• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 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.
  • You’re an online business, so it makes sense to be using technology to help drive more sales, and grow your brand. There is a problem with technology though. There is way too much choice. It’s almost like being a kid in a candy (ecommerce) store.

    You’re an online business, so it makes sense to be using technology to help drive more sales, and grow your brand. There is a problem with technology though. There is way too much choice. It’s almost like being a kid in a candy (ecommerce) store.

    Don’t fret. I’ve scoured the Internet and here are 3 easy to implement technologies that you can start using today to help you start driving more ecommerce sales.

    1. Recovery Messages

    Over 68% of online shoppers will actually abandon their transaction once they reach the cart.  That’s actually surprisingly high if you think about it. These shoppers have gone through the entire process of learning about your products and added them to their shopping carts. But once they review their order, they leave.

    In fact research says that over 2 thirds of them are doing so. Clearly they had interest in buying, but for one reason or another they decided not to. That doesn’t mean that all is lost however, some of these customers might just need an added push or reminder to cross that purchase finish line.

    That’s where a recovery message can help.

    It doesn’t take too much imagination then to realize that reducing that number or winning back some of those cart abandons could be some really low hanging fruit when it comes to growing your business.

    If you’re on a Shopify Professional or Unlimited plan, one feature that some stores overlook is the fact that setting up an abandoned carts (or recovery message) alert email is actually an included feature.

    Shopify not only saves those abandoned transactions in your events database, but there is in fact a way to automatically send an email to a customer with a permalink to their abandoned checkout as well. If you do this in an automated fashion there is a good chance that a portion of those abandons will actually return to the store to complete the purchase.

    Here is a great tutorial from the Shopify documentation that walks you through the process of setting this up.

    2. Social Media

    As an ecommerce business there is a very good chance that customers are not only trying to interact with you though social media, but they expect you to be interacting with them in that fashion.

    More and more social media is becoming the most convenient way for customer to keep up with you and your business. Customer service issue? Social media. Product inquiry? Social media. Referring their friends? Social media.

    With that volume of activity, it’s important for you to keep an eye on that channel to make sure you’re not missing anything.

    A great tool to help you organize what’s going on across all your social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter, is Hootsuite.

    Use Hootsuite to consolidate all of your social feeds onto one screen. You can also use the tool to setup automated searches for mentions of your store name or URL, or even mentions of your industry. When you see your name come up or a related conversation come up that you can add value to, add your two cents, or reach out directly to those customers. Retail is detail, and using today’s channels to develop relationships with customers and potential customers is a great way to grow your business.

    3. Word of Mouth

    One of the most beneficial activities that customers can be engaging in online is generating positive word of mouth for your business. Forget the old definitions of B2B (business to business sales) and B2C (business to consumer), these days everything is H2H (human to human). This is especially true when it comes to marketing online. Consumers have trained themselves to tune out advertisements. Instead they are turning to each other for referrals and recommendations.

    Don’t miss out on that.

    There you have it. 3 quick technologies you can start using TODAY to help generate more sales for your store.

    According to a 2013 study, the average American consumes over 34 gigabytes (12 hours) of information daily. Due to this ever increasing “snack culture” it’s more important than ever to utilize new marketing strategies such as visual content.

    Today’s society is in a state of intoxication, people are unable to go anywhere without a constant overload of information being ambushed upon them. It’s more important than ever that we provide visual content that will be effective in:

    ●      Grabbing the reader’s attention

    ●      Consuming the information

    ●      Retaining the information.

    According to a 2013 study, the average American consumes over 34 gigabytes (12 hours) of information daily. Due to this ever increasing “snack culture” it’s more important than ever to utilize new marketing strategies such as visual content. To engage consumers, or businesses in B2B marketing, one has an estimated 6 seconds to convince the reader that the content is worth continuing to invest time into. Visual content such as slideshows, video presentations, or infographics can effectively enhance your message to your consumers.

    The Mobile Generation

    The majority of this information consumption is occurring today on mobile platforms. Although as of lately, mobile screen sizes are increasing nobody enjoys scrolling through pages of lengthy text on their smart phone. People prefer to ingest their information through fun, interesting, and exciting content where they can easily understand the message.

