I’m in Love with Knowledge

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I began my love affair with knowledge as a young child. When your mother and grandmother are both teachers, it’s easy to fall for knowledge. When you adore knowledge as I did and still do, it can be both a blessing and a curse. But I’m still very much in love.

My mom taught me to read before kindergarten. Her first years of teaching were to kinders so I had an early advantage. She also exposed me to all kinds of knowledge and history I’d never find in class. Even though we lived in a small town in North Carolina, my mom’s love of Europe and open mindedness toward what was not the norm, started a desire in me to learn, travel and grow.

She would often find me reading, not just the standard Nancy Drew mysteries or Babysitter’s Club, but also the encyclopedia and dictionary. This was before Google could tell you everything so if you wondering what an encyclopedia is, it’s like Google before Google.

I still have my mom’s college dictionary. It’s one of my most treasured books. As a child I would read through it and mark words I liked, or when I used a new word in my writing or in conversation, I’d put a mark by it. I fell head over heels in love with words, and I writer I became.

I wrote my first short story when I was five. I remember reading it to my mom. She gave me her attention, and I could see a light in her eyes. I don’t recall what the story was about, but I do know that I wrote a lot of mystery stories in my youth, being influenced both by the ghost stories my Pop would tell me and by Stephen King books that I read (maybe not the best genre for a kid, but my mom was pretty progressive) and Alfred Hitchcock.

In school, I did very well. That was the expectation set by my mom at an early age. We would talk about where I was going to college often and what I would study. My mom nurtured the writer in me and never said no to going to get more books. I will say she probably didn’t think I’d actually be a professional writer as an adult; she saw me as a future lawyer.

I had a public school education in a rural town in the foothills of North Carolina. And it was a great education. I remember being a bit bored in third grade but by fourth grade I was moved to AG (academically gifted) classes and was challenged to read more and grow. By middle school, I was reading F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Dickens, Faulkner and also still Stephen King!

The craving for learning was further propelled by some amazing teachers. My sixth grade teacher was very creative and crafty, which opened up lots of new ideas for me. I am not artistic; I can barely draw straw people. But I started to see how you could put together certain things; it was kind of a beginner’s course in graphic design.

In eighth grade, I had an incredible history teacher. The focus was on the state’s history that year. It was the start of realizing how important history is and to not look at it as just the past but as real stories of amazing and horrible things that happened.

Then high school, which was four years of heartbreak and achievement and challenges. My teenage years weren’t like most, as my mom got sick when I was 15. That changed a lot about me, but not my eagerness to learn and write. By this time, I had been writing for years, and it was and remains my best outlet. My junior year English teacher was one of the biggest influences in my writing life. She was a very gifted writer, and she really challenged me to shape my own voice. And the books we read! Everything from The Scarlett Letter to Sphere. I was able to take a creative writing course with her my senior year. I owe her a lot of gratitude because she’s one of the first people who believed that I could be a writer.

So I’ll be honest, college was not easy. It was a huge transition, and my mind wasn’t always on studying. But even after my mom died my freshman year, I never thought of giving up. I never thought that I’d be better off just to take time off. That’s not what my mom would have wanted. She would have wanted me to fill my head with thoughts and opinions not noise.

College exposed me to more new authors, and I was able to take classes beyond the general 101 classes in my studies of literature and history. I would never trade those moments and those interactions. They keep me grounded today and have provided a firm foundation of truth and reality. I don’t need to necessarily google things about Nazi Germany because I took a class on it in college. I don’t need a long explanation on 20th century British literature; I spent a semester immersed in it.

Once I was a college graduate, the learning didn’t stop. My first boss was an attorney and a very intelligent man. I absorbed as much as I could when I was around him. I’m better for it. After several years in the workforce, I decided I needed more knowledge. So I went to class at night for my MBA and worked during the day. Graduate school was different than undergrad. I was more focused, less prone to be at the bar on a Tuesday night. I studied more and was beyond challenged in the classes that were mostly math related. Math is not my forte. But I persisted and earned that MBA.

