Tag: The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

How to Do Customer Engagement If You’re In a Unique Niche

I once worked with a business who specialized in making custom squirrel horror dioramas.

If you’re wondering what in the world a custom squirrel horror diorama is, then you’ve proved an underlying point of this article.

Unique niches are really tough for marketing.

If there are 37 people on the planet that are in your target market, then you’ve got your work cut out for you.

But at the same time, a unique niche is a huge advantage!

Marketing in a tight and well-defined niche is deliciously straightforward.

  • You have less competition.
  • You can segment your audience with ease.
  • You can go hyper specific with organic and paid keywords.
  • You can micro target the heck out of Facebook ads.
  • You have the potential to get higher conversion rates.
  • You can get to know each of those 37 people on a first-name basis.

But there are some things that are more difficult in unique niches.

What’s Difficult About Unique Niches?

Customer engagement falls into that category.

Okay, so customer engagement itself isn’t that complicated.

However, when you’re in a specific niche, your customers are going to have specific wants and needs.

So you have to take a much more strategic approach to customer engagement if you want to get the results you’re looking for.

Lots of niche business overlook this, and it costs them.

“Customer engagement” falls into the abyss of other jargony business best practices that just don’t get done.

You can avoid falling into the same trap, but you have to plan ahead and work a little harder to understand your customers better.

And that’s the thing — engagement starts with understanding.

Unsurprisingly, customer engagement with niche customers looks a lot like a relationship, but what many brands forget is that relationships take work.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to push the relationship or dating analogy too far.

But I do want to speak directly to businesses that are in a well defined niche.

I’ve worked with companies who designed hair dryers for women with light and curly hair. Another one of my clients made big rock-shaking machines for mines. (It’s called vibratory equipment.)

Niches are really cool.

And I also want to speak to businesses that need to boost their customer engagement efforts.

Customer engagement is more than just clever tweets and using emojis in your Facebook posts.

Customer engagement is a fascinating world that can dish up more conversions than you ever thought possible.

We’re going to solve the customer engagement problem in unique niches.

(And if you’re the custom squirrel horror diorama guy I used to work with, this article is for you, man.)

Get Up Close and Personal

It makes sense that if you want to sell to customers who have specific wants and needs, you need to figure out what those wants and needs are.

That’s why it’s important to dig deep into demographics and psychographics. Your demographics will tell you who, while psychographics will tell you why.

Demographics and psychographics are important for every customer engagement strategy, but they’re especially crucial when you’re operating in a small niche.

To get this information, you can use a number of different platforms, but Google Analytics is probably the easiest (and it’s free).

Although it will only show you some basic information, it’s often enough to get started.

To find demographics in Google Analytics, go to the sidebar and navigate to Audience > Demographics > Overview.

You’ll find two sections: age and gender.

Again, It’s really basic, and gives you only a slice of relevant demographic data.

Because Google Analytics is so lacking here, consider doing some more research. Other demographics you might want to research include:

  • Location
  • Current occupation
  • Income
  • Education level
  • Family status (marital status, number of children, etc.)

You can find most of these using sites like City-Data.com that give you information on demographics in a certain area that you specify.

When it comes to psychographics, Google Analytics provides more information than you might expect.

You can see this info by going to Audience > Interests > Overview.

Here you’ll see three categories: Affinity Category, In-Market Segment, and Other Category. When you put these three together, you get a better idea of what your customers like.

Pay extra attention to the In-Market Segment. These are things that your customers are in the market for. They’re already into the sales funnel and might even be ready to buy.

Together, demographics and psychographics help paint a vivid picture of your audience.

You not only know what kind of people you’re engaging but also how to engage them (because you know what they want).

So now you know who your customers are and what they want.

What do you do next? You create a strategy that’s custom made for them.

There are lots of ways you can go about this, and it can get confusing.

Here are a few tips to help you out.

Be Approachable

Approachability is one factor that is exponentially more important for niche businesses than it is for more general businesses.

That’s because a unique niche is personal to your customers. Any given customer might even go so far as to define himself or herself using a niche.

Consider the cassette market. (Yes, cassettes are making a comeback.) People who listen to cassettes might call themselves cassette enthusiasts.

These people form a community, albeit small, that want that kind of personal engagement that their interests require.

Often, you’re engaging your customers in a way that’s intensely personal to them.

The more approachable you are, the better your customers will feel.

Understand that your customers don’t just want to like you––they want to trust you.

Building trust takes time and effort, but it has a big impact.

So how do you become more approachable?

Especially, since we’re dealing with the issue in a business context, and not in a warm-handshake-and-friendly-smile context.

First, listen to your customers.

And get serious about listening.

It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re listening to your customers, but are you really? If you aren’t, it’s never too late to start.

When you get customer feedback, don’t just make a mental note of it.

Keep a record of it and actually look at it.

Look for common threads in the feedback you get.

You might need to ask for feedback in the form of a survey. Most of your users will be happy to give you their thought, and a nice incentive (like a prize drawing) doesn’t hurt either.

Second, create a personality around your brand.

Of course, you could do this literally like Geico did with their gecko mascot (who has his own Twitter account).

But you could also transform your entire brand into something your customers trust.

Coca-Cola does this with its unforgettable marketing campaigns that are focused on happiness and positivity.

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Bonus: Be funny.

If humor comes naturally to you, use it.

One example of a hilarious brand is Blockbuster. Specifically, The Last Blockbuster.

Okay, maybe it’s not actually a real business, but it sure is funny.

Humor doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes, it’s feels forced and painful, like chewing on screws.

But for businesses who can do it, it enhances approachability.

If your brand is approachable, you’ll stand out from all your competitors.

Your customers will feel like you know them, and that’s because you do. All the work you put into finding demographics and psychographics will pay off at this step.

Enhance Your Online Presence

Like any relationship, the connection between you and your customers has to be nurtured. It takes frequent and open communication for any relationship to succeed.

That’s why having a robust online presence can drastically improve your customer engagement.

Being more active online mean that there are more points of contact.

Your customers can reach you more often, and that very act builds a ton of trust.

You probably saw this coming from a mile away, but being available on social media often is a huge plus.

People spend a lot of time on social media, and you can take advantage of that by also spending a lot of time on various networks.

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Social media is most likely where your target audience hangs out. Your specific audience might tend to congregate on one or two social media sites, and you need to find out exactly where.

This doesn’t mean you should go out and run a bunch of ads on every social media site.

It does mean that you should have a human presence on your accounts.

Look, I love bots just as much as the next guy, but you’re going to tick people off if your Twitter “customer service” is a poorly-programmed bot.

(Bots aren’t pure evil, as I’ll mention in just a minute.)

Many brands understand how important this is, and they make sure to respond to as much customer feedback as they can. Target’s Facebook excels at this:

Other brands go above and beyond the call of duty. Some companies like Warby Parker have created social media accounts solely for customer support.

But old fashioned customer support isn’t the only option. Some businesses, especially smaller ones, simply don’t have the resources to staff a dedicated support team.

That’s one of the reasons live chat has become so popular over the past few years.

With live chat, you can have business hours, so to speak. Your customers know when you’re available, and you can respond in real time.

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It’s a super efficient and cost-effective method of doing customer support in a way that your customers will love.

The ability to talk with your customers in real time is a big benefit. It’ll increase the level of hospitality and make customers feel closer to your brand.

