Archive of ‘marketing’ category

Add flesh to personas with cookies

User persona poster by Chase Oliver

User persona poster by Chase Oliver

User personas are great tools for focusing messaging and keeping your users’ motivations at the forefront when developing content and products. A classic way of displaying a user persona internally is through a visual poster that can be hung on a wall. To add more color, and to make things more practical, you can pull the profile off of the wall and onto the screen with web advertising.

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The interest map

To start, create a new user profile on your OS. This will make it easy to switch profiles and not contaminate one group of data with another.

Then, start creating a digital footprint with your user’s pain points in mind. In the fictional example of Mary Manning, she’s a middle aged real estate agent who lives in Nashville. Based on her user persona, she may visit sites about marketing, look at products that she can use in her real estate career and of course do some social networking.

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Creating click streams that advertisers will tap into will take some work. Spread the task over days or weeks to build a robust click stream. To make it easier for them to identify and target your persona, make sure to fill out profiles with the big data collectors like Facebook and Twitter. Retargeting campaigns are especially prevalent on the web so visit some content and product sites that may have a budget to lure you back. If you click on a web advertisement to begin a visit, you’re more likely to be tracked and put into a retargeting bucket.

Viewing the Results

After ‘Mary’ has made her interests and shopping patterns known, you can start to see how her world is impacted by other advertisements, providing great context for your own messaging strategy. Browsing general interest sites like local news pages and weather forecasts should start to reveal which companies are spending money to reach your ideal users.

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After spending some time walking in Mary’s shoes, you might be surprised to learn which companies are dominating her attention, especially if they are not a direct competitor for your product or service.

Treat your personas’ digital footprints as assets, updating the stream once in a while. Then you can tap into a live picture of her world any time you need to, and get a real picture of her potential experience online, based on real (virtual) world conditions.

 

 

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Mojo tips for the new year

January can be tough for a lot of reasons. Daylight hours are short and the weather is often gray. The excitement of Christmas and the new year are over and settling back into daily responsibilities can be daunting.

I wanted to share a suggestion for battling the Winter Blahs: running with podcasts.

Cold weather running with podcasts

Cold weather running with podcasts

Body and Mind

Running (or another form of exercise) is known to be a good way to boost moods and to reduce anxiety. I’m recommending running because of its availability. There’s no gym or equipment required and as a solo activity, it’s always available on your schedule.

Podcasts have been around a long time now and are enjoying a kind of renaissance lately. I’m new to the podcast party but have been making up for lost time, listening in to all kinds of shows whenever I find the chance to listen. Podcasts really work for mood when paired with running.

Running provides an extended amount of time to listen to a show or shows without mental distractions and while your brain is enjoying those exercise endorphins. Choose a podcast that’s inspiring or challenging and double down on the positivity. An engaging podcast can distract from the pain and monotony of a long run too. The two activities really are complementary.

Favorite podcasts to run to

  • TED Talks – Everyone loves these talks and for good reason. They’re smart, inspirational and uplifting. Most presentations translate well into the audio-only format and range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.
  • Interviews and Biographies – By surrounding yourself with great minds you gain a new perspective for what’s possible.
  • History – Podcasts are a great format for learning important lessons from history without cracking open a thick textbook. These shows offer a peak into history’s best stories and characters in an entertaining way.
  • Spiritual Development – Sermons and interviews work nicely for a 30-60 minute run. Especially when you’re running outside, this can be a great time to connect with the Lord and to gain an eternal perspective on the stresses of the day.
  • Business Skills and Case Studies – See what you can learn by listening to show regularly and hearing what other professionals have achieved.

Suggestions

Some podcasts are quite long or take several episodes to tell a story. You can use that to your advantage by linking podcast listening with your runs. If you only allow yourself to listen to a certain show while you’re running you’ll have another reason to get out and run.

Download episodes on wifi before you leave instead of streaming to save on data and to avoid interruptions when you’re outside of good cell coverage.

Tools

Nike+ Running – For tracking distances and workout frequency.

Podcast Addict – For managing shows and playback.

MapMyRun – For discovering routes and planning distances

A Few Favorite Podcasts

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Quick Tip for Pinterest Click Through Rate

I came across a tactic worth testing and thought I’d share. For content marketers utilizing Pinterest, this simple tip could help boost click through rate from Pins and referral traffic to your site.

For brands showing their products in action in a Results Pin, try offering a small version on Pinterest, say 300 pixels wide, and holding back the high resolution one for your website. With a simple call to action in text, you can encourage users to view the bigger, nicer image hosted on your site. Those that want a good look at your beautiful image will need to leave Pinterest to get it.

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On your site, you may choose to show your image on a page that includes call outs to your other content marketing (e.g. a gallery of similar images), links to the products featured in the image or simply your store’s site navigation.

