Social network is quickly turning into one of the significant elements of digital marketing that offers amazing advantages that assist to reach countless customers worldwide.Any entrepreneur who is not using this profitable platform will be losing out on a remarkable marketing chance. Social network makes it much easier for you to get the word out concerning your objective and your services or items.
Your clients are now communicating with other brand names on social networks and you will be losing out on financially rewarding chances if you cannot engage your customers through typical social platforms.
Here are 8 reasons social networks marketing is necessary for your service.
.Enhanced Brand Awareness.
Social media is a worry-free and lucrative digital marketing platform that can assist to improve the presence of your service. To obtain begun, you must develop social networks profiles for your business and begin connecting with customers. By utilizing different social networks techniques, you will substantially improve your brand name acknowledgment. It is necessary to have various social networks pages for your business and develop a broad audience with constant and routine posts. Entrepreneur can enhance their user experience and brand name exposure by investing a number of hours a week on their social networks marketing projects.
Social media marketing is rather cost-efficient compared with other marketing techniques. For practically all the social networking platforms, it is totally free to sign and produce an account up. If you choose to utilize paid marketing on social media, make sure that you constantly begin little. With social networks marketing being budget-friendly, you will absolutely get a greater roi and have a larger spending plan for all your other service and marketing costs. By investing a long time and loan, you can considerably improve your conversion rates and get a roi on the loan that you invested.
.More Inbound Traffic.
If you do not market your company on various social networks platforms, you will be restricting your incoming traffic. Undoubtedly, customers who recognize with your organisation are most likely looking for comparable keywords that you have actually ranked for. This suggests that if you do not utilize social networks in your marketing method, you will not connect to customers who utilize social networks. Every social networks profile that you contribute to your marketing mix will be an entrance to your site, and each piece of material you publish will be another chance to get a brand-new customer. You will be efficiently opening your service to a more comprehensive range of flexible customers from all over the world when you market your organisation on social media.
.Much Better Search Engine Rankings.
Even though publishing your brand name’’ s message on social networks will get your company traffic, to attain a considerable success you need to apply more effort. Seo is substantial for obtaining greater page rankings and getting more natural traffic to your company site. To rank much better through social networks, you need to develop exceptional quality material that will incorporate your targeted keywords. Material such as infographics, blog sites, worker images and company info will assist make your brand name’’ s social networks profile more interesting and reliable. You will begin developing a social media neighborhood where your fans can like and even share your material when you begin publishing quality material for your service. Social network will offer you lots of chances to be in front of market influencers who will supply link backs and blog about your company, and this will straight improve your online search engine rankings. This is why you need to buy the finest digital marketing projects for your company.
.Engage with Customers.
Social media is a terrific method of engaging and connecting with consumers. You will have more opportunities of conversion when you interact more with your audience. You need to guarantee that you develop a two-way interaction with your target audience so that you can quickly cater to their interests and dreams. Engaging and interacting with your consumers is one method of winning their attention and communicating your brand name message to them. With reliable social networks marketing, your brand name will have the ability to connect to a bigger audience and develop itself without much inconvenience.
.Enhances Brand Loyalty.
One significant goal of nearly every organisation is to establish a faithful consumer base. Brand name commitment and consumer complete satisfaction are vital to establishing a big social networks neighborhood for your service. This is why you have to engage with your target market routinely and establish a strong bond with them. Constantly keep in mind that social networks is not simply limited to presenting brand-new services and products or marketing projects. Consumers have the tendency to see these platforms as fantastic service channels where they can straight interact with the brand names they like. Millennials need interaction with their preferred brand names, and this is why companies have to carry out social networks marketing so that they can get the attention of the most prominent customers.
.Develop Brand Authority.
Communication with customers is exactly what will make your organisation more effective, construct brand name commitment, and boost consumer fulfillment. When customers see your service publishing on social networks, responding to their concerns and publishing initial material, this will develop a more favorable image on their minds. By communicating with your target customers regularly, it shows that you and your organisation appreciate your customers. You can permit them to promote your company for you when you get numerous pleased clients that are singing concerning their purchase experience.
.Much Better Customer Satisfaction.
Social media is an excellent interaction and networking platform. With the support of these platforms, you can produce a voice for your organisation which is important in enhancing the total picture of your brand name. When they get individualized reactions rather of a automatic or digital message, consumers will value your organisation more. It reveals that you are mindful to the requirements of your visitors and you intend to provide them the finest experience when you acknowledge every remark.
It lacks a doubt that social networks marketing has a number of benefits for both recognized brand names and start-ups. By frequently upgrading your social networks method on various platforms, it will assist to increase traffic, increase SEO, enhance brand name commitment, and make sure more client complete satisfaction. Your rivals are absolutely marketing on social networks every day, so you need to likewise sign up with the bandwagon prior to your rivals take your possible clients. The earlier you begin on social networks marketing, the much faster you will see considerable development in your company.
Generating and retaining customers is the lifeblood of every small business in the world. Which is why it’s no surprise that business owners find marketing the #1 biggest challenge.
We recently ran a survey with 304 business owners to uncover their biggest interests and challenges when running a business. Around 33% said marketing was their biggest challenge, money and time were close behind. Advertising was also on the list.
It’s clear that getting repeat business, retaining customers and generating new ones is a huge focus point for all business owners. The question is, how do you do marketing and advertising effectively? How do you attract new customers with a positive ROI?
Here, I’ll share nine of the most effective marketing strategies for small businesses. From search engine marketing to social media advertising, you’re about to get a ton of proven ideas to grow your business strategically.
1. A Website for Conversions, Not Fancy Design
When creating or optimizing a small business website, the design always seems to be the top priority. Indeed, many business owners fret over image sizes and shades of color. But what about its ability to attract new customers? Leading the website traffic down the right path to convert them into a customer seems to go out of the window in favor of design.
Yes, design is important. However, it should serve the function of the website — to generate new customers — not the other way around. So, what makes for a conversion-driven website? At the very least, your home page must include these elements:
Headline: What is the value proposition of your offering? What makes you different? The headline should grab the attention of the visitor and compel them to keep reading.
Calls-to-action: What do you want the visitor to do? Should they call you directly, fill out a form or buy from your website? Having a clear call-to-action will encourage visitors to take the next step in the relationship with you.
Benefit-driven copywriting: The content on your homepage (and product pages) must focus on the benefits that your product or service brings to the customer. It should talk about their challenges, not facts about your business. People care about how you can help them. Elements such as awards and years in business can help with trustworthiness, but should be secondary to what you do for your customers.
Social proof: Start collecting customer testimonials and wear them on your website like a badge of honor. You can also include reviews from third party sites (such as Google Reviews) and logos of any publications you’ve been featured in.
Contact information: Make your contact details easy to find. If you rely on telephone enquiries, ensure your phone number is in the header. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, make it easy for people to find you.
Visual content: The imagery you use should enforce what you’re offering. If you sell physical products, use imagery that illustrates them in use.
Bighorn Law prominently displays their phone number in the navigation bar. They also include a relevant clear headline and call-to-action relevant to the various locations they serve:
Whatever the action you want people to take, make sure you’re encouraging them take it!
2. Optimize for Local SEO
Once you have a conversion-driven website, it’s time to drive traffic. According to Search Engine Journal, 93% of online experiences start with a search engine. In other words, most of your customers will find you via Google.
Which is why it’s important you make it easy for prospects to find you in a sea of competitors. This means optimizing your website for SEO.
For small businesses, local SEO is the holy grail of digital marketing channels. Here are some components to keep in mind when running a local SEO campaign:
Optimize title and meta descriptions: These two elements dictate how you appear in the search engine. If you’re a plumber and operate in the Austin, Texas area, you’d want the keyword “plumber austin” to appear in your title and meta description.
Claim your Google My Business listing: By claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing, you increase your chances of exposure on the search engine. This means appearing in directories as well as Google Maps:
Generate Reviews: Not only does your average rating contribute to social proof, it can also help your ranking in the local search results. Encourage your customers to leave reviews whenever possible.
Ensure your NAP matches: The NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) on your website must match the one you include in your GMB listing.
By ensuring your free local listing is set up and fully optimized, you’re more likely to attract more clicks, leads and customers.
3. Create a Funnel that Nurtures
Not all visitors to your website will be ready to buy right away. Which is why it’s important you have a call-to-action at all stages of the funnel.
What are these funnel stages? Typically, they include:
Top-of-funnel (TOFU): These are people who are entering the awareness stage and are looking for a solution to their problem.
Middle-of-funnel (MOFU): At this stage, potential customers are researching specific products and services to fulfil their need.
Bottom-of-funnel (BOFU): The prospect is ready to buy. They’ll be choosing from a selection of vendors. It’s your job to make sure it’s you.
Generate TOFU leads by offering something of value in exchange for their details. This can include educational material (such as ebooks and whitepapers) or product-related offers (like discounts).
To attract these TOFU leads, create content that delivers value upfront. You’ll learn how to do this in #6. MOFU content, on the other hand, should talk about their specific problems and the different ways they can solve it (including your offering).
Finally, BOFU content should focus on getting the prospect to become a customer. This content might include competitor comparisons, spec sheets and pricing tables. With all this content in hand, you can use email marketing to capture lead information at each stage of the funnel and nurture them into customers.
4. Identify Local & Industry Influencers
Influencer marketing has become a practice of its own over the last 24 months. For those not in the know, influencer marketing is where brands partner with social media “influencers” who have access to sizable audiences in order to promote their products and services.
While it may appear to be reserved for bigger brands, the art of influencer marketing is widely available to small businesses thanks to the rise of micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers are those with a smaller yet niche audience of engaged followers. They don’t cost as much, meaning it’s an affordable option for small businesses. Not only that, but they tend to receive a higher level of engagement than “major” influencers.
Using Instagram as an example, search for accounts that share similar interests to your audience or those based in your target geo. For example, if you run a burger restaurant, you could search for your town name to find the top posts:
Then, look through the accounts associated with these top posts. Identify those with 20,000 to 100,000 followers, as these fit the “micro-influencer” criteria:
From here, engage with these micro-influencers to get on their radar. Do this by liking and commenting on their posts. Once you’ve done this a few times, send them a direct message (DM) to see if they’d be interested in working with you.
Offer freebies and in exchange for the exposure to their account. Work with them to create engaging content. Remember, Instagram is a social platform that thrives off high-quality and shareable photos. Make sure your content fits this criteria.
5. Optimize the Customer Experience
Customer service is no longer just about after-sales care. The entire relationship must be optimized to delight prospects, customers and advocates alike. This is known as customer experience, which encapsulates marketing, sales and customer support together into one cohesive strategy.
IKEA has one of the most recognizable customer experience strategies in the entire world. From the meatballs to the guided walkways where their furniture is setup, everything has been cleverly designed to delight the customer.
So, what makes a great customer experience? Some say it’s about “sweating the small things” and going the extra mile. But to do that your entire business needs to be working towards the same goal.
This means making every touch-point with your business a delightful one. From talking to sales reps to browsing your website. Here’s a quick process to coming up with a good customer experience strategy:
Step 1: Create a Vision
Great customer experience puts the customer first. How can you be different and more brilliant than the competition? Are you dissatisfied with the status-quo? Brainstorm with your employees and come up with a mission statement.
Step 2: Understand the Customer Journey
How do your customers make decisions and research solutions and new products? To uncover this insight, talk to them directly. Conduct in-depth research and create segments for each customer category.
Step 3: Collaborate
Remember, customer experience means bringing every part of your business together. Collaborate with all of your employees to come up with the best customer experience strategy possible. Enable and empower them to serve your customers as best they can.
Step 4: Execute
Start making it convenient for customers to buy from you, easy to reach you and personalize the entire experience for each of your customer segments.
Over time, you must measure the effectiveness of your customer experience strategy. You can do this by running customer satisfaction surveys to see how happy customers are with different areas of your business.
When done right, customer experience can become your biggest differentiator. Take the time to delight your customers in every corner of your business as possible.
6. Create Valuable & Entertaining Content
As mentioned earlier, not every prospect will be ready to buy from you right away. Which is why it’s important to build a relationship early by delivering value up front.
How? With content marketing.
Content marketing is the practice of creating entertaining or value-driven (how-to) content to capture a wider audience. For example, Ozone Coffee uses content to share stories and attract an audience of passionate customers who care about social responsibility:
Define your content strategy by talking to your customers and uncovering the topics they care about. These topics don’t need to be directly related to your product, but they should be relevant.
In the example from Ozone above, they provided a healthy baking recipe for their readers. It has nothing to do with their business aside from the fact that baked goods taste delicious alongside coffee, but either way they know it’s a subject their customers care about.
From there, create a schedule and stick to it. This could be once a week or even once a month. Whatever your cadence, make sure it’s consistent.
When you publish new content, promote it through your social platforms, email list and any other channels you’re active on. Ensure you’re attracting a wider audience by encouraging your followers and customers to share.
7. Test Facebook Ads
Paid media platforms like Facebook Ads can provide a wildly positive ROI when done right. For example, design service Design Pickle generated over $5,800 in monthly recurring revenue from their Facebook ads:
Not only can you hyper-target your exact ideal audience, but you can generate leads with a small budget before scaling up.
