TunedUp Media is a full service digital marketing and branding agency focused on providing creative digital marketing solutions, delivering results for our clients while supporting causes driving social change.
We spend a lot of time at our agency analyzing shopper behaviors so brands can meet the demands of their target audiences. We are keeping a close eye on trends from this past holiday season. Black Friday is a litmus test for shopper confidence, but sneaking in behind this crazy day of consumerism was something big: a report on climate assessment, released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
While many bemoaned the fact that such an important document was somewhat buried by shopping news, the report caught the eyes of many, including Patagonia, a brand that has long championed environmental issues.
Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario’s post on Linkedin caught my eye. She writes: “Based on last year’s irresponsible tax cut, Patagonia will owe less in taxes this year — $10 million less, in fact. Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet. Our home planet needs it more than we do.”
Not only did this donation go directly to groups concerned with climate change and environmental sustainability, but it also has received quite a bit of attention from the media. This move is a tangible reaction by a leading brand to some pretty scary stuff. But will it do more than just benefit our planet? What about its impact on Patagonia’s target audiences?
We explored this issue in an original study we completed earlier this year in collaboration with BuzzFeed. We wanted to see how many people actually made purchase decisions based on the political or cause-based actions of a specific brand. Are people choosing brands that support their own values? Brands have thought this to be the case for some time and have aligned themselves with various causes in order to hold on to the loyalty of an increasingly promiscuous shopper.
Our data showed that many shoppers — no matter their political leanings — chose brands for their quality rather than their beliefs. We also found that more than 65% of all shoppers choose brands that reflect their personalities. So, Patagonia is likely onto something here.
Keeping It Real
There can be a definite backlash for brands taking a political stand. If the move is not authentic to the brand, then consumers can see right through it. PepsiCo’s attempt to jump into the Black Lives Matter conversation last summer resulted in a pulled advertisement and a public apology.
There are many examples where jumping on political trends seemed a bit “off” and resulted in public outcry. We saw a lot of this during the 2017 Super Bowl ad blitz following the controversial 2016 election, with mixed results. Some consumers were pleased that their favorite brands took a stand, while others saw it as inauthentic and alienating. Ads in 2018 were decidedly more humorous and less political.
To avoid this kind of off-brand message, marketers should explore which issues align with existing company goals and values. Actions and messaging should support this position and, if possible, resonate with the brand’s customer base or potential customer base. Reaching consumers with passion and authenticity is key when getting involved in political or cultural issues.
For Patagonia, this recent large donation is very on-brand. In fact, the company’s mission statement is: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
From the company’s thoughtful history and its current quest to find even more environmentally-friendly practices and materials, and all the way to the popular book Let My People Go Surfing, written by founder Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia has long represented its mission. This recent donation falls right in line with the company’s brand promise.
Patagonia is not alone in marrying social causes with a brand promise. One sweeping example of this trend is encompassed by B Corps. These are businesses that have been certified by B Lab, a nonprofit group that has set standards for things like transparency, social engagement and environmental protocols.
Some brands that have gone through the rigorous certification process include Ben & Jerry’s, New Belgium Brewing and People Against Dirty, which comprises two brands: Method and Ecover. These brands have a hyper-focus on their ecological promise. For example, method’s soap bottles are made primarily from debris recovered from the ocean. They’ve received a large following of loyal consumers due to their commitment to environmental and sustainably sound practices and products.
However, Method and Ecover were bought out by S.C. Johnson & Son about a year ago. It has been interesting to see how that purchase is playing out among their consumer audiences. Some environmental watch groups have even called for a boycott. Perhaps S.C. Johnson isn’t a good fit for the promise that these brands previously offered to their audiences.
Still, other brands are trying to win the loyalty of consumers through very transactional moves like special offers, deals or discount loyalty programs. They want to find ways to make the disloyal customer come back again and again. However, today’s belief-based shoppers are looking for more.
Making an investment that is more powerful and longer term — say, $10 million worth or becoming B Corp certified — creates a statement that goes far beyond a customer’s basic needs and that appeals to their beliefs. When a brand has a clear value system and supports those values through action, consumers take note.
Not sure why you’re not ranking #1 for your focus keywords in Google? You might just be making one of the mistakes a lot of site owners make. Many sites, from the small local businesses to the big corporate ones, are making similar mistakes. Here, we’ll give you an overview of the SEO issues we encounter most frequently and how to rank your site on google. Of course, we’ll also explain how to avoid or solve these SEO don’ts. Check this list and make sure you’re not making any of these mistakes!
#1: Forgetting that faster is better
The first thing we’d like to touch on is site speed. The faster your site, the more Google will favor it. There’s a very useful tool from Google itself to check your site speed: Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool gives you an overview of what aspects need improvement to boost the speed of a particular page.
One of the recommendations we frequently give is to optimize your images. A lot of websites have images that are relatively large, which take a lot of time to load. Resizing your images can speed up the loading time. If you have a WordPress site, you can do this easily by installing a plugin that does that for you.
Another tip is to enable browser caching and gzip compression. Both of them will speed up your entire site. The first makes your site faster to load for returning visitors and the latter compresses static files, which makes them faster to load into your browser.
In case of a WordPress install, we also recommend taking a good look at the plugins that are activated. Are you actually using all of them? Perhaps some of them can be replaced by another plugin that combines those functions? The best advice we can give you on this topic is that less is more. The fewer plugins that are activated, the faster your WordPress installment can be loaded.
#2: Trying to rank for the wrong keywords
If you want to rank in Google you have to make sure that you’re using the right keywords for every page. One of the biggest mistakes I frequently encounter is that site owners are optimizing for too generic keywords. If you are a relatively small business that wants to rank for ‘rental car’, you’re aiming too high. You should try to come up with something more specific than that. Otherwise, you’re competing with all the car rental companies all over the world, which is impossible to do! So at least make sure you add the area in which your company is located to the keyword. This will make the keyword more long tail, as we call it.
The longer and more specific the keywords are, the higher your chances of ranking for this keyword. Of course, this also means that the search volume for this keyword decreases, but you can compensate for this by optimizing a lot of pages on your site for different long tail keywords. Your site will eventually gain more traffic for all of these keywords combined, than it ever would if you optimized for one main keyword, for which you could never rank page 1 in Google.
