Subdomain or Subdirectory? What They Are & How They Affect SEO

One of the most heated debates that I’ve been apart of is when I was arguing with my best friend that Taylor Swift is a good dancer.

The first thing you should know about me is that Taylor Swift is my favorite artist, so you’d have a hard time convincing me she’s bad at anything (because she isn’t).

That’s how I imagine the debate is between two search engine optimizers who debate whether subdomains or subdirectories are better for SEO.

As a marketer, that debate can cause confusion.

Below, let’s review the differences between a subdomain and subdirectory and how they affect SEO.

Essentially, it’s all about site hierarchy.

A subdomain can be used if portions of your site are extensive enough that they need a separate hierarchy. When it comes to a subdirectory, though, all portions of your site branch off of the main domain.

So, how can a company use a subdomain? Below are the most common ways:

1. Support: Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to have your customer support on your main site. For instance, Google uses support.google.com instead of google.com/support. The main reason is probably because of the site structure. Since Google is a search engine, it wouldn’t make sense to have its support as a subdirectory.

2. Different Regions: If you serve multiple regions, whether nationally or internationally, using a subdomain would be a good idea. If you had a site in German and one in English, it wouldn’t make sense to list those as subdirectories. For instance, Craigslist uses subdomains for the different regions it serves. Here are two of its subdomain sites: orangecounty.craigslist.org/ or stgeorge.craigslist.org/.

3. Blog: Many companies choose to have their blog as a subdomain. In fact, that’s what HubSpot does. If you’ll notice, the page you’re on right now is a blog.hubspot.com page. However, this specific article is in the Marketing subdirectory of the blog.hubspot.com subdomain. Sites choose to have their blog as a subdomain if they want to create a distinction between the blog and the rest of the site. Additionally, a subdomain is useful for a blog if you want to create a niche authority.

4. Ecommerce Store: For companies that sell merchandise, in addition to their regular product or service, they can put their ecommerce store on a subdomain. For instance, that’s what HubSpot does. Besides the main products, merchandise is available at shop.hubspot.com.

5. Events: If your company hosts events, it might be a good idea to partition that section of your site into a subdomain. Again, this is helpful when you want to distinguish a section of your site from your regular product or service. Microsoft does this with its events.microsoft.com.

Ultimately, subdomains are still a part of a website, but when a search engine goes to index those pages, they’re considered a separate entity. Below, let’s dive into how these affect SEO.

How do Subdomains and Subdirectories Affect SEO?

Some SEO experts believe that Google’s crawlers could confuse a subdomain for an entirely different website from the main domain. However, Google says its crawlers can recognize subdomains as extensions of parent domains.

According to Google, the site crawls, indexes, and ranks subdomains and subdirectories the same.

In the video below, Google Webmasters Trends Analyst John Mueller says, subdomains generally don’t hurt a site’s rankings. In fact, he says Google is smart enough to see your main domain and subdomain as being tied to the same website.

However, plenty of SEO experts still disagree with using subdomains.

Critics argue that subdomains will steal links from and hurt the organic reach of your main site. For instance, the theory is that since subdomains are considered a separate entity, inbound links to your subdomain won’t provide any value to your site.

Additionally, if you’re optimizing pages for the same keywords on your main site and subdomain, you could be competing against yourself.

On the other hand, supports of subdomains argue that subdomains make it easier to navigate your site. Ultimately, this leads to a better user experience, which could result in better engagement rates, therefore improving your SEO.

Additionally, subdomains can be beneficial if you have a large corporation and your subdomains serve a different purpose and essentially function as a separate business.

For example, Disney has subdomains such as cars.disney.com, shop.disney.com, and movies.disney.com.

Since these subdomains serve very different purposes, it doesn’t matter whether the critics are right, because they probably aren’t targeting the same keywords.

According to supporters, another benefit is that subdomains can help build niche authority. For instance, you might want your blog to be considered a separate entity from your product or service.

Conversely, if your site doesn’t have any extensive verticals on your navigation, then you might not need to use a subdomain because you want as many links going back to your main site as possible. If you don’t have a compelling reason to use subdomains, then subdirectories work just fine.

Although this topic can often be confusing, ultimately the decision depends on your website’s needs. Subdomains can provide organization and structure to your site for complicated site hierarchies. If you don’t have the need, then using a subdirectory can help bring all the “link juice” to your main domain.

The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2020

During the 1950s, Volkswagen sold a bus. Although now considered a classic vehicle, the bus remains an icon for the car company decades later.

The cool part? Volkswagen announced their new VW Bus — it’s electric and features sleek, modern styling. Volkswagen’s marketing for the vehicle is eye-catching, unique, and fun, and it complements the original “hippie” vibe the company was once known for.

Source

Volkswagen also released a TV commercial for the bus that’s clever, minimalist, and on-brand. It introduces the new vehicle with the song The Sound of Silence playing in the background (hint: electric cars are silent) and ends with a short message on the screen for viewers to read: “Introducing a new era of electric driving.”

This sentiment touches on the fact Volkswagen is contributing to society’s interest in electric, eco-friendly vehicles. It also relates to this being a new era for the bus.

So, who works on this type of marketing? Who helps create content that excites consumers about new and updated products, like the Volkswagen bus? Who encourages consumers to buy? Product marketers.

What makes product marketing unique? How is it different from conventional marketing? Let’s unpack the differences.

Product Marketing vs. Conventional Marketing

Product marketing is strategic whereas conventional marketing is all-encompassing.

Product marketing is considered a component of conventional marketing. In fact, if you look at the seven Ps of marketing, you’ll see product marketing is one of the most important aspects of a business’s marketing efforts.

Product marketing is focused on driving demand for and adoption of a product among existing customers. It’s focused on the steps people take to purchase your product so product marketers can build campaigns to support this work.

Product marketing is about understanding a specific product’s audience on a deep level and developing that product’s positioning and messaging to appeal to that audience. It covers the launch and execution side of a product in addition to the marketing strategy for the product — which is why the work of a product marketer lies at the center of a business’s marketing, sales, and product teams.

venn diagram with marketing sales and product for product marketing

Conventional marketing is focused on broader topics under the umbrella of marketing such as lead generation, SEO, and anything related to acquiring and converting new leads and customers. It’s about promoting the company and brand as a whole, including the products that are sold. These marketers make sure there’s a consistent, on-brand message behind all of the company’s content.

Why is product marketing important?

Product marketing is a critical part of any business’s marketing strategy. Without it, your product won’t achieve its maximum potential among your target audience. Let’s look at what product marketing does so you get a better idea of that I mean by this.

  • Understand your customers better.
  • Target your buyer personas effectively.
  • Learn about your competitors (products and marketing tactics).
  • Ensure the marketing, product, and sales teams are all on the same page.
  • Position the product appropriately in the market.
  • Boost revenue and improve sales.

There are also questions you, as a product marketer, will have to ask yourself and reflect on in regards to your product. Asking yourself these questions will help you ensure your product is a success among customers.

  • Is this product suitable for today’s market?
  • Is this product appropriate for our customers today?
  • How is this product unique from similar products of our competitor’s?
  • Is there a way to further differentiate this product from those of our competitor’s?
  • Are there any products we’ve sold in the past that we wouldn’t market or sell ever again now that we look back? Is so, why not?

As you can see, product marketing requires you to look at your products from a strategic perspective to ensure they’re successful among customers in your current market.

Now, let’s take a look at the specific responsibilities you have as a product marketer (or product marketing manager).

Your responsibilities as a product marketer may vary slightly based on industry, company, products, and company size and resources. If you’re working for a startup, you may be a product marketer who also helps create the content the broader marketing team produces due to limited resources and budget. As the business grows, you may move onto a team whose sole job is product marketing.

Let’s take a look at six common product marketing responsibilities.

1. Identify the buyer personas and target audience for your product.

You must identify the buyer personas and audience for your product so you can target customers in a way that’s convincing and makes them want to make a purchase. This will allow you to tailor your product and its features to solve for the challenges your audience is facing.

Use templates to create buyer personas for your business.

2. Successfully create, manage and carry out your product marketing strategy.

A product marketing strategy (which we’ll review shortly) allows you to create, build, and execute content and campaigns — this supports the steps that will lead your buyer personas and customers to make a purchase.

3. Work with and enable sales to attract the right customers for your new product.

As a product marketer, you have to maintain a direct relationship with sales. You’ll work with sales to identify and attract the right customers for the product at hand and provide sales enablement materials to reps to ensure they understand the product inside and out, along with all of its features.

This way, you and your teams are on the same page in terms of what’s being shared with customers, allowing you to provide a consistent, on-brand experience for anyone who comes in contact with the product.

4. Determine your product’s positioning in the market.

One of the most important parts of your job is determining the product’s positioning in the market. Think about this process in terms of storytelling — your positioning requires you to create and tell the story of your product.

As a product marketer, you’ll work with the broader marketing team and the product team to tell this story by answering critical questions like:

  • Why was this product made?
  • Who is this product made for?
  • What challenges does this product resolve?
  • What makes this product unique?

5. Ensure your product meets the needs of your target audience.

You must also make sure your product meets the needs of your customers and target audience. Through the research conducted to determine your buyer persona’s and target audience, you should have uncovered the pain points and challenges you’re working to solve with your product.

If your product doesn’t meet the needs of your customers, they’ll have no reason to make the purchase or choose your product over your competitor’s.

6. Keep your product relevant over time.

Your product needs to stay relevant over time. As needs, expectations, and challenges change and evolve, it’s your job to make sure your product marketing strategy, and the products themselves, remain relevant among customers.

This means you may have to manage slight changes in your product marketing strategy (which we’ll discuss next), or updates and modifications to the product itself (you’ll likely work with the product team, who actually creates the product, to do this).

Now, let’s take a look at five steps that can help you optimize your product marketing strategy.

1. Define your product’s target audience and buyer personas.

As mentioned, one of the main roles you have as a product marketer is to define a specific target audience and create buyer personas for the specific product being sold (different products will likely have different target audiences). This the first step to marketing your product.

By understanding your customers and their needs, challenges, and pain points, you’ll be able to ensure all aspects of your product marketing strategy (as in, the rest of the steps we’ll define below) are tailored to that target customer and persona. This way, the product and the marketing content that’s created for the product will resonate with your audience.

2. Determine the positioning and messaging to set your product apart.

After performing your customer research and learning about your audience, you’ll have identified their needs, challenges, and pain points. From here, you can think about how to highlight the ways your product resolves those challenges for your customers.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve differentiated yourself from your competitors. After all, they are your competitors because they solve the needs of your customers in a similar way to your company.

The key to setting your product apart is positioning (which we touched on earlier) and messaging. Positioning and messaging answers key questions your customers might have about your product and what makes it unique and then turns those answers into the main points behind your product’s marketing strategy.

It’s your job as the product marketer to ensure your customers and audience know the answers to these questions and don’t have to dig around for (or make assumptions about) them.

Examples of questions you’ll need to answer to develop your product’s positioning and messaging include:

  • What specifically makes our product unique?
  • Why is our product better than our competitors’?
  • Why are our product’s features ideal for our target audience?
  • What will our customers get out of our product that they cannot get from our competitors’ products?
  • Why should our customers trust and invest in us and our product?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you can compile these responses into one, impactful, and shareable statement that captures your positioning and messaging as a whole. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Turn the answers to the positioning and messaging questions into an elevator pitch.
  • Use action words to excite your customers.
  • Ensure the tone of your statement captures the tone of your brand.
  • Focus on the benefit of your product as a whole (not just one specific feature).

And if you need more guidance, check out the HubSpot Marketing Hub product page. The main positioning and messaging statement reads as follows: “All-in-One Inbound Marketing Software: Everything you need to launch effective marketing campaigns that make people interested in your business and happy to be your customer.”

Tip: As product marketers, you should ensure the sales, product, and (the broader) marketing teams are also aware of your positioning and messaging around the product so they too can communicate the same information to prospects and current customers.

This allows you to ensure the entire company is consistent in the content and information they share about your product. Additionally, you can provide this information to your support team if you think it’s necessary, as they may be fielding support calls and working with your customers who’ve already invested in the product.

3. Set goals for your product.

Next, you’ll want to set goals for your product. These will vary based on your specific product, the type of company you work for, your overall marketing goals, and more — your goals will be specific to your business and situation. However, let’s review some common goals product marketers aim to achieve:

  • Increase revenue
  • Engage with customers
  • Improve market share
  • Gain customers from competitors
  • Boost brand recognition

Tip: Feel free to combine several of these goals or just choose one to focus on — every company and product will have different goals. The key is making sure you view and set these targets in the SMART goal format, meaning they’re specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

Use a free template to help you create and achieve your SMART goals.

4. Price your product.

As a product marketer, you’ll also have to contribute to the discussion of the price of your product. Depending on the company you work for, you might work with other teams on this part of the strategy, or it might be a job just for you and your fellow product marketers. Either way, you can consider competitive vs. value-based pricing.