Correctly programmed and carefully used, Chatbots can be used appropriately.

You’ve probably seen these around. They look like live chat boxes but are handled by software.

You can program these bots to do a ton of helpful things, like ask questions and make product suggestions.

Setting up a chatbot will take a little more time, but on the upside, you won’t have to do much after it’s done.

One of the big benefits of chatbots is consistent customer engagement. Your customers can interact with your brand even when you’re not there.

Still, it’s no replacement for human contact, which is why most businesses supplement chatbots with live chat support, and they work nicely in tandem.

Figure Out How to Treat Your Customers

Customer engagement looks a lot different today than it did just ten years ago.

(Sheesh, I’m starting to sound like one of those “when I was a kid” people!)

Today, you can improve your customers’ experiences with interactive quizzes, well-timed popup offers, and even games.

The abundance of customer engagement resources also means that it’s actually more difficult to engage customers than ever before. How can you cut through all the noise?

What many businesses are discovering is that it takes a lot of value for customers to pay attention to a brand.

If you’re not an industry titan like Google or Coca-Cola, this is the road you have to take. And thankfully, it’s not too hard to navigate.

You probably already know that customers prioritize value above all else, but you might be underestimating how much value you need to provide.

There has to be a huge amount of value every step of the way.

Value isn’t just something that you do. It’s something you are.

That sounds fluffy, but it really isn’t. It means that if you’re not giving your customers value as they go through the sales funnel, you’re not doing your job.

Value is what will separate you from everyone else in your niche. You need to figure out what kind of value your customers want and determine the best way to deliver that value.

If you’ve already researched your audience’s demographics and psychographics, you’re already halfway there. All that’s left is to provide the value your customers are looking for.

How do you do that? Actionable content is one of the best ways. Content marketing is still alive and well, and people still respond well to it.

The more helpful your content is, the more your customers will engage with it.

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For your content to stand out, it should be better than your competitors’ content. (That will also help people find your site before they find your competitors.)

The Skyscraper Technique is a popular method for creating amazing content, but in the end, all that matters is providing an overwhelming amount of value with every piece of content you publish.

Use Email For Good, Not Evil

Email is a powerful tool in every marketer’s arsenal––in fact, it’s the most powerful. Email is one of the top-converting channels. It’s simply unparalleled for engagement.

Sadly, it’s often overused. How many times have you gotten annoying email campaigns you didn’t want? Probably more times than you can count.

When it comes to your email strategy, keep Seth Godin’s idea of permission marketing in mind.

When someone gives you their email address, they’re trusting you with it. They expect you to not spam them or send them content they don’t want.

That’s the idea of permission marketing. You are literally getting your subscribers’ permission to market to them, and you have a responsibility to make good on your promise to only give them what they want. That means no spam or unscrupulous tactics.

This goes back to what we covered earlier about building trust with your customers. Email plays a huge role in that. If you respect people’s emails, they will respect you.

It’s tempting to use a lot of fine print to trick people into opting in to more than one list, and you might even want to rent out your list.

But if you really want to engage your customers and turn them into lifelong brand fans, you have to stick to email best practices.

Conclusion

Being in a super specific niche doesn’t have to make your customer engagement difficult.

In fact, niche engagement has the potential to allow you to connect with your customers on a personal level.

At its core, customer engagement has the same principles and priorities no matter what kind of business you own.

But within each niche, it looks a little different.

It’s well worth your time to find out what works and what doesn’t for your customer base.

If you’ve had any problems with customer engagement in your niche, share your experiences in the comments!

And if you have any major wins tell about those, too!

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/customer-engagement-in-unique-niche/

Why Your Team Needs a Growth Manager

Growth hackers…growth managers…growth marketers — startups these days are all about growth. But are these titles just different names for the same kind of job? And if you’re in the startup world, which type should you hire and why?

This article will help shine some light on one of the hottest and most lucrative jobs in the marketing field today, while taking a closer look at how to hire the right kind of person to propel your company forward. Let’s jump right in:

Growth Manager, Growth Hacker, Growth Marketer?

At their core, all of these types of jobs have a singular focus: growth — both of revenue and reach. According to Steven Walling, former Product Manager for Wikimedia, “growth” in this case is, “a shorthand term for the cycle of acquisition, activation, retention and reactivation of users or customers.”

Every company, particularly startups, attach a different meaning to these terms. But the overall concept is the same:

  • If you’re a growth manager, you balance your time between initiating and nurturing the growth of the company. The manager part of the title implies that you may also be responsible for a team.
  • “Growth hacking” is more of a mindset than a position. People who embrace this idea are not afraid to stretch boundaries and think outside the box to get results. They may be growth managers or growth marketers or basically anyone who has an experimental mind.
  • Growth marketer is more of a “catch all” phrase that refers to someone who dabbles in growth hacking, but may also leverage more traditional marketing methods as well to get the intended result.

What Does a Growth Manager Do?

Back in the early 2000s, simply having a business on the internet did a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Companies were growing at breakneck speed and having investor money thrown at them from every corner. Things were happening so fast that there was an avalanche of bad judgements, questionable decisions and weak foundations.

Even the big companies were not immune. Amazon invested in Pets.com, which is now widely considered to be one of the biggest dot com failures. Some companies shut their doors, others stumbled but managed to hang on. It was simply too much of a focus on growth for growth’s sake.

Enter the growth manager.

Rather than build companies that are fueled by hype and publicity, growth managers look at data and results. They find ways to rise — sometimes aggressively so, mostly because of the “hunt or be hunted” competition online. Rather than hope that the playing field is leveled, growth managers are out there with digital tractors, making it happen.

Some of today’s most well-known companies, including Uber, Dropbox and even Google are hungry for growth managers. So what exactly do they do?

In essence, growth managers set achievable company growth goals, then set about making them happen. This can be done by way of data collection tools (like Kissmetrics) to determine a baseline for what’s happening on your site. They reach out to customers, look at trends, and ask themselves “how can we build upon this?”

But it’s not enough to simply grow, nor do you want to hoard data to go through later. Growth managers use the data they’ve collected to create customer personas, improve revenues and minimize costs and expenditures where possible.

Finding these actionable gold nuggets is, in itself, a full-time job. Having a growth manager on hand to not only sift through the data, but also get other departments such as product development, sales and marketing to work together as a cohesive unit, is a smart choice that nearly every company, especially startups, can benefit from.

What to Look For When Hiring a Growth Manager

According to Ivan Kirigin, who was an early growth manager at Dropbox, understanding both the skills and the role your growth manager will play within your company is vital to getting the best possible results with one.

Kirigin explains that there are no “silver bullets” in the world of growth marketing, so zeroing in on the most important areas of focus will help your manager and team work together more effectively and efficiently.

He continues in elaborating that, off course, hiring someone who can understand not just the alphabet soup of online marketing – like SEO, PPC, PR and CRO, is important, but so too is realizing that one person cannot do everything.

He recommends finding someone with a core layer of skills, such as a background in statistics, UX or branding, along with other helpful skills like split testing, copywriting or funnel building. Then concentrate on their specific knowledge channels, like Facebook ads, social media, PR and so forth. Here’s a helpful chart showing the different layers of expertise for a growth manager’s career.

