Autospeak-Straight Talk contains articles covering digital and social media marketing social communities and events marketing
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Confessions From Your Customer-Yes Yours

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(Posted on May 22, 2014 at 04:42AM by William Cosgrove)

I have a confession to make. I abandon things. Online shopping carts, brands, stores, emails, entire email 
addresses. In a way, I am the consumer marketer’s worst nightmare. Not only do I abandon brands and companies, I also abandon my loyalties — even when I honestly prefer one brand over another. I use Safeway.com for groceries, and Amazon Prime for pretty much anything else, but in a pinch, I’ll just as easily use Instacart or Taskrabbit or Craigslist.

Wait, what was I saying? My Droid just alerted me of a new message from Facebook, and another tone just signaled to me on my phone and laptop (simultaneously) that I had a new work email, and now I can’t remember what I was saying to you…

The World is Getting Noisier

My point is that noise – whether it’s your competitor, or one of your audience’s many devices – is louder than ever these days. Brands push tons of information across channels, without any care to making the information relevant, and the net result is predictable: people tune out.

For example, every Saturday at 9am I get a coupon from a well-known large retail everything chain, highlighting their line of children’s clothing. I have no children, and have never bought children’s clothes from them before – I’m simply being batch and blasted. When I turn on the TV, drive down the street, lift the lid of my laptop, there is noise. So I know that I’m not the only one abandoning brands left and right – consumers all over are tuning out.

Your audience is drowned by an influx of messaging every single day. The average customer is exposed to at least 2,904 media messages. They will pay attention to 52 of those messages, and will positively remember only four of them.

So how will you make the final cut?

Conversations: The Abandonment Cure

Five years ago, I read every email that I received in my personal email. Gone are those days! Here’s what I listen to now: Social (what are my friends saying, what is hot, what do I trust?); text messages from friends and family; and conversations.

Conversations, you say? Yes, conversations. Meaningful, two-way dialogue with friends, family, and yes, brands. Whether they capture my attention in email, or through text, or on social, if the message is relevant to me (based on my persona, activity, and history) I’m most likely to pay attention. Gone are the days when “batch and blast email” programs actually worked. If I don’t feel that the brands emailing me understand my interests, I’m out.

And I’m not the only one. Consider me the representative of all of your customers. Creating these kinds of conversations is the only way marketers can get my attention, and it’s the only way you’ll get the attention of yours. The consumer marketer has to pay attention to me and my attributes, or I will abandon ship. (This actually applies to B2B marketers also – after all, the decision-makers at companies are individuals, too.)

Do you, as a consumer marketer, have visibility into your consumer’s needs? If you’re looking to create relevant conversations, here are some boxes you might want to check:


If your company has abandonment issues, create the kinds of conversations that will keep them around…Oh wait, something just pinged me. What was I saying?

By: Letty Ernst
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Everything You Know About Social Is Wrong (Statistically Speaking)

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(Posted on May 20, 2014 at 04:56AM by William Cosgrove)
There are a lot of disparate social media statistics out there. Facebook grows while declining. Google+ is bigger than Twitter except it’s not. Pinterest is the best social selling platform… unless Instagram is. Snapchat is the fastest growing social network… unless it’s Tumblr.

Many people want to bombard you with social media statistics that support their opinions and agendas, and you may be persuaded by their confidence. But they’re almost certainly wrong.
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The reason that there is so much conflicting data isn’t that there is so much variation in what people are doing. A lot of the misinformation about social media is generated (deliberately or not) by poor statistical practice.

What I want to do in this post is talk about some of the common statistical errors that cause people to draw inaccurate conclusions about who, what, why, where and how people are using social media.

Sample PopulationThe premise of most social media statistics is to make a generalized statement about the behavior of an entire population of users. It may surprise you to understand that statistical analysis often isn’t the cause of poor statistics, it’s often that a sample population isn’t representative of the general population.

A good example of this is Stephen Wolfram’s Facebook research from last year. It’s a fascinating study of Facebook connections, but it’s drawn from a population of Wolfram Alpha users (Wolfram Alpha is a computational search engine) who volunteered their Facebook data. To say that a bunch of people using a computational search engine are representative of the all social media users is in all likelihood wrong. The fact that people volunteered their data is another source of bias that I’ll touch on when I discuss sampling method.

Another good example of a non-representative population are IBM’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday reports. They are a well-known bellwether of online customer sentiment in the holiday shopping season, yet their data is drawn from 800 retail sites that use their software.
I mention the Wolfram study and the IBM studies because I draw from them frequently. These clearly are not representative studies because their sample population is different than the general population they want to represent. Yet, I make some assumptions about the populations and draw conclusions anyhow. Specifically, I assume that the Wolfram Facebook user is likely a less-engaged user than a typical Facebook user and conclude that the ties that are described in the study are at least accurate. I assume that the IBM software is used so diversely that there may be some applicability of the data to similar verticals.

