1. Why you need to be on Google+

    Google+ has been getting a lot of negative press lately. People are saying that there’s nobody on there while Google itself is saying that there’s over 100 million active users. Is it even close to Facebook’s 900 million users? No. Should brands be on it matter to brands how many people are actually using it. Absolutely.

    Focusing in on Google+’s user base (let’s put it at a conservative 20 million users) sounds to us like a vanity metric. It’s a meaningless number - especially when compared to Facebook.

    We think that Google+ can help marketers answer two important questions: 

    1. What areas of my digital marketing is Google+ helping with? 
    2. What insights can I gather from Google+ and apply to other parts of my business. 

    Let’s dig deeper.

    Google+ helps round out your digital marketing

    There are some really great things baked into Google+ that can help impact your online presence.

    Improved SEO

    Since you’re already making great content that people love, you should share it on Google+ as well. Though there’s not any official documentation from Google, sharing your content and being active on G+ will help you rank higher in search results. 

    Customer Service and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

    The Google hangouts feature is a key differentiator and helps G+ stand out from the other social networks. Imagine you just launched a product or there were some user expectations that weren’t met. The only thing better than a personal outreach to some customers? Personal outreach to some customers and highlighting the event to the ENTIRE WORLD. Have a customer service person (aka the CEO) take questions from customers on what went wrong and how those are going to be prevented in the future.

    On the CRM front, invite select VIP customers for a special product announcement, record the whole thing, and then share it.

    Integration with other Google services

    KISSmetrics has a great blog post called “25 awesome free Google tools for marketers”.

    They have not only created a thriving social network, but they have incorporated it into almost every aspect of the Google experience, including Google search results themselves

    Incorporating all of the other Google services not only makes sense, but it was inevitable. Linking Google services (Adwords, Analytics, Places, Chrome, etc.) together will help strengthen your iniatives and give you better data and insights. Which leads to…  

    How G+ helps other areas of your business

    A great feature of Google+ (that nobody knows about) is Ripples. Ripples gives you a visual representation of how your content is being shared and, more importantly, who is sharing it.

    To see the ripples click the down arrow next to a public post.

    Image via Eli Rose http://www.elirose.com/2012/03/google-ripples/

    Then you can see how your post gets shared and who shares it.

    Image via Eli Rose http://www.elirose.com/2012/03/google-ripples/

    And finally you can add the people who shared your post into your existing circles (if they’re not already in there any).

    Image via Eli Rose http://www.elirose.com/2012/03/google-ripples/

    This is a key feature because it allows you to gather insights about who is interested in your content and your business. If you think that, for example, your target audience is all DIY crafters but the people sharing your content are sewers then you might want to not only change up the content you create, but perhaps make a new product that is sewing specific.

    Just because Google+ doesn’t have the amount of people that Twitter or Facebook does, doesn’t mean that the people who are on there aren’t doing anything. It’s more likely than not that the G+ users are also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Therefore they are heavy social media users, influencers and the people wh you need to talk to.

    How are you using Google+ and what kind of insights have you been gathering from it? Let us know in the comments! 

     

  2. Quick steps to improve your email effectiveness

    Email continues to be one of the most important communication channels you can use to keep in touch, and upsell, your customers. But are you using it to it’s full potential? Below are some steps you can implement immediately to increase its effectiveness.

    List Segmentation

    If you have a list, for example, with 100,000 subscribers chances are that they did not all signup at the same time. This is even more true if signups come through the product registration. A simple way to deliver the most interesting and engaging content to these subscribers is by segmenting the list. You can put subscribers into different buckets such as: 

    • Registered product type
    • Interests (offers vs. news vs. industry thought leadership)
    • Sign-up date
    • Location 

    Content is not one-size-fits-all and the more targeted the content you can deliver you will better results such as: open rate, click-through-rate (CTR) and ROI.

    Subject line testing

    Taking the same approach that not all content is appropriate for all people, this goes for subject lines. ASubject lines are one of the most important things in doing email marketing, but are also one of the easiest things to test. Some factors you can test in the subject lines are: 

    • Personalization (i.e. first name)
    • Subject line type 
      • General (example: Your June 2012 newsletter)
      • Offer specific (example: Save $XXX through Friday!)
      • Headline specific (example: Learn why [xxxxx] is important to your business)

    Every industry and every list is different so the only way to find out which subject line is the best for you is to test. Most email service providers (ESPs) have this functionality built into their platform so you can, and should, start subject line testing today.

