Email Marketing: The Lessons I've Learned

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Email Marketing: The Lessons I've Learned

This post was written by Kate Jacoutot, Marketing Consultant for AgencySparks.

Marketers like me are lucky enough to exist on both sides of the advertising equation. I can view email marketing through the lens of a marketer in addition to the lens of a consumer. As a professional who appreciates good marketing, the promotions tab of my email inbox is carefully curated:

 

My Favorite B2C eCommerce Email Marketing?

Ulta has a great email marketing strategy. They offer random perks each day so I’m always opening to see if today's perk happens to be something I need to restock. Plus, they use a loyalty points system!

Ulta has a great email marketing strategy. They offer random perks each day so I’m always opening to see if today's perk happens to be something I need to restock. Plus, they use a loyalty points system!

Ulta has a great email marketing strategy. They offer random perks each day so I’m always opening to see if today's perk happens to be something I need to restock. Plus, they use a loyalty points system!


My Favorite Email Content Marketing?
 

Apartment Therapy sends me blogs with content and affiliate advertising related to interior design - they include design tips, curated lists, and more.

Apartment Therapy sends me blogs with content and affiliate advertising related to interior design - they include design tips, curated lists, and more.

Apartment Therapy sends me blogs with content and affiliate advertising related to interior design - they include design tips, curated lists, and more.

 

My Favorite B2B Email Marketing?

Creative Market is my favorite B2B email marketing because every Monday, they send me six creative goods for free... and that's in addition to helpful content marketing!

Creative Market is by far my favorite because I receive six creative goods from them every Monday. They pick what I get, and I choose whether or not I like them. 

Creative Market is by far my favorite because I receive six creative goods from them every Monday. They pick what I get, and I choose whether or not I like them. 

 

What do all of these emails have in common (other than being girly)? They provide value to me - the subscriber. I try to approach email campaigns and email newsletters the same way I approach content marketing.

Like content marketing, email marketing should provide value to a targeted audience and have a goal of strengthening your brand’s positioning. The purpose of email marketing, like content marketing, can be to educate, to entertain, or to provide a resource. Like content marketing, email marketing should aim to build trust, loyalty, and connection between the brand and its customers.

It’s easy to get caught up in what email marketing can do for you, your business, and your business’ goals. As marketers, we’ve all fallen into this trap - and I’m certainly no exception. Standing out next to the hundreds of other emails in a consumer’s inbox is tough. In order to become the email people subscribe to and anticipate, you need a solid understanding of who your subscribers are and what they want.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my experience with various email service providers (ESPs), it’s this: Any email platform can get the job done (at least at a basic level).... At the end of the day, your choice of email platform won’t have that much of an impact on your return-on-investment (ROI) unless you approach your email marketing strategy with the right mindset. 

 

Don’t just do email for the sake of doing email.

Just like those brands that get on social media for the sake of being present, I’ve had marketers say, “I want to do email.” For what reason? What are you looking to get out of your email marketing? What would a successful email strategy look like to you? Email for the sake of email is bound to disappoint.

 

Start at the end.

Rather than getting caught up in the tactical approach of marketer’s email marketing strategy, clearly define the end goal first and work your way backwards. It's a much more effective and efficient framework. 

 

Slow and steady is almost always better than fast and spammy.

It’s tempting to buy a list “just to get started.” A slow and steady approach will yield better results with more accurate and actionable data derived from more qualified potential customers.  When I receive an email from some company that I’ve never heard of/opted into, I cannot hit the spam button fast enough.

 

Build up a picture of your subscriber over time.

Research has shown time and time again that limiting the number of fields in an online form can greatly impact the conversion rate. In other words, the likelihood that the user actually fills out the form depends on the simplicity of the form. While having fewer fields means less information to segment on, subscriber activity often offers a more comprehensive picture than any form could provide. 

 

Get creative with segmentation.

Instead of trying to grab all of the information you want for segmentation upfront, consider creative ways to gather that information over time. Experiment with your prospect engagement by tweaking the subject line and/or content within each segment. Read this article for some ideas.

 

Leverage automations to segmented lists to maximize engagement.