#3: Failing to invite people to visit your site
Metadata is what appears on search engine result pages (SERPs) when a website comes up for certain queries. It includes the title of the page and its meta description. The page title is still one of the most important ranking factors for Google, so you have to make sure it’s optimized correctly for every page. This means adding the relevant keyword to each particular page and making sure that your page title isn’t too long. If your page title is too long (currently 400 to 600 pixels), it will get cut off in Google. You don’t want potential visitors to be unable to read the full title in the SERPs.
The meta description is not a ranking factor, but it does play an important part in optimizing your Click Through Rate (CTR). CTR gives some insight into how likely potential visitors are to actually click on your site in the SERPs. If you optimize your meta descriptions with clear and attractive extracts on what potential visitors can find on your site, it becomes easier for them to see if the information they’re looking for is on that page. The more likely potential visitors are to think your site will provide an answer to their search query, the more traffic a page will gain.
#4: Neglecting to write awesome content
We regularly write about writing awesome content on this blog, but we still frequently come across sites that do a poor job in writing content. It’s important to make sure every page of your site has decent content, at least 300 words. You can’t expect Google to see you as an expert on a certain topic when you have only written two sentences about it. This indicates to Google that your page probably isn’t the best result to match the search query.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to think of Google as your audience. You write for your visitors and not for Google. Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and provide the best answers possible. Therefore, writing quality content for your audience is also something that will immediately lead to Google’s approval.
Writing quality content means writing original content. This is also important to avoid duplicate content with other sites. And it means that sites have to stop stuffing keywords into their texts. Your text has to be easy to read for your visitor. Obviously, your visitor doesn’t benefit from a keyword stuffed text, because this decreases the readability.
#5: No call to action for your visitors
Once visitors are on your site, an important goal is to keep them on your site. You don’t want your visitors immediately bouncing back to Google once they have read something on your site. This is why you need to encourage visitors to click through your site. The best way to do this is to create a call-to-action (CTA), which usually is a button that offers an action to your visitor. This can be, for instance, a ‘buy’ button on a product page, or a ‘sign up’ button for the newsletters.
Make sure that every page has one call-to-action, so the goal of the page is clear. If you add multiple buttons, you lose the focus of the page and your visitors won’t get where you want them to go. So think about what the right goal is for every page. Also, make sure that the CTA stands out from your design, so it’s clearly visible and cannot be missed. If the button blends into the design of your page too much, it will attract fewer clicks. So make it stands out: don’t be afraid to use a distinct color!
In 2018 Google switched to mobile-first indexing. This means that Google looks at the mobile version of your site to decide how high you should rank. So if the desktop version of your site is set up brilliantly, but your mobile site isn’t responsive at all, you have a lot of work to do!
A great way to test if your site is – at least – mobile friendly is to use Google’s mobile-friendly test. This gives you an indication if your site is fit for displaying on mobile devices. But don’t stop after checking this. The best advice we can give is to visit your site on your mobile phone. Browse your own site for a while and try to click on every button, image, and link to see what happens. Is everything working as expected? Can you actually purchase something on your site while using your mobile phone? Are all pages displayed correctly? You might find you’ll have some work to do!
As SEO consultants we’ve seen many sites making the same mistakes. Learn from the ones we’ve listed in this post: focus on site speed, write great content and optimize for the right keywords. If you make sure people want to visit your site, have great calls-to-action and prepare for mobile, you’re already on your way to a well-optimized website, the holistic way!
As more brick-and-mortar conglomerates bite the dust and online sales continue to climb, the ability of a smaller ecommerce brand to stand above the crowd will determine its life or death.
As many businesses know at this point, content marketing is the crucial ingredient for this task.
The landscape of content marketing is changing like crazy.
As the standards of SEO, web design, writing, etc. continue to evolve, businesses from all industries are continuously forced to refine their approaches.
The harsh reality is that some strategies can work like magic one day, then be completely obsolete the next.
Nowadays, the scope of what defines “good content” for ecommerce businesses is a layered concept that involves many elements.
Let’s discuss five ways ecommerce brands can establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
1. Prioritize E-A-T Score
One the most important recent changes to Google’s search quality ratings guidelines involved E-A-T score (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness).
There is now a strong focus on applying this score to individual content creators, rather than brands themselves. The idea is to refine the way content is ranked based on the source.
For example, if someone is producing content and weight supplements, they should have a strong E-A-T score in the medical field.
So how does this factor in for ecommerce brands?
Google’s algorithms are designed to mimic hypothetical human quality raters.
That being said, if you want your product pages to rank highly on the SERPs, you need to find ways to improve your E-A-T score.
You need to prove to the search engines (and the users) that you have a proven knowledge of the goods you sell.
As an ecommerce retailer, start by making sure that you work with highly reputable manufacturers.
If you make it a point to showcase that your suppliers/manufacturers have recognized expertise in your field, this is going to reflect on you.
Additionally, you can reach out to renowned figures with proven industry expertise to give you recommendations.
The functionality, aesthetics, and integrity of your website play a huge role in how experts will decide to recommend you and your products.
This is all about verifying Expertise.
In the ecommerce world, it’s easy for bigger companies that manufacture their own products (like L.L Bean and Nike) to be seen as highly authoritative.
Third-party sellers, on the other hand, need to have evidence that they are a verified merchant for certain products.
For example, if you have the Better Business Bureau logo linked to your website with verified affiliation, the page would likely rank higher.
Getting your product pages to rank well comes down to the concept of customer success. For instance:
Do your product pages answer potential questions or concerns a buyer might have?
Is it easy to get in contact with you?
Is the return process clearly explained?
Are there any unpleasant surprises in the checkout?
Are there verified user ratings?
Do the pages deploy HTTPS?
These are just a few pieces of the puzzle when it comes to building trust. Essentially, the more descriptive, intuitive, and secure your product pages are, the better they will rank.
E-A-T score has been building up in importance for some time now, and will continue to in the future. In order to get product pages ranked, these guidelines will need to play a key role in your content marketing strategy.
2. Integrate Video into Product Pages & Beyond
The biggest drawback of buying online has always been the inability to look at products in person. For the most part, you never really know what you are getting until it shows up on your doorstep.
