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Infographic: Customer experience in the digital age

April 30th, 2013

For today’s MarketingSherpa blog post, we have an infographic from Kentico, “Customer Experience in the Digital Age.”

The research behind the infographic was an eight-question survey of 200 Internet users via SurveyMonkey in February 2013, and the survey was open to both consumer and B2B brand interactions.

 

Here are few data points on the surveyed Internet users:

The gender breakdown was 54% male and 46% female, and the age breakdown included …

  • 18-24 – 10%
  • 25-34 – 20%
  • 35-44 – 24%
  • 45-54 – 19%
  • 55-64 – 15%
  • 65-74 – 10%
  • Over 74 – 2%

To help put this infographic – and the research that went into the content – into context, I had the chance to interview Thom Robbins, Chief Evangelist, Kentico Software.

 

 

MarketingSherpa: What were some of the key findings?

Thom Robbins: Company websites were second (25%) behind word of mouth (28%) in weighing most heavily on impacting brand affinity. In-store experiences factored [at] 18%.

Perhaps most surprising was the discovery that only 7% of respondents felt their brand experience was affected by social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, but I think this may be misleading. People may be influenced by social media a lot more than they think they are, through both direct and indirect interactions.

 

MS: Did any results come as a surprise?

TR: Other than the small role social media seemed to have, which I think merely shows us it’s a channel still on the rise, I was most surprised to see that 69% of those surveyed said they were willing to give up personal data in exchange for more customized service.

 

MS: Were there any results that might inform future research, or uncovered data points that deserve/require a deeper dive into customer insights?

TR: Well, I thought it was very telling that 97% were ready to forgive poor service as long as the company offers up a quick response or correction.

It’s important for businesses to know that while mistakes will be made, in the age of social media, every single customer experience counts. You can’t afford [to have] anyone to walk away unhappy, and there’s really no excuse given how forgiving customers are as long as you respond quickly to complaints.

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Online Marketing: 4 sources of customer insight on your website

April 11th, 2013

“The meaning of a test is to get a learning, not a lift.” 

Chances are, you’ve heard the above from us before. At MECLABS, we often speak of online testing as a means to learn insights directly from the customer, prospect, visitor, etc.

Well, what if you could be overlooking areas of your website that can give you valuable customer insight without testing anything at all. Would you be interested in using this information to improve your online operations and maybe increase conversion? I know I would. Could you use this information to inform future test ideas and test plans?

You could. And probably should.

While the following information may not seem revolutionary – or even unique, for that matter – you might be surprised by just how many large corporations fail to take such readily available information into account, even though it is supplied to them directly from the customer or prospect.

There are numerous places on your website that reference the customer. But, the areas we need to focus on are the ones in which the customer provides direct feedback, in their own words.

 

1. Comment boxes in form fields

Everyone has seen the ubiquitous form field box on contact forms across the Web, but who actually takes the time to fill these out? Depending upon the complexity of the product and your traffic levels, there could be quite a few.

Now, if you take those few comments you receive daily and extrapolate them over a lengthier period – let’s say three months – you might begin seeing trends in the types of comments or questions your customers are asking.

Yes, this would take some analysis from a staff member, but the payoff could be huge. Just remember, the analysis doesn’t have to be complicated, and this type of quick analysis can be applied across the other areas.

You can use any program you like, but take the time to quickly go through the comments and categorize those matching or sharing a similar root problem or theme.

Once you have completed the analysis phase, see if  any comment groups emerge as a significant portion of the overall sample. If so, then you have likely identified an area of friction that could be addressed on the website to potentially aid in conversion.

How you go about addressing the issues should also be considered. Will a simple copy improvement suffice, or is there a larger issue with the website or process needing to be addressed? It’s ultimately your decision, but before rewriting all your Web copy, remember you’re working with a fraction of your overall traffic. There is no need to revamp areas that don’t need it.

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Content Marketing: An 8-point analysis for your blog

February 26th, 2013

Blogging can be a very effective element of your marketing mix. For example, an online retailer realized a 172% ROI from its blog.

Of course, as with any marketing tactic, just having a blog is not enough. So, if your blog is underperforming, or you haven’t yet begun to invest in this content channel, perhaps it’s time for a tune-up.

Inspired by the come-ons from the local oil and lube joints for “160-point winter readiness car inspections,” here is an eight-point analysis you can conduct to identify areas for improvement – and we all have them, the MarketingSherpa blog is no exception – on your blog.

 

Point #1: Posting frequency

On many blogs, the frequency and cadence of the blog posts is sporadic. You might see a blog post on Wednesday, then one on Friday, then no posts for a week, then two on Thursday.

An element of effective content is consistency. Let the journalists of the world be your guide here. For example, I have a weekend subscription to my local newspaper, The Florida Times-Union. Every Saturday and Sunday, a newspaper waits for me on my driveway.

