Local Business Transparency & Empathy for the Holidays: Tips + Downloadable Checklist

Posted by MiriamEllis

Your local business will invest its all in stocking shelves and menus with the right goods and services in advance of the 2018 holiday season, but does your inventory include the on-and-offline experiences consumers say they want most?

Right now, a potential patron near you is having an experience that will inform their decision of whether to do business with you at year’s end, and their takeaway is largely hinging on two things: your brand’s transparency and empathy.

An excellent SproutSocial survey of 1,000 consumers found that people define transparency as being:

  • Open (59%)
  • Clear (53%)
  • Honest (49%)

Meanwhile, after a trying year of fake news, bad news, and privacy breaches, Americans could certainly use some empathy from brands that respect their rights, needs, aspirations, and time.

Today, let’s explore how your local brand can gift customers with both transparency and empathy before and during the holiday season, and let’s make it easy for your team with a shareable, downloadable checklist, complete with 20 tips for in-store excellence and holiday Google My Business best practices:

Grab the Holiday Checklist now!

For consumers, even the little things mean a lot

Your brother eats at that restaurant because its owner fed 10,000 meals to displaced residents during a wildfire. My sister won’t buy merchandise from that shop because their hiring practices are discriminatory. A friend was so amazed when the big brand CEO responded personally to her complaint that she’s telling all her social followers about it now.

Maybe it’s always been a national pastime for Americans to benefit one another with wisdom gained from their purchasing experiences. I own one of the first cookbooks ever published in this country and ‘tis full of wyse warnings about how to avoid “doctored” meats and grains in the marketplace. Social media has certainly amplified our voices, but it has done something else that truly does feel fresh and new. Consider SproutSocial’s findings that:

  • 86% of Americans say transparency from businesses is more important than ever before.
  • 40% of people who say brand transparency is more important than ever before attribute it to social media.
  • 63% of people say CEOs who have their own social profiles are better representatives for their companies than CEOs who do not.

What were customers’ chances of seeking redress and publicity just 20 years ago if a big brand treated them poorly? Today, they can document with video, write a review, tweet to the multitudes, even get picked up by national news. They can use a search engine to dig up the truth about a company’s past and present practices. And… they can find the social profiles of a growing number of brand representatives and speak to them directly about their experiences, putting the ball in the company’s court to respond for all to see.

In other words, people increasingly assume brands should be directly accessible. That’s new!

Should this increased expectation of interactive transparency terrify businesses?

Absolutely not, if their intentions and policies are open, clear, and honest. It’s a little thing to treat a customer with fairness and regard, but its impacts in the age of social media are not small. In fact, SproutSocial found that transparent practices are golden as far as consumer loyalty is concerned:

  • 85% of people say a business’ history of being transparent makes them more likely to give it a second chance after a bad experience.
  • 89% of people say a business can regain their trust if it admits to a mistake and is transparent about the steps it will take to resolve the issue.

I highly recommend reading the entire SproutSocial study, and while it focuses mainly on general brands and general social media, my read of it correlated again and again to the specific scenario of local businesses. Let’s talk about this!

How transparency & empathy relate to local brands

“73.8% of customers were either likely or extremely likely to continue to do business with a merchant once the complaint had been resolved.”
GetFiveStars

On the local business scene, we’re also witnessing the rising trend of consumers who expect accountability and accessibility, and who speak up when they don’t encounter it. Local businesses need to commit to openness in terms of their business practices, just as digital businesses do, but there are some special nuances at play here, too.

I can’t count the number of negative reviews I’ve read that cited inconvenience caused by local business listings containing wrong addresses and incorrect hours. These reviewers have experienced a sense of ill-usage stemming from a perceived lack of respect for their busy schedules and a lack of brand concern for their well-being. Neglected online local business information leads to neglected-feeling customers who sometimes even believe that a company is hiding the truth from them!

These are avoidable outcomes. As the above quote from a GetFiveStars survey demonstrates, local brands that fully participate in anticipating, hearing, and responding to consumer needs are rewarded with loyalty. Given this, as we begin the countdown to holiday shopping, be sure you’re fostering basic transparency and empathy with simple steps like:

  • Checking your core citations for accurate names, addresses, phone numbers, and other info and making necessary corrections
  • Updating your local business listing hours to reflect extended holiday hours and closures
  • Updating your website and all local landing pages to reflect this information

Next, bolster more advanced transparency by:

  • Using Google Posts to clearly highlight your major sale dates so people don’t feel tricked or left out
  • Answering all consumer questions via Google Questions & Answers in your Google Knowledge Panels
  • Responding swiftly to both positive and negative reviews on core platforms
  • Monitoring and participating on all social discussion of your brand when concerns or complaints arise, letting customers know you are accessible
  • Posting in-store signage directing customers to complaint phone/text hotlines

