• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 18, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • According to Catalyst.org, women currently hold 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.4 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. While it is obvious the glass ceiling still exists on an executive level, this is also likely to change as the white-collar economy moves towards a less hierarchical model, as predicted by Times.com.

    Times.com recently published their ‘Future of Work’ article with predictions on how jobs will change and evolve by 2025. An interesting observation made was the likelihood that the future of work will see an increase in women dominating business. This is in fact already happening on a global scale- over half the corporate leaders in China are women, and India has more women CEOs than the US. In the US we have seen women lead companies in historically male-dominated industries such as IBM's CEO Virginia Rometty, and Hewlett-Packard's CEO Meg Whitman to name a few.

    According to Catalyst.org, women currently hold 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and 5.4 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. While it is obvious the glass ceiling still exists on an executive level, this is also likely to change as the white-collar economy moves towards a less hierarchical model, as predicted by Times.com. The article in Times.com asked:

    “Are the women themselves making the difference? Or are these smart firms that make smart moves, like promoting women? There is growing evidence that in today's marketplace the female management style is not only distinctly different but also essential.”

    Female leadership style, or ‘transformational leadership style’ is heavily engaged and motivational, with female leaders described as “consensus builders, conciliators and collaborators.” As the future of work sees the emergence of a global decentralised workforce, female management skills will be highly sought after where executives will be required to skilfully manage remote teams. Diversity across gender, race, and indeed time-zones will help foster a more creative and collaborative workforce that is more adept to meeting the challenges of the future of work.

    Companies that provide female-friendly working environments will find flexibility has indeed become ‘a compelling business strategy’ that will help boost productivity and retain talented female leaders. And it should be noted that providing flexible working environments is not only attractive to women, but also Millennials entering the workforce who demand a mobile and flexible work environment, as well as the Boomer’s approaching retirement who are now looking to scale down to part-time work.

    Perhaps the historical negative connotations of the ‘work life balance’ phrase in the corporate world should be renamed, as suggested by Times.com’s Claire Shipman to ‘Make More Money’. This is really the point of these disruptive changes in the white-collar economy- the formula for a competitive business model in the globalised era is one that needs to adapt for the growing decentralised and virtual marketplace, where 'the demand for female management skills will be stronger than ever', and where the focus will be on results as opposed to time spent within office walls.

    Content marketing takes many shapes and sizes. As a company builds out its marketing plans, it may be a daunting task to determine what shapes and sizes are the right fit. We recently polled other marketers and chatted with the Twitter community about their winning content formats, so we wanted to share some of the various responses we received with you. I created a list of five content marketing formats you may be overlooking.

    Content marketing takes many shapes and sizes. As a company builds out its marketing plans, it may be a daunting task to determine what shapes and sizes are the right fit. We recently polled other marketers and chatted with the Twitter community about their winning content formats, so we wanted to share some of the various responses we received with you. We decided to create a list of five content marketing formats you may be overlooking.

    Podcasts:

    While the popularity of visual content has changed the way online audiences process information, podcasting is finally getting its shine on as a hot resource for connecting with consumers. Why? It’s informative and dynamic. Podcasts allow you to elaborate on larger-picture ideas in a way that’s more personal and convenient. Ryan Hanley--an industry influencer who you should keep your eyes on--does a great job demonstrating his podcasting chops (recent guests include Jerod Morris and Jay Baer).

    Quizzes:

    Trends may come and go, but the online quiz has solidified itself in the digital world as an interactive and engaging content tool for marketers. If you’re trying to create something fun and shareable or are trying to gather audience information, there’s no limit to the data you can collect from a well-thought-out quiz. Just be sure to provide the user with something they value, such as personality test results, knowledgebase scores, an unlocked exclusive deal, or a piece of content.

    Slide Shows:

    They aren’t simply for internal business communications or college presentations. Tools like SlideShare have transformed the way marketers are formatting content by creating easily digestible, shareable, and downloadable content by way of slides. Create a powerful SlideShare that showcases your expertise; upload it to the hosting service; and watch as it gets passed around among others in your field. The ability to embed your SlideShare presentation into a blog post is also incredibly practical, as it provides a visual connection to your content and keeps your audience focused. For inspiration or to share as curated content, MarketingProfs is a trusted resource with more than 80 SlideShare presentations.

    Video:

    Video marketing is on the up and up. We’ve all been nodding and grinning about its importance, but if you’re not carving out a space for it in your marketing initiatives, you’re truly overlooking this content format. Platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, and Vine are dominating online communities. If you establish yourself here early on, the benefits will be immeasurable and constant. Especially because YouTube is the second largest search engine used, other than Google.

