Archive | November, 2014

What We Can Learn From Writing Holiday Wish Lists

29 Nov

_______________image

As the holiday season approaches, children across the country will sit down with paper and crayon in hand to spell out exactly what they hope to get during the upcoming festivities. This year, Frozen-themed toys are likely to top many lists, as are the latest video games, some popular action figures, and other toys that have been flying off the shelves. Many children will compare notes with their friends at school to get ideas about what to ask for and to see what’s already on other people’s lists.

This sharing of ideas is an example of the psychological phenomenon known as ‘the bandwagon effect.’ From the activity of writing a Christmas list itself, to the toys that appear on it, children are influenced by what their peers are doing. This principle impacts all of us, no matter how old we are or what the subject matter is. Regardless of how independent we’d like to think we are, the truth is we’re all heavily influenced by what our peers are doing.

According to the bandwagon effect, we’re all more likely to do something, buy something, or use something if others are doing it. We all desire to be part of a larger group, which leads us to follow others to the latest trends and fads. People become more willing to try new products or services when they find that others are trying those products and are happy with the results.

For marketing, this can be valuable because it means your products and services can grow organically. Learning how to capitalize on this effect will give you the tools you need to make your products seem appealing to the crowd, which will enhance the bandwagon effect and your potential for word-of-mouth advertising.

How to use the bandwagon effect to your advantage

The bandwagon effect is all about convincing people that using your products and services will make them part of an established group of satisfied customers. There are several ways you can leverage this type of advertising.

  • Use customer reviews prominently on your website to show your page visitors that others have been pleased with your products.
  • Use images of satisfied customers on your website.
  • Encourage followers on social media to post pictures and stories of themselves using your products and services and the successes they have had.

You can also use the bandwagon effect to create feelings of belonging among your users. Start by creating spaces for your customers to speak to each other and compare their use of your products and services. Customers can discuss how to grow their own businesses while taking advantage of what your company has to offer. This will encourage people to feel as though they’re part of a special group, encouraging more feelings of loyalty. Facebook groups, user forums, and even just the comment threads on your company blog are good places to begin these conversations.

Helping your customers feel as though using your products and services introduces them to a special group can improve brand loyalty and encourage people to continue to use your products. Just like children designing their holiday wish lists, customers enjoy comparing notes with their friends and feeling as though they belong to a particular group. Use the above tips to encourage these types of emotions in your customers, and you should see growth in your brand.

Advertisements

5 Metrics You Should Measure in Every Marketing Campaign

29 Nov

________________image

Measuring your marketing campaigns is the best way to determine the success of your efforts. Without accurate measurements, it’s easy to be misled by regular market fluctuations or emotions. A few key areas can help you gain important insights into how your campaigns are performing and where they can be improved. Here are five metrics you should use in every marketing campaign, no matter how small it might be.

Where your traffic’s coming from

It’s important to measure your rate of traffic and know where your visitors are coming from. Identifying how many people click on your ads, follow links from other sites, or find you through search engines will make it easier to identify what aspects of your digital strategy are having the most success and which ones need more work. This data will also give you a better idea about what keywords and offers are the most attractive for customers, so you know which ones need the most attention.

Similarly, with mobile devices representing an ever increasing percentage of the e-commerce market, determining how many of your customers are arriving from mobile devices will help you know how you’re doing in reaching this important segment.

Your conversion rate

Once visitors arrive at your site, you should be measuring how many are converting and where they’re doing so. Track their engagement with the site, including how many pages they visit before they find themselves on a page that encourages conversion. Knowing which pages and types of offers have the most success with your customers will give you valuable information about how to refine your campaigns to better reach your customers.

Your cost per lead

As you measure your conversion rate, you should also calculate your cost per lead. How much are you spending on average for every lead you acquire through your marketing efforts? Just divide the total cost of each marketing campaign over the course of a particular timeframe by the number of people who converted in that period. Armed with this statistic, you’ll be able to see how one marketing campaign compares to another in terms of success.

Your number of return visitors

Page popularity and customer engagement are measured not only by the number of people who find your site, but also by the number of people who return more than once. This will give you insight into the number of people who view you as an authority worth remembering. The more engaged your page visitors are and the more memorable your brand is, the higher your conversion rate will be.