Now, AR has been doing amazing things to remedy this problem.
However, most online brands aren’t IKEA – they don’t have the budget to spend on this flashy feature.
That being said, incorporating video into your product pages and content marketing plan should be a must. It’s no secret that the internet loves video content. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 75 percent of all online traffic is video.
Starting with product pages, video does wonders to give buyers a visual understanding of what they are buying.
Seeing a real human handling the product is about as close as they can get to seeing it in person.
Take a look at this one from Saddleback Leather:
This video does a fantastic job of giving viewers everything they need to know about the product, along with some personal insight.
Simply put, images and descriptions of products can only get you so far.
Now, outside of the product page, you can use video to discuss the latest trends in your industry, compare items, bring in guests, etc.
Keep in mind, the search engines and social media (Facebook especially) favors video in their ranking algorithms.
Using video across the entire scope of your ecommerce content marketing plan does a lot to solidify your brand voice and values, as well as gives potential buyers all the information they need.
3. Focus on Qualified Reviews from Google Partners
Nearly everyone who has ever bought something online knows how much customer reviews can influence purchasing decisions.
Reviews are validation from a third-party source with no ulterior motives. That’s why reviews are extremely powerful in convincing people to buy.
Unfortunately, many companies and review services took advantage of this and would produce phony reviews in an attempt to increase customer confidence.
Over time, both consumers and the search engines wised up to this shady practice.
Reviews have been a ranking signal for a while, but Google has made it a point to favor those that are left via a verified Google Review Partner.
Partner platforms like Trustpilot and Yotpo do a lot to ensure all reviews are authentic and timely, and for that, Google sees them as credible resources. These verified reviews can do a lot to improve your Google Seller Ratings.
Accounts with 1,000 followers or less normally see an 8 percent like rate, whereas this number drops to about 4 percent in followings of 1,001-9,999.
The takeaway is that smaller followers tend to be more focused on the message. When it comes to influencer marketing, engagement will always be more important than the number of followers.
A couple of years ago, Banana Republic did a great job choosing micro-influencers to promote their products on Instagram.
By using a diverse set of industry influencers for different styles and hashtags, they were able to reach a plethora of different audience segments for relatively cheap!
So, instead of dumping all your budget on a single big name, you are wise to choose several different micro-influencers. Your engagement rates will likely be much higher and give you a better ROI.
5. Do It for a Cause
Cause marketing has been a huge buzzword in recent years. In the realm of content marketing, it can do wonders to create a more loyal and devoted customer base.
According to Edelman, 64 percent of consumers buy on belief, and will choose, switch, boycott, or avoid brands based on their standing in relation to a social issue.
Now, cause marketing can be a small as a monthly or annual contribution to a cause.
Or, the cause can define the brand itself.
Patagonia has been doing this successfully since day one.
As an ecommerce brand looking to get the ball rolling in cause marketing, several key factors come into play.
First and foremost, you need to choose a cause that has parallels with your business goals. If there are no congruencies, it will look like a cheap PR stunt.
KFC’s “Buckets for a Cure” campaign is a prime example of this type of failure. A few years back, KFC paired with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research and donated $0.50 for every bucket of chicken sold.
In terms of money raised, it was a great success. However, from a PR standpoint, it missed the mark horribly. This is because fried chicken simply has nothing to do with breast cancer.
Many would argue that greasy fast food can actually increase the risk of cancer! The lesson here is to choose a cause wisely and prove that you have a strong business devotion.
Next, once you’ve chosen a fitting cause, you need to figure out the details of how you will contribute.
Will a portion of a purchase go toward the cause?
Will it be a “buy one give one” deal?
Will it be action-driven where customers can get involved themselves?
There are several types of cause marketing to consider. Be critical in your choice and understand how it will benefit both parties.
In a nutshell, cause marketing shows customers that their money is going to something greater than both themselves and the seller.
One of my favorite examples is TOMS’ One-for-One campaign.
When a customer purchases a pair of shoes from TOMS, the company donates a pair to children in developing countries. The campaign has given more than 35 million pairs of shoes to children in need.
Now, something like this might not be feasible for a small ecommerce operation. The most important thing is that you prove you are devoted and promote the fact that buying your product is making the world a better place.
There’s no denying that ecommerce businesses have it tough these days.
After all, they are going up against one of the biggest business giants to ever grace the world: Amazon.
If you look at all the successful ecommerce brands out there (aside from Amazon and eBay), the biggest common thread is that they produce and distribute stellar content.
If you are looking to gain traction for your ecommerce store, keep these five strategies in mind.
Albeit a lot of this is actually dependent on content marketing and influencer marketing strategies of your small business. Both of which we’ll talk about shortly.
The important thing to remember is that social media doesn’t just help with your brand awareness. It also allows you to freely engage your customers.
In fact, you have the edge here compared to big brands. Customers like authentic, prompt responses. And as a small business, you’re more than capable of delivering that.
2. Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) is an absolute must of in a marketing plan in small businesses. When I talk about SEM it includes both its components – SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click).
To explain the components in simpler words, SEO is about optimizing your site and content to improve your search engine rankings. Thereby, improving your site traffic.
No wonder it’s a top inbound marketing priority for 61% of marketers. This is according to the previously cited HubSpot report.
Paid search or PPC marketing is all about advertising within the sponsored listings of a partner site or search engine. You pay for each click coming through the ad or per impression (CPI).
It’s evident then, that SEO helps you boost your traffic organically while PPC can help your traffic grow faster.
They both clearly have their own benefits. And if I were to recommend a marketing plan for small businesses, I’d go for a balanced strategy involving both.
3. Content Marketing
SEM gives your small business a good marketing foundation and social media gives you a good delivery platform.
The next obvious step is to create and market content that is capable of causing a surge of traffic to your web pages.
Content marketing can take numerous forms, depending on your goals and marketing strategy.
If you’re looking to publish detailed content, then ebooks, white papers, and other long-form content are the ways to go. These can help you gain downloads, site traffic, and leads.
46% of marketers believe research reports generate leads with the best conversion possibility.
That’s exactly what the Content Marketing Institute does. In fact, they have a dedicated online library for users to download their ebooks from.
