Marketing’s new challenge: Moving to the next normal


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on May 22, 2020

You must find ways to tailor each channel’s messaging that’s appropriate for your company, your market and your customers as your operations begin to reopen.

graphic of different platforms for viewing the internet

At the recent Discover MarTech virtual event, where I was honoured to host a roundtable discussion, I was intrigued by a marketer who wondered whether marketing would be harder as the economy begins to reopen.

He suggested it was because the polarization that divides our society on so many issues now extends to the pandemic, and ranges from people who think the pandemic is overblown to those who think we aren’t responding the way we should.

How do you market to both audiences without disenfranchising one of them? And, in this world where people take to social media within seconds of feeling offended, how do you avoid accusations that you’re pandering to one group or another?

This is becoming more important now that businesses that shut down all or part of their operations are beginning to look at the best ways to reopen them.

In communicating how you’re going to approach reopening or ramping up your business, you have to consider this deep polarization.

You can’t appeal to all of these audiences. Pick the one you feel aligns closest with your customers and web visitors. That translates into how you will communicate your reopening message.

Your communication strategy should call for developing a set of coordinated statements, differentiated according to the communication channels you use (email, social media, video, etc.) to drive home your message.

This will also give you the opportunity to practice empathy at the same time. In my last two posts (A new KPI for marketers: Humanity and Authenticity is now more important than ever during the coronavirus) I’ve talked about empathy, not just in your brand equity and brand voice but also as a marketer.

Whatever the direction you receive from your executive or legal team, you must find ways to tailor it in a way that’s appropriate for your company, your market and your customers.

These three steps can help you do that and will lead you to my final point:

1. Communicating a reopening message tailored for each channel

Don’t repeat what brands did early in pandemic communication – pasting a long statement from the CEO into an email and knocking it out to the entire mailing list.

What strategies can you use to make your message resonate with your customers? You can’t just send an email with the facts. You must communicate with empathy, to use all the tips and tricks you have as a marketer to make your messages stand out and connect with your customers.

Here’s one example: Instead of the CEO letter, shoot a short video of your CEO speaking directly to customers and then use video-in-email technology to embed the video in an email.

Also, we as marketers need to think beyond the message to how best to communicate it. What do customers really need to know? Will our stores maintain the same policies or adjust things like store hours, extended returns and mask and social-distance requirement? Do we have real-time content like a store finder that will link to their nearest open locations?

Thinking beyond the flat medium of email, how can you successfully use third-party technologies that can help you differentiate and connect in a unique way, such as real-time or dynamic content?

2. Don’t be stupid

Think about the unspoken message you’re communicating beyond the content in your message. For example, using a countdown timer that counts down the time until your stores open might come off as a little tone-deaf. It could work with some brands, but it illustrates my point about the need to walk a fine line about the message you’re trying to communicate.

This can tell people, “We are counting down to when we open the doors and you can spend money with us again.”

This purchase-based approach clashes with global research that shows a majority of customers either won’t go out shopping in public for a while or will be judicious in their spending because of economic constraints.

Think through the perception of your message and how it aligns with your authenticity, empathy and the public position your brand is taking. Perception is a hard thing to have as a marketer. We have been taught that we are not the customer. Now, in this shared experience, we are our own customers in some respects.

We need to be able to project what our customers are going through. It has to be a team effort, however. One person’s feelings can’t direct your entire approach. If there were to be any greater example of a team putting a message together, this will be it.

A peer review can give you honest reviews of the perceptions your message could elicit. Sharing the content with outsiders could be a good thing, too.

3. Change your segmentation plan

So many variables go into segmentation: states, cities, consumer sentiment and the sentiment characteristic of a demographic region. The cuts you have to do in your segmentation plan are as numerous as the stars, but one thing we must think about is this: what determines who gets which message?

In traditional customer segmentation, you would segment by highest spending, most frequent buyers and new buyers. Those all have to be considered in the messages you deliver.

Your best customer might want a white-glove service. My wife is one of Nordstrom’s best customers. She got messages that explained how she can order online and get contactless delivery at the store. So, she went shopping like crazy.

Messages to different cohorts can show a connection while, at the same time, communicating policies meant to protect teams and customers.

What parts of your message can you dissect and emphasize to different segments? Customer- and interest-driven segments are subsets of top-level segmentation, which are demographic regions, business conditions and other factors.

Everything points to a cacophony of sophistication

Regardless of your past efforts, today’s business challenges are raising the bar for everyone. This is the perfect time to retain outside agencies or strategists to help you navigate this independently.

When you seek help, you work with a team that share the expertise they’ve developed from working with clients from other verticals and their approaches. They can review your work independently, anticipate mistakes before they happen and help you with speed to market.

The sophistication level you need right now is at its highest level for most marketers. An external company can help you bridge any gaps your team might have.

I’m not pitching you to hire an agency. I’m just addressing the reality we’re all facing right now.

As I think back to my time on both the client and agency sides, and in my current post. I would have wanted help on the client side and would have loved to provide it on the agency side. I’m not saying you can’t do the work. But if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

This option provides for greater velocity of messaging and a team that can fill the skills gap you might have on your team right now.  Today’s fluid market doesn’t give us a lot of time to adjust strategies. What we need is speed to market at a scale that we have never seen.

Wrapping up

This is an incredibly challenging time for marketers all over the world. The definition of the right thing to do is different for every company, city, state and household. Customers are looking to you to assure them that their needs are being taken care of, whether they’re doing it themselves with your help, in combination with your government or other services, or wherever it comes from.

It’s up to you to use your intelligence and experience, your team and your data to define what “being taken care of” means.

There’s no single right or wrong here, just companies living up the values of business they want to run. We need to let the needs of our companies and our customers guide our decision-making. Let’s not judge or copy what others do.

It’s not an easy path to fight our way out of our immediate crisis and on to the next normal. Let’s use our collective intelligence and business experience to find the right way.

Thank you Marketing Land for sharing this article.

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How real is your real-time marketing?


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on May 18, 2020

The term “real-time marketing” gets bandied about regularly, but brands that can actually implement real-time efforts stand to outperform their competition.

“Event-triggered and real-time marketing will have the biggest impact on marketing activities in the next five years,” said Gartner Vice President analyst Mike McGuire, “However, before marketers can realize the benefits of these technologies, they must first become proficient in predictive analytics and delivering personalized communications.”

McGuire’s comments were part of Gartner’s report last August outlining the top trends that were most likely to impact how marketing teams manage their martech stacks.

The research firm found that the brands capable of plugging in behavioral analytics to marketing automation platforms would be better equipped to deliver real-time marketing efforts — but, according to Gartner’s report, many marketers lacked a “clear” business case for real-time engagement.

Real-time marketing’s biggest obstacle

So what’s the problem? Pegasystems Product Marketing Manager Andrew LeClair says the primary issue is we have 7,000 marketing technology solutions but no way to effectively combine multiple disparate systems in a way that delivers sustainable real-time marketing efforts.

“We have data that’s all over the place. Our systems and our people — they’re not connected,” said LeClair during his Discover MarTech ‘Why Real-Time Really Matters’ presentation, “There’s a bunch of complexity. We’ve got inbound that’s over here and outbound over there — and paid is off on some island somewhere nobody knows. Not to mention all the other systems that touch the customer — things like customer service or billing applications.”

