Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Are You Giving Cloud ERP a Fair Chance? 3 Reasons Why Cloud ERP Is Misunderstood

Has your business yet to take advantage of Cloud ERP? According to Aberdeen Group, Top Performers Know It’s Time to Migrate to Cloud ERP, the percentage of organizations considering a cloud solution has increased from 23% to 59% since 2016; finally surpassing on-premise solutions. While some businesses see the benefits of a cloud-based solution, others may have misinformation or doubt about making the transition to the cloud.


Is Cloud ERP misunderstood? Here are 3 Cloud ERP theories’ that may be holding you back:


1. Cost Concerns. Many organizations would believe there are cost concerns when investigating Cloud ERP solutions, however, those that choose ERP in the cloud do so because of the cloud’s ability to provide a centralized platform for all data needed to run their organization. Subscription payments make it much more practical to utilize an ERP solution without having a large, up-front cost, in addition to saving on any future upgrade to existing servers. This strategy fits with the needs of changing organizations that are now able to take advantage of the capabilities that are essential for success.


2. Termination of IT Jobs. An argument can be made that cloud computing automates tasks that are performed by employees, eventually eliminating the need for IT resources. However, many predict that cloud computing will increase the number of workers in the field. With lower cost and greater ease of use, any loss of jobs caused by the move to cloud computing will be made up by the overall growth the cloud solution will enable resulting in job growth associated with cloud environments and applications. Job titles may be different, but employees needing to overlook cloud solution projects will be far from over.


3. Fear of Data Security. As more and more organizations are choosing to move their ERP systems to the cloud, data security concerns may weigh heavily on their minds. (It Tool Box) Organizations have continued to be cautious about giving up visibility and control, particularly over applications that are more business-critical. According to Aberdeen Group, A New Approach for Enterprise application Security, 66% of all enterprise applications are implemented using Cloud Solutions opposed to traditional server implementations. Unless your business has 24-hour, 365-day yearly protection on your infrastructure; Cloud ERP offers support, protection and a peace of mind for your business.


As Cloud computing becomes one of the most riveting technologies to hit the Enterprise industry, this will open the door for misconceptions about the Cloud platform. Anything new to businesses is always a big unknown. As today’s organizations become more informed of Cloud ERP benefits, more and more will look for ways to take advantage of it across their organizations.



Source: B2C

Pinterest Developments: 3 Reasons Marketers Should Take Note

Pinterests - 3 Reasons Brands Should Take Note


Pinterest initially burst onto the social media scene to great fanfare a few years ago, introducing a new and intuitive way for people to save and curate their favourite things.


It duly (and rapidly) built a loyal user base that’s still going strong today. But on the marketing and advertising side, while big hitters such as Facebook, Instagram and Google have developed sophisticated targeted advertising and ecommerce options for brands, Pinterest has fallen by the wayside.


However, Pinterest have been playing serious catch-up in recent months. A slew of new features have been rolled out aimed at untapping the social network’s latent potential for closer ecommerce integration. And brands have started to sit up and take note.


In our view, Pinterest has the potential to become a real ecommerce and referral marketing force. Let’s run through some of the main reasons why…


Pinterest already went hand-in-hand with retail — now it’s in bed with it


A quick glance at some of Pinterest’s most popular board categories tells you a lot:


  • Fashion (300 million boards)

  • Food and drink (180 million)

  • Home decor (130 million)

They mirror retail industry verticals, for the obvious reason: Pinterest usage is a lead-in to shopping.


According to a report from Mary Meeker, 55 percent of Pinterest’s 110 million active users are there to search and connect with products. In other words, the average Pinterest user is looking to shop. In comparison, just 12 percent of Facebook and Instagram traffic use those channels for the same purpose.


Pinterest usage is pretty systematic. The average user session looks something like:


  • searches and browses for items of interest.

  • saves (‘pins’) and groups items of interest (pin boards) for later reference.

In effect, Pinterest is a uniquely potent channel for ecommerce retailers, deftly serving the first two stages of the traditional customer purchase funnel: awareness and consideration.


It comes as little surprise then, that Pinterest has been ramping up efforts to more directly integrate ecommerce retailers into the user experience.


It’s already partnered with more than 20,000 merchants, bringing in more than 10 million unique products onto the platform. And it’s also created the Pinterest Shop, where in-house and guest editors curate the best items and trends within each key retail vertical.


Buyable pins and shopping bags — an ecommerce gamechanger


If any social network seems made for the growing trend in shoppable content, it’s Pinterest. The platform recently introduced its Buyable pins feature — which as the name suggests, gives users the ability to purchase items featured within pins at the click of a CTA button.


Pinterest Buy Button


The platform has even introduced a shopping bag feature — allowing users to add multiple buyable pin items, review their order and check out when they’re ready to purchase. Just as you’d expect from any ecommerce store.


Technically, Pinterest hasn’t become a fully fledged ecommerce store. It doesn’t handle any of the shipping or customer experience. It’s acting as a mediator and customer referral system of sorts for the retailer.


With these simple additions, Pinterest has become capable of serving all stages of the customer’s buying journey — not only moving users along the awareness and consideration stages of the funnel, but now through to the actual purchase decision too. That makes it a pretty powerful player in the ecommerce world.


New search and discovery functions complete the ecommerce experience


To top everything off, Pinterest has evolved its search to further mimic the customer experience of an ecommerce store.


First of all, it’s introduced brand profiles — which essentially allows retailers to set up mini stores within Pinterest. A customer can now search out a specific brand, visit their profile, and be presented with a range of filtering options, including popular products and special offers. Just the kind of thing you’d expect to find on the brand’s own main website.


And then there’s the impressive advancement in Pinterest’s visual search, which has opened up more spontaneous discovery of buyable products. Users can now zoom in on any pin and, via automatic object detection, be presented with a range of relevant pins, including buyable products that may be of interest. For example, a user may zoom in on a table they like the look of — and be presented with a range of visual search results that match that style.


Conclusion


There’s little doubt that Pinterest has seriously upped its game. As retailers cotton on to its powerful latest features, we predict that Pinterest will increasingly grow its stature as an ecommerce force to be reckoned with.


This post was previously featured on the Mention Me Ecommerce & Referral Blog



Source: B2C

5 Ways to Improve Your Google AdWords Quality Score

If you’re running Google AdWords ads and they’re getting pushed down in the search engine results pages (SERPs), that’s because your Quality Score is too low.


The good news is that you can make some changes to improve your score.


In this article will offer several tips that you can follow to bump up your Quality Score and give your ad a better position in the search results.


What Is the Quality Score?


So what, exactly, is the Quality Score?


In a nutshell, it’s a measurement of the quality of your ad as it relates to user experience. It’s defined as a number from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.


It also determines where your ad gets placed. If your Quality Score is higher than the score of your closest competitor, then your ad will appear higher in the SERPs.


Factors That Affect the Quality Score


There are three factors that affect the Quality Score.


  • Expected click-through rate (CTR) – Remember, Google makes money off of your ads. That’s why the company pushes the ads that are most likely to get clicks towards the top of the SERPs. Google uses a historical analysis to calculate a prediction about your ads CTR.

  • Ad Relevance – Your ad should be relevant to the keywords you select. In fact it’s ideal if the exact search term you use appears in the ad copy.

  • Landing Page Experience – Your landing page should match both the ad and the keyword you’re using. Also, the page should load quickly and look great on all platforms, especially mobile devices.

Now that you know a little bit about what factors influence the Quality Score, let’s look at some ways that you can improve your own score.



  1. Use Small Ad Groups



One of the best ways to boost your Quality Score is to use small ad groups.


It’s unfortunate that Google recommends 15-20 keywords per ad group. That’s usually too many to make the ad relevant to all the keywords.


