Kohl’s Rewards Gets It Right

Yet Another Chapter in Kohl’s Long History of Loyalty

It’s a tough time to be a department store. A recent Forbes summary of the situation highlighted how one-fifth of all department stores in the US have closed since 2018; and while very few retailers are immune from the difficult times that have befallen the economy, department stores are especially hard hit in the face of changing customer behaviors, outdated business models, and customer loyalty that has all but moved on.

But these challenges aren’t scaring Kohl’s. In fact, the brand is strengthening and updating its loyalty program, and is squarely aimed at winning over new customers while gaining share of wallet in an incomparably heated competitive landscape. The latest chapter in Kohl’s loyalty evolution is just another page in a storied history of navigating, optimizing, and experimenting with program formats to better reach its customers.

Kohl’s Through the Years

Kohl’s began its loyalty exploration in a paradigm familiar to many other department stores of the day: a simplified store branded credit card designed to connect shoppers with purchase incentives and rewards. And like many other retail institutions, the inherent challenges of connecting greater audiences became apparent. Those who did not qualify or were simply not interested in holding yet another card in their overflowing wallets were excluded from the program entirely.

Kohl’s began to look beyond this model with the introduction of their Yes2You Rewards program in 2014. Enacted as a multi-tender strategy, membership was free, and had several integrated technologies for an enhanced user experience; in 2016, Kohl’s introduced Kohl’s Pay, enabling customers to transact their purchases and simultaneously earn Yes2You Rewards loyalty points with a single tap using Apple Pay. The bottom line for members was a flexible platform that earned one point for every dollar spent and received a $5 reward after reaching 100 points. Over the years, the program grew to 30 million members. But in that time, department stores still shuttered; customer loyalty continued look past the sea of aisles and yearn for relevant relationships; and Kohl’s realized they had to change with the times to keep audience fandom fresh.

It’s Game Time With Kohl’s Rewards

Kohl’s is earnestly trying to right the ship, and its latest program, “Kohl’s Rewards”, is evidence of their tenacity amidst difficult circumstances. The fundamental concept supporting the program remains unchanged from its predecessor: program members get 5% back in rewards. But there were several sticky points faulting Yes2You which have now been streamlined. For example, where Yes2You enforced separation between the main program platform and the company’s periodic Kohl’s Cash events, the updated Kohl’s Rewards reinforces unity. Instead of relying having a separate “points” currency, rewards are now disbursed as Kohl’s Cash in $5 increments. Thus, everyday rewards earnings can be combined with rewards from the retailer’s periodic special events that allow customers to earn $10 of Kohl’s Cash for every $50 they spend. Kohl’s Rewards also doubles down on targeted reminder communications, updating members about unused cash balances to ensure the program value is always top-of-mind. Other program features include:

  • Personalized deals
  • Birthday gifts
  • Relevant perks throughout the calendar year
  • The ability to get a print out of the Kohl’s Rewards balance on shopping receipts

Loyalty in The Limelight

Kohl’s reported a challenging first quarter. Net sales fell to $2.16 billion from $3.82 billion a year ago, and the retailer reported a net loss of $541 million, or $3.50 per share, compared with a profit of $62 million, or 38 cents per a share, a year prior. But by reigning in a loyalty strategy that is personalized to audiences and unifies a disparate experience, the brand is hoping to turn around its slipping status. At the end of the day, Kohl’s can’t control the external environment or the obstacles introduced by uncertainty. But it can create a tactically sound plan to greet customers with a program that performs, and that’s what the brand is well on its way to achieving.

The post Kohl’s Rewards Gets It Right appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

When Thanksgiving rolls around, there are a few questions that we don’t exactly look forward to hearing: “When are you getting married?” “When am I getting grandchildren?” “Have you been moisturizing?”

And yet, none of those oh-so-polite questions even come close to the complexity of explaining what, as an inbound marketer, you actually do for a living.

It’s not that inbound marketing requires a long, drawn-out answer — after all, it can easily be described in 44 words. But explaining it requires some fundamental knowledge of how technology, marketing, and the internet work. You know, the things that your grandparents might not fully grasp in one fell swoop.

Good news — all you really need are a few storytelling strategies. We found five ways you can explain inbound marketing to your family. And sure, some of these are useful, and some are just sarcastic. But hey, family is family, right? They’ll still love you.

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

1. The Food Analogy

Source: Giphy

In the U.S., Thanksgiving typically consists of a few staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, to name a few. And while it might sound strange, you can use that knowledge to your advantage by using food preparation as an analogy for different aspects of inbound marketing.

To explain lead nurturing, you can use the pumpkin pie. Sending unnurtured leads to sales is like giving an unbaked pumpkin pie to your guests. I suppose the pumpkin pie could be eaten raw, but … gross. Instead, you should bake the pumpkin pie — that ultimately makes it richer and more palatable.

Nurturing leads before sales contacts them works in the same way. It warms them up to your brand, and starts to qualify them with better information on what they might need. “Warm” leads, like the cooked pie, are already familiar with your business, and will close at a much higher rate than those that are “cold.”

Use whatever analogy you like to describe inbound marketing — it clarifies confusing issues by comparing them to something that, quite literally, is right in front of everyone.

2. The Real-Life Scenario

Telemarketers

Source: Giphy

When I’m asked about inbound marketing, I like to use real-life examples of interruptions that they’ll likely recognize, and explain how the inbound methodology pertains to it. It usually sounds something like this:

Amanda: Hey, Dad. You know how much you hate telemarketers calling you in the middle of dinner?

Dad: Yes. Hate it. Why? Is that what you do for work?

Amanda: No, actually. Inbound marketing is the exact opposite. That’s interruptive marketing. They literally interrupt you. So annoying, right?

Dad: Yes. I’m surprised they’re not interrupting us right now.

Amanda: Well, in my job, I create marketing that doesn’t interrupt what people are doing. In fact, I create content that people are actively looking for, because it’s helpful, entertaining, or informative. Instead of a telemarketer who is calling to sell you spoons, I create stuff that someone looking for information about spoons might be searching for on the internet.

Dad: So I would find you, instead of you calling to bother me?

Amanda: Yes! I provide you with actual value from my company, which makes you more interested in what my company sells.

The keys here: 1) Identify which interruptive media your dinner guests are familiar with, and 2) play into their pain points when dealing with that media. Inbound marketing is much more logical when you explain it that way — even if your family doesn’t work in marketing or communications.

3. The Theatrics

Thanksgiving theatrics

Source: Giphy

If you’re feeling especially creative — and you have at least one Thanksgiving guest who is willing to participate — you could set up a role play. There are lots of scenarios you can act out, but a classic one would be the telemarketer/dinner guest scenario.

Let’s use the telemarketing example above — and be warned, it might require a few minutes of planning before everyone sits down to dinner. You play the role of the telemarketer, and your dinner guest can be, well, the dinner guest. First, put his or her phone’s ringer on the highest volume possible. Then, as soon as someone asks you about your job, excuse yourself and duck out to a quiet area with your own phone.

Next, call the dinner guest, and have him or her answer the call on speaker while you pretend to be a telemarketer selling something completely unnecessary at that point: Halloween costumes.

Be sure your dinner guest uses key phrases like “You’re interrupting me in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with this irrelevant call,” or, “Don’t you think it’s a little late to be calling me about Halloween?” or, if you really want to go nuts, “I wish you had sent me a targeted, personalized email in October about those costumes — I would have bought them.”

Then, have them slam down the phone on the table. You can return from your “bathroom break” and say, “See? Telemarketing, or any type of interruptive marketing like that, is profoundly annoying. In my job, I create marketing that helps people — not annoy them.”

End scene.

Depending on the talent of your guest, you might be able to improv the entire thing. Otherwise, you might want to type a script out and email it to the guest beforehand. And if you really want to go overboard, stay in character the entire dinner. The sight of you dressed up as a skeezy telemarketer with a headset will be just too intense to forget … that is, at least until your mother requests, “Please remove your headset from the table.”

4. The Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles

Source: Webnode

This technique boils down to an age-old philosophical question: Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Aristotle thought so, but when you’re describing inbound marketing to an unfamiliar audience, it’s probably okay to explain the three ways you might apply inbound marketing specifically: attract, engage, and delight. 

Try explaining inbound marketing by breaking it up into those three aspects, and explaining each one individually.

For instance, you might say to grandma: “Attract means drawing in the right people with valuable content and conversations that establish you as a trusted advisor with whom they want to engage. Engage means presenting insights and solutions that align with their pain points and goals so they are more likely to buy from you. And delight means providing help and support to empower your customers to find success with their purchase.”

Of course, it’s easier said than done. And I’m willing to bet diving into how the inbound methodology serves as a strong foundation for the flywheel, which creates momentum and eliminates friction in your organization, is another feat entirely. 

5. The “I Write Articles on the Internet”

Writing on internet

Source: imoviequotes

If the previous four have all failed, you can always say, “I write articles on the internet for a living.” I mean, it’s somewhat accurate — you drive real business results with inbound marketing, and you don’t just spew out nonsense blogs about your feelings to get paid — but it can get your family off your back, especially if you’re not sure they’d be interested in hearing the whole shebang. If you choose this path, be prepared to hear how easy it is to blog, and how many of your family members wish they could get paid to do it.

Then, try to switch the subject quickly to something everyone can relate to. “Hey, Uncle Eddie, I’d love to get your amazing stuffing recipe.” Trust us … It works every time.

We’re Grateful for You

Good luck out there. And remember: There are so many people who want to know what you do — which, admittedly, is why we love writing about it every day.

We always give thanks for you, our amazing readers. And to express our gratitude, we put together what we hope is a hilarious video of what our families think we do. Happy Thanksgiving!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

What Is a Focus Group in 100 Words or Less [+ Pros and Cons]

In an ideal world, you’d know just how your product or business idea would be perceived before it’s released. This knowledge could help you make alterations to what you’re offering for the best possible reception, and better inform your sales projections and marketing strategy.

Sadly, you’ll never know exactly how what you’re selling will be received by your target audience, which is why companies conduct market research.

But, while mass data collection through surveys provides you with necessary quantitative information, it doesn’t offer as much qualitative insight into your target market’s view or opinion of what you’re selling.

This is where a focus group comes in.

So, what is a focus group, and how can it help you navigate your market research? Let’s explore those two questions, next.

What is a focus group?

In the context of market research for businesses, a focus group is a cohort of individuals participating in a guided discussion about a business, brand, product, and/or service.

