Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Craft better CTAs. Get better conversions.

Do I have your attention?

If I do, it won’t be for long: According to Statisticbrain.com, the average person's attention span is eight seconds and most of us read only 28 percent of the words on a webpage. As marketers, that makes it challenging to engage and convert readers.

This is where strong calls to action (CTAs) come in: These buttons or links—on websites, landing pages, emails—are compelling, persuasive statements that move your visitors to act, guiding them through the sales funnel: Maybe you want them to watch a video, schedule a demo, sign up for a subscription, or learn more about your product/service. The right CTA can help you make those connections.

Here are a few tips to make sure your CTAs are fine-tuned to help you net the desired action-activated response:
  1. Be direct. Simple and effective is what you’re looking to accomplish, so craft your message using words that make it clear what you want the reader to do and/or why it’s of value. (Five words or less is ideal)
  2. Use multiple CTAs strategically placed throughout your site or landing page to attract and convert visitors at all stages of the buyer journey.
  3. Make it relevant. Your CTA should be specific to the content on the page—don’t use the same CTA throughout your website.
  4. Optimize for mobile. Remember that many of your readers will be accessing your website or email via their mobile devices, so not only do CTAs need to be brief, they also need to be formatted to make a visual impact on a mobile screen.   
  5. Keep it simple. By keeping graphics clean and uncluttered, your visitors will find your message easier. (Don’t make them search for it!) Hubspot offers a great example of a sleek, well-designed webpage with a CTA that stands out clearly:
  6. Offer a time-sensitive special. Most of us don’t want to miss out on a good deal or deep discount. So, instead of directing your readers to check out your new product, consider adding a “deal of the day” pop-up CTA that prompts the reader to check out your special offer before it goes away.
  7. Provide options. One way to get visitors to spend more time on your site is to offer multiple CTAs that lead them down different paths. Here is a great example from Humboldt County (source: Hubspot).
  8. Test your CTA. A small change in your CTA can make a big difference. You might not expect higher click-through rates as a result of moving your call to action above the fold, or changing the color, or swapping the word “my” for “your” but those subtle changes can greatly affect your conversion rates. Test and then redeploy to keep your content fresh and effective.
I’m always on the lookout for examples of CTAs that work for me. Can you think of any that have caught your attention or compelled you to act? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Convert Leads Using Customer Personas. Here’s How.

In last week’s blog, we talked about the importance of creating customer/buyer personas to drive better marketing outcomes—and what kinds of information you should include in those profiles. Remember, you’re digging deep to uncover basic data, as well as habits, interests and other preferences: This information helps you to create an avatar of your target customer(s). By speaking directly to this persona and addressing his/her needs or expectations, you’ll make a stronger brand connection. 

So, where do you get that important data to build your customer persona(s)? Here are a few ideas:

  • Conduct in-person interviews with your current customers.
  • Survey your current customers. 
  • Survey your ideal customers. 
  • Dive into your business data. 
  • Research your Google Analytics website traffic
  • Engage in social media listening. 

Source: Hubspot
The goal is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes to create a detailed and accurate profile. And then, to use that information to your brand advantage by aligning your marketing plan to connect with your buyer persona(s). Here’s some examples of how you can put those personas to work to convert leads: 

  • Use social media channels that align with your customer’s habits (i.e. spend your time where your customer hangs out) 
  • Create brand messaging that speaks your customer persona’s language—and that also resonates with his/her value system
  • Provide special offers that solve your buyer’s problems or add value to their lives
  • Cater your content to your buyer’s preferences: Write blogs, whitepapers and ebooks and/or create videos that speak directly to the needs and interests of your buyer
  • Co-market with companies or influencers that your customers like or frequent: Co-sponsor an event, feature them as a guest blogger, incorporate their product or service in your promotional campaign, etc.
  • Use dynamic content on your website to speak directly to your target buyer
  • Optimize your landing pages: Run A/B testing to see which CTAs resonate with your target customer
  • Audit your existing content—make sure it speaks to your customer persona(s). If it doesn’t fit the model, update it or eliminate it altogether

Are there other ways you’re using customer personas? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Use Customer Personas for Better Marketing Outcomes

Microsoft reports the average person’s attention span is just eight seconds. That’s not surprising given the amount of content we consume every day: According to the American Marketing Association, we are exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day. So, as a marketer, how do you make sure your customers don’t simply scroll right by your content?

