|Articles by Daniel Matishak

The Ultimate Guide To The Best Social Media Platforms

Digital marketing isn’t just intuition and gut instinct any more. It’s not a Mad Men-esque business, with the 3 martini lunch. It’s not enough to amass thousands of likes but have nothing else to show for it.

Today, digital marketing is focused on analytics, metrics, and trackable results. It’s about marketers being pressured to provide evidence that their ideas can achieve business objectives.

Nowhere is this shift more pronounced than in social media, and nowhere else is this more of a challenge. This post profiles a range of social media platforms that will not only reduce the time that you spend on social media through automation but also help you achieve (and prove) the ROI you get with it.

We’ve spit this post out into two categories: platforms to help you listen to social media, and platforms to help you post to social media.

Listening platforms

Listening is the core to what Unmetric calls “micro-content”, which I think is a phenomenal way to describe social media stuff.

The idea is simple – social media is about two things: publishing, and listening to what your followers, like-ers, and fans are saying. And in order to publish quality content, from a response to a question to a picture on Instagram, you have to listen really closely to your users. So while publishing is important (and we’ll get to why in a bit) listening is really the key to a top quality social media presence.

Before we get into platforms that might help you listen, it’s important to know what you’re listening for. Most social media chatter around brands isn’t actually people engaging directly with said brand – it’s people talking about it, either positively or negatively.

For example, my Scotiabank debit card wasn’t working last year, so I jumped onto Twitter to see what was up. They had put out a social blast saying that none of their debit cards were working (weirdly) and were responding to questions directed at them.

But I didn’t find that when I looked them up. I found other consumers complaining about how Scotiabank’s cards weren’t working.

I got the same information, but I didn’t get it straight from the brand.

And therein lies the challenge of maintaining a relevant social media presence that achieves business goals: most of the stuff about you (and thus providing the chance to engage) isn’t said to you (so you miss the opportunity).

So listening becomes more than just monitoring your own network. It’s about monitoring the periphery of your organization and brand. So in the Scotiabank example it might be monitoring hashtags directly related to you (like #scotia) as well as monitoring things that are maybe concern your brand but are not, in fact, the brand itself (like #ATM).

So there’s a lot to listen to in amongst the noise, which gets really difficult. Here are some of the tools you can use to make your life a little easier.

Sysomos Hearbeat

Sysomos is a social media monitoring company who have two core products – a Media Analysis Platform (MAP) and Heartbeat, a “real time monitoring and measuring solution”.

Heartbeat is really the industry standard when it comes to listing to social media. It lets you tag and collate conversations that Sysomos monitors (they keep a two year backlog), which gives you just a giant pile of data to pull information from.

It also lets you set up alerts for particular subjects, keywords, or tags that are automatically assigned to your team, giving you the automated ability to respond to different situations extremely effectively.

With Sysomos, you can also:

  • Identify and listen in on prominent leaders in your marketing space
  • Listen to how people are talking about things, positively or negatively
  • Take your keywords and branch out into data-driven, relevant conversations that are tangibly related to your company, just not in a direct way

Basically, if you’re really serious about engaging your brand with social media, listening to what’s affecting those around your company, and you’re looking to produce better micro-content, then Heartbeat will let you do that with listening.

ForSight

ForSight is a program offered by Crimson Hexagon. Like Heartbeat, its strength lies in its ability to listen and tease out valuable information from the huge nebulous cloud that is big data.

In addition to the basic functionality of things like trending hashtags, top retweets, geo-location and targeting, they also offer something called Affinities.

Affinities is essentially what your consumers think about (and how much they like) the huge variety of associated topics around your brand. So if you were selling sandwiches, one prominent affinity for you would be soup (since it’s not your product, but people probably like them together).

Affinities lets you discover what else your social media fans like (other than your brand) and then track that information to inform your content. There’s a really good example of this which I’ve borrowed from the Crimson Hexagon website:

“Consumers who post about the bakery and restaurant Panera Bread are 3X more likely than people in general on Twitter to be interested in Miley Cyrus. Among people with an interest in Miley Cyrus talking about Panera, we find significant conversation around menu items, including soup, bread bowls, and mac and cheese. If Panera wants to target younger, female consumers, a campaign or promotion around ‘Panera lunch dates’ for cheesy soup would be a great campaign to pursue.”

To me that’s the real benefit of ForSight and listening programs in general. They let you find out what your fans are connected to, and enable you to create content, promotions, or whole strategies based on what else people like. At the end of the day, they help you map the social media web.

Brandwatch

Brandwatch is another enterprise social media platform that I think is awesome at listening to what people are saying on the internet, if for no other reason than their CTA is ‘start listening’.

Honestly though their product is great. They approach the challenge of listening to social media less from a ‘there’s lots of data, let’s find some insights’ perspective and more from a ‘here is the analytical ability to trawl through all our data. Have at it’ perspective.

Like the other enterprise solutions mentioned, they too have complied an enormous database of information for users to wander around in. They offer more customization than other companies, and I think that’s a good thing – it gives you maximum flexibility to be creative with how you listen and what you listen to, and that’s where the best social insights are going to come from.

Zoomph

Zoomph is more what you would think of when you imagine social listening platforms. It’s a program designed to do just that – to listen. And while it’s not as powerful as other programs like Heartbeat, Brandwatch, or ForSight for mapping the intricate web of cross-connections deeply embedded in social media, it does a great job of telling you when people are talking about you, what your competitors are doing, and what keywords or ideas are trending.