To cover the intricacies of Facebook Ads would take an entire guide in itself. Instead, I’ll cover some basic principles and offer an example so you can see them in action:
Strategy: What do you hope to achieve? Are you promoting your products or content? Who is your primary audience? Make sure you have a documented strategy first-and-foremost.
Objective: This is the first step when setting up your Facebook Ads. Objectives include brand awareness, traffic and lead generation. Select the objective that makes the most sense to your strategy.
Target Audience: This is where the real power of Facebook Ads lies. Define targeting variables such a geographical location, gender, age — all the way to psychographic elements like interests and behavior.
Budget: Set a daily budget, schedule when you want your ads to run and select an optimization method. For example, “link clicks” will optimize your budget spend for generating traffic to your website.
Ad Format: Your ad creative can be served in image, carousel or video formats. Make sure you have this ad creative in advance by following Facebook’s guidelines.
Monitor: Keep a close eye on your Facebook Ad campaign. Monitor elements such as cost-per-click (CPC) as well as on-page metrics like bounce rate and avg. time on site.
In the example below, pediatric dentist Route 32 use engaging imagery to capture attention quickly. They also use benefit-driven copy with a clear call-to-action, making it clear what they want their audience to do:
Imagery is the most important element to Facebook Ads. It’s what will stop your audience from scrolling through their news feed. Use vibrant colours and include small amounts of text that get to the crux of what you’re offering.
8. Create Native Social Media Content
Of course, you don’t have to pay to play in the world of social media. Indeed, you can create an organic audience of engaged followers just by creating content they care about.
The process and strategy varies from platform to platform. Here, I’ll share some great examples from other small businesses and how you can emulate them for your own success.
In the example below, 33 Aces Brewing use their Instagram account to let their branding shine through while creating engaging photography:
The overarching principle: create content that works in the context of each social platform. People prefer high-quality photography on Instagram, so make sure you give it to them.
Similarly, everyone loves a good Facebook contest, so find new ways to tap into this sharing behavior to expand your audience.
9. Don’t Neglect Partnerships
There are other small businesses in your marketplace who have access to your ideal customer. You can partner with these businesses to promote each other’s products and services.
Victoria Bennett, Partnership and Sponsorship Director at Barclays Personal and Corporate Banking, says it best:
“To tap into one another’s expertise, contacts and customers. A combined approach can be more powerful than flying solo when executed properly.”
Start by finding potential partners in your space. For example, a local music venue could partner with restaurants in the area to promote gigs in exchange for poster space inside the venue.
Events are another effective method of tapping into each others’ audiences. That same music venue could partner with restaurants to offer a variety of different foods for a weekend festival, tapping into each other’s audiences to spread the word.
Whoever you partner with, and however you do it, make sure it’s mutually beneficial. The partnership should work towards the goals of both businesses, no matter what they are.
How are you planning to grow your business this year and beyond? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
In this episode of Suite Spot, we concentrate on the rise of voice search in the hotel industry. Amber Wojcek, content manager at Travel Media Group, joins host Ryan Embree to study the impact of voice search in the industry and where it might be heading.
In the What’s News segment, Ryan speaks to several reports with some powerful statistics on the growing trend of voice search. The report shows the increase over time of voice and its projections for the future. In The Suite Spot, Ryan and Amber start by defining the difference between voice and traditional search. Next, Amber gives hoteliers tips on what they can do to optimize their websites for voice search and shares best practices on voice search traffic conversion. Ryan and Amber also predict what hoteliers can expect in the future of voice search in regards to reservations and guest experience.
In the Q&A segment, we answer a hotelier who questions if he should shift the majority of their focus and time from traditional desktop bookings to mobile bookings. As a reminder, to submit a question for future episodes, call or text 407-984-7455.
Our podcast is produced as an audio resource. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human editing and may contain errors. Before republishing quotes, we ask that you reference the audio.
Ryan Embree: Welcome to Suite Spot where hoteliers check in and we check out what’s trending and hotel marketing. I’m your host, Ryan Embree. Hello everyone and welcome to another exciting episode of the Suite Spot. I am your host, Ryan Embree, and today we are going to be talking about voice search, a very popular subject and trend in the hospitality industry. And we’re going to be reviewing some statistics. We’re going to be reviewing, how travelers are using voice search and we’re actually gonna go into the future of voice search. So let’s go ahead and jump right in. We’re going to go into our What’s News segment and for today’s What’s News segment. We’re going to be looking at two different reports that were published on think with Google. And in these reports they gave some pretty powerful statistics as far as what’s happening right now with voice search and the trends year over year.
Ryan Embree: So the first statistic that that is mentioned in this report has to do with the percentage of searches that are now done by voice and this report published that according to Google, 20 percent of all searches are now done by voice in 2018. That’s a pretty incredible stat. That’s one out of every five times that someone goes on Google, they’re actually searching via voice rather than typing. And this trend is gonna continue to grow according to these statistics. Another interesting fact that Google published was the popular phrase in “near me,” right? We’ve seen that very, very popular in the hospitality industry, the hotel industry when travelers are searching for “hotels near me,” near attractions.
Ryan Embree: But that phrase “near me” grew more than a hundred and 30 percent year over year. So travelers are now asking for more information about their location and what’s around them. Uh, so that is ultra critical for hotels to know when they’re looking to attract these travelers that are doing these searches. So not only are we going to be looking at the stats and voice search as it is today, but also we want to prepare our hoteliers for what voice search holds in the future. So in saying that, another article that we wanted to bring to your attention was actually an article published by Gartner Inc, which predicts that in 2020, 30 percent of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen, which is a pretty incredible stat when you think about that. So this is a fast growing technological trend that hoteliers need to be prepared for. So what better way to prepare for this then bring in our very own Amber Wojcek who has done some extensive research on voice search, she’s written some blog articles about the subject and in today’s Suite Spot we’re going to be interviewing her and talking about what this is all about and what the future holds for this growing trend. Hello Amber, thanks for joining me.
Amber Wojcek: Thanks for having me back.
Ryan Embree: Absolutely. Um, so let’s go ahead and get [started]. Just start off pretty simply. You know, what’s the difference when we talk about voice search and traditional search?
Amber Wojcek: Yeah. So if we’re going back to basics searches generally when you open a browser on your phone, your computer and you type something into Google or Bing or Yahoo and then Google gives you back what it thinks you’re looking for. So the only difference is on voice searches, you generally hit a button or use a voice command and then speak your search query instead of typing it. So some examples of that would be, you know, your Siri on Apple products or Cortana if you use a Microsoft computer all the way to Amazon Alexa and Google Home. So the voice commands that start that are, you know, if you say, “okay, Google” or “Alexa” or you can generally hold down a button and then it will activate your voice search on your device.
Ryan Embree: And as we kind of talked about it and the What’s News, this is a very big growing trend when it comes to how travelers are, you know, not only looking for hotels but just, you know, finding information in general.
Amber Wojcek: Yeah, definitely. And I think you’re going to see a growth with that that goes along with, uh, just how many devices are out there because once you get a phone that has this capability, it kind of trains you how to use it and you’ll just keep getting more comfortable asking more of it the longer you have them. So I think it’s definitely gonna keep growing.
Ryan Embree: I agree. And you know, I think I’m really glad we’re doing this topic because I think a lot of the times when, you know, you mentioned it right with Amazon and Alexa and Apple and Siri and even the Google Assistants, hoteliers have really only thought of that in one way as far as, you know, guests interacting with the hotel. So whether that be Alexas in the room and you know, asking for information or something from the hotel, like they need more towels or something like that. And we’ve seen these companies and you know, we’ve talked about even at HITECH, how, you know, this was a big push. But I think it’s really interesting to take a look at how travelers are using voice search to actually make their booking decisions. They’re looking for hotels and they’re looking for information to make a actual booking decision.
Amber Wojcek: Yeah. And I think what’s important when, when you look at this, uh, you know, kind of customer journey is there’s a lot of stops along the way between when someone decides they want to take a trip and when they book that hotel. Um, and I think voice search is still kind of in the middle of that when people are researching, Google calls it micromoments. So if you’re in a waiting room or something, you’re just Googling for a few minutes to try and figure out some details of your trip, but you’re not necessarily ready to make the big purchase decision. And that’s kind of where voice is right now. But we’re going to see if it’s gonna grow to be kind of the all encompassing way to search and make your buying decisions.
Ryan Embree: Absolutely. And, you know, it’s funny because hotels, his past, you know, decade have been doing such a big push to be up there on those desktop searches, right when people go and they say, you know, hotels near me or hotels near a particular city, they are doing everything that they can to be up at the top of that organic search on computers and on mobile. But now we’ve introduced a whole other platform. What this voice search. So what’s the most important thing hotel you should do to optimize that to make sure that they are coming up on these voice searches?
Amber Wojcek: Sure. So I think the best thing to remember right now – and this could change in the future – is you can assume that if someone’s doing a voice search, then they’re probably on a mobile device. Uh, people aren’t yet at the point where we can use Alexas and Google Homes to book. I’m sure they’re pushing for that in the future, but we’re just not there. Uh, so generally someone’s going to be on their phone or tablet. I’m not sure of how common it is to use your desktop voice search assistant. But we would usually assume that you’re on mobile, so what’s the most important thing is that your website is mobile friendly, that it resizes to fit the screen so people can read what you have on the page, look at your photos, and of course use your booking engine on any device. And then secondly, I think you want to really think about your SEO on that website. Generally, what’s really interesting is when you look at the actual search queries people are using, when you search on your phone and you’re typing, you’ll use much shorter sentences, you might say like “hotels in Charlotte,” but if you’re using voice search, people tend to talk to it like they’re talking to a person.
Amber Wojcek: So you might open up and say, “okay, Google, find me cheap hotels in Charlotte that are pet friendly.” So you really need to think about those, what we call long tail keywords and implementing them in your website, your content, and really writing about everything that your hotel offers to help you come up further in search results.
Ryan Embree: That’s a really great point, that language that travelers are going to be using on a computer versus, you know, maybe talking to a device so you know,. Let’s walk them through the process, right? That traveler does end up finding that hotel through web search or I’m sorry, voice search. How do you convert them?
Amber Wojcek: So honestly the best thing you can do is open up your own website on a mobile phone and see how it shows up. You need to remember that in website terms, we call something above the fold, just like in a newspaper. What’s on your screen before you start scrolling is above the fold. So you want your most important information up there. We’ll generally include a booking engine are you know, important, special, something like that. And then when you look at a phone, it’s vertical and your room above the fold is much smaller. So you want to make sure that people don’t have to scroll really, really far before they get to the information that they need. You want to make sure your navigation and your menu is set up so that they can get to it really easily. And just kind of make sure that on a phone it’s the best experience possible and it’s just as good as being on a desktop as far as getting people the information they need to feel comfortable booking and getting them to that booking engine.
Ryan Embree: So one thing that I’m hearing from you a lot in this conversation is mobile. Yes. Is there any research that tells us how, how many travelers are booking on mobile?
Amber Wojcek: Yeah, there definitely is. Some of it’s a few years old, so I’ve, we’re keeping our eyes out for if there’s any newer research from Google, but from some of the most research recent research I’ve found it said about a third of leisure and half of business travelers have booked their travel on mobile. Um, and it is also unclear how many started with voice or even ended with voice and got there. What is also really interesting is you’re looking at a much lower conversion rate though on mobile. So even though people are getting more comfortable booking on mobile, it’s still not everyone. Um, so if you are looking at travel websites in general, their conversion rate’s about two point four percent on desktop, on mobile, it drops to just point seven percent. So what we’re seeing is again, those micromoments where people are researching on their phone and then once they’ve made a choice, they’re still kind of switching to desktop to make that booking decision. Um, but I think we’re definitely gonna in the next few years see a lot more growth in that booking on mobile.
Ryan Embree: I think so too. And you know, that is my kind of leads into my next question is the future of some of this technology, especially voice search. I mean we talked about it and the, What’s News about, you know, where this is expected to grow in the next couple of years. So where do you think the future of voice search is headed in this industry?
Amber Wojcek: Yeah, so I think it is really interesting how Marriott, I think it was Marriott, right? That put it Alexas in every room – is coming. So the way that they’re securing it is it’s really more of a way where someone inputs their search query, they’ll ask, you know, their Alexa for more towels and that kind of sends a text to the front desk to fulfill that request. So it’s a very, like one in one out relationship, it’s not more complicated. Um, in the same way voice search is a much higher level, top of funnel way to search. And really when you think about it, it took us a long time to get comfortable with mobile. That half of business travelers are booking on mobile. For a long time, websites weren’t responsive, the font was too small, you’re worried you’d pick the wrong dates or your credit card wasn’t secure.
Amber Wojcek: Um, so that’s a lot of the reasons why people are still booking on desktop. And just in my own experience, I mean the voice assistants get it wrong a lot. Um, I mean every day at home I play a trivia game on my Alexa and I tried to play it today and it thought I wanted it to play a song and it started playing a song from my Spotify, which was bizarre and annoying and frustrating. So I can’t imagine that I would trust it even if I know the exact hotel name and city and dates, I don’t know [if] I would trust it right now to book me a hotel. Um, so we’re gonna have to keep an eye on kind of where the technology goes. Maybe now that they’re making the vocals or voice assistance with, you know, display screens where you could kind of double check what it’s doing. Um, but yeah, I think a lot of people are projecting by about 2020, which is really soon that people are gonna start being able to do these things and I think we’re going to see that companies like Amazon are investing a lot of money in being basically another OTA resource to compete with all of that. So, uh, unfortunately it’s a lot of, “We’ll see.” But I think it’s coming really soon.
