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The Power of Stories

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Nov, 02, 2018 @ 15:11 PM

storytelling

 

Great hearing Jennifer Aaker, Author and Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business share her thoughts on "Harnessing the Power of Stories" at Gartner's Sales and Marketing conference.

Over the course of my career in marketing, I've had the opportunity to see the power of stories on many occasions. About ten years ago, I had the opportunity to work with Don Pausback to produce a series of emotionally powerful consumer testimonials, a.k.a., stories, about how Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC had made a tremendous impact on their lives in very difficult circumstances.

These stories helped reverse negative perceptions of the brand brought on by negative PR events and doubled inbound leads from their direct to consumer advertising.

Ms. Aaker's presentation explains why.

People buy but hate to be sold to. Persuasion sources have shifted. The trust gap is significant. People trust people they know first and foremost. They trust people they don't know more than they trust companies. How you lead is predicated on knowing your story.

Story is why you’re doing what you’re doing and there's a science of stories. It’s fundamental to live a life based on stories. What people remember when you die are stories about how you made them feel.

Stories help us decide what to believe in separating the noise from the signal. Stories are meaningful, impactful, and memorable. We tend to feel an emotional connection to the storyteller and we know emotion drives decisions that we rationalize after the decision is made.

If we share a story people remember it, we are connected and moved. Stories are powerful because they are meaningful.

So, what’s a story? An arc with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Try writing a six word story about yourself. Here's what I came up with:

  • Marketing professional becomes IT research analyst.
  • Double Dookie, Huge Tar Heel fan.

Those two six-word stories tell people a lot about me

Stories work because they are emotional, evocative. Your team story is the strategy. Think about the credibility triangle: point of view, story, data. Context matters. Order matters between POV, story, data.

What's the ROI of a story? Bonobos launched bull denim renaming it the travel jean – destination jeans, ideal for excursions near and far. The

How to harness stories? Think about stories that lead, stories as assets, and stories as life. Most stories are tactical. Signature stories are strategic - an asset to manage. Intriguing, authentic, involving stories with a strategic message.

Three signature stories:

  • Purpose storiesToms shoes' mission of providing shoes for those in need. Adobe unlocking creativity in the world with a goal of reaching $5 billion in 5 years. They reached it in 3.5 years with an inspired mission.
  • Empathy story – with the user as hero. LinkedIn has banked user stories. Google Chrome showcased Daniel Lee with his annual message to his daughter "Dear Sophie."
  • Growth story – elevates value and increase pipeline. Salesforce reached out to find signature stories. Learned that their 25% highest performing sales people all used stories. Worked to identify and scale the best stories. Had 1,000 submitted, produced the top 100, used the top 10. UCHealth found and activated patient stories. In six months garnered 17,000 press mentions and became a top 15 hospital with patients coming from all over the world.

Stories outperform features. So how do you build a story culture? Identify a story ambassador. Build story habits - get people telling six-word stories about themselves, then about the organization. Identify signature stories. What's your growth story? Bank your stories, they are assets. Look for true, bold, and distinct stories that are relevant to different audiences offering something bigger and meaningful.

Happiness is feeling positive, not negative. By thinking in stories you live a life that’s much more meaningful, creates truer and deeper connections.

Tell me a fact, and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth, and I’ll believe, but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. -- Indian Proverb  

Tags: story, Trustworthiness, transparency, integrity, be real

Does Honest Branding Really Win in the End?

Posted by Kayleigh Alexandra on Fri, Oct, 26, 2018 @ 17:10 PM

Honesty

Image credit: Nick Youngson

Growing up, there’s a good chance that you were taught to be your best. To treat others with respect. To tell the truth. To show kindness and compassion toward others. And to go out of your way to help where you can and make the world a better place.

And right now, there’s a movement in the business world that asks you to do the same. It’s called honest branding. And much like the lessons you might have learned during childhood and throughout your formative years, it preaches honesty and transparency in business.

Now here’s a cynical question. Do you believe it to be true? Or do you believe that your company should adhere to what some believe in their own lives — that “nice guys finish last”?

Today, we’re going to take a look at honest branding. And we’re going to show you why it’s a worthy endeavor. One your business should take seriously.

People want authenticity from brands

Here’s the stone cold truth: people would rather do business with the brands they feel are open about who they are and what they do. Money doesn’t grow on trees, after all. And no one wants to hand their hard-earned cash to a business and feel bad about it afterward.

