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Author: Rick Knutsen

10+ years of experience in SEM & SEO, online advertising, social media, with a documented record of success in increasing online presence and brand awareness

Key Resources to Keep Your Professional New Year’s Resolutions in Check

Professional New Years Resolutions Resources

Summary: Setting professional goals that will help you become better at what you do everyday is, after all, the whole point. Challenging ourselves to becoming more productive, creative and happier at work is essential to any team’s success.

Here we are: two weeks into a shiny new decade and – if history proves correct – some of you are already struggling with those infamous New Year’s resolutions. According to research on this, only 8% of those who make a list of resolutions success. (Yikes!) But no judgement here. We’re all guilty. Sometimes life happens and old habits are tough to break.

The thing that struck me recently is the kind of resolutions most people talk about. We’ve all heard the usual M.O. when it comes to resolutions: “This year, I will save more money…exercise more…quit smoking…learn a new hobby…etc.” These are all great personal objectives. And if you’re successful with hitting your personal self-care goals, then more power to you.

But lately, around the office, I’ve noticed the New Year’s resolutions are a buzz with a refreshing entrepreneurial edge to them. And I love it. Professional resolutions are so much more exciting to me, simply because of the network and support group you have amongst colleagues, mentors, and even your clients. And setting professional goals that will help you become better at what you do everyday is, after all, the whole point. Challenging ourselves to becoming more productive, creative and happier at work is essential to any team’s success.

I’m going talk about three of the most popular resolutions floating around our office to give you an idea of what you could add to your own business’ professional resolutions. I’ll also dive into some supplementary resources that my colleagues and I have used, which, hopefully, will help you (and us) become a part of that elusive 8%.

podcasts

1. “I will listen to more work-related podcasts (not just True Crime ones)”

Whether you’re looking to be a better marketer or looking for inspiration for launching a new business, podcasts offer up a great avenue to learning something new. And it’s truly as easy as accessing Spotify during your subway commute into work, driving to your next client meeting, or grabbing your afternoon espresso. Podcasts fit into a busy life and will put you into the right frame of mind to conquer your professional goals. And the nice things about podcasts is that there’s something for everyone. Those seeking motivation, expert tips, or even a moment of mid-day zen will find something useful. Bonus: with podcasts you don’t have to listen to the episodes in order.

A few helpful resources:

  • The Charged Life with Brendan Bouchard –  Bouchard is a high performance expert and a New York Times bestselling author who focuses on tapping into your motivational drive. It’s great for a quick Monday morning boost to get ready for the week ahead.
  • The #AskGaryVee Show – Thought leader Gary Vaynerchuk dives into topics like entrepreneurship, business management, leadership and millennialism. Tune in for both practical and inspirational know-how about creating the career you always wanted. You’ll find his perspective interesting since he’s actually only taken 3 vacations in his whole life!
  • The Growth Show with Hubspot – Hubspot CMO, Kipp Bodnar, and VP of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson, discuss all things related to business growth from an organizational and cultural perspective. Explore how teams at Google, Apple and Twitter have changed the way they handle team management.
  • Entrepreneur.com 10 Podcast Recommendations –  Deep Patel from Entrepreneur.com recently shared 10 of his recommendations all of which focus on success stories, lessons and challenges from other entrepreneurs like Tony Robbins, and Tim Ferriss. I haven’t had the chance to tune into all of these yet, but a few of them will definitely get added to my list.

2. “I will keep up-to-date with Google’s every move”

google analytics

This is a tough one to make, but doable. Since Google’s algorithm changes more times than a baby’s diaper, this resolution is actually an annual must-have for any marketer, small business owner, or solo-preneur. These algorithm updates are helping searchers find the most useful content out there and you want it to come from you! So keeping up with Google’s changes is the place to start.

A few helpful resources:

  • The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – This is one of our favorites from the folks at Moz. It’s all about making your site search-friendly on Google (or any other search engine for that matter). While Google is working on their nest algorithm update, newcomers should always start with SEO education.
  • Why You Need to Care About On-SERP SEO – ‘No-click searches’ took the SERPS by storm this year, which changed the game for marketers. This is a huge Google development you need to continue to watch closely this year.
  • Google in 2020: From Everyone’s Search Engine to Everyone’s Competitor – Rand Fishkin from SparkToro (and formally MOZ) is a favorite source of ours around here for all things SEO. Keep an eye on Rand, and you inevitably keep an eye on Google. Check out this latest presentation on how Google is expected to change the web landscape this year.
  • Google – Sometimes you just gotta go straight to the horse’s mouth. Google’s team covers major updates and answers important questions directly on their blog

3. “I will learn a new programming language”

learn programming language

High five to all of you who’ve made this resolution this year. No one can ever tell you that you’re scared of a challenge! Marketers ready to jump on this one already know that having at least a basic handle on a few programming languages is an excellent way to enhance your marketing toolkit. Even just being familiar with coding can help open up doors for customized solutions, creating cooler email campaigns, executing better A/B testing, automating GoogleAds, and – naturally – working with tech partners much easier. 