And, finally, create an empathetic rapport with customers via efforts like:

  • Developing and publishing a consumer-centric service policy both on your website and in signage or print materials in all of your locations
  • Using Google My Business attributes to let patrons know about features like wheelchair accessibility, available parking, pet-friendliness, etc.
  • Publishing your company giving strategies so that customers can feel spending with you supports good things — for example, X% of sales going to a local homeless shelter, children’s hospital, or other worthy cause
  • Creating a true welcome for all patrons, regardless of gender, identity, race, creed, or culture — for example, gender neutral bathrooms, feeding stations for mothers, fragrance-free environments for the chemically sensitive, or even a few comfortable chairs for tired shoppers to rest in

A company commitment to standards like TAGFEE coupled with a basic regard for the rights, well-being, and aspirations of customers year-round can stand a local brand in very good stead at the holidays. Sometimes it’s the intangible goods a brand stocks — like goodwill towards one’s local community — that yield a brand of loyalty nothing else can buy.

Why not organize for it, organize for the mutual benefits of business and society with a detailed, step-by-step checklist you can take to your next team meeting?:

Download the 2018 Holiday Local SEO Checklist

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 1 month ago from tracking.feedpress.it

The power of partnerships

As part of Movable Ink’s summer campaign, the brand reached out to all its partners and proposed a friendly competition. This sparked engagement and helped better inform wider teams, as well as our customers, of the powerful technology available. Never one to back down from a challenge, dotmailer set its eyes on the prize and swept away the competition.

A walk in the park

At dotmailer, a lot of careful consideration goes into who we choose to partner with. Dedicated to giving our customers the best service around, we only pick the best partners who are as dedicated to their customers as we are.

Movable Ink (MI) allows brands to create compelling and beautiful dynamic content for emails – a perfect match for our smart marketing automation platform. This valuable partnership empowers our customers to take their content to the next level.

We’re all-in

One of the hardest challenges in partnerships is getting everyone aware of what’s possible with the collaboration; the competition was a genius idea to engage all departments and provide a buzz in the office as we debated the answers.

We must have done something right which is why you’re now looking at the Quizmasters!

To stay on top, we make it a priority to know all there is to know about our partners. This means our Account Managers can fully represent our partners when discussing solutions with clients. That’s why our services are second to none.

 

MI Quizmasters winners

 

Dedicated to working together

We’ve taken the spirit of the competition to heart and launched our Partner Lightening Talks. These give our partners a chance to come in once a month and showcase what they do to our teams. Extending our network with our partners is crucial to our success. Lightening Talks will allow us to share knowledge, improve our services, and add even more value to our customers.

The post The power of partnerships appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

SEO "Dinosaur" Tactics That You Should Retire – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

It’s tough to admit it, but many of us still practice outdated SEO tactics in the belief that they still have a great deal of positive influence. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand gently sets us straight and offers up a series of replacement activities that will go much farther toward moving the needle. Share your own tips and favorites in the comments!

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to go back in time to the prehistoric era and talk about a bunch of “dinosaur” tactics, things that SEOs still do, many of us still do, and we probably shouldn’t.

We need to replace and retire a lot of these tactics. So I’ve got five tactics, but there’s a lot more, and in fact I’d loved to hear from some of you on some of yours.

Dino Tactic #1: AdWords/Keyword Planner-based keyword research

But the first one we’ll start with is something we’ve talked about a few times here — AdWords and Keyword Planner-based keyword research. So you know there’s a bunch of problems with the metrics in there, but I still see a lot of folks starting their keyword research there and then expanding into other tools.

Replace it with clickstream data-driven tools with Difficulty and CTR %

My suggestion would be start with a broader set if you possibly can. If you have the budget, replace this with something that is driven by clickstream data, like Ahrefs or SEMrush or Keyword Explorer. Even Google Search Suggest and related searches plus Google Trends tend to be better at capturing more of this.

Why it doesn’t work

I think is just because AdWords hides so many keywords that they don’t think are commercially relevant. It’s too inaccurate, especially the volume data. If you’re actually creating an AdWords campaign, the volume data gets slightly better in terms of its granularity, but we found it is still highly inaccurate as compared as to when you actually run that campaign.

It’s too imprecise, and it lacks a bunch of critical metrics, including difficulty and click-through rate percentage, which you’ve got to know in order to prioritize keywords effectively.

