dotdigital Summit 2019: an interview with Vanessa Vallely OBE

Since 2008, Vanessa has been bestowing her business tips and advice on audiences – leaving them inspired and motivated. And, this year, she’ll be joining the amazing panel of speakers in our first-ever personal development track.

In anticipation of International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March, we could think of no one better to catch up with than Vanessa.

Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?

I grew up in Hackney, East London. I left school at
16 with an ambition to land myself a job in Banking in the city. Academically,
I didn’t do too well at school, as there were other things going on in my life
at the time. I managed to scrape a few C’s grades in terms of my GCSE’s, but it
certainly wasn’t reflective of what I could have got if things were different
and I would have been able to get my head down to study. I managed to get my
first job in a bank, which I subsequently lost after six months! At the time, I
thought the world was over! My early career taught me a lot of lessons from a
very early age, which on reflection was an invaluable education for the more
senior roles I would eventually go on to take. What followed was over 25
different job positions across nine financial organisations up to Chief Operating
Officer. I left the corporate world to pursue my passion to help to progress
the careers of women through my company, WeAreTheCity.  I am now CEO of two businesses, I sit on a
couple of boards and was recently awarded an OBE from Prince Charles for my services
to women and the economy.

What inspired you to get involved with gender equality and motivational speaking?

Definitely the lack of
women at senior levels within the organisations I worked for. I was often the
only woman at my organisations’ leadership table. Outside of my day job, in
2008, I set up WeAreTheCity to help women progress in their careers. It was
more of a hobby than a commercial business. I was frustrated as there was lots
of different activities going on for women who wanted to upskill but they were
spread all over the internet. I wanted to create a website that provided
resources and inspiration for women who were looking to progress. It was
actually my husband that pushed me to make WeAreTheCity a reality, as opposed
to a dream, as he bought me the website domain and built the website. We both
ran WeAreTheCity alongside our day jobs for six years before I finally plucked
up the courage to leave corporate and run WeAreTheCity full time. When I left,
we had a community of around 24,000 women and two corporate clients. Today we
have 120,000 members and we help over 120 companies to attract, retain and
develop female talent.

WeAreTheCity is now the one-stop-shop of information
and resources for professional women that I dreamed it would one day be. We
publish news that interests women and resources such as networks and events
where women can learn new skills. We also promote the activities of other
organisations who are running initiatives, programmes and events aiding female
progression and development.  Aside from
the website, we run over 15 learning events a year, two conferences for future
leaders
and technologists.
WeAreTheCity runs our annual Rising Star awards and TechWomen100
awards. We have a job board for clients
looking to attract female applicants, Gender Networks, which is a forum
and network for women running networks inside their firms, as well as a Careers Club
for women who want to really accelerate their career. We also generate various
different pieces of research each year, all focused on Gender.

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

Like many careers,
there were high’s like promotions and there were low’s, like being passed over
for promotion. I think the best and most scary experience was actually leaving
corporate.

I thought when I left corporate,
given 25 years of experience that I would naturally have all the skills I
needed to set up and run a successful business. 
I was wrong!  It has taken me a
good five years to feel comfortable about Vanessa as a leader of her own
business as opposed to Vanessa as a corporate worker.

The highlight has to be when my
accountant told me the business had started to make a profit! It makes all the
hard work, sweat and tears worthwhile.

Other highlights include seeing
our Rising Star and TechWomen100 awards go from strength to strength. To think
what we do at WeAreTheCity has contributed in some small way to their ongoing
success is a truly amazing feeling. 

 What do you think the audience will gain from your talk?

My talk will
definitely provide the audience with food for thought as to how they can drive
their own careers. Their success is not just down to their line managers, it
has to come from them. Aside from sharing my own story, I will also share the
five component things that I believe accelerated my career. We will cover the
imposter syndrome, personal brand, networking, their digital footprint and the
importance of mentors and sponsors.  It
will be fast paced given the 20 minutes, however I can guarantee they will
leave inspired.

What are 3 top tips for success?

  1. Network to get work
  2. Your personal brand matters – be wary of the behaviours you exhibit
  3. Your personal brand matters – be wary of the behaviours you exhibit

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?

I spent the first half
of my career convincing people to give me a chance. Often I didn’t have the
backstory they wanted, the accent, the academic qualifications etc.  It took a long time for my voice to be heard,
but I never gave up.  If you want
something in life, you have to work for it. 
You will need people around you to open up doors of opportunity (see
tips above) and above all be resilient and tenacious. Another challenge came
when I had children, I was wrapped up in a world of guilt of being ambitious
and also wanting to be the best mum I could be. I did what I thought was best
at the time, there is no book written that can guide you on that one. You have
to make your own decisions.  My kids
still talk to me, so it couldn’t have been that bad!

What influential female figures have been the most inspiring to you and your career?

