Archive for July, 2017

Orbitz Orchestrates a Quality Travel Quiz

by Jenna Scaglione on 07/21/2017

I should be living in Texas, working as a horse rancher, eating lots of vegan yogurt (because I’m a Gemini), while gallivanting around with my BFF Disney princess, Rapunzel. I know this because four Facebook quiz results told me so.

 

The sad reality is that I have succumbed to taking some of those pointless quizzes (insert ashamed monkey with his hands over his eyes emoji). You know you have too.

Brands also know this, and as a result, they are using quizzes as lead generation tools to compel customers to take a look at their companies—and hopefully become leads. Orbitz for Business is one such brand.

Orbitz for Business created a travel quiz called “Is Your Travel Partner A Perfect Match?” The quiz targets corporations that book travel for their employees since the company offers business travel booking services. The quiz is designed to introduce corporations to the service and essentially steal people away from their current travel partners.

In true online quiz form, Orbitz made the quiz fun and whimsical to attract more people.

Notice the heart and the copy below the quiz button. This vibe is carried throughout the quiz. Here is one of the questions:

After the quiz, Orbitz collects the quiz taker’s name and email as a prerequisite to revealing the results. Lead received. The results reveal whether or not you are a match with your travel partner. I chose all positive answers and got this result.

Why do we love personalized quizzes?

Quizzes have been trending for years now, and though BuzzFeed has slowed down a bit, I still see quiz results tainting…I mean gracing my Facebook feed regularly.

We know these quizzes mean nothing so why do we crave them? Admittedly, as I was taking the “Which Disney princess should be your best friend?” quiz, I wanted the result to be Belle, but I got Rapunzel. What is wrong with me? What’s wrong with all of us?

Nothing, really. For centuries, humans innately have been searching for their own identities, who they are and what makes them tick. From the Rorschach Inkblot test to Meyers-Briggs, humans love to discover more about themselves, as it seems an unending quest.

What does all of this have to do with content marketing?

Marketers capitalize on consumer desires and trends to generate leads, sales and more buzz for their brands. Wherever there is pure desire, it can signal an outlet to target for your content marketing campaigns.

Orbitz realized the value of this type of desire-driven content and cleverly retrofitted it into a quiz to generate leads for its service.

Will quizzes work for my business?

It depends. Do you have people as customers? If so (I am hoping that is a “yes”), a quiz may be a beneficial lead generation strategy. Unless you sell something like airplane parts or rubber tubing, quizzes may help you attract more people to your brand and generate potential leads.

If you are thinking about creating a quiz, here are some tips:

Make it fun – No one wants to take a boring quiz. Keep it clever and creative. Use images where possible.

Make it human – Don’t use business language or industry speak in your quizzes. Speak in colloquial language as quizzes lend themselves to a more relaxed vibe.

Keep it short – Avoid asking more than 10 questions. The BuzzFeed average is 8-10.

Encourage sharing – Make it easy for your quiz-takers to share the quiz. Next to the result, add share buttons with a prominent call to action.

Although quizzes are a cool way to generate leads, you don’t necessarily need one to generate buzz and new leads for your business. But, you do need to know and apply some solid content marketing principles, test those strategies and tweak them for maximum effectiveness. If you want some assistance with this, feel free to try us out for free for 30 days. You will receive a free content analysis, content ideas, a free piece of content, a promotional plan and more, with no commitment required.

Check Out This Interactive Video That Lures You to Switzerland

by Laura College on 07/19/2017


Who doesn’t want to make a snow angel in Switzerland?

Interactive media was nearly impossible just a decade or so, but now it’s taking the internet by storm. Consider an interactive marketing video created for Lausanne, Switzerland. It’s part educational, part promotional, and part hilarious.

How Guides Can Engage Customers

Whether you’re promoting a city, a business, a non-profit, or a blog, guides can help viewers feel as though they’re part of the action. There’s a feeling of inclusivity that results from such guides, especially if they provide insider information that the average person doesn’t know.

In years past, we’ve seen content marketers create guides in all industries, whether they’re teaching customers how to work a new product or giving customers tours of their facilities. However, static content isn’t nearly as engaging and powerful as interactive content.

Guides and tours allow viewers to experience something they might not get to see otherwise. You can’t fly your customers to your manufacturing plant in Boulder Flats, Wyoming, for instance, but you can give an inside tour through the power of video and the internet. Ratchet up the engagement factor with interactive components.

How Interactivity Works

The video begins just like most videos you might watch on YouTube or your favorite blogger’s posts. There’s an introduction featuring a colorful character who lets you know what you can expect to find in the video and adds a bit of excitement about the subject matter — in this case, a tourist destination.

There’s a difference though. At various times throughout the video, the viewer can make a decision. The first one is whether you want information about visiting in the winter or summer. Instead of sitting through information that doesn’t interest you, jump directly to the season during which you plan to visit.

Other interactive options appear based on your choice. For instance, after selecting “winter,” you get some great video footage with voiceover narration, and then you’re asked to choose between indoor and outdoor activities.

The options might seem to pass too quickly, depending on your internet speed, but you’ll see two icons at the bottom of your screen that let you go back to the previous decision or move forward to the next. It’s a completely customizable experience for the viewer.

How Comedy Can Make Interactive Video Even More Compelling

Solo Twister in a hotel room? Why not?

Even the most beautifully shot video won’t get many views (or shares) if it’s filled with dull content. The makers of the Lausanne video seemed to know this going in, so they made sure to capture plenty of hilarity for the final cut.

Each funny moment compels the viewer to keep watching through various decisions. It’s a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel for marketing, but with far less harrowing results.

The video’s main star is also self-aware, not taking himself seriously even while beautifully illustrating everything Lausanne has to offer.

How You Can Replicate This Method

If you want to bring more visitors to your website, expose your brand to a larger audience, or even get a piece of content to go viral, you might consider developing an interactive video.

What do you need?

