How to Do Customer Engagement If You’re In a Unique Niche

I once worked with a business that specialized in making custom squirrel horror dioramas.

If you’re wondering what in the world a custom squirrel horror diorama is, then you’ve proved an underlying point of this article.

Unique niches are really tough for marketing.

If there are 37 people on the planet that are in your target market, then you’ve got your work cut out for you.

But at the same time, a unique niche is a huge advantage!

Marketing in a tight and well-defined niche is deliciously straightforward.

  • You have less competition.
  • You can segment your audience with ease.
  • You can go hyper specific with organic and paid keywords.
  • You can micro target the heck out of Facebook ads.
  • You have the potential to get higher conversion rates.
  • You can get to know each of those 37 people on a first-name basis.

But there are some things that are more difficult in unique niches.

What’s Difficult About Unique Niches?

Customer engagement falls into that category.

Okay, so customer engagement itself isn’t that complicated.

However, when you’re in a specific niche, your customers are going to have specific wants and needs.

So you have to take a much more strategic approach to customer engagement if you want to get the results you’re looking for.

Lots of niche businesses overlook this, and it costs them.

“Customer engagement” falls into the abyss of other jargony business best practices that just don’t get done.

You can avoid falling into the same trap, but you have to plan ahead and work a little harder to understand your customers better.

And that’s the thing — engagement starts with understanding.

Unsurprisingly, customer engagement with niche customers looks a lot like a relationship, but what many brands forget is that relationships take work.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to push the relationship or dating analogy too far.

But I do want to speak directly to businesses that are in a well-defined niche.

I’ve worked with companies who designed hair dryers for women with light and curly hair. Another one of my clients made big rock-shaking machines for mines. (It’s called vibratory equipment.)

Niches are really cool.

And I also want to speak to businesses that need to boost their customer engagement efforts.

Customer engagement is more than just clever tweets and using emojis in your Facebook posts.

Customer engagement is a fascinating world that can dish up more conversions than you ever thought possible.

We’re going to solve the customer engagement problem in unique niches.

(And if you’re the custom squirrel horror diorama guy I used to work with, this article is for you, man.)

Get Up Close and Personal

It makes sense that if you want to sell to customers who have specific wants and needs, you need to figure out what those wants and needs are.

That’s why it’s important to dig deep into demographics and psychographics. Your demographics will tell you who, while psychographics will tell you why.

Demographics and psychographics are important for every customer engagement strategy, but they’re especially crucial when you’re operating in a small niche.

To get this information, you can use a number of different platforms, but Google Analytics is probably the easiest (and it’s free).

Although it will only show you some basic information, it’s often enough to get started.

To find demographics in Google Analytics, go to the sidebar and navigate to Audience > Demographics > Overview.

You’ll find two sections: age and gender.

Again, It’s really basic, and gives you only a slice of relevant demographic data.

Because Google Analytics is so lacking here, consider doing some more research. Other demographics you might want to research include:

  • Location
  • Current occupation
  • Income
  • Education level
  • Family status (marital status, number of children, etc.)

You can find most of these using sites like City-Data.com that give you information on demographics in a certain area that you specify.

When it comes to psychographics, Google Analytics provides more information than you might expect.

You can see this info by going to Audience > Interests > Overview.

Here you’ll see three categories: Affinity Category, In-Market Segment, and Other Category. When you put these three together, you get a better idea of what your customers like.

Pay extra attention to the In-Market Segment. These are things that your customers are in the market for. They’re already into the sales funnel and might even be ready to buy.

Together, demographics and psychographics help paint a vivid picture of your audience.

You not only know what kind of people you’re engaging but also how to engage them (because you know what they want).

So now you know who your customers are and what they want.

What do you do next? You create a strategy that’s custom made for them.

There are lots of ways you can go about this, and it can get confusing.

Here are a few tips to help you out.

Be Approachable

Approachability is one factor that is exponentially more important for niche businesses than it is for more general businesses.

That’s because a unique niche is personal to your customers. Any given customer might even go so far as to define him or herself using a niche.

Consider the cassette market. (Yes, cassettes are making a comeback.) People who listen to cassettes might call themselves cassette enthusiasts.

These people form a community, albeit small, that want that kind of personal engagement that their interests require.

Often, you’re engaging your customers in a way that’s intensely personal to them.

The more approachable you are, the better your customers will feel.

Understand that your customers don’t just want to like you––they want to trust you.

Building trust takes time and effort, but it has a big impact.

So how do you become more approachable?

Especially, since we’re dealing with the issue in a business context, and not in a warm-handshake-and-friendly-smile context.

First, listen to your customers.

And get serious about listening.

It’s easy to tell yourself that you’re listening to your customers, but are you really? If you aren’t, it’s never too late to start.

When you get customer feedback, don’t just make a mental note of it.

Keep a record of it and actually look at it.

Look for common threads in the feedback you get.

You might need to ask for feedback in the form of a survey. Most of your users will be happy to give you their thought, and a nice incentive (like a prize drawing) doesn’t hurt either.

Second, create a personality around your brand.

Of course, you could do this literally like Geico did with their gecko mascot (who has his own Twitter account).

But you could also transform your entire brand into something your customers trust.

Coca-Cola does this with its unforgettable marketing campaigns that are focused on happiness and positivity.

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Bonus: Be funny.

If humor comes naturally to you, use it.

One example of a hilarious brand is Blockbuster. Specifically, The Last Blockbuster.

Okay, maybe it’s not actually a real business, but it sure is funny.

Humor doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes, it’s feels forced and painful, like chewing on screws.

But for businesses that can do it, it enhances approachability.

If your brand is approachable, you’ll stand out from all your competitors.

