2020 Local SEO Success: How to Feed, Fight, and Flip Google

Posted by MiriamEllis

Image credit: Migaspinto

If you own or market a business location that makes a real-world community more serviceable, diverse, and strong, I’m on your side.

I love interesting towns and cities, with a wide array of useful goods and services. Nothing in my career satisfies me more than advising any brand that’s determined to improve life quality in some spot on the map. It does my heart good to see it, but here’s my completely unsentimental take on the challenges you face:

The Internet, and Google’s local platforms in particular, are a complete mess.

Google is the biggest house on the local block; you can’t ignore it. Yet, the entries into the platform are poorly lit, the open-source concept is cluttered with spam, and growing litigation makes one wonder if there are bats in the belfry.

Google comprises both risk and tremendous opportunity for local businesses and their marketers. Succeeding in 2020 means becoming a clear-eyed surveyor of any structural issues as well as seeing the “good bones” potential, so that you can flip dilapidation into dollars. And something beyond dollar, too: civic satisfaction.

Grab your tools and get your teammates and clients together to build local success in the new year by sharing my 3-level plan and 4-quarter strategy.

Level 1: Feed Google

Image credit: Mcapdevila

Information about your business is going to exist on the Internet whether you put it there or not.

Google’s house may be structurally unsound, but it’s also huge, with a 90% search engine market share globally and over 2 trillion searches per year, 46% of which are for something local.

Residents, new neighbors, and travelers seeking what you offer will almost certainly find something about your company online, whether it’s a stray mention on social media, an unclaimed local business listing generated by a platform or the public, or a full set of website pages and claimed listings you’ve actively published.

Right now, running the most successful local business possible means acquiring the largest share you can of those estimated 1 trillion annual local searches. How do you do this? 

By feeding Google:

  • Website content about your business location, products, services, and attributes
  • Corroborating info about your company on other websites
  • Local business listing content
  • Image content
  • Video content
  • Social media content

Remember, without your content and the content of others, Google does not exist. Local business owners can often feel uncomfortably dependent on Google, but it’s really Google who is dependent on them.

Whether the business you’re marketing is small or large, declare 2020 the year you go to the drafting board to render a clear blueprint for a content architecture that spans your entire neighborhood of the Internet, including your website and relevant third-party sites, platforms, and apps. Your plans might look something like this:

Image detailing the architecture of local SEO, including what you should put on GMB, website, and via 3rd parties (all detailed in text below)

I recommend organizing your plan like this, making use of the links I’m including:

  1. Begin with a rock-solid foundation of business information on your website. Tell customers everything they could want to know to choose and transact with your business. Cover every location, service, product, and desirable attribute of your company. There’s no chance you won’t have enough to write about when you take into account everything your customers ask you on a daily basis + everything you believe makes your company the best choice in the local market. Be sure the site loads fast, is mobile-friendly, and as technically error-free as possible.
  2. Create a fully complete, accurate, guideline-abiding Google My Business listing for each location of your business.
  3. Build out your listings (aka structured citations) on the major platforms. Automate the work of both developing and monitoring them for sentiment and change via a product like Moz Local.
  4. Monitor and respond to all reviews as quickly as possible on all platforms. These equal your online reputation and are, perhaps, the most important content about your business on the Internet. Know that reviews are a two-way conversation and learn to inspire customers to edit negative reviews. Moz Local automates review monitoring and facilitates easy responses. If you need help earning reviews, check out Alpine Software Group’s two good products: GatherUp and Grade.Us.
  5. Audit your competition. In competitive markets, come check out our beta of Local Market Analytics for a multi-sampled understanding of who your competitors actually are for each location of your business, depending on searcher locale.
  6. Once you’ve found your competitors, audit them to understand the:
    1. quality, authority and rate of ongoing publication you need to surpass
    2. strength and number of linked unstructured citations you need to build
    3. number and quality of Google posts, videos, products, and other content you need to publish
    4. social engagement you need to create.
  7. As to the substance of your content, focus directly on your customers’ needs. Local Market Analytics is breaking ground in delivering actual local keyword volumes, and the end point of all of your research, whether via keyword tools, consumer surveys, or years of business experience, should be content that acts as customer service, turning seekers into shoppers.
  8. Use any leftover time to sketch in the finer details. For example, I’m less excited about schema for 2020 than I was in 2019 because of Google removing some of the benefits of review schema. Local business schema is still a good idea, though, if you have time for it. Meanwhile, pursuing relevant featured snippets could certainly be smart in the new year. I’d go strong on video this year, particularly YouTube, if there’s applicability and demand in your market.

The customer is the focus of everything you publish. Google is simply the conduit. Your content efforts may need to be modest or major to win the greatest possible share of the searches that matter to you. It depends entirely on the level of competition in your markets. Find that level, know your customers, and commit to feeding Google a steady, balanced diet of what they say they want so that it can be conveyed to the people you want to serve.

Level 2: Fight Google

Image credit: Scott Lewis

Let’s keep it real: ethical local companies which pride themselves on playing fair have good reason to be dubious about doing business with Google. Once you’ve put in the effort to feed Google all the right info to begin competing for rankings, you may well find yourself having to do online battle on an ongoing basis.

There are two fronts on which many people end up grappling with Google:

  • Problematic aspects within products
  • Litigation and protests against the brand.

Let’s break these down to prepare you:

Product issues

Google has taken on the scale of a public utility — one that’s replaced most of North America’s former reliance on telephone directories and directory assistance numbers.

Google has 5 main local interfaces: local packs, local finders, desktop maps, mobile maps and the Google Maps app. It’s been the company’s decision to allow these utilities to become polluted with misinformation in the form of listing and review spam, and irrelevant or harmful user-generated content. Google does remove spam, but not at the scale of the issue, which is so large that global networks of spammers are have sprung up to profit from the lack of quality control and failure to enforce product guidelines.

When you are marketing a local business, there’s a strong chance you will face one or more of the following issues while attempting to compete in Google’s local products:

  • Being outranked by businesses violating Google’s own guidelines with practices such as keyword-stuffed business titles and creating listings to represent non-existent locations or lead-gen companies. (Example)
  • Being the target of listing hijacking in which another company overtakes some aspect of your listing to populate it with their own details. (Example)
  • Being the target of a reputation attack by competitors or members of the public posting fake negative reviews of your business. (Example)
  • Being the target of negative images uploaded to your listing by competitors or the public. (Example)
  • Having Google display third-party lead-gen information on your listings, driving business away from you to others. (Example)
  • Having Google randomly experiment with local features with direct negative impacts on you, such as booking functions that reserve tables for your patrons without informing your business. (Example)
  • Being unable to access adequately trained Google staff or achieve timely resolution when things go wrong (Example)

These issues have real-world impacts. I’ve seen them misdirect and scam countless consumers including those having medical and mental health emergency needs, kill profits during holiday shopping seasons for companies, cause owners so much loss that they’ve had to lay off staff, and even drive small brands out of business.

Honest local business owners don’t operate this way. They don’t make money off of fooling the public, or maliciously attack neighboring shops, or give the cold shoulder to people in trouble. Only Google’s underregulated monopoly status has allowed them to stay in business while conducting their affairs this way.

Outlook issues

Brilliant people work for Google and some of their innovations are truly visionary. But the Google brand, as a whole, can be troubling to anyone firmly tied to the idea of ethical business practices. I would best describe the future of Google, in its present underregulated state of monopoly, as uncertain.

In their very short history, Google has been:

I can’t predict where all this is headed. What I do know is that nearly every local business I’ve ever consulted with has been overwhelmingly reliant on Google for profits. Whether you personally favor strong regulation or not, I recommend that every local business owner and marketer keep apprised of the increasing calls by governing bodies, organizations, and even the company’s own staff to break Google up, tax it, end contracts on the basis of human rights, and prosecute it over privacy, antitrust, and a host of other concerns.

