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Branding

Dear Robinhood CEO: Here’s What You Should Have Done Instead

Robinhood

It takes years to build a reputation and only moments to destroy it. Amidst an unprecedented (ugh – not that word again!) trading surge, the Robinhood CEO had an impossible tension to navigate. How to address big-picture business concerns, while appeasing the interests of investors and company employees.

I’m sorry to say that employees got picked last.

Robinhood Employes Not Happy

Robinhood CEO experiences employee backlash.

Employees Feeling Disenfranchised

According to its website, Robinhood’s mission is “democratize finance for all.� But the decision was made this past week to restrict transactions on highly volatile stocks (do I even need to tell you which?). And team members were left wondering if they had been lied to.

“In the knowledge economy, employees espouse the brand values as much as their title or their paycheck,� says leadership expert, Robert Glazer, of Acceleration Partners. “One wrong move is often met with grace. But wrong moves compounded with poor communication can cause a revolt and an employee backlash�

Robinhood apologized to its one thousand employees by issuing a $40 DoorDash credit. This gesture occurred after the company secured an additional billion dollars to cover margins. A necessary operational response? Absolutely. But not the message they were looking to send internally.

“The recipients were patronized,� says John Ruhlin, author of GIFT∙OLOGY, a playbook for B2B gifting. “Everyone on the planet is watching your every move. And the best you can come up with is a $40 gift card? This adds insult to injury.�

Foundations of Employee Gifting

In Robinhood’s defense, most business leaders are horrific gift-givers. One recent study documents how givers and recipients place different value judgments on the same gift. The disconnect can be so massive that, according to another study, the wrong gift does more to hurt than help.

Ruhlin says he’s seen it happen. “Loyalty is fickle because feelings are fickle. We have clients that come to us and say: ‘we tried gifting, we messed it up, can you salvage this?’ Fortunately the answer is almost always yes.�

So what should Robinhood’s CEO have done? And how can you successfully execute strategic gifting in your organization? The following tips will help.

Choose your words carefully 

The most important part of an apology is to mean it. Jonathan Bernstein, founder of Bernstein Crisis Management and author of ‘10 Steps of Crisis Communication,’ suggests leading with empathy. “Your messaging must make it clear you have compassion – stakeholders must understand your message the way it was meant to be understood.� In other words: you must genuinely care.

Proper wordsmithing is crucial even when you’re not apologizing. Would you rather eat something 95% lean or 5% fat? If your goal is sincerity, avoid clichés and corporate platitudes.

Good leaders communicate from the heart. Not through the lens of legal permissibility or marketing spin.

Get them what they want

While this might be blasphemous to some, these five studies make a convincing argument to involve the recipient in gift selection. Monika Kochhar is the co-founder of SmartGift, a platform that enables business leaders to connect with others in a virtual world.

“Modern day technology allows us to re-imagine the traditional gifting experience. Instead of saying, ‘here – I got this for you,’ we can now say ‘I got this for you – which color, what size, and where do you want it shipped?’� SmartGift uses artificial intelligence to help match recipients with the right item at a pre-determined price point.

No more ‘one size fits all.’ Something Robinhood employees (and critics) might have appreciated.

Spend the right amount

So how much should Robinhood have spent on their gift? Both Ruhlin and Kochhar cited similar numbers from their client experiences. “Our biggest successes are practical luxuries, in the $100-$300 range. It’s high enough to afford quality, but not so low to appear stingy.�

Kochhar suggests not obsessing over price-tags. “Employee gifting is an investment. Leaders don’t audit the salaried costs of two hour Zoom calls. Yet we’re going to pinch nickels with appreciation? Double standards do not serve us.�

It’s not about you.

The fastest way to devalue a gift and turn it into an advertisement is by putting your company’s name on it (this StoryBrand podcast explains it nicely). Over the years, I have received a thrift store’s worth of logo-covered tote bags, clothing, and water bottles. All have been donated, trashed, or relegated to the garage.

Robinhood might not have done this explicitly. But the immediacy of their gesture suggests more of a reactionary appeasement than genuine remorse. You wouldn’t give your spouse a gift with your name on it. Don’t do it for your employees or clients. And never make your gifts about the optics.

The right perspective. Always.

Leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk encourage leaders to play the long game – both with gifting and decision-making. While I am empathetic to the chaos surrounding Robinhood’s CEO this past week, this saga feels less like a passing tabloid headline and more like THE BIG SHORT. Or at least an extended 30-for-30 episode.

Unlike certain investment strategies, there’s no benefit to volatile reputations. In today’s media-crazed environment, brands explode (or implode) when the CEO makes the right moves. Our opportunity as leaders is to build reputations out of stone, not plastic. When we execute strategic gifting the right way, we create an environment of stability and confidence. And a brand to match.

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Branding design effectivness Mobile SEO UX web design

How Does Web Design Affect Your SEO and UX

seo ux

It takes just 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about a website. Fail to make a positive impression and visitors will quickly hit the back button. It’s clear that aesthetics have a strong impact on how users judge a website. But there are two other aspects you shouldn’t overlook — SEO and UX. But how does web design affect your SEO and UX?

People turn to search engines like Google for answers, which is why optimizing for SEO is important. SEO helps your site get found for queries that are relevant to your business.

At the same time, website design goes beyond aesthetics. A site with poor UX not only makes it frustrating for users to navigate your site; it also impacts your search engine rankings.

Here we’ll look at different aspects of web design and how they affect SEO and UX.

Mobile Friendliness

Smartphone usage has become so ubiquitous that you would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a mobile device. There are an estimated 3.5 billion smartphone users and that figure is only expected to increase.

bar-graph-smartphone-users-2016-2021-expected

(Image Source)

More people are accessing the web from their mobile devices.

In fact, Google announced mobile-first indexing for the entire web. This means that Google will use the mobile version of your site in the search results.

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your rankings will likely be impacted as a result. Online users today are also less tolerant of sites that aren’t optimized for their devices.

Ensuring that your site works across all devices needs to be a priority if it isn’t already.

Site Speed

No matter how well-designed your site is, it won’t matter if it doesn’t load quickly.

Online users may have been tolerant of slow sites in the past. But expectations have changed and people today want to be able to find answers fast.

If your site doesn’t load quickly, don’t expect your visitors to stick around and wait. Most will simply click the back button and click through to another search result.

Google has even released an update called the Speed Update that makes loading times a ranking factor. All other factors being equal, a site that loads faster than yours will rank higher in the search results.

What can you do to make your site faster?

Start with the obvious. Large images that aren’t optimized are one of the biggest culprits of slow loading time.

Use photo editing software like Photoshop to compress your images before you upload them to your pages. If you use WordPress, there are also many plugins you can install that automatically do this for you.

Other ways to speed up your site include enabling compression, leveraging browsing caching, minifying CSS, JavaScript, HTML files, and using a content distribution network.

Typography

Typography is another aspect of web design that affects SEO and UX.

Nothing is more frustrating than landing on a site only to find that text is too small. You have to zoom in from your device just to read the content.

Most users will simply leave the page if they’re not able to read the text. A high bounce rate indicates that visitors aren’t finding your site useful or relevant.

There’s even some correlation between bounce rates and organic rankings:

bounce-rate-vs-organic-position-graph-for-seo-and-ux

(Image Source)

While having a professional design is important, it’s also a good idea to improve your content’s readability. Use a legible font and size to ensure that users can easily read the text.

Ensure that your content is legible across all devices, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

Navigation

A crucial aspect of web design is navigation.

Navigation links help orient your visitors as they explore your site. If visitors cannot easily navigate your site or find what they’re looking for, they may feel confused or frustrated.

Organize your navigation menu into categories and subcategories that users can click through to find the right page. Optimize those links with keywords to improve their visibility, and keep in mind SEO and UX.

Here’s an example of how the main navigation bar looks on Hacker Noon:

hackernoon-navigation-bar-on-seo-and-ux-importance

(Image Source)

Generally, you want to put your navigation bar in a place where visitors expect to find it, such as at the top or to the side.

