Star Cars Birmingham get 11,200 clicks using SMS Web Pages

Star Cars Birmingham are a leading taxi firm based in Birmingham. They have a huge loyal customer base and use the latest technology along with great customer service to provide a great service.

Star Cars Birmingham wanted to text all its customer and inform them of their fares over the Christmas and New Year period, along with getting people to enter a competition where they could win a brand-new iPhone 8, and if possible get people to download their app on both Android and Apple store.

To get all of this into one text message would have been impossible, but lucky for them we had just released our brand-new feature SMS Web Pages into Message Box. SMS Web Pages allows customers to build a SMS landing page with multiple images and more text than they could get into one text message.

Star Cars saw a great opportunity to use our new SMS Web Pages tool to create a simple but effective SMS landing page that ticked all the boxes. And we managed to talk with Star Cars on how they found using the new feature and what results they got from it – here is what they said.

What did you like about the new feature?
“Everything – it was really simple to get to grips with, it took me less then 15 minutes to master it, adding various images, text and a call to action button.

I really like how when you create your page, you can then change the layout and all the images and text stay on the page, meaning I didn’t have to start again if I wanted a different layout.”

How does it compare to sending a normal SMS message?
“What I find a lot of the time is I can’t get all the information I need into one text message, probably because I want to put a lot of information in, but using this I found that I could add all the information I needed to the page, meaning I have more space in the actual text message to write something compelling.”

What were your results? Did it go well? Have you got any stats you could share with us?
“Yes, it went really well, we got a great response from it – much better than our email campaign we did.

We sent an email campaign out and only got 70 or so clicks, when we sent the text message out we got 11,200 clicks – so only slightly more than email!!!

We also saw a significant increase in downloads of our app on both the Apple store and the Android store – sorry I don’t know exactly how many.

On the actual SMS web page, we had over 550 people click the button to win the iPhone 8 and managed to capture around 200 emails address because of it.

We were also really busy over the Christmas and New Year period and can only assume this was aided by our SMS campaign.”

How have you found Text Marketer in service and our platform?
“We have been with Text Marketer for nearly a year now and we love the platform and service that we get. We have never had a problem with the system or when sending lots of single text messages out.

The platform is really easy to use, uploading contacts into different groups is so simple and sending a message takes about 2 minutes, if that.

We love the analytics section and use it regularly to see how our campaigns have gone down and which numbers are no longer active.

Basically, we love it – thanks for a great system.”

 

We would like to thank Star Cars Birmingham for their time and if you are in, or around Birmingham and need a taxi, then give them a call or visit their website.

Tech Advertising Is Actually to Change More in 2018

The following is a guest contributed post by Ivan Guzenko, the CEO of SmartyAds.

Marketing, for the most part, deals with the change. Successful marketing involves following the trends and timely adjustments to the strategy. The optimal overall marketing strategy is to observe the change of trends, sometimes pulling out the right one, but at the same time staying true to the corporate style.

So here are five major trends that will rule the digital marketing industry in 2018.

Trend 1: Blockсhain

Today the term ‘blockchain’ is mostly associated with the bitcoin. But in fact, this is the technology which made the cryptocurrency possible, and not vice versa. All of its benefits can be used in marketing. This year, blockchain is pouring into digital-marketing, and the following year has all the chances to increase this tempo.

As of now, there is no way for an advertiser or publisher to determine the amount of additional fees. And since blockchain is the technology that provides a transparent, instantaneous and indisputable record of transactions, it actually can ensure that there are no hidden fees and cuts. There are initiatives from IAB working towards cutting down on fake ad-requests for domains, who actually make it possible to provide a mechanism to enable content owners to declare who is authorized to sell their inventory. Even though they still have a long way to go, it looks like a huge leap in the right direction towards solving the industry’s transparency challenge.

There also are other solutions out there. For instance, SmartyAds has already launched White Label Ad Stack, which is a “Lego constructor” at its core for building Blockchain based Digital Marketing products, such as SSPs, DSPs, OTT and many more.

Blockchain is a big step towards the future of ad industry, as it can change the relationship between the client, advertiser and advertising platforms, while at the same time providing transparency of transactions, and its integration will help face the growing marketing needs. When one understands blockchain, its advantages become obvious. Blockchain will help to prevent the sale of counterfeit inventory, conduct safe transactions without a third party, and place any data in the blockchain so that it can not be deleted or edited without the user’s consent

Trend 2: Video

The growth of online video is staggering. According to The Wall Street Journal, the consumption of online video has increased tenfold between 2011 and 2016, and this rapid growth will not slow down. Moreover, online video is ahead of cable TV among teenagers and young viewers. For companies who target for the younger generation, video marketing strategy is a must to succeed.

Although, there is a problem. Digital media industry suffers from the amount of the clean up of the digital ad supply chain needed, with all the publishers, brands, agencies and ad tech vendors involved. Currently, a buyer can’t know for sure if they are buying display inventory that has been repackaged as video. It actually sums up to the transparency issue.

Such already existing solutions as Ads.Cert give publishers more control and a possibility to assure their customers that they are buying from the authorized sellers, and get what they pay for. Ads.cert is one more step toward full transparency in digital ad transactions, and it will also likely be a big 2018 talking point.

Another reason video continues to rise in popularity is that it enables brands to connect with consumers on an emotional level. This new video age we are about to step in is marked by the growing effectiveness of interactive ads — also called engagement or immersive ads. A number of companies are rethinking the standard banner, using 360-degree video. You don’t even need a headset to create or engage with 360 videos, which are easily played on smartphones and are frequently used for advertising. Thanks to the immersive nature of the technology, 360 video content catches more views, shares, and subscribers than standard video content.

Augmented reality and virtual reality are another video-related trends to be incorporated into advertising experiences.

Trend 3: Virtual or Augmented reality

Although as to date there is no widespread application of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) in Internet marketing, this is certainly a trend that will take an increasing share in the content of leading brands. In this case, the technology itself is only a carrier, and the content depends on the company itself.

Today we can observe the VR market transforming and becoming more massive due to the appearance of new available VR-devices from Google and Samsung, as well as the active spread of low-cost solutions like Google Cardboard which are also used in marketing.

It’s evident that companies are beginning to test the waters and trial different interactive video formats and experience, yet the projection for AR revenue by 2020 is set to outweigh VR by $120 billion. For instance, Apple announcing their iPhone 8 and iPhone X provides users with new augmented reality experiences. Therefore more social channels will plan on introducing new ways of integrating AR into their platforms. The use of mobile AR provides a niche and and engaging way for marketers to reach their target audience.

Even if companies are not yet ready to adapt their materials to virtual or augmented reality, they will have to improve the quality of the content if they want to keep up with those who use VR/AR tech. Interactive graphics, video and applications will not only help brands develop a more engaging marketing strategy, but will also become a springboard for future experiments with VR and AR.

The experts predict that by 2020, total revenues in the VR and AR market will reach $150 billion.

Trend 4: Artificial Intelligence

Content creators believe that AI will be able to transform their work in 2018. Predictive analytics, voice processing, and algorithm generation will allow making more thoughtful and effective materials for attracting people. Machine learning has already made an impact in healthcare and fraud detection, with PayPal using predictive technology to fight against money laundering. In 2018, it’s going to take the marketing world by storm, assisting automated data visualization as well as content management and analysis.

In the next five years, half of the texts will be created by machines, while humans’ duties will consist of being in charge and making necessary corrections. Large publishers, for example, Associated Press, already use the content created by the machines to increase the speed of information released.

In the creative fields, the AI ​​breakthrough can also be conducted in the nearest future. Even now we see how Google’s artificial intelligence composes musical works. Accordingly, in the near future, the entire creative component of marketing services can switch from people to machines who don’t need to take time for an inspiration. This no more seems so fantastic as it did even five years ago.

97% of business leaders feel that the future of marketing will consist of human marketers working in collaboration with machine learning-based automation entities. Though there won’t be any robot invasion yet. Instead, machines will simplify our work with the target audience.