From a skill-set perspective, understanding the different types of customer acquisition channels – including paid and owned media as well as earned media (PR, word of mouth, organic SEO) are vital to the growth manager. Knowing how to understand, filter and work with data, including visualization tools, are a definite plus, as are having strategic thinking skills. There is no real “growth manager checklist” – but using these requirements as a baseline can help you find a growth manager who is flexible as well as data-driven.

How to Help Your Growth Manager Do Their Best

Of course, simply having a growth manager on your staff won’t make magic happen. You’ll need to have proper data infrastructure in place so that they can gather the right details and craft a plan of action. Being able to accurately analyze user behavior as well as prepare and understand experiments, are crucial to growth success.

In addition, your growth manager will likely work alongside and with other departments, ranging from design and sales to engineering and marketing. Once different growth initiatives are in place, the growth manager will go back and look at the results, then course-correct or tweak campaigns and funnels as necessary.

Realize that by bringing on a growth manager, you’ll need to keep an open mind and open line of communication with them and the growth marketing team as a whole. They’ll no doubt have invaluable customer feedback and insights, including changes that should be made to the product or service, the website, and so on. They’ll operate on a mindset of deciding which tests will have the most desired results, how much of an impact will the changes have when implemented, and how much will it cost to make those changes.

Any avenue where the company can make big changes while minimizing costs and broadening brand and reach are changes that are worth prioritizing.

Have You Hired a Growth Manager? Share Your Thoughts Below!

If you’ve hired a growth manager, or you are one, we’d love your thoughts! What has your experience been like? If you’re looking to hire one, we’d welcome your questions! Share your thoughts and comments below!

About the Author: 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/team-needs-growth-manager/

7 Biggest PPC Nightmares Sinking Your ROI

PPC advertising should be straightforward.

You buy an ad. Your ad appears on Google. That ad gets clicked.

You spend a little dough per click, and voila – you’re a marketing genius.

Traffic is booming and you’re appearing in all the right places.

Except that’s not always how it works.

And for some strange reason, you can’t quite figure out why.

Not to worry. Most of the time, you just need to know where to look.

You need to be able to spot those common problem areas. Many of which might be lying to your face.

Here are the seven biggest pay-per-click nightmares that can kill your ROI before it even gets off the ground.

1. Neglecting Attribution Models

It’s painfully obvious to say that Google Analytics can help you track traffic and conversions.

It will show you exactly which areas of your sales funnel are working vs. which ones aren’t.

via GIPHY

The trouble is that tracking PPC conversions in Google AdWords isn’t quite the same.

Google AdWords uses a “Last AdWords” click attribution model.

Meaning that the last PPC ad someone clicks before conversion gets all the credit for that conversion.

This can make it harder to know exactly where users are engaging, what’s bringing them back, and why they converted.

That’s because PPC attribution is designed to build demand now that you’ll convert later on. It’s less like “click > conversion” and more like:

Generic impression > generic click > generic impression > brand click > conversion

To top it off, there are different attribution models that actually tell you where the credit for your conversions is coming from based on what you find important. You could assign every touch point equal credit for conversions, for instance.

Basically, it’s not as easy as saying, “I got a click and therefore my AdWords are working.”

A better solution is to focus on (1) URL tracking and to (2) create an attribution model that meets your conversion goals.

This is important because some devices act like conversion helpers but they don’t actually obtain the conversion credit.

Correct attribution tracking will display your Google AdWord conversion paths more clearly. Breaking these down into micro-conversions can help you tweak each little step.

That’s why first and last-touch attribution models don’t always cut it.

How many steps do it needs to take before the buyers can be converted?

Did they actually convert from your PPC ad the very first time?

Unlikely.

People just used it last.

✅ Social referred them.

✅ Organic found you.

✅ Email nurtured them.

❌ PPC swooped in to steal all the credit.

Put everything in its place. Don’t lose sight of the big picture.

2. Incorrect Conversion Tracking

The thing about PPC is that your ad isn’t the be-all-end-all.

You don’t sell in an ad. You just get people to click.

PPC ads typically go to landing pages that have CTAs and the CTAs are the thing that’s driving the conversion. (But how would you know if you’re not tracking attributions, right?)

Yet conversion tracking isn’t setup properly.

The primary CTA is ignored.

Or worse, you’re counting clicks as conversions.

It’s not that they were just counting the wrong conversion metrics, though. This example was actually ignoring their CTAs completely.

The primary page CTA was a phone number. Anecdotally, phone calls brought better customers that converted faster.

And yet, no call tracking.

You have nothing without historical conversion data.

❌ You have no idea which campaigns are performing best.

❌ You have no idea which keywords are performing best.

❌ And you have no idea where you’re overspending to cut back.

You’re flying blind. Any campaign tweaks or changes are shots in the dark at best.

Neglecting attribution is one thing. But screwing up conversion tracking is quite another.

Notice that this still applies to things outside of “AdWords conversions.”

More often than not, that ringing phone in the background is the direct result of your digital efforts.

70% of phone calls are driven by digital channels, according to Invoca’s Call Intelligence Index that tracked over 30 million calls.

Now compare that to the pitifully low lead generation rates in the Unbounce Benchmark Report that hang somewhere between 2.8% and 6%. And those are just leads, not even closed customers!

Those phone stats are impressive as hell now.

‘Cept for one teeny, tiny problem.

PPC gets the credit about 0.0% of the time in this instance.

Which means you, dear marketer, get 0.0% of the credit. Which nets you 0.0% of the budget required to keep those calls coming in.

Sure. AdWords call extensions are a start.

But more often than not, someone’s clicking through to your site. They’re browsing around. They’re learning and comparing before dialing.

Those call extensions catch none of this.

You need something, anything, like custom phone numbers to track dials from each page.

3. Ignoring Revenue-Based Metrics

PPC “conversions” aren’t always conver$ion$.

If your conversions aren’t making you money, they’re not conversions.

PPC success is about the big picture and the customer journey, absolutely.

But ultimately that journey should lead to a purchase. It should lead to revenue.

Clicks, impressions, and CTRs matter. To a point. But not in the big picture.

But the same holds true when PPC conversions = leads.

Just because campaign A delivers more leads than B doesn’t mean it’s “better.”

Yet that’s what happens. Every single day. In the team talks and discussions with clients or bosses.

Budget gets pulled from B and put behind A.

You need to dig a little deeper. You need to analyze how Cost Per Lead, Revenue Per Lead, and Lifetime Value of a Customer look before making those resource calls.

If you were trying to track LTV, for example, you would want to open up your Google Analytics, set the acquisition date range, select your LTV metrics, and select a few comparison metrics.

This would show you whether or not all your blood, sweat, and tears were actually making you money. Or if you’re still just measuring things that don’t matter in the long run.

4. A/B Testing Bad Offers

Uh oh! Ad CTR is low.

Better A/B test to make sure things are working smoothly, right?

Yes and no.

A/B tests can often be a huge waste of time.

It’s not to say that testing is totally useless. But most of the time you’re not actually ready for it.

Many small businesses and startups simply won’t have the transaction volume when they launch a campaign for A/B testing to make much of an ROI difference.

Roughly speaking, when you have less than 1,000 transactions (leads, signups, purchases and so on) per month, you will be better off pouring your efforts into other areas.

But look.

I know you’re probably going to A/B test anyway. I get it. Some growth hacker said it was a good idea.

