Facebook’s on a quest to absorb the Internet, and now it looks like it could invade crowdfunding. Today the company released a new Fundraiser product that allows non-profits to set up a campaign page, show off a video explaining their goal, collect cash, and let people share News Feed posts with buttons so their friends can instantly contribute without clicking to a new page. As is… Read More
Big cities like San Francisco and New York are digital meccas, home to many of the world’s largest technology startups — and to hordes of smartphone-toting, app-using consumers. But when it comes to making a name for themselves, many of the companies hoping to influence these techie urbanites are going decidedly analog. In these cities, and others, it’s hard to miss the… Read More
TECH AND GADGETS
California has officially passed a law requiring police to get a warrant before collecting citizens' emails, IP addresses, or other electronic information. The California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, signed by Governor Jerry Brown yesterday, has been lauded by organizations like the EFF and ACLU, with the latter calling it "a landmark win for digital privacy and all Californians." It raises the bar for just about any kind of digital surveillance, whether that involves police requesting user information from a company or collecting it themselves. Under CalECPA, law enforcement will need to justify the data collection and describe its scope, getting either a search warrant or a court wiretap order. The broad rule covers requiring a service provider to give up information, as well as gathering any data "by means of physical interaction or electronic communication with the electronic device." As in most similar laws, exceptions are carved out for emergency cases. As Ars Technica points out, this definition should apply to Stingrays, surveillance devices that capture information from phones by impersonating a cell tower. Both federal law enforcement and local police have used Stingrays for years, often with little transparency or oversight. The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, for instance, has used them 500 times over 10 years without a warrant. Under pressure, the department later promised to get judicial review — but not specifically a warrant — before gathering data with them. Other states, including Washington, have passed new laws governing the use of Stingrays. And on a federal level, the Department of Justice vowed last month to obtain a warrant whenever deploying the technology.
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MAKE IT MODERN
It’s safe to say that not one company is sitting around scratching their head saying “I have all of this marketing budget to spare, what can I spend it on?”. Budgets are tight, and marketing budgets are often the first to feel the pain of cuts. Traditional marketing tactics often come at a high price, and it can be difficult to track return. Alternatively, the vast array of digital marketing tactics evolve frequently and can quickly become overwhelming. Each year, companies are investing more and more in digital marketing. In fact, Econsultancy found that 77% of marketers were planning on increasing digital marketing budgets in 2015. But the question on many marketers’ minds is: Where exactly should these digital marketing funds be invested? Below are 4 areas you should consider investing your digital marketing spend in 2015. #1 – A Technically Sound & Optimized Website A website is your calling card to the outside world. If it doesn’t work or isn’t optimized for mobile customers, they’ll quickly move on and will find one that does what they need. Does your website pass the following tests? Page Load Speed: Google’s PageSpeed tool will provide you with a page load speed score and provide recommendations for fixing any issues. Responsive Design: The number of mobile users searching the web will only continue to grow. Use a tool like Am I Responsive? to see how your website displays across multiple devices. Encourages Lead Conversions: Are your customers finding what they expected when they reach your website? Are you making it as easy as possible for people to reach you via contact forms or phone numbers? If the answer to either of those questions is no, your website is not optimized to encourage lead conversions. Optimized for Organic Search: If you’re not an SEO expert, it can sometimes be hard to understand what exactly it takes to make your website optimized. All of your website content including title tags, meta descriptions, urls and more should all be optimized for the key terms and phrases that you want to appear for in search engine results. #2 – Understanding Your Customers Your customers should affect every aspect of your digital marketing strategy. The way that they interact with and consumer information should inform your SEO, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media strategies and beyond. In order to better understand customers and make a more impactful digital marketing strategy, you must complete: Customer Research: This can take on many forms. Your current customers are the best place to start. Depending on your business model you can schedule a conversation with some of your best clients, or send out surveys to customers that have purchased once or many times. Persona Development: Once you’ve collected customer data, you need to begin understanding how to mold a digital marketing strategy around that information. The data collected will help inform what topics and types of content makes the most sense for customers based on their needs and stage in the buying cycle. #3 – Consistent, Creative & Compelling Content Creation The 2015 B2B Content Marketing report shows that marketers recognize that blogging is not content marketing. While it’s a very important component, it’s not the only tactic you should be focusing on: However, before you begin deciding which tactics to invest in, you must first get a handle on: Audits: If you’ve already identified your digital marketing opportunities, congratulations! However, for most marketers, the hardest part is knowing where to start. Either internally or with an agency like TopRank Marketing, we recommend that you audit the performance of your current content marketing activities and uncover your biggest opportunities for impact. Content Marketing Strategy: A comprehensive content marketing strategy will include the targets, tactics and promotion for every content marketing asset throughout the year. As mentioned above, blogging is merely an element of a content marketing strategy, not a strategy all in of itself. Resources: Today’s customers require compelling content and visuals that inspire them to take the next step. A content marketing strategy is only as good as the team that you have working for you. It doesn’t matter if it is internal team members or external resources, this is an incredibly important of digital marketing to invest in. #4 – Paid Digital Marketing Amplification What good is digital marketing if nobody sees or shares it? While it is always important to maintain a strong organic search and social presence, you should also consider making