Pick your battles

With Google so deeply embedded in your company’s online visibility, traffic, reputation and transactions, concerns with the brand and products don’t exist in some far-off place; they are right on your own doorstep. Here’s how to fight well:

1. Fight the spam

To face off with Google’s local spam, earn/defend the rankings your business needs, and help clean polluted SERPs up for the communities you serve, here are my best links for you:

2. Stay informed

If you’re ready to move beyond your local premises to the larger, ongoing ethical debate surrounding Google, here are my best links for you:

Whether your degree of engagement goes no further than local business listings or extends to your community, state, nation, or the world, I recommend increased awareness of the whole picture of Google in 2020. Education is power.

Level 3: Flip Google

Image credit: Province of British Columbia

You’ve fed Google. You’ve fought Google. Now, I want you to flip this whole scenario to your advantage.

My 2020 local SEO blueprint has you working hard for every customer you win from the Internet. So far, the ball has been almost entirely in Google’s court, but when all of this effort culminates in a face-to-face meeting with another human being, we are finally at your party under your roof, where you have all the control. This is where you turn Internet-driven customers into in-store keepers.

I encourage you to make 2020 the year you draft a strategy for making a larger portion of your sales as Google-independent as possible, flipping their risky edifice into su casa, built of sturdy bricks like community, pride, service, and loyalty.

How can you do this? Here’s a four-quarter plan you can customize to fit your exact business scenario:

Q1: Listen & learn

Image credit: Chris Kiernan, Small Business Saturday

The foundation of all business success is giving the customer exactly what they want. Hoping and guessing are no substitute for a survey of your actual customers.

If you already have an email database, great. If not, you could start collecting one in Q1 and run your survey at the end of the quarter when you have enough addresses. Alternatively, you could ask each customer if they would kindly take a very short printed survey while you ring up their purchase.

Imagine you’re marketing an independent bookstore. Such a survey might look like this, whittled down to just the data points you most want to gather from customers to make business decisions:

Have pens ready and a drop box for each customer to deposit their card. Make it as convenient and anonymous as possible, for the customer’s comfort.

In this survey and listening phase of the new year, I also recommend that you:

  1. Spend more time as the business owner speaking directly to your customers, really listening to their needs and complaints and then logging them in a spreadsheet. Speak with determination to discover how your business could help each customer more.
  2. Have all phone staff log the questions/requests/complaints they receive.
  3. Have all floor/field staff log the questions/requests/complaints they receive.
  4. Audit your entire online review corpus to identify dominant sentiment, both positive and negative
  5. If the business you’re marketing is large and competitive, now is the time to go in for a full-fledged consumer analysis project with mobile surveys, customer personae, etc.

End of Q1 Goal: Know exactly what customers want so that they’ll come to us for repeat business without any reliance on Google.

Q2: Implement your ready welcome

Image credit: Small Business Week in BC

In this quarter, you’ll implement as many of the requests you’ve gleaned from Q1 as feasible. You’ll have put solutions in place to rectify any complaint themes, and will have upped your game wherever customers have called for it.

In addition to the fine details of your business, large or small, life as a local SEO has taught me that these six elements are basic requirements for local business longevity:

  1. A crystal-clear USP
  2. Consumer-centric policies
  3. Adequate, well-trained, personable staff
  4. An in-demand inventory of products/services
  5. Accessibility for complaint resolution
  6. Cleanliness/orderliness of premises/services

The lack of any of these six essentials results in negative experiences that can either cause the business to shed silent customers in person or erode online reputation to the point that the brand begins to fail.

With the bare minimums of customers’ requirements met, Q2 is where we get to the fun part. This is where you take your basic USP and add your special flourish to it that makes your brand unique, memorable, and desirable within the community you serve.

A short tale of two yarn shops in my neck of the woods: At shop A, the premises are dark and dusty. Customer projects are on display, but aren’t very inspiring. Staff sits at a table knitting, and doesn’t get up when customers enter. At shop B, the lighting and organization are inviting, displayed projects are mouthwatering, and though the staff here also sits at a table knitting, they leap up to meet, guide, and serve. Guess which shop now knows me by name? Guess which shop has staff so friendly that they have lent me their own knitting needles for a tough project? Guess which shop I gave a five-star review to? Guess where I’ve spent more money than I really should?

This quarter, seek vision for what going above-and-beyond would look like to your customers. What would bring them in again and again for years to come? Keep it in mind that computers are machines, but you and your staff are people serving people. Harness human connection.

End of Q2 Goal: Have implemented customers’ basic requests and gone beyond them to provide delightful human experiences Google cannot replicate.

Q3: Participate, educate, appreciate

Now you know your customers, are meeting their specified needs, and doing your best to become one of their favorite businesses. It’s time to walk out your front door into the greater community to see where you can make common cause with a neighborhood, town, or city, as a whole.

2020 is the year you become a joiner. Analyze all of the following sources at a local level:

  • Print and TV news
  • School newsletters and papers
  • Place of worship newsletters and bulletins
  • Local business organization newsletters
  • Any form of publication surrounding charity, non-profits, activism, and government

Create a list of the things your community worries about, cares about, and aspires to. For example, a city near me became deeply involved in a battle over putting an industrial plant in a wetland. Another town is fundraising for a no-kill animal shelter and a walk for Alzheimer’s. Another is hosting interfaith dinners between Christians and Muslims.

Pick the efforts that feel best to you and show up, donate, host, speak, sponsor, and support in any way you can. Build real relationships so that the customers coming through your door aren’t just the ones you sell to, but the ones you’ve manned a booth with on the 4th of July, attended a workshop with, or cheered with at their children’s soccer match. This is how community is made.

Once you’re participating in community life, it’s time to educate your customers about how supporting your business makes life better in the place they live (get a bunch of good stats on this here). Take the very best things that you do and promote awareness of them face-to-face with every person you transact with.

For my fictitious bookseller client, just 10 minutes spent on Canva (you have to try Canva!) helped me whip together this free flyer I could give to every customer, highlighting stats about how supporting independent businesses improve communities:

Example of a flyer to give to customers thanking them for shopping local

If you’re marketing a larger enterprise, a flyer like this could focus on green practices you’re implementing at scale, philanthropic endeavors, and positive community involvement.

Finally, with the holiday season fast approaching in the coming quarter, this is the time to let customers know how much you appreciate their business. Recently, I wrote about businesses turning kindness into a form of local currency. Brands are out there delivering surprise flowers and birthday cakes to customers, picking them up when they’re stranded on roadsides, washing town signage, and replacing “you will be towed” plaques with ones that read “you’re welcome to park here.” Loyalty programs, coupons, discounts, sales, free events, parties, freebies, and fun are all at your disposal to say “Thank you, please come again!” to your customers.

End of Q3 Goal: Have integrated more deeply into community life, motivated customers to choose our business for aspirational reasons beyond sales, and have offered memorable acts of gratitude for their business, completely independent of Google.

Q4: Share customers and sell

Every year, local consumer surveys indicate that 80–90% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family. But I’ve yet to see a survey poll how much people trust recommendations they receive from trustworthy business owners.

You spent all of Q3 becoming a true ally to your community, getting personally involved in the struggles and dreams of the people you serve. At this point, if you’ve done a good job, the people who make up your brand have come closer to deserving the word “friend” from customers. As we move into Q4, it’s time to deepen alliances — this time with related local businesses.

