CMOs Investing in Improving Customer Experience via Big Data, Social Media, Content Marketing

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While there is no denying the power of objective, strong and accurate ROI data, chief marketing officers (CMOs) today are more concerned with a somewhat subjective metric: improving the customer experience.  According to a study by Korn Ferry, the top concern of CMOs (34%) is the creation of sustainable and engaging customer relationships and improving the customer experience.

Demonstrating ROI was still ranked as the top concern by about a quarter of CMOs, but doing so has often proven difficult.  A survey by ITSMA and Vision Edge Marketing (VEM) revealed that while 85% of marketers were under pressure to measure their value or contribution to the business, only 25% were able to measure that impact.  Similarly, a study from Duke Fuqua School of Business, revealed that just 35.7% of CMOs feel that they can prove the short-term impact of marketing spend quantitatively, and 28.6% feel they can prove the long-term impact.

So, CMO’s may be shifting their attention, and their dollars, to something that technology has made easier to measure: customer engagement. Other data from the Korn Ferry study showed that 8 in 10 CMOs report that their organization has increased spend on content marketing, and about the same figure said their social media spend increased compared to last year.

Social media is a natural extension and tool of customer engagement, considering it revolves around the idea of building relationships online, staying connected and growing an audience.  Impressions, clicks, likes, shares, comments, and other social interactions help to make this engagement quantifiable.  In addition, the investment in content marketing represents the growing importance of messaging that is both consistent with brand initiatives and relevant to specific markets and customers.

When it comes to content, Contently found that some 54% of internet users aged 18-65 say they generally don’t trust sponsored content, but some brand content types are better received by consumers than others.  According to the chart below featuring data from a Vibrant Media study, consumers are most receptive to images and videos.

Personalization also plays a major role in creating a better customer experience and big data helps make that happen. The same Korn Ferry study found that nearly one-quarter of CMOs said big data is most effective for personalizing the customer experience.  In addition, a study by Adobe reported that U.S. marketers found personalization to be the most important capability for their marketing efforts moving forward.

All in all, CMO’s are constantly looking for ways to bring value to the business while also being able to prove that value. Fortunately, big data, social media and digital technologies provide new ways to market and advertise, and new ways to measure performance.  It will be interesting to see if, or when, metrics surrounding customer experience and engagement will be directly correlated to actual sales and value for the business.

SoMoConf Speaker Spotlight: Beth Lawton, Founder, Canoe Media Services

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For today’s Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money! speaker spotlight, we caught up with Beth Lawton, executive director at LION Publishers, a group for local online independent news publishers and founder of Canoe Media Services, a consulting firm focused on social media and content marketing for businesses.

Beth Lawton, Founder, Canoe Media Services

Previously, Beth was a regional editor for, digital media manager for the Newspaper Association of American, the founding online editor of (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and more. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Here is what she had to say about her SoMoConf session titled, “Using Social to Build & Engage Your Audience”:

What are the key topics you’ll discuss during your session?
I’m looking forward to talking about some of the newer social networks — some of those that might be “under the radar” for the news companies — and how thinking creatively can yield interesting, productive audience results.

What about your session are you most excited about?
I’m excited about getting questions — I love hearing audience members bring up new ideas for everyone’s benefit and the brainstorming-out-loud aspect of it.

Why is it important that attendees not miss your session?
Social media is still important for audience development and revenue, but there’s no doubt it’s getting more complex every day. Attending this session will help editors and advertising professionals stay on top of the latest information about organic social media reach and more.

What is your favorite social network and why?
I use different social networks for very different reasons. Pinterest has been useful with interior design and event planning, but I can keep up with my family and friends and stumble across interesting news through Facebook.

We are just 9 days away from SoMoConf so click here to learn more or register now!

Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week: Daily Deals & Digital Coupons

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While the daily deal craze has somewhat settled down over the last few years, there are still strong supporters of this marketing tactic.  And with the proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices, digital coupons are becoming more widespread and offer conveniences that paper coupons can’t.

Some marketers find that daily deal websites are ideal for introducing new products, brands or businesses to the market. People tend to be more willing to try something new if there is a deal attached to it, rather than pay full price for something they aren’t sure about.

