The Power of Ideas and Collaboration, and a Brief History of Social Media Marketing

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I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Bill Sobel for CMS Wire, where I shared some thoughts on ideas and collaboration, but also on how past experiences laid the groundwork for the present state of marketing. For instance, I shared a few thoughts on the evolution of search and social:

It was, at the time, a Herculean effort for marketers to shift from focusing on their reputation in Google to their actual reputation. Google was almost a distraction. It’s as if marketers cared so much about sweeping the sidewalk in front of their store that they weren’t paying attention to the people shopping there.

Another big change is that media companies didn’t have any great ways for brands to reach people via social channels. Facebook in its fairly early days was tapping Microsoft to sell banner ads on its site. Meanwhile, MySpace let advertisers somehow make its site even uglier than it was before. It’s as if every ad was designed by Michael Bay. Marketers could also connect with bloggers, but even the word “blog” sounded like a noise people make once they realized they got food poisoning. Marketers weren’t in a rush to change tactics.

Read the full interview and let me know what you think. 

March 4th 2015 Marketing

How To Build An Email List

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[This is part of short series I am doing on explaining the basics. I’ll be linking to other parts of the series from the bottom of each article as they come]

build-email-listNo matter where you are in our promotional stage, you need to build yourself a good email list. Here is why: emails go to people. They go directly to their inbox, on their request, and provides them with important information and links, while giving you a chance to sell to them. All while you go to them, not the other way around.

With social media, you are competing with constant content from others around the web. On a Twitter feed, your tweet can be lost in an instant. On Facebook, it may never even reach their primary page. Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn? Same problem.

But when you use an email to connect, you are going right to their inbox, where they check every day. There are no distractions, as they will take more time to go through messages they find interesting or engaging, without flipping over to that cat video their second cousin tagged them in.

How to Build Your Email List

There are a lot of step-by-step email-building tutorials out there, but they make it a lot more complicated than it needs to be. Building an email list is as easy as just gathering names. More important is the work you put in to let it grow.

Here are some tips to take your email list from zero to hero fast.

Tip 1: Create A Call To Action On Your Website

Your biggest asset for a mailing list is your website. Your sidebar or footer can mention your list, or allow them to sign up for a newsletter. You can create a popup when they visit a page that asks them to sign up. Not to mention, you can put a CTA at the end of blog posts, telling them that they will never miss an update or important information again.

Just asking people to sign up will give you a lot of results.

Tip 2: Use Social Media To Drive Traffic

Social media is an important marketing tool, but also a tool for traffic. People click links to websites, they follow those links to your content, and from there you can advertise your mailing list. That is how the two can be incorporated into a combined strategy. Then you can increase your social followers by promoting your profiles in your emails.

Tip 3: Create A Landing Page

A good landing page is worth its weight in gold, especially when it comes to gaining email signatures. It is attractive, to the point, and creates a direct link to you and the user. According to research done by Search Engine Land, the conversion rate of landing pages can be as high as 5.31%. You should consider creating one specifically for your mailing list.

Tip 4: Use Registration For Perks

Having content that is only accessible by members is a great way to get people on a mailing list. It could be for special content, ebooks, videos, or posts that have more information that the usual articles posted on your site. They have to give you their email address to gain access.

You can also offer discounts and other perks.

Tip 5: Host A Webinar

Webinars are becoming increasingly popular, especially free ones. Not only does this offer you a chance to expand the content you provide, but it also gives you a great email mining opportunity. You can even provide “materials” for the webinar, such as resource lists that will be helpful to those who watch. So you will have permission to begin sending emails on a regular basis, in a more creative way than your average newsletter.

Take It To The Real World With QR Codes

If you provide a tangible product, or if you go to a lot of events that allow for networking, you should consider creating a scannable code that can be used through a smartphone and immediately signs people up for your mailing list.

Plenty of people have code scanners now, as they are offered free on both iOS and Android platforms. So start expanding into the real world, so you can target an even bigger audience.

If you have business cards that you have out locally, this is an absolute must. Just imagine how many people you can attract in your own neighborhood!

Tools For Creating Your Email List

If you want a professional tool that will help you send emails more easily, you can try these. They offer both email list building, custom newsletters, compatibility with design editors, and monitoring software for seeing your reach and success.

  • Customer.io: A pricy option in comparison to many others, it is also a lot more thorough. You have the option of four different accounts, starting at $50 per month for 5,000 profiles, and a per profile cost for anything after that. It send 10,000 free emails, and then adds to the bill as you increase your use. The higher the account, the more content and profiles allowed.
  • Campaign Monitor: This service is cheaper, and works with both a basic and unlimited account. You have a set amount of subscribers, and then emails you can send to them. It starts at only $9 a month, or you can pay per campaign.
  • MailChimp: With three plans to choose from, MailChimp will tailor your plan to your needs. So pricing will depend on your selections and what you can budget, making it more customizable.

