April 13, 2014 by
How well do you know your audience? Here are some ways to know them a lot better.
An online audience profile is a set of data that defines your ideal customers.
It reflects actual behaviors so it’s real, quantified and recent. To put across your message to the right people in the most effective way, audience profiles are worth knowing and doing for your business. They’re not hard to do, but it’s not the data, it’s what you do with it.
Here are 7 ways to do online audience profiling with examples, illustrations and specific benefits for your business.
- ROLES: If audiences for your business have diverse needs, Roles are an effective way to profile. For example, with an academic institution like NYU (below), audience needs are very different depending on whether your audience is undergraduate students, graduate students or people pursuing continuing education. On a website, Roles are usually called out with specific navigation tabs so each group has structured content and user experiences specific to their needs. When “tasks” like register or apply are established for each profile, the content and user experience can be measured, quantified and improved.
- BUYER PERSONAS: To empathize with your audience and understand their needs, consider developing a Buyer Persona, a hypothetical person representing an important class of visitors to your site. HubSpot offers a free template for developing Personas. The benefits to a business are Buyer Personas help construct a relevant and effective conversion experience. If your audience is “Busy Moms,” you can see how answering the questions in the example below helps better address her needs and actions.
- VISITOR ENGAGEMENT: Any business can profile their audience through their website analytic tool. Look in the Audience section of Google Analytics. Establish Segments like people who view 3 or more pages or stay on your site for 3 or more minutes or new vs returning visitors. Track this group monthly and see how this more “engaged” group finds your site, what content they view and when they take actions.
- KEYWORDS AND KEYWORD TRENDS: According to Forrester, 54% of people find a website by first typing their unmet need in the query box of a search engine. The keywords that attract your audience are an effective way to profile. From a previous posts, here are 10 Keyword Tools you can use for your website. My favorites, for audience profiling, are the Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. They tell what is the search volume and if it is increasing of decreasing. For example, since this is a digital marketing blog, I’m interested in knowing the marketing areas that reflect the interests of this audience. What are they? See for yourself.
- TECHNOGRAPHICS: With the rise of social media, Technographics classifies people according to how they use social technologies. There are seven segments to a Technographic audience. The segments reflect an “empowered” audience and the fact that, although only a small number of people in a community may be active participants, they can have great influence over others. Technographics are a benefit to a business likely to be heavily influence by reviews and recommendations. Since 78% of us trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertising, Technographic profiling makes sense for an increasing number of businesses. Here’s a tool from Forrester to define and create the seven segments for your audience. Try it out for yourself.
- ADVOCATES: 92% of us trust Advocates according to Zuberance. Advocates tend to be highly satisfied customers. They are loyal, helpful, generally aren’t motivated by incentives are represent a sustainable marketing force. To find advocates in your industry, consider profiling by the Authority Score from Technorati. It measures a site’s standing and influence in the blogosphere by calculating the number of other site’s that have linked into it within the last six months. It’s a good way to find and profile advocates in your industry.
- SENTIMENT: If the use of language, text or linguistics to define the polarity of your audience is important, there are ways to look at what your audience is saying about your business online to profile based on sentiment. A couple of tools available are Topsy and Social Searcher. The sentiment metric that Topsy provides is also rather advanced. Not only are users able to see the overall score, but the score is tempered based around overall Twitter sentiment at the time. Topsy adjusts the sentiment score based on the overall Twitter environment.
These are some of the ways you can profile your audience.
Mike Moran and I teach Social Media and Internet Audience Profiling at the University of California. You can also learn from my offering, Social Media Listening and Online Audience Profiling, Ask me about it.
Did these ways convince you of the value of online audience profiling for your business? Which one would have the greatest benefit to your business?
March 30, 2014 by
- It costs 4-6X as much to acquire a new customer as keep a current customer (source: The Times)
- 80% of a company’s future revenue will come from 20% of its existing customers (source: Gartner)
- 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75% (source: Bain and Co.)
You get the idea. You can’t be in business without putting the customer first.
Customer service is the series of activities that enhance customer satisfaction to keep customers coming back.