Trend 5: Influencer Marketing

According to the statistics 90% users trust the opinion of a field authority, while advertising slogans are credited by only 33% of the audience. The reason that influencers are trusted by their audiences is that these audiences have relationships and trust built up with these individuals.

Internet users whose audience is from 1000 to 100 thousand subscribers are 4 times more likely to receive comments than “celebs” with millions of followers. These micro-sized influencer category usually occupy a certain niche that lets one choose an applicant who’s most suitable for the brand’s goals.

Summary

We have already seen the digital advertising landscape evolving in 2017, and 2018 seems to be taking it even further. With digital at the very core of our society and economy, it continues to deeply impact the marketing industry. Focus on video content, artificial intelligence, influencer marketing and new technologies like blockchain and VR/AR will be the key.

This year saw the already existing approaches unfold: influencer marketing remains a useful strategy, and video goes to the next level. As 360 video and virtual reality merge, 2018 will also see an increase of shoppable video content. Such content will allow brands to turn social video views into direct response sales, dramatically increasing conversion.

Technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain are going from “good to know” to “need to know.”, and new content formats like AR and VR, together with blockchain solutions like Ads.Cert, are likely to go mainstream.

Artificial Intelligence is credible to take over: the use of AI may reshape retargeting strategies. As this technology gets smoother, it is possible that even more brands will embrace AI solutions to better results.

Even though, unknown pitfalls and surprises can await the digital marketing world in the year to come, as technology and the expectations of consumers change. The whole system may change drastically. But this hyper-converged marketing landscape gives rise to new opportunities. 2018 promises to be an impressive year for digital marketing.

The post Tech Advertising Is Actually to Change More in 2018 appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

The 2018 Loyalty Academy Conference – The Loyalty Revolution

The only live forum that brings together the leading minds in loyalty marketing for an intimate, one-day conference of insightful learning and discussion on the biggest challenges in customer loyalty today. It is also the only opportunity of its kind to meet and interact with the people and brands that are shaping this critical space.

DON’T MISS THE ONLY MARKETING CONFERENCE THAT MATTERS.

BE A PART OF THE LOYALTY REVOLUTION.

WHAT:

The 3rd Annual Loyalty Academy Conference

WHEN:

March 8, 2018

WHERE:

The Waterstone Resort and Marina
999 E Camino Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432

WHY:

The Loyalty Academy Conference brings together the leading minds in loyalty marketing for an intimate, one-day conference of insightful learning and discussion of the biggest challenges in building customer loyalty today. Network and mingle at one of South Florida’s premiere resort proper>es while tackling the big-rock issues that will affect your clients in the coming year.

WHO:

The audience: Senior-level marketers with an interest in building the most effective customer strategy they can offer to their best customers, senior management, and stakeholders. The Loyalty Academy Conference offers a safe haven for thought leadership and provides you with the platform to demonstrate your company’s customer loyalty expertise.

 

The post The 2018 Loyalty Academy Conference – The Loyalty Revolution appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

Here Are the Top Marketing Design Trends for 2018 [Infographic]

Shutterstock — a familiar name to many creative professionals — released its 2018 Creative Trends Report today, shedding light on the design trends marketers need to know about this year.

The report is the result of synthesizing and analyzing the billions of searches for visual content on Shutterstock’s collection — which boasts over 170 million images. Based on those searches, Shutterstock determined which design concepts are most likely to influence creative marketing and design this year, from pop culture to emerging trends.

This is the seventh year Shutterstock has released a Creative Trends Report, and this year, there’s a common, underlying science-fiction-esque theme — at least when it comes to the top three trends, named to be “fantasy,” “new minimalism,” and “space.”

Intrigued? Check out the full report, which — how fitting — has been visually represented by the infographic below.


1. Fantasy

Unicorns — the mythical creatures, not the high-valued startups — are cool again. Along with its friends like mermaids and centaurs, fantasy-themed images are predicted to see a rise in popularity. 

2. New Minimalism

It’s not just any minimalism — it’s the clean, circu-linear kind that uses white space to draw greater attention to an image’s boldest features.

3. Space

Elon Musk, is that you? We’re not sure if SpaceX is behind it, but images pertaining to the solar system and beyond are expected to be a major trend this year.

4. Natural Luxury

Less screen, more green. Images with natural elements are on the rise — with a touch of “geological”-themed luxury, like marble.

5. Punchy Pastels

Spring has arrived early, with pastel hues and shades dominating 2018 design trends.

6. A Global March

The legacy of last January’s Women’s March lives on — searches for terms like “activism” and key occasions like “International Women’s Day” are on the rise.

7. Cactus

Honestly, your guess is as good as ours on this one. As Shutterstock describes it, this trend reflects “nature’s ultimate survivor” with “beauty and danger.”

8. Digital Crafts

It’s the latest generation of origami. Is a robot capable of crafting? Inquiring, visual minds want to know.

9. Ancient Geometrics

You might be familiar with the Mandala, which is an ancient, geometric symbol frequently associated with Hinduism and Buddhism. There’s been an uptick in searches for that type of image — a trend we expect to continue as many seek these zen-like images.

10. Cryptocurrency

We’re not at all surprised to see this one on the list. Cryptocurrency has been a major point for those in both tech and finance in recent months, with such headlines as bitcoin debuting on Wall Street and Kodak unveiling its very own cryptocurrency (which resulted in its stock price skyrocketing in an impressively short period of time).

11. Holographic Foil

Tech has been gradually permeating the mainstream and pop-cultural conversation, and that’s arguably never been truer than it has been in 2018. Holographics have long served as thematic, visual representation of tech — which is what we predict helped it earn a place on the list.

 
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4 Ways to Get a Free Domain Name (And Website)

Unfortunately, the old saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” holds true when it comes to getting a free domain name. Many of the websites that advertise free domains are actually charging fees, or providing less attractive subdomains instead (www.yoursite.theirsite.com). That said, despite their limitations, there are a few legitimate services out there…

The post 4 Ways to Get a Free Domain Name (And Website) appeared first on Fit Small Business.

What Cards Against Humanity Can Teach Marketers About Content Personalization

Inspiration can strike at any moment. I never thought I’d have a revelation about marketing during a game of Cards Against Humanity, but we don’t get to choose when the lightbulb goes off.

For people unfamiliar with Cards Against Humanity, it dubs itself the “party game for horrible people.” Players match cards containing various risqué phrases to make clever combinations—like Apples to Apples with a hefty dose of vulgarity. During each round, one player serves as the “card czar” and selects the winning card combination.

I was the card czar when I had my eureka moment. While watching the game unfold, I noticed how players adapted their strategies based on everyone else’s sense of humor. You quickly recognize who responds to toilet humor, political incorrectness, or wildly offensive combinations. Players felt one another’s preferences out, made riskier plays to gauge reactions, and then stored pertinent information for later wins.

As the game progressed, I realized how similar this exchange was to content personalization. Marketers work to understand their audience, offer content they think will resonate, and use the data they gather to create relevant experiences. Marketers would be wise to take notes on how winners in Cards Against Humanity play their hands.

In this blog, I’ll show you what you can learn from Cards Against Humanity as a marketer and how to apply those learnings to your content personalization strategy.

The Overlap Between Marketing and Cards

In truth, there’s nothing personal about a Cards Against Humanity deck. Each version ships with the exact same set of cards. What makes the game feel personal are the unique combinations that play to one’s sensibilities by delivering relevant content.

In the same way, there’s nothing personal about a product offering, sales pitch, or piece of marketing collateral. The personalization emerges when marketers pair that content with the sensibilities of their target audience.

Players win by getting approval from an individual rather than from the entire crowd; marketers win by convincing one person at a time. This gets slightly more complex in the B2B realm, where it’s critical to drive consensus among multiple people in different roles. Regardless of the audience, marketers who manage to personalize content and strive for relevancy will be more successful.

