Self-Serve is a Great Model for Vendors – and Customers

Let’s get it out there right away. Self-serve is an effective, cost-saving strategy for software vendors. While some critics see the move to self-serve as a cynical attempt to offload costs (time, expense) to customers. But there’s also a huge benefit to customers – if done correctly. Self-serve can allow customers to access training and get answers when they need it.

There’s a precedent for this. For example, think back to the 1970s and 1980s when corporations offloaded all the clerical work formerly performed by legions of administrative personnel onto the workloads of pretty much everyone left after the cuts. It was essentially self-serve enabled by advances in technology. And while workers reacted negatively to losing secretarial assistance for report generation and letter-writing, the adoption of new office productivity technologies that accelerated in the ensuing years validated the decision to expect employees to assume more responsibility. It took time but eventually, we all became expert email and excel users.

Similarly, the mathematical cost calculation for providing a self-serve portal to customers is so clear it’s exhausting to imagine disputing the strategy. The industry has moved definitively in that direction. And in case it isn’t obvious, Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) in its recent Technology Services Heatmap produced a table showing the adoption of 42 technologies employed in the post-sales world of enterprise software. Self-serve is one of only four technologies deployed in more than 75% of enterprise companies.

2018 TSIA Technology Heatmap

Peak self-serve? Perhaps but don’t be fooled into thinking the bargain is all in favor of companies. Customers enjoy significant benefits too, as highlighted in this article in the Harvard Business Review. It offers them convenience and speed and in this age of choice those attributes can help address imbalances presented by the eternal yin and yang of SaaS, retention, and churn. Both customers and vendors benefit from self-serve because it places the concept of customer value front and center. Vendors commit to providing what customers need and customers commit to doing many things for themselves as long as they continue to receive, through the portal, what they need.

Upon deeper consideration, this matter of evaluating self-serve through the lens of customer value is actually the more important factor of the self-serve equation and smart companies recognize this. They recognize that they need to invest in a comprehensive strategy that forces them to carefully tend to their side of the equation. If they hope to maintain the ROI of the technology, links will need to always work, documentation will need to be current, relevant, and acutely accurate, and interactive features will need to be, well, interactive. Furthermore, smart companies are using self-serve to better understand their customers through the ability to measure engagement and interaction and, in return, they use the knowledge gained to turn around and more personally nurture their relationships with customers.

Self-serve is a critical, and modern, customer-enabling strategy and it constitutes a major plank in the platform of our new service model announced on May 7.

In the end, smart companies know that the question of helping customers achieve their expected business outcomes isn’t really about what those customers want. Smart companies know the more relevant question revolves around what customers need and to answer that, self-serve removes a lot of the guesswork by opening a window and letting the customers in.

Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

Are People Watching Your Landing Page Videos? Here’s How to use Google Tag Manager to Check

In 2018, video marketing has become ubiquitous in news feeds and it’s one of the best tools for persuasion you have available to you. In fact, 72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rates. Naturally, because your landing pages are designed to persuade and convert, it makes total sense you’d want to use videos to boost the power of your offer.

But how do you know if visitors are actually interacting with your landing page videos? If you’re spending money on producing video content (especially if it’s offer-specific), you’ll want to know if your target audience is engaging.

While some of you may have access to a video marketing platform and resulting analytics, this post is going to share how you can get view information for YouTube video players using the free tool Google Tag Manager.

Once you follow the steps below for your Unbounce pages, you’ll be able to see:

  • If visitors are actually watching the videos on your landing pages
  • The duration of how long visitors are watching for, and
  • Where visitors are dropping off (this can help you understand what content to modify to keep visitors engaged).

First up: Add Google Tag Manager to Track Your Landing Page Videos

This is really easy to do in Unbounce. First:

  1. Head to the Script Manager under your Settings tab.
  2. Then, click the green “Add a Script” button.
  3. Next, select the Google Tag Manager option.
  4. Assuming you’ve already signed up for Google Tag Manager, you can add your Container ID.

Set up of Google Tag Manager

Lastly, attach your domain to the script, and you’re all set!

Once you have the script saved, use Google Tag Assistant to confirm the tag is working. After setting up this Tag Manager, next we’ll want to define how we want to track user interactions with our YouTube embeds, which brings us to…

Create Tags to Track Video Engagement

On September 12, 2017, Google Tag Manager released the YouTube Video Trigger which finally gave marketers the opportunity to track engagement from embedded YouTube videos within Google Analytics. Tag Manager added built-in video variables, and we want to confirm they are selected before creating any tags or triggers.

When you get to the Variables page in Google Tag Manager:

  • click on the red Configure button, and simply check the boxes for all the video variables, as seen in the image below:

Configuring Built in Variables

Next, we can create our trigger. Triggers control how the tag will be fired. The only option we need is the YouTube Video trigger type.

From here you can select the specific information you want to capture. These actions include when a user starts a video, completes a video, pause/seeking/buffering, and the duration of how much of the content they actually watch.

See how people are engaging (or not) with landing page videos

In the image above, we see just one option of a trigger you can create. If you choose to select ‘Progress’, you have to choose either Percentages or Time Thresholds. It has to be one or the other. You can’t do both. Using Percentages, you can add any number you like (i.e. it doesn’t have to be the numbers I used in the example above). Tag Manager will automatically add 100 for a completion.

