Tag Archives: Marketing strategy

Not all Businesses are Created SQL

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What is SQL?

Structured Query Language is a database inquiry system which allows you to access and manipulate the data that your company has collected. The data is stored in the form of tables which display the records in an array of columns and rows. SQL is a language that developers know, however one that is not considered common knowledge by the marketing community.

Many SQL databases are available online as open source software. Some examples are MySQL, ProgreSQL, and Firebird SQL. In order for it to be considered SQL, it must include at least the following commands: Update, Delete, Insert, Where.

SQL query:

–          Select: the data that you access from the tables you have access to

–          From: these are the table that you access in order to get the data you seek.

–          Where: what are the conditions you want to have met, how are you going to connect the tables with the data

–          Group by- filtering you data based on a similarity

–          Order by: arrange your data in an order than makes sense to accomplish your goals

–          Limit: specify! (ex: only bring me 20 rows of data)

It doesn’t stop there however because SQL can include commands in categories such as Syntax, Select, Distinct, And & Or, and so on.

In order to use SQL In building your website, you must have access to a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) such as Microsoft Access, SQL Server, or MySQL.

Examples of SQL in the Business World

In the finance world, Garanti Bank of Turkey, which is their second largest in the country increased productivity greatly by starting to use Microsoft SQL Server. Efficiency increased by over 50% and performance increased by over 70%.

Banco Central do Brasil increased their performance, reporting speed, and their scalability when they switched.

Read about more financial services that have benefited by clicking (here http://blogs.technet.com/b/dataplatforminsider/archive/2012/09/26/financial-services-companies-rely-on-sql-server-2012-to-deliver-the-new-standard-in-mission-critical-platforms.aspx)

These are real companies making real differences to the strength and value of their business by integrating SQL into their processes. Don’t ignore the numbers.

What can SQL do for Marketers?

SQL can be used for many tasks, the most relevant to marketers being to input or delete entries, retrieve data from your company’s database, and build new databases and manipulate old ones.

SQL is a valuable tool that can be used by marketers to manage your businesses data by running search queries within your database. Understanding SQL can open up opportunities to learn more about your customers and do so in a shorter period of time. Creating queries within your database helps you to search out specific criteria about your customers and categorize them in categories such as country, first name, last name, and length of time since their last purchase.

How does a marketer use this information?

Let’s say you are interested in running a campaign to recapture a group of customers who haven’t purchased in a while. You could run a query that identifies the name and email address of customers who have purchased product from you in the past, however have not purchased in the past month. You then are able to include only these customers in an email blast offering them 20% off their next purchase for a limited time only.

While narrowing down the scope of your campaign, SQL will enable you to effectively target and provide discounts to only those people whose purchasing has decreased. This eliminates frequent customers from receiving discounts, and offers an incentive to buy to those who you are trying to capture as frequent customers.

 

Why is it important to know as a marketer?

The efficiency that SQL allows is something that can take a marketer with knowledge, and turn them into a marketing team who is able to get things done. The more that you become a specialist on all of the tools that are used by your team, the more valuable you make yourself, as well as making yourself less expendable. In today’s business environment, the more skills you have, and the more technical work you are able to do yourself will have a great impact on your ability to get entry level jobs and impress employers. Learning SQL could be the clinch that seals the deal on your job search, so go out there are start training learning.

Where can you learn about SQL?

Find someone who knows what they’re talking about and ask them for a lesson. If there are questions that you want answered, then run your queries trying to answer those questions. When you run into a snag, ask a question. Learn by doing, and be productive while you do so.

If you don’t have any SQL experts in your network, there are also online resources available to help you out. http://www.w3schools.com/sql/default.asp?PHPSESSID=300ae3404d5fa2612f238abeebb8869c has a great training program to help you learn the basics of SQL and even offer a quiz at the end so you can test your knowledge. Besides that, just start searching the web, there are a number of free websites out there designed to help people like you learn this database language. Start exploring now.

