How to Write a Business Letter That Won’t Get Ignored

Nowadays, writing a letter can seem completely archaic. I mean, do people even send mail anymore or do they only communicate through email and messaging?

In the business world, letters are actually still crucial for collaboration. To convince someone to offer you a job, you need to write them a compelling cover letter. And to persuade someone to speak at your company’s event, you need to write a gripping pitch.

A lot of professionals overlook the importance of writing high-quality business letters because they seem outdated. As a result, most people don’t actually know how to write one.

Fortunately, if you’re in the same boat, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ll teach you how to craft a persuasive business letter for any purpose and situation.

To teach you how to write a business letter in more detail than the snippet above, let’s take a look at a letter I wrote to Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot’s CTO, when I was a wide-eyed college student trying to convince him to speak at my school.

I’ll analyze the most important parts of my letter — the introduction, body text, and call-to-action — and explain how and why they can strengthen your own business letters.

Business Letter Example

October 1, 2016

 

Dharmesh Shah

HubSpot

25 First Street,

Cambridge, MA 02141

 

Dear Mr. Shah,

When my freshman year of college ended, I was fortunate enough to work as a digital marketing intern at a startup called SlideBatch. They were introducing a new content marketing tool to the market, and my job was to apply that tool to their clients’ social media marketing campaigns and prove that SlideBatch was an effective marketing solution. I was so excited to get to work, but I had one small problem. I didn’t know what content marketing was. So, I did some research on the Internet and discovered HubSpot’s Marketing blog.

Fast forward a year and half, and I’m still reading HubSpot’s Marketing blog and leveraging its insights at my third digital marketing internship. Reading your blogs changed my life. I entered college believing financial advising was my destiny. But, after learning about HubSpot’s inbound marketing philosophy — how helping people is the ultimate way to increase brand trust and engagement — I was hooked. Shortly after my internship with SlideBatch ended, I decided to pursue digital marketing instead of financial advising. I’ve haven’t looked back since.

HubSpot’s influence on my life is the reason I’m writing to you today. I’m certain if you spoke at my school, DePauw University, about your life, HubSpot, and the inbound marketing philosophy, there would be hundreds of undecided students who start pursuing digital marketing. I know this because DePauw’s McDermond Speaker Series is one of the best platforms for business leaders to showcase their passion for their industry, company, and work. Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics, Angie Hicks of Angie’s List, and Bill Rasmussen of ESPN have all successfully used the McDermond Speaker Series to inspire the world’s next generation of business leaders, and I know you could, too.

We would be honored if you spoke at our school. Thank you for your time and consideration, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

 

Clifford Chi

313 South Locust St.

Greencastle, IN 46136

555-555-5555

[email protected]

Introduction (first and second paragraphs)

To instantly grab Dharmesh’s attention and entice him to read the rest of my letter, you’ll notice I didn’t lead with the standard “I’m writing to you today because…” introduction. Instead, I engaged him with a story about how I discovered HubSpot and how his company changed my life. I thought this would strongly resonate with him because I assumed, as a co-founder of HubSpot, he would love to see how his life’s work has benefited others.

In your own business letters, you don’t necessarily need to tell a story to immediately hook your reader and persuade her to read on. But you should definitely describe how she’s made an impact on your life. This is what will truly grab and hold her attention.

Body text (third paragraph)

After my introduction, I swiftly segued into why I was writing to Dharmesh — to ask him to speak at my school. Personal anecdotes are an effective way to engage readers, but I’d lose Dharmesh’s attention if I didn’t cut to the chase.

Once I stated my letter’s intent, I quickly pitched the benefits of speaking at my school and bolstered the reputation of my school’s speaker series. By emphasizing how speaking at my school could inspire hundreds of students to pursue digital marketing and highlighting the group of impressive speakers Dharmesh could join, I focused on the dividends he would reap from being a McDermond Series Speaker, rather than how my school would benefit from his guest appearance.

So whether you’re trying to convince someone to hire you or speak at your school, you must first persuade your reader that doing what you ask of them will ultimately benefit them and be in their best interest.

Call-to-action (fourth paragraph)

In my last paragraph, I politely ask Dharmesh to speak at my school again.  Even though I already asked him this earlier, it’s important I end my letter with a clear next step. It packs more of a punch and crystalizes the desired action in his mind.

Strong call-to-actions are a crucial element of a persuasive business letter. Because if you don’t tell your reader what to do next, you might as well have never written your letter in the first place.

The best time to send your Black Friday SMS marketing campaigns

Every business across the globe is gearing up for Black Friday, it is without doubt the biggest and best retail period of the year. Last year the UK were thought to have spent a whopping £8 Billion over the 4 day weekend, and this year an incredible we are predicting it will hit £9.2 Billion.

One reason Black Friday continues to grow year on year, is the mighty mobile phone of course. The mobile phone once again topped desktop last year with 66% of website traffic over the Black Friday 2017 weekend coming through a mobile device (Source: Salmon).

With SMS having an open rate of 98% and 90% of those messages being read within 3 minutes, there is no better way to tell your customers your Black Friday sale has started than sending them a text message. SMS boasts a superior click through rate, consumers are more likely to click your link and browse your products when sent a text message as well.

Here at Text Marketer we want your Black Friday sales to be the absolute best they can be, and one way we can help you is by telling you when to send your Black Friday SMS campaigns. We are going to look into the data and find the most popular times and even days that businesses send their marketing messages on.

Between 12pm – 1pm UK sales reached a peak of 976 transactions per second (Source: Expandly)

Before we give you the most popular times and days to send your SMS campaigns, we would always suggest that you send a bulk SMS message to your customers as soon as your Black Friday sale starts. Argos said that just 4 hours after they launched their Black Friday campaign last year, they had more than 2 million visitors to their website.

“These early record-breaking figures show that savvy shoppers are keen to bag themselves a bargain in the run-up to Christmas” – John Rogers, Argos Chief Executive

Consumers are waiting for your Black Friday sale to start, eager to save money and buy as much as they can, so why not tell them about it and get your sales rolling from the first minute.

Text Marketer stats
In the lead up to Black Friday we see a huge increase of messages go through our system, with the day itself seeing a 137% increase in messages being sent compared to the average Friday. Cyber Monday also sees an increase of 33% when compared to an average Monday.

It is not just Black Friday and Cyber Monday that there is an influx of messages going through our system. The day before Black Friday we see an increase of 65% compared to the average Thursday, with message volumes increasing as it gets closer to Black Friday, the week of Black Friday sees an increase of 49% compared to the week prior, and that week is 11% bigger than the week before that.

As Black Friday approaches daily message volume snowballs as retailers are starting their Black Friday offers.

Text Marketer retailer sending on Black Friday

Best time to send leading up to Black Friday
As we have said, Black Friday is no longer a one-day event and can last weeks and even the whole of November. Sending your Black Friday SMS campaign will mainly rely on when your Black Friday sale starts, if like Amazon, you start your sale the week before Black Friday, then as soon as your sale is live, you should inform all your customers with a simple SMS message.

This being said we have looked at the data and picked the more popular days in the lead up to Black Friday.

Tuesday of Black Friday week – Surprisingly there is an 81% increase in messages being sent on the Tuesday before Black Friday compared to a standard Tuesday. The week of Black Friday is a popular time to start a sale, it gives retailers time to promote the sale and consumers enough time decide and purchase something they like.

Day before Black Friday – The day before Black Friday is a huge day for retailers and a huge day for text messaging. Very much like the Boxing day sales, over the past few years consumers look for online sales on Christmas day instead of waiting for Boxing day, it is the same with Black Friday, consumers are looking at items they can buy the day before.

The best time to send your SMS campaign the day before Black Friday is either the morning or evening, with retailers wanting to get their message in early, or soon after consumers have left work.

Day before Black Friday sends

Best time to send on Black Friday
The morning is the best time to send your SMS campaigns with 82% of messages being sent between 7:00am – 12:00pm, this is because retailers want to get their Black Friday offer in front of consumers before their competitors.

In fact, the 5 most popular hours during the whole of Black Friday are all in the morning, with only 6% of messages being sent in the evening (6:00pm – 12:00pm).

Times to send on Black Friday

Best time to send on Cyber Monday
Before 10am is the best time send a text message to customers about your Cyber Monday sale, with 55% of messages being sent before 10am on Cyber Monday. Very few messages go out during the afternoon, with only 9% of messages going out during 12:00pm – 5:00pm and hardly any go out after 8:00pm.

Time to send on Cyber Monday

Sending your message at the right time can be the difference between a successful Black Friday sale and one that never really takes off. Make sure you think about when your customers would like to receive your messages, too early in the morning and people aren’t ready to buy, too late and they have already made their purchases.

We would also advice that you send a reminder message to customers letting them know about your sale on Black Friday itself, with 58% of retailers sending a message before Black Friday then again on the day itself.

Don’t be scared of sending out a few messages about your deals and offers, during this Black Friday period, customers are actively looking for the best deals and offers and will want to hear about them.

If you would like to speak to someone from our expert team who can advice you on best practice, then please call us on 0117 205 0202 or if you haven’t got an SMS account, then sign up for one now and get your Black Friday campaign off to a bang with SMS.

Best Casino Games for Console Players

If you’re a seasoned console player, be it Xbox, PlayStation, Switch or PC, chances are you’ll have a certain style of game that you prefer above all others. Maybe you’re a fan of real-time, online multiplayer games with a strong competitive edge. Perhaps your thing is adrenaline-fuelled racing games or complex puzzle-solving mysteries.

Maybe it’s lengthy cinematic games, rich in depth and dialogue, or perhaps you prefer more luck-based games, where victory is based on the roll of a dice, the spin of a wheel or the pull of a lever. The games we play shape our preferences as much as our preferences determine what kind of games we gravitate towards. If you’re looking to make the more lucrative switch over to online casino games, you’ll want to be playing games of a similar nature to those you already enjoy on a console.

