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10 of the most successful company blogs and why they work 0

Posted on April 17, 2017 by Rob Petersen

successful company blogs

Successful company blogs have plenty of evidence to prove they generate results.

  • Blogs for B2B marketers have 67% increase in lead generation over  their peers that don’t. (Insideview)
  • Blogs are 63% more likely to influence purchase decisions than magazines. (Contentplus)
  • Websites with Blogs have 434% more indexed pages with search engines and 97% more inbound links to help SEO (U.addresstwo)

But blogging is hard work. It’s takes time, resources and requires a purpose.

If you need examples to prove it’s worth the effort, here are 10 of the most successful company blogs and why they work.

successful company blogs #1

1. BIGELOW TEA: Who knew Bigelow Tea can bring out the flavor of Roast Loin of Pork, make the perfect Cosmopolitan more perfect or be your companion to the Ultimate Fall Tea Party? That’s just some of the many uses you’ll discover for Bigelow Tea when you read the Bigelow Blog. When a commodity product conveys versatility beyond what you imagined, doesn’t that make you think about the brand in a different light?

successful company blogs - #2

2. CLEVELAND CLINIC: Many believe they are putting out the best healthcare content anywhere. In a regulated industry generally far behind the content marketing curve. The Cleveland Clinic blog, Health Essentials, helps people deal with chronic diseases, overcome depression, and the battle to live a healthier life. They publish as many as three blog a day and all of the content is written by physicians who practice there. No wonder a regional hospital has more than 2 million Facebook Likes.

successful company blogs #3

3. DOLLAR SHAVE CLUB: It’s hard to think of shaving – or anything bathroom-related –  as fun. But on Dollar Shave Club’s company blog, the brand creates content that displays a sense of humor while also providing practical information about men’s shaving and other bathroom habits. By taking on a fun and friendly tone in its blog posts, the business is able to successfully discuss bathroom habits openly in a way that maintains a lightheartedness and makes readers feel like a buddy, rather than just a customer.

successful company blogs #4

4. EVERNOTE: The era of post-it notes is coming to its end. With an increased focus on technology, apps are increasingly becoming the preferred method for taking notes for thousands of people. Note taking apps like Evernote help you simplify the complications in everyday life. For example, no one wants to forget an anniversary or birthday. With content that’s tailored to helping make you more productive at home and at the office, you’re sure to find something that fits your needs on Evernote’s blog. Like how you can spend less time in meetings and more time getting work done.

successful company blogs #5

5. GENERAL ELECTRIC: General Electric’s brand is old manufacturing, but all that is changing, The company is becoming digital. GE Reports provides great content on the next ideas and around the industrial internet of things and beyond. To rank among top blogs, brands need to focus on using their blogs to provide information, engage readers and establish trust. Successful company blogs will continue to be an integral part of a successful marketing strategy, so marketers must ensure they are incorporating these effective and successful strategies into their blogs into 2017.

successful company blogs #6

6. HUBSPOT: HubSpot is one of the leading companies within the marketing industry, so it would make sense that its successfblog follows suit. The brand’s content utilizes many best practices that keep readers constantly coming back for more. HubSpot’s company blog makes the topic and application of inbound marketing readily available and easily digestible for the brand’s customers and leads. It also serves as an excellent example of how a company can use its blog to effectively promote its products and services, without being overly pushy or assertive. Readers leave feeling as though they’ve learned something instead of being sold.

successful company blogs #7

7. MARRIOT: Marriot On the Move, Marriot’s company blog, signs off each blog post, “I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.” At least twice a month, the founder and CEO of the company put his voice behind his brand. He recognizes employees, explains company developments and defines leadership. If the chairman spoke to you regularly, wouldn’t it increase your positive perceptions of the company? That’s what successful company blogs do.

successful company blog #8

8. PATAGONIA: Mention the brand, Patagonia, and travel and adventure come to mind. But, in the highly competitive world of e-commerce, materials, stitching, color availability and shipping policy are what has to take priority to any potential buyer. How to accomplish both? Your blog. On The Cleanest Line, Patagonia’s Blog, you can read about paragliding in the Alaskan mountain ranges to the many species of animal that inhabit Ibera National Park in Argentina. All without leaving the website. Doesn’t that make a premium-priced brand a little bit more worth the money?