I have many role models, Tamara
Box at Reed Smith and my own mentor, Lara Morgan, as I deeply admire her
tenacity and drive. From a tech perspective, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Professor
Sue Black OBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and Christina Scott, of News UK.  All of these are in senior tech roles and
continuously work to inspire other women. 
I also greatly admire Amanda McKenzie OBE, previous CMO at Aviva, was
heavily involved with WACL and now CEO at Business in the Community.  I have other women in what I like to call my
personal boardroom (see book by Zella King).  These are women I confide in on a weekly
basis, they know me, they get me and are not afraid to tell me if my idea won’t
work!

In your opinion, what is the largest barrier to women at work and how can it be overcome?

I have a bit of a thing about the
word barriers!  We can all say there are
barriers, things stopping us doing this, doing that etc, however it is how we
overcome our perceptions of those barriers that we need to focus on.  There are still a number of industries where
there are lots of women at the top, but no room for the next generations to
move in to their positions. These senior women should be clearing paths for
their future leaders and offering mentoring and sponsorship.  There are also a number of industries that
are still male dominated, and yes if the culture is stuck in the dark ages,
that can be hard.  However, if bad
behaviour is stopping you progressing, you need to call that out.   Often, and without generalising for every
woman, we are put off by a set of characteristics that we believe are needed
for certain roles.  We have to challenge
our thinking, disrupt the perception and take a risk.  We can bring our own unique style to any
role.  Sometimes the biggest barrier is
actually ourselves.  Ask yourself the
question, what is really holding me back! If it’s the firm you are in and its
culture, then make the move and go somewhere where your talents are both
appreciated and nurtured!

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

To just chill a little bit and
appreciate that things often take time. I was very ambitious when I was younger
and expected to climb mountains in months instead of years.  I would also advise myself not to beat myself
up to hard for the mistakes I made. These were not actually mistakes, they were
opportunities to learn and grow and that I wouldn’t always get things right!

And if you could meet any woman from history, who would it be?

It would have to be Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.


Spaces are limited! Don’t miss out on your chance to learn, grow and get inspired at this year’s dotdigital Summit. Get your tickets today.

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dotdigital Summit 2019: an interview with Cate Murden

Cate Murden PUSH

The complex and ever-changing world we live in isn’t only impacting our ability to engage with our customers, it’s also having a significant effect on our lives at work. As a result, stress and stress-related illnesses are hugely on the rise.

Cate Murden, founder of PUSH Body and Mind, has been
affected by this, just like so many of us. During her talk, Cate will be
breaking down the importance of putting yourself first, and sharing with you,
the tools she used to improve her energy levels and shift into a positive
mind-set.

We sat down with her to discover a little bit more.

Hi Cate, can you tell us a bit more about what PUSH is?

PUSH Mind
and Body is a business consultancy grounded in human behavior. We answer
business problems with people-focused solutions and, consequently, help people,
teams and companies to work better.

What made you decided to start this new business?

After a
16-year career in media, I was signed off with stress. Having survived this,
frankly, awful period, I realized that I wanted to help ensure that no one else
went through what had happened. And, so, the concept for PUSH was formed – from
a genuine desire to help busy professionals live and work better.

Can you tell us about a favorite moment from your career?

We
created and curated an event in August last year supporting mental health and
resilience in the workplace. It was an incredibly sunny day and we were in a
rooftop venue with four unbelievable speakers and over 150 guests. It was an
amazingly powerful moment – firstly in what we were starting to achieve with
our vision and mission and, secondly, how far we had come as a business.

What are the biggest work goals you’re currently working towards?

What we
really want is to help companies realize that their people are their most
unique differentiator and yet, currently, corporate culture is slowly breaking
them.

We HAVE
to change this before more of the unthinkable happens and, you know what? That
means more successful companies and happier people. It’s really not that hard.

During your talk building resilience in the 20th century – what do you think the audience will gain from your talk?

I really
hope people leave my talk realizing they’re the most important people in their
worlds. And, hopefully, I can give them some valuable advice in how to be the
very best they can be.

What are your three top tips for success?

  1. Get a coach
  2. Start everyday with exercise
  3. Never accept no

What has been your biggest challenge over the last year?

My own
brain

Who or what inspires you most?

My partner. He inspires me, challenges me and helps me grow (and regularly drives me nuts too).

If you could predict one thing for the future what would it be?

The
fallout from Brexit is going to be really sh*t for everyone.

What advice would you want to give to your younger self?

Stop f*cking worrying – it’s always okay in the end.


Join Cate Murden for her personal development breakout session at the dotdigital Summit on Wednesday 20 March. Not got your tickets yet? Get them today.

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dotdigital Summit 2019: an interview with Richard Pacitti

As
part of our personal development track at the Summit this year, we will be
discussing many of these issues. Our speakers will be diving in deep and
showing us how to overcome and thrive in today’s complicated world.

We sat down with Richard Pacitti, Chief Executive of Mind in Croydon. Richard will be helping us embrace change and giving us the power to start meaningful conversations about mental health.