an investment in paid tactics. Paid Social: Organic reach on social media platforms just isn’t what it used to be. Paid social on websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can help you target your digital marketing to the right people, for the action you want them to take. Paid Search: Incorporating a paid search strategy can be the added boost that your digital marketing needs. There is an art to writing paid search campaigns and they can become expensive so make sure that you’re working with someone that can help guide you on your approach. Knowing When to Partner with an Agency It doesn’t matter if you’re a large enterprise company or a small startup, sometimes you need to ask for help. Below are three signs that you may need the help of a digital marketing agency: You’re Looking for Expertise: Agency teams are typically comprised of teams that specialize in specific areas of digital marketing. Instead of hiring a team of experts, strategists, practitioners and project managers, you may want to consider partnering with an agency. You Have Other Priorities: You may recognize that you have a digital marketing need, but your internal team is already strapped and focused on larger business objectives. If you want a team that can integrate with your existing staff, and help you work toward common business objectives an agency may be right for you. Hiring Your Own Staff is Too Expensive: The cost of hiring new employees and paying their salaries, benefits and any other miscellaneous costs can quickly add up. One of the many benefits of working with an agency is that you have access to a whole team of digital marketers, at a reasonable price. If you’ve felt the pressure to increase your digital marketing budget, you’re not alone. A marketing program can be a big investment, but it should be data driven and focused on results. If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency whose core values and business objectives align with your own, consider trying on TopRank Marketing for size. Image via Shutterstock. Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to theTopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter. © Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | 4 Digital Marketing Investments All Companies Should Be Making Now | http://www.toprankblog.com The post 4 Digital Marketing Investments All Companies Should Be Making Now appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.
Time and time again, B2B marketers have heard, “Facebook doesn’t work for B2B”. That statement could not be further from the truth. What B2B marketers should ask themselves is; am I truly engaging my Facebook audience by sharing things they want to see and interact with? Facebook can be an incredibly powerful tool, if used correctly. In fact SteamFeed found that 60% of all social media traffic to B2B websites comes from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. So, there is proof that Facebook for B2B marketers works, but now it’s time to figure out how to create better engagement and make more meaningful connections. Last week at MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, Andrea Vahl took the stage and shared some fantastic insights into how B2B brands can improve visibility, track leads and improve Facebook Ad targeting. Below are some of her best insights. Is Organic Reach Dead? While organic reach is not completely gone, it is on the decline. Additionally, your reach and interactions are out there for the entire world to see. So, when something is performing badly, everyone knows. Before you eliminate Facebook from your strategy, know that B2B marketers can still get organic reach. Andrea ran some experiments by posting a similar message on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. What she found was that the messages on Facebook had a much longer shelf life than those on Twitter and LinkedIn. What Does Work For Brands? There is no denying that cats, dogs and babies rule Facebook. People love to be entertained by dogs falling down stairs and feel a connection with a heart-warming image. As a B2B brand, you can post a video of a dog falling down the stairs, as long as your message allows you to relate the content to your audience in some way. Along with humor and entertainment, eye-catching images work really well for brands. Below is an example that Andrea shared of a B2B company grabbing the attention of their audience with bold images and succinct messages. Image via Andrea Vahl Native Facebook videos can also be very powerful. If you have a video, you need to be uploading it directly to Facebook to get more views, reach and engagement. YouTube typically doesn’t get the reach and exposure of native Facebook videos. Also, the ideal length for a video is 30 seconds, keep it under two minutes. You’ll see a drop off in the length that people complete for. General Electric is an example of a company that uploads some unique videos that are entertaining and bring people in. Image via Andrea Vahl Remember that you can also include a call-to-action at the end of your video to drive your audience directly to your website. Tools for Facebook Marketing There were a few different tools that Andrea recommended for creating visuals and producing quality videos to share with your Facebook audience. These include: Visual Tools PicMonkey Canva Snagit Video Resources Camtasia Jing 3 Recommendations for Facebook Advertising #1 – Transfer Fans to Your Email List Don’t build your company on the rented castle that is Facebook. Move them to your email list so that you can continue to nurture the relationship on a more 1:1 basis off of Facebook. #2 – Plan on Ad Spend Facebook has very much become a pay-to-play model that does require some sort of investment. Within Facebook, you can use highly targeted ads to convert your target audience. Where you should spend your focus (and funds) is on email conversions, website clicks and website conversions that only target your warm leads (those that have already liked your page). #3 – Measure What Matters Beyond reach and engagement, you’re going to want to measure the actual number of conversions from Facebook. In order to do that, you’re going to need to put a Facebook conversion pixel on your website. That way, you can see which ad sent that conversion to your website. In order to utilize the conversion pixel, you must have: A website where you can install the conversion pixel A thank you page that indicates the desired action is completed Facebook is still flush with opportunities for B2B marketers, but it may require that current strategies be adapted to meet the needs of the audience. What tactics on Facebook have worked best for your organization, or what are some great examples that you’ve seen out in the wild? Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to theTopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter. © Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | How B2B Marketers Can Use Facebook to Drive Engagement & Generate Leads | http://www.toprankblog.com The post How B2B Marketers Can Use Facebook to Drive Engagement & Generate Leads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.