According to LeClair, marketers are unable to stitch together the multiple platforms they’ve implemented to create a “centralized decision authority” — one that can deliver actual real-time marketing events based on customer engagement across channels, historical data, purchase interactions and more.

How to make real-time, 1:1 marketing work

“We need to figure out and deliver next best actions across channels in under 100-milliseconds, but what the heck does that really mean? And, how does that start to work?” asked LeClair during his webinar.

The product marketing manager says real-time marketing is reliant on four specific capabilities: detection, data, decision and delivery. First, marketers must be able to detect, or sense, a customer’s moment of need. This means having systems in place that are able to detect actions via simple events like a click-through on an email or a conversation with the CSR.

“On the flip-side, you also have non-events. This is when we expect something to happen and it doesn’t,” said LeClair.

Once the event — or series of events — have been detected, data needs to be gathered before determining the next best action. According to LeClair, marketers need data that can help assess a customer’s sentiment, intent and behavior. Also, data that sheds light on their end-goal and where they are located is also needed.

“All of this information is absolutely key to identifying their context and what their needs are — and it has to be available in real-time,” said LeClair.

A comprehensive data assessment makes it possible to decide on the next best action and optimize a real-time marketing opportunity. This may include pushing out just the right content at just the right time, delivering a personalized offer, sending a follow-up email or more.

When marketers have fine-tuned these four capabilities, they’re able to determine whether or not it’s time to sell to the customer or nurture the relationship — or, potentially, decide not to engage if it’s impossible to add value within a given situation.

“From initial detection to assembling our data to making that decision to then executing — and how that impacts the customer experience — if we’re able to do all of that in less than 100-milliseconds for any channel, that is the ideal state. That’s where the best in class organizations live and breathe,” said LeClair.

The rewards of real-time marketing

To drive home the impact of real-time marketing efforts, LeClair shared results from a Total Economic Impact report conducted by Forrester on Pega’s clients.

Forrester confirmed companies that had implemented Pega’s real-time marketing tools generated $226 million worth of incremental revenue gains and $193 million in retained revenue.

“Because we’re sensing needs in real-time, we can be proactive in our retention efforts, reducing our churn, reaching out to the customer before they even get the chance to think about leaving,” said LeClair, “And that’s really, at the end of the day, how we optimize for customer lifetime value which is what all of this is about.”

Thank you to Marketing Land for sharing this article.

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For better SEO, don’t put all your eggs in the SEO basket


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on May 7, 2020

Your target audiences don’t limit themselves to one channel, so neither should your business.

SEO is one of the best marketing channels for return on investment for most small businesses. Because of this, a lot of SMBs will invest their entire marketing budget in SEO tactics. You would think as the owner of an SEO company that this is our ideal client, and to a certain extent, it is.

It’s important, however, to point out that some of our best SEO campaigns have been for companies that invest in more than one marketing channel.

Why is this?

Over the last two years, we’ve seen Google increase its brand signals as a ranking factor and it’s apparent to me that this will continue as the algorithm continues to evolve. SEO, by its nature, isn’t a good channel to create brand awareness as users need to have awareness of a product or service before they will search for it.

What are brand signals?

No one knows all of the brand signals that Google is targeting, but for this article we’ll focus on what we believe is the most important: branded search queries.

You can use Google Trends to see how often people are searching for your brand. The image below is a comparison of branded searches for a regional pest control company versus its top nationwide competitors. You can see that they have more branded searches locally as they invest in multiple marketing channels at the local level than the top national brands. Even though their website isn’t as authoritative as these national brands from an SEO perspective, they constantly outrank these larger brands in their region.

Keep in mind that this data is correlative. It doesn’t mean to stop doing SEO and focus on advertising, but that SEO as a standalone marketing strategy can only take you so far. Brand signals are just one of hundreds of factors that Google uses to rank websites. Most SEO-related activities, however, do very little to create online brand signals.

Having a well-rounded marketing strategy that involves multiple marketing channels in addition to SEO creates signals that SEO activities alone can’t create.

What are some activities that can create branded searches?

The most obvious channels that can increase your branded searches are TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, etc. The problem with these marketing channels, to some degree, is that they are out of the reach of most small businesses. Here is a list of alternative marketing channels that can create brand awareness that don’t break the bank:

  1. Remarketing— showing display ads to users that have been to your website is a great, low-cost way to keep your brand top of mind.
  2. Social media advertising — another form of advertising that can expose your brand to the masses at a lower cost than other advertising channels.
  3. Webinars — Hosting webinars is a great tactic to showcase your expertise to a lot of people and create brand awareness. Make sure to record these to use in your social media campaigns.
  4. Speaking engagements — like webinars, this is a low-cost way to showcase your brand to people who may have never heard of you. I’ve often looked up the brand of the person speaking during their seminar to learn more about them.
  5. Email marketing — even though most email marketing campaigns are directed to people who have some level of awareness of your brand, it’s still a good low-cost channel to turn your happy customers into online brand ambassadors. The more people who are talking about your brand online, the more brand searches will happen.

As your small business grows and can afford to invest in more advertising channels, you can breathe new life into your SEO campaign by looking at new ways to create branded searches online:

  • TV advertising—make sure to mention your website as prominently as a phone number or direct them to the website completely as more users are watching TV while also surfing the web on their mobile device.
  • Billboards and direct mail—even though these are offline channels, you can still create online branded searches by offering an incentive that is explained in more detail with a landing page on your website.
  • Radio—similar to billboards and direct mail, creating an incentive to visit your website (and not just listing your web address) is essential to getting listeners to look for your brand online.

Your target audiences don’t limit themselves to one channel, so neither should your business. SEO is just one part of a marketing ecosystem in which every channel can contribute to the goal of increasing branded searches for your company’s name.

Thank you to Search Engine Land for sharing this article.

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25 Ways to Increase Online Sales


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on May 1, 2020

Increasing online sales is the primary goal of countless businesses, large and small alike. Whether you run a mom-and-pop retail business or work for a vast ecommerce giant like Amazon, increasing sales through online channels is a little like bowling a strike – it looks a lot easier than it actually is.

Increase sales online

Fortunately, there are dozens of ways you can make more sales online, many of which you can implement right away. Some of these tips focus on specific strategies you can implement, whereas others are more generalized. In this post, we’ll be looking at 25 such strategies, so whether you sell physical goods or run a service-based business, here are 25 actionable techniques you can use to increase online sales performance.

1. Be Honest in Your Sales Copy

This might seem painfully obvious, but it’s amazing to me how many sites write checks their products can’t cash. Not only is honesty in your copy crucial to your business’ reputation, it also fosters and encourages trust in your brand. Don’t make claims you can’t substantiate, and don’t use hyperbole lightly – today’s consumers are hypersensitive to marketing BS, so be honest, straightforward, and approachable in all your sales copy, from your homepage to your email campaigns.

Increase sales online be honest in your copy

This PETA ad was pulled from billboards in the U.K. by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2013 for making unsubstantiated claims.

This principle also applies to how you position yourself as a business. Ever come across a site that’s obviously run by one or two people, but features copy that would be better suited to a multinational enterprise company? This approach not only makes you look foolish, it also damages your brand’s credibility. If you’re a small company, take pride in that and be upfront about it – many consumers are turning to smaller businesses precisely because of the more individualized, personal service they can offer. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

2. Get More Ad Clicks with Ad Extensions

If you’re selling stuff online, ad extensions are a no-brainer – this feature (available in both AdWords and Bing) allows you to make your ad bigger with more places to click. And it doesn’t cost any extra! AND it increases your ad’s click-through rate! Amazing, right?

