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Social Media Marketing: Tools and takeaways to implement today

August 29th, 2014 No comments

Earlier this year, I was asked to moderate a case study panel at DFW Rocks Social Media Day. It was a fast and furious two days with multiple concurrent tracks and a lot of great information for attendees.

Since so much was happening at once, I wasn’t able to take in all the great content. So I reached out to Lissa Duty, Organizer of DFW Rocks Social Media 2014 and Vice President of Community Management at Advice Interactive Group, for her take on the event to give MarketingSherpa readers the opportunity to learn some of the top takeaways.

 

Insights from the organizerDFW-rocks

From the organizer’s perspective, Lissa said that this year’s event placed a higher importance on live content.

She explained, “This year, I really saw the value in having the live blog to share the conference sessions and highlight the speakers, even after the event, plus the live tweets, which did make for the #DFWRocks2014 hashtag streaming on Twitter at one point.”

What’s Lissa’s quick-hit advice on social media marketing?

“You must start with creating a social media plan,” Lissa said.

She then outlined three key points:

 

Key Point #1. Understand why you’re using social media

It’s not just to ”get rich.” Understand why you feel social media is important to you, your customer and your brand.

 

Key Point #2. Research what your customer wants to know about your brand

Discover how you can share that message uniquely in each social space, and then create a plan to give them that message.

 

Key Point #3. Implement your plan

This step is usually where the ball gets dropped. Businesses find it easy to create their social media plan once they get in the right mindset — thinking of creative ways to share important information about their brand online. Execution is always the problem. This is because the person who is great at creating the plan is not always the right person (or the person assigned) to implement the plan online. These two individuals must work together effectively to achieve social media success.

 

Insights from the speakers

I sat down with some of the event’s key speakers to share their top takeaways with you.

 

Amy D. Howell, CEO, Howell Marketing Strategies

When you give a keynote, it is always one of my objectives to offer practical advice and tips that people can use immediately. I think several key highlights of my talk were the following:

  • Your digital and traditional brand merge now in the age of social, and you cannot hide who you really are.
  • If you don’t tell your own story, someone else will, so build your social profiles and be present online now — before you need help.
  • PR is now 24/7 and viral, so you must monitor your brand all the time, watch what is being said, and prepare your responses accordingly.

 

Bernadette Coleman, CEO, Advice Interactive Group

  1. Information is faster today, so our audiences’ expectations have changed.
  1. Real-time communication is expected in everything we do.
  1. For real-time engagement success, you need to act in the moment, but plan in advance.
  1. If you are creating content and don’t have an audience or an engagement plan yet, please stop creating content.
  1. Learn human engagement: Capture your audience’s attention, speak directly to your audience’s heart, talk about things your audience loves and is interested in, share ideas, listen to concerns, and consider feedback.

 

What was the single most interesting thing Bernadette learned at the event?

“Over the two days at DFW Rocks Social Media, I learned that if you can add value, give freely and serve others, then you can power your brand and reach your goals faster with social media,” Bernadette said.

 

John J. Nosal, Founder, NosalCentral

First, we have to keep it simple. There is no need to try and eat the whole elephant in one bite. We need to break the data, which even small businesses have available to them, down to small digestible portions.

We don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on tools that give us way too much information to effectively understand the big data concepts of who is coming to our website or one of the social media platforms. In other words, don’t try to master Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics all at once. Spend a little time on each platform, and get the basics down.

Next, we need to identify the trends, or what we can think of as the who, what, when, where and why of your Internet presence. Large businesses, like an airline, know what destinations we have looked at and tailor our future visits to their website with information around those results.

We, as small businesses, can go for the low-hanging fruit. We do this by identifying who is visiting our website, what they are searching for, when they have visited, where they went, and why they were there. We can identify all of this by using the analytical tools on each of the platforms we use. Oh, and did I mention that these tools are free?

With Google Analytics, we can identify the traffic quantity and quality that is coming to our website. Below are two custom dashboards that help you to simplify the view of the data that is available.

Editor’s Note: You must be logged in to your Google Analytics account to see and use these tools for your site:

Google Webmaster Tools allows you to see what your search traffic is, how many search results have you appeared in, what your average rank is in those results, and how often you were clicked on.

Twitter Analytics gives us an overview of the content we have posted and the number of retweets and favorited posts you have, ultimately allowing us to see what the hot subjects are.

