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When’s the last time you saw a presentation that made you sit forward in your seat, catch your breath, or wipe away a tear? Not every presentation is meant to elicit such a strong response, but even a weekly team update or sales presentation can have a big impact when done well.
We give presentations to persuade people to adopt an idea we really believe in. (If that’s not the purpose of your presentation, then it’s not worth giving. Send an email or circulate a handout instead.) But breathing life into an idea requires a lot of hard work and dedicated time. Creating a presentation that communicates your idea in a compelling way requires more than simply throwing together bullet points and charts—the kind of blather that we’ve come to call a presentation.
A survey conducted by Distinction a few years ago showed that of the executives surveyed, over 86% said that communicating clearly impacts their careers and incomes. Yet only 25% put more than two hours into preparing for very high-stakes presentations.
I have one question for these executives and others like them: how badly do you want your idea to live? It’s time presenters made a serious commitment to the craft of understanding their audiences and delivering a message that will resonate—a key part of any effective marketing campaign.
For years I’ve studied the psychology of storytelling and entertainment, and experimented with applying that methodology to presentations. After all,the history of presentations is linked with the history of art, entertainment, and communication. The Lascaux cave paintings, which date to 15,000 BCE, are widely acknowledged to be the first instance in history of representing an idea with a picture. Perhaps these early ancestors were using these drawings to deliver some kind of message to the whole tribe or to create a shared story that they could celebrate and remember. We could also look to the Greeks, who pioneered the study and practice of oratory around 500 BCE, for advice on public speaking.
My point in listing these milestones is that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel whenever we open PowerPoint. We can look to the science and history behind human communications that have been around for millennia.
Take the psychology behind an entertaining story. Whether you’re watching a bedazzling James Cameron flick or listening to your friend tell you about her weekend, compelling stories must have an ebb and flow. What provides that moment is contrast in content, texture, and delivery. Just like when you tap your toe to a good beat, your brain enjoys tapping along with a good story, but only if something new is continually unfolding and developing. In fact, in both storytelling and music, the brain responds to the same underlying pattern of anticipating and achieving peak emotional moments.
When I studied hundreds of speeches that made historical impacts, I found that they contained this same tempo of tension and release. In fact, I found that these speeches had a shape representing oscillations between the current state—“What Is”—and the desired state—“What Could Be.” Moving back and forth between these two extremes suspended the audience between tension and release. The speakers used the audience’s increasing desire to attain the “What Could Be” state to build support for their ideas.
Another insight that can transform presentations comes from Christopher Vogler’s The Hero’s Journey. His concept is that there is an ancient pattern imprinted on human beings that works as a survival mechanism to help us go through life’s big transitions. The stages move from Ordinary World to Call to Adventure, and then to steps such as Meeting with the Mentor, Tests, Allies, and Enemies—and more. I found it immensely valuable to apply Vogler’s research to presentations in that the speaker is the mentor and the audience is the hero. That might seem backward, especially for those of you who have sat through or given hundreds of PowerPoint presentations. But when the speaker’s number one goal is to prepare the audience to go on a journey to adopt her idea, she will need to turn the hero into a true believer. She will need to understand the hero’s potential objections and anticipate all of the drawbacks and obstacles the hero will encounter along the way. Think Yoda and Luke Skywalker.
Drawing on different realms of knowledge will enable us to think far more critically about presentations—not to mention marketing and business communications in general. Even adopting a few lessons from other media could transform how you communicate in the boardroom or at the next sales meeting.
You could help change the game, one slide at a time.
A while ago, we posted a fill-in-the-blank status on our Facebook page. We love this type of Facebook post because it allows us to quickly get feedback from our audience. This particular post was about social media pet peeves. We said, “Fill in the blank: My biggest social media pet peeve is _____________.”
The responses were varied, hilarious, and extremely thought-provoking. The takeaway: Social media can be pretty damn annoying. So, based on the feedback from our Facebook community and our own Team MarketingProfs internal brainstorming, we came up with a list of the top eight annoying social media behaviors and put them head to head in the first Most Maddening Social Media Behaviors Bracket.
Humble Brag: Subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or “woe is me” gloss
Example: “I have no idea how to use my new 27″ iMac, #techchallenged”
Example: I love apple pie! #apple #pie #applepie #fall #dessert #ilovepies #favoritedessert #fatkidstatus #vanillaicecreamplease #love #illgoforarunlater #promise
Example: :/ :* <3
Auto-DMs: Robo-direct messages on Twitter sent automatically when you follow someone else’s account
Example: “Thanks for following me. You can download my super sweet eBook here.”
SHOUTY CAPS: Capital letters when there is no need for capital letters
Example: DO YOU WANT TO MEET FOR LUNCH AT NOON?
Oversharing: Posting details of your life that are not fit for a very public forum
Example: “Little Timmy just used his big boy potty!”
Viral Facebook Posts: Posts created with the sole purpose of getting a mass number of people to share it with their networks
Example: “Share this if you love your mom. 95% of you won’t!”
In Round One, we had four match-ups:
Auto DMs (65.2%)
SHOUTY CAPS (34.8%)
Viral Facebook Posts (69.1%)
In Round Two, we narrowed the field:
Auto DMs (41.4%)
Viral Facebook Posts (58.6%)
And the Final Round paired two Facebook behaviors against each other:
Viral Facebook Posts (58.5%)
The winner (cough loser cough) is Viral Facebook Posts by a wide margin.
So, what is it about Viral Facebook Posts that make them more maddening than any other annoying social media behavior? Chime in here we’ll wrap this up with your thoughts next week.
Today’s customer is in control, and marketing today needs to keep pace with the technology-enabled consumer. New channels are becoming important, and the flow of data from myriad of sources is sometimes overwhelming.
Your assignment today, marketers, if you choose to accept it, is to look beyond lifecycle marketing to what we here at StrongView are calling “present tense marketing.”
Present tense marketing is all about understanding customer context. Interaction data from our customers tells us what channels they choose for engagement. It is some of our most basic data, which any marketer likely has. It tells us what devices they use to connect, along with the activity they conduct, and the details of when and where that activity took place. Many marketers now analyze profile data, which goes a bit deeper to make assumptions about the demographic, sociographic, and psychographic portrait of a customer based on their interaction data. When a marketer combines the first two data sets of interaction and profile with external data, such as weather, stock market performance, or gas prices, they have the ability to identify context that reflects the customer’s current state. That allows them to engage in true contextual or present tense marketing.
On the evolution scale, beginner marketers typically do batch campaigns that have no personalization. Novice marketers, however, build in simple segmentation and personalization, which enhances the value of the interaction with their customers. Followers in the marketing landscape engage in lifecycle marketing using automated or triggered programs. Leaders begin to break away from the pack, employing real-time, cross-channel marketing campaigns that are event-driven. So, a marketing leader might be sending mobile messages to a customer based on location data.
The next level of marketing expertise is the present tense marketer. This marketer executes campaigns, which are state-aware, based on context driven by the intersection of interactions, profiles, and external data sources. This approach brings the highest value because it not only provides the customer with the right message at the right time but takes into account how external factors may influence the customer experience.
For example, a restaurant chain may send a customer an email promotion for a two-for-one lunch deal. As lunchtime approaches, the restaurant may also send a mobile alert showing its new salad choices. But, knowing that it’s 20 degrees outside where the customer is standing at the moment can prompt a more targeted message promoting hot seasonal dishes instead—if the marketer approaches marketing from the present tense perspective.
To achieve true present tense context, marketers must first understand the data that provides the contextual awareness of how and where consumers are engaging with their brand. They must employ an infrastructure that can make contextual connections as the campaign is being executed. Finally, the channels used to engage with customers must be fully integrated so that contextual picture of the customer can be reached and acted upon at the right moment to create great consumer experiences.
As we move into the holiday shopping season, marketers should be asking themselves, “How present tense is my marketing?”
Forrester Research published a report revealing how pervasive the use of social media is among B2B decision-makers in North America and Europe. Still, many organizations aren’t sure which social networks are relevant to their target audiences and worthy of time and resources.
Audiences across the top social media platforms have a degree of overlap, yet the varying features and uses of each network serve different functions for B2B marketers. So, why should a B2B marketer focus on each of these platforms? Which strategy is most effective?
Twitter can be both the easiest and most difficult social platform for B2B marketers. It’s easy in the sense you can quickly share 140-character bites of branded content with more than 200 million active users who are constantly consuming and sharing new content. It’s difficult in that it can be hard to be noticed in a sea of 400 million daily tweets.
A few tips to build a good Twitter strategy include:
Start by identifying customers, partners and industry influencers, then following and listening to them. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about your own industry by monitoring content being shared and discussed by industry experts on Twitter. Understanding what’s interesting and significant to your target audience can help your company improve its products, services, and customer and business relationships, ultimately strengthening your brand.
Commit to being part of the conversation. That means consistently contributing content (external industry content is as important as internal promotional content) relevant to your audience, using #hashtags and responding to @mentions and industry conversations as appropriate.
Extra Twitter tip: The immediacy of Twitter and the use of hashtags are beneficial when promoting and monitoring live events, whether you’re hosting or simply attending. When hosting an event, try to create a hashtag for attendees to use in social media discussions before, during, and after the event. If you’re attending a big event, chances are there’s a hashtag you should be using in your social media communications.
With more than 1.15 billion active monthly users, Facebook is the largest social media platform globally and every business must have a presence there—if for no other reason than people expect you to be there. Period. Yes, most Facebook activity is for personal use and not a strong lead generation tool for B2B companies. But as the lowest common denominator for social networks, it’s a site where every organization needs to have at least a basic presence. It can function as a forum for customer service, event announcements, and targeted promotions in some cases. Although it may not serve a strong sales purpose, it can be a great platform for employee engagement.
Most companies, regardless of industry or geographical location, have employees active on Facebook. Engaging these employees through your company’s Facebook page can encourage creativity and collaboration, enriching your organization’s culture by adding a level of fun and opening a new channel of communication. (As an example check out Black Duck’s Ducks Around The World Facebook photo album with employee-submitted photos of the company mascot in different locations around the globe.)
Why use Google+? Three simple letters: S-E-O! Social media is increasingly integrated with search engine optimization, due in large measure to the efforts of the world’s largest search engine: Google. The more weight social carries in Google’s search algorithms, the more important it is to have a strong presence on Google+ (as well as other top social sites). Establishing a detailed company page and maintaining a comprehensive content sharing strategy on Google+ will help to ensure you don’t fall behind in Google organic search rankings.
Beyond SEO, Google+ has become the world’s second largest social platform, with 343 million active users (according to a December 2012 study by globalwebindex). The tech community, generally early adopters, seemed to be the first to engage with this platform. The rest of the Internet has followed. Google+ circles enable you to group your audiences, allowing for customized communications, and G+ hangouts are quickly becoming the new and improved form of live podcasts—even President Obama held a Fireside Hangout. This platform will only continue to grow, so if your target audience isn’t there yet, they will be soon. Get started by creating audience and influencer Google+ circles to share your company’s customized content and engage the community in a new way.