On average, targeted email automations are twice as effective at boosting conversion rates than a generic, non-targeted campaign. With the right trigger emails, email automation software can turn a once “transactional, email-only” relationship into a lead nurturing tool - meeting each subscriber where they are at every stage of the buyer journey. If your ESP offers an automation tool that you’re struggling to leverage, check out these articles for some intelligent automation inspiration:

 

Take care of your email list.

Regular list maintenance is essential to your email strategy. Not only does a bad list skew the data that’s critical to planning the future of your email strategy, but disengaged contacts/out-of-date contacts/messy lists/disorganized tagging can affect your efficiency, your campaign data (which is crucial in mapping the future of your email strategy), and even your deliverability. Setting up automations that trigger when a subscriber hasn’t opened an email in a pre-defined time range is crucial.

 

At the end of the day, email marketing is about providing value to your subscribers. You can’t expect to get opens unless your subscribers take a look at the preview pane and want to look inside. You can’t expect to get clicks unless whatever is inside piques their interest. Most importantly, you can’t expect to keep your subscribers if your email marketing is all about you. 

Out of any marketing channel, email delivers the best ROI at 73%. It allows you to offer personalized, relevant messages in a way that is inexpensive, simple, and quick. Strengthen the relationship and communication with your subscribers by boosting open rates, encouraging forwards and shares, as well as increasing click-through-rate. See the infographic below for tips related to subject lines, delivery times, CTAs, and more!

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Marketers Toolbox - ConvertFlow

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Marketers Toolbox - ConvertFlow

What is ConvertFlow?

ConvertFlow is a lead generation and on-site retargeting tool.

Why is this tool helpful?

ConvertFlow personalizes the site experience to engage the target audience and increase interaction. The tool evaluates the sites customers previously visited, forms interacted with, and data collected to provide insightful lead profiles. It is a powerful tool that helps capture and convert leads.

How is it used?

The Lead Generation portion offers call-to-action (CTA) buttons that promote engagement and interaction with site visitors. Users can measure the effectiveness of their CTA buttons to improve their approach. Each button clicked collects information about the user, their site behavior, and preferences. This data then properly segments the people who visit the site and personalizes the content seen. The profiles made makes lead email creation a breeze.

The On-site Retargeting pushes marketing beyond ads and email, into automation. ConvertFlow helps the user during the retargeting process by engaging and educating the site visitor, guiding returning leads and turning them into customers, and promoting relevant products for purchase. Content seen by the visitor is specific and personalized.  

Who would benefit from using ConvertFlow?

The tool is best used by marketing agencies, but it’s abilities are applicable to any business. Without coding, ConvertFlow allows the user to redesign their client’s websites, generate leads, and prove Return of Investment (ROI). Contact syncing, performance analytics, collaboration features, and audience targeting allows the user to provide their clients with informative data and quality service.

Price?

The pricing offered depends on the package the user subscribes to and whether or not they choose to pay monthly or annually. ConvertFlow offers a free, lite, pro, and business version of their services.

The many different price offerings for ConvertFlow. 

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The Marketing Budget - Where Marketers Go Wrong & How to Get it Right

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The Marketing Budget - Where Marketers Go Wrong & How to Get it Right


Download our free marketing budgeting template!


This year has surely been jam-packed with a number of memorable events. To much dismay (or perhaps relief), 2017 is finally coming to a close and brand new marketing budgets are on the horizon.

Creating a marketing budget is not always a simple task. Many marketers pigeon hole themselves by narrowly focusing on the previous year’s plan and ignoring potential new sales goals and opportunities. It is also particularly difficult to map out a budget plan when brand awareness and impressions are not concrete numbers. In fact, according to MDG Advertising, 32% of companies believe their data is inaccurate. Planning a budget around incorrect numbers leads to wasted marketing efforts and expenses.  

One mistake in budgeting can throw off an entire marketing strategy. With all the possible risks that come with creating the perfect budget, make sure to efficiently strategize to avoid unnecessary spending and costs.