Facebook Insights can show you not only your reach value, but also when the most eyes are on your page and seeing your content.

 

John said the final step is to create great content based on the results of your analytics.

“We want to add blog content, landing pages and more Q-and-As to our FAQs so we can continue to feed the trend of visitors that we have,” he said. “Make the title of the page in the form of a question, then answer that question in a minimum of 300 words. Building great content is the key to creating customers that trust and respect your expertise. “

He also offered the most important lesson he learned at DFW Rocks:

My big takeaway from the event was that content still matters. We need to do more than just be ‘sell, sell, sell’ with our content. We need to tell our story, put a little of the personal side in our content, and talk about our passion, why we are doing what we do.

We also need to ask ourselves if we would read our own content. We need to engage with the content to tell a good story, instead of being a cure for insomnia.

 

Image credit: Scott Peek Photography 

 

You might also like

See more useful links and content from John Nosal

Social Media Marketing: How a small e-commerce site attracted 293,000 Facebook fans [Case study]

Blog Analytics: How do you measure the company blog’s performance? [More from the blogs]

Social Media Marketing: Social metrics from “likes” to ROI [More from the blogs]

Social Media: 4 simple steps to calculate social media ROI [More from the blogs]

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Social Media Marketing: Setting expectations both internally and externally [Video]

August 26th, 2014 No comments

“#FAIL” is the last thing you want to hear from your audience on your social media channels.

From disgruntled users or customers to people calling out your company or brand’s blunder, handling the outcome of a social media fail correctly is critical for recovery.

But beyond just addressing a crisis online, is there an effective way to prevent these cringe-worthy mishaps from even happening?

epicurious-boston-tweet

 

In the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE, Andrew Jones, Industry Analyst, Altimeter Group, explained how using a simple two-part strategy can help prevent social media fails before they occur.

 

Strategy #1. Manage expectations internally

Before you embark on social media, Andrew explained there should be a plan going into the journey to set guidelines for those who will be posting.

“At first, I think a lot of brands got involved and saw it as kind of a cute toy, and said, ‘Oh, let’s give it to the intern,” or, ‘Let’s give it to someone who doesn’t necessarily know a lot about the company,”‘ Andrew explained. “That can cause problems if the engagement that ends up representing the company in a very public space ends up causing social media fails or misrepresenting the company.”

Andrew recommended that the team managing a company’s social media account has rules and scenarios on how to interact with the audience online, especially when there’s a problem.

Read more…

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3 Tips to Improve Your Marketing from Doctor Who

August 22nd, 2014 7 comments

(Editor’s note: Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content, MarketingSherpa, also contributed her knowledge – and love of “Doctor Who” – to this blog post.)

There are a lot of nerds in our office, and if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, this is probably not news to you. Recently, we’ve realized something nerds everywhere have known for a long time – we are not alone.

In our case studies, blogs and events, we’ve seen how other marketers utilize pop culture to help convey complex ideas – for instance, emergency alert systems provider One Call Now used “Star Trek” characters to represent its customer personas.

Since we have seen the success others have had, we wanted to try this idea out for ourselves using an office favorite: BBC’s science fiction cult classic “Doctor Who,” which is having its latest series premiere on August 23.

doctor-who

For those who are unfamiliar, the titular Doctor is a Time Lord (a time-traveling alien species very similar to humans) who faces various foes in attempts to save civilizations and right wrongs using intellect over force while exploring all of time and space.

Intellect over force is a driving principle behind our work here – marketing through testing and optimization over gut feelings and intuition.

Read on for three tips we’ve taken to heart from “Doctor Who” about how to make the customer your companion in your marketing efforts.

 

Tip #1. Test every (seemingly) insignificant thing

Doctor: Stone dust.

Kate: Is it important?

Doctor: In 1,200 years, I’ve never stepped in anything that wasn’t. … Now, I want this stone dust analyzed. And I want a report in triplicate, with lots of graphs and diagrams and complicated sums on my desk, tomorrow morning, ASAP, pronto …

Doctor Who,” The Day of the Doctor, 2013

Every single thing, down to the dust he has stepped on, is something the Doctor considers important. He’s been testing, scanning and analyzing all of his surroundings for 1,200 years.

You may think that you know the answer to every question anyone could ask about your customers. But when you begin testing, you could discover that you’ve totally overlooked a simple concept that was right under your nose (or boots).

