If you run an online business, you know how important each and every sale is. What’s even more important is how you market your products to your audience so that they’re enticed to make a purchase and remain loyal customers. A great way to do this is through video marketing.
Google reports that nearly 50 percent of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. That means that half of your target market actively search for video content in order to make an informed decision about your brand before they purchase, so if it doesn’t exist, you’re more than likely missing out on an opportunity to grow your customer base.
Let’s look at a few different ways you can boost your ecommerce sales using video marketing.
Use them as product demos
Ecommerce websites usually feature photos to display their products so that users, especially new users, can get a closer, clearer look at them. It helps customers decipher whether or not those products are right for them so they feel more confident about their buying decisions. The more information people have before they buy, the less likely they are to return that product and require a refund, which saves your business money and helps retain customers.
Use videos to demonstrate your products on your website so users can get up close, in-depth information alongside photos and detailed written information. All of these elements put together will bring new visitors closer to buying from your store.
Certain products sold through Amazon feature video as a way to inform their customers and help them make an informed buying decision:

Feature customer testimonials
It’s essential when marketing your products that you make customers understand why they should buy from you and not another brand. You want to be able to demonstrate that your business offers them value that’s better than your competitors, and a great way to do so is by incorporating social proof, specifically customer reviews.
It can get boring to sift through written testimonials given by customers and clients. New users want affirmation that your brand is credible and worth investing in, but that doesn’t mean the information they get has to be in one form. Rather, you can turn the testimonials of happy customers into videos that are captivating to watch and interest your viewers.
ChowNow has a page specifically for customer testimonials in which they display videos of people who are happy with their brand:

You can also encourage your customers to submit videos of reviews of your products if they’re willing to do it. Most of the time, this is done without any incentive except that customers want to express their happiness with your products.
Create video tutorials
If users are new to a product, they’re going to want to assess its practicality and functionality so they know it’s something that works and they’ll actually use. As potential customers move further down the conversion funnel, they’ll be looking more at the research behind the product and how useful it would be in their lives. At this stage, it’s important that you’re able to provide them with the information they need in order to make a purchase they feel confident about.
Apple always makes sure to use video to demonstrate its latest iPhone models, how they work, and all the different ways you can use them:

Doing so eliminates confusion and makes potential customers feel reassured about their decision to buy, especially when that product is pricey and requires more thought. Relieving people of their doubts when they’re already so close to a sale is what video is good at doing because it offers an in-depth look at your products and eases your audience’s doubts. From here, they can move all the way down the sales funnel and become return visitors.
Implementing video marketing into your conversion strategy will do wonders for your business as well as the customer experience. Users, especially when new to your brand, are always looking for more information on products and will be thrilled to see they have options when it comes to learning more. When your mission to inform your audience about your products so they can make the right decision for them, you’ll start to see your customer base grow because you’re putting extra effort into giving them detailed information. How will you use video to market to your target audience?

In the Mad Men age of television advertising, messaged mattered more than timing. There were so few networks and prime-time options that you knew exactly where consumer attention would be focused on any given day. Run an ad during a show like M*A*S*H in the 1980s and you were sure to get in front of your target audience.
But now, outside of Super Bowl Sunday, timing is everything in advertising. Especially in digital advertising, knowing where your target audience’s attention lies at specific times can be the difference between serious ROI and millions of dollars in wasted resources.
Unlike with traditional television advertising, “timing” your digital ads doesn’t necessarily refer to time of day. Rather, you need to ensure your digital ads appear in front of the right people at the right stage of the buyer’s journey.
Embracing Pay-to-Play Marketing
When content marketing emerged, it promised a means to generate leads and improve sales conversions while focusing on storytelling, engagement, and message quality. Rather than trying to game an advertising system that was increasingly fragmented, you could capture attention more effectively for the modern buyer.
But as more and more content has been published, you can’t just publish quality content and expect consumers to find you. Instead, the world of digital marketing has become pay-to-play and the effectiveness of your ad strategy can make all the difference when it comes to sales conversions.
From Facebook to Google, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and beyond, being able to run digital ads effectively is essential to getting in front of the right audience and driving content marketing ROI.
Part of this pay-to-play process is choosing the right days and times to run your digital ads. But in a cost-per-click model, you’re able to experiment with timing more media buyers could in traditional advertising.
What’s more important is ensuring that you’re getting the right people to click on your digital ads. Not just people who fall in your target demographics and buyer personas—but those who have exhibited purchase intent and have a higher chance of converting.
How Intent Data Shapes Timing for Digital Ads
Over the years, B2B marketers have become highly skilled in audience segmentation. You know that you should be targeting top-of-funnel prospects with things like educational blog posts and eBooks as opposed to sales demos and case studies. And you know that getting a powerful case study in the hands of a buyer who is considering investing in either your solution or a competitor’s could tip the scales in your favor.
But knowing which content belongs at which stage of the funnel is a lot different than getting the timing right in execution. All too often, marketers lack the data necessary to target digital ads on the granular level necessary to reach a buyer right at the point of highest purchase intent.
That’s where third-party intent data can come into play for digital advertisers. With insight into the behavior of actual buyers, you can accurately predict who’s in the market for your products/services and take advantage of advanced digital advertising tools to target those accounts specifically.
This isn’t just for bottom-funnel advertising, though. Knowing exactly where your target customers stand in the buyer’s journey will help you put together digital ads for all stages, optimizing costs per click and increasing the velocity of your sales funnel.
Knowing the right quarter, month, week, day, and time to run your digital ads is just the first step. Winning the pay-to-play game of marketing requires you to go a step further by leveraging intent data to properly target your ads. By accounting for those two aspects of timing in digital advertising, you’ll be able to drive ROI that delights executives and sales teams alike.
But the value of intent data for B2B marketers is still a fairly new concept. If you’re just getting started, it helps to know what you’re getting yourself into before trying to invest in third-party data.
Download our free report, Demystifying B2B Purchase Intent Data, to learn more about how intent data can improve your digital advertising and other marketing activities.