Founded over 10 years ago, LinkedIn is one of the original social networks specifically built for professionals and focused around developing business relationships, making it a natural platform for B2B marketers to tap. Two basic features all organizations should use on LinkedIn are company pages and LinkedIn Groups.
By developing a complete company profile on LinkedIn; highlighting products, services and available job opportunities; and recruiting new talent, you’ll establish a platform to reach a new set of potential customers and partners. Maintaining a regular stream of posts—including press releases, contributed articles, blogs, corporate literature, event announcements, etc.—will increase your brand’s visibility and capture the attention of LinkedIn’s business users. Built-in Company Page analytics make it easy to evaluate your page’s followers and their level of engagement.
LinkedIn Groups are another key marketing and networking feature allowing organizations and individuals to create or join forum-like groups for professionals with similar backgrounds, industries, or interests to share content, ask questions, start discussions, find jobs, or make business contacts. By finding or joining Groups within your industry (or your target audience’s industry), you can have one-on-one engagement with the professionals you’re looking to connect with, while learning more about their business pain points and the topics and trends they find compelling.
Marketers also can run paid promotions through LinkedIn Ads, targeting specific demographics such as title, industry, location, and company size. These ads even capture leads for you! It’s another reason why LinkedIn is a B2B marketer’s best friend.
Although at first glance it may not seem necessary for B2B companies to invest time and energy into all of the top four social media platforms, each has a different value to offer to your company’s brand. The key to success for these and other social networks can be boiled down to a few simple steps: listen, learn, share, engage, repeat.
As the holiday season gets underway, brands across the globe are launching their seasonal marketing campaigns. The key to successfully engaging with consumers during the busiest shopping time of the year is to do so in a manner that is personalized for each customer.
Engaging through the right channel and at the right time are important things to consider, but another critical component to delivering a contextual customer experience revolves around language and culture.
Ten years ago, 80% of the online population spoke English. Flash forward to 2013, and it has completely reversed, with only 20% of the online population representing English speakers. Considering this reversal, the ability to engage with customers in their local language and with consideration for cultural nuances is something global brands should not overlook. After all, the foundation of any global customer experience is the ability to communicate in the user’s preferred language.
To execute a successful, global customer strategy this holiday season, marketers should keep the following three tips in mind.
Fortune 500 companies have admitted that while they deliver product information in up to 35 languages, they often only provide support in one or two languages. Because customers prefer to interact and consume content in their native language (understandably so), that gap quickly breaks down the experience.
To close this gap, marketers should use translation technology solutions including automated translation that enable the delivery of content across languages for new markets in real time. Through the use of translation technology, global brand values can be transformed into a locally appropriate context to drive customer acquisition and retention.
Localization goes beyond translation, especially during the holiday season, when annual holidays differ greatly based on location. When searching on your website or receiving a campaign message, not only should your customers be able to read the communications in their native language, but the content must be relevant and personalized for their culture. Whether that includes the appropriate holiday, terms native to their specific regions, or even different customs, brands cannot afford to miss the mark.
There are tools available to help marketers manage the complexity of global multilingual campaigns so that customer communication can be as contextual as possible—which includes a combination of localization services and technology to consolidate and optimize the most relevant multilingual content, multilingual SEO, social media analysis, and campaign analysis.
Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being generated per day, and 90% of that content has been generated in the last two years alone, primarily through social channels. Due to cultural and language obstacles, many brands may be hesitant to attempt to interact with consumers across alternate languages and cultures. Sensitivity is important, but it should not be an excuse for complacency. There’s likely to be a number of viable prospective consumers on social media for your brand to engage with. Don’t let a language barrier get in the way.
We’ve just begun to understand how we can effectively communicate with people who buy products and services. As the world economy becomes increasingly global, we can expect to see greater demand for localized, relevant customer experiences. In turn, it will be more important than ever to have a sound global strategy for engaging with customers. While this is something marketers should always keep in mind, it is an opportunity that should not be missed this holiday season, when consumers across the globe are looking to engage with your brand.
Black Friday started off as a single day but now has expanded into an entire week or more of offers both at retail stores and online ones. How has Black Friday expanded and what has driven this expansion? Where does Cyber Monday fit in, and where will these two days head in the future?
Thanksgiving or Black Thursday? That is the question we seem to be asking ourselves this year. In 2012, a few big box stores such as Walmart, Sears, and Target started their Black Friday hours on Thursday night. This year, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and JCPenney have joined them announcing their sales will begin at 8 PM on Thursday. A search for a larger array of customers continues to lead retailers to push the boundaries of this shopping event and to invade the traditional Thanksgiving holiday. The changes are already paying off with more sales and foot traffic for retailers.
Not only is the brick-and-mortar shopping sector of Black Friday expanding, but the online version is as well. With early Black Friday deals, pre-Black Friday sales, Thanksgiving offers, and, of course, Black Friday specials, one would think the market would be diluted and grow tired of all the deal news. Right?
A quick look at data compiled by comScore tells a different story. Online holiday spending increased 14% in 2012 to $42.3 billion with the largest online sales increases coming on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. The sales figures on these two days increased 32% and 28% respectively.
Just as Black Friday’s transitions into a Black Week, Cyber Monday is seemingly transitioning into a Cyber Week. Cyber Monday 2012 was the largest single online shopping day in US history. Promptly following this Monday, online retailers such as Amazon, Newegg, and Overstock continued the deals through Friday.
The expansion of the top holiday shopping days, particularly Black Friday and Cyber Monday, has been driven by the top retailers’ pursuit of more sales in an era where shoppers are savvier than ever and critical of every sale.
Retailers need to make unique offerings on multiple days to hook the shopper. The expansion of the Black Friday day to Thanksgiving and the next Saturday is a result of retailers luring shoppers into their stores with a few doorbusters in hopes that they will also take advantage of the entire selection of moderate deals available.
The future is bright for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving, and all of the days before, in between, and after that we now fondly call Black Thursday and Cyber Week.
Black Friday is a staple for American shoppers and there is no slowing down in sight as the deals are as enticing as ever. We see online sales continuing to increase at a minimum of 20% as online Black Friday shopping is still a fairly new concept, and many people are just now catching on. Online Thanksgiving shopping is an even newer concept and any increase below 35% would shock us.
While some analysts believe that Cyber Monday will be extinct in the near future, we see it differently. ComScore reported a whopping 17% increase in sales from 2011 to 2012 which came out to a little over $200 million more. Our data suggests growth for 2013 to be around 14-14.5% for a sales total of nearly $1.7 billion.
So, how much is too much? Are we neglecting spending quality time with our families on Thanksgiving because we are too focused on finding deals online or rushing out to get in line at our favorite stores? Is it possible to find a balance between family and getting the most out of the sales that are available? I personally believe with proper research and planning, you can have your pumpkin pie and eat it, too. What do you think?
Many of this year’s biggest marketing headlines were about video.
Facebook added video capability to Instagram to compete with Vine, kicking off a race to own the “video tweet.” Facebook launched video advertisements in its mobile News Feed. YouTube added a channel gadget to make a brand’s YouTube channel shoppable. Video consumption accounted for more than half of wireless network traffic.
We’re transitioning to a highly visual, content-driven shopping experience. Consumers rely on videos to help them confidently make buying decisions. An Invodo-sponsored, e-tailing group study found that consumer engagement is greater on retail sites with video content. Video will play a decisive role in many consumers’ buying decisions this holiday season.
So with that in mind, here are five predictions for video marketing in the 2013 holiday season.
Last year, about 66% of shoppers used video regularly. The 2013 holiday shopping season will be the most video-dominated yet, with that rate climbing to near 75%. As consumers shop online (using PCs, smartphones, and tablets), they’ll be looking for video to assist with purchase decisions and help them feel more confident. Toys, apparel, consumer electronics, sporting goods, and health and beauty will be the most popular categories that consumers will expect to find and watch videos, especially products that are more complex and may require assembly.
Nearly half of consumers who have shared retailer and brand videos have chosen Facebook, with 40% choosing email. Facebook is becoming a more video-centric experience, and shoppers like to broadcast their holiday gift ideas over Facebook. Consumers will increase social shares of products they’re researching this holiday season, and Facebook will be the dominant channel.
With consumers flocking to Instagram and Vine to share videos, some retailers and brands will become intrigued by the hype and rush to implement a Vine and Instagram strategy. For some, it will be a wasted effort that won’t lead to sales. Those who will have more success will use Instagram and Vine as outposts in a broader video strategy that leads consumers through the purchase path.
As the HTML5 vs. Flash debate of a couple of years ago showed, users don’t care about the enabling technology. Consumers just want video available on-demand on computers, tablets, smartphones, and connected TVs. Retailers and brands that don’t meet their video needs will lose business to more progressive competitors.
Interactive “shoppable video” has been a buzzword for some time, but we will see several leading retailers deploy it during the holiday season to great effect. That is only the beginning, as adding interactive elements to a video opens the door to mashing multiple content types up to create entirely new ways for consumers to experience shopping. The retailers that do best with this will be the ones that remove silos between the creation of video content and the development of interactive experiences.
If and when these predictions come true, it will be a strong indication of what retailers and brands should do with their video strategy starting in 2014.
If you work in online marketing, no matter what your role, Google algorithm updates are something that you must deal with.
Marketers are continually asking themselves whether updates will make it necessary to completely revamp marketing strategies, especially in terms of search engine optimization.
Google recently released the Hummingbird algorithm, and many are considering it to be the biggest shift in more than a decade. Hummingbird didn’t just introduce tweaks to an existing algorithm, but instead it unveiled something brand new. Keep reading to learn how Hummingbird may affect your marketing campaigns.
In the past, there was a tremendous focus on using particular keywords in an effort to achieve better search engine rankings. Now, the algorithm looks at a person’s entire search query rather than just parts of it. As a marketing professional, you could potentially view that as a change that offers you more freedom to shape website content in ways that reflect how people naturally search for things, rather than getting fixated on a few popular phrases.
Although these so-called long-tail keywords offered high conversion rates from visitors who sought relevant information, they didn’t always boost traffic. Some analysts think that moving forward, long-tail keywords will provide both good conversion rates, plus more traffic. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to start incorporating long-tail keywords into your marketing content, if you haven’t started doing so already.
Some of the more recent Google updates have proved how the search engine giant places emphasis on pages that have authoritative content and may even consider the authoritativeness of a person who has written material online. That’s still the case with the Hummingbird update, but it’s important to showcase authority on all pages of your site rather than just the ones that you’d consider to be most frequented, such as your homepage.
The new algorithm will work to intelligently direct users to the most appropriate pages of your website, and those may not be the main parts of it. With that in mind, work hard to demonstrate authority throughout your entire website. Doing that could help you rise in the rankings and consequently get more visitor traffic.
