Wednesday, 13 December 2017

B2B Content Marketing vs. B2C Content Marketing — Content for Human Beings

Content marketing, the creation of useful, valuable content to attract viewers to your website (naturally) with little-to-no promotion, is different in every industry — however, speaking broadly, we can define clear differences between B2B content marketing and B2C content marketing.Three emojis, a graph, and some content on a clipboard — B2B content marketing requires the realization that, just like these emojis, B2B customers have emotions too :P

Now while you may be tempted to believe that B2C content marketing is where the fun writing, design, and creation work is happening and B2B content marketing is generally stiff, stilted, dry, and boring, I urge you to think differently — I think half the reason B2B marketing comes across as boring is precisely because of that attitude.

You want to know what the main similarity is between the two?

In both cases, B2C and B2B, you’re marketing to human beings.

Businesses Aren’t Machines — They’re Run by People

I think the main way that people go astray when creating content for other businesses is by writing as though they’re writing for a pile of bricks instead of for actual people.

In both cases, B2C and B2B, you’re marketing to human beings.

It’s like they drop into English 101 mode, trying to create the driest, most boring, most lifeless piece of content imaginable, as though the style and type of content that impressed Mrs. Borders is going to, in any way, grab the attention of the average business person.

(For the record, I suspect it didn’t even impress Mrs. Borders…)A silhouette, a building, a question mark under a magnifying glass.

Businesses are run by human beings just like you and me — shocking, I know. The secret to awesome B2B content marketing is rooted in this knowledge, the idea that your content can be just as lively, interesting, and exciting as B2C content as long as it contains two things:

  • The information and detail necessary to make business decisions

  • The level of professionalism and respect that is considered normal within your industry

Stellar B2B Content Marketing Starts With Audience

I’m going to backtrack a bit on what I just said, but hear me out:

Your content depends entirely on your audience.

With that being said, it’s entirely possible that the businesses you’re targeting with this content are run by an entire staff of Mrs. Borders clones who want nothing more than the most boring information presented in the driest possible format.

I shudder to imagine such a situation, but I allow that it may exist.

Your content depends entirely on your audience.

However, in most modern businesses, you’re dealing with regular, non-English-teacher type folks.

Here’s the main difference between B2B human beings and B2C human beings (and note that they’re both human beings…):

  • B2C customers are happy to be pandered to, to be entertained, and are usually fine with having some details glossed over if you can do it in a fancy, engaging way

  • B2B customers are primarily interested in the content you have for them, so it needs to be stellar (no glossing allowed), but they are more than happy to have it dressed up fancy if the base is solid

That is to say, B2C and B2B customers both appreciate unique, entertaining, fancy, stylish pieces of content as long as the content is addressing their unique needs and goals.A megaphone and printed pages of a website — B2B content marketing is all about getting your message out to an audience by whatever means necessary

That’s really about it. If you want to create excellent B2B content, you need to do just about the same thing you do with B2C content — create something that’s useful to your audience, that they find valuable, and make it look nice.

The only real difference is that the content itself usually needs to be much more detailed and much more accurate than the B2C content, often with a shade or two less pizazz.

I’ll give you an example.

B2B Content Marketing vs B2C Content Marketing — What It Looks Like

I’ll start with B2C.

Your B2C Audience Wants Content That’s Quick and Entertaining

For my first example, let’s say that I’m selling a car. Nothing fancy — just your average SUV that fits a family of four.

What does my audience care about? Certainly they care about price, gas mileage, engine size, and the bells and whistles inside. They might want to know how long it takes to get from zero to sixty, but this is an SUV, so they’re probably more worried about four-wheel drive and performance in trying conditions.

Safety is obviously going to be a key issue, but more to the point, they’re going to want to know how this vehicle stacks up to the competition.

If I’m a content marketer trying to reach these folks, I’m going to go with video as my medium (they need to see this car). I’m thinking we make an entertaining video with a charming host (who is incredibly relatable) testing this SUV and 1 or 2 competitors — the host can even bring their kids along to test the features in the back seats (which are mostly just for the kiddos).

This content is simple, simple to produce, straightforward, and exactly what my audience wants

My host is flashy, knowledgeable, fun, funny, relatable, and is about the right age and temperament to match my audience. The video is no more than 5 minutes and covers the basic information my very human B2C customer needs to make the right decision.

This content is simple, simple to produce, straightforward, and exactly what my audience wants — something quick that helps them make a decision while being entertained.

After all, our customers have a very short attention span these days — even a 5-minute video is pushing it, so they certainly don’t want something that’s an hour long and breaks down every single detail of these vehicles…

But let’s look at the B2B customer.

Your B2B Audience Needs More Details of Different Types, but They Still Like to Be Entertained

My B2B customer is looking at the exact same product, our SUV, except for one minor detail — they’re thinking of buying 100 of them.industrial website design shaking hands and thumbs up

This customer differs remarkably little when compared to my B2C customer — in fact, they could even be the same person. The difference is this — in the scenario above, my customer is buying a single SUV for themselves and has to think only about how this will affect their family and the uses to which they intend to put the vehicle…

But when they’re at work and considering the purchase of a fleet of SUVs for their employer, they need to think much more carefully about the purchase — and the information they’re going to consider is going to be slightly different.

They not only need more information, but they also need very detailed information as even a tiny difference in something like gas mileage or lifetime maintenance costs could have a huge effect on their employer’s expenses.

Still, for the purposes of this example, let’s say it’s the same person, which means they certainly don’t mind being entertained — they just want to make sure that the information they’re getting is really solid.

For this customer’s unique goals and needs, I make another comparison video — heck, I even use the same host — but I make it slightly more professional, and I significantly enhance the informational value of the content.

Instead of 5 minutes, I’m going with 15 (the customer’s attention span is still short). Each vehicle gets 5 minutes of detailed breakdowns. I nix the kids in the backseat and have the host dial down the humor a bit, but the core personality that led me to choose this host in the first place remains.

The video is still fun, it’s still entertaining, but the focus is heavy on the content, showing our customer that we understand the content deeply and can convey that in a useful manner.

The customer walks away with deep knowledge about 3 vehicles — even if they don’t purchase from us today, they certainly won’t forget who helped them learn the information they needed to make a purchasing decision their boss was happy with.

The Secret to Quality B2B Content Marketing — Focus on Content, but Don’t Forget Personality

At the end of the day, you’re marketing to human beings — if you can remember that, you’ll always create quality content. In our examples above, the same customer who was researching SUVs for their family went to work the next day and looked at SUVs for their employer. Their personality — who they are and what they believes — that didn’t change.

At the end of the day, you’re marketing to human beings

The only thing that changed was their motivation and their goals. They needed to do a deeper, more thorough evaluation for their employer, and the end-use of the product was different.

They were still happy to be entertained, still happy to listen to a knowledgeable host, but the exact same information needed to be framed differently because of the motivations that drove them to the content in the first place and their goals for the use of the product.

Get to Know Your Customers (So You Can Create Better Content)

Struggling to produce quality B2B Content? Marketing woes got you down?

Do you know who your buyers are? Most of those who struggle have no clue who they’re really selling to.

Get our free Buyer Persona Template and map out all the different customers you want to sell to — click the button to get it free.

Get the Free Template

Source: B2C

Drew Brees Teams With Audubon Institute On All-Inclusive Playground For Children With Disabilities

Drew Brees teamed up with Audubon Institute to open the Walnut Street Playground, which offers features for children of all abilities. Drew and his family attended the grand opening of the Walnut Street Playground at Audubon Park, which is the very first fully inclusive playground in the city. The place has everything from swings to slides to zip lines. In addition, the play area was designed to be fully accessible for wheelchairs.

Check out some photos and videos from the big day which opened for all children.