All in all, people like discounts and here are some stats on how daily deals and online coupons are functioning in the marketplace:

  • 53% of SMBs said daily deals are the most effective technology tool in attracting new customers. (Constant Contact)
  • 80% of marketers have no plans to use daily deal sites, such as Groupon or LivingSocial, in the near future. (Social Media Examiner)
  • More than 70% of digital coupon users will use a mobile device to redeem a discount in 2014. (eMarketer)
  • When asked about unplanned purchases, 21% stated they bought from daily deal websites and 28% claimed they buy products they had never bought before from daily deal websites. (Ryan Partnership)
  • 68% strongly believe that digital coupons have a positive impact on a retailer’s brand. (RetailMeNot)

Be sure to check back next Friday for our next edition of Top 5 Local Ad Stats of the Week. Have a great weekend!

Shift to Video Continues with New Yelp and Facebook Updates

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Video continues to take a central role online for consumers and publishers.  A 2014 Cisco study predicts that by 2018, 79% of all Internet traffic will be video – and Yelp and Facebook are working to accelerate that growth.

Yelp recently introduced a new feature allowing users to post 3-12 second videos related to local businesses in order to better capture ambiance, lighting, noise and other features that are hard to capture with photos.  Currently, the feature is only accessible on the Yelp app for iPhone users but is expected to be available for Android soon. 

Image Source: Business Insider

Bringing the sights, sounds and motion from a local businesses to the digital world is going to be extremely helpful for a wide range of verticals. According to a study by Animoto, 73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching videos explaining a product or service.  In addition, Yelp users post around 23,000 photos each day, and that kind of activity should help the review site generate video content at a similarly rapid pace.

While Yelp does provide some tips and examples of what a good video looks like, the downside to the feature is that there doesn’t seem to be much the company can do in regards to video quality.  On the other hand, poor quality videos should be less a reflection of the business and more so of the uploader.

Facebook is also putting some effort into growing the influence and overall presence of videos on the social network.  In March this year, Facebook introduced a new video ad unit that is 15 seconds long and runs inside a user’s news feed. The ads automatically play without sound and when clicked, they expand to fill the screen with sound.

With Facebook’s often cited 1.5 million small and medium-sized business advertisers, the introduction of these ads may seem like a big win for Facebook and SMBs alike, but it hasn’t happened yet.  The ads are still in preliminary stages and according to a story on Re/code, Facebook is running tests and working to get users ready for the full roll out of these ads by showing more autoplay videos in the news feed.

“We have to get the consumer experience right, and autoplay is obviously a big deal,” Dan Levy, Facebook’s director of small businesses, told Re/code.

The time table isn’t clear, but much of the testing of the new ad format is taking place with the help and ad dollars of big brands.  The cost for these ads are well outside the typical SMB ad budget, with Mashable saying in February that ads start at $600,000.

The continuing shift towards video content for consumers and publishers alike is changing the complexion of the digital world. And this shift is only being accelerated as big names like Yelp and Facebook invest in video solutions and products.

SoMoConf Speaker Spotlight: Rick Bastian, Premium Digital Services Manager, Dex Media

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Today we caught up with Rick Bastian, premium digital services manager at Dex Media, to learn more about his upcoming panel at the Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money! conference August 20-21 in Chicago.

Rick Bastian, Premium Digital Services Manager, Dex Media

Rick has been with Dex Media for over nine years and held positions such as sales consultant, sales manager and Internet training manager.  In his current role, he acts as the subject matter expert for SEO, SEM, social, mobile, and web development.

Here is what he had to say about his session appropriately titled, “Show Me the Money,” which also features Stephen Gibbons of Entercom and Jason Holmes of Advocate Digital Media:

What are the key topics you’ll discuss during your session?
The trends in the social and mobile space today…i.e. the need for responsive design, how to promote your brand through social media and the do’s and don’ts of social posts.

What about your session are you most excited about?
Hearing the thoughts and ideas from the broadcast and newspaper folks that will also be featured on the panel.   I’m also excited to hear from the audience members on where they are finding opportunities with social and mobile.

