In the Know - June 01-12

I am currently in the process of moving so I have been delayed putting together this week's In the Know....so it is more like the last few weeks In the Know.

As a result I found 6 great articles that I found very useful for small business owners.

  • Build Social Relationships With Influencer Marketing
  • 10 Ways to Create Great Inbound Content for Your Association
  • 16 Key On-Page SEO Factors That Search Engines & Users Love
  • How Twitter's Recent Changes Affect Customer Service
  • 4 Simple Steps for Creating a Social Editorial Calendar

Build Social Relationships With Influencer Marketing

June 4, 2016 by Verónica Jarski


10 Ways to Create Great Inbound Content for Your Association

June 7, 2016 by Joe Fuld

 

1) Know Your Goal

The goal of inbound marketing is to get more people to join or engage with your organization. Your content is an extension of your organization’s overall growth and engagement strategy. Set milestones for your content that ladder up to this growth – number of views, clicks, downloads, new contacts, and members that originated from any given piece of content.   

2) Find Engaging Topics

Your organization has a wealth of experience and value. Use that knowledge to proactively answer questions that people have about organizations and members. This tactic is called “you ask, we answer.” There are so many questions folks have about who you are and what you do that people are search for answers on the web. Think about questions your members might type into goo

3) Care About Keywords

A keyword is simply a word or phrase that people search for online. With over two trillion searches being done this year, ignoring the phrases people search for around your issue can be a huge missed opportunity. You need to do basic research on the keywords people are looking for and the language your ideal constituent uses. Working those words into your content will help your inbound marketing efforts.

4) Get Everyone to Create Content 

Most organizations have a lot of people creating a lot of different content across many different departments. There are likely people in membership, policy, communications and beyond who are writing about your organization in compelling ways. You should have one person in charge of overall content, so all of the great work that your team is doing isn’t lost or duplicated. That way, everyone else can focus on planning, curating and editing content. Check out our post on why everyone should create content here.

5) Social Is Not Enough

We love social media. It’s an easy way to share content and it can increase traffic. But it’s important to think beyond a single tweet. You need good content to get customers to click, and more content on your site to keep them there. 

6) Conversions Matter More Than Traffic

You can have an impressive amount of people visiting your site, but if those browsers are not taking any action to indicate they’re interested or signing up to join your association, it is a waste of a lot of effort. Your goal as an organization is for people to take action. So, your content and website needs to be focused around that. One way to encourage conversions is to think about calls-to-action that matter to you—Donate, get involved, sign up—and then work backward to create content and workflows that drive users toward those actions.

7) Think Quantity and Quality

“How often should we post?” This is a harder question to answer than you might think. There is an ongoing argument around content marketing about quantity vs. quality. Should I have one great 2,000-word post or four 500-word posts? 

Our short answer is you need both quantity and quality. Consistency matters a ton. If you can consistently publish once or twice a week and do a big content offering once a quarter, do that. If you can do more than that great, but don’t start a blog and then stop six months later. Check out HubSpot’s experiment on blog post frequency here.

8) Consider Both Reactive and Evergreen Content

Sometimes, it makes sense for you to create a piece of content that is timely, or reacts to a specific current events. Other times, you should focus on writing something that is just as relevant today as it will be six months from now. A mix of both is important, because it drives different types of people. Some people are looking to solve problems, while others are looking to be entertained or informed on a current issue. Your content should answer all of these questions.

9) Have A Content Mix

Think beyond writing. Video, audio and infographics all have their place mix up the type of content. The goal of trying different approaches (like quizzes, games and paywalls) is to reach and engage folks.

10) Plan Out Your Content 

It’s important to have a calendar. Since inbound marketing is a cross-department effort, you need to have the content be coordinated across departments. Use a content program like Teamup or the HubSpot content calendar to keep track of posts.

Bonus Tips:

Hold A Blog-A-Thon

Wouldn’t it be great to create three times as many blog posts in a single sitting? Get your team around a white board and write 100 questions people would ask about your association. Then write out the answers, and you just created great content, fast.

Create A Video Booth at Events

Have trouble getting video content?  A quiet room and a green screen are a way to capture good member video easily and quickly.

Use A Whiteboard Program  

Whiteboard videos are easy to make and don’t take much time to create. Using a program like VideoScribe, you can take your best written content and turn it into video.

 

- Read More at: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/10-ways-to-create-great-inbound-content-for-your-association#sm.000009t102289afkupppxwu5raqfg


16 Key On-Page SEO Factors That Search Engines & Users Love

June 09, 2016 by Irfan Ahmad


How Twitter's Recent Changes Affect Customer Service

June 10, 2016 by Dan Gingiss

As Jay Baer reports in his new book, Hug Your Haters, customer expectations for customer service in social media are rising quickly. The study he conducted with Edison Research concluded that only 40% of social media complaints are addressed, even though the same study revealed that responding to complaints increases customer advocacy, while not responding decreases it by more than two-fold. Brands are also still to slow to respond on social, with customer expectations hovering around 1 hour - and dropping - and brand response times (for brands that actually do respond) landing at nearly 5 hours, on average.

Twitter’s changes will likely increase demand for customer service on the platform as other users see people in their feed asking questions to brands. This is part of an intentional strategy, as Jeff Lesser outlined in this Focus on Customer Service podcast episode. By trying to establish itself as the best online source for customer service – both for customers and brands – Twitter can address the slow user growth that has plagued its stock.

