Marketing Minds: Monu Kalsi – VP, Head of Digital @ Zurich North America

One of the best ways to evolve as a marketing professional is to generate, collaborate, and nurture ideas among like-minded peers. This post is part of a blog series called “Marketing Minds,” where I solicit thoughts and ideas from cutting-edge marketing leaders and post them on PuzzleMarketer.com. Below is an interview with a true marketing thought leader.


monu-kalsi

Monu Kalsi

VP, Head of Digital[email protected]Zurich North America

Head of Digital for Zurich North America ($13B company) leading a high-energy organization passionate about leveraging digital, strategy, marketing, and technology to create business value and drive our customer focused digital transformation journey. Growth and results driven leader with operating experience, strategic mindset, management skills, and innovative vision to lead the business in an increasingly digital future. Holistic competency in strategy, marketing, digital, and IT management. Innovative and product driven executive with more than 17 years of progressively responsible general management and hands-on global experience across startups, global consulting organizations, agencies, and large multinational corporations in Financial Services, Insurance, Automotive, Healthcare, Consumer Packaged Goods, Pharmaceuticals, and Energy verticals.

What brought you into the field of marketing (tell your story) and what makes you feel so passionately about it?:

Marketing’s potential to impact business results and customer experience has been the primary driver for me to enter the field and spend more than half my career in it. Although, my entry into Marketing was not planned! I went to school to study Engineering/Computer Science and was working in an eBusiness consulting firm until I got a call from former manager who offered me the opportunity to join her current agency in the Marketing Tech group. The opportunity to bring technology and marketing together to better reach and serve customers sounded very compelling at that time (back in 2001) as much as it does even today. That is how I got started at J Walter Thompson in their ‘T3’ aka Thompson Total Targeting group.

I am very passionate about leveraging technology, strategy, and marketing to solve real business problems and create engaging tangible customer experiences. I think digital is at the tip of the spear when it comes to transforming the end-end customer experience and a pure differentiator that companies need to enact if they want to retain market share and attract new customers.

As marketers, we’re constantly seeking for the right tactics or channels to propel our organizations forward. Which tactics or channels have recently surprised you as a viable source of qualified leads?:

I must say that I continue to be impressed with the rapid maturity of social platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter in targeting and qualifying leads. With the activation of ‘look alike’ models and deep criteria based targeting, these platforms continue to help organizations reach their target audiences and drive them deeper in the purchase funnel.

Another avenue that is maturing fast and fetching us good results is paid media targeting. Programmatic buying and Google display network to name a couple are getting increasingly more sophisticated in the B2B space on lead targeting and conversion. These platforms combined with the correct customer journey map and measurement plan is a powerful tool to attract and convert leads.

We’ve all seen the influx of marketing technology that has been created over the last decade. Which technology has been most impactful to you as you plan, launch, or measure your marketing campaigns?:

I don’t think there is one specific marketing technology that I can zero in on. The teams that I have led have benefitted from emerging enterprise content management platforms (Example: Adobe Suite or SiteCore, content planning and collaboration tools (Example: Kapost), and social listening tools (Example: Radian6). Each of these support a different yet connected purpose of targeting and nurturing the right customers.

Looking forward… What forces (social,economic, political, or cultural) do you see having the biggest effect on your marketing in 2017 and what are your plans to address them?:

Proliferation of digital platforms and exponential growth in interaction/transactional data available to Marketers is keeping everyone on their toes today and will continue to do so in a more rigorous manner next year and beyond. To add this, many brands are still planning in traditional one to three year cycles whereas the world around them is changing almost every few months. This chase to understand data and leverage new platforms will only get worse as new smaller, more nimble entrants such as FinTech startups continue to mine and make more data, insights, and tools available to brands and their competitors.

Adding to this proliferation is the fast growth in the connected devices and IoT space which is disrupting business models and will dump even more actionable data on Marketers to digest and take action on. We are addressing some of the listing challenges by moving to a more frequent and incremental approach to planning for digital. We have also made investments in creating a dedicated marketing analytics team to collect, mine, and measure insights from our marketing data and take action from those insights. Another big force which is already in effect is the non-reversible shift with the users these days for more pull marketing than push.

