On the Grapevine...

All posts by Melissa Albano-Davis

About Melissa Albano-Davis

Melissa has been building successful marketing campaigns for local, regional, and national clients for more than 12 years. She began her career in advertising and event marketing with Simon Malls and moved onto digital agency work at the start of the search engine and social media marketing revolution in 2006. In 2009, she started Grapevine Marketing to fill a need in the market for a solution to one of the biggest issues facing most marketing departments: converting marketing and advertising activity into trackable sales opportunities, and reducing advertising budget waste by focusing only on the high return-on-investment programs. She is certified by Google, Hubspot, and Constant Contact, and speaks on the topics of inbound marketing, social media, SEO, and email marketing to business and non-profit audiences. Melissa writes a monthly series for the New Hampshire Business Review on Inbound Marketing topics, and is a member of Tomorrow’s Women Today in Boston, and the TechWomen | TechGirls initiative in New Hampshire.

Developing Buyer Personas for Higher Education

Higher Education Buyer PersonasHigher education is more competitive than it has ever been. With public and private colleges and universities, online colleges and universities, trade and vocational schools, community colleges and everything in between vying for the attention of today’s students, it is increasingly difficult to attract and enroll the best students for your school.

So how do you attract the best students? First, you need to know exactly who they are, what they do, where they go, and what they are most likely respond to. It all starts with the development of higher education buyer personas.

The problem with many college marketing programs is that they treat all prospective students the same. They develop marketing materials around what the school has to offer and then push them out through various channels without giving much thought to how they could tailor messaging to the interests of particular groups of students, and how the message corresponds to the channel that is being used to deliver it. For example, some students may be enticed by the prestige of a university while others are drawn by the future career opportunities it promises. The same university may attract those who are financially conscious, as perhaps it provides more value to its graduates in the potential for higher lifetime salaries, or it may gain the attention of those who seek to complete their degree in a shorter period of time or online from home. How could that university possibly tailor their message to ALL of these types of students while maintaining its core message and adhering to its brand identity?  Continue reading

In Marketing, Timing Is Everything

These days, messages move at the speed of light. During the presidential debates, memes and hashtags of the candidates’ comments become trending topics before they even have time to take a breath at the end of their sentence. A few hours later, those same statements have been analyzed, Twitter streams sorted through, and the morning news programs have built an entire segment around the topic. Twelve hours later, we’ve all moved onto the next story, as this has already become old news. Any regular viewer of ABC’s Shark Tank knows that the key to success for a featured entrepreneur is having a website and production system capable of handling the massive amounts of traffic they will receive during the one-hour airing of the program, regardless of whether they land a deal with the investors or not. The point is, for businesses that are able to move on a dime and capitalize on real-time conversations, there is a tremendous opportunity to be had. But if you miss that window, you’ll miss the opportunity.

timely marketingRecently, news came out that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, America’s answer to royalty, had filed for divorce. News of the breakup hit every news station and Facebook and Twitter feed – Brad was soon to be eligible again! Within a couple days, Norwegian Airlines placed a print ad in the newspaper: Brad is single. Los Angeles. From/one way, incl. taxes £169*

No fanfare, no need for an explanation. The message was simple, the timing was perfect, and when you saw it, you got the point. In fact, I didn’t even see it in print. I saw it on a friend’s Facebook profile because someone else who saw it in print thought it was so amusing that she took a photo of it and shared it on social media. And the power of social media has now taken a PRINT AD viral on social media. Think of the millions of unpaid views this message has now seen. Brilliant.

So how do you do it if you’re not Norwegian Airlines? Can you position your business to take advantage of timely marketing opportunities? Absolutely, the key is to be ready and able to move on a dime.  Continue reading

This Phrase Is The Kiss Of Death For Your Website Redesign

website redesign mistakes‘Just Be Creative’.

Marketers, web developers, and graphic designers shudder at this commonly-delivered phrase in meetings with clients. There’s nothing wrong with creativity in design of course, and you want your website to stand out from the sea of other similar companies and organizations. The problem is not with the idea of being creative, it’s in the focus on uniqueness and creativity over strategy and user experience. ‘Just be creative’ leads the web development team and the client down a path that has no strategic goal, and is one of the biggest website redesign mistakes you can make.

Before undertaking a website redesign, there are many factors that your organization should consider. Notice that the actual design is at the end of this list for a reason: the design should work toward achieving the strategic plan that you’ve laid out and should support your goals. If you focus first on the ‘pretty pictures’, you’ll end up trying to fit your strategy into a specific design, and you’ll lose sight of the path to reach your goals.

Before you start considering new designs, take some time to answer these questions:  Continue reading

How To Monitor What People Do On Your Website

monitoring websiteIf you own a physical location such as a restaurant or retail shop, it’s pretty easy to see how prospective customers interact with your products and services. They walk in, pay attention to certain items, ignore or don’t notice others, and over time, show you the path that the majority of people will take toward purchasing (or not purchasing) from you. In a coffee shop, for example, it’s pretty easy to watch customers and notice if they are more drawn to high cocktail style tables or comfy armchairs. You can see if they’re searching under the tables for outlets to power their laptops or asking for the WiFi password. You know which drinks they are most interested in (mmm… pumpkin spice!) or which they are turned off by (was it the name or the ingredients that they hated?).

But how can you gather that same information from digital customers – those who check out your website but never make a purchase? How can you learn what brought them in, got them to click through, or ultimately turned them off before they completed their purchase?

There are many ways to get this information. All you need to know is how to ask.  Continue reading

The Best Ways To Ask For Email Addresses So That People Will Offer Them To You

collecting email addressesNow that you know how an email address can help you see what prospective customers are interested in and looking for on your website, and how it can help you build relationships with prospects and lead you to future clients, you’re probably wondering how to best ask for those email addresses. After all, asking someone for their email address immediately tells them ‘I’m probably going to start sending you a bunch of stuff you may not want, which will clutter up your inbox and cost you time in sorting through and deleting it.’ So how do you ensure prospective clients that not only will you send them high-value information that they’ll appreciate and enjoy, but that you’ll do it on a schedule that doesn’t overwhelm them? Essentially, that you’re ‘not like every other company sending out unsolicited email’? The key is how you collect the information from at the very beginning.  Continue reading