The Brees Dream Foundation was founded in 2003 and is a reliable source of charitable funding globally. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and provide care, education and opportunities for children and families in need. Since their inception 12 years ago, they have contributed over $25,000,000 to charitable causes globally. They would not be where they are today without the endless support from their many partnerships and from those who donate to their cause daily.

Audubon Nature Institute is a 501(c)3 not for profit that operates a family of ten museums and parks dedicated to nature. We serve our visitors, our community and our world as an educational resource, an environmental guardian, a leader in economic development and a venue for family entertainment.

Brees is on pace for the lowest touchdown total (23) and lowest yards per game (274.5) of his 12-year tenure with the Saints. On the flip side, he is on pace for his lowest interception total (seven) and the highest completion percentage in NFL history (71.7). His passer rating (104.3) and yards per attempt (8.1) are also among his personal best.

What did you think of Brees working with Audubon Institute to open the Walnut Street Playground? Have you seen similar projects in your area? Let us know in the comments section.

Photo Credit: Source

Source: B2C

Managing Risk or managing risks?

The keys to a successful second line of defence

There are many risk management methodologies in existence but it is not uncommon to come across large firms still following today simplistic, dysfunctional or flawed practices, in particular around operational risk management.

The main issue with many of those approaches is that they are plagued by a fundamental theoretical issue, which goes far beyond semantics: There is an abyss between managing “Risk” (broadly defined as “the impact of uncertainty on objectives”) and managing “risks” (events or scenarios that might have an undesirable outcome).

But many practitioners, when faced with the challenges of establishing a second line of defence type-of-function, still follow the path of least resistance and start with the arbitrary definition upfront of a series of “risks”, that are generally collected through workshops with senior executives in the business. In practice, that’s where many aspects start to go wrong, driven by a short-termist business agenda or a complacent “tick-in-the-box” management culture around compliance.

The dynamics of those workshops often revolve around “what keeps you awake at night” type of discussions, which force the participants to imagine situations where something could go seriously wrong and hit the firm. Participants generally engage with the process based on their own experience and ability to project themselves. Almost always, they draw on past experiences, things they have seen at other companies (in other jobs) or things they have heard of. Rarely are those stories based on hard facts directly pertinent to the firm and its problems. It often results in organic and very rich exchanges but also leads to an avalanche of scenarios, unstructured and often overlapping. The lack of rigour in the approach also results in most cases in a considerable language mix-up, with the description of the so-called “risks” combining shamelessly threats, controls and other elements – internal or external.

Then follows a second phase during which participants are asked to estimate how likely are those scenarios to affect the firm and what could be the resulting financial loss.

The first part (“how likely are those scenarios to affect the firm”) is plagued by a fundamental confusion between frequency and probability (in many cases, this is entirely by design i.e. participants being asked “could this happen weekly, monthly, annually?”). Again, participants tend to engage with the question by drawing on past experiences (the “bias of imaginability” theorised by Kahneman) or things they have seen elsewhere, irrespective of the actual context of the firm itself. At best, it results in “educated guesses”; at worst, we end up in pure “finger-in-the-air” territory.

The assessment of the potential financial losses is often more reliable, as this is an area where most of the senior executives involved would have more experience, and as long as the monetary brackets are wide enough, they are likely to put the various scenarios in the right buckets.

At the back of that, a risk “heat map” is drawn, a number of action plans are defined and a budgetary figure is put on each (in terms of the investment required to have an impact of the risk map). This is the point where risk is either “accepted”, “mitigated” or in theory “transferred”.

In practice, the impact of the proposed scenarios on the risk map is often estimated and rarely quantifiable, and the whole process is simply used to drive or justify a positive or negative investment decision, or to present an illusion of science to auditors or regulators.

The agreed actions are then given to a project manager or to a programme office to supervise, often with some form of progress reporting put in place back to a risk committee, with all sorts of convoluted KPIs and KRIs wrapped around it.

This whole approach is certainly better than doing nothing, but it is flawed at a number of levels. Essentially, it is vulnerable to political window-dressing from start to end, and the various estimations made by senior executives along the chain (willingly or unwillingly) can be used to adjust to any internal political agenda (e.g. presenting a particular picture to regulators, limiting expenditure, not having to confront boards or business units with an inconvenient truth).

Fundamentally, the “risks” being (allegedly) “managed” may have nothing to do with the actual reality of the firm, and even the “management” aspects may be disputable, in particular if the governance around the actual delivery of the agreed action plan is weak or inefficient (or, at the other end of the scale, bureaucratic and overly complex). This is more about “doing stuff” (at best) than “managing Risk” because of the colossal amount of assumptions made along the way.

There are 3 aspects that need to be addressed for those methods to work better and deliver proper results in terms of real “Risk Management”:

1- Talking to senior executives and running workshops with them is a good start, but they should be focused on “threats” – and not “risks” – and on the “assets” the “threats” may target. Focusing on threats and assets brings advantages at 2 levels: First it roots the language of the discussion in the reality of what is at stake, instead of hypothetical scenarios. Second, by following simple threat modelling practices, it offers a structure to guide the discussion with some rigour:

  • Who are the people or organisations who could cause you harm? (the threat agents)

  • What are their motivations? Their level of sophistication? The attack vectors they use? The attack surfaces they look for?

  • What could they do to you?

By combining and ranking those factors, you arrive to a number of key scenarios that are rooted in the reality of the firm and its context, and in the process, you have forced the executives involved to face the reality of the firm, the world it operates in, and its real viciousness.

But for the result to be truly representative and meaningful, it is also essential to ensure that all stakeholders are involved across all geographies and corporate silos (business units, IT, Legal, HR, procurement, etc…), and to include key external business partners where business processes or IT facilities have been outsourced.

2- Asking executive management to place the resulting scenarios is broad financial loss buckets is a good step that is likely to work well as we indicated before, and could be kept, but the assessment of any form of probability of occurrence or potential impact should be dissociated from the discussion with executives at this stage and, again, firmly rooted in the reality of the firm through an independent assessment of the actual presence or absence of the necessary protective measures.

This is essential in focusing management on the fact that “managing Risk” is about protecting the firm from undesirable outcomes, and that it is achieved through the actual implementation of tangible measures that are known to protect, and can be:

  • determined upfront based on the identified threat scenarios,

  • mandated by policy or adherence to good practice,

  • enforced through good governance, internally and with third-parties.

Risk is a by-product of the presence or absence of such measures, and the actual Risk “heat map” for the firm can be drawn in a quantified manner from those independent assessments, instead of being estimated.

3- Once the Risk “heat map” is firmly linked to the presence or absence of actual protective measures, it is possible to define risk treatment scenarios also linked to those measures and map in a quantified manner the impact they would have on the Risk “heat map”.

managing risk

It is then possible to compare those Risk treatment scenarios and determine the most attractive for the firm. It also becomes possible to track and visualise progress in a quantifiable manner.

It is easy to argue that the governance issues around the actual delivery of agreed Risk treatment actions still remain (in particular for larger firms), and that the two approaches are fundamentally the same (one qualitative, and the other quantitative), but the quantitative approach is truer to its purpose (“managing Risk”), considerably richer in terms of managerial levers, and far less vulnerable to manipulation and window-dressing.

Source: B2C

How to Write Engaging Tweets For Your Brand

Being one of the most popular social media platforms out there, Twitter can be used to create brand awareness, gain more leads, perform competitive analysis, and so much more.

With the latest update regarding the 280-character limit on tweets, it has become easier than ever for marketers to come up with more engaging content. While having an appealing cover image or an optimized description will certainly help you gain brownie points on Twitter, you won’t be able to perform an outstanding Twitter marketing without working on your content.

To help you write engaging tweets, I have come up with this comprehensive post. Simply focus on these expert suggestions and draft winning tweets for your brand.

