New BIA/Kelsey Report Examines ‘Do-It-With-Me’ Model for SMB Marketing Solutions

Together with BIA/Kelsey, Vendasta has released an in-depth look at the do-it-with-me (DIWM) service model for marketing solutions geared to small and medium-sized businesses.

This report introduces an emerging online services category, “optimized local marketing,” which intends to bring local businesses the kind of digital marketing success that exists at scale in the large enterprise today.

Topics covered in the 15-page paper include:

- Fragmentation: The Chasm Deepens for Local
- Troubled Teens: When Business Fails to Scale
- Do It With Me: I’m Not Confident with DIFM or DIY
- Free Works: “Freemium” Is the Path to Profit
- Concierge Service: The Local Bridge
- Growth Is Risk Leading to Measurable Reward
- The Road Ahead Is Collaborative
Interested? Read the report right now!

Why You Should Offer Digital Marketing to Your Clients

Business owners are busy running their business. Adding an element like digital marketing may seem like just another thing to add to your list of services, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a great source of recurring revenue, at the same time as improving your business clients’ social media presence. Too busy? Why not outsource?

Many companies offer digital marketing services as a managed service. Vendasta’s in-house Digital Agency can help businesses manage many aspects of their digital marketing and take it all off your plate at the same time.

Why should you outsource your digital marketing though? There are some definite benefits to doing so. Managed digital marketing is cost efficient, time saving, stress-free and professional.

Cost Efficient

Most digital marketing services are sold as a package and are billed out as a flat monthly fee. With a monthly fee for services, you never have unexpected charges, and it’s much easier for a business to fit into their budget. Packages vary depending on the services desired. Often, these monthly fees are far less than a business would pay full-time staff to achieve the same results.

Professional Service

In the case of Vendasta’s Digital Agency, there is a whole team working on digital marketing at any time. You can’t fill the roles of strategist, analyst, designer, copywriter, brand specialist, and yourself, so why not have a whole team of specialists working behind the scenes for you? The best part is, you get to take all the credit.

Time Saving

Since you have a whole team of professionals monitoring your clients’ digital marketing at any time, you don’t have to take the time to learn all those roles. There’s no time required to search for those qualified individuals, because you have the managed services team at your disposal.

Stress-Free

By outsourcing digital marketing, you can rest easy knowing that it’s being handled by a team of professionals. You don’t need to worry about deadlines or whether posts have been published to your clients’ social profiles, because there’s a whole team taking care of it for you.

If business owners want to be involved in the process, Vendasta’s Digital Agency operates with the principles of Do It With Me™, meaning they have input in every aspect of their digital marketing! The amount of your involvement is entirely up to you.

Consider adding digital marketing to your list of services. Many local businesses don’t have the capacity to get as much out of social media as possible — help them! For more information, head over to Vendasta’s website.

Why MAST 10X?

What if you knew which businesses were already interested in digital marketing solutions before you drove all the way to their location and stepped inside? With Vendasta’s Marketing Automation and Sales Transformation (MAST 10X) program, you’ll never have to worry about wasting your time pitching disinterested business owners again. MAST 10X is proven to identify your hottest sales prospects and put an end to virtually all of your cold calling.

So What is MAST 10X?

 

First, take a look at this video.

MAST 10X is a marketing automation software meant to transform the sales process. The fundamental piece of MAST is an email campaign that brands and digital agencies send to their local business clients. Each email contains a Snapshot report customized for the business regarding their online presence — website, social media, listings, mentions and where they sit in relation to their competition. After each email, the sales team receives reports on recipient engagement, explaining who opened the email and who clicked on the call-to-action. This helps salespeople identify who is ready to buy digital products and when. MAST is the best way for brands and agencies to identify who is ready to pursue digital marketing solutions. As sales teams follow up with those who have opened/clicked through the email, they can use the Snapshot report as a prescriptive pitch.

Every email that’s sent with our automation campaign is customized with the recipient’s name, business name and your sales person’s signature. The Snapshot reports are created specifically for these businesses with tantalizing details of their online reputation.