In the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street, the owners of Macy’s and Gimbel’s begin sending shoppers to one another when either business lacks what the customer wants. They even create catalogues of their competitors’ inventory to assist with these referrals. In Q3, I’m hoping you joined a local business alliance that’s begun to acquaint you with other brands that feature goods/service that relate to yours so that you can begin dedicated outreach.

Q4, with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, is traditionally the quarter in which local businesses expect to get out of the red, but how many more wedding cakes would you sell if all the caterers in town were referring to you, how many more tires would you vend if the muffler shops sent all their customers your way, how many more therapeutic massages might you book if every holistic medical center in your city confidently gave out your name?

Formalize B2B customer referrals in this quarter in seven easy steps:

  1. Create a spreadsheet headed with your contact information and an itemized list of the main goods, services, and brands you sell. Include specialties of your business. Create additional rows to be filled out with the information of other businesses.
  2. Create a list of every local business that could tie in with yours in any way for a customer’s needs.
  3. Invite the owners or qualified reps of each business on your list to a meeting at a neutral location, like a community center or restaurant.
  4. Bring your spreadsheet to the meeting.
  5. Discuss with your guests how a commitment to sharing customers will benefit all of you
  6. If others commit, have them fill out their column of the spreadsheet. Share print and digital copies with all participants.
  7. Whenever a customer asks for something you don’t offer, refer to the spreadsheet to make a recommendation. Encourage your colleagues to do likewise, and to train staff to use the spreadsheet to increase customer sharing and satisfaction.

Make a copy of my free Local Business Allies spreadsheet!

Q4 Goal: Make this the best final quarter yet by sharing customers with local business allies, decreasing dependence on Google for referrals.

Embrace truth and dare to draw the line

Image credit: TCDavis

House flipping is a runaway phenomenon in the US that has remodeled communities and sparked dozens of hit TV shows. Unfortunately, there’s a downside to the activity, as it can create negative gentrification, making life less good for residents.

You need have no fear of this when you flip Google, because turning their house into yours actually strengthens your real-world neighborhood, town, or city. It gives the residents who already live there more stable resources, more positive human contact, and a more closely knit community.

Truth: Google will remain dominant in the discovery-related phases of your consumers’ journeys for the foreseeable future. For new neighbors and travelers, Google will remain a valuable source of your business being found in the first place. Even if governing bodies break the company up at some point, the truth is that most local businesses need to utilize Google a search utility for discovery.

Dare: Draw a line on the pavement outside your front door this year, with transactional experiences on your side of the line. Google wants to own the transaction phase of your customers’ journey. Bookings, lead gen, local ads, and related features show where they are headed with this. If Google could, I’m sure they’d be glad to take a cut of every sale you make, and you’ll likely have to participate in their transactional aspirations to some degree. But…

In 2020, dare yourself to turn every customer you serve into a keeper, cutting out Google as the middleman wherever you can and building a truly local, regenerative base of loyalty, referrals, and community.

Wishing you a local 2020 of daring vision and self-made success!

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Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today

Then and Now Ten years ago, a search for real estate would have started in the office of a local real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties … Continue reading “Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today”

The post Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today appeared first on OutreachMama.

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How to keep the conversation going post-purchase

You’ve made it through Black Friday, Cyber
Monday, Singles’ Day, (maybe even Boxing Day and New Year’s sales by the time
you’ve read this) and got yourself a whole lot of new customers – wohoo! With
such a huge volume of first-time buyers, it’s no surprise that our customer
success team is being asked how best to implement post-purchase programs, even
in the middle of sales season.

It’s important for any online retailer to
make sure that they’ve got a great program to help keep that buyer’s high and
get customers coming back for more, and this is a great time of year to test
different types of conversation to see what engagers your customers the most.

If you’re feeding in your order data, you can track the success of this in the retail dashboard of your dotdigital account, take note of the percentage of single vs repeat customers, and see the value of this conversion by multiplying your unique customers by your average order value…It’s a big number, right?!

Returns

Australia Post’s 2019 report revealed that Consumers buying fashion items are, on average, three times more likely to choose a vendor based on their returns policy, so make sure this is clear on your site for starters.

Costume box sends out this brilliant offer to return any item within 100 days of purchase. This helps to take the pressure off the warehouse processing returns at busy times of year, and also increases the value proposition for us as consumers.

Product aftercare

I adore this email from Stuck on you, sent out once you’ve bought your customized Bento box. Not only are they giving you ideas for what to pack inside, they’re also educating consumers on how to snap out the inner lid. This helps reduce customer frustration with the tight-fitting seal, reduces the number of customer service queries on the topic, and makes sure the product is being cleaned properly, helping it last longer.

Social interactions

Costume box helps to educate their audience on how to interact with them on social media. Although it’s old hat to some shoppers, for many of their demographic, it might be their first time tagging a company on Instagram. So, the brand walks you through it, with some gorgeous examples from their recent feed on the upcoming Day of the Dead festival.

Spend-less Shoes knows that a lot of their customers aspire to be social influencers, and so send this out post-purchase to inspire tagging and sharing on Insta, as part of a competition to win a shopping spree. A winning campaign both for Spend-less and for their customers.

Cross-/upsell

New Zealand clothing brand 3 Wise Men’s core offering is “3 for 3 hundy”, so when a customer makes it past checkout with only two items, they make sure to notify the customer, both at checkout and on email, how they can get the third item at the reduced price. This means you never miss out on a good deal!

Reviews

Remedy Kombucha sends out a review email asking customers to rate their favorite flavor, helping the company develop more flavors and refine existing products. No incentive required, so they can ensure the feedback is authentic and not just a lax attempt to win something. Authentic reviews help to encourage both first-time and repeat purchases. Whilst I’m on the site raving about their passionfruit flavor, I’m pretty likely to be putting another slab in my cart at the same time as I reminisce…

Shipping

Finally, don’t let shipping variables affect your post-purchase journeys. Shipping in Australia is a challenge for many retailers, and we often hear customers not wanting to send anything until they can guarantee the parcel has arrived. However, Baxter Blue does a fantastic job of addressing this head on. They check in with the customer, letting them know where they can track their parcel, and also offer some above-and-beyond help. They’ve also added some info on the product you’ve bought, to reduce any post-purchase remorse, highlighting the protection of their glasses against screen glare.

Key takeaways

  • Your first-time purchasers are a goldmine for future revenue. Make sure you look after them, and don’t just put them back into the BAU emails without saying thank you. Try one or more of the above conversations to make them sticky and turn them into brand advocates.
  • Sustain that buyer’s high to encourage repeat purchases. Try something new, and track the success of different conversations, using your retail dashboard and/or segmentation.
  • Choose the conversations which match your brand voice, and product range, and make sure you’ve given your customers a way to continue their conversation with your brand once their product has arrived.

If you’d like to hear more on the topic, you can check out the webinars I’m doing on post-purchase journeys, one with Trustpilot and another with Magento, coming soon to our resources section!

The post How to keep the conversation going post-purchase appeared first on dotdigital blog.

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7 Boxing Day email marketing essentials – how to get what you want this year

But the times they are a-changing.  

Historically a key sales day, in-store footfall has dropped over recent years. Today’s shoppers prefer to bag a bargain during Black Friday or over 27, 28, and 29 December. Instead, there’s been a massive surge in consumers browsing online before venturing to the store. This presents a vital opportunity for ecommerce brands around the world.  

But, as we all begin switching off and offices shut down for the holidays, how do we make ensure our marketing is ready?   

We have eight tactics you need to put in place to maximize this marketing opportunity. 

1. Set up your automation programs 

Let’s face it – not all offices are open over the holidays. And if they are, you’re more likely to be focusing on next year’s strategy than sending out sales emails.   

As a result, building your automation before the holidays begin is essential.   