Your customers will feel like you know them, and that’s because you do. All the work you put into finding demographics and psychographics will pay off at this step.

Enhance Your Online Presence

Like any relationship, the connection between you and your customers has to be nurtured. It takes frequent and open communication for any relationship to succeed.

That’s why having a robust online presence can drastically improve your customer engagement.

Being more active online mean that there are more points of contact.

Your customers can reach you more often, and that very act builds a ton of trust.

You probably saw this coming from a mile away, but being available on social media often is a huge plus.

People spend a lot of time on social media, and you can take advantage of that by also spending a lot of time on various networks.

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Social media is most likely where your target audience hangs out. Your specific audience might tend to congregate on one or two social media sites, and you need to find out exactly where.

This doesn’t mean you should go out and run a bunch of ads on every social media site.

It does mean that you should have a human presence on your accounts.

Look, I love bots just as much as the next guy, but you’re going to tick people off if your Twitter “customer service” is a poorly programmed bot.

(Bots aren’t pure evil, as I’ll mention in just a minute.)

Many brands understand how important this is, and they make sure to respond to as much customer feedback as they can. Target’s Facebook excels at this:

Other brands go above and beyond the call of duty. Some companies like Warby Parker have created social media accounts solely for customer support.

But old-fashioned customer support isn’t the only option. Some businesses, especially smaller ones, simply don’t have the resources to staff a dedicated support team.

That’s one of the reasons live chat has become so popular over the past few years.

With live chat, you can have business hours, so to speak. Your customers know when you’re available, and you can respond in real time.

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It’s a super efficient and cost-effective method of doing customer support in a way that your customers will love.

The ability to talk with your customers in real time is a big benefit. It’ll increase the level of hospitality and make customers feel closer to your brand.

Correctly programmed and carefully used, Chatbots can be used appropriately.

You’ve probably seen these around. They look like live chat boxes but are handled by software.

You can program these bots to do a ton of helpful things, like ask questions and make product suggestions.

Setting up a chatbot will take a little more time, but on the upside, you won’t have to do much after it’s done.

One of the big benefits of chatbots is consistent customer engagement. Your customers can interact with your brand even when you’re not there.

Still, it’s no replacement for human contact, which is why most businesses supplement chatbots with live chat support, and they work nicely in tandem.

Figure Out How to Treat Your Customers

Customer engagement looks a lot different today than it did just ten years ago.

(Sheesh, I’m starting to sound like one of those “when I was a kid” people!)

Today, you can improve your customers’ experiences with interactive quizzes, well-timed popup offers, and even games.

The abundance of customer engagement resources also means that it’s actually more difficult to engage customers than ever before. How can you cut through all the noise?

What many businesses are discovering is that it takes a lot of value for customers to pay attention to a brand.

If you’re not an industry titan like Google or Coca-Cola, this is the road you have to take. And thankfully, it’s not too hard to navigate.

You probably already know that customers prioritize value above all else, but you might be underestimating how much value you need to provide.

There has to be a huge amount of value every step of the way.

Value isn’t just something that you do. It’s something you are.

That sounds fluffy, but it really isn’t. It means that if you’re not giving your customers value as they go through the sales funnel, you’re not doing your job.

Value is what will separate you from everyone else in your niche. You need to figure out what kind of value your customers want and determine the best way to deliver that value.

If you’ve already researched your audience’s demographics and psychographics, you’re already halfway there. All that’s left is to provide the value your customers are looking for.

How do you do that? Actionable content is one of the best ways. Content marketing is still alive and well, and people still respond well to it.

The more helpful your content is, the more your customers will engage with it.

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For your content to stand out, it should be better than your competitors’ content. (That will also help people find your site before they find your competitors.)

The Skyscraper Technique is a popular method for creating amazing content, but in the end, all that matters is providing an overwhelming amount of value with every piece of content you publish.

Use Email For Good, Not Evil

Email is a powerful tool in every marketer’s arsenal––in fact, it’s the most powerful. Email is one of the top-converting channels. It’s simply unparalleled for engagement.

Sadly, it’s often overused. How many times have you gotten annoying email campaigns you didn’t want? Probably more times than you can count.

When it comes to your email strategy, keep Seth Godin’s idea of permission marketing in mind.

When someone gives you their email address, they’re trusting you with it. They expect you to not spam them or send them content they don’t want.

That’s the idea of permission marketing. You are literally getting your subscribers’ permission to market to them, and you have a responsibility to make good on your promise to only give them what they want. That means no spam or unscrupulous tactics.

This goes back to what we covered earlier about building trust with your customers. Email plays a huge role in that. If you respect people’s emails, they will respect you.

It’s tempting to use a lot of fine print to trick people into opting in to more than one list, and you might even want to rent out your list.

But if you really want to engage your customers and turn them into lifelong brand fans, you have to stick to email best practices.

Conclusion

Being in a super specific niche doesn’t have to make your customer engagement difficult.

In fact, niche engagement has the potential to allow you to connect with your customers on a personal level.

At its core, customer engagement has the same principles and priorities no matter what kind of business you own.

But within each niche, it looks a little different.

It’s well worth your time to find out what works and what doesn’t for your customer base.

If you’ve had any problems with customer engagement in your niche, share your experiences in the comments!

And if you have any major wins tell about those, too!

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.

How To Do Tax Return In A Nutshell

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It’s been pointed out to me lately that lots of new businesses and sole traders don’t know how to fill out a tax return properly. Now I’m no accountant, however, I have filled out my own tax return before and this is what you need to do.

what is a tax return?

What Is A Tax Return?