You can read more about MAST 10X on our website.

Why are Snapshot reports so compelling?

 

I’m going to send you to a video again, in case you’re one of those visual learners.

Vendasta’s Snapshot report is the ultimate pitch assistant. Compare a local business’s online presence and social media progress to 150,000+ businesses in the industry in order to introduce them to reputation management and improve your conversion rates.

Read more about the value of Snapshot reports, and see a sample report.

What business objectives does MAST achieve?

 

MAST 10X is for brands and digital agencies to use on current, prospective and past clients to quickly identify who is ready to pursue digital marketing. Its main objective is to open a dialogue between the brand or digital agency and a potential customer, and provide sales teams with hot leads. The campaign contains relevant, customized content that shows business owners more about their digital footprint than they knew existed. The results have been staggering — it is not unusual for these campaigns to achieve open rates of 30%-50% and click-through rates of 75%.

Show us Some Results!

 

We ran a campaign with one of our partners and drafted a case study. The Kansas City Star was actively looking for ways to identify new sales opportunities and bring efficiencies to their salesforce. They sought out a 10X campaign to more easily identify past clients that were ready to move into digital advertising. Nick Hadley — The Star’s digital development manager — chose a list of 500 contacts in their system who had “gone dark.”

Average industry open rates for marketing, advertising and PR firms stand at 13.18% according to Constant Contact. With, MAST 10X, The Star reached a staggering 51.43% open rate. The click-through rate also hit 79.20%, while average industry rates for the same vertical sits near 6.58%.

View the case study to see the whole suspense filled story.

 

 

Near Real-Time Analytics with Elasticsearch

By Kevin Sookocheff – @soofaloofa

Vendasta recently released an outstanding marketing platform, MAST 10X, that sends automated email to business users based on how interested they are in buying the product. It’s an automated way for our partners to generate leads for their sales people. Our partners love it, but they all had the same question  “How do I know it’s working”? We took this as a challenge to prove to our partners that marketing automation works by using real life data and showing the results. This article outlines how we went about provisioning a data aggregation tool that fits our needs, highlighting the powerful analytical tools available within Elasticsearch.

The Problem

 

Let’s recap the exact problem. We needed to store data related to email marketing campaigns and offer analytics over that data. We did not know ahead of time what types of analytics we needed, and required a flexible solution that could grow with our needs.

Cloud Datastore

 

Let’s begin with Google Cloud Datastore, a storage solution we’ve used in the past and continue to use for a lot of our data storage and processing tasks. Our core product stores roughly five terabytes of data hosted in Cloud Datastore, and we rely on Cloud Datastore for its automated distribution and replication of data, automatic scaling, and its easy to use management tools and API . Since we were already familiar with the Datastore, we could easily use it to store our email data. What about displaying analytics about that data? To understand why this is a problem for datastore, we need to take a brief digression to talk about NoSQL databases.

Datastore is a NoSQL database that stores documents as key-value pairs on top of Google’s BigTable technology. This allows for easy distribution and replication of the data, but makes it difficult to perform joins and queries over the documents. The limitation of Datastore most relevant to this discussion is that, at any point in time, you don’t actually know how many documents are being stored in your database and what their composition is  you need to iterate over all keys matching the type of document you are searching for until you exhaust your inputs. Coming back to our email analytics example, if you store a document in the database for each email being sent, it isn’t feasible to compute statistics over this data by iterating through the entire dataset each time you need to show a statistic. For example, if you want to count the number of emails being sent to a particular user you would need to iterate over the data item by item and roll-up the numbers. The problem gets worse when you need more complex statistics or when your data is distributed across different machines. Hadoo and MapReduce provide great tools for running batch jobs to compute statistics, but is not nearly performant enough for real-time analytics. We needed something different.

Elasticsearch

 

Elasticsearch is primarily a text search platform. It is built on top of the Apache Lucene text search engine that builds a reverse index of all the words in your document. Think of the reverse index as an index in a book. If you flip to the end of a textbook you might see entries like the following.

