Web Nerds https://thewebnerds.net We Get You Found Online! Fri, 06 Dec 2019 15:03:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 https://thewebnerds.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/cropped-favicon-32x32.jpg Web Nerds https://thewebnerds.net 32 32 98802099 How AI-based chat is transforming lead generation https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/how-ai-based-chat-is-transforming-lead-generation/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/how-ai-based-chat-is-transforming-lead-generation/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2019 15:03:11 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/how-ai-based-chat-is-transforming-lead-generation/

The future is now with chatbots, so you need to consider how you can use the technology to improve lead generation

In case you haven’t heard, AI’s promise isn’t based on future advances. It’s being used widely now to transform digital businesses. Powered by smart algorithms and machine learning, chatbots (automated chat messaging) promise to allow companies to connect with their prospects even better than humans can, while at the same time dramatically lowering headcount and overhead costs.

Dozens of tech companies have created chatbot platforms that serve up pre-programmed responses to questions; responses informed by things like prior website interactions, social media activity and semantic analysis. Most importantly, these bots can decipher the intent of your visitors. If you know intent, you know what to say next, which is the ‘secret sauce’ of lead nurturing.

Here I share how AI-based chatbots are completely transforming lead generation for SaaS-based businesses. I really mean transforming, to the degree that if you continue to do lead-generation the current way, you’ll soon start losing leads to competitors who do it the new way.

Some surprising stats

Time for your AI wake-up call. According to a 2016 survey done by marketing automation platform provider HubSpot, 63% of people using AI technologies didn’t even know they were using them. Talk about transparent technology!

 63% already use AI tools without realizing it

Specifically, the study found that:

  • Use of voice search has seriously increased, so SEO/SERP professionals need to take notice. Siri, Google Voice, Alexa and the like have obviously driven this.
  • Consumers are comfortable buying from a bot that provides customized service.
  • People are very open to using AI-enabled bots for customer service, particularly for straightforward requests and questions.

Fueled by the popularity of SnapChat and Facebook Messenger, online messaging has exploded in the past few years. Messaging has clearly become the app type to take notice of.

Messaging apps monthly worldwide users

If you sell to Millennials or teenagers, you know messaging is their de-facto way of communicating. It’s their smartphone-driven messaging habits that will drive marketing dialog in the coming years.

The current way of collecting leads

Consider the current way of collecting and qualifying leads for prospective SaaS customers. It typically involves:

  • Creating dedicated landing pages.
  • Investing in SEO, PPC and social ads to get traffic to these pages.
  • Offering a value-added download on these pages via a lead form.
  • Capturing lead contact information – name, email, phone number, etc.
  • Following up with the lead through a sequence of nurturing emails.
  • Phoning the more ‘engaged’ leads to close sales.

In this process sales teams often:

  • Get a lot of bogus (or non-business) email addresses and phone numbers.
  • Talk to a lot of unqualified prospects who aren’t a good fit for their product (insufficient authority, budget, etc.).
  • Play a lot of time-wasting ‘voicemail tag’.

This can lead to some pretty frustrated account executives. Not only are they annoyed, but they’re also not able to convert enough of their leads.

Clearly, it’s time for a smarter way to interact with leads. Enter chatbots.

Chatbot

The new and better way

The AI-based way to capture and nurture your leads involves:

  • Offering chatbots to visitors at applicable times on websites and landing pages.
  • Asking the visitors who engage for their email and some qualifying questions.
  • Learning more about the lead through data appends (CRM, social, other).
  • Passing the visitors to the next step in the process – whether it’s a human rep, an email capture (so the bot can send content of interest), or something else.
  • Switching on your lead nurturing and conversion machine (of which content marketing is usually a key part).

This new process doesn’t mean that humans are never in the loop. It just means that they’re handed more qualified and informed leads, which are then easier to convert.

What exactly do these bots do?

The original chatbots (from just a few years ago) delivered an automated and more efficient online chat experience. After some time and algorithmic turning, they did that pretty well. Now, offerings from leading chatbot platform providers like Bold360, Drift and 247ai, through integrations with leading CRMs, calendar apps, email providers and third-party data sources, are providing more full-featured customer service. In a recent Forbes.com article, contributor Macief Duraj asserts that chatbots and cloud-based CRMs are even replacing some call centers.

This screenshot summarizes the features offered by Drift.com, a leading full-service chatbot platform provider.

Drift chatbot service

Now I’ll walk through each of these key features in detail.

Messaging

I’ve already talked about messaging being the prime communication mode going forward. Super-speedy chatbots definitely put the ‘instant’ in this messaging.

The best chatbots include the ability to:

  • Add someone else (e.g. from your Slack contacts list) to a conversation.
  • Auto-email conversations after a period of inactivity (e.g. 15 minutes).
  • Infer intent from complex language and deliver conversational replies.
  • Offer proactive chat, at places in the experience known to have higher engagement.

The makers of Bold360, for example, learned that proactive chatters are six times more likely to buy than average website visitors, so they bolstered their app’s proactive chat engine with powerful features and AI capabilities, all with the goal of targeting each visitor with the right message at the right time.

Automatically schedule meetings

The best chatbots integrate with your calendar and conferencing apps like Calendly, Assistant.to and Zoom so that, at the appropriate time in the chat experience, your bot can send a call scheduling link to the visitor.

Based on my personal experience, this is a huge time saver. Best of all, it frees you and your administrative staff up to do more valuable work.

Integrate with your customer-facing tools

Speaking of integrations, the leading chatbots offer API-level integrations with your customer-facing apps, such as:

  • Google calendar – for scheduling meetings.
  • CRMs – for visibility into customer contact activity.
  • Marketing automation suites – like HubSpot and Marketo.
  • Social media accounts (through data appends – more on that below).
  • E-commerce stores – like Spotify, to access transactional data.
  • Knowledge bases – to quickly refer prospects to useful articles.

For example, by integrating with a CRM app like Salesforce, SugarCRM or Zendesk, your chatbot can directly pull customer and prospect data into your sales rep’s workspace.

Append third-party data

Using only the email entered, capable chatbot platforms can leverage third-party apps to append data such as Full Name, Location, Job Title, Company Information and links to social profiles.

Some data append vendors even offer predictive models and lead scoring algorithms, which help you prioritize the leads with which your chatbot should engage. Even better, they can do this in real time. Together with the transactional data fed in from your CRM, these tie-ins give your reps a more well-rounded picture of your prospects, which help to build rapport and increase close rates.

Common NLP tasks

Infer visitor sentiment and intent

Perhaps the coolest feature of the latest chatbots is their ability to do semantic analysis – that is, to deduce the visitor’s intent based on words and phrases used in the current and previous conversations. This ‘thinking’ part of the AI algorithms used in chatbots is what makes them ‘relational concierges’ in the sales process.

The chatbot offered by LivePerson, for example, calculates a Meaningful Connection Score, or MCS, as early as possible in the discussion with each visitor. Each message sent by a visitor is analyzed in real time and gets a positive or negative score. Messages’ scores are continuously combined to determine the emotional content of the conversation, resulting in an ‘Overall MCS’ at the end of each discussion. A higher MCS score means this lead’s more interested in what you’re selling.

Qualify your leads

The main point of your interactions with prospects, of course, is to generate more qualified leads. By asking qualifying questions tailored to your solution context and prospect personas – like ‘which of these situations best describes you?’ (prospect persona), ‘how large is your company?,’ and how soon are you looking to purchase a [XYZ] solution?’ – and tailoring the follow-up messaging accordingly, these apps let visitors self-select whether they’re a good fit for a given product.

By doing so, they avoid wasting everyone’s time: reps, account executives and prospects and they build trust. Don’t you respect someone more when they determine they’re not the best solution for you, and they even refer you to another vendor?

Bonus features: Good looks and a great personality

According to Hans van Dam of Chatbots Magazine, some platforms allow you to choose a persona or online personality for your chatbot, which includes the right mix of personality attributes like directness, empathy, helpfulness and persuasiveness. Van Dam’s company, Robocopy, even developed a ‘bot scorecard’ that ‘Conversation Designers’ (yes, that’s a new, chatbot-inspired job title) can use to evaluate their work.

For example, an e-commerce store could configure their customer service rep to have a persona with more empathy and helpfulness. A SaaS seller, on the other hand, might configure their account executive bot to be more direct and persuasive.

In addition, most chatbot apps, for paid subscriptions, allow you to customize your chatbot’s visual ‘look and feel’ and branding (including adding your company logo). Since every chat is a touchpoint in your customer’s journey, brand-first impressions matter.

It’s a bot time

The writing’s on the wall. Actually, it’s in your Slack conversations and Facebook messages. Now’s the time to embrace AI-based chatbot interactions in your early-stage communications with your visitors. You may not be ready to let an AI-powered car drive you around town, but the latest chatbots have proven they can handle your more routine lead capture and nurturing tasks.

