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 01, 2014 by
Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are quantifiable measurements that reflect critical success factors for an organization. They are the handful of key metrics that help you understand how your company or brand are doing against objectives. KPI’s are the actionable scorecard that keeps your strategy on track.
In the Harvard Business Review, Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, says social media measurements are “vanity metrics,” and are a waste of time. Why? Because a million Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes is always going to fail the “so what” test with any CEO.
But even CEO’s would be interested to know social media has proven marketing isn’t a monologue, but a conversation. And marketing is more effective that way.
KPI’s prove this conclusion because KPI’s are set up to explain:
- ACTION: Revenue, sales, retention and growth rates
- INFLUENCE: Perceptions and attitudes of customers
- ENGAGEMENT: Participation, interaction and frequency that secures new customers
- EXPOSURE: Reach and awareness
Are social media measurements “vanity metrics?” Or do they pass the stricter criteria required of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that keep business strategy on track?
Decide for yourself. Here are 45 KPI’s every social media marketer should know:
ACTIONS: Key metrics that explain and recurring revenue (not on a one-time basis). Possible KPI’s include:
- Sales Volume
- Profit (Net, Gross or Margin)
- Customer Retention
- Conversion Rate
- Operating Expense Ratio
- Debt-to-Equity Ratio
INFLUENCE: Key metrics here explains insights into customers. What keeps them coming back or why do they leave. In addition to customers, employees fit into this category as actions of employees also have recurring revenue value.
- Customer Satisfaction Rate
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Customer Retention Rate
- Customer Turnover Rate
- Customer Annual or Lifetime Value
- Customer Reviews
- Customer Ratings
- Customer Advocacy (testimony regarding customer experience reflected in blogs or on social networks)
- Customer Influence (impact based on Followers, Friends or Klout score )
- Sentiment Analysis (positive or negative, objective or emotional reaction)
- Text Analytics (Specific text or words that trigger influence)
- Employee Turnover Rate
- Company Reviews and Ratings by Employees (on social network or sites like Glassdoor)
ENGAGEMENT: Metrics in this area explain who is most likely to pursue a relationship with the organization or brand.
- Cost Per Lead
- Unique Visitor to Website
- Bounce Rate from website
- E-mail Open Rates and Click-Through Rates
- Social Share of Voice (SOV)
- Participation Rate (in online, social conversations and in LinkedIn discussion groups)
- Likes to People Talking About Ratio (on Facebook)
- Clicks on Links (that lead to website or actions)
- Time of Response (to people participating and engaging with organization or brand)
EXPOSURE: Measurements track awareness and preliminary interest in a company or brand
- Search Engine Ranking (SERP) by primary keywords
- Indexed Pages (on search engines)
- Links (to website)
- CPC (Cost-per-click) for paid search or social advertising
- Email List Size
- YouTube Views
Social media measurements have a role in any organization to explain influence and engagement that produces primary business actions. They also have value for audience profiling and listening.
With this perspective, maybe even Likes and Followers, could pass the “so what” test with a CEO.
Do you think social media measurements are “vanity metrics?” Do you have KPI’s in place for your business?
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?
January 27, 2014 by
If your brand has a website, more people are likely to come to it from search engines than anyplace else according to Forrester.
That means Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to secure a high-ranking placement in the search results pages, is as essential means of marketing for anybody doing business on the internet.
Is SEO a science? Or an art? Science is facts or truths systematically arranged showing the operation of general laws. Art is the conscious use of skill and creative imagination.
Here are 11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art.
SEO is a science because it operates according to mathematical laws that are statistically reliable and predictive of human behavior.
- #1 reason people come to a website is: It showed up on a search engine page when they were looking for something (source: Forrester)
- 80% of people click on a website that is on the natural or organic side of the search engine page (source: Search Engine Watch)
- 35% click through to the website that is in the #1 position (source: SEO Book)
- 90% click through on a website that is on the 1st page (source: Search Engine Watch)
- Algorithms that comprise hundreds of criteria determine how websites rise or fall in rank for specific keywords
- Volume of search for any keyword and key phrase can be easily known with tools the the Google Keyword Planner and Wordtracker.
- Demand for those keywords, if is increasing or decreasing over time, is measurable through Google Trends. So, you can even predict the value both now and in the future.
- Search rank of your domain or your competitors’ can be tracked for any keyword or key phrase to help understand the rise or fall in rank by Ispionage or Rank Checker.
- Number of links that increase or decrease your authority in a particular area and also influences search rank can be found through Majestic SEO or Alexa.
- Value of the links, whether they are high or low value authority, can be determined by SEO Majestic and Marketing Grader.
- Machines, or search bots, that do the searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are programmed to even identify the underlying meanings behind by keywords to returns the most meaningful results. The is called Semantic Search; it is predicted to play a more important role with the Google “Hummingbird” algorithm.
SEO is an art because mathematical models don’t establish business goals, know why your audience buys your product or how to convince them. You do.
- Search bot don’t buy your product; people do.
- It is impossible to model an algorithm on the needs of human being.
- Machines can’t study your niche, know your audience’s Internet surfing habit or their shopping behavior.
- Keyword research takes creativity to know what is best for your audience and where there is an opportunity.
- People read good content before the read good keywords.
- A top rank doesn’t mean people take the action you want unless you’re clear with them on your website.
- Good, relevant, quality content is what readers (and algorithms) want. If you focus on this, search visibility follows.
- SEO is thinking about how marketing can encompass social, graphic design, link building, content generation, and PR to drive toward a common goal.
- SEO and marketing is creating social buzz (especially with Google+).
- High value links have to be placed where they are going to be most relevant and cause the most desirable actions
- Keywords that flow them seamlessly into your copy are more convincing.
- Machines are incapable of storytelling
- Titles that convince people have clarity, creativity and imagination. The right keywords and key phrases just happen to be in them.
- If you view SEO as a byproduct of good content, high search rank generally follows.
- SEO can’t make your business a success, only you can.
This post comes out of a dialogue from Hollis Thomases, Augustine Fou, Mike Moran and Mark Schaefer which was inspiring and worth building upon.
What do you think SEO is more of: science or art?