What’s all this About the Internet of Things?

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By Sue Brady

Earth

You’ve heard it a lot, but have you thought about what it means?

First a definition. The Internet of Things refers not just to computers and mobile devices, but also to all of the other things that can be hooked up to the Internet, like your home security system, your thermostat, wearable devices, building automation, car insurance based on how much you drive. Even tracking your pet’s location in the event he runs away. It ultimately might include things like automated cities where street lighting is controlled through the Internet, or smart water systems (Sau Paulo already is claiming they’ve reduced leaks in their water systems by putting Internet connected sensors on their pumps).

Experts are predicting a massive market change brought on by the Internet of Things.

And what does that mean for marketers? It’s big and it’s coming.

There are so many ways the Internet of things could change the way we sell our products. On a basic level, the Internet of Things could take outdoor advertising to a whole new level by automating billboards. Signage could be changed through programming based on weather or traffic patterns of the moment or the outcome of a local sporting event. Ecommerce retailers could push alerts to customers of package deliveries by using a scanner on the front door. TV advertising could be changed by the moment based on events happening right then. Call centers could be connected to make efficient use of the pathways into their center for call arrivals and for the data that could be attached to those calls (think demographic data, data about devices currently in use by the caller) and create more intelligent algorithms to route those calls. DoNotCall could happen real-time for outbound calling programs. There are thousands of ways the Internet of Things can change marketing…all hopefully for the better! Give the customer what they want, when they want it.

There’s an opportunity here for strategic, creative thinkers to make a huge impact with some really great ideas. Time to use our brains and innovate.

It’s about to be a whole new world.

Do You Have a Chief Marketing Technologist?

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By Sue BradyThe C Suite

In the last year or so, I’ve been hearing more about a new title that’s hitting the C-suite: Chief Marketing Technologist. I actually came across an old article from 2010 where Scott Brinker talked about this hybrid role. And that got me to thinking about why this role is being talked about so much now, and what type of job it entails. I was shocked to read that in 2013, 81% of large companies had this position! No wonder it’s being talked about. It’s a widespread role among big companies!

The bottom line is, marketing technology has gotten more sophisticated and increasingly critical over time. Someone needs to be dedicated to evaluating the field of products and choosing the right solution for Marketing, and then continuing to make recommendations for updates or changes as their business evolves.

Here’s just some of the marketing technologies that many companies consider to be a necessity:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems automate your sales lead management and track your sales by scheduling and sending out emails, prompting the sales team when it’s time to make a call, tracking customer revenue and more. They are generally focused on lead management from a sales perspective. This type of system generally sits with Sales, and salesforce.com is a example.
  • Marketing Automation Systems focus on lead management. They can be used to manage marketing campaigns, aid in landing page development, testing automation, tracking online visitors. To be fair, there is some overlap with CRM systems, because marketing automation systems also manage leads. And in fact, some consider Marketing Automation tools to be a segment of CRM. Automation systems have more sophisticated lead nurturing capabilities, from modeling to lead scoring and are focused on Marketing. Marketo and Silverpop fall into this space.
  • Content Management Systems (CMS) organize and automate your content. A CMS can drive which website visitors see what content. It can help your content producers organize and reuse existing content on your website, blogs, landing pages and ads. Examples are HubSpot and WordPress.

So what exactly does the Chief Marketing Technologist do? Scott Brinker outlined three main areas back in that article from 2010 and I’d guess they haven’t really changed:

  1. The CMT helps the CMO translate strategy into technology and technology into strategy. It’s sort of the high level version of the project manager who translates marketing needs into technical requirements.
  2. The CMT ties together the marketing, technology and data to find the commonalities between them. That means the CMT can start making use of all that ‘big data’ that everyone is talking about.
  3. The CMT helps technology permeate the marketing department and make the department run smoother, more efficiently, and more productively.

Sounds like a critical role every business should consider. Do you have a Chief Marketing Technologist?

Important: Don’t Ignore Video in Your Content Marketing

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By Sue Brady

Film you own.

If you haven’t jumped on the video bandwagon, it’s time. YouTube claims to have over 1 billion unique users per month. That’s one seventh of the world’s population! According to a Nielson study last year of brand marketers, 64% said that video content will dominate their strategies as they move forward. I’ve read in a number of places that the future of content marketing is in video.

Like other forms of content, video content needs to be relevant, compelling and engaging. Know your audience and how to talk to them, and know your video goals. It’s not enough to post your ad to YouTube and hope it catches on. Instead, think bigger:

  • Produce short informational videos showing your product in action, or talking about various benefits of using it.
  • Use tutorials.
  • Show yourself as the expert in your industry so that when it comes time for a user to purchase what you’re selling, they’ll think of you first.
  • Film some of your customers making positive comments about your product.
  • Solicit content from your customers by having them upload their own videos.

Make sure your videos are interesting so that they’ll be watched. And don’t forget to include a call to action if appropriate.

Video has applications for both B2B and B2C brands. For one thing, there is a beneficial impact to SEO that shouldn’t be ignored. These 10 tips will help you optimize your video for local SEO. Video appears in Google search in a whopping 70% of the results (source: Searchmetrics).

Figure out the length that will work best for you. Shorter videos seem to be well received in the business world, though the length you decide on should be driven by your goals. Forbes Insight’s Report found that 47% of the C-Suite prefer videos to be 3-5 minutes in length. You do want your video to be long enough to convey your message, and if you think your target audience will watch a 10-minute how-to video, then don’t cut it too short.

