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The Thrive Hive

Tips on digital marketing you can apply today.

Summary: Panel on the Future of Marketing

Kristen Lindsey - Thursday, October 13, 2016

I had a great time today participating in a panel of experts sharing with Alaska marketers about the future of marketing. My fellow panelists were Nick Coltman from the Anchorage Press and Melissa Moody from Google. For those of you that were unable to make it or did not hear about it, I thought it might be useful to have a summary of the bigger topics we covered. 

1. What do you see as the next big disruption in marketing and communications?

There are going to be bigger, better ways for marketers to really hyper-target audiences. Nick described it as sniper-style targeting. As part of that, Melissa made the great point that internet access is already happening more on mobile devices than desktops and computers, and we all agreed that mobile is here to stay and that new disruptive technologies will be primarily happening in the mobile sphere. 

I chimed in that it is critical for marketers to really hone in on target audiences and their needs, pain points, and what else empowers and engages them, then apply the targeting tactics that resonate with each of those audiences. With so many new tools, there is a lot of bad content out there that is turning off consumers. If you can create an authentic, engaging experience with your customers, you are going to cut through the clutter. A great online resource that breaks this down is the Content Marketing Institute.

Nick also pointed out that with this targeting comes much more effective measurement and analytics. It is much easier to learn quickly what works and what doesn't and focus your budget in the right places.

2. As a small business without a marketing staff member, how do we make the most of a limited budget?

Melissa: Start with online local listings and reviews - free and impactful!

Nick: It depends! On the industry, target audience, etc. But if you have $300 to spend there are a lot more inexpensive options out there to take advantage of, from an ad in the Anchorage Press to Facebook ads. 

Kristen: We counsel small business owners to keep the fast-cheap-good triangle in mind when deciding on marketing spend - you can only have two! That is a quick check to prioritize quickly. Also, as the owner with many hats, it is also important to consider how your time is best spent - using that $300 for hiring marketing professionals when your time could have a bigger impact on the business success elsewhere is an analysis of the risk of lost opportunity.

3. How do you see virtual reality playing a role in future marketing tactics?

Melissa: Virtual reality will be a huge opportunity for industries with experiential products and services as it gets more mainstream. She pointed out the important difference between 360-degree photos and Virtual Reality. 360 photos are basically a 360-degree photograph taken with a special camera or else stitched together from a number of pictures. Virtual Reality is an immersive experience that requires some sort of headset. (Incidentally, Scott at our office picked up a Google Cardboard, which allows you to experience virtual reality with some simple app downloads. Check it out!)  

It is becoming easier and more affordable to create 360-degree images and load them up on your site of social networks. She mentioned the Android SprayScape app, which allows marketers to create them quickly with their mobile phone. her advice for small businesses is to start with the 360-degree photos, then more forward from there.

Kristen: I mistook augmented reality with Virtual reality and mentioned how quickly Pokemon went mainstream, but regardless there is a point in there somewhere that even as people grasp augmented reality, it makes it easier for our potential consumer markets to understand Virtual Reality, and that is when the technology is going to become useful to us as marketers. The other point I made was that regardless of what disruptive technology comes down the line, Virtual reality included, that we still need to execute the fundamental ,marketing task of identifying those micro-audiences and understand what content and experiences engage them, THEN apply the technology.

4. How can the big Alaska businesses find marketing opportunity in the current economic situation?

Melissa: there are definitely opportunities in other markets. I was at the Alaska Travel Industry Association convention last week, and hearing Governor Walker talk about the huge cuts in the state marketing budget was hard to hear. But that is completely the wrong way to go, because tourism is an Alaska industry of opportunity.

Kristen: Since we are all dependent on oil and gas to create the business economy here, all industries need to evaluate their opportunities. Just like the state is losing an opportunity by cutting back on the tourism marketing budget, individual businesses must continue to double down on knowing their customers and taking advantage of these new marketing trends. One important way for marketers to do this is to restructure their work process to be able to respond more quickly to consumers with the tactics available, learn what works and what doesn't on the fly, and more forward with what is successful.

Nick: Obviously, marketing is not going to help oil and gas. They need more production and volume. But all the rest of the businesses cannot hide in the sand - their competitors will take up that lost space.

5. One word to sum up the future of marketing:

Nick: Targeting

Melissa: Mobile

Kristen: Agile






Alaska Tourism - How Can You Thrive With Minimal State Marketing

Kristen Lindsey - Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The state of Alaska's budget woes have reached the tourism industry. Despite near record visitor numbers and a thriving industry, critical state marketing support for the industry has dwindled from upwards of twenty million dollars to to a mere 1.5 million dollars.