I could be entirely wrong about the assumptions I make about these studies. And these are the class of social media studies (aside from the research by Pew Research Internet Project, which is oftentimes randomized and controlled). The reason there is inherent bias in so much research about social media is that the cost to do a statistically significant study that is randomized and representative is expensive.

Sampling methodSampling error is a huge impediment to the accuracy of all studies. If people volunteer information, that causes sampling bias. If you only ask a certain subset of a population, that causes sampling bias. If you use weighted results and make poor assumptions, this causes sample bias. If a statistician deliberately decides who gets asked questions, this causes sampling bias.

This is probably most notably seen in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight political polls which interpret the sampling bias of individual polls, and weight them to create a more accurate meta-analysis of political polls.

The gold standard for research is the double-blind, randomized, controlled study. Double-blind means that neither the researcher or subject knows ahead of time who gets what treatment (or question). Randomized means that anyone (in a proper representative population) could be chosen, and controlled meaning that the study is set up in a way to isolate variables to determine causation.

Here’s what you need to know about this: nobody studying social media can afford to do this. If they did, they would tell you (BIG TIME). Between sample population and sampling method, nearly every study about social media is inaccurate to some degree.

The jump to conclusions boardOnce in awhile I’ll have a person controvert something that I say about social media by saying that “correlation is not causation.” It’s a concept introduced in statistics 101 to explain that because something happens concurrent to something else doesn’t mean one is causing another. For instance, there’s a strong correlation between purchase of swimsuits and sunburns. Neither causes the other, in fact nicer weather probably causes both.

The ironic thing about social media zealots arguing that correlation isn’t causation is that many social media studies don’t even show correlation. We established that somewhat above, but let’s take it a step further:

Many studies show raw percentages of observed events without understanding the size of the sample or the calculated margin of error. Statistical confidence intervals (the most common being 90 percent, 95 percent and 99 percent) can communicate how likely it is that the same research would be duplicated if done again. Of course you probably don’t hear too much about confidence levels with most social media studies, because they don’t meet any threshold of accuracy (and because poor data in makes the point moot anyhow).
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Drug research is a good example of causation, where a drug researcher must show positive outcomes with 95 percent confidence before it can be approved for consumer use. That doesn’t mean that 95 percent of people have positive outcomes, just that it is probable that positive outcomes are caused by the drug. And the data has to be good. It’s expensive.

Correlation on the other hand is oftentimes statistically determined by a correlation coefficient, which is a number between -1 and 1 that communicates how likely two events happen concurrently (correlate). -1 shows negative correlation (me playing drums would correlate negatively with my wife’s mood for example), 1 shows positive correlation (me doing dishes would correlate positively with my wife’s mood for example), and o shows no correlation (me changing a diaper has no correlation with the Earth’s rotation).

Correlation coefficients are most notably used in Searchmetrics and Moz.com‘s annual/bi-annual ranking factor research. They assess different SEO variables to determine what aspects of a web page make for higher search rankings (specifically with Google). They use correlation coefficients of .30 and below to determine what feeds Google. Since you understand that .3 is very weak correlation you might wonder whether this data is useful at all and it is, but it can lead to some very bad conclusions.

Since any unrelated event (worldwide meat loaf consumption) might show weak correlation to search engine rankings, it may give some false positives. Facebook shares for example show relatively strong correlation to search results even though Google can’t index most of Facebook. And once again, this is one of the best examples of correlation with social media. Outside of these analyses, you’ll rarely see correlation coefficients described.

Point being that while it’s true that correlation doesn’t imply causation, what some people think is correlation isn’t.

Mean versus medianSeven statisticians are sitting alone in a bar. Their net worth with sizable college debt is $200,000. Bill Gates strolls into the bar and the mean net worth of all of the people in the bar is about $7 billion. The median net worth is still $200K. This is the difference between mean and median. Median is the midpoint of all values, mean is the average of all values.

You’ll see this oftentimes when it comes to the numbers of followers/Fans or time on site. Using a mean instead of a median is a way to artificially inflate a statistic by incorporating the biggest outliers (superusers as an example) into the aggregate.

When I see “average” or “mean” I always make the assumption that the statistic is less fantastic than it purports to be.

Is the metric given what you really want to know?Most of the big social networks tout a statistic called “monthly average users (MAU).” To be included in this group, a person must log in at least one time in a 30-day window. How important is that statistic? Not at all.

People pay their phone bill once every month. It doesn’t tell you how they pay it, how much they pay or who they pay. Point being, the easiest metrics to gather are also the most useless. Because statistical analysis is expensive to do, most people want to give the qualitative equivalent of MAU. Marketers need to be smart about what statistics are relevant to them and statistics are just noise.

There is a special place in hell for infographicsInfographics are immensely popular, and many are extraordinarily inaccurate. A good way to sum up what’s wrong with social media statistics is to talk about the collection of data in infographics, because the inaccuracy of an amalgamation of bad statistics multiplies how poorly informed a user might be.

Say an infographic has five data points about a web property.


