Tag: The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

How to Manage Marketing Campaigns like a Financial Currency Trader

KPIs are due EOD.

Profit and loss statements need to be generated.

Budget status updates have been requested.

Juggling multiple marketing campaigns is stressful. But more importantly, it’s also incredibly risky.

Soon enough, you’ve depleted your budget to the last few cents, and you have nothing to show for it.

Or worse, you didn’t spot the right trends in a successful tactic before spending too much on the underperforming ones.

And now you don’t have enough money to re-allocate to top-tier mediums.

Curiously enough, adopting the same methodical mindset of a financial currency trader can help you better manage results.

Here’s how.

Start With a Currency Arbitrage Mindset

Here’s the problem with digital marketing.

It changes every day. Old stuff gives way to new stuff.

And you never really know how a campaign will perform until you try it.

That saying (1) is unhelpful and (2) requires extra money to experiment with potentially budget-draining activities.

But it’s true.

You really don’t know which playbook, game plan, or actionable tip is going to work until you experiment. The stuff that worked last year almost certainly won’t work the same this year.

Not to mention that every business is structured differently. Each caters to diverse audiences. So copying your competitors or that awesome tactic you read about is also out.

What works for Company X might bankrupt Company Z.

If there were set-in-stone tactics that produced million-dollar businesses overnight, every dude on GrowthHackers.org would be rich.

PPC might be amazing for your friend’s business. But that doesn’t mean investing in PPC is instantly going to turn you into the next Zuckerberg.

So where do people turn when they hit this realization? A/B testing.

You all know those case studies that promise a mythical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

I did X and generated a 40000000000% increase in conversions!

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s not that far off.

Most A/B tests fail, though.

They take too long to get results. Plus that whole “bias” thing. And of course, sample size.

You need a minimum of 1,000 conversions monthly for statistical significance.

So what should you do instead?

Implement a currency arbitrage mindset.

Currency arbitrage is a strategy in which the trader takes advantage of different spreads offered by brokers for a particular currency pair by making trades.

Different spreads imply a gap between the bid and ask prices. Meaning, they can buy and sell pairs to make more money.

What does this mean in English?

Place lots of small bets on different tactics, channels, platforms, and mediums so that you can evaluate their effectiveness in real-time.

Once you see specific trends developing (either positive or negative), you double down on the winners and cut your losses on the rest.

This way, you can test multiple experiments at once without the bias and lack of statistical significance that comes with A/B testing.

You get in and out fast. And you come out on the other side with specific campaigns to focus on rather than a mixed bag.

For example, you can’t always control the end result. But you can control the inputs that eventually get you there. And you can monitor, forecast, or predict where those will fall based on just a few days’ worth of performance.

Then, you can fine tune and adjust each ‘level’ accordingly to squeeze out the best results.

Adjusting Your Budget Based on Market Movement

The first banner advertisement ever appeared on HotWired in 1994.

Look at this gem:

Image Source

By today’s standards, it looks like a joke, right?

Is that tie-dye? Yes, yes it is.

But it gets worse:

See that subliminal “YOU WILL” message on the right???

Super subtle. Lord have mercy on us all.

But guess what?

This banner ad debuted with a click-through rate of 78%.

Yes, you read that right. Seventy. Eight. Percent.

If you told any marketer today that your banner ads are getting a 78% CTR, you’d get laughed out of the room.

Why? It’s inconceivable. It’s probably impossible in today’s world.

Today, the average display ad CTR is 0.05%.

Image Source

This all brings me back to one concept coined by Andrew Chen:

The law of shitty click-throughs:

All marketing strategies over time will result in shitty click-through rates.

As more and more people use these tactics, the market becomes saturated.

Users get sick of it, and they don’t click. Or they go banner blind.

You can see trends that follow this concept with almost any marketing activity.

Remember the good old days when Facebook organic reach was insane?

You paid nothing and reached thousands or millions of eager users.

Now, organic reach is almost nothing:

Image Source

As more and more marketers use the concepts put in place, it results in fewer and fewer results.

This is a perfect example of market movement and active management in currency trading.

You can’t hold certain trades forever and expect exponential performance.

Just because something is generating an insane ROI now, doesn’t mean you can ride it off into the sunset.

Markets are constantly shifting, just like marketing tactics.

What was hot one day (banner ads) isn’t now.

If you don’t adjust your strategy based on analytic research and forecasts, you risk declining performances associated with passive management.

Passive management is when you sit idly by and attempt to cruise to the finish line on your current strategy.

Active management relies on analytical performance data over time to spot trends and make informed decisions about what needs to change.

If you notice a decline in organic reach on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t be dumping your campaign dollars into it.

Unfortunately, us marketers (including me) fall into this trap more often than we’d like to admit.

You log in to Google AdWords or Analytics and see some great conversion data:

Your plans are working as you’d hoped.

But that doesn’t mean you can sit back and let the good times roll.

Sure, you can do that for a little bit. But over time, as markets, tactics, and consumers shift, you’ve gotta take an active role in managing campaigns.

Adjust based on trends.

A great way to do this is by analyzing specific topics on Google Trends:

Or even keeping up to date with the latest studies on popular marketing tactics by conducting a basic Google search:

Stay up-to-date with market movement and look at the underlying trends or patterns. Because when people are blogging about it, tweeting it, favoriting it, or liking it, it’s already too late.

Be Cautious in a Bull Market

When everything is running smoothly, it’s referred to as a bull market.

Investor confidence and financial optimism are at an all-time high.

On the surface, everything is running like a well-oiled machine.

Unemployment is low. The economy’s GDP is growing steadily. Stocks are rising.

And your marketing tactics are getting more traction.

But with all of this surface-based optimism comes serious potential side effects:

It now becomes difficult to predict potential shifts and trends or when tactics might change.

Facebook’s organic reach was booming just a few years ago. Until, of course, it didn’t.

Image Source

Now? Good luck. We’ve crapped out.

There is actually a pretty easy explanation for it. Simple supply vs. demand.

User growth is slowing while the number of content pieces has exploded exponentially. Too much supply, not enough demand.

Guess what’s going to repeat now on Instagram?

Right now it’s the place to be for your content. Just give it a minute.

And don’t get swept up by the bull market.

Find your own Big Short

Have you ever seen The Big Short?

If not, I highly recommend it. It’s a great movie.

Not just because it’s an incredible, intense account of the 2005 housing crisis.

Mainly because it features Steve Carell:

via GIPHY

Inspirational as always, Prison Mike.

In all seriousness, it’s a great movie that heavily relates to digital marketing.

The main concept of the movie was based on the true story of Michael Burry, a hedge fund manager who shorted the housing crisis of 2005.

He believed there was a housing bubble, leading him to short sell and bet against the banks who thought he was a chump, taking his deals like candy.

The idea of short selling is motivated by the belief that a security’s price will decline, enabling it to be bought back at a lower price point for maximum profit.

And people thought Michael (Burry, not Prison) was insane.

Who in their right mind bets against the housing market when prices are nearly doubling year after year?

But Burry noticed a few troubling trends. He saw that subprime home loans were in danger of defaulting. And many adjustable rate mortgages with balloon payments were all adjusting around the same time.

He decided to throw more than one billion dollars into credit default swaps.

It’s safe to say that the banks weren’t too happy in the end.

Here’s the moral of the story:

Very few people believed him. But Burry discovered the mystical unicorn that most marketers strive to find.

The main point as it relates to marketing campaigns is this:

You need to find your own big short.

Your own diamond in the rough that you can tap into before anyone else.

Your own display ad invention that generates a 78% CTR.

Finding the tactic that brings your conversions up by 10x.