Make it personal.

By connecting with your audience in more personal and relatable ways, you make stronger and more memorable brand connections. So, it follows that the best way to make such connections is to first get to know your audience or your customers—and then create campaigns that speak directly to them. This is where personas come into play.

Hubspot describes them well: "Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. Personas help us all -- in marketing, sales, product, and services -- internalize the ideal customer we're trying to attract and relate to our customers as real humans. Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1onXUgvpExoRQqF6v0kPTn9ihogQeU5UG/view?usp=sharingTo develop accurate customer personas, research is essential—you have to dig down beneath the surface to gather the personal data about your customer that paints a crystal-clear picture about who they really are:
  • What is their age and gender?
  • Which social media platforms do they use: Are they Facebook devotees or all Snapchat?
  • What TV shows do they watch: 60 Minutes? Game of Thrones?
  • What are their values: Are they intent on making a difference through social change? Strong supporters of U.S. veterans?
  • What are their digital habits: Primarily PC users? Do they shop using Alexa? 
Click here for a handy persona outline graphic.

The more questions we ask and the clearer “customer” picture we paint, allows us to be more effective in our marketing efforts. Next week, I’ll continue with this topic, offering some tips for where to go to get this valuable customer data and then, what to do with it.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Choose your words wisely for stronger brand connections.

Have you ever watched or read an ad only to immediately forget the advertised product or brand? I know I have.

As marketers, we’re tasked with making memorable brand connections. So, how do we improve our chances of creating content that sticks? In part, it requires using the right words.

         Click here to access a list of the 15 most powerful words in marketing and SEO.

There are also guidelines that can help frame marketing word choices. Below is information summarized from a SalesForce article that details the types of words you can use to drive your brand’s message home and evoke desired emotions from your audience:

Words That Resonate with Consumers. Put things in terms of “you” instead of “I” or “we.” In other words, speak directly to your customers about what they can gain (Value) from doing business with you, rather than explaining what your business does.

Words That Grab Readers’ Attention. Words like “free” and “discount” naturally resonate with customers because they automatically make a purchase look more attractive.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/15hkSnwaxHgsOCneGB4sUH45iWxwXoMxA/view?usp=sharing
Words That Create a Sense of Fear or Urgency. Some words may convey your message to customers, but don’t really do much to convince them to act. That’s where phrases like “limited time” or “don’t miss out” or “now” come in, tapping into the fear of missing out.

Example: Spotify offers weekly playlists for its active listeners based on their specific tastes and listening habits. The company could create one personalized playlist and update it every so often. But instead, each playlist is only accessible for one week. Then it’s gone. Spotify encourages users to access their weekly playlists based on that fear that they’ll miss out on something great if they don’t.

Words That Promote Exclusivity. If you’re offering a deal specifically to your best customers or to a select number of people, you can use words like “exclusive,” “select,” and “limited” to make an opportunity seem more special. When customers feel like they are valued enough to be granted special access to products and services, they may be more likely to purchase.

American Express is an example of one company that successfully uses this tactic. “Membership has its privileges” and “Are you a Card Member?” are some of its popular taglines. These words create a sense of exclusivity that makes people want to join.

Words That Position Your Brand. Carefully select words that make your brand stand out, either against the competition or to a specific type of consumer (proven, dependable. Depending on the way you’d like to appeal to customers, you can use creative wording to position your brand.

Example: Coca-Cola used to call itself the “Official Soft Drink of Summer.” Is there an official governing body that decides which soda gets to represent summer? No. But by using these words, Coca-Cola paints itself as the only real choice for families who want to enjoy some fun in the sun.

Are there other word rules you’d add to the list? Join the conversation on Shamrock’s Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Change your daily habits: The ultimate deep cleanse for your business

We’re already past the mid-point in January: So, how are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions? I’m still hearing people talk about reorganizing, streamlining, detoxing. But just how do you get there—how do you make those self-promises (or goals) stick?