Conclusion

Having a mailing list is crucial, and also rather simple. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will reap the benefits. So get started today, because every day counts.

“Let’s get to basics” series:

The post How To Build An Email List appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

March 3rd 2015 Marketing

10 Simple Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out

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Finding employment isn't easy in this competitive job market, but social networking site LinkedIn is a logical place for job seekers to start their search and get a foot in the door. And after landing a job, the site—which boasts more than 347 million users globally—can help users keep up with thought leaders and industry peers. 

Job seekers can make their LinkedIn profiles stand out from the crowd with simple changes like updating their information regularly, and posting and sharing content. We sat down with LinkedIn director of corporate communications and career expert Catherine Fisher, who gave us 10 tips to help bolster your profile. 






February 26th 2015 Marketing, Technology, video

Franchise SMBs To Spend 1/2 Of 2015 Ad Budgets Online

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Franchise small and midsize businesses plan to spend about half of their annual ad budgets on digital, according to a new report from BIA/Kelsey. It found that these businesses, on average, spent $87,165 on advertising and promotion during the 12 months ahead of the survey, which is up from $57,072 the year prior. On average, they spent 39.1% of their total ad budgets on digital media during that time.

Those same businesses said they intend to increase their digital spend to 42.9% of their total ad budget during the 12 months following the survey, which compares to 33.8% for SMBs overall.

“Franchises are one of the most distinctive SMB segments,” said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey. “In almost every metric, franchises act differently from the overall SMB sample. In general, franchises are taking a tighter and more disciplined approach to their customer relationships. They’re using more marketing tools and platforms, loyalty programs and social media.”

BIA/Kelsey says the the businesses it surveyed “demonstrate a remarkable willingness to experiment” with digital media and platforms. When it comes to social, 26.4% use Twitter, 24.6% use Twitter ads, 15.7% use Instagram, and 11.5% use Pinterest.

The Twitter numbers are interesting. Earlier this month, Twitter announced a new ad offering aimed at SMBs called “Quick Promote,” which lets them promote their best performing tweets from the Tweet activity dashboard.

“Promoting a Tweet takes just a few clicks and your Tweet will automatically be targeted to users who have interests similar to your followers — the audience that is most likely to be interested in your message,” said product manager Buster Benson. “Whether you’re Tweeting about a new product, promotion or blog post, Promoted Tweets can help you drive measurable business results. In fact, we found that users who see a relevant Promoted Tweet from an SMB are also 32% more likely to visit that business.”

If you’re a small to midsize business just getting started on Instagram, Gary Jordan of TheInstagramExpert.com recently shared some thoughts on that with us here. On the subject of Pinterest, we also spoke with with longtime Pinterest marketer Vincent Ng, and got some great tips about that.

2.6% of those franchise SMBs surveyed by BIA/Kelsey use mobile banner or display ads, while 21.6% use mobile deals, and 19.3% use text messaging. 23.6% use online deals, while 22.6% use website video, and 16.3% use video banner or display ads.

“Many franchise SMBs work with digital or advertising agencies, with 49.3 percent reporting they have worked with an agency for two years or more,” the firm says. “Among those that work with an agency, 87.7 percent are either ‘very satisfied’ or ‘extremely satisfied.’ The most widely used channel by franchise SMBs for purchasing online advertising is their advertising/digital agency (36.5 percent), followed by TV stations (28.9 percent), self serve without assistance (28.2 percent), self serve with assistance (27.9 percent) and newspapers (26.9 percent).”

Take a look at this infographic they put together illustrating some of the survey’s findings:

We recently looked at another study by BrightLocal, which found that despite finding online marketing effective, half of SMBs allocate less than 30% of their marketing budgets to online channels.

“I found this figure a little perplexing when you consider the other responses SMBs gave,” BrightLocal CEO Myles Anderson told us in an interview. “75% said online was effective at bringing in new customers & 3 of top 4 most effective marketing channels are ‘digital’. Yet SMBs allocate a disproportionately low % of their marketing budgets online.”

That study also found that there is a direct correlation between the number of employees the business has and the monthly online marketing budget. Here’s a look at company size vs. planned spend on internet marketing for this year:

On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it now has over 2 million active advertisers, building on its 30 million businesses using Pages. It also launched a new Ads Manager mobile app, which will help businesses manage their budgeting from their phones (iPhone only for now, Android coming later this year).

Facebook has not been incredibly kind to small business online marketing budgets over the past year or so. What businesses were once able to get for free, they’re now having to pay for more and more.

We recently talked about this with Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith, who told us, “I would recommend that low budget[s] be allocated to what are called ‘dark posts.’ That is, ads in the News Feed that look like a Page wall post, but don’t actually appear on the Page. With very granular targeting to reach the exact target market, small businesses can do exceptionally well using Facebook. In addition, making use of custom audiences is a must. This is where a business can upload its own email database, or segments thereof, and place ads in the News Feed to that target group. Plus, using website custom audiences helps a business to retarget its website visitors with Facebook ads.”