successful company blogs #10

9. WISTIA: Much like HubSpot, Wistia takes what it knows and effectively shares it with the world. The online video hosting and analytics company posts content that educates, informs and engages its readers on everything they’d want to learn about video marketing. What makes Wistia’s blog so successful. If customers have purchased the service, then offering expertise, tips and how-to’s on various video-related topics only keeps them coming back to learn how they can enhance what they are creating with Wistia. The blog follows the simple rules of ‘be kind, be friendly, be inclusive and professional, and take care of others.

successful company blogs #10

10. ZAPPOS: If you thought their blog was only going to talk about shoes, you’re sorely mistaken. Instead of Zappos’ blog being a place for promotions and company news, they transitioned it to an outlet for inspiration and everyday life. With everything from their culture and style to active lifestyles and kids, you’ll find something that takes you there in their company blog, Beyond the Box.

Does this help you understand what makes for successful company blogs. Does it inspire you to create one?

7 stories how best way to predict the future is to create it 0

Posted on April 10, 2017 by Rob Petersen

best way to predict the future is to create it

The best way to predict the future is to create it. – Peter Drucker

By creating your future, you are an active player in the events as they unfold. By knowing what you want, and what you are willing to do to get there, you can help to shape what the future holds.

If it helps to hear from practitioners, here are 7 stories on how the best way to predict the future is to create it.

  1. ACTIVELY LOOK FOR NEW TRENDS: After operating a small chain of convenience stores in southern California, Joe Coulombe had an idea: that upwardly mobile college grads might want something better than 7-11. So he opened a tropical-themed market in Pasadena, stocked it with good wine and beer, hired good people, and paid them well. He added more locations near universities, then healthy foods, and Trader Joe’s got started. As Peter Drucker says, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
  2. UNLOCK POTENTIAL THROUGH EMPOWERMENT: Ross Smith was a leader at Microsoft trying to keep his team of 80+ employees motivated and focused. So, he let them become “free-agents.” They could choose one of four teams to work for. The leaders of each team could not offer more money to the “free-agents” but could offer new development opportunities and different types of work. When the process was complete, 95% of the staff preferred the new process. As Peter Drucker mentions “most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done”.
  3. LOVE WHAT YOU DO: Phil Robertson so loved duck hunting that he chose that over playing pro football for the NFL. He invented a duck call, started a company called Duck Commander, eventually put his son Willy in charge, and spawned a media and merchandising empire for a family of rednecks known as Duck Dynasty.
  4. EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT, EXPERIMENT: According to Natalie Goldberg in her book, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing your Inner Writer, one of the key pillars of being a good writer is that you just get out there and write. Just write. Experiment. Write about what you had for lunch, write about your friend’s new silver plated bracelet, and write about how you think your parents met. This experimentation is crucial to the success of today’s managers and is particularly important in these times of change.
  5. FIND YOUR AUTHENTIC VOICE: Author Todd Henry in his book, Louder than Word, Harness the Power of your Authentic Voice, says: While it’s important to turn your thoughts inward and reflect on what’s important to you, that’s only the beginning of the process of developing your voice. It’s also essential to turn your attention outward to determine the type of impact you want your voice to have on those you serve. While you may never know exactly where your work will lead you, a guiding vision will help you make crucial decisions and invest yourself in ways that matter.
  6. DEAL WITH SETBACKS: Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, says: “When you reach an obstacle, turn it into an opportunity. You have the choice. You can overcome and be a winner, or you can allow it to overcome you and be a loser. The choice is yours and yours alone. Refuse to throw in the towel. Go the extra mile that failures refuse to travel. It is far better to be exhausted from success than to be rested from failure.”
  7. ACT. LEARN. BUILD. REPEAT: Based on the research of Saras D. Sarasvathy, of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. And similar work by others at Babson College, this approach is a time-tested process for dealing with the unknown. Put simply, in the face of an unknown future, act. Deal with uncertainty not by trying to analyze it, or planning for every contingency, or predicting what the outcomes will be. Instead, act, learn from what you find, and act again.