I contend that this year, I’m “making healthy a habit.” And that goes beyond the obvious healthy habits of eating clean, exercising and keeping up with regular checkups. For me, making healthy a habit means making conscious choices/changes in my daily routine that will exhibit a positive change in my everyday life. Think about that concept—it’s a simple incentive that I’ve incorporated into various area of my life.

Making healthy a habit in your business starts with a look in the mirror—or an honest self-assessment. You might want to consider these questions to help lose the flab and shape up your business:
  • How often have I randomly reached out to current clients? When was the last time I picked up the phone and asked them how we’re doing? (the same goes for suppliers)
  • Are my compliance standards up to date? Could my team benefit from additional training?
  • What areas of our business performed below expectations in 2018? What changes can we implement today to change that course for the year ahead?
  • What areas of our business performed well this past year? Celebrate those victories—and then identify ways to replicate that success in other departments, territories, with new product lines, etc.
Again, making healthy a habit is a deliberate choice: It’s a change in mindset that offers great dividends. One resource about changing habits that I go back to time and again is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. You can find more about it at www.charlesduhigg.com.

Another resource is life coach and author Mel Robbins: You can read her book The 5 Second Rule or check out her TED talk—she is a great resource for recharging and realigning everyday practices. Check out her website at www.melrobbins.com.

You might consider tossing your new-year’s pledges, and instead, work toward starting a revolution with your habits.  It’s never too late to start.

Good luck!
Tim Connor

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Build trust by humanizing your brand. Here’s how.

Is your brand trustworthy? While you may be strong in your conviction, your answer might not resonate with today’s consumers: According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer (the industry standard for measuring consumer trust) only 48 percent of Americans trust businesses—and that number is on the decline.

So how do you build trust among leery consumers? One way is to simply get real, making memorable connections with your audience by showing the “human” side of your brand.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine reinforces the argument for creating authentic, transparent connections with your customers: “according to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018, more than one in three consumers surveyed ranked “trust in brand” among the top three factors, other than price, influencing their decision to shop at a particular retailer. How do you get consumers to trust your company? You do it by showing them the human side of your brand.”

Read the full article here or continue reading for a summary of Entrepreneur’s tips for making a human connection with your brand:

Make them laugh. It’s ok to show your not-so-serious side. A little levity goes a long way toward breaking down barriers. The article contends that “showing your more playful side will help consumers see that you’re not just a business focused on selling a product; you’re a human who can put aside your seriousness and have some fun.”

Create original funny content or share popular or existing posts that will get people laughing: That carefree feeling is what consumers will then associate with your brand.

Introduce your team. Authentic content that showcases your team and/or your operations is a great way to put a face with your business. Candid photos, videos, meet-the-employee spotlights, a glimpse behind operations—these are simple ways to put your brand out there in a very human way.

Share user-generated content. “This works to humanize your brand in two ways: First, it’s exciting and flattering to the user who gets his or her photo featured on your website or social media feed. Second, it shows other consumers that you have great relationships with their peers and that those people already enjoy your products.”

Tell authentic stories. Don’t spend all your time talking about how great your company is; humanize your brand by sharing authentic stories about your failures, hardships and lessons that you’ve learned—this will help customers better relate to you.

Show appreciation for your customers. “Letting your customers know that you care about and appreciate them is one of the best ways to humanize your brand.” Consider sending your best customers company swag; offering special discounts; or simply connecting with a personal message or hand-written note. That personal touch goes a long way toward creating raving brand fans.

This “human” directive is one we’ve been incorporating on our Shamrock twitter feed—and we’re seeing positive results. What’s been your most successful “human” marketing touch? Chime in our Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Email Marketing Tips for 2019

Despite the pervasive draw of social media posts, shares and double-taps, email marketing emerges as a solid investment for your brand: Email has a median ROI of 122%—that’s more than four times higher than other marketing formats, including social media, direct mail and paid search (Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric).

Looking to make the most of your next email marketing campaign? Here are a few tips that can help boost your click-through rates:

Optimize for mobile. If your email platform isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing the boat. According to Adestra, in 70% of cases, if the message doesn’t display correctly on a mobile device, it’s likely to be deleted within 3 seconds. Taking that one step further: Make sure your content is easy to digest: succinct, to-the-point copy using clean fonts and graphics is easiest to read on smartphones and tablets. 