But customer service on Twitter doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some keys to success:

  1. Answer all questions, comments, complaints, and compliments tweeted directly at your brand handle
  2. Monitor mentions of your brand that don’t use your handle for additional engagement opportunities
  3. Respond quickly – less than an hour is becoming table stakes; less than 15 minutes is best-in-class
  4. Show empathy to customers experiencing problems with your product or service
  5. Personalize the experience by using the customer’s name and signing your response with the agent’s first name

 

-Read More at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/how-twitters-recent-changes-affect-customer-service


4 Simple Steps for Creating a Social Editorial Calendar

June 11, 2016 by Michael Patterson

 

1. Figure out which networks to post to

  • Look to past success - One way to find out which social networks you should spend time on is to look at which networks you’ve already been finding success on. It’s likely that you have a general idea of which sites are effective for your brand, but it can be much more effective to use an analytics tool. Try using a tool like Google Analytics to see which networks are currently driving traffic to your site.
  • Check your demographics - If you've got an idea of who your perfect social media customer is - including age, gender and location - you can look to this infographic on social media demographics to find out exactly which social media websites they’re most likely to frequent.

2. Choose a posting frequency

  • Twitter - Three to six times per day. With 500 million tweets sent on Twitter every day, there’s a chance that your tweets could get lost in the shuffle, which is why you should send messages to the network multiple times every single day. There’s much more acceptance when it comes to posting frequently to Twitter, so why not take full advantage of it?
  • Facebook - Two to three times per day. Facebook has an average of 1.09 billion daily active users, which makes it an incredibly enticing network for marketers to post their content to frequently. However, you also need to consider engagement - Facebook's News Feed algorithm rewards constant engagement, so if you post all day and annoy your fans, your engagement levels will drop, which will also, subsequently, impact your reach.
  • Instagram - One to two times per day. The burgeoning image sharing network has an average of 80 million photos posted every day, and you should make sure that at least one of those is coming from your brand. As the network continues to grow, users are looking for top brands to follow, so getting your content out there early is key.
  • Google+ - One to two times per day. Google+ is a wild card when it comes to posting frequency, but it’s safer to err on the side of posting more often than less. As you can see in the picture taken below, when people search for your brand terms on Google, they often see your most recent Google+ posts. So it’s better to always have a fresh post appear to show that you’re always creating great new content.
  • LinkedIn - One to two times per day. LinkedIn poses a very unique opportunity for companies in the business-to-business space. The nature of LinkedIn draws in an audience that's much more business oriented while visiting, so they may be more inclined to buy a B2B product. Companies in that space should take advantage of this and post more frequently.

3. Find and create fantastic content

  • Use Feedly - Feedly's a content-aggregation site that helps you find some of the best content for sharing with your audience. Simply subscribe to your favorite blogs and publications and Feedly will pull all of the newest articles from those sources into your own content stream. You can then go on to manually share those articles with your followers, or you can set Feedly up to directly share these articles to your social profiles using a platform like Sprout Social.
  • Write a blog - No matter your situation, you have a unique perspective on your industry. Spend some time writing for your company blog - not only will a blog post give you something to share on social, but it'll also expand your personal portfolio. If your company doesn’t have a dedicated blog, you can always turn to a content hosting site like Medium.
  • Create a video - Video is quickly becoming one of the most popular content mediums in the marketing industry. Take advantage of current video trend by creating your own to share with your fans. You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg; even a lower-budget video can resonate well with your audience - "Chewbacca Mom" is the most viewed Facebook Live video of all time, and that was filmed on a smart phone in a car park.
  • Create an image - If you don’t think a video would make for a good social post, then consider an image. This can be something that you take yourself, something that you design completely from scratch or a hybrid of the two. If you’re having trouble, check out this article with 36 free tools to help create unique social media images.

4. Schedule content to fill your calendar

Once you know which networks to post to, how often to post to those networks and exactly what you want to post, all you have to do is start to schedule those messages.

 

- Read More at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/4-simple-steps-creating-social-editorial-calendar

 

In the Know - May 23-29

This week we look at some of the most popular social media and digital marketing articles:

  • How to Make Remote Work Actually Work.
  • 4 Statistic-Based Strategies For Reaching Millennials via Social Ads.
  • 6 Key Notes on Managing a Digital Crisis via Social Media.
  • Why Bad Customer Service Is Burning Your Bottom Line.
  • What Should Your Content Marketing Priorities Be in 2016?

How to Make Remote Work Actually Work

May 23, 2016 by Corey Wainwright

remote work

On Setup & Technology

I have very little in the way of tech savvy, but I do know that a good operational and technical foundation helps remote workforces stay productive. This is where two key teams come into play: Finance & Accounting and IT... Read More Here.

On Communication

The best IT setup in the world doesn't help unless we're all using it toward the right ends. At the risk of being trite, the most successful relationships between in-office employees and their remote team members comes down to good communication from both parties. And figuring out what good communication means is kind of a beast. So bear with me while I try to break it down to its most pertinent parts for our purposes here.

When communicating without the benefit of body language or tone, clarity with written and verbal communication is more important than ever. In an ideal world, everyone's already really good at finding the right words to say what they mean. But that's not reality, so we're left with a few options here:

1) Try to be better at it. If you're writing an email, take a beat to reread what you've written. See if you've really communicated what you're trying to say clearly and succinctly.

