What Do You Do When You Lose Organic Traffic to Google SERP Features?

Posted by Emily.Potter

Google’s increasing dominance of their own search engine results pages (SERPs) has kicked up a lot of panic and controversy in the SEO industry. As Barry Adams pointed out on Twitter recently, this move by Google is not exactly new, but it does feel like Google has suddenly placed their foot on the accelerator:

Follow that Twitter thread and you’ll see the sort of back-and-forth these changes have started to create. Is this an ethical move by Google? Did you deserve the business they’re taking in the first place? Will SEO soon be dead? Or can we do what we’ve always done and adapt our strategies in smart, agile ways?

It’s hard to think positive when Google takes a stab at you like it did with this move on Ookla:

But regardless of how you feel about what’s happening, local packs, featured snippets, and SERP features from Google, properties like Google News, Images, Flights, Videos, and Maps are riding on a train that has no plans on stopping.

To give you an idea of how rapid these changes are occurring, the image below is what the SERP rankings looked like in November 2016 for one of our client’s key head terms:

And this image is the SERP for the same keyword by early December 2017 (our client is in green):

Check out MozCast’s Feature Graph if you want to see the percentage of queries specific features are appearing on.

Who is this blog post for?

You’re likely reading this blog post because you noticed your organic traffic has dropped and you suspect it could be Google tanking you.

Traffic drops tend to come about from four main causes: a drop in rankings, a decrease in search volume, you are now ranking for fewer keywords, or because SERP features and/or advertising are depressing your CTRs.

If you have not already done a normal traffic drop analysis and ruled out the first three causes, then your time is better spent doing that first. But if you have done a traffic drop analysis and reached the conclusion that you’re likely to be suffering from a change in SERP features, then keep reading.

But I’m too lazy to do a full analysis

Aside from ruling everything else out, other strong indications that SERP features are to blame will be a significant drop in clicks (either broadly or especially for specific queries) in Google Search Console where average ranking is static, but a near consistent amount of impressions.

I’ll keep harping on about this point, but make sure that you check clicks vs impressions for both mobile and desktop. Do this both broadly and for specific key head terms.

When you spend most of your day working on a desktop computer, sometimes in this industry we forget how much mobile actually dominates the scene. On desktop, the impact these have on traffic there is not as drastic; but when you go over to a mobile device, it’s not uncommon for it to take around four full scrolls down before organic listings appear.

From there, the steps to dealing with a Google-induced traffic drop are roughly as follows:

  1. Narrow down your traffic drop to the introduction of SERP features or an increase in paid advertising
  2. Figure out what feature(s) you are being hit by
  3. Gain hard evidence from SEO tools and performance graphs
  4. Adapt your SEO strategy accordingly

That covers step one, so let’s move on.

Step 2.0: Figure out which feature(s) you are being hit by

For a comprehensive list of all the different enhanced results that appear on Google, Overthink Group has documented them here. To figure out which one is impacting you, follow the below steps.

Step 2.1

Based off of your industry, you probably already have an idea of which features you’re most vulnerable to.

  • Are you an e-commerce website? Google Shopping and paid advertising will be a likely candidate.
  • Do you tend to generate a lot of blog traffic? Look at who owns the featured snippets on your most important queries.
  • Are you a media company? Check and see if you are getting knocked out of top news results.
  • Do you run a listings site? Maybe you’re being knocked by sponsored listings or Google Jobs.

Step 2.2

From there, sanity check this by spot-checking the SERPs for a couple of the keywords you’re concerned about to get a sense for what changed. If you roughly know what you’re looking for when you dig into the data, it will be easier to spot. This works well for SERP features, but determining a change in the amount of paid advertising will be harder to spot this way.

Once again, be sure to do this on both mobile and desktop. What may look insignificant from your office computer screen could be showing you a whole different story on your mobile device.

Step 3.0: Gain hard evidence from SEO tools and performance graphs

Once you have a top level idea of what has changed, you need to confirm it with SEO tools. If you have access to one, a historical rank tracking tool will be the most efficient way to dig into how your SERPs are evolving. I most frequently use STAT, but other great tools for this are Moz’s SERP features report, SEOmonitor, and SEMRush.

Using one of these tools, look back at historical data (either broadly or for specific important keywords) and find the date the SERP feature appeared if you can. Once you have this date, line it up with a dip in your organic traffic or other performance metric. If there’s a match, you can be pretty confident that’s to blame.

For example, here’s what this analysis looked like for one of our clients on a keyword with a regional search volume of 49,500. They got hit hard on mobile-first by the appearance of a local pack, then an events snippet 10 days later.

This was the clicks and impression data for the head term on mobile from Google Search Console:

As this case demonstrates, here’s another strong reminder that when you’re analyzing these changes, you must check both mobile and desktop. Features like knowledge panels are much more intrusive on mobile devices than they are on desktop, so while you may not be seeing a dramatic change in your desktop traffic, you may on mobile.

For this client we improved their structured data so that they showed up in the event snippet instead, and were able to recover a good portion of the lost traffic.

How to adapt your SEO strategy

You may not be able to fully recover, but here are some different strategies you can use depending on the SERP feature. Use these links to jump to a specific section:

Have you tried bidding to beat Google?

I cover what to do if you’re specifically losing out on organic traffic due to paid advertising (spoiler alert: you’re probably gonna have to pay), but paid advertising can also be used as a tactic to subvert Google SERP features.