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My colleague Marian used to own a small IT repair and services business in the Northern Colorado area.
When people went searching for IT repairs and related services in the area she served, she wanted her business to show up in those search results.
She used a combination of paid and organic search tactics to drive awareness and sales for her business.
If you’re not sure of the difference between the terms “paid” and “organic,” stick with me because using both can improve the chances of people finding your business when they search.
So what’s the difference? Let’s look at typical search results
When you type something into the search box, Google looks at the term or phrase, and through their algorithms, they try to return the results that best match the term you were searching. The search results page (or SERP) contains the results, both paid and organic, that are most relevant to your query.
Below is an example of what showed up when I did a search for ‘custom garage door broomfield.’ The page includes both paid and organic listings. At the top, you’ll see the paid ads. Below those results, you’ll see the natural or organic search results.
Paid vs. organic search results
What is paid search?
If we define paid search, it’s when someone pays for an ad, like a Google search ads, to show up at the top of the search results page, increasing the chances of people clicking through and eventually doing business with them. In Google results, these paid advertisements are notated with the word “ad” in a green rectangle next to the website address.
Here’s a paid search engine advertising example on Google:
Google denotes a paid search add with the word “Ad” in a box.
Paid search marketing helps you compete in a busy marketplace to reach the top of the search results. In fact, 40 percent of clicks from search results go to the first three paid ads listed.
A paid search ad allows you to target the right audience through the most relevant keywords and phrases for your business and industry on a cost per click (CPC) basis. Cost per click means you pay only when some clicks on your ad.
Plus, you can reach people based on where your customers are located geographically which is especially important if you have a physical location. Google Ads are flexible so you can run them whenever you need to and with any budget you have.
What is a paid search strategy?
A paid search strategy includes a combination of aspects that allow you to reach the right audience through keywords and messaging that entices them to take action.
In order to set up a paid search strategy that works for you, it’s important to take some time to understand what you want to accomplish. For example, you might entice them to sign up to your email list to generate leads or make a purchase.
Having a specific goal helps you determine your target audience and other ad details. You want to understand their pain points and the reason for their search. This knowledge helps you to pick keywords and phrases that your audience is looking for.
Ad copy is also important. Ad text should be short and concise while catching their attention and inspiring them to click through to your website.
The last important piece is the budget. Google Ads allow flexibility to set a budget that works for you. You’ll only pay when someone clicks and your costs will be capped at a specific price so you won’t ever break your budget.
What is an organic search listing?
In the same search results page, below any paid ads are the organic or natural rankings. These non-paid results are determined based on algorithms for their relation to the keywords or phrases used in the search.
In some search results, people may see a “featured snippet,” also referred to as “position zero.” This organic result shows at the very top of the page, even above paid ads and it provides an answer to a specific question that the user is searching for.
While featured snippets don’t show up all of the time, they are a great way to answer a question and get your business in front of more people.
Below is an example of a “position zero” search result that answers the question “how to get my kid to go to bed?”
The result at the top of the page is know as a featured snippet or position zero.
Why is organic search important?
According to content marketing firm BrightEdge, organic search results account for more than half of all website traffic. Organic traffic to your website helps to improve your search engine ranking which also helps to show trust and credibility. Plus organic search results have staying power because they bring a more steady flow of traffic.
How do I get organic search results?
Ideally, you want your website to be at the top of the organic search results and you can use search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your natural ranking. While there are technicalities that go into SEO, at its core is providing valuable content and answers to the questions that people are already searching for.
Think about the questions you hear from your customers all of the time. These are the types of questions you want to answer in your content. Create a blog or a resource center where you’re constantly answering questions and providing helpful content as this helps to improve your organic result ranking.
Do I need to use both paid and organic search?
As you can imagine, online search algorithms change constantly to better meet the demands of users.
A strategy that may work today for your business may not work tomorrow due to changes in algorithms and the way people are performing searches. Unfortunately, neither paid or organic search results are guaranteed.
It’s about focusing your time and energy to do both. Run some tests so you can see what works best for your business. Determine where most of your traffic is coming from and focus your efforts there.
Organic search typically helps while people are in the awareness stage. Paid results can help with this too, however, most of its impact is on those who are ready to make a decision.
Plus, when people see your business twice in the results, it only enhances your credibility.
While paid search ads can be valuable to drive traffic over time, they can also be used when you’re ready to boost your sales or even launch a new product or service.
Organic search results are important to generate a consistent stream of traffic. Don’t forget, always be testing as digital marketing tools are constantly changing.
When should I start using paid search ads?
If you’re just getting started with online marketing, it’s a good idea to build a strong foundation with your website first. That begins with providing great, valuable content on your website, by answering the questions your prospects and customers are likely to have in regards to your products and services.
Once you feel confident about your website and organic results, you can experiment with paid advertising to boost your results and extend your reach. A website is typically where you’ll want to drive people from your paid ad.
The good news is that there are a ton of resources out there to help you with both organic results through SEO and paid advertising. Plus, great tools like Google Ads by Constant Contact are built to save you time and take the guesswork out of creating an ad.
Paid and organic search work together
Marian’s company directed people to a landing page on its website from their Google Ad. They offered a coupon for their services and asked people to sign up with their email address. She says “a landing page is great to use for ads because it’s specific to what you want them to do. You want to have them do something.”
Just note that improving your organic reach through SEO and using paid ads take time to work. Marian says “it’s a constant process” to see what works and make adjustments to improve.
Understanding these basic concepts will give you a good foundation for attracting prospects when people are searching for a business or organization like yours.
Remember technology changes, so it’s not something you can set and forget.
Keep your website fresh and continually add valuable content to improve your organic results. Add paid advertising to your online marketing strategy to boost your reach for those who are ready to make a decision or a purchase.