Given the focus on authoritative information, it should be clear why it’s so important to produce content that people will want to share with others. This goal isn’t one that has only come to the forefront with the Hummingbird update, but one thing that the newest algorithm continues to prove is that shareable content can drive traffic and help you reach your marketing goals more efficiently.
Google rewards websites that provide a generalized but well-rounded approach to respective topics. Your target audience should also respond well if you tailor your marketing efforts to that aim. If your content makes people interested in it, they’ll be more likely to share it and want to learn more about what your website offers. That will improve traffic levels and also show Google search crawlers you’re an authoritative source that’s committed to providing helpful information.
If your marketing campaign has fallen short in regards to catering to mobile users, it’s probably worthwhile to renew your efforts in that area. Some industry experts think that while Hummingbird works to give users the most appropriate information, it’ll also favor websites that accommodate people who access content on computers, tablets, or smartphones… especially if those individuals are using voice recognition apps.
The way that people access online content is changing. Take the time to be mindful of that while designing your marketing tools and websites, and you may notice an uptick in mobile traffic because of the Hummingbird algorithm and its attention to how people use the Internet.
What you’ve just read might be enough to make you want to immediately make an appointment with experts at a company offering SEO, and that’s a great idea. However, while Google just announced the Hummingbird update recently, it had already gone live about a month prior. Unless you’ve noticed a huge drop in traffic within that span of time and are now fairly certain Hummingbird is to blame, there’s no need to get overly anxious and assume that you’ll have no choice but to retool your entire marketing campaign.
The general consensus is that it’s too early to say for sure what sort of impact the update will have on marketing campaigns. Take what you’ve learned above and incorporate the new ideas gradually, all while keeping a close eye on page statistics. Monitoring things carefully and regularly will let you know whether what you’re doing is still sufficient, or if major changes are needed.
After a long day at work spent in client meetings, Martha arrives home and heads to the kitchen. While still carrying Alberto in one arm, she drops a bag of groceries on the counter and quickly turns on the TV for background noise. The channel is set to Univision, where she can get a glimpse of the latest news in her native Spanish.
While she lowers Alberto to the ground she tells him—in perfect English—to go play while she makes dinner. Her groceries mainly consist of the same products any working mother with small children would buy: some premade meals, canned goods, snacks, milk, meats and cheese, vegetables, fruits, and bread, not any different than most American households. Except that her bag also includes adobo, for it is a key ingredient for many Latin dishes.
Martha’s cell phone rings. She answers by saying, “Hola” then constantly switches between English to Spanish, and the two languages intertwine and blend as one. After she hangs up the phone, she quickly reads a text message, smiles, and starts to prepare dinner keeping an eye on Alberto while singing the latest pop hit.
The scenario described above is not uncommon. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 21% of all married couples in the US had at least one foreign-born spouse. These households are a melting pot of cultures and heritages.
The Census Married-Couple Households by Nativity Status: 2011 report also explains that 61% of the foreign-born spouses are naturalized, meaning that they have been in the US long enough to acculturate to a higher or lesser degree. (Acculturation is defined as the adoption of behaviors of the host society).
While foreign-born people adopt US behaviors and traditions, thanks to the use of technology and the celebration of diversity, they also hold to their native customs. They are complex and sophisticated consumers who live in a bicultural world. The children born from these couples often learn English and a second language. They are exposed to different foods, culture, and values. While they are Americans first, they are also deeply connected to their ancestry, which has a great impact on how they respond to advertising.
As the market evolves, so does how we market. For decades, marketers created very specific labels to better speak with customer segments: Hispanics, African American, Asian American, Anglo, Native Americans, and many others. Companies spent millions of dollars in research to determine what motivates each segment and identified their media preference, channels, and usage, even where they live. One could make fairly accurate assumptions about consumers’ language preferences and some very specific purchase behaviors. Companies continue to do this to acquire a larger share of the market to help drive future growth and remain competitive.
Martha’s purchasing process is most similar to the Anglo’s; it is a rational process where products are mainly purchased using a price value metric. However, capturing her attention is heavily driven by emotions and cultural susceptibility. Martha is more receptive to an advertisement or media that acknowledges her heritage and celebrates her inclusiveness to the American society. Martha is a complex consumer; she is what we define as a “multidimensional consumer.”
For products to be successful, they need to be able to capture the attention of their audience by removing the noise of their competitors. For example, back in April, Martha received a Cinco de Mayo promotion in the mail, and she quickly tossed it in the garbage. Martha was born in South America where Cinco de Mayo has no meaning. Being Hispanic does not mean embracing a Mexican festivity. The stereotype was blocked by the noise filter. However, a few days ago, Martha stumbled across an online banner ad that featured a multigenerational family with messaging in English and Spanish. She was quick to click (Hispanics overwhelmingly acknowledge the importance of family). Multidimensional consumers’ respond well to multicultural segments emotional drivers but have a rational purchasing behavior.
If a marketer wants to capture Martha’s attention, subtle cultural cues included to the message can be meaningful. Acknowledge her heritage and celebrate her diversity can make an impact and make her pay attention to what the product offers and how it will benefit their life. But remember that she will buy the products she needs at the price she considers right.
The holiday shopping season is a busy time for consumers and marketers alike, as both groups have a variety of channels to consider throughout the entire shopping experience. No matter the medium, however, consumers want easy and consistent access to goods and services, based on highly personal preferences.
So, the question is: Do some channels matter more than others?
According to SDL, the answer is yes. SDL studied the shopping and purchasing behavior of more than 4,000 consumers to look at how they are interacting with brands during the holiday season.
With mobile and social media continuing to gain popularity, the study unveiled some interesting findings regarding consumers’ preferred channels—and more importantly, their thoughts on customer experience.
Here are a few of the more compelling results.
Regardless of channel, the majority of consumers care most about a brand’s ability to positively meet their needs, as 60% of global consumers said they are willing to pay more for a product if the brand delivers a positive customer experience. For US consumers, the total expands to nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents.
The holiday shopping season is a critical time for brands to provide a positive customer experience. Consumers across the globe shop when, where, and how they want—expecting that the experience remains the same whether they are on their desktops, on their smartphones, or in stores. Organizations that consistently deliver compelling and engaging experiences across media and geographies will be successful this holiday season.
Surprisingly, while mobile commerce technology continues to evolve, the majority of US consumers (64%) are not using a tablet or smartphone to purchase gifts any more than they did last year. However, mobile proves to be a valuable platform for research, as 45% of all respondents use mobile devices to conduct research.
The key for brands is to offer the ability to easily research products and services via a mobile device and to provide consumers with targeted mobile promotions that entice them to purchase. These touchpoints may ultimately drive people to a purchase, regardless of where it takes place.
Despite the increasing use by consumers, social media channels—specifically Pinterest and Twitter—are not where consumers are spending their time researching and learning about products. Only 2-3% of global shoppers used Pinterest and Twitter to learn about products in 2012 and 2013. Facebook and Google+ are the most popular channels for global shoppers to learn about products, but they’re only being used by 5% of respondents.
Social media needs to mature before brands can rely on them for buying decisions. In the meantime, social channels remain a quality tool for building loyalty.
While online sales are increasing, consumers still prefer brick and mortar stores. In fact, consumer preference increased from 51% to 53%.
Regardless of preference, retailers are realizing that a multichannel approach is most desirable to consumers, especially around the holidays. For example, brick and mortar retailers who integrate physical stores with online commerce channels make it possible for a customer to buy online, pick up at a store, order online, deliver to a home from a store, etc. This agility is a key factor in both keeping customers happy and growing sales.
In the end, no matter how consumers decide to purchase their gifts this holiday season, the purchasing experience is what matters most to them—and they are willing to pay more for it.
Do you have Millennials on your team? Then consider whether your management practices and company culture align with what they want in a job.
Millennials, according to a recent Pew Research study, will make up 36% of the workforce in the United States by 2014. The same study indicates that “nearly 60% of employed Millennials will leave their job within three years of being hired, an increased ratio of 2 to 1 compared to previous generations.”
Managing Millennials can be an eye-opening experience. I’m a Gen X-er in my 30s, and I have managed about a dozen Millennials over the past 10 years. In fact, there are four Millennials on my eight-person staff.
If you want to retain the Millennials on your team, consider whether your management practices and company culture align with what this group wants in a job.
Here are five things that Millennials value and will not only keep them happy but also retain them as productive, value-adding members of your team.
1. They value their freedom
Millennials like to work hard, but they prefer to do so when they feel like they can be most productive. They are good at focusing their energy when their creative juices are flowing—and this may or may not happen during normal working hours. A young employee of mine burst into my office early one Monday morning and immediately whiteboarded an equation that he had worked on for eight hours the day before. Our team had struggled with the problem for weeks, and he buckled down and found a solution in one day—and on a weekend at that.
At my company, we offer a free time off (FTO) policy, which means we ask employees to be responsible with their time off and don’t limit them to a specific number of days. I’ve observed that Millennials tend to take off a day here and there, and leave early sometimes rather than taking a whole week off. The results are that projects led by Millennials are rarely delayed, and the time they spend in the office is spent working, instead of surfing the Internet or daydreaming about where they would rather be.
2. They want a sense of purpose
Millennials want to know why they are doing something, and they are not afraid to ask. Being part of a generation that was mostly socialized not to question authority, I found this surprising at first. However, on more than one occasion, a Millennial’s “why” has made me stop and re-evaluate an approach to a project, which ultimately led to a better decision.
Moreover, Millennials are genuinely curious and really care about what happens to all the hard work they do. They will feel rewarded and motivated to know that the data they spent hours putting together influenced a business decision—so make sure to tell them when it does.
3. They want transparency
Millennials expect to be informed about what is going on in the rest of the organization. They want to understand the reasoning and the influences behind decisions that are made. Confidential information aside, managers need to figure out how to efficiently and accurately share knowledge across teams.
One way to do this is to hold regular “all-hands” or companywide meetings to share what is working, what is not, and why the company is focusing on a certain area. Having such regular meetings not only communicates trust but also creates an opportunity for feedback, which drives innovation.
4. They appreciate social interactions
Millennials like to play when they feel like it, but they’re not big fans of goofing off in the office. Hosting regular team off-sites is one way to get your team socializing, and it can be as simple as a regular happy hour. Your team will not only build better relationships, but you will also create a relaxed atmosphere for everyone to contribute to a project or brainstorming session.
5. They need positive reinforcement
Millennials were raised during a time when parents generally believed that there was no such thing as too much praise. Consequently, regular positive reinforcement is the norm in their minds, and they expect to be recognized when they go above and beyond. In addition, you will find Millennials enjoy being involved in your company’s social media activities, where they can see all the “likes,” “followers,” and positive comments.
While Millennials’ professional style may be different from that of other generations, and they can be more comfortable blending the hours they work and the hours they play, Millennials aren’t really that different than earlier generations. After all, what professional doesn’t value freedom, purpose, transparency, social connections and positive reinforcement?