What do you think are the main things we need to think about when talking about mental health in the workplace?

It’s important that we understand a bit about mental health problems, and how we can notice them within ourselves and our colleagues. We need to understand simple things that we can do to create mentally healthy workplace and how we let our staff and colleagues know that it’s okay to talk about difficulties that they might be having.

What are your key tips on getting a healthy work/life balance?

The best thing you can do to make sure you’re getting a healthy work/life balance is to turn your work devices off when you’re not at work. The more you let work encroach on your private life, the less healthy the balance becomes.

What advice would give someone who is experiencing mental health problems, but cannot or does not want to talk about it to people at work?

Firstly, mental
health problems are really common. One in four people will experience a problem
at some time in their life. You might feel embarrassed or ashamed, but there is
absolutely no need to.

You might think that talking doesn’t help, but all the evidence points to the contrary – taking to other people can be really helpful. You’ll probably find that your employer will be understanding and very helpful. And don’t forget, you can always talk to people outside of work. Friends, family or even people you don’t know and have never met. There are so many helplines out there, designed precisely for that reason.

What would you like people to take away from your talk?

As well as some general information about mental health problems, I would like people to leave my session with a good understanding of how to promote good mental health, not just at work, but in life in general.

I
also want people to start thinking deeper about the role that technology plays both
at work, and in relation to our mental health and wellbeing. If you can make
yourself aware of its effect on you, you can act to stop it before it damages
your health.

Who or what inspires you most?

I get a lot of inspiration from great musician and songwriters, but I also find that just getting outside for a walk can inspire me. Especially near big, green spaces. I find that very inspirational.

If you could predict one thing for the future what would it be?

It’s less of a prediction, and more of a hope. If we’re going to remain sane, we need to spend more time with real people, and real things, and less time connected to our gadgets.

What piece of advice to your younger self?

Have the courage of your convictions.


Join Richard Pacitti for his personal development breakout session at the dotdigital Summit on Wednesday 20 March. Not got your tickets yet? Get them today.

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dotdigital Summit 2019: an interview with Adam Baylis

Adam Baylis

At the dotdigital
Summit 2019, we’ll be hosting breakout sessions hearing from Marketers who are
blowing us away with their outstanding customer engagements, including Adam
Baylis, Group CRM & Insights Manager at The Jockey Club.

We sat down with Adam to get an exclusive insight into how they’re listening to customers and talking to them on channels that resonate.

Adam, can you give us some background about The Jockey Club and your role?

The Jockey Club,
established in 1750, stages thrilling sporting occasions including the Randox
Health Grand National, The Cheltenham Festival presented by Magners and The
Investec Derby.

As one of the UK’s
leading leisure companies we also play host to some of the biggest names in
music at our The Jockey Club Live events. This year we’re looking forward to
welcoming the likes of Madness, Jess Glynne and – rather appropriately – dotdigital
Summit headline speaker, Nile Rodgers.

My role as Group CRM & Insights Manager sits within the wider Group Marketing team at The Jockey Club. We support the marketing teams in each of the four ‘regions’ that encompass our 15 racecourses.

What has been your biggest challenge over the past year?

Outdoor events are
a massive part of the tourism, hospitality and leisure industry. Going to the
races is usually a big part of that for a lot of people. It’s a chance to get
outside, get some sunshine and generally have some fun.

But, with the
never-ending heatwave last year, and the unexpected success of the England
football team in the FIFA World Cup, we found ourselves facing some stiff
competition for people’s time.

This was a challenge
for the whole of the tourism, hospitality and leisure industry, not just us at
The Jockey Club.

The knock-on effect
of this was that, as summer drew to a close, we had to discover new ways to
connect and engage with our customers again.

How did you go about overcoming this challenge?

With 15 courses
around the country, we needed to make sure we weren’t adopting a
‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. We needed to apply our group tone-of-voice in an
appropriate manner in order to reconnect with our audience, particularly the
local communities near to our courses.  

This is especially important
for us, because in a single region, like the North-West, we have three courses
– Aintree, Carlisle and Haydock – which are all about three hours apart. There
isn’t as big an overlap among their audiences as we see at some of our London
courses – so maintaining strong relationships with our local communities is vital.

We knew we needed
to find a new, powerful channel that could deliver close and personal messages.

What do you think customers will gain from your talk?

I hope people leave
my talk excited to try the new channels that are ready and waiting for
marketers to tap into.

I think it’s really
important that we try and experiment with different channels to discover what
works for different audiences.

With the complexity
of the modern world there is a vital need for marketers to be nimble. We’re
never talking to one single audience. Every audience has groups within it that
will respond in different ways to different channels. For example, for us, the audiences
at Haydock racecourse responded really strongly to SMS.

If someone’s main
touchpoint with your brand is through your app, then speak to them on your app.
If they interact with your SMS, talk to them there.

We’ve worked hard
to understand our audiences and discover more effective and dynamic ways to
engage them and I hope people leave my session planning to do the same.