So, if you sell a SaaS-based product or service, consider shoving aside your fears of robots taking over the world, at least for now. Your biggest risk may be waiting too long to integrate chatbots into your marketing technology stack. If you do, your competitors’ bots may steal some of your best leads.



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News Roundup 6th December 2019 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/news-roundup-6th-december-2019/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/news-roundup-6th-december-2019/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2019 12:17:43 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/news-roundup-6th-december-2019/

Instagram introduces age check, creative professionals more productive ‘on-the-go’, Facebook suing over malicious ads, YouTube updates on borderline content efforts, Facebook announces new anti-discrimination ad measures

This week has seen Instagram change its policy to bring it in-line with Facebook. The platform will now request the date of birth of those signing up, in a bid to limit younger users from accessing inappropriate content.

New research from Vodafone has revealed that the office is not the place for creative individuals, with many saying they are more productive when working flexibly.

Facebook is making sure that those who break its rules face real-world consequences, starting with a company and two individuals who are accused of creating malicious adverts on the platform.

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YouTube has provided an update on its efforts to reduce the spread of misinformation and borderline content, just in time for the 2020 US election campaigns to heat up.

Finally, Facebook has introduced two new measures in its efforts to avoid advertising discrimination, with more measures to be released in the coming year.

Get all the details on each of these stories with our news roundup below.


Instagram logo

Instagram adds age check for new users

Instagram has made a big change to its policies in a bid to offer experiences that are age-appropriate. Those signing up to the social media platform will now be asked to provide their date of birth in order to ensure younger audiences are not seeing content that is unsuitable.

This means that content related to things like gambling, alcohol and birth control on Instagram will not be visible to those under a certain age. The decision follows on from criticism faced by the platform from those concerned that Instagram and other social media networks regularly expose children to content that is inappropriate.

In the past, Instagram only required those creating accounts to confirm that they were over the age of 13, which was its blanket policy. While Instagram has now brought in the age check at sign up, it will not be verifying the ages provided. This means it is using the same method as Facebook, but as anyone can put any date of birth in, is this really doing enough to protect children?

Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, said to Reuters: “Understanding how old people are is quite important to the work we’re doing, not only to create age-appropriate experiences but to live up to our longstanding rule to not allow access to young people.”

This is the latest move to improve the experience on the platform, although it is not yet clear what the impact may be.


40% of creatives are more productive and innovative ‘on-the-go’

While an office environment is the traditional workplace for marketers, it may not be the best way to encourage creativity. According to new research from Vodafone, 40% of creative professionals are more productive and innovative while they are out and about.

A survey of 500 creative industry small businesses in the UK found that working ‘on-the-go’ is the best way to encourage creativity rather than having people stuck at their desks. On top of this, 38% of respondents said that they now share the majority of their creative ideas and work digitally rather than in-person.

As a result of these findings, 73% said that technology brings positive change, with smartphones laptops and wi-fi all making it easier for people to work wherever they are. This digital transformation will likely continue to bring more benefits, but businesses needs to assess what this can mean for their working practices.

Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director of Vodafone UK, said: “It’s hugely encouraging to see that smaller businesses in the creative industries are increasingly competitive, due in part to technology. They rely on tech in many ways – to communicate ideas, to seek inspiration and to enable flexible working. But they tell us they are not IT experts and need help to gain maximum benefit – which is where trusted technology partners can play a role.”


Facebook logo

Facebook files lawsuit over malicious ads

Facebook has filed a lawsuit after ads were used on the platform that tricked people into installing malware. The social media giant has filed a suit against ILikeAd Media International Company Ltd and individuals Huang Tao and Chen Xiao Cong after they violated Fakebook’s advertising terms and policies.

According to Facebook, the company and named individuals used deceptive tactics to encourage social media users to click on ads and download harmful malware. This malware then allows the company to access the Facebook accounts of those who had downloaded the malware in a bid to promote diet pills and counterfeit goods.

Tactics used to encourage people to click on the ads included the use of celebrity images. The company also used ‘cloaking’ in that it shows one version of the landing page the ad would go to to Facebook but took the user to a different page.

In a post explaining the lawsuit, Facebook said: “Cloaking schemes are often sophisticated and well organized, making the individuals and organizations behind them difficult to identify and hold accountable. As a result, there have not been many legal actions of this kind. In this case, we have refunded victims whose accounts were used to run unauthorized ads and helped them secure their accounts.”

It continued to say that the platform is working to keep detecting malicious behaviour directed toward Facebook in a bid to protect the platform and its users. The social media giant will also be creating real-world consequences for those who are found to be deceiving users and violating terms and policies.


YouTube borderline content product and policy changes timeline

YouTube provides update on misinformation efforts

The fight against fake news is ongoing across social media platforms, especially as the US gets ready for another presidential election. YouTube is taking this incredibly seriously, especially as the platform is now a primary source for a lot of news and information. As such, YouTube has outlined its ongoing efforts to reduce misinformation on its platform.

In its most recent update, YouTube said: “Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working to raise authoritative voices on YouTube and reduce the spread of borderline content and harmful misinformation. And we are already seeing great progress. Authoritative news is thriving on our site. And since January 2019, we’ve launched over 30 different changes to reduce recommendations of borderline content and harmful misinformation. The result is a 70% average drop in watch time of this content coming from non-subscribed recommendations in the US.”

YouTube has mapped out the updates it has made over the last few years in a bid to stop misinformation, showing that five updates were made in 2019 alone. These including reducing how often borderline content and videos was recommended, the launch of fact checking in YouTube search in India, Improved machine learning, raised authoritative content in the Watch Next panel for people watching borderline content an started reducing recommendations to English-language borderline videos outside of the US.

The platform is also working to prioritize “authoritative voices” in results when people are searching for news and information and in the Watch Next panel. An example of this highlighted by YouTube is the search for “Brexit” on the platform. Although results will vary, around 93% of the global top 10 videos come from channels that have high authority on the subject.

YouTube is also doing more work on borderline videos, which are those that include content that comes close to violating Community Guidelines but doesn’t quite cross the line. While these videos make up a small amount of the videos on the platform, it is still looking at ways to reduce their negative impact.


Facebook announces new anti-discrimination ad measures

Facebook has announced two new measures that will be used to enforce its recent additions to rules around discriminatory audience targeting. Announcing the measures in a blog, Facebook also said that they will provide more transparency into the platform’s ad processes.

Facebook’s advertising policies have always aimed to avoid discrimination and after a settlement earlier this year with a number of civil rights organizations, the platform introduced a new process for how ads can be bought in the US by those offering housing, employment or credit opportunities.

The enforcement of this process is now being expanded across all the tools that are used by businesses to buy ads on the platform. A housing ad section is also being added to the Ad Library, making it easy to search for and view ads in the US that show housing opportunities – whether you are the intended audience for the ads or not.

Over the next year, Facebook will also include adverts that offer employment or credit opportunities to the Ad Library.



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key performance questions to structure digital marketing reports https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/key-performance-questions-to-structure-digital-marketing-reports/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/key-performance-questions-to-structure-digital-marketing-reports/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2019 10:14:51 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/key-performance-questions-to-structure-digital-marketing-reports/

Three steps to creating an insight-driven digital marketing report

Monitoring, tracking and reporting on marketing campaigns is both an essential and valuable process that enables marketers to evaluate performance and understand what works, what could be improved and the overall impact on the business. Whilst reporting templates can be helpful, every business and campaign is different, and one size does not always fit all.

Introducing key performance questions

In 2014, marketing consultant Bernard Marr felt that organizations were often jumping straight into designing indicators before being clear about what they really needed to know. As a response to this ongoing challenge, he introduced the concept of key performance questions (KPQs) to bridge the gap between strategic objectives and KPIs.

According to Marr:

“Formed as a short, forward-looking and open question that directly relates to a strategic objective, a KPQ enables senior leaders to fully understand what data and information they need in order to assess performance to that objective.”

Key performance questions allow you to take a step back and reflect on the overall goals and objectives you’re seeking to accomplish as part of your analytics reporting.

By starting with a KPQ, you can develop a very useful framework to structure your campaign measurement reports.

There are three steps to producing a KPQ-based measurement report.

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Step 1 – Key performance questions

From the beginning of the campaign process, bring together the core group of stakeholders involved to agree on what you’re looking to achieve. This exercise is useful as it will help you form a joined-up vision for the campaign and will inform your approach to measurement and reporting.

It’s useful to have five or six KPQs in total, so the kick-off session should be used to understand the questions stakeholders will be asking in order to judge the success of the campaign. For this type of meeting, ask people to bring along the following type of information:

  • Business objectives (business group or division)
  • Marketing objectives
    • e.g. educate on product usage
  • Campaign objectives
    • e.g. promote webinar to educate prospects

Questions should be clear, simple and in plain language so everyone can understand. If you can get everyone on board and achieve consensus, you’ll have an aligned vision going forward.

