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The-customer-experience-wakeup-callThe Wake Up Call For Customer Experience

Being that it is Saturday morning there are some of you who are fortunate not to have to wake up early to go to work, an event or meeting, but I am sure that all of you have stayed in a hotel for an important business meeting or event at one time or another and have called the front desk to ask for a wakeup call because you were worried about being on time for that important meeting and did not want to trust that alarm clock on the nightstand not being sure if you knew how to set it properly or if it worked at all.

Or maybe you set the alarm clock or in today’s world your cell phone but used the wakeup service as a backup to insure that one or the other would get you up on time. Talk about being nervous but I think most of us have been there at some point on some level.

Well, I am hoping that this post will make you aware of the alarms being sounded today and:

  1. Serve as a “reality” wakeup call to bring you up to date on the need of providing a great customer experience.
  2. Remind you what you should be focusing on in today’s customer relationship focused marketing environment.
  3. Explain the reality of the consequences you face if you do not provide a great customer experience
  4. And make you a bit nervous about getting it right by doing the right things.

Let us remember that creating and retaining customers is what always has been at the core of any business and without them there would be no business-And today those who provide the better customer experience will be the leaders.

What has changed is how we need to communicate and interact with customers and the need to provide a genuine customer friendly experience. The marketing environment today is too transparent to rely on “outdated” or “good enough” practices or worse- none at all. 
 

Customer Experience

Do you really understand what customer experience is? Customer experience is instilling trust and confidence.  The customer must know that you will live up to their expectations by making them feel comfortable in doing business with you. It also entails staying engaged with them after the sale by showing that you value them as a customer by giving them good service and rewarding them for no other reason than just being your customer.

How you accomplish and fulfill these expectations is critical and according to all the information available the methods being prescribed and used in many cases today are debatable at the least and at worst- downright self-serving.

All of us are customers and as such you must first think of how you as a customer want to be treated.

First Some Realities

According to this article in the Harvard business review the value of the customer relationship now exceeds brand value by a wide margin as “Acquirers have decisively moved from investing into businesses with strong brands to businesses with strong customer relationships.”

Furthermore

In an effort to show business leaders in a way that would hit home and make them sit up and take notice Watermark Consulting, a customer experience advisory firm, did a Customer Experience ROI Study posted at Marketingsherpa to validate its importance through showing the impact it had on stock market values which we all know directly correlates to performance .

So not only is it affecting how potential buyers value your company but also how it is affecting your bottom line.

These findings and developments strengthen the need to find ways to interact with consumers on their grounds. Trying to compete on price and brand today is a losing proposition. It is simply not enough in this ““consumer controlled” environment. In order to compete effectively in this environment companies must provide an exceptional customer experience that will make them stand out above their competitors.

 The Opportunity is Now For

Gaining Market Share through the customer experience

According to this recent post at Business to Business Community written by Gregory Yankelovich there has never been a better time to make giant strides to gain market share over many of your competitors.

Recent studies found that 90 percent of executives say that customer experience is central to their strategies, and 80 percent want to use it as a form of differentiation. The problem is that 86 percent of these executives do not expect to see a significant uplift in business resulting from it. As long as this is the case, nothing will change, and the customer experience mantra will remain just empty words, while their companies continue to compete on price on the race to the bottom.”

Just ask Victor Milligan who said that “Customer experience (CX) has rapidly moved from an ideal to an operational mandate. As Forrester’s CMO, customer experience is one of my four strategic priorities. It’s also tied to my compensation. How’s that for focusing the mind?”

Customer experience management must concentrate on interacting with the consumer and influencing their behavior in ways that communicate with them on their terms. By communicating with consumers in non-intrusive ways these interactions will positively affect how customers feel about your company and their willingness to do business with you and be advocates of your brand.

To succeed in providing an excellent customer experience you must understand how to deal most effectively with them in how you communicate and interact with them.

And The Answer is not More “Push Marketing”

If you are not making customer relationships a priority in your overall marketing strategy or just relying on push marketing practices cleverly disguised today by marketing and technology companies as remarketing and geo-fencing you may not only be offending some consumers-but alienating them .

Granted statistics are showing that these tactics have increased sales but where are the statistics that show how many consumers have turned away from companies practicing this type of marketing-and there are plenty.

Back in 2002, and still relevant today, there was an article published in the Harvard Business Review called: Avoid the Four Perils of CRM written by Darrell Rigby, Fred Reichheld and Phil Schefter. In it, they quoted a Gartnerstatistic which said that:

“55% of all CRM projects don’t produce results”

WHY?

They said that after following ten years of research they had identified four pitfalls that brands fall into when trying to implement CRM (Customer Relationship Management). They were:

Pitfall 1: Implementing CRM Before Creating a Customer Strategy
Pitfall 2: Rolling Out CRM Before Changing Your Organization to Match
Pitfall 3: Assuming that More CRM Technology Is Better
Pitfall 4: Stalking, Not Wooing, Customers

Consumers are inundated with all the ways that exist today to get in front of them and others are developing technology to counter this with technology like ad blockers that according to a very recent article at Chief Marketer by Zach Schapira, “In the long-term if pervasive ad blocking shrinks the supply of sellable inventory (which is already occurring), publishers may try to make up for the lost revenue by raising CPMs for advertisers.”

If consumers are opting out and avoiding the ways in which you are marketing it is time to find other ways that will encourage interaction in a way that they will welcome your contact and become advocates of your brand.

A more recent article published at Entrepreneur magazine which represents how many people feel today entitled “Your Marketing Is Chasing Customers Away! Here's Why” by Jurgen Appelo CEO of the business network Happy Melly. In the article he lists his Three Rules of Marketing:

  1. Pull, don't push. Make sure that people can find you using Google, social networks and/or market places. Attract them with great content. 
  2. Show, don't tell. Make sure people can see with their own eyes that you are awesome. Those who are cool and remarkable don't need to say it. 
  3. Share, don't beg. Don't annoy everyone with 20th-century marketing tactics. Thanks to transparency, when you behave like a beggar, everyone will know. 

Not convinced?

The consumer push back keeps gaining momentum and they are blocking and opting out of receiving ads. Google has just announced that it will be offering a subscription ad blocking service where the consumer can choose the amount of ads they see.

 In the mobile area the current push marketing tactics are facing challenges from privacy groups and now possibly from the FCC that will diminish the effectiveness of this tracking technology and  increase the costs for advertisers to use tactics that are offending consumers. 

There are also other technologies and more being developed that are helping disgruntled consumers who do not want to be tracked and fed all this advertising. Faced with Congressional pressure, Verizon said in February that it would revise its program and allow people to opt out of tracking headers. And now the Federal Communications Commission could still step in and tell Verizon that they need to obtain users' explicit consent before engaging in this kind of tracking.

All this tracking and retargeting has shown to be effective but they cannot measure the amount of consumers that are being alienated by this resulting in lost customers that may not patronize these businesses again.

It is time to start finding alternative customer friendly solutions and provide a-

 Positive Customer Experience

The cost effectiveness and benefit of having a customer or potential customer on your site as a community member is immeasurable when comparing it to the cost of campaigns to reach them.

Communities humanize you in ways no other marketing medium can to show customers that you value them and offers you a way to insure against offending consumers with push marketing tactics to interact with them consistently on their terms and provide them with a great customer experience.

Marketing From Ground Zero starts by having a community member platform on your website that you can utilize and adapt to all prevailing winds and turn an existing company resource- your website- your existing customer base - your site visitors and your employees into advocates and influencers as an anchor for your online marketing strategies.