    First of all, mobile users will be turned off by the prospect of having to scroll through page after page of text on their phone to comprehend the message that your company is trying to relay. If you posted an article and no one even takes the time to read it, what effect does it have? Secondly, it’s easier for people retain the information if they’re interactive in the process. emaze provides an awesomely entertaining platform to enhance your message. The users are involved and interacting with the platform, which will help them to remember the content later on. Your message will also be associated positively with a cool experience the user had while they were reading it.


    Powered by emaze


    Visual Content is up and to the right

    Integrating visual content into an online marketing campaign will set the content apart from the rest of the information flow everyone is constantly bombarded with. The customer is drawn in by the visually appealing content and is presented with an overview of the material at large; meanwhile engaging them to eventually get them to the selling point.

    Piktochart  is an extremely useful tool to set your content apart from all of the same monotone articles available on the web. If you have a lot of important content you want to get across to your users, an infographic is your best bet to grab their attention, and spoon feed the information to your viewers. It used to be that you needed to hire a professional illustrator to make your own infographic, now with resources like Piktochart even the most artistically challenged can create easy to read and attractive infographics to share with their followers. Visua.ly made an infographic that tells you whether or not you should go ahead and make that infographic.

    In our case, we made an infographic because it portrays all of the statistics and information we wanted our readers to understand in a simple and fun to read and share format. This was so easy and fun to make using Piktochart.



    Human Nature

    The human brain is better equipped to acquire information through visual images than via text. MDG Advertising research supported evolutionary science’s claim by finding visual content got overall 94% more total views than plain textual content. The more people that view your content, the more people become engaged and want to obtain the services.

    Whether you’re writing an article and you want the title to stand out, or you just want a stimulating and appealing image about a sale you have coming up or a holiday greeting images will help people become more engaged in your brand People are more likely to remember the adorable holiday imagery you uploaded of your brand, then the written sentiment about how much they appreciate your business.

    Canva offers a great innovative solution that allows you to design all of your own graphic content. Canva’s extremely compatible with all of your social media channels, allowing you to upload straight onto your page. They also come completely prepared with all of the necessary measurements and characteristics you may need for your Twitter banner or optimal box size for Pinterest. This optimizes your content so it’s the perfect fit for sharing on whatever social media sites you’re taking advantage of because they’re all tailored differently and your content should take that into mind.


    Instantly you’ve taken your message from boring and dull to a neat experience where the user is totally involved and actively taking part in consuming the message. Finally, you can use this new innovative visual content to increase virality. Visual content is easily shareable. If the content is unique and interesting, the content may create a viral impact leading to high-volume traffic to the site, and unsurpassable brand exposure. A viral post can bring new users onto your page to see what’s the face behind the attractive message, once you’ve got them on your page you can begin having conversations and funneling the new users toward your CTA. 

    While social circles are buzzing with increasingly sober discussions of the channel's difficulties delivering marketing results, that conversation seems not to have reached the ears of the CMO quite yet. Mainstream marketing media, which was late to recognize the growing investment in social media marketing, is now tardy in covering the growing body of data demonstrating social's challenges as a marketing channel.

    The coming year will be a watershed one for social media marketing, I predict, and not in a positive way. A topic that was only whispered about in private conversations early in the year is now being openly discussed: For many brands, earned media and content marketing are not delivering results in line with the investments. Some claim our metrics and strategies must mature, but it is getting harder to ignore the limitations of marketing in the social channel. So unavoidable is this discussion that even at the Social Media Today Social Shake-Up, a confab of social elite, a speaker asked from the main stage, "In a year, will any of you produce a deck with 'social' in its title?"

    While social circles are buzzing with increasingly sober discussions of the channel's difficulties delivering marketing results, that conversation seems not to have reached the ears of the CMO quite yet. Mainstream marketing media, which was late to recognize the growing investment in social media marketing, is now tardy in covering the growing body of data demonstrating social's challenges as a marketing channel.

