Mobile, Multi-Merchant and “Just-For-Me” Personalization

2018 was a complex year for loyalty
professionals and marketers, marked by several high-profile developments at the
program level and the ongoing evolution in how brands approach loyalty.

In terms of major program shifts, we saw the demise of Plenti, the complicated, American Express-owned coalition marketing program; the consolidation of Marriott Rewards and the Starwood Preferred Guest Program; the “will they, won’t they” drama of Air Canada’s re-acquisition of Aeroplan; and the launch of Nordstrom’s mobile loyalty app, Nordy Club.

What
these headline-grabbing mergers, acquisitions, launches and closings didn’t
obscure are the fundamental changes taking place … loyalty is getting more
personal, more dependent on mobile channels, more integrated with payments, and
more valuable than ever to brands in competitive environments.

Having worked on the team that launched the Fuel Rewards® program (still the most successful national coalition marketing program in the U.S.), I’m proud to say – I’m optimistic about the future of loyalty.  Here’s what I see coming in this space over the rest of the year and into 2020.

Refining Personalization Marketing

If 2018’s loyalty buzzword was ‘personalization,’ then this will be the year personalization actually gets better. Loyalty programs that offer personalization features consistently score higher in consumer satisfaction. However, the ways in which brands implement their personalization strategies will improve and become more refined. To do this, loyalty programs (and brands in general) will increase their ability to capture customer data, allowing their personalization efforts to become more accurate, more intimate without being intrusive, and ultimately more effective. Many loyalty programs will be modified to put more of a premium on collecting customer information as part of the process. Nordstrom’s Nordy Club is a good example of this, incentivizing members to complete a profile to earn points – and use that information to provide better personalized offers and communications.

Smarter Personalization

Just as personalization marketing will become more refined, the way personalized loyalty offers are deployed will become smarter. Predictive offer scoring, a relatively new concept in 2018, will be more widespread in 2019 as brands become better able to manage the intersection between customer data, personalization constructs, and real-time offer deployment. To achieve this, brands will need to lean on connected data – combining information from the loyalty program with point-of-sale data and even marketing channel data (social media, SEO, etc.) to build a solid understanding of their customers. When brands know what resonates with their customers through loyalty program data, tailor offers to their individual preferences and deliver those offers at the optimal time to prompt a purchase, this trend will be fully realized – and brands will enjoy the incremental revenue boost that goes along with it.

Payment and Loyalty Convergence

Another trend I see defining loyalty in 2019 is the increased convergence of loyalty programs and payments. Some loyalty programs have always been tied to specific payment methods, i.e. members earn points only when they pay with a particular credit card. Other loyalty programs are payment-agnostic, allowing consumers to earn rewards or points regardless of how they pay.  Many loyalty programs have evolved to support both; Target, which has always rewarded its REDCard holders with 5% cash back when they paid with the ACH-powered, checking-account-linked card, announced that loyalty program members could earn (lesser) rewards when using another payment method. 

Some
payment-agnostic programs are moving in the other direction, integrating
payment options into their existing loyalty programs.  Brands have recognized the value of combined
loyalty+payment, and as the technology improves to weave these two aspects
together more seamlessly, we’ll see more brands pursuing this approach in the
year ahead.  

Less Spend on Web

The fact
that loyalty programs are highly invested in the mobile channel isn’t new,
though we think it may have reached a peak in 2018.  On the whole, we see this as a positive
development for the loyalty sector – 69%
of consumers want digital or mobile loyalty cards, and a majority of those will
spend more with a brand that offers mobile capability.  But while brands might have simply augmented
their digital and physical loyalty operations with mobile, 2019 will be the
year they begin to reallocate investment dollars from online to mobile.  This means more simplified, less feature-rich
traditional loyalty websites, and more adaptive mobile websites and apps.

Coalition Loyalty Reasserts Its Value

The decline of Plenti and the trend of major brands bringing their loyalty programs in-house may have made 2018 seem like a negative year for coalition marketing programs. But multi-merchant programs, including our own Fuel Rewards® program, actually thrived in 2018, adding more consumer members and retail participants and breaking records for engagement and redemption. 

Programs that
focus on driving frequency – while allowing retailers to maintain their own
brands and the equity they have invested in them – are the programs that
deliver the most value. Provided, of course, those programs also deliver
relevant and clear value to consumers. 

Coalition marketing programs that offer these benefits and are “bolted on” to existing loyalty strategies will become more prevalent this year, reinforcing the fact that multi-merchant programs can work and thrive in the North American market.

Connection Creates Efficiency

It seems like every year, advances in marketing and loyalty technology create new capabilities for marketers, and 2018 was no different.  But in 2019, more marketers will find value in having these capabilities connected into one manageable platform. Instead of leaning on separate systems to handle loyalty program execution, CRM, analytics, and content management, marketers will seek out services and partners that can bundle these tools.  This type of consolidation will not only provide convenience, but also value, as marketers will need to deal with fewer tech vendors.

Already, 2019 is shaping up to be a strong year for loyalty programs across different retail sectors. Brands will get better at personalization, both refining it and facilitating smarter offer deployment strategies, and you can expect to see more convergence of loyalty and payment systems. Investment in loyalty programs’ digital strategies will be diverted to the mobile channel – both native apps and mobile web – as consumers continue to demonstrate their preference to engage through their mobile devices.  And we also expect a positive reevaluation of coalition marketing programs that leverage relevant rewards currencies to drive visit frequency, redemption, and revenue.

Watch our Executive Interview with Brandon here.

Brandon Logsdon is SVP of Marketing Cloud Solutions for PDI Software, oversees the company’s loyalty division in addition to its MarketLink and Data monetization services. Prior to PDI, Brandon served as Excentus’ President and CEO, and was the driving force behind the launch of the most successful national coalition marketing program in the U.S., the Fuel Rewards® program.

The post Mobile, Multi-Merchant and “Just-For-Me” Personalization appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

Unstructured Data Vs. Structured Data: A 3-Minute Rundown

Most marketers think being data-driven means using web metrics to inform every decision they make. But that’s not actually being data-driven. That’s being Google Analytics-driven. To truly be data-driven, we must remind ourselves of the actual definition of data — all types of information.

One of the most insightful types of information is qualitative data or unstructured data. It can reveal your customers’ true opinions and feelings toward your brand, which is challenging to extract from quantitative data or structured data.

Even Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, is a passionate proponent of using qualitative data to drive strategy. “The thing I have noticed is when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right. And there’s something wrong with the way you are measuring (your data),” he explained during an onstage interview at George Bush Presidential Center last April.

Bezos’ love for customer feedback shouldn’t compel you to supplant quantitative data with qualitative data when strategizing your next marketing campaign, though. It should compel you to inform your strategy with both sources of data. By combining the insights pulled from web metrics and customer feedback, you can get a full understanding of your marketing program’s effectiveness.

If you want a deeper explanation of what qualitative or unstructured data and quantitative or structured data is, check out this quick rundown of what both data sources exactly are and which tools you can use to store and analyze them.

Since you can’t store and organize unstructured data in typical databases, you need to store them in Word documents or non-relational (NoSQL) databases, like Elasticsearch or Solr, which can perform search queries for words and phrases.

Additionally, since you can’t use standard data analysis methods and tools to pull insights from unstructured data, you can either manually analyze or use the analysis tools in a NoSQL database to examine unstructured data. However, to use these tools effectively, you need a high level of technical expertise.

If you can successfully extract insights from unstructured data, though, you can develop a deep understanding of your customer’s preferences and their sentiment toward your brand.

Be Data-Driven, Not Just Google-Analytics Driven

In a world where Google Analytics can spit out every metric under the sun, you must remember that qualitative data, like customer feedback, is just as crucial for informing your marketing strategy as web metrics. Without unstructured data, you won’t have a clear understanding of how your customers actually feel about your brand. And that’s crucial for every marketer to know.

free excel templates for marketing

How We Grew Our Organic Reach 185% on Facebook

In 2018, Facebook enacted some algorithm changes that negatively impacted a brand’s ability to reach its audience organically.

HubSpot’s Latin America & Iberia Marketing team were no exception to this.

Despite having half a million Spanish-speaking fans on our Facebook page, we realized we were barely able to reach one percent of them — which is pretty shocking, if you think about it.

That meant, despite years of work building up our Facebook audience on the platform, that we weren’t even able to communicate with our fans when we had something interesting to say.

Unless, of course, we paid.

But, from our perspective, paying to talk to people who already know about HubSpot, and presumably already like us, didn’t sound the right thing to do. It also didn’t seem to align with our goal of creating sustainable, genuine connections with our audience.

After months of suffering a down-trend on our Facebook numbers, and finding out about an increasing number of Facebook updates, we reached a turning point when we realized we needed to change our social strategy — and, more fundamentally, the way we thought about Facebook.

Here, we’re going to explain the six fundamental changes we made to our Spanish-speaking Facebook strategy to increase our organic reach over two and a half times.

How To Increase Organic Reach Despite Facebook’s Algorithm Changes

1. Think of Facebook as a publishing platform.

Traffic was one of the main metrics we used to measure our Facebook performance in the past. As many brands do, we saw Facebook as a portal to our website — a channel to obtain traffic.

In fact, Facebook has traditionally be one of the most important sources of traffic for many businesses … so it would be foolish not to tap into it, right?

Unfortunately, that was the case for the old Facebook. In the last couple of years, however, Facebook has carried out many updates for the same underlying goal — to keep users on Facebook longer, and increase engagement on the platform itself. As a consequence, external links are not held in very high regard.

Now, brands that only use Facebook as an amplifying channel for their websites, or blog, are going to suffer the most from the algorithm changes.

We were part of that group.

Once we realized our old strategy wouldn’t work on the new Facebook, we knew we needed a mindset change — something many brands are likely unwilling to do.

To succeed on Facebook, we began thinking of Facebook as a publishing channel. This fundamentally meant creating quality content to be consumed directly on Facebook — no links.

Okay, I know what you are thinking now: What happens with my traffic then? How do I convert all those people?

This is what scares most people — you don’t. You grow your brand awareness, and grow your reach. People may not be on your website, but they are still seeing your content and your brand, so when they are ready to buy or need something from you, they will remember you. You will be top of mind.

And magic will happen.

2. Play by Facebook rules (engagement, engagement, engagement).

Facebook’s algorithm favors certain types of content. And those algorithm-favored pieces of content are put in front of more people — and, as a result, get more engagement.

Of course, those favored content types are constantly evolving at Facebook, as the company continues to try to improve the engagement of its users. So it’s critical you remain flexible and willing to experiment with content types as you enact your own Facebook strategy.

For us, videos have been our best bet over the past year, and have worked wonders for us — once we recognized the power of video, we moved from less than 10% video content to 50% video content, which consistently gets higher reach than any other type of content.

3. Break up with paid boosting.

Along with the change to our organic strategy, we also changed the way we approach boosting posts on Facebook.

We came to the conclusion that boosting is not a sustainable strategy to get people’s attention on Facebook. We slowed down our spending to focus on organic-only, and to understand which type of posts work for us — and which didn’t.

