Categories : Be Impossible , Branding , Online Marketing

Put A Little Sass Into It! Creating A Voice For Your Brand

Put A Little Sass Into It! Creating A Voice For Your Brand

Are you looking for a way to help your brand stand out from the crowd? Sometimes, the best thing you can do is relax and get real with your customers. 

A lot of brands use their social media accounts to offer discounts or sales. Others tell stories that tug on their follower’s heartstrings. Some send out an occasional inspiring message to the world — but the posts that grab people’s attention are the ones that entertain.

Don’t believe it? Consider this:

There’s a tremendous amount of value in humor as a tool for entertainment — not just because it inspires a chuckle or two. Humor, done with just the right amount of sass, can actually crack the cynical armor most consumers are wearing these days when they’re interacting with various brands.

Humor disarms. There’s been a crisis of trust developing for a while now between brands and consumers, but it’s hard to feel distrustful when you’re laughing along with someone.

Why Does Humor Help Build Consumer Trust?

Only about 34% of consumers say that they trust the brands they use — and 53% say they can spot it when a brand is somewhat less-than-truthful (a term called “trust-washing.) Yet, 81% of consumers say that trust is a huge part of their choice to purchase from a brand. That statistic alone gives brands powerful insight into an opportunity that can easily go to waste.

If you can get a laugh from a consumer, you accomplish two things. You relax the consumer and you create a memorable instance that — quite frequently — people want to share. Physiologically and psychologically, the mere act of laughing, chuckling, or grinning allows a moment of self-awareness, an unspoken vulnerability, an instance of intimacy, and (ultimately) a little bit of trust to creep in.

There’s a reason that tweets and memes from brands like Wendy’s and Netflix have managed to go viral from time to time. They’re funny but not cruel, snarky without being overly sharp. Wendy’s and Netflix has learned to poke just the right amount of fun at competitors and pop culture outrages. Bud Light recently figured out how to do the same when it picked up on the viral joke knowns as the “Area 51 Raid” by offering free beer to any aliens who made it off the compound.

How Do You Unlock Your Brand’s Humor?

Before your brand can effectively use humor in its posts, you have to get to know your brand’s voice. Ask yourself this: “If this brand were a person, who would he or she be?” Once you know the answer, you’ll have the key to unlocking your brand’s particular sense of humor.

You also have to be willing to take risks. A good quip comes back fast — it doesn’t go through five layers of approval and vetting before it gets posted. That means trusting your social media team to make decisions about what to post without a huge amount of oversight. 

Remember what we were talking about earlier about humor and vulnerability? Embrace it. You have to let go a little and let that sassy, cheeky, funny sideshow the real you behind your brand.

Categories : Social Media

Your 2019 Social Media Index: Everything You Need to Know

Your 2019 Social Media Index: Everything You Need to Know

Our partner Sprout Social surveyed more than 1,000 social marketers and more than 1,000 consumers with the goal to understand how social media can provide the most value to brands. Here are the five topics I think you need to know you should know about from the latest Sprout Social Index.

 

The Value of Social Continues to Grow

Data shows the popularity of social only continues to grow, for both brands and consumers. Facebook continues to be the market leader overall, but it’s important to remember how specific audiences use different social platforms. For instance, while 77% of Generation X says Facebook is their primary platform for liking or following brands, 69% of Generation Z says Instagram is their platform of choice. Regardless of the network, a majority of people who follow brands on social are likely to visit those brands’ websites and physical stores, recommend those brands to friends and family, choose those brands over competitors and spend more with them. This is especially true of Millennials: 84% said they’re more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social compared to one they don’t. So, basically, social media is a big deal right now and is only getting bigger. If you want to grow your brand, you should consider the platform your target audience uses most.

 

Brand Awareness is a Top Priority

While most brands say increasing brand awareness is their #1 goal, the majority are focused on metrics associated with engagement. Only 41% of social marketers focus on amplification and brand awareness metrics. Metrics such as reach and impressions – in other words, the number of eyeballs seeing branded content – are more important to brand awareness than engagement metrics such as likes and comments. There appears to be a disconnect for many brands regarding what social metrics to measure and how.