Sounds wonderful. But you know it’s not easy. Because it hasn’t been blogged about or shared at conferences just yet.

But examples of it do already exist in the marketing world today.

For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko raised the link-building bar with his skyscraper technique.

He took a spin on a classic link-building tactic that increased his search traffic by 110% in just two weeks.

Image Source

On top of a massive increase in traffic, he generated countless backlinks from thousands of different referring domains:

referring domains from backlinko blog postImage Source

He effectively took his link-building strategy to the next level by going against the grain.

He didn’t sit back and ride the wave of guest blogging or other outdated, declining strategies.

He found his own big short.

While small marketing tactics like A/B testing and creating new ads or creative for your campaigns is a step in the right direction, it isn’t the end-all-be-all. Small bets don’t move the needle.

They merely help you figure out if you’re on the right track (or not). And help to show you when it’s time to go all-in.

Conclusion

Managing marketing campaigns is a stressful task.

Big, splashy, high-budget campaigns have high expectations. Bosses and clients expect big, lofty performance to go with it.

Money can get away from you fast if you aren’t careful.

Even worse, you can get so caught up in data that you miss the right trends.

Trends that tell you which aspects of your campaign are winning and which are losing.

Instead of flying blind or crossing your fingers, think like a financial currency trader.

Analyze the data with a currency arbitrage mindset. Keep up with market movement by taking an active management role in your campaigns. Be cautious in a bull market when everyone’s saying the same things.

And don’t be afraid to bet big when the time comes.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/financial-currency-trader/

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What Happens When Your Startup is Acquired by a Big-Name Brand?

Editor’s Note: Jeff Seibert spoke at Stanford University to discuss what he learned by building and selling startups. This post is a summarization of the talk.

It finally happened. Your promising little startup finally found its niche, got noticed, and got acquired by a big-name technology company. So what’s next? One need only look at Jeff Seibert, former senior product director at Twitter, to learn valuable lessons about how to proceed when your startup is acquired by a larger brand.

Jeff’s first company, Increo, was sold to Box in 2009. His second startup, Crashlytics, was sold to Twitter in 2013, and then, when he became the senior product director at Twitter, he got to see things from the other side of the table. What happens from the big brand’s perspective? How is the startup integrated as smoothly as possible? Jeff played a major role in several notable Twitter deals as well – Periscope being the largest of those. Here are just a few of the many lessons he learned.

Start by Building Tools to Help People

Increo was a company founded on the sharing of ideas and collaboration. The company’s first product Feedbackr, was build around the simple premise of uploading a document, and then getting feedback on those ideas and making changes to the file accordingly. Feedbackr was designed during Seibert’s senior year of college, and was launched in May – just a few weeks before graduation.

The product was featured on TechCrunch, where it enjoyed an initial spike of traffic, and then flat-lined. Seibert mistakenly thought that getting showcased on TechCrunch was their big break into the world of startups — but it was only the first step on what would become a long and ever-changing journey.

Throughout that summer, Seibert and his team continued to work on and refine the product – eventually paving the way for it to accept 100 different file formats — a feat that was fairly complex for the time. Since everything was in real-time, people could be drawing on the document while others left comments and notes. The product was immensely popular with freelancers, but never really broke the 20,000 user mark.

Back to the Drawing Board

The pressure was on to keep the company afloat. Despite over three dozen interviews around Silicon Valley to acquire funding, nothing was happening. Keep in mind that this was 2009, a time when investors were wary of spending a lot anyway because of the lessons learned from the first dot-com bubble burst.

The team went back to the drawing board to look at their core product. There were lots of companies out there that dealt in documents, but very few of them would let you display those documents in the browser, much less add markup and such to them. So the team theorized that instead of having a standalone product – they could partner with other companies to allow their document conversion to power their own platform.

Not a Partnership – An Acquisition

The companies that Seibert and his team approached had a few notable constraints. They wanted exclusive use of the technology and they had to be able to host it themselves, since using a third party would’ve opened them up to all kinds of legal snafus.

Jeff and his team stepped back — realizing this looked a lot less like partnership and more like an acquisition. Suddenly, offers were on the table. Pros and cons were quickly hashed out, and some really pertinent issues percolated to the top. Most importantly:

  • The technology had to be right – One of the companies Seibert was considering used Ruby on Rails to power their platform, whereas Feedbackr used Java. It would take over a year to rewrite the product.
  • The culture had to be a good fit – If the company culture isn’t quite right — for example, the business is older and set in their ways about how to do things, it may not work out to everyone’s benefit.
  • The roadmap for the future had to be clear – One of the companies was looking to build a presence in the Wiki space, whereas the team at Feedbackr really didn’t see the potential or the purpose.
  • The company had to have growth – A company that was fairly stagnated wouldn’t show much promise for the future of the product. They had to need the product as much as the product needed them.
  • The product had to be scalable – Where would the product be five years from now? Could it grow to accommodate demand?

All of these questions helped the Increo team rule out different offers before finally being acquired by Box. Not only was Feedbackr Seibert’s first experience with having a company acquired, but it was also Box’s first experience acquiring another startup.

Making Up for Lost Technology

One of the biggest lessons Seibert (and Box) learned from this acquisition was that even though the deal was small and simple, they couldn’t afford to rest on their laurels. Other companies, like Crocodoc, were leveraging new technology to make document conversions and previews even more user and technology-friendly. Not one to be left behind, Box purchased them as well.

If you’re the purchaser – the one place you don’t want to find yourself in is making up for lost technology — by concentrating too much on what you have, and not what else is out there, it gives your competition time to seize upon something newer and fresher — and being an afterthought is not what you want to be.

Ideas in Sync

Jeff’s second product was actually born out of a frustration with the complexity of syncing systems together. After some time working with document previewing technology, he began working on Box’s sync project to help users keep versions of files neatly synced up and updated. Working on systems to make this happen is highly complex, buggy and cumbersome. These kinds of clients crashed constantly — which in turn lead to the idea of Crashlytics.

In short, Crashlytics detected crashes and uploaded reports to the server. In the beginning, it was cryptic at best, but through further refinement, the process could be automated: detect when the crash happened, where it happened, and save it to the server. As you might imagine, developers and programmers loved the idea — the waiting list was long and people couldn’t stop talking about it.

Happy Tweets

One of Crashlytics big brand customers was Twitter. They became very attached to the technology and used it in their apps. So focused were they on how useful Crashlytics was that they continued to invite the team to come out to their headquarters and consider working for Twitter. Seibert and his team had no intention of leaving Crashlytics or even selling it to Twitter. They were 100% focused on their own goals and creating a product that people loved.

With a bit more prodding, a few of the Crashlytics team, including Jeff, met with Twitter executives. That’s when it became apparent that Twitter had a set vision for the future of mobile and software development kits — a vision that perfectly gelled with Crashlytics own vision. Here was this complete strategic alignment that meshed together so fully that it was impossible to deny.

Yet Crashlytics was still its own company. Twitter invested heavily in the company and helped them further build and refine their own product, while the Crashlytics team helped Twitter reinvent their brand and rework their focus on bringing in the very developers that helped make Twitter great.

So here you have one person with two very different acquisition perspectives — one of having their product become part of another brand that needed what they had created, and another where the result is less of an acquisition and more of a “melding of the minds” to create something bigger and better than either could have done alone.

What Big Companies Look For in Startups

Beyond the cultural and technology fit, as well as future plans, there’s the team. It may sound like a small and insignificant piece of the puzzle, as there are countless highly qualified individuals out there. But they must be willing to work within the established company’s culture and brand.