Once we started to see improvements in our organic reach and were happy with our overall strategy, we started investing again on boosting posts but, unlike in the past, we now only boost high-performing posts to generate extra engagement and reach, not clicks.

This approach reinforces our overall strategy and allows us to spread our net wider when it comes to brand awareness.

Additionally, it’s important to note we keep our paid social strategy completely separate from our organic strategy, since those teams have varying tasks and goals.

4. Change the way you measure success.

A year ago, we used number of likes as our main growth indicator for social — now, we see that number is meaningless.

Measuring the number of likes a post gets is no longer a good metric to determine the success of your Facebook strategy. There is no point in having 500K fans if your posts are being seen only by 5K. I’d rather have 100K fans, and have most of them see my posts regularly — wouldn’t you?

As a consequence, we came to the conclusion that we should move away from likes, and instead adopt a reach metric to measure our performance.

Of course, total reach can be easily manipulated by playing with frequency — but a metric like Average Reach per Post is something we felt could help us most accurately measure our performance, and how many people are exposed to our brand regularly.

5. Keep it organized.

Giving some structure to your social posting might sound like a basic tip, but it really gave us the consistency and focus we needed for Facebook.

We implemented a detailed social calendar and divided the posts by categories, allowing us to be more effective when creating content. It also enabled us to work better as a team. For instance, we allocate some weekly slots to areas of the business we want to surface, such as the Flywheel or Academy, and created social content with that in mind.

This structure also helps us to better analyze which posts perform best, and adapt our social calendar on an ongoing basis.

6. Consider alternatives.

Not everything works as planned. We have tested some ideas that have failed — alternatively, good-performing ideas have lost momentum.

#MartesEnVivo, a weekly Facebook Live broadcasting series, was our Tom Brady for months. Every week, it would be our top-performing post, driving up engagement and reach numbers.

But nothing lasts forever. When introducing more and more video content as part of our social content, we noticed that #MartesEnVivo was losing momentum, and the performance was not good enough for all the effort we were putting into it.

However, the content we shared in #MartesEnVivo was unquestionably valuable for our users, so we recently decided to spin the series and relaunch it on YouTube with a different name and different format.

The plan with this is to take advantage of YouTube search nature to make the lifespan of these videos longer — and, also, to free up some precious slots on Facebook for ephemeral videos that perform better there.

This will happen to you as well, so it’s always a good idea to keep in mind that Facebook is not the only social network that businesses can use.

There is always a channel for good content.

Our Results

The results have been surprising, even for us. We knew this was the right approach, but we never anticipated such a big improvement in our metrics in only five months.

Ultimately, we saw an average 185% increase in organic reach per post. We also saw a significant increase in all the metrics related to video-viewing on Facebook.

Over the next year, we are going to strive to push these numbers even further by continuing with this strategy, and trying new formats that can give us an extra push.

facebook-organic

Facebook Stories, for instance, is receiving a lot of attention from the Facebook community — so it’s definitely something on our radar.

Ultimately, Facebook’s algorithm changes can be scary and frustrating for your company, but it can also serve as a major opportunity for new growth. By changing your Facebook strategy to respond to Facebook’s changes, you just might find new avenues to reach, and impact, an even larger audience.

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5 Lead Generation Techniques for Small Businesses in 2019

You’ve got a loyal following of delighted customers. Now it’s time to grow. But to do that, you need leads.

The question is, how do you go about getting them? What techniques and approaches will help you generate a consistent stream of leads this year and beyond?

In this blog, I’ll share five simple lead generation methods and the techniques that will help you generate new customers over time. From content creation to face-to-face events, you’ll learn the most effective and affordable ways to expand your audience and generate qualified customers for your small business.

1. Start Using Video

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world? With over 1.9 billion users and one billion hours watched daily, it’s almost certain that your customers are active there. Video marketing has other benefits beyond distribution and traffic generation. By telling stories, sharing value, and getting in front of the camera, you’re creating a personal one-to-one connection with your customers.

So, how should you use video in your marketing?

There are several frameworks you can use, including:

  • Show what you do: Create detailed videos about your products or services. How do the features help customers overcome their challenges? What desires are you helping them to fulfill with what you offer?
  • Introduce yourself: You can also use video to introduce your brand. These sit well on your home page and can help people build a more personal connection with who you are and what you believe in.
  • Education: Are you an expert or thought leader in your field? Use video to educate your audience on key and trending topics. Show them how to execute as well as actionable steps
  • Celebrate your customers: Video testimonials can be huge social proof points. But you can also go one step further and make your customers the star of your video marketing. Use video to tell their story. 
  • Share your culture: Is your company a great place to work? Does what you believe attract similar customers? Share what happens behind-the-scenes to attract talented new hires and customers who share your vision.

Let’s look at some examples of these principles in action, starting with Dollar Shave Club:

With over 25 million views to date, these guys did something right. How? Simple: they put their founder in the spotlight and let their humorous side come out. It was an introduction to their brand and story, sure. But it was also a highly entertaining piece of content that took the internet by storm. Everyone was talking about it because it was raw, honest and genuinely funny.

This entertaining form of video content works gangbusters. But video can also be useful and educational. Take Seattle Coffee Gear, for example:

Here, they don’t talk about their products. Instead, they show their audience the easiest way to make a delicious mocha.

What challenges are your audience trying to overcome? What are their goals? Help them alleviate pains and achieve those goals with value-driven video content. You might be thinking “this sounds expensive.” But it doesn’t have to be, especially in the beginning. You can shoot simple videos for social media platforms right from your smartphone. Even higher quality productions need not be expensive. You can find talented and affordable freelance filmmakers, editors, and animators on websites like Upwork that sit within your budget.

Ultimately, it’s not about the equipment you use, but the story you share.

2. Create a Content Marketing Funnel

Many small businesses rely on paid media to attract new customers. Social media and Google Ads make this easier than ever, with business owners and marketers alike looking to make a positive ROI from their digital advertising. But you don’t need to rely purely on outbound methods. Using inbound marketing principles, you can attract a wider audience and nurture them into new customers over time. It all starts with creating good content.

For example, pet insurance company Petplan use their blog as a hub to provide practical advice for pet owners. They rank for various pet-related keywords, such as “lionhead rabbit” and “why do cats have 9 lives?” that generate between 600 and 20,000 searches a month.

People searching for these keywords may not be looking to buy from them right away. But they can capture their attention, deliver continuous value and drive them down the sales funnel. When they are ready to invest in pet insurance, it’s likely they’ll consider Petplan.

Here’s a simple content marketing process for you to follow when you’re just getting started:

  1. Uncover customer challenges: Send out email surveys asking your customers about why they buy from you and what their pet-related challenges and needs are. Look for product-related and non-product related topics. Speaking to customers face-to-face allows you to dig deeper into their motivations.
  2. Select your topics: Find topics for content that resonate with your brand. For example, Petplan writes about rare dog breeds, information on specific animals and provide pet care tips. These are the topics that interest their existing customers, which is why it attracts new ones too.
  3. Create a lead magnet: Once people read your content, you’ll need to capture their details to nurture them into customers. You can do this with discounts, prize draws, ebooks, and webinars. Anything that delivers something of value up front.
  4. Nurture with email: Now you have their details, it’s time to build the relationship. Use email marketing principles to “drip” more content and add more value over time. Do this with the content they care about most.
  5. Convert leads into customers: Once in a while, it’s okay to send an offer to convert these leads into customers. For example, an ecommerce brand may hold a limited sale or entice first-time customers with discounts. Figure out the offer and call-to-action that works best with your brand.

3. Don’t Neglect Traditional Media

Yes, digital marketing must be a part of every small business’s growth plan. But traditional media still works wonders, especially “local businesses.” However, these mediums only work if your customers are consuming them. Yes, it’s great investing in an ad for a local magazine, but only if your customers are reading it. Earlier, I mentioned that email surveys are a great way of uncovering the right topics for your content efforts. They’re also effective for discovering where your customers hang out online and what publications they read. Use these surveys to see if they consume traditional media.

Print ads can be incredibly creative and inspiring. For example, this ad from Kentucky for Kentucky that was printed in Oxford American magazine used a creative way to get readers’ attention: with a great big typo in the headline:

Kentucky for Kentucky Ad Example

Luckily, the editors of the magazine found it funny, as did their readers.

Here’s what Kentucky for Kentucky did well here:

  1. They targeted a magazine who had a reader base which included their ideal customer
  2. They used humor to get their attention, not just another boring print ad

Direct mail is another medium that still works wonders (as long as you consider your local and state laws). Take this example from Neville Medhora, where he dissects a direct mail piece from a real estate agent:

Real Estate Agent Direct Mail Lead Management Example

In his guide, he shows exactly why this works so well as this ad:

  • Includes a list of events in the area, providing practical utility for the recipient
  • Provides all contact info the recipient needs to get in touch
  • Asks a relevant, persona-driven question
  • Showcases some example properties, along with their prices

If you’re targeting specific geographic regions, then consider testing direct mail. Make sure you include one offer, make it super clear on what action they should take and provide some kind of value. This should be the philosophy you use in all of your traditional media.

4. Create In-Person Events

Event marketing is another initiative that can seem expensive. But it doesn’t have to be! Indeed, if you select the right format and execute properly, it can be an affordable way of getting in front of your customers face-to-face. Take pop-ups for example. By setting up a pop-up in the street (or within another businesses’ physical location), you can affordably get in front of your customers without having to pay expensive venue costs.

For example, BarkBox took to the streets for a week with their pop-up shop “Barkshop Live.” Here, they fitted visitor’s dogs with an RFID chipped vest and let them play with their dog toys. The vest then displayed to owners which toys their dogs played with most. They could then buy these toys on the spot if they wanted to.

As well as the real-life exposure and press attention, they repurposed content for the event into a video (as seen above). Not only that, but I would hazard a guess that they used the data collected from the RFID chips to inform their product strategy. The lesson here? Squeeze as much value from every event as possible. Then there are networking evenings. Again, instead of hiring out pricey venues, simply get together with other organizations in your market/region and put on a networking event together. Hold speaker sessions, workshops, or panels that allow each business to put their expertise forward. This way, everyone brings their audiences into one place, working together to expand their audience.

For example, Lean Startup Circles bring startup founders together to discuss existing challenges, share ideas, and network with their peers:

Lean Startup Circle NYC Example

Can you bring your industry together to share challenges and new ideas? Use networking events to facilitate new partnerships and business opportunities.

5. Build Your Personal Brand

Often overlooked by small business owners, there’s much power in a strong personal brand. Take the likes of Richard Branson and Gary Vaynerchuk, for example. They’re constantly in the limelight, which in turn brings a huge amount of attention to their companies. Not to mention extending the longevity of their careers, bringing new opportunities outside of their businesses.

