Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Closing the Loop With Mobile

Online to offline (O2O) shopping is ten times greater than e-commerce. Did you catch that? 10X greater than e-commerce. Surveys done by Opus Research, Forrester, Yahoo and others indicate between 60% to more than 90% of internet-enabled consumers conduct online research before buying offline. As many as 80% of consumers use smartphones in-store to do research prior to buying the product they are looking at.

Mobile devices open a powerful new marketing channel that offers a way to measure the effectiveness of other media. They can be used to measure the in-store impact of advertising as well as identifying audience segments by tracking offline movements. According to Google, 32% of consumers say location-based search ads led them to visit a store or make a purchase. A Google AdWords Blog, Measure More: improving Estimated Total Conversions with store visit insights, shares two cases, PetSmart and Office Depot, that successfully employed customization to increase their in-store purchases. In January, Google rolled out an enhancement to their Estimated Total Conversions metric that allows for a store visit measurement. This new path to purchase should have you rethinking your metrics and customer experience.

There are two keys to a good experience: customization and consistency. According to a Google-purchased study by Ipsos MediaCT, Understanding Consumer’s Local Search Behavior, 70% of mobile customers want location information for the nearest store in their ads. 74% want to know the inventory for a product at a nearby store.

The other key is consistency. Marketers need to ensure a cohesive brand identity from receipt of the mobile message to action and purchase. Consumers do not like to feel confused through the process. They want to see the same product images and attributes throughout their entire experience.

So how do we, as marketers, leverage the mobile marketing channel? One option is to implement a promotion code tracking system, or add the mobile channel to your already existing system. Another effective way is for marketers to send a mobile message with a unique, trackable URL. You can then track the unique URL through the purchase stream. Finally, don’t forget your CRM data. Like any other channel, marketers should be able to segment their mobile channel to better customize their messaging.

Once you’ve got the tracking in place, you start dealing with the data coming back to you. Metrics are magic, but remember in this scenario there will be a lot of data so just remember to take it one piece at a time and not be overwhelmed. Analyze what is clicked, opened, or otherwise acted upon and how long it took for the recipient to act on the message. Refine your messaging. Undertake A/B testing. Retarget those that didn’t open/click with the new, more effective message or those contacts that came in from a different channel, such as a promotion with an online registration, or an e-mail opt-in.

Thanks to Rimma Kats of Mobile Marketer for the source article, “Closing the impression-to-redemption loop”.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

4 Keys to Instagram Marketing

I have to admit, I was a little late in recognizing Instagram as an effective marketing tool. I kept hearing about it from the 20 and 30-somethings in my circles, but as far as I could tell it was nothing more than a picture sharing space. How wrong I was. Instagram is growing by leaps and bounds and if you haven’t included it in your digital marketing mix, you should probably think about doing so - especially if your target audience is anywhere in the 18-44 age range. Why? Just look at these numbers:

69% of Gen X and millennial users fall in that age range and, while the current user base is primarily female, eMarketer expects that to change to an almost even split by 2016. A March 2014 eMarketer report estimates that 40.5 million users were U.S.-based consumers logging in to Instagram at least once per month. Regular usage levels nearly match Twitter’s, particularly on smartphones.

The Instagram platform directs your user’s attention to a single photo stream, too, so it’s not as overwhelming. They are something of a captive audience, viewing one visual treat at a time.

Keys to Leveraging Instagram

  1. Add a link to your profile. This link is easy to change and should direct the viewer to whatever landing page is hot at the time. You can leverage it for your new product introduction landing page or that contest you’re currently running. At the very least, it should default to your website homepage. Social Media Examiner recommends getting a Bitly or goo.gl link for metrics purposes. This will allow you to track clicks from Instagram. If you use a regular link, Google Analytics will report the visit as direct.
  2. Keep it real. Instagram users don’t want to see obviously contrived pictures. They want to see genuine photos taken of real activities. Instagram is the ideal place to leverage user-generated content (UGC), but make sure you give the original user credit. Look for products or services in use. People want to see how those boots look with the skinny jeans tucked in. This is a great way to start a conversation.
  3. Treat it like a banner ad. Throw some text on the image. Call out whatever is important, but remember to keep it simple and to the point. This isn’t the place to call out every detail. Pithy is key here. If you have more information or a call to action, you can place it in the image caption – but you still want to keep it short and sweet.
  4. Don't spam the feed. Think of it like twitter – you don’t want to overload your followers’ feeds. Space out your posts to take advantage of the most interactive part of the day. For instance, photos garner strong interactions all the time, but apparently people won’t watch videos at work, so the best time to post videos, according to a July 2014 report by TrackMaven, is during the off hours, between 9pm – 8am EST. Day-to-day activity doesn’t vary much, but there is a slight uptick in activity on Sunday. There are also several applications that will allow you to schedule Instagram posts to take advantage of the most interactive part of the day. A couple of the most popular are:
    • Latergramme – You can upload individual images and organize when you want your posts to happen, but it won’t post for you. Starts at $9.50/month.
    • ScheduGram – Allows you to manage multiple accounts and upload and edit single or multiple images, and upload videos. Pricing starts at $20/month.