Typically, a focus group is facilitated by representatives from the business and is composed of individuals in the business’s target market who share their thoughts and opinions on the topic or offering in question.

A focus group is usually moderated by a representative or representatives of the company, who ask 5-10 questions to the participants over the course of 30-60 minutes, with another facilitator keeping notes on the focus group questionnaire.

Follow Along With a Free Focus Group Questionnaire Template

HubSpot’s Market Research Kit includes a questionnaire template to use in your focus groups, as well as four more templates to aid you in your market research efforts. You can download the kit here to help you plan your focus group and market research.

You can also read more about the process of conducting an effective focus group in our blog post, How to Run a Focus Group for Your Business.

Next, let’s explore the pros and cons of a focus group. 

The Pros of a Focus Group

1. You get the story behind the data.

In focus groups, qualitative data takes center stage. Survey data is unbelievably powerful, but it’s hard to understand the rationale for the numbers without context. Focus groups are a way to understand how someone truly feels about your business and provide the why behind the data.

If someone answers a question in a way that interests you, you’ll have the chance to dig deeper. Ask “Why?” See how the other participants feel about the specific answer. Gauge facial expressions and tone of voice to see how people react to what you’re talking about. You’ll end up with the emotional input from your target market that your surveys may not be able to provide.

2. Focus groups are interactive.

Those responding to a survey or a questionnaire can’t pick up your products or use them, but they can in a focus group. If the subject of your focus group is tangible, observe and ask questions about how participants use the product and feel about the packaging and design.

Here, you’ll see your product through the end-users’ eyes, which can help you realize something you hadn’t before.

3. They’re more efficient than interviews.

Interviewing individuals can take much longer than running focus groups with the same amount of people. Say you want to interview 100 people, and each interview or focus group takes one hour. Getting the opinions of those 100 people would take 100 hours if interviewed, but only 20 hours if participants were broken up into groups of five.

This way, you can get qualitative feedback from multiple people in a shorter amount of time — an enormous time saver, especially if most of your participants think alike.

The Cons of a Focus Group

1. They’re not entirely representative.

What you gain from depth of opinion from focus groups, you lose in sample size.

Because focus groups take longer than surveys, you’ll hear from dozens or hundreds of people in more time than it could take you to hear from thousands of people through your own surveys or exploring secondary research, such as previously conducted studies or surveys.

This constricts the amount of people whose input you’ll receive, which means your findings may not represent the opinions of your entire target market.

2. They could encourage groupthink.

Have you ever been in a meeting where one or two people voice an idea you disagree with, but everyone else agrees with the idea before you have the chance to say your piece?

As a result, maybe you decide to go along with the idea … even though you’re not its biggest fan?

That’s called groupthink, and it happens when a group rallies behind a vocalized idea that not everyone believes is correct for the sake of moving on or attempting to avoid a conflict.

Focus groups can quickly turn into one or two participants providing the bulk of the answers while the other four or five silently nod in agreement. The problem is you’re now only getting input from two participants – not the entire focus group, as intended.

You can avoid this by calling on specific group members to answer in-depth, but some may be reluctant due to shyness or disinterest.

3. Your focus group moderators may have confirmation bias.

Focus group moderators are often attached to the project in question, and can come into the session with an idea of where they think it will — or want it to — go.

For example, one moderator may want a product to be priced, packaged, or colored a certain way, and can lead the discussion towards that conclusion. This is known as observer dependency.

For instance, let’s say one moderator wants a product to be colored blue, and poses the open question to the group: “What color should this be?”

After everyone responds — and no one says blue — she might ask, “What about blue, would that work?” Everyone silently nods, and she notes that the group agreed blue would be a good color, despite that being far from the perfect truth.

To overcome this, focus group moderators should be explicitly instructed to put their personal preferences aside and act as an objective group facilitator. You could also work with a market research firm, which typically has less interest in the product or subject than those from the business who are actually creating it.

Focus groups may not be the most efficient source of gathering data, but when used appropriately, they can put a face and an emotion behind the statistics and quantitative data you’ve gathered to better inform your business, marketing, and product development.

Remember, focus groups are most effective when moderators organize their thoughts ahead of time and take notes during the session on a focus group questionnaire — which you can access for free here in our Market Research Kit.

Center of Excellence | Top 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

Implementing a foundation program library inside of your Marketo Engage application is one feat. Implementing a center of excellence outside of the platform is another. Without a focus on people, processes, and overall technology, you could be setting yourself up for poor adoption and support. With a focus on the three, you could be setting yourself up for optimized value realization and your next big promotion. As employees turn towards virtual work during the pandemic, these components are more important now than ever before.

Wait, what’s a Center of Excellence (COE), anyway? If you are familiar with Marketo Engage, you have probably heard of the Center of Excellence inside the platform…what we are talking about here is outside. A Marketo Engage COE is centralized governance, best practice, thought leadership, and organizational structure allowing a company or institution to control scalable marketing strategy, initiatives, and processes. It has been proven to drive improved efficiencies, consistency in communications, and brand standards across an entire organization. However, less than a third of companies have made the transition to experience-led businesses, according to a recent Forrester Research report. We call out this statistic because those who strive to excel with their digital capabilities to enhance the customer journey will definitely want to utilize this COE structure.

Here are the top ten questions to ask yourself when considering this transformation:

1. Why would I need a center of excellence? We already have one inside the platform…

We know, it might be confusing. Why did we call two different things the same thing? #growth. A center of excellence, or more appropriately, a foundation program library, is the place inside your Marketo Engage instance that houses the foundation program templates, typically those that drive the most value and are most commonly used, as well as approved for widespread use by your marketing operations team. Remember, you can get everything inside the platform right and still fail if the necessary structures and processes outside the platform are not in place.

A center of excellence outside of the platform is a broader concept that focuses on the people, process, and technology to better enable your marketing automation solution. It strengthens what you have built inside the application by nurturing design outside, including a dedicated focus on the following areas:

  • roles and permissions,
  • deployment and enablement,
  • process management,
  • change management,
  • metrics and reporting,
  • governance and governance model,
  • the sales and marketing partnership,
  • customer journey,
  • and more!

Having carefully thought out and designed these structures will maximize your return on investment in your solutions and allow for organizational transformation both inside and outside of Marketo Engage. As we discuss in the COE, momentum needs a sponsor and your biggest successes will come with that sponsorship.

2. Have we carefully considered centralization vs. decentralization as well as hybrid models?

Centralization and decentralization can be applied to a plethora of disciplines. It is not insignificant to consider your strategic approach to aspects of your business with regard to centralization and decentralization. The mere act of thinking about where your organization stands or where you want different aspects of your organization to land on the centralization and decentralization scale is a step in the right direction.

There are different degrees of centralization, and it should always vary by degrees versus purely all or nothing. On opposite ends of the spectrum, there is total control and teach to fish—think of them, quite frankly, as they are named. These degrees of centralization applied to various business aspects are strongly correlated with company culture and resources, they are always on a sliding scale and there is no utopia.

Also, examine where you stand on the centralization spectrum with regard to the following areas:

  • compliance
  • training and enablement
  • process documentation
  • content creation
  • creating and editing templates
  • reporting
  • nurture strategy

3. Do we have good momentum around marketing automation that catalyzes additional value across our business?

Take a step back and think about the momentum that exists today. Analyze why that momentum exists, learn from that momentum and how you can replicate or use it to inspire additional change throughout other facets of the business. If something does not have momentum and is not generating positive value in some way, shape or form, face it head-on, pivot, and adapt.

4. Are we personalizing and tailoring our enablement needs with accommodating tactics?

Engagement marketing maturity does not only need to exist externally with customers. Consider the enablement motions you have in place today. Think about the unique enablement needs of the team or teams. We recommend that you think about internal user groups, “brown bag” or informal lunches to info-share, and promote enablement, Marketo Engage community User Groups. (Check out the global list here for access to a strong community of Marketo Engage and digital marketing experts just waiting for you and your team to join.) There are many ways to get creative with personalized enablement and we encourage you to carefully examine what will work best in your organization.

5. Do we have a strong, defined enablement path moving forward?

In addition to the items mentioned above, we recommend that you focus on the basics as well. Build a plan around how you will onboard users of Marketo Engage with playbooks, user guides, training decks and recordings, launch checklists, QA forms, program requests, and promotion of strong internal and external resources—Marketo Engage has a ton of amazing resources, and other applications and advisory firms do as well. When there are new features, have a process on how you will roll them out. Additionally, you should consider annual standards training or reviews you might need to complete that are company-wide…and do not wait for these initiatives to happen. If you feel there is a topic that needs addressing, be that voice inside the company.

6. Are we tracking existing, critical KPIs well & are there net-new KPIs we should consider?

Take a data-driven approach and be able to tell a story and make a strong case with verifiable data. Understand the KPIs your constituents in sales, finance, customer success, etc. are tracking, learn how to speak a common language that will help you get buy-in, or simply have a productive conversation about metrics that do not leave your head spinning post-meeting with the CFO. Marketo Engage recommends you focus on metrics like program performance, lead quality, waterfall metrics, return on investment (ROI), and lead acquisition reporting as well as sales efficiency metrics. If your organization is very mature with regard to its attribution strategy, we recommend you agree upon multi-touch attribution measures across the organization and leverage the appropriate technology paired with maturity to facilitate that measurement. Also, consider a data-driven operating model to align and drive the business toward strategic objectives across the customer journey with minimal business disruption to ensure continued growth through alignment of KPIs to each stage of that journey.

7. Is there friction in the sales and marketing partnership that affects the customer journey?

This is a timeless topic. No matter how much technology evolves and no matter how sophisticated we become with our marketing tactics, there is no amount of machine learning that will ever trump the age-old practice of collaboration. It is critical that you nurture this relationship, have a strategic and ongoing dialogue, and truly value this partnership.

8. What other alignments of people and processes with other initiatives critical to Marketo Engage exist?

Here’s where process and change management comes into play. Do you have centralized processes that exist today? Consider how you adopted them, what made adoption hold and think about where you might need new processes to support your marketing growth. There are various pillars of COE process management infrastructure, user setup and process documentation are just two to name. Change management is key as well. Do you reflect on the catalyzation of change within your organization and all its glorious components like communications, change agents and change measurements? Food for thought…

9. Do we have stable Governance structures?

The role of governance and governance structures is pivotal in the success of marketing’s role as a revenue driver versus a cost center. Creating oversight structures across different layers of the organization brings together people, processes and technology of the organization in a strategic way to prioritize, assign, and execute key initiatives. We are not talking about more agenda-less meetings to add to your calendar.