2) Know that reading comprehension matters. If you're on the receiving end of a com... ask clarifying questions before responding with an equally confusing answer. 

3) Avoid reading into tone. People's tones suck sometimes. Especially over email. If a typically bubbly person didn't include a barrage of emojis or explanation points, they're probably just running late, or feeling stressed ... or something else that has nothing to do with you.

On Management

If managers are interested in hiring remote team members, they'll have some specific responsibilities to keep things chugging along nicely. Most of this is just about setting the right precedent for how to think about remote work for your team -- I've broken it down into the stuff you need to do proactively, and what you need to squash.... Read More Here.

After you've got the infrastructure set up, to me, most of this really comes down to good hiring. Get the right person, for the right role. If you've got capable people you can trust in a role, you should be able to trust that not only are they doing good work, but that they'll let you know if and when they need something different from you.

The right person can make even roles that you don't think will work in a remote scenario, work. (Unless that role is chef. Then you definitely need to be at work.)

-Read More At: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/remote-work-practices#sm.00001lriuxtavld1apf031vvwx8o9


4 STATISTIC-BASED STRATEGIES FOR REACHING MILLENNIALS VIA SOCIAL ADS

May 26, 2016 by Carolyn Berk

photo credit: http://cdn.business.transworld.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2016/03/millennials.jpg

photo credit: http://cdn.business.transworld.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2016/03/millennials.jpg

It's undeniable that the Millennial generation will shape the economy for years to come. With over 92 million Millennials in the US alone, the generation born between 1980 and 2000 is the biggest in US history. And according to a Goldman Sachs survey, Millennials are turning to social media when making purchasing decisions - which means brands need to explore social advertising in order to reach this group.

Here are some strategies to help ensure your social hit the mark with Millennials.

1. BE MOBILE-MINDED

Millennials are massively mobile. In fact, one in five Millennials access the internet exclusively through mobile devices. If marketers want to get in front of this group of smartphone fanatics, mobile advertising is the way to do it. 

Travel company Booking.com features several elements that read particularly well on the smaller screens of tablets and smartphones in the Facebook ad below.

The ad uses vivid imagery and bright colors to create an interesting visual effect that leaps out at users as they scroll through their Facebook News Feeds. The ad also sticks to a simple theme of letting users choose between two trip activities - this theme's easy to understand and doesn't require reading a convoluted wall of text, which can be a difficult task on older devices like the iPhone 4. Yet this concept also communicates the wide variety of activities that millennial audiences can access when they use Booking.com to plan their trips.

2. PROVIDE SOCIAL PROOF

Millennials value the opinion of their peers. According to eMarketer, nearly 70% of Millennial social media users are at least somewhat influenced to make a purchase based on friends' posts.

Providing social proof of the quality of your product or service is vital for winning over young consumers. Therefore, it's important that you prove - not preach - why audiences should be interested in what your company has to offer by sharing customer testimonials or enlisting the help of social influencers.

Secondhand clothing retailer thredUP uses the power of social proof in the Facebook video ad above. The ad features a compilation of current thredUP customers singing the company’s praises. Instead of dictating to audiences about why it’s so wonderful, thredUP lets actual customers advertise the company in a more relatable, realistic and resonant way. Millennial audiences who view this video will be tempted to learn more about the service after seeing real social proof that thredUP is worth their time and money.

3. OFFER HELPFUL CONTENT

When it comes to crafting ads that appeal to Millennials, it helps to be helpful. 

64% of Millennials respond positively to content that they find useful, and 31% say they are more likely to buy from a brand that delivers interesting content that teaches them something. Ads that provide handy relevant information to Millennial audiences won’t have a hard time catching their interest and attention.

 

Samsung uses Instagram’s new video carousel ad unit to reach young audiences looking to capture brilliant pictures to post to the image-sharing site. In the video portion of the ad, Samsung subtly promotes its phone camera functions by showing off tricks and lighting techniques from professional photographer Matt Doscher. The video organically showcases the camera features that come with the phone while providing helpful information. The copy of the ad also avoids the hard sell, instead inviting audiences to click through the ad to learn even more tips from Matt.

4. BE RELEVANT - AND IF YOU CAN, BE FUNNY

Millennials are much more likely to connect with your brand and increase awareness among their peers if you can provoke an emotional response with your ads – and that includes amusement. According to NewsCred, 70% of Millennials say their main reason for sharing content is that it makes them laugh. Music streaming service Spotify tailored the Twitter ad campaign below to put a humorous spin on a popular discussion. After the Super Tuesday primaries in the United States, Google searches for “how can I move to Canada” surged.

Spotify took a cue from this trending topic and designed an animated Twitter ad offering playlists of Canadian music that audiences should listen to if they decide to go ahead with their relocation up north.

By contributing to a conversation that’s already happening online, providing a silly take on politics, and posting an ad on a primarily mobile, news-focused channel like Twitter, Spotify is able to become a part of the discussion in a way that Millennials will appreciate.

- Read More At: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/4-statistic-based-strategies-reaching-millennials-social-ads#sthash.UCvrkm5K.dpuf


6 KEY NOTES ON MANAGING A DIGITAL CRISIS VIA SOCIAL MEDIA

May 27, 2016 by Steve Poole

digital crisis via social media

Data breaches have become more common than most industries care to admit. The aftermath of high-profile cases like TargetHome DepotJP Morgan Chase and Heartbleed have resulted in digital communications teams rethinking their crisis communications plans, especially via social media.

