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]]> 123693 In the digital era, convert customer frustration into conversion https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/in-the-digital-era-convert-customer-frustration-into-conversion/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/in-the-digital-era-convert-customer-frustration-into-conversion/#respond Mon, 13 Jul 2020 17:34:12 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/in-the-digital-era-convert-customer-frustration-into-conversion/

A single bad review can have a huge impact on your business, which is why customer service is key. A customer journey map can help improve conversion

Are you facing issues while trying to provide a stellar customer experience? The onus is on the businesses to rectify this situation quickly because customer experience has been a cornerstone of business since the very beginning. However, today, the business landscape is growing increasingly competitive. Businesses are doing more than ever to get customers’ attention than ever before.

Not so long ago, the need or want for a product meant we were supposed to drive miles to get to a brick and mortar store to spend hours looking for the desired product. From test driving each option to trying to determine the difference between models, we would make the comparisons in person.

If possible, you might even have ended up asking a friend or two for a recommendation. In a general scenario, there is always a sales rep ready to help who could answer questions and help you proceed with your purchase. Most likely, you’d decide right there, selecting a familiar brand name. Do you know what the biggest struggle was then? Finding a parking spot near the store.

As of now, there are a huge number of options available when it comes to researching and purchasing products and services. You can find almost any product from any brand and compare it by quickly visiting review sites, social media, and blogs. You can find out about everything from quality to price to customer service.

Of course, this also means that negative reviews can influence the buying decision of your end-user. Businesses with just one negative review risk losing as much as 22% of their customers. If three negative articles or reviews pop up in a search query, the potential for lost customers increases to 59.2%. Get four or more negative articles, and you’re likely to lose 70% of your potential customers.

It seems as though the word of a bad experience can travel faster than lightning. One negative review can quickly spread across the globe like wildfire and cause damage to your brand’s reputation. Unfortunately, people often tend to remember negative events and reviews more easily than positive ones. Research suggests that it can take 12 positive experiences to repair the damage caused by a single negative one.

Keeping today’s fast pace life into account, most customers don’t bother to complain – they just never come back – leaving you in the dark without explaining why they left in the first place.

  • What went wrong?
  • How was their experience?
  • Is it the price, product, or service; what is the issue?

All you know is that you can suddenly experience a high rate of customer churn. This is why it is important to remember that one single customer can make or break your brand.

What causes bad customer experiences?

Rejection comes in many shapes and sizes, so predicting its cause isn’t easy. However, there are several commonly-reported issues that you should bear in mind:

  • Long wait times.
  • Unable to understand customer needs.
  • Unresolved issues/questions.
  • Automation without a human touch.
  • Service that is not personalized.
  • Rude/angry employees.

There are likely to be more causes of bad customer service than these though. It’s easy to put yourself in the place of your customer and consider the last time you were frustrated by a service you received and why. Are your customers having the same experience?

Customer journey mapping: How to make this work?

Customer journey mapping, the concept has the potential to provide companies with a rare ability to better understand their customer in regards to the user experience your brand offers and, therefore, stop problems before they start. Its benefits include:

  • Tailoring your UX to the consumer, giving them a better all-around experience.
  • Losing fewer customers as they engage with your brand (and therefore increase profit).

Apart from this, by mapping your customer journey, you’ll better understand how your business works, be able to spot potential weaknesses, and allocate resources more efficiently. As a result, you will be able to improve and streamline your customer service, as well as identifying (and removing) any potential weak links.

More importantly, discovering, reaching out to people, encouraging conversion, effective delivery, and aftercare are the crucial stages in the process of the customer journey map. You must make sure you truly engage and empathize with the customer’s experience through all five of these stages.

Boost conversions and keep customers happy

Around 80% of businesses believe they offer a superior customer experience, but only a handful of customers agree that this is the case. You can learn from the customers who don’t agree by reaching out to them to gather as much information as you can regarding their expectations and whether they are being met and where there is room for improvement.

At the same time, it is a good idea to research websites, especially those that are similar to your own. Keep an eye on them, get to know what they do and what seems to work for them. Then, revisit your website. Can you spot the difference? Is there any similarity between the CX you offer and what they provide?

On top of this, you should be assessing how many people are viewing key parts of your website, clicking through to different areas, staying on your site, or bouncing off. This will help you get a better understanding of whether your content is helpful and engaging, as well as how long it takes people to convert. If too many people are bouncing or exiting, address this. If the conversion process is too long, try and cut it down by addressing the information you provide earlier on.

A holistic approach

If you wish to truly improve your customers’ experience, you need to be holistic. After all, if someone reaches the three points of annoyance in the ordering process, they won’t complete their purchase, let alone come back to your site. Even a few small issues can build up and be enough to make a customer abandon their purchase. With a customer journey map; you can create a detailed and segmented journey to help you prevent even small annoyances.

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You should identify the ‘Pain Points’ that a customer may experience. This is vital as it will allow you to see which areas of your business are performing below expectations. These can be the areas that customers are reporting a negative or neutral experience or where you can see customers dropping off when you assess your analytics. Get into the nitty-gritty of why they are leaving your website. The chances are, you may not have considered the issue beforehand.

Last but certainly not the least, quantify. This is one of the most crucial things you need to do when you are about to deal with fundamentally subjective and often intangible concepts, such as customer emotion, decision-making, and overall perception of your brand. Mitigating these difficulties using metrics whenever possible, is the best thing to do. Once you have your information through adequate testing and quantifying, nothing can stop you from succeeding.


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Incremental measurement – advantage and opportunities https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/incremental-measurement-advantage-and-opportunities/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/incremental-measurement-advantage-and-opportunities/#respond Fri, 10 Jul 2020 16:34:19 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/incremental-measurement-advantage-and-opportunities/

The scientific method of measuring marketing effectiveness

As seasoned marketers, I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the quote (often attributed to John Wanamaker):

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”

The ability to effectively measure marketing effectiveness is the Holy Grail for CMOs and marketing leaders. With so many established, new and emerging channels at our disposal, it’s more important than ever to identify and prioritize those that drive the most value for our businesses.

Many marketers believe that evaluating the impact of marketing is straightforward – simply compare the outcomes from one campaign to another and look at which channels generated value.

However, simple or even more complex attribution modelling doesn’t always give the right credit to different types of advertising and marketing. Last touch attribution ignores different influencers on the path to conversion, whilst multi-touch attribution can give too much credit to low-value touches at the start and end of the measurement period.

The advantages of incremental measurement

Some of my fondest memories from school involved the experiments we conducted in science class. Whether we were testing magnetic fields, chemicals or plants, our experiments always had five steps:

  1. Question(s)
  2. Observation
  3. Hypothesis
  4. Method
  5. Results

Following the scientific method ensures that experiments can be both easily repeated and the results accepted. As part of the method step of the process, the ‘thing’ being tested should be broken into two groups:

  1. Treatment – Receives the treatment or intervention, usually manipulation of the independent variable.
  2. Control – Receives no treatment or intervention, or receives standard treatment that can be understood as a baseline.

Experiments involving treatment and control groups represent the scientific gold standard in finding out what works. By comparing results between treatment and control groups, we can make a much more accurate evaluation of the value specific marketing and advertising activities deliver. This approach gives us the incremental value by measuring what a campaign adds to revenue.

