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The following is a guest post by Sabrina Fenster. Sabrina is the Marketing Manager for The Shelf, an influencer marketing platform that enables brands and agencies to connect with the most relevant influencers. They currently serve businesses in the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, travel, food and family space. She's also the co-creator of street style blog, StreetScoutMeYou can connect with her on LinkedIn.

The majority of annual sales happen during the holiday season, which means if you haven’t started ramping up your holiday campaigns yet, now is the time! With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, businesses (both online and offline) can’t afford to miss out. 

While retail stores often think that the digital space isn’t as important for them, they’re dead wrong. The majority of shoppers do their research online before heading to the store and committing to a purchase. 

No matter where you go online, there’s inspiration everywhere you look: visuals on Instagram, gift guides on Pinterest, style tips on YouTube. The gift ideas are endless, and since this can often be overwhelming, many shoppers seek out their most trusted influencers for advice on what to buy their loved ones. These offers convert at a 3x -10x higher rate than ones shared by brands. After all, what customer is interested in that “Pick me, pick me!” approach, anyway? 

Check out the infographic below for tips on how to run your holiday marketing campaigns and let’s discuss in the comments! 

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Remember when Myspace and Friendster were a novelty? Roughly 12 years ago, no one could have predicted the impact sophisticated social networks would have on international business, communications, activism and culture. 

There are more than 1.23 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 396 million on LinkedIn, 307 million on Twitter, 100 million on Pinterest … and that’s just a shortlist. 

Social media keeps us connected to friends and family across the globe, informed on worldwide events, and has completely disrupted modern consumerism. Social media made the “selfie” possible, and has even given us a window into space

Brands have already realized the significance of a social presence. But, we as marketers, have yet to master social media management.

And, it's understandable considering targeted audiences are segmented across networks, all demanding relevant, personalized messaging, plus real-time responses to complaints and questions. Luckily, there are solutions out there to make our lives a bit easier. 

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The term “Big Data” has come into play more and more since 2011. But just what is it, and how is it used? Google defines big data as:

Extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions. 

An example of big data in action is Walt Disney’s use of the wireless tracking “MagicBands” in their parks. The MagicBands are able to track visitor information, like real-time location data, purchase history, information about the visitors, riding patterns and more. Disney analyzes the data to make better decisions to improve visitor experiences.

It’s not just huge conglomerates like Disney that are looking to take advantage of the vast amount of data now available to them. But, to be successful, this use of big data requires a strong partnership between marketing and IT. The collaboration of these two departments is crucial to retrieving the relevant data, and analyzing it in actionable ways.

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The following is a guest post by Jeremy Page. Page is an ‘80s music fanboy and serial digital entrepreneur. His latest project is, a review platform for experts. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or his personal blog.

In the past few years, LinkedIn has established itself as the No.1 professional social network. It’s the go-to for professionals from all industries to connect, build work relationships and brand themselves and their companies.

As a digital calling card, LinkedIn is a great platform for marketing professionals to showcase their credentials, their experience and their work interests. However, there are still many marketers who are neglecting some basic branding dos and don’ts on LinkedIn.

Let’s go through 5 critical things that marketing professionals should leave off their LinkedIn profile:

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You’ve embraced inbound marketing or you’re considering it. And now, you want to talk results.

After all, whether you’ve been inbound for months or years—or want to know what that looks like—the million-dollar question is: How do I prove the ROI of my internal inbound marketing team or external agency partner?

Put another way: How do I know that inbound will pay off? Put simply: Many other businesses have used it to increase traffic, leads and sales. More than 92% of companies that use inbound increase their traffic; 40% increase their traffic by 75%. And 84% of companies increase their leads within seven months.

There are serious considerations that owners, executives and marketers must know about proving inbound ROI. This post details those considerations and shows you how to prove that your inbound marketing is driving bottom-line results.

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Nonprofits rarely have enough hours or dollars to meet their mission. For noble work, there is always more to be done. 

As a nonprofit marketer, you want to employ a strategy that will attract, teach and inspire your supporters to help you drive your mission. The complicated part: that same strategy needs to be both effective, and executed with limited time and resources.

The solution? Content marketing. 

According to a report by the Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud, “86% of the most effective nonprofit marketers have someone who oversees content marketing strategy.”

Content marketers develop meaningful and searchable content that supporters are actively interested in gathering – by way of ebooks, blog posts, social media, podcasts, and more. By creating and strategically distributing valuable information, you can garner interest and drive results, while simplifying your long-term marketing efforts.

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"High performers differentiate by doing, not planning. Do your homework, put strategies in place, and then start testing and revising." — The Marketing Performance Blueprint

Consider this scenario . . .

A B2B SaaS company with $10M in funding and aggressive growth goals is struggling to meet lead-gen targets. The CMO fears they’re going to fall short of Q4 goals.

The marketing team is blogging 2x per week, and producing a high-quality ebook with an accompanying webinar each month. But, not enough people are organically finding the content.

What do they do?

Do they need a paid media strategy?

Are there opportunities to amplify the content via earned media with bloggers, journalists and analysts? 

Should they hire an agency and double down on number of blogs posts?

Maybe. Maybe. And maybe. 

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The Most Important Email

Posted by Jessica Miller on October 29, 2015

Tom Monaghan’s (@computertom) Seven Reasons Even Your Mom Would Ignore Your Email at #INBOUND15 was filled with laughs (and email marketing tips). The gist: Most companies really struggle with email.

And to figure out why, Monaghan’s team at HubSpot looked at more than one billion emails, sent across 100,000+ campaigns, to more than 100,000 contacts, etc.—you get the picture. The data-dive result confirmed the fact that most companies really struggle with email, but it was also filled with nuggets of knowledge for making it better.

Email timing, email address source, too much or too little personalization, and more of Monaghan’s “#truthbombs” were enlightening. But the biggest note I’ve been thinking about since September ... is that first email.

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With 1.5 million blogs producing content on a daily basis, it’s no secret that blogging is an integral part of any inbound marketing plan. Blogging helps increase website traffic, establish authority and boosts search engine rankings. 

But, have you found numbers a bit stalled lately? Maybe your subscriber count is high, but readers aren’t engaged. The point of blogging is to convert visitors to leads and leads to customers, right?

The average person browses several posts daily, yet only 13% of blogs inspire a purchase. We can’t exactly blame our readers for not converting, as they’re probably suffering from information overload.

In order to convert our casual readers into leads and customers, we need our content to differentiate. Read below for six ways to transform your blog into a conversion machine.

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I remember a session at Content Marketing World 2014 where Buddy Scalera (@MarketingBuddy) was interviewing Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi). Pulizzi was telling us how he made the decision to leave his job and start his own company. He explained his thought process, what challenges he faced, what was important to him and how that led to the creation of Content Marketing Institute.

It was one of the best sessions of the conference, until one attendee mentioned that she wasn’t learning what she anticipated based on the title of the session, How to Create a Dominant Media Brand. So, Pulizzi switched to listing out the specific steps to build your brand.

Luckily for those that enjoyed his personal story (and understood how it related to building his brand), he’s continued to share it in blog posts, podcasts, and now in his brand new book, Content Inc, appropriately released in time for Content Marketing World 2015.

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