Having been in the trenches, the biggest challenge is often consumer perception. While some consumers understand that a breach is often third-party related, many others simply point their fingers at their financial institution. They assume their bank is at fault because their account was hacked and money is missing or compromised.

Luckily, a strong, comprehensive crisis communications plan can help address this issue, as well as many other problematic conversations that take place on digital channels.

From credit card hacks to stolen identities, integrating social media into your crisis communication plan will help you even the digital playing field during an emergency.

Here are six key tips:

1. MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA PART OF YOUR PLAYBOOK

While it seems almost elementary, many organizations still don't have a defined plan that details when or how social media becomes part of the data breach communications strategy.

In today’s world, Facebook updates and tweets are just as important as media releases and member communications. While a reassuring and informative phone call or email is preferred, it’s not always possible - more and more consumers are turning to social media during a digital crisis. As a result, questions and conversations will need to be addressed within the channel they originated. Following a more traditional crisis communications plan and simply issuing a press release does little to help calm customers who are actively tweeting away or posting on Facebook.

Tip: A standard best practice should be to keep the content and messaging brief, yet reassuring and informational.

2. GATHER THE FACTS

In the event of a data breach crisis, your internal team will need to act fast. Immediately get your internal stakeholders together, whether it’s in person or over the phone, and discuss the crisis. Gather the facts quickly, and discuss how your company and customers will be affected by the breach. Make sure the entire company is on the same page internally. Once the facts are straight, prepare the narrative you wish to communicate to your customers and execute any existing crisis communications plans. 

Tip: Social media managers should use monitoring tools to search for specific mentions of the issue across digital channels, but hold off on engagement until facts are collected and the appropriate responses are ready.

3. COMMUNICATE TO EXISTING CUSTOMERS FIRST

While social media is an important facet of digital communications, it’s important to leverage internal customer communication first. Whether it’s a phone call or email, communicating your narrative to your customers first will pull you ahead of the situation. Be sure to act fast once your narrative is in place because the last thing you want is your customers finding out about the breach somewhere else.

Being proactive in these situations is the best route you can take. 

Tip: It’s important to remember that any private customer communications will likely end up in a public domain, either via social media or another medium. Make sure you’re comfortable with your materials being shared. 

4. SHARE UPDATES IN PUBLIC

Once you’ve proactively communicated the agreed upon narrative to your customers, it’s time to take the conversation to social media. Before posting to your social media channels, it’s extremely important to cancel any existing updates. Your customers and the public won’t care about updates unrelated to the digital crisis. You should focus your posts on the breach or crisis for a few days until it’s behind you. In addition to your narrative, consider posting additional tips about how to protect your personal information for the future.

In addition to posting updates on social, putting a message on your website in a prominent area will be beneficial to your communications plan.

Tip: When posting to social media, it’s important to tailor your messaging to each channel. Social media was built for brevity - less is often more, even on networks with no character limits. Approach each channel with information the average consumer will understand. 

5. RESPOND AND COMMUNICATE ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS

Customers who've been the victim of a data breach or digital crisis are often very emotional. When dealing with these issues, be overly empathetic. Your social responses cannot be the same canned response when addressing their concerns. Always address questions, comments and concerns with a customized, empathetic response. This helps you avoid looking like a robot and shows your customers you understand their worries and frustrations.

If a customer becomes irate on social media or asks too many technical, industry-specific questions about the data breach, politely take the conversation offline. Ask the customer to private message you their phone number or email and let them know someone from your management team will reach out shortly to speak with them. 

Tip: Never argue or debate with a customer on social media, it'll only hurt your brand. In the same vein, long conversations on social media about the tedious ins and outs of a specific issue can sometimes be harmful when you’re still navigating through the issue yourself and don’t have all of the answers.

6. UPDATES ARE KEY

Keeping your customers up-to-date with the most recent information about the digital crisis is key. As new details emerge, repeat the initial steps you previously took to inform your customers and the public.

Tip: Be as transparent as possible, but not overly technical with details that could confuse the average consumer. Sharing consistent, constant communication will gain the respect and trust of both your customers and the public.

From crafting your message, to keeping your customers up-to-date with the most recent knowledge, integrating social media communications into your crisis communication playbook is a vital part of effectively handling a digital crisis. It'll benefit both you and your customers by providing transparency, access and support during a digital crisis. It could even end up saving your company’s reputation.

- Read More At: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/6-key-notes-managing-digital-crisis-social-media#sthash.rD4i0aSW.dpuf


Why Bad Customer Service Is Burning Your Bottom Line

May 28, 2016 by Verónica Jarski


What Should Your Content Marketing Priorities Be in 2016?

May 29, 2016 by MICHELE LINN 

 

Your order may be a bit different, based on the maturity of your content marketing program. However, you can use this list, which starts with the activities most organizations should be prioritizing. However, what you rank as important in your organization may vary, so use this list as a guide so you can have conversations with your team on what you should prioritize so you are all working toward the same goals.

