendation will sometimes help (one positive and one negative like Amazon does it already). Still, automated feedbacks -be it stars, RTs, Likes, etc.- are the least valuable insight creation generators on a relevance scale that helps defining internal and external social web ROI.

PS: If your managers are still happy when your numbers of Likes go up, be happy and tell them nothing about this post. If not, let’s discuss further how social networks should constitute in order to deliver deeper insights in the mindset of our customers.

Rise of Social Media as a Profession (Infographic)

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When I started my blog some years ago, people in my industry were shaking their heads and wondered what the benefit was to be a “social media professional”. Some asked why I was wasting time on social networks like Twitter, Facebook & Co., and what the ROI is in writing blog posts and then sharing them. Some wondered how I managed to stay on top of the main trends and developments in the “social web” world. Well, time is passing by and people start to be getting answers.

In the last years, many companies have thought about hiring a social media specialist, or have even given it a proper job description. Still last year, we went into companies and found some young interim or part-time freelancer being responsible for the feedback on the 3R’s (ratings, reviews and recommendations!) of their own social customer. Often these people earned nothing but a smile from their colleagues.

These days seem to change. Can it be that companies understand the value of engaging with their customers on the social web – the place where they not only spend a lot of their spare time? They actually do marketing, sales, customer service, employer branding and much more for companies and brands. Some companies still have not understood though…

Now, the social marketing platform Offerpop has created a nice infographic based on data from LinkedIn that shows a staggering 1,357% increase in social media jobs posted on LinkedIn in the last three years.

Rise-of-Social-Media-Profession

Big Data Opportunities (Infographic)

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We discussed this topic in many panels at dmexco this year, and in the last couple of years I assume not many buzz words have made their way through so many blogs and articles: Big Data. Some see the value of it in measurement and analytics for marketing purposes. Others try to identify new potential and hire Corporate Data Scientists for their web strategy to leverage the potential of unstructured data. And some are still on their way to understand how their data can be embraced to exchange with the data of some partner or even their clients.

The topic Big Data will stay. Just look how much data is generated daily: 2,5 Exabyte. A number that doubles every year according to an infographic the guys from Elexio have put together. It illustrates the potential for companies and how Big Data might generate bigger opportunities in several sectors. Especially, in retail or e-commerce where Big Data let’s brands analyze customer behavior and deliver more personalized messages in order to create an exciting user experience, more engagement, and sure i the end more sales. However, sometimes you wonder if they are doing it right.

As Big Data also let’s us analyze offline data, some clever marketers might combine those with online data to get a clearer view of consumer activity. On the one hand, this might be good as it keeps them from delivering the wrong banner or engagement outdoor advertisement and content to the wrong customer. On the other hand, there might be people arguing that Big Data is still in its infancy as long as companies cannot extract critical and unstructured data from the valuable data that creates a new customer journey experience.

The main challenge will be how we bring Big Data and security together in the future. Consumers get stressed these days as they realize that promotion banners and branded content are following them across channels – with products and services which are often not wanted, or already bought. But how can companies deliver a seamless customer experience? How can they make use of Big Data that boosts their lead generation or sales numbers while still showing careful approach that consumers appreciate?

With all the social media sharing and curating of content via social networks and their buttons, does it really make sense talking about Big Data and security? Or, do we need organizations that audit how companies handle customer data? What rules do companies and brands need to obey to enable a social and secure shopping experience? Many questions that we will discuss on a panel at the ChapmanBlack “Future of Digital” event in Berlin next week. Sure, I will change those afterwards…

Please find the infographic of Elexio with latest insights into the new opportunities that Big Data can offer to brands and companies.

Big Data Infographic Cloud

Six Common Ecommerce SEO Mistakes

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Search PlayerIncorporating a strong SEO strategy into the design of an ecommerce website can greatly improve its chances of success. For an online shop to succeed, customers must be able to easily find it using a search engine. Whether you’re using an expensive SEO consultant or simply relying on a subscription ecommerce platform, you’ll want to take heed of the following common mistakes made by ecommerce websites.

1. Not Including Product Descriptions
High quality photos are essential for ecommerce websites, but if there is no accompanying description the product stands a low chance of being picked up by search engines. Be sure to add descriptions to each product in order to help give each product page an SEO boost. In addition to the description itself, the navigation, text, sidebar, and footer all count towards the final word count. With unique, descriptive content you can help market your wares while becoming more visible by the search engines.