Basically Zoomph offers just a notch down from enterprise level software for a fraction of the price, and as an added bonus their UI is great.

So those are some platforms and tools that you can use to learn what people think about your brand and more importantly what else people who think about your brand also might be thinking about.

But now that you’ve got those great insights, what do you do with them?

Publishing platforms

Being engaged and present on social media is a huge time sink that for most companies that will never really end in a positive return on investment if you don’t use a publishing platform. The objective of any social media publishing platform is two-fold:

  1. Make it easier to respond quickly across lots of social networks on lots of different topics
  2. Automate the publishing process so you have more time for other stuff (like listening)

Let’s look at some of the tools that achieve those objectives.

Social Bro

SocialBro is a publishing and listening (sort of) platform that’s specific to Twitter. They help brands target and segment their Twitter audience to improve engagement and maximize ROI.

They have a whole range of services, including:

  • Custom reports
  • Audience segmentation
  • Audience development (finding new followers based on location or bio info)

They also can help you with publishing with common things like the best time to tweet, but also with more useful stuff like content optimization reports, which tell you what content resonated and what content didn’t. Tracked and managed correctly over time, this sort of reporting is invaluable.

The reason they’re (sort of) a listening platform is that they also offer competitor analytics, which I think is absolutely essential to listening, as well as the ability to track influencers, which is sort of publishing if you want to talk to them, but more likely will inform what content you push out.

HootSuite

No social media post would be complete without Canada’s own HootSuite.

HootSuite is usually called a social scheduling tool, which it undeniably is. A lot of its functionality is about getting your micro-content out onto your networks and into the world. It can integrate with most social networks, it’s extremely inexpensive, and it lets you schedule posts far in advance, either manually or by using an excel spreadsheet.

But the real reason that HootSuite is as popular as it is is because of the ways it’s structured. Its UI is built around streams – they’re columns of information that you can customize to listen to social media in general and respond accordingly.

For example, if you had a brand Twitter account, from one screen you could very quickly:

  • See what micro-content is scheduled to go out
  • Monitor brand mentions
  • Monitor a pre-programmed advanced search, so you could be looking for mentions of your brand with #awesome or #terrible

Further, from the same interface, you can actually post to your various social media channels and platforms, really easily.

HootSuite also gives you shortening links and connects those to analytics, so if you do want to automate your insights a little there’s that option as well. That said, if you are on a budget then HootSuite reports get pretty pricey for the info you get.

It’s pretty much your one stop shop for social media publishing.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is another social media management platform with a very similar offering to HootSuite – they put all your social media in the same place so you can quickly and effectively engage  with consumers across different social media networks.

But there are a few things that Sprout Social does extremely well.

First, they integrate with Salesforce, which if you’re a sales-driven business (especially B2B) is a huge plus. It makes it far easier and faster to make the connections between social media outreach, lead generation, and an eventual sale. It can provide you with the insight to know what campaigns and micro-content work and which ones don’t.

Second, Sprout Social makes it easy to see what’s important with their inbox feature, which sends you a notification whenever something important happens that you need to respond to. From here, it’s super easy to delegate to another staff member.

Third, Sprout Social is designed more with larger teams in mind. So when it comes to publishing, there’s a great publishing calendar so everyone’s on the same page, and you can draft messages for approval by someone else (this is much harder to do with almost any other social media monitoring system).

Finally, Sprout Social has some really decent dashboards and analytics, which you can use to better engage with your own content and thus with your social media fans. For example, if you send out 50 tweets a week, it’s really simple to see which ones performed the best, informing the next week’s tweets. Simple.

TL;DR

There are literally hundreds of products out there to help brands and companies build and execute their social media strategy. Some, like Heartbeat, help you by trawling the social media world for endless data, and then giving you the ability to sort that into valuable, actionable ideas. Other platforms, like HootSuite, work to streamline and automate your social publishing process so you can spend more time listening to what people are saying on social and less time answering back.

Daniel Matishak

From Blog Post To ebook – (a few of) The Best Ways To Make Your Content Go Another Round

Content creation can be a pricey business. In fact, last year 46 percent of marketers said that a major challenge was just producing enough content. That’s why you want to get the absolute most out of each and every piece you produce.

Here are some of the best ways that I know to make your content do another round. They include:

·         Multiple social media postings (bonus – free optimization!)

·         Reposting old content

·         Creating an ebook with blog posts

·         Sending blog posts as email updates

·         Re-post your content on Medium and LinkedIn

·         Creating multiple pieces from the same research

Let’s get into it.

Multiple social media postings on multiple social networks

Let’s start with the basics. By posting to multiple social media networks, it’ll give you a chance to get your content in front of a much larger audience at almost no extra cost. Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Buffer are but three programs that let you post to multiple networks quickly and easily with minimal disruption to workflow.

Pinterest gets a special mention. If you can create nice-looking pin graphics, you can increase your Pinterest engagement for content that you’ve already made. Small time investment, big social payout.

Most people have multiple networks on the go. But do you post multiple times? Think about it this way. Imagine you write a post called ‘110 Ways To Optimize Your Social Media Marketing’

Great! You post it to Twitter at 11:30.

Now imagine there’s a social media manager looking for 110 ways to optimize their social media. But they’re on Twitter at 12:30!

There is no way that your post is going to be seen – it’ll already be buried in the avalanche info.

By posting multiple times, you’re not spamming your followers with the same info you’re exposing your awesome content to more people.