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I was sitting in my hotel room in the Dominican Republic, looking out at the beautiful view of the resort’s swimming pools and the ocean in the distance, and I was working.
I was at the resort for my daughter’s senior trip. Granted, she was off with dozens of her friends, so I wasn’t really planning to spend the day with her, but that didn’t mean I should be in my room checking email.

I bet you’ve caught yourself working when you’re supposed to be taking time off too. It happens to the best of us. I’m not sure if we work because it makes us feel productive, we feel obligated to or just out of habit, but the message we’re sending to ourselves is pretty clear. We’re telling ourselves that we don’t deserve to take a break, that taking time off is wrong.
More than half of Americans do not take all of the vacation days their employers provide them in a given year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. When we do take vacations, more than 40% of us work while we’re away from the office. These statistics are part of what adds up to us working more and taking less time off than people anywhere else in the world.
I’m not sure why we don’t think we deserve a break or that we can take one, but it needs to stop. It’s the perfect time of year for a little downtime. Need some justification? Take a look at these 5 Important Reasons to Take Time Off.
1. Making time for bonding
We’ve all heard the saying that all work and no play makes Sally a very boring girl. Your friends and family want to spend time with you when you’re focused on them and relaxing, not working. Here’s the bottom line. What matters to you more? Your family and friends or work? Let your actions reflect your feelings.
2. Recharging your mind and body
People who are overworked are more overwhelmed, less productive, more prone to making mistakes, and more stressed. Taking time off recharges your brain, allowing you to be more focused and productive when you return to work. Relaxation also boosts your immune system.
3. Empowering others
We’ve all had that feeling of working more before or after a vacation. It’s like you need the vacation after you’ve spent so many hours prepping to leave or trying to catch up when you return to work. But, here’s the thing, work will happen without you present. Taking time off empowers others on your team to make decisions and complete tasks. It also sends a message to them that it’s ok for them to take time off too.
4. Sparking creativity
Creative ideas are everywhere. It’s not really working if you’re lounging in a beach chair, looking out over the ocean and you have an epiphany about how to solve a nagging work problem. Creative thinking occurs when we allow ourselves to relax.
5. Inspiring appreciation
I’ve traveled out of the country for work for about a month at a time for at least a decade of my marriage. I can absolutely attest to the cliche that absence makes the heart grow fonder. My husband and I always appreciate each other more after we’ve been apart. The same is true for your team. Taking time off allows your team to recognize and value your role in the organization.
It seems contradictory that taking time away from work actually makes you a better employee, but it does. It also makes you a mentally and physically healthier person. In my personal experience, taking time to rest, recharge and explore the world or do something new, also makes you happier. You have the time off and the right to enjoy it. I hope this post is all of the justification you need.

Consider for a moment these self-contradictory innovations:

The solar-powered torch (flashlight)
The inflatable dartboard
The underwater hairdryer
The waterproof teabag
The concrete liferaft

At first sight they look silly but each contains the germ of an interesting idea.