  • A star of the show: Someone should assume the role of actor and guide the user through the experience.
  • The right tech: You’ll need a high-quality video camera to capture stunning images in both live mode and stills.
  • A development team: It takes serious programming chops to make an interactive video, so this isn’t something you should expect to throw together over the weekend.
  • A brilliant script: The interactivity novelty is already fading, so you need a great script to keep your audience’s attention.

We’re all about trying new content marketing strategies. What are you waiting for? Get a free trial today and take your own content marketing strategy to the next level.

4 Reasons Your Blog Title is Turning People Off

by Susan Guillory on 07/17/2017

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a good blog title is worth a thousand clicks. But a bad one, well, that’s a different story. Your blog title is the arguably the most important component of your content; if it’s good, it will entice people to click it to read the content. A good title can make the difference between only your mother reading your content and attracting a wider audience of the kinds of people you want to read it (potential customers).

If you’re not getting the results you want with your blog content, you might be making these grievous errors with your blog title.

1. It’s Not Intriguing

A good blog title should be curiosity-piquing and interesting. It should make people scratch their heads and wonder what they’ll learn if they click it to read your article. Show a little leg, but not too much. Here’s an example:

Before: 6 Things to Know About Parakeets

After: 6 Critical Facts You Must Know Before Buying a Parakeet

The first title is bland and vanilla. But you see how the second title creates a sense of urgency and makes you feel you absolutely must click the title (if you’re thinking about buying a parakeet, of course)?

 

2. It’s Too Long

Did you know that a blog title any longer than 70 characters will be cut off in Google search results? If your titles have been too long, people might not be getting the full benefit of them in search results, and so might not click on them. Here’s how that can work against you:

Anything and Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Buying and Caring for Orchids

In this example, everything that comes after “Caring” would be truncated in a Google search. So people wouldn’t know what your article would tell them how to buy and care for, and so they probably wouldn’t click on your title.

Keep your titles short and to the point. Simply cutting out the “Anything and” from the example title would ensure that it was short enough to be fully included in search results.

sleepy woman
Poor woman. She’s been reading one blog title since noon.

3. You’re Going Crazy with Keywords

You’ve heard how important keywords are to your content, and so you try to use them everywhere you can, including your title. While, yes, in general, it’s a good idea to include a keyword, only do so if it sounds natural. It’s easier to sound natural if you don’t try to use a giant keyword phrase and stick instead to just one word:

Before: 5 Ways to Get Your San Diego Plumbing and Repair Needs Met

After: 5 Things to Know Before Hiring a Plumbing and Repair Specialist

It’s tempting to get the entire phrase in, but it just makes the title awkward, and no one clicks on awkward titles. You can use “San Diego” in the article to get the job done. Less is more, people.

4. Your Title is Vague

In addition to not being intriguing, your title doesn’t really tell readers what your content is about.  And so they don’t click. With so much content competing for your readers’ attention, you need to specify exactly what people can learn if they read your blog post.

Before: 10 Things to Know About Businesses

After: Top 10 Success Secrets from Highly Effective Business Owners

With just a little more effort put into crafting more engaging and specific titles, you can greatly increase the number of views a given blog post gets!

Let Media Shower help you with your content marketing. Get a free trial today!

 

Expert Interview: Kanti Kashyap of thelifetech.com on Starting Your First Blog

by Chris Martin on 07/14/2017

Kanti Kashyap is the owner of thelifetech.com and also a blogger, writer, graphic designer, and SEO enthusiast. We asked Kanti to share her experiences about blogging and operating a multi-niche blog, and learned how to make any blog more visible to computer users and search engines.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  Why did you decide to start a blog?

I am an engineer by education and a full-time blogger by profession. I got into blogging when one of my friends told me that blogging is a good resource for making money online. I had no prior knowledge of blogging or making money from a blog, but I decided I’d start a blog anyway. Last September, I started my website, and my interest in blogging grew day by day. I started learning how to create and maintain a website and how to write a blog post. I was uninformed about SEO so I did a lot of research about both SEO and blogging. I read a lot of articles and ebooks and watched YouTube videos to learn the tricks needed to succeed. So that’s how my blogging journey started.

What are some of the advantages of featuring a wide range of topics on your blog instead of just focusing on one or two areas?

The biggest advantage of this model is its wide scope. A blog with different topics will never bore you as a blogger or your visitors. You will have the freedom to spread your thoughts through your blog and you can uncover as many niches you want. By featuring multiple topics, you can generate a huge amount of traffic from social media. In fact, there are some popular multi-niche blogs which get their largest proportion of traffic from social media.

How do you decide which guest posts and guest bloggers to feature on your blog? What are the qualities of a good article for your blog?

The quality of a good guest post actually depends on the kind of information and topic it covers. I always look at the social media profiles of a guest blogger before choosing to work with them. I also ask them to show their proof of their previous guest posting work so that I can decide whether I should choose them or not.

A quality article is one which includes useful information, is engaging to users, is easy to read, has perfect grammar and spelling, and is relevant. As a blog owner, every item that you write and publish on the web reflects back on your business or your personal brand. It’s worth reviewing again and again to make sure that there aren’t any glaring typos, grammar errors, or missing information.

What are some of the main methods you use to make your blog more visible to Internet users?

To increase the visibility of my blog, I mostly rely on search engines for my traffic (75% of my blog traffic comes from search engines). But at the same time, I use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Now, Facebook and LinkedIn are the top referring sites for my blog traffic after search engines.

 How do you utilize social media to help promote your blog and its content?

There are tons of opportunities for you to promote your blog on every one of the social media networks, but it is better to focus on just a couple social media networks (or even one) to promote your blog. When I started off, traffic wasn’t really important; but now when I see that people are coming back to my blog, it gives me a boost to do better. I promote my blog via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I have joined Facebook groups and shared my articles there. I also use Google Analytics tools to measure traffic or to check how many people visited my blog in a day.

How difficult is it to make money from blogging or operating a blog?

This can be a confusing question because it completely depends on your skill level and personality. It’s not as hard as you think it is if you have the right personality for it.

It’s not hard to make money from blogging at all if you…

  • Have the required skills needed to blog
  • Have the knowledge of something that you can teach
  • Have the willingness to work hard
  • Are able to read people and know what will make them take action

What do you expect to see in the future for bloggers and people who operate blogs?