Segment your list. One-size email marketing is out; personalized brand connections are in. By segmenting your distribution list, you can tailor your email message to speak directly to your audience based on region, market, age, gender, etc. The result is a more relevant and personalized brand touch.

Be authentic. With the rise of # sponsored ads, more consumers are craving authentic brand connections. One simple way to incorporate that personal touch in your emails is to use storytelling—share your brand story, focus on customers interacting with your products/using your service, show a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your team or operations. This makes your audience feel included in your brand journey.

Automate your email. Automated or triggered emails deliver an astounding 624% higher conversion rate than everyday business emails (Venture Beat). A few ideas for triggered email content include: Welcome, Thank you (post sale or post meeting), Upsell opportunity, or Milestone event.

Solid subject line. No matter how compelling your email content, you’ve got to get them to open it first: 33% of email recipients open email based on subject lines alone (Convince & Convert). And don’t be afraid to get personal: According to Campaign Monitor data, a personalized email subject line boosts open rates by 26%, and increases click-through rates by 14%.

Video, video, video. We know by now that video helps drive people to your website. But according to eMarketer, video in emails can also increase clicks, shares, and forwards as much as 50%.

Clear call to action. Your email content needs to be compelling, relevant—and it also needs a strong CTA, even if it is as simple as asking the reader to share on twitter or click through to a landing page. Consider using words such as “now” or “today” or add an incentive to help boost participation.

Time it right. The day of the week and time of day your email is sent effects open rates. Research from GetResponse shows that Tuesday is the best day of the week to send emails (followed by Thursday and Wednesday); and 10 a.m. is the best time to hit send.

Know your audience.
It sounds like an obvious rule of thumb, but too often marketers ignore their loyal base of customers, members or donors because they are too focused on chasing new prospects. Existing customers are one of the biggest untapped resources in marketing: The probability of selling to a customer is 60-70% (compared with 5-20% for new prospects).

Email marketing requires nuances, that when considered, can drastically improve your chances of making memorable brand connections. If you’re interested in talking about email marketing solutions for your business, reach out to me at emoriarty@shamrockcompanies.net.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

10 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019

 Marketing is being shaped by emerging technologies, methods and patterns. 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/


Deep Patel
VIP Contributor
Author of A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success 

It's difficult to predict which methods will connect with consumers most effectively in the ever-changing landscape of marketing. Just when marketers believe they understand their audience, a new technology, new behavior or even an entirely new audience alters everything.

That said, it’s practical to reflect on the past year’s patterns and pay attention to growing trends that will influence next year’s success. Here are 10 marketing trends you would be wise to keep your eye on going into 2019.

1. The marketing funnel is shifting.
The current marketing funnel accepts anyone, assessing them for profitability and rejecting them if they’re deemed unfit. As John Hall writes in Forbes: “Too many companies see customers as gatekeepers to wallets; meanwhile, customers feel ignored at best -- and insulted at worst -- when the journey ends.” Rather than opening up a marketing funnel that swallows whoever it can, businesses are starting to efficiently leverage content to target niche audiences.

Reaching out to people who are more likely to be interested in your brand is not only more cost-efficient; it’s also more sustainable and less time-consuming. Consumers do not want businesses to gloss over them; they seek legitimate trust and genuine relationships.

2. Content is everything.
In the current climate, content is everything. You already know that you need to entice your audience: inspire them, provoke their thoughts, excite them or appeal to their emotions.

The goal is not to simply put content in front of people and hope they respond to it, but rather to encourage them to share and engage with it. Content -- whether it’s an article on an outlet or a video on social media -- opens the door for two-way communication, which is crucial for building trust and letting customers know that you appreciate their business.

3. Chatbots aren’t going anywhere.
Customer service is essential, but not everyone feels comfortable talking to a real person on the phone or has the time to do it over email. That’s what makes chatbots so convenient. These are little AI helpers integrated into websites that can answer questions and fulfill requests quickly -- and many can accomplish this without sacrificing personality.

