• 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.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • LPope
    Leah Pope on September 23, 2014

    Using Social Intelligence to Build the Sales Pipeline

    The social web has opened new channels for consumers to discuss products and brands, share opinions and ask for recommendations. Brands today must take a more responsive approach focused around interests relevant to the individual consumer. With the right tools in place, brands can uncover these opportunities, engage strategically and directly contribute to trackable lead generation.
  • Creating high-converting landing pages can be a hard task, but with these 5 tips, you will be able to optimize your CRO and reach more and more clients.

    Creating appealing, attention-grabbing landing pages on your website is only half the battle. High-quality design won't get you very far unless the pages are optimized to convert. However, conversion rate optimization doesn't need to be excessively complicated. Here are some tips to improve landing page CRO:

    1. Outline your landing page goals

    This one may seem intuitive, but it's important to define your goals to ensure the design is on track. Think about your overall campaign if the landing page is related to pay-per-click advertising.

    Are you trying to attract new blog subscribers, get people to sign up for free trials or download a case study? It's crucial to know this information in advance because too wide of a scope can derail a campaign fairly quickly, ensuring you won't see the CRO you want. Make sure your ad copy matches the landing page for better conversion rates.

    2. Always test

    We can't say this enough: A/B testing is essential to improve CRO. Using data to make adjustments to either your ads or landing pages can help you make better choices about certain components.

    3. Think about social media

    If your company has an active social media presence, landing pages need to take on a whole new dimension to be effective, according to Search Engine Watch. For starters, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus are all different.

    Users have varied preferences. This means you can't take a cookie cutter approach to landing pages or direct followers from these different networks to the same page.

    The copy has to resonate with social media followers and should provide a unified brand experience. For these landing pages to succeed at converting, you should only ask for the information necessary for conversion.

    Too many other steps can detract from the social media network. This is a good practice for any landing page; don't ask for more information than you actually need because it can contribute to higher form abandonment rates.

    4. Don't mistake responsive Web design for optimization

    The number of mobile searches is rapidly accelerating. In addition, consumers use multiple devices before converting. Citing data from millwardbrown, Conversioner reported that the average person interacts with a website from 2.6 different devices before converting.

    This number indicates that people use each of their devices for separate purposes while engaging with Web content.

    While the rapid expansion of smartphones and tablets has caused marketers to consider responsive Web design, this isn't a substitute for CRO. While you need to provide a consistent experience for users who access your website from multiple devices, each channel needs to be optimized individually.

    5. Use directional cues

    You don't have very long to win customers over with a landing page. In fact, visitors will make a decision about whether they want to stay on the page or not within a few seconds. This is based on whether the page matches the ad, the offer is something they want, they understand the content and the design is visually appealing, according to The Wishpond Blog.

    This sounds like a pretty strong impression to deliver within an extremely limited timeframe. To get better CRO, you need to design pages that lead viewers' eyes in the direction you want them to take.

    For example, white space can grab attention, especially when it's placed next to a lead generation form. Arrows and other linear cues can also make your call to action stand out more.

    Utilizing directional cues can help you make your landing pages more focused, which provides a better experience for website visitors.

     
    The downstream cost of security breaches is enormous. Each one of these companies will get a bounced payment if I don’t update my records immediately. They’ll have to spend time and money tracking down customers for updated payment information.

    What’s the Real Impact of a Data Breach on Your Business?

    I discovered last week that I was one of the 56 million or more privileged to be included in the Home Depot security breach. My Visa card was compromised, and the crooks had already tried to charge more that $1000 in purchases at Walmart.

    Thankfully my credit union noticed the fraudulent transactions and blocked my account until they could get confirmation from me. Unfortunately, they didn’t have my current phone number (I dropped my landline and forgot to notify them). Instead, it took a call from me wondering why my transactions weren’t going through to find out what was going on.

    This isn’t the first time I’ve been a victim of such fraud, but I escaped the Target data breach and this is the first time in a few years I’ve had to deal with the repercussions of such an incident. I had lost track of how dependent I had become on electronic payments in our cashless society.

    As I think through how many companies are auto-billing my Visa, I’m amazed at how much time it’s going to take to straighten everything out: My insurance company, the gym, my hosting company, stored accounts on e-commerce sites. The list goes on.

    And that’s just me.

    What about the companies involved?

    The downstream cost of security breaches is enormous. Each one of these companies will get a bounced payment if I don’t update my records immediately. They’ll have to spend time and money tracking down customers for updated payment information. My credit union has answer untold calls from unhappy customers, block and refund transactions, and issue new cards.

    Home Depot of course has to deal with the brunt it. The media backlash. The expenses associated with notifying affected customers. The cost of free credit monitoring. The damaged reputation.
    The whole situation has left me feeling that the only safe transaction is a cash one, but that’s certainly not practical in this day and age.

    I know I’m not alone in this plight, and many of your reading this are in the same situation. While the personal impact is frustrating, the business impact can be much greater.

    Are You Ready?

    Security experts say it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you’ll face a similar challenge so you need to prepare.

    • When your company has a security breach, do you know what to do?
    • Are you making appropriate efforts to protect your customers' data?
    • What’s the risk to your hard-earned brand and reputation?
    • Would such a breach have the potential to put your company out of business?

    I haven’t seen figures yet on what this will cost Home Depot, and the effects of this breach will be far reaching.

    It’s like a hurricane that affects much more than the residents, employers and local businesses in the area it hits. Insurers, mortgage companies and all the service providers like gas and electric are impacted. Friends and relatives feel the effects, even when they live far away. Car dealers, home furnishing stores, delivery services, medical practices, they all feel the pain.