For example, Sky Scanner has done this by bidding on the query “flights” so they appear above the Google Flights widget:

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP is a project sponsored by Google to improve the speed of mobile pages. For a lot of these challenges, implementing AMP may be a way to improve your rankings as Google SERPs continue to change.

If you’ve noticed a number of websites with AMP implemented are ranking on the first page of SERPs you care about, it’s likely worth investigating.

If you are a news website, implementing AMP is absolutely a must.

Featured snippets and PAA boxes

If you’re losing traffic because one of your competitors owns the featured snippets on your SERPs, then you need to optimize your content to win featured snippets. I’ve already written a blog post for our Distilled blog on tactics to steal them before, which you can read here.

In summary, though, you have a chance to win a featured snippet if:

  • The ones you’re targeting are pretty volatile or frequently changing hands, as that’s a good indication the owner doesn’t have a strong hold on it
  • If you rank higher than the current owner, as this indicates Google prefers your page; the structure of your content simply needs some tweaking to win the snippet

If you’ve identified some featured snippets you have a good chance of stealing, compare what the current owner has done with their content that you haven’t. Typically it’s things like the text heading the block of content and the format of the content that differentiates a featured snippet owner from your content.

Local packs

At SearchLove London 2018, Rob Bucci shared data from STAT on local packs and search intent. Local SEO is a big area that I can’t cover fully here, but if you’re losing traffic because a local pack has appeared that you’re not being featured in, then you need to try and optimize your Google My Business listing for the local pack if you can. For a more in depth instruction on how you can get featured in a local pack, read here.

Unfortunately, it may just not be possible for you to be featured, but if it’s a query you have a chance at appearing in local pack for, you first need to get set up on Google My Business with a link to your website.

Once you have Google My Business set up, make sure the contact and address information is correct.

Reviews are incredibly important for anyone competing within a local pack, and not just high reviews but also the number of reviews you’ve received is important. You should also consider creating Google Posts. In a lot of spaces this feature is yet to have been taken advantage of, which means you could be able to get a jumpstart on your competitors.

More queries are seeing paid advertisements now, and there are also more ads appearing per query, as told in this Moz post.

If you’re losing traffic because a competitor has set up a PPC campaign and started to bid on keywords you’re ranking well for, then you may need to consider overbidding on these queries if they’re important to you.

Unfortunately, there’s no real secret here: either you gotta pay or you’re going to have to shift your focus to other target queries.

You should have already done so, but if you haven’t already included structured data on your website you need to, as it will help you stand out on SERPs with lots of advertising. Wrapped into this is the need to get good reviews for your brand and for your products.

Google Shopping

Similar to paid advertising, if the appearance of Google Shopping sponsored ads has taken over your SERPs, you should consider whether it’s worth you building your own Google Shopping campaign.

Again, structured data will be an important tactic to employ here as well. If you’re competing with Google Shopping ads, you’re competing with product listings that have images, prices, and reviews directly in the SERP results to draw in users. You should have the same.

Look into getting your pages implemented in Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is sponsored by Google. Not only has Google shown it favors pages that are in AMP, better site speed will lead to better conversion rates for your site.

To see if implementing AMP may be beneficial to your business, you can read some case studies of other businesses that have done so here.

Knowledge panels and carousels

Knowledge panels such as the one below appear for broad informational searches, and rarely on highly converting keywords. While they are arguably the most imposing of all the SERP features, unless you’re a content site or CelebrityNetWorth.com, they probably steal some of your less valuable traffic.

If you’re losing clicks due to knowledge panels, it’s likely happening on queries that typically can be satisfied by quick answers and therefore are by users who might have bounced from your site anyway. You won’t be able to beat a knowledge panel for quick answers, but you can optimize your content to satisfy affiliated longer-tail queries that users will still scroll to organic listings to find.

Create in-depth content that answers these questions and make sure that you have strong title tags and meta descriptions for these pages so you can have a better chance of standing out in the SERP.

In some cases, knowledge panels may be something you can exploit for your branded search queries. There’s no guaranteed way to get your content featured in a knowledge panel, and the information presented in them does not come from your site, so they can’t be “won” in the same way as a featured snippet.

To get into a knowledge panel, you can try using structured data markup or try to get your brand on Wikipedia if you haven’t already. The Knowledge Graph relies heavily on existing databases like Wikipedia that users directly contribute to, so developing more Wikipedia articles for your brand and any personal brands associated with it can be one avenue to explore.

Search Engine Journal has some tips on how to implement both of these strategies and more in their blog post here.

Google Jobs

Google Jobs has taken up huge amounts of organic real estate from listing sites. It will be tough to compete, but there are strategies you can employ, especially if you run a niche job boards site.

Shifting your digital strategy to integrate more paid advertising so you can sit above Google and to generating content in other areas, like on news websites and advice boards, can help you.

For more details on how to employ some of these strategies, you can read Search Engine Journal’s Google Jobs survival tips.

To conclude

Look, I’d be lying to you if I said this was good news for us SEOs. It’s not. Organic is going to get more and more difficult. But it’s not all doom and gloom. As Rand Fishkin noted in his BrightonSEO speech this September, if we create intelligent SEO strategies with an eye towards the future, then we have the opportunity to be ahead of the curve when the real disruption hits.

We also need to start integrating our SEO strategies with other mediums; we need to be educated on optimizing for social media, paid advertising, and other tactics for raising brand awareness. The more adaptable and diverse your online marketing strategies are, the better.

Google will always be getting smarter, which just means we have to get smarter too.