Use clear text for each of your navigation links to avoid any misunderstandings. There’s a reason why most websites use “Contactâ€� for the contact page and “About Usâ€� for the about page.

Color Schemes

Color schemes can affect how visitors perceive your business. For example, you can use brighter colors to convey a playful tone. On the other hand, you can use darker colors like black to convey luxury.

The color schemes you choose for your site should ideally match the services that your business offers. For example, if you were a cleaning company, you would probably use green colors to indicate freshness instead of color like brown or black.

White space is another important element of web design. It’s essentially the empty space around your content, giving them room to breathe.

4 out of 5 participants rated the design on the left more favorably over the design on the right even though both companies offer similar prices and products.

web-design-and-seo-on-two-pages

(Image Source)

Playful colors combined with white space make the design from BoxGreen more visually appealing than its competitor. In contrast, the design from Guilt-Free looks more cluttered and not as attractive.

When comparing the two options above, it’s clear that design was ultimately the deciding factor on the participants’ ratings. In many cases, it can mean the difference between a customer shopping at your site or a competitors’.

Usability

Usability refers to how easy or difficult it is for visitors to navigate your site. In other words, are visitors able to find what they’re looking for?

Poor web design doesn’t just affect SEO. It also affects your site’s usability and whether users can achieve what they set out to do.

If you want visitors to have a positive impression of your brand, it’s important to optimize for usability. Start with a clear visual hierarchy with design elements in order of importance.

You can use design elements like scale and spacing to indicate which pieces of content are important and where you want users to pay attention to.

Here’s an example of a homepage with a good visual hierarchy:

fullstory-visual-heirarchy-on-web-design-and-seo

(Image Source)

There’s a clear “flowâ€� to the page and all the elements are laid out intuitively. The copy on the page is written well, and there’s even a call to action that tells visitors exactly what to do (get a demo).

Similarly, your web design should make it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for right away.

Conclusion

Web design and SEO go hand-in-hand.

Even with a professional-looking site, visitors are likely to bounce if it’s frustrating to navigate or not optimize their device. Those signals tell Google that users aren’t finding your site useful, which can impact your rankings.

On the other hand, ranking at the top of Google won’t help either if you have a poor design that doesn’t instill trust. That’s why it’s important to incorporate both SEO and UX into your web design right from the start.

Top Image Credit: bongkarn thanyaki; pexels

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Brand Marketing Branding Content Marketing Entrepreneurs influencer influencer marketing influencer marketing agency Influencers Marketing Social

Word-of-Mouth Marketing in 2020: The Power of Social Media Influencers

social media influencers

The power of influencer marketing is multidimensional, as it simultaneously affects different aspects of brand success: exposure, reputation, audience engagement, customer loyalty, and conversions. Influencer marketing is a way to tell your company’s story to the millions simultaneously through the mouths of those who already have the ear of your target audience. Here is word-of-mouth marketing in 2020 and beyond.

There is power in social media influencers.

The power in social media is generated by influencers individuals whose content resonates with broad audiences, impacts their lives, changes their mindset, and even affects their purchasing decisions because of their authority, knowledge, or position.

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.” — Seth Godin

Influencer Marketing: What Is It and Why You Need It?

Influencer marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing tactics to enter the trust circle of potential customers. These people are an automatically loyal community since your brand is introduced to them by a person they already trust. Customer loyalty is the primary factor impacting the buying decision, particularly in times of a recession, when uncertainty toward the future is soaring in the air. That’s why it’s so crucial for companies to invest in building trust and give customers more confidence.

Influencer marketing is fueled by an ancient but still actionable word-of-mouth method. It allows you to accelerate online brand expansion by partnering with a thought leader who can be the first to start the word-of-mouth chain nourished by helpful content instead of ads. According to McKinsey, word-of-mouth marketing generates two times the sales of paid advertising. At the same time, Deloitte reports that customers acquired through word-of-mouth have a 37 percent higher retention rate than by any other means. 

Customers come and return to a brand trusted by influencers. They are considered experts who always keep abreast of the latest industry trends and recommend something really worth attention. To drive brand growth and success, businesses should learn more about influencer marketing and actively leverage it in the digital age.

Benefits of Influencer Marketing: a New View

Image Credit: helena lopes; pexels

Influencers build friendships, not “brand� relationships

If you ask customers what kind of relationships with a brand they’d like to have, you will likely hear about something similar to friendship. People want to feel appreciated and know that brands care about selling and empowering and inspiring them. Influencer marketing is the key to building human connections between a brand and its target audience. 

Interacting with a brand through a prism of the influencer’s positive feedback, customers feel more value in what the brand does and creates. They start associating its products and services with authoritativeness and reliability as they are recommended by the leading niche experts, aka thought leaders. Influencer marketing transits brand-customer relationships to a more personal level and makes them friends.

It allows you to discover what resonates with your customers.

When partnering with influencers, you can explore what types of content, messages, and visuals work best with your target audience. Influencer marketing allows you to promote your brand and conduct “field studies� on the influencer’s social media pages, investigate how they are interacting with potential customers, and what drives audience engagement. 

By monitoring and analyzing influencer-audience relationships, you can learn more about your customers, define better strategies for your future marketing campaigns, and improve products.

It helps provide anticipated WOW & emotion-driven engagement.

Leveraging the benefits of influencer marketing, you can introduce your brand engagingly and creatively. Influencers are mostly driven by creativity, curiosity about getting new experiences, and desire to bring value to their followers. They invest time and effort in producing highly engaging content that targets people who might be your potential customers. 

Making your brand intro a part of the influencer’s amazing content, you significantly raise chances of making the WOW effect, creating an unforgettable first impression, and driving continuous customer engagement. It helps provoke the person’s thoughts about a product and forths the first emotional interaction with it. 

Companies should care about creating emotional bonds with a target audience because they are fertile soil for growing customer loyalty. Consumer loyalty is a significant business value since it helps smooth sharp edges of customer experience and keeps conversions up. When emotional connections are damaged, rational (or even critical) thinking rears up again, and it may negatively impact sales in the future.

It promotes a brand through useful content instead of ads.

People trust advertising much less than before. On the contrary, word of mouth still is relevant and actionable even today. The sunrise of new digital innovations has just given it a new boost. Today, most of our words are digital and can spread at wind speed across the web. You can add your brand more significance and amplify word of mouth arising around it by producing quality content that inspires people and helps them tackle the most actual problems. 

At the same time, you can also save time on content production and reach a new audience with the help of influencer marketing. Influencers may endorse your brand and introduce it to their followers, involving your brand information in their own content. 

It is a highly cost-effective digital marketing channel.

Social media influencer marketing is becoming one of the most actionable digital marketing channels, even if compared to email marketing, paid search, display advertising, and affiliate marketing. According to Convince & Convert, 22% of digital marketing managers find influencer marketing the most cost-effective customer acquisition channel. As reported in a study conducted by Tomoson, influencer marketing brings a $6.50 return on investment for every dollar spent.

Is Influencer Marketing Worth It? 

Influencer marketing is a goldmine that may help companies keep the target audience’s attention in the highly competitive digital world. Is it worth investing in? Only you can answer it for sure. However, before you do it, just look through the above-mentioned values arising when someone influential talks about your brand once again. 

A successful collaboration with thought leaders can help you increase brand awareness, conquer the hearts of a new audience, gain its loyalty, grow brand popularity, and multiply revenue. It’s a powerful machine producing new, exciting human-brand interactions bringing plenty of benefits for both of them.

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brand Branding business name Naming

Why Your Brand Name is Important: 4 Things No One Tells You

brand name

First impressions wouldn’t matter so much if we could all get second chances to make the right first impression. But this is never the case, hence the need to ensure that people’s first contact with your business is a memorable one. This first contact is often your brand name. Here is why your brand name is important and four things no one tells you about.