They want good juju from the transaction. They want to feel that they’re not just buying a product or service, but that they’re supporting a business that’s being real with them.

Which leads us into our next point.

People want to do business with brands that have good intentions

Consumers often seek out companies they vibe with. It’s why a lot of artists flock to Apple products. It’s not because you can’t find comparable software on a Windows machine, but because Apple developed a reputation over time as being a great platform for artists.

But that’s not always enough for consumers. They also want to know that a company is operating with the best of intentions, whether that’s toward that company’s customers or the world at large. So they’ll eat at restaurants that are farm-to-table, because they appreciate that restaurant’s support of local farmers. Or they’ll buy a certain type of shampoo because a particular company doesn’t test on animals.

Being open and authentic is good. But wearing all the ways you’re doing good on your sleeve? That’s even better.

People want to feel like a business is on their side

One of the best things you can do as a business is treat your customers as individuals and peers. Pretend that you’re not serving loads of customers. Pretend you’re serving just one. And pretend you get where they’re coming from.

Dove, for example, really nailed this with its Real Beauty campaign. So many beauty products feature television stars and models. People who look consistently flawless on film. And sometimes it can seem like those products aren’t made at all for everyday people. But Dove went in a different direction with its campaign. It showed that, sometimes, women have less-than-flattering feelings about their appearances, and it empowered them to let those feelings go.

Dove gained a lot of goodwill by telling women, “Hey. It’s okay if you have wrinkles. You’re you and that’s all that matters.” Almost as a good friend would. Look for ways your company can do something similar.

People appreciate those who go above and beyond to be open

Are you familiar with Buffer? It’s a social media tool that enables you to schedule updates, letting you automate some of the more mundane tasks of managing a Twitter or Facebook account. The company itself is already well known for its stellar customer service, but there’s another area Buffer really shines in. It doesn’t just pay lip service to being transparent. It relishes in it.

Buffer posts an incredible amount of information about the company on its website. If you go there, you’re not just going to find sales pages and help files. You’ll learn exactly how much every employee makes. And you can read up on every metric the company uses to determine its success.

It isn’t about releasing every last scrap of information, because that’s neither wanted nor justifiable. There’s no reason to talk about how much revenue you made last year (not unless you’re aiming to sell your business in the near future) or what brand of notepad you use in meetings. It’s more about scrapping the compulsion to hide things from people.

When a company is that open, it’s hard not to trust them. Vulnerability is compelling. Which is why a lot of customers trust Buffer enough to pay them for the company’s social media tool.

So, how can you be more honest in your branding?

We’ve told you why it’s important that your company takes honest branding seriously. And we’ve shown you that, yes, honest branding does win in the end. Businesses all over are putting an emphasis on it — even those you may interact with on a daily basis.

Now it’s your turn.

Start by being willing to answer questions. If a customer wants to know something, tell them. If Buffer can publish employee salaries, why can’t you? Perhaps that’s a stretch for your own business — privacy and such — but look at that company as an example of one that does something out of the ordinary. The Buffer team are answering questions most companies wouldn’t be willing to. That’s important.

Also, call yourself out on mistakes. And if you can, try to be proactive about it. There’s a good chance that you’ll know you’ve made a mistake before a whole bunch of people are pointing it out. The faster you acknowledge your error, and the faster you handle it yourself, the more customers will be willing to let it slide.

Finally, listen to feedback and act on it. Don’t just pretend to lend an ear to customers. Don’t provide them with an empty “I hear you” that results in zero action. Take their words to heart. Look at ways you can implement their feedback into bettering your company. Because there’s a good chance that if one customer feels a certain way, others do, too.

And please — don’t let anyone tell you that honest branding doesn’t win. It’s been thriving for a long time now, and it’s still rising in importance. Less transparent and less honest companies may prosper in the short term. But if you’re after long term success?

Well, you know which path you should take.

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Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups, a site dedicated to supporting startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for entrepreneurial tips, and follow along on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

Tags: do what you say you will do, Ethics, Trustworthiness, honesty, values, integrity, transparency

5 Common Employee Engagement Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Sylvia Giltner on Mon, Oct, 01, 2018 @ 05:10 AM

 

Management’s relation to their office staff can often make or break a company. Employees are often engaged with a company not because of salary or love for a given industry. They are more likely there because they share a common vision, goals and values of the company they work for.

