Modern businesses spend a lot of time and energy marketing themselves on the internet. Automation can make them more productive.
The advent of social media and digital advertising has made marketing more dynamic because it gives marketers more control over their strategy and provides them with a chance to make changes in real-time.
In the past, marketers couldn’t be proactive because they had little to no control over how their strategy played out between publication cycles and production sprints.
Today, there’s a whole lot of data available to marketers, about their customers and their campaigns, all of which can help create, test, and refine the marketing strategy, on the go, to get the most out of every dollar spent.
However, this level of control also makes the job of a marketer that much tougher. It’s why companies need to think about automating certain repetitive and tactical marketing activities in order to free up time for the team to focus on things that are more strategic.
Marketing automation doesn’t necessarily need to be complex either. Organizations can start with something as basic as email and landing page automation for lead generation, and work their way up to advanced products and strategies that leverage technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
Honestly, most mature businesses have already invested in some form of marketing automation. For them, the question really is this: How can we better automate our marketing campaigns and strategies?
Obviously, the answer depends on the organization and its automation journey so far.
For some companies, the answer lies in improving the customer experience through AI-powered chatbots and messaging apps. For others, it likes in making better use of data.
Hubspot VP of Marketing Jon Dick recently said that he expects messaging and chat (on-and off-site) to have a huge impact on marketing automation this year.
“This growing channel will give marketers the opportunity to better connect with their audiences in a more helpful, human, on-demand way. It’s how people like to communicate today,” said Dick.
The key with messaging, Dick explained, will be understanding how users expect to engage with businesses, and delivering a blend of automation and human support to deliver on that expectation.
Lenovo Senior Manager of Global Digital Marketing Michael Ballard, on the other hand, expects to enable his marketing team with more tools to automate how they leverage data.
“With this explosion of technologies also comes an explosion of data. And not just access to contact names, but access to traits, intent, buying patterns, etc. If we can harness what’s available to us and focus strategies that align all this great information, there is a great opportunity for everyone, including the customer!” said Ballard.
The only thing, however, that companies seeking to improve their marketing automation must keep in mind is that they must constantly keep thinking about the market, their competition, and their customer’s needs.
So long as businesses use marketing automation to improve the experience, they’ll continue to win a share of their customer’s hearts along with a bigger share of their wallets.
If you’re a social media marketer, two things are almost certain: You spend a lot of time on your mobile phone, and you spend even more time teaching your friends and colleagues how to use the latest apps and features because you’re at the forefront of it all.
Social media is constantly evolving. This makes marketers beg the question: How do I keep track of everything that’s changing — and still have time to do my job?
We feel your pain, and we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up our tips and tricks for keeping up with social media news that we use every day here at HubSpot. And once you have a system down, keep track of what you’re sharing on social media this month with these tools for managing your social media calendar.
11 Tips for Keeping Up With Social Media News & Trends
1. Create a stream on Twitter with popular hashtags.
The best place to find out the most recent news about social is — you guessed it — on social media. Start by creating a stream on Twitter with popular social media hashtags. You can use terms like #socialmedia, #smchat, or #inboundmarketing — if you need more ideas, check out Hashtags.org. Avoid searching for a term that’s too general (like #marketing) because you’ll quickly see a swarm of tweets flooding into your stream.
HubSpot customers can create a stream using HubSpot Social Inbox. First, start by typing your hashtag into the search box at the top of the screen.
Then, check out your results. You will see a list of people and tweets matching your search term.
If you like the sampling of results that you see, you can create a stream with that hashtag.
If you’re not a HubSpot customer, you can save searches directly on Twitter in a very similar manner. First, search for the term you’re interested in using the search bar in the top-right corner of the Twitter homepage:
Then, when you reach the results page of your Twitter search, tap the gear icon and select “Save this search.”
Then, the next time you head to the Twitter search bar, your saved search will appear for you to easily click and start reading:
2. Make a Twitter list of influencers in the industry.
The beauty of social media is that the experts often hang out there, too. Whenever there is a new announcement or update in the social media world, you’ll find influencers discussing it on Twitter.
Use the hashtags that you gathered in the previous example and pick out some of the most active people tweeting on them. Make a Twitter list based on your findings and spend some time each day running through the list to see what they have to say. And don’t be shy to ask them questions yourself. After all, that’s what social media is all about.
Now that you have a list of influencers and hashtags that you can follow on social media, you can set up a Google Alert for some of them. That way, you’ll get regular updates when they post content or are interviewed about social media.
