Archive for ‘General Marketing’

December 3rd, 2014

6 Surprising Facts About the Millennial Consumer

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We all think we intuitively “get” the Millennial consumer – hip, digitally savvy 20-somethings who would rather text than talk and who run their lives from their ever-present Smartphones.

But a great deal of misinformation exists about Millennials, even as they continue to grow in consumer power and influence. Has their reliance on technology impacted how they communicate? What influences their purchasing decisions? How do their relationships with friends and family inform other areas of their lives?

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This year, Influence Central set out to get a deeper understanding of Millennials and surveyed more than 1,100 Millennial women born between 1979 and 1993 for their views on everything from technology platforms to purchase habits to privacy in a digital world.

Their responses revealed a complex profile of a rising generation eager to make their own mark in the world around them. Consider these surprising facts about this influential generation:

  1. They Chart Their Own Consumer Journey: Millennials stand out from their Gen X and Boomer predecessors when it comes to their path to purchase. Instead of the linear course of earlier generations, Millennials follow a circuitous approach – filled with fact-gathering, inspiration, browsing, peer education, and more – that all intertwines with one another. Not surprisingly, 58% of Millennials consider themselves very engaged in consumerism.
  1. They Seek Out New Experiences: Millennials – who believe themselves to be intrepid explorers – constantly look for new products, experiences, and adventures that they can spontaneously share. They love to uncover cool new products or trend spot to find their next big adventure. In fact, 53% consider themselves independent thinkers, as well as say they are the first of their peers to try new things.
  1. They Don’t Look for Leadership Opportunities: Despite their quest for adventure, Millennials don’t do it to establish expertise or followers – instead they prefer to stay on more of an equal footing with friends and family as they share information online. Unlike previous generations who sought out leadership opportunities, just 5% of Millennials use social media to be considered an expert, and more than 40% say they don’t measure their personal success against others on social media (28% say they do).
  1. They Proactively Gather Opinions: While Millennials remain independent thinkers, they place considerable value on the opinions of their friends and family members. Before making a purchase, they’ll seek insight from those in the know and query friends, peers, and family members for their thoughts and opinions. In fact, 93% of Millennials have made a purchase after hearing about it from a family member or friend, and 87% trust products after conducting their own research, which typically involves significant crowdsourcing from friends.
  1. They Don’t Share Everything on Social Media: Even though they’ve grown up as the first generation surrounded by social media and technology, Millennials do identify boundaries in what they’ll share publicly. Fifty percent think twice about posting a status update or tweet, and more than 40% say they never check-in on social media. In addition, only 28% of Millennials will post more updates now than they did previously. This online sharing/privacy dichotomy represents an example of the contradictions that exist within this demographic – as well as some of the misinformation that’s out in the marketplace about Millennials.
  1. They Still Value In-Person Connections: This online vs. in-person connection represents another example of how this generation doesn’t fall neatly into buckets. While Millennials may navigate their lives in an online world, they still seek out in-person recommendations, and this feedback does influence their purchasing decisions. For example, nearly 70% seek in-person, word-of-mouth recommendations for food and beverage spends, and more than 65% of Millennials look for personal recommendations when considering vacation options.

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Overall, reaching Millennial consumers can represent a challenge for brands because they differ so significantly from the generations that came before them, and the approaches that worked for Boomers and Gen Xers simply don’t resonate with this cohort. But by gaining a better understanding of how Millennials communicate, make purchasing decisions, and interact with friends and family, brands can go a long way in successfully connecting with them.

To listen to a recent Influence Central Webinar on Millennials, click on this audio link and this SlideShare link.

About the Author: Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central, is a social media strategist, attorney, and best-selling author. A frequent national and international speaker, she consults with brands on consumer and social media trends. You can reach her at stacy@influence-central.com.

 

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

December 1st, 2014

Five Rules of Grammar You Can Ignore (Despite What Your English Teacher Told You)

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One of the nice things about my job is that I receive a lot of free books from well-known marketing authors like Erik Qualman, Dave Kerpen and Lon Safko. Usually, these are shipped to me direct from the publisher in the hopes that I’ll read them and write a review on the 60 Second Marketer. As nice as it is to get the free books, I just don’t have the bandwidth to read each one, let alone write a review.

But a few weeks ago, I received a review copy of Everybody Writes by Ann Handley, who is the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs. My intent was to sit down, skim a few pages and then put it up on the shelf with all the other review copies I’ve received in the last year.