A few helpful resources:

  • Programming 101 for Marketers – Kapost shared this comprehensive list of which languages might be the most helpful for marketers. From Javascript to Python, they dive into practical benefits of each. There are far more than the ones mentioned here, but it’s a decent place to start.
  • Intro to Python from Moz – Python is a hot topic in the marketing world lately and this recent Whiteboard Friday talks about how it can automate tasks, discover keyword opportunities, scrape websites and more. Plus, the episode has a cute little python named Pumpkin to get you into the mood. (Personally, I would have named the python Monty).
  • 10 Free Classes to Learn to Code (If You Have Absolutely No Idea Where to Start) – Here’s a rundown of free classes to start with on resources like Codecademy, Udemy and Skillshare. Learning to code can be intimidating to jump into, so the gratis route can do wonders for alleviating the pressure.

No matter what you choose to work on improving this year, remember there are other professionals out there tackling the same goals as you. Share resources, celebrate milestones, and ask for help if you need it. Often, it’s in your network that you will find the most motivation to reach your target.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

How to Generate More Sales Leads

With the advancements in A.I. tech and increased demand for customer personalization, your lead generation strategies will need updating in 2020. With our extensive knowledge and expertise, we can guide you on the right path in this new year.

Whenever we meet with a business to discuss their digital marketing strategy, they usually tell us they need two things – more leads, and more sales.

We have gotten really good at generating both of these things for our clients and can do the same for you.

LET’S GET STARTED

Mobile-Sales-Leads

Ready to Grow Your Business?

We take the time to understand your organization and customers, and then build a strategy that is aligned and capable of delivering remarkable results.

persona-presentation

Find the right prospective customers

You need to make sure your sales pipeline remains strong. Our experienced team will walk you through the process of generating awareness for your products and services, so your leads are more likely to become customers.

people-engaged-phone-outdoor

Capitalize on the digital economy

Take advantage of an exponentially larger customer base while managing your business growth using technologically advanced sales and marketing automation techniques.

Speak with a WSI Expert today

As we enter a new decade, we want your business to be at the top of its game. Stop scratching your heads and hand over your marketing stumbling blocks to the experts.

Our certified WSI Digital Marketing Experts and Agencies are pioneers in their field, and would love to sit down with you (for free) to discuss your current marketing activities – what’s working, what isn’t, and what you could be doing better!

Want to Get In Touch?

We take the time to understand your organization and customers, and then build a strategy that is aligned and capable of delivering remarkable results.

We look forward to chatting!

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

Winning Spree for WSI Continues! Three New Wins at 2019 WMA

Summary: WSI’s winning ways continue in the 2019 WMA MobileWebAwards Competition after capturing 3 best-in-industry mobile web design recognitions.

WSI just can’t stop winning!

I’m proud to announce that WSI has received three Web Marketing Association MobileWebAwards in this year’s competition, which includes recognition for Best Consulting Mobile WebsiteBest Entertainment Mobile Website and Best Restaurant Mobile Website.

The WMA MobileWebAwards recognizes excellence in the explosive growth and creativity in the mobile web space. The competition judges all aspects of mobile web and app development and considers different criteria like creativity, impact, design, content, interactivity, ease of use, and use of the medium when determining winners. The WMA, also hosts the premier annual website award competition in which WSI captured 15 WebAwards and was named Top Agency for 2019.

Here is a showcase of WSI’s three 2019 WMA MobileWebAward winners. Click on each to view the award winning site, and switch to your mobile device to see why they were recognized for excellence in mobile web design:

WSI World

for Best Consulting Mobile Website

WSI Marketing Team

Slide3

 

Illuminate Hollywood

for Best Entertainment Mobile Website

Slide1

 

Downtown Joe’s Brewery and Restaurant

for Best Restaurant Mobile Website

Slide2

This is exciting news for the entire WSI network across the world. Congratulations to our winners and the individuals involved in their incredible work! Your efforts strengthen the WSI brand and showcase the importance of having a strong mobile web presence.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

7 Year-End To-Dos That Everyone Forgets About

To-Do-List
Summary: In the spirit of sharing, I am going to quickly run through some simple to-dos that could be helpful to your own team’s year-end checklist. Who knows – maybe your future selves will thank you later.

We are so close to the holiday break that I can pretty much taste the eggnog. For most professionals, end-of-the-year tasks have been in full swing for several weeks now. Many of us are powering through this holiday homestretch until the usual festivities mandate we celebrate with friends and family and/or get some much needed R&R. I, for one, have no shame in saying that I’m looking forward to some downtime for the holidays!

But, until then, businesses everywhere are BUSY:
the year’s budget, revenue and profits are in review…
tax documents are being prepped…
holiday sales and promotions are launching…
next year’s strategies are in deep development…
new editorial calendars are being formed…
performance reviews are getting scheduled…
technology vendor contracts are getting renewed…
annual holiday greetings are being sent…
the list goes on and it’s an exhaustive one.

