DIY Animated Infographics, Videos, and Presentations with PowToon

We wanted to spice up our marketing content with some simple videos, but didn’t want to pay through the nose for custom video creation. My boss suggested a tool called PowToon (www.powtoon.com). Their home page describes the service as “create animated videos and presentations…It’s free and it’s awesome”… and I tend to agree.

The PowToon interface is quite intuitive and easy to get used to — a mixture of PowerPoint and timeline-based video editing software:
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  • On the left, you have thumbnails of your slides, similar to PowerPoint. Navigate quickly and easily between the concepts you are trying to express.
  • The WYSIWYG central display area shows the video elements you are editing.
  • The right sidebar contains all the elements you want to place into your video. Just click the icon and the element appears in your presentation. Drag it and drop it where you want it. Typical elements are backgrounds, shapes, icons, and text boxes. You can also use the transitions palette in the bottom right to specify the transition effect used when your presentation plays from one slide to the next.
  • Across the bottom is the timeline toolbar. It represents the entrance and exit of each element in your presentation. Control when they appear and disappear, and control the entrance/exit effect. In this screen shot you can see the little guy with the tie and his arms raised is selected. He is entering the screen after 9 seconds and he stays on screen until the end of the slide at 20 seconds.  The entrance effect is “pop” and the exit effect is “wipe left.”

It’s pretty easy to get used to the controls and immediately see results. When you start using PowToon, you are shown a video tutorial that covers the basics. A couple of other tips and notes from me:

  • The easiest way to start is to choose a “style” and start editing the placeholder slides that come with that style. But you can also navigate to other styles (upper right-hand corner of the screen shot) and access a whole other set of graphic elements to use in your video. I recommend you keep this to a minimum because you don’t want a jumble of different styles in the same presentation. But in this example the little guys with the ties were from a different style and they actually fit in pretty well with the “Infographic” style I had chosen as the foundation for my video.
  • Set every slide at 20 seconds before you start designing. That’s the maximum length. It’s easier to reduce the length of the slide than it is to increase it.
  • You can add your own graphics to your presentations (see the “images” button at the top). Tip: you can use transparent GIFs and PNGs so the background shows through (the hammer and pliers in the screen shot are PNG images with transparent backgrounds that I uploaded).
  • The graphics PowToon provides can seem kind of rigid. For example, you can’t freely scale the basic shapes. A square cannot be stretched into a rectangle. But if you think about it you can probably figure out work-arounds to accomplish your goals. For example, if you take 3 squares of various size and the same color, and you give them exactly the same entrance and exit settings, and you position them just right, you can create the appearance of a rectangle.
  • The free version of PowToon allows you to create videos, but you cannot download the video as an MP4. You can host the video on the PowToon site and use embed code to add it to your website or blog, or link to it from social media. Also your video plays with a PowToon watermark and an “outtro” with PowToon branding. If you spring for one of the paid versions (I did that, ~$200) you can get rid of PowToon branding and you have more flexible download options.

There are some other things missing that you would expect to see (the ability to move an object from one fixed point to another, ability to stretch & color objects, ability to align objects, etc.). But PowToon says it is in beta and they are actively seeking feedback and feature requests (you can check out the list of feature enhancement requests here.  I was impressed with my interactions with the PowToons staff, they were responsive and solved a couple of problems for me.

Overall I thought this tool was really great and I’m pleased with the video I created — but you can be the judge of that because here it is:

Also, see how we leveraged the video:

 

Posted in Content Marketing, InfoGraphic, Video Marketing | Leave a comment

Lead Generation from Social Media Marketing

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when your social media marketing efforts result in lead generation. But sometimes it is really easy.

Day 1: Share a Blog Post to a LinkedIn Group

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Details Matter: Notice when I shared the story to the LinkedIn group I didn’t just use the blog post headline for the LinkedIn title.  Instead I wrote a custom title that was relevant to the group in which I posted the story.  NPR reporting is a burdensome task for Meditech administrators.  It takes a lot of time and effort, and if you are paying a consultant to do it then it costs a lot of money.  So this was a really compelling benefit highlight in the LinkedIn title of the post.  If you look at the Marketo lead activity log report below you will notice that Travis never even viewed the blog post.  He was hooked by the topic of NPR reporting and he didn’t even bother to look at the blog.