Pick your top three favorite influencers or topics and set up Google Alerts for them. This will help you stay up to date on any breaking news in the industry. We recommend getting these alerts once a day so your inbox isn’t completely clogged.
All you have to do is type in your search term, select your frequency, and you are ready to go.
You can also choose to do this for certain social media terms or trends. The specificity of your search term will determine how many alerts you receive. For example, the term “social media” is written about every day, but “social media trends in North America” will generate more targeted alerts.
4. See what’s trending on Instagram’s Explore tab.
Instagram’s Explore tab lets users search for terms and hashtags to see what content people are sharing on the platform that day. It also serves users with related searches to see what else people are talking about. You could search for terms like “social media” or #socialmediamarketing to see what’s going on:
5. Join Groups on LinkedIn.
Discussions on LinkedIn about social media for business are extremely lively. Whether there’s an update to Facebook, a new social network that’s making traction, or a new theory on the future of social media, you are sure to find it in LinkedIn groups. Even better, you will meet a lot of other social media enthusiasts with whom you can network and ask questions.
As bloggers ourselves, we’re going to suggest that you subscribe to a few blogs that post content about social media so you don’t miss anything. If there’s a new feature or trend, it will definitely be written about in detail on these blogs.
However, more important than subscribing to these blogs is making sure you set aside time each week to read through your content. Block off as much time as you need to go through the content — that could be anywhere from 15 minutes a day or 15 minutes a week.
Here are a few blogs to get you started that cover social media:
Take the time to go to a social media conference. This will be a great opportunity to hear from social media experts in the industry and be able to ask the burning questions you may have. You will get the most up-to-date advice about running a social media campaign and what you should know when using social media.
However, it isn’t realistic for all of us to pack up and go to every single conference that talks about social media. If you are unable to attend the conference in person, you should follow along via — you guessed it — social media. Every conference or event will have a corresponding hashtag that you can follow during the conference on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Social media posts are often quotes from speakers at the event, so you’ll still get access to the content being shared.
For example, each year, INBOUND covers top social media trends, among a variety of other topics. The following stream shows people who are tweeting about INBOUND 2016 using the hashtag #INBOUND16.
8. Listen to podcasts.
An easy way to learn about what’s changed in the social media space is to listen to the news on social media marketing podcasts. Podcasts vary in length and provide lots of valuable information from social media experts and influencers in the form of interviews, case studies, and rundowns of the latest news. You can listen to episodes during your commute, at home, or just when you need a break from your computer screen.
Marketing Smarts: How ‘Dolphin Tale’ Brought 800,000 Visitors a Year to Clearwater Marine Aquarium
The Growth Show: Episode 100: Guy Kawasaki’s Unconventional Advice on Growth
Hashtagged: Focusing on Creating Content and Community Versus Being an Influencer with Dan Joyce
9. Set up an IFTTT.
IFTTT (“If this, then that”) sets up connections between apps and services you already use for content discovery and sharing. When you set up an IFTTT with a Recipe, you can save time by automatically having social media news and updates served up to you according to your content consumption preferences. Here are a few we recommend setting up to keep track of social media news:
10. Set up a news aggregator on Feedly.
There are various free news aggregation RSS feeds that you can customize and subscribe to to centralize news from a variety of different sources all on one page. I use Feedly, and after subscribing to different marketing and technology publications, I set Feedly as my homepage. That way, I have to glance at the big headlines before starting work each morning.
You can easily search for topics and names of publications to add to your Feedly to keep your knowledge as current as possible.
11. Get certified in social media.
Taking HubSpot Academy’s free online Social Media Certification will update you on how social media is being used today, and make you a certified social media marketer at the same time. Explore up to eight lessons in social media, from social media listening and moderating to how communications teams use social media to manage a crisis.
Try out some of our suggestions and let us know if they help you keep track of the latest social media news. We’ve made some predictions about how social media will evolve in the future, so keep an eye out for more news and trends — they’re right around the corner.
Advertisers can reach more than 2 billion people around the world through Facebook, but it’s hard to do so. So Facebook is trying to make it easier.
On Tuesday, Facebook rolled out new features to lower the barrier for brands to advertise internationally. The four new features span an option to streamline campaigns aimed at audiences that speak different languages to tools that can be used to find audiences that may be in many different places.