But it’s a to-do list that many teams, of all shapes and sizes, tackle every single year. Good or bad, most of us are simply used to it. December to-do lists come naturally as a tool for tying up loose ends before venturing into the next year, full of new challenges and opportunities.

december-to-dos

So, I realize everyone is insanely busy at the moment. And adding extra tasks to your to-dos does not sound like the most fun idea. But, as our team tackled our own checklist this month, I realized that there are some additional, fairly easy to-dos that some might not regularly think about during the holidays.

In the spirit of sharing, I am going to quickly run through some simple to-dos that could be helpful to your own team’s year-end checklist. Who knows – maybe your future selves will thank you later.

1. Backup Your Files In Multiple Places

I’m talking to you, smaller teams! Maybe you don’t have an IT department who has a handle on backing up all your important files on the daily. This is an important task that can protect you from the heartbreaking disaster of losing digital files to damage, theft, or unexpected events like floods! (Ask anyone on our team about the infamous Server Room Flood of ‘12! Luckily we backed up. #welaughaboutitnow). Use external hard drives or the cloud to backup important business documents and client files. Always better safe than sorry.

2. Plan Next Year’s Courses and Conferences

Q4 likely consisted of you and your team developing your first campaigns and editorial calendar of the New Year. So now that those details are ironed out, you might have a pretty good idea of when you’ll be available to attend important industry conferences or complete that online course you’ve been eyeing. Be purposeful in your personal and professional growth by adding this to your to-dos.

3. Assign Someone to Fill In While You’re Away

If you’re taking a few extra days this season to rest and recharge away from work life, you can still be mindful of those left back at the office. Now I know it might be unrealistic to dump all your responsibilities on a team member, but having a simple contact in place in the event of an emergency is enough to keep everyone at ease.

4. Set Boundaries by Automating Communications

Even the most successful brands set healthy boundaries over the holiday season in order to let their teams truly recharge. And since it’s often unthinkable to leave clients or customers in the dark over the holidays, consider leveraging easy tools like your email autoresponder, web forms or a web chatbot. These are simple ways to keep important lines of communication open with your audience without sacrificing your holiday.

5. Prep Your Devices for Vacation

Depending on the nature of your work, you might have to be available to colleagues or customers over the holidays. Short of lugging around your laptop and charger to every holiday gathering you go to, you can streamline some office tasks by downloading important work apps to your smartphone. Think: email client apps, calendar apps (eg. Outlook), communication apps (eg. Slack), or prototyping apps (eg. InVision). Working remotely sans laptop is possible!

6. Snooze Notifications

This might sound counterintuitive to #5 up there, but time away from the office is equally important to gearing up for the New Year ahead. Customize those app settings so only the most urgent messages get through. Create your personal balance between enjoying the holidays and being available to your colleagues when it’s totally necessary.

7. Outsource To-Dos (If You Have To!)

If there’s one thing at risk during the holiday rush, it’s your sanity. Personal and professional to-dos are at their height at the end of the year and this stress can do a number to your productivity as well as your health. If your team simply doesn’t have the cycles to complete that crucial last project or launch that final campaign, then get some specialists on the job. Outsourcing to specialists to tackle the tasks you are struggling with, lets you focus your energy elsewhere and check everything else off of your year-end to-do list.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

The Future of Marketing: 5 Predictions for 2020

future-predictions

Summary: One of the annual traditions we have is our yearly predictions for what’s to come on the marketing front. This dates back to 2014 and it’s a chance for us to analyze past trends, anticipate the future of our crazy industry and – if we’re on point – prepare accordingly.

December is always so bittersweet, what with the holidays and the realization that another year has come and gone. This year, we’re all forging ahead into the next decade (sounds weird to call it the ‘20s!) and I for one, am excited for what is around the corner. I hope you and yours have a wonderful start to 2020.

One of the annual traditions we have around here is our yearly predictions for what’s to come on the marketing front. This tradition dates back to 2014 and it’s a chance for us to analyze past trends, anticipate the future of our crazy industry and – if we’re on point – prepare accordingly. Sometimes we’re way off and other times, we hit the nail right on the head.

Here’s the grading scheme we created for the original post in 2014:

  • Oracle (+2) – when we’re so right it’s like we channeled that nice lady from The Matrix
  • Oracle In-Training (+1) – we didn’t quite see the whole picture, but hey, we still saw the future
  • Clear As Mud (0) – we weren’t right, but we weren’t wrong, either
  • Just A Bit Outside (-1) – we tried to paint the corner of the plate, but the ump didn’t give us the call
  • Swing And A Miss (-2) – like a batter who expects fastball and gets a curve, we weren’t close

Before we jump into the predictions for 2020, let’s take a look at how we did in 2019:

#1: Google Searches Resulting in “Zero Clicks” Will Increase (Again)

Grade: +2

We start off with an easy win. There is no doubt the number of “Zero Click” searches will rise again in 2020, just as it has in each of the last three years. In case you need a refresher, a “Zero Click” search is one that results in zero websites receiving a visit via a clickthrough on the SERP.

Rand wrote a great data-backed post over on his SparkToro blog, but here’s all you need to know:

Google-search-CTR-2016-2019

Make no mistake, this is not fun news for digital marketers. What it means is that companies and marketers need to address what’s clearly happening – Google becoming more of a competitor to all of us – rather than hoping it goes away. As you’ll see later in the post, the idea of “Zero Click” searches will once again be a theme in 2020.