On the other hand, if you choose ‘Time thresholds’, you will add the numbers (in seconds) you’d like to have recorded in Google Analytics. If your campaign focus is on views, I’d stick with Percentages. But, if you want to see where users are dropping off to help you improve the content of your videos, Time Thresholds is a good choice.

Lastly, choose when the trigger will fire. By default Tag Manager will fire the trigger on all videos, but you can choose to fire on only some videos.

You can also make your video triggers a lot more specific. The image below shows several options you have to fire the tag on a variety of custom variables for your YouTube videos. If you only want to track videos on certain landing pages, you can do that, but if you only want to track certain videos no matter what the landing page is, you have that option too. Create the trigger which will give you the data you need to make better decisions about the videos on your landing pages.

Now let’s set up the tag!

The image below is just one example of a completed tag set up. Here, you can change the Category, Action, and Label to capture the appropriate video data you want to collect. You can also research and find some cool custom versions of these tags like Simo Ahava’s YouTube Video Trigger. There are many options out there, so find the tag which works best for you.

Now that we can track the YouTube video interactions, let’s view the data.

View the Events Report in Google Analytics

In Google Analytics, head over to Behavior > Events. In the Overview or Top Events sections, you can see the Event Category lists of whatever you are tracking. While Event Category is the default view, you can switch to Event Action or Event Label to get deeper data depending on how you set up your tag.

So, how do you relate YouTube video tracking with our landing pages? Easy. Click on Secondary dimension, search for “landing pages” and select it. From here you’ll be able to see the page URL path alongside the current view you have pulled up.

We now have the data in Google Analytics to view which videos users interact with the most, how long are users watching the embedded YouTube videos, and which landing pages are actually seeing video engagement.

Now You Have Data to Improve the Videos on Your Landing Pages

If you find visitors barely watch your videos (think viewing less than 30% of the content), you now have data to push your team to modify the length of the videos, for example, or get to your key message differently (perhaps you have a really long intro?).

If the data shows users aren’t watching your videos at all, you may want to replace the video on your landing page with other, more customized options, or even text that sums up the value props presented. Finally, if you identify really popular videos, it could be a great opportunity to determine if there are opportunities for reuse on other relevant pages, too.

Overall, you won’t know whether page visitors resonate with the videos on your landing pages unless you track this. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions on the setup above – happy to jump in with answers.


How to Make Your Unbounce Landing Pages GDPR Compliant

You might not wake up each morning thinking about data privacy and security but, like it or not, Facebook’s recent move makes it an issue you can’t dismiss. Long before Mark Zuckerberg sat before congress in the face of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, explaining how Facebook uses personal data, the European Union started getting especially serious about data protection and privacy.

And so, on May 25 2018, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect.

In a nutshell, the GDPR legislation gives everyone in the EU greater privacy rights, and introduces new rules for marketers and software providers to follow when it comes to collecting, tracking, or handling EU-based prospects’ and customers’ personal data.

Moreover, the GDPR applies to anyone who processes or stores data of those in the EU (i.e. you don’t need to be physically located in Europe for this to apply to your business and can incur fines up to 4% of your annual global turnover or €20 million [whichever is greater] for non-compliance).

But Beyond Potential Fines, Here’s Why You Need to Care

On Tuesday April 3rd, Zuckerberg said that Facebook had no plans to extend the GDPR regulations globally to all Facebook users. But, fast-forward a few weeks later and Facebook completely changed its tune, now planning to extend Europe’s GDPR standards worldwide.

This move sets a precedent, showing all of us that no matter where we are in the world, personal data and privacy laws aren’t optional. Compliance is table stakes.

If you’re located in Europe, process lead and customer data from Europe — or just happen to believe in high standards for data privacy and security, this post will help you navigate:

  • What Unbounce has done to become GDPR compliant, and
  • Some of what you need to do to make sure your landing pages, sticky bars, and popups adhere to the new rules.
Note: This post isn’t the be-all-and-end-all on EU data privacy, nor is it legal advice. It’s meant to provide background information and help you better understand how you can use Unbounce in a GDPR compliant way.

Data Protection by Default for You and Your Customers

For several months now, Unbounce has been investing heavily in the necessary changes to be GDPR compliant as a conversion platform. We believe that to build trust and confidence with your customers, you need to make their privacy your priority.

As of the day of GDPR enforcement, you can be sure we’ve got your back when it comes to processing and storing your data within Unbounce, and giving you the tools you need to run compliant campaigns.

To see exactly what Unbounce has been doing, why it matters and where we’re at in development, check out our GDPR FAQ page.

But while we’re a GDPR compliant platform with privacy and security safeguards built into our business practices and throughout our platform, this is only part of the equation. There are still a few things you are responsible for to use Unbounce in a compliant way, including:

  • Obtaining consent from your visitors (lawful basis of processing)
  • Linking to your privacy policy (informing visitors of your data protection policies)
  • Deleting personal data if requested (right to erasure)
  • Encrypting lead data at transit and in rest (using SSL) and
  • Signing a data processing addendum (DPA) with Unbounce

Here’s what you’re gonna want to watch for as you build landing pages, popups, and sticky bars.

