Stand Out from the Crowd and Get Your Business Noticed

Whatever niche your business is in, it’s almost an absolute guarantee that there are at least a dozen other businesses within the same sector.

Competition is a natural part of running any business.

If you can’t find a way to stand out, then those competitors are going to acquire the consumers that otherwise would have been your customers.

Here are six methods to help your business stand out like a diamond in the rough.

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How to use customer feedback to improve online conversions

Research shows that 69% of online visitors are leaving your ordering funnels without completing the order. However, increasing conversions with only one percent can mean huge increases in new leads, revenues and profit.

Unfortunately, many digital marketers are not leveraging the power of customer feedback to increase online sales, despite 38% of customers being willing to give feedback after a negative experience (Temkin, 2013).

When it comes to measuring feedback from your website and converting interest into sales it can appear to be a very complicated process indeed.

Certainly on a technical level this is a very accurate observation, developing software systems to achieve this is not for beginners.

However, the basic principles of introducing the right solution to increase online sales with customer feedback are remarkably simple and straightforward.

When people ask me about the basic needs of any approach I like to use the analogy of the three pillars, namely:

  1. Collect feedback
  2. Feedback analysis and reporting
  3. Going from insights to action

At the most basic level that is the whole process! Every approach needs to cover these three points but I believe introducing anything extra at this stage is unnecessary and potentially distracting from the task at hand.

Here are my tips for all three stages:

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Product Recommendation Technology in Email Marketing

This is a guest article from Ian Roderick, Communications Manager for email marketing software provider Newsletter2Go.

 The goal should be to make every email relevant to everyone who receives it.

You’re not going to fool anyone by sending mass email blasts to your entire list. Emails that aren’t relevant will be deleted without being opened. And if you do it too often, your contacts will start unsubscribing from your newsletter entirely.

The key is to get relevant content to the right people at the right time.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already intuitively doing this by segmenting your contacts into lists, and sending separate emails to the different lists with different content, products, or offers.

The Future of Email Marketing

But the next big step in email marketing is coming onto the market, and will start being available to more and more small businesses and marketers.

I’m talking about automated product recommendation technology made specifically for email marketers.

Based on certain parameters – which products a customer has viewed, purchased, or what other customers have viewed and purchased – a product recommendation is automatically generated.

Big brands like Amazon have been doing this for a while already, but they use their own propriety recommendation engine, which aren’t available to the rest of us.

As the technology has developed, a number of recommendation engines technologies have come onto the market for small and medium sized businesses – those without the resources to develop their own technology.

In the email marketing world, this is really exciting. Why? Because in theory, you’ll be able to send every single one of your contacts a totally unique email.

The email marketing provider builds a recommendation technology into our software. This means you import contacts, create newsletters, and send them as normal – with the added option of including automatically generated product recommendations within the email.

The contact lists, the sending infrastructure – all that’s the same. The only change is that recipients receive a custom, targeted email recommendation.

How it Works in Email Marketing

Basically, the way it will work is this. A product recommendation engine will be embedded on your website. It will track user behavior – which products they’ve been looking at, which they’ve put in their shopping cart, which they’ve previously bought – and hold on to that data.

The newsletters that you send will all contain a product recommendation block. When the contact opens the email, the recommendation technology will fill that block with a custom recommendation based on that user’s behavior on your website.

Think about that. You’ve created one newsletter, but all of your 10,000 subscribers see a different one. The power of your communication has grown by orders of magnitude.

Leverage Product Recommendations to Send Better Emails

Use automated product recommendation engines to send effective newsletters that increase engagement and drive sales:

Shopping Cart Abandons – According to Nosto, around 70% of shopping carts are abandoned prior to checkout. This is frustrating, but also represents an opportunity.

You know your users are interested in the product, they just haven’t made that last step yet. Step in with an automated email including the products they’ve left in their carts, as well as a few releated products that they might be interested in.