 

Consumers Demand Responsive Care

Consumers follow brands on social to learn more about their offerings, be entertained, and generally stay up to date on what’s new, but they tend to unfollow them because of poor customer service. Failing to provide responses also leads to more “unfollows.” In fact, 29% of consumers unfollow brands on social due to ignored posts and mentions. The majority of consumers will like, comment on and share entertaining and inspirational content, but they’ll leave brands behind if they experience underwhelming customer care. To sum up, DON’T underestimate the power of a simple response on social media! If you are curious about improving your response and customer care on social media, you should explore how Chatbots can help deliver fast, reliable customer care.

 

Authenticity Matters more than Celebrity

Celebrities and influencers can help brands boost awareness and interest among consumers, but authentic posts from company leaders and employees are more impactful. In fact, the use of influencers to help sell products can sometimes backfire and cause consumers to stop following a brand altogether (think Nike and Colin Kaepernick). That’s why nearly three-quarters of all social marketers use their employees as social media advocates. Employees make great brand advocates just ask Zendesk and the City of Las Vegas. Employee advocacy programs are an awesome way to grow your social media presence and brand, but they can also be hard to get started. That’s where these new employee advocacy ideas come in! If you’re worried about finding the right celebrity or influencer to represent your brand, don’t worry anymore and give your employees the chance to represent you.

 

Plenty of Business

More than half of C-level marketers and one-third of VPs say proving the value of social to teams outside of marketing remains a challenge. Beyond sales, 76% of social marketers don’t share social data with their product and R&D departments. Not applying social learnings to departments outside marketing is a huge missed opportunity for brands, as the insights obtained through social can help optimize everything from sales tactics to product development. To learn just how much social listening can benefit your brand, check out these case studies: James Hardie and VTWO.

Categories : Online Marketing , Success

Improving Your Sales-to-Marketing Cadence

Improving Your Sales-to-Marketing Cadence

Timing is everything. Ok, perhaps it’s not everything, but it is crucial and often out of our control.

One of my all-time favorite people and VP of Sales colleague at NPAccel, Jon Bennion likes to say, “Sales is like dating…” And you know what?  He’s not wrong.

If inbound lead nurturing puts your brand in demand, then you can pretty much take that as a “swipe right” on your business’s products or services.  In a world where dating no longer relies on a phone call, the question still stands: when do you call?  

Your Marketing-to-Sales Cadence is an overall business strategy and timing pattern which you can leverage to your advantage. A well-implemented cadence will form the basis of your overall business flow — allowing you and your team to improve the effectiveness of your sales and marketing processes.  

While the call-back is everything to a sales member, a truly effective sales team will join forces with their account management and marketing departments for a 360-communication approach.  In other words, you’ll meet the customer on their own terms, in their own way, on their own turf. But even then, it is just as much your decision as it is the decision of your potential customer as to whether or not this is love at first sight!

The Customer Swiped Right — Now What?

The swipe-right doesn’t mean you’re a match made in heaven.  Even if you manage to get in sync for a nice, long chat, that doesn’t mean the relationship will last more than a few preliminary weeks.  So, how do you know if this is a relationship meant to last?

Develop Personas

Decide what you’re looking for in a relationship

Work directly with your marketing team to determine your company’s sales personas.  Utilize past data and competitor analysis to determine who the ideal match would be for your business.  

You know the “love yourself before you can love someone else” concept that you heard over and over again growing up?  The concept isn’t that far fetched as a business.

In order to find and vet the right prospective leads and close deals, you have to know who you are as a company first and foremost.  What are your company values? Who is going to be the best match for what you have to offer?

Are You A Match?

How Long Should You Wait to Call Someone After a First Date?

When dating, some people swear by a 24-hour rule. Others would rather wait longer in order to still appear interested, but not desperate.

Several veteran sales managers swear by the hang-up-and-dial-again rule, ensuring that customers are more likely to answer a second time due to the increase in call-screening.

While your sales cadence should function similarly to first date rules, your long-term marketing game will rely heavily on first impressions.   Decide now what type of impression you want to make as a business? What are your company values? At this point, you’ve researched your personas and know what you’re looking for. So, now is the time to decide exactly what you will do to lock that relationship in. How important is that connection to you? Are you the go-and-get-it type, or do you feel like the right person should come to you?

Why Your Current Sales-to-Marketing Cadence Might Be Falling Short

Even if you haven’t established a sales-to-marketing cadence, you already have one whether it works for you or not. Your overall sales process may be letting you down due to a lack of focus. Without a well-defined gameplan and feedback loop, there is a good chance that you are missing out on some precious opportunities.