#2: On-SERP SEO Becomes a Term and a Tactic

Grade: +1

It’s a bit of a challenge to find clear data on this one, but there is enough circumstantial evidence to suggest we were on the right track with the prediction and deserve partial marks. Afterall, one of the ways to combat the issue of Google actively lowering the number of referrals the SERPs send is to do better on-SERP SEO.

Also consider these findings from a 2019 Google ranking factors report, also conducted by Rand and the SparkToro team:

trends-impacting-seo-2019

The #1 and #3 trends are an even stronger indication that brands and marketers maybe should have been worrying about on-SERP SEO in 2019.

#3: Game-Changing Influencer Marketing Tools Make a Big Splash

Grade: 0

This one is murky enough for us to take a 0, but we weren’t wrong. Posts like this and this do suggest the appetite for influencer marketing tools is growing. The main issue with our prediction is we were eagerly anticipating SparkToro’s launch in 2019 and that didn’t happen. Here’s to the big launch happening in 2020!

#4: Marketers Realize the Importance of Optimizing Content for Voice Search

Grade: +1

In 2019, we wrote a post about how voice search will change the digital marketing landscape. Is that enough evidence for us to take a win? Given that one of Google’s major algorithm updates in 2019 – BERT, which we also wrote about – was mainly focused on NLP and voice search, we think so.

#5: Video Content Grows in Popularity (Again)

Grade: +2

We certainly had conviction in last year’s predictions, because we also blogged about video marketing in 2019. If that isn’t enough, consider these two stats:

  • According to HubSpot, 81% of businesses used video as a marketing tool in 2019, which was up from 63% over the last year
  • Cisco study found that by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic – 15 times higher than it was in 2017

Seems like enough for the full two points!

Final Score: +6

You know what this means! While we fell one point short of 2018’s record-setting batch of predictions, we achieved enough success in 2019 to keep this rolling for another year.


Forward and onward. Now, let’s take a look at this year’s predictions for what’s to come in 2020:

#1: Zero-Click Searches Are Going to Continue to Take Over

If you saw this repeat prediction coming, you’ve been paying attention. Unfortunately for marketers, ad and organic clicks are steadily on the decline and we’re going to keep a close eye on this one over the course of the next year. Over the next 12 months, we’re expecting marketers to focus on optimizing their web content on Google’s own properties (YouTube, Maps, Images, Knowledge Panels, etc) in an attempt to offset any negative impact to their traffic.

#2: It’s Time to Consider Other Communication Channels (Besides Email) As Key Conversion Points

We’re not saying email is going extinct though! So don’t take this prediction to mean that you can stop cleaning and optimizing your lists. Rather, the communication avenues have become so much more diverse in recent years that marketers and companies will need to leverage alternative channels in order to keep a competitive edge. We’re expecting to see a lot more brands connect and engage with customers through solutions like chatbots, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Let’s see how this helps companies make meaningful relationships and drive engagement with their audiences.

#3: Software Vendors WIll Focus on Customer Data Compliance

With the increasing international demand for stronger personal data protection and well-known regulations like GDPR and CCPA, marketing software vendors will focus on compliance as a primary service. Marketing teams, IT departments, as well as customers, will rely heavily on their tech vendors to adapt to the changing regulatory landscape. Subsequently, those vendors who don’t tout compliance as a prime service, will no-doubt lose market share.

#4: Influencer Marketing Will Continue to Soar

But we’re not talking about the “celebrity” influencers who have millions of followers! This year, watch to see brands turn to people with a smaller social media following as influencers who other people trust. Considering that over 90% trust other consumer recommendations along with this prediction that influencer marketing spend could reach $10 billion this year, we think we’ll be scoring ourselves pretty high for this one next year.

#5: Alternate Search Engines (NOT Bing or Yahoo) Will Come Out of the Woodwork

We’re not going as far as saying that alternate search engines will start competing with Google; Google will still continue to be the juggernaut it is. However, given the impact of zero-click effects (see #1 above) and the increasing concern over data privacy, privacy-focused search engines might have room to carve out a niche in 2020. DuckDuckGo is one example of this and they’ve catered to privacy-minded searchers with their tagline “the search engine that doesn’t track you” because “search engines don’t need to track users to make money.” It will be interesting to see how this one pans out among marketers and consumers in the New Year.


And that concludes the predictions for 2020! All of us at WSI are looking forward to what the New Year brings and we definitely plan on keeping a close eye on our predictions as well as the game-changing innovations that lay ahead.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

Expert Roundup: How Is BERT Impacting Search?

Google-Search
Summary: The kicker with this algorithm update is that you can’t really optimize for it. So if your business is executing a content marketing strategy, BERT seems a little jarring.

Lately you might have heard or read a lot of marketing chatter about some dude named Bert. And while I would love to regale you with a tale about a quirky, yet lovable gentleman from the South, I can’t. This particular Bert is actually Google’s BERT – their recently released search algorithm that appears to have some businesses nervous about their SEO strategies…arguably with good reason.