Some have argued the quality of customer service has decreased in recent years. That it’s due to lack of understanding and planning at the executive levels on the Return on Investment (ROI) of customer service or, more specifically, Return on Service (ROS).
Do you think so? Here’s how 12 experts measure the ROI of customer service.
- “Customer service is not being completely about services, but also as the delivery tools to create company image and customer feelings. And customer feelings are the cornerstone of any successful business.” – Aida Alakbar, TeliaSonera
- “It is no longer good enough to simply satisfy your customers or to have a product that works. What will really make the difference is when the customer asks: when I went through that experience, did the provider really engage with me, did they understand my needs, did they think logically about what was best for me? – Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service
- “Global companies spend the equivalent of 2% of their marketing budget on actively maintaining relationships with existing customers, while 86% of us have stopped working with a company due to bad customer service – it suddenly all seems to add up.” – Tom Eggemeier, EVP of Global Sales, Genesys
- “The overriding factor for consumers will be trust. - a high level of trust will result in a good customer service ROI. Consumers have to trust a supplier to deliver against its promise. Whether that is providing the best price, being available when needed, or getting a response to an inquiry,” - Customer Champions
- Once you make an emotional connection with a person, the trust and respect you gain far outweighs the benefit that you get from any form of marketing or advertising efforts. The bottom line is, customer service banks on the long-term ROI. - Evergage
- “The rank that consumers assign to a brand relative to the other brands they use predicts share of wallet according to a simple, previously unknown formula, which we’ve named the Wallet Allocation Rule. The essential distinction of the Wallet Allocation Rule is that it takes into account both rank—Is your brand a customer’s first choice? Second?—and the number of brands in the set the consumer uses.” - Timothy L. Keiningham et al, Harvard Business Review
- “A simple, practical and intuitive approach is if a company asks itself, ‘What, specifically, do we want customers to do more of or less of?’ Attitudes (such as satisfaction) and feelings (such as delight) aren’t included – only observable behaviors, such as ‘use our service more often,’ ‘purchase more items on an average visit,’ and ‘return merchandise less frequently.’” – Kinesis
- “It’s best to start by understanding the value proposition of your company. For example, do you compete on customer experience, where satisfaction measures are of primary importance, or do you compete on cost, where efficiency and productivity measures are most important?” – Kate Legget, Gardner
- “The problem is that there is an inherent conflict – a tradeoff – between a customer’s current-period purchases and her lifetime value. Businesses are obsessed with short-term results. In sales and marketing terms, it means they are simply eating their own customers, a little at a time.” – Don Peppers, Pepper & Rodgers Group
- An organization must be able to make a direct connection to a performance metric. Many times organizations just give the customer what they want. But there is a big difference between what a customer says they want and what drives value ($). To get ROI, you need to focus on value. – Colin Shaw, CEO, Beyond Philosophy
- “Stop telling consumers about something they don’t want and will never buy, because eliminating that waste through data to focus on consumers who really care about certain products gives brands a 60% improvement in return on investment.” – Laurie Sullivan, MediaPost
- “The payoff of any project can either be a profit increase or cost saving. For most cases and especially customer service improvement initiatives, the payoff is likely to be cost saving, such as reducing staff time spent on a task, improving the quality and driving towards first contact resolution, and avoiding cost associated with errors.” – Etta AuYeung – Customer Service Advantage
For more facts on the value of existing customers, check out the infographic below
Do you think customer service has decreased in recent years? Do you agree with the way these experts measure Customer Service ROI?
March 08, 2014 by
Links (also referred to as inbound links and backlinks) are hyperlinks from another web page that contains a reference to your website. It points people to your business.
Links are fundamental to being found on the internet. They prove “authority.” They are a primary criteria to search engines in determining page rank.
Links demonstrate truths about business: People like to do business with people they know. What you say about yourself is not as important as what others say about you.
To see who links to your site, there are a number of online tools.
Like anything that has value, people try to game the system. Spammers have been known to load the back end of their websites with back links. Recent search algorithm have reportedly cracked down and take into account those who genuinely earn links and discredit ones who try to trick the search engines.
How do you use links so they have enduring value? Here are 20 essential tips on link building for SEO and your bottom link.