From the last AgencySparks post about budgeting, here are some typical marketing budget line items to consider:

  • Brand development
  • Website development
  • Content creation
  • Email programs/E-newsletters
  • Graphic design, collateral development, and production
  • Market research
  • Marketing software
  • Metrics/data analysis
  • Mobile marketing
  • Digital media (SEO/SEM/PPC)
  • Traditional media (TV, radio, billboard, etc.)
  • Printing
  • Direct mail
  • Public relations
  • Social media marketing
  • Events
  • Sponsorships

Common Mistakes Marketers Make When Putting a Budget Together

Budgeting takes immense planning and organization. 

Poor Organization

PROBLEM: Without proper budget planning, overspending and loss of revenue occurs.

SOLUTION: Align the marketing goals with the company’s vision then prioritize the expenses needed to achieve the target goals. Outlining different budget templates may help with organizing and prioritizing and avoiding hidden costs. Here are examples of some helpful budgeting templates.  

Bad Data

PROBLEM: Budget planning is part data-analysis and part fortune-telling. Flawed analytics and gaps in customer databases leads to unreliable data. In order to properly prepare for the future, it is necessary to have a firm grasp on current financial and data standings within the business.

SOLUTION: Benchmark performance of every process before and after launching a marketing campaign to evaluate platforms and their overall effectiveness. Clicks or impressions usually result from money spent on paid media. Set aside more of the budget for campaigns with larger audiences. Target these audiences based on constant analysis of their interests and keywords.

Miscommunication between Departments

PROBLEM: In order to see the best results, the never ending feud between sales and marketing people needs to come to a close. MDG Advertising states that 50% of sales people find marketing efforts unsatisfactory and 55% believe marketers do not use measurements to influence their actions.

SOLUTION: To relieve this tension, marketers must communicate their efforts in terms of money invested and profited. An open communication about the Return of Investment (ROI) is essential when understanding one another’s value. If each group aligns their actions to the overall company goals, they will create a clear execution strategy. Being purposeful with objectives and tactics saves time, money, and efforts.  

Sticking to the Norm

PROBLEM: Becoming comfortable with how things operate is poison to a company’s growth. Tools, consumer preferences, and competitors are constantly innovating. In just over the span of 10 years, digital has increased from 8% in 2007 to 38% present day in advertising (MDG Advertising). Often companies sit in complacency with a channel (email for example) that does the job just fine, while products like virtual reality and augmented reality are gaining in relevance.

SOLUTION: Allocate money to invest in technologies that may benefit the company in the long run. Do not ignore possibilities or underestimate the speed of change - constantly test campaigns with consumers and be open to different approaches. Consumer behavior will guide the way to what is next. Reassessing services and programs helps determine ROI in real-time. Consistently evaluate and monitor strategies and channel use to be certain everything is fully utilized. MDG’s research showed that strategy is incredibly important since strategy issues prevent 49% of marketers’ success.

Budgeting does not have to be complicated. Proper planning, vigilant evaluation, clear communication, and an open mindedness are bound to ensure a stress-free budgeting process and year.


Need a comprehensive marketing budgeting template?

Download ours for free!


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Marketers Toolbox - SEMrush V.S MOZ

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Marketers Toolbox - SEMrush V.S MOZ

Who?

Competitive and search engine analysis tools MOZ and SEMrush.

Pricing?

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The payment starts at $79 annually and $99 from month to month. The first offer provides a more in depth analysis and features than that of SEMrush. Moz lacks in full reporting and keyword lists.

The Standard plan offers two user seats, five campaigns (with constant SEO monitoring), 300 keyword rankings, and 250,000 crawled pages per month. There is no ad hoc keyword search for this plan.

The $119-per-month (annual bill) Medium plan is recommended for small to midsize businesses.  Users receive 10 seats, 5,000 full keyword reports and 30 keyword lists per month, branded reports and doubled numbers of campaigns, keyword rankings, and crawled pages. 

The Large plan is $199-per-month (annual bill) and scales up a business’s digital presence with higher SEO research volumes. This plan includes 25 campaigns and seats, 1,900 keyword rankings, 1.25 million crawled pages, 15,000 keyword reports, and 60 keyword lists per month. 

The Premium selection is for enterprise organizations and is $479-per-month (annual bill). 100 campaigns, 7,500 keyword rankings, and 30,000 monthly keyword reports are run with an unlimited number of seats with the Premium feature.

