Digital Marketing – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting http://www.convinceandconvert.com Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:39:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.5 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-convince-convert_C-orange-32x32.png Digital Marketing – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting http://www.convinceandconvert.com 32 32 Jay Baer’s Top 30 Digital Marketing Blogs http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/my-top-33-digital-marketing-blogs/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/my-top-33-digital-marketing-blogs/#comments Thu, 22 Feb 2018 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=19621 What's on your reading list? Keep it fresh with these top digital marketing blogs, read and subscribed to by Jay Baer and the Convince & Convert team.

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Jay Baer’s Top 30 Digital Marketing Blogs

Digital marketing blogs may be numerous, but I find them still to be critical. I’ve been in digital marketing for over 20 years, and the only way you can stay relevant that long is to read A LOT. In digital marketing, if you don’t learn, you die. Period.

Members of the Convince & Convert team all have their own reading lists, based on their interests and their topical expertise. Together, we read nearly close to 200 online publications routinely.

Believe it or not, we keep up with blogs by a familiar and comfortable (for me) method: email. I subscribe via email and read (or at least scan) nearly 50 blogs that way. It’s actually far more than that because several of the sources I devour are actually email aggregators that pull the best posts from many, many blogs. I find that gives me the best coverage.

I recently went through my email for a week and put together this list of the 30 top digital marketing blogs and subscriptions that I consume regularly. If yours isn’t on this list, it doesn’t mean I don’t read or don’t subscribe. I just don’t read it as routinely as I do these others.

Please add your own suggestions in the comments for digital marketing resources I may have overlooked. I’m eager to see which you read, as well.


In digital marketing, if you don’t learn, you die. Period.
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Buffer

This blog has gotten hugely popular in a short period of time because the content is fascinating, topical, and useful. Proud investor in this company, am I.

Cassandra Daily

If it’s not #trending, they don’t write about it. Subscribing is like having a focus group of teenagers that you don’t have to feed.

Contently Content Strategist

I’m really impressed with these guys. Solid info every day for the advanced content marketer.

Content Marketing Institute

The powerhouse of the content marketing industry. Strong information and insights, delivered daily. Great job by the CMI editorial team for keeping the quality consistently high on this multi-author blog.

Convince & Convert

Hey, that’s us! I only write one post a week (in addition to a weekly newsletter, Convince & Convert ON), so I definitely read Convince & Convert every day. Subscribe via email here.

Copyblogger

One of the originals, and still one of the best. A must-read, in my estimation. I owe these guys a huge debt, too, because they’ve helped me a lot with my own blog.

CoSchedule

Smart and purposeful content always wins, and CoSchedule does this as well as any of the top content marketing blogs.

The Daily Carnage

Curated marketing news that is handpicked by the Carney team and delivered with just enough snark to ensure it’s opened daily.

Duct Tape Marketing

From John Jantsch and occasional guest contributors, everything that gets published here is worth examining. We work mostly with medium and large businesses at Convince & Convert, but I still learn a lot from Duct Tape and their scrappy, small biz sensibilities.

Econsultancy

Solid, broad-based digital marketing coverage with a research bent. Very strong in global perspectives and trends, too.

GatherContent Blog

In addition to having a terrific platform, GatherContent has also crafted a highly informative blog. It features posts from GatherContent’s own contributors, plus guests posts from experienced content creators, content strategists, content marketers, and more. They’re giving an amazing amount of strategic information away.

{grow}

From my friend the author, speaker, and college professor Mark Schaefer and a good crew of guest writers. {Grow} is a place to find conversations about topics that aren’t covered in the more news-oriented blogs. Also a great example of a multi-author blog that somehow maintains a consistent editorial voice.

Hubspot

Remarkable volume of useful content. Essentially defined what a B2B blog could (and should be). These guys live and breathe Youtility (which is why they are mentioned in my book).

Hootsuite Blog

The Hootsuite Blog is a fantastic example of what it looks like to provide real value and relevance through content. Yes, the blog leans more toward social updates and how-tos, but it also has a mix of everything you could need when it comes to digital strategy advice and insights.

Ignite Social Media

I don’t read that many blogs written by a single agency, but Jim Tobin and the crew at Ignite seem to consistently come up with interesting approaches that I don’t see everywhere else. Bravo! Jim’s book Earn It, Don’t Buy It is full of TRUTH, too. (I got to write the foreword).

MediaReDef

Must-read for media observers. A delicious, curated mix of tech and pop culture. Great trend watching.

PR Daily News

From Ragan, a nice aggregation of posts of interest to public relations folks. Curated from other sources, and some original content.

PSFK

Maybe my favorite email to receive each day (other than Quartz, which didn’t make this list because it’s not about digital marketing). PSFK is like Willy Wonka marketing. Amazing case studies and super interesting experiments from around the world. I find a TON of my Youtility examples for keynote speeches from PSFK.

Readwrite

My preferred tech news, geek, gadget site. Not strictly digital marketing per se, but terrific at keeping me up on broader tech and social media issues.

Six Pixels of Separation

I’ll never be as smart as Mitch Joel, or as prolific. Thoughtful brilliance flows on this blog like water from a tap. The wide topical array makes it such that not every post is for every reader, but stick with Mitch, and you’re guaranteed to receive something worth your attention at regular intervals.

Social Media Examiner

Outstanding tactical coverage of all things social media, from Mike Stelzner and his excellent team. Brings the best of Social Media Marketing World to your inbox all year long.

Social Media Explorer

Founded by my pal Jason Falls, this is a thinking person’s blog of social media and digital marketing issues.

Social Media Today

A powerhouse aggregator site that has more and more content written specifically for it, too. Noise-to-signal ratio can be a little high, but frequently you’ll find interesting concepts, and it’s a very good source of fresh voices.

SocialPro Daily

From Adweek, this daily digest covers the social webs from breaking news to how-to posts. If you only check one source to keep up with the heartbeat of social media, this is a best bet.

Spin Sucks

Outstanding blog for PR folks, with a side order of content marketing and social media. Led by rockstar Gini Dietrich, with help from a great cast of guest writers. Incredibly active community too, similar to {Grow} and GatherContent.

Statista

Info-junkies like me will never tire of discovering new or useful research and stats to plug into blog posts and speaking presentations. Statista sends a Chart of the Day infographic to your email, and offers a wealth of free (in addition to paid) data and infographics on the website.

Think with Google

While not a “traditional blog,” this resource center makes my UX-loving heart happy. With insights and mind-blowing studies galore, Think with Google is a wonderful cross-section of content, design, UX, CX, marketing, and more. It’s an absolute must-read for everyone, no matter what industry or role you work within.

TopRank

Outstanding coverage of content marketing, search marketing, research, and interviews from Lee Odden and his team. Popular, and deservedly so.

Uberflip

Content experience is the name of this game, in both thematics and UX. Uberflip’s content hub mixes short videos with podcast episodes and traditional blog posts. Bonus: the meta experience of getting Uberflip’s best thinking on their own Uberflip hub.

Yext

When everyone, including Facebook, is shifting attention back to local community and location, expect marketing advice to follow. My friend Jeff Rohrs and the team at Yext are one step ahead here providing sound advice for SMB and B2C marketers.

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4 Major Signs You Should Invest in Sales Enablement http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/invest-in-sales-enablement/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/invest-in-sales-enablement/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=149240 Empower your sellers to improve their productivity, accelerate buyer journeys, and reach sales goals faster with help from sales enablement.

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4 Major Signs You Should Invest in Sales Enablement

The sales landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. Organizations are implementing sales enablement strategies in order to stay ahead of the market. These strategies help sellers improve productivity, accelerate the buyer’s journey, and ultimately reach their target sales goals faster than ever.

If these are all goals you’re looking to accomplish with your sales team, it might be time to invest in sales enablement. In this post, we’ll review five signs you might need to invest in sales enablement, and how your organization can work towards a successful journey today.

1. You Keep Sellers on a Tight Leash

If you’re in marketing or sales management, you may often feel like you have to keep tabs on your sellers, as you don’t want them going rogue and adding slides to their decks that are off-brand. Your organization likely spends a lot of time and energy creating engaging content for every stage of the buyer’s journey. So why are sellers still inserting dated slides that completely alter the company messaging?

If you’ve been trying to micro-manage your sellers’ content, this may be a telling sign you need a better sales enablement strategy. Sales enablement tools actually allow you to let sellers run wild (within reason!) without fainting. With sales enablement, you can empower sellers to choose the right content that’s resonating the best, based on high visibility, into how sales decks are performing across the organization. This gives them the edge they need to move prospects through the sales cycle quicker with content you know will resonate.

Sales enablement also allows sales leaders to implement best practices and ensure every seller always has the most effective materials at their fingertips. It also helps you spot content that’s being circulated with last year’s messaging, and easily find and kill dated content.

Don’t keep sellers on a tight leash. Empower them with the right solutions, and rest easy knowing they’re sharing the right content with the right audience.


Don't keep sellers on a tight leash. Empower them through sales enablement.
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2. You Overspend on Content Creation

You’ve probably heard the grim statistic that 65 percent of marketing content is never used by the sales team. This means nearly two-thirds of your investment in marketing content is wasted, and the ROI of content that’s never used is zero. Yikes!

If you think you’re spending a lot of time creating content that isn’t getting used in the field, it might be time to invest in sales enablement. You can ensure you’re dedicating resources efficiently by measuring the business impact of your content. Sales enablement tools with analytics capabilities allow you to track content availability and usage at every sales stage, as well as measure and optimize your content performance. You can pinpoint what content is helping generate revenue and ensure you’re dedicating your resources appropriately to maintain high performing content with high ROI.

3. You Aren’t Sure Your Message Is Landing

If you’re spending all of your time in content creation, you want to ensure the message you’re arming your sales team with is resonating every time. If you don’t have the tools to measure your content effectiveness, you could be wondering why your prospects aren’t answering your emails and phone calls.

Sales enablement tools with analytics capabilities provide the data you need to gain actionable insight and create and maintain better content that will ultimately help sellers close more deals. Analytics not only allow you to track engagement of your sellers’ presentations, but also track open rates, downloads, and shares of all of your assets via email, your website, etc. This gives you the ability to track what content your customers are spending the most time on. It also provides a holistic understanding of what messaging is working and what isn’t across the organization.

This is invaluable and allows you to take the guesswork out of content creation and strategy, as well as help your marketing team align content for every stage of the buyer’s journey for each persona.

4. Sales Productivity Is Low or Flat

Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company or a growing startup, it’s crucial to ensure your sales team is working as efficiently as possible. If one of your sales reps meets with a prospect who’s interested in your product and wants to see examples of similar customer use cases and estimated ROI, you need to ensure your sellers have that data on the fly. But if your company doesn’t have an organized content repository, the chances of your sales rep finding the right content quickly are slim. This is where sales enablement comes in.

Companies can easily increase sales productivity by implementing sales enablement tools that include Content Management Systems (CMS) with granular search capabilities. In a recent study conducted by Highspot, 75 percent of respondents from companies using sales enablement tools reported that their company had increased sales over the past 12 months. Nearly 40 percent reported sales increased more than 25 percent.

It’s easy to put sales enablement on the backburner, but taking time to research the right tools for your team can make a huge impact on sales productivity and pipeline. Investing in sales enablement not only helps sellers identify the right content to improve customer conversations and increase sales readiness—it ultimately helps your organization create better content that resonates with consumers, closes more deals, and helps you generate more success.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of February 12 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-february-12/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-february-12/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:23:12 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=149227 This week's best marketing podcasts offer crash courses in smart negotiation, personalization, and word of mouth marketing.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of February 12

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Six Pixels of Separation

Six Pixels of Separation # 605: Next Level Negotiation Skills With Chris Voss

Have you ever had to negotiate as if your life depended on it? I know—it’s certainly not what you were expecting from a podcast recommendation column. But Mitch Joel’s latest guest, Chris Voss, has done it. In a former life, he was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and representative the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group as a hostage negotiator. Yeah. INTENSE. These days, Chris teaches negotiation at USC and Georgetown University and wrote “one of the best books [Mitch] has read in a long time.”

Takeaways: Chris wants us master “no,” not “yes.” This flies in the face of traditional negotiation tactics, but Chris says “yes” is a trap. When people say no in any situation, especially in a negotiation, it makes them feel safe.

“We have been so battered by people trying to get us to say yes to something,” Chris says, “that it’s a ground-ball to get them to say no.” Intentionally going for no makes any interaction go much smoother, even though it may not seem the best way forward.

Chris finishes his point with a story of how a recent political campaign lead by one of his Georgetown students used the “no” approach with great success. The campaign called Republican voters using both “yes” and “no” methods as a means of an A/B split test. The results? The calls conducted using the “no” script yielded a 23 percent greater donation rate compared to the “yes” script. I think it’s about time we begin to master our “no!”

CONEX: How to Create a Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy

In their true “first” episode of the new Conex (which stands for Content Experience) Show, hosts Randy Frisch and Anna Hrach interview the show’s co-producer, Jay Baer.

