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Why Problem Solving Should Be The Only Value Proposition You Use

There’s more than one reason why people love brands like P&G, Warby Parker, and Apple.

But, can you guess what these three brands have in common?

They all solve consumer problems.

P&G invented a better way to mop with the Swiffer.

Warby Parker created affordable, stylish glasses.

Steve Jobs of Apple introduced the iPhone as a “smarter mobile device.”

These brands manufactured their own value propositions by solving problems. They are creative problem solvers.

In the spirit of these creative problem solvers, I’m going to analyze the concept of designing a value proposition by thinking outside the box with problem-solving.

But before we dig in, we first need to understand how we got to this point.

We used to live in a world where “marketing strategies” boiled down to bombarding audiences with messages about how your product was the best.

If that seems a bit simplistic to you, that’s because it was.

And that begs an obvious question: Did it actually work?

It absolutely did.

Why did it work? Well, it was largely because of the media channels that dominated consumer attention.

Television and radio promotion had a massive impact on the effectiveness of a brand’s marketing efforts. Television advertising alone accounted for 2% of the US GDP beyond 1950.

And if I had to point to one thing that made these kinds of marketing strategies so successful, it would be the culture of the traditional consumer.

Passive media channels were a staple of that culture. Television and radio were constantly interrupting the user experience to throw in some ads.

With no other options available, the traditional consumer got used to the idea of repetitive ads being a part of daily life.

But all of that changed once the Internet started gaining traction.

Embrace the nature of digital media

The marketing rules of engagement changed suddenly and completely.

The experience went from passive to interactive. The average person gained the ability to pick and choose what marketing content they consumed with a simple little search engine:

google homepage 2018

This transition would end up determining the future of digital marketing strategies and fundamentally changing the way businesses communicate with consumers.

And it’s not that surprising when you stop and think about it.

In a world where ads were the status quo, consumers didn’t have much of a choice.

But the moment consumers became aware of a life without ads was the moment traditional marketing began its quiet death.

It’s how we ended up here today with 615 million devices that use adblock and 59% of millennials skipping ads on YouTube.

estimated youtube ad revenue

With their 92 million consumers, Spotify has a large usership that doesn’t even mind paying extra for ad-free streaming services.

spotify monthly active users

Of course, all of this speaks to a bigger issue.

To put it bluntly, the modern consumer plays by a different set of rules.

They reject the idea that a jingle or a self-promotional TV spot should be enough to earn their business.

If you want their attention, you’ll need to give them something that traditional marketing strategies can’t: real value.

Real value is about problem-solving

At this point, some small business owners might say, “Isn’t my product/service value enough?”

Well, the answer is yes and no.

Real value isn’t about how often you self-promote. It’s about problem-solving.

Having a valuable product or service is important, and it always will be. There’s no doubt about that.

Buffer didn’t become Buffer just because they had a nice interface. They built a brand around offering a social media solution for consumers looking for an easier way to share content.

buffer value proposition

There’s a reason Buffer has 82,156 paying customers. They have a 19-person advocacy team that helps their customer solve problems.

In this highly competitive, ever-changing digital media landscape, you need to stand out before and after the sale.

One of the easiest ways to convey the problem you are solving is with content marketing.

content marketing costs less

Particularly on social media, content is the key to developing a relationship with consumers.

Audiences are in constant need of new content that’s worth their time.

And when you’re trying to solve problems with your content, there’s one approach that just about every small business can get behind:

Educational content.

It’s the cornerstone of most successful brand blogs, and that’s for good reasons.

Sites like NerdWallet pride themselves on their ability to provide users with this kind of content.

NerdWallet ranks for more than 1.3 million keywords in the personal finance advice industry.

nerd wallet credit card keyword

Here’s what NerdWallet’s VP of Content, Maggie Leung, explained during an interview:

“At NerdWallet we see content people as an investment.”

But getting here isn’t easy.

To begin content ideation to achieve NerdWallet-status, you have to understand your audience.

And, to better understand your audience, you’ll need to use tools and strategies to help generate content ideas.

Your content isn’t just convenient. It’s the backbone of online authority, and it gives you the opportunity to connect with consumers.

And that leads us to the most important reason to focus on educational content:

It effectively sells the brand without selling a product.

Think about the American Express OPEN forum.

american express open forum in 2018

Here’s what Courtney Colwell, Director of Content Marketing at American Express OPEN Forum, told Entrepreneur about the forum:

“It all stems from our mission of helping these businesses do more business. With our small business customers, their growth fuels ours. It’s a win-win if we can help them succeed.”

They have 109.9 million cards in circulation and a valuation of around $ 18.3 billion. They don’t need to worry about selling their brand. This forum does it for them.

Or, take Irene Pavico, a videographer and post-production professional, for example.

Irene created a course called THE iPhone Film School to help people get started with video marketing that only uses an iPhone.

the iphone film school

She explains that those who are just starting out with making videos may not want to invest in an expensive camera. So, she wants to show you how to start off with the technology that everyone has: an iPhone.

Irene’s approach shows that she understands her audience. She breaks down pain points they have when getting started with video marketing and then solves them.

As far as educational content goes, there are typically two categories that you can focus on.

The most common one that businesses tend to tackle is the tangible solutions category.

Tangible solutions are all about the here and now.

No matter what industry your business is in, your audience likely has plenty of issues and questions that they need help with.

That’s why consumers are 131% more likely to buy from a brand after they consume educational content.

content vs control

It may not be glamorous, but consumers need and appreciate actionable advice that helps them deal with these immediate problems.

Bux implemented a knowledge base, and it helped them improve their first call resolution by 18%.

bux support centre

It’s easy to follow, it doesn’t ask for anything from the reader, and it’s objectively valuable.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

While actionable, tangible solutions are important, there’s more to value-driven content than the immediate future.

Can you focus on solving specific problems for your audience? You absolutely can.

Is that all your content can do for them? It certainly isn’t.

The flip side of the coin is thought leadership.

If tangible solutions are all about the short-term, then thought leadership is all about the long-term.

This is the kind of content that you’ll see industry leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk post:

gary vee i choose optimism

Gary is a thought leader that connects with his fans to inspire loyalty. He’s worth more than $ 160 million, and he employs more than 700 people.

When you’re creating thought leadership content, you’re not just looking to solve someone’s problem today. You’re looking to address the source of that problem altogether.

Just take a look at how brands are becoming thought leaders by addressing changes.

SEMrush does a weekly chat on Twitter where they talk about the latest SEO trends.

semrush tweet

Or, consider Content Marketing Institute’s webinars.

content marketing webinars

With thought leadership, you layer educational content with a breakdown of marketing principles that small business owners should be adopting.

And don’t think that this is exclusive to digital media. Any business can benefit from thought leadership.

According to CEO Omar Sayyed, the tie company Ties.com saw a 30% growth in revenue over the last five years by earning trust with digital content.

Here is an example of one of their top-performing pieces of content on how to tie a tie.

how to tie a tie

Thought leadership doesn’t just pay attention to symptoms. It identifies the illness and helps your audience cure itself.

As you can probably imagine, this is the most difficult kind of content to create. It requires a strong understanding of industry-wide issues and, more importantly, how to solve them. But if you do it well, the results will be well worth the effort.

Of course, there’s more to problem-solving than just crafting blog posts.

You could create e-books and give them away in exchange for email newsletter sign-ups like Mike Gingerich does.

Or, you can build brand authority through your email list with help from your blog at the same time. After all, email marketing has a median ROI of 122%, which puts other marketing formats to shame.

Or, you can treat social media like an extension of customer support by focusing on one-to-one interactions and addressing customer issues directly.