10. Do I still need a COE if we have mastered execution?

The short answer is yes. No amount of excellent execution can mask poor design. Take the time to carve out these elements to reposition Marketing from “saving the quarter” to being thought of as a strategic authority and agency of its business unit. Design is just as important as execution.

Having trouble answering these questions? Adobe’s Digital Performance Strategy team has solutions that can help you successfully answer these questions and move to strong design and strong execution or even stronger design and stronger execution.

Check out more information here about Marketo Engage’s Center of Excellence Workshop or contact us here.

The post Center of Excellence | Top 10 Questions to Ask Yourself appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Top 25 Real Estate Website Design Ideas & Tips

Effective real estate websites have a clear and compelling design that is easy for visitors to navigate. We gathered the best real estate website design ideas and tips, from site design to content inclusion, to give your business an edge. While you can use these tips to create a customized website from scratch, the process…

The post Top 25 Real Estate Website Design Ideas & Tips appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Welcome United Search

Dan Leibson has been a strong advocate inside LSG and on SEO Twitter for the under-represented in the SEO community. At times his advocacy has been a bit too strong for some leading to several “WTF is up with Dan?” DMs to me.

Well you know WTF is up with Dan? He has spent the past few months working with an incredible group of SEOs creating UnitedSearch, a first of its kind speaker accelerator focused on helping promote new voices in the digital marketing industry.

“By offering mentoring advice from people with real world, practical, SEO experience, we give students the skills they need to be able to deliver an amazing presentation on any stage and the network they need to land gigs.

All at no cost to the student.”

I am so proud to have one of our team playing a part in this. And I couldn’t be happier to give them what I hope is their first link.

You should do the same.

The post Welcome United Search appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

What will Black Friday look like in 2020?

No one could have foreseen a year like this and many of us are looking forward to brighter days that lie ahead where tiers are only referred to in relation to celebratory cakes. But the show must go on and as usual, we’re looking ahead to Black Friday and although this year will be very different (Black Friday in lockdown, how very 2020) we’re outlining our predictions ahead of November 27th.

But first, let’s take a look back at what Black Friday looked like last year.

For starters, Black Friday is the most anticipated retail event of the year and since 2018 it has overtaken Boxing day sales as the most participated consumer event. Many UK shoppers see it as a fantastic opportunity to get Christmas gifts early at more affordable prices. 

As an event, Black Friday gets bigger every year and we’re not just talking about the fact that it’s no longer a weekend event but the whole month. Last year’s estimated spend was at an all-time high of £8.57billion!

The top product types that have the biggest draw for bargain hunters are electrical, fashion and toys and games (Retail economics) which is of no surprise when smartphones, games consoles and televisions are reported as Amazon’s top sellers during this time, amongst its own products of course.

Though it may be the busiest shopping event of the year, some argue that there is a growing sentiment among brit’s regarding whether we’re truly getting a ‘deal’, which has left some quite polarised when it comes to participating. However, only 8% are said to be actively avoiding Black Friday and for any business to be successful, they must be able to demonstrate the value of their products and services to customers. This does not change on Black Friday and it is a great excuse for brands to engage with their audience and find out what types of offers and content they would find worthwhile.

While massive e-commerce companies such as Amazon cash in on the event, given that recent retail trends suggest we are entering the ‘golden age’ of retail localisation, many customers will want to ensure their money is spent on supporting local business. This year Small Business Saturday comes the day after Black Friday and presents an opportunity to attract shoppers who are more conscious of where their money goes.

We predict that electrical purchases are still going to be the biggest category of sales but with current and future social events put on hold, we’re believe fashion retail might fall below other categories such as toys and games. 

We’ve already seen a sharp increase in e-commerce this year due to the pandemic. Unsurprisingly our shopping behaviour has moved even more into the online space and with the recent government announcements regarding the second UK lockdown, we’re expecting mobile ecommerce to soar. In fact, last year 71% of UK shoppers participated in Black Friday deals using their smartphones. And with screen time having grown this year and all non-essential shops being closed, we’re expecting this to rise yet again.

This year has been difficult for many, but as we head towards Black Friday and holiday season more generally, businesses will be keen to pull back any lost revenue due to the pandemic and creative, effective campaigns, can help them achieve this. And given that your customers are already going to be on their mobile phones looking for the best deals, an SMS campaign to grab your customers attention, could prove valuable.

If you’d like any advice for getting your campaigns Black Friday ready, simply view our latest webinarBlack Friday campaign masterclass, or get in touch with the team at info@textmarketer.co.uk

The post What will Black Friday look like in 2020? appeared first on Textmarketer.

Loyalty Fraud Continues to Evolve

First, the bad news! Fraudulent activities in the loyalty marketplace continue to grow and evolve. Attacks in the airline and hotel industries, long the main target of loyalty fraudsters, are now joined by attacks on programs in gaming, retail, and other verticals. Value propositions which increasingly adopt pure monetization tactics — gift cards, cash back, coupons, and vouchers for huge discounts at the POS — make loyalty currencies even more attractive to the fraudsters. COVID helped accelerate all this activity.

Now, the good news! The Loyalty Security Association (LSA), an industry group dedicated to fighting and reducing loyalty fraud, continues to assemble the brightest minds and newest technologies to battle the bad guys. Started in 2016 by various stakeholders with Loyalty, Fraud Prevention and Cybersecurity backgrounds, LSA continues to build the only industry platform for collaboration around the growing issues of loyalty program security. The Association provides companies and organizations that have or are involved with loyalty programs a platform where they can find resources, Best Practices, tools, training, and peers with whom they can discuss security issues.

The Wise Marketer was in virtual attendance at LSA’s 2020 fall conference. Some key takeaways are summarized below:

  • New cyber security solutions continue to evolve to protect all digital assets from internal and external attacks. Some solutions focus on authenticating accounts and/or transactions; others look at maximizing revenues (approving good customer/good transactions) vs. minimizing fraud (denying bad customers/bad transactions). Behavioral biometrics are coming to a program near you very soon.
  • Consumers are increasingly aware. In a recent survey, 84% of consumers expressed more loyalty to brands that had strong security controls.  People are increasingly skeptical of governmental leadership in the security arena; they now expect corporate leadership to take the reins and help protect their personal information, their points, miles, and anything else fraudsters can get their hands on.
  • Despite the popular belief that all loyalty fraud attacks come from hackers who are on the outside breaking in, two other sources were commonly discussed: policy abuse by members themselves and internal associates/vendors with access to the program. A review of program terms and conditions can certainly help with the abuse issues.
  • COVID-19 changed the way people work. Loyalty call center operations were particularly affected by remote agents plugged into a variety of different systems and networks just to get access to the member information they needed to do their job. Security experts and IT teams had to scramble (some are still scrambling) to prevent intrusion of home-based systems that they never really counted on previously.
  • Loyalty Security starts with planning. It may take months to discover the fraud, additional months to respond and fix the problem. Costs associated with a loyalty breach are estimated to be in the millions per incident. Reputation damage, accelerated by social and viral mechanisms, may be an even bigger loss to the company. Programs need to be well prepared. The time to handle fraud possibilities is not in the moment!

The LSA provides its members with a Best Practices Guide and additional resources to help loyalty programs in their fight against fraud. For additional details visit their website.

We strongly urge your organization to join the association and collaborate with others on this important industry issue.

And look for a new course about Loyalty Fraud coming soon to The Loyalty Academy curriculum.

Mike Capizzi is the Dean of The Loyalty Academy and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional™ (CLMP).

The post Loyalty Fraud Continues to Evolve appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

Beyond Responsive Design: How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Users

Everyone can acknowledge the importance of a mobile-friendly website, especially after Google’s Mobilegeddon algorithm update.

Mobile optimization is here to stay, and it’s demanding more and more of businesses and their websites. But mobile optimization is about more than just a responsive website design.

In this article, we tell you why and how to adopt a mobile-first mindset for your website.

Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm change in 2015 (and a few more since then) was evidence that the search engine recognizes its responsibility to surface websites that painlessly get users what they need at the time that they need it.

Google doesn’t want to send mobile users to websites that provide a frustrating browsing experience — that would damage its promise to its users to always deliver helpful, relevant content.

Moreover, this algorithm change was and is a signal of a much larger shift that’s afoot — consumer behavior is changing, and it’s your job to adapt.

Building a mobile-friendly website is step one, but tweaking your website will not keep you ahead of consumers’ changing behavior and expectations.

In short, you have to infuse your marketing strategy with a mobile-first mindset. Here’s how.

1. Map your customer journey.

Imagine the experience of Sally, a young marketer who has just moved to Chicago. While out for a walk, Sally passes by a hair salon and realizes she needs a haircut. She pulls out her phone a search for hairstylists in Chicago who specialize in curls and color. Her Google search pops up Joann’s Stylez.

She flips through the website quickly and wants to research more, but it’s too hard while on the move — so she texts herself a link. When she gets home, she opens her texts on her tablet and quickly checks Yelp reviews, examines her calendar, and then books an appointment using the simple form on the Joann’s website.

When Sally loads up her laptop later that night to check her email, she discovers an email from Joann’s that confirms her appointment and gives her the option to add it to her calendar. The next day, 30 minutes before her appointment, she receives a push notification on her work computer reminding her of the appointment.

The next day, Sally receives a mobile email asking for feedback on the cut and offering to set up a recurring appointment at a discounted rate. She’s sold.

Sally’s experience is illustrative of the cross-device, omnichannel journey that many customers now make as they move through the marketing funnel. Every day, consumers switch a handful of different devices when completing common tasks such as online shopping, readying blog posts, booking appointments, or communicating with each other.

HubSpot’s Blogging Software equips you to publish relevant, conversion-optimized content you can preview on any device — allowing you to engage with customers wherever they are.

Consumers now expect this type of experience from all of their digital interactions. They want to be able to accomplish whatever fits their fancy on whatever device is at hand. This means that simply adapting your site to look nice on different devices is not enough. As a marketer, you must dig deeper into your customers’ and prospects’ lives.

For example, at HubSpot, we know that a visitor on a mobile device is very unlikely to fill out a long form on one of our landing pages. So we started using Smart Content to automatically shorten the form when a mobile viewer is looking at it. By doing this, our mobile prospects increased by 5x.