#1.Make your tweets more visually appealing

Almost every market knows that the retention rate of visual content is more than plain text. This is one of the main reasons why video and GIF-based content has grown over 220 times on Twitter. Therefore, to start with, you should unravel the art of video marketing on Twitter.

By including photos, small clips, or GIFs in your tweets, you would certainly be able to convey more and get your audience’s attention instantly. Here are some proven statistics to provide how important visual content has become.

  • On an average, pictures get a 35% boost for retweets

  • The inclusion of videos provide a boost of 28% for retweets

  • Around 98% of users would like to learn about a new product through visual content

  • Visual content gets a better engagement on Twitter (around 2.5 times replies as compared to plain text)

While using any visual aid, try to make it more product-centric. If you can showcase a product in a compelling manner, then it will certainly leave a lasting impression on your audience. Here, you can see how Starbucks played with their iced-coffee and cold-brew drinks.

According to Madalyn Sklar It’s important to tag the people and/or brands you’re talking about. Make your tweets compelling. Paint a picture along with 280 characters. Use videos in your tweets. It grabs attention.

#2. Include “Power words” in your tweets

Every experienced copywriter knows how a few “power” words can make headlines, copies, tweets, etc. more personal and effective. By including the right kind of words, you can convey a message in a better way and make your tweets resonating.

  • Before you draft a tweet, take a step back and analyze its purpose.

  • If you want to include a CTA then you can come up with a few options and pick the best one.

  • If you are including a visual aid, make sure your text is going well with it.

  • Power words should not be extremely difficult. Your audience should be able to understand them without looking up their meaning.

  • Don’t be repetitive.

Most importantly, don’t make your tweets too wordy. Even though Twitter has increased the character limit to 280, you should not get carried away. If you are able to convey something in limited characters, then try not to drag your message.

Here is an example of how Buffer conveyed the same message in two different tweets. The one that was clear and precise got almost twice the traction than a wordy tweet.

According to Keith Keller Creating “hooky titles” really is the essence of my Twitter Strategy. Just like the chorus of a really great song – something short and sweet that “hooks” you into the song.

Get to know about some of the useful power words here.

#3. Tag your audience and the related brand in your tweets

If your tweet is related to a certain follower, influencer, brand, or any other user, then you should always mention their Twitter handle. This will notify the mentioned user instantly about your tweet. If you have mentioned them in a constructive manner, then they would certainly give it a retweet (or reply) which will boost the overall reach of your tweet.

Additionally, it will help you maintain a fruitful relationship with the mentioned influencer or brand as well. In this way, you can expand your social circle on Twitter while giving your tweets more visibility.

According to Lisa To craft a better tweet, you should personalize it. Write why you read something and want to share it prior to the tweet and link. Be sure to have their handle in the “via” part of the tweet as well.

I just left a comment on a blog post that I loved and here is the tweet I shared

We all can follow this expert suggestion by Lisa. The next time you read something you want to share on Twitter, feel free to mention the author’s or the brand’s handle. Even if you are managing a brand’s account, you can tag influencers and collaborators in your tweets like this.

#4. Simplicity is the key to drafting great content

If you will include complicated and difficult words in your tweets, then it will certainly have a direct impact on its reach. Before drafting a tweet, take a step back and think from the perspective of your audience. You can even take the assistance of Twitter Analytics to get an in-depth knowledge about your followers.

Afterward, you should develop the kind of content that your audience can relate to. Especially, if you are running a promotional campaign, then your content should be as simple and effective as possible.

Writing tweets is a science that can easily be mastered in no time. Even if you are showcasing a product, you don’t have to write an entire description. Just an engaging phrase like this would be enough.

Similarly, a regular tweet can be simple and engaging as well, like this:

#5. Start a conversation with your tweets

Too many times, we forget that a platform like Twitter or Instagram can be used to be more “social” without much trouble. You should make an effort and get to know your audience by posting more engaging content. Ask your followers a question or simply initiate a conversation.

In this way, you would be able to involve your community too. At the same time, the engagement rate for the respective tweet would also increase. I use these three techniques to start a conversation with my audience.

A. Asking a generic question or feedback: This is one of the best ways to start a conversation with your followers. Simply ask them a question about a product, welcome their feedback, and let them make a decision for you. In this way, your followers will feel valued and heard as well.

B. Hosting a poll: If you have too many options and would like to follow a statistical approach, then hosting a poll would be the best idea. Since Twitter has an inbuilt feature for this, you don’t have to use any third-party tool.

C. Twitter chat: By hosting or participating in a Twitter chat, you can easily expand your circle and get in touch with industry-specific influencers and experts. This will also help you stay updated and be aware of the trending topics.

#6. Include relevant hashtags in your tweets

If you want to run a dedicated campaign on Twitter, then you should take the assistance of hashtags. Firstly, make yourself familiar with the do’s and don’ts of hashtag marketing. Ideally, you can consider these suggestions while running a hashtag campaign:

  • The first step is to come up with a hashtag to drive your campaign. People should be able to understand it easily. Try not to combine more than 3-4 words together.

  • There are also dedicated tools like RiteTag and Hashtagify that you can use to discover new hashtags and know more about the trending hashtags. Also, you can use a Twitter tracking tool to measure the reach of your hashtags.

  • Don’t include a hashtag that is already used by a competitor. Be original and don’t come up with a hashtag that is insensitive or rude.

  • Don’t include too many hashtags in a tweet. Besides using the main hashtag, you can use a maximum of 2-3 other hashtags to make your tweets easy to discover. Making every word a hashtag is a big no!

don’t use more than two hashtags. Make a complete, crisp sentence if you want to express more. You can also make a tweet stream as well.

Hashtags can be used to run an entire campaign or contest as well. For instance, here is how Lay’s ran a global contest with #DoUsAFlavor, asking their audience to vote for their best flavor.

You can also use an already trending hashtag while posting your tweets. Here, you can see how Hubble used the popular #ThrowbackThursday and posted an informative tweet. With the 280-character limit for tweets, they were able to draft such an educational tweet for their audience.

#7. Run exclusive and limited offers on Twitter

If you wish to win over your followers, then treat them with exclusive offers. This will also help you gain more followers. By tapping this human behavior hack, you would be able to convert your social media followers into prospective customers and leads. Here is a simple example of the same.

#8. Share links in different ways

On an average, 500 million tweets are posted in a day. With so much of noise around, chances are that your tweets might go unnoticed. Therefore, if you wish to improve the conversion rate of your audience to leads via Twitter, then you should post your important links in different ways.

Firstly, make sure you are posting the content at the right time. Ideally, you should avoid posting important tweets after 8 pm. Also, you should keep the timezone of your audience in mind. Take the assistance of a post scheduler tool in order to automate the posting of tweets. This will certainly save your time and resources.

Don’t make the rookie mistake of posting identical content on the same day. This will only spam your audience and they might end up unfollowing you. Even if you want to share the same link, draft your tweet in different ways and analyze their results.

#9. Add gripping Call to Actions in your tweets

At the end of the day, Twitter is just like any other powerful platform that can help you generate more leads. By including different kinds of CTAs in your tweets, you can direct your audience to your website (or any other target). By using Twitter Tracking Tools you can even analyze the conversion rate of your Twitter audience to prospective leads as well.

After increasing the word count of tweets to 280 characters, you can experiment with your call to actions as well. Though, I would recommend that you should make them crisp and sweet. Ideally, there are different kinds of CTAs that you can try:

A. Free trial: Asking users to go to a website, create their account, and try a service for free.

B. Buy now: Simply share your content and let users know where they can buy a product. You can also use it to increase the download or subscription of your service/product.

C. Retweet: Include your CTA in a tweet and ask your audience to retweet it to be eligible for the giveaway.

D. Read more: Share a glimpse of your content and redirect your readers to your website, where they can read the whole story.