If you do want to double check whether or not your campaigns are working, you should focus on testing your offers. Not fiddling with colors or CTA buttons or other A/B testing elements.

Offers are the most important determining factor sabotaging your conversions.

Want better results? Un-suck your offer first.

Don’t spend so much time and energy obsessing over A/B testing PPC ads.

Not when your offer needs help. Not when your landing pages are fugly.

And not when your unique selling proposition isn’t so unique after all.

5. Focusing on Keywords Instead of Search Terms

Google often recommends that you bundle single keywords in an ad group that revolves around the same common theme.

In fact, they recommend you “start with 10-20 keywords.”

This is great advice.

If you are Google. Because it means you make more money – off of people that follow this advice, get terrible results, and then have to spend more on ads.

That many competing keywords makes message match impossible to pull off.

You’ll end up bidding too broadly or bidding on short-head terms.

You won’t be able to laser target ads or landing pages. And you’ll overpay to get competitive traffic that’s not ready to convert.

You might select keywords. But you’re paying for search terms.

And one look at your search terms report will unveil the reason PPC conversion are nil.

In an ideal world, you should keep your keywords as tight as possible in each ad group. Some say limiting it to just a single keyword per ad group.

The reason is because you want to constrict the number of variations each ad shows up for.

Then you can refine with negative search terms to disqualify the leftovers and squeeze more from less.

6. Missing Message Match

The last tip sets up this one.

That way, each one is laser targeted to the ad and landing page.

People will convert better because your results perfectly line up with their query. And you’ll get an added bonus of better quality scores to pay less per click.

  1. The keywords someone types in, should
  2. Show up in the ad you show them, which
  3. Repeats the same messaging on the landing page

That’s how message match should work in an ideal world.

However, that’s not always how it does work.

One day, Oli from Unbounce decided that he was in too good of a mood. So he decided to make himself miserable by clicking on 300 different ads.

The result was that 98% did not match correctly.

Thankfully, there are two easy solutions to solve this problem.

AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion.

Create a list of keywords that can be swapped in-and-out depending on what someone searches for.

Let’s say you sell multiple types of furniture.

You can use one basic ad template that will automatically switch out the exact product keyword someone uses (like “Couches”).

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Dynamic text replacement on landing pages.

Same idea, but this time on your landing pages.

You can run the same scenarios to make sure that the product ad people searched for lines up with the same ad and landing page.

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In the Stone Ages of digital advertising (like seven years ago), you used to have to do all of this manually.

You would literally create variations of both ads and landing pages to literally match every single keyword you advertised on.

Technology saves the day yet again.

7. All-Around Bad Ad Creative

Sometimes, you just suck.

Own up to it. Admission is always the first step.

Your ad text is still lame. Or, God forbid, your ads or landing pages are not mobile optimized (← yes, this still happens in 2017).

Some PPC hack once told me that, “Most of the time we’ve found that people don’t even pay attention to the ad, it’s the landing page or website impression that matters most if we get that click.”

So maybe the problem you think is a problem isn’t really the problem.

But the good news is that this one is easy to fix.

You just have to avoid some of the most rookie mistakes and focus on the tried-and-true PPC methods like using headline formulas, landing page formulas, and, where appropriate, power words.

If you try to run through the exact process your customers will, these problems should become obvious.

Here’s a perfect example.

This morning I looked for a “aptitude test for digital marketing” for hiring new people.

Everything started off great, until the first result’s ad text started going into MS Excel and a bunch of other random stuff that has very little to do with marketing.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, though.

I decided to overlook the irrelevant ad copy to click on their site and check out if they had what I was searching for.

I immediately regretted it:

There are so many issues with this page it’s hard to know where to start. But here goes:

  • Zero message match. Page headline doesn’t match ad text or search query.
  • Cheesy stock photos don’t perform well.
  • A wall of text. Seriously. No one’s reading it.
  • Random salary and employment stats.
  • “Free Trial” CTA that doesn’t communicate benefit you’re signing up for.

You can see the page right here for yourself.

I’m not trying to be a jerk. (Not completely, anyway.) But so you can see how obvious these issues become.

Scroll down below the fold and here’s what you see:

More random junk.

Look:

They’re paying good money for these ads! I bet it’s not cheap.

Yet they’re shooting themselves in the foot with basic errors.

There are plenty of places you can go to learn about this stuff. You just have to do your own research. Spend an hour reading any good blog on PPC and you’d spot these issues instantly.

At the end of the day, you have to know the game in order to improve your game.

Not taking the time to learn the basics, or not learning which metrics are important or which ones you should ignore, can sabotage your PPC results.

Conclusion

Nobody said PPC was easy.

But there are certain things you can do to make it easier.

And there are many cases where you make it harder on yourself then it needs to be.

Look for conversions that lead to revenue. Track metrics and data that matter.

Don’t bother A/B testing miniscule information when it’s your offers and value props that dictate results.

Segment your funnels, but make sure each step in that funnel aligns to everything matches properly.

All of these mistakes are common. But they’re not surprising or new.

The solution is out there if you know where to look for it.

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/biggest-ppc-nightmares/

4 Mistakes I Learned About Marketing and Data While Working at a Fortune 50 Company

For the past nearly 3 years, I’ve been in charge of Audience Development for one of the largest media companies in the US.

I learned a LOT during that time. Even more important, I learned a lot about what NOT to do.

Not all of these things were personal ‘mistakes’ per se. Some were top down decisions that were influenced by lack of foresight, knowledge or budget. Others were due to an industry that is undergoing rapid change.

As John Powell said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

To that end, here are the top 4 mistakes I learned during my tenure. I hope sharing these and their learnings will spark some good discussion – either internally or in the comments below.

1. Not Investing in Building User Data

This one definitely took me by surprise.

When I arrived, I had big plans to leverage CRM data to build remarketing pools, lookalike audiences, email campaigns, etc.

But there was no CRM database.

One thing not often considered about media companies is the fact the consumer data is controlled by the cable provider. The cable company collects the payment and therefore have all the associated consumer data:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Credit Card Info
  • Purchase history
  • Login Username/Password
  • Etc.

In it’s simplest form, the media company simply provides the content the cable provider sells to the consumer. For the longest period of time, the value of collecting this data had been overlooked.

Plan of Action:

To access ‘free’ content within an app from the likes of NBC, CBS, Fox and others, you must go through an authentication process. This is done using the same credentials you would login to pay your cable bill.

In one of these apps, you’ve likely come across a login page that looks like this:

This poses two challenges:

  1. Many consumers don’t know or remember this login. As a result, a lot of potential video consumption is lost.
  2. As mentioned above, this is an interstitial page that drives to the cable provider as they own the username and password information.

In collaboration with the product team, a strategy was developed to implement a ‘free trial’ in exchange for the user’s email address. This would allow the user to forego the authentication requirement.

This was the minimal piece of information required for us to begin building a CRM and the beginning of a customer match marketing program across Google, Facebook and Twitter.

It also provided us with the initial piece of consumer data that we could subsequently build on with supplemental offers in exchange for profile completion.

The overarching lesson here is – invest in CRM. Even if you have to start with just a database of email addresses. Start somewhere.

2. Not Understanding the Nuances of Mobile Tracking

As you might imagine, much of our marketing strategy and budget focused on the mobile space. Interestingly enough, this is also a space where ad-blockers are not working.