  • Point one shows an Alexa or Quantcast rating which is biased in its sample population.
  • Point two shows a statistic from Facebook showing the reach of my Facebook page based upon monthly average users.
  • Point three shows a demographic from Pew generalized about all websites.
  • Point four shows a study about my vertical, which is derived from a population of users of a prticular e-commerce platform.
  • Point five shows an opinion poll by people who volunteered their opinion using a Sodahead widget.
None of these points gives you a great idea of who, what, when, where, why or how people are using this property, and in aggregate they collectively obscure your insight even further. And it’s probably written with a very specific point of view relative to who constructed it, which is even more dangerous because bad statistics regularly are cherry-picked to give specific narratives about products and services.

What I wanted to point out in this piece is that there is inaccuracy in nearly every statistic that you read and see about social media. It’s important for marketers to understand this and to vet these statistics and studies before accepting them as truth. Infographics in particular have a specific agenda and a tendency to mash bad data together to make it worse.

Jim Dougherty is an expert on social media and technology who blogs at Leaders WestFor more marketing advice from Jim, click here.


Image: Jan Willem-ReusinkJohn LesterKathleen Deggelman (Creative Commons)
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Geotargeting drives key brand engagements even when stores are closed

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(Posted on May 19, 2014 at 03:51AM by William Cosgrove)
While much of the talk around geofencing has focused on driving foot traffic with an ad delivered to a nearby customer, a growing number of retailers are recognizing opportunities with geofencing after stores close or when a location has shut its doors for good.

The trend points to the growing sophistication of mobile marketing, with brands increasingly looking beyond simple location to take into account other factors that can drive more contextually relevant experiences for consumers. For example, by geofencing stores that have recently shut down, retailer Ashley Stewart hopes to retain customers by driving them to another nearby outlet or to its mobile site.

“Geofencing - or location based targeting - can be an effective tool when stores close,” said Pehr Luedtke, CEO of Spotzot, San Francisco. “Retailers can geofence an area around the closed store and alert consumers to nearby locations, and even provide special deals to those consumers if they go to another store.

“It's a way to maintain loyalty,” he said.

Customer retention
Ashley Stewart recently announced a Chap. 11 bankruptcy restructuring plan that includes the immediate closure of 27 stores and a likely sale of the company. The chain has 168 locations across 24 states.

Holding onto existing customers is critical for the retailer during this period of upheaval, with location-based targeting on mobile one way it is looking to retain them.

The retailer is currently working with Spotzot on a campaign that will launch in the next few weeks in response to the fact that some stores have been closed.

For the campaign, Ashley Stewart will put a geofence around the closed stores and leverage Spotzot to deliver coupons to nearby customers and direct them to the closest open Ashley Stewart outlet or online to its Web site.

“We want to geofence customers who shop at those stores and use Spotzot to get customers to shop at the nearest location or to transfer onto the Web so that we don’t lose that customer,” said Larry Gray, CRM director at Ashley Stewart, Secaucus, NJ.

“That is a very big project for us,” he said. “It is very important to us.

“It helps us to reduce our churn and customers lapsing from the business and it gives us the opportunity to send new customers into the store that remains in the market.”

Better than direct mail
Ashley Stewart is also considering delivering coupons to customers nearby competitors’ stores in a strategy known as geoconquesting.

Ashley Stewart has been ramping up a coupon-driven mobile advertising program over the past six months with a several different providers.

Mobile couponing is becoming increasingly important for the retailer as direct mail prices continue to increase.

“It is a very important strategy,” Mr. Gray said. “It is a regular part of our couponing.

“We are reducing our direct mail with the postage rate increases, we are reducing that end of it and really pushing on this end of it,” he said.

“It is definitely more efficient than our direct mail — I would say two to three times more efficient. It is probably maybe a quarter of the budget and then there is may be 50 percent that is direct mail and then there is email that rounds things out.”

Situational targeting
1800Flowers is also trying to use geo-targeting in more contextually relevant ways.

When a recent geotargeted campaign delivered to users within a mile of 100 franchise retail locations revealed significant click-through rates between midnight and 4 a.m., when stores were closed, the ads were tweaked to include a click-to-call button and a buy online button.

The results proved to 1800Flowers that geotargeted ads are not only effective when retail stores are open.

The retailer also gained a competitive advantage since other brands were not likely tailoring their efforts towards consumers who were out and about that late at night.

The lesson from these examples is that using geofencing to deliver ads should not simply about a location but needs to also take into account a user’s context.

However, geotargeting during off hours is likely to be more limited simply because there will be less traffic near a store during these hours.

“A great use case would be for a closed store to send a message to the customer saying the store was closed, but “you can browse our inventory/order from us at our website” and/or point them to a different location,” said Janna Badalian, marketing director at MobileSmith, Raleigh, NC. “This keeps customers from having to walk up to a door only to find the store is closed, as well as provides an alternative to drive sales.

“Retailers haven’t fully embraced geofencing yet, since it is so new,” she said. “That said, people are coming up with new use cases for it all the time, and not just for retailers either.”