What are your plans for the future?

We go into
everything we do open to every opportunity.

One thing that we will
continue to be committed to is understanding what works for audiences. Today,
there are so many channels, that connections are made on an individual level.
What channels work best can’t be narrowed down to demographics or age ranges,
and this is what we plan to explore in the future.

At this point, it is impossible to get away from mobile messaging. It’s just sitting there, in the customers pocket. We need to figure out which channels work and target those segments accordingly. Whether that’s SMS, WhatsApp, or push, it’s all about going where the customer wants you.


Join Adam Baylis for his breakout session at the dotdigital Summit on Wednesday 20 March. Not got your tickets yet? Get them today.

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dotdigital Summit 2019: an interview with Mark Roberts

Ahead of the 2019 dotdigital Summit, we sat down with Mark Roberts, co-founder of Beer Hawk. Leading the charge of our ‘brilliant fundamentals’ breakout sessions, we wanted to know a little bit more about Mark, where he’s come from and get a little insight into the wisdom he’ll be sharing at the Summit.

Mark Roberts, Co-founder of Beer Hawk

So, you and Chris France founded Beer Hawk around 6 years ago, what were you doing before then?

After I graduated in 2000, I joined the Grad team
at Procter & Gamble. After working there in various sales & marketing
roles for 5 years, I moved into consultancy where I specialized in marketing
and innovation, advising brands such as Coca-Cola and Kimberly Clark, before
moving into the finance industry around the time of the financial crisis. Great
timing! During my time at HBOS and then Lloyds Banking Group, I was involved in
a number of different areas including innovation, existing customers and customer
marketing.

It was during my time as Marketing Director at Laithwaite’s Wine that I got the inspiration to start Beer Hawk. Not satisfied with the beer offerings of the supermarkets, there was a growing demand for unknown and undiscovered craft beer brands. With so many small, amazing craft breweries out there, I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a similar offering to Laithwaites, but for beer drinkers. So that’s what I did.

And why were you interested in marketing in the first place?

My interest in marketing is two-fold. Generally,
I’ve always been interested in psychology and in particular the psychology
behind consumer behavior. The other side that really interests me is the way great
consumer brands make things, especially the new and adaptive ways they innovate.

Could you explain what your job entails?

It’s a good question, as one of the things I like
to do is continually try to make myself redundant, by hiring better people than
me!  I always find up with something new
to do!  At Beer Hawk, I now look after
all our Marketing, B2B Sales, Product, Tech and Finance.  My business partner, Chris, looks after our
Customer Service, Operations and Buying teams. On a day to day basis, I really
spend my time thinking about our People, how are team is working, and the big
strategic things that we need to do differently.

Do you have a favorite experience from your career so far, I know you’ve won quite a few awards so that might be quite difficult for you to choose?

It is. It’s a really difficult question, but if I
had to choose something, it would be the moment someone really credible
promoted our brand for the first time.

In six weeks, Chris and I had taken Beer Hawk from
an idea, to a fully functioning website selling craft beers from around the
world. We were using social media, door drops and visiting product fairs to
spread the word about our new business. We were doing well, but we knew we
needed someone with a significant customer base to give us a much-needed boost.

And that was when we signed a deal with East Coast
Main Line trains (now LNER). As part of their rewards scheme, the train line
offered deals and discounts to customers who racked up points with every
journey – and Beer Hawk was now part of it.

I still remember the day they announced that we
were part of their rewards scheme. Chris and I had sold our cars to finance the
business, so we were walking back home from our (very small!) office. At this
time, we were still getting personal notifications every time an order was
placed, and we were lucky to get ten of these a day. So, you can imagine our
surprise when our phones started going crazy in our pockets.

East Coast’s email had gone out, and orders were
flooding in. Our feelings quickly changed from “cool, new orders”, to elation,
before dropping to dread. There were too many orders! How were we supposed to
fulfil these orders? Would we even be able to?!

We didn’t have enough beer, packaging or people. But that wasn’t going to stop us, because if that moment showed us anything, it was that we were really onto something. We were offering something that people really wanted.

What are your biggest work goals currently?

The accelerated speed of Beer Hawk has massively
increased the complexity of the environs we’re working in. Our customers are
very different, there’s no single persona we can tailor our marketing to. We
don’t just sell craft beers, but we offer gifts, homebrew kits, and draft beer
appliances. We’re operating in the B2C, B2B markets and we’re planning on
opening our first omnichannel bar experience. And our rapid growth has led to
our workforce expanding and becoming increasingly diverse and varied.

I want the audience to leave our talk understanding that it’s still possible to grow and expand, no matter the complexities. I want them to leave thinking, not of the struggle complexity presents, but the amazing opportunities it holds in store and the amazing innovations just waiting to be discovered.

What are 3 top tips for success?