Increase sales online use ad extensions

In the above example, the links to “Men’s Sunglasses” and “Women’s Sunglasses” give people who are looking to buy a new pair of Ray-Ban’s two additional places to click. This saves the potential customer a step and makes it easier and faster to find exactly what they want (so they go to your site instead of a competitor’s).

3. Show Off Customer Testimonials and Trust Signals

In today’s social media environment, customer feedback has never been more important. Fortunately, this means that your satisfied customers can provide you with one of the most valuable weapons in your arsenal – testimonials.

Increase sales online include customer testimonials

Legions of satisfied customers are considerably more influential than even the best-written sales copy, so make sure you include gushing testimonials and reviews from your hardcore brand evangelists gushing about how wonderful you are. These might appear on your product pages, landing pages, pricing page, even your home page. For more info, check out my post on the power of customer testimonials.

Similarly, the inclusion of trust signals can be an excellent way to increase online sales, as it creates a more favorable perception of your brand in the mind of the prospect and can potentially overcome hesitations preemptively. If your business has any professional accreditations (even something as routine as a Better Business Bureau certification or membership to your local chamber of commerce), put these trust signals front and center on your site. If you have an impressive list of satisfied clients, make sure your prospects know about it.

4. Create a Sense of Urgency

It’s important to be honest and transparent about who you are and what you do, but there’s no rule against creating a sense of urgency to persuade prospects to buy from you right now.

Increase sales online by creating a sense of urgency

Many consumers respond positively to incentives that create a sense of urgency, from time-sensitive special offers to limited-edition products. Although the ways you can accomplish this are as diverse as the products you can buy online, some strategies may be more effective than others. For example, if you don’t (or can’t) make a limited-edition product to entice prospects, maybe you can offer a financial incentive to customers who commit to a purchase right away, such as free shipping or a discount.

In AdWords, you can use ad customizers to display a countdown on a seasonal offer or limited-time sale:

Increase sales online use ad customizers

However you choose to do it, creating a sense of urgency is a great way to increase online sales.

5. Offer a Bulletproof Money-Back Guarantee

Oftentimes, one of the most powerful factors in a consumer’s decision not to buy something is risk aversion – the desire to avoid a potential loss. Most times, this perceived risk is a financial one. Why should someone buy your products? What if they don’t work, or the customer doesn’t like them? Even small purchases can carry the risk of “buyer’s remorse,” so overcome this objection from the outset by offering a bulletproof money-back guarantee.

Increase sales online offer a bulletproof money-back guarantee

The more risk you remove from the prospect’s decision, the more likely they are to buy from you, so take away anything that could dissuade prospects from buying from you.

6. Offer Fewer Choices

To many businesses, this concept is simply unthinkable. Surely offering more products is a great way to increase sales! Well, not necessarily. In fact, in many instances, a greater variety of choice can lead to indecision on the part of the prospect, which in turn results in lost sales.

If you have a wide range of products, consider structuring your site or product pages in a way that offers visitors as few choices as possible. This reduces the possibility that the visitor will be overwhelmed by dozens of different products. This can be accomplished by arranging your products into increasingly narrow categories (an added bonus of which is offering visitors greater ease to find exactly what they’re looking for), or you could place greater emphasis on fewer individual products. Either way, remember that the more choices you provide, the more likely a customer is to bounce and go elsewhere.

7. Target Lookalike Audiences on Facebook

One of the best ways to increase online sales is to use the data you have about your existing customers to find people just like them. Facebook allows you to do this through the targeting of lookalike audiences.

Increase sales online target lookalike audiences in Facebook

Lookalike audiences in Facebook are essentially users on Facebook who share characteristics and behaviors to customers in your database. You upload your data to Facebook, which then cross-references its own data (and information from third-party data brokers) to create matches based on the criteria you specify. You can also use tracking pixels and data from app installations to help you create lookalike audiences. This is an excellent way to make the data on your existing customers work for you, as it effectively allows you to greatly expand your reach with minimal effort and use highly targeted ads to entice Facebook users who are very similar to your existing customers.

Check out this blog post about Facebook ad targeting to learn more about lookalike audiences.

8. Reduce Friction in the Checkout Process

According to Business Insider, approximately $4 TRILLION worth of online merchandise was abandoned in incomplete shopping carts last year alone, of which 63% was potentially recoverable. This is a truly jaw-dropping statistic, and one that reveals how crucial it is to nail your checkout process.

Increase online sales combat shopping cart abandonment

Similar to the point above about user experience, reducing friction in your checkout process can have an incredible impact on your conversion rates. Just as you should make it as easy as possible for visitors to use and navigate your site, you should make it even easier for them to actually buy what you’re selling.

Eliminate any unnecessary steps in your checkout process that could dissuade a prospect from converting. Skip unnecessary fields in forms. Don’t time them out and make them start over from the beginning. Here are some more tips on battling shopping cart abandonment.

9. Provide as Many Payment Options as Possible

Okay, so your business takes credit cards. What about Google Wallet payments? Or ApplePay? What about Stripe? WePay?

Increase sales online accept multiple payment types

Consumers have more choice than ever before in terms of how they actually pay for goods and services, and not everyone prefers to use American Express. By offering more payment options, including newer services that are becoming increasingly popular on mobile, you’re making it easier for prospects to give you their money. Sure, it can be a hassle to optimize your site (and checkout process, as we discussed above) to include all these options, but doing so is a great way to increase online sales, particularly if your site has strong mobile traffic.

10. Invest in Quality Product Images

There’s compelling evidence that well-presented food actually tastes better than sloppily plated dishes. Given how important appearance is in relation to how we perceive things (including other people), it stands to reason that investing in quality product photography will have a similar effect on visitors to your site.

Increase sales online invest in quality product photography

Regardless of what you sell, include high-quality images of your products – no tiny thumbnails or poorly lit shots taken in your stock room. Also be sure to include a wide range of images. It might seem overkill to include shots of your products from every conceivable angle, but try it out. People love to kick a product’s proverbial tires before buying, especially online.

11. Get Rid of Your Landing Pages

We’ve mentioned this strategy before, and it usually raises more than a few eyebrows to say the least. However, we’re not advocating for eliminating landing pages unncessesarily, but rather optimizing your online ads to align with how many consumers actually browse the Web and shop online.

Increase sales online use Facebook click-to-call ads

Call-Only campaigns in Facebook and AdWords are an excellent example of a situation in which removing the traditional landing page entirely makes a lot of sense. Most people don’t want to spend several minutes browsing pages on their mobile device – they simply want to get in touch with your business.

Increase sales online Call-Only campaigns AdWords

 

By utilizing Call-Only ads, you’re making it easier for prospects to reach out to your business, eliminating one of the leakiest stages of the classic online sales funnel completely, and potentially increasing the volume of calls to your business – one of the most valuable lead sources to many businesses. People who call you are practically begging you to sell them something.

12. Give Gmail Ads a Try

After years in and out of beta, Gmail Ads are FINALLY available to everyone. This is an exciting way to reach prospects and increase sales.