  • Better understanding your audience
  • Creating more-engaging content
  • Better understanding what is and isn’t effective
  • Finding more/better ways to repurpose content
  • Content optimization
  • Creating visual content
  • Becoming better storytellers
  • Becoming a stronger writer
  • Content curation
  • Content personalization

-Read More At: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/05/content-strategy-practices-2016/

In the Know - May 15-22

This week we look back at the following articles:

  • The A/B Testing Checklist You'll Want to Bookmark
  • Brand Personification: The Ultimate Way to Get to Know Your Brand
  • 5 Steps to Improve Your Customer Service Using Twitter
  • 7 Helpful Resources Every Email Marketer Should Bookmark
  • The Most Important Mobile E-Commerce Features

The A/B Testing Checklist You'll Want to Bookmark

May 17, 2016 by Lindsay Kolowich

When marketers like us create landing pages, write email copy, or design call-to-action buttons, it can be tempting to use our intuition to predict what will make people click and convert.

But basing marketing decisions off of a "feeling" can be pretty detrimental to results. Rather than relying on guesses or assumptions to make these decisions, you're much better off running conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests.

One of the easier (and most common) types of CRO tests is called an A/B test. An A/B test simply tests one variable in a piece of marketing content against another, like a green call-to-action button versus a red one, to see which performs better. 

So, what does it take to run an A/B test, exactly? Keep reading to learn what an A/B test is in a little more detail, followed by a full checklist for what marketers should do before, during, and after these tests. You'll want to bookmark this for your next one.

How A/B Tests Work

To run an A/B test, you need to create two different versions of one piece of content with changes to a single variable. Then, you'll show these two versions to two similarly sized audiences, and analyze which one performed better.

For example, let's say you want to see if moving a certain call-to-action button to the top of your homepage instead of keeping it in the sidebar will improve its conversion rate.

To A/B test this change, you'd create another, alternative web page that reflected that CTA placement change. The existing design -- or the "control" -- is Version A. Version B is the "challenger."

Checklist for Running an A/B Test

Before the A/B Test

1) Pick one variable to test.

2) Choose your goal.

3) Set up your "control" and your "challenger."

Set up your unaltered version of whatever you're testing as your "control." 

From there, build a variation, or a "challenger" -- the website, landing page, or email you’ll test against your control. 

4) Split your sample groups equally and randomly.

5) Determine your sample size (if applicable).

6) Decide how significant your results need to be.

7) Make sure you're only running one test at a time on any campaign.
 

During the A/B Test

8) Use an A/B testing tool.

 Google Analytics' Experiments, which lets you A/B test up to 10 full versions of a single web page and compare their performance using a random sample of users.

9) Test both variations simultaneously.

10) Run the test long enough to get substantial results.

11) Ask for feedback from real users.
 

After the A/B Test

12) Focus on your goal metric.

Again, although you'll be measuring multiple metrics, keep your focus on that primary goal metric when you do your analysis.

13) Measure the significance of your results using a tool like HubSpot's A/B testing calculator.

14) Take action based on your results.

15) Plan your next test.
 

You can even try conducting an A/B test on another feature of the same web page or email you just did a test on. For example, if you just tested a headline on a landing page, why not do a new test on body copy? Or color scheme? Or images? Always keep an eye out for opportunities to increase conversion rates and leads.

-Read More at: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/a-b-test-checklist#sm.0001je3n6m4pdd9oy621d6ok5cgzn


Brand Personification: The Ultimate Way to Get to Know Your Brand

May 18, 2016 by Coralyn Loomis

brand personification

What if your company were a person—someone you can sit down with, take out to lunch, and let babysit your kids?

Would you like them as you would a best friend, or would you screen their calls?

Often we think of our brands as a foreign identity, a corporate brick-and-mortar presence, without recognizing that its external reputation is like that of a person's.

People by nature humanize things. From "I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER?" to creepy mops with faces, we give personality to things that likely have none, because doing so makes them relatable.

But when attempting to define, understand, and promote our brands, we often have an orthodox, impersonal way of doing things. We define our brands through the colors we use, our value proposition statements, and target market. Yet, in the end, we market to humans—and humans, by nature, do not care about what you are... they care about who you are.

 

By building our brands from the inside out, we can connect with our values, goals, and customers even more. A brand (as many of us know) is more than just a mission statement. It's an overall reputation.


- Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2016/29950/brand-personification-the-ultimate-way-to-get-to-know-your-brand#ixzz49OmWp1gO


5 Steps to Improve Your Customer Service Using Twitter

May 18, 2016 by Beth Gladstone

improve customer service using twitter

1: Create Internal and External Policies

Create two policies: one to clarify what’s expected from internal staff, and the other to address customer expectations and how to ensure their concerns are being heard.
 

#2: Assign Role Responsibility

Whose job is it to manage your customer service online? If the responsibility lies with just one person, it’s fairly easy. However, if there are multiple customer service advocates for your brand, or the number changes on weekends and holidays, then you need a structure for areas of responsibility.
 

#3: Create a Flowchart for Inbound Attention

A PR crisis is the last thing you want on Twitter. At the same time, though, you shouldn’t be afraid to converse and interact with your customers and followers. Many Twitter users with large followings cite conversing and interacting with their followers as a way to grow and gain attention.

Inbound attention can be great for exposure and opportunity, but only when handled right. This means you need to set the tone for how you want your inbound attention to be handled and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
 

#4: Set Up Response Templates

Just like email customer service, your Twitter responses may be repetitive. To save minutes (and possibly hours) over time, collect the most commonly needed information, answers, or associated feedback to quickly batch your customer service responses.