“Being able to boost (and target) posts that are already performing well is a great help to small businesses,” James Whatley, the social media director at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, London, recently told us in another interview. “The SMEs we work with tend to put aside a small ‘slush fund’ of media spend to work into their social channels as when these opportunities arise. Definitely worth doing.”

Here’s more on how SMBs can deal with Facebook’s recent News Feed changes.

Image via BIA/Kelsey

February 25th 2015 Marketing

Damages from Competitive Keyword Advertising Are “Vanishingly Small”

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Photo credit: "Score on the finger" // ShutterStock

Photo credit: “Score on the finger” // ShutterStock

Competitive keyword advertising lawsuits typically lose on their merits, but in this particular case, the defendants conceded that their AdWords campaign contributed to trademark infringement. Nevertheless, the defendants contested damages, and the court tells an oh-so-familiar story:

Apparently, Defendants bid on 14,057 keywords with their AdWords accounts. The evidence shows that 14 (or 0.1%) included the word “bandago.” Of those 14 AdWords, only three generated any clicks at all. Each of those three keywords generated exactly one click. In other words, Defendants’ bids on infringing keywords from November 2008 to April 2009 resulted in a total of three visits to Defendants’ website. Even assuming all three visits were from different users, that each would have rented from Bandago absent the advertisements, and that each of those users proceeded to rent vans from Defendants instead, Digby’s actual damages attributable to the infringing AdWords must have been vanishingly small.

How do you think the judge reacted when he realized these stakes? I imagine he thought to himself, “REALLY????”

Yet, this is hardly the first time we’ve seen a federal case made out of something as trivial as 3 clicks (to be clear, the keyword ads were an ancillary issue in this particular litigation). Here’s a roster of some other dubious keyword advertising lawsuits:

  • Storus v. Aroa: the defendant advertiser got 1,374 clicks over 11 months. Based on the low cost of the goods at issue, I estimate each click was worth about $1–making the lawsuit’s value less than $1,400.
  • King v. ZymoGenetics: the defendant advertiser got 84 clicks.
  • Sellify v. Amazon: the defendant got 1,000 impressions and 61 clicks.
  • 800-JR Cigar v. GoTo.com: the search engine defendant generated $345 in revenue (not profit, just revenue) from the litigated terms.
  • 1-800 Contacts v. Lens.com: Lens.com made $20 of profit from competitive keyword ads. 1-800 Contacts unsuccessfully tried to hold Lens.com responsible for affiliate ad buys which generated about 1,800 clicks, which under the most favorable computations were worth about $40,000. 1-800 Contacts spent no less than $650k (and was willing to spend $1.1M) on its lawyers in this case.
  • InternetShopsInc.com v. Six C, the defendant got 1,319 impressions, 35 clicks and zero sales.

As I’ve said repeatedly, suing over competitive keyword advertising is almost certainly a bad business decision.

Case citation: Digby Adler Group LLC v. Image Rent a Car, Inc., 2015 WL 525906 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 6, 2015)

Some Related Posts

* More Defendants Win Keyword Advertising Lawsuits

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Fails Badly

* Duplicitous Competitive Keyword Advertising Lawsuits–Fareportal v. LBF (& Vice-Versa)

* Trademark Owners Just Can’t Win Keyword Advertising Cases–EarthCam v. OxBlue

* Want To Know Amazon’s Confidential Settlement Terms For A Keyword Advertising Lawsuit? Merry Christmas!

* Florida Allows Competitive Keyword Advertising By Lawyers

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Unceremoniously Dismissed–Infostream v. Avid

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Fails–Allied Interstate v. Kimmel & Silverman

* More Evidence That Competitive Keyword Advertising Benefits Trademark Owners

* Suing Over Keyword Advertising Is A Bad Business Decision For Trademark Owners

* Florida Proposes to Ban Competitive Keyword Advertising by Lawyers

* More Confirmation That Google Has Won the AdWords Trademark Battles Worldwide

* Google’s Search Suggestions Don’t Violate Wisconsin Publicity Rights Law

* Amazon’s Merchandising of Its Search Results Doesn’t Violate Trademark Law

* Buying Keyword Ads on People’s Names Doesn’t Violate Their Publicity Rights

* With Its Australian Court Victory, Google Moves Closer to Legitimizing Keyword Advertising Globally

* Yet Another Ruling That Competitive Keyword Ad Lawsuits Are Stupid–Louisiana Pacific v. James Hardie

* Another Google AdWords Advertiser Defeats Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

* With Rosetta Stone Settlement, Google Gets Closer to Legitimizing Billions of AdWords Revenue

* Google Defeats Trademark Challenge to Its AdWords Service

* Newly Released Consumer Survey Indicates that Legal Concerns About Competitive Keyword Advertising Are Overblown

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February 14th 2015 Marketing

More Defendants Win Keyword Advertising Lawsuits

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I’m reporting results in keyword advertising lawsuits as I see them. TL;DR: defendants keep winning. Two more rulings supporting that proposition:

CollegeSource, Inc. v. AcademyOne, Inc., 2015 WL 469041 (3d Cir. Feb. 5, 2015). (some citations ommitted) See my blog post on the district court ruling, where I explained:

The lawsuit involves two competing web services that help college students research options for transferring to other colleges. CollegeSource sued AcademyOne for a long laundry list of perceived wrongs, including competitive keyword advertising.

