business card boxes

Are business cards still relevant to marketing?

As a child I was fascinated by business cards.

business card boxes

Rebecca’s discarded business card storage boxes

My curiosity was piqued when I was earning some holiday money in my father’s office doing admin and filing. His business partner, David, had a corner office with a deep windowsill. It had a tiled surface and every couple of feet was a small stack of business cards. I had never seen anything like this before and while he was not looking I picked up a pile and started to leaf through the stack reading each one.

When he came back from lunch I asked him what they were and he explained that this was how business people exchange their contact details. I asked him if I could have some and he was surprised.

It was a curious thing for a 12-year-old to be interested in. He kindly sorted through a pile and gave me a dozen. “There” he said “now you can be a collector of business cards”.

I thought this was a supercool hobby and was sure that none of my friends was doing anything even remotely as interesting.

I collect business cards

Fast forward a few years and of course I’m now a marketing specialist and business to business marketing hangs off databases and your ability to stay in touch with your customers. Business cards are no longer a thing of the past but they certainly are an element of off-line marketing that has not transferred smoothly into the online world.

I vividly remember an early app called bump when you could tap knuckles with another person and exchange business cards through your mobile phones. It was one of those great SXSW digital innovations that really never meet reached the mainstream.

There was another app which I sorely miss which was CardMunch, it scanned your  business card via the camera and automatically sent a LinkedIn connection request. Of course it got bought by LinkedIn and they shut it down. Sad days.

But what about business databases?

There are a lot of things that a business could be doing with customer data but I find that few firms actually take advantage of the information they already have let alone the information they could obtain.

Let’s run a quick checklist.

  • Where do you keep customer data in your business?
  • Where or other places where data is kept for example in your account system.
  • Can you pull these into a single place?
  • How often do you message your customers?
  • If someone is on your mailing list and that email bounces what happens?
  • What are you doing to add new names to your database each month and to refine the existing subscribers so that people who do not open your messages are removed or message less frequently?

Get answers to these questions by “mystery shopping” your own firm.

Having good data discipline is a really strong underpinning to a robust business to business marketing plan.

Your job for today

Think back to me as the young kid who thought collecting business cards was cool. Take a look at where your business could collect customer data and what actually happens when you do.

I hazard a guess that there are a lot of opportunities which are extremely low cost, could lead to valuable customer relationships and more sales.

Go get them.

calling bullshit data book

Data – you need to understand it

Data – love it or loathe it, we get it served up everywhere we look. But do you know enough to judge and make up your mind? What is factual, what is relevant, where are devious presenters hiding the truth?

The answers to all these questions requires modern marketers to educate themselves.

calling bullshit data book

Calling Bullshit: The Art of Scepticism in a Data-Driven World. By Carl Bergstrom and Jevin T West

The The Economist called this book “Dodgy Data – the sum of all fears” and opened its article with an expose of the State of Georgia’s Covid19 count – which I tweeted on 18 July.  See if you can spot the deliberate mis-information as presented in their map illustration below.

State of georgia, covid 19 cases, dodgy data

July 2 on left July 18 on right. Covid 19 cases growth.

I think this book will be as influential as Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science was in 2010 – exposing what is and is not a scientific process and a robust outcome.

I’m buying this book (pre publication) if you’d like a copy pm me and I’ll add it to my order. If you’re in Auckland – I’ll hand deliver….. saving you the postage.

Oh, I’ve also reached out to one of the authors….. we will see what happens.

Rebecca Caroe B2B marketing speaker

Is B2B marketing yielding good returns?

Is the marketing you are doing giving you the yield you seek?

I am asking this question a LOT at the moment.  I  ask it to myself, for my own businesses, I ask clients, I ask prospects.

One answer came from a professional services marketer.  It serves as a good example for in-house marketers to challenge their thinking, to up-skill and to get insight from beyond the internal team in the business.

This is what she wrote  to answer

Hmmm… It’s hard to tell. I cannot know if a speaking engagement got someone interested enough to ask their consultant to investigate our solutions and eventually get in touch with us and 2 years later… we have a deal signed. It is a complex process to sell our service.

Is a long sales cycle a B2B marketing problem?

Yes, it certainly is.  Tracking and managing a diverse set of marketing tactics and campaigns over time takes discipline and forethought.

But where I felt this marketing manager was failing her business colleagues was around integrating the content creation, the speech-giving with marketing analytics and tracking data.