For example, if you’re offering chimney cleaning services, you might like the keyword “chimney cleaning services.” However, a little bit of keyword research might inform you that “clean my chimney” is also a great keyword to use.


But it’s not likely you’re going to run an ad that includes the phrase “chimney cleaning services” and “clean my chimney.”


That’s why some people recommend having only one keyword per ad group. Now that is a little extreme on the other end…


But if you have tightly themed keywords and ads, you’ll almost certainly bump up your Quality Score.



  1. Use Negative Keywords



It’s a shame that more digital marketing agencies don’t use negative keywords. They can also help with your quality score. Many times, these companies get paid based on how much you spend, so you need to watch that.


Negative keywords are words that you put in your ad group or campaign that you want Google to ignore. People who use those words in their search terms won’t see your ad.


How do they help with the Quality Score? Because they can help you improve the CTR for the ad.


Remember, part of the calculation that’s used to determine your Quality Score is the anticipated CTR. If you have a low CTR because lots of people who aren’t in your target market are seeing your ads, then your score will suffer.


One of the best ways to keep the “wrong” people from seeing your ad is with negative keywords.



  1. Use Expanded Text Ads



Another way to kick up your Quality Score is by using expanded text ads.


That’s because they allow you to run ads that are 50% longer than the “normal” AdWords ads. The extra available space can be used for longtail keywords.


Remember, it’s a great idea to make your ad as relevant as possible to the keyword. That’s hard to do with longtail keywords if you’re not using expanded text ads.



  1. Don’t Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion



You might think the idea of dynamic keyword insertion is really cool, but it can hurt your Quality Score.


If you haven’t heard of it, dynamic keyword insertion enables you to plug the user’s exact search term into your ad copy. That kind of strategy won’t help your score and might hurt it.


The reality is that if you’re using small-keyword ad groups, you don’t even need dynamic keyword insertion.


It can also lead to unpredictable results with irrelevant messaging and misspellings. Sometimes those ads don’t appear as well-written as you like.



  1. Improve Your Landing Page



The next thing to do to improve your Quality Score is to improve your landing page.


First, run it through Google Page Speed Insights and the Google Mobile-Friendly test. If you get low scores in either of those tests, contact your development team to improve your site.


Next, make sure that your landing page is relevant to both your ad and your keyword. If you’re using single-keyword ad groups, it’s a good idea to have one landing page per ad group.


Finally, make sure that the landing page reflects the offer in the ad. There’s nothing that will annoy potential customers more than visiting a web page that doesn’t live up to the promise of the ad that brought them there.



Source: B2C

Shop In The Machine: 3 Ways Retailers Can Maximize Virtual Assistants

(Jack Dempsey/AP Images for LG Electronics)


This is how Alexa buys coffee.


She waits for you to describe what you want, she culls through hundreds of thousands of items in a few moments, and then she asks, “OK, Starbucks Kuerig K-Cup variety pack. It’s $35.98. Should I order it?”


And just like that, Alexa may be turning retail on its increasingly virtual head.


She is not alone. The use of virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri have been growing at a rapid pace — the market is expected to reach $12 billion by 2024, largely thanks to the addition of new functions, such as shopping.


Amazon, notably, has added Alexa to its shopping app so users can chat with the virtual assistant through an iPhone or iPad. And in late March, it added Alexa to its Prime Now two-hour delivery service. Apple, in the interim, is working in its own answer to Alexa, a Siri speaker for the home.


Virtual Transformation In Retail


The implications for retail extend beyond technological acuity. In the process of fetching boxes of coffee pods and candy, virtual assistants are transforming the standards of how consumers expect their day-to-day queries to be answered, said Eli Campo, CEO of Nanorep, a company that specializes in bots for e-commerce companies.


The fact that Amazon, the world’s eighth-largest retailer, owns Alexa underscores the sense of urgency to act, he said.


“To keep pace, retailers of all sizes need to be thinking about how they can implement their own virtual assistant technology,” Campo said. “This doesn’t just mean putting a bot on your website, but strategically identifying how this technology can improve customer relations.”


We Have A Bot For That


Easy to say, but how does a retailer determine the best technology for improving the experience among its customer base? Campo offers three tips:


  • Be a rover. Virtual assistants should not be limited to a channel or two. Like Alexa’s migration to the iPhone, bots should be transitional and omnipresent to provide instant answers everywhere the customer is, Campo said. “To compete, it’s not enough for retailers to just invest in a virtual assistant on their website. They’ll need to ensure they are allowing customers to engage across every possible touch point — from mobile to email to Facebook,” he said.

This boundless presence would enable retailers to meet the benchmark of convenience and ensure they are at the ready wherever and whenever their customers need them — with virtual effortlessness.


  • Talk like a sales associate. In order to hold a shopper’s interest, a retailer needs to engage them, and this usually requires contextual conversations. This is one pitfall of Alexa and other personal assistants — they rely on single-transaction communications. Users can ask just one question at a time, and receive the answer only to that particular question.

Campo argues that virtual assistants can evolve beyond such elementary talk, “enabling consumers to engage in a conversation, speaking the same way they would to an actual person.” By mastering this level of communication through a virtual sales associate, retailers can impress their customers by showcasing they not only have the technology to meet their needs, but can take the experience several steps further.


For example, The North Face uses a digital shopping tool that presents online coat-shoppers with a series of questions, such as “Where and when will you be using this jacket?” The answers are used to generate relevant coat suggestions.


  • Mine the data. A whole lot of Amazon’s and Google’s success is based on their ability to collect and analyze scads of shopper data and, in real time, hone their understanding of consumer needs. These insights further enable these merchants to predict, and suggest, customer preferences.

Retailers can do the same thing with virtual-agent technology, Campo believes. “Collecting data on the success of interactions, these businesses can have a consistent understanding of what their customers are looking for and what roadblocks and frustrations they face,” he said.


This knowledge could be parlayed into engagement strategies, allowing retailers to be more agile in their tactics so they are better positioned to retain current customers and win over prospective ones.


As virtual assistants enter more homes and phones, they inch closer to becoming a universal service for consumers. With shopping coexisting in these same channels, consumers will expect their digital assistants to assume these tasks.


Whether buying something as practical as coffee or a car, the demand will unfold like so many newly ordered sweatshirts. Retailers should help guide the way.


This article originally appeared in Forbes. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more on retail, loyalty and the customer experience.



Source: B2C

Videos for Lead Nurturing? They Can Do a Lot More Than You Think

According to SiriusDecisions, 80% of unqualified leads today—those understandably ignored by sales—will go on to buy from someone within the next 24 months. The solution is nurturing, buy how do you do that?


Opportunistic Video


There are countless ways to put a brand in front of buyers, of course. But for B2B products and services, especially those with a long, complex buying process, the brand needs to be accompanied by information the buyer cares about.


Obviously, video is a good format for micro-learning, especially on mobile devices. But few companies produce videos that are ready to be inserted into automated nurturing campaigns. Why not? Because most marketers aren’t thinking about video opportunistically. Typically, they think about making traditional genres of video content—explainer, demo, webinar, etc. A more pointed way of putting it: they’re not thinking about making videos that match what prospects want to know. They’re thinking about video, not the customer experience.


Thinking opportunistically opens up a lot of new ways to generate targeted video content, not only for messaging but also for understanding buyers and their motivation.


Persona-Based Videos


Focusing on a buyer persona means you can make shorter videos, get to the point faster, take up less of the buyer’s time, and appeal to the special interests of each buying team member.


The table below is adapted from an excellent article, What’s a Successful ABM Strategy Without Killer Content?, by content marketing consultant Rebecca Smith of Heinz Marketing.