Increase sales online use Gmail ads

If you’re already reaching customers when they search and when they browse on social, why not go the extra mile and hit them while they’re in their inboxes, too? One of the most effective ways to use Gmail Ads is by targeting competitor keywords. People who are in the market for your competitors’ products are getting emails from your competitors that mention their brand terms right now. By targeting those same terms you can show up in their inboxes and hopefully change their minds.

13. Keep Messaging Consistent Across Campaigns and Your Site

Ever clicked a PPC ad that grabbed your attention, only to be taken to an irrelevant landing page (bad) or the site’s homepage (worse)? Did you end up buying whatever you were looking for from that site? Probably not.

Increase online sales message matching

A display ad for Air Canada, and its accompanying
landing page

Increase sales online message match landing page

If a user clicks an ad for a specific product or service, the page they’re taken to should be about that specific product or service – not a related category, not a special offer for another product, but that specific product. Make sure your messaging is relevant across your PPC and paid social campaigns and the pages associated with them, so that ad clicks actually turn into sales.

14. Answer Every Question and Address Every Objection in Your Copy

One of the most dangerous pitfalls you can fall into when trying to sell online is making assumptions about your prospective customers’ knowledge of your product, service, or even market. Many companies mistakenly believe their customers know more about what they’re selling than they actually do, which results in unanswered questions or objections that are failed to be addressed – both of which can harm sales.

Consider every question you can possibly think of about your product, and answer it in your copy on your product pages. Similarly, think about every potential objection a prospect might have about your offering, and preemptively overcome it in your copy. This might seem impractical, but remember, you’re not bombarding prospects with unnecessary information – you’re giving them exactly what they need to make an informed decision. This approach is also an excellent exercise in writing tight, clear, concise copy. If you’re worried there’s too much copy, you can always trim it down. Just keep the focus on the customer and how it benefits them, not why your company is so awesome.

15. Give Away As Much As You Possible Can for Free

People love free stuff, and the more you give away for free, the more favorably prospective customers are likely to perceive you and your brand, which can result in more online sales.

Increase sales online give away free stuff

Awesome!

Look at your current offerings. Can you give anything away for free? If you’re in the software business as we are, it’s easy to offer free, no-obligation trials of your software. Even if you’re not, you can just as easily give away samplers, trial memberships, two-for-one offers, and other reward-based incentives. Giving stuff away for free isn’t just a great way to improve people’s perception of your business, it’s also a great way to introduce them to your must-have products and tempt them to buy more.

16. Create and Target Detailed Buyer Personas

I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re already creating buyer personas (because if you aren’t, you’re in real trouble), but I am going to challenge you to create even more detailed buyer personas than you have in the past.

Increase sales online create detailed buyer personas

If you’ve ever looked at the targeting options available to Facebook advertisers, you may have seen the amazing granularity with which you can target users on Facebook – advertisers can target users based on the square footage of their home, the university from which they earned their degree, and even where they plan on going for their next vacation (as Margot revealed in her fascinating post about amazingly granular Facebook audiences).

Obviously, this degree of specificity may be a little overkill for your buyer personas, but the better you “know” your ideal customers, the more likely they are to respond to carefully crafted messaging tailored specifically to their lives. Push yourself to create more detailed buyer personas than you ever have before. To learn more about this process, check out my detailed guide to creating buyer personas.

17. Implement Tiered Pricing

When you go to a restaurant, the chances are pretty good that you’ll invariably choose one of the mid-priced dishes. This is because many restaurants manipulate psychology to push people toward the mid-range meals. We’ll often avoid the cheapest dishes – and the most expensive – making the middle-tier options the most appealing. This is a technique known as “decoy pricing.” The same principle can be leveraged to increase sales online with tiered pricing structures.

Increase sales online use decoy pricing

By including a third “decoy” option in your pricing structure, you can push people toward the middle option – the one you really want them to buy. Sure, some people will go for the most expensive option anyway (which is a bonus, revenue-wise), but most will subconsciously avoid the decoy and choose the middle-tier option, which is precisely what you want them to do.

Many companies leverage this psychological principle (also known as the “asymmetric dominance effect”) to make us buy what they want. To learn more about decoy pricing, check out this post by Neil Patel at MarketingLand.

18. Add an Opt-In Pop-Up Offer to Push Them Over the Edge

If you’re looking to increase sales in retail, don’t ignore the potential of opt-in offers – prompts that encourage people to sign up for your newsletter, mailing list, or loyalty programs. Using opt-in offers can not only significantly increase the number of contacts in your database (a major asset for future email marketing campaigns), but also increase online sales in the short term.

Increase sales online launch an opt-in offer

Prospective customers who are on the fence about buying from you may well be swayed by a well-placed opt-in offer for, say, free shipping, or 10% of their first order. Even if they decide against the purchase at that time, but do sign up for your opt-in offer, you’ve still added them to your database and they may choose to return later to complete the sale.

When launching an opt-in offer, be sure to test every element for maximum optimization. Test the phrasing of the copy, the position at which it appears on your site, and the flow that visitors are directed through the process. A/B test different offers and see which ones yield a greater volume of sign-ups. Consider having the pop-up be triggered by a site exit so visitors see it just before they’re about the leave the page. The more people that sign up for your newsletter or loyalty program, the more potential sales you can make in the future.

19. Grow Online Sales with Mobile Optimization

The number of online businesses with poorly designed, badly optimized “mobile” sites is amazing.

Increase sales online optimize your mobile site

Mobile search has already eclipsed desktop search in volume. If you don’t want to leave sales on the table, it’s vital that your site is optimized for mobile – and not purely from a technical perspective.

Make it as easy as possible for mobile visitors to buy whatever you’re selling. This may involve an extensive overhaul of your checkout process (see tip #18), or the design and launch of an entirely separate mobile site. Amazon’s mobile site is an excellent example of how mobile ecommerce can (and arguably should) be done, but you don’t need Amazon’s resources to create a compelling, user-friendly experience for visitors on mobile.

Increase sales online responsive design ecommerce example

Navigation and user experience are among the most crucial elements of a well-designed, highly optimized mobile experience. The harder it is for visitors to find – and buy – what they want, the more likely they are to abandon your site altogether and take their business elsewhere. Pages should load near-instantaneously, and navigation should be logical. Don’t ask for too much information, only the bare minimum you need to either make the sale or market to prospects later. Allow visitors to come back to their carts later, even on another device. Don’t expect mobile visitors to convert in a single session, because they probably (almost definitely) won’t – but they might convert later, if you make it easy for them to do so.

Think of your mobile visitors and do everything you possibly can to make it effortless for them to buy from you while they’re on the go.

20. Impress New Customers with an Amazing Follow-Up Email

Sadly, the customer experience typically ends for many businesses when they’ve finally got their hands on a customer’s money. This is a terrible mistake for customer retention. To increase sales volume online, make sure you have a thoughtful, considerate, genuinely useful follow-up procedure in place for new customers.

Increase sales online send an amazing follow-up email

As a hardcore computer geek, I’m always ordering stuff from Newegg.com – replacement parts, new components, and other deliciously geeky stuff. The reason I’ve been a loyal Newegg customer for many years isn’t just the price of the goods (which is highly competitive), but rather the focus on customer service and the follow-up process Newegg has in place.