The case for email as the key data point for marketing automation

With digital communication tools everywhere, there has never been more data available to marketers about users. It seems like we shouldn’t have a problem building rich profiles of user behaviors, interests and motivators. But the chance to create deep personalization all hinges on a single question that brands must ask for each point of data: Who are you? Linking behavior to identity can be extremely tricky online, with users using multiple devices and operating under any number of user names, accounts and aliases.

Identifiers
Finding an identifier for an individual used to be as simple as reaching for the White Pages. white pages Once you had a name and a town, there was little confusion about who you were dealing with. Now there requires a variety of efforts of figuring out who is who, including home address, social media handles, cookies, accounts, 3rd party tagging services and the standard social security number. Of all the ways to pin down an id, cell phone and email have become the most useful.

Limits of cookies
The standard way of tracking behavior for sites, user cookies, is still effective. But it falls short in an increasingly multi-device world. Since cookies are stored on the user’s local machine, your site may not recognize them when they return from their tablet. And cookies have always had built in challenges from multiple users using the same machine in a public setting or at home. Have you ever seen ads show up while browsing on the home computer that were more appropriate for your spouse than for you?

Cell phones and email
Phone numbers and email addresses are more of a true identifier since they are permanent for most people. Both are seldom switched in real life and actually facilitate contact. If you want someone to be able to actually reach you, you’ve got to make your phone number known. Relying on any email is problematic, since it’s easy for users to have multiple email accounts including disposable or ‘junk’ addresses. So for the purposes of evaluating the value of data points, I’m referring to actual personal email addresses that receive expected mail.
peoplewalkingThe cell phone number is probably the ideal unique key for keeping track of users in theory. With the ability to port numbers to any new phone, most consumers are loathe to switch their number for any reason and numbers are not quite as easy to fake.

Email for the win
The issue that tips the scales in favor of email is collection. Users aren’t as likely to share their phone number with brands and if they do, they don’t expect to receive marketing messages by call or by text. There are so many more opportunities to collect and use emails. Email addresses are readily shared, especially in return for valuable content. If they do sign up for a newsletter, brands can append their hyperlinks with a unique userid in case customers are consuming emails on a different device. They are also the standard username for social sites, which helps sites with social log-in features to link together separate visits to the same user.

The best choice of all is to make use of all identification opportunities and utilize them to tailor experiences as much as possible. But all data points available to collect are not created equal. Email will serve as the best foundation for building a robust personalized experience for users.

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Ramp Up Anticipation For a Better Unboxing

We talked a while back about how the moment the customer opens their shipment is the climax of the customer experience and the ultimate single make or break point for brand delivery. By that time, the results are beyond our control as marketers. Once the product leaves the warehouse, the die is cast.
Before we get to that point though, we do have chances to influence the final impression. It’s our job to tip the scales in our favor as much as we can. To do that, we must build anticipation for the solution that our customer is waiting for until they can’t wait to tear open the package when it finally does arrive.
The only real caution here is to avoid setting expectations beyond what your product or service can deliver. The product has to come first and I’m assuming that we’ve already got something that does its job. And it’s always wise to save a few surprises for the very end. In the meantime though, there are plenty of ways to whet the appetite.

  • Make estimated delivery updates available at each phase of completion
  • Offer a photo or PDF of your customer’s custom product before it’s boxed up and email it
  • Display happy testimonials on your order confirmation emails
  • Send an email with tips and suggestions on how to use their product in the days before it arrives
  • Mail a handwritten thank you note on the purchase date or email a short comment that is unique to them

I’m sure you can think up many others. These are not cheap marketing tricks though. Anticipation is part of the customer experience. And it’s an opportunity for us to increase customer satisfaction because people want it.
The process surrounding a product is part of the product. Once you’ve created a pleasant expectation in your customer’s mind, they’re very likely to have a positive ultimate experience (unless you completely botch the job.) Think of how good a bakery smells in the morning. Once you’ve got idea of a warm, tasty bagel in your mind, and spend 5 minutes waiting to get a fresh one, chances are you’re going to be happy when you get it.
Most of the time the reason behind this dynamic of persuasion is cognitive dissonance – people don’t want to disagree with themselves. When you buy shoes online, you’re placing your trust in that shoe retailer. You’ve paid your money and, in a sense, placed a bet that you’ve picked out the right company. You want your decision to be affirmed as a good one and will tend to lean toward that conclusion when the shoes arrive.
One of the old sales tricks that salespeople employ is to get the prospect saying yes, even if it’s not directly related to a sale. Once they start saying yes to the small things, they’ll be more likely to keep saying yes. In our case, they’ve already said yes to the big question; they’ve made a purchase. We’re trying to keep the momentum going past the sale and into the product unboxing.
By maintaining contact with customer pre-delivery, you’re making that pull toward a happy conclusion a little stronger. In various ways, you’re telling them ‘you made a good decision, you’re going to be happy when your product arrives, you are a smart shopper…’
Once the customers internalize those messages, they’ll start repeating them to themselves and others, expanding your branding statements even further.What are some ways that you can create positive anticipation that can add to your customer’s experience?
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Hacking LinkedIn for Research

LinkedIn.com is as close to a comprehensive business directory as there is and usually reveals a lot about a company’s make up. But if you’ve ever tried to track down business leads, site owners or potential partners, you’ve probably had trouble locating the right person to contact at some point. Try this trick to get more names out of LinkedIn and locate that key person.