Customers are increasing expecting brands to be less intrusive and reduce their traditional paid advertising, and concentrate more on creating pleasing customer experiences and omni-channel customer support pre and post purchase. High performing brands which have seen this writing on the wall are already pivoting to this new business model, while others are creating band aid solutions or not shifting at all! My team has contextualized our marketing communications and customer experiences along the customer’s end-end journey to create relevant, value add communications and capabilities. That said, pivoting from legacy systems and existing business operating models is something that will take some time and we are on the journey.

If you could give one piece of advice to a college graduate who just took their first job in marketing, what would you say to them?:

Whether they have a Marketing degree or not, take time to learn all aspects of Marketing from brand, advertising, digital, content, and analytics as none of these are siloed functions anymore. They need to all come together to deliver the delightful and relevant experience that customers are expecting these days and the business impact that senior leadership is holding Marketing to deliver.

Another piece of advice would be to be extremely curious and have openness to learn new technologies, and accept data with open arms. Marketing is more science than art these days and overloaded with data that needs to be managed, mined, and understood if they want to serve the new over demanding and digital savvy customers of today.

Finally, as the digital space is transforming itself every few months and it is easy to feel overwhelmed, don’t feel pressurized to be aware of every little change in the field, as it’s impossible to keep up with everything happening in Marketing/digital. It is, however, important to pick an area that excites you and learn the fundamentals of that category. From there, you can build targeted expertise in that space and a personal brand along the way.


Connect with Monu on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @monukalsi, he is a true visionary for digital marketing trends!

Marketing Minds: Kasey Kaat – Digital Marketing Manager @ Zapproved

One of the best ways to evolve as a marketing professional is to generate, collaborate, and nurture ideas among like-minded peers. This post is part of a blog series called “Marketing Minds,” where I solicit thoughts and ideas from cutting-edge marketing leaders and post them on PuzzleMarketer.com. Below is an interview with a true marketing thought leader.


kasey-kaat

Kasey Kaat

Digital Marketing Manager[email protected]

I am one of those lucky individuals who gets to use both the analytical and creative sides of my brain each and every day. My professional career began very heavily on the creative side, however that wasn’t enough for me. I needed to know why I was creating and how it made an impact.

At Zapproved I’ve brought my passion for visual beautification together with cold hard numbers to back up every decision our team makes. I know the ins and out of marketing automation and have combined that with my curiosity about what makes a marketing campaign truly successful to become a rockstar in B2B Lead Gen Creation and Development. Every day I aspire to learn more and be better.

What brought you into the field of marketing (tell your story) and what makes you feel so passionately about it?:

My marketing career started with my love for design. Even in high school I knew I wanted to be a creative, what I didn’t know was that my time as a designer wouldn’t last very long. After 5 years in the field I couldn’t hide behind a computer anymore constantly being pushed projects and ask to “jazz things up a bit”. I needed to know what impact my designs were making. Since then I live the data driven creative life.

As marketers, we’re constantly seeking for the right tactics or channels to propel our organizations forward. Which tactics or channels have recently surprised you as a viable source of qualified leads?:

Another often untapped outlet I’m excited to roll out at Zapproved is through our email signatures. Think about how many emails your sales and customer success teams send a year directly to your target prospect. That’s a lot of contact left untracked and underutilized. Check out Sigster, it’s a great way for marketing to not only control the branding of all company signatures, but to also run and track campaigns all without bothering your sales and cs teams to update anything.

We’ve all seen the influx of marketing technology that has been created over the last decade. Which technology has been most impactful to you as you plan, launch, or measure your marketing campaigns?:

Companies like Marketo are leaders in marketing automation and help me do my job better than I ever thought I could. I’m always excited to attend the Marketing Nation Summit every spring to find out what’s next, they are definitely a leader in spearheading new ways of thinking and doing marketing. This year it was all about ABM and the tactics and tools to make this new and exciting process impact how we think about and track interaction with our prospects at key accounts. At Zapproved, we’ve recently implemented Engagio, a lead to account matching tool to help us track our marketing impact for our ABM initiatives. Super exciting stuff!