    Connect with social media

    Email and social media are first cousins if not siblings. If people are interested in your email communications (because we’ve been subject line testing, segmenting our lists and creating engaging content) we can help promote other channels that help drive sales.

    Do you have an awesome blog? Great then the click-through on the article should go to the blog. Have a cool promotion starting on Facebook? Have the user click through to Facebook. Also including the icons of other social networks you’re on are great so people can go to where they want. 

    With email you can direct people to where helps you get conversions from either new or existing customers. If your open rate and CTR aren’t 100%, then there’s always room to test, learn and then test some more.

    What are some techniques that help you improve your email effectiveness?

     

  3. Facebook ads just got more important. Here’s why.

    Josh Constantine of TechCrunch pointed out that Facebook Ads Can Now Be Optimized To Drive Any On-Facebook Action, Such As In-App Purchases, Shares, Offer Claims. Which is important because

    Marketers don’t actually want clicks, they want the downstream conversions and the return on investment that follow. 

    That is absolutely true. Clicks are simply vanity metrics and don’t mean much if the person who clicks isn’t doing anything on your site/Facebook page after. The same goes for Facebook Likes. Who cares if you have 4,000 Likes if you’re not doing anything with them?

    Facebook recently updated it tracking so you can see what actions people are taking on Facebook after they click an ad. This is important as it will allow advertisers to more precisely target audiences who will take an action (rather than just click Like).

    Why is this important? This gives us more data to understand what is working, what is not working and who is taking action on Facebook (and that is leading to actions in other places such as on our site as well as in store purchases). Knowing all of this info allows us to arm ourselves with solid info rather than just “being on Facebook because everyone is on there.”

    The full lst of actions advertisers can optimize for is below (Thanks TechCrunch and Josh):

    Here’s the full list of actions advertisers can optimize for:

    • People talking about this
    • Page likes
    • Page post likes
    • Pagepost comments
    • Page post shares
    • @ mentions
    • check-ins
    • photo tags
    • offers shared
    • offers claimed
    • App installs
    • App used
    • Credit spend events (number of times someone uses credits in the app)
    • Credit spend amount (value of credits that were spent in the app)
    • Number of RSVPs

    PS - You might want to follow us on Twitter. We tweet cool stuff

     

  4. What we’re reading - May 8, 2012

    You may see us Tweet (you’re following us on Twitter, right?), but we wanted to share some of the most interesting and relevant articles we’ve read recently. Having everything in one place makes everything easier:

     

  5. What we’re reading - May 8, 2012

    You may see us Tweet (you’re following us on Twitter, right?), but we wanted to share some of the most interesting and relevant articles we’ve read recently. Having everything in one place makes everything easier:

     

  6. Content marketing explained

    B2B Marketing Insider has a great article on inbound marketing. In it there is a great line that is nicely sums up the approach many, many marketers out there are taking:

    So where our prospects are looking for answers to questions, we give them promotions they don’t want.


    For us, the key words of that sentence is “looking for answers to questions.”  Marketers need to be there to answer questions or PROVIDE SOLUTIONS. Better yet proactively provide answers to questions they didn’t know they had.

    The post continues:

    • content strategy that identifies all the content that answers your customers top questions in all the places they search for it, for all stages of the buyer journey, for all the types of buyers you serve
    • You need a search strategy that effectively places that content in all the places they search for it
    • You need content that is engaging enough to get shared
    • You need a conversion or nurture path that maps to the buyer journey by offering the right content to the right person at the right time.

    We could not agree anymore. We think of of content marketing in 4 simple steps:

    1. Identify what questions they have (or will have)
    2. Answer those questions
    3. Place the answers where they will get found (i.e. where your customers are)
    4. Stay patient

    Kudos to Michael Brenner for saying it so precisely.

    PS - You might want to follow us on Twitter. We tweet cool stuff.

     

  7. Is the new Facebook organ donation feature useful?

    Is the new Facebook organ donation feature a good idea? Take 30 seconds and let us know below. We’ll publish the results tomorrow (and our thoughts)!