KLM, Europe’s airline industry leader, used Facebook Messenger to increase customer interactions by 40%.

At the end of the day, your marketing strategy exists for one reason:

To convince people that they should do business with you.

And if you want to showcase just how valuable you are, you have to solve consumer problems more efficiently and more consistently than your competition.

Focus on understanding your audience

At this point, it’s pretty clear that treating marketing as an opportunity for problem-solving appeals to the needs of the modern consumer.

So far, I’ve only covered what that looks like in a general sense.

If you really want to get your hands dirty, you need to see what it looks like in action.

That’s why I’m going to take a look at three brands that have managed to create compelling, valuable marketing content.

More specifically, I’m going to analyze how their particular audiences dictated their marketing strategies.

Why? Because understanding your audience’s needs guarantees that your marketing content will be meaningful, impactful, and valuable to them.

Here’s how Seth Godin puts it:

“Trying to appeal to everyone is almost sure to fail, for the simple reason that everyone wants something different!”

So, how do you do this? My advice is to start by creating buyer personas.

You’ve probably already created them for your product or service. Now’s your chance to expand on them.

If you haven’t updated your buyer personas in a long time, you can use this template from Xtensio:

user persona template

Overall, there’s a pretty clear correlation between your attention to customers and the success of your business.

In fact, one study found that 65% of businesses that exceeded their lead and revenue goals had updated their buyer personas within the previous six months.

The more information you have, the more you’ll be in tune with the problems of your customers. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

What social media platforms do they like to engage with you on?

Who are the industry influencers that they actively pay attention to?

What problem does everyone in your audience struggle with on a regular basis?

General digital media marketing principles are important, but they aren’t worth much if you can’t apply them to your unique marketing situation.

Businesses that have used problem-solving effectively

In this next section, we’re going to look at some marketing strategies from successful businesses. But as we do so, keep in mind that the goal isn’t just to copy them.

Instead, use them as a reference point for your particular marketing strategy.

No matter what tactics you choose, your content still needs to appeal specifically to your audience and provide them with value at every opportunity.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some businesses that have found success with problem-solving.

Mint

If you’re not familiar with Mint, here’s what their elevator pitch might sound like:

Struggling to keep your finances in order? Use our service to stay organized, get back on track, or start saving up enough cash to buy a house.

mint homepage 2018

After the company started, it grew rapidly. They managed to acquire 1.5 million users in their first two years.

But marketing a service like this is actually a bit tricky.

After all, who couldn’t use more help keeping their finances in order? How do you make a marketing strategy that targets most of the population?

Mint came up with a solution: Market to their two types of users.

The first group is already relatively financial literate. They’re looking to build wealth.

The second group is trying to budget as efficiently as possible. They’re more interested in keeping their bank account in the green than anything else.

How can I tell that these are their two types of users?

Taking one look at their official blog tells me everything I need to know.

mint blog

These blog posts target the extremes of their buyer personas, and Mint appeals to both equally.

With most of their audience likely falling somewhere between those two extremes, it’s fair to say that Mint managed to effectively cover their bases without diluting their message.

As for the content itself, it focuses on tangible, actionable advice.

And that makes perfect sense when you consider the audience they’re speaking to. People looking for concrete financial advice won’t appreciate vague tips.

Someone who’s struggling to manage their finances wants a roadmap to get back on track, not a study on the growth of a Fortune 500 company:

mint life blog post

Mint’s content is a mix of blog posts, interviews, and infographics that target younger audiences who are beginning to manage their money.

Largely because of their blog posts, their SEO strategy drove 20% of their total site traffic.

Mint drives thousands of visitors from their budgeting templates and budgeting spreadsheets alone.

mint keyword traffic

So, what’s the lesson?

You shouldn’t just make your content relevant to your audience’s problems in general. To make it as effective as possible, you have to be sensitive to their particular situation.

Slack

slack homepage in late 2017

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the tech startup scene, you’ve probably heard people raving about Slack.

And it’s worth all the hype it’s receiving.

When you need a messaging app that prioritizes productivity and ease of use, it’s hard to find anything better (especially if you’re working with a remote team).

This is why they’re worth about $ 5.1 billion.

With all the tools and integrations they offer, it’s easy to see why their taglines are “be less busy” and “where work happens.”

In fact, instead of focusing on content marketing, Slack aims to rank for keywords related to their integrations.

slack integrations keywords

With that in mind, you can already start to see what the Slack audience looks like.

You can picture a startup C-level executive looking for a credible solution to her workplace productivity issues.

Slack’s onboarding process is really where the magic happens. Slack has a deep insight into what their audience needs and they create a unique approach to onboarding.

slack onboarding

Right off the bat, you’ll see content that they’ve designed to improve overall workplace efficiency.

Slack even has articles for advice on naming channels and email templates for introducing Slack.

moving to Slack

Beyond that, Slack also opts to provide value with updates about their own product.

get the slack app email onboarding

And, admin users can opt-in for weekly summaries of activities.

slack weekly summary

They also offer instant notifications.

slack unread message sent email

Slack also keeps a blog with product updates, integration announcements, and tips for improving productivity.

The design their blog posts to ensure that the audience can use Slack to the best of their ability.

slack blog post

For them, it’s not about selling the product as much as it is about improving the user experience.

So, what’s the moral of the story?

Support consumers whether or not they’ve spent their hard-earned money on you. Always provide solutions to their problems as they develop.

Dollar Shave Club

At this point, you’re probably tired of hearing about how impressive the marketing strategies of Dollar Shave Club are.

dollar shave club homepage 2018

But acquiring 12,000 customers in their first two days is a little too impressive to ignore.

There are plenty of digital media marketing experts who are fascinated with this brand, and I’m one of them.

Why? Well, mostly because it’s a success story that proves that sound marketing tactics, regardless of the audience in question, can help your business excel.

To put it simply, Dollar Shave Club excels in their ability to create a unique consumer experience in an industry that desperately needs it.

And their audience, which is primarily men looking for a stylish, playful, and witty brand, can benefit from the content on the Dollar Shave Club blog.

dollar shave club blog

The articles have clear, eye-catching headlines, and they’re full of value — all while maintaining that unique DSC brand voice.

They even send personalized emails based on previous purchase history.

dollar shave club personalized emails

If you take nothing else from Dollar Shave Club’s example, remember that your ability to create compelling customer experiences is just as important as the advice you give in your content.

It’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it.

Conclusion

I get it.

Digital media marketing can be a bit overwhelming.

But there’s no getting around the fact that you need to stand out in your industry if you want your business to stay competitive.

The age of traditional marketing is over. Don’t waste time trying to plug holes in the Titanic.

Whether you’re new to the game or you’re trying to rebuild your marketing strategy, focus on the big picture: problem-solving.

Value drives sales. And if you want to increase sales, you’re going to have to find new and exciting ways to offer consumers more value.

With your blog content, be sure to address the problems of today as well as underlying issues that will lead to problems in the future. This will help you stay relevant while also establishing yourself as a thought leader.

In order to solve the problems of your audience, you need to understand your audience. You need to determine exactly who they are so that you can address the specific problems that they have.

And as you think through your strategy for solving the problems of your users, look to innovative brands for ideas. Just be sure to make each strategy your own and adapt them to your audience.

How have you focused on problem-solving in your marketing strategy?

The post Why Problem Solving Should Be The Only Value Proposition You Use appeared first on Neil Patel.


Blog – Neil Patel

15 Pinterest Statistics Every Marketer Should Know in 2018

For its dedicated users, Pinterest acts as a place to research, learn and shop. They’re more likely to spend more after seeing a promotion and they plan twice as early than people using different platforms.