If you choose wisely, you’ll be able to get maximum enjoyment out of your casino gaming experience, and you’ll likely be more skilled at playing, meaning there will be a lot more money in it for you. With that in mind, here’s your guide to the best casino games for console players of all stripes. 

Video Poker

Video poker has been around since at least the ’70s and is probably the closest thing to a classic console experience you can find in the world of casinos. You’re likely to recognize a game of video poker as soon as you see it, given the popularity of the genre with gamers and non-gamers alike. The setup looks and feels a lot like a classic NES game, complete with 8-bit graphics and chiptune music.

As well as the classic arcade feel, the reason real money video poker remains so popular is that you tend to get much better odds compared to other RNG-based online games. This is especially true with iconic variations of the game such as Deuces Wild.

Themed Slot Games

If you’re the type of person who loves console games for their themes, then slot machines might be the way forward for you. If you’re loyal to game franchises such as Call of Duty or The Elder Scrolls, you’re likely to be a big fan of the visuals, music, and atmosphere these highly immersive games provide. These are often the things the keep us flocking back to our most beloved game series time and time again. The very same thing is often true with themed slot games.

If the game series that you most enjoy is something like Civilization, there are slot games which use the same themes to recreate the things you love about it. The same is true if you prefer the Game of Thrones video game series, the Assassin’s Creed series, or just about any other iconic game franchise. There are themed slot games for every preference, often with full musical scores, complex visuals, and themed jackpot prizes that will feel just like you’re playing your favorite Xbox game, the only difference being that you’ll be playing for real money this time.

Live Blackjack

Many online casinos specialize in live games with real people, making these the perfect option for those who most enjoy competitive online gaming with other players. If your current game of choice is an online multiplayer like Fortnite or Black Ops 3, then chances are the main attraction for you is the opportunity to show your skills and play against real people from anywhere in the world.

Live blackjack is a relatively recent innovation that allows you to do just this, for real money. You can set up a profile, connect with another player and a real-life blackjack dealer, and play your best hand in the race to win the jackpot. If you’re one of those gamers who most enjoys the social as well as the competitive aspects of console gaming, then live blackjack is most definitely the right game for you. 

Classic Shoot ‘Em Up Games

Yup you heard right. In some casinos these days, you don’t even have to make any kind of transition from console gaming in order to enjoy all of the benefits of the casino. Some casinos have started to adapt arcade-style shooter games into real-money games that allow you to place bets and win big if you manage to win the game and shoot as many bad guys as you can.

The games on offer are strongly reminiscent of shooter classics such as Time Crisis and DOOM, all with the added bonus of being able to win hundreds or even thousands of dollars if your marksmanship is up to scratch. Unfortunately, you’ll have to make the trip to Atlantic City to play these, but chances are they’ll become a lot more common in the future.

There’s a type of casino game out there for every style of player, no matter where your loyalties lie. Just make sure you pick the right one in order to make the most of your video gaming skills and win some real money.

The post Best Casino Games for Console Players appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

The Wise Marketer Podcast: Ray Clopton, CEO of Wilbur Rewards

Ray Clopton is a 20+ year veteran of the loyalty industry who has developed a platform that, among other unique features, doesn’t collect or dispense customer data.  It’s an interesting concept in light of the recent onslaught of GDPR-related concerns and policies.  It was a fascinating few minutes and, we think, well worth a listen.

You can read more about the philosophy behind Wilbur Rewards here.

The post The Wise Marketer Podcast: Ray Clopton, CEO of Wilbur Rewards appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

Why Organic Marketing Is Here to Stay and How to Add It to Your Strategy

Organic this? Organic that? What’s the big deal with organic? You can have your own opinion about food products, but in marketing, the answer is pretty clear. Organic marketing is the way. But what is organic marketing and how does it differ from paid social marketing?

In this blog, we’ll explore what organic marketing is, what it isn’t, and how you can use it to drive your business.

What Is Organic Social Media Marketing?

Organic social media is the use of the free services and tools that each social media platform provides to its users. The purpose of organic social media is to build a community of loyal followers and customers by posting relevant content and interacting with those who communicate with your brand. Organic social media marketing is the best way to show customers your true values and culture, while also learning about the values of your customers. By utilizing funnel optimization to convert organic traffic into purchases.

Organic social media marketing has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than paid marketing. This is because brands and customers are given the opportunity to learn about one another simultaneously as they interact on social media platforms.

This is done with organic efforts such as answering questions, providing or responding to feedback, or simply starting a conversation about your brand.

What Is Paid Social Media Marketing?

Paid social, meanwhile, is identified as paying for social media platforms to display advertisements or sponsored messages to users of the social network based on user profiles and traits. Each of these sponsored messages/ads is run it incurs a specified cost per trigger or campaign. For example, pay-per-click (PPC) ads incur a cost each time your ad is clicked by a user, while Facebook uses scheduled blast posts.

From this simplistic breakdown, we can begin to see that organic marketing, while requiring time, can lead to more sales and longer lasting customer engagement on social media platforms.

Here are some tried and true methods still relevant today outside of traditional organic social media marketing:

Use Targeting to Attain the Maximum Organic Potential

Within social media, there are a lot of various ways to optimize your targeting organically. While paying for social media marketing can be effective, adjusting the targeting on your posts can boost your organic reach. Within Facebook and Twitter, you can adjust for your posts to target the following criteria: gender, relationship, status, education level, age, location, language, interests, and post end date. With these targeting attributes available, you can better target your audience so the right people can see your content.

Optimize SEO Titles

According to Moz, having a strong SEO title is one of the most important on-page SEO element. Also, it is important to note that title tags should only be around 50-60 characters long and be very relevant to the content on the page.

Posting Evergreen Content

Whether it may be on social media or your blog, it’s important to publish evergreen posts that do not contain an expiration date. These posts should be engaging and stand out for your readers to stay intrigued. If you’re having trouble thinking about what to post, consider content that is educational and fun. Statistics show that users tend to share more positive posts than negative ones.

Use Emojis to Boost Engagement 🚀

Emojis have become an accepted part of our online vocabulary and are a good way to spice up your social copy. Emojis are a way to humanize your brand as well as express complex ideas in fewer characters so you can engage more on platforms such as Twitter. They help you capture more attention by conveying the general emotion and ideas around a post even before a person has had a chance to read it.

Choose the Most Engaging  #Hashtags

According to data from Buffer, Hashtags affect engagement differently depending on the social network:

  • Twitter posts with one hashtag generate 21% more engagements than tweets with three or more.
  • Instagram posts, on the other hand, see the most engagement when using 11+ hashtags.
  • Facebook posts do better without hashtags.

If you know of a high-profile event coming up, you can prepare in advance to make sure you’re ready to get in on the action. The more targeted, the better. If you’re a fashion brand, for example, consider live-tweeting or covering high profile events and commenting on what celebrities are wearing.

Most events are accompanied by hashtags that you can hop on. But the key to hijacking a hashtag is not to hijack it at all. Instead, you should aim to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful, natural way.

Get Your Meme On

what-is-a-meme

Memes have taken over social media. In addition, you can get a degree these days in “memeology” as it relates to the human psyche.

Memes are cultural behaviors that spread from person to person through imitation. That gives them a natural virality that businesses can use. By playing on nostalgia, humor, and imitation it allows for organic growth through the spread of various iterations of the same meme. This most recently seen in the Nike meme spread throughout all of Facebook after the Colin Kaepernick pickup as an endorsement deal.

Run a Contest/Giveaway

Contests and giveaways tend to produce significant engagement because they ask your audience to do relatively little for the opportunity to reap some reward.

The more compelling your prize, the more hoops people will jump through for the chance to come out on top. These contests can be run directly on social media or facilitated with a tool.

Organic Marketing & the Marketer

In today’s age of competition, dollar bills, and robotic engagement, organic marketing is becoming more and more critical to help you stand out amongst the rest of the competition. By creating an experience for the user, you have a much higher chance to draw in new customers and produce more sales because the rapport has been built in a non-invasive manner. Coupling these activities with paid efforts will lead to more word of mouth organic growth as your paid advertisements are talked about by new customers to already engaged users. These users with positive experiences will relay them and continue this process.

Are there any organic marketing opportunities that have been successful for you? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

The post Why Organic Marketing Is Here to Stay and How to Add It to Your Strategy appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

15 Best Facebook Tools for Marketing 2018

Facebook tools make it easier for you to set up your Facebook Page and market it, grow a following, and measure your results. We analyzed dozens of options to find tools designed to save you time and help you reach your Facebook marketing goals at every step of the process. All of the 15 tools…

The post 15 Best Facebook Tools for Marketing 2018 appeared first on Fit Small Business.

What 4 of HubSpot’s Recruiters, Hiring Managers, & Executives Say About Being a “Jack of All Trades”

When Karla Cook, the current Editor of HubSpot’s Marketing Blog, first joined the team as a staff writer in July 2016, she realized she had more in common with most of her new teammates than she originally thought.

As a rhetoric major at Bates College, a liberal arts school in Maine, Karla spent more time analyzing political speeches and honing her debate skills than studying marketing methodologies. She had also just spent the last year and a half working as a Support Engineer at HubSpot and was working her way through a masters degree in Corporate Communications. 

In other words, she was what most corporate folks would call, a “jack of all trades”. But, as a pleasant surprise to her, so were many of her teammates at HubSpot.

On the Blog Team, five of the seven total members were liberal arts graduates with majors spanning from theatre, communications, psychology, government, and international relations. Most of the bloggers didn’t begin their careers in marketing either. Grant writing, admissions, business analysis, production, and journalism sparked most of the team’s journey into the working world.

A year after Karla joined the team, Cobloom (a SaaS growth marketing agency) released a research report about the SaaS blogs who attract the most organic search traffic in the world. HubSpot’s blog was ranked number one. 