An onsite community can be the jewel in the crown of your online marketing and act as “ground zero” to fuel your overall marketing initiatives. Unlike paid advertising that is fleeting and exits only as long as you are paying, and which consumers are avoiding at an increasing rate, an onsite community is an asset that endures and can provide a solid foundation to continually produce benefits to both you and your existing and potential customers.

No matter what industry you are in an onsite community can create a customer centric culture and provide consistency that will resonate across all your paid, social and owned media channels. And no matter what direction social media marketing takes these communities will act as conduits to reach and attract an audience that can know and understand you and will result in increased brand perception and engagement.

Communities also become data centers for learning the needs, concerns and actions of its customer base through diverse interaction creating a virtual ecosystem that feeds on itself.

There are many different forms that an onsite community can take and each one can be customized to fit each businesses particular needs. In lieu of or in addition to paying professional market influencers you can create ways to make your own customers advocates and influencers by rewarding them with special discounts, offers, drawings and contests for community members along with content and a forum for communication that will keep members (customers) engaged and informed that will pay big dividends in retaining existing customers and attracting new ones for your business.

With social organic reach fast becoming a distant memory as social networks and online advertisers seek to profit from their platforms “ It is time to Look Within” to seek alternative ways in which to effectively reach and draw audiences to build a permanent customer experience friendly foundation that can provide extremely cost- effective ways to control your own destiny and solidify your place for the long term in the online marketing industry.

 A new Forrester Research report released last Monday found that 73 percent of businesses surveyed stated that customer experience is a strategic priority but only 1 percent of companies currently deliver an excellent experience.

That’s a problem, Forrester says, because customer experience (sometimes called CX) has become a more strategic imperative than ever. “Making customers feel valued is the holy grail of CX emotions,” said Megan Burns, a principal analyst with Forrester.

As stated at the beginning of this article there has never been a better time to make giant strides to gain market share over many of your competitors so the time is “Now” to take the lead to improve you own value as a company by showing your customers how much you value them by enhancing their customer experience with an onsite community.

 

Community word image compliments of Kate Evangelista

Why YouNeed A Mobile Solution
First an Important Update!
-An Affirmation

Although it is probably obvious, I would like to first assure you that this post has been written by a real person. But these days according to this article in the New York times I shared earlier this week - you can’t be so sure.

From now on it may be a good idea to clarify this up front so that people know if they are reading something written by an algorithm (software program) or a real person. Otherwise you may be wandering from now on who or what actually wrote the article.

Don’t Need A Mobile Solution? Think Again!

If you are one of the many companies that do not have a mobile solution or maybe even think that you don’t need one-Think again!

As the technological capabilities of mobile devices continue to increase and mobile’s share of total web traffic skyrockets seriously considering creating a mobile version of your website is already past due and most likely costing you money.

For no other reason if you haven’t heard that Google has laid to rest any speculation over their intentions concerning mobile search. On February 26th Google announced "Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results."

Google isn’t going to be penalizing websites that fail to be mobile-friendly but if you have mobile friendly website you will benefit from a lift in ranking over the ones who do not.

If you already have a mobile solution and want to check its mobile friendliness through Google’s eyes they offer a site where you can find out here with their Mobile-Friendly Test.

If you don’t have a mobile solution or a mobile friendly site and this hasn’t raised an eyebrow read on.

Mobile Is Here and the Time to do Something is Upon us

We all know that mobile is playing an increasingly important role in online marketing today just ask the 90% of people who say that mobile devices are a central part of everyday life. There is no part of most of our lives today that is not touched in some way by mobile.

Almost half of all mobile phone users in the United States use their mobile devices to perform product research, including local searches and some sources report that now 80% of local searches on mobile searches phones end in a purchase.

Globally 40% of the world’s population is online. Close to one in three people in developing countries are online and by simple economics many people in developing countries are and will be using a mobile smart phone as an all in one device for their telephone and internet for the utility it offers. Many people in developing countries do not have the luxury of being able to afford a variety of devices.

Here are some more statistics from GlobalWebIndex

Why B2B needs to go mobile

In a recent article at eMarketer they stated that “Business-to-business (B2B) content marketers may need an intro to mobile based on a January, 2015 polling by Regalix which found that mobile played a minimal role in their marketing efforts. Among B2B marketing executives worldwide, just one-third used mobile to distribute content. This trailed every other channel by a long a long shot.”

B2C marketers are generally the early adopters of new technology that B2B eventually adopts. Not to mention that to keep your website fully optimized in Google’s eyes, which should be reason enough, there is just no denying the mountain of data out there that should be convincing on its own.

Also, if potential clients see that you have no mobile solution they might assume that your business is not up with times and using the latest technologies and possibly move on to look for one that is.

New Opportunities

Social media and the global web provided B2B marketers with new ways to penetrate markets that might not otherwise be as effective, efficient or available like location based services (LBS), and using other channels.

Motally states that “80% percent of mobile websites get traffic from at least three regions outside of their own and 72% of mobile applications (“Apps”) are used in four or more regions.”

This means that mobile can open up new avenues to engage with prospects wherever they may be to grow new markets that can drive more revenue to B2B businesses that generally are not restricted to specific regions.

According to the IDG Global Mobile Survey, For senior executives, smartphones are a critical business tool. The majority of senior executives (92%) own a smartphone used for business and 77% percent of executives use their mobile device to research a product or service for their business.

Due to the mobility of professionals today they need to access information, email and to communicate with their office and clients from wherever they happen to be and whenever it is convenient to do so. Mobile devices provide the means to do this.

If you remember one thing and that is Mobile is here to stay and is growing exponentially. Just between August 2013 and August 2014, mobile web usage grew by 67 percent. So if you don’t “Go Mobile” you will undoubtedly soon be on the outside looking in.

Which Mobile Solution is Best?

Once you decide to go with a mobile solution possibly the biggest decision you'll make is deciding on the mobile solution that is best for you. Google supports: responsive, adaptive (dynamic serving) or a separate mobile website solution (separate URLs).

Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Google prefers responsive design but supports all three options as long as long as you have them optimized properly.

Responsive web design: Serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently (i.e., “respond”) based on the screen size. Responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern.

Dynamic serving: Uses the same URL regardless of device, but generates a different version of HTML for different device types based on what the server knows about the user’s browser.

Separate URLs: Serves different code to each device, and on separate URLs. This configuration tries to detect the users’ device, then redirects to the appropriate page using HTTP redirects] along with the Vary HTTP header.

Google does not favor any particular URL format as long as the page(s) and all page assets are accessible to all Googlebot user-agents.

There are varying opinions on which one performs best and then there are hybrids so choosing which one is best for you can be difficult. And as with anything they all have their advantages and drawbacks. There are varying opinions depending on who you talk to so it is best to seek the advice of professionals (plural) who can advise you on the best solution for you based on your type of business, costs and what exactly what your individual goals may be.

And Just when you thought you might be finished There's-

Mobile Optimized E-mail

Yet another factor to consider when we think about mobile is email. According to some key findings in a report by Movable Ink 66% of emails were opened on a smartphone or tablet-Smartphone 47.22%, Desktop 34.26%, and Tablet 18.51%.

If your emails are not optimized for mobile it will make it difficult for recipients to take action and it will most likely have negative consequences on your email campaigns.

In Conclusion- Something to Ponder

All combined, you can see how important having a mobile solution is for your business and the consequences that not having one can bring which includes the negative effects it can have on all of your marketing campaigns.

1. I would like to leave you with this statement below by Samir Sawant , Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.; System Design and Management Program* and-

2. Some visual content with this infographic published in a news release at PR Newswire by SCORE a resource partner with the Small Business Administration that provides free business mentoring services to entrepreneurs in the United States. .