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Earned, Owned, Paid

 

Defining Types of Media

Before discussing the benefits of the different types of media and how they come to mature over recent years, I think it would be a good idea to go over some definitions, and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Paid

We’ll start with the media that people are most familiar with. Paid media has been the traditional way of advertising for generations. It is structured around the fact that there is, and likely will always be the existence of high traffic customer channels that businesses want to use to reach their target audience. In the past this has been everything from print, to radio, to television. Since the development of the internet however, paid media practices have evolved significantly to include such channels as online video commercials, banner ads, paid search, etc.

Owned

Our owned media consists of anything that the company owns the right to, and therefore can continually be used to reach an audience, regardless of whether or not you are paying for coverage of it. The greatest examples of owned media are company websites. They are an asset that the company owns, continually develops, and that customers can engage with as frequently as they’d like. There are minimal additional costs to the business to keep a site up-to-date and functioning properly compared with traditional media costs through where price is based on audience and time-allotted.

Earned

Earned media is the most efficient media source out of the three. Essentially, any content that your users generate for you (UGC) becomes earned media for you. You are not hosting the content, paying for it, and you don’t even need to distribute it. Social networking does a pretty good job of that for you.  The best thing about this type of media is that it occurs so naturally. A customer is so involved with your brand that they are willing to give up a portion of their online presence to let others know about you. The trust that comes from a peer to peer word of mouth information transaction is invaluable to the future success of your business. Your goal should be to develop as many of these brand ambassadors as you can and make sure that they continue to feel appreciated, so that they continue to post about your business and continue generating awareness of your brand through word of mouth.

One issue that has come up on the owned media side of things is the use of cookies to track customer’s online behavior patterns. As most of you already know a cookie refers to a code that keeps track of which sites you visit, what your web searches consist of, etc. Now the issue with tracking cookies is that it can be seen as an invasion of privacy. People generally don’t like the idea that their movements are being tracked and the idea of someone watching their search history can seem malicious. The reality of the matter is that cookies are used by businesses to track your activity in order to create a more meaningful user experience for their customers or potential customers. Cookies help alleviate much of the dissatisfaction that individuals run into on websites because they are able to anticipate your actions and speed up the processes for you. Cookie tracking has become taboo lately and has even been outlawed in the European Union, where customers must now opt-in to cookies before businesses may begin tracking them. The upside to this is more privacy on the part of the user, and they feel more comfortable searching the web and navigating websites. The downside to this however is that many people don’t understand the positive effect that cookies will have on their user experience, and after opting-out of tracking, they will be more likely to have a negative experience on a website  and believe that the source of the problem is the company. I think this will hurt marketing efforts in the coming years and e-commerce in the EU will suffer because of it until the realization is made that cookies are not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t believe that the United States will implement any such law in the foreseeable future. They understand the nature of the e-commerce user experience and will resist change on that front.

Native Advertising

One thing that can help counteract the implementation of anti-cookie is the use of native advertising on your website. This is essentially catering your advertisements to the content that is being discussed on the website. This eliminates much of the need for cookies when attempting to cater your advertisements to the individual customers.

The sheer number of outlets available today can seem both exciting and intimidating at the same time. The duties of a marketing department have grown to involve a whole new spectrum of media outlets and tactics in a short period of time. Transparency and customer engagement are of utmost importance in the new age of owned and earned media. Customer voice becomes a huge influencer in brand strength and due to the visibility that a positive or negative review can have. This feature means that brands now actually have to be who they say they are. Those who don’t practice what they preach are exposed quickly, and the internet can be a cold and unforgiving place for them.

Google Plus: An Awesome Inbound Tool for People and Their Business

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Google Plus is offering people and businesses new ways to engage with their network and customers

Google Plus has been steadily gaining user-ship as people and businesses begin to realize the added benefits that a Plus account will add to their online presence. This post will discuss what Google Plus is, what the benefits are to you personally as well as your business, and how to get the most out of your account.

What Is Google Plus?