Dino Tactic #2: Subdomains and separate domains for SERP domination

Next up, subdomains and separate domains for SERP domination. So classically, if you wanted to own the first page of Google search results for a branded query or an unbranded query, maybe you just want to try and totally dominate, it used to be the case that one of the ways to do this was to add in a bunch of subdomains to your website or register some separate domains so that you’d be able to control that top 10.

Why it doesn’t work

What has happened recently, though, is that Google has started giving priority to multiple subpages in a single SERP from a single domain. You can see this for example with Yelp on virtually any restaurant-related searches, or with LinkedIn on a lot of business topic and job-related searches.

You can see it with Quora on a bunch of question style searches, where they’ll come up for all of them, or Stack Overflow, where they come up for a lot of engineering and development-related questions.

Replace it with barnacle SEO and subfolder hosted content

So one of the better ways to do this nowadays is with barnacle SEO and subfolder hosted content, meaning you don’t have to put your content on a separate subdomain in order to rank multiple times in the same SERP.

Barnacle SEO also super handy because Google is giving a lot of benefit to some of these websites that host content you can create or generate and profiles you can create and generate. That’s a really good way to go. This is mostly just because of this shift from the subdomains being the way to get into SERPs multiple times to individual pages being that path.

Dino Tactic #3: Prioritizing number one rankings over other traffic-driving SEO techniques

Third, prioritizing number one rankings over other traffic-driving SEO techniques. This is probably one of the most common “dinosaur” tactics I see, where a lot of folks who are familiar with the SEO world from maybe having used consultants or agencies or brought it in-house 10, 15, 20 years ago are still obsessed with that number one organic ranking over everything else.

Replace it with SERP feature SEO (especially featured snippets) and long-tail targeting

In fact, that’s often a pretty poor ROI investment compared to things like SERP features, especially the featured snippet, which is getting more and more popular. It’s used in voice search. It oftentimes doesn’t need to come from the number one ranking result in the SERP. It can come number three, number four, or number seven.

It can even be the result that brings back the featured snippet at the very top. Its click-through rate is often higher than number one, meaning SERP features a big way to go. This is not the only one, too. Image SEO, doing local SEO when the local pack appears, doing news SEO, potentially having a Twitter profile that can rank in those results when Google shows tweets.

And, of course, long-tail targeting, meaning going after other keywords that are not as competitive, where you don’t need to compete against as many folks in order to get that number one ranking spot, and often, in aggregate, long tail can be more than ranking number one for that “money” keyword, that primary keyword that you’re going after.

Why it doesn’t work

Why is this happening? Well, it’s because SERP features are biasing the click-through rate such that number one just isn’t worth what it used to be, and the long tail is often just higher ROI per hour spent.

Dino Tactic #4: Moving up rankings with link building alone

Fourth, moving up the rankings on link building alone. Again, I see a lot of people do this, where they’re ranking number 5, number 10, number 20, and they think, “Okay, I’m ranking in the first couple of pages of Google. My next step is link build my way to the top.”

Why it no longer works on its own

Granted, historically, back in the dinosaur era, dinosaur era of being 2011, this totally worked. This was “the” path to get higher rankings. Once you were sort of in the consideration set, links would get you most of the way up to the top. But today, not the case.

Replace it with searcher task accomplishment, UX optimization, content upgrades, and brand growth

Instead I’m going to suggest you retire that and replace it with searcher task accomplishment, which we’ve seen a bunch of people invest in optimization there and springboard their site, even with worse links, not as high DA, all of that kind of stuff. UX optimization, getting the user experience down and nailing the format of the content so that it better serves searchers.

Content upgrades, improving the actual content on the page, and brand growth, associating your brand more with the topic or the keyword. Why is this happening? Well, because links alone it feels like today are just not enough. They’re still a powerful ranking factor. We can’t ignore them entirely certainly.

But if you want to unseat higher ranked pages, these types of investments are often much easier to make and more fruitful.

Dino Tactic #5: Obsessing about keyword placement in certain tags/areas

All right, number five. Last but not least, obsessing about keyword placement in certain tags and certain areas. For example, spending inordinate amounts of time and energy making sure that the H1 and H2, the headline tags, can contain keywords, making sure that the URL contains the keywords in exactly the format that you want with the hyphens, repeating text a certain number of times in the content, making sure that headlines and titles are structured in certain ways.

Why it (kind of) doesn’t work

It’s not that this doesn’t work. Certainly there’s a bare minimum. We’ve got to have our keyword used in the title. We definitely want it in the headline. If that’s not in an H1 tag, I think we can live with that. I think that’s absolutely fine. Instead I would urge you to move some of that same obsession that you had with perfecting those tags, getting the last 0.01% of value out of those into related keywords and related topics, making sure that the body content uses and explains the subjects, the topics, the words and phrases that Google knows searchers associate with a given topic.