*Samir, “The mobile device has emerged as a powerful sales channel and marketing medium, which these businesses must strategize and plan for. Companies need to be equipped with a framework within which they can develop marketing initiatives through mobile technologies. The world is reaching a point where developing a viable mobile strategy is an imperative for small and large businesses to enable their long term growth and sustenance.”

-What are your thoughts?

Infographic (View Full Size)

* The image Preflight Check for Mobile Optimization Courtesy of Salesforce Pardot

Marketing Practices- What to Believe?

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(Posted on Mar 7, 2015 at 06:10AM by William Cosgrove)

Marketing Practices- What to BelieveEl Gran Truco

I don’t know about you but time is one of life’s cruel tricks. When you are young you can’t wait to grow up and have your independence and experience the world and time seems to stand still. Then before you know it you’re grown up and time starts flying and you wish you could slow it down-And Can’t.

If you enjoy what you are doing and take every day that comes as a new adventure and opportunity to learn something and to make a difference in some way (in your life) you know what I am talking about.

Because then you understand that Knowledge is everything-The more you seek to learn and experience the better your life will be.

On the other hand if you are not happy with your life or your job then you are probably stuck in time and it seems to take forever to pass. If you are of this sort-GET UP?-WAKE UP? And do something about it-Please-You don’t know what you are missing and are just wasting the precious little time we are all given.

Reader Beware (Sometimes We Need a Reminder)

First of all, I would like to point out that I take exception with content that I read during the course of studying and doing research that does not reflect all the information that it could or should include that might lead the average reader with less experience in Marketing Technology to form the wrong opinion or conclusion.

Reader beware as in buyer beware is a term we all know. In the context of this article it is the collection of information necessary to be able to make a well informed decision and shame on you if you are not obtaining this information from a variety of sources and not taking one company’s or persons views, opinions or information as the only source on which to base your decisions.

Not that you don’t already know this but in today’s fast paced and sometimes deceptive media environment time once again may be weighing you down and it is sometimes easy to overlook, make a quick decision or take something as fact especially if that information is coming from a source that you trust.

Often there is limited time and/or resources to sufficiently research all the technology available and discussed and what it really can and cannot accomplish. This type of Content provides a source of information to inform and educate us on current trends and developments on products and strategies. Unfortunately, this content at times might not provide a well informed or objective view.

With today’s rapid advancement of technology the pressures to monetize and the desire to stay ahead of the competition, technology is often brought to market that has not been sufficiently developed or refine enough to do exactly what it is intended or proclaimed to do.

As an example I will refer you to my last article, A Bad Customer Experience - The Cost? - One Cent , where I bring up the following point concerning Marketing automation software.

Marketing automation technology today is evolving but still finds it difficult, especially in B2C, to be able to recognize that people are complex humans that have many different reasons for any particular action they perform.

Every customer’s experience is different and to assume or generalize what a customer’s intentions are can be an ill-advised and hazardous undertaking.

Who and What do You Believe?

It wasn’t too long ago, just last year in fact that the marketing world was advocating that the days of pushing your message on consumers to gain their attention was quickly fading and inbound marketing, pulling consumers through engaging them with quality content was taking prominence and statistics were showing the benefits.

Last year Brian Conlin shared this in an article “It’s no secret that content marketing has become ubiquitous. After all, 93 percent of B2B marketers use it, a bump of 2 percentage points from 2012. However, just how effective content marketing is might surprise you. Despite costing 62 percent less than traditional marketing, content marketing generates about three times as many leads.” 59 Killer Content Marketing Stats: 2014 Edition—via B2C.

If fact if you think about it and tell me if I am wrong, Triggered email, Retargeting and Geotracking are all push marketing disguised behind different names. And many people are pushing back.

Consumers are inundated with all the ways that exist today to get in front of them and others are developing technology to counter this with technology like ad blockers that according to a very recent article at Chief Marketer by Zach Schapira, “In the long-term if pervasive ad blocking shrinks the supply of sellable inventory, publishers may try to make up for the lost revenue by raising CPMs for advertisers.”

With all the technology that is being thrown at us today it is imperative that you have the means through trusted employees, friends or consultant who are on top of the subject you are researching and who can advise you on what you are researching can do and can’t do and what if any drawbacks there may be and if it would even benefit you.

Another example of how confusing things can really get in this recent article entitled “Is Link-Building Dead?” by Marie Haynes Founder of HIS Web Marketing and posted at Search Engine Watch exemplifies how what one person says can be interpreted in so many different ways.

Think for Yourself and what is Best for You

We are all conditioned from the time we are born by society. In one sense, is necessary to have a set of rules on how to behave to be able to maintain a sense of order and basically we have little choice but to conform to what is accepted behavior. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it can be confining and controlling if we accept everything blindly and never question anything.

Marketing companies create ads and content that condition us into taking on too much debt, instilling a must have or keep up with the Jones’ mentality (conspicuous consumption) or the need for all the latest trending products and before we know it, we are living lives created for us by the powers that be many times without our conscious participation.

Keeping up with the pace of change in Digital (Integrated) Marketing is surely one ours and industry’s biggest challenges. You no sooner have implemented one technology another comes along, sometimes from the same company, that claims to be bigger and better than the one you just implemented which may be true or a lot of marketing hype. But do you really need it? Here is where you need to make a well informed and research decision.

So don’t follow the crowd follow find what will work best for you and know the facts and you will be a lot better off for it.

William Cosgrove

A Bad Customer Experience - The Cost - One Cent

Don’t Let This Happen To You!

I was going to post an article this week on the seemingly lack of motivation on the part of many companies to implement an integrated mobile solution. If the mindset of these companies continues and if they neglect to give this the proper attention it will be at a cost much like not having an integrated customer relationship management solution.

After reading the following story I am going to share with you written by Wendy Victora, Managing Editor at nwfdailynews.com, entitled “This penny wasn’t worth the trouble it caused”, I decided to write about another critical issue confronting companies in today’s marketplace and that is Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

This story points out how a mismanaged series of events can expose significant problems and result in a less than desirable outcome.

For the Cost of a Penny

“Last week, my daughter spotted a penny in the parking lot and bent to pick it up.

She had trouble prying it off the ground, coated as it was with disinterest and unknown fluids. After a brief struggle, she gave up and reached for the hand sanitizer.

She’s been collecting loose change lately, mostly from our kitchen counter, and has filled a decent sized jar.

But a penny isn’t worth much anymore, even to scavengers.

I dropped one while paying for breakfast at a drive-through this morning and the cashier told me not to worry about it – she had plenty.

We all do, most of the time.

Last month, I was one short, apparently.

And I didn’t know it until I got a disconnect notice from a local utility company. I knew it wasn’t a normal bill by the angry-colored orange box visible through the window of the envelope.

My service would be shut off Feb. 26, the notice informed me, unless I paid my overdue amount of 1 cent.

I am not making this up.

I had apparently written the check for the wrong amount and triggered the alarm system for being a deadbeat customer.

I was irate and went to bed that night fantasizing about driving to Valparaiso – the nearest customer service center – and handing them the nastiest penny I could find.

When I called the next day, a bored customer service rep told me they wouldn’t cut off my service for a penny.

She said the computer automatically generates those notices.

When I pointed out that, from a customer service perspective, that was a huge fail, she was uninterested.

There was a time when common sense would have kept that notice from being launched.

There was a time when an apology would have been issued.

There was a time when a penny was worth something, when it was a respectable little coin.

But I can’t remember a time when it was worth more than good customer relations.”

You would think that with the technology available to companies today, especially companies that have the resources to break down silos in their customer relationship marketing, would be taking the necessary steps to update their CRM processes.

With the enormous power customers have today to make impact on a brand’s reputation it is imperative to have the right people in front of the customer and the right processes in place to deal with and detect issues across the organization.