I challenge the assertion that you “cannot know” if a speaking engagement has any effect.

How to track conference speeches for marketing impact

Let me make some suggestions:

  • Every conference – offer a free download of something valuable. Create a trackable URL. Cookie the browsers visiting that site.
  • ALSO offer the visitor something even more valuable (not a sales pitch) if they sign up to your database

Both of these create trackable events which (even if 2 years passes) can enable you to demonstrate results.

Any pass-on of URLs to second parties like consultants or colleagues is tracked too.

I use Google Campaign URL builder and also short link services like Bit.ly for this.

Upskill your internal marketing team

When did you last go and get training and invest in your internal marketing team?  I fear many in-house teams do not get the attention they deserve.  Hiring an agency or consultant is not necessarily going to improve the team skills – it delegates marketing activity to outsiders.

What could you do to invest better, to improve your team’s ability to run the strategy as well as the execution, to better understand what the agency / consultant is doing for you, so that they can brief better, to guide the marketing plan better, to adapt and adjust the marketing budget for new tech, for new market conditions (recession?) and above all, to stay in front of the competition?

So challenge yourself, is the marketing you are doing giving you the yield you seek?

Apple Podcast analytics beta

Apple has launched a beta service to analyse listenership of your podcast episodes on Apple devices and via Apple services.

I took a quick look – log in to iTunes Connect and select the drop-down next to the header. [Note the URL – since podcasts are being split off from iTunes, it’s now got its own URL podcastsconnect.apple.com]

The service obviously only works on Apple devices and so this will in all likelihood be a small segment of your audience. But the data has all the normal data points [#devices, #total time listened, time listened per device] defaulting to a past 60 days view.

The most interesting data point for me is the percentage “Average Consumption” measure defined as

The average percentage of the episode that was played across all devices. Playback duration is compared against the episode duration as reported in the podcast feed. If a device plays the duration time of an episode more than once, the consumption from that device will be greater than 100%

Apple podcast analytics beta

Trends, episodes and overview

Neatly summarising most of what you’ll want to see – the Apple Podcasts Analytics beta has a nice dashboard showing Total time listened, a country analysis and split of subscribers and ‘not subscribed’. This is neat as I’ve always wondered about the proportion of my listeners who are not subscribers but do listen.

Partial audience analysis

In the analytics help documentation I noted the following:

  • Podcast Analytics begins gathering data as soon as users play content in the Podcasts app (iOS 11 or later), in iTunes 12.7 or later (macOS and Windows), or on HomePod. [NOTE only recent app versions]
  • Apple only displays data from users who agreed to share their diagnostics and usage information with providers. [NOTE Reduces total audience size]
  • To collect data, the duration of a play event must be at least five seconds. [NOTE fair enough]
  • To display data, more than five unique devices must play the show or episode content. [NOTE fair enough]

Final thoughts

Get on to Apple and take a look at your stats. Compare it to other analytics services [I use Podtrac] and compare the data points and your absolute numbers.

My Apple numbers and Podtrac numbers are not directly comparable as one is included in the other. But for me the average consumption metric is pretty neat and will be something I add in my media pack for advertisers.

The images below show the respective analytics for 7 recent episodes.

Podtrac podcast analytics
Apple podcast analytics

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

AirNZ gamifys its customer segments

As a marketer I love being marketed to and so when I got invited by Air New Zealand to “Find out what’s your travel style?” I clicked to do the self-test quiz.

Backstory – Customer Differentiation for CRM

Air NZ Contest quiz, CRM, customer segmentation

Facebook advert for Air NZ Quiz

Brands need to be clear about different messages to different audiences.  This is basic database marketing concept is easy to achieve using segmentation based on actions.  The difficult part is identifying customer attitudes and desires which have not yet become actions.

Creating a differentiation matrix for your customer base is worthwhile and if you have never done one before, ask us to help you create it.

After you have actions plus attitudes then you can create a layered differentiation plan – plugging your customer journey and content plan with clear guidelines which your team will love because it makes it very easy to track progress towards your goals.

Here’s Per Caroe’s slide from our Unhurried Conversation in which we focused on discussing customer journey maps.