The user base may not be as large as Facebook but the platform acts more like a discovery and save tool than a social interaction network. This niche market makes it a dream for marketers to target at different points of the buying process.

Strong imagery goes a long way for Pins. Its cascading feed heavily favors Pins that are at an image aspect ratio of 2:3 to 1:3.5. For businesses, optimizing your website and existing Pins for search are the first steps in Pinterest marketing.

But what else should you know? We’ll share 15 statistics that will help hone your marketing efforts.

1. 40% of Pinners Have a Household Income of $ 100k+

That’s a lot of buying power. While 40% of Pinners have a household income of $ 100k+, 50% make $ 50k+. Pinners are ready to spend and willing to spend more than their non-Pinning counterparts. We’ll go more into that statistic later on.

2. 29% of US Adults Use Pinterest

Of the other social networks, it’s fourth in popularity, behind YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. However, the metric has been slowly climbing.

pew research social demographic

According to Pinterest’s own demographic data, more than half of Pinners are international and more than half of new signups are men. This means that even if US audiences aren’t gaining as quickly, there’s potential for an international audience to take off.

3. 1 of 2 Millennials Use Pinterest Every Month

The tech-savvy generation is all about Pinterest. For adults aged 18–34, or the millennial generation, half of them use Pinterest at least once a month.

This age group is special because it marks a lot of adult milestones. People are graduating from college, working at their first job, having relationships, getting married and having kids. There’s a lot to be planned and Pinterest is how the plans get done. In fact, 86% of millennial Pinners use the network to plan for life’s moments.

Since they also have some disposable income and spending power, it goes without saying that they’re buying for these milestones. Pinterest is so crucial that they spend 17% more than a millennial who doesn’t use Pinterest.

For brands, this means that educational content can perform well. Products that are related to these milestones will also receive a lot of impressions. For example, tips on shopping for a new home or useful kitchen appliances target this age group.

Bank of America uses Pinterest to create an online resource for people to be more financially literate. Their Boards address all the life milestones from wedding planning to having a new money. The Pins are tagged with their branded #BetterMoneyHabits hashtag and lead to educational content.

4. 93% of Active Pinners Said They Use Pinterest to Plan for Purchases

With 200 million monthly users, 93% is a lot of people who want to purchase something. It makes a good business case for advertising on Pinterest.

Create content for various stages of the purchase process. Forty percent of Pinners reached were new to the brand advertising on the network. Create some educational content, share information about your product and then retarget them once they’re familiar with your brand.

5. 50% Have Made a Purchase After Seeing a Promoted Pin

Pinterest’s Promoted Pins are naturally part of a user’s feed. Scattered among pins from Pinners they follow, are Pins that brands have created to promote to a certain demographic. Half of Pinterest’s users have purchased something after seeing a Promoted Pin in their feed.

To take advantage of this, you need to first create Pins that are relevant to the audience you’re targeting. The more specific and useful the Pin is, the better. For example, you don’t want to advertise your chocolate to those who are searching for recipes. Better, you want to target people who are looking for sweet gift ideas or looking up decadent chocolate recipes.

6. Nearly 85% of Pinterest Searches Happen on Mobile

Pinners love their phones. When looking for recipe ideas or tips for styling a home, Pinterest is the first option and 85% of those searches are through the app. When a search result page first comes up, the top bar will list topics that are often searched with the first set of terms. It offers users more in-depth exploration.

Content from verified websites appear higher in Pinterest’s search results. And relevant hashtags serve as another search modification tool.

For brands, this means that understanding Pinterest’s SEO process is key to showing up in search results. Your descriptions should actually describe the Pin and what the Pinner is looking for. Enabling Rich Pins on your site also means that Pinners can receive even more content when they open a Pin.

Quality images and a high aspect ratio are key to getting your Pins noticed. You want their thumb to pause because the Pin caught their eye. If text is absolutely needed, a brief title or description of the Pin should be more than enough.

IKEA uses its Boards to address different audience demographics. In its “Small Space Living” Board, they have Pins that help apartment dwellers figure out how to maximize their space. The above Pin has keywords like “small outdoor space” and their product name to help with search results.

7. Top Category in the US is Art, Art Supplies & Hobbies

Forty-eight percent of Pinners save Pins in the Art, Art Supplies and Hobbies category. Unsurprisingly, the second most popular category at 47% of Pinners is Flowers, Food, Drinks and Gifts.

Statistic: Most popular Pinterest categories in the United States as of February 2017 | Statista

The top two categories alone span a lot of industries. Brands can use this to their advantage by seeing where they fit in with Pinners’ interests. If your product isn’t directly in the hobbies category, you could create adjacent content.

Wayfair sells a wide variety of items online. While they do use a lot of lifestyle photos for their furniture products, they also sell smaller items. This Pin demonstrates a quick DIY project that makes use of several of their products. Clicking through takes you to a list of all the involved products for an easy shopping experience.

8. 78% Say It’s Useful to See Content from Brands on Pinterest

Unlike other networks where branded content has become exhausting, 78% of Pinners welcome content from brands. Furthermore, 66% buy something after seeing a brand’s Pins. Remember, Pinners use the network to research and plan. It makes sense that Boards are created for shopping purposes.

The beauty of Pinning content is that every Repin means more eyes on your content. And if Pinners are researching, they’re going back and looking through their Pins. Your content gets to live on the network for far beyond the initial Pin. If your Pin is Buyable, it makes the shopping experience more seamless for the customers.

Evergreen content is content that can be useful beyond its publishing date. For Carnival Cruise Line, that means Pins like cruise fashion, best bites in a destination city and tips for planning a cruise wedding are useful year round.

9. Pinterest Delivers $ 2 in Profit per $ 1 Spent on Advertising

Pinterest isn’t just for saving DIY ideas for the bedroom. It’s also for saving product ideas for future purchases. Fifty-five percent of Pinners say they use Pinterest to shop for and find products. This is great news for advertisers who sell products.

Pinterest’s advertising platform includes a few different goals like increase brand awareness, increase in-store sales and boost website traffic. You can also easily promote a Pin that’s already performing well.

Baileys promoted one of their popular Pins about a Baileys sundae recipe. It appeared among drink recipes. The timing of it is also perfect since summer weather calls for an ice cream sundae.

10. Pinners Spend 29% More on Retail Than Those Who Don’t Use Pinterest

Retailers rejoice. These Pinners are also 39% more likely to be active retail shoppers. It’s likely that those who plan ahead of time on Pinterest are also more informed customers. They spend after researching, which could make them more dedicated customers.

In fact, 90% of Pinterest’s users say that the network helps them decide what to purchase. That’s a whopping amount of people who are looking to purchase things. To make it easy for potential customers to research you, install the Save button on your website and optimize your product pages for Product Pins. Having Product Pins allow customers to see the price along with a short description directly in Pinterest.

Don’t assume that it’s all online shopping either. Forty-one percent of Pinners who shop in-store also use Pinterest while shopping. If they’re shopping for products, it makes sense that they would reference Pinterest to make sure they’re finding the correct ones.

11. Pinners Plan Twice as Early Than People on Other Platforms

Pinners like to create Boards for their next trip, the baby shower they’re planning and gift ideas for their spouse. In fact, they like to plan far ahead of time. Pinterest data states this being twice as early than people who don’t use Pinterest.

In the cycle of content production and advertising planning, it means you need to be looking several months ahead for major holidays. Best gifts for moms are Pinned starting in February.

pinterest planner

For businesses who want to target around special days, Pinterest offers a Possibilities Planner that shares a calendar for planning and content ideas for each one.

12. 3 in 4 Travel Pinners Say Travel Pins from Brands Are Useful

Travel is a big category on Pinterest. Boards are created for new trips and for general research purposes. Adding collaborators to the Boards make group trip research easy.

