As promised, after an evening of poolside drinks and the sweet refrain of Katy Perry’s ‘California Girls’ whirling round the fire pit (No? Just me then...) we’re back at Paradise Point for Day Two of SearchLove San Diego. Expect everything from content pointers as tuneful as poetry to an afternoon with Neil Young. No need for note taking, we’ve got the main takeaways from today’s speakers in all their glory right here. Let’s get to it.
Becoming a brand, it’s so incredibly important and valuable to those in any sector of inbound marketing. More and more companies are shifting spend and resources onto brand campaigns and brand building but what is a brand?
“Loyalty is when brands create an intimate emotional connection that you can’t simply do without. Ever.”
Saatchi and Saatchi
Customers feel this connection with you.You want to make that intimate and about the user which comes from this idea of personalisation. People can use emotional triggers to do this. We’re good at this. We understand how to use these tactically, through conversation and social media. The most common of these emotional triggers would be the following:
Fear and trust
Apple have certainly played on the last few there for upgrades on their phones and the desire to keep up with your peers in the technology stakes. Guilting someone in seasonally can be seen a lot in marketing too, particularly around public holidays. The trust signals of today are things like conversations, languages and some really conceptional stuff; we’re seeing a shift in paradigm when it comes to this.
So we’ve talked about what a brand is, but what doesn’t make a brand.
A brand is not a name, a logo, a byline, mission statement, brand queue, product or mascot.
These things are important but they’re not your brand. A brand is bigger than a sum of these parts. Today it’s more about a perspective, a philosophy, customer brand conversation and a living entity.
You could be mistaken for thinking, if you nail a brand it lasts a lifetime and doesn’t change.
Incorrect. Brands need to evolve with new platforms and new responses to customer conversations. It did evolve with the times You should be able to step outside of your brand -where it came from and where it’s going. Your brand needs to make sense in the market with a momentum of its own. A brand can carry you.
Today, brand loyalty matters.
We can see this through the evolution of a sale. The former ideal that building better brands will make us more money. Back in the day, you had what people needed and that was long tail search. Then the entire industry levelled up. Everyone had great landing pages and eCommerce pages got easier to build. You had to establish a differentiator to stand out - this would become what you put your money behind but then, once again, everyone levelled up. Companies had to get better. The competition got better. SEOs were shifting the way companies were working.
The differentiator will be loyalty. Do you have a community? Do you have a group of people standing behind your brand and believing in you? Those are the companies that will last and the other ones won’t. It will be really hard to be a no brand company.
“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand, you are a commodity then price is everything and the low cost product is the only winner.”
Phillip Kotler, Kellogg.
It’s an easy way out and it’s easy to do but you don’t want to be a commodity.
Big brands aren’t the only ones that make money on loyalty. 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. So what are you doing for those people who already gave you their time?
Back in the day, customer loyalty wasn’t our job. It was another teams job. Not marketing. Loyalty started after the sale. It wasn’t my job to get other customers to bring in others.
Today things are different. Marketing builds loyalty. Somehow we’ve made it our job, it makes our job more fun. It will be harder for marketers to get jobs in the future if they’re not building brand loyalty. You should be asking yourself, how can I build brand loyalty at every phrase.
So here are Joanna’s ten tips and tactics for building brand loyalty and evangelists (using some big brand examples so we can see it in real life)
1. Cohort marketing. Get good at it.
What is it? Groups of like minded people in the same stage of the funnel. If you’re not targeting your site and your email experience, then this is where we have to be. All these cohorts have a variety of dimensions and we need to start sequencing these dimensions to deliver highly personalised experiences for the entire journey. Through logging your company data, you will be set up for some much success in ways your competitors won’t be able to. Take it up a notch. Bam. Only at that point can you start to use some of the campaigns mentioned later on.
Push for profiles
Build retargeting audiences
Target communications by dimension
Create internal cohorts.
Slice all customer data by same cohort
2. Appeal to internal and external motivations
Not every campaign needs to hit both of these factors but ask yourself which one you are holding front and centre to try and track?
Take a look at Pepsi’s Refresh Project. A Pepsi microsite where they invested 20 million dollars to crowdsource towards good causes. People shared the hell out of it. It matched an external goal. It matches what you externally want to be perceived as. They were building their community and tapping into an external motivation.
Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ taps into an internal motivation. People shared this but they were hesitant. But people watched it and we talked about it. They reflected on this campaign as a person and the video had repeat views and repeat visits. Dove hit people in an internal way with this campaign. So, consider what it is you want the person to feel with your campaign?
Do a brand explore
Revisit your core values
Survey customers and employees - your campaigns should be shaped around that
Test trigger words with paid ads
Build requirement into process (How do you want the customer to feel? Not as trackable but this can still be a goal)
3. Design for the masses
We saw this happening for three to four years and now in terms of the UX, the visual aesthetics, people have got better, Designers are teaching themselves tons more stuff they didn’t know before and when it comes to brand building, your number one marketer is your designer.
Help Scout keeps it simple. Simple design. You’re not over promising to your community It’s visually appealing when you share or advocate the brand and this makes it easier to consume.
Simpler the better
Innovate on current trends
New mediums, (start thinking video now, how are you leveraging this to showcase your brand?)
Test small scale (test your designs on a blog post - don’t invest without knowing it resonates with your community and they will tell you whether or not this resonates with your brand)
Make your content shareable and digestible and then test this internally. (Don’t be afraid to pass round design as much as you pass round copy.)
4. Advocacy requires passionate stories
Good luck existing today without good customer services. No one can advocate without a really good story. You have to be delivering that in your campaigns.
Nike’s ‘Possibilities’ campaign took it a step up from ‘Just do It’. They gave it a story. Remember, a story has more than one dimension. Similarly with Mini Cooper’s, Let’s Motor, they did this campaign to reach international audiences but said let’s be who we are and give that the story. People were sharing because Mini were hitting the pride piece.
Every campaign should have a story
Create and seed with cab/community
Stories are text and visual amplified
New age PR; stories aren’t stories if no one else hears them
Build a campaign to how your community responded to it, take some comments from your posts, market the responses.