If I were to stumble out of my house one Sunday morning – Tony Soprano-style – to find no newspaper waiting, well, I’d start to question the quality of the newspaper. If it just happened once, I would probably not think too big a deal of it. But, if the newspaper was no longer reliably on my driveway on the weekend, I would start to question the reliability of the information in it.

The same goes for your blog.

That said, you have a tough challenge to face as a content marketer, because you can’t sacrifice the quality of your content for a reliable cadence.

To serve both masters – content quality and reliability – you need to set up an editorial calendar you know you can consistently over-deliver on and build up a queue of content. In other words, if you’re writing your blog posts the same day they are posted, then you have a problem. For example, I’m writing this post on February 15.

That queue will wax and wane in size as you become busy with other duties, but it is your insurance and buffer against missing a scheduled deadline. You can still add some real-time posts to take advantage of general news or changes in your industry. Just make sure you have plenty of high-quality, evergreen posts in your queue to comfortably meet every date you are promising to your readers.

 

Point #2: Content value

“We know you have a choice of airlines when you fly, and we want to thank you for flying with us.”

While this has become less true of the airline industry after the American Airlines and US Airways merger, it is more true every day in the blogosphere, especially in hyper-competitive industries that have a lot of quality content marketing such as information technology and marketing.

Sure, you could publish only self-promotional posts. But why would anyone read them? Or share them?

When writing every post, you must ask yourself the central value proposition question – If I am a [particular prospect, e.g., IT manager], why should I [read this blog post] rather than [get information from any other source, anything from an industry magazine to a competitor’s blog]?

The end results of every blog post must be to serve your audience. So, focus on value as your top objective – it is more important than length, promotions or frequency.

  Read more…

Social Media Marketing: How New York Public Library increased card sign-ups by 35%

January 31st, 2013

Celebrated every September, National Library Card Sign-up Month marks an opportunity for the New York Public Library to bring in scores of new library users.

“It is organized by the American Library Association and it is really designed to remind parents and children that a library card is the most important school supply as they head back to school,” said Johannes Neuer, Associate Director of Marketing, New York Public Library.

However, without the available marketing budget to promote it, Angela Montefinise, Director of PR and Marketing, New York Public Library, said it wasn’t “the easiest thing to get out there.”

She said it was very important for the library to “get the word out for people to sign up for library cards and open a whole new world of information and free programs.”

The solution to take part in this nationwide effort was to generate a creative social media marketing campaign. Using its flagship channels of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest, the library could reach its social media network of more than 550,000 fans and followers.

Read more…

Cause Marketing: “Likes for Tikes” campaign generates a 39% increase in Facebook Likes for small firm

December 20th, 2012

Thinking of businesses during the holiday season often conjures up the image of Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge, building his fortune a penny at a time and miserly clutching every one. The uncanny number of movie versions of the tale usually perpetuate this, with an updated Ebenezer being a stingy CEO or mogul – see Bill Murray in Scrooged.

But, for many companies in the marketing industry, the truth is much closer to the old Jimmy Stewart classic, It’s a Wonderful Life – people building a business by working hard while balancing the profits of business and goodwill.

World Synergy is an online marketing firm based out of Cleveland, Ohio, going into its 16th year of business. It provides a real-life example of how companies are integrating giving back with business as usual.

Toys for Tots has been the charity of choice for World Synergy, and Facebook the chosen outlet for the give-back campaign “Likes for Tikes.”

“It is an outreach opportunity for us. … We wanted to get engaged with our current customer base and our employees’ friends and family,” said Glenn Smith, President and CEO, World Synergy.  Read more…

Web Presence Optimization: Evolving the view of online success

December 6th, 2012

Editor’s Note: One of the prizes of winning the MarketingSherpa Reader’s Choice Awards is the chance for a guest post here on the MarketingSherpa blog. Today’s post is by Tom Pick of Webbiquity, chosen as best B2B marketing blog … by you.

With more than 90% of B2B and high-value consumer product purchasing decisions now starting with online research, online visibility is crucial. Companies that seem to be “everywhere” online for specific search phrases, with relevant content, stand an outsized chance of winning the business.

Maximizing online visibility isn’t just a matter of search engine optimization (SEO), though that plays a key role. As prospective buyers look to influential third-party information sources as well as peer reviews in addition to vendor content, disciplines that have traditionally operated in silos (SEO, online advertising, social media, PR) need to work together in a coordinated fashion.

Content that is not coordinated between different functions (e.g., marketing emphasizes customer service while PR talks about new features) is confusing to prospective customers. Content that is re-created independently by different functions rather than created once and then repurposed is a waste of money. And, content that isn’t cross-linked for search optimization purposes is a missed opportunity.

But, as author Lee Odden points out in Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing, “For many companies, it can be very difficult and complex to implement a holistic content marketing and search optimization program.”