With a team full of generalists who never studied or specialized in marketing, they still generated three times more organic traffic than Google’s own blog. So is the old saying that a jack of all trades is a master of none actually true? And why is there so much suffocating pressure put on college students to specialize in only one discipline?

As jobs become more specialized in today’s workforce, it seems logical to hone a specific skill set, especially during school.

But only learning the skills that match the exact requirements of a job today might not prepare you for your job tomorrow.

According to a study conducted by researchers from LinkedIn and the World Economics Forum, majoring in specialized subjects like marketing, finance, IT, and computer science don’t teach students the necessary skills to adapt to sudden industry changes and other fields of work, whereas broad majors like literature, history, political science, and economics do.

Mark Cuban, a billionaire investor, has also called liberal arts majors free thinkers who can quickly adapt to the rapid evolution of most industries nowadays.

Marketing is one of the ever-evolving industries that Cuban says liberal arts majors thrive in. Fifteen years ago, content marketing didn’t even exist. But, today, it’s the top hiring area in the creative job market, with 25% of executives planning to grow their team this year.

Meghan Keaney Anderson, a Vice President of Marketing at HubSpot, believes content marketing’s swift evolution will continue to accelerate. And the only way to keep up is by being adaptable.

“The world changes incredibly quickly in our industry. What is today a central skill, channel, or strategy may not be tomorrow. We need people who are adaptable and, more than that, who are fascinated by change and have a mental framework and curiosity to learn new approaches,” she says. “I’ve found that liberal arts majors in particular have a great disposition for that kind of work — critical thinking, diverse interests, and a strong inclination to understand new areas.”

Keaney Anderson suggests there may be some essential content marketing skills today that will be rendered superfluous in the future. There could even be roles sprouting up that don’t even exist right now. This isn’t intimidating to liberal arts majors or jack of all trades, though. They’ve learned how to learn and feel comfortable grasping new skills and concepts.

But one skill the industry will always need and marketers constantly need to keep honing is storytelling — neuroscience proves that it’s the best way to capture people’s attention, bake information into their memories, and forge close, personal bonds. We’re programmed to pay our undivided attention to a great story — that’ll never change.

For a story to be compelling, though, it needs good writing behind it. But writing well in the marketing world doesn’t mean scribbling the most flowery and poetic prose possible. It means logically presenting or dissecting an argument in a clear, concise, and compelling way.

According to Emma Brudner, HubSpot’s Director of both the Blog and Community Teams, diversifying your education or skillset will arm you with the critical thinking abilities needed to write well.

“Liberal arts teaches students to not only write, but also to think critically. David McCullough, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, once said ‘Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly.’ I love this quote and I think about it a lot when hiring writers.” she says. “For the type of writing my team does, being able to organize thoughts and information clearly is imperative — even more important in my experience than the specific knowledge a more specialized degree, like marketing or advertising, might instill.”

While Brudner speaks to the importance of sharpening your critical thinking skills to write compelling content, developing your creativity is just as crucial for marketing success. According to neuroscience, it’s what drives innovation.

Creativity happens when you mash seemingly unrelated concepts together to form a new idea. Neuroscientists call this synaptic play, and the more incongruent the concepts are, the more synapses occur in your brain.

Studying a variety of disciplines or working in different fields supplies you with a bank of diverse knowledge and experiences to pull from to make these creative connections. And Kipp Bodnar, HubSpot’s Chief Marketing Officer, believes a brain full of diverse inputs will lead to much more inventive ideas.

“Connecting the dots is where so much of the success in marketing comes from. When you have a marketer who has done various aspects of marketing, they are able to understand how everything works together, which helps them accomplish much more than if their focus was isolated to only one deep discipline.”

Bodnar is describing something called cognitive diversity, where having a lot of different inputs in your head lets you connect dots that have never been connected before, giving you an entirely different perspective on things. This not only enables you to be more creative, but it also allows you to challenge the status quo and push your team to do better work.

Liberal arts majors and jack of all trades tend to have more cognitive diversity than their specialized peers, which is a huge reason why Sara DeBrule, the International Marketing Recruiting Team Lead at HubSpot, believes a jack of all trades can be a vital asset to any type of team.

“For a team where the majority of people are specialized, the case for hiring someone who is a jack of all trades is that they have enough perspective on the different types of marketing that they can test the assumptions of a team, push a team to operate in a more cross functional capacity, and round out the overall experience,” she says. “Jack of all trades can also be crucial for an early stage company where it’s an all hands on deck effort and people need to leverage disparate skill sets on a daily basis and context switch.”

The Jack of All Trades Can Be a Master of All

When I was a freshman in college, skeptically studying economics at a liberal arts school, I spent countless hours scouring the internet for every article that weighed the pros and cons of a general and specialized education. Every liberal arts critic said I was going to lag behind my specialized peers at work. Every proponent said I was going to propel past them.

So after hours on the phone with my dad and getting his blessing to transfer to a school where I could major in finance, I decided to go with my gut. I took a chance on the arts. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

My liberal arts education taught me how to learn, think critically, and, most importantly, write. And those skills got me a job at HubSpot. If I had taken the other route, who knows what I’d be doing. Odd are, I’d be wearing a suit to work everyday and crunching numbers in a spreadsheet, not knowing what I’d do with my career if an algorithm started doing my job better than I could.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 predictions

Over the past few years, we have had a dabble at predicting the sales figures for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and over the past few years we have been pretty close.

We predicted that for the four-day Black Friday weekend in 2016, including Cyber Monday, UK consumers would spend £4.7 Billion, with the actual figure hitting £5.8 Billion. So last year we had another go at trying to predict it again, this time predicting that UK shoppers would spend a staggering £8.7 Billion over the four day weekend, with the actual spending figure for 2017 coming in at around £8 Billion.

First year we were slightly under, second year slightly over, but as we were pretty close both times we have decided to predict the UK spend again, 3rd time lucky we hope.

But before we tell you the magic number you have all come here for, firstly have a read of these amazing stats to help you get excited for the big Black Friday sales . . .

UK consumers spent a huge 515% more online than the average Friday in 2017 – Cyber Monday nearly doubled that (Source: Ingenico)

91% of UK retailers had a Black Friday promotion in 2017 (Source: SaleCycle)

In November 2017 the average weekly spend online for retailer was £1.2 billion – this is an increase of 10.2% compared with November 2016 (Source: Office for National Statistics)

Black Friday is no longer a one-day sales bonanza, millions of businesses start earlier, with Amazon historically starting their Black Friday sales 2 weeks in advance. It is now a 6-day sales festival, with the 6 busiest shopping days of 2017 being between Wednesday 22nd and Monday 27th November 2017 (Source: Ingenico).

Because it is the biggest and best sales opportunity for retailers, every year expert’s analysis consumer trends and sales, they look at the latest gadgets, what has been popular over the past months to try and predict what Black Friday will bring that year.

We are predicting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 that UK consumers will spend . . .

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 predictions

With the spend looking very likely that it will once again hit new records, we would advise that you start planning your marketing campaigns early, start collecting your data now and formulating a plan to engage with your customers and get the most out of Black Friday this year.

If you haven’t already got an SMS account, make sure you don’t miss out on millions of shoppers looking for great deals and sign up with an account today and start your Black Friday campaign the right way, with SMS marketing.

Speak Human: 8 Conversation Marketing Hacks, Game-Changers

The following is a guest contributed post by By Merilee Kern, MBA.

Nobody starts out automatically caring about your products or services. They care about how you can make a difference in their lives.  No matter the context, all relationships begin with a “handshake moment,” whether literally or figuratively—those first few introductory moments that reveal a great deal about the character of the person standing before you. Why should company interactions with current and prospective customers or clients be any different?

Sure, “content marketing” has been a crucial ingredient impelling the evolution of traditional marketing into today’s more personalized approach, bridging the gap between cookie-cutter TV, radio, and print mass marketing to highly customized digital and social media-driven communications. Even so, today’s more personalized digital communications have plenty of challenges, all too often falling on “deaf ears” and “blind eyes” amid a marketplace becoming highly desensitized to the glut of advertising and marketing messages its exposed to any given hour of any given day…year in and year out.

So, how can brands can make and maintain meaningful connections and create a lifetime value with customers in ways that’ll set them apart in a “noisy,” increasingly jaded and discriminating marketplace? How can businesses tell an authentic story so as to foster maximized marketplace engagement and breed brand loyalty?  According to Kevin Lund, author of the new book, Conversation Marketing: How to be Relevant and Engage Your Customer by Speaking Human,” the proverbial key to the Kingdom is for companies, no matter their size and scope, to simply “speak human.”

In this new book  Lund, who’s CEO of T3 Custom—itself a content marketing firm helping brands learn to “speak human” and supercharge ROI reportedly by as much as16-times, provides an in-depth analysis of what’s required to succeed in today’s modern marketing era, which he’s aptly coined the “Conversation Age.” Specifically, he details key principles critical for driving the more evolved conversation marketing approach, which can help companies amplify results on multiple fronts.

According to Lund, “Those who are wildly successful at conversation marketing understand the strategy is not simply about propagating online content and sharing through social media accounts. Rather, it’s a disciplined approach to communicating with a target audience in a way that tells a simple, human story that will educate, inform, entertain and, most importantly, compel customers in a way that fully captures mind–and-market share through messaging that truly resonates. Companies must stop talking ‘at’ their customers and, instead, connect with them by simply speaking human. And, it’s far beyond that initial ‘handshake moment—it’s through a constant stream of congenial engagements with each individual consumer, or the marketplace at large, based on trust and performance.”