Many of our clients are asking about how they can retool their own marketing programs in response to this situation. Here are some digital strategies to consider:

1.  Do you have the right business intelligence?

Of course, businesses look at overall revenues, profit margins, etc. but there are other important ways of tracking your marketing program. Evaluating which analytics you review to support your marketing objectives is an important first step. 

You need a fuel gauge in your car to know if you're running out of fuel, right? Just looking at miles traveled will not tell you if you are in danger. Are you looking at mere website traffic to determine your digital success? Rethink your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and find the ones that give you actionable information. Some examples of KPIs we use with some clients are engaged visitors (sessions of x page views or more), shopping cart abandonment rate, average order value and more.

2. How is your website conversion rate?

Is your site optimized to maximize bookings? An incremental increase in your conversion rate is one of the biggest ways you can improve your digital marketing performance. Analysis tools like heat maps, exit surveys or landing page optimization testing can help you find areas of opportunity. Google Analytics has multiple ways to measure conversion, and spending a little on development to get this information can pay big dividends.

3. Are you spending your digital advertising in the right places?

U.S. department store merchant John Wanamaker is credited with the quote, "I know half my advertising is working; I just don't know which half." With digital advertising & marketing, this is no longer the case. Conducting an ad cost analysis (i.e. cost per conversion by advertising medium) can prevent you from throwing money at a poor performing tactic and underspending on something really valuable. For example, when executed properly, paid search advertising can have the lowest cost per acquisition of almost any other type of advertising. If you have an effective paid search program but not maximizing your spending, you are losing cost effective conversions.

4. Is your site mobile optimized?

So many travelers are making decisions on where to eat, what to do and even where to stay once they have already arrived at their destination, and they are mostly using mobile devices to make these bookings. If your site is not optimized for mobile yet, it is time to bite the bullet and make the investment. Yes, it is a capital expense that may feel like a lot, but is the most important part of conversion optimization you can undertake.

5. It is time to professionalize your social media presence.

Playing around with social media and seeing if it can contribute to your marketing program is a thing of the past. The size of audiences on social media now easily rival audiences in other areas, such as search. Developing a coordinated social media strategy in alignment with the rest of your marketing as well as exploring paid social advertising options will enhance your overall program and increase its impact. As with all marketing, with digital, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Synergy and consistent message among all tactics - search, display, email, social - can have a disproportionate impact and huge bang for the buck.

So, if you are looking for ways to leverage your marketing program further to make up for State of Alaska marketing program support, here are some ideas to start with. Do these resonate with you? Any other comments on digital opportunities you see? Please share in the comments!




MozCon 2013: Reflections and Takeaways

Scott Thomas - Friday, July 12, 2013

For the second year in a row, Apokrisis has sent me to MozCon, an annual conference focusing on SEO and Inbound Marketing in Seattle. Over the three days of sessions and networking opportunities, I was exposed to a huge volume of excellent information. I will not attempt to completely summarize every day, but pick out some my personal highlights. Overall, I felt that over 80% of the presentations ranged from Great to Awesome (paraphrasing the categories from post-conference survey here).

Day 1

The day started with Rand Fishkin providing an excellent review of current situation and the top five trends to watch for in SEO and marketing in the coming year. Richard Baxter demonstrated a method to target top influencers in a field, and Avinash Kaushik wowed the crowd with an entertaining and energetic presentation on how to Simplify Complexity for Higher ROI. Afterwards, I was lucky enough to thank him for the presentation and for my experience with his Market Motive Analytics course last year (yes the class is absolutely awesome and you should take the class if you work with web analytics). Among my personal highlights and takeaways from the afternoon sessions included actionable tactics for link building, the imperative to make everything mobile friendly, and a summary of the Moz SEO Ranking Factors 2013 survey and correlation study.

Day 2

Day 2 started off with an excellent presentation by Phil Nottingham on Video Marketing Strategies – Phil provided everything one needs to get started on utilizing video in online marketing strategies. Joanna Lord’s presentation on Customer/Brand Loyalty followed up on the importance of building your brand, which I felt was one of the overall themes & takeaways from the conference. Other excellent presentations covered eCommerce SEO, relationship building, optimization and testing, dealing with the loss of keyword KPIs, local search, and the future of user experience. 

Day 3

Rand Fishkin: MozCon 2013

For day three, there were many excellent presentations, but I will focus only on three that felt the most critical to me. Dr. Pete Meyers presentation on the future of rankings was a startling wake up call that if all you know is where you rank, you don’t really know anything. Eyeballs and attention are being kept on Google whenever possible (many answers often provide directly or in the Knowledge Graph). Of the 10,000 SERPs that they track for the

MozCast, only 15% have no rich information. Said another way, only 15% in this sample are in the generic “10 Blue Links” format.

