Thursday, August 31, 2017

7 Ways to Keep Up With Digital Marketing

Just when you’ve figured out the game, they change the rules.

That’s the digital world, where the strategy that guaranteed success last year could result in utter disaster today. Never has the pace of change been more frantic, and for those of us in the business of digital marketing, keeping on top of the latest trends is imperative.

How do you stay current? Here are seven suggestions that can help you keep up with digital marketing:

1. Log Some Blog Time

Every industry has plenty of bloggers. The key, obviously, is to choose wisely. If you don’t know where to start, don’t hesitate to ask other members of your team, or those in your network, which bloggers they value.

Another option—sample a few from the list of 51 marketing blogs posted by Campaign Monitor. As you move through the other six suggestions in this post, you’ll see opportunities to identify other digital marketing leaders you’ll want to follow. Chances are good that most of them have a blog.

2. Take What’s Offered

Piggybacking on our first suggestion, many bloggers and industry experts offer an email newsletter. Take them up on that offer. Instead of taking time to check a variety of websites, you’ll receive a concise collection of news highlights from which to pick and choose. If it arrives in your inbox and looks interesting, click through. Otherwise, delete and move on.

3. One More Reason to Link

If you have a LinkedIn profile, you may benefit from joining a variety of industry groups. There are numerous groups varying from general marketing groups to specific groups for Facebook marketing. No matter what slice of digital marketing you want to learn about, chances are good you can find a LinkedIn group focused on that area.

Groups provide an opportunity to follow discussions about digital marketing topics—and to participate as well. LinkedIn is all about networking and is the perfect place to expand your digital marketing network and interact with others involved in social media.

If you’re looking for a starting point, look at HubSpot’s  list of recommended LinkedIn Groups for marketers.

4. Bird is the Word

When it comes to following trends, Twitter is your friend. Two Twitter strategies will prove helpful. First, you can create a stream on Twitter with popular social media hashtags, like #digitalmarketing. Don’t use terms that are too general unless you want your stream to overflow with largely irrelevant tweets. You can see which hashtags are trending on

Second, use hashtags gathered in the creation of your Twitter stream to make a list of industry influencers. Use the hashtags that you gathered in the previous example and pick out some of the people you’ve found that consistently provide valuable insight. Run through your list daily to see what they have to say. Don’t forget—social media is a dialog, so feel free to chime in and ask questions.

5. Road Trip

Yes, social media is all about the virtual. Sometimes, however, it’s a nice change of pace to learn and network in person. So, attend a digital marketing conference. They provide a great opportunity to hear from industry experts, network with peers and leaders and—additional benefit—change your scenery and get charged up for your job.

Find a conference that sounds fantastic, but time and travel budgets make it a no-go? Be a virtual attendee via social media. Every conference or event will have a corresponding hashtag that you can follow during the conference on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Many of the best speaker quotes will be posted, so you’ll get a great overview of the content being shared.

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6. Listen While You…

Commuter? Runner? Walker? Eat lunch at your desk? All great opportunities to learn about the latest in social media via podcasts. Take the same approach here as above—as you identify industry leaders, see if they have a podcast. As you listen to them, they’ll mention other influencers, and your podcast options will expand. Obviously, podcasts are also a nice way to ingest information for those who prefer listening to reading.

7. Aggregate for Fun and Profit

Feedly - Keep up with digital marketing topics and trends in one place
FlipboardThis is another of those “make it easy on yourself” suggestions. Many industry publications offer a free RSS news feed. Choose an RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Flipboard and use it as a hub to collect and display digital marketing news every day. Find the source once, browse the headlines daily. The only ongoing task is to add new feeds as you come across good resources.

Keeping up is not an option. Tap into these information streams, and you’ll be able to stay ahead of the digital marketing learning curve.

If you’re looking for a partner that practices cutting edge digital marketing every day, consider VistaComm. Contact us at (866) 752-7707.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Measurable Marketing: A Case Study of Sioux Automation Center

The Client

Established in 1961, Sioux Automation Center, Inc. (SAC), is based in Sioux Center, Iowa. They are a global leader in the agricultural and equipment industries, manufacturing a full line of livestock feed mixers, baggers and manure handling devices to serve the needs of livestock producers.

The Situation

When conversations began between SAC and VistaComm, SAC was spending a substantial amount of money on digital marketing and getting no usable reporting, feedback or conversion details. Nothing they were doing was measurable. In fact, they did not fully understand what they should expect from their digital marketing dollars.