Those of you reading this likely know Jay from all the things he does here on his home site. But you may not know that he’s co-writing a new book focused on the underrated power of word of mouth (WOM) marketing.

Given the sheer competitive volume that now exists through social media and content marketing, we as marketers and business operators need to find more cost-effective avenues to getting in front of our customers. Fortunately, Jay lays out the path to leveraging WOM marketing in 2018 and beyond.

Takeaways: According to Engagement Labs, 19 percent of all US purchases are driven by word of mouth, with up to 40 percent of these purchases influenced by WOM. These numbers are even higher in the B2B space, given the heavy pull that a trusted perspective can have on a very important business decision.

In order to make WOM work for your business—to give them a story, as it were—you have to do something outside of the frame of their current expectations. Jay shares a very cool quote from his co-author, Daniel Lemin, which states, “Same is lame.” It’s catchy, and it’s true.

When you do something original, something that will make you known (shoutout to Mark Schaefer), you create something worth sharing. This compels your current customers to tell their friends, which marks the start of an excellent WOM campaign.

Jay mentions this early in the podcast, but I believe it connects perfectly to what he describes later in the show: “If your content isn’t an experience, what’s the point of doing the content?

He then goes on to pose his own question: Unless the content you’re creating for your audience is their “favorite”—favorite podcast, favorite YouTube channel, favorite newsletter, etc.—then why are you doing it at all?

Are your company’s story and content something worth experiencing?


Are your company’s story and content something worth experiencing?
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Marketing Smarts

Marketing Smarts: Personalizing Your B2B Marketing to Supercharge Lead Gen—Adobe’s Drew Burns

Host Kerry O’Shea Gorgone invites Drew Burns, the senior product marketing manager for Adobe Target, on the show to discuss the best ways to personalize website and business experiences for B2B companies. With Drew’s extensive background in content targeting and testing, he was the perfect selection for this terrific topic. In this episode, they dig into lead generation, personalization, and of course, how to optimize it all.

Takeaways: According to Drew, the B2B companies that will succeed are the companies that use personalization to their advantage. He is already seeing from his analysis that companies who are not implementing these personalized approaches are losing business. Customers are looking for something that speaks to them directly—and immediately. When they don’t find it, they move on.

Personalization can reduce the frustration a visitor experiences when they visit your site, especially that first time. By dynamically pulling in information from a generic Google search, your site may be able to guide the customer into an area more highly relevant to them than the homepage, creating a more effective experience.

Drew mentions that many of Adobe’s customers are seeing a massive, 25X return on their targeting and personalization investments. While it’s not always the sexiest work, it is damn effective and can yield remarkable returns when done correctly.

Does your site have the right personalization tools and strategies in place?

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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The Sensitive Marketer’s Guide to Brand Authenticity http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/guide-to-brand-authenticity/ Mon, 12 Feb 2018 16:31:32 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148614 Companies that prioritize brand authenticity flourish, while marketers who play fast and loose with consumer trust pay the consequences.

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The Sensitive Marketer's Guide to Brand Authenticity

Consumers see up to 10,000 messages from brands every day. From mobile ads to social media posts to television commercials, no one can escape.

As a coping mechanism, people have learned to weed out the cheap from the authentic by listening to honest brands (those that are always transparent and trusted by consumers) and ignoring fake ones. Companies with authentic messages flourish, while marketers who attempt to mislead customers or participate in an unrelated conversation pay the consequences.

The Consequences of Inauthentic Messaging

Sometimes, the biggest brands make the biggest mistakes in the form of messages that lack authenticity and consumer trust.

When legendary “Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher passed away last year, Cinnabon used the opportunity to promote its product in an ill-conceived ode to the actress. Cinnabon posted an outline of Princess Leia with a Cinnabon Classic Roll in place of her iconic hairstyle. Fans cried foul, forcing the company to retract the ad and issue an apology for a style that Fisher famously never liked much anyway.

Back in 2014, DiGiorno tried to insert itself into a conversation where it didn’t belong and faced severe backlash. Hopping on the trending #WhyIStayed hashtag, DiGiorno’s account posted “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Unfortunately, the hashtag was not about hanging out with friends but about domestic abuse victims and their struggles to escape bad environments. The blunder now serves as a reminder of why brands must always do their research before attaching themselves to popular topics.

When brands don’t practice what they preach, consumers notice. During the iPhone 6 release, customers were concerned about rumors the phones would bend and break if handled roughly. Attempting to capitalize on this fear, the LG France account posted about how LG phones didn’t bend—but sent the tweet from an iPhone. Consumers ridiculed the brand, pointing out that even LG employees didn’t use its products.

In all these situations, brands were dragged through the public square on social media for being inauthentic. Each one admitted the errors and issued apologies, but in the age of screenshots and Facebook Memories, their mistakes will live on forever.


Brands: Always, always do your research before attaching yourself to popular trends and topics.
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Why Brands Should Admit Their Faults

Businesses cannot afford to become their own enemies online. According to Havas Media, consumers only trust about 22 percent of brands. Inauthentic messaging suggests to customers the company does not believe in its own missions, products, and services. If the company doesn’t believe in itself, why should anyone else?

Brands with inauthentic messaging distance themselves from their audiences and open the door for more down-to-earth competitors to steal their customers. People ally with brands because they see their own personalities and values reflected, but most people don’t want to describe themselves as insincere, foolish, or untrustworthy. When brands step outside their identities and try to latch on to unrelated trends, customers notice—and the results are rarely positive.

Consumers, especially millennials, want to do business with brands they believe in. Forbes and Elite Daily found that 43 percent of millennials rank authenticity as more important than content when consuming news. Audiences would rather hear something unflattering yet true than something positive yet questionable. They don’t expect brands to be perfect—all they require is a little honesty.

How to Stay Authentic

Maintaining an authentic brand message means telling the truth, even when the truth isn’t particularly flattering. It’s just like real life: People trust those who admit their faults but distrust those who claim to do no wrong.

By following these strategies, brands can prove their authenticity and maintain audience trust:

1. Be Transparent

Selective transparency is impossible to maintain. Someone inevitably forgets which secrets aren’t supposed to be public, and when something slips, consumers feel like they have been misled. To maintain an authentic image, be transparent about all issues within the company.

A recent consumer study found that 56 percent of those surveyed said additional product information—like where a brand sources its goods and how it makes its products—instills more brand trust. Further, close to 40 percent said they would switch brands if the new one promised complete transparency.

Bottom line: Let clients know about delays and potentially bad PR before they hear the same news from somewhere else. This helps the brand get ahead of issues before they spiral out of control. It also creates deeper bonds with customers who appreciate being kept in the loop.

2. Apologize for Mistakes

Companies make mistakes all the time. Brands that own their mistakes fare much better than those that try to cover them up.

In October, an NPR employee accidentally posted on the company Facebook account instead of a personal one. NPR quickly took down the post, which discussed Ramona and her affection for cats, and issued a brief apology. Because the company owned the mistake quickly—and because it was an innocent mistake to boot—readers reacted warmly to the mix-up.

3. Solve Problems

After apologizing for mistakes, don’t assume everything is back to normal. Provide the audience with a resolution—an action that shows how the company will fix the problem and prevent it from happening in the future.

Wells Fargo is still paying dearly for lost consumer trust after allowing employees to create millions of fake accounts in customers’ names. When it became immediately clear that an apology could never undo the damage, Wells Fargo began a campaign to “make things right,” communicating with customers about eliminating unattainable sales goals and providing settlement expenses. The company still has a long way to go, but in the case of major mistakes like this one, actions speak far louder than words.

Curating an authentic brand image doesn’t have to be so hard. By following these strategies, companies can engage in honest dialogues with their audiences and set a foundation of trust that will pay dividends for years to come.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of February 5 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-february-5/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-february-5/#respond Fri, 09 Feb 2018 14:51:05 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=149125 This week's must-listen marketing podcasts feature live business coaching, in-depth discussions on hiring a virtual assistant, and examples of unforgettable customer service.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of February 5

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Duct Tape Marketing Podcast

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast: How a Virtual Assistant Can Save Your Sanity and Grow Your Business

Jess Ostroff is not only the managing editor of Convince & Convert. She is also the founder and Director of Calm at Don’t Panic Management, a virtual assistance agency. A few weeks ago, Jess released her first book—Panic Proof: How the Right Virtual Assistant Can Grow Your Business and Save Your Sanity—and is sharing how employing virtual assistants can take your business to new heights.

She joined host John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing to explore how she got her start in freelancing, how she keeps her team focused on the skills that make them indispensable, and why her business model is so cost-effective for so many organizations.

Takeaways: Unless you’re a workaholic and like working late hours, getting someone who enjoys doing the tasks that bog you down makes sense on so many levels. Being a business owner or a manager is hard enough as it is without adding the additional stress of handling the necessary, albeit challenging, tasks we must complete.

Jess points out that hiring a full-time team member for a task that will only require 20 hours of dedication, as opposed to the typical 40, is unfair to both the company and the employee. “[T]here [are] so many choices and so many ways to get the right person for the right job,” she says, and she’s absolutely right.

The freelance economy can certainly be a tough jungle to maneuver, but when you find the right people, it makes perfect sense.

AskPat

AskPat 1001: How Do I Streamline My Business so I’m Not Overwhelmed?

As host Pat Flynn goes into his next 1000 episodes, he’s changing things up a bit. Instead of taking questions over voicemail and answering “off-air,” he’s holding live coaching sessions and recording for his listeners.

It’s a cool concept that I haven’t heard in the marketing space very often. Considering Pat’s abilities to think on the fly, it’s a perfect fit, and he’ll certainly never run out of guests looking to find the right answers for their business.

In this episode, Pat welcomes Gianna from Family Fun Twin Cities, a blog looking to be the one-stop resource for things to do with kids in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Takeaways: Gianna’s question at the 4:43 mark of the podcast is the heart of the episode: How do we go above and beyond for our customers without burning ourselves out?

Gianna is truly trying to build long-term relationships with both her audience and her clients. It’s certainly the right thing to do, but it can be quite difficult to balance. Pat listens to Gianna carefully and, after each of her answers, either further clarifies or offers excellent, actionable advice that she and her business partners can execute.

For example, one of the cool things they agree on is creating separate email campaigns for clients that are separate from the emails destined for FFTC subscribers. While it might seem simple, it’s often the simplest solution that turns a worrisome issue and into an impactful piece of your business. I’m a fan of the way Pat is now running his show, and I hope he’s able to help a lot of people.


How do we go above and beyond for our customers without burning ourselves out?
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Unpodcast

Unpodcast #208: It’s All Downhill from Here

It’s been a little while since we’ve included our fine friends from north of the border, Scott and Alison Stratten. In this edition of the show, they go over Chewy’s knack for customer service (and as someone who used to work for a direct competitor, this is absolutely true), Alison’s Endy mattress story, a new Yelp policy that could be harmful for everyone, and yes, yet another hotel charging for bad reviews. Now, where have we seen this before?

Takeaways: Since I already called out the Chewy example, let’s stick with them. Two customers tragically lost both of their dogs in one weekend and then received two, 40-pound bags of dog food from Chewy as part of their auto-ship order. It’s gut-wrenching.

When I worked at Pet360, we’d often encounter a pet parent who ordered food or a toy for their pup only to find out that their pet had passed away. These situations were difficult to handle, but we’d also start with our condolences, encourage them to donate the food or toys to a local shelter, and refund their purchase.

What Chewy did, and does, goes above and beyond. They did all of the things Pet360 did but also asked for a picture of the dogs and included them in a memorial book to honor their pups. And they didn’t stop there—Chewy also sent flowers to express their condolences.

The experience that Chewy has created for their customers is unsurpassed in the pet world. Even though PetSmart has since acquired them, their culture that puts the customer first continues to produce incredible stories like this one. As much as I disliked Chewy during my time at Pet360, I respected the hell out of them. Every brand can learn from these top dogs.

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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Non-Creepy Personalized Marketing Must Have Youtility http://www.convinceandconvert.com/baer-facts/non-creepy-personalized-marketing/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/baer-facts/non-creepy-personalized-marketing/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=149013 Personalized marketing is reaching new heights, combing big data and machine learning. But for consumers to embrace it, personalized marketing must be truly, inherently useful writes Jay Baer.

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Non-Creepy Personalized Marketing Must Have Youtility

Is personalized marketing good, or evil?

I’ve been asked some form of this question so many times, in so many places, by so many different types of companies. I figured I should answer it here, in writing.

Actually, you may have ASKED this question—if not of me, of someone. Maybe of yourself?

The question often sounds like this: “When does personalized marketing cross the line and become creepy?”

We think that this line is thin, and that just the slightest push toward additional customization based on behavior or inferred intent will send potential customers running, afraid that “big data” has run amok.

We think that personalized marketing is like the famous line from Spinal Tap: “There’s a fine line between stupid and clever.”

The reality is that the line is actually pretty wide. Customers are, in fact, exceptionally tolerant of personalization (even hyper-personalization) as long as ONE THING IS TRUE: The personalization must either inform or reduce friction, period.