Can they build a solution that’s powerful, scalable, and elegant to solve a pressing need? Have they already built such a solution? And perhaps most importantly, can they, and the solution they’ve built, help win over this market? There’s a big focus on building a team that’s highly energized, highly intelligent and highly productive. The people are what makes the product, and the product is what solves the need. If some of these things aren’t in alignment or agreement, the deal doesn’t happen — which is more often than not.

That’s right. According to Seibert, almost all deals fail. This is just something you come to expect as you do it a few times. From the startup’s point of view, you can’t afford to be burnt out, tired or simply floating about day-to-day, unsure of where or how to best spend your energy. From the company’s point of view, they can’t afford to invest in something that’s just a hobby or an experiment. They need a long-term solution because they have strategies in place both today and well into the future. If both groups aren’t completely committed – things are not going to end well.

Striking the right balance is the bottom line. Making sure everyone is clear and amenable about the path forward is what’s going to make or break an acquisition. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t — and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Have you been part of a startup that has been acquired, or were you the one involved in the acquisition? We’d love to hear your perspective on buying, selling or valuing a startup. Share your thoughts and comments with us below!

About the Authors: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/acquired-by-a-big-name-brand/

8 Overlooked Social Media Tactics That Can Increase Conversion Rates

“Wash. Condition. Rinse. Repeat.” Sound familiar? It’s a common morning routine. And we all know how things run when we settle into a comfortable routine: it feels like life is on autopilot.

Sometimes, that works. However, you might perform your routine so well that you forget to look for improvements. Perhaps your hair would look better without conditioner, but if you never stop to question your routine, you’ll keep going down the same path. You’ll be stagnant.

The same logic applies to your social media strategy. It’s easy to repeat the tactics that have worked well for you so far, generating a little bit of buzz and keeping you hooked into what’s happening on Twitter.

But are you just going through the motions without considering how you can use social media to improve conversion rates?

If you’ve been using the same social media strategies for ages and your impact has leveled off, it’s probably time to review your goals and make sure that your social media tactics are increasing conversion rates, building brand awareness, and bringing in new customers.

Here’s how.

1. Double Down on One (or Two) Channels That Work For You– And Share Videos

Let’s face it: Internet users are addicted to video, and that’s great for publishers and marketers.

On average, Facebook users devour 100 million hours of video every single day. About 82% of Twitter users watch video on that particular medium. Marketers are also seeing positive results with LinkedIn Video, which was introduced this past August to help users introduce themselves, explain their professional processes, or reach out to new people.

If you want to increase conversion rates on social media, double down on the channels that are already working for you. For example, if you see more engagement on Twitter than you do on LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to direct your efforts on Twitter.

After we saw higher engagement with Facebook videos, especially the one about the three essential ​WordPress plugins for websites, we narrowed ​our targeting ​to ​people ​that are ​interested ​in ​WordPress ​as a ​software ​and ​those ​who ​work ​in ​IT ​industry such as the ​web ​developers ​or ​freelancers. As the result, we’re able to ​reach ​more ​potential ​customers ​and ​generated ​immediate page ​likes ​and ​engagements, increasing ​the ​average ​daily ​registrations by 71%.

2. Use Thoughtful, Conversion-Oriented Social Sharing Buttons

Many publishers simply work hard to create content and trust that readers will figure out how to share their content. However, it’s easy for publishers to integrate compelling social sharing buttons onto their blogs– and these easy-to-click buttons help drive virality.

That’s why it’s crucial for publishers to optimize their social sharing buttons to drive more content engagement. But before we get into the tactics, let’s talk about what makes a good social sharing button in the first place:

  • Clarity. Social sharing buttons should be both easy to spot and understand. Remember those “Try me!” toys in the toy store? Those are great examples of buttons with clarity. All you have to do to have fun is press the button. Don’t make users work to share your stuff.
  • Non-interference. Social media buttons that interfere with the content tend to get on our nerves. Users will have no qualm sharing your content if they think it’s worthy of sharing — your job is to make it easy to share and the sharing button doesn’t get in the way of the content.
  • Strategic placement. What do we mean by “strategic”? You should place your social media buttons just at the moment someone feels compelled to share your quality content. Don’t jump the gun or make users search for a long time for your buttons, only to finally give up.

Depending on your specific blog and its graphic style, you’ll likely want to choose between two types of social buttons: inline or sticky share buttons. The choice is ultimately a matter of your own strategy and preference, but here’s an overview of each type:

  • Inline share buttons are arranged together, which makes them easy to sort and insert into your content without interfering. When you hear “inline,” think “inline roller skates”–where the wheels are arranged neatly together.
  • Sticky share buttons are a little more interactive. For example, they can include a floating sidebar or a floating banner. As the user scrolls down, the buttons follow along, without getting in the way of the reading experience along the way.

Below, you’ll see examples: first, inline buttons arranged neatly together for a graphically-satisfying result. Second, a “floating sidebar” that makes its presence clear:

Your choice? Simple. Pick the style that suits your site the best.

3. Participate in Social Forum Sites and Add Value

When it comes to social forum sites, you’re looking at three main contenders: Reddit, Quora, and Inbound. Each of these sites is full of active communities that are chatting, sharing, and getting support.

If you participate on these sites, you’ll get more attention on your brand. Here’s a great example of a Quora answer that shot to the top because of the time and insight shared in the answer:

If you have read this Quora marketing guide, you’ll remember the site gives you exposure to 1.5 million monthly viewers so you stand a good chance of drawing more attention to your site. If even a fraction of those eyes want to check out more about you and what you do, the investment you’ve made in sharing value online will pay off.

4. Test the Life Out of Social Ads

Are you thinking like a data-driven marketer? If not, you should. You need to analyze data to figure out which platforms performs the best in driving brand awareness, engagement, and ultimately conversions.

A key component of data analysis is A/B testing. Perform A/B tests on your social ads to find out which version resonates more with your audience. On most of the social media platforms, you can invest a relatively small amount of money to gain insights that could generate huge returns. Facebook is big on promoting its own A/B testing platform, which means that most of the work is already done for you.

Not sure you want to spend any money on social A/B testing just yet? You can even use strategies to test your Facebook posts without putting a single penny down.

5. Consider Exactly How Your Audience Buys on Social Media

Given the variance in demographics of different social media platforms, it’s not surprising to see that some products sell better on one platform than another. Some sales processes are built for the platform. Others…well, they’ll take a while.

For example, an email service provider may not capture many direct sales from Twitter, but that doesn’t mean it can’t build brand awareness and long-term name recognition. On the other hand, when Kylie Jenner announces a new lip kit on social media, she can expect instant sales.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The bottom line? Understand the sales process of your audience and create a social media strategy tailored to the demographic of each platform.

6. Use Emotional Cues to Spruce Up Your Headlines

According to CoSchedule, there are three headline formats that perform particularly well. These can be used as headline for your blog posts, and can then be used on social media to increase conversions.

  1. How to {Do Something} That Will {Help You Experience Desired Result}
  2. {#} Ways to {Do Something} to {Produce Desired Result}
  3. What is the Best {Topic} That Will {Do Something Desirable}?

These headlines share a few things in common. First, they get to the point: there’s no doubt in what you can expect to get or learn when you read the post. Second, they take on the customer’s perspective — some of them even sound like keyphrases that customers and readers are entering as they search for your solutions.

When it comes to headlines, start from the customer’s perspective. Think about what will resonate most with them, and you’ll rarely go wrong.