Competitive vs. Value-Based Product Pricing

Competitive pricing means you’re basing your product’s price off of the similar products your competitors sell. It’s ideal for companies who have created a product similar to one that several other companies sell.

If you believe your unique features warrant a significantly higher price than those of your competitors’, you might choose to price your product above the other similar products on the market. A good way to evaluate the fairness of the pricing of all of your competitors is by studying financial reports and industry trends.

Value-based pricing allows you to maximize your profit, although it’s a bit more time-consuming to establish in comparison to competitive pricing. It’s ideal for companies selling a product with very few competitors on the market or one with exceptionally new and unique features.

Value-based pricing quantifies your item’s value in a way your customer can relate to their profitability. It allows you to base your product’s price on its value for your customer rather than whatever the market, industry trends, and your competitors say.

5. Launch your product.

Now it’s time for the most important part of your role as a product marketer — not to mention, the most exciting: the launch of the product you’ve been marketing.

There are two main parts to the launch to focus on as a product marketer: the internal launch (what goes on within your company upon product launch) and external launch (what goes on outside of your company, with customers and audience members, upon product launch).

Internal Aspects of a Product Launch

As previously stated, your job as a product marketer entails making sure the entire organization is on the same page about your product. This way, your customers only receive consistent and accurate details about the product.

The marketing, product, and sales teams at your company should be aware of the following information:

  • The product’s benefits
  • Any available product demo information
  • Sales training opportunities on your product and details about how it’s used
  • What the positioning and messaging looks like
  • Who your buyer personas and ideal customers are
  • What the goals for your product include
  • What your product’s features are
  • The pricing of your product
  • How your product is being launched to customers (which we’ll discuss momentarily)

Now, you might be wondering how to provide this information to marketing, product, and sales. Which channels are ideal for sharing these details with your fellow employees?

Here are a few examples of ways to do this:

External Aspects of a Product Launch

Externally, there are many ways to market your product launch so your current base of customers, prospects, and target audience learn about whatever it is you’re selling.

First, determine where you’re going to focus your product marketing efforts. Here are some examples of channels and places to do this (you might choose several of these or just one to focus on depending on your needs, goals, and resources).

  • Social media
  • In-store
  • Product launch event
  • Blog
  • Website landing page
  • Exclusive product preview (prior to the official launch)
  • Promotional event/ campaign (in-person and/ or online)

On whatever channel you choose to focus your product launch marketing efforts, you should include relevant product information (focused on your positioning and messaging) so prospects and customers can learn all about your product and why they need it. This includes your product’s features, what makes it unique, pricing, demos for customers, training for customers, and any other materials you’ve created and want to share.

Congrats! You’ve just worked through the steps to marketing a product. Remember, this process is one that should be thought about and updated as your products change and evolve so they remain relevant among your customers. (This shouldn’t be an issue as long as you have a member of your team focused on product marketing, considering it’s one of their main responsibilities.)

Let’s review four real-life examples of stellar product marketing.

1. Apple

Apple is a household name for leading technology products and software. Not only are its products gorgeously well-designed; they’re also super useful. But Apple’s product marketing doesn’t focus on the many product features — they market the user benefits.

product marketing example apple product benefitsSource

Apple doesn’t simply list the impressive features of their products; it uses those features to tell consumers who they could be and how they could work if they purchased those products. They tell a narrative using their products and encourage people to buy in the process.

2. Billie

Billie is a women’s razor brand. In a highly competitive market, Billie has helped its products stand out. How? It established a sharp competitive edge (no pun intended) by doing what no razor brand had done before — show body hair in its advertising.

product marketing example billie body hair campaignSource

Not only did this advertising approach get Billie’s audience talking about the brand, but they also appreciated the brand’s accurate portrayal of women’s bodies and body hair. These differentiators were more than enough to set Billie apart from other razor brands and products.

3. Coca-Cola

Did you know that over 95% of people around the world recognize Coca-Cola and its red and white branding? This comes as no surprise when you notice that most people order a “Coke” when purchasing a soft drink or cola. In fact, the brand recognition is so strong that Coca-Cola’s competitor Pepsi used the narrative in its Super Bowl advertising.

Through highly targeted positioning, repetitive advertising, and consistent branding, Coca-Cola has become a truly global household name and product.

4. MailChimp

There are dozens of email marketing tools on the market, but MailChimp hasn’t been fazed by competition. In fact, its risen above their competition by positioning itself as more than an email marketing tool: it’s an all-in-one marketing platform that helps businesses grow.

product marketing example mailchimpSource

Like Apple, MailChimp primarily highlights its benefits for the end user, not just its product features. A recent rebranding and site redesign further drives this narrative home.

Start Marketing Your Products

Product marketing is the process through which a company brings a product to market. Being a product marketer (or product marketing manager) means you’re at the center of your company’s marketing, sales, and product teams.

You’re an integral part to the success of your product, as you create and manage your product’s specific marketing strategy, but you also serve as a liaison between all three of these departments, ensuring everyone is on the same page with your product, it’s features, capabilities, and more. So, start developing your latest product’s marketing strategy to ensure it’s a success among your target audience and customers.

This post was originally published in February 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Marketing Nation Community Is Now Upgraded | Why You Should Join It

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Marketing is a dynamic, continuously evolving process that has changed dramatically over the past years. It is easy to fall behind when so many trends and solutions emerge frequently on a regular basis. How does one keep current with the latest updates in marketing and continue growing professionally? 

Marketing Nation Community is the answer. Ask questions, share your best practices and lessons learned, and together, help each other get the most out of Marketo.

Having access to a powerful and supportive community is what helps us grow and develop professionally. Marketing Nation Community gives you an opportunity to connect with other Marketo users, open support tickets, exchange ideas and best practices, as well as grow your brand and career. In addition to all these benefits, you can also contribute to Marketo’s product roadmap by providing feedback or submitting ideas.

We are excited to announce that we’ve launched a brand new, improved version of the Marketing Nation Community. User interface, search, navigation, forum structure, gamification, and more are now significantly improved, resulting in a superior experience.

Check out what has changed in the Marketing Nation Community:

Quick access to the search bar: Search is important – we know that it’s the first thing most of our customers look for when visiting the Community. In our new communities, the search bar is magnified to make it even easier to access.

Lighter dropdown navigation structure: We’ve changed the navigation bar to drop down automatically and hyperlinked key areas, so you can visit more places with less clicking. These updates also simplified cross-community navigation for customers interested in learning across the Adobe Experience Cloud portfolio.

Cleaner forums interface: By working closely with our customers and internal stakeholders, we have significantly upgraded the browsing experience. All of our pages have been re-designed with an improved forum layout, more visual iconography, better spacing, and a cleaner font.

Universal search: With a newly integrated universal search engine, customers can perform keyword searches across all Marketo properties, including the Marketing Nation Community, Marketo Product Docs, and the Marketo Help Center.

We can’t wait for you to experience the Marketing Nation Community firsthand and reap all the benefits.

The post Marketing Nation Community Is Now Upgraded | Why You Should Join It appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

DTC, SEO & Sexy Content ROI

We had a bad client call last week.

The client is a sexy DTC start-up. They had asked us to put together an editorial strategy to improve their ability to target potential customers via SEO, but when we presented our recommendations which were primarily focused on high-intent-to-purchase queries, the CEO’s first question was “Why can’t we make sexy content like Goop, Away Travel, Food52 and Casper?”

Instead of targeting things you would ask before you bought the product, he wanted more “interesting” content that people would bond with. For example, if we were targeting people in the market for laptops, we wanted to target “what is a good laptop for everyday use?” and he wanted to target “best coffee shops in West Hollywood to work from,” with the idea that the person doing that search is their target customer and they would appreciate the brand’s POV on where they should hang out.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with his approach. It’s just a much longer, indirect play that targets a broad audience, most of which will likely not be in the market for his product any time soon. This is the kind of strategy Mercedes employs when it starts marketing to children so that when they grow up and have cash, they’ll subconsciously desire their cars. But it definitely helps to be Mercedes. And it definitely helps that Mercedes has money to burn.

But IMO this is not a great SEO strategy to get results in the near term.

There are plenty of good non-SEO reasons to invest in content, but if you are looking to rank well in Google for intent-to-buy queries, you’ll want to consider how well search intent aligns with your brand strategy. Looking at the DTC brands our client mentioned, you can see their content & SEO strategies are not all alike:

AwayTravel.com: Targeting The Top of The Funnel

According to SEMRush, AwayTravel.com gets almost no non-branded organic traffic. They do rank well for “carry on luggage,” but I believe that is mostly because one of their products is called “The Carry On Luggage.” They don’t appear to rank on page one of Google for any other significant non-brand queries and get barely any non-brand organic traffic:

AwayTravel.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

It appears they put all of their “brand” content on https://www.heremagazine.com/ which according to SEMRush gets ~8K SEO visits/month from queries like “la to oregon road trip.” According to Ahrefs.com, they have done an aggressive backlinking program to this site over the past 6 months (4K+ links):

It looks like they have published north of 700 articles. Away branding on this site is almost invisible. I’d argue they get virtually no business directly from it. I am guessing the role of this site is to get email addresses so they can market the luggage to subscribers.

FOOD52.com & GOOP.com: When Brand Strategy Aligns With Search Intent

The folks at Food52 are either SEO geniuses or just lucky because they picked a niche where “brand” content – recipes, travel, home design, etc. – aligns perfectly with search queries like “matcha shortbread cookies” or “things to do in hudson, ny“:

Food52.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

If you wanted to start a DTC business with an SEO strategy, you’d want to figure out a niche like Food52’s where the brand and the search intent are one and the same.

Goop.com
Goop is similar to Food52 in that it publishes a ton of content much of which is designed to lead you to a product, such as this post on why you’re not losing weight, which basically pitches their products as the cure. It also publishes City Guide content like https://goop.com/city-guide/the-mini-los-cabos-guide/ that ranks for “cabo itinerary,” which could hit travelers as they are planning a trip and might be in the mindset to buy a travel kit from them. Like with Food52, the travel part of this is not a bad SEO strategy if you are willing to invest in a ton of content plus promotion (aka links) and are looking to use this is as an awareness builder. Goop’s non-brand traffic looks pretty good:

Goop.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

CASPER.com: The Opposite of Sexy


Casper feels almost 100% focused on “SEO” v “brand.” Most of their “brand” content lives on their blog, and much of the content appears to be focused on not-very-competitive keywords somewhat related to sleeping such as “what to do in the middle of the night,”  “plants in bedroom benefits,” etc. Most of these have low search volume, but you can see how someone might find Casper through these queries. This is not a bad strategy, but it’s not one we would choose as a primary SEO strategy, and I don’t think it’s Casper’s real SEO strategy.

Casper is prioritizing decidedly non-sexy “intent to buy” queries like “queen mattress size” and “how often should I replace my mattress.” According to the SEMRush data, https://casper.com/mattress-size-comparison-guide/ generates more than 50% of Casper’s non-brand traffic.

While Casper’s mattress size page looks about as sexy as Rudy Giuliani,

(sorry) it’s SEO performance looks super sexy to me:

Casper.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

I would argue Casper may be over-reliant on a small number of URLs to do their SEO work. If that mattress-size page gets displaced in the SERPs, I wonder what that would do to their business.

So when you are thinking about investing in sexy content, before you pull the trigger, make sure you know exactly what you want that content to do for you. If it’s for social media, brand-building, etc., make it as sexy as you possibly can. But if it’s for SEO, make sure it’s at least targeting some sexy search queries.

The post DTC, SEO & Sexy Content ROI appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

Loyalty Newswire – February 3rd, 2020

Here’s what we’re following in loyalty news: Zeamo rewards incentivizes healthy employee lifestyles, Cubic reveals loyalty program for public transit, Tim Horton’s franchisees fire back at free donuts and coffee, crypto takes precedence in congressional hearing, Zelle is thriving, Remitly launches digital banking for immigrants, Atari announces video game themed hotels, Choice Hotels rewards golfers, retail and resale can may have to coexist, retailers are filing for bankruptcy not once but twice, and airlines struggle to serve both the casual and the frequent flyer.

And if you missed it, here’s last week’s loyalty newswire.

LOYALTY PROGRAM NEWS:

Zeamo Rewards Program to Incentivize Employee Fitness

Quotable: “Employee wellness programs have become a must-have benefit for attracting and retaining talent, and for keeping employees healthy, both mentally and physically. Employee fitness has proven to increase productivity while reducing illness, absenteeism, and presenteeism (employees who show up sick and are therefore less productive). Even more tangible, better employee fitness could reduce U.S. employer health care costs by as much as $6 billion a year.”