In short, the personalization must be a Youtility.

This may seem axiomatic to you. “Of course, if we’re going to personalize, it should be in service of an enhanced customer experience,” you may think. But that is by no means always the case, is it? If you’ve ever bought a product and then seen ads all over the damn internet for the SAME PRODUCT YOU JUST BOUGHT, you know that personalization isn’t always useful, and sometimes can be downright irksome.

Understanding that personalized marketing must be useful—so useful that people would pay for it, to quote the definition of Youtility—is critical. Because we are very quickly entering an all-new era of digital marketing; an era where the availability of big data makes it very, very easy to personalize customer communications and interactions in a way that would have been unthinkably complex just a short time ago.

We’ve talked about the power of 1:1 marketing for a long, long, LONG time. But now, artificial intelligence and machine learning have teamed up with real-time data collection to give just about every marketer the option to personalize some, or a lot, of the customer experience.

And that power is intoxicating in ways both good and bad. The option to give customers just what they want, when they want it, and where they want it based on what we know or can ferret out about them SHOULD improve CX. But the ONLY way to insure that it does is to start every personalization project with one, simple question:

“How does this improve the customers’ lives, regardless of its impact on the company?”

Ask yourself that, and your personalization efforts will always contain enough incremental usefulness that customers will largely embrace it, even when it is FREAKY.

Look at Netflix, for example.

Netflix Uses Potentially Creepy Personalized Marketing, but With Youtility

In an extraordinary column on Medium published last month, Netflix data engineers described, in detail, precisely how they create as many as a dozen different pieces of “cover art” for every Netflix show.

Based on other shows you’ve watched, Netflix automatically serves you the artwork that the algorithm believes best matches your thematic and actor preferences, subtly encouraging you to watch more, because the graphic makes you believe, “This show is exactly what I want to watch!”

For the movie Good Will Hunting, for instance, Netflix serves up different images based on whether it thinks your affinity is stronger for Robin Williams or romantic comedies.

Someone who has watched many romantic movies may be interested in Good Will Hunting if we show the artwork containing Matt Damon and Minnie Driver, whereas, a member who has watched many comedies might be drawn to the movie if we use the artwork containing Robin Williams, a well-known comedian.

But the machine learning behind these personalized artwork decisions is much more dynamic and robust than just Minnie Driver versus Robin Williams. For the hit show Stranger Things, for example, Netflix included in their Medium post a collection of nine very different images, each designed to appeal to different members based on their preferences (!!!):

You might think this is at least a little invasive. It’s definitely fascinating, looking at the same programs on Netflix when you’re logged in as yourself versus as your spouse, to see what the algorithm has determined each of you prefers.

But we tolerate this data mining because it has enough Youtility for us. The trade-off between loss of privacy and more compelling video content recommendations seems like a good deal.

You may not have a room full of data scientists cooking up this kind of personalization. (When I first read the Netflix post on Medium, when I got to the part about HOW it works, my head almost exploded.) But you don’t need scientists. You need to understand that personalization is just a value exchange, the same way that asking for an email is a value exchange.

The same way that connecting with someone on Linkedin is a value exchange.

The same way that paying someone to mow your lawn so you have more time to do other stuff is a value exchange.

You Don’t Get to Decide What’s Good Personalized Marketing, But They Do

As marketers, assisted by robots, our ability and opportunity to personalize with data is wizardry made commonplace. But we cannot ever forget that our audiences—not us—are those that decide what is satisfying and what is creepy. They decide what is clever and what is stupid. They decide what is in bounds and what is out of bounds.

And in almost every case, that decision is based solely on whether or not the personalization makes their lives better, or just helps you sell more stuff.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of January 29 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-january-29/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-january-29/#respond Fri, 02 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=149034 This week's best marketing podcast episodes dig deep into three different entrepreneurial journeys, plus a glimpse at how wearable tech is changing marketing.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of January 29

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Problem Solvers

Problem Solvers from Entrepreneur: How A Young, New, Female Boss Took Over Her Male-Dominated Company

Growing up, Chrissy Monaco’s family owned a car dealership. She would help her dad and brothers with different tasks during her summers and intended to work there until she fully understood what her career calling was. And that’s exactly what happened—her calling was right under her nose.

Chrissy’s journey took her from boss’s daughter to the boss in less than a decade. She paid her dues and has overcome obstacles that would leave me stumped. As host Jason Feifer learns in this episode, Chrissy found that opportunity she was looking for was closer than she’d have ever imagined.

Takeaways: When you uncover where you really want to succeed, it’s best to go all in—even when you know you don’t know the answers. One of the reasons I came to respect Chrissy more and more as the episode progressed is how she so quickly identifies where she needs to improve. Instead of shying away from inefficiencies, Chrissy took the wheel (yes, pun intended) and drove herself to be the leader her team needed.

I really enjoyed this episode and the way this new podcast from Entrepreneur is formatted. We’ll be exploring more of these episodes in the coming weeks!

The Marketing Companion Podcast

The Marketing Companion: Preparing for Your Future Marketing Career

When you look at your own career, whether you’re fresh out of school or creeping closer to retirement, you’re probably in a much different place than you expected you’d end up. I’m reminded of the quote, “It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.”

In this episode, Mark Schaefer and Tom Webster explore the long, strange journey they’ve experienced during their careers. We get a peek into some of their least favorite jobs and the decisions that lead them to the most rewarding portions of their careers.

Takeaways: Mark and Tom each began their professional lives in industries outside of marketing. As they explored and grew, the pair ultimately found marketing to be the most challenging and exciting opportunity for them.

One of the pieces I find the most interesting is the conversation that occurs just before the 24-minute mark, when Mark asks Tom how he stays relevant in today’s business landscape.

Our two hosts share how staying in the same business (one as an employee, one as the business owner) for more than 10 years certainly hasn’t been dull. The challenges shift, but their experience and expertise have grown along with the complexity of the tests they’ve faced.

Listening to Mark and Tom, it’s clear that those who align themselves with their organization’s mission are (more likely) the most fulfilled pros. Regardless of the path you start off on, you’ll be greeted by choices that challenge you. The questions we encounter will shape the next road we take and how we reach our destinations, even as they evolve.


Those who align themselves with their organization's mission are the most fulfilled pros.
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Making the Brand

Making the Brand: Wearable Marketing Platforms – Jason Kaplan

Mr. Podcast himself, Chris Brogan, is back with a brand-new show. Making the Brand is a podcast about companies pushing the boundaries of brand building and customer experience. It’s only two episodes in, but since I’ve enjoyed the other podcasts Chris has developed over the years, I was excited when he announced this one. Unsurprisingly, this did not disappoint.

In this episode, founder of Milestone Sports Jason Kaplan joins Chris to talk about the wearable marketing platform (yes, platform) he and his team have created in the running shoe market. It’s cool tech with some fabulous opportunities ahead.

Takeaways: Let’s say you’re a business that manufactures a physical good that your customer can use over and over again before it needs to be replaced. You know there’s a general timeframe before the product begins to lose its luster, but you can’t be entirely sure. With a Milestone tracker, both company and customer benefit by becoming the data intermediary to help facilitate a greater customer experience.

The concepts that Jason is talking about are beyond fascinating. Not even two minutes into the meat of the program, Chris stops the interview to say, “Put some highlighter in your ear.” Not only do I love Chris for being Chris there, but he underscores the genius that is Milestone’s product.

Intermediary communication products between consumer and brand are fun peeks into the future. Would you use a product like Milestone on your physical goods?

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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The 6 Critical Chatbot Statistics for 2018 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/6-critical-chatbot-statistics-for-2018/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/6-critical-chatbot-statistics-for-2018/#respond Wed, 31 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148952 Chatbots are all the rage. Here are the key 2018 statistics you need to know as you consider adopting chatbots for your business. Jay Baer analyzes research from Drift, Salesforce, and myclever.

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The 6 Critical Chatbot Statistics for 2018

Although they’ve technically been around since the 1950s, virtual chatbots only recently became popularized, as brands implement them to reach more customers with greater efficiency.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, for example, launched a chatbot via Facebook Messenger called “BB” (stands for BlueBot). The primary function of BB is to help passengers book tickets and keep them up to date on flight status, gate changes, and similar data-driven functions.

The company built the chatbot to assist its human support team, which handles more than 16,000 customer interactions weekly, according to coverage on the MarTech Today blog. In just the first six months of operation, BB sent nearly two million messages to more than 500,000 customers. Recently, KLM expanded the reach of the chatbot by hooking it up to Google Home, adding an audio/voice layer—an interesting augmentation.

I wrote about the rise of chatbots in my book, Hug Your Haters, and since then the rollout of chatbots has become even more extensive. But as I wrote about recently here at Convince & Convert, the truth is that a lot of chatbots (and live chat technologies) frustrate and disappoint customers, the very group they are supposed to aid.

Despite the missteps in execution, most consumers (in all generational categories) are relatively bullish on what chatbots can do, when, and how.

This became clear in a 2018 research project that surveyed more than 1000 adults in the USA, aged 18 to 64, balanced by age and gender. The survey sampling was provided by SurveyMonkey Audience, and the study itself was written and conducted by Drift, Salesforce (disclosure: Salesforce is a sponsor of my podcast, SocialPros), and myclever.

You may download a copy of the entire study here—no email address required. I have summarized the findings for you in this post, the 6 Critical Chatbot Statistics for 2018.

Chatbots and Amazon Alexa Are Equally Popular

Certainly, as we found in the Hug Your Haters research, telephone and email are still the most common forms of interaction between customers and companies.

60 percent of survey respondents say they have used these mechanisms to interact with a business in the past 12 months.

38 percent say they have used online chat in the prior year.

30 percent indicate they’ve used a company’s mobile app to interact.

28 percent have engaged with a business in social media.

As of 2018, 15 percent of American adults (per this survey) say they have used a chatbot to interact with a company in the prior 12 months. This is almost precisely the same percentage of Americans who own a smart speaker (Amazon Alexa, Google Home, et al.) as of January, 2018 per research from our friends at Edison.


15% of American adults have used a chatbot. 16% own a smart speaker like Amazon Alexa.
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37 Percent of Americans Would Use a Chatbot in an Emergency

The survey respondents were asked what they would use a chatbot for, if available.

Interestingly, the most common use case for chatbots is “getting a quick answer in an emergency” at 37 percent. Personally, if I have an emergency, I’m not sure THAT’s the time I’m likely to turn to a robot for fast and accurate guidance.

The second-most-common use case is “resolving a complaint or problem” at 35 percent. This makes a ton of sense, and I profiled several companies (most notably, HP) in the Hug Your Haters book that are using chatbots to augment customer service, like KLM above.

Getting detailed answers or explanations is how 35 percent of respondents might use a chatbot. This is problematic today, as many of the circumstances where early-stage chatbots fall apart is in nuanced, specific requests from customers. Because chatbots—even with artificial intelligence—can only respond to what they are programmed to respond to, detailed answers are not where they tend to shine.

34 percent of respondents say they would use a chatbot to find a human customer service assistant. This one is pretty meta. If we have to use a robot to find a real person, that doesn’t say much for the capabilities of the robot, does it?

Other uses of chatbots make more sense (at least to me). They include:

  • Making a reservation: 33 percent
  • Paying a bill: 29 percent
  • Adding yourself to a mailing list: 22 percent

37% of Americans would use a chatbot to get a quick answer, in an emergency.
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24-Hour Service Is the Number One Chatbot Benefit

Participants in this survey were also asked about the primary benefits of chatbots, provided they were available and working for the online services these Americans used most.

Speed and availability are where chatbots are perceived to provide the most value to consumers.

Specifically, 64 percent of respondents said “24-hour service” is a benefit of chatbots.

The second most mentioned benefit is “getting an instant response,” mentioned by 55 percent of the participants.

“Getting answers to simple questions” (55 percent) and “easy communication” (51 percent) were also mentioned by more than half of respondents.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, “friendliness and approachability” (32 percent) are not areas where consumers believe chatbots are particularly strong. This is despite the manifest efforts of many brands to make their chatbots more “human.” Plenty of work to do in this regard, it appears.


64% of Americans say 24-hour service is the best feature of chatbots. Do you agree?
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Chatbots Are Equally Popular Among Millennials and Baby Boomers

This finding surprised me somewhat. The research discovered that the perceived benefits of chatbots are roughly equivalent among younger Millennials consumers and older Baby Boomer Americans. In fact, in several areas, Boomers are actually MORE bullish about chatbots’ potential that are members of the younger cohort.

For example, 61 percent of participating Baby Boomers say a potential chatbot benefit is “getting an instant response,” while just 51 percent of Millennials say the same.

Let’s recognize that “potential benefits” do not equal “usage,” but these findings indicate that older Americans are at least open to the premise of useful chatbots.


Millennials and Baby Boomers are equally bullish on the potential of chatbots.
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Nearly Half of American Adults Would Prefer to Deal with a Human

In the survey, participants were asked a simple and important question: “What would STOP you from using a chatbot?”