For example, at MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013 in San Francisco, Jon Ciampi, Vice President Marketing, Corporate Development, Business Development and Strategic Accounts, CRC Health, presented a case study where his team tested what they considered to be best practices.

They took their control page of concise copy with an above the fold call-to-action, and created a treatment full of copy with a below the fold call-to-action.

What Jon and his team discovered was an “aha moment,” realizing that not only had the treatment outperformed the control by 220%, but they hadn’t understood their customers’ motivations at all.

While they had been promoting luxury and statistics, it took one test to realize that customers weren’t asking, “What is your doctor-to-patient ratio?” but rather, “Can I trust you with my loved one?”

“We test in the eternal hope that we can possibly understand the motivations of our customers and adjust our practices accordingly,” Jon summed up in his presentation.

Read more…

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Content Marketing: How a farm justifies premium pricing

August 19th, 2014 1 comment

“We often feel like we have a sales force of thousands of loyal customers looking out for our best interest.”

We’ll get to how content marketing enabled the example in that quote in just a minute, but first, let’s start with the incredible, edible egg market.

The egg market is a perfect example of how value, and marketing’s role in the communication of that value, can be added to what was previously a commodity in order to produce higher margins.

Take a look at the market for eggs. There’s white. Brown. Hormone free. Antibiotic fee. Vegetarian fed. Grass fed. USDA organic. Free range. The list goes on.

Of course, there is a range of prices for these different attributes, ranging from $2.78 per dozen to $5.49 per dozen in a recent Consumer Reports article, for example.

This creates a dilemma for the consumer and a challenge (and opportunity) for the marketer.

 

The Marketer’s Challenge and Opportunity: Communicating value when markets are filled with choice

This is, after all, the heart of marketing: enabling choice and communicating the value of those choices.

So let’s look back at the egg market. Remember, not too long ago, eggs were just a commodity. Then, all of these product claims came along. One could argue that all of those claims create more value for customers, and thus, justify the higher price. That may in fact be true, but they would miss the point.

The real ability to charge a premium price for having any of those words on an egg carton is the customer’s perception of that value. After all, how many customers really understand what goes into raising an organic egg?

 

It was beauty (the content) that killed the beast (the commodity)

Commodity products are very dangerous for companies. It means their only lever of survival is to focus on operational excellence and cost-cutting to constantly stay one step ahead of expenses and the competition.

This is where content can be so powerful. Companies that really are producing something of greater value (e.g., the organic egg) can use content to show the story of how their products are made so the customer can see for themselves what the value is (e.g., justifying the higher cost for an organic egg).

Effective content marketing isn’t only happening online. Let’s take a look at an example of how one egg company is using content marketing to show this distinguishing value.

 

In-package newsletter

If you buy Country Hen eggs off your grocer’s shelf, when you open the carton, you will see “The Country Hen Farm News.”

country-hen-newsletter

 

Content marketing = show your work

At first glance, it’s easy to miss how profound this in-package newsletter is. After all, the company basically bought a truck. So what?

Surely, customers must assume that their eggs make it from point A to point B to eventually their grocery store shelves in a truck of some sort. How does that add value?

“We like to see people working on our behalf,” Michael Norton, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School, explained at Web Optimization Summit 2014. (You can read a 15-second synopsis of his research in Takeaway #2 of Web Optimization Summit 2014 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways to improve your testing and optimization).

 

The difference between showing and telling

It’s not simply the fact that The Country Hen bought a truck that adds value, but rather, how it uses the newsletter to show product value. The magic is in the writing. This newsletter shows the value in three subtle, but brilliant, ways:

  1. Shows the work – As mentioned above, it shows how these farmers are working hard to get your eggs to you.
  1. Shows the passion – This isn’t some mega-corporation with commodity eggs. These people really care. For example, “Our girls will not have their vital nutrients in the care of a less than reliable vehicle.”
  1. Establishes its place in the market – Again, this isn’t a mega-corporation. They’re the underdog, the little guy. By spending more to buy Country Hen eggs, you are supporting the small farmer. After all, it’s quite charming how proud they are of a used truck: “The truck has only 188,000 miles and is capable of transporting 24,000 pounds of our certified organic cuisine.”

This company could have ran a TV ad campaign with stock farm footage of dewy mornings and hay bales being loaded into trucks and a ruddy-voiced announcer reading lines like, “We’re working a little harder for you.”