However, mismanaging employees can lead to several awkward situations. In order to avoid those, managers, team leaders, and HR should be aware of common employee engagement practices which are bound for failure. Let’s take a look at several examples and how you can avoid them and build stronger employee relations.

  1. Failure to communicate

The employees you work with are part of a bigger picture, just like you are as their manager. Communicating your briefings, thoughts, feedback, and criticism effectively is an important part of your everyday interaction. Chris Mercer, CEO of Citatior spoke about his writers’ team recently: “I like to think of my team as an extension of my family. We share Skype meals, help each other out of short deadlines and back each other up when a tough client comes by. This has led to a much more comfortable working environment as I make sure that everyone gets along.”

Don’t avoid your team members and office staff just because they are lower on the office hierarchy. Instead, offer them a friendly smile and ask them how their day went. A small consideration can go a long way in ensuring your employees are content and ask you for your personal and professional opinion from time to time.

  1. No role-models

Whether you are a part of upper management or a project manager, your employees are likely to look up to you from a distance. While you are most likely not the ideal professional they imagined, you should make sure that they see you that way.

Role models are a huge part of office culture and people frequently use these individuals to set their own professional goals. Be an example people can use to develop their own skills and grow in the organization. Help a member of your staff or an intern in front of everyone to inspire your colleagues. Failing to act like a professional can result in poor corporate culture and a lack of trust and teamwork.

  1. Micromanagement

Project managers are responsible for work delegation and project management. However, this doesn’t constitute micromanagement in the traditional sense. Micromanaging someone else’s work can be a double-edged sword. The project might go the way you planned personally, but you will lose a lot of respect and credibility with your employees.

Worse yet, they might be demoralized by your micromanagement if you communicate they are not doing their jobs right. James Daily, a project manager at FlashEssay was recently quoted about his experience as a team leader: “I had a hard time finding a balance between micromanagement and team autonomy. Once I realized my coworkers are just as capable as I am, I decided that the best course of action for a leader is to act as support.”

Trust your employees know what they are doing and encourage them to come to you for any help they need. Be available and offer a help but never place your actions and opinions on others. You will build a much healthier, development-driven office culture.

  1. Little to no coaching

Coaching plays a pivotal role in employee development and overall satisfaction. No employee will stay loyal to a company if they are not growing their professional and personal skills. In order to boost your office’s retention rate, provide supportive coaching to your employees.

Make time for one-on-one conversations about their employment satisfaction, set goals for the next quarter and check in with them from time to time. If employees notice you care about their development, they will be more satisfied with what they are doing and motivate others to work just as hard.

  1. Recognition

Whether you are in charge of junior staff members or experienced employees, recognition is important. As a project manager or a shift supervisor, you are in charge of ensuring projects are completed on time and on budget. This does not mean taking credit for all the work being done.

Natalie Andersen, HR manager at GetGoodGrade spoke about her experience with employee recognition: “Sending order after order without a “thank you” in between rarely works long-term. Employees deserve to be recognized for the work they do at the company, even if it amounts to verbal gratitude.”

Make sure to put in a good word for your coworkers and celebrate small successes as they happen. Recognition can really make someone’s day when they work hard to finish a project on time. Failing to do so will result in a severe drop in morale and productivity, not to mention the subsequent retention rates which will undoubtedly take a hit.

Ongoing engagement (Conclusion)

Being on good terms with your employees is an ongoing commitment. It’s not enough to do one good deed a month and check the employee engagement box. Build a support system for your employees to motivate them. Don’t treat coworkers as cheap labor and opt for a more professional approach. Once you establish a new office culture, you will be surprised at the results of healthy work relations.

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-black-dress-pants-and-brown-dress-shirt-1080848/

Tags: employee engagement

Differentiate Based on Service and Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Sep, 11, 2018 @ 17:09 PM

 

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It was great to hear Joseph Pine II of Strategic Horizons, LLP at the TIBCO NOW 2018 conference. Joseph is the author of The Experience Economy and spoke on “Innovating Beyond Goods and Services.”

Joseph began his presentation talking about the Wizard Gumball Machine which was introduced in 1993 and provides an experience for kids to pay 25 cents for a gumball. It's essentially a slot machine for kids where they'll get a quarter from their parents for a gumball. Watch the gumball go around and out the bottom of the machine and then ask their parents for another quarter.

The Wizard Gumball Machine is a great example of the progression of economic value that all commodities go through. Today, most goods are commoditized to price and services are being commoditized. Goods and services are no longer enough. To differentiate your product or service, you need to move to a new level by staging experiences for customers providing a distinct economic offering.