In the coming years, the blogging industry will expand; and due to the ever-increasing competition in blogging and the maturity of Google’s intelligence, you need to really stress on creating quality content so as to stand out from other content in your niche. Because Google is on its way to analyzing the content more effectively than humans can.

In the future, the SEO industry will also grow. and SEO will not be just limited to link-building or one-time optimization. Instead, it will be an ongoing process and become more user-centric than search engine-centric.

Let Media Shower help your blog get more traffic. Start your free trial today!

 

 

The Comprehensive Guide to Lead Generation Tools

by Jenna Scaglione on 07/12/2017

At a Glance

  • What are lead generation tools and do you need them? 
  • How do they work? How about costs?
  • An in-depth look at the most popular tools, pricing, reviews, and more

 

You spent months creating a shiny new, smoking hot lead offer. You thoroughly researched your market and hired a snazzy designer to make it beautiful and eye-catching. Your content is inspired, compelling and competition-crushing. After a long-awaited, highly-anticipated production period, you tell all your friends, family and neighbors about it, launch it to the world and expect your audience to be all like:

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But, instead, not a single person shows up to download it.

The reality is that it can be super difficult to generate high-quality leads consistently…even if your lead offer is smoking hot.

Full-scale, ROI-boosting lead generation is a lot more time and labor-intensive than simply publishing a shiny new landing page and sending it out into the internet. In fact, generating high-quality leads is a top challenge for 61% of B2B marketers.

BUT…You need leads to grow your business. You need leads to survive and thrive. You need leads to sell your high-end products. You need leads to…well, you get it. And, you know exactly how valuable a consistent stream of qualified leads are for your expanding organization. But, to acquire a high number of these leads and continue to scale this thing, it takes a lot of time, and let’s face it…it’s just plain difficult to do so consistently.

However, 80% of B2B marketers rate “generating quality leads” as the marketing technique with the highest profit potential. It’s essential!

So how do you generate leads faster, easier and more efficiently?

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…Introducing lead generation tools.

What are Lead Generation Tools?

Lead generation tools are software-based programs and applications that assist businesses with the complex, often tedious process of lead generation, and help them to, well, just plain get more!

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Leads can be anything from an email subscriber who just took advantage of your lead offer to a person you found on LinkedIn who you know would be interested in your services, and everything in between.

Are Lead Generation Tools for You?

Does your business collect personal information from people who could potentially become purchasers of your products and services? Do you want to cut down on manual labor and laborious research and invest this time back into money-making processes? If so, you may need a lead generation tool.

Here are some examples of businesses that could benefit from these tools:

B2C

B2C (business-to-consumer) companies sell directly to consumers and they typically have short sales cycles. This means that once they get a lead, the sale often comes a short time after. Lead generation tools can help automate the process of gathering these leads and make acquiring sales seamless and easier.

Here are some B2C business examples where lead generation may be an integral component of an overall marketing strategy:

  • Services business looking for interested candidates (Construction, plumbing, etc.)
  • Insurance leads (health, auto, life, etc.)
  • Real estate professionals

B2B

B2B (business-to-business) companies generate leads and nurture them until they buy. The sales cycles are typically longer and require more communication and relationship building than a B2C company. Sometimes, more than one decision maker is involved in purchases, which also lengthens the sales cycle duration. Lead generation tools will be advantageous to B2B companies because some include lead management and customer relationship management which is crucial to landing a sale once a lead is acquired.

Just about any B2B company (SaaS providers, membership sites, digital product business, anyone taking advantage of content marketing) can benefit from lead generation tools. If you are gathering interested people on to some sort of list or database in an effort to sell to them later, you are generating leads. If your sales cycle is longer and you need to nurture leads, there are tools to assist with this level of customer relationship management as well.

As we go through the different lead generation tool categories later in this guide, I will specify whether or not a specific tool will be valuable to a B2C or B2B company. Some may not be worth your money investment.

Do Lead Generation Tools Work?

Imagine if you could press a shiny green button on your clothes washer, walk away, and when you return, your clothes are not only washed and dried but wrinkle-free and folded neatly in your drawers.

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Okay, maybe you would look at me strange if you saw your laundry wash and fold itself, but the point is that automation is a time-saver.

Today’s marketers need ways to generate large numbers of top-quality leads and to convert them at high rates, without sacrificing a lot of time and resources. Lead generation tools can help with this.

Lead generation often involves one or more of these tasks depending on the strategy you execute:

  • Target research and identification
  • Analytics research
  • Prospecting
  • Ongoing communication
  • Data entry
  • Content development
  • Graphic design
  • Development
  • Split testing
  • Many more…

These strategies may involve a lot of manual manpower, time and resources to accomplish fully. However, this time and effort can limit your growth potential and place a cap on your earnings.

One way to break this cycle is to take advantage of marketing automation in the form of lead generation tools. In a VB insight study, 80% of people who took advantage of marketing automation saw their number of leads increase and 77% saw the number of conversions increase.

Using tools that automate some of your lead generation allows you to add your time and resources back into the business and reallocate them to growth-stimulating activities…

…instead of, well, being like this guy…

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How Do They Work?

Lead generation tools work by automating or speeding up the time it takes you to find, attract and manage leads, making your lead generation campaigns more efficient and effective.

For example, some lead generation tools can monitor your website visitors’ activity on your site so you can more effectively target and attract them, a task you would not be able to execute normally. This can also bring in a greater number of leads you would have otherwise missed.

Found a potential lead but don’t know how to contact him/her? Instead of scouring the web looking for contact information, use lead generation tools to search, giving you automatic results in seconds.

Maybe you are trying to gather leads onto your email list and you want to start with a high-converting landing page instead of hiring a designer and a developer and then split testing several manually. Lead generation tools can help with this too.

We will give you some more lead generation tool examples below but these are just a few of the ways these tools work.

How Much Do They Cost?

Lead generation tools vary in price depending on the complexity and the category. Some tools cost as little as dollars a month while others will run into the thousands.