Seventy-five percent of travel Pinners find brand content useful. And 49% of US travelers who spend $ 1000 or more on travel are on Pinterest. That’s a good group of people who are willing to pay for the right experiences.

Your brand may not be a travel brand like a cruise ship but chances are that you overlap into the travel audience. For example, a coffee shop can Pin the best coffee shops in their city for tourists who are traveling to their area. Or a cooking class can advertise to those who are interested in food and travel.

Road Affair is a travel blog written by a globe-trotting couple. Their Pins vary from travel guides to travel inspirations. The Antigua guide shows up in search results for anyone who’s searching for the specific term. But the Board that it rests on is a collaborative one that its 116k+ followers can find easily, too.

13. 70% Search, Save or Click on on a Pin

Instead of a passive consumption of media, Pinterest users are active on the site. Data shows 70% of Pinners will search, save or click on a Pin.

For businesses, this means that putting in the effort of properly describing a Pin and Pinning it to the correct Board pays off. If your goods or services match the more popular categories, then a Pinterest strategy should be incorporated into your marketing.

14. More Than 14 Million Articles are Pinned Daily

Rich Pins give more information than regular Pins. Articles contain publisher and author information, Product Pins contain pricing and Recipe Pins have all the ingredients listed for you.

Because these Rich Pins contain more information and are from verified websites, they’re more likely to be shared in the network. In one day, 14 million articles are Pinned. If you have a business blog, take a moment to optimize it for an Article Pin.

15. 7.53% of Referral Traffic Came From Pinterest

Clicking on a link from one social network registers it as social referral traffic on the site you visit. Because of its long history and large network, Facebook is usually at the top of all social referral traffic. But from 2016 to 2017, Facebook’s traffic dropped by 25.80% and was replaced by networks like Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.

shareaholic social network

Pinterest had a 27.49% increase in social referral traffic from 2016 to 2017. For a site that exists to collate ideas from other sites, this growth makes sense. Paired with an internationally growing user base and more advertising opportunities being made available, we should expect even more referral traffic growth.

In Conclusion

Pinterest users are dedicated shoppers, savers and planners. With great visual content, brands can put their advertising dollars to work and target customers who are receptive to branded content. Even if you’re not ready to Pin everyday, you can still make steps to optimize your website and welcome Pinners.

We’d love to hear from you – are you on Pinterest? What has your brand’s experience been like?

This post 15 Pinterest Statistics Every Marketer Should Know in 2018 originally appeared on Sprout Social.


Sprout Social

In-House vs. Hiring an SEO Professional: Which Path Should You Choose?

In-House vs. Hiring an SEO Professional: Which Path Should You Choose? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Search Engine Optimization is an essential part of the marketing mix today – few businesses can afford to ignore or abdicate this tactic. If you have a well-optimized website, and a content-driven SEO strategy, you are guaranteed to improve your rankings. Yes, guaranteed. 

Implementing a sound SEO strategy isn’t tough, but you need to do it right, which begs the question, “who should run and manage the SEO side of your business?”

Staying In-House vs. Choosing a Professional

It all comes down to the needs of your company. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s likely that one of your biggest pain points is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. There are few business owners who have the time to create content consistently while keeping up with day-to-day tasks of the company. It’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to kick off and manage an in-house SEO program.

While ongoing SEO tasks should be in every entrepreneur’s wheelhouse, it’s likely they’ll require outside professional help as well to ensure the program is successful.

Don’t believe me? Here is just a handful of the many tasks that should be considered for an effective SEO plan:

  • Blog posts – at least two/month, but ideal 4-8/month
  • Social media posts – 50-200 posts/month across major social media platforms
  • Guest blog posts – Occasional for relevant third-party sites
  • Ongoing reputation and citation management
  • Ongoing backlink analysis
  • Email marketing
  • PPC advertising
  • Marketing automation for lead capture and remarketing

That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the numerous tasks that need to be taken care of for an impactful SEO strategy.

Ignoring Google altogether is no longer an option. Business owners need to sit down with the people in their organization and decide if they are going to take on these tasks themselves, hire a permanent role in-house to dedicate to this or seek help from an agency.

This isn’t always an easy decision. As a first step, I’d recommend identifying your website goals and SEO budget. Consider meeting with an SEO expert to weigh in on what is possible within your budget so that you can properly set expectations. Keep in mind, the dollars you allocate to SEO are an investment, not an expense.

Once you have a good understanding of your budget and goals, you need to decide between staying in-house and going with an agency.

Why I’d recommend agency over in-house

For small businesses, I recommend going with an agency.because you don’t have any training or management responsibilities, and it is often the most cost-effective option, provided you find an agency that follows best practices and delivers consistent results. Business owners must do their due diligence to find the right SEO partner.

There are many reasons why I think going with an agency is the best option, but one is that when you hire an agency, you’ll have an SEO expert who will outline his process and strategy. He’ll have experience working with other companies and dealing with challenges in real-time. These experts are forced to stay on top of their game by monitoring SEO and Google updates on a daily basis. If you hire a person in-house, you’ll never know if they’re doing what they’re supposed to do, because SEO isn’t your area of expertise, it’s there’s.

Additionally, agencies take a team-based approach and are able to help you with a variety of things including content generation (which isn’t always in an in-house person’s wheelhouse). Working with an agency will also give you access to premium SEO, social media, and tracking tools that you would likely not justify spending money on if it was out of your own business’s pockets.

How to choose the right agency

There are many ways to screen an SEO agency before engaging with one. It’s important to ask for proof. Unfortunately, many companies misrepresent and their achievements and don’t practice what they preach. To make sure you’re getting the answers you need, below is a list of common SEO questions you should be asking:

  • Have you done SEO for a business like mine before?
  • What references can you provide?
  • Can I see your recent case studies?
  • What is the primary metric on which you focus your SEO? – Look for customer leads, sales, and conversions.
  • What can you tell me about your approach to link building? – Look for quality over quantity.
  • When will I begin to see results? – SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Expect initial results within 4-6 months.
  • What type of marketing or SEO-related certifications do you have?
  • How much does SEO cost? Expect to spend a minimum of $ 1000/month for basic local SEO services. Most legitimate SEO companies will charge between $ 2000-$ 5000/month.

That’s my two cents. You can absolutely find quality SEO professionals to hire in-house, but over the years, I’ve seen small businesses find much greater success going the agency route.

If you’re implementing an SEO program in your small business, did you hire in-house or hire an agency? Why?


Duct Tape Marketing

6 Articles CMOs Should Read This Weekend

Since this past Tuesday was a holiday here in the states, we did not run our normal Tuesday CMO Corner post. Allow me to try and make up for that absence. 

Here's 6 articles I think CMOs should read this weekend:

How The CMO Can Leverage AI Internally And Externally

There’s no doubt that technology is changing faster than ever before. At the heart of that in the business setting is marketing, which is becoming a driving force behind putting that new technology into action to reach out to customers and make sure a company is communicating in the right way. One of the biggest changes in the tech and marketing world is artificial intelligence, which will play a major role in the coming years.

Read the full article on Forbes

Five must-knows if you want to become a chief marketing officer

Far from being the "coloring in department," responsible for making people want to buy products, marketing now has a broader remit than ever. And as industries are ever more disrupted by start-ups that think differently, brands and their guardians – the chief marketing officers (CMOs) – have an ever-harder task of keeping up with trends and working out what consumers want from them. Here are five things to know about what the job involves now for aspiring CMOs.

Read the full article on CNBC.