7. Play Nice With Others

No one wants to follow a social media robot online. Follow this golden rule: be the kind of social media account you would want to follow. For example:

  • Participate. Tag those you’ve quoted and mentioned when you share on social. You won’t only share insights with your audience, but you’ll earn some brownie points along the way.
  • Curate content. Think of your social media like a blog. Promote the work of other companies if you think a link is something your audience might want to check out. Some people will follow you online just because you’re so good at finding interesting tidbits and links.
  • Give, give, give. Infographics, statistics, insights, stories–if you can provide something that your followers will find valuable, make sure you share it. After all, social media is a two-way street: don’t just promote your company and forget to give valuable information to readers.

For example, toilet paper is the opposite of a sexy product, but Charmin’s Twitter account is so generous and engaging that social media users can’t help but interact. The brand replies to Tweets that come in, and runs campaigns, such as #Tweet4ATree to encourage participation.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

8. Use Social Media as a Primary Support Channel

Did you know that in the last two years, customer service interactions on Twitter have increased 250%? That’s a lot of people asking for help on social media.

Today’s social media user expects your service to be timely and responsive, even in matters of customer support. Why not give them what they want? Send personalized and timely replies on social media, even if it’s simply to direct someone to the right customer support channel.

For example, Casper, an online retailer for mattresses, responds in a natural, friendly way to customers with questions. They don’t be belabor the interaction or make it tough on the customer– they simply give a friendly answer quickly and efficiently.

Take Advantage of Your Social Media

Let’s face it: you’re on social media anyway. If your old routine has gotten you nowhere, it might be time to incorporate the overlooked tactics that boost conversions and even sales. Let us know about any of your experiences with these tactics below!

About the Author: Paul Lentz is the SVP of Publisher & Business Operations at ShareThis, a technology company that provides free sharing and content optimization tools to help more than three million publishers grow their digital audiences. When not doing what he can to support the publishers, he’s taking a break from digital devices and experiencing nature through skiing, hiking, and running.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/overlooked-social-media-tactics/

How to Acquire Customers with Facebook’s New Messenger Ads

Facebook recently released Facebook Messenger app ads to the general public.

Aaaaaannnnnddddd digital advertising just got even more creepy than ever imagined.

Thanks, Zuck.

You can now directly message potential prospects via Facebook Messenger right in their inboxes. Kinda like LinkedIn’s Sponsored InMail. Meaning you can nag people 24/7 now.

But with all of these new features comes white noise. Using the right tactic is like finding a needle in a haystack on new platforms.

Just like with any new digital advertising platform, it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t.

What will help you acquire customers and what will get you reported for stalking.

Here’s how to find that proverbial needle in the haystack by using Facebook Messenger ads to acquire customers.

The Three Main Types of Facebook Messenger Ads

Currently, Facebook offers three main advertising formats or placements with their new Messenger ad services.

Each one is different. But you can use them all together to create one big, happy, harmonious user experience.

Here, we’ll look at each in-depth, analyzing the best practices for each to get the best bang for your buck.

First up: Messenger destination.

1. Messenger Destination Ads

Your first Facebook Messenger ad option is destination-based.

This works like any old display-style ad on Facebook.

It sits right in the news feed for someone to click on.

But instead of taking them directly to the Facebook page or a landing page on a website, it takes them into a conversation on Messenger:

Image Source

Instead of a call to action like “read more,” it says “Send Message.”

It’s a great conversation starter and strays from the normal display ads you see on Facebook.

For example, lead magnets are great, but they often get stale.

We’ve seen the same thing a thousand times over. And eventually, that means results decline, too.

These destination ads, though, can help streamline your customer acquisition process in two big ways:

  1. Qualification: You can initiate a conversation up-front before spending hundreds of dollars to get a user into your funnel. They work to start a conversation on topics that are either complex or expensive. For example, if you’re selling SEO services, these are perfect for initiating a qualification conversation before a full-scale consultation that costs time and money.
  2. Retargeting: Once you have a broad audience for your Messenger destination ads, you can funnel those engaged users into sponsored messages – the third format we’ll touch on today.

Messenger destination ads are best used to start a conversation. To get people interested in learning more about your offer without having to give up personal information or schedule a full-blown call.

(Who even talks on the phone anymore?)

These ads can also serve as a form of account-based marketing. Meaning you focus on qualifying prospects ahead of time rather than trying to get them into your funnel to qualify them at the end.

Account-based marketing seeks to narrow the pool early in order to spend more time on ideal clients.

This produces better clients that are more likely to convert, while trimming away the clients who are just there for a free eBook.

For example, Facebook expert Jon Loomer is already using the destination-based ads to start conversations ahead of time:

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Instead of simply offering an eBook and collecting thousands of emails that won’t convert, he takes a direct approach:

Message Me.

Is this training right for you?

He’s effectively qualifying leads before they are even leads.

Now he can narrow down the candidates and skip the traditional funnel process where most won’t convert even at the bottom of the funnel.

DigitalMarketer is using the same strategy to get qualified users to interact with their business (before they’re ready to sign on the dotted line):

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Once qualified users click “Send Message,” they are asked about subscribing to the newsletter and are allowed to ask any questions about how the platform can help their business.

These ads work just like a live chat on your site but without the need to drive that site traffic in the first place.

Meaning you can save money and time, all while qualifying prospects up-front.

To get started with these ads, head to your Facebook Business Manager and create a new ad based on the messages objective:

Under the messages section, make sure that “Click to Messenger” is selected:

This ad type will show up in the news feed and direct users to a message click, like the examples above.

After selecting your audience, scroll down to the ad format and choose either a video or a single image:

The key here is to get specific.

You don’t want a user to feel overwhelmed with ten options to message you.

Plus, it makes it easier to create a specialized message and offer by using a single image or video.

Next, upload an image or video:

Now comes the fun part. Start setting up your ad with a headline and text:

The goal here is to qualify prospects ahead of time and to get information on whether they’re right for your business or not.

You don’t want to appeal to everyone and waste your budget on clicks that don’t convert.

Ask the most burning question that your best customers ask when converting on your product, encouraging them to message you.

Be sure to select “Send Message” as your call to action, too.

This will start a conversation in their messaging inbox.

Now there is only one step left:

Setting up your welcome messages:

This will be the opening message that someone will receive when they click on your ad.

You can now start to customize your message format and even the customer actions available:

You can also add basic personalization to make each message feel personalized and targeted.

For example, in this ad, we are qualifying users up-front and allowing them to either click to a landing page off of Facebook or message us directly on the Messenger ad.

You can customize these buttons to your liking, driving traffic to your site or landing pages, or simply encouraging more conversation within Messenger.

Remember: Best practices for this ad focus on lead qualification and getting people to start a conversation with your business.

2. Messenger Home Placement

The Messenger home placement is slightly different than the destination-based ads.

This type focuses on sending messaging options directly to the home section of a user’s inbox.

Here’s what it looks like:

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It works the same way as the Messenger destination ads do in the sense that a user has to initiate the conversation.

Meaning you can’t just message them individually. They have to accept your invitation to message first.

Here’s how Jon Loomer has structured his home placement messaging ads:

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They work as a sponsored blast, just like your destination ads. But instead of appearing in the news feed, they show up in the messaging app.

It’s simply another way to get in front of your audience with targeted messages.

The majority of ads should focus on qualifying prospects and getting them interested in your business without asking for information just yet.

Thankfully, this one is extremely easy to set up.

All you have to do is check the “Home” box under the placement section of your ads:

This will allow your ads to show in the Messenger app as well as the newsfeed for a combined approach.

Follow the same strategy here of generating a conversation rather than trying to land prospects with a lead magnet or a quick sale.

3. Sponsored Messages Placement

Sponsored messages are one of the best new additions to advertising options on Facebook.