Your cost per customer

You should also carefully monitor the final cost for every customer you gain. This, combined with your other metrics, will let you see how well your campaigns are performing and how many new customers you’re pulling in for every dollar you spend. These statistics can be particularly helpful when convincing others in the company to maintain or increase the marketing budget.

Marketing metrics can be valuable tools for improving your campaigns and learning how well they’re performing. Metrics take the guesswork out of determining if something was a success. When you pay attention to these five key areas, you’ll have a very good idea how your marketing is doing.

How to Fix Your Call To Action

29 Nov

______________image

Your call to action, or CTA, is easily one of the most important parts of your website. It’s where you find new leads and convince your audience you offer something worth exploring. Whether your CTA invites people to sign up for a newsletter or download your latest ebook, all CTAs are not created the same. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when developing this critical part of the website.

The words

The words on your CTA are critical. Most people will be skimming it, so it’s important to make your offer’s potential value obvious to everyone who sees it. Use precise, clear language that explains what customers are going to receive. Bullet points are fantastic because they’re particularly easy to skim and tell the audience exactly what they’re going to receive.

The words you use in your CTA should also line up with the text around it. For example, if you offer home cleaning services and are offering a free download on the safest cleaners to use around children, your CTA will probably best fit at the end of blog posts and articles that discuss the dangers of certain cleaners or how to safely secure cleaners away from children. Try to create a tangible link between the content and the CTA. This will help ensure your offer reaches those who are most likely to be interested in what you have to say.

The appearance

While what you say is certainly important, so is the overall appearance of your CTA. Choose contrasting colors to help the CTA pop from the page and attract viewers’ attention. A CTA that just blends in at the bottom of a blog post will be overlooked and have a poor conversion rate. Similarly, make sure the CTA is big and bold, so no one can miss it. Don’t hide the CTA in the corner, using the same font size as the rest of the page. It will be too easy to ignore.

In the same way, use images and other visuals to help consumers get a concrete look at what they’ll be receiving. If that’s an ebook, for example, use a picture of an actual book with the title of your ebook printed on the front. Using images helps people develop a strong association with the product you’re offering and makes it look more appealing.

The importance of testing

When planning your campaign, develop more than one CTA, then test them to see which one resonates more with customers. You might be surprised how much difference a particular word choice or color can make on your conversion rates. Run basic A/B tests on the CTA, and get concrete answers about which offer is getting more conversions.

An A/B test is simple. Say you have one CTA and then develop an alternate page. The A/B test will randomly show some visitors the original and some the alternate page. It will then track how many people convert from each page. You can use this information to see which has a higher conversion rate, so you get the best page on your site.

Developing an efficient CTA will bring you leads and potential customers. Take the time to follow the steps above, and create a CTA that will maximize your potential.

Finding Your Crowd… On Social Media

15 Nov

_____________image

Imagine you just moved to a new area. It’s a small city with a bustling population. The local college attracts many young adults to the city, especially on the weekends, while local businesses ensure the professional crowd is also well represented.

Being new to the area, you want to find a place to go for dinner where you can meet some locals and start to get to know your new neighbors. Friday afternoon, you head into the first restaurant. It’s bustling with activity and has great music, but at a volume so loud you can barely hear yourself think. You look around and realize that the crowd is mostly college kids. Surely, some of them are great people, but this isn’t really the crowd you’re looking to get to know. You might make a connection or two, but it will likely be significantly harder to form meaningful relationships.

So, you head out to the second restaurant. As you walk in, hardly anyone looks up. Most people seem to already be finishing their dinner, and the average age in the place seems to be older than your father. Sure, there are probably some fantastic people here, too, but again, this really isn’t the crowd you’re looking for.

You try the next place. You see some people in your age range, but it seems to be a much more family-oriented scene. Most people in the restaurant have young children seated with them. While you love your nieces and nephews, you don’t have children yourself yet, so you wonder how well you’d fit in. You decide to wander on.