To quote Jayson DeMers,

“If you define SEO as the ability to manipulate your way to the top of search rankings, then SEO will die. But if you define SEO as the practice of improving a website’s visibility in search results, then SEO will never die; it will only continue to evolve.”

Search, like nearly every other industry today, will continue to come against dramatic unanticipated changes in the future. Yet search will also only continue to grow in importance. It may become increasingly more difficult to manipulate your way to the top of search results, but there will always be a need to try, and Google will continue to reward content that serves its users well.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 2 days ago from tracking.feedpress.it

How to build customer loyalty during peak season?

According to eMarketer, only around 46% of customers claim that the overall price is the number one reason why they buy gifts from a particular retailer. This leaves plenty of room for other forms of customer retention that don’t involve ridiculous price drops, which compromise your company’s profit margin.

On top of that, more and more companies are realizing that brand loyalty cannot be gained through discounts. Private White, a British outerwear brand for men decided to launch a Black Friday campaign that offers 0% off. See James Eden’s LinkedIn post for more details on why they left the price wars for the competition.

Here are the three most powerful practices that ensure shoppers stay with you – even after the holiday craze has quieted down.

1. Personalized emails

If there is something customers like, it’s being treated like a VIP by their favorite company. Sending your customers a message or newsletter that is tailored to their shopping persona will no doubt make them feel appreciated.

Make sure to craft an email template that reflects relevant information. Don’t stop at simple data such as the name, spice up the message with product recommendations that match their purchase history. Pay attention to subtle additions as well, such as changing the backdrop to match the recipients favorite color or showcasing a tier-specific logo. The possibilities are endless, so be creative!

Harvey Nichols loyalty program

It goes without saying that your emails should reflect the atmosphere of the current season. To add more spice to your campaign, consider assigning different pictures and content to male and female customers, or creating higher quality designs for top-tier members.

2. Loyalty program

Launching a loyalty program is a valuable way to increase customer engagement, especially during the retail rush.

  • A loyalty program elevates your existing customer retention strategies
  • Reward additional actions that aren’t related to the buying cycle, such working out or referring friends
  • Use points, or scrap points altogether; both systems work
  • Add alluring bonuses, like discounts or free shipping, or take the concept to the next level and use experiential rewards to give customers personal treatment

On the other hand, loyalty programs can help you better understand your customers because you can reward customers for taking part in surveys or completing their profile. Doing so provides valuable information that could be later used for personalization. Think about the rich data you could acquire, such as birthday, gender, sizing, favorite color or brand preference.

It’s also worth mentioning that the concept of Recognition Loyalty™ further expands the possibilities by introducing the concept of membership tiers.

Represent loyalty structure

To give you an example, Represent, a shared client of dotmailer and Antavo, has six tiers. Each tier offers incremental benefits. Participants are ranked according to their overall spending value, which motivates them to increase their purchase frequency throughout the year, so they can climb the ladder and unlock more rewards.

3. Memorable experiences

My final piece of advice for improving customer retention during peak retail seasons is to focus on surprise and delight elements. People love to receive gifts, and the gesture is even more impactful when the recipients aren’t expecting it.

So, what should be in your gift box? Sweepstakes are a good start because they have a game-like feeling. During Christmas, a calendar that offers limited-time bonuses each day would amaze your customers, no doubt about it.

Of course, no one can resist a great deal, especially if there is a time limit attached to it. Granting double or triple points for products during the holidays has the power to mobilize shoppers.

Luisaviaroma loyalty program

To illustrate the power of surprise and delight, look at the email campaign of one of Antavo’s clients, LuisaViaRoma. Their birthday emails not only increased the active members of the Privilege Program by 50%, but these emails ended up among the company’s Top 3 highest netting campaigns.

Maintaining Engagement Requires Constant Effort

If you really wish to stand out from the competition and keep the customers you gather during the peak season, then you need a constantly-evolving strategy that implements the latest innovations.

The time of ‘set it and forget it’ or ‘one size fits all’ solutions are over; customers want a more personalized experience that constantly gives them new opportunities to interact with your brand –not just when they open their wallets, but also when they’re living their lives, outside the buying cycle.

Interested in learning more about customer retention and engaging your customers in a meaningful way? Here is the Definitive Guide to Creating a Successful Loyalty Program that dives even deeper into the topic.

The post How to build customer loyalty during peak season? appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 week ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Turning your online browsers into buyers

Think about it. A customer signs up to your online fashion site:

They’re into international designers?
They want to receive invites to exclusive events?
Stated they’ll only purchase items that are organic?

The reality? They’ve only ever bought designer clothes that were on sale. They haven’t visited the organic clothes page on your website and are too busy to attend any events.

So how do you deal with a customer who won’t say what they want, or do what they say?

Make sure you listen to them over time. Use the signals you receive to have a two-way conversation with your customers. As a new friend slowly reveals more and more about themselves, so will your customers.

They’ll click through to your site from your emails, visit various pages or the same pages multiple times. They may order products and services from you. Don’t ignore any of this. This is implicit data. Use these signals to create timely and relevant conversations with your customers. At scale.

How?

Collect and understand tracking data

Track your customers’ behavior through what they’re clicking on, to what they’re browsing on your site. You can do all this through dotmailer’s web behavior tracking. This is where your customers’ browsing activity is tracked, stored and made available for you. This data can be used to segment contacts, and send them focused, relevant and timely content and more.

Creating segments helps you better understand your database. For example, maybe there’s a group out there who always buy full price products? These are valuable customers and need to be targeted accordingly – not sent more irrelevant emails. Maybe there’s a group out there who visited your website more than once in the past six months but have never bought anything? An abandoned browse strategy could help turn this group from browsers to buyers.