The Bottom Line

Instagram is expected to be a key player in the 2015 advertising ring. It’s growing steadily and is experimenting with advertising options. Take advantage of it now, while reach and engagement are at optimum.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

NPS and Marketing

Too many people look at the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and think that it’s a metric that’s only useful to the customer service organization when, really, it’s a very useful tool for marketing as well. It goes a long way toward telling you if your customers are happy and loyal.

What is NPS?

NPS can be measured using three different surveys. The Relationship Survey measures the overall sentiment of your customer and reflects their feeling toward the organization based on their entire relationship with it. The relationship score is determined by asking “How likely are you to recommend the organization to a friend or family member, on a scale of 0 - 10?” The Transactional Survey measures specific “moments of truth” in their relationship with your organization. It’s sent after an interaction with the organization and is usually in the format of “How was a specific experience on a scale of 0-10?”
The Internal Survey is designed to understand what kinds of interactions your internal customers are having with your department. This might involve an analytics team sending a survey to the customer they are creating the analysis for.
I find it’s also very beneficial to add a qualitative question such as “What’s the reason behind your score”? You could find that you have an entire customer segment you are pursuing that may not be a good fit. You may get suggestions for how to improve a product. The possibilities are endless.
The results of the survey will break customers down into the following three categories:

  • Promoters (9-10): Loyal enthusiasts who will stay with the organization and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives (7-8): Satisfied but unenthusiastic. They’ll neither promote nor detract and are vulnerable to switching organizations.
  • Detractors (0-6): Unhappy customers who can damage the brand and impede growth.

Closing the Loop

This data doesn’t do anyone any good if you don’t turn it into actionable improvements. Depending on which journal you read, customer feedback is ignored 50%-75% of the time so use this opportunity develop an action plan determined by how the customer responded to the NPS Survey. Start developing lists based on the where someone falls in the NPS Survey or, if you’re managing the digital marketing program, you might develop a trigger based on a survey answer.
  • Promoters may see loyalty program offers arrive in their e-mail or via SMS. They could be invited to interact in your social media efforts.
  • The Passives are eligible for a number of efforts designed to move them from Passive to Promoter.
  • A Detractor’s response might trigger a landing page or an open-ended questionnaire asking how the organization failed them and how it can be corrected.
The NPS can help you better understand your company’s reputation and refine your customer segment. You have the potential to improve customer experience and the bottom line. The marketing uses to which you can put this data are varied and impactful, but only if you actually use it and keep the momentum going.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Influencer Marketing - Leveraging a New Target

The voice of the customer has always been critical to developing the marketing message and influencing the purchaser decision and word-of-mouth has always been the most trusted source for product and service referrals.
If you want a new doctor, who do you ask? Family members, neighbors, co-workers. You may go online and do some research, but usually you'll ask a peer for a referral or opinion as well. The same is true of a new TV, computer, dog food, or any other product or service. An interesting, and important, development to note in this new age, though, is that suddenly an opinion from a single person is going out to hundreds or thousands of individuals in their social network. According to a McKinsey Study, word-of-mouth generates twice the sales of paid advertising and has a 37% higher retention rate. The resulting amplification of peer recommendations cries out for a new marketing tactic. This is where Influencer Marketing comes in.