The table, by Terminus, is designed to help marketers develop a content strategy (not just video content) for account-based marketing. You could fill in the blanks here with all kinds of media—including killer video content.


According to Smith, content at the top of the funnel should be designed to help an audience who doesn’t know much about you and your solution—no hard sell. In the middle stage, you want to distinguish yourself from competitors—but still no hard sell. That doesn’t come until you’ve developed trust. At the bottom of the funnel, buyers want to be convinced. Illustrations of features, advantages, and benefits work here.


If this approach makes sense to you, it will also make sense to think a little differently about how you use video.


The FAQ Opportunity


In the course of interviewing subject matter experts for the videos we produce, we often hear about product features or use cases that seem to capture customers’ interest and generate questions. We always try to address these questions in the short videos we make, but when a topic is competing for 90-120 seconds of “air time” with other features and benefits, interesting angles and insights are bound to be missed.


Yet, if a question is truly “frequently asked,” it deserves to be answered in a concise, visually interesting video. Punchy FAQ videos can also work as promotional teasers in social media, as well as customer-friendly content in account-based marketing.


The Blog-To-Video Opportunity


Think about all the work that goes into most blog posts. Especially in technology companies, people who know a lot are writing about what they know. They’re writing for their peers, and they’re doing their best to make things clear. Here are five reasons to base short videos on blog posts:


  1. A video can extend the life of an existing post, kindle new interest, and extend the reach to a wider audience

  2. Video based on approved copy can be produced faster and with less hassle

  3. Video makes the information more accessible

  4. “Video” in the subject line can increase email opens (but always test this for your audience)

  5. Videos are shared 7X more than links on Facebook

The Interactive Web Video Opportunity


eLearning experts know that users like to be in control of the learning experience. What’s different about responsive (or “interactive”) videos is that the exploration and interaction all takes place within the video window. So it feels more like a user-friendly app, and less like a promotional website.


Interactive video used to be specialist technology. It didn’t really scale and it didn’t work on iPhones. But, now it’s HTML5 and works in a browser, which provides instant scalability. Additionally, with the release of Apple’s iOS X, it works on iDevices, which is huge—opening the door for broader reaching access and consumption.


There are plenty of easy-to-use tools for making a video respond to input—almost like a chatbot. This can be as simple as adding chapter headings to a webinar, interview, or whiteboard talk. Or a video where you can click on objects to dive deeper into the subject. Or a video that branches to new content based on user input.


Let’s say your product has three major differentiators, X, Y, and Z, and you usually pitch them in that order. Some viewers are really interested in Y. Others care more about Z. With interactive video you can let viewers skip ahead to the differentiator that matters most to them—they’ll like that. And when you think about it, why do you care if they skipped X unless everyone skips it? If for example, they skip to Y, you can insert a pop-up button that offers to take the viewer to more information about Y. Now, you’re guiding the buyer’s journey.


The Customer Experience Opportunity


These video formats have a couple of things in common: they are more informational than promotional, and they present the information in short bursts. That’s in line with the trend that “micro-learning” eLearning experts recommend. More important, by focusing video content marketing on customers’ desire to learn, it puts the customer experience first, which will make your customers more engaged and your marketing more successful.


Are you implementing any of opportunistic video strategies? I’d love to know how you’re thinking about video content in your organization—please share in the comments below.



Source: B2C

6 Sales Enablement Tools You Need to Get Noticed By Prospects

Before we dive into the tools that will improve sales enablement at your organization, we should probably remind ourselves what sales enablement actually means. Sales enablement is a process that allows salespeople to sell more effectively by arming them with the content, tools, and resources they need to be successful.


According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017 Report, 29 percent of companies stated that sales enablement is their No. 1 marketing priority over the next 12 months. Sales enablement is key for scaling your company’s growth—that’s why so many people in the B2B world are talking about it. But it’s not just a buzzword. If closing more deals is a your top priority (as it is for 71 percent of companies in 2017), you’ll want to identify the sales enablement tools that will help you accelerate sales.


There are countless sales enablement tools available, and the examples that follow will give you a good idea of what’s out there and how to pick the right one for your organization.


Sales Enablement Tools


1. Allbound – Accelerate Partner Revenue


Does your organization have a channel partner program, or are you interested in expanding building a partner program from the ground up?


Allbound is one of the few tools specifically aimed at accelerating partner revenue by enabling your partner sales team. It truly is an all-in-one platform that tracks KPIs, provides salespeople with training, organizes all your content so your team can find and send the right content at the right time, and more. Check out the tool’s features here.


2. Attach – Measure Content Interaction


Attach provides data and insight around what happens after you send content (documents,


presentations, proposals, and so on) to prospects. Are they actually opening and reviewing the content you send over? Are prospects sharing this content with others at the company? How are they interacting with the content, and how can you optimize it based on this data?


The tool also has a content hub to make it easy for everyone on the team to access content. Another plus is that Attach has a free version that you can try to see if it improves performance before upgrading to a paid version.


3. Chorus – Call Recording, Transcription, and Analysis


Ever wish you had someone listening in on every single sales call and transcribing it so that your team can identify what works best when speaking to prospects and never miss another follow-up item? Chorus records, transcribes and analyzes sales calls to show you how deals are won or lost, to increase quota attainment, and to train new hires faster.


4. Crazy Egg – Website Visit Optimization


Most people would say Crazy Egg is more of a marketer’s tool than a sales tool, but I’m including it on this list because it absolutely falls into the category of resources that enable your sales team (and your sales and marketing teams work closely together, right?).


Crazy Egg lets you see what your website visitors are doing—where they’re clicking and not clicking, which site pages they’re viewing, and where people stop scrolling. This data can inform your sales team what pages and content are resonating with web visitors. And because 81 percent of shoppers do online research before purchasing something big, giving your organization the knowledge to optimize the website will help convert more visitors to leads and leads to customers.


5. HubSpot Sales Software – Prospect Engagement and Interest


You’re probably familiar with HubSpot’s marketing software, but have you taken its sales software for a spin? HubSpot sales software notifies you as soon as a prospect opens an email and clicks a link within it. You can also automate and personalize follow-up emails to prospects and leads. For each lead, you can view an automatically generated history of your interactions with them, from documents they’ve opened to how they interacted with your emails. The tool allows your sales team to focus on warm leads instead of cold prospects, and in return, win more deals.


6. SocialPort by rFactr – Content Sharing


Social selling has been a focus initiative for many sales teams as of late. SocialPort by rFactr is a social selling platform that will enable your team to share the right content at the right time in one click. Marketing can create content and generate an email to sales that will allow recipients to share the content to their social media pages. Of course, it measures how well each piece of content performs and which platform drives the most engagement and sales results. rFactr also has a partnership with Forbes, which lets you easily find trusted content to share.


Questions to Ask Before Implementing a New Sales Enablement Tool


It would be unrealistic and incredibly ineffective to use every sales enablement tool you come across. What really matters is that you make the effort to identify and implement the best-fit tool or tools for your team. Below are a few questions you should ask yourself before adding another sales enablement tool to your technology mix:


  • How well does this tool fit into our existing sales process? If you have to think about this for a few minutes, the tool probably doesn’t mesh with your current sales process. A new tool should clearly simplify your current sales process or solve some sort of pain point within your sales team.

  • How will this tool help us better understand our customers? A sales enablement tool should empower your sales team with real-time data about leads and customers.

  • Will this tool provide the data our team needs to succeed? If the tool doesn’t compile data to provide key insights to your salespeople that make them better at their jobs, is it really a sales enablement tool?

  • Are there proven case studies featuring this tool? Most well-established sales enablement tools have case studies or at least testimonials from users about the results they’ve seen using the tool and what challenges it has solved.