So I guess I knew everything at this point? Not even close. So much has changed since my grad school days. There weren’t any inbound marketing classes back then or social media or anything specific to digital marketing. I think a lot of the overall marketing concepts I learned still hold true and have influenced where the industry is now.

I just keep learning. I find new classes online on new and emerging trends and have taken certification classes on multiple topics. I read a lot – probably 25 or more posts about marketing a week, along with probably one book and maybe hundreds of other articles and posts.

I’ll love knowledge forever. We are bonded and unbreakable. When you love knowledge, there’s no fear of the unknown. However, I will say that the curse of knowledge is that I’m not naive to anything. There’s also frustration that comes with knowledge because not everyone desires it. Many would rather hide from it, especially if it doesn’t fit their perception.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts on loving knowledge:

  • Read a book; turn off reality TV.
  • Expand your vocabulary; stop writing in shorthand or acronyms.
  • Read Wikipedia – it’s an unbiased, factually based place to find quick facts.
  • Watch a documentary on a topic you know nothing about.
  • Have a conversation with a stranger, and listen to their story.

Love of knowledge is a beautiful thing. They say, “Knowledge is power.” But really knowledge is empowering.

Twitter Experiment: How will brands respond?

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In the past week, I ran a little experiment. I didn’t necessarily intend to, but it seemed like a good opportunity. I tried to engage three brands on Twitter. Only one responded, although late. So what does this say about all the consensus out there in social media marketing that Twitter is a great place to serve customers? Well, first, I think there are many brands out there that do a great job of engaging followers on Twitter. Hubspot wrote a great blog with some examples. The examples were wide ranging from consumer goods to a university to a research company.

My tweets to these brands were not negative or combative. I was trying to start a conversation. Maybe these brands don’t have a plan to respond or are too afraid. Here’s a look at my experiment.

Southwest Airlines

I wrote a blog recently about a trip on Southwest that turned into a nightmare. I wanted them to read it. I posted it with a call out of their handle on January 9.

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No response so I retweeted on January 12, calling them out for not using Twitter as a customer service channel. They replied, and we had a conversation via DM. I can report that I did receive a refund for the canceled flight, which was approximately what the rental car cost. But they did not make any attempt to further compensate me. They did apologize. I still am not overly impressed with their Twitter responsiveness, but it was better than the other two!

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L’Oreal

I don’t follow L’Oreal on Twitter, but I do use their products. Not really makeup, but shampoo, conditioner and hair styling products. A promoted tweet came up on my feed. Promoted means well they paid for it, and they must have the goal to increase followers. I didn’t think the tweet really answered what the value is for me to follow them, so I let them know this.

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Again, not I’m not trying to drag them in any way. Just trying to start a conversation. Tell me why I should follow you, and be more specific than news and updates. They could have responded and shown how powerful social media can be but instead just crickets.

Luzianne

I love iced tea. It’s the most southern thing about me. I don’t have a brand preference for tea bags, buying typically what is on sale or what I have a coupon for, so I go back and forth between Lipton and Luzianne.

So I came to the end of a 24 count box of Luzianne, only to be left with only three tea bags instead of four. It takes four tea bags to make a gallon, thus I should be able to make six gallons. Yet, for the third time, I seem to have been missing a tea bag. So I though Luzianne should know.

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Luzianne did not respond at all. I am thinking maybe this is something they should look into – I could’ve provided where I purchased the boxes because obviously, they are only putting 23 in there! No response to me means they either don’t care, aren’t aware or don’t know how to respond – which are all extremely concerning. So Luzianne, I can’t buy your teabags anymore.

I’d love to hear what you think about these Twitter fails. Tweet me, and let’s have a conversation!

 

I Don’t Have a Five Year Plan

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I’ve always had a plan. I am a planner. Not to say I’m not up for spontaneity, but you won’t find me waiting for a table on a Saturday night because I’d have a reservation.