Opening packages

Decide on an approach

There are a couple of different approaches you can take, depending on the time and effort you want to put in. My advice? Short-term pain for long-term gain.

Put in the time to create your intelligent automated programs. These ‘set-and-forget’ programs ensure your communications are relevant and timely, without you having to hit send every time. You can even include SMS, Facebook and push notifications in your program to catch subscribers on the channel right for them.

Have they recently browsed the Australian designer’s page but not made a purchase? Send them an email featuring best-sellers from the brand! You can have any variation depending on the categories and content on your site. The possibilities – and potential for revenue – are endless! Programs can also be used to capture preference data on your customers. If they have browsed Australian designers, mark these customers as preferring Australian designers.

You can even build dynamic content into your automation programs. Why not try tailoring your hero image and content based on previous browsing data? If you know your subscribers have been looking at shoes a lot recently, use shoes as the hero image and have an accessories image for everyone else.

Online shopping

Analyze and optimize

Analyzing results is easy thanks to our campaign reporting features and tools like Google Analytics. (Did I mention dotmailer makes it easy to add tracking tools like Google Analytics to your campaigns?) As your program runs, you can analyze the impact it’s having on your engagement and revenue, immediately, and over time.

To maximize the learning from your campaign, follow the simple steps:

  1. Send subscribers emails without any personalization and record the revenue for that month.
  2. The following month, introduce personalized automated programs featuring email and SMS. Compare the revenue for that month to the previous month. Has there been any uplift? Has it remained the same?
  3. Taking your learnings and consider any possible changes to your program. Maybe you could change the number of days between emails or introduce an offer or incentive.  You may have only focused on a few products or categories in your automated programs. Try focusing on other products or services across your range and see if these affect your revenue. These tests will help you see what impact your campaign is having.

I hope you’ve found this helpful for setting up your new automation program. Following these tips and tricks will help you turn your online browsers into committed buyers and, in turn, increase your revenue.

To learn more about dotmailer’s web insight tool, and further strategies for turning browsers into buyers, please contact your Customer Success Manager.

The post Turning your online browsers into buyers appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 week ago from blog.dotmailer.com

What the Local Customer Service Ecosystem Looks Like in 2019

Posted by MiriamEllis

Everything your brand does in the new year should support just one goal: better local customer service.

Does this sound too simple? Doesn’t marketing brim with a thousand different tasks? Of course — but if the goal of each initiative isn’t to serve the customer better, it’s time for a change of business heart. By putting customers, and their problems, at the absolute center of your brand’s strategy, your enterprise will continuously return to this heart of the matter, this heart of commerce.

What is local customer service in 2019?

It’s so much more than the face-to-face interactions of one staffer with one shopper. Rather, it’s a commitment to becoming an always-on resource that is accessible to people whenever, wherever and however they need it. A Google rep was recently quoted as saying that 46% of searches have a local intent. Mobile search, combined with desktop and various forms of ambient search, have established the local web as man’s other best friend, the constant companion that’s ever ready to serve.

Let’s position your brand to become that faithful helper by establishing the local customer service ecosystem:

Your Key to the Local Customer Service Ecosystem

At the heart sits the local customer, who wants to know:

  • Who can help them, who likes or dislikes a business, who’s behind a brand, who’s the best, cheapest, fastest, closest, etc.
  • What the answer is to their question, what product/service solves their problems, what businesses are nearby, what it’s like there, what policies protect them, what’s the phone number, the website URL, the email address, etc.
  • Where a business is located, where to find parking, where something is manufactured or grown, etc.
  • When a business is open, when sales or events are, when busiest times are, when to purchase specific products/services or book an appointment, etc.
  • Why a business is the best choice based on specific factors, why a business was founded, why people like/dislike a business, etc.
  • How to get to the business by car/bike/on foot, how to learn/do/buy something, how to contact the right person or department, how to make a complaint or leave feedback, how the business supports the community, etc.

Your always-on customer service solves all of these problems with a combination of all of the following:

In-store

Good customer service looks like:

  • A publicly accessible brand policy that protects the rights and defends the dignity of both employees and consumers.
  • Well-trained phone staff with good language skills, equipped to answer FAQs and escalate problems they can’t solve. Sufficient staff to minimize hold-times.
  • Well-trained consumer-facing staff, well-versed in policy, products and services. Sufficient staff to be easily-accessible by customers.
  • In-store signage (including after-hours messaging) that guides consumers towards voicing complaints in person, reducing negative reviews.
  • In-store signage/messaging that promotes aspects of the business that are most beneficial to the community. (philanthropy, environmental stewardship, etc.) to promote loyalty and word-of-mouth.
  • Cleanliness, orderliness and fast resolution of broken fixtures and related issues.
  • Equal access to all facilities with an emphasis on maximum consumer comfort and convenience.
  • Support of payment forms most popular with local customers (cash, check, digital, etc.), security of payment processes, and minimization of billing mistakes/hassles.
  • Correctly posted, consistent hours of operation, reducing inconvenience. Clear messaging regarding special hours/closures.
  • A brand culture that rewards employees who wisely use their own initiative to solve customers’ problems.

Website

Good customer service looks like:

  • Content that solves people’s problems as conveniently and thoroughly as possible in language that they speak. Everything you publish (home, about, contact, local landing pages, etc.) should pass the test of consumer usefulness.
  • Equal access to content, regardless of device.
  • Easily accessible contact information, including name, address, phone number, fax, email, text, driving directions, maps and hours of operation.
  • Signals of trustworthiness, such as reviews, licenses, accreditations, affiliations, and basic website security.
  • Signals of benefit, including community involvement, philanthropy, environmental protections, etc.
  • Click-to-call phone numbers.
  • Clear policies that outline the rights of the consumer and the brand.