The Process

VistaComm’s digital marketing experts demonstrated the value of services that could help SAC get more for their money, track granularly and contribute conversions to specific keywords used in their marketing content.

The process involved hands-on, responsive communication by a VistaComm expert who later personally initiated the digital marketing revisions. To assist SAC decision makers in better understanding a complicated topic, scenarios from SAC’s own existing website were used via screen share techniques to demonstrate. These scenarios were supported by a wealth of analytical information.

The Solution

The VistaComm solution for SAC involved several important steps, the most impactful being:

  • Properly configured analytics to better track website conversions to customers.
  • Reconstruction of Google AdWords™ with call and conversion tracking.
  • Systematic recording of live visitor behaviors, the end goal being the elimination of clicks needed to secure information.

The Results

[caption id="attachment_3128" align="aligncenter" width="650"]Measurable Marketing Results for Sioux Automation

258 of the leads generated were calls tracked off their digital ads and website.

VistaComm helped SAC understand and define their audience by making their marketing measurable. SAC can now effectively manage and track goals and objectives, making better use of advertising dollars. So, how do the numbers look? In the first 4 weeks following revisions, SAC tracked 397 responses in the form of phone calls, submitted forms or website visits of five minutes or more. Responses continued to increase through week 16, totaling 1,757 new leads. Of those, 258 were phone calls tracked on their ads and website from potential new customers taking the next step to find out about SAC’s products.

And VistaComm’s partnership with SAC doesn’t stop there. Monthly review sessions are held to discuss outcomes and manage SAC’s digital marketing strategy based on conversions and actual measurable marketing data.


Since SAC began working with the VistaComm digital marketing team, we have a much better understanding of what our website can do for us. Their revisions have already positively impacted our sales and the way we approach new business.

Jason Jaworski, Marketing Manager
Sioux Automation Center, Inc.,
Sioux Center, Iowa


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Thursday, August 10, 2017

8 Steps to a Foolproof Digital Marketing Strategy

How’s your digital marketing working? Not very well, you say. Well, how well are you executing your digital marketing strategy? You don’t really have one? Now we’re getting somewhere.

Don’t feel too badly. The lack of a well-thought-out strategy may be the most common reason business don’t achieve good, measurable results from their digital marketing. It’s an interesting phenomenon that companies who have no problem creating a detailed sales strategy falter when it comes to doing the same for digital marketing.

We’re here to help. Here are eight key touchpoints to hit on your way to creating and implementing an effective digital marketing strategy.

1. Who Do You Want to Reach?

It’s hard to target effective messaging to someone you don’t know. Impossible, actually. That leads us directly to the critical first step in the digital marketing process—creating buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, created from a combination of market research and real data about your existing customers. These personas help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better. This makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, product development and services to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

define your personas

To generate these pseudo people, incorporate all the information you can gather on your ideal customer’s age, income, location, interests, wants and needs etc. In short, create the ideal buyer for your goods or service.

2. Organizational Goals

When setting goals, start big and work your way to specific. For example, what’s your organizational mission? That’s the biggest goal. Next, lay out how your digital marketing strategy will help you carry out that mission.

Then, determine more precise targets. These should be measurable and have a time element. For example, “We want to increase lead generation by 60% in the next 12 months.”

Finally, you’ll need to establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine if your content and advertising strategies are working. Cost per lead and unique website visits are two examples of possible KPIs, depending on your digital marketing goals.

3. What Do You Have?

The next step is to take stock of the digital assets you already have that can be optimized to help you reach your goal. Specific assets might include your website, blog posts, images and infographics.

Assess how these assets are currently working together. For example, are you making use of content and images you’ve created for your website in blogs. Is your messaging pointing in the same direction across all platforms, or is it inconsistent or unrelated to your primary marketing goals. Chances are good you already have valuable assets that can be used more effectively.

document your digital marketing goals

4. What Do You Need?

Just as important as your inventory of resources are the gaps in your marketing toolbox. Identify the tools you need, prioritize them and determine when you will add them. Often times, an editorial calendar can be beneficial in helping you create and manage new content.

5. Crank Up Your Content

Perhaps the most important step in the process, and certainly the one that most often differentiates a successful digital marketer from marginal performers. Effective, compelling content is essential in guiding potential customers through the buyer’s journey. Hubspot’s definition of the buyer’s journey is, “The active research process a buyer goes through leading up to a purchase.”

You should be creating content that leads the buyer through three stages of the buyer’s journey.