- BEGIN BY CREATING A LIST OF HIGH VALUE LINKS: A simple way to begin is to search keywords that matter for your business; Note the websites that appears in top positions.
- CONDUCT AN INTERVIEW ON YOUR WEBSITE: An interview with a thought leader in your industry is likely to attract attention. It’s also likely to be shared by others in your field creating links with relevant sites.
- GUEST BLOG: When you write a blog for other sites in your category, you receive a link as the author. For example, I write blogs for colleagues: Mark Schaefer and his Grow blog, Mike Moran on Biznology and Rutgers CMD as part of their MBA faculty where we all teach.
- REVERSE GUEST BLOG: Ask others in your field if they would write blogs for you in return. This taps into all of their links and points them to your site.
- PARTICIPATE ON NETWORKS THAT SHARE CONTENT: Put your slideshows on Slideshare, or videos on Youtube—to promote your site’s linkable assets to sites that have big “authority.”
- GET MORE SHARES FROM GOOGLE+: Google+ posts pass link equity (because the links within Google+ posts are followed). This means the more your Google+ posts are being shared within their social platform, the more high-value links you are able to get
- REPUBLISH VIRAL CONTENT RELATED TO YOUR NICHE: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are also good places to go for content you can link from your site and expect it to be shared. Reposting is always ethical if you’re giving attribution to the original source.
- FIND QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR INDUSTRY AND ANSWER THEM: Participate in already existing discussions related to your content (forum threads, Q&As, other blogs, and online communities like Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups). Use your content as a reference to your contributions on these discussions.
- GIVE OUTBOUND LINKS TO GET INBOUND LINKS: Get in the practice of using links in your content. Often, you’ll finds those you mention in your content will offer a shout out to your business from their content.
- LEARN FROM COMPETITORS’ LINKS: Use any of the services mentioned above; use them to track links for competitive sites. You’ll get idea on other links to consider.
- CREATE CASE STUDIES ABOUT RESULTS FOR CLIENTS: If you make your clients look good in case studies about their business, they’ll be linking to your site. Referrals from clients are great business builders.
- SPEAK AT AN EVENT. Events usually give their speakers and sponsors great website publicity. You can also negotiate inbound links into your terms to be sure your time and resources yield beneficial inbound links.
- INCORPORATE “TWEET THIS” INTO YOUR CONTENT. Get inbound links by getting your content out to the masses. Including “Tweet This” links into “tweetable” content and get people sharing your content socially more often.
- PUT SOCIAL WIDGETS INTO YOUR CONTENT: Just like “Tweet This” links get your content out there, so do social sharing buttons and widgets. Put them into content like case studies, ebooks, and blog posts.
- REVIEW BOOKS, PRODUCTS AND SERVICES IN YOUR FIELD: Invite other to share their reviews and ratings and build links as well as industry authority.
- CHECK FOR BROKEN LINKS: It’s frustrating if people are linking to your site but it is to a page that is not accessible. So check for “broken” links. Google offers a browser plug-in for Chrome that does this called Link Checker.
- REGISTER IN DIRECTORIES FOR YOUR FIELD: There are reliable directories for any field that can list your business as a credible resource. As an example, this site in included in the Alltop directory of top blogs for digital and social media marketing.
- BE DISRUPTIVE: Publish articles that are likely to create create controversy and a dialogue. Mark Schaefer does this well and is doing it now with “Content Shock.”
- CROWDSOURCE IDEAS: Whether it’s a survey, request or forum, ask people for their input, ideas and opinions. It’s always a great way to create link value. It’s not only a good to elevate your “authority” in a particular field but to generate leads.
- PRODUCE VALUABLE CONTENT ON A REGULAR BASIS: Publishing valuable, useful, relevant, helpful content on a regular basis is the most reliable and fastest strategy there is to earn links back to your website. Content isn’t just king, it’s good business.
Do you think these link building strategies would build your SEO and business? Will you use any of them to build your bottom line?
February 16, 2014 by
Buyer Personas are examples of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the status quo.
Buyer Personas are extremely useful for developing and evaluating messaging, content and offers that differentiate your brand from competitors. They are a foundation for any business that relies on customer acquisition, conversion and retention which, of course, is every business.
