Why Content Is at the Center of Modern Customer Journeys

The Experience Makers Live virtual conference held by Adobe this summer was packed with interesting and informative keynotes and breakout sessions on a variety of topics related to modern business and marketing and sales. But there was one major theme that seemed to be the red thread, and became the point that really stuck with me: in a Covid-19 world, content and customer journeys are more important than ever. 

While so many businesses are finding ways to pivot their offerings, services, and even business models to adapt to how consumers are currently limited, those who are becoming more innovative in their content and how they engage customers throughout the customer journey are the ones who are still surviving – and even thriving – during these turbulent times. 

We know that content is king, but why is it especially so important for a modern customer journey? Let’s take a look. 

In-person events and meetings are no longer happening

When we think about a basic sales and marketing process in high-touch businesses, many of the final consideration and decision stage activities are done person-to-person between sales and a prospect. This may mean presentations, product demos, and contract negotiations are in-person, on location. But with some markets completely eliminating the possibilities for in-person meetings, and others strongly advising against it, we need to find ways to quickly adapt to being 100% online and virtual, while still keeping the same high-quality level of service that makes prospects buy.

Even in consumer-facing industries, much of the awareness and consideration stages of the customer journey happen online, though the last leg of decision making may happen in-store or with the help of a salesperson or account manager. As Gary Specter, Vice-President of Global Commercial Business at Adobe mentioned in his opening keynote, “new customers came online and loyalty has increased – showing the importance of relationships over transactions.”

Businesses of all types have had to find new, creative ways to continue to engage customers as they get to the point where they are ready to make a decision, but sales aren’t physically there to convince and convert. This is where new forms of content are taking center stage.

Without the “high-touch” activities of high touch sales, we’ve had to get creative. Product demos are now being presented via video tutorials created by marketing and/or product teams, and sales presentations are done through webcasts and video conferencing. Landing pages and even micro-sites are being deployed for more self-service information discovery and education to happen so that prospects can make informed decisions without requiring the help of a salesperson. 

All of this comes down to building more robust content strategies that take into account that every part of the customer journey is now happening digitally. When we create digital assets that replace old sales methods, we create more scalable opportunities for engaging prospects and customers in new ways. 

Content is the best way to be helpful, relevant, informative, and timely

When it comes down to it, content is the best way to convey to your audiences just how great your business and products or services are. But the greatest advantage of content, and marketing tools like Marketo Engage, is that the right content can be delivered to the right audiences at the right time. Now, the tempo of content delivery is at an all-time high, and the subject of that content is shifting. As Gary Specter says, the businesses who are succeeding now have “erred on the side of over-communicating.”

In Adobe Senior Director Chris Parkin’s presentation, “Redefining the Future with Digital Transformation,” he made the point that agile communications are non-negotiable for businesses in the future. His advice: “Create proactive, personalized, and timely communications aligned to customer and employee content (segment, need, location),” giving the example of how Adobe has become more helpful in their engagement strategies, saying they “rapidly pivoted customer messaging from products to authentic ways Adobe could help accelerate digital transformation and help our customers be more resilient and prepared for emergencies.” 

Without altering content delivery, businesses who push products rather than solutions may falter in appearing sensitive, relevant or helpful enough to buyers. In times of crisis or uncertainty, the businesses who show how they can help and support their customers navigate and adapt together will be the ones to succeed. Content is the best way to show and tell audiences at every stage of the customer journey how you plan to do this. 

The importance of content isn’t new, but the types of content we deploy and how we are utilizing it throughout the customer journey is changing forever. If there’s one thing I learned from Experience Makers Live, it’s that adapting to how customers are now wanting and needing to be engaged comes down to creating new forms of content that speak to how we can help them succeed in the long term. 

The post Why Content Is at the Center of Modern Customer Journeys appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Demystifying the Press Release Format + Free, Easy-to-Use Template

When writing a press release, it is important to follow the accepted press release structure and format, which includes a headline, subheadline, two or three paragraphs for the body, a boilerplate, and contact information. If you don’t use this journalist-expected format, you’re less likely to get media coverage. For best results, also include additional resources,…

The post Demystifying the Press Release Format + Free, Easy-to-Use Template appeared first on Fit Small Business.

The 4 Pillars of Loyalty Campaigns During COVID-19

It’s no secret, times are changing. The past several months have brought significant anxiety and volatility amidst a full-blown pandemic; many people are forced to adjust to the changes and wondering what the new normal will look like once the dust has settled. Likewise, many brands have experienced similar disruptions and are equally trying to navigate change, all while finding new ways to engage their evolving customer base. With only the guarantee of more change on the horizon, many brands are beginning to sound the same in their approach to customer engagement. Here is a quick guide to creating and delivering proactive, effective communications that will maintain customer loyalty in and after these times of uncertainty.

By: Aaron Li, Research Analyst, Aimia

With COVID-19 driving less consumer spending and straining corporate budgets, many businesses are wondering if pulling or pausing their advertising spend makes sense. Consumers are still willing to listen, but are not looking to hear tone-deaf, promotion-based content. 71% of consumers say they will lose trust in a brand forever if they perceive it to put profit above people. Instead, brands should seek to better understand how their customer’s lifestyle and behavior have shifted and provide them with relevant, useful information. Consumers agree too, with 77% saying advertisements should seek to inform how brands are helpful in the new everyday life and demonstrate efforts to face the situation. COVID-19 has shined a spotlight on brands, and it is up to them to play a part in addressing newfound societal challenges.

To accomplish this, Aimia has identified four key pillars of effective loyalty campaigns that not only provide consumers with solutions to cope with pandemic-related challenges, but also account for a communication roadmap to continue building trust with consumers as the economy slowly reopens:

  1. Authenticity is Key
  2. Contribution Over Conversion
  3. Optimism Without Overpromise
  4. Flexibility Through Omnichannel Experiences

1. Authenticity is Key

Brands are under a microscope right now and consumers have made it clear that they will judge responses with their wallets. Offer genuine support to care for your customers and focus on making your business visible and accessible to those who need it, while also using your resources and creativity to make a difference. It’s not about capitalizing on the current climate, it’s about coming together and committing to make changes that benefit everyone. For companies that choose not to take this approach, backlash can be strong, with 33% saying they have already convinced other people to stop using a brand that they felt was not acting appropriately in response to the pandemic. It’s important to remember that many people have been significantly impacted by this virus; empathy and sensitivity will go a long way.

2. Contribution Over Conversion

Regardless of whether your business is non-essential with respect to COVID-19, there are still ways to help. Focus on providing meaningful value to your customers rather than trying to generate more business through promotion-heavy campaigns. This can include information detailing how to stay safe and healthy, or innovative social challenges designed to foster a sense of community and bring people together. In fact, 37% of consumers say they have recently started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way they have responded to COVID-19.

3. Optimism Without Overpromise

From what we’ve seen during the pandemic so far, it’s clear that even expert predictions come with varying degrees of accuracy, as there is still much to learn about this virus. With net optimism regarding a quick economic recovery post-COVID-19 remaining relatively low, brands should avoid overextending on their predictions and promises to customers. 60% of customers are turning to brands that they are absolutely sure they can trust; the last thing you want to do is provide inaccurate information and come across as careless and untrustworthy. What you can promise is your commitment to serve customers as best you can and keep them informed on any key updates as they relate to your brand. Use your loyalty program as a tool to remind and deliver on your brand’s trust.

4. Flexibility Through Omnichannel Experiences

In today’s rapidly evolving environment, flexibility is critical for brands looking to keep up with paradigm shifts in consumer behavior. With e-commerce spend up 77% YoY and 54% of consumers saying they have made purchases from “brands that were new to them”, consumers have demonstrated they are willing to adapt their behavior to ensure their needs are still met; arguably making flexibility one of the most important communication pillars. When incorporating flexibility into your strategy, make sure to leverage available brand assets. Remember, no asset is too large or too small; for example, 40% of retail respondents reported that they adjusted their return policies during the coronavirus pandemic, with a further 27% of retailers considering changes to their existing policy. When changing the flexibility of an asset, keep the omnichannel experience top of mind. 69% of customers expect connected experiences; it is important to ensure a seamless transition between touchpoints. Communicate your brand’s flexibility to show that you have your customer’s best interests at heart.

While all pillars likely have merit with your customers, Aimia suggests prioritizing specific pillars to complement your business objectives.

By incorporating these pillars into your strategy, you will be set up to achieve your business objectives, while also demonstrating you take your customer’s interests to heart and communicate in a compassionate and empathetic manner.  Let’s get started:

1. Protecting Your Best Customers

This objective is focused on immediate steps your business can take to protect the health of your top customers. Demonstrate that you care about their needs and continue to invest in the customer experience. This can range from offering educational resources to investing in channel enhancements for your customers to still access your products or services safely and conveniently. This stage is critical, with 85% of consumers expecting brands to use their power to educate and 88% wanting to know how and if they can still purchase from you. During this time, focus on improvements that will enhance the overall customer experience; 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. To make sure that you’re investing appropriately, take time to reach out and gather feedback from your customers via survey. Show your customers that you care about their feedback by empowering them with an active voice in determining change in your business. Not only are your survey results likely to be more robust since more people are at home and in front of a computer, but consumers will appreciate it too, with 43% finding it reassuring to hear from brands they know and trust during these uncertain times.

2. Maintaining Engagement

This next objective is geared toward flexible offers and purchase options that encourage continued member interaction to drive program growth and prevent customer attrition. Remember that your customers may be engaging in different ways; dial up your data analysis to ensure you understand your customer’s behavior and meet them where they are today. For example, knowing that in-store visits are causing some customers anxiety, a retailer could offer BOPIS incentives with additional upsell opportunities once customers arrive at the store; customers could earn an extra bonus on items they buy at the location. Offering additional discounts to healthcare workers and others on the frontlines is another way to help, with 89% of consumers agreeing this reflects positively on a brand. Additionally, special financing, flexible payment terms, and lower interests are appealing to consumers, with 88% interested in these benefits.

3. Re-Engaging Customers

The last objective is centered around long-term re-engagement of your members to prevent customer churn. Since many individuals have stated that COVID-19 has significantly altered their shopping behavior, it is important for brands to pivot their messaging and promotions to meet customers where they will be shopping long-term. For individuals that prefer to shop in store, a welcome back bonus or incentive could be added to their account upon first in-store purchase. While targeted promotions should help mitigate customer churn, it is important to continue and build upon hygienic business practices for physical locations or travel implemented during COVID-19. With 80% of customers still wary to resume regular out-of-home activities and 31% citing cleaning and sanitation as the top criteria when choosing where to visit, it is critical for businesses to continue to reassure and show members tangible safety measures put in place to keep them safe.

To ensure your messaging resonates, optimized delivery with effective targeting is key; a segmented approach rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to messaging allows you to provide relevant content to each one of your unique customers. Aimia has developed key insights that can help businesses in RetailCPGTravel & Hospitality and Banking think through what a comprehensive COVID-19 strategy may look like. Regardless of your industry, personalization is critical — with the attributable data from loyalty members, you can analyze how consumer behavior has shifted by the day, week and month. From this holistic data view, you can trigger the Next Best Experience for your customer. Any messages, offers or promotions during this time should feed directly to your customer’s wants and needs. Brands who are able to innovate their customer experience while acting with compassion and empathy will build stronger relationships that last well beyond COVID-19’s passing.

The post The 4 Pillars of Loyalty Campaigns During COVID-19 appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

The Ultimate Timeline of Google Algorithm Updates (+ Recommendations)

Google is a fickle beast. The search engine is imperative to the success of your web content, but no one truly knows how the Google algorithm works (except for the elusive Google search-quality team, of course).

Google’s search engine is also ever-changing. Google didn’t become the number one search engine in the world without prioritizing its user experience. It achieved this leading position by continually updating its algorithm to meet its user’s needs and delivering the best possible results (not to mention engaging users with new daily doodles on the Google homepage).

If your content doesn’t keep up with these Google algorithm updates, you risk losing valuable space on the search engine result page (SERP) … as well as potential visitors, leads, and customers.

In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about the Google algorithm, its nine most recent updates, and how your company and content can follow suit.

While the exact number isn’t certain, SEOs believe there are certain ranking signals that Google considers when displaying results. These include factors like keyword usage, domain history, site usability, and more.

This is why, as businesses and marketers, we must optimize our on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO to make it easier for our pages to rank and so consumers can find our content.

Did you know over 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day? The search engine is by far the most popular among its competitors, which means the vast majority of your audience (and potential audience) is actively searching Google for information your website or blog can deliver.