An even better way to do this is to create a new title for each new post. So if the first tweet for your 110 ways is: ‘100 ways to optimize your social (+ 10 bonus tips)’ make the next one ‘make your social media sing with 110 new tips’

As an added bonus, you’ll get better at writing headline copy (always a good skill) and over time you can probably optimize your headlines based on which tweets are getting the most clicks. It’s not absolutely scientific because each tweet in this case is going to get different amounts of exposure based on the time, but it’ll at least help.

Repost old content

Take old content, change the title like you did before, and repost it! That’s it. Create custom links and see which posts do well (or don’t). This is a good way to retry some content that maybe wasn’t promoted as well as it could have been, or some content which didn’t perform the way you wanted it do. Or just stick with your greatest hits. Entirely up to you. Conveniently, my friend Neil Patel covers this in an ebook if you want some more details.

Create an ebook from multiple posts

The idea is simple: take a whole bunch of blog posts and put them together, add some cool graphics, and call it an ebook! Here’s how.

First, create a series of blog posts all about one thing. Continuing our example from before, let’s say you create a blog series about optimizing social media networks. It’ll look something like:

  • Part I: What On Earth Is This Optimization Business?
  • Part II: 5 Ways To Find Holes In Your Social Media
  • Part III: Closing the Holes In Your Social
  • Part IV: Social Media Optimization Best Practices

Something like that. Now, all you do is take those and bulk them out a little bit. What I mean is add some graphics to further clarify your points, add some more examples, and maybe clean up the language to be a little more formal. With some edits and a few tweaks, you’ll make what was a good blog series into some great writing. Now you have an ebook with chapters like:

  • Chapter I: Intro To Social Optimization
  • Chapter II: Find The Gaps In Your Social Media
  • Chapter III: Closing The Gaps In Your Social Media Marketing
  • Chapter IV: What’s Next?

The goal here is turn your content into a book with as little work as possible. The work is mostly done, the copy mostly written – with minimal resources spent editing, designing and polishing, you should be able turn out an ebook in no time flat.

If you really want to optimize and push your content (and you do) you can create a landing page, for, support it with a social media and/or paid search campaign, and collect emails. All this drives new prospects down your funnel into leads.

Not bad for content that you gave away for nothing on the internet.

Sending blog posts as email updates

Email marketing is a particular passion of mine because it’s extremely effective, it works really hard and isn’t flashy, and it’s super cheap to do with amazing ROI. It is, in my humble opinion, the best digital channel there is for most B2B organizations, and one of the best channels for B2C. But I digress.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, when we talk about optimization we’re really talking about getting your content in front of lots of people. You’ve already written it, so pushing it out is relatively less work than writing a new piece of content. For email marketing, that means linking your blog to your email lists. There are a couple of ways to do this depending on how developed your email marketing is.

First, you can send out an email maybe once a week with all your blog posts in it, maybe stitched together with a paragraph or two of copy. That’s one way.

It’s extremely easy, and if your email marketing is still in the early days, then it’s a great way to get it going and stay top of mind with your email list, as well as drive traffic to your site. It’ll also let you start to get a much better idea of what content is resonating and what isn’t, so that’s a huge plus.

Another way is to send out an email with each post, detailing what the post is about but not giving away everything. The challenge is that you have to provide enough information from your blog post to entice people to click but be useful enough that they don’t unsubscribe out of frustration from getting 19 updates a week.

The third way you can do this (and bear in mind these are guidelines – mix and match to your heart’s content) is to focus less on driving traffic and more on adding value. Rewrite your say 110 ways, 2000 word blog post into a 250 word summary. Just give the highlights, the overview, with the idea being if someone doesn’t go to your blog to read the whole thing the still understand what’s going on.

Add a read more link at the end that takes them to your blog. And send! To get the most out of this strategy, you’ll not want to do it with every post, just do it with your best performing ones.

Or, if your funnel is well-developed, do this but base it on funnel location, not general post success stats. For example, if someone downloads your whitepaper on social media networks and doesn’t do anything for a week, send them the first blog post in the series on social media optimization. It’s more relevant and will better resonate with the problem that they’re having.

Post on multiple platforms (Medium, LinkedIn)

This is again a really simple way to get the most out of your content. All you do is repost your blog content onto other blog-ish sites, like Medium and LinkedIn posts. Both of these support longer-format content and can be a tremendous value-add for your blog because:

  • It’s another platform to out your content on
  • They have tremendous reputations for quality, and will help position your blog as an authoritative, useful site

This is different from guest posting because when you guest post you create a dedicated piece of content for someone else. That’s content creation, this is content recycling.

Creating multiple pieces from the same research/content

One of the challenges of a well-constructed content strategy is that it requires multiple different pieces of content, from videos and infographics to short and long form blog posts and ebooks. Each of these has unique requirements and specifications that you may either excel at or suck at. That is, there are not that many people who are really awesome at everything.

To mitigate this, reuse one piece of content to inspire others. Let’s go back to our 110 blog post example. A great way to reuse all those tips is to create an infographic about them. Maybe pull the 15 best stats in the article (which you’ve already researched) and you’re away. You can hire a designer or there are lots of infographic tools out there for you to do it yourself.

Other content reuse strategies would be to make a video, or several videos about your blog post. A Whiteboard Wednesday-type deal covering your complex points could be extremely useful. Other formats are Vine and Instagram if they’re appropriate.

Podcasts are an extremely low-investment strategy, especially if you structure it as a conversation – get to people who are experts and just ask them questions and chat about something interesting (in this case, social media optimization).