    The difference is that a hurricane is a natural disaster. Hacking isn’t.

    Businesses have a responsibility to do everything possible to prevent these security breaches, although staying ahead of the game can be difficult. If you haven’t done so already, take some time in the next day or two to review your company’s security protocols and crisis response plan.

    Make sure these are solid as they can possibly be. If you don’t have them, jump on it and do something. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

    This may not be your forte, but it’s mission critical. Seek help when you need it from a qualified technology expert or security consultant. Get a communications consultant to help you with the crisis response plan. Make sure your employees know how to detect and prevent such instances, and if they suspect them, be sure they know how to respond.

    Don’t become the next data breach headline.

    For the past couple months I have been working with WikiReviews, a better place for online reviews, to help them launch their platform, and we put together couple statistics that inspired us when we thought about the value we can deliver not only to the review and wiki communities, but also to small businesses that suffer from spam and negative reviews which pollute existing platforms.

    There’s no denying the importance of online reviews, ratings, and social media for small businesses. Consumers are using those signals more and more before, during, and after the buying process.

    From vetting a company or product to rating the website and social media content, consumers are using online reviews and ratings to publicly evaluate companies and products.

    What does this mean for all of us? Simply put, we need to embrace and promote a culture that is catered to the online review world – free of spam and unethical businesses gaming the system.

    For the past couple months I have been working with WikiReviews, a better place for online reviews, to help them launch their platform, and we put together couple statistics that inspired us when we thought about the value we can deliver not only to the review and wiki communities, but also to small businesses that suffer from spam and negative reviews which pollute existing platforms.

    8 Internet User Statistics Every Small Business Should Know About

    Inspired by a popular blog post on WikiReviews Herald.
    What’s your experience with online reviews and ratings?
    Brandscaping occurs when two (or more) brands get together and form a marketing partnership that increases demand for all brands involved. Typically the brands aren’t direct competitors but instead have a shared customer demographic.

    One of the greatest benefits that has sprung up around social media is what it’s done for brandscaping. If you’re not familiar with the concept, you’ll want to listen up. Brandscaping occurs when two (or more) brands get together and form a marketing partnership that increases demand for all brands involved. Typically the brands aren’t direct competitors but instead have a shared customer demographic.

    Think of it as a “hot dog and buns” approach to marketing. Sure, you can have one or the other on a plate but together they’re an unbeatable combination. It takes finesse and a leap of faith to make brandscaping successful but the rewards are worth it.

    Why is brandscaping such a successful strategy? Let’s take a look.

    Power in numbers. It’s difficult to stand out in a crowded space but there’s definitely power in numbers. Cross-promotional social campaigns that include both brands usually cost no more than a single-brand campaign but reach twice the audience. Brandscaping is also a way to pool resources to create collateral each company might not be able to produce on their own. The cost to produce set of videos or infographics can add up quickly but if more than one brand is pitching in, it’s easier to share the investment.       

    Consumers like options. Customers love to find new ways to use their favorite products. Teaming up with a brand that compliments what you have to offer is a terrific way for consumers to find options they never knew existed. Brandscaping is also a great way to reexamine your own brand to see what new and added value you have to offer that you never noticed before. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one.           

    Your brand looks friendly. Much like political smear campaigns, customers don’t like mud-slinging ads where brands bash a competitor. Marketing partnerships make your brand feel approachable and amiable instead of flustered and worried about competition. Brandscaping sends consumers the message that you’re so confident in your product or service that you’re even willing to share the spotlight with others.

    Great for networking. You’ve heard the advice before: To really succeed on social networks, find and engage with the thought leaders in your industry. Brandscaping is a smart way to approach potentially valuable partners by bringing something to the table that’s mutually beneficial to you both.

    Many brands are reluctant to take a chance on connecting with competitors for fear of losing ground with their customers. When done right, however, brandscaping can take your business and customer relationships to a whole new level.

    Image: blu-news.org

    In social business circles, there is a strong disposition towards inclusivity in decision making. The notion is that when you involve people in decisions that effect them, then it is much more likely that they will be on board with any changes that are required. What’s more, you’re also much more likely to get wide and varied information input into the process.
    In social business circles, there is a strong disposition towards inclusivity in decision making.  The notion is that when you involve people in decisions that effect them, then it is much more likely that they will be on board with any changes that are required.  What’s more, you’re also much more likely to get wide and varied information input into the process.

    A recent paper highlights just how important this is.  It reveals that when leaders fail to either take into account the perceptions of those involved, or indeed give them an avenue to express their opinions, it is much more likely that the change will go wrong.  When the leader can envision things from other peoples perspectives however, it often produces better outcomes.

    “Effective leadership is like a successful car ride. To go places, you need gas and acceleration—power is a psychological accelerator. But you also need a good steering wheel so you don’t crash as you speed down the highway—perspective-taking is that psychological steering wheel,” said the researchers, from Columbia Business School. “When you anchor too heavily onto your own perspective, and don’t take into account the viewpoints of others you are bound to crash.”

    Hobbesian fallacy

    The study explored the Hobbesian fallacy of seeing the world through your own eyes via a number of experiments.  It found that the more power one possesses, the worse one generally becomes at understanding the perspectives of others.  Their opinions become increasingly anchored around their own vantage point.

    What’s more, there is a consistent disconnect between those who have the social skills to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others, and those who actually have the power to initiate change.

    When the perfect combination exists within a leader however, it tends to ensure that challenging situations are managed successfully, whilst also facilitating the kind of information sharing that ensures people feel listened to and valued, and of course ensuring that complex decisions obtain the best possible outcome.

    How good are leaders in your organization at adopting and understanding the perspectives of those outside of their inner circle?

    leadership / shutterstock