You can charge up a solar-powered torch in daylight and then take it into a cave.
The inflatable dartboard is easy to transport and works well with velcro darts.
A hairdryer in a submarine is an underwater hairdryer.
A teabag which stayed waterproof at room temperatures but let in boiling water would stay fresher for longer.
You could make a concrete liferaft if it had large air pockets.

I recently heard about a contradictory innovation which has become popular – the silent disco. It sounds ridiculous. But the dancers wear headphones – each with their own favourite tracks – while onlookers can chat without being drowned out. It is a clever innovation.
Try this brainstorm method; the Contradictory Innovation – also known as the Waterproof Teabag method. Take your leading product or service and everyone has to describe a version which completely undermines or contradicts one of the main properties of the item. The more ridiculous the better. Then you take each useless idea and see if it leads anywhere useful. Like a silent disco.
Dulux make white paint. They thought of a contradictory idea – pink white paint. They came up with a paint which is pink when you apply it but which dries to a beautiful white. So it is easier to see where you have applied the paint as you go over an older white background.
The contradictory innovation brainstorm method is lateral thinking in action. It challenges your basic beliefs and assumptions and then takes you into unexplored possibilities. Let’s develop some waterproof teabags and inflatable dartboards!

Maybe it’s growth. Maybe it’s change. Maybe it’s a new chapter in some way. Whatever the reason for needing a marketing manager (or similar position), if your business is looking for the right person to manage your message, keep an eye on the transition.
The early time that a marketing manager comes into your business can be critical to the success of your growth plan.
But let’s back up a moment, and make sure we’re on the same page.
What exactly does a marketing manager do?

The answer to this can depend on a few factors, like the size of the company, the size of the marketing department, the vertical the business is in, and the vision of leadership.
For most businesses, the core responsibility of the marketing manager is to implement and report on marketing initiatives. The role is focused on the what, like what actions need to be executed. That’s different from the role of a marketing director, who explores the why and the how of those actions.
Of course, getting into titles like director versus vice president or CMO can get to be a little much for most average businesses. And don’t even think about all the creative twists to titles many companies take nowadays.
For ease of clarification, let’s consider the marketing manager as the person in charge of running the day-to-day marketing initiatives, laid out by a director of marketing. You’ll want someone who can think for themselves of course, but you want to have a marketing manager who’s a doer, not just a thinker.
In very small businesses, this marketing manager may report directly to the owner, with the goal of eventually taking over strategy and planning like a director or VP would. It’s all about growth, after all.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s look at the early part of the journey as a marketing manager comes aboard your crew. Here’s what your new marketing manager should do first.
We all have ideas. And most of us want to bring those ideas to the table as quickly as possible. But this is where it’s important to exercise restraint. At least for a little while.
Anyone coming into a new position does well to listen first. Whether it’s listening to the owner, their direct manager, the team or other colleagues in the company, using the two ears you have versus the one mouth is key.

A marketing manager ready to listen is a person interested in collaboration.
They should get to know the people and processes within the company, from their manager to their peers and especially – if applicable – their direct reports.
Along with listening, a willingness to learn is vital. From learning the business to learning the vertical it’s in, someone willing to listen and learn is huge.
Learning from the business owner and/or leadership will help a marketing manager better understand the story behind the brand, the clients they already serve, and the dynamics of the team.
In addition to general learning, a new marketing manager needs to clarify responsibilities. From their own goals and duties to shared responsibilities with teammates or other teams (sales and marketing alignment, anyone?), clarifying expectations is a recipe for clear communication and success.
Offer Ideas
You likely hired this person because of their talents or experience. As Steve Jobs essentially said, hire smart people and let them work. Listen to their ideas, too.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs
As your new marketing manager is getting the lay of the land, listen for their ideas. Maybe they’re experienced in podcast production or strategic pay-per-click advertising. If you’ve never thought of these tactics, a fresh perspective is helpful.
If you’re willing to hear the ideas, they’ll be more comfortable sharing them. Conversely, if they aren’t sharing any ideas, you may have difficulties brewing.
Dive In and Work Hard Smart
As covered earlier, a marketing manager is a doer. Early on in the journey, this person should be ready to dive in and work. Maybe it’s blog article drafts in the first couple weeks. Maybe it’s a social media plan and calendar suggestion. Perhaps they suggest a podcast plan to make your business the next Joe Rogan, Marc Maron, or NPR.
Whatever the case, if your new marketing manager is only interested in more meetings, more discussions, more dreams … you may be seeing a red flag. Encourage them to make progress. Set goals. Clarify expectations.
Pro Tip for Marketing Managers: Start From the End and Work Your Way Back
This one’s for marketing managers reading this. Align yourself with sales. Then, with the sales team’s support, start at the bottom of the funnel. Make sure sales reps feel supported by your plan. Make sure you understand where they’re coming from. And make sure you’re sharing with them how they can work inbound leads you’re planning to generate.
Maybe Don’t Do This