Create a memory which is the hallmark of the experience. Experiences are where we need to innovate.

Starbucks has driven innovation in the coffee drinking experience = Starbucks and now Nespresso is attempting to do the same thing by getting coffee drinkers to prepare their daily breakfast drink at home with the tagline, "the best café is your café." Nespresso innovated the capsule system. They designed their Nespresso machines to be an experience, and they innovated in their stores – a.k.a., espresso boutiques. They provide a service with an espresso club which replenishes your supply before you run out.

Coffee is a great example of the progression of commoditization. The grower of the beans gets two or three cents for the beans necessary for a cup of coffee. Maxwell house gets 10 to 15 cents a cup for providing a product. While the Starbucks experience is anywhere from three to seven dollars a cup.

Disney is the world’s experience stager. If selling B2B you need to provide an experience. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is Disney for adults. Case Construction Equipment has an "Experience Center" in Tomahawk, Wisconsin where prospects can come and try the equipment in a veritable playground for construction equipment. According to Case, 20% of prospects that go to a dealer close. The close rate is 80% if the prospect goes to Tomahawk.

We’re living in an experience economy – design accordingly. Provide distinctive experiences. Make the customer's life simpler, easier and better. Distinctive experiences are memorable, reach inside, engage, create memories the customer wants to share with others.

Convenience is the antithesis of this. Services are about time well saved. More and more people spend time and money on experiences they enjoy – they value the time they spend with you = time well spent.

Las Vegas is the epicenter of the experience economy. The iPhone is the antithesis of the digital experience economy. Once you get the iPhone in your hands you customize it with your contacts, pictures, email accounts, and apps. Everyone's iPhone is unremittingly unique. That's the power of customization, it turns a good into a service.

If you customize a service you are providing an experience – a memorable experience. Progressive Insurance takes a negative experience of coming to your accident and delivering you a check on the spot along with a rental car thereby turning a horrible experience into a positive and memorable one.

We have been living in the age of mass customization. We have a portfolio of customers and everyone is unique. We offer a portfolio of capabilities. Customers get what they want at a price they are willing to pay. Anything you can digitize you can customize. That’s how you lower your cost – only give the customer what they want, nothing else, don’t overwhelm with too many choices

Know who everyone is to mass customize around each individual guest. Creating a learning relationship with every interaction. Learn > Customize > Benefit > Innovate.

If you don’t stage experiences for individual customers you will be commoditized.

Tags: CX, customer service, customer experience

How Analytics Can Help You Improve Your Customer Experience

Posted by Kayleigh Alexandra on Mon, Aug, 13, 2018 @ 12:08 PM

Image credit: Pixabay

 

The importance of exceptional customer experience (otherwise known as CX) continues to rise proportionately alongside usability standards and the surfeit of consumer options in the ecommerce world. Today, any given site must contend with more viable rivals than ever before, and provide a level of functionality that would have been top-end just a few years ago.

 

To adapt to this hotly-competitive marketplace, retailers must consistently identify and implement improvements, whether to their content, their technical configuration, or their operational procedures — and improvement wouldn’t be possible without digital analytics.

 

It is rich digital analytics that can tell you not only how your business is performing but also how each segment of your setup is contributing to the whole, and if you’re planning to bolster your CX, you should start by delving into your analytics. Here’s how they can help:

Attributing value

For ecommerce, product value is obvious and easy to follow. The price is on the page, and an order logs a set value on the system — simple. But what about the value of everything that goes into yielding that order? What is a lead worth, or a form submission? What kind of traffic matters the most?

 

Using your analytics platform, you can create custom goals with values of their own to make the distribution of value through the sales funnel infinitely more understandable. For instance, if you can see from the stats that 1 out of every 100 Twitter visits results in an order, and that the average value of an order from a Twitter referral is $100, you can attribute the value of $1 to each Twitter visit.

 

Why is this important for customer experience? Because it allows you to direct your attention where it matters. While customer experience should surpass a certain baseline of quality across the board, it’s perfectly rational to work harder to keep the most valuable customers happy, and being able to see a clear value split that takes your whole funnel into account will equip you to allocate your people-pleasing work accordingly.

