Anna Smith's Posts (809)

  • SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1b2TUU1, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that should be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • Marketing Automation Technology Overview

    No search marketing campaign can guarantee a 100% purchase rate. Simply put, many visitors just aren’t ready to buy… yet. Marketing automation technology and best practices close that gap, turning every website visitor into a lead to be loved and nurtured.

    As marketing best practices have evolved over the years, so has modern marketing automation. Today, consumers make decisions on their own terms and expect marketing messages to be relevant both to their interests and where they are in the buying process. Delivering the wrong message at the wrong time is both annoying and a waste of $$. The marketing climate has been moving in this direction for many years. From the dawn of radio and television, consumer choice has increased and marketers have been forced to continually refine their messaging tactics. You might even say that the recent explosion of marketing automation is the dawn of a new era that has been a long time coming! And by utilizing the right marketing automation solution and implementing some best practices, you can put these new trends to work for you. We created this infographic to provide a visual interpretation of the evolution of modern marketing. Learn how advances in radio, television, the internet, social media, and the arrival of marketing automation technology have paved the way for modern marketing as we know it today.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1bWuWcY, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that should be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • Make a Customer, Not a Sale!

    As ecommerce business owners, we tend to think in terms of policies, inventory, and operations. But the most important part of our businesses is customers. A customer-centric organization considers how every decision will impact the customer experience.

    Here are some ways good customer service can be incorporated into your store policies.

    Make It Easy to Return Products

    If you know a customer bought a product from you, don’t require him or her to produce a receipt or prove they purchased it. With today’s sophisticated customer relationship management systems, it’s imperative to know the buying history and habits of your customers. A robust CRM will come in handy in so many scenarios.

    Make Free Shipping Easy

    If you offer free shipping, be sure your shopper is made aware. If a purchase qualifies for free shipping, make it automatic so that free shipping is tallied before payment in the checkout process. Don’t require customers to look up a coupon code online or on your website.

    Honor Your Warranties

    My bed manufacturer made me jump through many hoops, with several inspections, before it finally honored its own warranty. I found out later that our problem is a known issue and the manufacturer was hoping to drag it out long enough so the warranty would run out or we gave up. Needless to say, this is terrible customer service.

    Make Customers Lives Easier, Not Harder

    Leading retailers offer easy technical support and return procedures. Forget rigid company policies or processes that are designed for your internal efficiency alone. Design your customer service and procedures outside in — make it easier for customers.

    Dialogue with Customers

    You will add value to your company's products and services by offering something customers want and need. Monitor all customer interactions — your call centers, your emails, social media. What are customers saying about you and to you?

    What and how are your customers engaging your on your blog or your website? Are you providing a way to dialogue? When was the last time you surveyed customers? What questions did you ask? What did you do with the data? What actions did you take as a result of the survey? How are customers using your product? What features are missing and what would like to see in the next iteration of your product?

    Ask, also, why shoppers dislike your company or your products. Why do customers return products? Why do they hesitate to place orders? Are there hurdles or obstacles to ordering? Would customers purchase more if you offered PayPal as a form of payment? Are you able to offer shipping service based on membership or similar to Amazon Prime, where customers don’t need to think about shipping costs? Can you offer your products as a monthly subscription, such as monthly gift baskets?

    Emphasize Customer-centered Values

    Making life easier for customers relies on a company’s values. Are you communicating these values to your customers?

    Your customers are your most valuable asset and you need to invest in them, not treat them as an expense line item — i.e., customer service department. If your relationship with your customer is only as good as your last coupon campaign, then you’re missing the point. You need to have a relationship so that customers will want to do business with you over the long term. Company profits comes from repeat customers.

    Summary

    As marketers, we may be guilty of always looking for new customers. We should also try to understand existing customers. It’s much easier and less costly to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. What would your organization look like if you worked toward improving the customer’s total experience, emphasizing customer retention programs? What kind of changes would you have to make in your business processes to achieve a positive customer experience?

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/16QFseK, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that should be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • Revolutions Are Like That!

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1b2TUU1, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that should be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • B2B and B2C Marketing Achievers

    Putting relevant content in front of the appropriate audience is key

    Email remains a workhorse for marketers: It’s cheap and reasonably effective. According to an April 2013 Economist Intelligence Unit survey of US and UK web users, email ranked as among the top outreach channel at each stage of the purchase process, from introduction, to final prepurchase assessment to post-purchase follow-up.