Final Take
By Chantal Tode associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York




Associate Editor Chantal Tode covers advertising, messaging, legal/privacy and database/CRM. Reach her at chantal@mobilemarketer.com.

Local Marketing- Do You Have it Right?

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(Posted on May 16, 2014 at 06:08AM by William Cosgrove)
Today’s Local marketing must bring together and blend both traditional, internet and mobile marketing strategies.  It needs to be a comprehensive plan that works to drive traffic within a specific geographical area to your business where a specific product or service is offered.

Local Marketing is not just an event or a campaign, but instead should be a continually evolving process. Local area marketing gives your brand the opportunity to leverage your messages to create a solid community of loyal customers who live or work close to your market area.

Advances in integrated digital technology have provided business the tools to directly market through their own websites.  The process of executing your marketing campaigns has never been easier, faster or more cost-effective. Marketing Automation allows businesses to use their site as the center for conducting all their marketing initiatives to make them more efficient and give them more control over their initiatives, save time, and reduce the need to look outside for solutions.

Local area marketing provides the best opportunity for your business to connect with your customer base off and onsite and through your social media channels to show them that you actively support and give back to the community and are concerned with your customers’ needs by promoting workshops on product and service related topics and by posting relevant content to educate, inform and answer questions regarding your products and services.

It is knowing which messages to market and where to market to your customers based on local knowledge and trends. This is the key to Local Marketing that turns campaigns into success stories. A great resource for obtaining this knowledge is within your organization-your employees.

First, you need to determine all of the local keywords for your business. These keywords need to be specific to your geographic area. This is also known as location-based keyword usage. Your site should have keywords that include your city, county or other relevant geographic information.

Keywords and phrases need to be included on every page of your website to increase your site's SEO ranking when potential customers perform local searches.

Next, promote your team.  People like to do business with local people- and be consistent, reinforce your marketing messages, have a local marketing program in addition to your stand-alone campaigns.

Consider an onsite social network. Companies with private social networks can experience better employee relations, customer service, reduced customer complaints and increased brand loyalty. Think of having a central place in which to read and understand your customers’ concerns, wants, needs and expectations.

Part of your integrated platform solution for your site must also include mobile. Fully integrated sites that include a mobile solution attract more visibility and therefore more traffic compared to using different solutions and vendors to fill your needs – And with mobile it is widely expected that in the near future, local searches will account for the bulk of all mobile searches annually. If you don’t already have a mobile solution integrated into your website's platform you’re losing ground every day.
 
And let’s not forget another very important ingredient that provides for local businesses to get found and that is listing in online directories. Listing in online directories is not complicated and by listing in as many as you can you will exponentially increase the probability that you get found in online searches.
 
These are some of the reasons that your business needs to have a comprehensive local marketing strategy in place to compete in today’s marketplace. What can you add that will help in forming a successful local Marketing solution?

 William Cosgrove


(Photo Courtesy of ADXmedia)

Existing Customers Spend 2/3 More time, Cost 10 Times Less

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(Posted on May 14, 2014 at 04:20AM by William Cosgrove)

A joint study by BIA/Kelsey and Manta found that, for the first time, small businesses truly grasp the impact their customer base has on their long term business viability. The study surveyed nearly 1,000 small business owners (SBOs) and found they now spend more than half of their time and budget focused on existing customers, recognizing that it can be up to ten times more costly to acquire a new customer. Further, a repeat customer spends 67% more than a new one.

There are nearly 28 million small businesses in America, and they are making a formidable impact on the U.S. economy. Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and account for 54% of all U.S. sales.

These findings are in stark contrast to previous studies showing that small business owners’ primary focus was on customer acquisition, says the report. A 2012 BIA/Kelsey study found that SBOs focused on customer acquisition vs. retention at a 7-to-1 rate, with more than 37% spending over half of their budget on customer acquisition and only 6% spending more than half of their budget on retention.

According to the recent survey, 61% of SBOs  generate  51%+ of their annual revenue from repeat customers rather than new customers. This is reflected in how SBOs spend their time and money, says the report. 62% of SBOs spend the majority of their annual marketing budget to retain existing customers with less than half going to new customer acquisition.

Similarly, SBOs spend the majority of their time and effort investing in existing customer relationships, with 56% of them spending less than 25% of their time and effort on marketing related to customer acquisition.

The study further supports this new alignment, revealing that channels where SBOs will increase time spent, notably email and Facebook, are those best suited to engaging existing customers.

Media Used by SBOs for Advertising and Promotion

Media

% of Respondents

Facebook Page

52.1%

Email Marketing

39.4%

Newspapers

32.2%

Direct Mail

31.7%

Sponsorships

31.2%

Source: BIA/Kelsey, Manta, April 2014

Existing customers can also be leveraged to gain new customers through digital word-of-mouth, such as customers writing reviews, checking in, and posting stories and photos of their experience with businesses. A loyal existing customer can be a brand champion and an important source of new revenue, especially since it can cost up to ten times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

Small businesses clearly understand the economics of their existing customers as the benefits of loyalty marketing are proven with increased customer spending and higher retention, yet few SBOs even have a program in place. According to the study, only 34% of SBOs have a loyalty program, while the majority do not. When asked about the purpose of their customer loyalty program, those who had one answered that they want to “Improve customer relationships” (39%) and “Grow revenue” (36%).