Something you don’t want is a marketing manager who wants to dismantle everything you’ve done just for the sake of making a name for themselves.
A new logo. New branding. Starting over. These should be red flags if it’s their first focus.
Maybe your logo needs some attention, or maybe the website could use a little conversion rate optimization. What you don’t want is a marketing manager who’s not willing to listen or learn, and who only has the arrogant belief that everything they’re bringing to the job is perfect and the best idea ever.
Your new marketing manager should slow down and work smartly.
Bonus: Education and Collaboration
If you’re looking to hire a marketing manager – to replace someone else or to spin up a new position and maybe department – set yourself up for success.
If you understand the current marketing world a little bit, you’ll be prepared for conversations on subjects like conversational marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, lead generation, social media, and more.
Finding the right person to fit your culture will take time. I’d suggest looking for a collaborative spirit about the person so that they work well with the team, plus a drive for growth so you’re not constantly having to push them for progress.
Sounds Great – What if I Don’t Have the Time?
Finding a good fit takes time. And effort.
Finding the right fit takes even more work.
So, what happens if you know you want a marketing manager, but don’t have the time or expertise to find them? Or when you do find the right fit but aren’t equipped to provide the direction you need?
That’s when you can hire an agency that can bring both strategy, AND implementation to the table. We’ve found great success working with businesses who want to grow with purpose, who are building teams, and who need that extra set of experts to help plan and execute.
Want to know how we coach businesses on business growth, marketing strategy and more? Check out the conversion report tool we built for businesses just like yours.

Planning photo by Marten Bjork on UnsplashCurious dog photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash Listening photo by Cristina Gottardi on UnsplashSlow down photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

Free-Photos / Pixabay
Tom Armenti, founder of Fat Shack, found his entrepreneurial spirit in college. While playing online poker, Tom funded his idea of starting a restaurant that would serve everyone’s favorite fattening foods together in one sandwich. Using $5,000 of his winnings and working with his college friend Kevin Gabauer, Tom was able to strike a deal with a bagel shop owner to rent the store from 6 pm – 4 am, including equipment, to create the first Fat Shack.
Fat Shack serves consumer-favorites such as french fries, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and jalapeno poppers, all on one sandwich. With a variety of options to choose from on their menu, including their famous triple-stacked burgers, there is a fatty snack for everyone at the Fat Shack. The Sharks love the taste of the products they sample but are concerned with the nutritional value of the product. Tom and Kevin do caution that while their product is delicious, it is intended to be an occasional treat and not eaten for every meal as it is high in calories.

Does this company have what it takes to make a fat deal? #SharkTank #FatShack
— Shark Tank (@ABCSharkTank) May 13, 2019

Fat Shack has grown and expanded to include 11 locations. Nine of those locations are franchise stores. Tom and Kevin would like to partner with a Shark who can help them to grow the franchise. They came to the Shark Tank in hopes of finding that strategic partner who would be willing to invest $250,000 in exchange for a 7.5% equity share. Since inception, their sales are $22 million with $5.7 million of that occurring in the last year. From each franchised store, Tom and Kevin receive, on average, $40,000-$45,000 from royalties.
Although the Sharks are impressed by Fat Shack’s food and business model, they are concerned about the number of franchise stores they would have to open to make money on the deal. Because most of the franchise owners have been people that have worked for Tom in the past, the Sharks think the real growth will come from finding franchisees and owner/operators from the outside. They would make their money back and profit when they exit the deal.
In a rare turn of events, four Sharks are interested in investing. Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Mark Cuban all extend offers to Fat Shack. Tom and Kevin decide to counter Mark Cuban and he accepts their counter. Mark agrees to invest$250,000 for a 15% equity share in Fat Shack.

#SharkTank @kevinolearytv
— Shark Tank (@ABCSharkTank) May 13, 2019

Do you think Mark made a wise decision to invest in Fat Shack even though it conflicts with his health food portfolio? Would you dine at Fat Shack? Sound off below to start the conversation!

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) presents integration architecture challenges that once solved can enable use cases that deliver fast-growing revenue opportunities.
ISA-95 addressed the rise of global production and distributed supply chains yet are still deficient on the issue of data and security, specifically the proliferation of IIoT sensors, which are the real security perimeter of any manufacturing business.
Finding new ways to excel at predictive maintenance, and cross-vendor shop floor integration are the most promising applications.
IIoT manufacturing systems are quickly becoming digital manufacturing platforms that integrate ERP, MES, PLM and CRM systems to provide a single unified view of product configurations.