I’m sure that after following these suggestions, you would certainly be able to draft more compelling tweets leading to a better engagement. If you also have a suggestion that can help our readers to come up with effective tweets, feel free to share it with us in the comments below.

This article originally appeared on Socialert Blog.

Source: B2C

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

How to Attract Only the Best Job Candidates

Need workers but not looking forward to combing through resumes from applicants who clearly didn’t read the job description? In a best-case scenario, an employer will recruit a talent pool of the most qualified candidates with a high aptitude and passion for the work.

Traditionally, that involves reviewing endless data and choosing, at best, 10 percent of those who have applied. Then, there’s the rest of the process — phone interviews, aptitude tests and in-person interviews. How are you supposed to attract the cream of the crop when you have to go through that tedious process?

You start developing relationships with prospective candidates before you need to fill a spot on a tight deadline. You network and outline your specific needs from the start. Here are a few tips to secure the best candidates for your company.

  1. Take Advantage of Professional and Social Networks

An essential career development skill you had to learn from the jumpstart quickly is still invaluable to hiring the best workers. The only difference is that you’ve built a strong network of industry contacts through memberships with associations and trade groups, among others. You have a network to tap into to find the recruits that are the best fit for your company.

Not only that — you have access to your employee’s networks. Part of being in a professional network is helping your fellow professionals expand their access to job opportunities and resources through employee referral. Employees will be happy to help you source the right candidates. Encourage your employees to network and participate in conferences, trade shows and industry groups. In fact, pay for it because it will pay off for your company.

You’ll need to be ready with a contact plan to routinely and systematically reach out to preferred candidates with the job description and information online, through email, mail and fax. Encourage employees to forward an email to a prospective candidate in their network they think will fit into the company culture.

More companies and recruiters are utilizing social media as a hiring tool with 92 percent of job recruiters utilizing it in their process:

  • 85 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn.

  • 55 percent of recruiters use Facebook.

  • 47 percent of recruiters use Twitter.

For example, Facebook lists jobs like other job search engines, but many companies are posting directly on their page with tangible contact information to reach out to a live person on staff. Twitter allows you to take advantage of hashtags, and other social media platforms, such as Snapchat, offer unique snapshots into company culture as a recruiting tool. Social media is a viable recruiting tool, especially with a quarter of job seekers conducting their search on these platforms.

  1. Your Website is Prime Recruiting Real Estate

Job seekers are encouraged to research the companies thoroughly they apply to just as employers check up on candidates. Job seekers, especially new graduates, are likely perusing your website right now, and you’re missing out on an easy and effective recruiting solution.

Your website already has helpful information for job seekers, such as projects you’re currently working on and how your staff has been recognized in the organization and the community. What it may be lacking is an open door policy to encourage talent to reach out to the company. While job descriptions typically say “Don’t call us, we’ll call you (if you’re qualified),” pre-recruiting the best talent requires the adoption of reverse psychology to the traditional candidate search.

On your website, invite talent in by listing a prominent “Join Our Team” area that gives a bite-sized but in-depth overview of the company’s culture, values, mission and vision. Don’t sound like a used car salesmen who’s been plastered on every billboard. Be authentic when introducing your management team, and talk to your existing employees about what they love about the company and what drew them in. Share this information on your website.

Job seekers who have fallen in love with your company will be able to submit their resume to be placed on file and receive emails with relevant job matches as the company need arises. Who knows? You may even find the perfect freelancer you never knew you needed.

  1. Job Descriptions are Not a List

Fun anecdotes that showcase an employer’s ability to laugh does pull job seekers in, but writing engaging and targeted job descriptions is more involved than throwing in funny one-liners.

You have listed the basic requirements and preferred skills, but help the candidate see themselves in the role by writing these descriptions as “a day in the life of our new employee that could be you!” Describe the role’s daily duties in detail as well as realistic opportunities that will likely come their way. Describe the company culture and work environment. In this area, many companies usually place “operating heavy equipment” and “exposure to loud noise,” but balance boring descriptions with pizazz and honesty.

Strive for transparency and creativity. Keep titles and headlines clear and concise. Job descriptions that take form solely as a list have no soul and create boundaries between companies and candidates.

Avoid combing through endless applications and attract the best workers. Take advantage of professional and social networks. Use your website as prime recruiting real estate and showcase the company’s vision, values and personality, which should also be reflected in engaging and targeted job descriptions. Use job descriptions for more than a list — help employees see themselves in the role.

If they see it, they will come because you’ve built it. Your talent pool will constantly replenish itself as you attract the best candidates who you’re more likely to retain because they truly love what they do and where they’ll be working.

Source: B2C

The Top 18 Marketing Predictions for 2018, According To The Experts

darkmoon1968 / Pixabay

This is our favorite time of year here on the Bitly marketing team.

Of course we’re excited about the holidays and all of the cheer that comes with it. But this is also the time of year where we get to sit down and reflect on our learnings from the past twelve months and look forward at the trends to come.

In honor of this tradition, we’ve sat down with marketing pros in social, content, SEO, and more to talk about what they have their sights set on in 2018.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Businesses Will Leverage LinkedIn For More Targeted Marketing

“2018 will be the year that LinkedIn gets more marketing attention. In the B2B space, LinkedIn is really becoming the focal point for our clients, more so than ever before because advertising has changed. People aren’t connecting with ads, people want to connect with people so we are going to start to see more executives, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals position themselves as the brand or industry experts. ”

Ashley Johnson, Founder & CEO of Mouth Marketing

2. Video Will Remain King

“In a world with countless videos – it’s important to get users to stop and watch. This means optimizing all videos so that they are easily accessible, high quality, and most importantly: mobile-responsive. Not only does this make it easier for folks to watch it on the go, but it incentivizes the platforms to prioritize your content.”

Elizabeth Giorgi, Founder and CEO of Mighteor

3. Personalization at Scale, With Inclusivity In Mind

“First, marketers must take into account Gen Z consumers whose consumption choices are still under-researched. Marketing specialists need to learn their world view, values, and mentality since they are rather different from those of millennials.

Second, artificial intelligence will become more ubiquitous, so marketers must gain first-hand knowledge on machine learning and marketing automation. Tools that allow access to voice-based marketing automation will be indispensable for all marketing specialists.

Third, personalization will be more savvy. Tech-driven consumer personalization will become a cornerstone of marketing, and marketers need to take into account customers’ personality traits and make their marketing strategies all-gender inclusive. So, you should probably think about how to target your ads towards LGBTQ+ community.

Fourth, marketing will be less about social networks and more about social messaging apps. While social networking platforms are still important, it’s clear that social messaging apps are getting more popular and marketers will need to be ready to embrace marketing campaigns targeted at such apps.”

Jana Garanko, Head of PR at SEMrush

4. Interactive Technology Will Lead to More Targeted Marketing

“Marketing is on the cusp of a new world of hyper-targeting. Ads and promoted messages will follow customers across their devices and into their homes. Voice-controlled smart speakers and AR-enabled glasses — even simple Google searches — will offer marketers more ways than ever to get in front of their customers. Marketers will share their brand story, as well as customized messaging based on traditional data (location, demographics, past purchases) and newer data points, such as mood and proximity to others, that will drive a larger conversation about privacy and data collection.”

David Klein, Director of Marketing & Communications of ClickTime

5. A More Competitive Advertising Landscape

“The future of marketing & advertising will be hyper-relevant to the viewer and will come from multiple new sources.

Laws will be stronger on digital advertising in terms of privacy and legitimacy of the products and messages that they push. Advertisers will still be able to target via aggregated stats, however, their big data algorithms will be much more complex and effective for targeting niche groups in a timely manner. False advertising laws will be stronger and transparency of product quality via crowd-sourced and friend reviews will bring the best products to the top of the advertising heap.”

