Tag Archive for: Newport Interactive Marketers
As we enter the 2020s, it is now undeniable that digital marketing and social media are going to be at the forefront of business. Actually, that’s already the case, and if you’re not already optimizing your digital marketing strategies, then that means you are getting left behind.
But it’s not too late!
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NIM’s panel of marketing experts are here to demystify the social media age and help you understand how to take advantage of digital marketing and SEO to make your business more successful.
At this NIMRI event, you will learn about:
- Current successful digital and social strategies, and what to focus on going into 2020
- How big brands apply the fundamentals – which affordable tools can inform personas and solve customer problems
- Affordable tools and achievable tactics
- Overlooked opportunities
- The power of Facebook and ads and local SEO
- Utilizing influencers – what lessons can we learn about connection and messaging?
- And, of course, get your answers!
Top experts are here to answer your questions and provide New Media insights – and since it is always evolving, there is always more to learn! Join #NIMRI at Spend Wisely: Big-Brand Insights to Move YOUR Needle on June 20th from 6-8 PM at Innovate Newport, the former Sheffield School on Broadway is open!
Meet Ronni Kenoian
Ronni Kenoian is the marketing manager for leading travel insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip. She oversees the digital marketing of the InsureMyTrip brand, including consumer insights, content strategy, paid search/social advertising, social outreach, and earned media strategy. She also has been intimately involved in a number of new product ideas and development efforts and has been closely aligned with customer needs. Given the demonstrated power of big data, Ronni also leverages the company’s current capabilities to help reinforce the brand. Ronni believes merging creative and technology into cross-functional teams and roles is essential to better executing a winning marketing strategy with long-lasting results.
Meet Kevin Vine
Kevin Vine is a digital marketing strategist and he is currently Director of Marketing for Level Ex, a start-up that creates mobile, AR and VR games for physician training using state-of-the-art video game technology and cognitive neuroscience. Previously, he was head of Customer Experience at Collette Tours, and prior to that he led the web, social and mobile teams at Dunkin’ Brands. His experience also extends to consumer insights, content strategy, communications development and, of course, he is always keeping his fingers on the pulse of new and emerging trends and platforms.
Meet Ana Raynes
Ana Raynes is a thought-leader in the fields of social media and content marketing. Her creative mind led her to study at the London College of Fashion, after which she co-founded the Internet fashion startup Smart is Cool. Raynes has been a motivational speaker as well as an expert in e-marketing, including social media, content marketing, and information technology. She is currently the Vice President of Content Marketing at Didit. She oversees the content marketing needs of agencies and clients across multiple platforms. Raynes also does strategic planning, business development, and strategic growth for social media and SEO. She maintains relationships with bloggers and influencers to keep up with current trends, and to help with her own campaigns.
As promised here is Part 2 of our “Travel Blogger’s Secrets You Can Use” blog post! If you missed Part 1 be sure to click here and check out all the amazing blogging tips we covered in last week’s post. This week we’re talking about the best marketing, monetizing, and travel tips our lovely panelists, Tamara Gruber of We3Travel, Lillie Marshall of Around the World “L”, and Priscilla Pilon of The Weekend in Paris, shared at our August #NIMRI event. So let’s get started!
Top 8 Marketing/Monetizing Tips
1. Soliciting Sponsors: The emphasis should always be on the content you’re creating. “Write it, and they will come,” said Priscilla sagely, “Produce high-quality content, and they will come.”
2. Doing Business With Brands: There are a few ways a blogger can work with a brand: being contacted by people to place ads, contacting people to place ads, sponsored posts, or, if you’re lucky, a sponsored trip.“If I work with a brand or do a sponsored post, it has to be something I believe in. Once your audience doesn’t believe you, you’re done,” Priscilla warned.
“Native Advertising, which is when you have content that is already successful and then work with advertisers who would complement that content, can work very well,” said Lillie.