“`

cloud[12-35], 45, 50

computing67, [84-99]

“`

This short snippet from an index says that the word “cloud” can be found on pages 12 to 35, and also on pages 45 and 50 and that the word “computing” can be found on page 67 and also on pages 84 to 99. Given an index in a book, finding all of the pages containing a particular word is a fast operation. The index tells you exactly where to look! Elasticsearch works the same way. For each document inserted into the database, Elasticsearch builds a reverse index mapping a term in your document to a location in the database where the document can be found. Now when we query for a particular term, Elasticsearch immediately knows which documents are being returned; it looks in its index to know exactly where they are.

Elasticsearch takes this idea one step further with aggregations. A search with an attached aggregation first returns all the results of the search and places those results in appropriate buckets for the aggregation being computed. Then, within all documents of a bucket, an aggregate statistic is calculated. For example, you can define a search query to return all documents referencing the word “cloud.” Then within all of those documents, calculate the sum of the documents returned. Elasticsearch does this by executing your query and loading each document matching the query into a bucket. Once your document is in the bucket, the aggregation sums the documents and returns your result, without having to iterate over all data in your database. This concept allows you to compute multiple aggregations during a single query; the documents returned during your query can be placed in multiple buckets matching the aggregations being performed and each aggregation calculated concurrently. For example, you can use Elasticsearch to query for all emails being sent to a particular user and compute multiple statistics over the returned data during a single request. The end result is near real-time analytics over your data.

Rolling out Elasticsearch

 

After evaluating Elasticsearch and its suitability for this job, we decided to roll it out for production use at Vendasta. Our previous experience with Google App Engine as a managed service meant we did not have to deal with provisioning or monitoring servers. As a company, moving to a non-managed database like Elasticsearch put us in less travelled territory. We needed to procure our own secure cluster of virtual machines serving Elasticsearch for production use cases.

An Elasticsearch cluster is comprised of machines taking on one or both of two roles: “Master” or “Data.”  Each node in your cluster must be assigned a role and becomes part of the entire cluster’s configuration for data-sharing and replication, as well as quorum size. We experimented (and continue to experiment) with different cluster arrangements. We currently deploy a six node cluster with three “Master” nodes and three “Data” nodes. These are distributed across Compute Engine environments in the US Region so that each Zone has a single “Master” and single “Data” node.

Once we had a clearer picture of the cluster arrangement, we set to work automating the deployment, management and security using custom Docker containers defining an Nginx proxy as a security layer over top of an Elasticsearch server. Nginx is configured to keep a constant connection open to Elasticsearch to minimize connection setup and teardown latency. Kubernetes is used for resiliency of the Docker containers and data replication is handled by the Elasticsearch cluster itself. Our Docker images are being stored and served from Google Cloud Storage, keeping network requests within Google’s network to reduce latency. Logs from these virtual machines are sent to Google Cloud Monitoring, which allows querying log data across all nodes in our cluster. We continue to optimize our monitoring and deployment strategy as new problems and solutions emerge.

Conclusions

 

We now have another tool in our data storage and processing workflow that can compute near real-time analytics on stored data. From conception to delivery, deploying an Elasticsearch cluster involved a lot of collaboration and discussion. By moving to a non-managed service, Vendasta has solidified its expertise in deploying, managing and monitoring custom computing environments. This expertise will continue to pay dividends as we constantly explore new ways to deliver value to our customers through technological innovation.

Like to talk tech? Check out Kevin’s website at sookocheff.com 

4 Tips to Create the Best Subject Lines

The subject line of an email is your first interaction with your reader. These few words are essential for the reader when making that split second decision — open or delete? According to Convince and Convert, 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone. Here are four quick tips to get you started building out useful email campaigns.

Make it straight forward

Your inclination might be to make a really funny subject line, or something shocking enough to grab your reader’s attention. While you need to know your audience, this is usually not the best route. Set your readers’ expectations — tell them exactly what they will find inside. This might sound crazy, but because it’s a subject line, it should tell readers about the subject of the email.