You can build many campaigns off the campaign even if it’s not successful.
5. A whole new level of vulnerable
Work to build transparency. Zendesk’s support transparency is a great example of this and think it helps when you publish something that makes you appear vulnerable. People rally the underdog. Similarly, Patagonia’s ‘Footprint Chronicles’ gives them this differentiating factor.
Give your ”why” a home
Show off your product roadmap to let people want to see what’s coming
Show off your service stats
Blog about your wins and losses
Wraps wins and losses in campaigns - write about this and showcase this as it will probably end up doing more for brand advocacy
Have your 8 mile moment and call out all your faults
This is how you should be thinking about brands. The brand should be the first to market that.
6. Appreciate early and often
Mike King signs up For Unbounce and they called to thank him. That’s a high touch thank you.
Red Bull are sending handwritten notes out to their community just to say thanks for sharing. Welcome to the new world of marketing. You have to do some stuff that doesn’t scale to start.
Loyalty programs and campaigns
Customer appreciation strategy
Influencer appreciation strategy
Hater to lover strategy appreciation
Winback communications (random delights)
Tactics like this will build those powerful tribes.
7. Track that sh*t
We’re in an industry we’re people are still trying to figure this out. In the next year, we’ll be able to track brand loyalty. Tools will take stabs at them. The data is all there; starter KPIs, net promoter score, lifetime value, customer retention, customer attrition, churn ratios, RFM and cohorts loyalty program
More importantly, get creative with your tracking. What’s important to you? We don’t have to use marketing formulas when we’re innovating in this market.
8.Multi channel it up - do some tablet stuff
Julep is pushing the limits on brand value with their brand loyalty through SMS tactics which just goes to show that this stuff can be done quickly.
History Channel have done the same with their historian badge when you check in with foursquare on your mobile.
Leverage local and rethink value cross device
Start with your biggest wins and then test, survey and validate (dedicate a team to this - this is not a once a year campaign.)
9. Evangelise internally
“We believe that your company’s culture and your company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand may lag the culture first, but eventually it will catch up.
Your culture is your brand,”
Tony Hsieh, CED Zappos
Put those core values front and centre of your brand. It’s the best content you have.
Start the conversation
Identify the beacon
Top down support
Make data accessible and revisit this often
This needs to be a company wide digest or it doesn’t get the longevity it deserves.
10. Enable them to market on your behalf
Starbucks encouraging referrals; this is affiliate marketing. There are no programs and widgets and tools, and it’s not as evasive it’s not interruption marketing
Birchbox play to their strengths and push on their tumblr to a more visual community. Use your best real estate.
Share worthy content entices a share or reaction (we’re marketers that’s what we do)
Refer a friend programs
We need web heroes today. You are responsible for sharing your brand story and a lot of companies that don’t have one just won’t last. You are going to have to start thinking about this. This makes everything more fun. The more we do that and put our money behind this idea the bigger and better our brands will be.
Chris Savage - ‘Pulling Back the Curtain on Video SEO’
Video SEO is pretty simple. The world today we are living in is amazing because we don’t have to talk to people to buy things anymore. We have always relied on people to make better buying decisions. What video does is brings humans back into the buying process.
Video is trust. You don’t need alot of views to be successful because video is about trust.
How do you want your customers to interact with you and how do you do that? The same can be said for driving conversions through video. Branding is the win of YouTube; the video platform is the largest online entertainment system and branding stuff works here. The thing that is challenging on YouTube is that you just can’t control the experience.
Turns out to get your videos listed in search is making life easier for their robots.
Get your content into a sitemap. This will work to show the robots ‘Ah, OK there are videos on these pages’. It’s simple. You can head over to this post from Phil Nottingham and use his handy tool to do just that.
This goes for Open Graph tags too and getting your stuff listed in search. By just adding those around the video helps them show up as rich snippets in search. Schema also has some mark up based around making life easy for the robots by helping to show the format of the content.
You should also consider citations and transcripts for your videos, creating a list of text with what people are saying and time codes. Robots hate to be tricked. In universal search, set up citations properly. Video ranks well because it’s so information dense but if you don’t set up the right things, you’ll have trouble getting stuff to rank. Similarly, don’t try to get video to rank and then hide them behind a paywall.
Start optimizing before production
This is one of the best way to success. Consider using walk through words such as “how to” “building” “creating” “show me” which will lead to better ranking with more people searching for those kinds of keywords and tutorials.
Making better videos tomorrow
You can start by using a web designer or a marketer and use the camera you already have. Starting from the ground up makes it a lot easier to begin to make great things. Think like Moz; they’re making content every single week with the exact same stuff. Just take a look at their Whiteboard Friday. That’s core competency.
Use the camera you already have. It’s all about the content but you should absolutely get lights. Take a look at this blog post over on the Wistia site on the down and dirty setup. Things like lights are absolutely worth the investment as they make your content look professional enough that people will pay attention to what you’re saying.
Take more chances. How can we take more chances? Wistia filmed the process of their recent office switch and this was game changing for them. They embedded this onto their blog and it was just a one take video. But when they put it out there and something remarkable happened. The video had over 3.2K loads (and more interestingly, people watched 91% of the footage!) This process is a great one to learn from as if Wistia had held any expectations for such a video, they probably wouldn’t put it out like this but they had no audience to be afraid of losing. But it’s that idea of showing the behind the scenes of your company and that’s something people might want to actually see. Find those opportunities where you can make this low risk content.
Another thing Chris encourages you to do is to be in your own videos. Work to scale your team members so your community feels as though they’ve had a chat with that person.
What is the result of this? People feel connected to you as individuals which would never be possible if you only work to create animated videos for storytelling so get yourselves on camera as much as possible.
Build an audience around video content
When someone watches a video, you’re building up a trust momentum. By putting an email gate to sign up and hear more from the company, those people are making the decision to trust your brand. You now have a connection with these people and they’ve registered an interested to see more of your trust. Wistia set this up and now have 70k subscribers on their email list but it was a steady growth building this audience. If this video content resonates with your audience, they’re going to share it and more people are going to come back up. It’s all about scaling up.
