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Content Marketing Marketing Strategies

7 Little Known Ways To Promote Your Content in 2021

When it comes to your content marketing strategy, creating and publishing the content is not nearly enough. Though, yes, the stats tell us that content marketing generates more leads at a lower cost, or that 61% of shoppers made a purchase after seeing a recommendation on a blog, with the proliferation, your distribution and promote your content strategy becomes key.

Generating sales and building a loyal customer base continue to be one of the biggest content marketing challenges marketers face today. How do you make your content stand out enough to attract customers, then get them to trust you enough to make a sale ultimately?

Suddenly, a simple social media or basic outreach strategy falls short, and launching a website and blog is only the beginning. So when you’re looking for newer, more unique ways to get your content out there, check out these 7 little known strategies to promote your content in 2021.

Table of Contents

7 ways to promote your content in 2021

Repurpose your content at scale

One effective way to see big results from a content marketing strategy is by repurposing content, especially for startups.

You start by creating a high-quality piece that serves as your pillar content. This can be a long-form blog post or video where you discuss a topic at length, often covering sub-topics as you go.

From this one piece of content, you can create multiple, bite-sized content based on its content. Think things like short deep-dive articles, quote graphics, GIFs, infographics, listicles, even memes, or Instagram Stories. 

How to repurpose content using the Content Pyramid model (Image source)

Here’s an example. Say you published a 3,000-word article all about influencer marketing. In this article, you touched on how to create an influencer marketing strategy, find influencers, and manage influencers, among others.

You and your team can repurpose that pillar content by first creating shorter blog posts about those subtopics. Or talk about those subtopics in an informational video. You can turn the data you curated into a shareable infographic. Or make a square graphic with a quote from one of your insights. You might even repurpose this into short Instagram and Facebook videos that highlight your top points.

There are nearly endless ways to generate repurposed content from what you already have. This is a great way to increase the quantity of content you put out without thinking of new angles all the time.

Mention influencers within the content and then reach out to ask them to share it

Chances are you’ve dropped names of industry influencers in your content, using either an insight of theirs or mentioning them as examples that support your content pieces.

If your content offers a valuable mention about them – say, mentioning them as an expert or best example – get in touch with them to share it. As long as they see that what you’ve created benefits them, they’re likely to be willing to post about it.

One way to get in touch is by replying to their newsletters. But you can also mention them on social media or comment on their blog posts or videos. 

Distribute your written content using Quuu Promote

When you’ve put in the effort to create great content, you want that content to reach as many people as possible. And while paid traffic can be effective, sometimes you’ll want to explore new ways to get organic traffic beyond your existing tactics like social media or email. 

Consider using organic sharing tools for this. For example, Quuu Promote is a content sharing tool that lets you promote blog posts to real people who will then share your post to their network.

When you run a promotion, Quuu Promote will help you reach several content marketers and players in your industry. You’ll reach people with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts who are looking to curate high-quality posts on their own feeds.

Turn your employees into influencers. 

In the 2019 Influence by Numbers report, 42% of respondents said they tried a product or service based on an influencer’s recommendation, with 26% actually making a purchase. 

And while there is merit to engaging with influencers in your niche, sometimes you can see great results just by looking in-house.

Employees can make great influencers for your brand, especially if they talk about your company and products in a very organic, authentic way. 90% of consumers trust content containing product recommendations made by other people, but only about 30% trust content made by the brand itself.

Fashion brand and retailer ASOS makes great use of employee advocacy. Their employees have become in-house ambassadors for their newest collections, where real people create and curate looks that others can shop from the brand.

ASOS uses its own employees as their influencers (Image source)

Use chatbots to help distribute your blog posts 

If your subscribers are on Facebook (and they most likely are), you can push new content straight into their Messenger inbox. This is possible with integrations between your blog’s RSS feed and Facebook Messenger, so subscribers can instantly get access whenever you publish a new blog post.

Using Messenger as a content promotion platform can get you up to 80%-90% of open rates, which is far better than the average 20%-30% open rates from email.

You can set up triggers to send a Facebook message with new posts using an RSS feed. (Image source)

While this is a great platform for content marketers to share added value, be sure not to overdo it. Time your Messenger blasts to be far and few in between, and focus on providing value through your blog posts instead of pushing for a sale.

Write guest posts for sites that are part of syndication partnerships to expand the reach 

Many websites are members of either the same media company or are part of a syndication partnership. There can be many ways content syndication is conducted. Sometimes, relevant content is cross-posted from one site to another with minor changes made by editors. 

But most of the time – and most important for you to focus on – syndication involves a big publication releasing your articles that contain related links to your site’s native content.

To up your chances of expanding your reach, create a guest posting strategy that targets sites that take part in syndication partnerships. Some publications are part of a larger group. For example, Blavity, Travel Noire, or 21Ninety belong to Blavity Inc. Or AOL, TechCrunch, and The Huffington Post are owned by Verizon.

The other type of partnership is where publications are independent of each other but agree to syndicate relevant content. Some examples of this:

  • The Muse has a syndication partnership with FastCompany.
  • Growthmarketingconf.com, LeadFuze, and B2C, UpContent have a syndication partnership.

B2C discloses syndicated articles from LeadFuze and vice versa. 

Check a site’s contributor guidelines because they will often contain any information about syndication opportunities. Many sites will list specific partners, while others might not. You might also find a syndication clause on published article pages (as seen above).

Either way, for the best chances of expanding your reach, pitch titles to these sites to get content seen across multiple publications.