That said, with mobile advertising comes tracking nuances that I was initially unaware of.

When I joined the team, we were full-steam into launching the first ever marketing campaign. In our haste to launch, we did not take the time to fully understand the impact of not solidifying our mobile tracking solution.

Our primary mobile advertising consisted of:

Desktop & Mobile Banner and Social Ads:

The standard process for attribution is based on the use of cookies.

When a user visits a website via their desktop or mobile device, your banner displays and a cookie is dropped on the visitor’s computers  – regardless of whether or not they click through to your website.

Depending on the ad-server being used, this cookie can remain active for up to 2 years.

Eventually, if the user performs the desired action, that same cookie fires sending the proper attribution for your campaign. All is well in the world.

Apple’s Safari browser blocks 3rd party cookies by default which makes this ‘standard’ tracking more complicated. Among other things, this means your app cannot read the cookie data stored by Mobile Safari.

This presents a challenge to advertisers as Safari’s market share is around 33% globally.

In-App Advertising (sending users to our brand websites):

I’m sure you’ve noticed when you open a link in an app, it doesn’t open a new browser window. Rather, it opens an “in-app browser”.

This makes perfect sense for UX as it allows you to quickly return to the app.

The issue lies in the cookie drop on your phone. This naturally occurs with the click, however, it only drops a cookie for the in-app browser session. Unless the conversion happens immediately within that session, the attribution is lost.

In-App Advertising (sending users to our apps):

Quite simply, cookies are not used ‘in-app’. This left us with zero attribution or cross-device tracking.

The lack of attention to these details was quickly evident. At the end of the campaign, we were left pointing to engagement metrics like impressions, CTR and social shares as a measure of success.

Not at all what a consumer acquisition campaign should be reporting.

Plan of Action:

The quickest change to a leaky attribution bucket that we could make was to tackle the Safari issue. We simply updated our social and display targeting to remove Safari browsers.

While Google struggles with mobile and socially-driven demographic/interest targeting, Facebook provides the ability to target (or exclude) users by Web browser.

While not foolproof, for the likes of Twitter and Google, we targeted only older operating systems in an effort to capture users who were still using legacy browsers.

Considering our audience was US based, we estimated that we would only be missing out on approximately 15-18% of the overall market.

The other two challenges were a bit more complicated and required a mobile attribution solution that established the match between the user’s advertising ID and the publisher.

While there are many companies available for this, after evaluation, we landed on Kochava as our solution provider.

Pro tip: if you’re on a budget, Branch.io is a completely free solution that provides many of the same features.

3. Focusing on Sexy vs. Efficient

The programmatic display and mobile space is filled with shiny new tools, ad placements, and even ad units.

Combine that with the traditional types of advertising done by media companies (think big billboards, bus sides, etc) and these quickly become distractions from tactics that are proven to work.

I think it’s fair to say we spread our tactics far too wide in the early years in hopes of capitalizing on that sexy new ad-unit or the hot new ad targeting. This was, unfortunately, at the expense of tried and true tactics like traditional paid search.

A smarter approach would have been to test into these tactics rather than build a comprehensive media plan that included them.

Plan of Action:

I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs. And Apple in general. One of my favorite quotes from him is:

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

With more data and proper attribution in place, we were more empowered to direct the media plans across the brands.

We focused on tried and true channels that significantly outperformed the “shiny objects” that had resulted in wasted spend and higher costs for creative development.

This paid off in a big way:

  • Total impressions declined significantly, however, clicks increased just as dramatically
  • Average click costs also declined
  • Cost per app install decreased nearly 200%
  • Cost per video start decreased 230%

Sometimes the ‘simple’ things just work better.

Ultimately, after seeing the data, I took away a few lessons that can be applied to almost any campaign:

Programmatic display isn’t the end all, be all. It’s an industry buzzword. I could even say ‘buzztactic’. It’s rife with click fraud and vendors with non-transparent ‘private networks’. It’s susceptible to ad blockers and comes with many privacy issues.

Don’t get me wrong. It can work.

But, test into programmatic options ONLY after you’ve exhausted the below tactics.

Focus on channels where a consumer is actively searching for you. They’re already self-qualified based on their actions. The most applicable here is paid search across Bing or Google.

Remarket your way to lower cost per acquisitions. You’ve already paid the premium CPC or CPM to get that user to your website. Typically, remarketing campaigns come with much lower costs. Why not re-engage a warm lead for less?

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#Hashtags are inherently social, but leave them out of social ad copy. Through our trimming of tactics, we also trimmed areas where consumers might be tempted to leave the topic at hand.

In this case, we removed any hashtag mentions in our ad copy so consumers would focus instead on the ‘install’. Our conversion rates improved as a result.

When pushing mobile installs, leverage a device in your creative. When you think about it, of course. It makes sense. But we proved it out via testing. Showing consumers an image of their device in the creative they’re being served improved conversion rates.

4. Not Leveraging an Always on Strategy

Consumers, myself included, are always on. Always plugged in. It’s a bad, addicting habit.

But, that also means running a campaign for a TV show only when that show is in-season leaves opportunity on the table.

There are a few challenges with being able to do this:

First, media companies are selling off the rights to their shows to the likes of Netflix and Hulu. In some cases, the ability to create a show is solely dependent on the revenue coming from these transactions.

This means an always on strategy will never be an option once the rights are sold.

Second, when we first launched our campaigns, we were spending large portions of our budget on fancy creative and higher cost CPMs trying to capture the next big thing.

This left us without budget pacing that would allow for an always on strategy.

Plan of Action:

We tackled the second issue as part of our streamlining of tactics. This enabled our budgets to stretch farther and for longer periods of time both pre-premier and post-finale.

The matter of rights was more complicated and is probably worth a completely separate post. That said, as a test, we decided to focus on a core set of shows where the rights had been retained for several years.

The hope was, if we could show a series with multiple seasons resulted in larger average views per user, we could start to build a case for investing in the rights for the more popular shows.

It worked.

We found not only were the average views per user up, but these campaigns were far outperforming pilot shows and series with limited rights.

This resulted in overall efficiencies for the campaign.

Wrapping Up

There’s no question the digital space can provide lots of opportunity for growth and learning. I have certainly learned a ton.

Hopefully sharing some of these insights will help you better streamline your digital marketing efforts, focus on what works, get your tracking in order and ultimately drive increased performance.

About the Author: Jon Clark is the founder of Fuze SEO, a boutique digital marketing company in New York. He writes regularly on SEO tactics, analytics and social media best practices. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter. When not working or writing, Jon enjoys documenting his travels on Instagram.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/4-mistakes-i-learned-about-marketing/

The Conversion Rate Conundrum: Common Mistakes and What to Do Instead

In real estate, the axiom is location, location, location. It’s first and foremost. The number one consideration.

For your digital efforts – email, web pages, eCommerce platforms – an argument could be made for a few different ones: search engine optimization (SEO), the user experience (UX), conversion rate optimization (CRO), or perhaps something else entirely.

Ask five experts and you’ll probably end up with five different answers. But what’s really the end goal? Why are you doing whatever it is you’re doing?

Conversion, conversion, conversion.

Whether that means signing up, downloading, opting in, subscribing, or purchasing, you want your target to do something. Ultimately, everything else should be assisting that one objective.