The first rule of any sales relationship is don’t waste each others time! In dating, they’d simply say, “Don’t lead someone on!” If you respect your client’s time, they’ll respect yours. Set boundaries and limitations. Don’t go too far, too fast.  Overcommitment in sales often leads to scope creep and cancellations in the short term. See: Sales is like dating.

Don’t Show Up With Baggage

If your team doesn’t have a defined frequency for your sales prospecting or marketing, they will be depending on a mix of past experience (aka baggage) and ultimately causing a little PTSD for all involved.  

Showing up without established confidence only creates decision fatigue. If you want this to be the beginning of a long-lasting relationship, keep things simple and be upfront. Don’t focus on menial tasks, focus on the big picture.

How will you provide long-term value and keep the relationship interesting over time? Talk about that!

In truth, “what have you done for me lately?” is more than just a marital spat, it’s the foundation of every business break-up as well.

Your cadence should be preprogrammed and automatic in both implementation and tracking. Talk about what will happen immediately in the relationship and where you see yourself in the future.  

Provide value by being completely transparent with tracking. Show, don’t tell!  

Your clients want to know that you love working with them by seeing it in the work itself. So why not share what you’re working on like a relationship shares their feelings? Put it out there. This is your vulnerable moment, and I promise it will pay off where it counts.

Contact Cadence Calendar

The most effective prospecting comes from a combination of communications rather than just one all-important elevator pitch. The timing will vary according to your business and you will know best how to adjust the stages to optimally benefit your processes.

A broad list of steps could look something like this:

  1. Inbound Lead
  2. Quick phone call
  3. No answer – Automated message, “How can we help? Let’s book a meeting.”
  4. Sales continues to call up to three times.
  5. If no answer, marketing steps in: Customer support & education lead nurturing
  6. Lead chats in, messages on social, etc. customer support & marketing team responds
  7. Marketing qualifies lead through live chat/social interaction, assigns sales

— Rinse. Repeat.

Each team member should know which stage they are at with each prospect at all times. This information should be stored centrally to allow others to jump in or take over when necessary.

M&M’s (Managers & Meetings)

Your cadence will ideally streamline your review meetings, allowing for shorter but also more productive team contact. A leader should have a fixed, scheduled team meeting with a consistent agenda at an appropriate interval. Some teams find that a Sprint-style stand-up meeting for 15 mins every morning is effective. It helps to keep everyone in the loop and give the leader a great overview of what is happening and who needs support.

Team members should come prepared to discuss their progress, current workload, and expectations for the short-term. Feedback from clients can always be shared to give all the opportunity to learn and improve.

Pipeline

Alongside having a pattern for your team’s internal efforts, all feedback and progress from marketing and sales efforts should feed into a reporting, discussion, and next-steps system internally.

Team Involvement

Getting your team onboard is imperative for an effective cadence. If your teams are not open to a management rhythm, there is a good chance your team communication is suffering.

This process should make their lives easier and help them to improve their performance. This might entail retraining some ingrown habits, but it will pay off in the long run. Having your whole team enthused about being on the same page and schedule is the unifying goal.

Any deficiencies in your cadence will be compounded as your business grows. The earlier you define your cadence and get your team practicing it, the more you will benefit from it in the long-term.

Red Flags

The earlier you notice potentially negative behaviors in your team, the quicker you can course-correct and replace them with positive habits.

Issues might include:

  • Late, missing or dishonest reporting
  • Non-communicative team members
  • Miscommunication misunderstandings

Fostering a culture of accountability, honesty and a team-first attitude is what you want for the best performance for your team.

Reflect, Adapt, Refine

Monitoring your team’s progress is the first step to being able to improve it.

After implementing your sales or marketing cadence, you should track the effectiveness of your chosen rhythm. As indispensable as having a cadence is, adapting and refining it for your business is what will really produce long-term success.

Categories : Online Marketing , SEO

How To Focus On Quality Content For SEO

How To Focus On Quality Content For SEO

Double Your ROI With The Most Overlooked Tactic in SEO

SEO (search engine optimization), like most marketing activities, requires content. This content can come in different formats such as videos, text on web pages, PDF documents, and more. In the past, content that lacks substance typically had no issues ranking highly on the SERPs (search engine results pages). However, Google’s algorithms (a form of artificial intelligence) have become very adept at filtering out low-quality pages and devaluing them.

