Using SendGrid With Azure Functions to Send Mobile App Survey Data

Note: This post is part of SendGrid’s Show & Tell blog series highlighting the awesome things developers in our community are doing. Check out our libraries and open source projects on Github

The company I work for specializes in IT contracting for the Department of Defense (DoD) and other government entities to build secure, scalable, and intuitive services and applications. This means that we are often working within monolithic and policy-ridden infrastructures filled with roadblocks.

This post will discuss the process of creating that solution using SendGrid and an Azure serverless function to send emails.

The problem we needed to solve

Sending emails from your mobile app should be easy, right? Well, that’s not always the case, especially if you write applications for government customers. For this particular use case, we built a mobile app for our customer, a DoD military command, which they released to the fleet to provide them with a career reference application within their organization.

This was a fairly basic informational reference app that pulls down JSON data from a public-facing API and displays a “career path” within their organizational units. Our customers wanted an in-app survey mechanism to directly and securely collect and send that data.

Getting around these roadblocks usually means trying to find and use resources like SendGrid and other compliant tools to ensure our solutions are secure and can scale without hassle. For security purposes, our customer does not have any public-facing mail servers that we can reach from a mobile app.

Fortunately, we could employ the SendGrid API and Azure functions to overcome this specific roadblock without expending too much in overhead cost and technical debt.

How we did it

  1. Configured SendGrid and Azure – We leveraged our existing Azure account, and a free SendGrid account to get things going. We found SendGrid in the Azure Marketplace. Once the account was created, we noted our SendGrid API key to use it later as a function environment variable.
  2. Created a ‘sendEmail’ App Service –We created a new function app service. This generates a storage account to store the function code.

3. Added a SendGrid API key to App Settings – Deploy the function, choose your new app service and select “Application Settings” to add your SendGrid API key. Name it  ‘SendGridKey’, and save the settings.

4. Created a ‘sendEmail’ function – There are several ways to build out the function for generating an email. We used a generic HTTP trigger for our purposes, but there are many templates to choose from, including a pre-configured SendGrid function template.

Specify the language you want to write your function with, a unique name, and the level of authorization you want to give it, and then create the function. We used function-level authorization for our purposes. Access the code editor view on the left-sidebar drop-down. You should have a view that looks like this for your new HTTP trigger function:

5) Modified the function code – First, we removed the boiler-plate code function code so that ‘Task’ was an empty function. We also changed the function signature to a void, non-asynchronous one with these parameters:

Next, we reference the SendGrid library by adding the following code snippet to the top of the function:

This will ensure the SendGrid libraries are referenced and available to the function code. Then, we added the rest of required code to generate an email object:

In the code above, we instantiate a SendGrid Message object with the email subject line of ‘Survey Data’ and set the content type to ‘text/html’. We then take our input parameter and set the message content value to the survey data.

6) Configured ‘function.json’ to handle SendGrid metadata – In the right-hand toolbar, under the ‘View Files’ context, there should be two file items listed there, ‘run.csx’, and ‘function.json’. Select the ‘function.json’, and you should see something that looks like this:

These are declarative string bindings that can be used to interact with your function code and remove the need for hard-coded values. We edited these binding values to configure our outgoing email message:

That’s it. All that is left to do is test your new function by making a POST call to your function URL with your generated key and an HTML payload in the request body. In our specific use case, when a user submits their survey, the app generates that data payload which gets ingested by our function, which in turn, acts as a proxy to the SendGrid API.

Tools like SendGrid are important to us

Cloud-based tools like SendGrid are especially important to those working in restricted environments without many public-facing resources. They provide a simplified and decoupled solution that allows us to focus on our code without having to cobble together something that could take months to get through the red-tape of the government IA process. Sending emails from your mobile app should be easy, and with SendGrid, it is!

To learn more about the ways other developers are using SendGrid, check out our other Show & Tell blog posts.

Email Marketing via SendGrid February 21, 2018 at 04:45PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

12 Ways to Intelligently Segment Your Event Email Marketing Data

Even if you are relatively new to email marketing, you know about list segmentation. When you segment your list, you’re siloing your audience into different categories in order to send the most relevant messages. It’s effective for all types of campaigns, most notably live event email marketing.

As an event marketer, you can achieve a lot using segmentation. You can drive registrations, increase event app adoption, encourage repeat customers, and much more. The more clearly you can articulate this goal, the easier it will be to slice the data in a way that aligns with your end objective.