Obtaining Consent From Your Visitors

Before collecting someone’s data the GDPR states you must first have a legal basis to do so. There are six lawful bases of processing under the GDPR, but if you’re a digital marketer, your use case will most likely fall into one of the following three:

  1. Consent (i.e. opt-in)
  2. Performance of a contract (eg. sending an invoice to a customer)
  3. “Legitimate interest” (eg. Someone is an existing customer and you want to send them information related to a product or service they already have.)

If you are using Unbounce for lead gen, then you must gather consent via opt-in to collect, use, or store someone’s data. When building your landing pages in Unbounce, you can easily add an opt-in field to your forms with the Unbounce form builder:

Keep in mind: Your visitors must actively check your opt-in box to give consent. Pre-checked checkboxes are not a valid form of consent.

Related But Different: Cookies And The ePrivacy Regulation

In many posts you’ll see Europe’s ePrivacy regulations tied in with GDPR, but they are, in fact, two separate things. While the GDPR regulates the general use and management of personal data, cookie use is core to the ePrivacy regulation (which is why you’ll sometimes see it called the “cookie law”). ePrivacy regulations are still in the works, but it’s certain they will be about visitor consent to cookies on your site.

We know the ePrivacy directive requires “prior informed consent” to store or access information on your visitors’ device. In other words, you must ask visitors if they consent to the use of cookies before you start to use them.

Last year Unbounce launched sticky bars (a discreet, mobile-friendly way to get more conversions), but they do double duty as a cookie bar, notifying your visitors about cookies.

You can design and publish a cookie bar using Unbounce’s built-in template, as shown below, embed the code across all of your landing pages using script manager, then promptly publish to every landing page you build in Unbounce. You can even have it appear all across your website.

Informing Visitors of Your Data Protection Policies

It’s not enough to just obtain consent, the GDPR also requires you to inform your customers and prospects what they are consenting to. This means that you need to provide easy access to your privacy and data protection policies (something Google AdWords has required for ages).

Sharing your privacy and data protection policies easily and transparently can help you earn the trust and confidence of your web visitors. Every visitor may not read through it with a fine tooth comb, but in a web littered with sketchy marketing practices, sharing your policies shows that you’re legit and that you have nothing to hide.

In the Unbounce landing page builder you can have any image, button or text link on your page open in a popup lightbox window. This means that you can link to the privacy policy already hosted on your website in a popup window on-click, and still keep visitors on your page to boost engagement and conversion rates.

This is a great example of how doing right by your customers can also help you achieve your business goals.

Here you can see a button being added to an Unbounce page linking through to a privacy policy. Something you need to do going forward to be compliant.

The Right To Be Forgotten

At any point in time a customer or lead whose data you have collected can request that you erase any of their personal data you have stored. There are several grounds under which someone can make this request and the GDPR requires that you do so without “undue delay”.

As an Unbounce customer, simply submit an email request to our support team who will ensure that all information for a specific lead or a group of leads are deleted from our database.

As part of our ongoing commitment to supporting data privacy and security, we are inspecting alternate solutions to deletion requests, but you can rest assured that even as of today, we will fulfill deletion requests within the time limit enforced by the GDPR.

Preventing Unauthorized Access to Data

Unbounce has supported SSL encryption on landing pages for years, and we’re proud that we made this a priority for our customers before Google started calling out non-https pages as not secure and giving preferential treatment to secure pages.

Presently Unbounce customers can already adhere to the GDPR requirement to process all data securely.

When you build and publish your landing pages with Unbounce, you can force your web visitors to the secure (https) version of your pages, even if they accidentally navigate to the unsecure (http) version.

In the upper right corner you can toggle to force visitors to the secure HTTPS version of your page.

This forced redirect will ensure proper encryption of your visitor lead data in transit and at rest. And as an added bonus, it’ll keep you in Google’s good books and prevent ‘not secure’ warnings in Google Chrome.

Signing a Data Protection Addendum (DPA) With Unbounce

According to the GDPR, when you collect lead information with Unbounce, you are the data controller while Unbounce serves as your data processor. To comply with GDPR regulation when using a tool like a landing page builder or conversion platform, you need a signed DPA between you (the data controller) and the service provider (your data processor).

Without getting too deep into the weeds on this one, let me just say that if you’re using Unbounce, we’ve got you covered and that you can complete a form on our GDPR overview page to get your DPA by email.

Privacy = Trust = Great Marketing

At Unbounce we view data privacy and security as two cornerstones of great marketing. At their core they are about a positive user experience and can help make the internet a better place.

The GDPR puts more control in the hands of users to determine how their information is used. No one wants their personal data falling into the wrong hands or being used in malicious or intrusive ways. Confidence and trust in your brand is at stake when it comes to privacy, so we aren’t taking any chances. Using Unbounce as your conversion platform, you can assure your customers that you take their privacy and data security seriously.

Increased regulation around data privacy may provide short term challenges for marketers as we establish new norms, but long term they can provide a more positive experience for users — something we should always strive for as marketers.


How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time

How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Allen Gannett
Podcast Transcript

Allen Gannett

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Allen Gannett. He is the CEO and co-founder of TrackMaven, a marketing insights platform. He and I discuss his new book, The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time.

Gannett’s mission in life is to make people realize and live up to their potential. He believes “creativity” is accessible to all, most people just don’t have the right tools.