    Ascend2 and Research Underwriters in June 2013 surveyed business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers worldwide to understand the nuances of how marketers are achieving their email objectives. The greatest percentage of marketers still felt challenged to create relevant and compelling content that will really draw in recipients. This ranked as the No. 1 challenge among B2B and B2C respondents to achieving their marketing objectives, but it was also considered the most effective tactic, cited by 71% of B2B marketers and 65% of B2C marketers. If marketers can create strong content, they believe it really does work at converting consumers.

    Other tactics that are becoming critical to campaign success are those involving data on prospects. Segmenting the email database was cited as an effective tactic by the second greatest percentage of B2B marketers. For B2C marketers, segmentation ranked as the No. 3 tactic for achieving email marketing objectives, after testing and optimizing the email campaign.

    Segmentation ranked as among the top three challenges for both B2B and B2C marketers, cited by 29% and 25%, respectively.

    Other effective tactics cited by a substantial percentage of B2B and B2C respondents included integrating email with other tactics and personalizing email messaging.


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    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/16fJ1LK, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that should be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • Email Marketing Trends Review

    Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

    In 2013, no company can expect to be taken seriously if it’s not on Facebook or Twitter. An endless stream (no pun intended) of advice from marketing consultants warns businesses that they need to “get” social or risk becoming like companies a century ago that didn’t think they needed telephones.

    Despite the hype that inevitably clings to the newfangled, however, it’s relatively antique tech that appears to be far more important for selling stuff online. A new report from marketing data outfit Custora found that over the past four years, online retailers have quadrupled the rate of customers acquired through email to nearly 7 percent.

    Facebook over that same period barely registers as a way to make a sale, and the tiny percentage of people who do connect and buy over Facebook has stayed flat. Twitter, meanwhile, doesn’t register at all. By far the most popular way to get customers was “organic search,” according to the report, followed by “cost per click” ads (in both cases, read: Google).

    Image: Custora

    Custora came up with its figures by analyzing data from 72 million customers shopping on 86 different retailer sites. They tracked where customers were clicking from (email, Twitter, Google, etc.) and what and how much they bought, not just on that visit but for the next two years.

    Over those two years, Custora found that customers who came to retailers from search were more than 50 percent more valuable than average. In other words, they were more likely to shop more and spend more. Email customers were nearly 11 percent more valuable than average. Facebook customers were just about average. Twitter customers, meanwhile, were 23 percent less valuable than average during the two years following that first click.

    “I wouldn’t necessarily say Twitter is inherently a bad way to do (online marketing), but we haven’t seen a lot of good Twitter strategies right now,” says Aaron Goodman, Custora’s lead data scientist. He says Twitter marketing campaigns right now tend to rely on the chancy likelihood that someone will run across a deal when they dip into their feed. Even if they do see it, within seconds it disappears.

    Image: Custora

    Email, on the other hand, has a certain unfair advantage in that shoppers getting the emails have already given up their addresses to a site, suggesting they already have some prior relationship with that retailer. Still, despite the avalanche of spam we all get, it’s easy to see how the staying power and greater potential for personalization of a medium without a 140-character limit gives email distinct advantages.

    Custora’s findings don’t bode especially well for social media business models, especially Twitter. Of course, ads on Facebook and Twitter don’t have to lead to immediate clicks to have an impact. They still have the potential to raise ambient awareness. Yet Custora found that Google’s ads, by contrast, do lead not only to clicks but to purchases—the holy grail of “conversion.”

    To be fair, Google had a roughly 10-year head start to turn search into sales. It’s hard to imagine that in a decade that social media won’t be a more important channel for selling stuff. Already its “product cards” provide a very direct way for Twitter to act as a storefront. Businesses probably shouldn’t abandon social just yet. But if they had to pick, that old-timey mailing list may trump tweets for a long time to come.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/11AwKSf, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that should be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.
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  • Marketing and Sales Overview

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/12Jp6rn, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that should be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.

     

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  • Make Your ECommerce Website SEO Friendly

    Making eCommerce work is becoming increasingly difficult. Google wants to be the sole affiliate on the Web, and Amazon has gained so much market share that it’s difficult to get noticed as an alternative. The search engines increasingly remove commercial sites from the results, replacing them with their own ads and shopping programs. The search results focus more and more on content, not products.

    At the same time, a growing number of consumers who were once afraid of shopping online now feel safe with it. More purchases are happening online than ever before. There is opportunity here for the sites that know how to pull ahead. What can the modern eCommerce site do to stay competitive?