Looking forward… What forces (social,economic, political, or cultural) do you see having the biggest effect on your marketing in 2017 and what are your plans to address them?:

AR(augmented reality) – it feels like it’s been a long time coming, but I feel like it’s becoming something us as marketers have to start taking seriously. As of right now I’m not sure what my plans are, but it’s something on my mind.

If you could give one piece of advice to a college graduate who just took their first job in marketing, what would you say to them?:

Learn everything. Don’t stop and focus on one thing. Marketing as a whole has so much to offer, do it all.


Connect with Kasey on LinkedIn, she’s a digital marketing rockstar and does design work in her free time!

Marketing Minds: Maddy Osman – SEO Content Specialist @ The Blogsmith

One of the best ways to evolve as a marketing professional is to generate, collaborate, and nurture ideas among like-minded peers. This post is part of a blog series called “Marketing Minds,” where I solicit thoughts and ideas from cutting-edge marketing leaders and post them on PuzzleMarketer.com. Below is an interview with a true marketing thought leader.


maddy-osman

Maddy Osman

SEO Content Strategist[email protected]The Blogsmith

What brought you into the field of marketing (tell your story) and what makes you feel so passionately about it?:

I stumbled into marketing accidentally. I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in business, after watching my father’s successful entrepreneurial journey. In college, I did web design in the student life marketing and design department and got to see how many different moving parts came together in a campaign.

Since then, I’ve been obsessed with the creativity and science behind marketing. I love learning about the psychology of influence, and finding ways to tell a compelling story for the brands I represent (as well as my own!).

As marketers, we’re constantly seeking for the right tactics or channels to propel our organizations forward. Which tactics or channels have recently surprised you as a viable source of qualified leads?:

Social media is an often overlooked and badly executed means of lead generation. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and even Snapchat can each be utilized to collect leads if used strategically. On top of that, paid ads make it possible to hyper-target your ideal customer, and they tend to be much more cost-effective than traditional ad spend. Best of all, you can track your ROI – not as easy to do on a billboard, TV, or radio!

My own social media channels have become an endless source of leads after constantly posting/curating quality content and engaging with my followers (and prospects).

We’ve all seen the influx of marketing technology that has been created over the last decade. Which technology has been most impactful to you as you plan, launch, or measure your marketing campaigns?:

I love any tools that help me do more with less time, or that allow me to batch out certain activities once a week. Social media scheduling tools like Buffer and Hootsuite make it possible to schedule out content for myself and my clients. Grum does the same for Instagram, though it’s a grey area tool in terms of Instagram’s strict terms of service. IFTTT helps me automate tasks that don’t need my direct input. And insights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest help me be more effective with social media marketing for myself and my clients. Cloud technology like Google Docs and Dropbox make it easy to communicate with team members and clients without endless and unorganized email chains.

There are many enterprise tools I’d love the chance to mess around with, but it’s not in the books for right now. Luckily, the vast majority of tools I need or use are very affordable – or even free!

Looking forward… What forces (social,economic, political, or cultural) do you see having the biggest effect on your marketing in 2017 and what are your plans to address them?:

I’m most concerned with social factors with regards to my marketing in 2017.

Regarding social, you may notice how Google is constantly updating their search algorithm. Oftentimes, their updates benefit the user and hurt the content provider. A recent example is their smackdown on email signup popups, and how having them will hurt your SEO rankings in 2017.

As a marketer, we could waste time complaining about how much time it’s going to take to make changes and still be effective in getting people to sign up for emails (pop ups are great converters), or we can be flexible and use the time between now and the algorithm change to determine a solution that works. So that’s what I will be doing – keeping up to date with the factors that affect my efforts, and staying flexible enough to change with them.

If you could give one piece of advice to a college graduate who just took their first job in marketing, what would you say to them?:

The experience you’ll get in a corporate role is invaluable. You’ll learn the subtle nuances of how to communicate with coworkers and (hopefully) clients. You’ll have access to training that would cost thousands of dollars if you pursued it on your own instead.