Ryan Embree: and we’ve talked about this before. I mean, there’s definitely going to be some learning curve with some of this, with these, with these voice commands. Um, especially with, with integrating some of these voice commands within the hotel, there’s going to be some aspect of having to teach these travelers. What is, what is a command? What is a skill? Um, so I, I am right there with you. I think, you know, in a couple of years we’re gonna kind of see this blossom into what it potentially could do for hoteliers. Um, any final thoughts or closing thoughts about, you know, voice search?
Amber Wojcek: I mean I just think it’s a really fascinating section and I think it’s a good opportunity for hotels to kind of step up and optimize their websites. We saw when mobile did catch on as a way to book hotels, the OTAs, we’re kind of at the forefront of creating apps or better mobile websites and they took a lot of the market share. So now hotels are catching up a bit and I think that they have a big opportunity to kind of gain the trust back of travelers and mobile optimize their websites and get some direct bookings back.
Ryan Embree: Awesome. Awesome. Well we’re gonna go ahead and transition into our Q&A section here. Again, our Q&A segment is where we take questions from our listeners and hoteliers like you and answer them live on the air. So if you have a question about hotel digital marketing and you’re looking for some more information, we’d love to give you some insight on that question as a reminder, that phone number is 407-984-7455 again, 407-984-7455. And you can text or call that number. Okay. So for our Q&A segment today, we have a question that was texted in and they say, “I keep hearing the term mobile first. Should I forget about desktop and focus totally on mobile marketing?” So Amber, I’m going to pass this on to you.
Amber Wojcek: Yeah. So I think there’s actually a two pronged answer to this, one is, I mean, no, based on what we were just talking about, um, a lot of people are still really comfortable on desktop. Um, and there was actually some research that showed that 94 percent of travelers switch between devices while they book. So I’d assume that a lot are still coming to you from desktop. I think the second part of that is that there kind of isn’t a difference anymore between mobile and desktop. I think the New York Times actually just disabled their mobile.NewYorkTimes.com website because they are fully responsive now. Um, and you no longer can really have the mobile website in the desktop website. It’s all the same thing and you just need a good desktop website that also looks really good on mobile.
Ryan Embree: Right. And you know, with websites, responsiveness obviously is a huge factor. Um, it’s very, very critical, but also listing management, right? And making sure that your website is found on these listings.
Amber Wojcek: Yeah, definitely. So again, this will help both the desktop and mobile, so you don’t really need to think about it as two different things, you just want to make sure your business name and your address and your phone number are consistent anywhere you show up online. So whether it’s a Yelp listing or your website or TripAdvisor or Google or Facebook, that all of your contact information shows up the same way and that helps Google and search engines to know that you are the correct website when people are looking for you and that you’ll come up when people are looking for hotels near you.
Ryan Embree: And this also helps and facilitates with voice search, is that correct?
Amber Wojcek: Yeah, definitely because those listings are what feeds into something like Google maps or GPS system. So, [if] someone opens up their maps and just search searches for hotels. Then if your address is correct, you’ll show up and in one tap they’ll be able to call you and check your availability.
Ryan Embree: Yeah. And, you know, it is, is so frustrating to hear when, you know, with the investments that these hoteliers put in some of these websites to just have it kind of floating out there –
Amber Wojcek: Someone needs to be able to find you or else they won’t be staying with you.
Ryan Embree: Exactly. So, um, I think overall, yes, mobile is, is super critical. It’s going to, that trend’s going to continue. Um, but as of now, you know, people are still using desktops, uh, to, to book.
Amber Wojcek: Yeah. And I think you also need to think about your demographics as well. A lot of research about, you know, the big rises in mobile technology, it’s totally true. But you’ll see certain groups, maybe your millennial travelers are much more comfortable on mobile. Um, you know, if you have people staying at your hotel that are 55 and up, they’re probably gonna be more comfortable maybe searching on a desktop or calling and talking to a person there. So you want to make sure that they can, you know, find your phone number and get in touch with you.
Ryan Embree: Absolutely. Well very interesting stuff. I’m sure we’re going to have you back on, but I appreciate your time.
Amber Wojcek: Yeah, I’ll keep you posted on any changes.
Ryan Embree: Absolutely. So thank you so much, Amber.
Amber Wojcek: Thanks for having me.
Ryan Embree: Thank you all for listening today and have a fantastic rest of your day. To join our loyalty program, be sure to subscribe and give us a five star rating on iTunes. Suite Spot is produced by Travel Media Group, our editor is Anne Sandoval with cover art by Bary Gordon and content support by Amber Wojcek. I’m your host, Ryan Embree, and we hope you enjoyed your stay.
This cognitiveSEO Talks – On Search and Traffic episode brings to your attention a bunch of rare SEO tips and tricks and a frank all-SEO discussion with Andrea Pernici, a chief technology officer specialized in search engine marketing, design, and technical SEO, to mention just a few.
From web analytics to mobile marketing, HTML & CSS, Andrea has it all: great digital marketing skills, an excellent understanding of the SEO landscape and a highly business-oriented approach. Therefore, there is nothing to prevent you from listening to the talk below. We guarantee you a good shot of know-how and a rare SEO approach you’ll learn a lot from.
Andrea Pernici is the Co-Founder of Search On Media Group and CTO and Co-Founder of 3BMeteo and he’s been working in the SEO field since the year 2005. His field of expertise and experience are very wide, from web analytics to design, search marketing and technical matters like coding, programming.
Aside from being a great guy and a brilliant pro, you need to know that Andrea played handball in the first league and if he were to choose another field to work apart from SEO, he would love to be a children books writer.
The future digital marketing trends will probably be just “old stuff” with new names.
Andrea has a degree in Computer Science, he is also a teacher at various confs and, as himself confesses, he is sick for Web Performance, SEO, Web Marketing, CSS and he’s a Design lover. So, grab your pen and notebook, start listening to a great pro and enjoy a laid-back search marketing oriented discussion.
I faced difficult periods when you suggest [your clients] to be honest but they see the competitors are not being honest and they are ranking better than you
How the digital marketing trends will change in 2019
What is SEO really about
What are the most important aspects of SEO
GDPR (European Union General Data Protection Regulation) and SEO
Top OnPage and OffPage ranking factors that can help sites rank better
The biggest mistakes digital marketers and SEO pros are doing nowadays
How Google operates locally or in specific countries vs. how they operate globally
The set of skills any SEO professional should have
Top 10 Marketing Nuggets:
Google is very greedy of news articles, so it crawls a lot; if you reduce your response time even with a millisecond, you’ll increase your website’s capabilities. 6:29
Always try to use the free stuff Google offers and only with that you can obtain a lot of conversions. 9:23
The technical (SEO) is the foundation of everything you do. 11:35
Not always the search engine is the best place to find your customer. 13:41
The results of the GDPR action could be that the ranking would drop. 17:21
A future trend for sure will be the increase in progressive web mobile apps. 20:33
Developing lots of apps for lots of devices is often a waste of time. 21:06
An on-page optimization tip everyone should follow: check your robots.txt first. 25:57
You need to look at the SEO from a business perspective. Don’t concentrate on small things that cost money and have little impact. 32:33
The most important part is how you see the big picture. You may know the technical stuff, but if you don’t have the mindset to understand the things you need to do, you cannot be a great SEO. 45:36
What are some quick, low cost ways to generate fresh content and leads if you are a startup marketer with a lean team?
On this week’s episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, Parker Dewey VP of Marketing Michele Aymold shares what she’s focused on as she takes the reigns of marketing for this fast growing Chicago area startup. In her case, she’s applying lessons learned from her days running marketing for G2 Crowd and is using surveys to gather data on her audience and turn it into fresh content for the company while using lead nurturing funnels to keep Parker Dewey top of mind with survey respondents.
Listen to the podcast to hear Michele’s tips for using surveys to generate leads and hear more about the results she’s gotten with this technique.
Kathleen Booth (host): Welcome back to The Inbound Success Podcast. This is Kathleen Booth, and I’m your host. Today I’m excited to have with me Michelle Aymold, who is the VP of Marketing for Parker Dewey. Welcome, Michelle.
Michele: Hi. Thank you.
Kathleen: I’m interested to talk to you. Prior joining Parker Dewey, which I have heard described as a small start up in Chicago that is getting a lot of buzz, you were with G2 Crowd, which I think of as a large company just because G2 Crowd has been very visible to me in my career as a marketer.
Michele: That’s good. It means that I did a good job.
Kathleen: Well that’s what I was going to say. Obviously you did something right, because you know, maybe it wasn’t a very large company, but it was an established company that had an established marketing department. Certainly you grew it over time.
I want to start by having you tell our audience a little bit about yourself, but then I also want to hear a little bit about making that transition from a more established firm into a start up environment. Let’s just start there and see where it takes us.
Michele: I started my full-time marketing career back in 2007 just as I was finishing up a graduate degree. I think I thought I wanted to be a professor and that was a terrible idea. But I definitely worked hard through undergrad and grad school.
I’ve always just been really interested in how people make decisions. I think that knowledge that I was learning in school, it really led me to marketing because I think it helped me kind of get into a buyer’s shoes and think through the process so that I could build better campaigns to help them make those decisions.
I started working for the University of Illinois at Chicago and marketing some programs for them for non-traditional students. Found my way through tech and eventually found my way to G2 Crowd. That was a really awesome experience. I got to help grow the team. I love peer learning. I loved working there. The great part was, it was easy to get the customers to market for us.
Kathleen: Can you just state one word about what G2 Crowd is? In case somebody listening doesn’t know.
Michele: Yeah, totally. G2 Crowd is the largest business software review site, so anything, whether it’s an accounting tool, or a marketing automation tool. You can find reviews from real users on that site.
Kathleen: Yeah, it’s great. I know that when I am in conversations with prospective clients thinking of hiring impact, and I did the same in my prior agency, when they are trying to decide.
You know, we do a lot of work with HubSpot, and if they’re trying to decide, is HubSpot really worth it for me? We would always send them to G2 Crowd as like a nice, independent, third-party platform, where they could read reviews.
Kathleen: It’s super helpful for that kind of thing.
Michele: I think it makes you look smarter too, right? Like you can give your own opinion, but “hey, don’t listen to what I have to say, go ahead and read what others are saying as well.”
Kathleen: Yeah, exactly. So you were doing marketing at G2 Crowd, you did a great job, as we said, because you had me thinking it was a huge company. And then what made you make the move into the startup world? That’s just a very different environment.
Michele: I took a step back from building a big team to join in a little one, but I’m glad to hear there’s lots of buzz, and that means I’m working hard again and making it work.
Parker Dewey is super interesting to me and a passion of mine. What we’re doing is helping college students and recent graduates get that career experience they need for entry-level roles. We’re a freelance platform, and anything and everything that you can think about in intern or freelance or Dewey, we get the college students and recent grads to do it. They can add those skills to their resume, you get help, and then one thing that differentiates us is we’re not a recruitment firm, so if you’ve got a really great experience with someone, we encourage you to hire them. There’s no additional fee or anything, we just think of ourselves like the facilitators.
So, like I said, I mentioned that I started marketing at the University of Illinois at Chicago and just always been passionate about helping students sort of learn outside of the classroom.
Kathleen: You really did kind of come full circle and wind up back in that world of education. Even though it’s not technically an education company, there’s that link there. I think that’s kind of cool.
Michele: Absolutely. Yeah.
Kathleen: So, Parker Dewey. In my head I’m thinking of it like the Tinder of businesses and recent college grads.
Michele: Yeah, yeah.
Kathleen: What geographic area do you cover? Like, if I’m a company in Connecticut, can I use Parker Dewey?
Michele: Yes, please do. We’ve got students actually everywhere. It’s just US-based students for now. Who knows what the future will bring?
But again our goal really is to help anyone anywhere to get those students experience. A lot of the projects really lend themselves well to remote work. Like I’ve got a recent grad working on some social media for me this week. But then, because we’ve got networks or partnerships with the universities and colleges around the country. There could be someone that could come into your office and help you if needed too.
Kathleen: That’s great. I’m sure there are a lot of people listening who are now going to go out and look at your website and find solutions for all of the many things that they haven’t gotten done that they could’ve if they only had an eager young college grad to help.
Kathleen: I even have some things I might need.
Michele: Immediately when I heard about it, I was like “oh I have 20 things.”
Kathleen: Totally! Especially if you’re heading up a marketing team. I feel like I’m always drinking from a firehose.
So I’m curious, having gone through the experience, it sounded like you built the G2 Crowd marketing team from a very small team to what is becoming a much larger team.
As you come into Parker Dewey, it’s a smaller company with a smaller number of marketing resources. You obviously are going to have limited time and budget. Based on the experience you’ve had, what are you focusing on to produce results for Parker Dewey from and inbound marketing standpoint?