Whenever I place an order, I receive detailed summaries of my purchase (including vital tracking information so I can hit “Refresh” on the order page to see where my stuff is), as well as customer service information, links to relevant products I might be interested in, and all sorts of other resources. I’m prompted to leave reviews and feedback about my experience, encouraged to contact a real person if I have questions about my order, and can even discuss or answer questions about my purchase for other users who are considering buying whatever I just splurged on. Generally speaking, it’s just a great shopping experience – which is why I’ve been buying my hardware from Newegg for years.

Don’t forget about your customers as soon as they’ve given you their credit card details. The more attention you pay to them after they’ve bought something, the more likely they are to become fiercely loyal brand evangelists who will not only turn into satisfied repeat customers, but will also go and tell and their friends (and blog readers) about how great you are. When a customer buys something, offer them something for free (see tip #11). Talk to them on social media (more on this shortly). Send them a thoughtful, useful follow-up email with incentives to buy from you again. However you do it, make your customers feel like the precious little snowflakes they are – think relationships, not transactions.

21. Nail Your Value Proposition – And Make It Immediately Obvious

Far too many companies lose sales and waste time by focusing on themselves. Remember how we discussed that people don’t want to buy things, only solve their problems? Well, another painful truth is that unless your customers are the brand evangelists we’ve been talking about, the vast majority of them don’t care about you or your company – only how your products or services will make their lives better. This is why your value proposition should take center stage in all your marketing communications and site content.

Increase sales online value proposition

Essentially, your value proposition is the primary reason customers should buy from you, not your competitors, and the promise of the value prospects will receive by investing in whatever you’re selling. Value propositions can be broken down into three main areas:

  • Relevance: How your product/service will solve customers’ problems
  • Quantifiable value: The specific benefits your product/service offers
  • Differentiator: Why customers should buy from you and not a competing company

When you break down a value proposition into these three components, it becomes easy to see why these elements should inform virtually everything about your marketing messaging and site content, from the copy on your homepage to the content of your email marketing campaigns. Why wouldn’t you focus exclusively on these aspects of your products?

Take a look at your landing page copy, sales collateral, and other marketing materials. Is the value proposition immediately obvious? If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Everything your prospects see should tie back to your value proposition in one way or another. The greater the perceived value you can create surrounding your products or services, the more sales you’ll make.

22. Use the Voice of the Customer for More Resonant Ad Campaigns

Hopefully you’re already using PPC and paid social to expand your reach and find new audiences. However, the language you use in your campaigns can have a tremendous impact on your conversion rates (and, therefore, your sales), so my fourth tip is to use “the voice of the customer” in your campaigns – but what does this mean?

The voice of the customer is a market research technique that aligns copy with the needs, wants, pain points, expectations, and aversions of the consumer being targeted by that particular messaging. This process often includes language and phrasing used by customers themselves during market research and focus group testing.

Increase sales online use the voice of the customer in your copy

The example above, from accounting software company FreshBooks, uses the voice of the customer to great effect. During its market research, FreshBooks discovered that its target market (small-business owners) found bookkeeping to be painful and challenging, and so it incorporated language used by its target market in its messaging.

This technique can be extraordinarily powerful, as you’re using the exact phrasing used by your ideal customers to reach your ideal customers. To learn more about how to incorporate this into your own campaigns, check out this post on the voice of the customer.

23. Pinpoint Your Best Attribution and Conversion Paths

Sometimes, it feels as though you’re doing everything right, only to see your conversion rates hovering somewhere between “miserable” and “pathetic.” Oftentimes, this isn’t anything to do with the messaging or positioning of your ads (though it pays to look at this closely), but rather a misunderstanding of when and where conversions are happening.

Increase sales online conversion paths

One of the first things you should do if your conversion rates look low is to examine your attribution models and conversion pathways in Analytics. You may be surprised to find that parts of your marketing strategy that seem like conversion duds actually have a big influence on your online sales. For example, maybe organic search isn’t a great channel for converting into sales, but people who find you first through organic search, and then see a Facebook ad are highly like to become a paying customer. If that’s the case, you should double-down on content marketing and pour some money into Facebook remarketing too (see Tip #1, below).

24. Actually Talk to Your Prospects on Social Media

Active engagement with prospects via social media is overlooked as a potential sales tool by far too many businesses because it is perceived as having a negligible impact on actual sales – when in fact this is one of the best ways you can increase brand awareness, customer satisfaction, and sales.

Increase sales online social media engagement

Think of a time when you tweeted at a company, or commented on a brand’s Facebook page – and the company actually responded to you personally. What effect did this have on your perception of that brand? I’ll wager it became significantly more favorable. Providing fast, honest answers to questions that potential customers have about your offerings is an excellent way to increase sales, as the more attention you are perceived as paying to potential customers, the more likely people are to want to buy from you. This also results in unsolicited social feedback among users themselves – the kind of brand exposure and “advertising” you just can’t buy (well, not in a way that sounds legitimate, anyway).

25. Use Remarketing to Close Way More Deals

No matter whether you’re running a PPC campaign or a Facebook advertising campaign, any digital marketing initiative takes time, money, and effort to accomplish. If you’re not using remarketing, you’re essentially banking on prospective customers converting immediately, which almost never happens (and is exactly as crazy as it sounds).

Increase sales online with remarketing

Whether you’re remarketing your content or a specific time-sensitive sale offer, remarketing is arguably the single most effective way to increase sales online. Not only does remarketing keep your brand at the forefront of prospects’ minds, it also provides would-be customers with numerous additional opportunities to convert. Given the often-fractured customer journey, which now usually takes place across at least a day or two and several devices, remarketing also closely aligns with how today’s consumers prefer to shop – which is wherever and whenever they choose.

Remarketing is a complex, nuanced topic with unique considerations depending on whether you’re remarketing with paid search or paid social, so check out The Complete Guide to AdWords Remarketing Best Practices and The Ridiculously Awesome Guide to Facebook Remarketing.

How to Increase Online Sales [Summary]

Try these 25 tactics to start closing more sales online:

  1. Use Remarketing to Close Way More Deals
  2. Actually Talk to Your Prospects on Social Media
  3. Pinpoint Your Best Attribution and Conversion Paths
  4. Use the Voice of the Customer for More Resonant Ad Campaigns
  5. Nail Your Value Proposition – And Make It Immediately Obvious
  6. Impress New Customers with an Amazing Follow-Up Email
  7. Grow Online Sales with Mobile Optimization
  8. Add an Opt-In Pop-Up Offer to Push Them Over the Edge
  9. Implement Tiered Pricing
  10. Create and Target Detailed Buyer Personas
  11. Give Away As Much As You Possibly Can for Free
  12. Answer Every Question and Address Every Objection in Your Copy
  13. Keep Messaging Consistent Across Campaigns and Your Site
  14. Give Gmail Ads a Try
  15. Get Rid of Your Landing Pages
  16. Invest in Quality Product Images
  17. Provide as Many Payment Options as Possible
  18. Reduce Friction in the Checkout Process
  19. Target Lookalike Audiences on Facebook
  20. Offer Fewer Choices
  21. Offer a Bulletproof Money-Back Guarantee
  22. Create a Sense of Urgency
  23. Show Off Customer Testimonials and Trust Signals
  24. Get More Ad Clicks with Ad Extensions
  25. Be Honest in Your Sales Copy

Thank you to WordStream for sharing this blog post

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Updated Google Ads Benchmarks for Your Industry During COVID-19


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on April 24, 2020
Every year, we update our Google Ads industry benchmarks to account for the new changes and trends that advertisers are experiencing on the largest online ad platform. Earlier this month in March, we shared a sneak preview of Google Ads industry benchmarks for 2020 and we felt great about what we had to share. Then a pandemic changed everything.