  1. Know what you want to do. Have a clear purpose and goals about something your passionate about, because it would be rubbish to be successful in something you’re not passionate about.
  2. Surround yourself with brilliant people. Better yet, surround yourself with brilliant people who compliment your strengths, and, more importantly, your weaknesses. Teamwork is everything behind success. Nobody is perfect, and you will need people who challenge you if you really want to be successful.
  3. Belief. Have massive belief in yourself, in your team and in what you’re doing. Success is never simple; the road is never smooth. You will experience so many setbacks and moments where you will feel like you can’t do it, that, without belief and belief in what you do, you never will.

What has been your biggest challenge over the last year?

Beer Hawk is still an incredibly young business,
and over the past year, we’ve been experiencing some specific growing pains
about being such a fast-growing business.

Our first employee joined the company 5 years ago. Our latest employee joined 5 weeks ago. We now have over 80 employees and continue to expand. Making sure everyone knew what they were doing, and how to communicate across teams is essential. For a long time, we had just enough processes in place to stop from falling over. Managing these growing pains was one of our biggest challenges over the last year.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell myself to start earlier, younger. I always knew that I wanted to start my own business, but I held myself back for years. I would tell myself to go into the ‘doing’ stage sooner.  

And finally, we have to know, what is your favorite beer?

Well, that all depends on where I am, what mood I’m
in and what time of year it is!

My favorite ever beer would probably be a Scheider Weisse Eisbock, sat in the amazing Schneider Brauhaus in Munich. But that’s not a beer I would enjoy on a hot summer’s day. For that I would probably prefer a cold, crisp IPA, like a Goose Island.


Join Mark Roberts for his breakout session at the dotdigital Summit on Wednesday 20 March. Not got your tickets yet?

Get them now.

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How to Boost Bookings & Conversions with Google Posts: An Interview with Joel Headley

Posted by MiriamEllis

Have you been exploring all the ways you might use Google Posts to set and meet brand goals?

Chances are good you’ve heard of Google Posts by now: the micro-blogging Google My Business dashboard feature which instantly populates content to your Knowledge Panel and individual listing. We’re still only months into the release of this fascinating capability, use of which is theorized as having a potential impact on local pack rankings. When I recently listened to Joel Headley describing his incredibly creative use of Google Posts to increase healthcare provider bookings, it’s something I was excited to share with the Moz community here.


Joel Headley

Joel Headley worked for over a decade on local and web search at Google. He’s now the Director of Local SEO and Marketing at healthcare practice growth platform PatientPop. He’s graciously agreed to chat with me about how his company increased appointment bookings by about 11% for thousands of customer listings via Google Posts.

How PatientPop used Google Posts to increase bookings by 11%

Miriam: So, Joel, Google offers a formal booking feature within their own product, but it isn’t always easy to participate in that program, and it keeps users within “Google’s walled garden” instead of guiding them to brand-controlled assets. As I recently learned, PatientPop innovated almost instantly when Google Posts was rolled out in 2017. Can you summarize for me what your company put together for your customers as a booking vehicle that didn’t depend on Google’s booking program?

Joel: PatientPop wants to provide patients an opportunity to make appointments directly with their healthcare provider. In that way, we’re a white label service. Google has had a handful of booking products. In a prior iteration, there was a simpler product that was powered by schema and microforms, which could have scaled to anyone willing to add the schema.

Today, they are putting their effort behind Reserve with Google, which requires a much deeper API integration. While PatientPop would be happy to provide more services on Google, Reserve with Google doesn’t yet allow most of our customers, according to their own policies. (However, the reservation service is marketed through Google My Business to those categories, which is a bit confusing.)

Additionally, when you open the booking widget, you see two logos: G Pay and the booking software provider. I’d love to see a product that allows the healthcare provider to be front and center in the entire process. A patient-doctor relationship is personal, and we’d like to emphasize you’re booking your doctor, not PatientPop.

Because we can’t get the CTAs unique to Reserve with Google, we realized that Google Posts can be a great vehicle for us to essentially get the same result.

When Google Posts first launched, I tested a handful of practices. The interaction rate was low compared to other elements in the Google listing. But, given there was incremental gain in traffic, it seemed worthwhile, if we could scale the product. It seemed like a handy way to provide scheduling with Google without having to go through the hoops of the Maps Booking (reserve with) API.

Miriam: Makes sense! Now, I’ve created a fictitious example of what it looks like to use Google Posts to prompt bookings, following your recommendations to use a simple color as the image background and to make the image text quite visible. Does this look similar to what PatientPop is doing for its customers and can you provide recommendations for the image size and font size you’ve seen work best?

Joel: Yes, that’s pretty similar to the types of Posts we’re submitting to our customer listings. I tested a handful of image types, ones with providers, some with no text, and the less busy image with actionable text is what performed the best. I noticed that making the image look more like a button, with button-like text, improved click-through rates too — CTR doubled compared to images with no text.

