Daniel Burstein

People Buy From People: Five examples of how to bring the humanity back to marketing

December 13th, 2017
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“People don’t buy from websites, people buy from people.” This is an essential principle from the MECLABS Institute Landing Page Optimization certification course (from the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa).

With so much focus on martech, marketing org structure and website optimization, and channels ranging from print to digital advertising, this principle can be easy to forget.

Yes, marketing technology is powerful. Yes, the correct structure of the marketing department and IT department are necessary; and you certainly want a well-functioning website.

But this is just infrastructure. Mere roads.

You, dear marketer, are in the driver’s seat. You decide how to use these roads.

The most effective way to use them is to connect with other people. Remember that everyone behind the technology is a real, complex human. And everyone on the receiving end is a real, complex human with hopes and fears, needs and wants, goals and pain points.

Here are five examples to give you ideas for bringing humanity back to your marketing.

Example #1: Engage with influencers

Every B2B industry and B2C niche customer community has influencers. Rock stars to that specific group of people, even if no one in the general public knows who they are. They’re more than a brand or a logo; they’re a person. And when it’s the right person for your ideal customer, your customer deeply wants to learn from these influencers.

“I would say don’t be afraid to talk to your influencers in your industry. Engage them and try to partner with them,” said Mike Hamilton, Director of Marketing Programs, Exterro.

Exterro is a legal software company specializing in e-discovery. When it launched its vendor-neutral E-Discovery Day virtual event three years ago, the team was able to get a couple of key influencers on board. In Exterro’s case, a few of these influencers were federal judges.

Having federal judges speaking on a webcast back then was a big deal. So, Hamilton started calling other influencers in the industry and used the federal judges’ names as a proof point that E-Discovery Day was designed to be a day of education and not vendor-speak. Exterro opened it up to competitors, law firms, anyone in the industry. As a result of bringing all these influencers on board, the team was able to get more than 2,400 event attendees this year, an increase of 70% from 2016.

“If someone has a blog in your industry, and you think they write great content at the same audience as you, send them the email, or don’t be afraid to call them and just ask them what they’re doing, how they’re looking to grow their influence, and how you could potentially partner together. Because the reason why I think E-Discovery Day was so successful was we got buy-in from a lot of influencers in the community at the very beginning,” Hamilton said.

Example #2: Talk to one person … or account

Marketers can do amazing things with data and automation these days. However, sometimes it’s worth singling out important accounts and customers and giving them a more manual, human touch.

This may seem overwhelming at first, but if you analyze your most valuable customers to determine who your best customers will be, you may find that some version of the Pareto principle is at play. In other words, 80% of your revenue may come from 20% of customers.

Trapeze Group, a provider of hardware and software to the public transit industry throughout the world, took an account-based marketing (ABM) approach to try focusing and humanizing its marketing to specific accounts.

They started a pilot program with a public transit agency in the Los Angeles area, and positioned the ABM strategy in the business as “ensuring that it was not just a marketing or sales function but also that of project management and customer success,” said Michelle McCabe, Manager of Demand Generation and Marketing Operations, Trapeze Group North America.

For example, the team created a personalized magazine just for that account. The magazine contained a combination of custom content that was created from scratch for the people in that account as well as repurposed content. “We knew that some of the C-levels were a little bit more traditional. So we felt that a print magazine might speak to them a little bit more than something digital, which is why we went for a printed magazine versus digital specifically for this account,” McCabe said.

In addition, the team created a 3D-printed statue and sent it specifically to one person in the account. “It said the word ‘innovation’ because that spoke true to his role and his overall mission. He did receive it, and he thanked us for that, which was great,” McCabe recounted.

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Linda Johnson

Marketing 101: What is the happy path?

December 11th, 2017
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The happy path is a quick, linear path to the purchase of a product or service where the customer doesn’t get sidetracked, either by their own distracted actions or by a company’s poorly designed process, or because the customer has a more complex use case. Let’s take a closer look at why this is important and how it might look.

The Value Exchange Happy Path

Often, companies require users to fit certain criteria to be eligible for the simplest outcome.