Once all your objectives have been agreed, make a list of your KPQs against the different areas of activity you will be executing as part of the campaign.

KPQ list chart

Step 2 – Key performance indicators

The KPQs will provide an overarching view of what you’re looking to achieve. The next step is to consider what key performance indicators (KPIs) you believe relate best to each of the questions.

In the context of this report structure, a KPI is an indicator of the success of a question. As with objectives, KPQs have to be SMART and cannot be vague, and a strong set of KPIs will help keep you on track.

KPI list chart

It’s common to see a whole host of different KPIs being used within a campaign report but, as with the KPQs, it’s much more effective to be selective about which KPIs you use. Go with those that you feel will give you the best opportunity to communicate how aspects of the campaign have performed.

In our example above we’ve gone with one KPI to ensure we really concentrate on delivering performance related to the KPQ. It may be that more KPIs are added at a later stage but for now, this one will focus the mind.

Step 3 – Success benchmarks

The final stage in the process is to consider what ‘good’ looks like. The success benchmarks help put the campaign’s performance into perspective and provide a meaningful target.

It’s useful at this stage to take a look at previous campaigns and make a judgement as to what worked previously, as well as what resonated with different stakeholders. For example, whilst the number of likes and comments may appeal to some members of the marketing team, senior management may not be as impressed, preferring instead more solid data around sales or revenue achievements.

Success benchmarks

Bringing it all together

Once all three areas are complete, the final one-page summary can come together, showing a clear link between the KPQs, KPIs and success benchmarks.

Key performance question framework

To provide additional clarity and information, consider adding in graphs/ tables to visually represent how different channels are performing/ have performed against your targets. This one-page dashboard should be able to summarise the campaign all on its own, with the rest of the report breaking these sections down into more detail.

Conclusion

The KPQ framework provides a useful structure in which to set a campaign performance report. The simplicity of the approach helps keep things simple and present data that can generate actionable insights and purposeful conversations about performance and next steps.

Our example provides a top-level overview, a dashboard to summarise the overall performance on one page. Commentary about each of the areas can be explored in more detail later in the report, however, this is also something that could be included within the one-pager, too. The example we’ve provided is only a template and there is scope to develop and refine this further based on your own brand and campaign objectives.



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Which CX metrics to add to your marketing KPIs https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/which-cx-metrics-to-add-to-your-marketing-kpis/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/which-cx-metrics-to-add-to-your-marketing-kpis/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2019 06:59:15 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/which-cx-metrics-to-add-to-your-marketing-kpis/

Metrics are your marketing scorecard, which is why you need to ensure you’re tracking the right ones

Metrics are the ‘scorecard’ of your digital marketing work. When these metrics, also known as key performance indicators (KPIs), are moving upwards, you’re winning the marketing game. When they’re trending downwards, you’re on the losing team (at least for now).

You probably know your conversion-related KPIs by heart: metrics like conversion rate, revenue per visitor (RPV) and average order value (AOV). And on the acquisition side: cost per acquisition (CPA), return on ad spend (ROAS), and marketing qualified lead rate (MQL).

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But, in order to get a clear sense of what matters most in your customers’ minds, you need to include customer experience (or ‘CX’) metrics in your scorecard mix. These CX metrics measure your prospects’ and customers’ perceptions of your brand, judged after several interactions, or ‘touchpoints,’ with both your online and offline marketing channels. They ultimately tell you whether your customers will come back to buy more, or start looking for another brand that will serve them better.

 Customer Assets

CX Metric 1: Net customer value growth

The most important CX metric in business is adding value – principally, bottom-line (profit) value to owners and shareholders. Knowing this, CX guru Jeanne Bliss defines the number one CX metric as ‘Net Customer Value Growth’ (NCVG). So, what does this mean?

NCVG is simply the difference between the number of new customers you added in a given time period, less the number of customers you lost during the same period. Importantly, it’s not just the net number of customers gained or lost, but the economic value of this customer growth or loss. That is:

Net Growth or Loss of Customer Asset =

New Customers (volume and value) – Lost Customers (volume and value)

It’s vital to show your customer asset metrics as whole numbers, not as retention rates so there’s a clear connection between the people and the math. Just talk percentages or scores and your executive team’s eyes will glaze over. But show how much your marketing, customer service and retention activities have grown the value of their stock, and you’ll soon see the eyes of your executive team, particularly your CFO, widen with excitement.

Why? Because this metric sees customers as what they really are: assets. Something that puts cash in the ‘accounts receivable’ column of your balance sheet every month. This metric reflects what they actually did versus what they said they would do in surveys. As we know, actions speak louder than words in the business world.

CX Metrics

CX Metric 2: Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The net promoter score (NPS), originally created by Fred Reichheld, and now trademarked by SatMetrix™, is considered the core metric for customer experience management programs around the world. The reason: it’s simple to collect and calculate.

The graphic above shows the range of ‘promoter’ scores. Survey respondents are asked: ‘How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?’ Only respondents who give a nine or ten are considered brand promoters; the others are detractors or passives.

Calculate your NPS as follows:

  • Survey hundreds of your existing customers (the more you survey, the more accurate your scores will be).
  • Tally the number of responses in each bucket (detractors, passives and promoters), then convert that to a percentage (of the total number of responses).
  • Subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to get your NPS.

You’re looking for an NPS that’s greater than zero and preferably higher than 20%.

There is a downside to the NPS: it doesn’t tell you why your customers are dissatisfied or less-than-excited about your brand. This takes us to CX Metric number three, which is actually a set of behavior-based metrics.

CX Metrics refferal

CX Metric 3: Referrals from existing customers

Let’s take that NPS down another level: to the actual referrals your existing customers are giving to friends or colleagues. But first, here’s a little customer cost background.

It costs a lot more to acquire and convert a new customer than it does to retain a current customer. One study found that it was five times as costly and a McKinsey and Co. study found that word of mouth was the driving factor in 20-50% of B2B purchase decisions. So it obviously pays to invest time in measuring and responding to customer attitudes about your brand.

Having worked as an account manager at a few digital agencies, I know that ‘willingness to refer us to prospective clients’ is the number one CX metric. If, after working with your agency for months or even years, a client isn’t willing — actually, eager — to recommend your agency to other clients, you’ve wasted a lot of time and effort. What’s more, these clients’ negative or neutral comments are likely lowering your referrals (and also your New Customer Value).

Some clients, when I mention the importance of tracking this metric, say ‘Um… I can’t get that.’ Well, to this I say, ‘you need to try harder to find a way to,’ because referral specifics are a crucial measurement of your customer experience.

Here are some ideas on how to get this referral data:

  • For customers who give you an NPS of seven or higher, start tracking their social shares and other comments tied to their account (or email address).
  • (For agencies) Have your account managers request referrals from clients at appropriate times (for example, two months into an engagement, and bi-monthly thereafter).
  • (For companies) Have your customer service reps request referrals from customers under certain conditions, for example, after they have ‘touched’ your brand two or more times (be sure to track these touches in your customer-facing apps).
  • Use text analytics to analyze sentiment on your social media accounts – mainly Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These tools have algorithms that can gauge whether sentiment (feelings expressed) about your brand is mostly positive or negative. Learn more in the ‘Four Must-have Features for your Customer Listening Platform’ [insert link here] blog post by SmartInsights.

I’m sure there are other ideas you can come up with. My main point: gather your team and other people who regularly interact with your customers to discuss how to best to capture and track these referral events.

CX Metrics analytics

CX Metric 4: Behavior patterns that show strengthening or weakening of the customer relationship

As a digital marketer, your goal is to trigger positive emotions and even build new beliefs, in the minds of your customers. But, as I described for CX Metric number one, it’s actions that matter most. So what you’re really seeking are connections between visitor actions and the associated lead-generation and conversion implications of those actions.

For example, questions you might want to get answered include:

  • Revenue and profitability by customer group or segments (customer segment movement). Are some of your customers moving upscale (to a higher-priced subscription, which is good), or downscale (bad)?
  • What percentage of your customers did not sign up for a subscription (‘free trial offer’ scenario) or renew their subscription (‘customer subscription is ending’ scenario)?
  • What percentage of your customers were lost after an incident? This is very powerful as it measures your customers’ perception of your company’s recovery.

It’s getting these answers, based on the data analyses leading up to them, that will best help you win at the digital marketing game.

Examples of insights per sales stage

Here are a few examples of valuable, analytics-based insights you can get at various stages in your sales cycle.

Key insight for the prospect acquisition and nurturing stage:

‘Prospects who viewed at least three content marketing pieces had a conversion rate (CR) 40% higher than prospects who didn’t.’

Key insight for the prospect conversion stage:

‘Prospects who engaged with online chat one or more times had a revenue per visitor (RPV) 230% higher than those who didn’t.’

Key insight for the customer retention stage:

‘Customers who didn’t have their support issue resolved on the first contact were five times more likely to churn.’