While Facebook’s new features are aimed at helping brands boost their businesses internationally, their aim is also to help Facebook’s international business. While 88 percent of Facebook’s monthly audience is outside of the US and Canada, roughly half of its ad revenue — 48 percent — comes from ads targeted to people in the US and Canada. To close that gap, Facebook needs to help advertisers bridge their campaigns elsewhere. Here are the new ways in which it is.
Dynamic language optimization
Advertisers want to communicate with people in their native tongue. But that simple idea is complicated to put into practice. For example, a campaign aimed at soccer lovers in the US might need to have English- and Spanish-language versions of its text even if all other elements of the ad is the same. Previously, the advertiser behind that single campaign would have needed to create two different campaigns because of the different languages in the ads. Not anymore. Through a new feature called dynamic language optimization, brands can configure a single campaign that features text in multiple languages, and Facebook will automatically show the version that corresponds to each audience member’s preferred language as set in their Facebook profile.
Multicountry lookalike audiences
Last year, Facebook enabled brands to take their Custom Audience lists and find so-called “lookalike” audiences of people who share similar characteristics but live in another country. However, brands had to repeat this process for every single country in which they wanted to find their lookalike audiences. Now, Facebook is removing that tedium by enabling brands to create lookalike audiences that span multiple countries or regions.
Sometimes brands don’t know which specific cities they want to target. They may only know the size of the cities they want to target. But now, through multicity targeting, brands can specify the population range of the cities they want to reach, and Facebook will automatically target the campaign to people in the cities that fit that parameter.
International audience finder
The aforementioned features are fine for brands that have at least a semblance of an idea of the international audiences they want to reach. But some brands are still searching for that basic insight. So Facebook is rolling out a fairly basic tool to find it. Using Facebook’s new Cross-Border Insights Finder, brands can pick the primary country they advertise in currently, their business’s industry and their campaign objective. Then Facebook will spit out a list of countries where similar advertisers have seen success, in accordance with how likely people in those countries are to convert, the relative cost of advertising in those countries and how competitive their respective ad markets are. Brands can also opt to hand-pick up to 11 countries to compare across a given industry and campaign objective.
As you put together your marketing strategy for 2018, there have never been more tools and tactics fighting for your budget. Technologies considered emerging over the last several years are beginning to peak as marketers inch closer to realizing the full potential of AI, machine learning and voice search. Privacy concerns over tracking and data collection have given way to demands for greater personalization across platforms, channels, and devices.
All of this increasingly granular, targeted marketing powered by technology enables more meaningful consumer interactions, driven by a massive amount of consumer data. The next big step in moving the needle on performance requires that you sync your tech around your understanding of that data, and martech is leading the way.
As you prioritize your areas of focus, know that mastering these five martech trends will be critical in 2018.
1. Capitalize on the convergence of martech and ad tech
Given the competitive nature of budget allocation between ad tech and martech, it’s no wonder many executives dread their convergence. Take it from Joe Stanhope at Forrester, though: This convergence of ad tech and martech is nothing to be afraid of.
In a recent CMO.com column, Stanhope shared the two major benefits of the convergence: economic throughput and contextual marketing. Convergence redefines the path of marketing spend across technology, data, media, and content, he wrote. As for the latter, it also advances the technology stack and drives engagement across touch points, devices and stages of the customer lifecycle.
I’ve written about this convergence myself here at MarTech Today, including the skills you’ll need to navigate this brave new world where ad tech is automating markets and martech is scaling business outcomes. Marketing technology has grown rapidly to claim a 33 percent stake in the marketing budget, according to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2015-2016, and you should expect that to grow in 2018 and beyond.
Are you prepared to speak knowledgeably on artificial intelligence and defend its role in your organization? How will you measure the ROI of your AI efforts?
Because it’s not a magic-button solution for every challenge, there’s great value in making sure you’re applying AI only where it can actually move the needle. Home in on those high-volume, low-margin areas of the business, and examine the ways AI could help reduce frustrations and improve ROI. Go for the quickest wins first to prove its value early on and win buy-in across the board.
There are even greater gains to be made with a customer-first approach. The machine learning component of your AI technology drives deeper, more insightful connections along each customer’s journey, enabling you to engage with content that resonates when it matters most.
This is critical in 2018, which may well be smack in the middle of the rise of the Internet of Things. By 2020, some expect the IoT to have grown to a sobering 75 billion connected devices. Machine learning is critical as we try to keep pace with the rapidly evolving consumer behaviors and preferences that brings.