Wil Reynolds knocked it out of the park (again!) in his presentation “The Internet Hates Us. Can RCS Change That?” If you are unfamiliar with the RCS term, check out the Real company stuff… It’s a struggle slidedeck from Wil’s presentation at the 2012 Mozcon. My key takeaways from the presentation were: respecting other disciplines, get out of the SEO echo chamber, create things that add value for the long term (build the brand); and most importantly – learn to do these things before other agencies learn how to do SEO and Inbound Marketing better.

Rand Fishkin brought it all together for me with “The Secret Ingredients of Better Marketing.” The key takeaway for me was the value of being transparent, honest, authentic, open & generous. To paraphrase a key point: if all you do is mimic your competitors, then you’ve already lost. 

The other speakers on day 3 were excellent as well, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll end my day 3 summary there. 

My Personal Takeaways for SEO and Inbound Marketing

Scott Thomas with Roger

The shift is on at Google and Bing to entity based search, and those of us in the search marketing industry must pivot accordingly. Building brands and authenticity will be critical to establish visibility across a variety of channels. I was inspired by the strategic emphasis at the conference and I hope to put what I’ve learned to use in the coming year. Thanks again to Moz for putting MozCon together and the shining examples of leadership displayed by the speakers. I cannot wrap this up without mentioning that a huge benefit of the conference is the opportunity to meet so many great people in the industry, from all over the world, no less! 

Spending time in Seattle is another highlight as well - great food, coffee, sightseeing, and culture. A heart-felt thank you to Moz for another great conference. I plan on going back in 2014! 

Other MozCon 2013 Resources




Google+ Pages Now Open to Businesses & Organizations

Scott Thomas - Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Businesses and organizations can now create their own Google+ pages on the Google+ social network. To get started, make sure you have a Google+ personal account first, and then visit the Google+ create a page. Note that if you are a Google Apps user, your admin will have to enable the use of Google+ first. Once you are logged into your Google+ personal account and start the create a new page, you will have the option of creating a page in one of the five categories:

  • Local Business or Place (this includes special options, including the ability to add a phone number)
  • Product or Brand
  • Company, Institution or Organization
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports
  • Other

One major difference from personal Google+ accounts: a business can have multiple+ pages. You can separate out divisions within your organization or create pages for different products, if desired.

In order for a business to be added to a circle, visitors will have to select the "Add to Circles" button, the +1 buttons will not cause a business page to be followed with Google Plus. New badges and verifications are being rolled for businesses to use on their websites as well (allowing badges to be created that links to your Google+ page). 

Currently, only one person can manage or own a Google+ page, so there is the potential for others outside of your organization to make "your" page. Verification is available for big brands, and the Google+ page must be connected to a website before the new badges can be used. Additional verification and administrative options will likely be introduced in the future.

Some key features of how the Google+ pages work include:

  1. A user can +1 a Google+ Page or add the page to their circle. 
  2. No Google+ page can follow you until you follow them. 
  3. Google+ pages cannot mention you unless you are connected (to help prevent mention spam).
  4. Google+ pages unfollow users if they unfollow the page. The user is in control here.
  5. Google+ pages can be found in Google search. A new feature called Direct Connect, allows searches by typing the + first, followed by the brand name.

Google+ has launched a new online guide for sharing, promoting, and measuring the impact of your new Google+ page(s). The option for face to face video chats could be particularly valuable for businesses.





Googe+ Now Available for Google Apps Users

Scott Thomas - Thursday, October 27, 2011

Google has enabled Google Apps users to begin using Google+. This should increase the number of Google+ users, and make it easier for Apps users to participate in Google +. Check out the official blog post noted above and review the requirements and precautions within your organization's Google Apps account (Google+ requires Picasa Web Albums and Google Talk to be enabled for the organization).

Be aware that Google+ profiles fall under the control of the business or organization. One change for Google Apps users is that you will have the option to share with everyone in your organization, even if you haven't added all of those people to a circle.

For people who started using Google+ with a personal Google account, and would prefer to use a Google Apps account, there will be a migration tool released in the near future (reportedly in a few weeks). Hopefully, the migration tool will work in the opposite way as well. If one leaves an organization, it would ideal to move your Google+ profile to your personal account.



Cool New App for Twitter - Live Webcasting

Kristen Lindsey - Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I just came across a cool new application for Twitter - TwitCam provides a simple means to distribute a videocast on your Twitter feed.

TwitPic, another interactive tool for Twitter, allows you to post pictures into your feed, and many people can view it right within your Twitter feed.

These tools allow you to add significant interactivity to your Twitter conversation, and it is a nice distribution method if photo and video are already a part of your web content strategy.

Do you use Twitter? Have you found TwitPic to be a valuable tool? How do you see TwitCam applying to your web business? Please share!