Don’t sound spammy

Even if what you are offering is 10% off a product or service, it usually doesn’t help to include it in the subject line. People receive way too much email to allocate a lot of time to being discerning. So if you and nine others email about “a FREE gift!”, it would appear obvious that your chances of having your email opened drop significantly. Nearly 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line (Convince and Convert).

Include names

MailChimp analyzed over 40 million emails sent through their software. The ones with the best open rates — 60% – 87% — almost always included the company name of the sender. In fact, of the top 20 best email subject lines, only three did not contain the sending company’s name — check out the graph on their site. The name of the sender and the reply-to email are also very important. According to Convince and Convert, 43% of email recipients click the spam button based on the email “from” name or email address.

Keep it short

Even if you have the best, most straightforward and relevant subject line, if people can’t read it, you might as well have written “I have the privilege of transferring you 7 million dollars!” Try to keep your subject lines under eight words, as anything over 40 characters has the potential of getting cut off. More than ever before, email is being opened on a mobile device, which means that staying under five words is ideal.

Of course, not everyone is going to respond to subject lines the same. It’s important to be constantly testing and trying new iterations to see what gets the best open and click through rates for your target audience.

How can we help?

 

With our new MAST 10X tool, agencies can send targeted email campaigns to their customers to quickly identify those who are ready to buy digital. We’re constantly testing and iterating the subject lines of this primary campaign. For many reasons, including the subject line, we’ve been able to reach open rates of over 50%, while average industry open rates for marketing, advertising and PR firms stand at 10.37%, according to Constant Contact. That means nearly five times the number of people opening your emails.

Visit our Content Library to see a 10X case study and learn more.

 

5 Steps to the Best Online Presence

We hear a lot about businesses needing an online presence. They need listings, social media and review sites, and all that’s overwhelming for many business owners. Here, we break it down into five simple steps to establish — and maintain — the best online presence possible.

First, What is Online Presence and Why do Businesses Need It?

 

What is online presence anyway? It is the full sum of everything a business is doing online. It’s a combination of their website, every listing online, every social site, every review site, and everywhere they’ve been mentioned online. It is, quite literally, everywhere they’re found online.

Businesses need online presence because that’s where their customers are. Customers are reaching for a computer or smartphone to find information about a business, instead of a phone book or newspaper, all before they set foot in a building!

Build a Business’s Presence in 5 Easy Steps

 

Step One: Make a Plan

This plan doesn’t have to take weeks or months; it can actually be accomplished pretty quickly. First, determine the business’s goals relating to online presence. Do they want more new customers, or to keep current ones coming back? Second, get a website. Your website acts as your online homebase. Third, get their listings out there. Start with the big ones like Google+ and Bing, then start creating listings on smaller, more local sites. Vendasta’s Listing Distribution service automates this process for you, if you don’t want to spend hundreds of hours building this list.

Step Two: Get Social

There are so many social media sites available, and their purposes differ greatly. Evaluate these social sites against the business’s goals and pick a few to try out. A good start might be Facebook, Twitter and Google+. If it’s appropriate, expand to sites such as Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn.

socialll

Once you’re there, start building a community. Connect the business’s social profiles to their website, and their website to their social profiles for cross traffic. Invite current customers to follow social profiles and interact with other businesses in the area or field to further grow that community. Posting relevant content on a consistent basis will keep fans interested, which will help in building that online community.

Step Three: Be Consistent and Provide Value

When posting information to these social sites, make sure it is consistent with business goals and values, while also providing value to followers. This goes for any content, whether it’s information you’re creating, or anything you’re sharing from others on the web. Aim for issuing quality posts and information over the quantity of posts you’re making. Also, be engaging! Ask questions and start conversations with fans.

Step Four: Stay Active

When posting to the business’s social media and website, create a realistic schedule for yourself. If you’re always very busy, don’t make a plan to post every day; instead try once a week. Set up a schedule that works for both you and the business. If this still seems to be too much, try writing posts when you can and scheduling them for later. The more active you are on social profiles, the better and more engaged the business appears.