Why? Well, the kicker with this algorithm update is that you can’t really optimize for it. (Pausing now for collective gasp). So if your business is currently executing a content marketing strategy and you’re used to having marketers like us constantly advise you to optimize for your keywords, BERT – understandably – seems a little jarring.

Yes, it’s probably going to take time getting used to BERT’s impact on the results pages, but all it truly means is that search is becoming smarter. More intuitive. More searcher-friendly.

Today, I want to briefly introduce Google’s BERT for those of you who haven’t heard much about it yet. And then I’m going to jump into an expert roundup from some of the biggest players in the search marketing world.

What the Heck is Google BERT?

If you’ve already read up on BERT, go ahead and skip this section. For the rest of you, meet Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – ultimately shortened to BERT. It’s Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (or NLP). In other words, BERT can essentially help computers grasp language almost the way humans do – with nuance and context. And because of that deeper understanding of language, BERT can be used to match search queries with much more relevant results.

Let’s look at this example from Google’s blog: a search for “do estheticians stand a lot at work,” is translated differently by Google post-BERT. Before, Google has admitted that it would have matched the term “stand-alone” with “stand” in the query. Now, the BERT models can  “understand that ‘stand’ is related to the concept of the physical demands of a job, and displays a more useful response.” (Source) Simply put, BERT helps Google place more importance on the word “stand” in the context of the search query.

BERT-search-query-example

Another interesting example shows how BERT can also affect Google’s featured snippets. This search query for “parking on a hill with no curb” illustrates Google showing a much more relevant featured snippet on the results page. Pre-BERT, Google would have simply ignored the word “no” in the query with no comprehension of its importance to the entire sentence. 

bert-traveler-example-feature-snippet

Kinda cool, right? Google has described this algorithm update as “one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.” So even though you can’t necessarily optimize for BERT specifically, I strongly recommend you do not ignore it!

Let’s take a look at what some of our peers in the digital space are saying about BERT.

Content Creators: Don’t Change What You’re Doing!

Our friends at the Content Marketing Institute highlight a key difference in the BERT update: it’s not sending the SEO world into chaos or causing widespread website traffic to suddenly plummet the way that algorithm updates have in the past! Because this update aims to help users search more naturally, those of you who already create natural copy can just keep doing what you’re doing! If you’ve been writing content for users, you essentially have nothing to worry about. Be less rigid in your formulaic keyword density (but don’t totally disregard it) and stay focused on writing conversationally and naturally.

Analyze Your Visitors’ User Intent

Now that you understand how BERT essentially works, apply this knowledge to your web data analysis and adapt accordingly. One of the more noticeable negative effects seen after the BERT rollout was a drop in organic search traffic. Jason Wilson, SEO pro at Better Collective, underlines the importance of optimizing for user intent. “It’s now more important than ever. Analyze the results Google serves for your search term, and produce (better) content around that query.”

Review and identify which pages or search terms aren’t performing as well post-BERT, analyze competing sites that are ranking for those terms, and tweak your content accordingly. Using your data to identify low-hanging fruit is an easy way to ensure you’re aligning strategies to BERT.

Don’t Forget About Bing!

Everyone’s talking about Google, but Search Engine Land recently pointed out that the often-forgotten search engine Bing has been applying BERT since April. That pre-dates Google’s update by six months! What’s more, is that Microsoft has rolled out the transformer models to every Bing query globally. (At the moment, for Google, BERT affects only one in 10 searches in English in the U.S.). Improvements like this underline Bing’s viability as a competing platform for both organic and paid campaigns; simply put – don’t rule out Bing in your digital strategy!

Keep Calm and Don’t Over-Hype BERT!

It’s a pretty huge step for Search overall, but NLP and machine learning still have a long way to go as far as language and context comprehension like humans. At a recent Whiteboard Friday, Moz shared an interesting research paper titled “What BERT Can’t Do” by Allyson Ettinger, a Natural Language Processing researcher and professor at the University of Chicago. One cool takeaway is that BERT isn’t great at understanding negation or what things are not. The example below shows how it lacks common sense knowledge in its search prediction in negation context (what a robin is VS. what a robin is not). Seriously fascinating and we should all keep an eye on where this technology could be heading.

BERT-Negation-Diagnostics-MOZ

Anytime a big change rolls out from anywhere in the digital marketing space, one of the key exercises we always try to do is explore and research what other marketing authorities are saying. Reviewing, researching and knowledge sharing is one of the best ways to stay on top of an industry that’s in constant flux. If you’re learning from or discovering new challenges in light of BERT or NLP technology in general, we’d love to hear about it!

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

The Anatomy of a Full-Service Social Media Team (Part 2)

Digtial Marketing Team
Summary: There’s no secret combination or magic number of how many designers, curators or analysts to add to a Social Media Department. There are many ways to build your team, which will be unique to your company’s budget, goals, industry and capacity for training.

Last time I jumped on here, we looked at what a realistic social media team of today should be comprised of. To recap, it is not a good idea to stick an entire social media strategy on one junior Marketing Coordinator. Not unless you want your social strategy to accomplish the bare minimum, hinder your ROI, while ultimately burning out your coordinator. Simply put, a full strategy deserves a full team.