The Content Marketing Institute’s Robert Rose emphasizes the importance of delivering memorable, connected content experiences to audiences when using multiple platforms. Although the mechanism of delivery might change, the people behind the screen do not—they have the same sensibilities and preferences regardless of the platform.

For marketers who are eager to personalize content, Cards Against Humanity provides a beautiful blueprint. Assess your target audience, experiment, collect data, and adjust your approach. Repeat.

4 Steps to Deliver Relevant Experiences

Cards Against Humanity might feel like a silly game, but it provides an opportunity to experience the effectiveness of content personalization. Marketers everywhere can take a few cues from the popular card game to begin experimenting with content personalization.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Chance

Our company has a saying: “No information is still information.” Researching your audience is certainly worthwhile, but all the insight in the world won’t protect you from potential missteps. Instead of fretting about failure, it’s better to put your best foot forward and attempt to appeal to your audience. You can’t win the game if you never play any cards.

Start by publishing content that targets individual buyer personas. Once you have content out in the world, look for patterns in email, web, and social data. Focus on one part of the sales journey, one buyer persona, and one specific goal.

You won’t have all the answers, and that’s OK. Form an initial content personalization strategy and conduct a trial across multiple channels. Collect data on everything, giving equal attention to successful and unsuccessful strategies. Make an investment that will ensure your next attempts are even better.

2. Perform a Competitive Analysis

In Cards Against Humanity, players observe one another’s moves and are able to glean valuable insights with every round. They can see which cards their competitors play, and they can learn by watching how each person responds when they get a chance to be the card czar. Marketers must do the same thing with their competitors.

Analyze the content of the competition to increase your available pool of data. What worked for them? What didn’t? Did your company succeed or fail in the same efforts, or are your competitors doing well in a market you haven’t cracked? Use tools like BuzzSumo, SpyFu, and Crayon to evaluate your industry. Once you know what others are doing, you’ll be better prepared to respond.

3. Refine and Adjust

Players who use the same strategy for each round of Cards Against Humanity rarely emerge with a victory. We’re not playing to the group; we’re playing to the individual. Your one friend might adore toilet humor, but another player could be more amused by political commentary. Successful players watch for patterns and adjust their game accordingly.
Keep in mind, delivering killer content to the right audience in the most effective manner doesn’t guarantee success. Even the most ideal initiative can fall flat from time to time. Learn from past experiences, figure out what the data tells you, and try different approaches to see where content and context work in harmony. Adjust your narrative, messaging, CTAs, images, and format to create an evolving strategy that consistently resonates with your audience. And if it doesn’t, don’t give up.

4. Rinse and Repeat

Once you create an efficient and replicable content personalization strategy, find ways to expand it into new areas. Pursue a new customer base, attack a different point of the sales cycle, or take an entirely new risk and use the same data-driven approach to refine your game. When I play Cards Against Humanity, I like to take a strategy that works for one person and apply it to someone who appears to have similar tastes. I think in terms of persona —watching for patterns and grouping players in my head. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Every time I play, however, I gain insight that will help in future rounds.

Want to see content personalization at play in the real world? Pick up Cards Against Humanity, gather a group of friends, and start playing. After a few rounds, you’ll be astounded by how the game and its strategies mirror the marketing world. By following these tips—and any insights you gain during your own games—you can enrich your content personalization strategy and gain a unique advantage over the competition.

Have you ever had a unique eureka moment like I did? What strategies have come from these moments? I’d love to hear about your inspiration in the comments.

The post What Cards Against Humanity Can Teach Marketers About Content Personalization appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

15 Web Design Trends to Watch in 2018

The landscape of web design is constantly evolving.

Something that looked modern and fresh yesterday can appear dated seemingly overnight, and trends once dismissed as irrevocably passé can unexpectedly cycle back in vogue.

To help you prepare for wherever the web design tide takes us in 2018, we’ve put together a list of 15 trends to keep a close eye on. Check them out below, and get inspired to tackle your web design projects this year with style.

15 Web Design Trends to Watch in 2018

1. Bold Typography

More and more companies are turning to big, bold typography to anchor their homepages. This style works best when the rest of the page is kept minimal and clean, like this example from Brooklyn-based agency Huge

huge-hello.png

2. Cinemagraphs

Cinemagraphs — high-quality videos or GIFs that run on a smooth, continuous loop — have become a popular way to add movement and visual interest to otherwise static pages. Full-screen loops, like this example from Danish agency CP+B Copenhagen, create immediate interest on an otherwise simple page. 

3. Brutalism

To stand out in a sea of tidy, organized websites, some designers are opting for more eclectic, convention-defying structures. While it can seem jarring at first, many popular brands are now incorporating these aggressively alternative design elements into their sites, such as Bloomberg

Brutalism emerged as a reaction to the increasing standardization of web design, and is often characterized by stark, asymmetrical, nonconformist visuals, and a distinct lack of hierarchy and order. In other words, it’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it — like the below example from apparel designer Biannual.

brutalism.png

4. Saturated Gradients

Kaleidoscopic gradients were everywhere in 2017, and they aren’t going anywhere in 2018. Zurich-based agency Y7K illustrates a perfect example of how to make this two-tone effect look fresh and modern, with their full-screen, gradient-washed homepage.

5. Vivid Layers of Color

Staggered, stacked layers of color add depth and texture to a simple site layout, as seen in this stylish example from the São Paulo-based team behind Melissa Meio-Fio.

6. Text-Only

Some websites are cutting out images and prominent navigation sections altogether, relying on a few choice lines of straightforward text to inform visitors about their company.

Danish agency B14 uses their homepage real estate to simply describe their mission statement and provide links to samples of their work. It’s a modern, uncluttered approach to presenting information.

7. Illustration

More companies are turning to illustrators and graphic artists to create bespoke illustrations for their websites. After years dominated by flat design and straightforward minimalism, adding illustrated touches to your site is a great way to inject a little personality, as seen in this charming example from NewActon (designed by Australian digital agency ED).

8. Ultra-minimalism

Taking classic minimalism to the extreme, some designers are defying conventions of what a website needs to look like, displaying just the absolute bare necessities. The site from designer Mathieu Boulet is centered around a few choice links to his social profiles and information.

9. Duotone

These parred-down, two-tone color schemes look cool and contemporary, like this example from Australian Design Radio.

10. Mixing Horizontal and Vertical Text

Freeing text from its usual horizontal alignment and placing it vertically on a page adds some refreshing dimension. Take this example from director Matt Porterfield, which mixes horizontal and vertical text alignments on an otherwise very simple page.

11. Geometric Shapes and Patterns

Whimsical patterns and shapes are popping up more frequently on websites, adding some flair in a landscape otherwise ruled by flat and material design. Canadian design studio MSDS uses daring, patterned letters on their homepage.

12. Serif Fonts

Due to screen resolution limitations and an overall lack of online font support, designers avoided serif fonts for years to keep websites legible and clean. With recent improvements, serif fonts are having a big moment in 2018 — and they’ve never looked more modern. As seen on The Sill, a serif headline adds a dose of sophistication and style. 

serif-font-design-1.png

13. Overlapping Text and Images

Text that slightly overlaps accompanying images has become a popular effect for blogs and portfolios. Freelance art director and front-end developer Thibault Pailloux makes his overlapping text stand out with a colorful underline beneath each title.

14. Organic Shapes

Gone are the days of strict grid layouts and sharp edges — 2018 will be all about curved lines and soft, organic shapes. In the example below from Neobi, the borderline-cartoonish background adds a generous hit of personality and vivid color to the uncomplicated design. 

organic-shapes-1.png

15. Hand-Drawn Fonts

Custom, hand-drawn fonts have started cropping up more and more in recent months — and for good reason. These unique typefaces add character and charm, and help designers create a distinct look and feel without a complete overhaul. On KIKK Festival’s website, a hand-drawn font provides a whimsical anchor for the homepage. 

hand-drawn-font-1.png

What web design trends do you think will really take off in 2018?

download 50 examples of brilliant homepage design

Top 10 SMS marketing blogs of 2017

Wow, what a year that was – 2017 was a huge year for the mighty mobile phone and it looks like there is no stopping it as it continues to grow into 2018.