The assumption is that most of you reading this blog already know at least something about Google Plus and therefore this section can be skimmed briefly as you make your way to the more in-depth sections later on.

Google Plus is a social network that was created by the Google Search Engine. It effectively connects users to their contacts and allows them to upload content types including text, video, links, and links onto their profile so that their followers can interact with that content as well. This creates an easier way to channel content in a meaningful way to those who you are trying to reach.

Google Hangouts are a way for people to connect with up to 10 people at the same time over webcam, through text.  I will discuss further in the next section.

What is the Benefit of Google Plus to You and Your business?

First of all even though it is implied, I should mention that within your personal account, you are able to create business pages which are a great place to inform internet viewers about what your business does, how to get connected with them, and to engage them in the meaningful content that you have uploaded there.

One of the best things about Plus is that it is a subset of Google, the most popular and powerful search engine in use today. You can best believe that when you post something on your Plus account, it carries more weight in a Google search than something any of the other social networks. If Google is a fan of your business because you have done a great job optimizing your profile, then you’ll do a better job when it comes to search results. Google also has a feature called “+1” which is the equivalent of the Like button on Facebook. People use it to show that they have found your content interesting, engaging, funny, etc. Having these +1s associated with your profile will help to raise your search engine results even higher.

Google Places are a great tool for local businesses hoping to gain customers from an increased online presence. When people search locally from their smart phone, having an optimized Google Places setup will help to put you higher on the list of results.

Google Authorship is a way to take ownership of the content you have created and distributed around the internet. It gives you more authority and is a verification that the work is your own. This acts as a ranking signal in Google’s ranking system and therefore this can be a helpful tool in increasing your viewership and trust in the communities that you are reaching out to.

Finally, Google Insights is a way that will help you to measure your efforts. Insights will give you information about what has been working, what your traffic is, and where the traffic has come from. This will be your proof that your hard work has been paying off.

I mentioned Google Hangouts earlier and the possibilities are endless on how Hangouts can be used. A few of them include business meetings, holding interviews, face-to-face interactions with family and friends, meeting an interested follower, etc.

Personally, I use Google Hangouts for business meetings once or twice a week in order for each team member to update everyone on their progress over the last few days. It is a great way to meet without wasting the time to travel to a meeting spot. Most of my experiences have been positive, however occasionally I will run into issues with the losing connections to the group, losing sound, lagging screens, and other user interface issues. Some aspects of real life meetings have not been duplicated yet and therefore the program isn’t perfect. But if you need something that gets the job done, Hangouts can become your friend.

How to get the most out of your Google Plus Account

If you want a more in-depth breakdown of this section, visit Stephan Hovnanian’s page on Optimizing your Google Plus Profile

The first and most important is optimizing your profile so that it can be reached by your target market as easily as possible. Part of this optimization is taking advantage of your About section by using it to shamelessly promote yourself. Give visitors links to the websites that you want them to visit, use effective keywords, and tell people what it is you’re all about and why they should follow you. Also, as mentioned before, setting up authorship will increase your credibility and ranking.

Make sure you add a professional photo of yourself as your cover photo. Also, make sure that your make your photo more visible by embedding keywords into the image file as well as the caption.

What do you think?

This section is added because I’d like to see what people think about the fact that Google has recently a made it possible for anyone on Google Plus to email anyone else on  Google Plus without previously having their email. This seems to me like it could encourage some people to join Plus, however, is it worth risking the comfortability of current content users by opening up this Pandora’s Box? I see this as an opportunity for spammers to take over your inbox and I am not sure that I support it. As a side note, there is the ability to opt-out of this feature, but I personally think that it would be more on the up-and-up if they made this feature an opt-in instead.

What are your thoughts?

 

Anyways, thanks for reading!