Each department and its employees must have access to the information available on its customers, if not each time a customer interacts with the company, that department has to provide the same information over and over again, duplicating effort and wasting time. This is not good customer relationship management is inefficient and frustrating for both customers and employees.

You must also have employees who are motivated to help customers when they call with a problem, not employees who act “uninterested”.

Empower you people to make decisions.

Customers don’t care who they are talking to only that they have a problem that needs to be solved. If they are not connected with the right person and are passed around, customers get the feeling that your business is not organized, no one wants to help them or both.

I am sure that you have all had these feelings trying to solve an issue that is important to you. Require your customer service reps or anyone who deals with customers to treat the people they communicate with in a way that they themselves would want to be treated. Empower your reps to solve the problem in the shortest amount of time possible and everyone will feel better for having found a solution and possibly create some good will.

The Wrong Message

Wendy should have never been sent a bill for one penny. First of all, it probably cost the company more to process that penny they might receive and secondly you don’t want to send customers messages that are going to upset or scare them and then just tell them you were just kidding.

There is only one outcome and that is a lost customer, in most cases, and all the negative word of mouth the customer can communicate to friends, family and across their social channels. Multiplied you can understand that this could have a devastating impact on your business.

And take notice! Marketing automation technology today is evolving but still finds it difficult, especially in B2C, to be able to recognize that people are complex humans that have many different reasons for any particular action they perform online or offline.

Every customer’s experience is different and to think that you can assume or generalize what a customer’s intentions are can be an ill-advised and hazardous undertaking.

Community

You first need to understand that communities should exist to serve the people in it but the residual benefits to your company can be substantial. Companies that understand and respect this can successfully leverage this asset.

Cultivating the customer experience through a Customer Relationship Management Community is a mutually beneficial way to foster communication and trust between you and your existing customers, potential customers and employees through a central hub, your website, which will emanate your customer centric culture across all your social channels and magnify your organic SEO and social reach to increase not only your inbound lead generation to gain new members but benefit all aspects of your marketing strategies.

In fact, many successful brands are successful because consumers organized around them through brand communities and defined what the brand meant. Today, consumers have the power. They can define the meaning of your brand regardless of how you may want to define it. They can also rally around your brand and to become advocates and influencers.

The benefit of having community members is that you can actually understand their wants, needs and concerns through “one on one” communication that is worth far more than assuming or guessing at their intentions and/or pursuing consumers you don’t know around the internet trying to entice them into to doing something they may not have any intention of doing at the risk of alienating them.

Consumers are inundated with all the ways that exist today to get in front of them and others are developing technology to counter this with technology like ad blockers that according to a recent article at Chief Marketer by Zach Schapira, “In the long-term if pervasive ad blocking shrinks the supply of sellable inventory, publishers may try to make up for the lost revenue by raising CPMs for advertisers.”

Why keep spending more and money on ways to figure out how to get in front of consumers that are trying to avoid you when you can, for a fraction of the cost, create a CRM Community to engage and communicate with them on their terms.

Customer Relationship Management Communities act as a portal to gain valuable information through interaction with your customers who will welcome your contact, to enhance and target your marketing initiatives more effectively by knowing your customers and discovering patterns through interaction to build buyer personas to personalize your marketing messages in the most transparent and effective way available today.

The benefits that these communities will bring are the most cost effective way inwhich to engage, retain, manage, nurture and form alliances with your community members, employees and potential customers that will not only foster loyalty and retention but promote your business in the most positive ways imaginable- all combining to raise the bar in defining personalization and customer relations.

Companies with onsite customized CRM Communities can experience better employee relations, customer service, reduced customer complaints and higher brand loyalty. Think of having a central place in which to connect with and understand your customer’s and potential customer’s concerns, wants and needs without assuming or generalizing their intentions.

Oliver Jaeger, Vice President Global Marketing & Communications for e-Spirit Inc. in North America, states in his article How to create a strong customer experience engine, “With so many different ways to communicate with customers, companies have to work harder and smarter to build and maintain strong relationships. And that engagement must span not just the buying phase, but the entire customer journey -- from awareness to purchase to implementation and support -- to create an outstanding customer experience at all touch points and channels.”

Forrester Research also points out that the three most important measurements of satisfaction are:

  1. Effectiveness-The value the customer perceives they are getting.
  2. Ease-The effort the customer must put in.
  3. Emotion- How customer feels about the overall experience.

All of which a properly customized and executed onsite Customer Relationship community can nurture.

A CRM community offers the engine that can pull all of this together onto one central platform located on your website for your business emanating with brand loyalty, influencers and devoted customers.

Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts-go here for more in-depth information on CRM Communities. Then let’s schedule a time to have a “one on one” discussion about customizing a CRM Community for your company.

William Cosgrove

I would like to thank Wendy Victora for allowing me to reprint her story for this post.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better And…….

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(Posted on Feb 21, 2015 at 06:17AM by William Cosgrove)

.....How We Can Often Be Our Own Worst Enemies.

bigger isn't always better

Now and again I take pause, as I did last week from my usual topics on integrated marketing, some of which you can find here on Pulse, to discuss relevant topics that I feel strongly about when it comes to how companies operate and how they make their decisions.

In this post I discuss two different topics that do connect and by connecting them I hope to open your mind to help you look at things from different perspectives and in doing so lead you to make better and more informed decisions.

If you think I succeed in this effort leave a comment and let me know and equally if you feel that I did not.

The Mentor

A smart businessman and mentor once told me a story that has stay with me to this day. Years ago I was in a hurry to purchase a piece of real estate that I thought I could make a good profit on. After I told him about my urgency in wanting to purchase it and not knowing much about it other than it seemed like a good deal he felt that I was in too much hurry to buy and felt compelled to tell me the following story I am about to relate to you, so…………………

The Story

Two Bulls were standing on the top of a hill gazing down below on a beautiful sunny day at a herd of cows that were lazily grazing in a lush green pasture. One of the two bulls was young and sure of himself but lacked experience and was too quick to make decisions.

The other bull was older more mature with the knowledge that comes from learning from his experiences. As they were gazing down at the herd of cows the young bull looked to the older bull and said “Why don’t we run down the hill, and surprise one of those cows and get to know her.”

The older bull, chewing on his cud, thought for a bit, slowly looked around at the herd of cows grazing down below thinking about what the young bull had just said and replied,” Why don’t we just mozy down the hill and get to know them all”

The Moral

Because of how the businessman explained to me through the story he told, The moral of his story has stayed with me to this day almost thirty years later and has served me well and mad me realize why it is important to take my time to research and study each step I took when it came to making important decisions in my life.

“Out Of The Box” - The Psychology

This also enabled me to look at things from different perspectives, explore new ideas and be able to think “out of the box”. Being able to put yourself on the outside looking in is something that takes time, effort and discipline to master. Too often we get tunnel vision because what we know and how we have always done things in our lives tend to get in the way and hold us back. It could be out of fear of the unknown and or being satisfied with the status quo unwilling to change and accept new methods and ways of doing things whether consciously or unconsciously.

As in the young bull’s case, he was just young and inexperienced and to quick to react because this is all he knew, but there are also other deep seated forces at play in our brains. But Instead of getting to deep into the psychology of how our brains work, I will refer you to an enjoyable read I had this week that delves into the psychology of how we often justify or react to resisting change entitled Why Businesses Have a Hard Time Fixing What’s Broken .

By now you must be wandering how this all ties into why bigger is not always better. My intention here is slow you down and open you mind so that you are consciously aware of how our minds work so that you might better absorb the point I want to get across. In other words this is meant to open up your mind to take a more objective view and think “out of the box”.