Just like all marketing, don’t take one video and look at the analytics and social shares and then re-edit the video. What works is pushing videos out there and promoting them to your list, taking a look at the timeline site, figuring out what stuff resonated with your audience to help make content that resonates with them better in the future.
Video is your best opportunity for trust
Be strategic where people watch them
Make life easy for the robots and take more risks
Lauren Vaccarello - ‘From Search to Digital to Marketing’
How can you go onto use everything you do as an online marketer to go further than search?
Don’t let your role define your influence
Search marketers were the team that no one cared about, they spoke in a different language. They didn’t have a say in the future of the company but you should have an opinion because that’s how you can influence a bigger organisation. And this is important in going from search to marketing. You need to know how to communicate.
What exactly is a lead?
For an SEO, this is the thing you can track inside GA. It’s someone who fills out a form but if you work with the sales, that’s just a form complete. When sales talk about leads, they want valid leads not form completes
What is conversion rate?
SEO’s most likely think along the lines of the number of people who get to a form divided to by those who fill it out. More likely to sales, it’s a person who fills out the form and then buys from you. This is where a lot of miscommunication happens. We need to adjust to others language. Broader marketing means learning to think holistically. Search isn’t everything.
Becoming a broader marketer
What are all the channels? We’re talking articles, tweets, the number of people searching for ‘Distilled’ right now at an event is going to impact the search volume. So how can you start to drive up search value? Advertising. Retargeting those people who have expressed intent to buy. What advertising really does is drive search volume. Increase branded search volume by running a targeted ad campaign. Those ads will drive up the search volume overall.
What happens when search volume drops? You can be the hero. Start to think about SEO not just increasing ranking but what are the main pages people are coming in on? Work on developing that page, update the copy, add a form to the page, some stats and a different offer. Take a bad situation and build the landing page that makes the form completes better.
Know your business
It’s easy to be a functional expert but do you know the entire business? If you are a public or private company? Who is the CFO? It’s good to be familiar with all of the exec team. Where’s the exec team speaking? Start to get to know the business you work for. As online marketers you have to know everything. Learn more by listening to the earnings call, read the wrap ups, what’s the CEO talking about with company priorities? What happens through the entire sales and marketing funnel?
Learn the processes of a sale. Someone comes to your website but who is it filling out those forms? Who turns that form into a leads and what’s the value of that lead? What’s the lifetime value of a customer? Can you do things to reduce attrition? It’s not just rankings and form completes, you want to get your customers to be three year customer rather than just three months.
Testing messaging in SEM
What are the words that are associated with your brands and the words that we’re going to use to help people see us as more than that. Have you got these messages in front of customers? Why don’t we test messaging in search? This is essentially a large real time focus group with people expressing interest in your brand. You can talk to them and ask them what they think your company is associated with and then run keyword research against this. Similarly, you can use search to come up with future prospects through testing variations of copy and official branding messages. Online marketing should always be a revenue driver.
Another thing that’s really important to think about is to know how sales get paid. This will impact your ability to do your job. It doesn’t matter how good your marketing programs are, if sales make less money it’s never going to be as successful.
Align with the broader business goals
Money is Power. Within a company, whoever has the biggest budget ultimately has the most power within a marketing organisation and how you get money is going to matter. Once you can start disrupting money and how that flows, this is how you can start to get more power within an organisation. Learn how money gets allocated and how budgets work. This is a system that you can optimise. Spend time learning that system to maneuver it. At a publicly trading companies, budgets exist within fiscal quarters. Predictability is really important. When extra money pops up at the end of the quarter, what departments can spend money? Marketing. Become the team in marketing that takes that money and spends it well as this will be a great way to start building your budgets.
Always have plans in place on how to spend this money quickly - it’s not really about those results in that quarter, its about long term planning. If you do this well, this could mean online marketing starts to get all of the additional money from the end of the quarter. Simply by optimizing the system, your budget for next year is now going to bigger
With a start up, you need to be asking what are the ultimate business goals? How do I build a budget from scratch? What are the levers that are going to impact growth and start quantifying it.
Winning mindshare and my conversation with Neil Young
Lauren finishes her talk by recounting her time working for Salesforce in Sydney and how she logged onto her computer to check her emails one morning to find a strange email from the CMO - ‘Neil Young just emailed you’. Er, Crosby Stills Nash and Young asking me about retargeting? It was an interesting morning to say the least but what is great about this story is that she was called upon to train in a topic that she had build from nothing. And now the CEO gave a crap about the program, how it was used and how it can drive sales.
Learn how to communicate
Use SEM for message testing
Figure out how sales get paid
Learn marketing funnels
Think about marketing across channels
Paul May - ‘Advanced Content Promotion and Outreach’
As online marketers, we were recently all faced with this.
But, perhaps, the industry is better off for it. Look at the content that’s being put out now. It’s closely tied to the needs of the customer. There is a better understanding of the buyers process and journey. That said, where we see people struggling is that once they create that content, they’re not sure how to promote the content effectively. We’re sending emails but nothing’s happening. Should we do it at all or should we just create epic content and hand it over to the creative fairy? Well, no. You do need to do the outreach.
“If you spend 40 hours creating a piece you should spend 40 hours outreaching/seeding and promoting”
That’s how you win the internet. Its not good enough to be a good content creator, you need to be a good content marketer.
Let’s talk about the old model
When it comes to outreach people came to the old approach. What does that old model look like? It’s essentially a big ass list of people to contact. You send a lightly personalised, poorly written email focused on what you want and then pray you get a response and if all else fails, you go to your back up plan (cash dollar)
This model doesn’t work and it’s a miserable way to do this. We need to move to a model that is more personalised and relevant and ideally, based on relationships. How do you do this to get enough reach to get this to work? People are looking for scale but you need enough to make it work the right way. So you need a system, scale without losing that personalisation.