However, poorly designed experiments can lead to misallocations of budgets, especially if too much weight is placed on a single set of results. The importance of having a very clear question and hypothesis is crucial, as well as a series of repeatable experiments, before making a final decision on what may or may not be effective.

The components of a controlled experiment

The main difference between results generated via scientific experiments and other forms of measurement is the ability to identify incremental impact. Incremental uplift demonstrates the performance of a specific channel being tested in a more meaningful way. Rather than showing how many products your target audience bought, incremental uplifts show how many more products were purchased because of the marketing activity the audience was exposed to as a result of a change in media spend.

A treatment and control experiment has two main features:

  1. A clearly defined target group
  2. Control over who will be exposed to the marketing activity

A marketing campaign will never reach all users within the target audience because exposure to an ad, search listing or email will depend on people’s individual behaviour, numerous targeting parameters and competitor bidding.

This means that the people reached will differ from those that are not reached. To measure effectiveness, we need to make a comparison: “Did people who saw our ad change their behaviour, relative to not seeing it?”

In order to do this, we must randomly divide our target audience into two groups: those that are exposed (treatment) and those that are not (control).

This test and control framework establishes a baseline so we can clearly identify the impact of our marketing efforts. Without this framework, it’s easy for results to be ambiguous or inconclusive.

Bear in mind, however, that there are many factors that can affect the results of an experiment. Don’t assume that email or social don’t work because one experiment performed below expectations. Even if the treatment and control groups and targeting were set up correctly, the experiment may have failed because the creative messaging or proposition wasn’t effective. One test is never enough, so run a series of tests with different variables.

Five steps to creating an effective experiment

A controlled experiment will be an experiment itself if it’s the first time you’ve attempted this way of measuring marketing effectiveness. So take your time and give yourself permission to test and learn. Here are five steps to follow:

1. Set out your business goals and performance metrics

Ensure that tests are aligned to the broader business goals you’re looking to influence. If your company is looking to drive committed customers, testing direct and one-to-one communication might be the focus. You might, therefore, look to test the targeting and creative as part of your mail and email communications.

2. Ask a clear question

Once you’ve thought through your business goals, ask a clear question about what you’re looking to achieve. Start with an objective:

“To understand if narrowing our targeting to the 25-40 demographic for email drives incremental newsletter sign-ups”

And a hypothesis:

“Changing our targeting parameters to reach a narrower audience base (from 20 – 50  to 25 – 40) will improve relevancy and increase CTR for newsletter sign-ups.”

3. Develop a media plan

Develop a solid media plan in response to the objective and hypothesis of the test. Define the types of media you plan to use and test to achieve your objectives.

4. Design the experiment

Design your experiment with all the right details:

  • Set Parameters
  • Outline measurement period
  • Include confidence intervals
  • Define clear treatment and control groups
  • Ensure you employ random selection for treatment and control groups

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5. Test and learn

It will take more than one attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of any given channel. Take what you’ve learned from your first experiment, make adjustments and test again.

Conclusion: the benefits of controlled marketing experiments

There are three main benefits to running controlled marketing experiments:

  • Hypothesis-driven – Experimental design brings goal-setting to the front of the process.
  • Gold standard of measurement – A valid, controlled experiment will tell you whether marketing on a specific platform creates incremental value. Other measurement methods (e.g. attribution) are useful but depend on assumptions and correlations.
  • Simple to understand – Controlled experiments are transparent and easy to understand. Marketers at any level can understand the results.

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How to use the BCG Matrix https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-use-the-bcg-matrix/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-use-the-bcg-matrix/#respond Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:42:27 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-use-the-bcg-matrix/

Examples of using the BCG Matrix (Growth Market Share Matrix) to review your product portfolio

What is the BCG Matrix?

The Boston Consulting group’s product portfolio matrix (BCG matrix) is designed to help with long-term strategic planning, to help a business consider growth opportunities by reviewing its portfolio of products to decide where to invest, to discontinue or develop products. It’s also known as the Growth/Share Matrix.

The Matrix is divided into 4 quadrants based on an analysis of market growth and relative market share, as shown in the diagram below.


  • 1. Dogs: These are products with low growth or market share.
  • 2. Question marks or Problem Child: Products in high growth markets with low market share.
  • 3. Stars: Products in high growth markets with high market share.
  • 4. Cash cows: Products in low growth markets with high market share

Members can use our guide exploring classical marketing models to learn more about how to apply them to real-world challenges. We also have a free guide for more recent digital marketing models including our Smart Insights RACE digital marketing planning framework.

How to use the BCG Matrix?

To apply the BCG Matrix you can think of it as showing a portfolio of products or services, so it tends to be more relevant to larger businesses with multiple services and markets. However, marketers in smaller businesses can use similar portfolio thinking to their products or services to boost leads and sales as we’ll show at the end of this article.

Considering each of these quadrants, here are some recommendations on actions for each:

  • Dog products: The usual marketing advice here is to aim to remove any dogs from your product portfolio as they are a drain on resources.

    However, this can be an over-simplification since it’s possible to generate ongoing revenue with little cost.

    For example, in the automotive sector, when a car line ends, there is still a need for spare parts. As SAAB ceased trading and producing new cars, a whole business emerged providing SAAB parts.

  • Question mark products: As the name suggests, it’s not known if they will become a star or drop into the dog quadrant. These products often require significant investment to push them into the star quadrant. The challenge is that a lot of investment may be required to get a return. For example, Rovio, creators of the very successful Angry Birds game has developed many other games you may not have heard of. Computer games companies often develop hundreds of games before gaining one successful game. It’s not always easy to spot the future star and this can result in potentially wasted funds.
  • Star products: Can be the market leader though require ongoing investment to sustain. They generate more ROI than other product categories.
  • Cash cow products: The simple rule here is to ‘Milk these products as much as possible without killing the cow! Often mature, well-established products. The company Procter & Gamble which manufactures Pampers nappies to Lynx deodorants has often been described as a ‘cash cow company’.

Use the model as an overview of your products, rather than detailed analysis. If market share is small, use the ‘relevant market share’ axis is based on your competitors rather than entire market.

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BCG Matrix Example: How it can be applied to digital marketing strategies?

The BCG Model is based on products rather than services, however, it does apply to both. You could use this if reviewing a range of products, especially before starting to develop new products.

Looking at the British retailer, Marks & Spencer, they have a wide range of products and many different lines. We can identify every element of the BCG matrix across their ranges:

Example: Lingerie. M&S was known as the place for ladies underwear at a time when choice was limited. In a multi-channel environment, M&S lingerie is still the UK’s market leader with high growth and high market share.

  • Question Marks/Problem Child

Example: Food. For years M&S refused to consider food and today has over 400 Simply Food stores across the UK. Whilst not a major supermarket, M&S Simply Food has a following which demonstrates high growth and low market share.

Example: Classic range. Low growth and high market share, the M&S Classic range has strong supporters.

Example: Autograph range. A premium-priced range of men’s and women’s clothing, with low market share and low growth. Although placed in the dog category, the premium pricing means that it makes a financial contribution to the company.

You can also apply the BCG model to areas other than your product strategy.