So, I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee and started reading a few pages. Then I read a few more pages. And a few more pages.

Before long, I realized that Ann’s book is a must read for any businessperson interested in improving their writing. And that means you.

Her book is packed with useful information and helpful tips that even seasoned writers need to re-visit. Better still, Ann’s book is written in a light, engaging style that makes reading it pure joy.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share a short excerpt from her book that you might find helpful. It’s about five grammar rules that your third grade teacher said never to break, but that Ann Handley says are okay to ignore.

Break Some Grammar Rules. (At Least These Five.)

High school composition classes tend to lump a lot of rules into writing – many of them telling writers what not to do. But you’re not writing to please your teachers anymore. Many of those prohibitions refer to the so-called mistakes that occur naturally in speech. I encourage you to safely and fearlessly break those rules and to make those mistakes in writing – but only when doing so lends greater clarity and readability.

  1. Never start a sentence with and, but, or because. And why not put and, but, or because at the beginning of a sentence? Because Ms. Dolan didn’t like it? That’s the way I heard it, anyway. But now that I’m a grown-up I realize that she was wrong. Why? Because all three can add energy and momentum to a piece. They can keep the action moving from sentence to sentence.
  2. Avoid sentence fragments. It’s perfectly fine to sparingly add sentence fragments for emphasis. At least, sometimes. (Like that.) (And that too.) (And this.)
  3. Never split infinitives. There’s supposedly a rule that says you can’t let anything come between to and its verb. Mignon Fogarty (who runs GrammarGirl.com) says this is an imaginary rule. She writes, “Instead of ‘to boldly go where no one has gone before,’ the Star Trek writers could just [as] easily have written, ‘to go boldly where no one has gone before.” But they didn’t. You, too, can split if you wish. But be careful not to change the meaning or create too much ambiguity, as GrammarGirl notes:

Sometimes when you try to avoid splitting an infinitive you can change the meaning of a sentence. Consider this example:

Steve decided to quickly remove Amy’s cats.

The split infinitive is “to quickly remove,” but if you move the adverb quickly before the infinitive, you could imply that Steve made the decision quickly:

Steve decided quickly to remove Amy’s cats.

  1. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. It has been said that after an editor changed his sentence so it wouldn’t end with a preposition, Winston Churchill quipped, “This is the kind of impertinence up with which I shall not put.” Awkward. “This is the kind of impertinence I will not put up with,” is perfectly fine. One big unless: “You shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition when the sentence would mean the same thing if you left off the preposition,” GrammarGirl notes. “That means ‘Where are you at’ is wrong because ‘Where are you?’ means the same thing.
  1. Never write a paragraph that’s a mere one sentence long. In school, I was taught to write paragraphs with no fewer than three sentences and no more than seven. Modern marketing has pretty much choked this one dead, because white space helps online readability tremendously.

But it bears emphasizing: one sentence, set apart, is a great way to make an important point crystal clear.

I’m not kidding.

Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley, is available at fine bookstores everywhere.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley. Copyright (c) 2014 by Ann Handley. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

Jamie Turner is CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, a marketing communications agency that works with well-known brands around the globe.

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

November 26th, 2014

The Best Business Advice I Ever Got

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 5.58.40 PM I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for tips and techniques to grow my business.

In order to stay up-to-date on new tips and techniques, I read a lot of books from authors like Steven Covey and Tony Robbins (yes, Tony Robbins, who gets pegged as a motivational guy, but who is actually a super-brilliant businessman).

I also read a lot of blogs (Michael Hyatt, Razor Social, Business Insider, etc.) and newspapers (the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are my favorites, although I don’t always have a subscription).

Long story short — I have a steady flow of ideas coming my way about how to improve my business and how to improve my personal performance. Many of these ideas are delivered by people who have had massive amounts of success, so I listen to them closely.

But the best piece of business advice I ever got was from my brother, who is not a Wall Street icon or a famous blogger, he’s a very humble guy who goes to church every day and works as a piano technician.

From those humble roots came this game changing business advice, which is deceptive in its simplicity, yet revolutionary in its scope.

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Let me explain.

As you know, software works by taking a line of code, executing that line and then moving on to the next line of code.

The best software has millions of lines of code that continuously build upon one another. The result is that the software runs amazing things like space ships, Google, your smartphone, nuclear power plants and other important stuff.

But if the first line of code is wrong in any of that software, then the whole thing goes kaput.