Do these stories help you to see how the best way to predict the future. Are you ready to take the first step in creating your future?

 

30 fascinating facts about Organic vs Paid Social 0

Posted on April 03, 2017 by Rob Petersen

Organic vs Paid Social

Organic vs Paid Social.

Social media is the most genuine form of marketing. Organic social media posts come from you and go directly to your page or your company’s page. Paid social media also come from you but give your post the ability to get in front of people who don’t already follow your social channels but share desired demographics, interests and values.

Is one more effective than the other? Do they work better together? What’s the right balance?

Here are 30 fascinating facts about Organic vs Paid Social.

  1. 100% of the Top 100 Global Brands have run YouTube ads in the past year. (Hootsuite)
  2. 86% of marketers now combine paid and organic tactics as part of their social media strategies. It’s rare for social media marketers not to use organic and paid social media together.(Clutch)
  3. 80% of enterprises say social media is the most important factor in digital marketing success. (Social Media Week)
  4. Over 70% of marketers plan to increase their use of video ads in 2017 (Hootsuite)
  5. 66% of marketers cite Facebook as their preferred social network. (Business.com)
  6. 61% of marketers report their biggest challenge is measuring ROI from social channels (Simply Measured)
  7. 64% of people use social media to find inspiration for shopping (Crowdtap)
  8. 59% of marketers believe Paid Social is more effective than Organic Social. (Clutch)
  9. Over 50% of B2B marketers rank social media as a “very” or “somewhat” low cost ad option. (Marketing Charts)
  10. 43% of both B2C and B2B companies say they use organic and paid social media equally. (Clutch)
  11. 36% of businesses use social media analytics for more than competitor analysis. (Sprout Social)
  12. 34% of small businesses use social media to engage and converse with customers. (Sprout Social)
  13. 34% of marketers cite You Tube as their preferred social network. (Business.com)
  14. 33% of marketers cite Twitter as their preferred social network. (Business.com)
  15. 31% of traffic to all websites comes from the Top 8 social networks (Shareaholic)
  16. 30% of marketers cite LinkedIn as their preferred social network. (Business.com)
  17. 27%of marketers said audience growth was the most important metric to track, followed by website clicks (19%), and engagement. (17%). (Clutch)
  18. 27% of B2B marketers identify social media as an “indispensable” tool for content distribution (Regalix)
  19. 25% lift in conversions for paid social media compared to organic social media (Converto and AOL Platforms)
  20. 24% of marketers cite Instagram as their preferred social network. (Business.com)
  21. 13% of larger companies only do organic social media. (Clutch)
  22. 10% of followers, on average, are reached by organic tweets (Bitly)
  23. 2% is organic reach of Facebook. (Cision)
  24. Social media advertising spending is expected to reach $37 billion in 2017
  25. 300 million people actively use voice and audio calling features on Facebook Messenger. (Forbes)
  26. Facebook is closing in on 2 billion active users. (Venture Beat)
  27. 1,500 and 15,000 pieces of content that Facebook could potentially show in your news feed each time you log on to the site. (Mari Smith)
  28. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, Facebook News Feed displays approximately 300. (Facebook)
  29. 338 is the average number of friends that users have on Facebook, a big big increase compared to 130 back in 2008. (Mari Smith)
  30. The number of YouTube channels earning 6 figure is up 50% year-over-year. (YouTube)

Do these facts help you understand Organic vs Paid Social? What the role is for each? Do you need help figuring out the right balance for your business?

7 surefire steps to measure and manage social media success 0

Posted on March 27, 2017 by Rob Petersen

social media success

Social media success is elusive for most companies. 88% of companies use social media for marketing according to eMarketer, but most can’t prove whether it’s working.

  • 43% have a good qualitative sense of the impact but haven’t seen the quantitative sense
  • 42% haven’t been able to show the impact
  • 15% have proven the impact quantitatively (Source: CMO Survey/Business2Community)

What is the way to social media success proof-positive?

Here are 7 surefire steps to measure and manage social media success.