Image via Content Marketing Institute
On the other hand, you can also use content like testimonial videos or brand advertisements. They are great ways to generate buzz about your small business.
4. Influencer Marketing
This is where you can truly shine as so many other small businesses have. In fact, influencers can seriously elevate the three marketing plans we’ve already discussed.
Working with experts from your niche and other significant influencers can have a major impact on your brand awareness.
It’s essentially a paid form of media advertisement that has a very organic feel to it.
Influencer-generated content and interactions are one of the best ways to increase your organic traffic.
Pro tip: If you’re running influencer marketing campaigns to your eCommerce website, there are a few tricks you can implement to squeeze every last drop of ROI from the traffic your influencers create.
5. Email Marketing
Now you might think why this dinosaur of a tactic is on this list. But it’s on this list for a reason.
According to the Smart Insight study from before, 30% of marketers rate email marketing to have the highest ROI.
As is evident then, email marketing continues to be one of the best marketing plans for small businesses.
Essentially, this marketing ploy is about building a directory of your existing as well as prospective customers.
It’s list of consumers who might be interested in your business, (and their emails addresses).
And you can safely say that they’re interested because most of the time they’ve opted to be on that list.
Here’s an interesting thing to note. Perhaps you’ve picked up on it already.
Remember all of the points that we discussed earlier?
They help contribute to this golden directory of yours in some way or another.
Whether it’s by signing up to download your white papers or to take part in that social media giveaway, people will be voluntarily giving you their names and email addresses
From this point onwards, it’s all up to you on how you want to leverage this golden egg of prospects.
An easy way is to send them simple content like newsletters or update them about your latest blog post.
This way you can increase your site traffic and increase the number of times they are exposed to your brand.
By showcasing your authority and credibility in your industry, you’ll be able to convert these leads into sales.
And that’s what matters in the end, doesn’t it?
6. Focus on Local SEO
Since we’re talking about a marketing plan for small businesses, we can’t ignore the role local SEO plays in your marketing success.
Local SEO is a must-have marketing plan for a small business with a physical address. Regardless of whether you’re a consultant, a doctor, or a restaurant owner, local SEO will help you gain more customers.
Consider this insightful nugget of information:
Around 76% of people who looked up a nearby business on their phones visited the business within a day. Further, 28% of these searches ended in a purchase.
That’s a pretty staggering percentage by any measure.
It goes to show the importance of being one of the top results when potential customers search for nearby businesses. Focussing on your local SEO helps you do just that.
Now, you’re probably wondering what you can do to improve your local SEO. Well, there are a couple of things that you can do.
The first of which is getting yourself listed in the Google My Business directory. Numerous link aggregators and platforms mine data from Google Maps, so having an updated listing will do you a ton of good.
Image via Google
After that, you want to shift your attention to improving your search rankings to ensure your listing is the top result.
One way to do so is to research relevant long-tail keywords that users might use in their queries to find your business.
This will help you identify the keywords you want to be ranking at the top for. Then you can incorporate them into your website content.
7. Mobile Marketing
Typically, people tend to give a lot of emphasis on social media marketing and content marketing plans for their small business.
A sizeable number of them make the mistake of ignoring the importance of mobile marketing.
Just consider the previous statistic that 78% of people look up nearby businesses on their smartphones.
By no means is that a small number of potential customers. But what does this have to do with mobile marketing?
Well, it’s all about providing the best possible mobile experience you can to mobile device users.
More often than not, if people are having trouble looking up your business on their mobile, they’ll just move on. This is why it’s important to optimize your website to be mobile-friendly.
There are many tools you can use to that end. WordPress, for one, allows you to create a mobile-friendly version of your website.
In addition to having a mobile-optimized website, you can also consider offering a native app for customers to install on their phones.
When it comes to marketing, there really isn’t any magic formula.
What does help though, especially if you’re a small business, is proper planning.
Defining our goals, coming up with a well-thought-out strategy, and nailing your execution is what pushes you across the line.
Brandon Brown is the CEO of Grin, an influencer marketing software solution for brands. Grin’s software helps customers identify, recruit & activate the world’s most engaging influencers. Prior to Grin Brandon led marketing for the #1 energy drink market in the world, Los Angeles & Orange County, at Red Bull North America. He is an expert in consumer marketing and has extensive experience working with the worlds largest brands to reach consumers through influencers, athletes, musicians, and artists.
The job of the social media manager used to be mainly governed by interns or specialists, only requiring them to post organic content to gain any benefit from the various social media platforms. Today, however, you face a new social media landscape. Here are just a couple of major changes we saw this year:
Updates and changes within social media platforms are indeed abundant and quick.
Staying up to date on these changes requires a subject matter expert to keep a keen eye, to make sure that the brands they work for have continued success in social media platforms.
It’s great to have an existing employee who perhaps works on other tasks within the company, contributing to social media efforts.
However, you’re far better off hiring a social media manager to help manage, maintain, and execute social media campaigns and provide a better return on your spend and investment.
Here are the top five reasons why you need to have a social media manager.
1. The Social Landscape Is Always Changing
A social media manager can keep track of any algorithm changes and new trends within the platform, but also adapt your strategy and the content based on the latest updates.
A social media manager can take in what changes are either happening or soon to take place, and be agile, so can go back to the drawing board with their clients and change campaign objectives, and content to provide continued success with regards to their goals.
2. You Need a Social Media Strategy
An employee posting at random on your social media profiles, having no plan, will do a disservice to your brand.
If that’s your current state of being, I strongly advise that you go back to the drawing board to find out how you can either:
Have an existing employee who is passionate about this space take over the social media efforts full time.
Or reconsider if your brand is ready to be in this space.
Social media is not a set-it-and-forget-it tactic. In many ways, this approach can do greater harm than good.
Having a plan developed for social media requires the social media expert to come together with all other people executing other marketing campaigns (direct mail, email, paid search, TV, radio) on your brand’s behalf.
Doing so will prevent your efforts from being siloed and increase the synergy of all your marketing efforts – online and offline.
For example, if you’re planning on pushing out a direct mail piece, one that is more costly than perhaps paid search or email, your marketing team should think about how your direct mail piece can be partnered with emails and social media campaigns after its in-house date to magnify your message.
