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Posts Tagged ‘Online Marketing’

Customer-Centric Marketing: How transparency translates into trust

May 23rd, 2014
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Transparency is something that companies usually shy away from. From the customer’s perspective, that product or service just appears for them – simple and easy.

Marketing has a history of touting a new “miracle” or “wonder” product and holding up the veil between brand and consumer.

michael-norton-summitHowever, in Wednesday’s Web Optimization Summit 2014 featured presentation, Harvard Associate Professor Michael Norton brought up a different idea, speaking about how hard work should be worn as a badge of honor.

“Think about showing your work to customers as a strategy,” he said, coining it “The Ikea Strategy.”

The idea behind this is that when people make things themselves, they tend to overvalue them – think of all the DIY projects around the house. In the same vein, when people comprehend the hard work that has gone into a product, they are more likely to value it.

Michael gave the example of a locksmith he had spoken to as part of his research to understand the psychology of people who work with their hands. This man was a master locksmith, Michael said, and he started off by talking about how he used to be terrible at his job – he would go to a house, use the wrong tools, take an inordinate amount of time and sweat over the job.

Gradually, he became a master at his trade, and could fix the same problem quickly with only one tool. It didn’t matter that his work was superior because of his experience, his customers became infuriated when he handed over the bill. Even though the result was the same, the customers hadn’t seen the effort.

Independent of the service being delivered, Michael explained, we value the labor people put in.

“We like to see people working on our behalf,” he said.

He asked two questions on how to apply this in the marketing sphere:

  • Can this be applied to the online environment as well?
  • Can this be built into websites so people feel like these interfaces are working for them?

A counterintuitive mindset must be applied in this area. In many cases, rapid service or response comes second to transparency. Michael spoke about how his team ran a test where they purposefully slowed down the searc results for a travel site by 30 seconds.

“30 seconds of waiting online is like … 11 days. It’s an enormously long time,” he said.

But slowing something down like a search, he continued, makes people feel like the algorithm was working hard for them.

As surprising as it sounds, more customers picked the delayed search travel site because they perceived that it was working harder for them, he said.

Read more…

Transparent Marketing: 3 marketing lessons from the fast-food industry

December 13th, 2013
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Quick, convenient and cost-efficient are three words some marketers hope customers will find synonymous with the fast-food industry.

Deceptive, unrealistic and way too expensive seems to be where conversation about fast food goes with the family and friends that I’ve asked for their thoughts.

Clearly, there is a Hatfield-McCoy relationship between Marketing’s hope and customer perception, but does it have to be this way?

Absolutely not.

Some fast-food chains have started to step away from tactics perceived as nefarious to build brand equity on unique offerings, transparency and customer testimonials.

Before you start thinking of where to go for your next meal, let’s take a look at three restaurant chains that have embraced a brave new world of marketing and what we can learn from them.

 

Much more than a burrito, it’s an upsell

As a frequent flyer to Tex-Mex chains, I have grown skeptical of other burrito-related establishments. I’ve tried plenty of them and the experience is often heartache and, at times, heartburn.

However, one Tex-Mex chain has cleverly strategized a way to increase the likelihood of an upsell with its menu design.

 

Qdoba Mexican Grill has a unique menu presentation. Many competitor menus start with a choice of meat and continue with the ingredients that follow the assembly line.

So what is the difference?

This is a classic example of passive versus active engagement. Offering all of the choices upfront creates a passive experience in that, “I’m just thinking of what I don’t want on my burrito.”

 

Qdoba, however, starts its menu conversation with signature flavors and customization, which puts my focus on actively experimenting with different combinations to find the burrito of dreams.

I can also choose vegan and gluten-free options, which is a smart move as the paradigm of healthy eating continues to shift toward a lifestyle of calorie consciousness or for those who require vegan or gluten-free menu options for health reasons.

So how does this relate to a Web conversion?

Take it from Qdoba, don’t be afraid to show off something signature with your offering. Your site should display its value in a way that is suggestive and not submissive. Promoting one item more than another only bothers those who believe in symmetry.

Also, don’t be afraid to engage customers for the upsell.

 

Why yes, I would like fries from Sugar City, Idaho

Another chain that is helping you decide what to have for lunch at 9:30 a.m. is Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

This establishment utilizes a small menu, a variety of condiments, fries made from Idaho’s finest potatoes, and all the free peanuts you can eat.

What Five Guys offers is a lesson in transparency.

Customers can see their food being made and can be rest assured that their order is fresh with all of the right toppings. This can also serve as a piece of wisdom for marketers to clearly show how a product or service will benefit customers.

In the digital age, transparent marketing is the best way to earn a user’s trust and click.

 

Endorsements are fast track to breaking the mold

In 2012, Subway became the first restaurant in the fast-food industry to receive the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Meal Certification. 

 

This was clearly a game changer for the chain in terms of strategy due to the common preconceived notation that fast food directly translates to unhealthy living.

Subway was able to escape that mold of negative perception by receiving a strong source of third-party credibility.