The image size we use is 750×750 with 48-point font size. If one uses the API, the image must be square cropped when creating the post. Otherwise, Posts using the Google My Business interface will give you an option to crop. The only issue I have with the published version of the image: the cropping is uneven — sometimes it is center-cropped, but other times, the bottom is cut off. That makes it hard to predict when on-image text will appear. But we keep it in the center which generally works pretty well.

Miriam: And, when clicked on, the Google Post takes the user to the client’s own website, where PatientPop software is being used to manage appointments — is that right?

Joel: Yes, the site is built by PatientPop. When selecting Book, the patient is taken directly to the provider’s site where the booking widget is opened and an appointment can be selected from a calendar. These appointments can be synced back to the practice’s electronic records system.

Miriam: Very tidy! As I understand it, PatientPop manages thousands of client listings, necessitating the need to automate this use of Google Posts. Without giving any secrets away, can you share a link to the API you used and explain how you templatized the process of creating Posts at scale?

Joel: Sure! We were waiting for Google to provide Posts via the Google My Business API, because we wanted to scale. While I had a bit of a heads-up that the API was coming — Google shared this feature with their GMB Top Contributor group — we still had to wait for it to launch to see the documentation and try it out. So, when the launch announcement went out on October 11, with just a few developers, we were able to implement the solution for all of our practices the next evening. It was a fun, quick win for us, though it was a bit of a long day. 🙂

In order to get something out that quickly, we created templates that could use information from the listing itself like the business name, category, and location. That way, we were able to create a stand-alone Python script that grabbed listings from Google. When getting the listings, all the listing content comes along with it, including name, address, and category. These values are taken directly from the listing to create Posts and then are submitted to Google. We host the images on AWS and reuse them by submitting the image URL with the post. It’s a Python script which runs as a cron job on a regular schedule. If you’re new to the API, the real tricky part is authentication, but the GMB community can help answer questions there.

Miriam: Really admirable implementation! One question: Google Posts expire after 7 days unless they are events, so are you basically automating re-posting of the booking feature for each listing every seven days?

Joel: We create Posts every seven days for all our practices. That way, we can mix up the content and images used on any given practice. We’re also adding a second weekly post for practices that offer aesthetic services. We’ll be launching more Posts for specific practice types going forward, too.

Miriam: Now for the most exciting part, Joel! What can you tell me about the increase in appointments this use of Google Posts has delivered for your customers? And, can you also please explain what parameters and products you are using to track this growth?

Joel: To track clicks from listings on Google, we use UTM parameters. We can then track the authority page, the services (menu) URL, the appointment URL, and the Posts URL.

When I first did this analysis, I looked at the average of the last three weeks of appointments compared to the 4 days after launch. Over that period, I saw nearly an 8% increase in online bookings. I’ve since included the entire first week of launch. It shows an 11% average increase in online bookings.

Additionally, because we’re tracking each URL in the knowledge panel separately, I can confidently say there’s no cannibalization of clicks from other URLs as a result of adding Posts. While authority page CTR remained steady, services lost over 10% of the clicks and appointment URLs gained 10%. That indicates to me that not only are the Posts effective in driving appointments through the Posts CTA, it emphasizes the existing appointment CTA too. This was in the context of no additional product changes on our side.

Miriam: Right, so, some of our readers will be using Google’s Local Business URLs (frequently used for linking to menus) to add an “Appointments” link. One of the most exciting takeaways from your implementation is that using Google Posts to support bookings didn’t steal attention away from the appointment link, which appears higher up in the Knowledge Panel. Can you explain why you feel the Google Posts clicks have been additive instead of subtractive?

Joel: The “make appointment” link gets a higher CTR than Posts, so it shouldn’t be ignored. However, since
Posts include an image, I suspect it might be attracting a different kind of user, which is more primed to interact with images. And because we’re so specific on the type of interaction we want (appointment booking), both with the CTA and the image, it seems to convert well. And, as I stated above, it seems to help the appointment URLs too.

Miriam: I was honestly so impressed with your creativity in this, Joel. It’s just brilliant to look at something as simple as this little bit of Google screen real estate and ask, “Now, how could I use this to maximum effect?” Google Posts enables business owners to include links labeled Book, Order Online, Buy, Learn More, Sign Up, and Get Offer. The “Book” feature is obviously an ideal match for your company’s health care provider clients, but given your obvious talent for thinking outside the box, would you have any creative suggestions for other types of business models using the other pre-set link options?

Joel: I’m really excited about the events feature, actually. Because you can create a long-lived post while adding a sense of urgency by leveraging a time-bound context. Events can include limited-time offers, like a sale on a particular product, or signups for a newsletter that will include a coupon code. You can use all the link labels you’ve listed above for any given event. And, I think using the image-as-button philosophy can really drive results. I’d like to see an image with text Use coupon code XYZ546 now! with the Get Offer button. I imagine many business types, especially retail, can highlight their limited time deals without paying other companies to advertise your coupons and deals via Posts.