My favorite example of this is if you’re trying to rank for “New York neighborhoods” and you have a page that doesn’t include the word Brooklyn or Manhattan or Bronx or Queens or Staten Island, your chances of ranking are much, much worse, and you can get all the links and the perfect keyword targeting in your H1, all of that stuff, but if you are not using those neighborhood terms that Google clearly can associate with the topic, with the searcher’s query, you’re probably not going to rank.

Replace it with obsessing over related keywords and topics

This is true no matter what you’re trying to rank for. I don’t care if it’s blue shoes or men’s watches or B2B SaaS products. Google cares a lot more about whether the content solves the searcher’s query. Related topics, related keywords are often correlated with big rankings improvements when we see folks undertake them.

I was talking to an SEO a few weeks ago who did this. They just audited across their site, found the 5 to 10 terms that they felt they were missing from the content, added those into the content intelligently, adding them to the content in such a way that they were actually descriptive and useful, and then they saw rankings shoot up with nothing else, no other work. Really, really impressive stuff.

So take some of these dino tactics, try retiring them and replacing them with some of these modern ones, and see if your results don’t come out better too. Look forward to your thoughts on other dino tactics in the comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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10 things you should know about Romesh Ranganathan

In case you haven’t heard, comedian, actor, producer, and all-round jolly good bloke Romesh Ranganathan will be our celebrity host at this year’s dotties awards, where he’ll be handing out awards to the winners, and hopefully treating us to some of his deadpan comedic delivery.

In anticipation of his appearance at the dotties, and for those of you who may not be too familiar with his work, I’ve got 10 things that you should know about Romesh Ranganathan.

2 x 10 + 1 = Romesh done

Romesh made his comedic debut in 2010, whilst still working his job as a mathematics teacher in his hometown of Crawley, West Sussex. He joins the list of comedians who used to be teachers, which includes Billy Crystal, Greg Davies, and, uh, Roy Hodgson.

His jokes are stinkers

His debut live show, Irrational Live, dominated the country in 2016 with a string of sold-out shows, one of which The Guardian described as having ‘irresistible gags with stink-bomb impact’. It was later released as a concert film, becoming a bestseller in the process.

You’ve probably seen him on a panel show

The last four years have seen Romesh establish himself as a regular or guest on several panel shows, including Mock the Week, 8 out of 10 Cats, Would I Lie to You?, The Last Leg, Have I Got News for You, and QI.

He’s on the telly a lot

Alongside his stage and panel show performances, Romesh has also starred in a number of other TV programs. These include:

Asian Provocateur – The first series, on BBC Three, saw Romesh travel to Sri Lanka to learn about his parents’ country of origin and its culture, meeting family members along the way. The second series, Mum’s American Dream, saw Romesh and his mother, Shanthi, travel to the US to meet more family members.

Just Another Immigrant – This American docuseries premiered on Showtime in June 2018. It follows Romesh, along with his wife and three children, his mother, and his uncle, as they immigrate to the US. As the series progresses, Romesh and family attempt to rebuild their life from scratch, and Romesh attempts to sell out a 6,000-seater venue in just three months.

Judge Romesh – Falling somewhere between Judge Judy, Judge Rinder, and The Jeremy Kyle Show, Judge Romesh sees him settling disputes in a fictional civil court. The first series finished its run at the beginning of September and was screened on Dave.

And he’s got even more on the way

I wonder whether Romesh finds time to sleep, because his new TV series, The Misadventures of Romesh, sees him travelling way, way out of his comfort zone and away from the world of complimentary breakfast buffets to some of the most unlikely places on earth for a holiday.

A man of many talents

Romesh has also performed as a freestyle rap artist under the name of Ranga, and he once managed to reach the finals of the UK freestyle competition.

You can find a video of Romesh battling another comedian on YouTube, but there’s a bit too much foul language for me to embed it on this blog, so here’s a clip of him freestyling on BBC Asian Network instead:

Part of the VGang

Romesh is vegan, having been vegetarian up until 2015. He wrote an article for the Guardian last year about how you can survive Christmas as a vegan. Take a look at the article here.

Aquarius Comedian

Born on January 31st, Romesh is an Aquarian comedian, just like Hannibal Buress, Chris Rock, and me.

He’s got his own memoir

Next month sees the release of Romesh’s first book, Memoirs of a Distinctly Average Human Being. Being a distinctly average human being myself, I am very much looking forward to reading this and seeing how our lives compare.