Cubic Reveals Public Transit Loyalty Program

Quotable: “The Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW)’s new mobile app, GO Miami-Dade Transit, encompasses features such as tracking, trip planning, mobile passes and a rewards program … Travelers will earn “Stars”—a proprietary digital loyalty currency, owned and operated by Cubic—when they view or interact with ads on the app, or when they use loyalty-based transit service provided by MDT.”

Tim Hortons loyalty program’s free coffee and doughnut giveaways raise questions for franchisee group

Quotable: “The program, called Tims Rewards, has shattered internal expectations at Tim Hortons since its launch last spring, jumping to roughly 7.5 million active users in a matter of months. Customers get a free coffee or baked good after every seventh purchase. But the Alliance of Canadian Franchisees, an independent association of Tims store owners, is suggesting that some owners are worried the giveaways are adding to their costs while not boosting sales.”

PAYMENTS NEWS:

Crypto Upstages Other Mobile Payments in US Congressional Hearing

Quotable: “The hearing — entitled “Is Cash Still King? Reviewing the Rise of Mobile Payments” — featured testimony from witnesses with backgrounds spanning payment providers, consumer advocates and financial inclusion non-profits … The members of the Fintech Task Force are clearly looking seriously at cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology as answers to issues of financial inclusion and a sluggish payments process.”

Peer to Peer Payments Platform Zelle Handled $187 Billion in Payments via 743 Million Transactions in 2019: Report

Quotable: “The Zelle payment network, which is owned by a group of seven major US banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, confirms that it has 378 contracted financial institutions that are using its network to settle near-instant transactions … The firm mentioned that sending funds with Zelle for birthday and holiday gifts has become a popular trend, referencing a survey performed last year which revealed that giving money was the preferred holiday gift.”

Remitly launches digital banking service for immigrant communities

Quotable: “”Passbook is the next step in Remitly’s mission to transform the lives of millions of immigrants around the world who make the huge sacrifice of leaving their families behind to live and work in another country,” Matt Oppenheimer, co-founder and CEO of Remitly, said in the release … Customers receive a Visa debit card to withdraw from ATMs in more than 200 countries.”

HOSPITALITY NEWS:

Atari, Video Game Pioneer, Plans to Open 8 Hotels to ‘Eat, Sleep and Play’

Quotable: “In a move that underlines the popularity of e-sports, the demands of its growing audience and how video games are escaping the bounds of their consoles, Atari announced on Monday that it would begin construction on its first-ever video-game themed hotel.”

Choice Hotels Launches Golf By Choice; Brings Industry-First Benefits To Its Loyalty Program

Quotable: “The program — the first of its kind in the hospitality industry — not only gives members exclusive access to deals on top-rated golf apparel and equipment, but it also allows members to earn and use points when booking tee times at golf courses located across the country.”

RETAIL NEWS:

‘Resale and retail can peacefully coexist’: Inside Nordstrom’s long-term resale plans

Quotable: “As brick-and-mortar department stores face stiff competition from online players and DTC brands, as well as deal with high real estate costs, they need to find new ways to service customers that meet them where they are and adjust to how they’re actually shopping. While resale may have once been seen as the enemy, it’s increasingly something that retailers are embracing to stay relevant. The challenge then becomes competing with platforms that solely focus on resale.”

More retailers file for bankruptcy twice as they struggle with rising debt, pressure from Amazon

Quotable: “It’s a scenario that’s getting more common for traditional retailers as they find themselves under pressure from a sea change in where and how people are shopping. Retailers like Barneys and RadioShack have found themselves on the brink twice — going through a bankruptcy filing once, emerging, and then heading back to court, again.”

AIRLINE NEWS:

Airline perks: The gulf between first-class and economy passengers just keeps widening

Quotable: “It seems like every time you look, airlines have added a ridiculous new amenity. Now they’re chauffeuring passengers to the gate in limousines and offering cabins with beds, private showers and butler service. But these airline perks aren’t for you. They’re only available to the elite flyers or the superrich. The rest of us must endure shrinking seats with zero service. Does anyone else think there’s something wrong with this picture?”

The Loyalty Newswire is compiled and edited by the staff at The Wise Marketer.

The post Loyalty Newswire – February 3rd, 2020 appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

Step by Step Guide to Creating a Website

In 2017, 71% of small businesses had a website, and 92% of businesses without a website said they’d have one by the end of 2018. Today, having a website is as necessary for a company as having a phone number.

Maybe you’re starting a new business venture or developing your personal brand. Or, maybe you’re looking to update your company’s outdated website. Whatever the case, creating a new website can feel overwhelming, particularly without technical expertise or a budget for web developers.To alleviate any frustration you might feel, we’ve put together a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to creating a website. Best of all, you won’t need a coder, web designer, or big budget to create one — all you’ll need to do is follow the seven steps below.

1. Choose your CMS.

The first thing you’ll need to do when creating a website is find the right CMS (content management system) for your business. There are plenty of free or budget-friendly site builders out there, but they aren’t all created equal, so you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before choosing one.

For instance, consider whether you need a platform that allows you to code, or whether you’d like to avoid coding altogether. You might also narrow your list if you want your website to support multiple languages. Perhaps you simply want to check out templates offered by different CMS systems, or price ranges to see which you can afford.

Popular CMS systems include WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and, of course, HubSpot. In fact, the new HubSpot CMS will be released in 2020.

Check out 15 of the Best Free Website Builders to simplify your decision-making process. Once you’ve chosen the best CMS for your needs, continue to step two.

2. Get a domain name and web hosting.

One of the easiest ways to appear illegitimate as a company is to shirk on paying for a domain name. If you were looking for a freelance writer, would you more likely hire from Carolineforsey.weebly.com or Carolineforsey.com? A .weebly or .wordpress extension is an indicator you didn’t pay for the full service, which might seem unprofessional or lower in quality — worst case, a consumer might wonder why you can’t afford the full service, and draw conclusions that you’re not fully established.

Fortunately, purchasing a domain name is typically inexpensive, and there are a few different domain sites you can use. Both Godaddy.com and Bluehost.com are cheap, secure, and effective options for buying a domain name, with added benefits such as SSL security and office 365.

Here’s where it gets tricky. You’ll need to choose a domain name as similar as possible to the name of your company, but with over 1.8 billion websites out there today, your company’s name might already be taken.

If your ideal domain name is already taken, consider using a different extension. I’d advise you to use one of the three most common extensions if you can: .com, .net, or .org. However, if it makes sense for your business, you might want to check out an alternate extension like .us or .shop.

Play around with it. Once you’ve chosen and paid for a domain name, you’ll usually also get personal email accounts attached, so make sure you’re happy to use your domain name as your main online identity.

3. Choose a template for your site.

Now, for the fun part.

On whatever CMS platform you chose, take the time to browse through templates and themes, and choose one you think best represents your brand.

When in doubt, you can’t go wrong if you choose something clean with straight lines, and a limited amount of text. If you need some inspiration, check out 27 of the Best Website Designs to Inspire You in 2020.

Ultimately, no one knows your business better than you. Take the time to consider which template would most likely appeal to your ideal demographic.

Within your CMS, you can probably use filters or search to narrow down on templates related to your industry.

It’s important your template is responsive, so your site will look the same on all devices. When considering templates, you also need to decide whether you want a static header or slideshow header, and how many pages you’ll need to fit in your menu bar. Stay away from hard-to-read fonts or flashy backgrounds that could distract a consumer from understanding your core message.

Once you’ve chosen a template and theme, take the time to customize it. Your site’s design and functionality is your chance to persuade an audience to take a closer look. It’s imperative your design makes sense to your ideal consumer and works to enhance your product’s success rather than hinder it.

4. Add pages to your site.

It’s important to plan exactly which pages you’ll need to include in your site. While it varies business to business, I’d guess you’ll need at least a “Home” page, an “About Us” page, a “Services/Product” page, and a “Contact Us” page.

Of course, you can choose to rearrange page topics any way you want, or combine them. If you’re unsure, check out other company websites within your industry to get ideas for how to organize your navigation bar, or which pages to include and exclude.

I might be biased, but you should probably also include a blog — you know, sometimes they come in handy.

While every platform is different, it’s typically easy to add and remove pages on whichever platform you use.

5. Write content.

This is arguably the most important step. Now that you have your pages set up, what will you put on them?

I’d suggest writing rough drafts for pages like your “About Us” page and landing page. Talk with coworkers and stakeholders — what message do you want to put out there? What tone do you want to set? Should you make jokes and be funny, or aim to be more inspirational?

If your online audience stumbled across your site, what questions would they have first?

Imagine your website is your only chance to have a full conversation with a potential customer. The home page is the preliminary introduction, “Hey, we do XYZ.” Your “About Us” page digs deeper, “We are XYZ.” And your products or services pages are your big push to the finish line: “You want to work with us? Great, here’s how you’ll benefit.”

During this stage, it’s imperative you do your keyword research.

For instance, if you’re selling eyeglasses, and you notice “retro eyeglasses” has more monthly search volume than “vintage eyeglasses”, you might use this research to steer the direction of the content on your site.

If you’re stuck, check out competitor’s websites to gauge what other companies in your industry are doing.

6. Fill in general settings.

Once you’ve filled in your pages with the heavy-hitter content, you can still increase your search visibility by filling in gaps in your CMS settings.

Essentially, these are your SEO elements. On your pages, you should include:

  • High-quality page content
  • Page titles
  • Headers
  • Meta descriptions
  • Image alt-text
  • Structured markup
  • Page URLs
  • Internal linking
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Site speed

Make sure you include a site title and tagline in the “Settings” of your website building platform. Go through, and check out the URLs — are those optimized for search?

All these elements should be optimized because it tells Google all about your website and how you provide value to visitors and customers. It helps your site be optimized for both human eyes and search engine bots.

7. Install plugins.

Lastly, take a look at your site and figure out what you’re missing. The best CMS platform will ideally offer all the integrations you need.

Website plugins are individual services that improve a specific functionality of your site.

Perhaps your business is ecommerce, in which case, it might be wise to install a Shopify plugin extension.

Or, maybe you want to ensure your website is secure, to protect client data. In that case, find a plugin that offers firewall protection and attacks malware or other threats.

Plugins regarding security, SEO, image compression, and social media are necessities because it’s much easier to do all this work in one place rather than having to log on to several platforms.

Whatever the case, browse your plugin library and pick and choose a few you think will take the effectiveness of your site to the next level.

Once you’re ready, click “Publish”, and your site is ready for use.

How to make a website with HubSpot

Lastly, let’s take a look at how to make a website with HubSpot. If you’re not using HubSpot already, you can try the CMS free trial. If you’re already using HubSpot’s CRM, it probably makes the most sense to build a website within HubSpot to integrate all your sales and marketing needs in one place.

HubSpot offers a variety of plugins and extensions, themed templates, and sophisticated tools for SEO analysis.

If you want to build a website with HubSpot, it’s easy and intuitive. Here’s how:

1. Create home page.

Within your HubSpot portal, click “Content” on the dashboard at the top of your screen. Then, click “Landing Pages”.

After that, click the orange “Create landing page” button and name your page. 

HubSpot landing page creation button.

2. Select a template.

Now, you’ll be taken to this “Select a template” page. Scroll through your options, search page templates, or check out the Marketplace. When you’ve found a template you like, select it.

HubSpot landing page templates.

3. Edit the modules.

This is your landing page. You can scroll over text boxes, images, or other modules to edit them. In the below picture, I scrolled over the “See The World” Banner Text, and when I click it, it allows me to edit that text.

HubSpot landing page modules.

You can also click the “Edit modules” tool on the right side of your screen and edit from there. For instance, I selected “Service 2 Text”, which directed me to the “Make it your own” paragraph on my landing page. You can add text, images, sections, forms, and more from the “Edit modules” section.

HubSpot landing page text blocks.

4. Create other pages on your website.

When you’re happy with your landing page and want to move on, go back to your dashboard and click “Content” at the top of your screen, and then “Website Pages”.

HubSpot content creation.

Here, you’ll click the orange “Create website page” button and name your page, just like your landing page. Then, you’ll be taken through a similar process of choosing a template and adding content. If you want a more in-depth tutorial, check out a quick tour of website pages.

HubSpot website creation.

5. Incorporate social media accounts.

If you want to incorporate your social media accounts, click “Social” on your dashboard. You can monitor all your social media accounts and also publish tweets, Facebook statuses and comments, Instagram pictures, and other content straight from your HubSpot dashboard.

HubSpot social media integration.

6. View analytics.

If you want to check out your site analytics, go to “Reports” and then “Analytics Tools”. You’ll need to install the tracking code, which is easy to do within the HubSpot platform by clicking the orange “Install the tracking code” button. If you’re still unsure, check out how to install the HubSpot tracking code.

HubSpot analytics tools.

7. Add blogs to your site.

If you want to write blog posts, go to “Content” > “Blog” on your dashboard to create, publish, and monitor your website’s blog posts.