He has been on the “30 Under 30” lists for both Inc. and Forbes and is a contributor for FastCompany.com where he writes on the intersection of technology and human nature. Previously, he was a co-founder and General Partner of Acceleprise Ventures, the leading SaaS startup accelerator. He was also once a runner-up on Wheel of Fortune.

Questions I ask Allen Gannett:

  • What is the science behind creativity?
  • What are the four laws of the Creative Curve?
  • How has the research you’ve done impacted your own business?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why creativity is misunderstood
  • What you need in order to develop a skill
  • How Gannett’s research influenced his views on hiring

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Allen Gannett:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Duct Tape Marketing

Transcript of How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time

Transcript of How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Allen Gannett. He is the CEO and founder of TrackMaven, a marketing insights platform. He’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today called The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea at the Right Time. Allen, thanks for joining me.

Allen Gannett: Thanks for having me, man.

John Jantsch: A big premise of the book is to kind of debunk the creativity myth that you sit around and get this inspiration from a muse at some point in your life and that, in fact, there’s a science behind it. You want to tell me kind of your … it’s really the big idea of the book, I suppose, so you want to unpack that for us?

Allen Gannett: Creativity is one of those things that we talk about a lot in our culture. It’s on the cover of all these magazines. It’s this big topic in boardrooms. In Western culture, we have this notion of creativity as this magical, mystical thing that strikes a few certain people each generation, and there’s the Elon Musk and Steve Jobs of the world and the Mozarts and the JK Rowlings, but for the rest of us normies, we’re just sort of left out in the cold.

Allen Gannett: The thing that always bothered me is I’d always been someone who’d been a big reader of autobiographies and some of the literature around creativity. I run a marketing analytics company, so I spend a lot of time with marketers, and I didn’t realize the extent to which this had internalized with people. I thought people sort of knew that was the story but knew that, of course, that’s not actually how it works. I realized that, no, no, this is really how people believe creativity works, and so the book sort of came out of this frustration I had that I saw all these very smart people limiting their potential.

Allen Gannett: The book is split into two halves. The first half of the book I interviewed all of the living academics who study creativity, and I break down the myths around how creativity works using science and some of the real histories. I tell some of the real stories behind things like Paul McCartney’s creation of the song Yesterday, which has been over-hyped and over-sold for decades, and Mozart, which there was a whole bunch of, literally, things like forged letters and forged articles about Mozart that have become part of our common myths around Mozart.

Allen Gannett: In the second half of the book, I interviewed about 25 living creative geniuses. These are everyone from billionaires like David Rubenstein, Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer at Netflix, Nina Jacobson, the former president of Walt Disney Motion Pictures. She’s the producer of The Hunger Games. I interviewed even folks like Casey Neistat from YouTube and … really eclectic set of creative geniuses with the goal of saying, okay, if the science shows us that you can actually learn to become more creative, well then how have people actually done that? How have they accomplished that? The book is meant to both be a sort of myth-busting book but also actually be a practical guide to actually leveraging this yourself.

John Jantsch: I think there’s actually a lot of misunderstanding or misuse of the word creativity anyway.

Allen Gannett: Oh, totally.

John Jantsch: I do think that a lot of people that I run into, “Oh, I’m not creative,” which means, “I can’t paint like Picasso,” or something when, in fact, in my business, I’m not … If you set me down and say, “Make something,” I’m not a maker, but I could … I’ve built my entire career around taking other ideas and seeing how they fit together better, and I think that’s a creative science.

Allen Gannett: Oh, and totally, and this is one of the things that people … We have sort of a book cover mentality of creativity, I like to call it, where I wrote a book, there’s one name on the cover, but there’s so many people involved who are creative who make that happen. I mean there’s agents, editors, marketers, copy editors, proofreaders, research assistants, feedback readers, right? Every creative endeavor you see actually has a lot of different people involved, but we sort of have this book cover phenomenon, or I sometimes call it the front man phenomenon. In a band, we talk about the lead singer all the time even though there’s five people in the band. With creativity, we sort of talk about Steve Jobs and Elon Musk as if they’re these sort of Tony Stark-esque characters, and we forget the fact that Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Elon Musk literally has the world’s best rocket scientists working for him.

Allen Gannett: The idea that these people are rolling these boulders up a hill by themselves is just not true, and so I think we’re surprisingly susceptible to these sort of PR person propagated narratives around creativity, because I also think, John, we kind of like it. We kind of like the idea that there’s something out there for all of us that’s going to be easy. When we talk about our passion, I think we’re slightly actually talking about, well, waiting for something to be easy, but nothing in life is easy.

Allen Gannett: You look at Mozart, and we talk about him as if he popped out of the womb playing the piano, but the reality is, when he was three years old, his dad, who’s basically a helicopter dad, was like, “You need to become a great musician.” Under the conditional love of his father, he started taking lessons with literally the best music teachers in all of Europe, and he practiced three hours seven days a week his entire childhood. This is not the story of it being easy for Mozart. This is the story of him doing the really hard part when he was young. I think we like this idea that, for some people, it’s easier, for some things it easy, because it kind of gives us an excuse.

John Jantsch: Well, and I also think that the narrative that is simple is a really useful device too because people can then share it, and they don’t have to … What you just went through, nobody wants to tell that story.