The best personas are created from real surveys and interviews – not from ballpark guesses, conjecture or assumptions. To get you started on creating Buyer Personas for your brand, HubSpot offers a free template: Marketer’s Guide to Creating Buyer Personas.
To convince you it’s worthwhile, here are 31 business building benefits of Buyer Personas.
TARGETING AND POSITIONING
- Gives you a target for all prospects and customers
- Can’t effectively market a product or service if you don’t know who you are trying to communicate with
- Positions your products as relevant and worthy of consideration
- Provides valuable insights for prospecting, performing market research, targeting advertising, website design, usability testing and keywords for SEO
- Gives a deeper understanding and models buying behaviors of buyers and customers
- Creates higher quality lead generation
- Avoids wasting time on those less of a fit
MESSAGING AND MEDIA
- Gives you the information and perspective you need to make objective decisions about how to craft your marketing messages
- Focuses marketing and advertising efforts
- Creates compelling content and offers
- Helps determine the platforms and media you use
- Enables content to be created to meet the targeted needs of each profile and speaks directly to the needs of each persona.
- Gives a framework to have informed discussions about who your customers are, how they behave, and what they want
- Helps make better connections through a common, focused understanding of an ideal customer’s common attributes, motivations, challenges and concerns
- Helps to speak to buyers and customers in their language
- Helps to be smarter at interpreting the digital behavior of our buyers and customers
PURCHASE MOTIVATIONS IN THE BUYING PROCESS
- Gets a grasp of your prospect’s buying behavior
- Enables you to details each step in the buying process
- Are the blueprint for resources required to make a purchase decision
- Gives insight into how to foster interaction
- Relates to understanding how buying takes place and what is their critical buying path-to-purchase
- Allows you to truly tailor your marketing messages so you can get the best possible response at every touch point in the buying cycle
- Puts everyone in the company on the same page with respect to messaging and communications
- Won’t get the best return on your investment unless you conduct the fundamental research that tells you which customers are most likely to make a purchase and what you can say or do to increase the likelihood of a sale
- Allows you to develop the most cost-effective marketing strategy based on how potential customers are most likely to act
- Develops a deep awareness of their day-to-day routine, challenges, goals and other insights into the type of person they are
- Helps the marketing team better assess their segmentation, messaging and program strategies
- Aligns your sales process and communicate with prospects on a more meaningful level
- Improves the quality and quantity of conversations with your customers
- Are critical for the creation of any marketing content and campaigns that deliver conversations, especially for use with marketing automation tools and their industry-specific buying tracks
HUMAN FACE FOR SALES AND MARKETING
- Gives a human face to a collection of abstract data
In my experience, 3 to 4 Buyer Personas usually account for 90%+ of a company’s sales. This is the case with two of our clients, Global Partners and Virtual Incentives.
Do you know the Buyer Personas for your brand? Do you think it’s worth knowing them? Are you ready to develop them to build your business?
February 09, 2014 by
- 81% of marketers use email for lead generation (source: Marketing Sherpa)
- 60% of marketers believe email marketing produces positive ROI (source: Litmus)
- $1 spent on email marketing returns $44.25 on the investment (source: Experian)
These and other statistics show email marketing is a very worthwhile investment. As the numbers and chart show, most marketers see the return. Plus, it’s gratifying to build an audience that looks forward to hearing from you.
How do you create an email list that builds your brand? The most important requirement is quality content, relevant to your audience.
If you’re up for the task, here are 23 tips to a create a killer email list that builds your brand.
MAKE IT SIMPLE TO SUBSCRIBE FROM YOUR WEBSITE
- PUT AN EMAIL “SUBSCRIBE” BOX “ABOVE THE FOLD.” The best place is the upper right. They are easy to install from any email marketing service like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp or iContact.
- OFFER SOMETHING OF VALUE: Provide an incentive like an offer, free trial, video or eBook. This site offers a free eBook, 166 Case Studies Prove Social Media Marketing ROI. 90,000+ people have downloaded it. If you download it (no information is required) and like it, please consider subscribing to our email through the subscribe box right about it.