HubSpot blogging portal.

This is a fairly broad and general overview to get you started building a website with HubSpot, but there are plenty of more in-depth features and tools you might want to explore with a HubSpot specialist, or by checking out some articles on academy.hubspot.com.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

4 Ways to Optimize the Middle of the Funnel | Lead Management

The middle of the demand generation funnel receives way less attention than it deserves.

At the top of the funnel, marketing increases traffic and fills the database with new leads through paid ads, social media, search, referral programs, and a variety of other channels. At the bottom of the funnel, marketing helps close the sale by creating urgency and helping prospects make the business case for purchasing the product or service.

But in between, marketing needs to nurture and qualify leads by encouraging them to engage with content until they’re sales-ready. It’s easy to overlook the middle of the funnel because it involves many different priorities, from quality to quantity to speed to customer experience, and it can be the most difficult stage to manage.

What exactly is the middle of the funnel?

According to SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall, the middle of the funnel is the area where the marketing to sales hand-off (MQL to SAL) and the sales development representative (SDR) to account executive (AE) hand-off (SAL to SQL) happen.

The middle of the funnel, or MOFU, is like a valve. It’s where you can expand lead quality definitions to pass a higher volume of leads to your sales team, or tighten lead quality definitions to give them a more specific segment of qualified leads.

In most B2B organizations, marketing focuses on facilitating a successful hand-off to sales. The marketing team develops content to educate leads and identifies the leads who show buying intent by implementing a behavioral lead scoring model. They also spin up campaigns aimed at accelerating leads, such as limited-time offers, product trial campaigns, and case studies.

In the middle of the funnel, marketing aims to help the sales team prioritize their time by providing clear and accurate information on each lead. Concurrently, sales teams’ focus is on creating as many deal opportunities as possible from the leads they’ve received from marketing.

Why focus on the middle of the funnel?

With so many transitions happening during the hand-off process, the middle of the funnel has the biggest potential for misalignment between marketing and sales, as well as within sales. Below are some common bottlenecks that may arise during this stage.

Misalignment during the marketing to sales hand-off:

  • Marketing does not pass enough leads to sales to create a sufficient number of opportunities that meets their revenue target.
  • Marketing hands off enough leads to sales, but leads are hard to reach because they are not ready to consider a purchase yet and need more nurturing.
  • Marketing sends too many leads to sales, and sales doesn’t have enough information about the leads to prioritize them effectively.

Misalignment during the SDR to AE hand-off:

  • SDRs could have a hard time reaching the leads marketing passed to them.
  • It can take too long for SDRs to create a list of sales-accepted leads for AEs.

By creating common definitions and goals, you can help alleviate sales and marketing misalignment. Here are some aspects you’ll want to understand and agree on:

  • Lead volume helps determine whether your top-of-the-funnel marketing efforts are sufficient to meet sales’ revenue targets.
  • Conversions measure lead movement from stage to stage, showing how marketing is performing throughout the entire sales cycle.
  • Velocity is the time it takes a lead to move through the funnel, typically measured in days.

These metrics help marketing understand its impact on the business and where to prioritize their investments. Weakness in any one of these areas will affect revenue, so marketers need to keep a pulse on how the middle of the funnel is performing at any given time.

The middle of the funnel also presents some unique problems. Leads can become stagnant or cold here. They may stop responding to marketing content, which means that they aren’t qualified for a sales conversation yet. This can lead to slow velocity and restricted lead flow for sales. Fortunately, there are four key strategies you can leverage to tackle these problems: 

1. Fight Low Lead Quality at the Source

Not all lead sources are created equal. Four metrics can be tracked for every lead source:

  • Volume of MQLs
  • % SQLs (opportunities created)
  • % closed won (new customers)
  • Average selling price (ASP)

While it’s helpful to dive into ROI goals for specific programs, these metrics help marketing stay accountable for driving quality leads to sales and identifying problems as quickly as possible. For example, leads whose last action was a trial sign-up tend to move much faster through the funnel and close at a higher rate than leads whose last action was a webinar viewing. For lead sources with lower-than-average conversion rates, such as whitepaper downloads, a higher qualification bar is required before passing the lead to sales.

Additionally, data quality directly affects lead quality. Bad data leads to low contact rates and lower conversions. Several third-party lead generation programs may be used to help generate new leads. Sometimes, these leads look like good quality leads at the top of the funnel because they come from companies in the target market, but once they are passed over to sales, important data such as company size and phone number may be incorrect. Clearbit data enrichment can be used to clean up as much data as possible, but occasionally, sources need to be shut down completely due to bad data.

2. Accelerate More Leads from Specific Segments

Building a repeatable lead nurturing process is the pride and joy of any demand generation marketer. Unfortunately, the business doesn’t always follow a perfect plan. Sometimes, marketing needs to send a large volume of leads to the sales team quickly, either to meet a strategic goal or make up for the lost time.

Rather than going broad and sacrificing quality, marketers can narrow in on a specific segment of leads waiting in the middle of the funnel. 

3. Improve Lead Velocity with Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a key lever you can pull to improve lead velocity. Demand generation managers can perform regular regression analysis on the database across several different behavioral factors to determine which characteristics make up a good lead.

Across several actions, such as email clicks, website visits, whitepaper downloads, webinar registrations, and social media engagements, you can measure how many leads took these actions that ultimately led to deals, customers, and revenue. By conducting this research, you can determine which behaviors are the best indicators of buying intent.

Here’s an example of this with dummy data:

Example data of lead scoring model by channel

From there, you can create a weighted score for each action. If a lead who clicked on a link in an email is 50% more likely to become a customer than a lead who visited the blog, adjust your lead scoring model to reflect email clicks at five points and blog visits at three points. By adjusting your lead scoring model in this manner, you will be able to send leads who are ready to buy over to the sales team faster, improving the metrics.

Because content, audience targets, and business goals do shift over time, make sure to run this analysis every month to make sure the lead scoring model is aligned to serve your goals.

4. Reduce Hand-off Friction with Content and Context

When your sales team doesn’t have enough information about each lead to follow up with them in a way that creates urgency, the result is often non-responsive leads and slow velocity. Marketing can alleviate this problem to an extent.

As a first step, marketing can provide the sales team with case studies, whitepapers, and other educational materials that they can send to leads. As a next step, marketing can create optimized content experiences for leads by linking one piece of content to another (for example, when a lead watches a webinar, send them a related ebook).

To ensure that your sales team can follow up with each lead, your marketing team can create an alert email that gets sent to a sales rep every time a new MQL is assigned to them. This email contains lead record data and contextual information, such as the title of the webinar they just watched and a few details about the webinar. Then, your sales rep can simply reply to the email if something seems inaccurate or if they need more information about the lead. A complete marketing automation platform, like Marketo, will be able to help you communicate with sales and share all the engagement activities and interesting moments in a lead’s history.

example of email alert sent by Marketo marketing automation software middle-of-the-funnel

Marketo marketing automation platform makes lead follow up easy

To avoid turning the middle of the funnel into a bottleneck, work in tandem with sales to increase conversion rates and velocity for results that spread across the board. 

Better Results Ahead

By following the four steps outlined above, you will be able to improve the quality of the leads you hand off to sales, make smoother handoffs, and keep prospects engaged with relevant content. 

Gain insights on how to keep leads moving through the sales funnel by downloading The Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing.

What middle-of-funnel bottlenecks have you experienced in your marketing organization? How did you fix it? We would love to hear in the comments below.

The post 4 Ways to Optimize the Middle of the Funnel | Lead Management appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Road to Fuel Savings and Rewards With PDI

You may have seen the latest research from PDI covering trends in consumer loyalty across the convenience and fuel retail sector. Their latest report, “Road to Rewards Report 2019”, is worth a read. The survey data reveals consumers changing preferences towards loyalty programs, currencies, and communications challenges, as well as retailers’ challenges and priorities for the coming year.

For those of you who are
time-pressed (wait a minute, that’s all of us), we share four key highlights that
should spark your curiosity:

1) 50 percent of consumers join a loyalty program to earn points or rewards on everyday purchases, up from 19 percent in 2017

  • The ability to earn rewards has a direct impact on frequency; 30 percent of consumers will shop more where they can.

2) Loyalty programs that offer fuel savings are most popular

  • 66 percent of consumers belong to loyalty programs offering these rewards, a 12 percent uptick since the 2015 inaugural survey.

3) Mobile’s popularity has doubled in less than five years

  • Consumers citing mobile apps as their preferred redemption channel has jumped to 44 percent, more than double the percentage of 2015. In that year, only 20 percent of consumers surveyed said that mobile mattered.

4) Retailers struggle to leverage data

  • An overwhelming 75 percent of retailers surveyed collect consumer data from their loyalty programs, yet only one third (34 percent) use the information to attract new customers.

After reading the report, Wise Marketer had a few burning questions which we posed to Brandon Logsdon, President and GM, Marketing Cloud Solutions at PDI Software. Mr. Logsdon’s responses follow, and we are delighted to offer you this added level of insight into the study’s findings. Many thanks to PDI and Mr. Logsdon for his time to provide this information for our readers.

Popularity of fuel savings as a reward

WM: It seems that consumers are maintaining strong interest in earning fuel savings. What do you think drives people to value a fuel discount over other types of rewards?

If consumers were to calculate the value of free merchandise compared to fuel discounts, the “math” might tip in favor of merchandise. That said, fuel always seems to win. What’s your take on this phenomenon?

PDI: It’s a good question. First,
retail gasoline is the only product that has a price published in 3-foot
letters at the corner of “Main and Main” in every U.S. town and city.  So, there is a real price awareness factor. Second,
and related to the first point, people have very high recall of what they paid
for their last gallon of fuel. Yet, if you ask a consumer what they paid for
their last loaf of bread or gallon of milk, they struggle to recall. 

It’s for these first two reasons, and several others, that consumers have developed a real “sensitivity” to the price of gasoline. It becomes emotional, and the value perception of a discount is therefore very high. It is not uncommon for a customer to choose a 10 cent per gallon discount over $2.00 of “cashback.” Yet that same consumer has a car with an 18-gallon tank! It’s almost as if cents-per-gallon discounts are “math proof”.

Fuel savings and rewards interest across age demographics

WM: It’s interesting that interest in fuel savings spans age demographics. Was there any group in the survey that prioritized another reward over fuel?

PDI: There is variance across
different age demographics.

  • 18-24-year-olds are less likely to actively earn to redeem on fuel than other age groups and more likely to earn rewards they can redeem with a specific retailer.
  • 25-34-year-olds, on the other hand, are significantly more likely to earn rewards they can redeem on fuel than other age groups, followed by rewards they can redeem at a specific c-store as well as coupons from retailers/brands.
  • Other than these two age groups, there is no statistical variance across the different age groups when it comes to fuel savings. 

Keys to a successful mobile app

WM: There is no doubt that the mobile channel will be the premier engagement channel in the future. It probably is #1 today. What would you say are the top 3 elements needed for a mobile app to drive value to consumers / program members?

PDI: For a mobile app to be successful, it needs to be very simple and intuitive, or said another way, there shouldn’t be a real learning curve to use it. Secondly, it should be fast and responsive – consumers don’t like to wait for things to load. Thirdly, it should be highly relevant – part of the relevancy is the ability for the mobile app to use geo-services to gain intelligence and only intercept the consumer with a highly personalized and relevant offer.

Proper utilization of consumer data

WM: We just published an article covering loyalty trends for 2020. One trend is related to data and we’d like to know your impressions of the statement, “It turns out that “data is not the ‘new oil’”.

In our opinion, data is not a resource that anyone with the available budget can mine, refine, and market for profit. Data is a valuable, delicate, and sensitive commodity that should be treated with an attitude of stewardship, not ownership. If we ignore this view, we might be abdicating control of customer data to the opinions of regulators and legislators.

PDI: First, that’s a great quote. Having data on the consumer should
be treated as a privilege and as something highly valuable that should be
properly protected and curated. To the point, there is no sense in collecting
consumers’ data if you don’t have a) clear need/use for the data, and b) a well-thought-out
plan for how you intend to use that data to the consumers benefit.

If you can’t clearly answer (a)
AND (b), you might have a real problem on your hands. Furthermore, you probably
have bloat and expense in your business that isn’t benefiting your
stakeholders.

The post Road to Fuel Savings and Rewards With PDI appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

What Is a CMS and Why Should You Care?

Deep in the sea of acronyms in the marketing world, there’s an overwhelming amount to keep straight. SEO, CRM, SERP, CTR, and CToR are all important acronyms that can roll off of the tongue for most of us.

What about CMS?

Whether you’re new to marketing or have been in the industry for years, this acronym may be completely new to you. It also may be the answer you’re looking for if you need a professional website, fast, with limited technical resources.