2. Seize intent-rich micro-moments.

You’ve likely already developed a strong set of buyer personas. You’ve conducted user research and testing to understand which content and CTAs to present to each persona as they move down the funnel. You must now go a step further. You must understand both the rhythm and rhyme to when, why, with what, and from where people are interacting with your website and content.

Google encourages marketers to identify the “micro-moments” in a customer’s journey:

Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device — increasingly a smartphone — to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.

A number of brands have figured out how to anticipate and capitalize on these micro-moments. Apple Passbook loads up your Starbucks card when you’re near a coffee shop. Hertz sends you an email when your plane lands to let your know that your car is ready. Starwood allows you to check in and open your hotel room with your smartphone.

Consumers are increasingly becoming acclimated to companies offering such intimately responsive experiences. 59% of shoppers say that being able to shop on mobile is important when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from, and 39% of smartphone users are more likely to browse or shop a company or brand’s mobile app because it’s easier or faster to make a purchase.

How can you figure out these micro-moments and design your content to meet prospects’ intent? Tap into your data. Here are three analyses you should start with:

  • Search: Which queries, ads and keywords are bringing users on different devices to your website and landing pages? Once they land on your site, what types of searches are users on different devices performing?
  • Content: Examine the content that users access by stage in the funnel and by device. Is there a trend around what prospects on their phones are downloading? Sharing?
  • Flow: Dig into a flow analysis segmented by device. What is the path mobile-using prospects follow? What is the path tablet-using customers follow? From what sites and sources are these visitors arriving?

After building your trove of micro-moments, it would be easy to think: “Okay, we just need to strip our website down to the specific things our visitors will mostly likely want to access on the go.”

But mobile users are not limited to completing short, simple tasks. The device does not directly imply location or intent.

A busy professional may use her commute time to conduct in-depth industry research on her phone, process her email inbox on her tablet while watching a movie with her family, and browse the websites of potential contractors while flying across the country.

Confirming this intuition, the Pew Research Center’s study of U.S. smartphone found that 99% of smartphone owners use their phone at home, 82% use their phones while in transit, and 69% use their phone at work each week. (This study was conducted in 2015, but we believe it’s still relevant, if not more so, today.)

People don’t want a stripped down set of content. Instead, they want quick and easy access to the materials they need on whatever device they happen to be using.Thus, while you want to optimize your site, landing pages, emails, etc. for micro-moments, you do not want to force visitors into a box from which they cannot escape.

3. Consider (and reconsider) your metrics.

The metrics you established in the desktop-centric days may not seamlessly translate to our new multi-device, micro-moment world. For example, you might have fought tirelessly to find ways to increase visitors’ time on your site, recognizing that more time means higher engagement, which translates to higher conversion.

The micro-moments you identify for mobile visitors, however, might suggest that you want a lower time-on-site. A prospect visiting the website of a consulting firm may be looking for:

  • An infographic they want to show a coworker
  • The bio of a partner with whom they are about to meet
  • A case study to read while traveling

In order to meet this prospect’s expectations for their mobile experience, you must design your website to quickly and intuitively help them find the specific piece of information for which they are looking. If their mobile visit is distracting, frustrating, or too time consuming, you’ve damaged their perception of your brand.

4. Embrace the intimacy of mobile.

For better or worse, I go to bed with my phone (reviewing tomorrow’s schedule and reading a nighttime meditation) and I wake up with my phone (silencing the alarm and checking the weather). I communicate with my partner and my best friends everyday — all through my phone. When my MBA classmate sends a GIF of Tyra Banks being sassy, I turn my phone to the person next to me, and we have a good laugh together.

Day-in and day-out, these interactions create an intimate connection between my phone and me. And I’m not alone: Most consumers imbue their mobile experiences with more intimacy than desktop experiences. The Pew Research Center found that Americans view their smartphones as freeing, connecting, and helpful, and associate their phones with feelings of happiness and productivity. These associations can inspire greater engagement with and interest in content.

As marketers, we should take advantage of these trends and consider how to make our prospects’ mobile experience more personal and social. Perhaps change your website to increase the proportion of social CTAs you display when someone arrives on mobile.

5. Remember the basics and think ahead.

Overall, embracing the mobile mindset means ensuring that the entire customer journey is responsive, relevant, actionable, and frictionless. As a marketer, you want to help consumers quickly and easily find what they want to find and do what they want to do. Again, this means thinking ahead, understanding when, with what device, and from where your prospects will interact with your content.

This can seem daunting, but mostly it means diligently applying the basics across channels. For example, since nearly half of all emails are opened on mobile, ensure your emails are mobile optimized. We recommend doing the following:

  1. Use large, easy-to-read text.
  2. Use large, clear images and reduce file sizes.
  3. Keep layouts simple and invest in responsive templates.
  4. Use large, mobile-friendly calls-to-action and links.

Recognizing the personal associations people have with their phones, you’ll want to ensure that the “From” name is familiar and that the preview text is inviting. And think ahead: Don’t email a link to a form or an event registration landing page that is not mobile-friendly.

Use HubSpot’s Free Landing Page Builder to launch landing pages that look perfect across devices and automatically change content based on who’s viewing your page.

Over to You: Time to Optimize

Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to living the mobile mindset and weathering the change in consumers’ digital behavior. Move quickly and your organization could be at the head of the pack.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

13 Businesses With Brilliant Global Marketing Strategies

Guess what? Global marketing is no longer reserved for brands with deep pockets, nor is it a huge hassle for already over-burdened marketing managers.

In fact, a global presence is possible for any business with a creative strategy and an understanding of world markets.

What Is Good Global Marketing?

Global marketing is the act of focusing a product on the needs of potential buyers in other countries. 

Like most types of marketing, though, a global marketing strategy comes down to one thing: audience. Knowing who needs your product, in what form to deliver it to them, and how to do it in a way that strengthens the brand are core ingredients of awesome global marketing.

Typically, a global marketing strategy requires a business to do new market research, identify countries where the business’s product might be successful, and then localize the brand to reflect the needs of those communities. However, localization is not always necessary. Some brands adopt a global standardization strategy instead.

In contrast to localization, where there’s a more differentiated marketing approach to each market, global standardization provides significant cost benefits as a result of less messaging and fewer campaigns.

However, the key is in knowing when a global standardization strategy will be effective. Because it banks on a universal appeal despite cultural or locational differences, you’ll need to research whether customers use or think about your products differently depending on their market. If there’s no difference between the usage and understanding from country to country, a global standardization approach is practical.

Choosing localization or global standardization is one aspect of creating a great global marketing strategy.

 

To give you an idea of what a great global marketing strategy looks like, we’ve compiled a list of brands that totally “get it.”

From adapting their social strategies to translate across multiple languages to adjusting their menus to appeal to the cravings of a diverse group of people, these brands are taking positive steps toward creating a solid presence across the globe.

So, if you’re looking for inspiration on how to craft a successful international marketing strategy and expand your business’ reach, check out these examples from these successful companies.

1. Red Bull

Austrian company Red Bull does such a great job with global marketing that many Americans assume it’s a local brand. How?

One of its most successful tactics is to host extreme sports events all over the world. From the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix to the Red Bull Air Race in the United Kingdom to the Red Bull Soapbox Race in Jordan, the brand’s powerful event marketing strategy takes them here, there, and everywhere.

Red Bull website showing global map of extreme sports events

Aside from events, Red Bull’s packaging also plays a part in its global appeal.

“Red Bull really looks like a product from a global economy. It doesn’t look like a traditional American soft drink — it’s not in a 12-ounce can, it’s not sold in a bottle, and it doesn’t have script lettering like Pepsi or Coke. It looks European. That matters,” explains Harvard Business School professor Nancy F. Koehn in a 2001 article. Though it’s since diversified its product selection since that article was published, the fact remains that Red Bull’s consistent packaging has helped this brand go global.

2. Airbnb

Airbnb, a community marketplace for people to list and book accommodations around the world, was founded in 2008 out of San Francisco, California.

Since then, Airbnb has grown to 1,500,000+ listings in 34,000+ cities worldwide. A large contributor to the company’s explosive global success? Social media.

In January 2015, Airbnb launched a social media campaign around the hashtag #OneLessStranger. The company referred to the campaign as a “global, social experiment,” in which Airbnb asked the community to perform random acts of hospitality for strangers, and then take a video or photo with the person and share it using the hashtag.

Just three weeks after the launch of the campaign, over 3,000,000 people worldwide engaged, created content, or were talking about the campaign.

3. Dunkin Donuts

In case you missed it, National Donut Day was last June. And while we were getting our hands dirty with a Boston creme (or two) here in the states, Dunkin Donuts China was serving up a fresh batch of dry pork and seaweed donuts.

Global marketing strategy by Dunkin Donuts to celebrate National Donut Day in China

With over 3,200 stores in 36 countries outside of the U.S., Dunkin Donuts has evolved its menu to satisfy the sweet tooth of its global customers.

From Korea’s Grapefruit Coolata to Lebanon’s Mango Chocolate Donut to Russia’s Dunclairs, it’s clear that Dunkin Donuts isn’t afraid to celebrate cultural differences in an effort to strengthen its international presence.

4. Domino’s

Similar to Dunkin Donuts, Domino’s has prioritized menu innovation as a means of increasing international interest and awareness.

“The joy of pizza is that bread, sauce, and cheese works fundamentally everywhere, except maybe China, where dairy wasn’t a big part of their diet until lately,” explains Domino’s CEO J. Patrick Doyle.

“And it’s easy to just change toppings market to market. In Asia, it’s seafood and fish. It’s curry in India. But half the toppings are standard offerings around the world.”

Domino's website with pizza catering to international tastes

By making a conscious effort to gain a better understanding of the preferences of the markets it’s trying to break into, Domino’s can deliver pies diverse enough to gain international attention.

5. Rezdy

Some companies may not be trying to attract global markets directly, but if their clients are, they better know how. Rezdy is an Australian-based reservation software designed to make online booking smoother for tourists and agents alike.

Though Rezdy’s clients are Australian-based, the company needs to cater to its clients’ international visitors. Click on the screenshot to check out this fun video on Rezdy’s homepage:

The first feature the video spotlights is “Internationalisation.” The video walks us through how easy the service is for users, but is sure to emphasize the language and currency customization tool upfront. Even if your company is marketing to other regional companies, consider their global customers as if they were your own.

6. World Wildlife Foundation

WWF took its Earth Hour initiative — a voluntary worldwide event where participants turn off their lights for an hour to show how easy it can be to battle climate change — and brought it to Norway’s mobile audience.