Highlighting weak points

Since everyone likes and dislikes different website elements, personal tastes gets involved in websites assessments far too commonly. Perhaps a developer personally feels that a particular piece of content is underwhelming, and concludes that it needs to be removed or reworked — but the system isn’t there for the staff, it’s there for the users.

 

Assuming correct configuration, analytics will make it abundantly clear which parts of the site are working effectively and which are driving people away. Simply looking at a page funnel will quickly and unambiguously indicate which pages are losing customer interest and which are performing excellently.

 

Armed with that awareness, you can then commit time and resources to shoring up the overall chain by rehabilitating the worst performers, knowing that the investment is fully justified (as opposed to making improvements on a whim and hoping that they’ll prove significant). Since there’s no such thing as a perfect digital design, working efficiently is essential.

Revealing demographic information

If you’ve previously glossed over your analytics, then you’ll have a very unclear notion of the people using your website. You might even have extrapolated wildly-inaccurate notions of your user base from occasional support tickets, direct enquiries, or social media mentions. And if you don’t know who’s using your website, how you can provide them with an optimized experience? Beyond the basics, difference demographics have markedly different preferences.

 

By installing Google Analytics (or using an existing installation, as is more likely given the ubiquity of the software), you can take a deep dive into your metrics and find out more information about the people who spend time on your site. You can then glean insight from the commonalities about what you need to do (you may be best served using an integration-rich webstore package to start from scratch, or you may need only minor adjustments).

 

Here’s an example: the older your user base skews, the more important it will be to provide accessibility features (such as adjustable font sizes and robust support sections) and legacy compatibility (ensuring that your site is functional in old versions of Internet Explorer, etc.). However you achieve it, you must attune your system to those who’ll ultimately use it.

Identifying opportunities

Analytics grant tremendous insight into user searches, pulling data from on-site search systems and external search engines (albeit to a lesser extent in the case of the latter), and that insight is invaluable for plotting your future content and feature updates. Every case of a user searching on your site for something that isn’t there is an opportunity for growth.

 

And the prospective expansion might not even require all-new content. Suppose that your analytics showed that many of the visitors to your site were searching for a non-existent guide to using one of your products. Since product pages often feature basic instructional information as it is, there’s a good chance that you’d be able to quickly throw together a decent guide using existing copy and images, and plug that search gap with minimal effort.

 

In some cases, you may not have a clear idea of what your users are looking for with particular searches, but then your analytics data can serve as a jumping-off point for some community consultation. Reach out to your customers through social media, your website, and/or email surveying and ask them what improvements they’d make, then align the feedback with the analytics for confirmation.

 

Trying to create a great customer experience without taking full advantage of analytics is like trying to complete a puzzle in the dark. It’s technically possible, but extraordinarily unlikely, and you won’t even know if you achieve it. Only through keeping a close eye on the data can you achieve the consistent improvements that deliver consistent results.

 

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to keeping people informed about everything relating to entrepreneurial ambition and online startups. Check it out for the latest insights and stories, and follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

 

Tags: customer experience, CX, big data

The Five Senses of the Brain

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 10, 2018 @ 13:08 PM

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As a student of consumer insights, I am fascinated with the findings of NeuroFocus in “The Buying Brain” by Dr. A.K. Pradeep.

Here’s how the five senses are related to buying:

Vision

About one-fourth of the brain is involved in visual processing.  The easiest and most successful way to capture the brain’s attention is through great visuals.  Be sure nothing obscures you customer’s view of what they are scanning for.  Overly tall shelves that obscure the landscapes behind them, signage with dense text and no visuals, and narrow aisles all detract from your product and frustrate the brain.  To avoid being lost in the clutter, emphasize clean clear  lines delivered at eye level.  This affirms what designers have told us for years — white space if good!  For signage, outdoor and print ads place the object you are selling at the top of the ad.  Use puzzles that are easy to solve to draw in and entice the brain.  Brains will discount information that is incongruent with the visual stimuli it receives.

Smell

While only one percent of our brain is devoted to smell, smells are strongly linked to our emotions and memory.  Always take into account the smell of your offering.  Even if it’s the best tasting product in the category, it will fail in the marketplace if the package causes it to smell fake or plastic.  Women are more sensitive to smells than men and are far better at putting words to olfactory experiences.  Whereby men are particularly  sensitive to the smells of their beloved, perhaps correlating with the popularity of perfume for women.  Smell is the most direct route to our emotions and memory.  Being linked to a pleasant, iconic smell can significantly improve a product’s success in the marketplace.