3. Navigating Negativity: It can be very difficult to figure out what to do when you have a bad experience as a blogger, particularly if the trip is a sponsored one. It is especially tricky because, depending on the country’s laws, you could potentially be sued for a negative review. “Contact the PR people and be sure to start with the positive things and then talk about the disappointments,” advised Priscilla, “I always give them a chance to fix it. If they do, I won’t write a bad review. If they don’t, I will offer to not write about it.”
“Steer away from negative content, even though it can be very effective. Everyone gets fired up over a bad review and they like to share it, but it doesn’t reflect very well on you and can get you into trouble,” offered Lillie.
4. Create a Community: “Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform. You can pay $5 to promote a post (and I do that sometimes), but you won’t see a big difference in your analytics. What’s really powerful is to form alliances and private Facebook groups, not just with other travel bloggers. People who like wine, food, lifestyle, even interior design share readers. The cross-pollenization that happens helps everyone grow,” Priscilla said.
5. Know Your Worth: “It depends on your reach and your demographic,” reasoned Tamara, “I have a group of travel blogger friends, and we share that information.”
“This is why you need the group mentality!” proclaimed Priscilla, “Building your blogging network is key. Whatever you do, don’t write a post for someone for free – it brings the rate for everyone down to $0. You’re time is worth something.
“I would argue that there is a value in giving content to high-traffic sites, so it can be OK to do something like that for free as long as there is some ROI. It’s a value to your resume,” Lillie said.
6. A Photo’s Worth a Thousand Shares (nope, still not right): “For me, Pinterest is very important. It drives traffic to my site, often more than google,” Tamara shared.
“Be sure to link all of your photos: photos on Google and Pinterest should link to your website and have descriptions,” Priscilla said.
“Selling your photos can also be another source of income,” Lillie pointed out.
7. Tally Your Toolbox: “Don’t be afraid to automate! Hootsuite can schedule your posts at the best time for your demographic. You could write the best blog post ever, but if no one ever reads it, it won’t matter,” explained Lillie. To find out when the ideal time for your demographic is, be sure to check out Tweepi.
“The Tail Wind app is great for automating Pinterest,” shared Tamara, “Paying a little for the right tools can be worth it.”
“Google trends is an invaluable SEO tool,” said Priscilla, “In WordPress there is a feature where you can try a bunch of different options and put them in Google Trends to see where you are in searches.”
8. Socialize, Socialize, Socialize (your media, that is): “Learn and get busy on all social media sites and thank everyone who follows (NOT by direct message),” Priscilla advised.
“The biggest mistake people make is to just stop for an extended period of time on social media,” Lille said, “Be consistent and don’t be afraid to self promote!
“Snapchat is the newest thing people must be on, although it does appeal to a younger demographic,” said Tamara, “Its important to know who your audience is and where to find them.”
Top 3 Travel Tips
“Use Trivago or another trip-cost comparison site to look for the lowest fare. Then, take a screenshot and call the hotel. They will always match it, and it’s always better to book through the hotel because they tend to have a better cancellation policy and you also will be eligible for upgrades,” advised Priscilla.
“Tuesday is the best day to book airlines usually,” shared Tamara.
“People would pay a lot of money to stay in your home in beautiful Newport so rent it out on Airbnb to get money for travel and also find places to stay in yourself!” Lillie suggested.
All-Time Favorite Hotel
And, of course, we had to ask about their favorite place in Newport!
Here’s what #NIMRI members were saying on Instagram and Twitter:
Great turnout at #NIMRI! A photo posted by Suzanne McDonald (@newportinteract) on
Learning about travel blogging at #NIMRI at @ParlorNewport. #NewportRI A photo posted by The Newport Blast (@thenewportblast) on
Many thanks to our venue sponsor Parlor Kitchen & Bar
Wow! We covered so much incredible information at our August 12 event, Travel Bloggers’ Secrets You Can Use. Our three amazing panelists, Tamara Gruber of We3Travel, Lillie Marshall of Around the World “L”, and Priscilla Pilon of The Weekend in Paris shared invaluable insights about blogging, marketing, monetizing, and, of course, traveling. We wanted to put together a couple of posts summing up all the best tips for any of you who might not have been able to make it or any #NIMRI members who want to refresh on what they learned. Part 1 will cover a little bit of background about our panelists and their top blogging tips. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!