Step Five: Monitor

Keep track of the traffic passing through the website, and stats from social profiles, such as followers, likes, shares, and retweets. These numbers will help you to see what is working. Remember, building an audience takes time. If you’re not seeing an immediate spike in your numbers, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Give your current plan at least a month before making any major strategic changes.
Building online presence is an ongoing, ever evolving process. Keep evaluating your plan and make adjustments as needed. With a strong online presence, you’re sure to keep your business clients ahead of the competition, while they enjoy an increase in customers and traffic.

Doing this alone isn’t easy. It’s not even recommended. There are many tools and software available to help you provide businesses with the best online presence. We think ours is the best, of course.

The Best Adjustments Your Business Can Make This Year

As published on ShellyPalmer.com

The post-holiday months see many Americans promise themselves smaller waistlines, bigger bank accounts and more active treadmills. So whether personally you’ve decided to fall in love or cut down on your red meat intake, as a business there’s one “resolution” you can’t afford not to make: building your online presence.

Go to Your Customers

But where are they? They’re on social media; compulsively checking their email; playing games online; reading news on a tablet; getting directions from their smartphones. The short version: they’re online. And they’re online now more than ever, much in part due to mobile devices. Over the past decade, there has been a not-so-gradual shift in media. In 2013, US adults spent more time on digital media than on television for the first time ever.

As consumers and potential customers continue to spend more time online, companies continue to increase their spending on digital advertising. In 2014, companies planned to increase their digital marketing budgets by an average of 27%. That number is sure to increase for 2015. The CMO Council predicts that within the next four years, digital ads will account for 33% of total advertising revenue. This number would nearly mirror television numbers. TV advertising is on par to generate $173.7 billion worldwide in 2014, and that number will increase to $214.7 billion in 2018. In that same four year period, internet advertising is expected to grow from $133 billion to $194.5 billion.

Make sure you’re not left behind, spending all your marketing budget on traditional media when your customers are more likely to be on Facebook than listening to the radio.

What Can You Do?

 

While making sure your physical doorway is welcoming is important, keeping your virtual doorway impeccable is far more critical. Here are some tips to help you diligently maintain your online profile.

  • 1. Make sure you have a mobile-responsive website. Mobile ad spending forecast to increase from $8.4 billion in 2012 to almost $37 billion in 2016 on smartphones and tablets.
  • 2. Be active on social media (that includes listening, not just one-way projecting). Social marketing budgets will double in the next five years.
  • 3. Post relevant content to your social channels. 42% of marketers say Facebook is critical or important to their business.
  • 4. Respond to reviews in a timely manner. 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
  • 5. Ensure your contact information is accurate across the web. 85%of consumers use the internet to find local businesses.
  • 6. Monitor your competition — know what they are doing online. Understand how your business and your competitors are perceived by customers.
  • Like any new year’s resolution, building and maintaining your online presence isn’t easy. It takes time, hard work and a conscientious effort. The rewards, however, will be felt in customer satisfaction, revenue growth and customer acquisition. As with anything, if you can’t manage it on your own (and you likely shouldn’t, because you have a business to run), reach out to people in your company, new software and other tools to help you build your online presence.

Redesigned Location Dashboard and Salesperson Information

Just like the title says, we’ve redesigned some of our pages in Business Center. We’re excited, and you should be too! Why? Because these changes were made solely to make selling easier for our partners. These changes are set to go live in less than a week, so hold your breath.

This redesigned location dashboard gives a thorough breakdown of the business’ profile, and provides salesperson contact information at the bottom.  

Business Center Dashboard

If a customer clicks on a product they have yet to purchase, they will be directed to the new in-product marketing landing pages. When a client views a landing page, the hotness rating in the Sales Tool will increase, indicating to your salesperson that the client is interested. That means, if you’re selling our software and one of your customers indicates interest in a product they have not yet purchased, you’ll be alerted. Since you already know they’re looking for a solution, this is the best time to work on that pitch you’ve been practicing in the shower. 