SBO Loyalty Program Utilization

% of Respondents

SBO Loyalty Program Situation

34%

Have a program

54%

Are NOT digital (paper, verbal, other)

46%

Are digital

66%

Don’t have a loyalty program

Source: BIA/Kelsey, Manta, April 2014

Moreover, says the report, the majority of SBO loyalty programs are offline rather than online, failing to take advantage of technologies that enable seamless implementation and deeper customer insights. Only 46% are in some type of digital form, like an email list, while 31%

are paper-based, and 17% verbal/word-of-mouth or in another form.

The report concludes by noting that customer loyalty can bring big benefits to small businesses:

  • Existing customers not only comprise the majority of top line revenue, but can dramatically affect a business’ bottom line. According to the “Loyalty Effect”, a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% to 100% increase in profit for the company
  • Existing customers that have an affinity with a brand are easier to up-sell and cross-sell. They already know and like what a brand does, so there is a measure of trust not afforded to an unknown company
  • Repeat customers are more likely to refer their friends and family to a business via word-of-mouth, online reviews, and social sites. Technology has amplified the reach of customers, making it easier to share recommendations about a particular business.
By Jack Loechner 
Center for Media Research

For more about the study, please visit Manta here.

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Paid search results don't stand out to one-third of Google users

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(Posted on May 13, 2014 at 04:38AM by William Cosgrove)
Picture Brands trying to split their time and resources between paid ads and organic content marketing should be aware that one may be more effective than the other. According to a survey by UX firm Bunnyfoot and Econsultancy, 36 percent of consumers didn’t realize the first few entries in Google SERPs were paid ads.

This is an improvement from the 41 percent of people who couldn’t make the distinction last year, and it may have something to do with Google’s updated UX. Instead of a lightly colored box indicating search results were paid for, the current design puts small yellow “Ad” markers before sponsored entries.

The study also found 27 percent of consumers weren’t aware Google even featured advertisements. So while about a third of all potential customers might be inclined to click on paid Google ads, it stands to reason marketers will get a much higher ROI from organic web marketing simply because they have a larger pool of people from which to draw

Consumers don’t like ads in sheeps’ clothingAs Brafton reported, web users are wary of native advertisements. People spend more than 15 seconds browsing web content 71 percent of the time, but that number falls to 24 percent when the reader gets the impression he or she is reading an advertisement. So marketers need to be careful not to come across as overly salesy. Instead, they need to provide actual value in the content they use to market their products and services.

That principle extends to video content as well. Unruly Media conducted a study of Super Bowl ads to determine what factors accounted for TV spots’ popularity. It turns out that of the 15 most popular advertisements, only three featured celebrities. And of the 100-most shared Super Bowl ads of all time, only 13 percent included prominent people.

Instead, the bulk of the beloved ads were “emotionally charged.” This is an important lesson for brand marketers to learn, as it indicates visibility, coverage and popularity are not equivalent to emotional resonance and interest. Rather than trying to purchase ads or create content that appeals to the largest group of people, content marketing should seek to resonate within a group of ideal and likely customers – whether through videos, social posts or organic content.

By Brafton Editorial
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Why Most Social Media Strategies Fail

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(Posted on May 12, 2014 at 04:15AM by William Cosgrove)
You do know that social media is important for your success online, right? Of course you do. It’s the 21st Century and pretty much everyone has some sort of social media account. Well, at least 73% of adults do. But just because you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest doesn’t guarantee success. Even if you have a decent amount of fans, likes, or followers, it doesn’t mean that your social media strategy is working. If you’re not generating conversations or new subscribers, or making any money, then whatever you’re doing has failed.

Establishing a social media strategy is more than just posting an update informing people that a new product or service is on sale. It’s more than just sharing a piece of relevant information. A social media strategy is a success when you are able to engage and interact with your target audience.
Social Media & Small Business (Photo credit: deanmeyersnet)

If that’s simple, then why do so many social strategies fail? Chances are that they’ve committed one of the following mistakes. But, don’t worry. These are mistakes that should be easy to correct.

Values Don’t Match

You’ve obviously created a list of core values for your business. If not, how else can you explain to others the purpose of your business? Because you have already established a mission statement, goals, deadlines, and a brand image, setting up a social media strategy should fall into place. At least in this area.

Everything that you do, or want to accomplish, on social media should be based on the values of your business. This not only guides your content and business objectives on social media outlets, but it can also generate some buzz about your brand, since you’ve also already identified your target audience and are aware of their wants and needs.

So, if you open a restaurant that serves only organic items, explain your reasons for opening up that business to potential customers. You’re not doing this because it’s a trendy business right now. You’re doing this because people aren’t eating healthy and you want to change that, at least in your neck of the woods. Share content that explains why organic food is healthy for locals and what your menu has to offer your neighbors.