On the bigger ticket side of things, and I recommend you see how some of the other content performs first, is to create a webinar about your topic. These tend to require more time and a more focused marketing effort, so it’s worth holding off until you know your content is going to be well-received. But once you’ve got a piece that resonates with your audience, this is a great way to repurpose it.

Wrap up

Once your content is on the internet it’s out there for good, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. In order to get your content strategy really moving, it’s important to stay on top of your content creation. Reusing research, ideas, or entire content pieces, in multiple places and in multiple formats, is a fantastic way to increase content with a relatively small increase in cost.

Daniel Matishak

Why Too Many Social Share Icons Is Killing Your Sharing

Summary: If you have too many social share icons, people are paralysed by indecision, which means they take the easy way out – ignoring everything and moving on. If you want to increase your social sharing, cut all but the top 2-3 networks from your share icons.

We all openly recognize that social sharing is important. And a huge part of that is making it easy to share. Give people lots of options to share your ideas and the general logic follows that they will.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

(Sometimes) the more social share icons you have, the less your content is going to get shared. I’m going to explain why.

The Research

So what am I talking about? I’ll tell you. On the Quick Sprout blog, my friend Neil Patel wrote a post about nudges to get people to do stuff. In that post, he mentioned that he recently ran a test on his blog where he added more social share buttons (specifically, he offers sharing via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and added LinkedIn and Pinterest).

Sharing went down by 29%.

Another study by Visual Website Optimizer found that when they removed the social sharing buttons from a client’s website the CTA click-through (clicking ‘add to cart’) increased by 11.9%.

Why does this happen?

Well, for that we need to turn to a great TED Talk by Barry Schwartz . If you have a spare 19:28 seconds it is worth a watch but assuming that you don’t here are the highlights:

  • We as consumers in the western world experience choice on an unprecedented level
  • When humans are faced with lots of choice, they take whatever option is easiest, not necessarily what option is best (which is to decide to do nothing almost always – this is called choice paralysis)
  • Even when we do manage to make a decision, we’re usually less happy about it, in part because we regret not choosing the alternative, in part because of the opportunity cost, and in part because of our inflated expectations

Let’s apply those ideas to Neil’s sharing woes.

The first one probably makes the most sense – that when faced with too many options, people generally decide to do nothing because it’s the path of least resistance. How many times have you been hungry but can’t figure out what food to cook or order? Lots of times.

It’s the same idea here.

So if you’re a blog reader, and you’re reading along with Neil and you think ‘I bet my friends would love this – I should share it!’ you’re then faced with a decision: what network? Do you share it on LinkedIn? Maybe, maybe not. Sure it might make you like a savvy pro, but the article’s a little dated. You don’t want to be dated.

Maybe you share it on Facebook. But really, that’s for personal stuff, and this has a more business vibe. Most of your friends aren’t on Pinterest, Twitter is too short to say what you and want… and eventually you realize that sharing this article isn’t that important to you anyway.

Or maybe people stopped sharing Neil’s article because they didn’t want to be unhappy with it, essentially experiencing sharing remorse (‘ohh I should have put this on Facebook not on LinkedIn!’)

Or maybe people are afraid that their sharing expectations won’t be met (‘only one like!?’)

These are, of course hyperbolic, but the core idea is the same – the more sharing options, the less shares you’ll get.

The Jam study

It’d be impossible to talk about decision paralysis without at least a nod to the famous 1995 Jam Study. Basically, some psychologists set up two booths in a supermarket to sell jam. They had two conditions: one condition offering 6 jams, one condition offering 24. Each customer tried (on average) two jams. The 24 jam condition stopped 60% of customers, but only converted 3% of them into jam buyers. The 6 jam condition stopped 40% of customers, but converted 30% of them.

It’s worth putting these numbers. If 100 people came in…

  • 60 stopped at the 24 jam table
  • 2 people bought jam
  • 40 people stopped at the 6 jam table
  • 12 people bought jam

All this to say that there is potentially tremendous value from a psychological perspective in offering consumers less options.

Other reasons why you should get rid of some share buttons

But it’s not only psychological. There are plenty of other reasons to shed a few share icons (that also might explain the 29% Neil Problem).

Social Proof

When you have lots of share icons, your shares are already lower. To make matters worse, the more share icons you have, the lower they look. Think about Mashable. They offer only one metric for their shares – total number. They don’t split it out or anything.

One number.

So if that number is zero yeah, it looks pretty bad. But not nearly as bad as four zeros. Your readers are influenced by what other people do. So if you’re reading a post with 1.5K share, you’re far more primed to be interested and engaged than if you’re reading the same post with 12 shares across seven networks.

Site speed

It’s really important. Google likes fast website, users like fast website, and you probably like fast websites. Social share buttons slow things down, because each button has to communicate with the network’s server that it links to. And that takes time.

Why put yourself and your web users through that? Also, remember that users expect sites to load in two seconds or less, and abandonment shoots up after three seconds. So if you can speed your site by dropping your share buttons, I’d go for it.

What buttons to have

So knowing that your social share buttons need to be trimmed down to size, how do you pick which ones are best?

It depends.

It depends on your industry and more importantly, your website. There’s probably a network that you’re strongest on already. For B2B companies, it’s probably LinkedIn. You should likely keep that.

Facebook and Twitter and responsible for the most shares, with Facebook ‘like’ accounting for almost 34% of all sharing, according to a study of 2 billion social shares done by TrackMaven. It should be noted here that Facebook is the largest network so that’s not really as stunning a stat as you might think.

But really, it’s going to depend on your own unique trends.

