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Shannen Laur

Shannen Laur is a consultant at PR 20/20. She joined the agency in December 2014 with a background in corporate communications and marketing. Shannen is a 2014 graduate of Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
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Recent Posts

New year, same marketing program?

If the “same old, same old” mentality applies to your marketing goals and campaigns in 2019, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate how important success is to you. Without a refreshed outlook and adoption of current marketing trends and technologies, you can’t expect to outperform last year.

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Just like any structure is built on a sturdy foundation, marketing depends on a strong, ground-up approach, or all else may crumble.

Marketing success isn’t derived from a single outperforming team member, a highly efficient technology integration or one successful campaign. Instead, a strong marketing core layers in success from multiple campaigns, perspectives, team members and stakeholders.

Laying a strong foundation is easier said than done, and it requires teams to take a step back and truly gut check where their successes stand. This is especially true if you’ve been operating at a “business-as-usual” mentality without raising eyebrows.

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It’s that time of year again. Before we know it, it’ll be time to wrap the year’s marketing campaigns, report on performance and write the plan for what will bring next year’s successes.

It’s important that marketers constantly iterate strategies throughout the year based on performance. However, the end of the year presents the perfect opportunity to evaluate what worked and what didn’t— including which marketing mediums were successful.

While we’re on the subject of marketing mediums, have you leveraged the power of video? If not, you should.

According to Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing Survey, 81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool— up 18 points from 2017. In addition, the average respondent consumes 1.5 hours of video a day, and 72% would rather use video to learn about a product or service, if both video and text are available.

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It’s that time again… welcome to the kickoff of marketing conference season!

Every year, a handful of PR 20/20 team members head to Content Marketing World (#CMWorld) hosted in our very own Cleveland, Ohio. CMWorld is the largest content-focused event of its kind, bringing together 4,000+ marketers to learn the tools and materials needed to build the best content marketing strategies.

Attendees get access to some of the top industry influencers and keynote speakers (who agrees that seeing Tina Fey speak gives us serious bragging rights?!).

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Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated to be more current and comprehensive.

Lights, camera, action. Video has taken the marketing world by storm, and it's here to stay.

Think video marketing is just another fad? Think again. Our customers are demanding it, and the proof is in the numbers

  • 82% of consumers surveyed indicated that they favor live video over other types of social media posts.
  • Video content receives 12 times more shares than text and images, combined.
  • Video viewers retain 95% of a message when they see a video— compared to only 12% of written word.
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Unless you’re a marketer stuck in the Stone Age, you’ve likely heard of marketing automation. At its core, marketing automation is designed to automate marketing actions, reduce repetitive tasks, better nurture leads and ultimately, close more sales.

While you may have heard of it, are you actually using marketing automation? According to CMO.com, nearly half of all companies use marketing automation, and 91% of the most successful users agree that the solution is “very important.” Marketing automation:

  • Improves productivity
  • Automates manual workflows
  • Serves as a centralized hub for activities
  • Increases revenue
  • Improves customer retention
  • Tracks and monitors all campaigns

The best part? With best-in-breed solutions that offer a strong customer support team, it doesn’t take a tech genius to reap the benefits of marketing automation. The hardest part is recognizing your marketing needs more automation, and diving in.

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“Traditional, structured education is very important, yet much success is derived from highly motivated individuals that have dedicated their lives to the concept of lifelong learning. These individuals prioritize the creation of time in their busy lives each day to educate themselves on new concepts and ideas. These individuals understand the importance of creating plentiful opportunities in all spheres of life.”

— Why You Should Strive to Be a Lifelong Learner via Entrepreneur

At PR 20/20, we live by this lifelong-learner mindset, and professional development is at our core. Simply having a college degree or background in a related marketing role isn’t enough— instead, we stay hungry for knowledge and seek to learn more. Marketing is a fast-paced and ever-changing industry, meaning staying up on the latest trends, techs and best practices is constantly important to your career.

Luckily, you don’t have to search far for resources to help you learn the basics or master advanced skill sets in marketing. Much of the work is done for you, thanks to ample online digital marketing course and certifications. Did we mention many of them are free, too?

Check out five of our team’s favorite online digital marketing courses, all for free, below.

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As marketers, we’re required to wear many hats throughout the day— author, producer, consultant, data analyst, social media guru. The list goes on.

But in reality, how much time are marketers really devoting to these types of roles in comparison to planning? According to iMedia, the average marketer spends the majority of their time on planning tasks, whether that be scheduling or attending meetings, reading and responding to emails or managing relationships.

What if you could spend less time planning for success, and more time actually reaching it? That’s the exact thought process behind PR 20/20’s Marketing Growth HackathonTM.

When you hear the term “hackathon,” does your brain immediately go to a room full of computer geeks furiously typing on multiple computers? If so, you’re not far off.

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The shift to inbound marketing has armed marketers with tactics to better connect with leads and customers, technology to increase efficiencies, and access to more data than ever.

Access to inbound marketing data means it’s easier than traditional methods to track performance and prove ROI.

Just think: Can you really trace the performance of a newspaper ad easier and faster (if at all) than clicks on a blog post?

However, the old adage “quality over quantity” also applies to data— it’s not enough to simply have thousands of data points. Instead, marketers need to apply both structure and meaning to these numbers because without a layer of context, it’s just noise.

But if you’re anything like me (not a data scientist or mathematician), it can be tricky to understand where to start or what data points to dig into to really make sense of it all. Even with access to data tools like Google Analytics or HubSpot’s reporting features, it’s still necessary to understand what the numbers truly mean to affect performance and implement real-time change.

At our recent Cleveland HubSpot User Group (HUG) meeting, PR 20/20’s VP of Strategic Growth and in-house data wizard, Keith Moehring (@keithmoehring), uncovered how marketers can dive into data to apply meaning.

Continue reading below as we highlight 12 actionable tips and tricks to unlock the true potential of your marketing data.

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For the first time in several years, marketers are being hit with the dreaded words: budget cuts. 

According to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey, marketing budgets have officially stalled for the first time in three years. It’s becoming more and more critical to assess and report on the allocation of (a potentially dwindling) budget.

When was the last time you took inventory of how you’re tracking overall marketing budgets? Tracking budgets across a variety of marketing categories is the first step to tying spend back to results—aka the ever-challenging marketing return on investment (MROI) equation.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Amy Gallo (@amyegallo) highlights the following benefits of tracking MROI: 

  • Helps justify marketing spend
  • Aids in deciding what marketing campaign to put spend toward
  • Allows teams to compare marketing efficiency with competitors
  • Holds the marketing team accountable

However, Gallo also points out the ongoing challenges of calculating MROI, including lag time, incremental financial value and closed-loop reporting—just to name a few. On top of these challenges, it may feel intimidating to pull the correct metrics when starting from the ground up. 

Fear not marketers, for 2018 can be the year that your team finally defines and quantifies your MROI with the right metrics. First, you’ll need to compile your costs before calculating MROI. Below, we highlight five must-have marketing costs to track, followed by key metrics to calculate that will help you get one step closer to discovering your team’s MROI.

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