A few weeks ago, the first group of professionals recommended for a full-service social media strategy team included:

  1. A Social Media Manager
  2. A Social Media Content Creator/Curator
  3. A Social Media Advertiser
  4. A Community Manager

Let’s dive into a few more integral roles that would impact your brand’s social team.

5) The Graphic Designer/Video Editor

I already talked about the content creator/curator you’ll likely need as part of your team; this particular role is very similar, but with full focus placed on visual content. So just as the content creator’s copywriting will represent your brand voice, the graphic designer will oversee your brand image. It’s important that this individual adapts alongside the ever-evolving video marketing landscape as well as the constant changes in design trends. (Google is a great example of a team who constantly tweaks their visual image). This is critical for keeping your social presence current and eye-catching.

Adobe creative cloud computer

Skills: Naturally, this team member should be pretty well versed in social media practices and tactics; it’s vital he/she understands how visual communication has an important role to play in the social world. Experience in the main design tools and software is key. I recommend looking for training in current design tools like those included in the Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Muse, Animate…the list goes on!). We usually prefer to also review portfolios for visual communication roles like this one; it is a great way to assess a skill like their attention to detail.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Produces and edits visual content as it aligns to the content calendar and creative briefs
  • Develops graphic assets to accompany social content and advertisements
  • Oversees brand consistency in all visual assets
  • Produces images, illustrations, logos, videos and animations
  • Stays up-to-date on evolving design trends and new tools or software
  • Collaborates with the Content Creator/Curator, Social Media Advertiser and Community Manager to ensure cohesive brand representation

6) The Social Media Influencer Manager

This particular role is one of the newest professional positions to join many large marketing teams. It actually stems from the hugely profitable trend of collaborating with industry influencers. Your Social Influencer Manager will oversee your company’s relationship with influencers in your industry and ensure these influencers’ social content align with your own brand’s vision, values and objectives.

Skills: First and foremost, it’s imperative that your Social Media Influencer Manager understands your industry as well as your brand values inside and out. A full, bird’s eye view enables this role to make valuable connections and build meaningful relationships with your influencers as well as your target audience. That said, you will want someone who has strong relationship building skills and even stronger communication skills. A great candidate will be consider themselves an expert in social marketing and have the know-how to manage several projects at once.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Defines and manages influencer activities and campaigns
  • Researches competitors, key influencers and trends in your industry
  • Aims to align influencer campaigns to overall social media content calendar
  • Creates timely content for influencers
  • Monitors content shared by influencers to ensure brand alignment
  • Collaborates with Content Creator/Curator, Social Media Advertiser and Community Manager to ensure cohesive brand representation

7) The Social Media Analyst

Well you had to know this one was coming. I encourage every team to include at least one analyst; this is the individual who will provide insights that will define your direction. Note, this particular analyst doesn’t necessarily need to be passionate about social media per se. Instead, their interests are in working with stats and data while understanding how social media impacts the business (and vice versa).

Skills: In order to manage the dashboards and organize the data, your analyst should have knowledge of the social media management tools that the rest of your team will be using. Obviously, strong analytical skills come into play for this role; the ability to provide reports and essentially translate it for stakeholders is important for keeping everyone on the same page.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Maintains reporting dashboards on regular basis
  • Prepares, analyzes and presents key findings to stakeholders and team members
  • Provides daily recommendations for team activities to ensure goals are met (eg: sales, awareness, reach etc)
  • Actively studies and stays up-to-date on trends, tools and platforms
  • Collaborates with the whole Social Media Team

I hope this gives you a deeper view into what roles your own team might be lacking. Remember, these are just the basic, core roles to consider. There’s no secret combination or magic number of how many designers, curators or analysts to add to a Social Media Department. There are many ways to build your team, which will be unique to your company’s budget, goals, industry, capacity for training, etc.

Plus, considering the rapid growth and digital advancements made on a daily basis, flexibility is your best friend. For all we know, I’ll be back in a few months talking about brand new roles you might want on your marketing team.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

The Anatomy of a Full-Service Social Media Team (Part 1)

Marketing Team Structure
Summary: Regardless of whether you’re going to hire your own internal team or work with an agency, it’s important to understand some of the key social media positions, skillsets and responsibilities you might need on your team.

Pretty much anyone and everyone who has spent time building a social presence online for a brand knows this one truth: It. Is. TOUGH. It’s so much more than the daily tweet announcing your latest product launch. Those were the olden times of the social media world. These days, businesses – both small operations and large enterprises – require time and energy to truly thrive in the social space. Your social channels are no longer just online spaces to fill; now they’re places that help your business grow.

And since the social media space has evolved, so, too, has the professional landscape for social media marketers. Historically, a company’s social presence often required only one junior marketer who was responsible for sharing (or re-sharing) insightful information across main social channels a couple times a week. But today, successful social media strategies almost always require a team; sometimes a rather large team.

Below, I’ll dive into 4 of the 8 key roles and responsibilities within many full-service social media teams.