That would be telling. It would be hype. I would argue, it wouldn’t have been as effective because it wouldn’t be real. It wouldn’t win over today’s skeptical customer.

Pamela Jesseau, Senior Director of Marketing, MECLABS, is the person who gave me this newsletter and suggested this blog post. She described it like this: “I spend twice as much money on these eggs because they tell me about their truck. I’m never going to buy another egg ever again as long as The Country Hen is on the shelf. I want to find out what is next. I feel like they are my hens, too.”

After reading the newsletter, I wanted to share some insights from The Country Hen with you to help improve your own content marketing. So I reached out to Kathy Moran, the signatory of the newsletter, to get some background and tips for you.

As with any marketing department we write about, they aren’t perfect by any means. They still have work to do on their digital side. But I thought it would be helpful to hear how they create content with a small team and limited budget. Her responses were so good and real, I didn’t even pick up my editing pen.

Read more…

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Content Marketing: Encouraging sales and upsells at the point of purchase

August 5th, 2014 1 comment

Many marketers think of content marketing as a top-of-the-funnel activity. This could include a video to build brand awareness, or an e-book to grow the email list.

But what about using content to encourage sales and upsells at the point of purchase?

On a recent trip to Maine, I came across a great example of point-of-purchase content marketing, although I’m not sure the content’s author would have labeled it as such.

 

How to eat a lobster

how-to-eat-lobster

 

This is a great example of where point-of-purchase content marketing can help: when you have a product that novice customers might not know how to use.

For a tourist who has never eaten a lobster, a placemat like this could be the tipping point between:

  • Buying the less expensive (and easier to eat) lobster roll or lobster meat salad or something more familiar like a steak

or

  • Buying the premium-priced product with the higher margin – lobster

No one wants to order a lobster (or any product) and look like a fool because they don’t know how to eat it. They are less likely to order because they don’t see the value in it.

That’s why this placemat is true content marketing, by my definition. This isn’t an overt sales piece; it was executed in a way that teaches someone how to do something.

Even for myself, as I have eaten a lobster before and was going to order one anyway, it helped me enjoy it more as a refresher for exactly how to eat the lobster since it had been a few years since I’ve eaten one.

 

Opportunities for point-of-purchase content marketing

The great opportunity for point-of-purchase content marketing is this:

When a customer needs to be taught about the product to make a
decision that is better for them.

This likely falls into two major buckets: product education and product differentiation.

Read more…

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Social Media: Mass personalization starts with Catsies

As a young 20-something, I understand your pain when it comes to social media.

You see hashtags and acronyms online and wonder where the world is headed. Then, just when Justin Bieber makes you want to crawl under a rock, you see #Catsies.

catsies-virgin-mobile

 

Catsies are a real thing.

It means cat selfies, and it was created by Virgin Mobile USA to generate buzz for the Samsung Galaxy S5, and the idea is (arguably) genius. Recently, the company also launched a contest for the best Catsie to be crowned the Virgin Mobile #Catsie Spokescat, among other branded prizes.

Virgin Mobile’s target audience is a younger crowd and let’s face it: My peers and I are a little obsessed with cats.

Well played, Virgin Mobile.

I wanted to mention there’s also more to the campaign strategy than cute closeups of your calico.

By thinking outside the (litter) box and leveraging the interest of a specific audience, Virgin Mobile is taking a new approach to mass personalization.

The idea of mass personalization sounds somewhat paradoxical, but it’s where the roads of tech, design and culture appear to be taking us (and our cats).

Here’s what it looks like when broken down:

  • Target audience: People who like, or may have an interest in, cats
  • Purpose: Drive sales for Samsung Galaxy S5, and increase visits to the Virgin Mobile site
  • Method: New Catsies page, Catsie contest, Twitter hashtag, behind-the-scenes video

 

Creating a mass personalized campaign is like planning a kid’s birthday party

Mass personalized campaigns sound more difficult than they really are.

I’m not saying mass personalization campaigns are safe from a quick spiral into a highly complex strategy to execute, especially if you’re thinking of a multichannel approach.

When you strip mass personalization campaigns down to the core elements, you have almost the same list of bases to cover that you would in planning a child’s birthday party.

birthday-party-planning

 

Take a look at the table I put together and feel free to add any recommendations in comments section below.

Also, don’t forget the cake.