Organic SERPs

Good customer service looks like:

  • Management of the first few pages of the organic SERPs to ensure that basic information on them is accurate. This includes structured citations on local business directories, unstructured citations on blog posts, news sites, top 10 lists, review sites, etc. It can also include featured snippets.
  • Management also includes monitoring of the SERPs for highly-ranked content that cites problems others are having with the brand. If these problems can be addressed and resolved, the next step is outreach to the publisher to demonstrate that the problem has been addressed.

Email

Good customer service looks like:

  • Accessible email addresses for customers seeking support and fast responses to queries.
  • Opt-in email marketing in the form of newsletters and special offers.

Reviews

Good customer service looks like:

  • Accuracy of basic business information on major review platforms.
  • Professional and fast responses to both positive and negative reviews, with the core goal of helping and retaining customers by acknowledging their voices and solving their problems.
  • Sentiment analysis of reviews by location to identify emerging problems at specific branches for troubleshooting and resolution.
  • Monitoring of reviews for spam and reporting it where possible.
  • Avoidance of any form of review spam on the part of the brand.
  • Where allowed, guiding valued customers to leave reviews to let the greater community know about the existence and quality of your brand.

Links

Good customer service looks like:

  • Linking out to third-party resources of genuine use to customers.
  • Pursuit of inbound links from relevant sites that expand customers’ picture of what’s available in the place they live, enriching their experience.

Tech

Good customer service looks like:

  • Website usability and accessibility for users of all abilities and on all browsers and devices (ADA compliance, mobile-friendliness, load speed, architecture, etc.)
  • Apps, tools and widgets that improve customers’ experience.
  • Brand accessibility on social platforms most favored by customers.
  • Analytics that provide insight without trespassing on customers’ comfort or right to privacy.

Social

Good customer service looks like:

  • Brand accessibility on social platforms most favored by customers.
  • Social monitoring of the brand name to identify and resolve complaints, as well as to acknowledge praise.
  • Participation for the sake of community involvement as opposed to exploitation. Sharing instead of selling.
  • Advocacy for social platforms to improve their standards of transparency and their commitment to protections for consumers and brands.

Google My Business

Good customer service looks like:

  • Embrace of all elements of Google’s local features (Google My Business listings, Knowledge Panels, Maps, etc.) that create convenience and accessibility for consumers.
  • Ongoing monitoring for accuracy of basic information.
  • Brand avoidance of spam, and also, reporting of spam to protect consumers.
  • Advocacy for Google to improve its standards as a source of community information, including accountability for misinformation on their platform, and basic protections for both brands and consumers.

Customers’ Problems are Yours to Solve

“$41 billion is lost each year by US companies following a bad customer experience.”
New Voice Media

When customers don’t know where something is, how something works, when they can do something, who or what can help them, or why they should choose one option over another, your brand can recognize that they are having a problem. It could be as small a problem as where to buy a gift or as large a problem as seeking legal assistance after their home has been damaged in a disaster.

With the Internet never farther away than fingertips or voices, people have become habituated to turning to it with most of their problems, hour by hour, year by year. Recognition of quests for help may have been simpler just a few decades ago when customers were limited to writing letters, picking up phones, or walking into stores to say, “I have a need.” Now, competitive local enterprises have to expand their view to include customer problems that play out all over the web with new expectations of immediacy.

Unfortunately, brands are struggling with this, and we can sum up common barriers to modern customer service in 3 ways:

1) Brand Self-Absorption

“I’ve gotta have my Pops,” frets a boy in an extreme (and, frankly, off-putting) example in which people behave as though addicted to products. TV ads are rife with the wishfulness of marketers pretending that consumers sing and dance at the mere idea of possessing cars, soda, and soap. Meanwhile, real people stand at a distance watching the song and dance, perhaps amused sometimes, but aware that what’s on-screen isn’t them.

“We’re awesome,” reads too much content on the web, with a brand-centric, self-congratulatory focus. At the other end of the spectrum, web pages sit stuffed with meaningless keywords or almost no text as all, as though there aren’t human beings trying to communicate on either side of the screen.

“Who cares?” is the message untrained employees, neglected shopping environments, and disregarded requests for assistance send when real-world locations open doors but appear to put customer experience as their lowest priority. I’ve catalogued some of my most disheartening customer service interludes and I know you’ve had them, too.

Sometimes, brands get so lost in boardrooms, it’s all they can think of to put in their million-dollar ad campaigns, forgetting that most of their customers don’t live in that world.

One of the first lightbulb moments in the history of online content marketing was the we-you shift. Instead of writing, “We’re here, isn’t that great?”, we began writing, “You’re here and your problem can be solved.” This is the simple but elegant evolution that brands, on the whole, need to experience.

2) Ethical Deficits

Sometimes, customers aren’t lost because a brand is too inwardly focused, but rather, because its executives lack the vision to sustain an ethical business model. Every brand is tasked with succeeding, but it takes civic-minded, customer-centric leadership to avoid the abuses we are seeing at the highest echelons of the business world right now. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, and similar majors have repeatedly failed to put people over profits, resulting in:

  • Scandals
  • Lawsuits
  • Fines
  • Boycotts
  • Loss of consumer trust
  • Employee loss of pride in company culture

At a local business level, and in a grand understatement, it isn’t good customer service when a company deceives or harms the public. Brands, large and small, want to earn the right of integration into the lives of their customers as chosen resources. Large enterprises seeking local customers need leadership that can envision itself in the setting of a single small community, where dishonest practices impact real lives and could lead to permanent closure. Loss of trust should never be an acceptable part of economies of scale.