By understanding segmentation in the context of objectives, campaigns will be in a better position to succeed and achieve their respective purpose. Today, we’re sharing how you can use email segmentation to meet your overarching event goals.

If your goal is to increase email subscribers…

When the event planning kicks off, spreading awareness is key. One of the best ways to achieve this awareness is by building your email subscriber list. Having a large list of subscribers will make future marketing campaigns easier to execute and communication much simpler. If increasing subscribers is the goal, here are three data segmentations that would help to support this objective.

1. Use website activity to your advantage

Sending emails based on a the recipient’s activity on the event website is a good way to send content that is most relevant to their interests and thus persuade them to subscribe. Perhaps your data shows that a subgroup of visitors are clicking on your agenda page. Create a campaign that gives more sneak peeks into the agenda and segment this campaign to those who are clicking on the agenda page on your event website.

2. Take previous event attendance into account

Take contact information from previous years’ events and make sure that past attendees are receiving your emails. Based on historical data of what they found interested, send emails that address their interests and encourage them to subscribe.

3. Tailor strategies based on email engagement levels

Look into the email data and tailor different strategies for recipients with different engagement levels. For those who open and engage with the emails often, schedule campaigns that trigger more frequently and have a clear call-to-action button to subscribe to the mailing list. For those who do not engage as often, still send emails but have them be spread apart, with a “subscribe” call-to-action button being the focal point.

If your goal is to secure co-marketing opportunities…

Whether you are planning a store opening, a volunteer event, or a party, your event can be the perfect opportunity to drum up some press. Segmentation is an especially useful tactic for sourcing co-marketing sponsors or press.

When it comes to a task as significant as securing event partnerships, the message being sent must be as tailored and as relevant as possible. To ensure a positive reading experience for potential partners, consider segmenting your campaign based on the following data points.

4. Segment by seniority level

We know that segmenting by job role is a common way to execute campaigns but in this case, going one level higher and segmenting by seniority level would more closely align with the objective. As the goal here is to generate demand for potential co-marketing partners, make sure to send email campaigns to those in high enough positions to sign off on that decision. This will ensure that you are speaking to the right person.

5. Send campaigns based on NPS Score

Often times the partners that end up being most excited to promote your event are the ones who passionately believe in your event (or company) vision. Send campaigns to previous attendees who gave high NPS scores for your events in the past. As an added plus, these attendees—or their organizations—may be in a position to co-market your event.

For those unaware, NPS scores provide a method for gauging the experience of attendees.

By segmenting potential partners with high NPS scores, you are reaching out to those people who may already have been considering partnering with you, which will make for an easier close.

6. Use personalization

When sending email campaigns to secure co-marketing partnerships, email personalization is key. Emails having to deal with large partnerships should be as far from generic as possible. Use personalization such as first name, job role, and name of company throughout the email to make it seem that message was specifically tailored for the recipient. Readers will appreciate the personalization, further opening up the possibility for discussing co-marketing opportunities.

If your goal is to drive registrations…

Driving event registrations is probably the most common reason for email marketing campaigns among event marketers. The best campaigns are able to convince readers to register for the event as soon as they are done reading the email. Achieving such a goal is never easy, so check out the segmentation options below to help create campaigns.

7. Take advantage of custom fields function

Typically when someone registers for an event, they are required to fill out the standard contact and or billing information. For the savvy event marketer, there is the opportunity to learn more about your attendees than just that. Consider adding custom fields tailored to the goals of the event that you are hosting.

For instance, if you’re hosting a volunteer event, you can create a drop-down list of answers for the question “Which cause or you most passionate about?” In addition to influencing how that individual experiences the event, the answer to this question can also be used to drive attendees to events that are more in-line with their events in the future.

8. Segment based on location

Location is a significant differentiator among attendees, especially if your event attracts a global audience. By sending emails based on geographic region, the message will be that much more personalized. Whether that means sending an email during a country’s specific holiday or crafting an email that refers to the particularly cold weather, segmenting campaigns based on location will create a positive and memorable experience for the reader, increasing the possibility of registration.

9. Segment by registration stage

It’s not uncommon for someone to begin filling out a registration form for an event…and then to get distracted at some point before completing it. Some event registration platforms now include features that allow marketers to capture the information of these “almost-attendees” and follow up with content directed at completing that registration.

If your goal is to engage attendees after the event…

Once you’ve hit your registration goal, there still is a lot more work to do. An event can be the start in a contact’s relationship with your brand or it can be a touchpoint along the way.