The CMO Was Never Really Dead

Over the past several years, you’d be hard pressed to find an article about the role of the CMO without the mention of its demise in the modern marketing world. While it’s true there’s been plenty of concern around the value and impact of the CMO on business, largely because marketing impact has been woefully hard to measure to date, surely that’s not a basis for the brash assumption that the role was entirely on its way out the door?

Read the full article on Huffington Post.

Former Microsoft CMO On The Biggest Challenges Facing CMOs And Marketers Today

This just in… the state of marketing has changed. I know you're shocked, right? I figured I'd let you in on that little secret in case you were away or asleep for the past… 3-5 years or so. Let's face it, marketing hasn’t just changed. It’s seen a radical, seismic shift. Technologies from AI and machine learning to mobile messaging and live content have reshaped how we connect, share, shop and make decisions as consumers.

Read the full story on Forbes.

Google goes after mobile native advertising with new AdSense formats

Google is plugging the hole that has remained a key weakness in mobile advertising: native ads. On Wednesday, the company announced the launch of native ads for all AdSense publishers. AdSense native ad formats include in-feed, in-article and matched content. All can be customized to match the look and feel of the publisher’s mobile sites. Publishers can use any or all of these ad categories on their sites.

Read the full story on Marketing Land

Marketers Still Have Room to Grow Personalization Efforts

Personalization has been a big part of marketing discourse since the advent of digital marketing (and even a bit before). Now, with access to more customer data and more marketing technology than ever, brands are able to achieve truly unnerving levels of personalization. The question remains though, are marketers actually reaching their full personalization potential, or are they wasting resources on ineffective tactics? 

Read the full story on DM News

**Bonus Read**

Customer Experience (CX) is at or near the top of every CMO and marketer the world over. But as important as delivering the best CX possible is it doesn't need to be complicated. 

Download the aptly-titled Customer Experience Simplified to discover how to provide customer experiences that are managed as carefully as the product, the price, and the promotion of the marketing mix.

Image: Pexels


Oracle Blogs | Oracle Marketing Cloud

Getting into the Flow: How and Why All Profit-Minded Marketers Should Document User Flows

In the zone. Feeling it. In the groove. Zeroed in. A state of flow.

We’ve all been there (hopefully) at some point in our lives. It’s almost magical. When it all comes together, and everything slides effortlessly from point A to point B. Athletes, writers, speakers, artists, chefs, doctors, musicians, teachers.

And users…if you’ve done your job properly.

The “flow” in this case is the free and easy path a user (i.e. your customer) takes on your website to do something: make a purchase, sign up, download, subscribe, or whatever. They also want it to be effortless.

Also known as the user journey, the flow must reflect their needs and their preferred route. Not yours. You have to put yourself in their shoes.

Flow Interrupted

Think about a time when a website felt clunky, confusing, or downright unfriendly. There you were trying to do something – get information, buy a product, download a case study – and you couldn’t get it done.

The link wasn’t where you expected it. They asked for details you felt were unnecessary. There was no form or button. It all felt counterintuitive.

That’s flow interrupted. It’s like slamming into a brick wall.

That business designed that page with themselves – not you – in mind. Big mistake. Why? Because you most likely bounced. Left. Bolted for greener pastures on a more user-friendly site.

Had they given any thought to user flow, they would have identified and removed those obstacles for you. Blown up that brick wall.

Instead, they’re left wondering why their conversion rate is so damn low.

The Modern Marketer

Your job is to get the right product in front of the right people at the right time. That product may be a physical object, or a service, or a lead magnet like an infographic, ebook, white paper, or email newsletter. Doesn’t matter.

We live in a multi-channel marketing ecosphere. There’s analog (the real world: billboards, flyers, radio and television spots, direct mail) and digital (everything online: organic search, PPC, social media, email). Much of your analog and all of your digital efforts are probably aimed at getting them to your virtual porch.

When they do arrive at your site, how often are they ready to commit (buy or sign up)? If you answered “rarely”, ten points for Gryffindor.

You need to get them through the door and guide them down the corridor to the sale. But here’s the catch: there’s more than one door.

User flows allow you to give them everything they need to make it down their corridor without hitting any walls or dead ends.

To get started, you need to identify their entry point.

Step 1 – The Many Doors of Arrival

Think about a house. If you were giving directions to someone entering a huge mansion on how to find your study (you live in a palatial estate in this example, just because), a lot would hinge on where they come in, right?

Front door. Back door. Sliding door in the media room. Cellar window. Through the vents. It makes a difference.

The same is true for visitors to your website. Users can arrive via a number of different avenues:

  1. Organic search
  2. PPC
  3. Social Media
  4. Email
  5. Direct Link
  6. Referral Link

Depending on their point of entry, they’ll have different wants, needs, and goals. Once you determine the door, you next need to consider the objective.

Step 2 – The Point of it All

You have goals. And so do your visitors. Sometimes they align perfectly, and sometimes you need to find the common ground between them. The trick is to not let your objective take precedence over theirs.

magic-happens-shared-goals
Typically, a business goal is to get the sale, or get the contact details, or get someone to sign up for something.

Think about what you want them to do, of course, but also consider what they want. The user goals are an equal member in this partnership. You want the sale. They want a solution to a problem or to fill a need or desire they have.

That is, eventually they want a solution or to fill a need. Depending on how they arrive, their immediate needs may be very different. Each channel gives you hints as to their intentions, their familiarity with your brand, and what they’re after on this visit.

The Direct Route

A user arriving via a direct link – either entering your URL into their browser, or clicking on a bookmark – is usually after whatever it is you’re selling. They know you already, they probably purchased in the past, and they’re looking for more. Perfect.

Your goal – make a sale – and their goal – make a purchase – are in total agreement. Your user flow here might be a simple homepage > product page > cart > confirm > thank you.

To knock down walls for them, you need to ensure your homepage has clear and visible links to your product and/or category pages, that each product page has an obvious “Add to Cart” button, and that your checkout procedure is fast, easy, and frictionless.

But what about someone coming in the organic door?

The Organic Route

They don’t know you. They may be on a fact finding mission. They may (and probably do) have tons of questions, concerns, and reservations. You’re just one SERP link of many.

Using the direct user flow here would be disastrous. They’re not ready for that.

Their door from the SERP may have them arrive on your homepage, or a special landing page. But then what? What do they want and need most at this stage?

Your ultimate goal stays the same: make the sale. But their goal is quite different in this flow. They want info. Answers. Evidence.

In order to get the conversion down the line, your goal and their goal must intersect, so your objective at this point should be to wipe out any hesitation they may have about you and your brand.

Include clear details about yourself, links to your About and Contact page, FAQs, social proof in the sidebar, and more. Put yourself in their shoes. What do they need to feel better about doing business with you?

The organic user flow might be SERP link > special welcome page > email subscription, or SERP > homepage > about > blog > contact form.

Knock down walls. Keep them moving forward.

PPC door? They want more information of that particular product or service, and a quick way to purchase it. Referral link door? They likely want at least a bit more background on you and your company.

Each arrival channel has its own set of unique wants, needs, and typical objectives. How do you find them?

Step 3 – Ask and Ye Shall Receive

You ask questions. Lots of them.

Think about visitors arriving from each avenue and ask yourself:

  • What needs, wants, desires, or pain points do they have? Why?
  • What are they most looking for in a solution? What features matter most to them?
  • What questions might they have about the product or service? What hesitation or concern might they have? What separates you from the competition?
  • What do they need to propel them to action?
  • What is the emotion driving them?

To find the concrete details, look to your existing customers. Ask them, interview them, survey them. Get the information, then craft user flows that deliver what they need at the right moment. That’s the only way to successfully nudge visitors down each hallway.