We’ve seen COVID-19 change our daily lives, our businesses, and more over the past month. Even on the Google SERP, we’ve seen COVID-19 impact Google Ads performance for several different industries over the past weeks and many advertisers are scrambling to figure out how to adjust to the new normal in a rapidly changing landscape. But what is the new “normal” in your industry? In this post, we dug into new data from the past three weeks and collected the performance for our own clients advertising across five different networks:

  • Google Search Ads
  • Bing Search Ads
  • Google Shopping Ads
  • Bing Shopping Ads
  • Google Display Ads

We analyzed this data to provide the current benchmarks of what advertisers are seeing on these PPC networks, including:

  • Average click-through rate (CTR) by industry
  • Average cost per click (CPC) by industry
  • Average conversion rate (CVR) by industry
  • Average cost per action (CPA) by industry
  • Average daily PPC advertising budget by industry

You’ll find averages across these PPC metrics for 21 industries: Arts & Entertainment, Automotive, Beauty & Personal Care, Business & Industrial, Clothing & Apparel, Computers & Consumer Electronics, Dining & Nightlife, Education, Finance, Food & Groceries, Health & Medical, Hobbies & Leisure, Home & Garden, Internet & Telecom, Legal, Nonprofits & Charities, Occasions & Gifts, Real Estate, Retailers, Sports & Fitness, and Travel & Tourism.

If you’re advertising on search or social, you also may be interested in seeing similar benchmarks for:

Average CTRs have increased during COVID-19

Overall, the average click-through rate on PPC ads has increased since February, especially on Google search campaigns.

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Covid-Benchmarks-Big-CTR

Many industries have found more impressions and clicks on the SERP since the COVID outbreak. Food & Groceries and Charities & Nonprofits have CTRs that far exceed their typical performance. Even industries that traditionally suffer from low CTRs, like Finance or Legal, are finding a strong footing on the SERP.

Higher CTRs on Travel & Tourism may be a sign of trouble, however. Increasing travel advisories and restrictions have many searchers looking to cancel their itineraries. Advertisers would be wise to exclude customers who have upcoming travel plans from their paid marketing campaigns to avoid paying for them to arrive back to their site just to cancel or postpone their plans.
As many advertisers pull back, ad auctions are slightly less competitive and PPC cost per clicks have been declining.

Navigate the changing online advertising landscape with this free small business guide to COVID-19.

Average CPCs have dropped during COVID-19

Some industries are noticing lower CPCs as ad competition becomes scarce. Notably, restaurateurs are seeing well below average CPCs on both search and display as they limit their services to take out and delivery.

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Covid-Benchmarks-Big-CPC

Meanwhile, many professional services (B2B, Real Estate, Legal, Health & Medical) are noticing increased competition as their marketing becomes increasingly reliant upon their digital presence as their prospective customers spend more time online and at home.

Average CVRs impacted during COVID-19

Sadly, many small businesses are unable to operate or convert new customers in the same way that they previously were. In mid-March, we saw local advertisers struggle the most and many have noticed a significantly lower CVR with their paid ads.

But many have been able to pivot and find better ways to convert customers online. For instance, restaurateurs may have fewer or no diners in their front of house, but as more turn to ordering in advance and contactless delivery, they’re converting those diners more effectively online than they were a month ago. Similarly, as fewer people are willing to visit a car dealership in person during the pandemic, many automotive advertisers have adjusted to showcase their inventory and auctions online.

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Covid-Benchmarks-Big-CVR

Average CPAs vary by network during COVID-19

Online advertising has changed rapidly over the past few weeks and many of the trends we’ve seen evolve over the past years have recently reversed. Suddenly, new searches are dominating the SERP, users are staying online later, and mobile traffic is decreasing.

But simultaneously, many advertisers are adjusting and finding growing traffic across networks on Bing, Google Display, and Facebook.

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Covid-Benchmarks-Big-CPA

Average daily budgets reduced during COVID-19

Overall, businesses of all sizes are reducing their ad budgets during this time of uncertainty. But even in the face of uncertainty, advertisers are finding success with a smaller daily budget. Particularly, those who advertise across networks can optimize their campaigns to capture the lowest hanging fruit at the lowest costs efficiently.

Technology (Computers & Consumer Electronics and Internet & Telecom) sectors have boosted their campaign spending to capture the recently growing volume online. Travel & Tourism advertisers have reduced their budget most significantly, as they hope to capture later bookings exclusively.

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Covid-Benchmarks-Big-Budget

What do these benchmarks mean?

The coronavirus outbreak is changing how we conduct business and go about our daily lives. As our behaviors change, so must our ad campaigns. Smart advertisers can react to these shifting norms and adjust their PPC accounts to stay agile. Stay safe and practice social distancing. While you’re stuck inside, keep an eye on your PPC accounts and the WordStream blog. We’ll be posting regularly with new data and strategies to best adjust your campaigns in these rapidly changing times.

Data sources

This report is based on a sample of 15,759 US-based WordStream client accounts in all verticals who were advertising on Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising between March 16 and March 31. Each industry includes at minimum 150 unique active clients. Accounts not recording at least 1 click or conversion are omitted from these figures. Shopping network data is omitted in industries with low usage. Average figures are median figures to account for outliers. All currency values are posted in USD.

Thank you to WordStream for sharing this article.

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Location data providers showcase real-world analytics tools during COVID-19


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on April 20, 2020

Apple has released a new Mobility Trends tool. Google has Mobility Reports. Both are showing the positives on location tracking.

Here are a few recent applications and happenings in the space

Apple Mobility Trends

Apple has released a new Mobility Trends tool that shows the impact of shelter-in-place rules on user movements in multiple countries and selected cities. The data, which the company says is anonymous and aggregated, comes from Apple Maps navigation.

The tool allows users to see how the virus and corresponding lockdowns have impacted walking, driving and transit compared with a baseline measurement in January. The data is being updated daily.

Source: Apple

For public health officials it’s potentially useful but for others, not as much. The data isn’t specific enough to offer much insight for digital marketers or brands.

Google Mobility Reports

In the slightly more useful category for marketers is Google’s Mobility Reports, which was released a couple of weeks ago.

Google’s reports cover 131 countries and examine visitation and movement patterns in high-level categories, such as retail, grocery, transit and workplace. Google says “this type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful [to public health officials] as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.” (Google and Apple have also partnered on COVID-19 contact tracing using location data.)

Indeed, but what these reports tell us, mostly, is something we know from our own experience: people aren’t going to restaurants and retail stores right now. Frankly, Google Trends is much more useful to track changing search behavior and evolving user demand.

More granular data

Some of the tools and datasets offered by other location intelligence companies present more in-depth information and point to the utility of location data for a wide range of use cases. In this moment, when location is being used to illustrate the pandemic’s impact and our response, these companies can educate the broader market about the capabilities and potential value location data has offer.

Source: GroundTruth

Foursquare, for example, has been reporting on offline activities and behavioural trends on its blog. The company takes a more granular look at business categories and activities, such as drug store or QSR visitation patterns by region. NinthDecimal offers a similar look at business categories in a series of  COVID-19 impact reports (registration required).