Very rarely does the good ol' WIRED Entertainment podcast jump so quickly between Steve Jobs, feminism, and the work of George Lucas—but this one does! The post Entertainment Podcast: Steve Jobs! Star Wars! Feminism! appeared first on WIRED.
The 9th Annual Crunchies are right around the corner, and if we’re going to give out any awards to the great startups out there, we need your help. We need to know who to give the coveted Crunchies out to this year, so be sure to nominate your favorite startups to help us narrow down the field to the best and brightest startups around. Read More
Netflix has released its quarterly earnings today (PDF), and so far, the folks on Wall Street aren't responding positively. Of course, customers have already heard the big news -- Epix movies and Sesame Street are gone, its first movie Beasts of No Nation premieres tomorrow night and the price for most of us will go up $1 next year. So what's driving a stock drop (down about eight percent after the results came out)? It didn't add as many new subscribers in the US as it had predicted (1.15 million predicted vs. 880,000 actual), and with plans to spend some $5 or $6 billion on content in 2016, it will need to grow to pay for all of that. According to CEO Reed Hastings the recent price hike is meant to "improve its ability to acquire and offer high quality content," but Disney doesn't come cheap. Developing... Source: Netflix Q3 2015 earnings (PDF)
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The incisor growth rate of an average beaver is 32 feet per year. The hatchet fish is the only creature with eyes on its wrists. And now for something completely different… John Cleese–actor, comedian, and 1/5th of Monty Python–started his presentation with the preceding two useful facts. Having armed the audience with knowledge, he proceeded to disarm us with his wit and wisdom. “If you listen to what I’m going to say,” he began in earnest, “I guarantee by the end of this you will be more creative than you are now.” It was a bold statement, but entirely believable (far more so than the hatchet fish claim) from the man who gave the world the Ministry for Silly Walks and the Dead Parrot Sketch. Mr. Cleese credits Guy Claxton’s book Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind for the basis of his theory of creativity. The idea is that we have a quick-thinking, logical part of our brains which is good for solving logistical or mathematical problems. But we also have a slow-thinking, contemplative mind that can work out complex problems, and produce creative work. Create a Safe Space for Contemplation It’s important to give your contemplative “tortoise mind” the space and time it needs to work. He calls his creative space his “tortoise enclosure,” where he can free himself from interruptions and distractions to let his creative unconscious roam free. Whether it’s a broom closet or a park bench, find a space separate from where you normally work. Generate Ideas in Creative Mode Once you’re in your tortoise enclosure, let your mind roam free. The first thoughts you will have, of course, will be all the mental housekeeping you have been putting off. Just make a reminder of these random to-dos so you can address them later. As Mr. Cleese put it, “if I have a thought pop into my head, like ‘call Bob,’ I’ll write it on a note for later, and then it’s out of my head.” Once the dust settles, you can generate ideas. The trick is to create without evaluating–that part comes later. While you’re in your tortoise enclosure, let your thoughts go wherever they want to take you, without thinking of what is practical or sensible. Evaluate in Logic Mode When you’re ready to leave the tortoise enclosure and go back to the work at hand, that’s the time to use your logical, quick-thinking “hare brain” to evaluate your ideas. See what looks promising, what needs to be refined, and what you can chuck out the window. Mr. Cleese goes through several sessions of generating ideas and refining them, alternating between contemplation and evaluation until only the best ideas are left standing. Forge New Mental Pathways The tortoise enclosure makes you more creative by helping you think outside of your established mental grooves. Neuropsychologist Donald Hebb said, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” In other words, the more you follow the same mental path, the harder it is to strike off into the underbrush. Using your tortoise mind allows your brain to roam free without the hare brain snapping it back to your established thought processes. So the next time you feel stuck with a complex problem that demands a creative solution, Mr. Cleese recommends taking a trip to your tortoise enclosure. When it comes to creativity, slow and steady really does win the race. Header image via thejohncleese.com Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to theTopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter. © Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | John Cleese: Creativity, Imagination & Tortoise Enclosures #CMWorld | http://www.toprankblog.com The post John Cleese: Creativity, Imagination & Tortoise Enclosures #CMWorld appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.