The number one answer is a tough one for chatbots to overcome, at least for a while: our innate desire to interact with other humans.

43 percent of adult Americans say they prefer to deal with a real-life assistant, rather than a chatbot.

I guess you can look at that as a half-full or half-empty statistic. On one hand, nearly half the country would just prefer to handle their business with another person. Fair enough. However, nearly six in 10 Americans do not object to using a chatbot in some circumstances.

As chatbots improve, it will be fascinating to see if this objection fades away.

The second hurdle for chatbot usage is actually related to the first. 30 percent say that they “worry about the chatbot making a mistake.”

Conversely, on the other end of the response scale, 15 percent of survey participants indicate that NOTHING would stop them from using a chatbot. That’s a high level of trust in technology!


15% of Americans say nothing would stop them from using a chatbot.
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Users Prefer Chatbots Over Apps When Communicating with Companies

In almost every case, respondents indicate they believe chatbots offer more benefits when communicating with businesses, in comparison to apps. The biggest difference is in the area of “getting quick answers to simple questions,” where 69 percent of participants say chatbots are up to the task, compared to 51 percent for apps.

Users also believe chatbots to be superior in the areas of “24-hour service” (62 percent versus 54 percent and “ability to easily register a complaint” (33 percent versus 24 percent) among others.

Apps fare better than chatbots in just three categories, but they are all important:

  • Convenience (chatbots, 53 percent versus apps, 57 percent)
  • Ease of communication (chatbots, 35 percent versus apps, 41 percent)
  • A good customer experience (chatbots, 28 percent versus apps, 30 percent)

It’s interesting that in the circumstances where users believe chatbots to be superior, they’re FAR superior. But in the core function of easy, convenient, and customer experience, apps are perceived to be better, for now.

The full study also includes comparisons between chatbots and email, and chatbots and the telephone.


Compared to apps, chatbots are believed to be faster, but not as convenient.
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Chatbots are popping up like dandelions, and companies are rolling them out to save money and (in theory) add customer convenience. In 2018, overall consumer reaction to chatbots is positive, but still somewhat wary. This is probably wise, as chatbots will only get better as the artificial intelligence underpinnings improve, and businesses learn lessons (sometimes the hard way) about how best to utilize this new technology.

If my team and I here at Convince & Convert can help you stay ahead of customer expectations in the area of email/chatbots/messaging, please get in touch about a free analysis. We create Digital Marketing Maturity Maps for some of the world’s most interesting brands, and guide them as they accelerate, measure, and propel their digital. 

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Are Buyer Personas Really Dead? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/are-buyer-personas-really-dead/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/are-buyer-personas-really-dead/#respond Mon, 29 Jan 2018 15:19:56 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148913 Should your brand still bother with buyer personas? This case study suggests no—that today's wealth of customer data requires something a little different.

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Are Buyer Personas Really Dead

I’ll let you in on one of our trade secrets. At Ceralytics, we have four distinct buyer personas. We created them in the early days of our company and used them to build out our product and develop our market strategy. We updated them over time as we learned more about our audience’s needs and pain points. Now, we’re scrapping those buyer personas and moving to a new approach.

For a long time, we have believed in and promoted the use of buyer personas in marketing, especially in the creation of content strategies. In fact, it’s a part of our “Define Your Audience” step in the seven steps we use to create content strategies for our clients.

But we’ve noticed the time we spend updating and modifying buyer personas to keep up with new intelligence far outweighs the time we’ve been able to use the buyer persona itself to create content. So why spend time updating something that we seldom use?

Have you also found yourself wondering why should you bother with buyer personas?

The Case Against Buyer Personas

At Social Fresh 2017, Christopher Barger of Brain+Trust Partners suggested that trying to categorize your audience into very specific buckets is simply not relevant anymore.

“User personas were great 15 to 20 years ago. But personas are based on assumptions we made about our audience. Now, we don’t have to assume because we have the ability to be data-driven,” says Barger. “Technology enables us to have real data about our audience from dozens of sources. When you put these all together, you will naturally see how people interact with your content and your brand.”

Every one of your buyers is very unique. Knowing your customer no longer means to categorizing them into a nice, neat persona like this:

Ceralytics buyer persona

Ceralytics’ buyer persona for a content marketing manager

Instead, understanding your buyer means knowing:

  • How they interact with your content.
  • How they interact with your competitors’ content.
  • Where they get their news.
  • What topics truly resonate with them.
  • How those topics drive them to action.
  • The channels that get them to engage with you.
  • And most importantly, their pain points.

While personas can be a good starting point, they are often based on assumptions and are overly broad. Even personas we round out with data still assume that everyone in a certain category has the same needs and pain points. We need to move from assuming what a category of people wants to knowing what point points individuals have.

Our Buyer Personas

At Ceralytics, our four buyer personas are all within the marketing field. However, we’ve had real clients who are CEOs, COOs, and heads of business development. We don’t have buyer personas for these people, so should we create them?

We debated it. After all, we’ve proven that these people are our audience; they’ve been on calls with us, asking questions and seeking solutions to problems they had. But their titles really had nothing to do with their need. What they all had in common were pain points: lack of clarity around how to position their brand and what content they should use to communicate with their audiences, both in terms of marketing and sales.

After some deliberation, we opted not to create buyer personas for these people, but rather take their pain points and add them to a faceless persona with no title. Then, we found that a lot of our clients and prospects fit that faceless persona. When we just looked at the pain points and stripped away a lot of the other demographic information—age, gender, title, company size, etc.—it made things even clearer to us. What mattered were the pain points and how we, as a company, address them.

The Death of Buyer Personas

Since user personas are based on assumptions about our audience, it no longer makes sense to lean on them. We have an incredible amount of data we can use to determine the reality of our buyer’s needs instead of our perceived notion of them. As Barger says, “User personas are dead.”

With all of the tracking we can do on buyer’s journeys, we don’t have to put people into user personas artificially anymore. People put themselves into their own buckets.

This self-identification through a buyer’s own actions gives us a much clearer picture of their true pain points. If someone visits your site via organic search, reads three articles about how to smoke the best pulled pork, then two weeks later buys a smoker from you, do you try to bucket that person by demographics? Or do you look at the topics that resonated best with them and their buyer journey? In this case, it doesn’t matter if the person was 18 or 80, black or white, rich or just getting by. What mattered was what they did and how they engaged with what you created.

New technologies, including natural language processing and predictive analytics, identify the pain points our audiences have, track how they navigate a site by topic instead of by page, and deliver us insights in near real-time.

In a post-user persona world, technology takes us from guessing to knowing.

Tools to Help You Uncover How Your Audience Self-Identifies

Social intelligence gives marketers a deeper understanding of the wants and needs of their audiences in near real-time.

“Today’s social intelligence provides us information about larger groups of people based on actual social behavior—interactions with content that we can segment by awareness, engagement, and conversion,” says Duncan Alney, CEO at Firebelly Marketing. “We can bring granularity into play by interests and behaviors that is actual rather than hypothetical.”

Content intelligence uncovers current gaps in addressing pain points that other companies in your space are exploiting. It also identifies potential audience pain points that are currently underserved in your specific industry. Content intelligence also uncovers the topics that attract people to your site, engage them, and get them to convert.

The result gives you a deeper understanding of what your audience truly needs to move from an inquisitive prospect to a buyer. And it’s based on real data, not assumptions.

Marketing automation systems (MAS) and customer relationship management (CRM) tools also play an essential role in the post-user persona world. These databases of prospect and client information, when combined with content and social intelligence, bring a level of context and personalization buyers will come to expect.

Exit Your Comfort Zone

Buyer personas are simply too antiquated and don’t serve the function they did years ago. Nevertheless, many people I speak to are hesitant to move away from them. Barger summed up their hesitation: “The resistance from marketers to move away from personas is caused by a natural human instinct to stay in their comfort zone.”

Change is hard. Abandoning a fundamental component of marketing like user personas is a huge shift. Many will feel out of their comfort zone, while others will point to all of the data-driven marketing happening and wonder, “If we’re driving everything from data, is marketing going to become bland and boring?”

On the contrary, all of this data will only make marketing more exciting. You’ll be able to go all-in on creative projects with surefire evidence that you’re solving the right problem for the right people, thus delivering real value to your audience and driving business results.

Barger notes, “You’re still able to be creative. You’re just doing it from a smarter starting point.”

Confidence from that smarter starting point will lead to greater creativity, happier audiences, and better business results.

How Do You Create Content and Products Without Buyer Personas?

As technology advances and more data becomes readily available, everyone will find their own way of creating granular content that is personalized to the individual. Some will utilize CRM and marketing automation systems to personalize content for individuals on each of their site visits, creating a predictive path for each user. Amazon is a good example of this, though they are far from perfect.

At Ceralytics, we aren’t at a place to personalize every single user interaction. We feel that could do more harm than good—we might lose our company voice in the process. Instead, we now focus on two things:

  1. What is the pain point we want to solve with a communication or product?
  2. What feeling do we want people to have as a result of the communication or product?

The pain points come directly out of our content intelligence. We know what pain points resonate with our audiences across our site and our competitors’ sites. We know which pain points drive people to our site and which pain points lead them to take a buying action through our conversion analysis.

The feeling we want to instill in others, the one in that second bullet point, comes from the core of our brand. Speaking with a different voice to every demographic doesn’t feel genuine. Instead, we speak with one voice to that pain point, whether the person with that pain point is 18 or 80.

That authentic voice should come from the core of your company as well. Why does your company do what it does? As best selling author and marketing consultant Simon Sinek would say, “What is your why?” Be true to that mission. Be true to your company’s voice. Don’t placate your audience.

Identify the real pain points your audience has, and then speak with your voice to solve them. That’s far more valuable than any buyer persona.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of January 22 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-january-22/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-january-22/#respond Fri, 26 Jan 2018 14:31:35 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148945 This week's best marketing podcasts explore what the future holds for Facebook, advertising, and brand storytelling for businesses big and small.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of January 22

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

The Science of Social Media

The Science of Social Media 77: Big Changes To The Facebook News Feed: What To Know & How It Will Affect Your Strategy

Have you heard about Facebook? It’s this cool little site that your mom, your favorite sandwich shop, everyone you’ve ever met, and two billion other people use every once in a while. You should check it out; you’ll enjoy it. Just don’t use the poke button. Please.

About ten days ago, Facebook made its big announcement that we’ve all known was coming for years: Organic reach is dead. While Facebook isn’t coming out and saying it in plain English, the new Big Blue certainly caused quite the stir in the marketing world. Buffer podcast co-hosts Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis discuss the announcement in this must-listen episode.

Takeaways: The trick is producing and sharing content that makes people want to interact. Hailley herself cops to the very thing that prompted Facebook’s change: “I, myself, don’t really use Facebook that much anymore.” Instagram, she says, has provided a much more intimate and personal experience, one she’s lost on Facebook. She hopes Instagram doesn’t fall prey to the same problems as its parent site.

In short, the easiest way to make the Facebook algorithm happy is to publish content that sparks back-and-forth conversation among friends. This doesn’t mean just publishing “A versus B” posts, which Facebook discourages in its press release, but rather identifying the pulse of your audience.

This is good and bad, of course. The good is that we, the consumers, will get a more enjoyable Facebook experience, with more of the things we care about and less of the random brand we forgot to unlike back in 2014. For marketers and businesses, this is good because it forces us to get back to basics and focus on the customer.

The bad? You may have to revisit that beautiful 2018 Facebook strategy you worked on during Q4. Sorry, friends.

The Business of Story

Business of Story #128: How to Tell Your Brand Story on Purpose With Social Media

In this episode, host Park Howell welcomes Miri Rodriguez, a story brand marketing master at Microsoft (which sounds like an absolute dream job to me). Miri has helped Microsoft create Story Pillars which the organization uses to humanize its brand, mission, and products. Fortunately for us, Park brought her onto the show to walk us through just exactly what it’s like being a Storyteller for a major tech giant and how we can apply her learnings to our businesses.

Takeaways: While a business wants to see data and understand the nuts and bolts, the humans around the table, on the phone, or on the webinar need to feel connected for anything to truly catch. “We as humans are all natural storytellers; we just don’t know it,” Miri says. “We’ve made [storytelling] a big buzzword, but when we boil it down, it’s something we do every day.”

Miri explained her own story to Park, and he terrifically summed up her goal at Microsoft, as well as the ultimate goal all storytellers and content marketers should strive for: Talk about the impact you have on people’s lives, not the product itself. Miri agreed with Park wholeheartedly, and I am right on board with them. It’s something I strive for with my company. I hope you’ll follow this and the rest of Miri’s advice.


Brand storytelling pro tip: Talk about the impact you have on people’s lives, not the product itself.
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The Beancast

The Beancast 480: Do You Know Me?

On this week’s episode of The Beancast—the best roundtable marketing podcast on the market, in my opinion—host Bob Knorpp is joined by author and consultant Dan Goldgeier, Aaron Strout (CMO, W2O Group), and Julian Zilberbrand (EVP Data Science, Viacom).