These and many other fascinating insights are from an article McKinsey published titled IIoT platforms: The technology stack as value driver in industrial equipment and machinery which explores how the Industrial Internet of things (IIoT) is redefining industrial equipment and machinery manufacturing. It’s based on a thorough study also published this month, Leveraging Industrial Software Stack Advancement For Digital Transformation. A copy of the study is downloadable here (PDF, 50 pp., no opt-in). The study shows how smart machines are the future of manufacturing, exploring how IIoT platforms are enabling greater machine-level autonomy and intelligence.
The following are the key takeaways from the study:

Capturing IIoT’s full value potential will require more sophisticated integrated approaches than current automation protocols provide. IIoT manufacturing systems are quickly becoming digital manufacturing platforms that integrate ERP, MES, PLM and CRM systems to provide a single unified view of product configurations and support the design-to-manufacturing process. Digital manufacturing platforms are already enabling real-time monitoring to the machine and shop floor level. The data streams real-time monitoring is delivering today is the catalyst leading to greater real-time analytics accuracy, machine learning adoption and precision and a broader integration strategy to the PLC level on legacy machinery. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.

Inconsistent data structures at the machine, line, factory and company levels are slowing down data flows and making full transparency difficult to attain today in many manufacturers. Smart machines with their own operating systems that orchestrate IIoT data and ensure data structure accuracy are being developed and sold now, making this growth constraint less of an issue. The millions of legacy industrial manufacturing systems will continue to impede IIoT realizing its full potential, however. The following graphic reflects the complexities of making an IIoT platform consistent across a manufacturing operation. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.

Driven by price wars and commoditized products, manufacturers have no choice but to pursue smart, connected machinery that enables IIoT technology stacks across shop floors. The era of the smart, connected machines is here, bringing with it the need to grow services and software revenue faster than transaction-based machinery sales. Machinery manufacturers are having to rethink their business models and redefine product strategies to concentrate on operating system-like functionality at the machine level that can scale and provide a greater level of autonomy, real-time data streams that power more accurate predictive maintenance, and cross-vendor shop floor integration. Please click on the graphic for easier reading.

Machines are being re-engineered starting with software and services as the primary design goals to support new business models. Machinery manufacturers are redefining existing product lines to be more software- and services-centric. A few are attempting to launch subscription-based business models that enable them to sell advanced analytics of machinery performance to customers. The resulting IIoT revenue growth will be driven by platforms as well as software and application development and is expected to be in the range of 20 to 35%. Please click on the graphic to expand for easier reading.

Even though Google and Facebook’s share of the digital advertising market is expected to drop this year, data from research firm eMarketer shows that the so-called duopoly will still control roughly 60% of that market—or about $77 billion.

Within that other 40%, there are a surprising number of alternatives. Traffic may not be as high, but neither is competition for keywords and eyeballs—and, perhaps most appealingly, costs are usually lower, too. This makes it easier to test out new networks to strengthen your marketing plan with a cross-platform strategy.
We asked industry experts about their favorite marketing channels, and we narrowed it down to these top 10. Here are channels you need to test out if you’re looking to broaden your marketing strategy.
Why test new marketing channels?
It’s simple: ROI diminishes over time on well-worn networks because users grow accustomed to ads and learn to tune them out, said Ketan Pande, founder of entrepreneurial network Goodvitae.
In fact, according to Jake Mastrandrea, growth marketer at Adobe, marketers should tap into channels where the customer lifetime value is at least three times the cost of acquisition.

“So, if competitive bids have increased and prices are getting too high at your conversion rate, or if you’ve exhausted search and you start to experience fatigue in that channel, here are three things you can do: Work on optimization efforts to enhance conversions, expand the scope of your search terms, or try a new channel altogether,” he added.
For his part, Roger Maftean, content marketing specialist at career network Zety, noted brands and marketers should consider new or different channels based on forward-looking data and trends.
“So let’s say we are thinking about where digital marketing is headed come 2021,” he said. “How are we preparing for it and what steps are we taking precisely to make our digital marketing strategies ahead of the curve for 2021?”
What’s more, marketers who rely too heavily on a single channel risk losing traffic if, say, Google updates its algorithm or Facebook disables an account, said Nelson Jordan, head of marketing at the Ecommerce Profits, a digital marketing firm focused on ecommerce platform Shopify.
“Figuring out channel product fit is a balance of resources, monetization strategy, and customer interests,” Mastrandrea added. “When thinking about which new channel(s) to prioritize, reverse engineer who your customer is and pick a channel based on where their interests take them. Always test before you lean in and continue to keep an eye on your metrics as you measure efforts.”
But the key is balance between tried-and-true and up-and-coming channels.
“Once an opportunity has been identified, double down and spend 80% of your time working that channel,” said Jeremy Ong, owner the money-making blog Hustlr and other similar sites. “At the same time, 20% of your time should be spent experimenting on media channels that could possibly work for your business to find the next low hanging fruit.”
Ong said his sites generate 60,000 visitors, 3,000 email leads, and nearly 1,000 conversions per month, which results in $600,000 in annual revenue. And 67% of first-time traffic comes from search.
Ben Lund, founder of Rise Marketing Group, is a bit more cautious, recommending advertisers earmark 10% of their ad budgets for testing.
“The expectation of this investment is learning to understand what will and what won’t work,” he said. “The benefit is that through testing other platforms you can unlock other revenue channels.”
Testing is important to figure out which platforms will work for you and your business. Here are 10 channels to try out, recommended by these industry experts and more!
1. Quora
If you’re not familiar, Quora is a Q&A site that allows brands to reach users by answering relevant questions and promote select answers—for the platform’s 100 million users. According to Pande, many marketers have yet to tap into this impressive audience.