    Adweek, continuing its trend of being impressed with engagement rather than results, recently featured an article on the "top Tumblr posts of 2014." These posts were not selected as "top" because they delivered any marketing ROI but because lots of people liked them, and thus Adweek has once again uncovered that deep marketing insight that people love inspirational quotes, hot models, animated GIFs and pets. (Shocking!) This is representative of the coverage that social media continues to receive from the marketing media--big numbers lead while investments bleed.

    Since your CMO does not seem to be getting good advice to guide decisions on social investments, I'd like to offer up five tips to help him or her consider how to manage social media budgets and efforts in 2015:

    • Stop trying to make your brand interesting with tweets and posts; instead, give people a reason to talk about your brand in meaningful ways. The organic reach of brand content on Facebook is dying. Not dwindling; dying. The story is little different on other social networks. Brand engagement on Twitter is minuscule and, although engagement on Instagram is fine today, it is only a matter of time before Instagram goes the way of other social networks before it.

      By the end of 2015, the talk will be about zero reach in brands' organic social media marketing efforts, and it will become impossible to ignore that brand publishing is not and never was going to be the way to succeed in social media. The real social media strategy that has worked from the beginning is to get people talking with each other, not about brand content but about actual products and services. The reason is that people trust each other far more than they trust you and your brand.

      There are several ways to leverage peer-to-peer brand communications. Bring trusted consumer ratings and observations into your site, integrated on the pages where prospects consider your products and services, as USAA has done on product pages. Leverage trusted relationships to create connections between your brand and prospects, as Ameriprise does with its LinkedIn "Find an Advisor" feature. Encourage positive comments, not on Twitter where tweets are quickly lost in the void, but on the rating and review sites that people trust to help them make purchase decisions. In 2015, CMOs will be forced to realize that the key to social media success is not publishing content but getting people talking with each other about brands' products and services.
    • Stop trying to go viral; instead, use social media to solve consumer problems:  Viral posts get a lot of attention because everyone loves big numbers, but there is little evidence they drive brand value. KMart had the most viral brand video in 2013, but it didn't stop the retailer's continued slide. The same thing happened in 2014: This year's most viral brand campaign was the Ellen Oscar selfie, but despite Publicis CEO Maurice Levy's claim it delivered Samsung a billion dollars of value, Samsung's smartphone market share slipped 25% from Q3 2013 to Q3 2014. (Where viral campaigns tend to help is not with established brands but with up and comers such as HelloFlo and Wren, but even then, the one-in-a-million shot of achieving "viral' scale is so remote, the few success stories hardly suggest that viral marketing is a smart strategy.)

      Your marketing goal is not to go viral; it's not even to get engagement. Your marketing goal is to deliver demonstrable business results, and that means changing consumer behaviors and attitudes. Viral videos too often sacrifice brand impact for entertainment value, and that is a lousy trade to make.

      Rather than try to be funny, instead focus on solving consumer problems. Fifth Third Bank didn't make the waves that Samsung did, but its Reemploy campaign got unemployed mortgage borrowers back to work and delivered the brand the sort of "buzz" that encourages consideration. USAA partnered with the NFL for a Salute to Service campaign that increased appreciation for military service members, raised over $400,000 for military support organizations and generated considerable social media buzz with on-field events.
    • Stop saying "Content is King." Start focusing brand-building energies on the Customer Experience. First exercise: Other than brands whose product actually is content, name a brand you purchase regularly because of content it produces. Now list the brands to which you are loyal because their products or services furnish a great and consistent experience. How do those numbers compare?

      Here's another exercise: List brands you know that have achieved significant success in the past two decades years with content. Then, list the brands that came out of nowhere with little advertising or content but built World of Mouth based on their product or service experience. (Here's a list to get you started on the latter: Ebay, Amazon, Uber, Nest, Square, Flip Video, Google, Krispy Kreme, Zappos, Tesla, Facebook, Apple Store, Jawbone, Angry Birds, PayPal, Evernote, Dropbox and Warby Parker.)

      There you go--I have cured you of the need to ever again say "Content is king" in just two paragraphs. Content is not king--customer experience is king. Why do marketers keep repeating that tired and untrue phrase? Probably because content seems easy to do (just a hire a "brand journalist," whatever that is), is in their wheelhouse (they have been producing ads for decades, after all), and marketers generally control content but not the product and service experience. Well, it is long past time for that to change.