CollegeSource owns the trademarks “CollegeSource” and “Career Guidance Foundation.” AcademyOne purchased the keywords “college,” “college source,” “career guidance,” and “career guidance foundation” in Google AdWords. Its ad copy displayed the titles “College Transfer Help” or “Find Transfer Information” and the domain name “collegetransfer.net,” but didn’t include CollegeSource’s trademarks. The court granted AcademyOne’s summary judgment motion because, among other reasons:

* CollegeSource presented “sparse” evidence of actual consumer confusion given that AcademyOne got only 65 clicks on its ads in one month.
* AcademyOne’s ads were clearly presented to consumers in light of “the entire context of the advertisement’s appearance, especially the clearly differentiated [Sponsored Link] text boxes and the fact that CollegeSource’s name does not appear within the language of the advertisement.”
* Internet users are becoming more careful searchers generally, and the complexity and expense of college transfer decisions means that students will be especially careful.

The appellate court affirms in an efficient opinion:

In this instance, A1 paid Google to display ads for “www.collegetransfer.net,” an A1 offering, when the user searched for terms including “college source,” and “collegesource.”

To succeed on a claim for trademark infringement or unfair competition under the Lanham Act, CS must prove that: (1) it owns the mark at issue; (2) the mark is valid and legally protectable; and (3) A1’s use of the mark is likely to create confusion. Checkpoint Sys., Inc. v. Check Point Software Tech., Inc., 269 F .3d 270, 279 (3d Cir.2001). The first two elements here are not in dispute. The District Court thus properly focused on the “likelihood of confusion” element by applying the test we adopted in Interpace Corp. v. Lapp, Inc., 721 F.2d 460, 463 (3d Cir.1983), drawing additional guidance from the Ninth Circuit’s recent holding in Network Automation, Inc. v. Advanced Sys. Concepts, Inc., 638 F.3d 1137, 1148–54 (9th Cir.2011).

The District Court’s careful analysis on this point concluded that the strength of CS’s mark was outweighed by: (1) the lack of evidence of actual confusion; (2) the expected savviness of internet users seeking out college-transfer information; and (3) the distinct labeling of Google’s advertisements. On that basis, the Court found no likelihood of consumer confusion that would support a claim for trademark infringement. We agree with the District Court’s factual findings and legal conclusions on this point, and see no need to reiterate the same analysis in further detail.

___

M-Edge Accessories LLC v. Amazon.com Inc., 2015 WL 403164 (D. Maryland Jan. 29, 2015). (some citations omitted)

The court says competitive keyword advertising isn’t “unfair competition”:

an Amazon employee acknowledges “creat[ing] a sparkle specifically for M–Edge keywords that also directs to Accessories homepage.” [A] “sparkle” is a link displayed alongside search results for an M–Edge product that directs a user to another company’s related product. Amazon has admitted to bidding for searches based on the M–Edge keyword. M–Edge engages in the same practice with its competitors’ keywords. Amazon presents legal authority supporting the permissibility of such practice. See 1–800 Contacts, Inc. v. Lens.com, Inc., 722 F.3d 1229 (10th Cir.2013); Network Automation, Inc. v. Advanced Sys. Concepts, Inc., 638 F.3d 1137 (9th Cir.2011). Therefore, this conduct cannot serve as a basis for a claim of unfair competition.

Another good citation would have been Overstock v. SmartBargains.

The court also says competitive keyword advertising isn’t false advertising:

Amazon used what it referred to as “sparkles” to direct consumers using M–Edge keywords to the Amazon accessories page. M–Edge contends that this practice is a false or misleading description of fact or misrepresentation of fact. As stated in Playboy Enters., Inc. v. Netscape Comms. Corp., 354 F.3d 1020, 1035 (9th Cir.2004) (Berzon, J., concurring):

If I went to Macy’s website and did a search for a Calvin Klein shirt, would Macy’s violate Calvin Klein’s trademark if it responded (as does Amazon.com, for example) with the requested shirt and pictures of other shirts I might like to consider as well? I very much doubt it.

See also Wells Fargo & Co. v. When U.com, Inc., 293 F.Supp.2d 734 (E.D.Mich.2003) (holding no likelihood of confusion for pop-up advertisements for non-Wells Fargo vendors displayed in response to “Wells Fargo” keyword); U–Haul Int’l, Inc. v. When U .com, Inc., 279 F.Supp.2d 723, 728 (E.D.Va.2003). Since Amazon’s use of “sparkles” would not constitute a literally false statement, M–Edge would have had to produce extrinsic evidence of consumer confusion by virtue of their use. M–Edge has not done so.