Make sure your strategy and creative are good to go and simply add them to your holiday automation. And the key automation you need to build is for your Boxing Day sales.   

To guarantee massive ROI from this campaign, it’s important you think beyond a basic SALE email.  

While these are eye-catching and can receive a decent CTR, the savvy-shopper is no longer so easily swayed.   

When building your template, it’s important to take into consideration tactics that drive conversions and boost sales. Tools such as product recommendation blocks will improve engagements and bolster sales. Using AI-powered recommendations, you can highlight items related to or similar to previous purchases. This adds a layer of personalization to your email that’s hard to ignore. 

2. Jazz-up your existing programs  

Give your existing programs a Christmassy feel by creating some unique templates to cover the holiday period.  

Boxing day sales are a great way to acquire new customers. Make the right first impression with a personalized welcome program that wishes new subscribers a ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’. Perhaps you can offer a limited time discount to anyone signing up during the period. This will encourage repeat purchases when the season is over.  

3. Get them before you even say hello 

As with every other busy sales period, inboxes are even more overcrowded than normal. You need to make an impact as soon as your email lands. And the best way to do that is with your subject line.   

Subject lines are an afterthought for many marketers. For others, it’s the most important part of the campaign. Being different is your secret weapon. Incorporate emojis and personalization to capture the attention of the skim reader.  

And, don’t forget to test, test, test.  

Setting up A/B tests before you fire off your emails is a must. They need to be constantly tweaked and adapted to ensure they’re landing with impact.  

 4. Get it before it’s gone 

A flash sale is essentially a strictly limited period sale, fueled by the threat of limited stock and a tight deadline for purchase.  

Flash sale email

Flash or Short supply sales can generate an average uplift of 35% in transaction rates. At the extreme utilization of this trend, we have the infamous brand Supreme who is the pioneers of hype branding, some of their products resell as high as 1200% more than the retail price

Running a short supply sale is an opportunity to generate real major sales momentum, particularly when supported by social media integrated with your outbound marketing campaigns. Interestingly, campaigns deployed in the morning have a higher engagement rate but those sent in the evening hours perform better on conversion; if your goal is to generate brand and awareness vs immediate sales consider this a tactic. 

5. Everything connects  

If you make just one update to your marketing strategy this month, make sure your systems are connected.  

Integrations with your CRM and ecommerce store aren’t the only systems you need to think about connecting. To ensure your customers have a smooth and memorable journey with you, you need to consider all your communication channels. Whether you’re reaching customers by chat, SMS, push, or direct mail, you need to ensure your messaging is consistent.  

This year, Black Friday proved to be the biggest day ever for mobile shopping. 61% of all online sales came from smartphone transactions, so being able to reach customers on the move is essential. 

6. ‘Didn’t get what you wanted?’ 

Traditional post-Christmas thriftiness has been proven to be a thing of the past.  

It’s one of the reasons why retailers are refocusing their marketing activity to maximize on the rise of the ‘I-want-it-now’ consumer. Shoppers want to spend some money on themselves as a reward for being so generous during the holiday season.  

Build on this sentiment by personalizing your sales messages with dynamic content. Pull in previously browsed or wished for products to encourage shoppers to treat themselves to that special something they didn’t get from their loved ones. 

7. Messages that really hit home 

Boxing Day sales are a well-established practice in the world of UK ecommerce. As a result, to get your readers’ attention, you need to deliver relevant messages.  

The more relevant the content you send, the more likely they are to read it. Tailoring email content around previous search and website visitor behavior can be an invaluable weapon in your battle for inbox cut-through.  

Along with email marketing automation, consider building data segments of customers based on product categories they’ve browsed with targeted price discounts on related products. 

The post 7 Boxing Day email marketing essentials – how to get what you want this year appeared first on dotdigital blog.

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dotdigital Engagement Cloud named leader in G2’s Marketing Automation Grid

G2 rates products from the Marketing Automation category algorithmically from product reviews shared by G2 users and data aggregated from online sources and social networks.

Vendors are scored for their customer satisfaction and market presence, and fall into one of four areas: leaders, contenders, high performers, and niche.

Marketing Automation Leader

dotdigital Engagement Cloud has been named a leader in the G2 Marketing Automation Grid, which you can view in full here.

Technology buyers can use the Grid to help them quickly select the best providers for their businesses and to find peers with similar experiences.

Grid scoring methodology

G2 rates products and vendors based on reviews gathered from its user community, as well as data aggregated from online sources and social networks. G2 applies a unique algorithm to this data to calculate the Satisfaction and Market Presence sources in real time.

For more insight into the Satisfaction and Market Presence criteria, click here.


View the G2 Marketing Automation Grid here.

The post dotdigital Engagement Cloud named leader in G2’s Marketing Automation Grid appeared first on dotdigital blog.

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4 things you didn’t know product recommendations could do for you

This is the final of a three-part series on where to focus your efforts after a surge in sales from new customers.

See parts one and two here.

Last week, as part of our series on actions to take following a surge in sales, we teased you with a great way of retaining new customers — with product recommendations of course! And with a potential increase of 300% in revenue – did you know that according to Forrester 30% of Amazon’s total group revenue is directly attributed to them? – it’s no wonder you’ve clicked through to learn more about what product recommendations can do for you. But beyond the obvious upsides of upselling, with Engagement Cloud, product recommendations go that one step further. 

If you thought product recommendations were just about repeat purchases, you’d be wrong! Just like a good sales person, product recommendations are great when it comes to achieving a higher customer lifetime value and increasing average order value. But, similarly to a good hire, they can also provide an exceptional customer experience, and even help improve things like your stock management or your understanding of customers. 

Here are a few tips and tricks from dotdigital to get product recommendations working for you.

1: Delight your customers by displaying a product they need but didn’t know you had

An online store can be harder to navigate than a physical one, just because you don’t get to see everything at once. That means it’s highly likely your customers have no idea of the full breadth of your wonderful product offering. Make it easy for them. 

Use ‘also bought’ and ‘best next’ product recommendations on your site to point your customer in the right direction. They’ve just bought a computer mouse from you, but they might not know you offer batteries. Or maybe they booked a hotel room – are they aware you have a spa with services on offer? You can use these product recommendations post-purchase as well of course, in emails that upsell a little later than the point of sale. Or perhaps even try a combination of the two. 

For those customers that didn’t quite make a purchase, could it be they didn’t quite find what they were looking for? Use lookalike product recommendations to give the customer some more options, whether it’s handbags or holidays. You can increase open rates and click-throughs by making your abandoned cart copy sound exclusive with a touch of the personal shopper, with phrases such as ‘Selected just for you’. Use personalization fields to up the ante.

2: Show them what’s hot, and what they really want, with trending

The trending product recommendation combines ‘best sellers’ and ‘most viewed’ to give your customers a selection that will make them feel as if they are ahead of the curve. People love to keep up with the Jones’, and there are few industry exceptions. Whether it’s shoes, phones, speakers, cars, or mini-breaks, show your customers what they’re missing out on in your regular marketing sends.

3: Avoid disappointment when an item is out of stock, with lookalikes

Your customer may have had their eye on a product from you for some time but couldn’t quite commit to buy for a number of reasons. Then they go to view the item with the intent of buying this time and discover it’s out of stock. Quickly divert their attention with on-site lookalike product recommendations, reassuring them that just because that one product is sold out, it doesn’t mean there are no other alternatives for them on your site. 

You could also capitalize again here on abandoned cart emails (as well as a bit of fear-of-loss); let the customer know that the item they viewed is now out of stock, but there are others that they’ll no doubt love. 