Post-order follow-ups – Turn one-time purchasers into people who come back again and again. Send emails a day or two after they’ve ordered or had their package delivered with products that other people, who’ve bought that product, have also bought.

We miss you – use the browsing history to remind them of the products that they’ve looked at, and get them back onto your site.

Welcome emails – Use unique identifying information from customers or new registrants to send products that are likely to be interesting for them.

What To Watch Out For When Using Recommendation Technology

That being said, there are some things that you should keep in mind.

  • Smaller shops will find it more difficult to generate great recommendations because there are fewer data points. Consider using browsing history instead of purchase history.
  • The same products might be generated over and over again. If you don’t have a huge product selection, make sure that you leave enough time in between product newsletters
  • Because the recommendations are generated at the moment the email is opened, your platform needs to have enough server bandwidth to handle the requests instantaneously. Slow loading emails, or improperly loaded emails, will end up straight in the trash bin
  • Don’t embed product images in emails – this looks like spam and will be flagged
  • Don’t include product recommendations as attachments
  • Don’t make recommendations for gimmicky financial services or offers, as these will look spammy and won’t be delivered
  • Make sure the text in your email matches the product that you’re describing

In Summary

Automated product recommendation technology is a powerful tool for E-commerce platforms, and for email marketers. It’s never been easier to send relevant, useful products that are more likely to generate opens, clicks, and sales.

But like with any technology, there are challenges and potentially unforeseen limitations.

Over at Newsletter2Go, we’re working hard on seamlessly integrating a product recommendation technology into our email marketing software. We’ve entered testing phase and are really excited to start rolling it out.

I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Good luck, and happy emailing!

6 Things I’ve Learned Working with Social Influencers

This is a guest post by John LaMarca, Director of Marketing for social community ‘6Tribes’.

I lead marketing for a new social media startup called 6Tribes, which connects like-minded people around the things that they’re passionate about, using the concept of tribes.

We’ve had great success over the last few months in growing some of these tribes using YouTube influencers. I’ve learned a lot about how to get the most out of these partnerships, so I thought I’d share 6 things that I’ve learned.

Do The Right Thing 

Whatever you do, don’t micromanage your YouTube influencers, let them do their thing, their way.

Now, I’m not a micro-manager by any stretch of the imagination, but it is tempting to request that an influencer’s sponsored content contain all of the relevant information about your product that you’d like prospective customers to know.

The thing is, they know their audience better than anyone. They’ve built that audience, and the relationship with them, on trust and by being true to themselves, so you need to let them integrate your brand in a way that is holistic to their content.

Audiences are sceptical of advertising, and will often tune out messages from brands, but when they see content from an individual they like, trust and follow, they are more likely to be receptive to that message.

In an ideal world, your influencer won’t be getting paid to promote your brand, but instead give a brand they love access to the engaged audience that they’ve built.

The Social Network 

Ask them (nicely) to promote you across all their other relevant channels, be it Instagram, Twitter, Vine or Pinterest.

In the world of social networks, this is equivalent to multi-channel marketing. Plus, this cross-promotion is beneficial to them as well, as more video views will help them secure other brand partnerships.

A Very Long Engagement

To get the most from your marketing spend, it’s important to plan for long- term engagement.

Great, you’ve managed to land an amazing influencer who creates wonderful content for you and puts lots of lovely people in front of your brand, or in the case of 6Tribes, into your app.

Well, what happens to those people after the initial activity that resulted from the campaign?

Of course you’ve worked hard on your product to ensure that this new audience will stay, but it’s vital that you come up with a plan to give yourself the best chance at long-term engagement.

At 6Tribes, we have lots of different tribes based on interest or lifestyle, such as Car Spotters, LGBT, Twisted Humor, Deep Thinkers, Anime & Manga or Animal Lovers.

We’ve had the most success when we’ve actively planned for long-term engagement by doing one or all of the following:

1) Get the influencer to become an active member of your community

At 6Tribes, we often have an influencer join or create a tribe in the app, and then participate in some way, such as a live Q&A.