Day 2: Group Member Asks For More Info

SM2-aDay 2: Nurture Using Case Studies

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Details Matter: Notice that when I posted the links to the case studies, I took some extra time to pull out a compelling tidbit for each one — a quote from the customer, an important statistic, a benefit the customer appreciated through the use of our product.  I included that information in the discussion thread.  Again, notice the Marketo lead activity report below shows that Travis only clicked through to one of the case studies but he got an important little tidbit from each of them by virtue of my commentary.

Day 2: Receive Request For Demo

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Posted in Drip Marketing, Lead Generation, LinkedIn, Marketo, Social Media | Leave a comment

7 Ways Marketing Automation Makes Life Better For Multitasking Marketers

By Bob Hebeisen
Multitasking (image courtesy of Shutterstock)

True story: the other day I stepped on a dead bird while walking home from daycare drop-off.

I didn’t see it because I was reading my email on my smartphone.

Multitasking can be messy!

We are all living in a multitasking world.  There is really no escaping it.  Paying half attention to where you are going might be good enough for avoiding big mistakes (like walking into oncoming traffic).  But it hardly lends itself to flawless execution.

Here are 7 ways Marketing Automation helps marketers multitask more effectively:

#1. Setting Up Marketing Campaigns For Appropriate Tracking

I used to work for a billion-dollar tech company with an army of marketers.  This company had the worst marketing systems: a homegrown Content Management System (CMS) and a poorly configured Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.  It made it incredibly difficult to set up campaigns for proper tracking and easy execution.

For example, here is how a marketer needed to zig-zag through the systems in order to execute an email marketing campaign:

Inefficient Campaign Setup Without Marketing Automation:

  • Create your HTML email in the CMS.
  • Separately, create your landing page in the CMS.
  • Go into the CRM and set up your campaign.  During campaign setup you would create tracking URLs.
  • Copy the tracking URLs from the CRM and go back into the CMS and add them to the HTML email.
  • Go back into the landing page in the CMS and tag it with the CRM’s campaign code.
  • Then you would import the HTML email into the CRM system and finally execute the email campaign against a list segment.

If you messed up any part of this process — or if you cut corners because you just had too much other stuff to do and were up against a deadline — then the tracking for the campaign would not work and you would have incomplete metrics for the campaign you had slaved over.  Ugh!

Marketing Automation solutions unify all these marketing activities into a single seamless process, so setup is a logical workflow and tracking is handled automatically.  This saves you a ton of time and ensures proper results tracking.

7 Ways Marketing Automation Helps Marketers Multitask More Effectively:

#1. Setting up marketing campaigns for appropriate tracking
#2. A/B testing
#3. Integration with CRM
#4. Lead nurturing for better lead quality
#5. Doing the little things right, automatically
#6. Reviewing results and applying your learning
#7. Taking a moment to celebrate your successes

Posted in Hubspot, Marketing Automation | 8 Comments

#2. Marketing Automation: A/B Testing

By Bob Hebeisen

Multitasking (image courtesy of Shutterstock)Part 2 of 7…Here are 7 ways Marketing Automation helps marketers multitask more effectively:

#1. Setting up marketing campaigns for appropriate tracking
#2. A/B testing
#3. Integration with CRM
#4. Lead nurturing for better lead quality
#5. Doing the little things right, automatically
#6. Reviewing results and applying your learning
#7. Taking a moment to celebrate your successes

In the example I used earlier when discussing setting up a campaign with a poorly integrated CMS and CRM, the process was difficult and convoluted for setting up even a simple campaign.  Now, imagine you wanted to do something more interesting like:

  • Track results by source (so you could determine the effectiveness of one list vs. another list)
  • Test two different offers
  • Test an email subject line variation
  • Test a landing page headline variation
  • Test a long lead capture form vs. a short form on the landing page
  • Test different segmentation options on your lists…

Any of these variables might be an important factor for maximizing the ROI of your marketing effort.  But in an inefficient system like the one described earlier, employing testing discipline made a difficult campaign setup task explode with complexity.  It was so onerous to set up testing that we often just didn’t bother to do it.  We would just go with our “gut” instincts of what we thought would produce the most leads.  Lack of Marketing Automation absolutely contributed to a lack of optimization of our marketing efforts at that company.