Let’s cover the basics. A tax return is a form that you can fill in online or on paper that you fill in that details your taxable income, and any capital gains if appropriate. Also, you can claim tax allowances and tax reliefs through this form. HMRC (Her Majestys Revenue and Customs) may issue a tax return to you during each tax year. The tax year runs from 6th April to 5th April each year. When issued a tax return it is the law that it must be filled in. This information that you provide HMRC works out your tax bill or whether you are due a tax refund.

who need to do a tax return?

Who Needs To Do A Tax Return?

You will need to fill in a tax return if you are a sole trader if you match any of this criteria:

  • you were self-employed – you can deduct allowable expenses
  • you got £2,500 or more in untaxed income, for example from tips or renting out a propertycontact the helpline if it was less than £2,500
  • your income from savings or investments was £10,000 or more before tax
  • your income from dividends from shares was £10,000 or more before tax
  • you made profits from selling things like shares, a second home or other chargeable assets and need to pay Capital Gains Tax
  • you were a company director – unless it was for a non-profit organisation (such as a charity) and you didn’t get any pay or benefits, like a company car
  • your income (or your partners) was over £50,000 and one of you claimed Child Benefit
  • you had income from abroad that you needed to pay tax on
  • you lived abroad and had a UK income
  • your income was over £100,000
  • you were a trustee of a trust or registered pension scheme
  • you had a P800 from HMRC saying you didn’t pay enough tax last year – and you didn’t pay what you owe through your tax code or with a voluntary payment

Source: HMRC

Filling it in online vs paper

Filling It In Online vs Paper

Apart from filling a physical form in and one digitally, what’s the difference between the two? If you fill in your paper form in and file it before the 31st October, HMRC guarantees to calculate your tax bill and you will know the result before the payment date of 31st January following the end of the tax year. But, if you file it after the 31st October, HMRC cannot guarantee to give you the result before the 31st January.

You can find paper tax return forms to download on the GOV.UK website.

Now, to fill in a tax return online, first, you must register on GOV.UK website. Once completed you will receive a Personal Identification Number in the post, you have 28 days to activate your account using this PIN number, failing to do so will mean you have to go through the registration process again.

Completing the tax return online will ask you a series of questions to bring forward the relevant parts of the tax return (these have been completed during the registration process). It will complete all the calculations for you automatically while providing on screen assistance as you go along filling the document. Your tax bill will be worked out automatically and you will receive an acknowledgment that your tax return has been safely received.

I hope this helped to make the tax return process easier.

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eCommerce Conversion Rates Depend on a Strong UX for Social Traffic

eCommerce Conversion Rates Depend on a Strong UX for Social Traffic

Ecommerce sales have risen nearly 20% a year. By the end of 2017, ecommerce marketers are expected to generate nearly $400 billion in sales. Many intertwining factors are facilitating the trend, but social media appears to be one of the most significant. In fact, social media has been one of the driving forces of ecommerce over the last decade.

However, many ecommerce marketers struggle to meet their conversion goals with social media traffic. The problem usually stems from poor targeting or ads, but some marketers still have difficulty converting visitors even when they have great ads and tightly targeted campaigns. The problem usually stems from a poor user experience (UX).

UX is Vital to Social Media Marketing for Ecommerce

I have only been running Facebook campaigns for about a year, but I have realized how important user experience is. I used to use the same types of landing pages that I promoted with PPV traffic, which didn’t convert well at all.

Continue reading "eCommerce Conversion Rates Depend on a Strong UX for Social Traffic" at Maximize Social Business by clicking here.

Biomimicry: Could a Palm Tree be a Solution to Any of Life’s Pressing Problems?


Introduction: Biomimicry – Could a Palm Tree be a Solution to Any of Life’s Pressing Problems?

Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by NatureBiomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature

There is a new field called Biomimicry. It is just over two decades old, where nature is used to solve problems in the world. This may sound odd to you, but George de Mestral invented Velcro after burrs stuck to his jacket. When he examined them he recognized the potential for a fastener.

Have you read?

Biomimicry: looking to nature to solve human problems

Have a scientific problem? Steal an answer from nature

Today, let’s take a look at the palm tree. I will include some of the characteristics of a palm tree and use them (add some of your own) to associate with a pressing problem that you are having, to see if you can open a new avenue of thought to aid with creative problem solving.

This is meant to be a creative process, to take your mind to a place it has never gone before. It’s doing something you have never done before, to get results you have never gotten before. A quote often attributed to Einstein, but more than likely wasn’t is:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Biomimicry, collage of coconut and other palm trees

 

When you think of a palm tree what immediately comes to mind?

  • Tall and majestic
  • Towering beauty
  • Slender
  • Graceful
  • Evergreen
  • Provides shade
  • Provides food
  • Withstands drought
  • Stands strong even in the most inclement weather
  • Deep rooted
  • Easily recognizable

Facts About, and Characteristics of Palm Trees

  • Evergreen, mostly tropical plant in the family Palmae (also known as Arecaceae).
  • 202 currently known genera with over 2,600 species of palms.
  • First appeared in the fossil record around 80 million years ago.
  • Growing from three to 100 feet.
  • Strong Foundation: Before it begins to sprout upwards, it attains its maximum girth beneath the ground first. That is, it grows deep first.
  • Grows best in moist soil to dry, desert conditions – rainforests to deserts.
  • Crowned by a mass of branches from 40 to 80 in number, and on these the fruit grows.
  • Fan shaped (palmate) or feather shaped (pinnate) compound leaves arranged at the top of an un-branched stem. The leaves of palms are found in an equal distance apart on the spine of the branch.
  • Flexible: The tree bends and sways back and forth but does not break.
  • The coconut tree is a type of palm tree.

If you assigned the characteristics of a palm tree to your problem, how would you solve it? For instance, consolidation is taking place in many industries, so perhaps you are no longer earning enough income. Or you lost your job because of robots or other forms of automation.