 

Starts off at $69.95 per month offering keyword research tools, ongoing monitoring of search, and crawling.

$99.95 per month for the Pro feature which offers domain and keyword analysis of 10,000 results per report, and about 3,000 reports or searches daily. Five projects are offered here.

The Guru plan is $199.95 per month for 30,000 results per domain or keyword reports and 5,000 searches daily. Other features included in this package are 50 projects for SEO research, 20 PDF reports, historical data access, 100 social media pages, crawled pages, and tracked keywords. 

The Business plan offers unlimited projects, API access, whitepages, product listing ads, and management for multi-users.

There are custom offers for special marketing needs, but all these offers come with yearly plans as well.  

Pricing options for SEMrush.
Moz pricing options.

User Friendly?

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The dashboard is user friendly. Out of all the SEO tools, SEMrush is the most capable of social listening. 

 

 

 

Moz offers monitoring, tracking, and social media integration. However, the tool is not as user friendly or easy to navigate as SEMrush - it provides multiple functionalities that result in an overwhelming experience for the user. 

 

Features?

 
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The analytics reports include organic, advertising, and keyword research, display advertising, backlinks, and product listing ads. SEMrush assesses the difficulty of keywords and compares the user's keywords to their competitors'. It also provides charts for comparison. There are multiple project offers for position and social media tracking, site auditing, content analysis, brand monitoring, and SEO ideas. 

 

 

 

 

The optimization feature makes recommendations for the user’s website with corrections for instant improvements and results. The Open Site Explorer, Moz’s web crawl, and the Moz Pro help evaluate the competition. Analyzing the competition's mistakes helps the user avoid oversights, adjust strategies, and attain effective results. Moz also helps the user constantly track success and pitfalls. User content is improved by Moz’s keyword feature. By constantly ranking the competitors' as well as the user’s pages, Moz provides a detailed list to help prioritize keyword optimization.

 

SEMrush-Logo.png

The winner from this brief analysis is SEMrush!

Every company is different. Every tool is different. Each tool presents different strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately gets the job done. Since no tool is perfect, remember to think about what the goals of the company are, what features are imperative to the company’s success, and why the tool is needed in the first place. PCMag’s review of each tool (SEMrush and Moz) does a phenomenal job outlining the strengths, weaknesses, and features of each tool. After a strong evaluation of personal goals,assess each tool to determine which tool best fits with the staff and company.

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SPARKsouth Recap 2017

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SPARKsouth Recap 2017

The annual SPARKsouth conference aims to benefit young marketing professionals and students in the southeast. An entire day is dedicated to providing attendees with insights about their career development with the help of expert panelists, mentor pairings, keynote speakers, networking opportunities, interviewing skills, and marketing career planning.

At the SPARKsouth marketing conference for young professionals, digital marketing students all around the state of Georgia took advantage of the immense networking opportunities and marketing tips/advice. 

Since marketing is a diverse industry, the conference offered four separate tracks - agency, brand, entrepreneurship, and career development. Depending on the student’s interests, they could jump from track to track in order to fully gain an understanding of how to break into a specific industry, find a niche, rise through the ranks, and gain insider tips.

Following the success of last year’s SPARKsouth, feedback from speakers and attendees was overwhelmingly positive.

Related: SPARKsouth: Embrace a New Mindset

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Social media, digital, and branding expert, Toby Bloomberg wrote a blog about her experience as a mentor during the conference. She shared her personal experience and comforted the students worried about their future with valuable advice. 

Marshall Chiles, Founder and CEO of Humor Wins and the Laughing Skull Lounge

Marshall Chiles, Founder and CEO of Humor Wins and the Laughing Skull Lounge

In addition to the content tracks, three acutely unique and experienced keynote presentations punctuated the day:

  • Sarah Lively, Director of Social Media Marketing at Nebo Agency, began the day by sharing her experience and encouraging the crowd to pursue passions and push past personal doubts.
  • Brad Meriwether, Director of Consumer Marketing for the Atlanta Braves, emphasized the importance of digital as an aspect of traditional marketing within the Atlanta Braves marketing efforts. He went on to describe the vast opportunities, growth potential, and skills gained from the Atlanta Braves internship program.  
  • Marshall Chiles, Founder and CEO of Humor Wins and the Laughing Skull Lounge, spoke about the usefulness and impactfulness of humor and ways to leverage it “safely” in the business world. Here is a link to Marshall’s eBook entitled: Your Presentation Is A Joke.