Conversely, with Marketing Automation, A/B testing is simple to set up and measure.  See the screen shots for an example.

The banner at the bottom of the blog post pictured is called a “CTA” (“call to action”) in HubSpot. When you click the banner you go to a lead capture landing page. This CTA is set up to alternate two different banners, each one promoting a different offer. Half the site visitors see banner A, and the other half see banner B.

Here is HubSpot’s CTA dashboard showing the results of this A/B test. You can see that one banner is producing more clicks and more submissions.

7 Ways Marketing Automation Helps Marketers Multitask More Effectively:

#1. Setting up marketing campaigns for appropriate tracking
#2. A/B testing
#3. Integration with CRM
#4. Lead nurturing for better lead quality
#5. Doing the little things right, automatically
#6. Reviewing results and applying your learning
#7. Taking a moment to celebrate your successes

Posted in A/B Testing, Hubspot, Marketing Automation | 5 Comments

#3. Marketing Automation: Integration With CRM

By Bob Hebeisen

Multitasking (image courtesy of Shutterstock)Part 3 of 7…Here are 7 ways Marketing Automation helps marketers multitask more effectively:

#1. Setting up marketing campaigns for appropriate tracking
#2. A/B testing
#3. Integration with CRM
#4. Lead nurturing for better lead quality
#5. Doing the little things right, automatically
#6. Reviewing results and applying your learning
#7. Taking a moment to celebrate your successes

Have you ever generated a ton of leads, and then proudly walked down to the sales bullpen and have your sales reps tell you the leads were junk?  Well Marketing Automation can help with that too.

Marketing Automation solutions typically easily integrate with SalesForce.com and other major CRM systems.  So your leads can be flowed automatically into the CRM, and the leads stay synchronized as you continue to execute marketing and sales activities against the contacts.

Have you ever had to manually upload leads into your CRM?  Or manually export leads from the CRM to use for a marketing campaign?  Or manually updated a bunch of contacts in the CRM to reflect the fact that a marketing activity was just executed against them?

If you have, then you know that it is possible, but it is often not easy, and it can easily sink half your day each time you do it (or it can be so unpleasant that it gets put on the back burner and delayed for a long time).  So having your marketing activities automatically synched with your CRM is an immeasurable benefit.

Another advantage of having your Marketing Automation and CRM systems integrated is that metrics continue to be tracked as the sales team works leads and updates the status.  So you can measure the effectiveness of your campaigns at a deeper level — not just cost per lead, but cost per opportunity, or cost per sale, or cost per customer lifetime value.

Next time your sales reps tell you that your leads are lousy, you can actually run a report to see if the data supports that assertion!

7 Ways Marketing Automation Helps Marketers Multitask More Effectively:

#1. Setting up marketing campaigns for appropriate tracking
#2. A/B testing
#3. Integration with CRM
#4. Lead nurturing for better lead quality
#5. Doing the little things right, automatically
#6. Reviewing results and applying your learning
#7. Taking a moment to celebrate your successes

Posted in Hubspot, Marketing Automation | 6 Comments

#4. Marketing Automation: Lead Nurturing For Better Lead Quality

By Bob Hebeisen

Multitasking (image courtesy of Shutterstock)Part 4 of 7…Here are 7 ways Marketing Automation helps marketers multitask more effectively:

#1. Setting up marketing campaigns for appropriate tracking
#2. A/B testing
#3. Integration with CRM
#4. Lead nurturing for better lead quality
#5. Doing the little things right, automatically
#6. Reviewing results and applying your learning
#7. Taking a moment to celebrate your successes

Propel prospects down the sales funnel and along “The Buyer’s Journey” by sending them a systematic sequence of offers and content.

Another way to drive higher lead quality is through lead nurturing. After the initial lead is captured, “drip” a sequence of emails to grow the relationship with the prospect and guide them down “The Buyer’s Journey.” Pass the leads to sales only after they are mature and closer to a buying decision.