This integration can also be promoted in the sponsored content, and it’s a great way for the audience to gain access to their favourite YouTube stars.

It also shows the audience that they not only believe in the product and want to promote it, but they are also willing to become a user themselves, which is great for the brand.

2) Pass the torch

At 6Tribes, we have tribe leaders who look after their communities. When we’ve run successful influencer campaigns, we’ve often worked with those influencers to hand-pick a tribe leader to hand over the reins to after the campaign is over.

This person is generally the most engaged and active user in that community, so it’s a great way to keep engagement in the community high.

3) Complement and amplify the influencer campaign

This can be achieved by targeted promotions on other marketing channels, such as Facebook or Instagram ads.

I know that this sounds like common sense, but many marketers are so focused on the influencer campaign that they forget to use other channels at the same time.

For a social media network like 6Tribes, putting more people into the tribe at the same time has an exponential effect on engagement, which leads to greater overall retention, and keeps the VCs happy when it’s time to get your next funding round.

A View to a Kill

Bigger isn’t always better. Choose an influencer with a highly engaged audience. It doesn’t matter if they have 300K subscribers if only a smaller percentage actually engage with the content.

There are plenty of metrics available beyond what you can see for yourself, for example in the case of YouTube, video views, so ask the influencer to provide whatever stats they have available about their audience.

Of course, it’s not just about metrics, you should also look at how the influencer engages with the audience in terms of style and tone, and if their community aligns with your brand.

The best influencers find a way to seamlessly integrate the sponsorship into their content, like this excellent video from Loey Lane, a social influencer focused on positive body image, who has helped us build out our Radical Self Love tribe.

The Professional 

Before you begin working with an influencer, you should consider whether you’ll want to work with an agency or try to work directly with the influencer.

There are some great agencies out there like FameBit that offer curated or self-service packages. They have access to some of the most popular and up & coming influencers, and enable you to easily work with several influencers all at once, but you’ll have to pay for that access.

If you decide to contact influencers on your own, make sure that you do your research on them and can communicate why you’’d like to work with them, what you have to offer, and what you expect in return.

It can be more time-consuming this way, but it can also be more rewarding as you’ll be able to communicate directly with them and hopefully build a longer-term relationship that can bring success to both parties.

Play it Again, Sam

Now that you’ve had some great content created, use it as another marketing asset to promote your brand. And don’t forget to engage with the content that’s been created for you: commenting, liking, and reposting are all great ways to increase the lifespan of your sponsored content.

In summary

Let the influencer integrate your brand in a way that is holistic to their content 2. Ask influencers to promote your sponsored content across their other networks 3. Plan for long-term engagement 4. Choose an influencer with a highly engaged audience 5. Decide if working with an agency is right for you 6. Engage with the sponsored content and add it to your stable of marketing assets

 

VR Marketing – Top 5 Brands Using Virtual Reality in PR Right Now

In the early 90s, virtual reality (VR) was set to completely revolutionise the tech and gadget world forever – and then it didn’t. Alongside 3D cinema and polarised glasses, it was merely a case of ‘not just yet’ and the fad soon died out.

People weren’t ready for it, and neither was the technology.

Fast forward to 2016 and VR is cool again. We’re now living in a world where the full capabilities of virtual reality – with its ability to transport users to immersive alternative realities – is being used in new and exciting ways as a commercial tool to sell and promote products.

Now technology has updated and the potential is seemingly limitless, virtual reality looks like it’s here to stay this time.

2016 will celebrate the official launches of some of the most hotly-anticipated VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, which will firmly put tech into the hands of consumers.

So much so that Business Insider estimates the VR hardware market will be worth around £1.9 billion by 2020.

With this in mind, we’ve decided to take a look at five PR campaigns that have successfully used virtual reality to market and sell products, whilst creating an experience like no other.