3. Take advantage of the wide open spaces in voice search
The opportunity that is voice search increases exponentially when you look at how many marketers are dropping the ball. My company, BrightEdge, found that 31 percent of marketers believe voice search to be the next big thing, and we already know that 20 percent of all Google searches now stem from voice queries. It’s going to get bigger, too; comScore predicts that by 2020, 50 percent of consumers will be interacting with voice-activated technology.
Companies like MapQuest are evolving with voice search in mind. MapQuest is working to improve natural language navigation so that users can interact without a visual interface, Andy McMahon, MapQuest’s director of search and local data, said at a conference earlier this year. He said voice search is an awkward “first date” phase but will grow and evolve.
Smart marketers are all over voice search, so how do we explain that over 60 percent still have no plans to prepare for voice search?
While they sort themselves out, there’s a huge opportunity for forward-thinking CMOs to take advantage of the reduced competition caused by those dragging their feet. You can begin mapping your content consumer intent at the right points of their decision-making journey.
For example, we know that the majority of voice search queries are conversational in nature. Your understanding of that intent enables you to tailor your content and position it as the best answer for those voiced queries.
Increase your content’s visibility by answering questions using in-demand keywords that align with the topics that matter to your brand. Which brings us to…
4. Create SMART, purposeful content to win eyes and conversions
Now that you’ve mastered process and production, you have a solid underpinning of quality content to build on. Shift your focus to discovery and performance, where the most impactful gains can be had.
Poor content performance is a nearly universal challenge for marketers, 71 percent of whom say that less than half their content is consumed at all, our company research concludes. I recommend that CMOs look at content through the SMART lens (where S stands for Specific, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for relevant and T for timely), ensuring content is:
targeted to exactly what customers want and need when they need it.
optimized to make the content more visible and discoverable.
always on and always optimized — adaptive, dynamic, and relevant.
integrated and activated across devices and the entire marketing stack for maximum impact.
profitable for the marketers because the content delights and engages readers on topics they have intent for and primes them for conversion.
Martech, AI and the power of ad tech-based automated buys will make content promotion more effective and power increasingly more granular targeting. Tackling your content strategy with SMART in mind will ensure that you have the most thoughtful, helpful, relevant content to feed your ideal consumers’ needs for information.
5. Get granular with a hyperlocal mobile search strategy
Even national or global multilocation brands need a local marketing strategy. Nearly a third of all searches from a mobile device are related to location, and the previous years’ trend of rising “Near Me” searches has given way as consumers have dropped the qualifiers and instead assume results will be relevant to their location, according to Google.
Martech is really the only way large brands are going to be able to handle the demand for accurate, timely location information at scale. Consumers simply won’t give you another chance if the store hours for Store #847 in Bowling Green, Kentucky, are wrong, and they click for directions to a closed store. Worse yet, inaccurate location data undermines search engine trust in your brand and can negatively affect your ability for locations to rank in the communities they matter most.
Nearly two-thirds of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps customize information to their location, according to Google. In 2018, smart CMOs will get on board with local marketing technology designed to empower local managers while retaining brand controls.
Optimizing the listings for hundreds or even thousands of locations at scale is a challenge that demands highly localized content, from in-store photos to current promotions to local customer reviews.
Martech gives even the smallest franchises, corporate locations and service-based businesses access to powerful, enterprise-level content and SEO tools. Make sure your locations aren’t missing out on these highly motivated consumers who are on the go and in their need-to-buy moments.
Setting your organization up for martech-driven success in 2018
As we redefine our marketing spend across technologies and human capital, we’ll find that perhaps fewer people are needed but those in control of these powerful martech tools will be uber-specialists across disciplines. In that way, even as the prevalence of martech grows, the humans who drive it will become more — not less — important.
Be careful not to place too much emphasis on inputs, as well. Prioritize outputs — your revenue, your customer value — but more importantly, the performance imperative should be your top priority as you’re planning for the year ahead. You can learn more about making martech decisions that prioritize ROI here.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech Today. Staff authors are listed here.
If dollars were snowflakes, you’d be in for a blizzard.
Did you know that 40% of holiday shoppers begin searching and purchasing before November? Here is the Holiday planning guide for seasonal marketing to Optimize your small business holiday advertising now and you could generate more calls, more foot traffic, more sales — more of what you want this season. It’s a great time to diversify your search engine marketing efforts. To help you, here’s your practical guide to the key dates, stats, and tips you need to know, packed into a month-by-month holiday breakdown:
A checklist to help you make sure you’re ready for the holidays (and beyond).
Key dates to prep you for hot search and sale days.
Stats to arm you with customer info and shopping habits.