But you can’t use these sponsored message placements on just any audience.

Which is actually great if you think about it.

Imagine randomly getting a message from a company you’ve never heard of that asks you to buy SEO services or some other random, untargeted offer.

Blocked.

It’s safe to say that an approach like that would kill the user experience on Facebook. People don’t come to Facebook to get bombarded with ads.

They use the search network for that. The intent simply isn’t there.

Using these sponsored messages allows you to send a direct message straight to a user’s inbox. But the catch is that they have to engage with you first.

Meaning they have to start a message thread with you before you can message them again.

Once a user engages with you, then you can retarget them with sponsored messages.

For example, here’s how it would show up in your Messenger app:

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It looks like any other message you’d get.

Plus, you don’t have to ask them to message you.

You can deliver a specific message without them needing to accept or initiate a call to action.

Since these users are already brand-aware, it’s best to message them with an offer or a discount now.

They know your brand, and you’ve likely qualified them up-front from your destination ads.

So you can push them further down the funnel.

DigitalMarketer has started using a coupon/discount-based tactic to convert these brand-aware users:

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Jon Loomer has taken a similar approach, attempting to drive qualified, brand-aware users to his training program:

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Sponsored messages are akin to lead magnets or purchase offers in traditional advertising.

You’ve already done the majority of the work:

  1. Finding the audience
  2. Generating brand awareness
  3. Evaluating their pain points
  4. Qualifying users

Now you just need to complete the last step:

5. Getting them to convert on an offer.

This should be your final step in customer acquisition with Messenger ads.

It should help you get their detailed information as a qualified lead. Then you can nurture them via other platforms like email or phone.

To set up this audience, you’ll need to create a new custom audience based on engagement:

Next, select the “Facebook Page” option:

Now, select “People who sent a message to your page” as the custom audience criteria:

This will allow you to create sponsored messages.

Now all you have to do is create another ad with the message-based custom audience you created, and you’re ready to convert these brand-aware users into full-on customers.

Finding your needle in the haystack doesn’t have to be hard.

Try implementing each one of these ad types to work together to fill your customer funnel.

Conclusion

Facebook Messenger ads offer great, new ways to reach customers.

But with any new platform or technique comes risk.

What works? What doesn’t? How do you know without wasting thousands of dollars on testing?

Start by using Messenger destination ads to qualify prospects up-front.

These ads take a cue from account-based marketing, where qualification is done at the beginning of the user journey rather than at the end.

Once you’ve done this, you can place Messenger ads directly within the app and even send more personalized messages to engaged users with sponsored messaging.

You can use Messenger ads to do a lot more than you may have thought possible. You can use them to build up brand awareness at the beginning, nurture newly-aware leads, and convert them into qualified prospects who are ready to buy.

All at a fraction of the competition you’re typically running up against. Which means if you do it correctly, a fraction of the cost you’d typically spend, too.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/facebooks-new-messenger-ads/

7 Trials and Tribulations Of Email Outreach

It’s the grand old way of getting your website noticed online, but despite its long-in-the-tooth reputation, the effectiveness of email outreach is showing no signs of slowing down – despite what some experts might have us believe.

An old-fashioned email campaign can seem like the loneliest method of promotion available in the 21st Century. It’s not unusual to write thousands of outreach emails knowing full well that well over half of your messages will never even be read.

Neil Patel believes that a reasonable expectation from an outreach campaign is to get around five links for every 100 emails sent, amounting to a success rate of 5%. Meaning that 95% of the time you spend composing messages and hitting that ‘send’ button will be a fruitless endeavor.

So why do we bother? In a world where cold emailing is heavily frowned upon, and a third of all emails are opened based solely on whether the recipient likes the subject line or not, you could be forgiven for thinking that it might all be just a waste of time and resources.

However, this isn’t the case. Email outreach is an extremely powerful tool when correctly utilized, but effective email etiquette is a minefield – and many people struggle to run engaging campaigns.

So it’s for this reason that I’ve decided to offer a list of the seven biggest trials and tribulations that face email marketers today.

1. Making Sure your Campaign isn’t too Spammy

It’s the first and perhaps the biggest point to make. Absolutely nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a cold email. They’re annoying, irritating, frustrating and every other synonym of awful. Think about cold calls – where you pick up the phone and listen to somebody with no idea of whom you are speaking from a script with the intent of getting you to give their business money. It’s soulless and often insulting. The cold email is just that in written form.

Like with many websites that aim to expand their network, we try to avoid the risks that come with cold emailing by adding a personal touch to our campaigns. It’s a tricky business because personalization takes time, but if you treat your target audience with respect, it can pay dividends.

In a bid to reach out to people personally, while keeping our quantity of outreach emails high, we’ve constructed a template to customize based on the individual we’re contacting. This enables us to utilize a personal touch that impersonal general marketing emails are devoid of. Here is the one we’re using:

Hey NAME,

Hope you’re doing well!

My name is Dmytro Spilka, and I’m a Head Wizard at Solvid, an Inbound Marketing Blog based in London, UK.

I recently stumbled upon your post on POST TITLE (LINK TO THE POST), and found it incredibly useful. In the post (point #7 to be precise), you mentioned a POST THEY’VE MENTIONED by NAME OF THE PERSON THEY’VE MENTIONED. Although it’s a great resource, it feels slightly outdated and incomplete to some extent.

Anyway, the reason I’m contacting is that I’ve recently put together YOUR POST TITLE (YOUR POST LINK). SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR POST. Basically, did everything to create the ultimate go-to resource.

In fact, our post has been recommended by Rand Fishkin (founder of Moz), Brian Dean of Backlinko and Smart Blogger (BE HONEST HERE).

I would really appreciate if you could please take a second to scan our post and see whether it could be of any help to you and your audience as an additional resource.

Apologies for eating up your time!

Best Wishes,

Dmytro

Web: https://solvid.co.uk
Email: hello@solvid.co.uk

As you can see above, we’re using a few personal touches.

  • The actual name of the person. Believe it or not, a lot of ‘outreachers’ use phrases like Dear Webmaster, Hello Editor, Hi Sir, etc.
  • We’re mentioning the exact location in the article where they’ve mentioned a resource. This shows that we’ve actually looked at the article and know what it’s about.
  • We’re using influencers to add value to our resource. Be honest here. If, in fact, your post hasn’t been featured or mentioned by anyone – don’t make it up – this can easily undermine your credibility.

2. Nailing the Subject Line

The importance of the subject line can’t be emphasized enough. This is your big hook to get the recipients to read on – and there are plenty of theories behind the recipe for an irresistible heading.

Convince and Convert state that 69% of recipients report emails as spam based solely on the subject line, while 35% open emails because of the allure of the heading. These are substantial figures that underline the importance of the few words that pop up first in your recipients’ inboxes – so nailing your subject line is imperative.

So what’s the secret formula behind the perfect email subject? Throwing their two cents into the ring is Adestra, which believes that the use of words like ‘Alert’, ‘Daily’ and ‘Free Delivery’ bring marketers the best responses.

However, our outreach campaigns try to show honesty without the use of superfluous superlatives – our subject line is simple:

‘Typical outreach email’ shows that we have no interest in click-baiting our intended audience. It also indicates that we have enough faith in our service that we don’t need to rely on tricks of the trade to lure prospective customers in. That being said, email subjects will vary on a case-by-case basis. Hence, we’d suggest to A/B test different subject lines to see which one performs better. In our tests, ‘Typical outreach email’ performed much better, improving an open rate by roughly 20-30%.

3. Optimizing your Open Rate

You could be marketing the best product or service on the web, but if your open rate is lacking then it means that your recipients aren’t interested enough to even look beyond the subject line of your emails.