A CMS can help you build exciting, delightful content, resulting in more conversions and lead generation. If you’ve never heard of it, or have always seen the term thrown around and never knew exactly what it meant, this post is for you.

Rather than opening up HTML or JavaScript, CMS software does that for you, so you’re able to pick and choose how your content will look once it’s live on a webpage. Additionally, to save you the task of building systems that create pages and CTA buttons, a CMS can take care of those things for you.

Having a CMS helps marketers who need to operate a fully-functioning website, but lack coding experience. A CMS can be used to create web pages, such as an “About” page or a blog, so focusing on customer-specific content is easier (and less stressful).

Why do you need a CMS?

If any of these scenarios are pain points at work, it may be time to look into how a CMS can help you streamline processes and organize content.

Limited Resources

If you’re working with limited technical resources, it might be imperative to save you time and the gripe of wondering if your website is professional enough. For example, maybe you don’t have the software needed to code a webpage or don’t have a developer.

Because CMS software is so expansive and comprehensible, it’s a simple process to add, update, or remove content from a website. You won’t have to spend extra time figuring that out.

SEO Plugins

Additionally, with a CMS, you can optimize web pages for search engines, which is extremely helpful in getting your contact to rank highly on Google. That way, potential leads can find you, and you’ll have an amazing-looking website when they do.

Lack of Coding Knowledge

You may find yourself in a position where you need a new landing page or something similar, but you don’t have enough time to build one from scratch. With a CMS, that process can be straightforward.

Allows for Collaboration

Multiple members can have access to CMS software. Every team member would individually use their account to work collaboratively on team projects, like editing a landing page. They also have the capability to save templates of webpages, as well.

Ultimately, a CMS consolidates processes that may be impossible to a marketer.

Best CMS Platforms

HubSpot offers a CMS that’s for businesses at any stage. If you’re thinking of piloting a CMS, find out more about HubSpot’s trial here. There are alternative CMS options like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, as well — take a look at WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal: Which Is the Right CMS Platform for Your Site? To investigate alternative options to HubSpot.

HubSpot

HubSpot’s CMS allows you to build websites that are powerful, optimized for search engines, and secure. You can manage all of your marketing and content in one place, which allows for easy collaboration.

The tools in HubSpot’s CMS lets you personalize every visitor experience. Personalized content improves the experience of the user, having felt targeted.

WordPress

With WordPress, you’ll have more than a blogging website. With the plugins and widgets you can add to a WordPress site, you can create a unique experience specific to your brand.

These plugins and widgets can add sidebars, calls-to-action, unique forms, and more. The easy-to-use tools in WordPress is that you can be as minimal with the design or as flexible as you want.

Joomla

Joomla is similar to WordPress in that it offers many plugins and widgets to expand your website. Both platforms are also free and come with webpage templates.

While other CMS platforms adopt an expansive all-in-one experience with content management, Joomla focuses on building and designing websites. It’s a good platform to use for straightforward website management.

Drupal

Drupal’s homepage has CMS information split into sections for developers, marketers, and agencies. As an open-source platform, Drupal is another website that allows for a lot of customization opportunity.

Drupal is different because the platform is more on the technical side. It would mostly benefit the marketer with more than a working knowledge of code who doesn’t have the time to learn the extra skills needed to build an entire website.

It can be a huge pain to get a proper website up and running — that’s why more SMBs are finding that having a CMS has helped them exponentially.

If you’re in a spot that sounds similar, give a CMS a try and see if it works for you.

Header Tags: What They Are and How to Use Them

When I first started blogging, I had no idea how to structure my posts to rank for search engines, or even why it was important.

I just threw in bolded words and phrases that looked good, and hoped to be randomly selected for the search engine results page (SERP).

Now, I know there is a science, and what I was throwing into my blog posts to make them look professional was called header tags — which is an important tool for comprehension and SEO.

When we talk about header tags, we’re talking about those bolded words that separate sections on blog posts.

To illustrate, the header tag referred to in this post is the title, “The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2020.” This is also called the H1.

Below are two other types of header tags (there are six,) which are indicated by arrows.

example of an h2 and h3

As you can see, every header tag looks different, and each header tag is used for different things. Here, let’s explore what header tags are, why they matter for SEO, and how you can add your own to HTML.

Here’s a quick guide on header tags and what they’re used for:

  • H1 — The title of a post. They’re usually keyword-centric.
  • H2 — These are subheaders that classify the main ideas of your paragraphs and separate sections. These should also be keywords.
  • H3 — A subsection that clarifies the points of subheaders further.
  • H4 — These are usually used in formatting lists or bullet points.

Keep in mind that H1 tags should always be at the top of your page because they’re usually the title. Your headers should stick to the theme of what you’re writing about. When you’re formatting, use your best judgment when breaking up sections.

Now that you know a little more about what header tags are, let’s get into how they’re used for SEO.

Header Tags and SEO

Header tags and SEO have more in common than it may seem at first glance. Not only are they used to differentiate important pieces of content, but they hold weight with keyword relevancy and readability.

Google favors headers. When it scans your post, it places header tags as high-priority. Ultimately, header tags is what Google uses to tell web browsers their search query is relevant to your post.

That’s why it’s important when using header tags to make sure they’re correctly matching a keyword intent. If a post’s H1 tag doesn’t have a keyword, it won’t rank well in search results.

To illustrate, let’s say your keyword is “eCommerce.” You’d want this to be reflected in your H1 tag, so a title like “The Guide to Starting an eCommerce Business” would be ideal. That would tell Google exactly how to send web browsers to your post.

Search engines also look at header tags within your post, so it’s good to keep those keyword-centric, as well. For instance, you might create some H2 sections surrounding popular long tail keywords related to eCommerce, like “five steps for creating an eCommerce business” or “best social media tools for eCommerce”.

You don’t have to think of keywords by yourself, either — in fact, you can do some easy keyword researching to help you out, or look into keyword research tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs.

Headers also make pages easier to read. Sectioning off different parts of a webpage keeps information organized and broken up in a comprehensible way. This helps readers, but also search engines, which are scanning along, too.

If your sections aren’t making sense, your page might not rank. Think of the sections in this post — do you think they were broken up in a readable way?

How to Add Header Tags in HTML

To add header tags in HTML, it’s a fairly simple process. If you want to notate an H1, you would type in <h1> and </h1>, putting the H1 text in-between those two tags. This is the same method for any type of header tag.

For example, if your h1 was “The Guide to Starting eCommerce,” it would look like this:

<h1> The Guide to Starting eCommerce </h1>

You can also include punctuation between the two tags. For instance, you might have:

<h3>Create an Instagram account to market your eCommerce products.</h3>

This will work for HTML4 or older. If you’re working with HTML5, you might have to use a slightly different line to get the same result. The change is to give a heads up to Google about what the H1 is:

<header> <h1> The Guide to Starting eCommerce </h1> </header>

Remember, Google will scan the HTML of header tags to tell web browsers what your page is about, so it’s important to look them over and see if your headers in HTML are formatted correctly.

Some blogging platforms, like WordPress and HubSpot, have an option on the toolbar to create header tags, so every time you want to add one, you don’t have to dig into the source code or HTML to do so.

The next time you create a post for your website, see if adding the correct header tags affect SEO, and how your readers are comprehending information.

A good test I like to use is sending posts to a close family member who doesn’t know much about blogging or marketing. Using outsider feedback and asking if they can comprehend my writing before I publish helps me format posts so they’re understandable.

The big things for header tags are readability and SEO, so as long as your headers are keyword-driven, they should see a jump in page rank.

 

Global Expansion Into New Markets | How to Grow Your Business

Any business that experiences growth at home, looks further afield to expand their success. Expanding into global markets presents different challenges and approaches that work for one company may not work for another. Considering localization as a key factor for global growth is essential and businesses looking to grow need to dedicate time, energy and capital to truly knowing the areas they are hoping to expand into.

Most companies looking to expand into new markets want to boost their sales and have identified a market in which they can see the potential for growth. This can be a fine balance to achieve, as you need to ensure you keep current, loyal customers on side while impressing and persuading customers in the new region.

It is not uncommon for some businesses to find their global growth outstrips their success at home, but this doesn’t mean you can simply abandon the customers who first ensured your business was a success.

New customers, growing revenue and positioning yourself as a global brand are all attractive prospects but success requires strong local knowledge and a commitment to changing and adapting your marketing strategies to the locale in question.

There are many strong examples of global expansion and market expansion into new areas. From some of the world’s largest corporations to firms on a smaller level, it is possible to see unique and varied approaches to international expansion. Below is a closer look at exactly how businesses are able to work in different ways to grow in new markets.

Apple shows its value to China

The fraught relationship between China and the USA in recent times can make it hard to see how such a large well-known American brand can be a success, but their long-term approach and commitment to the country have contributed significantly to their success in this region.

From the development of the world’s biggest iPhone factory to a huge commitment to expansion in the last few years (according to Apple’s own Storefronts tracker), Apple has shown a truly determined and sometimes aggressive approach to being a recognized and popular brand in the country.

China is known for its commitment to its local brands and corporations, yet Apple shocked business experts worldwide by managing to crack the market. Their methods for success split across many areas but included the creation of a premium product, attractive to the growing Chinese middle class with a disposable income allowing them to look for the best in every area of their lives.

Secondly, Apple knew that their formidable marketing machine would not be enough, and so worked with local experts to succeed, signing deals with leading firms such as China Mobile, ensuring they properly understood the Chinese consumer before any targeting even began. Mobile phone use in China far outstrips televisions and other technology, which was something Apple had to get to grips with and push a mobile-first agenda to succeed and become an indispensable brand in China.

Netflix welcomes local players to woo European customers

The international expansion experienced by TV streaming brand Netflix can be fairly described as astronomical. Available in over 190 countries, with penetration levels varying from nation to nation, Netflix has committed to treating each of its new regions as a brand new customer.

Described uniquely by one Harvard Business Review writer as “exponential globalization”, Netflix take an entirely original approach to their global development. Their approach has led to general marketing approaches changing worldwide, with engagement and on-demand marketing becoming the norm in many sectors.

Key to Netflix’s success is being primed to combat those determined to thwart their success and a real focus and commitment on the desires of their regional customers. Looking at the case of their battle against VPNs using their content, the company’s technological professionals are always finding ways to avoid the free use of their content. Many popular VPNs are able to circumvent Netflix’s US-only content, while others such as F Secure Freedom limit users’ access to Netflix altogether, which is showing how the company is working hard to ensure the premium value of their service is protected.

As the company grows they have worked to push their position in different nations and utilized the most skilled professionals from different regions to boost their chances of success.

To attract new markets, Netflix plays into what people know. Their growth since 2010 has been remarkable but not all at once. They started small, stepping over the northern border into Canada, launching with Canadian-produced content as well as their popular US programming.

By moving slowly, first into nations that had similarities to themselves, they were able to internationalize their brand without any extreme moves.

Its push into Europe has also been spotlighted with a commitment to spending in European productions, with $1bn promised to Europe-only developments in mid-2018. The interesting thing to note about this commitment was that they didn’t just opt for English-language productions, showing their understanding of other nations wanting and expecting new content in their own languages too.

The launch of their UK production hub at Shepperton Studios further cemented their commitment to European customers, increasing both trust and commitment and loyalty in customers in the UK and Europe.

Avigilon Corporation expands with a permanent global outlook

Not every business can start with a commitment to expand around the globe, but those that do, often see their success fast-tracked. A strong example of this is HD video surveillance brand Avigilon Corporation.

In discussing his business and its growth, the company’s owner laid out how he always knew and intended his Canadian-formed company to be a global brand. From the beginning a detailed and well-crafted plan of exactly how the company would penetrate the global economy, and in time, they were selling their products in over 80 different countries.

A global outlook from day one was essential for this brand. They also smartly worked in a similar way to Netflix, targeting the least challenging markets first, allowing for the generation of more capital and access to more experienced experts when the time comes to tackle harder markets. EU companies should look to other EU countries to expand into before looking to North America, for example, and vice versa.

One step at a time for global expansion

Knowing you want to take your business into new markets around the globe is just the first step. Many businesses have this desire but enacting it is a very different process. Dominating on a global scale takes time and a real commitment to understanding each consumer and regional segment is about so much more than simply turning up with your “strong brand” and showing customers why you believe in it.

You need to consider language, local competition and recognizing that the customers aren’t already primed to want what your business offers, you need to tailor or even re-package it to suit their needs and expectations. Any business which has a true commitment to global expansion and an outlook to match will invest in the right places and people to ensure this success.

The post Global Expansion Into New Markets | How to Grow Your Business appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Aggregate & Automate Performance Reporting With Lighthouse & Google Data Studio

WTF Dan? I can’t even say that title, it’s a mouthful!

Sorry, random internet stranger but it sounds smart!