How They Got Started
Tamara Gruber: “After a family trip, I was telling a friend everything I’d learned about traveling as a family, and she said ‘you should share this,'” explained Tamara. And thus We3Travel was born. Tamara Gruber’s blog centers around family travel and her family of three have traveled all over the world, from the cathedrals of Europe to the rainforests of Costa Rica. We3Travel was recently named one of the Top 20 Family Travel Blogs in 2015 by Holiday Lettings (a company owned by TripAdvisor). “I try to research trips and make itinerary suggestions that everyone can get something out of,” said Tamara, “Showing kids the world is a gift that we give to them.”
Lillie Marshall: “I started at age 27, sleeping in $10 broom closets because I wanted to travel the world,” said Lillie. Around the World “L” which began in 2009, has covered everything from nomadic budget traveler trips to luxury family travel, now that its creator, Lillie Marshall, is married with a young son (and another on the way! Congrats Lillie!!). She works as an English teacher in Boston, and runs TeachingTraveling.com, a blog that interviews “Teacher-Travelers.” Lillie has one of the largest social media followings of any teacher in the world and Around the World “L” has been consistently selected for Top 100 Travel Blog rankings. She was also recently invited to attend White House Travel Bloggers Summit on Study Abroad and Global Engagement.
Priscilla Pilon: “When I first started writing my blog I didn’t realize other people could see it. I made it for my friends and family. The first time I got a comment from a stranger, I was like ‘who is this?!’,” laughed Priscilla Pilon of The Weekend In Paris. Priscilla has traveled the world, but is an admitted Paris addict. In addition to her own blog, she is the Travel Editor for The Daily Basics (the editor of which she actually met at a #NIMRI event!), as well as a contributor for Upscale Living Magazine, The Daily Meal, and Travel Squire.
Top 6 Blogging Tips
1. Preferred Platform: Lillie, Tamara and Priscilla all recommend WordPress as a blogging platform. “You can really create your own identity since there are so many themes to choose from and they’re so easy to customize,” said Lillie, “and there are so many useful plugins!”
2. Traversing the Themes: Sifting through the bazillion or so WordPress themes can be a bit intimidating but it helps if you know want you want it to look like. Magazine-ish? Newspaper-ish? Word-driven? Photo-driven?
“Your theme must work with Google Analytics. Some older themes don’t,” Priscilla warned, “So, to be safe, don’t choose one that’s more than 3 years old. It also must be mobile responsive. If it isn’t it will be downgraded by Google.” In addition, 80% of internet users access the web through their smartphone. That is big chunk of your target audience who wouldn’t be able to access your website. However, if you already have an older WordPress site you don’t want to change, or you totally fall in love with an older theme the WP touch plugin can make it mobile responsive.
3. Camera of Choice: Priscilla uses a Nikon D5300, but many bloggers, including Lillie and Tamara, are moving from a big DSLR to smaller mirrorless cameras. Lillie chose the Sony Alpha 5100, and Tamara has both a Mirrorless Olympus and a Go Pro. “I also love to use my iPhone!” exclaimed Tamara.
4. A Word For Every Thousand Pictures (wait, that’s not right) : “People are captivated first by a photo,” Priscilla explained, “I like to pick the pictures first, then write the story. I took 8,000 photos on my recent trip to Africa and narrowed that down to about 20 for my article. Obviously you can’t fit all of your pictures in one post, but it is nice to build up a big media library so you can share the other photos on social media or in a later article.”
5. Feelings on Freelancing: “I think freelancing can be a little bit dangerous because you are putting all of this effort into someone else’s site. However, it’s different for everyone, and some people get a lot out of it,” Lillie said.