4: Take them on a new journey, with existing customers leading the way

Both the ‘best next’ and ‘also bought’ product recommendations in Engagement Cloud are customer-led, in that they examine and use real customer data to recommend the products. In fact, ‘best next’ even uses AI to predict missing products in a typical matrix (or customer journey). For instance, if you were buying a new outfit and looking at the shoes, you could recommend that customers also bought a particular belt or that the next best product might be a blazer.

Use this as a selling point for your customers. Frame your product recommendations as your community of loyal customers leading the way for your new customers. Word and design your ‘best next’ and ‘also bought’ product recommendations as if customers were personally recommending items to one another. This not only gives your products an element of social proof, it will also make them feel as if they are part of something bigger when shopping with your brand.


Not an Engagement Cloud user yet? Take a tour with our quick demo here. Or want to learn more about product recommendations? Download our winning cheatsheet here.

Don’t forget, this is the final of our three-part series in what to do after a surge in sales. Check out part one here and part two here, or sign up for blog updates and more here.

The post 4 things you didn’t know product recommendations could do for you appeared first on dotdigital blog.

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dotdigital is a CSA certified sender

With more than 1,000 members, eco is the largest internet industry association in Europe. The DDV is the largest national consortium of dialog marketers in Europe.

The CSA acts as a neutral interface between mailbox providers and senders of commercial emails.

The goal of the CSA is to increase the quality of commercial emails (e.g. newsletters, invoices, order confirmations, etc.). To achieve this goal, the CSA establishes legal and technical quality standards. The quality standards arise out of prevailing law and the technical requirements for mailbox providers. They are regularly updated to correspond to market requirements.

dotdigital’s philosophy does not only align with the CSA’s vision but is complying with the high standards the CSA sets for commercial mail.

For us, the standards are not a burden we enforce on our clients, but both legal and technical are crucial for our customers’ success. Without a clear opt-in and proper email authentication, mails will not arrive in the inbox and then no revenue is generated. And these are just a few examples of what the CSA certification checks a sender for.

dotdigital is now a CSA certified sender.

The certification gives dotdigital’s clients a benefit when sending mail to the CSA’s receivers like Microsoft, Verizon Media (Yahoo! and Aol), 1&1 (gmx.de, web.de, mail.com), Cloudmark, Cisco Talos Security, Cyren, and many more.

The legal criteria are following German and European legislation and case law which gives us and our clients some legal certainty.

“I am happy to welcome dotdigital to the circle of CSA certified senders, a certification that ensures the commitment of an ESP to the high technical and legal standards we and our ISP and technology partners are setting.” says Janßen-Holldiek, Director of the CSA.

“Going for the CSA certification was an easy decision for us; as an opt-in platform with a strong industry presence we were already complying with most criteria and were happy to push for the missing ones.” Phil Draper, GM EMEA, dotdigital.


Click here for a quick demo of dotdigital Engagement Cloud.

The post dotdigital is a CSA certified sender appeared first on dotdigital blog.

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6 Local Search Marketing DIY Tips for the Crafting Industry

Posted by MiriamEllis

Think crafting is kids’ stuff? Think again. The owners of quilting, yarn, bead, fabric, woodworking, art supply, stationers, edible arts, and related shops know that:

  • The crafting industry generated $44 billion in 2016 in the US alone.
  • 63% of American households engage in at least one crafting project annually, while more than one in four participate in 5+ per year.
  • The top three craft store chains in the country (Michaels, JOANN, Hobby Lobby) operate nearly 3,000 locations, just among themselves.
  • There are an estimated 3,200 US storefronts devoted to quilting alone. Thousands more vend everything from the stuff of ancient arts (knitting, with a 1,000-year history) to the trendy and new (unicorn slime, which, yes, is really a thing).

Our local search marketing industry has devoted abundant time to advising major local business categories over the past couple of decades, but crafting is one substantial retail niche we may have overlooked. I’d like to rectify this today.

I feel personally inspired by craft store owners. Over the years, I’ve learned to sew, quilt, embroider, crochet, knit, and bead, and before I became a local search marketer, I was a working fine artist. I even drafted a sewing pattern once that was featured in a crafting magazine. Through my own exploration of arts and crafts, I’ve come to know so many independent business owners in this industry, and have marketed several of them. These are gutsy people who take risks, work extremely hard for their living, and often zestfully embrace any education they can access about marketing.

Today, I’m offering my six best marketing tips for craft retailers for a more successful and profitable 2020.

First, a quick definition of local search marketing

Your store is your location. Your market is made up of all of your customers’ locations. Anything you do to promote your location to the market you serve is considered local search marketing. Your market could be your neighborhood, your city, or a larger local region. Local search marketing can include both offline efforts, like hanging eye-catching signage or getting mentioned in local print news, and online efforts, like having a website, building listings on local business listing platforms, and managing customer reviews.

Whatever you do to increase local awareness about your location, interact online with customers, bring them through your front door, serve them in-store, and follow up with them afterwards in an ongoing relationship counts. You’re already doing some of this, and in the words of Martha Stewart, “It’s a good thing.” But with a little more attention and intention, these six tips can craft even greater success for your business:

1. Take a page from my Google scrapbook

To engage in local search marketing is to engage with Google. Since they first started mapping out communities and businesses in 2004, the search engine giant has come to dominate the online local scene. There are other important online platforms, but to be in front of the maximum number of potential customers and to compete for rankings in Google’s local search results, your crafting business needs to:

  1. Read the Guidelines for representing your business on Google and follow them to the letter. This set of rules tells you what you can and can’t do in the Google My Business product. Listing your business incorrectly or violating the guidelines in any way can result in listing suspension and other negative outcomes.
  2. Create your free Google My Business listing once you’ve read the guidelines. Here’s Moz’s cheat sheet to all of the different fields and features you can fill out in your listing. Fill out as many fields as you possibly can and then Google will take you through the steps of verifying your listing.
  3. Reckon with Google’s power. As our scrapbook says, Google owns your Google My Business listing, but you can take a lot of control over some of its contents. Even once you’ve verified your listing, it’s still open to suggested edits from the public, questions, reviews, user-uploaded photos and other activities. Main takeaway: your GMB listing is not a one-and-done project. It’s an interactive platform that you will be monitoring and managing from here on out.

2. Weave a strong web presence

Your Google My Business listing will likely be the biggest driver of traffic to your craft store, but you’ll want to cast your online net beyond this. Once you feel confident about the completeness and ongoing management of your GMB listing, there are 4 other strands of Internet activity for you to take firm hold of:

Your website

At bare minimum, your website should feature:

  • Your complete and accurate name, address, phone number, email, and fax number
  • Clear written driving directions to your place of business from all points of entry
  • A good text description of everything you sell and offer
  • An up-to-date list of all upcoming classes and events
  • Some high-quality photos of your storefront and merchandise

A more sophisticated website can also feature:

  • Articles and blog posts
  • Full inventory, including e-commerce shopping
  • Customer reviews and testimonials
  • Online classes, webinars and video tutorials
  • Customer-generated content, including photos, forums, etc.

The investment you make in your website should be based on how much you need to do to create a web presence that surpasses your local competitors. Depending on where your store is located, you may need only a modest site, or may need to go further to rank highly in Google’s search engine results and win the maximum number of customers.

Your other local listings

Beyond Google, your business listings on other online platforms like Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Apple Maps, Factual, Foursquare, and Infogroup can ensure that customers are encountering your business across a wide variety of sites and apps. Listings in these local business information indexes are sometimes referred to as “structured citations” and you have two main choices for building and maintaining them:

  • You can manually build a listing on each important platform and check back on it regularly to manage your reviews and other content on it, as well as to ensure that the basic contact info hasn’t been changed by the platform or the public in any way.
  • You can invest in local listings management software like Moz Local, which automates creation of these listings and gives you a simple dashboard that helps you respond to reviews, post new content, and be alerted to any emerging inaccuracies across key listing platforms, all in one place. This option can be a major time saver and deliver welcome peace of mind.