Remember that no matter what year we were born or what kind of technology (or lack of technology) we are familiar with, we all want to create value and be valued at work.
The social industry should be ashamed of itself. Failed promise. Failed mission. #Fail. We must save ourselves—now.
Here’s what I mean. Three years ago, while I was still at Salesforce.com, CEO Marc Benioff wrote “The Facebook Imperative.” It was a manifesto that urged enterprises to tap into the power of social media so that employees could more easily collaborate and share information across departments.
That such collaboration creates a hive of enterprise productivity focused on customer needs—driving sales. That single manifesto brilliantly encapsulated just how social media could transform business.
Benioff’s premise resonated with the industry—and kick-started the second generation of social media. No longer purely a medium for self-expression, it has become the predominant marketing channel.
In the years since Benioff wrote his manifesto, enterprises have become obsessed with connecting with customers via Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, as they then monitor sentiment and measure effectiveness.
As head of Salesforce’s social media efforts and strategy, I helped build Benioff’s social imperative. In my role, I applauded forward-thinking companies that set up and staffed “command centers,” so they could monitor and respond to comments they spotted about their brands. I helped customers harness social media as new marketing and ad channels. And I cheered as social media became integral to enterprise marketing.
And then things got ugly, as marketers went extreme.
I hate to say it, but the social-business industry has pushed crass commercialism to new levels aimed at getting customers to LIKE us, LOVE us and, above all, BUY from us.
And I went along with it.
When I founded Addvocate, I described it in marketing terms. Terms like “empower employees to be brand advocates” (or sometimes: “brand amplifiers”). Those phrases made me uneasy, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. And then it hit me: By adopting marketers’ mindset, I inadvertently implied that employees are tools for brands to wield on their behalf. I blame myself for not emphasizing what I always knew: Social media’s true utility—its fundamental reason for existence—is for building genuine connections.
That’s because social media is best used as a conduit for information, sentiment, support, and insight from anywhere within a company out to its customers—practically at the speed of thought. Yes, social enables enterprises to know what their customers are thinking and saying about them. But it also allows anyone—anywhere within the organization—to step in and answer customers’ questions and solve their problems. Equally important, social media can relay that interaction to customer service, alert R&D to product flaws, and inform the marketing folks of a potential problem to address.
Forget about hammering customers with corporate messages and ads. Studies prove that people trust others just like themselves. Consider: When Nielsen asked consumers which form of advertising they trust, 84% said they trust recommendations from people they know, and 68% said they believed opinions posted online.
It’s also interesting to see just who, inside a company, those consumers believe. The latest TrustBarometer from Edelman, for example, found that consumers trust a company’s rank and file workers—especially people with technical expertise—more than they trust top executives.
Think about what it would mean when business processes run on top of social. Everything will change. People will become less self-involved because they know—and care—about their customers’ experiences. And that will create a culture of empathy that encourages everyone throughout the organization to connect with customers, contribute comments, solve problems, and safeguard the reputation of the enterprise. People would behave differently.
Here’s a story I recently heard that illustrates the point…
A family took their 6-year-old daughter to Disneyland where she bought a Minnie Mouse wallet. A few rides in, she started crying when she realized she’d lost her wallet. Naturally, the parents made a show of looking for it, but they all knew the chances of finding it were slim. A Disney employee took notice and came over to ask what the wallet looked like. “It’s red and has Minnie Mouse on the cover,” she said.
“I think I know where it is,” he said, leading the family to the gift shop, where he pulled a wallet from the counter and gave it to the little girl.
You can imagine how impressed the parents must have been—and not just because of the overt act of kindness. Disney had empowered its employees to go the extra mile for its customers. That’s the culture of empathy I’m talking about. This goes way beyond getting your employees to tweet for you. You need to give them the full support of the brand and empower them to turn their empathy into social actions on behalf of your customers.
Few companies already have this culture. But I’m convinced enterprise-wide empathy with the customer is critical for establishing authentic, meaningful lines of communication. With it, companies can truly humanize all customer interactions, influence customer sentiment, improve products, and burnish (or even salvage) a brand’s reputation.
And that’s why I founded Addvocate. I believe people want to talk to others like themselves—not to some company’s logo. Our platform enables people across the organization to opt in and use their own social networks to offer advice, solve problems, and become the human face of their brands. Notice I said “people,” who are every company’s greatest assets.
Our customers, investors, and market influencers tell me I have it right. Isn’t it time we reclaimed social media’s true mission of building genuine connections?
People are not tools to be wielded for crass commercialization. Companies need to think about, and simplify, how their greatest assets can reach out to customers. Connect them. Give them an outlet for goodwill and customer rapport. Empower everyone throughout the entire organization to react and respond to their best impulses.
This is our next cultural imperative: putting human empathy at the core of every customer interaction, and at any level of communication. We are not tools, so stop treating us as if we were. Empower us to build relationships, and to thrive on those connections. That is, after all, what humans do best.
And if that doesn’t translate into customer trust and loyalty, nothing will.
The NFL season is half over, and the teams that will be competing in the playoffs are starting to emerge. And while my office mates are rethinking their Fantasy Football picks, I’m thinking that lead generation success has a lot in common with winning football teams.
From the draft to the playoffs, football coaches and managers are constantly looking at player stats to tweak their game. The same should be true with lead generation. At every step of a lead generation campaign, early indicators can reliably show marketers if their campaigns are on track while also providing insight that enables course corrections before it’s too late.
Teams assemble players during the draft period then get a good look at how they perform during training camp. Just because a player is drafted doesn’t mean he won’t be cut.
Marketers should look at the first hours of a lead generation campaign as training camp. During this time, enough information is available to make decisions that can positively affect the rest of the campaign.
One of the best ways to know if a lead generation program is working is by looking at what prospects are saying during a live connect. “No interest,” invalid, and “not a fit” trends start to emerge that show if the message is resonating, if the team is effective in conveying it, and if the list is good. If there is a problem, it’s easy to pinpoint and make changes to your lead generation “roster.”
The same is true for first appointment data, which can provide helpful insights into what’s working. For example, is one title path more likely to set an appointment than another? Are certain title paths being referred that you aren’t already targeting? Is there a day of the week or time of day when appointments are more likely to be set? This insight will advance the winning season of your campaign.
A lot can happened during the regular season. New plays and formations are tried out, players get injured, and winners and losers emerge. The coaching staff reviews player strengths and weaknesses, and watches game tapes to develop a new strategy for every game.
Lead generation campaigns also benefit from constant review and assessment. As the campaign progresses, trends emerge that are indicators of what’s working and any potential problems that exist. Just as football teams make changes week to week, lead generation campaigns benefit from mid-course tweaking.
In the post season, some teams progress to playoffs, while others regroup for next season. Even winning teams that make it to the playoffs will go back over the season to see how they stack up compared to other teams.
While it’s easy to compare one season to the next (“We did better this year than last”), the valuable metric is how the team performed compared to other teams. This insight is crucial for the coaching staff to determine where their true strengths and weaknesses lie, so they can go into the recruiting season with a good idea of their needs.
Marketers also should benchmark their campaigns against others in their industry to determine the success of the campaign. For example, a 2.5% response rate may seem low until compared to peers and competitors. Some lead generation partners can provide this information and help you understand how your campaigns fared against specific metrics, such as appointments and revenue by title path.
These indicators have the added benefit of shining a big light on other potential problem areas. For example, if you’re meeting all your expected goals but revenue lags, perhaps the market isn’t ready, the product isn’t priced correctly, or there’s a problem in the sales process.
In football as well as lead generation, there will always be winners and losers. However, the more you know about your lead generation campaigns, the better they become.
Here’s to winning campaigns!
On Tuesday, Twitter announced the release of custom timelines. Now, you can create a timeline that includes select tweets about a topic, event, or breaking news so people can follow along. You can choose a name for your custom timeline, and it will live on its own public Twitter page.
Before you get too excited, there are a couple of caveats. First, the feature is available only via Tweetdeck. Second, although there is an API for custom timelines, it’s still in beta.
Regardless, the ability to cherry-pick tweets and put them into a timeline that is tailor-made for your audience is exciting. For instance, custom timelines can be used for ongoing Q&As and as companion content for media, and it can be used by brands that are establishing themselves as thought leaders around a particular topic. Here’s a great example of a custom timeline created by Carson Daly as a way to curate tweets about The Voice.
Twitter has essentially taken something that people are doing anyway (using the platform to converse around news, events, etc.)—and made it better.
What’s more exciting is the indication toward a larger trend in social media and content marketing that emphasizes targeted content streams for specific audiences and buyer personas. Simply put, advanced content aggregation can have a major impact on how companies converse with their audience. Twitter’s move is a step in that direction by allowing us to organize tweets in a way that makes sense to the people consuming them.
In reality, we’ve barely scratched the surface. As we move into 2014, companies will find ways to organize all of their content (social, blogs, photos, videos, etc.) into easily digestible, topically relevant content streams that can live anywhere.
For example, Storify allows users to curate tweets to tell a story around a product or brand (it remains to be seen how the release of Twitter’s new custom collections will affect Storify). Taking it a step beyond Twitter, Uberflip lets you create “custom collections” where you can pull in tweets, blog posts, videos, and more into one personalized content stream for a specific segment of your audience. Here’s an example of a custom collection build around a campaign targeted toward HubSpot users.
All this is in line with the future of content marketing. People are tired of wading through content they don’t care about. What they want is meaningful content. And what brands and publishers need is a way to organize and target it effectively.
Accordingly, now more than ever before, companies have to truly understand their audience in order to succeed in social and content marketing. The better you know your audience, the more customized your content creation and the more targeted your content streams.
The other element to note is curation. Though social media is already a powerful place to curate content, the rise in content aggregation tools provided by Twitter, Uberflip, Storify, and others makes curation easier, which means it can become a larger part of an overarching content marketing strategy. By consolidating content that you create with content from other credible sources, you can provide a holistic view of a topic for your audience.
This has the potential to be a win-win scenario. People consuming content get more of what they care about, while brands can present the content they’re creating—and curating—in a very targeted way to an audience that is more likely to convert into leads and eventually customers.
Many marketers and advertisers keep close tabs on Nielsen ratings for marketing inspiration and deciding where to focus their advertising dollars. Similarly, the advent of Twitter and its real-time pulse on viewer sentiment has also led marketers to closely follow which TV shows are regularly mentioned on Twitter.
Recently, Nielsen and Twitter came up with another way for everyone to keep track of popular TV shows. They released the first installment of Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, a weekly ranking of TV shows based on the total number of unique users who saw a related tweet on Twitter.
I am sure some people expected the list of Nielsen Twitter TV rankings to correlate with the traditional Nielsen rankings. They did not. At all.
The biggest reason for the disparity in the rankings is that Twitter is not yet representative of the general US population. While almost 90% of Americans have heard of Twitter, only 18% of online US adults are Twitter users. According to the Pew Research Center, Twitter is most populated by 18- to 29-year olds. Yet, even among that group, only 30% of them use the site.