Michele: Yeah, so like I mentioned at G2 Crowd, I was lucky that I got the customers working for us, right? So once you got your first review at G2 Crowd, you are more likely to tell your other customers and your other prospects, “check this out, check this out.” So that was really helpful.
I’m actually starting to do something very similar here at Parker Dewey. Like I said, we’ve got this relationship with colleges and universities, and so as they start to have students and recent grads getting employed, getting this crucial experience, then they’re telling more of their students, “oh my gosh, you have to do this.” They’re also telling some of their business connections, whether that’s through the alumni network or what have you, “This is a great way that you can contact our students and get them working for you.”
So I’m big on getting everybody else to help me.
Michele: When you’re a small team, and you’ve got a limited budget, you rely on everyone else. So, that’s one thing that I’ve been working on.
Kathleen: How do you do that? Let’s actually dig into that a little bit deeper.
So you know that you want this virality, you want the colleges spreading the word, you want the students spreading the word, you want the businesses that hire them spreading the word.
Other than sitting back and hoping that that’s going to happen, how are you going about encouraging that behavior?
Michele: We all know from experience that there’s these pain points, but I think sometimes we feel, “It’s just me, I’m just overwhelmed, I’m just overworked, I’m just having trouble hiring my next hire.”
So what I’ve done at several companies I’ve worked through over the years, is work on the survey method. So, using the survey, getting people to answer some quick short questions about how they work and what their challenges are, and then turning that data into something that I can then present back to others.
My favorite example is actually just talking to someone like you and saying “Well we’ve helped other small businesses with this type of project, is that something that you need help with?”
And with that data, I mean I think it really helps to validate again, those paying points, and that there is a solution for you.
Kathleen: So, you put together a survey. Are you sending these surveys just to clients who have used your service already? Or are you sending it out to a broader audience?
Michele: No, to everyone. And actually so your audience probably was at INBOUND last year. For G2 Crowd we did something similar, just last year, at the INBOUND conference.
We were there asking questions about how people use reviews to make business decisions, how they trust them, if they trust them, what makes it trustworthy? And getting all that really valuable data that I can then turn around and turn into multiple pieces of content.
I’m a big fan of repurposing and I really just think, again, it all kind of goes back to that. We all sort of know we’ve got a problem, but when there’s a stat behind it, when there’s some data points behind it, it’s like oh yeah, it’s not just me, and I think that’s really reassuring.
Kathleen: Now, as a young firm that is still building its audience, how do you build a list for that survey? Like, if somebody’s listening and thinking “gosh I wanna try this,” I guess my first question is how do you determine who it should go to? And how do you build that list? But then the second really is also do you put in place any kind of incentives for people to actually respond?
Michele: Yeah, yeah, so couple different thoughts on that. First of all, I feel really lucky that Parker Dewey has a network already. Whether it’s through the Chicago entrepreneur scene, as well as through these colleges and universities that are just eager to partner with different innovative solutions to help their students transition from classroom to career.
So, I haven’t had to do much list-building yet, which is amazing. But back at other companies and back at other places, I think the thing is to cast sort of a broad net at first and have your survey respondents sort of filter themselves, so instead of just saying “I just want marketers to ask this,” but if you’ve got sort of connections in the network and a list, ask anybody to respond and have them identify their titles so that you could sort out and filter the data.
Michele: I definitely rely on my social networks and my in-person networks, and spreading the word that way.
And I think, again, what has seemed to have helped, you talked about rewards and incentives, a lot of times again, people just want that data to sort of understand how I measured up.
And so that’s always number one, before we even plunk down money for a prize or gift card, like let’s just see how many people will take it with the promise of the report in the end and we’ve been wildly successful to be perfectly honest.
Again, people just want this knowledge and want to learn from it.
Kathleen: Now do you have in your head when you send these surveys out, do you have like a certain minimum number of responses that you need so that you feel like the data you’re getting will be statistically significant?
Michele: Yeah, for sure. So when we just did our one last year — last fall with G2 Crowd — we got over 500. And our goal really at the time was 300 just for that particular project.
So getting more than 500 — we all felt really great about that and I have to thank the INBOUND attendees as well, because I think I hit up everybody.
But yeah, so it depends on your industry, obviously, and your niche. I don’t think anything under 100 is worth much. That said, I mean it’s easy for a marketer to say “hey I did a poll.”
I mean, I think it’s easy for a marketer to say, “Hey, I did a poll and here’s some responses I get.”
Kathleen: Smoke and mirrors, right?
Michele: Exactly. Yeah.
Kathleen: I guess my next question is really, do you have a personal feeling for how long you can make a survey and still expect people to respond, and do you set that expectation when you send it to them? Like, “this is five questions or this is two minutes.”
Michele: I think more about the time because every question’s sort of different. Sometimes you’ve got open ended ones in there that you really feel passionate about including and then maybe some ranking and things.
I also look back at the G2 crowd one we did last fall and think, “Oh, we really should have edited that more because I was really long winded.” We really could have rephrased it, but, again, when you’re running quickly to launch you kind of just get it out there and see what happens.
Michele: Like I said, I kind of try and pay attention to time. Time is money. Time is valuable and so I try and keep it under five minutes for the respondent.
Another good tip I learned, and I think it was from a graduate school class, so maybe it’s the only thing I took away, but all that demographic info at the end, people always want to put it up front to sort of try and self select it.
Like I said, sometimes you just need data and that’s the easiest thing. It’s okay if you skip it if you don’t get someone’s job title. You still got their responses. Or you don’t get their company sizes but you still get their responses. Just that little tip.
Kathleen: Thanks for the good feedback.
Michele: Its the least important when it comes down to what you’re actually going to use those results for.
Kathleen: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. What tool are you using for your surveys?
Michele: I’ve used everything. I’ll say right now with Parker Dewey we’re playing around with Typeform. I love just the interface. It’s just very nice and clear and I feel like it gently guides you from question to question. I can also think back to early days setting up a very custom form that really was a survey back in my email tool.
Kathleen: There’s a lot of tools out there, that’s for sure. When somebody responds on the survey that you’re doing, are you looking at that person as a lead and are you funneling them into some kind of nurturing sequence or is it really just for the data at this point?
Michele: I definitely am funneling them somewhere. Looking at those responses and keeping your survey relatively short will help you do a better job at that.
There’s the people who answer exactly what your gut feeling was and, yes, they have the pain. I’m definitely going to remind them, “Hey, we believe we’ve got a solution for this.”
There’s the other people on the other end that say, “No, I’m not having problems with that. That’s not an issue for me.” You can learn from them, get advice. Maybe they’re not an advocate because they don’t need your solution, but you can really learn a lot from them.
Turn their tips into content, help others get help.
Then there’s all those people in between that you can nurture and do great things with.
Kathleen: So you get these results, they come in, you funnel the respondents into the various pathways that you’ve established for nurturing. Talk me through what you do with those raw results and how that then gets turned into different pieces of content.
Michele: I usually start with just a big master report. Here’s everything we learned. We did that at G2 Crowd again last year and took the report and gave that to everyone who took the survey. We also made it available on the website and promoted it a lot at events and through the team’s emails and things. We gave it away for free.
There was no form fill to view this data. It was because we really felt the data justified what our goal was — to show people that yes, business buyers are using reviews to make these decisions.
We gave that away, which was great. We got the report to more than ten thousand people, which was awesome.
Michele: Then the easiest thing to do from there is quickly turn your report into a presentation. We had a webinar shortly thereafter and got people to register for that. We’re able to take some of the webinar content, turn it into small and bite sized videos.
Then again, the idea is to offer people more and more information about the different results. We had ended up with a lot of cool infographics and social images just from the couple of data points that we got.
Kathleen: Is all of that content and that repurposed content being published on your website or are you looking to seed it out in other places, like other websites or other blogs, et cetera?
Michele: Well, at G2 we just self publish. I think we had a pretty good blog following.
Here at Parker Dewey, as I’m getting ready to launch my next survey, my goal is really going to be to get some of the college and universities to pick it up because I think they’re going to help me build my audience the most because they’re already well known. They’ve already got great web traffic and domains.
Kathleen: They have those fabulous .edu backlinks.
Michele: Exactly. Anything I can share with them to get them sharing is definitely going to help me spread the message far and wide.
Kathleen: Great. When you think about doing that, are you creating beyond … Are you essentially doing their work for them and giving them promotional assets? How much do you give them?
Michele: Yes. Doing the work for them, and that’s because I’ve been in their shoes and I know that even when you’re at a large organization like that it’s almost the same as being at a small organization. There’s just always so many different things that you can do and so many different directions you’re pulled in.
I’m going to seed them up with some templates and some suggestions and let their team sort of take from there to brand it to their own University and culture and all that.
Kathleen: I do find that any time you want somebody else to promote your stuff for you, the easier you make it for them, the higher the likelihood that anything will happen.
Michele: Absolutely. Yes.
Kathleen: Have you already tested out the survey strategy at Parker Dewey or is this going to be your first time?
Michele: We did a quick poll. We only put three questions in and just sent it to a few prospects just to get their feedback and hopefully have some more intelligent conversations.
We haven’t launched a bigger survey yet. That’s the next step.
To your earlier question about who you send it to, Parker Dewey is a dual marketplace. We also have his connection with the colleges and Universities.
I’m playing around this time with, do I want to send something to everybody? I think I do. I think I’m going to get some interesting layers and interesting answers by designing one that a recent grad, an employee, or a University could answer.
Kathleen: Hmm. That will be interesting. You’re definitely going to have to take a lot of care in how you structure questions so that they can be relevant to those very different audiences, but …
Michele: For sure.
Kathleen: It’s going to be cool if you’re able to pull it off.
So you haven’t really seen concrete results from this yet at Parker Dewey, and I don’t know how much you can share about the results you had at G2 Crowd, but can you give us a sense about what sort of an impact this had, either on visits, traffic, leads, conversions, what have you?
Michele: At G2 Crowd, I know I asked someone to share with me the data so I know we got something like 289 people to attend that webinar and then those all went directly to sales to followup and continue the conversation.
Like I said, the report was free. There was no form fill, but at the end there was a call to action so we got a good percent, I want to say, two percent to continue on to the next action, which was really exciting.
I’ve also done this at other companies before. I was at Big Machines before Oracle acquired them. What we did with that was we took the data that we had pulled and actually turned it into an assessment, so we flipped it around and would invite companies to come understand where they were and how they lived in those different stages.
That actually ended up being our number one meeting booker. It just was a really great way, again, just people who feel pain and sort of just want to understand “Is everyone else like me?”
Kathleen: Yeah. That’s awesome. I’d love to hear about some of the other things that you’re planning with Parker Dewey and are these things based on stuff you’ve done elsewhere or are you coming up with some new ideas for the new company? Anything you can share on that front?
Michele: I just started an email series and it’s me, it’s really me.
I’m talking about the ways that I am relying on these college students to help me get work done and get it started. I wrote about my experience posting my social media job and it really only took five minutes to post. Here’s what I get as a result from this student.
I’m really just looking forward to being me this time around. I think because we’re young and small I can let myself shine and still think about the corporate image.
I also have experience building a team and working for small companies that grew fast. I’m excited about that.
Kathleen: When you think about doing an email series where the intent is really for you as an individual to shine through, what does that look like?
Email can manifest in so many different ways. From a design standpoint it can be very plain, html, and look like it just came from your Microsoft Outlook account or it can be super designed. You could have formal call to action buttons. I’m just wondering what your emails are going to be like and how do you translate your personality through?
Michele: I did a test. I tested one with a pretty banner and a button versus the plain text one and the results were close, but the plain text one got me more clicks. That’s what I’ll keep doing for now. I think I definitely want to add in some video down the line and some images and things, add them back in, but not so much in the html format.
Kathleen: It got you more click throughs on links in the email or opens?
Michele: Yes. Click throughs in the email.
Kathleen: Got it. Its really interesting. This is something that we’re talking about a lot here at IMPACT because there are a couple of other companies that have really doubled down on that plain html format.
It’s interesting. We have a lot of internal debate here on my team with some people saying that that can backfire sometimes because it makes it look like you’re trying to hoodwink your target into thinking it’s directly from you and it’s not a mass email, and other people saying, “No, it’s not about that. It’s just more about stripping away unnecessary stuff.” It’s such an interesting topic right now.
Michele: I think it really depends on the audience and your two examples, Drift, and Nicki at Flip My Funnel, and myself for this particular series that I’ve started, we’re all focused on marketers.
I’ll admit it too, when I see sort of a very beautiful email, it’s beautiful, but I might not start reading and taking the time to really click through it.
Michele: Maybe I’m a little more opposed to it. I think it’s always important to continue testing, whether it’s one audience or different audiences. Since I’ve worked really closely with HR industry in the past, and I would say the pretty button works better for them, and let’s probably think about it in reverse. They’re getting inundated with all these internal messages of “I need you to do this, I need you to do that”, and handling boring stuff, so to speak, through their inbox, so, a fun email makes a difference.