Kean Graham, CEO of MonetizeMore

6. Storytelling Will Be a Brand Differentiator

“Original content and storytelling will build brands like never before. The value of original, addictive content has become clear to brands who wish to benefit from more website traffic for less spend. Providing original content increases brand awareness while building the trust and influence that will be needed for a brand to stand out in 2018.

Storytelling will transcend mainstream brands, as everyday companies will search for new ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. Brands will do this by incorporating storytelling in with their original content to establish credibility and to generate a more loyal audience.”

Jessica Moreno, Social Media and Brand Account Manager of Active Web Grou

7. Brands Should Get Familiar With Voice

“With the rise of Amazon Echo and Google Home in consumers’ homes, voice search is becoming increasingly important. There are several things you can do to make sure that you are on top of the trend:

  1. With many voice queries coming from mobile, it is essential to make sure that you site is mobile-friendly and also ready for Google’s upcoming mobile-first indexing. This is where they will be primarily using the mobile version of the site’s content to rank pages instead of desktop.

  2. Use conversational style content. When using voice search, they will more likely be conversational and contain questions.

  3. Search questions will become increasingly question-based and it’s up to you to provide the high quality, engaging and useful content that will help to answer the searchers’ queries.

  4. Be aware of location-focused queries by making sure your site is set up for it, especially if you run a local business. The basic thing to do is to register with ‘Google My Business’, make sure all the details required are filled-in, up-to-date, and include unique content, encourage reviews, and feature at least five photos.”

Ahmed Khalifa, Founder & Director of IgniteRock

8. Keyword Arbitration: One of The Most Powerful SEO Techniques in 2018

“In terms of SEO in 2018, keyword arbitration is going to be the next big thing for websites with over ten pages.

Keyword arbitration is the act of crawling a site, composing a spreadsheet full of page titles, meta descriptions, H1s, H2s, and other important pieces of data- and then seeing how keywords are distributed and mapped towards different pages.

This is one of the most powerful SEO techniques, and very few professionals actually know about it. It not only enables better keyword targeting, but better search intent matching, content gap analyzing, and overall brand and marketing strategy analyzing.”

Edward Sturm, SEO consultant

9. Finding The Balance of Automation and Human-Touch

“In 2018, we’re going to see even more companies taking advantage of the opportunities offered by chatbots.

Chatbots can provide an instant sense of personal connection, no matter what time of day a prospect lands on your site. As it becomes clear that chatbots can be utilized to get your prospects more quickly in touch with you and help move them along the Buyer’s Journey, we’ll see more companies, including B2B, take advantage of this exceptional digital marketing tool.

We’ll also continue to see the rise of video, but this year we’ll see an added emphasis on live and “candid” videos that provide prospects with an authentic look at the people behind their favorite brands, providing that all-important personal touch.”

Doug Fowler, President of Waypost Marketing

10. Leveraging Micro-Influencers To Create deeper engagement

“2018 is going to be the year of micro-influencers! These influencers offer a more personal connection with their audience, often resulting in higher engagement than when using macro-influencers. By utilizing micro-influencers, brands are able to create more relatable and attainable content, allowing them to engage more distinct audiences that macro-influencers can’t always maintain.

As influencer marketing continues to grow and evolve, FTC regulations will continue to evolve with it. We believe there will be more software developments to better track ROI, including what percentage of the audience is made up of bots and a deeper understanding of their engagement.

HYPR is an increasingly popular tool for viewing and tracking real-time analytics of influencers, helping facilitate outreach to the best influencer for a campaign quickly and easily. We’ve seen great benefits using HYPR and predict this platform will only gain popularity in 2018 as influencer marketing becomes a vital part of any marketing strategy.”

Courtney Spritzer and Stephanie Abrams Cartin, Co-CEOs of Socialfly

11. Thinking of SEO in Content Themes

“Search engines are evolving, and so are their users. Simply tagging your content with isolated keywords won’t drive traffic to your website as it did in the past. To get visitors’ attention and optimize for rank, marketers will have to produce engaging clusters of content on themes relevant to their audiences.

This “content pillar” strategy isn’t new: just think about how Wikipedia entries associate related topics. That ecology of content helps to explain why Wikipedia articles nearly always appear near the top of search results. Marketing practices will need to adapt to these changes in search engine use by creating premium material, curating it to create natural conversion paths, and ungating it to increase visibility. Adopting this new approach might be difficult, but it will become increasingly challenging to thrive in the digital landscape relying on obsolete methods.”

Ryan Woods, HW Productions

12. Merging Online And Offline With AR and VR

“I’m getting really excited for two marketing trends that I think will begin to really take off next year: Augmented Reality and the continued advance of machine learning + AI.

AR and VR technologies will expand the possibilities for marketing and sales. Companies like IKEA, Sephora, and Jura are using AR to allow potential customers to visualize their respective products rather than window shop online. AR is finally bringing the in-person shopping experience to e-commerce. And, with a growing reliance on social media for marketing, AR-inspired filters can boost conversations around a company.

And on the AI front, the technology can easily be leveraged to help potential customers while freeing up employees. It also allows for seemingly boundless opportunities on the back end for marketers to understand clients. AI even gives marketers a leg up in testing more ad platforms and optimizing reach and targeting. AI can quickly aggregate and synthesize data. Partnering that technology with machine learning allows the AI to become more efficient on its own.”

Wes Marsh, Director of Digital Marketing, Solodev

13. Video Will Be Big in The World of SEO

“In 2018, look for more and more companies to accompany videos with their outreach campaigns. Videos now appear on over 70% of search results, and according to studies, 46% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product after watching a video.

One important aspect to keep in mind, however, is that text is still very important to add to your videos in order to see SEO success. Google’s robots prefer to digest text and adding a transcript to the bottom of the page where the video lives will result in more on-page copy that the robots can see. There are plenty of great audio-to-text tools out there that companies can leverage to add a transcript to older videos as well.

Seeing as videos can create backlink opportunities and most videos result in a solid ‘average time on page,’ different search engines benefit from companies using video as a marketing tactic. With social videos generating 1200% more shares than text and images combined, according to WordStream, look for video sharing to be a big SEO trend in 2018.”

Stuart Ridge, CMO of VitaMedica

14. Organic Reach Will Continue To Decline

“In 2018, marketers should expect to see several easy marketing wins disappear in the digital space. 2018 is likely to bring about the death of organic reach on Facebook, stronger email inbox filters, and more competition than ever in organic search engine result pages.

While it will still be possible to earn organic results, the brands that do will be those that approach marketing with a truly inbound strategy. Online marketing platforms will likely only allow for their users to see marketing content that is genuinely valuable and relevant. The standards for what passes as relevant will tighten, and 2018 could end up being a hard year in result of this. However, in the long run, a change like this could be highly beneficial for both consumers and brands.”

Eric Johnson, Content Creator & SEO Specialist, FeedbackWrench

15. Mobile-First Indexing: Prioritizing Mobile

“Google is already making a big shift into mobile-first indexing which will impact a large portion of sites that are not mobile responsive ready. As far as 2018 goes, tools have to become more sophisticated in understanding relevance.

Google is looking for sites that meet the needs of its customers and users. Does the site answering the user’s question? Is it fast enough on mobile? What options does the site offer have? How close is this business to the user? We need to focus more on our site, content, and technical SEO in 2018 more than ever before rather than focusing on trying to rank for specific keywords.

Jonathan Alons, Marketing Manager at uBreakiFix

16. Influencer Marketing Will Become More Regulated

“As the popularity of influencer marketing continues to grow rapidly, lawsuits against both influencers and the brands they represent will also increase in 2018. The first case against an individual influencer making accusations over the failure to adequately disclose paid sponsorship promotions was filed by the Federal Trade Commission earlier this year. Since then, the commission has initiated lawsuits against many other influencers and their partners over various compliance issues. As it stands, the vast majority of paid endorsements by individual influencers are not properly disclosed. Influencers will need to better familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations governing these endorsements if they are to curtail this growing trend of litigation.”