      Advertising and content are important, but nothing is more powerful than Customer Experience. This has always been the case, but in an age of transparency where media is splintering, mass media is slipping and consumers have greater control over communication channels, it is not content but Customer Experience that fills the top of the funnel. Marketers can no longer afford to ignore the high-impact product and service experiences being fashioned by others in the organization while they worry about less powerful ad impressions and social engagement. Smart marketers must turn inward and ensure that the brand experience is crafted end-to-end--not just what happens leading up to purchase but what happens afterwards--because that is where true brand building occurs.
    • Stop being lied to and start demanding better information. Who do you expect will tell the CMO the truth that social media marketing is widely failing to meet expectations? The professionals getting paychecks to produce content for social channels? The agency trying to maximize utilization of its storytellers and community managers? The authors whose books extolling the value of earned media launched their careers? A social media industry has been built to separate the CMO from his or her budget, which is why marketing leaders must seek out the real, unadulterated and unbiased data and insight about social media marketing.

      There is a lot of bad data and analysis out there, and even data from reliable sources can be twisted and misrepresented. For example, dozens of blog posts have mentioned that IBM's recent Black Friday white paper reported that Facebook traffic delivered an average of $109.94 per order over Thanksgiving weekend. That sounds important, but is it really without knowing the scale of orders delivered? IBM is suspiciously silent on that topic considering its 2013 study found that social media drove a mere 1% of purchases. While IBM may not be divulging social network traffic's share of purchases, Custora is. The company evaluated data from 100 US online retailers, 100 million online shoppers and over $40 billion in transaction revenue in the first two weeks of December. It found that social media (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) drove just 2% of orders (down from 2.5% during the same period in 2013).

      The time has come for marketers to get more critical about the data and analysis they receive. If marketing leaders rely on incomplete, unreliable or misrepresented data to drive social media decisions, they have no one to blame but themselves for disappointing outcomes.
    • Your social media metrics suck, so change them. Social media has been Goodhart's Law in action: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."

      Likes, retweets and shares were briefly meaningful in the early days of social, when brands earned them solely by offering great products and services, but the second those social engagement metrics became goals rather than measures of success, everything changed. Brands started buying fans with contests, sweepstakes and giveaways. Community managers started gaming engagement with posts of puppies and "like-bait" images. Fan counts soared and engagement rose, but since these tactics were designed to yield positive social media metrics and not valuable business results, it all amounted to little for brands. Is it any wonder that the vast majority of CMOs have no quantitative idea if their social investments are paying off or not? (They're not.)

      If you have a social media scorecard with counts of likes, fans, retweets and pins, throw it out and demand better. Those metrics are easily manipulated and are not measures of business success. Marketing leaders need to focus on more important measures in 2015: Improvements in preference and purchase intent, enhanced share of wallet, beneficial social behaviors such as recommendations, and financial measures including repurchase, clicks and conversions. Those are not as easy to measure as likes and retweets, but the most valuable marketing metrics are rarely the easiest of obtain.

    By the end of 2015, I believe we will be having a much different conversation about social media with substantially less focus on brand content and more about social products, social services and social good. If your CMO uses the five tips mentioned above, he or she can be ahead of the game and ensure the company is aligning its marketing budgets to the strategies most likely to deliver results that matter. Or, brands can keep running social sweepstakes, doing funny videos and begging for likes and shares, but I can promise those tactics will not get the job done for the Marketing department, and by the end of 2015, that will be impossible to hide.

    In support of people at all stages of their lives, I'd like to share a story today, about a young man who spent two years homeless on the streets of a small city in western Canada. The winters were cold, but he managed to get by on one meal a day at a local drop-in centre (when he could manage to arrive on time). His friends were drug dealers, prostitutes, and other street kids.

    You probably have an image in your mind of what a homeless person looks like. Aimless, scruffy and detached from the realities of the "regular" world. No doubt you’ve walked past one now and then with nary a thought in your mind about their situation outside of maybe feeling a bit of pity.

    When you think about it, walking past a homeless person that way isn’t much different than blasting your contacts with marketing messages. When we treat people as targets, its all too easy to forget they are anything more.