How can you ensure your content ranks high enough on the SERPs to get your audience’s attention? By adhering to the Google algorithm and its updates.

Since its conception twenty years ago, Google has made thousands of updates to how its search engine works, including the ones in this timeline. In fact, the team makes small updates to its algorithm on an almost-daily basis.

Google also releases Core Updates a few times a year — you can read about Google’s recommendations on those here.

In this post, I’ve detailed nine of the biggest and most impactful Google algorithm updates in chronological order. 

1. Google Panda (2011)

Release date: February 23, 2011

Google released the Panda Update to combat thin, duplicate, or plagiarized content, keyword stuffing, content farms, websites with high ratios of ad-to-content, and other quality issues. It was also released to reward unique, high-quality content.

Google Panda gives every web page an internal quality score that attempts to mimic human qualification, i.e. how a human might respond to and rank a piece of content. This score is then factored into how each website ranks on the SERPs.

Panda was originally introduced as a filter for search engine results, but in January 2016, it was added to the core algorithm.

How to adjust for the Google Panda Update:

  • Use a site crawler like Botify or Screaming Frog to identify thin (e.g. low word-count or duplicative) content on your website and blog. If you find any, consider combining and/or archiving those pages.
  • Ecommerce sites are especially vulnerable to duplicative content — in these cases, use canonical URLs to indicate to Google which version of each page should be prioritized in the SERPs.
  • Rewrite and update content to reflect better grammar, syntax, and language. Keep content formatting consistent.
  • Remove or rework any low-quality or underperforming content. (You can identify this content based on low traffic and/or low conversion rates.)
  • Focus on creating genuinely unique content that provides unique value to your visitors and customers. Google provides 20+ questions to help you determine quality and value.

2. Google Penguin (2012)

Release date: April 24, 2012

The Google Penguin Update was released to combat black-hat link building techniques, such as spammy links, link directories, and keyword-stuffed anchor text. Google calls them “black hat webspam” and defines them as “techniques that don’t benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be ranked.”

Prior to the Penguin Update, link volume — regardless of quality — was a heavy influence on how pages ranked on the SERPs. Penguin attempts to better understand how websites were earning their links and ensure that only high-quality, trustworthy, and relevant links were rewarding the sites they led to.

Google Penguin only affects inbound links — the links leading to a site, not away from it. Penguin monitors for black-hat link building techniques and over-optimized anchor link text. This is when too many inbound links for one website contain the same anchor text, which can alert Google that the links aren’t natural or earned.

Penguin was also added to the core algorithm in late 2016.

How to adjust for the Google Penguin Update:

  • Follow white-hat link building techniques to build high-quality, relevant backlinks.
  • Don’t participate in Private Blog Network (PBN) link schemes, which often lead to site penalties.
  • If you hire an agency or freelancer for link-building, make sure you ask how they’re building links. No money should be exchanged between the agency and the person or organization linking to your site.

3. Google Hummingbird (2013)

Release date: August 20, 2013

Google released the Hummingbird Update to provide a more conversational, human search experience. Google wanted to better understand the context of what people were searching for — versus the specific terms within their search query.

The Knowledge Graph was introduced the year before, but Hummingbird improved upon this feature. This update also brought about Google Authorship, which was discontinued in 2014.

Hummingbird uses natural language processing that includes semantic indexing, synonyms, and other features to interpret queries and produce results. It weeds out keyword-stuffed, low-quality content to create a more personalized, accurate search process and show SERP results that matched searcher intent.

How to adjust for the Google Hummingbird Update

  • Focus on conceptual content, not simply keyword-driven content. Expand your keyword research to include different phrasing, commonly asked questions, and similar terms.
  • Use tools like AnswerthePublic to expand on context when doing keyword research.
  • Conduct competitive analysis by searching your keywords on a new Google SERP and see what related content and SERP features (like Knowledge Graphs or featured snippets) pop up.

4. Google Pigeon (2014)

Release date: July 24, 2014 (in the US) and December 22, 2014 (in the UK, Canada, and Australia)

Google released the Pigeon Update to better calibrate the local algorithms with the core algorithm. The goal of this update was to reward local businesses that have a strong organic presence with better SERP visibility. It was also to answer user search queries with accurate local results influenced by traditional web search ranking signals.

Pigeon treats local search the same as traditional organic search, just with local cues. It considers searcher location when displaying SERP results, and allows searchers to treat Google Search and Google Maps the same. For example, you can search “best accountant near me” in both engines, and the results should be similar.

How to adjust for the Google Pigeon Update

  • Leverage on-page SEO and off-page SEO tactics to ensure Google recognizes your business’s location and other local ranking factors.
  • Create content and media that associates your business with a specific location, such as a neighborhood, town, or city. This will help improve your local SEO.
  • Register with Google My Business to manage how your business information appears on Google SERPs. Create and manage profiles on other important directories like Apple Maps, Facebook, Factual, Foursquare, Superpages, and Yelp.
  • Make sure your location information is consistent across all your web properties, i.e. your website, social media, Yelp listings, etc.

5. Google Mobilegeddon (2015)

Release date: April 22, 2015

The Google Mobile Update (nicknamed “Mobilegeddon”) officially incorporated mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. The update prioritized mobile-friendly websites on mobile SERPs, and the sites that weren’t mobile-friendly were either penalized or removed from the SERPs altogether.

Mobilegeddon was yet another effort by Google to continue providing the best possible search experience for its users. “When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps,” Google announced in 2015.

Mobilegeddon penalizes websites that aren’t mobile-responsive and rewards those that are. It only affects mobile searches and individual web pages (not entire websites), and it affects queries and websites globally, in all languages.

(Since Google moved to mobile-first indexing, however, the mobile-friendliness of your site now impacts how you rank for every query.)

How to adjust for the Google Mobilegeddon Update

6. Google RankBrain (2015)

Release date: October 26, 2015

The Google RankBrain Update was part of Hummingbird. RankBrain is a machine-learning powered component of Google’s algorithm that works to better understand searcher intent and deliver the most accurate, relevant SERP results.

Many SEO strategists believe it serves to measure how searchers interact with search results and then ranks the results accordingly. (This could explain why your SERP looks different when you search for the same thing multiple times.)

It has also been theorized that the RankBrain algorithm identifies relevance features for the websites that rank for a given query, establishing query-specific ranking factors and signals.

Google has called RankBrain the third-most important ranking signal.

How to adjust for the Google RankBrain Update

7. Google Snippet Length Increase (2017)

Release date: November 30, 2017

Google’s Snippet Length Increase Update increased the Google meta description length from 155 to 300, almost doubling the word count. The goal of this update was to provide more useful descriptions of web pages and help searchers better understand how a result might be relevant to their query.

For about six months, meta description lengths were reported to be between 160-300 characters (depending on the search and resulting content), but as of May 13, 2018, Google rolled back most snippet lengths to about 150 — where they originally were.

How to adjust for the Google Snippet Length Increase Update

  • Given that Google rolled back their meta descriptions to their original length of ~150, we don’t recommend changing your snippets at this time.
  • Keep your descriptions under 150 characters to ensure the full snippet shows up on SERPs.

8. Google Mobile-First Indexing (2018)

Release date: March 26, 2018

The Mobile-First Indexing Update was another nod from Google to those websites that are using a mobile-friendly website.

Here’s how Google explains: “[Historically,] our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.”

When producing search results, Google will continue to pull from a single index of data; this update means they’ll be populating more of this index with mobile versions of website content. Also, this update primarily affected how websites are indexed, not how they are ranked — but that’s not to say it’ll affect rankings down the line.

“Having mobile-friendly content is still helpful for those looking at ways to perform better in mobile search results,” Google says. “[But] we may show content to users that’s not mobile-friendly or that is slow loading if our many other signals determine it is the most relevant content to show.”

How to adjust for the Google Mobile-First Indexing Update

  • As always, ensure your website is mobile-friendly. (If you have AMP and non-AMP pages, Google will prefer to index the mobile version of the non-AMP page.)
  • If you have separate URLs for your mobile site (an m-dot site), confirm that your mobile page reflects the same content as your desktop site. (Google prefers to index your mobile URL.)
  • Make sure structured data and metadata are used on both your desktop and mobile versions.
  • Read through Google’s best practices for how to prepare for mobile-first indexing.

9. Google Medic Update (2018)

Release date: August 1, 2018

The Google Medic Update was the third, broad, core algorithm update of 2018. The disproportionate impact it has on sites in the health and wellness industries is how it received its nickname. However, it didn’t target those industries; it also had a large impact on websites in all other industries.

In general, SEO specialists theorized that the Medic Update was another update that targeted “quality” issues like thin, duplicate content, slow load times, inaccurate title tags, and bad user experience.

Unlike the other updates on this list, the Medic Update didn’t target a specific type of web content or release a new part of the core algorithm. However, Google released an official statement about it: “There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

How to adjust for the Google Medic Update

  • Make sure your off-page SEO and technical SEO are intact and that there are no underlying issues.
  • Continue to produce helpful content that provides unique value to your visitors.
  • Follow white-hat link building techniques.

10. Google BERT Natural Language Processing Update (2019)

Release date: October 25, 2019

The Google BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update was an effort by Google to better understand the language in which people search. It’s similar to RankBrain and serves as an additional effort to understand searches; it didn’t replace it.

BERT was a significant search algorithm update. As reported by Google: “With the latest advancements from our research team in the science of language understanding … we’re making a significant improvement to how we understand queries, representing the biggest leap forward in the past five years, and one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.”

In short, BERT helps Google users find useful and accurate information. The update allows Google to capture more of the nuance and context in queries and not lean so heavily on the use of prepositions or phrasing to clarify questions. (Check out some live examples of BERT here.)

BERT was also applied to featured snippets in over two dozen countries and languages.

How to adjust for the Google BERT Update

Grow Better with Google Updates

As a business owner and marketer, these Google updates may seem repetitive, detailed, and a lot of work. You’re not wrong. When I first reviewed these and considered the changes I needed to make to my website, I’ll admit I was a little overwhelmed.

But it’s important to remember that Google wants to create a fantastic search experience for its users … including you and me. These algorithm updates are designed to prune out the lazy, low-quality, and illegal content that’s not only filling up our search queries but also competing with our own business and marketing content.

In short, these algorithms are good things! It’s up to you to use them to your advantage.

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

How Facebook Ads Have Evolved [+What This Means for Marketers]

According to a recent study from Statista, Facebook has an estimated 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide, including roughly two-thirds of the US population. There’s no social media platform more prominent or ubiquitous. No other online destination offers you more potential exposure to prospects.

A well-maintained Facebook presence is central to many — if not most — companies’ social media strategies. It’s a key factor in processes like conducting outreach, projecting legitimacy, generating interest, and driving traffic to other content and company resources.

One avenue businesses can leverage to make effective use of Facebook as a marketing tool is paid advertisements — a format that has moved through several iterations over the years.

Here, we’ll get a timeline of some of the most important, interesting milestones in Facebook ads’ evolution, a picture of what the future might hold for the medium, and what this all means for marketers.

The History of Facebook Ads

2004: Facebook first starts generating ad revenue with its “Flyers” project.

Roughly two months after Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin launched Facebook in February 2004, the two took some minor steps to monetize the platform — just enough for a small financial cushion to help while the company got off the ground. 

As Zuckerberg said in an interview with the Harvard Crimson shortly after the platform went live, “It might be nice to get some ads going to offset the cost of the servers.”

That April, Facebook started selling bits and pieces of ad space to companies promoting moving services, T-Shirts, job listings, and other offerings for students.

The ads themselves weren’t particularly sophisticated, and the founders didn’t have much of a firm grasp on digital advertising. Still, the project represented a milestone in the history of Facebook advertising.

Image Source: Business 2 Community

It was the first time the platform tried to make money from the platform through ad sales. Unrefined and seemingly uncoordinated as it might have been, the Flyers project still helped keep the platform afloat during its early days and warrants a mention on this timeline.

2007: Facebook officially launches its Facebook Ads platform.

Some three years after Facebook’s initial launch, the company introduced a large-scale, official ads program to the platform. It gave businesses the space to create individual profiles — just like standard users — to post content, share photos, and engage with Facebook users.

As Zuckerberg put it, “The core of every user’s experience on Facebook is their page, and that’s where businesses are going to start as well…The first thing businesses can do is design a page to craft the exact experience they want people to see.”

The new program also introduced “Social Ads” — ads that combined social actions from a user’s friends, like a recent purchase or review of a business, with an advertiser’s message.