Think it’s complicated to be an adept conversation marketer and speak human to your constituents? Think again! Below are eight of Lund’s tactical strategies from the new book that can help companies large and small become more engaging and relevant with customers, and the marketplace at large:


1. Earn Attention

To gain attention in today’s crowded marketplace, it’s prudent to do the opposite of what most everyone else is doing. That means don’t deliver clichéd, boring content that’s written for robots—search engines or otherwise—and for generic consumption. It’s unsustainable for you and your brand as well as frustratingly futile for the audience you’re trying to reach. Instead, speak human by engaging your audience with eye-level language in order to gain their attention and set your brand apart. Learn to use language that educates and entertains the audience.

Earning attention starts with asking yourself what you and your company are passionate about and conveying that genuinely in that all-important “handshake moment” of first contact—online or otherwise. Assume you’re meeting the person on the other side of the screen for the first time. Think of what you can say that’s new, memorable, a standout, and jargon-free. Also, understand and adapt to your audience. You wouldn’t talk the same way to an aging Baby Boomer as you would to a teenager.


2. Tell a Story

How do you hold someone’s attention long enough to break down a topic and engender his or her trust, but also in a way that’s unforgettable and leaves that person feeling more knowledgeable than before? The answer lies in good storytelling.

Good conversations are filled with good stories and anecdotes. But be mindful that the hero of the story isn’t your company or its products, but rather how your product or service will have a positive impact in your customers’ lives. If you can elicit an emotional response, you’re onto something.  Some standout companies have figured this out. Apple’s story, for example, isn’t about devices. It’s about innovation and how our lives are being changed for the better with Apple technology in them. Learn how to make your story short, to the point, and easy to share online.


3. Stay Humble

Being humble begins with letting go of ego—that instinctual part of the psyche that screams for a marketer to make too much noise about products or services and brag about themselves. Sigmund Freud developed a psychoanalytic theory of personality he coined the “id,” and marketers often tap into their own ids by telling the world how great their company and its products are, and how great a potential customer will be for buying them. The id operates based on the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification of needs.

In conversation marketing, speaking human dictates that your customer’s needs, not your own, are top priority. Your audience wants to know what you can do for them, and that means stop talking about yourself and drop the megaphone. Instead, embrace a different approach that thoughtfully and humbly explains why you do what you do and why it can make a difference in someone’s life instead of focusing on your bottom line. Stop beating them over the heads with the fabulous features and benefits of your products. Instead, tell stories that inspire and resonate with their own life experiences.


4. Pick Your Party

Equally important to the “how” of your conversation is the “where.” It should all fit seamlessly together and feel natural and organic in that moment.  Part of learning how to talk to your audience and engage them in any form of conversation is deciding where to talk to them in the first place.

This means doing the footwork to learn where your potential customers gather, and meeting them on their own ground. Where do your potential customers hang out on social media? What are they saying, and what challenges are they discussing that you can compellingly weigh-in on? Easily available research tools can help you join the right conversation at the right time and in the right place with consistency.


5. Be Relevant (on a Molecular Level)

True listening is about far more than hearing words. It’s also about fully understanding the message and concepts being imparted—whether they’re needs, wants, desires, or even complaints. Being relevant means making sure you’re talking about topics that are of sure interest to your audience, and that’s often achieved by addressing their pain points. Before a marketer can aptly communicate and speak to such pain points, however, he or she must first hear what the prospect, customer or marketplace has to say. It can be dangerous, expensive and ultimately futile for companies to presume to inherently know what should be said in conversation marketing.


6. Start the Conversation 

How do you gain audience attention in a way that prevents you from just being part of the noise? It’s no longer a question of whether you should insert yourself into the world of content marketing. It’s a matter of when you’re going to start talking, what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to say it. One good approach is to base that initial conversation on your unique value proposition for the given audience.

It’s important to always remember that your target audience doesn’t care about you. They care what you can do for them. If you’ve done your research, you’ll be familiar with their pain points and better prepared to offer answers that address their needs. Don’t be a “me-too” marketer who dishes out the same information as everyone else. Instead, develop a unique angle with a thought-provoking headline that sparks attention—even better if it disrupts conventional thinking. In addition, know your topic inside out before communicating, and make sure any other people handling your communications are experts in the field. You don’t want to risk sounding trite or inaccurate.


7.  Stop Talking

Unlike a monologue, a conversation is a two-way endeavor. Knowing when to stop talking is as important as knowing what to say and when to say it. It’s the only way to truly get a sense of what your audience (or your potential customer) is thinking in reaction to what you’ve offered, and whether to stay the course in your strategy or tweak it on-the-fly. Once you hear preliminary reaction, you can respond to questions and concerns before moving ahead or otherwise course-correct as needed. Also bear in mind that what your audience isn’t saying can be just as impactful as what they do convey.

Once your message is out, take a step back and “read the room.” That could mean monitoring online response to your blog post or using various tools to learn which of your resources are drawing attention. Are people engaged? Are they adding to the conversation? What should you do if the feedback is bad? Don’t consider a negative response or lack of response necessarily a failure. Instead, see it as an opportunity to adjust, make changes, and perhaps find ways to better meet your audience’s needs.


8. Ditch the Checklist

Before every takeoff, airline crews verbally work through an extensive checklist. There’s a detailed set of tasks to cover before the plane can even push back from the gate. However, in an ebb and flow conversation marketing context, this adherence to a certain protocol can pose limitations. Indeed, one problem with simply sticking to a checklist is that a content marketing strategy will never evolve with the times or differentiate itself in any way from what everyone else is doing.

Successful marketers endeavor to open new horizons. They take a step back and ask bigger questions about themselves and their companies’ ultimate goals, as well as what sort of new challenges their audience or customers might face over time–how to aptly adjust when needed.

Lund also suggests finding sources of inspiration. “Explore some of the successful content marketing plans that showed passion, ditched the tired old language, zeroed in on what customers needed, and started a real conversation with the market,” he urges. “Then scrutinize your own strategy and see where it might be lacking, so that you can continually refine your own checklist.”

The post Speak Human: 8 Conversation Marketing Hacks, Game-Changers appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Loyalty Benefits from Blockchain Abound: Experts

Several blockchain experts at the recent Loyalty Live seminar in Chicago discussed the advantages the loyalty industry could achieve by using the technology.

Today’s loyalty programs are very inefficient, said Maleea Alvi, co-founder of Eatonomy Corp., a company that offers a decentralized blockchain as a service program designed to enable brands and retailers to build interoperable, engaging loyalty programs on the Stellar blockchain. As evidence, she pointed out that only 16 billion of loyalty points earned annually are spent.

“There are too many different programs, too many cards and it takes too long with too many [programs] to earn a reward,” she said. “I don’t want to wait until I earn 1,000 points to get a muffin.”

Millennials, in particular, are looking for instant gratification, she added. They want personalized offers based on what they like. That could mean a coffee in the morning, something else later in the day and perhaps the ability to gift some of the points to a friend.

By using a blockchain to store, track and disperse loyalty tokens, loyalty programs can offer this capability as well as several others that will mean less breakage of rewards and abandonment of loyalty programs, according to Alvi.

“Engagement is the key,” said Julie Lyle, former CMO of Walmart. “Marketers often chase the next shiny object.”

While blockchain might seem like that “next shiny object” to some, it instead offers simplicity (no multiple cards, multiple loyalty programs, etc.) to track, Lyle said. “Genius can come from simplification.  That’s what Amazon did.” By simplifying the supply chain, Amazon increased the speed and cut out much of the cost of the supply chain.

Al Burgio, founder of DigitalBits, called blockchain a win-win for loyalty program providers and customers. “It eliminates the friction that exists with programs today. It can move things faster, eliminate friction, enhance liquidity and increase the perceived value of the programs. The old programs cost too much in terms of time and money. Those with the most open minds will win.”

Burgio added that by using blockchain to enable customers to use loyalty for different rewards at different merchants, customers will demonstrate to program providers those rewards they most value. As a result, program providers can tweak programs to make sure they are providing those types of rewards.

Customer engagement suffers in many loyalty programs today because customers are dissatisfied with the current loyalty program ecosystem, said Nadine Rubin, director of operations for RewardsOps. However, getting companies to accept blockchain could be a challenge, because many see a stop sign any time a new technology is involved. But the open business system that blockchain can create for loyalty offers many benefits.

Beyond the above advantages of connecting blockchain and loyalty, others were discussed in an earlier article in The Wise Marketer.

Phil Britt is a reporter for The Wise Marketer.

The post Loyalty Benefits from Blockchain Abound: Experts appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

How to Write a Memo [Template & Examples]

A memo (also known as a memorandum, or “reminder”) is used for internal communications regarding procedures or official business within an organization.

Unlike an email, a memo is a message you send to a large group of employees, like your entire department or everyone at the company. You might need to write a memo to inform staff of upcoming events, or broadcast internal changes.

If you need to inform your employees of official internal business, here’s an easy-to-follow business memo template, as well as examples for further guidance.

Business Memo Template

MEMORANDUM

TO:

FROM:

DATE:

SUBJECT:

I’m writing to inform you that [reason for writing memo].

As our company continues to grow … [evidence or reason to support your opening paragraph].

Please let me know if you have any questions. In the meantime, I’d appreciate your cooperation as [official business information] takes place.

Header:

In your header, you’ll want to clearly label your content “Memorandum” so your readers know exactly they’re receiving. Then, you’ll want to include “TO”, “FROM”, “DATE”, and “SUBJECT”. This information is relevant for providing content, like who you’re addressing, and why.

Paragraph One:

In the first paragraph, you’ll want to quickly and clearly state the purpose of your memo. You might begin your sentence with the phrase, “I’m writing to inform you … ” or “I’m writing to request … “. A memo is meant to be short, clear, and to-the-point. You’ll want to deliver your most critical information upfront, and then use subsequent paragraphs as opportunities to dive into more detail.

Paragraph Two:

In the second paragraph, you’ll want to provide context or supporting evidence. For instance, let’s say your memo is informing the company of an internal re-organization. If this is the case, paragraph two should say something like, “As our company continues to grow, we’ve decided it makes more sense to separate our video production team from our content team. This way, those teams can focus more on their individual goals.”