This goes without saying, but having someone else – including an unbiased group in this case – back your product or service screams credibility and validation.

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Infographic: Customer experience in the digital age

April 30th, 2013
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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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Value Proposition: 3 techniques for standing out in a highly competitive market

April 18th, 2013
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Marketing in highly competitive environments can be difficult as pressure mounts to stand out amongst fierce competitors in a space that feels like its constantly shrinking.

So, in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post, you will hear three ideas to inspire you from a MarketingExperiments Web clinic – “Discovering Your Value Proposition: 6 ways to stand out in a crowded marketplace.” Our goal is to share a few simple techniques to differentiate your offers in highly competitive environments and avoid “me too” marketing.

But first, let’s clarify what a value proposition is.

According to the MECLABS Value Proposition Development Online Course, a value proposition is defined as the answer to the question – “If I am your ideal prospect, why should I buy from you rather than your competitors?”

So, how would you answer this question about your offer?

Take a few minutes to brainstorm on how you would answer this question.

Now if what you wrote down read like any of these …

  • “We empower you with software solutions.”
  • “I don’t sell products and services; I sell results — my guarantee.”
  • “We help people find their passion and purpose.”
  • “We are the leading [insert your service here] provider.”
  • “Get found online.”
  • “This site has what the person is looking to find.”

Then, it’s likely your campaigns are underperforming. Here are some techniques you can use to plug some of the leaks in your sales funnel.

 

Technique #1: Craft offers that focus on your “only factor”

Your value proposition must include one aspect that differentiates you from your competitors. This one singularity is your “only factor.” If your value proposition doesn’t do this, you’re already at a disadvantage.

The goal here is to craft offers with a powerful only factor that will ideally have the right amount of appeal and exclusivity. Offers that are short on either of these elements can result in the following:

 

  • Offers with appeal but not much exclusivity lose appeal in a crowded marketplace with lots of competitors, and choices, for your ideal customer.
  • Offers that are exclusive but lack appeal quickly lose their leverage because not enough of those ideal customers will likely be motivated to act on your offer.

 

Technique #2: Support value propositions with clear evidentials

Evidentials are supporting claims in your offer that can be quantified and verified. To illustrate this point, let’s revisit the hypothetical car dealership owned by our Director of Editorial Content, Daniel Burstein.

Suppose Daniel decides to make a commercial for his dealership and in the ad he says:

“Please visit us at Burstein Auto; we have Florida’s best selection of cars for you to choose from!”

That statement is not very quantifiable because almost anyone can make the claim that they have the “best” of something.

Now if he were to instead say something like this …

“Please visit us at Burstein Auto; our dealership spans across five acres of land with over 1,500 new cars for you to choose from.”

The claims made in the second statement are quantified and have greater credibility because they can be verified. An overall goal for evidentials is to use them as bulleted points of information that support your claims strategically.

Here are a few key questions to ask yourself or your team about your evidentials:

  • Is our claim quantifiable?
  • Can our claim be verified?

Read more…

Online Marketing: 4 sources of customer insight on your website

April 11th, 2013
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“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.

Read more…

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

December 20th, 2012
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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
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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
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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: Be relevant, data-driven and precise

July 31st, 2012
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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…

Social Spam: Why you should clean out your LinkedIn and Facebook communities

December 16th, 2011
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The landing tab for the MarketingSherpa group on LinkedIn is called “Discussions.” Except, it was pretty much false advertising because there wasn’t a lot of discussion happening. It was mostly social spam … blatant self-promotion.

And this self-promotion went far beyond pushing products or special offers, it was promotion of blog posts, webinars, articles, etc … not quite as bad as promotional offers or the SEO phishing we get from comments here on the MarketingSherpa blog.

But still, it prevented conversation. So, Bethany Caudell, Customer Service, MECLABS, and I sat down to discuss the right approach forward. Beth manages the MarketingSherpa LinkedIn group, along with the MarketingExperiments Optimization group on LinkedIn.

 

Social media shades of gray

When it comes to managing social media communities, there are always shades of gray as to what, exactly, is appropriate. Then, once you set ground rules, the social media platform changes on you (ah, innovation).

For example, the challenge I’m talking about here only arose because LinkedIn did away with the “News” tab in its groups, leaving members with no dedicated place to post links they thought were newsworthy. So on the one hand, I did feel for them.

On the other hand, again, all of this “news” was killing the true point of the tab – discussions.

So at the end of the day we bit the bullet, sent out a warning letter about the new change, and Beth whipped out her virtual machete and started cleaning the groups of all that social spam. I expected some negative kickback, but I was extremely surprised when the feedback was overwhelming positive (in case you have to clean house yourself one day, you can see copy for the letter I sent using that link as well).

So the question arises … how do you combat social spam? How far should marketers go as policemen and women for their LinkedIn Groups, Facebook fan pages, and the like? These social media pages, originally meant for discussion, can be easily filled with junk thanks to a self-promoting audience … or simply inappropriate content.

Below you’ll find a very basic six-step process to help with your own efforts.

  Read more…