Did you discover a new tool to test out? What other sales enablement tools does your team use?



Source: B2C

Oskar and Gaspa Create Art Using Heidi Klum’s Body As Canvas On America’s Got Talent


Oskar and Gaspar’s technology act uses Heidi Klum for their projection act on America’s Got Talent. They make a living producing amazing lighted sets and stages for indoor and outdoor corporate events but they also entertain individuals with their live tattoo video mapping events in Europe.


Throughout the two-minute performance, Klum’s figure changes into a mammal, a reptile, a black hole in outer space, volcanic lava, a robot with moving gears, and finally Wonder Woman herself. Klum then re-joins the others at the judges table amidst cheers and applause.


Throughout the two-minute performance, Klum’s figure changes into a mammal, a reptile, a black hole in outer space, volcanic lava, a robot with moving gears, and finally Wonder Woman herself. Klum then re-joins the others at the judges table amidst cheers and applause.


What did you think of the performance? Let us know in the comments section.



America’s Got Talent Social Media Reactions
















On the heels of the most viewed season in five years, the 12th season of “America’s Got Talent” is back with creator and judge Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel.

Supermodel, entrepreneur and CEO, Tyra Banks, joins the team as host and the series returns to Los Angeles this summer with live shows from the famed Dolby Theatre.


With the search open to acts of all ages and talents, “America’s Got Talent” has brought the variety format back to the forefront of American culture by showcasing unique performers from across the country. The series is a true celebration of creativity and talent, featuring a colorful array of singers, dancers, comedians, contortionists, impressionists, jugglers, magicians, ventriloquists and hopeful stars, all vying to win America’s hearts and the $1 million prize.


The “Got Talent” format, created by Simon Cowell and co-owned by Syco Entertainment and FremantleMedia globally, holds the Guinness World Record as the most successful reality TV format of all time, airing in 186 countries and having been commissioned in 68 territories worldwide. Around the world more than 500 million people watch “Got Talent” every year. “Britain’s Got Talent” has remained the U.K.’s #1 entertainment show since it first launched in 2007 and discovered global singing sensational Susan Boyle, who has sold 23 million records to date.


Photo Credit: NBC



Source: B2C

Are Algorithms Bad for Marketers?

markusspiske / Pixabay


Algorithms may have started out simply in math and science classes, but in today’s world of computers and technology, algorithms are all around us. Used to solve various problems, algorithms are simply lists of steps used in calculations. And while algorithms may work perfectly in a mathematics class, some questions have surfaced about the ways that algorithms are being used in the real world to make decisions on practically everything from determining prison sentences to what type of marketing campaign to use.


For instance, Eric Loomis was sentenced to six years in a Wisconsin prison, partly because of software algorithms. Loomis disagrees with the verdict, asserting that he was not able to appropriately receive due process because of the judge’s consideration of a report based on a secret algorithm by the company’s software. Because the company’s algorithm was secret, Loomis was unable to challenge it, or even inspect it. Only the software company knew what was in its own ‘black box.’


This report recommending a verdict, requested by the justices in the case, was generated by using a series of attributes to determine whether there was a risk that Loomis might be a repeat offender in the future. A prosecutor told the judge that the report showed a “high risk of violence, high risk of recidivism, and high pretrial risk.” The judge agreed, told Loomis that he was identified through the Compas assessment as a high risk to the community, and the verdict was issued. While the court insists that it would have come up with the same results whether or not the report was included, the use of algorithms to decide a person’s fate leaves many people uneasy.


In our own marketing world, just today Google was fined $2.7 Billion in an E.U. antitrust ruling for favoring some search results over others. At the heart of the the ruling – Google’s secret algorithm. Marketers are consistently weary of crafting keyword and content strategies based on Google’s algorithm. A robust strategy today can be completely obsolete tomorrow should Google decide to change its algorithm.


Remember that algorithms are programmed by humans with a set of assumptions and data. Because algorithms begin with a certain set of assumptions, they can come out completely wrong if the original information is faulty. If you build a manual lead scoring algorithm in HubSpot that heavily weights leads that visit your Career or About page and then wonder why those leads don’t close as sales, you may have assumed a high level of interest in your company because of visits to those pages. However, although that assumption may be true, the interest might have been primarily because of an interest in working for your company rather than in engaging your company’s services.


As data is shaped into algorithms that makes it effective for suggesting things like books to read or films to watch, one of the most important points to remember related to marketing with algorithms is that people are still human and unique. Algorithms couldn’t predict how good Russell Westbrook would be. This means that people will not always fit into the computer world of algorithms and marketing efforts should always consider this. The nuances of humanity should always be factored in – remembering that audience of one. One person that decides to buy your shoes, your service, your book – or whatever type of value you are providing. As code continues to develop and artificial intelligence opportunities grow, marketers should continue to develop their strategies using the latest technology. At the same time, our uniqueness and creativity cannot be challenged by computers. While machines can certainly be used as useful tools for us, human critical thinking and good judgment cannot be replaced.As we seek to answer the question of whether algorithms are bad for us, we can probably answer it in the same way that we do with many other aspects of life. Balance and perspective area always needed. Because sometimes you can have too much of a “good thing.”




Source: B2C

CEO Turnover in the Private Equity Sector

TukTukDesign / Pixabay


CEO turnover within private equity portfolio companies is staggering. In a recent survey completed by Alix Partners, 58% of private equity CEOs are replaced within 2 years of an investment. Over the lifetime of the private equity firm’s holding of a company, CEO turnover jumps up to 73%.


When a private equity firm makes an investment, the clock starts ticking towards the eventual sale and hopeful profit that can be passed along to both the General and Limited Partners. What’s most concerning to private equity firms is not only the turnover, but also the lost time spent recruiting and hiring a new CEO and the time required by the CEO (and perhaps a new senior management team) to assimilate into the organization and begin executing their plans.


Why CEO Turnover Is So High


The first statistic, that 58% of CEOs turnover within 2 years, does have an explanation that will be familiar to those in the private equity sector. In particular, when private equity firms purchase a family business, the new owners require the previous owner (who is usually the CEO as well) to stay on for a period of time to provide continuity in the business. Once that stay-period is up, usually within 1-2 years, there is an agreement that the previous CEO will step down and the private equity firm will have the opportunity to choose their own replacement. This scenario constitutes a large percentage of the 58% turnover.


The 73% turnover statistic is much more alarming and a cause for concern. The typical private equity purchase is held for 4-6 years. When you factor in a CEO replacement within that time-period, the ability for the private equity firm to attain desired returns and sell the business becomes more difficult.


How Strategic Hiring Lowers CEO Turnover


The survey from Alix Partners brought up some valid issues, most notably the hiring and assessment process. When faced with making a decision between the two, private equity firms prefer candidates with CEO experience rather than a private equity background. In our experience, this preference makes a lot of sense, though there are some exceptions to keep in mind. The most important consideration is whether prior experience aligns with the position in question. Unfortunately, we often see private equity firms recruit executives from large, academy companies to run their middle market business. While this sometimes works, the vast majority of hires like this end in less-than-stellar results. There is a big difference, in so many ways, between running a division of a Fortune 500 company and managing a middle market private equity portfolio company. Talent is different, processes and systems are not as developed, and resources are oftentimes scarce. That’s why an alignment between prior experience and the current role is essential.