Paragraph Three:

In the third paragraph, you’ll want to include your specific request of each employee — if you’re planning a team outing, this is the space you’d include, “Please RSVP with dietary restrictions,” or “Please email me with questions.”

On the contrary, if you’re informing staff of upcoming construction to the building, you might say, “I’d appreciate your cooperation during this time.” Even if there isn’t any specific action you expect from employees, it’s helpful to include how you hope they’ll handle the news and whether you expect them to do something in response to the memo.

Memo Examples

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In the Relationship Era, No One Should Be Marketing to Strangers

“Don’t talk to strangers.”

Whether or not this is good life advice that people should follow, it’s a saying that most are familiar with.

Even though this suggests we might have difficulty engaging with strangers, marketers have no problem selling to strangers. We spam unsegmented email lists and display annoying pop-ups on websites. We spend exorbitant amounts of money on digital advertising—without even taking the time to learn about our audiences.

Unsurprisingly, these efforts often lead to unexceptional results.

So, is there actually any value in trying to go beyond one-size-fits-all marketing? Is there any value in bothering to determine how to segment prospects and what kind of segments we should use? Is there any value in getting to know our prospects and customers even though we don’t know for sure if they’ll convert, or if they’ll stay long-term?

In this early stage of the Relationship Era, the answer is almost certainly yes. Yes, there is.

Marketing in the Relationship Era

To put it simply, the Relationship Era describes businesses’ gradual shift to long-lasting relationships with prospects and customers.

It encompasses everything from new marketing processes and sales mentalities to unlocking potential for marketers and sales teams (whose jobs should be easier now that companies are capable of gaining so much more information about everyone they come in contact with).

In the last few years, “relationship marketing” has been commonly used to refer to “marketing to customers” as opposed to marketing to prospects. But as we enter the Relationship Era, it would be strange to not include prospects in “relationship marketing” too. With rapidly evolving technology, marketers absolutely have the means to nurture relationships with prospects. With chatbots, automated (but customized) email drips, and robust CRM tools that house conversations and files, the potential is unlimited.

The End of the “Not Enough Information” Problem

Even telemarketers practice a basic form of personalized marketing. They have people’s area codes and possibly addresses—from which they can infer socioeconomic status and household income, giving them an idea of what products this family might be interested in, and so on.

But why isn’t this good enough? Why bother taking personalized marketing to the next level?

Well, for one, consumers love it.

In Epsilon’s survey of consumers aged 18-64, 80% of respondents said that they’re more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences. In other words, personalization isn’t just some fad or a young person’s game. The Harvard Business Review found that a personalized marketing experience can deliver “five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more.”

When people love your marketing, they’re more likely to form a relationship with you—and ultimately, to buy from you. But you already knew that.

What you may not know is just how few companies are personalizing their marketing—and how much of an advantage you can gain from doing it.

Generally, it’s not particularly difficult to personalize email content, yet research on the state of personalization in email has found that 75% of consumers in North America felt that email content was not customized for them. And it’s not as if companies are trying very hard either. Only 17% of companies worldwide reported having personalization as a core part of their business strategies.

Not every business has caught on to the Relationship Era yet, which, for companies that are adapting quickly, is good news.

When Prospects Are No Longer Strangers

Traditionally, businesses may have thought of prospects as strangers, but no longer. Thanks to readily accessible information from sources like LinkedIn profiles and self-segmenting email subscribers, marketing and sales teams have an unprecedented amount of information on their leads even though they’re not (yet) customers. Information that, if used correctly, can help build pre-purchase and pre-subscription relationships.

The trick is to organize all of this lead data into something that’s searchable and usable.

While it’s impossible to do this manually given the sheer volume of information, industrious marketers are using specialized tools to gain the upper hand on their competition. From customizing landing page copy to matching Google ad headlines to sending curated Twitter posts to followers with specific interests, the possibilities for marketing to prospects are—without any hyperbole or exaggeration—endless. Instead of hoping that a prospect will fill out a form with 22 required fields, it’s now possible to ask three or four questions. Then, you can gather the rest of the information later.

Marketers are also beginning to venture beyond their traditional tech stack as they discover the efficiencies of tools like customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, which are typically used by sales teams. Today, modern CRM systems are designed for the benefit of both marketing and sales teams, giving marketers newfound visibility into the prospects that sales teams are interacting with on a daily basis.

Why is this important? Altify’s Business Performance Benchmark Study reported that organizations with aligned sales and marketing teams had 26% higher win rates and 18% shorter sales cycles. If anyone’s looking to help sales and marketing teams collaborate better, this could be the solution that gets everyone onto the same page. Or as we like to call it, a win-win situation.

Relationship-making: The New Marketing

In the Relationship Era, there’s no longer an excuse for generic marketing campaigns, hard sells, and one-size-fits-all messaging. Consumers have shown that they’re receptive to marketing if it takes into account what they need and what they’re shopping for.

This gives brands a huge opportunity to build meaningful relationships with customers and prospects that last for a long time. And more importantly, create relationships that can weather hiccups in customer service, product satisfaction, and bad press.

These are all new and exciting possibilities, but they exist because of the long-established power of relationships—which marketers are only just beginning to capitalize on.

Most businesses will probably take the easy route and continue pushing out general marketing campaigns without putting in the work to understand prospects. But if this early stage of the Relationship Era is any indication, maybe—just maybe—marketing will finally stop talking to strangers.

The post In the Relationship Era, No One Should Be Marketing to Strangers appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Top 25 Paid & Free Postcard Templates with Examples

One of the most powerful ways to market your small business and develop relationships with your customers is through the mailbox. Postcards allow you to reach a targeted audience with brochures, catalogs, coupons, and more. Here are the top 25 paid and free postcard templates for all types of businesses: 1. Multipurpose Postcard Template (Free)…

The post Top 25 Paid & Free Postcard Templates with Examples appeared first on Fit Small Business.

A Glimpse at the Future of Brick and Mortar

For nearly 25 years, Amazon has worked to define and evolve the concept of online commerce. And as if that wasn’t enough, Amazon Go is beginning to redefine how we think of the traditional in-store shopping experience, too. But at what cost?

The Go Shopping Experience

Amazon Go, a new convenience store concept which provides a unique shopping experience, first opened in the company headquarters in Seattle, WA. What makes these stores so distinct? They are completely cashier-less. Using a simple mobile app, customers scan a personalized barcode when entering the store, and then are able to grab what they want from a variety of sandwiches, snacks, and groceries, and then simply walk out of the store without stopping to pay at a cash register. All of this becomes possible through a series of cameras and sensors that Amazon has developed that detect what a shopper takes off the shelves, and then automatically charges their account and emails them a receipt when they leave the store.

Amazon’s plan is to have about 10 locations open by the end of 2018, about 50 locations in major cities in 2019, and as many as 3,000 total locations open by 2021. This expansion, which would make Amazon Go one of the largest convenience chains in the United States, has the potential to threaten the business of brands like 7-Eleven, Speedway, and other quick-service eateries.

But even with this digital expansion, brick and mortar stores are still an important part of the consumer experience, and Amazon isn’t the only brand making the “Go” experience happen. Zippin opened their first cashier-less convenience store in San Francisco, and a few other key players have opened up stores across China and South Korea as well. Perhaps the most important question to ask in the wake of these openings is just how brick and mortar locations are expected to keep up with the steady flow of data and customer profiles Amazon and others will build through these stores, bringing the personalized experience that Amazon shoppers have enjoyed for years into the physical world at a wider scale than ever before.

Go Stores Keep Going

Adding to the angst for traditional brick and mortar retailers is the fact that tech innovations in these stores does not stop at the convenience of grabbing what you need and walking out. Soon, the software that powers Amazon’s Go stores will be sophisticated enough to get to know each customer’s individual preferences, and make recommendations based on those purchases next time, building customer profiles that are even more important than ever.

Imagine being notified by your grocery store when your favorite brand of cheese comes on sale, or having a special sauce recommended to you the moment you pick up your steak at the butcher’s counter – these types of hyper-personal connections will soon be possible between businesses and consumers. Zippin is already developing technology that will guide customers to any item in stock.

Going Beyond Simply Cashier-Less Smart Stores

And theoretically, just because Go stores are cashier-less, doesn’t mean they don’t have any employees. It just means their employees spend more time making deeper customer connections – recommending products or helping to find merchandise, supporting an even better customer experience.

So, what does this mean for brands who thrive in the typical brick and mortar space?

With companies like Amazon opening up a new way to experience offline purchases, in a way that uses data to make every interaction smarter, existing brick and mortar retailers may be wondering how best to cement themselves in their customer’s routine, and ensure they don’t lose business. The answer is in compounding on years of quality customer experiences that online brands are just now learning to build in the real world.

The most important thing to offer your customers, outside the value of your products, is an experience that stays with them – in a good way. Luckily for most businesses, there are many ways to do this outside of dropping $1 million dollars on the hardware alone needed to open a store with Amazon Go machine vision and facial recognition.

Draw on Existing Technology

Technology adoption will continue to be a major factor in satisfying customer expectations and increasing loyalty. Things like self-order kiosks and dynamic digital signage will distinguish brands who are forward thinking from the pack, and there are a few simple things you can do today to stay ahead of the curve and at the forefront of your customer’s minds.

Harness your data – Every transaction is an opportunity to create another. When you start collecting detailed customer records, it opens the doors to countless insights that will help your brand discover new selling opportunities, and make your customers feel like VIPs.

Focus on speed of service – This doesn’t mean changing your traditional menu items. Instead, offer quicker alternatives for on-the-go customers, and add more online ordering and delivery services for ease of consumption.