Not Consistent

What’s the point in creating something awesome if no one is going to check it out?

A social media campaign demands consistency. We’re not just talking about quality and useful information for your audience, either. We’re talking about frequently sharing that valuable content. But, how much and when do you update statuses?

Unfortunately, there’s no correct answer here. It depends on your business and customers. This is where a little bit of research can come in handy, like searching for important people in a social network’s search tool. You could also use a tool like SocialBro or hashtags.org to find out some more information on your audience, like what topics are trending

You also want to know when do they go on social media outlets. For example, you could send out about 14 tweets per day, from midnight to 10pm. They just have to be spread out during the day so that your followers’ accounts aren’t flooded. The reason why you want to post throughout the day is in case if you have a global audience, which is why you could schedule posts at 2 a.m.

To make sure that you remain consistent, try using a tool that schedules and hosts all of your accounts in one place, like HootSuiteBuffer, or SproutSocial. I personally like Buffer.  And it wouldn’t hurt to create an editorial calendar, which you can do on a program like Excel. An editorial calendar keeps you organized and directed since it contains a deadline, target keywords, the format of the content, call to action, and status. And it has the ability to double your ROI.

Misunderstanding How Social Media Really Works

Here’s a common mistake: not understanding that all social media outlets are different. For example, Facebook is great because it’s the most frequently used social media service and it’s the most trustworthy. But, it may not fit your business.

Prominent social media strategist Bob Mangat says, “I think social media is an extremely effective tool, but a lot of people who say it doesn’t work, I think, are not using it right. People are not focused on where their market is. Before starting anything online, you need to have a strategy down pat to go after your target market. By spending time identifying target audience, crafting a message, and choosing the correct outlet, you can save a lot of time, energy, and frustration by doing it this way. A lot of people who fail using social media, I bet, are not spending enough time on strategy.”

Going back to the organic restaurant example, that business should focus on a more image-based platform like Instagram or Pinterest because that’s where foodies go to share and engage. But, a law firm wouldn’t really benefit from being on Pinterest. That audience isn’t there because they don’t want to look at images of a law office; they want information on how they can be helped. A final example would be not targeting baby boomers on social media, despite the fact that they’re the fastest growing group on social media.
Social Media apps (Photo credit: Jason A. Howie)


Again, it’s discovering who your audience is and where they spend most of their time. Doing this ahead of time will determine where you should focus your social media efforts. And it doesn’t take much time either. You could begin by checking out stats, like from Pew Research, that break down the demographics of each social network. Or, simply ask current customers. Just spend the extra time in understanding which network is most effective in reaching your audience.

Not Providing Anything Different

Content. Content. Content. That’s all you keep hearing about when it comes to a social media strategy. And that’s because it’s a major part of your campaign. But, if everyone else is creating and sharing content, why should people like, share, or comment on your content if it’s the same as everyone else’s?

When coming up with ideas, try and develop ones that are unique. At the very least, your ideas should be tailored to your audience. What we mean by that is putting a spin on your particular content. For example, that organic restaurant we’ve kept talking about wants to create an article like “The 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Eating Organic Food.” Sure, that gets to the point and works for that business, but it’s been done many times before. Instead, narrow that topic down to something like “The 10 Reasons New Yorkers Should Eat Organic Food”. It’s the same idea, but it now focuses on the people where the restaurant is actually located. This is more beneficial than paying someone to write or create content that has already been done hundreds, even thousands, of times before.

If you need some ideas, we suggest that you read this article from Search Engine Journal for blog ideas.

Shouting, Not Listening

While you’re on social media to push or promote a product or service, you can’t do that all of the time. People will tune you out if all you’re doing is throwing out sales pitches. Why? Because that’s not the point of social media. It’s about conversations and engagement.
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Two people in a heated argument about religion when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. Click the audio button found above and to the left to listen to them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Instead of just shouting at your audience, take the time to actually listen to them. This could be as easy as asking for feedback or sharing their thoughts on a piece of content that you shared. When you actually listen to your audience on social media, you’ll get a better understanding of what they liked and disliked, as well as the information that they would like to see.

When you understand your audience, you can produce content that they would actually want to read and share. That’s a better option than wasting resources on content that your audience doesn’t respond to.

Lack of Monitoring and Measuring

What all of the previous example boil down to, however, is monitoring and measuring your social media outlets. Even if you have identified your audience and the right network to deliver your message, you still need to keep tabs on how effective your content has been.

For example, you realize that Facebook is the best network for your brand. But, how well is your Facebook campaign doing? How many likes or shares is your content receiving? Are people leaving comments? Are you making any money or new subscribers because of your awesome Facebook content? These are important questions that need to be answered. If not, you’re continuing to create and promote content that isn’t triggering a response from your audience. And that’s just a waste of time and money.

The best way to discover this information is through the use of tools like HootSuiteKloutSocial MentionTwitter AnalyticsFacebook Insights or Keyhole. Not only will these tools measure your social media success, but they will also increase your ROI. And did we mention that they are all free?