Hip-hop saved his life

Romesh also has his own hip-hop podcast. Named after the Lupe Fiasco song of the same name, Hip-hop Saved My Life has featured guests such as Chali 2Na, Loyle Carner, DJ Yoda, Scroobius Pip, and his mum.

He also got a chance to meet Lupe Fiasco in an episode of Just Another Immigrant:

Now that you’re more closely acquainted with Romesh, perhaps you’ll want to submit an entry to the dotties? If you’re a dotmailer user, then take a look at the categories, and find out how to enter here.

The post 10 things you should know about Romesh Ranganathan appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Keep it super simple: 5 life-changing tips

By no means does that mean design is easy. Achieving simplicity in your work can be hard, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. By simplifying your creative you’re reducing the amount of delay, distractions, confusion and stress customers could experience when reading your email.

Simplicity in your creative matters

Today’s consumers have everything at their fingertips. Literally. Nearly 50% of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. As a result, smartphones have quickly become the consumer’s preferred device for online shopping. And, with social media channels like Instagram making it easier for small brands to reach customers, they’re more difficult to pin down, and even harder to hold on to.

Keeping it simple is more than an idea…it’s a philosophy

Time is a commodity for us all. As marketers we don’t have enough of it, and as consumers we don’t want to waste it. By dedicating just some of your time to our five, life-changing steps, you’ll soon be more agile and able to keep up with customers.

Read our latest cheatsheet

In it you’ll find all you need to know about how you can adopt these tactics today to start creating emails that are really resonate with your customers. Don’t forget to watch our quick demo to see first-hand how dotmailer can help you create simple, beautiful emails. Download today

 

If you’re interested in refining your creative, our cheatsheet is an excellent place to start. But, if you want to take a deep dive into your creative, join our Creative Director for bespoke one-to-one sessions. 

Hosted by Ger Ashby, Creative Director and presenter of the KISS dotlive, this is your chance to get expert advice on email design. To book in a one-to-one session, talk to your Account Manager today.

 

 

 

The post Keep it super simple: 5 life-changing tips appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Learnings from Bulk Powders: winners of Hitting the Mark 2018 (part 2)

We’ve gone behind the scenes to see how Bulk Powders, winners of this year’s Hitting the Mark, nailed its email marketing and customer experience. Mark Sherwood, Head of Europe at Bulk Powders, kindly agreed to an interview to go through their everyday practices and long-term strategy.

We’ve digested the interview into a two-part blog; the first is focused on the day to day, while the second deep-dives into the brand’s strategy.

The interview: part 2

How important is email in your marketing strategy?

For retention, it’s our number one channel for sure. We’re a pure-play ecommerce company, so in that regard, we’re limited in cost-effective channels. So, email has become and is our most important channel.

Email is very close to my heart, I’m an email marketer. Whilst I’m here, it’ll be an important channel. I feel some people are skeptical about email marketing, saying it’s in decline and there’s a death of email. I can sympathize in some regards – sending the same email day in day out to your entire list is in decline. But, if you can email customers with the relevant and targeted information they want to receive, then for companies like us, it’s the best channel for retaining your customers.

Presumably your martech set-up is pretty integrated. How do you manage all of your relevant data flows?

It’s very simple once you have everything set up. We have tags on the site that monitor consumer behavior; they track users’ product/category views and purchases. This all goes into our CRM platform – i.e. which products they’ve ordered and which discounts they’ve used. Then we have all of their historic purchase rates in once place.

Overlaid onto that, we have category information to see which products fall under which categories. This means we can very quickly create affinities and personas based on the web behavior and purchase activity of users.

It wasn’t the easiest thing to set up in all honesty; it perhaps took us a little longer than expected to be in the position we’re in now. But, on a day-to-day basis, there’s no work for us – it just runs seamlessly.

What would you say is your main marketing challenge?

My main marketing challenge is how to reduce my email volume. We are in a very crowded, very competitive market, and generally the sports nutrition industry is heavily saturated with emails. That’s a problem for the market.

What we’re trying to do is reduce the volume of our daily email sends without jeopardizing our revenue. This is a key goal for us in the next 6 to 12 months, and we’ll achieve it by doing more triggered and targeted emails (like those you highlighted in Hitting the Mark) and taking it to the next level.

There will always be subscribers getting the daily stuff. But more and more people will be taken out of that when they actively participate in the user journey and enter their own unique program. That’s how we’re tackling it. Ultimately, we know consumers get bored of emails if you hit them too hard.

Have you expanded into other channels? If so, do they seamlessly work together across campaigns?