How Social Media is Changing the Game

So, apparently this whole social media thing is getting to be kind of a big deal. But what does it mean for businesses. If you’re a business and you’re just getting into the social media game, it’s time to listen up so that you don’t start sounding like that old guy who doesn’t know what the “kids these days” are talking about

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The way that people communicate with businesses as well as with each other is changing rapidly. Word of mouth is becoming a viral experience that needs to be paid attention to, or else you risk being left behind. You can bet that if you aren’t engaging with your audience in an online platform, then they are going to start building relationships with your competitors that are.

This isn’t even an age thing anymore. People of all ages are participating in social media currently. Obviously the relevancy increases the younger you are, however the sheer number of participants means that if you want to reach your customers and be able to engage with them effectively, you need to get started on building your social platforms.

For example, if you’re company is thinking about expanding into other countries, and you don’t yet have a social media presence, try opening a Facebook account. There are currently 728 million daily Facebook users that you can connect with for considerably less money and effort than a traditional marketing campaign. That’s over twice the size of the United States.

Benefits

Now, we know that these staggering numbers are something that cannot be ignored, however, what are the actual advantages to using social media?

Building, Managing, and Saving Relationships

Any well-intentioned, successful business will tell you that one of the keys to strengthening a brand is building strong and lasting relationships with customers. Fostering communication and understanding between the customer and company is the cornerstone of a business relationship and the stronger that relationship is, the more likely a customer will be to become a repeat customer.

Now let’s get things straight however, social media isn’t just about capturing revenue from those people that have already decided to be customers of yours. Social media is a way of turning those customers into advocates for your brand; and what could be a more powerful and less expensive way of generating positive influence for your brand than that. These people are not being paid to tell their friends about you, which means less advertising budget for you, as well as giving more authority to the message. A strong group of delighted customers who talk about you on their social media will bring you more ROI and more brand strength than any traditional marketing efforts might bring you.

Now, I’m not telling you to drop your traditional advertising budget and replace it with inbound marketing and social media efforts, however, a coherent us of all aspects of the marketing mix with integration communication of the content across all platforms will sure as hell be more effective than just plugging advertisements one after another.

Damage Control

Another important point, what happens if you start receiving bad press on the internet, and you don’t have the right social channels to remedy the issue properly? At this point you’re essentially a defendant who chooses not to speak on your own behalf, and instead leave it up to the plaintiff to distribute the facts and opinions of the case. Social media, if used CORRECTLY can seriously save your ass.

Keep in mind though, that the internet and the people using it are not perfect. Every once in a while something goes wrong, and after the bomb has been dropped, your team will have to deal with the fallout.

A notable example showed up in the news today about a U.S. Airways customer who was commenting about a negative experience on their Twitter page. U.S. Airways attempted to reach out to the disgruntled customer in order to remedy the situation; however through some turn of events, the Social Media Manager accidentally linked the customer to a graphic photo of hardcore pornography. The social media team responded in a timely manner with the statement “We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating.”

Really, what more can you do in a situation like this? I personally don’t have the answer, however you best be sure, there is going to be a whole lot of negative publicity for U.S. Airways in the coming weeks. The scandal has already made it to Facebook.

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It has also been picked up by dozens of online media providers and other social media sites. Needless to say, if you plan on engaging in social media, practice safe posting. Protect yourself from PR nightmares such as this by checking and re-checking content before anything is posted. Also, monitor often so that if something bad does happen, you can be the first to address it and fix the problem.

Another nightmare of Public Relations created serious problems for Applebee’s restaurants recently. After a seemingly minor customer/employee tiff was posted on the internet, and the employee lost her job, the social scene went berserk.

What the initial issue came down to in my mind was the social media manager not knowing when to stop. This started as a difficult situation, because there are issues in the areas of worker’s frustration, religious involvement, as well as customer privacy, and therefore there are a lot more people to offend. So, this should have been handled delicately.

I would have started by posting on the social platforms “There was an issue with an employee and a customer that occurred in one of the franchises. It involved a negative invasion of customer’s privacy and it is being investigated currently.”