The internet has put customers, staffers, and media all on the same channels. Ethical leadership is the key ingredient to building a sustainable business model in which all stakeholders take pride.

3) Lack of Strategy

Happily, many brands genuinely do want to face outward and possess the ethics to treat people well. They may simply lack a complete strategy for covering all the bases that make up a satisfying experience. Small local businesses may find lack of time or resources a bar to the necessary education, and structure at enterprises may make it difficult to get buy-in for the fine details of customer service initiatives. Priorities and budgets may get skewed away from customers instead of toward them.

The TL;DR of this entire post is that modern customer service means solving customers’ problems by being wherever they are when they seek solutions. Beyond that, a combination of sufficient, well-trained staff (both online and off) and the type of automation provided by tools that manage local business listings, reviews and social listening are success factors most brands can implement.

Reach Out…

We’ve talked about some negative patterns that can either distance brands from customers, or cause customers to distance themselves due to loss of trust. What’s the good news?

Every single employee of every local brand in the US already knows what good customer service feels like, because all of us are customers.

There’s no mystery or magic here. Your CEO, your devs, sales team, and everyone else in your organization already know by experience what it feels like to be treated well or poorly.

And they already know what it’s like when they see themselves reflected in a store location or on a screen.

Earlier, I cited an old TV spot in which actors were paid to act out the fantasy of a brand. Let’s reach back in time again and watch a similar-era commercial in which actors are paid to role play genuine consumer problems – in this case, a family that wants to keep in touch with a member who is away from home:

The TV family may not look identical to yours, but their featured problem – wanting to keep close to a distant loved one – is one most people can relate to. This 5-year ad campaign won every award in sight, and the key to it is that consumers could recognize themselves on the screen and this act of recognition engaged their emotions.

Yes, a service is being sold (long distance calling), but the selling is being done by putting customers in the starring roles and solving their problems. That’s what good customer service does, and in 2019, if your brand can parlay this mindset into all of the mediums via which people now seek help, your own “reach out and touch someone” goals are well on their way to success.

Loyal Service Sparks Consumer Loyalty

“Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to twenty times more expensive than retaining an existing one.”
Harvard Business Review

“Loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase.”
White House Office of Consumer Affairs

I want to close here with a note on loyalty. With a single customer representing up to 10x the value of their first purchase, earning a devoted clientele is the very best inspiration for dedication to improving customer service.

Trader Joe’s is a large chain that earns consistent mentions for its high standards of customer service. Being a local SEO, I turned to its Google reviews, looking at 5 locations in Northern California. I counted 225 instances of people exuberantly praising staff at just these 5 locations, using words like “Awesome, incredible, helpful, friendly, and fun!”. Moreover, reviewers continuously mentioned the brand as the only place they want to shop for groceries because they love it so much. It’s as close as you can get to a “gotta have my Pops” scenario, but it’s real.

How does Trader Joe’s pull this off? A study conducted by Temkin Group found that, “A customer’s emotional experience is the most significant driver of loyalty, especially when it comes to consumers recommending firms to their friends.” The cited article lists emotional connection and content, motivated employees who are empowered to go the extra mile as keys to why this chain was ranked second-highest in emotion ratings (a concept similar to Net Promoter Score). In a word, the Trader Joe’s customer service experience creates the right feelings, as this quick sentiment cloud of Google review analysis illustrates:

This brand has absolutely perfected the thrilling and lucrative art of creating loyal customers, making their review corpus read like a volume of love letters. The next move for this company – and for the local brands you market – is to “spread the love” across all points where a customer might seek to connect, both online and off.

It’s a kind of love when you ensure a customer isn’t misdirected by a wrong address on a local business listing or when you answer a negative review with the will to make things right. It’s a kind of love when a company blog is so helpful that its comments say, “You must be psychic! This is the exact problem I was trying to solve.” It’s a kind of love when a staff member is empowered to create such a good experience that a customer tells their mother, their son, their best friend to trust you brand.

Love, emotions, feelings — are we still talking about business here? Yes, because when you subtract the medium, the device, the screen, it’s two very human people on either side of every transaction.

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dotties winners revealed!

Is your head hurting this morning? Yep. We thought so. But what a fantastic night. Laughter erupted from the Troxy as Rob Beckett delivered his hilarious stand-up. Our guests savored some mouthwatering street food. We all enjoyed one-too-many proseccos – and some of us danced til we dropped!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who attended the dotties 2018 – we hope you had an awesome time. A big hand to all the brands who made the shortlist – we were massively impressed with every single entry and our judges faced a tough decision.