“A well-written answer, along with a link to your landing page at the bottom, can do wonders,” he said. “Once, I wrote an answer in the business section, which garnered more than 100,000 views and sent 5,000 users directly to the landing page. Also, I found out that the dwell time from Quora users on your platform is pretty much [always] higher, as Quora users have a habit of reading everything in detail.”
Mark Nardone, executive vice president of marketing at PR firm Pan Communications, noted Quora has recently become popular for B2B marketers in particular.
“Quora not only provides a forum for marketers to gain insights, but it allows experts on the topic to link to owned content in their responses,” he said. “Because of these backlinks, Quora has the ability to drive valuable traffic and SEO results for those who leverage all of the platform’s capabilities.”
Jason Thibault, owner of content marketing agency Massive Kontent, agreed Quora is “a great platform to build both subject matter expertise and brand trust,” noting it has added new features like keyword targeting, bulk-create ads, duplicate ad sets, and retargeting.
Mason Mitchell, content marketer with messaging platform Airy, said another bonus is that it’s not a labor-intensive channel: Airy hasn’t touched the site for a few months, but its answers are still driving traffic.
What’s more, Eric Hoppe, director of marketing at content writing service Crowd Content Media, said Quora Ads let marketers target specific questions, which is a great way to target top- and mid-funnel prospects.
Plus, it’s more affordable—Thibault said rates are often a fraction of the cost of Facebook and Google ads.
2. LinkedIn
Ong recommends professional network LinkedIn because in part it has a growing community of high-value users and is less competitive.
“This means that the content creator to active user ratio … is insanely low,” he said. “This translates to higher engagement and lower CPC costs for paid marketers.”
Lund said B2B marketers in particular should pay attention to LinkedIn and its lead gen and sponsored message ads, which “generally work very well.”

3. Reddit
Marketers looking for a new channel to push content should consider Reddit Ads, which can connect brands to top-of-funnel prospects, Hoppe said.

Reddit is one of the most visited websites in the world, yet eMarketer anticipates Reddit advertising spend representing less than 1% of total spend this year.
Marketers can target subscribers and viewers of specific sub-Reddits, which gets very precise. This level of audience targeting makes up for lower traffic potential—plus, advertising on Reddit is also much cheaper than more popular alternatives.
4. Voice Applications
Whether it’s Amazon, Google, Apple, or another platform delivering results, voice search is on the rise.

That means marketers need to recognize consumers using voice search will only hear one result, added Nikki Bisel, owner of marketing consulting agency Seafoam Media.
“Cater your long-tail keywords, optimize your meta descriptions and titles for speech and only use important keywords for top search spots,” Maftean said. “It’s a completely different marketing strategy, doesn’t necessarily utilize old-school SEO, but if you do this in advance, you’ll see a massive boost, not just now, but well into the future.”
5. Stories
Stories aren’t just for consumers anymore.
That’s according to Hamna Amjad, content marketing executive at media outlet Gigworker, who said brands can take advantage of the feature to connect with followers and humanize themselves with content like behind-the-scenes footage, tutorials, and polls.
Morgan Lathaen, marketing and brand coordinator at print and marketing logistics company Thumbprint, agreed Stories can help enhance your online presence and connect with your audience.

“They are increasingly popular among Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube because people are consuming digital video content faster,” Lathaen added. “Take advantage of this feature, because Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds.”
6. Bing
While it has a smaller audience, don’t count out Bing. In fact, Hoppe said Bing Ads are very similar to Google Ads—and he has found cost per lead to be about 40% cheaper with Bing.
Lund agreed you should move top-performing Google campaigns to Bing.

“You should expect to receive similar performance and an incremental 20% more traffic,” he added.
7. Chatbots
Alexa Kurtz, marketing strategist and paid ad specialist at digital marketing agency WebTek, said she is prioritizing chat as a marketing channel for her clients, in part because consumers want instant gratification.
“Users have questions and want the answers as soon as possible,” she added. “With [chat messages] being sent directly to your desktop [or] email or via text message, you can reply to your customer in a matter of seconds.”
Robb Hecht, adjunct professor of marketing at Baruch College, agreed users want to simply ask their question and receive personalized responses rather than having to dig through “a huge, impersonal website.”
With some chat tools, there are even options to capture names and email addresses, Kurtz said.
In addition to customer service, Amjad recommends using chatbots to serve as personal assistants and to screen candidates for jobs.
According to figures from Mani Makkar, who handles content strategy for A/B testing and conversion optimization platform VWO, messaging is up to 75% cheaper than other communication channels—and it has an open rate of 80% on average.
8. Text Messaging
While it may seem intrusive at first blush, text messages are actually a great way to connect to consumers who have shared their phone numbers. That’s according to Charlie Worrall, digital marketing executive at web design firm Imaginaire Digital, who recommends texts like daily deals.
John Frigo, SEO lead at ecommerce site, agreed push notifications are an underutilized tactic that are effective and cheap.
“You know they are a target buyer as they had to visit your site and opt in and there’s many push notification apps that have free tiers to get started and see if it’s an effective means of marketing,” he added.