 

Why Bigger is not always better –

When the bottom line is more important

Big business and influencers in our lives have the resources and have been able to condition us to think feel and react they way they think we should at any given point in time and can miraculously do a complete turnaround without raising the eyebrows of the masses. One year eggs are bad then the next milk then something else and then all of the sudden they are good again. You could also compare it to what was being said recently about SEO and linking in search engine marketing. How can this be? Maybe it is through new research. then we must ask who is doing the research, but many times a lot of it is through conditioning so companies can lead you to make the decisions they want you to make.

Buy the name

This conditioning has also been a factor in leading us to believe that bigger is better and because a company has the resources to get their attention through high priced marketing campaigns they can usually do the better job. A big business is a successful business according to the way many think but many times they have strayed from or lost what made them successful so possibly they are not the ones who are going to give 110 percent or do the better job to make you the best you can be.

Many times an executive, committee or employee will go with a bigger more well know company because they feel safer and less exposed to shoulder the blame if it does not work out instead of going with a smaller lesser known company or firm that might be a better fit.

If we go back thirty years or more you will discover that companies like Digital Equipment, Wang, and almost IBM went extinct or study mergers over just the past ten years that were usually a bad idea. A few examples are AOL – Time Warner – CNN, Kmart and Sears, the airline industry, and the department store industry, to name a few. Why, because they became bloated, many had conflicting cultures and they could not react, innovate or implement fast enough to keep up with smaller more nimble companies. And if you study economics you will discover that many things like the bigger is better mentality is cyclic and tends to repeat itself like fashion and often history itself.

Meaning they could not offer their clients the kind of service and real time innovation that their smaller more nimble competitors could.

 

But Wait……

Tumblir.com

If you think about it a smaller business has the ability and is motivated to communicate quicker and more efficiently to provide a higher quality service. Response and therefore reaction times are much greater which allow smaller nimble businesses the ability to build closer relationships with customers to better understand their needs and have the willingness to try new ideas. Better communication equates to more income, lower operating costs and quicker implementation of new technologies.

I know from experience, as I am sure you do, with big companies - having to fill out job tickets and wait for a response and even longer to get something done or making three or four calls to get to the person you need to get an issue resolved or make a change to something. If these types of things are happening how efficiently are they handling your account?

Also, quite often new or smaller accounts get passed to newer less experienced personnel. In a smaller firm everyone from the CEO down is involved in the planning and execution of each detail and they are constantly thinking of and discussing new innovative ways to improve.

One Size Fits All? You Need To-----

Companies that offer a one size fits all or all in one solution cannot possibly be on top of their game in everything they are offering. No one can be everything to everybody. It may be the easy way out but when was the easy way ever the best way?

Every business is unique onto itself and what works well for one business may not work well for another-even the same types of business and even in the same market area. This is why you need a company that is going to constantly work to find those sweet spots that are going to keep you at the top of your game.

And by the way-

I did not buy that piece of real estate that I was desperate to buy but ended up buying another property that returned much more than I could have expected from the one I wanted so desperately.

William Cosgrove

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The photo entitled blinders by (liberal) Nick Anderson at GoComics.com…

Loyalty Starts At Home

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(Posted on Feb 14, 2015 at 05:41AM by William Cosgrove)

By Taking Care of the People Who Take Care of YOU!

Employee Loyalty & Customer Loyalty Can They Really Be Separated?


Employee Loyalty

I recently got involved in a discussion over an article that was written by a virtual acquaintance of mine Philip Nothard who posted an article entitled “Are carmakers killing off the optional extra ‘upsell’?” posted at AM Online an automotive publication.

The article was discussing the fact that car manufacturers are taking more control over how options are packaged and sold and how it may be further hurting franchise dealers sales/profits-But this is a subject for another time-

However, this morph into a discussion of how dealers operate today which gave me the opportunity to bring up the subject of employee relations and compensation-a subject that I feel strongly about and seize every opportunity to voice my feelings.

I have been self-employed for most of my career but over my professional career working for others my experience has mostly been in sales at some level and mainly in the Automotive Industry. But my discussion here applies to all businesses in all industries across the horizontal in terms of the need to be loyal to your employees.

To all businesses across the industry horizontal- Important Information.

“Don’t hang them out to dry” Promote Healthy Employee Relations

In this article and what a spot on title “The Secret to Delighting Customers? Put Employees First” co-authored by Disney Institute and McKinsey & Company explores the connection between companies that are good at both making their customers happy and making their employees happy.

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*Employee engagement programs can increase profits by $2400 per employee per year (Workplace Research Foundation)

*And in gallops “The Secret of Higher Performance” companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%

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For any organization to perform better it is necessary that the employees are comfortable with their employer, each other, and work in close coordination towards a common objective. People that feel appreciated and motivated to do good work and enjoy their work rather than taking it as a burden.

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*68% of U.S. full-time employees are suffering from work overload (Cornerstone)Nov. 10, 2014 — While the unemployment rate may have dropped in the past year, that doesn’t mean the workloads of those already employed are easing up. 68% of U.S. full-time employees are suffering from work overload, a 14% increase from 2013. Work Overload is the Biggest Productivity Killer In The US.

*56% of executives say promoting loyalty is "not a major focus, but valued nevertheless" (American Management AssociationJust “Political Rhetoric”. In other words not very important.

* 24% of executives say promoting employee loyalty was "never valued nor a major focus" (American Management Association) - Fewer here but maybe being more honest and forthright.

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It is important that the management promotes healthy employee relations at workplace to get the best out of each individual. Competition is essential but it should not promote negativity.

But more often than not, in today’s mindset of increasing the bottom line at any price focusing on rewarding and cultivating dedicated and loyal employees has become the exception to the rule but the benefits of being the exception can be enormous.

 

The Bottom Line/Top Line Struggle

About thirty years ago it became popular and necessary for many bloated companies to downsize and cut the fat to survive in the marketplace. But what began as a necessary effort to make companies more efficient has evolved into quarterly driven public and privately owned companies whose principal mission is to do anything to show grow often at the expense of the people on the front lines-its employees.

Employees are the ones on the front lines day in and day out and are the heart and soul of your business. A company’s employees are the ones making it all happen and driving those dollars to the bottom line.

Bottom Line Growth is not sustainable only Top Line Growth is and only Top Line Growth will get you real sustainable growth without diminishing the infrastructure of what drives that growth.

“We have all heard the expression that you need to “Spend Money to Make Money?” Have you ever heard the expression that you need to “Save Money to Make Money?”

Maybe it adds more to the bottom line- but is this really true?

*Each year the average company loses 20-50% of its employee base (Bain & Company)

*Replacing a lost employee costs 150% of that person’s annual salary (Columbia University) (2009 statistic)

*Replacing an experienced worker can cost 50% or more of the individual's annual salary in turnover-related costs (AARP)

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Employee loyalty and dedication is critical to a company’s long term success. If you want to grow your business, you need to have an environment that encourages team work, and encourages everyone to work together to learn and try new things and to give 100%.

One of the hardest parts about running a company is attracting and retaining real talent. The only way to realistically do this is with a great atmosphere, fair compensation, employees that feel good about coming into work with the desire and motivation to perform their best. If employees are not motivated, poorly compensated, or are unsure about their position, the results of this type of atmosphere will not only restrict growth and result in high turnover but combined can and probably will seriously restrict it.

You can have all the proven systems in place that guarantee success but if you don’t have true leaders and talented and dedicated employees to institute those systems you are most likely going to fail or at the least underperform in the marketplace.

Dedicated Employees Foster Loyal Customers

(Image courtesy of periscopeiq.com)

Engaged and dedicated employees provide better service and show genuine concern for customers that is a reflection of confidence in the company and shows through to put customers at ease “instilling trust” that gives them the confidence to do business with them-your company.