Back in November 2017, during the Black Friday week, the mobile phone outperformed the desktop computer and every other device used by consumers for online shopping, with a whopping 41% using a mobile phone compared to a desktop computer at 38%.

That is just one of the stats that shows how much mobile phones have grown and we hope that 2017 was as successful for you, as it was for the mobile phone – and hopefully, SMS gave a helping hand in that success.

Throughout 2017 we posted a load of helpful blogs, including handy guides, tips and examples, promoting our amazing deals, like our Black Friday 20% deal, all the way through to how SMS marketing can help businesses grow and make more money.

Below we have put together a list of our 10 most popular SMS posts from 2017, so have a look at what you guys have been reading over the year and either read them again or see what popular posts you may have missed.

1. Examples of SMS marketing messages
At the number 1 spot was our post back in February with example SMS messages and the different areas that these messages could be used in. With examples of marketing messages, booking appointments, taking payments and many more – this one took the top spot by storm.

Read the most popular blog post of 2017

 

2. 8 amazing Black Friday retail tips

For Black Friday this year we posted our 8 top tips on how to get the most out of Black Friday, and wow it looks like you took it on board because this year was the biggest Black Friday yet. With records being smashed left, right and center, and all with a big helping hand from the mobile phone and our blog of course.

Read the second most popular blog post of 2017

8-Amazing-Black-Friday-Tips-IM

 

3. The best time to send retail SMS marketing messages
Just sneaking into the top 3 was our research blog. We undertook a huge research project, looking at data from all different retailers to find out when the best times in the day, best days in the week and the different periods in the year retailers are sending SMS messages.

The findings were new and interesting to us and it also seems you guys liked it and hopefully took advantage of it.

Read the third most popular blog post of 2017

TM-Stat-popular-times

 

4. Our amazing analytics just got even better – with tracked URL clicks!
One of our new features we added into Message Box was the Tracked URL Shorten feature. And it had you guys rushing to your Message Box account and sending messages to your customers.

In case you missed it, our Tracked URL Shorten feature you can track exactly who clicked your URL link, what time the clicked it and if they clicked it multiple times – perfect for a follow-up call or message.

Read the fourth most popular blog post of 2017

amazing analytics

 

5. Email vs SMS marketing. Let the battle commence…
Back in 2015, we had a look at the facts and figures of SMS and email marketing and which came out on top. With 2 years having passed, we took another look at the figures to see if anything had changed – SMS was still number 1.

Read the fifth most popular blog post of 2017

Email vs SMS

 

6. Text Marketer brings you Message Box 2 – business mobile marketing made easy
Message Box is our online SMS platform and back in January we released a new fresh looking and easier to use version – and you loved it.

As soon as it was released it was a huge hit, with a simplified home screen, improved security, re-sizing to fit any screen/device and many more updates and upgrades, it has massively improved and helped customers send SMS messages, quicker and easier.

Read the sixth most popular blog post of 2017

Message Box 2

 

7. 7 amazing marketing stats for 2017
We predicted the mobile phone would rule in 2017 and we took our favourite 7 stats to showcase the power of the mobile phone and why businesses should be using it in 2017.

Read the seventh most popular blog post of 2017

7-Amazing-marketing-stats-2017

 

8. Cilento Designer Wear see big results from SMS marketing in-store and online
Nothing speaks more volume of how good a product or service is than a review. And in this case, a case study from the guys over at Cliento Designer Wear saw you guys flock to the page to read how they use SMS and what they get out of it.

Read the eighth most popular blog post of 2017

Cilento-IM

 

9. Example SMS marketing messages for retail
After the huge response we got from our post, that is ranked at number 1, Examples of SMS marketing messages, we decided to give you even more examples but this time specifically for retailers, with over 20 example SMS messages for different scenarios.

Read the ninth most popular blog post of 2017

Example-SMS-retail-messages

 

10. Valentine’s day 2017 stats
With love on the horizon, back in early February, we created a blog and an infographic with some fun stats on Valentine’s day. Who spends more, men or women? When do certain demographics look to purchase their loved ones a special gift, and much more.

Read the tenth most popular blog post of 2017

Valentines-Day-Stats-2017

 

Well, it is always nice to finish on a loving note, and we hoped all our 2017 blogs, and not just those above, have helped you in some way – and remember, keep an eye out for all our exciting blogs and updates in 2018.

What’s Ahead for Native Advertising in 2018?

Where is native advertising headed in this new year?

This week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) issued a variety of 2018 member predictions from Bidtellect, GumGum, Influential, rewardStyle, Sharethrough, StartApp, Storyful, Triplelift, Turner Ignite, and Unruly.

In addition to a fantastic blog post summary, the IAB also dropped this eye-opening infographic, which is shared below for your review.

Check it out and buckle up for a busy year in the native ad space.

The post What’s Ahead for Native Advertising in 2018? appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

New year, new Social WiFi – changes to the login and email systems

To start 2018 on a highly positive note, we have implemented an entirely new look of our system after almost 2 months of testing; regarding both the login process and messages!

Our first radical change of layout happened 3 years ago. Since then, the stanards have been evolving constantly, resulting with our latest achievement. Thanks to an amazing collabboration between designers and UX experts, not only does the system look better than ever, but also its funcionality has been boosted.

User path is not the only part affected. Apart from the login process, welcome pages, campaigns and reviews, we have also refreshed the notification system for our Clients. It allows for an even more efficient management of smart WiFi.

The post New year, new Social WiFi – changes to the login and email systems appeared first on Social WiFi.

Sweat your way to rewards

Studies of consumer psychology tell us that consumers are motivated by rewards and recognition. Entice them with economic rewards and soft benefits that induce positive feelings about your brand, and they will buy more, buy more often, tell their friends, and develop a lasting relationship with your brand that instills customer loyalty. Do the same techniques work to motivate personal behavior changes that lead to life improvements? The jury is still out—but a new smart phone app aims to test the theory.

By Rick Ferguson

Sweatcoin is an iOS and Android app designed to motivate more active lifestyles by rewarding smartphone users with promotional currency called, naturally, sweatcoins, which can in turned be redeemed for anything from small-denomination gift cards up to a new iPhone X. The tiered app is free at the basic “Mover” level, with options to move up to three higher fee-based tiers that accelerate earning. In this iteration, Sweatcoin only rewards currency for outdoor walking; indoor activities such as walking/running on a treadmill or track don’t yet count towards rewards, although the company claims to be working on an update that counts indoor activities.

While there’s a temptation to assume that a wellness app would offer such a low funding rate that the rewards would be unmotivating, Lifehacker is modestly pleased with the earning velocity:

“You [can] get to a few rewards reasonably quickly. Roughly every 1,000 steps you take is worth 1 sweat coin. At 10k steps a day you’d be able to get a FitBit Flex (550 coins) in close to 2 months, which might turn into close to four if you’re not getting credit for everything. Other prizes start at much lower price points and can be nabbed after just a few days.”

If you’re wondering whether a garden-variety points program is a big deal—even one that rewards you for walking—then you may be interested to know that, according to the New York Times, Sweatcoin has become the most downloaded health and fitness application in the US on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play. London-based Sweatco raised $1.6 million in venture capital to launch the app, and should close on another round soon. That success is due entirely to the app’s business model, which is based on classic loyalty marketing techniques.

Still, the app is not without its detractors; central to customer complaints are the 5 percent breakage the app mandates in its terms and conditions—which the company calls “commission to keep the lights on”—and its mysterious tendency to withhold earned sweatcoins, which the company claims is an algorithm-driven process designed to combat fraud. Money quote from the Times:

“[Oleg] Fomenko, the Sweatcoin co-founder, told me the app’s ‘draconian algorithm’ is meant to deter cheating techniques like, say, strapping a phone to a pet dog. And that fraud-deterrence system may verify fewer steps than users expect, he said. In practice, according to the app’s help section, that means the Sweatcoin algorithm typically verifies 65 percent of a user’s total steps.”