Dive into Google Analytics and see where referral traffic is coming from. If lots of people are coming from Twitter, then you want to be able to push traffic back out to Twitter.

Looking at your demographic will also help you draw some general conclusions about where your traffic lives, for example if it’s mostly women then Pinterest should probably be shortlisted as your network of choice.

You can get even more granular about your social shares to help your content in general, but with the above metrics you should be able to narrow your networks to your best two or three (tops).

Wrap up

The myth of more is always better is as ingrained as it is wrong. Sure – sometimes, more is going to be the best option. But when you present your users with options, you violate an even older principle – don’t make your users work. Make sharing easy for everyone by removing the decision making process from the user’s hands. Your shares will go up, your site speed will get faster, and you’ll look and feel younger.

Full disclosure I made up the last one but seriously. Dig into Analytics for a few days, learn where your audience hangs out and what networks they share to, and get rid of the rest.

Daniel Matishak

Don’t Be A Schmuck – Invest In Mobile

In November, 2014, Forrester released a report the predicted in 2015, we’re going to see a dire lack of investment in mobile and quality mobile experiences. Specifically, the report predicted that “Mobile-shifted marketers will transform their brands’ customer experiences and drive business outcomes by taking a sophisticated approach that focuses on how to activate mobile experiences. Success stories will be few in number” (emphasis mine). So the question for marketers, and the question we’re going to (attempt) to answer in this post is: how do you ensure that you and yours are one of the few?

Why mobile marketing is important

Mobile marketing is going to continue to disrupt the business status quo (in a good way). Here are the high-level nuggets that really illustrate why mobile is super important:

  • 42% of people globally will have a smart phone by the end of the year (that’s 3.067 billion people, by the way)
  • The expectation is no longer that you have a website – now, the expectation is that you have an entire multi-platform experience tailored to the customer
  • Mobile is going to get a lot of money thrown at it
  • Mobile advertising spend and saturation are going to swell to astronomical proportions

All this to say…

Mobile’s going to be super important this year. Like, really important. Take a wander down your list of emails and newsletters in your inbox. How many of them are about mobile experiences, mobile offerings, mobile spend, analytics, or app development? A lot, if your inbox looks anything like mine. People are not only going to be on mobile, but expect you to be as well. What’s more, the expectation is going to be that you are only on the same device as your consumers, but precisely where they are in terms of geolocation, real-time offerings, and cross-network and cross-platform integration. So how do you capitalize on this and make sure that you’re providing a quality mobile product?

Mobile-optimize your organization

This is really why mobile is so interesting. Until now, most organizations have wrapped up mobile with digital marketing. And with good reason – there has been a tremendous crossover of ideas and shared objectives. The people making beautiful website experiences are also very good at making mobile experiences.

However.

The era of mobile being an add-on to the digital marketing suite should be drawing to a close. With Forrester throwing around incendiary language like “completely redesign internal customer support processes” the notion of a mobile-specific team isn’t exactly out of left field. But like any innovation that requires a structural change, getting a mobile department is going to be one mean feat.

On a smaller scale…

If complete structural overhaul is well, a completely ridiculous expectation, then what organizations can do is create a pool of dedicated mobile resources. Invest both the money and the people to do the job right. This includes:

  • Earmarking design and development time to create mobile-specific ads (or getting someone else to do it)
  • Earmarking the money to buy mobile ad time, for example on Snapchat, which is likely to expand their advertising suite in the next ten months
  • Hire marketers and other key personnel based on their mobile experience – that resource will become invaluable with time
  • Start thinking about your digital marketing from a mobile perspective. Designing websites ‘mobile first’ is a common strategy in web design – do the same for you mobile efforts
  • Start designing mobile experiences (more on that later)

Strategize your mobile marketing

With the App Store literally exploding with new apps all the time, it seems clear that getting an app as a stand-alone marketing strategy isn’t going to work. Why?

Let’s put it into a different context.

Let’s say you were running a Super Bowl ad. You wouldn’t buy the pricy ad space with no follow up, no greater context, no matching print campaign, and with no additional promotion at all (well, you might if you’re Apple). Generally speaking, Super Bowl commercials exist as the centrepiece to a broader campaign. That’s the approach you need to take with your mobile marketing.

Particularly important isn’t just how a mobile experience is going to come together (development), but how all the different pieces are going to fit together in a larger context. Uber, for example, is really excellent at this. Not only can you book an Uber ride from their app, but you can also do it directly from the United app and Google Maps. Basically, they’ve made themselves present in the context that users actually want to use them, rather than just focusing on the experience provided by the Uber app.

That’s what I mean by strategy. Companies need to approach mobile holistically, looking at the entire digital landscape to really understand how their users are going to engage with them on their mobile devices, and how they can best meet that engagement.

Providing experiences is the most important aspect

This is key to maximizing the mobile bonanza that’s going on right now. As I mentioned, companies need to begin strategizing holistically and consider all the various ways to engage consumers, in particular taking into consideration the context and the environment in which their mobile experiences are being consumed.

So what does this actually look like?

To be a successful mobile-forward company, that is creating positive mobile experiences companies need to focus on two things:

  1. Personalization
  2. Push notifications and micro interactions

Personalization

Personalization will be essential for brands to create positive experiences. For starters, there’s going to be an enormous proliferation of messaging and stimuli forced onto consumers. Already this is happening, with notifications coming from all sorts of apps with all sorts of info. What’s more, with more devices per person (e.g. a wearable watch and a smartphone) this is set to intensify. So part of the reason that personalization is going to be important is just to stand out from the everyday digital hubbub.