The trick is to close the gaps, the missing information, at exactly the moment when they need it, and to avoid throwing anything else at them. Too much is as bad as too little.

Be clear, highlight benefits over features, offer evidence to support your claims and value props, and make it easy. Ridiculously easy. Each step should naturally guide them to the next one.

Step 4 – Put it All Together

You’ve got the entry point, their immediate objective, and answers to their most pressing questions and needs. Time to get creative.

Document each user flow so you can see it from start to finish.

A user flow consists of individual pages where something takes place (they click a link, or submit a form, or download, or add to cart, or whatever).

On every page, at every stage, they see and do something. It’s your job to determine what they need to see in order to get them to take the necessary action. A page may have more than one “next step”, and each one should be mapped out. Focus on the user, their needs, and how they may react to every step.

State Diagrams

You could sketch each step using state diagrams. These represent each page with two simple details: what the user sees (above the line), and what the user does (below the line).

flow-journey
State diagrams boil it down to its essence, and make a streamlined flow for any user arriving via any door. As a marketer, your task is to make the “sees” as dynamic, engaging, and convincing as possible to get the user to “do”.

Ask the questions. Find the answers. Guide them.

Stacked Flows

Basic user flows don’t automatically get you to the end goal: the sale. To do that, you may have to start stacking flows on top of each other.

A user arriving via an infographic you shared on Facebook may have a social media > landing page > email subscription flow. Nothing wrong with that…but the number of people on your email list doesn’t pay the bills.

So stack that flow. Once you have someone’s details and (more importantly) permission to contact by email, they enter a second flow beneath that one:

Receives email > visits promotion landing page > purchase.

The stacked flow here includes the social media acquisition flow, and the nurture flow. Together, they keep the user goal in mind at all times, but eventually leads them to your main goals…the sale, business growth, and more revenue.

User flows are tiered. The first layer may get them to sign up or share their contact details, which brings them to the second layer, where you hope to make a sale. That’s stacked flows at work, and it allows for your goal and their goal to intersect as needed.

Monitor and Manage

Once you’ve created and implemented a user flow, you can work to optimize it with A/B testing (using a tool like Optimizely) and/or real user feedback (get people to try your website while you literally watch over their shoulder…does it work for them? Does it seem intuitive? A service like UserTesting can connect you with testers if you don’t have anyone you can ask).

Google Analytics provides a visual Users Flow report under Audience on the Reporting tab. It provides visitor data – by source, country, language, behavior, advertising, social, and more – and how they navigated through your site.

users-flow-report

The green boxes are pages on your site, the curved grey lines are the movement between them, and the red lines shows how many users left from that page. The first column will change depending on your selected option (this screenshot is using Source).

Discover exactly how visitors are interacting with your site, and whether they’re hitting dead ends or unnecessary roadblocks. Blow up those walls.

Identify bottlenecks, pages with high exits rates, and pages that should be directly linked based on user behavior. What do the flows tell you? What do users want that you’re not currently providing?

Compare the actual flows that exist with your documented user flows. Do they correspond? Let your users guide you on this.

Documenting user flows can help you build a website that works for all visitors, regardless on which door they come in. It puts you in the mind of your customers, blowing up walls and creating the clear pathways they want to follow. Get them from Point A – arrival – to Point B – conversion – by proactively giving them what they need when they need it.

Use flows for onboarding, navigation, design, and virtually every other decision about your onsite marketing. They’re the ones walking down the corridor.

What do they want/need at each stage? What do you need them to do? How can you gently nudge them that way? Answer those questions, and you’re primed for success. A straightforward, frictionless user flow means satisfied users, more conversions, and a bigger bottom line.

Have you documented your user flows? What tips, tricks, and tools did you use? Leave your comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

SaveSave

95% Of Your Churn Should be Ignored. Here’s Why

When it comes to customer dissatisfaction, Spirit Airlines has consistently been the forerunner in the airline industry. Even in the recent travel report published by the American Customer Satisfaction Index it had the lowest score, much below the average benchmark.

Having said that, you’d expect those numbers to reflect on the company’s growth rate, right?

Wrong. Despite the mounting discontent among its customers, Spirit was the second most profitable airline company in 2015, and its growth rate is far from plateauing.

So what happened here?

Well, all those customers who were “dissatisfied” with Spirit’s poor service were still opting to travel on Spirit, as their deciding factor wasn’t the quality of the service, but the ticket fares. Spirit knows this, and keeps giving customers precisely what they want – nothing more, nothing less.

Numbers can be deceptive; and many times, they don’t necessarily speak the truth. If you’re taking numbers at face value, without digging deeper and getting to the bottom of it all, then you’ll most probably get blindsided.

And in the case of churn, it couldn’t be truer.

It’s well-known that churn is of two basic types: voluntary and involuntary.

While involuntary churn occurs when payments fail due to expired credit cards or any similar reason, voluntary churn predominantly occurs when a customer doesn’t receive the value that they had expected to receive from your product.

The solution to involuntary churn is pretty straightforward – a smart dunning mechanism in place can tackle most of the payment failure scenarios. It’s voluntary churn that needs a bit more thinking through.

And that’s what this post is about – effectively handling (not reducing/mitigating) voluntary churn.

Put simply, should you try to get back every one of those two groups of churned customers?

The Churned Customers Worth Fighting For

First off, not all users who choose to leave your product would’ve been good customers to your business in the long run. Not all of them would’ve found a perfect fit with your product. Peter Fader puts it well:

“Not all customers deserve your company’s best efforts. And despite what the old adage says, the customer is most definitely not always right. Because in the world of customer centricity, there are good customers…and then there is everybody else.”

The “everybody else” mentioned above are whom Lincoln Murphy refers to as “Bad Fit” customers. According to him, if a customer neither receives value from you immediately, nor in the future (under realistic assumptions), then those are the ones who’d come under this category.

And when a Bad Fit customer leaves you, it is, in fact, good churn. And spending your limited resources in bringing them back will be nothing less than futile.

Then there are customers for whom you — apart from delivering immediate value — will be able to deliver future value, in a particular timeframe. Lincoln calls them “Stretch” customers, and these are the ones whom you can strive to get back, provided the stretch is worth it.

Filtering out the 5%

A freemium model is infamous for papering over the cracks, by showing a huge number of sign-ups, and concealing the actual count of the right, engaged customers (again, numbers can be deceptive).

For instance, Chargebee also caters to the early-stage startups, and a majority of the churned customers left because they were shutting down their business. Here there would be no point trying to retain them, and this will again get classified as good churn.

So it’s our job to dig through the fluff and identify the churn that matters. By experience, we’ve learned that those Stretch customers account for only about 5% of the churn.

And to identify that 5%, we implemented a top-down approach, with three major activities:

  1. Capturing the ‘right’ data from the people who’re leaving
  2. Using the captured data to influence our next move
  3. Spot our mistakes, and then prevent them from happening again

Capturing the Right Data

When a user has decided to leave your product for good, filling up an elaborate questionnaire will be the last thing that they’d want to do.

Put yourself in their shoes – they’re clearly not in a pleasant mood while taking the call, and you shouldn’t be rubbing salt to the wound by making the process harder. Adding to that, most businesses fail to capture the true answers; their forms are not designed that way. In short, this turns out to be a double-edged sword, affecting both the sides.

So the key is to design your customer exit process in a way that you can discover the right reason for their account cancellation, in the most non-intrusive manner.

Number one, do away with open-ended questions, for in most cases, the users would simply skip the step (if it’s an optional field), or would type in some gibberish and get it over with (if it’s made mandatory).

explain-why-youre-cancelling
This type of question generally won’t lead to great insights from your customer.