Anyways, performance reporting is good for SEO right? Speed is a critical ranking factor, it’s good for users, and we all just want to feel the need for it. But enterprise-class performance reporting dashboards are tough. Especially ones that are easy to spin up automatically, low resource and actionable.

Do these look like something you would want to have?

Would surfacing performance opportunities automatically and at scale like this be helpful?

Well, have no fear, because that’s what I’m here to walk you through!

So first, check out the end product. Here is a performance dashboard we created for Target (sorry for outing you Target SEO, but hey free report!):

https://datastudio.google.com/open/17bU954JKOK-7xCeSZuipEdgnTYhRYh2-

This dashboard was created by taking a simple two-column spreadsheet (one column with a URL and another with the label), passing it via-.CSV through our Slackbot Jarvis running it through our process, and then outputting it as a Google Data Studio Report. Yes, we have a bot named Jarvis. Don’t you?

It took me about 15 minutes to classify the URLs and about 10 for the report to be run/created. Isn’t living in the future cool? I guess a human could compile all this, but this seems like a real time-saver to allow the human brain to do what it’s best at – analyzing!

Just to get into some of the features, most of the charts can be drilled down into, diagnostic and performance metrics can be looked at holistically or with any subset of templates, and you can track over time to see improvements.

IMHO this is a much better way of doing performance reporting as you can look at not just snapshots of resources on a page, but how they perform across a whole template or even a site. It makes the real costs of particular performance issues much more clear.

Anyway, enough talking.

We are also open sourcing this!

If you want to spin it up for yourself

check out the documentation and get some!

Dan, why did you build this?

Pretty simple it saves us a ton of time on performance reporting in our audits and is a spiffy deliverable for clients that shows them how badass we are at technical SEO. Plus we can iterate on it super easy. Just as an example, adding in competitors to benchmark templates against is gonna be in our next iteration. If you do cool stuff, please share it with me @danleibson on Twitter!

Remember kids technical SEO = local SEO when your queries are local and your web stack is complicated and Google is rapidly localizing search more then they are rolling out any other feature. Don’t put yourself in a box. I don’t let my teammates!

Like most things, this isn’t done in a vacuum so I just want to shout out people like Jamie Alberico for talking me through a bunch of her elvish wizardry around the topic and Hamlet Batista for being willing to just throw stuff out there into public so others can learn.

The post Aggregate & Automate Performance Reporting With Lighthouse & Google Data Studio appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

The Era of Brand Purpose is Officially Over

[Editor’s note: We’ve written about how influential brands can be if they align with customers, and specifically when they align themselves with authentic values. So, we thought we’d share Atomic London’s message about brand purpose and keeping it real. Enjoy the read.]

One
thing that became clear as 2019 became 2020 was that the era of the ‘fake’ or
contrived brand purpose had ended.

By: Jon Goulding

Throughout
the 2010s, brands became increasingly convinced that they needed to have a
reason to exist beyond adding value to their customers. The idea was that the
consumer wanted brands to be ‘ethical’ and authentic, and prospective employees
wanted to work at companies that were playing their part to make the world better.
In 2018, both Fast Company and the Harvard Business Review ran
articles claiming that the secret to success in the 21st century was purpose.
Books were written on the subject.

But they were wrong. What some brands failed to realise was how jarring it was to hear about a brand’s noble reason for existing while also knowing that in other areas—usually where tax was involved—‘noble’ was not the word that came to mind. And then came woke washing, and the catastrophic Pepsi commercial in which Kendall Jenner single-handedly defuses the tension between police officers and an angry crowd by giving one of the officers a Pepsi. As if to add a full stop—or exclamation mark—to the end of the ‘brand purpose’ chapter in the story of modern business, Gillette made a dramatic pivot, first challenging men to be better in the wake of #MeToo and then airing an ad in which a transgender man learns to shave. The response was mixed; and at best, after years of celebrating more traditional depictions of rugged masculinity with the ‘Best a Man Can Get’ campaign, this new approach was seen by some as deeply cynical.

During the pursuit of brand purpose, authenticity was left in the dust

Instances like these undermined the whole notion of purpose. As obvious as it is to say, purpose has to be something you actually do believe. It isn’t like a Chrome extension, to be added on your business later in the game in pursuit of greater profits. But you could also argue that purpose—purpose according to the meaning that it took on—was never going to become more than a trend. The reality is that many if not most businesses are launched for the far more pragmatic reasons i.e., there are people who are not being served in some way by what’s currently available on the market, and that there’s therefore an opportunity for a new product or service to emerge. Its makers can accommodate those people and be paid for their trouble. What’s wrong with that?

Serving your customers by focusing on what you do best and striving always to be better is a worthy purpose. It also happens to be what most ambitious businesses do naturally. If the brand purpose saga has taught us anything, it’s that businesses should interrogate their purposes and make sure they haven’t got sloppy. What value are you really adding for your customers? Are you being authentic to yourselves? Are you communicating honestly with your audiences? And this points out something else. Brands don’t need to be saints and martyrs. They just need to do what they do best in an honest and environmentally and socially ‘responsible’ way. What is unacceptable is hypocrisy and cynicism.

Also read: Can Influencer Marketing Advance Loyalty?

This
isn’t really to say that all the brands that pushed their purpose were doing it
for the narrowest commercial reasons. There were many that had the best
intentions at heart, and some great purpose-driven work emerged as a result.
But what I’m sure we’ll now see is far more effort made within brands to define
and communicate their usefulness to their customers. And a wider
acceptance that, actually, when you think about it, serving the people around
you through imaginative, intelligent work is an admirable thing by itself as
long as you go about it in a decent way. There’s nothing new about that idea.
So here’s a mantra for the next decade: Work hard. Be authentic. And don’t be
boring.

The post The Era of Brand Purpose is Officially Over appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

5 Alternatives to Facebook, Google, and Amazon Ads

According to a recent survey from Lawless Research and Factual, marketers are spending an average of 43% of their ad budget on Google and Facebook, with Amazon not far behind.

Regardless of business size, online advertising strategies are similar. In fact, 46% of marketers working for agencies and brands with an ad budget of $50 million or higher report say they spend up to 60% of it on ad programs from the three tech giants.

These programs also include ad offerings on sites owned by the oligopoly, such as YouTube (owned by Google) and Instagram (owned by Facebook).

The chart below compares how companies with differently sized ad budgets spend their money on platforms owned by Google, Facebook, and Amazon:

Source: Lawless Research and Factual

But although Google, Facebook, and Amazon have been heavily adopted, marketers are still worried that these platforms will grow even more powerful and dictate their advertising options in the future. When asked to rate their level of concern that the oligopoly would limit their advertising options, 78% said they were somewhere between concerned and very concerned.

As we continue to see innovation and growth in online advertising, could this area be disrupted by ad alternatives?

Yes. In fact, marketers are hoping for new advertising options. Although most marketers and agencies spend huge chunks of their budgets on Google, Facebook, and Amazon, 65% of them want alternatives. The Lawless and Factual study even revealed a few platforms that participants were already using, including YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

Interestingly, the study suggests that participants using YouTube and Instagram as alternatives did not realize that they were paying into the oligopoly. The report concludes that this shows the true power of the tech giants.

To help you keep your eye out on options other than the oligopoly, I’ll walk you through some of today’s most prominent advertising alternatives and show you a few examples of brands that use them.

5 Alternatives to Facebook, Google, and Amazon Ads

Google-Specific Alternatives

Microsoft Advertising

Yes, Google still monopolizes the search market, but you might not want to write Microsoft search engine options off as an alternative.

Microsoft Advertising, formerly known as Bing Ads, is similar to Google in that you can create, optimize, and track PPC ads that show up in searches on Microsoft Search Network platforms, including Bing, MSN, and Yahoo.

Bing Search with dog food ad matching search keywords

If you’re thinking, “But, everyone exclusively uses Google,” think again. Microsoft claims that 5.5 billion monthly searches occur on its search network.

Microsoft Ads is also less competitive because it isn’t as heavily used as Google. Because so many advertisers are bidding, optimizing copy, and competing for precious slots in search engine results, the prices of PPC ads and the cost of wasted spend, can be quite high.

According to WordStream, Microsoft Advertising clients see cost-per-clicks that are 35.5% lower than their Google ads. WordStream also notes that its clients report higher placement on search result pages due to lower levels of ad competition.

Like Google Ads, you’ll still want to familiarize yourself with PPC strategies to properly monitor your budget and wasted spend. You’ll also want to brush up on keyword research and other SEO strategies to make your ad show up higher than other sponsored search results. To learn more about this, here’s a how-to post on launching Bing-based ads.

Social Media Alternatives

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn’s advertising and content promotion offerings are very similar to Facebook’s in that you can create native ads or promote visual or text-based posts in LinkedIn’s newsfeed. Like Facebook, you can also designate ad objectives, like web traffic or lead generation and target your content to specific demographics, such as age groups or locations.

If you haven’t already seen what promoted content looks like on LinkedIn, here’s an example:

Amazon ad based on Facebook

Like Facebook and other social media ads, paid content on LinkedIn also been seen to boost traffic and lead generation, especially in the B2B world. In fact, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, while 94% of B2B marketers use the platform.

While LinkedIn Ads are very similar to Facebook, the platform’s nature is slightly different from Facebook or Instagram’s because it embraces professional networking and career growth. This makes the platform especially good for brands that want to sell products or services to professionals or other companies.

Want to learn more about how to successfully generate leads on the platform? Check out this recent blog post that features tips straight from LinkedIn’s VP of Marketing.

Twitter Ads

Twitter Ads are similar to Facebook Ads in that you can pay to promote tweets or launch native ad-styled campaigns.

While promoted tweets show up higher in the feeds of target users with a “Promoted” sign on them, campaigns might show up on Twitter feeds or sidebars with images or video content linking to a website.

Here’s an example of a promoted post from Gold Peak:

Twitter ad for Gold Peak

Like Facebook, you can also choose objectives — or goals — for Twitter Ads. These include tweet engagements, video views, app installs, web sessions, and other common objectives that you might have on other online ads.

Aside from providing similar options to Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads are getting more affordable and more effective each year. Twitter says that engagement with paid ads has increased by 50% year over year. However, the cost per engagement decreased by 14% in 2018.

Reddit Ads

Reddit is a community-centric social network that encourages users to contribute to discussion-based threads called subreddits.

Although the platform is very unique, it’s still gained more than 330 million monthly active users, mostly within the millennial and Gen-Z age groups.

While brands have tested out multiple strategies that involve contributing to discussions and starting their own subreddits, many have also taken advantage of paid promotions on the platform.

When it comes to paid promotion, you can consider sponsoring your posts to ensure that they are placed higher on threads, subreddits, or feeds of targeted users. Here’s an example:

Reddit feed promoted content

If you’re less familiar with how to engage people on the platform, but sell a product that Reddit users would like, such as media, a technological gadget, or video games, you can also consider a native ad that will show up on Reddit feeds or on Reddit’s sidebar.

A Reddit native advertisement

One important thing to know is that Reddit has been seen as one of the trickiest platforms for marketers to crack. Although you can promote content, users on the platform primarily respond to content that values them or adds to conversations on the platform, rather than branded language. However, Reddit is reportedly making more efforts to become more brand-friendly — so it might be worth keeping on your radar.

If you do want to advertise on Reddit, you should still do a bit of research to learn more about the audience, what they’ll respond well to, and what topics they don’t care for. To help you learn the ins and outs of Reddit and see examples of brands that have succeeded on the platform, check out this blog post.

Pinterest Ads

If you’re selling products, like home decor, or lifestyle experiences, like travel bookings, you definitely shouldn’t forget about Pinterest.

While it’s not the most prominent social media platform, Pinterest still has over 300 million monthly active users, is photo-friendly, and encourages people to pin images and products they like to inspiration boards. This might be why big brands, like Target, have embraced the platform and its aspirational nature.

Here’s an example of a pin from JCPenney which links to a holiday line of products on its website:

Advertisement on Pinterest

While bigger businesses have leveraged Pinterest, small businesses have also leveraged the platform’s advertising tools to launch ROI-generating ads. Want to learn more? Here’s a great blog post from a PPC consultant on four tests that are proven to boost Pinterest Ad conversions.

Navigating Ad Alternatives

With the growing number of advertising options out there, it can be hard to determine which is right for you. While we gave you a quick rundown of a few major alternatives in this post, it’s important to do a bit more digging on each.

Make sure to pay into platforms that your buyer will actually be on in the first place. Then, determine what ads are most interesting to them. If you decide that you want to zone in on social media marketing and ads, check out this blog post to learn about which platforms consumers use most to discover new products.

Still interested in leveraging PPC or want to improve on your strategy? Here’s our Ultimate Guide to Google Ads.

Dwell Time is the SEO Metric You Need to Track

This morning, I made a quick Google search.

When the results page loaded, I spent time clicking through the first page of websites to find what I was looking for. When I didn’t find my answer, I clicked back to that results page to look at the next one.