Here’s a quick four-step framework to building and maintaining your own personal brand:

  1. Build your platform: Create a website to act as the “hub” for your content. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk uses his website to blog about relevant content he believes in, lists the events he’s attending, and direct visitors to his social accounts:Gary Vaynerchuk Website Example
  2. Define yourself: How do you want to be perceived? Are there any topics you want to be known for by your audience? Define the goals for your personal brand, as well as your values and the “role” you want to be known for.
  3. Create content: Ultimately, your content should share your story and focus on the topics that matter most to you. Seth Godin is an excellent example of creating value-driven content:Seth Godin Blog Example Don’t forget about social media content. Focus on where your audience is and create content that works on those platforms (e.g., short-form video and photos on Instagram, long-form video on YouTube).
  4. Schedule: Your personal brand isn’t something you can show up to when you feel like it. Just like a business, you need to consistently show up and create great content. Will you create content once a week or daily? Pick a cadence that works for you.

How are you currently growing your small business? Have you found any surprising results from your marketing activities? Join the conversation in the comments below.

The post 5 Lead Generation Techniques for Small Businesses in 2019 appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Top 27 Creative Restaurant Marketing Ideas

While restaurant marketing is critical to bringing in diners, it’s not always clear what strategies work best. That’s why many owners choose to get creative with their marketing, leveraging everything from email blasts to special events. Fortunately, we’ve tapped restaurant industry experts to learn what types of marketing are best for restaurants. Here are the…

The post Top 27 Creative Restaurant Marketing Ideas appeared first on Fit Small Business.

SMS survey example questions

The easiest and most effective way to communicate with your customers is through SMS, it takes around 5 seconds for your message to be delivered and because smartphones are now capable of almost everything, our mobile phones never leave our side so using SMS to communicate with your customer base is the perfect medium.

Using SMS to build a relationship with your customers means when it comes to asking them about how happy they are with you, sending them an SMS survey won’t come as a surprise.

SMS surveys provide businesses with an easy to use solution for obtaining feedback from customers and helping businesses to improve on what they do. Because SMS surveys are being sent through SMS, it provides the most efficient and convenient way to attain information from customers.

Consumers don’t want to spend time filling in long questionnaires, so ensuring you ask the right questions that both make it easy for them to answer, whilst giving you enough information to analyse and improve your business on, can be hard. Questions that are too long mean your customers won’t bother to answer them, too short and simple, and you won’t get the right data.

Asking the right questions is hard, which is why we have come up with some example survey questions below. All questions are under 160 characters therefore only costing you 1 credit to send.

Open-ended questions

Using open-ended questions in your survey are a great way to delve deep into what your customers really think. They are great as you can ask the question of ‘why’ giving the user freedom to give an in-depth and honest answer.

“What do you like the most about the service we offer?”

“Why did you attend our latest event?”

“If you could change anything about what we do, what would that be?”

“Why did you choose us over someone else?”

“Do you have any other comments, questions, or concerns?”

Pros: Respondents can define central issues
Cons: Difficult to analyse results, can be time-consuming for respondents

Yes or no questions

Yes or no questions are far easier for the recipient to answer and can give you data to analyse. If all you want to know is if they would buy from you again, recommend you to a friend, or merely ask if they are happy with you, then asking your customers to reply with a yes or no is perfect.

“Were we able to fix the issue you raised in a timely manner? Yes/No”

“Reply Yes or No – Did you find the purchasing process quick and easy?”

“Are you planning on using our service again for future events? Reply with yes or no.”

“Did you find out all the information you needed? Please reply Yes or No”

“Would you come back and stay another night? Reply Yes or No”

Pros: Quick and easy, can analyse results, does not allow for ambiguous answers
Cons: Unable to determine how strong each answer is (could be a strong yes or strong no)

Multiple choice questions

If you require more information than what a yes or no question can give you, providing recipients with a couple of answers that they can chose and reply with is just as easy. Multiple choice questions give the respondent more freedom whilst allowing you to easily analyse the answers.

“Which of the following options best describe us? Reply with all that apply (Corporate, Professional, Informal, Fun, Reliable, Unreliable, Low cost, Expensive)”

“How often would you see yourself using our software? Never, Sometimes, Often, All the time”

“How much do you agree with this statement – You feel like a valued customer? Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree”

“What time of the day do you mainly use our website? Select from; Morning, Afternoon, Evening.”

“What other services are you interested in? Reply with; IT Management, Cloud Solutions, Computer Hire, Cyber Security, Interesting in all, Not interested in any”

Pros: Easy to answer, allows you to easily compile and analyse results
Cons: May not give the respondent the answer they want

Rating scale questions

Rating scales are great for both the respondent and the surveyor. It gives the respondent a wide range of choices to pick from and business are easily able to analyse the results. You will need to make sure you explain the scale in the question, leaving it to the user to guess would render the question meaningless with different perceptions of what number is good and bad.

“On a scale of 1-5 how clean was your room on arrival, 1 = Very dirty 5 = Very clean”

“From 0–10 how likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague? (0 = Not at all likely, 10 = Extremely likely)”

On a scale of 0 (Poor) to 10 (Excellent), how would you rate our products you’ve used?

“Using the scale 1 (Extremely slow) to 10 (Extremely fast) how would you rate the speed in which your support case was fixed?”

On a scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with your order? (1 – Totally Dissatisfied, 5 – Totally Satisfied)

Pros: Easy to analyse data and compare answers
Cons: Can be hard to gauge the meaning of an answer (one person putting 7 may mean they loved the product, but someone else’s 7 could mean they were indifferent)

 

When creating your own survey, it is best to include open and closed questions. This gives you a good variety of areas you can cover and allows your customers to give you feedback that you can really analyse and use to improve your services with.

We hope these example survey questions helped you and remember to always include a closing message to thank your customers, they have spent time filling out your survey and the least you could do is thank them for it.

Wyndham Rewards Gets Back to Basics

In 2015, Wyndham took a bold stance on loyalty within the travel and hospitality industry when they rejuvenated their award-winning Wyndham Rewards program. In an effort to better align with “the everyday traveler”, Wyndham disavowed multiple-tier redemption strategies and proposed a single 15,000 point objective to be used for any of their brands. In Wyndham’s perspective, the enormous value that this created for consumers was a key benefit to encourage participation: it meant that rewards earned from budget brands could be leveraged for free nights at premium properties. Further, the single-tier format gave customers a clear, simplified goal.

It all seemed like a surefooted recipe for
success. And yet, four years later, Wyndham has announced that it is rolling
back the initiative. Starting April 3rd, the company will be
reverting back to a multi-tiered redemption model that offers rewards starting
at 7,500 points, escalating through to 30,000. There will also be opportunities
for consumers to append their points totals with cash when redeeming rewards.

Where does the customer fit into Wyndham’s picture? Their initial vision for the “everyday traveler” was a program entrenched with easy-to-use features and a minimalist engagement strategy. The hitch: it turns out this wasn’t exactly what their customer wanted after all.

“Seventy percent of members and prospective members we surveyed said they preferred multiple redemption tiers,” says Eliot Hamlisch, senior vice president of global loyalty and partnerships at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.

The hard truth is that the customers’ demands which brands try to anticipate can be very different from what customers actually desire for themselves, thus creating a formula for miscommunication and flawed targeting. In an effort to correct their interpretation of their customers’ needs and wants, Wyndham conducted expansive online surveys of their program members. What key learnings can be taken away from Wyndham’s efforts?

Customers want attainability

People have to be excited by rewards, but excitement alone is only part of the picture. Customers have to understand that loyalty objectives are attainable for them, which is a large part of why tiered-programs are attractive in the first place. “While having a single redemption tier is very simple and easy to understand, 15,000 points isn’t always attainable for all of our members.”

Customers want to feel included

Wyndham’s new program structure means customers with fewer point balances can still participate in reward redemption. But how is Wyndham ensuring that their elite members don’t feel like the new design curtails their own interests? The solution lies in an “accelerated earn” feature, allowing members with more points to earn incrementally more depending on their status rank. Gold members will now earn 10 percent more, Platinum members earn 15 percent more, and Diamond members earn 20 percent more.

Complexity must be balanced with flexibility

The updated program aims to fit the perfect niche in program navigability while still maintaining enough features to offer flexibility. “Other competitors have six to seven or eight tiers”, claims Hamlisch, in contrast to Wyndham Rewards three.  Of course, however many tiers a program should ideally have all depends on what makes sense for an individual customer segment. But for Wyndham, three might very well be the magic number.


Lanndon Lindsay is a reporter for The Wise Marketer.

The post Wyndham Rewards Gets Back to Basics appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

When Is the Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2019? [Cheat Sheet]

In high school, one of my friends was determined to find the perfect time to post her Instagram photos to maximize the amount of likes she got. She was surprisingly scientific about it, posting at different times of the day and jotting down each of her posts’ “likes per minute.”

After weeks of testing, she figured out which post time raked in the most likes, and, from then on, she could easily get 200 likes on all her Instagram posts.

My friend’s rather scientific method to maximize her Instagram likes still makes me chuckle to this day. But since I’m a marketer now, her desire to build a strong Instagram presence also resonates with me.

To build a sizable Instagram following, you need to create compelling content that your audience actually craves. But if you don’t post your content at the right time, most of them will never see it.

So how do you figure out the optimal post time for your specific audience?

The best way to find an ideal posting time is by testing the timing of your posts to see which post time generates the most audience engagement.

But if you don’t have enough resources or time to conduct your own tests, Sprout Social, a social media management platform with over 24,000 customers, has you covered. Last year, they analyzed their customer data to see what time and day their social media posts generated the most engagement. They also segmented the data by social network and industry.

Looking at their aggregate customer data for Instagram, you can see that the following days and times — in Central Daylight Time (CDT) — are ideal for generating the most engagement on the social network:

As stated above, although 2 – 3 PM is considered the best time of day to post on Instagram, the day of the week on which you post can change how much engagement you actually get at 2 – 3 PM.

Why? Think about the little differences in your daily mood and routine — the ones you might not realize you have — and how they affect your behavior. The same goes for everyone following your Instagram account. Here are some additional insights about optimal post timing from data by Sprout Social to show you what I mean:

  • Posting at 5:00 AM CDT from Tuesday to Friday generates some of the highest engagement — people usually check their phones right when they wake up.
  • Posting from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM CDT during the weekdays also generates a lot of engagement — people usually check their phones during lunch or when they start to run out of mental energy toward the end of the work day.
  • If you want to post on the weekends, post on Saturday around 11:00 AM CDT when people eat brunch or hang out with their friends.

So, when Instagramming, don’t go by this time range alone. Consider both the day of the week and the industry you’re in (we’ll talk about the latter in just a minute).

Best Time to Post on Instagram for Each Day of the Week

On average, here are the best times to Instagram during the week:

  • Sunday: 10 AM – 2 PM CDT
  • Monday: 11 AM – 5 PM CDT
  • Tuesday: 5 AM, 9 AM – 6 PM CDT
  • Wednesday: 5 AM, 11 AM, *3 PM CDT
  • Thursday: *5 AM, *11 AM, *3 – 4 PM CDT
  • Friday: *5 AM, 9 AM – 4 PM CDT
  • Saturday: 11 AM CDT

* = particularly high levels of engagement

Want some easy marching orders based on this data? Post to Instagram between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM CDT from Tuesday to Friday. You’ll get the most consistent engagement that way.