By John Rampton
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12 Reasons Why Digital Marketing Can Help You Grow Your Business [Infographic]

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(Posted on May 9, 2014 at 04:12AM by William Cosgrove)
With the change and evolution of modern technologies, small and medium businesses are doing everything they can to keep up, which can be said true for the rest of human society. Brick-and-mortar businesses are either changing their business models to an online one, or beefing up existing marketing efforts with digital marketing strategies – in an attempt to capture a growing and very lucrative online marketplace.

For it is the process of attracting targeted audiences online that will spell the difference between a successfully thriving business – and a failed one. Even if you receive tons of daily traffic to your website, they would not amount to anything unless they convert to leads or sales. In the digital arena where business and commerce are heading to, Digital Marketing tools and techniques provide business owners the best chances for competition, survival and even business growth.

The following 12 reasons will show you why the use of digital marketing is not only investment-wise decision but also an effective marketing channel that can help you grow your business.

The Infographic:



Embedded from Digital Marketing Philippines
Author
: Jomer Gregorio He is the founder of Digital Marketing Philippines.
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Customer Loyalty Restarts With Every Experience

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(Posted on May 8, 2014 at 04:49AM by William Cosgrove)
Many articles like the one you are about to read by Dave Evans have been written on this subject and one of the best solutions is in implementing and onsite community on your site. Follow the link at the end of the article to start understanding why….

There is no better way to create measure and maintain customer loyalty than by having an onsite social community. An onsite social community offers benefits that no other medium can match and is the most economical way to maintain and grow a loyal customer base.

Customer Loyalty Restarts With Every Experience

Allegiance to your brand begins again with every experience, from word-of-mouth mentions to small social objects like status updates that are passed around and shared.

Customer loyalty is an essential component in the business equations of most firms. After all, loyalty translates directly into a clear return on investment (ROI)-related benefit: lower churn (lower cost), higher renewal and upsell likelihood (more sales), etc. So beyond the obvious - do things that make customers happy, and don't do things that drive good customers away - what are the actionable steps you can take to systematically build and measure gains in loyalty?

Whether in a digital or "real" context (and note that for an increasingly large demographic segment, digital isreal), beneficial word-of-mouth is one of the most important marketplace signals that indicates the development (or erosion) of loyalty. Word-of-mouth and the small social objects - status updates, posts, videos - that are passed around and shared become part of the conversations that define contemporary brands, products, and services. Each of these can be systematically earned and nurtured, and related back as a precursor to loyalty.

As a starting point in assessing these precursors to loyalty consider Touchpoint Analysis, the discipline of measuring customer satisfaction at each and every point where a customer comes in contact with your product or service. Each of these interactions generates a conversation: as my colleague Xavier Jiménez put it, "Loyalty restarts with every customer experience." Although it may sound a bit like "what have you done for me lately" it's important to recognize that all interactions count, not just the outstanding (positive or negative) ones.

Sure, an outrageously excellent - or terrible - experience is likely to elicit an immediate tweet. But for every one of those there are many more "typical" experiences, experiences which day-in and day-out shape the ordinary conversations that power your brand's reputation. These same experiences - because they are associated with specific product and service interactions - also set the prevailing tone for the conversations that form around products and services. In other words, they drive sales.

So the first step is to measure and track your performance at these points of interaction - customer touchpoints - where talk-worthy experiences happen. Consider plotting the results so that you can see how various touchpoints are contributing to the overall perception of your product or service.

A simple way to do this - shown in the figure below - is to assess and rank performance at various touchpoints using a 0-10 scale. Then, for the same touchpoints assess and rank the talk-worthiness - how likely your customers are to talk about this particular touchpoint. For each touchpoint, plot talk-worthiness on the X-axis and assessed performance on the Y-axis. You'll end up with a map that should be "up and to the right." In other words, given the constraints that you operate against - no one can do everything - from a social optimization perspective the touchpoints with the highest likelihood to generate a conversation should be the touchpoints for which you recorded your best performances.
In reality it's seldom this simple: If your map looks more like blob than an up-and-to-right line, focus on the low-performing, highly talk-worthy points first; consider borrowing resources from the "low-talk/high-performance" efforts and apply them to the touchpoints you really need to improve on.

You can do more with touchpoints analysis, too: organize your touchpoint map chronologically and create a simple journey map. Furthest to the left - the earliest time - are the experiences associated with formation of opinion about a brand, product, or service during consideration. Furthest to the right are the experiences associated with renewal and the advanced stages of customer advocacy. The result is an understanding of the customer journey - the path your prospective customers follow when first entering into consideration of your product or service, through to the point where that same customer, after numerous interactions, has declared him or herself a brand advocate.