You can create this template within a Google spreadsheet or similar tool. This gives your team fast access to responses that can be copied and pasted into Twitter or your social media monitoring tool.
 

#5: Reach Out to Customers and Prospects Alike

Part of great customer service is making your customers feel great! Use Twitter to publicly support your customers and make them feel special.

Make a Twitter list of customers who are on Twitter. If you need help finding their handles, you can use a tool such as Clearbit to help track them down. Next, scan through the list to find questions, articles, or conversations that you can join with your audience. Where you can, share your customers’ articles or services to show you’re as loyal to them as they are to you.

Conclusion

Providing great customer service on Twitter (or any other social media channel) isn’t always easy, but it remains essential for your brand arsenal when it comes to keeping your customers and clients happy. Being successful means creating a clear internal and external policy for your company, providing clear guidance to customers, and using the channel as a way to monitor and respond to inbound attention. All within 140 characters, of course!

With the right strategy in place, your Twitter feed can become a powerful means of gaining new customers and impressing existing ones.

- Read More at: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/5-steps-to-improve-your-customer-service-using-twitter/


7 Helpful Resources Every Email Marketer Should Bookmark

May 19, 2016 by Erik Devaney

Email Marketing Resources

 

1) HTML Email Gallery

Here's another great resource for finding email inspiration. But in contrast to the Really Good Emails website, which showcases emails of all kinds, the HTML Email Gallery exclusively showcases examples of design-heavy, HTML emails. It's a great site to bookmark if you're looking to take the design of your emails up a notch.

 

2) Touchstone Subject Line Analyzer

Touchstone Subject Line Analyzer tool will show you projected open rates, click rates, and other helpful stats based on Touchstone's database. It's like taking your subject line for a test drive before making the decision to use it.

The tool also lets you upload your own email data, so you can see how your actual subscribers are responding to your subject lines. While using Touchstone's full database for analyzing subject lines is great for identifying trends, using your own data can give you insight into what's working (and what's not working) with your specific audience.

 

3) IsValid

After running an email experiment (e.g., testing which subject line receives more opens) and collecting all the data, there's one question that email marketers are often left with: "Are my findings statistically significant?"

With the free IsValid web tool, you don't need to be a statistician in order to answer that question. Just enter the sample size and conversions/metrics from your original data set, then do the same for your experimental data set, and voilà: IsValid will automatically analyze the results and show you the degree of statistical significance. No math required.

 

4) The HubSpot'S Email Marketing Topic Page

This post you're reading right now ... we've got a ton more like it. In fact, we have a whole subset of our blog dedicated to email marketing content. 

 

5) The Best of Email's Inspiration Gallery

As its name implies, The Best of Email is a website dedicated to highlighting top-notch emails that you can use as inspiration for your own email marketing campaigns. From examples of 'welcome' emails to killer email newsletter designs, The Best of Email has something for everyone. 

 

6) SendForensics Email Deliverability Test

Want to make sure your emails will reach their intended destinations? SendForensics has got you covered with their free Email Deliverability Test.

After you sign up for an account, SendForensics will provide you with an email address that you can add to your contacts list and use for testing. When you send an email to that address, the Email Deliverability Test will provide you with a deliverability percentage (see screenshot below for example).

 

7) HubSpot Research

Hubspot's research site -- HubSpot Research -- offers a ton of data across all facets of marketing. But if you go to the site's chart-building tool, and filter the data by the "Email" category, you'll be able to get your hands on our latest email marketing insights.

 

From exploring email open rates by company size, to checking out clickthrough rates by annual revenue, there's a lot of great email marketing data available. And best of all, we're always updating HubSpot Research with fresh findings.

- Read More at: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/websites-every-email-marketer-should-bookmark#sm.0001je3n6m4pdd9oy621d6ok5cgzn


The Most Important Mobile E-Commerce Features

May 20, 2016 by Ayaz Nanji

Consumers who use their smartphones to shop say the most important feature of a mobile e-commerce offering is the ability to allow shoppers to easily see product photos, according to a recent report from Nielsen.

The report was based on data from a survey of 3,734 adults age 18 and older in the United States who have used their smartphone or tablet for mobile shopping, paying, or banking in the past 30 days.

Some 62% of respondents say being able to see product photos is an important feature when using their smartphone to shop.

Less than half, 48%, say having a mobile-friendly site is important.

Other highly-desired e-commerce features are clear product descriptions (44%), product reviews (44%), and pricing (44%).

Mobile E-Commerce Features

In the Know - May 8-14

This week's In the Know we will look at:

  • Turning Your Most Loyal Customers into Steadfast Brand Advocates
  • Instagram’s Analytics Tools are Coming – Here’s How They'll Work
  • How to Upgrade Your B2B Marketing Strategy with AdWords
  • Small Business Owners' Favorite Digital Tools and Platforms
  • 7 Steps You Need to Take Before Paying for Social Media Ads

brand ambassadors

Turning Your Most Loyal Customers into Steadfast Brand Advocates 

May 15, 2016 by Martin Jones

Turning a young startup into a thriving business is no easy task, and it requires a long process of building up brand recognition.