The four top contributors to CEO turnover in private equity are the lack of strategic direction, poor performance, poor communication, and lack of cultural fit. It is also clear that a lack of cultural fit contributes to the other three factors. With that in mind, how can private equity firms improve their chances of success by focusing more of their CEO assessment on cultural fit? Here are a few ideas we’ve found to have worked with our clients:


Step 1: Develop a Thorough Position Profile


Job descriptions are often very generic and lack greater detail. Many companies will simply list the major responsibilities of the job, alongside a list of required skills and experiences, but they are missing an important link. It is essential to recognize that in larger companies, responsibilities and duties are often two separate roles. In a middle market business, however, the CEO is often the one responsible for both managing and executing the work. The levels of management don’t exist in a middle market business; the talent is not there to delegate the work. Thus, a mere list of responsibilities in the job description isn’t enough. It’s important for candidates to know both what they will be responsible for and how involved they will need to be in getting it done. Equally important is for the private equity firm to be comfortable that the candidate understands and, ideally, can display examples of being in a similar situation.


Step 2: Clearly Define and Follow an Assessment Process


Lay out the necessary steps in the interview process, including who needs to be involved and at what stage. Determine the competencies, skills, personal and professional traits required/desired, and discuss who will probe into a specific area. It’s important to delegate responsibilities so that interviews are productive and provide the desired information.


Begin with the end in mind: The ideal scenario is completing the last interview in a format that accomplishes the objective of confirming that both professional and personal qualifications are in line with your needs while providing candidates the opportunity to understand the role and confirm they are interested and motivated to take responsibility for the business.


Step 3: Don’t Hire the Resume


All too often, we’re called by private equity firms that have decided to replace a sitting CEO by picking a candidate because of where he or she had been in their prior role. In most of these cases, the decision was made to hire someone from a large, reputable company within the industry. Whether it was a CEO, or Divisional or Business Unit President, the private equity firm felt that they had hired someone from an academy company who couldn’t fail. As mentioned previously, however, this rarely works out, which is why those firms end up calling us for assistance.


Step 4: Seek Multiple Opinions and Feedback


References are important but must be used for more than just confirming experience and qualifications. Equally important is to solicit feedback on the personal traits, motivation, and best possible fit of the candidate. Speaking to people who know the candidate well can provide insights into the probability for fit within the portfolio company.


Furthermore, trusted advisors to the private equity firm and portfolio company can assess candidates in correlation of their existing knowledge of the PE firm. They have a reference point that allows them to assess fit and performance potential of candidates. Key people within the portfolio company may also be able to provide feedback on a candidate’s potential cultural fit.


Finally, third party assessment tools can provide insight into how candidates get things done, as well as their leadership and management tendencies, all of which can contribute to a stronger assessment of cultural fit.


While there are no guaranteed steps to achieving 100% success in hiring, committing to an iterative process can improve upon past failures in identifying candidates with a high probability for success.


Final Thoughts


We are definitely in a market where the candidate has leverage. Talented candidates are frequently seeing multiple offers, and companies are moving quickly to secure talent. Companies that don’t take the time to map out their assessment process will find themselves missing out on the talent they desire and need to succeed.



Source: B2C

How to Make Your LinkedIn Company Page a Magnet—Not a Repellent—for Marketing Talent

3dman_eu / Pixabay


Not finding the marketing talent you need online? We can help.


Despite rising competition, LinkedIn remains professionals’ go-to social network for career development, relationship development, and job hunting. Companies who use it properly not only promote their brand and win potential customers; they also leverage it as a valuable goldmine for job candidates of all kinds.


The network can be an especially powerful resource for marketing recruitment,for which top talent is scarce and often very difficult to find. Given that, it’s amazing how many organizations don’t fully leverage the power of their LinkedIn Company Page as a tool to reinforce their marketing team with ambitious, high-performing experts.


Are you sure your company’s LinkedIn presence isn’t turning off the best candidates who see it? Take these steps to guarantee it’s a magnet to top marketers.


Optimize Your Company Page


Marketers are much more sensitive than most to poorly assembled online brands, weak social media activity, and poor user experience. After all, it’s our job to watch over and improve them!


So if your company’s profile is out of date, fails to explain your organization, and doesn’t effectively display your open jobs, you can rest assured that it will likely scare off top candidates. Marketers are understandably wary of a brand that neglects its presence online (and it’s probably not good for your business, either).


Fortunately, it only takes a little work to make sure your company page is complete and professional. Only a little more effort is needed to update it with well-formatted, informative marketing job descriptions.


Use Better Marketing Job Descriptions


As important as they are, job descriptions rarely get enough love. They’re usually written by busy HR staff juggling a pile of other searches for the rest of the organization. Your internal recruiting team is no doubt comprised of very smart, hard-working professionals. But they’re not trained social media marketing recruiters. They probably have a limited understanding of your marketing needs and the trends that are impacting the marketing industry today.


Think of the job description as the “bait” for top marketing talent. You need to use the right bait to catch the right kind of fish. When you publish a bland, unclear description and invite applications, you can expect only generic, unqualified candidates (or none at all).


Writing job descriptions that will entice top marketers requires a special approach.


Everything from the job title you use to the way you explain the duties of the role to how you ‘sell’ the position and your business can impact the quality of talent you can attract.


Make sure your marketing job descriptions match the caliber of candidate you want to bring in!


Activate Easy Apply


One handy optional feature LinkedIn has for job applications is the “Easy Apply” button. It allows candidates who see a job on the social network to apply with just the click of a couple of buttons, using their profile and an (optional) attachment like a resume as their application.


For a busy marketer who doesn’t have the time or the interest to complete long, elaborate forms or write unnecessary cover letters, this feature is extremely attractive. While many online applications can take half an hour or more for a serious candidate, Easy Apply takes just a few seconds.


What does it mean for you?


Well, you’ll likely get more candidates, and not all of them will be good ones. Lowering the barrier to entry to application always means you’ll see an increase in low-effort, low-quality entrants.


However, you’re also more likely to get the attention of at least a few superstars as well. As important as your marketing is to your business today, it’s worth the extra work sifting through mediocre talent to find the diamonds in the rough.


Keep Your Account Active


Never forget that, before all else, LinkedIn is first and foremost a social network. That means your brand is actually expected to be social.


Share updates on your brand and comment on important industry trends. Respond to inquiries and comments on your posts. Start conversations with your community.


And of course, follow up quickly to job applications.


When in Doubt, Call in the Experts


If you’re confident your Company Page and job posts are in good shape but still struggling to find the marketing expertise you need, you’re not alone.


But the bottom line is that top marketers are extremely busy and extremely picky, and most employers don’t really understand the best way to get their attention.


Chronically struggling to bring in top marketers through LinkedIn or elsewhere? Never forget; you can always turn to experienced social media marketing recruiters with a proven track record of success to find the talent you need.



Source: B2C

Biggest Social Media Mistakes That Can Get You Fired

Tumisu / Pixabay


There are many benefits of using social media such as connecting with friends and family who live far away or following the news and latest trends. However, if you misuse it, it can get you in trouble and destroy your whole career.


  • Making an Offensive Comment: Never post something racist, sexist or offensive. Remember, in 2013 Justine Sacco tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” before boarding a plane from New York to South Africa for her trip. By the time she landed in South Africa, she found out that she was already fired from her job at IAC. There are numerous examples similar to this one. Therefore, think twice before you post something to social media because it can go viral in seconds and can cost you your entire career.

  • Posting on a “Sick” Day: Everybody can have days that they don’t want to work and especially if the weather is nice, you may want to go to a park or a beach to relax and have some fun. Also, during the week when everybody is at work, these kinds of places are usually less crowded enabling you to enjoy your time more. Therefore, sometimes you may want to call in sick and skip work to go outside. However, the biggest mistake you can do is to take your pictures on a park, beach, etc. in your “sick” day and post them online instantly. Just hold off on them until the weekend and if you use your “sick” day with your friends, tell your friends not to tag you or not to post any pictures of you online. Otherwise, if your coworkers see that you are using your “sick” day having fun instead of spending at home resting, you may get the pink slip the next day.