I’ve always wanted to be in control of my future. Planning seemed the logical path. However, most of my plans have required revision and rerouting. It’s important to be flexible. Not everything can be planned for in life.

I was an ambitious planner in my teens and 20s. I had a vision. I knew what I wanted. I did everything I could to get there. I had lots I needed to check off my list. My young self never got tired (even migraines rarely slowed me). I was emphatic about what and who I was going to be: happy, successful, something.

I finished my second novel at 25. And was busy planning for more. I was submitting poetry and fiction to journals weekly. I was writing pitch letters to agents, researching everything I needed to do to get noticed and basically doing everything to say I’m a writer!

This was early 2000s. Online journals were fairly new. Pitch letters were mailed. Social media hadn’t really become a thing. Back then self publishing was not what you did as a serious writer. So for years, I was planning and working every day. I stayed convinced I could be something. I paid little attention to my own world; wrapped up instead in the worlds I had created.

Perseverance would get me noticed I thought. But it didn’t. There were small victories: short stories and poems were published. A few agents actually wrote me back. So I kept pushing until I had to walk away. Had to find a new plan and tame that dream.

By this time writing was my job. I realized that in marketing I could get paid for writing; it just wasn’t going to be my story to tell. So I rechanneled my energy. I could be a success in marketing. So I went to grad school. Worked all day and went to class at night. Those were long days, but it kept me busy. I needed to be busy. And needed to believe this plan would work. I would shape brands and make the money I deserved. Ambition suited me well; always has.

After grad school, I got a new job with unlimited possibilities. I threw myself into building this brand and increasing business. Work became all I was. My personal life was in shambles so I needed the diversion. Most weeks I worked 60 hours. There was no boundary between life and work. I answered emails late at night and calls on Saturday mornings. Because in my plan if I just worked harder and longer then I’d get where I needed to go. WRONG.

Life’s not fair. Rewards rarely come for the ones always there doing what they say they’re going to do. People will use you, manipulate you and disappoint you. I was burning out when another offer came my way. This opportunity had more structure and a chance to build a marketing team. It seemed like a win. I still had so much drive; so much I wanted to offer.

I did a lot in my time there. But there were still long hours and lots of miles traveled. What was worse was the wall of frustration. I couldn’t get excited about a project because I knew like the 100 before, it would go nowhere. When you don’t allow people to succeed and shine, you dim their passion. When passion is extinguished there’s no resuscitating it. So I had to go leading me to where I am now.

Which is me not really having a plan. I mean I do have a broad picture in mind. And I still keep lots of running lists of what I need to do to further myself. I’m not always motivated. I’m not always my own cheerleader. I could do more.

My plan looks different now. It’s not about money or status or titles. Success looks a little different now. I want to be excited every day about what I’m doing. It’s about loving writing again and not looking at it as a chore.

What will I do without that five year plan that every guru tells me I need? I’m just going to be a rebel. Look, I had plans. They didn’t work out. I waited patiently for that big break, for someone to tell me I was talented. I’m still waiting. Waiting for that one post to go viral or for one publisher to think I’ve got what it takes.

Yet I still feel like a failure 93% of the time. I still worry every day I haven’t lived up to my potential. I’m still haunted by things I should have done differently. I think these things, but there’s nothing I can do to change the past. Maybe I wasn’t ready for success earlier. Maybe my voice has to get stronger.

So what do I do? Keep writing. Keep posting. Keep believing that if it’s good stuff people will read it. I once heard that dreams can’t become more than that while you’re still sleeping. I’m awake now. Wide awake.

Marketing Chat: Insights & Best Practices

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I’ve had the pleasure of being part of many great conversations about marketing, both with those in the discipline and outside of it. I’m always happy to share my experiences, what I’ve learned, my opinions and what I think are the most critical strategies. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions or discussions I’ve been a part of recently.