The Times review also mentions that the app is making a potentially fatal mistake: removing rewards from its redemption catalog before users can earn enough currency to redeem for them. The company receives a fee from manufacturers and brands who market their products to Sweatcoin users, which makes the company beholden more to its reward suppliers than it is to users. High-end rewards, meanwhile, are relatively unattainable—it can take five years of walking to earn an iPhone X, for example—which can also be demotivating. The company must also resist the siren song of selling users’ data, which it claims to have no intention of doing—for now.

These missteps aren’t yet fatal, as the number of downloads and the relatively strong user ratings attest. To build sustainable user loyalty, however, Sweatcoin will need to refine its approach. It’s a great start—let’s hope that the company can reach the finish line.

Rick Ferguson is Editor in Chief of the Wise Marketer Group and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).

The post Sweat your way to rewards appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

Here's What It's Really Like to Ride in a Self-Driving Car

Remember that exciting self-driving car news we broke yesterday?

AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah — largely known for its roadside assistance services — has partnered with Torc Robotics to develop safety criteria for self-driving cars.

It all started when AAA launched its autonomous vehicle shuttle in Las Vegas back in November — which reportedly got into an accident on its first day of operation.

So when I had the opportunity to go for a spin in one at CES, did I accept it anyway?

Absolutely.

And I didn’t stop there. As long as I was in the area, I decided to hop on for a ride in a self-driving Navya taxi, too.

Here’s what it was like — and what I learned.

Here’s What It’s Really Like to Ride in a Self-Driving Car

These Vehicles Aren’t Really Driverless

When I told my friends and colleagues that I would be taking AAA’s driverless shuttle for a spin, it was met with mixed reaction. “I’ll pray for you,” “be safe,” and “that’s exciting” were among the responses.

Regardless, I was excited. Here’s how things started out:

The first thing I discovered was that most of these autonomous vehicles, at this point, are not entirely driverless. On the shuttle, for instance, riders are joined by a human operator who’s required to have a special class of driver’s license for autonomous vehicles.

So why, then, are these vehicles labeled as “self-driving”? Well, they are. The shuttle moves, brakes, and regulates its speed independently.

But the technology is still new enough that, for safety reasons, it helps to have a human present who can override the system in certain cases. That became necessary, for example, when we made a stop a donut shop and the doors closed before I could capture a photo — and the human operator was able to manually open them for me.

But these human operators are really present for safety reasons more than they are for photo ops. While I didn’t feel unsafe during the ride — we stopped for humans, traffic lights, and even birds — the Navya taxi, for its part, had trouble moving forward, even once the pigeon that had been in its path flew away. Our human operator was able to override the system to get us going again, and also had the ability to stop the vehicle in the case of an emergency.

The Biggest Selling Point: What You Can Do in the Car

One thing that continually comes up in the conversations at CES about driverless cars is how much time they give back to commuters. Instead of idly sitting in traffic, for example, riders can spend that time on the road doing something else, like catching up on work.

But when I first wrote about the AAA shuttle yesterday, you might recall that I identified autonomous vehicles as a potential new content distribution channel — an area of opportunity that Navya has seized for its fleet of self-driving taxis.

The service works much like most ride-sharing programs like Lyft and Uber do now: You hail a car from your phone, which you also must use to open the vehicle’s door (this is most likely a security play, since there won’t be a human driver to ask riders to identify themselves).

Once you’re in the car, you can play the music of your choice, and use the many screens built into the vehicle to check on your flight status, buy movie tickets, and more.

But if this technology sounds redundant to you — you’re not alone.

For example, many of us (yours truly included) already do these things during rides on our phones. As someone who doesn’t own a car, for example, I already use the time during rides to the airport, for example, to check my flight status, make restaurant reservations, and — well, many of the other things that are built into the Navya taxi’s capabilities.

However, it is a fairly novel concept to those who are often the ones behind the wheel, and lose that time to watching the road instead of executing tasks on their phones. And to me, that’s one of the biggest upsides to self-driving technology on a macro level: the reduction of car ownership, and the added transportation accessibility it provides for aging populations and persons with disabilities.

It All Feels Remarkably Familiar — and That’s a Good Thing

But for all of this innovation, there’s a problem: Only 38% of Americans are enthusiastic about the idea of riding in self-driving vehicles.

Allow me to put those fears to rest. My broad takeaway from my driverless shuttle and taxi ride is that if you’re used to riding on buses and subways — this is anticlimactic.

Maybe riding in a standard, four-person sedan with no driver would feel a bit weirder — an opportunity that Lyft was providing to a lucky few at CES who weren’t met with this message:

But as far as my experience goes, riding in these autonomous vehicles feels like riding on public transportation. And ultimately, I believe that’s a good thing — the sense of familiarity means less of a “learning curve” for passengers, especially in the urban settings where many of these programs are being piloted. It won’t seem as scary or extremely new.

Instead, I anticipate that most riders will have more of a reaction of, “Well, that’s cool,” and then return to their standard public transportation activities of choice, like listening to music or reading a book. For my part, if I had my earbuds on and was simply staring out the window, I’ll be honest: This wouldn’t have felt like a particularly groundbreaking experience.

Looking Ahead

The human operator element plays a part here, too. Earlier this week, during the LG CES press event, a new feature was announced in which home appliances are able — by way of machine learning, I suspect — to proactively detect and remotely repair mechanical issues, often before the user even knows that there’s a problem.

Self-driving cars, I anticipate, are learning how to do the same thing. But the stakes are much higher for a vehicle than, say, a washing machine — and that’s why, while the machines collect data and learn how to fix themselves, the human presence is both crucial and reassuring.

When it comes to autonomous vehicles, we’re just getting started. The topic dominated much of the dialogue at CES, with several brands announcing their latest innovations and progress within the realm.

And while public fears are not entirely unfounded — no technology is perfect, I would agree — I believe that market permeation of self-driving cars on a large scale will ultimately carry more environmental, social, and accessibility benefits than not.

As always, I’m open to your take on things. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and questions on Twitter — and to see more insights and announcements from CES 2018.

Top 20 Free & Paid WordPress Travel Themes

The tourism industry thrives on imagery, which is why a travel company’s website should have two goals. One is to get customers to visualize themselves in your destinations by providing great images and information. The other is to provide a complete and easy platform for customers to sign up and pay for their travel. You…

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3 Technologies to Watch (and Use) Today

Marketing is going through a technology revolution. Bold statement, right? For proof, just take a look at Marketo’s 2018 Predictions, and you’ll find a beefy technology section as well as numerous predictions that are fueled, if not dependent, on advancing technology. More than ever before, to evolve as marketers, we must embrace the technology innovations that will help us keep up with (and stay ahead of) ever-increasing customer expectations. We at Marketo see three key areas where technology will lead the way in 2018 and beyond: artificial intelligence built for marketersaccount-based marketing, and personalization technologies.

In this blog, we’ll look at three technologies that will elevate the field of marketing, and I’ll share some ways you can begin using these today—including some of the newest features and enhancements from our most recent product release.

Artificial Intelligence Built for Marketers

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic. Everyone is talking about it, and there’s no shortage of AI-based technologies. But right now, some of these seem a little disconnected—like trying to apply the theory of relativity to marketing. E=mc2 is just not the right formula to drive marketing results! Damn it, Jim, I’m a marketer, not a theoretical mathematician!

As we progress into 2018, keep your eye on the AI space, and you’ll see that the winners are not just building nebulous AI products but purpose-building AI technologies that integrate into unified marketing platforms. With these, you’ll find very specific use cases and real-world benefits for marketers.