In other words, no matter how well-written and smart lines 2 through infinity are, if the first line of code is wrong, the it doesn’t matter what the rest of the code says to do — it just doesn’t add up.

Many people in business (myself included) need to examine their first line of code. After all, if your business decisions are made with an errant first line of code, then no matter how good the rest of your business decisions are, they won’t do squat for your business.

Let’s take a look at some flawed first lines of code:

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I’m sure there will be a few people who disagree with my point-of-view that these are flawed first lines of code. After all, don’t all successful businesses put their customers first? (The answer is no.) And don’t businesses always succeed when they have happy employees? (Again, the answer is no.) And shouldn’t you always enter in to agreements that are win/win? (No — There are times where I’ve intentionally been the loser in an agreement in the short run, in order to ultimately have a win/win arrangement in the long run.)

That’s not to say that those lines of code shouldn’t be in your mix, it’s just to say that it shouldn’t be your first line of code.

So, what’s your first line of code?

The answer is going to vary depending on your industry, the company you work for  and the job you’ve been assigned to do. But my first line of code — as the CEO of a marketing communications firm — is this.

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This line of code is so important that I have it written on the white board in my office as a reminder. After all, I’m just like you in that I get distracted, side tracked and unfocused at times.

In fact, I probably suffer from that more than you do, which is why I have my first line of code written on a white board 3 feet from the tip of my nose.

Why is this line of code so important for me? Because if I don’t have a relentless focus on revenue generation for my company, then I don’t have customers or employees to worry about tomorrow.

Remember, there are other lines of code that follow this one — millions, in fact. But the first line of code (for me, anyway) has to start with revenue generation. After all, without revenues, your company doesn’t grow, and if your company isn’t growing, it’s dying.

All this begs the question — what’s your first line of code? What, given your role, is the first thing you should be thinking about as you execute your job?

Let me know in the comments below — it’ll be great to read them!

 

Jamie Turner is the CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, a marketing communications agency that works with national and international brands. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

November 12th, 2014

Why Bose Should Invest in Fan Conversation, Not Lawyers

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NFL fans suddenly have a lot to say about Bose headphones. Unfortunately for the brand, none of it is going to help them increase sales.

The NFL confirmed last week that Bose would be exercising its right as the league’s “official audio provider” to keep rival headphones out of the picture. From now on, you won’t be seeing your quarterback wear Beats by Dre headphones during any post-game interviews. Instead, the only headphones you’ll see onscreen from a player’s pre-kickoff ritual to 90 minutes after the game, between pre-season training and the Super Bowl, will be Bose.

Not because the players prefer the brand. Because they are contractually forbidden from wearing anything else.

Not surprisingly, Bose’s heavy-handed marketing tactics aren’t sitting well with either of the company’s main target groups: NFL fans and audiophiles.

“Just think of wearing Bose headphones as an NFL player like wearing a McDonald’s visor while [you are) working the drive-through,” wrote one commenter on Endgadget.

“Better sound through marketing,” quipped another on Deadspin.

Ouch.

Bose makes a great product. I have three pairs myself. However as the C.E.O. of a word-of-mouth marketing agency, it pains me to see good brands start bad conversations about themselves. The key to word-of-mouth marketing is getting consumers to share stories about why they love your product or service. There are a few simple steps to making that happen—and not one of them is “use lawyers.”

If you want people, particularly influencers, to share stories about your brand, you need to give them stories that check three boxes. These stories must be interesting, relevant and authentic. Influencers—people who love to tell others about the coolest stuff to buy and do—don’t share stories that they don’t think will be interesting and relevant to their listener. Otherwise they risk boring them and losing their audience (influencers need an audience like football fans need large-screen TVs).

But most important, a shareable brand story must be authentic. “All my friends swear by their Samsung Galaxy.” “My grandmother says that the Bissell Sweeper is the only sure way to get Christmas tree needles out of that rug.” “Every cop I know swears by his Maglight so they must be tough.”

There is nothing authentic about forcing professional athletes to wear your headphones. No audiophile or NFL fan will ever tell his friends to try these headphones because he saw a linebacker switch brands to avoid paying a league fine. Today’s sophisticated consumer knows the difference between an authentic endorsement and a paid-for visual. It’s the former that gains more customers, not the later.