Plan your work and work your plan
When developing your promotional strategy ask yourself, how much time am I going to spend on the planning phase? 75% is the planning, you can spend less on the execution and when it comes to creating the content, targeting a specific audience and then work to build specific content for them. Segment your content marketer to broaden your audience. There are other audiences that find this interesting. Sales people care about outreach.
Think Big, Smart Small
Leverage the easier to acquire links to acquire those harder to get links. Commit to relationship building prior to initial outreach and this has huge dividends. You can be the resource to a social team. Here are people that have promoted us in the past and these are the customers and then start engaging with these people. Every time you ask for something, you should have given to that person five times before and that mind set is really valuable. Automate low value tasks or outsource them. There’s no reason to manually collect all this info, there are tools that do this for you. Citation Labs has a tool, so do Buzzstream. CRM’s do that. These relationships are assets. Keep them in a centralised place and keep going back to that.
Case Study example - Content Promotion for getharvest. com
The Field Guide to Pricing was designed for creative agencies and freelancers. These were real world examples and beautifully designed but this piece failed. One of the first jobs as a marketing person is to come up with effective strategies to promote this guide.
Above all, your end goal is to come up with a piece of content that helps serve a specific audience so identify and research those target segments. This will then convince them to share this content with their followers. Who are we sending this email to? Which people shall we send it to first? Which assets will we promote first? What’s our timing? Then you can build your lists and execute.
Start building your campaign strategy
Understanding your asset and its core value. You’ll want a quick and dirty function advantage, the benefit and consequences of the piece. You don’t need a thought out piece, just distil it down real quick - what is it for? Why is it useful?
Let’s start with the obvious segments: It’s useful to web designers and graphic design people who curate design resources for online businesses.
Now we’ll expand the list into more segments that will care. Use the technique chunking.
You can use SIC/NAICS classifications for segment ideas. Web design fits into a bigger category of professional services so let’s consider the other types of professional services that would be likely fit for this: landscape designs, interior design, perhaps. Also look into Google Trends and Freebase to figure out where something fits in.
Here’s an example of how chunking might work with this piece of content:
Tap these field into the resource pages on Google and you’ll get over 53k results. Now you’re going to create some simple personas -
Why do they blog?
Why would they be interested in the Pricing Guide?
How would they describe it?
Why would their audience ie. students care?
All of those things should go straight into that template.
Make a plan to reach the influencers
Types of opportunities -
Harvesting related (Link reclamation or unlinked mentions - reach out to these first )
to demand generation (big content promotion)
Research step - big content prospects
Relationship building - thank past promoters - promote big content prospects
Outreach - harvesting opportunities big content remaining prospects
These people are influential. You should have them in your database. As they are promoting and sharing their content you should share it.
Promoting Big Content: Order of Operations
Promoters - Customers - Influencers - Mid and Long tail
If you get them to write about you, that’s already social proof and a lot of that will spread virally. Knowing this information if you can get access to it, is really valuable.
List Building Prospects
Head over to site like Klout, Topsy and use tools like OSE to pick up fresh web people who have linked to you in the past. You’ll begin to see the value of creating a piece of content and then going to community friendlies to promote it as this makes so much difference - they will want to share it.
Start Reaching Out and earning links
Four elements of a great outreach email:
Personalised - know their name, why should they care? Thinking about what you want rather than what’s in it for them.
Positioned, you did that work of understanding what they care about
Persuasive - Robert Chldinni’s book ‘Influence’ different triggers that drive people to do something that you want and then a call to action
Depending on the asset - think about how hard that ask needs to be. If you’re reaching out to a blogger, you need to be subtle: ‘Could you share my content’ Don’t go asking for a link.
How do you want to tell your story? You need to be careful and not too strong. Create an email template for each segment. Start with the most obvious and see how well it performs - is it resulting in links or traffic?
Hi *|First name|* - personalised opener
“Would you mind adding it to (call to action)”
“PS. Really enjoyed…” < Don’t put this up front. It’s being done so much, it doesn’t sound real, if you’re going to put it at the front say why.
Write and think the way you talk to people.You start a conversation and why it’s interesting and relevant to them and always remember to follow up at the end. Your response rates going to go way up if you send a follow up. It will increase your response rate. Different audiences take different messages. Be aware who you are emailing. TechCrunch doesn’t care if you say you really like this - get to the point quick. If you’re giving them an exclusive, tell them that.
There’s a change happening in our industry, CRO is becoming more widely known. PC sales are having the longest decline in history and certainly, the lowest point it has been in around ten years. We zoom in - tablet sales have increased and it’s projected to increase even more so by 2014. This form of consumption will massively outsell PCs and that’s having a knock on effect in eCommerce. Mobile commerce now accounts for 23% of online sales.
Most companies aren’t focusing on this - there either not doing it at all or not optimising it like they would a desktop site but those who are doing it are seeing a big return. Plus.net saw 10 x increases in sales and 2 x traffic. Baines and Ernst noted a +51% conversion rate and they got a case study from Google out of it. What’s interesting is that these websites aren’t great so in terms of CRO, there’s room for improvement. But they do have a mobile site. Done is better than nothing. It doesn’t have to be the Mac Pro landing page.
Take a look at the Baines and Ernst website - the text is tough to read on mobile. It’s pretty crap but it’s good enough to increase CRO. When you compare that with other companies like Basecamp who are well known for their conversion optimisation - their mobile site is woefully bad. They are missing a huge opportunity here. So what is that opportunity?
The impact of Conversion Optimization
First let’s take, the increase in revenue. You can increase revenue 20% by spending more on PPC but with CRO there’s no increase in cost so the increase in profit is that much higher - 30-40% of profit with CRO. Increase your profit and leverage that advantage to steal market share and outdo your competitors. Spend money on even more keywords and get more traffic to your website and spend more on your affiliates. This is higher earning per click to you than a competitor.
You don’t need a perfect website, you just need to be a little bit better than the competition. This will give you a leading edge advantage. Work to out covert your competitors to significantly capture more market share.