The general data above about optimal post timing is a great starting point for growing an engaged Instagram audience. But if you want to get more granular, here are the best times to post on Instagram if your organization is in the technology, B2C, education, healthcare, and non-profit industries, according to Sprout Social’s research.

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Technology Companies

  • Best Time: Wednesday at 10:00 AM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Wednesday to Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Thursday
  • Worst Day: Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for B2C Companies

  • Best Time: Saturday at 11:00 AM & 1:00 PM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Everyday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Wednesday
  • Worst Day: Monday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Educational Organizations

  • Best Time: Monday at 8:00 PM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Weekdays from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Monday
  • Worst Day: Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Healthcare Companies

  • Best Time: Tuesday at 1:00 PM CDT
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM CDT
  • Best Day: Tuesday
  • Worst Day: Saturday & Sunday

Best Times to Post on Instagram for Non-Profit Organizations

  • Best Times: Tuesday at 3:00 PM & 9:00 PM, Wednesday at 3:00 PM & 4:00 PM, Thursday at 2:00 PM & 3:00 PM, and Friday at 10:00 AM & 2:00 PM,
  • Most Consistent Engagement: Weekdays from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM
  • Best Day: Tuesday
  • Worst Day: Saturday

Every brand’s audience is different. To build a sizable, engaged Instagram audience, you need to know who your followers are. And one of the best ways to get to know your audience and capture their attention is by knowing exactly when they like to surf the app

instagram data

How to Create Infographics in Under an Hour [15 Free Infographic Templates]

Wouldn’t it be great if creating infographics was as simple as writing regular old text-based blog posts? Unfortunately, making visual content like this usually takes a lot more time, effort, and let’s face it — skill — than the written word. Usually.

But considering the popularity and effectiveness of visual content in marketing today, you can’t just afford to throw in the towel.

That’s why we decided to take all the pain and suffering out of infographic creation. Seriously — don’t give up just yet. You, too, can create infographics that are professional-looking, high-quality, and completed in under an hour. I’m going to prove it. First things first:

Download our 15 free infographic templates here.

Then, all you have to do is provide the content to use inside them. Easy as that. In fact, I’m going to show you just how easy it is to make your own infographic by demonstrating with one of our 15 infographic templates in PowerPoint (pictured above). Then, I’ll explain exactly what I did so you get a sense of how easy it really is.

Want to watch and listen to the instructions as you read the steps below? Check out the video below:

1. Identify the audience for your infographic.

Infographics don’t sell themselves on design alone. You need to deliver “info” that’s just as compelling as the “graphic,” and to do that, you need to know the audience your infographic intends to reach.

According to Harvard Business Review, there are five possible audiences that can change how you choose and visualize your data: novice, generalist, managerial, expert, and executive. Start by comparing your infographic’s ideal reader with one of these five audiences — which one applies to your reader?

When thinking about the data you want to visualize, let the five audiences above dictate how advanced your data will be. A “novice” audience, for example, might need data whose meaning is more obvious at first blush. An “expert” might be more interested in getting into the weeds of your numbers and posing theories around them. An “executive” has more in common with a novice audience in that they only have time for the simplest or most critical information, and the affect it’ll have on the business.

2. Collect your content and relevant data

Using the audience you’ve chosen above, your next step is to organize all the content and data you’ll use in the infographic. You can either collect third-party data or use your own original data. If you use third-party data, just be sure you properly cite your sources — just like in any other good piece of content.

Organizing Your Data

When collecting your data, make sure you know what story you want to tell through this information. Data for the sake of data won’t add value to your infographic at all.

Compelling data needs to be “comprehensive” enough to give your readers proper context around the data you’re presenting. For example, a spike in website traffic from one month to the next doesn’t mean much — until, say, you reveal that traffic was on a steady decline over the previous three months. Suddenly you have a story of how you were able to reverse a downward trend.

Citing Your Sources

To keep your infographic uncluttered by a ton of different source URLs, a great way to cite your sources is to include a simple URL at the bottom of your infographic that links to a page on your site. You can also list the individual stats used in your infographic, and their sources — such as the landing page to the full offer on which you’re basing this free infographic. I’ll show you what this citation looks like in a minute.

That way, your infographic looks clean and professional, yet people will still be able to access the sources no matter where the infographic gets shared or embedded. It may also even drive visitors back to your site.

3. Choose your desired infographic template.

Your next step is to choose an infographic template appropriate for representing that data. The important thing is to choose a template that specifically works for the type of data set/content you want to present. As you saw pictured above, you can download our 15 infographic templates in PowerPoint and choose whichever template you’d like.

Some of your template options in the offer linked above include a timeline, flowchart, side-by-side comparison, and a data-driven infographic. Here are some basic ideas for choosing an infographic template that suits the story you want your data to tell:

  • Side-by-side comparison infographic: This infographic design can help prove the advantage of one concept over another, or simply explain the differences between two competing entities.
  • Flowchart infographic: This design is perfect for presenting a new workflow for your organization, or how a linear or cyclical process works across your industry.
  • Timeline infographic: This design can tell a chronological story, or history, of a business, industry, product, or concept.
  • Graph-based infographic: This design is suitable for content creators publishing a high volume of data and statistical information, making it a good fit for expert-level audiences, too.
  • Image-heavy infographic: This design caters to content creators who are trying to reveal trends and information from shapes, designs, or photography — rather than just numbers and figures.

4. Download your template to PowerPoint.

For the sake of time (remember, our mission is to create an infographic in under an hour), I’m going to create an infographic based on a compilation of steps and best practices we’ve put together in our new guide, How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign in 2018. For this, I’ve picked the “World’s Greatest Timeline” infographic template from our collection of infographic templates, which is helpful for my data set since it outlines each step of the campaign creation process in order.

The timeline infographic template is pictured below, and full of opportunities to make it your own:

5. Customize your infographic

Obviously, this is the most time-consuming part — but it’s also the most fun. Simply come up with a catchy title, plug in your data/content, and adjust your font sizes and formatting. Feel free to switch up the graphics and colors, too, so they’re relevant to your brand and the data you’re providing. For other templates, you can use the simple graphs and charts provided by PowerPoint to create things like the bar graph or the pie chart. (Note: Download our free infographic templates for a cheat sheet for using PowerPoint’s various features and tools.)

To customize the look of the infographic even more, you might add or change up the colors or font styles.

6. Include a footer with your sources and logo.

Finally, I included a link to my source (which can be found here), as well as the HubSpot logo so people know who created the infographic if it gets shared in social media or embedded on other websites — which is definitely something you want, since one of the main benefits of creating infographics is their shareability.

That’s it! This whole thing took me under an hour to put together — much shorter than it would’ve taken me if I’d started from scratch (not to mention more professional looking … and less expensive than hiring a designer). Here it is:



free timeline infographic template customized

Share This Image On Your Site

<p><strong>Please include attribution to blog.hubspot.com with this graphic.</strong><br /><br /><a href=’https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/create-infographics-with-free-powerpoint-templates’><img src=’https://blog.hubspot.com/hs-fs/hubfs/free_infographic_template_custom-1.png?t=1519094621186&width=1138&height=3412&name=free_infographic_template_custom-1.png’ alt=’free_infographic_template_custom-1′ width=’660px’ border=’0′ /></a></p>

7. Add embed code and a Pinterest button, and publish it.

The only thing left to do is to publish and promote your awesome new infographic. As I mentioned earlier, we recommend using your blog to publish it (including your list of sources), including a Pinterest button for visitors to easily “pin” your infographic on Pinterest, and create and add an embed code for visitors to share it on their own websites and blogs, as we did above.

Want more? Read How to Create Top-Notch Visual Content in PowerPoint [Tutorial].

download 15 free infographic templates

What the AI-Delivered Buyer’s Journey Will Look Like in 2030

It’s a new year, and you know what that means: new annual predictions. ‘Tis the season for companies to publish their thoughts and plans for 2019, including us. And we’re betting on big changes, like the growing importance of the customer experience and artificial intelligence (AI).

Our forecasting is based on research and deep knowledge of industry trends. But technology is always evolving—sometimes by leaps, but often by tweaks—so it can be difficult to notice incremental changes. That’s why we find it helpful to glance back over our shoulders to see just how far we’ve come.

Take the iPhone, for example. A decade ago, the smartphone was a year and a half old and only beginning to infiltrate schools, offices, and dinner tables. Now, the technology is ubiquitous. It’s hard to imagine life before—or without—smartphones. In 10 short years, Apple has had a tremendous impact on society.

We believe that AI has the potential to create a paradigm shift at the same level. So instead of looking to the past, let’s fast-forward a decade into the future and consider how AI could transform the buyer’s journey by 2030.

Search and Discovery

Picture Jane, a buyer. In 2019, Jane’s interaction with AI may be limited to chatbots that answer basic questions. At home, she might use digital assistants that learn from her preferences and offer personalized recommendations.

By 2030, AI’s power to collect and analyze large quantities of data will drive ever-improving customer experiences. Companies will be able to create a comprehensive picture of Jane based on her browsing preferences and past purchasing behavior. Her smart assistant will learn from her habits, then base its interactions and buying suggestions on those patterns.

AI will also completely change how marketers interact with customers. When Jane goes online to search for products, she’ll engage with a fully cognitive website. Every aspect of her search will be tailor-made just for her. It will be assembled from hundreds of pieces of microcontent and built-in real-time based on what resonates with her.

In the next decade, AI will make product search and discovery more frictionless—and Jane will feel heard and understood. Companies, by extension, will need to do less work to convert that feeling into a transaction opportunity.

Research and Review

While the early days of AI brought advancements like machine-powered image recognition and responsive retail, by 2030, we’ll have moved into the era of predictive commerce.

With more customer data available than ever before, AI will be able to evaluate trends and behavior patterns for every stage of the buying journey. Companies will have a much fuller grasp on what occurs during the research and consideration phase and will be able to create smarter funnels that lead to greater conversion. Every action Jane takes—from what she purchases to what she doesn’t purchase—will add to a growing knowledge base about her and audiences like her.

In 2019, we see first-name personalization in emails. By 2030, we’ll also be using information like what platforms Jane uses, the depth of her brand relationship, her location, and her social identity to facilitate AI-guided decision making.

From Jane’s perspective, these advancements will help her research and pick the most relevant products for her needs. Things like product recommendations and personalized offers delivered through email or new modes of communication will entice Jane without overwhelming her, as AI will make irrelevant sales pitches and marketing messages a thing of the past.

Marketers will also use AI to integrate insights from across all their tools. CRM data will combine with marketing automation and customer service information to create one extensive dataset. By breaking down silos, AI can unlock the true power of these tools and create a more comprehensive picture of customers like Jane.

This will give marketers a deep understanding of preferences and intent, allowing every contact with her to feel like it’s one-on-one. And with a granular understanding of the products available based on her location, AI will continue to create increasingly better recommendations for Jane. It could even actually predict what she might need next—and where she can find it.

Predictive Purchasing

In 2030, buying products will be faster, more customized, and even predictive.

Retailers will help Jane find products in her precise moment of need. In fact, AI may offer targeted products before Jane even recognizes the need herself. If she’s shopping online for party supplies, like balloons and paper plates, a retailer might anticipate that she’ll also need gift wrap. AI will do the hard work for her by instantaneously sorting through the data, like current price trends and local inventory, and offer her a selection of wrapping paper that she can bundle into her current purchase.