Instead, give them, in the cancellation screen, a list of specific reasons for cancellation, and towards the end, make it optional for the users to type out their feedback (we’ve had customers who were kind enough to give us a descriptive answer, but they make only a small percentage of the total respondents).

Here’s how Chargebee’s form looks (we got the inspiration from Freshdesk’s form, and made our own set of tweaks to fit our use case):

chargebee-cancel-form

Number two, only include those reasons that are the most important for your team to learn about and act upon (because, the paradox of choice), and arrange them in the most effective order (start with the most crucial of the lot).

Using the captured data

From a bird’s eye view, the evaluation process will look something like this:

stretch-customer-flow-chart

1. Are they a Stretch customer?

To answer this question, we evaluate the behavioral data of customers, in terms of pre-set yardsticks.

By keeping track of the most important engagement metrics (specific to the life-cycle stage of the customer), we’re able to clearly pinpoint those users who’d been receiving value from the product, before they chose to call it quits.

For Chargebee, these metrics would be completing the account setup, inviting other users from their organization on board, customizing the invoice, configuring the hosted pages, and the like.

A churned customer who passes these yardsticks will be deemed a Stretch customer, who’ll then be considered for the next question.

Another activity that has helped us is the classification of churned customers based on the acquisition channels (Organic, SEO, SEM, AdWords, Third-party review sites, etc). Segment the customers, and figure out the churn rate (both revenue churn and customer churn) for each segment. Note that analyzing the revenue churn as well as customer churn for each channel is important, especially if you have a freemium model.

In fact, this segmentation revealed that customers who were acquired from a particular channel (with low acquisition cost), and had an effortless onboarding process, were showing a higher churn rate than their counterparts. To top it off, we also found out that their servicing cost was also comparatively higher. In short, they belonged to the Bad Fit category.

2. Will rectifying their pain-point align with your product vision?

“In trying to please all, he had pleased none.”
Aesop, Aesop’s Fables

Listen to Aesop.

Des Traynor refers to a product’s vision as its guiding principle – the hub of the product wheel that holds every other activity. And the essence of that vision is the fundamental value that you want to offer to your customers.

Being a Yes-Man and developing features to achieve the short-term goal of retaining a single customer will only take you further away from long-term vision, eventually making your product bloatware (gasp!). The assumption that a single customer’s feature requirement perfectly matches with the needs of all the other users every single time, leads to stuffing your product with unnecessary functions and over complicating it. This, in other words, is known as feature creep.

feature-creep-cartoon

Image Source

In 1988, Seth Godin’s book packaging company let go of their biggest customer, who was making up for more than half of their revenue, and he doesn’t seem to regret it. He claims that the move made his team “happier and more successful”.

Is going the extra mile to please the Stretch customer worth the effort? Will solving their problem enhance the value that you’re delivering to your other customers as well? Is the particular solution aligned with your product vision?

Only, and only if you find yourself saying a “Yes” to these questions, should you take the plunge.

Spotting mistakes and preventing them from happening again

Once you’ve separated the Bad Fit customers from the Stretch counterparts, your next step will be to figure out how to prevent less of the former from onboarding and more of the latter from churning, in the future.

We’ve got three words for you: Root Cause Analysis

Andrew Tate gives a neat framework to trace every cancellation back to a root problem. According to him, based on the results from your exit survey, you can box your churned customers into one of these four reasons:

  1. Bought away – When the customer feels that your product is too expensive, or is not worth the price that you’re charging them.
  2. Moved away – When the customer pivots their business, and shifts to either a more stripped-down, or a more elaborate, enterprise-y solution, compared to yours.
  3. Pulled away – When the customer simply wants to switch to a competitor.
  4. Pushed away – When a member in the customer’s team vouches for another solution (intentional push), or when the customer feels that your service isn’t up to the mark (unintentional push).

Now let’s look at how each of these problems reveal the hidden mistake (and hence the solution):

1. Bought away
Your pricing is not aligned with the right buyer persona, and/or the value that it proposes to deliver.

Solution: Pick the right value metric to device your pricing strategy, and target the right buyer persona while marketing your product.

2. Moved away
Your target market does not include this particular buyer persona.

Solution: Expand your offering to include the new persona, if they fit your long-term objectives. If not, then just cut them loose.

3. Pulled away
The competitor’s offering is more attractive than yours – either because of their marketing or the presence of a feature missing in yours.

Solution: If it’s the former, work on a better positioning of your product in the market. If it’s the latter, go to the second question from the previous section (Will rectifying their pain-point align with your product vision?), and start from there.

4. Pushed away
There’s a lack/inadequacy of communication and customer support.

Solution: Double down on your customer support and customer success efforts.

Conclusion

Trials and errors form an integral part of the startup realm.

Businesses take a stab at bringing an idea to life, and take the help of other B2B businesses to build and grow theirs, some of whom they find to be a perfect fit with their business, while others they don’t. And as a fellow startup comrade, when we realize that the value we’re offering doesn’t match with the value that they’re seeking, we’re obliged to understand and respect their choice, and step aside.

The freemium model is of great help here, by providing the startups with ample leeway to experiment, without consuming much resource.

And it’s our job as a service provider to identify those businesses that have already crossed the initial phase of uncertainty, have built sufficient momentum and have acquired considerable value from us, and help them in advancing to the subsequent levels of growth.

About the Author: Sadhana Balaji is a Product Marketer at Chargebee. She writes about the fascinating workings of the SaaS realm. Head over to Chargebee’s SaaS Dispatch to read more of her work.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

ATDD is awesome and you should try it

Test-driven development (TDD) has been a pretty decent standard in software development for the past years. Writing solid unit tests is something every professional developer should do. (Nightly) builds execute these tests all in order to validate the quality of your code. But for those of you that know the testing pyramid from Mike Cohn, will also know there are more tests than unit tests.

This article will show you the first step into Acceptance test-driven development (ATDD) to test the UI-layer of the application you’re building. It might help you get your business requirements in focus to make sure that what you’re building is right.

ATDD is awesome and you should try it

This article is the first part about this subject and I’ll post the next updates in the upcoming weeks. If you want to hear me speak about this subject, feel free to join my "Turn specs into high quality apps"-presentation at TechDaysNL 2016.

Read more…

Marcofolio.net ()

10 Marketing Metrics You Should Always Measure

Editor’s Note: This post is one of Convince & Convert’s Top 10 Posts of 2016.

10 Marketing Metrics You Should Always Measure

As you draft up your campaign or strategy, always ask yourself this question:

Can I measure this?

For the most important components of your project, the answer will likely be yes. So before you begin executing, make sure you’re laying down a solid foundation for how you will measure your success.

When you’re wondering if your efforts were worth it later, or speculating over whether you’ve done a good job, these metrics will be there for you, answering your questions, providing proof, and cheering you on to greater altitudes.

The metrics you’ll want to track will actually be dependent on your most important goals for a project or campaign. Although all projects are different, here are some great, mainstream metrics that I measure as a rule of thumb:

  1-5: Digital Marketing Staples
  • Overall Traffic
  • Channel-Specific Traffic
  • Conversions
  • Bounce Rate
  • Search Trends
  6-10: Additional Proven Metrics
  • New vs. Returning Visitors
  • Queries
  • Top 10 Organic Landing Pages
  • User Demographics
  • Brand Sentiment

Digital Marketing Staples

1. Overall Traffic

What:

“All Traffic” (from Google Analytics) will show you how many people visited or engaged with your site in total. It can be broken up into source/medium, which describes where your traffic comes from.

Why:

Overall traffic will give you a bird’s eye view of where you stand. It’s a good idea to benchmark or keep an eye on your total traffic over time. You may begin to see similar patterns emerge—like seasonality—that can put you ahead of the game later. The rule of thumb here is that if you’re doing a good job, your overall traffic from all sources should steadily increase over time.