Soak up as much knowledge as you can. Sign up for after hours trainings and other events if they’re offered. But know when enough is enough and don’t be afraid to move on to something that makes you happier. After all, your first job in marketing will not be your last!


Connect with Maddy on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter at @MaddyOsman, she’s an expert you consider hiring for digital marketing!

Marketing Minds: Lizzie Schreier – Director Digital / Social Engagement @ Allstate

One of the best ways to evolve as a marketing professional is to generate, collaborate, and nurture ideas among like-minded peers. This post is part of a blog series called “Marketing Minds,” where I solicit thoughts and ideas from cutting-edge marketing leaders and post them on PuzzleMarketer.com. Below is an interview with a true marketing thought leader.


lizzie-schreier

Lizzie Schreier

Director Digital / Social Engagement @ Allstate

What brought you into the field of marketing (tell your story) and what makes you feel so passionately about it?

I was born into a family of 6 lawyers – I just couldn’t take the legal speak at the dinner table every night so I needed to do something more creative, something that gave me freedom and also something that would evolve and change all the time to keep my brain learning.  No matter what career I was in (it wasn’t always marketing) – I found myself having the innate ability to understand the consumer mindset and seeing how so many lacked that understanding and it showed in how products / services were marketed.  Since the start of the digital evolution and seeing how fast consumer mindsets are changing – it’s a marketers dream!!! My passion for what I do remains ridiculously high as I LOVE CHANGE, I LOVE CHALLENGES and I’m thrown those each and every day, now more so than ever!

We’ve all seen the influx of marketing technology that has been created over the last decade. Which technology has been most impactful to you as you plan, launch, or measure your marketing campaigns?

I cannot say one technology platform – it really is how you use the technology and how do you integrate into your other tools so you can really see the holistic picture of how a marketing program has worked or not worked.  If there was one technology platform that can do everything – I want to see that!  I struggle constantly with viewing a platform that shows you a few metrics – it doesn’t tell you the complete story.  There is so much around any marketing campaign today – online, offline, social, calls, visits etc. – it’s tying all those pieces and platforms together that is the key to understand your campaigns true success.

Looking forward… What forces (social,economic, political, or cultural) do you see having the biggest effect on your marketing in 2017 and what are your plans to address them?

For me in the digital marketing space – the biggest effect for 2017 will be consumer adoption of newer technologies.  Connected smart technologies has the ability to change how marketers will permanently engage with consumers – but it all depends on how fast the average consumer will adopt to those sophisticated tools.  We as marketers all use them – but we are not the norm!! We try to stay with one foot in the future and one foot grounded in today – constantly doing test and learns on how best to engage with users.  We will continue to enhance and expand those test and learns to make sure we are always at the forefront so as to not be left behind!

If you could give one piece of advice to a college graduate who just took their first job in marketing, what would you say to them?

It is just as important to know what you want to do as it is to know what you don’t want to do! A career doesn’t have to be a linear – try things you want to try – if it doesn’t fit – that’s ok – you have gained great experience and you are learning what you like and don’t like doing! Don’t be afraid to turn a corner and not know what’s on the other side! Be adventurous with your career!


Connect with Lizzie on LinkedIn, she’s a great marketing leader and someone to follow!

Marketing Minds Series – Kickoff – Share Your Mind

One of the best ways to evolve as a marketing professional is to generate, collaborate, and nurture ideas among like-minded peers. With that in mind, I’m launching a new blog series I’m calling “Marketing Minds,” where I’m soliciting thoughts and ideas from cutting-edge marketing leaders and posting them here on PuzzleMarketer.com. I’m going to interview thought leaders with challenging questions about the present and future of marketing, with the goal of extracting nuggets of insight that can guide us all.

Who I’m targeting…

Marketing leaders with at least 5 years of experience living on the edge of new trends and technologies. I’d like to get both feedback from the top of marketing organizations and from the on-the-ground make-it-happen functional experts. I’m going to look for views from both consultants with many clients and in-house marketing teams who support one organization.