Also, Twitter users are more likely to have some college education and earn above $75,000 per year.
Lastly, another thing to keep in mind is that some shows have fandoms that are vociferous in their support of a show, where their voice belies their actual size. (For an example, think of almost any Joss Whedon show.) Naturally, some of those tiny-but-loud fandoms will take to a platform like Twitter as moths to a flame to show their support.
In comparison, Nielsen’s traditional TV ratings are a reflection of the viewing habits of a more representative cross-section of American households. The company selects households based on the extent to which they represent all television-viewing households. Nielsen also tries to get a representative sample as close a match to the US population, as determined by census data, as possible.
If you are a marketer who uses TV ratings for inspiration or to decide where to place your company’s ad dollars, you must consider whether Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings is useful for your brand, given your target audience compared to Twitter’s user base. If you are targeting young, educated, urbanites with higher incomes, advertise away and join in the conversations about the top-ranked shows in the Nielsen Twitter TV Rankings.
However, for now, advertisers going after a larger segment of the population need not take as much stock in the new rankings and would be better off sticking to the original Nielsen ratings.
One final note, because a mention of Twitter seems incomplete without a mention of Facebook… Some people are saying that posts and hashtag mentions on Facebook would be a better barometer of a show’s popularity than the ones on Twitter since more people are on Facebook.
I am inclined to agree with them. Two thirds of the US adult population are Facebook users and 94% of US teens are also on the network. Different people share different things on Facebook and certain groups are more likely to share on Facebook than others. However, since Facebook is more representative of the general population, some marketers would be better off waiting for a no doubt, in-development Facebook TV ratings or working with Facebook to identify marketing opportunities tied to popular TV shows on the widely used social networking site.
As technology continues to infiltrate every aspect of a business’ daily operations, more emphasis is placed on the role of the chief information officer (CIO). More often than not, however, the chief marketing officer (CMO) and the marketing arm of that organization do not see the IT department as the fix.
Improved alignment and collaboration with IT, however, is the most efficient way to advance the business while giving customers exactly what they want. Unfortunately, while most marketing and technology executives recognize this fact, in general, alignment is nowhere close to being achieved.
According to “The CMO-CIO Disconnect” report recently released by Accenture, only one in 10 marketing and IT executives believe that collaboration is at the stage it needs to be. So while research shows that most CIOs and CMOs recognize the necessity to strengthen this relationship, they seem to have no drive to actually accomplish this.
Some research points to marketers and CMOs being the guiltier party than their technology counterparts. According to Accenture, “77% of CIOs consider a marketing and technology alignment important” while only 56% of CMOs feel the same. Those results may stem from a CMO’s perceived desire for professional independence, shown by the fact that 45% of CMOs want to enable marketers to leverage data and contact without consulting IT. CIOs seem to agree with this, as “49% of IT executives agree that marketers often introduce technologies without considering IT’s standards.” Meanwhile, only 45% of CIOs responded that marketing and IT alignment is at the top of their to-do list.
The study by Accenture is revealing. Its purpose, as I see it, is not to point fingers but, rather, to point out the incongruity between the two sides. This incongruity is nothing to roll one’s eyes at, as it both causes frustration and halts the collaboration process.
Luckily, CIOs and CMOs do realize that by working together, instead of as separate entities, they can develop platforms and solutions to grow business, differentiate their company in the marketplace, and increase profitability. Someone needs to operate the technology to expedite the outcomes while another person needs to control the customer experience. The CIO and CMO cannot do both of these things separately, but they can be achieved when the two parties work together.
To go about joining the CIO and CMO arms together and finding a happy middle ground, there are a few things a business needs to do.
For starters, IT should be looked at as a strategic partner, not as an external solution provider. Sure, the CIO and IT department provide the rest of the company with the technology needed to keep the office modernized and humming, but that is certainly not its only function.
Additionally, both sides need to smarten up. The Marketing department needs to become more tech-smart to understand and fully use the CIO and IT department’s capabilities. Simultaneously, the CIO and IT department need to become more aware and responsive to market demands.
Have both teams brainstorm together to agree on key business strategies and embrace tools, processes, and platforms. Make it a mission to come to a mutual understanding of the goals and vision that each team has separately. Once the two sides understand each other, and hopefully develop a forward-looking game plan, it will be simpler to move forward.
Finally, both sides need to create a positive, creative co-existence. Remember, just because you come from two different worlds (that of technology and that of marketing) that does not mean you are on different sides. You both work for the same company. Working together in an effective manner benefits both sides and works towards improving the company as a whole.
Luckily, there is a silver lining. The Accenture study reveals that both CMOs and CIOs alike acknowledge that they need to change their ways: “45% of marketing executives and 47% of IT executives believe that their relationship with one another has improved the most” compared to other C-suite roles. That is a positive development that must be fostered and grown.
Ultimately, collaboration between marketing and technology is a positive step that every company should take. While the guidelines above may not have marketing and technology professionals holding hands and skipping down the street, recognizing the need for co-existence is the first step towards changing the status quo. Once CIOs and CMOs can finally achieve this coexistence and work together, both will reap the benefits.
Here are 10 quotes from the acclaimed children’s book author and takeaways for all content marketers.
1. “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way.” (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)
Lesson: Traditional marketing has lost impact as consumers block out noise, while content marketing is about educating readers and customers—not selling. If you haven’t started yet, now’s a great time!
2. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” (Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!)
Lesson: Content marketing success depends on consistency, which can be challenging. However, if you search and think, you’ll discover plenty of content ideas. Check the daily paper, watch your competitors, scan blogs, interview a client about a topic, or even look to the musings of a famous author. Get creative!
3. “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
Lesson: We’d hate to be guilty of this, so we’ll just say that clear, simple and brief is the best policy. In today’s crowded online world, if you capture readers’ attention, you’ve won half the battle.
4. “If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish)
Lesson: Creating content doesn’t have to be drudgery. Like storytelling, content marketing is about conveying information in an engaging and interesting way. Create an infographic, design a microsite, or record a video series. Also remember to mobilize your readers, customers, and community for some good user-generated content.
5. “Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.”
Lesson: Written and visual content go hand in hand with content marketing. Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine demonstrate the power of pictures and video. Words and pictures together give birth to some of the most effective forms of content marketing.
6. “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Lesson: Content marketing is about making readers and customers smarter. The online world creates a lot of groupthink, and while it’s important to tune in to trends, you can often attract attention by taking a contrarian view. Think about how you contribute to a topic that gets people to think differently. Don’t be afraid to invite debate or disagreement if appropriate.
7. “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.” (Horton Hatches the Egg)
Lesson: Authenticity is an important part of content marketing. Readers and customers want honesty above all, so if you can’t stay true to your brand and yourself when creating content, you’re probably headed down the wrong path.
8. “Step with great care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act.” (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)
Lesson: Good content takes time. When you produce content in haste, readers will know. The important thing is to find the right balance between quality and quantity. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity, but also don’t go radio silent for months at a time.
9. “Read. Ask. Read. Learn. Read. Connect. Read.”
Lesson: Content marketing isn’t just one-way communication. Be sure to open your content to discussion and ask for feedback if appropriate. Read and learn from comments and personally connect with your audience.
10. “Will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.” (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)
Lesson: As with all things, success isn’t 100% guaranteed, but if you’re consistent and clear; have fun; use a mix of words and images; provide new ideas; are authentic; use tact; and engage in dialogue with your audience, you’re off to a good start!
As the rate of change in technology and communication continues to accelerate, brands are realizing the need to reach their prospects at the right place and at the right time. And their message must be powerful and compelling.
Through my 30 years in sales and sales management, and as a business owner, I have been an ardent student of marketing, lead generation, and customer acquisition. And I believe that marketing channels have gone through two major phases and are now entering a third phase.
The first phase was characterized by reaching out to potential prospects via the traditional methods of radio, TV, and print. Those channels communicated only one way—brand to consumer—meaning that the brand defined how their customers and prospects viewed them.
The problem with this one-way “dialogue” was that these channels could not produce results that could be measured with any accuracy. It was hard to attribute a sale to specific advertising, hence the adage: Only half of our advertising works; we just aren’t sure which half. (And we actually know it’s far less than half that “works.”)
The advent of the digital world changed everything and caused a sea change. The advertising spends quickly started to shift from traditional channels into the digital channels, which is still the trend today.
The second phase is characterized by two-way communications and the ability to more effectively track and measure success relative to phase one. But because the digital domain is two-way, consumers familiar with the brand were able to share their perspectives about the brand’s products with their networks and other consumers looking for information. Prospects were then able to make informed purchases based upon this readily available and easily accessible information. The path to purchase changed dramatically; by the time a consumer was ready to buy, the brand often hadn’t had a say in the matter at all.
A brand could no longer define itself by what they chose to tell consumers; consumers defined a brand by what they told each other. Advocacy became a centerpiece in the new path to purchase.
The third phase of marketing channels is still in process. It is becoming apparent that because advocacy is so important, brands need strategies and systems to generate, track, and manage it. They have no choice but to mobilize their customers, employees, and influencers, and turn them into highly productive and powerful sales and marketing channels.
And there are many reasons why the advocacy channel is a critical channel to build.
1. Consumers trust other consumers. Consumers are no longer forced to rely on a brand for information about the brand’s products. Why would they when they can obtain transparent information from their social networks and other consumers within minutes?
2. The advocate channel, once built, has a powerful voice. Advocates can now reach potential buyers at scale. And they can do many things on a brand’s behalf, such as refer friends, write testimonials, forward content, and share new products and promotions.
3. Advocates extend your salesforce. Advocates know when friends and acquaintances in their networks are “in market.” Brands don’t. It’s pretty simple; the more people you have marketing your products and services, the greater chance of conversion. These “social assets” typically perform much better than traditional channels.
4. There are now systems to help you track and manage advocate activity. It’s simple to empower advocates with tools to reach out to your prospects. With the right technology in place, brands can now track and manage advocates’ willingness to spread a brand’s message.
Your customers, influencers, and employees—your potential brand advocates—are the fastest growing sales and marketing channel today. By using the latest in social marketing software and technology, business leaders can identify and mobilize their advocates to build brand awareness, generate the highest-quality leads, and drive customer acquisition.
In phase one, results could not be attributed to one specific marketing channel. By phase three, brands have the ability to use technology to attribute every new customer to the specific advocate who generated that new customer.
Companies today need to have strategies and systems in place to be able to generate, track, and manage brand advocacy—and the brand advocates to do it.
QR codes are enjoying resurging levels of popularity.
Until recently, however, QR codes were one of the most untapped marketing resources available. (And I say this with a great deal of respect for the efforts that advertisers poured into their QR code campaigns.) In all my years working in the industry, I was particularly struck by the alleged “low conversion” rates of traditional QR codes.