For most people, mobile is considered an afterthought. We’ve got a desktop version that’s probably good enough. After all, it’s only 10% off our traffic so let’s worry about it later. But in order to get the leading edge advantage, you have to focus on mobile now. They might say the ROI isn’t there yet. Perhaps, in a year you’ll do something but the difficulty of this is you’re not catching those sales now and you’re letting your competitors take the advantage.
Kodak were a 20 million dollar company but now they are bankrupt. If you dive into the history of that, you can see that they controlled 90% of the film sales in the US but they lost this to digital cameras over the years. The digital camera was invented in 1975 and can you guess by who? Kodak themselves but because they were so successful in film they didn’t invest in it. They missed out on the advantage in the 80s. They felt the ROI wasn’t there.
We’re in a similar position to Kodak. Mobile is our digital camera; focus on it now and capture that initial advantage. Facebook focuses on split testing because they see the importance of mobile. Facebook will become a mobile company. We can already see 80% of their users logging in via their smartphones. They are ready early and now they are in a position to take advantage.
Mobile isn’t just about the technology. It’s focused on the position that someone is in when they’re using a mobile phone. They are open to distraction. That means as a marketer we have a much harder job. If we look at The Guardian which is hugely successful online and offline - they look into how people use their products during that day. They think about how you can convert people across the entire journey. We have a much more complicated task when it comes to optimising. We have to assume that Homer Simpson is the typical user ie. fat fingers and not the greatest phone users. We don’t have the same standards in mobile as we do in desktop.
Most obvious difference is that the marketing here has to be distilled because we can only present a certain amount of information at one time. Like Dell’s homepage, most people know who Dell are so they don’t need to be persuaded with mass branding and company context. It’s more about the usability of their mobile site. But if we don’t have a well known brand, how can we persuade our users in a limited space on mobile? We need to make this experience targeted to the users that we are trying to appeal to. The bad news: there is emerging design and functionality standards and a limited space for persuasive content not to mention our users being massively open to distraction.
The good news is the huge competitive advantage you could gain if you do start testing now and this will create a barrier to entry for companies.
12 principles for mobile conversion:
1. Start small and scale
This doesn’t have to be a particularly big project. We can cheat when we want to mobile opt in. First question we ask might be what if your mobile traffic converted the same as desktop? Use Optimizely to create a split testing platform. Pick one page in the process, say a product page and swap out for a mobile optimised page. Limit the test to mobile users and let this feed into analytics.
2. Create mobile and non mobile dashboards in Analytics
Where are these opportunities? GA makes it very simple to do this - don’t use the funnel optimisation tool, create it in a dashboard. Don’t overwhelm yourself with data and API, focus on what a sales funnel look like for mobile vs desktop? What are their goals? Peoples goals might be different on mobile. If you’re focused on sales, you can drill down into why people are dropping off? Analytics will tell you what’s happening but not ‘why’ which brings us to point three….
3. Create mobile surveys
Qualaroo is in beta at the moment but this is a simple way to add a survey tool to your website. What’s the purpose of the users visit? Were they able to achieve that? Was there anything that stopped them buying? Can you tell us why you’re switching to the desktop site?
4. Use Desktop
With all of this content you have to squash down, it becomes a challenge to prioritise that. Crazy Egg will show you where people are clicking within your website and provide a visual of where the opportunities are and how you can structure your mobile site according to that.
5. Dogfood your site on Mobile
There’s a lot of opportunity in this - we take this to extremes. You can’t expect to know it all, you have to put yourself in their position. Not just using the websites and knowing the sales funnel, but using your own money to go through that same process youself.
6. Identify Key Mobile Personas and Use cases
Personas are crucial for conversion optimisation - what’s stopped this particular user converting and who they are? Identify 3-5 personas with usability tests, surveys and KW analysis. What are their objections for why they didn’t convert and what would make them more likely to convert? A hugely important thing to consider with mobile - is the product in stock and when will it arrive? There will be personas who are motivated by when it arrives and others by the quality of the product. In the case of repeat customers, they might just want to order the same things again as quickly as easy as possible.
1800 Flowers is a great example of this with a button in the top corner of their site for express deals. They want something as quickly as possible. This is a perfect example of how a company has recognised their personas and has targeted them accordingly on mobile.
7. Targeted usability test on potential customer
The word usability isn’t just about making something easy for someone to do something but what is going to make them more likely to convert. One thing that will make a difference in the quality is making sure that the people you are testing are closely matched to your target audience as this will likely give a better result.
8. Sketch Mobile Designs on Blank Business Cards
Business cards share the same space as a mobile screen so why not take a fat tip sharpie to try and sketch out what the mobile business site will look like. This will force you to consider the amount of content you can fit in the limited space you have.
First user advantage. We can start to see the designs that will improve the CRO.
10. Three mobile sites to copy
Air B&B’s mobile site is built on split testing. They only add half the copy to the mobile site and have added a read more button. You can see the tabs with more information but it’s not overwhelming to the user. It also allows people to sign in using Facebook which is an awesome way to avoid having to enter their email address or remember their password. Avoid having people click unnecessarily or type in what they don’t need to.
The Home Depot shows you the local store listings nearest to you and their opening hours. You can see the instore layout as well as how they’ve integrated local with eCommerce. The user is able to see how much is in stock which will provide an easier conversion as this is an entirely integrated platform..
Target‘s site is available on both on Desktop and mobile. The first screen you see is the product page with little text. It’s clear what the product is, where the conversion point is with it’s a simple neat layout and that’s implied in the check out too. Conversely, Gap’s site asks you to fill in a ton of fields and when choosing your card type, most of the initial ones listed aren’t even relevant (ie. store cards)
11. Prioritising your tests
Come up with ways to increase the conversion rate numerous times. Are we changing a headline or completely rebuilding a checkout? That will give you a basic priority list. What’s the hypothesis for this test? You don’t want to do the same test three different times. High impact and easy to do but focused on different strategies.