Scandinavian countries like Norway experience extreme daylight hours in different seasons, making the country a prime candidate for WWF’s Blackout campaign. Using digital agency Mobiento, the nonprofit placed the Blackout Banner across Norway’s top media sites to promote Earth Hour. With one tap of the banner, the screen went black. Finger swiping the black screen slowly revealed the Earth Hour countdown. The banner attracted roughly 1,000,000 impressions and the campaign received three MMA Global Mobile Marketing Awards back in 2012.

WWF earth hour campaign banner with plug strips

Image Source

Have a cool idea? Don’t be afraid to try it out on one international market — just make sure it’s the appropriate audience. (Also, don’t be afraid of the dark.)

7. Pearse Trust

With offices in Dublin, London, Vancouver, Atlanta, and Wellington, Pearse Trust has grown to be an international authority on corporate and trust structures. But it takes more than offices all over the map to reach an international audience.

That’s why Pearse Trust keeps content flowing on its Facebook page that engages its various markets. In this screenshot below, you can see Pearse Trust posts lots of content featuring international affairs relating to the company’s practice.

pearse trust facebook post regarding international affairs webinar

It also levels out external articles with Pearse Trust content, featuring news from places like Germany, Ireland (where it has a Dublin office), and the U.K. (where it has a London office). This is a great example of focusing on common interests shared among your company’s various markets while also making the content relatable to customers by region.

8. Nike

Nike has been able to evolve its global presence through the careful selection of international sponsorships such as its previous long-standing relationship with Manchester United.

Although sponsorship spending can be fairly unpredictable — demand costs tend to surge due to triggers like championships and tournaments — these partnerships have certainly helped the brand capture the attention of a global audience.

Nike’s NikeID co-creation platform serves as another strategy that the company is using to appeal to international markets.

Nike ID website allowing global users to customize shoes

By putting the power of design into the hands of the consumer, Nike is able to deliver customized products that align with different cultural preferences and styles.

9. McDonald’s

We all know McDonald’s is a successful global brand, so unlike its menu, I’ll keep it light.

While keeping its overarching branding consistent, McDonald’s practices “glocal” marketing efforts. No, that’s not a typo. McDonald’s brings a local flavor, literally, to different countries with region-specific menu items. In 2003, McDonald’s introduced the McArabia, a flatbread sandwich, to its restaurants in the Middle East.

McDonald’s has also introduced macaroons to its French menu:

And added McSpaghetti to its menu in the Philippines:

Global McDonald's advertisement for the Philippines

This “glocal” approach has helped put McDonald’s at
#9 on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2014.

10. Innocent Drinks

Innocent Drinks is the leading smoothie company in the U.K., but that’s not the only place you’ll find its products. In fact, Innocent products are now available in 15 countries across Europe.

And despite its widespread reach, the company’s “chatty branding” remains consistent across the board. For instance, the website is very bubbly, with contact information that reads “call the banana phone” or “visit the fruit towers.”

European global marketing strategy by Innocent Drinks

While global expansion and rapid growth can sometimes distract a company from consistent branding, Innocent Drinks has managed to remain true to itself. By ensuring that the brand’s voice is interpreted the same way around the world, Innocent is able to create a more recognizable brand.

11. Unger and Kowitt

The phrase “glocal” can be defined as “Think Globally, Act Locally.” But what happens when you switch the two around.

Whoa, fasten your seat belts — literally. Unger and Kowitt is a traffic ticket law firm based in Fort Lauderdale defending drivers in the state of Florida. Not very global, right? Well, Unger and Kowitt understands that America is a melting pot and that Florida is bursting at the seams with different cultures and languages.

Website of Unger Kowitt showing global marketing strategy in user experience

Though a domestic service, the firm’s website is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Creole. With these options, Unger and Kowitt can cater to Florida’s nearly 3.5 million Floridians who speak Spanish, Portuguese, or Creole. Don’t miss out on expanding your client base — sometimes you don’t have to look far to attract international business.

12. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is a great example of a brand using international marketing efforts. Though a large corporation, Coca-Cola focuses on small community programs and invests a lot of time and money in small-scale charity efforts.

For example, in Egypt, Coca-Cola has built 650 clean water installations in the rural village of Beni Suef and sponsors Ramadan meals for children across the Middle East. In India, the brand sponsors the Support My School initiative to improve facilities at local schools. Not to mention, the brand sticks with selling an emotion that can’t get lost in translation: happiness. Now, tell me this doesn’t look like fun:

13. Spotify

As of 2018, Spotify was newly considered one of the best global companies in the world, according to Interbrand. We’ve all heard of Spotify (no pun intended), but how did it suddenly, and so quickly, expand from Sweden into other countries?

Spotify’s business model is focused on helping you find something new.

spotify diverse genresIt’s one thing to select a genre of music to listen to — it’s another thing to select a “mood” to listen to. The screenshot above is part of Spotify’s “Browse” page, where you can listen not just to “country” and “hip-hop,” but also music that caters to your “workout” or “sleep” preferences.

By changing how they describe their content, Spotify gets users to listen to music that goes beyond their favorite genres, and instead satisfies habits and lifestyles that people share all over the world. This allows international artists to access listeners from other countries simply because their product is being categorized a different way.

Spotify now has offices in 17 countries around the world.

If you have global aspirations for your business, you need to find out what customers in different communities have in common — and how to localize your product for these different markets. Your first step? Take inspiration from one of the businesses above.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Customer Happiness | 4 Tips to Measure What Truly Matters

Do you want happy customers? 

Of course, you do. No business wants unhappy customers. But how do you know they’re happy? Repeat business isn’t necessarily a sign of happiness, as proved by the concept of customers as hostages (when customers don’t want to buy from you, but feel like they don’t have a choice.) 

Is it, in fact, even possible to measure happiness? 

Every year the United Nations publishes its World Happiness Report, ranking the planet’s countries in order of the happiness of its citizens. (The happiest nation is Finland, for the fourth year running.) 

Sounds like a tough gig, but the metrics used by the UN are actually easy to understand and clearly relate to how happy people are: life expectancy, corruption, levels of anti-depressant use, and so on. 

So what if we could do something similar with our customers, and create a marketing equivalent of the World Happiness Report to find out how happy they are with our services?

1. Stop measuring the wrong things

This would be distinct from, and hopefully more useful than, the traditional indicators of success. Metrics such as how many users visit your site, the conversion rate, and the basket size are important but they’re missing something.

They can’t tell you how the customer is feeling. Because they’re all about your business, not the customer. 

Instead, we need to think about engagement and satisfaction. Both are much talked about and sought after but rarely measured properly or even understood that well. Even when a brand has an active social media presence, making it easier to judge how engaged your audience is, marketers sometimes miss the point. 

2. Engagement is about more than numbers

It’s often assumed that a high number of followers automatically means you’re doing something right and, while that’s not untrue, it doesn’t mean you’re engaging people. Or that they’re satisfied. 

You might have 500,000 followers but if most of them aren’t liking, sharing or commenting then they’re not engaged. Conversely, if you have 50,000 followers and half of them are engaging, they’re worth more. If they are engaged, chances are there is at least some interest in what you do, which is half the battle won.

There is the question of assessing the sentiments behind engagement. Assessing if people are happy has a problem because people are more likely to express a negative sentiment than a positive one, so negativity tends to be over-represented. 

Complaining about a bad experience seems easier than being complimentary about a good one. Complaining is an expression of frustration and a means of retaliating. But being nice? There’s not much in it for the customer. 

3. Just ask what they’re thinking

The best way of encouraging positive feedback is to just ask for it – or rather, ask for feedback. People need prompting to make the effort but it doesn’t need to be complicated – long surveys are arduous and boring for the customer – so keep it to something simple, like a post-purchase SMS. 

And while the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is used everywhere, in an age when how people interact with and recommend brand has changed significantly since its inception in 2013, perhaps its days are numbered. Better to use questions that are specifically tailored to your business and customers, and less open to interpretation than NPS’s scale of 1-10. 

Using a Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is common practice, but its success is not just about finding out what a customer thinks. It’s about taking action if things aren’t right.  

4. When things go wrong, fix them

If there’s something wrong, follow it up. “How did we do today” messages are ubiquitous but they’re worthless if the responses are not followed up. Learning what a brand is doing wrong is as important as understanding what it’s doing right. 

What makes someone happy is often perceived as being subjective, and therefore difficult to measure. But when it comes to customer experience, it’s not hard to work out what makes people happy. 

Good service, complaint resolution, solving problems – they’re all a lot simpler to quantify than levels of corruption in society and anti-depressant use. If it’s possible to figure which is the happiest country on Earth, it’s possible to work out if your customers are happy.

The post Customer Happiness | 4 Tips to Measure What Truly Matters appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

The Top 6 Single Property Website Builders for 2021

A single property website is a one-page showcase of a property listing that encourages visitors to reach out to an agent via a contact form for more details. To create these, agents need special site builders. We reviewed 10 of these builders and picked the top six—including the best overall—based on price, templates, and usability….

The post The Top 6 Single Property Website Builders for 2021 appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Black Friday sale! 20% extra credits FREE

Black Friday 2020 is set for November 27th, and it is predicted to be an even larger commercial event than previous years. Given that 2019 saw sales soar, Barclaycard reporting a 7.2% increase in overall volume and 16.2% increase in transaction value – more people were buying and they were spending more; it’s safe to say that Black Friday promises to be a huge opportunity for businesses.

Furthermore, given that 67.2% of all online shopping occurs on mobile, and that in 2019 the order rate achieved with an SMS campaign was nearly 7 times that of a email email campaign, it’s fair to say that Black Friday is largely a mobile affair.

So, to help our Text Marketer family make the most of this opportunity, we have put together a video of our recent webinarBlack Friday masterclass. Which not only includes tips and advice on send times and content, but also has a full demo of how to organise an SMS web page campaign. Because, well, sometimes brands want something a little fancier than the humble SMS. And…

… we’re running our famous Black Friday sale! As the extra credits can go a long way in making your campaign a success. Afterall, a follow-up campaign as a reminder message, could help make sure that your message is making an impact amongst the noise.

Introducing our Black Friday offer – 20% free SMS credits on every top-up*.

Any purchase *between 1,000 – 250,000 credits made between Wednesday 28th October – Cyber Monday 30th November will receive an extra 20% SMS credits for free!

So, the more SMS credits you purchase, the more we will give you completely free – it really is that simple.