Read more…

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Ecommerce: 2 tips to help small businesses navigate multichannel marketing

June 27th, 2014 2 comments

This year at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, Nicole Snow, Founder, Darn Good Yarn, sat down with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, in the MarketingSherpa Media Center to discuss the challenges of navigating a multichannel digital landscape while retaining a small business identity.

Darn Good Yarn’s value proposition is based on stimulating growth in poverty-stricken areas of Nepal and India by recycling silk yarn into products Nicole imports and sells in the United States.

Nicole does not have a background of making yarn. In fact, when she began, knitting was only a hobby.

“[Starting my business was] a lot of learning and I tried to do things on the cheap; I was self-funded,” she said. “It was a real benefit because I respected every single marketing dollar. Every single test I did had to be really the right choice for me as a business.”

 

These careful business decisions penetrate the whole of Nicole’s business, from hiring employees to protecting her suppliers.

“People around the world work for me,” Nicole said. “I’m pretty proud of that business model because it really is indicative of a newer economy.”

Nicole has been very protective over the growth of her company, both in the U.S. and abroad.

She insisted part of becoming a successful small business includes “controlling growth and not allowing it to just blow up.”

“Then, you start getting abuses of supply chains and of humans that way and that’s important to us, to make sure that doesn’t happen,” she explained.

Here were two important takeaways Nicole offered to help small businesses navigate a multichannel digital world:

  • Purposefully enter channels – Find a few channels that work best for your small business because you can’t be everywhere.
  • Find advocates – Look for supporters who want you to succeed and build relationships with them.

 

Remember your roots

Let your passion bleed through every decision that you make for your business.

As companies grow, adaptations to an organization’s process and strategy are inevitable. We surveyed 4,436 marketers on how management styles and approaches should shift as ecommerce companies grow. You can see that data on page 15 of the MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study.

Want to see more interviews with IRCE speakers, industry experts and in-the-trenches marketers from the MarketingSherpa Media Center? All 32 exclusive interviews from IRCE are available for viewing.

 

Read more…

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Social Media: How employees can help you deliver value on Twitter

Branded social media accounts are for the bold.

While they allow you to interact with a global audience in real time, the damage caused by the wrong post gone viral can be permanent. But then again, he who risks nothing gains nothing. I mention this in context of the potential public relations risks associated with allowing employees to take over a branded social media account.

The idea of an employee-driven Twitter account might make your PR team cringe, but would you be willing to take the leap if it meant a 46% increase in followers? In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, I wanted to share a recent interview I had with Deloitte’s Senior Manager of Employer Brand, Lisa Monarski.

We touched on some of the things she has learned from managing a branded employee Twitter account.

 

A unique opportunity to deliver value

In 2010, Deloitte identified an opportunity to increase the force of its value proposition through Twitter, an emerging medium for B2B marketers at the time.

While the company’s Twitter strategy in the U.S. had previously centered on a B2B audience, the team realized they could launch a separate Twitter handle to answer a common question their talent recruiters often hear:

“What’s it really like to work at Deloitte?”

Translate this into: “If I am your ideal prospect, why should I choose you rather than any of your competitors?”

Sound familiar?

The key thing to remember here is that in order to answer the question, you have to get inside the mind of the customer and see your offer through their eyes.

If your prospects are recruits, there is no better way to do this than to let your employees answer the question for you because, as one-time recruits themselves, your employees identify with your recruiting prospects.

And so, the @LifeAtDeloitte handle was born.

Life at Deloitte

 

By using this handle, Deloitte was able to convert the attention of recruits into legitimate interest. The account was an opportunity to increase appeal, credibility and clarity of the company’s value proposition.

Let’s also keep in mind that the exclusivity factor was already there: “Only those who sign with us get to experience this.

 

MarketingSherpa: What prompted you to start an employee-run Twitter account?

Lisa Monarski: In the U.S., Deloitte’s Twitter strategy had centered on the B2B audience with specific business- and industry-related handles. In 2010, we realized this could be a great channel to help answer the question that our recruiters hear many times from candidates: “What’s it really like to work at Deloitte?

 

MS: Who is your target audience?

LM: Our target audience is anyone who wants to know what it’s like to work at Deloitte. We think that anyone from a college freshman up through a seasoned professional looking for new challenges can gain insights into our culture and people by following @LifeAtDeloitte.