Your Brand Name is Important

There is no doubt, your brand name is important. Knowing how important your brand name is, you want to be sure that it is impressive. Doing this requires a mix of tact, creativity and relevant research.

Your brand identity as typified by your brand name must be thoughtfully and thoroughly executed to represent your brand in the best light possible, make room for growth and possible expansion while remaining relevant over time.

There are a couple of brand naming mistakes to avoid, but below are four things no one would tell you about your brand name.

1. Your brand name is your story headline

A good product without the right packaging would not only fail to reach the right audience, but it would also undermine the quality of the product. Some business owners choose brand names that leave people guessing what their business is about.

Everyone is busy, too busy to worry about your brand. People’s attention span is shorter than ever, with so much information competing for their attention per time. Your brand must be able to stand you out from the crowd and spell out your brand essence at a glance.

Your brand is a story. You are inviting your target audience to come with you on this journey. Make it easier for them to follow by choosing a brand name, which is akin to the title of your story, that is clear, precise, and compelling

2. Your brand name ought to inspire a response

Human beings are emotional beings. We act in line with our feelings and rationalize them in our minds. This is our first reaction to things, it is based on feelings. Even buying decisions are based on feelings. People don’t always need carbonated drinks like coca-cola, it is not a necessary requirement for living. But the feeling the taste creates, especially when it is cold, keeps people going for it.

Your brand name must be able to elicit a response from people if your brand is going to go very far. It needs to be active and alive for people to want to take action. If people don’t feel like doing something, they would not do anything.

As humans, we hardly respond to something we don’t feel anything about. Your brand name must be interesting and captivating.

One way to achieve this is to pick a brand name that is consistent with everyday words people in your target audience use. That way when your brand name pops up, they already have an idea of what your brand is about and what actions they need to take. Like every good story, you want yours to provoke action from your audience.

3. Consider a spice of mystery

Sometimes the magic wand that gets people talking about your brand is a bit of mystery. Yes, people’s attention span has reduced but they can spend a second more to find out details about something that catches their fancy.

Think about a brand name like ReadWrite, a brand that is focused on building the next generation of tech media companies with a focus on providing relevant information in a way that favors readers’ productivity instead of page views and time on site. The brand name is a combination of everyday words used by people in their target audience, yet it puts forward a bit of mystery with two words that sound like opposites.

The key here is a skillful mix of relevant keywords as much as possible. But resist the temptation to tweak keywords so much that they become difficult to pronounce or remember. It may sound good when pronounced, but you don’t want people guessing what the right spelling of your brand name is. Imagine having to remember, ReadWryt, in place of our example above. Stay within easily relatable and readable confines.

4. Use a brand naming platform

There is nothing wrong with using a naming platform when struggling to pick the right name for your brand. A brand naming platform allows you to choose from an avalanche of options depending on the keywords you put into the system.

Different business naming services offer different naming methods. Some require keywords that represent your business and using those keywords; the platform generates name options and combinations that could work for your brand. This type of service is usually called a business name generator. For example, NameOyster uses artificial intelligence to generate names, and they are typically free of charge.

Other services require more details regarding your business and ask you to fill out a creative brief. This service would usually use real people’s creative minds instead of a machine. The beautiful thing about a naming service is the creativeness of the name ideas compared to a generator.

They usually offer unique and custom name ideas. For example, Brand New Name uses contests to have creative people compete to win a prize. Real people suggest hundreds of authentic and innovative ideas, and you choose the best ones and reward them. This method usually offers better quality names since people know they have to deliver based on your specific needs.

These services are also designed to suggest only available name options, taking away the stress of verifying availability, making it a sure way to find a unique and perfect name for your business.

5. Take advantage of available tools

There is hardly anything you want to do that the internet doesn’t have supporting tools for. All you need to do is arm yourself with the relevant keywords, plug them into an online tool, and pick from available options.

With Google Trends, you can search and view current and past trends. This would give you an idea of what people previously searched for in line with your proposed brand name. With this, you are better empowered in your choice of a brand name.

Google and search results have some other tools that provide a general view of word combinations that could work for just any brand.

In conclusion, your brand is a story, a story you are telling your customers and target audience. A good story is a mix of different elements, the title of the story – your brand name, being one of the most important elements. Get it right and boost your brand by taking advantage of the tips shared in this post.

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Branding customer connection customer engagement customer experience Customer Service Digital Marketing Marketing online marketing

How to Use 6 Moments of Truth to Create a Strong Bond Between Customers and Your Brand

customers and branding

In the 1980s, Jan Carlzon, President of Scandinavian Airlines, introduced the concept of the “moments of truth� to his organization. In Carlzon’s words, “The Moments of Truth are the various points at which people connect with the brand.� Here is how to use six moments of truth to create a strong bond between your customers and your brand.

Moments of Truth

Carlzon believed that if you create a positive outcome at each Moment of Truth — then your business will be successful. That theory proved accurate when Scandinavian Airlines became one of the most admired industry brands, despite tough competition.

Since then, the Moments of Truth concept gained momentum as it rolled through sales, traditional marketing, and growth marketing that focuses on user acquisition and retaining customers, and turning them into passionate advocates.

Each brand uses it to build an emotional connection with customers at each moment.

Initially, only Carlzon used the concept of Moments of Truth. As the theory progressed, more brands, like Procter & Gamble, Google, and others, joined the movement, unveiling the exact Moments of Truth necessary to reach their users’ hearts.

Today, you will find countless micro-moments involved in the theory. In this post, I will discuss six significant moments at each step of the entire customer journey.

Without further ado, let’s explore what those moments are and how they will help you build a long-lasting relationship with customers.

6 Moments of Truth to Build a Strong Bond with Customers

1. Less than Zero Moments of Truth (<ZMOT): “I don’t know.�

People get on Google and research products or services before buying them. But a “before-Google� moment exists when something happens in the customers’ lives that lead them to go online and find out the answers or solutions.

This is the “Less than Zero Moment of Truth� (or “<ZMOT�). A brand must plant the idea of why potential customers need their product or service before they jump onto Google for more information. Call this the “awareness stage� when customers have a problem but are not aware of it yet.

To create awareness during Less than Zero Moments of Truth, you will require:

  • Data on who your targeted audience is
  • Data on which channels they hang out in the most
  • Content with search intent that fits well at the awareness stage, as well as fits the channel itself

For example, Femibion is a German pregnancy healthcare brand owned by Merck Consumer Health. Merck wanted to raise brand awareness by offering a free baby-planning book called Femibion BabyPlanung.

To sell the planning book would be challenging because mothers weren’t even aware that they needed a baby-planning book to demystify practical issues during pregnancy.

Merck took this challenge and worked with Facebook on a multistage campaign, targeting female audiences in Germany.

The campaign debuted with a cheeky series of carousel ads, presenting blissfully happy pictures of “baby-making places,� or particular spots where women might conceive a child.

The later ads possessed a more standard format, featuring the book’s image, accompanied by a call to action.

By the time the brand ended the promotion, the ads had a 35% increase in conversion rate. As a bonus, the company successfully generated 10K leads while decreasing their sample distribution cost by 2X.

Because Less than Zero Moments of Truth is just an awareness stage, you can’t guarantee leads. Generally, when users become aware of a problem or solution, their next step is to Google-it — which brings us to our next Moment of Truth.

2. Zero Moments of Truth (ZMOT): “This is the problem. I need a solution.�

Here comes your favorite moment: When potential customers jump onto Google to find the solution or answer to their problem or question. They may find themselves fascinated by your product or service while on their journey.

The moment takes place before the consumer has decided to buy. At this moment, consumers also look for websites, reviews, and other confirming data before they make up their minds.

Google, itself came up with the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) in 2011.

ZMOT is a collection of multiple moments, also known as a “micro-moment,� wherein consumers go through multiple mini-moments before buying the product.

How does a Micro-Moment Play Out?