But last night, we celebrated you – the winners. Congratulations to the brands who are shaping the digital marketing space, delivering first-class experiences to customers, fans and supporters. And for anyone having a little trouble remembering what went down, allow us to refresh your memory:

The winners

Certsure LLP

Inspiring email creative: The BIG Idea

Winning in Business: Best B2B Marketing Campaign

Barbour

Content Excellence: Most Compelling Campaign

 

Tottenham Hotspur

Creative Flair: Best Subject Line

Star of Leisure: Best use of dotmailer to please

Southampton FC

Data Creativity: Best Use of Data

 

icelolly.com

Innovation in Integration: Combining Tech Powers

 

Neal’s Yard Remedies

Excellence in Automation: Most Powerful Program Use

 

Asthma UK

Omnichannel Pioneers: Most Connected Campaign

Star of Non-profit: Best use of dotmailer to help others

 

Jack Wills

Excellence in Ecommerce: Most Compelling Campaign

 

Greene King

Big Impact, Small Bottom Line: Best Use of Budget

 

Inviqa

UK agency of the year

 

Absolunet

US agency of the year

 

Experius

European agency of the year

 

Crimson Consultants

CRM partner of the year

 

XCM

Integrated partner of the year

 

Yuji Isayama – Selco Builders Warehouse

Star Performer: Excellence in Marketing by an Individual

 

T. M. Lewin

Star Disruptor: Energizing Change in the Marketing Team

 

 

 

 

The post dotties winners revealed! appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

We have an announcement!

Last night, at the dotties 2018, we unveiled our new brand identity to a glittering room of clients, partners and employees. We’re thrilled to be able to share our rationale with you today.

What’s new?

We’ve brought our brand up to speed with a new name and look.  From 16th January 2019, we’ll be known as dotdigital. This is not a drastic shift in direction, but to us it signifies our strong commitment to the future of our business and the products we offer our customers.

We’re also changing the name of our platform to Engagement Cloud. In the 20 years we’ve been empowering you, our technology has evolved to meet the ever-advancing needs of your customers. It was becoming clear we needed a name that was more accurate to how you’re using the platform today. Engagement Cloud encompasses all of the same top-notch technology, intelligence and service you rely on to give your customers truly memorable experiences.

 

What inspired us?

You did! Since 1999, we’ve been evolving our platform to empower your customer engagement. We’ve seen the rise in consumer expectation – and we’ve watched our customers blaze a trail of excellence with data-driven marketing automation. We know that, today, email stands as one component of a much bigger, holistic engagement strategy.

We’ve been always been forward-facing, and for us the future brings further evolution, inspiration and empowerment. Our new brand identity is part of this vision.

 

Want to find out more?

Take a closer look into the future of dotdigital »

The post We have an announcement! appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

dotties sponsorship blog series: BigCommerce

From the likes of ice-cream connoisseur Ben & Jerry’s to audio specialist Skullcandy, BigCommerce empowers the biggest brands – across a whole range of industries – to make the best of online selling.

Through using its powerful ecommerce software, brands can create eye-catching, slick and intuitive websites. And combined with BigCommerce’s secure website hosting, built-in marketing, SEO and conversion optimization tools, the online experience consistently exceeds expectations – both for brands running their businesses on the platform, and for the consumers visiting their websites.

Our own work with BigCommerce has focused specifically on supporting its European retailers.

Adopting our Commerce Flow software, BigCommerce can now offer its overseas customers an expansive, data-led and personalized marketing software – yet another feather to its already very large ‘virtual cap’.

Mark Adams VP & GM Europe at BigCommerce comments:

Providing merchants with a comprehensive, frictionless ecommerce experience sits at the heart of what BigCommerce does, and partners like dotmailer are crucial in bringing this to life. I am consistently impressed with the company’s commitment to enabling marketing excellence amongst its customers, and the winners within this year’s dotties only further highlight what’s possible when supported by an industry-leading brand.

To find out more about the 2018 dotties – click here

The post dotties sponsorship blog series: BigCommerce appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Celebrating creative champions – are you coming to the dotties?

A chance to celebrate and share examples of the best digital marketing campaigns, the dotties has been a highlight of the dotmailer annual calendar for the last three years.

And 2018 is no exception.

Once again, we will be packing out London’s legendary Troxy on 1st November to recognize some of the best and brightest talents in digital marketing.

I’m also delighted to announce that Rob Beckett, host of BBC One’s All Together Now and team captain on Channel 4’s 8 Out Of 10 Cats, will be hosting the awards show. And, of course, there will be plenty of mouth-watering street food, entertainment and dancing to take us through into the early hours.

The shortlist has already been announced – you can find out here if your brand made the cut.

Ahead of the big event, we would like to take a moment to thank our sponsors and recognize the invaluable assistance they offer in making this evening possible.

Click the logos below to find more about dotmailer’s partnership with each sponsor, and how we work together to drive the most effective digital marketing campaigns.

                                                      KoomooNosto

 

Kooomo                                                

 

 

The post Celebrating creative champions – are you coming to the dotties? appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Get your holiday campaigns wrapped up early this year

The holidays will be here before we know it, so it’s important you’re as prepared as possible. But what are you preparing for? Well, that depends on your audience and your market but here are just a few of the big days coming up:

  •  Halloween and Día de Muertos (Oct 31)
  • Bonfire Night in the UK (Nov 5)
  • Diwali (Nov 7)
  • Singles Day in China (Nov 11)
  • Thanksgiving (Nov 22)
  • Black Friday (Nov 23)
  • Small Business Saturday in the US (Nov 24)
  • Cyber Monday (Nov 26)
  • Small Business Saturday in the UK (Dec 1)
  • Hanukkah (Dec 2-10)
  • Green Monday (Dec 10)
  • Free Shipping Day (Dec 14)
  • Ugly Sweater Day (Dec 21)
  • Panic Saturday (Dec 22)
  • Christmas Eve (Dec 24)
  • Christmas Day (Dec 25)
  • Boxing Day and Kwanzaa (Dec 26)
  • New Year’s Eve (Dec 31)

On top of all that, you’ve also got to make yourself stand out in overcrowded inboxes. But have no fear, we’ve got some handy tips to help make sure your customers sit up and take notice this season.