To see how touchpoint experiences impact loyalty, and indeed to see how loyalty itself is impacting advocacy, take your journey map and organize it into the post-acquisition stages of support, sales, and ideas corresponding to the customer emotions of satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, as shown in the figure below.
Activity in any layer can happen independently of any other. But it's much more powerful when satisfaction (because of happiness with what has been purchased and the way your customer has been supported) leads to loyalty and new sales (because the right products or services are being offered given what has already been purchased) and ultimately to advocacy (because taken together, these are the kinds of experiences given the product or service involved that anyone would wish for anyone else in the same situation).

Why does this matter? Simple: When you place the pinnacle - advocacy - against the management of personal social capital as the basis for talking about a brand, product, or service, it's clear that from the customer's perspective it's all about managing and building his or her personal reputation in a specific domain so that when a recommendation is offered, it is not only followed but contributes further to the accrual of person social capital. From your (business) perspective, this is jet fuel for your brand ascension program - the ascension in customer emotion from satisfaction to loyalty to advocacy. Put all of this together - the reality of contemporary brand-building is that it is built on a negotiated relationship between business and customer - and you are set for success.

Look back at the main points in this article: evaluating performance at specific touchpoints, and focusing your effort on the ones that get talked about, on the experiences that are likely to lead from basic satisfaction to the first of the higher states - loyalty. Next, organizing these touchpoints chronologically to highlight the critical stages in the customer journey where these emotional stages are crossed. Finally, stacking all of this into layers themselves - satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy so that you can acquire, satisfy, and build brand advocates.

Loyalty begins with each experience: loyalty directly impacts ROI and leads to less-fiscal but nonetheless essential realization of advocacy. Follow the steps above, and at the same time score the power-up bonus by showing your customers how to build their social reputation in the domains which reflect their personal passions. Come back next month for more on how to do just that, and how to take reputation to the next level.

By Dave Evans
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave is the VP of social strategy at Lithium. Based in Austin, Dave is also the author of best-selling "Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day," as well as "Social Media Marketing.

 See Its Time to Look Within to learn more
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How a Tactile Complement Can Strengthen Digital Campaigns

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(Posted on May 7, 2014 at 05:33AM by William Cosgrove)
With advancements in digital technology, consumers have the ability to be “tuned in” at all hours of the day. They have access to email, websites, and social media—regardless of their physical location. Ironically, this group of intentionally “tuned in” people can quickly become involuntarily “tuned out” by the sheer volume of digital interactions and their fleeting nature.

So, how do you reach customers in a way that will cut through the digital noise? Adding tactile marketing to your existing digital strategies is a proven strategy to increase the overall effectiveness of your marketing investment. Tactile marketing has higher retention and response rates, with 79 percent of consumers acting on a brand’s direct mail piece immediately, according to a Print in the Mix survey.

When the Gap wanted to add a personalized, memorable component to its expansiveholiday campaign, it turned to San Francisco-based startup Sincerely. Using Sincerely’s Postagram Direct app, consumers could send Facebook photos in the form of a postcard to friends and family. Sincerely founder Matt Brezina said, “Brands can associate themselves with engaging content (photos) by turning it into a permanent memory via a less noisy channel.”

A Seamless Solution to Sending Tactile Marketing

By using an on-demand printing API, you can seamlessly access print fulfillment directly from your marketing automation platform. Clients can manage, track, and report on tactile marketing initiatives in the same way they manage digital campaigns. Sending physical pieces such as direct mail, Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), postcards, promotional items, and corporate gifts is as easy as sending an email.

Research shows that 67 percent of Americans prefer printed materials to digital, and bringing the conversation offline through tactile marketing creates a stronger bond with customers and prospects than digital outreach alone.

Trigger Tactile Marketing to Add Weight to Digital Campaigns

The response rate for direct mail is 4.4 percent, compared to email’s 0.12 percent. Determining when to trigger tactile marketing to support digital efforts can be made easier by evaluating a number of factors. If you rely on marketing automation to streamline your digital programs, here are a few examples of how to incorporate response-evoking tactile materials.


  1. Lead Nurturing: To reach key decision makers and ensure follow-up, trigger the sending of a dimensional piece, such as an iron cross mailer, when lead scores change.
  2. Loyalty Marketing: Use a printed piece to remind customers when they are eligible for redeeming award points, or gift them with a piece of swag for their continued business.
  3. Lead Management: Know what’s been sent and when prospects and customers receive the marketing so you can follow up in a way that’s personalized and relevant.
  4. Event Marketing: Send a personalized postcard to invite prospects to a webinar or roadshow. To reach a broader audience, skip the mailing list, and use EDDM to target consumers on entire carrier routes.
  5. Upsell and Cross-Sell: When a customer makes a purchase, trigger direct mail or whitepapers that features things like warranties, complementary products, technical documentation, or surveys.
  6. Conversion Optimization: Drive customers back to finish their purchase if they’ve left behind a high-dollar item. iProspect found that 67 percent of online searches are driven by offline messages, with 39 percent completing the purchase.
Tactile marketing is the high-impact complement that works in synergy with digital marketing. It’s not about trading one for the other — it’s about striking a balance where they work together to create true multichannel campaigns.

By Andrew Field President and CEO of PrintingForLess.com.