An example of a happy path that MECLABS optimized with one of our Fortune 20 Research Partners would be the “Happy Path Upgrade Funnel.” The happy path would be what is experienced by a customer who chose to start the upgrade process having:

  • Fully paid off their old device
  • Was upgrade eligible based on the rules of their phone plan
  • Had no account problems that they had to resolve in order to upgrade today

This would allow them to complete the upgrade funnel in the shortest and simplest number of steps possible, with the least amount of cost experienced as part of the value exchange.

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Daniel Burstein

Copywriting: Listen to customers so you can speak their language

December 1st, 2017
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Words matter. Both for their denotation (to ensure prospective customers understand your advertising) as well as for their connotation.

(Words are subtle indicators to tell a potential customer “we understand you specifically” and “this offer is meant for people like you.”)

To truly speak our customers’ language, we must listen to them because our customers may be very different from us.

No easy task. As Don Peppers and Martha Rogers say in Managing Customer Experience and Relationships, “‘Listening’ has never been part of most mass marketers’ primary skill set.” (I’m reading the book as a student of the University of Florida/MECLABS Institute Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program.)

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Tara Marotta

3 Quick Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of the Remainder of your Holiday Marketing Efforts

November 30th, 2017
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For B2C marketers, the holiday gift-giving season is the time of year when we drive the most revenue. So, to get the most out of the last 24 shopping days of the season, we thought a bit of insight and inspiration from your fellow marketers could be helpful. Here are a few of our favorite tips from ecommerce marketers interviewed at the MarketingSherpa Media Center at IRCE that you can apply immediately to your marketing efforts.

Whether you’re working at a startup like Mitch Goldstone, ScanMyPhotos.com, and Gaston Frydlewski, Hickies, Inc., or are part of a larger organization like Mark Friedman, Steve Madden, these tips can be applied to your customer-first marketing efforts this holiday season and throughout the upcoming year.

Tip #1: Turn those holiday shoppers into brand advocates by going above and beyond in your customer service

“When someone receives their order, their digitized photos, they [become] my marketing team,” said Mitch Goldstone, CEO, ScanMyPhotos.com.

Since ScanMyPhotos.com digitizes physical photographs, Goldstone and his team are often privy to a very personal aspect of their customer’s lives, their old family photos. Because of this, it is important to the team that they humanize the customer experience as much as possible.

Watch the full interview below to learn how thinking outside the box when it comes to customer service (sending flowers along with completed orders), has resulted in ScanMyPhotos.com customers becoming brand advocates and content contributors.

Tip #2: Utilize user-generated content to drive more traffic to your ecommerce site this season

Are you getting the most out of those blog and social media posts that your brand is tagged in? Is there really a better way to advertise your product than letting your customers do your bragging? Take a note from the playbook of Mark Friedman, President of Ecommerce, Steve Madden, and make sure you’re using this user-generated content to its fullest extent.

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Daniel Burstein

Micro-yes(s) versus Micro-moments

November 21st, 2017
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“I was wondering about the methodology of MECLABS, about micro-yeses and the micro-moments.  There are some similarities about both terms. Do you have some articles on the topic micro-yeses vs micro-moments? If yes, can you provide me a link for it? If you don’t, this is a good topic for the next one, I guess.”

This suggestion comes courtesy of a MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing newsletter subscriber who recently completed the MECLABS Institute Value Proposition Development course (from MarketingSherpa’s parent research institute).

Understanding these two topics — the micro-moment and the micro-yes — is especially important to the inbound marketer.

Content and social media tend to be consumed in micro-moments, and to get customers to engage with your social and content (and ultimately take a larger conversion action, like a purchase) requires a micro-yes to get a micro-conversion.

Micro-moments, i.e., “I will not waste 37 seconds standing in line without being entertained!”

“We put a name to a behavior that, thanks to mobile, was becoming pervasive. People had started to expect an immediate answer in the moments they wanted to know, go, do and buy,” said Lisa Gevelber, VP of Marketing for the Americas, Google, in the article 3 new consumer behaviors playing out in Google search data.

Essentially, mobile web use is exploding. Yada, yada, yada. I’m sure you know all of that.