This would probably have alleviated much of the negative feedback associated with it, and people might have lost interest quite quickly. What this also would have done is to buy time for Applebee’s to come up with a more appropriate response that might please more parties. Who knows, I could see this as possibly becoming a non-issue in a short period of time. Social media users are flooded with scandal after scandal in their news feeds, which can result in a relatively short attention span. So, why at the tempest of distain, would you want to give the sharks something to feed on?

The social media manager went on to make mistake after mistake when communicating with audience, including; arguing with people, deleting comments, copy and pasting comments. They continued digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole with no end in sight.

Managing Cross-Platform Content With Hootsuite

Hootsuite (www.hootsuite.com) is a social media tracking, planning, and implementation tool that allows you to manage all of your social media profiles in one convenient location. Gone are the days of switching back and forth between profiles, copy and pasting, and all the other time consuming and tedious issues that come along with social media management. Hootsuite even allows you to create a backlog of profile updates that will launch at set times chosen by you, or you can default time sets to Hootsuite in order to allow for optimal release times to gain you the most exposure ad engagement.

Understanding Social Media Algorithms

One of the algorithms that Facebook in particular has used in the past is one called Edgerank, which calculates a posts position on a new feed based on the three variables: Affinity, Weight, and Time Decay. At this point however the other factors coming into play add up to around 100,000 different weighting mechanisms. The idea is broken down into categories of most importance to the user. For example, The more you engage with a person or business on Facebook, the more their posts will show up on your newsfeed. Skeptics of these algorithms such as Mark Cuban believe that because Facebook is a timewaster, we have no interest in having our news feed optimized by the impressions that other people have about posts. I however disagree with this idea, because I believe that the people that I choose to interact with are more in sync with the ideas that I have in my head than a random post might have with me. I think that our engagement especially with the frequency of posts these days should be optimized to show us the most important stuff first.

So, what is the takeaway from this article? Social media can be used to effectively engage your audience, build liking and preference, and alleviate issues with customer experience. However, it must be done correctly, and within strict guidelines in order to avoid PR nightmares. There are also tools that have been created to help us in businesses to manage content so that the task doesn’t seem so daunting. Also, keep in mind the algorithms when you are posting. Are you posting the most engaging, interesting content you can in order to engage your customers? If not, it might be time to rethink your content providers.

 

Anyways, feel free to comment and offer any opinions you might have on the matter. I’d love to discuss them.

Cheers!

 

Conent Marketing: How Building Trust Can Help Build Your Brand

The topic of the day is content marketing. But what exactly is content marketing? It’s a marketing strategy that focuses around coordinating your businesses development of content building, social media presence, and search engine optimization efforts in a consistent and meaningful way in order to maximize the effect that each would have individually. Each of these facets of your companies online presence are important individually, however you will see the most effective outcome if you successfully link the three of them together. Now let’s talk a little more specifically about how content marketing comes to be.

Content

The first and most crucial aspect is the development of content. Whatever social media and search engine optimization you use, it all means nothing to a content marketing strategy if there is no content to guide people to through your social media and SEO efforts. So what makes for good content? Well, deciding what is good content starts with identifying what it is that your desired customers are interested in learning more about. If you are able to correctly anticipate your customer’s needs then you can build content that is relevant to them. If you give customers bad information, you will lose credibility quickly.

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So, seriously guys, make sure the content is accurate and relevant to your audience.

One of the key ideas to consider throughout the process of content creation is the understanding that you are serving a customer need and therefore, you should develop content with the same level of quality that you would have on your company’s main product or service offering. This content is going to be an extension of your companies image which means that it is important to put quality first, otherwise people will assume that your product is of similar quality to your content.

So, what should be your goal with the development of content? Your goal should be to become the expert on whatever subject you write about and have the people searching your subject seek out your opinions in the matter. Your overall goal is to capture the hearts of these people, have them view you as a subject matter expert, and therefore when the time comes where they are interested in making a purchase, they already trust your judgment and hopefully recognize that you will also carry that quality over into your actual product or service, and therefore they will choose you over a competitor.