    These seven tips should help you pull ahead of the competition by modernizing your SEO and leading the push forward in 2013:

    1. Create an Interactive, Engaging, User-Friendly Website With Minimal Load Time

    Before we talk about how to stay relevant in the search results, we should start by talking about how to make the most out of each visitor. That means boosting your conversion rate as much as possible with:

    • Attractive site design
    • Interactive elements that keep users from feeling passive
    • “Gamification,” by giving site visitors the ability to leave reviews, earn badges or points, participate in forums, start groups or “pinterest” style collections, use wikis, and other community-building tools
    • Keep page load time low so that users don’t bounce off the site before it even loads
    • Remove clutter from the site so that users aren’t distracted or overwhelmed with choices and minutia
    • Remove as many steps as possible from processes like signing up or making a purchase

    2. Don’t Forget about Panda

    An eCommerce site is especially susceptible to updates like Panda because they are content-centric. In many ways, Panda treats the entire Web as though it consisted of blogs, videos, and content built to entertain and inform. Panda is designed to hit sites that don’t solve problems for users or focus too much on advertising.

    Ecommerce sites can suffer due to their commercial nature. They can easily resemble thin affiliate sites and can lose search impressions as a result. What can an eCommerce site do to prevent this:

    • Don’t use template product descriptions, either provided by the manufacturer or developed in house.
    • Each product should have its own unique content. This is where user generated content can be especially helpful.
    • If creating unique content for every product isn’t possible, it’s a good idea to noindex your product pages and focus on creating unique and helpful content on your category pages instead.
    • Consider starting a blog on your site. If the search results are moving in the direction of content, it might be better to go with the flow than to fight it. This can be a good way to attract links and build customer retention.

    3. Don’t Get Excessive With Keywords

    If you want a page to rank for a particular keyword these days, all it really takes is making sure that the page is about the keyword, and the search engine has a decent amount of text to work with. If you stuff the keyword into your title, description, content, alt tag, and excessively interlink all of your pages, it becomes clear to Google that your site is built for search engines, not users.

    It is still good practice to get your keyword, or something similar to it, in your title tag, but beyond that it’s generally good practice to forget about the whole thing. Squeezing keywords into subheadings doesn’t appear to have any positive affect anymore, and keyword density is a thing of the past.

    As Google shifts away from links and keywords and towards statistical data and co-citation, site owners should focus on giving users as much helpful information as possible, rather than on using keywords. The search engines are increasingly good at sifting through this data to draw conclusions about the relevancy and legitimacy of pages on your site.

    4. Go Mobile

    According to Forbes, more than 20 percent of online shopping sessions are now happening on mobile devices. At the same time, the vast majority of online stores simply aren’t optimized for use on mobile devices. They are difficult to read, the buttons are too small, and users are frustrated.

    Forbes estimates that within three years, half of all shopping sessions will be happening on mobile devices.

    Furthermore, CMS wire predicts that being compatible on mobile won’t be enough. Consumers expect unique capabilities from their mobile devices more suited for people who aren’t tethered to their desk.

    Gilt’s CEO expects mobile to be the important place for eCommerce sites to be next year, adding that online shoppers tend to be more wealthy. Online sales are expected to grow to 9 percent of all shopping next year, and Gilt says 60 percent of its traffic is coming from tablets and phones.

    5. Leverage Social Media and Switch Toward Sites Like Pinterest

    According to social commerce firm 8thBridge, the eCommerce leaders over the past year have fallen into one of three categories:

    1. Those that have found a way to make their websites deeply social in a way that makes users want to engage with the site and share from it.
    2. “In transition” sites that do well on all social platforms and use a variety of strategies.
    3. Companies that have a knack for going viral on social networks and drawing in referral traffic as a result.

    Success with social media is about more than putting up a social signpost. Successful strategies encourage reviews, community, and photo sharing.

    Pinterest recently introduced business accounts and tools, making it an even more promising source of brand awareness and referrals in the year ahead. The Social Media Examiner recently discussed in detail how to take advantage of these new tools. Todd Bailey also wrote a great article on the subject for SEJ.

    The key thing to understand about social media is that it’s not really about using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest. Yes, you should get involved on these sites, but the key takeaway is that you need to interact with your audience. Also keep in mind that users are on social networks for entertainment and self-expression, not to find information or to buy something. They are most useful as tools for customer retention, reputation, and word of mouth, not immediate sales.