But the important element to take away is not just the form factor that mobile use requires (e.g., responsive design) but the customer behavior shift mobile hath wrought.

And this is a trap we as marketers fall into. When we’re reviewing our social, our content, our landing pages, our advertising, our email, etc., we’re pretty darned focused on it. We eliminate as many distractions as possible. We craft headlines and body copy with a surgical precision. We know every detail about our products and services.

However, the customer is taking a mere micro-moment in their day with many other distractions going on. When they come across your blog post, they — “Jimmy! I told you to put that down and get off of your brother!” — interact with your content, social and marketing messages in a much more distracted fashion — “Wait, what did they say? Was that Flight 2054 to Jacksonville canceled? Or did they say Flight 2045?” — so you need to make sure your messages are clear and compelling.

Hence the need for micro-yes(s); more on that in a moment.

But the bigger point is this: Next time you’re looking at a marketing piece or piece of content, don’t just make sure the form is optimized for mobile (e.g., big buttons, white space, whatever). Make sure you’re thinking through that customer’s mobile behavior.

Because customers often exhibit different behaviors in these micro-moments. To wit, “Mobile searches for ‘best’ have grown 80% in the past two years,” Gevelber said.

So this behavior impacts your SEO and content strategies, for example. What type of information will people be searching for in a micro-moment? What content would help them?

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Daniel Burstein

Everything is Marketing: Why all CEOs should have marketing backgrounds

November 17th, 2017
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You know the typical corporate structure. There are a series of departments that handle discrete tasks and hopefully work efficiently and effectively together to create a greater whole. There’s a finance department, human resources department, IT department, production or manufacturing department and a marketing department.

Except, can you really compartmentalize and departmentalize marketing?

Everything a company does is marketing. Perhaps once, marketing was simply the 4 P’s — product, price, promotion, and place. Understand the product well enough so you can identify a target market for it, understand the price point they are willing to bear, and then promote the heck out of it in the right place … usually with a heavy emphasis on advertising.

But as Deepa Prahalad says in Why Trust Matters More Than Ever for Brands, “Consumers today are trying and bonding with brands through design touch points and their experiences, not through advertising alone … Advertising and marketing can amplify the success of a great design, but they can rarely compensate for a poor one. Here, trust is a function of the brand messaging lining up with the consumer’s actual interaction with the product or service.” (emphasis is mine)

(I read this article as a student in the University of Florida/MECLABS Institute Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program).

Companies need to “wow” customers with every interaction

And this is why every CEO should have a marketing background. Because almost everything a company does has an interaction with the customer. So almost everything is marketing.

If the IT department can’t get the back-end systems right and it goes down when a customer is trying to make a purchase, that’s (negative) marketing. If the purchasing department buys wetlands and puts a store on it, that’s (negative) marketing. Or if the finance department creates a program to give 1% of profits to charitable organizations, that’s (positive) marketing.

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Linda Johnson

Marketing 101: What is big rock content?

November 10th, 2017
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I had three hours to kill before my next flight to Dallas departed. While sitting in an airport café warming my hands around a mocha, I overheard snippets of an intense conversation in the booth behind me.

“It’s all about your big rocks. They are the most important. What are your big rocks?” 

At the time, I hadn’t heard of Stephen Covey’s analogy, so I had no idea what these two young marketers were discussing. Later, I was enlightened.

In brief, effective people prioritize their goals beginning with the most important (the rocks) and moving on to those of lesser importance (sand). Because when you think about it, if you try to fill a jar with sand before filling it with rocks, you will have troubles fitting the rocks in. Begin with the rocks and fill in the spaces with sand. It’s good advice and can be applied not only to marketing but our personal lives as well.

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Daniel Burstein

Ask MarketingSherpa: How do I write emails that sell?

November 3rd, 2017
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We frequently receive questions about marketing advice from our email subscribers. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we publish some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog since they may be able to help many other readers. And if you have any questions, let us know.

Ask MarketingSherpa: Hi Daniel!

Maybe you can help me.

My position is Advertising Sales at a Print Media Magazine.