The Crashed Car Showroom

To promote car safety, NRMA Insurance used the Oculus Rift headset to simulate what it is like to be in a car crash.

People were sat in a real car linked up to a hydraulic system that moved the car in sync with virtual movements.

Once seated, the driver was completely shrouded in a 3D world and could move their head around to examine the simulated location of being in a driving car.

The aim was to recreate the experience of crashing so they could properly understand the severity and importance of road safety.

New York Times & Google Cardboard

When two huge brands collide, they’re able to form the ultimate promotional tool. In November, the New York Times partnered up with Google to create a fantastic VR advertising project.

Google created its very own handheld virtual-reality gadgets and delivered them to more than a million subscribers of the New York Times print newspaper.

Using their smartphone, subscribers were encouraged to download a special NYT VR app that would aim to completely change the way they consume daily news.

The partnership involved creating a series of short films based around hard-hitting news subjects, including a story of a child caught in the Syrian refugee crisis.

The campaign showed how VR could have an impact on the future of journalism and with news outlets constantly looking for ways to bring back straying audiences, VR may be the way forward. Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, said:

Our magazine team has created the first critical, serious piece of journalism using virtual reality, to shed light on one of the most dire humanitarian crises of our lifetime.”

Jakku Spy

Right now, it seems that wherever you go there is some form of Star Wars themed marketing around and it will come as no surprise that virtual reality has got itself involved as well.

In the lead up to the release of The Force Awakens in December, Lucasfilm teamed up with Google and Verizon to allow fans to visit the planet of Jakku – the home of Rey, the main character in the film played by Daisy Ridley.

Using their smartphone and Google’s VR eyewear, people could jump directly into the action and explore the planet, whilst there was a series of in-app messages that were constantly updated the closer the movie release date got.

Coca-Cola and the World Cup

During the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, Coca-Cola created an unique football experience like no other.

Visitors were taken to a mock locker room in the Maracana Stadium in Rio De-Janeiro and were asked to put on Coca-Cola branded VR headgear which allowed them to run straight on to the football pitch to play for the home nation.

The campaign gave people the chance to play in the World Cup and experience something that millions of people across the world dream of – all thanks to Coca-Cola.

The Goosebumps VR Adventure

To celebrate the release of the Goosebumps movie in 2015, Sony Pictures created a VR adventure that transported cinema goers straight into a world that presented plenty of thrills and frights, including many of the infamous monsters from R.L Stine’s much-loved children’s novels.

Using D-Box motion chairs in select theatres and Samsung’s Gear VR headset, the experience threw fans directly into all of the film’s action in what could best be described as a theme park-style adventure ride.

The result was a thrilling and fun experience that helped create a buzz around the film’s upcoming release and showed just how much of an immersive and creative platform virtual reality can be.

If VR technology really is going to take over the world like we’re lead to believe, maybe these five ideas will serve as inspiration for when we’re able to create our very own marketing campaigns with virtual reality. The great thing is, it’ll be here sooner than we think.

Ben Martin is creative director at the PR and creative agency Peppermint Soda.  

How to minimise mistakes in your backlink strategy

Hello everyone! I’m Amy Grey from Tekfirst, a digital marketer with a flair for writing. I’ve worked with a number of brands and seen how some wonderful brands end up making small mistakes in their online marketing strategy which costs them big money and big penalties!

I hope this guest post helps everybody in fixing their backlink strategy!

In today’s world where Google has the Eye of Sauron, there are a few common mistakes which all digital marketers at some point have been guilty of committing, but if avoided, can create a system for smooth and streamlined link building.

The question is how to earn those votes and earn links for your company in a manner that doesn’t upset Google?

A lot has been said about whether or not link building is an effective (or some might say valid) source of high rankings in search engines.

The fact is for the past two decades, search engines have used links as votes – the difference between back then and now being, initially Google did not have as strong algorithms as they have today.

Back then within a couple of days of a website’s launch, it was possible to generate thousands of links for it, however, today, companies need to work on link building, more so hire specialists for the job!