12. Iterate for local maxima and optimise for global maxima
By iteration we can increase CRO a little bit, global maxima is the opportunities we will gain if we change the whole process. Look at the calls to action: ‘keep my account’ vs ‘deactivate my account’ because CRO is (supposedly) all about the buttons you can focus on the colour and size to influence your users behaviour. Always ask for a reason as to why your user wants to deactivate their account - this page is responsible for keeping a ton of people on site in the long run.
What does this ‘optimising a brand’ really mean? You all know a lot of really smart stuff about SEO and online marketing and we’re reminded of that when we talk to people outside of our industry. They don’t know these things exist or how they works. There’s a lot you can do to help these people out by showing the value and by making what they’re doing better.
There’s a lot of value that SEO can bring to branding. People are searching for your brand. AYTM didn’t have a strong site. They weren’t ranking for much. They wanted that traffic searching for online market research. So when they refer to themselves now, they say AYTM Market Research and will link to part of the Keyowrd in their Anchor text. That’s how they pitch their company and how they go on to get partnership deals. It worked well - a lot of links and sites mentions. These people give you great anchor text because of the way you talk about yourself.
But there’s so much more you can do with this - how do you name your linkable assets?
Simply by taking a keyword from your homepage and adding it to the title of an infographic. The homepage then improves in ranking for that keyword - Google can see the topical relevance and ranks your page higher.
Help Other Campaigns Show Value
82% of Ad spend is offline and that’s huge. For every dollar that goes into online advertising, 82 dollars go into TV, radio ...etc. When it comes to advertising, some brands just aren’t using it to their advantage. When KTM listed their campaign shots, there was no website mention. Users were having to go on to search the brand and if they were familiar with them, they might try KTM.com. But their initial ad didn’t work to prove where it was coming from and, therefore, had a far less influence on their direct traffic.
Conversely, this ad for Yamaha has that all important link to their homepage so at least their telling people where to go but it still counts as direct. There’s no such thing as a direct channel; it’s largely influenced by ads or word of mouth. You can’t tell what this is doing for you. Honda released their ad with the URL powerofdreams.com but this just converts to Honda.co.uk. They did a 301 but what they should be doing is adding campaign parameters to track the different campaigns. Add a vanity domain and then redirect= that to your homepage and add campaign parameters to track where these visits came from. This will help show the tangible value that you are contributing with these ads.
And it’s not just magazine ads. None of the billboards send you to the domain either.
It’s even more important if you have a small ad budget - you need to know what’s working for you and what isn’t. If you do a custom or vanity domain, then you can’t figure out what’s sending visits to those sites. Build custom tracking and really show value for investing the money in other places.
Make friends with design
We really all have the same goal - more conversions on the website. Ultimately, that’s what we all want to do. As SEOs, we want more people at the top of the funnel, design is focused on those people already there but we can work together to create things that play nice together. Bridgestone is a brand make of tyres. The company has a big landing page for all their tyres but what Geoff worked to do was switch up the design for 200 words of copy and the brand saw 77% growth all through this change in formatting. Help the design teams out with content on your pages. Just don’t give people crappy content.
Social promotions; not just Facebook
There’s a lot that we can gain from here. So are many Facebook competitions with the tag to - ‘like us and submit a photo for a chance to win...’ ‘Share this with your friends for an extra chance to win’ etc. We should be creating landing pages with another chance to win with submitting their email address to build up a strong email subscriber list. This is an asset and it’s something that people will link to. Capitalise on this.
Good Will Efforts is another great idea. This idea of doing things for benefit others without expecting anything in return. Add value by helping decide who you are doing stuff for - the benefit of the community? Make sure you are including the right people who have a platform for other people to tell their friends what we’re doing.
A great example of this is one of Geoff’s jewellery clients and their Mother’s Day campaign which worked to build links and delight their community. The brand gave away a pair of earrings to a 100 different Mummy bloggers and asked them in turn to give them away to their readers. Instead, when the company had the list of bloggers, they sent out a Mother’s Day care package with chocolates and ribbon. But this campaign wasn’t for the linking value, they just said ‘hey, here’s a gift for you’.
The campaign got coverage on 100 blogs, with lots of great posts and pictures which helped with the high level of engagement.
The best part? They made link building profitable. They gave coupon codes to bloggers within their community and could then track the visits that this promotion sent as well as the value. Direct revenue was 3x the campaign cost and all because they worked to give something away, target the right people and tracked the resulting value.
Create and publish your own data
Take, and use, your internal user data. OKCupid did a great job with data on their attributes of photos on how many messages their users received. If you’re willing to share internal data that you have, then this can be really beneficial. The other option is to create surveys and publish this on your blog - do your own research and make the data if you can’t find it.
Be a Resource for the Press
Taking a look at “National Day of” listings will bring up over 100 million search results- there’s something that fits your business in here. Say it’s Cyber Security month in October, then reach out to journalists who might want to run a story on this. You can provide a knowledable source for an interview or tips on how to make things better. Connect with these people first. Improves the odds of you being featured in their stories, their newspaper, their blogs - it’s good for credibility.
Build Resources for Distributors
This will be invaluable for your own outreach, particularly in a less than interesting industry or something that doesn’t lend itself to link bait. Do something they’re going to want to share and hopefully, do outreach for and then consequently, link back to your own site. Create an embed code for the content with a link back to your site to make it easy for them. The other route would be to create an educational resource that will be useful for distributors on what they should be telling their customers. You will be creating cool assets to help teach people as well as encouraging people to buy your stuff.
If you remember nothing else:
Help other departments show value
Do nice things for the right people
Do research and publish data
Before we get into failing like you mean in it, we begin with the most logical marketing topic: Literature. When it comes to poetry, fiction gets all the attention. It’s big and flashy, whilst the poets are the lonely old guy in the corner with his guitar.
“Poets are our original systems thinkers. They look at the most complex environment and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand”.
So what does all of this have to do with content marketing?
All of the content on your website is the poetry of your website. It’s the foundation of that website. It’s never okay to fail at the content essentials of a website. There are two ways to fail - bad and good. Colour Me Bad not Jackson Bad.
