Monthly Archives: September 2010

Five questions you should ask before promoting or redesigning your website

If you’re anything like me, you don’t have a lot of time to spend on websites that can’t quickly and easily communicate what they’re about.

Here are five things you should check on your website before you spend any more time promoting it or in advance of a redesign. If you can’t subjectively view your site through the eyes of a customer, ask your partner, mother, neighbour instead. Do it today, the results might surprise you.

1. Can I identify who the company is if I enter the site on any page? This will often happen through search. Prominent logos and strap lines should appear on every page.

2. What does the company do and what does the website offer me? What information, downloads, transactional opportunities exist for me?

3. What can I do now that I’m here? What action prompts are in place – can I watch a video, open a brochure, sign up/register, visit a blog or news page, visit a store?

4. Where I can get started? Which elements from the above can I start looking at now? (Holiday and hotel sites are adept at encouraging instant search in their navigation).

5. Why should I stay? What benefit can this site / business provide for me?

If you’ve just discovered you’re in the business of ‘total integrated efficient streamlined solutions’ you probably  don’t need me to outline the damage this messaging has been doing to your business over time. You’re not alone. The good news though, is that you can do something about it right now.

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Top Tweets of the Week (24 Sept 2010)

Week two of my Top Tweets of the Week. Hope they inspire your thinking as they have me. Enjoy.

Monday: 6 great ways to enliven your presentation Sourced from @PaulSloane

Monday: 10 B2B Social Media Case Studies and Examples Sourced from @smb2b

Tuesday: Brian Solis The implications of socialisation of business Sourced from http://www.briansolis.com

Tuesday:  Seths blog The Forever Recession Sourced from @ThisIsSethsBlog

Wednesday: Slideshare presentation : Social Media for Branding

Thursday: Interesting YouTube video: B2b marketing is changing

Friday: 7 Steps to Increasing The Impact Of Your Business or Corporate Blog Sourced from @DaveChaffey, @smartinsights

Remembering who you work for

The peculiar practices in some markets can often leave us thinking that companies don’t always have their customers in the forefront of their minds.

This seems a strange thing to say but we see it day in, day out. Product/service led companies create something and then try to push it onto a market segment they think will benefit from it. They have an agenda to sell as many widgets, insurance policies, after care plans as possible and work diligently to achieve that objective.

Take the residential property market. Estate agents are contracted by a property owner to sell a property for the best possible price. Normally on a % commission of the final selling price, it stands to reason that it is in the agent’s interest to secure the best possible price. In most cases they have also advised on the price they property should list for.

But this is rarely the case. In fact, rather than working to achieve the best possible price and a win-win for themselves and their customer, some work their contact list, encouraging interesting parties to view and then make any offer below the price requested.

This is reinforced by the advice found on the nation’s favourite property TV shows, dedicated property channels and websites, where there is now a prevailing tendency towards never offering the full asking price.

The lesson: Remember who you work for. Don’t act like an estate agent!

Why? They don’t have their customers – the sellers who write the commission cheque – foremost in their mind. They chase the fast, easy buck, they rail road people into viewing properties they don’t necessarily want to view, and they create the disconnect between asking price and offer price.

Harsh? Maybe. But grounded in experience. Have your say?

Marketing Metrics 9: Micro blogging

One of the liveliest and often most polarising marketing debates centres around the relevance of Twitter for marketers. Like most social media tools, Twitter was establishing as a personal networking tool, but brands are trying to use the platform to understand and engage with customers.

What is true about Twitter is its addictiveness. If you adopt a ‘have a go’ approach, expect to spend a huge amount of time but probably garner precious little return – either in investment or involvement terms.

For fairly obvious reasons (and like other marketing tools) use it strategically and to add value or inform your understanding of your target audiences. Sounds complicated and overly dramatic but if you fancy getting your tweet on, consider the following:

1. Personal v business

People still predominantly engage with people. Corporate brands don’t tend to do terribly well on Twitter (though there are frequently cited examples of retail and customer service from Dell_Outlet and Zappos). Corporate accounts can be used to source and find information and insight but arguably little engagement. In my view, unless you already have brand magnetism (like a magazine, website, news resource or consumer brand) it is best to set up a Twitter account with an actual personal identity. It gives people something to engage with. A corporate account will inevitably follow a broadcast rather than an engagement model.