This degree of forecasting relies on identifying patterns within massive datasets that are always changing. AI will help marketers match Jane’s purchasing history and product preferences to local product location, pricing, and inventory for a seamless, intelligent shopping experience.

According to the Baymard Institute, nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned. How many of those will become completed purchases when AI transforms “I’m just browsing” into “You knew just what I needed”?

Service and Support

No two buyers—and no two buyer journeys—are exactly alike. Just as AI will provide the tools to create intelligent websites and marketing campaigns, the evolution of AI-powered customer service platforms will ensure completely personalized, always-on customer care.

Currently, it can be difficult to evaluate how well customer support is functioning. Complex and disparate chains of logistics, like call centers, repair shops, and customer service departments, mean that cohesive information may be lacking. But in the next decade, AI will use data to standardize, measure, and optimize processes, ensuring buyers always receive top-notch service.

For Jane, this is great news. Holidays, time zones, and language barriers will no longer impede service. If Jane is assembling a piece of furniture and needs help at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday, AI will make assistance available through advanced chatbots that can resolve complaints and answer questions 24/7.

And when the on-demand and predictive elements of AI meet, Jane will be alerted to products of hers that need upcoming support. She won’t have to remember when her car needs service, because AI will—and it will offer to book the appointment for her, too.

2030 is Right Around the Corner

Eleven years will pass in a flash. In fact, we’re already seeing some of these AI capabilities in marketing today. As the power of machines continues to expand exponentially—and the price of these tools continues to decline—AI, automation, and machine learning will completely change the face of marketing by 2030.

We owe it to ourselves to start thinking about what this future will look like now so we can play our own role in reshaping the marketing industry with AI by our side.

The post What the AI-Delivered Buyer’s Journey Will Look Like in 2030 appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

.net vs .com: The Difference Between Domain Extensions 2019

When creating a website, users are required to pick a domain name accompanied by a domain extension. There are two main types of extensions that compete in the business realm: .net vs. .com. A .com extension is traditionally used by commercial businesses while a .net website extension generally denotes a network, email, or Internet service…

The post .net vs .com: The Difference Between Domain Extensions 2019 appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Does SMS marketing still work in today’s modern world?

SMS has been around for more than 25 years and because of its versatility, it is a core part of business marketing and sales plans. But after all that time, does SMS still stand up in today’s modern world?

Back in the 90s, SMS was a brand-new technology, allowing people to communicate through their mobile phones without ever uttering a word. As technology has rapidly advanced in those 25 years, is this somewhat old technology still a favourite for businesses?

We already know that consumers want to receive SMS from businesses and with it boasting a 98% open rate, 90% of these messages are being read within 3 minutes, plus it boasts a huge response rate of 45%, you would be right in thinking SMS marketing works.

So, do these stats alone show that SMS marketing works?

No!

We know, not the answer you were expecting, but bear with us.

Those stats show that sending customers a text message will mean your message will be read and if you need customers to reply then almost half of them will, but what it does not show is the other side, the business side. Do businesses get what they want from it?

This time it’s a yes.

We know it works as we have lots of great customer stories about how SMS has helped these companies get more website visits, reviews, and sales.

Now with both those amazing stats and great customer stories, does this prove that SMS works today?

Yes . . . But also no.

Yes, those customer stories, and many more like them, prove that SMS marketing works. But imagine if SMS was a product, those customer stories would act as amazing 5-star reviews. So we wanted to put SMS marketing to the test and really find out if all businesses give SMS a glowing 5-star review. To do this we put a short questionnaire on our website asking businesses if they were using SMS marketing, if it worked for them, and why it worked. This way we can once and for all give SMS marketing a star rating.

Now with those stats, customer stories, and our own survey this surely means we can answer the question, does SMS marketing still work?

Yes, it does!

And without further ado, here are the results from our SMS marketing survey.

Does SMS marketing work?

We are very happy to announce that a whopping 97% of all businesses that use SMS marketing, said it works.

We love the fact that 97% of businesses found success with SMS, and what was even better, this wasn’t just from a handful of businesses, the answers ranged from multiple different sectors, proving SMS works for everyone.

97% say SMS marketing works

Who uses SMS marketing?

We can’t think of a single business that wouldn’t benefit from using SMS, either for external communication, sales, updates, surveys, or using it internally with their employees or contractors.

A large majority of those who said they use SMS marketing were in the Retail sector (14.6%) with Healthcare (12.2%) and Marketing (9.8%) closely behind. We had a split of over 15 different sectors that use SMS marketing.

Sectors using SMS marketing graph

What is surprising however is that we had many businesses saying they had never used SMS marketing before, 67% in fact. This means that only 33% of businesses use SMS marketing.

It is a real shame that there are still some businesses who haven’t experienced the power of SMS yet, we already know that of those companies that have integrated SMS marketing into their plans, 97% said it works.

Sectors using SMS marketing split

Why does SMS marketing work?

We weren’t satisfied with just knowing that SMS marketing works for 97% of all businesses, we wanted to find out why it worked. At the end of our survey, we included an open-ended question, to give the respondents a way to express why it worked so well for them.

We had some great responses from being able to keep customers informed, SMS being more customer-centric, easy way to communicate, and our favourite answer by far, “98% open rate” – this person has clearly been reading our blogs.

“It informs my followers of upcoming exhibitions”

“Keeps customers informed”

“People do not have time to communicate through phone calls”

“People can instantly check the SMS, compared to email and other communications”

“Gets the job done”

“Everyone who receives the message reads it and it doesn’t get deleted. Nowadays people are always on their phones so when the message comes through, they see it”

“More customer centric, customer specific & has one of the largest social media reaches”

“Enables patients to turn up for their appointment”

“Easy way to communicate and gives consumers flexibility to reply if they want to or not”

“Quick response to surveys”

 

So even with all the amazing technology we have at our fingertips, SMS still stands up to all of that and works wonders for so many businesses.

If you are new to SMS and want to see how easy and amazing it is, sign up to a completely free trial and use our online messaging platform to try it for yourselves.

 

We would like to thank everyone who took time out to answer our survey.

Loylogic wins “Best Innovation in Loyalty” award at the 12th Customer Fest Awards 2019 in conjunction with partner JetPrivilege

Zurich, Switzerland | 6th February 2019

Loylogic, the global leader in e-commerce and e-payment solutions for loyalty programs has been awarded with “the best innovation in loyalty” award for “best use of promotions in a loyalty program” category together with their partner JetPrivilege, the frequent flyer program of Jet Airways.

As part of the 12th edition of The Customer FEST Show 2019 conducted by KAMIKAZE B2B MEDIA, the award has been handed over during the official award ceremony at Taj Land’s End on 5th February 2019 in Mumbai, India. Loylogic was shortlisted from a pool of multiple known names across the loyalty industry and finally declared as the winner after thorough deliberation and several jury rounds. The award recognizes Loylogic’s work and determination to provide unmatched solutions, services and success to its partners. Together with Jet-Privilege, Loylogic’s innovative REX solution and promotion strategy have made the frequent flyer program reach new heights in member engagement.

Commenting on this happy occasion, Dominic Hofer, Founder & CEO of Loylogic said, “We are very excited and proud to be awarded this prestigious “Best Innovation in Loyalty” award along with our long-term partner JetPrivilege. At Loylogic, we constantly innovate and work very hard for our partners’ success. Differentiating our partners in a competitive environment, helping programs to smartly reduce redemption cost and finding new ways for generating more points or miles sales to partners is what drives our team. There is no better recognition for our company and no stronger testament to the character of our team than winning another innovation award.  We look forward to creating more success stories together with JetPrivilege and our other partners around the world.”

About Loylogic

Loylogic is the world’s leading innovator and creator of points experiences, insights, commerce and engagement. By tantalizing members with more choices and arming programs with insights on behavior – anticipating both present and future needs – we deliver powerful solutions that amplify engagement and build loyalty. Founded in 2005 with offices around the world and a global content network of more than 500 merchants and 2,000 online stores offering millions of products and services, Loylogic, the new paradigm of points-based e-commerce and e-payment solutions, is the partner that the world’s leading loyalty programs trust with making their points and miles loved most.

Press contact: Richa Bakshi | richa.bakshi@loylogic.com

The post Loylogic wins “Best Innovation in Loyalty” award at the 12th Customer Fest Awards 2019 in conjunction with partner JetPrivilege appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

Everything You Need to Know to Start a Retail Business

I worked in three different retail stores while growing up. The most memorable experience I had was working at a clothing store on Cape Cod when I was 18. The store had been recently renovated and looked beautiful — the desk with the cash register was designed to look like it was built from parts of a large fishing boat and the nautical theme continued to the inventory, floors, and gift boxes.

The store manager was also incredible — she was meticulous, caring, a natural problem solver, highly organized, and knew our products inside and out. She trained all employees to ensure we were prepared to assist any customer who entered the store in a way that was helpful and on-brand. My experience working at this store was a prime example of everything a retail business should be.

From your store’s appearance to inventory to the manager you hire, there are a multitude of factors that impact the creation of a prosperous retail business Follow along and we’ll cover the steps you should take to start your retail business, the resources and tools you’ll need to manage your store, and how to find the right employees to work in your store. 

But first, a critical question.

Now that you understand what type of store falls under the definition of a retail business, you might be wondering how to actually go about starting one. Let’s review 11 steps that are critical when beginning your retail business.

Each of these 11 steps should be thoughtfully considered and completed when building your retail business as some are actually federal and state legal obligations. Also, these steps aren’t listed in any specific order so feel free to jump around and work through them in any way that makes sense to you.

1. Create a Business Plan

One of the first things anyone looking to start a business should do is create a business plan. This is the document that details all aspects of your company including what you’ll sell, how your business will be structured, who your target audience is, and your financial information. 

Creating a business plan is crucial because it provides you (and your partners) with a comprehensive overview of your business at once making it easy for you to determine what will or will not work and what needs to be modified. Your business plan should be concise, yet informative and detailed. It’s also important to remember this is a living document, meaning you can always make changes as you start to implement different aspects of your plan.

Discover how to create a business plan to help you kickstart your company.

2. Choose Your Legal Structure

Disclaimer: This post is not legal advice for your company to use when choosing your legal structure or building your retail business. Instead, it provides background information to help you better understand these processes. This legal information is not the same as legal advice, where an attorney applies the law to your specific circumstances, so we insist that you consult an attorney if you’d like advice on your interpretation of this information or its accuracy. In a nutshell, you may not rely on any of this piece as legal advice, or as a recommendation of any particular legal understanding. 

When starting a retail business, you’ll have to choose a legal structure. Legal structures are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and determine which income tax forms you have to complete and submit for your business. Here are five common business legal structures for your consideration:

Learn how to choose the right legal structure for your new business.

3. Name Your Business

Your business’ name should be catchy, easy to say and repeat, unique, and convey meaning. This way you know it’ll resonate with your customers and be memorable.