These four gentlemen kick the tires on whether the advertising model on the web is about to reach its peak, if blockchain’s underlying tech can truly help us reclaim part of our online identity (safely), YouTube’s recent ad changes, and whether or not the NFL’s streaming struggle with Thursday Night Football spells doom for the immediate future of broadcast television.

Takeaways: While there seems to be a new ad-supported website popping up on the internet just about every day, is this kind of endeavor is actually worth it? Facebook recently announced it will be altering its news feed yet again, and many are beginning to question the legitimacy of advertising in general. Even though Facebook lacks available ad inventory, Wall Street is still bullish on advertising across the board, be it digital or traditional.

According to an article in The Economist, which Bob and his guests use as a talking point during the podcast, current stock prices indicate American advertising revenues will increase from one percent of GDP today to as much as 1.8 percent of GDP by 2027. That’s an insane jump and one that I doubt people will truly tolerate. Consumers already use AdBlocking software and extensions for a reason. I can’t imagine this sort of news would have them excited to whitelist anytime soon.

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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Is Your Company Data-Driven? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/is-your-company-data-driven/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/is-your-company-data-driven/#respond Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148840 Learn why companies must become more data-driven, why so many resist the change, and how you can start building a more data-driven environment.

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Is Your Company Data-Driven

Digital marketing experts will tell you that you’re not going to kill it with conversion and improve ROI unless you gather and apply data.

I’m one of many marketers interested in continuously exploring the possibilities of data-driven marketing. Recently, I had the chance to interview an expert on the subject, Ben Carpel, the CEO of Cyfe, a company that offers simple all-in-one business dashboards to monitor . . . well, everything.

Ben and I talked about:

  • Why companies must become more data-driven.
  • Why many companies still don’t.
  • The four-part formula that leads to a success with analytics.
  • The value of data “visualization.”
  • Smart ways to get started creating a data-driven environment.

You can check-out all 16 minutes of our conversation in the video below or read the highlights below that.

You’re Underusing Your Data

Barry: Do you think most companies want to become more data-driven?

Ben: For sure. The majority of marketing executives will agree that data-driven decisions in their marketing are necessary for success. It’s crucial as things become more competitive. Most marketers think there is more they can get out of it. It’s an underutilized resource or asset that they can take advantage of more.

Barry: According to CMO.com, 64 percent of marketing executives strongly agree that data-driven marketing is crucial to success in a hyper-competitive global economy. However, 87 percent of marketers consider data their organization’s most underused asset.

Ben: There is a big gap between what they want and what they have as a marketer. Many organizations are here to help start bridging that gap, but I think the stats you just spat out are spot on with what we’ve observed from our time in the industry, our customers, and what they’ve reported to us.

Barry: I’ve often read that companies cite a lack of analytic skills as a barrier to progress in this area. Do you agree with that?

Ben: Completely. It’s not only existing staff. Organizations are investing in training.  They’re investing in advancement programs to retain and inspire people. There is more and more of an emphasis on recruiting those people too—people that have analytical skills or technical skills.

So new people coming into the organization, as well as the existing hires, just have to have that expertise—not necessarily the hardcore IT knowledge, but be able to collaborate with the data miners and the IT analysts, data analytics, the BI staff.

We’ve seen that become more and more of a trend, especially early this year but in the past few years as well.

What Companies Need to Embrace Data-Driven Marketing

Barry: So they need skills and there is a lack of them. Then they need data, or maybe they need data they actually have confidence in. We often hear analysts spend more time finding, gathering, and processing data than actually analyzing it, so this is a humungous problem.

Ben: Visualization is such an important tool to make data available and give people the right resources to make a properly structured decision. So the CMO, the CEO, or even someone who is ramping up their data analysis training and career advancement can suddenly see an insight through the visualization they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to see.

For the high level—the executives—visualization is such an important tool to make the right decisions, to make data available and give people the right resources to make a properly structured decision.

Barry: We want everybody in the company to believe in these processes and create an analytics culture. Do companies need to look at it that way?

Ben: Yes, and continuously. It’s not a one-time investment of human resources and time and energy. It should be something that people are continually looking at.

If you’ve got data, you’re constantly going to want to refine the models you’ve developed in order to deploy it effectively and embed it in your decision-making.

Sometimes the model can prove invalidated. You constantly want to evaluate the results, so you can identify problems and reformulate them if necessary.

How to Build a Data-Driven Culture

Barry: I’m going to assume you get asked a lot, “Ben, we want to be that data-driven company. How do we get started?” Do you have a good answer?

Ben: Yeah. First and foremost, if you’re the CEO or you’re reporting to the CEO or even further down the channel, no matter how big or small your role is, just make sure the culture is ready to embrace fact-based decision-making.

Rely less on intuition, more on facts. You do need the executive level to get on board with that. It’s very important that it permeates from the top all the way down. And expectations need to be set and managed.

If you’re trying to become a data-driven culture, it is important to think of it as a roadmap with stages and not to set things entirely out of control to begin with. So what that means is potentially starting small, with one area that might be a priority for the entire organization that has enough data. It’s kind of the guinea pig or the canary in the coal mine.

Barry: The advice you just gave is advice I give often: Pick an objective, pick a reasonably achievable goal, and work towards it and prove the model.


87% of marketers consider data their organization's most underused asset
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Look for What Isn’t There

Barry: Now, looking back on our conversation, we went down this path that you need the right people with skills. You need data you can depend on. You need processes that integrate your data, and ultimately you need to create a culture. Do you think that part of the process is looking back at where you lack these things?

Ben: Yes, indeed. You need the people, you need the tools, and obviously the data to start filling in to address that. To start, when you’re picking something that doesn’t have data, or it does, that first project is going to be under scrutiny. It’s under a microscope, so you need to get it right.

Get everyone clear on the same page. If you’re looking at, as we call it, “the gap of what wasn’t there,” as you and I were talking about the people that you need, the technology, the process and the culture—all three or four of those things can be brought in to fill that in.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of January 15 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-january-15/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-january-15/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 14:18:51 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148832 This week's must-listen marketing podcasts explore how human behavior shapes content success, plus predictions for the future of digital marketing.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of January 15

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Noah Kagan Presents

Noah Kagan Presents: How to Turn Blog Posts into a Business with Vanessa Van Edwards

My friend and host of the Shareable Podcast Jeff Gibbard always sends me podcast episodes from Noah Kagan. I often receive these after I’ve written this week’s round-up and forget to include them for the next week—but not this time!

In this episode, this AppSumo founder and CEO welcomes psychology expert and speaker Vanessa Van Edwards from The Science of People onto his show for a short but wickedly actionable nine-minute podcast.

Takeaways: Vanessa doesn’t consider herself a psychology “expert,” per se, but she certainly has researched human behavior extensively. Vanessa has delivered insights to hundreds of businesses and taught thousands of students through Udemy by framing fascinating topics and insights for “ambiverts,” a word Daniel Pink popularized in his book To Sell is Human.

When she was first starting out in her career, she realized she’d need to conduct her own research in order to have something truly different from her competition. Her competition noticed her work and began citing her research in their own publications, leading to even greater search traction.

In addition to the backlinks she was getting from her top competitors, Vanessa began investing time in YouTube. She looked at which keywords were driving the least amount of traffic to her site and created (and optimized) a YouTube video around those specific keywords. The results were remarkable and point to the need to constantly evaluate what is performing for your business and what’s not, and if it’s not, how it can be repurposed to become a strength.

Copyblogger FM

Copyblogger FM: 5 Keys to Making Your Content More Shareable

How do we make our content shareable? Sonia Simone, Chief Content Officer for Copyblogger, has some solid thoughts on how to make content move in 2018—”the great free ride,” in her words. Sonia builds on the conventional wisdom of more eyeballs not always equalling success and focuses on five factors to increase exposure and shares.

Takeaway: Ever heard of the “Second Customer”? Probably not, since Sonia came up with it herself! A Second Customer is someone who might never be a customer or user of yours but is a conduit to an audience who could be your perfect fit. They fit within the influencer category but, perhaps, without the crazy price tag. These people are terrific at moving your content and presenting it to a new group.

The other takeaway I found most interesting was the fifth of Sonia’s keys, which is this: What do you want people to do (or do next) once they actually find you? Whether it’s trying to get the visitor to read another article or selling them on subscribing to your email list, understand what kind of experience you’re leading your users into. Is your website experience one you’d be comfortable engaging with or sharing? If the answer is no, that’s probably where to start first.


Ask yourself, what do you want customers to do (or do next) once they actually find you?
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The Marketing Companion Podcast

The Marketing Companion Episode 121: The future of the digital marketing agency with Mitch Joel

There was zero chance I wasn’t going to include this episode. Mark Schaefer AND Mitch Joel? C’mon. Game over. Mariano Rivera in the ninth. Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs. (Seriously, that play was crazy!) The point is, this episode was destined to be gold before they even hit record.

Mitch and Mark dove right into the role of the digital marketing agency in 2018. With so many brands and publishers building internal departments to handle the responsibilities once managed by creative and media agencies, large firms and holding companies have had to adapt.

Takeaways: Mitch, who is the President of the agency Mirum, touches on the recent pullback on advertising spend across the world and its correlation to sales. (If ad spend goes down, sales follow.) He also explores agency disruption and why everyone needs to go far deeper with Amazon than ever imagined. Agencies are finding ways to innovate at seemingly breakneck speeds in order to bring the best results to each client. As much as they are trying to differentiate, however, this has lead to a lot of sameness and confusion.

Add to this the recent developments in artificial intelligence, and Mitch has a fascinating question on his hands. It’s a question he still doesn’t believe there is a sufficient answer to. He asks that if AI truly delivers what it’s been promising, and there is no more competition, and everyone is marketing perfectly in the right time and at the right place without any kind of real marketplace, how do brands survive? What is a brand at that point?

Like I said, the stuff that is jammed into this special edition of The Marketing Companion is remarkable. I sincerely hope you listen to this. I rewound multiple times.

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of January 8 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-january-8/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-january-8/#respond Fri, 12 Jan 2018 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148727 Highlights from this week's best marketing podcasts include vital lessons on trust, transparency, storytelling, and sourcing sure-fire content topics.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of January 8

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Everyone Hates MarketersEveryone Hates Marketers #11: Why Trust-Based Marketing Is Eating Branding for Breakfast

Marketers often get blamed for ruining “everything.” Sure, a few bad apples have spoiled the bushel for some. But the majority of us are trying to create exciting experiences for our customers.

Louis Grenier understands this, but he’s also totally playing up our industry’s reputation with his Everyone Hates Marketers podcast. When he’s not running his podcast, he’s a Content Strategist for Hotjar, a very slick heat mapping tool. In this episode, Louis speaks with author and consultant Jonathan Salem Baskin about why honesty truly is the best policy.

Takeaways: Jay has often preached how people don’t do business with logos—they do business with people. That’s what Jonathan shares here, too. As Jonathan points out, brands were created in the 20th century in lieu of local businesses being able to scale. Brands with headquarters 2,000 miles away skated by on claims that sounded great in mass media but never lived up to their billing.

Today, we’re able to hold companies accountable thanks to social media, which means transparency is a necessity for them. Thanks to this, many local businesses are thriving, and a sort of renaissance is occurring on Main Street.

Transparency in business truly is a differentiator. The more we trust a company, the more likely we are to keep doing business with them and recommend them to others.

The Science of Social Media

The Science of Social Media #65: 8 Tips To Quickly Master Social Media for Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Is 2018 finally going to be the year your company gets serious about your social program? There are still plenty of organizations trying to wade through the social media jungle and avoid all of the pitfalls and traps their friends and colleagues have encountered. Fortunately, we have the great folks at Buffer, anchored by co-hosts Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis, as our guides. In addition to having one of the most straightforward social tools around, their blog has always been one of the best in the industry.

Takeaway: This is a wonderfully paced episode, and at only 18 minutes, it’s easy to absorb just about anywhere. For the purposes of the takeaway, however, I’ll call out Brian and Hailley’s tip number three.

Great social media programs prioritize listening to customers, not promoting to them. Social has been an integral part of customer service programs for years, but how often are you taking the extra steps to turn your customer questions into killer content?

Hailley and Brian recommend not only using these questions as fodder for your next batch of content but also sifting through Quora and competitor’s sites. These questions not only make your life a lot easier, but they also allow you to build trust with your audience, on social media or otherwise.


How often do you turn your customers' questions into killer content?
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Six Pixels of SeparationSix Pixels of Separation #599: Better Brand Stories with Mark Evans

Many brands struggle with their brand story. Regardless of how much time, effort, and money we put into curating and crafting our brand story, sometimes it doesn’t resonate as we expect.

Mark Evans knows this and wants brands to understand that it’s neither as easy nor as daunting as it seems. Mark is an author and consultant who works directly with startups to not only improve their stories but find the best ways to distribute and market them. He joined SPOS host Mitch Joel for his last episode of 2017 for an excellent conversation all about sharing stories that move.