Taste

Taste tends to correlate with smell.  If the sense of smell is lost, there is a serious reduction in the overall taste experience (i.e., flavor).  Anytime you show an appetizing product, be sure the consumer can see someone enjoying it.  Give food and beverages a visual “voice.”  Don’t display fake items around food, they detract from the realism and thus the appetite of the consumer for the product.  Tasting is one of the brain’s great pleasures hence the number of food brands offering taste samples in the retail environment.

Hearing

Hearing is vital to survival but it also allows us to generate deep nostalgic memories associated with highly emotional moments accompanied by sound.  We mark our traditional passages (e.g., weddings, funerals and graduations) with music.  The sounds your product makes and the background “noise” of the shopping environment are critical to the image of your brand.  Likewise, the sounds that accompany the user experience are critical to its enjoyment and to retention in memory.  What we hear is specialized and tuned to what interests us.  The brain will ignore distracting or disturbing noises.

Touch

Our largest sensory organ is our skin.  The most sensitive area of our body are our hands, lips, face, neck, tongue, fingertips and feet.  Products that touch those areas should be soft, sensual, pleasant, soothing and inviting.  We are sensual beings that loved to be touched.  Any product or service that is tactile must excite and invite the sense of touch.

Which of the five senses can you leverage to improve the results of your marketing?

 

Tags: scent marketing, consumer insights

Is There Still Money To Be Made With SEO?

Posted by Jennifer Dawson on Fri, Jun, 15, 2018 @ 09:06 AM

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Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

 

SEO has been at the forefront of the marketing sphere and web development for many years now. Some business owners have started to question the relevance and effectiveness of investing in either in-house SEO experts or outsourcing SEO tactics to an external agency. However, the Internet is still the fastest, easiest way to reach audiences, and there is still plenty of money to be made by employing strategic SEO practices.

In fact, so many companies in the U.S. have recognized the value in SEO, that leading annual SEO spending has increased steadily every year over the past decade - from $11.44 billion in 2008 to $72.02 billion in 2018. Even though digital marketing strategies like social media are now the hot topic of marketing teams, start-ups and small business owners recognize the massive value in cutting-edge SEO practices. On average, Google processes 40,000 search inquiries per second—adding up to 3.5 billion searches every single day. Clearly, your ideal audience’s online experience will likely begin and end based on your website or brand’s SEO, making it more important now to your profitability than ever before.

How SEO Has Shifted in the Past Few Years

Focusing on SEO best practices is essential for boosting your overall profitability, but the way you approach SEO must reflect the most up-to-date standards in order to make money. In the past, it was enough to simply publish webpages with the knowledge that it would build back-end visibility in organic search engines queries, leading to new paying customers and leads. Now, major search engines like Google have become more strategic in ranking websites so as to reduce the amount of regurgitated, fake or false content.

Just as the search engines have become increasingly strategic, your business must also delegate SEO tactics to experts that are aware of the best practices of this year. Though it is exciting that the Internet is always evolving, this means that marketers and SEO experts must stay on top of their game and be sure to incorporate the latest trends, software, and processes to their strategies in order to rake in the big bucks. The SEO practices that worked in 2016 simply do not work anymore—it is no longer about generating as much web content as possible. Instead, being in touch with current trends—such as creating long-form, keyword-rich content that can be disseminated through various inbound strategies—is critical to your company’s SEO, profitability, and overall web presence.

What Your SEO Strategy Must Now Encompass

To remain current and increase your sales, there are several updates to SEO best practices that you must be aware of. One is Google’s mobile-first indexing, which began in 2016 and continues today. Google’s mobile-first index allows Google to give content that performs best on mobile devices a higher ranking. Page load speed is therefore extremely important, so be sure to check your image sizes and browser caching before you send out content online.

Another change to SEO is that you can no longer rely entirely on back links to boost your rating on search engines. Instead, optimizing your content should be the foundation of your strategy for link building. Return links are simply not as important anymore as unique, idea-driven content is. If you have engaging content to share, chances are this content will be noticed by industry leaders—who may even share the content themselves, adding real value to your brand.

Although the best practices for SEO has shifted in recent years, it is still a highly relevant and paying technique for business owners and marketing teams to take into consideration in order to grow a company’s visibility and brand online.