I’ll discuss pricing below for many popular tools, but when contemplating the prices, consider what you will save in time and labor when implementing these tools. Many also have free trials so you can get an idea of how they work and give them a test drive.

Start Your Free Trial

Lead Generation Tools

Below are some popular lead generation tools on the market. They fall into different categories depending on their function and what features they offer.

Lead Databases 

Lead databases allow companies to gather legally sourced and verified targeted leads for their industry from a large database. Some databases also have contact features so you can message the lead directly from the platform and also manage the nurturing process.

These tools below are best suited for B2B companies.

Limeleads  

Limeleads is a B2B lead database platform that allows you to search for leads by position and industry and access their contact information. It offers leads in industries such as advertising, retail stores, medical professionals, schools, construction professionals and more.

Here is a 30-second video of how Limeleads can help you find targeted leads.

Pricing:

Searching is free. You only pay for the leads you export. There are two pricing options:

1. Pay as you go (per lead). Leads start at 0.48 each and decrease in price the more quantity you purchase.

2. Pay monthly – If your business gathers leads ongoing, it may be advantageous for you to select a monthly plan. Paying monthly saves you from 46 – 60% on the pay-as-you-go plan. The monthly plans start at $499 per month for 2,000 contacts.

D&B Hoovers

Formerly Avention, D&B Hoovers is another B2B lead database providing businesses detailed company and personal information. Search its database of 100 million contacts and uncover information such as company history, competitors, financials, and more, as well as personal details such as titles, job history, contact information and more. In addition, research industry information and trends and financials on more than 1,000 industry segments.

Besides generating leads, sales teams use this data to study up on leads and better prepare for sales calls, improving close rates.

Pricing:

1. Pay per list: Pricing starts at $0.24 a contact for company mailing addresses only and caps at $1.50 per lead for more robust information including emails and direct phone numbers.

Here is a more detailed look at Hoover’s pay-per-list pricing structure:

2. Subscription – Hoovers offers three subscription models with a free trial option. Subscription prices are not listed on the website.

Unomy 

Unomy features a B2B lead database and a slew of other tools to help businesses find and dig deep into their contacts’ data. In addition to lead generation, the tool also enriches your existing leads with pertinent information you can use to close more deals. Other features include B2B prospecting capabilities and Salesforce integration.

Pricing:

Pricing is not listed on the website. You need to book a demonstration to discuss pricing details with a team member.

Real-time Website Communication 

On-site communication tools run on your website and allow you to interact with visitors. These leads are more targeted because you can tailor your messages to the page they are visiting or how much time they spent on a particular page. These tools are valuable for both B2C and B2B companies that want to capture a potential lead or customer in real-time and start a conversation or answer a question.

Intercom 

Intercom offers multiple solutions for businesses named Respond, Engage and Educate. The live chat feature is a combination of Respond and Engage and it allows you to message customers in real-time (Respond) and also Engage by sending them future emails to nurture them into becoming a customer.

Businesses can set up Intercom messages on individual pages to prompt for questions and offer advice. For example, Intercom set up a real-time message while I was browsing its Live chat page. See how the message prompts me to consider switching from one of its competitors.

Pricing:

Live chat starts at $53 / month with a 14-day free trial. There are additional costs if you want to add the Educate feature which is a customer service solution.

Qualaroo

Qualaroo allows you to target people at different stages of the sales process. Get insights on people who may convert to a lead who would have otherwise left your site without converting. Ask website visitors’ questions about your website and gather data to improve conversions and sales. Target surveys by how long a visitor is on your page, how often they visited, what they searched to arrive on that page and more custom variables.

One strategy you can use is to set up surveys on pricing pages to appear after a set period of time. Ask visitors questions about your pricing and prompt for email or call by step two of the survey

Here is a video of how Qualaroo works:

Pricing:

Qualaroo offers three monthly packages, starting at $199/mo billed annually and $249/mo billed quarterly.

Website and Social Monitoring 

How many people visit your site that could have become leads? These lead generation tools monitor people on your site who could become leads but may have never filled out your forms nor contacted you. Some tools also include features enabling you to contact potential leads.

LeadForensics 

This tool enables you to capture the company information or affiliation of the people who visit your website but do not become leads. Also, get access to what content these people viewed and how to contact them. Use LeadForensics to find the companies who may be monitoring your website content. Are any users visiting your contact form but not filling it out? This could be a sign of interested potential leads.

User feedback: Twenty-five reviewers on G2 Crowd gave LeadForensics an average of 3.2 out of 5 stars. Though many liked LeadForensics and its filtering and sorting capabilities, one negative point users mentioned was that the tool does not supply the exact contact information of the person visiting your site, just the company profile. Other users felt this was not a big deal as you could still find contact information from the company in question using other methods.

Pricing:

Pricing is not listed on the website but the company offers a free trial with sign up.

ActiveCampaign 

ActiveCampaign is an email service that enables you to track a user’s interaction on your website and then make these triggers for your email campaigns. The tool also houses robust features such as CRM (customer relationship management) capabilities with lead nurturing and scoring, contact segmentation, multiple integrations and more. Monitor your users’ activity and initiate contact when a lead visits a specific website page. For example, create a segment of leads who visit your pricing page and clicked to “buy,” but did not go through with the purchase. Send these cold leads messages to convert them into warm leads.

User feedback: Gertrude Nonterah of MyOnlineBizJourney.com uses ActiveCampaign to email her subscribers, create web forms, review its analytics and tag subscribers. She says, “I love their detailed analytics and also the fact that you can tag subscribers who, for instance, click on a specific link you might send out in a campaign so you can properly segregate your list and sell to the right people.”

Gertrude also mentioned one con was that even though she has a paid plan, the ActiveCampaign logo still appears on her web forms. You need to upgrade to a higher plan to get the logo removed.

Pricing:

ActiveCampaign offers four monthly plans starting at $9/month for 500 contacts. The pricing is based on a sliding scale with price changes as the number of contacts increase. To get the logo removed, you need the Plus plan.

