Increase Your Online Success With An Effective Website

An effective website is a critical component of a company’s overall online success. Company’s website serves as the central hub and foundation for its online activity. With a plethora of available website designs, the digital marketing team must determine the appropriate and optimal design and message.

Besides having a basic understanding of the technology on the website, the digital marketing team must also consider the following facets of creating a website.

Consumer Perspective

  • Relevancy—Age, cultural nuances, geography, and other demographic factors of the target audience will influence the type of content on the website.
  • Usability Design—The digital marketing team must take into consideration how technically savvy its target customer is. If the target customer does not generally have the appropriate comfort level with technology, the team should design a simple, text-based layout with easy navigation and basic features. If the target customer is comfortable and familiar with the Internet and computer use, a more intricate, interactive, and information-rich website can be implemented. The design of the site should depend on the expectations of both the users and the company. In some cases, the development might focus on consumer engagement, while in other cases, the design might be oriented toward supporting task-oriented behavior such as the ability to make changes to one’s account, purchase a product or service, and so on.

Site Development Perspective

  • Purpose—Companies maintain a web presence for a variety of reasons. While some companies use websites as their main method of selling their products, other companies have an online presence just to support their business, message, and brand position. There are companies that use websites as a public relations (PR) tool, to enhance brand value in the minds of their customers, or to evaluate product feedback from customers that may help in understanding customer needs, general communications, product updates, and sales. The digital marketing team is responsible for ensuring that the website is designed to meet the overall strategic objectives outlined in the Marketing Strategy.
  • Planning—The digital marketing team must work with the website development team to plan the execution of the website, beginning with creating a storyboard for the website; listing functional requirements; building the database structure; developing wireframes; and determining hypermedia linkages, search engine key words, graphical design components, user interface designs, audio/video sources, animation, and text requirements and formats.
  • Performance— The digital marketing team also must consider the logical design of a good website, compare the performance of competitor websites to identify best practices, check for effective performance across browsers and operating systems, and perform usability testing of the website to ensure that it is easy to use.
  • Maintenance—Websites create an online presence for a brand, so the marketing team must ensure that the website is maintained and tested regularly. Downtime on a website may adversely impact the direct online sales of products and may also taint brand reputation in the minds of consumers.

The brand messaging on the website has to be in-line with the overall brand message and must stay relevant to the target audience.

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All About Decision Tree Analysis

Decision Tree Analysis is used to evaluate the best option from a number of mutually exclusive options when an organization is faced with an investment decision. The finance team can use this tool while evaluating a number of potential options, such as which product or plant to invest in, or whether or not to invest in a new initiative.

The Decision Tree schematic is tree-shaped diagram which is used to understand a statistical probability or a course of action. Each branch of the decision tree signifies a possibility or occurrence. The structure of the tree depicts how one choice leads to another.

Advantages of Decision Tree Analysis

  • This tool allows the team to clearly lay out and consider all available options, including a “Do Nothing” option, which is often ignored although it may sometimes be the best option.
  • It is relatively easy to visualize the costs, benefits, and probabilities linked to all options to help facilitate focused decision making.
  • Additional options can be added without impacting the evaluation of the other branches throughout the tree.

Disadvantages of Decision Tree Analysis

  • In situations where there are many options to consider and each option has multiple possible outcomes, creating decision trees becomes a complex process and may require the use of software, rendering it a less-than-useful tool for strategic discussions.
  • In some trees, even a small variation in an expected outcome or probability can completely change the results of the analysis. Therefore, obtaining accurate information is critical to the usefulness of this tool.
  • This tool sometimes requires complex preparation, as well as extra time and effort to determine the various possible outcomes for each option, and to explicitly delineate each decision node and possible outcomes and options from those nodes.

Channel Performance Measurement: A Close Overview

Channel performance measurement is a key activity when a sales organization employs different types of channel partners. In more complex multi-channel structures, it becomes even more important due to the number of people, processes, and roles involved. The performance of a channel can be measured across multiple dimensions. The parameters that are measured usually are effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, equity and profitability of the channel.

The various channels have different purposes in the value chain; however, each task needs to support the overall corporate goals. As the number of channel partners increases, it is difficult to ensure that the channel partners are performing their specific roles as effectively as required. For example, the goal of a business might be to increase the number of strategic accounts. However, in order to gather maximum possible commission, channel partners might be engaged in getting the maximum number of accounts possible with total disregard towards prioritizing the acquisition of strategic accounts. It is therefore important to audit the channel partners and incentivize them for activities that are aligned with the corporate goals. The channel performance should also be judged on the ability to fulfill given tasks. A few carefully chosen metrics can give a good indication of the performance of each channel.