Another good citation might have been Heartbrand Beef v. Lobel’s, holding that competitive keyword advertising isn’t a Lanham Act false designation of origin.

___

Some Related Posts

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Fails Badly

* Duplicitous Competitive Keyword Advertising Lawsuits–Fareportal v. LBF (& Vice-Versa)

* Trademark Owners Just Can’t Win Keyword Advertising Cases–EarthCam v. OxBlue

* Want To Know Amazon’s Confidential Settlement Terms For A Keyword Advertising Lawsuit? Merry Christmas!

* Florida Allows Competitive Keyword Advertising By Lawyers

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Unceremoniously Dismissed–Infostream v. Avid

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Fails–Allied Interstate v. Kimmel & Silverman

* More Evidence That Competitive Keyword Advertising Benefits Trademark Owners

* Suing Over Keyword Advertising Is A Bad Business Decision For Trademark Owners

* Florida Proposes to Ban Competitive Keyword Advertising by Lawyers

* More Confirmation That Google Has Won the AdWords Trademark Battles Worldwide

* Google’s Search Suggestions Don’t Violate Wisconsin Publicity Rights Law

* Amazon’s Merchandising of Its Search Results Doesn’t Violate Trademark Law

* Buying Keyword Ads on People’s Names Doesn’t Violate Their Publicity Rights

* With Its Australian Court Victory, Google Moves Closer to Legitimizing Keyword Advertising Globally

* Yet Another Ruling That Competitive Keyword Ad Lawsuits Are Stupid–Louisiana Pacific v. James Hardie

* Another Google AdWords Advertiser Defeats Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

* With Rosetta Stone Settlement, Google Gets Closer to Legitimizing Billions of AdWords Revenue

* Google Defeats Trademark Challenge to Its AdWords Service

* Newly Released Consumer Survey Indicates that Legal Concerns About Competitive Keyword Advertising Are Overblown

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February 12th 2015 Marketing

Recipes For Practical Customer Experience Design & Optimization – Buyer Legends

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miseenplaceThis is an important post that Anthony Garcia wrote on the Buyer Legends blog

If I gave you a recipe some of you would be thrilled and others not so much. You can cook a gourmet meal that will have your taste buds fox trotting. I know that to be true. When it comes to food there are alternative ways to acquire a great meal. However, when cooking up great customer experiences there are no alternatives. If you want customers to to tell the only story that matters, why they love your company, you’ll have to learn how.

Have you ever followed a recipe only to find that you aren’t ready for the third step? I have. The results? Frustration and a poor meal. A few years ago it was takeout or starve, but now, I love to cook. I credit mise en place, that’s French for having having everything in its place as you cook, for my conversion from takeout king to aspiring chef. Mise en place is a small amount of effort expended up front that actually saves me tons of time and guarantees tasty dishes.

The Buyer Legend process is like a recipe for designing great customer experiences. You can use Buyer Legends to define and improve your content marketing, social marketing, search marketing, conversion rate optimization and thereby improve your communications, execution and revenues. You just need to follow the recipe. We’ve published a basic Buyer Legend recipe  but I’ll be adding more detail in this series.

I’ve been training clients and staff in the Eisenbergs’ processes’ for over a decade, Let me show you how to prepare mise en place for the Buyer Legends process.  This is the first in a series of articles that will address each major step of the Buyer Legends process.

Pre-mortem because it is the antidote to Murphy’s Law 

First we’ll explore the most impactful step of the process, the pre-mortem. Some of our largest conversion wins over the last two decades ever were the result of our clients going through the pre-mortem exercise.  Murphy’s law states that everything that can go wrong usually will and a pre-mortem will help you spot previously invisible problems in your current customer experience as well as plan against future problems. But the pre-mortem step is not for the faint hearted as it may show you things about your precious baby that are not as attractive as you wanted to believe.  The only thing that makes a pre-mortem more powerful is by doing a pre-mortem on a persona by persona and then scenario/ campaign by scenario basis. Read the first Buyer Legend Recipe Post here...

Reverse chronology because it explains conversions

Assuming you have a product or service worth buying then you and your customers have the same goal.  You want to sell and they want to buy. That’s why when you are planning a customer experience it is always best to start at the end point and work your way backwards to the beginning.  This step requires you to get very specific about how and why every decision and action needs to be taken in the buying journey.  It’s specificity also makes this step important to measuring and optimizing your customer experience when you finally implement it. Your Buyer Legend isn’t fiction so every detail must be accounted for, not only that but you must create persuasive momentum at every step.

Persuasive momentum because there’s no such thing as a sales funnel

Your customer isn’t truly in a funnel. There’s no gravity compelling them through your experience like there is in a real funnel. There is only the customer’s motivation and your understanding of that motivation to create persuasive momentum. Persuasive momentum is the progressive decision making process that aligns the customer’s goals with our own business goals. I’ll show you the three step test that will insure your customers’ experiences are always relevant, valuable and compelling.