You should also search the web to ensure it hasn’t been used. To double check your name hasn’t already been taken, you can search for a trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database. If you are beginning a C Corp or an LLC, you’ll need to visit your Secretary of State’s website to ensure your business entity’s name hasn’t already been used. (Here’s what the Massachusetts Secretary of State website looks like for reference.)

4. File for an Employer Identification Number

You’re most likely going to need to file for something called an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, when you start your business. This is an identifier almost every business in the US and US territories — provided by the IRS — must obtain. Your EIN is what your business will use to report income tax activity.

You can check with your state to make sure you need an EIN as well as review the IRS EIN checklist to make sure you qualify. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to apply for your employer identification number.

5. Understand Other Retail Business Laws

One final legal step for you to complete to set up your business — understand all other retail business laws at both the state and federal levels. We’ve covered a lot of the tax information you’ll need to be aware of, how to legally name and trademark your business, and how to file for an EIN. But you’ll also want to make sure you have all other legal matters taken care of before opening up your retail business. 

Every state’s government website should have a section that reads something like “starting a business”, similar to this one from the Massachusetts government site. Here, you’ll be able to work through a checklist of items to make sure everything you’re doing is legal. You’ll also be able to acquire any other necessary retail business papers and permits. In terms of government laws related to your business you should have a general understanding of tax, employment, and labor, antitrust, advertising, environmental, and licensing laws among other retail laws

Our recommendation to you is hire a lawyer or consultant to help you throughout this process — or at least get you started. The last thing you want to do is go through the effort or starting your retail business and then find yourself in legal trouble. A lawyer or consultant can ensure you consider and understand all retail business laws and requirements. 

Now, it’s time to get out of the legal mindset and move onto some more creative aspects of your retail business.

6. Pick a Location and Make Your Store Attractive

Your store’s location and appearance matter. This is how you’re going to make sure you have the foot traffic and visibility you need to kickstart and maintain a high volume of customers. It’s also how you’ll attract customers and make them want to enter your store.

Retail Store Location

If you decide to go with commercial space for your retail business — which is a building intended for stores or companies to conduct business and make a profit — make sure your location is a good one by chatting with other businesses next door and nearby. You can even conduct an informal foot traffic study by hanging out in the area to observe the number of people who shop there as well as the type of clientele to determine whether or not it resembles that of your buyer personas.

When looking at commercial spaces, you should also think about whether or not you want to rent/ lease the space and work with a landlord or buy the space so you have full control. 

Learn how to create buyer personas for your business to enhance your marketing strategy.  

You might decide to conduct your retail business out your of your home rather than a commercial space. While this will save you a lot of money because you won’t be putting any towards a separate building or retail space, it might feel slightly less professional to your customers. It may also be harder to bring in foot traffic depending on the location of your home. 

No matter what type of retail location you choose, be sure to look into your city’s zoning and planning details. These are typically provided by every town’s zoning commission and tell you whether or not changes to the area, such as construction or traffic, will create any problems or limitations for your store.

Retail Store Appearance

From the way your inventory is presented to your choice in cashier counter to your window displays, everything your customers see and experience should feel and look professional, clean, and beautiful. This way customers want to enter your store and feel excited to do business with you. 

You can make your store look great and feel inviting by using visual merchandising techniques to help you design it in a way that’s well-organized, well-lit, and on-brand. You can also hire a consultant to come in and help you lay out your store in a way that’s visually appealing.

7. Find Your Inventory

Finding the right inventory to sell is crucial. You need to give your customers a reason to come to your store by providing them with unique items they’d have a hard time finding anywhere else — especially since online shopping is so common today due to its convenience. To help get you started, you can search for one of a kind items and unique pieces at fairs, trade shows, and festivals

Here are a couple more things to think about when trying to determine how you’ll source your business’ inventory:

Current Trends

Keep up with current trends within your retail niche (clothing, jewelry, accessories, etc.) to determine the type of inventory you should sell. With the help of social media, retail blogs, and magazines, and by simply learning about what’s doing well in other retail stores similar to yours, you’ll be able to determine the ideal inventory for your brand and buyer personas. These resources will ensure there’s a base of customers looking for the type of inventory you’re going to be selling.

Supplier

Consider the type of supplier you want to get your inventory from — this might be through a manufacturer, individual maker, or wholesale.

  • Manufacturer
  • Individual Maker
  • Wholesale

Working with a manufacturer gives you a lot of flexibility because they help you create products that don’t already exist. Although you can determine the design, quality, and look of the product you crate, this also means working with a manufacturer can become expensive and time-consuming. 

Individual makers are people who create unique pieces of inventory themselves. An example of this would be someone in town who makes knit scarves and hats and sells them to you to then sell in your store. This is a great way to ensure your store has one of a kind pieces. It also means you’ll have to take the time to find talented makers who create quality items that are on-brand and would appeal to your buyer personas. 

Using wholesalers is a great option if you want to sell products in your store that are already being sold by other stores and online retailers. You’ll receive wholesale items directly from the company that makes them for a lower price but you’ll have less say when it comes to your selling margins, as the wholesaler will have control over them.

8. Create Store Policies and Procedures

Creating store policies and procedures for your customers and employees is critical if you want to maintain a sense of order within your retail business. Policies and procedures between your business and customers may include things like your return and exchange policies or whether not you want to allow pets in your store. Policies and procedures between your business and employees may include things like dress code and scheduling expectations.

By creating these store policies and procedures you avoid making customers and employees feel confused about the way something works within your business or at your store. This also helps you set standards for the way you want people to interact with your business on a regular basis.

9. Develop a Customer Service Plan

When starting your retail business, you’ll want to think about how you’re going to develop a customer service plan. Customer service is how you help your customers solve problems, teach them how to use your products, and answer their questions. Your customer service plan details the ways you’re going to do this. Customer service work is proactive. Meaning the point of developing a customer service plan and related policies is to solve for your customer’s problem prior to them even realizing they have an issue.

Let’s cover a few ways you can implement a customer service plan for your retail business through customer-friendly policies, employee training, and customer-loyalty programs.

Customer-Friendly Policies

By creating customer-friendly policies, you’ll make shopping at your retail store simple and stress-free for your customers. For example, you can can create return policies that allow your customers to bring an item back for a full refund with or without a receipt.

Other policies that prevent pain points and enhance customer service include a 100% satisfaction guarantee or complimentary hemming when you buy a piece of clothing in store.

Employee Training

You should train your employees about how to handle different situations with your customers such as exchanges, complaints, and refunds. Training will provide your employees with the exact steps they should take to ensure a professional interaction with your customers that resolves the issue at hand.

Your customer service training should also cover how you expect your employees to deal with larger customer issues and disputes. Provide them with a way to escalate an issue to you — or your store manager — when they’re unable to reach a resolution that satisfies your customer on their own.

Customer Loyalty Program

By proactively providing an incentive for people to return to your store with a customer loyalty program, you’ll likely increase your sales and number of promoters (the people who tell their network about your business). You also enhance their experience doing business with your business as well because you’ll be providing them with discount codes, details about sales, information about your latest products, and any other exciting event or piece of news you have to share.

10. Recruit a Team of Employees

It’d be difficult to grow your retail business without bringing on some team members. You may start as your sole employee, but as your business flourishes you’ll likely need some assistance. You can determine the most important qualities you’re going to look for in candidates, whether they’re related to personality, prior retail experience, or culture-fit. Then you can select and tailor specific retail interview questions to help you narrow down your pool of candidates. (We’ll cover more details about which skills you should look for in your candidates shortly.)

11. Host a Grand Opening

You might choose to have a grand opening for your retail store. This marks the date in which you are officially open for business. Grand openings may include celebratory beverages, food, and sale items to excite your new customers.

Prior to your grand opening, you might also have a soft launch, or soft opening, for your business. Soft launches are when you, the business owner, invite a group of guests to your store to essentially test everything out. These events are a great way to make sure everything works perfectly before your grand opening — meaning this is your last chance to ensure your customers love your inventory, your store is appealing to your guests, and your everything in your store, such as your POS system, functions perfectly. 

You’ve officially worked through all 11 steps required to build your own retail business — congrats! Now, you’ll need to create your retail marketing strategy.

Every retail business should have a retail marketing strategy — this will serve as the marketing plan you’ll use to promote your business. It’ll be the way you get the word out about your business and help you build your base of customers and promoters. Here are six steps to work through when creating your retail marketing strategy.

1. Define your positioning.

Defining your positioning is a critical part of your marketing strategy. That’s because your positioning is what makes your retail business stand out and differ from your competitors. Think about what it is that makes your business unique and use those details to define your positioning. This might be where or how you source your inventory, how you display all of the items in your store, or your impeccable end to end customer service experience.

2. Define your audience.

Once you define your positioning, you should be able to get a better idea of the audience you’re going after. Think about what type of consumer would appreciate your positioning, the products you sell, and how you sell them. By clearly defining your audience, you’ll be able to create buyer personas to help you develop a steady customer base and understand their wants and needs. 

Learn how to create buyer personas for your business with easy to use templates.

3. Create your mission statement.

Your mission statement is another critical part of both your retail marketing strategy and your business as a whole. It’s a formally written statement explaining your business’ goals and values — it essentially explains the reason why your business exists, the purpose it serves its audience, and how it differs from competitors. Your mission statement is what you and your employees can turn to when you need guidance or inspiration, and it’s what your customers can turn to when they want to learn about who you really are as a business and brand. And if you need some help envisioning what yours should say, you can always review mission statement examples from other companies. 

Naturally, as your company evolves and grows, the details of your mission statement may also shift. That’s alright because your mission statement is a living document, meaning it can (and should) be updated over time as you see fit.

4. Decide on your branding.

Your retail business’ branding should feel like a combination of your audience and mission statement. Meaning you should think about what type of branding your chosen audience will respond well to and how it’ll help you represent and depict your company’s goals and values. 

You should study the branding of your competitors to ensure yours stands out and looks unique to your customers. Lastly, make sure your branding is memorable — you want someone to look at any piece of your marketing and know it’s yours.

5. Think about your content marketing strategy.

A great retail marketing strategy includes a content marketing plan. This consists of media you create for your retail business such as written and visual content. A comprehensive content marketing strategy will help you establish a strong online presence and promote your business

For example, a common way to establish an online presence through content marketing is via social media. Social media marketing allows you to promote your business through various platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Once you determine the different aspects of your content marketing strategy, you’ll want to ensure you plan and schedule all of that great content you’ve just created.

Content marketing schedule

Once you have developed your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to make sure the actual content you’ve created is posted, distributed, and shared when you want it to be. Create a content marketing schedule that you and your team can work from to ensure all content is shared as planned.

There are a number of different content marketing scheduling software options, such as CoSchedule, to help you do this. Depending on your business’ needs, you may also choose to use a much broader marketing automation software such as HubSpot, or a more specific social media automation software such as Hootsuite. These software options speed up the scheduling process, ensure your content is shared on time and as planned, and allow you to dedicate employees to certain content.

6. Decide on your budget.

You’ll need to set a marketing strategy budget to work within when developing all of these different pieces to your plan. Think about how much money you want to put towards each of these steps so everyone on your team is aware of the parameters they’ll need to work within. 