For example, we developed this matrix as an example of how a brand might evaluate its investment in various marketing channels. The medium is different, but the strategy remains the same-  milk the cows, don’t waste money on the dogs, invest in the stars and give the question marks some experimental funds to see if they can become stars.


Other more tactical uses of matrixes to support your digital marketing strategy development include the Smart Insights :

What to watch for?

The BCG Model is seen as simplistic and it can be difficult to classify products in smaller businesses where the relative market share is too small to quantify. It’s also based on the concept that market share can be achieved by spending more on the marketing budget.

Original Sources

Barksdale, H. C. and Harris Jr., C. E. (1982). Portfolio Analysis and the Product Life Cycle. Long Range Planning. (Vol. 15 Issue 6). p74-83.

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How best to grow your markets by translation and localization https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-best-to-grow-your-markets-by-translation-and-localization/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-best-to-grow-your-markets-by-translation-and-localization/#respond Thu, 09 Jul 2020 15:23:03 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-best-to-grow-your-markets-by-translation-and-localization/

Many businesses make the mistake of plunging ahead without due attention to translation quality or write something that proves offensive to the local mindset

Often the most cost-effective way to grow your business is by entering foreign markets. But that’s easier said than done. One relatively low-cost key to foreign expansion is successful translation and localization: letting prospective customers know that you speak their language and take into consideration their local culture. We’ll consider the challenges and pitfalls of these processes and how to get from here to there most successfully.

It’s a cliché that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. But the fact is that many businesses make the mistake of plunging ahead without due attention to translation quality or write something that proves offensive or inappropriate to the local or cultural mindset. The result can be that your message and meaning is “lost in translation” as the Econotimes elucidates.

It’s not hard to make such linguistic slips without even knowing that you did – until it’s too late. You can’t possibly be an expert on linguistic or cultural nuances in every market but you need to find someone who is, or else risk embarrassment. So what’s the best way to play it safe without laying out wads of cash?

The delicate balance between quality and price

Translating and localizing content are expert services but, for the small business marketer, they can be relatively inexpensive compared to the costs of creating original content. Once you have that original content in hand and seek to use it proactively for marketing to foreign markets, your first step is to devise a localization strategy along with marketing tactics for delivering the translated and localized content to your target audiences.

Whether your content is translating a website or localizing an app, preparing documentation in a foreign language, or performing transcription services, subtitling, voice-overs, or translation/localization services, you need to find the best and most cost-effective sources of linguistic expertise.

Translation managed by your local marketing partner

Let’s start with the high-end of quality – but also price. If you have already engaged a marketing agency in your foreign market, they are likely to either offer translation and localization services or know of an agency or freelancers that can. But watch out: that’s like letting the cat guard the milk. The foreign marketing agency, not you, then controls the localization relations, and you are left needing to trust them, with reduced leverage on quality and cost concerns.

“Trust and verify” is a watchword used by politicians seeking to confirm nuclear deals but it’s also good advice for marketers dealing with foreign marketing partners. At the very least, be part of the decision-making and selection process for localization subcontractors. Review and discuss a shortlist of candidates – never accept a single vendor diktat.

In principle, you can opt to work with a local translation agency, or a freelancer, proposed by your marketing partner. But – it’s a big but – don’t rely on your marketing agency alone. In this case, you will want to seek out and recruit to your side an independent agency with expertise in the language of the target market in question. That agency’s sole job will be to provide quality assurance on translated or localized products, ensuring that your marketing partner, and its subs, are delivering the goods at the required quality level.  Where you find such an editing and proofreading partner?

Global translation agencies for marketers

Before we move on to the task of recruiting and managing freelancers to check the work of your primary marketing partner and its subcontractors, there’s another option for you to consider. Instead of relying on a local marketing agency to provide – internally or externally – the linguistic expertise, go instead to a global agency focused exclusively on translation, localization, and other linguistic interpretation services.

There are scores of such agencies a click away on the internet – including (full disclaimer) my own.  The key factor to look for in selecting one, naturally, is demonstrable expertise in the target market and its language. Ask for lists of references and examples of successful works.

Global information statistics

Facts about localization you should know

Speaking the language of your target market may be the most important factor in growing your audience and increase your new market penetration. The Return on Investment (ROI) can be huge.

Check into the agency’s best practices, and work methods: turnaround time, certifications, pricing policies. A key consideration is whether the translation agency relies primarily on machine translation or smart human translation. Although there has been in recent years a marked improvement in the quality of machine learning (ML), and specifically neural machine language or NML, there is still an advantage to relying on local human beings who still “get” the local language and culture better than any machine (so far!) can.

A translation agency checklist for marketing organizations

Consider the following criteria when selecting a global translation agency partner:

  • Response time to your quote requests: it should be measurable in minutes or a few hours, not days!
  • Make sure the agency works 24/7 and will guarantee delivery time. Make them put that commitment in writing.
  • Dedicated account manager who speaks your language and can work in your preferred time zone. Meet that person (ideally by videoconference) and feel comfortable with that choice, before inking the contract.
  • Ensure that the agency has expertise in the specific language pair (yours and the local market).
  • Ensure that the agency will guarantee their work for a reasonable period, at least a month up to a year. If you find an error, they should fix it without additional charge.

Managing freelance translators: pros and cons for marketers

How best to grow your markets by translation and localization

Finding and managing freelance translators and localization resources has never been easier. Most marketing managers are probably familiar by now with freelance marketplaces like Fiverr, Freelance.com, and Upwork. You may have used them to get a logo designed, an explainer video produced, a white paper or a landing page designed.

What you may not have considered is using these platforms for getting your content translated to various languages. There is a robust activity in the translation sections of these sites. Just sign up for one or more and post your request, either by briefly describing your project or even, in cases where your content is well-defined and limited in scope, posting your original document.

Then sit back and watch as the freelance bids from your work come rolling in. While these platforms differ from each other in various ways, each allows you to view the freelancer’s profile with its rates, ratings, and reviews. Wait two to three days to gather the bids, then make a shortlist of candidates. Here’s a brief checklist for vetting candidates.

  • Is the freelance a native/mother tongue speaker of the target language.
  • Look first at the freelancer’s success score and client reviews. Are there any red flags or complaints?
  • Consider editing and proofreading skills. Even if you opt for a translation agency, these freelancers can be your independent auditor of an external agency, so you are not at the mercy of a third party and you have a second pair of “local eyes” – no pun intended.
  • Look at the hourly rates but also get a per-job estimate.
  • Hold the freelancer’s feet to the fire. They’re only human, stuff happens, but don’t accept repeated delays.
  • Look for comparable works in their profile or ask for it in your job request.
  • Beware of unqualified fraudsters who use translation tools and try to pass it off as human translation. Sadly, it’s being done a lot! Make sure your contract with the freelancers specifies human translation, not with software.
  • Have an interview with three to five of the most qualified candidates. Follow your gut feeling as the deciding factor after considering the points above.

After following these guidelines for managing freelancers translating just one language, you may conclude that the time required to manage freelancers is not worth the time and trouble. You may decide that the risk of working directly with a single individual rather than an agency is not worth it. This is especially likely if you are entering multiple foreign markets. Better to work with a global translation agency that has the bandwidth and network and standards to handle a larger multinational project.