Second, a personalized experience is going to be increasingly achievable as our ability to gather and more importantly interpret data improves. Very quickly, there’s going to be the expectation that an experience is tailored rather than bulk shipped.

For example, let’s say you’re a consumer shopping at a supermarket, and you get a push notification from their app telling you ‘hey, I noticed that you buy butter pretty often. It’s on sale right now, and if you get it today, you’ll get an extra 10% off! Thanks for using our app :)’

That would definitely entice me to buy.

But now when you go over to the pharmacy, you expect that same level of personalized shopping experience.

This is what is happening all the time. As the maximum possible quality of user experience increases, so too does the quality of the MVP. Just as it’s no longer acceptable to have a single page website built in flash, companies will be unable to drive sales with generic mobile messaging.

Push notifications and micro interactions

Honestly, this is one of my favourite developments, and I think one of the most interesting. First, a micro interaction is an interaction between a user and a device that happens in about a second.

Think about the time it takes you to glance at your watch (not smart watch) and tell the time. That’s a micro interaction.

When someone sends you a Snapchat and their name pops up in your menu bar on your phone, that’s a micro interaction – users very quickly decide if they want to engage further or leave it for later.

These tiny interactions, perhaps dozens of times a day, are going to make or break a mobile experience. They’re the equivalent of landing pages for sales – it’s a small, critical window to hook users into your mobile thing and thus demonstrate how useful you are to them. It’s hard. But I feel that if companies can nail the push notification experience, then they’ll be well on their way to getting the largest mobile strategy right.

Conclusion

Money is flowing into mobile like water into the Titanic. In order to make good on that investment and keep your bottom line and your users happy with what you’re packing, then that money needs to be spent carefully.

  • Invest in the people and the time to design and develop mobile experiences that are mobile first, not mobile-adapted
  • Invest the time and resources into providing a personalized and tailored experience for your users, built for specific context and environments
  • Invest the time and resources to develop, test, and perfect your push notifications and micro interactions with your users, because that’s what they’re going to remember you by

Over the next nine months, companies are going to have to get their mobile game together. Are you going to be one of the few success stories?

Daniel Matishak

Is Your Funnel Leaking? 7 Signs You’re Losing Sales

There’s nothing worse than a leaky sales funnel. All that work (and resources) that go into getting someone to morph from a prospect to a lead, only to wither on the vine makes many a marker burst into tears. Fortunately, funnel leaks are no longer just a part of the business (well, they are, because there is no such thing as an airtight sales funnel – if you have an example, let me know in the comments).

Here, we’re going to look at 7 signs you might be losing sales through hairline fractures (or gaping holes) and how you might be able to patch them.

1. No retargeting after a landing page

This is a really common problem that a lot of companies have. They use their social media ad spend, all their marketing energy, and all their content generation time to get prospects to the landing page. They spend lots of time A/B testing and optimizing the copy, CTA copy, button style – everything on the landing page. The result of this substantial investment of time and energy is a high conversion rate – let’s say 15 percent. That’s great… but what happens to the 85 percent?  On the spectrum of hairline fracture to gushing geyser of money, this is pretty close to the latter.

The solution is simple – retargeting ads. Let’s look at what you know:

  • Your prospect has landed on your landing page
  • They did not progress to the next stage of your sales funnel, let’s say it’s a product trial

Those are the only things you absolutely know. Companies make the mistake of assuming that if someone bails on a landing page then their offering wasn’t for them and move on. Not so – it might be that they didn’t want the offer right then, that they were exploring other options at the same time and wanted to come back, that they were too busy, that they didn’t understand the product and were looking for info (like a blog) rather than a sales pitch. My point is that there are lots of reasons someone might not buy but would still be interested in coming back to the funnel.

Retargeting ads, particularly via Facebook, give you the opportunity to recapture some of those already warmed leads. You already know that they’re interested, so why not capitalize?

2. You only advertise on one search engine

This is a problem, and a big one. Google is great – for a start. But if you’re only on Google with AdWords or just keyword optimization, you’re leaving a lot of the market untapped. In September 2014, comScore released stats saying that Google controlled 83.3 percent of the market share. That’s a big chunk, but 16.3 percent is still a sizable minority. What’s more, Apple is apparently not going to renew Google as the default search engine for Safari, which means those figures have a shelf life about as long as it takes Apple to make a decision. All in all, the minority is set to grow, and if you think that it’s not worth targeting other search engines at the top of your funnel, then I say you’re crazy.

3. You don’t use live chat

Your goal should be to communicate and engage with your customers, every step of the way, across many different channels. And live chat is a great channel that I think is worthy of special mention. For starters, ReachLocal reported that a live chat function on a website was rated as extremely helpful by 90 percent. That’s a huge, enormous value for any organization. Live chat is so effective because it lets you draw browsing traffic further into your sales funnel, and it positions you as a credible authority, and it positions you as having amazing customer service.

For example, imagine that I was buying a bike rack for your car. It’s a pretty technical product (fit, size, variation) that I don’t know that much about. So I visit a site like Auto Accessories Garage to learn a bit more about what I need. Live chat will game me the precise information you need, super easily, and will probably quote you a price as well. I might find that information somewhere else, but it’s a lot easier when someone just gives that you. Even if I look around at competitors, who do you think I’m going to go back for? That’s right – the people who streamlined my experience on their site extremely well, and left me with an awesome experience.

