Archive for the ‘tweet’ tag
If you think it’s dumb, don’t do it.
Not many marketing professionals are willing to do that. Recently, I saw a quote from a famed author who said: "I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than tweet." Personally, I’d rather stick pins in my eyes that be forced to read their book, but that’s a whole other story. This author’s sentiment could be replicated and replaced with channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, podcasting, TV advertising, or whatever. The problem is this: I’ve run into too many brands who feel this way, but are still doing it because they feel like they have to. Their boss told them to do it, it’s where the consumers are, their competitors are doing it, they feel internal peer pressure, they feel industry peer pressure and other issues. Personally, I’m guilty as charged when it comes to being a maniacal evangelist for digital marketing.
It’s a philosophical issue over one of pragmatism. I believe that the Internet has brought forth an amazing opportunity for brands to connect (in a more human, personal and humane way) with consumers. I believe that the Internet has brought forth the chance for everyone to publish their thoughts – in text, images, audio and video – instantly and for free to the world and such a profound gift should not be wasted. I believe that advertising can be more than a discount, coupon or annoyingly repetitive message to induce a zombie-like effect on consumers. I believe that the Internet has brought forth the ability for brands to give consumers utility – something they would actually want and use – to add value to the consumer’s life and, in turn, create a deep loyalty and connectivity between the brand and its customers.
If it’s not for you… it’s not for you.
I have been fortunate to be a guest on multiple podcasts where the "host" has asked me to provide all of the questions that they should ask. In the same instance I was instructed to not be so salesy, but once the recording commenced, every question was tweaked for the host to shill how great their company is, and how they could help all of listeners with every issue we were discussing. I have been asked to be interviewed for blogs and online publications and then sent an email to not only write the questions, but the responses as well. You could chalk this all up to lazy journalism (or, a complete lack of journalism), but there is something deeper… something more profound is happening here. Brands are taking part in social media and digital publishing with a much stronger prowess, when it comes to having a strategy and plan in place, but the chasm between the vision and mission of these offerings is often quickly uncovered in those who are mandated to make it successful. If the people on your team (those charged with making the strategy comes to life) don’t have the skills, passion, ability and belief in it, all is lost.
A newspaper is not about the printer.
You don’t read a newspaper because of how it is printed. You don’t read a newspaper because of its business desire to generate revenue. You read a newspaper for the content. And, if we’re going to scratch beneath the surface, you come back, talk about the content with peers and are encouraged to read it again tomorrow based on the passion that flows from the fingers of the journalists. If everyone writing for the newspaper was merely an employee, going through the motions, because that’s the job, what do you think the success rate of that paper would be? When we see online publishers like Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and Medium, what is plainly obvious is how passionate and knowledgeable the content creators are. In fact, it goes well beyond the content and into the creators’ personal channels (Google +, Facebook, Twitter, etc…) in how they market, share and extend the discourse because they want their ideas to spread.
I have to do social media.
So, if your sentiment is similar to that of the famed author mentioned above, you may want to take a step back and simply walk away from these channels. I wouldn’t recommend this as a strategy, but if you’re that dead set against it, the world would rather have no direct relationship with you (and your brand) in lieu of marketing blather that is being created with a gun being pointed at your head. Perhaps straight-up advertising would be the ideal solution for when you have something that you want to promote. Because, if you don’t care for it, why should your audience? But, here’s the bigger question that the nay-sayers and those who are down on social channels need to ask themselves: if you are looking to sell and promote something, isn’t being negative or not present on a channel where your most heavy users are probably interested in connecting with you akin to saying, I have a store and I simply don’t have the time or effort to turn the lights on, unlock the door and be cordial to those who want to come in?
It’s 2013… and we’re still having this conversation? This disbelief in the channels? Really?
An alarming rumor circulated through Twitter today that the White House had been bombed and that President Obama had been injured. The source? The Associated Press, a reputable news organization whose Twitter account was hacked.
At 1:07 p.m. ET, the @AP account tweeted the following message: “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”
The Associated Press has since released the following statement:
Hackers have compromised the main Twitter account of The Associated Press, sending out an erroneous tweet about an attack at the White House. The tweet, which said that there had been two explosions at the White House and President Barack Obama was injured, came after hackers made repeated attempts to steal the passwords of AP journalists. The AP said Tuesday that its Twitter account had been suspended following a hack and said it was working to correct the issue. The cyberattack is the latest in a string targeting international media organizations. The tweet put out by hackers briefly sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average sharply lower.