According to research conducted by MailChimp, the average open rate varies between 20 – 25% – depending on the industry you’re in. This is unsurprising and disappointing in equal measure, but it’s also a great benchmark to incorporate a bit of trial and error into your campaign.

All sorts of factors can influence your open rate, from the aforementioned subject line, to the relevance of your target audience, to the time of day that you send your emails out (no, really – RingLead have compiled stats that suggest the sweet spot for posting outreach mail is between 2 pm and 5 pm on a Tuesday afternoon).

Premium services like reply.io, buzzstream and outreach.io not only offer the opportunity to personalize automatic outreach emails, but also provide very useful stats on open rates and click-through rates, allowing you to monitor what aspects of your campaign is working better than others and giving you the chance to fine-tune your messages.

For instance, here are some open rate stats for our latest outreach campaign:

In all honestly, 71% open rate is pretty decent (even our regular email subscribers aren’t that active).

4. Sussing out Whom to Target

Figuring out whom to target is risky business – if you pick the wrong recipients, then you’re in danger of wasting valuable time.

There are many great services that can scout out relevant email addresses to aid your campaign, and hunter.io is a good example that offers a free email search engine (albeit with limited usage for non-premium members).

A good alternative to hunter.io is Voila Norbert.

To find an email address, simply enter the name of the person and a domain name of the company they work at.

Although the information isn’t 100% accurate all the time, this way of finding the right email address can save a lot of time, especially if that particular domain has hundreds of registered emails.

5. Finding the actual recipients

It pays to be attentive in finding which website staff to email – if you believe your blog has a resource that you feel should be added to a website’s list, you could contact the author of an existing article in which you believe your site would make a good reference point. However, a generic ask for a link would not bring the numbers, as it’s likely to be regarded as spam. Answer the following questions before asking for an inclusion of your link:

  1. Is the site relevant to my resource?
  2. Is my resource of an exceptional quality and is better than the rest?
  3. Does the site look trustworthy?
  4. Do I have the name of the website owner or the author of the article?
  5. Do I have the right email address?
  6. When was it published? If the article is 4-5 years old, it’s very unlikely that someone will update it for the sake of one additional resource.
  7. Did I use enough personal touches? See point 1 for examples.

If only 2-3 of these questions fall under the category of ‘No’ or ‘Negative’ then it’s not worth the effort outreaching – simply because your email will appear spammy.

You need to be observant – if you’re targeting an author of an article that you feel your work would benefit as a reference, be sure to check whether the author is a guest poster or a member of staff for the business. If it’s the former, you’d be better off contacting the editor – though getting in touch with the original content producer may lead to your work being linked in future publications.

Many websites now shy away from publishing emails of editors and content producers in favor of using website contact forms, but if you’re looking to get your posts or resources noticed, the best way of having your message read by those who matter is to find the details of the content producers themselves.

6. Keeping on Top of Your Follow-Ups

It can be easy to neglect a follow up to your outreach email. If the recipient didn’t want to reply the first time, why would they bother a second time? While chasing a less responsive target may seem counter-intuitive, it works as a great simple call to action and indicates to them that you’re serious about showing off your work.

Our follow up template is a simplified reminder of our original email – our intention is to drop a subtle reminder that we have a great product that would benefit the user and their readership:

Hey NAME,

Just a quick follow-up on a message I sent earlier (attached below) about our awesome POST TITLE (LINK TO THE POST): I would really appreciate to hear back from you.

Best Wishes,

Dmytro

Web: https://solvid.co.uk
Email: hello@solvid.co.uk

We use the reply function on our initial email for ease of reference for the recipient, while including a transparent subject line informing our target that we’re simply following up to an original email.

It’s important to refrain from trigger-happy follow-ups. Becoming a nuisance outreacher risks alienating your audience and even damaging your reputation. Therefore, we wouldn’t suggest going for more than 2 follow-ups after the initial outreach email.

7. Managing the Scale of Outreach

The business of outreach is a long-winded one that carries no guarantee of success. You could invest days of hard work into emailing 1000s of recipients and receive no interest in return.

Luckily you can maximize your chances of success and minimize the time spent chasing poor leads by doing a little bit of market research.

Try to understand who your target would be and whether they would have any affiliates or backlinks that would also benefit from utilizing your work or service.

It’s better to have 100 quality recipients than 1,000 poorly researched ones – this is how we got 20-25% success rate of our latest email outreach campaign.

We like to run tidy outreach campaigns, so take the preemptive measure of identifying leads to investigate to assess whether associated websites would benefit from using our work. If we feel that they would, we add their information to our spreadsheet and invite them to take a look at a relevant piece that would make a good reference point.

Conclusion

So there you have it – with some good prep and honest marketing, the age-old slog of email outreach doesn’t have to be such a pain.

As long as you’re outreaching to a relevant personal with a resource that can potentially bring value to that website’s audience while keeping your emails reasonably personal (without being too creepy), you should see a positive return for the time spent.

Now it’s time to get out there and put your website on the map!

 

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/z946e3jlgn.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 

 

About the Author: Dmytro is a Head Wizard at Solvid, a creative inbound marketing & software development agency in London, UK. His work has been featured and mentioned in a wide range of publication, including The Next Web, Business2Community, Huff Post, Crazy Egg, Sitepoint, SEMRush, and more.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/tribulations-of-email-outreach/

3 Shortcuts for Business Owners to Market Effectively Without Wasting Time

9-to-5 jobs are never truly 9-5.

There’s always something that comes up that needs to get done. ASAP. No questions asked.

Thank your boss for that one. Actually, don’t. That’s probably not a good idea.

But running a business is a whole new level of busy. Being a business owner in today’s world is damn near impossible.

Want to have a normal work-life balance? Good joke.

Need to take a vacation to refresh your brain? Sure. If you’re okay with a business-level apocalypse.

Family asking you to go apple picking this weekend? It ain’t happening.

As a small business owner, you’ve got to run every single department, constantly making sure everything’s running smoothly.

That means creating new content, generating big ideas, speaking with clients, landing sales, checking emails, running marketing reports.

The list goes on.

You simply don’t have enough time in the day to complete all of these tasks.

You can’t scale your business to new heights if you ignore any of them though.

They need to get done. Your business and livelihood literally depend on it.

So what do you do?

You need to automate. Put boring, tedious, time-consuming tasks on autopilot to save yourself hours every week.

Marketing automation isn’t easy, but it’s necessary if you want to scale your business without dying from sleep deprivation.

Here are the reasons why you need marketing automation and three tips for small business owners to automate and scale.

How marketing automation can be your saving grace

Marketing automation is just what it sounds like: automating marketing-based tasks.

If you’re not too familiar with marketing automation, here’s a simple definition from Google:

The goal is to save you time and increase your ROI.

Automation does this by cutting out time spent on tedious processes. Meaning you’re using less labor. And less labor means less overhead.

But here’s the biggest benefit of all:

Less time spent working means more time looking at pugs.

Yes, it’s a real addiction that affects thousands every year (source: N/A).

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The more you can automate, the better.

According to the latest data, the vast majority of marketers using marketing automation strategies are successful in achieving their objectives:

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Another study discovered that 50% of marketers using automation tools found either some increases or massive increases in leads:

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But effectively gaining leads isn’t all that comes with marketing automation.

It shouldn’t even be the main focus.

Sure, it’s great that marketing automation can increase leads; don’t get me wrong.

That’s amazing.

But the goal here is to reduce time spent working without reducing profit.

If you don’t see a massive spike in leads, but you’re cutting out 10 hours of marketing work each week with automation, you’re effectively increasing profit by reducing labor.