These insights are invaluable because they allow you to confidently change your marketing tactics or update your user experience to boost the factors that lift your performance metrics. In other words, they tell you which levers you should ‘pull on’ to drive KPI increases.

These customer insights can come from many sources, including:

  • An Excel sheet statistical analysis of existing customer data.
  • The reporting included in your visitor analytics or personalization platform.
  • Your ‘big data’ analyses of prospect and customer behaviors based on your marketing creative, your internal data (e.g. CRM data, chat log data) and third-party data (e.g. social media-triggered ‘behaviors of value’).

These kinds of insights excite me and not just because they drive higher profits, but because they produce a more satisfying experience. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Recommendation: Hire an analytics geek

If you don’t already have someone who’s passionate about data and analytics on your team, consider hiring someone with that skill set, or bringing in an outside consultant. You’ll likely get an uber-high ROI on this investment.

This person doesn’t need to be a full-blown ‘data scientist’ (though that would be nice if you can afford one). But they should enjoy using a wide range of analytics tools (including Excel) and doing complex data queries. This person should also know a lot about predictive analytics.

Add CX metrics to your KPIs

In business and marketing, it’s the bottom-line performance that matters most. So it’s important that you choose the right metrics by which to judge this performance. It’s time to think beyond the traditional ‘inside-out’ marketing metrics to the ‘outside-in’ customer experience (CX) metrics that measure what your prospects and customers really think about your brand and how they behave as a result, so you’ll know how these attitudes affect the value of your brand.

Net customer growth, net promoter score and referrals are great CX metrics to start with, since they indicate how your customers judge your brand at a given time. But going forward we need to seek out the behavior-based data, analytics and insights that tell you how to confidentially tweak your marketing tactics to grow revenues, profits and value. By augmenting your own ideas, this analytics-based intelligence that will help you become the odds-on favorite in every digital marketing game you play.



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One-fifth of marketers fear they lack sufficient GDPR training https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/one-fifth-of-marketers-fear-they-lack-sufficient-gdpr-training/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/one-fifth-of-marketers-fear-they-lack-sufficient-gdpr-training/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2019 02:56:47 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/one-fifth-of-marketers-fear-they-lack-sufficient-gdpr-training/

Despite GDPR coming into effect over 18 months ago, new research shows that many marketers are still concerned about their organizations’ compliance

It’s been just over 18 months since the enforcement date of the GDPR. The latest research from the DMA shows that while the majority of professionals in the data and marketing industry have been given some form of GDPR training, there are many marketers out there who are still concerned about their organization’s compliance.

The consequences of non-compliance have been well-publicized through a series of high profile investigations by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), ultimately leading to punitive sanctions for those organizations deemed to be acting unlawfully and with intention.

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There have also been a number of data breaches over the last year, a cause of which may well be that staff were not effectively trained in how to manage customers’ sensitive information and maintain the necessary safeguards to protect their privacy. Once again, this has led to investigations by the ICO.

For instance, earlier this year the hotel chain Marriott was fined more than £99 million under the GDPR; British Airways were issued a fine of £183.39m. Highlighting just how much importance the regulator places on the security of customers’ data and how seriously businesses should take this issue.

The costs to a business extend far beyond just fines, there can even be long-term effects on customer trust, share price and public perception that could have more lasting damage.

The vast range of issues associated with non-compliance should be enough for organizations to understand how important compliance is and the role all staff have to play in achieving it.

DMA_graphic_1_-_information_sharing

Data insights are vital assets to businesses, consumer trust is key to gaining them

For most businesses, data is its most valuable asset. So consumer trust in how they collect, store and use data is fundamental to building sustainable relationships with customers and increasing their willingness to share data.

The GDPR has already had a notable impact here.

For example, the DMA’s ‘Data Privacy: What the Consumer Really Thinks’ report indicated that the number of people who claim they would be more likely to exchange their personal information in return for personalized products or services has risen from 26% in 2015 to 34% in 2018. The research also found that more than half (51%) of consumers saw data as essential to the smooth running of the modern digital economy, up sharply from 38% in 2012.

Clearly consumers are increasingly more receptive to the idea of a ‘value exchange’ with businesses, with trust the key to unlocking data’s full potential. Encouragingly, marketers are confident that this is going in the right direction.

According to the ‘Data Privacy: An Industry Perspective 2019’ report, nearly half of marketers (49%) surveyed state that they believe consumer trust has improved in how brands handle their data. 46% of marketers agree that trust has increased in brands and their marketing.

Data is an essential part of the digital economy, so maintaining its security and consumers’ trust must be a business imperative.

So why is GDPR compliance not a priority for all businesses?

Given the role each employee has in protecting consumers’ personal information, ongoing training should be a clear priority for all businesses. Especially within data and marketing teams who can use it to better engage with consumers and improve the customer experience.

However, recent research conducted by the Data & Marketing Association, the ‘Data Privacy: An Industry Perspective 2019’ report, has revealed a number of alarming findings that would suggest otherwise in many cases.

For example:

  • One in five (21%) marketers feel they have not received enough training to comply with the GDPR
  • 18% of marketers say the GDPR expert they were trained with didn’t have the right experience in marketing
  • One in 10 (9%) state that their training hasn’t been practical enough to date
  • A fifth of marketers (20%) say their organizations are not implementing ongoing GDPR training plans

These figures all paint quite a concerning picture of some businesses neglecting their duty to equip marketers with the skills they need.

Leading up to the GDPR’s enforcement date, the DMA authored articles highlighting best practice and published guidance to help marketers understand their role, but this should only be used as a guide and as additional reading to supplement practical learning.

Due to the complex and subjective nature of the GDPR, expert-led training is essential for marketers to not just comply, but also be knowledgeable in delivering best practice.

DMA_graphic_2_-_GDPR_training

GDPR training must be practical and relevant

Standard GDPR training goes into depth about how European data privacy laws have changed, what the key terms and main principles of the GDPR are, and help businesses to understand the consequences of non-compliance.

But marketers need to know more.

When marketing teams are formulating integrated marketing campaigns and collecting, processing and segmenting sensitive information, they need to not only understand their responsibilities but also how data can be a huge asset to the overall business objectives.

And most importantly, how they can protect the customer and build trust.

Legal experts writing and delivering GDPR training are no doubt skilled at interpreting the GDPR and understanding where an organization is legally obliged to protect consumers’ data.

Although it is one thing understanding the legal underpinnings to GDPR. It’s a totally different challenge to translate that into actionable best practice within a comprehensive data and marketing strategy.

This is why dedicated learning material and ongoing training is essential to a marketer’s ongoing development in this area.

There are a range of face-to-face and online learning platforms out there that can provide expert guidance, but whether to select the online or offline route will depend on individual and organizational requirements.

Whatever option is opted for, it is imperative that training is practical and relevant.

In addition, there must be clear structure within the business as to how training can progress with some regularity, to reinforce previous material and act as a reminder to the responsibilities all staff have.

The benefits of GDPR go far beyond legal obligations

GDPR is much more than an issue of compliance and non-compliance.

As the evidence suggests, GDPR will make consumers more likely to share their data and provide invaluable insights into their preferences, and even consumer behaviour in general.

This, in turn, will help marketers to send tailored content that the consumer is more likely to engage with.

There are still many businesses and marketing teams neglecting not just GDPR compliance, but also the benefits associated with best practice.

Without sufficient training, the long-term consequences could far outweigh the initial investment.

The benefits go far beyond the legal obligations and there are a number of opportunities available to those who understand how to obtain them.

 

Thanks to Rachel Whitter, Head of Learning Solutions at the Institute of Data & Marketing, for discussing the importance of ongoing GDPR training for marketers that is both practical and relevant to their role.



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Enhancing your marketing with an agile approach https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/enhancing-your-marketing-with-an-agile-approach/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/enhancing-your-marketing-with-an-agile-approach/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2019 00:16:14 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/enhancing-your-marketing-with-an-agile-approach/

Marketers can no longer afford to make 12-month marketing plans and review them annually. The agile approach of marketing enables them to review the performance of their campaigns every 2 weeks, recalibrate the process and iterate accordingly

There was a time when marketing was fairly simple. If you covered print, radio and television, your marketing campaign was in good shape. Marketing plans were made annually and were rarely changed.

With those simpler days gone, marketing is evolving at a supersonic pace. Most marketers still work on quarterly plans. However, in this digital world, a lot of change happens in 90 days. Marketing teams need to respond accordingly.

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For example, team one measures, iterates and recalibrates their process every two weeks instead of a quarter.

Team two only adjusts their plan every quarter.

Team one is 543% faster and delivers 6x more often.

Sounds efficient, right?

While agile methods deliver at this rate, traditional marketing won’t allow you to reach this level. You will have to adopt an agile marketing methodology. 

What is the Agile Approach to Marketing?

Inspired by the agile software development methodology, an agile approach to marketing allows online businesses to adjust their marketing strategy according to the latest changes in the market to reach potential customers quickly.