How users engage with your events and the activities surrounding it will provide you with valuable context for follow-up campaign. Keep these segmentation points in mind.

10. Create content based on events and campaigns attended

By looking at the events that a contact has attended—and how they have interacted with your brand at those events—you can create content that is more uniquely tailored to them.

Consider how Anheuser Busch created a unique brand activation experience at SXSW. Using VR headsets they gave consumers the opportunity to explore the company’s primary brewing plant and complimented the experience.

To capitalize on this experience, assuming they collected contact information, Anheuser Busch’s event marketers could enroll these consumers in a unique top-of-the-funnel email workflow. The follow-up content would be different if, say, the attendee in question also signed up for a rewards program at the event.

11. Segment based on survey response

During the event registration process, you probably included a list of questions to better understand what attendees are most looking forward to. Segment your post-event follow-up campaigns based on these responses and craft the messages from an angle that directly reflects their answers. For example, if many attendees responded that they’re most enjoyed the speakers at your event, target those contact with an email that focuses on content around the the event’s past and future speakers.

12. Segment based on event app user data

If you’re using an event app, there’s a chance that you’ll have access to a treasure trove of valuable insights on your attendees. By looking at your event app analytics, you may be to see which attendees sent the most messages to other attendees, posted to social media via the app or just logged the most amount of time in the app. You can then leverage this data to identify who your events biggest champions are.

For instance, you could segment those attendees who talked about your event most in social media and thank them for keeping the conversation alive. Alternatively, those sent the most messages to other attendees may be interested in content that revolves around meeting other and networking.

Below is an example of how Bizzabo’s event app dashboard breaks down user data.

Whether you’re engaging with B2B or B2C audiences, there are a number insights that can be gleaned from event app user data.

Wrap up

Segmentation can be a powerful email strategy as long as the objective is clearly stated. In the hectic world of event marketing, goals and strategies can seem to overlap and the “why” behind each campaign starts to lose focus. As long as the campaign objective is articulated from the beginning, the segmentation strategy can be built around that objective and the results can be that much more impactful.

The post 12 Ways to Intelligently Segment Your Event Email Marketing Data appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

Email Marketing via Campaign Monitor February 21, 2018 at 04:26PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Think Bulk Twitter Automation Is the Answer? Think Again.

Twitter announced today that it will impose major restrictions on the use of automation and bulk-tweeting tools.

It's the latest in a series of moves by Twitter to combat the spread of spam, false information, or bots on its network. 

The motivation behind these new restrictions is to significantly limit the amount of identical information -- like that containing false information or propaganda -- being tweeted out by multiple accounts.

Why Twitter Has Imposed These Restrictions

That sort of activity is often conducted on platforms designed for Twitter automation and what's also known as "bulk tweeting," in which identical tweets are scheduled in advance to be sent out by multiple accounts, or sent by one and retweeted by several others.

In fact, according to the official announcement -- penned by Twitter's Manager of Trust and Safety, Yoel Roth -- Twitter has even incorporated changes to its own platform of this kind, TweetDeck, to reflect these new rules. 

"Users of TweetDeck," wrote Roth on the Twitter Developer Blog, "will no longer be able to select multiple accounts through which to perform an action such as Tweeting, Retweeting, liking, or following."

Twitter is among many online communities that are continuously working to make improvements to the way they're used and can be manipulated, as the investigation into the weaponization of such networks to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election proceeds. Medium also announced policy changes today, and Facebook recently introduced a pen-and-paper authentication method for candidates looking to run political campaign ads on its own platform.

“A stunning amount of information has come to the light about the magnitude of disinformation spread on social media, as well as the extent to which these platforms let it happen,” says Henry Franco, HubSpot's Social Media Campaign Associate. “This looks like part of a push from within these companies to reduce the ease with which bad actors can reach such a wide audience.”

What This Means for Social Marketers

While banning such activity could curb the presence of widespread misinformation on Twitter, there's a catch: Many marketers use these tools for similar purposes to share promotional information and links.

So what does this new policy mean for the marketers for whom such automation was the holy grail of Twitter efficiency?

First, it's important to note that these new rules won't impose a blanket restriction. The posting of such information as real-time updates pertaining to natural disasters or other widespread emergencies, as well as RSS feeds, will still be permitted through the use of automation. However, it can only be shared through a single account.

But Franco advises social marketers to take a step back to examine the work they've already done, and where they've seen success -- pointing primarily to the chances that they've already weathered numerous algorithm updates from more than one channel.