Takeaways: Around the 24-minute mark, Mitch asks Mark an excellent question about the value of storytelling given the half-life of content in this breakneck-paced environment. His response starts simple (quality over quantity) but blooms into much more. Since content and storytelling success demand excellence and volume, empowering your customers to tell stories for you is one way businesses are succeeding.

Mark uses Shopify as an example, and after checking out their content, he’s absolutely right. The content and stories found on the Shopify blog are not just stories about Shopify; they’re most often stories happening around their business. We’ve seemingly graduated from making our customers the stars of the stories to giving them a producer credit, as well.

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of January 1 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-january-1/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-january-1/#respond Fri, 05 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148605 Learn about honest customer service in action, digital cocoons, and topic modeling in this week's recommended marketing podcasts.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of January 1

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle to supplement your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcast episodes around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Experience THIS! Show: How to Cultivate Powerful Customer Relationships with Honesty

What happens when we make mistakes? Well, if you’re anything like most of us, you’re probably embarrassed and want to ignore it, hoping it’ll go away.

In this episode of the Experience THIS! Show, hosts and customer service and retention experts Joey Coleman and Dan Gingiss review two very high profile stories from Tesla and Netflix.

These stories made headlines, not because of how terrible a customer had been treated, but rather how adeptly top company leaders handled customer communication in two very tricky circumstances.

Takeaway: As the wise Rafiki once said in The Lion King, “The past’, much like mistakes, ‘can hurt. But the way I see it you can either run from it or learn from it.”

Learning from our mistakes, or hugging our haters, gives us the opportunity to take a crummy situation and make it into a positive one. Seeing how Elon Musk responds to prospects on Twitter gives clear direction to the rest of his company and leaves a remarkable impression on the rest of us. If a man running just about every cool company in the world can respond to a complaint on Twitter, we can, too.

As Dan says during the middle of the episode, “People will do the right thing if you give them the chance.” In this case, he was referring to the legal response from Netflix’s legal team over an unaffiliated Stranger Things pop-up bar in Chicago. Sometimes we need to get the law involved when it comes to intellectual property. How you choose to invoke your rights, however, can determine whether your assertions leave a sour taste in a superfan’s mouth.

Building honest relationships means being honest and clear with the other party. As we keep marching further into ‘the future’, it’s becoming more and more apparent that transparency is a key differentiator.

The Marketing Companion PodcastThe Marketing Companion: Cocooning Consumers and Other Mesmerizing Mega-Trends

Thanks to the same technologies that have enabled us to become connected to people we would have never met before, we’re now more divided and insulated than ever before.

As hosts Tom Webster and Mark Schaefer discuss in yet another excellent episode of their bi-weekly podcast, the social web has created “digital cocoons”.

Takeaways: This entire episode is dedicated to the toll technology, social networks, and the gobs of data both have generated is taking on humanity.

In short, people are starving for connection at an all-you-can-tweet, social buffet.  While research shows we are more apart than ever, people desperately want to feel they are a part of ‘something’ as well as making a positive difference in the world.

As I’ve written before, and as I’ve heard plenty of other smart marketing leaders say recently, the companies who find the people who share and identify with their mission and values will win in the long run. Do you know what your company stands for?

Marketing Over CoffeeMarketing Over Coffee: Training a Machine to Train a Machine

Leave it hosts Christopher S. Penn and John Wall to jump right into some heady topics without much warning. The two Boston-based marketing leaders kicked around what Christopher has been up to in regards to Topic Modeling, John’s thoughts on how to get the most out of conferences—even if you don’t have physical representation on the ground—and how to train AI.

Like I said, it’s heady stuff for an 18-minute show.

Takeaways: If you, like me, had never heard of Topic Modeling, fear not, as I’ve got the definition for you right here, courtesy of Wikipedia.

“In machine learning and natural language processing, a topic model is a type of statistical model for discovering the abstract “topics” that occur in a collection of documents.”

It’s similar to Social Listening, in the sense that you can use Topic Modeling to determine trends and other insights that can help guide your short and long-term business strategies.

Google has also built an AI that is training other artificially intelligent machines… which is insane until you listen to Christopher describe it. The AI’s building the new AIs are more powerful and useful than anything a human could build. The applications of AI continue to be nothing short of fascinating.

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter in the comments below!

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3 Advanced Google Analytics Techniques for B2B Marketers http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/advanced-google-analytics-techniques-for-b2b/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/advanced-google-analytics-techniques-for-b2b/#respond Tue, 26 Dec 2017 14:07:56 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148403 The analytics strategy can supercharge your B2B marketing. Go beyond surface-level analysis with these advanced Google Analytics techniques.

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3 Advanced Google Analytics Techniques for B2B Marketers

When solving tough growth challenges, B2B marketers often turn to Google Analytics. For measuring activity and addressing questions that are answered only with data, GA is the industry standard. The problem is, many marketers look to the surface for insights that are mistakenly considered gospel.

Indeed, only 22 percent of marketers believe they run data-driven marketing initiatives that are achieving significant results. And I’d bet the other 78 percent are only scraping the tip of the analytics iceberg. But there are three advanced features you can use to generate real, granular insights from your analytics.

1. Advanced Segmentation

Google Analytics provides a whole range of useful insights out of the box. But without digging deeper, you’re not getting the full picture.

Many marketers make the mistake of taking basic reports at face value. If you’re serious about conversion optimization and growth, you need to segment your reporting. Thankfully, GA has an advanced segments feature that assists you in getting the most out of the platform. With it, it’s easy to create custom segments and reports based on demographic, technology, behavior, date, and traffic sources.

Why use segments? It opens up a whole host of benefits, including:

  • The ability see all data and reports (including custom) for users by criteria.
  • Include demographic data within your reports.
  • Access and import segments developed by the Google team and other GA users.

Too many marketers take basic Google Analytics reports at face value, without digging deeper.
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Getting Started with Segmentation

To add new segments, make sure you’re under the Audience overview, and click on “+Add Segment”:

Beginning Google Analytics segmentation 1

You’ll see the following list of default segments provided by GA:

Beginning Google Analytics segmentation 2

There are many options, all of which have their uses. In this example, I’ve selected some traffic segments to compare different sources:

Beginning Google Analytics segmentation 3

I now have a complete overview of performance by traffic source. I can see Session, Users, Average Session Duration, and Bounce Rate metrics for each source in one place, which shows you how different channels perform.

Experiment with different default segment options to become more familiar with the feature. Dig deep into the insights that solve your business challenges.

So, now you understand the power of segments. But we’ve only just scratched the surface. To get the most out of this feature, let’s dive into custom segments.

The Power of Custom Segments

Sure, Google Analytics has some useful default segments you can use. But the real power comes in the form of custom audiences.

To create a custom segment, click the “+Add Segment” button from earlier and click the “New Segment” button:

Google Analytics segmentation 1

In this example, I’m going to create a segment called “Software Companies from Google” (under the Segment Name text box). I’ll then select Demographics > In-Market Segment > (contains) Software/Business & Productivity Software:

Google Analytics segmentation 2

Followed by Traffic Source > Source (is one of) > Google. Once I’ve finalized my segment criteria, GA provides a summary with some preliminary metrics:

Google Analytics segmentation 3

The conditions section takes this flexibility one step further. Let’s say I wanted to find out how many users view two or more pages during their visit. I would select “Page Depth” from the drop-down, followed by the “greater than” symbol, and then the number “1”:

Google Analytics segmentation 4

I can add multiple conditions, as well as “and/or” statements, to dig deep into the data provided by GA. To apply your new custom filter, click the “+Add Segment” button, followed by “Custom,” and then select your new custom filter. You’ll see comparative metrics similar to before.

Want to get more advanced? Use Google’s Data Studio to further manipulate your reporting. This is especially useful for crunching all of your paid marketing data in one place.

Custom segments are an advanced feature, but as you can see, they are simple to set up. It all depends on how deep and granular you want to go with your data.

2. Advanced Dashboards

When looking for insights, visualization is key.

There are two ways to create a dashboard: build one from scratch or import a pre-existing one. Both have value, so let’s start by creating our own.

Creating Your Custom Dashboard

Let’s say you want to track various engagement metrics all in one place. In this example, we’re going to create three different widgets:

  1. Comparison of sessions to bounce rate
  2. Most visited pages
  3. Engagement metrics of top traffic sources

Start by heading to Customization > Dashboards and then click “Create”:

Google Analytics dashboards 1

Select “Blank Canvas” and name your dashboard something meaningful. We’ll call ours “Engagement Metrics”:

Google Analytics dashboards 2

You’ll then see the “Add a Widget” dialog box. Our first widget will compare sessions to bounce rate. Here are the options we’ll select:

  1. Widget title: “Sessions / Bounce Rate”
  2. “Timeline” from the Standard section (this is where you’ll select how to visualize the data)
  3. Graph the following metric over time: “Sessions.”
  4. Compare with: Bounce Rate

Google Analytics dashboards 3

Our dashboard now looks something like this:

Google Analytics dashboards 4

Now let’s create a list of most visited pages using a table:

Google Analytics dashboards 5

Followed by top traffic sources:

Google Analytics dashboards 6

For good measure, I’m going to add some stand-alone metrics for deeper insight on this engagement dashboard. I’ll add sessions, bounce rate, and average time on page.

Finally, you can customize the layout of your dashboard using the “Customize Dashboard” button. Drag and drop the widgets to organize them any way you see fit. Here is an example of my final dashboard:

Google Analytics dashboards 7

I used a 30 percent/70 percent layout, giving the graph more room to display data. The visualization is clearer and keeps snapshot data to the left.

There are many different ways to use dashboards. Analyzing certain demographics or traffic sources, for example.

However, it’s likely that someone else has already created a dashboard suited to your needs.

Great Dashboard Examples

Google has an entire gallery that hosts a huge number of dashboards you can import. To access it, create a new dashboard and click the “Import from Gallery” button. You should see a list that looks like this:

Google Analytics dashboard examples 1

You can search for dashboards by keywords or use the filters to find them by ranking and category. For example, if I search for “social media traffic,” I see results ordered by popularity.

Here are five powerful dashboards you can import and use immediately.

Content Marketing Dashboard

Get a complete overview of the performance of your content marketing efforts. For some widgets, you may need to change the “Page path level 1” filter to reflect your taxonomy.

Content marketing dashboard

Download the content marketing dashboard

PPC Dashboard

If you’re pouring a lot of money into AdWords, this dashboard will give you insight on how paid traffic is performing at a high level.

PPC dashboard

Download the PPC dashboard here

Mobile Dashboard

Device metrics are important when analyzing your site performance. Segmenting data by mobile users will show you if you need to optimize your site for mobile.

Mobile dashboard

Download the mobile dashboard

Social Media Dashboard

See how well your social traffic performs across your site and content, as well as what these users are worth to your business.

Social media dashboard

Download the social media dashboard

Site Performance Dashboard

It’s becoming more apparent that site speed is a major SEO ranking factor. Site speed also shapes the experience of your users. Keep an eye on your website diagnostics with this dashboard.

Site performance dashboard

Download the site performance dashboard

Dashboards will help you monitor the metrics that matter. But this requires you to have these goals defined within GA in the first place. Let’s look at some advanced goal tracking features to ensure you’re getting the most out of your analytics.

3. Advanced Goal Tracking

As a marketer, you know the importance of measuring conversions over vanity metrics. Having your goals set up in Google Analytics is key. Without them, you won’t see how your visitors are interacting with your site. But most importantly, attribution of conversions will be nigh impossible.

While goals are compulsory, they can be limiting. They work by using specific “ending” URLs to a sequence of steps. For example, when someone fills a form to download a whitepaper or other lead magnet, they’ll be taken to a thank you page. Your goal will, therefore, look something like “http://www.yourdomain.com/thank-you.

However, what do you do when you have a lead registration that involves several steps?

Multiple Goal Tracking

Goal tracking is limited and fairly linear. Use multiple goal tracking if you want to track a goal with several routes to completing it.

Let’s say you have several different email lists. There are many ways for users to opt-in, and each has their own goal (or thank you page). Creating multiple goals is one solution. Combining them into a single “signup” goal, however, is best practice, as it allows you to segment and measure data easily.

To do this, create a goal in Google Analytics as normal (by heading to Admin and selecting “Goals” under the View column). When you reach the Destination section, change the dropdown from “Equals to” to “Regular expression.” The text box (shown below) is where we’ll enter our multiple goal destinations.

The syntax for multiple destinations is: /(URL1|URL2)$

An example of the above syntax in action could be:

/(success|subscribed.html)$

Google Analytics multiple goal tracking

Separate each URL using the pipe character (|), which acts as an “OR” statement. In other words, the goal counts if it matches either URL. The dollar character ($) declares the end of the expression.

Event Tracking (On-Page Interactions)

Goal tracking is invaluable for measuring which stage of a funnel your users have reached. But they’re limiting.

For example, let’s say you have several on-page interactions (lightboxes, welcome mats, and other AJAX-powered features). When completed, they won’t take the user away from the current page. So you need another way to track these interactions.

Which is where Event tracking comes into play.