This process took me through to the bottom of the page until I refined my search and started the process again.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was actually contributing to a powerful metric — dwell time.

When we talk about metrics, we tend to focus on demographics. We ask questions like, Who’s looking at your site, where are they located, and what are their interests?. These interests help marketers make informed decisions about campaigns tailored to their customers’ interests.

Dwell time is the metric that runs through various search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s the time I spent reading those results pages before I went back to Google to take a look at other results.

Let’s explore more about what dwell time means, and its usefulness, below.

What is dwell time?

Remember that dwell time begins and ends with the SERP.

It’s important to note, dwell time and bounce rate are two different things. Bounce rate is what happens when a user clicks on one page, and then almost immediately leaves the site.

For it to be considered dwell time, on the other hand, the user needs to click on a page from the SERP, stay a while, and then either clicks back to the SERP or otherwise exits the page.

If you use search engines, you rack up dwell time daily, without even thinking about it. I can already recall two separate instances in which I’ve contributed to dwell time today, all before lunch.

Essentially, dwell time metrics can show marketers if their web pages are capturing the attention and needs of browsers. It has the potential to tell you what to include on web pages, and what to exclude.

For instance, let’s say you write a blog article called “Social Media Tips and Tricks”. You notice the piece has a high click-through rate, but low dwell time. Upon further inspection, you see the rest of the articles on the SERPs include comprehensive information regarding social media scheduling, how to create posts for social media, and which social media sites have the highest conversion rates. More than likely, you thought your post was solving for a user’s search intent when it really wasn’t — which is why most readers jump back to the SERP to find an alternative source.

It can also lead to clues about improving UX. For instance, if you have a slow loading time on your web page, you may see that reflected in dwell time metrics, since a user might exit your page if it’s taking too long to load

This metric can lead to important decisions you make for your site, among other metrics.

Next, let’s explore some average benchmarks regarding time spent on sites.

Average time on site benchmarks

According to Google Analytics, “Average Session Duration” is a metric that tells you how long visitors are staying on a website on average. It’s measured by the total duration of all sessions, or visits, in seconds, divided by the total number of sessions.

A session begins when a user goes to a website. After 30 minutes of inactivity, or when the user leaves, the session ends. The inactivity cutoff exists so you can get an accurate report of your metrics without untrue inflation.

You can find this metric already calculated for you in Google Analytics, displayed in minutes and seconds. *Can you give readers an alternative if they don’t have Google Analytics? Is there another time-on-page measurement website?

But what’s a “good” average session?

Try to go for anywhere between 2-4 minutes, the time most marketers agree is a good average duration. It’s also the general benchmark across most metrics of SMBs. It usually takes around this time to explore a website and get a feel for the design.

You can find this metric for your own site by visiting Google Analytics or other metric websites that host the same information. Here is an example of what that’ll look like on Google Analytics:

Most marketers agree that it’s rare to see average session duration times over 10 minutes or less than one minute, so if you’re looking for a goal, between 2-4 minutes is where the average typically lies.

When you’re looking at metrics, it’s a good idea to look at all of them to get a full scope of how your site is performing. If you’re ranking high on the SERP, that means that your SEO is great, but if your website isn’t providing useful information, your session duration might underperform.

To provide a holistic experience for customers, looking into the meaning behind session durations is important. Dwell time contributes to session duration, but remember that the two aren’t cut from the same cloth. Remember that dwell time doesn’t count from anywhere but the SERP, and that sessions end after 30 minutes of inactivity on that SERP.

eCommerce Store Strategy | To Buy or Not to Buy, That Is the Question

There is no doubt that there is money to be made in eCommerce. The PWC 2018 Global Consumer Insights Survey found that nearly three-quarters of over 22,000 consumers across 27 territories of the world say they plan to spend more, or the same, than the previous 12 months.  They will do so mostly at a brick-and-mortar store or online with mobile devices, with 88% of consumers willing to pay for same-day or faster delivery. eCommerce is a huge industry, but there is also a huge number of businesses competing for space.

Look at the exponential growth of companies like eBay, Alibaba, and Amazon to see how to do it well, but also don’t forget there is scope for smaller businesses to flourish. Buying an existing eCommerce store is sometimes a better option than starting up. If checked out thoroughly, it should come with existing customers, revenue, and a platform to build on.

Buying an eCommerce store is not a simple process, as you need to be extremely tactical and switched on to ensure you invest in a worthwhile business. Successful eCommerce stores will have all the elements in place to keep growing, or they may need a push in the right direction to develop and grow.

eCommerce stores have the power to out-sell and compete with major retailers, as long as you approach the business in the right way. So, if you’re considering investing in an eCommerce store or even starting one from scratch, consider these points first, so you can generate leads and grow your business.

Benefits of buying an eCommerce store

Whether you are experienced in retail or it’s a new experience for you, buying an established eCommerce store has many benefits. You are entering a competitive market with a business that has already made a name for itself and you are simply throwing your talents into the mix to expand and build upon it. Make sure you look at the eCommerce platform being used as there are plenty out there, with Shopify being the most commonly known.

Existing customer base

Buying an existing store also means you have a customer base to work with, as well as pre-approved leads and customers to tap into for repeat business. You can make the most of the customers who already exist and utilize them to help attract new customers through recommendations, testimonials, social media sharing, marketing activities, and more.

Positive / growing reputation

Buying a business that already has a positive reputation means you’re able to get off the ground much more quickly and you can promote and make the most out of existing positive reviews and feedback. A good reputation gives you a base to work from when promoting your new business, even if you make changes and take it in a different direction.

Everything is in place

Another benefit is that you’re entering into a business that is primed to go – if you make the right purchase, the supply chain will already be established and operating, so you won’t need to set it up from scratch.

Social media momentum

Equally, you can benefit from, and build upon, the existing social media presence the business has. You can utilize and grow their existing social media channels and reap the rewards of any positive relationships and networks built up by driving sales.

The main thing you benefit from is the website itself; you’re buying an established eCommerce store so you can build upon the existing platform and tweak it to increase traffic and revenue. You can analyze what’s in place and utilize existing methods for gaining traffic, as well as adding your own.

Buy-and-sell eCommerce store marketplaces are designed to show you exactly where a store’s traffic is coming from and the revenue it generates.

When not to buy

There are many eCommerce stores on the market which are not a good investment — it’s important to recognize the difference so you don’t make a bad investment and mitigate any risk.

Website traffic

The first place to start when looking at eCommerce stores is their traffic. If it is almost all paid for with no organic traffic, or only organic traffic with extremely high bounce rates, you need to question the quality of the site and why they aren’t able to attract quality, natural leads. Whatever else you do, your website can be a fantastic asset for your digital strategy.

Customer service and reputation

You should also look closely at customer service and compare the quality of reviews with the volume of sales. If you see large sales figures but a low level of positive reviews then you should be questioning whether it has repeat and long-term customers — if not, then there could be an issue with the quality of the store, and its reputation.

This is also the case if you see a site getting a lot of brand new customers but very low levels of repeat and return customers — why are people not coming back for more? Either way, social media for customer service is a great way to prevent or reverse poor reputations.

Hidden costs

When you examine the finances of your potential investment you’ll begin to see things unravel very quickly if there is an issue. Costs you didn’t know about beforehand, such as fractures within the supply chain as well as costly contracts you can’t get out of. Any cost which doesn’t add up should be queried and treated with caution.

Digital assets

The final key area you need to look into is the online presence of the eCommerce store. Do you rate their design and branding, website and current platform? How are their marketing, content and digital strategies faring?

If the whole online experience is disappointing and you know it will take a considerable investment to overhaul it, is this really the business for you? Unless you can arrange a considerable discount on the purchase price, these kinds of deals are best avoided.

To buy or not to buy

To buy or not to buy is a question you should have in your mind whenever you look at any potential eCommerce store investment. Your purchase process should begin with extensive research to ensure that it is a sound investment and when you have found the right business, you can take it to where it needs to go to flourish.

The post eCommerce Store Strategy | To Buy or Not to Buy, That Is the Question appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

SMS Marketing: What Role Does It Play in Your Strategy for 2020?

Of all the ways that brands can connect, market, and build loyalty with customers, SMS (text messaging) has seemed to be the most off limits in their marketing arsenal.

Physical mailboxes have been stuffed for
years with promotional material, leading many consumers to adopt the habit of
opening their mail next to the shredder in their home office.

Email inboxes have swelled with
promotional messages. A steady pattern of opting in for promotions and
communications when making an online purchase or just reading an article can
easily lead to inboxes so full, they cry for the user to click on “select all”
to discard pages of messages at a time, without reading even one.

Our beloved smartphones have also become highly toxic as the inability to reign in robocallers has changed the mobile phone experience. Many people we speak with have decided to answer only calls from numbers already in their contact list or return missed calls only to those that leave a voice message.

The SMS marketing channel on our phones has been protected until recently with people preferring to use it for real-time communications with friends and family. The first incursion of non-personal text messaging probably falls in the realm of customer service. Validating secure codes to reset a password or to approve a questionable purchase via an online banking app are practical and common uses of SMS for business.

A Verizon example

The text message one of our staffers received from Verizon this week is another example of SMS marketing. Verizon had apparently activated a new service and was using the SMS channel to communicate the new benefit. We checked and our staffer had already downloaded the My Verizon app and had enabled SMS notifications on their phone, meaning they were opted-in to receive this message:

But what about marketing? There suddenly seems to be a trend to incorporate the SMS marketing channel more regularly into a brand’s marketing communications stream.

Just since the commencement of 2020, we have seen text messages from brands that are breaking new ground, or crossing some lines depending on your point-of-view. We’ve seen messages lately that can be categorized in one of these categories: enrollment, promotion, customer service — and we have an example of each one to share with you.

Loyalty Program Enrollment via SMS Marketing

One person on our team was enjoying lunch at the Yard House and saw a coaster on the table with an invitation to text the phrase “beer” to an SMS short code. You’ll see a flow of messages below that led the person to enroll as a “Yard House Insider”. The method makes sense to attract people into the program, though the value offered was vague, with SMS marketing messages like “you’ll be the first to know what’s happening at our house” and “recurring updates and promos”. One day after we signed up, there was another message (pictured below): “Stick to your resolutions with the Lifestyle menu section at Yard House”.

Promotions via text messages

One person on our team had recently joined Boston Market’s new loyalty program, Rotisserie Rewards, and didn’t remember being invited to receive promotions via text. We assume they opted in unintentionally and now are receiving text messages like the one below:

SMS Marketing tools can enhance Customer Service

Duffy’s is a well-known sports bar chain in South Florida and has operated its MVP Rewards program for several years. The program has evolved over time, introducing an app and developing a rich array of menu and event promotions. One element of customer experience that has been a long time in solving was associating the customer with their rewards program. There was a time when servers had to ask customers to write their phone number on a piece of paper and then do research at the point-of-sale to get them credit for the meal they were enjoying. Today, there is flyer on tables that alerts customers that they can text a phrase to a short code to get credit for their meal. It’s still not the most polished process, but it is an illustration of how one restaurant is using SMS marketing tools to solve a customer service problem.

SMS marketing is efficient

We’ve also seen that in countries where data plans on smartphones are expensive and penetration is low compared to US expectations, SMS is used to enable loyalty members to check their point balance and get answers to other simple questions. One application of this tool is in use with Grace Kennedy’s GK Value Rewards in Jamaica.

In a culture where consumers check their phones an average of 52x per day and spend approximately 23 percent of their waking time staring at their phone, it should be no surprise that engagement and immediacy are most effectively achieved by communicating through the mobile device.

We’ve seen reports that indicate 54 percent of customers would like to receive promotions via SMS. We’ve also read that customers react well to SMS messages once they’ve opted in:

If you’ve read our take on Loyalty Trends in 2020, you’ll see that the challenge with mobile apps is not to create one, but to figure out how to pack your mobile app with value and utility to make it worthy of download and repeated usage.

Using the SMS channels effectively shortcuts the decision process of whether to download an app for the consumer.

We’ve found research that validates 86 percent of US consumers opt in to receive SMS notifications, so the availability of the channel is high.

With all the evidence found in support of the advantages of using SMS to communicate with customers, we also read that only 11 percent of businesses are using text to send promotional offers.

Surely there are some applications for
text messaging that are more effective and bear less risk than others. Using
SMS for customer service and enrollment seems logical. How far brands can go
using SMS for promotional offers is the area of experimentation that needs to
be explored in 2020.

If you truly believe that people are attracted by immediacy of response and increasingly identify with a world where information to support purchase decisions can be obtained in real time, then it seems one step towards the goal of “customer centricity” would be to experiment more with SMS marketing.

Let us know your thoughts on the best uses of SMS marketing for customer communication and how far the channel can be used for offer delivery and to influence purchase behavior. The world is waiting.