This allowed advertisers to deliver more specific, targeted ads to users that included information from their friends. These ads appeared either within a user’s news feed or in the site’s designated ad space.

The history of Facebook Ads 2007

Image Source: CNN

At Facebook Ads’ official launch — 2007’s Facebook Social Advertising Event — Zuckerberg summed up his vision for the program, “Facebook Ads represent a completely new way of advertising online. For the last hundred years, media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation.”

2011: Facebook launches its desktop ad program called “Sponsored Stories.”

In 2011, Facebook introduced its “Sponsored Stories” project — a program that placed paid advertisements directly on users’ news feeds. Initially, the company pledged to only show users just one sponsored story on their news feeds per day. Those stories also stemmed solely from friends or pages users already liked.

The history of Facebook Ads sponsored stories

Image Source: Mashable

As a product manager from Facebook described it, “Anything that one of your friends is seeing as a sponsored story which features some of your content is actually something they would have already seen in their news feed. A sponsored story never goes to somebody who is not one of your friends.”

The history of Facebook Ads sponsored stories 2

Image Source: TechCrunch

Though it was impossible for users to opt-out of the program entirely, they still had the option to close out individual ads. “Sponsored Stories” certainly rubbed some users the wrong way, but advertisers saw it as a big win. Finally, they had the space to display their ads directly in the mix of social content and consumers’ news feeds — a wildly valuable stretch of virtual real estate.

2012: Facebook launches its mobile ads program.

Up until 2012, Facebook’s mobile app didn’t actually make money. It didn’t feature ads, and the move to incorporate them was considered a risky play. Consumers weren’t exactly thrilled with the idea of having ads take up space on their mobile feeds.

The history of Facebook Ads mobile

Image Source: VentureBeat

Facebook opted to subtly ease advertisements into users’ feeds. Its mobile ads plan borrowed heavily from the desktop platform’s “Sponsored Story” strategy — seamlessly blending in paid promotional content and having it look like standard statuses or other user-generated content.

The company’s mobile advertising strategy aimed to make ads as discreet as possible. It provided limited real estate to advertisers, pressing businesses to create engaging, interesting content to capture consumer attention within tight confines. The strategy ultimately proved successful and further drove advertisers’ collective need to optimize for mobile.

2014: Facebook rolls out its three-level advertising campaign structure, offering “campaigns” and “ad sets” — on top of standard ads.

In March 2014, Facebook introduced its new ad structure. Until that point, the platform’s campaign structure consisted of two levels: campaigns and ads.

Campaigns — the overarching plans that correspond to specific advertising objectives — were designed to help users optimize, and measure results of individual ads. With this new development in Facebook advertising’s evolution, a buffer was put between those two levels.

Ad sets — subsets of a campaign that could feature their own budgets and target separate audience segments — were introduced. Those sets gave advertisers a new level of structure for honing in on, best appealing to, and better understanding demographics of particular interest.

The history of Facebook Ads ad set

Image Source: Facebook

According to a Facebook press release, the program was designed to “make it easier for advertisers of every size to organize, optimize and measure their ads.” It was a game-changing milestone for the platform — one that made its advertising infrastructure more thoughtfully regimented and easier to navigate.

2016: Facebook introduces bots to its Messenger platform.

In 2016, Facebook made a push to capitalize on the tremendous advertising potential of its siloed mobile messaging function. One of the ways the company looked to take advantage of the system was through the incorporation of chatbots. Facebook offered businesses two paths for bot incorporation — “Sponsored Messages” and “Click-to-Messenger” ads.

“Sponsored Messages” are ads that appear directly in a user’s Messenger inbox — ones that allow users to automatically communicate with a chatbot by clicking them.

The history of Facebook Ads chatbot

Image Source: BotsCrew

“Click-to-Messenger” ads leverage CTAs to place ads in users’ Messenger inboxes. A business will draw users in with some sort of incentive — like a discount or piece of content — on the original Facebook platform and automatically send them a message via chatbot once they click on the offer.

2018-2020: Facebook expands its ad formats, featuring eight separate advertising options.

Over its history, Facebook has consistently expanded its available advertising formats, aiming to effectively monetize the platform without compromising user experience. As of 2020, the company offers eight different advertising options:

As time goes on, you should expect to see this list expand and the nature of mediums it covers shift and progress. New technology and trends will bring new formats to explore and familiar processes to refine.

The Future of Facebook Advertising

If there’s anything to learn from Facebook advertising’s evolution, it’s that the processes and practices behind the concept will never remain stagnant. Mark Zuckerberg will never look at the platform’s advertising infrastructure and say, “Yeah, I think we nailed it. We’ll never need to change any of this ever again.”

Advertising on Facebook will continue to evolve and adapt as new ad formats emerge, privacy and data regulations loosen or constrict, its user base changes, and social media trends come and go. There are too many factors at play to expect anything but constant, likely significant changes in the practice as time goes on.

So, what can marketers take away from this article? Is there any recurring theme underlying success across every phase of Facebook advertising’s evolution?

As Facebook advertising has progressed, the companies that thrived in every stage were the ones that shared high-quality, engaging content that wasn’t too abrasive.

Consumers aren’t using the platform because they want to see ads. That’s why the content you share on the platform has to come across as natural, interesting, and not too jarring.

If you prioritize producing and sharing valuable, interesting advertisements that won’t overwhelm or frustrate your target audience, you’ll put yourself in the best position possible to thrive as Facebook advertising continues to progress.

8 Ways to Ensure Your Local Press Release Gains Media Coverage

Writing a local press release is the first step businesses should take when attempting to share their news with the audiences most likely to be impacted. However, there is no guarantee that newspapers, TV, or radio outlets will air it. That said, there are a number of things businesses can do when writing their press…

The post 8 Ways to Ensure Your Local Press Release Gains Media Coverage appeared first on Fit Small Business.

The EU-US Privacy Shield has been struck down: what are the implications for EU companies using US software?

The EU’s rules around data privacy state that data cannot be transferred out of the EU unless appropriate safeguards are in place. On 16th July 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that the current safeguards around the transfer of data from EU countries to the US were not adequate; that citizens’ privacy was not properly protected. The “Privacy Shield”, the name given to these safeguards, was struck down.

The main reason that the challenge was brought before the European Court of Justice was because a private advocate argued that US national security laws did not protect EU citizens from government intrusion.

What does this mean for EU businesses using US software?

US software companies use US-based data centres; that means that when you use these services, your data is stored in the US. However, this does not mean that your data is now unsafe. US companies can add what are called ‘SCCs’ – standard contractual clauses’ – to their contracts, which effectively replace the Privacy Shield on a company by company basis. 

As you might expect, many US-based technology companies have either added SCCs to their contacts, or in many cases, already had them in place, just in case something like this happened.

However, SCCs on their own are not enough to transfer data to the US. Supplementary measures are needed. These measures ensure that the US government cannot impinge upon the adequate levels of data protection that the US company provides. 

It’s important for all users of US based software to check that your provider not only has SCCs in their contracts, but also that their supplementary measures are fit for purpose. 

As it is not uncommon for EU-based software companies to partner with US-based companies for some services (called sub-processors), it’s worth checking your software provider to ensure that their partners are protected by SCCs and supplementary measures, too.

Where are Text Marketer’s data centres?

For all of our SMS services, Text Marketer’s data centres are in the UK, which, although when it withdraws from the EU will no longer be governed by the GDPR, has incorporated this into UK law with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Withdrawal Bill. So the data standards are the same in the UK as they are in the EU, and data can flow freely between the EU and UK. There is currently no requirement for SCCs between the UK and EU.

If you would like to know more about our rigorous approach to data protection, please read our Information Security Statement, or get in touch with us on 0117 205 0202 or at info@textmarketer.co.uk.

The post The EU-US Privacy Shield has been struck down: what are the implications for EU companies using US software? appeared first on Textmarketer.

A Preview of Air Canada’s New Aeroplan Program

Trust Over Turbulence

Air Canada has announced a new loyalty program that celebrates bringing people together. But will the innovative play, promising rich features such as family-member points sharing, digitally-integrated search and redemption experiences, and flexible seating options be enough to sway cautious customers in the era of COVID-19?

The airline’s new Aeroplan points system will be launched November 8th, and although the update timely coincides with an economy battling a pandemic, the overhaul was contemplated before COVID-19, according to chief executive Calin Rovinescu. In fact, some of these changes have been awaited since 2017, when Air Canada announced that it was cutting ties with the company that managed its loyalty program to conduct program development in-house.

Mark Nasr, Vice President, Loyalty and eCommerce at Air Canada goes on to state: “Since we announced our commitment to improve Aeroplan, we’ve been listening to feedback from more than 36,000 consumers; we’ve benchmarked against loyalty and frequent flyer programs from around the globe, and we’ve completely rebuilt our digital infrastructure. The result is a truly responsive and flexible loyalty program delivering a more rewarding experience so that members can travel more and travel better.”

Flexibility and bonus perks are the foundational elements supporting the new program advantages. Many of the features revolve around sharing benefits with family members and providing new ways to benefit from an industry fraught with regulation and red tape. Providing customers with these enhanced freedoms and utility, especially from a flag-carrier airline, is relatively unique in the industry.

Len Covello, CTO of Engage People, and a Canadian CLMP, added additional commentary to this annoucement:

“At a time when many airlines are either devaluing points or reducing loyalty program offerings, Air Canada stands out against the rest with its new Aeroplan program by offering more to its most loyal and profitable customers. The changes put in place truly put the customer first, which is crucial in a challenging air travel market.

Looking holistically, the Aeroplan program removes some of the long-standing barriers in travel programs — like expensive and limited redemption for flights and complex earning schemes. Once air travel picks back up, this paves the way for increased engagement with Aeroplan as a loyalty program, and not just for its core business traveler.”

Here are some of the key new features:

  • Elimination of seat restrictions or black-out dates for points redemption.
  • A family sharing model that allows members of the same household to combine points for free.
  • Removal of airline surcharges from transactions.
  • Flight upgrades on Air Canada Premium Economy or Business Class (if seats are available).
  • Members have the option to combine points with cash for transactions.
  • A Points Predictor Tool enables educated points utilization considerations.
  • Extra perks, including Wi-Fi and entry to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge.
  • Direct transactions available through aircanada.com or on the Air Canada app.
  • An expanded suite of rewards, such as electronics and merchandise.
  • Conversion of “Air Canada Altitude”, the former elite status membership tier, to “Aeroplan Elite Status”; these members can earn 50% off of eligible flight rewards.

The roll-out will be a seamless transition. On November 8, 2020, current Aeroplan accounts will automatically be transitioned to the new program, and in a change of branding strategy, Aeroplan miles will now be described as “Aeroplan points”, with existing balances to be honored on a one-to-one basis.

Industry pundits like Len will be closely examining the impact of the program on any tangible success metrics, but turning the needle won’t be easy; the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has recently forecasted the worst year of financial performance in the history of the aviation industry, with a predicted global loss of $84 billion USD.

The post A Preview of Air Canada’s New Aeroplan Program appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

8 Really Cool Ways to Use Video in Email Marketing

This morning, as usual, I started my day by checking my emails.

While this process doesn’t usually excite me and is just my method for waking up, I came across a subject line that made my heart race with excitement:

Knowing that I would be starting my day with a new music video from one of my favorite bands made me smile. It also made me feel valued as a subscriber to their record label’s emails — with just one video, Specialist Subject Records strengthened the consumer relationship I have with them.

This is why video email marketing is such an effective strategy. With a simple embed and subject line, you can build stronger relationships with customers, generate leads, and strengthen the content behind your brand.

Let’s talk a little more about it.

What is video email marketing?

Video email marketing is simply including videos in email marketing. If you’re unsure about how to do that, we have a quick how-to post here.

Because video is an extremely popular medium in marketing, (in fact, 83% of marketers feel its importance is only growing) including it in your email marketing can engage your subscribers and increase your conversions.

Additionally, did you know that over 80% of businesses use video in their marketing efforts? This is likely because of the results video implementation gives them. While using video in email can seem like a taboo topic, it can be very effective.

By using video, you can tap into the imagination of an audience that absorbs information visually — sometimes text just doesn’t do it. With video, you have a chance to make dense topics more compelling for your audience.

Next, let’s talk about ways you can use it in your next email campaign.

How to Use Video in Email Marketing

Videos can dramatically increase click-through rate (CTR).

For example, B2B software company Igloo Software decided to show off their workplace culture by creating 200 videos in three months for future email content. This approach doubled their CTR.

This is one way to use video in email marketing — showcase your brand in email and use it to increase CTR. We have six more, which we’ll explore now.