    Interviews:

    There’s almost nothing more valuable than getting first-hand knowledge from an industry expert or thought leader. It is the ultimate piece of credible content. It signifies that you recognize key influencers and that you have merit by virtue of scoring their time and input. With that, other influencers will value your position and seek you out as a forum for their fresh perspectives. All of this works together to establish your own authority, opening doors for engagement with your target audience. Add valuable content, and acquire customers. It’s the content marketing way.

    Are there any overlooked content formats you'd like to see in this list? Add yours in the comments section, or let us know if you’ve used any of the content formats above with success.

    “Having spent a number of years in the digital video space, we saw there was a huge opportunity to work with companies who understand a video’s performance is tracked by more than just views,” said Jonathan Stefansky, co-founder and CEO of the Israel-based platform, Viewbix.

    ’Tis the season to push your holiday marketing plan. If you started planning it as early as September, you’ve been reaping the benefits of the 23 percent of consumers that started shopping in early fall, according to a 2014 report by Accenture. On the other hand, you may need a quick, creative outbound communication campaign to capture shoppers through year’s end.

    At this point in the season, online video marketing is probably the most practical use of your marketing time and energy. That is unless you have time to write 1.8 million words—the equivalent to a one-minute video, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research.[[{"fid":"210266","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: right; width: 189px; height: 300px; ","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

    Viewbix makes it really quick and easy to create interactive videos. With five minutes, and your YouTube or Vimeo video, you can customize your video in terms of colors, size, and call to action. The interactive features include music, additional videos, and photos from services such as Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa. You can even add a Twitter feed, eBay auctions, coupons, and Skype integration. Then all that is left to do is embed and share your video everywhere, including on Facebook, Twitter, websites, blogs, and mobile devices.

    “Having spent a number of years in the digital video space, we saw there was a huge opportunity to work with companies who understand a video’s performance is tracked by more than just views,” said Jonathan Stefansky, co-founder and CEO of the Israel-based platform. “Video consumption habits shifted tremendously, and companies quickly started to search for a better way to measure true ROI from their video content. We built a quick prototype, which got covered by a small blog, and were blown away by the number of businesses who signed up for our service. This was our ‘ah-ha’ moment because it truly validated the need for a better way to engage with consumers through videos, and for companies to measure results by engagement.”

    Another “ah-ha” moment was when Stefansky and his co-founder, Hillel Scheinfeld, COO, looked at the increase in engagement Viewbix-enhanced videos get when shared on social channels. For example, clients have seen a 35 percent uplift in engagement for Facebook campaigns with Viewbix-enhanced videos.

    Cuisinart is a great example of a brand that was looking to drive email signups, click-throughs to their product pages, and social followers from their videos,” Scheinfeld said. “We started by running Facebook video ads using our video platform and drove engagement rates of more than 25 percent. In other words, more than 25 percent of viewers who watched Cuisinart’s videos took at least one of the calls to action they were looking for, which were opting-in to email sign up, clicking through to their site, or becoming a fan or follower on social.”

    [[{"fid":"210271","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 60px; ","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]You can add a call to action at various points in your video to drive the specific engagement you want from viewers. While you drive measurable ROE (rate of engagement) from your videos, you get detailed, actionable analytics to understand how and where they’re performing best.

    “Our brands can see when and where viewers opt-in to the call to action, where they share the video, how long they watched the video, and more,” Stefansky said. “You can also quickly change the placement of your creative or call to action based on how and where viewers are engaging. Essentially, you don’t have to wait until after the campaign wraps to measure performance; you make changes in real time based on real-time feedback.”

    [[{"fid":"210261","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-top: 6px; margin-bottom: 6px; float: right; width: 300px; height: 201px; ","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

    Since Viewbix launched in April 2011, it has seen the rise of mobile viewing coupled with the effectiveness of running videos on social networks. As a result, Viewbix’ default player is on HTML5, though it still supports Flash.

    “We hope to be able to extend our distribution reach to other social networks such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram,” said Scheinfeld. “These platforms are a natural fit for social video advertising, and the shift in consumption habits coupled with the shift in ad dollars reflects that.”

    I worry, sometimes, that we take the process of hiring, onboarding, coaching, developing and managing the performance of sales people too casually. Too often, managers tend to treat sales people as commodities.