Basic lead nurturing can be accomplished without Marketing Automation software. But sophisticated conditional logic needs to be supported in order to accommodate different triggers that can drive variations in the sequence of emails and sales interaction. This is the bread and butter of Marketing Automation.

7 Ways Marketing Automation Helps Marketers Multitask More Effectively:

#1. Setting up marketing campaigns for appropriate tracking
#2. A/B testing
#3. Integration with CRM
#4. Lead nurturing for better lead quality
#5. Doing the little things right, automatically
#6. Reviewing results and applying your learning
#7. Taking a moment to celebrate your successes

Posted in Buyer's Journey, Hubspot, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation | 7 Comments

#5. Marketing Automation: Doing The Little Things Right, Automatically

By Bob Hebeisen

Multitasking (image courtesy of Shutterstock)Part 5 of 7…Here are 7 ways Marketing Automation helps marketers multitask more effectively:

#1. Setting up marketing campaigns for appropriate tracking
#2. A/B testing
#3. Integration with CRM
#4. Lead nurturing for better lead quality
#5. Doing the little things right, automatically
#6. Reviewing results and applying your learning
#7. Taking a moment to celebrate your successes

I was reading a Harvard Business Review article the other day and the author turned the phrase “complexity traps and kills good ideas.”  He was talking about complexities in your business model, but it is equally true for marketing execution.

If a marketer’s plate is overflowing, instead of doing all the little things right, he is likely to go into triage mode and cut some corners on things that add complexity to his task list.

Here are a bunch of things Marketing Automation does right, automatically, so there is no danger of skipping them in the interest of expediency:

Social Media share buttons automatically placed on emails, landing pages, and blog posts

Marketers know that it is a best practice to include social media sharing buttons on the content they publish, so viewers of the content can easily share your content with friends and colleagues.  But sometimes in the haste to get things done we can let little details like this slip.  Marketing Automation solutions don’t forget, they do it automatically.

View email as an HTML page link on all emails

Creating a HTML page for every marketing email you create can be tedious.  But there are benefits to doing so, in case your email is not rendered properly by the recipient’s email client.  And also because if it is done properly the HTML pages themselves can lend SEO “juice” to your website.  Marketing Automation tools can be set up to do this automatically so it takes no additional effort on the part of the marketer.

Incorporating target keywords in your blog titles, headlines, and body copy

It is a rather obvious tactic that marketers should include target keywords in their blog posts to improve SEO.  Marketing Automation solutions like HubSpot can actually prompt marketers to do so, identifying the fact that keywords are absent from your blog posts while you are composing them.

Social Media tracking & measurement

Here’s a famous myth: it is not possible to track the effectiveness of social media marketing.

The fact is, it is just as easy to measure the inbound traffic and leads generated by social media as it is for any other form of online marketing (email, PPC, etc.).  You just need to generate coded links for each social media post so the source can be tracked.  The problem is it is a tedious exercise to create those coded links manually because the volume of social media posts is typically much greater, and social media marketing managers have simply lacked the discipline to do it.

But Marketing Automation tools can automate this process.  See the screen shot of HubSpot’s Social Media Publishing tool.  Each post can be scheduled and the results can be tracked.  In fact you can see that Social Media Marketing can produce results just as well if not better than other measurable forms of online marketing.

HubSpot’s Social Media Publishing tool let’s you schedule posts and status updates so they are posted at the time when they will make the most impact. Also, note that clicks are tracked for each post.  See more detail on how to automate Social Media Marketing with HubSpot.

HubSpot reporting shows us Social Media Marketing results. You can see that in this example Social Media Marketing is driving significant lead conversion (only email marketing is performing better).

7 Ways Marketing Automation Helps Marketers Multitask More Effectively:

#1. Setting up marketing campaigns for appropriate tracking
#2. A/B testing
#3. Integration with CRM
#4. Lead nurturing for better lead quality
#5. Doing the little things right, automatically
#6. Reviewing results and applying your learning
#7. Taking a moment to celebrate your successes

Posted in Hubspot, Marketing Automation | 6 Comments