1. Use video for bonus content to delight your subscribers.

Consider using emails to give subscribers bonus content. Email subscribers are likely to enjoy a variety of your content, so going the extra mile with a surprise bonus could delight your audience. 

For instance, if you share weekly newsletters about Instagram content, you can add a link for early access to a live webinar you’re hosting about Instagram Stories at the end of the month. That way, you can build interest for the event, keep subscribers in the loop about things going on within your company, and give them an incentive to keep checking your emails. 

Alternatively, you can use emails to alert subscribers about bonus material you offer through other channels. For instance, this is an email I received from creators I subscribe to on Patreon, a subscription-based content service:

LGTC video email marketing example

The email served as a reminder to check my Patreon dashboard to see other offers. I could also play the video directly in the email, which is a great method for email deliverability and personalization. It was a wonderful surprise, and kept the email format readable. 

2. Make emails a more personalized experience.

Do you have a backlog of video content on your website? Consider using that to your advantage and sending personalized emails.

For instance, let’s say someone watches a portion of a video on your website that they don’t finish, and you’re noticing this is a pattern when you analyze your website data. Marketo‘s formula is to automatically send that video in an email to remind that user to finish.

By doing this, Vidyard reported that Marketo raised their CTR by over 144% due to the personalization of that email. If I were sent a video I meant to finish in an email, I’d surely open it to complete that video. I’d also feel pretty important to the company as a customer.

From a business perspective, this means more clicks for you, a better relationship with the customer, and more views on videos.

3. Display company culture with a video.

If you’re struggling with thinking of out-of-the-box ideas for email content that shows off company personality, consider heading to YouTube. 

Yes, you read that right: YouTube. 

What better way to show subscribers the culture in your company than going straight to the source? Let’s look at this email from beauty company, Glossier, to illustrate: 

Example of Glossier inserting a YouTube video into email marketing.

This email embeds a simple video from a Glossier influencer, showing viewers her morning routine using the company’s products. If you click on the video’s image, you’re taken to a YouTube playlist that highlights the makeup routines of Glossier affiliates, celebrities, and employees.

Getting a peek into how Glossier employees use the skincare and makeup in their daily routines adds a sense of normalcy and relatability to the company. I got to see the people behind the marketing emails, and what I saw were employees who were just like me.

Framed as a fun, “TGIF!” email, this messaging also had a promotion. If you click on the CTA, you’re brought to Glossier’s main product page with a reminder to spend Friday’s payday at the company’s ecommerce store. 

Email marketing doesn’t have to be a blatant show of products. Sometimes, you can subtly promote your products within a display of company culture. Try experimenting with a blend of public-facing content to promote your brand, like Glossier. 

For example, let’s say you want to bring attention to that new advertising metrics tool you’ve just launched. You might consider asking your marketing team to film a short video of the product’s daily value. Then, you can embed the product page in the video’s thumbnail. (Consider giving employees a heads-up that their response might be part of a marketing email). 

4. Announce an event with a video. 

If your company hosts events, whether internal or external, take videos of the events for a recap to send subscribers. This way, you can give subscribers a taste of how your brand works in-action and build interest in your company’s events overall.

For instance, do you host or participate in quarterly industry mixers? Try including a video in an email about the most recent one, along with a CTA for subscribers to learn more about the next one. The video can also serve as social proof that these events are well-attended and informative for other people in your industry.

5. Announce a product line or launch with a video.

Confession: I’m a little obsessed with makeup company, Fenty Beauty. When it was first announced, I immediately signed up for emails. It seems fitting, then, that the team at Fenty Beauty teamed up with Fenty Skin for its initial launch.

Fenty Beauty subscribers were sent an exclusive video from CEO, Rihanna, about the new company and what it would entail. It’s a great strategy to market complementary products through email, since  subscribers are already interested in what your company offers.

Using video email marketing for a product launch.

If you’re launching a new product in the upcoming quarter, maybe it’s a good idea to include email subscribers in the pre-launch phase. For instance, if you’re launching a chatflow bot as part of a CRM update, let email subscribers know first. That way, dedicated customers can express their interest in the product and bring in that word-of-mouth marketing

6. Send out newsletters with videos. 

If you’re giving subscribers scheduled newsletters with no video, you’re missing out! There’s a lot of ways to include video in newsletters so they can be effective. Video-heavy businesses can benefit from newsletter video embeds so subscribers can catch up on content they may have missed — especially if your subscribers prefer watching over reading.

Another way to use video in newsletters is to round-up popular videos in your industry. If your company doesn’t do many videos, this is an excellent avenue for you. Alternatively, if a member of your team is interested in a routine video schedule, try filming a round-up of weekly content in video-form.

For instance, if there was a commercial that rocked your industry recently, include that video in your newsletter with a corresponding blog post about your thoughts to increase traffic on your blog.

7. Move leads along their customer journey. 

Email marketing isn’t just limited to loyal customers — you can also use it to nurture leads. Just use workflows in your CRM to automate videos that will move them along the customer journey. This works with forms you can add right into that video. 

These forms might give your sales team enough information to follow up with interested customers. Or, give leads an opportunity to watch your latest crash course in SEO link building — in exchange for the completed form fields, of course. 

If you’re currently thinking, “I’m no tech wiz, how do I do that?”, don’t worry. HubSpot’s integration with Wistia makes it easy to add this widget into your marketing emails. Check with your CRM software to see if it offers something similar. 

Using Wistia to include video email marketing in a campaign.

Image Source

With this integration, you can add HubSpot forms into a Wistia video for higher engagement. If a lead converts within the video, their viewing data will sync with their contact record. This can be useful for future customer research with video marketing campaigns.

Think about piloting a video email marketing campaign for conversion. If you download viewing data, you can see how to tweak video content to further delight your customers. 

8. Include video in email subject lines.

Formatting is super important in emails and it starts with the subject line. As a consumer, if I see an email with emojis in the subject line, I’m immediately more interested in the email because emojis stick out to me and feel more inviting.

Try including “Video” or a corresponding emoji in your subject line to entice subscribers to open it. You’ll likely want to A/B test a variety of subject lines in the beginning to figure out what your readers prefer.

Another important formatting tip is to embed the video in the email in a place that keeps readers interested. Putting videos at the beginning of an email is a good idea, but placing it near the end invites readers to keep reading to better understand the video.

Video is an incredible way to engage subscribers, old and new. I just received a new one in my inbox, and I’ll prioritize that over other emails. If it sounds pretty hectic to produce new videos for email campaigns, think about using the ones you already have. You may be able to repurpose them into great content for your audience.

 

Do AR Product Previews Actually Lead to Purchases [New Research]

According to a recent Retail Dive survey, 55% of consumers still prefer to shop in stores because they like to see or test out products before they buy them.

But, if consumers could see or try products virtually from home, would they still need to go to the store before making a purchase?

This question has been asked by companies like Amazon, Warby Parker, and IKEA which have embraced AR product reviews. With these previews, ecommerce visitors can see an item of clothing on a photo of their body, preview what furniture will look like in their bedroom, and even size themselves to ensure they’re buying a product with the best fit.

But is this virtual experience really as effective as a traditional store or fitting room at getting people to buy?

Skeptics might say no. With AR being costly to implement and product viewings only requiring a physical store location, many marketers think that this technology isn’t worth the fuss.

However, as the world grows more and more digital, each new generation is making even more online purchases. They’re also embracing technologies like AR/VR for entertainment or retail purposes.

Not to mention, while holidays like Black Friday cause a burst in foot-traffic, retail businesses are finding it more challenging to keep people coming into stores throughout the rest of the year.

While AR might have been inaccessible to retail marketers in the past, could it be a revenue-generating opportunity at some point in the near future?

To determine if augmented reality was actually a beneficial marketing technology, I asked 300 consumers about their experiences with AR product previews using Lucid survey software.

In the survey, consumers were asked, “Have you ever purchased a product (such as furniture or clothing) after seeing an augmented-reality preview of what it would look like in real life?”

Since the technology is still rather new, you might expect consumers to say they’ve never used an AR product preview. However, you might also be wondering if those who’ve used an AR product preview actually converted.

If you think that the general population hasn’t used this new retail technology, you might be surprised by the result below.

Data Source: Lucid

According to the survey, 52% of consumers have purchased at least one item after seeing an AR preview of how it would look in real life. Over 30% of that group have purchased multiple products after previewing them with AR.

So, what does this mean for small or medium-sized retailers?

Understandably, you might not be able to afford AR technology to highlight your products just yet. However, the fact that more brands are using this feature to influence purchasing decisions means that technology and personalized digital marketing tactics like AR previews will likely become more prominent.

Just because you can’t afford AR now, doesn’t mean you’ll be unable to leverage it in the future. As augmented reality grows more prominent and more valuable to businesses, AR ecommerce tools might become more accessible or competitively priced. This is a theme we’ve seen with the influence of artificial intelligence.

While the technology was pricey and inaccessible to small-to-medium businesses at first, there are now a number of affordable out-of-the-box tools that marketers and businesses can leverage.

Even if you can’t take advantage of the latest marketing technology today, it’s still important to keep up with how other retailers are using it — especially if they’re selling products in a similar category as you.

Below, I’ll walk you through a few AR strategies that effectively benefit retailers now, or could be a vital product marketing tactic in the future:

3 AR Product Marketing Strategies to Watch in 2020

Mobile Previews on Ecommerce Sites

With this strategy, a mobile ecommerce website visitor can find a product they’re interested in, open a camera when tapping an AR preview button, and then view how the product — such as furniture — will look in the room they’re in. Some ecommerce platforms also allow prospects to see what an accessory such as glasses, will look on their face. If a customer likes what they see in an AR preview, they can exit the preview and make a purchase without setting foot in a store.

With increasing mobile ecommerce, this strategy allows visitors to discover a product through mobile search or an app, visit an ecommerce site, get an idea of what it looks like in real life, and then smoothly purchase it wherever they are. It also eliminates key friction points that could halt a purchase such as going to the store or not finding a product in the right size or color in a physical retail location.

At the moment, we’re already seeing corporations like IKEA, Home Depot, and Amazon embrace AR product previews on mobile sites and apps. But, this strategy might not be totally inaccessible to smaller businesses.

For example, a small bicycle retailer called PureCycles wanted to improve its website’s mobile experience and conversions. With a large catalog of bicycle product shots taken from multiple angles, they created AR previews with Shopify.

PureCycles says its use of virtual previews improved the customer experience on mobile-optimized browsers and allowed customers to answer key questions about their products, such as “Will this bicycle fit in my small apartment?”

Virtual Mirrors

Ever seen a shirt you loved in a clothing store but couldn’t find it in your size? Or, have you ever wanted to test out expensive makeup before buying it? These are two business cases that could call for AR mirrors, often called “virtual” or “magic” mirrors.

With AR mirror technology, you can stand in front of a screen in selfie mode, and see an overlay of how products in the store’s catalog will look on you in the right size or shade.

After your virtual experience, some virtual mirrors will allow you to order the product or send yourself a link for it so you can order it later. This prevents any additional friction related to having to wait until the item comes back in stock.

This virtual process also allows you to see products that the store sells but might not sell in the store due to seasonality or space-related limitations.

This strategy is used by Charlotte Tilbury, a UK-based beauty retailer.

Virtual mirrors, purchased and installed by Holition, line the boutique’s walls. When a customer looks into one, the camera and software scan the measurements and skin tone of their face. From there, the customer taps different makeup items on the screen to see how the products will look on their face. Here’s a quick video demonstration of how the software works:

Social Media Filters

Have you ever launched Instagram or Facebook Stories and noticed new AR filters that allowed you to test out products directly through your app? If not, you’ll definitely see more of this soon.

Recognizing the low-hanging fruit of AR previews in ecommerce, Facebook and Instagram, are actively taking steps to provide more commerce that leverage this technology. For example, in late 2019, Facebook made AR filter ads available in Facebook Ads. These ads allow users to test out products in Facebook Stories and its News Feed.

Here’s an example of what one of these ads might look like:

AR social media product filters

Image Source

Leveraging product-centric AR filters on social media provides the perks of the mobile AR previews without relying on shoppers to actually visit an ecommerce site.

As social media users tap through their friend’s Stories or content, they might notice a Story with an AR product in it or discover and AR preview that they can experience. These types of experiences are much more natural than seeing an influencer posting about a dress or makeup item, visiting the ecommerce site, and then doing added research to see if it’s the right shade.

While social AR previews are still in early phases, platforms like Facebook are already identifying types of retailers that could thrive with these tools. For example, AR features that allow users to preview products via social media could be a game-changer in the world of fashion and beauty. In 2018, this industry already saw a 164% social media revenue increase from paid promotions.