We’ve launched into other channels – email, SMS and social are key from a retention point of view. They all work seamlessly with the same data (CRM). A year ago, we looked at each of those channels in isolation; we sent an email here, an SMS there. And maybe we put an ad on someone’s social timeline. Now it’s all joined up; so, people who open emails less frequently are more likely to receive an SMS than those who open our emails daily. There are points where we want to talk to people on their Facebook timelines, but we might not do that to those who are super-engaged on email. It all depends on what type of message it is. If it’s our replenishment program, we’ll try to hit them on email and their social timeline, as they work well together.

What are your plans for the future?

Good question. We’re a very fast-growing company. We’re a great company to work for, but fast-growing doesn’t come without its challenges. The marketing team needs to grow with the company. The key focus is to incorporate all the strides we made in our CRM into our front end as well. The real issue we have right now is that we have all these personalized, targeted and tailored messages for customers, but then when they land on the site it’s basically a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s about how we can get that level of insight and one-to-one personalization on the front end as well. We’re also on the look our for any other channels out there that can help us with our ambitious growth targets.

What value does Hitting the Mark bring to marketers?

For Bulk Powders, it’s really useful. When you’re ingrained in the business day in day out, it’s hard to take a step back and look at the outside world, to see at what others are doing – how their handling their email, their CRM, their customers. So, to have a report that looks at 100 brands in depth – at what they’re doing really well and what they could improve on – is a great reference for benchmarking. We can get some real tips and ideas and we generally use Hitting the Mark as a knowledge-sharing resource.

For us, it adds a great deal of value. Some of the things we’ve done in the last 12 months or so have come from us looking at the report and thinking ‘oh, well that’s an interesting angle. Perhaps we should try that’. We look forward to it coming out every year.

 

Think you’ve got what it takes to emulate Bulk Powders? Last year the brand came 34th. But after adopting some winning tactics, team Bulk trailblazed up to first place in 2018. Congratulations to them again!

Download the report here for the smartest tactics in email and marketing automation. Benchmark yourself against the competition, adopt better practices, and master customer experience.

The post Learnings from Bulk Powders: winners of Hitting the Mark 2018 (part 2) appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Learnings from Bulk Powders: winners of Hitting the Mark 2018 (part 1)

We’ve gone behind the scenes to see how Bulk Powders, winners of Hitting the Mark 2018, nailed its email marketing and customer experience. Mark Sherwood, Head of Europe at Bulk Powders, kindly agreed to an interview to go through their everyday practices and long-term strategy.

We’ve digested the interview into a two-part blog; the first is focused on the day to day, while the second deep-dives into the brand’s strategy.

The interview: part 1

How do you feel about winning our benchmark report, Hitting the Mark?

It was a surprise to start with, for sure. But we’re really over the moon. There’s a lot of hard work in our small CRM team. In the last 12 to 18 months we’ve put a lot of hard work into evolving from a batch-and-blast email sender to a personalized, triggered, event-based one. Although we do retain the bulk sends as we’re in a very competitive market.

It was a real reward for the team who’s put a lot of hard graft throughout the last 12 months. It’s really pleasing to see the work we’ve put in recognized outside the company. Once you’re ingrained in the company day in day out, you accept it as the norm. So, to have a company such as dotmailer, with its industry-wide reputation, recognize you for being good at what you do is really pleasing.

Moving into personalization happened over the last 18 months. We had a limited ESP, with regards to automation. Slowly over time, we migrated from ‘batch and blast’ to get as much personalization and segmentation in as possible.

How have you embraced personalization in your email campaigns?

Personalization for us is very key. We are a sports nutrition company that has changed a lot over the last few years. At the beginning we were a hardcore bodybuilding company – our demographic was male, 18-25; gym was their life. Our product range has expanded and, while sport nutrition is still at our core, we focus a lot more now on health and wellbeing.

We’ve an array of customer types – they need different messaging, and personalizing is the way forward. Someone who is gym-obsessed requires different communication to someone who comes to us to buy their month’s supply of vitamin tablets. Tailoring emails in this regard is how we do it – it’s all about imagery, messaging and content.

Our emails are fresh with content, recipe ideas, training tactics, nutrition tips and advice. There’s a wealth of information in our blog. We push the right articles to the right people. Simple as that.

What are the ways you use behavioral data to supercharge your sends?

The long-term goal is to have emails that are one-to-one and event-based. Whilst we’re not there yet, we’re moving away from daily emails to more event-triggered ones. We want subscribers to drive the interaction, not us.

There’re all kind of behavioral trigger examples, such as replenishment: because our product is a consumable product, people will buy it and then need to buy some more. We can work out roughly when they’re due to reorder it with an event-based email. These emails perform very well for us.