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Do it yourself with cloud translation software

We mentioned the fact that many “translators” are secretly relying on software tools like Google Translate… and getting away with it! That’s possible because the state of the art, driven by Artificial Intelligence, and neural networks are improving the quality of translation radically. This isn’t to say that it’s even close to perfect. But it’s usually good enough to provide an okay idea about the meaning of the original.

You, or someone on your marketing team, can productively use these tools to produce a decent first draft of a translation. Of course, that doesn’t mean you are done, but it’s certainly something that can be used as an intermediate step in the translation and localization processes. It can also help in negotiations with a translator.

Providing the machine-translated document can reduce the cost of a translation because it simplifies the human translator’s task. There is a usually a price differential between editing/proofing a document and translating from the original. Naturally, you should provide the original as well. But using a translation tool yourself gives you, and the translator, a valuable cross-reference and reality check.

Naturally, there’s a whole class of tools out there to assist in common translation and localization needs, like translating apps and websites, software documentation, and help messages. These “localizers” expedite making your digital products available in multiple languages and multiple countries. They don’t just do the translation, but also the conversion of currency and measurements. This is a special niche for digital product marketing, and we can address that in a future post.

For now, my takeaways and best practices can be summarized simply:

  1. Machine translation is no substitute for human expertise.
  2. The real cost of translation needs to include your management time.
  3. The marketing value of a strong translation outweighs the added expense of working with professionals.


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6 chatbot best practices for e-commerce sites https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/6-chatbot-best-practices-for-e-commerce-sites/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/6-chatbot-best-practices-for-e-commerce-sites/#respond Wed, 08 Jul 2020 17:05:59 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/6-chatbot-best-practices-for-e-commerce-sites/

Chatbot increases conversions, not just dialog, which is why you need to understand how best to use chatbots

Live chatbot is not just for customer support anymore; it’s a proven engagement and revenue booster. Kayako.com shares some compelling statistics that show just how powerful live chat can be when it comes to engagement and conversion.

Live chat statistics

Analytics and conversion expert Neil Patel also shares some conversion math related to chat. He asserts that, with chat available, 10-50% of your visitors will engage with you on your website. If implemented correctly, one-third of those visitors should go on to become buyers.

Even using his conservative estimates, that means a conversion rate of 3.3% through the use of chat. That’s nothing to scoff at. For large-volume sites, these conversion rates and revenues add up quickly.

Here are six tactics you can use now to drive up your live chat engagement.

1. Include a pre-chat survey to optimize your chatbot experience

A key aspect of any good user experience is efficiency — smoothing your website visitors’ interactions so they can accomplish their tasks more quickly. For online chats, this means first determining what kind of contact you’re dealing with — sales, support, or something else.

If it’s a sales contact, you want to know a bit more, like what type of sales contact it is. The sooner you learn this, the better you can tailor your sales pitch (or offer empathetic support).

To learn these things, your initial chat window should include one or two pre-chat questions that serve to qualify the contact and clarify their intent. For an e-commerce site that sells low or moderately-priced products, good questions to ask are:

  1. What do you need help with? [options: Sales question, Support question, Something else]
  2. What is your question concerning? [for a Sales question, the options could be: finding the right product, viewing product features, ordering, checking out, something else]

Note that the second question is based on your visitor’s response to the first question (‘sales’ in this case). To keep follow-up questions relevant, your chat app should accommodate such ‘conditional logic.’

For an e-commerce store that sells higher-priced products with a longer sales cycle (e.g. a £35,000 car), and whose purpose is to generate sales-qualified leads, you could ask:

  1. What can I help you do? [explore a specific vehicle, get an overview of {Brand X}, schedule a test drive, get customer service/help]
  2. A follow-up question dependent on the answer to the first question
  3. What’s your email? (with a clear ‘we respect your privacy’ disclaimer).

Think about these questions carefully so you don’t ask too many questions (you’re just seeking clarification, not conducting a grand inquiry). A good rule of thumb: don’t ask more than three questions before allowing a visitor to start their chat.

Chatbot example

2. Use a typing indicator

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m an impatient chatter. I like to think that I am the only person the agent is chatting with (when I know, as a UX designer, that often is not the case). I want personal and super-responsive replies to my questions. If I don’t get them, my attitude sours.

You should assume that everyone using your live chat feels the same way. This means, your communications need to be fast, even like they’re happening in real-time (like on a Slack channel). To do this, configure your chat app so that:

  • Your agents can see a customer’s words as they type.
  • The app issues an alert when the visitor hits the ‘Send’ button.

The first setting will address your visitor’s ‘Is anyone there?’ question proactively. No one wants to wonder if they’re being served; they want to know that someone’s on the other end of the line, and eager to help. Yes, pauses often happen in chats for various reasons. But your visitors don’t want your agents to be the cause of the pauses.

Since your agents will be handling multiple chats, and may not always be staring at the screen (they may be asking a colleague a question, for instance) they should be notified when one of their chatters sends a message. A subtle chime is sufficient. No big beeps or buzzes, as those will soon become annoying.


3. Accept chat requests automatically

Your visitors shouldn’t have to wait for someone to answer their chat request. Once someone initiates a chat session, the system should accept the chat automatically and inform them that a chat agent will get back to them right away.

Your response time should be less than ten seconds and ideally less than five seconds. A few seconds might not seem significant to you, but it may to a visitor who’s eagerly awaiting an answer. Perceived time matters more than actual time in this context.

So serve up an ‘auto-response message’ for all incoming chat sessions, and allow the customer to identify the problem area, either manually or using the pre-chat survey I mentioned earlier.

You’ll be gathering information as well as speeding up the interaction, both of which increase your chat session efficiency.

Chatbot information gathering

4. Use targeted proactive chat

Context matters big-time in user experience, and especially for a chat. So you need to show you’re aware of where your visitor is, and what they might want to see or do at any particular place and time. Do this by offering both static and proactive chat.

By ‘static’ chat, I mean placing a chat button and/or link in a consistent place, such as your site header or footer (or both), and near the ‘add to cart’ button on Product Detail pages.

But while these icons and links make chat available, they may not significantly increase its usage. So, when it comes to offering help, you need to get a bit pushy.

Some conditions when you should ‘push’ a chat invite to your visitors include:

  • First visit: 30-60 seconds into their first visit and when a visitor has completed at least one interaction. Even if the visitor dismisses the chat, it has left a ‘We’re here, and eager to help’ impression.
  • Subsequent visits: After 30 seconds of a subsequent visit and when your visitor shows some intent.
    • If the visitor has viewed one/more products, you could push chat and ask, ‘Need help finding the right product?’
    • If the visitor has carted a product, you could ask, ‘I see you added {product X] to your cart. How does 20% off sound?’
    • If the visitor is checking out, you could push a chat that asks, ‘Any questions I can answer before you make your purchase?’

If you’re unsure what conditions to set up, just ask yourself, ‘What would a helpful human do at this moment?’ Answering that will keep your questions on the right track.

One cautionary note: Don’t be annoying. For example, if you push chat on a product detail page and the visitor dismisses it, don’t push another chat invite during this session (but keep a chat button available, of course).