Why is it important that attendees not miss your session?
The need to drive revenue from non-traditional sources is at an all-time high.  No other platforms in the digital space are as relevant and important as social and mobile are today.

What is the best part of working at Dex Media?
Working at Dex Media has allowed me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of SMB’s.  Also, the size and scale of our business provides us a unique position in the marketplace to have access to leading vendors and technology for our clients.

Click here to learn more about the SoMoConf event or register now!

Infographic: Number of SMBs with Mobile Optimized Websites Increases by Over 75%

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While there have been many studies documenting the lack of mobile optimized websites among small businesses, a new study from Constant Contact illustrates the contrary.  After surveying over 500 SMBs, the study found that SMBs with mobile optimized websites jumped from 34% in 2013 to 60% this year, a 76.4% increase.

In addition to becoming mobile optimized, SMBs are engaging in mobile advertising as well.  Around 21% said they advertise through mobile devices, with another 23% saying they have interest in doing so in the next six months.

What’s interesting is the way SMBs are going beyond marketing and advertising on mobile devices and using them to work more efficiently.  For instance, 61% of respondents use mobile storage apps, 58% use scheduling/calendar apps, and 51% use financial managements apps to help them manage their business.

Check out the infographic below or download it here.

LSA Member Innovation in Local: MapQuest

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This week we hear from MapQuest, one of the leading mapping brands online, that reaches more than 43 million multi-platform users. MapQuest provides Internet, mobile and business solutions delivering on the promise of helping people dream, plan, share and go wherever the map meets their life. MapQuest’s mobile solutions are compatible with a variety of mobile devices, including iPhone, Android and Amazon devices.  MapQuest is a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and is based in Denver, Colo.

We caught up with Andy McMahon, product director at MapQuest, to learn more:

What local problem(s) does MapQuest solve? How?
For nearly two decades, MapQuest has been helping people navigate their lives with maps, directions and recommendations on how to get from A to B, and the many places in between.  Though we’ve always been known for road trips and road travel, the majority of our 1 billion searches each month are for “local discovery” or within 50 miles of point of origin.  Since we know folks use us for local discovery, we focus on delivering the right information at the right time in the right way.

What makes MapQuest innovative?
It’s for our consumers that MapQuest started as an Internet company in 1996, following our legacy as cartographers going back to the ’60s.  To bring our maps online, we literally had to unplug the coffee maker and plug-in our server.  We’ve come a long way since then and these days we’re the No. 2 map provider across all devices, having launched both our re-imagined free navigation apps late last year and in April, we launched a new local interface that puts the map, canvas and details center stage.

We’ve also partnered with a myriad of organizations to expand and complete our functionalities.  From Yelp to Foursquare and to SeatGeek, we want folks to have the context, the information and the ability to transact when the time is right for them. And there’s quite a bit more in store from an innovation standpoint, so stay tuned.

How does MapQuest make the local space better for advertisers and/or consumers?
We work very hard to key in on meaningful data — the kind of data that helps us create the best advertising solutions for buyers and address pain points for our consumers.  Additionally, our enterprise customers appreciate our geo-codes that help them deliver hot pizzas to hungry consumers and get contractors through their daily itineraries.

Local discovery is certainly about knowing your options and having the information that helps you select the best one for you, but we feel our job is to empower users to make better decisions based on a more relevant preference.  To help with those #everydayvictories.

What is next in local?
We’re currently working on creating a new search experience that encompasses more relevancy factors while also learning from user behavior.  Local Search needs to be a lot more flexible and handle different platforms in different ways – a mobile user is different from a desktop user, even when that user is the same person.

At MapQuest we aggregate local information from a variety of sources and are always looking for more partners who have high quality and valuable local data.  Understanding where people are going, be it via a mobile device or even a printed map, is something we’re able to use to make the overall experience in local more valuable.

For more visit or contact Andy at

Call Tracking for Local Search: What Every Marketer Should Know

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Please join LSA and Ifbyphone for an exclusive webinar presentation next Thursday, August 14 from 2 pm – 3 pm ET.