  • Job Searching from Work: Don’t make your job search public. Don’t make your LinkedIn profile title “Open for new opportunities” or don’t tweet to headhunters. Keep your job search to yourself. At least, use direct messaging tools. Also, don’t search for a new job at work because IT may monitor your computer or one of your coworkers can accidentally see from your monitor that you are searching for a new job when s/he is passing by around your desk. Then, s/he can tell this news to your boss and your boss may think that you are not happy in your current job and may take steps to let you go immediately. No one likes an employee who is not committed to his/her employer.


Source: B2C

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

How to Flag Questionable Online Reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp

Online authority is the backbone of a company’s reputation. A business with an impeccable track record among its customers and community is a strong contender for the position of industry leader and trendsetter.


When a business does right by their customers, their reputation improves. But even the best businesses can end up being the victim of questionable online reviews.


A study by the Harvard Business School found that 20% of Yelp reviews are fake, a number that would concern any small business owner.


Having questionable reviews removed, ones that do not accurately reflect the business is essential to maintaining an appealing reputation.


What exactly qualifies as a ‘questionable review’?



When we say ‘questionable’, we mean fake or otherwise invalid. Business owners need to understand that a negative assessment doesn’t instantly qualify the review as fake.


A legitimate negative review can be a tough pill to swallow. It’s easy to become defensive or dismissive, even when the customer had a valid poor experience. How business owners handle valid negative reviews provides a glimpse into the business culture. The public back and forth will influence future customers.


Even if you don’t end up getting the upset reviewer to remove their negative review, showing that you’re aware of their problem and trying to make things right will be enough to protect your reputation.


Assuming that doesn’t work, you can encourage more members of your community to leave reviews of their experiences.


The easiest way to hide negative reviews is to overshadow them with positive ones.


That said, a negative review and a fake one aren’t treated the same way by platforms like Yelp, Google and Facebook.


Review the ToS (Terms of Service)



Let’s assume that you’ve already tried to reason with the reviewer. If that went poorly, your next option is to determine whether or not the review violates the ToS of the site. When it comes to negative reviews, even the most scathing one won’t get taken down unless it violates the Terms of Service (ToS) of the site.


Each individual site has their own ToS agreement, but what’s important to understand is that as long as the review operates within the limitations of that agreement, it’s not going anywhere. Unless a review actually violates the ToS of one of these platforms, the chances of it actually being taken down are pretty low.


Google:



Google reviews don’t just influence the online authority of businesses in an abstract ‘word-of-mouth’ way. Sites like Moz have determined that online reviews account for 13% of how Google (and other search engines) decide to rank search results. In other words, those questionable reviews can actually convince Google to keep you further and further away from the coveted first page of Google.


Considering the impact that Google reviews can have on the average small business owner’s online reputation and overall business, it only makes sense that we’d address this first.


The very first step is for business owners to review Google’s review policies. If a review is found to be in violation of them, it can be removed from Google My Business listings. For example:


  • Advertising: Reviews that directly advertise something else (adding links to other websites or phone numbers).

  • Spam: Promotional/Commercial content, reviewers posting the same content multiple times.

  • Off-Topic Reviews: Posts based off of someone else’s experience, or that aren’t about the specific place being reviewed.

  • Keeping it Clean: Obscene, profane or otherwise offensive language. Personal attacks on others can also be considered in violation of this policy.

  • Conflict of Interest: Anyone accepting money to leave a review or a review written by a competitor.

  • Hate Speech: Reviews that advocate against people based on their race, religion, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation, veteran status or gender identity.

You get the idea. Anything that’s under one of these policies qualifies to be removed.


Yelp:



Over the years, Yelp has become one of the most influential review sites in the industry.


Considering that this was the site that Harvard Business School cited as having 20% fake reviews, you’re more likely to encounter the fake review scenario on Yelp. Just like with Google, a review can only be taken down if the review violates Yelp’s Content Guidelines.


While reporting a review doesn’t guarantee that it will end up being removed, there are a few policies in place to make sure inappropriate reviews aren’t up on the site. More specifically:


  • The Reviewer has an Apparent Conflict of Interest: Competitors or former employees, received payment for review, are promoting another business.

  • The Review doesn’t focus on the Reviewer’s Own Consumer Experience: Review is about another consumer’s experience, a response to a current event in the news, disputing another Yelp review, about another business or is plagiarized from another source.

  • The Review Includes Inappropriate Material: The review contains hate speech, lewd commentary or threatening language.

  • The Review Contains False Information: Contains statements that are materially and demonstrably false (not opinion).

Facebook:



The fact that Facebook is already integrated into the lives of millions of people is precisely the reason why business owners need to be aware of how and when to handle questionable Facebook reviews.


A review can only be reported on Facebook if it doesn’t follow Facebook’s Community Standards.


Here are a few of the things that aren’t allowed on Facebook:


  • Nudity or other sexually suggestive content

    Hate speech, credible threats or direct attacks on an individual or group

  • Content that contains self-harm or excessive violence

  • Fake or impostor profiles

  • Spam

How to Flag a Fake Review



Once you’ve exhausted all your options, and you’re sure that this review, in particular, violates the site’s ToS, you can take the final step of flagging/reporting the review.


It’s by no means a definite solution, seeing as how each site needs to perform their own investigation, but it can be an effective method of removing reviews — assuming they’re actually fake (or otherwise invalid).


Google:



According to Google themselves:


To flag a review for removal:


  1. Navigate to Google Maps.

  2. Search for your business using its name or address.

  3. Select your business from the search results.

  4. In the panel on the left, scroll to the “Review summary” section.

  5. Under the average rating, click [number of] reviews.

Google Review Summary


6. Scroll to the review you’d like to flag and click the flag icon .

7. Complete the form in the window that appears and click Submit.


Keep in mind that it can take several days for a review to be assessed by Google, so don’t try to contact the support team right after you flag the review.


Google Review Flag


Yelp:



As Yelp puts it themselves:


1. Locate the review in the Reviews section of your business account

2. Find the flag icon and click Report this review:


Yelp Flag


Once completed, Yelp’s moderators will evaluate the review and email the business with their decision.


Facebook:



Once you’ve determined that the review violates Facebook’s Community Standards, Facebook has an extremely simple process from there on out:


Flag Facebook


Once that’s handled, your report will be reviewed by Facebook and they may potentially remove the review if it doesn’t follow their guidelines.


Conclusion



Dealing with the fallout of a negative review is never fun. But no business owner should be subject to a fake review. In the age of digital media, a negative review or two can have serious consequences for business owners. If you suspect a review is somehow invalid, inform the review site and make them aware that the review is questionable.



Source: B2C

The Small-Business Benefits of Going Paperless


The concept of a paperless office can sound downright strange. For many people in business, paper has been a constant, and a typical reaction might be, “Of course there’s paper. Documents must be filed, receipts and records must be stored, important forms must be protected.”


But some small business owners are moving on without it, relying on digital files to replace the old traditional methods of keeping piles of paper around.


It’s not a move that every business can make, and there are certainly pros and cons to it. Businesses will need to maximize security of digital files, and ensure that there are backups so that vital information isn’t lost in a computer crash or other mishap.


The benefits can be significant, however. Here’s a look at how going paperless can help small businesses.


Cost benefits


Small business owners may find themselves in a constant search for expense reductions. Since businesses can struggle to gain a foothold in the early stages, it could be smart to give serious consideration to options that help the bottom line. Moves that harm the overall product or staffing are a last resort, but giving up paper may make some sense. Alyssa Gregory includes this in a story for The Balance.