We’ve since been able to identify reasons why QR codes offered less than optimal results in campaigns. Besides the dullness of black and white computer-generated squares, neither passersby nor marketing gurus truly understood the true marketing potential of these innovations. That was then.
While marketing pundits have been a little lukewarm regarding QR codes in days gone by, times are changing. The number of smartphone users sits in the region of 2 billion. This not only serves as a massive incentive for marketing departments to find innovative means of attracting customers, it also makes mobile marketing that much more attractive.
QR codes are among the most widely used marketing mechanisms across Asia. Singapore, Japan, and South Korea are particularly well-known for widespread QR code usage. For example, when Tesco expanded into South Korea, it was up against major competition. It was simply unfeasible to open up hundreds of land-based stores to try and go head to head against the market leader—so Tesco (Home Plus) used posters and billboards with QR codes to boost its message. It worked as South Koreans took to on-the-go shopping with effortless ease.
In the West, QR code usage is enjoying a much warmer reception among patrons. As the CMO of a high-tech company, I have watched this industry evolve dramatically in recent times. One of the things that struck me was how best to make QR codes attractive. We all know that attractive sells, so why not these codes more attractive? At first glance, it seems improbable that a computer-generated square can be attractive, but even this perception is changing. The use of visually appealing QR codes is fast gaining traction. QR codes are now being incorporated into marketing messages in such a way that causes users to find them too enticing to resist. The goal is to seamlessly juxtapose QR codes into messages, images, and marketing strategies.
Proven methods of properly used QR codes for various products and services include the following.
With Google Glass, QR codes have plenty of promise. When a customer sources a product from an ad, he/she will immediately use the QR code, go online, and pay. Google Glass doesn’t make use of a keyboard, so QR codes are going to factor heavily into their functionality. Glass will essentially be reinventing marketing strategies and placing specific advertisements before your eyes—wherever you go. Google Glass is designed to instantly process any and all QR codes that the device camera detects. As soon as Glass recognizes the command from the QR code, it executes it. There are many benefits to this, including greater personalization and convenience. QR codes will feature prominently with Glass and many enticing options are likely to be showcased. Things like augmented reality ads and glittering banner-style ads across buildings are just a few of the marvels available with QR codes and Glass.
Facebook recently released a redesign of its ad buying and reporting tools, aimed at answering advertisers’ No. 1 concern: satisfying their advertising objective.
Those objectives may include increasing referral traffic, driving Facebook page likes, or pumping up in-store offer claims. Now when you buy your ad, you can choose what that objective is, and Facebook will help you plan your campaign accordingly.
Here are five things you need to know about the new Facebook advertising objectives.
Mobile is the fastest-growing segment of Facebook’s online advertising. Earlier this year, Facebook’s mobile users surpassed desktop users for the first time. That gap will increase as adoption rates of tablets and smartphones continue to rise. That has led to a greater focus on mobile and optimizing mobile opportunities for advertisers.
For example, say a motorcycle lawyer wanted to advertise services to those who have been in an accident. Previously, the Facebook ad would have sent folks who clicked on it to the lawyer’s desktop site, even if they were clicking from a mobile phone. The new advertising objectives allow the lawyer to set up his ad so that folks who click from a mobile phone are sent to a mobile site, and those who click from a desktop are sent to a desktop site.
In years past, an online campaign was judged by one thing only: how many click-throughs were generated by an ad. That has changed over the years, and it’s been further revolutionized by the new Facebook ad system. Each campaign will be judged against the advertiser’s objective. If the objective of the campaign is to increase website conversions, then the conversions will be tracked and highlighted while other superfluous information is left out.
That should lead to better understanding of whether a campaign is actually fulfilling its objectives and allow advertisers to make the necessary tweaks to reach a different audience.
Facebook has been criticized in the past for making things too complicated, from the company’s numerous privacy controversies to changes in the appearance of the news feed. It seems every few months bring a dust-up over Facebook corporate policy. This time, however, the social network appears to have listened to critics by creating a more intuitive system.
The Facebook advertising objectives force the advertiser to really think about the end goal for a campaign, which is always a good thing in advertising. On top of that, the process is really quite simple. The choices in the new ad-buying process remove the guesswork that usually accompanies a new campaign. That, in turn, increases the chance that the ads will connect with the right audience in the right way.
Facebook is like an older sibling. It always claims to know best. In the past, it would control the location of ad buys, whether they went in the mobile news feed, desktop news feed, or the right-hand column. Facebook would still prefer to have the last say over where ads are placed, but it has compromised. Now, it’s offering advertisers the chance to choose their own placement, if they’re so inclined.
This option has been created as an answer to advertisers who have said they want to be able to tailor their ads to different locations. Such customization increases the chance that the ad will be noticed and clicked on.
All these changes seem pretty overwhelming. Facebook is adding a lot of variables to its advertising roster, and even the most seasoned marketer might feel intimidated while reading over the list of options now available. That’s why it’s also important to remember that everyone is in the same boat. This is a new program for everyone who’s trying it out, and that means there will be a lot of experimentation in the first few months.
The most important thing that marketers can do is try to familiarize themselves with the new system and gain some understanding of it before jumping into a new campaign. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the new objectives. Give some thought as to what each one would mean for your company, and discuss it with others who have a say in your advertising. Even if your first campaign doesn’t go exactly as you’d hoped, give it another chance. The more campaigns you execute, the more comfortable you’ll become with this new system.
Information has always been a powerful instrument to engage the human mind. Facts, figures, and expert analysis have a great power of persuasion. By letting audience know and see what you want them to see, you get an ability to influence their beliefs and decision-making.
The challenge here is to find the most efficient way of presenting information to convince an audience.
In past few years, infographics have become became a popular data visualization tool. Information graphics (better known as “infographics”) visually represent complex data in an easy interactive way with the help of pictures, titles, charts, and other graphics. They are especially designed to grab viewer’s attention and quickly deliver information in an entertaining manner. If done properly, infographics can increase information retention much more than just simple text can.
Infographics may combine text, figures, different kinds of charts, illustrations, and other graphic elements, which help to present information favorably. That makes it a complex method of data representation and visualization. Due to a surge in popularity, infographics are getting more creative and outstanding, while performing the primary function of reaching audience minds and delivering necessary messages.
Along with the technology development, means of information transfer have also been constantly changing. As a result, that has changed habitual ways of obtaining information. There are several major factors influencing on the modern ways of the information perception process.
Let’s look at four ways at why so many people like infographics.
1. Infographics make it easy to pick up only useful information
It is hard to believe, but since 2010 the amount of information in the world is believed to double every 11 hours. Every year, digital data storage space expands, and information-processing speed increases along with computer technology improvement. Today, the biggest problem is not how to get information but how to filter out unnecessary data.
Good-looking infographics make it easier for a viewer to pick up only useful information. A well-thought-out combination of font sizes, colors, and visual elements helps to concentrate audience attention on important facts first. As a result, people can quickly decide whether to skip this page or look further for the details.
(photo credit: GDS Infographics)
2. Infographics give information quickly
People tend not to read pages of text if they find the title and the first paragraph too boring. A reader wants to extract as much useful information as possible in as little time as possible. That’s why long detailed articles are getting not so efficient anymore when your goal is to reach and convince an audience.
When you share data structured with the help of interactive graphic, it takes viewers only a moment to get the main idea. The audience is able to see the big picture right away with a quick look at infographics.
(photo credit: Ivan Cash)
3. People like to watch, not to read
You might have heard of another interesting fact about information perception: Visualized data is absorbed faster than any other type of information. Numerous studies prove that more than 60% of population are visual learners. That means most people learn better through pictures and other visual elements. Maybe you have even noticed that pictures, animation, and video are effortless to pick up with our eyes (compared with text in books, for example).
The key to find the best way of getting audience involved is to use well-crafted data visualization. If you have little experience in graphic design, you can create good-looking infographics with software, such as EWC Presenter. It helps a user without any design background make stylish infographics by just drag-and-dropping using prebuilt templates.
(photo credit: flickr)
WordPress developers rely greatly on their plugin directory. Conventional programming that starts from scratch, where every function needs long and boring lines of code, is slowly succumbing to the same fate as the dinosaurs. Since the rise of WordPress as a full content management system, many PHP and HTML programmers converted to it.
Just think of it this way: If you want to implement a simple picture gallery, you will need to type in at least 300 lines of short code for, let’s say, 20 pictures, and that will take you a couple of hours… or you can simply choose between 300 different gallery plugins for your WordPress site, install them, customize them, and upload them in, let’s say, 20 minutes.
See the difference? There are already over 23,000 plugins launched so far for this exceptional content management system with over 480 million downloads so far. There is a great deal of them for every category, compatible for many different browsers. So, how do you opt for the specific ones? How do you define the right plugins for your plugin directory without overcrowding it?
Your plugin directory is your treasure. Carefully chosen plugins will represent pure gold for your line of work. It is important to have them categorized, so you will exactly know which ones you will use for various types of websites, such as news, blogs, photography portfolios, or business or corporate websites. That will most speed up your work and save you a lot of time (and a lot of nerves).
Every solid plugin directory should consist of approximately 100 well-categorized plugins (aside from the default ones). There is a great ever-growing community of Web developers behind this website platform, constantly working on its improvement by launching various plugins, extensions, and even themes based around all of them. There are approximately five to 10 plugins launched for WordPress every week, and over 900 have been launched just in 2013.
You need to stay fresh and updated regarding innovations and new plugin releases. Because many Web developers rush their plugin releases, without proper testing, they work on their updates for a few months (even years) to make their products reach their full potential and efficiency. Because of this, you shouldn’t rush to download them.
You need to do some proper research. I have prepared a top list of the most useful (and tested) plugins for you to check out. Each has had fine reviews and is fully responsive, which is an important attribute and should not be neglected in any circumstances.
So, let’s begin!
uSquare represents a grid layout that can be used to present your content in a new and exciting way. It has a great minimalistic chessboard layout. This layout consists of an expanding square, which can be used to represent various types of content. You can use it to present your team, products, services, posts, and anything that comes up.
Although it’s designed to be minimalistic and efficient, customization options vary from typography, transition effects, content, and social sharing buttons, which can have icons of your choice. It is fully customizable and adapts to every mobile device, such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, and any kind of device with retina displays, with either the Android or the iOS platform. You can add up to 90 squares and still withhold your webpage load time. It is compatible for various Web browsers, such as Internet Explorer 8-10, Google Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Mozilla Firefox.
There are already dozen slider plugins launched for the WordPress platform, but not many of them are as useful as Royal Slider. It is highly customizable and touch-friendly. It is clean-coded and allows you to implement slideshows consisted of multiple layers as well as video material. It is well-designed and compatible for all small devices with retina displays. It has been tested on Mac, PC, iPad2, iPhone4, HTC Desire, Lumia 920, Surface, and BlackBerry.