The company added:
In addition to the main AP Twitter account (@AP) being hacked, AP’s mobile Twitter account has also been hacked. Please do not respond to news posted by @AP_Mobile. The account will be suspended as soon as possible.
The Associated Press has been using multiple outlets to warn the public, including Facebook.
“The Associated Press Twitter account (@AP) has been hacked. Please do not respond to news posted there in the last 20 minutes,” the company said on Facebook.
AP also tweeted at 1:18 p.m. ET from the Associated Press Stylebook account, @APStylebook, “The (at)AP twitter account has been hacked. A tweet about an attack at the White House is false. We will advise on acct. status.”
Associated Press reporter Mike Baker added from his @MikeBakerAP account that “The @ap hack came less than an hour after some of us received an impressively disguised phishing email.”
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
So, what do you think of my thought leadership?
Ugh. Really? When you speak or write in a forum that has audience and attention, the people who are giving you the platform have to sell you. In that, you have to be able to sell yourself to those people as well (so that they feel like you are worthy of their platform). It’s a strange balancing act between being humble about what you – as an individual – can bring to the table and your ability to self promote. Have you ever given a presentation? Have you ever sat in the audience (or to the side of the stage) and had everybody look at you while the host reads out an extended and self-promotional bio on you to hype up the audience? It has to be – without question – one of the hardest things I have to do. I just find the whole experience… embarrassing (or awkward). In those instances, I have been called everything from a guru, innovator, futurist, genius and yes, even a thought leader.
What is the point and value of thought leadership?
Candidly, if you ask me what I do, I say that I am President of Twist Image – a digital marketing agency. If pushed for more, I will say that I am a writer and a public speaker. No, that’s not my elevator pitch, it is the professional titles that I am most comfortable with. I can’t imagine ever calling myself a thought leader. On April 15th, 2013, DigiDay ran an interesting news item titled, Do Agencies Really Need ‘Thought Leaders’?. The article states: "’Thought leadership’ means different things to different people, of course, and the expectations of those in such positions vary from agency to agency. But ultimately, their responsibilities tend to boil down to a mix of research, education, and PR and marketing for the agency itself. Many see their roles as formulating and filtering information and ideas, and packaging them in a way that’s of value to the organization and its clients, or at least makes it appear like it’s up to speed… While agency staffers might not see specific value in it, the fact of the matter is that it’s always been there in one form or another. And based on that fact it looks like its here to stay.."
Well, I guess we’re thought leaders after all.
This DigiDay piece came at an interesting time. I had just finished reading Steve Woodruff‘s blog post titled, We Do Everything…Just Like Everybody Else!, where Woodruff chastises digital marketing agencies for rattling off a similar list of services in an attempt to be everything to everyone. His concern is valid because if everyone offers similar services, then it all becomes highly commoditized. The truth is this: unless you are a specialty shop – focused on one thin slice of the marketing pie – digital marketing does become (somewhat) commoditized. It’s hard not to look at a list of services or agency websites and not feel like you could toss these lists and all of the agency logos into the air and wherever they fell on the ground, it would still sound about right. We work in a highly technical space, but that technology is driven by three things: strategy, creativity and innovation. In fairness, without the thought leadership component, every agency is a commodity. What clients are buying when they engage a digital marketing agency is piece of mind. They are buying a new way of thinking and doing their digital marketing and, if the thinkers at the agency aren’t doing this from a position of industry leadership, then all is lost. In essence, there is no strategy, creativity and innovation without a deep layer of thought leadership.
Are you a thought leader?
The biggest reason why thought leadership has now become so serious (in terms of it being desperately needed by clients) and such a joke (in terms of people self-identifying themselves as thought leaders) is because of social media. Sure, we always had thought leaders in the marketing industry, but these people were, typically, the secret sauce/secret weapons. They were only trotted out to interface with clients and give them the confidence that the work that the agency was doing was their best work and that no other competitor had access to this type of brainpower. Occasionally, these individuals would appear in the industry trades or at events, but – for the most part – they were client-facing only. Now, with social media, these thinkers are blogging, podcasting, tweeting, on Facebook and more. They are public. They are sharing how they think (look no further than the work of Avinash Kaushik, Bryan Eisenberg, Nilofer Merchant, Charlene Li and many more). They are now "giving away the goods", as it were. And, by doing so, are building not only their practices but their personas and platforms. They are becoming celebrities within their industry. They are commanding significant speaking fees and still attracting impressive advances to write books, while helping their clients get results. In a sense, the uncoupling of these people may come off as bravado or chest thumping when, in reality, all of this publicness has led to a much steeper growth curve for their respective agencies and businesses.