Personas because their motivations become your action plan

Personas are a common marketing tool, but their value is often misunderstood. Simply put, personas should inform you about exactly what you need to be doing. Personas can be elaborate constructs based on reams of research and data, or they can be constructed quickly with data and information at hand, but as long as they are directionally accurate reflections of a segment of your customer they can be powerful tools that will guide your Buyer Legends processes. I will be discussing how to construct ad-hoc personas as well as help you evaluate and if needed fix your current personas if you have them.

Write a Buyer Legend because the only story that matters is your customers’ story

This is the step when you actually pull out your pots, grab a spatula and fire up your burners.  I will tell you all the ingredients to include so you can have them at the ready. This is the step where all your previous work begins to pay off and when you’re done you will have an action plan that can be distributed, implemented, tested, and optimized.  A Buyer Legend is where the rubber meets the road.

Measurement because if analysts cannot tell the stories and business people cannot measure the stories then the strategy isn’t truly aligned with customers’ needs.

Your Buyer Legend isn’t fiction, it’s not for fun or for entertainment, or even for creative fulfillment.  This is business, and anything important to a businesses success should be measurable and accountable.  Buyer Legends are both and I will give you a primer on measuring, optimizing, rinsing, and repeating.

The Buyer Legend process orchestrates your best efforts and reconciles them to the needs of your customers so you can create profitable customer experiences.  If you want to become even more legendary at using this process I challenge you to follow this recipe series. I look forward to your feedback, questions, and hearing your success stories.

As always, we encourage you to try Buyer Legends for yourself, but if you need help, please let us know.

The post Recipes For Practical Customer Experience Design & Optimization – Buyer Legends appeared first on Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg.

February 12th 2015 Marketing

Google Isn’t Liable For Including Unlicensed Locksmiths in Directories–Baldino’s Lock v. Google

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Photo credit: scratch around Old key hole // ShutterStock

Photo credit: scratch around Old key hole // ShutterStock

Some states, including Virginia, require locksmiths to obtain state-issued licenses. Baldino’s Lock & Key, a licensed locksmith, is unhappy about being on the same search results pages as unlicensed locksmiths. It sued Google and various business directory providers for commingling licensed locksmiths with presumably illegal unlicensed locksmiths.

This is an easy Section 230 win for Google. The court says:

The immunity extends to all information posted that does not originate with the defendant…A publishing website is immune under the CDA even when given notice that it has published false information.

Here, any false information came from the unlicensed locksmiths. Ergo, Section 230. You might have expected the court to stop there, but no.

Baldino’s alleged that Google and the business directories were a RICO. Even if true, the court should have said that any civil claim based on a federal crime is preempted by Section 230. See Hinton v. Amazon, Doe v. Bates, Obado v. Magedson, MA v. Village Voice, Dart v. Craigslist and GoDaddy v. Toups (sigh).

Instead, the court rejects the RICO claim on its merits. Baldino’s lacked standing because it didn’t detrimentally rely on the misinformation, and Baldino’s didn’t allege facts with sufficient specificity/particularity to support the substantive claim elements.

The court also rejects the Lanham Act false advertising claim on its merits. The court apparently thought the claim fit into the IP exception to Section 230–another mistake. The court’s explanation smacks of Section 230 even though it’s not talking about Section 230:

the unlicensed and illegal locksmiths are the advertisers that made representations that appeared on the Defendants’ websites. To hold Defendants liable for misinformation appearing on their websites, which originated with third parties, is a drastic conclusion the Court declines to endorse. The Court believes the market incentive for Defendants to provide correct information to consumers is a better tool for accuracy than the Lanham Act.

No arguments from me on the policy conclusion, but I’d need to research the Lanham Act false advertising cases to see if this is actually consistent with the law (I’m pretty sure it isn’t).

For a better handling of Section 230 and false advertising, see American Income Life Ins. Co. v. Google, Inc., 2014 WL 4452679 (N.D. Ala. Sept. 8, 2014), a case that has festered in my blogging queue for 5 months. The plaintiff’s real target was the negative coverage of it on PissedConsumer and Scam.com, but it sued Google under Alabama’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act for indexing the allegedly false coverage. The court said that Google qualified for Section 230 because “plaintiffs’ Complaint fails to allege that defendant Google created the content that plaintiffs’ contend disparages American Income Life.” This would also have been true in the Baldino’s case.

Case citation: Baldino’s Lock & Key Services v. Google, Inc., 2015 WL 402927 (E.D. Va. Jan. 27, 2015). The complaint.

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February 4th 2015 Marketing

Facebook Marketing Expert Mari Smith On Utilizing The Social Network’s New Features

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Over the past year, Facebook has crushed the organic reach of the posts published by many Pages. It’s harder than ever to get exposure in the News Feed without paying for it. Still, Facebook has launched new features, including tools specifically for Pages, which do create some potential for new opportunities.