Related: Can Anyone be a Marketer?

A collection of common themes and takeaways from each session:

  1. No one takes the same path. Many marketing veterans started in one career or position and, based on hard work and setting goals for themselves, achieved their dream job. Adrian Sasine from BrandingHawk encouraged attendees to constantly gain experience and keep moving. He and Tom Lynch emphasized the importance of knowing one’s true self and strengths in order to find the right career.

  2. Empathy is important in marketing. When either networking or working with a client, it is important to listen and respond accordingly. Josh Perlstein from Response Media said “empathy” is his favorite word - it is the only way to deliver what the consumer wants.

  3. Do research and have opinions. Richard Makerson of BlueFletch emphasized resourcefulness and thorough research is always valuable. One solution is never enough - always present a client with multiple avenues to achieve a goal. Also, when posting on social or in an interview, have strong and valid opinions about industry events and news.

  4. Don’t be afraid to fail. This is the only way people learn and improve. Jason Rockman from Definition 6 said to jump in and start swimming because everyone is drowning in agency life. Many speakers encouraged attendees to run with a task instead of playing it safe and asking for approval. Mara Maddox of Leadercast reassured the audience that as “you grow and as you develop yourself, you'll find the perfect job.”

Greg Mize (Atlanta Braves), Katharine Mobley (First Advantage), and Mara Maddox (Leadercast) lead a panel about making it to the top in the brand world. 

Greg Mize (Atlanta Braves), Katharine Mobley (First Advantage), and Mara Maddox (Leadercast) lead a panel about making it to the top in the brand world. 

Sponsors for the event included Nebo Agency, ChooseATL (part of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce), AgencySparks, Simpli.fi, the Atlanta Braves, and Hypepotamus.

Brand focused panelists included speakers from Leadercast, Atlanta Hawks, SweetWater Brewing Company, Turner Classic Movies and FilmStruck, Char-Broil, and Red Bull. Agency speakers came from all over Atlanta, including some agency partners BlueFletchDefinition 6 , PM3, Stripe Reputation, and Response Media. Entrepreneurs ranging in age and backgrounds shared their experiences in the field and how to make the first step into entrepreneurship.

Plans are already in the works for the 2018 edition of SPARKsouth. To make it even more spectacular, reach out to become a sponsor, speaker, mentor, or attendee at http://SPARKsouth.com/contact

To see more photos from the event, visit: http://www.sparksouth.com/photos.

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The Objective behind Marketing Objectives

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The Objective behind Marketing Objectives

Before an actor begins rehearsing a play, they outline their script with objectives to be sure every line has intent and a purpose.

Marketers may not be actors on a stage, but take note. Whether formulating a campaign or writing a blog, it is easy to get caught up in the details or potential possibilities and forget the overall purpose.

Objectives are sub-goals that contribute to the overall goal the marketer wants to achieve. Every action taken in a marketer’s job should have an objective.

It is important to keep objectives “SMART” - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. These guidelines ensure everything is clearly defined and achieved.

The "SMART" principle - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely - help track, monitor, and guide objectives and marketer's goal-setting process. 

 

What are other ways to easily stay on track? Objectives should always follow these principles:

Resonate with the audience

Goals of companies generally revolve around reaching and serving their audience. Market to those who are invested in the service or product by catering directly to them. Instead of casting a wide net, target those who will listen and specifically benefit from the company’s services. A pleased customer will alert new customers by word of mouth.

Building enough awareness and trust among consumers creates a following. They don’t want to be bombarded or interrupted. Even if the goal is to expose as many people as possible to a marketing message, make sure the execution and objective keep the customer’s preferences in mind.