With apologies to Meghan Trainor, I’m going to suggest it’s all about that CRO. SEO is obviously necessary, but traffic alone is meaningless. And the UX? A happy and satisfied user is imperative, but try paying your rent with one.

So, at the risk of drawing the wrath of the SEO and UX camps, they both fall under the CRO umbrella (they’re all very, very important, though). But – and this is a big but – it’s a massive mistake to believe that SEO and/or UX alone will do much for your CVR.

Start with the end in mind. You need to focus on specific ways to improve your conversion rate.

CRO: An Uphill Battle

Consider this: a couple of years ago, 80% left a site without doing anything. No conversion. That figure is up to 96% in 2017. The global average CVR of online shoppers early this year was 2.48%. Those stats are a bit scary.

The good news? With numbers like that, things can only get better. It just takes time, effort, and a systematic, active approach.

But don’t fall victim to these traps, pitfalls, and mistakes.

Your Mistake: Focusing On the Wrong Things

Quick question: would you rather have something beautiful, or something functional? Would you rather be clever, or understood?

I’ll be blunt…beautiful things are nice, but functional things are essential. And that goes double for your email marketing, website, eCommerce portal, or app.

And clever? Don’t get me started. Clever headlines and subject lines don’t mean a thing if no one clicks or opens them. Consumers want to know what it’s about immediately. They don’t want to have to guess or click or open before finding out (and most won’t anyway).

Be functional. Be clear. Full stop.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good looking website. Nor should your headline be boring and the first dull thing that pops into your head. Quite the contrary. But if you’re putting beauty over function and cleverness over clarity, you’re doing it wrong.

A breathtaking site that’s confusing and awkward to navigate but bursting with clever puns, wordplay, and double entendres may win you fans, but few or no conversions. Which do you want?

Do this instead…

Put your customers first. Consider their wants and needs. Use every available data source – analytics (Kissmetrics goes much deeper than Google…just sayin’), industry studies, surveys, polls, etc. – to identify and create detailed buyer personas. Then, create a site for them.

But don’t stop there. Once you have it where you think it should be, have others take it out for a spin. Try an impartial and third-party service like UserTesting to get invaluable video of real people using your site. Where did it fail them? Take that insight and tweak.

Next, turn to the old standby: A/B testing. You’d be surprised by the big results you can get from tiny changes. Use a testing tool like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer to confirm your theories about colors, placement, copy, design, images, and more.

One site saw a conversion lift of 304% simply by moving the CTA button from above-the-fold to below it.

Don’t make it look pretty. Make it practical.

Having said that, a cheap, outdated design with grainy stock photos isn’t going to cut it, either. People won’t trust it – or you – and if they don’t believe you’re trustworthy, they won’t convert. Keep your design clean and modern, and use high quality images of your products and people.

Finally, always opt for clear – Get Your Free Trial – over clever – Click or I Kill This Puppy.

Your Mistake: You’re Targeting Just One Platform

Desktop. Tablet. Mobile. Which one is most important?

It’s a trick question. You’ve no doubt heard a lot about the increasing role of mobile devices when it comes to the online world. Chances are virtually everyone around you is staring at their smartphone screen.

Google announced a change to its algorithm in mid-2015 that made mobile-readiness a ranking factor. Since then, more people access the internet on a mobile device than a desktop computer.

Like any good webmaster, you’ve dutifully checked the mobile-friendly tool and made sure your pages passed the mobile test. Kudos.

But the desktop is not dead. Far from it.

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More people shop weekly online using their desktop than a mobile phone, and the same number shop daily using both.

Traditional desktop computers still boast a higher conversion rate than both tablets and mobile phones. In fact, desktops had a CVR that was more than 3x higher than smartphones for American shoppers in 2016 (3.55% vs 1.15% respectively).

Mobile at the expense of desktop? Bad idea.

So how about desktop over mobile?

We’ve already mentioned that more people head online using a mobile device than desktop computers, so you’d be waving goodbye to a huge chunk of potential.

And when it comes to your local market, you’re missing out if your platform isn’t mobile-ready. More local searches result in a purchase when made on a smartphone than those made on a desktop (78% vs 61% respectively).

Finally, 59% of smartphone users expect a website to be mobile-friendly and feel frustrated when it’s not. They’ll leave and likely never return.

No mobile? No way.

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Do this instead…

The solution should be obvious. Desktop or mobile? You need both. And tablets, too. Create a website or portal that looks and functions equally well on all three, and you’re ahead of the curve.

In big markets like the United States, Canada, China, and the United Kingdom, the vast majority are multi-platform people.

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Try a tool like Screenfly or WhatIsMyScreenResolution to see for yourself. Is everything legible? Are the buttons and links spread out and big enough to be easily tapped on a touchscreen? Do you use more scrolling than clicking?

Google recommends you use a responsive site design rather than dynamic content or a separate mobile URL. And it’s best to follow their advice. Of course, there’s a lot more to mobile optimization, but this is enough to get you started.

The key takeaway: Don’t sacrifice one for the other. Design and optimize for desktop, tablet, and mobile, and watch that CVR head north.

Your Mistake: You Don’t Care About Speed

This can’t get any simpler: speed matters. For your customers and the search engines. So be fast.

As you beef your site up with tools, HD images, videos, and more, your speed suffers. If you believe that a practical, responsive site and good products are enough, you’re wrong. Why?

Because if your page takes too long to load, they’ll leave before even experiencing any of that.

Nearly half of web users expect a page to load in under 2 seconds, and 79% won’t return to a site with performance issues like slow load times.

As much as 83% of users expect a page to load in under 3 seconds, and a 1 second improvement in your load time can produce a 7% increase in conversions. That’s right.

The godfather of eCommerce – Amazon – experiences a 1% loss in revenue for every 100ms delay…that’s just one-tenth of a second.

Do this instead…

Care about speed and load time. A lot. Actively work to make your pages faster and more streamlined.

Google suggests that your site take no more than 2-3 seconds to load. At most. How do you measure up?

There are other mistakes that negatively affect your CVR: you give up too easily (solution: retargeting, cart abandonment emails, etc.), no social proof (solution: add social proof), weak call-to-action (solution: make it active, make it clear, test, and optimize), and more.

Check out some of the great tutorials by Neil Patel, Glide, Kissmetrics, and HubSpot if you want to dig deeper and go further. In the meantime, find and fix these three mistakes to shift your CRO into overdrive.

Because online, it’s conversion, conversion, conversion.

About the Author: Daniel Kohn is the CEO and co-founder of SmartMail, a company that helps E-commerce stores and online retailers increase sales, average order value, and lifetime customer value through email. Download SmartMail’s 4 highest converting email templates to help jumpstart your E-commerce email marketing program.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/conversion-rate-conundrum/

Value Creation vs. Revenue Extraction: Which Kind of Business Are You?

There’s a problem in business.

Okay, fine, there are plenty of problems in the wide world of business.

Obviously, there are tons of good things in business brought about by new innovations, advances in technology, and improvements in customer engagement.

But for all the new changes, old habits sure do die hard. Specifically, there are a lot of old ideas that still have a grip on the business world.

These ideas are preventing businesses from successfully engaging present day users.

This is why so many brands are dying out; they’re failing to actually serve today’s customers. Think about your business’s focus, where you’re putting your energy.