Tags: SEO

The Rising Role of Email Analytics in Events Management

Posted by Jennifer Dawson on Fri, Jun, 08, 2018 @ 08:06 AM

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Photo by Slim Emcee (UG) the poet Truth_From_Africa_Photography on Unsplash

 

Big data is shaking up the business world, with revenue expected to quadruple from $33.5 billion in 2017 to around $134 billion in 2021. Despite this, most of this revenue comes from IT and tech companies, with traditional businesses struggling to wrap their heads around the analytics. If your company is in events management, then you need to start using big data to inform decisions if you wish to get ahead of the competition. Your Google SEO plan should begin with email, since this is the most effective way to advertise events services. You can improve results by investing in big data and crunching the numbers to help boost profits.

 

Emailing the Right People

Marketing experts agree that email has the greatest return on investment, ahead of social media marketing. When selling your events services, you are more likely to receive a customer through their email inbox than by taking out a paid Google or Facebook ad. However, you need to analyze the market trends in order to ensure you are reaching the right people.

 

Only a subsection of people will be interested in the events that you can provide, so don’t waste your time emailing everyone. Check the data to see which kind of people are opening your emails. The chances are, it is people who already previously expressed an interest in your service. Analysing the data allows you to pinpoint your market and target your emails more narrowly.

 

Beating the Spam Filter

Another factor big data analysis can reveal is whether your emails are getting through. You could be putting together a brilliant events newsletter with all your best offers and sending them to interested parties, but they may fall at the last hurdle and end up in the junk folder. You can adjust your marketing strategy to determine what increases delivery success rates. If you specialize in weddings, you’ll need a different strategy to a business which organizes festivals.

 

Emails should generally only be sent to potential customers who actively opted in to your services. The newsletter should then have an easy, one-click unsubscribe option. This will help the algorithms to view your email as not spam. Giving the option for users to opt out ensures you are targeting your emails more efficiently towards people interested in the events you offer.

 

Studying Action Rates

Finally, analytics will allow you to see your action rate statistics. Are you aware of how many emails it takes to get a click onto your website? Big data will tell you this. It will also reveal how changing a marketing strategy affects results.

 

For instance, you may find that scheduling your emails to go out in the spring is more effective for advertising weddings, but won’t be clicked on by people looking for events around the winter olympics. You can also view how other factors affect action rate. Perhaps some subject lines work better than others or including special offers at the top is more appealing than having it hidden in the text.

 

Events management is a changing industry and it needs to keep up with the tech giants. Big data suppliers and analytics tools are out there to help anyone with a digital marketing team. Use email for the greatest return on investment and use analytics to effectively target the right people and increase the chance of events business succeeding.

 

Likewise you need to deliver a great customer experience so consider what trade show decorators you will use to communicate a consistent brand message.

Tags: keywords, SEO, email

How Important is Live Chat? (Infographic)

Posted by Websitebuilder on Tue, Jun, 05, 2018 @ 16:06 PM

Nowadays, everything moves forward with the help of technology, so in order to be up to date with the latest trends, companies started using a software called LiveChat. Launched in 2002, LiveChat is an online customer service which offers you support and also web analytics. 
 
The online shopping market is worth more than $1.9 trillion, so being in touch with the potential customers is of utmost importance. That's why over 21,000 companies from 118 countries, aware of how much customer service is important, opted to use LiveChat. Amazon, XBOX, Nordstrom, The Bank of America, etc., are among the most famous brands that use this software.
 
According to the American Marketing Association, quality live chat applications for B2B businesses in the US increases conversions by at least 20%. 
 
The customers are the ones spreading a good word about a company and by using LiveChat the companies gain the trust of the customers. People want to buy from companies which have a good reputation because they expect that the product they chose would justify the amount of money they paid.
 
Cutting costs is another benefit that the companies will have, since it is less expensive than phone support by 400%, and the average chat agents can do the work of 15 email support employees. 
 
A fun fact is that companies get the option to see what the customers are writing even before they send the message. 
 
We can summarize that having a really good customer service is quite important for a company and LiveChat is the most convenient to customers. 
 
Please, feel free to read more interesting facts in the infographic that follows. 

livechat

Tags: CX, omnichannel marketing and customer service, integrated marketing, customer service

6 Ways to Empower Your Employees to Be More Productive

Posted by Sylvia Giltner on Sun, Jun, 03, 2018 @ 16:06 PM

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Being a manager or a team leader can be difficult to process. While you are in charge of a group of people and have the place of authority, you also have a duty to your employees. In most cases, productivity and employee motivation is a direct reflection of their manager’s mood, experience and overall character.