Peter Yang, Co-Founder of ResumeGo

17. Reach and Engagement > Follower Count

Reach & engagement rates and not follower counts will become the primary metric for determining influencer value.

At One Tribe Apparel, we built our Instagram following to 52,000 through mostly through influencer collaborations. We’ve done everything from providing free products, to sponsored posts to affiliate arrangements.

Mid-way through this year we began slowing down on influencer marketing and shifting that budget to other areas because we were no longer seeing the same ROI.

After Instagram changed its algorithm from timing-based (you see the most recent posts first) to one based on prior engagement (you see the accounts you most frequently interact with) the reach for many influencers and brands has dropped significantly. Even with this drop, most influencers are still basing their rates on follower counts and not reach and engagement. But a 100,000 follower count is relatively meaningless if you can only reach 15,000 to 20,000 of those followers in each post.

With the rise of Instagram tools and analytics programs, I predict we’ll see this shift in 2018. Brands will value reach and engagement more than follower base.

Ryan O’Connor, Owner, One Tribe Apparel

18. Minimal Copy And Shareable Visual Content Will Dominate

“Visual communication will dominate marketing campaigns in 2018, and we’ll see more focus than ever on new media, from mini-infographics and motion graphics to augmented reality. Marketers will finally leave behind text-based communications for good in favor of minimal text and high-quality, shareable visual content.

Meanwhile, with video dominating web traffic, we’ll see more motion graphics than ever, while static visual content will center around bite-sized assets optimized for platforms like Snapchat and Twitter. 2018 won’t yet be the year for widespread VR adoption among marketers, but more marketers will be incorporating AR functionality into their assets and campaigns.”

Eric Tra, Marketing Director at Killer Infographics

What are some of your big marketing predictions for 2018?

Source: B2C

Why Growth is the Key to Employee Engagement

geralt / Pixabay

Study after study confirms that, when it comes to employee engagement, one of the critical factors is development. Employees need to feel like they have opportunities to grow, to broaden their horizons, to deepen their skillsets.

To keep your employees engaged, offering these growth opportunities is absolutely essential—and here’s why.

When there’s no room for growth, employees feel stagnant.

There is a real historic record for this. In 2010, surveys found that employee perception of company-sponsored growth opportunities was at an all-time low, across the board. And that makes sense, given the high unemployment rate and the fact that many company training programs were being done away with. Opportunities for promotion, meanwhile, were dwindling.

As a result, employee engagement numbers also plummeted. Employees across the country felt like they didn’t really have any way to move onward and upward—and their passion for work dropped because of it.

Growth opportunities help everyone.

By contrast, recent years have seen more and more companies offering their employees chances to grow—educational opportunities as well as wider on-the-job experience. It’s not surprising that this motivates employees, especially younger ones, who value career development more than any other workplace benefits—including salary!

But growth opportunities aren’t only good for the employees. They’re also key for the company. They enhance the employer brand, by revealing that you really care about supporting your people in the long-term. When it comes to recruiting top talents, this is exceedingly beneficial.

You can make an investment in your team members.

Ultimately, growth opportunities—whether training or promotions, or simply more delegated responsibilities—show that you believe in the employee, and have confidence in their ability to thrive. Make your employees see that they are your most important assets.

Growth is a powerful way to accomplish all of that—and I’d love to show you how. Contact me today to learn more about my team training programs, and how they might boost your employee engagement!

Source: B2C

3 B2B Sales and Marketing Strategies that Proved their Power in 2017

geralt / Pixabay

One theme dominates the shifts in the B2B sales and marketing world — technology. That’s because technology enables us to target prospects and customers more efficiently, personalize our outreach, build relationships from remote locations and integrate our sales and marketing process. As such, it empowers B2B leaders to be more successful than ever before in engaging and selling customers.

While the three transformations I cover below are not new, as they continued to prove their worth in 2017, they all became more widely entrenched. Read on to find out whether your organization is keeping up with the latest winning strategies or has opportunities to increase sales and marketing successes.

  • ABM: Increasing Account Value by 171 Percent

    The term “account-based marketing” (ABM) was coined by ITSMA in 2004 and has been practiced for many years in one form or another.

    Instead of relying on generating a large number of leads and then sorting through them to qualify those you want to pursue, ABM flips the process around. First, you decide on the accounts you want to land and/or expand. Then design your marketing and sales processes to do just that. While salespeople have worked to build accounts for years, marketing is now joining forces with them to make the practice more powerful.

    Because of the results it’s producing, ABM gained further traction in 2017, and it appears like it will be a go-to strategy for years to come. The top three metrics companies use to measure ABM are revenues, customer satisfaction and customer retention. Interestingly, both customer satisfaction and retention metrics focus on long-term business success. So it’s no longer about a lead today and perhaps a sale tomorrow. It’s about building relationships that enable a business to thrive in the years to come. Taking this approach, companies have increased their annual sales contract value by an average of 171 percent.

    It’s numbers like these that are taking ABM mainstream. However, given that it’s been around awhile, why is it taking off now? It comes back to the great enabler of technology. To execute ABM effectively and efficiently, you need copious amounts of data at both the account and individual level. Fortunately, marketing automation, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions and Big Data now give us the information we need to reach out personally via the telephone, social media, email and other channels. Also, companies can use a treasure trove of tools to customize online outreach to individuals. These include IP targeting, predictive analytics and website personalization.

    Given that we now have the tools to implement successful ABM strategies, it’s time to get serious about them.

  • Inside Sales Gains Ground

    When we used to think of the salesperson, the road warrior came to mind, traveling from one prospect or customer to the next, sitting across the desk from them and making eye contact. While this scenario still happens, it’s less frequent.

    Census data estimates there are 5.7 million salespeople in the U.S. Around forty-seven percent of them are inside sales reps, and the remainder are in field sales. The lay of the land is expected to continue to shift until there is a 50/50 split between inside and field salespeople. Despite their designation, field reps spend about 45 percent of their time selling remotely. Thus, a large majority of sales interactions are now happening off the customers’ premises.

    Once again, this shift in the sales landscape is due to technology. Inside sales can be far more successful with advanced tools at their fingertips — marketing automation, CRM and social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Equally important are web conferencing platforms which enable inside salespeople to walk through sales presentations with prospects who may be many miles away.

  • Marketing Automation and CRM Join Forces

    It’s common to hear about the misalignment between sales and marketing. Sometimes the root of the problem is not a miscommunication between people but a systems breakdown between marketing automation and CRM.

    Given today’s customers expect seamless communication via all the channels they use — email, phone, social, website and in person — the issue of incomplete information sharing between marketing and sales is especially troublesome. Thus, sales and marketing leaders realize the importance of integrating marketing automation and CRM. Doing so enables them to:

    • Build and manage campaigns more easily

    • Contact leads, prospects and customers more rapidly

    • Nurture leads efficiently and personalize communications

    • Track, measure and optimize the sales process from start to finish

    Because of these benefits, more and more business leaders are integrating their sales and marketing solutions.

So if you have not started your ABM pilot-test, consider doing so. If you’re already on the ABM path, persist. Continue to take advantage of the economies and efficiencies of inside sales and enabling your field salespeople to work remotely when appropriate. Finally, make sure your marketing and sales systems talk with each other, helping to bridge departmental divides.

Source: B2C

8 Things You Can Learn From The Best Instagram Accounts

There are so many successful accounts on Instagram – but what can we attribute to their success? Over the past 7 years I’ve worked with many different businesses (including my own personal brand) to grow Instagram followings and increase engagement. This week we’ll take a look at what you can learn from the best Instagram accounts.