The truly sad part is that Bose has long built its reputation on world-class audio engineering and then having consumers share their experiences with others. Remember those little cards about Bose that the company includes in each case so when someone asks you about your headphones you can share the info with them quickly and get back to what you are doing?

I can’t recall a single celebrity spokesperson who made me want to buy a Bose product but I do know a dozen business travelers and/or musicians who travel more than I do and they all use and talk about Bose so that’s why I bought mine.

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At the heart of Bose’s brand is a very authentic story: “People who really know music will pay more to have the best equipment.” Finding ways to have more conversations with consumers about that story is a better use of resources than taking away players headphones like some kind of elementary school hall monitor.

Better sound through marketing, as the Deadspin commentator put it, that’s the other guy’s game. The biggest knock on Beats by Dre has always been that the sound doesn’t match the hype. Thus Bose is already well positioned to dethrone its competitor—it just has to do what it does best, which is make great headphones, and encourage Bose fans to share with others why they love Bose.

Of course, Beats is currently the 800-pound-gorilla of the headphone world. It owns 61 percent of the over-$100 headphone market, whereas Bose owns just 22 percent, according to market research firm NPD Group. People also used to buy a lot of Reebok Pumps, Chrysler cars and listen to disco. This too shall pass.

Why rely on rule of law when you could rely on referrals from friends, which we all know in the social-media age is far more effective than traditional, top-down marketing? Bose should be using its money to live up to its slogan and encourage others to share what is interesting, relevant and authentic about their product. That is the path to success in today’s market.

Ted Wright is CEO of Fizz, a word-of-mouth marketing firm in Atlanta, Georgia. His book, Fizz: Harness the Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth, is now available at fine book sellers nationwide.

 

 

 

Archive for ‘General Marketing’

November 10th, 2014

7 Secret Ingredients of an Impeccable Sales Email

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Email is the first port of call for most sales and marketing teams in the B2B realm owing to its ease of use, comparatively low technology requirements, and the quick turnaround time that it affords.

Whether it is a cold call or a pitch, a follow-up with a lead or nurturing a potential customer, handling an existing customer or offering service to an existing one, email allows marketers to handle each task with élan.

B2C marketing teams are not too far behind in their use of email in their marketing. As a conversion tool, email marketing has proven itself over the years to be highly effective. What’s more, over 52% of all marketers increased their email marketing budgets in 2014.

A recent Email Marketing Benchmarks Study by eMarketer reports that: “The average order value from customers acquired via email is also 17% higher than those acquired from social media channels.”

Email marketing is easy to measure and analyze, which makes it unparalleled in its ability to help us understand where sales are coming from. And email marketing makes sense for both the B2C world and the B2B world. After all, the final readers in both cases are individuals so the effect of media channels on them ought to be similar.

What follows are 7 secrets you can use in your email marketing to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

  1. Get inside the mind of your prospective customers

An email campaign is only as good as the research that goes into it.

In a B2B scenario, study your client’s business inside out. Understand what their pain points are, what their victories were, what they are currently working on. All of these will help you get a sense of what to offer to the client and be more relevant to their immediate needs.

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A B2C campaign needs to send targeted communications to its users based on the wealth of big data that they have at their disposal. An email campaign promoting women’s running shoes to a male athlete is a waste of time and effort. Worse, it tells the user that you have no clue about their real needs, prompting them to ignore future communications that you send them.

Track users across different interfaces and loop data back into personalized emails.

Whether online or in physical stores, you can track user behavior and profiles to deep levels these days. Click tracking, browsing behavior or actual purchases tell you a lot about each individual user.

Use this information in creating personalized emails for your customers. After all, studies show that relevant, personalized communication results in higher conversions.

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Source: Monetate
  1. Use a real person’s name in the “from” field to increase opens by 33%

It pains me every time I receive email from excitingoffers-noreply@some-site-on-behalf-of-some-other.com. If your subscribers don’t see the name of your site, app, or CEO (best) in the Sender field of your email, why should they waste time in opening it? If at all it chances to beat their spam filters, it probably won’t even register in their minds.

Customers tend to not bother opening emails that they think are from unknown people or brands they have never interacted with. According to a study by Marketing Sherpa:

“A ’from name’ test showed a 33% increase in Open Rates, by using a person’s name and not a brand. But it also resulted in a 150% increase in Unsubscribes.”

Use your CEO’s name if she is a recognizable personality, for the ‘From’ field in your emails. Go with your brand name if that is more recognizable. A trusted, known name is always a better deal than random unknown email ‘From’ names.