1. START WITH A REAL BUSINESS GOAL

social media success - step 1

More Facebook Likes and Twitter Followers are reasonable expectations if you’re putting resources into social media and creating relevant content. But it’s not a business goal. Because Likes and Followers are commonly referred to as vanity metrics. Improving customer service or getting more qualified leads or increasing sales, these are real business goals. They are also reasonable expectations for social media success. For example, JetBlue uses Twitter to improve customer service. Which makes sense because when consumers are flying, they want quick responses. JetBlue has been ranked highest in customer satisfaction for low-cost air carriers by J.D. Powers for 12 years in a row. They also provide an average 10 minute response time to every tweet. JetBlue has proven social media plays an important role in their business goal of building customer loyalty.

2. IDENTIFY WHO YOU WANT TO ATTRACT

social media success - step 2

With so many social media platforms, it does not make sense to go into every platform in hopes of striking the right audience. Define your target audience, find where they like to interact and influencers who talk about your industry. A good practice is to compile keywords that captures your expertise. Search on social networks for the audience that is also using those keywords or talking about topics your company covers. Remember to keep on top of answering questions and responding to followers with thoughtful responses instead of generic answers.

3. KNOW HOW THEY FIND YOU

social media success - step 3

People like to do business with people they know and, on the internet, that often leads them from social networks to your website. Google Analytics measures Traffic Sources to tell you about visitors from social networks. For example, how many, what social networks they come from and how they compare to other visitors. Every social networks gives you the opportunity to drill down further. Facebook Insights gives a good amount of information on who is looking at and engaging with your page. Yon can see demographic information like the percentage of male and female fans you have and what city they live in. LinkedIn tells you who is reading your articles and viewing your profile. You should determine the social networks that provide the most value and measure regularly to see changes.

4. DETERMINE WHAT CREATES BUSINESS VALUE

social media success - step 4

How do you determine if your efforts in social media are generating business value? Avinash Khausik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, created some interactivity categories: Conversation, Amplification and Applause. Conversation is the number of audience replies or comments. From blog to Instagram, this rate can easily be obtained for virtually every post shared via social media. Amplification is the number of Re-Tweets or Shares per post. This rate is an important measurement because it quantifies the reach of your network. Applause measures your audience’s perception of post quality. While the number of Likes your post receives may not translate into new customers. The applause rate is still an important tool for taking your audience’s pulse. These categories are not mutually exclusive either. A business can do all three but probably does better in some than others.

5. DEFINE ACTIONS YOU WANT THEM TO TAKES

social media success - slide 5

What gets your audience to the desired goal? Do they first subscribe to a newsletter? Register for an event. Request a demo? Take advantage of a trial offer? Or are they ready to buy? Or not? And when? There is likely to be some sequence of events, it’s best to define a number of actions so you can get a better understanding of the customer journey and navigate desired behaviors. It’s is worthwhile for every company to their customer journey.

6. CREATE AN ACTIONABLE SCORECARD

social media success - step 6

 

A framework for social media success is now in place because you’ve established: What is the business goal; who to attract; how they find you; how social media creates business value and what actions you want them to take. It’s time to pick the metrics that matter. They are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). They are your actionable scorecard for social media success. They are likely to come from a variety of source. For example, if your business goal is to improve customer service, one metric from your customer service team could be number of customer complaints which should decrease as a result of social media efforts. Some metrics might come from your website such as visits from social networks and conversions of desired acti0ns. Of course, some will come from social networks and the progress is building an audience and creating business value.

7. LISTEN TO YOUR DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM

social media success - slide 7

A key component to understand and improve upon social media success is to listen to your digital ecosystem. An ecosystem is a community of interacting living organisms with their environment. This is what you’ve created with your social media efforts. So you need to listen to your audience’s needs. One way is a Sentiment Analysis to understand how your audience feels about your brand and the topics you cover. Another is reviews. Others are to test with different massages and efforts like A/B Testing. Of course, there is no substitute to check your social networks pages regularly for updates in real time and ideas.

Do these steps help you to measure and manage social media success? Does your company need help getting there?

 

8 surprisingly simple steps to calculate ROI 0

Posted on March 20, 2017 by Rob Petersen

roi

ROI (Return on Investment) is the basis from which informed investment decisions are made.