To claim, forward your invoice to support@textmarketer.co.uk with the header BLACKFRIDAY – the offer can be used multiple times during the period, on message bundles of up to 250,000 but CANNOT be used with any existing offer or discount.

If you wish to purchase message bundles larger than 250,000, discounts may be available, simply contact our sales team for details.

Please see our T&Cs for more information.

The post Black Friday sale! 20% extra credits FREE appeared first on Textmarketer.

Leading Digital Marketing Agency Calls Upon ASA to Issue Clearer Guidance for Financial Bloggers and Influencers

Leading digital marketing agency, AccuraCast has called on the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) to provide clearer guidance to financial bloggers and influencers who are working with brands in the financial sector.

Currently, guidance from the ASA is that if payment made, whether monetary or something is given for free and a brand has some kind of control over the content (whether approval or stipulating which hashtags should be used), then the fact the content is an advert should be ‘obviously identifiable’. This can be done by using a hashtag such as #ad or #advert. Influencers also need to adhere to ‘code rules’ from ASA around advertsing financial products. However there is no specific advice for influencers advertsising financial products from the ASA.

In addition financial brands often have different rules and regulations to meet their own internal compliance and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) guidance.

AccuraCast believes that clear, specific guidelines would make working relationships between influencers and financial brands more effective, as the uncertainty can often hamper the speed in which content is approved, and can mean that influencers are not clear about whether they can work with certain brands.

With many financial brands now turning to bloggers and influencers as part of their marketing strategy and in particular for international growth – they can add a lot of value for a relatively low budget – clearer guidance is needed. For example, the ASA has many different regulations that must be followed when it comes to financial products being advertised, but no specific guidance on how this applies for influencers.

Farhad Divecha, Managing Director and Founder of AccuraCast, said: “Financial brands in particular can often be wary of using influencers as part of their marketing strategy due to the ambiguous regulations and compliance involved. The guidance from the ASA is not specific to financial bloggers and it can often leave brands feeling nervous as to whether they are providing the right detail for their customers – most brands now want to be open and transparent.”

Jonathan Gutteridge, Owner of The Money Shed and The Money Shed Blog, said: “Bloggers aren’t the same as traditional media, our style and tone is different, and although we maybe more casual in what we say, we can still get the message across and keep it compliant. One drawback of the red tape around content is the delay it can add in getting posts live – and this can sometimes be to the detriment of the post – by the time it is approved, it might no longer be relevant.”

“Despite this, one major benefit for brands working with bloggers, is that we aren’t tied to a geographical location – anyone can access our content, and from any location, which means bloggers are great to aid international growth within a business.”

Lynn Beattie, owner of the blog Mrs Mummypenny, said: “Brands employ influencers to provide their own tone of voice and opinion, and it can be frustrating to have to go through many rounds of amends to meet brand compliance. If you choose your influencers carefully then they can be effective in promoting your products and services to an international audience.”

The post Leading Digital Marketing Agency Calls Upon ASA to Issue Clearer Guidance for Financial Bloggers and Influencers appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

How to Post on Instagram: A Step-by-Step Guide

With over 1 billion active users, Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most far-reaching social media networks you can use for marketing purposes.

Instagram has proven a viable advertising option for businesses today, and shows no signs of slowing down — in fact Instagram ad revenues will exceeded $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019, an exponential increase from 1.86 billion in just three years.

If you’re not already using Instagram for your business, you’re missing out on a ton of opportunity to grow brand awareness and reach a wide audience. Fortunately, adopting an Instagram strategy can be relatively easy with enough time and effort.

However, if you’ve never used the app, you might be daunted by the first question likely to cross your mind — How can I post my first image?

If you’re ready to post an image to Instagram, we’ve got you covered. Here, we’ve cultivated a quick-and-easy guide to posting on Instagram, to ensure you can begin attracting the attention of  your audience with Instagram marketing.

How to Post to Instagram

Posting to Instagram consistently can help businesses find resonance with their audience and grow better, but doing it right is just as important. Here’s how to post to your Instagram account step-by-step.

1. Tap the + icon at the bottom of your screen.

See that plus sign [+] in the image above? That’s your starting point. See that post from our culture account? That’s your end point. Click that plus sign and you’ll be ready for the next step, below.

2. Choose a photo or video from your library — or shoot one in the app.

Instagram will show you the photos already saved to your phone. Choose one of those to post. Alternatively, you can click “Photo” or “Video” in the bottom to take a photo or video within the Instagram app itself, if you don’t already have an image you want to use.

Once you choose an image, click “Next” in the top right.

Instagram Gallery Photo Picker

3. Crop the image.

You aren’t limited to just a square image on Instagram. You can actually share horizontal or vertical images as well. To get more of your image seen, pinch the screen of the photo you’ve selected on the Library screen.

Cropping Photo on Instagram by Pinching

However, while Instagram does allow vertical and horizontal options, the images still need to fit into some specific dimensions. So, you might still need to crop a tiny bit of your photo to get it to fit.

4. Try a carousel post.

Do you have multiple photos and want to highlight them all? Instagram allows you to do this with its carousel feature.

Instagram "Select Multiple" Feature for Carousel Posts

As you go to tap a photo or video, first tap the icon just above your photos to the right that looks like stacked squares. Once you tap this, you’ll see a number on the corner of every image or video you tap. This number notes where the content will show up in the carousel.

5. Pick a filter.

Instagram offers 24 filters — scroll to the right to peruse your options, and click on one to preview how it will look on your photo. (Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Filters to learn more).

Instagram Filters

6. Edit your photo.

You can also click “Edit” at the bottom right to adjust contrast, brightness, etc.

Instagram Photo Editor

When you’re ready, click “Next” in the top right.

7. Type your caption.

Get creative and write a nice, interesting caption to go with your photo. Since text can help optimize your post in Instagram’s search, writing something can only benefit you.

Instagram-Caption

8. Use hashtags for post optimization.

With Instagram’s search feature, users can search by hashtags. So, you should make sure to write relevant hashtags in your caption. If someone does a search of a hashtag you placed in your caption, they might find your post as well as others that included the same one.

9. Tag friends.

Want your friend or their followers to see a photo that you posted of the two of you? Tag them!

On the post page, you can click “Tag People” to tag other Instagram accounts in your post. Alternatively, you can include their handle (or their username beginning with an @ symbol) in your caption.

10. Add your location.

If you’re on a fun vacation or at a neat event and you don’t feel like including that information in your caption, you can mark where you are in another way. On the post page, tap “Add Location” to put a location on your image (which makes it easier for people to find your post).

When you post an image or video with a location, it will show up between your name and the block of content on the feed.

11. Play with emojis.

Emojis are fun and can make your caption more eye catching. If you know of a few relevant emojis that could fit with your post, stick them in the caption area.

For example, if you’re posting a vacation photo, you could include a beach umbrella or a plane to show you flew somewhere.

Be sure not to go overboard and post emojis just for the sake of posting them. If you post a bowling emoji along with a photo of a beach, that obviously won’t make sense to people. Similarly, if you post 20 emojis that loosely relate to a post, you might just annoy your followers or come off as desperate.

12. Share the post on other social media platforms

Finally, if you want to share your content on your other, connected social media sites (like Facebook or Twitter), simply slide the bar from the left to the right.

When you’re ready to post, click “Share” in the top right.

Instagram-Share-Post

Instagram Saved Drafts

If you’re not ready to post right away, you can also save it to your Instagram Saved Drafts. Simply go back to the filtering and editing step, tap the back arrow in the top left, and select “Save Draft.”

13. Edit the post.

Typos happen to everyone! If you just posted something and notice a glaring spelling error, don’t panic. Simply tap the three dots that appear on the right across from your name, then tap “Edit.”

Instagram Post Edit Menu

Now that you know how to post to Instagram, you can begin creating content for the platform and connecting with your audience. If you’re a business or brand, you’ll want a solid strategy for earning engagement and awareness. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

The New Breed of Marketers | 5 Attributes That Distinguish New Marketers

Marketing has changed.  And so have the people doing it. The breed of new marketers is under 40, successful and experienced – they’ve worked for big corporations and small businesses, and now they’re running their own mini-agencies.

One thing connects them all: they believe marketing is not about selling. Instead, it’s about helping audiences. 

1. They talk like humans, not like businesses

The way marketers communicate with each other, other businesses and even their audiences often sound like unintelligible nonsense. It’s a sure-fire method of distancing themselves from everyone else, even if that’s not the idea. The new marketers use natural language, not business language. They’re easy to understand and they don’t use business-speak to dress up a dull concept. They use creative who share the same values, so the content they make is accessible.

2. They know that many agencies are slow, unimaginative, and expensive

Big agencies have big power. Some do great work. Some win awards. But many are more interested in numbers than results. They’re inefficient, tend to tell the client what they want to hear, and charge huge amounts. 

New marketers don’t work like this. They have small teams, in small offices – if they have an office at all – so the client isn’t paying for their fancy building with its accompanying rent. 

They work quickly and push boundaries – but they listen to the client. And if something isn’t going to work, they’ll say so. 

3. They don’t care about performance marketing

It’s not purely about the numbers. Being able to measure something (leads, open rates, click-throughs) doesn’t make it a success – it just means you can measure it. Instead, there’s a movement towards intuitive marketing, when you’re delivering content through the channels you know your audience responds to.

These are people who believe marketing is about more than generating leads for sales. In fact, they believe marketing is about anything other than generating leads for sales. Especially creating content and then using it. For them, marketing and content is about helping your audience

4. They put their efforts into podcasts, LinkedIn and social media

Podcasts are not exactly new. Neither’s LinkedIn. But does your company have a successful podcast? Do you get enviable engagement on LinkedIn? Or is it more like a couple of comments and a handful of likes? 

Given the time we’ve had to get to grips with these channels and formats, you’d think brands and companies would be doing a better job of using them as a marketing tool. But they’re not. Despite often having huge numbers of followers, many big corporates’ LinkedIn accounts get very low levels of engagement.  

New marketers know that podcasts are the new blogs, even though they’re not new and Seth Godin worked this out a couple of years ago. They have big followings on LinkedIn and they get enviable engagement. They know how to make this content and use it to market themselves and their clients.  

5. They know audiences don’t care about your company, awards, offices, and sometimes, even the product

There’s a new marketing truism: nobody cares about your company. Instead, people care about what you can do for them, whether that’s at a personal or corporate level. 