Brand24 

Brand24 is a social monitoring tool that tracks social web mentions of your brand in real-time. It also offers features such as influencer score to help you identify influencers in your industry, sentiment analysis to segment mentions (positive, negative, neutral), reply in real time functionality, track competitor mentions and more.

User Feedback: Out of 102 reviews, Brand24 received 4.7 out of 5 stars. Users loved the power of the brand mentions. A few said they had a difficult time setting up their campaigns, but the majority of the reviews were positive.

Pricing:

Monthly packages start at $49 / month with a 14-day free trial.

Prospecting Searches 

If you use sites like LinkedIn and Google to dig and find prospects, the following tools will be valuable to you. The tools are more suited for B2B since these are the companies that would primarily use LinkedIn.

Found.ly

Found.ly is an all-in-one sales prospecting tool which is great for small startups all the way through to large corporate companies. With Found.ly you can efficiently manage your sales prospecting process without the need for a sales stack. Perform your email prospecting directly from their chrome extension or simply import your data. Manage your prospects within ‘Lists’ (folders) within your Found.ly dashboard, and stay organized with activity. Set up your email cadences and simply integrate with your Gmail account to reach out to these contacts. You can also manage all of your analytical reporting within your Found.ly dashboard while simply managing your responses directly from within your Gmail inbox.

Here is a short video on how Found.ly works on LinkedIn:

Pricing:

Pricing starts at $49 per month.


LinkedIn Sales Navigator 

Organize and build lead lists of potential leads you find on Linkedin with its advanced search filters. Contact them automatically without needing to be a connection. Get real-time insights on prospects you are watching and see who has viewed your profile in the last 90 days. Salesforce integration is also available.

User feedback: Reviewers on G2Crowd gave LinkedIn Sales Navigator 4.0 out of 5 stars on average. Most liked the tool to organize and find leads. One commonly noted con is that the tool doesn’t offer the phone numbers nor emails of the lead. You need to use another prospecting tool to acquire that information. There is also a limit to how many INmails you can send monthly.

Pricing:

LinkedIn Sales offers a one month free trial. Packages start at $64.99 monthly thereafter with discounts for yearly pricing.

LeadFuze

LeadFuze is a B2B tool that helps you find and qualify targeted leads. It also gives you double-verified email addresses and phone numbers for each lead and automates outreach. Analytics and split testing features are also included along with integration with the most popular CRMs such as Hubspot, Salesforce and Pipedrive.

User feedback: Capterra reviewers give LeadFuze 4.5 out of 5 stars out of 14 reviews. Most were positive with only a couple mentioning a con because they found the tool a little difficult to set up. Overall, reviews were very positive.

Pricing:

Pricing starts at $299 / month with a free trial. You also get 25 leads for free.

Marketing Automation platforms (All-in-one)

Marketing automation platforms help businesses capture, nurture, score and manage leads all the way through the sale process. These tools also cater to both B2B and B2C companies.

Start Your Free Trial

Hubspot

Hubspot is one of the most popular marketing automation platforms industry-wide. It has three separate tools, Hubspot CRM, Hubspot Sales, and Hubspot Marketing. Hubspot refers to the unity of all three tools, the “Hubspot Growth Stack.”

Hubspot Marketing is the lead generation component of the Hubspot Growth Stack. It helps you attract targeted traffic with professional landing pages, blog and email templates. It also offers SEO, blogging and social media tools as well as email and marketing automation.

Hubspot Sales is a lead management and messaging platform that enables you to follow your leads’ activity, whether they opened your email or downloaded your attachment and more, while informing you of which emails performed the best. It also integrates with Hubspot CRM and Salesforce.

HubSpot CRM helps you organize, track, and nurture your leads and customers. You can manage your entire pipeline, sort deals, schedule appointments, track performance and more.

User feedback: The average rating for Hubspot on softwareadvice.com is 4.5 out of 5 stars with high remarks across the board. Some cons mentioned were the lock-in contracts and the learning curve with getting acclimated with the software.

Pricing:

Hubspot Marketing – Packages start at $200 / month with a $600 required onboarding fee.

Hubspot Sales – Free plan available with limited access (5 email templates and 15 minutes of calling). Upgraded version is $50 / user / month.

Hubspot CRM – Free with unlimited users. However, if you use  HubSpot CRM with HubSpot’s marketing tools, the contacts you add to the CRM end up in both places, and could affect your Contact tier pricing.

Marketo

Marketo is another marketing automation tool similar to Hubspot, however, Marketo positions itself as more of a lead management tool. Marketo does not include an internal CRM, but it integrates with many of the top CRM platforms. Marketo focuses more on the mid-to-enterprise level business. Features include lead generation and management, email marketing, consumer marketing, customer base marketing and mobile marketing. Check out this article to see the major differences between Hubspot and Marketo.

User feedback: Marketo received a 4.0 out of 5 stars on softwareadvice.com. Reviewers mentioned its flexibility, power and numerous integrations. Cons mentioned were a steep learning curve and issues with customer support.

Pricing:

Pricing is not listed on the website. Each features has its own set of packages. Review sites have listed prices anywhere from $800 – $3,200 a month.

VipeCloud

VipeCloud is not an all-in-one similar as large as Hubspot, but it continues to build out its platform and add new features. It’s main features include email marketing and social media automation, but it has also built out a robust CRM. This tool could be a low-priced option for startups who are more mindful of costs but want the automation an all-in-one tool provides.

User Feedback: The tool received 10 reviews on G2 Crowd at 4.7 out of 5.0 stars. According to Jim of Boulder-based recruiting firm, HireEducation, his organization uses VipeCloud primarily as a means of mass emailing, allowing them to communicate with customers more often and more efficiently and also get themselves in front of a greater number of prospects.

Jim said, “Hands down, our favorite thing about VipeCloud is its ease of use and how effective it has been in getting our name in front of a greater number of prospects. They’ve recently implemented an All-in-One CRM that has helped us simplify our sales stack. We’ve also found VipeCloud very cost-efficient.”