There’s nothing wrong with thought leadership.
Finding comfort in these strange and awkward titles is never easy. If, as an individual, you are truly helping your business, your clients and the industry think, learn, grow and become more, then the title may just be applicable. My experience has been this: I could never call myself a thought leader, but if someone else feels like that’s what I am, I am flattered by it because it means that part of the work that I do (the work that is published and broadcasted) is finding an audience and connecting to it. The challenge comes when self-anointed thought leaders arrive, because it’s hard to be a leader if you are truly not leading anybody except a small group into believing that your resume is more impressive than it truly is.
What do you make of thought leadership as a professional designation in marketing?
When is the right time to tweet?
I have a very special place in my heart for the city of Boston. One of my best childhood memories is when my parents would pack up my three brothers and I, throw us in the back trunk of our pale blue station wagon (wood paneling too, I think!) for the five-hour drive from Montreal to Boston, to visit our cousins there. The road trip seemed to last forever, and the four of us would tumble around in the trunk like a bunch of apples that got loose from the grocery shopping bag (imagine that… no seatbelts!). Thinking back, it felt like the trip took so long because of the anticipation of what was to come: spending time with our cousins, roaming shopping malls, going to the beach and the amusement parks… you know, being kids. Those road trips, sadly, stopped as we got older, but Boston came back into my life. The person who I was with at the time, got into Harvard University just as our relationship was getting serious. So, nearly every weekend, I would leave work a little bit early and drive to Boston to spend time with her. I would drive back at some point on Sunday. Driving from Montreal to Boston became like my daily commute to work and I fell in love with the city (all over again). That girl became my wife. Over the years, I’ve been to Boston countless times for speaking events and get-togethers. To this day, one of the most pivotal events in my digital life was taking part in the first-ever PodCamp (which was held in Boston). The people I met there are, to this day, some of my closest and most trusted friends. Not the kind of friends you collect on Facebook, but the kind that you can’t wait to see in their protein forms.
It was late at night and I was just crawling into bed in Cannes. I was over in Europe speaking at a corporate event for Cisco and the jet-lag was kicking in. I turned on CNN right before shut-eye and could not believe that two bombs had gone off at the Boston Marathon. My original plan was to play around on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and my blog. I was going to share some of the information that I had been collecting over the past few days. Because of all the travel, I felt like I was slacking (just a little bit). My Twitter stream and Facebook newsfeed was filled – literally – with only two types of tweets:
- Those sending positive wishes and thoughts to everyone in Boston (I sent a few of those myself).
- Those telling everyone else to please shut-off, mute or turn down all of the typical self-promotional tweets (both to brands and individuals).
It’s number two that got to me.
Had I not turned on CNN late at night in France or looked first to the Twitter stream of Facebook feeds, I could have easily been an insensitive wonk. So, instead of tweeting anything, I just closed the lid of my MacBook Air and continued to watch CNN. When I woke up the next morning, it was still night time in North America. CNN (and the other news outlets) were regurgitating the same news. There was nothing new to report and – as with 24 hour news cycles – they were scouring the bottom of the barrels to speak to anyone who might have an opinion (no matter how misguided) on the subject. At this point, I turned to Fast Company and began reading a fascinating article on innovation. I was about to tweet it out and all I could say to myself is, "too soon?" I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure what the answer was.
What is the right protocol?
Yesterday, Steve Crescenzo wrote an op-ed piece for Ragan Communications titled, Guy Kawasaki is too ‘popular’ to stop autotweets during Boston bombings. In short the blog post chastises Kawasaki for not turning off his auto-tweets. Crescenzo blogs: "While the news about the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon was just being broken, and for several hours afterwards, most companies shut down their promotional efforts on Twitter and other social media. Most people and organizations rightly came to the conclusion that to continue to hawk their wares while a national tragedy was unfolding (and people were using Twitter to get and exchange news) was a little insensitive, to say the least." Adding fuel to this Twitter controversy, Kawasaki (who has over 1.2 million followers) tweeted: "Loving how people with less than 1,500 followers are telling me how to tweet…" There’s no doubt that going silent after offering up a thought of hope to the people in Boston is the simple and easy thing to do. But, when is it ok to start back up? It’s a touchy subject because of how sensitive the issue is, but was Guy Kawasaki really doing anything all that wrong? Individuals who are duly insulted can simply unfollow him. Individuals who are saddened by the event but want to take their mind off of it may have found solace and comfort in following some of Guy’s links (that were clearly not being created at the time of the tragedy). Was Kawasaki really doing anything wrong (perhaps, with the exception, of that tweet about how to use Twitter)?