    6. Stay Penguin Friendly

    For an in depth explanation of how to build links in the post-penguin era, take a look at our recent SEJ post. If you’d rather keep it short and sweet:

    • Focus on clicks instead of keywords when you obtain links
    • Use a wide variety of different kinds of links
    • Focus on links for sites that manually approve them
    • Don’t get links from sites that exist to give links
    • Win content marketing
    • Use top-notch tools
    • Monitor your link profile
    • Don’t use any mass link building technique
    • Use social media and build relationships that naturally result in links

    7. Move to Content Marketing

    We touched on this in point 2, but it’s worth revisiting. The search engines increasingly don’t want commercial results unless they own them. They want content. This may not be what you want to hear, but most people who use the search engines are looking for the same thing.

    Great content is not just Panda friendly. It’s also shareable, a good source of referral traffic, and there’s often much less competition to rank for content-centric terms than commercial-centric ones. Content is great for building reputation, long-term relationships with customers, and increasing exposure.

    Obviously, great content is also a good way to attract links, or to build links using guest posts and similar content marketing strategies.

    Conclusion

    While the search engines increasingly frown on commercial content and Amazon has a huge portion of the market share, more consumers are diving headfirst into eCommerce than ever before. Businesses that become thought leaders with content, relationships, shareability, and knowledge of the future of SEO will crush the competition and see more revenue in the coming years than ever before.

    What are your thoughts? And make sure to share this if you thought it was helpful.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/12JiqJK, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that should be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.

    Image credit: rulelocal.com

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  • You Can Think Of People as Users or Customers

    One of the things you're supposed to work out some time in your adolescence is that though you're the star of your own life, you're not the star of anyone else's.  Some companies never work this out.

    A few years ago I worked on a project to make a video-on-demand service for a big UK supermarket chain. All of the supermarket execs kept saying things like 'our customer' or 'the Sainsco customer'. After a while, I worked out what bothered me about this. I do indeed go to one of their shops - or at least I think I do. I'm actually not 100% sure if it's a Tesco or a Sainsbury. I buy food there every week, but I don't consider myself their customer - at least not in the sense they meant it. Rather, it's one of 10 shops I go to in a week, and one of 20 errands I might run. 

    In other words, your customers' relationships with you are the only relationships you have as a business and you think a lot about them. But you're one of a thousand things your customer thinks about in a week, and one of dozens of businesses. And they probably have their own ideas about how they want to engage with you (though they wouldn't put it in those words) - assuming they think about you at all

    This applies even to Google or Facebook (which brings me to the title of this post). There's lots of data showing the high proportion of online time that people spend using Facebook, and the high volume of web searches that they do using Google. Facebook and Google are important. But that doesn't mean they're everything. 

    When I was watching the launch event for Facebook Home, a loud alarm bell started ringing for me when Mark Zuckerberg said words to the effect that "phones should be about more than apps - they should be about people" - by which of course he meant "about Facebook". The problem with this is that actually, we've spent the last 6 years making phones about more than just people. People use Facebook on their phones a LOT, yes, but they do a lot of other things as well. If all I wanted was a phone about people I'd be using a $20 Nokia with a battery that lasts a month. 

    The same point, I think, applies to Google Glass. If you spend all day in the Googleplex, thinking googly thoughts about data ingestion and Now and the interest graph, then having 'Google' hovering in front of your eyes instead of rubbing on a phone seems like a really obvious progression. If everyone you know owns a Tesla and is deeply engrossed in new technology, then the idea that there might be social problems with Glass doesn't come up - everyone's too busy saying 'AWESOME!'. In much the same way, no-one on the Facebook Home team seems to have realised that most people's news feed isn't full of perfectly composed photos of attractive friends on the beach. 

    Jack Dorsey wrote a blog post a while ago saying that 'users' is the wrong word to describe people who, well, use your service.  He was perfectly right in the sense that the word elides the obligation you should feel to a customer. However, an equal problem is the use of the possessive itself. You can think of people as users or customers - but they're not yours. They don't belong to you, and they may barely even care that you exist. The old Google rejoiced in sending people away from the site as fast as possible, because the result mattered, not the search. Glass points to a risk of forgetting that. 

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1cshtao, this factual content has not been modified from the source. This content is syndicated news that should be used for your research, and we hope that it can help your productivity. This content is strictly for educational purposes and is not made for any kind of commercial purposes of this blog.

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