Read more…

Website Strategy: 59% view the website as a marketing channel

November 30th, 2012

In the MarketingSherpa 2012 Website Optimization Benchmark Report, we shared how marketers view their website strategy …

Q: Which of the following statements are representative of your organization’s website strategy?

Click to enlarge

 

Why do you have a website?

“I usually start by asking new customers: ‘Why do you have a website?’” said Søren Sprogø, owner, Afdeling 18.

“Any answer but ‘To make more money!’ is wrong.”

“Next question of course then is, ‘How can your website help you earn more money?’ Now that’s the big one, and it can be discussed for hours. But by building your website around this question, you ensure that it supports your business and that it is measurable,” Søren concluded.

  Read more…

Digital Marketing: Understanding customer sentiment

August 3rd, 2012

Yuchun Lee, Vice President and General Manager, Enterprise Marketing Management Group, IBM, understands analytics and metrics are, as he puts it, “a huge part of marketers’ lives.”

He says the question then becomes, “How much time and energy should marketers spend checking out metrics and worrying about the analytics of their efforts?”

Yuchun adds, “I think the market trend has been moving towards incorporating more and more data and analysis of customers.”

This includes learning what messaging is relevant to your customers.

“Being able to analyze the data to understand a customer becomes paramount for every business,” explains Yuchun.

This data analysis allows you to determine consumer sentiment, which in turn provides a framework for relevant communications. 

Read more…

Digital Marketing: Be relevant, data-driven and precise

July 31st, 2012

I think all marketers would agree that digital technology has brought about a sea change in the world of marketing. The basic model has gone from almost exclusively “push” messages to more of a “pull” approach that combines traditional channels, such as advertising and direct mail, with strategies like search engine optimization, social media marketing, mobile and email marketing.

At one point in time, marketers could dictate the message their prospects and customers received, and then hope that message resonated enough to drive sales. In the complex sale, this meant Sales was handed scads of leads from a variety of sources with almost no additional information about that prospect on where they were in the buying cycle, or even where they were in the buying process at their company.

 

Power shifting to the customer

In marketing today, prospects and customers are educating themselves about your industry, business space and product or service area. This holds true in both B2B and consumer marketing.

These people are not interested in receiving marketing messages pushed to them from the mountaintop. They want useful information to begin the decision-making process long before they actually interact with your company or brand.

This new way of looking at marketing has been described a number of ways, and one new book fresh off the presses calls it, “precision marketing.”

I had the chance to speak with Sandra Zoratti, Vice President Marketing, Executive Briefing and Education, Ricoh. Along with Lee Gallagher, former Director Precision Marketing Solutions, Ricoh, she co-authored, Precision Marketing: Maximizing revenue through relevance, which is this week’s MarketingSherpa Book Giveaway.

Sandra defines the term, “Precision marketing is about using data to drive customer insights so that you send the right message to the right person at the right time in the right channel.”

 

 

The precision marketing framework is about following a logical, sequential and continually improving process:

  1. Determine objective
  2. Gather data
  3. Analyze and model
  4. Strategize
  5. Deploy
  6. Measure

We covered a variety of what Sandra considers precision marketing topics, including how it can even help improve your marketing career.

Before I get into Sandra’s ideas, here are a few interesting data points from the book:

  • 64% of consumers say promotional offers dominate email and traditional mail received. Only 41% consider these offers “must-read” communications.
  • Out of the 91% of consumers opting out or unsubscribing from email programs, 46% do so because the messages are not relevant.
  • 41% of consumers would consider ending a brand relationship because of irrelevant messaging, and an additional 22% would definitely end the relationship because of irrelevance.
  • A survey of IT buyers by the International Data Group found 58% of vendor content was not relevant to potential buyers, and that this lack of relevance reduced the chance of closing a sale by 45%.

Are you seeing a theme here? Relevance is extremely important in marketing today.

“I say customers are powerful, in control, and they know it,” Sandra says. “They vote with their dollars. They vote with their attention, and what I would call their brand-altering online voices. So, customers are really in the driver’s seat, and marketers need to recognize that.”

  Read more…

Digital Marketing 101: A panel for startups

July 6th, 2012

Recently, I had the privilege to sit on, and moderate, a panel discussion on the basics of digital marketing for the technology startups being incubated at Tech Wildcatters in Dallas this spring and early summer.

We covered a variety of digital marketing topics, but we focused on three areas: email marketing, social media marketing and online privacy. And, I wanted to share some of the panel’s wisdom with MarketingSherpa readers. Luckily for me, I was joined on the panel by two excellent marketers – Dennis Dayman, Chief Privacy and Security Officer, Eloqua, and Shama Kabani, CEO, the Marketing Zen Group.

It was called “fireside marketing,” but, thankfully, the fireplace was virtual given the summer temperatures in Dallas.

Read more…