The channel performance measurement is primarily a four-step process.

  1. Define the Sales Objectives
  2. Determine Channel Performance Metrics
  3. Set Channel Partner Targets
  4. Manage Channel Performance

 

1. Define Sales Objectives

The first step in channel performance measurement is to define the sales objectives for the company. These objectives are outlined and discussed in sales meetings to ensure a shared understanding between members of the marketing and sales teams.

2. Determine Channel Performance Metrics

Evaluating the performance of a distribution channel depends largely on the agreed upon performance metrics. Choosing the right number and type of performance metrics can help to monitor and improve the performance of channel partners. These metrics provide an understanding of how well the channel partner is doing in reaching its performance targets.

Though it is possible to evaluate a channel on hundreds of performance metrics, this would make reporting and analysis of the performance a cumbersome job. When determining channel performance metrics, a key performance driver, such as sales or units sold, should be chosen to identify and measure the most important tasks. A series of performance metrics are then decided based on the key performance driver.

3. Set Channel Partner Targets

After overall sales objectives are defined, it is important to assign specific targets to each of the channel partners to ensure they are in alignment with the overall objectives. Properly set targets provide a benchmark to measure channel success, monitor performance, and take corrective action to meet expectations. Each channel partner has a specific role towards fulfilling the overall sales objectives. Performance targets should be set to reflect the channel partner’s contribution to the overall objectives

4. Manage Channel Performance

This is the final step in channel performance measurement. It uses the agreed upon goals, assigned performance targets, and identified performance metrics to manage channel performance on an on-going basis and to identify the performance shortfalls of the channel partners. During this step, management gains an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each channel. Management can then take corrective action to ensure efficient performance of the channel.

The success of a channel and its efficiency are determined by the efficiency of channel intermediaries in delivering goods and services to customers and the quality of services offered in the process. Developing a comprehensive marketing plan that provides clear and concise direction about marketing activities and strategy is critical to the organization’s success.

To learn more about Channel Performance Measurement, visit www.SMstudy.com

Content Marketing Pt.1: Marketings New Weapon of Choice

It’s official! Traditional “interruptive” advertising (both online and television) isn’t so hot nowadays. On the other hand, content marketing is emerging as the weapon of choice for brands who are in it to win it. Over a series of posts, we will explore the ins-and-outs of smart story-driven marketing, what it looks like when it’s done right and its importance in the social media landscape.

First, let’s mull some basic statistics that will illustrate how bad it really is for interruptive advertising. For television, the prospects are grim: one third of millennials already report not watching broadcast TV (originally reported by the New York Times in October 2013) with the numbers of people willing to break up with television at an astonishing high rate of 16 percent year over year (YOY).

And then there’s digital. Recent data show that online (and mobile) advertising isn’t on fire, either. According to the Contently Playbook, banner ad click- through rates (CTR) come in between .10 and .04 percent, some of which most likely represents some bot activity. They also state that ad recall (banner ads specifically) is abysmal with 86 percent of consumers unable to recall the last ad they saw.

To drive the sorry state of digital ads home, Contently states, “You’re more likely to survive a plane crash or join the Navy SEALs than click on a banner ad.”

Ouch. So much for the bad news.

Ready for the good news? Content marketing is a very attractive alternative to interruptive advertising and recent findings offers the numbers to back up its current lofty status in the marketing community. Business2Community reported content marketing driving traffic with 68% of consumers. In addition, they noted that “up to 55% of consumers are not only attracted to custom content but most would buy the products or services of the content provider.”

If these numbers persist, the future of content marketing looks quite rosy, indeed. There are, however, a few things to be aware of when venturing into a content marketing strategy.

One important issue with content marketing is the emergence of Peak Content, a phenomenon we reported on in February. At the time, we quoted author Kevin Anderson’s 2014 definition: “Peak Content is ‘the point at which this glut of things to read, watch and listen to becomes completely unsustainable.’” As of March 2016, we are still noting the trend.

The unprecedented rate at which people are posting content online is one quick example of Peak Content. Taken from the infographic, 24 Hours on the Internet, it’s reported (and this was in 2012) that 2 million blog posts are published every day. That’s 720,000,000 blog posts a year. With numbers like these we quickly see why quality is paramount to rise to the top of the content pile.

Additional evidence comes from the marketing data company TrackMaven that reported social media channels are suffering from lower engagement. They acknowledge low quality content is contributing to the decline.

The report states, “Most content fails at the content creation stage. Smart content can overcome bad distribution, but smart distribution cannot save bad content.”

Marketers either already know, or are catching on quickly, that high-quality content is the way to achieving greater engagement, including increased CTR, sales and all the other good stuff a company or brand likes to see.