 

MS: Who (or what) was your inspiration to start an employee-run Twitter account?

LM: Our people were the inspiration for this strategy. Whenever you ask someone questions like, “What brought you to Deloitte?” or “Why have you stayed here for so long?” etc., the answer is consistently the same: It’s the people.

We have a very engaging and collegial environment here. Creating a channel where we could feature our people and give them the microphone, so to speak, seemed like an authentic approach to highlighting those who work here.

 

MS: How do you select the employee who gets the handle?

LM: We help our followers – more than 15,300 now – experience a good cross-section of Deloitte. Guest tweeters range from new hires and first year auditors or consultants up through some of the more senior leaders of the organization. We make sure to represent our various functions – audit, consulting, tax, enterprise risk and financial advisory.

We also use the account to promote the programs that demonstrate our values such as Warrior Games, Olympics, IMPACT Day, Alternative Spring Break, or our presence at national and global events such as Davos or SXSW.

 

MS: Do you brief them before they receive access to the account?

LM: Deloitte has social media guidelines and training programs in place as well as policies to protect our clients’ confidentiality. Our guidelines help our people develop strong networks and their personal brand both inside and outside of work.

Every professional who takes a turn as guest tweeter is given a written guide of leading practices. They also participate in what we call a “primer” to discuss the tactical side of managing the handle. It’s truly the professional’s authentic voice that you see in the tweets.

  Read more…

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Web Optimization: Can you repeat your test results?

May 21st, 2014 No comments

This week, I’m deep in the heart of the Big Apple (also known as enemy territory if you share my love for the Red Sox) for Web Optimization Summit 2014.

Day 1 has delivered some fantastic presentations and luckily, I was able to catch Michael Zane, Senior Director Online Marketing, Publishers Clearing House, in his session that covered “How to Personalize the Online Experience to Increase Engagement.” 

Publishers-Clearing-HouseMichael’s take on personalization starts with a key distinction between visitors to PCH he mentioned early on.

“You have to define your personas,” he said. “It only made sense for us to take a simplistic approach at first and then dig deeper.”

According to Michael, the challenge rests in driving engagement in unengaged visitors. To help the company’s engagement efforts, Michael and his team turned to testing and optimization.

identify-customer-personas

 

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, we’ll take a look at some of his team’s testing efforts including one key aspect that often goes unspoken.

Before we get started, let’s look at the research notes for some background information on the test.

 

Objective: To convert unengaged visitors into engaged customers.

Primary Research Question: Will a simple, but attention-grabbing, header convince unengaged visitors to play a game?

Test Design: A/B split test

 

Experiment #1. Side by side

game-engagement-test

 

Michael and his team decided to test a header they hypothesized would encourage visitors to play a game.

“The text in the treatment was innocent at the top of the page and it wasn’t really competing with the other content,” Michael said. 

unengaged-message-variations

 

The team also used a variety of messages in the experiment to help them dial into their core value proposition.

 

Results

real-time-messaging-results

 

The treatment outperformed the control by a relative difference of 36%. There are plenty of marketers that would be thrilled by these results.

However, Michael made an interesting point here that should be mentioned a lot more than it usually is.

“The initial test showed strong results, but they are only valuable if it can be repeated,” Michael said.

 

Experiment #2. Testing for the two-peat

pop-up-test

 

Michael’s team set up a second test to continue to build on their engagement success. For this experiment, the team devised a lightbox pop-up that interrupted users after two seconds on the site.

 

Results

pop-up-test-results

 

After only four days, Michael and his team concluded that the new lightbox approach was decreasing conversion.

“Having this failure helped us validate the metrics,” Michael said. “We didn’t want to rely just on third-party metrics. Not every test is a winner.”

Read more…

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Social Media Marketing: Adding Reddit to the mix

April 8th, 2014 No comments

Social media is almost certainly a part of your marketing mix by this point. Facebook and Twitter are the two overall leaders, and B2B marketers are probably at least looking into how to leverage LinkedIn. Then, there are a host of additional social media platforms such as StumbleUpon, SlideShare, Pinterest, Vine, Quora and many others.

One platform that probably isn’t on most marketers’ radars is Reddit. Marketing tactics on Reddit are not readily obvious, and the platform’s users are not there to be marketed to and don’t welcome any interaction that feels like marketing.

Should you consider Reddit in your social media strategy? If so, how should you approach the platform?