This plugin is possibly the greatest social sharing WordPress plugin so far. Having your website content shared and followed on various social networks can increase your website traffic. Social Network Tabs covers 17 different social networks and supports 70 different social features. It is extremely responsive and doesn’t make much impact on your page-load time. Aside the broad list of social networks it covers, its responsiveness and the small amount of resources it pulls are what make it quite powerful. This is one of the most popular and top-selling plugins for the last four months.
LiveChat is a beautiful and responsive plugin for your WordPress website. It can be implemented on any WordPress website for customer and sale support, and it has a lot of customization options. It is an open source plugin, and it holds a wide assortment of features. Aside the typography options, you can customize the visual layout of the whole message box. It is fully responsive and an awesome addition to your plugin collection.
This is the freshest plugin launched by Shindiri Studios dating from August 5. The Frontend Builder allows you to design a webpage on your website without having to know advanced HTML or PHP coding. It consists out of 18 elements (shortcodes) with around 20 customization options each. All elements can be placed on a webpage by simply using the basic drag-and-drop method, without having to worry about positioning the element. However, it is better to follow some basic rules in Web design.
A great feature of this plugin is that you can access the customization panel at any moment via both the back end and front end. Aside the classic WordPress plugin dashboard in the back end, the plugin’s customization interface accessed from a webpage looks interesting and fun. For on page access, you have to press the “Tab” key, and that is exactly where the fun starts.
When accessed, the right sidebar will be shown in which you can opt for any of the 18 elements you wish to add. Considering the variety of customization options for each element, be aware that you can have an enormous amount of freedom. If used well, you will generate a unique, SEO friendly and well-designed webpage. The customization panel for every element opens on the right side of the webpage. It is well-organized and completely user friendly.
This is my top list of the most popular WordPress plugins launched this year. Their authors have given a live presentation of each one, which can be seen along their updates and changelogs. They all have had great reviews by WordPress developers and have reached top sales for the past six months. They can make a great add to your plugin directory.
For businesses, the ability to drive customer attention online is more critical than ever—and for good reason. Engaging a consumer in the right way on the Web provides an opportunity to tap into their social networks, increase their digital word of mouth, and begin racking up earned media cred.
Research shows that earned media (in the form of recommendations and reviews from friends and family members) are some of the most powerful influencers along a consumer’s path to purchase. The latest Local Consumer Review survey shows a positive shift in consumer trust and appreciation of online reviews, with 72% of consumers saying they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and 52% saying positive online reviews make them more likely to engage with a business.
So, the opportunity to convert consumers into advocates who freely publicize your wares among their social networks cannot be ignored. It must be embraced—quickly. Yet, tapping these social networks and turning consumers into online advocates isn’t an easy task.
Consumers have grown much savvier in their online activity. A recent Accenture Seamless Retail Study found 69% and 62% respectively said online pop-up ads and mobile banner ads would never influence their purchasing. And now, they are accustomed to using multiple screens—from anywhere, any time—to research and purchase products, connect with friends and family, and enjoy a broad array of entertainment options. This “always on” phenomenon provides advantages for brand marketers, if embraced appropriately. Potential roadblocks, such as consumers employing technologies to block advertisements and unsolicited communications along the way, must be taken into consideration and further validate the need to leverage a myriad of channels—both online and off—to reach, inspire, and compel audiences to move past being just interested consumers and onto becoming brand advocates. The optimal strategy will deliver a well-defined media mix that takes target audiences on a journey through paid, owned, then, ultimately, earned media.
Digital in-store media provides advertisers with captive audiences along the path to purchase, and when used strategically, it provides multiple options for moving target audiences seamlessly through an integrated digital media cycle that ultimately results in the coveted earned media brand marketers desire. That cycle, which incorporates activation, engagement, and amplification, provides a packaged method for building brands, extending campaigns, and reaching across social networks.
A consumer sees an advertisement on a screen in store, in a quick-service restaurant, convenience store, or other venue along the path to purchase that provides a compelling call to action to engage with a beverage brand by downloading a digital coupon with his mobile device. These types of offers can tap into consumers’ shopping impulse modes and drive them to pick up the beverage immediately while they are in store or, if they are not in store, to add the beverage to their next shopping list.
Some alternative strategies for digital place-based activation include…
Consumers now are directed to engage with mobile content owned by the brand after they respond to the on-screen call to action. The brand can deliver their coupon by connecting to an already existing mobile campaign or develop a unique experience that takes into account their audiences location and mindset, delivering a more comprehensive experience and driving better conversion.
The content then provides options to amplify the brand’s campaign using consumers’ various social networks and share the brand’s offer of the digital coupon as well as their positive experiences with the brand, which turns consumers into brand advocates.
Those brands are engaging audiences across multiple screens, capitalizing on authentic content, reaching new fans, and boosting audience participation. They are playing to the way consumers want to (and expect to) be reached. Strategically activating mobile campaigns through digital place-based media is an important way to reach audiences along the path to purchase who are already engaged in the day-to-day activities of media consumption, hanging out, and shopping.
The end result is increased consumer engagement and loyalty, better insights gained into consumer behavior, and a much faster path to the Holy Grail of earned media—the ability to build a widespread team of brand advocates who will deliver your messages to their connections at little to no expense.
In honor of Halloween week, I’m sharing the scariest stories that I’ve come across lately. Yes, we’re talking about frightfully bad emails.
Here’s a look at the latest horrors that took over my inbox. (If you want to avoid becoming an email horror story, check out my post about press releases that actually get read.) I haven’t put the names of the email senders because that’d be rude… but the quotes are, oh, so real.
Being a tech-savvy blogger, I would be immensely delighted to work with your platform as a Guest Blogger, where I could unveil my core-knowledge and high-intellect to bestow resourceful-and-inspirational blogs for your end-readers. I’m sure that you would admire me, because of my proficient writing experience and fad for bringing the ingenuity in the write-ups about the latest web technologies & innovations going around in the Web Development & Design Realm, through my featured blogs that are as refreshing as morning dew!
Why It Made Us Scream
A well-placed adjective helps an image pop into the reader’s mind. The email sender quoted above, however, overused adjectives—tech-savvy, immensely, resourceful-and-inspirational, refreshing as morning dew.
The adjectives also make the introduction feel overdone. Someone offering to “unveil core-knowledge” (hyphen not needed) makes me feel like something weird and cult-like is going to happen. I just want to learn something or have a person share info with me. Nothing needs to be unveiled, please.
The email itself is chock-full of other oddities (what exactly does a “fad for bringing the ingenuity in the write-ups” mean?), but I wanted to focus on the adjective abuse.
Dear Eronica Maria Jarski,
Why It Made Us Scream
My name is Veronica—not Eronica.
The issue isn’t just that my name is wrong in the first line, but that the line shows (unveils?) the little importance my name has to the emailer. Typos don’t bother me too much (they should, but they don’t), but at least the name of the person should be correct. It’s the very least you can do. Getting the person’s name wrong makes a lousy first impression.
Why It Made Us Scream
Does anyone still use this term? And I have a name. (No, it’s not Eronica.)
>Just wondering if you planned to publish the [...] article I sent you? I have had a few offers but would prefer it to go on My Daily Fix.
Why It Made Us Scream
This email was sent the same afternoon that I received the submission, so already, a tinge of desperation shows. Also, the email makes the recipient feel like she’s not the first choice for the prom. “You want to go out with me or what? You know, I can get another date… Sabrina is much cooler and Taylor’s way more awesome, but, FINE, I can wait for your answer.”
Plus, the blog is not named My Daily Fix. It’s the Daily Fix. Again, the importance of using the right name cannot be overstated. (Says Eronica.)
I came across your blog a little while back, and I really enjoyed the content of your posts!
The reason I’m contacting you (other than to tell you how much I enjoy your blog!) is because I saw that you were interested in accepting posts from guest authors, and I had a few questions for you!
Why It Made Us Scream
The above email is an example of what I call “Death by Exclamation Point.” The first one is fine. We can be enthusiastic! But then, every sentence is enthusiastic. And if you’re that excited about everything, you must not really be excited about anything. Every exclamation point after the first one feels like another little nail in the coffin of my interest.
Hello Ms. Veronica,
I would like to contribute my article here about the 7 Steps to Achieving Great Conversion Rate Optimization.
do you think this idea would fit on your websites?
Why It Made Us Scream
The email start is confused. On one hand, the author uses punctuation and makes a stab at being formal with Ms. Veronica, but on the other hand, if anything, I’m Ms. Jarski, not Veronica (and never Ms. Eronica). And the punctuation is all off. If everything had been in lowercase, I’d chalk the quirk up to a mini tribute to the poet e.e. cummings (that punctuation rebel!), but alas, the hyper attention to detail and then the lack of it is confusing.
Have you seen emails that made you scream lately? What did they get wrong?
As Halloween looms over us, vampires, horror-movie slasher Jason, and curfew-less kids aren’t the only villains you need to worry about. This year, to score quality leads that turn into opportunities, you’ll need to know how to avoid the Big Data Demon.
A lot of discussion has taken place about the implications of the ever-increasing amount of data for organizations, and whether this will help or hinder marketing and sales. To ensure that Big Data is an asset to your organization, you need to start by finding the right strategy.
Information without context is simply noise—just like the crackling and broken snippets you catch when the radio isn’t tuned to a station—and it can cause great confusion. Similarly, your silos of data, waiting to be leveraged by some brave salesperson or marketer, are merely full of noise that scare and haunt your execs.
Marketers and salespeople have access to piles of data from the company website, Twitter, LinkedIn, marketing automation tools, CRM solutions, and more. And it’s all collected with the hope that one piece of data will click and your salesperson will have the silver bullet he or she needs to win the deal. But this is neither a reliable nor highly effective way to ensure marketers and reps have the insights needed to intelligently talk with customers and prospects about their pains and needs.
No one can make the argument that information is useless or worthless. Knowledge is power. The data that marketing teams constantly draw from the field means the difference between a well-executed campaign with a clear vision of a target persona and a blind grab at a faceless audience. Additionally, according to Forrester, only 17% of sales reps are securing a second meeting. Just think how this number might increase if salespeople were armed with information about their prospect—especially before a first call or meeting.
To get a handle on the data, and protect your organization from the Big Data Demon, consider implementing the following strategies.
1. Identify the Components of Your Selling System
To have success using Big Data, you need to understand each step of your sales system and what information is relevant to your marketing and sales reps at these stages. Just like the older kids pointing new trick or treaters towards the houses with the best candy, your reps need to be able to provide direction—from the lead at the edge of your funnel to your prospect signing on the dotted line and becoming a customer—and deliver the most relevant information to help them make a purchasing decision. By identifying each of these stages, you will have greater awareness of what your prospect is focused on, and quickly sort through the relevant data to pinpoint which pieces of info will be the sweetest.
Additionally, CRM solutions are a vast trove of information that will enable you to have these more relevant conversations. However, to quickly sift through the information, be sure that you are frequently updating the files with accurate information. Also, don’t be afraid to employ another tool that helps manage the CRM data and pushes relevant information to you as needed.