"As always, social media managers will need to closely monitor algorithm changes in order to be successful on any platform," he advises. "While automation is no longer an option, marketers have always been able to find innovative and effective ways to manage communications on these channels."

It points to the age-old rule of inbound marketing: Quality content, on any platform, is going ultimately going to be the most successful. And while marketers might manage multiple accounts under a single brand, diversifying the content shared on them provides a better user experience -- especially since users might be following these account to seek different types of information from each one.

Where Automation Stands Now

That doesn't mean that automation can't still be used. It appears that tweets can still be scheduled in advance from a single account -- though we advise exercising caution in doing so and making sure inappropriate tweets aren't sent out in the event of a major global event.

Those tweets also can't be duplicated or retweeted by other accounts that you run, "regardless of whether the Tweets are published to Twitter at the same time, or are scheduled/queued for future publication," reads the official statement.

And just as Twitter has already rolled out modifications to TweetDeck functionalities, it strongly encourages developers of similar applications to do the same. These changes must go into force and comply with the new policies by March 23, 2018.

HubSpot is also making updates to its own product to honor the new policies.

"Twitter has made it clear that it's changing its own TweetDeck product to meet the new guidelines," says Jeffrey Vocell, HubSpot's senior product marketing manager. "Here at HubSpot, we are also evaluating these new guidelines, and will make applicable changes to our social product as necessary."

Email Marketing via HubSpot February 21, 2018 at 03:00PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

16 SEO Myths You Should Ignore Completely

SEO or Search Engine Optimization can be a tricky subject. The 16 SEO Myths You Should Ignore Completely infographic from My Biz Niche gives some clarity to some popular misconceptions.

From the very beginning, the world of SEO has been rife with myths that have somehow managed to pass themselves off as facts and fool a whole generation of webmasters and even SEO practitioners. After proving itself indispensable in increasing traffic and achieving prime rankings in the SERPs, SEO should be free of these myths by now. But several Google algorithm updates have passed, and these myths still stand and continue to mess with the heads of webmasters and SEO practitioners alike.

This is a very text-heavy topic and design. There's no data to visualize, but the descriptions are short, and easy to understand. If readers want more information, that's available on the website.

Found on Rocks Digital!

Email Marketing via Cool Infographics February 21, 2018 at 12:45PM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Google Launches AMP Stories

Google AMP Boards the Stories Train

The developers at Google recently announced in a blog post that they would be launching visually rich, swipe-through AMP Stories, closely resembling the Stories format made famous by Snapchat and Instagram. With these Stories, publishers can create and share immersive and engaging content on the AMP platform tailor made for mobile users.

Although optimized for a mobile crowd, the Stories will also work fine on desktop. Through the implementation of images, videos, and graphics, publishers will be able to reel their audiences in with bite-sized stories that are easily and quickly consumable.

The AMP Stories developers have emphasized the technical ease of the platform in depth. In the blog post, they acknowledged that it can be difficult to master performance for the mobile web and affirmed that creating content for users that expect speed and brevity can be daunting.

Publishers without the technical know-how to create expert visual content from scratch can use AMP Stories’ flexible layout templates, standardized UI controls, and easy to use components for sharing and adding follow-on content.

According to the blog post,

“AMP stories are built on the technical infrastructure of AMP to provide a fast, beautiful experience on the mobile web. Just like any web page, a publisher hosts an AMP story HTML page on their site and can link to it from any other part of their site to drive discovery. Discovery platforms can employ techniques like pre-renderable pages, optimized video loading and caching to optimize delivery to the end user.”

By eliminating the need for tech expertise, the AMP developers have made it easier for publishers to focus on visual storytelling and creative engagement.

Publishers involved in the early stages of the Stories project included CNN, Hearst, Mashable, Mic, Vox Media, and the Washington Post. Illustrators, reporters, video editors, and other artistic professionals from these respective organizations joined forces to experiment with the platform and create content that is both easy on the eyes and functional. Some examples of their work that you can search for and view today are below.

Image Courtesy of the Google Developers BlogSpot;

Developer preview for AMP Stories started on February 13th and you can now see the stories on Google Search. As of now, the only way you can see the stories is by typing in the publisher names within using mobile. The AMP Stories team have stated that they are working on bringing the Stories to more products across Google and diversifying the way they appear on Google Search.