Allen Gannett: Of course, 100%. Everyone wants to believe it’s just straightforward.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think you go as far as saying that just about anybody with the right motivation and the right process could practice and develop a skill, so let’s … Since I mentioned Picasso, could I paint if I had the right motivation?

Allen Gannett: Yes.

John Jantsch: I mean, right now, I will tell you I can’t.

Allen Gannett: Yes.

John Jantsch: I don’t think I could paint anything that anybody would see commercially interesting, but-

Allen Gannett: Totally.

John Jantsch: Right.

Allen Gannett: There’s two different parts of creativity. There’s the technical skill, and then there’s creating the right idea at the right time. On the technical skill side, we actually have now decades of research on talent development. What’s amazing, this is something I didn’t … I didn’t expect it to be this much of a consensus when I started writing the book, but the people, the researchers who spend their time studying talent development have come to the conclusion that, at best, natural-born talent is very rare and [wholefully 00:06:47] overblown, but more likely than not, the idea of natural-born talent actually doesn’t really exist.

Allen Gannett: It’s really that these people typically start very young. They have access to a lot of resources or maybe they were working on another skill, like the daughter who always played baseball in the backyard with her dad and then, by the time she was 12 and she went to her first-ever track practice, she was such a fast runner, and they’re like how did she learn this? It’s like, well, she was playing baseball in the backyard for seven years.

Allen Gannett: In the book, I actually profile the story … It’s actually one of the few stories we have of someone tracking their skill development over a long period of time. It’s the story of Jonathan Hardesty, who’s this painter who, at the age of 22, having never painted before, decided that he wanted to become a professional painter, and he proceeded to … For whatever reason, he was active on a online forum, and he created this forum thread which said that, “Every day, I’m going to post a picture of my painting. I’m going to paint every single day,” and for the next 13 years he did this, 13 years.

Allen Gannett: It’s a really amazing story being able to see he was such a terrible painter when he started. I got permission from him to use one of his first-ever sketches in the book and one of his sketches from much later, and it’s shocking. What he did is he followed, actually, all of the best practices that we have from research on talent and skill development on becoming a great painter, and now he teaches all these courses and classes on becoming a fine art painter and all this stuff, and his paintings sell for five figures, and so he’s a really great rare example of someone starting when they’re old. I think it’s hard because, when you’re older, you’re busy. You don’t have that much time, and there’s not a father or mother figure sort of bearing down on you, forcing you to get through the hard part.

John Jantsch: Well, and I do want to get to your four laws of the creative curve because I think that’s … obviously, that’s a big part of the book, but I think it’s also … I think people need to hear that process, but I want to start with something before that. One of the things that I have observed in my own life and in watching a lot of other people is that motivation has a tremendous amount to do with this.

John Jantsch: I’ll give you an example. I taught myself how to play the guitar when I was in junior high, and it wasn’t because I ever envisioned becoming a famous rock star. I saw it as a great … It turns out junior high girls love guitar players. That was a huge motivation for me to just take this thing on and do it myself. As silly as that example is, I think that that is probably the key to unlocking the whole thing. Isn’t it?

Allen Gannett: I mean this is one of the things that people sort of don’t realize. I think the reason why we see so many young people who seem to be very creative, it’s because their parents forced them. Right?

John Jantsch: Right, right.

Allen Gannett: That’s powerful [inaudible 00:09:37]. It’s Freudian. It’s developmental, whatever sort of psychological perspective you want to put on it, but over and over again we see that the idea of a stage parent is actually … plays a huge role in a lot of these young, creative lives. It’s a lot easier to be world-class by the time you’re 30 if you started when you were 3 than if you started when you were 25.

John Jantsch: Right, right, right. Yeah, I had to beg my parents to buy a used guitar, by the way. All right, so let’s talk about, then, the four laws because I do think that a lot of … there are definitely a lot of people, this is kind of ironic, a lot of people that are more left brain, and they need a process to be creative. I mean it makes total sense. You should pick up the bird, the book, I’m sorry, The Creative Curve.

Allen Gannett: And the bird.

John Jantsch: And the bird, to get really in-depth in this, but I’d like Allen to introduce his four laws.

Allen Gannett: Yeah. Basically, when we talk about creativity, there’s two types of creativity. There’s lower-case C creativity, and there’s upper-case C creativity. This is how academics differentiate them. Lower-case C creativity is just like creating something new. Upper-case C creativity is what most of us actually want to do, which is creating something that’s both new and valuable. Value is a subjective assessment, right? Creating something that we deem society to be valuable, well, people have to see it. They have to experience it. They have to deem it valuable, so there’s a bit of a circular phenomenon that happens.

Allen Gannett: The back half of the book deals with this sort of upper-case C creativity. How do you actually get this? How do you actually develop the right idea at the tight time? It turns out that we actually have a lot of really good science about what drives human preference. I explained it a lot more in detail in the book, but the short version is that we like ideas that are a blend of the familiar and the novel. They’re not too unfamiliar to be scary, because we’re biologically worried to fear the unfamiliar because we worry it might kill us, like if we went to a cave as a caveman that we’d never been in before versus a cave we’ve been in many times, but then we also … turns out we like things that are novel because they represent potential sources of reward. You can think about when we were hunter-gatherers why this was important.