Make sure your landing pages and product descriptions have that poetry. They need to have a backbone - then you can move on to the stuff that’s a lot more engaging, the fun and flashy stuff like metaphorical novel writing.
This is the kind of content proportions you should be working to. 70% of your efforts are safe and standard. These pieces work towards making the website stronger and appeals to a large audience. 20% is moderately risky but should appeal to a new audience and the final 10% cis hard, risky and complicated. This can take a lot of effort but you can reap a big reward from it.
When big content works you become like The Beatles. But we’re afraid to do it and that’s bad. We’re not getting into the conversations that we need to be in. We’re just making the same thing over and over again. It’s kind of like writing romance novels - they’re not long lasting and there is no poetry.
And, of course, there are lots of reasons to stick with the norm - it’s too expensive or my client might hate it or the reward is not worth the risk.
Making content is too expensive
The boss won’t give you a big budget. It’s hard to know where to start so you do the same thing over and over again but there are things that you can do.
TimelineJS is really simple. You can build beautiful interactive timelines and put all types of different media in there. It’s then really easy to make artifacts that you can then put onto your website - fill in the data and they sort the design out too. Infogram makes infographics for free and it’s simple to use. If you have a client that doesn’t want to jump into content, let them start by seeing that value and see if you can’t get some traction on that to move forward. Picktochart can help you to display data for free and you don’t have to involve the design team if they’re busy. Big content will have peaks and values but it will keep bringing people back to the website.
The client might hate it
The Cutting Edge was a very clean and simple, interactive infographic but the client hated it, they didn’t like the idea at all. But when faced with things like this, you learn from it because you know who isn’t afraid to take a risk on content. The big boys.
CocaCola put so much effort into their content marketing and they’re very transparent as a company to their people. The same goes for McDonalds in Canada where you can ask them anything you want about their products...and they answer every single question. If you want to stay competitive you need to move your clients into that market.
The internet might hate it
First thing, first - there’s risky, then there’s stupid. Is it racist, sexist, or otherwise irresponsible
Is your content not stupid? Then you should be fine? Do you hate it? You are the internet. Do you see yourself engaging with it.
You’re Afraid of Failure
Mostly we think failing makes someone stupid. We have to stop thinking that way.
Something that starts as bad can be re-purposed and you can learn from the experience. Change your processes. Think about how to check in with a client and make sure you are doing so on every step. This will help to refine your own processes. Failure is how we learn, it’s how we make adjustments. Big content piece adds value to that website. Even content that goes up and fails hard teaches us what we’re doing.
Check out this real time content dashboard to see what works and hone it. Learn from what you’re doing and move on from there. You can also use this dashboard to compare how it’s doing against other stuff on your blog.
Above all, remember there’s a difference between significance and success.
You can’t be successful without being significant.
Take chances and be OK with having some failures along the way.
For the first few years, after Brian had made the decision to leave law school, it was all about email publishing and delivering content directly via email monetize with ads. Here you could start to build audiences and gain press. Those were the dot com days.
It’s all about Permission Marketing (As Godin contests) which with the rise of native advertising and content marketing people accept now but in ‘99 that was an epiphany. What we’re talking about here is a process rather than a series of tactics. The internet is inherently social. Back in 2006, we had blogging or bookmarking sites. Even back then social media was a tool.
Create your content as if social search and email don’t exist.
Here’s how it looks in the all too familiar sales funnel:
Attraction (social and search come into here - the user have a problem or a desire)
Permission (they raise their hands and say yes, you solved my query I want to learn more over time at a general level, blog or via email)
Conversion (opting in for a white paper, still educational but essentially leading them towards the solution you offer)
Sale (what we’re really after)
This is the story of countless mythological characters and every epic blockbuster movie or novel. Your hero is a normal person. Some sort of adventure ensues. There’s some resistance (it’s big and scary and people don’t want to leave) You then have the meeting of a mentor, a wise sage like character. A world of transformation and everything changes.
This is the same for the sales funnel.
Ordinary world (unaware)
Call to Adventure (attraction)
Meeting the Mentor (permission - the mentor is your content the sage that will bring them along their journey, past that point of resistance)
Conversion (Crossing the threshold, they’re right there at the edge of the ordinary world)
This matches your goals and business and their journey as a consumer.
This is the framework. To continue that metaphor: The consumer is Luke Skywalker. Your product or service is Yoda. Your content is Obi Wan.
The 5 Cs of Content Creation
Context - what’s the journey?
Too many people get into content marketing but have no idea why. It’s about the hero and the prospect so, essentially, this stage is the research. Find out their problems and desires, make them the hero and then help them on their journey. One of the most valuable forms of research is keyword research - it has been abused but it’s still one of the most valuable market research tools that you can do. It’s an expression of what people have desires for and the language they use when searching for those things. You’re seeing the attitudes expressed in an unfiltered dialogue. You’ll see this on social media too; if you’re willing to take the time it’s all out there in the wild if you’re willing to take the time. Understand the audience, better than they understand themselves.
Cornerstone - what do they need to know?
On Copyblogger, their cornerstone content is SEO copy writing, content marketing and email marketing, like ten chapters of a book. Writing a series and then publishing this freely on the web. Brian then worked to take those ten posts for day to day content and collected them on a content landing page. Then,with the help of some intro copy, he listed the ten articles with hyperlinks and put it out there. This was great for usability as it’s always prominent in the navigation but if you look at each of those topics, Copyblogger ranks in the top three for a lot of those terms. What do you have to teach people so they will invest in your software and product? Expand on your cornerstone topics.
Connection - what do they need to engage?
You’ll, of course, need some day to day content that supports your cornerstone content but it’s also about the big content. The content events and not being afraid to fail. Don’t give up, you need to keep trying that stuff. There’s two things that made Copyblogger - a report on link baiting and how copy writing helps you do that. It was a home run. Behind the scenes, the team were emailing every blogger on the scene to share it. Some people hated it, some loved it but they all linked it.
Hate me, love me; link.
Here’s a simple thing. Meaning and fascination = engagement and that goes beyond dry and boring. You do have to have that value though and an element of fascination in the headline - a promise that you have to fill in the body of your content.