What I’m asking them…

Marketing leaders are being asked to submit free-form answers to the following 5 questions…

  1. What brought you into the field of marketing (tell your story) and what makes you feel so passionately about it?
  2. As marketers, we’re constantly seeking for the right tactics or channels to propel our organizations forward. Which tactics or channels have recently surprised you as a viable source of qualified leads?
  3. We’ve all seen the influx of marketing technology that has been created over the last decade. Which technology has been most impactful to you as you plan, launch, or measure your marketing campaigns?
  4. Looking forward… What forces (social,economic, political, or cultural) do you see having the biggest effect on your marketing in 2017 and what are your plans to address them?
  5. If you could give one piece of advice to a college graduate who just took their first job in marketing, what would you say to them?

What I’m hoping for…

Different perspectives. Each individual holds a unique experience, made up by knowledge, skills, tools, and behaviors. I’m hoping to capture some of these unique stories and experiences to better inform us all. There is no shortage of online resources about marketing “tips” and “how to” do something. This isn’t a guide, but rather practical human stories and learnings from the real-world.

This isn’t going to be perfect. If you have a suggestion on questions being asked or who to invite to participate, I’m all ears.

Why marketing leaders should participate…

Beyond empowering your marketing peers and paying it forward by sharing your insights, marketing leaders will be featured on this blog, which receives thousands of visitors per month and the content gets automatically syndicated across the web to AllTop.com, GrowthHackers.com, Inbound.org, Business2Community.com, BizSugar.com, EvanCarmichael.com, SocialMediaToday.org, SocialMediaInformer.com, and B2BMarketingZone.com.

Leaders can expect to promote their personal brands and get higher visibility online after their blog post goes live and additional sites pick it up.

If you know someone who would like to participate…

Please send them here to complete a submission.

Let’s get started…

Below is a running list of marketing leaders already interviewed!

  • Lizzie Schreier – Director Digital / Social Engagement @ Allstate
  • Maddy OsmanSEO Content Strategist @ The Blogsmith
  • Kasey KaatDigital Marketing Manager @ Zapproved
  • Monu Kalsi – VP, Head of Digital @ Zurich North America

Why Twitter #Hashtags Are Worthless [Infographic]

Twitter is a fantastic tool for disseminating information to an audience in real-time. It’s absolutely no surprise that companies, celebrities, and authority figures more and more respond to the public using this medium. Because of that, media organizations are constantly citing posts on Twitter as an almost immediate news source. Twitter isn’t limited to news purposes however as users engage in conversations, link sharing, and posting interesting content since inception.

Spammers have also discovered Twitter as a tool to blast out their messages, often interrupting real information with plugs for their unrelated causes. It’s been estimated that about 5% of Twitter users are fake and although Twitter attempts to crack down on these users, they continue to pop up. Automated tweets also adds another level of complexity to the Twitter ecosystem. The technology has it’s purpose, for example automatically tweeting one of your recent blog posts to your followers, but it also provides ample opportunity to turn a real person into a robot. Another example of a frustrating practice is thanking your recent followers with a generic automated DM, as it adds no real value.

As a side, because of all of these fake accounts I regularly attempt to scrub my fake followers with free tools like CrowdFire, where I remove followers who haven’t been active for more than 6 months.

Now let’s talk about how #hashtags fit into this story.

Hashtags are a great tool to group tweets together among a large number of users. They can effectively combine posts for an event or topic, providing an easy way to follow the conversation. But the problem occurs when spammers target hashtags in an attempt insert themselves.

I recently discovered an infographic by VENNGAGE, which is a company that provides everything you need to create and publish infographics for free. They created an infographic titled “Why Twitter #Hashtags Are Worthless,” and in this infographic they state that “while hashtags used to be one of the most exciting parts of Twitter, bots and spammers now target popular hashtags in their tweets, likes and shares.” Feel free to review the full infographic below:


Infographics: Hashtag Spam

Hashtag Spam | Infographics

Get On the Map! 5 Free Local Listings Submissions

I was recently working with a start-up that desperately needed some help getting the word out for their products and they weren’t’ showing up anywhere. Additionally, their business required that customers find them on a map. Being a start-up they didn’t have the funds to invest in some of those “premium service” offers to bulk submit and manage updates to your listings for a monthly fee.