What Is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer Marketing is when the focus of marketing is turned from a target market to key individuals within that market. They may be buyers themselves or they may be third parties, such as vendors or subject matter experts. It basically depends on the individual's reputation, expertise or popularity. This used to mean a focus on bloggers, celebrities, etc., but in recent years the everyday joe may have just as much influence. Forbes provides this equation for determining influence:

Influence = Audience Reach (# of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x Strength of Relationship with Followers

This form of marketing may mean entering into a relationship with the influencer. You might provide them with advance prototypes of a product or invite them to the corporate offices. Unfortunately, there are also drawbacks to this type of marketing. You don't have as much control and if the influencer runs afoul of the law or drops out of the grid, it will be time for some damage control.

What You Should Be Doing

  1. Interact with your customers.

    You really need to leverage your customers. Provide a superior customer experience through loyalty programs, customer advisory boards, or extraordinary promotions.

  2. Identify the Influencers

    There are a lot of tools available to help analyze the social media landscape to determine and rank the influencers. SocMetrics and Traackr are just two tools available to help you identify influencers based on demographic data. Additional options are listed on TopRank Blog.

  3. Form a Relationship with the Influencers

    Start off with a simple hello. Take steps to familiarize them with your product or service and company. A little kindness and generosity goes a long way.

  4. Provide Accessible Content

    Influencers are more likely to provide content that's easy for them integrate into their social media portals. Again, there are a number of tools, such as Zuberance and SocialChorus, to assist you in your brand advocacy efforts.

  5. Don't Forget the Little Sites

    Keep track of the trends of social media sites. You never know when the one you've been ignoring, like Pinterest or Instagram, may be the next big site.

Influencers are the wave of the future and it's our job as marketing professionals to take advantage of every possible resource and be aware of marketing trends. As Scott Cook, the founder and CEO of Intuit said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is–it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

Monday, August 4, 2014

5 Tips for Improving Your Sales Forecasts

For many, sales forecasts are the bane of their existence. They can be inaccurate, hard to understand, and require constant supervision – something like a teenager. In many cases, they’ve been manipulated to reflect the desires of the creator or recipient, rather than being left to reflect the pure data. I’m going to provide you with five simple tips to make them more manageable and useful.

1) Know Your Buyer

Too many lists are based on historical data without taking into account buyer behavior. However, think about it a minute – what makes the sales process happen? Buyer behavior. Where is the buyer in the buying cycle? How will they buy? Where in the decision-making process are they? With a clear understanding of what’s driving the buyer, you can create a more accurate forecast.

2) Understand the Sales Strategy

A good sales strategy takes into account the needed outcomes to achieve the business’s goals. That said, there is no one true set of numbers for sales strategy. You may have a number for each of the functional areas involved in achieving those goals: the sales team might have a number they need to achieve their goals, but product management will want a product-specific number, and finance will want revenue numbers. Why are these important? Because a more accurate forecast can be achieved if you understand the pipeline process and where in the lifecycle an account or product is. In the same vein, don’t fudge the numbers to target what you want to achieve. Be realistic. Remember, sales forecasts are not sales targets: the forecast should reflect what you can achieve, not what you want to achieve.

3) Continuous Improvement Is Key

Remember that a sales forecast is a picture of a moment in time. It doesn’t evolve or track anything that’s happened after you take the picture or when new information appears. Be prepared to manage the forecast. It will need updated or modified as additional information becomes evident. When managing the forecast, don’t ignore or eliminate the outliers. If the forecast line starts diverging from the actual numbers, it’s time to analyze and determine the cause.

4) Attain Buy-In

Sales forecasting should be a collaborative effort. Like anything else, if people aren’t involved in the development of the forecast, they won’t have faith in the numbers. They may “tweak” the forecast to fit their own agenda, or simply not believe it. Changes they make may result in a skewed forecast, or, if you don’t take care to include all the functional areas, you may wind up with skewed numbers.

5) Keep It Simple and Consistent

The forecast doesn’t have to be uber-complicated. Very often, the person managing the forecast is someone for whom it is a small part of his/her overarching responsibilities. Choose the right software, and it will be nimble and responsive, allowing for adjustment of dependent variables, sales team modifications or alignment of data with CRM. Once you’ve got the model designed, stay with it. Be consistent from month-to-month or year-to-year. This will make it easier to understand, review and audit.


Sales forecasting is critical to the planning process and maximizing business efficiencies. Accurate forecasts result in accurate inventory, staffing, operations and cash flow management, among others. The most successful companies consistently strive to achieve a more accurate forecast. An inaccurate forecast leaves the company operating in the dark. An accurate forecast can become a major tool in achieving a business’s goals and growing a more successful company.