Finally, you head into the fourth place. You look around and breathe a sigh of relief. This establishment is filled with other professionals in your age range. This will be a great place for you to start to meet people in your new town and hopefully form some meaningful connections that can help you both socially and professionally.

So what does all of this have to do with marketing your company?

As the restaurants in our story demonstrate, different places tend to cater to different crowds. They aren’t all interchangeable. The same is true of social media. If you want to increase your odds of connecting with your audience, you have to know what types of social media they like and where they will be found. To accomplish this, you need to know the following:

A precise definition of your audience

Before planning a social strategy, you need to know who you’re trying to reach. This isn’t just a general idea of “people who need XYZ.” Instead, you need a more precise profile, including age, education, position, challenges, responsibilities, and what your prospects are looking for.

Who uses each social media platform

B2B companies tend to put a considerable amount of effort into LinkedIn, because this is the platform for networking professionals and those who are thinking about business. Facebook is dominated by people in a variety of age ranges looking to joke around and chat with friends. Twitter is a continuous conversation. Google+ has the biggest asset for local businesses looking to boost their SEO and odds of being found by local patrons.

Take these two sources of information and combine them to make a social media marketing plan that will help grow your company in ways you never thought possible. When you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, contact us. We’re here to help you get started and find success.

Just What the Teacher Ordered: The Business-Building Benefit Marketing Reports Provide

15 Nov

image81278

By the time most of us graduated from high school, we were well acquainted with researching, writing, and editing reports. College often meant more of the same.

While few would list report writing as a “highlight” of their academic career, those hours spent compiling reports were not spent in vain. Sure, report writing helped many of us learn how to plan out a project and conduct research, but they also taught us a bit about the topics we were researching, too. By forcing us to look in depth at the various subjects we were studying and analyze them from a number of different angles, we gained a far better comprehension of the subject matter than we might have if we had just read the textbook.

It’s important to remember those benefits, especially when it comes to marketing your company.

How marketing reports are like your old school reports

Like their high school and college counterparts, marketing reports can also feel frustrating. People often view such assignments as time wasters that are only done because they’re demanded by the c-level executives upstairs. In reality, however, marketing reports can offer considerable insight and help everyone better understand the company’s marketing strategies and how they can be improved.

When you sit down and really invest the time needed to complete a thorough marketing report, you’ll walk away with a much better understanding of your company’s current marketing practices, how well each campaign is performing, and how it all relates to your company’s bottom line. Without a well-researched report, it can be easy to gloss over weak spots and overlook opportunities for continued growth.

What a marketing report should exam

There are an infinite number of metrics a marketing report can examine, but some have more appeal and a greater ability to shed light on the success of your marketing strategy. Here are a couple to consider.

How much does it cost the company, on average, to obtain each new customer?

Take a look at your total cost in sales and marketing over a given period of time. Then see how many customers you obtained in that same period. Divide the cost by the number of customers, and you’ll have your average cost of obtaining a single customer.

Determine what percentage of that cost is related directly to marketing, so you can see which campaigns worked and which ones didn’t. Such insights can prove valuable in helping the marketing team improve their regular performance and illustrate the success of any changes made.

How many leads were generated directly from marketing?

Your marketing team should also be able to report how many successful leads were generated specifically from marketing efforts. Begin by calculating the percentage of customers who began as marketing leads. Then look at how many leads started elsewhere (e.g., in sales), but were influenced by the marketing department before making a purchase.

For added benefit, try to break down specifically where these marketing leads are coming from. Are prospects downloading certain ebooks? Do they subscribe to your blog? Did they take an online webinar?

Marketing reports offer valuable information about the state of your company’s marketing programs and what can be improved. Although they might be viewed with the same frustration as the school reports of your youth, they can also offer incredible insight and education. So don’t overlook the opportunity reports provide to regularly analyze the success of your marketing efforts.

3 Marketing Lessons Netflix Has Taught Us

9 Nov

__________image

Over the past few years, Netflix has revolutionized how people think about television and movies. As people have become increasingly disenchanted with cable options and the price of TV, Netflix has risen to become a major entertainment provider. Recently, the service has even begun producing movies and shows of its own. Whether you subscribe to Netflix yourself or know someone who does, here are some valuable Netflix-inspired lessons to consider for your company.