In the beginning, no one will have heard of your company, and no one will care - so how do you get the consuming public to notice your brand and consider spending their money? 

Eventually, if your products and services are good enough, you should find people who are fiercely loyal to your company, so much so that they’re willing to tell their friends and spread awareness for you.

How can you capitalize on their appreciation? How can you take these strong relationships and get the maximum effect from them? That’s an important goal. Once you establish a customer base, you want to grow it exponentially.

Here’s how.

The Value of Relationships in Nurturing Brand Advocates

Customer advocates increase your marketing clout without breaking the bank. Entrepreneurial adviser William Mougayar notes in “7 Marketing Trends for Tech Startups in 2014” that we tend to spend a lot of money on advertising and sponsorships, but advocacy can be a lot more effective. It just takes time and the willingness to nurture your customer relationships. “Your advocates are probably the easiest group of people to establish a relationship with, because they are totally committed to your product,” Mougayar points out. “You just need to lightly orchestrate their actions in areas like referrals, case studies, reviews, and allow them to communicate their expertise to their peers.The Value of Relationships in Nurturing Brand Advocates.

ESTABLISHING A STEADY DIALOGUE

That’s a matter of responding positively to people’s reviews and encouraging additional communication.

You want feedback to be a continuous loop, not just a one-time thing. Once people engage the first time, you want to make them feel welcome so they keep coming back. Eventually, these people will turn into ambassadors for your brand.

HOW EMAIL MARKETING FITS IN

You might soon reach the point where consumers are willing to share their email addresses with you and continue the dialogue that way. Young recommends email campaigns as a powerful tool for engaging customers. She points to data from the “2015 State of Marketing” report, which showed that 72% of email marketers rate email loyalty campaigns as “effective” or “very effective.” Therefore, it’s important to nurture relationships via email.

“Include valuable, newsworthy, or money-saving content in your email campaigns to encourage subscribers to forward to their friends and family,” Young advises.

SPREADING THE WORD

Whenever customers recommend your company, you want to call attention to it. If the word is positive about your business, you want to spread it.

Social media can help you make the most of customer testimonials and other positive feedback. In “How To Put Testimonials To Work For Your Business,” marketing expert Allie Naughton advises sharing all new testimonials via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and your other social networks.

If you’re really lucky, a snowball effect will ensue - people will see all the positive comments, and they’ll feel compelled to share their own success stories.

“Remember, no one tells your story better than your customers,” says Naughton. “People want to hear what it’s really like working with you, and your existing customers can describe the experience better than anyone else - even you.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW

  • Commit to nurturing customer relationships as part of your marketing strategy.
  • Respond to reviews in a diplomatic way, encouraging customers to continue their conversation with you. Engage customers who reach out on social media.
  • Use email campaigns to provide value to customers (in the form of relevant content, notification about sales, coupons, and the like) and invite their feedback.
  • Make sure to amplify any positive responses you receive. Post testimonials and other feedback on your website and social media channels.

- See more at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/turning-your-most-loyal-customers-steadfast-brand-advocates#sthash.DjtsZcuW.dpuf


Instagram’s Analytics Tools are Coming – Here’s How They'll Work

May 14, 2016 Andrew Hutchinson

Earlier this month, Instagram management tool Later.com (formerly Latergramme) provided a first look at the new Instagram brand profiles which are currently being tested among a select group of users. The new brand profiles include a prominent 'Contact' button, which allows you to directly e-mail the business or get directions to their store, a business categorization field, which'll help users find your brand, and improved location listings. - 

instagram contact button

And this week, Later.com also got their hands on some images of the new brand analytics options for Instagram. Included within the new business profiles, Instagram’s analytics options provide a range of new insights and tools to help businesses make better use of their Instagram profiles and gain more understanding of what’s resonating with their followers. Here’s how they work.

First off, Instagram’s analytics tools will be accessible from the front page of your brand profile – in the top bar of the screen, there’ll be a new analytics button to the right.

Once clicked, you’ll be taken to a new screen of analytics tools – Instagram’s adopted the Facebook term ‘Insights’ for the new option.

[One] of these tools is a listing of information about where your followers are located, geographically, and at what times they’re most commonly active on the app.

Instagram Insights

And [main] element is post analytics, with data on how many impressions each of your posts has garnered, which you can list by either the past week or the past month. 

Instagram Impressions

The main difference here is Instagram is showing you how many people saw your post, as opposed to how many people ‘Liked’ it, which provides additional context as to how your audience is responding to your content, and which of your posts are generating the best response.

- See more at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/instagrams-analytics-tools-are-coming-heres-how-theyll-work#sthash.7oexODO5.dpuf


How to Upgrade Your B2B Marketing Strategy with AdWords

May 13, 2016 by Callie Hinman

B2B Marketing AdWords

Neatly Organize Your Keywords and Ad Groups

One of the most critical elements of your SEM campaigns is the organization of your keywords. Here are the best practices to create ad groups:

  • Group keywords with similar themes: For example, put all “software” keywords in one ad group, separate from “solutions” or “platform” keywords
  • Divide informational keywords and transactional keywords: For example, “what is customer relationship management” versus “buy crm software”, or “do i need crm” versus “customer relationship management solutions”

Structuring your ad groups like this allows you to tailor both your ad copy and your landing page to best fit the keywords, and makes it easier to detect performance patterns and execute appropriate bid and status adjustments.