During this webinar search experts from Ifbyphone will explain how marketers and agencies are using call tracking technology to optimize ROI from paid search. They will share which PPC ads, search keywords, and landing pages generate calls and sales – and which don’t and will explain how to filter out bad calls and route good ones to the closest store, office, or agent to maximize sales. In addition, they will show how to significantly improve marketing ROI from search by tracking, scoring, routing and managing calls in the same way as web conversions.

Ifbyphone provides the leading voice-based marketing automation (VBMA) platform that businesses and marketing agencies rely on to connect, measure and optimize sales calls. Built specifically for marketing and sales, Ifbyphone’s cloud-based solution helps companies of all sizes optimize marketing spend across all channels, generate and convert more high-quality leads and acquire more business over the phone.

Spots are limited so reserve your seat today!

Industry Veteran Greg Sterling Joins LSA to Lead Strategy & Insights Offering

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I am thrilled to announce that Greg Sterling, one of the best recognized experts on local advertising and media, is joining the Local Search Association as our first VP of Strategy & Insights.

Beginning August 18th, Greg will lead a new role at LSA designed to identify and analyze industry trends and guide the development of new markets and revenue streams for our more than 300 members.

In today’s Last Mile Advertising environment, our members are constantly asking for LSA’s help in better understanding what shifts are taking place in our industry, and determining what they can do to better anticipate and respond to those changes. Over the past year, we have made a significant investment to meet our members’ needs by expanding our analytics and insights function, including partnering with Thrive Analytics and launching the LSA Metrics that Matter Database.

By bringing Greg on board, we are further demonstrating our commitment to providing unmatched thought-leadership and strategy expertise to our full spectrum of local advertising members. In his role, Greg will improve our efforts to collect and consolidate insights across the Last Mile Advertising spectrum. He will advise corporate management for our existing and prospective members on ways to leverage LSA research to build stronger business strategies.

Additionally, Greg will frequently share his findings through whitepapers, alerts and posts right here on our blog and serve as a subject matter expert with business and trade media. He will spearhead program development and serve as an active participant at our conferences, including the annual LSA event in April.

Greg will also continue to serve as a contributing editor for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, and author his own blog, Screenwerk, on online and offline media.

Please join us in welcoming Greg into this new position. He is a fantastic partner and collaborator, and we couldn’t be more excited that he is joining LSA to build our Strategy & Insights capability.

Follow Greg Sterling on Twitter at @gsterling and visit his personal blog, Screenwerk. 

SoMoConf Speaker Spotlight: Jon Silverman, Sr. Account Executive, Platform Sales, xAd

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Today’s Social + Mobile: Show Me the Money! speaker spotlight features Jon Silverman, senior account executive, platform sales at xAd.  Jon and the rest of the team at xAd help brands harness the power of accurate location data in order to produce measurable results from mobile advertising.

Jon Silverman, Sr. Account Executive, Platform Sales, xAd

Prior to joining xAd about a year ago, Jon was a director of national sales for Digital First Media which reaches 64 million Americans each month across 14 states through 800 multi-platform products like the Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News.  In addition, Jon worked as an advertising sales executive at The Economist and was a managing director at Mediaplanet in New York.

We asked Jon a few questions about his upcoming SoMoConf session, and here is what he had to say:

What are the key topics you’ll discuss during your session?
I hope to discuss what has worked really well for local traditional media companies who are using mobile to ensure their clients are seeing increased business both in terms of foot traffic, and calls.

What about your session are you most excited about?
I am excited about all the work that Cox and xAd have already done, as well as xAd’s own success in selling mobile.  It’s a big turning point for traditional media companies as circs drop, TV share of voice getting creeped on by Tablet/Smartphone, etc…so it’s a very interesting time to include mobile in the toolbox of the traditional media outlets.

Why is it important that attendees not miss your session?
Everyone is asking about mobile.  There’s a TON of great info as well as misinformation out there, and if anyone misses this session, they might not be in a position to talk about mobile’s success when combined with traditional media.

What excites you most about mobile advertising?
The connections.  A lot of people get freaked out by the targeting capabilities we have, but once they understand them, it’s a great feeling for me.  The fact that we can glean insight into what people are searching for, and then target based on this connects consumers and business more efficiently and successfully.

Click here to learn more about the SoMoConf event or register now!