While marketing agencies like Distilled (Will Critchlow), QuickSprout (Neil Patel) and WordStream (Larry Kim) put this practice to good use, it’s a great sight to see a major brand like Ralph Lauren building connections in this way.

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Imagine opening your inbox and seeing a direct mail from the CEO you adore, of a brand you love and use!

  1. Make sure your content is scintilating

You might get the subject line spot on and make a customer curious enough to open your email. But if your content is not worthwhile, it will ensure future emails from your brand don’t get opened.

Equip your B2C emails with a strong headline that clearly communicates the gist of the email. The content of the email should have a clear offer, pricing information (if appropriate to the stage of communication) and an unmissable, unambiguous Call to Action.

A B2B email should begin with a strong opening line that makes a connection with the reader instead of wasting the opening line on boring self-introductions that the user couldn’t care less about.

  1. Offer the user something special to entice them to read

82.4 billion B2C and 100.5 billion B2B emails are sent every single day. An average user is inundated with an avalanche of unsolicited and spammy emails on a daily basis.

If you want your communication to stand out, offer the user something special, something that would prompt them to look forward to hearing more from you.

This can be in the form of valuable information like research studies, infographics or whitepapers. It could even be really attractive deals and monetary enticements like discounts, freebies, referral bonus, extra loyalty points, and so on.

  1. Create a sense of urgency with time-bound offers

However great an offer maybe, unless there’s an end-date to it, no customer is pushed to whip out their wallets right away.

This email from TigerDirect has the right combination of a strong headline, an offer that creates a real sense of urgency, and a call to action button that it is loud and clear.

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To make sure your email communication inspires action immediately, create time-bound offers while clearly spelling out when the offer expires. Similar tactics like ‘Limited stock’ offers or special deals for the ‘first 50 customers’ make users want to capitalize on the opportunity while it lasts.

  1. Increase your reach by including social sharing buttons

A truly great sales email inspires users to share it with friends and family who have similar interests. Nudge them to do this by including social sharing buttons alongside each key piece of information. It could be a tweetable quote, a tempting offer shareable on Facebook, or a cute image they can’t resist pinning.

Another great way to ensure visibility to users above and beyond your mailing list is to include a prominent ‘forward to friends’ button on your email.

Typetec encourages users to forward the email to their friends using a prominently placed button in a contrasting color at the top right of the email.

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  1. Increase open rates 50% by using triggered emails

Remarketing company SaleCycle estimates that abandoned shopping carts will cost $3 trillion in online sales in 2014. But there’s a simple and extremely effective way of bringing back customers who ditched your site – triggered emails sent within hours of shopping cart abandonment.

Triggered emails are those you send out based on the behavior or profile data of your site visitors or customers. According to the Epsilon Email Trends and Benchmarks Study 2013, open rates for triggered emails stand at about 50%, while CTRs are around 10% (double that of business-as-usual emails).

In fact, SaleCycle found that such triggered emails for abandoned shopping carts yield revenues ranging from $15.23 (fashion & lifestyle category) to $ 1.48 (food & drink category) per email sent out.

Nordstrom keeps it simple and classy. Their cart abandonment email shows an image of the abandoned item and offers a prominent click through link directing the user to the product page to complete the transaction.

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An effective triggered email for abandoned shopping carts should be extremely personalized with the user’s name, details of the product left behind in the cart, a link and images of the product left behind and a clear call to action encouraging users to retrieve the abandoned cart before it expires. Abandoned cart emails are usually sent out in sets of 2 to 3 emails, with the next set of emails containing a small incentive like a discount or free shipping to entice an immediate purchase.

There’s still room for early adopters in this space. Adopt an integrated email tool like GetResponse’s auto-responder to configure triggers that make sense to your brand, schedule your message cycles, and template out what you want to say in each of them.

Closing Thoughts

Break down your brand’s marketing lifecycle and device-specific email communication strategies using the secrets mentioned above as the foundation for your plans. Once you have the overall direction chalked out and the routes planned, it’s only a matter of following the signs and driving through to your final destination. Here’s to many happy journeys ahead!

Rohan Ayyar works for E2M, a premium digital marketing firm specializing in content strategy, web analytics and conversion rate optimization for startups. His posts are featured on major online marketing blogs such as Moz, Search Engine Journal and Social Media Today. Rohan hangs out round the clock on Twitter @searchrook – hit him up any time for a quick chat.