1.) Go all in

Our first tip: dive straight in the deep end.

Halloween, Thanksgiving or Ugly Sweater Day. Whichever it is, go all in if you’re planning on including them in your marketing plan.

M.A.C and Land’s End are perfect examples of brands fully embracing the day.

M.A.C aims to inspire its make-up loving followers with this ghost bride costume, just in time for the big day. The brand highlights all the products needed to recreate this ethereal look by breaking it down in the email. On the other side, the shopper’s journey is simple and quick to complete.


Lands' End Halloween email

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lands’ End knows just how to make their emails jump out of the inbox. Getting into the spirit of things, it offers customers a spooktacular 31% off for one day only, October 31. The brand’s awesome combination of creepy elements is simply bewitching.

2.) Get creative

During the holidays it’s very easy to fall into the typical of tropes. Customers will be drowning in images of Christmas trees and falling snow and big sale signs. Try to think outside of the box.

Some of our favorite designs use the ordinary and make them extraordinary.

Australian shoe retailers, Spendless Shoes, did this to perfection last year. The beauty of this email lies in its simplicity. The brand’s focus is on the hottest trend of the year. It’s given a seasonal spin by organizing its products in the shape of a Christmas tree. Festive, without being stereotypical about it. 😍

Spendless Shoe holiday email

In this one, Alternative Apparel took its Cyber Monday email to a whole new dimension. Who wouldn’t be surprised and delighted to find a Space Invaders-themed email in their inbox? The brand also manages to showcase its Cyber Monday deal without having to say the word ‘sale. An all-round winner!

3) It’s not all or nothing

Tip number three: sales don’t have to be the center of your holiday campaign.

It’s true, a big, bold SALE sticker is going to catch the shoppers eye but that doesn’t guarantee their business. In fact, with so many sale emails flooding their inbox, they’re more likely to delete it than take notice.

That’s not to say don’t use deals, sales and special offers at all. Instead, break up these sends with other content. It’s important to consider what your audience might be doing. What angle are you taking to appeal to them?

Missguided email

In this email from Missguided, the brand’s chosen to focus on the party season over gift hunting.  This guide lines up some perfect picks depending on the readers’ plans for the festive season. It’s copy if fun and the decision to go pink certainly helps it stand out amongst typical Christmas emails.

Jo Malone email

Jo Malone looks to last-minute shoppers instead. It’s all about delighting customers with its simple solution: find your closest boutique. To keep it festive, its included an ever-so-subtle champagne glass Christmas tree. We also love the bright pops of color which you don’t often see in the fall and winter. This one’s a real crowd pleaser, and all without talking about discounts anywhere!

4) Lend a helping hand

When your customers aren’t partying or visiting family or eating too much food, you’ll find them at the shops. They’re frantically shopping, weighed down with bags, still hunting for that perfect gift.

To have a massive impact with your subscribers, try to be as helpful as you can. For many, this can be a stressful time, so helping them out can make the world of difference.

Brit+Co email

This email from Brit+Co is certainly eye-catching. It perfectly sets the scene for its absurd, unexpected and delightful gift guide. It’s inspiring and perfect for those who still have no idea what to get someone. This guide has it covered, from the impossible-to-buy-for friend, to that brother who already has everything.

Tiffany emails

Tiffany take this further by creating personas for readers to browse. For the modernist, it’s curated a beautiful assortment of simple, elegant jewelry. The explorer focuses on men’s gifts and accessories in a perfectly thought through guide. We especially love the ‘Drop A Hint’ prompt at the end of the email. This makes the email perfect for the sender and the recipient.

5) Get some inspiration2018 Holiday Lookbook

For more inspiration, check out our holiday lookbook.
Get ahead of the game and start thinking about how you can make your emails stand out this season.

In the run up to the holidays, be sure to take advantage of the expertise our Professional Services team. With their help you can create beautiful, intelligent campaigns, just in time for the festive season. Get in touch with your Account Manager today to find out about the exclusive offers they have for you.

The post Get your holiday campaigns wrapped up early this year appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com

dotties sponsorship blog series: Kooomo

Combining next generation technology and an extensive partner ecosystem, Kooomo empowers its diverse client base – including supermarket chain Morrisons and global flipflop brand Havaianas – to maximise digital sales channels and keep up with the ever-evolving digital commerce landscape.

And with its platform being named in Gartner’s esteemed 2017 Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce, Kooomo’s imprint and expertise is recognized across Europe and the wider world.

Here at dotmailer, we have partnered with Kooomo to help customers streamline their marketing activities by integrating our automation platform with its commerce platform.

Through Kooomo’s platform, merchants can now create automated, personalized and meaningful multichannel campaigns that will resonate with their customers and improve customer loyalty – and, ultimately, boost revenue.

Ciaran Bollard, Chief Executive Officer at Kooomo comments:

Expanding our eco-system of partners is key to ensuring we continue to drive value and future-proof our customer solutions. Through the partnership, dotmailer will be seamlessly integrated and managed through one login on the Kooomo commerce platform to drive sales. Given that emails are generating more than £30bn of retail sales in the UK alone and boast a healthy £38 return for every £1 spent, it’s critically important to get that piece of the customer journey right. We are also delighted to sponsor the 2018 dotties Awards and look forward to hearing how the winning businesses are elevating their brands through digital channels.

To find out more about the 2018 dotties – click here

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Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotmailer.com