Research, research, research

We know it’s important to research our potential audience and customers, but Netflix has taken that research to a whole new level. Just consider the research that came with the company’s production of its own original shows. Netflix researched everything from viewing habits to actor popularity to the types of shows and movies people like in order to create the perfect recipe for success.

Conversely, Netflix has also shown us the importance of research with its hiccup a few years ago when it split the charges for its streaming and DVD options. While the company did manage to bounce back, people were very upset with the price hike and were so outraged at the company’s attempt to rename part of its brand that Netflix had to drop the idea. Knowing where your customers’ sensitivities lie can help you avoid such a debacle. A company that was not as popular as Netflix might have struggled to weather the storm.

Solve people’s problems they didn’t even know they have

Netflix has become popular precisely because the company has mastered this skill. Before Netflix came on the scene, people didn’t really have much of a choice besides cable. Netflix came and offered people a solution for watching movies and TV shows. The company was also able to predict customer trends and started producing and advertising a streaming service before people even realized there might be something better than waiting two days for DVDs to arrive in the mail. Netflix stayed one step ahead of its customers, which gave the company a strong reputation as a superior provider.

Encourage word-of-mouth advertising

Word-of-mouth advertising is some of the most valuable in any industry. When people receive a recommendation from someone they trust, such as a friend or a family member, they automatically give the advertisement more credence. Encouraging people to tell their friends and family, and making it easy for them to do so, has been fantastic advertising for Netflix. Just about everyone has seen those little ‘1 month free for friends and family’ cards Netflix gives out to subscribers. These cards make it simple and productive for current subscribers to encourage signups among their social circles. Once these new signups experience the convenience of Netflix firsthand, they’re more likely to stay with the company long-term.

Netflix has built success by anticipating customer needs, understanding what drives customer demand, and capitalizing on industry opportunity. As you settle into your chair tonight for a marathon of your favorite show, keep these marketing techniques in mind and see what lessons you can apply to your own business. If you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, contact us today for assistance.

Never Underestimate the Importance of Customer Satisfaction

1 Nov

_________image

Customer satisfaction is essential to any company’s growth. When you meet or exceed a customer’s expectations, they can do wondrous things for your reputation and even give you free advertising by recommending you to others. However, if you fail to meet their expectations, you’ll likely never see them again. In fact, they might even complain about their experience on public forums, such as social media.

The value of customer satisfaction

According to Bain & Company, it costs 6 to 7 times more to find a new customer than to keep an existing one. Holding on to old customers and building customer loyalty gives you the chance to improve the bottom line drastically compared to a mindset that focuses exclusively on finding new customers.

Satisfied customers can also be fantastic brand advertisers. In the age of digital media, both complaints and compliments can go viral. A customer who takes to Twitter to speak about a poor customer experience can influence untold numbers of people who are debating whether or not to use your company. Fortunately, the same can be said for those who leave positive reviews.

Individuals who feel satisfied with the customer experience are more likely to tell friends, family, and associates about their positive experience. Since people take reviews from those they trust far more seriously than advertising, the value of customer satisfaction cannot be underestimated.

Keeping your customers happy

Customer service entails more than just what happens when a buyer makes a purchase. It encompasses their entire experience and interaction with your company. With that in mind, here are some pointers to consider:

  • Keep your employees happy. They’re the face of your company. When they’re happy, they’ll make your customers happy, too.
  • Undersell and over deliver. For example, if you tell a customer you’ll call them back by the end of the business day with a suggestion, try to call them back before lunch with two suggestions. Instill this same attitude in your team.
  • Work to ensure customers experience helpfulness at every stage. Make sure your website is helpful and easy to use. Train customer service reps to focus on solving problems, rather than just selling. And don’t forget about customers after the sale. Instead, focus on helping them get the most from your product or service.

When customers find their expectations have been met or exceeded, they’ll often share those experiences with friends, family, and followers on social media. Make customer satisfaction a focus of your organization to help improve the bottom line and make the entire experience more enjoyable for everyone.