- CONSIDER POP UPS BOXES AS VISITORS ENTER OR EXIT: I’m not the biggest fan of Pop-Ups because they can scare away new visitors, but, as the chart above shows, I’m wrong. They also can be timed as visitors come or go and are relatively easy to install as a plug-in.
- SUBSCRIBE VIA COMMENTS: When someone comments on your blogs, why not ask if they would like to subscribe to your email. If they value your content, most generally want to continue to hear from you.
- SUBSCRIBE VIA CHECK OUT: If you sell products on your website, give customers the option to continue to receive news, offers and other relevant information at check out.
- KEEP INFORMATION REQUESTS SIMPLE AND VERY BRIEF: Even just an email address often reveals a lot, so limit the amount of information you request to get the maximum number or responses.
REACH NEW AUDIENCES WITH RELEVANT CONTENT
- DO GUEST BLOGGING: Gain some attention by blogging on websites that attract the audience you’re seeking. I guest blog for Mike Moran’s Biznology and Mark Shaefer’s Grow blog. We teach together on the MBA Faculty of Rutgers CMD. We’re colleagues, not competitors, and share similar audiences.
- REGISTER WITH A BLOG SEARCH ENGINE: To reach people who are searching on your particular topic, you can register for Technorati and Alltop. This website is registered with the latter for both Marketing and Social Media.
- RUN A WEBINAR: Participate in a webinar or run your own. Invite a guest. Promote on their email list as well as yours. Offer sponsorships for the webinar to gain additional email lists. Here’s an example of a webinar BarnRaisers conducted with Biznology, 12 Myths vs. Reality on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- FIND SUBSCRIBERS OFFLINE: Don’t focus only on online followers. Potential sign-ups are people you meet at events and trade shows.
- RUN AN ADWORDS CAMPAIGN: Do some keyword research to see if your newsletter is a good match for search queries, even get free Google AdWords credits. Measure through the Google Analytics for your website.
- ADD A QR CODE TO SUBSCRIBE ON YOUR BUSINESS CARD: Or your print marketing collateral that people can scan on their smartphones to opt in to your email database. 64% of decision-makers read their email via mobile devices (source: TopRankBlog)
- ASK YOUR CURRENT EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS FOR HELP: You could segment to ask current subscribers (e.g. highest open rates, longest subscribers or highest click rates) or you could ask your whole list. Just ask: Did this help you?
HAVE FANS HELP BUILD YOUR LIST
- ADD AN EMAIL APP TO YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE: Use a Facebook app like ShortStack to enable you to ask for people to join your email list on Facebook.
- RUN A SWEEPSTAKES, CONTEST OR GIVEAWAY ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE: There are many promotion apps for sweepstakes, contests and offer on Facebook. Some we recommend are Heyo, Strutta and WooBox. They all require email addresses on the entry form and an opt-in to receive email newsletters
- DO “FAN GATING” FOR YOUR GIVEAWAY: Many of the promotion app require “Fan Gating” where entrants have to “Like” your Facebook page to participate. This also helps email subscriptions.
- LINK FROM YOUTUBE VIDEOS: At the end of each of your videos, make sure you have an end card and a linked annotation to your website to join your list.
- PUT PRESENTATIONS ON SLIDE SHARE PRO: The premium version of Slideshare offers a Pop-Up Box to capture emails and leads. Slideshare is often underrated but can be very effective for not only creating attention about your blog but capturing leads.
- CREATE A TWITTER CAMPAIGN: Promote an offer like an eBook or a free resource to your followers that requires an email address to redeem
- TARGET OFFERS ON YOUR LINKEDIN COMPANY PAGE: Or in appropriate LinkedIn Groups, or recommend an offer as the answer to someone’s question in LinkedIn Answers.
- USE PINTEREST TO PROMOTE OFFER: Pin useful information to generate new leads and grow your email list.
- PROMOTE OFFERS AND EMAIL SIGNUP ON GOOGLE+: Make use, through your Google+ Business Page, of your Google+ updates and your Google+ about section for email subscriptions.
FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE
- JUST ASK: You’d be surprised how many opportunities to grow a list are missed simply because no one thought to ask.
Do these tips help you? Did they teach something new? Would you consider subscribing to our email or sharing this blog post with a friend or colleague?