When asked about the difference between VipeCloud and tools like Hubspot and Marketo, Jim said, “It [VipeCloud] is definitely best for email marketing and social media posting. We’ve been using it for about two and half years and when we started using it, that was our main goal. They’ve significantly built out the CRM portion of it since then and my understanding is that they will continue to expand on the CRM portion. It does have the capability to track prospects by their pipeline stages and perceived value, which we do use for business development. However, I wouldn’t say it has the advanced lead scoring capabilities of something like Marketo.”

Pricing:

Pricing starts at $30/user/month billed annually or $100/user/quarter. VIpeCloud also offers a 15-day free trial.

Lead Generation Forms and Platforms 

These tools provide lead generation forms and landing page templates, allowing businesses to work with professional, high-converting forms without the need for a designer and developer. These tools are also valuable for both B2C and B2B companies, essentially any business that uses forms and landing pages in their marketing.

LeadPages

LeadPages is a popular landing page and form builder that offers high-converting templates ready to customize. Templates include opt-in, sales pages, webinar registration, upsell pages, product launches and more. The tool also offers split testing and multiple CRM integrations.


One of LeadPages’ landing page templates

LeadPages also offers LeadBoxes, a two-step opt-in forms feature allowing you to capture leads directly with lead capture popups.

User feedback: On G2 Crowd, LeadPages received 4.3 out of 5 stars with 53 reviewers. Overall, the feedback was positive, although a few reviewers mentioned some templates can be tricky to customize and the templates are not as customizable as they would like. New features can get glitchy with rollouts.

Pricing:

Pricing starts at $37 / month with discounts for annual and 2-year billing. A 14-day free trial is also offered.

Unbounce 

Unbounce is another lead generation tool that offers numerous landing page templates to help businesses capture new leads as well as overlay forms (smaller popup-like forms that hover over your website pages). Similar to LeadPages, Unbounce offers an easy-to-use page builder with split testing capabilities. There are some differences between Unbounce and LeadPages, however. You can read about them here.


 Example of an overlay form template in Unbounce.

User feedback: On G2 Crowd, Unbounce received 4.3 out of 5 stars from 68 reviewers. They liked its ease of use and robust selection of templates. One con mentioned was issues with mobile view and implementing mobile responsive pages.

Chris Madden of Chicago digital marketing agency, Matchnode, says, “Our company loves using Unbounce for our clients. We use this tool with the majority of our clients. It’s a great way to give prospective customers more information while also asking for the full lead. The best thing about this platform is that is does not require you to have knowledge on HTML in order to use it. Unbounce is very user friendly because they provide you with various templates for you to build your site off of. This platform does cost a monthly fee, but there has been no unexpected additional costs.”

Pricing:

Monthly plans start at $99 / month with a 20% off discount for annual subscriptions.

Picreel

Picreel offers lead capture templates, but in the form of exit intent overlays. This software allows you to show an overlay once a visitor hovers over the close button on your web page, enabling you to capture more leads. There are numerous overlay templates to choose from with customizable options available as well as split testing capabilities.


 An example of a full page overlay. This will cover the entire web page once users hover to exit.

User feedback: Eighty-two reviewers on Capterra gave Picreel 5 out of 5 stars. Many praised the tool for helping them increase their lead generation rate and also keep people on their sites longer. I use Picreel with one of my clients and I personally have witnessed how powerful this tool can be. Last month alone, my client was able to secure an extra 1,839 leads on to his email list using Picreel.

Pricing:

Monthly packages start at $19 / month with a 25% discount if purchased annually. A 30-day free trial is also offered on all packages.

Automate & Enjoy

A little automation can equate to big changes for your growing business. If the fit is right for your business, why not take advantage of some of these tools and start cutting down your manpower and supercharging your lead generation efforts?

If you’d like more help with your content and driving quality leads to your front door, we invite you to start a free trial today!

GoPro Captures Eagle Swooping in for the Kill

by Laura College on 07/10/2017

It’s not footage of puppies romping, cats pushing dogs out of their beds, or baby seals capering in the water at a city zoo, but it’s nonetheless captivating. One of GoPro’s most recent videos shows the bloody side of Mother Nature. An eagle with a GoPro camera attached to its back sees a fox from the air and swoops across the desert to…well, to do what eagles do.

We’ve commented on GoPro’s marketing prowess before, but we’re endlessly amazed by the company’s originality and prolific content production. GoPro has mastered the art of capitalizing on user-generated content. So how can we learn from them?

Celebrating Customers

To keep with the theme, check out this GoPro video of an eagle stealing a GoPro camera, then recording some fantastic footage. It’s another strong example of user-generated content that celebrates the customer.

The company regularly publishes “GoPro Awards,” which honor specific creators who make great content using GoPro products. Any business can steal this particular idea in its own content.

Let’s say, for example, that you run a web design agency. You could create a customer spotlight section on your website that describes your customers’ websites and businesses and links out to them. It’s a way to celebrate the people who allow you to keep your doors open. Plus, it adds use cases to your portfolio and helps you gain social shares as the customers promote the recognition.

Reach Segregated Audiences

Believe it or not, eagles aren’t GoPro’s bread and butter. The company routinely features different sports, activities, and parts of the world in its videos to generate interests and to appeal to target consumers.

The company clearly knows which consumers are most interested in GoPro products, and it capitalizes on their interest in recording their experiences. Check out the BMX GoPro video above to see what we mean.

If you haven’t researched market segments and identified your buyer personas, how do you know that your content will reach the right viewers? Dividing your audience into segments lets you target your customers not only with content marketing, but also with advertising.

Put a GoPro on an Eagle


Find your own marketing unicorn.

We’re not suggesting you market your business by putting a GoPro on an eagle. However, you can find your own marketing unicorn to create viral content that gains likes, shares, and traffic.

Think about your business, products, or services in a different way. How can you juxtapose a product with something completely unrelated to spark interest among your target audience? How can you surprise and delight your prospects through innovative marketing techniques.

Remember when Chipotle combined Mexican food with a riveting love story? That’s what a marketing unicorn looks like. You’ll find countless examples in online media, but you have to think outside the box if you want to discover that elusive fairy-tale creature.