Is your business people-first or money-first?

Because the hard truth is that a business that puts revenue first won’t be able to stay afloat in the tumultuous waters of today’s economy. It sounds counterintuitive. Doesn’t a business exist to make money?

Yes. Obviously, you need to think about profit. But when you make that your number one goal above your customers, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

This is more than just a chicken-and-egg riddle.

This is about how and why you do business.

If you haven’t given the issue some thought, I will share a few thoughts that I think are crucial to a business’s longevity and ultimate success.

The point I’m making is simple. Businesses should work to create value not just extract profits.

Let me show you the how and why.

A Primer on Value Creation and Revenue Extraction

In terms of customer interaction, there are typically two general types of businesses: value creation and revenue extraction.

You’ve probably seen both in action before, but you might not be able to tell which one you are.

So let’s start by going over the characteristics of both types of businesses and looking at some examples.

If a business is focused on value, it will naturally put its customers above everything else. (Yes, even above revenue.)

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As the definition above notes, value creation increases your business’s worth.

Listen to that again: Value creation increases the worth of your business.

How does this happen? It happens because customers are attracted to businesses that can give them something.

The more value you provide, the more attracted your customers will be to your business.

It’s a simple (and scalable) formula, but far too few businesses actually adopt it.

Many companies still believe that a revenue extraction model is the best for doing long-term business.

What’s revenue extraction?

Revenue extraction is the idea of operating a business with the sole goal of getting money from customers. It’s the exact opposite of value creation.

This little image sums it up well:

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Where value creation is focused on serving, revenue extraction is obsessed with being served.

The type of business makes a colossal difference in how customers respond and interact.

And that’s not just theory. It’s a fact.

Quick caveat here.

Obviously, every business has to focus on profit to some degree.

Why?

It’s simple.

If a business doesn’t make a profit, it doesn’t exist. End of story.

Value creation vs. revenue extraction has more to do with motivation and priority rather than simple accounting.

As I’ll explain below, placing a higher priority on value creation will produce higher revenues.

Let’s look at an example.

UrbanBound is a company that prioritizes value extraction. They weren’t engaging their customers well enough, so they listened to customer feedback and rolled out a new marketing plan that included lots of high-value content.

The results were astounding:

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That’s what value creation can do.

Okay, that was a positive example.

Now let’s look at a negative example.

From 2000 to 2014, Steve Ballmer was the CEO of Microsoft. As CEO, Ballmer was known for focusing on sales to the exclusion of nearly everything else.

I’m smelling revenue extraction.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Ballmer made it obvious that he was focused on revenue extraction, saying, “It’s easy to glorify the products produced and the reputations won, not the money made.”

Even his exit from the company didn’t stop him from having this mindset. In early 2017, he said of Microsoft, “I want to see more profit growth.”

Sure enough, Ballmer’s attitude contributed to Microsoft’s poor performance during his tenure. The company produced several products that flopped, share price was largely stagnant, and Forbes called him the worst CEO.

ups and downs of steve ballmer

When Ballmer announced his retirement as CEO, the stock price jumped 10%, which ironically enough, added even more to Steve Ballmer’s enormous wealth. He quits, and makes $1 billion. If only we could all be so lucky.

Interestingly, while Ballmer increased Microsoft’s revenue, his reign also saw a dip in customer satisfaction.

Some point to Ballmer as the big bad reason why Apple overtook Microsoft.

Apple, who seems to focus more on the customer, steadily grew its revenue while staying at the top of the American Customer Satisfaction Index for eleven years straight.

Today, the fact that Microsoft lost customers (and that Apple gained customers) in the long term is evident by just looking at each company’s revenue over a ten-year period.

apple revenue after iPhoneImage Source

So what’s the point of all of this?

If you rely on a revenue extraction business model, you’ll turn your customers into enemies.

Your sales might look good for a bit, but that won’t last long.

If you think about human nature, this makes a lot of sense. No one wants to feel like a company just wants to empty their wallets.

Rather, customers see themselves as part of an exchange system. They contribute money to a business. In return they get some sort of value.

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When customers receive value, they have a huge incentive to come back to your business.

And in a crowded economy, if you want to stand out, you have to win your customers over with a ton of value.

The world’s most successful businesses all think this way, and it’s proven to improve your relationship with your customers.

You might be scared right now, wondering if you’re focused on value creation or revenue extraction.

Here’s how you can tell.

Where’s your focus?

Businesses who focus on value creation and those who focus on revenue extraction look very different when you look at their priorities.

And, really, that’s all this is — a priority issue.

Pivoting from revenue extraction to value creation doesn’t require firing your employees, shuffling top management, or changing your logo.

It simply means an adjustment of priority. That can start with a simple mental shift.

I’ve identified five positive priorities of a value creation business.

1. You put the most effort into creating and refining your products or services with your customers in mind, and you continually take customer feedback into account.

2. You often ask your customers for feedback and maintain a strong online presence, answering questions and addressing complaints.

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3. You publish lots of free, value-packed content. You might publish so much free content that people tell you to charge for it. Hubspot is one company that does this often:

4. Your company ethos revolves around helping your customers achieve their goals.

5. Your marketing hinges on the benefits your customers will receive from your products or services.

difference between features and benefitsImage Source

Now, let’s go over to the dark side.

Here are five signs that you’re a revenue extraction business:

1. You put the most effort into your pricing schemes and/or create your products or services with profit in mind.

2. You rarely ask your customers for feedback and don’t prioritize your online presence or interaction with customers.

3. You don’t publish free content often, and when you do, it doesn’t provide a lot of value.

4. Your company ethos revolves around maximizing your bottom line.

5. Your marketing hinges on sensational tactics (like clickbait) to get people’s attention using hype.

Of course, it’s not always black and white. In fact, your company may have characteristics from both of those lists. Most businesses tend towards one side or the other.

What about your business?

If you’ve identified your business as the revenue extraction type, don’t panic.

This doesn’t mean you’re doomed to fail, and it doesn’t mean you have an evil company.

There are several tactical ways to shift from the revenue extraction model to the value creation model.

Value begins with great content

To provide the kind of value that your customers will love, you need to make some serious changes.

In particular, you need to know what your customers want and need and then give them what they’re looking for.

Learning who your customers are is important for every business, but if you’ve found out you only think about revenue extraction, you need to kick your customer engagement strategy into overdrive.

This is where it gets good.

The best way to do this is with a killer content strategy.

elements of content strategyImage Source

If you don’t have one, you need to make one.

But whether you’re revamping your current strategy or creating one from scratch, the steps are more or less the same.

Here’s a good framework for what a content strategy should look like:

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Let’s break that down.

Step 1: Plan your content

What kind of high-value content are you going to produce? This is a step you should spend some time on.

You don’t want to put out a ton of content if it’s just going to be watered down. Instead, focus on quality over quantity.

There’s a lack of high quality content on the web. If you’re one of the businesses in your niche that’s creating helpful content, you’ll easily stand out.

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Your content should revolve around information that will benefit your readers in some way. Sometimes that means actionable tips, and sometimes that means in-depth explanations.

Remember, providing value needs to be your core mission.

As long as you prioritize that, you’ll be on the right track.

Step 2: Audit your existing content

Even if you don’t have much content right now, you might still be able to salvage some or all of the content you do have.