Look for a solution that uses AI-powered insights to create personal experiences and deliver relevant content at the right moment, on the right channel at scale. You should be able to add predictive content suggestions to your web pages and emails automatically. In our recent release, we enhanced Marketo’s ContentAI analytics to help you better understand how your content is performing for different audiences. Being able to see how your content is resonating with your known versus unknown leads and how it performs for audiences from different locations or in different industries will take AI from theory to reality. This intelligence not only fuels automated content suggestions in your campaigns but can also help you to focus your marketing efforts on creating and leveraging content that will answer your buyer’s questions and move the needle for your business.

Account-Based Marketing Technology

In Marketo’s 2018 Predictions, you’ll see that 2018 is expected to be the year of Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Over the coming year, we’re predicting greater adoption of account-based marketing strategies and a higher focus on personalized experiences for the accounts that matter. With ABM, there’s no need to wait—it’s a proven strategy and the technology is here for you to use today.

Putting these available technologies into practice today, you’re able to coordinate engagement of accounts between sales and marketing through account-centric targeting, personalization, and measurement. This helps you to engage select companies and the leads within them to move them towards a goal—whether that’s an initial sale, cross-sell or upsell, contract renewal or even advocacy. To help you succeed, we’ve released innovations in the last several releases including enhanced lead to account matching, the introduction of the Account Insights desktop plugin which surfaces actionable ABM and account insights to sales teams, and in our most recent release, enhancements to ABM account discovery that enable teams to target whitespace accounts. These coupled with the blending of AI with ABM as discussed above with the ability to analyze how content is resonating across ABM account lists put the power of account-based marketing at your fingertips today.

Personalization Technologies

Here’s another bold statement: in 2018, personalization across channels will no longer be an option but rather an expectation from customers. You can bet that your customers expect a consistent experience from your company that’s relevant to their specific interests as an individual—no matter where they are interacting with your brand. To accomplish this, you’ll need to reach your audiences at the right place at the right time with messages that resonate on a one-to-one basis.

There are several technologies available today to help. The first is web personalization. With all the effort we put into segmenting and personalizing emails to drive engagement, it’s a big miss for marketers not to personalize their webpages (which typically have more eyes on them every day than emails do). With personalization, you should be able to create web campaigns that display the most relevant messaging, content, and calls to action for each web visitor just as easily as you personalize your emails. In our most recent release, we’ve even added the ability to use tokens in your web campaigns so your pages can be personalized with a visitor’s name, company name, and more to help you deepen engagement and drive conversions—and to help you achieve that level of personalization across channels your audience expects.

Another way to personalize across channels comes from the merging of AdTech and MarTech which enables us to listen and respond across channels while also giving us new ways of understanding the whole customer lifecycle. For instance, with Linkedin Lead Gen forms, you now have the ability to customize forms, giving you the ability to better understand and optimize the customer journey. Essentially, you can now customize the questions to capture the unique lead details you really want. With this information, you can gain deeper insights into your audience for use in all your cross-channel campaigns.

Lastly, we should talk about personalizing emails. Email is definitely not dead. If you’re like me, I saw how alive it is when I opened up my inbox for the first time after the winter holidays. Most of the messages I received were personalized with at least my name and/or company name—but there’s so much more to personalization than saying ‘Hi Mike!’ That’s why our recent release included enhancements to make it even easier for email marketers that are using dynamic content in their emails to see how these emails will render for each segment. We’ve also added a top-requested feature that allows email marketers to specify the delivery of emails in the recipients’ time zone, making it more likely to be opened than if it were delivered at 3 AM (unless you’re marketing an insomnia remedy, that is).

These are just a few top-of-mind technologies and trends that I see enhancing the way we as marketers engage our audiences. What technologies do you foresee propelling the field of marketing forward in the future? What strategies and tactics will you be adopting this year? I’d love to hear about your plans. Tell me about them in the comments.

The post 3 Technologies to Watch (and Use) Today appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

At #CES2018, Lessons Emerge on Brand Loyalty and a Connected Ecosystem

Today marks the second Media Day of CES 2018, and to kick things off, LG debuted a number of new technologies at this morning’s press conference.

As one might expect, the announcements leaned quite heavily toward Smart Home, with LG’s ecosystem boasting a suite of abilities — many of them AI-powered. There’s the “Smart Service” feature, for instance: the technology that detects potential problems with appliances (like your washer or dryer) and proactively notifies the service center, often fixing the issue before the user even knows there is one.

It was reminiscent, for me, of many of the announcements made in October at the Samsung Developer Conference — the idea of a unified ecosystem (LG’s is called ThinQ) that’s powered by machine learning solutions, all on an open platform. One of the differentiating factors announced today, for example, is LG’s connectivity among home, car, and office: the type of technology that allows, for example, your refrigerator to send a message to your car notifying you if you need to go to the grocery store.

But as I was busy live-tweeting and day-dreaming about filling my home with these oh-so-smart devices, I noticed this:

The flaw, Fowler points out, is the thinking that most consumers exclusively equip their homes with appliances from a single brand. It proposes a world, for example, where you don’t have GE appliances in your kitchen and a Samsung TV (such as yours truly) — you have one, single brand filling your home with everything.

LG did note that users will be able to control IoT devices manufactured by other brands from your refrigerator panel. But there enters the concept of practicality — how often are you in standing directly in front of your fridge when you need to, for example, remotely control any other given device in your home?

Which leads me to another question: Just how far will consumers go when it comes to brand loyalty?

When it comes to the marketer’s job, there are two key takeaways here. The first is to determine how — and to begin, if — your brand is equipped to build such an ecosystem, regardless of your industry. Are your products and services connected to complement each other and work in synergy to enhance the customer or user experience? 

But building a branded ecosystem with the customer in mind is a double-edged sword. Is built in a way, for example, that if the products and services are fragmented — for example, the customer has bought into one piece of the ecosystem, but not the whole thing — the user experience is somehow diminished?

As marketers begin to build upon and work to stay ahead of these emerging trends and technologies — the Internet of Things, voice search, and growing AI-powered capabilities — these are crucial questions to ask until they are answered in a way that, without a doubt, only enhances the user experience, even if they don’t or can’t buy into an entire ecosystem.

That’s not to say I discourage this type of connected thinking — in fact, I still recommend at least thinking about the ways brands and marketers can build a suite of products and services with complementary connectivity at this sort. But as I often emphasize: Do so with the user in mind.

As always, I’m open to your take. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and questions on Twitter — and to see more insights and announcements from CES 2018.

Featured image credit: LG

Text Marketer’s Winter Wonder Sale – Get 10% Free SMS

It’s the time of year for a thick warm coat and an extra log on the fire… However it’s also a time for planning the new year and Winter Sales!!

So as it being the turn of the year and to try and help ease those January blues, we thought we would launch our very own Winter Sale.

Whether you have got big plans for 2018, a Winter Sale, new products to launch or have some extra money to spend before the end of the financial year… Now is the perfect time to stock up on some warming free SMS credits.

Any purchase of 1,000 credits or more between Monday 8th January – Wednesday 28th February will receive an extra 10% SMS credits for free!

To claim, forward your invoice to [email protected] with the header WINTERSALE – the offer CANNOT be used with any existing offer or discount, but can be used multiple times during the period.

Happy SMS’ing

Go2mobi Touts Total Control API for Building Custom Programmatic Advertising Features

Go2mobi, a top self-serve mobile demand side platform (DSP), turns the levers of control over to mobile advertisers, providing them with the tools and technology to target, report on, and optimize every aspect of their mobile advertising campaigns.

That’s the official word shared with MMW ahead of the weekend.

According to a provided statement, Go2mobi’s Application Programming Interface (API) allows agencies, trade desks, and performance marketers to leverage the power of its mobile programmatic DSP to build anything from time-saving workflows, customized bidder logic, to full-blown custom DSP platforms.

Go2mobi’s Total Control API gives those looking to build custom advertising solutions a head start with industry-leading real time bidding (RTB) infrastructure that processes over 1,000,000 queries per second.

Go2mobi’s light account setup and dedicated specialists dramatically accelerate time to value. Developers and media buyers can go to market quickly with custom campaigns leveraging the functionality, speed, ease-of-use and high call limit of Go2mobi’s Total Control API™.