The post SMS Marketing: What Role Does It Play in Your Strategy for 2020? appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

7 Incredible Examples of A/B Tests by Real Businesses

Whether you’re looking to increase revenue, sign-ups, social shares, or engagement, A/B testing and optimization can help you get there.But for many marketers out there, the tough part about A/B testing is often finding the right test to drive the biggest impact — especially when you’re just getting started.

So, what’s the recipe for high-impact success?

Truthfully, there is no one-size-fits-all recipe. What works for one business won’t work for another — and vice versa.

But just because you can’t replicate the same test and expect the same result doesn’t mean you can’t get inspired by other companies’ tests.

In this post, let’s review seven excellent examples of how companies use A/B testing. While the same tests may not get you the same results, they can get you inspired to run creative tests of your own.

1. HubSpot’s Mobile Calls-to-Action

HubSpot uses several different calls-to-action in its blog posts. For instance, on this blog, you’ll notice anchor text in the introduction, a graphic CTA at the bottom, and a slide-in CTA when you scroll through the post.

However, on mobile, these CTAs might seem intrusive. That’s why HubSpot tested mobile CTAs.

Previous A/B tests revealed that HubSpot’s mobile audience was 44% more likely to click through to an offer landing page and 18% more likely to convert on the offer if all CTAs were stripped from blog posts and there was only one CTA bar at the bottom of the page with no ability to exit.

So, HubSpot decided to test different versions of the bottom-of-the-page CTA bar, using thank you page views as the primary metric and CTA clicks as the secondary metric.

HubSpot used four variants for this test.

For variant A, the control, the traditional placement of CTAs remained unchanged.

For variant B, the CTA had a maximize/minimize option so readers could dismiss the CTA. This could be accomplished by an up/down caret.

For variant C, the CTA had an X that would completely dismiss the CTA from the post. At this point, there would be no formal CTA on the blog.

HubSpot bottom of the page CTA with an exit option.

For variant D, the CTA had no X or minimize/maximize option.

HubSpot bottom of the page CTA bar.

Overall, variant B saw a 7.9% increase, variant C saw an 11.4% decrease, and variant D saw a 14.6% increase.

From those numbers, HubSpot was able to project that using variant D on mobile would lead to about 1,300 additional submissions each month.

2. Groove’s Landing Page Design

Every marketer will have to build a landing page at some point. But building a landing page that’ll convert is hard.

Groove experienced that first hand when the company learned one of its landing pages was only converting at 2.3%.

However, Groove wasn’t sure why the page wasn’t converting. To figure it out, its team went on a journey. They looked up resources and talked to marketing experts to figure out why their site wasn’t working.

That’s when the company learned that the messaging was all wrong. To figure out how to appeal to its customers, Groove decided to reach out and actually talk to real users.

Then, when the team rebuilt their landing page, they focused on copy first, and design second. Only when the copy was completely finished and approved did they start the visual aspect of designing.

Overall, the tweaks to messaging ultimately doubled their conversions to 4.7%.

Groove's old landing page compared to its new landing page.

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3. HubSpot’s Site Search

Most websites contain a search bar at the top of the page that gives users the ability to search for a specific topic or term on the site.

Based on previous data, HubSpot found that non-bounce desktop users who engage with search have a 163.8% higher blog lead conversion rate than those who do not. However, only a very small percent of blog traffic interacts with the search bar. That’s why HubSpot decided to test the visual prominence and functionality of the site search bar.

HubSpot used three variants for this test, using offer thank you page views as the primary metric.

For variant A, the site search bar increased visual prominence and altered the placeholder text to “search by topic.”

HubSpot site search A/B test variations.

For variant B, the search bar had increased visual prominence, the placeholder text was altered to “search by topic,” and the search function searched the blog, rather than the whole site.

For variant C, the search bar had increased visual prominence, the placeholder text was changed to “search the blog,” and the search function searched the blog, rather than the whole site.

HubSpot site search bar altered language from A/B test.

As a result, HubSpot found that all three variants increased the conversion rate. However, variant C showed a 3.4% increase in conversion rate and a 6.46% increase in users who engage in the search bar.

4. Csek Creative Homepage Design

The copy on your homepage is important because it helps users decide whether they want to continue looking deeper into your site.

In this example, a digital agency decided to test the tagline on its homepage. Ultimately, the goal was to decrease the bounce rate.

Before the A/B test, Csek’s tagline read: Csek Creative is a Kelowna based digital agency that delivers the results that make business sense.”

Csek Creative control landing page language.

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To make the copy less vague and more explanatory of the services it offered, Csek Creative changed the verbiage to: “Csek Creative is a digital agency that helps companies with their online and offline marketing needs.”

Csek's newly written tagline on its homepage.

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Expecting minor results, this change actually resulted in an 8.2% increase in click-throughs to other pages on the site.

5. HubSpot’s Email vs. In-App Notification Center

Gathering reviews from users isn’t always an easy task. That’s why HubSpot decided to A/B test ways to reach out to customers. The methods tested? In-app notifications versus email.

HubSpot decided to send an in-app notification and email alerting users that they were the champion user of the month and would receive a $10 gift card if they left a review on the Capterra site.

For variant A, HubSpot sent a plain text email to users.

HubSpot's plain text email requesting users leave a review.For variant B, HubSpot used a certification, templated email.

HubSpot's templated email asking customers to leave a review.

For variant C, HubSpot sent an in-app notification.

HubSpot's in-app notification to users requesting they leave a review.

HubSpot found that unlike with emails, in-app notifications are often overlooked or missed by users. The emails outperformed in-app notifications by 1.4x. From both emails, 24.9% of those who opened the email left a review, compared to 10.3% of those who opened the in-app notification.

6. Humana’s Site Banners

Many landing pages showcase large banners at the top of the page. That’s valuable real estate, and if the banner isn’t optimal, it could end up doing more harm than good.

That’s why Humana, a healthcare insurance provider, decided to test its landing page banners.

In the control, Humana had been using a banner that displayed a lot of copy, a weak CTA, and no clear and concise message.

Humana control banner for its A/B test.

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However, for variation B the company decided to simplify the message. This variation ended up receiving 433% more clickthroughs than the control.

Humana variation B site banner.

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Humana didn’t stop there. Once variant B became successful, the company decided to make it the new control and wanted to test the CTA.

With variation C, Humana switched the CTA language to include language that was a harder sell, such as “Shop.” The company decided this would be a good approach because customers signing up for Medicare have a limited window to make a decision.

Humana uses a harder sell for its CTA on its landing page.

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The change in language resulted in a 192% increase in clickthrough.

7. Unbounce’s Tweet vs. Email CTA

On most landing pages, marketers typically ask users for an email address to deliver their content offers.

However, Unbounce decided to test whether customers would rather give an email address or just tweet about a product.

Both options have pros and cons for the company. Asking for an email address means your company can build a list of potential prospects while asking people to tweet can build viral momentum and increase social exposure.

The first landing page in this A/B test asked users to give their email address in exchange for an ebook.

Unbounce landing page asking users for an email address.

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The second landing page asked users to send a tweet in exchange for the ebook.

Unbounce landing page asks users to tweet about a product in exchange for a content offer.

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Overall, people far preferred giving out an email address. In the end, the email landing page had a 24% conversion lift.

These companies all saw these amazing results because they started testing. If you want to get the same results, you’ve got to get started, too. For more information, be sure to check out the on-demand webinarOptimize Your Online Marketing Channels,” hosted by Optimizely and HubSpot.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Why 75% of Your Marketing Emails Are Never Read

Emails have a short life. But many don’t have a life at all, according to a recent Adobe survey – into attitudes toward email. Amongst the many insights and data we unearthed, two that stood out for me are opened and read, which means 75% of everything you send is ignored. And when they are read, 50% aren’t considered useful.

It’s easy to conclude, as is so often the case, that this must mean marketing emails are dead. But it would also be wrong. Because we found that people check email habitually and almost always before they go to work. It’s an intrinsic part of people’s lives. They’re not ignoring their email, they’re ignoring the emails they get sent.

So what are we, as the originators of all that ignored content, missing?

Relevance (or a lack thereof)

It’s a big word in marketing and we’d all like to think we’re relevant, because if we’re not then we’re irrelevant. But if most of what we send by email isn’t read and half of what is read isn’t useful, then irrelevancy is what most of us are achieving.

Being relevant isn’t just about appealing to someone’s interests. It’s about doing this at the right time, while not overdoing it. An email with discount codes may contain relevant content – the recipient is interested in saving money on the goods – but if the same offer is sent out every day for months on end, it loses its urgency, so it’s ignored. It is now irrelevant, even though the content is useful.

Responsibility (for getting it right)

Too often, and especially in B2B marketing, we give the job of building the relationship that turns marketing leads into sales prospects to the sales development rep (SDR).  But often they are not the right people for this task and it’s not fair to expect them to take it on, especially when it involves creating a perfectly pitched written copy. SDRs are often at the beginning of their careers and this level of responsibility requires more experience and capability than they can offer.

The point of investing time and money in marketing is to prime potential customers, so when they answer our first call they’re on board. To compromise such a crucial point in the development of the relationship with a poorly composed, inaccurately targeted marketing email wastes that time and money.

Instead, responsibility should lie with people with the skills needed to do this successfully. I regularly check on what we send out because I know people go off the script, from poor use of language to a lack of professionalism. I also know that it’s my job to make sure these issues are dealt with, rather than landing it on someone without the skills or knowledge to do so.

Respect (for the message and the recipient)

It shouldn’t be difficult to spell properly, use the right grammar and correctly construct sentences in the right way. And if it is, then it’s not difficult to find someone who can. Getting this stuff right is not about pedantry and nitpicking. It’s about treating your audience with a level of respect. We’ve taken the time and care to make this read well because we value your attention.

People in positions of influence will respond better to properly articulated messages. And although many people won’t notice a stray apostrophe or an overlong sentence, they’ll notice that they won’t understand the message because it’s too difficult to read.

Email still matters to marketing, and to the people we’re trying to reach. It’s wound into our lives in a way that social media still isn’t, which our survey shows isn’t checked by most people until they get to work.

It may not be as dominant as it was, but email isn’t not going anywhere, and it still offers the chance to get the right message to the right person at the right time. Now it’s time to do a better job at delivering that message.

The post Why 75% of Your Marketing Emails Are Never Read appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Before You Kill That Mobile Subdomain…

Most SEOs I know hate sites with separate mobile URLs. They served their purpose back in the early days of mobile browsers, but over time the maintenance overhead combined with the SEO uncertainty brought on by having two different sets of near duplicate URLs has caused many of us to advocate for migrating to a single set of URLs for both mobile and desktop. But maybe we shouldn’t be the ones advocating…

I have had the pleasure of working on several large M-dot URL migrations. In theory, these projects should be pretty straightforward – 301 redirect all the M-dot URLs to their desktop versions, maintain the redirects forever, and all is well. Too bad theory often runs into a reality brick wall.

When one argues for a big project like an M-dot migration, odds are someone with a nicer office than yours is going to ask for some proof that it’s worth doing. Here’s a handy tweet to whip out when the “Why would we want to do that?” question comes up:

Now I love John Mueller’s advice as much as the next guy, but SEO types often tend to think of themselves within the “scientist” Knowledge Graph, so we also like to see independent corroboration of our crackpot theories. Fortunately Sistrix has a handy tool to estimate organic traffic to subdomains. Let’s look at how some big e-commerce sites have fared with M-dot migrations:

TicketMaster Mobile Subdomain Migration

The Home Depot Mobile Subdomain Migration

If you believe the upticks were even partially caused by the M-dot migrations (and if you believe Sistrix’ data is directionally correct), then pulling the trigger on a migration seems like a no-brainer.

But as we SEOs know all too well, not everything always goes smoothly.

This is what it looks like when a large e-commerce site with an expensive IT consulting firm spends a year redesigning their site and kills their M-dot URLs without redirecting them because “it wasn’t in the original scope and would be too complicated”.

FUBAR M-DOT URL MIGRATION

And this is what it looks like (on SEMRush) when another large e-commerce site does their M-dot migration in phases and neglects to redirect some of the old m-dot URLs. Six months to get back to where they started from.

Phased M-DOT URL Migration

Now I know what you’re thinking – “I run the tightest SEO ship on the planet. Those kinds of screw-ups would never happen to us.” If so, good for you, but you might do well to consider the following conversation I had with the head of SEO at one of the largest retailer sites in the U.S.

SCENE: A networking event. Everyone standing around in business casual drinking corporate craft beers.

ME: (oddly proud) I’m working on a big M-dot migration…

EXEC: (stopped cold) Dude…I pitched a big M-dot migration last year. We estimated a big increase in organic revenue post-migration. After we pushed it live, we saw basically zero lift.

ME:

The post Before You Kill That Mobile Subdomain… appeared first on Local SEO Guide.