Practice patience

When there is a proliferation of content and competition in the market, it is tempting to have a sense of urgency or emergency. Content that is ill prepared is obvious because it becomes sloppy noise that the audience will learn to tune out.

Take the necessary time to formulate insights, objectives, strategies, and tactics. Respect the consumer’s time and they will respect the work. Quality is always preferred over quantity.

Use social media wisely

Do not post for the sake of posting. The audience matters and content put in front of them must contain immense value. If it is too complicated to handle multiple platforms at once, focus on excelling at the one that markets to the right demographic and will draw the largest crowd. Each post should contain an objective - gaining followers, increasing impressions, drawing consumers to the company website, tracking engagement - which ultimately achieves a larger goal.

When multiple goals need to be completed, it is easy to venture off topic and lose track of the task at hand. Know the reason behind each objective by clearly mapping out strategies and tactics.

Objectives do not come from thin air. They support the main goal of the brand. Understand the culture of the brand - voice, story, purpose - and set specific rules for the objective that guide the telling of the brand’s message.

The objective of this post is to remind marketers to always keep purpose and an objective in mind.

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Marketers Toolbox - SEMRush

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Marketers Toolbox - SEMRush

What is SEMRush?

SEMRush is a competitive analysis and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)/insight tool.

Why is this tool helpful?

This tool helps a company gain an advantage over their competition by providing in depth analytics, backlink tracking, search breakdowns, SEO suggestions, and a keyword research tool with recommendations. These features help provide insights to the user that will influence future actions.

How is it used?

The analytics reports include organic, advertising, and keyword research, display advertising, backlinks, and product listing ads. Tools offered assess the difficulty of keywords and compare the user's keywords to their competitors as well as provide charts for comparison and assessment of success. There are multiple project offers for position and social media tracking, site auditing, content analysis, brand monitoring, and SEO ideas. 

Who would benefit from using SEMRush?

Small to mid-size businesses who want to gain an advantage by optimizing SEO and keyword search.

Price

Prices and features vary depending on the package purchased. A paid account will offer the most service to the user, however, registered users still receive free limited organic, advertising, and backlinks reports.

SEMRush prices that offer different applications depending on the marketing campaign and competitive analysis. PRO, Guru, or business are the selections to choose from. 

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SPARKSouth: Embrace a New Mindset

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SPARKSouth: Embrace a New Mindset

A lot of people don’t tell you about the “real world.” A lot of you think you know about the “real world.” But, honestly, you have no idea what to expect or what the “real world” is until you are there. Even now, though I am graduated with a full time job, there is still so much I have yet to experience.

Despite your best efforts, you truly are in a bubble during college and, when you leave, it is a bit of a shock and a transition to adjust.That fear of not knowing what you’re doing does not necessarily go away. I struggled my senior year of college constantly thinking everyone else knew what they were doing and I did not. How is it that everyone seemed to have their lives together and know the exact steps to take? Why did I feel so uncertain?

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Last year I had the opportunity to attend SPARKSouth, where I had the chance to speak with long-term professionals in my field. There I received the best advice I could ask for at that moment in my life: no one knows what they are doing, especially in the beginning.

My feeling of unsteadiness will likely remain for a long time. Even if you are excelling in a career you love, human nature dictates that we tend to compare and think that what we are doing is not enough.   

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Here’s the thing: as long as you are actively pursuing and working towards a goal and bettering yourself, it is enough.

As a busy and poor college student, I begrudgingly signed up for SPARKSouth which was a requirement to graduate with a digital marketing emphasis. Little did I know that it would be the most beneficial resource my university had to give me.

Within one day, I sought out advice, formed meaningful connections, and learned about my future. This opportunity better prepared me for my future than four years of classes, and I know several other students shared this sentiment.

SPARKSouth was the very event that settled my post-college concerns and, eventually, helped me land my current job - one that is currently testing me as a marketer and pushing me to be better every day.

Key takeaways from my experience at SPARKSouth:

No one takes the same path...

This was a direct quote from one of the panelists in a session I attended. As simple as it sounds, it resonated with me the hardest. There is no point comparing yourself to other people because no one has your personal experiences. Focusing on yourself and overcoming your struggles is important in every aspect of life.