With social media users actively engaging with paid beauty ads, brands that are able to leverage AR on Facebook and Instagram would be able to reach social-media-friendly audiences on popular platforms and allow them to try new products.

One company that’s already leveraging AR to highlight products on social media is Dior, which allows users to try looks from its Fall/Winter fashion line on their Instagram Stories camera.

product try on AR filters

Image Source

As social media and mobile surfing continue to dominate how millennials and Gen Z spend their time, the need to invest in clever mobile advertising, such as AR ads, will also grow. .Although the combination of AR tactics and social media is still new — and not worth blowing your budget on just yet — you should still continue to follow brands and competitors that leverage it in case this technology becomes more accessible in the future.

What AR Success Means for Retailers

While the growth of AR shows how businesses are using new technology to benefit the customer journey, the effectiveness of AR and other retail technologies shows that customers are increasingly looking for digital, personalized, and frictionless shopping experiences.

And this makes sense. More and more, people are using mobile ecommerce stores and online social platforms to find, vet, and ultimately purchase products.

Even if you do have a physical store, you’ll need to embrace highly digital tactics to ensure that you’re gaining brand awareness from people online along with people in your neighborhood.

And while you shouldn’t spend all of your money investing in AR, there are other tactics you can take on to inform your audience about your products or services. These include highlighting your products on social media, launching a small but scalable ecommerce store, or sending customers personalized emails about products they might like based on what they’ve already purchased from your store.

15 Professional Email Address Ideas & Examples

You can’t call yourself a professional and still use that old free email address. You know, the one that ends in @gmail.com, yahoo.com, or going even further back in time, hotmail.com. Sure, you could use this, but it’s a surefire way to look unprofessional to your potential customers. Whether you’re looking to maintain a professional…

The post 15 Professional Email Address Ideas & Examples appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Loyalty Newswire – August 17th, 2020

Happy Monday! We hope you enjoy our curated list of industry news! Don’t forget to subscribe to have our Loyalty Newswire delivered directly to your inbox every Monday.

  • Best Western adapts to help travelers meet their needs during the pandemic
  • Crop packaging company Tama Australia launches rewards program as a ‘tangible way to thank customers’
  • UK supermarket Lidl launches its first loyalty app
  • Lucky Brand is the latest retailer to be acquired by NYSE-listed Simon and apparel licensing firm Authentic Brands
  • As more customers buy goods online, a new report finds customer retention at its lowest point in 3 months
  • Domino’s plans to hire more than 20,000 employees nationwide to help meet demand
  • Waze integrates new feature that enables contactless fuel payments with ExxonMobil and Shell
  • Circle K teams with Standard Cognition to pilot cashierless checkout technology
  • Highlights from a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) study shows uptake in mobile and contactless payments
  • Air Canada reveals the details of its revamped Aeroplan loyalty program

LOYALTY PROGRAM NEWS:

With 18 Brands, Best Western Rewards Is Not The Program You Might Remember

Quotable: “Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Best Western Hotels & Resorts, shares details on what makes this program particularly rewarding, even for infrequent travelers, to join, and what measures it took to help travelers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Best Western Rewards is no longer the loyalty program and hotel brand that you might remember from decades past.”

New rewards program for loyal Tama Australia customers

Quotable: “A new loyalty program, introduced by crop packaging company Tama Australia, kicked off on August 3. Like other customer reward programs, each dollar spent on products — such as TamaNet, Silotite, TamaWrap for cotton or Hercules HD for hay — accumulates and can be traded for gift cards, electronics, holidays, sporting goods and children’s toys. Tama Australia marketing manager Susan Taylor said Tama Rewards was a tangible way to thank loyal customers.”

Lidl is launching a loyalty scheme that gives you discounts if you use an app

Quotable: “The supermarket says its Lidl Plus app offers regular shoppers personalised deals based on what they buy. It marks the first time Lidl has ever launched a loyalty scheme. The app is in its test phase and is due to launch fully on September 3, 2020, but customers can still download it for free now on their smartphone.”

RETAIL NEWS:

Simon Adds Bankrupt Retail Brands to Shopping Cart

Quotable: “NYSE-listed REIT Simon partnered with apparel licensing firm Authentic Brands for the acquisitions, amid a flurry of retail bankruptcy filings accelerated by the pandemic. The venture, known as SPARC Group LLC, received approval from a bankruptcy court for the $140.1 million purchase of Lucky Brand, through which SPARC becomes the core licensee and operating partner for the purveyor of trendy jeans.”

Shoppers Are Buying Online More Than Ever, But Customer Retention Is at Its Lowest

Quotable: “Brands have been able to acquire customers at higher rates during the pandemic than in previous months, according to a new survey by customer experience platform Blaze. But retaining these shoppers for long-term success is a separate challenge, one that brands are failing: The report found that customer retention dropped to just 3% by month three.”

Domino’s to hire more than 20,000 workers in US

Quotable: “Domino’s announced Monday that it will hire more than 20,000 employees nationwide for positions including delivery drivers, pizza makers, customer service representatives, managers and assistant managers. The company’s supply chain centers across the U.S. are also hiring for production and warehouse team members, as well as CDL drivers.”

PAYMENTS NEWS:

Waze rolls out contactless fuel payments with ExxonMobil, Shell

Quotable: “Waze on Thursday rolled out a new feature that allows US drivers to link the navigation platform to fuel partner apps for contactless payments at participating Exxon, Mobil and Shell gas stations. When drivers arrive at those stations, a notification in the Waze app will prompt them to securely pay using the fuel partner’s contactless payment app (the Exxon Mobil Rewards app or the Shell app).”

Standard Cognition partners with Circle K on cashierless convenience stores

Quotable: “The Circle K collaboration comes after Standard Cognition installed its technology at a grab-and-go convenience store in Polar Stadium. The startup has made impressive headway, nabbing $86 million in venture capital and cementing a partnership with Paltac in Japan that will see its solution deployed in 3,000 stores.”

What does the pandemic mean for mobile pay?

Quotable: “While there’s no evidence COVID-19 can be transmitted by cash or credit cards, the use of mobile payments and contactless cards has taken off in recent months over concerns about touching surfaces, according to research from the National Retail Federation’s “State of Retail Payments” study.”

TRAVEL NEWS:

Air Canada unveils details of revamped Aeroplan loyalty programme

Quotable: “Air Canada has published details of its revamped Aeroplan frequent flyer programme, ahead of the scheme’s relaunch on November 8. The carrier first announced plans to relaunch its Aeroplan programme back in 2017. Since then the group has acquired marketing and loyalty analytics company Aimia (which Air Canada had previously sold its loyalty programme to), thus effectively bringing the scheme back in house.”

Read last week’s newswire if you missed it: Loyalty Newswire – August 10th, 2020

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

The post Loyalty Newswire – August 17th, 2020 appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

How to Design Content Remarketing Campaigns That Actually Work

You know content marketing works, so you’ve been plugging away at blog posts, ebooks, and other valuable, educational content for your potential customers.

And people come — they find your content in search results and in their social media feeds. But they may not fill out a form and become a lead right then and there. It’s not always because they’re not interested in your message — so how do you recapture those viewers who left your site?

Recapturing audience attention to turn lookers into leads is an effective marketing tactic, and if you’re not doing it, you’re leaving money on the table.

Let me outline for you the sections I’m going to cover in this post:

  1. What the Heck is Remarketing?
  2. What Is the Google Display Network?
  3. Remarketing Campaign Examples
  4. How to Set Up a Remarketing Campaign

Remarketing gives you the opportunity to appear in front of people who have already expressed an interest in your website. They could be checking their email, reading the news, watching a YouTube video… and there you are, with something new and awesome to show them. It could be a reminder to complete an action they had started, or a new piece of content to further a buying decision, and so on.

Remarketing provides the opportunity to:

  • Turn bounced website visitors into leads.
  • Increase brand recall (and thus increase branded searches).
  • Increase repeat visitor rates and engagement.
  • Increase the effectiveness of search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing.

A common stat in the industry is that 96% of people who visit a website leave without completing the action the marketer would have liked them to take. Remarketing gives you a second chance to make that first impression (and even a third, and a fourth). We can’t afford to be forgettable — we have to make our content more sticky.

Alright, so we understand both the problem and the opportunity. Now, let’s dive into the solution. You’re going to learn how to use remarketing strategies with the Google Display Network to dramatically increase the effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts.

What Is the Google Display Network?

The Google Display Network is a group of websites where your Google display (banner) ads can appear.

More than 2 million sites are in the network, including heavily trafficked ones such as YouTube. Google estimates that the GDN can reach 90% of people on the internet.

Who you reach and how often will depend on your ad targeting (more on that later).

graphic that shows google display network's reach in the US across millions of sites, videos, and devices including LinkedIn, CNN, lastfm, eHow, xe, howstuffworks, The New York Times, YouTube, Blogger, Gmail, Google Finance, and Google maps

Remarking Campaign Examples

To further underscore the opportunity that remarketing has to offer, there are some really cool campaign types that you can dig into.

Online Activity

By far the most common remarketing tactic is creating an audience based on their behavior on your website. Your options here are virtually endless — with parameters such as by number of page views (indicating a high level of interest) or by which pages viewed (indicating intent).

Here are some ideas for using this type of campaign:

Targeting by Buyer’s Journey Stage

Your blog posts are earlier in the buyer’s journey than other pages on your site. That means you’d match their intent with an ad that moves them further down their journey rather than one that sells. Targeting by topic or category-say you run a bakery. Why run general ads to audiences that landed on your wedding-related content? Instead, you’d target them with more personalized ads around wedding cakes and desserts.

Targeting by Intent

Aside from just topic, there’s a lot you can learn from your audience’s site behavior. For example, visiting a product page indicates interest, but not making it to checkout could mean a price objection or other friction. This means you need to sweeten the deal in some way (like a promo or discount).

Past Purchases

You can also target those that did make it through your purchasing process and target them with ads to earn an upsell.

YouTube TrueView

The human race spends billions of hours every month watching YouTube ads. You may have your own YouTube content, but perhaps your viewing metrics aren’t quite as high as you’d like them to be, or perhaps your users have no idea you have interesting video content to share.

Using YouTube TrueView ads, you can target your audiences as they are watching other videos on YouTube.

Take the screenshot below, for example. I’m trying to watch a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle video and it’s showing me an ad for a tourism company in Italy. Why? Because I was planning a trip to Florence at the time I took this screenshot, and they’re remarketing to me.

image ad in youtube video

The cool thing about TrueView videos is that you only pay if people view your video content. There’s no cost if the person clicks on the “skip ad” button. If you’re creating video content, why wouldn’t you pay a few bucks to promote it?

Video Views

Speaking of YouTube, your visitors don’t even need to make it to your website in order for you to retarget them. If you have a solid YouTube presence, you can create an audience based on video views. If someone watched one of your videos, you can create a display campaign that shows them your ads even beyond the YouTube platform.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)

Here’s another interesting but advanced thing you can do. It’s a little complicated, but I promise it’s awesome. It’s called Remarking Lists for Search Ads.

RLSA lets you target people in your audiences with customized ads when they perform searches for specific keywords on Google. 

graphic illustrating RLSA process: users visit your site, get added to your remarketing list, then you show them customized ads when they search on Google

Say, for example, someone visits your site. You tag them, and now they’re in one of your audiences.

That person then searches for a competitor of yours. This probably means they’re doing some comparison shopping.

Using RLSA, you can target that comparison shopper with a specific ad, like a 10% discount code or something similar. Knowing that the person visited specific pages on your site and is now performing specific searches, it’s possible to come up with very specific and compelling ad copy.

Bonus: Remarketing With Facebook

Noticeably absent from the GDN is Facebook, the other big player on the web, and that’s because they have their own remarketing system through Facebook Custom Audiences.

It works in much the same way — the difference being that ads are shown to users within the Facebook platform.

How to Set Up a Remarketing Campaign With Google Ads

Like I said earlier, using the GDN for remarketing gives you a great deal of reach. Generally, you can find your tagged site visitors on the network many times per day, several days per week, and across many different sites. 

1. Define your audience.

One of your first steps in remarketing is to define the specific audience(s) you want to remarket to. For example, you could create an audience for people who visited your blog or for people who visited specific pages on your website, like your pricing page. This will enable you to reach out to just those people with offers and messaging to suit their interests.