Sign up for Free membership

5. Send users a chat transcript

Ever been in a meeting where a lot was discussed, but no one sent out any post-meeting notes or follow-up items? You’re often left to wonder if you’ve just wasted your time. Don’t leave your live chat users with this feeling.

As I mentioned above, you should require an email for e-commerce sites that sell high-ticket items. For moderately-priced items, ask the visitor near the end of the session (but not too late, or they might close the chat window), ‘May I send you a link to {product} we discussed?’ More often than not, the visitors will answer ‘Sure,’ at which time you can take their email address and send them the applicable information.

Be sure to tag the email address as ‘sales only, no marketing’ so that you won’t send this person any more emails without permission. That would erode trust and defeat your sales goals.

Speaking of emails and follow-ups, it’s easy to lose track of them if they’re not passed along to your customer relationship management (CRM) application, which brings me to my last live chat best practice.

Salesforce live chat

6. Integrate chat with your CRM

Your chat agents should have access to all of your customer interaction records, whether it’s website interactions (including purchases), support tickets, or live chat sessions.

The implication: your chat interactions, if tied to a visitor ‘index’ like an email, mobile number, need to be fed into your customer relationship management (CRM) app. Only by doing this can your support reps quickly access this contact history, and the story it tells about a visitor’s journey with your brand.

Train your sales and support chat agents on the use of your CRM and provide them with accounts so they can view and update individual records as the need arises. This will enable your agents to deliver more personalized communications in the future.

(advanced) Integrate AI-based apps to ‘triage’ chats

Automation is a good, even essential thing if you want to make both your operations and user experiences more efficient (there’s that word again!). You just need to make sure that you’re reliably automating the right things. That’s where automated chat agents (chatbots) come into play.

Most of the leading chat apps do things like:

  • Infer your visitor’s intent based on the words they type.
  • Offer a ‘logic tree’ of questions and answers (the text version of what those phone Interactive Voice Response apps have done for years).
  • Route your visitor to the right answer or resource appropriately.
  • (If the conversation goes ‘off the rails’) Pass the visitor along to a human agent.

Most leading chatbot app and platforms have the machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) algorithms needed to make this automated triage happen. Do your research to make sure your chat app offers this support (or consider switching to a new one that does).

Chat best practices – a deeper dive

Want to dive deeper into these chat best practices? The Nielsen-Norman Group, an agency that helped invent the user experience field, goes into some great detail on the best practices for using chat. The company shares twenty other best practices for providing a more engaging, and higher converting, chat experience.

Better chat, better relationships

As with most things in business (and life), there’s a best way to do things. For chat, many guidelines have surfaced over the past couple of years. But, for me, these stand out above the rest. If you get these right you’ll meet visitor expectations more completely and quickly, while also achieving your business goals.

Yes, implementing these tactics will take some time and a modest investment. But my experience working with several e-commerce brands has shown that you’ll get a high return on this investment. Not only that, you’ll build deeper and more personal relationships with your customers in the process.

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How to rise above the noise and win millennials’ hearts https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-rise-above-the-noise-and-win-millennials-hearts/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-rise-above-the-noise-and-win-millennials-hearts/#respond Tue, 07 Jul 2020 11:34:36 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/how-to-rise-above-the-noise-and-win-millennials-hearts/

Millennials want the same thing as every other age group, it’s just the channels for delivering it that have changed

They have youth, influence, and spending power. They can also spot BS from a mile away, and it’s not easy to win their hearts.

EContent even predicts that Millennials – or Generation Y – will “become the world’s most powerful customers“.

Indeed, it seems that the demographic has reached an important point where its purchasing power is approaching its peak.

It’s also a huge generation, born anytime between the early 1980s and 2000. Of course, there are major differences in life experience and expectations between someone born in ‘83 and someone born in ‘99, but the important thing to know about the entire group is that they’ve grown up during an information boom.

This means they know exactly how to navigate online to get the info they want, and they’re adept at ignoring all the “noise” along the way. So, as brands try harder and harder to reach this enormous group of buyers, how can your marketing stand out and be seen by Millennial eyes, and not be perceived as “noise”?

There are three important characteristics to pay attention to across this massive generation:

1. Their online habits

Millennials are on mobile. According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of Millennials own a smartphone. What’s even crazier is that their findings point out that 28% of those smartphone owners use their devices exclusively to browse the internet.

If the trend continues, the desktop may not survive outside of the workplace environment (except, perhaps, where gaming is concerned). Yet the workplace is generally not the best place for free-time shopping.

Also, ZDNet did a survey, which concluded that millennials spend 5.7 hours a day on their phone. Interestingly, 13% of this group spend even more time in front of their screen, using their mobiles for a whopping 12 hours a day. So mobile is not only getting used – it’s getting used a LOT.

So, if you’ll allow me to generalize about the entire generation:

Mobile is everything

So what can you do?

Well if you’re targeting teenagers, the answer is clear. Spend a lot of time developing your mobile website. Pour your energy and creativity into building apps that make the shopping experience fun and focus on encouraging repeat purchases and building up a strong emotional bond, a.k.a. brand loyalty.

If you’re selling online, make sure you’ve got a super-smooth online checkout and payment system in place, because that’s what will put you ahead of your competition as more purchases are made on mobile.

Want to reach an audience between their mid-20s and 30s? An app may just be the perfect way to get their attention. Plus, if you make the in-app experience a particularly fun or valuable one, it will take care of getting you a good rate of returning customers – something all brands seek.

Offer a pleasant mobile experience

Missguided does app marketing well with its “Swipe” and “App Stories” programs. Run using technology from POQ, its app has a feature where customers can declare whether or not they like a product by swiping left or right. The items they like are automatically added to the user’s wishlist, which is another layer of convenience.

Similarly, App Stories provide personalized recommendations based on purchase history. However, members can also submit their images as they wear their favorite pieces from Missguided, and their images might end up on someone else’s recommendation list.

This is the kind of mobile engagement Millennials can’t get enough of!

Instagram Stories

The mobile app features of Missguided ensure that customers spend a large amount of time looking at the available fashion products.

2. Their feelings about advertising

Millennials have gained a reputation for not liking advertising too much. This is quite an understatement considering that more than 70% of them use ad blockers.

This was pointed out by AdLock, which also shared that 49% of 18-24-year-olds are the most active adopters of the technology. To add more salt to the advertisers’ wound, according to Forbes’ breakdown, most of these young adults don’t trust traditional advertising and are only willing to tolerate brief, five-second video ads.

Although there’s still more time until something is done about ad blocking, brands can combat this trend in its early stages. There are three ways you can showcase your products to the anti-ad contingent:

Tap into the power of referrals

There’s one thing I know for sure: people trust their family and friends more than they trust what a brand or an advertiser says. The proof? From invest’s infographic, we learned that 90% of people are more likely to buy from a brand when it’s recommended by a friend.

That’s cool, so make sure you’re putting a little bit more effort into your referrals strategy. For instance, a well-designed loyalty program can provide the incentive for people to engage with the program, as they are rewarded with points or instant perks for their positive word of mouth.

Try influencer marketing

It’s easy to find insight about influencer marketing and some agencies and sites are available to help you contact influencers with your business propositions and manage influencer campaigns.

Consider making influencer marketing a part of your long-term marketing strategy, because when done right, a few blog posts or Instagram photos from influential figures can go a long way in terms of brand recognition – and bring in loads of new customers and a great ROI.