    In support of people at all stages of their lives, I'd like to share a story today, about a young man who spent two years homeless on the streets of a small city in western Canada. The winters were cold, but he managed to get by on one meal a day at a local drop-in centre (when he could manage to arrive on time). His friends were drug dealers, prostitutes, and other street kids.

    He had no mental illness. He came from a large, loving family and had lots of friends. You could certainly say he didn’t have his life together, but it wasn’t as if he were suffering from a debilitating condition that forced him onto the streets, either. It just happened to be where he was at that time in his life.

    He shares that the winters were hardest. Making it through by hunkering down in an old trailer with a number of other street people on the coldest nights. Everyone was welcome to crash, as long as they didn’t bring any drugs, johns or other trouble with them.

    He related a story of being so hungry one day that he walked several miles on a chilly fall evening into the suburbs, seeking a backyard garden that wasn’t completely harvested. Peering from the relative safety of dark alleys and into backyards, he spotted one, dropped to the ground and crawled on his belly under a barb-wire fence and into the planted rows. Pulling one carrot at a time from the ground, he ate quietly, weeping silently between mouthfuls of carrot, roughly sprinkled with chunks of dirt.

    Having eaten as much as he could without disturbing too much of the garden, he backed out – still on his belly - using his toes and elbows to push out into the alley without making too much sound or disturbing too much of the garden, in case he would need to return. Having cleared the barbs, he retraced his route, scrambling through the shadows to make his way back toward the downtown.

    Weeks later, seeing his disheveled appearance in a shop window, he was engulfed in incredible shame, turned and ran away as fast as he could from the eyes of passersby. The experience jolted some sense into him and he spent the next few days cleaning himself up, even getting a haircut and some clean clothes from the Salvation Army. Eventually, he worked up the nerve to pick up a pay phone and dialled his mother. When she answered, he simply asked, “Can I come home?”

    Welcomed Home With Open Arms


    I’m fortunate my parents welcomed me home with open arms – I felt loved again. Yes, I was that street kid. I probably don’t fit that image now, and I didn’t then either. Not long after that, when I was just 17 (that's me in the pic), my mother passed away, drowning while saving a seven-year-old child who swam out past a sandbar drop-off during a summer birthday party and swim. I have the Gov. Gen.’s Award for Bravery and the Carnegie Medal my mother won in exchange for her life.

    These were difficult times in my life, and they weren’t the last ones. As many of you know, 30-odd years later I would battle (and beat) stage IV cancer, weather the economic boom and bust of my adoptive city, and go on to found an award-winning online marketing firm. 

    In truth, I may not know you, but I do know, that you – like every other person on this earth – have had formative experiences in your own life that can’t be represented by a marketing profile or demographics, no matter how well crafted. The unique experiences we go through in our lives mold us into the people we become. They should also teach us that making real connections with one another, and being of assistance where we can, is always more important than studying click-through rates or reducing the people we encounter to just numbers.

    To me, remembering that connections, followers and personas are real people with diverse backgrounds worthy of more than that, is about the most powerful holiday message I can share, and maybe even the most important piece of “marketing” advice I could ever give.

    So, the next time you connect with someone – online or off – please remember you can never know what their personal journey has been, or may become in the future. But you just might get a wonderful opportunity to learn about it and help them along their way.

    Find out what top brands are winning in social media sentiment in uberVU via Hootsuite's Naughty or Nice List!
    We’re helping Santa out this holiday season by letting social decide who gets a present and who gets a lump of coal this year. Using the uberVU via Hootsuite platform*, we’ve compared sentiment levels for brands in Retail, Financial Services, Automotive, Travel & Hospitality, Food & Beverage, Technology, Consumer Packaged Goods and Media & Entertainment to determine which brands social has deemed Nice and which have been Naughty.
    Find out what brands earned the top spots and why in Social Media’s Naughty or Nice List.
    * The social data featured in this infographic came from the 26 social platforms and more than 100 million data sources the uberVU via Hootsuite platform monitors, including (but not limited to) Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Reddit, Flickr, blog posts, blog comments, premium news sources (like the New York Times) and many others from September 16 to December 16, 2014.