This will provide better leads, engagement, and results.
Your social media manager will be able to bake in their campaigns to all other campaigns you’re working on.
The social media manager will also be able to gauge what your primary goals are for the year and translate them into social media content and campaigns.
Speaking of content, a social media manager will not only put together the strategy, being mindful of other marketing efforts but will also develop a social media calendar which they should share with you monthly on what campaigns paid and organic they plan on executing on your behalf.
3. Protect Your Reputation & Help Your Customers
Social media manager(s) are constantly on high alert to each message, review, and comment happening within social media regarding a brand.
Not only do they have the right process in place with regards to triaging, but also they’re aware of how to conduct themselves within the platform, representing the brand.
Hiring an individual who has a great deal of experience in this area is huge, as within seconds a social media manager can help mitigate and solve an issue which would have otherwise turned into a disaster if a less-seasoned individual would have put in the role.
It’s vital that the social media manager develops not only the right voice and language of the brand within social media, but also work with other individuals within the business, like customer support and PR, so contingency plans are put in place, well before a social media crisis takes place.
The action of responding to a comment, whether it’s good or bad, should also be done within a certain timeframe. The sooner, the better.
Your brand can either help solve a problem for an existing or future customer or client, or make someone respect how your brand conducts itself on social media.
You can’t retain what you don’t understand. When focused on constant customer acquisition, it gets easy to get carried away. Okay, so you’ve figured out an acquisition strategy, you’ve made your product/service fit into the customers’ lives. Your unique value proposition (UVP) works – it entices conversion and guides purchase decisions. Do you know what happens after? Where does the user fit after the completion of the sales cycle?
Start by Understanding your Audience
Although it’s fun to continually find new channels and audiences to sell to, it’s far less expensive to retain one. However, retention doesn’t rely on the same drivers as acquisition – the objectives behind them are different, and although the user behavior and sentiment that arise from these two are complementary they are to be addressed separately. Customer loyalty builds from retention. Customer acquisition is merely a doorway to it.
The key takeaway here is to understand that your customers don’t disappear after the sales cycle but continue to engage with your product/service and tie their experience with it to your brand.
So what do you know about your customers exactly?
To complete the picture of your audience behavior before and during the sales cycle and integrate the findings into your retention strategy, you’ll need to layer in a lot of data. What are the Key Data Metrics to take into consideration? You can start by assessing your:
Search Marketing Metrics
How do users find you? What branded/non-branded search queries ultimately lead to the conversion or a point of purchase? What were the top performing landing pages and where was the funnel the leakiest? Can you tie the specific piece of content to the specific user demography that brought you the largest volume of sales?
If you have Google Analytics tracking enabled and integrated with Google Search Console, you will be able to track down these queries for up to 16 months in the past and identify top performing ones. You can further deepen the analysis by tieing these keywords to specific landing pages and identify them as optimal starting points of the user’s journey towards acquisition. This can be broken down even further by correlating this data to your user’s demography, device type, behavior, and interests to identify the audience types that are more likely to convert.
How are your sales performing? What is the average order value you are noting? What is the average value of your repeat purchase rate? What are your top performing products/services and is there a correlation to the user’s demography and seasonal trends?
If you have Enhanced E-commerce tracking setup via Google Analytics or otherwise third-party software dashboard for it, you will be able to track all of these and gather valuable insight. The most important thing to keep in mind is that sales metrics highly vary with the volume of the segment analyzed. Seasonal or trending sales can appear as anomalies when looked through short time spans so keep your eyes open and benchmark the data within the same timeframe of a period that precedes it or within the same period the year before.
Acquisition and Referral Channels
Do you know where your customers come from? What are your main acquisition channels? Are they the same channels they discover you on or are they simply the channels that drive most sales? What are the channels that drive the most revenue?
If we assume that your website is your primary conversion point and that you have Google Analytics setup, you can easily answer the aforementioned questions. Visit Acquisition>Overview report to see which channels drive the most traffic and have the least bounce. You can deepen the analysis by changing the audience segment from All users to Converters. If you have more than one goal or goal group setup, you can further breakdown channel performance comparison to a specific goal.
With all of the above data broken down and layered into a structure, you are now able to visualize the type of audience that is most likely to convert, their paths towards and after the conversion point and how they behave before, during and after they make a purchase.
Establishing a customer persona as a fictionalized representation of your ideal customer will help you market your product better and understand what drove them to chose you as their seller/provider. This is best explained when visualized so let’s lay out an example. Say you’re selling cookbooks and your goal is to increase the number of sales and promote new series for the upcoming Thanksgiving to a new and an existing customer base. Which one of these is easier for you to market?
“We wish to promote [this] cookbook series for this Thanksgiving on Instagram and Pinterest. Our target is women, ages 24-55 that love to cook and have already bought or considered buying a cookbook this year”
“Our goal is to promote [this] cookbook series to Martha. She’s a stay at home mom in her mid-40s that loves to cook. She loves #foodporn pages and shares her dishes on Instagram. She’s conservative and enjoys traditional values so major holidays are a big thing for her as they are the only time of the year when she can cook for the whole family and their friends. Martha has already bought a cookbook from us and checks our Instagram feed and website for community generated recipes at least once a month. She’s really into slow cooking and organic meals.”
See the difference? This kind of a customer persona representation is what you can get from the above-given metrics layered into a structure.
Most Common Retention Marketing Tactics and Their Respective KPIs
Now that you know your customer personas and understand their behavior, the ways in which you can work on their retention become much clearer. Retention marketing tactics may vary depending on your niche, market, customers, and objectives, but the underlying framework of defining them remains the same.
Some retention marketing tactics are evergreen and have been validated numerous times. Of course, given the assumption they are driven by the data established in the previous step.
To name a few.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
While mainly considered as an acquisition tactic, SEO offers the number of opportunities to improve customer retention and build loyalty.
This is mainly done via content optimization – both onsite and offsite. By identifying the keywords, content and referral sources your customers engage and interact with, you are getting a step closer to personalizing the content to capture and hold their attention. Leverage search marketing metrics into your SEO retention marketing strategy and create a content roadmap.