Kathleen: Yeah, and I always also wonder — the reason I was asking about whether you were referring to click through rates or open rates — I also wonder if sending a plain HTML email increases the likelihood that your email will go into the main inbox of the recipient as opposed to the promotions tab or something along those lines because you don’t have all that other stuff in it and Gmail maybe won’t see it so much as a big email blast. They’re no way to figure out if that’s true or not, but it’s something that I’m really curious about also.
Kathleen: I’ll be interested to see how it turns out.
Michele: In my test that I just ran, the graphic one got more opens, but the subject line was exactly the same, so, I don’t put too much stock in it, and I was specifically focused on the click through rate because that was what I wanted measure.
Kathleen: What platform are you using to measure your email performance?
Kathleen: You are? Okay. Did you do a true A/B test in HubSpot where it picks a winner or did you just split your list and send-
Michele: I split my list 50/50 because it was a smaller list.
Kathleen: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I think that’s what we were thinking about doing as well.
Kathleen: So, what else do you have in your bag of tricks?
Michele: A lot. I’m real excited about some of the play books that we ran at G2 Crowd and adopting them to this audience. Just some simple things like setting up some tweets that show off the success. We ran a really great, effective campaign. We called it the “Twitter Thought” but it was always someone behind the scenes loading it in and had an excellent social media specialist who wrote it all.
Michele: Then I’m hoping to do the same thing here and just again show off the success of the projects that are getting done on the platform and try and keep us front and center in people’s minds as they’re thinking about what they can get done.
Kathleen: Now, Twitter. That’s so interesting that that’s your example. I feel like that is the most polarizing social network of all.
Michele: It is.
Kathleen: I happen to be a huge fan.
Michele: Well maybe Facebook now, I don’t know.
Kathleen: Well, yes. That’s true. I happen to be a big fan of Twitter. I like it a lot, but I think that there are specific ways we need to use Twitter to get value out of it.
Kathleen: You have, and what’s interesting to me is that you have very different audiences. You have the universities, you have the businesses, and then you have the recent college grads. Which of those audiences are you going to target through Twitter, or is it all of them?
Michele: It’s all of them and it’s something that we actually discussed at G2 Crowd and did a little bit of testing on whether the value of having multiple Twitter handles and multiple channels versus just one brand of channel. We came to the conclusion at G2 Crowd — and I’m using sort of that experience here at Parker Dewey — that one is better.
Michele: I think a lot of that’s based on the fact that it’s moving really fast. People are going to follow hashtags and follow conversations that they’re interested in and tune out the rest that they’re not interested in.
I think, again, ultimately if you are that multifaceted platform, you should show that you’ve got multiple audiences that you’re engaging with on an ongoing basis.
Michele: We’re planning to do the same thing with Parker Dewey. We just had this discussion the other day, “Should we split it up into different channels”? I said, “No. Let’s learn from the past and save a step”.
Kathleen: Are you going to do the same thing for your other platforms too, like Facebook for example? Are you going to have one presence?
Michele: Yep. That’s easier for me right now.
Kathleen: Yeah, that’s for sure.
Michele: But, you know, again, it all depends on the targeting and the message. I trust that my audiences knows what’s for them and what’s not, and by the same token, if it’s not for them it’s also not harmful to learn about what those audiences are doing and learning.
Kathleen: I feel like I talk to a lot of companies that have that exact challenge.
In fact, we have a client right now that has that exact challenge that is serving extremely different audiences. They have a product/service that they sell where they’re basically connecting photographers with companies. They’ve been struggling with, “do we create a different presence for the photographers versus the companies”? It is a discussion that is had in many places.
Michele: Personally, I think if your company’s that facilitator then you need to be the expert in both those audiences. Again, having one unifying channel shows that expertise. I think you should definitely select targeted content for each, but-
Kathleen: Yeah. Well, there’s probably also something to be said for, like if I’m a college student and I’m looking for great opportunities, there’s something to be said for me going on to your social media presence and seeing that the amazing businesses that I might want to work for are already in your orbit, you know? The businesses seeing that there some great colleges and universities that are a part of your community. I think that there’s a legitimizer there you can capitalize on.
Michele: Absolutely. Yeah. For sure.
Kathleen: Cool. I always like having conversations like this where marketers have entered a new role and a couple of my guests have been like this because, it’s almost like you get a do over. Not that you need one. But you do — you get all the lessons of the past and you get to say, “Okay, I’m starting fresh. What am I goning to pull in with me?”
Kathleen: It’s neat to hear that those are the things you’re pulling in with you.
Michele: I’m excited. I love it. It was a hard choice to leave G2 Crowd. They’re doing amazing things, but as I said in the beginning, I’m passionate about this. I’m passionate about those topics, so I was really excited to join and everyday is a new adventure.
The other flip side of that is everything I do is going to have some results and that’s a fun place to be as well.
Kathleen: Yeah, and it’s interesting that you say that because I have this conversation a lot with different folks on my team, because we’re growing really quickly.
There are some people who are only happy in a very start up-y environment where they get to get their hands messy in a lot of different pots, and then there are some people who really like the larger company and having a very defined scope of work and set of responsibilities, and that’s okay.
You just have to know what’s going to get you jazzed everyday to get out of bed.
Michele: I’ve learned I’m gonna be stressed no matter what I’m doing. It’s my personality. I’m a problem solver so if there’s not problems, I find one and I solve it.
Kathleen: It would be boring if there no problems.
Well, I want to make sure we don’t end without me asking you the two questions that I love to ask my guests.
The first one — and I’m really curious to hear what you’re gonna say in this one because especially having come from a place like G2 Crowd and having seen so many different companies and how they go to market — company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?
Michele: So, you already mentioned her, but a big big shout out to Nikki Nixon from FlipmyFunnel. G2 Crowd was an early sponsor of that. As far as I know, it all started as a road trip for Terminus and how many of us have done a road trip before? But she and her team really built it into a community. I just think they did such a great job and were able to really help marketers learn to segment better and become more efficient.
Michele: Locally, there’s a company called Active Campaign, and they’re trying to do something very similar and they’re just using Meetup to organize all Chicago marketers. I’m missing it. I think it’s tonight or next week so I can’t go to the most recent one, but they’ve really hit the nail on the head of doing topics that are top of mind to marketers here in Chicago and I’m excited to see them branch that out to other cities as well.
Kathleen: Ooh, I’ll have to check out what they’re doing. Meetup is such a great resource that I think as marketers we overlook a lot.
Kathleen: But I know I used to have a lot of clients in the software space, like Dell resellers for example, and they got tons of results out of sponsoring different Meetups and things like that. So, there’s some little nuggets in there that are gold.
Kathleen: The other question is, with things changing so quickly in the world of digital marketing particularly, how do you stay up to date? How do you educate yourself?
Michele: The past three years that I was at G2 Crowd, for better or worse, I think I attended every single marketing conference at least once. I’ll say some of my favorites would be Content Marketing World I think is a really good one, B2B Marketing Forum for martech but only if you’re a nerd and I am a nerd because they really focus on numbers and oh yeah, there were even a couple of sessions that I was like, “Whoa, you’re getting real granular there”.
Kathleen: You mean like a data nerd? Somebody who wants to dig into the-
Michele: Yeah. I prefer face to face learning personally. At the same time, I’m always reading. I’m reading constantly, but there’s something about that face to face and you learn from someone but then you also have those great side conversations. You start getting your ideas flowing, you write it down, you email your coworker who’s still at their desk. I love it. I get a lot out of it.
Kathleen: You’re always reading. Do you have a favorite book or blog?
Michele: My inbox is so full all the time, I don’t actually know how I pick, just whatever subject line gets my attention.
Kathleen: Great. Well, this has been fun and I can’t wait to test out a survey. Now you’ve got me inspired to do that.
Michele: Not too long, but do it. Go for it.
Kathleen: Yeah, definitely. Well, thank you for joining me. If somebody has a question or wants to learn more about Parker Dewey, how can they find you online?
Michele: ParkerDewey.com. I’m testing out all kinds of stuff so they can actually probably chat with me depending what page they go to.
Kathleen: Perfect. That’s great. Well, thanks again, and if you are listening and you found value in this interview, I would appreciate it if you would consider giving the podcast a review on iTunes or Stitcher or whatever platform you listen on. If you know somebody doing kick ass inbound marketing work, please tweet me @WorkMommyWork because I would love to interview them.
Michele: Thank you. Bye.
Want to stay updated when the podcast is released?
Drop us your name and email address below and we’ll send you the show notes every Monday!
Sridhar Ramaswamy, the senior vice president who leads Google’s ad efforts, explained the rebrand at a press event this morning, where he said the company has been getting “consistent feedback” over the past few years that the plethora of ad products and brands — assembled largely through acquisitions — could make it be confusing for advertisers.
“This is a primarily a name change, but it is indicative of where we have been directing the product” for the past few years, Ramaswamy said. He also said the rebrand points to “where we want the product to go.”
Moving forward, Google’s ad products will be divided up into three major brands. First, what’s now known as AdWords will become Google Ads, which Ramaswamy said will serve as “the front door for advertisers to buy on all Google surfaces,” whether that’s search, display ads, YouTube videos, app ads in Google Play, location listings in Google Maps or elsewhere.
In this case, it’s not just a name change. Google is also launching something it calls Smart Campaigns, which will become the default mode for advertisers. It allows those advertisers to identify the actions (whether it’s phone calls, store visits or purchases) that they’re prioritizing, then Google Ads will use machine learning to optimize the images, text and targeting to drive more of those actions.
The second brand is the Google Marketing Platform, which combines DoubleClick Digital Marketing and Google Analytics 360, the company’s analytics tools for marketers. Under that umbrella, Google is also announcing a new product called Display & Video 360, which combines features from DoubleClick Bid Manager, Campaign Manager, Studio and Audience Center.
Managing Director for Platforms Dan Taylor said the Google Marketing Platform is responding to a growing need for collaboration — for example, he said Adidas used the platform to bring its brand and performance marketing teams together with the measurement team.
The Marketing Platform includes a new Integrations Center where marketers can view all the ways they can different ways they can connect their Google tools. (And while the focus here is on integration within Google’s platform, Taylor said the company remains committed to interoperability with outside ad exchanges and measurement providers.)
The third brand is Google Ad Manager, a platform that combines Google’s monetization tools for publishers, namely DoubleClick Ad Exchange and DoubleClick for Publishers. In this case, Jonathan Bellack, director of product management for publisher platforms, said there’s already been a “three-year journey” of merging the two products as the programmatic ad-buying becomes used across more types of advertising.
“These categories have just been breaking down for a while — all of our publishers already log into one user interface,” Bellack said. So the only thing that’s really changing is “the logo.”
One result of all this consolidation, and one that Ramaswamy described as “bittersweet,” is that the DoubleClick brand is going away. On the other hand, while they weren’t the focus of today’s announcement, the AdSense and Admob brands will continue.
The rebrand is expected to start rolling out in July. Ramaswamy and Taylor both emphasized that no product migration or training will be required.
“The look and feel is going to change a little bit, but the core functionality is not changing,” Taylor said.
MozCon is just around the corner, meaning it’s time to share one of our absolute favorite posts of the year: the semi-official MozCon Guide to Seattle!
For those of you following the yellow brick road of I-5 into the heart of the Emerald City to spend three days absorbing all the SEO insight you can hold, this should help you plan both how you spend your time at the conference and outside of it. For those watching on the sidelines, scroll along and you’ll find a treasure trove of fun Seattle ideas and resources for future cons or trips you might make to this fair city by the sea.
And if you’ve been waffling on whether or not to take the plunge (to attend the conference — I wouldn’t recommend plunging into the Puget Sound, it’s quite cold), there may still be time:
We’re now over 99% sold out, so act fast if you’ve got your heart set on MozCon 2018!
Official MozCon activities:
We know you’re here for a conference, but that’s only part of your day. After you’ve stuffed every inch of space in your brain with cutting-edge SEO insights, you’re going to want to give yourself a break — and that’s exactly why we’ve put together an assortment of events, activities, suggestions, and Seattle insider pro tips for how to fill your time outside of MozCon.
The MozCon kickoff party!
With day one behind you, we’re guessing you’ll be some mix of energized, inspired, and ready to relax just a bit. Celebrate the first day of MozCon at our Monday night kickoff party with a night of networking, custom cocktails, and good music at beautiful Block 41 in Belltown.
Meet with fellow marketers and the Mozzers that keep your SEO software shiny while you unwind after your first full day of conferencing. It’s our privilege and delight to bring our community together on this special night.
Our famously fun MozCon Bash
There ain’t no party like a MozCon party! We invite all MozCon attendees and Mozzers to join us on Wednesday night at the Garage Billiards in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. From karaoke to photobooth, from billiards to shuffleboard, and peppered liberally with snacks and libations, the Wednesday Night MozCon Bash is designed to celebrate the completion of three days of jam-packed learning. This is the industry party of the year — you won’t want to miss it!
Birds of a Feather lunch tables
In between bites of the most delicious lunch you’ll find in the conference circuit, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with your fellow community members around the professional topics that matter most to you. Each day there will be seven-plus tables with different topics and facilitators; find one with a sign noting the topic and join the conversation to share advice, learn new tips and tricks, and discover new friends with similar interests.