Conversion - what they need to believe?
Conversion, in this sense, is not what we normally mean i.e taking them off road but the other kind is literally, what do they need to believe. Digital sharecropping fights this conception that using a Facebook page is OK. If people don’t believe in your core belief behind your product then you’re out of luck.
Copy - what’s the offer?
Ultimately, this is the copy we think of copy writing. It is difficult to sell junk in a highly connected internet world. So you need to communicate the benefits - overcome the objections you didn’t get rid of in your content. Answer these in your copy and overcome lingering objections at the point of sale near checkout. Any question the user has is essentially an objection. Resolve questions in your content.
Cornerstone = educate
Connection = engage
Conversion = evangelize
Technology is underpinning how our websites are changing. Your job is not answering which of A or B is better for Google? The future of technical recommendations is business cases. Technical audits kinda suck. That’s not that great - our deliverables are much shorter, there’s an exec summary. But let’s start with this idea.
Win hearts as well as minds.
When we pitch content ideas, the creative team should be part of this process. Hearts first; it could be amazing. Let’s not make it more complicated then. That’s the same for sitespeed. Medium is exceptionally fast. Look how great the web could be - there’s some optimised cleverness. Even the big images load like that. That would be my first argument
Webpagetest puts your website in against your competitors. This then visually shows people how your page responds. That’s a powerful argument and that wins hearts.
Make the argument that customers care
We had a client whose cart showed EUR to US customers so we tested whether or not that made a significant difference but it was Qualaroo that won that argument. We couldn’t even persuade them to test matching the currency to the visitor. Until we tried Qualaroo. This won the argument to make the test and then the data won the argument.
Win minds as well as hearts
We are more often getting asked to forecast how big the impact of a change will be and that’s scary? This is what I like to call the Bezos test. He’s legendary for the management meetings at Amazon; a bunch of senior people in a room sat in silence reading documents and then Bezos rips it to shreds. He is the recipient of your technical audits.
If you’re answering this question - as we grow, as a marketing discipline, we’re starting to win some battles.
A forecast is not a number it’s a story
It is a story though and not just an answer and the answer in many ways is the least important part. It’s really how you got there that counts. Put all the Excel in the appendix. No-one will read it. Sorry. Powerpoint presentation is the thing that wins the argument but the client doesn’t read that. We do need to build the forecast - not many man weeks of effort - build up that model in as light or heavy weight as it makes sense.
Assumptions beat answers. The critical point is in the forecast there is baked in assumptions and they are the things that win the argument for you, that you can sense check and run by others. Decisions should be data aware - not data driven (quite cold and automated)
How to forecast (the impact of technical changes)
Bottom up forecasting:
You start with the little numbers. These are the numbers in your control. If you’re opening up GA, you’ll probably start with Bottoms Up. How many pages are indexed? How many pages have the problem we’re trying to solve?
So we start making assumptions, maybe we can get some of these pages indexed. Lets look at the traffic of the indexed pages, are they in highly metroed areas? Remember, the assumption is the important part. Or you might build out a more multi faceted report. Ultimately, you start to build out this model to run scenarios.
You can start saying which of these are great scenarios and then sense check these with your colleagues. One of the reasons the Bezos test works is that he’s good at receiving these pitches. A lot people who ask for forecasts, aren’t asking for you to be certain. They are making a decision with relatively limited information. They’re going to want to run some of these scenarios. What is the contingency? The work you do, in excel, the output is the story - these are the assumptions and this is how much money we could make.
Top down forecasting:
You start with the big number but that’s a very different thing. That’s not forecasting if you’re just trying to hit the target. Top down starts with numbers of the market, not about yourself. It looks at the market and says there’s this many people searching for this stuff they look for that this way, and you would end up saying if we do this thing, we’d rank in this way …we can capture this percentage of the search market. You may need to get the answer to be bigger.
You’re only going to be successful if this number is above a certain level- this is a good time to discover this, rather than after you’ve built it. You still have time to do something different. If you’ve built the scenarios in the right way, then you can start changing the outcomes.
There are some other options...
Based on tests:
For site wide changes, this isn’t always feasible. High labour means low scale change. You end up with another bottom up forecast - we made this change and it gave us these benefits. If we get those benefits across the whole site, we’d make this much money and that’s a dangerous argument. You’ve cherry picked. Sense checking as you go along. Does it bring that benefit? Go back to the forecast and see if you were right. Do you ever go back and see if you’re right?
People don’t go back and do that but when you’re making these persuasive arguments you are trying to discover whether this will work so you’re going to need to.
How much of a difference will this make? Here’s what happened when somebody else did it. Some of these case studies are published publically for you to take a look at - SEO Gadget’s site migration and similarly with Moz . Even if you don’t have the direct experience, you can get that data from public based data. Present it explicitly like that. Here’s what happened to other people. Gives you some parameters of what bad looks like.
The important thing is to start holding yourself to higher standard even if your boss isn’t. Think of Bezos. Then you can start to work harder to move the needle not just those silly little things. By forecasting more, you’ll find you need to work on bigger ideas and that are more likely to move the needle.
The value of smart technical people who understand the internet has never been higher
Every piece of content should be an indexable piece of text. We can make great UX that are also friendly and we can actually do some of this stuff now. The pipes are big enough. The images can be high quality and this will be really beneficial to all kinds of industries.
Finally, just to comment on two big trends - there’s no such thing as mobile. It’s more about everywhere and how we want to do everything on all of them. Content everywhere. The word mobile is unhelpful. TV is just a big screen. Mobiles and TVs are the same thing - that’s just one dimension. Content is everywhere. Our role as technical marketeers is to be good at persuading and evangelising great user experiences and being good at the technical stuff so we don’t screw up.
Thank you to everyone who came to join us in Paradise at this year’s event. We’ll be announcing dates for the 2014 conference series very soon and we’d love to you be there. You can sign up to hear more about our events as well as receiving these blog posts straight to your inbox over on the homepage.
You stay classy, San Diego.