For publishers, there is no tool kit set in place yet. Publishers that have experimented with AMP Stories so far have had to build integrations with their existing CMS systems. Once tooling is available, creators will still have to develop the right tools for story building without adding overhead.

As the format develops and as Google wraps their head around yet another Story format, publishers may begin to embrace the format and use it as an efficient and creative outlet for branded storytelling. AMP Stories are currently free for anyone to use and you can check out the tutorial today to get started.

More on AMP

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a open-source library that allows users to create web pages that you can link to and that are controlled by you. AMP is supported by numerous platforms, vendors, and partners and is compatible across Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, and Opera. 

AMP’s ecosystem includes 25 million domains, over 100 technology providers, and leading platforms, that span the areas of publishing, advertising, e-commerce, local and small businesses.

Email Marketing via Relevance February 21, 2018 at 11:59AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Six Key Questions to Ask Your Retargeting Provider [Infographic]

Marketers today need to weigh their options for retargeting campaigns: Do you keep campaigns in-house and retain all control, or do you put them in the hands of a third-party vendor and risk losing control over specifically how your ad dollars are being used?

Many marketers choose the latter option for the efficiency and expertise that vendors can bring to retargeting.

If you're working with a third-party provider for retargeting—or if you're thinking of starting to—the six questions the team at Nanigans put together in the following infographic can help ensure your ad budget is being spent to yield optimal results.

The six questions suggested by the performance advertising software company are...

  1. What percentage of my daily ad budget is being spent directly on media?
  2. How do you measure the incremental revenue that resulted from my retargeting campaigns?
  3. Can I see a list of the websites my ads are running on to see how efficient my spend is by the publisher?
  4. What's the breakdown of my ad spend by product?
  5. Can I see the demographic information of the consumers I'm targeting?
  6. Which ad sizes and creatives have been most effective?
The infographic also explains why each of those questions is important, so don't wait... Check out the graphic to get your answers:


Email Marketing via MarketingProfs Daily February 21, 2018 at 11:54AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Why ABM and Inbound Don’t Play Nice: Joe Chernov, InsightSquared CMO, on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Joe Chernov is vice-president of marketing at InsightSquared, a sales performance analytics company. Previously, he headed up content marketing at HubSpot and Eloqua.

I invited Joe to Marketing Smarts to discuss account-based marketing (ABM) and inbound marketing, and his view that the two are fundamentally at odds. We'll also talk about why 2018 is the year of customer marketing, and how brand marketing is making a comeback.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Account-based marketing reallocates the responsibility for revenue generation among salespeople and marketers (04:43): "This question is often debated: ABM vs. content marketing. Are they the same thing? Are they different things? Are they friends? Are they enemies? And all roads point to 'they're friends, they coexist happily together.' [But] they're not. They're opposite. Inbound or content marketing—the burden in that model is placed on the sales team. So Marketing creates content that potential buyers 'in the wild' discover and they find that content, it brings them to the vendor's webpage, they fill out a form, and enter a sales funnel. And then it's the salesperson's job to rummage around in that database and figure out who they're going to sell to.

"In account-based marketing, the burden is borne by the marketing team. It's reciprocal. Why? Because you start with a list of accounts. 'We're going to try to sell to these companies. Not companies that look like these companies, but these companies specifically. And not just these companies, but these contacts within these companies. Then marketing has to develop a plan to try to get noticed by those contacts within those organizations. So the burden in that case isn't placed on Sales, it's placed on Marketing because Marketing's job is to gin up some attention with that specific basket of companies. They're reciprocal: inbound or content brings people in to you; ABM is outbound marketing—it's just outbound marketing in a hopefully more appetizing fashion. They are reciprocal relationships."

Traditional content marketing focuses heavily on the top of the funnel (06:32): "You always need content. It's just, the way content is typically defined is in a top-of-funnel manner. HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo—the companies that made content marketing, popularized it—their models were largely biased toward the top of the funnel.

"You write a blog post on how selling software is like 'Game of Thrones' and you hope it goes viral and you get a whole bunch of visitors. Most of those visitors are 'Game of Thrones' fans, not software fans, so most of them are useless to the business. But that's where that bias has been: Content equals top-of-funnel strategy. 

"With ABM, you still need content, but that content needs to be calibrated for lower in the funnel. Or at least written in such a way that the goal isn't to attract a massive audience form which you're going to have to use software to filter the good [leads] from the bad...and instead focus on content that brings in a smaller audience, but the right audience. It's a different way to think about content.