1. What are the best ways to build an email list?

First, you have to do it legally. Anyone you email has to agree that you can email them, and they have the ability to unsubscribe at any time. Email is a currency. You get people to “pay” with their email address so you have to create value. Hubspot recently posted a blog on this that was spot on. This is what I think are the best strategies:

  • Landing pages with relevant offers – typically this would be high value content that is targeted to specific segments and is centered on education and information rather than a product
  • Social Media: connecting with followers in almost any platform provides you the opportunity to allow them to opt in
  • Website forms: include forms throughout your website for a variety of offers based on what pages they are landing on – subscribe to blog, download an asset, schedule a demo or any other CTA (call to action)
  • Webinars: these are low cost events that are virtual in nature and should again be educationally focused. If you have a great topic that can genuinely help someone with their challenges, they will sign up for webinars, and spend an hour with you.

But do not buy lists! These people don’t know you. Your unsubscribes and bounces will go up. Don’t spend your marketing dollars here. 

2. What should I post on social media?

I typically advise that the rule should be 50/30/20: 50% should be your content that is general, educational and informational; 30% should be content not authored by you but is relevant to your industry or audience (leading experts, SMEs) and 20% promotional, wherein you have a specific social media promotion, like a giveaway or offer, to generate leads.

3. Should we do direct mail campaigns?

In most circumstances, I’d say no. They are costly and have little response. It’s hard to track ROI on this unless there’s a promotional code. For B2B, I would advise it only if it’s clever and relevant. Do you have an actual product versus a service? When I worked in the large format printing industry, we had a laser cutter that was a really innovative piece of machinery. I often toted around small samples of what the machine could do. People could see the quality and intricacy of the finished product. To add relevance, I often brought them samples of their logo to keep. This would have been a neat direct mail campaign that could have generated interest from current and prospective customers. For any direct mail campaign to work, it’s got to be targeted and executed well.

4. Do I need a content strategy?

YES! Content strategy at its most fundamental is creating the right content for the right audience and posting it in the right place. It’s not something that’s best done off the cuff. It takes research and planning to learn how to cultivate and repurpose content and to ensure it has a clear voice while also changing tone where appropriate. Content strategy is a huge part of your overall marketing plan and shouldn’t be ignored.

5. Why inbound marketing?

I’m an inbound marketing enthusiast. I absolutely believe in its ability to connect with audiences and generate quality leads. It has the power to convert unlike outbound marketing or cold calling. It relies heavily on well-written, authentic content. It takes into consideration who your buyer is and where they are on the buyer’s journey. It integrates content, SEO, email and social media. I could write for days on the marvels of inbound marketing. If you are not currently embracing it, do your research. Understand its importance in elevating your brand to the next level. I recommend inbound.org as a starting point.

6. How can I increase my open rate on emails?

When considering open rate, think about these metrics:

  • How many people actually received the email (hard and soft bounces)
  • Is it optimized for mobile? We as a society now tend to open most email on phones.
  • Am I clearing spam filters?
  • Is my subject line intriguing? Is it short enough? Does it present the idea of value?

7. How do I determine what content I should require an email to view versus what do I give away?

This is subjective. But I’ve considered this when building websites and took on a scoring approach. The shorter the content the more likely I was to tag it as free. The content I felt was really for those at the beginning of the buyer’s journey I typically didn’t require an email. Whitepapers, which are longer and require more research, most likely required an email. The more work I had to put into producing it; the more valuable I believed it to be so I wanted an email for all my hard work! You can also look at trends to see how well content fared from a landing page or email campaign. It if it was popular that may mean people are willing to pay with their email address. Also more targeted content usually required an email address because it was for such a select industry or group.

8. What are the biggest obstacles to marketing success?

Speaking personally, the challenges I have faced in being successful were:

  • Lack of Tools: not having the right software or platforms to manage, measure and automate. If you have do most of this manually, it takes a long time, and you don’t have time to focus on more important things. Tools provide amazing insights and help you see trends so that you are aware of when a lead is sales ready.
  • Inability to Execute: Fear from the powers that be kept me from executing many planned out strategies. I developed websites, product launches and social media strategies that never went anywhere because the company didn’t really understand the value of marketing. They were so afraid to make any little mistake that fear kept them from doing anything. I’m not a status quo kind of person so it was pretty impossible to succeed in this type of environment. When you hire people that are experts in their industry, trust them! They really know what they’re talking about, and if it doesn’t work, then keep trying and learning.

