• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • BeverlyMay
    Beverly May on August 13, 2014

    Countdown to the UX Awards: Get Discounted Tickets and Vote Now for the Winners!

    We're a partner with the UXies, the premier global awards for exceptional digital experience, which is in downtown San Francisco on September 11 after 3 years in New York!
  • How to identify vital moments where to capture your customer during that moment of truth, the time when a consumer shows that they are intent on purchasing something.

    Yeah, yeah. I know you know (cause obviously you’re a smart person) that you need to engage your customers.  And you gotta do it fast, or else you lose them, just like that.

    With so many avenues where customers can go through the sales cycle, we need to start recognizing the “Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)”. What is it exactly?

    To provide you with a more concrete example, I’m going to quote Google’s Todd Pollak and his experience purchasing online:

    I went online with my wife and we spent 30 minutes educating ourselves on all the options, features and specs, jumping back and forth between manufacturer websites and reviews, looking at the best-sellers and comparing prices. Once we made our choice, in less than five minutes we had logged into a retailer’s site, added a TV to the cart, paid in a single click and had a date for a delivery direct to our home. I was beaming from ear to ear and explaining to my 4-year-old daughter that she should be AMAZED.

    My kids didn’t think it was such a big deal, but the purchase of that TV happened while we were all in mid-flight from San Francisco to New York, 35,000 feet above the Earth, somewhere over Utah!

    So my family bought a luxury item — a complex product with what used to be a long sales cycle, one that would be a part of our lives for many years — without ever speaking to a salesperson, visiting a physical store, looking at or touching the product. We never contacted another person we knew or any expert for advice.

    These vital moments are where you capture your customer, that moment of truth. It’s the time when a consumer shows that they are intent on purchasing something. Basically this is when all your social media, blogging, advertising, coding, among many other things you do collide. The question you seriously need to ask is, will you be the one to meet their needs?

    Show Up Where They are

    Look, I’m not going to lie and say the sales funnel is as easy as pie to figure out. If you really think about it, it’s not so much a sales funnel, but more like a charted map, as consumers dart from source to source. One minute they’re in a brick and mortar store, the next they’re looking on their smartphones at coupon deals or Yelp reviews. Gosh, it never ends!

    It’s more important than ever to be where purchasers are, ready to strike when that ZMOT hits. And it would be a shame to miss out on that, to say, your competitors. Show up.

    Where, you ask?

    Fall In Love With Multi-Screens

    Surprisingly (or not), about 90% of consumers use multi-screens to complete a task, according to a study by Google in the ZMOT Handbook.  They describe two types of usage, which is sequential and simultaneous. Sequential means that a user works with one screen, then another, whereas simultaneous means that a user is using more than one screen at a time.

    Just think of the possibilities! It means you have opportunities to engage on one device and spark ZMOT on another.

    Remember the need to be where your customers are? This is the very reason why. And according to Jim Lecinski’s Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, 80% of success is just showing up.

    Not only is it important to show up, but you need to be able to create a user friendly experience on ALL devices. Here are some quick tips to get caught up:

    1. Get your site up to speed: Ensure that it loads clearly and quickly on any device, particularly mobile. Consider creating a responsive theme if it makes sense.
    2. Unify your branding across all media (mobile phones, TV, and tablets).  
    3. If you engage with customers on TV, are you promoting ZMOT discovery?
    4. Look into using mobile and video ads together.
    5. Consider advertising on mobile apps.
    6. Add alerts or reminders to follow up with customers after they sign in your site. Remind them about a consultation they’ve done, an item they’ve left in their shopping cart, etc.

    How Local Can You Go?

    Being where your customers are also means being where they physically are.  Considering how 95% of mobile users have searched for local information, why wouldn’t you want to tap into that? And no, you don’t need to cyber stalk anyone, just following some simple tips will do.

    1. Experiment with hyper-local ads - play around with different cities of zip codes to see what works best.
    2. If relevant, try local offers - Many businesses have benefitted from sites such as AmazonLocal and Groupon to bring in first time customers.
    3. Turn on local ad extensions and features - they’ll help you with people who are looking for local information, as it will display business info (such as store locations, store hours, phone number or even parking) alongside your ads.

    I know there are many more ways to engage with consumers than I can write in this article, so you’ll hear from me soon more more ways to tap into ZMOT for your business. In the meantime, any tips you’d like to share?