1. Post Consistently

You might be tired of hearing this but one of the most basic things you can learn from the best Instagram accounts is to post consistently. Remember that you’re competing to get the attention of your audience and with so many profiles out there you can’t count on posting once a month and retaining your followers and engagement. Hitting the post frequency sweet spot will vary from business to business but posting at least 3 times a week is a must to stay in your followers’ minds (and feeds).

2. Use High Quality Images

Instagram is a visual network, so your image quality plays a role in your account success and the best Instagram accounts post high quality images and videos. Try to post high quality images, or use apps like VSCO or Instagram’s built in filters to made your images and videos look nicer. If all else fails stock photos are a great way to get access to high quality images for your feed.

3. Create Cohesive Feed

Creating a cohesive feed may seem useless but one thing you can learn from the best Instagram accounts is that they have a specific look and feel to them. So why create a cohesive feed? Having a distinct look will help you stand out from your competition and can help you reinforce your branding (further immersing your followers into your brand experience). The theme can be expressed in a specific filter, using frames or even a posting pattern. Creating a cohesive theme will take thought and work, but it will elevate your account. If you have no idea where to start take a moment to check out this post: How To Create A Cohesive Instagram Theme.

Here is an example of my feed @DhariLo.

4. They Use Hashtags

It almost seems impossible to grow Instagram account without using hashtags. Remember to use hashtags within captions as well as hiding up to 30 captions in a comment on any photo you post. They key here is finding hashtags that relate to your audience. If you need help read: How To Find The Right Hashtags For Your Business.

5. They Use Instagram Tools Like Stories, Live Stories and Slideshows

One overlooked tip to learn from the best Instagram accounts is to take advantage of all the extra features Instagram provides aside from posting to the feed. Instagram Stories and Live Stories are a great way to gain exposure for your account and business. They give you an opportunity to show your audience that little more they’re looking for. Take them behind the scenes, share helpful tips, and get creative – this is where you can dive into your brand beyond your feed.

6. Engaging Captions

Another takeaway to learn from the best Instagram accounts is that they have really engaging captions and tell great stories. Take a look at some of your favorite accounts – you most likely read their captions and feel connected to them. They tell stories instead of talking AT you. I found that when I add more personality, and ask questions my audience engages with me more than before. Remember to show personalty and try to pull on your audience’s heart strings in your captions. Put yourself in their shoes and what would speak to you. Instead of saying “Sign up for my amazing course” you may say something like “I remember sitting in front of my screen with nothing to say. I remember how frustrating it was for me. We don’t always have all the ideas – so I’ve created a course to help you out when you’re feeling stuck”. See the difference?

7. Take The Time To Engage With Others

Playing off the last takeaway, the best Instagram accounts take time to engage with followers. They take time to answer questions, interact with comments and they ask their audience questions. Try implementing this strategy with your Instagram account. It’s not only beneficial in that it helps to build relationships with followers and potential followers but it can also help you research and get to know your audience.

8. They Have A Strategy

The biggest thing you can learn from the best Instagram accounts is that they have a strategy. They aren’t randomly posting just because. There is a plan in place, even if you don’t see it. They are setting goals, paying attention to what times they post, what their audiences react to, and they use this information to shape how they publish content.

What is the most useful thing you’ve learned from the best Instagram accounts?

This article was originally published on Dhariana Lozano’s blog.

Source: B2C

How These 5 Technologies Will Help Business During the Holiday Rush

The holiday season creates a massive surge in technology. If your business or service relies on the internet or any form of new technology, you need to be prepared for the spike in activity coming your way. If you haven’t already implemented the following precautions, now is the time to program your smartphone to auto dialing your IT department as soon as something starts to fail.

Here is our list of the top five technologies that will save your online business this holiday season:

1. Balancing the Load

With such a massive hit one website can take with a high volume of traffic – thanks to such marketing ploys as Black Friday and Cyber Money – online sites risk going down. You can prevent this with a sensible solution known as Application Delivery Controllers. ADCs are pretty awesome tools. What they do is act as regulators which provide load balancing which ensures peak performance of an online property during peak traffic. They secure web applications and essentially keep everything on your website operational when the going gets tough. Plus, they maintain security so that even when your website is getting pummeled by anxious shoppers, nothing leaks through the cracks.

2. Chat It Up

Have you got a live chat program connected to your website? Well, guess what? With heavy online holiday traffic one great way to get your customers through the maze of your eCommerce operation is to provide live chat. You’ve likely seen it as a window that pops up on some websites. It’s that floating box that asks you if they can be of service. If you’ve often looked at that thinking it’s a chatbot of some kind, think again. It’s directly linked to live operators who can provide you with instant customer service to guide you through your shopping experience. Without it at your website you are not really helping your customers.

3. Easy Pay, All Through the Day

Considering the fact that more and more shoppers are turning to their mobile devices to do their shopping, your website needs to be able to help these eager customers to spend their money. This includes having the capacity available to accommodate hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of customers weaving their way through your virtual checkout process at any given moment. Your system requires pay-as-you-go technologies that are designed specifically for this purpose. It enables customers to shop with their mobile devices while riding the subway into work or while waiting for dinner to finish cooking. Having the right system in place keeps your business operation online.

4. Once They Are In Your Store…

For retail outlets, the challenge is not so much getting customers inside your store as much as it is getting those customers to act on in-store sales and promotions. Since the idea is to encourage additional in-store purchases, you need to have the right technology up and running to address the potential feeding frenzy that can result from the correct ‘blue light special’ in-store promotion. This means that all in-house retail store systems are operational. This includes POS/card readers. Outdated equipment or equipment with old software can result in debit/credit cards not being read correctly and potential losses in sales. During the holiday peak sales season you cannot afford to have this snag get anywhere near your business. If anything, wish it on your competitor as you can bet they’ve been wishing it on you.

5. Got Mobile, Not Stationary

Speaking of retail sales solutions, with so many customers in-store over the holidays and two checkout counters, how are you going to keep up? One option is to implement mobile POS solutions to the mix. This can be in the form of a tablet which can be linked into your overall sales program. What the cordless POS outlets do, including POS debit/credit card readers, is that they provide freedom for payments to be processed and collected elsewhere on the sales floor. This enables staff to process purchases without having to make customers wait in line at a checkout if they don’t have to. Plus, with an instant payment option available on the sales floor, conversion rates increase. The longer someone waits in line to pay for something, the longer they have to reconsider the purchase.

How to Make All of These Technologies Successful In Your Business

Your business can have all the best technological solutions in place but what really helps keep your business on track during the influx of holiday shopping traffic is your staff. If your employees have a full understanding of how the technologies work and what their purpose is within your business, you stand a better chance of surviving the Christmas shopping rush with minimal problem. Including all members of your staff when these technologies are put in place helps in team building and can assist in addressing issues long before they can develop. With everyone on the same page and working together, even a minor glitch in a system can be overcome.

You do not want your staff to fear the technology. You want them to see how it can make their jobs a little bit easier and that will make a difference. The last thing you want to do is have a major outage that forces everyone to resort to using pen and paper to record sales and write receipts. With these five technologies in place going into this holiday season you can prevent having your retro business turned into an old-school dinosaur because of a server overload or an outdated POS card reader. Because as soon as that happens, you will lose customers and end up sending them to your competitor. Trust us, that is not why you are in business. This holiday season you do not want it to be a ho-ho-horrible Christmas sales season. You want it to be one for the record books.

Source: B2C

Monday, 11 December 2017

How to Make (Real, Mobile) Call-Only Ads on Bing

For many local businesses (particularly those using PPC to drive leads instead of online sales) a phone call can be more valuable than an on-site conversion. While having a prospect complete a form fill on a landing page certainly doesn’t hurt, it simply cannot compare to the immediacy of them picking up a phone and speaking to a potential problem solver instantly.