This approach involves planning, executing, measuring, and reiterating your marketing strategy with the focus on frequent releases, deliberate experimentation, and unending commitment towards customers’ satisfaction.

If you’re a marketer who wants to know how exactly the agile approach can play out in your marketing department, this short guide will give you everything there is to know about agile marketing including benefits, examples, key elements, common Q&As, and mistakes to avoid while implementing this approach.

Benefits of Agile Marketing over Traditional Marketing

In simple terms, an agile approach helps marketing teams to work smartly and more effectively to produce better and clearer results than traditional marketing methods.

The benefits of the agile approach over traditional marketing are:

1. Increased productivity

Agile marketing teams get between 30% and 40% more done compared to traditional marketing teams. The two reasons attributed to this are the fact that they do less reworking and that they are working on the right priorities.

2. Transparency

The agile approach achieves transparency in two separate ways. Firstly, it allows sales, operations, and management to clearly see what the marketing team is working on.

Secondly, it encourages the marketing team to engage closely with customers and create a high degree of honesty to satisfy those customers.

3. Measurability

The marketing teams run small experiments, measure results and then focus on the strategies that have worked. This way, the team can better manage content creation, distribution and promotion to yield better results.

This image shows a detailed statistical breakdown of the benefits of adopting an agile marketing approach.

Benefits of an agile approach

Case studies of successful agile marketing implementation

1. SEMrush

The online visibility management and content marketing SaaS platform encourages its marketing department to be agile at all levels. With a flat structure, SEMrush empowers the teams to control over how to do the jobs that management deems necessary.

Daily standup meetings ensure that people are staying on track and the trust placed in each team member encourages involvement from everyone. Sprints enable the teams to experiment rapidly, measure the results and learn on a continuous basis. Simultaneously, the teams are at liberty to remove people who aren’t contributing.

The result: As mentioned by Olga Adrinko, SEMrush’s Global Head of Marketing on a podcast, the average revenue growth year over year from new markets was greater than 90%. The company gained 500,000 new users in eight months.

2. Santander

The UK based Santander, a consumer finance brand realized that the traditional marketing cycles of lengthy review cycles weren’t working for them anymore. They adopted an agile approach by releasing low-risk campaigns in two-week sprints. The successful campaigns got more budget while the unsuccessful ones were abandoned.

The takeaways, in terms of statistics reported by MarketingWeek, were:

  • Loyalty to the brand increased by 12%.
  • The Net Promoter Score (NPS) was at an all-time high in 17 years.
  • Account satisfaction in terms of trust and advocacy increased by 10%.
  • Positive sentiment was 90%, the highest they ever received.

3. Northern Arizona University

The university had a traditional four-member team creating an annual budget based on the goals and designing specific marketing projects. With the help of agencies, they would create around 50 pieces of collaterals every year.

Then, the digital wave started. Despite multiple rejigs, they were unable to keep up with client demands. Their Director of Strategic Marketing, Ann Marie deWees discovered agile marketing. They structured two-week sprints instead of having individuals take up entire projects.

They collaborated with the IT team to create a designer group instead of relying on external contractors. With this approach, they would break down projects into smaller pieces and distribute them among members based on their skills and availability. This way, they would get projects done within two weeks rather than having to wait for the collaterals to come back, get edited, revised and finally go live.

The takeaways, as published by UniversityBusiness include:

  • Content production increased from 50 pieces to 200 pieces (400%) in the first year.
  • Completion rate of sprint tasks was 95%.
  • 20% cost saving.
  • Client satisfaction increased by 30% in six months.

 4 key elements of agile marketing

These four key elements will help you take a deep dive into agile marketing:

1. Having a strategic vision

Crucial to a business, a strategic vision allows you to break down a long-term plan into yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly (and sometimes daily) plans to meet your major business goals.

In simple words, don’t be married to your long-term plans. Instead, pivot and adjust as and when necessary to identify the best way to serve your customers.

Your marketing strategy must be flexible and adaptive.

2. Experiment deliberately

In agile marketing, strategies are adopted based on experiments done by making small changes, testing them over a small period of time and analyzing the results.

This cycle runs on loop until you have a well-defined marketing strategy that generates the desired results.

Agile marketing means always testing, iterating and improving.

3. Data-based action aligned with business goals

Data helps marketers to decide on the next experiment. But the problem with marketing is, there are so many different kinds of data, such as traffic, social media shares, email campaigns, and so on.

So, how does a business ensure that its marketing team is not focusing on the wrong type of data?

Choose the right Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) based on your business goals and measure the progress towards those goals.

4. Fast approval process

Agile marketing is a fast-paced approach to content creation, distribution, lead generation, and conversion. But, when businesses adopt agile for the first time, they often always hit one of the biggest roadblocks to fast implementation, a complicated approval process.

I’ve personally witnessed how agile strategy has failed for many businesses due to their long & complicated approval processes.

McKinsey shared a perfect example of an international bank that wanted to experiment with a new email offer through an agile approach. Their marketing team put together a mailing list, wrote the copy, designed the template and send it to their legal team to get the required approvals.

After eight weeks, they got the approval and they sent out the email.

Result? – The whole test became irrelevant due to the eight week wait time.

Set clear expectations by conveying the deadlines whenever you need approvals.

Common mistakes to avoid while adopting an agile approach

The agile approach will definitely make a huge impact on your marketing results. However, be careful of some of the old habits that might ruin the effectiveness of the agile approach. Here are the three common mistakes you must avoid while implementing agile marketing.

1. Don’t make large bets

The traditional marketing approach is about coming up with a big plan and working towards it with the hope of yielding good results one day. In agile marketing, you can still achieve a plan like this with a focus on small wins and iterate based on data to reach the big goal.

2. Never stick to a specific plan

Agile marketing brings results when you keep your strategy flexible. In fact, 54.8% of surveyed marketers have reported that changing gears quickly has been the biggest benefit of going agile.

Be open to new ideas and experiment with them, even if it means rewriting the milestones or reassigning the tasks to other team members.

3. Don’t let your “gut-feeling” guide your marketing strategy

Old-school marketers often ran campaigns based on instincts. But in agile marketing, the idea is validated on the basis of data, not gut-feeling.

Data must be the driving force of your marketing strategy. Your team works towards measurable goals. Data allows marketing strategies to evolve and leads to the discovery of newer, quicker and more efficient ways of reaching potential customers.

Conclusion

While traditional marketing is predictive, sequential and rigid, the agile approach is adaptive, iterative and flexible. Agile is well-suited for the marketing domain, which is fast-paced and dynamic.





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10 Reasons Why You Absolutely Must Track Email in Google Analytics https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/10-reasons-why-you-absolutely-must-track-email-in-google-analytics/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/10-reasons-why-you-absolutely-must-track-email-in-google-analytics/#respond Thu, 05 Dec 2019 14:30:02 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/10-reasons-why-you-absolutely-must-track-email-in-google-analytics/

Are you struggling to measure the impact of your email program and is reporting taking too much time?

Then, you might want to consider tracking your email efforts in Google Analytics (GA). Here are ten rock-solid, performance-driven reasons why you should do just that:

1. Capture Email KPIs After the Click

“Don’t skip this part – what happens after that email click will either deliver high conversions or kill the most valuable offer you ever had.”

Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist, Google

Most Email Service Providers (ESPs) offer a fairly standard set of metrics that track the performance of your email, including open, click-through, bounce rates and unsubscribe rates.

What is really rare?

Insights about user behavior after the click.

Why would you need after-click insights?

Email is a core digital channel and marketers spend a great deal of time building their mailing lists. In fact, list building is a top challenge for most marketing specialists.

Because it is so tough to get the recipients to opt in and so easy to lose them – they can unsubscribe with a click –  it is extremely important that we keep them interested and engaged in our email programs.

And here is where measuring after-click behavior is critical. One look at the bounce rates and time spent on the website generated by an email can tell you immediately if your email asset is meeting the expectations of your audiences.

Google Analytics Campaigns report compares email campaign performance vs other channels

This “Campaigns” report available in Acquisition>Campaigns>All Campaigns shows that the sessions generated by a video email last much longer and have significantly lower bounce rates

If you have set up goals for this email, you can see instantly if any conversions are happening. If not, you immediately know there is a problem, and you can start investigating and fixing things right away.

What will Google Analytics show you?

All the after-click intelligence in one simple report. You can quickly view the bounce rates of the landing pages your email promoted. You can also check visit depths and actions (or goals) completed as a result of your email.

Why should you do this?

These are the KPIs you want to report on when it comes to measuring the impact of our email programs. Your decision-makers rarely care about open rates; they want to know the bottom-line effect of marketing investment.

Further reading

For more detailed explanation about measuring behavior after the click, you can check out Avinash Kaushik’s excellent email metrics blog available here.

2. Get Demographic Insights

Google Analytics collects great demographic information about your visitors. You can get a fairly extensive view of your email audience in just a few clicks. Important data to look at includes age, gender, interests, location, number/frequency of visits to the site, etc.