“Remember People Buy People”

Dedicated employees generally stay longer with a company when they feel comfortable working there which also shows customers that they also can feel confident continuing their relationship with the company and recommending them to their peers-all contributing towards sustainable long term growth.

Monetate, who powers multi-channel personalization for the world’s best brands reports that 73% of consumers would consider purchasing from a brand again if they had a superior customer experience.

Consider This From Knowledge @Wharton

MetLife’s 10th annual survey of employee benefits, trends and attitudes puts employee loyalty at a seven-year low. One in three employees, the survey says, plans to leave his or her job by the end of the year. According to a 2011 Careerbuilder.com report, 76% of full-time workers, while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along. Other studies show that each year the average company loses anywhere from 20% to 50% of its employee base.

Whatever the actual figures some employees are clearly feeling disconnected from their work. Among the reasons cited for this: the recession, during which companies laid off huge swaths of their employees with little regard for loyalty or length of service; a whittling away of benefits, training and promotions for those who remain; and a generation of young millennials (ages 15 to 30) who have a different set of expectations about their careers, including the need to “be their own brand,” wherever it takes them. In a nomadic world, one of the casualties is a decreasing sense of commitment to the organization.

Wharton management professor Adam Cobb sees another reason for what is clearly an evolving relationship. “When you are talking about loyalty in the workplace, you have to think about it as a reciprocal exchange,” says Cobb. “My loyalty to the firm is contingent on my firm’s loyalty to me. But there is one party in that exchange which has tremendously more power, and that is the firm.”

Cobb suggests that at a minimum, “loyalty is not something a company can rely on. But when people say that employees have no loyalty to their firms, you get into a chicken-and-egg kind of argument. Imagine a different world where firms took care of their employees, and loyalty was reciprocal. Would employees be job hopping to the extent they are now?”

* 28% of all employees are currently looking for work at another organization (Modern Survey)

* 27% of US workers plan to seek new employment in the next year (American Psychological )

Are you Convinced yet? So……. Where’s The Beef?

One big reason that Businesses today lack the dedication and leadership needed to build a truly successful business is the lack of compensation (proper pay for performance). This for some reason lately has become a dirty word in some circles.

Remembering someone’s birthday, giving extra time off and pats on the back in lieu of compensation is just placating the powers that be. Anyone who talks like this is either doing it so as not to upset clients or have never been in the trenches trying to make a living-or both.

All this is good will but if it isn’t backed up with “proper pay for performance” you will never attract the true dedicated leaders and employees that can get the job done.

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*35% of employees report they will look for a new job if they do not receive a pay raise in the next 12 months (Glassdoor)

*According to employees, salary is more important to job satisfaction (88%) than having a certain title (55%) (CareerBuilder)

*65% of full-time U.S. workers say they do not currently earn their desired salary (CareerBuilder)

*Dissatisfied employees cite concerns over salary (66%) and not feeling valued (65%) most often as reasons for their dissatisfaction (CareerBuilder)

*40% of employees wish their employer cared more about their financial well-being (Virgin Pulse)

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I hope that what I discussed here will touch upon a personal experience that you have had or are having and maybe entice you to share it with us here. I understand if you are concerned about retribution at your current employer-How Sad-but maybe you have a previous experience or can just fictionalize your current situation

Also if you have or work for a company that takes care of the people who take care of them, let me know how they are doing it and the success they are realizing for doing it right.

 

*Employee Engagement & Loyalty Statistics: The Ultimate Collection by Posted byBrandon Carter was an important source for many of the statistics in this article- Thank you.

William Cosgrove

11 Ways To Score Customer Relationship Touchdowns

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(Posted on Feb 7, 2015 at 05:54AM by William Cosgrove)

And one of the nine things every marketing leader should do to get the most from social media according to Forrester’s playbook of predictions for 2015 so read on…

customer relationship managementFirst And Goal

Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX, featuring the Patriots’ wild, down-to-the-wire 28-24 win over the Seahawks, scored a 49.7 household rating and a 72 share — besting the 48.1 rating set two years ago when Baltimore triumphed over San Francisco. The final viewer tally for that game was 108 million.

Last year’s Super Bowl of course stands as the most-watched U.S. television event of all-time, having averaged 112.2 million viewers.

The Patriots, who just happen to be my favorite team, became the sixth team with at least four Super Bowl wins. They are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys for most Super Bowl appearances, with eight. Pretty impressive statistics.

If you imagine the Super Bowl as a website with people from all over the world clicking through to engaged a piece of quality content, online event or special offer it then becomes essential to find ways to keep them wanting to return.

One thing I am sure of is that the accomplishments of these teams and this event were achieved through hard work, experimentation and by constantly moving forward to find the right mixture of plays, players, coaches and marketing strategies to consistently drive their success.

Scoring Points With Your Audience

This is what you need to accomplish in marketing your website. Do you think that the Super Bowl or any major event would be as successful if they didn’t use every play in their playbook to engage their audience?

You need to give people a reason to want to visit and keep coming back to you website whether they are a lead (perspective customer) or an existing customer.

When events like this occur the social channels light up with a frenzy of activity including commenting, sharing and newsjacking which I am guilty of here but it is a common and can often be a beneficial tactic.

According to Hubspot, the article I linked to here, I am a little late to the party but I don’t do this full time so I guess I can be forgiven. But if it helps to get my point across, an important one- I think, and one that works and has been gaining traction plus a subject that I have been writing about for years.

Calling The Right Plays

If you have been following my articles you might have a good idea what my point is but if not it is creating an Onsite Social or branded community depending what the trending term may be and there are others.

In fact this strategy has been included in Forrester’s playbook of predictions for 2015 as one if the nine things every marketing leader should do to get the most from social media.

Nate Elliott’s favorite prediction , Nate Elliott is a quarterback of Marketing Leadership Professionals, and my favorite from the report is that as social media matures, branded communities will make a comeback. According to Nate, “It makes sense: Marketing leaders report they’re significantly less satisfied with Facebook and Twitter marketing than with branded forums. But nearly twice as many marketers run Twitter and Facebook accounts as host to their own communities.”

It’s time for marketers to focus their efforts on the social tactics that actually work, can play well over the long term and contribute to all your team strategies- meaning brand-hosted forums within communities can help you all the way across the customer life cycle:

  • “They can drive greater brand reach. Many brands try to garner word of mouth by posting content on Facebook and hoping it goes viral. But this “post and pray” method rarely works. The right way to create word of mouth? Advocate communities. Invite a few hundred of your most satisfied customers into an exclusive forum, issue them word-of-mouth challenges, rank them on a leaderboard, and watch your reach multiply. It worked for B2B vendor Bomgar.”
  • ” They can convert prospects into customers. When people are researching and considering their product options, they usually end up visiting your brand site. You already know that adding ratings and reviews to your site can drive more sales — and so can a branded community. Adding a Q&A feature or a forum to your site will both convert more prospects and lead to more satisfied customers. It worked for the Milwaukee School of Engineering.”
  • ” They can cement existing customer relationships. Some marketers turn to Facebook and Twitter to engage existing customers. But US online adults who want to stay in touch with your brand are three times more likely to visit your site than to engage you on Facebook. Both B2B and B2C marketers have found branded communities create more loyalty and lifetime value than Facebook and Twitter marketing. It worked for semiconductor maker Analog Devices.”

Onsite Communities are HERE, they are REALAVAILABLE and currently providing enormous BENEFITS to businesses across the Industry horizontal.”