    Most of us are familiar with using social media to post personal status updates. However, when it comes to using social media for business purposes, it is important to understand that the rules are different. Anything you post can be considered a form of consumer advertising and as such you need to be careful not to post misleading or false information. This is especially true if you work in a regulated industry such as financial services, banking, healthcare, law, or pharmaceutical.

    Most of us are familiar with using social media to post status updates about our vacation, photos of our family, funny videos we find on YouTube, or tweeting about our favorite sports theme. However, when it comes to using social media for business purposes, it is important to understand that the rules are different. Anything you post can be considered a form of consumer advertising and as such you need to be careful not to post misleading or false information. This is especially true if you work in a regulated industry such as financial services, banking, healthcare, law, or pharmaceutical.

    Have a Policy in Place

    Thankfully, there are many ways to protect yourself from getting into trouble by what you and your employees are posting on social media. One of the most traditional ways to stay out of trouble is to have a good social media policy that clearly explains what is allowed and not allowed when posting information about your company and its products or services. There are many examples of good social media policies that you can find online. While a social media policy may minimize your liability as a company owner or an employee, it is simply not enough to insure you or your employees will not post something that can get you into trouble.

    Compliance Tools

    That is where social media compliance tools come in. Social media compliance tools allow a business to manage their employee’s use of social media by allowing them to post pre-approved content to their individual social network accounts or by providing a level of moderation or review before and after they post on social networks. Ideally, you want your sales representatives or team members to actively participate in social media. After all, the reach of many is much greater that the reach of one. However, you want to make sure that what your employees are posting meets with your governance guidelines and company policies.

    Social media compliance tools allow you to set up workflows and policies that can control access to networks, content, and features so that your business is fully compliant. As previously mentioned, this is especially important if you own a business or work for a company in a government-regulated industry. These tools can help your company stay compliant with rules and regulations from the SEC, FINRA, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, PRA/FCA, and many more.  Even if your company is not in a regulated industry, you will still find that social media compliance software can insure that trade secrets and other proprietary company or customer information is not posted on social networks by accident.

    Social media compliance tools also help you with document retention and archival issues. This is especially important for regulated industry companies that are required to maintain documents for a determinate number of years.  The definition of documents has been expanded with the explosion of communication via social technologies. Where as before, document retention policies only applied to actual documents and emails, today any type of social discussions, including blog posts, wikis and messages on activity stream are considered documents and subject to document retention requirements.

    The problem with archiving these types of social “documents” is that in many instances the context has changed. In other words, there may be a blog post and a series of comments following that blog post. Over the course of time, the blog post may change and even the comments may change or get deleted. Therefore it is not sufficient to archive the blog and comments as they are today, but rather it is important to archive the “documents” in the context that occurred a few months ago. Fortunately, some of the sophisticated social compliance tools mentioned below provide that type of functionality.

    Below is a list of the most popular social media compliance tools and platforms. As with most software, social compliance software provide solutions that range from point solutions that address one specific need or requirement, to fully enabled platforms that provide maximum compliance and security. As more companies and employees continue to integrate social media into their daily work and continue to use them as important communications tools, the importance and sophistication of social compliance software will continue to grow.

    Actiance is perhaps the best-known social media compliance solution and is used by a large majority of companies in the financial services sector. They offer a full breadth of solutions on their platform that includes: Management and Control, Security, Archiving and eDiscovery. The Actiance solution is a robust solution that is perfect is your company is in one of the highly regulated industries.

    Smarsh covers a broad range of archival and compliance solutions. Their main focus is to provide social media archiving solutions that enable an organization to manage compliance and record retention.

    Socialware acts as a social middleware platform that allows a company to decide at what level they want to mange their company’s use of social media activity. You can deploy the solution company wide or restrict it to certain departments or groups. One of the nice things that Socialware has is a library of social compliance best practices and policies that keep users informed on the latest compliance issues and ways to address them.

    Postbeyond is a new product that provides social media amplification and compliance. It allows organizations to centrally control what content is made available to share by their employees through their own social networks. The platform provides a great set of dashboards and analytics tools that give organizations great control and transparency to what is being shared and by whom while at the same time ensuring that only approved company content gets shared

    Gremln helps companies stay compliant in regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare.  Gremln’s social media management tools allows companies to prevent posts with restricted words and phrases and archives post for up to 10 years. It also has features that allows for organizational and approval workflow for content being posted to social networks.