2. Duplicating Product Descriptions
One common mistake that ecommerce sites make is copying the manufacturer’s product description word-for-word, usually in an attempt to avoid making mistake #1. While this will give you an accurate product description, it can work against you in the end. If your site uses the same manufacturer description, there’s a high chance that other rivals are doing the same. This creates the problem of duplicate content. Either rewrite the description, or add your own editorial underneath it. The same rule goes for listing your products on 3rd party sites such as Amazon or eBay. If you use the same content that appears on your website, you’ll run into the problem of duplicate content.

3. Lack of Related Content
Product descriptions are a mainstay of any ecommerce website, but they are not the only facet of ecommerce SEO to pay attention to. Many buyers are interested in finding out more about your products and company. Include information about your business’s history, along with shipping and return policies. Keeping a business blog is an easy way to rejuvenate your site with fresh content, as is opening up the site to customer reviews.

4. Using Non-Targeted URLs
You may have beautifully written unique content on your ecommerce site, but what about your URLs? If these are a jumble of letters and numbers it can not only be confusing for visitors, but it misses out on a chance to incorporate keywords into a clean, descriptive URL.

5. Not Targeting Content to Keywords
As you work on revising your content, it’s helpful to keep the keywords that your customers are typing into search engines in mind. These can be easily followed using analytics tools and are important for promoting the right terms for your audience. Keywords and search terms can also be incorporated into your off page SEO strategy. When you create content that links back to your main website, if it includes these same keywords it will draw in the type of readers who would be interested in your shop.

6. Not Using Robots.txt
Using the robots.txt file gives ecommerce website owners a way to give instructions to search engine spiders. This helps you make sure that you have control over which pages you wish to be indexed and which you don’t. For example, you can use robots.txt to block areas of the website with duplicate content, such as tags or archives. Not using this can hinder your SEO presence.

By avoiding these six common mistakes, you can improve your ecommerce website’s chances of standing out from the crowd online.

5% of negative online reviews are deceptive, finds MIT study

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© carlos castilla - Fotolia.com

© carlos castilla – Fotolia.com

We all know that ratings, reviews and recommendations -the 3 R’s of the social consumer- rule the modern world of shopping and our daily customer journeys. When we are trying to figure out the coolest holiday hotel, the latest gadget or the cheapest flights, people tend to rely on what online reviews tell them before purchasing whatever they are longing for. Online reviews make a big impact on our life and happiness, and turn the customer journey into a big secret. Nielsen and Forrester have shown in their studies how we find trust in brands and products, and reviews play a significant role in the purchase decision-making processs.

But what if reviews are simply wrong, or bought from people that don’t flag these reviews as hidden content marketing derivates? Years ago, we might have asked our friends or close people where to go for dinner, what music tape to buy, or which book to read, we now just go online and read what some foreigner might have said. No matter which mentality this person has, which preferences, which background, which age and gender. The 3 Rs make our decisions easier, we think.

Although we might have all guessed it, the proof of wrong online reviews now comes with a study from the MIT and Northwestern University that examined over 400,000 reviews in 6 months. The study states that many reviews were simply deceptive, untrue or even written by people who never tested or bought the product or service. In 5% of all negative reviews people get paid to hype products. Most of these people are writing bad and often untrue reviews but are actually newcomer to the business they are talking about. 

The good part of this study is that the study offer some advice for us and tells us how to detect deceptive story-telling.

“What is most compelling is most reviews tend to be too detailed. Another easy clue look for is repeated use of exclamation points. Two, three or four for emphasis, is often associated with deception,” Eric Anderson, Northwestern University Professor and co-author of the study said. “At the end (of the study) we concluded that many of the negative reviews came from customers who were trying to act as self proclaimed appointed brand managers.” Anderson summed up.

Spot On!
However, many reviews might be untrue or bought, it is probably a good way to try to understand what negative reviews are basically saying and balance it against positive reviews. Seeing the positive reviews makes us get out of the bad tonality which often is simply based on anger and frustration around bad services and untrue or bought reviews. And the more people are trying to dive deeper into the intention and personality of the reviews, the faster they might detect if the review is deceptive.

“Really what you have to do is read a lot of them. Don’t just read the 2 or 3 negative ones which may or may not be real–read alot of the reviews.” Ken Bernhardt, former Professor of Marketing, Georgia State University

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