What tips can you guide me with in terms of constructing emails to get my existing clients or new clients to advertise with us?

Dear Reader: Great looking magazine!

Here’s the best advice I can give you — think about the question you just asked me. I don’t mean to sound harsh, 99% of people selling advertising would have worded it the same way.

However, think about it as a customer. Do you want someone to “get” you to advertise? No! You want value.

So take a customer-first marketing approach. What value can you provide to existing and new clients? And that goes for both those that buy from you and those that don’t. Focus your email around that. Nobody is waiting to get an email that sells them something. However, an email with value for them, now that might get a response.

That’s my top tip. In addition, this PDF transcript — Email Messaging: How overcoming 3 common errors increased clickthrough 104%  — has some good advice based on our research.

And we go even deeper in this online course — MECLABS Institute Email Messaging Online Certification.

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Annie Summerall

Marketing 101: What is a unique visitor?

October 27th, 2017
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

There are two metrics to look at when you are analyzing the amount of traffic coming to your website — visits and unique visitors.

What’s the difference?

“Visits” refers to the number of times your website or webpage has been visited during a reporting period. It’s important to note that a single person can make multiple visits.

“Unique visitors” refers to the actual number of people (well, sort of, more on that in a bit) who have come to your website or webpage at least once during a reporting period — this number does not increase if a previous visitor returns to a page multiple times.

So, if you visit MarketingSherpa.com 10 times in a day, it is recorded as one unique visitor and 10 visits. If you even refresh a page 10 times, it is counted as 10 visits, one unique visitor.

But, how does Google Analytics (or Adobe Analytics, etc.)  know someone has visited previously? It’s measured with IP addresses and tracking cookies. So, to clarify, if you visit the same site using the same IP address 12 times, it is recorded as one unique visitor and 12 visits.

Does “unique visitors” really tell us the actual number of people visiting our site?

It is important to recognize that these numbers can get cloudy. Many people use different browsers, browse from multiple devices, use multiple IP addresses, or clear their cookies regularly while surfing the web. Additionally, most cookies expire within one month. So, someone navigating to a site through three different browsers will be counted as three unique visitors. Someone who scrolled through a product page on their phone but moved to desktop for purchasing is considered two unique visitors.

Source: Brooks Bell

 

The great thing about both of these metrics is that when you look at them together, you can roughly see how often people (aka prospective customers) are repeatedly coming to your website.

You can also see a rough average of how many visits each individual coming to your site has. All you have to do is divide the total number of visits by the total number of unique visitors.

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Daniel Burstein

Customer-First Marketing: The customer is always right … but not always right for your company

October 19th, 2017
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You’ve heard the saying a million times, I’m sure. “The customer is always right.” It is so ingrained in Stew Leonard’s that the supermarket chain has engraved it in stone and put it right in front of its stores.

And yet, while customers can offer valuable insights, if you’ve spent any time at all monitoring customer feedback, you know that customers can have some interesting opinions. Controversial perhaps. Wacky even. Impossible to bring to market in a profitable way. And occasionally downright bizarre.

So how do you square this circle? Customer feedback is extremely valuable, but customers don’t always know what they’re talking about.

Exhibit A: One Homer J. Simpson. In an episode of “The Simpsons,” Homer find his long-lost half brother, who happens to be rich and owns a car company. His brother offers to give him a free car but soon realizes that none of his company’s cars are what Homer really wants.

Sensing an opportunity, he sees Homer as the proxy for the “average man” and unleashes him with totally authority to design a car. The result — a monstrosity. (“You know that little ball on the antenna that helps you find your car in the parking lot? That should be on every car!”) And a monstrosity that costs $82,000, to boot.


The customer isn’t always right, your customer is always right

Here’s the problem. Homer is not the ideal customer to purchase a new car. If you’ve watched the show, you know he drives an old, beat-up, used car. So while he had lots of ideas, he never would have actually been able to buy the car he was designing.

How do you use customer feedback as valuable business intelligence without ending up having to market an $82,000 automobile with three car horns that play “La Cucaracha”? Here are a few tips to help set you down the right path:

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