You can’t be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, you have to form your own path of success. Even if that path comes with some failures. To paraphrase an old saying: "Without experience we make bad choices, but we need to make bad choices to gain experience." I constantly catch myself comparing myself to others on social media, in my career, or even in comedy (a long-time hobby). Mike Birbiglia, a famous stand-up comic, brilliantly stated that you cannot take the same path of success or road as another comic. Once they have done the “different” thing to get discovered, it is no longer different and you cannot copy it.

One panelist emphasized that if it takes multiple internships to figure out what exactly it is you want, then do it. Before you are committed to something, figure out exactly what you want to invest your time in. Of course, not everyone stays in the same career path. I have found that often people have changes of heart - whether in college, post-college, or way into their 50s. Do what you’re good at and what makes you happy.

If you know for certain marketing is your passion, then awesome! Check out this Marketer’s Career Path blog to get a jump on the steps necessary to succeed.

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Network and put yourself out there!

Network, network, network! You never know who you could meet or where a relationship could go. Talk to your peers at the event and in your classes - they may help you down the line. Also take advantage of the speakers who are experienced in marketing and can be helpful resources. Exchange cards and email them with a follow-up thank you and questions. I did this and actually gained several connections from it! They frequently want to help you, but you have to make the first move!

When you talk to potential contacts, have a solid idea of who you are and what you’re thinking of pursuing. In any career opportunity setting, it is important to stand out by having a strong personal brand.

Be sure to utilize the networking opportunities in your school or community. My alma mater constantly brings speakers in, offers assistance at their Career Center, has business fraternities that are great for meeting people in the same field, and hosts networking events. Just keep an eye out for them! Atlanta particularly has a rich ecosystem of organizations that hold events including Switchyards, AMA Atlanta, and AIMA. They provide opportunities for new graduates and young business leaders to connect as well. Always focus on forming relationships, but remember that they must be nurtured.

Ask Questions

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that no question is stupid! Experienced marketing professionals have lived and experienced a little more than you, so just ask what is on your mind! You’ll never know unless you ask, and you most certainly do not want to kick yourself later that you missed an opportunity to express yourself and get feedback. The speakers willingly volunteered to provide you with an informative session. Ask away!

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As this year’s SPARKSouth approaches, I encourage you to keep an open mind. You may be sitting in the same room with your future employer or coworkers or you may even be inspired to start your own company. Sign up here to start your career adventure!

This blog was written from the perspective of our newest team member, Madeline Evans

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Marketers Toolbox: MOZ

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Marketers Toolbox: MOZ

What is MOZ?

Moz is a competitive analysis tool that increases web traffic and followers with the help of a SEO keyword generator, link analysis feature, and keyword research tools.

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Why is this tool helpful?

MOZ offers weekly website crawls, on-page optimization, competitive analysis, continual improvement and a keyword difficulty tool. These analytical features ensure everything on the website is used to it’s full potential.

How is it used?

The optimization feature makes recommendations for the user’s website with corrections for  instant improvements and results. The Open Site Explorer, Moz’s web crawl, and the Moz Pro help evaluate the competition. Analyzing where the competition went wrong helps the user adjust strategies for more effective results. Moz also helps the user constantly track success and pitfalls. User content is improved by Moz’s Keywrod feature. By constantly ranking the competitor’s as well as the user’s pages, Moz provides a detailed list to help prioritize keyword optimization.

Who would benefit from using MOZ?

Any business who wants to gain an advantage in their industry. SEO and keyword research improvement have a high impact on results and there is a pricing plan for every sized business.

Price

Flexible pricing is offered depending on the size of the business and the features needed. 

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How to Innovate, Map, and Execute Marketing Ideas

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How to Innovate, Map, and Execute Marketing Ideas

A marketer’s job is to create stories that tie back to the company’s overall mission. Ideas must be constant and ready to go at moment’s notice. Not all ideas are great, however. Truly effective ideas take time and effort. 

Brainstorm ideas in group sessions and by observing the world around in order to market an idea that aligns with your company's values and reaches the target audience. 