Don’t merely focus on short tail keywords but try elevating relevance to the related topics. You can achieve this by exploring LSI keywords and keyword syntagms that target the users’ interest and intent. Let’s get back to Martha and cookbook promotion. Topics that ultimately may lead Martha into buying another cookbook from you are slow cooking recipes, the pantry, and pots used to make them, the choice of ingredients filtered by the season or the way they are grown and packaged. Martha may be lead into buying a cookbook if she identifies herself as a backbone of the family and sees the dinner table as a point of gathering, community and family values. Don’t simply force the user to self-identify as a part of a large segment, but try to personalize their experience.
Some technical aspects of SEO, specifically in terms of onsite optimization like a solid website and information architecture with a valid HTML5 and structured microdata markup will help crawlers better understand the structure and the semantics behind it. This helps both discoverability and personalization of search results pages according to the target user preferences. For example, structural and semantic website markup will help show different results to different people like this:
When Martha searches for a cookbook via a search engine, she will most probably get slow cooking recipe cookbooks as returned results.
When I search for a cookbook via a search engine, I will most probably get an Anarchist Cookbook as a returned result.
Other technical aspects that relate to the website’s usability and performance such as page load time, responsiveness and availability are important SEO factors that underlie user retention and help build loyalty. If your website is inaccessible or hard to load, users will most likely bounce or rarely engage with it.
Recommended KPIs to track:
Number of inbound links
Number of outbound links
The volume of organic traffic
The volume of referral traffic
Search engine result page (SERP) position for the specific set of keywords
Page views per session
Dwell time (average time on page)
Social media are a great channel for building awareness, trust, and loyalty. It resonates greatly in correlation with SEO/SEM retention tactics. Backed up with influencer marketing it’s your doorway to building brand advocates to further deepen the retention and high-quality referrals.
When synched with your established editorial/publishing calendar for SEO retention marketing purposes and combined with branded hashtags and link tracking it becomes a powerful channel for building customer loyalty.
You can leverage branded hashtags and link tracking to identify and explore new opportunities for engagement and tap the source of potential brand advocates. Probably the greatest benefit of social media is the opportunity to engage with your potential and existing customer base in real time. Utilizing chatbots and educating your sales staff to use social media as a part of your customer service is the single most overlooked tactic that does wonders for building retention and customer loyalty.
Recommended KPIs to track:
Number of followers and fans
Engagement rate – both campaign and page specific
Percentage of referral traffic generated through social media channels
The volume of content pushed through as part of marketing distribution
Number of completed customer service requests via social media chat, comments and messaging
The email will never die and it is an underlying medium of all web works and usage.
Email marketing is most commonly used as a primary driver of user retention and to warm up cold leads. Two most common tactics employed via email marketing to improve customer retention are to mail newsletters with the latest news and content updates and to entice repeated purchases by offering discounts and deals to existing customer base.
Content curation for any of these tactics can be synced with your editorial calendar to provide the best results in terms of open rate and CTR. You can further break down your efforts into segmenting email lists according to the user’s preferences, seasonal trends, and demography.
But email marketing should be approached with greater caution than any of the aforementioned. Overpromotion and poor handling can get your whole domain blacklisted and severely damage the trust built so far. The most important thing to note here is that your user is aware of how he got on your mailing list, how will you handle it and that he is given an opportunity to adjust his/her preferences or unsubscribe at any given moment.
When deciding on whether you are going to use your own mailing server or a third party service for it, please consider if you are able to adhere all of the rules listed above and have the ability to measure and track its performance.
Recommended KPIs to track:
Number of emails sent out – campaign specific and overall
Click through rate (CTR) of an email
Open rate of email campaign sent
Repeat purchase rate through the email channel
Monitor, Measure and Optimize for Growth
As aforementioned, in order to truly improve your customer loyalty with digital marketing, you need to understand your customers. There are numerous frameworks for customer analysis to explore and correlate with your retention marketing efforts. Devising a customer retention marketing strategy may vary from businesses to brands but the processes objectives underlying them correlate.
Deep measuring and enhanced analytics of each part of your customer journey is a great start but will give you a ton of unstructured data. The way you leverage this data to ask and give an answer to specific questions about their behavior beyond the completion of the sales cycle will determine your success in building long-term relationships with your customer base.
In Hindu mythology, Ravana, the great scholar, and demon king has ten heads, symbolizing his various powers and knowledge. The heads were indestructible with the ability to morph and regrow. In their battle, Rama, the warrior god, thus must go below Ravana’s heads and aim the arrow at his solitary heart to slay him for good.
In modern times, the consumer is a bit like Ravana, not in terms of his evil designs but his multiple identities. Research states that an average consumer in the US today is connected to 3.64 devices. With the proliferation of a host of new age devices like smart speakers, wearables, connected homes, and automobiles etc., it is projected that she could be connected to as many as 20 devices in not so distant future. Like it did for Rama, this poses a clear challenge for today’s marketer – how to navigate through the maze of these devices to identify and recognize THE consumer so she can be singular, consistently and contextually engaged across her addressable touchpoints.
Industry research suggests that only a small fraction of consumer businesses can currently accurately identify their audience – hence the advent and rapid rise of Identity management solutions that help businesses resolve the identity of their audience into individual consumer identities and profiles. The size of the Identity solutions market is estimated to grow from $900 Mn currently to over $2.6 Bn by 2022, outpacing overall marketing investments growth A recent Winterberry research survey indicates that about 50% of consumer businesses have intensified focus and plan to increase investments on Identity solutions. While segmentation and targeting on paid media remain the predominant use cases for consumer brands, cross-device and channel personalization plus measurement and attribution are expected to become areas of focus in near future.
Identity Solutions: The past, present, and future
At its core, an identity resolution solution’s job is to continuously gather audience activity data from a disparate set of data sources, platforms and services to derive a cohesive, omnichannel identity and profile of each individual audience member. However, the approach has been largely siloed so far with marketing channel specific identity platforms and strategies. CRM databases as custodians of first-party customer and contact information have been the mainstream identity platforms for direct marketing activations, primarily over email or direct mail.