The ROI formula only requires two numbers; the cost of your venture and the return made from that venture. But there are inputs that go into each. For many, this is where the simple gets complicated. But it doesn’t have to be?

Here are 8 surprisingly simple steps to calculate ROI.

STEP #1: START WITH A BASELINE

roi baseline

Return from a new venture has to first take into account what occurred before. So you have to establish a baseline. In our experience, there are only three baseline scenarios. In Scenario #1,  the venture is just beginning so there is no baseline. There is a clean slate. In Scenario #2, the new venture is trying to change just one area of a company’s operations (e.g. digital, call center, human resources). The baseline in this case is the return in this area from prior period. In scenario #3, the venture involves a change or transformation in the company that likely to impact a number of areas. For example, a business generates revenue through a sales force, call center and website. They are investing in digital operations by upgrading the website, building a mobile app and improving the online selling infrastructure so they can spend less in other areas. In this instance, the baseline is the amount the website generates currently based on a total percent of the company’s operations.

STEP #2: DECIDE IF RETURN IS REVENUE OR PROFITS

roi profit or revenue

Be clear at the outset how you will measure the return in dollars. Is it revenue (sales) or profits? The latter in many cases is the most desirable measure. But it is harder to understand and control. For example, a company produces a food product. Profits requires a knowledge of the cost of goods, shipping and retail allowances. These are often hard to know now and harder to predict in the future. Because revenue has more factor within a company’s control, it is generally easier to forecast. While some insist profits is the way to go, in our experience, revenue is also is a good indication of success and basis for decision making.

STEP #3: DETERMINE THE TIME FRAME

ROI time frame

Before you can determine the return, you have to know how long it is going to take. In most cases, the time frame for ROI is between one and two years. This is due to: 1) Functional activities like the time it takes to create and build new assets (e.g. website, data center and buying infrastructure) and 2) customer uptake for awareness, consideration, trial and repeat purchases. To help understand customer uptake, it helps to know the buying frequency and Annual Customer Value (ACV).

STEP #4: DECIDE INPUTS FOR THE RETURN

roi return

The return is a prediction or forecast of what will occur by the end of the time frame. Use real company data, not norms or averages, unless you want normative or average results. Basics that are usually included in returns are how many new vs repeat customers are expected? What is their Annual Customer Value? If there is a digital component, what are visits and conversions rates to the website? If a company transformation is expected, operating costs in other areas that will decline as new capability are built can be a factor. There can be a few to many input. Confidence in the data means reliability in the return.

STEP #5: IDENTIFY THE INVESTMENTS

roi investments

In some cases, this is self-evident. But not always. Let’s say a major investment in infrastructure is occurring that will take a couple of years but the ROI time frame is one year. The investment is based on cash flow and what is spent in that year.

STEP #6: CALCULATE THE ROI

roi calculation

The ROI formula is: Return – Investment/Investment X 100%. The ROI is expressed as a percent. That’s it. Here is the formula and a sample calculation.

STEP #7: GUIDE WITH KPIs

roi & kpis

An ROI is a forecast of a result to occur in the future, a scorecard of key metrics is developed to keep ROI on track. These are Key Performance Indicators or KPIs.  A Key Performance Indicator is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use KPIs at multiple levels to evaluate their success at reaching targets. To keep the ROI on track, KPIs are an actionable scorecard. Variables that figure into the return like returning customers, new customers, annual customer value and conversion rate might also be KPIs. Here is what a KPI scorecard looks like for a new digital marketing venture.

STEP #8: ALIGN WITH DESIRED GOALS

roi & goals

ROI is key to evaluating how realistic is the business objective and financial goals for a company. In the ROI calculation above of 238%, the company is expecting a return of $2.38 for every dollar invested. The company has to decide how if realistic this is. It is if the company has the commitment and deliver on their plan and measure success. It probably isn’t if they don’t. But now they have a basis for evaluation. Otherwise, the company is just guessing.

Do these steps to calculate ROI sound simple and sensible to you? Do you need help figuring out ROI at your company?

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    BarnRaisers builds brands with proven relationship principles and ROI. We are a full service digital marketing agency. Our expertise is strategy, search and data-driven results.



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