Picture this: A traveler is seeking a new place to explore. He runs into an ad for a Smoky Mountain resort on social media. He searches Google to see how the place looks and read some Google reviews; then, he asks friends and checks out YouTube to find worthy places around the resort.

In this case, the potential customer goes through multiple micro-moments before making fully informed decisions using all available sources.

The key here is to optimize each micro-moment that takes place along the journey, starting from when consumers go online to when they select the product or service, read reviews, compare information, and so on.

There are three steps to optimize each Zero Moment of Truth:

  • Find your zero moments: Imagine a customer’s journey, starting from going to Google with potential searches to consuming everything that comes along the way. Note every moment that takes place. Figure out ways to integrate your brand. For example, you can collect Google reviews from past customers to convince future customers.
  • Answer the questions that customers ask: Work on discovering all the questions those potential customers may ask and answer them in every possible way. For example, answer the question, “What are the best places to visit around the Eiffel Tower?â€� in an article or video format.
  • Adopt four parts of communication: There are four ways to communicate with your potential customers at the Zero Moment of Truth stage via content:
    1. Paid advertisements: Google ads or social media ads
    2. Owned content: Creating your own content to promote your brand
    3. Earned content: Winning online product reviews and social media buzz
    4. Shared content: Natural brand mentions, like people sharing your stories by word of mouth

Once consumers register your brand in their mind after repeated mentions in various micro-moments, they become ready to click “buy�—but first, they need a little nudge.

3. First Moment of Truth (FMOT): “I want to buy it but…�

Now comes the most sensitive moment.

First coined by Procter & Gamble, the “First Moments of Truth� (or “FMOT�) are the 3-7 seconds after the shopper has become convinced by the brand’s product or service. This is when brands have the best chance to convert searchers into buyers by bewitching their senses, values, and emotions.

Generally, these moments involve the customer reading a description or hearing a pitch to understand better how the product serves their needs.

Consider this: Dao Labs is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) creator brand for a Westernized audience. They wanted to make their medicine feel approachable, credible, and necessary for a balanced lifestyle.

The problem was when visitors arrived at their product page; they didn’t feel familiar with TCM. So, the brand started telling large stories wrapped in history, usage, and benefits clearly.

As a result, they built a product page that appealed to human emotions, values, and everyday health issues.

A good presentation with a little list of how your product will fulfill the user’s needs is all you will need to turn visitors into buyers. On top of that, allowing users to zoom in and showing multiple angles will increase their likelihood of clicking the “buy� button.

Once they click “buy� and finish the payment, this is where retailers typically drop the ball.

Your real journey to create strong bonds begins when customers purchase your product and reach the moment of the gap.

4. Actual Moment of Truth (AMOT): “When will my product arrive?�

Once consumers buy a product, brands lose control over the process (except for keeping customers informed). More importantly, no one looks after the emotions that customers go through when purchasing the product and when they receive it.

The time period can be as short as immediate product delivery, like an online subscription, or a few days’ deliveries for a physical product.

Amit Sharma, Founder and CEO of Narvar, call this gap the “Actual Moment of Truth� (or “AMOT�). This is where you have an opportunity to do more than send a shipping confirmation email. The actual moment of truth is where you have an opportunity to tell the customer that they made the best decision by choosing you over others.

Let’s take an example of cold cream to understand how to keep users entertained during the AMOT.

Let’s say a customer buys cold cream online from a brand. Along with the shipment details, the brand can offer suggestions on when to use the cream and how many times it should be applied. Maybe the brand can go even further by sharing tips on protecting their skin against chilly weather.

Regardless of your business, there are always Actual Moments of Truth that occur while the customer waits for the product to arrive. Find them and use them as an opportunity to deliver a more positive experience.

After customers receive your product and are enjoying the tips you have sent them during the AMOT, they will move towards a resulting experience. It is at this point when your product is expected to support your pre-purchase promises.

5. Second Moment of Truth (SMOT): “Let’s Use the product.�

When customers receive the product and start using it, it has a major impact on their satisfaction level. Hands-on product experience directly affects the reputation of a brand, as well as its audience reach. This is when customers subconsciously start thinking about whether they would like to continue a relationship with the brand or not.

Procter & Gamble coined this moment as the “Second Moment of Truth� (or “SMOT�), which is when customers start using the product.

Many marketers’ challenge is to ensure an excellent experience when everything depends on the product’s usage.

Why do you need content marketing?

  1. To provide targeted information to help customers use their products.
  2. To offer toll-free numbers to solve their issues instantly, for free.
  3. To help them return or fix the product as soon as possible.
  4. To send them how-to videos and user guides.
  5. To be accessible instantly to answer their questions.

By doing so, brands will potentially convert a one-time buyer into a fan. Even if your product fails to meet their expectations, you can always promise to live up to the next time.

When customers finish experiencing your product from the inside-out, they will mark the occasion by sharing their experience with friends, family, and online communities.

6. Ultimate Moment of Truth (UMOT): “Hey, I bought this product, and it’s…�

The instant customers get familiar with your product; they will run to their friends and online networks to share their experience with others. The intention behind this is their need for self-expression and their desire to notify others.

Procter & Gamble termed this as the“Ultimate Moment of Truth� (or “UMOT�). This is why customers provide feedback on products in multiple formats, like sharing with friends or colleagues, posting Google reviews and Facebook reviews, uploading YouTube videos, etc.

Shared experiences are like a snowball. Once it starts rolling down a long, snowy hill, it collects more snow on the way and turns into a big ball that can make or break your brand. The more people share experiences with others, the more people become aware of your brand. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on the feedback that is shared.

These reviews will become discoverable and influential enough on search networks to beat all your SEO and branding strategies.

Sure, you don’t have control over how customers will experience your product and share their opinions about it online. But you can respond to them better and align their experience with their expectations.

The question is: How?

Let’s take a look at these foolproof steps to optimize the Ultimate Moment of Truth.

Step 1: Collects insights on customer experience.

Collect customer feedback from all places possible. You can use tools that offer brand mention services to inquire about places where people share their brand experiences. Keep track of customer call feedback and complaints to obtain a deeper understanding of the customer experience.

Step 2: Get a team involved

Decentralize your feedback efforts by allocating team members to take care of positive or negative feedback. This can include apologizing for defects and promising to exchange or refund the product, or thank you for an impressive review.

Step 3: Keep tabs on opportunities

Finally, instruct your team to stay focused on opportunities to take advantage of the ultimate Moments of Truth. No matter whether customers are too angry or unimpressed with your products to keep the relationship going, you can grab these opportunities to send offers that will make up for their disappointment or help them develop a good impression of your brand.

These optimized Ultimate Moments of Truth will complement the entire customer journey. Each shared experience, along with the brand’s response to them, will turn into a Zero Moment of Truth for each potential customer. In other words, the Ultimate Moment of Truth can be the Zero Moment of Truth for other customers who come online with lots of questions in mind.

And the cycle keeps going.

What you will realize is that moments of truth aren’t just moments. They are an experienced, fueled continuum.

Keep the flow going and come back to share your experience.

The post How to Use 6 Moments of Truth to Create a Strong Bond Between Customers and Your Brand appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories
automation Branding data integration lead generation Marketing marketing automaiton

How to Leverage Marketing Automation to Generate More Leads

leverage marketing automation

Whether it is a start-up or an established one, marketing teams of every business strive to generate more and more customers who genuinely show interest in your product or service. Generating these customers is known as lead generation, where through transparent means of communication, you develop long-term relationships with customers rather than chasing them randomly for one–time sales. Here is how to leverage marketing automation to generate more leads.

Your long-lasting customer relationships.

These long-lasting relationships with customers help you secure new leads, too, as they keep you updated on your strengths and weaknesses. Such honest feedback or results make you realize how you can improve your business opportunities and know honestly whether your current strategies are working or not. 