     

  8. How to increase your chance of success? The answers are out there, just look for them.

    We wrote in our last post about how the proliferation of cloud-based, cost efficient tools can help marketers and entrepreneurs everywhere succeed. Another topic that we have seen in our Twitter feeds and inboxes: how to use freelancers.

    This adage article talks about how Madison avenue uses freelance depending on the amount of new business coming in. Not that this is news to anyone - freelance has been around forever. This article from Under30CEO.com  gives advice on how to bootstrap a startup using freelancers. Both really awesome articles from really smart people.

    The common thread with these articles isn’t that they’re ground breaking journalism, but that they are dispensing knowledge. Knowledge that first time entrepreneurs can take advantage of. 

    Lean start-ups (no, not these types of lean start-ups) are getting odds that start-ups before them never got. Free storage, free analytics, free access to your ideas from anywhere, getting customers inexpensively. And if you look in the right places (and are on a never ender search for content and knowledge), it’s out there. Hell, I even thought I heard some inspiration from a Chrysler commercial yesterday that aired during Mad Men.

    So how can marketers and entrepreneurs increase their chance of success? Just look and you may find it.

     

  9. Marketers and entrepreneurs take note: More options. More tools. More success.

    In the past two days there have been two high-profile call outs that entrepreneurs and marketers must notice and use immediately if they are not.

    The first one is the launch of Google Drive (finally) which is giving people 5 GB of free cloud storage - which is more than the 2 GB Dropbox gives away for free -and the second is this wired piece on A/B testing (which btw we love).

    So what in the world do these two things have in common with each other?

    These two things are important because they give entrepreneurs and marketers everywhere more options to go out and create something awesome. It doesn’t matter if you use Google Drive or Dropbox for cloud storage or Unbounce or Optimizely for A/B testing. The point is that these are ideas you need to embrace.

    5 free GBs is more than enough space to store ideas you have for a company, or at least parts of an idea that you want to explore. It’s enough space that will store the business plan. Or the big idea for that upcoming product launch.

    It gives you flexibility to work from anywhere (one of my main “offices” is the local Starbucks). Since you can access any of your files and folders from basically anywhere, it will allow you jot down any inspiration or other ideas you have.

    You’re at a family party and your mom’s cousin happens to be a designer? It just so happens you now bring your ideas everywhere.

    The second weapon that you have at your disposal is A/B testing. The aforementioned Wired articles doesn’t give you an excuse on why you SHOULD’T do it. Google does it. And Amazon. Don’t forget about Netflix.

    A tool and technique as simple as putting up 2 webpages and see which one works better can be so effective, you’d be crazy not to. Data always wins over opinions. Always. I know that your boss when to Rutger’s in the late 80’s and is super “creative”, but is she right? 

    These are only two of many tools that are out there that marketers and entrepreneurs puts the odds of being successful in their favor.

     

  10. Why Apple and entrepreneurs should have the same marketing department

    Today in Mashable there was a great article called "What would it take to beat Apple?" Yesterday Apple posted another monster quarter, so the question out there is: Who can take on Apple? According to John Gruber there is a simple equation to what makes Apple great:

    Apple’s success is based on a few obvious factors: a) they make great products; b) they sell them at compelling prices; and c) they explain, through marketing and advertising, what these products do and why people might want them.

    The first two points - make great products and selling those products at compelling prices - should be obvious, but are easier said than done. The third point is something that companies from Apple to a new startup can start doing TODAY.

    Whenever you are trying to drive people to your website or to purchase something online (or offline), your marketing and advertising comes down to answering 2 simple questions: “What?” and “Why?”

    • What is your value proposition or product (can this be communicated in one sentence or less)?
    • Why should someone buy this?

    Let’s take a look at the new iPad page on Apple.com:

    What is it?: iPad (Obviously Apple and iPad have A LOT of brand recognition)

    Why buy a new iPad (i.e. Why should someone pay $500 for something they paid $500 last year): A revolutionary new screen

    Simple. Simple. Simple.

    A key takeaway you can implement TODAY

    Think about how you describe your company to others (or how you position it in your marketing materials. Can you do it in one sentence? And then ask why someone would purchase from you and not a competitor?

    Go out and ask your customers why they purchase (or stopped purchasing) from you to help your formulate the “Why” more concisely. Then be sure to articulate that in all of your communications.

    The other 2 things are up to you, but now that you know Apple’s secret sauce you can go out and conquer the world with smart marketing.