Then there’s your usual, behavior ones like abandoned cart and browse. We have a tag on our site to monitor web behavior, so we have visibility over which products users are interested in and categories they are looking at. It’s about getting the right content in front of the right person.

Then we can build up a persona based on what people are looking at: i.e. if you’re always looking at vegan products, that’s the content you get, while if you’re looking at weight-loss products, that’s the content you get. That’s the key aim we’re trying to achieve.

We loved your preference center. How important is generating customer insight for your programs?

It’s really important for us. The preference center you’re referring to is the one included in our welcome program. The survey helps us gather more information on new customers coming on board – very integral to the welcome program.

It gives us insight into new customers. While we expand and increase acquisition channels we are increasing customers and different types of customers. But, importantly, we need to make sure we’re acquiring the right customers. That’s where the preference center comes in.

Preference data feeds into an email and CRM database, so we get the content right. But this preference center is just the start of the process – it helps with the initial day-to-day emails but then quickly gets taken over by the consumer’s behavior.

What the consumer tells us and what they go on to do can be very different things. For example, they might tell us that they’re into bulking up and want to put on weight, and then they go and purchase weight loss products. Ultimately what their website behavior is and what they go onto buy gives us a greater indication of what they’re looking for, rather than the information they initially submitted.

So, the preference center helps with the initial outset and our customers’ on-site and purchase behavior gives us a better idea of who they are. Essentially, it’s combining your explicit and implicit data to better understand your customers. You have to start somewhere, and that’s the preference center.

How do you use email to nurture your leads into loyal customers?

For us, it’s all about the welcome program. Having a welcome program that isn’t just email is the way forward. We spent several months testing various different programs – just 3-4 emails, 5-10 emails, ones that last a week, two weeks, a month. Ones that include different channels…and that’s the one that works for us.

When you buy from Bulk Powders and participate in the welcome program, not only do you get an intro email, you’ll also get a welcome message on your social feeds. Our testing shows that when we adopt a multichannel approach, our customers are more likely to engage with us.

It’s all about nurturing rather than a hard sell. Making the customer feel part of ‘team bulk’ – that’s our aim, making them feel part of ‘us’ and being a customer-led brand.

Are there any tactics you use to re-engage lapsed customers?

For us, a lapsed program is slightly different to what you would imagine. This is purely because of the market we’re in – competitive and offer-driven, all of the time. All of the key players in our market constantly send out very aggressive offers.

Sending out another offer – as part of a lapsed program – isn’t going to cut the mustard, because that’s what we’re doing all of the time. It’s more about trying to re-engage with these customers, trying to find out why they stopped buying and if there’s anything we can do to help them.

Generally, our re-engagement approach is soft – we just inquire a little more about them. And perhaps it’s impossible to re-engage that customer because they’ve moved out of the category and they’re no longer interested in sports nutrition. Maybe they’ve moved elsewhere. Even if a customer’s impossible to win back, at least we’ve learned something we can adopt to improve retention in the future.

Were there any longer-term programs that our pseudonym, Harry Thomas, wasn’t enrolled onto?

The short answer is lots. Each of our programs has lots of different paths to go down, so you would have just experienced one journey depending on the actions you took (i.e. whether you opened and clicked). So, even if you were part of the welcome program, the route you took was unique.

If you unsubscribed after 6 months you probably wouldn’t have received our lapsed program, which aims to win back our ‘at risk’ customers – those who we think are at risk of permanently becoming lapsed. We have a further lapsed program for customers whose lapsing is almost certain.

You probably would have missed our replenishment program, too. This would’ve been based on what you purchased. Depending on your date of birth you might have missed out on our birthday program, too.

It would have been possible for you to do down any journey route. Some of our programs include SMS – and this multichannel approach to the journey depends on your very behavior. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

Keep your eyes pealed for part 2 of the interview!

Think you’ve got what it takes to emulate Bulk Powders? Last year the brand came 34th. But after adopting some winning tactics, team Bulk trailblazed up to 1st place in 2018. Congratulations to them again!

Download the report here for the smartest tactics in email and marketing automation. Benchmark yourself against the competition, adopt better practices and you’ll truly master customer experience.

The post Learnings from Bulk Powders: winners of Hitting the Mark 2018 (part 1) appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Get more from your landing pages

Landing pages are your job

You’ve built a winning campaign, with compelling content and a stellar call to action. The reports show a healthy click-through rate, so you can tick that one off, right? No way, José. As email marketers, we’re a dab hand at perfecting the design, targeting and optimization of our messages; but our job goes beyond the remit of the email to include landing pages.