These are a few highlights from recent conversations. I’d love to hear from you! Tweet me, or reply below. I’m glad to answer them or have a discussion. I’m always up for a marketing chat!

 

 

 

Voice, Tone & Sounding Human

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For the past few years, many established brands have been eager to reshape the way they speak to their audiences. They finally figured out that their professional, elevated voice was actually condescending. They’ve decided they want to sound human and authentic. Simplification isn’t a bad word anymore. That’s great that these brands, now so concerned with being customer-centric, have embraced a voice that truly can engage its audience. Yet, big brands still lack consistency. And what’s worse is that the internal dialogue hasn’t changed. It’s still weighed down by jargon, corporate speak and acronyms.

I have been accustomed to and sometimes guilty of using those terms and phrases. However, I’m so aware of it now that I won’t allow myself to just accept it. If we want to be better communicators then we should all embrace these novel ideas on voice and tone.

I’ve shaped the voice and tone of several brands. This is what I learned while working in the technology/ software sector. I’ll preface this by stating the company did not have an identified brand or voice. What they did have was an absolute text book content for how not to write.

1. They gave their audience way too much credit. You cannot read or write content from the perspective of an SME (Subject Matter Expert). You are; your audience most likely is not. And you may have multiple segments of your audience with various knowledge levels. Start with the assumption that your audience knows nothing. Write and target for different areas of knowledge but do so in blogs, ebooks or white papers. These are areas where users can choose content. Dumbing it down isn’t dumb. It’s simplification. If you can’t describe something simply then you have bigger problems!

2. Jargon is a barrier to good communication unless it’s really how your audience speaks. Most industry jargon is how ideas or practices are described internally. They may mean nothing to your audience. So how will you know how your audience speaks? Do your research. Listen to them at events and conferences. This was huge for me. I also asked our sales team questions about what they heard during conversations. Read other industry publications, not necessarily from your competition, but content directed at the group you are targeting. Compile your results, and create a toolkit of words to use and not use. These words are of course useful for SEO and PPC as well.

3. Remember than tone can change. Although, voice is stable, tone can shift depending on channel. The least formal tone is typically used in social media. Yet there’s still distinction between Twitter and LinkedIn. With Twitter, more abbreviations and brevity are the norm; LinkedIn tends to be slightly more professional. The tone of a blog post is informal yet may be presenting data or big ideas. Blogs also often prompt the reader to comment, respond or take action. All these things impact tone. It’s important to flesh out your voice then make slight adjustments to master tone.

4. Be readable! Being interesting and relevant are part of this, but what I really mean here is look at your syntax. Are your sentences too long? Are there too many compound sentences? Are the sentences hard to read because of this? I’ve seen sentences with multiple clauses that run for days it seems. And maybe they have a lot of great points. But nobody’s going to read them. It’s too overwhelming. Mix up the sentence lengths, and aim for brevity.

5. Stop trying to impress everyone with your vocabulary! I love words. I’m a word nerd that as a child read the dictionary. My vocabulary is impressive. However, I know that for something to be clearly understood by the masses, it should be on a sixth grade reading level. For example, write use not utilize. It’s that simple.

6. Avoid passive voice if possible. Showing action helps keep a reader’s attention so the subject of the sentence should be acting out the verb. It’s not completely unavoidable. Just be aware!

Brands must change to continue to be relevant. Voice is a big part of that. Communication continues to change. Think about how texting has affected writing. I do text, but I rarely abbreviate. You may get a chapter from me. I made be old school. That’s fine with me. I think it’s important to temper cultural communication shifts with principles of good writing. And of course much of it goes back to audience and reflecting on how they speak.