We wanted to get some thoughts on some of these from a true Facebook marketing expert, so we reached out to Mari Smith, author of of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day.

Search

Facebook has made some big improvements to its search experience, adding keyword-based search to bring up post results, among other things. You can now find who has said what about any given topic. Are there opportunities for businesses here?

“The ability to search for posts seems to be rather buggy and needs much improvement,” Smith tells WebProNews. “So far, despite a myriad of search tests myself, I’m not finding it terribly useful. Over time, however, as refinements are made, businesses will be able to surface any post created by users on their personal profile, shared with public. Ideally, we’ll also be able to surface posts made by Pages, too.”

Asked if she sees Facebook’s search feature becoming more of a go-to destination for users in light of its improvements, Smith says, “Not yet. Facebook’s search has a long way to go. It will be interesting to see just how widely users have taken to the new tabbed design of the search results page. It’s not that obvious, at first. And, it’s not even that obvious how to search and surface items such as friends’ photos, places, events, etc. My guess is most users simply use the search bar for looking up other users’ profiles. Facebook would do well to provide further education/tutorials on how to optimize search.”

We also spoke with Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin about Facebook search recently. He doesn’t see Facebook search becoming very significant anytime soon either in terms of being a place where users regularly go to look for information.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked a bit about search during the company’s earnings call last week.

“So, our view on this is that there is a lot of unique content that people have shared in Facebook, a lot of personal content, recommendations from friends that you can get that you just wouldn’t be able to get through a traditional web search service or other app,” he said. “And we’re on this multiyear voyage to basically index all the content and make it available to people and rank it well. We started off by launching graph search which I think included more than a trillion different connections in the first system.”

“And the second round of the search progress that we just started rolling out at the end of last year was post search, which now has indexed more than I think a trillion posts, which I mean the sizes of these corpuses are bigger than anything in a traditional web search corpus that you would find,” he added. “So it’s an interesting and fun challenge to make this work. We’re seeing that people immediately understand how they can use this and find content that they’ve seen in News Feed before or that they’ve posted with just a few keywords.”

In terms of what types of content might work best for Pages when it comes to visibility in Facebook search, Smith tells us, “Visual wins the game for organic, paid and search results – whether images or video. Our brains process images, especially containing real people, much faster than words. Plus, our attention spans have reduced, so the quicker businesses can communicate their message in a visual manner, the better. Videos under 60 seconds are ideal, with a blend of informative and entertaining, if possible. Notice when we do a search on Google, the row of YouTube video thumbnails always stands out!”

As you’ve no doubt heard, Facebook video is booming. Facebook has been promoting that fact throughout the new year (it was another big theme of the earnings call).

“Shorter, timely video content tends to do well in News Feed,” Facebook says. “Keep in mind that auto-play videos play silently in News Feed until someone taps to hear sound, so videos that catch people’s attention even without sound often find success.”

Trending

In December, Facebook made some big improvements to its Trending feature. For one, it became available on mobile. Secondly, it added new sections for different types of content. Whereas before, it was basically a jumble of news stories with varying degrees of personal relevance, the experience is now split up into: Articles, In the Story, Friends and Groups, Near the Scene, and Live Feed.

The Articles section shows coverage of the topic from various news organizations. The In the Story section shows posts from people who are actually part of the story. Friends and Groups shows what people in your network are saying about the topic, and the Near the Scene section shows you posts from people near where the story is unfolding.

“Regarding the ‘Trending’ feature at the top right of our desktop News Feed, similarly to Twitter’s trending topics, it does seem to have reasonable usefulness in terms of seeing what the majority of users are discussing,” says Smith. “Personally, I’d also like to see Trending broken down into locations and possibly friends vs. public.”

“Also, in yet another News Feed ranking algorithm change, Facebook introduced a feature that gives more priority to posts that receive comments, likes and shares promptly after the post was published,” she adds. “The speed at which users respond is a signal that it could be a hot, trending topic. Pages would do well to pay attention to the response time of their posts, tracking the types of posts and subjects that generate the fastest response.”

Small Business Marketing

Due to the aforementioned decline in organic Page post reach, many businesses have grown frustrated with Facebook marketing.

Asked if she still sees Facebook as a viable platform for marketing a small business (especially one with a low marketing budget), Smith tells us, “Yes – I would recommend that low budget be allocated to what are called ‘dark posts.’ That is, ads in the News Feed that look like a Page wall post, but don’t actually appear on the Page. With very granular targeting to reach the exact target market, small businesses can do exceptionally well using Facebook. In addition, making use of custom audiences is a must. This is where a business can upload its own email database, or segments thereof, and place ads in the News Feed to that target group. Plus, using website custom audiences helps a business to retarget its website visitors with Facebook ads.”