GroundTruth recently launched a dynamic foot traffic insights tool that allows users to explore and compare visitation in eight business categories, weekly or daily, and isolate those trends on a regional basis. Another company in this segment, Cuebiq, offers an interactive map that provides a more precise geographic view of movement (at the city level) but not by business category.

Tracking patterns in retail

For its part, InMarket uses mobile-location data to create research reports that offer location-based insights into changing consumer shopping patterns (e.g., day part, duration, frequency) and purchase behavior at the product level.

Placer.ai gives you the ability to compare visitation trends for dozens of individual retailers by day and by region. It answers the question: which stores are people still going to and which stores have seen the biggest declines in foot traffic?

Source: Placer.ai

Thank you Marketing Land for sharing this article.

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The Future of Identity in a Cookieless World


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on April 13, 2020

Identity will be even more critical to a brand’s success going forward. Acxiom offers a POV on the cookieless world along with the key pillars a future identity solution should entail.

Identity is hard, and it’s getting even more complex with Google’s recent announcement that it plans to end support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser within two years. This move will have the greatest impact on digital channels that rely on reach as a key benchmark for targeting audiences. New alternatives will need to be developed for advertisers to move forward without cookies. To gain a broader understanding of the overall situation and some of the future options being considered, read Acxiom’s POV.

In today’s ecosystem, identity doesn’t mean simply “matching” identifiers such as mobile IDs, browser IDs, connected TV IDs, multiple email addresses or location IDs. It requires a more holistic approach to bringing together a unified view of a real person and maintaining that view as information evolves over time. Three of the biggest identity challenges include:

One size doesn’t fit all

The definition of identity changes across lines of business, types of business and technology platforms.  How can you understand and adjust your identity solution according to each unique use case?

Data gaps in terms of attributes and coverage

These gaps wreak havoc on the precision of a brand’s marketing messages and response.  How do you gain insights to build relationships with your customers?

People sharing devices, phones, or email addresses

Sharing causes noise and sends conflicting signals. How do you resolve the information to consistently deliver great customer experiences?

To enhance identity capabilities, U.S. marketers invested nearly $900 million in 2019 on identity services and solutions (e.g. device graphs, data processing/management platforms, and services) – an amount that is expected to increase to more than $2.6 billion in 2022, according to a Winterberry Group report.

Given the size of the investment and the critical nature of identity in the marketing ecosystem, it is essential for an organization to first clearly assess the state of its own data and its requirements for an identity solution.  Second, a set of consistent questions to evaluate identity providers must be established to truly understand the provider’s ability to solve for an organization’s most urgent identity needs.

Here are four key components to guide marketers when building an identity solution.

Get the data right

On average, 30 percent of a brand’s first-party identity-related data assets will become obsolete each year, according to Ascend2. Like going to the dentist for a cleaning, using hygiene services that cleanse, standardize and enhance consumer contact data (email addresses, phone numbers, names and postal addresses) every year is imperative. Low-quality data can often lead to a poor experience across touchpoints, which can frustrate and alienate even the most loyal customers. Identity can only be as good as the quality of data on which it relies, and accurate data is intrinsic to any successful engagement with customers.

Get identity right across channels

The quality of data is important, and the volume is important, as well. In today’s marketing ecosystem, visibility into consumers’ digital and online interactions is critical. First-party private enterprise graphs combine digital and offline first-party data with additional third-party insights to create a unified view of the consumer. Organizations can build a solution to maintain consumers’ identity across touchpoints, devices, channels and identity relationships to drive an optimal customer experience that’s tailored to the unique perspective of the brand.

Get customer experiences right

Identity is an ongoing process — one that requires consistent oversight and optimization to maintain evolving customer profiles, enable true engagement with a brand and balance the competing factors of precision versus reach. Through a comprehensive identity management solution that strategically layers artificial intelligence and machine learning into their process, brands can master identity across their martech and ad tech ecosystems to deliver exceptional experiences for customers and prospects alike.

Get compliance right

Ethically identifying and connecting with consumers is a top priority for global brands. To meet compliance requirements for consumer access and to build consumer trust, brands need assurance that consumers are who they say they are — separate from marketing activities. Prioritizing such capabilities is essential to meeting, and ideally exceeding, the requirements established by the recent California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and other emerging consumer privacy regulations that give consumers control over their personal data.

It’s about real people

Identity provides the backbone for creating a single customer view across channels, devices and touchpoints – and has become even more critical with the pending demise of third-party cookies. Before you begin planning your journey, get a full picture of the current state from Acxiom’s POV. Then let these four components provide a roadmap to building an enterprise identity solution that’s designed to meet the expectations of customers today and in the future.

Thank you Acxiom & Marketing Land for sharing this information

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5 Challenges With SEO


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on April 5, 2020

 

SEO is hot.
Unfortunately, SEO still face hurdles and objections.
Here is a summary of the top five challenges you’re likely to face with SEO.

1. It’s complicated to explain exactly what SEO is (and is not).

If you say the term “SEO” to 10 local business owners, you’re likely to get 4 or 5 “What?” responses. Small business owners are becoming more savvy about online marketing every day, but SEO can still be a mystery. Here’s our take:

WHAT SEO IS:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • A wide variety of work that goes into getting a website to the top of search engines
  • Organic ranking in search results
  • Long-lasting online presence

WHAT SEO IS NOT:

  • A fast way to reach page one of search results
  • PPC, Ad words, or email marketing
  • Just having a website
  • Short-term results

2. Figuring out the right SEO candidates

Every small business needs SEO, right? Well, yes, almost every business can benefit from SEO.
A salesperson faces the challenge of identifying who can pay for and commit to SEO.

  •  Franchise businesses are 2x more likely to buy SEO.
  •  SEO buyers will likely already spend on other forms of marketing like classifieds, print ads, and outdoor advertising.
  •  SEO fits well with services with irregular or seasonal demand, like injury attorneys, jewellers, dentists, landscapers.

 

3. Describing how SEO fits with other kinds of advertising

You’ve heard it before from a prospect. “I’m already running Google Ads (or print ads, or email campaigns, or radio spots), so why do I need SEO?” It’s a simple answer: SEO complements every other form of advertising.

People don’t pick up the phone when they hear a radio ad and they always forget the number. They go to Google when they have the chance. And you capture those customers who heard about you on other advertising channels through your website’s SEO.

 

4. Pricing SEO and proposing a realistic budget

Let’s get this obvious fact out of the way first: SEO takes time and knowledge, which costs money.

We like to set the expectation that it takes at least 6 months to reach page one of Google. (Our method actually does this for over 80% of our clients). So how do you propose a realistic budget for your different types of clients? Market and industry competitiveness, along with business competitiveness are the two main factors that generally determine an appropriate SEO budget.

• Market and Industry Competitiveness. If you want to get your website to the top for searchers across the country, you will face some fierce competition. Conversely, if you’re a plumber in a smaller suburban market competing against 50+ other plumbers, you face more competition.

• Business competitiveness breaks down into an additional two general categories, though more factors may still apply in some cases:

* New or small businesses with less than five employees and one location that get most of their business from referrals. We generally recommend spending between $250 and $1,000 per month on SEO.

* An established business with multiple locations or service areas that already does other types of advertising. We generally recommend spending between $1,200 and $3,000 per month on SEO.

5. Proving the value in SEO

“What does it really do for my business?” That’s the million dollar question when it comes to selling SEO. It’s nearly impossible to draw a direct line from SEO to specific sales. If an SEO provider can prove that claim, sign up with them. SEO is only part of the equation for business success.