With the growth of digital marketing spends, Data Management Platforms (DMPs) that store digital audience behavior data to primarily support display ad buying use cases have come into prominence. However, their relevance is now questionable with walled gardens like Facebook and Google closing doors on them. The other growing channel of influence has been mobile data platforms to support mobile device & location-based engagement.
To overcome the limitations of a disconnected, multi-channel approach that current Identity solutions like CRM databases or DMPs are constrained with, the focus is shifting to emerging modern solutions like Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), Identity Graphs, and Googles new version of Shopping Insights. These offer a unified, cross-touchpoint and omni-channel approach towards identity resolution and linking, enabling a fully harmonized, single view of the customer to the marketer.
Figure i. Customer identity management is the key to contextual marketing
The Mechanics of Identity Resolution
Identity resolution system’s key job is to continuously collect audience related data from a variety of sources and put it through an ongoing process that resolves, generates and updates this data into discrete consumer profiles, which are then used by the business for various forms of marketing or other activations.
The process comprises of 3 key steps:
Data Management – Includes ingestion of disparate set of consumer data, both identity, and activity related, followed by processing and storage of this data into organized repositories.
Identity Resolution – This is a crucial and complex mix of a deterministic and probabilistic process of deriving identifiers, matching, cross-referencing and linking to unique consumer identities followed by a validation mechanism to maximize the accuracy of the resolution process.
Consumer profile generation – Associates all identifiers, attributes and activities into a harmonized, holistic Identity Graph of the consumer, an individual or a household.
What makes an Effective Identity Management Solution: 5 Mantras
Ensure the Identity system is fed with data from a wide array of data sources. Not just device activity but also the applications behind to help drill past the device, cookie or pixel and reveal the real people behind them and their behavior.
As part of data management, ensure meeting consumer privacy rights and compliance requirements of industry norms like GDPR, CCPA etc.
Identity resolution should include a consistent, rule-based deterministic match process to ensure high accuracy critical to support contextual, personalized engagement in direct marketing use cases
The deterministic process must be supplemented with machine learning driven probabilistic matching to expand the data set, and meet the requirement of use cases like social media or display ad marketing that expects a wider net but relatively less 1:1 personalization
The generated consumer profile, in form of an Identity graph, while having the requisite accuracy and timeliness, should go beyond the linkages to identifiers and attributes by including the desired insights to optimally enable marketing activation use cases
We all want to know what the best time to post a social media update is, but the answer isn’t always straightforward.
With differing algorithms for different social media sites, various time zones to contend with, and different audiences, is there really a universal “best time” to post?
I’ll dig into data that helps demystify this issue, so you can figure out how to approach posting social media updates.
Algorithms Versus Time of Day
Most — but not all — social media platforms have evolved from being chronological timelines to using algorithms to predict relevancy to the user.
That means that the social platforms try to surface the updates they believe is the most relevant based on different signals, whether it’s engagement, timeliness, and other factors.
While posting at a specific time might be relevant to the people who are logged in at that moment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your users won’t see your content at some point when they log in, even if you posted earlier in the day.
There are some caveats.
Let’s go over those next by taking a closer look at the social media algorithms of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
The social network announced a new ranking algorithm in 2018:
Today we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed. With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.
With this new algorithm, brands will have to work even harder to be seen:
More posts from friends and family will surface with less public content from brands.
Pages might see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.
Pages with posts that prompt conversations between friends will see less of a negative impact.
People who want to see more posts from their favorite brands can update their news feed preferences by choosing what they want to see.
Live video may be a good way to keep the community engaged (according to Facebook, they garner 6x the engagement as regular video). In this case, timing the live video with when your audience is online can be key.
Based on your feedback, we’re also making changes to ensure that newer posts are more likely to appear first in feed. With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about. So if your best friend shares a selfie from her vacation in Australia, it will be waiting for you when you wake up.
It still works to surface the most relevant content for users based on engagement, but timing is now an influential ranking signal.
According to Instagram, the Instagram Feed ranks posts based on:
Likelihood you’ll be interested in the content.
Date the post was shared.
Previous interactions with the person posting.
Other things to consider with the Instagram algorithm include the idea that it may reward posts based on your profile’s interaction with followers, including how quickly you interact, and using the right hashtags.
The LinkedIn Feed ranks updates based on thousands of signals across three main categories:
Identity: Who are you? Where do you work? What are your skills? Who are you connected with?
Content: How many times was the update viewed? How many times was it “liked”? What is the update about? How old is it? What language is it written in? What companies, people, or topics are mentioned in the update?
Behavior: What have you liked and shared in the past? Who do you interact with most frequently? Where do you spend the most time in your news feed?
Users can manually switch to most recent updates in the feed within the platform.
The Twitter timeline is called “timeline” for a reason: its tweets are ranked in reverse chronological order, with the most recent tweets showing at the top.
In 2016, Twitter made a slight change to its functionality where users could choose to turn on a feature that allows Twitter to serve the most relevant tweets for users, in reverse chronological order:
Here’s how it works. You flip on the feature in your settings; then when you open Twitter after being away for a while, the Tweets you’re most likely to care about will appear at the top of your timeline – still recent and in reverse chronological order. The rest of the Tweets will be displayed right underneath, also in reverse chronological order, as always. At any point, just pull-to-refresh to see all new Tweets at the top in the live, up-to-the-second experience you already know and love.
However, back in 2016, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed in a tweet that a “live” and “real time” feed would always be a staple of Twitter.
I *love* real-time. We love the live stream. It’s us. And we’re going to continue to refine it to make Twitter feel more, not less, live!
So as far as Twitter goes, timing definitely matters.
What About Time Zones?
Time zones make data on the best time to post to social media particularly tricky, especially when you have audiences in different time zones and particularly when you’re following universal best-time-to-post recommendations.
CoSchedule states that “in theory” the Eastern or Central time zone “would be the best time to base off for a United States audience to reach the most people through your social media shares.”
However, the best course of action is to use analytics tools to discover where your audience resides on the various social media platforms.
Using social media analytics tools, like those native to the social medium (for example, Facebook Page Insights) and other free and premium tools can help you with the best time to post.
If your audience lives in multiple time zones, you can scatter your updates throughout the day to try to reach them right when they are online, and hope that the social medium’s algorithm finds your content to be relevant to them when they log in at a later time.