  • Awareness: In this stage, the buyer is just becoming aware of their problem/need. Your content goal may be to position yourself as an expert in this particular area, establishing your knowledge of the topic with the understanding that increasing numbers of potential customers will be looking to find information.
  • Interest: In the interest stage, the buyer is aware of their problem/need and just beginning to look for solutions. Now established as an expert, at this stage you provide potential solutions to the problem.
  • Consideration: By this point, buyers have decided what they need to do but aren’t certain about who can best take care of their problem or meet their need. This is where you seal the deal, making a strong case for your product or service as the best solution. Drive it home with testimonials whenever possible.

6. Ad It Up

Are you using paid advertising to increase traffic and make the most of your great content? If you’re not you should be. Here are key considerations to boost advertising effectiveness:

  • Use those personas again: Advertising written for everyone impacts no one. Know your targets and create your advertising to address them. Learn their language, find their pain points and learn the channels they use most often.
  • Retarget: After you target, retarget. Simply put, retargeting is just marketing to those who have already visited your website, and so already have a relationship with you. Retargeting is one of the most effective paid advertising campaigns, so your strategy should include ways to drive visitors to your site so you can retarget them.
  • Give content a kick: Consider increasing the reach of your best content by promoting it with Facebook ads or even LinkedIn. Social platforms have stepped up their game in online advertising and are often times a great way to target key audiences by using the insights their users provide them by using their platform.

advertise online

7. What’s Up with Your Website?

Is your website designed to provide information, or to help turn visitors into customers? Remember the Buyer’s Journey? An effective website provides value to potential customers at each stage of the journey.

8. Go Robotic

Finally, are you utilizing marketing automation? With the advance of technology, so many aspects of digital marketing—email, social media, website actions and more—can be performed automatically. The benefits? Improved overall inbound marketing, lead generation and time savings.

Obviously, there is much more to be said on each of these eight steps. Our digital marketing experts can help answer questions, assess your digital marketing strategy, and help you take the next steps.

Contact us today

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

4 Surprising Content Marketing Lessons from a Grain Guy

The news wasn’t encouraging. As I was sitting in a grain marketing seminar in western Iowa recently, the speaker noted that corn is in a sideways market and soybeans are in a downward market, with little relief in sight.

In times like this, the ability to make a decision is key, the speaker said. “Sounds a lot like the kind of business marketing advice I give VistaComm clients,” I thought.

The grain marketer encouraged us to think of developing a marketing plan like building a wall. “It happens one brick at a time,” he said. “Marketing is about doing the next right thing, one brick at a time. Without a plan, how do you know what the next right thing is?”

Top 4 tips for success, brick by brick

I couldn’t agree more. As that speaker offered his top tips for grain marketing success, I took the brick-by-brick approach and adapted them for content marketing success:

1. Lay the strong foundation.

Building a solid foundation for a marketing plan reflects a variety of factors, from the economy to the weather. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all these variables, though. Instead of suffering paralysis by analysis, work with a marketing advisor you trust, the speaker advised. The same is true in business marketing. At VistaComm, we look at the big picture to determine practical solutions for your needs, plus we place a high priority on keeping things simple for you.

2. Focus on consistency.

No one knows where the grain markets are headed. Instead of worrying about hitting the market highs, focus on consistent profitability, the speaker emphasized. Consistency is also key when marketing your business. Instead of pursuing random acts of marketing, develop a workable content marketing plan, brick by brick. VistaComm’s team of professionals is ready to help you develop a flexible marketing plan that can be tweaked, as needed, to help meet your business’s unique goals.

3. Emphasize discipline.

A willingness to not only make a marketing plan, but execute the plan, is key. Without adding some serious discipline to the process, you’ll fall victim to emotionally-driven decisions, which are often poor decisions, the grain marketing expert stressed. I couldn’t agree more. Having the discipline to follow a plan consistently removes the guesswork from content marketing and helps you achieve more consistent results, from building stronger relationships with existing clients to positioning you as an industry expert.

4. Realize perfection is unachievable.

This paradigm shift is often difficult for farmers to grasp at first. “Get perfection out of your mind,” the grain marketing speaker emphasized. “Make marketing a process, not an event.” The same is true in content marketing. There are no perfect, one-size-fits-all answers.

Since VistaComm has been serving clients just like you for 20 years, we have plenty of tools in the toolbox to help you meet your specific marketing needs. Count on us to deliver greater peace of mind at every step of the process, brick by brick.

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