Monday, July 9th
Google Analytics & Tag Management hosted by Ruth Burr Reedy at UpBuild
Content-Driven Link Building hosted by Paddy Moogan at Aira
Mobile App Growth hosted by Emily Grossman at Skyscanner
Content Marketing hosted by Casie Gillette at KoMarketing
Local SEO hosted by Mike Ramsey at Nifty Marketing
Podcasting hosted by Heidi Noonan-Mejicanos at Moz
Workflow Optimization hosted by Juan Parra at Accelo
Tuesday, July 10th
SEO A/B Testing hosted by Will Critchlow at Distilled
Community Speaker Connection hosted by Sha Menz at Moz
PPC + SEO Integration hosted by Jonathon Emery at Distilled
Meet Your Help Team hosted by Kristina Keyser at Moz
Agency Collaboration hosted by Yosef Silver at Fusion Inbound
Site Speed hosted by Jono Alderson at Yoast
Featured Snippets hosted by Rob Bucci at STAT Search Analytics
Voice Search hosted by Dr. Pete Meyers at Moz
Wednesday, July 11th
Content Marketing Q&A hosted by Kane Jamison at Content Harmony
Paid Search Marketing for High-Cost Keywords hosted by Trenton Greener at the Apex Training
SEO A/B Testing hosted by Will Critchlow at Distilled
Team Hiring, Retention, & Growth hosted by Heather Physioc at VML
Local Search hosted by Darren Shaw at Whitespark
Machine Learning & Advanced SEO by Britney Muller at Moz
Reporting Q&A hosted by Dana DiTomaso at Kick Point
The delight is in the details
MozCon is literally brimming with things to do and ways to support our attendees when they need it. Aside from our hosted events and three days’ worth of talks, we’ve got things to fill in the cracks and make sure your MozCon experience is everything you’ve ever wanted from a conference.
Photobooth with Roger: Admit it — you see that cute, googly-eyed robot face and you just want to hug it forever. At MozCon, you can do just that — and memorialize the moment with a picture at the photobooth! Roger’s a busy bot, but his photobooth schedule will be posted so you can plan your hugs accordingly.
Ping pong play sesh: Don your sweat bands and knee-high socks and keep your paddle arm limber! During breaks, we’ll have ping pong tables available to burn some excess energy and invite a little casual competition.
The world map of MozCon: Ever play pin the tail on the donkey? Well, this is sort of like that, but the donkey is a world map and (thankfully) there’s no blindfold. You’ll place a pin from wherever in the world you traveled from. It’s amazing to see how far some folks come for the conference!
Local snacks galore: Starbucks, Piroshky Piroshky, Ellenos Yogurt, and Top Pot Donuts will happily make themselves acquainted with your tastebuds! Carefully chosen from local Seattle businesses, our snacks will definitely please your local taste pallet and, if past feedback is to be believed, possibly tempt you to move here.
Stay charged: Pining for power? Panicking at that battery level of 15% at 10am? Find our charging sofas to fuel up your mobile device.
MozCon is for everyone
We want marketers of all stripes to feel comfortable and supported at our conference. Being “for everyone” means we’re working hard to make MozCon more accessible in many different ways. The Washington State Convention Center is fully ADA compliant, as are our other networking event venues. But it’s important for us to get even better, and we welcome your feedback and ideas.
Here are a few of the ways we’ve worked to make MozCon a welcoming event for everyone:
A ramp on the stage
Live closed captioning of the main event
Walkways for traffic flow
Menus featuring options or special meals (that actually taste good) for dietary restrictions
A nursing room
Gender-neutral bathroom options
Lots of signage
T-shirts that fit different body types
Visible staff to help make everyone’s experience the best possible
A proud partnership with 50/50 Pledge, furthering our commitment to better representation of women on stage
Strict enforcement of our Code of Conduct and TAGFEE
Bespoke city exploration — Get to know Seattle!
In years past, Tuesday nights were reserved for our MozCon Ignite event, where brave folks from myriad backgrounds would share stories in lighting-fast Ignite-style talks of five minutes each — the only rule being it can’t be about marketing!
While MozCon Ignite has always been a much-loved and highly anticipated event, we’ve also listened closely to your feedback about wanting more time to network on your own, plan client dinners, go on outings with your team, and in general just catch your breath — without missing a thing. That’s why this year, we’re folding Ignite into the official MozCon schedule so everyone can benefit from the tales shared and enjoy a fun five-minute break between SEO talks.
Wondering about what topics will be covered at Ignite this year?:
The Ninja Kit to NOT Get Sick While Traveling by Dana Weber at Seer Interactive
My Everest: How 10 Years of Chasing Tornadoes Came Down to One Moment by Tom Romero at Uncommon Goods
Baseball Made Me a Better Engineer by Tom Layson at Moz
Trailblazer: How Reading One Book Changed My Life for Good by Lina Soliman at OSUWMC
Drag Queen Warlocks, Skateboarding Sorcerers, & Other Folks by Jay Ricciardi at Tableau
Voice Dialogue Therapy: Listening to the Voices Inside Your Head by Kayla Walker at Distilled
We’re opening up Tuesday night as your chance to explore the Emerald City. We’ll have a travel team onsite at the conference on Tuesday to help you and your friends plan an exciting Seattle adventure. Perhaps you’ve met a fantastic group of like-minded folks at a Birds of a Feather lunch table and would love to talk featured snippets over fresh fish n’ chips at the Pike Place Market. Maybe you’ve always wanted to catch the view at the top of the Space Needle (recently renovated and reopened to provide even better views!). Or perhaps a quiet sunset picnic overlooking the water at Gasworks Park seems like the perfect way to relax after a long day of learning and networking. Regardless of whatever floats your boat, we encourage you to plan local meetups, invite your newfound and long-standing friends, and forge a few irreplaceable Seattle memories.
Wondering what there is to do, drink, eat, and see in Seattle?
Well, who better to ask than us Seattleites? Using tons of real suggestions from real Mozzers, we’ve put together a Google Map you can use to guide your exploration outside the confines of the event venue — check it out below!
Seattle’s got more to offer than we can name — get out there and discover the renowned Emerald City quirks and quaintness we’re famous for!
Seattle’s got a pretty solid transit system that can get you where you need to go, whether you’re traveling by bus or train. The city also has its share of rideshare services, as well as taxis, bikes, ferries, and water taxis, depending on where you’re headed.
Public transportation King County Metro Trip Planner: Traverse the city by bus! You can also download an app to get real-time bus info (I like the One Bus Away app, developed here in Seattle by University of Washington grads) Light Rail: Connecting the north end to the south, the Light Rail can move you across Seattle quickly (and even drop you off right at SeaTac for your flight home!) Water taxis and ferries can float you right across the Sound (and offer a lovely view while they’re at it)
A Transit Go ticket or ORCA card will happily power your public transit excursions Bikeshare programs: As you wander the city, you may notice brightly colored bicycles patiently awaiting riders on the sidewalks. That rider could be you! If you’re feeling athletic, take advantage of the city’s bikeshare programs and see Seattle on two wheels.
Rideshares and taxis
Uber & Lyft can get you where you need to go Moovn is a Seattle startup rideshare company
Two taxi services, Seattle Yellow Cab and Orange Cab, allow for online booking via their apps (or you can call ‘em the old-fashioned way!)
Are you ready to rock MozCon?!
If you’re already MozCon-bound come this July, make sure to download the app (must be on mobile) and join our Facebook group to maximize your networking opportunities, get to know fellow attendees, and stay up-to-date on conference news and activities.
If you’re thinking about grabbing a ticket last-minute, we still have a few left:
And whether you’re going to be large, in charge, and live at the conference or just following along at home and eagerly waiting the video release, follow along with the #MozCon hashtag on Twitter to indulge in the juicy tidbits and takeaways attendees will undoubtedly share.
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!
Everybody makes mistakes, but some mistakes are worse than others. Some mistakes are almost deadly—to your marketing, at least.
The following seven mistakes are dire enough to make your marketing fail. But the good news is once you know how to spot them and avoid them, your marketing has a dramatically better chance of success.
So keep reading, apply what you learn here, and carry on. You’ve got a business to promote!
1. You’re underfunding your marketing
It is possible to do some marketing for free, but you’ll almost always pay in time, even if you don’t pay in money.
So how much money is enough? The Small Business Administration advises that “small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7 to 8% of their revenues to marketing,” but not nearly enough businesses are meeting that goal. In fact, 71% of small businesses are investing less than 7% in their marketing, according to our latest research. Forty-two percent of them—nearly half—invest 3% or less, including some who make no investment at all.
We all know the old adage, “It takes money to make money.” This is especially true for marketing.
So if you’re underfunding your marketing, don’t be surprised if it’s not working. Despite some talk about guerilla marketing or the very rare people who can make marketing work with slim to no resources, most of us have to treat it like everything else in our business: We have to fund it properly.
2. You’re trying to do it all yourself
Here’s an interesting stat: 54% of small businesses outsource graphic design and website design, but only 14% outsource marketing, public relations, and advertising.
It’s fine to do things in-house, of course. But if you pair this lack of outsourcing with the lack of funding for marketing as mentioned in the last point, it compounds a serious problem: Marketing doesn’t get enough attention.
The good news is you can outsource many simple marketing functions safely. For example, you could hire a virtual assistant to set up an email newsletter and send it out every week. Most VA’s are also good writers, so they can write some content for your newsletter, your website, and your social media accounts, too. Many VA’s are also good at paid search engine marketing, simple search engine optimization, and Facebook advertising.
A little strategic outsourcing might be an excellent way to finally get some marketing work done.
3. You haven’t learned the basics of modern marketing
While I encourage you to outsource as much of your marketing work as is feasible, I also want you to be a smart buyer—and to be a smart buyer, you need to know what you’re buying.
You don’t have to be an expert (that’s what we hire people for), but if you’re clueless about marketing, you’re less likely to hire the right expert. To use a metaphor, if you know utterly nothing about cars, you’re more likely to buy a lemon.
Fortunately, the solution to this is pretty easy: Get educated. And there are plenty of marketing education resources available. Start with best-selling books, then work down to reading the top one to two sites in each major marketing category.
4. You aren’t balancing consistency and variety enough
I see a lot of small business owners go from one extreme to another on this issue. Either they try every single marketing tactic that comes along, or they try too few tactics (like less than five), try them very briefly, and then give up.
You need to find a middle ground here; you simply cannot do every marketing tactic that’s out there. But at the same time, marketing is evolving rapidly, and you do need to test new things now and then.
This is why I like the approach Coca-Cola takes with its content: 70% is “low risk, not overly time consuming, and . . . pays the bills;” 20% is “new, innovative, and deeply engaging with specific audiences;” and 10% is “high-risk, high-reward.” While this 70/20/10 model applies to Coca-Cola’s content, it works for small business marketing, too.
So how do you apply this approach to your marketing? Start by picking two to three marketing tactics that consistently work for you. For example:
Having a great website
Sending weekly email newsletters
Investing in about 10 hours of social media marketing per week
These are your low-risk, “pay-the-bills” marketing bread and butter. Put 70% of your time and money into these projects.
Use the remaining 30% on more experimental things: 20% should go toward things that are a stretch, but a pretty safe stretch (e.g., getting a mobile app made for your business or creating a video series); the remaining 10% should go toward something really experimental (e.g., creating a chat bot for your business, launching a simple loyalty program, or partnering with a complementary, but not competitive, business).
An approach like this keeps your marketing profitable, but not inflexible. Things change, as you know, and so it’s smart to have a repertoire of effective marketing tactics.
5. You aren’t doing any marketing at all
The single biggest way to fail at marketing is to not try at all. Not too surprising, right? But incredibly, many small businesses are making this mistake. They aren’t doing any marketing: No digital marketing. No print marketing. No loyalty program. No direct mail. No . . . you name it.
Now, I know many owners would tell me that marketing doesn’t work for them. But clearly, they aren’t trying very hard. And marketing doesn’t have to be hard, either. You could start by simply making your business easy to find. Just having a presence on Google My Business and Yelp are ways to get started.
It’s hard to believe people like me are still saying this in 2018, but unfortunately, it still needs to be said: Nearly half of all small businesses still don’t have a website. In our own WASP “State of Small Business Report,” we found that 44% of small business owners still don’t have one for their business.
Your website doesn’t have to be a complicated, expensive thing. Even a one-page website with your hours, location/s, major products and services is a great start. Add in a section about your employees and your hiring needs if you want, or get even “fancier” and have a contact page.
And if you already have a website, take a look at the following graphic to see how your existing site compares:
7. Separate your business and personal social media accounts
Most small businesses are already doing social. That’s great, but they are also making a dangerous mistake; they aren’t separating their personal and business accounts.
Our survey of small business owners found that 37% of small businesses use designated business social media accounts to reach their audience. That’s great for them, but it means that 63%—nearly two thirds—don’t have a designated business account.
Think of this as just good housekeeping, if you want, but it’s important to separate business and personal on social media. Your customers don’t need to see your comments about a friend’s new baby, and they certainly don’t need to know your reactions to politics. It’s just too easy to fire off a Facebook post, or like a tweet without thinking things through. And it’s Murphy’s Law that just one dumb post could get you far more attention than you ever imagined.