My last thoughts on this subject are back on internal communication. Brands have worked so hard to create a human voice. But everybody’s still talking to each other like there was no evolution. Jargon and clichéd phrases still punctuate every meeting and email. There’s eye rolling (maybe that’s just me), but it seems harder to change how we speak to each other than how we speak externally. I think we all deserve to read and hear words that sound human.

What’s your take on voice, tone and jargon? I’d love to hear the words you hope to never hear or read again!

Are Big Brands Failing at Social Media?

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Big brands know how to execute on social media, right? They’ve got the top talent and lots of dollars. Yet, when really investigating how big brands use social media, they seem to have forgotten some of the basics of engagement.

I’ve read about rules of promotion versus information sharing and keeping the ratio balanced. For instance, promote three pieces of content, events or specific articles about your organization then share five pieces of content that are specific to your industry. Because it doesn’t have to always be about you.

I am a big believer in the inbound marketing methodology, which focuses on using relevant, useful content to engage your audience and therefore turn them into qualified leads. And I’ve written a lot of content that aspired to do just that – except most of what I wrote was educational in nature and not self-promoting. Yes, you have to promote your services and products and how they bring value. But to me, it becomes a bit condescending and off putting to only share content on social media that masquerades as informational. I’m not saying the content doesn’t have value. Does it really need to always end with a pitch?

Here’s what I found looking at three major financial institutions and their social media accounts.

Institution One

LinkedIn – 486,000 followers

Content Shared:

  • Infographics and blogs of original content that leaned more toward education
  • Third party stories relating to industry
  • Promotional posts

Comments, shares and likes were steady. And the institution actually replied back to comments creating a conversation!

Twitter – 230,000 followers (main account; many additional sub accounts for targeted groups)

Twitter content is a bit more fun. They retweet many of their followers, look back at history and show tweets from employees. There is high engagement with likes and retweets as well as conversation. There are links to relevant content as well as links to third party content. This is really a great Twitter feed and evidence of a well executed social media plan.

FaceBook – 900,000 Likes

FaceBook content is pretty similar to other two platforms. If anything, it is even more consumer friendly and fun. Content includes videos, fun facts, flashbacks, promotions with incentives and updates on events. Employees and customers were featured. The videos were really nice and sharp and had large shares.

Institution Two

LinkedIn – 690,000 followers

Content Shared:

  • Blogs and resources with more of an educational slant
  • Third party stories relating to industry
  • Promotional posts

Comments, shares and likes were slightly higher than Institution One. No interaction from actual brand in comments.

Twitter – 440,000 followers (main account; man additional sub accounts for targeted groups)

Again, the Twitter posts are more fun and a combination of content: employees, customers, promotional and informational. The brand retweets when appropriate and responds. Engagement in retweets and likes is steady but not earth shattering.

Facebook – 2.3 M likes

This institution has the largest amount of users engaged with its brand on FaceBook. I found the content to be similar to LinkedIn and Twitter. The content was really relevant to what was going on both in the financial world and the corporation itself. There were a lot of likes and shares around the fun content. There were no content posts from third parties.

Institution Three

LinkedIn – 54,000 followers

Content Shared:

  • Promotional content (awards, executives honored or interviewed)
  • Links back to website or articles that are specific to the brand and its services

Comments, shares and likes are minimal. There were few interactions from brand in comments. This institution has sporadic posting and does not provide relevant, informational content or third party stories.

Twitter – 24,000 followers

Twitter content is more personal, highlighting specific stories from customers. However, this isn’t translating to more engagement. Likes and retweets tend to be in the single digits. There is interaction between brand and other tweeters.  They are trying to engage the audience by asking questions, but it isn’t catching. No third party content observed.

FaceBook – 56,000 likes

The content was really unchanged from what was on LinkedIn and Twitter. There were a few posts that attempted interaction by asking questions about the company’s history. In these posts, I did see interaction from users and the company. Many content shares were relevant to specific industries they serve. No third party content was posted.