“I focused first on building my own blog and my own presence before moving into freelancing,” explained Tamara.
“You can get some street cred if you’re writing for other sources, but you have to have a thick skin. I was sending out 20 pitches and getting 19 no’s and 1 positive response. It makes you doubt yourself, but once you get going and they know your reputation, you’ll get 19 yes’,” shared Priscilla, “Just make sure you promise appropriately and over-deliver. Also, be on time!”
6. Share with Care: It isn’t a good idea to post things live in case of stalkers, and never post pictures of children without their parent’s permission. “I write about family travel, but for the longest time I didn’t use my daughter’s name,” shared Tamara, “Finally, it became too awkward writing ‘my daughter’ over and over, but it is something to be cautious about.”
“Make sure that what you’re posting is not traceable to you or where you live, and that it’s appropriate,” advised Lille, “Beware of geo-tagging!”
Next week our travel bloggers top marketing/monetizing and travel tips!
Many thanks to our venue sponsor Parlor Kitchen & Bar
On July 30th, Newport Interactive Marketers held our annual networking event on the Rooftop of the Hotel Viking, Newport’s Best Sunset Spot, which overlooks Newport Harbor. Unfortunately, we were a bit short on sun but that didn’t stop our #NIMRI members. It was an extraordinary success despite the downpour and having everyone huddled together under the tent just made the networking easier!
Our annual rooftop 100% networking event was co-hosted by:
Here’s some of our favorite moments from that rainy night:
— Pieter van Gool (@vanGoolPieter) July 31, 2015
Happy to be at the hotel Viking in Newport Rhode Island for the totally networking NIGHT for #NIMRI #hotelviking @debgoeschel @suebzimmerman @newportinteract @cwetalk A photo posted by Artist, Maker Of Joy 🎨🌀🌸🔨 (@gailahlers) on
Jameson on the rocks at a rainy #NIMRI. #NewportRI A photo posted by Drink Newport – Newport, RI (@drinknewport) on
And here’s our lucky winner at the Newport Jazz Festival!
Many thanks to our venue sponsor Hotel Viking
With more than 300 million active users, Instagram is now the fastest-growing social media platform – and when trends online change, your social media marketing strategy needs to shift with it.
Zimmerman is founder of Insta-Results, the world’s first comprehensive online Instagram course, and author of the No. 1 e-book “Instagram Basics for Your Business.”
An entrepreneur and founder of 18 businesses, including her own boutique, Zimmerman is passionate about teaching other business owners, execs, and marketing professionals how to best leverage social media platforms, such as Instagram, to see tangible results.
Keys of “Insta-Success”
Zimmerman says there are three components of Instagram that are essential to success.
- Compelling Content
- Active Engagement
Tips to Making Your Instagram Bio Pop
- Name – Use the same name as your Twitter account so that your accounts are recognizably linked. If the name you want is taken, don’t be afraid to use underscores or symbols.
- Avatar – Make this image pop! You can use a logo, but you want your audience to feel that they’re doing business with a smiling human, not a robot. Use bright colors here, and feel free to use props.
- Bio – You have 150 characters to tell your audience who you are. Make every character count. This is a great place to use emojis and show personality!
- Call to Action – Instagram is a great funnel for leads, meaning by the time they get to your bio, they’re likely to be very interested in your brand, so carefully consider what you want someone to do once they get to your account.
- Link – You have space for only one link, so make sure you’re sending your link where you want them to go. Try sending them to your online store, email newsletter sign-up or strategy guide.
Creating Compelling Instagram Content
- Stick to your niche market – don’t confuse people.
- Add value to every post by including useful information in the image’s description.
- Create images that stand out. Use third-party apps to make picture collages or to edit images.
- Post daily. If you have fewer than 500 followers, post two times a day.
- Humanize your brand. People want to see the person behind the business.
- Engage with other accounts. Giving a shout out to accounts you like will encourage them to check out your account.