Although this does not mean that you stop engaging yourself in efforts to attract new customers, yet you should focus on gaining customer insights and gain extra information on whether your product or services are up-to-the-mark or not. Keeping them impressed will also ensure that they share their experience further with other people, which will ensure the generation of more leads.

What is Marketing Automation?

The process of lead generation is a tough one yet is necessary so that you do not waste further time on customers who do not care about your product or service and who will never become potential leads.

The process may look tedious initially but reaps immense profits in the long-run by converting these leads into your loyal customers. To avoid excess manual interference and reduce costs, businesses use various software that automates the process of lead generation. T

these digital marketing automation tools attract more leads, keep them engaged and updated with your products and services, and, ultimately, improve your leads’ quality and accelerate the sales targets of your business. 

Generate leads

Being one of the most widely used methods for lead generation, it becomes pertinent to understand the meaning of Marketing Automation before using it.

Search Salesforce gives a proper definition for Marketing Automation “the use of the software for automating the marketing processes like customer data integration, customer segmentation, and campaign management.

Using marketing automation helps make the processes much more efficient, which would otherwise be performed manually; it also makes newer processes possible. Marketing automation has lately become an integral component of CRM.�

Marketing Automation is not merely software but a method altogether.

Hence, it can be seen clearly that Marketing Automation is not merely software but a method altogether to make the manual efforts much easier, productive, and cost-efficient without any involvement of humans.

Research reports by various institutions like Hubspot confirm that using Marketing Automation increases sales up to 50 percent at almost 33 percent fewer costs. It provides a plethora of benefits to marketing initiatives, such as improve customer experience through better customer-business relations.

Marketing automation can improve efficiency through cost-effective methods, use of customer data available from various channels, increased number and better quality of leads who tend to stay loyal to your brand, better communication, and cooperation between marketing and sales teams in a business, etc. 

However, most companies face issues with gaining optimum benefits through Marketing Automation either due to poor market research or half-hearted efforts by businesses who do not realize its importance, eventually leading to many risks.

Here are a few tips on how to leverage Marketing Automation to generate more leads.

1. Prioritize quality over quantity

Marketing Automation tools generate a pool of data. However, it will be your responsibility to keep a check on the quality of content that you publish.

The aim should be to generate quality leads rather than a large number of leads. The quantity of leads proves to be fruitless when they do not buy your products or services. Therefore, you should ensure that your automation tools keep a check on your leads and determine their intentions before putting in extra efforts.

Your marketing and sales team should decide a criterion you can bifurcate between customers as to who are quality leads and who is not. 

2. Use rewards to entice customers

Your customers need to realize their importance in your business. This helps create better customer-business relations. Long-term growth needs to identify customers who are loyal to your business and offer them rewards or coupons. Such efforts on your part will improve your impression with customers and also build up your publicity. 

3. Focus on nurturing your customers

Your customer base offers you a plethora of opportunities to turn them into leads. It is much more feasible to nurture your customers into becoming leads rather than finding new ones.

Your current customer base has still made efforts to generate loyalty towards your product or service; therefore, if you keep them happy and content with your other services and constant communication, they will automatically turn into loyal leads.

You can segregate such customers and then guide your automation tools to send them tailored content as per their needs and demands. 

4. Use segmentation

Using lists or segments to differentiate between your target audience is one of the most common methods to be applied while using Marketing Automation. These lists help you segregate customers based on their intentions, demands, behavior, the products or services they acquire, geographic data, etc.

You can divide your customers as potential leads, existing prospects, or existing customers. This will help you take tailored steps towards such customers to coax them into becoming leads.

5. Use Lead Scoring

This is another viable method that is used by many to leverage automation software. Lead scoring is the method by which you can assign a particular value to a customer, depending on their likelihood of converting into a lead.

This is highly important as it will determine which customers are ready to be passed on to the sales team. Lead scoring is essential since it will help prevent you from wasting your time and efforts on people who do not intend to become prospective customers.

Top Marketing Automation Tools

Marketing Automation Tools help serve the purpose of leveraging automation to a greater extent. So, here are a few of the top marketing automation tools that help in lead generation:

1. HubSpot

One of the most widely used automation software by businesses to enhance their lead generation is HubSpot. This software is a boon that allows you to track your customers’ behavior through their social media, emails, etc. It generates tools like email marketing, calls to action, social media marketing, etc. which are automated.

A major advantage of this software is that it gives you a plethora of other marketing methods like live chats, pop-ups, email follow-ups, website forms, etc. The HubSpot CRM feature permits you to keep a check on how your leads are behaving towards your strategies, how active they are on your website, and the degree of their interaction.

It is an integrated platform where you can easily combine your data and growth statistics to produce better results. Hubspot also comes with an easy-to-use visual platform, making it easier for customers to adapt to this software.

From blogging, emails’, landing pages to social media, calls-to-action, and ads, Hubspot ensures to leverage your number of leads through its marketing automation techniques.

2. Mailchimp

This software tool helps build email campaigns for your prospective leads with the appropriate content and look to attract their attention. This assists in the creation of landing pages to produce leads with adopt-in boxes.

The forms generated from this software can be customized to collect relevant data from the leads. Discount offers, tests, toolkits, coupons, etc. through this software are major reasons businesses prefer Mailchimp over the other tools in the market. 

3. Drip

Through its finest technology, this automation tool will assist you in segregating your lists into segments depending on the products or services that your customers enlisted for. This will help you further by sending personalized and relevant content to each of them. Its program called Drip NetSuite Integration provides you with ideas about your potential leads want or need.

Through their buying patterns, browsing history, etc. you can easily determine the field of content they would get attracted to, which you can deliver via emails, social media platforms, blogs, etc. 

4. Zendesk

Another widely used operation tool, Zendesk, focuses on handling your customer support conversations, which prove to be highly useful to generate leads. These conversations with customers via emails, phones, or messaging will help you understand your customers’ needs and complaints, and they can spark the probability of sales too.

This tool works in close coordination with your support and sales team. Their feature, known as Zendesk Sell allows instant information to be passed on to your sales team as soon as a lead shows interest.

5. Nimble

This digital marketing (linkopr dotcom), automation tool is another way you can effectively improve customer-business relationships. This particular tool uses CRM software to help build relationships and improve social interaction.

The Nimble marketing automation software uses social data of customers like birthdays, anniversaries, job changes, future goals, etc. and then successfully reach out to them on such special occasions through personalized messages.

Such insights into your customers’ lives help you understand the algorithm as to when to reach out to prospective customers and how to reach out to them. You can easily integrate Nimble with other digital marketing automation tools to access emails and other contact information via other websites. 

Conclusion

Marketing is not an easy job, yet it remains one of the essential parts of a business. Marketing automation is just one of how this tough job can be made a tad bit easier.

Proper lead generation can make your business grow excessively well. With the dawn of technology, where most businesses have started using even artificial intelligence to improve their work, marketing automation is a boon.

The number of possibilities has increased ten-fold with such marketing automation software. However, it depends entirely on how and up to what extent they are willing to use this technology for their benefit.

The post How to Leverage Marketing Automation to Generate More Leads appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories
Branding Marketing SEO Visual Search

How Visual Search Impacts SEO

visual impacts seo

Every time you use your Google Lens camera to find an unknown object, you are conducting a visual search query. Whenever you upload an image and use Google’s Reverse Images to find similar content — yep, that’s visual search.

If you use a style match app to creep on fashion bloggers’ outfits, that is also a visual search. Parallel with voice search, visual search has been gaining momentum over the past few years. Here is how search works and how it may impact your SEO efforts.

Defining Visual Search

How many times has this happened to you? You know how an item looks like, but you do not know its name.

In the past, googling such items was complicated, as it involved the traditional image search. You needed to go to Google and try to describe the characteristics of the item you saw. Unsurprisingly, the results were often unsuccessful and imprecise.

Fortunately, with the rise of artificial intelligence, the way we perform visual search has changed. Unlike image searches that use text as a starting point, visual searches use real-life images. All users need to do is take a photo to identify locations, foods, animals, or clothing items to get instant results, without having to type anything.