This can make it difficult for young, inexperienced managers to effectively motivate employees to be engaged and  productive. Luckily, employee motivation isn’t anything new in the corporate world, so let’s take a look at some actionable and effective tips that can help you raise productivity and morale across the board.

  1. It’s not about the money

It’s true that we work for money and the ability to sustain ourselves in a modern capitalist society. However, most employees are unmotivated and lack productivity for very different reasons.

Low salary is very rarely the reason for a lack of productivity, which means you should steer clear of “bribing” employees with bonuses. Instead, communicate your displeasure with their overall (not individual) productivity.

Don’t point fingers at anyone (even if you might know who the real detractors are) and focus on the bigger picture instead. Emphasize you are also an employee like themselves and you are there for them if they need you. This will create a good starting point for your relationship and a foundation upon which productivity can be restored.

  1. Happiness versus Motivation

Don’t misinterpret employee happiness with motivation and productivity. For example, if you give your employees a box of chocolate each, they will be happier – but not more productive.

Productivity is often associated with professional development, working environment dissatisfaction, coworker misunderstandings, too much overtime, etc. It’swise to openly discuss these topics with your employees in order to determine what the real issue is.

Remember you are also under the microscope of your own manager or CEO. If the employees aren’t productive, the results will reflect that, after which you will have to explain what is going on. Make sure to have the right answers for your own boss and start communicating with your coworkers as soon as possible.

  1. Be a role-model

As we’ve mentioned before, managers and team leaders are often seen as role-models. Your coworkers, employees and office staff will most likely have aspirations for professional development. This means that they will pay close attention to the way you walk, talk and act with those inferior to you (professionally speaking).

Veronica Wright, CEO of ResumesCentre says: “The better the managers are at their own work, the better their employees will be for it”. Make sure to arm everyone with relevant company information, take your position and job description seriously, as well as smile to everyone. Sometimes all it takes is to look in the mirror and ask yourself what “you” are doing wrong instead of looking for a culprit on the office floor.

  1. Voicing concerns

It’s quite common for employees to keep their mouths shut when they have something to say – the prospect of being punished is too much to handle. This means that there is often a lot left unsaid and coworker relations tend to tense and buckle under the pressure.

People that don’t talk to each other will often work poorly together, not to mention the fact that important projects rest on their shoulders. Try implementing a feedback-oriented working environment in your office starting with yourself. There is no better way to break the ice than to simply start from your own experiences, thoughts and fears.

Employees that share common issues, goals and clear the air through professional communication are far more likely to be productive. While it may seem silly for grownup people to share thoughts around the table, clearing the air like this can completely transform your office’s workflow.

  1. Level the playfield

Most office conflicts stem from misunderstandings between employees and management. Managers often forget where they started their career while employees constantly claim their managers doesn’t understand them.

This catch-22 is quite common in the corporate world and is a root cause of poor productivity, low retention rates and a lack of morale. Managers that want to boost their employees’ productivity should work to leveling the playing field between management and employees. Remember you are all employees of the same company – the difference is only in your job description.

If you claim that you are “better” than your staff, it will likely end in a disaster. Pull up a chair, ask your employees how they feel today and ask them if they need help. Chances are that their eyes will widen with disbelief at first, which will lead to a much healthier professional relationship between you.

  1. Showcase and reward

Lastly, it’s important to share in your successes and take responsibility for your failures. The best and most beloved managers know when to reward someone and when to take the blame. Pointing fingers when going gets tough and claiming the rewards when it strikes gold will quickly erode your employees’ morale and productivity.

Be the example that your employees can really look up to and try to reward their productivity in small but significant ways. Even an “employee of the week” system with a collective clap from everyone can drastically brighten the mood.

James Scott, CEO of EssaySupply notes: “Do what you can to make sure that your employees feel important and that they matter to the company. This is the best way to increase productivity and company loyalty across the board. It will not only make your results shine but also put you in good graces with your own manager for the good work you have done.”

 

Long-form empowerment (Conclusion)

Employee empowerment only works if you take definitive action – a long-term commitment with a constant risk of failure. However, being on good terms with the people you work with is worth fighting for.

You will not only bring good results to your company but also create friendships with the people you work with. Being casually professional can work just as being strict and to-the-letter. Make sure to strike a good balance and be there for your employees when they need you.

Tags: empowerment, employee empowerment, employee engagement, loyal employees