To define an audience, create a new remarketing list in Google Ad. Google will take care of setting all of the cookies; all you need to do is specify which website visitors to include or exclude from your audience. 

new remarketing list interface within google ads

Segmenting different lists of users enables you to show different ads, depending on which section of your site they visited.

A secondary benefit is that you can bid more aggressively to get more impressions and higher ad positions, and to get visitors to the higher value sections of your website. For example, your data might show that visitors to your pricing or product page are more valuable than your blog visitors.

Another creative remarketing strategy for content marketers is to define audience categories in Google Ads based on the different post categories in your blog. If you already have a ton of blog content that is classified by topic, leverage those existing classifications in your remarketing audience definition strategy.

3. Set audience membership duration.

In remarketing, the audience membership duration is the number of days that you follow a user around with your ads. For example, if I set my audience membership duration to 60 days, then users who visit my site will see my ads for 60 days. You can test and tweak this number to see what’s right for your audience.

Ad fatigue is a real thing in every industry and across every medium: TV, radio, print … and, yes, display ads. 

Now, I’d like to address a concern I’ve heard from some fellow marketers: that overly aggressive remarketing will make your prospective customer feel uncomfortable. Let’s look at a few facts and see just how “creepy” remarketing really is.

According to
Kenshoo, retargeting can lift ad engagement rates up to 400%, 60% of consumers are neutral about the topic of retargeting ads, and 25% say they actually like them.
Wishpond reports that the average click-through rate for retargeted ads is 10 times that of a regular display ad, and retargeting can lead to a 726% lift in site visitation after four weeks of exposure.

So, be bold! People visited your site for a reason, and past browsing history is among the strongest predictors of future purchasing intent. It’s worth testing out remarketing with relatively higher impression caps and membership durations and seeing what happens. As long as your offers and messaging are on target and you’re providing value, it’s not creepy. I would suggest:

  • Try setting your audience membership duration to an amount equal to 3x your average sale cycle length.
  • If it typically takes an average of one week to go from first touch to sale, set the audience membership duration to three weeks.
  • Don’t worry too much about impression caps. (Remember, more impressions means higher conversion rates. Consider rotating though multiple ads per campaign to combat ad fatigue.)

3. Create a killer ad.

Now that we’ve talked about defining an audience to remarket to, let’s focus on how to create killer remarketing ads.

Understand Ad Formats on the GDN

There are several different display ad formats on the Google Display Network, some of which are shown below.

examples of google display ads responsive formatsImage Source

Type Dimensions
Mobile 300×250, 320×50, 320×100, 250×250, 200×200
Desktop 300×250, 336×280, 728×90, 300×600, 160×600, 970×90, 468×60

Ad formats matter to marketers because of how the ad auction works. Different ad formats do not compete against each other for positioning, as shown in this screenshot:

example webpage with multiple display ads: shows that different ad formats do not compete against each other but same format ads still do

Write Copy That Resonates Emotionally

According to neurosciencemarketing.com, an emotional approach in advertising is nearly twice as effective as a rational approach. The same emotions that draw people to your content will drive people to click on your ads. 

The key here is to create ads that resonate with users on an emotional level. Stay away from boring, plain, informational ads that look the same as every other ad out there. Instead, create ads that appeal to your audience on an emotional level.

Content marketers are uniquely qualified to become fabulous PPC marketers. Why? Because so much of the success and failure of PPC marketing relies on the creativity of your ads.

For example, look at these ads for a search of “Big Data Solutions” — the ads are essentially all the same:

ads for "big data solutions" where none of the competing advertisers have unique ad headlines

Content marketers, on the other hand, tend to have a few creative bones in their bodies. I call this a Google Ads Jackpot because it reminds me of hitting a row of lucky 7s in Vegas — I just hit a Big Data Solutions jackpot! If you can come up with an emotionally charged, totally different and stand-out ad, you can blow away the competition.

4. Perform ongoing CTR optimization.

Google doesn’t make money by showing ads no one clicks on, so it makes sense for them to show ads that are more likely to get clicks. They use an algorithm called Quality Score to determine which ads to show, what position each will display in, and how much to charge the advertiser for each ad click.

To provide an incentive for advertisers to create great ads, they give out huge discounts for ads with high clickthrough rates… and dish out huge penalties for ads with low clickthrough rates.

This all sounds good in theory, but how do you create an ad with high clickthrough rate?

1. Send people to your high-value offers. 

What should you be featuring in your image ads? The most common tactic is to simply promote your highest value offers, like a free trial of your product, a request for a demo, etc. This is my top-performing ad: 

remarketing ad from wordstream with a puppy on it that says "my dog ate my ppc! no more excuses for poor results"

Of course it has a cute puppy. How could it not? Make people love your ads, not dread them.

2. Do a conversion path analysis.

The goal here is to figure out which pages on your site, if visited during a user’s session, result in a much higher probability of the user converting to a lead or a sale. For example, the highest converting page on your site could be your product overview page. Come up with a list like this one and target those pages in your remarketing audience.

excel spreadsheet showing different pages and their conversion rates, indicating the top converting pages are ideal for remarketing

3. Send people to your best content.

Check out this ad from my colleague Marty Weintraub at AimClear, which sends anyone who clicks to his PPC analyses.

remarketing ad at the top of a page that says "10 kevlar ppc analyses and process for a bulletproof account"

But how do you know what content to feature in your ads?

4. Analyze social shares on your blog content.

If you analyze your blog content, what you’ll usually find is that around 5% of your pages generate half of the shares on social media.

For example, I analyzed all of the articles on one business blog over the last year and found that on average, a typical article gets several hundred shares on social media. However, the top 5% of articles gets tens of thousands of social shares. Not surprisingly, we found that the same stories that work well on social media also tend to do very well as featured content within ads.

5. Get strategic with bid management.

Now that you have remarketing audiences and ads down to a science, let’s turn our attention to bid management strategies. 

Remember, in PPC marketing, you have to pay for each click. The advertiser specifies a maximum cost per click that they’re willing to pay, but the key here is not to buy every possible click. Rather, you want to be super picky and just cherry-pick the clicks that are the most relevant to your business. The way to do this is through bid management.

It doesn’t make any sense to remarket ads to everyone in your audience. Why? Because not everyone who visits your website is a qualified buyer.

With Google Ads, you can overlay user demographic information on top of your remarketing audiences to find the needles in the haystack. For example, someone from Zimbabwe could visit your site — but they can’t convert if you can’t ship there.

Here’s when it comes in handy to know a thing or two about your target customer persona.

  • What are the ages?
  • Parental status?
  • Where do they live?
  • Gender?
  • What time do they search for your products?
  • What is their income?

You can be very picky, and just bid for the people in your audience who also meet your demographic filters.

You’ve done your research, you know your topic, you have something interesting and entertaining to say — but sometimes you need that extra push. As individuals and brands have become publishers, the game has been upped big time. Competition is fierce.

With remarketing, we at WordStream increased our repeat visitors by 50%, tripled our average time on site, and saw a huge increase in direct visits to our site.

In short, content remarketing enabled us to maximize the value of every piece of content we put out. We were able to get each piece in front of the audience with the most intent, at the right time, and via the right channels.

You can achieve this kind of success too with a killer remarketing campaign and the right advertising plan.

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

5 Best Email Service Providers for Small Businesses in 2020

Small businesses and startups need to use a professional business email address, but they also need affordable email. We looked at more than a dozen business email service providers and narrowed the list down to the top five, comparing each on price, storage limits, accessibility, reliability, spam and virus protection, and available integrations to find…

The post 5 Best Email Service Providers for Small Businesses in 2020 appeared first on Fit Small Business.

The Loyalty Academy Celebrates the One-year Anniversary of Let’s Talk Loyalty With an Unprecedented Scholarship Award

The Loyalty Academy™, the professional education and training platform operated by Wise Marketer Group, has announced a special scholarship offer for professionals in the global loyalty marketing industry. The scholarship will cover all course tuition and membership fees associated with earning the distinction of Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional™ (CLMP) as sanctioned by the Loyalty Academy. The scholarship, a $1,750 value, is being offered to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Let’s Talk Loyalty, the leading podcast in the industry. A special podcast event has been scheduled for August 20, 2020 where details and entry requirements will be announced.

Let’s Talk Loyalty™ with Paula Thomas, CLMP, has recorded and released 50 episodes featuring loyalty industry professionals from around the world. Show downloads have exceeded 16,000 during this inaugural year. The listening audience has enjoyed listening to industry experts offering points of view relevant to the global loyalty industry and represent 83 different countries and every customer facing marketing channel.  

“I started the podcast as a way to contribute to the industry,” says Ms. Thomas, “in a manner that was truly innovative and would also help busy people like me continue to learn. I never have enough time to read all the articles I want to or travel to all the various loyalty conferences around the world, so I decided to create just a few podcast episodes to meet and interview a few global leaders of loyalty. I loved it so much, I didn’t stop. Now I can’t believe a year has passed and the show is getting so much incredible support from listeners all over the world!”

The podcast shares up to date information, case studies, tips, and opinions on loyalty marketing. It is easily accessed by registering on the Let’s Talk Loyalty website and is also available from The Wise Marketer. Archived shows are available from the entire first season.

The scholarship concept was a natural for both partners. “I worked for eight years running some huge loyalty programs in Ireland. But with no formal training, I always wondered if I was doing enough for our members. When I finally found the Loyalty Academy™ and completed my CLMP studies, I was so delighted to feel that I had now a comprehensive foundation of knowledge that confirmed everything I knew and added plenty of useful insights too! I’m so thrilled to be able to offer one lucky professional the same fantastic education as a scholarship in partnership with the Loyalty Academy.”  

Bill Hanifin, CLMP and CEO of The Wise Marketer Group, added, “Our vision for The Wise Marketer and Loyalty Academy is to provide a central information hub for loyalty marketing professionals on a global basis and Let’s Talk Loyalty opened up a powerful channel to share information and insights from the brightest voices in the industry. We are proud to be in partnership with Paula Thomas in this effort.”

ABOUT WISE MARKETER GROUP

Wise Marketer Group (WMG) is a global customer engagement and loyalty media company that delivers timely and unbiased publishing, research, and educational products to a world-wide audience of marketing professionals through the Wise Marketer and Loyalty Academy brands. WMG has two decades of experience researching, covering, commenting on, and educating loyalty marketing practitioners. The Wise Marketer is the most widely read news source in the industry with a readership-base over 11,000 in 128 countries around the world. Since 2015, 170 loyalty marketers in 20 countries have earned the Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional™ (CLMP) designation through the Loyalty Academy’s digital and in-person education and corporate training programs. For more information, visit www.TheWiseMarketer.com and www.LoyaltyAcademy.org.

ABOUT LET’S TALK LOYALTY

Let’s Talk Loyalty is the world’s first independent podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. The show is targeted at loyalty industry professionals who specialize in creating, running and optimizing marketing programs that drive customer loyalty. Podcasts are a great way to stay up to date, and this show is designed to support the global loyalty community to continually learn from each other. If you work in loyalty marketing, listen every week to Let’s Talk Loyalty to learn the latest insights from loyalty experts around the world.  For more information visit www.letstalkloyalty.com.

The post The Loyalty Academy Celebrates the One-year Anniversary of Let’s Talk Loyalty With an Unprecedented Scholarship Award appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Analytics

There are over 3.8 billion social media users across the globe.

As you can probably imagine, that’s a major reason why businesses want to be active on social, too. Businesses use social media to market, sell, and provide support to their target audience and customers as well as learn about and bond with them.

The key is to understand what types of posts on which platforms are most effective in resonating with these audience members and customers.

This will allow your business to consistently produce engaging content that positively impacts your bottom line.

How do you do this? Well, it requires social media analytics and reporting.

What is social media analytics?

Social media analytics is the process of gathering and analyzing data and reports based on metrics from one or multiple social media accounts.

Social media analytics provides insight into a number of important factors that are directly tied to the success of your marketing efforts and your business as a whole.

Here’s a list that explains the importance of social media analytics:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of who your target audience is and where they spend their time
  • Identify which social platforms receive the greatest amount of traffic
  • Determine what type of social content leads to the most conversions, engagements, etc.
  • Discover what type of social media post has the greatest reach and resonates best with your audience on certain platforms
  • Learn about what is and isn’t working in terms of social media campaigns and ads among your audience while they’re live and after they wrap up
  • Develop a stronger social media strategy for your business’s specific goals related to things like your marketing, sales, and service efforts

Social Media Analytics Reports

Social media analytics reports provide an overview of specific metrics and data points — such as engagements and impressions — related to the content you share on various social media platforms. Simply put, reports are how you’ll review your social media analytics.