    I worry, sometimes, that we take the process of hiring, onboarding, coaching, developing and managing the performance of sales people too casually. Too often, managers tend to treat sales people as commodities.

    There’s an attitude of quickly hiring the best that’s available, if that person doesn’t work out, we can fire them and hire someone new.  Likewise, as business goes through it’s natural ups and downs, sales organizations are expanded and contracted to fit our budgets.

    It’s not just a sales management issue, too many sales people move from job to job, never staying in a job long enough to be long enough to produce results.

    Recently, I heard a great speaker at CEB’s conference.  He outlined some frightening statistics, here are some that scared me to death:

    • The average tenure of a sales person from the time they start a job to the time they leave is less than 2 years (Sales Readiness Group).
    • The average tenure of a sales manager is 19 months.
    • 47% of companies say it takes 10 or more months for new sales people to become fully productive (67% are 7 or more months)(CSO Insights).
    • 58% of reps make quota (CSO Insights).

    Taken together they present a frightening view of selling and the cost of sales.  Basically, we have to make our money from a sales person in a little more than a year.  That is, to get a return on our investment in hiring and onboarding someone-who takes 7-10 months to be full productive, but who will probably leave within the next 14 months; we have them produce at least 2 years worth of business in those 14 months!

    But it gets even worse.  That sales person is probably on their second manager, who takes some time to ramp and become effective as a manager.

    But think further.  Many people selling complex B2B solutions have sales cycles longer than 18 months.  So coming into a job, they may “inherit” great deals started by the previous sales person–but we’re new so our likelihood of winning is low.  The deals that we qualify early on in our tenure on a job is probably very low–because we are new and don’t know the right deals to qualify.  As we get to the 10 plus month mark, we start recognizing what a quality opportunity is, the quality of the deals we chase go up, then 14 months later……..

    It’s no wonder overall quota performance is so bad.  It’s no wonder we constantly struggle with the cost of selling and getting a return from our investments in selling.

    And then there are the customers.  We talk about the importance of relationships, of establishing the trust and confidence.  Yet, it can look like a constantly revolving door to our customers.  For a buying cycle that may be longer than 12 months, a “trusted” sales person is seldom involved for more than one buying cycle.  Customers have to constantly invest in “training,” and developing relationships with new sales people and sales managers.

    It’s no wonder, customers search for ways to minimize sales involvement in their buying process.  If they are constantly “training,” new sales people, if the sales person isn’t as knowledgeable as she should be, if there is no relationship, the sales person can be a disruption and slow the customer down.

    So at a high level, the economics behind a sales person and organization are challenging, when we look at the data on time to productivity, average time spent in a job, churn at a sales and managerial level, and declining performance results.

    There is always a danger in dealing with high level data and averages across large numbers of people.  But I the data should cause us to rethink the people side of our profession.  We can’t be casual about this, it’s simply costing us to much in money and opportunity.

    We have to be purposeful about recruiting, the costs of a bad hire can be millions.  We have to be purposeful about onboarding, we need to get people to full productivity as quickly as we can.  We have to be purposeful about performance management, coaching and development.  We have to look to retaining sales people–providing great work environments, meaningful career development.  Churning people as business goes through ups and downs, or as we look at different strategies du jour is expensive and wrong for both the business and people.  It’s a demonstration of bad leadership/management.

    This isn’t just a management issue, sales people own a large part of this.  Jumping from job to job may seem the thing to do, but you are cheating yourselves and your companies.  If you want to be a high performing business professional, you need to hang around long enough to learn and to prove that you can accomplish something.  I’m amazed when I see resumes of people with 10 jobs in as many years.  It causes me to question their real capabilities and experience, particularly, since it’s unlikely whatever success they attained was primarily due to their efforts.  While you wonder about “loyalty,” the real concern is can they produce?  Have they hung around long enough to fairly claim the results of their work, not someone who preceded them?  People may be able to fool hiring managers for a few jobs, but ultimately, hopping jobs will catch up with everyone.

    Both managers and sales people seem to have a very short-term attitude to longevity and experience in a role.  It’s a costly practice, both from an organizational and individual point of view.  The impact to organizations is $millions.  The impact to individuals can amount to $100’s of thousands to millions because they haven’t developed the deep experience they need from staying in a role long enough.

    It’s time to understand the true business and personal costs to the short-term perspectives we take.

    Photo Credit: Sales Force/shutterstock

    Cha-ching! With a little extra effort on your part, you can see a noticeable increase in sales on Cyber Monday. Learn the most effective (and time-constraint friendly) marketing tactics to use to give your business a chance at cashing in on this profitable day.