“Facebook recently introduced a new ad feature called ‘Conversion Lift Measurement’ to help advertisers track better ROI, especially offline sales,” she adds. “Although the new metric is only available to select large advertisers, this is great news for small businesses when the feature eventually becomes available.”

More on Conversion Lift Management here.

“In addition, we’ll soon see the rollout of Facebook’s ‘Atlas’ advertising product that allows retargeting and tracking via mobile devices,” she adds. “Retargeting typically works via cookies; however, cookies don’t work on mobile. The way Atlas works, is advertisers can then place ads to remarket to visitors whether they view on desktop, mobile or tablet. In other words, reaching the exact audience no matter what device they’re on.”

“Page owners may wish to try out the new organic Interest Targeting feature to see if that helps create a greater reach,” she says. “Prior to publishing a piece of content, admins can pre-select subsets of their fanbase. Another recent change is the ability to create a Post End Date – this stops a post from showing in News Feed at the specific time/date that you wish. Handy for, as Facebook states, ‘a publisher can use this to remove yesterday’s weather report from News Feed.’”

We talked more about these features in an article here.

Image via Mari Smith, Facebook

February 4th 2015 Facebook, Marketing, Social Media

Emerging Ecommerce Technologies That Will Change How We Market

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robots-holding-hands-each-otherIt is sometimes very challenging to keep up with the break-neck pace at which new technology is being released. I find myself spending a lot trying to wrap my head around all the changes and I try to anticipate how new technology will affect how we market and how we keep a dialogue going with customers.

Here are some of the latest innovations that are sure to impact how we get our message out there and keep customers coming back in the coming years:

Beacon


A beacon is a wireless device that broadcasts a signal to mobile phones and tablets that are within a transmitters proximity. When a device – like a mobile phone or tablet – picks up on the signal from the transmitter, location-based actions can be triggered. Also, beacons can identify location with better accuracy than GPS can. Additionally, beacons do not need to be connected to wireless. Beacons are a great way to provide a more rich experience to in-store shoppers. Some intriguing applications of this technology are:

Instore notifications for relevant information & offers


Target Cartwheel and Walmart’s App Savings Catcher are the beginning of apps that create a more seamless online/offline experience. For example, Savings Catcher compares certain eligible items on your receipt against advertised competitor deals in your area, and you can get a Walmart giftcard for the difference. Just as in the web-world, offer apps tend to be very sticky and Savings Catcher is incredibly well aligned with Walmarts brand promise.

An interesting iBeacon implementation that I’ve been following is from InMarket, who has sensors set at a Giant Eagle and Safeway grocery stores. The way the app works is that when the app is installed on a users device who is in range of an iBeacon, offers or notifications are pushed right to their devices. The ibeacon can reach a user with their phone in their pocket. Apparently the app has features for mobile coupons tailored to user preference, shopping list reminders, and eventually mobile check out.

Combating ‘Showrooming’


Showrooming is when a shopper in a brick and store location looks at products, price compares online and buys online. Although how prevalent showrooming is is, contested, it is definitely a worry for retailers. Having a beacon in place creates an opportunity to get in front of a potentially showrooming customer with an offer.

Data Warehousing


As I personally reflect, I think one of the marks of 2000’s is having tons of data and well, drowning in data and having tons of different systems producing all different kinds of data. I think the future will bring centralization to data and we will be  connecting all the reams and reams of customer data in one location to have a full understanding of customers no matter what channel or digital medium their coming from. Although the technology is not exactly new anymore, how to approach this is a lively area of discussion in the industry:

However you slice it, getting data more connected is going to be a priority. According to the Marketing Intelligence Data Warehouse Forecast 2015 – 2020, “the global data warehouse market is predicted to grow by 8.3 percent in 2015-2020 passing a total market value of $20 billion by 2020″ On the digital marketing side, one of the things that I am seeing is even free analytics providers like Google anlaytics are now allowing for some integration with third party data.

AMM in marketing


In a great introductory video by Maria Belottini on the topic, Belottini discussed the potential role of artificial neural networks (AMM), which seek to to imitate the principles/reasoning of human brains. AMM has the capacity to gather non-linear and classify data from different places and if data is missing, machines can recognize patterns and draw conclusions. The data can be analyzed, patterns can be identified, and targeted messages can be sent out. In my opinion, this one is a little ahead of its time for most ecommerce websites.

I recently watched a PBS documentary-  the ‘Persuaders’ – which interviewed marketers from the MadMen hayday of marketing, the time when TV first became a fixture in many households. The documentary discussed how at first, people did not know exactly how to leverage television and that is why early on, much of the television you watched was a guy in a suit standing still and reading off of a teleprompter.

The documentary concluded with that this is where we are with the internet, we are at that same awkward stage where we are making sense of all the new emerging. The documentary is from 2004, which is old in internet time but the message still still resonates today.

The post Emerging Ecommerce Technologies That Will Change How We Market appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

January 31st 2015 Marketing