Be mobile friendly – Customers want timely, content-rich experiences from brands, and SMS is a cost-effective way to reach them with personalized offers. Target your customers based on buying patterns, time of day, or even seasonal trends by sending a message directly to the phone in their pocket.


No matter what route you take, early adapters will have the advantage. Ready to learn more about creating more intelligent and personalized marketing campaigns? Mobivity can help get you there. Schedule your personal call today!

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7 Ways You Can Use Google Trends to Bolster Your SEO Efforts

If you bought a fidget spinner last year, you could attract and hold people’s attention better than a Livestrong bracelet could in the mid-2000’s. But if you bought one today, you’d be a cliche. People would most likely give you a harsh glare and mentally patronize you for being “so 2017”.

In digital media, this is exactly how your audience feels when you spit out articles about fading trends. If the story isn’t juicy anymore, they won’t care to read it. Plus, they’ll probably categorize you in the same group as their dad — outdated and embarrassing.

Fortunately, marketers have access to a powerful tool that can solve this problem. It’s called Google Trends. And along with providing you current trends to freshen up your content, it can help you rank for more keywords and boost your organic traffic.

Since a query’s search popularity is a relative measurement, it’ll change when the query’s search volume or the total number of Google searches changes.

7 Ways You Can Use Google Trends to Bolster Your SEO Efforts

1. Create and optimize content for seasonal trends.

Seasonal trends are some of the most reliable and consistent topics to cover. They provide a deep bank of articles you can write about each year.

To take advantage of the surge of searches certain keywords will attract, you can create new content or optimize existing content about these topics when their popularity peaks.

But how do you know exactly when your query’s popularity will peak and avoid missing out on a surplus of searches?

If you run a baseball blog, for instance, you know baseball fans treat Opening Day as a sacred holiday. And after plugging the keyword “Opening Day” into Google Trends, you’ll see that its search popularity peaked during the week of March 25 – 31, the week of Opening Day.

With these insights, you’ll know which specific week you should publish Opening Day content.

But if you dive deeper into the Google Trends data and set your time frame as Opening Day week, you’ll see the keyword’s popularity doesn’t peak until March 29, the exact day of Opening Day.

Now, to garner as much organic traffic as possible, you know you should publish your Opening Day content on Opening Day, instead of a few days before or after.

2. Find trending topics to cover.

Covering current events keeps your audience informed. And the more knowledgable your audience is, the better they can do their jobs. They’ll also start relying on you more for their fix of timely stories.

To find trending topics, use Google Trend’s trending search tool. It’ll show you which queries people have searched for the most during the last 24 hours. You can also filter theses stories by category, like Business, Entertainment, Health, Sci/Tech, Sports, and Top Stories.

Since there will be a lot of stories about trending topics, though, you shouldn’t just take the same angle as everyone else. You won’t be able to stand out from the crowd. So try taking a contrarian view on a topic you know most of your competitors will cover with the same point-of-view. Your unique and refreshing spin will attract more of your audience’s attention and earn their clicks.

3. Make sure popularity spikes aren’t skewing a keyword’s search volume.

The problem with monthly search volume is that it calculates the average amount of times people search for a keyword every month. This can be problematic because outliers in data can heavily skew averages.

For instance, in 1985, the average starting salary for a geography major at the University of North Carolina was well over $100,000. Even today, that’d be one of the best starting salaries for any major.

But here’s the thing — Michael Jordan, a geography major at UNC, left the university in 1984 to sign a $1 million per year contract with the Chicago Bulls. If you take Jordan out of the equation in 1985, the average starting salary for geography majors at UNC was actually around $25,000.

Popularity spikes can impact a keyword’s monthly search volume just like Michael Jordan’s lucrative contract affected the average starting salary of a geography major at UNC.

Rebecca Black, for example, who is notorious for uploading one of the most disliked music videos in the history of YouTube, Friday, has a monthly search volume of 1,900.

But if you examine the search popularity of the keyword “Rebecca Black” in Google Trends, you’ll see that a huge popularity spike in early June has actually skewed the keyword’s monthly search volume. The current amount of people searching for Rebecca Black each month is probably much lower than 1,900.

In June of 2018, Rebecca Black competed on Fox’s The Four: Battle for Stardom. After keeping a low profile for seven years, her unexpected appearance on a nationally syndicated show, hosted by musical superstars like Fergie, P-Diddy, Meghan Trainor, and DJ Khaled, naturally prompted the explosion of searches for her name during this short time frame.

But after her elimination, the search popularity for the keyword “Rebecca Black” dropped back down to normal.

Keywords with high monthly searches are more realistic and valuable if their search popularity trend is steady or increasing. With this in mind, if you want to write an article about the current whereabouts of infamous one-hit wonders, Rebecca Black might not be your best subject.

4. Gauge the demand for your product or services in specific regions, cities, and metropolitan areas.

Your product or service won’t appeal to everyone, but if you can target the people whose living situation makes it more of a necessity, you’ll be able to spend your time and resources more efficiently.

For example, if you sell outerwear, checking the popularity of the keyword “winter jackets” in a specific region, city, and metropolitan area over a certain period of time will help you understand which audiences you should target.

And after finding the locations where your keyword is most popular, you can run Google AdWords campaigns in each location or optimize keywords in your content for each audience during times of high demand.

5. Pinpoint the root cause of a dip in organic traffic.

Sometimes, if one of your blog post’s organic traffic drops, it’s not always your content’s fault. The keyword it’s ranking for could’ve lost popularity amongst your audience. To accurately determine what’s causing your post’s organic traffic to slide, Google Trends can paint a clear picture for you.

By plugging the top keywords your post ranks for into Google Trends and checking its popularity trend over time, you’ll know whether you need to update your post or whether your audience lost interest in the keywords.

For instance, if the post’s top keywords’ popularity is steady or increasing, you need to update your post with fresher and more comprehensive information. If the keywords’ popularity is decreasing, your audience lost interest in the overarching topic. In that case, there’s not much you can do to boost your post’s organic traffic.

To learn more about salvaging your Google rankings before it’s too late, check out this blog post written by one of HubSpot’s senior SEO specialists, Aja Frost.

6. Find new, relevant long-tail keywords.

With its related queries feature, Google Trends is not only a keyword research tool but also a tool for developing your entire content strategy. After plugging in your keyword, Google Trends will display the top 20 trending related queries and the 25 most popular related queries.

You can then plug these related keywords into an SEO software, like Ahrefs or SEMrush, to check their keyword difficulty, search volume, and find even more related keywords. Ultimately, this process will help you cover trending and popular topics that can attract a ton of organic traffic.

Trending Related Queries for “Storytelling”

Most Popular Related Queries for “Storytelling”

7. Determine if a topic lends itself better to video.

If a keyword’s popularity on web search dips, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to scrap it from your entire content mix. A keyword that loses popularity on web search can actually gain popularity on YouTube search.

For instance, if you look at the Google Trends graph for “content marketing”, you’ll see its popularity on Google search has waned over the past year.

But if you plug “content marketing” into Google Trends for YouTube search, you’ll see that its popularity has climbed over the past year.

Only looking at the Google Trends graph for web search might make you think the keyword “content marketing” lost popularity in general, but its popularity just moved from Google to YouTube. In other words, “Content marketing” is still a valuable topic to cover. You should just make a video series about it, instead of writing articles about the topic.

How Ready Is Your Mobile Channel for the 2018 Holiday Shopping Season?

By Rafael Lourenco, EVP, ClearSale.

Now’s the time to make sure your store’s mobile experience and checkout are ready for the holidays. Shopify reports that more than half of all Thanksgiving 2017 e-commerce orders came from mobile devices, but cart abandonment is still higher on mobile than desktop. And CNP fraud attempts tend to increase during the holidays. How can you make your mobile site welcoming to holiday shoppers, but not fraudsters? Three key areas to focus on now are how quickly your store’s pages load, how convenient your mobile checkout process is, and how well your fraud program can handle holiday sales peaks.

Speed up your store’s page load times

In today’s m-commerce environment, simply having a responsive website is no longer enough. Mobile users expect the sites they visit to load almost immediately and they’re quick to abandon sites that don’t. Think with Google found that 40% of shoppers will leave a site that takes more than three seconds to load on their phones and nearly 80% won’t shop again with a store that provides a poor mobile experience. And that’s on a typical day.

On a peak sales day, like Black Friday, even major retailers face site slowdowns or even crashes due to heavy traffic. So now is the time to review your site’s performance, load times, and capacity to not only keep visitors from leaving before your pages load, but also to prevent crashes from sending customers to your competitors. To do this, you’ll need to talk with your IT team and your hosting service about how you can speed up your site and stay online even when a crowd of customers is visiting your store.

To get a quick snapshot of your store’s mobile page speed, Think with Google offers a Speed Scorecard and Impact Calculator. You can use the scorecard to compare your site speed to your competitors and you can see how small improvements in speed can yield more sales.

Reduce mobile cart abandonment

More people turn to their phones when it’s time to buy than ever before, which is why m-commerce is projected to have a CAGR of 24% between now and 2023. Despite this trend, the cart abandonment rate hovers around 75%, in part because many consumers give up when it’s time to check out. Review your shopping and checkout processes now to ensure they’re as friction-free as possible for mobile users.

Mobile shoppers tend to shy away from data entry on small screens whenever possible, and many are accustomed to 1-Click checkout on Amazon, which requires no data entry at all. To keep these shoppers from leaving your site and making their purchases from a competitor with a more convenient checkout process, eliminate customer registration requirements and focus on the must-have data—billing, shipping, and payment information.

Avoid holiday fraudsters and fraud-related bottlenecks

Retail e-commerce fraud is still rising, according to the 2018 LexisNexis True Cost of Fraud report, and the cost of fraud is higher for digital and physical goods sold through the mobile channel than for other retail channels. The report found that each dollar of m-commerce fraud costs digital-goods merchants $3.29 on average, compared to $2.78 per dollar of fraud for physical goods and $2.54 for retailers without a mobile channel.