Activity scoring for customer segmentation

Back to Air New Zealand’s segmentation strategy

The team will have created the segments based on research data (Qual and Quant) but their challenge is how to populate their existing customers into the data grid.  Here’s where the fun quiz fits.  By running a campaign with a prize draw, they are creating a series of Golden Questions and the obliging customer fills in the quiz and creates a score which populates their preferences in the database.  What follows is the clever part – using the insights gained, AirNZ will be cross-populating the insights into their current database of customers who did not fill in the quiz – by inference from other customers who look alike.

What I’m looking forward to is the communications that should follow – will I (A Lounger) get more customised messaging?

The Travel Style quiz told in screenshots

First up the quiz questions – you can guess the alignment between the four travel styles (lower down) and the questions if you choose to base your own quiz on this format.

Then the detail of the travel styles.

And lastly the up-sell in every travel style description – mine was for the Skycouch including a video and a transcript (very important for people using social without sound enabled).

Air NZ how do you holiday?

Quiz step 1

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

Quiz question 2

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

Quiz question 3

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

Quiz question 4

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

Quiz question 5

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

Quiz outcome – Travel Lounger segment

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

Quiz result Savvy selector

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

Quiz result segment opportunist

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

Quiz result segment Goody gatherer

Air NZ, holiday styles quiz, CRM, Customer segmentation tool

Skycouch advert from my segment profile

Air NZ Skycouch video and 360 tour - with transcript

Skycouch video and 360 tour – with transcript

Ranking Factors 2017 report from SEMRush

What’s new in SEO? 5 actions to do today

Last week I got the latest research on SEO from trusted brand SEM Rush.  You can download and read their report Ranking Factors 2017 in SEO.

Ranking Factors 2017 report from SEMRush

Ranking Factors 2017 report from SEMRush

Creative Agency Secrets has read the whole report and below are 5 SEO tasks you can initiate immediately for your own website or ecommerce store.

The report has a number of chapters each of which is followed by “What this means to you as a marketer”  Read these pages for the SEMRush interpretation of their research findings.

5 SEO actions for 2017

  1. Check you have a secure (https) website.  Get a SSL Certificate installed if your url begins http://. See Secure websites below
  2. Find websites which can link back to you.  Clients, Suppliers, News / Magazines, Directories.  See Referring Domains below
  3. Get ideas for your SEO and your content creation from Answer the Public research tool
  4. Use more keywords on your “cornerstone” content pages.  See Keywords below.
  5. Plan the visitor pathway through your site especially with a view to reducing bounce rate.

The Detailed insights

Note these are paraphrased from the SEMRush report including some verbatim quotes.  All the ACTION FOR YOU tasks are recommendations by us for your website or ecommerce store. The page numbers are the actual page number in the report NOT the number top RHS.

If you want help, Creative Agency Secrets offers 2 services – we can do it for you; we can teach you how to do it yourself.

  1. Secure websites – page 6.  The higher the page position in search, the higher the keyword search volume most sites are secure https domains.  We interpret this that websites with SSL are trusted and are gaining over plain www and http sites.
  2. Referring domains – page 10. The pages that rank higher have more backlinks from unique domains. Websites that appear on SERPs for high-volume keywords have significantly more backlinks than ones that appear for low-volume keywords — almost 10 times more.  ACTION FOR YOU the competition for high-volume keywords is vicious, and those websites are invincible. But for low-volume keywords the competition is not so tough, so some link building could bring tremendous results.
  3. Content length – page 18. What we saw first was that there is generally more content on the pages that rank higher for all search volume intervals.  There is more content on the pages with long-tail keywords than on those with short-head keywords. ACTION FOR YOU  pick your “cornerstone” content pages and work them HARD for SEO goodness.  Content length is important for your page’s success as long as it is valuable, well-written, and optimised, especially if you target high volume keywords.
  4. Keywords – page 23.  In the high volume keyword group. the majority of the pages add a keyword to their title, meta and body copy but the occurrence of the keyword in the meta description does not influence the page rankings. Pages that rank for long-tail keywords repeat those keywords less often than pages that rank for short-head keywords. The pages on the first positions (for both longtails and short-heads) have noticeably more keywords than all other pages. ACTION FOR YOU If you plan to rank by long tail keywords, having an exact-match keyword in your on-page SEO elements is not crucial. In fact, it is more important to diversify the semantic core of your text and make it relevant to the target keyword rather than copying it.  The presence of a video didn’t show a significant influence on page rankings, so we came to the conclusion that video itself is not a silver bullet. However, in certain niches clients expect video content, so it makes sense to provide it. Consider your audience’s demands, and if they include visual support, use video.
  5. Volume of visitors – page 33.  Not a strong correlation to page rank here especially if your search phrases are low(er) volume searches. For the low-volume keyword group, the trend is flat, indicating that a page’s position does not strongly correlate with its number of total monthly visits. For high-volume popular keywords, the number of page visits gets noticeably smaller for sites that rank below the 12th position. ACTION FOR YOU this means organic search is not the only thing you should be concentrating on. Drive a strong traffic from direct and social media linked visits by pushing brand awareness on these platforms and also through newsletters.
  6. Bounce Rate – page 37.  The higher a page’s position is, the lower its bounce rate.  The user navigates through three to three-and-a-half pages per website, per visit. As your site moves towards the top of the SERP, there are more pages per session for every domain. ACTION FOR YOU firstly ensure you have strong internal page linking.  Think about what you want the visitor to do next on every page.  Connect with Cornerstone content discussed above.  Also analyse your rivals (How to compare my site to a competitor’s) Inside Google Analytics, check your queries performance and lastly, find low ranking pages for Bounce and improve them to reduce bounce rate and page rank.