Structured citation management is critical to any local business for two key reasons. Firstly, it can be a source of valuable consumer discovery and new customers for your shop. Secondly, it ensures you aren’t losing customers to frustrating misinformation. One recent survey found that 22% of customers ended up at the wrong location of a business because online information about it was incorrect, and that 80% of them lost trust in the company when encountering such misinformation. Brick-and-mortar stores can’t afford to inconvenience or lose a single customer, and that’s why managing all your listings for accuracy is worth the investment of time/money.

Your unstructured citations

As we’ve just covered, a formal listing on a local business platform is called a “structured citation.” Unstructured citations, by contrast, are mentions of your business on any type of website: local online news, industry publications, a crafter’s blog, and lists of local attractions all count.

Anywhere your business can get mentioned on a relevant online publication can help customers discover you. And if trusted, authoritative websites link to yours when they mention your business, those links can directly improve your search engine rankings.

If you’re serving a market with little local competition, you may not need to invest a ton of time in seeking out unstructured citation opportunities. But if a nearby competitor is outranking you and you need to get ahead, earning high-quality mentions and links can be the best recipe for surpassing them. All of the following can be excellent sources of unstructured citations:

  • Sponsoring or participating in local events, organizations, teams, and causes
  • Hosting newsworthy happenings that get written up by local journalists
  • Holding contests and challenges that earn public mention
  • Joining local business organizations
  • Cross promoting with related local businesses
  • Getting featured/interviewed by online crafting magazines, fora, blogs, and videos

Read The Guide to Building Linked Unstructured Citations for Local SEO for more information.

Your social media presence

YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, crafting forums…choices abound! How much time and where you invest in social media should be determined by two things:

  • What your local competition is doing
  • Where your potential customers spend social time

If your shop is literally the only game in town, you may not need to win at social to win business, but if you have multiple competitors, strategic social media investments can set you apart as the most helpful, most popular local option.

In your social efforts, emphasize sharing, showing and telling — not just selling. If you keep this basic principle in mind, the DIY revolution is at your fingertips, waiting to be engaged. One thing I’ve learned about crafters is that they will travel. Quilting retreats, knitting tours, and major craft expos prove this.

If you or a staff member happen to create one of the most-viewed videos on YouTube for the three-needle bind off or crafting felt succulents, it could inspire travelers to put your shop on their bucket list. One of my favorite knitters in the world films the English/Swedish language Kammebornia podcast which is so idyllic, it would certainly inspire me to visit the island of Gotland if I were ever anywhere nearby. Think what you can do via social media to make your shop an aspirational destination for even non-local customers.

3. Abandon fear of ripping out mistakes (and negative reviews)

As the old adage goes, “Good knitters are good rippers.” When you drop a stitch in an important project, you have to know how to see it, patiently rip out stitches back to it, and correct the mistake as skillfully as you can. This exact same technique applies to managing the reviews customers leave you online. When your business “drops the ball” for a customer and disappoints them, you can often go back and correct the error.

Reviews = your business’ reputation. It’s as simple (and maybe scary) as that. Consider these statistics about the power of local business reviews:

  • 87% of consumers read local business reviews (BrightLocal)
  • 27% of people who look for local information are actually seeking reviews about a particular store. (Streetfight Mag)
  • 30% of consumers say seeing business owners’ responses to reviews are key to them judging the company. (BrightLocal)
  • 73.8 percent of customers are either likely or extremely likely to continue doing business with a brand that resolves their complaints. (GatherUp)

To be competitive, your craft store must earn reviews. Many business owners feel apprehensive about negative reviews, but the good news is:

  • You can “rip out” some negative reviews simply by responding well to them. The owner response function actually makes reviews conversational, and a customer you’ve made things right with can edit their initial review to a more positive one.
  • Most consumers expect a business to receive some negative reviews. Multiple surveys find that a perfect 5 star rating can look suspicious to shoppers.
  • If you continuously monitor reviews, either manually or via convenient software like Moz Local that alerts you to incoming reviews, there is little to fear, because customers are more forgiving than you might have thought.

For a complete tutorial, read How to Get a Customer to Edit Their Negative Review. And be sure you are always doing what’s necessary to earn positive reviews by delivering excellent customer service, keeping your online listings accurate, and proactively asking customers to review you on Google and other eligible platforms.

4. Craft what online can’t — 5 senses engagement

Consider these three telling statistics:

  • Over half of consumers prefer to shop in-store to interact with products. (Local Search Association)
  • 80% of U.S. disposable income is spent within 20 miles of home (Access Development)
  • By 2021, mobile devices alone will influence $1.4 trillion in local sales. (Forrester)

There may be no retailer left in America who hasn’t felt the Amazon effect, but as a craft shop owner, you have an amazing advantage so many other industries lack. Crafters want to touch textiles and fibers before buying, to hold fabrics up to their faces, to see true colors, and handle highly tactile merchandise like beads and wood. When it comes to fulfilling the five senses, online shopping is miles behind what you can provide face-to-face.

And it’s not just customers’ desire to interact with products that sets you apart — it’s their desire to interact with experts. As pattern designer Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction perfectly sums it up:

“To survive and thrive, brick-and-mortar stores must now provide experiences that cannot be replicated online.”

The expertise of your staff, the classes you hold, and tie-in services you offer, the sensory appeal of your storefront, the time you take to build relationships with customers all contribute to creating valued interactions which the Internet just can’t replace.

This advantage ties in deeply with the quality of your staff hiring and training practices. One respected survey found that 57% of customer complaints stem from employee behavior and poor service. Specifically in the crafting industry, staff who are expert with the materials being sold are worth their weight in gold. Be prepared to assist both seasoned crafters and the new generations of customers who are just now embracing the creative industries.

Play to your strengths. In every way that you market your business, emphasize hands-on experiences to draw people off their computers and into your store. In every ad you run, blog post you write, phone call you answer, listing you build, invite people to come in to engage all five senses at your place of business. Soft lighting and music, a tea kiosk, fragrant fresh flowers, some comfy chairs, and plenty of tactile merchandise are all within your reach, making shopping a pleasure which customers will want to enjoy again and again.

5. Learn to read your competitors’ patterns

Need to know: there are no #1 rankings on Google. Google customizes the search engine results they show to each person, based on where that person is physically located at the time they look something up on their phone or computer. You can walk or drive around your city, performing the identical search, and watch the rankings change in the:

Local Packs

Maps

Organic results

If you’re doing business in an area with few competitors, you may only need to be aware of one or two other companies. But when competition is more dense and diverse, or you operate multiple locations, the need for competitive analysis can grow exponentially. And for each potential customer, the set of businesses you’re competing with changes, based on that customer’s location. 

How can you visualize and strategize for this? You have two options:

  1. If competition is quite low, you can manually find your true local competitors with this tutorial. It includes a free spreadsheet for helping you figure out which businesses are ranking for your most desired searches for the customers nearest you. This is a basic, doable approach for very small businesses.
  2. If your environment is competitive or you are marketing a large, enterprise craft store brand, you can automate analysis with software. Local Market Analytics from Moz, for example, is designed to do all the work of finding true competitors for you. This groundbreaking product multi-samples searchers’ locations and helps you analyze your strongest and weakest markets. Currently, Local Market Analytics focuses on organic results, and it will soon include data on local pack results, too.

Once you’ve completed this first task, you have one more step ahead if you find that some of your competitors are outranking you. You’ll want to stack up your metrics against theirs to analyze why they are surpassing you. Good news: we’ve got another tutorial and free spreadsheet for this project! What emerges from the work is a pattern of strengths and weaknesses that signal why Google is ranking some businesses ahead of others.