Scoring Touchdowns through Great Customer Relationship Management

Get out in front and open up opportunities! Great Customer Relationship Management equals delighted customers, loyal customers, attracts influencers, fosters word of mouth advertising, testimonials and provides brand reach that together can turn your site into a virtual ecosystem of engagement that will drive traffic to your site and broadcast your message across the digital spectrum unlike any other form of paid, organic or earned media can offer. See Press Release

Social Community Playbook Strategies Include:

In addition to establishing a forum including an Onsite Social Community will anchor your customer centric culture by offering a permanent and centralized platform for communicating and engaging with your present and future customers and keep them coming back.

Benefits (permanent and specials/offers) and much more can be offered to existing and to sign up potential customers to gain important information to create buyer personas that can all be managed from one central location-Your website (Your owned real estate)

1. Discounts on purchases

2. Discounts on Warranties

3. Discounts on Maintenance Contracts

4. Discounts on Services

5. Discounts on financing

This includes permanent discounts for community members as well as special discounts offered on a timely basis. Put your marketing dollars where they will offer the highest ROI by directly benefiting your members the ones who are going to pay you back over and over through loyalty.

6.An Onsite Customer Care Center

With direct access to Customer Care representatives with knowledge and authority to answer questions, solve issues and make appointments

7.Drawings (To keep them coming back)

Have a monthly drawing for $$$ In free services and or product discounts that broadly cover individuals current needs that members can enter every month with their e-mail to keep members engaged and visiting your site.

8. Contests

There are countless ways to engage your audience by sponsoring contests within your onsite community and across your social channels and are only limited to your creative ideas.

9. Special Offers

Have special offers for community members and site visitors (who join) for doing something that will extend your brand.

10. Onsite community Testimonial Page

Take a picture of winners of contests, customers satisfied with service or at time of purchases that you, your employyes and customers can automatically and easily post to the Community Testimonial Page (See PhotoRep) and their Social Media channels.

11. Social casting for on and offline events in “real time”

Events anchor any business to their community. You can take advantage of and encourage your community members to participate in all your real-time event ‘live’ media marketing to help you broadcast it across every online digital and traditional marketing channel.

Imagine blog casting, social casting, and mobile applications all working together to engage and draw potential viewers and fans to the event both during and after it’s over.

Events marketing can also be used as a multichannel online sales or advertising event tool to enhance your inbound leads and including community members can add invaluable authenticity to all your campaigns.

I have listed 11 Plays here to put in your playbook of marketing strategies utilizing your onsite community and there are many more that you can add to keep driving down the field to keep scoring goals.

Onsite Communities are HERE, they are REALAVAILABLE and currently providing enormous BENEFITS to businesses across the Industry horizontal. Businesses are driving leads through Inbound and Digital Marketing strategies utilizing their onsite communities to broadcast their customer centric culture across their social channels and organically across the internet.

The upside potential of having and utilizing an onsite community to engage and interact with your audience and customers is enormous. Showing your existing and potential customers that you will be there before and after the sale to reward and take care of them will create a customer centric culture that will foster customer loyalty that will extend across all your earned, owned and social media to benefit you and your customers each and every day. This is customer care at its finest and what will drive your success for years to come.

Give me a call to show you how we can get you across the finish line time and time again.

William Cosgrove

Better Health Through Organic Marketing

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(Posted on Jan 24, 2015 at 08:55AM by William Cosgrove)

organic marketing strategies

I was reading an article recently and it came to me that It just so happens that there are some correlations and some disconnects between eating organic food and having a good diet of organic business strategies to improve your health.

The Correlation

You want to eat healthy, and you know that means choosing a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein but as I wandered down the aisles of my local market this week checking out the fresh produce, meats, and dairy products, I realized that there's another choice to make: Should I buy organic?

Advocates of organic food say it is safer, possibly more nutritious, and often better tasting than non-organic food (Some might take exception to that) but they also say organic production is better for the environment and kinder to animals.

But more and more shoppers seem convinced of this and even though organic food typically costs more (sometimes a lot more) sales are steadily increasing and many experts say there's not enough evidence to prove any real advantage to eating organic foods.

and The Disconnect

Even though many of us choose to pay more for organic products and well as many marketing strategies that may or may not provide real benefits the benefits of having a healthy diet of Organic marketing strategies are real. Organic marketing strategies are more economical simply because they provide longer term benefits that Paid advertising do not - but just like starting and benefiting from a healthy diet it takes time to start realizing the full benefits.

Organic strategies attract a more serious and focused customer who is looking to fulfill a particular need and not just a curiosity.

Organic strategies can provide benefits for months or even years where paid search or advertizing only benefits you as long as you are paying. Paid advertising without an organic strategy can become an addiction that forces you to keep paying for your dependence and increases with your craving for more and more to satisfy your goals.

Organic Reach

Organic reach is defined as the total number of unique people who were shown your content through unpaid channels where paid reach is the total number of unique people who were shown your post as a result of ads.

Organic content is part of a natural ecosystem where there is no need for constant monetary intervention, a website and its web pages are found, engaged and socialized with, and a business’s marketing objectives met.

Like natural ecosystems that are used by people and companies for gain, they need to be maintained and nurtured as these ecosystems evolve and change but mostly their life and success is ongoing, long-term and self-sustaining.

Organic Search

Organic Search (SEO) is a longer term investment for your company but pays big dividends. Search engine results pages (SERPs) can be divided into two parts, organic search results and paid search results. High rankings on organic search engine result pages is critical and is the primary goal of search engine optimization.

Organic search results comprise the majority of clicks from search engines, with many sources claiming as much as 80% of all search engine traffic.

70 percent of links that search users click on are organic results.

70 percent to 80 percent of search users ignore paid search ads.

75 percent of search users are not clicking past the first page of search results.

Organic search traffic produces 25 percent higher conversion rates than traffic driven by equivalent paid search traffic.

Insights from BrightEdge’s Data Cube reveal that the clear champion of website traffic is organic search.

Overwhelmingly, organic search trumps other traffic generators, driving 51% of all visitors for both B2B and B2C businesses.

Another advantage of organic search marketing is that organic listings have a much higher level of trust than do paid listings. Most people that do organic searches know that search engines have a say in what shows up in their searches, and that paid listings are more about who is paying the most to have their listings shown.

Top organic positions drive 50% more traffic than top paid positions and it also used to be that search rankings were solely keyword dependent and ranking for these keywords aside from being very expensive was about the only way to get sufficient reach. But today’s algorithms also provide ways that rank for quality content and phrases that increases your chances of being found and ranking higher in search.

If you want to improve your SEO, you must have a strong content and organic marketing strategies (explained below). Strong SEO means developing a content strategy with a commitment to producing engaging, useful content for readers on a consistent basis. If you tell your story through compelling content, over time you’ll see your website’s SEO rise in searches and search rankings. Bottom line an Organic Strategy will build a long lasting web presence for your business.

In a recent interview with Rand Fisher, founder of Moz he said “One of the key misunderstandings is the power search engines have to drive traffic. There’s a perception in the marketing world that Google is last year’s news. Social is hot and content is hot and native advertising is hot … and SEO isn’t all that exciting. It may be true that SEO has been around a long time, but it is still the most powerful earned, nonpaid source of traffic on the web. Google is sending out 10 times more traffic every day than Facebook does. There are six billion searches per day, each of those resulting in 1.5 to 2.5 visits on average. Those searchers are seeking something very different from social media audiences or email audiences in that they are looking for exactly the thing they’ve told the search engine. And if the searcher arrives on your website, the power to solve that person’s problem, convert, and expose the searcher to your work is exceptional. That’s the big one. “

Organic Social

Here is a recent article by Katherine Halek entitlted Why You Shouldn’t Pay for Social Media who explains that “If you pay to advertise on social media, you may not be using your resources as efficiently as you could. There are more ways to get your name and product out there than by purchasing ads, which aren’t always worth the money they require. Opponents of this view insist that all businesses should implement paid marketing, as organic strategies look like they’re on the way out. In reality, though, there are still ways to conduct a successful grassroots promotion campaign without paying a penny to the host site — and these methods are generally way more fun.”