In a nutshell, all signs point to the need to bring your A game when embarking on content marketing.

Now that we know it’s working, how is it being done? More to the point, how is it being done well? In regards to content creation, options vary. A company may decide to use experts in a given field, hire freelancers, create an in-house team or create a unique cocktail of creation options that work with the brand’s needs and resources.

In our next post we’ll explore the growing “virtual newsroom” where content marketing is “beat” based and provides the space and structure for the highest-quality journalism-style content marketing…and the growing relationship between journalists and content marketing.

Stay tuned…

For more articles on sales and marketing, visit smstudy.com.

Photo courtesy of Florian Klauer, Unsplash.

Sources:

“Third of Millennials Watch Mostly Online Video or no Broadcast TV” Andrew Beaujon, Oct. 10, 2013, Poynter. http://www.poynter.org/2013/third-of-millennials-watch-no-broadcast-tv/225528/

“24 Hours on the Internet,” digtalbuzz blog, March 13, 2012 http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/infographic-24-hours-on-the-internet/

“Marketers Are Creating More Content, but They’re Not Sure Why,” Natalie Burg, March 8, 2016, Contently https://contently.com/strategist/2016/03/08/marketers-creating-more-content-not-sure-why/

“The Ultimate Content Strategist Playbook No. 1: Evangelizing Content and Setting Yourself Up for Success,” Contently, https://contently.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/150303_Playbook.pdf

“Your Social Content is Failing. So now what?” Kara Burney, Feb. 5, 2015. http://trackmaven.com/blog/2015/02/data-backed-proof-that-social-media-content-is-failing-and-what-you-can-do-about-it/

“8 Hard-to-Ignore Content Marketing Benefits (Infographic),” Jomer Gregorio, Oct. 20, 2014, Business 2 Community. http://www.business2community.com/infographics/8-hard-ignore-content-marketing-benefits-infographic

Get the SMstudy, not Nuts

When creating a brand for your company do not use an American celebrity to shoot chocolate bars at innocent bystanders. Apparently Mars, the company who produces Snickers chocolate bars, did not get the memo.

In July of 2008, Snickers UK launched a commercial starring Mr. T, an American actor and one determined (and brave) speed walker. In the commercial, Mr. T crashes through a building, in what appears to be a supped-up pickup truck, and pulls up alongside a young man wearing tight yellow shorts. Mr. T proceeds to open fire with what appears to be a Gatling gun, pelts his victim with Snickers bar “bullets” and yells, “Speed walking?! I pity you fool. You a disgrace to the man race. It’s time to run like a real man.”

The commercial was pulled after just one week.  The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group, criticized Mars for spreading, “the notion that violence against LGBT people is not only acceptable, but humorous.”

Mars could have avoided this marketing failure by taking a look at Marketing Strategy, book 1 of the SMstudy Guide®. According to the book, “Brand perception refers to how prospective and current customers react to seeing or hearing about a company’s product or brand and how the company is perceived within the market. Leading organizations across industries realize that a powerful brand is one of their most important business assets, so they work hard to maintain a positive brand perception as it helps to increase sales and improve profitability.”

This was the second commercial in a three-part campaign entitled, “Get Some Nuts.” Mars had envisioned Mr. T as the face of the Snickers brand, but instead they were branded the company with the face of homophobia. Snickers could have avoided this issue by performing surveys as explained in Marketing Strategy. “Brand perception can be measured using a variety of approaches, but it is mainly measured via research surveys that question participants about the perceptions of the company and/or its products. Surveys typically gather quantitative and qualitative data. They are conducted to help companies understand how their brands are viewed in the market and to identify the brand attributes that are preferred by customers.”

The intention of the “Get Some Nuts” campaign was to target men and their masculinity. In order to be a real man you need to be tough and aggressive like our good ole pal Mr. T. Mars could have avoided yet another blunder by sticking to Marketing Strategy. As stated in the book, “Once a company has identified all market segments, explored the competition, and then compiled the details of competitive products, it should then analyze the various segments and the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats faced by the company in order to identify the target segments in which the business would be most competitive. This process involves identifying the type of customers a company plans to target and the product categories under which it intends to create products.”

In this case, the campaign did not just humiliate homosexual men, which makes up 1.8 percent of the male population, but also men perceived to be “wimpy”. The campaign only targeted men that are rugged and tough, which does not help a company when it comes to forming target segments.

Companies can benefit from providing their employees with the knowledge that can be found in the SMstudy Guide®. If only Mars had been aware of what a Sales and Marketing certification can do for its company, they may have eluded a very big marketing fail.

For more information and resources about Sales and Marketing visit SMstudy.com.