2. Segment Data Into “Fun-Sized” Bites
To ensure that you are able to have relevant conversations at each stage of the sales cycle, you need to know what your prospects and customers are looking for. Start by having candid conversations with them to gauge what kind of answers they’re generally looking for. Then, segment your relevant data (from Twitter, LinkedIn, CRM, and marketing automation tools, etc.) using these identified needs, the stages of the sales cycle and the traits of your prospects’ personas. Doing this will give you fun-sized bundles of information to use as you design and tailor marketing and sales collateral to create better, more relevant content.
3. Analyze the Results, Replicate and Refine
Another way to ensure Big Data doesn’t become a demon you have to ward off is to take a step back and look at your marketing and sales universe holistically. Use the trail of data from each sales cycle to reverse-engineer your successful ones. There’s no need to re-create the wheel and sift through each piece of data every time. By analyzing the marketing and sales behaviors and conversations that were successful, you can refine and replicate them for similar prospects and customers.
Remember: Data is a powerful tool when viewed within the proper context. Always strive to tighten the frame within which your company looks at its data, from having a greater awareness of the stages of your sales cycle to breaking down the data into fun-sized bites, to analyzing the collateral and conversations that were effective so you don’t have to start from scratch.
Big Data can be a demon or an angel; it’s up to you. Take the necessary steps now to ensure that you’ve got the right strategy in place to prevent your sales and marketing teams from being buried alive.
It’s no secret that fans are taking to social media to talk about the series and to get the latest updates and news. So, Sysomos dove into the analytics to find social media super fans for the two teams, the key players to follow on Twitter, as well as the top reporters and bloggers.
According to the statistics, Boston has already won in one category: social fans. We’ll be watching and interacting (use #WorldSeries) to see who comes out on top!
With visions of holiday campaigns and jolly green dollar signs dancing in their heads, many marketers overlook the most important part of a successful online holiday campaign: Web performance. It’s where speed and user experience come together.
For example, websites that take longer than three seconds to load immediately lose 80% of site visitors, and 40% never return. Along those same lines, every 1-second delay results in a 16% drop in customer satisfaction. Site visitors don’t turn into pumpkins after three seconds, but attempting to engage with a sluggish site is frustrating, especially when you consider that people perceive sites to be 15% slower than they really are. A non-optimized landing page is lucky to convert 50% as much as when it’s been tuned. Now, that’s downright terrifying!
And let’s not forget widgets. They sound cute, but these sharp-toothed little monsters are devouring sites left and right. In fact, the most popular marketing widgets are known to suck the speed out of a website, dragging performance into the ground and actually harming your conversion. That’s right… All those must-have third-party widgets that are supposed to improve your marketing efforts are killing your conversion rates. This is no ghost story; every one-second website delay causes a 7% DROP in conversion.
What’s a marketer to do? Don’t let poor web performance kill your holiday marketing dreams. With a few quick adjustments, you can tame widgets, ground high-flying bounces and send conversion rates soaring.
For those widgets already in place, continually assess performance by examining the asset in a waterfall chart like those on websitetest.com and webpagetest.org. If any one widget is dragging down performance noticeably, it might be time to drop it.
For the third-party assets you simply can’t live without, the best way to maintain performance is to ensure that they load asynchronously.
The worst: This script will completely block page loading if getting the script is slow.
Your best choice is to defer loading the third-party component until the user requires it and never load it before the page is fully rendered.
For more widget-busting tips to improve web performance in time for the holiday rush, check out out the Holiday eCommerce Survival Guide.
I am as introverted as they come, particularly when I am out of my element and forced to interact with people that I (gasp) do not know. Confident I’m not the only one, I thought I’d share a few tips that have helped me at recent events.
I recently attended Corporate Visions Marketing & Sales Alignment Conference in Chicago I knew no one, not one single soul in attendance. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I learned quickly that mealtimes can be incredibly awkward for an introvert attending a conference with 400 of her closest non-friends.
Breakfast and lunch happened to be buffet-style in a cavernous ballroom with round table seating. Imagine my panic as I grabbed a plate of food and stared blankly into the sea of unknown bodies trying to determine the best place to pop a squat and eat. A few times, I thought about taking my plate out into the hallway or foregoing the group meal and grabbing something elsewhere. Before I had the chance, Cher’s voice from Moonstruck hit me like a ton of bricks: “Snap out of it!”
What was I thinking? I was at a conference to network, not waste time wallowing in solitude. I put my big-girl pants on, marched over to the least packed table with empty chairs, and timidly asked, “Is anyone sitting here?”
The question worked like a charm as the response that followed was, “You are now.” Followed by a “Hi, I’m so and so…” which sparked conversation and brought me out of my hard candy shell and back to reality.
Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to ask to join people already gathered. Simply asking if you can join a group will almost never be met with a “no”, and can often lead to some really good discussions. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself if you are the newbie joining a group that clearly already knows one another. I learned a lot about people this way and realized it was much better to be with other people than to dine alone.
If time permits, scheduling time to meet with other attendees and/or speakers at an event can help. That is a great way to not only meet new people on your terms but also capture information that can be used for an article or blog post for your own company. (Remember, content rules.) Most people are more than willing to talk about themselves and share their knowledge. Think of the relationships you can develop and build on, during and after the event.
One tip she gave in avoiding these was to find that one friendly face in the crowd. You know the person with the winning smile that seems approachable, and well…approach them and strike up a conversation. There is always at least one person like this (hopefully more) at any event. I will go a step further and say, “Find the person that may be in your shoes—alone and perhaps not knowing anyone else in attendance.” Not everyone at an event is there with colleagues or friends. Find that person (or people) and buddy up!
Jill’s talk also provided other great tips on avoiding networking disasters, especially at a conference or event. Be self-aware. Don’t get so lost in your smartphone that you forget where you are and who is around you. The point of being at an event is to interact with others in person. Be mindful of how your body language is perceived; your head buried in your phone can be off-putting. Eye contact and a smile work wonders.
Events can also be quite draining. We all know this. Be aware of how your lack of energy can come across to others. You may be giving off the “I just want sleep” vibe unintentionally. Jill suggests having some sample questions handy to help fuel the adrenaline and keep you on point during conversations despite what you may be feeling.
As mentioned above, I found a way to overcome my fears and mingle at mealtimes. Cocktail receptions or parties are another great time to come out of your introverted cave and interact with others.
At our B2B forum, I found that I did some of my best networking in social settings over drinks and food. You really can’t go wrong with this combo. (Who doesn’t like to eat and drink?) And it is likely people will be in a much more relaxed frame of mind and willing to chat—and let loose—in this environment. At the Corporate Visions conference, they had an evening reception at the House of Blues. This introvert sang and danced her heart out and had an absolute blast doing so.
What other tips would you give to introverts heading out to a networking event?
Cancer awareness is in the forefront of my mind this week, thanks to a new awareness campaign I just saw. So, I felt I needed to write a few thoughts. You see, my beloved Red Sox are in a dogfight of a World Series, with more twists and turns than the road course at Monaco. But along about the sixth inning in Game 4 of the World Series, Major League Baseball held a very interesting moment to kick off a new campaign for Stand Up to Cancer.
In a very moving show of support, players and fans wrote on a card the name of the person they were standing up for and showed it, quite literally, to the world.
I also happened upon an article in the Huffington Post about one breast-cancer survivor’s opinion of the call for women to go bra-less in support of breast cancer patients and survivors. Without reading it, you can guess that perhaps she was less than enthused.
In addition, I found this haunting set of images as a link in my Facebook feed about one couple’s journey through a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Trust me, if you are not ready to shed a few tears, do not look at these images, it is THAT powerful. I am tearing up just writing these words.
And finally, next month, a dear friend’s foundation is about to grant its One Millionth dollar to needy young adults struggling to get back on their feet after surviving cancer treatment. The SamFund has done amazing work with an extremely focused mission. And while their “Million Dollar Milestone” won’t make the same headlines as these other orgs, I know from reading through the grant applications each year, that each dollar The SAMFund grants a survivor makes a HUGE impact on those recipients. Often times it means the difference between staying in an apartment or living on the street.
As I was reflecting on these events, I thought back to this article I wrote in 2009 about Who Really Owns Brand Cancer? What struck me as I re-read it today was just how powerful the MLB promotion really was. By having each individual put the name of someone close to them who has battled Cancer, it brought the individuality of the cause home.
You see, I believe this even more today, now, seven years post-diagnosis, then I did back in 2009. I don’t believe that Cancer is about wearing pink, or even writing a check to your favorite charity each year. Cancer isn’t about walking in a walk, or even wearing a bracelet (though I do).
No. To me, Cancer is about surviving. It’s about doing everything you can to beat it yourself, or helping someone you know or love beat it themselves. Because Cancer knows no “Six Degrees of Separation.” If you haven’t been touched yet, I hate to break it to you, you will be someday. So wear pink if you will, write a check if you choose. Do the walk, wear the bracelet, do all of those things because they are all important in their own way.
I just ask you to promise yourself this one thing: When it’s your time, show up and BE THERE.
THAT is the most powerful thing you can do. I know what it meant to me and my family and I promise you, no amount of walking, or wearing pink or writing checks will ever replace you being there, in that moment, for yourself, for your loved one, or for your friend. And please don’t wait to be asked—they have too much else on their mind. Just show up and do whatever needs to be done.
You may never know how important just showing up will be to those around you, but I promise, you will have a bigger impact than all those other things combined.
A shopper receives an offer online and arrives at the store to fulfill it, only to find that the physical store no longer exists. That is every retailer’s nightmare. Retailers must be sure that promotions are effective both in store and online, and that one isn’t cannibalizing the other.
Many retailers start by creating a consistent platform—a website or an app that is device-agnostic and is designed for use by everything from laptops to smartphones. That gives shoppers the ability to toggle between their preferred devices, improves the customer experience, and in some instances, can reduce online costs for retailers. The next step is to use a mobile analytics solution.
According to Forrester Research, only 46% of retailers use mobile analytics to understand and assess this channel’s revenue and profitability. If you are doing 10% or more of your e-commerce via mobile or if your mobile channel is growing fast, now is the time to deploy an analytics solution to help you understand profitability across channels. Retailers who take these steps now are likely to avoid misadventures such as this one.
That “marketoon” pokes fun at folks who are blissfully unaware of how much work needs to happen behind the scenes to pull off a successful online holiday season campaign. Sure, some people understand that there are inventory and ordering issues, as well as huge crowds during the holidays, but most, like the e-commerce executive pictured, underestimate just how much work goes into delivering a seamless holiday campaign.
In our 2013 Holiday Predictions Survey, we asked retailers to tell us about the significant investments they made throughout 2013 in preparation for the holiday. The biggest were SEO/SEM, e-commerce platform upgrades, and enhancements in mobile, which includes everything from apps to mobile payments. All those investments require time, budget, human capital, integration with existing systems, and training. It’s certainly takes more than a week to create a successful holiday campaign!