Like a palm tree, you have strong roots since you have built a strong foundation of knowledge. Now could be the perfect time to sprout upwards, and like the palm leaves, which spread outwards, you could move into adjacent industries, or provide complementary products and services.

Or if you lost your job because of robots or other forms of automation, like the palm tree, you are flexible and can learn new workplace skills, so that you can thrive in the future. Your mind is a fertile ground, so you can grow in different conditions. The palm tree can grow in rainforest to desert conditions. It has the unique ability to find water sources because of its deep roots. You have what it takes to feed your mind with what it needs, so you can learn, stretch, and grow.

Have you read?


Gamified Strategic Reading Challenge Because Learning Should be Fun

Future Jobs Demand: Skill Up, the Future is Here


Biomimicry: Further Action to Take

  1. Get comfortable with nature. Spend some time exploring http://www.AskNature.org.  Nature may be the solution to your most pressing problems.
  2. I included a collage of palm tree photos that I took while on vacation in Barbados a few years ago. Take a look at the pictures, you may notice other characteristics that stimulate problem solving.
  3. Share this post if you find it useful.

UPDATE: First Published February 2012

 Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature Biomimicry: Inventions Inspired by Nature Biomimicry Resource Handbook: A Seed Bank of Best Practices Biomimicry for Designers Biomimicry in Architecture Biomimicry: Nature as Designer The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation Biomimicry in Organizations: Business Management Inspired by Nature

The post Biomimicry: Could a Palm Tree be a Solution to Any of Life’s Pressing Problems? appeared first on The Invisible Mentor.

What is a Facebook Audience and Why Your Business Needs to Know!

What is a Facebook Audience and Why Your Business Needs to Know!

A word that I find that scares most small to medium business owners is the word “Target”. Whenever I have a workshop or deliver a Facebook Live event, my audience seems to be scared about setting a target audience or creating a niche.

I totally understand why they’re feeling this way. As a small business owner, we need as many customers as we can to stay open. When someone from the marketing world says to us you need to define your target or what is your niche, small to medium business owners cringe. They don’t want to be put in a post as to who their target is.

Get ROI by creating a Facebook custom audience

The problem with not identifying the target market and creating an audience is that your marketing efforts on Facebook will not give you the Return on Investment you’d hoped for.

Continue reading "What is a Facebook Audience and Why Your Business Needs to Know!" at Maximize Social Business by clicking here.

Review: American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane, Walter Isaacson


Introduction: Review: American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane by Walter Isaacson

American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a HurricaneAmerican Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane

Walter Isaacson is a biographer, and he came on my radar because he wrote an authorized biography of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was someone who I was very interested in, and would like to learn more about. I decided to check out Walter Isaacson’s writing to see if I liked his style. At the bookstore I had a few options, and narrowed it down to Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane. Since I had read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I purchased my other option, American Sketches which is a collection of previously written essays by Isaacson.

I felt really drained reading the first few sections of American Sketches and had to put the book down for a few days. I later realized that I was drained because the first few sections were about politicians, some of the choices and decisions they made, and the impact they had. And politics is also not something that I am particularly interested in. When I returned to American Sketches and slogged through the sections about the politicians, I really got into the book, enjoyed it and found it a worthwhile read.

What is American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane by Walter Isaacson About?

American Sketches consists of nine sections, and each section includes several essays:

american sketches walter isaacson, american sketches

  1. Franklin and Other Founders
  2. Statecrafters
    1. McGeorge Bundy, the Brightest
    2. Kissinger and the Roots of Realism
    3. He’s Back
    4. Kissinger Reappraised
    5. James Baker, Wise Man?
    6. Madeline’s War
    7. Colin Powell, the Good Soldier
    8. George Tenet and the Instinct to Please
  3. Reagan and Gorbachev
  4. The Clintons
  5. Albert Einstein
  6. The Age of Technology
    1. In Search of the Real Bill Gates
    2. The Passion of Andrew Grove
    3. Our Century… and the Next One
    4. The Biotech Age
    5. Person of the Century
  7. Journalism
  8. Interlude: Woody Allen’s Heart Wants What It Wants
  9. New Orleans, Mon Amour

Sections 2 to 4, which translate to pages 49 to 125 is what I found extremely draining. But if you enjoy politics you will appreciate those sections. Isaacson’s writing is very academic, and I would go as far as to say that for many sections of American Sketches, it would be easier to understand if the reader had at least a university degree. That’s not a bad thing, we should be reading books that stretch us. Isaacson is a trained journalist who has worked for The Times in the UK and Time magazine. He was also the managing editor of Time magazine, chairman and CEO of CNN, and is now CEO of the Aspen Institute.

Even though Isaacson’s writing is very academic, I appreciate his work because he is very thorough and whatever he writes is very well researched. The book had a feel of honesty about it, and I was more informed after I read it. While I read the essay about Bill Gates, which mentioned Paul Allen, Steve Ballmer, Nathan Myhrvold, I found that I wanted to read Paul Allen’s memoir released recently to compare Allen’s impressions of Gates, Ballmer and Myhrvold with Isaacson’s.

In Isaacson’s essays you often get an intimate look at the people he writes about. He covers a topic through the eyes of a real person to bring the topic to life. You also get new information from him even if you are knowledgeable of the subject or the person. For a while there was an obsession with the public about Einstein’s religious beliefs. Some thought he was an atheist, others thought he was a pantheist, and Isaacson presented excerpts from Einstein records so you can see for yourself what Einstein really said.