Knowing who your competitors are and gathering metrics about why they may be outranking you is what empowers you to create a winning local search marketing strategy. Whether you find you need more reviews, a stronger website, or some other improvement, you’ll be working from data instead of making random guesses about how to grow your business.

6. Open your grab bag

Every craft store and craft fair has its grab bags, and who can resist them? I’d like to close out this article by spilling a trove of marketing goodies into your hands. Sort through them and see if there’s a fresh idea in here that could really work for your business to take it to the next level.

  • Be more! This year, Michaels has partnered with UPS at 1,100 locations in a convenience experiment. You run a craft store, but could it be more? Is there something lacking in your local market that your shop could double as? A meeting house, a lending library, an adult classroom, a tea shop, a Wi-Fi spot, a holiday boutique, a place for live music?
  • Tie in! Your quilt shop can support apparel sewers with a few extra solids, textiles, and some fun patterns. Your yarn shop can find a nook for needle arts. Your woodshop could offer wooden needles for knitting and crochet, wooden hoops for embroidery, wood buttons, stamps, and a variety of wood boxes for crafters. You may sell everything needed for beading jewelry, but do you have the necessary supplies to bead clothing? Crafters are hungry for local resources for every kind of project, especially in rural areas, suburbs, and other communities where there are few businesses.
  • Teach! There are so many arts and crafts that are incredibly challenging to learn without being shown, face-to-face. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a grandparent or parent to demo exactly how you do a long tail cast on or master the dovetail joint. If you want to sell merchandise, show how to use it. Look at JOANN, which just unveiled its new concept store in Columbus, Ohio, centered on a “Creators Studio”. One independent fabric shop near me devotes half its floorspace to classes for children — the next generation of customers!
  • Email! Don’t make the mistake of thinking email is old school. Statistics say that 47% of marketers point to email marketing as delivering the highest ROI and 69% of consumers prefer to receive local business communications via email. If you’re one of the 50% of small business owners who hasn’t yet taken the leap of creating an email newsletter, do it!
  • Survey! Don’t guess what to stock or how to do business. Directly ask your customers via email, social media, and in-store surveys what they really want. I’ve seen businesses abandon scented products because they found they were deterring migraine-prone shoppers. I’ve seen others implement special ordering services to source hard-to-access items in-store instead of letting consumer drift away to the online world. Giving the customer what they want is the absolute key to your store’s success.
  • Go green! Whether it’s powering your shop with solar, supporting upcycling crafts, or stocking organic and sustainable inventory, embrace and promote every green practice you can engage in. Numerous studies cite the younger generations as being particularly defined by responsible consumption. Demonstrate solidarity with their aspirations in the way you operate and market.

Doers, makers, creators, crafters, artisans, artists… your business exists to support their drive to embellish personal and public life. When you need to grow your business, you’ll be drawing from the same source of inspiration that all creative people do: the ability to imagine, to envision a plan, to color outside the lines, to gather the materials you need to make something great.

Local search marketing is a template for ensuring that your business is ready to serve every crafter at every stage of their journey, from the first spark of an idea, to discovery of local resources, to transaction, and beyond. I hope you’ll take the template I’ve sketched out for you today and make it your own for a truly rewarding 2020.

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!

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The many faces of marketing

Our key learnings from the Product Marketing Summit – and what you can learn, too

We caught up Juliette Aiken, Victoria Dovey, and Julia Neuhold, to find out more about:

  • the role of the product marketer
  • why it’s an up-and-coming function in businesses around the world
  • and what takeaways you can apply to your role, regardless of the marketing prefix your job title bears.

1. Firstly, tell us a bit about what product marketers do. Does it differ from regular marketing?

Juliette:

Product marketers work at the intersection between product and marketing, but also sales. We work closely with the product management team in creating successful products that sales teams enjoy selling and customers love using. dotdigital started as a pure-play ESP 20(!) years ago. With the launch of our campaign orchestration tool, we evolved into a marketing automation platform. When I joined the business, automation adoption was under 20%; just last week we found that more than 80% of our customer base now adopted automation! Since then, we’ve added a host of channels and smart functionality and have advanced further into the Customer Engagement space. MarTech is always evolving, as are the expectations of the marketer, and so as you can imagine, a lot of our time goes into making sure we get the product messaging and positioning right. We need to ensure people know what value they can get from our platform.

As for whether it differs from regular marketing, it depends. Ultimately, there is much overlap between the goals of marketers and product marketers, the process and how you get there is what tends to differ. Although saying that, many marketers already fulfill product marketing functions, they just don’t get called out as such. It’s a mixed bag really.

Victoria:

Externally, product marketers communicate a product offering to customers. Internally, they act as a translation and communication team for the product team to other departments. One key area that is, however, often overlooked is that both of these functions also work in reverse as we feed back to the wider product team from all the people inside and outside the business we speak to in our roles.

Stakeholder management is a big part of it, keeping them informed and having the facts and figures in your back pocket to justify roadmap items, proving value to both the business and customers. Because they operate in such a multi-disciplinarian manner, product marketers need to be skilled in strategy, creativity, and also people management. I think that’s one of the reasons why product marketing is growing so quickly, because it brings the business together whilst also allowing it to move to new places.

Julia:

One thing I will say is that product marketing at dotdigital is never dull. We are part of the product team, but we sit in on meetings with sales and marketing, and work closely with a number of customer-facing teams. As a product marketer, you’re different things to different people, which requires quite a diverse skillset – the key one being communication. I particularly enjoy how we are asked to combine creativity and analytical skills to solve problems and keep everyone looking forward. The Product Marketing Alliance just released the State of Product Marketing Report 2019, which is worth checking out it you’re interested in product marketing goals, responsibilities, and so on.

2. So there’s definitely an overlap with marketing! Was this reflected in the attendance of the Product Marketing Summit last week?

Victoria:

There are loads of transferable skills between us, and we work a lot of the same space. We communicate directly with customers working with the marketing department on campaigns and the marketing website, and work together on content and event ideas. 

Julia:

The summit was attended mostly by product marketer execs and managers like us, but there were also some growth marketers and growth product managers who share very similar goals as us. Ultimately, we’re all working towards increasing platform and feature adoption. 

3. Was there a common thread across the talks?

Juliette:

Many of the topics discussed on the day can be brought back to the same central theme: communication. What you say, how you say it, and even when you say something can have an effect on the impact and success of your message. As marketers we have to think whether something is a marketing message, or an operational one, and so on. Whilst defining these is important from a legal or industry guideline standpoint, customers don’t see it that way. They expect the same familiar, relevant experience whether you’re sending a BAU marketing email versus an update on their last order. So really, I think a lot of attendees came away with the message that all communications count as touchpoints and that they should strive for consistency between them – regardless of who ‘owns’ that channel.

Julia:

The biggest recurring theme for me was the idea that we’re not just selling a product, we’re selling a solution to a problem, and to do that, you need empathy. If you just focus on the product, you’ll end up with an all-singing- all-dancing end result that appeals to no one, precisely because it’s trying to appeal to everyone. But if you focus just on the customer and ignore the product, you can end up in a space wildly different from your actual value proposition, making you again appeal to no one. Pain points should be front and center to value propositions; but rather than trying to please everyone, you need to get to the bottom of what it is they want to achieve, and find a solution that might be different from what they were expecting.