    Cyber Monday, Black Friday’s technologically savvier cousin, is right around the corner. (Seriously, it falls on December 1 this year.)

    For online sellers, this means it’s time to stop dreaming of all that turkey you’re about to eat (or tofurkey, if you’re like me) and get your ass into high gear.

    Still not motivated? These stats from last year's Cyber Monday might help:

    • 2013 Cyber Monday sales totaled $2.29 billion.
    • Social media drove $148 million in sales between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

    Sounds even tastier than that turkey, right? Let's get this last-minute guide to Cyber Monday started!

    Upload Your Products ASAP

    You know how you initially uploaded three of your products to your ecommerce site or online shop with the mental promise that you’d get to the other 30 at some point soon?

    Well, now it's months later, and you’re still offering only a few products online, when you really have a much wider and more appealing selection offline. Remember, the more products you have for sale, the more credible your business looks. And the more likely it is for you to appeal to a wider audience.

    If the idea of getting all of your products up at once is overwhelming, set aside 30 minutes to an hour each night to ensure you’ve made some serious progress come Cyber Monday. Don't forget that great product descriptions as well as captivating images can make a big difference in the amount of sales you get too.

    Now pour yourself a glass of wine (or two, if you’re like me) and start uploading products like it’s your job. (Because it kinda is.)

    Don't Go Crazy With Discounts

    We all know that consumers are going to be looking for smoking deals this day, but don’t let that pressure you into offering discounts you can’t afford. (You know the old saying, "Never write a check that your ass can't cash"?)

    Larger brands can easily discount their entire product line if they want to, but if a small business owner does that, it can kill their profit margin almost instantly. (But at least it'll be a quick death?) Instead, why not tier your discounts based on how much a consumer spends? For example: spend $100, get $20 off, spend $50, get $10 off.

    You can also give gift cards instead of an immediate discount. Spend $200 and receive a $50 gift card with your online order.

    Send Out an Email Blast

    Email marketing is undoubtedly your friend when it comes to everyday marketing tactics. But it’s your best friend when it comes to the big, profitable shopping days like Cyber Monday.

    Here’s what you need to do:

    • First, define your deal. (E.g., all sweaters are 25% off.)
    • Second, write persuasive copy. And give your deal urgency. For example: Warm, cozy, stylish… and 25% off?! That’s right! Our entire line of sweaters is on sale for one glorious day only! Get this great deal on Cyber Monday by using the promo code LETSCYBER at checkout. Browse our sweater selection now.
    • Third, use an eye-catching subject line. (E.g., Our best Cyber Monday deal ever)

    Send this email a few days before the sale to drum up interest and then send another the day-of with revised copy, like this example below:

    • Subject line: Hurry! 25% off sweaters today only
    • Body of email: It’s here! It’s here! Cyber Monday is upon us and you know what that means… 25% off our entire inventory of sweaters. But, hurry, you’ve only got today to score this smoking deal. Enter promo code LETSCYBER at checkout. Shop now.

    Always include a call to action (e.g., browse now, shop now) and be sure to include a direct link to your online shop for easy purchasing before sending your emails!

    Promote Heavily on Social Media

    Of course, you’ll want to promote your products and deal(s) on social media in advance, but a heavy push the day-of is also going to be important.

    Without over-killing it and annoying your followers, a few tweets and posts throughout the day will help remind your target market to check out what you have to offer.

    According to PFS Web, online sales peak beginning at 11 a.m. EST on Cyber Monday and hold strong until late in the evening, meaning it would be smart for you to be on the computer continually this day, tweeting, sharing, pinning, Instagramming (and so on) your deal along with product pictures.

    Use hashtags on applicable sites (#cybermonday and #cybermondaydeals) to help deal-seekers find you. Be on hand to reply to customers and join in on the online conversations to help you drive sales and engage with shoppers.

    Put Down That Pie and Get Started

    Just kidding. You can totally do all of the above whilst eating any type of pie, but pumpkin is preferable. (Heavy on the whipped cream.)

    What's most important is that you actually give your small business a fighting chance to be seen and heard, not only on Cyber Monday, but throughout the holiday season.

    And you can do this by creating a marketing plan of attack (ahem, like the one above) and committing to helping it succeed by working on it a bit every day.

    Continue on with special incentives throughout December, including email blasts and social media posts to help ensure this holiday season is your best, and most profitable one, yet!

    Share your questions below on how to increase Cyber Monday sales.