So don’t risk alienating your customers. Create a business account for every social platform you’re active on. It’ll also make selling your business much easier, too.
Learn some quick and easy methods you can use to get a handle on your business’s churn rate.
You may not even realize you have a problem until your new customer acquisition flatlines, and suddenly it becomes obvious that your current customers are jumping ship at an alarming rate.
Now, I don’t want to scare you for no reason here. Your business is probably NOT about to have an unexpected heart attack.
But churn rate IS an important metric that you DO need to monitor over time. (Just like cholesterol.)
And when you understand how to measure and manipulate churn, you can use that data to do some really cool stuff.
In this post, you’ll learn some quick and easy methods you can use to get a handle on your business’s churn rate—without hiring an expensive data analyst and without spending hours mired in math problems.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know how to use easy “napkin math” to calculate vital business metrics like your churn rate, retention rate, average customer value, and more—data you can use to help you make smarter business decisions and improve customer retention rates.
Churn 101: The Basics of Customer Attrition
Let’s start with a really basic question: What is churn?
The most common way of describing churn looks like this:
Just in case this is a new idea, here’s the quick breakdown. Your business is the bucket. And that bucket has holes in it—small inefficiencies or friction points that result in a loss of water.
The water inside the bucket typically represents the people who are constituents of your company—your customers, leads, email subscribers, etc. But you can also think of the water as your current and potential revenue.
So, you’re constantly losing water over time through these holes. But, of course, you’re also adding new water to the bucket, too, by building your email list and acquiring new customers.
Churn, then, is how you measure the rate at which the water leaves the bucket.
Who Does Churn Affect?
Churn is a really big deal for companies with a subscription product—like SaaS companies and any sort of recurring service like gyms, memberships, and anything else that bills on a regular basis like Birchbox or Netflix.
But churn doesn’t just happen with recurring services. It affects every company in some way or another.
In fact, churn is a perfectly natural part of every business. Nobody who joins your email list will stay forever. Nobody who buys your membership product will stay a customer forever. You’re always going to have people coming in and people leaving.
The goal is not to reach 0% churn. After all, your product, your service, and your message are not always going to be relevant to everyone. And people evolve over time—sooner or later most people will reach a point where your message no longer applies to them the way it once did.
But that doesn’t mean you can ignore churn. Far from it! Because even though some churn is natural, too much churn can be a HUGE problem for your business.
“The Dreaded Plateau” (AKA The Danger of Too Much Churn)
First, it’s important to realize that churn is cumulative.
Warning: We’re going to venture out of the shallow waters of the “math pool” to discuss this, but it’s a key concept for understanding churn.
This is an unavoidable truth because as your membership gets bigger and bigger, churn will start taking out more and more of those people.
Let’s say you run a promotion and you get 100 new subscribers to your membership site. And over the next month, maybe 12 of them leave. Does that mean the other 88 will stay forever?
No, of course not.
Over time, more and more of those people will leave. Some will leave quickly, and others might stay for years. But eventually, all 100 of them will cancel.
Of course, you don’t just add 100 new customers and then stop working, do you?
You’re always working to acquire new customers, to put more water into the bucket.
But over time, more and more of that water starts leaking out—until you can’t get the bucket any fuller than it already is. I call this the point “the plateau.”
So, what is “the plateau”?
The plateau refers to the point in time when the number of customers added to your audience or membership is equal to the number leaving.
This is an unavoidable truth because as your membership gets bigger and bigger, churn will start taking out more and more of those people.
Let’s look at a simplified churn model. Pretend you’re starting a brand-new membership site. You manage to add 100 new subscribers every month, and your churn rate is 10%.
After the first month, you’ll have 90 members. (Because you added 100, and 10 of them churned.) After the second month, you’ll have 171. (You added 100, bringing you to 190, then lost 10% of that or 19.)
Let’s project this out and see how your site would progress over time:
Right away you can tell—if you look at the rightmost column—that your growth is slowing down. The first month, your net growth was 90 new members. After 12 months, it was only 28 (646 – 618).
And eventually, if your “new members added” and “churn rate” stay constant, you’ll reach a point where it levels off completely:
THAT is the plateau.
It’s where the number of new members each month equals the number of members who churned, which means you aren’t growing—you’re stagnant.
When you reach this point, the only way to continue growing your membership is to…
Add more members every month, and/or
Reduce your churn rate
The problem with strategy #1 is that acquiring new customers is expensive. Not only is it expensive, but eventually you’ll start to reach market saturation. That’s the point where you’ve reached the relevant lists in your niche, you’ve targeted all the relevant interests on Facebook, and essentially, you’ve acquired all the easy, low-cost customers available.
(In other words, what you’ll eventually find is that there is only so much water that can be added to the bucket, or that adding water gets way more expensive.)
Now take a breath. Don’t freak out. I know this sounds scary, but it’s not quite as bad as it might sound.
It might make you feel better if I told you that we hit this plateau at DigitalMarketer. And guess what? It wasn’t the end of the world. We figured it out. We kept moving.
But it wasn’t easy. Once you hit this plateau, it takes some pretty massive changes to continue growing.
So, can you see why churn is so important?
Why is this something you really need to keep an eye on?
But here’s some good news. When you understand churn, you’ll have the tools you need to tackle the plateau when you reach it—and in some cases, you might be able to avoid it altogether.
What’s a “Good” Churn Rate?
Anytime I start talking about churn, the question invariably arises:
What’s a good churn rate?
Unfortunately, that’s a hard question to answer. It certainly varies depending on industry, and there are confounding factors—for instance, if you’re measuring the churn rate for your email list, the frequency of your email sends will have a big impact on churn.
And because churn rate is such a vital metric for SaaS companies, they tend to be extremely tight-lipped about their churn statistics.
But in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Because when you are trying to grow your business, nobody else’s churn rate really matters; all that matters is your own. This is one part of your business where you aren’t really working against your competitors—you’re working against your past self, trying to improve your own performance.
So, don’t worry too much about industry standard churn rates. What’s really important is that you know what your own churn rate is, and try to improve on it over time.
3 Types of Churn
There are 3 main things that can churn in a business. They might not all apply to your business, but at least 1 of them definitely will. There 3 types of churn are:
There might be people in your SaaS program or people in your paid membership site.
This could also be clients—for instance, if you’re on retention as a consultant, any client who cancels your service could be thought of as churning.
You can also think about churn in terms of revenue, rather than in terms of customers. And this is useful because customer churn and revenue churn don’t always line up.
Maybe your customers have different values, and your higher-value customers have a different churn rate than your lower-value customers.
In situations like this, it makes sense to look at revenue churn in addition to customer churn.
This is a type of churn that people tend to forget about, but it’s a really important metric to look at.
How often do you experience churn among people who are subscribed to your email list? These are the people your company is having a conversation with. They aren’t necessarily customers, but they’re potential customers.
When to Measure Churn
Another question that comes up is: how often should you measure churn? Should you measure it every day, once a week, monthly, or every quarter? What’s the ideal frequency?
This is generally considered to be the sweet spot in terms of churn measurement.
If you measure churn too often—like every day—then you’re going to introduce too much variation into your data. Your measurements will be thrown off by little things. Maybe something breaks on your website one day. And that makes a couple people mad, leading to a few extra cancellations.
In the big picture, that little spike of cancellations isn’t that big of a deal. But if you measure churn too frequently, you’re going to stress out about those little spikes.
On the other hand, looking at churn every year or quarter is going too far in the other direction. You’re never going to be able to make smart, informed decisions—because you’re looking at too much data. And you aren’t looking at it frequently enough to make the changes you need to keep churn under control.
So, where does that leave us?
In short, for most companies, I recommend measuring your churn on a monthly basis. This is generally considered to be the sweet spot in terms of churn measurement.
It’s not too often (so little spikes won’t throw off your data). But it’s also frequent enough that you can spot any troublesome trends and take steps to correct any problems.
Depending on the nature of your membership, it might make sense to measure churn at different intervals. For instance, maybe you have a subscription product that only charges people once a year (like Amazon Prime).
If that’s the case, then it doesn’t make sense to measure churn monthly. Instead, you’ll want to measure churn yearly (or quarterly, or however often you charge your members).
My best rule of thumb is to measure churn based on the frequency of your rebills for customers and revenue, and once a month for subscribers.
(NOTE: Want to learn to use your company’s data to make smart, data-driven decisions? Become a Certified Data & Analytics Specialist and understand the health of your business at every stage. Learn more here.)
How to Measure Churn
OK, so we’ve been talking about churn for a while now. It’s probably time for me to tell you how to actually measure your business’s churn rate.
The equation looks like this:
This equation will tell you how many members churned out, compared to how many members you started with. When you finish this calculation, you’ll end with a percentage (so 0.28 is 28%).
The big thing people tend to forget is to subtract the “new members added.” But it’s really, REALLY important to subtract that out.
It’s a common mistake to say, “I had 100 members last month. This month I have 102. So clearly, churn isn’t a problem for me.”
At least…not necessarily.
Maybe you lost 33 members last month, but simply generated 35 new members. If that’s the case, then you actually have a churn rate of…
1 – (102-35) / 100 = 33%
In this scenario, you actually have a really high churn rate that you need to figure out. But you wouldn’t know that unless you did the math and calculated it.
So this is how you measure your churn rate. Just use this equation every month to figure out what percentage of your members churned.
How to Predict Future Churn
OK, now you know how to calculate churn that happened in the past. But how can you predict FUTURE churn?
There’s no 1 single answer to that question, but there are 3 common models you can use to predict churn. We’re going to discuss the merits and challenges of each, looking at how they predict the churn of a single cohort (a group that entered into your subscription or list at the same time—more on this after our models).
The Linear Churn Model
The first model of churn is a linear model:
In this model, you lose a certain number of members over time. And that number is constant.
So, if you start with 100 members, and your churn rate is 10%, that means you would lose 10 members every month. So, after 10 months, all 100 members would be gone.
Now the good news about the linear churn model is that it’s not very accurate. In the real world, churn does NOT typically happen this quickly.
So, let’s move to a slightly more complicated (and more realistic) model.
The Exponential Churn Model
Next, let’s take a look at the exponential churn model:
In this model, which is more accurate than the linear model, you lose a certain percentage of your members over time.
So, if your churn rate is 10%, and you start with 100 members in January, then you’ll lose 10 members the first month.
But in February, you start with 90 members—so instead of losing 10, you lose 9. That means you begin March with 81 members, so you’ll lose 8 members that month.
It’s a little more complicated, but it’s much more accurate and useful than the linear model. Using this model, if you started the year with 100 members you would end the year with 28 still subscribing to your service.
Now if you really want to get an accurate (but much more complex) prediction of your churn rate, you can use…
The Adjusted Exponential Churn Model
The last churn model is called the adjusted exponential churn model:
I won’t go into too much detail on the adjusted churn model, because frankly, it’s pretty complex, and there’s no quick and easy way to calculate this on your own.
It is probably the most accurate way to calculate churn. And as you can see, it’s less steep than the other models—this model would predict that you still have 46 members at the end of the year, compared to 0 for the linear model and 28 for the exponential model:
And if you look at all 3 models on one graph here, you can see that the adjusted exponential decay model eventually kind of levels out.
We call this line (the green one) “the retention curve”:
And this is how most churn really works. You have a certain percentage who churn out pretty quickly—probably a pretty big percentage. But the churn quickly levels off, and after that point, churn happens much more slowly.
Now if you’re really interested in calculating your churn based on the adjusted exponential churn model, you can learn more about that here. But we’re not going to do that in this post.
Because while this model is accurate, it’s not especially useful—for one thing, it requires you to make a ton of assumptions about the future of your business that may or may not be correct. The other problem is that this is really difficult and complicated to calculate, a huge barrier for most entrepreneurs and small businesses with limited time for analysis.
Instead, when you’re just getting started, I recommend using the Exponential Churn model. It will over-exaggerate your churn to an extent, but that’s OK. This doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be close enough to give you an idea of how many people are going to leave your membership or email list over time.
A Super-Quick Way to Calculate Future Retention Rates
If you want to look really smart the next time you’re talking about churn, break out this equation:
This is a simple equation you can use to project what percentage of your members or subscribers will still be around after a certain number of months. This equation uses the exponential churn model described above.
Let’s see it in action: pretend you have 200 members with a churn rate of 10%. And let’s say you want to figure out how many of those 200 members will still be around after a year (12 months).
Just plug those numbers into the equation (remember 10% = 0.1):
After a year, 28% of your members will still be around. If you started with 200 members, that means 56 of them will still be subscribed after a year (200 * 28% = 56).
How Do You Use Churn?
OK, so you’ve learned how to calculate past churn…and how to predict future churn.
So…what do you DO with that information? How do you actually USE it?
Here are a few helpful ideas:
A cohort is a group of people with something in common. And when you’re looking at churn, the “thing in common” is usually when those people joined your membership program.
And THIS is where churn gets fun!
So, you might take everyone who joined in January, and put them together in a cohort. Then you can measure their churn as a group—to help get a better idea of your average customer retention and value.
In other words, you use cohorts to figure out how long the average subscriber is going to stick around.
We watched this same group of members over time and found that after 8 months we still had about 42% as subscribers. (DigitalMarketer’s churn rate at the time was around 8%.)