Organically Grown Employee And Customer referral Programs

Invest in an onsite(your real estate) branded (social) community for employee and customer referral programs and testimonials that deliver customers right to your door (website).

According to research by Implisit lead to deal conversions rates are lead by a wide margin by referrals converting the highest at 3.6% followed by leads from company websites and social channels at around 1.55% and found that lead lists, company events and email campaigns are the worst performing channels.

In this article by Roger Katz posted at ClickZ Forrester’s recent lineup of 2015 predictions for the technology landscape stated that as social media "grows up," so-called "branded communities" will be making a comeback.

What’s a branded community in this context? A managed community of brand followers and customers, usually on, or adjacent to, a brand website, glued together by familiar social digital behaviors and a commonality of brand interest.

Why is this happening now and what does it mean for social marketers?

As radical innovation on the leading social platforms slows down, and marketers become increasingly limited in their organic reach on social networks, brands are needing to move laterally to accommodate their customer-centered engagement needs in ways that social networks alone cannot accommodate.

Does that mean that brands will not be investing in their social network presence? Absolutely not. Facebook and LinkedIn remain highly worthwhile "pay-to-play" networks for excellent targeted and personalized reach. But they are no longer reliable as the sole networks for organic conversations, or as a complete solution for supporting customer questions.

Testimonials

Testimonials are a key tool to add credibility to your business. Search Engine Watchreports that 85 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses. Dimensional Research reports that 90 percent of consumers say that positive online reviews had a direct impact on their buying decision.

Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness rating for content marketing at 89%. 20 Marketing Trends and Predictions to Consider for 2014 (Social Times)

55% of young shoppers said that a recommendation from a friend is one of the strongest influencers in getting them to try a new brand. 47% consider brand reputation to be almost as important.

60% of Millennials said that social advertising has the most influence over them in how they perceive a brand and a brand’s value and Hispanics represent the youngest segment of the population here in the US. The Millennial tech-savvy and fast-paced crowd has now surpassed Baby Boomers spending $600 billion a year compared to Baby Boomer’s $400 Billion

One of the most frequent practices is to highlight a specific customer review, or expert mention for your business.

In fact, word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchases, while 63 percent of online customers say they are more likely to buy on sites with positive reviews.

What better place to all this have these emanating from to broadcast across your social channels and the internet than your website. You can also highlight customer reviews for your business and use them as testimonials on your website and landing pages.

The varied diet of Organic strategies I have mentioned here are great ways to improve the health of your business tremendously and build a healthy long lasting web presence. Let me know your thoughts and if I can help you improve your health.

William Cosgrove

Be Creative with #Hashtags

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(Posted on Jan 17, 2015 at 06:41AM by William Cosgrove)

Way Back When

The use of the hashtag, from my research, appeared in 1988 when early internet users began including them in messages. They were used to group messages, images and videos into categories.

Fast forward 19 years and hashtags reappeared on Twitter when Nate Ritter experimented using the the hashtag #sandiegofire. Some credit Chris Messina, a social technology expert, with the very first hashtag that appeared on Twitter in 2007.

Regardless of who’s on first, what’s on second and I don’t know who’s on third hashtags have since become one of the most widely used tools on the internet with many popular social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram and others adapting hashtags as way to let users more easily communicate.

Use Real Time Hashtag Apps For Community Events, Contests, Sales & Marketing Campaigns and To Have Social Media Conversations.

Get Creative

Hashtags are one of the most useful and versatile features on many social media platforms and bring in audiences interested in your brand that can help spread information about related products and services. Hashtags can be brand and campaign specific, used with posted content and to follow what is trending. Hashtags are used to regularly hold chats to keep targeted audiences informed and for companies to get actual feedback.

Get creative and add to your social media fan base and onsite community. If you take the time to design hashtags that fit your business you can engage your fans with a variety of incentives, contests, events and other thought inspired ways to keep them coming back, sharing and commenting.

Another creative way to utilize hastags is to incorporate a hashtag page onto your website. Check out One Big Broadcast’s Social Post and Hashtag app as an option that gives you the ability to harness any number of hashtags in real time as they are posted at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These can meld with your community on your own web site to stimulate your followers to view, create and share their content and the share results automatically via social networks to attract visibility to build your community.

Harness yours and other people’s hashtags from social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stimulate users and visitors to create content and interact with your brand to build interest excitement and community.

Tracking Hashtags

Hashtags can be tracked and analyzed to provide great insights on how people are interacting with your brand, business, product, service, event or blog and give you insight into conversations going on within social networks.

Keyhole is a one of many sites where you can get real-time tracking and historical data for hashtags from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or for some other tools that can help you launch, track and analyze hashtags across social networks, see this article posted by Social Media Examiner “5 Hashtag Tracking Tools for Twitter, Facebook and Beyond

Attracting more leads and increasing sales is the bottom line and hashtags are a cost effective tool to add to your toolbox. Make up your own hashtags. Promote your own brand. Display these feeds on your own screens - even stadium or conference screens during events to get everyone in on the action.

This infographic by Quicksprout will give you some more helpful advice on the benefits of hashtags and different ways in which to use them.

Turbocharge Your Content Marketing

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(Posted on Jan 10, 2015 at 06:26AM by William Cosgrove)

Using Multiple Blog Engines

Blogging gives you the opportunity to create relevant content for your customers to drive traffic back to your website.

Blogs increase your SEO and fresh and relevant content is the key to edging out your competitors in the search engine results pages and by using multiple blog engines to broadcast that fresh content you will increase That competitive advantage.

Well written articles will position your brand as an industry leader and posting topics that connect you with your market will demonstrate your knowledge of your business, service or product.

Blogs provide another way to develop better customer relationships by connecting directly with them on your website where your site visitors are able to get to know your business or product from the comfort of your online real estate.

Multiple Blogs, Multiple Results

Blogs improve SEO, attract and engage visitors and promote sales but success isn’t a singular idea. Instead it’s multi-faceted, with countless elements drawn together to attract the necessary clients. Letting just one blog dictate the tone, message and branding of your website is a mistake.

Having a multiple blog engine platform, each with its own search visibility, gives you a big advantage over the competition. Each of these blogs highlights an element of the company (such as sales events, product data and category topics). These elements are then offered SEO infused content, bolstering both their relevancy and their search engine rankings which is essential in today’s competitive landscape.

Through the social integration process, each of these blogs offers consistent content to the right networks. They contribute information that both entices and educates, encouraging readers to return again and again. This increases traffic and, more importantly, it increases sales

Socially Integrated Blogs

Social SEO (search engine optimization) shines a bright light back to your web platform, increasing your online visibility and connecting you to your entire target audience and beyond but even with a diligent blogging schedule, limiting your strategy to focus solely on site updates leaves you in the fog, invisible to your network of socially plugged-in customer base.

Automated integration of your blogs with multiple social networks enables your content to hit the sweet spot of the virtual world, instantly delivering your latest news to your customers via both search and social vectors while saving you valuable time.

Writing quality blog content is a great start toward running a successful blog, but the hard part is getting that content discovered and having the right technology to do it with is essential.

Your brand needs to be on point each and every day and blogs are a key component and to do this you must have the technology that will breath life into your brand.

A key component of any successful plan is the foundation on which it is built and provides the framework that is going to drive that success.

 

Blog Data Touch Points

 

Click here to enlarge

LinkedIn is the most recently added API not listed in this PDF along with the ability to post to over 300 Social sites.
 

William Cosgrove

 

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