Grand View Research reports that the worldwide chatbot market will reach $1.25 billion by 2025, growing at an annual rate of 24.3 percent. Forty-five percent of end users actually prefer turning to chatbots for customer service, so if you have one, you can win the allegiance of people who enjoy interacting with these little programs.

4. AI continues to grow.
On a related note, artificial intelligence is growing in prominence. It makes data analysis more efficient, can target potential leads rapidly and can perform tasks that humans struggle with. Sometimes it takes the form of advanced machine learning, but even Netflix’s recommendation system that suggests new TV shows to watch is technically AI.

AI can also monitor consumers’ online patterns and help you understand their behavior in real time, though there are legitimate concerns about whether this is ethical or not. Even if you decide not to take advantage of AI in this way, however, it’s smart to pay attention to how consumers react to it and whether your competitors use it.

5. People are cautious about security.

Every company should ensure that its security is thorough. Even if customers do not notice it, they deserve the utmost respect when it comes to their privacy, data and financial details. Not every company promises this, though -- and customers are starting to notice. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect in Europe this year, consumers are beginning to pay more attention to how businesses handle their information.

Talk about your security with customers. What makes it better than others? In an economy where people are rightfully cautious about hacks, leaks and theft, they will favor establishments that can promise them the safest business experience.

6. Voice search is getting louder.
According to Search Engine Land, voice-based commerce sales in the United States reached $1.8 billion in 2017 and are projected to reach $40 billion by 2022. Yep, that’s 40 billion! This trend means 2019 is the year to get ahead of the game.

Voice searching is an ingenious bit of technology. After all, who doesn’t like being able to simply say out loud to the nearest smart speaker, “Place an order for school supplies”? Not only does voice searching make it easier to find information online without pulling out a device; people love it because it reduces their screen time. Next year, make sure you’re optimized for voice searches.

7. Vertical video is on the rise.
You already know that video is imperative. It used to be one aspect of your marketing strategy, but now you need an entire strategy just for your videos! People watch countless hours of video every day, and YouTube is the largest search engine after its sibling Google. Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram or some other platform, video is not going anywhere.

However, people do not always like turning their mobile devices to the side. Instagram -- one of the most popular social media platforms at the moment -- launched IGTV in June for the express purpose of watching videos in vertical mode. IGTV allows longer content, so you could publish animated videos, demos, interviews, case studies, 360-degree virtual reality, live streams and more. Your social media strategy needs to keep vertical-form IGTV videos in mind.

8. It’s time to focus on Gen Z.
Gen Z is getting older, which means they are beginning to enter the workforce and possess buying power. You might recall how marketers scrambled to understand millennials (there didn’t seem to be an industry they didn’t kill -- but hey, they’re just broke and much harder to lie to), so now is the time to pay attention to Gen Z.

It is impossible to make monolithic statements about members of the second-youngest generation, but you should remember a few things: they seek authenticity, and they prefer socially responsible businesses. They’re growing up in a scary world and a struggling economy, so they’re more likely to turn to companies that make the world a better place.

9. Visual searches are taking off.
Besides voice searches, can you name another kind of search method on the rise? Visual. Google has long enabled reverse-image searches, but new camera technology makes it possible for people to take a picture of something in the real world and find information about it.

Pinterest launched its Lens feature back in February, and the social media platform reports that its users conducted over 600 million combined monthly searches with it. To leverage the power of image searching, don’t neglect Pinterest in your marketing efforts, and optimize your site (and social) images for SEO.

10. Influencers have different identities.
Influencer marketing is also a classic social media strategy, but who influencers are is beginning to change. Companies previously relied on celebrities to convince people that products are worth buying, but consumers are now leaning toward their peers.

The frozen-food retailer Iceland, for instance, recently switched from celebrity marketing to partnering with “real” people (micro-influencers) because their customers -- mothers, in this case -- trusted other mothers above brands and so-called industry experts. Next year, adjust your influencer marketing strategy according to who your audience is most likely to respond to.

Marketing is becoming increasingly complex, so it’s practical for marketers to keep their eyes on emerging technologies, methods and patterns.