See what I mean?

Even if the process doesn’t generate 10x the amount of leads, you’re spending less on labor.

Less labor = less overhead = more profit.

This is where people tend to go wrong. When you only focus on lead increases, you lose sight of profit and business growth.

There are dozens of ways to achieve profit and growth that don’t include landing more clients.

And according to Aberdeen, companies using marketing automation can reduce their marketing-to-close time by 49%.

That potentially means completing your work in half the time.

If you’re strapped for time and haven’t slept in weeks, it’s time to implement marketing automation.

It will not only cut down on your working hours, but it’ll also reduce your labor costs and help you generate more leads.

Here are three great ways you can automate your growth today.

1. Automate your Content Promotion

Content promotion is critical to business growth.

When it comes to driving new organic traffic and leads, nothing competes with top-notch content.

But having good content alone won’t always drive traffic.

So most marketers turn to promotion on social channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

All of these platforms are an easy way to generate more leads.

But it takes time. And lot’s of it.

In fact, Statista found that the majority of marketers are spending anywhere from one to 10 hours per week on social media.

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By scheduling content and loading it into your Buffer queue, you can quickly waste a few hours every week.

Coming up with tweets and trying to squeeze your content into 140 characters sucks.

Especially when you’re re-sharing that post five different ways.

Content sharing is a necessary process that’s tedious and often time-consuming.

On top of that, it doesn’t always equate to a perfect return on investment.

So it’s sometimes thrown on the backburner.

But that’s not an option in today’s world that’s obsessed with social media.

Thanks to marketing automation, it doesn’t have to be.

You can automatically share content from your blog to social media without lifting a finger.

Here’s how.

Start by creating an account with Zapier.

It’s a popular automation tool that connects thousands of different SaaS tools that you use daily.

Once you make an account, click on the explore tab and head to the “Marketers” section:

Next, you should be able to locate the following “Zap,” or automation process:

This is legitimately a life saver.

If social media is the bane of your existence, you will save hours every week from trying to post and come up with new ideas.

Click “Use This Zap” to start a new automation workflow.

Next, you’ll have to link your public blog RSS feed.

If you’re not sure what that is, you can set up an RSS feed in just a few minutes with this Google tutorial.

After plugging in your feed URL, you can head to the “Action” step, which is where your social post will happen:

All you have to do here is link your account, and you’re good to go.

So next time you publish a blog post on your site, Zapier will trigger this automation process and craft a tweet for you instantly.

You can use this automation technique for all of your social channels. If you don’t want to use an RSS feed, Zapier allows you to connect WordPress too:

Ditch the hours spent crafting tweets and social posts. Automate it instead.

2. Only Focus on the Important Emails

If you’re like me, you spend too much time checking your email.

It’s obviously not because you want to, but simply because your inbox is jammed with emails.

HubSpot’s latest research shows us that marketers spend an average of nearly four hours just sending emails every week.

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That doesn’t include checking your email. That’s just typing and sending emails.

Brutal.

Email sucks. It’s boring and often filled with junk.

Yet, your iPhone is blowing up every two minutes from new emails, distracting you from the task at hand and killing your productivity.

So, how do you only get notifications for the important stuff? How do you cut out those nearly 4 hours of sending emails each week?

By automating your email process.

In Zapier, you can set up an automation workflow that allows you to get notified only when specific people email you:

Do you have important clients that email you frequently?

Or even employees that ask time-sensitive questions?

Then you need this. It’s extremely easy to set up, too.

Click “Use This Zap” to get started. Be sure to connect your Gmail account to Zapier and select your work email as the inbox.

Next, you need to type in the search string that will trigger this process.

For example, you can enter a few different search strings:

Try using direct email addresses from clients, employees, or even another boss (like your significant other).

You can also set up simple subject lines like “from:client name.”

Once you save this automation workflow, you’ll get pinged on Slack whenever an important email comes in.

Meaning you can respond instantly and only spend time on the most important emails.

So silence your email notifications, get some work done, and respond to the big-ticket clients.

Stop spending four hours weekly on email with this automation tip.

3. Automate your lead flow

Collecting leads is awesome.

You just drove some quality traffic to your site and converted a few of them.

Great. Now what?

Do you download the data and upload it into a CRM? Or into your favorite email campaign platform?

Lead flow processes can quickly become tedious and time-consuming.

From downloading, formatting, and uploading lists, you could be spending hours on it weekly.

Plus, if you don’t follow up with a lead fast, you risk losing them.

Automation is critical when it comes to perfecting a lead flow.

From automatically sending nurturing emails to uploading lists without doing the work, you can quickly cut down your hours.

One of my favorite Zapier integrations is adding new sales leads directly to a CRM or email platform without doing the actual work.

You have much more important things to do besides uploading lists and creating new campaigns.

With Zapier, you can actually automatically upload new leads from your site or social media ads directly into a CRM or email campaign.

Zapier is great for this simply because of the integrations they offer.

You can connect it with the top services like MailChimp, HubSpot, and more.

If you use it, they most likely have it.

This is one of my favorite Zaps:

If you don’t use Constant Contact or Gravity Forms, don’t fret.

You can connect nearly anything with Zapier.

This is just an example of two integrations that are amazing.

If you set up this Zap, you are automating the process of lead gen to nurturing without ever having to worry about it.

With your favorite email platform, you can usually turn on settings to send newly-added leads a welcome email, too.

Meaning you are virtually skipping these steps:

Checking your leads, downloading the lead list, formatting it for your platform, uploading it, creating and sending a new campaign.

That’s potentially hours of work every week.

If you’re a lazy business owner like me, you can get tons of value from automating lead flows.

Conclusion

Running a small business is one of the toughest ventures you can embark on. Besides kids.

Don’t get me started.

From sleepless nights (or weeks) to chasing the ever elusive “work-life balance,” you’re always strapped for time. Your plate is constantly full to the point where nothing gets done.

Your workload exceeds human capabilities. And unless you’ve got the hookup on some new age brain transplant technology, you’ve only got one option:

Automation.

If you notice that tasks are piling up and taking up your time, you need to automate.

Do you want your business to have any shot at scaling and achieving new growth? If so, you’ve gotta cut out the junk that, though necessary, doesn’t directly contribute to growth.

But you can’t ignore it full scale. You just need to automate it, filter it out, or delete it entirely.

Freeing up time doesn’t just save you time. It can also help make you a lot more money in the long run.
 

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/z946e3jlgn.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

 

 

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/market-effectively-without-wasting-time/

Will E-Commerce Benefit from Machine Learning or Face a New Threat?

The e-commerce revolution was built on the back of digital advances and automation, but is the next generation of machine learning and AI friend or foe?

Machine learning is the method today’s systems use to learn about you and the fundamental things that make you who you are. It looks beyond generalizations and characterizations on your age or gender and realizes that you’re a huge fan of cartoon dogs and emojis, but only the ones that have the same hair as you.

In the e-commerce space, machine learning is being used to slowly learn what customers prefer and how they want to see information to get them to make a purchase. It tests and adapts, using new options and information to slowly refine the best way to reach your customers.

It’s an amazing tool with plenty of opportunities, but hiding within that potential are some risks if you’re not paying attention. Let’s look at what can help or hurt.

Intuitive Search and Display

One of the more exciting applications of machine learning is going to be the ability for you to search for the things you want and need. Right now, to find a product on an e-commerce store, you have to search for it using the words you prefer and the e-commerce store owner must hope they used the same words for the search results to match what you want and what they offer.