Why would you need these insights?

Because you want to slice and dice your audience in smaller, tighter segments, so that you can send them better-targeted email offers and content. This will make them happy and would result in improved acquisition and behavioral KPIs.

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3. Put Email Traffic on the Analytics Radar

Google Analytics comes with several out-of-the-box traffic source presets. They include organic search, paid search, social media, referrals, direct, and other. Email is not included because different businesses use different email service providers.

Why would you need these insights?

Once you set up email as one of your website traffic sources, you can easily compare how well it performs against your other traffic channels. The chances are that your work will shine when you show in direct comparison how much better email performs in terms of key KPIs, including time spent on the website, actions (goals) completed, visit depths, and visit frequency.

This “Sessions vs Bounce Rates” report available in Audience>Benchmarking>Channels reveals that our email program performs much better than the rest of the industry in terms of pages/session and session duration, but under-performs in terms of bounce rates. The report has been truncated to reduce clutter.

4. View How Individual Emails Contribute to Campaigns

While your All Traffic reports will show you how your email efforts stack up against the rest of your generic traffic sources, GA’s Campaign report enables you to get much more granular feedback about your work.

Why would you need these insights?

Once you start tracking email, you can compare how well users responded to a specific campaign on Twitter versus a single email (or series of emails).  This way you can easily compare how different channels contribute to the success of each one of your campaigns.

This can help you make an informed decision about tweaking budgets, resources, asset use, and more.

You can find out, for example, that Twitter is driving much more traffic than Email, but converting far fewer prospects.

Conversely, you can see that LinkedIn gives you a lot less traffic than Email, but is much more efficient relative to completed actions.

5. Compare the Performance of Individual Emails Links

Why would you need these insights?

Because you want to know if your recipients loved your email promo, but didn’t like the landing page (not to point fingers, of course – to optimize your pages). Or, that they happily downloaded a free eBook and watched a product video even though they didn’t take you up on your promo offer.

Reviewing link performance is an excellent way to identify the best traffic and engagement “generators” for your segments. You can sometimes even uncover brand new audiences for a blog or a product offering by tracking your links, especially when you combine this analysis with your demographic data.

And when you use tracking links, Google Analytics helps you see in seconds if what you are offering resonates with your audience’s interests by letting you compare bounce rates, time spent on the page, and the next steps of the visitor’s journey relative to that individual click.

If your bounce rates are high but time spent on the page is fairly long, this might mean that your blog is working well for your audiences, but you need to add more engaging offers in it. If your bounces are high and the visitors spend only seconds before they move on to the next page, you need to provide better matching content in your next email.

Individual links also let you find the answers to important acquisition questions, such as what generates more traffic and engagement – buttons, text links or image links, or what gets more clicks – your blog title, or the call to action associated with it, etc.

Combining link analysis with your demographic reports, for example, can quickly show you if your younger cohorts respond better to visual content versus text. This can be very helpful in segmenting your audience so that you can improve clicks and conversions with as little effort as possible.

6. Offload All Your Reporting Work & Save Time

Once you set up your tracking process, you can completely automate your reporting, which can save you a significant amount of time!

Why do this?

Google Analytics has a vast resource of ready-made dashboard templates that you can import with a push of a button.

They can be used immediately. You are saving a tremendous amount of time because you don’t have to build those reports and dashboards yourself.

And it takes seconds to access everything you need to see in regards to your email program – all in one page.

Here is a very useful dashboard that you can import into your Google Analytics to measure email performance.

Email KPIs Google Analytics Dashboard Available for Free

In this example, the “Email Performance” dashboard gives you instant visibility to some of your top email KPIs. It takes seconds to export or email the report to your stakeholders.

7. Automate Report Distribution – Save Even More Time

GA lets you “subscribe” your stakeholders to certain reports. Once you start getting email data in your platform, you should consider using this great service.

Why do this?

The reasons are obvious:

  • keep your stakeholders happy
  • give them the visibility they need to make informed decisions about campaigns, programs, and tasks
  • save a huge amount of time because you no longer need to drop everything in order to build a custom report for each new ad-hoc request.

8. Control What Info You Are Sharing

You might choose not to share everything relative to your email program performance. Or you might want to customize reporting formats and data depending on who you are sending it to – stakeholders, peers, or higher-level management.

Google Analytics gives you incredible flexibility with their custom reports, where you can drag and drop different data and reformat what you are sharing with a click of a button.

Why do this?

Be in control of your reports without spending too much time. Automate and customize content feedback based on the individual needs of your stakeholders.

9. You can also track email opens and clicks in GA

Google Analytics enables you to setup email open and clicks performance tracking via a few lines of code. You can capture individual email performance via the Events report.

Why do this?

If your email service provider doesn’t allow you to subscribe your stakeholders to individual email reports, you can use Google Analytics to automate this task for you. Because reports can be generated and emailed in seconds, the best benefit that you are getting here is time.

10. Real-time performance tracking for free

Google Analytics lets you view real-time data.

Why would you need these insights?

This enables you to watch live the effect an email has on your website’s traffic and user behavior. As an example, if you see that too many people are suddenly dropping off the e-commerce landing page that your email has taken them to, you might be experiencing a server issue.

If it is an easy fix and you take urgent action, you might be able to salvage the rest of your campaign.

Conclusion

If it takes you too long to build and share email reports with your stakeholders, or if you want to get more out of your email program and drive better results, you should consider tracking your efforts in Google Analytics.

Putting everything in place can be fast and simple – your one-time setup involves adding a few lines of code, which can be implemented by your programming or IT team. And if you are concerned about the tagging aspect of it – building tracking links is no longer the chore that it used to be, especially with free automated link builders such as CampaignTrackly that are readily available on the market.



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Better linking through science: 6 secrets to an effective link building strategy https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/better-linking-through-science-6-secrets-to-an-effective-link-building-strategy/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/better-linking-through-science-6-secrets-to-an-effective-link-building-strategy/#respond Wed, 04 Dec 2019 23:55:10 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/better-linking-through-science-6-secrets-to-an-effective-link-building-strategy/

A robust link building strategy is critical. Being discoverable online means having high domain authority and ranking for the keywords your customers use

Companies like Amazon and Google have forever changed the way consumers find and purchase goods and services. As a result, both B2C and B2B companies must consider the role online visibility plays in their campaigns to attract customers.

In the digital world, a robust link building strategy is critical. The modern consumer journey is driven by search engines, and being discoverable online means having high domain authority and ranking for the keywords your customers use.

High-quality backlinks increase domain authority, ultimately increasing your Google page ranking. When pages have high-quality backlinks pointed at them, it builds trust with Google. Credible sites are rewarded by the search giant’s algorithms, while those that don’t have backlinks pointing toward them are punished.

A study by Moz found that more than 99% of the top-ranking websites showing up in Google search results contained at least one external link. Almost all of these websites had one or more external links pointing at them.

Of course, not all links are created equal. To assess the quality of a site, you can use tools like Moz to view its domain authority. You’ll also be able to see whether the external links leading to that site are spam and whether the site is spamming its own links out. Unfortunately, spam is more prevalent than ever. In 2018, spam click rates rose to over 14% — partially because other attack vectors favored by cybercriminals have become less effective over time.

It all comes down to creating an effective link building strategy — especially if you want to gain the attention of modern consumers. It’s a long game, though, so the time to start is now.

Thinking ahead to strategize

Link building is an ongoing process that takes foresight and careful planning. Especially since certain keywords require you to adopt a more aggressive approach. For instance, trying to rank for a keyword like “asset-based lending” — a popular keyword in a highly competitive niche — will be harder than ranking for something like “iguana feeder in West Palm Beach.”

Better-linking-through-science.IMAGE-2

If you’re trying to rank for highly competitive keywords, don’t do it alone. Outsource the data entry to build large lists and automate outreach using tools like Yesware, Hunter.io, SpyFu, SEMrush, or Moz. Just be sure to avoid linking to websites that have high spam scores.

No matter your link building strategy, you’ll want to take advantage of opportunities to publish content on other sites. If you are writing a guest-contributed article for an external blog, the company publishing the post will typically send you guidelines to conform with its content style and structure preferences. If you have content that you want someone else to link to, you might consider sending an email that’s structured around that link. After all, backlinks to your site will only increase your page ranking.

The key to link building

Link building can optimize your digital marketing goals by helping you gain more quality links and get more organic traffic to your site. The following tips will help you develop and manage a successful link building strategy:

1. Find related keywords and sites.

Type the beginning of a search term into Google, and the search engine will display a number of keywords and phrases that relate to it. Understanding which keyword terms are most relevant to your audience will allow you to determine which of those to target.

Better-linking-through-science.IMAGE-1

You’ll be hard-pressed to find websites related to your keywords if you’re relying on standard search engine queries, though. Use search operators to make your queries more precise, leading to more useful results. These operators range from basic (“link building strategies”) to advanced (intitle: “link building strategies”).