“Who Should I Hire to Manage Our Social Media?”

This happens to be one of the most common questions I hear from business owners. And when we tell them that a great social presence will typically require more than one Marketing Coordinator on staff, the reaction is often one of surprise and confusion. But the truth is, underestimating the resources needed to execute a full social media strategy may not only inhibit your ROI, but it will harm your marketing operational processes while potentially putting a strain on employee bandwidth.

Additionally, the size of your social team will vary. This can depend on various factors, like budget for salaries, your overall digital strategy, the workspace available, your marketing technologies, ad budget, etc. In other words, there’s no standard formula for building a social media team; the right roles and responsibilities for your team should be defined by your particular circumstances.

Now, regardless of what your circumstances are, it’s important to know what the main social media team roles are.

4 Key Roles and Responsibilities for Building Your Social Media Team

Regardless of whether you’re going to hire your own internal team or work with an agency, there are some important roles you should know about. Let’s take a look at some of the key social media positions, skillsets and responsibilities you might need on your team.

Social Media Marketer Desk

1) The Social Media Manager

Like any other team manager, your Social Media Manager will be responsible for your social reputation as well as the team itself. This individual should understand your brand, product or service, and your company values.

Skills: Your Social Media Manager should not only be familiar with your industry, but also proactively keep up to date on the latest social media trends. This individual will have a direct impact on your overall marketing strategy so solid knowledge around SEO, lead generation, social media management tools and technologies, and customer service are very important. Look for someone with an affinity for knowledge sharing and strong leadership skills, which the rest of the social team can align to and learn from. Excellent presentation skills will also come in handy as your Social Manager will need to be social (pun intended) and represent your business in front of customers and other stakeholders. Lastly, I also always recommend that the Social Media Manager have a creative background in both copywriting and an eye for design; this comes in handy for understanding and streamlining the rest of the team’s operational processes.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Defines social media campaigns as they align to the overall digital marketing strategy
  • Sets team goals and deadlines
  • Establishes company’s online reputation by building brand and product awareness
  • Manages the social media team’s performance and functions
  • Works cross-functionally and liaises with other key stakeholders (ie: other departments, marketing teams or your marketing agency)
  • Potentially creates content (if you don’t have a designated Content Creator)
  • Potentially promotes content or ad campaigns (if you don’t have a Social Media Advertiser)

2) The Social Media Content Creator and Curator

You’ve heard us say this before: content is king. So this role is very important to your whole online reputation. Your Content Creator/Curator will manage your brand’s social media voice; the information your company publishes or shares should be valuable, timely and relevant to your audience.

Skills: Aside from a strong background in copywriting, this individual should definitely understand the basics of SEO. Command over the main social media platforms and content management systems (CMS), like WordPress or HubSpot, is also key to this individual’s daily performance. Strong research skills coupled with time management skills will also help this individual manage several social channels and effectively curate third-party content that your target audience will appreciate.

Main Responsibilities:

  • Creates original content and align to content calendar
  • Curates valuable third-party content
  • Stays up to date on the latest in industry news
  • Schedules, publishes and shares content on all social media channels
  • Collaborates with the Designer, Social Media Advertiser and Community Manager to ensure cohesive brand representation

3) The Social Media Advertiser

If you’re aiming to leverage paid ads in the social space, your team will need a specialist when it comes to an advertising strategy.

Skills: Your social advertiser should have a deep understanding of social media platforms and strong budget management abilities. Additionally, a solid command of Excel and statistical analysis is essential to evaluating campaign performance. Confidence in taking calculated risks is another valuable skillset for advertisers, since they will essentially set, monitor and adjust ads in order to maximize your ad spend. Also consider hiring someone with good content creation skills; an advertiser who can independently produce compelling messages for your target audience is an invaluable addition to any team.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Collaborates with the Content Creator and Designer to develop advertising assets for target customers
  • Defines and set target audiences for social ad campaigns
  • Manages the social advertising budget for campaigns
  • Oversees A/B testing parameters and scheduling of the ads

4) The Community Manager

This particular role is the one that directly interacts with your online audience. Whenever and wherever your brand is mentioned, your Community Manager should be there listening, discussing, commenting, thanking customers, answering questions – you get the idea.

Skills: Your Community Manager is essentially your brand ambassador and will have to learn everything about your brand and become familiar with the key, front-facing employees in your company. Copywriting skills should be strong; look for individuals who can produce copy that accurately reflects your brand’s personality, be it witty, funny, contemplative or strictly business-like and sober. Understanding the basics in social media tools and customer service are also key skills for this role.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Actively monitors social mentions and engages in conversations across social channels and web properties
  • Manages social listening tools (eg: HootSuite; BuzzSumo; Sprout Social)
  • Regularly builds brand visibility across social channels
  • Proactively builds relationship between the audience and the brand
  • Collaborates with and manages external brand advocates

Before we reconvene in a few days to discuss the next group of roles on a social media team, the key takeaway I want to leave you with today is this: building a team can be as complex as the strategy itself. After all, the amount of marketing technologies and innovations have more than quadrupled in the last decade; naturally, the anatomy of a marketing department has evolved as well.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

 

Foundations of Building a Marketing Tech Stack

Marketing Strategy

Summary: Building the right marketing tech stack for any company is no picnic. But it’s all about integrating the right technologies together so they’re working cooperatively instead of independently.