- Hashtags are so important for potential followers to find your content. But instead of putting the hashtags in the description of the image, which makes the post look cluttered, post a comment on the photo immediately after you post with as many as 30 hashtags. Try Keyhole, to help find the most useful and targeted hashtags to find your key audience.
Six Mistakes to Avoid on Instagram
- Never post a blurry photo. If it’s your only image, use a sharpening tool in Instagram to make a photo less blurry.
- Don’t post irrelevant “stuff.” You may lose followers if too much of your content seems useless or unrelated to their interests.
- Don’t over-post. If you saturate your feed with images, people will unfollow you.
- Don’t under-post. If you aren’t active enough, people won’t follow you in the first place.
- Don’t repost the same images. Instagram posts have a life of about 24 hours, so there’s no need to post an image more than once.
- Avoid posed, catalogue-type shots. Your audience doesn’t want to feel like they’re being sold to online.
What were #NIMRI attendees saying on Twitter?
Go on Instagram and see what competitors are doing by searching hashtags #NIMRI
Check out NIM’s next event here. Make sure you preregister before it fills up!
A special thank you to the event host 41 North in Newport.
Newport Interactive Marketers is sponsored by web and social specialists Designated Editor, named Newport County Chamber of Commerce Microbusiness of the Year and International Business Award Internet/New Media Company of the Year.
WhichTestWon publisher Anne Holland’s quiz-show-style presentation at February’s Newport Interactive Marketers focused on how to use simple tests to improve website sales, signups, and conversion rates.
Holland provided copious examples of how small – often nontechnical – tweaks can result in huge improvements. Here are the highlights of the presentation.
Why Synchronous Testing?
- Create two versions simultaneously
- Traffic engine splits it into two different versions to see which does better
- Super cheap and easy to do
- You can go to Google Experimental Engine or Visual Website Optimizer
- Great for an agency: You’ll impress your clients
Why You Shouldn’t Go With Your Gut
WhichTestWon’s founder Anne Holland says: If you’re just using your gut you are probably wrong. “I’m still surprised by the results,” she said. “I follow my gut, knowing what I know, and it’s the opposite. If my gut is wrong, yours can be wrong.”
Knowing the product or the client too well can actually be a drawback. You’re not the visitors, so you don’t look at the product the way they do. For this reason, you’ve got to test. Amazon tests, LinkedIn test, Dell tests, and you should, too!
Where to Start Testing
Do not start testing on pages with high abandon or bounce rate because you won’t see a much change.
Pages to Test & Track
- Thank you & receipt pages
- Follow up
- Digital Marketing Campaigns
- Landing Pages
- Search Results
- Category Pages
- Product offer description pages
How to Decide What to Test
- Use the same size screen that your traffic will be viewing: a 15” monitor, 1-24x 786 resolution (Hint: 980 pixels across, 520 down)
- Quickly glance at page to see what you notice that needs to be changed
- Remove clutter
- Vary headlines
- Big images, change images
- Buttons: sizes, colors, wording
Make One Change at a Time
- If you test two changes on the same page, your results won’t be useful
- Don’t change the headline and the image because you won’t know which worked better
- Example: If you change the size of the button, don’t change the wording on the button
Or Test a Radical Redesign
- Radical redesign means you make the dramatic changes.
- Then you compare your old page to the redesigned pages and see which does better
- Then tweak the winning page to see which elements made the difference
What You Want to Achieve by Testing
You don’t want just more clicks. If extra clicks don’t increase sales, no one cares.
Instead of simply more clicks you want
- More sales
- More qualified leads
- Lower cost per lead
- Higher revenues per cart
How Long Should You Test?
Typically you should run a test for 21 days
1) Dell Mega Image Test
- Mega Image Won (Mega Image is an image that fills the majority of the homepage screen)
- Increased leads generated by 36%
- Lowered the page bounce rate by 27%
2) Dell Search Box Test
- Test between a button that says search or a magnifying-glass icon
- Search button won
- Resulted in a 6.3% Lift in RPV (revenue) avg.