An event essentially means “a click.” Whenever a user clicks on something on your website, that counts as an event. These can include file downloads, link clicks, and calls-to-action (handy for email subscriptions).

For example, let’s say one of your blog posts includes a content upgrade. When they click a link, a popup box appears where they enter their email address. They enter it, click the submit button, and the box disappears, allowing them to continue their reading experience.

Here, we see two events in action:

  1. Clicking the content upgrade link within the content
  2. Clicking the submit button within the popup box

To measure these on-page conversions, we need to use events. These are triggered using a piece of code, which looks like this:

_trackEvent(category, action, opt_label, opt_value, opt_noninteraction)

Let’s break down each part of the code, so you understand what each means:

  • Category: Describes the event being triggered. This field is mandatory and should be named something meaningful to make tracking easier.
  • Action: This describes the type of event, e.g., “click” or “optin.”
  • Opt_label: This is just another label you can add. For example, if your category is “Subscription,” your opt_label could be “Content Upgrade.”
  • Opt_value: Allows you to place a monetary value on the event. When doing this, be sure to exclude any symbols and use numbers only.
  • Opt_noninteraction: Do you want this to affect bounce rate? If so, set to “true,” otherwise set to “false.”

Once you’ve created your code, you need to apply it to your hyperlink or submit button. We do this using the onClick attribute within the hyperlink’s code. Using hypothetical code, the link for our content upgrade looks something like this:

<a href=”#contentupgrade” onClick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Click’, ‘light box’, ‘Content Upgrade’, 5, false]);”>Click here to download the bonus worksheet.</a>

If you’d rather not construct this yourself, you can use an event tracking code generator that SEO Weather created here.

With the right metrics, analytics can give you the insights needed to supercharge your B2B marketing. But there’s only so much you can do on the surface. Sure, GA is powerful, but you must dive deep to get the most out of it. By digging deep using the techniques in this article, you’ll gain granular insights into your user’s behavior faster.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of December 18 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-december-18/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-december-18/#respond Fri, 22 Dec 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148405 Get the scoop on cryptocurrency, the future of work, and where brand storytelling goes wrong in this round-up of the week's best marketing podcasts.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of December 18

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

(Oh, and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, podcast listeners!)

Bad Crypto PodcastThe Bad Crypto Podcast #57: Cryptocurrencies Defined in Four Words or Less

If you haven’t been on Twitter recently or aren’t big into investing, you might be in the dark on cryptocurrency. Don’t panic. There’s a great deal of us who are also in the same boat.

Marketing Futurists, speakers, and authors Travis Wright and Joel Comm got together earlier this year to discuss the burgeoning world of crypto and the implications it has for all of us. In this episode, Travis and Joel talk about Bitcoin’s ever-increasing price, just what exactly is driving the current crypto bull run, and how The Big Bang Theory introduced a whole new (and massive) audience to cryptocurrency.

Takeaway: There’s still plenty of time both learn and invest in a variety of cryptocurrencies, and I highly suggest that you do. Travis Wright, Joel Comm, and my colleague Nick Quirk are all very knowledgeable and worth a Twitter follow if you’re serious about educating yourself.

The biggest takeaway, however, is that beyond bitcoin and cryptocurrency, the more important piece to read up on is the underlying technology: blockchain. According to Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution, “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Blockchain has uses across the web and will certainly have an impact on how business gets done. Transactions we think are blazingly efficient today will be completely dwarfed by transfers that are finalized in four seconds. This is just one example, but it appears that the versatility of this technology is nearly boundless.

WorkInProgress#WorkInProgress: The Future Of Work’s One Bipartisan Solution

Work is changing rapidly, and learning new skills or switching jobs entirely may soon be essential. This episode of LinkedIn’s #WorkInProgress podcast features an expert on this topic: Amy Goldstein, a staff writer at The Washington Post and the author of Janesville: An American Story. In 2008, one of the oldest-operating GM plants in the country shut down, leaving the people of Janesville, Wisconsin to wonder what would come next.

The entire town, regardless of political bent, decided to create programs to retrain their suddenly out-of-work workforce. You might think that this should be the greatest case study for teaching old dogs new tricks, so to speak. So far, however, the results haven’t been pretty.

Takeaways: Hosts Chip Cutter and Caroline Fairchild talk with Amy about her reporting. According to Amy, there’s a fundamental divide between what she’s found and what municipal and private industry leaders are saying about retraining all season workers. One of Amy’s findings is that workers who went through retraining programs often ended up worse financially than those who didn’t.

The Janesville case study is less than encouraging, considering all the new skills we may one day need to learn. One hopeful caveat is that the majority of the Janesville GM workers did not have strong computer skills. Perhaps those with basic computer/mobile skills will have a different outcome, but this is definitely something that has my attention.

The Business of StoryThe Business of Story #123: How to Tell Brand Stories on Purpose that Resonate with Your Audiences

This podcast was formerly part of the Convince & Convert Podcast Network, but it’s one that I have unfortunately neglected of late. Shame on me for doing so because host and storyteller extraordinaire Park Howell’s podcast is incredibly useful.

In a cluttered marketing world, expertly crafted and told stories are the ones that cut through. They resonate with us in ways that regular marketing and advertising just can’t touch. In this episode, Park goes all the way to New Zealand to bring us Cassie Roma’s excellent storytelling and branding insights for wooing customers with content that deeply resonates with our audiences.

Takeaways: Romance isn’t dead, but marketing sure hasn’t given it its due, according to Cassie. I love her stance here. With all of the information we have, we’ve neglected the care our customers and clients so often seek. We know this in customer service: People just want to be heard, most of the time.

Park adds to Cassie’s stance, too, saying, “People got lazy at marketing. [All that’s being marketed are the] features, functions, and benefits, and no romancing the customer with story.”

If you’re interested in creating a real, emotional connection with your customers, you absolutely have to listen to this episode.


Romance isn’t dead, but marketing sure hasn’t given it its due when it comes to customer care.
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That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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Your Brand Can Manage Change with Help from Social Media http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/manage-change-with-help-from-social-media/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/manage-change-with-help-from-social-media/#respond Tue, 19 Dec 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148282 It's human nature to resist change, and your employees are no exception. Social media can help your company navigate tricky transitions and manage change.

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Your Brand Can Manage Change with Help from Social Media

There’s one constant in business, and in social media marketing in particular: Change is inevitable. And while change is often in the long-term interest of a company, it can also cause myriad issues for employees in the short-term. In fact, according to research from McKinsey, 70 percent of change programs fail to achieve their goals due to a host of reasons, which we’ll explore in this post.

Business leaders must now respond quickly and rapidly to a host of opportunities and threats. Digital and social media tools can make these changes more meaningful and impactful for all parties involved. However, before we can think through how digital and social channels can assist those changes, we must first understand why we as individuals resist change.

The Stages of Accepting Change

4 Ways Social Media Can Help Brands Manage Change

The Kubler-Ross Curve is a model for understanding the stages of personal transition and organizational change. It gained popularity in the late 60s and is often referred to as the “five stages of grief.”

The curve shows a positive move towards change, with acceptance as the ultimate outcome. However, unless your organization and leaders actively help move your people through the stages of the curve, individuals may become stuck at any stage. This makes change difficult and could cost your company thousands of dollars.

The 4 Reasons Your Employees Resist Change

Change can be traumatic, even when it’s for the better. Employees accustomed to certain organizational processes or technology resources may meet the change with resistance. After all, their company is forcing them to depart from what’s comfortable. To implement change, you must understand how an employee moves through the various stages of the change curve and the barriers they encounter. Here are some of the most common barriers to change that we see:

  1. Lack of shared vision and strategy: What are we hoping to accomplish by implementing this change? Has leadership painted a clear vision for the change? It’s important to have a well-thought-out strategy, which should include an outline of the priorities and clear direction for all stakeholders and employees.
  2. Timing and change fatigue: Is now the right time to try to implement change? Is the organization coming off a number of recent changes (CEO shift, layoffs), and employees are simply tired of change? Are you in the middle of the busiest time of year for employees (e.g., retailers at Christmas)? As a leader, think through whether now is the right time to implement the change.
  3. Lack of leadership visibility and support: Employees need leaders. They need to be inspired, energized, and engaged with change. Someone must keep things moving forward, or the change will never occur.
  4. Not enough understanding of the benefits: Employees may ask, “What’s in it for me?” This is a fair question, considering employees are often the ones feeling the greatest effect of the change. Change requires extra effort, and employees want to see their efforts valued.

How Digital and Social Can Help You Manage Change

According to a study conducted by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, many of the employees surveyed wished that their employers offered more digital and social engagement during periods of change. Consider what makes change stick, and you’ll find places where digital and social channels can integrate.

  1. Increase urgency and nail the vision. People need to be inspired to move. They need leadership to make objectives real and relevant and to communicate the vision to the broadest possible audience. Company blogs, wikis, or enterprise social networks like Workplace by Facebook can help flatten the organization and drive transparent dialogue. It can also quickly connect the entire organization and communicate the need for and benefit of the change, and the role of each individual.
  2. Build the right team and communicate for buy-in. It’s vital to have the right people in place with shared commitment and vision. But in today’s global business environment, it can be a challenge to get all those stakeholders in the same room. Digital and social tools to start a dialogue can ensure that employees from all levels of the organization easily connect and feel ownership over the change. This helps ensure that the change doesn’t feel “top-down.”
  3. Empower action. Digital and social channels enable a feedback loop from all employees to the guiding team, helping remove key barriers and obstacles to change implementation. A channel that allows employees to communicate their concerns and participate in the change will make them feel valued and invested in the process.
  4. Create short-term wins. Change shouldn’t feel daunting or completely unachievable. Set up goals that are easy to achieve, and utilize digital channels to track progress against those goals. Interactive timelines, digital progress bars, and social contests rewarding employees for completing change-related tasks can keep employees engaged, motivated, and feeling like they made an impact.

Employees crave more digital and social engagement during periods of internal change.
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While change can be difficult, don’t let up. Digital and social tools may not be the silver bullet that will drive immediate change, but they’re a critical supplement to traditional communication channels. Solidifying your communication strategy ensures everyone understands the part they must play and the value they contribute. This will make the process much smoother.

This post is part of a paid sponsorship between Spredfast and Convince & Convert. Learn more about the Spredfast platform here and request a demo to see how it can help your brand succeed.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Spredfast blog.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of December 11 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-december-11/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-december-11/#respond Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148271 In this week's marketing podcasts round-up, guests get real on trusting technology, predicting the future, and where they turn for inspiration.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of December 11

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Six Pixels of SeparationSix Pixels of Separation #595: Future Proof with Minter Dial

The awesome name “Minter Dial” should be enough to entice you into listening to this episode. Minter is “American, with French citizenship, born in Belgium, educated in England, living in France,” and the author of  Futureproof: How to Get Your Business Ready for the Next Disruption.

After host Mitch Joel allows Minter introduce himself at the top of the show, Mitch chides him about the other work Minter leaves out of his own introduction, specifically his time as a senior leader for L’Oréal. The two go on to discuss Minter’s book, which explores three core mindsets and 12 disruptive technologies that, according to Minter, businesses must master to grow in the current market.

Takeaway: One of the biggest disruptors of the future, according to Minter, is company culture. Employees find it much harder to sell without core values. This might seem like a very “non-tech” answer for such a digitally focused book, but it makes a great deal of sense to me.

Predicting the future is a fascinating business—Mitch himself even wrote about this in his 2013 bestseller Ctrl Alt Delete. The biggest players in our industry are curious about the future, and we should pay attention to what they find.

On BrandOn Brand: Why Brands Should See Ideas Everywhere with Ashley Zeckman

I discovered Nick Westergaard five years ago when he and DJ Waldow started The Work Talk Show (which, even three years after their final episode, still remains one of my favorites). He has one of the best voices in the marketing industry, and the advice he gives in his book Get Scrappy is some of the best small business information you can find.

In this episode of his agency’s podcast, Nick speaks with Ashley Zeckman, Director of Agency Marketing for TopRank Marketing, about the importance of promoting yourself even when you’re in the business of promoting external clients.

Takeaways: When it comes to finding inspiration for your next big idea, campaign, or product innovation, it’s okay to look outside your own industry. In fact, Ashley recommends it! She adds that she consults the Social Media Masterminds group on Facebook for ideas and tips, while also abiding by all things Ann Handley (which, to be frank, is pretty great advice).

Also worth mentioning is Ashley’s shoutout to the dog toy and treat subscription service Barkbox, which delivers monthly boxes of fluff and joy for my dog, Colette, and Jess Ostroff’s Doodle, Hummus! Their marketing is top-notch and full of dog puns. Ann Handley has commended their email marketing in the past, and I’ve always been impressed with their ability to write witty, subscription-driving copy. Ashley loves their marketing, too, and believes all of us can take a page out of their marketing playbook.


When finding inspiration for your next campaign, it’s (more than) okay to look outside your own industry.
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HBR IdeaCastHBR Ideacast: How Technology Tests Our Trust

How often do you find yourself in an unfamiliar city, placing full trust into Waze? I’m confident we’ve all been there, and that’s exactly what this episode covers: the amount of trust we give technology.