For more effective content, abandon your pursuit of "virality" and dive deeper into topics that matter to your specific audience (08:34): "When I joined [InsightSquared], we had a big blogging team and we had internal marketers writing for our blog. The blog was very 'Game of Thrones Is like Social Selling.' (In fact, that was a real post.) It was 'HubSpotty,' but our buyer is not HubSpot's persona. Our buyer is Sales Operations—it's slightly more skeptical, significantly more analytical, and simply more sober, if you will. So we decided we were going to hire outside writers that were really good at writing about software as a service (SaaS), and they could get the nature of our buyer from an industry standpoint. Well, they got the SaaS space, but they still didn't get the persona...

"Hiding in plain sight was our answer. We have a few communities that we sponsor and support, like a sales operations LinkedIn group, a sales operations Slack channel, and we decided to ask practitioners if they wanted to be paid contributors to our blog, and they did! So our job is to source topic ideas...and to edit the posts, because these folks aren't inherently writers...and we just polish the writing and let the practitioners share their subject-matter expertise. Since we've done that, traffic to our blog is up 47%. So, ironically, getting more geeky and getting more narrow and avoiding the temptation to try to pursue the 'viral' post has helped us not only get more relevant posts on our blog but increase traffic while we were doing it."

To learn more, visit, follow the company on Twitter @InsightSquared, and be sure to follow Joe on Twitter @jchernov.

Joe and I talked about much more, including how brand marketing is making a comeback, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by GoToWebinar:

GoToWebinar makes it easy to produce engaging online events. Whether you want to connect with your prospects, customers or employees, GoToWebinar has the tools and analytics you need. Start creating interactive and educational webinars your audience will love.

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

This marketing podcast was created and published by MarketingProfs.

Kerry O'Shea Gorgone is director of product strategy, training, at MarketingProfs. She's also a speaker, writer, attorney, and educator. She hosts and produces the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast. To contact Kerry about being a guest on Marketing Smarts, send her an email. You can also find her on Twitter (@KerryGorgone) and her personal blog.

Email Marketing via MarketingProfs Daily February 21, 2018 at 11:54AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Seven Considerations for Your New Business’s Social Media Strategy

So you started a new business. Congratulations!

Now comes the hard work: marketing and promotion.

You know you need to be on social media, but you have no idea where to start. With so many platforms, and so little time, what's an entrepreneur to do?

First of all, everyone is on Facebook, so you definitely need to have a presence there. But what about Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, Reddit, Periscope? And those are just the first platforms that come to mind...



Don't get overwhelmed. The following seven considerations will help you determine which social media channels you should focus on.

1. Your Customers

A smart part of any marketing strategy is developing buyer personas. You'll use them to inform all of your marketing efforts, including social media.

Imagine your ideal customers. What are their basic demographics (age, gender, salary, location)? Now, find social networks that match those demographics.

Some networks have a distinct gender preference. Women strongly favor Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, but there are twice as many men on Reddit.

As for age, seniors (people 70 and older) are the
fastest-growing demographic on social media, and there are even dedicated networks for them, including Stitch for those age 50 and above. Seniors show a strong preference for YouTube, too, with over half of Baby Boomers and seniors watching online video.

On the other end of the spectrum, Snapchat, Instagram, and Reddit all have much younger viewers: 90% of Instagrammers and 86% of Snapchatters are under age 35, and 64% of Redditors are under age 30.

2. Your Industry

Some industries are better suited to certain social media platforms than others. That's not to say your Web hosting brand can't break through as the next big Instagram star, but leaning into the networks where your industry already does well makes things easier for you as you start out.

For example, if you're in the fashion industry, you'd want to focus on Pinterest and Instagram over LinkedIn. But if you're in the tech B2B vertical, LinkedIn would be the right choice. All local businesses of any industry need to fully complete their Google+ profiles and encourage regular Google+ reviews for SEO purposes.

What about B2B versus B2C? According to a 2016 industry report by Social Media Examiner, B2B marketers heavily favor LinkedIn and SlideShare. B2C marketers, on the other hand, prefer Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.



3. Your Company

What makes your brand unique? You may be able to use that differentiation in the social network of your choice.

For instance, Marcus Sheridan became marketing-famous for using content to build his pool company into a huge success. If you have a big personality, consider streaming live via Facebook Live or Snapchat.

Do you regularly attend tradeshows? Twitter and Instagram are huge hashtag hubs during such events, which can help your content get discovered.