Allen Gannett: These two seemingly contradictory ideas, our fear of the unfamiliar and our pursuit of the novelty, lead to this really elegant relationship where we like ideas that are a blend of the familiar and the novel. The first Star Wars, for example, was a Western in space. Right now, every city has a bunch of these sushi burrito places popping up. They’re just giant sushi rolls. They’re familiar but they’re novel. You see that this is a huge driver of human behavior, and so the four laws really explain how do you nail this timing?

Allen Gannett: The first law that I talk about is consumption. We talk about how creatives are always doing. They’re very active. There’s that annoying social media meme you might have seen, which is like, “90% of people consume, 9% engage, 1% create. #HUSTLE.” It’s not only stupid, but it’s also wrong because it actually turns out that, since familiarity is such an important part of the creative process, consumption, so you know what’s already out there, is actually a huge part of it, and so I talk about why and how.

Allen Gannett: Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer of Netflix, told me this wonderful story about how he started his career as a video store clerk who watched every single movie in the store. JK Rowling, when she was a kid, would close her bedroom door and just read book after book after book after book. The second-

John Jantsch: Right. I think the piece that maybe people are tripping up on is what I just heard you describe. It was intentional consumption.

Allen Gannett: Exactly, so it’s actually … What’s really interesting-

John Jantsch: It’s not just like, “Oh, I’m going to go on Facebook and see all the blah, blah, blah.” There’s intent in what you’re doing.

Allen Gannett: Yes, and it’s not just how much they consume, but it’s … exactly. It’s how they consume, and that goes into the second law, which is imitation. How these great creatives actually consume is in this way that’s very interactive. The best way you could summarize it is they’re imitating it.

Allen Gannett: I tell the story in the book about Ben Franklin and how we think of him as this great writer but, at the age of 18, he viewed himself as a terrible writer, probably because his dad told him so, again, this parent thing. He decided that he was going to start imitating some of the structures of articles he loved in a magazine called The Spectator. What you see is this sort of Mad Libification by these creative geniuses of other creative works where, instead of just reading a novel, they’ll outline, well, how is it structured? What’s the story arc?

Allen Gannett: Kurt Vonnegut, for his master’s thesis, literally created these charts showing the different story arcs of great novels, and this was one of the foundational things for him as a storyteller. You see that it’s not just that these great creatives consume a lot, and they do, but they also do it in a way which is much more interactive than we typically do and much more focused on imitation. That’s this-

John Jantsch: Yeah. Actually, a process that I’ve used for years in writing my books … I wrote a book called The Referral Engine, and so I’m looking for ideas on building community, and referrals, and different word-of-mouth things. I’ll read book that are unrelated to business, on math, on architecture. It’s amazing. When you go into it with that filter, I’m looking for ideas that I could apply to community building and referrals, and it’s amazing how the book is a whole different book in that [crosstalk 00:15:09]-

Allen Gannett: Oh, 100%. I mean I obviously … If you ever want to feel a lot of pressure, write a book on creating hits.

John Jantsch: Yeah, right.

Allen Gannett: It’s a lot of pressure, or write a book on creativity, and it has all this meta stuff to it. I mean, for me, it was like one of the things I, as a first-time author, was struggling with was the best way to go to switch between chapters. It’s just something I didn’t have a natural knack for, and so I went … ended up, as I was writing the book, using a lot of the methods in the book, and so going and seeing some of the different ways that other people did it. That helped give me the framework for realizing, okay, what are the different was I can do it? What do I like? What do I not like? How can I repurpose this in a way that fits my voice and my style versus, if I just kept sitting there looking at it and hoping an idea would hit me, I’d still be here, right, thinking how to end my chapters.

John Jantsch: All right, so I think we’re up to number three, creative [crosstalk 00:15:57]-

Allen Gannett: Okay, number three. Yeah, so number three I talk about in the book is that we think of these creative geniuses as these solo actors, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Oprah, but reality is, since there’s this social construct element to creativity, since it’s about what is valuable, you actually have to have a lot of different people involved, and I describe the different roles that you have to have in your creative communities, and there’s four that I talk about in the book.

Allen Gannett: Then the fourth and final law is all about data-driven iterations. I think we have this notion of the novelist who goes into the woods and writes their book in a writing cabin and, only once they write the end, period, do the come out. The reality is that, since these … The creatives who are the best at it realize that there’s this whole social construct element, that the relationship with their audience is so important that they are actually very focused on, early and often, getting feedback and then using that to iterate over and over again.

Allen Gannett: I talk about, in the book, everything from the movie industry to romance writers to … One of my favorite stories is I spent a day with the flavor team at Ben & Jerry’s who creates new flavors. That process, which is a culinary process, is shockingly data-driven. They literally do surveys and all this fascinating stuff. It’s not super expensive what they’re doing, they use a lot of email surveys, but it is data-driven.

Allen Gannett: I think that’s one of the big mistakes that aspiring creators have is that, oftentimes, aspiring creators are creating for themselves, and they’re not creating for their audience. The best creators are creating for their audience. Since they know that, they are much more likely to actually listen to their audience.

John Jantsch: Well, and it’s interesting. Over the last decade, I think that the adoption of blogging, wherever that is today, 10 years ago, I think some … there were a heck of a lot of authors that were iterating every day-

Allen Gannett: Completely.