Here’s what I saw…
When I opened my window to let some cool Cannes fresh air into my room after hearing about the bombings, people were still laughing, drinking, celebrating and chatting down by the pool. The other TV channels were showing movies, comedies, dramas and more. People were still engaged in social conversation and connectivity. Yes, we were rattled and we were thinking about it, but life went on… and it seemed to go on fairly quickly.
This isn’t about Crescenzo and it isn’t about Kawasaki. It’s about how Twitter has become mass media.
Kawasaki has a large following and this makes him a target. Brands are the same. Everybody is watching in a moment like this to see who gets it "right" and who is "messing it up." I am not defending Kawasaki, but simply pointing out that when I read Crescendo’s blog post, I hopped over to CNN and saw that dozens of people were killed and over 850 people were injured in an earthquake in Iran, at least 35 people dead in an earthquake in Pakistan, a teenager kills herself after alleged rape and bullying, a bomb in Bangalore injures at least 16 and many more global tragedies (think about Somalia, children dying because they don’t have a simple mosquito net in Africa, child slavery and the sex trade in the Philippines… and much more). Isn’t that blog post criticizing others just a little bit insensitive considering how many more people have died because of a tragedy at that, exact, moment in time? Shouldn’t all of our attention and tweets be directed at that and how to help humanity instead of being hurtful to our fellow human beings? Of course, Crescenzo did nothing wrong (and, for the record, he’s someone I have longed admired and I’m merely using his blog post as an example to tell a story). This is what it feels like: we are now treating individuals like brands and brands like individuals because of social media. The only difference is this: we’re treating social media like mass media, and that’s the truly depressing component. See, if Guy wants to tweet (or auto-tweet), the beauty of social media is this: I can choose to ignore, unfollow and never see brands and/or individuals (or their wares) in my feed. If someone retweets these entities, I can unfollow them too. I can keep my social media… social… and personal. I do not have to follow or engage with anyone that goes against my values. What I do hate is the fact that I wanted to share that Fast Company article on innovation, but I didn’t because I was worried what others might think. "Did Mitch just share a link after NOT saying something about Boston? How insensitive!" or it could have been, "Mitch, thanks for sharing that article, I needed something interesting to keep my mind off of the tragedies in Boston!" Still, I’m not sure when is the right time to tweet or when I am offending someone. The truth is this: the fact that I have to worry about offending others and being the subject of an "so and so simply doesn’t get it" type of piece makes me want to delete all of my social media accounts. I’m human. I have emotions. I want to share. I’m not trying to be a jerk. I’m not trying to be insensitive. I’m also not trying to capitalize on a tragedy for my own financial gain. If you follow those rules… and follow your heart when it comes to what feels right to you – as an individual or a brand – isn’t that the best social media strategy? Otherwise, aren’t we just turning Twitter and Facebook and everything else into this strange, homogenous and sanitized mass media channel that we all revolted against in the first place?
What do you think?
Did you see @TheBandPerry on #DWTS last night? I’d love to see them in concert!
Ten seconds later, bloopity blip: @TheBandPerry begins their concert tour in The OC in Sept. Click to buy txts now!
Wow. It’s as if they read my mind. . . or my Twitter stream.
Twitter has just introduced keyword targeting to their Promoted Tweet program and it’s pretty Sweet.
Instead of inserting ads based on the general interest graph, Twitter can now target individuals who mention a specific keyword. Stack a location choice on top of that and you’ve got a display ad that should convert way more often than your average Promoted Tweet.
Twitter says that one of their beta testers, wearable camera company @GoPro, received almost 2 million impressions with an engagement rate up to 11% using keyword targeting.