Conclusions

There’s no real winner here. Each of these brands is doing some things right. I would just urge every brand to take more of an inbound approach to social media. It shouldn’t always be about your content or your promotions. There are lots of great third party content providers that have relevant things to say about your industry. Sharing other people’s content can make your social media pages seem more authentic rather than one long advertisement. I do love that most of these brands used stories from real customers and real employees, showing a very human side to corporate America.

Regardless of how big or small your brand is, social media is a great tool to increase awareness and convert. My biggest tips would always be:

  • What is the value of someone following you or liking you?
  • How can I use social media to create connections and relationships with current customers and prospects?

If you can answer these two questions, then you can build a strategy and determine your goals. If you can’t answer these questions then you probably won’t be able to legitimately use social media as a channel. It’s not impossible to answer these questions, and the answers can change. Social media isn’t something you set up one day and then never touch again. It’s a daily reexamination and measurement of what is effective.

My last word of advice is don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a beautiful thing that teaches an important lesson. So go out there, and try something new. It’s better than just posting stuff that isn’t relevant or engaging!

Domino’s Wins at UX, Focuses on the Details

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Did you know that Domino’s is a technology company? They just happen to sell pizza and a lot more? That’s how they like to think of themselves, but it was an evolution. One that started with the brand in major crisis back in 2008.

They even admitted that their pizza was terrible. So they got honest and serious about improving that. Here’s a great rundown of how and why they did it by Jeff Beer.

So the food improved, and the technology made ordering a pizza an easy and fast experience. They understood that online ordering and focusing on the user experience would result in more orders and more dollars.

So as a customer who orders online, I love the app. It lets you customize everything, which is super important to me as a picky eater. They’ve thought about everything down to the smallest detail to eliminate frustration. So here’s the smallest thing they are doing, which makes me love them even more. When it comes to a point in the process to enter numbers (telephone, credit card, etc.), the screen that pops up are numbers only! Typically, the keyboard pops up, and you must navigate to numbers, which is clumsy and annoying. But simply by understanding that I have to punch in numbers and then presenting me with just numbers, it’s genius and so simple. It makes it a better user experience.

A Friendly Reminder on Retargeting Ads

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Retargeting ads can be part of a great inbound marketing strategy. Yet, most retargeting ads are missing the mark. Retargeting ads are not like traditional banner ads because they “target” prospects that have already been to your website through cookies. I won’t go into the how to set up retargeting. I’ll let Hubspot’s awesome blog post do that for you.

However, I do have some experience with retargeting in a B2B setting. Most retargeting ads are B2C. Example, you are online shopping and view several pages and maybe even put something in a cart but don’t checkout. A retargeting ad may pop up on the next site you view with an offer of 20% off your next purchase. The ad is attempting to convert you to a sale.

B2B retargeting can also offer some of the same things – an offer of free trial or demo. But when I was using retargeting, I used the ad to promote a content piece that aligned with whatever previous interaction the prospect had with the website. For instance, if they had been viewing information on the volunteer platform then the retargeting ad offered an ebook on that topic.

In my opinion, this is the way to use retargeting, but I rarely see this. In fact, most of the offers for B2B or even B2C (with the exception of retailers) drive you straight to a landing page to sign up for the service. Wait, I’m not ready! These brands are clearly not taking into account the buyer’s journey. Or even worse, the ads don’t lead you to a landing page at all; just a page from the website. How can you measure this if there’s no call to action? This could also inflate bounce rates tremendously on that page.

But one of the biggest fails of retargeting ads that I continue to see is not suppressing internal IP addresses. Employees often visit your website – of course they do because either they need information or just want to see what’s new. But then to retarget them later after they leave is a huge fail, and it’s costing you real money.

If you are going to use retargeting, which I highly recommend over traditional banner ads, then determine the objective and goals of your strategy. Then optimize the design and the offer attached to the ad to drive goal conversion. Otherwise you are allowing precious marketing dollars to fly out the window with no hope of a return. It’s amazing how some of the largest companies with huge budgets and layers and layers of marketing employees forget the little things. So consider this your friendly reminder!