And you saw that throughout the book. He presented a transcript of his interview with Woody Allen who was in the media at the time because he started to date Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn. Mia Farrow was Allen’s former lover. Isaacson asked Allen the tough questions such as, “How could you get involved with someone who was almost a daughter? But wasn’t it breaking many bonds of trust to become involved with your lover’s daughter? Did you really take nude pictures of Soon-Yi? Did you molest your daughter? Will your relationship with Soon-Yi continue? Do you consider it a healthy, equal relationship?” His personal feelings about how he felt about the situation did not cloud the way he behaved. For that moment in time, you got an intimate look at Woody Allen and the type of person he is.

Am I better off for having read American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane? Absolutely! The best books are not necessarily the easiest to read, though it helps. I still didn’t enjoy the sections on politics, but I know that people who enjoy political science will appreciate the new insights in Isaacson’s essays. In the journalism section he presented models that he thinks would work for the future of journalism. Originally from New Orleans, his essay talked about the impact of Hurricane Katrina and how rebuilding slow was the best thing for the city, and based on his reasons you saw that as well.

Final Thoughts: American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane by Walter Isaacson

A really good book transforms people, and at the very least, opens them up to a new way of thinking. I got a better sense of who the people were in the essays because of Isaacson’s thoroughness in the way he told the stories through the people. I recommend American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane by Walter Isaacson and I am sure that a few of his essays will resonate with you even if his writing is too academic.

UPDATE: First Published May 2011

 American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane Leonardo da Vinci Einstein: His Life and Universe Benjamin Franklin: An American Life The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution Steve Jobs The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made Kissinger: A Biography

The post Review: American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane, Walter Isaacson appeared first on The Invisible Mentor.

7 Biggest PPC Nightmares Sinking Your ROI

PPC advertising should be straightforward.

You buy an ad. Your ad appears on Google. That ad gets clicked.

You spend a little dough per click, and voila – you’re a marketing genius.

Traffic is booming and you’re appearing in all the right places.

Except that’s not always how it works.

And for some strange reason, you can’t quite figure out why.

Not to worry. Most of the time, you just need to know where to look.

You need to be able to spot those common problem areas. Many of which might be lying to your face.

Here are the seven biggest pay-per-click nightmares that can kill your ROI before it even gets off the ground.

1. Neglecting Attribution Models

It’s painfully obvious to say that Google Analytics can help you track traffic and conversions.

It will show you exactly which areas of your sales funnel are working vs. which ones aren’t.

via GIPHY

The trouble is that tracking PPC conversions in Google AdWords isn’t quite the same.

Google AdWords uses a “Last AdWords” click attribution model.

Meaning that the last PPC ad someone clicks before conversion gets all the credit for that conversion.

This can make it harder to know exactly where users are engaging, what’s bringing them back, and why they converted.

That’s because PPC attribution is designed to build demand now that you’ll convert later on. It’s less like “click > conversion” and more like:

Generic impression > generic click > generic impression > brand click > conversion

To top it off, there are different attribution models that actually tell you where the credit for your conversions is coming from based on what you find important. You could assign every touch point equal credit for conversions, for instance.

Basically, it’s not as easy as saying, “I got a click and therefore my AdWords are working.”

A better solution is to focus on (1) URL tracking and to (2) create an attribution model that meets your conversion goals.

This is important because some devices act like conversion helpers but they don’t actually obtain the conversion credit.

Correct attribution tracking will display your Google AdWord conversion paths more clearly. Breaking these down into micro-conversions can help you tweak each little step.

That’s why first and last-touch attribution models don’t always cut it.

How many steps do it needs to take before the buyers can be converted?

Did they actually convert from your PPC ad the very first time?

Unlikely.

People just used it last.

✅ Social referred them.

✅ Organic found you.

✅ Email nurtured them.

❌ PPC swooped in to steal all the credit.

Put everything in its place. Don’t lose sight of the big picture.

2. Incorrect Conversion Tracking

The thing about PPC is that your ad isn’t the be-all-end-all.

You don’t sell in an ad. You just get people to click.

PPC ads typically go to landing pages that have CTAs and the CTAs are the thing that’s driving the conversion. (But how would you know if you’re not tracking attributions, right?)

Yet conversion tracking isn’t setup properly.

The primary CTA is ignored.

Or worse, you’re counting clicks as conversions.

It’s not that they were just counting the wrong conversion metrics, though. This example was actually ignoring their CTAs completely.

The primary page CTA was a phone number. Anecdotally, phone calls brought better customers that converted faster.

And yet, no call tracking.

You have nothing without historical conversion data.

❌ You have no idea which campaigns are performing best.

❌ You have no idea which keywords are performing best.

❌ And you have no idea where you’re overspending to cut back.

You’re flying blind. Any campaign tweaks or changes are shots in the dark at best.

Neglecting attribution is one thing. But screwing up conversion tracking is quite another.

Notice that this still applies to things outside of “AdWords conversions.”

More often than not, that ringing phone in the background is the direct result of your digital efforts.

70% of phone calls are driven by digital channels, according to Invoca’s Call Intelligence Index that tracked over 30 million calls.

Now compare that to the pitifully low lead generation rates in the Unbounce Benchmark Report that hang somewhere between 2.8% and 6%. And those are just leads, not even closed customers!

Those phone stats are impressive as hell now.

‘Cept for one teeny, tiny problem.

PPC gets the credit about 0.0% of the time in this instance.

Which means you, dear marketer, get 0.0% of the credit. Which nets you 0.0% of the budget required to keep those calls coming in.

Sure. AdWords call extensions are a start.

But more often than not, someone’s clicking through to your site. They’re browsing around. They’re learning and comparing before dialing.

Those call extensions catch none of this.

You need something, anything, like custom phone numbers to track dials from each page.

3. Ignoring Revenue-Based Metrics

PPC “conversions” aren’t always conver$ion$.