Host Sarah Green Carmichael begins the episode with a story of how she and a group of friends were traveling in an unfamiliar country. To get around, they used a GPS—and quickly found themselves on a goat path.

The faith we have in our technology is why Sarah brought Rachel Botsman, the author of Who Can You Trust?, onto the podcast. Rachel and Sarah talk through how trust works (regardless of whether it be machine, human, or societal norm) and why we shouldn’t let our tech make decisions for us, no matter how convenient.

Takeaways: According to Rachel, “Efficiency is the enemy of trust.” Since efficiency is the primary goal of most technologies, you might assume she considers technology an enemy. Instead, she turns the responsibility back to us.

“Technology doesn’t like friction, but friction is often human connection. Friction is when you consciously slow down and start to ask whether this thing is worthy of your trust. This isn’t new because we’ve seen this play out with information, like the way we share information. You know that wonderful study that was done that 80 percent of people shared a piece of content just based on the headline? That’s a really good example of just giving our trust away too easily.”

Rachel’s advice seems to be a lot like the advice our parents gave us growing up: Don’t talk to strangers, and definitely don’t let them put a cookie on your phone without your permission. This conversation was terrific, and I look forward to listening to more of Rachel’s information.

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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4 Studies That Show How E-Commerce Changed in 2017 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/how-ecommerce-changed-in-2017/ Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=147952 As these four studies prove, 2017 brought serious changes to e-commerce, AI, consumer attitudes toward shipping, and more.

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4 Studies That Show How E-Commerce Changed in 2017

E-commerce has always been a rapidly changing industry, and it’s never been more vital that we heed those changes. Four studies, in particular, stand out for their useful insight into where to take things from here. One benchmarking study tells us how our e-commerce sites stack up against the rest of the industry, and another reveals that obeying four simple rules can boost conversions by 25 percent.

With Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and plans to invest in growing infrastructure, same-day shipping and free shipping are now expectations rather than privileges in the consumer mindset. AI marketing is starting to look feasible for enterprise businesses, and smaller businesses must consider how to prepare for and respond to these changes.

Let’s take a closer look at the research.

1. Wolfgang Digital 2017 E-Commerce Benchmark Study

Based on an analysis of 143 million sessions and $531 million in revenue, this Wolfgang Digital study reports some interesting correlations. It also provides some benchmarking you can use to compare yourself to others in selected industries and in the e-commerce industry as a whole.

Here are some of the standout results from that study:

  • Email still absolutely stomps Facebook. As a final click, email delivers three times the revenue of Facebook.
  • Out of all of the correlations studied, the strongest was between conversion rates and time on site—60 percent correlation.
  • Google provides the highest converting traffic. The conversion rate for organic Google traffic was much higher overall than for other channels. High conversions and high organic Google traffic had a 48 percent correlation.
  • The vast majority of e-commerce sites do not track offline conversions in Google Analytics—a staggering 99 percent.
  • Direct traffic had a 35 percent correlation with higher conversion rates. The meaning of this isn’t necessarily clear. Much of this is returning traffic or traffic from people referred by word-of-mouth, but direct traffic includes all non-referrer traffic, including private browsing, app clicks, copy-paste, and so on.
  • Mobile revenue is growing, but desktop is still where most of the money is being made. Desktop is responsible for 61 percent of revenue. Even so, more sessions are taking place on mobile than on desktop for the first time ever: 52 percent.
  • While mobile still isn’t the biggest source of revenue, sites that received more mobile traffic earned more money on average. The correlation between mobile pageviews and revenue was 25 percent.
  • People shopping from tablets tend to buy more luxury items than people shopping from other platforms. The correlation for this one was 40 percent.
  • If the ever-elusive, industry non-descript benchmark conversion rate is of interest to you, it is 1.6 percent for e-commerce sites.
  • Site speed definitely plays a part. There was a 25 percent correlation inverse load time and site revenue, with average annual revenue increasing 10 percent for every 1.6 seconds of load time cut.
  • The path from first-touch to purchase has grown in length, requiring 12 percent more clicks. Rumors of an ADD-riddled, technologically addicted society don’t seem to have dissuaded consumers from doing their research before making a purchase.
  • Traffic that isn’t traceable using Google Analytics or other Analytics programs grew slightly from 17 percent to 18 percent. This is sometimes referred to as “dark traffic,” and includes visits from clicking links in text and chat apps, copying and pasting URLs, links from most apps, private browsing, and other miscellaneous linking without referrers.
  • While absolute contributions from Google have grown, its share of contributions has dropped. In 2016, Google accounted for 69 percent of traffic and 67 percent of revenue. In 2017, this fell to 62 percent of traffic and 63 percent of revenue.

2. Emarsys and Forrester Consulting on AI Marketing

In July, Emarsys published a study they commissioned from Forrester Consulting. The purpose of the study was to investigate the gap between marketers’ interests in AI marketing technology and marketing tech professionals’ ability to meet those demands.

Emarsys AI research

The study looked at businesses from the US, UK, Germany, France, and Australia, and considered businesses that made between $50 million and $5 billion.

Over 80 percent of the marketing decision-makers polled felt AI will soon play a part in boosting efficiency and efficacy, and that it would fundamentally change the industry. But 70 percent felt that their tech marketing professionals were currently up to the task.

What might be most interesting is that 78 percent of those polled said they plan to spend at least five percent more on AI marketing technology in the next 12 months. Even so, only 11 percent were considered to be ready for the approaching changes.

It’s hard to predict exactly how all of this will play out, which technologies will end up being most crucial, and how much of an advantage early investment will be later on in the game. Nevertheless, it’s clear “big data” and “machine learning” will transition from buzzwords to business practices in the near future.

With that in mind, e-commerce sites should, at a bare minimum, focus on building audiences and datasets and take the necessary steps to prepare for an even more personalized sales funnel.

3. Altman Vilandrie Study Identifies 4 Marketing Strategies That Boost E-Commerce Conversion Rates 25 Percent

In a study commissioned by Altman Vilandrie that looked at 190 B2B e-commerce sites, all of which made at least $100 million in revenue, the researchers identified four marketing strategies that boosted conversion rates by an average of 25 percent.

Altman Vilandrie B2B lead gen research

Despite this, only 15 percent of those interviewed were putting all of these strategies to use.

The strategies identified were:

  • Standardized lead handoffs: Only 35 percent of the respondents said they had a standardized process for dealing with the transfer of leads from marketing to sales, even though doing so would increase conversion rates by an average of 13 percent to 17 percent. A standardized lead handoff identifies specific points where a lead transfers from marketing to sales, in a way that both departments are clear on, and that requires sales to followup within a specific amount of time.
  • Lead scoring: 80 percent of the respondents were using lead scoring, but most weren’t taking advantage of automation. Lead scoring increases conversions by eight to 10 percent and shouldn’t be ignored by any e-commerce sites that leverage sales.
  • Customer maps: Only 15 percent of the respondents regularly revisit their customer maps to get a clearer idea of their sales funnel and make sure it’s properly optimized. Reevaluating the customer maps often can boost conversion rates by three to five percent.
  • Sales and marketing coordination: Only 55 percent of the respondents regularly see sales and marketing teams coordinate with one another. This is shocking when you consider this change boosts conversion rates by an average of six to seven percent.

Only 35% of business have a process for transferring leads from marketing to sales.
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4. Temando Study Shows Us E-Commerce Shipping Doesn’t Meet Buyer Expectations

Temando e-commerce research

Amazon is leading a shift in the way consumers expect online purchases to work. However, there’s a big gap between those new expectations and what many e-commerce sites are capable of providing.

The Temando State Of Shipping In Commerce study polled 270 small and medium-sized e-commerce businesses and 1300 consumers to identify what consumers expected and what small businesses were currently capable of.

  • Investing in shipping seemed to pay off. 50 percent of mid-market retailers saw an increase in sales after adding shipping choices. 43 percent saw a boost in revenue.
  • 66 percent of shoppers feel shipping fees are unreasonably high and don’t reflect the shipping value.
  • 65 percent would buy more to get free shipping, and $18 shipping is considered reasonable for same-day shipping.
  • 40 percent of consumers expect Amazon Prime-esque memberships within a few years. However, only 25 percent of retailers are planning anything similar.
  • The shipping situation for retailers is getting worse, with 29 percent offering same-day shipping, compared to 53 percent last year. After-hours delivery also fell, from 34 percent to 25 percent.
  • 54 percent of shoppers abandoned their shopping carts as a result of shipping fees.
  • 59 percent would go to a brick and mortar store if they considered the delivery fee unreasonable.
  • Nearly half would abandon their cart if there weren’t any premium, fast delivery options.
  • 100 percent of shoppers expect to get delivery date estimates, but only half of businesses provide them.
  • 50 percent of shoppers wouldn’t bother with a retailer again if they had one negative shipping experience.

The one constant in e-commerce is the expectation of change. Be prepared for shifts in infrastructure, marketing automation, strategy, and ever-changing benchmarks.

The post 4 Studies That Show How E-Commerce Changed in 2017 appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of December 4 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-december-4/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/recommended-marketing-podcasts-week-of-december-4/#respond Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:10:13 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148136 Hear marketing's most trusted experts weigh in on mastering Facebook ads, engaging fans, and the power of "no" in this week's best marketing podcasts.

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of December 4

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Social Pros PodcastSocial Pros #297: How Cleveland Indians Fire Up Their Fans with Social

For us baseball fans, the season can either be too long or too short, depending on the quality of our favorite team’s play. For Joel Hammond, Assistant Director of Communications and Head of Social Media for the Cleveland Indians, 162 games (plus Spring Training and Postseason matchups) is a rewarding but exhausting grind.

In this episode of Convince & Convert’s flagship podcast, hosts Jay Baer and Adam Brown (Executive Strategist, Salesforce Marketing Cloud) talk with Joel about how the recent success of the Cleveland franchise has lead to championship-level social media execution and engagement.

Takeaway: While the baseball team might have a 25-man roster, Joel is a one-man band with a platoon of interns. Together, the Indians have shown us all that social success doesn’t mean you need massive teams and gigantic budgets, though they can’t hurt.

Thanks to their unwavering focus on fan experience, the Indians are number one in all of Major League Baseball, in social media engagement and interaction rate. Since American pro sports franchises have so much attention placed on them, given the passion and connection fans feel towards the team, Joel’s quote below makes even more sense from a social strategy perspective:

“If I have a chance to turn . . . somebody who interacts with the Indians twice a year on social to somebody who interacts with us six times a year on social because I engage with [them], then I have to take advantage of that.”

Joel talks further about UGC, organic social, and creating original content across platforms. It’s a master class in Getting Stuff Done and maximizing the resources at your disposal.

Masters of ScaleMasters of Scale Episode 3: Learn From Every ‘No’

Tristan Walker is the CEO of Bevel. He also might be the most persistent start-up applicant ever. (He’s a former employee of both Twitter and Foursquare, back in their early days.)

Host and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman brings us the stories of entrepreneurs finding opportunities to showcase their abilities and how they kept moving forward with their ideas, dreams, and visions.

Tristan, like the others in this excellent episode, was told “no” over and over again. Hearing “no” is never fun, but instead of letting it defeat and define them, these entrepreneurs readjusted and reconfigured their approach until they got the answers they were seeking—be it from someone else or themselves.

Takeaways: When I was a freshman in college, my second semester English teacher told my class that we were lucky—lucky because, at age 19, we hadn’t been told “no” very much in our lives. At the time, I thought he was right, and in a sense, he certainly is. But in the world of business, hearing “no” just means you’re getting closer to your next “yes.”

Tom Webster and Chris Brogan often talk about pivoting too late and how it can be okay to quit. But there is certainly something admirable and inspiring about the kinds of people who don’t take “no” for an answer. In the face of opposition, they simply smile, say “okay,” and keep looking for a way to find their “yes.”


In business, hearing 'no' just means you’re getting closer to your next 'yes.'
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Social Media Marketing PodcastThe Social Media Marketing Podcast: Facebook Ad Custom Audiences: Retargeting Those Who Know You

Facebook Advertising is one of the most effective tactics you can add to your marketing toolbelt without breaking the bank. (Location and interest data from two billion users will do that.)

In this episode of the consistently actionable Social Media Marketing Podcast, host Michael Stelzner invites The Ad Strategist herself, Amanda Bond, to walk us through the best ways to leverage owned data.

Takeaways: The ability to segment on Facebook is nearly endless. You can slice and dice your audience by who interacts with a certain post, which actions they take, and even how long they engage. As we do with email funnels, marketers can use any of Facebook’s tools to create their own version of Facebook Funnels directly within the platform.

One cool thing Amanda shares is her approach to increasing page engagement—something she calls “engagement looping.” Whenever a user shares your content organically, head over to their profile (or business page) and say thanks! After thanking them, Amanda recommends leaving a fun string of emojis, if and when appropriate. Finally, ask a question that will sway them to come back and engage some more with you. Done right, it’s more than enough to show them you appreciate your audience.

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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