Miriam: Agreed, Joel, there are some really exciting opportunities for creative use here. Thank you so much for the inspiring knowledge you’ve shared with our community today!


Ready to get the most from Google Posts?

Reviews can be a challenge to manage. Google Q&A may be a mixed blessing. But as far as I can see, Posts are an unalloyed gift from Google. Here’s all you have to do to get started using them right now for a single location of your business:

  • Log into your Google My Business dashboard and click the “Posts” tab in the left menu.
  • Determine which of the options, labeled “Buttons,” is the right fit for your business. It could be “Book,” or it could be something else, like “Sign up” or “Buy.” Click the “Add a Button” option in the Google Posts wizard. Be sure the URL you enter includes a UTM parameter for tracking purposes.
  • Upload a 750×750 image. Joel recommends using a simple-colored background and highly visible 42-point font size for turning this image into a CTA button-style graphic. You may need to experiment with cropping the image.
  • Alternatively, you can create an event, which will cause your post to stay live through the date of the event.
  • Text has a minimum 100-character and maximum 300-character limit. I recommend writing something that would entice users to click to get beyond the cut-off point, especially because it appears to me that there are different display lengths on different devices. It’s also a good idea to bear in mind that Google Posts are indexed content. Initial testing is revealing that simply utilizing Posts may improve local pack rankings, but there is also an interesting hypothesis that they are a candidate for long-tail keyword optimization experiments. According to Mike Blumenthal:

“…If there are very long-tail phrases, where the ability to increase relevance isn’t up against so many headwinds, then this is a signal that Google might recognize and help lift the boat for that long-tail phrase. My experience with it was it didn’t work well on head phrases, and it may require some amount of interaction for it to really work well. In other words, I’m not sure just the phrase itself but the phrase with click-throughs on the Posts might be the actual trigger to this. It’s not totally clear yet.”

  • You can preview your post before you hit the publish button.
  • Your post will stay live for 7 days. After that, it will be time to post a new one.
  • If you need to implement at scale across multiple listings, re-read Joel’s description of the API and programming PatientPop is utilizing. It will take some doing, but an 11% increase in appointments may well make it worth the investment! And obviously, if you happen to be marketing health care providers, checking out PatientPop’s ready-made solution would be smart.

Nobody likes a ball-hog

I’m watching the development of Google Posts with rapt interest. Right now, they reside on Knowledge Panels and listings, but given that they are indexed, it’s not impossible that they could eventually end up in the organic SERPs. Whether or not that ever happens, what we have right now in this feature is something that offers instant publication to the consumer public in return for very modest effort.

Perhaps even more importantly, Posts offer a way to bring users from Google to your own website, where you have full control of messaging. That single accomplishment is becoming increasingly difficult as rich-feature SERPs (and even single results) keep searchers Google-bound. I wonder if school kids still shout “ball-hog” when a classmate refuses to relinquish ball control and be a team player. For now, for local businesses, Google Posts could be a precious chance for your brand to handle the ball.

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Reblogged 1 year ago from tracking.feedpress.it

An interview with the author of Hitting the Mark 2017

Hitting the Mark 2017, our biggest and best email marketing benchmark report to date, is hot off the press! An in-depth analysis of 100 retail brands’ email practice, this report is the go-to for marketers looking to inform and inspire their strategy.

Now that the author, our Content Manager and wordsmith wizard, Ross Barnard, is back from some much-needed Hitting the Mark R&R, I asked him what it was like to construct a report so meaty it has its own serving suggestions.

Ross, we’ve heard a rumor that HTM100 totted up over 70,000 words – that’s a lot of copy! Why do you think there’s appetite for an email marketing benchmarking report of this size and stature?

Yes, it really is a beast of a document. I’m surprised I have enough words left in me to do this interview!

This was the eighth Hitting the Mark that dotmailer has published – and it’s certainly the biggest. In 2017, we wanted to introduce a bigger sample of brands to give marketers a broader view of the email marketing tactics being used by retailers. I think it’s important to not only present the common trends and observations from the research, but also to provide deep-dives into each brand; this is the best way to enable companies to learn from the best (and the worst!)

There’s some huge household names quite far down the scoreboard in HTM100. Were you surprised at the failures made by some of the bigger brands? Why do you think that was? (Sorry, that’s two questions in one!)

I was surprised to see some well-known brands coming in the bottom 50 for sure. There must be a good reason for this – i.e. they generate enough revenue from other avenues, meaning email is not a priority. However, I believe email has a place in every organization and this was certainly demonstrated by the top 10 brands. I think some of the digital content providers (e.g. those selling music, films, books etc.) can definitely learn something from the likes of Netflix; email automation and personalization lends itself perfectly to these types of companies that have access to a wealth of rich customer data.

This year’s report goes beyond the email to evaluate aspects of brands’ ecommerce experience. Why?