Yes, it can move a website to the top of search rankings, but it’s up to the business owner to take it from there.
If you’re looking for a proven SEO product, as well as a partner who can help you sell it, give Ismoip a call today!
Toll-Free 1-888-266-6564

Thank you to Search Engine Land for sharing this article.

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Did you know that users’ gazes follow a pinball pattern?


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on March 30, 2020

Eye tracking studies uncovered a “pinball pattern” in users’ gazes.

This results in the uncovering of a “pinball pattern” in eye movement. This eye-catching trend (pun intended) is one of many trends.

Figure 1: Three different “Rich Results” types displayed on a results page for a single query on Google.

Needless to say, features like these affect the way users respond to search results and influence what they click on — or if they click at all. Because different types of searches generate different layouts and types of displays, Nielsen Norman eye-tracking studies find that users need a moment to process the search engine results pages (SERP) before making a decision.

“Because search-results pages are now so inconsistent from query to query, users are often forced to assess the page before digging in and making a selection,” according to the report described in Search Engine Land. (Perficient Digital data finds this inconsistency to be a much bigger factor on mobile, noting that desktop results aren’t nearly as volatile.) This results in what the user experience company called a “pinball pattern” in eye movement.

Figure 2: Nielsen Norman Group’s eye tracking studies uncovered a “pinball pattern” in users’ gazes

 

The special, visually-rich displays are viewed by 74% of searchers, Nielsen Norman Group found. And they seem to be having a significant impact on click activity.

Back in 2006, the first search result (defined in this study as the first item appearing on the page, which means it could be an ad) attracted 51% of clicks. Now, only 28% of clicks go to the first result under the search box, the UX researchers found.

Whether the query contains a brand name or not seems to have a significant impact, though. According to Perficient Digital, the click-through-rate for the first result on branded queries averages 69%, whereas for non-branded queries the first result only achieves a 18% clickthrough rate.

This suggests that there’s more opportunity for marketers to attract clicks even if they aren’t in the very top spot, but between more aggressive monetization of results and zero-click searches, there’s just not as much room for organic listings to attract clicks. Consequently, there’s an increasing need for enterprise SEO tools that help marketers identify where their pages are showing up (especially in these special features) and identify opportunities for optimization.

Thank you to Marketing Land for sharing this article Here

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4 marketing lessons from retailers who are mastering the customer experience


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on March 23, 2020

Get inspiration from retailers who have focused their efforts on CX and adapt those learnings to better engage your own audience.

girlfriends shopping

I don’t need to go into detail on how fierce competition is for digital marketers in the retail space. They are constantly determining how to outmaneuver other retailers and better engage shoppers.

Simply spending more to box out competitors is not the long-term answer – nor is it viable for most retail businesses. The solution is to simultaneously invest in more personalized marketing approaches as well as the customer experience. That’s because investing in the customer experience cycles back into propelling the effectiveness of your marketing and advertising efforts.

A renewed focus on the customer experience is what will define successful retailers moving forward. Here’s a look at four retailers excelling in key areas of the customer experience, and the marketing lessons to learn from each of their approaches.

Ulta

Excelling in: Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs have become so commonplace that many retail marketers treat them like a checkbox without thoughtful execution and continued optimization. These programs usually exist in the form of coupons for first-time shoppers and other generic incentives in exchange for signing up to receive the retailer’s newsletter.

The more successful loyalty programs prioritize personalization, audience segmentation, and messaging. A good example is the Ultamate Rewards Program from Ulta, which closed out 2019 as the top-performing stock in the S&P 500 Retailing Index, beating out Amazon. Ultamate loyalty members drive more than 95% of the company’s total revenue.

The reason Ulta has seen so much success? The retailer uses its loyalty program firstly as a communication tool to build and maintain relationships with customers. The program is designed to reward shoppers for allowing the retailer the opportunity to build something more than a transactional, “check out as guest” interaction. That more personalized experience is a major reason why Ulta has seen success in the competitive retail environment.

Moral of the Story: Treat loyalty programs like a relationship channel first, and let the revenue acquisition follow.

REI

Excelling in: Social consciousness

The rise of social consciousness has paved the way for brands to take a position on issues that matter to their company, while simultaneously building a deeper connection with their customer base. The retailers doing it best have built social consciousness into their DNA.

Take REI, for example. Social consciousness permeates everything it does as a brand. Its Product Sustainability Standards hold the company and its brand partners accountable for supporting social responsibility and environmental stewardship. It prioritizes the use of recycled and other sustainable materials in its products. And perhaps most unforgettable is when REI began closing on Black Friday to encourage employees and customers to spend time outside. Social consciousness anchors REI’s values and those of its customers.

From a marketing perspective, REI again leads with social consciousness. This core value is at the forefront of the retailer’s #OptOutside campaign, thousands of outdoor guidebooks, volunteering events, and email messaging, which constantly encourages shoppers to get outside. REI’s strength in social consciousness translates to strong and cohesive marketing messages.

Moral of the Story: Sidestep the race to the bottom on factors like price and shipping and instead win customers through shared core values.

American Girl

Excelling in: Retailtainment

The concept of retaintainment has taken off with the reinvention of brick-and-mortar retail. Many shoppers have grown to tolerate stores with lackluster product displays, limited selection, and poor customer service. But the retailers that flip this experience on its head are taking brand building and sales to a new level.

For instance, American Girl is a standout retailer when it comes to store experience. Its flagship, 40,000 square foot store in New York City is retailtainment at its best. Young customers and their dolls can get makeovers and have birthday parties. The custom design shop lets children customize their doll outfits and find clothing for themselves.

Children can then share pictures of their experience on social media, parents can sign up for rewards—there is a strong marketing connection to the memories the shoppers created in-store. In this case, marketing can gain effectiveness from building off the retailtainment experience, while also reinforcing that experience to keep customers coming back.

Moral of the Story: Strengthen shoppers’ positive memories of your brand by reinforcing in-store experiences on other marketing channels.

IKEA

Excelling in: Augmented reality

While the extraordinary store experience is setting brands apart offline, augmented reality (AR) is playing a growing role in transforming the experience online. Furniture and apparel are two areas of retail that especially stand to benefit, given the historical friction around purchasing these items online. Shoppers often want to touch, try on, and try out these items before buying them.

For example, IKEA is one of many retailers using 3-D imaging and AR technology to allow customers to visualize products in a room in their home. IKEA’s Place app lets shoppers position multiple items inside a room, and see how various combinations of items will fit and look, all while leveraging the retailer’s vast inventory. It’s technology like this that has made the furniture category one of the fastest-growing retail categories online in the last few years.

Similarly, 3-D body imaging technology is poised to dramatically reduce the friction of shopping for clothes online, while also mitigating returns by helping consumers make better decisions about size and color. Augmented reality done right can bring your product catalog to life, and play a direct role in supporting the purchase journey.

Moral of the Story: Overcome friction inherent in online shopping by attaching AR directly to buyers’ decision-making process.

In summary, digital marketers in retail have a growing stake in the customer experience. The success of their efforts will increasingly depend on the quality of experience that their business provides to customers. As always, differentiation remains critical. Get inspiration for retailers who have picked their battles and adapt those learnings to better engage your own audience.

Thank you to Marketing Land for sharing this article Here

 

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