Now, some skeptics would look at this strategy and question whether it is ok to gain an audiences trust and then use that trust to foster business transactions. To this point, I urge those skeptics to consider that it is important to distinguish content creation for the sake increasing your search engine rankings from creating meaningful content in order to prove your competence in a particular subject matter to potential customers. Consumers today want to research prior to their purchases and see the bigger picture before making a purchase. Content marketers are there to offer opinions on the subject, and if the needs of the customer correspond with the benefits of the product offering, then guiding customers to the point of purchase becomes the final step in the process.

Social Media

The use of social is essential to the sharing of information about your business. If the content is there, but nobody is talking about it, it won’t have as much of an impact on your ability to build an audience of engaged listeners. You can use social media and blast your followers with posts encouraging them to check out your website, or buy your product. This will lose you followers fast. That isn’t to say that you can never promote your business through your social media, however if that is all that you are doing, your audience’s attention span will not last and you will soon find yourself with a considerably shorter list of followers. However, if you are posting links to relevant content that is of interest to them, they will not only continue following you and engage with your content, but they will also become one of your most important forms of promotion. When someone sees a retweet from one of their friends, they are more likely to trust the source. Every retweet is free exposure to 10’s, 100’s, even thousands of new potential audience members and therefore taking advantage of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn are going to be an essential aspect of your content marketing efforts.

Search

Finally, search engine optimization will come into play. However, if you have effectively developed content, and are guiding it through your social channels, your SEO work is almost complete. The rest just focuses on making sure that your use of keywords is optimal. Keeping in mind that search engines are continually getting smarter, however, they still need you to stay within their algorithms in order for them to search you. This means that you should integrate real terminology into your content because while you and your audience may know the relevance of nicknames, metaphors, and other creative justices that can be taken, Google may not have the capability to search that criteria, and you can lose considerable traffic when your keywords are not explicitly stated.

 

 

Content marketing is so important to the marketing mix because of the fact that it doesn’t interrupt people. People consider their time to be of great importance to them, and when you take that time away from them, they can become slightly irritated with you.

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 You are not brandishing your product in front of anyone’s face. People are actively seeking information on the subject and you are simply giving them a place to become more informed. These customers are already farther along in the purchase process than any customers you would reach through traditional efforts, therefore these are more qualified leads that you are reaching for a fraction of the cost. The fact that you are spending less money to engage more qualified leads while simultaneously developing the owned media that reflects positively on your brand makes the decision to develop a content marketing strategy a no-brainer. So, to gain a better understanding of content marketing, I recommend going out and taking a look at some examples of content on the web.

One example that jumped out at me as particularly creative is the Kraft iFood App that was developed by Kraft Foods. The app contains a database of recipes that use Kraft brand foods wherever possible in order to show give readers more reason to buy Kraft products. It also allows you to create a shopping list for when you go grocery shopping. This is a great way to engage shoppers because you are helping to make the food buying and cooking process as easy as possible for the customer. In addition you are able to promote your brand by suggesting that they use your products while preparing the recipes listed.

Recognizing the importance of content marketing as we move deeper into the digital age where customer engagement is key will have a profound effect on your company’s ability to connect with their audience. Having recently joined an agile planning software startup myself, I’ve begun developing a strategy for using content marketing to increase the strength of our brand. I will begin by developing a blog that focuses on informing readers about the benefits to an agile approach to software development. The goal of the blog is first of all, to educate ourselves on the problems that customers are running into in the software development world. Using the problems identified, we will be able to build our content in order to answer the questions that the audience has about software development, what agile can do to help, what issues currently exist with available agile software programs. From there, it is about engaging with the customer. Asking them their opinions on what they would like to see out of an agile software company will also allow us to increase and streamline our features offered in order to create the strongest user interface possible and this versatility will help to make us the most sought after product on the market. Simultaneously with the development of content, we will be developing a social media presence which will give our audience additional voice as well as act as a conduit for the increased site traffic we hope to see from our content development efforts.