MMW is told that with Go2mobi’s API, advertisers can achieve a variety of efficiencies, including automating micro-campaign creation, automating campaign optimization, integrating the Total Control API with their spreadsheet software, integrating Go2mobi features directly into their own tracking platforms and creating data visualization and unified reporting.

For advertisers using the API, Go2mobi’s experienced account managers provide technical support every step of the way, ensuring their customers achieve maximum results. Thorough, user-friendly API documentation is also publicly available on Go2mobi’s developer site.

“With our Total Control API, Go2mobi brings a toolset for mobile advertising that is significantly more flexible and powerful to meet the growing needs of our clients’ specific use cases,” said Tom Desaulniers, president and co-founder of Go2mobi.

The post Go2mobi Touts Total Control API for Building Custom Programmatic Advertising Features appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

The 3 Rules to Choosing a Professional Email Address

75% of customers agree a professional email address is key to building trust with a small business, according to GoDaddy. In an era where consumers are increasingly wary of scams, we can all agree that [email protected] isn’t going to land many clients. In this guide, we explain the 3 simple rules to creating a professional…

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2018: Survey Says!

I realize that not everyone watched the game show “Family Feud” growing up, which is the source of the title for this blog, so here’s a random link to an entire episode that you may want to watch, just to absorb the quality of the analogy. Or, you can skip that entirely and go straight to the good stuff.

Now…prepare for me to use the word “market” in its various forms a LOT in this next sentence. The Marketing team at Marketo asked marketers in the Marketing Nation a series of questions regarding their marketing plans for 2018. Phew. The results are below, with a little commentary from our team and me with each data point, so please read on and comment!

Question #1: In 2018, I expect my Marketing budget to…

  • Increase—50%
  • Decrease—11%
  • Stay the same—39%

Key takeaways: It’s good for everyone in Marketing when investment goes up, especially for half of all respondents. That said, there’s an interesting point about where money is going in 2018, regardless of an increase or decrease in aggregate investment. Technology, personalized content, account-based marketing (ABM), and analytics are dominant investment themes, with AI showing up more now than ever before. It will be interesting to see if marketers are experimenting with AI, or actually putting it “in the game,” so to speak.

Question #2: How much of your content do you personalize?

  • All of my content—1%
  • A majority of my content—19%
  • Some of my content—70%
  • None—11%

Key takeaways: The bell curve is shifting, with more content being personalized now more than ever. However,


my caution to marketers is that you need to shift to personalizing a majority of your content in 2018, or you will face an accelerated increase in communication opt-out from your customers and prospects.


Personalizing content at a highly granular level can be daunting and expensive, so a suggestion is to start by putting AI to work in this area. Marketo Content AI, for example, automatically delivers specific content to individuals based on behavior or key values (It doesn’t “auto” customize. Let’s keep our feet on the ground—it’s not 2019!). There are a number of really interesting personalization technologies out there that different organizations are working on (take a look at Vidyard’s personalized video or Folloze’s ABM personalization), so I’d encourage every marketer to do their homework and get their content more personalized!

Question #3: How well are your marketing activities integrated into your customer journey?

  • Very well—4%
  • Pretty well—33%
  • OK—44%
  • Not wel—19%

Key takeaways: To quote one of our great marketers at Marketo “Just OK or Not Well won’t cut it, and that’s what nearly two-thirds of marketers surveyed are doing.” I think that sums it up nicely, so here’s an actionable suggestion:


go beyond building a journey map and create an engagement strategy for your customers and prospects in 2018


. Answer key questions like “How do we and should we engage our customers across every line of business in their journey?” Do that and you are on the road to engagement nirvana!

Question #5: What role will AI play for you in 2018?

  • A big role.—7%
  • Some role, it’s already a part of some of the tools I use today.—13%
  • Some role, but it’s not part of the tools I use today.—33%
  • None, I see the value in AI, but will not be able to leverage it yet.—40%
  • None, I don’t understand how it can benefit my job.—7%

Key takeaways: Per my previous point on AI, it’s clear that marketers see value, but aren’t sure where to deploy it in order to get return. Part of the challenge is that every vendor wants to be buzzword compliant, and no one will make it through a marketing technology presentation in 2018 without hearing the term “AI” or a clever name for an AI engine. Start by educating yourself on AI in general and where the pragmatic deployment scenarios will provide you return as well as acclimate your marketing organization to this wide-ranging technology. Here’s a good read from late 2017 on AI and marketing that can get you started!

Question #6: Which activity will have the biggest impact on your business in 2018?

  • Better sales and marketing alignment—24%
  • Improved ability to track ROI—28%
  • More comprehensive analytics—6%
  • Better integration within my MarTech stack—13%
  • Leveraging innovative marketing practices—10%
  • Driving more value from my marketing spend—6%
  • Working more closely with IT—1%
  • Aligning my marketing activities to corporate business objectives—12%

Key takeaways: Understanding ROI as well as aligning Sales and Marketing are the dominant themes here, which are very consistent with themes from 2017. While not surprising, it does mean that we all still have work to do. Technology vendors owe marketers better solutions to address all these topics and specifically regarding ROI and alignment. A suggestion is to start by thinking about consolidating some technology products vs. buying more from a lot of different vendors. Obviously, that’s a little self-serving, but part of our vision at Marketo is to deliver an Engagement Platform for Marketing, much like sales has a CRM platform. I do see more sales tools integrated closely with MarTech, and the reason that’s happening is due to the importance of attribution and ROI tracking. Marketing can’t keep creating opportunities only to hand them off to a black box CRM that doesn’t close the loop and provide real ROI data!

In aggregate, I am really encouraged by the optimism that comes through from marketers for 2018—it tells me we will see more innovation, more personalization, and more consolidation in the technology landscape. I can’t wait to see what the brilliant members of the Marketing Nation do in 2018, and I’m looking forward to celebrating your achievements at Marketing Nation Summit in April! See you there, and happy New Year! For more blogs from me and thought leadership from the C-Suite, check out CMO Nation.

The post 2018: Survey Says! appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

How HubSpot's Pricing Page Redesign Increased MQL Conversions by 165% & Free Sign-Ups by 89%

A few months ago during INBOUND 2017, we launched a complete redesign of HubSpot’s website pricing page. Not because it hadn’t been redesigned in a few years (it hadn’t), but because we saw a big conversion opportunity from a page that had a lot of untapped potential.

And boy, did it pay off. Not only did we increase the number of MQLs the page generated by 165%, but we also increased sign-ups for our free products by 89%.

It’s no small feat to increase free product sign-ups while also increasing the number of people who raise their hand and say they want to talk to our sales team about our premium products. But I’m not really here to brag about numbers (though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t even a little bit proud). I’m here to talk about process.

A redesign of a website’s pricing page is typically a huge undertaking that involves a lot of company stakeholders. For us, those stakeholders were web strategy (my team), product marketing, sales operations, legal, pricing and packaging, and localization. And when you have that many opinions involved, it’s easy to cave in and make compromises that A) dilute the overall quality of the work you’re doing, and B) detract from the original goals of your redesign.

So keep reading if you want to learn more about our research behind the redesign, our goals, how we made sure we stuck to those goals during a months-long redesign process with multiple stakeholders, and why we changed what we did. 

Before and After 

You can check out how the old page looked via the Wayback Machine here, and you can find the new page here. Or just take a look at the quick snapshot below … 

Before

old-pricing-page-1.png

After

hubspot-pricing-page-1.png

The Goals of the Redesign

The pricing page has always stood out to my team as being rife with opportunity. Up until this redesign, it had been built primarily as a sales enablement tool. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s also important to note that the pricing page is the second most visited page on our website — second only to our homepage. As a result, the pricing page generates a lot of really broad traffic from visitors who, compared to the sales reps the page was originally optimized for, have much less knowledge of our products.