That big buzzword that’s been loitering around for the last couple of years: customer experience. We recognize that today, brands are having to mold themselves around the consumer; there’s a growing number of channels and touch-points to keep up with, and it’s interesting to measure how retailers are performing in this area. Needless to say, I was not surprised that UK department store John Lewis led the way.

Can you sum up this year’s HTM100 in 3 words?

  • Hefty (you could probably knock someone out with it)
  • Comprehensive
  • Unmissable (if you’re an ecommerce email marketer)

The physical copy of the report has a whole host of alternative uses. So far in the office we’ve heard: pillow, deadlift weight and tent peg mallet. What’s your favorite alternative use for HTM100?

I think it makes for a great height-raising laptop stand (especially if you’re a marketer, because you’ll want to keep it close by).

Want to find out where brands like Asos, John Lewis, and Google Play came in our email marketing benchmark report? Download Hitting the Mark 2017.

Just had lunch but still have room for a bite-size snack? Download our infographic version.

The post An interview with the author of Hitting the Mark 2017 appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com

[INTERVIEW] Tink Taylor speaks at Indonesia’s first Meet Magento conference

In your own words, what is Meet Magento all about?

Meet Magento is a global not for profit phenomena. It pulls together the various elements of the community, which includes merchants, technology providers and agencies, right through to system integrators. Because of the love for Magento in the wider ecommerce world, these kinds of meet-ups have been put together over a number of years and they’ve really grown traction.

It’s fantastic to see Magento, now that it’s an independent organization, being able to attend and   augment this community of events. It was really good to be there with Ben Marks, Magento’s Product Evangelist and other speakers including Mike Doyle, Magento’s Enterprise Sales Manager for South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

We’ve attended and spoken at various other Meet Magento events globally – including London, New York who we have hosted in our dotmailer offices and most recently Sydney. And as we expand our global remit, and Magento does too, then our attention turns to Asia. As one of Magento’s Premier partners, it’s important for us to work closely with the team, particularly as they look to expand their operations into the region.

For instance, I’m going to be speaking at one of Meet Magento’s next events in Vietnam run by Smart OSC  and they’re expecting something like 500-1,000 attendees! Shortly followed my Magentocom session in Shanghai China, run by Bluecom. The event in Jakarta, which was hosted by ICUBE, attracted around 300 delegates – even national TV broadcasters and finance ministers came along.

Why do you think Indonesia presents a big opportunity for ecommerce success?

While I was at the event, there was one statistic I heard during Acommerce’s presentation that really stood out for me. A lot of ecommerce is done out of Indonesia, into South-East Asia, and what strikes me is the huge opportunity. The size of South-East Asia in terms of ecommerce possibility is that it’s twice the size of the United States, and the third-largest combined economy in the world – behind China and India.

Tink and the Meet Magento speaker line-up

What did you speak about at Meet Magento and why?

I spoke about the 10 revenue-driving email programs for merchants. Simply, this is the number one piece of content that resonates around the world – including in the states, in the UK and in Australia.

When a retailer is buying a piece of software, they often have so many different requirements in their RFP document. But when they finally make their purchase and get the platform, they don’t know where to start or what to do with it! It’s a bit like getting writer’s block.

The 10 email programs guide gives online retailers a real starting point, because it highlights the top programs that are proven to make revenue and bring ROI. If you don’t begin with these, you’re effectively leaving money on the table. What’s more, they’re all simple to set up in our platform because it’s so easy to use, unlike some of our competitors. But if you haven’t got the time or inclination to set them up, we can offer it as a service or use one of our local partners who are fully trained.

Once online retailers have implemented those, we’re here to talk to them about their business and help them identify other automations that could make sense.

Who did you meet at the event?

As I mentioned earlier, the mixture of people at Meet Magento included Magento users, tech partners, solution partners, Magento themselves and, of course, retailers.

It was really good to meet some of the solution partners we’ve been in discussions with; it’s always much nicer to speak to people face-to-face and engage with the senior executives. It was also encouraging to speak to smaller yet growing retailers who’ve been doing the basics of ecommerce and email, and are now ready to take the next leap. Naturally, the logical move would be for them to consider dotmailer and Magento 2.

There were lots of technical integrators in attendance, who wire products together, which was really interesting. They were keen to speak to us because of dotmailer’s email automation tools and the level of sophistication we offer.

We’ve also got conversations going on with several new partners and we’re in the process of signing them up.

What were the three most interesting things you heard or learnt at #MM16?

  • The size of the ecommerce market and consequently the opportunities
  • The expected penetration of mobile devices is significantly higher in Asia than in other areas of the world
  • A shift in readiness of merchants who are set to adopt Magento 2 – and now we’re on 2.1, and almost 2.2, people are more comfortable and confident

What’s next? Tink will be speaking at Shop.org Dallas at our partner Absolunet’s event and then again at Meet Magento Vietnam next month. He’ll also be attending Dreamforce in early October as well as a number of other events. Keep your eyes peeled on the blog for updates.

Reblogged 2 years ago from blog.dotmailer.com