John Jantsch: … because they were writing content that eventually made it into a book. I know I’ve done that numerous times, and I’ve seen a lot of other people that their blogs kind of blew up into books because of comments, and feedback, and the ability to say, “Oh, that resonated. I should go deeper there.” I think there are plenty of examples of a lot of books that became big hits started out as daily blogs.

Allen Gannett: Oh, 100%, and you see this, and they become … I mean Gary Vaynerchuk’s done a great job of this, right, just sort of getting community feedback, Tim Ferriss, obviously. You see this a lot of times. You’ll see these guys, they’ll … Even journalists will write an article for The New Yorker. It does really well. It goes viral. Then they’ll sell the book, and then they’ll sort of work through that.

Allen Gannett: The reality is that the best creative processes are messy, and gross, and involve lots of shades of gray, and all this stuff. I think we have this romantic notion. JK Rowling’s a great example. I mean the story about JK Rowling is she was on a train. She had the idea for Harry Potter. She started writing it on a napkin. First of all, she didn’t have a napkin. She didn’t have a pen. She was on a train. She had the idea for the character Harry Potter and some of his sidekicks, but then it took her five years to write the first book, five years. In one interview, she actually showed the interviewer the box of all 15 different versions of Chapter One she had written because she couldn’t figure out how she wanted to start the book, 15 different versions. This is not the story of her waking up one day with a multi-billion-dollar idea.

John Jantsch: No. Yeah, and then the process of selling that book was just as messy.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, totally. I interviewed, for the book, her first agent and her first publisher. I mean, that book, there was thought behind how to roll it out to the market. They were very mindful of how to do it.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Well, and the rest is history, of course, but you’re right. I mean I do think that we have a tendency in our culture, the social media, YouTube culture, to really kind of hold those ideas out there and think of the billions of other successes that we’ve never heard of that probably went through the same process. I mean they were successful in a different way at a different level, but we obviously all look at all of the stories that hit the one or two kind of social media viral hits.

Allen Gannett: Totally.

John Jantsch: Tell me a little bit about how this research that you’ve done has shaped or evolved your own business TrackMaven.

Allen Gannett: Oh, I mean it’s super interesting. One, it’s affected how I coach people. I think I always had confidence that people were generally underselling themselves when it came to their own talents and development, but writing this book, which took me even further on the side that natural-born talent doesn’t really exist, has made me, I think, a much more practical but also much more aggressive coach to my team where I think I really push people hard to get rid of those things they’ve put on themselves. I mean there’s these famous studies that were done in the ’90s where 86% of kindergartners tested at creative genius levels of creative potential, but I think it was like 16% of high school seniors, something in the teens.

Allen Gannett: Yeah, and it’s like … and you totally see this. There’s this entire social set of constructs we’ve put in ourselves, the social conditioning where we believe that we were meant to be X, and we can’t be Y, and it’s so, so, so, so, so much not real. It’s just in our heads. It’s what we’ve been told. It’s the result of middle-class parents telling kids to get their safe job, to be professional, whatever it is. I think it’s really dangerous, and so, for me as a manager and as a leader, I think I have become much more aggressive at trying to coach people out of that.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think that times have changed a bit, but a lot of high school kids, the creatives were the nerds. You know?

Allen Gannett: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Of course, now they’re running the world, but I think that actually … Somebody who was really … peer pressure stopped them from pursuing kind of an interest because of that. I think that’s the real shame-

Allen Gannett: Exactly.

John Jantsch: … in not kind of bringing this out as, hey, this is the cool kids or whatever we want to call it now, so it’s interesting, as I heard you talk about that, I wonder what the implications are just for hiring in general.

Allen Gannett: I think I tend to very much focus hiring around potential. I tend not to be … and this is obviously as a young CEO. I think, also, you just tend to be a little more experience skeptical because you also see the downsides of experience around people having their own cognitive biases around previous experience and, “This worked before, so I’m going to do that again.” I tend to think I’m much more potential-oriented. The result is we have a lot of managers who are sort of battlefield promotions, so to speak, where they’ve grown up in the organization, and I think that makes them … They know a lot of the context. They’re more loyal, all that sort of stuff. I think that’s probably the biggest change for me as a leader is just really, yeah, being willing to take more risks on who I hire.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I mean I think we need creativity out of every position, so I guess if you make that a part of the process where you’re going to, as you said, coach and teach a process of creativity or at least to bring out the creativity in everybody, then there isn’t any reason to necessarily just say, “Oh, you have a creative background.”

Allen Gannett: Exactly.

John Jantsch: Allen, tell people where they can get the book and find out more about TrackMaven and everything else you’re up to.

Allen Gannett: You can check out the book at thecreativecurve.com and anywhere books are sold. Check out trackmaven.com and allen.xyz for more on me.

John Jantsch: All right. Thanks, Allen. Hopefully, we’ll run into you out there in the world someday.

Allen Gannett: Bye.

Duct Tape Marketing

Mailing to New Customers and Managing Deliverability Risk

List size is an important metric for many marketers. It dictates the number of inboxes they have access to and can drive internal conversations around budgets, initiatives, and available resources. As a result, the same question is often repeated to our deliverability operations team:

How do we grow our list and mail to new users?