Machine learning cranks that up by providing support for a broader set of synonyms at the most basic level. Smart machine learning looks for synonyms in the nouns you provide as well as similar phrases people use for the same type of problem. A leaking faucet and a dripping sink should pull the same results, but they don’t always in today’s search.

The extra layer that machine learning adds on top of all this comes from its capability to learn your site and metrics. So, smarter search engines can prioritize click rates and existing conversions, put products with higher customer ratings at the top, or even restrict results based on what’s currently in stock.

It’s possible to deliver dynamically different page content using search results and even display items and containers, from ads to sections on what customers also liked, based on each individual customer. The downside, or potential threat to your business, is that systems that are not closely monitored could limit the display of some products and search results.

If you let your system fine-tune continually without checking, it could stop promoting a product that isn’t selling, and the continued lack of sales would push any promotions or links down even further. Don’t let a runaway search hide any products.

The Potential of Chatbots

Recall any of the times you’ve recently had to call your bank, credit agency, or someone’s whose robot voice told you to pay attention because the menu options may have changed. On the Internet, whether it’s your e-commerce product pages, FAQs, carts, or any other location customer’s visit, you can ensure your customers never have to go through that frustration thanks to smart chatbots.

By understanding unstructured data — answers to questions like “how was your day?” instead of “what’s ten minus two?” — chatbots are now able to provide a realistic conversation that doesn’t feel fake or frustrate people with non-answers. Your customer service representative can now answer questions 24/7 with a wide range of data thanks to smart chatbots.

Chatbots mean small and mid-sized companies can provide round-the-clock support without needing to pay someone those hours. Machine learning comes into play because it allows a chatbot to be programmed with general information and respond to customer queries. As it interacts with more people, machine learning will enable your chatbot to learn the specifics of your online store and service.

Initially, chatbots can empower you to direct customers to basic information like shipping options, colors, size charts, and other formulaic options. Eventually, as you employ more sophisticated machine learning, you can have chatbots that identify potential upsells, ask customers questions to deliver coupons, or address long-term needs of your customers.

Unless you work in customer service, it’s hard to imagine chatbots being a threat. The tricky issue here is the system that learns your customers and their preferences. A significant amount of chatbots come from third-party services and they may be collecting or using some of your customer data for the purpose of answering questions or generating social media posts automatically.

Make agreements airtight when it comes to how data can be used and ensure that it is anonymized, or you may have upset customers who realize that they got an email for a service or one that includes their address after they’ve been on your site.

Pricing and AB Testing

Beyond chatbots, machine learning creates opportunities for a variety of virtual buying assistances that can do anything from email you when airfare drops below a certain price or reminds you to re-order your water filter every 30 days. E-commerce brands can take this data review a step further to look for opportunities such as coupons to drive down prices to a certain point or for savings ahead of a specific holiday or holiday season where your goods are purchased in order to encourage increased spending this year.

If I know that you buy t-shirts online when you can get two for under $25, I can send you a deal that gets shirts to that threshold right now. And next month, I can try with an offer that gets the price down to $27 and see if you’ll bite.

Machine learning removes a lot of the guesswork and manual labor required to identify those thresholds and send offers accordingly. Using profiles and purchasing habit data, systems can teach themselves to create a potential sale that meets a variety of threshold criteria around margins, existing inventory, and repeat business.

Higher levels of personalization require more customer avatars or marketing personas and ultimately this could be a large set that because it is hard to generalize new customers. So, there’s a need to balance cost ranges on products as well as how long an offer lasts. Customers may be upset if they see one price, don’t immediately click and then cannot find the reduced price again.

Value-Adds: Fulfillment Improvements

Machine learning has a significant potential to provide customers with something a little extra. We believe that shipping often makes the biggest difference and machine learning can not only determine preferred shipping options but test when a free bump to something faster will increase your sales.

Plus, smart systems can use your existing data to ensure that those promises match inventory levels and shipping time based on what your suppliers or distributors can match. You also have the opportunity to build in scarcity and promote sales — you might’ve seen something like this when an e-commerce giant says that if you order in the next 20 minutes you can get it tomorrow.

Bots also can provide consistent updates on package status and do trend analysis to help show the commerce brand when those messages are received, desired, and effective.

The true value-add of machine learning is that it can prevent over-promising and ensure you’re working on what best delivers an improvement for your website and the shopping experience you offer. Smart use of data and machine learning can improve your operations at every point of delivery, from when customers arrive and search your site to prompting them for purchase decisions and following up with reliable service and information.

Implementing Machine Learning in Your e-commerce Offerings

Now that you’ve seen the possibilities of machine learning, you’re ready to sign up and get it rolling for your company. Great! That’s the easy part. Adding it to your site is the hard part. There’s a lot to learn and review so that you can make your products, services, and site smarter.

Your IT team or partner will need a few things to get started on a machine learning implementation for you:

  1. A database or access to your existing database where the end-application can access the information it needs to know about your brand.
  2. The programming language, which can impact which services and partners are available based on their API.
  3. A description of the algorithm you want that is as complete as possible, including the problems or needs you want addressed.
  4. Examples of services or elements that you liked or operated similarly to what you want so your developer has a yardstick for comparison.
  5. The size of your audience. For example, if you need to work with a large set of customers or are planning a distributed application, you’ll most likely end up with a Hadoop ecosystem, while smaller sets of data and uses can rely on Java and C++ for the machine learning engine.

Creating a list of definitions, goals, needs, and uses will help you build a plan to bring to a developer or to give to your internal team to figure out next steps.

The good news in all that is more and more companies are lowering the bar to entry thanks to APIs you can start using immediately. So, there’s a chance someone has put together a package that you can use to achieve the results you want.

For example, Google offers a Mobile Vision API that allows an Android app to use the device’s camera to scan barcodes, recognize text, and detect faces as well as basic emotions or attributes.

There are also a variety of machine learning programs that have broader uses and you can define them as you go. Choosing an engine that operates like a decision tree will support A/B testing because you can feed it the ads or emails you’re using, information about the interactions or audience, and what you consider successful or unsuccessful results.

In this use case, an engine that works like a decision tree will eventually be able to learn what ads get people to click. By varying the coupon in your ad, for example, it can learn what dollar amounts or percentage off deals are more likely to lead to a complete sale. Eventually, you can use it to learn which deals are most likely to generate the highest relative sales value, and the engine can be used to set parameters for your marketing campaigns while adjusting coupons based on real-time results.

That’s a long road, but it is doable with technology available to you today.

Start with Chatbots and a Smart Partner

If you want to wade into machine learning slowly, we’d recommend you begin with chat options on your website because there are a variety of existing projects you can build on for a more immediate turnaround.

Head over to GitHub and you can find a host of chat bot engines that you can quickly power up and train. Training data is also available for free and purchase in order to assist you. Use a training walkthrough to see how you can generate responses based on what are essentially collections of known word strings and conversations.

By using or purchasing training and a language basis, you can have someone program the chatbot to answer common questions and then slowly begin to learn more about your customers. Your team or your development partner can also provide the chatbot with information on what to share and promote.

Chatbots with a machine learning basis are written in languages like Python so you’ll be hiring someone to help you unless you’re familiar with the language and code. Your professional partner will also be able to make recommendations on technologies like Google’s TensorFlow, which is useful if you’re building from scratch.

Today’s data world involves a variety of complex systems, and machine learning is one possible catalyst that will propel some e-commerce brands farther into the technology realm than they initially expected, while boosting their profitability too.
Realizing your potential will boil down to choosing the right technology and the right partner or team.

 

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About the Author: Jake Rheude is the Director of Business Development for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/will-e-commerce-benefit-from-machine-learning/