For example, he is spending $95 a month on a push notification service, which results in $300 to $1100 in sales per message.
9. Podcasting
In order to create an interesting podcast, brands and marketers should use their own networks to find topics and interviews.

“The bigger the names, the more likely they are to generate interest and a following and provide further leverage to secure future high profile guest,” said Kent Lewis, president of search marketing agency Anvil Media. “Industry influencers are also likely to have their own following and market the podcasts to their networks for added reach.”
Marketers should also consider appearing on existing podcasts in their industries.
According to Lewis, Anvil recently helped build a content and marketing strategy for the Craving the Future podcast, which netted a global hotel client with a few months.
10. Livestreaming
The rise of platforms like Twitch, Tik Tok, and Linkedin Live demonstrate livestreaming isn’t going away anytime soon—and the channel now has potential for B2C and B2B brands alike. That’s according to Kristen McCabe, senior community marketing specialist at software review platform
Go find new marketing channels!
And there you have it: 10 expert-approved marketing channels to try out for yourself. Remember, set your goals for each platform, start testing slowly to figure out which works for you, and then keep testing often!

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It doesn’t matter what you do for a living — whether you work in medicine or retail, law or construction, software engineering or writing — there’s an art and science to every career. Each profession has its scientific aspects, those more mechanical facets, rules, and methods you must know to succeed. Yet no matter how dry, straightforward, or technical, these professions also have creative qualities that foster critical thinking.
This dichotomy is the reason no two professionals within the same industry are identical. These people may work within their careers for the same amount of time, possibly went to similar schools, or perhaps have the same position at the same company. However, they differentiate themselves in the ways they apply creativity and critical thinking to their jobs.
This idea impacts our personal lives as well. Consider medical professionals with the same specialty. If all dentists were the same by virtue of having identical skill sets and nothing more, you would have no preference for whom you go to for a root canal. But this isn’t the case; you prefer your dentist over one you have never been to due to their individual touch.
A real-world example occurred with one of my brothers, as some years back he struggled with pain in his legs. He visited three different orthopedic surgeons, all with identical skill sets and backgrounds. The doctors examined my brother. One suggested invasive surgery and the second proposed a more exploratory surgery. Both of these were unfavorable options. It wasn’t until we saw the third orthopedic surgeon that creative critical thinking took place. The doctor took one look at him and asked if he always wore his leather belt around his hips in the same place. When my brother answered in the affirmative, the doctor recommended he switch belts, replacing his leather one with a softer, more elastic material. With this change, his ailments were cured within a week.
All three doctors had the same impressive credentials and experience in the science behind their specialties; however, the third doctor utilized creative critical thinking to problem-solve.
Whether you’re training or in any level of schooling for a career, the “science” of that field is where the education lies. You’re receiving a hard, factual, standardized education, based on data and a proven methodology. Likewise, whether it’s accounting or food service, you’re also being schooled in the best practices of your industry.
Even in the creative fields, you still learn both the science and the art of your craft in order to find professional success in it. Writers must learn grammatical and syntactical convention, but they also have to learn how to write something everyone must read. Musicians need to learn scales, notation, and instrumental technique, but they also need to learn how to touch the hearts and souls of listeners to achieve musical greatness.
So where does the “art” come into these fields?
Artistic aspects of a career are picked up by professionals through years of experience and another, more flexible, less standardized type of “education,” one of induction. The first method of becoming more creative within your career through personal and professional experience is somewhat obvious — the longer you do something, you’ll become better at problem solving and thinking “outside the box.”
The second method, the nonstandard educational method of developing intuitive insights coupled with creativity, involves gleaning the best-kept secrets and most well-honed, time-honored methods, the knowledge and wisdom of your profession from other professionals. These should be people who’ve already distinguished themselves through their own creativity. You might seek these people out, like a musician choosing to take lessons from one of his favorite players, or an entrepreneur asking the advice of someone who’s already established herself as a success in business. You might also stumble into these people during the course of your life, like having a captivating, inspirational professor or being trained by a capable manager who knows the secrets to making your job fun and interesting.
You can learn the science of your job from books, manuals, and classroom lessons and know that you will be good at what you do — but you need to learn the art from the artists of your field to become exceptional. This knowledge and wisdom transfer is key not only to success, but to a rewarding career as well. Not only does it provide professionals an essential balance of skills, it’s what keeps industries thriving and innovative. It’s what pushes us to compete with others by bettering ourselves and, in doing so, to push our very professions forward.
Pick up a copy of my latest best selling book The Anticipatory Organization to help shape your future and accelerate your success.