Lying just outside the bounds of your email campaign, landing pages facilitate crucial conversions, including online sales, mailing list sign-ups, and data input. All of these actions are under your influence and should not be overlooked; it’s time to think beyond the initial call to action.

Today’s consumer is looking for a perfect brand interaction

Lead generation marketing is no elaborate rouse. Your modern-day consumer, a tech wizard in their own right, is perfectly aware that their data is a hot commodity. They are willing and able to leverage their details to achieve the best of the best in customer experience, and they’ve already terminated relationships with brands whose interactions haven’t hit the mark.

This new attitude to data sharing doesn’t have to hurt your business; it’s all about understanding customer expectation. We know that a strong email marketing campaign with intelligent personalization, compelling content, and an attractive CTA encourages consumers to click through to convert.

However, if those clicking through are transported to a generic, impersonal homepage, it’s highly likely that all of the magic created from the email will be lost. Your CTA will become diluted by nonspecific website content, and the chances of your customers completing the action you desire get slashed.

In order to keep the magic alive, a strong sense of cohesion must be created between the campaign and the click-through destination. This is where the landing page comes in.

Provide consistent conversion opportunities

Landing pages offer engagement opportunities that arise seamlessly from an initial brand interaction. A landing page can take many forms, and provide a variety of essential services for your business. Ultimately, it’s the best web tool you have to drive your targeted audience to take an action, whether it’s making a purchase, requesting a demo or sales call, or downloading a piece of content.

Use cases for landing pages

Lead generation

Landing pages are the pillar of lead generation. Capture leads from email, social media, and search traffic at an increased rate by sending relevant customers to a targeted landing page. Once you’ve generated these leads, you can then segment, nurture, or pass them on to your sales team.

Support for your side of the bargain

Your offers are designed to increase engagement and drive sales. By implementing a landing page that trades customer contact information for access to the offer, you’ll bag more buck for your benevolence.

Achieve better customer insight

Whatever stage they’re at in the lifecycle, you can use landing pages to obtain more information about your audience. This can help you better profile contacts, leading to better quality customer communication.

Get the measure of engagement

Landing pages facilitate an understanding of which customers are the most engaged with your brand by tracking the interactions of existing leads. This also means you can collect more information on customers’ preferences and online behavior, which is handy for sales.

Get the measure of your success

Each landing page serves as a data asset for your marketing campaign. Track the reports from these pages to get insight into your marketing performance and strengthen your strategy.

There are a variety of ways in which you can incorporate landing pages into your marketing strategy to give them the edge they needs. The next step is to create an effective page that’s fully optimized for a seamless customer interaction.

What does it takes to make your landing pages a success?

The landing page program:

For 10 steps on how to build a high-converting landing page, download our cheatsheet here.

The post Get more from your landing pages appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Combatting customer shakedowns: how to make sure offers don’t dent your bottom line

They’ve cottoned on to your tactics, and now, they’ve got the tools and talent to work them in their favor. It may feel like a constant struggle, but we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Not too long ago, dotmailer teamed up with YouGov to undertake some hefty research on your behalf. We wanted to uncover the tricks customers use to get the best deals around. With the findings we’ve put together a handy cheatsheet to show how you can game the system and beat these super-smart shoppers at their own game.

What did we find?

#1: consumers love offer-led marketing

How do we know this? Well, 66% of UK consumers and 71% of US consumers said they’re more likely to buy online from a brand that’s sent them a money off voucher.

In fact, 39% of UK consumers and 41% of US consumers said they’d happily part with their email address to get money off or discount codes.

#2: getting the best deal matters

Consumer insight: shopping around

 

So much so that 80% of UK customers and 73% of US customers said they’d be willing to do extensive research to secure the best possible deal online.

 

#3: shoppers will abandon carts as they shop for the best deal

Consumer insights: abandoned cart strategy

Consumers from the US (15%) and the UK (13%) will abandon shopping carts in the hope that brands deliver a last-ditch discount to close the sale.

Plus, around a fifth (19% US; 17% UK) abandon their carts on different websites to compare deals.

 

#4:  Sales days are only getting bigger

Consumer insights: sales day tactics

 

40% of US consumers are more likely to hold off from purchasing until dedicated sales days.

Slightly smaller but still growing, 30% UK shoppers will use the same tactic.

 

Gaming the system download

Where  do we go from here?

Now, find out how to use these findings to level-up your marketing by downloading our latest cheatsheet – Gaming the system: beating the consumer at their own game.

The post Combatting customer shakedowns: how to make sure offers don’t dent your bottom line appeared first on The Marketing Automation Blog.

Reblogged 2 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com