Like so much of how new marketing operates, this comes back to content. Content that solves problems, helps the audience and avoids any kind of sell is worth something to the audience. New marketers put this sort of content ahead of anything else – then, once they’ve won the trust and interest of the audience, they can start to talk product, benefits, and features. 

The post The New Breed of Marketers | 5 Attributes That Distinguish New Marketers appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

15 Small Website Mistakes That Cost You a Lot of Money

Online business is booming—nearly 30% more people are shopping online this year compared to last. As more consumers look to the computer instead of the shops to buy what they want, more organizations are shifting their focus to selling online. Unfortunately, while there are tons of great tools to create a professional small business website,…

The post 15 Small Website Mistakes That Cost You a Lot of Money appeared first on Fit Small Business.

6 Predictions For Back-To-School Spending, And How Staples, Walmart And Others Act

Let’s Hope Retailers Have Ordered A Lot Of Erasers

Back to-school season is upon us, and parents are learning a lot about the science of prediction. The shifting sentiments that come with it should cause retailers to exercise new actions when it comes to building the right customer experiences.

For one thing, exactly where and when will school start? Nearly 70% of parents do not intend to begin school shopping until three weeks before classes are scheduled to start, because they don’t know what to expect, according to research by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Not that they won’t spend when they feel ready. The NRF survey indicates parents of pre-K to high school students will spend more on back-to-school items this year – nearly $790 on average compared with $697 in 2019. That adds up to $33.9 billion, from $26.2 billion in 2019.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean all retailers will record a seasonal sales gain, though it could present a fresh opportunity for certain retail sectors. An exploration of some of the research results regarding school spending reveals why.

2+2 Adds Up Differently Across Households

Because states and communities are enforcing varying guidelines on schooling, a single retailer can find it is marketing to dozens of sharply different needs. These six findings speak to those anticipated needs, which some retailers are already acing.

  1. Uncertainty’s learning curve. As of mid-July, more than half of parents had not finished their back-to-school shopping because they don’t know what to expect. This is why 68% are waiting until three weeks before school starts to even start. Many retailers and brands are offering competitive promotions, but the ones that show they understand the turmoil behind the shopping trip will stand out. Backpack brand JanSport is proving it identifies with the stress factor through a campaign called “Lighten the Load,” which promotes mental health wellness among young people managing in the pandemic.
  2. The price of being a teacher. It’s likely a lot of spending on back-to-school supplies is shifting from teachers to parents as more kids learn from home. Indeed, parents expect to spend about $10.4 billion just online for back-to-school supplies, up 28.4% from last year’s $8.1 billion, according to the 2020 Deloitte back-to-school survey. The NRF survey indicates spending for basics such as pencils, paper and other supplies will climb to $131 from $117 (up 13%). Retailers could benefit by sharing with parents what they know about how teachers shop.Staples, Amazon AMZN +0.9% and Walmart WMT +0.2% are among retailers marketing pencils, Sharpies and notepads in bulk, for example. Or retailers can learn from Bags in Bulk, which sells a complete 45-piece school supply kit.
  3. Big-ticket items compute. Computers will be a big contributor to back-to-school spending this year – 63% of parents plan to buy laptops and other electronics, the NRF survey shows. (Of parents who expect their kids to learn at home, 72% plan to buy computers and home furnishings.) A computer purchase often requires research, and retailers that provide that service will probably click with shoppers. Best Buy BBY +0.6%’s online Student Hub helps customers shop “new tech for a new way to school,” with an online questionnaire – which includes “what’s your style?” questions – to determine needs and preferences before offering suggestions.
  4. The pandemic is adding to traditions. Untraditional purchases, such as safety supplies (masks, sanitizers and gloves), also are nabbing part of the traditional back-to-school budget. Nearly 90% of parents will purchase safety products, according to a PayPal -0.4%PYPL survey, and 59% will invest in remote learning technology. Ace Hardware, not a traditional destination for back-to-school shopping, is taking advantage with push emails that promote “health and safety essentials” (masks, gloves, disinfectants) and a $5 coupon. It also is sending tips on setting up, and cleaning, a home classroom.
  5. Home-schooling changes fashion. Apparel spending is predicted to decline – by 10% year-over-year based on Deloitte’s survey, though the NRF projects a more modest 2% decline. Parents may spend more, however, if they see clothing ideas that anticipate any environment. Macy’s M +3.1% is kicking off the shopping season with the upbeat campaign, “No matter how we school, let’s be ready,” which offers clothing and accessory suggestions so customers can “be ready” in ways that matter now – from “for any kind of classroom,” to “with max confidence” to “for every chill and study sesh.”
  6. Stores will be history. Not completely, but the accelerated shift toward e-commerce, launched in the spring, will continue. More than half of parents (55%) told the NRF they plan to shop online, compared with 49% in 2019. Just 36% of shoppers plan to visit discount stores, compared with 50% in 2019, and 37% expect to go to department stores, from 53% a year ago. Retailers that want to entice back-to-school shoppers into the stores must find ways to make the experience unique and helpful. There’s a reason Amazon Prime AMZN +0.9% in March counted 118 million members (compared with 109 million a year before). Its “ready for school” site covers all the categories, including snacks and cable modems, in one click.

New Schooling Means New Calculations

This school year will be a case study in perseverance – and creativity – for every party involved, from the brands that make the goods retailers sell to the students who use them. So far, many in the retail industry have proven they can adapt quickly.

Those that make history will likely be the ones that see the schooling challenge through the eyes of parents and students, to encompass all concerns from safety to job security to style, rather than through corporate performance measures.

It’s a pretty simple lesson, and it hasn’t changed in generations: If shoppers feel they are cared for, they will come.

Bryan Pearson is a Featured Contributor to The Wise Marketer and currently serves as a director and strategic advisor to a number of loyalty-related organizations. He is the former CEO of LoyaltyOne.

This article originally appeared in Forbes. Be sure to follow Bryan on Twitter for more on retail, loyalty, and the customer experience.

The post 6 Predictions For Back-To-School Spending, And How Staples, Walmart And Others Act appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

The 11 Best Social Media Dashboard Tools & Apps

When implementing your social media strategy, it’s easy to realize that manually posting on multiple different websites, multiple times a day, isn’t optimal for your busy schedule. But it’s not easy to tell from a baseline or pricing page which tools are not only the best for efficiency but best for your business.

Instead of spending hours of extra research combing through all of your options and sitting through countless demos and free trials, we’ve compiled a list of the best social media dashboards that fit your budget and brand.

These social media dashboards are optimized for every type of SMB; whether you’re a social media team or a party of one, these apps will help you accomplish your goals in a streamlined, efficient way.

1. HubSpot

Price: Included in Professional version ($800/mo) or Enterprise version ($3,200/mo)

Why it’s great: All-in-one social media software

With HubSpot’s social media management tool, you get an all-inclusive package. Connect up to 300 accounts and schedule up to 10,000 posts a month. Plus, for super in-depth planners, you can schedule posts up to 3 years in advance.

HubSpot’s social media management features include monitoring mentions and engagement, and provides full analytic reports. You’re able to schedule posts all in one place without leaving the system.

2. Later

Price: $9, $19, $29, $49 per month, and enterprise pricing

Why it’s great: Instagram scheduling

While you can connect Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest profiles, Later is best for Instagram scheduling. This is because of its image-based content calendar scheduling, so you can see a bird’s eye view of your brand in a monthly, visual format.

later scheduling example

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Later is also an Instagram partner, which means it integrates with Instagram’s API. This partnership means your account information will stay completely safe, which is important for Instagram Business accounts that have Shopping set up.

3. Sendible

Price: $29 up to $299 per month

Why it’s great: Agency-based management

Are you a social media or marketing agency? Sendible may be the answer to unkempt management: it’s a tool fit for an agency with clients. It helps you streamline how you manage brands and offers a couple unique features that help you succeed.

sendible report example

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Sendible has a royalty-free image search tool and a Canva integration. Sendible also has social listening tools, a Reports function, scheduling, and post previews. To put it simply: this is a full dashboard and suite of tools to put your client accounts all in one place.

4. Tailwind

Price: $9.99 up to $799.99 per month, or enterprise pricing

Why it’s great: Pinterest and Instagram management

Tailwind is a very unique program, providing services for two apps normally not paired with each other: Pinterest and Instagram. It makes sense, however, considering both apps focus on visual multimedia. Offering a full media dashboard with scheduling, social listening, and analytics tools, Tailwind also has a few interesting program-specific services.

tailwind report example

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First, it gives suggestions about how to improve Instagram and Pinterest performance. It also comes with a way to promote Pinterest content and manage Instagram user-generated content. If your brand is heavily focused on visuals, Tailwind may be right for you.

5. Sprout Social

Price: $99 up to $249 per user per month

Why it’s great: Team-based management

Sprout Social is a dashboard platform that’s focused entirely on social media teams. What you get for your money is a full suite of tools, including options that allow you to create and schedule posts, social listening tools, and most of all: analytic data.

sprout social report example

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The analytic tools are the shining star of Sprout Social. Expansive, in-depth reporting is available. If that’s a focus for your brand, consider Sprout. They make the reports so professional and easy to read, there’s no editing required.

6. MeetEdgar

Price: $49/month

Why it’s great: 100% automated scheduling

MeetEdgar is an app with a different approach to social media management, is. All users do is upload categorically-based content into their account and create time slots for when they want their account to post said content.

meetedgar category example

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Then, according to the time slots and categories, the app will schedule and upload content. If you want your Twitter account to post a meme at 11 AM on a Thursday, MeetEdgar would search through the “Meme” category of content you’ve already uploaded, schedule, and post it.

Managers might like this option, if they don’t have enough time to constantly schedule and upload content. They can plug in their entire content calendar at the start of the month and remove the heavy lifting for the next few weeks.

Post-enhancing dashboards such as these three can take care of your social strategy without losing any of quality.

1. TweetDeck

Price: Free
Why it’s great: Twitter dash management

TweetDeck is amazing if you’re tired of flipping back and forth through the different tabs on Twitter. It’s a free extension of twitter (no download required) that automatically gives you your account’s Home, Notifications, Trending, and Messages in a dashboard view.

tweetdeck dsahboard example

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This app is especially handy for posting quickly. You can engage with your Twitter in-app, and it feels like a much faster method of running your account than the in-browser functionality . Plus, TweetDeck automatically updates with any new notifications.