4. What communication trends are you interested in at the moment?

Victoria:

We’ve discussed how important it is to get to know your customer, and one of the best ways to get to know their pain points is to make it easy for them to get in touch. Frictionless two-way communication is a big part of this. it applies to our own customer comms as well as the end customers of our platform users. Enabling replies to messages, whether they are emails, SMS, or web chats is crucial in improving brand-customer relationships; and improving those relationships is often the last battleground between you and your competitors. 

Julia:

I agree, and another way to improve upon these relationships is by building trust. Just like our personal relationships, customers require honesty and transparency in what they are getting. For your product or service, it helps to be direct with customers by removing jargon and marketing filler words – just be frank in what they are getting for their money!

For your communications, the GDPR of course requires you to have clear opt-in and opt-out processes. This means many businesses have been forced to focus on what us good marketers have known for years – providing something valuable in your content that the campaign audience will want to read or know about! But it also helps to set expectations from the start by breaking down what it is they’ll be receiving from you, how often, and giving them granular control of this so it’s not an all-or-nothing captive situation. At dotdigital, one of the ways we advocate for transparency is through our public roadmap. It’s something quite unique to us in our market space and allows customers to always know what our product team is working on.

Juliette:

One of the points raised at the Product Marketing Summit was around the voice of the customer – and who looks after it. In most businesses, many teams wear the ‘voice of the customer’ hat, and rightly so. They all have a part to play in collating feedback, all from different standpoints which makes it all the more valuable. It is however important that one team is in charge of synthesizing all this feedback, to ensure it gets distilled in a way that is meaningful and actionable. So whilst not an established (internal) communication trend yet, I hope this is something that will be recognized and gain more traction in 2020, both at dotdigital and other businesses.

5. And finally, what are your top three takeaways from the Product Marketing Summit that everyone could learn from?

Juliette:

The idea that the competition isn’t always who you think it is. Krishna Panicker, VP of Product at Pipedrive, delivered a great talk on this and relayed that during his time at Skype, no one even saw WhatsApp coming for them. As far as Skype was concerned, it delivered a desktop based voice-calling app, and newcomer WhatsApp was a mobile messaging app that was playing in an entirely different space. We all know what happened next.

Another frequently cited example of a company thinking of its competition differently is that of Netflix, and how sleep is their biggest competitor. 
The key takeaway here is if you focus solely on the product, you get more product – the only differentiator between you and a competitor becomes a checkbox. Panicker revisits the principle of minimum differentiation and urges us all to look for the ‘invisible slice of the pie’. 

It’s a timely message for us here at dotdigital as well, especially as we are in the middle of our annual Hackweek. During Hackweek the known macro-level pressures are put to one side, and the tech teams have a chance to focus on creative, innovative projects that will make a difference. The winning result is a highly original product, tool, or feature that enhances the marketer’s day job. Stay tuned for a blog in January to find out which idea won this year…

Victoria:

For me, it was mostly the idea of how much it benefits everyone to have product marketing in the room sooner. Because we are unique in working across so many different departments, we bring perspective that could sometimes go amiss. We know what’s coming with the product, and we know the history of decision-making that led to that advancement in the roadmap. Not only that, but we can take the knowledge and comments of other teams and feed that back into the product. This kind of knowledge sharing ultimately empowers everyone in the business. 

Julia:

Finally, I’d say that the role of sales enablement goes beyond what people typically perceive it to be. You’re essentially enabling any customer-facing team, to tell the right product stories in whatever context they find themselves in. And more importantly: this relationship goes two ways. At dotdigital, working closely with account managers and customer success allows us to regularly gather valuable customer feedback. In that same vein, it’s also our responsibility to enable the core marketing team to ensure there’s a coherent brand experience. This, combined with the fact that we wear so many hats, is why we encourage all staff members to come to us with anything they feel we can help with. And we would encourage you to do the same with your product marketing team!


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4 tactics to quickly engage all the new customers you just won

In last week’s blog, Sam and Ian, our data gurus, gave us some time to talk about how to read your data in dotdigital Engagement Cloud after a busy sales period like Black Friday. We’re continuing the series with some practical tactics to employ to keep those new customers you acquired engaged. After all, remember, a new customer can very quickly decay to an inactive persona that never spends with you again. Or… they are primed to become your biggest brand champions. Try some of these targeted marketing practices to make sure your new customers are seeing the best of what you have to offer.

1. Introduce your brand

Remember, these are new customers. You most likely caught them in an impulse moment (or what they thought was an impulse moment after weeks of clever nudging from your clever marketing teams ). They might not be at all that familiar with what your brand is all about or what products you offer (but more on this in tactic two). 

To build loyalty that lasts, be polite, just like grandma told you. Introduce yourselves, and put your best foot forward. Make sure this is not just another marketing email in their inboxes. Pack it with value for the new customer. If you’re planning to deliver educational content about your business, make sure it’s what they’re interested in and not just what you want them to know. Empathize with your customer by considering the materiel you like to receive when it comes to your favorite brands. If your brand resonates with your new customers, chances are, they’ll become repeat buyers and maybe even loyal fans.

Not so confident in the kind of content you could send? Currently lacking a brand story? Start by giving them a coupon campaign as a sweetener to stick around.

2. Product recommendations in emails and on site

They’ve bought one product from you already. What are the chances they won’t be interested in any other of the product range you have? It’s unlikely that there was only one product that resonated with them. It’s much more likely that your new customers just haven’t had a chance to look at your whole range yet. Make it easy for them. Bring a selection to them, by serving up product recommendations based on their own behavior or the behavior of shoppers just like them.

We don’t know about you, but here at the dotdigital offices, we all love it when we get beautiful, personalized emails delivered to our inbox, with a selection of goodies that are actually relevant to us. Especially when we get these emails on pay day! 

With Engagement Cloud, you can upsell complementary products (setting the price threshold as similar to what your new customer spent the first time around) in an email. Or surface on-site product recommendations, showcasing low-cost products you’d typically use to upsell (like batteries, screen protectors, or purses (depending on your product types of course), peppered between full-price products of your beautiful range. Don’t worry, we’ll talk you through all the amazing things you can do with product recommendations in Engagement Cloud in part three of this series.

3. Social re-targeting with audience connectors

You won that new customer. But maybe so did your competitors, having caught them in a spending spree at this busy shopping time of year. So what do you do to stand out against the competition? Expose your brand.

An old rule of marketing that has stood the test of time and proved itself time and time again is the rule of seven. The rule of seven says that it takes about seven times of being exposed to something, from an idea to a brand logo, for us to retain it long term. Sure, your new customer is not going to forget about the purchase they made with you last week. But what about in a few months’ time? How do you ensure your customer remembers you in the future enough to come back to your store?

Social re-targeting will be key here. Leverage the automation and insights of Engagement Cloud out to channels like Facebook and Google Ads to make sure you’re remembered. With audience connectors, you can sync Engagement Cloud contacts to your Facebook and Google Ad audiences. Start by syncing an entire segment to a new audience or maintain an existing one by adding contacts when they meet your predefined criteria. Audience connectors in program builder make it easy to upkeep your ad audiences and ensure optimal re-targeting campaign ROI. Easy peasy.

4. Empower new customers with a voice

Last, but by no means least, listen to what your new customers have to say. Perform a bit of data capture with them for both of your benefits. Give them control of their marketing preferences for optimal transparency, trust, and relevance. Send them surveys to find out what they want to hear about or what they want to see more of in your store. (You’ll find the tools to do all this and more in Engagement Cloud pages and forms by the way 😎).

You could consider providing a little incentive here for this exchange of information. Not only will make your new customers feel special, it will also provide you with more data, and ultimately, more power.


Not an Engagement Cloud user yet? Take a tour with our quick demo here.

Don’t forget, this is second of our three-part series in what to do after a surge in sales. Check out part one here, check back soon for part three, or sign up for blog updates and more here.

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