By now it’s no secret that marketing and technology go together like gin and tonic. (Or mustard and ketchup. PB and J…you get the idea). They’re a duo. Naturally paired together to enhance the overall experience. Nowadays, it’s damn near impossible for marketers to perform without the right tools and technologies in their arsenal. The marketing world is non-stop and there are literally thousands of tools and innovations that were designed to help you automate and simplify your marketing efforts.

One of the more jarring tasks of many businesses I’ve worked with is selecting from the vast pool of tools to use. This is where having a marketing technology stack becomes fundamental to your business’ marketing strategies.

But what is a marketing technology (aka ‘martech’) stack and why does your online business need one? Let’s discuss and break it down:

What is a Marketing Tech Stack? 

This is marketing jargon that you will definitely hear more of if you haven’t already. Essentially, a marketing technology stack is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a group of tech-based tools that marketers and businesses use to improve their marketing activities. But it’s more dynamic than merely using several tools individually for their own siloed purposes. Instead, marketing technologies are ‘stacked’ to create an integrated series of tools that allows you to build seamless customer relationships across several different channels.

Not only will the right martech stack iron out your processes, but it should focus on the impact of your marketing activities and drive more efficient marketing spend.

Why should I invest in a Marketing Technology Stack? 

Like I said earlier, the martech space is made up of thousands of online tools and technologies. The sheer amount of vendors offering the latest and greatest in marketing innovations is overwhelming. Just take a look at ChiefMartech’s latest edition of the marketing landscape for 2019, with over 7,000 solutions to choose from. (For some perspective, ChiefMartech reported only 150 solutions just 8 years ago!)

Martech Landscape 2019

Put simply, the martech space is colossal. And marketers are pressured to keep up with the growth. According to Korn Ferry, “27% of CMOs were concerned with staying ahead and taking advantage of digital technology trends.”With thousands of solutions to choose from, it’s vital for marketers and business owners to understand how the right tech stack will impact their businesses and which technologies will be fundamental to reaching their goals.

What Elements Make A Great Marketing Tech Stack? 

First of all – as with other areas of your marketing strategy – one size does not fit all when it comes to building the right martech stack for your company. Your chosen technologies will be impacted by factors like your budget and the type of business you have. One key factor to consider is your target market; for instance, B2C companies will likely require slightly different technologies than a B2B company since they each typically use different channels and techniques to acquire and engage with their customers.

So let’s take a look at the technologies I consider foundational to a tech stack, regardless of your target customer.

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): this is often a focus for you B2B-ers. CRMs track all customer relationships and marketing attribution for you and your sales force. Ultimately, CRMs are essential to gaining in-depth insights of how your marketing efforts impact your sales pipeline[Tools to explore: Salesforce; HubspotCRM; SugarCRM].
  • Content Management System (CMS): by now, for most of you, this is a basic element of your tech stack that you’re familiar with. A CMS is the technology that powers your website, blog, landing pages etc. These web properties are often where you want to engage your customers. [Tools to explore: WordPress; Hubspot; Joomla].
  • Advertising and SEOthis element is pretty vast, but search engine optimization and advertising is key to your customer acquisition strategies regardless of the type of business you run. Many marketers use a combination of software for keyword research, display ads, ad tracking, and attribution.  [Tools to explore: SEMrush, Google Ads; HasOffers].
  • Email: this is still a very cost effective way to support sales, build brand awareness and gain trust with your customer base. Email marketing capabilities might even be readily available in other platforms in your tech stack; like in your marketing automation or inbound marketing platform, for instance. [Tools to explore: MailChimp; Constant Contact; SendGrid].
  • Social Media: technologies for this space help monitor your social conversations, schedule posts or curate content. Specific networks like Facebook and LinkedIn also offer paid advertising opportunities that may be a valuable addition to your own tech stack. [Tools to explore: BuzzSumo; Hootsuite; SproutSocial].
  • Collaboration: these are some of my favorite tools to add to a tech stack. Collaboration software focus on working efficiently and transparently with your team. There are a number of project management tools to choose from, or even tools that focus more on the customer journey. [Tools to explore: Trello; Asana; Slack]. 
  • Analysis and Reporting: regardless of the technologies you choose to integrate with in your tech stack, you must always be able to access your data to measure your marketing efforts. For the most part, businesses will at least have basic website analytics tracking in place, which is a great way to start. But depending on your situation, you could explore building a full data warehouse to pull together data from various systems to make your reporting more accessible and rounded. [Tools to explore: Google Analytics; KissMetrics; HotJar].

Building the right marketing tech stack for any company is no picnic. It can be quite a gargantuan task. But it’s all about integrating the right technologies together so they’re working cooperatively instead of independently. Not only will you get a full, comprehensive view of your customer journey and marketing efforts, but you’ll uncover how to optimize your hard earned marketing dollars.

30 ways to generate more leads free ebook
WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.