2. Consider domain authority.

Build a list of link building opportunities using a tool like ScrapeBox, checking the domain scores of the websites on your list using tools like Moz or Ahrefs. Eliminate websites with low domain authority and high spam scores. Low-quality links to and from these sites can lower your domain score and, in some cases, hurt your rankings.

Likewise, stay away from “black hat” methods — like keyword stuffing, cloaking, or using private link networks — that might temporarily give you an SEO edge. Google will eventually catch on and penalize you, and you’ll have to start over from scratch.

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3. Organize your list of relevant sites.

After searching the web for link building opportunities and compiling your list of sites, you should have each site’s domain name, email, domain authority, and spam ranking. This information will often appear on a site’s “About” or “Contact” pages, or you can find it using Google or a tool like Hunter.io.

Create a spreadsheet with the domain name, contact info, domain authority, and spam score as the headings. Then, organize your list based on domain authority rankings using the sorting mechanism in Excel or a similar spreadsheet tool.

4. Reach out to site owners.

Once you have the contact info of the sites, use an email outreach tool to send messages in bulk. Send a template email with the URL of the blog post you’d like them to link, and politely ask them for a link share. You can do this using a tool like Yesware, which is relatively inexpensive and works well with Gmail.

Find something on the target website that you can comment on in order to personalize your message. Why? Personalized emails will always have a higher response rate than random email blasts. Emails with the recipient’s name in the subject line, for example, can increase open rates by as much as 20%.

You’ll probably only hear back from a small number of the site owners you contact, but those responses usually will be positive. Some might ask you for money in exchange for a link, but you shouldn’t pay for links if you have high-quality content.

5. Outsource link building when necessary.

Executing a link building strategy takes a fair amount of time, money, and energy. As an easier — and cheaper — alternative to hiring internally, you can hire a virtual assistant from a company like Upwork to expedite the process.

Virtual assistants can visit each link in your database and recruit other people to help with data entry or any other tasks. Just make sure that you provide virtual assistants with a step-by-step process and templates, if possible. Don’t expect them to know exactly what to do without a little bit of training and context.

6. Remember the long game.

To find out how many backlinks your competition has for each term, you’ll need to do some competitor research for each of your keywords. This will allow you to find other websites that are pointing to relevant content and help you uncover new link opportunities. You’ll want to at least come close to your competitors’ numbers while also striving to improve your outreach and contact techniques.

If you’re trying to ensure that your site stacks up to the competition, that number of backlinks provides a great benchmark. You’ll also want to make sure your content quality is on par or better than that of your competitors, so you should constantly look for ways to improve your offerings.

Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks for search engines to index your site and update your page rankings — and remember that some keywords can take years to rank for. Strive to be the best in your niche, and view your link building strategy as a long-term endeavor. It will pay off. As long as you’re always improving, your results will continually improve with you.

 





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How to segment your prospects with email marketing automation https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/how-to-segment-your-prospects-with-email-marketing-automation/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/how-to-segment-your-prospects-with-email-marketing-automation/#respond Wed, 04 Dec 2019 13:28:05 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/how-to-segment-your-prospects-with-email-marketing-automation/

When it comes to your email marketing channel, the key to realizing and implementing this sales approach is through prospect segmentation, the more specific, the better.

I see it way too often: companies going for the quick sale. They do it before they even get to know you. It’s like a salesperson at a retail store, immediately after you walk in, saying ‘Hi – I know just what you need, and it’s right over here!’ Big time turn off. Plus, you’ll probably never go back there again.

Such ‘push’ selling is dead and has been replaced by personalized selling approaches. When it comes to your email marketing channel, the key to realizing and implementing this sales approach is through prospect segmentation, the more specific, the better.

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In case you’re still a doubter, here are some compelling statistics from email automation vendor Mailchimp:

  • Opens for segmented email campaigns are 14.3% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
  • Clicks for segmented email campaigns are 101% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
  • Unsubscribes for segmented email campaigns are 9.4% lower than non-segmented campaigns.

Always remember your goal: to create more personal and empathetic connections with your prospects, and thereby to better sell to and service them. Best of all, these closer connections will result in higher engagement and conversions today, and higher customer loyalty tomorrow.

Market segmentation

It’s about the questions you ask

First, for the unaware, a definition of ‘segmentation:’ the process of placing your prospects into different groups based on common characteristics. Some of these traits are inherent (for example, based on demographics or psychographics), and some are behavioral (that is, the things you learn as prospects interact with your brand over time).

Imagine that you own a website named ToddlerStomp.com that sells shoes to toddlers (kids aged 1 to 4 years). You sell great shoes — cool-looking, durable and responsibly sourced. But, for some unknown reason, your customers aren’t beating (or stomping) their way through your virtual front door.

So, how do you get them more engaged? Use the power of segmentation. For example, identify all prospects who are married and have one or more children under four-years-old. Or prospects who have signed up for your newsletter, viewed the first two emails, then done nothing else. (Both could be targets for ToddlerStomp, right?)

So, how to do this segmentation? To get the answers (segments) you first need to ask the questions and track the clicks that help you discern these unique personality traits.

Example: new email subscriber on ToddlerStomp.com

Let’s assume that one of your visitors just signed up for your email newsletter. That’s wonderful, but of no monetary value. What is the first question you should ask this question in the next email you send? Hold on — let’s first back up a minute.

Before you start asking questions, you should take stock of what you already know about each prospect. By linking certain website session data — for example, visit date, state and device used — with their email, you already know something about them, things you can use to tailor your follow-up marketing messages.

If, for example, a given prospect is visiting from Minnesota, and it’s late November, chances are they will need warm shoes for their little one. So you can base the first questions you ask on these underlying assumptions.

But you should also validate these assumptions. In this case, the visitor could be a grandparent of the child, looking to purchase shoes for their grandson for Christmas. That’s quite different than a mother shopper.

So you might start by saying, ‘Thanks for joining the ToddlerStomp insider’s community, where you get a personalized shoe-shopping experience for your little one!’

‘Where does your toddler live?’

[ default state selection to Minnesota, with the option to change ]

‘Boy or a girl?’

[ select girl, boy ]

‘What’s his/her birthday?’

[ month/day/year ]

Provide prospect next-step paths

After this prospect presses the ‘Continue’ button, you can then either:

(Path One) Just save their info and patiently wait to send them another email in a few days.  You can tailor this email, for example, to people in cold climates, and who are shopping for girl’s shoes.

OR

(Path Two) Send your prospect to a landing page that’s specific to this same segment (parents in cold climates, shopping for girl’s shoes). You can tailor the copy and call-to-action to prospects in this segment.

If you work for a premium brand (that sells shoes costing two times the standard price), Path One might be best. Why? Because you need to prove the extra value of this fancy footwear (design, quality, brand image, etc.). But if you’re selling regularly-priced shoes, Path 2 should work for you.

Avoid the (often strong) tendency to ask too many questions. Three is the maximum I recommend. Ask more and it starts feeling like a survey or interrogation, feelings you definitely don’t want to invoke early in the sales process. You can always ask more questions tomorrow, in the next email in the sequence.

If in doubt whether to ask a particular question, ask yourself: “If I asked this question of a prospect standing in front of me, would it be awkward or annoying?’ If you answered ‘Yes’, skip it.

Creating segments

It’s the tags that add the value

How, mechanically, do you define these various segments? With tags. Not just for tweets or Instagram posts, tags should be added to each prospect’s record as they interact with your brand.

If, in the above ToddlerStomp example, a prospect selects the Minnesota and Girl options in your first email, add the ‘#MN’ and ‘#girl’ tags to their customer record in your customer relationship management (CRM) application. If then, in the next email, they choose ‘girl’s size 6’, add the ‘#girls-size6’ tag as well.

Just knowing these three things you could send this prospect the following offer (wrapped in compelling marketing copy, of course):

Send offer: ‘warm shoes for girls aged 3-4 with shoe size 6′

Now that’s a pretty specific — and personalized — offer. And much better than sending them some warm-weather shoes suggestions (oops!) or some other generic promotion!

You get the idea. The more you learn about each prospect or customer, the most you use that knowledge to send a) the next logical question in the relationship-building sequence, and/or b) the most personalized offer (or offers) you can. Even if you don’t get the sale today, you’ll show that you value getting to know this person better, which builds trust in your brand.

If you want to broaden your email segmentation thinking, marketing analytics expert Neil Patel offers ten other ‘quick and east’ email marketing segmentation ideas.

If you’re a glutton for more, the savvy marketers at OptinMonster offers 50 more ideas for how to segment your email list.

Segmenting your email list

Create some email sequences and logic

Now that you’re familiar with segments and tags, let’s talk about how to serve up segment-specific content to each of your prospects with conditional logic.