Think about entertainment. From newspapers, to radio, to TV, to VHS tapes, to DVDs, to streaming - formats have progressed over the years. The failure of Blockbuster, in fact, sparked the growth of the successful streaming service, Netflix. 

Instead of instantly settling for the first idea, innovators adapt and challenge current ideas to create more productive and efficient products. The creators of Netflix, for example, saw the trend emerging that DVDs via mail would soon give way to streaming as broadband became more prolific. They took advantage of the situation to grow a small idea into a booming company. 

Growing and implementing ideas is challenging. 

But once the initial thought is born marketers should innovate, map, and execute the idea.

Innovate

Look around at the current market’s needs and assess whether or not there needs to be a change. If so, brainstorm for inspiration. Never execute the first thought but always think deeper and deeper. Observe what the competition is and is not doing - is there anything they are missing? 

Netflix had a competitive advantage over Blockbuster by hitting an untapped market and coming up with innovative ideas to reach them.

There are two stories about the origin of Netflix. One, from the founder Reed Hastings, claims that Blockbuster charged him $40 for Apollo 13, which apparently sparked the idea for an affordable DVD delivery service. Hastings observed his surroundings and saw a failing system, researched the market and discovered zero competition in the DVD delivery industry, and began innovating his idea. 

In order to make an idea a success, the creator needs to invest time and energy into the creation. Only the creator knows every detail of their own idea, so they need to be able to believe in themselves enough to sell it. 

Be sure the idea is on the right track. If it has nothing to do with the business or company mission, scratch it. The business model should reflect the values of the company and bring value to the constituents. Have clearly defined values that are consistently communicated throughout the team and ultimately connect to the company’s purpose. 

Netflix’s purpose, for example, is to provide a “global internet TV network offering movies and TV series commercial-free, with unlimited viewing on any internet-connected screen for an affordable, no-commitment monthly fee.” With every business action, new idea, or partnership, Netflix works to honor this. 

Map

Nothing is accomplished well without a plan. An idea can only come to fruition if the mission is clear and the team is on board. Planning is what turns an idea from a thought to an action

Map out marketing strategies amongst the marketing team to implement idea creation toward the target audience.

After thoroughly brainstorming with the team, define a focused strategy including detailed insights and objectives. Set specific dates and deadlines in order to keep the team on track, align priorities, set objectives every step of the way, and achieve goals on time. 

Detail measurements of success so when the idea/campaign is completed, can quantitatively show if it was effective.

Set contingency plans in case of failure. When executing ideas, there are risks and not everything will go according to plan. Know the strengths and weaknesses of the idea and how to overcome unanticipated obstacles when encountered.

Form connections and partnerships because implementing an idea is not a solo job. Marc Rudolph was Reed Hasting's partner throughout the founding of Netflix. The company formed partnerships with companies like Sony, Toshiba, Apple, and AllMovie guides through the years to advance, becoming more competitive and valuable to customers. Thinking in advance from the very beginning, they formed necessary partnerships with Sony and Toshiba DVD players, buyers of Pioneer DVD players and select Hewlett-Packard and Apple computer models, and even All-Movie Guide, which was an online search service directing people to Netflix’s website. 

AgencySparks has multiple whiteboards around the office to keep track of and map out KPI goals, calendar meetings, and creative ideas. 

AgencySparks has multiple whiteboards around the office to keep track of and map out KPI goals, calendar meetings, and creative ideas. 

Above all, always inform the team. Provide the team with a structured marketing brief outline so that they can easily understand the goal, process, and every detail. AgencySparks offers a free template here

Assign and orchestrate the work so that there is no idle time. The team should be accountable and trained to execute the idea on their own. Continually encourage creativity in the office because new ideas cannot flourish without it. 

Execute

After all the work plotting and planning, make the idea happen! Patience throughout in needed because success is not instant and stay alert in case of unexpected occurrences. Measure success and constantly adapt the plan throughout. Soon enough, you may have your very own Netflix-like success - dominating their industry and inspiring competitors to step up their game.

No matter what, just believe in yourself and your idea and you may surprise yourself along the way.

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AgencySparks ignites meaningful connections for marketers that help drive business. Contact us for introductions. To receive content updates from AgencySparks, click here to subscribe!