How to Measure:

First, enter your Google Analytics dashboard.

  1. Go to the Acquisition report section
  2. Go to Overview
  3. Look in the Sessions column in the table

 

GAinstruct1

2. Channel-Specific Traffic

What:

These metrics depend on where people were immediately before arriving at your site. The channel is the type of door they used to enter your site.

Why:

Looking at your top mediums is important to measure for full-scale digital marketing campaigns. It allows you to see what’s causing a drop in visits (if you see dips in overall traffic) and where your campaign excels.

Channels to Watch:

  1. Direct: This is when people directly type in your URL to visit your site or who began to search in the omnibox but visited your site before. The omnibox automatically fills in because they’ve been there before.
  2. Referral: These are people who came to your site from another website. It’s external traffic. People followed a link on a different domain to get to you.
  3. Organic: These are people who performed a search on a search engine such as Google or Bing, and clicked on your website’s listing in the organic (non-paid) search results.
  4. Social: People who came to your site from a social media platform. It’s also a great indicator to gauge the general effectiveness of your SEO, social engagement, content, and integrated campaigns.

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3. Total Conversions

What:

Traditionally, a “conversion” is when someone evolves from a simple user visiting your site to a paying customer. However, in today’s digital world we want to track engagement and what our customers are doing on our website to get them deeper into our funnels.

More generally, it’s when users complete any desired action, such as filling out a form, clicking a download button, sign up for a trial, download an ebook, create an account, etc.

Put simply by Kapost, here is another interesting way to think of a conversion:

“The number of anonymous visitors who become known records in your marketing database.”

Why:

Low conversions can speak to bad design, unappealing offerings, or a disinterested audience. Tracking conversions helps you point out exactly which components people are interacting with on your site, and which components they just aren’t.

It’s also hugely informative on the quality of your UX and other less-tangible creative areas. Low conversion rates can spark a push toward updating your sales funnel, or indicate that it’s time to invest in modernizing your website.

How to View:

  1. Go to Conversions > Goals > Overview
  2. Select Source/Medium
  3. Click “view full report”

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4. Bounce Rate

What:

Your site’s bounce rate is the average number of visitors who left your website after only visiting one page—the page they came in on (the “entrance page”).

Each page can have its own bounce rate. You’ll find different pages tend to have different bounce rates, and not all bounce rates are equal.

Why:

Bounce rate can tell you whether your site content is relevant or if you are using the right landing page for a paid campaign. The number is very relative, however.

On one hand, a bounce rate for a specific page may be high because users leave the site after viewing the single page after finding the precise info they needed, and had no interest in going further. Perhaps they even called in and became a paying customer after bouncing off a contact page.

On the flip side, users that experience issues with usability or site design might leave the site from the entrance page and never go to a second page.

How to Track:

Overall Website

  1. Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels
  2. Choose a specific channel to see just that channel’s performance
  3. Check the Bounce Rate column

Individual Page

  1. Go to Behavior > Site Content
  2. Select either All Pages or Landing Pages
  3. Check the Bounce Rate column

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5. Search Trends

Looking at search trends can explain a lot that you don’t have control over. For example, if you are an apartment rental company, search trends for “apartments in city X” might dip in winter and spike again in spring.

Cross-check this with your overall or organic traffic and voila, that’s why Q4 traffic looks so bad compared to previous quarters in the same year. You will want to compare Q4 in the current year to Q4 the previous year to track your true progress.

Why:

This can be a great way to tell whether you’re targeting the right keywords for your campaign. If you’re targeting a word that was quite popular five years ago but has since fallen in interest, you may be spending your efforts chasing a highly competitive phrase that really shouldn’t be so competitive anymore.

How:

Google Trends is a good place to start. Dig around and get a feel for how people engage with your industry on a global, chronological scale, or narrow your focus to your own region for even tighter insights.

Additional Proven Metrics

6. New Vs. Returning Visitors

Come in, and come back often!

An increase in new users could be a response to getting mentioned on a popular website where you earned a guest blog, a freshly published press release, or increased budget for a paid campaign (Facebook, PPC or Banner Advertisement).

Why:

This metric tells you whether your site is sticky enough to encourage repeat customers, and tells how effective your outreach efforts are. For example, if you launch a new email marketing campaign to your database, you might see an increase in returning visitors to your website. That reveals your email campaign was well received.

How:

Check out the % New Sessions column in most reports.

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7. Queries

Around 2011, Google started securing keyword data for people conducting searches while logged into a Google account. That means anyone using Gmail or any other Google service (i.e. everyone with Android phones) falls under a privacy policy that restricts keyword information from appearing in Google Analytics.

The good news is, there are other ways to get some insight. Start by connecting your Webmaster Tools property with Analytics. (Note: Google Webmaster Tools is now known as Google Search Console.)

You can see keyword query data start pulling into Analytics, including organic impressions and clicks.

How:

  1. Go to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries
  2. Click “Set up Search Console data sharing”
  3. Scroll down to the bottom and click “Adjust Search Console”
  4. Click “Edit” (small link, hard to see) – this opens a new tab (Search Console)
  5. Select your website using the radio button; click save, then click “Yes” to save the association
  6. In the previous tab (Google Analytics), click “Done” and return to the Reporting section
  7. Go to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries – your Search Console data appears (including search terms)

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8. Top 10 Organic Landing Pages

What:

Also known as “entrance pages,” these are the individual pages where visitors enter your site after performing a search on a search engine. This metric tells you which pages on your website are the most visible in search engines.

Why:

Your top organic landing pages will show you what the missing keywords might have been. If the #1 page visited from organic results is a really specific article, you can glean what people were popularly searching. (This also highlights the importance of specificity in your content strategy!)

Your top organic pages can also tell you how well they’re optimized, and whether you need to refocus your SEO strategy.

How:

  1. Go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
  2. Click the “Secondary Dimension” drop-down and choose Acquisition > Medium
  3. Near the search bar, click “Advanced” and create an advanced filter – select the option to show only “Medium” and type “Organic” into the containing-only field

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9. User Demographics

Google Analytics will give you a little demographic information, with easy views to age, gender, location, and even some interest information. What’s important here is the location information.

Why:

See where your users are coming from, and whether it’s relevant to your goals.

How:

  1. Go to Audience > Geo
  2. Select Location
  3. Scroll down to get actual number values for location by country, city, continent, or sub-continent

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10. Brand Sentiment

Hey, not all publicity is good publicity. You should be gauging sentiment of online conversations regarding your company.

Set up a Google or Talkwalker Alert for your brand’s name, employees and other related topic areas where opinion leaders actively mention you. You’ll be notified when Google finds new content on whatever topic or keyword you select. (This is not actually a specific metric, but it’s definitely a good way to keep a pulse on your digital reputation.)

It’s also important to have a response plan in place. This ensures timely, well-planned handling of unsavory voices while staying in line with the brand tone and voice. You will also be able to track the positive side of your mentions.

How:

  1. Go to Google Alerts while signed in: https://www.google.com/alerts or check out http://www.talkwalker.com/alerts
  2. Create alerts about your brand name, your products, whatever you think you ought to monitor

A Final Word on Metrics (For Now…)

While it’s helpful to learn from example, no two companies are the same. The metrics you measure should matter to you and answer questions that are important to your business.

Some people call them Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), others simply call them metrics. No matter how you want to define it, these data points are the vehicles that make your goals real and concrete, and make your attempts at reaching them observable and quantifiable.

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Editor’s Note: A version of this blog post originally ran on Custom Creatives


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