But while we’ve covered Google AdWords call-only ads ad nauseum, we’ve barely touched on their Bing ads counterparts.

“Why?” you might ask.

Because you can’t make call-only ads on Bing.

Now, technically, you can add call extensions to your text ads, serve them on mobile devices, and give prospects a direct line to your direct line. But you can’t create one of these suckers:

example of adwords call only ad

And that, compadre, is a problem. Well, it was a problem.

This morning, my dear friend/WordStream Paid Search Strategist Casey Palm told me about the technique he uses to create true “call-only” ads in Bing. I dug it so much that, with his blessing, I decided to share Casey’s dope hack with you all.

Per our own Mark Irvine, this was a popular hack advertisers implemented on AdWords pre-2015, before call-only campaigns were launched. And while it won’t guarentee your clandestine call-only ads will show 100% of the time, I’ll show you how to do your damnedest to make ’em appear.

But first…

The Problem with Bing Call Extensions

They’re awesome (Bing says they help advertisers generate 3-6% more clicks). Yes, they let prospects call you with a single click from the SERP. Yes, you can choose to use call forwarding or your own phone number. But that’s not enough.

bing ads call extensions with and without website link

While Bing affords you the ability to add call extensions to your ads on desktops, tablets, and smartphones (your prospects can even call you via Skype using the former), the number itself is ancillary to the rest of your ad copy. Whereas on AdWords, your phone number replaces an entire headline…

adwords call only ad mobile mockup examples

Bing pushes your phone number (and, therefore, the option to call) beneath your copy—even if you check the “show just the phone number” radio button in the call extension creation menu:

bing ads call extension mockup

You’re also at Bing’s mercy when it comes to your ad extensions surfacing alongside your ad. If you’re running a campaign in which you’ve also got image, callout, review, and sitelink extensions, the ability to give your business a call is a roll of the dice.

You don’t just have to take my word for it. Many advertisers have noted this frustration. Search “Bing call only ads”:

bing call only ads serp

Click into that first link on the SERP and you’ll find a whole slew of comments that parallel this general sentiment:

wishful bing ads feature commentor

While Mr. TJN may be using a dash of hyperbole, he’s not wrong: some advertisers derive a ton of value from phone calls, and they’d spend more money on Bing if creating ads that connect business with prospects and only show up on mobile devices was more intuitive.

With that said, let’s dive into how you can create call-only ads in your Bing account.

Creating Bing Call-Only Ads

We’re going to begin by creating a brand-new campaign. Why? Because this will allow you to place a premium on both locality and which extensions appear. If you load up your Bing ads call-only campaign with snippets and images and whirligigs, your call extension-turned star of the show isn’t going to show up.

From the campaign creation screen, when prompted to select a goal, choose “Phone calls to my business.”

bing ads campaign goal drive phone calls for my business

Per the neat little bubble that pops up when you click the accompanying question mark, you should select this campaign goal if “you want to drive new phone calls to one or more of your business numbers.” Sold.

Next up, it’s time to name your campaign, assign a budget, and, most importantly, define your new call-only campaign’s geographic parameters. While the naming convention should align with the rest of your account (save the ever-important “call-only” distinction”), you should note that skimping on the budget here isn’t going to do you any good. To ensure that your ads are served in the prime positions at the top of mobile SERPs, which offer limited real estate, you’ll need to ensure that you’re:

  • Bidding on keywords that represent actual business value

  • Maximizing your Quality Scores

  • Budgeting accordingly

This will allow you to mitigate some of the costs associated with appearing in position one and receiving enough impressions to optimize your campaign through testing while you’re keeping the lights on with valuable phone calls. Now, back to location…

If you’re a small, local business in search of leads (the sorts of folks call-only ads really do wonders for), you want to make sure that your campaign’s location parameters align with the areas you service. Let’s say you’re a plumber who services the greater Boston area; you’d want to target a radius around the city…

bing ads campaign level location targeting

Instead of the entire state of Massachusetts. Makes sense, right?

Below the Locations box and corresponding map, you’ll notice another section labeled “Who?” Here, you’re going to want to select the first box instead of the second. Someone in Saskatchewan searching for “plumbers in Boston” is inherently less valuable to you than someone in Quincy doing the same thing; let our Canadian brethren click on your regular search ads and save your call-only ads for locals in need of immediate assistance.

Up next, you’ve got ad group creation. Since you’re looking for advanced workarounds baked into Bing, I’m assuming this ain’t your first rodeo. Any and all best practices that you adhere to in the rest of your account— single keyword ad groups (SKAGs), tiered bidding, pairing very similar keywords—apply here, too.

Now, I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, but, for the sake of effectively utilizing your ad spend, don’t go dumping bunch of garbage keywords into your call-only campaign. While you might see conversions (form fills) pull through your standards search campaigns on keywords like “snake my pipes,” you need to really consider both immediacy and search intent here.

bing call only ads require high intent keywords

Since you’re going to be bidding a little more to ensure your call-only ads serve on the mobile devices of local searchers, be sure to build tightly-knit ad groups of high-intent keywords (like you see above). Once you’ve got a handful (3-4 keywords with multiple match types should do the trick), create as many extra ad groups for your campaign as you need by clicking on the “+Add new ad group” button.

Now for the fun part.

On the next screen, you’ll be prompted to create ads and, more importantly for our purposes, ad extensions. Your ad copy should follow best practices (shocker). By leveraging an ad group’s associated keywords in your ad copy when possible and including an irresistible CTA, you’ll bolster your Quality Scores, which will help mitigate those high(er) bids.

While there’ll be a whole mess of ad extensions listed at the bottom of this interface, the call extensions box will be primed and ready to go because you selected that “Phone calls for my business” campaign goal.

bing ads create new call extension

At the bottom of call extension creation box, click the blue text that says “+ Add new Call Extension.” This’ll open a shiny new interface:

turning a bing call extension into a bing call only ad

Pay close attention to all that red in the image above: it’s your roadmap to success.

Enter your phone number into the box at the top. Under the “Call Tracking” section, it’s totally up to you whether you choose to use a Bing Ads forwarding number or have your own (smartphone) number displayed alongside your ad. Directly below “Call Tracking” you’ll see a radio button under the “Mobile Format” section that says, “Show just the phone number.” SELECT THIS OPTION!

Since we’re going to eliminate desktop and tablet placements in just a moment, making “Mobile Format” the only format, choosing “Show just the phone number” will ensure that your prospects speak to you instead of completing a form fill on your website. Before you click “Save,” don’t forget to adjust your ad schedule. If you’re only open from 9am-5pm Monday thru Friday, there’s no sense running call-only ads in the dead of night or while you’re trying to watch the Pats on Sunday afternoon.

Once you’ve saved your call extension, open the “Advanced campaign settings” menu at the bottom of the Bing Ads interface.

decreasing bing ads desktop bids by 100 percent

Within the “Device” submenu, decrease bids on desktop and tablet by 100%. This will ensure that your ads don’t show up, funneling all available impressions to mobile devices (where prospects can ring you up).

How to Create Call-Only Ads in Bing (TL;DR)

  1. Create a new Bing Ads campaign using “Phone calls to my business” as your campaign goal.

  2. Narrow your targeting to include only prospects in your area.

  3. Create tightly-knit ad groups of high-intent keywords.

  4. Write great ads.

  5. When creating your call extension, select the “Show just the phone number” option and establish an ad schedule.

  6. Decrease desktop and tablet bids by 100%.

Final Thoughts

At some point, Bing will probably add call-only ads to their ever-growing suite of tools to help advertisers reach prospects. Until then, the workaround outlined above is a relatively easy way to incite more (and more affordable, at least compared to AdWords) phone calls from prospects desperately looking to scratch an itch.

Source: B2C