We used this data to help figure out how long our members stick around…which we then used to calculate our average customer lifetime value and projected revenue.
And THIS is where churn gets fun!
(Also, keep in mind we didn’t just do this once. We did it maybe 20 times, with 20 different cohorts, to really get a good idea of our membership site retention rate.)
3 Useful Things You Can Do With This Data
Once you know your churn rate, there’s a lot you can do with that data. Here are 3 of the most useful:
1. Churn Allows You to Project Income Revenue
When you have an idea of your churn rate, you can start to accurately calculate how much revenue you’ll take in each month.
And if you do this at the beginning of January, for instance, you can get an idea of how much revenue you’ll make over the next 12 months—which is important information you can use to help guide your budgeting, spending, and marketing strategies over the next year.
You can also use this data to calculate the total value of an average subscriber.
Here’s an example of what this might look like. First, take your cohort analysis and add in how many charges occurred each month:
The “Total per Cycle” column refers to how many members left that month. So in the first month, 193 people left after paying only 1 time. In the 2nd month, 185 people left after paying twice.
And so on.
Multiply column 1 (# of charges) times column 3 (how many people paid that number of times) to get the total number of charges for that group.
When you’re done, add them all together, and you get 5,328—this is the total number of payments we processed for this cohort.
And if you divide that by the total number of members who started with us, you can calculate the average amount of time that the average person was a Lab member:
So, in this cohort, people stayed for an average of 5 months. Multiply that by the cost of membership and you get the average customer value.
And that’s REALLY useful information!
Because once you know what a subscriber is worth to your business, you know how much money you can afford to spend on acquiring new customers while still turning a profit.
2. Churn Allows You to Estimate How Many New Members Are Needed to Maintain and/or Grow Your Business
Now that you know how many members you’ll lose each month, and how much revenue that corresponds to, you can figure out how many NEW members you’ll need to acquire if you want to keep growing.
This is really helpful information you can use to help guide your marketing campaigns and avoid “the plateau” I described earlier.
3. Churn Allows You to Establish Performance Baselines, Putting You in a Better Position to Understand How New Strategies Affect Your Customer Retention Rates
Once you know how to calculate churn, you’ll be much better able to measure the impact of changes in your business.
For instance, maybe you made a change to improve your membership site; rather than simply saying, “We improved the interface,” now you’ll be able to say something much more specific and meaningful, like: “We improved churn by 3% and saved the company $3,000 per month.”
5 Churn Causes & Cures
Now you have the tools you need to measure and predict churn quickly. But, of course, you should always be trying to reduce your churn rates. So how do you do that? And what causes people to churn, anyway?
Well, here are 5 things that could be causing people to churn from your membership…and 5 things you can to help reduce that churn.
5 Possible Causes of Churn
Here are 5 of the most common causes of churn we’ve seen across our portfolio of businesses:
1. Consumption Completion
If your membership site offers a limited amount of content, then people are going to cancel once they finish your course.
If you find that this is a big cause of churn for your business, then there’s a simple fix: add more, great new content to your site!
2. Lack of Belief or Investment
If your members don’t believe your product or service will work—or if they’re not invested in using it—that can also cause them to leave your site.
It’s not enough for your product to work; your customers have to BELIEVE it will work.
3. Usability Friction
If your site is hard to use or navigate, that can also cause people to become frustrated and leave your site. If this is the case for your business, then the solution should be clear:
Get to work improving your site, pronto!
Some people will leave your site because the price is too high. They don’t believe the value of membership is worth the cost.
Does this mean you should lower prices? No, not necessarily.
Instead, this is often a market/customer match problem. If a high percentage of your members think the cost is too high, you might be going after the wrong market—and instead, you need to target higher-income people for whom your price won’t be a problem.
5. Involuntary Churn/Billing Issues
Sometimes technical issues cause people to churn involuntarily. Maybe the credit card you have on file expires or gets declined.
As a result, they end up churning—but it’s not because they chose to cancel. It was involuntary.
When this happens, you should make a strong effort to contact the member and have them update their payment information.
5 Things You Can Do to Reduce Churn
Now here are 5 things you can do to help reduce churn over time:
1. Messaging Segmentation
This means breaking down your members into different groups so that you can talk to each group in a way that’s more relevant to them.
For instance, in DM Lab we have entrepreneurs, small business owners, and marketing agencies. If we can keep track of who’s who in DM Lab, then we can provide more relevant messages and content to each of those groups—increasing the value of their membership and reducing churn.
This just means working to build up your relationship with each new member. To help make your members feel invested in your community. To make them feel a part of it. More connected with your business.
One way to do this is through an email series that shows your new customers how to get started using your product and answers commonly asked questions.
Is price an issue for a lot of members? If so, then downgrading can be a powerful way to reduce churn.
Some companies will offer a lower level of service for a lower monthly fee. For example: Instead of paying $15 for 2 DVDs a month, would you like 1 DVD a month for just $8?
You can also use this strategy with email lists by offering a weekly email roundup instead of a daily email.
Either way, the strategy is the same: you’re basically reducing the commitment on the part of the user, thereby getting them to stay in your community.
When you ask people to commit to themselves (or their friends) in a public way, that can really improve your churn rate.
Maybe you ask new members to share their progress on Facebook or Twitter—or even ask them to refer their friends and family. This kind of thing can increase their sense of commitment and improve customer retention.
5. Billing System Efficiencies
Basically, this means coming up with ways of getting in touch with people when their credit card doesn’t work.
Maybe you send a reminder email the month before their card expires asking them to update it in advance. Then if their card gets declined, you make a point to call them and ask for the updated expiration date.
There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit here for reducing your churn rate by simply making it easy for people to update their payment information.
I know this has been a long post with a lot of math, but you made it!
And more importantly, you’ve learned the essentials of churn rate that you can use to help retain more of your customers and ultimately grow your business.
So, what should you do to get started?
First, go back and measure your churn rate for the past few months. This can help you establish a baseline.
Then set a reminder to measure it again at the end of each month.
Finally, get started with some cohort analysis. Group customers by starting month to start tracking your average customer retention rate and average customer value.
Do those few things, and you’ll be putting yourself in a much better position to make smarter and more informed business decisions.
(NOTE: Want to learn to use your company’s data to make smart, data-driven decisions? Become a Certified Data & Analytics Specialist and understand the health of your business at every stage. Learn more here.)
It’s no secret that a complete business website redesign can be a daunting project. (If you’ve ever been through one yourself, there’s a good chance you know they don’t always go as planned.)
At IMPACT, we’ve seen first-hand how unexpected roadblocks can throw off the timeline (or worse, the budget) for a website redesign project. That’s why it is so important to have a process in place to combat the common pitfalls.
Today, we’re going to share IMPACT’s website redesign process.
Of course, there’s more than one way to approach a website redesign. But since we’ve seen a lot of success with the following process across a wide range of business types and industries, we believe there is value in showcasing it as an example.
So, whether you’re looking ahead to your first website redesign — or you’ve got a few under your belt and are looking for more insight on what it takes to successfully launch a newly-designed site for the next time around — this article is for you.
But First, Some Background on Our Process
Our website redesign process is designed to ensure we’re creating beautiful, peak-performing websites that have each of the following characteristics:
Optimized for search;
Optimized for conversions; and
That’s why you’ll see in the following process that there’s heavy emphasis on strategy and testing, instead of going right into what some consider to be the “fun stuff” — fonts, colors, and your new aesthetic.
When evaluating the website process of another agency or devising one for your own internal use, you need to understand what the process is meant to guarantee and what results it should yield, and then document it.
Now, with that in mind, let’s dive in.
Website Redesign Process Overview
Once you understand and have defined what your website is failing to do now, what you want to achieve with your new website, and which platform you’ll build it on — HubSpot or WordPress? — you’ll embark upon a five-step website redesign process:
Again, before you dive into your brand’s new online look, it’s imperative that you lay the foundation of your new website with a validated, well-researched strategy.
Never, ever build a website based on your gut or personal preferences, or trust an agency that does not support strategic and design choices with data or research.
Your assumptions may be wrong, and you want to build a website for your ideal buyers, not for yourself.
That’s why you start by either creating buyer personas, if you don’t have them, or at least having an informed discussion around pre-existing personas to see if they’re still accurate.
Having a good grasp on your personas will help you get understand who you are building for in terms of messaging, tone, visuals, and the buyer’s journey you need to facilitate for them online, based on their preferences, pain points, and purchasing habits.
In addition to your personas, it’s important to audit your current site framework to understand the key focus areas of improvement and determine any additional technology requirements or features you may need to accommodate or build out.
Beyond your site’s structure, you should also perform a comprehensive audit of your website’s content and organization.
Of the website pages and landing pages you have currently, how many will be kept, and how many will be nixed?
Will the sitemap you have right now need to change, based on your buyer persona research and/or validation?
A good agency will already have taken a look at the size and scope of your website before you come to an agreement on pricing, given that the depth of a site is one of the biggest cost drivers on website redesign projects.
That said, the strategy phase should include this deeper dive into the quality of the content that’s been counted up to that point, with a plan for what will happen to it as you progress into the next phase of the project.
At the end of this stage, you should have a website strategy defined and an approved sitemap.
Step 2: Build
Okay, now it’s time to start building your site. Sounds easy, right?
Well, kind of.
The simple definition of this phase is that you physically design and build out your website.
But, depending on the needs of your project — and best practices that many often skip — there are a lot of steps and parallel processes that must happen during this phase.
With your sitemap in-hand, you will work with your website team to build out wireframes — basic sketches that act as the unvarnished blueprints for what content will live on each page and how it will be organized.
You don’t introduce design elements in wireframing. The goal of this is to break down the strategy for each page in the simplest way possible, by mapping out where which elements will go, such as images, content, and conversion points.
Once your team is aligned around the wireframe for each page, then you can start working on bringing that vision to life through design. This will include applying a pre-existing or new website style guide, imagery, and content.
Speaking of content, while you’re building out your site with your designers and developers, you’ll also need to create content in parallel, to keep your project on track.
Content is one of the top reasons — if not the #1 reason — why website redesign projects can get very messy. So, if you plan to have content be a part of your project, and you plan to hire an agency, press them on what their process is for content creation before signing on the dotted line.
Once the designs and content are approved, it’s time for the designers to hand over the site to the development team, where the designs are coded into live, functioning website pages.
Even though at the end of this phase, you’ll have a website that looks like you’re ready to hit publish, there’s still another critical step ahead of launch.
Step 3: Quality Assurance
You’ve built everything out. You know how each page and every element are supposed to function — now, it’s time to test it to make sure your website will do what it’s supposed to do.
During this process, I love to utilize tools such as Browserstack to see how a site page will appear across the most popular mobile devices, desktops, various browsers, and tablets.
But I don’t stop there.
After Browserstack, I often bug my coworkers for their phones to triple check how pages look on a real phone, rather than a simulation. There is no such thing as too much quality assurance!
Once you’re done testing, it’s time to go live.
Step 4: Launch!
Launching your website is at once the most exciting moment of your website redesign and the most stressful. What if something goes wrong? What if you didn’t plan for a particular contingency?
The good news is that if you have properly prepared your site, tested it thoroughly, and defined a clear launch plan with IT resources on standby, you will be in great shape.
That last part is particularly important, because you don’t just launch a website with the push of a button. There are a lot of nitty gritty technical details that need to be taken care of.
For example, setting up 301 redirects.
A 301 redirect is a technical term for redirecting a potentially old URL to a new URL path.
So, if your old site has www.website.com/website-services and your new site has an updated url for that page as www.website.com/website-redesign-services, you don’t want someone to stumble on an outdated page or a page that no longer exists. (Google also frowns upon 404 errors.)
A 301 redirect is simply a setting up the backend of your site to automatically redirect your old URL to your new one. Or, if you’re not bringing back a page at all, redirecting it to the most relevant page (or a top-level services page), so you aren’t penalized for dead site pages.
Plus, it is always helpful to have a developer on standby for any potential quick adjustments.
But the day your website launches is only the beginning.
Step 5: Post-launch
Last, but certainly not least, you need to have a plan in place for what happens to your new site after it goes live.
Your post-launch plan will be unique to you and your situation. But, generally speaking, your post-launch plan should include the following short-, mid-, and long-term actions:
Short-term: Monitor for and resolve any bugs or immediate changes. (Here are a few of the most common.)
Mid-term: Maintenance plan (internally or with an agency) to keep your site up-to-date with backend patches and security updates.
Long-term: A forward-looking strategy on how you will continue to refine, improve, and expand your website, as needed.
Not Having a Process Creates Risk
If you’ve gotten this far, and you feel as if what we’ve outlined isn’t the right process for you, that’s okay.
The moral of this story is to showcase why having a clearly defined process — where each stage is purposefully laid out with documented activities and anticipated objectives — is critical to the success of your project. (We’re not saying it’s our way or the highway.)
However, it’s worth noting that having a process may not help you side-step every single unforeseen roadblock or snafu; stuff happens, even with the best laid plans.
But as the old saying goes, “A failure to plan is a plan for failure.”
Or, more simply, if we can all agree that your website is the cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy, you probably shouldn’t wing it with your business’ next website redesign.