What’s not to believe? Responding directly to a person’s needs means there’s a greater chance of follow-through. Send me a lunch coupon in the evening and I’m likely to pass. Send it to me at noon and I’m on my way. Then there’s that added bonus of Twitter’s portability. Of all the social networks, it’s the one that I find easiest to scan on a smartphone while I’m on the go. There’s an immediacy that works.
The only downside is the creep factor. As a marketer, I understand the need for targeting. As a consumer, I actually appreciate seeing ads that are relevant. But I still get a little wigged out when I see ads following me around the internet. Twitter’s keyword targeting goes even further because it’s a response not just a duplication.
Let me see if I can explain that better. I visit CVS.com, look at vitamins, then I leave and go to my favorite entertainment news site. There in the sidebar is an ad for CVS vitamins. I get it. My browser kept track of where I was and reported that to the ad network which sent the ad in hopes that I’ll go back and buy what I was looking at minutes ago.
On Twitter, I type a random comment about feeling tired, maybe I need vitamins. Suddenly, here’s a Tweet from CVS saying, here’s a deal on vitamins. Under the surface, it’s the same mechanism, but to the consumer, it’s like CVS is reading my Tweets and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.
Yes, I know my Tweets are public. I often get sales pitches from humans who currently scan for keywords by hand, so it’s not a new concept. It’s still a little creepy. Effective, but creepy.
What are your thoughts on Twitter’s new twist?
It can easily tarnish a brand’s identity when a user brings his or her complain on the social media. But it also goes the same for reaping compliments for your customers. In order to take advantage of social media for your business, it is best that you know how you can properly integrate it to your customer support service
Means of Communication Between You and Your Fans
It may be counterintuitive for your campaign to let users post complains on your page, but it is more ideal than letting them rant elsewhere. You can easily respond to your customers’ issues if you let them post on your page. If you do it right, you can turn their opinions around because of your superb customer service. Just remember to open the floor for complaints with a concrete plan on how you would handle them.
Bring Your Existing Fans to Your Page
Using you current means of reaching out to your customers, bring your existing fans to your social media profiles. Run a contest or a promotion on your Facebook, and include it on your product’s packaging, newsletter, or email. After all, they already “like” your brand in real life.
Connect with Your Customers
People uses social media to connect and be heard. Interact with users who talk about your brand, whether it’s a compliment or complaint. Don’t wait for someone to post on your wall or mention you in his or her tweet. Make them happy by listening to what they have to say.
Give Your Brand Ambassadors a Bonus
Always keep on searching for your brands, and think of ways on how you can rewards them. Turn them into advocates of your products by making them feel special. It can be as simple as pitching new or upcoming products, giving them a free sample, or giving them an office tour.
Share Compelling Content
It will be difficult for your brand to engage your customers through social media if you don’t have anything special to say. That’s why use your online platform to share useful and relevant content to your customers. Every brand can—and should—create and share quality content.
Other than texts, you can also share content in other media form such as images or videos to make it more engaging. Moreover, encourage your customers to participate and share contents on your page. That way, you are making your online presence sound and look human, and your interaction with your precious clients is more personal.
Using various social media for your business can impact your brand big time. So use it to its full extent, but don’t forget to learn how you can handle it properly.
Source: Social Media Magazine by Thomas Hendele | Flickr
The post Taking Advantage of Social Media for Customer Service appeared first on About Social Media.
Wait, I missed International Friendship Day? I guess if I had any friends, I would've known. In most countries it's the first Sunday in August. It's July 20 in Argentina, where this year it inspired a novel campaign from women's fashion retailer Todomoda, ad agency +Castro and advertising students at Escuela Superior de Creativos Publicitarios—allowing friends to literally share tweets. An app allowed one friend to start a 140-character tweet and a second friend to finish it—it then appeared in both feeds. There were also games testing friends' knowledge of each other, with Todomoda discounts as prizes. Per +Castro, the campaign was seen by almost 600,000 Twitter users in two weeks, and 4,000 girls took part. That's impressive, though the whole concept—detailed in the happy-happy shop-shop case study below—makes me wonder if "friendship," by and large, has degenerated to the point where it's nothing more than a promotional peg. Help me find the best deals on the coolest stuff … and let's share a tweet, connect on Facebook and split an order of branded nachos at the mall while we max out our credit cards. In today's world, that's what friends are for.
For a single-product website, the homepage is often the landing page. Let’s look at a recent homepage test with a MECLABS Research Partner to see what lessons you can learn from it to improve your own testing and optimization efforts.