We can help. Get a free trial to discover how Media Shower can turn your content marketing campaign around with strategies that have been proven to work over and over again. We can’t wait to work with you to find your own unicorn.

Your 6-Month Holiday B2C Content Marketing Guide

by Susan Guillory on 07/07/2017

Ah, the winter holidays. They may be your best time of year in terms of sales. But while Q4 may seem far away, you really need to be planning, like, yesterday.

To help you, here’s a schedule of what you should be doing to prep your content marketing each month to ensure that this Christmas your sales go through the roof, and to keep from procrastinating on it last minute!

July

Consider this your Christmas (planning) in July: this is the month you’ll put together the types of promotions you want to offer at the end of the year. Yes, it’s early, but doing so now will help you plan for your inventory needs so you don’t get slammed with a giant outlay for extra product. It’ll also help pave the way for the content marketing planning that comes next.

August

Review your marketing results from last year. What efforts got the best results, and which were paltry? You’ll want to take inspiration from the channels and tactics that were successful, while freeing up the budget you put into the less wonderful results and using it to explore other ways to reach your audience.

September

Now you’ll want to explore advertising as a means to reach your audience. Even if you don’t invest in digital ads any other time of year, if you sell online, Q4 is the best time to branch out and advertise on channels to reach your customers. There are some pretty cool content-based ad options now, like Facebook’s Branded Content, that look like just another social media post but actually help you reach a ton of people, so explore these.

October

You have your promotions for the holidays mapped out, so now it’s time to connect your content marketing strategy to those promotions. For example, if you sell beauty products online and are trying to push your gift sets for the holidays, you could write a blog post entitled “10 Gifts The Lady in Your Life Will Love This Season,” and link to one of the gift sets in the post. Remember that your content should also include your social media updates, so you’ll want to plan several on each social channel for each promotion. It can be helpful to create a calendar so you can plan exactly when each piece of content will go live, and on which channel.

November

The season begins later this month, so get to work on creating the content you’ll need to see you through the rest of the year! You can write the blog posts, ebooks, and social media updates yourself or outsource them. Either way, having everything written in advance will save you from stressing out about it once Black Friday hits.

December

Aren’t you glad you prepared? Now all you have to do is schedule your blog posts and social shares to go live and rake in the money that comes as a result of your hard efforts.

A little work and planning each month will not only make it easier to market for the holidays come November and December, but it’ll even help boost results.

Let MediaShower help you with your holiday content marketing. Get a free trial today!

 

 

Expert Interview Series: Lisa Lepki of ProWritingAid on Editing Tools for Writers

by Chris Martin on 07/05/2017

Lisa Lepki is the Head of Communications for ProWritingAid, an essential editing tool for writers.  She is also the co-author of The Novel-Writing Training Plan and 20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers.

We recently asked Lisa for her insight on tools that can help writers of all backgrounds do better work and get her take on why self-editing is such a critical part of finding success as a writer. Here’s what she shared:

Tell us about the mission behind ProWritingAid? How are you hoping to help writers of all backgrounds?

We want to help writers everywhere improve their craft and get their ideas out there. It doesn’t matter if you are writing “The Great American Novel” or a blog post about baking cupcakes, good writing means your ideas go further. And clear, concise writing helps people understand exactly what you want them to know.

Why do writers need more sophisticated editing tools than those available in their standard writing software?

Your standard grammar and spelling checker is still great if all you are worried about is spelling and grammar. Skillful writing, however, is about much more than grammar. I’m sure you have all read something that was grammatically correct and yet still difficult to read and hard to follow.

Let me give you an example. One of my favorite reports is the Sticky Sentence Report. A sticky sentence is one that contains more than 45 percent glue words (the 200 or so most common words in English: the, in, on, was, etc). On average, sentences in published writing contain fewer than 45 percent glue words, so if you have a sentence that contains 65 percent glue words, you should probably check it to see if it can be rewritten in a better way.

ORIGINAL: I was able to use the information that I have in my files and spoke to a number of people about the problem and managed to resolve it. Glue index: 57% – Sentence length 28 words

REDRAFT:  I resolved the problem using my contacts and the available information. Glue index: 36% – Sentence      length 11 words

The first sentence isn’t wrong, it’s just clunky and contains nonessential information.

Beyond, spelling and grammar, what types of editing should writers be doing to make sure their work is at its best? 

There are thousands of writing issues that have nothing to do with grammar. For example, there are lots of words and sentence constructions that are fine to use occasionally, but become problematic when they are overused.

Words like “could”, “might” and “maybe” are indefinite in their meaning. “I could bring a salad to dinner” feels hesitant and unsure, whereas “I will bring a salad to dinner” feels resolute. If your writing is peppered with these non-specific words, it will feel unconvincing.

Intensifiers like “very”, “so” and “really” add little to your reader’s understanding. Writers use them when they are trying to give strength to a dull word. Instead, you should replace weak words with something strong enough that you don’t need the “very”. Instead of saying she was “very pretty”, say she was “stunning”. Instead of saying it’s “really hot”, say it is “stifling”. The tool will highlight areas where you use any intensifiers more than occasionally.

Some of the most common words in English are nearly meaningless. If someone reads a book and says it was “interesting,” that tells you almost nothing. Was it well-written? Was the argument convincing? It’s not even clear if they enjoyed reading it. Interesting could mean a million different things. Where possible, writers should choose words that have precise meanings.

Certain sentence constructions should also not be overused. For example, too many sentences that begin with an “-ing” word will make your writing feel overly complicated. This sentence construction tends to put your main idea at the end instead of at the beginning. “Training for the marathon, I sprained my ankle” is not wrong, but “I sprained my ankle training for the marathon” is simpler to read.

These are all issues that would be found by the Overused Words Check.  In these examples, the words or constructions are only problematic if they are overused. The editing software can scan an entire article or chapter and tell you exactly how many times you have used indefinite language, for example. If it’s a lot, you probably need to go back and add more specificity to your language.

ProWritingAid runs over 25 writing reports. Each writer has a different style and voice, and so some reports will appeal more than others. Here’s what a sample summary looks like after running several reports together.

Will editing technology eventually replace human editors entirely? 