When determining your budget, you might find that you’re a bit limited to the amount you can put towards each of these retail marketing strategy steps simply because you’re a new business with fewer resources. That’s alright and totally expected — just remember to expand your budget when necessary as your business grows. 

To help get you started, you can consider the following recommendation regarding marketing strategy budgets by the US Small Business Administration: If you’re doing less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit range is 10-12%, spend 7-8% of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising

Now that you’ve worked through the steps to building your retail business from the ground up and have a better understanding about how you can approach the creation of your retail marketing plan, let’s discuss some of the resources and software you’ll need to run your retail business.

Resources and Software Every Retail Business Needs

The following six resources and software are tools often used by retail businesses. As you start planning your business, you may think of more tools you’ll need depending on the retail business you’re opening. The following list will get you started most likely need to be modified for your store needs.

1. POS System

One of the most important tools you’ll need to run your retail business is a point of sales system or POS. 

A point of sales system is a software that allows you to conduct customer checkouts and accept multiple forms of payment such as cash, credit cards, and mobile payments. The software also prints receipts, scans inventory barcodes, and stores cash. There are a number of retail-focused point of sales systems to choose from to help you manage all of your customer transactions which we’ll discuss shortly. Without a POS system, it would be exceptionally time-consuming and difficult to keep track of all of your sales and payments.

Here are some POS systems for retail businesses to help kickstart your search for the perfect one for your business: 

You may also want an inventory management software for your retail business. This will keep track of all information about your inventory to understand which items you need to replenish and how often you need to do so. These days, many POS systems, including the five we just listed, have inventory management systems built into them so you may not need to worry about finding another software.

2. Stock Keeping Units

Typically, retail businesses will have some type of stock keeping unit, or SKU, system to keep track of every single piece of inventory they have. A SKU — which is typically located alongside an item’s barcode — is a combination of numbers and letters used to identify and organize each piece of your inventory by characteristics such as size, color, and brand. 

Source

Instead of having to come up with your own SKU, POS systems with included inventory management capabilities also have SKU creation features.

4. Retail Blogs

Every business owner needs inspiration every now and then. Retail blogs are a great way for you to keep up with the latest retail trends and learn about what is and isn’t working well for other similar businesses. Retail blogs, such as The Retail Doctor and Medallion Retail, are focused on topics including growth, industry trends, new software, and in-store business vs. online business.

6. Employee Scheduling Software

As your retail business grows, you’ll most likely find yourself adding members to your team. Managing any number employees — and their schedules — is simple with an employee scheduling software, such as Ximble or TSheets, which allows you to organize and update your business schedule so your employees know exactly when to show up for work. 

Now that you have a better understanding about the resources and tools you’ll need to start your retail business, let’s talk about how you’re going to find the right employees to work in your store.

What to Look For In a Retail Employee Candidate

Who are the people that are going to help you grow your business? What traits should your employees possess to ensure they’ll be impactful additions to your store? Let’s cover some of these important characteristics to help you identify candidates who will be quality employees.

Communication Skills

Retail employees need to be great communicators — they’re interacting with your customers every day. They must be able to communicate details about your inventory to help them find the items they’re looking for. If someone calls your business with a question or issue, they’ll need to communicate their answer or provide a solution. Lastly, your employees need to be able to communicate with you about things such as their schedule and how their experiences with your customers are going.

Positive Personality

Whether your employees are chatting with your customers in person or online, about a topic that’s good or bad, your employees need to maintain a positive attitude. They act as the face of your brand and you want them to represent your business well. So, hiring people with a positive, can-do attitude that’s ready to tackle any situation that may arise — even if it’s a complex and involves an unhappy customer — is important.

Patience

You’re bound to have an unsatisfied customer at one point in time. Your employees must be patient as they listen to the issue in which the customer describes. They also need to be patient while working with that customer to find a solution. Otherwise, it’d be difficult for your employees to turn your customer’s negative experience around.

Empathy

Empathy is feeling and understanding another’s emotions. Whether a customer is in a rush, has to purchase a sympathy gift, or is unhappy with an item of yours, your employees must be empathetic. This is how they’ll find a solution that fits the needs of the given customer. Empathy is what will help turn a customer’s negative experience into a positive one so they’ll continue doing business with you in the future.

Dependability

Whether you have one employee or 10, they need to be dependable. You depend on your employees to represent your business, work hard to delight your customers, be professional and kind, and simply show up to work (on time, of course) when scheduled.

Prior Retail Experience

Requiring your employees to have prior retail experience is up to your discretion. You may choose to focus on personality traits and culture fit instead of work history. However, if you do want employees with prior experience, you could look for candidates who have worked in other stores before or even have an education in fashion, design, or communications.

Start Selling

Starting a retail business is hard work. But, by following the steps we discussed, you can make it happen. Remember there are a lot of moving parts that come with starting a retail business that may change, such as your business plan and mission statement, as you begin putting your ideas into action. Start by obtaining the right resources and tools and hiring the right people to help you start growing your retail business.

4 Ways Internal Brand Awareness Pays Big Dividends for Marketing

Do your front-line employees, like customer service representatives and salespeople, know how to communicate your brand story?

Most marketers laugh when they hear this question because they don’t have a high degree of confidence. In fact, according to my company’s research, 66% of marketing executives believe their brand message is lost by the time it reaches the front lines.

A company’s marketing investment is designed to drive demand, but demand isn’t valuable unless it converts to sales at a high rate. This investment is far more effective and efficient when it improves conversion rates, but Econsultancy reports that only 22% of companies are happy with their conversion rates. There’s obviously a problem somewhere along the way.

When companies don’t prioritize internal brand awareness, their marketing and advertising make promises to customers that their front-line employees don’t deliver upon. When a business falls short of customer expectations, its conversion rate tends to dip. This disconnect also leads to poor brand perception, lower customer satisfaction, and other challenges.

Meanwhile, brands that present a consistent message are nearly four times more likely to experience brand visibility later, according to Lucidpress. Considering the costs of the disconnect, how consistent is your messaging?

The Last Item on the To-Do List

I’ve been working with one company that is in the process of pushing a new brand story out into the marketplace. The company recently acquired several smaller brands, and it’s now working to educate its customers—and the broader public—about its new name and identity.

The company’s marketing team has been getting this new message out through advertising and digital marketing, but internal branding has fallen to the bottom of its to-do list. The result, according to the head of marketing, is customers who “don’t know what the company is.” The company is at risk of losing longtime customers if it doesn’t connect the dots between the new identity and the brand’s customers had grown to trust for years (and even decades, in some cases).

There are plenty of seemingly valid reasons marketing teams fail to focus on internal branding. To start, they might think someone is already doing it—especially if the company has a training department or internal communications team. But these teams don’t always invest the time necessary to understand the brand positioning, which unfortunately means they cannot clearly communicate it.

In other cases, teams might not see the importance of internal branding because they already produce “sales support materials.” The marketing teams compile product details, believing that sales and customer service can take a one-sheeter and turn it into a productive conversation. The information, however, is tailored to external customers rather than internal audiences.

Lastly, marketers are hesitant to put their limited budgets toward internal marketing efforts. They have been conditioned to throw gobs of money at external marketing to drive demand, even if conversions are low. Internal brand awareness is a different path to the desired result—more customers—but most marketers don’t realize the potential of this approach.

The Power of Preaching to the Choir

Considering everything standing in their way, it’s no wonder, so few companies ever think about marketing to their own teams.

Here are four reasons to bump internal brand awareness up from the bottom of your to-do list:

1) It Fosters Consistency

Every marketer seeks consistency with her company’s story. If customers do not hear the same narrative every time they learn about your business, it can lead to confusion and doubt. Doubt leads customers to your competitors.
Southwest Airlines, for example, doesn’t have a brand story; it has a brand attitude. The airline’s team members—from flight attendants to ticket agents—are pleasant and genuine in trying to help customers, and they generally make it easy to do business with Southwest. That’s because the company has made customer service a significant part of its brand. What you hear is what you experience.

2) It Creates Conversions

Consistency is a building block to conversions, which should be the most important metric for every marketing department. Impressions and likes are great, but customers cast their most important votes with their wallets. Unfortunately, marketing departments don’t spend accordingly: Econsultancy reports that companies spend about $92 on customer acquisition for every $1 they spend on conversions.
Front-line teams will win more customers if their brand story is sound and their message is consistent. I once worked with a client that worked in-home services and repairs business. After this company invested the time necessary to outline a consistent process for its call center team that was designed around its brand and desired customer experience, its conversions jumped by nearly 10%.

3) It Encourages Cross-team Cooperation

My team conducted a study of marketing executives, and the respondents rated marketing alignment with front-line teams as the premier opportunity for improving marketing ROI. Better internal alignment leads to superior execution and efficiency, which benefits every department.
The more marketers invest in helping these partners tell the same brand story, the more these groups will be willing to collaborate. This collaboration can lead to tangible results, with a study by MarketingProfs indicating that sales and marketing teams can generate 208% more revenue by working together.

4) It Gives You Better Insights

A focus on internal brand awareness helps marketing teams concentrate on what is happening in the trenches. How are customers responding to your message? What ideas do front-line employees have for improving customer conversations?
Feedback fuels successful companies, and this is particularly true in marketing. In one instance, we saw a call center representative share an idea about a valuable use case for a product. Not only did the company’s marketing department approve of its use in the brand story, but the company also incorporated the example into external marketing campaigns. No one knows your customers better than the people who are talking to them on a daily basis.

Internal brand awareness drives conversions, which fuel revenue growth. If the people who represent a brand can tell a compelling story of their company’s strengths, they will win over more customers. When front-line employees have confidence and conviction in the products or services of their brands, it has a direct effect on customer buying decisions. Don’t let that potential fall by the wayside because internal brand awareness isn’t a priority.

The post 4 Ways Internal Brand Awareness Pays Big Dividends for Marketing appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

33 Innovative Salon Marketing Ideas to Build Your Clientele

Salons are everywhere, and if you’re planning to get into the beauty business, it’s important to understand how you can market yourself to attract clients. To help you out, we spoke with industry professionals to get their advice so you can maximize your marketing and client base. Here are 33 salon marketing ideas from the…

The post 33 Innovative Salon Marketing Ideas to Build Your Clientele appeared first on Fit Small Business.

The 4 best call to actions to use in your SMS marketing messages

A call to action or CTA is a phrase designed to encourage people to take a desired action. It is used across all areas of business, particularly in sales and marketing. Call to actions are everywhere, you may not notice them, but they are there.

The above are just some of an infinite number of examples of a call to action, with over 170,000 words in the English Dictionary, you can imagine the thousands of combinations that businesses have come up with to encourage consumers to complete a task.

Even with all these words and extremely creative marketers, the most popular call to action is the very basic, ‘Buy Now’. It’s is clear on what the desired outcome is and it directly relates to selling a product or service, which is the ultimate goal for businesses.

However, ‘Buy Now’ would not work in all scenarios, nor would a lot of call to actions. It is imperative that the right call to action is used in the right situation. You wouldn’t include ‘Click Here’ on a poster, nor would you have ‘Read More’ in a radio ad, and SMS marketing is the same.