(Please Note: Research Partner name has been blurred to protect competitive advantage.)
The new homepage and cart resulted in a 58% lift. These results validated at a 99% level of confidence.
What You Need to Understand
The homepage was redesigned to follow the user’s thought sequence and to clearly state the value proposition. This added more credibility and value to the page, which resulted in a higher conversion rate.
Another important change, which isn’t readily apparent from the above creative samples, was the optimization of the cart process. A simplified process reduced friction and made it easier for users to buy the product.
There was a total reduction of six steps, with most of those steps being unnecessary and unneeded. The necessary steps were combined into one page on the cart. This created a better user experience and a higher rate of conversion.
Everywhere I look, I see B2B marketing that spouts "join the conversation," "get in the conversation," and other references to the word that skew it's meaning into the equivalent of "talk to the hand."
In my last post, I wrote about debunking the B2B buzzword, engagement. In the same vein, I'm wondering what the heck happened to the art of conversation? Have we become so numb by the ability to publish whatever we want that we've forgotten how to be human?
The words dialogue and conversation are also interchanged without thought but, in online marketing, they have different criterion:
Conversation: an interchange of thought, information actively shared between/among people. (Requires 2 or more people)
Dialogue: an exchange of information (Only requires one person)
The difference here is that a conversation is an active exchange of information between people where a dialogue (as an exchange of information) could be between a person and a website, blog, video, etc. without the need for two active (human) participants.
I think this is an important distinction. I do not think the two are interchangeable.
Let's look at some examples of what a conversation is NOT:
- A push email – even if the recipient clicks
- A Tweet with no commentary (title and link and handle)
- A blog post with comments from readers, but no response from the author (This does, however, change if readers are commenting in response to each other.)
- A white paper download
- Viewing a video
Examples of what transforms dialogue into conversation is response.
- I receive an email, click the link, and forward the email on to a colleague who responds back to me with comment about the content I shared. We may exchange several more emails in discussion about the content.
- I receive a comment on my blog, respond back and ask a follow-on question and the person comes back to answer the question. Or another reader jumps in and answers the question I asked and I respond to them.
- Someone posts a question to a LinkedIn group and provides a link to a blog post or article on the topic. Group members respond by leaving comments and referencing perspectives of others – discussion ensues.
If I had just clicked the link and read the information in the first example, there is no conversation. It's the act of involving others and adding my commentary that turns the dialogue into a conversation. There must be back and forth between people for a conversation to form.
The evolution is that we don't need oral communication to have a conversation. As long as two people are involved, a conversation can be facilitated by a variety of technology platforms, from email to communities to social media and beyond.
But, it's only dialogue if technology is carrying on half of the conversation.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge proponent of marketing automation. Use your technology to establish a dialogue that engages people through contextual information they want and need, GO YOU! But it's not a conversation until another person gets involved. This is because the "dialogue" is dependent on the behavior of the single participant, not both.
[If I visit this webpage, the system sends me a link to content A. If I visit a landing page and download a white paper, the system sends me content B. Etc. In a dialoge scenario, there's not a possiblity that it could veer off to content X.]
This is even more important when you consider social media. I see so many exchanges where someone is looking for help, only to be told to call an 800 number. Really? That's the best you can do? Although that fits the criterion for a conversation (2 or more people), there's also a difference between a valuable conversation and a crappy excuse for one.
So, when you think about "conversation" in marketing terms – what are you doing to make it more human?
And for those of you thinking "Wait. I get thousands of responses to my nurturing program! I can't possibly deal with this…" I would point you to buying stages and personas and battening down your lead scoring schema to get to intelligence that's useful. It's all in your approach to prioritization.
Don't let conversation become a meaningless buzzword. With a little art and science we can make marketing human, approachable, and definitely more social.
Which offers and messaging on your homepage will most likely motivate your potential customers to act? I was recently asked about free trials versus demos. Today, I will answer that question. But first, as background to that question, let’s look at the challenges of homepage optimization.
Homepage optimization can be a frustrating experience for a marketing team. For starters, in some organizations, the homepage is a highly coveted prize, and meeting room warfare can quickly erupt when any homepage changes are brought to the table.
Making matters worse, marketers will frequently test both their homepage and landing page using identical goals. This misguided approach to testing efforts can yield results that can potentially ruin a campaign and possibly even a career.