How does Visual Search Work?

Visual search is powered by sophisticated AI technologies, such as neural networks, machine learning, and computer vision.

The mere name of the term “computer vision� is self-explanatory – those technologies help machines see images and, most importantly, understand them. Without machine learning technologies, computers would see visual content as a pile of random digits.

Types of Visual Search

There are three major visual search processes you should be familiar with.

Traditional Image Searches

Just like I have mentioned above, those are traditional image search queries. Namely, searchers use text-based queries and Google’s filters to find the right images.

Reverse Image Searches

In this case, an image is your starting point. You upload an image to find the same or similar content. This process is supported by content-based image retrieval (CBIR) that focuses on content similarity.

Using a Smartphone Camera to Search

That is one of the most innovative visual search methods. Namely, a user needs to take a photo of an item and the search engine will provide them with the desired information.

Now, once you take the photo, it goes through three phases – scanning, matching, and filtering.

The Benefits of Visual Search

The number of brands investing in visual search optimization is growing. According to some recent statistics, 35% of marketers are planning to optimize for visual search in 2020.

Now, your website may benefit visual search in multiple ways.

Appealing to Younger Generations

Statistics say that 62% of Millennials prefer visual searches over any other technologies.

To perform visual searches, users rely on social networks. Namely, 75% of Millennials and 60% of Gen Z customers use social networks to discover brands.

Moreover, almost 70% of them want to purchase products directly off the platform, without having to visit the website.

That is where Pinterest steps in. Pinterest has more than 600 million visual searches monthly, while its image-based ads drive an 8.5% conversion rate. Marketers are starting to see the potential of this social network. For example, in 2019, IKEA launched its first Pinterest-embedded catalog to improve shopping experiences.

Building Relationships with New Customers

Humans are visual beings. Quality images on your website will engage your visitors, boost brand awareness, and generate more emotional relationships. When created strategically, images can evoke customers’ emotions and inspire them to purchase faster and stay loyal to your brand.

Improving Conversions

Online users rely on apps like Pinterest Lens, StyleSnap, or Google Style Match to find outfit inspiration. Once they find the items they were looking for, they will be more likely to make a purchase faster. Your goal is to use images to build trust with customers and shorten their buyer cycle.

Keep in mind that online users cannot touch or feel your products. That is why you could use 360-degree images and 3D images to show your products.

Maximizing Revenue

Optimizing your website for visual search may also improve your bottom line. Gartner estimates that, by 2021, early adopters of voice and visual search could boost their revenue by 30%.

Optimizing a Website for Visual Searches

Now that you know what visual search is, show it works, and what benefits it brings to the table, let’s see how to optimize your website for it. Your goal is to help search engines understand your images so they can rank high for relevant search queries.

Write Clear Alt Tags

Alt tags are descriptive text pieces that show up if the image is not available to a website visitor for any reason. They play a major role in multiple scenarios. For example, if a user’s browser cannot load your image, alt text will describe it and make sure no information is lost. The same applies to visually impaired visitors that use screen readers. As screen readers do not understand images, they rely on alt tags. Above all, alt tags help Google understand what’s in the image so it can show it in related searches.

Precisely because of that, you need to keep your alt tags informative, natural, concise, and well-written. They should be optimized for both search engines and readers. Remember that Google’s algorithm updates prioritize user experiences over keyword-stuffed content. That is why you should insert keywords organically and make sure they align with the context.

Create Informative Filenames

Choosing the right filename for visuals is the foundation of image SEO. Similar to alt tags, image filenames tell Google what your image is about. Therefore, if you still use generic filenames, such as DSC5896.jpg, it is time to rethink your strategy.

Keep your filenames easily understandable, descriptive, optimized for keywords, and unique to the image. Above all, keep them as informative as possible. For example, if the photo shows a winter morning in New York, then your image filename should be something like “new-york-winter-morning.jpg.�

Use Structured Data

Structured data provide search engines with as much information as possible about images. If Google understands what an image is about, it will be more likely to show it in its rich snippets.

In its Structured Data Guidelines, Google specifies that the image needs to be related to the category you specify. “For example, if you define the image property of schema.org/NewsArticle.image, the marked-up image must directly belong to that news article,� Google reminds us.

Most importantly, to show up in rich results, all image URLs need to be crawlable and indexable.

Add a Sitemap

A sitemap helps Google find the images faster. That is particularly important to images that load via JavaScript. An XML sitemap tells Google what images to crawl and index.

If you use WordPress or Yoast, images will be added to your sitemap automatically.

Choose the Right File Types

In the world of image SEO, there is no perfect image format. They depend on a type of image and its purpose. For example, JPEG is ideal for large photos and illustrations, as it keeps them sharp and clear. PNG allows you to maintain background transparency, while SVG is a great option for logos.

Optimize Image Sizes

Large images may affect your page load speed and, therefore, harm user experiences. Remember that users will not stay on a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

That is why you should resize images. Many tools may help you reduce image sizes without compromising their quality, including TinyPNG, CompressNow, Kraken.io, and Optimizilla.

Once you optimize images using these tools, it is time to test their performance. That is where tools like WebPageTest.org, Pingdom, or Google PageSpeed Insights may help you.

Keep Images Responsive

In the mobile-first era, optimizing images for both mobile and desktop devices is critical. To ensure images can load impeccably on all devices your visitors use, you should use the srcset attribute.

Srcset is a piece of HTML code that tells the browser what version of the image to load, based on the screen resolution of a user’s device.

Over to You

By optimizing images for visual search, you may boost your organic presence and drive more traffic to your website. Above all, well-optimized and unique visual content will help you build stronger relationships with customers, engage them, and inspire their loyalty in the long-run.

How do you use visual search to boost your online presence?

Image Credit: rawpixel

The post How Visual Search Impacts SEO appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories
brand value Branding

10 Proven Ways to Improve Your Brand Value in 2020

brand

Every business owner wants to create a buzz when they launch a product or service. Being a businessman, you and many others have been spending a lot on advertisements and digital marketing. The purpose behind all the efforts is to let the business grow and to attract more valuable customers. Here are ten proven ways to improve your brand value in 2020.

“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” –Walter Landor

This memorable statement pretty much sums up the importance of brand value.

You might not have seen anyone cover the success road over the night because it does not happen. All your consistent efforts and proper planning are what makes your brand in creating its value. Once you are into this, it becomes easier to handle.

Pro Tip: No matter you being the brand owner is working in creating the “brand value� or you have hired some expert for the job, one needs you to understand the depth of “What is brand value in real�

The expertise and tricks are helpful when you understand that each type of business in the market is different and required different needs. Creating the value of any brand is a great challenge, but here is what can be helpful for you.

Have You Ever Dig Into The Term “Brand Value?�

“Brand value is based on the financial status of how much a brand is worth as stated on the balance sheet.â€� Whereas “Brand equity is the perception of consumers and how they feel about the brand.”

When you are aiming to build your brand value, you need brand equity. You cannot have one without the other. The more people believe in it the higher goes the value.

For instance, well-known brands such as “Pampers” have spent millions and years to market their brand. Brand equity plays a vital role when it comes to revenues.

10 Tips That Can Help You Increase Your Brand Value

The following are ten tips to make your brand more visible and popular.

Understand Your Target Customers

No business has ever made great without understanding their target customers. Think deeply about the nature of the product of service. What problems does it solve? Who will be facing these problems? Present the solutions to the right people and your chances of success multiply.

Once you have understood who will be buying from you, it is easy to study the likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses of these people. Your existing customers will be very helpful as you can closely observe the patterns and make effective decisions based on them.

For instance, you sell disposable diapers for kids; you will have to pay attention to the concerns of the mothers.

Invest In Video Marketing

There are various channels of digital marketing. You should use each one of them but video marketing is a very powerful tool. It can significantly boost brand awareness and thus the brand value.