By grouping keywords by theme, if a prospect searches “crm platform” and is served two ads—one with the headline “Top CRM Software” and one with the headline “Top CRM Platform”—that prospect is more likely to click on the latter. Relevancy is key in every part of SEM campaigns.
 

Enhance Your Ads with Extensions

AdWords offers many ways to beef up your search ads with extensions, and you should use as many as possible. Here’s why:

  • Your ads will take up more of that precious real estate in search results, pushing your competitors farther down the page
  • Searchers can learn more about your company without clicking your ad
  • You can provide links to additional landing pages
  • Google rewards those who use ad extensions with higher quality scores, which means lower cost per click and, in turn, a lower cost per conversion

With ad extensions, marketers can not only include more information about the company (using callout extensions and structured snippets), but they can also include four more links in addition to the main landing page. This means you can offer five different conversion opportunities with one ad.

Use the Proper Landing Pages

B2B SEM campaigns traditionally use two types of landing pages: direct-response and content downloads. Both are equally important in paid search marketing.

Many marketers make the critical mistake of not taking advantage of content. They assume the best practice is to cut to the chase and simply tell searchers, “Let’s talk,” regardless of where the searcher is in the buyer’s journey. However, the actual best practice is to use paid search together with content marketing to start the lead nurturing process.
 

BONUS TIP: Feel free to have multiple conversion opportunities on your PPC landing pages. For instance, include a link to a gated PDF download of an industry report or eBook on a Contact Us page (example below). If a prospective customer arrives on the landing page but doesn’t want to chat right then, they can download the content instead, and you still capture their email address. Win-win!

- See more at: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/upgrade-b2b-marketing-software-strategy-with-adwords#sm.0000xu9isms2idkavo42nwup471ec


Small Business Owners' Favorite Digital Tools and Platforms

May 12, 2016 by Ayaz Nanji

Which software programs and digital platforms do small business owners recommend most to their peers?

To find out, Alignable polled 7,500 small business owners in 1Q16 about how likely they are to recommend popular digital brands. Each product/service was then assigned an NPS score.

The businesses surveyed are all based in North America and employ fewer than 50 people.

WordPress, Mailchimp, Authorize, Google, Square, and PayPal are the most recommended digital brands by small businesses owners, the survey found

Other key findings from the report:

  • Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter all are trending positively with small business owners.
  • Wave's free back office software is gaining popularity with small businesses.
  • Yelp continues to be viewed very negatively by small business owners.

 

Check out this infographic to see how popular brands fared in 1Q16 compared with 4Q15 results:


7 Steps You Need to Take Before Paying for Social Media Ads

May 12, 2016 by Aaron Agius

1. Establish Who You’re Going to Be Targeting

You can’t create a social media ad, target it to “everyone”, and expect to see results. The best performing social media ads are those that are targeted at a very specific audience. 

2. Decide How Much You Want to Spend

Advertising should not be an impulse buy. Instead you should be deciding how much you want (and can afford) to spend ahead of time. Failing to do so could result in:

  1. Overspending
  2. Underspending, or
  3. Spending too much too soon

Determine your budget before you begin using paid social ads and you will be able to distribute your budget fairly throughout the month.

3. Decide What You Want to Achieve

Your goals will determine the type of ad you’re going to create - especially on Facebook, where advertisers are spoilt for choice.

If you want increase your following you’ll probably want to promote your page, or potentially, boost a post. If you’re looking to promote a piece of content, you could boost a post, but you could also choose to “send people to your website”.

This is a decision you need to make prior to each new ad you create. 

4. Optimize Your Conversion Funnels

When a visitor lands on your site via a paid social ad, where should they go and what do you want them to do next?

In order to maximize the value of the visitors you get via paid social ads, it’s important that a clear path to conversion is laid out for them once they land on your site.

Failure to complete this step risks wasting an otherwise qualified and targeted lead (a lead that you’ve probably paid good money for).

5. Decide How You’re Going to Track Results

We don’t all share the same goals when it comes to social media marketing. 

Some of us might be looking to grow our followers. 

Some might want to build their email list. 

Some might be trying to increase sales on their website. 

It’s important that before you begin paying for social media ads you determine what you’re aiming to achieve and how you plan to track your results.

6. Use Free Social Media to Test Your Ads

Before you begin paying for social media ads it makes sense to use standard (i.e. free) social posts to test subject matter, images, and copy.

Will your sample size of responses be very small?

Probably.

But that doesn’t mean the number of likes, shares, and comments these posts receive won’t teach you a few valuable lessons that can help you make more informed decisions when it comes to creating paid ads.

7. Draft Multiple Ads

The best marketers are always testing - testing landing pages, emails, contact forms, and much more. Social media ads are no different. While it’s a great idea to monitor the responses your free social media posts get, the information you’ll gather is only useful up to a point.

To ensure you’re getting the very best results from your ads, you should be split testing them. To do that, you need to be drafting multiple ads. 

You might want to change the images, your copy, or the ad type you use. That’s up to you. Whatever you choose to test, your goal is to establish which variation of that ad performs best for you.

Paid social media advertising is effective and great value for money, but like with most things in life, it pays to be prepared. If you want to maximize the ROI of your paid ads (and why wouldn’t you?) completing the above seven steps will serve you well.

- See more at: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-business/7-steps-you-need-take-paying-social-media-ads