    No matter what your needs, social media compliance tools are a must have solution if your work for a company in regulated industries and are a good idea even for those that are not. Remember the old saying, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

    Another version of this article originally appeared in EContent magazine  on July 9, 2014

    When it comes to dominating search, especially when it comes to blogging and publishing, you need to always write your headlines and copy first for Google, then for people. Humans (and their flexible brains) are very forgiving when it comes to reading possibly stilted, "robotic," keyword-explicit headlines and articles, but Google is not.

    When it comes to dominating search, especially when it comes to blogging and publishing, you need to always write your headlines and copy first for Google, then for people. Humans (and their flexible brains) are very forgiving when it comes to reading possibly stilted, "robotic," keyword-explicit headlines and articles, but Google is not.

    Always Write for Google, Never for Humans

    You always need to always write exactly the copy -- the exact phrases -- that you believe people will most likely use to find what they're looking for -- and you're writing for. It's true, no matter what anyone says -- even at Google HQ!  The title is the most important but so is the first paragraph, especially if you can insert that copy into your Description Meta Tag and your Keywords Meta Tag headers.  It just makes sense, especially with breaking news, when you're proffering content that Google will not have the time to ruminate and deeply examine it before they need to include it in the real time web where it will show up on search.

    Google Can't Resist Hot Donuts

    As I have said before over the years, Google can't resist fresh hot donuts. They just eat 'em up. When there's breaking news, Google just passing stuff through, very literally, but right now. If you can get the keywords right and be the first to market (first post!) then you can take the headlines away from even the biggest players -- at least at first, and especially if there's a little orchestration.

    Learn from Cristina Everett's Leaked Memo

    cristinaEverettCase-in-point, Cristina Everett's memo to her WebEditors at New York Daily News on August 12. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Online Reputation Management (ORM) converge, where I live. I had a big pitch yesterday in NYC yesterday so I rode my motorcycle up and back. On the way home I played through my Stitcher queue. Half way through New Jersey Le Show came on. You'll know Le Show from its host, Harry Shearer. In every show, he reads through the week's trade publications and then features a segment named "I'm Sorry" in which he reads through the last week's formal apologies. On August 12th, New York Daily News editor Cristina Everett wrote a memo to her writers thanking them for the awesome work they've done getting and keeping their stories about the death of Robin Williams written by New York Daily News at the very top of organic search:

    From: Everett, Cristina Date: August 12, 2014 at 5:33:00 PM EDT To: WebEditors Subject: ENTERTAINMENT handoff! NOTES ON ROBIN WILLIAMS STORIES/HEDES!! Thank you to everyone who did a great story [sic] with keeping our stories SEO strong with the * Robin Williams dead at 63 * header for the first 24 hours. Starting tomorrow morning, we can scale back on the robot talk (meaning no death header) just as long as the stories continue to *start* with his full name and include buzzy search words like *death, dead, suicide, etc.*

    Behind Every Successful Paper There's a Cristina Everett

    christinaEverettGooglePlusCristina Everett may well be judged guilty in the court of industry and public opinion, but she's feeling the heat from above, isn't she? Journalism is becoming a kill or be killed blood sport. She is probably being pressured by her bosses about click-throughs, ad revenue, performance, and all that -- and she's dealing with dinosaurs, also known as reporters, and those trilobites known as copy editors -- professionals who only receive awards when they write carefully-turned prose, not when they write the perfect Google-bait, search-bait, link-bait. Cristina Everett will not get fired. She's a star. She delivers the goods! She's able to get her writers in line with both the stick and the carrot.  She was able to get her web team to write quickly, efficiently, and on-point, leveraging a global event, a beloved and universally-adored actor, and a tragic loss to bring a heap of traffic, attention, and ad revenue to wee little New York Daily News, broadsheet tabloid gossip mag.  Bringing vast attention, traffic, and notoriety -- even if it's negative -- is ultimately good for the paper.

    Robin Williams Dead at 63

    Were it not for the news story behind the memo, we would never have had the opportunity to see the truth behind the story: even in the post-keyword and post-link-juice, post-page rank era of Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin, one must always write for keywords, always write for Google -- especially for Google News, Yahoo! News, AOL News, and Bing NewsIt works! Robin Williams Dead At 63

    Pros Like to Make SEO Way More Complicated Than It Is

    Write every single line, from your headline to your closing line with Google in mind.  No matter how stilted your copy might be for the careful reader, you'll never ever get read if you don't end up in the first-5 search results on page of Google search -- or Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, Facebook, whatever.  Your article will never go viral, it'll never be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, reddit, or even on Google+.