2. Selling v engaging

Businesses have to sell to make money. So be clear – decide if you are selling, if so what, and if so what is the value proposition for Twitter followers. Don’t build an audience following interesting tweets, quotes, comments and insights and then when you have them, hit them with sales collateral. Why? They’ll drop you. If you are going to sell, build in pricing related to time sensitivity – like early bird course bookings which work well in the event sector. Accept that your attempts to build an audience will be more difficult, but you will at least have an interested niche audience.

3. Follows v followers

Conventional Twitter wisdom suggests that if you follow 100 people, 50 may follow you back. This is often how businesses get started. By association. So use Twitter search or look up lists that other people create (@MarketingB2B is one of my personal favourites). You might blast follow lots of like-minded accounts and hope they follow back. Or simply follow those you like the look of. Over time you can use tools like Twinfluence to remove those who aren’t following you – if you are Machiavellian in outlook.

4. To retweet or not to retweet

Depending on the content of your tweets, you’ll pick up followers regularly. Retweeting things you like is the best and fastest way to building a profile and developing influential contacts. You become an information resource to people who haven’t got the time to plough through it all themselves.

5. Metrics

Metrics relating to social media and Twitter specifically cover a broad range from insignificant to significant. My advice. Look beyond follows, retweets etc and consider your wider influence. Is activity on Twitter integrated with other platforms such as your blog, website or YouTube account? Can you see a tangible uplift in newsletter subscriptions, white paper downloads or incredulously, leads?

Monitoring tools like Klout (which has found its way into Hootsuite) exist to give a score based on activity around your profile. I view them with scorn as they are easy to manipulate. If you have way more followers than you are following, succeed in getting your tweets retweeted, receive lots of @ messages then you are likely to have a high influence score. I’ve seen people with 200 followers, sending 5,000 inane tweets have influence scores 50+/100. Is that influence? I’m not convinced.

Here is a metrics-cloud I created drawing on a number of resources, not least Jim Sterne’s excellent Social Media Metrics. Jim compiles a list of over 100 at the outset if you really want to get stuck into it. What it highlights to me is that there are so many ways of determining how investment of time in social media can be measured – and some of them are actually worthwhile!!

Summary

Twitter works for me. I’m in it for the long haul. At this stage I’m not really selling, I’m profile building. I integrate it with other sites for content and use it broadcast my blog and share those I respect from Google Reader feeds.

What has this taught me? A lesson about Twitter, wider marketing and life perhaps. Think through what you’re doing and ensure you are getting something out of it. And, if you are considering it for business, think even harder. Set objectives and a way of measuring the time spent – whilst return on investment might be difficult, return on involvement can certainly be achieved.

Top Tweets of the Week (17 Sept 2010)

As I get an enormous amount of useful information from people I follow on Twitter, every Friday I’m going to try and provide my Top 5 Tweets of the Week. Regular readers might view it as a bit of a kop out, but hey, it’s a Friday! There will still be 2-3 other great and insightful posts through the week.

As you’ve come to expect on this blog, Top Tweets will cover the areas of marketing, digital marketing, business and personal and professional development.

Monday: 29 Essential Social Media Resources You May Have Missed Sourced from @CIMWorldwide: via @mashsocialmedia @mashable

Tuesday: Like reading b2b marketing blogs? Here are 344 to choose from Sourced from @GalenDY Proteus B2B

Wednesday: Seth’s Blog: Self-delusion and self-loathing Sourced from @ThisIsSethsBlog

Thursday: Interesting view on content curation – the quick way to blogging Sourced from @smexaminer

Thursday: Ten ways to re-energise your blog Sourced from @smb2b

And a special mention to @brookhouse for The Andrew L Daily from Tuesday  ▸ featuring Marketing Metrics 8: Email marketing as a feature story.