This meant we had been neglecting to optimize the page for its primary user: the website visitor. As a result, the pricing page was converting visitors at a poor rate, and given the hefty amount of traffic it generates every month, we hypothesized that we were leaving a whole lot of conversations on the table. So our goals were twofold.

  1. Optimize for conversions. Our pricing page should either drive visitors to sign up for a free product or contact our sales team.
  2. Create a positive user experience. Pricing should be presented in a way that is both transparent and easy for users to understand.

The Research Behind the Design

The new pricing page was launched near the end of September, but we started conducting research to lay the groundwork for the redesign way back in May, and let me tell you: It was extensive. In fact, pretty much every decision we made about every aspect of the redesign — the copy, the layout, the user experience, the design, the conversion events — all of it had roots in some aspect of our research.

Defining Guardrails and Omissions

We compiled our goals and the findings of our research into a slide deck that defined specific guardrails and omissions for the redesign based on the insights we uncovered through our research and discovery phase.

We shared this deck with all the page’s key stakeholders and asked them to sign off on the plan before we got started. This gave us a document to refer back to throughout the redesign process to ensure we were staying true to our goals and sticking to our guardrails.

Here’s a look at the different types of research we conducted and how its insights led to specific changes on the pricing page. 

1. Qualitative Data

First, we analyzed the performance of the existing pricing page from a traffic and conversion perspective.

From this, we learned that people on the pricing page preferred to pick up the phone and give us a call, which led to our decision to feature the sales phone number more prominently in the new design.

We also learned that pricing page users were actively clicking between the pricing for our different products (the Marketing Hub, the Sales Hub, and HubSpot CRM), so we made the navigation between products even more prominent so users could move freely from one product’s pricing to another’s.

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2. Pre-Testing of Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

In the months leading up to the redesign, we also did some A/B testing to inform our pricing page’s conversion strategy. Historically, the CTAs for the paid products on our pricing page had always linked to our contact sales landing page. But those CTAs had a really poor conversion rate, so we tested them against a demo CTA that led to our demo landing page instead.

While the demo CTAs generated a higher volume of conversions, the data showed that the contact sales CTAs would ultimately result in more customers (due to the higher close rate of contact sales conversions). This informed our decision to keep that contact sales conversion on the new page.

To inform our CTA copy decisions, we ran an additional CTA copy test (“Contact Sales” vs. “Talk to Sales”) and saw a 46% increase in clickthrough rate with the use of the “Talk to Sales” copy, which we therefore implemented in the redesign.

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3. Chat Transcripts

We also reviewed transcripts of the chat conversations that were happening on the pricing page to determine the common questions users were asking while they were on the page.

From this, we learned that people were often skeptical that the CRM was truly free, which led to our decision to incorporate copy on the CRM pricing page to directly address that concern.

We also learned that people were confused by the contact tier pricing for the Marketing Hub, so we incorporated a slider that shows users how purchasing additional contacts directly impacts their pricing, and also added a tooltip to explain to users what “contacts” are.

Lastly, we learned that because we had only been displaying pricing for our Marketing Basic, Professional, and Enterprise plans on our main pricing page (with pricing for our free and Starter plans living on an entirely separate, fairly hidden page), the $200 Marketing Basic price tag gave a lot of visitors sticker shock. This supported our decision to incorporate pricing for our free and Starter plans (and sign-up CTAs for our free marketing tools) into the core pricing page to prevent users from disqualifying themselves based on cost alone, and from getting scared away before getting started with our software.

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4. Interviews With HubSpot Sales Managers & Reps

Knowing that the pricing page is still an important tool for our sales team, we interviewed sales managers and reps alike to gather their feedback on the old pricing page — what they liked and didn’t like, what was working for and against them, and what other opportunities they saw for the upcoming redesign.

From this, we learned that we weren’t putting enough emphasis on the customer support we have — and that customers see it as just as valuable as any other software feature. This led to our decision to include customer support in the page’s feature grid, and to dedicate an entire section of the page to highlighting our various customer support options for paying customers.

We also learned that pricing page users need help determining which particular plan is right for them, and that we should make pricing transparent enough for users to understand what they get with each plan, but also intricate enough that users need diagnostic and prescriptive help from a sales rep. So we updated the copy for the descriptions that go along with each plan to help users more easily self-identify which one is right for them. We also used the copy positioned next to the the sales phone number to communicate to users that the best way to determine the right plan is to talk to a salesperson directly.

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5. Qualitative User Testing

Furthermore, we conducted user testing on the old pricing page to understand what was already working, and where it fell short.

In addition to further validating insights from some of our other forms of research (e.g. the sticker shock of the Marketing Hub, the confusing contact tier pricing, the oversight of not featuring our customer support services more prominently, users’ difficulty in determining which plan is right for them, and the need for the easy navigation between pricing for different products), we also learned about the elements of the old pricing page that were particularly important to users: transparent pricing, a pricing calculator component, and the ability to easily compare plans.

In addition, we learned that users were having a difficult time comparing the value between different plans, and we discovered that the page’s cognitive load was high. In other words, there was too much information on the page for users to process at once, and they were suffering from information overload.

This led to our decisions to use expandable modules on certain parts of the page to reduce cognitive load, and to redesign the feature comparison table into something that A) was simplified and more easily digestible, and B) made it easier for users to compare the value between plans — the feature grid we have today.

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6. Competitive Analysis

Pulling primarily from the Montclare SAAS 250 list of the most successful SAAS companies, we also spent time gathering examples of other companies’ pricing pages, analyzed the pros and cons of each approach, and drew inspiration from the pieces we liked.

This helped us validate that the new SKU/plan navigation we were planning to implement (to enable users to easily toggle between pricing plans and compare the available features) was a smart direction.

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7. Building for a Scalable Future

My team keeps testing road maps for many of the core, heavy-hitting pages on our website. Here, we document all the tests we’d like to run and the insights from research we’ve done to come up with those testing ideas — all organized into a timeline of what we should test first.

So as part of the redesign, we sat down with HubSpot Chief Strategy Officer Brad Coffey so we could design a pricing page that would easily scale with, adapt to, and align with our potential business strategy.

Evaluating the Results of the Redesign

After the redesigned page went live, we repeated a lot of the research above to check in on how the new page was performing.

We’ve already mentioned that the redesign led to 165% more hand-raisers and 89% more free users in the month after the redesign (9/27/17 – 10/24/17) compared to the month prior (8/29/17 – 9/25/17), but we also conducted user testing and solicited feedback from our sales team on the new design. Here’s a summary of the feedback we gathered and the ways we’re acting on it.

Feedback From User Testing

From user testing, we learned that the new pricing page design is strong — users intuitively use much of the design, and it’s easy for them to understand what they’d be getting from each pricing plan.

Users also commented that the conversion events on the page seemed well-balanced and not intrusive. They said the CTAs throughout the page to talk to Sales, call us, and chat with us weren’t overly aggressive; they were actually helpful!

We also identified some room for improvement, and learned that there were some small design and copy tweaks we could implement to improve the user experience even further still, which we’ve been following up on.

Feedback From the Sales Team

In addition to users, we also solicited feedback from our sales team, who identified a few updates we could make to the design to make our pricing even more transparent and user-friendly to prospects.

As a result, for example, we made the pricing page URL dynamic so it  changes based on a user’s selections in the pricing calculator. This made it much easier for sales reps to share specific pricing configurations with prospects, who could in turn share those configurations with other decision-makers in their company.

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Design Based on Insights

Our redesign wasn’t successful by chance, and none of the changes we made were made on a whim. All of the decisions we made (the copy, the layout, the user experience, the design, the conversion events) were strategic and deliberate, rooted in insights we learned from some aspect of our research. 

The lesson is this: When you test and design based on insights you’ve learned from real research, that’s how you generate real results.

So if you’re considering a redesign, make sure there is a real, data-backed reason for doing it, and do your due diligence to identify which parts of your design are failing (and why) so you know exactly what to fix and how to fix it. Redesigns are a time-consuming, and often expensive, undertaking, so you’ll want to do your best to make sure the results were worth the effort. 

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