Reason, as we all know is the increased sophistication in the way Google operates.

Google knows what you are about, what the blogs you’re posting in are about (we’re all aware with the ever famous, Penguin and Panda Updates).

Buying and not earning

Looking to be ranked high on Google for only a week or two? Go ahead! Google has repeatedly penalized, both blogs as well as companies for purchased links, however some digital marketing “experts” still delve into the act of buying links. I’m not ruling out the possibility altogether.

Yes, a company may buy links but the strategy must be executed in a smart way – make yourself aware of the rules set by Google first!

Also, other than making your rankings go high for a brief period only, committing this mistake has a major downside i.e. earning negative rankings for your website.

Links with No Relevance

Other than money spent on buying space for a link to your business, there are further expenses and resources incurred, if one costs the process of link building.

Spending that resource and money on an irrelevant blog is completely useless.

If you’re a tyre company and are placing your link on a home décor site, similarly, the links you earn from relevant sites must have high quality content, since content is king for Google – without these things all you’ll achieve is annoying the readers of the blog, nobody sharing your content and making Google frown upon you (Google does not only frown, there are penalties involved, as we all know).

Needless to say, this link will be completely useless in fulfilling any of your hopes of climbing up the ranking ladder. Publish good content and links will come naturally.

As Randy Milanovic comments, “High quality links are earned through the creation of quality content that is valued by your audience so greatly that they voluntarily link to it and share it.” 

Aggressively Used Anchor Texts

So you have a highly optimized website and get a chance to link your website on some sites with a high page rank – nothing seems wrong with the strategy but the rankings are still where they were before?

Time to review your anchor texts. Have you been hiding your awesome link behind “click here” (or something equally useless).

It is crucial to have an anchor text targeting your keywords.

But beware, too much of keywords are worse than “click here” as they’ve earned negative rankings for a lot of websites.

And please, NEVER use the same anchor text throughout your link building campaign – keep shuffling among different keywords/phrases.

Relying On a Single Technique

We have always been taught not to put all our eggs in one basket, reason being if the basket is dropped, you lose everything or in digital marketing terms you attract unwanted attention, also its plain boring.

Dig deeper and indulge yourself – digital marketing is a big world of wonders, you just need to keep looking; there is directory submissions, forum discussions, infographics, niche directories, contests, interviews, testimonials and so much more.

So read, research and learn! Want to know the best part? Most of these methods do not cost as much either.

Quantity Matters

Leading digital marketers have proven this fact with proofs. We all have read those studies lots of times, I cannot stress enough on the fact, with link building less is more.

Quality and relevance of what you share matters, not the quantity. Creating hundreds of backlinks (mostly irrelevant or spammy) would do no good to your company’s website.

Instead two or three quality links every week consistently will be a foolproof way to have your rankings steady and save yourself the trouble with search engine penalties.

No Follow Links Are Useless

In a perfect utopian world, all of us digital marketers are focused and making all out efforts to earn follow links that earn us high value votes for search engine rankings.

What we all need to learn is that it is not wise to eliminate nofollow links altogether from your strategy as they are valuable too and prove fruitful for online branding strategy.

Also, the reach and impact of your content should be far more important than wondering whether or not the link is follow or a nofollow one – since a balanced presence of both in the strategy is best.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the (tiny) ripples nofollow links can create for your website, if the content presented is fairly useful!

Stop Link Building

Matt Cutts at Google stated that Google guidelines do not support link building as such creation of links is a way of manipulating search engine rankings!

So every time you “build links”, you basically go behind Google’s back and its only a matter of time when Google will find out and penalize your business, up to the extent of completely banning your website to appear in search results.

If you want to build something useful for back linking, I can suggest two things; content and relationships.

Focus on these two and it won’t be long before you’ll see links coming as a result of these two!

Make efforts to focus on your awesome content being available and seen on all the right places, where the users will benefit from the information provided.