Some sites offer specific solutions for this issue, like Facebook’s Restricted Audience posting feature, which allows you to post updates to a specific audience, by age and location.
Using this feature, or similar ones through social media sites and tools, you can schedule perfectly timed posts in advance for your entire audience.
Universal Best Times to Post
Every year, studies come out on the universal best time to post to social media. Each one of them looks at their own data set, and they all typically differ.
This tool should be a top choice for you to consider because it has native integration functionality with your Google Analytics profile.
This gives you an edge because you already have information on record about how visitors behave on your website. Using this data will make it easier for you to prioritize what needs to be tested first.
Another benefit of Google Optimize is it’s free.
The visual editor is simple for anyone to figure out, regardless of their technical experience.
In addition to Google Analytics, this tool can also be integrated with Google AdWords and Firebase.
All too often I see businesses ignoring mobile users. You were one of the smart ones that catered to their needs and developed a mobile app.
But the development process isn’t over when your app launches. It’s imperative that you always strive to make improvements on your platform.
Mobile app conversions are just as important as those from your desktop and mobile sites. With Apptimize, you can run tests on all three of these.
The software also supports different code blocks:
You can run tests on your app regardless of the code used for development.
4. AB Tasty
AB Tasty is a great option for businesses just starting to run A/B tests and focusing on conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Since it’s designed for beginners, the pricing options are really affordable.
AB Tasty offers different options for testing. You can test two or more variations of a single element on your site, such as CTA placement, images, or colors.
You can also do split testing.
This feature lets you build two separate landing pages to see which one converts more.
Its multivariate option allows users to run combinations of tests simultaneously.
You can also take advantage of the funnel testing feature. This lets you test changes of the user experience as visitors navigate through each step of the conversion funnel on your site.
If you have a small or medium sized business, Convert has great A/B testing solutions for you.
It’s meant for people focusing on optimizing their websites in-house.
It’s ideal for these types of business owners because it’s easy to use. Part of what makes the navigation so simple is the drag and drop features.
You can use Convert’s software for A/B tests, multivariate tests, and split tests as well.
They make it easy for you to integrate and onboard your content management system and Google analytics data.
This allows you to focus on personalization. You can build customer profiles by using this software.
Another reason why Convert is so popular is because it has an outstanding customer support team to help you answer any questions if you’re having trouble with the software. It’s easy to reach a representative through the platform’s live chat option.
You can run tests based on how different visitors experience your site.
Kameleoon uses artificial intelligence to power its personalization tools.
The AI makes it an advanced platform. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are just starting A/B testing on your website.
It’s better for those looking to test deeper elements of their sites.
The reports generate user insights with the navigation analysis tool.
Kameleoon lets you test multiple user segments with more than 40 different benchmarks for targeting, such as:
engagement with visitors
reactivating old customers
These are all examples of experiments you can run with Kameleoon’s advanced software.
All of the data is updated in real time. There’s no need for you to wait for a report to get generated to see your results.
Conductrics is another great tool designed for business owners who want to focus on their mobile sites.
In addition to your mobile site, you can also test features on your mobile app.
Conductrics lets you focus on things, such as:
You can use this platform in different ways. It offers Conductrics Express, designed for the everyday user, without a technology background.
No coding is required to use Conductrics Express. You can change elements of your site with a visual tool directly on your pages.
But it also offers a more advanced option made for developers. This makes it easy for developers to integrate tests with apps, websites, and processes.
The developer option uses AI machine learning to set parameters and conduct an in-depth analysis.
SiteSpect is another tool designed for people who are more technologically advanced. If you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t start with this software.
This platform gives you the option to edit the HTML before it departs from the server.
The ability to do this makes SiteSpect a popular choice for brands that self-host their websites. It’s also great for businesses that prioritize security.
SiteSpect has a visual editing tool. This is a common option for A/B testing as you’ve seen so far.
However, the biggest difference between this tool and others is the ability for you to access your website from both the client and server sides, which ultimately gives you a better understanding of the user experience.
10. Oracle Maxymiser
Oracle Maxymiser has a visual editor—similarly to other options I’ve talked about.
Use this software to set up variations and run basic tests.
In addition to the simple functions of this software, it also has coding features for more advanced testing.
These functions are ideal for targeting and personalization tests. You can target your most profitable customer segments, and the Oracle Maxymiser tool will automatically build a customer profile.
The profiles are based on data and behavior from each unique visitor who navigates to your website.
In addition to standard A/B testing, SiteGainer gives you other options to help you with conversion rate optimization.
Some of its other tools include:
These can help you improve your website, especially when you use A/B tests to maximize its efficiency.
It’s easy for anyone to use SiteGainer, regardless of their experience level.
Another benefit of this software is that it offers a free trial, so you can try it before committing.
Instead of flat rates, it offers prices based on things such as your monthly traffic and how often you want to pay, so you’ll have options for your budget. Basically, you only pay for what you use.
It’s different because it uses conversion optimization paired with algorithms for machine learning.
I know this sounds a bit complex, but let me explain how it works.
Basically, these algorithms are written to find the most optimal combination of design elements on your website. The tool allows you to test multiple variants at the same time to see which performs the best.
As a result, you’ll learn the best way to design your pages for conversions.
In addition to A/B testing, Monetate offers multivariate tests, segmenting tools, and personalization tools.
The software adjusts how your site traffic is allocated to maximize the return on your investment.
One of my favorite features of this tool is that it helps you determine what needs to be tested on your website based on your goals. The results help limit false positives so you can know for sure the reasoning for your changes was accurate.
A/B testing is a great way to maximize conversions on your website. I highly recommend every website to take advantage of this strategy.
That said, you need to make sure you find a tool that’s best for your business and your individual circumstances.
Are you looking only to run A/B tests? There are certain platforms for you.
If features like split tests, multivariate tests, funnel tests, and simultaneous testing are important to you, you must find software that has these options.
If you want to test your mobile site and mobile app as well, look for those specific tools I highlighted above.
Certain tools are for beginners, while others are designed for developers and users with a technical background and coding experience.
No matter what your circumstances are, if you use this guide as a reference, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a tool for A/B testing that works for you.
What types of A/B tests are you running on your website to increase conversions?