Yesterday we sent out this video to tell our partners about these changes, and now we’re ready to share it with the world! Or at least our blog subscribers. While the changes in our software are the most exciting part, they are closely rivalled by the on-screen capabilities of two of Vendasta’s finest. We’re thinking about entering the video into some festivals.

Product Insider 5

Zomato Acquires Urbanspoon to Forge into North American Market

On January 12, Zomato acquired Urbanspoon for an alleged $60 million. Founded in New Delhi in 2008, Zomato has acquired six local restaurant search companies in the past six months, but taking over Urbanspoon — founded in Seattle in 2006 — is their first US acquisition.

“We felt joining forces with Urbanspoon would be the best way to turbocharge our growth and make our way into the US, Canada and Australia. Without question, this will also help us take significant strides forward in the markets we’ve been sharing with Urbanspoon so far – the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland,” said Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal on a Zomato blog post.

Currently, Zomato operates in more than 20 countries across the globe, and now counts more than 330,000 listed restaurants in Canada, Brazil, Ireland and other countries. Last year, Urbanspoon boasted an audience of 30 million unique visitors monthly, and Zomato is said to have posted similar numbers. This acquisition, then, should give Zomato a running head start to claiming the North American market.

This infographic, also posted on the Zomato blog, illustrates what kind of audience growth $60 million can buy.

zomato infographic

 

What’s Next?

A fight.

Zomato’s CEO and founder is ready to go head-to-head with review giant Yelp. “We’re going to be picking [a fight] with Yelp. In the market they have dominated for so long. After all, like Mark Twain famously said, it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” said Goyal on a Zomato blog post.

zomato yelp

Zomato versus Yelp could prove to be a very worth battle. The acquisition will more than double Zomato’s traffic from 35 million monthly visits to 80 million, which will begin to close on Yelp’s own statistic of 139 million.

 

 

 

 

 

Google+ is More Than it Seems

The average Google search engine user takes a number of the results they see for granted. They assume Google+ is just another Google bid to compete with Facebook, and don’t realize how much value it adds to their search results. But for both businesses and consumers, the value can be enormous. The Google+ platform has gone through a number of iterations in the past few years with the search giant seeking to find the one account to rule them all! Now their consolidation is complete, and it is easier than ever to “Google My Business.” Well, not my business, but you and your clients’ businesses. And Vendasta is here to help all along the way.

Google+ has a (relatively) new dashboard, that brings together Search, Maps, Google+ Business Places, Insights, Reviews, Hangouts and even Analytics and AdWords into a single clean interface.

G+ 1

Why do your clients need a presence on Google+? The simple answer is that Google loves Google. They promote their own organic and interactive search results to be higher in Google results. Or in the case of most Google+ information — right at the top of your search results!
You need to ensure that your client’s information is correct on Google+ and beyond.

With their search for mastery over the search engine world, Google now has 75% of the search engine share, though according to Business Insider, this could drop more in the coming years. So what is better than Google? Bringing Google together with everything else! This is where Vendasta can help. Vendasta allows for integration with every aspect of how Google promotes a business to the world. From one platform you can push out information to many of the services that Google offers, as well as the other major social and listing sites, all at the same time.

We allow you to build an audience and connect with them by responding to reviews, and managing all your social posting from a single dashboard.

image

Many of the top factors negatively affecting a businesses search results in 2014 involved incorrect or missing listing NAP (name, address, phone number) data. Vendasta can help you ensure your NAP data is accurate on Google+ and across the board.
G+3

Regardless of their attempts at simplification, it can sometimes be difficult to keep straight what each Google service does for you and where its information appears to the public. If you don’t have time to sort through all of the information, Vendasta has a digital agency that is available to do the work of getting Google+ set up for your business clients, posting relevant information to their followers on your behalf, and responding to reviews in cognito. Vendasta can be a Manager for a business’ Google reputation, allowing them to get the most out of their Google+ account.
However you do it, make the most of Google+ by ensuring information is accurate and up to date, and actively engaging followers through your posts and reviews.

1 2 3 24  Scroll to top