“Think about how much you spend each month on paper, ink, postage and other supplies that support a paper-heavy office,” she writes. “Then, consider the space it takes to store all of your physical supplies and actual documents. It can be quite costly. Over time, going paperless could result in huge savings for your small business.”


It frees up physical space


Consider the amount of paper in a typical office, and then consider it all going away. Long-running businesses may have an abundance of cabinets, boxes and storerooms full of documents. If all that is digitized, it frees up all that room. And for a small business owner just getting started, avoiding that buildup from the beginning can go toward being more productive and efficient. In a story for Inc.com, Larry Alton writes, “One sheet of paper may not take up a ton of space, but tens of thousands of pages certainly do.”


“Over the years, businesses can accrue boxes and boxes of files,” he explains. “These files have to go somewhere; they ultimately end up overcrowding office space (which isn’t cheap). By going paperless, a firm can free up closets, boardrooms, and even entire offices. Digital files, on the other hand, take no physical space on your premises at all. They’re stored remotely and accessible from anywhere, which means you no longer have to waste overhead on physical file storage.”


Environmental benefits


People can debate environmental issues all day long (and they do). For a small business owner looking to go paperless, it could be useful to keep one thing in mind that simplifies the issue: Paper equals trees, and therefore reducing the use of paper is better for the environment. Ben Zimmer explores this in a story for Entrepreneur:


“The U.S., with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, consumes more than 30 percent of the world’s paper. Reducing the amount of paper we use reduces greenhouse gases and conserves natural resources, but it can also reduce business costs.”


Time saved


The cost and space advantages are among the first things that come to mind with a paperless office, but time can be a factor as well. Anything that makes a business more efficient can be a great benefit, freeing up time that is wasted on everyday tasks. Chuck Cohn explores this idea in a story for Forbes.


“Think about this: 123 years of National Geographic magazine with high resolution photos, or over 1,400 issues, can be stored on just one flash drive,” he explains. “Paperless filing can easily reduce long-term storage costs for your company, as well as allow you to access information near instantaneously.”


Improved flexibility


The introduction of cloud technology has made going paperless much more feasible in recent years. It can also make working from multiple locations easier. And as Alton writes, it allows a business to be more flexible in regards to file access. His example:


“Let’s say your business is located in New York City and you’re meeting with a top client in Los Angeles. On Friday afternoon, you’re discussing a project with the client and need to refer to a specific file that’s back at the office. You call the office and suddenly remember that it’s 7 p.m. on the East Coast. You’re out of luck! You’ll have to wait until Monday morning to get the file, or ask one of your employees to head in on Saturday morning to help you out. Very inconvenient on both fronts.”


The access that a paperless office can bring could solve this problem, Alton writes:


“ … All you’d have to do is log into your cloud account, search for the file, and show the client. The convenience of being a paperless operation can save a lot of trouble with regard to logistics and geography.”


Improved security


No business owner wants to ponder a document-related disaster. Relying on digital files helps to ease some of these concerns, though there will be plenty of precautions required to ensure security, and that backup copies of crucial information are available. Alton examines this in his Inc.com piece.


“Storing documents in the cloud is safer than keeping sensitive files in an office,” he writes. “Digital documents are encrypted and protected by numerous layers of security, and access can be restricted to only a few individuals. Furthermore, digital files don’t run the risk of getting lost due to theft or fire, which are occasional occurrences for small businesses.”


Consider the transition process


Granted, going paperless isn’t a simple task. It may turn out to be a large project that requires a great deal of planning, along with extensive training to ensure that everyone is on board. Additional software can be required, along with secure methods of file storage, as Cohn explains in his Forbes piece.


“Paperless companies require more digital storage than traditional businesses, which comes at modest extra expense,” he writes. “Cloud storage — like Dropbox, for example — can carry a subscription fee. There is also the cost of converting existing paperwork. This may involve scanning important items or utilizing document creation software to develop digital counterparts for contracts, terms of service, time sheets, etc. If you intend to scan paperwork, consider optical character recognition software, which turns hard-copy documents into computer-searchable text.”



Source: B2C

Attract Shoppers with the Sights, Sounds, and Scents of the Holidays

It’s not too early to be planning for the holiday shopping season. The right sights, sounds and smells will keep shoppers happy and cash registers ringing this year.


Key Focus: Many businesses rely on holiday sales to put them in the black (hence the day-after-Thanksgiving sale promotion,’Black Friday’) But is your business prepared for the season with effective retail displays, nostalgic overhead music for business and even a holiday scent marketing plan? If not, here are some tips to make your holiday shopping season merry and bright.


It’s beginning to look, sound, and smell a lot like Christmas! Or at least it should be. No kidding. In the “good old days” of retailing, Thanksgiving kicked off the Christmas shopping season, but times have changed. It’s a perennial complaint of Christmas curmudgeons and exasperated consumers that “the shopping season starts earlier every year!” and they’re right.But are you ready for the holiday shopping season? Is your


One year, venerable British retailer, Harrods, kicked off the season early in July with an “only 149 shopping days left” until Christmas promotion.


Retailers are rushing the season for a reason: it increases revenue. Shoppers say they’re annoyed, but early season displays move merchandise and move it early in the season, before deep markdowns normally take place.


If you don’t already have your holiday plans in place, start today. Make sure to include three key components of the customer experience: sight, sound, and smell.


It Looks Like Christmas


Have your merchandise placement and holiday decoration displays planned down to the square inch. It’s more important than you may think.


  • Merchandise displays: There’s a whole consulting industry devoted to store layouts for a reason. Academic studies show that strategic placement of holiday items can also affect the sales success of regular store merchandise. Where you place your stock can be just as important to sales as the items themselves.

  • Holiday decorations: For brevity’s sake, we’re using the term “Christmas decorations” but keep in mind that other days are also celebrated at the end of the year. They run the gamut from religious holidays to secular celebrations. A few examples include: Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid al-Adha, Kwanza, Solstice, and New Year’s.

Almost a third of small retailers depend on holiday sales to stay in business, so make sure your holiday offerings, decorations, and store layout are attractive and appropriate for all your customers.


It Sounds Like Christmas


Overhead music for business sets the mood for a store or restaurant, and bad music can seriously underwhelm your customers. Studies show that shoppers are more likely to linger in an establishment if they’re enjoying the music, and that goes double during the holiday shopping season. At Christmas, the “soundtrack of shopping” is a strategy that helps keep those cash registers singing right along with your customers:


Christmas music can help people remember a simpler, less hectic time even if things were never really simpler or less hectic, says Michael Paoletta, “The classic holiday songs are comforting, like hearing from an old friend,” he says. “People have emotional ties to the classics.”


In-store music for business is important, but don’t forget the importance of updated on hold music and messages. Tailor them for individual holidays and specific promotions and be ready with something new for each holiday and season.


It Smells Like Christmas


As the seasons change, the environment doesn’t just look different: it smells different too. The sense of smell is so basic that we’re often not even aware of how scents affect our memories and emotions. Numerous marketing studies show the scents present in stores, bars, and restaurants not only affect the mood of customers, but their buying habits as well.


With that in mind, include plan a scent marketing component along with sight and sound in your holiday marketing plan. You’ll be providing something shoppers can’t get online: an enjoyable, memorable experience that touches the senses.



Source: B2C

5 Qualities of a Rockstar Sales Rep

geralt / Pixabay


The sales department is an essential element of every business. It generates revenue and plays a crucial role in overall business success. This is exactly why recruiters are always on the lookout for individuals who have the skills to attract new clients and bring more profit.


In order to be a successful sales rep, you need to learn how to dominate the world of sales. In other words, you need to have the following five qualities that the most successful sales reps possess.