    Good luck! Go git 'em, Tiger!

    It is more important than ever to be visible on Yelp these days. Google recently launched a major search algorithm update for local English-based search results in the U.S. The update is more than just another tweak to Google’s main algorithm, which seems to be tweaked about every 10 seconds. The Pigeon update has a substantial impact on organic listings for local businesses on Google Web Search and Google Map Search.

    It is more important than ever to be visible on Yelp these days. Google recently launched a major search algorithm update for local English-based search results in the U.S. The update is more than just another tweak to Google’s main algorithm, which seems to be tweaked about every 10 seconds. The Pigeon update has a substantial impact on organic listings for local businesses on Google Web Search and Google Map Search.

    Before any panic ensues, it is important to remember what Google has always been about, increased relevancy. The Pigeon update includes spelling corrections, traditional search ranking signals, and relevancy improvements regarding geographic location. Even more important, the update should solve an issue that has caused online unrest and ugliness recently. It will solve the “Yelp problem”.

    The Yelp Problem with Google Search Relevancy

    Yelp recently accused Google of putting its search results and reviews on Google+ before Yelp’s, even when the word “yelp” was typed in the search box. The Pigeon update appears to give all local search directories preferential rankings in search results. Additionally, its focus on geographic location and distance was intended to solve the Yelp issue.

    The Impact the Pigeon Update Will Have on Local Businesses

    As expected, Google did not give a clear statement regarding the impact the update will have on local businesses but it’s not the end of the world. Webmasters, SEOs, and business owners have noticed a sudden difference in site rankings. However, getting on the first page of Google might not be the best strategy for local business owners. Perhaps things would be better if small business owners focused on getting a top slot on one of the most popular local business listing services, such as Yelp.

    Rethinking Google Rankings and Relevancy

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    Is it better to have top rankings on top local business listing services or Google Search? It’s a new debate, which has recently become more prevalent. To be honest, continual top rankings on Google Search for meaningful keywords might not be a very viable internet marketing strategy anymore.

    Instead of trying to beat Google’s algorithm (good luck), it might be best for small business owners to focus on local business listing services. Create a profile, post some picture, and encourage customers to write reviews. Small business owners should continue to focus on their businesses, not the Pigeon update. However, the update could provide local business owners some incentive to rethink SEO strategy.

    Great Reviews on Local Business Listing Services Are More Important than Ever

    Get customers and clients excited about something different than a page one ranking. Go back to basics, and stop trying to decode every little alteration Google makes. Numerous local businesses should rethink their online marketing strategies. After all, the online world is continuing to merge with the real world. A line outside the door of a brick and mortar store might become synonymous with hundreds of rave reviews.

    About the Yelp Issue and the Pigeon Update

    True to its design, Google continues to strive for relevant searches. Obviously, a search that includes the words “New York, pizza, yelp reviews” is probably looking for reviews on Yelp. The Pigeon update fixed the glitch and solved the Yelp problem. 

     

    Robert Cialdini’s six principles of influence work together to connect intention and action and are vital to the success of any marketing activity. However, in digital and social marketing, the focus tends to rely on just two elements – social proof and liking. It’s partly why we often feel marketers and brands are “yelling” at us online. There is a simple antidote to this: be the first to give.

    In the digital world we are fascinated by influence. We want to know who has influence and we want to know who is influenced by whom. We strive for influence in our personal and professional lives and we reject the overt nature of influence that impacts us through advertising and messaging (even though it still affects us).

    Robert Cialdini’s book on Influence is a must-read for marketers. His six principles of influence work together to connect intention and action and are vital to the success of any marketing activity. However, in digital and social marketing, the focus tends to rely on just two elements – social proof and liking. It’s partly why we often feel marketers and brands are “yelling” at us online. There is a simple antidote to this:

    Be the first to give.

    In this infographic from Everreach, summarising the six principles, they call out that proactive use of reciprocity as a “weapon of influence”. Working this way creates a faster and more immediate bond between brands and their customers. More importantly, it sets the scene for the remaining elements. So, next time – before you ask someone to buy, think about what it is that you can give.

    Petwatchr_Infographic2