Let’s say you’re trying to get in touch with Pixar to show them your new promotional product. You start by searching for “marketing pixar” in LinkedIn’s search box.After browsing the results, you think the person with the title “Marketing and Promotions at Pixar Animation Studios” would be the perfect one to contact. By clicking through you can see work, education and connection details but the name of the contact is listed as private.
Bummer. Without a name it’s difficult to go much further. Here’s what you do.

Scroll down the mystery contact’s profile until you see the section labeled “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” You’ll see the names of other people that are closely associated with your contact.
Try clicking on a few of them. If you find one that’s in your network (even a 3rd degree contact) you’ll see their profile page.
Going back to our Pixar example, viewers of our target’s profile also viewed the Director of Worldwide Publicity. Since we apparently have some friends in common, I’m able to click through to her profile.

Once I’ve got Robin’s profile page open, I can scroll down to her “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” section. Because she’s closely associated with our “Marketing and Promotions” target, chances are that person will appear in her list. And she does! Using the title that we saw on the private profile page, along with background info that is available on private pages like education, we can confidently match the two and identify the mystery contact.

Depending on her privacy settings, you can now click through to her detail profile or just note the name and do some additional research on Google.

And that’s it. It’s one of those tips that doesn’t work every time but it may help in your research. Happy hunting!

The Sacred Moment of Unboxing


Shopping online is great for selection. It seems that no matter what you’re after, you can easily find multiple vendors willing to ship it to your door.
The age old knock on e-commerce is that you don’t get your hands on your product before you buy. Or even after you buy – not immediately anyway. You have to wait.

That’s why your heartbeat might speed up a bit when you spy a brown box on your front step. The virtual experience you had a few days before has now shown up in the real world. You’ve already paid and endured the waiting and now the payoff is here. Will the product be right or will you be disappointed?
There is even more anxiety if you’re trying a new vendor – are they legitimate? Or did you just get ripped off by a shady scammer?

Once the box is opened, all is revealed. It’s a make or break moment for an online business. How the customer reacts will determine whether or not they remember your name, how they’ll review you online and what they’ll tell their friends. The moment of unboxing can be great for business or it can be a lost opportunity for growth.

In Pow! Right Between the Eyes, Andy Nulman encourages marketers to use the power of surprise to make an impression. It’s relatively easy, can be extremely inexpensive and remarkably effective. So why not apply that wisdom to the critical moment of unboxing and give yourself the chance to maximize the opportunity?

That’s just what MFM Apparel does when they deliver their unique t-shirts, illustrated with quirky characters. The resident artist, Saman, draws a small cartoon and message for each order that goes out the door. It’s an unexpected, personal touch that reaches customers at that critical moment.
The rest of the process was pretty mundane when I shopped at MFM – browse for a shirt, check out online and wait for it to show up in the mail. The shirt was delivered in a boring white mailer too. But the surprise message inside was fun and memorable – surprises usually are. And during the unboxing, the fun of the unexpected extra rubs off on the product which rubs off on the vendor. And here we are.

If you’re selling online, consider carefully what your customers will experience when they open up your box. And if you’re interested in powerful word of mouth marketing, consider using the element of surprise to make sure that experience is a positive one.

Unsolicited Advice for the Professional Service Industry

The recent explosion of information and tools available through the internet has changed things in a variety of industries. One industry that is slow to be transformed? The professional services: painters, landscapers, movers, appliance repair, etc.
Whenever I look for someone to help me with one of those tasks, I’m amazed at how stuck in the past these vendors are. That makes it a real opportunity for someone willing to get with the times.

The experience of hiring a contractor is a little unsettling. When looking for a furnace repairman for example, you’ve got to find someone qualified for the job even though you don’t know much about furnaces. What questions do you ask? What is a reasonable price? Am I inviting a weirdo into my house?

Ultimately, the issue comes down to trust. Trust is everything to contractors.

Getting people to trust you is tricky. It’s hard to put customers at ease, especially if they have just shelled out a bunch of money.
Most vendors don’t help the matter at all with their behavior. I’ve found that even simple acts that build trust like calling someone back when you say you will or showing up on time are missed by your average painter or handyman. Here’s where technology can help.
The internet can be a great equalizer. Small operations can use design templates to create a good looking website that will be miles ahead of the crappy designs that typify contractor sites. Using basic SEO practices, a 2-man lawn mowing service can rank for relevant keywords, boosting their credibility. (Because these jobs are performed by local contractors, ranking for local terms is very doable.) Blogging is a great opportunity to demonstrate expertise and build trust too.