This is because the search giant takes content very seriously. As a result, low-quality content can cause entire websites to become de-indexed overnight. A penalty can be given to any site that violates Google’s guidelines, which was primarily created to combat web spam. Sometimes, it can be virtually impossible to recover from site-wide penalties.

However, algorithmic (or silent) demotions on a page-by-page basis are much more common. These usually occur when a page triggers an algorithm designed to catch a particular violation but webmasters aren’t notified.

For example, the AI codenamed “Panda” is a Google algorithm with the directive of demoting low-quality content. Over the years the company has released several updates aimed at perfecting their algorithms to help identify low-quality content.

“Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes.” Says, Danny Sullivan, Public Search Liaison at Google.

The good news is that quality content can skyrocket your search engine rankings when utilized correctly and purposefully. Think about it. Content is what attracts people to your web pages and you will rank lower on SERPs without it. So quality content is paramount for SEO success. But what does that mean?

What Google Considers Quality Content Isn’t Rocket Science

Admittedly, the term quality content is broad and can mean different things. Also, there are several opinions with regards to what Google considers quality content in the SEO industry. A common misconception is that lengthy content (e.g. articles or blog posts) equate to high-quality web pages.

However, this is far from the truth. While length has the potential to increase keyword density, it isn’t a signal of great content in itself. PQ (Page Quality) score is an internal rating system Google uses to determine the quality of web pages.

According to their recently updated Search Quality Raters Guidelines, “websites and pages should be created to help users. Websites and pages that are created with the intent to harm users, deceive users, or make money with no attempt to help users, should receive the Lowest PQ rating” (p. 8).

With that in mind, quality content is anything that achieves its intended purpose and is helpful to consumers. From a local search marketing standpoint, this may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Help consumers by providing value in order to build brand awareness.
  • Develop useful tools to naturally earn links that point to your site in order to improve your SEO rankings.
  • Increasing useful content production to improve SERP CTR (click-through-rate).
  • Landing pages that capture leads such as email addresses or phone numbers.
  • Content that is created to raise social media engagement and awareness.

Any piece of content that fulfills its intended purpose while being of good value to users is quality content.

Mastering E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)

E-A-T is an additional tool that Google’s manual review team uses to determine the PQ score of a given web page (p. 18, Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines).

Three factors are considered. Firstly, the content creator’s expertise with the subject (e.g. business or person) is taken into account. Secondly, the authoritativeness of the creator, content, and website. Lastly, the trustworthiness of the website, content, and its creator.

Therefore, doing well with the above-mentioned will improve your search engine rankings by increasing your PQ score.

Google “Cards” And Instant Answers

Google Now Launcher is a feature that enables Google’s App to function as your Android or Nexus home screen manager. The software is a two-part system. The “launcher” is the screen where you can place your favorite app icons or folders for easy access. Swiping right from your smartphone’s home screen will switch to the Google App where you will find Google Now “Cards”.

These cards are customized based on historical data from Google platforms (e.g. YouTube and Gmail). Cards are automatically named based on your interests. However, general cards also exist. These include Google search, movie theatres, public transit locations, nearby places, etc. In addition, users can customize their feeds by following specific publishers or blocking notifications from others.

Then there are Instant Answers, which is part of featured snippets. These are the answer boxes that show up whenever you type certain queries into the search bar.

Only the best quality websites or pages with high PQ rating show up on cards and featured snippets.

How to Create Quality Content

Tons of content is published on the web daily, but only quality content gets to the top of search engines. Standing out from the noise requires a commitment to quality.

All in all, there are three major things that will determine if your content is high-quality.

  1. Readability – There is no official statement saying readability is a direct ranking factor. Nevertheless, it can indirectly improve your SEO rankings. Publishing content that is easy to digest and well-written will increase the time spent on your site.

    This means no grammatical errors, the use of short sentences (20 words or less each), and easily understood vocabulary. All of this ensures your content is easy to consume, which fosters engagement, and that is a metric that matters.
     
  2. Scannability – Web content that is scannable is more engaging to consumers. A study by Nielson Norman Group found that most people don’t read everything on a web page. Instead, they scan to pick out parts of the content they are interested in.