Of course not. In fact, many professional editors recommend that their writers use editing tools because it means that content is delivered to them in a much better state. Editors always prefer to focus on the meat of your content rather than on word choice and syntax.

What happens when writers don’t take the time to thoroughly review their work? What are the risks to their careers and/or the organizations they write for?

As the Editor of the ProWritingAid Blog, I spend a good part of each day reading submissions. If a piece of writing comes to me and it is full of errors or is not clear and succinct, I will decline it. I don’t have the time or inclination to spend hours editing articles that have not been appropriately self-edited before they reach my desk. I am much more likely to accept a submission that just needs a bit of tightening up.

Similarly, if I visit a website or blog that is not well-written, I immediately assume that they are not professional. It makes me question the integrity of the whole company.

What are your favorite tools for improving the entire writing process (aside from ProWritingAid, of course)

We love writing technology! In fact, we have a whole section on our blog where we review different kinds of Writing Apps.

For my editorial calendar, I use Google Spreadsheets. It allows me to collaborate with my writers so that everyone knows what’s coming up, when it’s due, and any specific content requirements.

To keep myself organized, I use Trello. I have multiple boards that I share with different members of the ProWritingAid team. It keeps things from falling through the cracks!

Professionally, I do most of my writing in MS Word and edit using the ProWritingAid MS Word add-in there. But, I have recently begun using Scrivener for my personal writing projects. It’s amazing at helping me turn my vague creative ideas into functional plans.

I also often use Canva to create the images that go along with our content. It’s free and easy to use.

What advice can you offer writers in the digital marketing space on writing content that is engaging and unique? What are the dos and don’ts of better online content?

I can’t speak for other Editors, but I love content that has an original angle and some clear takeaways. I know it’s a bit old-school, but I still love this format for articles:

  • Introduction: Here is what I’m going to tell you in this article.
  • Body: Here is the information and some clear arguments and evidence for why it is true.
  • Conclusion: Here are three concise sentences that encapsulate what I just told you.

I love examples and metaphors that help readers understand complex ideas based on how it relates to something familiar in their life.

Practical how-to articles that leave readers with some tips or techniques they can use in their own lives are also great.

I want to know that the writer is focused on the reader and what they will get out of the article.

What are some overused writing styles or conventions that make you cringe in the digital space? Why should writers avoid them at all costs?

In contrast to my examples in the last question, I think too many content writers forget about the reader and only think about what they want to write about. “Let me tell you all about my product” instead of “Let me tell you how my product can benefit you.”

I also get frustrated with wishy-washy inspirational pieces. There has never been a reader who suffered from self-doubt that read “You must believe in yourself” and suddenly began believing in themselves. It just won’t happen. And yet, I am constantly reading submissions like that.

If you are targeting writers suffering from self-doubt, I want you to give them five practical things to do that will help build their confidence: find a beta reader, write every day for a minimum of 10 minutes, spend some time outlining, etc. Make it practical, specific and do-able.

What’s one final piece of advice you can offer writers of any type on achieving their writing goals?

I think Ira Glass gave the best advice in an interview:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”  ― Ira Glass

Take the Media Shower Platform for a test drive. Get a free trial.

 

 

4 Examples of 4th of July Marketing Done Right

by Laura College on 07/03/2017

From red, white, and blue-themed product promotions to YouTube videos that celebrate American values, companies from all industries have let loose their patriotic spirits this 4th of July season. Perhaps we can all learn from their content marketing efforts.

1. “Like a Roomba For Your Barbecue”

Some of the best 4th of July marketing is subtle. It captures a moment that reminds us of Independence Day, such as lighting sparklers with the kids, or it hits on a pain point, like the arduous task of cleaning a grill after slaving over 400 hamburgers at the neighborhood block party.

The above video from TechInsider offers a subtle advertisement for the Grillbot, which the video claims is “like a Roomba for your barbecue.” The animated gadget is fun to watch, and TechInsider used 4th of July hashtags to promote the video on social media.

If your product or service can solve a problem related to Independence Day festivities, consider creating some content that highlights those benefits. You never know what will catch on.

2. “4th of July By the Numbers”


via WalletHub

This year, WalletHub decided to celebrate the 4th of July the good old fashioned way: With solid content marketing. the website created a gorgeous infographic that dumps heaps of information in the viewer’s lap, from the number of Americans who own an American flag (65 percent of them) to the number of hot dogs consumed each Independence Day weekend (an impressive 150 million).

You don’t have to create a detailed infographic or an elaborate video to take advantage of 4th of July marketing. At this time of year, people are searching for information about our Founding Fathers and other data related to our nation’s independence.

They’re curious about local fireworks displays and other events, so consider delivering this information so that it’s discoverable. Don’t forget to add a CTA at the end of the content to tie it to whatever product or service you’re promoting.

3. “Red, White & July”

Aki-Home.com, a lifestyle retail website, created a unique 4th of July commercial called “Red, White & July,” and used a custom hashtag (#MyAkiStyle) to promote its rewards program. The voiceover urges customers to hurry to the store before summer fades into fall and ends in an explosion of fireworks.

Most importantly, the commercial advertises considerable savings for #MyAkiStyle reward members. This creates a feeling of inclusion for consumers while using Independence Day to fuel sales and to advertise huge discounts.

4. “Spinning in Confusion”

You can always count on Sears to add a dose of humor to its holiday promotions. In this 4th of July commercial, Sears uses a creepy but comical voiceover to speak to Theresa, whose washing machine has just spun its last cycle.

If you can make your readers or viewers laugh, you’ll know you’ve hit a content marketing home run. People love to laugh, especially during holiday celebrations, and the giddiness that summer often brings makes quirky content particularly on-theme.

Did you create special content for this 4th of July? Will you use some of these strategies next year? If you want to create content for all seasons, we’re here to help. Our writers are experts at building on themes and bringing content to life through the lens of holiday cheer, no matter the season. Get a free trial to see the magic happen right before your eyes.

Oh, and if you’re setting off fireworks this year, don’t forget your safety gear. Happy 4th of July from Media Shower!