SMS is the perfect medium to connect with your customers and promote your products and services, however, it cannot directly sell a product or sign someone up. SMS is a delivery mechanism, which is why you need a call to action at the end to get your desired outcome.

Call to actions to use in a text message

1. Link to website
Perhaps the most common call to action to use at the end of a text message is to include a link to a website. With this, you can ask your customers to click the link to find out more, buy the product you are promoting, sign up, or just browse your website.

You can even track which of your customers clicked your link with our tracked URL Feature.

“Visit our website for more information www.link.com” or Buy now and save 40% here www.link.com

2. Text back
By adding ‘please text us back’ at the end of your message, you can get your customers responding to you quickly. The end user has received your message on their phone, and replying is quick and effortless.

Two ways you can allow your customers to text you back:

Virtual Mobile Number – use your virtual mobile number as the sender ID and replies will go straight into your Message Box account.

Sender ID: 447618920983 “If you want to learn more about the services we offer, please text us back with any questions.”

Keyword – add your desired keyword into the body of the message and use that to get customers to reply to you.

“Text SAVE to 88802 to get one of our adviser to call you back.”

3. Call us
Similar to asking customers to text you back, asking them to call you is just as easy as for them. Either include a phone number in the body of the message or use your own number as the sender ID.

If you do use this option, make sure you have enough people to answer the calls or use our Schedule Message feature and spread your messages over a couple of hours. We have had customers send bulk messages and included a ‘call back’ call to action which meant their phone lines got jammed with lots of customers all ringing at once.

“For more information call us on 0123 456 7890” or Sender ID: 447618920983 “To speak to one of our advisors call us back on this number.”

4. Visit us
You may want to use SMS to increase footfall to your store, so the correct call to action here would be to ask them to visit your store. We would advise that you either include the address of your store in the body of the message, a link to google maps, or a link to your website where they can find your store location on.

Some of your customers may only ever shop online and do not know where your store is, so just asking customers to visit your store without including any directions is poor customer service. Spending time locating a store could decrease the likelihood of them visiting you.

“Come visit our store located on Highland Road just off the main high-street.” or “Come see us in store and save, we are located here www.link.com.”

 

Remember that no matter which of the 4 options you use in your SMS messages, make certain it is clear what you want your customers to do. Ask them to call or text you back, tell them if they want more information to visit your site or come to your store. Don’t just include your telephone number or website link without specifically asking them to do something with it.

Executive Interview: Michael Grillo of ACI Worldwide

Michael Grillo runs the marketing efforts at ACI Worldwide’s Merchant Solutions area.  The fact that ACI Worldwide is so large is a well-known fact in loyalty marketing circles.  What may be less well-known is the extent to which they power the backbone of the entire payments ecosystem.  They are, quite literally, everywhere.

I met Michael at the recent NRF Big Show event in New York
City.  As you’ll see, he is an affable
and very smart individual with a lot on his plate.  Our conversation at NRF was wide-ranging and
touched some very interesting developments in our space – one of which is the challenges
associated with the emerging BOPIS trend and the technologies needed to effectively
pull it off at scale.

(For the uninitiated, BOPIS is a recently-coined acronym that stands for “Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store“.  It’s ok – I had to ask too.)

Think about it for a moment. 
It takes a lot more data coordination to merge an online & offline transaction
– and do so in real time – than it does to process a purchase in either channel
alone.  And then there’s the fraud
consideration.

Michael and I talked about those challenges and some of the technological wizardry that ACI has developed to stem BOPIS fraud before it becomes a trend in itself.

The Wise Marketer Executive Interview: Michael Grillo from Wise Marketer Group on Vimeo.

Mike Giambattista is Editor in Chief at The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).

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3 Easy Ways You Can Speed Up a Video

Transitions are arguably the most important element of any piece of creative work. Whether it’s an article or video, engaging someone throughout its entirety requires you to elegantly weave your individual ideas and thoughts together into a cohesive narrative. Otherwise, if you abruptly hop from one point to another, you’ll throw your audience off and confuse them, increasing the likelihood that they’ll disengage with your work.

If you’re a video editor, you know that one of the most common and effective transitions when creating videos is shooting a clip in slow motion, and then speeding up the ending during post-production. To show you how to do this, we’ve put together a guide that fleshes out three easy ways you can speed up a video and, in turn, craft engaging transitions in Adobe Premiere Pro.

1. Use the Speed/Duration command in Adobe Premiere Pro.

If you want to use the Speed/Duration command in Adobe Premiere Pro to speed up one of your videos, follow the instructions below.

1. In your Timeline Panel or Project Panel, select one or multiple clips.

2. Click “Clip” and then choose “Speed/Duration”.

Image Credit: Adobe

3. Change your clip speed to your desired percentage. The higher your percentage, the shorter the duration of your clip will be.

4. To keep your clip’s audio at its original pitch, click “Maintain Audio Pitch”.

2. Use the Rate Stretch tool in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Premiere Pro’s Rate Stretch tool adjusts your clip’s duration by altering the clip’s speed so the entire clip fits within the desired duration, no matter how much you shorten it. To use this tool to speed up one of your clips, follow the instructions below.

1. Click on the Rate Stretch tool

2. Shorten your clip by dragging either edge of it in toward the middle of your clip. This will speed it up.

Image Credit: Adobe

3. Use the Time Remapping tool in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Time Remapping is another tool in Adobe Premiere Pro that you can use to speed up one of your video clips. To do this, follow the instructions below.

1. Right-click on your clip, select “Show Clip Keyframes”, “Time Remapping”, and then “Speed”.

2. After you do this, the clip will be shaded blue and a horizontal line will appear across it. To increase the speed of your clip, drag the line up toward the top. The change in speed will be displayed as a percentage of your clip’s original speed. Time Remapping doesn’t alter your clip’s audio.

Image Credit: Adobe

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51 YouTube Stats Every Video Marketer Should Know in 2019

In 2005, when I was 10 years old, a kid from my neighborhood was bear hugging a fallen tree trunk that bridged across our creek and yelled, “I better not see this on YouTube!”

That was the first time I’d ever heard of YouTube. And it definitely wasn’t the last time I’d hear about it. YouTube has experienced explosive growth since it was founded in an office garage in 2005. Just one year after its inception, it was attracting more than 65,000 new video uploads and 100 million video views per day. A couple of months later, the high-growth startup was acquired for over $1 billion by a titan in the tech industry — Google.

Since then, YouTube has opened up avenues for brands to advertise on their videos and, in turn, let content creators earn a living just by making videos. This potential for monetization has incentivized content creators to craft the most engaging videos possible and host them on the platform, which has enabled YouTube to become the second most trafficked website and the second largest search engine in the world.

As a video marketer, you already know how crucial building a YouTube presence is for boosting your videos’ and brand’s visibility. But if you just started your brand’s YouTube channel or need some help convincing your boss to double down on your YouTube efforts, we’ve got you covered.

Check out these 51 stats about the platform’s mobile usage, its demographics, subscriber growth, general usage, and history that can help you build your YouTube following or persuade your boss to focus more of your efforts on the video platform.

51 YouTube Stats Every Video Marketer Should Know in 2019

YouTube Mobile Stats

4. On mobile devices alone, YouTube reaches more adults aged 18-49 during prime time than any cable network does in an average week.

5. 75% of adults report watching YouTube on their mobile devices.

6. More than 70% of YouTube watch time is generated from mobile devices.

7. YouTube mobile ads are 84% more likely to hold attention than TV ads.

8. Over 50,000 years of product review videos have been watched on mobile devices over the past two years.

9. In 2018, YouTube was the most popular IOS app.

YouTube Demographics Stats

10. Over 90% of 18-44 year old American internet users watch videos on YouTube.

11. Over half of American internet users who are aged 75 and over watch videos on YouTube.

12. Over 50% of YouTube’s audience is female.

13. 59% of Generation Z (16-24-year-olds) have increased their YouTube usage since last year.

14. 46% of millennials (25-34-year-olds) have increased their YouTube usage since last year.

15. 70% of millennial YouTube users watched a YouTube video to learn how to do something new or learn about something they’re interested in.

16. 15.8% of YouTube users are from the United States.

17. YouTube attracts the most visitors from the United States, India, Japan, Russia, and China.

18. YouTube is available in more than 91 countries.

19. YouTube is available in 80 different languages.

YouTube Subscriber Growth Stats

20. The number of channels with more than 1 million subscribers increased by more than 75% since 2017.

21. The number of YouTubers who earn six figures per year has increased by more than 40% since 2017.

22. The number of YouTubers who earn five figures per year has increased by more than 50% since 2017.

23. The top ten YouTubers earned 42% more revenue in 2018 compared to 2017.

24. PewDiePie is the most popular YouTube channel, with 85 million subscribers.

25. The most popular branded YouTube channel is LEGO, which has over 7.1 million subscribers and has received over 8.7 billion views.

YouTube Usage Stats

26. YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine.

27. YouTube is the second most trafficked website behind Google.

28. YouTube users collectively watch over 46,000 years of content each year.

29. 68% of YouTube users watched a video to help them make a purchase decision.

30. 80% of YouTube users who watched a video to help them make a purchase decision said they watched the video at the beginning of the shopping process.

31. 95% of the most popular YouTube videos are music videos.

32. 47% of on-demand music streaming was listened to on YouTube.

33. There are twice as many small- and medium-sized businesses advertising on YouTube since 2016.

34. Four times as many people prefer watching video on YouTube rather than on social media platforms.

35. YouTube users watch more than 180 million hours of content on TV screens every day.

36. YouTube users are three times more likely to prefer watching a YouTube tutorial video compared to reading the product’s instructions.

37. “Relaxing” and “feeling entertained” are the top two reasons viewers watch YouTube.

38. Relaxation videos like soap cutting and slime playing experienced a 70% increase in watch time in 2018.

39. Comedy, music, entertainment/pop culture, and “how to” are the four most popular content categories on YouTube.

YouTube History Stats

40. “YouTube.com” was activated on February 14, 2005.

41. “Me at the zoo” was the first video uploaded to YouTube on April 25, 2005.

42. Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion on October 9, 2006.

43. YouTube launched InVideo ads in December 2007.

44. YouTube streamed the United States presidential debates for the first time in 2012.

45. The youngest YouTuber is Ryan ToysReview, who is a 7-year old boy who makes $11 million a year and has 18.2 million subscribers.

46. “Gangnam Style”’s surge in popularity broke the video’s view counter.

47. YouTube provides a free space in Los Angeles where YouTubers with over 10,000 subscribers can learn, connect, and create videos with each other.

48. The first YouTube video that reached one million views was a 2005 Nike ad that featured football star, Ronaldinho.

49. The YouTube video that received the most views in 24 hours is Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” music video, which attracted 55.4 million views in a single day.

50. The most liked video on YouTube is the music video for the song “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee. It has received over 31.96 million likes and boasts an 89.25% like percentage.

51. YouTube’s own YouTube Rewind 2018 video is the most disliked video on the platform. It has received over 16 million dislikes and owns an 86.53% dislike percentage.

YouTube for Business