Tech savvy companies could really stand out if thought about using new services creatively. Why not use Google Voice to ring multiple phones from the same 800 number and manage voicemail quote requests online? Or allow customers to see a live schedule for estimates on a website and book their own time? Or offer GPS tracking of service trucks so customers can know when to expect their service person to arrive?

The amazing thing is that the tools to do these things aren’t prohibitively expensive or hard to use. They’re cheap or even free.
And for these types of jobs, each additional sign up is huge. A typical painting job might be worth $2,500 and keep a crew busy for the better part of a week.

So why don’t more professionals take advantage of the free tools available? I’m not sure. I think it has to do with the fact that often times the same person fixing your plumbing is the one handling lead generation. They are focused on their trade and don’t want to think about the business side more than they have to. Marketing is something to get out of the way so you can get on with your work.
If that’s right, technology can’t help after all. The effort needs to come first.

For a company willing to try new things though, today’s tools present an opportunity for extremely efficient marketing which costs very little money. The industry will change eventually so this opportunity is only available for a limited time.

Minnesota Tech Scene at SMBMSP

I attended the latest Social Media Breakfast on Friday morning. I’ve always been curious to go and since the event was at the State Fair this year (and I wanted to go there anyway) I decided it would be a good time to give it a try.
The day started off early and wet and I found myself wandering through an un-crowded fairground for the first time I can remember. The event was held at the Blue Ribbon picnic area, on the opposite side of the fair from the bus drop off. That meant that I arrived a bit late but didn’t have any problem finding a seat.
The program itself was pretty silly. It was funny to sit back and hear the bacon jokes and mixer games but there wasn’t a whole lot of new content presented there. I started to feel a little disappointed that I’d come out until I left the tent and started shaking hands.
I spoke with Rich Goldsmith for a few minutes. (He had just presented an especially angst-ridden bacon haiku about the temptation to eat the non-Kosher food.) He shared a bit about his work in social media and how he’s using it to reach new audiences. You can read Rich’s work at Defenestrator.
Thanks to David Erickson (see his e-Strategy blog) from Tunheim Partners as well. He was at the fair representing No Name Steaks and we talked about their recent effort to add social media tools to their campaigns. The chocolate-and-bacon Conan O’Brien bust that has been all over the media lately was their doing and it was interesting to get a behind the scenes look at how they pulled it off.
The official content up on stage came around too. Eventually, the program moved away from musical chairs and toward some interesting and useful case studies from local companies. That of course is what the Social Media Breakfast events are all about – meeting people and learning from each other. Although I could do without some of the silly games, I enjoyed the event and would try it again.

The rain dried up quickly too and I had a great day at the Fair with my family. I recommend the cinnamon rolls for pre-lunch snacking!

When Going for Word of Mouth, Sweat the Small Stuff!

It’s easy to ignore an acceptable business transaction, one that fulfills all or most of a customers expectations. But if a company can deliver the must-haves first AND surprise the customer with more, it will be hard for the customer to avoid spreading the word.
I ordered some business cards from Moo the other day. They are not like other web based printing companies and that’s a good thing. The thing that made my experience really fun and memorable, and the reason I’m writing about it now, is what happened days after I left their website.
Moo.com is not for everyone. The cards are expensive compared to other vendors online and the turnaround time is an unimpressive 5 business days. The design choices are neat but have very limited options for customization and there is no phone support. From a logical, features point of view, the site really doesn’t cut it. But Marketing is not all about logic.
It was easy enough to get my cards designed and I finished my order feeling okay about the whole process. They even sent me order confirmation details from a fictional personality named Little Moo, using snarky, sarcastic language. Fun, but a lot of people are doing that these days.
My view of Moo went from ordinary to remarkable when I got my cards in the mail.

Instead of packing the cards into a big brown box, they were delivered in a sturdy, handsome desktop display. The Moo logo is subtly included on the box in silver foil and my cards look great stacked inside. True to their personality, they also included an extra business card printed with a meeting crossword game, just for fun.
The effect was that I immediately wanted to show them off. It feels good to see your name on a high quality item and I was excited about the display. It was unexpected. The carrier itself makes you want to slide out a few cards and start handing them out.
For companies producing personalized products, the moment of unboxing is critical. When I was shopping around for a business card vendor, I compared the features like a rational shopper. But when I was opening up the packaging, I was excited to see what I would receive – at a fulcrum point for potential experiences. By nailing the product packaging and including surprise extras, Moo left a great final impression.
The attention to detail may cost a little more in materials and product development time. But the differentiation created and emotions produced make it worth it.

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