Social media analytics tools (which we’ll review next) make the creation of reports simple — some of these resources provide reports from one social platform at a time while others provide reports from multiple social platforms.

Either way, social media analytics reporting tools are typically customizable — meaning, you can view and pull the data and reports that matter most to you and your business.

With the tools we’re going to review below, reports can be automatically made and shared for you. But, here are some of the unique aspects of social media analytics reports that you can typically customize:

  • Statistics and data points that matter to you and will be displayed in the report
  • Time frame (weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, campaign start to end)
  • Progress growth (i.e. how you’ll share your progress growth over time through a report — typically, either in the form of a snapshot or a comparison of stats in a given time period).

Learn how to create impactful monthly reports to show ROI on your social media efforts.

As stated, your reports will be unique based on the analytics software or tool you use. However, let’s look at some of the most common social media analytics reports that you may come across or create at some point.

Types of Social Media Analytics Reports

To give you an idea of some of the different types of social media analytics reports available in commonly-used tools, let’s look at HubSpot’s social media analytics reporting options.

1. Audience Analytics Report

The Audience report displays your current number of followers for each of your social accounts compared to the number of followers you had in a previous time period.

2. Published Posts Analytics Report

published posts social media analytics report

The Published Posts report shows the number of social posts published across your social accounts during a specific time period.

3. Interactions Analytics Report

interactions social media analytics report

The Interactions report displays the number of likes, reactions, and comments on all of your posts across multiple platforms.

4. Clicks Analytics Report

clicks social media analytics report

The Clicks report displays how many clicks you get on your social posts published through HubSpot.

5. Shares Analytics Report

shares social media analytics report

The Shares report displays the amount of your posts that were shared by your audience members.

6. Impressions Analytics Report

impressions social media analytics report

The Impressions report shows the number of views that posts on your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram pages received.

7. Sessions Analytics Report

sessions social media analytics report

The Sessions report displays how many web sessions took place within a given time period on your site that were driven from social media.

8. New Contacts Analytics Report

new contacts social media analytics report

The New Contacts report displays how many new contacts have been created in HubSpot as a result of web sessions driven from social media within the selected time period.

Now you may be wondering what tools are available to help you pull these reports and data — next, we’ll cover some of your options.

Social Media Analytics Tools

There are a plethora of social media analytics tools available today which is why identifying the right one for your business can seem like a daunting task. We’ve compiled the following list of seven of our favorites to help get you started.

Download 10 free social media templates to help you manage and optimize your content to achieve the best results.

1. HubSpot Social Media Software

HubSpot Social Media Software gives you insight into the customer journey through integrated analytics tools. These help you understand which of your marketing tactics are working best among your audience, determine how your marketing efforts are impacting your bottom line, and learn about your search engine optimization (SEO)-related ROI.

Try HubSpot’s social media tools free for 30 days.

In addition to this HubSpot’s Social Media Software, there are a number of resources including social media analytics report templates, free social media analytics tools, and social media courses available for you to implement in your strategy.

Note: HubSpot also integrates with other analytics software, like Oktopost, as well as major social platforms and their respective analytics tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube (among many others, which you can learn about in the HubSpot integrations marketplace).

2. TweetDeck

TweetDeck is an analytics tool used for Twitter. It works in real-time to help you view and analyze your Tweet engagement, organization, management, and tracking on the platform.

3. Tweet Reach

Despite what you may think based on its name, Tweet Reach isn’t just used for Twitter. The analytics tool creates snapshot reports to help you efficiently monitor and pull key takeaways from your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook profiles based on factors you identify as most important to your business.

4. Buffer

Buffer provides an in-depth look at how you can strategize to grow your brand on social media. The software does this by measuring your performance on various social platforms, creating detailed reports about the data points that matter to you, and recommending ways to improve your reach, engagement, and more.

5. Hootsuite

Hootsuite allows you to create customized social media reports using over 200 metrics over any of your social channels and campaigns. These reports are easily shareable with members of your team as well as your clients to keep everyone on the same page and prove ROI.

6. Sprout Social

Sprout Social provides a look into the needs of your customers through the conversations your customers and followers are having on social. The software also measures your specific content and campaign work across various platforms and channels to determine what’s working best among audience members and what should be improved upon.

(Note: Sprout Social is another social media software that integrates with HubSpot.)

7. Mention

Mention is a tool that allows your company to monitor, listen, and analyze your posts as well as your interactions with and among audience members via different social channels and platforms. The software also makes it easy to create automated reports to share this data with fellow employees or clients.

Next, let’s look at how to apply these tools and resources in your day-to-day work by reviewing the steps involved in tracking social media analytics (also known as your social media analytics strategy).

Work through the following steps to begin tracking your social media analytics and gaining a better understanding of which parts of your processes are working and which need to be modified. Again, you can think of this as your social media analytics strategy.

1. Set SMART social media analytics goals.

Create and set SMART goals to help you achieve your social media analytics goals. By ensuring your goals are SMART, they’ll be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound — meaning, you’ll be able to focus your strategy to reach or even exceed your expectations efficiently.

To begin, ask yourself, “What do I want to learn from my social media analytics?” Then, dive into each part of the SMART goal. Here’s an example of a SMART goal related to your social media analytics strategy for reference.

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

  • Specific: I want to use social media analytics to identify specific data points related to my marketing tactics to determine which posts and campaigns are working best in reaching and engaging our audience members.
  • Measurable: I want to be able to identify some specific data points to accomplish this goal.
  • Attainable: I will work to identify three specific data points to help accomplish this goal.
  • Relevant: These data points will help my team and I measure our success in reaching and engaging our audience members across social media channels as well as identify any gaps or areas for improvement in our social media strategy.
  • Time-bound: I want to identify these specific data points over the course of the next month — this way, in four week’s time, we can begin using them to measure our success in reaching and engaging audience members across social channels and identify gaps and areas for improvement in our social media strategy.

2. Decide which metrics you’ll and focus on and track.

Now it’s time to decide which social media metrics you’re going to track. There are a number of commonly-tracked social media metrics for your consideration. Metrics may vary by social platform as well as which analytics tool you chose. But, here are some all-encompassing metrics applicable to virtually every social channel and analytics tool to get started.

  • Reach is the total number of people who have seen your content.
  • Engagements are all interactions including shares, likes, and comments.
  • Impressions are the number of times or content is displayed on someone’s feed.
  • Mentions are the times your business and brand are referenced on social media by audience members or other businesses.
  • Social ROI provides insight into whether the investment you’ve put into your social media marketing is resulting in an increase or decrease in customers, sales, brand awareness, and customer loyalty.
  • Social listening is when you monitor conversations about your business and brand on social to see what customers and audience members are saying about you.
  • Likes are when an audience member taps (or double taps) on your social content to show they’re a fan of your post.
  • Retweets/shares/reposts are when audience members post the content your business published on their profiles.

3. Determine which social media analytics tools you’ll use.

Next, determine which social media analytics tools you’ll use — we covered some popular choices above but you can always review other options through a simple Google search.

Before making a decision regarding which tool or tools you’ll use, think about the following questions:

  • Do you want a tool or software to help you manage your social media analytics across multiple channels and platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) or just one (e.g. Twitter)?
  • Which metrics did you decide you’re going to track (as we touched on in the above step)?
  • What is your budget? Do you need a tool with flexible pricing options and features that you can add to or remove from over time? (To find this information, review the pricing pages like this page on Sprout Social’s website.)
  • Which tools and software options are suited to help you achieve the SMART goals you set? (Check out feature pages for this type of information, like this page on Oktopost’s website.)
  • Do you want your tool to integrate with the greater software your team uses to run your business (such as HubSpot’s CRM, for example)?

4. Measure the success of your social media analytics efforts.

Once you implement your social media analytics software, you’ll be able to measure the success of your efforts. To do this, you may use the analytics tool you implemented — depending on your software, you might have the ability to create customized reports and dashboards or pull the specific details about data points you care most about.

In addition to applying your tools to help measure your success, you may also consider your answers to the following questions:

  • Did you achieve your SMART goals?
  • Did the metrics you chose to focus on tell a story that’s helpful for your business?
  • Did the software or tool you implemented support your business needs?

5. Make necessary social media analytics adjustments.

Once you measure the success of your social media analytics efforts, you’ll be able to determine whether or not any part of your strategy needs to be changed or updated.

Maybe you realize one of your data points isn’t providing the level of insight into your marketing efforts across social platforms, so you need to identify a new one to measure. Maybe your software doesn’t allow you to customize cross-channel reports the way you want to, so you need to implement a new tool. Or, if you’re happy with the way your social media analytics reporting and strategy is working, be sure to revisit your strategy in the future to ensure it continues meeting your expectations.

Begin Tracking and Applying Social Media Analytics

By tracking and applying the process of social media analytics to your strategy, you’ll be able to more effectively reach your audience. And when you do this, you’ll see improvements in factors that are directly tied to your ROI like engagement, conversions, loyalty, and more.

Consider which tools and software are best for you and determine how you’ll track your social media analytics to create deeper relationships with your customers and followers.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

18 Beautiful New Ebook Templates [Free Download]

Did you know that landing pages have the highest conversion rate at 23% than other types of signup forms? But landing pages don’t convert visitors to leads all by themselves — without attractive and compelling offers behind them, they won’t generate the tons of leads for your sales team that you want them to.

That’s why it’s so important to create valuable content people want to download, and then package it in a way that’s visually appealing to your readers. A big part of the ebook creation process is making it look both professional and attractive so people want to read it and share it.

We know not every team has someone in-house who can (or has time to) whip up a slick, highly shareable ebook design. But we have good news: You don’t need to be a designer by trade to design beautiful ebooks yourself. With the right resources and approach, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

We created ebook templates to help make this process easier for you — and they were so popular that we decided to revamp the offer for 18 new-and-improved ebook templates for you. We hope these templates minimize the time you spend on the details of design, allowing you to concentrate on writing valuable, lead-generating content your readers will love.

Download the Templates Now

Start With One of These Free Ebook Templates

Here is a preview of some of the ebooks you’ll find in the template bundle:

1. Artistic Theme

example page from the artistic theme that reads "creative ebook template with an artistic theme" in purple along with a dynamic photo of a laptop with purple screen

This template uses white space so that you can have your colorful headers, eye-catching graphics, and stunning images do all the talking. It includes several layout options so that the design is kept fresh from one page to another.

2. Professional Theme

example page from the professional theme that reads "creative ebook template with a professional theme" along with a photo in the center and banded blue background

Create a professional but bold feel with image-based title pages and thick, bold fonts. This template also includes photo-heavy pages, making it perfect for a showcase or inspiration guide.

3. Honeycomb Theme

example page from the honeycomb theme that reads "An Intro To This Topic of Your Choosing" in yellow against a blue background where the bottom half is repeated honeycomb shapes

Speaking of geometrical shapes, this one uses hexagonal shapes in the background and for emphasis, providing a striking honeycomb theme. In addition, you’ll also find page layouts for quotes and captioned photos, making it a good choice for ebooks with a variety of types of content.

With these slick new templates, you’ll be able to:

  • Create beautifully designed ebooks without either the cost of a designer or experience with InDesign/Illustrator/Photoshop.
  • Choose from six different ebook designs across three different platforms (Adobe InDesign, PowerPoint, and Google Slides), and even add your own brand colors to any of them in a few quick steps.
  • Spend more time writing awesome content and less time getting the layout right.
  • Use all of the stock images provided in the templates, free of charge.
  • Save your ebooks as professional and attractive PDF files that are ready for download.

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

Business Continuity | Reinvention & Digital Transformation

When COVID-19 showed up and became a global pandemic, no one had a playbook – let alone the definitive one – on how to respond and adapt your business continuity to the unprecedented challenges it brought.

As stay-at-home orders and social distancing went into effect and business trips, conferences, and gatherings of any significant size were canceled, we were quickly reminded of how vital the face-to-face human connection is to doing business.

We had little choice but to pivot to all available digital resources for conducting business internally as well as with customers and partners. For many, that meant a major transition to completely online sales and service, as was the case for Minnesota-based Legacy Toys, which had been established and developed based on providing an in-store, hands-on customer experience.

However, owner Brad Ruoho told Fortune that “he had to quickly pivot his business and accelerate plans (which were already in motion before the pandemic) to build an online store immediately.” Ruoho said, “We grew so quickly from literally shipping nothing to shipping several hundred packages a day.”