A great example of content curation and blogging in action! I’m looking at paper.li distribution as a result!

Hope they all inspire you as they have me.

The b2b social media challenge – is this you?

Change, by its very nature, isn’t easy. Humans are programmed to resist. So, convincing a manager or business owner of the benefits in moving from controlling and broadcasting your message to operating in a more engaging and sharing way takes guts and self belief.

Social media is in fact a horrible catch-all umbrella term. It does little for b2b marketers who work in professional markets, so it is best to start small and start focused.

Don’t waste time setting up Facebook pages and Twitter feeds if, for example, you sell valves and seals through an international distribution network (though over time having accounts aids search engine optimisation). Instead, opt for Linkedin to build your profile, join groups and forums and position as an expert in the issues that arise out of valve disfunction.

Consider submitting news and opinion releases and posting responses on prominent industry news sites. Over time this might provide opportunities to produce white papers and open up speaker opportunities using the latest webinar technology. With video accounting for around 50% of all Internet search, use YouTube to host a video channel dedicated to showing why your products, services and people are best in class.

This is all social media – relevant to b2b – but without jumping on the Facebook/Foursquare bandwagon. Taking a focused approach will give your business a more enriched online presence, placing it where your audiences are more likely to congregate. As importantly, it positions you as an innovative lynchpin to your organisation, as you enable the company to reach out to potential customers hitherto unreachable.

Image from Dilbert.com

Marketing Metrics 8: Email marketing

I read some statistics in preparing this blog that suggested 90 trillion emails were sent in 2009, and approximately 86% of them were spam. (Pingdom). Bad day in the office for the guy counting, but it is a staggering number if it’s even remotely correct.

If you have a glass half empty outlook, that’s going to put you right off email marketing. But if you’re a glass half full person, these numbers imply rather a lot were still well targeted and well propositioned to recipients interested in what they had to say.

Email remains a great way to make and stay in touch with a range of audiences and it can provide powerful insight into how your brand is perceived, the messages you want to convey, and the design and offers you make – if you take the time to assess the data.

Determining whether you use your email for acqusition, retention or relationship marketing will determine what you say, to who, how and when. This drives your metrics. There are lots of things that can be monitored and measured when it comes to email marketing (open, bounce rate, unsubscribes, time of day, number of unique clicks, number of repeat clicks, number of forwards) but there is only one metric that matters. You want click-through to your website. That’s where the engagement truly starts. Don’t get caught up in the numbers.

This isn’t an email masterclass (though there may be one in 2011), but if you want traffic generated from email click through, consider the following:

1. Audience need – we’ve moved away from monthly and quarterly broadcast communications and can now easily deliver bespoke content for different segmented lists. Sending the same communication to customers and prospects is plain lazy.

2. Design – the email needs to work without images, have a solid spam-filter friendly title, be sent from a reputable email address (not ‘donotreply’), contain an ‘if you can’t see this, click here’ link and an ‘unsubscribe’ button.

3. Message – different audiences are after different things and the content and tone should be tailored accordingly

4. Automation – the best emails are event triggered, whether by a transaction, a shipment or delivery update, an update on stock or a new price/offer, an anniversary or an abandoned basket. Amazon are the gold standard in internet business cross-sell and up-sell, but any business can adopt elements if considered.

A case study

I get regular emails from the shirt maker TM Lewin. Well I did until I unsubscribed. I like their shirts and the way they have used digital channels to promote their products (interesting YouTube channel). But they essentially make the same ‘4 shirts for £100/£90’ and ‘suit for £179’ offer on a weekly basis. And despite creative changes, this has been pumped out to their database (and me) for over a year.

I queried it with them on Twitter saying when you offer product at the same price consistently, it isn’t an offer anymore. They weren’t interested in taking honest and constructive customer feedback, saying it was working fine for now and they weren’t planning on changing it.

Which is fine, but that lack of regard for my transactional history and needs means my next shirt will probably come from Charles Tyrwhitt and for now TM Lewin have lost me to an untargeted, lazy and short term broadcast email strategy.

Image Keyzo