December 19, 2013
Case Study

Inbound Marketing: The top 9 MarketingSherpa case studies and how-to articles showcasing 2013 trends and tactics

SUMMARY: Marketers in 2013 revolutionized their inbound marketing practices – integrating social media like never before, overhauling SEO practices, and creating relevant and compelling content.

The articles featured in today's final MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Newsletter of the year highlight trends and actionable tactics from MarketingSherpa case studies and how-to articles of 2013. See steps for improvement in the next 12 months from knowledgeable experts and industry leaders.
by Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content

Discover case studies and how-to articles representing the most prevalent inbound marketing tactics and trends of 2013 for readers of the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Newsletter. These articles explore marketers' efforts expanding and experimenting with SEO, social media and content.

Within this collection of articles are details on how marketers justified changes and integrated new tactics into overall or already existing campaigns. Also outlined are actionable tactics and steps for improvement in these areas from knowledgeable practitioners and industry leaders.

Tactic #1. Social media working as a team player in the core strategy

This year saw campaigns of many different marketing disciplines with one common core strategy: social media marketing.

Whether using social media to garner content in an email strategy or as an SEO builder, don’t let social media become a stranger to your other efforts.

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways for email marketers

Email marketers were getting in on the social media game this year, with MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 keynote speaker Jay Baer covering why social media and email were more alike than different. This wrap-up covers specific ways social media can be incorporated into other mediums, and real-life examples of marketers accomplishing a peaceful — and profitable — existence between marketing silos.

"Surround your customers with options to interact with your brand, and the chances that you will be able to interact with them at all go up considerably," Baer said about using email and social media in tandem.

Content Marketing: E-commerce site moves beyond promo email, boosts opens with social media content

With email sends typically only featuring promotional content, the marketers at needed a way to engage with customers during slower months.

In order to engage with customers versus simply plying them with promotions, built a new monthly newsletter around blog and social media content. This case study reveals how integrating the Pinterest, Facebook and blog content into new "Flip Day" sends celebrating the first of the month allowed a brand-loyalty building conversation with subscribers and resulted in up to a 71% monthly increase in year-over-year open rates.

An interest in Pinterest – visual social media blossoms

Pinterest drew marketers' curiosity this year as Facebook and Twitter become crowded with marketing pleas. Pinterest, along with Instagram or YouTube, can be an uncrowded space to connect with customers. The question answered this year was, "What are the best uses for visual platforms?"

Social Media How-to: 3 ideas for building engaging visual social media

The rising popularity of networks like Instagram and Pinterest have brought focus on the visual elements of social media. Now is the time for marketers to adjust how they approach their audiences on social media.

This how-to features tips for utilizing either the visual elements of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, or branching out into Pinterest and Instagram. Use the expertise of three marketers on the frontlines of visual social media to craft your approach for the increasingly necessary visual aspect of marketing.

Social Media Marketing: How a small e-commerce site attracted 293,000 Facebook fans

The marketing team at Diamond Candles is a big believer in the power of user-generated photos. The belief meant that users creating and sharing a photo activated and engaged a potential customer, and helped to grow their Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram audiences.

To collect these photos, Diamond Candles' website has a "share your photo" button on each product page and gallery page. The team even extended this approach to YouTube where it has given away products to the first 20 customers who uploaded a product review video to the network.

While most of the company's social media marketing has focused on Facebook, this campaign is an example of the excitement marketers feel over the potential of photo-based platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.

Tactic #2. Use quality content to connect with customers

Understanding the value of "free content" can be priceless for a company. Your customers' time is valuable, and getting them to spend it with you is no small task for the content strategy. Providing engaging and relevant content for your audience is difficult, but they will reward you with attention and trust.

Video Marketing How-to: 4 tactics from a small business that generated 1 million YouTube views

A speedy, effective and SEO-friendly form of content, video emerged as an essential tool for marketers from every business size. This popular how-to article gives advice on how to generate content topics, produce and promote video content that will familiarize your company to your audience.

Social Media Marketing: An inside look at Neiman Marcus' Pinterest and blogger relations strategies

Fashion retailer Neiman Marcus created an exclusive product launch around its blog and Pinterest board using an editorial content strategy that gained 3,000 Pinterest followers in two weeks.

Content and social media success is usually judged by the number of comments, likes, pins or retweets an individual post receives. However, the more difficult task for marketers can be creating long-term content and stories to keep followers interested far beyond one post.

"We really take an editorial approach to our social media," said Jean Scheidnes, Social Media Managing Editor, Neiman Marcus.

A result of their dedication to quality content is that everyone on her team has a background in journalism.

"We really want to establish Neiman Marcus as a credible authority in fashion and lifestyle … we really wanted our content to reflect that," Scheidnes said.

Tactic #3. Improve SEO by utilizing content marketing

Building a strategy around content can improve not only your readability, but most other aspects of your marketing. This year, marketers used the power of content to strategically improve SEO by repurposing existing content structures or building more effective ones from scratch.

Website Redesign: Message notification provider combines SEO with LPO, retargeting to drive 81% increase in conversion

One Call Now completely overhauled its website — turning the school buses and soccer balls featured on their outdated website into a solution that would immediately appeal to enterprise-level customers.

The challenge for the marketing team was not only rebranding, but developing content and search engine optimization strategies to be more appealing to growing business markets.

The next objective for the marketers was to capitalize on on-page SEO gains as a result of creating a new structure for the website with relevant and strategic content.

On your website, Jacob Baldwin, Search Engine Marketing Manager, One Call Now, said, "every page is an opportunity to rank for a … targeted keyword, and every group of pages is an opportunity to create context around a group of keywords that feed to each other and build each other up, and create an area of relevance for our client base."

Video Marketing: Coworking space grows Facebook views from 5,000 to 20,000 per day

Plagued with SEO issues and wanting to increase its night memberships, Dallas coworking space Common Desk decided to launch a YouTube page.

Previously the website ranked seventh for the phrase "Common Desk" with Google, and searches for "Dallas Coworking" usually fell all the way back in Google's Siberia — the fourth page.

In this case study, see how the marketers improved SEO, bringing the Google ranking to the top ranking for "Common Desk" and fourth for "Dallas Coworking." Night memberships also increased by 30% through embracing short "episodes" that showcased its unique culture.

By featuring members, Common Desk created a storyline reflecting its monthly coworking theme.

Facebook Ads: How manages a $10 million strategy

Marketers are sometimes told to avoid using Facebook ads to drive traffic to their websites. People use Facebook to interact and play games, the thinking goes, not to leave the network and shop for products. If that's true, no one told the team at's Facebook ads drive traffic to its website and earn an annual ROI in the $10 million range. We sat down with one of the program's managers to understand how the team uses the ads and what might change in 2013.

"The approach we took was to treat Facebook advertising like we do any other marketing channel — as a traffic driver to our website," said Nate Luman, Social Marketing Manager,

Related Resources

Inbound Marketing: A pioneering YouTube video strategy

User-Generated Content: Video email contest increases site traffic by 13%

Social Media Marketing: Video campaign increased demo leads 63%, website traffic grew by 450,000 visitors

Content Marketing: E-commerce site moves beyond promo email, boosts opens with social media content

Inbound Marketing: Tech brand increases online sales 271% with original content and influencer outreach

Social Media Marketing: UNC Health Care boosts weekly reach of Facebook page 2,576% with live chats

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