Before you can optimize offers and messaging, it is critical to understand the objectives of a homepage, the perception of your customers, and the importance of testing to discover what really works.
The objective of a homepage
MarketingExperiments recently held a special live optimization clinic, “Homepage Optimization Applied: Learn how to replicate a 331% lift on your own site.”
In it, we discussed some of the principles we have discovered from our homepage testing that you might want to consider in your testing:
- Too often, marketers confuse the objective of a homepage with the objective of a landing page.
- In most cases, the objective of a homepage should be to get various prospect types on the correct path up the inverted funnel.
- One way to approach this objective is to shift treating the homepage more like a directory page. (In other words, sort and direct homepage traffic to the correct landing page so prospects begin their push up the sales funnel on the right track.)
Perception. Perception. Perception.
Following the Web clinic I mentioned above, I received an email from Alex Volkov, Customer Success Specialist, SalesCrunch.com.
We had selected Alex’s homepage for our live optimization (you can click here to skip directly to the live optimization of that homepage), and he presented us with an excellent question I wanted to share with all of you.
“In the segment with our page, one of the comments you made was regarding ‘Free trial’ buttons. You said that it asks for too much commitment in this action. You then said that a ‘Demo’ button would have been preferable, as it would be less commitment for the prospect. I would like to ask you to clarify how requesting a demo involves less commitment than a free trial.”
– Alex Volkov, Customer Success Specialist, SalesCrunch.com
First, I wanted to thank Alex for his questions and comments. We receive great questions like these all the time from our Web clinic audiences, and providing the answers quickly definitely keeps us on our toes! So thank you again, Alex. (Also, you can pose your questions to the MarketingExperiments community in the MarketingExperiments Optimization group on LinkedIn.)
To help provide some context around the comments we made on Alex’s homepage submission during our live optimization, I wanted to start with a focus on perception. Our perception is that of a visitor to Alex’s homepage (or to your homepage, perhaps) and the perceived commitment level in the mind of that visitor.
We’re also taking into consideration the perceived outcome as well. (Remember, one of the principles we use in our optimization methodology at MarketingExperiments is that marketers do not optimize webpages. They optimize thought sequences.)
Therefore, a consideration of perceived commitment in the mind of a visitor must also include a consideration of perceived outcome given the options presented.
“Free Trial” vs. “Demo”
A demo can be presented in multiple forms (video, sales presentation, etc.). In most cases, however, it also comes with an environment that allows the visitor to listen, ask questions and focus on understanding the offer, rather than trying to understand and navigate without a guide simultaneously.
Combine unsupervised navigation with a target market of business professionals, (people who are already very busy), and you might be leaving potential leads on the table.
I suggest that if you have a product that is perceived to produce a relatively quick result, and is easy to understand quickly, then a “free trial” call-to-action may produce a measurable increase in interest.
Conversely, if your product is perceived by a visitor to involve a lot of data entry, is complicated to install, and, in general, cannot be used immediately, then sales opportunities are possibly being lost.
In other words, they may perceive too much cost (in this case, work on their part to install and learn a new piece of software, etc.) to try a “free trial.” Meanwhile, there is likely a lot less cost to just watch the demo.
To be certain of this, as in all optimization efforts, you must test it.
Testing in focus
Your focus on testing should be to understand the effects of the call-to-action language, amount and approach used to attract customers. (I would test “Watch it work” perhaps as an interesting treatment alternative to “Demo.” It is also very possible that your testing could conclude no significant difference at all.)
Multiple test ideas out there could become treatments that produce lifts. Once you find one that works, I wouldn’t stop there.
Test as many variations that answer this question as you possibly can and you’re one step closer to understanding how your homepage can play a better role in connecting you with your potential customers.
Testing really helps put your changes in perspective. You likely live, sleep, eat and breathe your homepage, so you may look at offering a free trial of what you perceive to be a great product as a fantastic, can’t miss offer for any visitor.
However, testing will show you what really matters to your visitors … not to you.
Keep in mind, the disposition of most of your visitors will be not to act, and you have to overcome that hurdle by reducing cost and increasing value. I believe author Robert McKee explained this element of human nature best when he said …
“Human nature is fundamentally conservative. We never do more than we have to, expend any energy we don’t have to, take any risks we don’t have to, change if we don’t have to. Why should we? Why do anything the hard way if we can get what we want the easy way? (The ‘easy way’ is, of course, idiosyncratic and subjective.)”