Make sure you know your brand advocates and keep recognizing and thanking them

Ever heard of Jeep? I sure hope so, because Jeep has done an incredible job of building and encouraging brand advocacy among its customers of all ages. Its marketing includes Jeep’s Badge of Honor app, where customers can earn badges by documenting their trail rides, uploading photos, and interacting with the community.

If you’re curious about what the brand is doing to reach millennials specifically, its got some really good partnerships that the target outdoor-centric lifestyle and athletes, like its partnership with World Surf League – something that teens through thirty-somethings who surf or love the sport are sure to appreciate.

It has also featured athletes and celebrities in its social media campaign, like Brian Deegan.

Jeep badge of honor

Jeep’s Badge of Honor program is available on mobile, making it even more appealing for millennials.

3. Their love for communities and rewards

There are several types of communities that brands can cultivate. One is a loyalty program.

According to Alliance Data, 63% of Millennials believe they have many choices for where to shop, so a brand must show them loyalty to earn their business. To stand out, find a loyalty program provider like Antavo, which will let you reward brand engagement, referrals, and a variety of social media engagements.

Reward engagement

Another community to build is a community of sharing. Powerful brands that want to reach any target group know this is key. Take for example the massive camera brand that became both a household name and somewhat of a legend among active millennials: GoPro.

Photo of the day. Video of the day. GoPro Awards. These are a few of the things the brand has done to build a community using its products. Just take a look around their site to see how inclusive it all is.

Lines like “We’re celebrating content creators like you daily” and the clear display of each contributor’s name makes it feel like an accessible and open community – and the young, active audience they’re targeting is more than willing to contribute.

So what can you do?

Generate content through the community

Consider what interests your customers have and create a link between that and your products. Selling pens? Share user artwork. Selling gaming accessories? Get users to contribute awesome videos or screenshots of the gaming experience. Selling organic tea? Use a special Instagram hashtag for those special morning tea moments.

Be inclusive and inviting. Introduce a loyalty program that offers awesome rewards and ties into the social communities you’re working hard to build.

Finally, recognize and reward your customers for engaging with your content (e.g. videos and blog posts), for referring their peers, and for sharing user-generated content with your products on social.


A textbook example of using UGC as a part of marketing, showing love and respect to their extremely loyal customers, by GoPro.

The takeaway

Just like people of any age, millennials love great communities, good offers, and feel appreciated. The only thing that has changed is the medium. Millennials are browsing before they buy on mobile more than any other group out there, and they rely on ratings, reviews, and referrals to get the job done.

Reach this massive audience with a bit of creativity & quality visual content, and offer a customer community instead of a hard advertising sell.

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Do you have a Google Analytics measurement plan? https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/do-you-have-a-google-analytics-measurement-plan/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/do-you-have-a-google-analytics-measurement-plan/#respond Fri, 03 Jul 2020 16:47:00 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/do-you-have-a-google-analytics-measurement-plan/

7 missed customization actions in your Google Analytics set-up that you can fix now

Google Analytics can sometimes be very overwhelming, I know, I’ve been there. Getting access to an account about 12 years ago, I remember just looking at all the reports and thinking “wow, look at all that data”. Like many others, I have talked to since I then used to report on top-level metrics assuming the set up was valid and my data solid.

It is only been in the last 5+ years that I can say I have really got a firm grasp on analytics and working with clients and teaching Google Analytics to marketers, business owners, and agencies I see the same stumbling blocks and issues come up time and time again.

I believe it’s vital for every business to get a grasp on selecting the right digital marketing metrics and use the right customisations, yet often doesn’t happen in my experience. So, I found myself asking, why do these issues and blocks crop up? The answer I believe falls to two main points:

1- You don’t know what you don’t know.

It is so simple to create an account, add code to your site, and then you plug-in, and play. You never touch the Admin section, and assume all the default settings are just what you need to make your marketing decisions.

However, you don’t know what you don’t know, and unless you do a course, or read an analytics book, or have an agency or consultant who really gets this, you are left with an account that isn’t set up to correctly collect data and you are missing out on enhancing your account with some quick wins that provide valuable insight to your website and marketing programmes.

There is so much support from Google Analytics Help, but unless you know to search for say, the correct view settings, event tracking, or custom dimensions, you wouldn’t venture there.

2- There is no measurement plan.

When my clients, students, and mentees “get it”, they then hit another stumbling block, actually being able to implement the changes they know they need to take or get the business case sold internally to put some budget into their analytics set up. I would get responses like “my boss thinks it’s free, why do we need to pay to get that code added for another report or feature” or “I am asking IT / Web team and not getting anywhere”.

 The solution? Have a clearly defined measurement plan.

This document should summarise to your team and management the issues and recommendations across your analytics account with the key message that your company is spending money and resources on marketing activity, without a strategic measurement plan and clear actions and tasks for teams to complete, the ROI of marketing will be difficult and your data sets invalid and inaccurate.

I have updated the Google Analytics Setup Audit template for Smart Insights  premium members. It’s an unbranded word document so you can edit and adapt to the needs of your website. From the outset, the plan focuses on the business goals and then dives into the admin set up and then customised areas such as goals, segments, events, custom variables, multi funnels and attribution models.

7 missed actions in Google Analytics setups

Having written quite a few of analytic measurement plans over the years, and guiding clients and students through their own documents, here are the most common flags and issues that come up each time.

1. Set up  – Account/ Profile/ Views

Based on my experience teaching analytics, in a room of 20 people, 1-2% have got their set up in order. Starting with their property and views, you have Accounts this is a logical way that your Google Analytics account is structured. A Property is used to independently collect data; you can have more than one, depending on your online needs. The example below from Google shows a property for the website www.myshoestore.com, a second for the blog as it is on a different url blog.myshoestore.com and a third for their mobile app. If you just have one website, you will only need the one property.

my shoe store

It is the next bit where I find people slip up. Google recommends that you have three Views as a minimum. A view is a unique perspective of data from a parent property and the recommendations are to have an Unfiltered (all your raw data, no filters), a Master View or Reporting View (where you apply your filters and create marketing reports to get insights on your data) and then a Testing View (where you can test out configurations, like new filters, before you implement them into your reporting view).

Google analytics account configuration

You will only start to get data in property and views the day you create them, head to Admin, click on the drop down for either Property or View and click, and create new. Simples!

2. Filters

There are a few filters that you should defiantly apply to your account to ensure your data is valid. Remember to create and test all these filters in your testing view before you add to your master view.

  • Filter 1- exclude company/ staff data: as Google tracks every visitor, there are some you may not want to track, such as visits from staff, and perhaps your agencies.
  • Filter 2- exclude SPAM: sites are seeing a rise in SPAM or Ghost Traffic to their site, adding a filter to exclude sources you know are SPAM eg free-social-buttons, 100dollars-seo etc. can help bring your reporting numbers back in order.
  • Filter 3- only allow your site to collect GA data: you may be surprised to hear that SPAM sites or 3rd party sites could send data to your account. Adding a filter to tell Google to only include data from your website will stop this.