4. You’re not ‘dripping’ your leads

The middle of the funnel is a precarious time for your leads, and it’s when a lot of leads will leak out since they’re not ready to buy yet (so not really ready for sales) but they’re also more invested than prospects (so beyond outbound marketing). One fix to this particular problem is a drip campaign with email automation. It works like this. The marketing team creates compelling content that generally focuses on pain points your lukewarm lead has, and then pushes it to them in a timely manner over the long term. That’s it really. It might be a once a week email blast profiling how your product has helped them. It might be a personalized email using information about their path through your sales funnel to address their specific problem. If we go back to the Auto Accessories example for a minute, it would be like me checking out their bike rack product page and then getting an email the next week about the Top 5 Things To Consider When You’re Buying A Bike Rack.

You can automate emails in this way with some fairly simple software like MailChimp to build up your leads and keep them engaged while they take their time through the buying cycle.

5. Your sales and marketing teams are misaligned

There are two situations here. Marketing passes along so many leads that it’s just not feasible for sales to individually follow up with, or marketing passes along enough unqualified leads sales develops a tolerance and doesn’t think most of the leads are worth it. Sound familiar?

The core issue is that marketing for a long time and even now is focused on scale – their job is to bring qualified leads to sales, and as many as possible. Whereas sales are entirely about the individual – they’re focused on closing the sale in front of them, right now, regardless of whatever else is going on.

Neither one of them is really ‘correct’, but the change really needs to happen on marketing’s end to stop leads falling by the wayside. Marketing needs to realign itself to deliver leads that are more qualified for sales to close. This might mean:

  • Delivering less leads overall
  • Taking longer to warm leads before passing them off
  • Building a funnel or a drip campaign specific for leads that sales has lost

The result of these sorts of actions (and there are lots of ways to do this) is that sales trusts the leads they get more, and recognizes that while they might not have as many, their close rates will be higher. Something every salesperson likes.

6. Your directing traffic to your homepage, not a landing page

We’ve talked a little already about landing pages. They’re more work, for sure, but it provides your customer with a tailored experience, and this will invariably pay off. In a perfect world, you’d have a unique landing page for each and every channel and product that you’re pushing. But why are landing pages important?

  • They can be tested and optimized to do one thing, really well
  • They’re a great place to capture visitor data, opening the door to the rest of your funnel
  • They give marketing offers a place to live

Basically, landing pages will help you convert far more effectively than any alternatives.

7. Your website isn’t mobile friendly

It seems absurd that something as minute as how your information displays on a mobile screen, but think about the last time you were on a site, on your mobile phone, that wasn’t optimized.

Did you stick around to see if the company was worth chatting to? I certainly didn’t.

Make sure your website looks great on a mobile phone. Make sure that all your content looks good on a mobile phone. Make sure landing pages look good on mobile phones. Also, use the fact that your traffic is mobile to your advantage. Make it easy for prospects to call your directly from your website. It means that no matter how your prospect is reaching you, you’re creating a great first impression every single time.

Wrap up

Optimizing your sales funnel doesn’t have to be this huge overhaul of everything you’ve ever created. most of the time, it’s small, minor tweaks that:

  • Enhance your ability to drive traffic
  • Keep leads warm and engaged through the middle
  • Pass more qualified leads on to sales to close

Bonus tip: if you’re really serious about finding and patching the leaks in your funnel, the most important thing you can do is track everything. It’s the only way to really drill down it what works, what doesn’t, and what you need to change to keep more money in your pocket and grow your business.

Daniel Matishak

Why Email Is The Core To Multichannel Success

Multichannel is the glorious dream of marketers. Synchronized messages, brand identity, experiences, and offers, across every single channel, tailored to each customer. A combination of cross-channel integration, big data (and big data analytics), timely brick-and-mortar offering and messaging, multichannel is essentially the entire marketing arsenal concentrated in one place.

The goal? A consistent marketing experience across every touch point.

But how much of this is a rapidly developing reality, and how much of it is just a pipedream? We looked at what multichannel marketing is, some of the challenges associated with it, and why email might just be the solution everyone’s been looking for.

Multichannel marking crash course

Before we crack on, it’s important to fully understand what on earth multichannel marketing actually is. Definitions abound, from Hubspot’s:

“Communicating with and marketing to prospects and customers across many channels, including online and offline”

to Wikipedia’s more generic one:

“[it’s] the ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms”.

I’ll define it as this: multichannel marketing is using every possible avenue together to reach customers with highly focused, tailored messaging in order to drive sales.

What this means is that if a company has a website, an app, and an actual store (let’s say it’s Wal-Mart) then they need to engage their customers across all those channels in a really cohesive, complimentary way. So in Wal-Mart’s case, they might:

  • Send an email offering an in-store special, tailored to the customer based on previous sales and website browsing data
  • Publish that same information via social media, along with a blog post a how-to guide to using the product
  • Send a push notification via their app when the customer is in store about that special
  • Using geo-locators in store to text the customer to remind them to buy batteries for the product (when they’re in the battery aisle)

Obviously, this is a little exaggerated, but that’s the objective of multichannel marketing – engage lots of different channels in a complimentary way.

(Some) of the challenges

While it’s great that marketers have so many new and wonderful ways to reach customers, whether it’s an app, an email, social media, search, or in store locators, there are still major challenges to overcome in uniting them into a cohesive and effective multichannel strategy.

Challenge 1: Multichannel is expensive

It doesn’t have to be, but it almost always is. It’s really hard to get everything to work, at the right time, for the right effect, every single time. And that’s what multichannel is all about. It’s like building any complicated machine – it’s gonna cost some dough (although there are some savings – more on that later).