Product Knowledge


Nothing is worse than a sales rep who doesn’t have knowledge in the industry. No matter what you are selling, you need to know your product and industry backwards and forwards. Many sales agents try to wing it, but you’re mistaken if you think your potential clients don’t see through you. Even a few minutes of preparation and research can make the world of difference in making a good impression on a client.


In addition, you need to make sure you are thinking about how you add value to your customers in every transaction. Instead of sounding likes a salesperson, be more like a partner in their business.


Customer Focus


Customers are everything. Your efforts should revolve around the potential customer in front of you. This is especially true if you sell to small companies. Many small business owners only want to work with suppliers who are willing to partner with them on a project, so now is the time to show them that your product or service is what they need. Bringing industry data and other information is a great way to show you are prepared and care about their future in business.


Organization


If you are going to succeed in sales, you need to learn how to leverage technology to help you stay organized and productive. With the right tech, you can spend more time improving your sales techniques and attracting prospects – and less on reporting and data management.


Try using Slack to stay in touch with your colleagues and clients, TripIt for your itinerary and OneDrive for cloud storage. If that’s one app too many, see if your company has purchased the MS Office 365 license. This is a household name that recognized the needs of dispersed mobile teams.


Your clients will appreciate working with you a lot more if you show you’re able to stay organized, punctual and make sure their needs are met.


Passion


Without a doubt, passion is a vital character trait needed in sales or in any business for that matter. You cannot expect success and progress unless you are excited about the product or the service that you are selling and the variety of individuals you come across.


With all of the options that your customers have today, you need to show that you are honest and passionate about what you are selling. Passion is infectious and it shows on your face whether you have it or not.


You need to show you understand the product or service you’re offering and are excited to share it with others, help individuals and businesses grow their sales and profits. As mentioned earlier, showing partner mentality is key.


Confidence


Finally, have confidence in yourself and what you’re selling. There will be days when you struggle to make one single sale. Keep in mind that the great ones have failed as well. But, they became successful leaders by having the confidence to get back up.


Approaching sales with the “anyone-can-do-it” mentality could backfire before you know it. People have tried it and quit after a while, because they couldn’t get a pitch accepted. Use rejection as a learning tool for future opportunities, identify areas for self-improvement and you will build a rich portfolio in no time.


Final Thoughts


Generally speaking, the success of your company largely depends on their marketing and sales department. There’s a market for quality salespeople and if you are ready to take your career to new heights, delve deep into your character, be honest and recognize what to improve. Above all, always keep the passion burning.



Source: B2C

How to Create a Winning Summer Sale (A Step by Step Walkthrough)

How to Create a Winning Summer Sale (A Step by Step Walkthrough)


Need a bit of help with your next online marketing promotion?


Want to run a summer sale but not sure how to maximize the chance of success?


According to web analytics firm RJMetrics, sales for ecommerce businesses decline by 30% in July (from a high in December).


So what can you do about it?


This article will break down a complete strategy for running a summer sale for your online store.


I’ll create a hypothetical campaign – based around 50% off women’s sandals – show you how to set up your landing page and popups, break down Facebook Ad design and targeting, and give some email templates you can use to turn interested, prospective customers into buyers.


Everything you need to know to get the most from a summer promotion.


Create an Optimized Sale Page:



Your first stop is your website developer or, even better, a landing page tool.


When creating a summer sale, you want to focus prospective customers on that sale, not anything else.


Distraction (in the form of too many links or multiple offers) will do nothing more than drop conversion rates.


As a result, design a page which limits your visitor’s options. Ideally something like this:


How to Create a Winning Summer Sale (A Step by Step Walkthrough)


Create an Exit-Intent Popup to Get More Out of Your Traffic:



Next, hedge your bets with an exit-intent popup specific to this campaign.


The best way to turn prospective customers into paying customers is with an incentive (like the promotion we’re running here).


But not everyone’s going to take advantage of your seasonal promotion. And in the eventuality that they leave (say… 90% of them) an exit-intent popup will appear, prompting them to subscribe in order to get exclusive discounts and first access to promotions.


Again, I put something together with Wishpond’s popup builder in a few minutes (notice that, stylistically, it matches the product page it appears on. This continuity is crucial):


How to Create a Winning Summer Sale (A Step by Step Walkthrough)


Advertise on Facebook



Alright, we have a campaign-specific product page and a campaign-specific exit-intent popup. Now we just need to send some traffic there.


I should absolutely notify my current email list of this promotion. Ideally I’ll already have a segment in my email marketing tool which is comprised of women who might be interested in summer sandals.


But those people have already bought from me. I’d like to drive new customers with this summer campaign.


As a result, I need to set up an ad campaign.


If you have any questions about Facebook Advertising, check out my free resource The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads.


Let’s take a look at the Facebook Ad I put together for the 50%-off women’s sandals summer campaign:


The Facebook Ad:


How to Create a Winning Summer Sale (A Step by Step Walkthrough)


Notice that the image itself is very simple, and the border eye-catching. The border also matches the color-scheme of my product page and exit-intent popup.


I’ve put the value of my offer front and center (as well as the limited-time element). This is best practice.


The Facebook Ad Audience:


How to Create a Winning Summer Sale (A Step by Step Walkthrough)


For this Facebook Ad, I’ve set a daily budget of $40 (though it’s unlikely to reach even half that). I’ve targeted women in my target demographic (22 – 55) within the US (where my hypothetical company ships).


Facebook also enables me to exclusively show this ad to women who have previously bought shoes online.


I could also target by women who have clicked the “Shop Now” CTA on a Facebook Ad in the past week – indicating they’re active online shoppers.


I could also target far more broadly by including all women in my demographic, to see which strategy works best.


If Facebook’s estimated reach is even remotely accurate I can expect roughly 7,500 impressions/ad views a day. If .5% of those click through to my product page, and 10% of those people buy my product (with an average order value of $40), I’ll get a 200% ROI from this campaign even with the 50% discount.


Create Follow-up Emails To Turn Contacts into Sales



So I have a 90% bounce-rate from my product page, but my exit-intent popup is converting about 3% of those people. So I need to create a strategy which turns those new contacts into sales.


So that requires two things: 1) An email marketing tool and 2) Segmentation.


And luckily, I already have an email marketing tool (Wishpond) and the campaign-specific popup I created is an effective way to segment your leads.


My first action would be to create a workflow (still within Wishpond) which sends people who convert on that popup to a specific segment as well as my general subscriber segment. That’d look like this…


How to Create a Winning Summer Sale (A Step by Step Walkthrough)How to Create a Winning Summer Sale (A Step by Step Walkthrough)


Then I’d send the segment three emails over the course of the next 10 days:


Email #1:


Time Delay: 4 Days


Email #2:


Subject: Check out a style guide from fashion guru Mimi Banks!


Hey there!


Check out this style guide from our good friend (and my personal fashion hero) Mimi banks!


In this guide, Mimi breaks down her footwear do’s and dont’s for summer.


Jen, Customer support at Hipson.com


Time Delay: 4 Days, 1 Hour


Email #3:


Subject: 48 hours left to take advantage of free shipping!


Hey there!


Just wanted to remind you that our free shipping coupon code (exclusive to new email subscribers) expires in less than 48 hours.


Remember, that coupon code is [LIST2178]. Just paste it into the prompted box upon checkout.


Any questions, just let me know!


Jen, Customer support at Hipson.com


Wrapping it Up



Does all that make sense?


This strategy – a promotion, exit-popup, ad campaign and follow-up emails – is everything you need in a campaign, and all of it can be done (with a bit of practice) by the most beginner of online marketers.


Feel free to copy any or all of the steps I’ve provided above. Steal away!


And let me know if you have any questions or comments. I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.



Source: B2C