- A winning test is usually results in a 3% lift
3) Local or Toll Free Number Test
- Toll free number or local phone number
- Which would generate more sales?
- The local number increased sales (checkout page visits) by 18.3%
4) Email Test
- Should it say: “Click here for more info” or “Find out more”?
- “Click here” won
- 97% lift in unique clicks
- 16% increase in page views
5) Overlay Test
- Overlays are like pop-ups on your website
- They are much more responsive than saying: Please join our email list
- Often come free with email service provider or free WordPress plugin
- Test was how wide should the overlay be
- Smaller overlay won
- Results 8.8% More Opt-Ins
Newport Interactive Marketers partnered with the URI Business Engagement Center (BEC) to explain the valuable resources available for businesses at URI.
Leading the new Business Engagement Center, Katharine Hazard Flynn, serves as the University of Rhode Island’s connector to the private/nonprofit sectors, helping brands leverage URI’s resources for the betterment of the state. A Brown alum, she also has significant finance experience in senior positions at Prudential Bache, Alex Brown & Sons, Toronto Dominion Securities, and Societe General.
Think of Katharine Hazard Flynn as your concierge if you have a question about how to work with interns, sponsors research that could become product, or host an event at URI. Flynn discussed how the BEC was created to give businesses a place to come and connect with URI. This center was modeled after successful programs such as University of Michigan’s BEC.
In addition to the BEC, URI also has another new initiative, the Small Business Development Center. The center is primarily for small businesses to get counseling and financial support in variety of different counseling mechanisms.
The BEC acts a one-stop destination for business owners to connect with the university. Through the BEC businesses can be connected with URI’s students, faculty, equipment and facilities. Here are some of the resources the center offers.
The BEC’s main goal is to increase industry engagement. URI wants to connect their students with jobs, internships, and faculty research. Some 60 percent of the university’s students are from Rhode Island. According to Flynn, this means that students want to stay here, work here, and thrive here.
The BEC is able to connect businesses with students from all disciplines including business, engineering, healthcare, arts and sciences, technology, and many other fields.
Whether you have a manufacturing issue, new product concept, or business challenge you’d like to do research on, URI can help. URI student and faculty researchers have experience working with businesses and can help you solve these issues. Use the BEC to aid you in accessing URI’s research expertise.
Develop Your Workforce
The BEC provides customized workforce training and skills development to help you achieve your business goals. It offers opportunities to help your staff polish their skills as well as specialized training programs. Here is the full list of training programs the Business Engagement Center offers.
Facilities & Equipment
URI has facilities perfect for accommodating small and large groups. Its meetings rooms range from small meeting rooms to auditoriums accommodating up to several hundred people, and everything in between.
URI also has equipment that can be a valuable asset for businesses. From the 3-D Imaging capability, to equipment in URI’s Sensor and Surface Technology Lab in chemical engineering, its equipment can fit the needs of many different businesses.
Here are some examples:
Meeting space and planning
BEC Success Stories
Although new, the BEC has already partnered with many local business. One example is their partnership with the Pizza Gourmet. Co-Owner Jack Parente approached the center to help him create a better, and safer, grill for his pizza crusts. Hazard connected him with with professors at the engineering school and five seniors. They are now working on a capstone project to help improve Parente’s grill. The owner has been thrilled by the students’ discoveries and suggestions.
Another example of the BEC’s success is its YMCA partnership. When the center was approached by the YMCA looking for students to provide physical therapy, the Y was not disappointed, connecting with the URI physical therapy department for and interns.
Lastly, the BEC has helped to connect GTech with writers from URI. Not only does GTech utilize members of URI’s writing and rhetoric majors as interns, but the global giant also often hires these students after graduation.
URI’s BEC has helped a wide range of businesses find what they are looking for.
Looking for help with any aspect of your business from internships to research? Be sure to URI’s Business Engagement Center Executive Director Flynn.