Meanwhile, false declines ranged from 18% to 28% of orders, with digital goods retailers at the higher end of the range. These rejections of good orders are costly over the long-term, because many falsely declined customers won’t return. These facts are concerning year-round, but holiday sales peaks can make false declines increase if merchants don’t have enough capacity to manually review flagged orders. Overwhelmed retailers may be forced to choose between slower order screening, more completed fraud, or more false positives.

Take a look at your historical fraud rates by channel, including peak-season rates, to see how often your mobile channel has been targeted compared to your other channels. It’s also wise to review your false decline rates to see if they’ve spiked during past holiday seasons. If your mobile channel has been heavily targeted by fraudsters or has had more false declines or completed fraud during previous sales peaks, it’s time to upgrade your fraud prevention program and consider outsourcing your manual fraud review. Having outside experts take on this task during sales peaks can keep order decisions on pace while preventing fraud and reducing false declines.

By making your store easy to use on mobile devices, keeping your checkout process simple, and bolstering your peak-season fraud protection program, you can engage the growing number of consumers who prefer to shop on mobile, during the holidays and beyond. You’ll also be in a better position to fight fraud and keep your good customers year-round.

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Rafael Lourenco is Executive Vice President at ClearSale, a Card-Not-Present fraud prevention operation that protects e-commerce merchants against chargebacks. The company’s flagship product, Total Guaranteed Protection, is an end-to-end outsourced fraud detection solution for online retailers. Follow on twitter at @ClearSaleUS or visit http://clear.sale/

The post How Ready Is Your Mobile Channel for the 2018 Holiday Shopping Season? appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Loyalty a “Fertile Field” for Blockchain Providers

As blockchain providers and technicians look for ways to use the technology to benefit the loyalty industry, they should focus on how the technology will improve the loyalty ecosystem rather than the nuances of the technology, Bill Hanifin, Chief Executive Officer for the Wise Marketer Group and CEO of Hanifin Loyalty by Impact 21, told the audience at the Loyalty Live seminar in Chicago.

“It’s a fertile field for you,” Hanifin said, admitting that using blockchain to track customers, points, rewards and other aspects of loyalty program would present a challenge for many in the industry, but it could also represent a huge opportunity to improve many programs that aren’t producing the results that the providers or the program members want.

“Change is a constancy of life,” Hanifin said. Though for some change leads to panic, for those who take advantage of the benefits that change can bring, it represents a large opportunity. In the loyalty industry, one of the potential benefits would be to have some of the estimated 50-70 billion of unredeemed points converted to rewards, though there are some providers, like airlines, that see “breakage” as an advantage.

Hanifin pointed out that “loyalty” has changed, because companies can no longer wait until a consumer is a customer to build a relationship. Customers today are making their decisions about the companies they will do business with much earlier in the process, researching companies and products prior to purchasing. So loyalty providers have very little time to win a customer’s loyalty – rewards need to come quickly or a customer will leave. About 40% quit within the first 90 days.

Nadine Rubin, Daniel Gloede, Ned Moore, David Andreadakis, Steve Allmen on Loyalty Partnerships at #loyaltylive

Hanifin added that 4% of customers surveyed said they would not join a loyalty program, while 23% said that once they start doing business with a company they stay loyal. So seven in 10 consumers are willing to shift their business if a brand can offer better option(s).

Brands need to master mobile moments, Hanifin said. “Mobile is not just a channel, it’s a lifetime device for people to interact and redeem points.” He pointed to the example of Cumberland Farms, which provides loyalty members with a 10% discount if they use Paypal – thus saving the merchant on credit card interchange fees – and the loyalty app also turns on the gas pump. While pumping gas, the user may get an offer for a discount for something inside the store.

“Time and convenience are becoming the ultimate currency,” Hanifin said. “Technology enables, but strategy wins. There are endless possibilities for what you can do with block chain.”

Some of those possibilities were discussed in an earlier article in The Wise Marketer.

Phil Britt is a reporter for The Wise Marketer.

The post Loyalty a “Fertile Field” for Blockchain Providers appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

Build a Business Around Your Website: How to Set Your Project & Team Up for Success

The most critical part of cross-functional teams simultaneously executing on small and large projects is the right process. Proper setup and management include four key areas: team, time, tools, and process.

Earlier in this blog series, we talked about the basics in building a website and how to turn your wishes into an actual plan.

In this blog, I’ll cover the four key areas you should focus on to set your project and team up for success: team, time, tools, and process.

Team

We start with your team because it’s the most important. People write the code. People create the design. People manage customers. People that have families, lives, hobbies…

Remembering that people are the most important piece of the puzzle will keep you grounded in what matters and ensure you hit your timelines.

Having clear team roles and responsibilities is important to avoid confusion on who handles what. This means assigning someone to handle requests not related to the current project —such as support requests. If you already have a website or other digital products, this new build will not be the only thing that requires your team’s time. Having clear paths for other inbound requests will minimize the distractions (and delays) caused by managing big and small projects side by side in your sprints.

The team should include the following roles and responsibilities. Sometimes these responsibilities will be shared on one project, but it’s best to avoid if possible.

Product Owner

The product owner or (PO) leads product strategy and project management, as well as design and engineering prioritization.

Their job is to:

  • Ensure the team is happy and productive
  • Ensure the product plan chosen provides the optimal ROI for the business
  • Ensure that all requirements are clear
  • Ensure all assets required are provided when needed to hit the timeline
  • Communicate with and manage stakeholders
  • Set up the tools for UAT, QA, ticket tracking, asset organization, sprint planning, and stakeholder communications
  • Clear the road for the team to meet the target timelines
  • Ensure your team is happy and productive. This was repeated on purpose. A happy and productive team is the most important thing for product and project success.

Not sure what UAT or QA is?

UAT is short for User Acceptance Testing

QA is short for Quality Assurance.

First Comes QA
QA is done with the development and design team. The focus here is catching significant breaks in functionality or formatting. QA is meant to make sure everything is working properly before handing off for stakeholder UAT.

QA typically includes a regression test to check each feature and function detailed in the specification and previously available on the site to ensure it’s all working properly. Regression tests are a quick way to check each use case and note what passed and failed. A good regression test makes a difference between QA representing 5% and 40% of the project time.

I use Google Sheets for the regression plan and Google Forms for the reported issues. I then update the regression plan for the development and design team noting what has passed, failed and why.

Next Comes UAT

UAT is a form of QA focused on stakeholders, allowing them to go through the product or website the way they would naturally. I use Google Forms to collect feedback from stakeholders and Google Sheets to organize feedback into categories: functional, formatting, and content.

You might wonder why use so many tools to organize this information? Why not use JIRA?

  • First, I want to make it easy to collect user feedback.
  • Second, I want to avoid 250 JIRA tickets or Google Sheet comments.

Google forms are easy to complete on any device. JIRA is the tool for support requests and tickets for sprint planning. Prioritizing and organizing feedback directly in the regression plan or the JIRA tickets in the sprint will create a nightmare of confusing inputs. Using external tools, I can communicate with the stakeholder, make sure I understand the issue, then provide the details necessary to the dev or design team to prioritize and address each reported issue.

Technical Captain

The technical captain (or technical team lead) is in charge of the day to day management of your dev team.

Their job is to:

  • Present blockers in meeting timelines to the PO (including support requests or stakeholders breaking the process)
  • Present new functionality, needed or ideal, time estimates by function, and how that functionality would impact the timing
  • Schedule and manage development team project planning meetings for backlog grooming, sprint planning, and daily standups
  • Execute a defined aspect of the build
  • Represent the development team in stakeholder meetings

Design Captain

The design captain (or design team lead) is in charge of delivery for all project design needs.

Their job is to:

  • Present blockers in meeting timelines to the PO (including change requests or stakeholders breaking the process)
  • Present new design or information architecture, needed or ideal, and how that functionality would impact the timing
  • Schedule and manage design team project planning meetings for backlog grooming, sprint planning, and daily standups
  • Execute a defined aspect of the design
  • Represent the design team in stakeholder meetings

Support Captain

The support captain is in charge of managing all stakeholder and user support requests for existing sites or products.

Their job is to:

  • Review and respond to all inbound support requests
  • Fix any bugs in the existing site(s) or product(s)
  • Communicate the status of support requests back to stakeholders and customers
  • Monitor the timing of each support request (response, resolution, time waiting)
  • Escalate critical bugs they cannot handle to team backlog grooming sessions

It doesn’t matter if the team is four or 40, clear roles and responsibilities are critical to meeting product release schedules.

Time

Time comes next. Time management is the simplest but most overlooked part of project planning. Tools and processes impact time management, of course, but here are a few simple practices to reduce distractions.

  1. 15 Minute Meetings. Keep the meetings brief and to the point. If there isn’t a decision to be made, don’t schedule the meeting.
  2. < 1 Hour of Meetings Per Day. Keep the meetings to a maximum per day. Too many meetings dull the mind, and the team needs to be alert and productive.
  3. Blackout Times. Blackout times during the day for team members. Two to three-hour blocks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This will give them ample time to work through big problems and chunks of the project.

Tools

The tools you use should be flexible by project and team. Use what your team is comfortable with. I do not force all of the tools and processes I prefer on any team. Focus on the requirements and make the team part of the process. It’s important to be inclusive, and you’ll also learn from them.