Identify where you’ll be posting your video. YouTube is an obvious choice, but maybe a video would do well on your company’s website or blog. Or perhaps a video is appropriate on a pay per click or banner landing page. Consider your audience as you make these decisions. And don’t forget to make your video mobile friendly. 40% of YouTube viewing happens on a mobile device.

A long time ago, at the turn of this century, I worked for AOL and needed to show how easy and beneficial it was to sign up for a new program we were launching. I created a video to run on the AOL site that used animated graphics to demonstrate the ease with which our customers could enroll in, and use, the program. Over a million people did! Who knew I was on the cutting edge of a trend?

In a recent post on humor, I mentioned the Kmart videos that went viral. Who doesn’t want that? But going viral doesn’t need to be your goal. Figure out what is, and get started. That’s the hardest hurdle to jump.

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Updated: Some Cool Twitter Features You may not Know About

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By Sue BradyTwitter

Twitter added a new fun feature yesterday, so I thought I’d update this post  so that you have the latest and greatest.

Twitter has recently rolled out a number of features (the first two were not included in my original post). They are summarized here for your tweeting pleasure.

GIFs – Twitter, as of yesterday, supports animated GIFs. It’s been established that posts with pictures get higher engagements, and I expect GIFs will do even better. To see the GIF in action, the user does have to click on the play button. Let the fun begin!

Tagging People in Photos – Back in March, Twitter announced that when you are on a mobile device, you can tag your friends. Holy Facebook!

Mute Feature – It is now possible to continue to follow someone, but mute their updates for as long as you care to. In other words, if you decide you no longer want to see someone’s updates for a while, but you also don’t want to ‘unfollow’ them, you can put them on mute. This feature is not fully rolled out yet. I have access to it via TweetDeck (owned by Twitter), but not yet from Twitter.com. To see if you have this feature, click on the … that appears to the right under a person’s tweet. A box with options will present. Then click on mute. The person you mute is not notified. To unmute, go to Settings, click on ‘mute,’ then ‘remove’ and then ‘done.’ (Note: I would never mute Joe Pulizzi…this is just an example!)

Twitter mute  option

 

Scheduling Tweets – This can be done from ads.twitter.com and will only work if your ad blocker is turned off or allows access to this particular site. Click on the new tweet button at the top right of your screen. A tweet box will open and you can select the Scheduling tab. There you’ll see the options to pick a date and time for your tweet. Finish by selecting the Tweet button in the lower right-hand corner. Read here about other tools you can use to schedule tweets.

Schedule your tweets

 

Search – This feature has gotten more robust over time. When you run a search on twitter.com (there’s a search bar at the top-right of your screen), you’lTwitter search barl see the options pictured below on the left side of your screen. The ‘advanced search’ option will give you a ton of choices as well.

Twitter search options

Lists – Not a particularly new feature, but a good one to know about. Using lists allows you to organize the people you follow into categories that make sense for you. You can access this feature on twitter.com by clicking on the name of a person in your feed, and then selecting the gear to reveal the drop-down box. When you select the ‘Add or remove from lists’ option, you can add this person to a list you already have created, or you can create a new one. Note that unless you make your list private, anyone who comes to your profile page can see your list titles, along with who is included in those lists. In the example below, my list called ‘Partners’ is private, meaning I’m the only one who can see who I’ve put there.

Sue's Twitter Lists#tweetsmart

An SEO expert walks into a bar, bars, pub, public house…*

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By Sue Brady

OstrichDoes humor have a place in your content marketing?

Earlier this week I participated in a content marketing tweet chat (#cmworld). There were some questions asked about using humor in your content: is it appropriate, what if your brand personality doesn’t lend itself to humor, what if you aren’t funny?

There’s value in not taking yourself too seriously. Brands use humor to make their ads memorable. According to a study by Millward Brown last year, funnier ads are much more memorable than those without. They found that humorous ads scored in the 74th percentile on average for involvement, while those without were only in the 42nd percentile. Humor can translate globally as long as it’s not offensive and has a universal interpretation (think puppies and babies). Nielson did a study (Global Survey of Trust in Advertising) and found that 47% of global Internet respondents (Q=29,000) said that humorous ads resonated most with them.

And that got me to thinking about brands I’ve seen who’ve used humor well.CIA.jpg

The CIA, certainly not known for its sense of humor, published its first tweet last week. Almost everyone found it humorous and at almost 300,000 retweets as of this writing, it was certainly popular. And it got folks talking about the CIA in a positive way.

Until last year I never thought of Kmart as having a sense of humor. But then they created a couple of hilarious commercials that were a little off color, but in a somehow acceptable way. My impression of Kmart has been forever changed. The first, Ship my Pants had over 30 million views on YouTube.  They followed up with another, almost as funny bit called Big Gas Saving.

Ana Gasteyer of Saturday Night Live fame wrote such funny tweets about Weight Watchers that they asked her to be a spokesperson. She had written tweets such as: “Hey @weighwatchers, How many Activity points for sweatily trying to get out of a Spanx undershirt?” and “Hey @WeightWatchers how many #activitypoints for re-threading string thru the waistband of my gym shorts? Came out in dryer so can’t workout.”

While I’ve found a lot of humorous content in consumer brands, I also found an article in Forbes last December, written by Ekaterina Walter that identifies 3 great B2B examples of effective use of humor by Cisco, Kinaxis (supply chain management) and Epuron (clean energy). You can see those here.

The real key to using humor is to know your audience and know when not to use humor. (Customer Service for instance is probably not a good place to use humor.) If you know your brand’s personality and can use humor in a positive way, I say give it a try.

What are your favorite examples?

*Note: I cannot find the author of this joke to give credit where credit is due.