2. TweetStats

Price: Free
Why it’s great: Free basic Twitter analytics

This little website is super handy if you don’t have the budget to pay for analytic tools. TweetStats can give you the analytics of any Twitter account in about two minutes. The website displays graphs of when you’ve tweeted, the volume of tweets, time you usually tweet, and your most used words and hashtags.

tweetstats analytics example

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Using TweetStats is especially helpful if you want to view the ecosystem of your Twitter. Are you staying on-brand? Are you meeting your tweet goals? What hashtags can you elevate the use of?

3. TubeBuddy

Price: Free plan, or $9 up to $49 per month
Why it’s great: YouTube management

If you have a large YouTube presence, consider TubeBuddy. TubeBuddy offers a hefty suite of perks to present a full dashboard. Categories include video dashboard, video SEO, bulk processing, promotion, data & research, and productivity.

tubebuddy card template

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The screenshot above features one of TubeBuddy’s card template features. Card templates streamline the process of uploading and finalizing YouTube videos, making it easier to sort videos into a playlist on your channel.

You can install the program for free on Chrome, working sort of like an extension. The free plan gives you access to analytics, productivity, and SEO tools to get started. TubeBuddy is also a YouTube Partner and integrates with Alexa.

4. MavSocial

Price: Free plan, or $19 up to $499 per month
Why it’s great: Visual-based streamlined management

This is a great post-enhancing tool. MavSocial has a focus on visual-based management, and as such, offers unique perks, like editing multimedia content and a stock photo digital library. With the editing tools, you can add filters to your photos, crop, and search for royalty-free images.

mavsocial dashboard example

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On top of all of this, MavSocial has a full dashboard suite, meaning you can schedule content and engage with followers. MavSocial supports YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The app is also an Instagram Partner.

5. Hootsuite

Price: Free plan, or $29 up to $599 per month
Why it’s great: All-in-one social media management

Hootsuite is a popular social media tool and boasts over 15 million users. The free plan lets you add three social accounts from different platforms on one screen and has a limit on how many posts are available to make.

hootsuite dashboard example

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While user-friendly, Hootsuite is an expansive app. You can create ads, running an ROI report on those ads, and also has options to schedule and create posts. Note that you can only post on your Instagram using the scheduler, if you have an Instagram Business account.

Every business is unique, and so is every social media dashboard. Because of that, finding the best fit can be daunting. Covering all your bases can be simplified with a social media dashboard, as well as building a community and social presence.

If you want to take a crack at building your own content calendar that’ll help you plan your social media posts, check out our article here.

What is a website taxomomy?

While scavenger hunts can be fun, users don’t want to frantically search through a website to find answers to their questions. They want them quickly, and they want them to be easy to find.

The structure users want is called taxonomy. Scientifically, a taxonomy is a classification scheme that dictates how things are organized and classified based on their characteristics.

A website’s taxonomy can dictate the user experience, and can also influence search engine rankings. This post will go over what a website taxonomy is, and give you the resources to create a successful organization system for their site.

Website taxonomy is also related to URL structure, which is how URLs are organized to reflect content within specific site pages. Every website domain stays the same for every URL address, but subdirectories and URL slugs change as page content gets more specific.

For example, say your website’s primary domain is www.samplewebsite.com.

Your taxonomic structure will include subdirectories within your domain that are relevant to the page’s content. So, if your samplewebsite has a ‘Contact’ or ‘Announcements’ page, the URLs would change to reflect the information displayed on each page. The URLs for these pages would be www.samplewebsite.com/contact and www.samplewebsite.com/announcements, respectively.

Why is a website taxonomy important?

A well-planned taxonomy can transform how users interact with your site, especially when your content is organized logically. If users can get to your site and find what they’re looking for, they’ll view you as a reputable source and they’ll stay longer.

Websites that don’t have a specific structure tend to be difficult for people to understand. In fact, an average of 38% of site visitors will leave a site if it’s poorly organized.

A carefully crafted taxonomy is also crucial for search engine optimization (SEO), as a taxonomic organization is easier for search engine bots to recognize as they analyze and index your site.

Let’s put all of this in context with a hypothetical website. Say you own www.recipes.com. Since you know that your visitors are coming to your site for specific recipes, you want to set up categories that help them find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. If they’re looking for desserts, for example, they likely want to find those recipes through the corresponding category page, not by browsing through a list of unrelated meals.

The URL for this page would be www.recipes.com/desserts. A user knows what they’ll find within this subcategory of recipes. For search engine bots, the URL subdirectory helps them understand what the page is about and when they should show the page in search results.

 

Best Practices for Creating a Website Taxonomy

Ultimately, you want both users and search bots to understand your site. You don’t want them to be bombarded with content that isn’t going to fulfill their needs. While it may seem clear cut, various factors go into creating a successful website taxonomy.

Know your audience.

Just like all types of marketing, the key to creating your taxonomy is understanding your users.

You’ll want to know who they are, why they’re visiting your site, and what they want to find on your site. It’s essential to understand what their specific needs are so you can structure your content accordingly. To better understand your users, you can do things like create buyer personas.

Continuing with the recipes.com example, whoever runs the site knows that their visitors are coming because they want help with their cooking. It’s great to know this, but is there anything else they’ll want from your site? They may also want you to recommend kitchen supplies that will help them make these recipes, or recommend brands to buy ingredients from.

If you take the time to get to know your future users, you can design your site accordingly.

Conduct keyword research.

When you know who your users are and what they want, you want to make sure you have the necessary information to keep them on your site.

You can use your site’s primary purpose to rank in search results, but it’s essential to have multiple keywords for the additional categories you’ll create within your site. These keywords should be directly related to the content that users will find on those specific pages.

For instance, if you run a blog on travel tips, travel tips can be your main keyword. However, your research may show that users also associate travel tips with travel packing tips and travel insurance tips. You’ll want to use that information when creating your structure.

Be consistent.

Consistency with categories and the content within those categories makes it easier for users to understand your site. It also makes it easier for those executing your content strategy to create relevant content. For example, on the HubSpot Blog, we have four different properties: Service, Sales, Marketing, and Website.

Blog posts are categorized based on their relationship to each property, and this organizational consistency makes it easier for visitors to find relevant information. For example, a user would know to search within blog.hubspot.com/website rather than blog.hubspot.com/service for a tutorial on how to use WordPress.

Consistency is also important for SEO, as bots dislike poorly organized websites, and sites with jumbled and unrelated content is considered spammy. Bots also recognize contextual relationships between categories and content, and they’ll learn how to index your site for specific search queries.

Keep it simple.

While there are certainly hundreds of categories and subcategories you could come up with to sort content on your site, less is more. The ideal web taxonomy is focused and straightforward.

With recipes.com, there are so many different types of dishes that it would (and will) become overwhelming for users to sift through hundreds of different categories.

Keeping it simple means creating fewer high-level categories that can house lower-level categories. You can have a high-level category page dedicated entirely to baking recipes, and the content you post within that page will be specific to baking recipes.

The URL for this category would be recipies.com/baking rather than recipes.com/pie-recipies and recipes.com/scone-recipies. Then, if a user goes on your site to find a blueberry pie recipe, the page URL may be www.recipes.com/baking/blueberrypie.

Leave room for growth.

Taxonomy can, and should, change as your business scales.

If you create new forms of content, you may need to shuffle categories to ensure that they still relate to each other and have room for new content.

Say you’re running a blog about content marketing, but you cover the topic generally. It’s unlikely that you’ll have multiple page categories or subfolders within those pages. However, suppose you decide to hire new team members who are experts in specific types of content creation. In that case, you’ll want to create different taxonomic categories to distinguish between the different types of content.

You may also realize that certain categories and subcategories aren’t as intuitive as you’ve hoped, per user feedback. Taking the time to understand what is and isn’t working for those who interact with your site is essential.

 

Types of Website Taxonomy

Once you know your audience and have created your keyword-relevant categories, it’s essential to decide on the taxonomic structure that works best for your site. Since taxonomy is a classification system, it may seem like the logical structure is a hierarchical one, organized by importance. However, this isn’t always the case. Let’s review the different types of website taxonomies so you can select the one that works best for your site.

Flat Taxonomy

A flat taxonomy, sometimes called unlayered taxonomy, is a simple list of top-level categories. All categories on this site carry equal weight in comparison to each other. It’s a perfect structure for smaller websites that don’t have a large amount of content.

For example, a veterinarian’s office likely doesn’t have many needs to fulfill. Their homepage may only have three to four categories, like ‘About Us,’ ‘Book an Appointment,’ ‘Location,’ and ‘Services.’ Users visiting the site won’t need much more than that.

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Hierarchical Taxonomy

A hierarchical taxonomy is an arrangement of categories by order of importance. Larger websites typically use it, and top-level categories are broad.

hierarchical website taxonomy model

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Moving down a hierarchical structure means getting more specific. This allows users to quickly identify and navigate between different sections and categories. Search engines will recognize these relationships as well.

For example, hubspot.com displays three main categories at the top of the page: Software, Pricing, and Resources. Each of those categories is broad and overarching. If a user mouses over them, they’re then shown more specific categories.

In turn, our URLs for these categories look like this: hubspot.com, hubspot.com/products, hubspot.com/products/marketing, and hubspot.com/marketing/seo.

It’s important to note that there shouldn’t be too many high-level categories or subcategories, as excessive groups can become confusing for users and SEO crawlers.

Network Taxonomy

A network taxonomy involves organizing content into associative categories. The relationships and associations between categories can be basic or arbitrary, but they should be meaningful to users.

For example, a ‘Most Popular’ category within a website may contain lists of different articles covering a broad range of topics that are popular among that audience. Still, they’re all similar in the sense that they are highly rated, viewed, and visited by others.

network taxonomy website structure diagram

Facet Taxonomy

A facet taxonomy is used when topics can be assigned to multiple different categories. Sites that typically use this structure allow users to find content by sorting for specific attributes. It’s also great for users who will likely arrive at certain content by different means.

facet website taxonomy model

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For example, Nike sells a variety of different products. While there are specific categories for shoes and clothing, there are also subcategories for color, size, and price. A shoe that shows up on a search for ‘blue shoes’ may also show up on a list of cheap shoes because they’re currently on sale.

 

Put time into your website’s taxonomy.

Creating and maintaining a successful website taxonomy that makes sense for users and search engines essential to your marketing strategy.

If other elements of your site are already optimized for other SEO ranking factors, the addition of a structured taxonomy will help your site rank highly in search query results, not to mention, it’ll keep users on your site.

If you want to learn more about website best practices, consider taking the HubSpot Academy Website Optimization course!