Here is a list of the tools I use by requirement:

Requirement Tools
Internal Communications – 1 on 1 (< 4 messages) Slack, Instant Messenger
Internal Communications – 1 on 1 (> 4 messages) Call, Face to Face Chat
Internal Communications – 1 to many (> 4 messages) GoToMeeting, Face to Face Meeting
External Stakeholder Daily / Needs Communications Email
External Stakeholder Planning Communications GoToMeeting, Face to Face Meeting
UAT – Stakeholder Feedback Google Forms
UAT – Feedback Organization for Team Google Sheets
QA – Regression Test Google Sheets
QA – Feedback Organization for Team JIRA, Google Sheets
Sprint Planning and Monitoring JIRA, Google Sheets
Backlog Grooming and Monitoring JIRA, Google Sheets
Daily Standups (communications) JIRA, Giant Whiteboard, Trello
Progress Tracking JIRA, Google Sheets
Support Request Management & Monitoring JIRA, Google Sheets

 

Enforcing or reinforcing the processes are a key part of the POs job. Once the project has started, for the most part, your job consists of keeping the train on the tracks and clearing the paths.

Keeping the Train on the Tracks

Daily Standups

Daily standups are your most important tool in understanding if the train will be on time and if not—what’s getting in its way. During the standups, each team member should be reporting what’s done, next, any blockers, and anything out of the process. Out of the process refers to stakeholders sending them direct messages about a change to the project or an existing product.

Review progress after daily standups to identify any barriers in meeting goals. Product and project management means paying attention to potential delays. Listen to complaints about blockers or communications issues with stakeholders. Look at what each person is working on and make sure it’s critical to this phase of the project. Many talented people work ahead. Their mind goes off to the ideal, and they forget what’s needed and who’s waiting. It’s the POs job to make sure the team is focused.

Clearing the Tracks

Clearing the tracks means being a great filter. No requests, “bugs” that aren’t really bugs, it’s your job as PO to clear as many things from the tracks as you can to eliminate clutter in the team’s slack, email, or mind.

Here are some examples of dos and don’ts that are useful for setting expectations and transparent processes for stakeholders and team members. The example is based on a company that has several websites used by their marketing and product teams.

TOPIC PROCESS
Content DOs:

  • Ensure your CMS power user (PU) has been consulted first
  • Include your CMS PU on the request
  • Submit requests in Google Form = provide the link
  • If questions, contact PO in Slack
  • Questions to be answered by stakeholder
    • What needs to be updated?
    • Is design required?
    • Has anyone on your team tried to update in CMS? (why/why not/result)

DONTs:

  • Submit a support ticket
  • Communicate directly with development or design staff—they will not respond

What’s a content request? Any request that will adjust text, an image, or the formatting of a text or image on the site including capitalization, bolding, or a URL.

Bugs DOs:

  • Ensure all of the following items are included = (Required)
    • Steps to repeat
    • Device + browser
    • Screenshots or screen recording
    • Prioritization + justification for prioritization (Remember: everything you work on is a P1 for you. However, everything can’t be a P1 for design or development.)

DONTs:

  • Communicate directly with design or development staff—they will not respond

What’s a bug? A bug is a functionality that is broken such as a form not loading or a page showing a 404 error.

New Requests & New Projects DOs:

  • Use a form for any new requests. In this form, you want to ask for critical information to understand the nature and priority of the request.

DONTs:

  • Communicate directly with design or development staff—they will not respond

What’s a new request or project? It is any new functionality for a page or the site including a new link in the navigation, a new landing page for demand gen campaigns or a new rating integration for a product review page.

 

Sharing the Load

Sharing information across sprint planning, support planning, and reporting, and project planning with the team exposes them to the details important to the success of the project. It also gives them authority in the group and experience that’s valuable to their professional development.

Team

Yes, I am repeating team. There’s nothing more important than your team.

Here are a few of the things that I do to make sure the team is happy:

  1. Be inclusive. Include your team in as much of the process as they’d like. While I don’t want to drown them in meetings—if exposure to stakeholders is important to them I make sure they are included and recognized.
  2. Professional development. Speak with them often about their goals and how the projects they are working on are—or are not—meeting those goals. Showing a genuine interest in their professional development is important to their productivity and loyalty to the company and you.
  3. Share the load. Sharing the load across sprint planning, support planning, and reporting, and project planning with the team exposes them to the details important to the success of the project. It also gives them authority in the group and experience that’s valuable to their professional development.
  4. It’s a marathon. Do everything you can to avoid 12 hour days and working weekends. That’s not sustainable, and it shouldn’t be accepted as the norm. Avoid rushed or tired work.
  5. The little things. The little things matter to people. Breakfast if there’s an early day or lunch during long work weeks. Bring their favorite snacks and drinks into meeting rooms. Be thoughtful about what’s important to them.

A lot can happen once you start a project. We’ve given you the foundation for a successful build, and in my next post, I will walk you through the day to day to preparing for a commercial launch.

The post Build a Business Around Your Website: How to Set Your Project & Team Up for Success appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Top 28 Examples of Unique Construction Business Cards

The construction industry focuses on the execution of thoughtful designs, so construction business cards should reflect that to help attract potential customers. However, many contractors tend to limit their business card designs to classic colors and images that fail to stand out. To help inspire you, we’ve compiled a list of examples to follow. Here…

The post Top 28 Examples of Unique Construction Business Cards appeared first on Fit Small Business.

"The Robin Hood of Algorithms": Why LinkedIn's New Feed Could Be a Game Changer for Marketers

LinkedIn announced today that it plans to overhaul its feed ranking system to help more creators get better engagement on the content they share.

The changes were spurred when the professional networking site discovered that the top 1% of content creators — also known as “power users,” or perhaps influencers — were receiving the vast majority of engagement with their posts.

Meanwhile, the remaining 98%, the site says, was “receiving less [engagement] than ever.”

Here’s how that skew in engagement happened — and how LinkedIn has changed its algorithm to address the problem.

Why LinkedIn Changed Its Feed Ranking Algorithm

Year over year, LinkedIn has experienced noticeable growth in overal engagement with posts appearing in its feed — an average increase of over 50%, the company says. 

Much of the time, that engagement results in a post going viral — that is, LinkedIn members engage with certain posts to the point where the content earns “tens of millions” of likes, comments, and reshares.

On the surface, that seems like a positive development. But, LinkedIn says, there was a problem: The engagement was not evenly distributed, and the site was “in danger of creating an economy where all the gains in viral actions accrued to the top 1% power users.”

Typically, the most popular posts on any social network tend to gain more visibility, which is what was happening to content shared by top influencers.

Emerging brands and content creators, meanwhile, were actually receiving less and less engagement on their posts.

Source: LinkedIn

Besides the obvious issue of this uneven distribution of causing the “richest” content creators on the site — the influencers who already have a large following — to become “richer,” the lack of engagement with the remaining 98% of followers was actually discouraging them from posting again in the future.

That only exacerbated the virality gap, as less content-sharing altogether from the bottom 98% would lead to more eyes on posts from top influencers.

So, LinkedIn formulated a solution.

Why Linkedin’s New Algorithm Could Be a Game-Changer for Marketers

The changes to LinkedIn’s new ranking criteria is multi-fold.

Prior to this overhaul, the feed would prioritize posts according to how likely a given viewer was to engage with it — to like, comment on, or reshare it. That model also took into account the given viewer’s network, and how likely it was to respond to this content in kind.

What was missing was how likely the creator or poster of that content was to “appreciate” the engagement. To put that discrepancy into context, LinkedIn’s Bonnie Barrilleaux and Dylan Wang — who authored the company’s announcement — explain that for major influencers within “the top 1% of creators, one more like or comment from an unknown follower may not mean much.”

For smaller or emerging content creators, however, these likes and comments go a long away. According to Barrilleaux and Wang’s findings, creators who receive 10 or more likes on their content are 17% more likely to post again in the following week. 

That’s why the feed algorithm has been modified to include signals that indicate how much value the creator will place on viewer feedback received on a post. 

“The effect is that we are redistributing a little bit of the attention in the system from the power users to the other creators, so that no one is left behind,” write Barrilleaux and Wang. “This helps ensure that the ‘small’ creators who create high-quality posts can reach out to the community that cares about them.”

creatoroptimization3

Source: LinkedIn

Additionally, LinkedIn’s algorithm changes appear to be moving in a similar direction as that of Facebook, when the social media giant overhauled its News Feed to prioritize content from family and friends over that from Pages.

We’ve already covered the three pillars that LinkedIn’s new model takes into account when ranking creator content:

  1. How likely a viewer is to engage with a creator’s post
  2. How much that viewer’s network will want to see it
  3. How much the original creator will appreciate the first 10 likes of that post

But there could be a fourth, according to the figure below — which is whether or not the content creator is within the viewer’s network. 

creatoroptimization5

Source: LinkedIn

It’s also possible that these moves from LinkedIn could serve as a subtle nod to the drop in Business Page engagement and reach experienced by brands on Facebook — for some, a decline of 50%. 

LinkedIn’s algorithm change — especially within the context of boosting engagement for smaller, emerging content creators — does spark the question: Is this the company’s way of giving smaller brands and figures a chance to shine on another network, where it may have lost reach on another one?

Perhaps. But more than that, says HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar, LinkedIn is also responding to a growing user demand for a relevant, personalized experience.

“LinkedIn’s core job is to great a valuable experience for all users. Once a news feed becomes dominated by a small subset of users, then it starts to become less valuable to the broader community,” Bodnar explains. “The company is trying to deliver more value through more personalization.”

So, what kind of impact will this have on the bigger influencers — the top 1% of content creators on LinkedIn?

According to Barrilleaux and Wang, it won’t be much, pointing back to the overall growth in engagement received by all posts in LinkedIn’s feed.

“Taking 8% of the likes away from the top 0.1% still leaves them better off than they were a year ago,” they write. “These changes just help ensure that the rising tide is lifting all the boats in a fair and equitable fashion.”

But should this trend continue, LinkedIn could move further in the direction of Facebook, and re-allocate a growing amount of post engagement from top creators to emerging ones.

“This might not be a huge impact on top creators today but I think that over time they will continue to push in this direction,” says Bodnar. “The audience for posts from top creators could continue to decrease.”

LinkedIn says it will continue to observe and optimize its algorithm as these changes take effect.