As the above schematic shows, adding conditional logic and branching is simple in theory and just a matter of:

  • Defining the ‘decision diamonds’ in the flow of your prospects’ online journey (based on the questions you ask them, and their interactions).
  • Defining the email sequences you want to send for each segmentation condition.
  • Designing the email creative for each of those sequences and conditions

For ToddlerStomp, Sequence (1) should be the ‘Indoctrination’ sequence, which includes both welcome and next-step messaging.

Sequence (2) could be your ‘Girls-start’ sequence. The goal of this sequence: to clarify your prospect’s top considerations for their daughter’s (or granddaughter’s) shoes. Here you might ask questions like:

  • Is your child crawling or walking?
  • What brands do you prefer?
  • What colors do you prefer?
  • What’s budget did you have in mind?

You get the idea. My point: after your prospect has answered a couple of these questions you’ll have a good sense exactly what types of shoes to recommend (offer) to them. That’s solution selling at it’s finest.

In each of these email sequences, as your readers keep clicking, you learn more and more, and can thus keep refining your messaging and offers accordingly.

Segmenting with Mailchimp

Email marketing automation platforms

In digital marketing, as in life, it’s always better to work smarter versus harder. And smarter (and more efficiently) in this context means using an email marketing automation app.

Starter app: Mailchimp

If you’re a small or medium-sized business just getting started with marketing segmentation and automation, MailChimp is likely your best bet. As you can see in the above screenshot, MailChimp’s ‘Marketing Platform’ feature list is quite extensive.

Mailchimp also provides an easy onboarding experience, so it doesn’t require a big-time investment.

Mid-tier option: Infusionsoft by Keap

If you’re seeking a more full-featured marketing automation suite, InfusionSoft should give you all the capabilities you need. As such, it’s best suited to growing enterprises – agencies or mid-tier companies.

Recently acquired by Keap, Infusionsoft now supports advanced sales and marketing automation, and things like a fully-customized campaign. Infusionsoft also integrates with all of the most popular customer-related applications. 

For emails, segmentation is the solution

When it comes to sending more personalized messages and offers to your prospects, segmentation is a key piece of the puzzle. And, to keep from going crazing while adding and tracking the tags and associated logic you’ll be adding for each prospect, you’ll likely want the help of an email marketing automation app.

Yes, it’s certainly an investment, but the payoff is big in terms of higher email open and click-through rates. Best of all, your new customers will feel like you already know and value them, which increases their chances of becoming loyal return customers.



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5 steps to creating an integrated marketing communications campaign https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/5-steps-to-creating-an-integrated-marketing-communications-campaign/ https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/5-steps-to-creating-an-integrated-marketing-communications-campaign/#respond Tue, 03 Dec 2019 12:23:08 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2019/12/5-steps-to-creating-an-integrated-marketing-communications-campaign/

Integrated campaigns are effective at balancing both short-term sales uplifts and long-term brand-building effects by combining a range of different channels

The advantages of creating a joined-up, integrated marketing communications (IMC) plan are well-documented and go back over twenty years. Even before the internet really took off businesses, brands and agencies were looking for ways to create consistency across content and media touchpoints.

Although not all campaigns have to be fully integrated (e.g. short-term guerrilla campaigns or PR stunts), brands looking to make an impression and raise awareness as part of a product launch or seasonal sales push should consider how the different elements of a campaign come together as one.

Integrated campaigns are effective at balancing both short-term sales uplifts and long-term brand-building effects by combining a range of different channels:

Trade-off between brand and activation efforts across channels

[Source: Les Binet and Peter Field, Media in Focus: Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, IPA]

Within this post, I’d like to set out a handful of steps that any marketer can use as a blueprint for creating an integrated marketing communications plan.

The benefits of integrated marketing communication

Every marketing campaign will be different – from the overarching objective, through to the content, media and call to action. However, as marketers, it’s our responsibility to look beyond our individual silos and look for opportunities to connect the dots and develop campaigns that use different elements that support one another.

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It’s worth highlighting some of the benefits of creating a truly IMC plan:

Increase profits

By establishing a unified message across media touchpoints, campaigns are more effective

Drive sales

Stretching messages across different communications enable brands to increase reach and drive positive business results.

Average number of very large effects reported

[Source: Les Binet and Peter Field, Media in Focus: Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era, IPA]

Stronger credibility

Consistency across channels generates confidence and credibility in what you are communicating as a brand

Drives efficiencies

By eliminating duplication across media type (e.g. imagery, video, graphics) and agencies, brands can generate improved efficiencies in time and cost.

Key consideration for developing an IMC campaign plan

Now that we’ve established some of the benefits of creating an IMC campaign, let’s look at five steps to consider when developing a new marketing campaign:

Set common objective and strategy across teams

From the very outset of any campaign, it’s crucial to have a clear and common set of objectives. If there is any ambiguity around the campaign’s primary objective, it’s unlikely you’ll have a unified team that can collaborate and complement one another.

One way to set common goals and objectives is to work together to evaluate what you’re ultimately looking to achieve. For example, you may be launching a new product or service, in which case brand awareness and consideration will be your objective. Alternatively, you may want to drive sales from your existing customer base, meaning cross-sale will be your primary objective.

Whatever you’re looking to achieve, consider your current state versus objective. The strategy you develop will be the bridge between these two elements. To make this work, all teams should be fully invested because the process requires insight from everyone involved.

Some key questions and considerations:

  • Strategic goals – what are the overarching business, sales and marketing objectives?
  • Targets – what does success look like in terms of size of the opportunity, market share, brand awareness or lead generation?
  • Timings – over what period of time should objectives, goals and targets be achieved?
  • Budget – what is the budget we’re working to? Is there scope to expand and build over time?

Identify a clear audience insight

The one common factor of every successful campaign is a clear and compelling insight. Mark Pollard, a leading strategist and author of Strategy is Your Words:

“Insights are unspoken human truths, truths the subconscious recognizes when it sees them. Often, insights are the arsenal of comedians and poets. A lot of creatives lookup jokes about particular issues as inspiration for their ideas for this reason.

One of the best ways to find them? Start with something that seems obvious and keep asking ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’”

There are four main areas that make up a marketing problem, which either on their own or in combination with one another, can be the source of a potential insight:

4 areas of a marketing problem

Start with a ‘big idea’

Whilst not always essential, the creation of a ‘big idea’ can act as a very effective centre-point for an integrated marketing campaign. Without a clear, impactful and differentiated concept, there is less opportunity to pierce through the noise and capture the attention of consumers.

The big idea should be an overarching concept that can stretch across all media so that it’s not just limited to one channel. In this context, the big idea can sometimes be referred to as an ‘experience idea’ because it marks the transition from strategy to execution:

Traditional versus modern approach

The goal is to develop an idea that is joined up and integrated with all other relevant channels, rather than a series of separate executions that have a tenuous relationship with one another. This approach will put you in a stronger position to engage consumers meaningfully in the places that matter.

Les Binet and Peter Field’s research indicates that ‘fame-driving ‘campaigns give brands a greater opportunity to drive results across a range of measures:

Fame-driving campaigns out-perform others on all business metrics

[Source: Les Binet and Peter Field, The Long and the Short of It, IPA]

Drive efficiencies across media channels

The channel planning element of a campaign is where you outline how different media channels will be used to meet your business and marketing objectives based on your budget and audience insight:

  1. Outline the role of channels – this should provide a top-line/ one-page summary of how your proposed role for channel align with your communications and overarching business objectives. The below shows an example of how this might look like for a brand awareness campaign:

Brand awareness campaign

  1. Media deep-dive – following on from the channel overview, go into detail for each of the main media channels to explain more about how and where these will be used
  2. Guidelines and best practice – many elements of the media mix will require support and guidance from the lead marketing function. A set of key guidelines will help ensure that at the very least core best practices are followed to minimise mistakes and inefficiencies

Leverage custom data

One area that is not always given the attention it deserves is the use of customer data, an important consideration for driving retention.

Whilst it could be argued that this is something marketers should look at post-campaign (rather than part of the IMC campaign itself), smart use of customer data should always be used to power a campaign and ensure content and media are being used efficiently.

One way to use existing customer data is to interrogate the customer journey for your brand. Although a customer journey is rarely linear, it’s still important to map out the journey from your business’s perspective and the different elements that will impact the customer at each stage:

Integrated customer journey

By mapping out the customer journey, you can start providing useful insight:

  • Understand how the customer sees themselves at each stage, e.g. our definition of ‘active’ and ‘non-active’ may not align with customers’ perceptions of their relationship with your business
  • Identify key communication and content needs at different stages of the journey
  • Align contact with different customer types (personas), segments and life stages

Conclusion

Creating an integrated marketing communications campaign requires clear alignment and buy-in from every team involved in the process. By agreeing with an overarching vision and objectives upfront, a campaign team can start acquiring audience insight and develop a creative idea. This will underpin every element within the campaign (from direct mail to TV) and give the brand the best opportunity to reach the target consumers and generate results.



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