Find your "thing." You might post photos on Instagram of quirky places people can use your product, or you can create a weekly video series where you share tips based on the service you offer.

4. Your Competition

No matter how unique your business is, you'll always have competition.

Fortunately, having competition isn't all that bad: If you pay attention to what the competition is doing, you'll glean insights into what works and what doesn't. Have you ever seen something flop... and then decided you could make it better? That may have been what motivated you to start your business in the first place!

For your social media strategy, look at your competition's social accounts. Focus only on the companies doing well and those that you admire. The ones that aren't successful aren't worth copying and could even lead you in the wrong direction (they'll be the ones over-indexing on Reddit and Snapchat even though they work exclusively with adults age 45+).

Take note of which platforms your competitors use and what kind of content tends to encourage engagement for them. Consider how you can apply that information to your brand.

5. Your Product or Service

Certain products and services perform better than others on various social media channels.

Do you run an e-commerce site? Pinterest users spend 50% more than those on other social networks and are likelier to click through to your website to purchase.

Work in the beauty industry or spend a lot of face time with your customers? Instagram pictures showing faces get 38% more likes than those without.

Cars and apparel enjoy an outsized presence on Instagram, whereas consumer products don't do well on LinkedIn.

6. Your Goals

What are your primary goals for social media? Do you want to nurture leads, grow your referral traffic, foster customer loyalty, build brand awareness, or achieve something else entirely?

Buffer offers the following list of smart social media goals:



Certain social channels will serve your goals better than others. For example, Instagram doesn't allow links in posts (unless you're a paid advertiser), so the platform is better suited to brand awareness and customer loyalty. You'll certainly gain visibility through hashtagging your posts, and you'll foster customer happiness by sharing exclusive promo codes, but you won't drive traffic to and conversions on your website.

Focusing on SEO? Use YouTube. Videos hosted there are more likely to show up in Google's search results. You can also upload transcripts and include annotations to make them even more searchable and to drive site traffic.

Whichever goal you choose, ensure you can measure your progress, whether that's by number of leads, traffic volume, or number of likes or other engagement action.

7. Your Content

Finally, what kind of content will you be sharing on social media?

If your business is highly visual and you plan to produce lots of video or image content, focus on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, or possibly Snapchat, depending on the ages of your target audience (see consideration No. 1). Facebook Live is a particularly nice option if live content makes sense for your business.

If you'll be creating lots of written content, including blog posts, case studies, and whitepapers, make sure to share them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

If you don't have time to blog yet, you can still find a voice by curating others' content and retweeting on Twitter. You can also comment in discussion boards, including Reddit and LinkedIn Groups.

Will you be creating brand experiences or fun content for brand awareness? Instagram and Snapchat are perfect for that purpose. And don't forget to promote any upcoming events on Facebook!

Bonus Tip

Regardless of which platforms you choose to focus on right now, at a minimum you should create a profile for your company on all the major social networks. As your business and your team grow, you'll have more time to dedicate to different platforms.

Plus, it's just plain smart to own your brand name online. Signing up on all the major platforms prevents a troll from registering your brand name, forcing you to do business under @company_name1 instead of the objectively more professional @companyname.

You'll also get a chance to include a backlink to your website in your profile for many of these sites, so you'll get an SEO benefit out of it. Too busy? Services like KnowEm will do the work for you.

* * *

As your business grows, you'll expand into other platforms and your social media marketing will expand as well. You'll use different channels for different goals and craft content for specific networks.

Until then, focus on one or two networks to really grow your awareness, hone your strategy, and build your fan base. The seven considerations outlined in this article will show you the way!

Email Marketing via MarketingProfs Daily February 21, 2018 at 11:54AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

The State of PR Jobs: Hiring and Salary Trends

The number of people employed as public relations (PR) specialists and PR managers in the United States has steadily risen over the past few years, according to recent research from PR Underground.

The report was based on an analysis of data published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2016, there were 290,910 US professionals and managers employed in the PR industry, just 5,000 jobs short of the peak employment level in 2009.

The number of PR jobs increased 4% in 2016 and 5% in 2015, the analysis found.

The annual real wage growth for nonmanager positions in the PR industry was 0.09% between 2008 and 2016.

The annual real wage growth for PR managers was 1.06% between 2008 and 2016.

The pay gap between management and nonmanagement positions in the PR field has doubled over the past 17 years: Managers are now paid 85% more, on average, than their subordinates.