If your conversions aren’t making you money, they’re not conversions.

PPC success is about the big picture and the customer journey, absolutely.

But ultimately that journey should lead to a purchase. It should lead to revenue.

Clicks, impressions, and CTRs matter. To a point. But not in the big picture.

But the same holds true when PPC conversions = leads.

Just because campaign A delivers more leads than B doesn’t mean it’s “better.”

Yet that’s what happens. Every single day. In the team talks and discussions with clients or bosses.

Budget gets pulled from B and put behind A.

You need to dig a little deeper. You need to analyze how Cost Per Lead, Revenue Per Lead, and Lifetime Value of a Customer look before making those resource calls.

If you were trying to track LTV, for example, you would want to open up your Google Analytics, set the acquisition date range, select your LTV metrics, and select a few comparison metrics.

This would show you whether or not all your blood, sweat, and tears were actually making you money. Or if you’re still just measuring things that don’t matter in the long run.

4. A/B Testing Bad Offers

Uh oh! Ad CTR is low.

Better A/B test to make sure things are working smoothly, right?

Yes and no.

A/B tests can often be a huge waste of time.

It’s not to say that testing is totally useless. But most of the time you’re not actually ready for it.

Many small businesses and startups simply won’t have the transaction volume when they launch a campaign for A/B testing to make much of an ROI difference.

Roughly speaking, when you have less than 1,000 transactions (leads, signups, purchases and so on) per month, you will be better off pouring your efforts into other areas.

But look.

I know you’re probably going to A/B test anyway. I get it. Some growth hacker said it was a good idea.

If you do want to double check whether or not your campaigns are working, you should focus on testing your offers. Not fiddling with colors or CTA buttons or other A/B testing elements.

Offers are the most important determining factor sabotaging your conversions.

Want better results? Un-suck your offer first.

Don’t spend so much time and energy obsessing over A/B testing PPC ads.

Not when your offer needs help. Not when your landing pages are fugly.

And not when your unique selling proposition isn’t so unique after all.

5. Focusing on Keywords Instead of Search Terms

Google often recommends that you bundle single keywords in an ad group that revolves around the same common theme.

In fact, they recommend you “start with 10-20 keywords.”

This is great advice.

If you are Google. Because it means you make more money – off of people that follow this advice, get terrible results, and then have to spend more on ads.

That many competing keywords makes message match impossible to pull off.

You’ll end up bidding too broadly or bidding on short-head terms.

You won’t be able to laser target ads or landing pages. And you’ll overpay to get competitive traffic that’s not ready to convert.

You might select keywords. But you’re paying for search terms.

And one look at your search terms report will unveil the reason PPC conversion are nil.

In an ideal world, you should keep your keywords as tight as possible in each ad group. Some say limiting it to just a single keyword per ad group.

The reason is because you want to constrict the number of variations each ad shows up for.

Then you can refine with negative search terms to disqualify the leftovers and squeeze more from less.

6. Missing Message Match

The last tip sets up this one.

That way, each one is laser targeted to the ad and landing page.

People will convert better because your results perfectly line up with their query. And you’ll get an added bonus of better quality scores to pay less per click.

  1. The keywords someone types in, should
  2. Show up in the ad you show them, which
  3. Repeats the same messaging on the landing page

That’s how message match should work in an ideal world.

However, that’s not always how it does work.

One day, Oli from Unbounce decided that he was in too good of a mood. So he decided to make himself miserable by clicking on 300 different ads.

The result was that 98% did not match correctly.

Thankfully, there are two easy solutions to solve this problem.

AdWords Dynamic Keyword Insertion.

Create a list of keywords that can be swapped in-and-out depending on what someone searches for.

Let’s say you sell multiple types of furniture.

You can use one basic ad template that will automatically switch out the exact product keyword someone uses (like “Couches”).

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Dynamic text replacement on landing pages.

Same idea, but this time on your landing pages.

You can run the same scenarios to make sure that the product ad people searched for lines up with the same ad and landing page.

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In the Stone Ages of digital advertising (like seven years ago), you used to have to do all of this manually.

You would literally create variations of both ads and landing pages to literally match every single keyword you advertised on.

Technology saves the day yet again.

7. All-Around Bad Ad Creative

Sometimes, you just suck.

Own up to it. Admission is always the first step.

Your ad text is still lame. Or, God forbid, your ads or landing pages are not mobile optimized (← yes, this still happens in 2017).

Some PPC hack once told me that, “Most of the time we’ve found that people don’t even pay attention to the ad, it’s the landing page or website impression that matters most if we get that click.”

So maybe the problem you think is a problem isn’t really the problem.

But the good news is that this one is easy to fix.

You just have to avoid some of the most rookie mistakes and focus on the tried-and-true PPC methods like using headline formulas, landing page formulas, and, where appropriate, power words.

If you try to run through the exact process your customers will, these problems should become obvious.

Here’s a perfect example.

This morning I looked for a “aptitude test for digital marketing” for hiring new people.

Everything started off great, until the first result’s ad text started going into MS Excel and a bunch of other random stuff that has very little to do with marketing.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, though.

I decided to overlook the irrelevant ad copy to click on their site and check out if they had what I was searching for.

I immediately regretted it:

There are so many issues with this page it’s hard to know where to start. But here goes:

  • Zero message match. Page headline doesn’t match ad text or search query.
  • Cheesy stock photos don’t perform well.
  • A wall of text. Seriously. No one’s reading it.
  • Random salary and employment stats.
  • “Free Trial” CTA that doesn’t communicate benefit you’re signing up for.

You can see the page right here for yourself.

I’m not trying to be a jerk. (Not completely, anyway.) But so you can see how obvious these issues become.