    Google factors in scannability when determining the overall UX (user experience) of a page. The use of headings, sub-headings, and bullets, among other features, enables search engine algorithms to identify meaningful text quickly. You can see this in action by observing instant answers and cards. Scannable content is a win-win for users, search engines, and companies seeking more customers.
     
  3. Section Length – The length of your content is important but not with regards to total word-count. Rather, each section of your content should be no more than 300 words.

    From a visitor’s perspective, anything too long increases the difficulty involved in completely reading your content. Shorter content also improves scannability, which improves the likelihood that your content will be read.  

Content is Fuel

Content is the fuel that powers your SEO strategy. Generally, what Google considers quality content is anything that is valuable, relevant, and fulfills its purpose. Certainly, quality content is critical if you want to rank highly on the SERPs. The readability, scannability, and length of each section of your content will decide how well it performs.

 

Categories : Online Marketing , Social Media

The 3 Rs That Measure Your Social ROI

The 3 Rs That Measure Your Social ROI

Do you know what kind of return on investment, or ROI, you’re getting from your social media strategy? Measuring your social ROI is essential because it tells you whether your social marketing strategy is working — or not. (Let’s face it: You can always tell your clients all about the importance of investing in social. But, are you actually going to convince anyone of anything without some real proof.)

This is where the three big “Rs” of social media come into play: research, retention, and referrals. These are the main analytics that you can use to prove the value of your social media efforts.

So, let’s look at them in detail, shall we?

The Research You Need To Guide Brand Development

It’s simple. Social is a tremendously effective method of collecting demographic data on your customers. Demographic data is the key to inform any smart business strategy.

Unfortunately, most companies aren’t making use of the goldmine they’ve got in social media. A Kalypso study found that fully 70 percent of brands start out with the intention of using social as part of their research and development process. In the end (which is where it counts), only 33 percent of those companies actually have any kind of plan that will let them follow through on those intentions.

That’s a big waste. There are tools that can help you analyze the info you’re gaining on social. Google Analytics is a great (and free) starter point that can help you sort through that pile of social media demographic data. Ultimately, that data is the key to understanding the specific characteristics of your audience — and learning more about what they want and need.

Your brand is going to thrive best when you learn to be responsive to your customer’s desires — and social can help you make it happen.

Customer Retention Through Direct Engagement

Social is how you give an otherwise faceless brand a personality. Your brand’s expression on social will actively shape the way that people feel about what you make or do — and that may be the ultimate key to retaining customers. (If you don’t already realize how important that is, consider this: It costs anywhere between 5 and 25 times more to get a new customer than it does to keep one you already have.

Developing a solid brand personality is important for several key reasons:

  • A brand identity can effectively guide all your company’s output — no matter what team produces it or through what medium. Effectively, your brand’s personality provides a consistency that your customers can come to rely on.
  • Your brand’s personality is how you can effortlessly set your brand apart from every other company selling something similar. Customers frequently seek out brands that they strongly identify as being like themselves. The “face” your brand presents to the world plays a pivotal role in the customer base you attract.
  • Properly-Crafted brand identity will help you reach your target market. Consumers do seek out brands that they identify with already. Yet, consumers will also seek out brands that reflect who they aspire to be — whether that’s urban, edgy, sophisticated, or sleek.
  • Social also gives your customers the ability to feel like they can directly connect with you and your business. Whether they have a compliment or a complaint — they can reach you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram — or any other social channel. Consumers want to be heard. Social gives you the opportunity to reassure them that they’re listening.

How important is that two-way connection on social to customer retention? When customers actively engage with a brand on social, their spending increases by 20 to 40 percent!

Referrals That Will Grow Your Business

Word-of-mouth referrals have been the lifeblood of the business world since the dawn of commerce. Today, instead of getting a recommendation from a neighbor over the backyard fence, consumers are far more apt to hop online and look for a referral. Word-of-mouth is what ultimately influences as many as 50 percent of all purchases.

Maybe even more importantly, happy customers tend to share their thoughts with others. When a customer is happy about your brand, your product, or your service, they’re more inclined to get back online on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and tell others! One positive tweet from the right customer could go viral. That alone could gain you more new customers than all the advertising dollars in your entire budget!

Final Thoughts

Social doesn’t just take customers on a journey with your brand. Social interaction also builds a relationship that can last for that customer’s lifetime. While each social campaign naturally has its own value and own metrics, research, retention, and referrals are the ultimate analytics you need to master to get the most out of your social media efforts.