Tip: Brian Clifton’s Blog post on Removing Referral Spam will help with filters 2-3

Filter 4- Remove Personal Identifiable Information: in your terms and conditions to using Google Analytics it is stated that you will not send any personally identifiable information (PII) to your Google Analytics account. If PII is found in your account, there is no way to clean it out, you would have to delete it: imagine the horror!

3. Goals – micro and macro

Your website should be aligned with your business objectives; I still see accounts with zero goals set up. Even for a basic website, you can have goals for newsletter sign ups, or an event goal for people scrolling through blog content, watching a video, or downloading a PDF. Split your goals to Macro (the big ones) and Micro (the little conversions that happen before someone hits the big one). The template explains how micro and macro goals apply across the Smart Insights RACE framework.

Tip: Make sure you add values to your micro conversions, how much is an email address worth to the business, or a PDF download?

4. Events- track actions that drive your business

I really like this feature, you need a little bit of coding here, but the insights and benefits are wonderful. Events can give you a load of information about additional activities that happen on your website which is not tracked by the standard GA code. There is also a benefit to reduce your bounce rate, as a user may just visit one page (say your blog or a product page) but don’t go anywhere else on your website, that would count as a bounce. What if the user downloaded a PDF, added to a basket, played a video, shared on social media, printed the page? If you tracked them as Events, you not only tell Google that there was a meaningful interaction (just not on another page) and you get insights into what users are doing on your website.

5. Segments

In order to get insights, you need to segment your data to see the context. Google gives you default segments such as Direct Traffic, Search Traffic, Mobile Traffic but you can also create your own custom segments to answer your questions. For example, you could create a segment to ask how users from a country or city, that came from a particular campaign on a mobile device performed, did they spend more than people who came from desktop? The possibilities are endless, try the Google Analytics Solution Gallery check out anything from Avinash Kaushik, Justin Cutroni, or The Google Analytics Team and search for Segments to see what has been pre-built to import to your account, or check out the support page on Google.

6- Remarketing lists

I have had some great successes from Remarketing, and you can get really creative with it. Even if you don’t think you will be using Remarketing for a while, it is worth setting up and building your lists now, that way you have the data ready for any campaigns you may do in the future. It is really simple to do, you can get ideas and import from the Google Analytics Solution Gallery, or use the Segments you created. My tip here is to get creative. It doesn’t just have to be people who didn’t end up buying your product, it could be people who downloaded a pdf, or visited key product pages for a set amount of time, as well as people who arrived from campaign sources, or destinations, lots of options for any website owner to think about.

7- Multichannel and Attribution

It is likely that your buyers travel through different channels and each has an impact on your conversions. The Multi-Channel Funnel reports lets you see how your marketing channels work together, and with the Assisted Conversions report, you can see how may interactions each marketing channel initiated, assisted and completed. Tip: when reporting on the revenue of each channel, including assisted conversions. For example, if social media is a channel users interact with in the early stages but not as a final conversion step, your reports could show a low revenue, but seeing how social initiated conversions you can validate the importance of the channel.

When it comes to your Attribution models, Google Analytics defaults to a Last Click or Impression Model. There are a few options for you to choose from such as First Click, Linear, Position Based, Time Decay and Last non-Direct Click Model. It is worth exploring the different types of Attribution Models for your business. There is no perfect model, it will depend on your business, your strategy and your customers. To give you some ideas, here is a great case study from Google Analytics how a UK Travel Agency used attribution to gain increased sales and 25% growth in ROI.

I hope that this post has given you some ideas and spurred you on to have a look back at your account set up and view your admin settings, the Google Analytics Audit and Customization template for Expert Members, covers 10 areas and goes into more detail and suggestions for you to review and action. I would love to hear from Smart Insights premium members on how you find using the template for your business or clients.

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Strategy Simplified | Smart Insights https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/strategy-simplified-smart-insights/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/strategy-simplified-smart-insights/#respond Fri, 03 Jul 2020 13:28:16 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/strategy-simplified-smart-insights/

From annual to 90-day planning that rocks

Has this happened to you?

You spend a ton of effort creating your marketing plan, you feel great about it. You’re going to move forwards with clarity on those important initiatives.

Tasks are planned week by week and resources allocated…

The ink has barely dried before the first curved ball arrives. You’re back to the plan, juggling and adjusting, trying to hold it together.

That’s frustrating enough, but it’s not long before the next curve ball. Redraw plans again. Soon you wonder why you spent the time trying to plan in first place.

The sand shifts so fast planning seems pointless.

You are not alone. I’ve seen it happen too many times.

The net result is:

  • People outside the team are frustrated because those bold initiatives with planned dates rarely happen as planned
  • People inside the team are frustrated. Continual chop and change kills productivity and is frankly demoralizing
  • You end up with everything becoming the reason for everything else not happening

Nobody wins. It’s depressing.

The good news is there is a way to deliver strategy and get real improvements.

Your One Year Plan

It starts with clarity on your one-year plan.

The one-year plan is simply the list of 3 to 7 marketing goals for the year. These are the most important things that marketing can do to make the biggest impact to the business’s objectives.

The RACE framework is extremely helpful to systematically work through the opportunities to improve your multichannel marketing communications. Reviewing and uncovering the best options.

I suggest 3 to 7 marketing goals for the year, not more. You need to believe this – less is more. More focus on fewer priorities takes you further, faster. Counterintuitive perhaps, but true.

Steve Jobs famously said:

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas”.

You’ve got to say no to the other dozen things on the marketing wish list and pick just 3 to 7. If you’ve finished all of them after 9 months you can always add a few more at that point!

With the 3 to 7 goals identified make them SMART. Here is an example of the type of marketing objectives you should have:

  • Implement CRO with at least 15% conversion rate increase
  • Update campaign creation process to remove 25% of the time
  • Trial use of Google Shopping Feed and report ROI
  • Five new quality content hubs published
  • CRM integrated with data warehouse
  • Analytics dashboard updated
  • Evaluate AI technology and provide recommendations

That plus a few measurables is all you need for a one-year plan. With clarity on the one-year plan move to 90-day Rocks.

Rocks are the big things, the most important priorities over the next 90 days. Whilst he didn’t invent the term, Steven Covey uses the term Rocks in his bestselling books 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First. They are also used in the EOS Traction system.

90-Day Rocks

Set Rocks for the first quarter when you create the one-year plan. Then repeat rock setting at the start of each quarter.

To set rocks just answer this. What do you need to get done in the next 90 days to feel you’re on target to reach your one-year goals?

Each person in marketing should be accountable for 2 to 5 Rocks each quarter. Many rocks will, quite rightly, directly relate to the one-year goals. A few may fall outside of the those, allowing handling of the incidentals that arise during the year.

As with the one-year goals ensure you write the Rocks as SMART. The whole team must be agreed and clear on what done looks like. You might end up with a rock list like this:

  • Complete customer insight to determine the main obstacles stopping conversion – John
  • Select external support with Shopping Feed expertise and define trial – Sue
  • Create two content hubs – Sue
  • Welcome automation journey templates updated – Julia

Notice every Rock must have a single name against it, the person who is delivering it. That person may not be directly doing all the work but organizing, managing, pulling in resource, giving direction. They are the person who will take the glory for completing it – and the shame for not.