Scroll down below the fold and here’s what you see:

More random junk.

Look:

They’re paying good money for these ads! I bet it’s not cheap.

Yet they’re shooting themselves in the foot with basic errors.

There are plenty of places you can go to learn about this stuff. You just have to do your own research. Spend an hour reading any good blog on PPC and you’d spot these issues instantly.

At the end of the day, you have to know the game in order to improve your game.

Not taking the time to learn the basics, or not learning which metrics are important or which ones you should ignore, can sabotage your PPC results.

Conclusion

Nobody said PPC was easy.

But there are certain things you can do to make it easier.

And there are many cases where you make it harder on yourself then it needs to be.

Look for conversions that lead to revenue. Track metrics and data that matter.

Don’t bother A/B testing miniscule information when it’s your offers and value props that dictate results.

Segment your funnels, but make sure each step in that funnel aligns to everything matches properly.

All of these mistakes are common. But they’re not surprising or new.

The solution is out there if you know where to look for it.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

The Top 3 Most Important Elements For An Instagram Ad

The Top 3 Most Important Elements For An Instagram Ad

With 15 million business profiles on Instagram (up from 8 million in March 2017) we can say that the social network owned by Facebook is one of the biggest mobile go-to places for everyone who wants to build an online image of a business.

But there is more to it! As marketers, we are also interested in the numbers that show us the power of the tool or marketplace we want to use, right?

Now let me clarify a few things that will help you understand the power of Instagram:

  1. 80% of the users on Instagram follow a business – this seems like a great place to create a great bridge between your brand and your potential customers.
  2. 60% of people say that they discover new products on Instagram – because brands understand what their audiences want, need to know, how to connect with them and what kind of content to share with them.

Continue reading "The Top 3 Most Important Elements For An Instagram Ad" at Maximize Social Business by clicking here.

Building Social Media Communities That Convert with Kami Huyse

#TwitterSmarter Chat Recap: 8-17-17

Here’s a recap of our fave tweets from this week’s informative and insightful chat. We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below and share your two cents on these questions.

Ask @hootsuite:

We invited our friends from Hootsuite to come on the chat and kick it off by answering one pressing question about Twitter marketing.

#TwitterSmarter Chat

For more tips, advice and resources to help you master Twitter and grow your business be sure to follow me at @MadalynSklar. I’m also available for one-on-one and group coaching and consulting. Get details here.

Be sure to join us every Thursday on Twitter at 1pm ET at hashtag #TwitterSmarter.

Madalyn Sklar, Twitter Advisor

4 Mistakes I Learned About Marketing and Data While Working at a Fortune 50 Company

For the past nearly 3 years, I’ve been in charge of Audience Development for one of the largest media companies in the US.

I learned a LOT during that time. Even more important, I learned a lot about what NOT to do.

Not all of these things were personal ‘mistakes’ per se. Some were top down decisions that were influenced by lack of foresight, knowledge or budget. Others were due to an industry that is undergoing rapid change.

As John Powell said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

To that end, here are the top 4 mistakes I learned during my tenure. I hope sharing these and their learnings will spark some good discussion – either internally or in the comments below.

1. Not Investing in Building User Data

This one definitely took me by surprise.

When I arrived, I had big plans to leverage CRM data to build remarketing pools, lookalike audiences, email campaigns, etc.

But there was no CRM database.

One thing not often considered about media companies is the fact the consumer data is controlled by the cable provider. The cable company collects the payment and therefore have all the associated consumer data:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Credit Card Info
  • Purchase history
  • Login Username/Password
  • Etc.

In it’s simplest form, the media company simply provides the content the cable provider sells to the consumer. For the longest period of time, the value of collecting this data had been overlooked.

Plan of Action:

To access ‘free’ content within an app from the likes of NBC, CBS, Fox and others, you must go through an authentication process. This is done using the same credentials you would login to pay your cable bill.

In one of these apps, you’ve likely come across a login page that looks like this:

This poses two challenges:

  1. Many consumers don’t know or remember this login. As a result, a lot of potential video consumption is lost.
  2. As mentioned above, this is an interstitial page that drives to the cable provider as they own the username and password information.

In collaboration with the product team, a strategy was developed to implement a ‘free trial’ in exchange for the user’s email address. This would allow the user to forego the authentication requirement.

This was the minimal piece of information required for us to begin building a CRM and the beginning of a customer match marketing program across Google, Facebook and Twitter.

It also provided us with the initial piece of consumer data that we could subsequently build on with supplemental offers in exchange for profile completion.

The overarching lesson here is – invest in CRM. Even if you have to start with just a database of email addresses. Start somewhere.

2. Not Understanding the Nuances of Mobile Tracking

As you might imagine, much of our marketing strategy and budget focused on the mobile space. Interestingly enough, this is also a space where ad-blockers are not working.

That said, with mobile advertising comes tracking nuances that I was initially unaware of.

When I joined the team, we were full-steam into launching the first ever marketing campaign. In our haste to launch, we did not take the time to fully understand the impact of not solidifying our mobile tracking solution.

Our primary mobile advertising consisted of:

Desktop & Mobile Banner and Social Ads:

The standard process for attribution is based on the use of cookies.

When a user visits a website via their desktop or mobile device, your banner displays and a cookie is dropped on the visitor’s computers  – regardless of whether or not they click through to your website.

Depending on the ad-server being used, this cookie can remain active for up to 2 years.

Eventually, if the user performs the desired action, that same cookie fires sending the proper attribution for your campaign. All is well in the world.

Apple’s Safari browser blocks 3rd party cookies by default which makes this ‘standard’ tracking more complicated. Among other things, this means your app cannot read the cookie data stored by Mobile Safari.