 

Marketing offer, SEMRush, creative agency secrets,

SEMRush custom offer at the end of the report

And a cunning end-point which is a marketing “trick” I’ve used a lot for clients – on the very, very last page is an offer.  A really good one.  SEMRush will do a niche study for your industry if you write to ask.  We did (for a client) and they said they’d been overwhelmed and would put it on the list…. but still.  This is a fabulous reward for the people who do read all the way to the end.  #TopTip

Ready to rock with some improvements on your business SEO?  Let’s get started together!

Customer Feedback

Don’t Be Boring Is The Best Way To Gather Customer Feedback

Customer feedback. These simple words are in every businessman’s mouth (and 2-hour long Powerpoint presentations) and can give you priceless insights if done right. This data is essential to measure customers’ satisfaction and make your products/services meet their needs. But let’s be honest, the ways people use to collect it are not thought through like they should. From annoying guys with clipboards knocking on your door to spammy messages in your inbox, research is carelessly planned by most companies. Fear not, though: we have a few suggestions for you on how to seize your customers’ opinion.

Yeah, you know where I’m going: the infamous surveys. Right now, as I mention the words “fill a form”, I can almost hear your eyes rolling. It’s something loathed by most of us, and some planners consider just a necessary evil. Doesn’t matter if you are the poor soul who’s spreadsheeting the results for that damn thing or, God forbid, the one answering to an endless questionnaire.

Understanding the importance of this kind of research, many companies offer rewards to customers in a hopeless attempt of getting useful information to work with. Burger King, for example, used to encourage customer feedback offering FREE FOOD if you completed their online survey. However, even a free burger was not incentive enough to make me bother to finish those.

Ok, so where are those brands failing miserably?

The process itself is outdated. If the activity is too laborious, doesn’t matter what “prize” you are offering. People tend to quit or, even worse, answer rubbish by mindlessly marking “x” on random fields just to be done with it, giving you worthless data.

Now you are probably asking yourself the million dollar question: is there a way to avoid wasting your resources while collecting useful data?

Make it fun

Surveys must be dynamic, well designed and lighthearted. No one can stand boring lists of questions and tiny “tick boxes” in this day and age. You can use a tool like Typeform, a Spanish startup that is mastering user experience for all kinds of forms, from a simple suggestion box to a more intricate survey. You can check an example at the end of this article. Their innovative service promises to keep “focused and engaged respondents” with a beautiful interface, responsible for a 59% completion rate on the platform. That’s a MASSIVE result.

Make it meaningful

Your customer has to understand the objective of giving you feedback and see that you are actually listening. You can start showing your appreciation by making him part of the creative development of new products, like McDonald’s did with the “Create Your Taste” campaign. There was no money involved, just a warm feeling of belonging and the thrill of signing your own McDonald’s sandwich. Crowdsourcing at its finest, bringing excellent results (and funny memes, because internet).

Here at Creative Agency Secrets, we made a testimonials campaign for ourselves by partnering with a charity called StarJam. Offering donations in exchange for a few words from our clients, we turned their feedback into social proof for our own brand on the internet. You can check more details reading our case study.

 

Customer feedback formpowered by Typeform