A good set of rocks means:

  • Every team member has clear focus of the most important activity for 90 days.
  • Everyone knows what everyone else is doing. Inside and outside of the team.
  • Accountability is clear.

You might be surprised at the planning simplicity. The reality is simple is best. Simple gets results.

No complex ever-changing Gantt charts or other centralized multi-level task planning tools.

To get their work done a Rock owner may decide to create a job board, Excel sheet, Gantt tasks or another way of managing the work. But that is incidental.

In the weekly marketing team meeting check all rocks are on track. Each team member confirming every week that they are on track or off track. When off track it’s a chance to work out how to get back on track.

Why 90-days

90-days is an excellent choice of time between reviews and setting rocks.

It’s long enough to achieve significant work, whilst not being so long that people start drift away from the one-year plan. Many businesses use quarterly plans for this reason. The Smart Insights 90-day planning template acts as a bridge between the annual plan and the tactical execution. It also encourages regular reviews of performance against target, corrective action and agility.

Remember the point about focus and Steve Jobs. Focus is about saying no. Resist all new initiatives and shiny things until the end of the quarter. Never add new Rocks during the quarter.

To be blunt, if someone comes up with a significant new priority during the quarter, a bad job was made of rock setting. A good team can predict 90-days. It may take practice.

Get Traction

The process works. It’s based on methods from a book called Traction. Traction covers more than strategic planning. It’s a complete set of tools and methods to run an entrepreneurial business. Ultimately with the whole business running on a quarterly cycle with rocks for leadership and every team in the business.

If you’re part of an entrepreneurial business I recommend Traction, as an approach I have applied in many businesses combining practical and tested tools that solve many of the common business issues. Get Chapter 1 of Traction from this free download.


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The state of digital skills in agencies https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/the-state-of-digital-skills-in-agencies/ https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/the-state-of-digital-skills-in-agencies/#respond Thu, 02 Jul 2020 17:07:36 +0000 https://thewebnerds.net/2020/07/the-state-of-digital-skills-in-agencies/

Discover the digital skills your agency needs and how to develop your team

Our guide to developing digital skills in your agency came about through conversations I have had with agency clients over the past few years. And from my time running large teams in agencies, recruiting or developing new digital talent.

I’m biased but the teams I recruited and developed (both as employed ‘Head Of’ and for agency clients in my consultancy role) have been excellent people, across all disciplines. But oh-my-goodness .. they took some recruiting on occasion!

I can’t think of a time where they were enough digitally skilled people in the market. And that dearth of skilled practitioners is only increasing, as we look to bring in those conversant in machine learning, AI, analytics and ever-evolving media channels and tech tools into agencies. And recruiting digitally-savvy client-facing or planning / strategic team members can also be a challenge.

I’m talking from a UK perspective here but we do have a digital gap. If you look at a range of news stories over the past few years, the words ‘digital skills’ and ‘shortage’ often sit together. Some of that is within the wider context of digital literacy in society of course and it isn’t just the UK, it is across many global markets.

How we nurture digital skills (from an early age and with true inclusiveness) was the subject of the recent Manchester Digital skills conference that I attended. It focused on the North West England digital sector but the themes are relevant and applicable to all; so here is a link to the report summary.

Many sobering stats were coming from the guide but in the context of agency services (and the clients they serve) it was alarming to hear that 27% of those surveyed had had to turn away work as a result of not being able to find the right talent.

Back to the guide, and with an optimists’ hat on, the digital skills gap is a threat but also an opportunity for your agency. A threat if you don’t address it of course – but an opportunity if you put together a skills development plan for the agency and get ahead of your competition.

That’s where the guide will hopefully support you.

It covers two areas:

Section one gets you to think about this subject and on assessing your agency in terms of its digital skills abilities. it addresses the digital skills gap in marketing agencies, the types of digital skills required, and finally how you can assess your agency’s overall ‘digital readiness’ and the skills needed to grow it.

Section two addresses building the right type of skills for your agency using a range of ‘tools’ that include: job descriptions, planned talent, team development plans, developing a culture of curiosity, sources of training and (back to an earlier point) your role in developing the talent of tomorrow.

I’ll look here at one specific area in the guide related to team development – engendering a ‘culture of curiosity’ in the agency. I’m focusing in on that because it’s a topic that comes up a fair bit when I’m in with agencies; ‘how do we keep the team up with what’s new in digital? And in any engaging way?’.

There is more detail on what a culture of curiosity can mean covered in another of our guides – keeping your team up to date with digital marketing. – you’ll see that there is much you can do to keep yourself and your colleagues up ‘on all things digital’.

The aim is to build learning (about all areas of digital) into the fabric of the agency. You will achieve that by having a systematic approach to gathering information about digital developments, regularly. Everyone in the business should be involved.

It’s fair to say that being curious is partly innate in all digital marketers (and in agency folk in general)) but you can encourage that further by consistently following a learning framework.

The framework is one I talk to clients about and it alliterates nicely. That’s deliberate – lots of agencies have learning sessions that alliterate (for example ‘Brown Bag’, ‘Learning Lunch’, ‘Wednesday Wisdom’) which are meant to be memorable and encoded into agency life.

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In this case, there are three parts to the framework:

1. Curate

This is where everyone gathers digital innovation (or best practice) news from a variety of sources. Exactly which sources (‘knowledge channels’) you curate will depend on the focus of your agency. The thirteen we discuss in detail in our Keeping Digital Teams Up-To-Date guide are Feedly, Zest, Podcasts, YouTube channels, Twitter Lists, Twitter searches, certified Training, Events and Seminars / Conferences, Specialist Partner workshops and presentations, having an innovation space in the agency, blogging within the agency, books, and awards sites for innovative digital work.

2. Debate

Having an inquisitive and challenging mindset is a great soft skill (these are also disused in the digital skills guide). By encouraging debate within the agency and not taking every digital update from vendors or start-ups at face value, you start to build confidence in the team. Those with more digital experience will know that not every new technique or technology you see will be right for you or your clients.

The idea of debating news stories and innovations in an open forum is that the team ‘test drive’ the potential value of new techniques or technologies. You can then move the most promising into your digital lab/innovation space if you have that. And look to allocate ‘the new’ into (say) 10% of your work for clients. Read more about the 70/20/10 rule in digital marketing in this article by Dave Chaffey.

3. Extrapolate

The information gathering and then the debate that follows builds agency insight that helps you help your clients. For example, some agencies have ideas walls where they keep a note of emerging digital tech that could help them with their proactive client account growth plans. Or they pull in some new ideas outside of the stated scope of work in a new business/request for proposal – adding value to the client right from the start.

The objective of this approach is not just to generate new business/client growth ideas but to widen the ‘digital mindset’ of the agency. It doesn’t mean that account handlers become coders – although that could be a learning strand.

Speaking of coding, and to end on a positive note, in January Teresa May announced an initiative for the North West of England called the ‘Institute of Coding’. The Institute of Coding sees universities, corporates, SMEs and industry groups working together with a £40M budget. There will be new undergraduate and postgraduate courses. And a mandate to encourage more women, ethnic minorities, and mature students/career switchers into the tech industry. Which can only benefit the agency sector.

How are you tackling the digital skills gap to keep your agency ahead of the curve? I am interested to know and hear what initiatives you have run.

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