The tool has proven its worth for various successful brands. It gives the much-needed edge as you present what you are and what you do to millions of people via a video. Using the sharing channels, you can reach people all over the globe.

When you are planning to invest in video marketing, make sure the content is well thought out. The videos should be short, concise, meaningful, and straightforward. It should be promoting your message but not with an unnecessary emphasis on the advertisement.

3. Design A Smart Logo

Logos can be very powerful. Look at all the major brands in the market and study the logos. They are much more than colors and marks. They present the brand and imply a value. Most of them also have some hidden messages.

If you want to make a mark, keep some essential tactics in mind while designing the logo. The company logo should be simple and easy to remember. Simplicity is the motto here. Don’t overlook the element of distinction. It should have something to attract onlookers.

The best logos can give away the idea of your company’s function in a single glance. Always use the logo with your company name to keep it an indispensable part of your identity.

4. Get A Great Website

In this era of information technology, you cannot do well without a great website. It is a digital storefront that can be visited by people all over the world. It is the platform where you can provide all the necessary information about your business.

A lot of people search for products and services on their mobile devices before making a purchase. Make sure your brand is visible on the internet with a quality website.

Invest money in digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) to rank higher in the search results. It is very important to make a responsive design so the website can work well on different devices.

5. Advertise Your Brand Extensively

Advertising is the queen that runs a brand. Use all the possible platforms to advertise your brand. Either it is the print media or electronic, let the word out. Encourage people to talk about your business. You can use different tactics to attract customers to your door.

A very effective trick is to use promotional offers. Use the right words to create attractive advertisements. Recent researches probing into the power of words have found that the word “free” works wonders. Here is a handy list of the top 5 words to be used in the content creation for your brand.

  • You
  • New
  • Free
  • Instantly
  • Because

6. Maintain Quality

Brand equity depends on quality. Any compromises in the quality will have outcomes, you cannot avoid them. Sooner or later you will observe a decline in sales. It can risk your efforts done over the past years. A crack in your reputation can be very hard to mend.

Commit to your values and keep offering the best quality for consistent growth. Stick the words and practices used in advertisements. It is the ultimate thing to survive. A lot of brands fail because they do focus on advertisements but fail to provide the promised quality.

It is important to remember that slow and steady wins the race. Overspending on maintaining quality is always better than overspending on marketing.

7. Use The Power Of Social Media

We are living in an era of social media. Harness the power of this amazing tool to increase your brand value. It should be an imperative part of your marketing campaign. It is an effective tool because it is a two-way communication tool. It allows you to leave the sales pitch and communicate with your customers at a more comfortable level. There are amazing features in popular social media sites that let you engage with the customers. Post helpful videos. Write interesting articles.

Start a contest to make your followers a part of your marketing strategy. Connect with more and more communities to spread the word. Facebook even lets your target audience based on their demographics and preferences.

8. Keep The Prices Reasonable

Reasonable pricing can do wonders. It can help increase the brand value within a short span. The main rule is that pricing should go along with the quality of the product. If you are charging very high prices, make sure there is no compromise on quality. If you want to cater to the needs of budget customers, present your product with the best value. The prices should be according to the general market.

9. Listen To Your Customers

You should always have ears for what your customers say. Encourage them to leave feedback. If you have to offer some incentives, such as discounts, to leave reviews, don’t hesitate to do so. The reviews and feedbacks are imperative to your success. They tell you what is working well and what can be improved. The good reviews can also encourage your future customers.

Provide an email account to your customers where they can send their feedback. Set up an excellent customer care service to know what your customers have to say. They can be your advisors.

10. Focus On Unique Selling Points

If you want to stand out in the competition, the first step is to know the “why”. Carve out a campaign around your unique selling points. Tell your customers the answer to “why” to trust you instead of your competitors. Give your customers the reasons to come to you and you will not be disappointed by the outcomes.

The post 10 Proven Ways to Improve Your Brand Value in 2020 appeared first on ReadWrite.

Categories
Branding ecommerce Marketing Mobile Platforms Sales sales advice

5 Reasons Your Own Website is Killing Your Sales

website killing sales

More people than ever are shopping online. In 2019, e-commerce retail sales equated to 14.1% of global sales and by 2040, 95% of purchases are expected to come from e-commerce. Here are five reasons your own website is killing your sales.

Clearly, there’s never been a better time to sell online.

However, there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to actually making sales. Having a brand website is important, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll have a successful business.

Your website is potentially the first impression consumers have of your brand. It showcases your back story, your vision, and your overall product line. But, if your sales aren’t exactly setting the e-commerce industry on fire, it might be time to make a few changes.

Not getting as many sales as you’d hoped? Here are 5 reasons why your website may be having a negative impact.

Your website isn’t mobile responsive

61.51% of the world’s population own a mobile phone — that’s around 4.78 billion people. By 2021, purchases made via mobile are predicted to be worth $3.56 trillion.

With more consumers using their phone to research products, learn about businesses, and make purchases, your website needs to deliver it’s A-game, and deliver a great user experience.

Let’s say you’re interested in buying a set of golf clubs. You head to Google using your phone, find a store selling your perfect set, but the website doesn’t conform to mobile screens.

What are you going to do? My best bet is that you’re going to click off pretty sharpish.

To prevent losing potential customers, your website should be responsive to screen size, load quickly, and provide a good user experience.

How to fix:

  1. Shift to a responsive design, based on a fluid/stackable grid pattern. This will ensure your content resizes no matter what screen size is used.
  2. Consider image sizing in your CSS. Alternatively, if you’re using a different URL for mobile, upload smaller product images instead.
  3. Contemplate touch screen elements for tablet and smartphone devices.

Your website is too slow

Nobody likes to wait. In fact, 40% of people abandon a website if it takes 3 seconds or more to load.

It’s not only customers a slow website can have an impact on. According to a speed study by Google, your bounce rate declines for every second your website takes to load.

Did you know that slow web pages affect your search ranking and the cost per click of your Google ads? So, how can you win over customers and search engines by improving your site speed?

How to fix:

  1. Use fast hosting. Quick, reliable hosting is imperative for any e-commerce site, especially if you’re experiencing high traffic or transactions. Look at limitations on bandwidth and memory when you choose a host.
  2. Minimize HTTP requests. The more components a site has, like images and scripts, the more HTTP requests are made, making your website take longer to load.
  3. Combine your files. While CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files are important, minifying them to eliminate unnecessary code and whitespace will reduce their size to make your website faster.

Your SEO is lacking

Not getting many people visiting your store? Perhaps SEO is having an impact. Good SEO techniques put you further up in search engine results, sending more users to your website.

SEO can take time to implement so don’t expect changes to happen overnight. However, with the correct techniques, you may need to rely less on paid advertising.

How to fix:

  1. Be clever with keywords. Do your research to discover what potential customers are searching for. Remember, when implementing keywords into content, avoid stuffing them into text.
  2. Target local SEO. If you’re a small business, local SEO is essential. Use local keywords and sign up for a Google My Business account.
  3. Use on-page SEO techniques. Take advantage of optimizing meta titles and headings with keywords. Optimize your URLs with your most important keywords.

Your site isn’t secure

Making sure your website is secure increases trust and credibility as a reputable business. After all, you want your customers to keep coming back to you, and spread good reviews about you via word of mouth.

What can you do if your store is lacking the security it needs?

How to fix:

  1. Get an SSL certificate. An extended validation certificate (EV SSL) is the most effective type recommended for a high level of security, especially when you’re processing payments and obtaining sensitive data from customers. Make sure you monitor your certificate and not have it expire on you, letting your website exposed. You can use Sematext to track this for free.
  2. State your refund policy to enhance trust. A clear refund policy not only encourages users to trust your company, but it can also improve sales by increasing customer confidence in your brand.
  3. Display your contact information. You may not have a physical store, but customers still need to know how to contact you for inquiries or complaints. Make it easy for them by using a specific contact form, email address, or phone number.