Luckily, I’ve gone through the manual process a couple times and offered to help. In less than 2 hours, I was able to submit their business, location, and contact information at no cost to them.

A month later, their company listing showed up across the web and key maps.

Below are the local listing submission services I used. The great news is that these services leverage each other to make sure they each have the latest companies populated in their databases. Some of them are redundant submissions but I figured for the amount of work, might as well do them all.

And if the company ever needs an update then simply follow the same steps.

1) Google Business Listings

google-business

Sign up with your business information.

Mark where you’re located on the map.

google-business-add

Verify the business by phone or mail.

2) Yelp for Business Owners

Create a social / local listing on Yelp.

yelp

3) Neustar / Localeze

This submission powers other location services like Bing, Yahoo, and YP

neustar

4) Yellow Pages

Search for your business, click “Claim” or “Suggest a Business”

YP-suggest

Enter your business information.

YP

5) Express

Gets your listing on Google, Bing, and many more sites across the web.

Express

Really Good Emails (Email Marketing Best Practices & Ideas)

As you redesign your marketing emails, it helps to reference some of the latest trends and ideas from fellow marketers. I recently discovered some fellow email geeks and innovators at ReallyGoodEmails.com who have curated, captured, and categorized thousands of emails for our viewing pleasure. They take quick snapshots and categorize them them for easy reference.

really-good-emails

Some key categories below:

Discover Marketing Technology Used by Leading Companies

Have you ever wondered what technology the most innovative and successful companies are using to power their platforms, foster collaboration among their employees, or market their products and services?

For marketing-related technology alone, there are hundreds thousands of companies to choose from, see graphic:

For some great insight into these questions, I recently stumbled upon StackShare.io, which attempts to curate all of the tools companies are adopting in the categories: Application and Data, Utilities, DevOps, and Business Tools.

For example, these are the business tools used by Airbnb.

airbnb

As someone who strives to keep up-to-date with the latest marketing tools, I was curious to see what was the most popular for Support, Sales, and Marketing.

Current ranking is…

  1. WordPress – website content management
  2. Mailchimp – email marketing system
  3. Zendesk – customer service software
  4. Intercom – customer communication platform
  5. Adroll – retargeting ad platform
  6. Hubspot – inbound marketing platform
  7. Drupal – website content management
  8. Marketo – marketing automation platform
  9. Salesforce – customer relationship management
  10. Olark – live chat platform

You can also look at individual match-ups. For example, here are all of the companies using marketing automation software Hubspot versus Marketo.

hubspot-vs-marketo

Feel free to take a look as you make the decision on what type of email marketing service, marketing automation provider, website content management system, or advertising tool.

10+ Free (Yes, Even for Commercial Use) Stock Photo Websites

Sometimes web designers, entrepreneurs, and digital marketers just need some basic stock photography to elevate their website or landing page. Even if you’re bootstrapping or on a tight budget, you still need to find quality eye catching graphics and photos.

Well look no further than the following free and no copyright CC0 stock photography websites.

1) StockSnap.io

stocksnap

2) Unsplash.com

unsplash

3) Pexels.com

pexels

4) Gratisography.com

gratis

5) VisualHunt.com

visualhunt

6) Finda.photo

findaphoto

7) Pixabay.com

pixabay

8) Kaboompics.com

kaboompics

9) Tookapic.com (Select Free Tab)

tookapic

10) Lifeofpix.com

ifeofpix

Bonus Sites:

BarnImages.com

Buckeylistly Photos

Brain & Storm

Cupcake

GetRefe.Tumblr.com

GoodFreePhotos.com

GoodStock.photos

FreeNatureStock.com

FreeMageBank.com

Jaymantri.com

Libreshot.com

Looking Glass

MMTStock.com

Mystock.photos

Negative Space

New Old Stock

Pictography.co

PublicDomainArchive.com

Skitterphoto.com

SplitShire.com