Challenge 2: Silos

Silos are a huge problem for multichannel. ‘Psshhh… silo’s… so 1990s…’ I hear you scoffing. But no! Silos are still a major problem today, and a very difficult challenge to overcome. Part of it is that the investment for ecommerce early on was reasonably low in comparison to opening a new actual store, so it has been prone to being slapped on without adequate planning or execution. The result is very little forethought into how it’s going to integrate with sales or even with other marketing efforts. Silos are also a problem because 99.99 percent of customers don’t use them! The idea of a siloed organizational structure only makes sense from the perspective of the organization. In a customer-centric world, where (obviously) customers are going to move across them, going from social media to email to an app to in store to back on a desktop searching for another product, silos come across seem downright archaic.

Challenge 3: Data analysis

Big data is wonderful – but data without analysis is just numbers without meaning. Part of the issue is a resource one – there are simply not enough data analysts working out there to cope with the enormous demand of companies. However, there are other issues as well:

  • Poor integration between different software programs and platforms
  • Misuse of data determining resource distribution (especially last click attribution, even when it’s clear other clicks did a lot of the work)

Oftentimes, companies have a lot of information, but they just don’t know what to do with it.

Why email will save the day

So that’s the current(ish) state of multichannel marketing. And here’s why email is going to be the spoke to the multichannel wheel:

  1. Email is great for mobile engagement because of customization
  2. Email bridges the online/offline divide
  3. Email is easy (and inexpensive) to automate

Let’s look at these in a little more detail.

Email is a great tool for mobile engagement

When you say mobile engagement, the first thought most marketers will have is social. But for the past few years, there has been a clear shift over towards mobile devices opening email, finally passing half way (53%) in Q3 last year.

Suddenly, email has gone from a stale desktop channel, great for B2B and not much else, to an awesome mobile channel for multichannel marketing efforts. What’s more, email has a number of advantages as a mobile channel over competing options. First, you can target and customize your message to the user far easier and on a far larger scale than you can with social media. Plus, any social media post is going to compete against a wild torrent of high-end content from hundreds and hundreds of sources. And so is email in the inbox, but with customization, the challenge for companies is at least mitigated.

For example, imagine you’re a clothing company, and Phil just bought some shoes off you. Now, if you’re using social media to engage with Phil, the best you could do is a tweet saying something like ‘30% off socks! Goes great with our shoes’

Probably not that effective.

But with email, you can send Phil a message with the subject line: ‘Phil, you know what’ll go great with your new boots? Some colourful socks!’

Which one do you think is going to connect with Phil?

The ability of email to be quickly and efficiently tailored to individual customers, and more importantly to do it easily and on an enormous scale, make it a crucial avenue for companies today.

Email bridges the online/offline divide

One of the core challenges to implanting a really excellent multichannel strategy is how to unite online and offline marketing efforts. For example, legacy systems often mean there’s a technical disconnect between inventory for ecommerce and brick-and-mortars. Another problem is uniting personalized information from in-store or online. For example, if a customer pays with a credit card in store, and then browses online with their account, there should be a way to unite those; unfortunately, this is often not the case. And while loyalty programs can help resolve this, a far simpler way is email.

Email is seen as an online identity. From B2B companies gathering leads, to Club Monaco’s loyalty program, an email address is a superb online ID. It doesn’t have the security problems of using a credit card, or using personal information from a call centre. Plus, social media usually requires an email address to access, further deepening the potential integration, customization, and engagement.

Finally, email is easy for organizations to capture at the check-out. It’s fast, it can be tied to a loyalty program, and customers are more willing to divulge their email addresses than other personal info (phone number, for example). Right now, email is checked frequently, used for personal things (like family), but is still given out without a lot of hesitation.

Basically, it’s positioned in the customer mind as a good way to communicate with both corporations and their Aunt Mildred.

So with social media, apps, and other digital engagement on one end, and actual stores on the other, email is the only technology that can sit nicely in the middle right now. In the future, Facebook, mobile phone numbers, or other communication channels might open up that change this, but currently email is the only one.

Email is easy (and inexpensive) to automate and customize

This is why I think it’s the best channel to lead a multichannel marketing effort. Multichannel marketing is all about providing exceptional experiences to the consumer no matter how they choose to engage with you. By customizing you offering to speak directly to the individual, you enormously improve the user experience and make multichannel marketing a little bit easier.

Speaking of easier, nothing is easier than automation. As mentioned, one of the core challenges to implementing and executing a multichannel strategy is the prohibitive cost. Email is not only inexpensive to set up as a channel in its own right, but it’s also an easy one to automate. The result is that you can take a small investment and build a large and complex system with it. Let’s go back to Phil with the shoes. Once he does that, his info is fed automatically into the ‘shoe’ cycle. He’ll get promos for socks straight away (potentially while he’s still in store). But then, say in three months, Phil gets an email promoting shoe cleaning products and boot cut jeans! Easy marketing, and great information that highly relevant to the consumer.

Wrap up

Multichannel marketing is going to be a huge part of the future for brands and small and medium enterprises. Customers are shifting towards digitally-forward companies, and already there’s an expectation that the experience online matches the experience in store, beyond just having the same colour palette.

Email is the crucial link in the chain between brick and mortar and digital marketing. It’s easy to customize, it’s easy to automate, and increasingly, it’s a great way to engage people on mobile. These three things make it the frontrunner for the multichannel marketing leader.

And it was under our noses all along.

I hope you enjoyed the read and stay tuned for my next article,

Daniel Matishak