Your site is hard to navigate

A visually pleasing design isn’t everything, but it does form the first impressions of your business and enhance user experience. It only takes 0.05 seconds for a user to decide if they’re going to stay on your website or not.

If you want people to stick around on your website long enough to browse your products or services, then you have to improve your user experience.

How to fix:

  1. Use clear navigation with a search bar. Avoid confusion by placing the most important links at the beginning and end of your navigation to make it easier for people to spot them. Organize your offerings in categories so users can easily find what they’re searching for.
  2. Use clear product images. Not only will you enhance trust, but you’ll increase conversions too!
  3. Optimize your landing page. Consider where users are coming from and tailor it to them. For instance, if you’re running a Facebook ad with a 20% off coupon, make sure your landing page mentions the discount. It’s also important to regularly test your landing page to improve conversions.

Improve your conversions by continually analyzing your website

If you’re struggling to make sales, don’t sit around waiting for things to change.

Getting your e-commerce website to where you want it to takes time. But, by using the correct methods, you can significantly increase sales.

Use our tips as a starting point and evaluate your website on a continual basis to keep making improvements along the way.

Image Credit: charles deluvio; unsplash

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How Can a Startup Compete with Big Companies

compete as startup

Entering the market flooded by well-known companies is quite a challenge. Yet, not for those who know the market rules and turn them into their advantage. If you’ve founded a startup and aren’t quite sure how to make a way among your renowned competitors, you’ve got to the right article. There’s something you can do. Let’s take a look at how startups can compete with big companies.

Create strong positioning

So why should customers choose your brand? Understand what you offer and who you offer it to. If you don’t see what is so special about you, believe me, your clients won’t see either.

What you really need is a precise and catching positioning. It can be challenging for a small company, but here are some practical tips to start with:

  • Study your clients. Make short interviews with your clients. Outline your Ideal Customer Profile. Here’s a simple guide to help you move with it. You need to understand what made them choose you over the big guy. Gather all the answers into one pool and outline your strong sides.
  • Learn your competitors. Conduct research of your 10-15 nearest competitors. Examine everything they offer: their services, USPs, clients’ reviews (don’t forget about negative ones, you can overrun them here). Think about your niche. It can be either wide or super narrow. Our reality creates new opportunities for new niches. You always can try to make the most of the situation. In the wake of Coronavirus, there are also new directions and niches to jump in. Just dig through some recent trends, statistics, or articles.
  • Word your USP. Having analyzed your competitors and clients, create a unique and most appealing product offer. It shouldn’t be written on 5 pages, rather short and precise.
  • Brainstorm ideas with your team ― there is no need to invent a bicycle again, just find a new way to ride it. If you feel that you need external expertise, outsource a marketing expert or business analyst to help you create a strong positioning.

Use great storytelling

When you compete with big brands, good storytelling is essential. Tell stories that impress, charm, and win your customers. Stand out with creativity and a nice brand story. Here’s some inspiration from startups that have done it:

  • Let’s look at the Dollar Shave Club ― a company that delivers razors and other personal grooming products to customers by mail. They’ve used the power of storytelling to create an ad that got over 26M views. The startup got more than 12,000 orders in the first 48 hours.
  • Another case is the Death Wish Coffee company. It uses great storytelling on its website to stand out in a very busy coffee business niche. Just imagine, how can a startup distinguish itself in the coffee industry? But they did it.
  • The Saddleback Leather Co. developed a great legend behind its brand with a 100-year warranty. Just look at their slogan ‘They fight for it when you are dead’. The company sells all sorts of leather goods, including a reusable toilet roll for $1,000,000.

Be convincing. You have to be 100% in love with what you’re doing to make others love it, too. Tell your story with passion, advertise your products with enthusiasm, be proud of what you offer. It’s not only important to attract customers but also to engage investors in supporting your business. Although there are tons of various “investor hunting” guides (fulcrum dot rocks) useful and explicit articles, communication is still the most effective instrument.

Go mobile

Everybody is going mobile. It’s a fact. Small companies need to adopt newer technologies faster than the big guys. So, catch the trends. Develop a fault-tolerant, smart, new mobile or a web app. Make it as fun and interactive as you can. Don’t overthink it but use the popularity of mobile apps for your benefit. Think through the features your app needs to impress the clients, calculate approximate costs, start developing it.

How can a startup compete with big companies through an app? Huh, in many ways. After all, it depends greatly on your niche. A really good app enables you to provide extraordinary customer service. It allows you to communicate with your clients and turn them into brand advocates. Finally, a popular app can always bring you additional money through advertising and cooperation models.

Your app shouldn’t be generic. You can add crazy filters, animations, Easter eggs ― anything to make yourself stand out from the staid and boring big companies who are too scared to be creative. It’s a win-win solution.

Be an underdog. It’s cool

We watch movies about underdogs all the time. Everyone roots for little guys. For instance, Rudy, Forest Gump, and the Karate Kid have had us digging deep for the unexpected hero, the one who punches above their weight. In the modern world, underdogs rule.

Thus, Harvard Business School even offers two key factors which help underdogs to win:

  • A position that looks like you’re at a disadvantage. As to the study, this seemingly disadvantaged position in the marketplace is critical for business growth ― people do want the underdog to succeed.
  • Showing your passion and determination. Being more determined than others about your goals, not giving up, and hitting obstacles along the way gives people hope and shows that success is still possible in a challenging environment. That’s why they are more likely to choose an underdog over a big player who had it all way easier.

What’s more, Harvard Business School has created a series of studies that have tested how effective an underdog biography can be for a business to increase purchase intention as well as brand loyalty. So, take a look and catch some inspiration from there.

Go extra mile

Offer your clients extra in everything you do: your product, your customer service, etc. When clients feel that you care about them, they will not just return to you, they will recommend you to others.

Here are some simple and quite obvious tips on how to compete with big brands through your service:

  • Always attend to your customers quickly. Set up a quick auto-response for the customers’ inquiries or make sure to hire a 24/7 customer support specialist.
  • Make regular audits to check the quality of your products and services. You can use the help of your already existing clients. Make a short query asking them what they like and don’t like about your startup. By this, you will do both: find out your gaps and show the customers that you care.
  • Meet and exceed your promises. Set up high-quality service standards and define your added values. Added Value means something extra to add to your product or service. Study what your clients have to say ― what is the thing they like the most.

Establish a strong Content Marketing strategy

Whatever online strategy you use, your Content Marketing is going to have an impact on every other part of your plan. It’s possibly one of the most important pillars of your Marketing.

Start building your strong content marketing strategy, make sure that you:

  • Use a well-planned SEO strategy to get high Google rankings for the customers you want. If your keywords are too competitive, try to use longer ones (LSI Keywords). Here’s a 9-step guide to help you with building the right SEO strategy.
  • Take advantage of the power of Google Ads to increase your audience. PPC (Pay per Click) campaigns are a good way to raise awareness about your startup as well as to attract potential customers.
  • Don’t underestimate social media. Nowadays it’s a good tool to promote your business. So, harness your social media marketing to engage more customers and develop your brand awareness.

Having good content marketing can be a relatively cheap way to market your brand, but it’s essential for startups because it’s a way to show off your expertise and become an authoritative voice in your industry. In general, digital marketing should not be underestimated before. Not it is becoming one of the strongest sides of your overall marketing strategy. To understand why so, make sure to read this brief yet informative piece.

Wrapping up

Competing with big brands isn’t an easy task, but it makes the game all the more interesting! After all, famous brands don’t have your creativity, your bold ideas and courage.

The success of your business is in your hands, not sitting in the clutches of your biggest competitors.

So, here’s just one more reminder of things you need to get done:

  • Work on strong positioning of your startup
  • Attract everyone’s attention with your storytelling
  • Invest in a fault-tolerant, mobile/web app
  • Go extra mile for your clients

My best advice for you is this: Don’t second guess. Don’t wait. Don’t be hesitant. Do it.

 

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