Adapt and advance your business during a pandemic

The traditional office culture of commuting to a physical office building and gathering with colleagues or traveling thousands of miles to meet with clients has been such an ingrained way of conducting business that many organizations were reluctant or outright refused to offer a work-from-home or virtual option. Why? Because that’s the way we’ve always done things, and nothing was forcing us to change. Enter: COVID-19.

The world discovered simultaneously how much it needs both the human and the digital aspects working in collaboration to enable life and business to pivot, adapt, and reinvent normal. It’s nothing that digitally mature businesses didn’t already know. But such scale and diverse application required continued innovation and adaptation to each unique context and circumstance, whether business, education, social, or personal.

While in-person office life is sure to remain important in many respects, thousands of companies discovered that they can indeed function with a largely remote workforce. Because they had to.

Suddenly, the world had to find ways to manage stay-at-home orders while working, schooling, socializing, and even entertaining from home. Thankfully, digital tools had been developed to the point of enabling these many adaptations across sectors, industries, and businesses.

Now it is time to recognize that the digital era has fully begun. Finding ways to begin, continue, and accelerate the digital transformation of your business is now a clear necessity for moving forward into the post-pandemic world. Ready or not.

That world is still developing and ever-changing and is sure to present many unforeseen challenges. But we can be sure of a handful of lessons that we’ve learned since early 2020. These lessons are not so much best practices as they are guiding principles for reinventing business using digital solutions to create a better world for all people.

Leverage real-time customer insights

Even before the pandemic, customers were changing from moment to moment and businesses used intelligent digital tools to gain real-time insights from customer data to keep up with evolving consumers. Data analytics helped businesses see changes in their customers’ behavior and better understand what they need, want, and how they’re feeling. This enabled data-driven action to effectively respond in real-time.

According to Deloitte, “COVID-19 painfully shows that digitally native organizations that are “insight-driven by default” show much higher resilience… These organizations are equipped to manage the crisis more smoothly, and we also expect them to recover and excel faster…”

Companies with greater digital maturity have been able to respond with agility to customer needs. And sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic as it changed even more rapidly and drastically than it had before.

For example, many companies found innovative ways to respond to customer needs by making services and resources available, such as making the Adobe Creative Suite available to college students when they no longer had access to tools in university technology labs during the Spring 2020 semester, in addition to other programs offered to help students and faculty continue to be creative and productive.

Enable agile communications through the pandemic

Here’s where your real-time, data-driven customer insights become actionable as you adjust your messaging and communications accordingly. With information and, consequently, customer and employee sentiment changing so quickly and so often, it’s essential to be able to pivot your communications with agility based on real-time data.

Many organizations established regular newsletters, updates, and digital channels for sharing company communications with employees and customers as well as providing spaces for them to ask questions and find out how colleagues and counterparts across organizations and industries were responding and adapting.

According to a McKinsey report, “Leaders may be inclined to defer to governments and media outlets for clear and simple safety instructions. Don’t. Employers often underestimate how much their employees depend on them as trusted sources.”

Creating centralized spaces for communication and engagement with employees has been important for Walmart, as their employees have used OneWalmart, the company intranet site, to stay informed about rapidly changing policies as well as access resources. Helping employees feel engaged and informed will help them to be more confident, engaged, and productive on the job as well.

Nurture human connection as an essential aspect of your digital transformation

This is what makes agile communication so important since communication is essential to human connection. Monitoring and supporting employees during the adjustment to working from home, which included schooling children from home as well, has been a major area of focus during the pandemic to ensure mental and physical health. Part of that effort is checking in on your employees, maintaining communication to keep them in the loop and engaged with each other and company culture. This has taken the form of Zoom happy hours, trivia nights, and other virtual social events.

Some ways to maintain the sense of connection and engagement alongside integrating digital transformation include continuing onboarding welcome traditions, check-in emails, and measures to fight burnout as well as make meaningful connections.

Ultimately, communicating clearly and authentically, providing spaces for engagement among customer and employee communities, and demonstrating care and concern for your employees and customers as human beings will continue to develop and strengthen your company culture and brand value through the pandemic and beyond.

As we’ve heard before, digital and human transformation are complementary, two essential aspects of the same process. Machine computing power and algorithmic intelligence expand and augment human capabilities, and uniquely human traits such as empathy, strategic thinking, and contextual awareness make effective use of machine learning insights. The human connection remains essential.

Embrace the digital revolution

As Stacy Martinet, VP of Marketing Strategy and Communications at Adobe, said, “We’re not going back. The digital revolution is here. This is the beginning of whatever chapter is next, and whatever people learn now will serve them well for this next era.”

The old normal isn’t coming back. And that’s a good thing. Make the best of the challenges and opportunities to grow and evolve, for you and your customers. Work, school, business, entertainment, travel, and everyday life must change, and we have this opportunity to shape our reinvented world.

Get more in-depth insights into the reinvention of normal and check out the Adobe Business Continuity Playbook for lessons on adapting and advancing your business during a pandemic.

The post Business Continuity | Reinvention & Digital Transformation appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

What Is a Domain Name & How Much Does It Cost?

A domain name is the website address people type into their browser to visit your site, such as www.yourbusiness.com. Every website is required to have a domain name as it’s how people find and view sites from the web. Domains cost around $12 to $15 per year and can be purchased directly from a domain…

The post What Is a Domain Name & How Much Does It Cost? appeared first on Fit Small Business.

Finding Success with Healthcare Loyalty

Healthcare is one of those things that people take for granted — until they don’t. If anything has been learned from the ongoing pandemic and its effect on people, loyalty and commerce, it’s that healthcare is alternately a service, a product, a commodity, and a necessity, depending on need, greed, and sundry other factors.

On the consumer side, it can be a medically necessary purchase or discretionary, with ample ambiguity in between, e.g. probiotics, weight-loss products, sleep aids, analgesics etc. In managing the myriad of concerns that compose healthcare for consumers, what is the touchpoint that comes to mind first? Is it the consumer’s primary care physician, insurance company, favorite pharmacy, or a local hospital? Because of the daily transaction nature that is fundamental to pharmacy, we vote for the pharmacy as the primary touchpoint for people seeking to manage all things related to their health and well-being.

Now, during the pandemic, healthcare has become elevated beyond “essential.” But impulse purchases and discretionary spending are taking big hits due to self-quarantines and social distancing. Healthcare loyalty programs can provide a legitimate yet stealthy way to stimulate customers in this difficult time, and we’ve found both major pharmacy chains and healthcare providers prescribing diligent offers to connect with their customers and build customer loyalty. For retailers, healthcare marketing can tie it all together and when done right, should neatly bridge the need vs. want gap.

US Companies pave a path for healthcare rewards

In the US, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid each have fully functional customer loyalty programs. CVS is listed first because they pioneered customer loyalty in this category. The ExtraCare program offers members to earn 2% back in ExtraBucks Rewards on general purchases with accelerated bonuses and special deals through data driven offers and its ExtraCare Beauty Club. Members can access deals by loading to their ExtraCare card, scanning their card at store kiosks, or waiting until they checkout, with scanned items determining additional discounts. Members need to spend a minimum of $50 in qualifying purchases or otherwise reach a minimum of $1.00 in ExtraBucks® Rewards by the end of an earning period to earn rewards. Earnings are not carried over and members must collect their quarterly ExtraBucks Rewards during the 45-day period following the earnings period. Long chided for longest purchase receipt in known civilization, it is quizzical that a program meant to promote healthy living and productive choices would communicate with its members through paper, lots of paper.

Walgreens launched Balance Rewards following CVS in the market and takes a more digital approach to program communications while offering the equivalent of just 1% back on daily purchases. Members earn 10 points per $1 spent on almost everything in store and online. They can unlock additional savings with paperless coupons, special promotions and members only offers. Ultimately, accumulating 1000 points earns a $1 reward. Additional rewards can be earned when the Beauty Enthusiast program is added to membership. Every qualifying purchase adds up to the $50 spend requirement. Balance Rewards has created a partnership with AARP and, when members link a Balance Rewards account and AARP membership, earn 50 points per dollar spent on Walgreens brand health and wellness products, receive valuable coupons via email each month and earn 1.5x points for participating in “healthy choices” programs. The clearest contrast between ExtraCare and Balance Rewards seems to be Walgreens focus on promoting healthy lifestyles and rewarding members for participation and activity. There are several versions of a 4 week health challenge available and progress can be tracked by self-reporting or connecting a health and fitness device to your account. The gamified approach to living a healthier lifestyle is something to build on.

Rite Aid had a loyalty program in place years ago and became a partner in Plenti, the coalition program emanating from the halls of American Express. After Plenti ceased operation, Rite Aid relaunched with wellness+ Rewards℠, where members can earn one (1) Point for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. Customers identify for credit using their wellness+ card by entering a phone number at the register. Accumulated points earned qualify members for tiers which offer discounts on purchases. Tier qualification is determined based on the number of points accrued by the customers in a given 6-month period (periods are defined as January 1 – June 30, and July 1 – December 31 of each calendar year), with Silver Tier (250 – 499 points) unlocking 10% discount and Gold Tier (500 points and higher) delivering 20%. Points are reset to zero on January 1 and July 1 of each calendar year.

Making customer loyalty efforts more complex for Rite Aid is their acquisition by Walgreens Boots Alliance in 2015. For now, the brands continue to operate separately, but it would not be a surprise to see some merging of the two programs in the future.

Canada finds success with healthcare loyalty

Canada is estimated by many industry observers to have the most well developed and mature customer loyalty market in the world. Shoppers Drug Mart operated a highly sophisticated and effective loyalty program which made great use of collected data to deliver personalized offers to its members. In 2013, Loblaws acquired Shoppers for an announced $12.4 billion and its loyalty program is now merged with the PC Optimum program, the successful program operated by Loblaws.

Using the exigencies of healthcare to build loyalty is a win-win proposition and earlier this year Rexall Pharmacies (owned by McKesson since late 2016) launched Be Well, a principally app driven loyalty program designed to bring customer’s health and wellness management into one place.

Rexall is a leading drugstore operator with a history of innovation and growth, dedicated to caring for Canadians’ health “one person at a time”. Today, Rexall operates over 400 pharmacies across Canada. The Be Well program was launched to serve the needs of its broad customer base and the timing was not deterred by world events, including the pandemic. In addition to managing a sensitive economic period, Rexall shifted its business model for loyalty. Previously, Rexall participated in the Air Miles coalition rewards program and ended that association at the end of April and launched the Be Well program on May 1st.

The change in loyalty business model can be complex for any brand and we asked loyalty expert, Mike Hughes, CEO Exchange Solutions, for insights on this process:

“Both coalition and proprietary loyalty programs are used by retailers to execute their growth vision, especially in Canada. For Rexall Pharmacies, a switch to the proprietary Be Well program enabled Rexall to implement their strategic vision of making health care easier and more rewarding by combining health and wellness with loyalty. Whether in health and wellness, apparel, grocery, convenience or any other category, enterprise retailers need to assess the needs of both the business and their customer’s needs when designing and implementing a loyalty and customer engagement program. Rexall Pharmacies did just that, which led to a successful program launch in the midst of a pandemic in May.”

The program offers a bevy of simple tools, advice, and personalized ways to collect and earn points, add manage and refill prescriptions and take advantage of personalized offers. In addition to pushing prompts for prescription refills and other relevant medical alerts, integration with Apple’s Wallet in IOS enables contactless payments, and Family Sharing, which allows purchases by up to six family members to aggregate, enables points to be earned within the family or group — a handy feature. The app also delivers sales and other promotional offers and provides a health-assessment tool for self-diagnosis.

Be Well’s loyalty program is straightforward and easily understandable; earn 10 points for every $1 spent (25,000 points = $10 redeemable cash value). Digital offers delivered via email or the mobile app are personalized using customer history and spending. These offers can accelerate the path to redemption for members, for example, Be Well recently offered 20,000 points for any spend of $50 or more on “just about anything in the store”. That equates to one big shop in the store getting the member very close to a redemption level in just one visit. The prescription-refill tool is sticky and makes it easier for customers to ensure they don’t run out, with timely notifications. There are also senior and student discounts and a tie-in with CARP, the Canadian equivalent of AARP.

Consumers are seeking more from their pharmacy retailer as they find value in accessing all health information in one place and being able to manage prescriptions as well as products that help them stay health and well. The structure and components of the pharmacy loyalty programs in market today reflect these desires.

We believe the future development of these loyalty programs will provide even more ways for consumers to act on a proactive approach to healthcare, including wellness assessments and making plans for becoming healthier.

The post Finding Success with Healthcare Loyalty appeared first on The Wise Marketer – Featured News on Customer Loyalty and Reward Programs.