This presents a challenge to advertisers as Safari’s market share is around 33% globally.

In-App Advertising (sending users to our brand websites):

I’m sure you’ve noticed when you open a link in an app, it doesn’t open a new browser window. Rather, it opens an “in-app browser”.

This makes perfect sense for UX as it allows you to quickly return to the app.

The issue lies in the cookie drop on your phone. This naturally occurs with the click, however, it only drops a cookie for the in-app browser session. Unless the conversion happens immediately within that session, the attribution is lost.

In-App Advertising (sending users to our apps):

Quite simply, cookies are not used ‘in-app’. This left us with zero attribution or cross-device tracking.

The lack of attention to these details was quickly evident. At the end of the campaign, we were left pointing to engagement metrics like impressions, CTR and social shares as a measure of success.

Not at all what a consumer acquisition campaign should be reporting.

Plan of Action:

The quickest change to a leaky attribution bucket that we could make was to tackle the Safari issue. We simply updated our social and display targeting to remove Safari browsers.

While Google struggles with mobile and socially-driven demographic/interest targeting, Facebook provides the ability to target (or exclude) users by Web browser.

While not foolproof, for the likes of Twitter and Google, we targeted only older operating systems in an effort to capture users who were still using legacy browsers.

Considering our audience was US based, we estimated that we would only be missing out on approximately 15-18% of the overall market.

The other two challenges were a bit more complicated and required a mobile attribution solution that established the match between the user’s advertising ID and the publisher.

While there are many companies available for this, after evaluation, we landed on Kochava as our solution provider.

Pro tip: if you’re on a budget, Branch.io is a completely free solution that provides many of the same features.

3. Focusing on Sexy vs. Efficient

The programmatic display and mobile space is filled with shiny new tools, ad placements, and even ad units.

Combine that with the traditional types of advertising done by media companies (think big billboards, bus sides, etc) and these quickly become distractions from tactics that are proven to work.

I think it’s fair to say we spread our tactics far too wide in the early years in hopes of capitalizing on that sexy new ad-unit or the hot new ad targeting. This was, unfortunately, at the expense of tried and true tactics like traditional paid search.

A smarter approach would have been to test into these tactics rather than build a comprehensive media plan that included them.

Plan of Action:

I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs. And Apple in general. One of my favorite quotes from him is:

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

With more data and proper attribution in place, we were more empowered to direct the media plans across the brands.

We focused on tried and true channels that significantly outperformed the “shiny objects” that had resulted in wasted spend and higher costs for creative development.

This paid off in a big way:

  • Total impressions declined significantly, however, clicks increased just as dramatically
  • Average click costs also declined
  • Cost per app install decreased nearly 200%
  • Cost per video start decreased 230%

Sometimes the ‘simple’ things just work better.

Ultimately, after seeing the data, I took away a few lessons that can be applied to almost any campaign:

Programmatic display isn’t the end all, be all. It’s an industry buzzword. I could even say ‘buzztactic’. It’s rife with click fraud and vendors with non-transparent ‘private networks’. It’s susceptible to ad blockers and comes with many privacy issues.

Don’t get me wrong. It can work.

But, test into programmatic options ONLY after you’ve exhausted the below tactics.

Focus on channels where a consumer is actively searching for you. They’re already self-qualified based on their actions. The most applicable here is paid search across Bing or Google.

Remarket your way to lower cost per acquisitions. You’ve already paid the premium CPC or CPM to get that user to your website. Typically, remarketing campaigns come with much lower costs. Why not re-engage a warm lead for less?

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#Hashtags are inherently social, but leave them out of social ad copy. Through our trimming of tactics, we also trimmed areas where consumers might be tempted to leave the topic at hand.

In this case, we removed any hashtag mentions in our ad copy so consumers would focus instead on the ‘install’. Our conversion rates improved as a result.

When pushing mobile installs, leverage a device in your creative. When you think about it, of course. It makes sense. But we proved it out via testing. Showing consumers an image of their device in the creative they’re being served improved conversion rates.

4. Not Leveraging an Always on Strategy

Consumers, myself included, are always on. Always plugged in. It’s a bad, addicting habit.

But, that also means running a campaign for a TV show only when that show is in-season leaves opportunity on the table.

There are a few challenges with being able to do this:

First, media companies are selling off the rights to their shows to the likes of Netflix and Hulu. In some cases, the ability to create a show is solely dependent on the revenue coming from these transactions.

This means an always on strategy will never be an option once the rights are sold.

Second, when we first launched our campaigns, we were spending large portions of our budget on fancy creative and higher cost CPMs trying to capture the next big thing.

This left us without budget pacing that would allow for an always on strategy.

Plan of Action:

We tackled the second issue as part of our streamlining of tactics. This enabled our budgets to stretch farther and for longer periods of time both pre-premier and post-finale.

The matter of rights was more complicated and is probably worth a completely separate post. That said, as a test, we decided to focus on a core set of shows where the rights had been retained for several years.

The hope was, if we could show a series with multiple seasons resulted in larger average views per user, we could start to build a case for investing in the rights for the more popular shows.

It worked.

We found not only were the average views per user up, but these campaigns were far outperforming pilot shows and series with limited rights.

This resulted in overall efficiencies for the campaign.

Wrapping Up

There’s no question the digital space can provide lots of opportunity for growth and learning. I have certainly learned a ton.

Hopefully sharing some of these insights will help you better streamline your digital marketing efforts, focus on what works, get your tracking in order and ultimately drive increased performance.

About the Author: Jon Clark is the founder of Fuze SEO, a boutique digital marketing company in New York. He writes regularly on SEO tactics, analytics and social media best practices. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter. When not working or writing, Jon enjoys documenting his travels on Instagram.