If you search “content audit,” you’ll be greeted by several articles that focus on SEO.

You don’t have to worry about that too much right now, but you should determine if any content on your site is driving large amounts of traffic.

If you find something, you’ll definitely want to update it.

For all your other content, think critically about how well the content would perform. You can use sites like Buzzsumo to see what’s trending in your niche.

If you choose to keep any content, you should update it. Your existing content is probably low-value, so increasing the amount of value will be your first priority.

Step 3: Fine-tune your content process

During this step, think about how you can make a repeatable, scalable process for content creation. This needs to be a system that you can use time and time again.

First, you need to think about how you’re going to deliver the content. Will you use longform articles? Videos? Infographics?

Second, you need to create an editorial calendar that will map out what you publish and how often you publish it.

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Basically, you should have a smooth process in place that covers all the bases.

This will take some time to fully develop, so expect to make frequent changes.

Step 4: Set up a performance tracking system

To maintain a powerful content strategy, you need to know what’s working and what’s not.

In terms of content, your success or failure will be measured by how well your content performs.

Performance is generally measured using a few key metrics: views, time on page, and conversion actions (like email signups or even sales). These are also called Key Performance Indicators or KPIs.

You can see all of these metrics in Google Analytics. Once you get familiar with the platform, you’ll be able to track each metric individually to put your strategy under the microscope.

Step 5: Share your content

This is the “marketing” part of “content marketing.” If you’re serious about your content, you want to get it in front of as many people as possible.

Social media plays a big role in this. You’ll want to have a strong presence on the big social networks and share your content on them, optimizing the content for each site.

If you optimize well enough, your content will get lots of views and shares, and your traffic will grow.

One more thing: Having a social sharing schedule will let you make the most of your content.

But none of these steps matter in the least if you’re not delivering value.

That’s where it all starts.

Conclusion

To put it simply, the revenue extraction business model is outdated.

Customers have more choices than at any point in history.

If you don’t like one coffee shop or grocery store, you can easily switch to one of the countless others.

In most situations, every customer has the ability to decide where they want to spend their money.

You have to convince them that your company is worth spending money on.

That’s why so many businesses are utilizing high-value content strategies. People respond to value, and they want to give back to businesses who give them value first.

How are you going to provide that kind of serious value to your customers?

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/value-creation-vs-revenue-extraction/

How Push Notifications Can Increase User Engagement (With Examples)

It’s hard to imagine going anywhere without your mobile device these days. From kids tethered to their phones, to grandmas Facetiming with their grandkids, our smartphones have become as much a part of our lives as our opposing thumbs.

But just how do companies get those opposing thumbs tapping when you’re not in store, checking your email, or browsing on social media? They do it through push notifications.

Breathing New Life Into “Old” Technology

Mobile phones have been around since 1973, but shockingly, they were only used to make or take calls (and they were bulky and expensive too). It wasn’t until 2001 that Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind Blackberry, changed how we communicated on our mobile phones, paving the way for what we now know as push notifications.

Back then, if you got a new email, you’d never know it until you went to physically check your messages. This involved sending a request to the server, waiting for it to download your recent messages, and then waiting even longer for it to notify you. Because of all this traffic going to and from the server, there were limits on how many times you could do this.

With Push, RIM and Blackberry made it so that emails and updates could be received instantaneously. Blackberry devices flew off the shelves. Even the iPhone, which we typically associate with being the real game-changer on the mobile device landscape, wouldn’t be released until six years later.

But Apple was watching – and in 2009, with its iOS 3.0 update, it introduced the Apple Push Notification Service, APNS, to the world. This system was further built upon and refined in subsequent years – making it a mainstay for the way we communicate with the mobile world around us.

What Push Notifications Are and Are Not

Like a gentle tap on the shoulder from an old friend, push notifications are friendly, helpful and inviting. They are not an excuse to spam or bombard your users with irrelevant news and details. Because Push Notifications are designed to be timely, many of them revolve around actions that the consumer initiated first, such as watching a series on Netflix or booking a flight.

KAYAK notifies users if the price on a flight they’re considering has dropped. (Image Source)

Netflix sends targeted push notifications to users to entice them to watch a series, or even a trailer:

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Some, like Waze, simply work as timely reminders, even if you haven’t opted in to receive notifications, but still use the app.

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But how can marketers use push notifications to engage with their users in a way that’s not intrusive, but welcomed and encouraged? Below, we’ll take a look at several examples that showcase best practices for messaging — but first, you may be wondering:

Why Bother with Push Notifications At All?

New research suggests that up to 68% of users have enabled push notification for their apps, and marketers enjoy 50% higher open rates on push notifications compared to emails. If you have a mobile app, analysis from Urban Airship has shown that mobile app retention rates are up to 10 times greater the more frequently those users receive messages.

Like email, push notifications are a signal of user interest and some degree of trust, so keep the following strategies in mind when creating a push notification campaign your users will welcome.

Let Users Determine When, Where and How You’ll Contact Them

Starbucks Rewards has a preferences center where users can manage where and when they receive push notifications. (Image Source)

Giving the user a greater degree of control over where, when, and how they receive notifications demonstrates that you’re not only respective of their time, but are keenly interested in their business as well. This push notification doubles as a welcome message and a surprise coupon for users who sign up for Starbucks’ rewards program.

The customizability of notifications is so versatile, for example, that users can block out certain days when they don’t want to receive push notifications (such as weekends) as well as the days when they wouldn’t mind an extra caffeinated jolt (like Mondays).

Create a Rich Push Notification for Greater Engagement

A rich push notification is one that contains relevant calls-to-action, such as “shop now” or “browse”. Take a look at this example from Urban Airship which shows a push notification without and with rich media added in the form of shop and share buttons:

An example of a rich push notification with call to action buttons.
Learn how to create these types of notifications for Apple and Android devices.
(Image Source)

Even if you’d rather not go quite that far with your notifications, simply piquing your users’ curiosity with emojis can help your message stand out, like this example from online shopping store Wanelo:

An example of a curious push notification with an emoji for flair. (Image Source)

Go Beyond Merely “Checking In”

Most push notifications are designed to encourage you to check back in with the app and start using it again. But what if you could do more? Here’s an example from Swarm, a mobile app that lets users share their location with people on their social network. The user in this example screenshot has just checked into a sandwich shop:

The Swarm app lets users notify their social networks when checking in to different places. (Image Source)

Not only has the app bolded the friend and the location, but uses relevant icons to share where and what it is. From here, you have the opportunity to “like” their check in or comment (perhaps on a particular flavor they should try), which in turn encourages even greater engagement.

Follow-Up Based on Previous Purchase History

You’re likely using email marketing for a great deal of order follow-ups, but what about push notifications? This example, from H&M, sends notifications out to users based on what they’ve bought previously:

(Image Source)

You can also do this with abandoned cart notifications as well to encourage users to come back to your site and complete their order, or add accessories or other products based on their prior purchases – the possibilities are just about as unlimited as those offered with email — and because push notifications are always on, you’ll have a direct line to your customer’s attention, anytime and anywhere.

Now It’s Your Turn…

Have you used similar strategies in your own push notifications? Or are you just getting started and looking for a little inspiration? Share your success stories and triumphs with us in the comments below!

About the Author: 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/push-notifications-increase-engagement/