To answer these questions, we reached out to two experts in marketing on Reddit: Brent Csutoras, Social Media Strategist, Kairay Media; and Greg Finn, Internet Marketer, Cypress North.

Here is the result of that discussion.

 

MarketingSherpa: It sounds like a key challenge to marketing on Reddit is the platform’s policies toward that activity. Briefly cover what marketers should know and understand about these policies.

Brent Csutoras: It is very important to first understand that Reddit is not a single community, but rather a platform to either join existing communities or to create your own communities. Each community is made by a Redditor who then can add moderators and who makes the rules for which everyone in the community must follow. It is super important before trying to submit any content to Reddit to understand the moderators and the rules for each Subreddit you intend to submit your content to.

For instance, some Subreddits will not allow certain domains to be submitted to their community, some like “TodayILearned” require content to be at least two months old, and some like “/worldnews” do not allow news about the U.S.

As to the challenge of marketing to an audience who is by nature against the concept of marketing, it definitely takes someone with a long-term goal and general interest in Reddit to balance the line between being a valuable member of the community, while at the same time, trying to submit your own content.

Greg Finn: The biggest question to ask when participating in Reddit is: Are you contributing? That’s essentially what you should be asking yourself before beginning any type of “marketing.” One of the lines in Reddit’s User Agreement is:

“Cluttering Reddit with junk or spam reduces the quality of the Reddit experience.”

Make sure that you are going into the site with the mindset of increasing the quality of content shared. Also, while not blatantly obvious in the user agreement, you should not be too promotional with your content. Reddit moderators will swiftly ban users that only submitting their own content or commenting with their own links. Treat it like a forum and build credibility in a specific Subreddit, add to the community, then start marketing.

 

MS: Beyond the key challenge addressed above, what are some of the unique marketing challenges (and potential advantages) faced when marketing on Reddit over other social media platforms and other digital marketing channels such as email and paid search?

BC: I mentioned earlier, how individuals really need to make sure they understand the rules of each Subreddit they are submitting to in order to have any real chance at long term success.

Another challenge that people might now understand is that Reddit has a lot of anti-spam elements at play on the site. New users to a Subreddit, and in some cases, new domains, can find themselves being auto-filtered or even silent-filtered, where their submissions might show as submitted to them, but are actually hidden from all other users until it becomes approved by a moderator.

Lastly, it is really important to understand Reddits’ voting algorithm, which, to put it simply, values the combination of the first 10 votes the same as the following combination of the next 100 votes, and then 1000 votes, and so on. This means that what happens during the first 10 votes of your submission are super important. Choosing the right Subreddit, knowing what type of content the moderators support, and selecting the best title when submitting are key to making sure your first couple votes are positive.

GF: The biggest challenge is undoubtedly the volatility of the community. There are dozens of unwritten rules that exist and can kill your promotion on arrival if you don’t follow along. If using images, submit with Imgur. Videos? Use YouTube. Follow along with the community, learn the inner workings before giving it a try.

One of the biggest challenges is the sheer competitiveness of Reddit these days. You need quality content, a killer title and a dash of luck to strike it big.

 

MS: What are some actionable tactics or tips for marketers looking to add Reddit to their digital marketing mix?

BC: Start by identifying the Subreddits you really want to participate and submit to, followed by learning what works in the Subreddit, both from the community’s acceptance and support, and from what the moderators are going to approve and support. Make sure to fully understand the rules of the Subreddit prior to submitting any content.

Never submit something that doesn’t fit into a Subreddit. It will almost always get removed, which can result in you having filters applied to your submissions and possible having your account silent banned.

You simply do not win on Reddit with brute force.

Lastly, you have to be a Reddit user first and foremost, to really understand how to be an effective marketer within Reddit.

GF: Far and away, the most valuable tactic is to go niche. Every marketer is looking for the homerun, but you can easily hit .400 while driving the right mix of targeted traffic to your site. Reddit has individual sections called Subreddits that are niche communities around a specific topic. These Subreddits have the most potential as you can get your content in front of a (smaller) group of highly targeted users.

Local business? Look for a local Subreddit near you and scope the scene.

Got a book about parenting? Head to r/parenting.

Manufacture crockpots? Try /r/slowcooking.

There is a Subreddit for everything. Seriously, take a look. Jump into a community that fits your niche and start participating. The numbers won’t be overwhelming, but the quality will.

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