About the research: The report was based on an analysis of data published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

Email Marketing via MarketingProfs Daily February 21, 2018 at 11:03AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']

Exciting News! 5 NEW Features Have Hit Your AWeber Account

Your AWeber experience just received a serious upgrade. Scratch that. Your AWeber experience just received five serious upgrades. Check them out below, along with some ways you can take full advantage of these awesome changes and new features.

Your confirmation emails have a new design

We recently rolled out a modern, super-clean HTML design for your confirmation email a.k.a. the first email your new subscribers will see when they join your list. What you need to know:
  • Your message will look great on desktops and mobile devices since it's an HTML design.  📱
  • We replaced that long opt-in link with a simple blue button that says "Confirm my subscription." 👈
  • We tested this new design and have seen opt-in rates — the number of subscribers saying "YES! I want to join your list!" — jump up significantly. 🚀
How to take advantage of this feature:
  • You don’t have to do anything! All confirmation emails sent from AWeber now use this new design.
  • If you have any visual references to the old design, such as on your thank you pages, or within any videos, we recommend that you update to display the new email. Contact us by phone, chat, or email if you have any questions.
AWeber customers are already sharing their excitement about the new design!

The drag-and-drop editor is better than ever

Creating a beautiful and engaging email should be simple and enjoyable. After all, your crafting a message that hundreds or thousands of people might read. We listened closely to customer feedback about our drag-and-drop message editor and made some tweaks to significantly improve your creation process. What you need to know:
  • We improved one of the key features of any drag-and-drop editor . . . the dragging and dropping! Look for a new indicator to show you exactly where the selected element will drop as you move its location. Indicator code name: the dog bone! 🍖
  • When moving elements around, your entire layout used to shift immediately, which was jarring. In fact, it was easy to forget where your element started before you moved it! We fixed this by maintaining your email's layout until you actually drop the element where you want it.
  • There’s also a faded placeholder where the element began. That way, if you change your mind and decide to put it back, you’ll know right where to drop it. Code name: ghosting. 👻
How to take advantage of this feature:

It's now easier to personalize your email content

Using personalized contextual content in your emails is key to sending engaging campaigns. You can insert your subscribers' first names, or the URL where they signed up. You can also insert things like the current date, your signature, or an unsubscribe URL. There’s plenty to explore. So we completely revamped the dropdown menu. What you need to know:
  • Easily select variables based on their category using this menu. You can also create your own custom snippets in list settings, which will appear in this menu.
How to take advantage of this feature:

Survey your audience with a new interactive email template

This new template release can truly change the way the your interact with your audience. We wanted to know what our subscribers thought of our emails, so we developed our own handy sentiment widget. This inspired us to do even more surveying within emails, and we’ve constructed a template so YOU can do the same. What you need to know:
  • Using the brand-new survey template, you can utilize 4 different survey types directly within your emails. ☑
  • Gauge the sentiment of your audience by asking them to click simple happy/sad faces, yes or no questions, a five-point scale, or by using the Net Promoter Score method.
  • View your results through QuickStats and create smart segments based on your subscribers’ responses.
How to take advantage of this feature:

Create, edit, and send messages from your mobile device

Our mobile app Curate is the perfect way to create and send a message from your mobile device, whether you're on-the-go or you just prefer to work on your phone or tablet. With Curate, you can collect and share content from around the web, or draft your own content using a simple editor. We’ve spent the past month making some design and usability improvements, including the ability to schedule your messages in advance. What you need to know:
  • Using AWeber’s Curate app for Android and iOS, you can now create an email on your mobile device and schedule it to be sent at a later time. 📅
  • When you schedule a message to be sent, you can even review it on your desktop by signing into You can modify or cancel the message, as needed. 📝
How to take advantage of this feature:

Getting started with AWeber

We're just getting started. Our roadmap for 2018 is filled with innovative new functionality to help your business take off. We can’t wait to roll out more updates in the coming months. Ready to start growing and engaging your audience? Log in today to start using these features. Have questions? Give us a call, or start a live chat! Not using AWeber? Join the fun! Start building your email list with AWeber today.The post Exciting News! 5 NEW Features Have Hit Your AWeber Account appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

Email Marketing via Email Marketing Tips February 21, 2018 at 10:57AM [amazon_link asins='0990530019,B015TI3NJM,1941142990,1545286981,B01I8OHYW6,1537486039,0470947675' template='ProductCarousel' store='0-0x03-20' marketplace='US' link_id='1772ba2e-fc74-11e7-963b-abc7e94b6c37']