Today, I want to focus on the second half of that question: How do we mail to new users. It is important to understand that mailing to new email addresses comes with a unique set of challenges and pitfalls separate than those associated with general mailings. These are addresses that have never previously been included in your marketing campaigns and are inherently risky as a result. In short, brands should not forget that new users are strangers. Applying scrutiny to these addresses before considering them potential customers will do tremendous good toward protecting sender reputation.

Stranger Danger

Any new address can cause real harm to a mailing list as a potential spam trap, invalid contact, or unengaged user. To avoid reputation ramifications, the first thing a marketer should do is consider the motivation a particular user had for signing up for emails.

All acquisition channels come with their own unique drawbacks:

  • In-store sign ups may not have realized they were providing contact information for more than a simple receipt.
  • Shoppers seeking to collect on discounts or sign up incentives may not be interested in mailing content long term.
  • Form completion addresses may have simply been trying to get beyond the paywall or pop-up add blocking their view.

All are susceptible to improperly set user expectations, and the likelihood that users have supplied false, or inaccurate data is high. As such, no marketer should simply release a new address into the full scope of their email ecosystem.

Put Your Users to Work

Especially in the wake of new global privacy regulations like GDPR, implementing the correct procedures surrounding consent is critical for mailers. Implementing a confirmed opt in allows the user to do a portion of this work for you. A confirmed opt in requires further action from a user in order to confirm that they do wish to opt into receiving messages from your brand.

After signing up, a welcome email is triggered to these users prompting this confirmation. From there, the path is clear: Those who take action to complete this confirmation can be funneled into regularly scheduled campaigns – those who do not, should not.

Shortcuts Aren’t Worth the Risk

Inevitably, there will be senders who do not have the patience for organic list growth and development. From this vantage point, list purchasing and appending can sound very appealing.

But let’s be quite clear about this:

  • Email addresses added to mailing lists should *never* be purchased.
  • Email addresses that are acquired for mailing should *never* be from appended lists.

These strategies not only go against Oracle recommendations and myriad privacy regulations, but they are also guaranteed to negatively impact your sender reputation in the eyes of ISPs. Spam traps and invalid addresses will enter your mailing stream via these methods, and spam complaints, hard bounce rates, trap hits, and unengaged users will all increase as you attempt to contact them. Spam folder placement directly correlates with these negative metrics, and an inevitable blacklisting will further destroy your inboxing rates and overall standing in the eyes of ISPs.

Once lost, mailing reputation requires weeks of pristine sending to correct. Ask yourself: Is it worth it? Instead, stick to best practices, use a confirmed opt in for your users, and slowly release your new senders into your larger mailing campaigns. Your performance will be stronger as a result.

Learn how to achieve email deliverability that really delivers. Download Email Deliverability: Guide for Modern Marketers.

Email Deliverability Guide

Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

The Agency Partner Directory: How Agencies & Clients Work Better Together

In my experience working with and for agencies, what rises to the surface during times of challenge is as varied as the areas of expertise in that agency: staying up on current trends and technology, keeping a full pipeline of new business or building bigger client retainers, finding and keeping talent on-staff… the list goes on.

But one thing that comes up that may surprise those not familiar with our industry (or who have spent most of their time on the client-side)—a huge focus for agencies is finding fit.

Agencies & Clients Need to Find Fit

Whether that’s in terms of finding fit in budget size or project scope—or it’s seeking out internal stakeholders and client teams that can match temperament and work style—most client relationships are not much different from what makes any relationship successful.

What’s less surprising is that clients want the same thing.

As project owner, day-to-day contact for agency workers, or member of an internal team that’s dependent on an agency’s output—roles all of which I’ve filled—fit is what makes or breaks project or overall campaign success.

Clients want fit. Agencies want fit. There’s balance in the need.

We know that a mismatch in the relationship between an agency and a client, regardless of who is at fault, means an end to the work.

So what can Sprout do to connect the two?

A Two-Sided Equation With an X Factor

When we look at how we can help our varied set of customers level-up their social strategies and marketing campaigns, both agencies and businesses from the startup to the enterprise are looking for and can provide tools to help the other.

We’ve got the supply of agencies.

And our customers from the startup to the enterprise have the demand.

So how do they find each other? And how do they prioritize fit and getting to know each other before all else?

We hope to help answer these questions with the Agency Partner Directory: a resource for agencies to tell their story and be discoverable by potential clients.

The Agency Partner Directory is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes who want to:

  • Level up their social strategy.
  • Work with a partner on day-to-day management of social campaigns, using the full power of the Sprout Social platform.
  • Match with agencies who not only provide social media services and expertise, but a wide variety of marketing services, like content marketing, branding, SEO, paid social, and other digital marketing services.

Why Work With a Sprout Partner?

We know that clients are looking for the right fit and a level of trust. And all of our Sprout-certified partners are not only ready and willing to help them build better campaigns, but they have access to a host of resources and the full functionality of the Sprout platform to help keep their social strategy on the cutting edge.

So whether existing Sprout customers want to work with a trusted resource for their strategies outside of social, or a business wants to use Sprout but needs an agency with whom they can partner on strategy or day-to-day management—the Agency Partner Directory helps you find or get matched with a solution.

Check out our certified agency partners today.

And if you’re an agency interested in becoming a certified agency partner to be found by prospective clients, you can find out more information about the Agency Partner Program and reach out to us today.

This post The Agency Partner Directory: How Agencies & Clients Work Better Together originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Sprout Social