Have a documented content promotion plan in a project management system

Last but not least, keep tabs on your content promotion plan in a project management system. Inside this plan are all the strategies and action steps you may want to take, but you should also include information about possible partnerships and outreach.

Use the project management system to track where you are with your campaigns. For example, if you’re pitching titles for publication to different sites, keep track of the sites where you’ve pitched, whether or not you’ve heard back, or the status of your submitted piece.

Your distribution plan may also include any paid media opportunities, such as tracking potential sites for native content advertising or working closely together for branded content or sponsored articles.

Modern problems require out-of-the-box solutions

When it comes to content marketing, the way to get on top requires more than just quality content. While producing valuable content should be at the heart of your strategy, you need strong pillars for publishing, distribution, and promotion to make sure that strategy pays off. Implement some of the tactics listed in this article, keep experimenting, and soon you’ll see your results skyrocket.

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Remote Work All

4 Tell-Tale Signs Your Business Will Be Affected by AB5

California recently passed the Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) law, an employment law that changes current worker classification as independent contractors and employees. The much-debated AB5 law takes effect on January 1, 2020.

In a nutshell, the AB5 law provides key protection for independent contractors who formerly did not receive the same benefits as regular employees. 

Needless to say, this can have a huge effect on the way you do business with freelancers and other independent contractors.

Read on to find out more about the AB5 law, how it might affect your business, and what to do if it is.

Table of Contents

Events that led to the signing of the AB5 law

It’s undeniable that the nature of work has changed over the past few years. The gig economy is on the rise, and figures show that 15.8% of Americans participated in the gig economy workforce in 2015. That number has only grown exponentially.

The gig economy refers to the labor market typically characterized by short-term contract or freelance work. These gig-based jobs are made all the more available through technology-enabled work like ride-sharing apps and the like.

So things like Uber and Lyft employ gig economy workers, but this also applies to freelancers who render service in exchange for a fee.

Numbers show that 8.5% or nearly 2 million workers in California are signed as independent contractors – a much larger percentage than in the entire USA which only lands at 6.3%. 

Image source: UC Berkley Labor Center.

The AB5 legislation resulted from the recent Dynamex case, which concluded in the California Supreme Court siding with the independent contractors who worked for the courier company. 

After a series of hearings, the ruling found that Dynamex’s independent contractors should be considered employees, especially according to the ABC Test. (But more on that in the next few sections.)

What does it mean for small business owners? 

Plainly put, for any business, regardless of size, the new law means additional costs and hiring. 

The AB5 law in its current version obligates employers to pay a higher wage and overtime costs, while also mandating that said businesses are to contribute to unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance for independent contractors as well.

Companies operating in California that employ the services of independent contractors may also be faced with more frequent work, hour, and employment litigation. 

Signs your business will be affected by the AB5 law

Will your business be affected by the new AB 5 law? Here are a few things to check.

The ABC Test

The AB5 law will uphold the three-part ABC Test, a guideline that helps employers classify their workers as either employees or independent contractors.

According to the ABC Test, a worker is considered an independent contractor if the worker is proven by the employer or hiring entity to be:

  • Free from the control and direction of the company or hiring entity;
  • Performing work that is outside the company or hiring entity’s main business; and
  • Normally engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the company or hiring entity.

If the formerly independent contractors meet all three criteria for reclassification, they may now be entitled to the following benefits as employees:

  • A minimum wage
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Expense reimbursement
  • Paid sick leave and paid family leave
  • Opportunity to join a union

Employers must also pay half of the employees’ Social Security tax after the bill takes effect in January 2020.

Setting up a business in California

For current small businesses already in operation, you may face additional hurdles due to the new law. 

The AB5 law might mean making major readjustments in your current business model to accommodate new workers or to adapt and find more cost-effective measures. 

It’s also necessary to figure out how your business will be paying for the reclassifications. While large companies might be able to ease into it, for a small business, it’s not so easy to suddenly have to give freelancers the same benefits as full-time employees. 

One possibility may include passing on the new cost to your customers, meaning increasing prices of your products and services, but this, of course, may not always work well. The only other alternative at the moment is absorbing the additional reclassification cost as a business expense, but this could be a hefty loss. 

You’ll need to be aware of the law and its implications especially if you’re planning to set up a new business or are making readjustments to your business model. 

Say before the passage of this new law, you had been planning to put up a Software as Service (SaaS) company – maybe because its relatively short-term cost savings, scalability, and resilient hosting service appealed to you, and you had a good idea on what kind of software to create and market.

If you were planning to hire independent contractors – and with SaaS businesses, especially, where you would normally hire independent contractors for developing the software, doing customer service, doing sales, etc – to help you put up and run your business (and you’re based in California), you’d want to pay attention to the stipulations of the AB 5 law to see if your workers are classified as employees or not.

Hiring freelancers in California

Over the years, more and more businesses and companies preferred hiring freelancers, mainly for a host of benefits for both parties. We can probably pin this rising trend to how fast technology has advanced over the past couple of decades. 

For example, these days, it’s not uncommon for people to do frequent video conference calls with freelancers halfway across the world or to use what’s called cloud phone systems, which have allowed companies to hire freelance customer support agents and virtual assistants.  

Recalling our previous example about the SaaS company in California, say you wanted to hire a freelance web developer in your area to create the website where you’d sell your software idea. 

In this case, you’d prefer the developer to be an independent contractor instead of a full-time employee. After all, after they’ve set up your site, most of the work you may require from them involves minimal maintenance – or work that takes only a few hours a month.

Once the AB5 law is enacted in January, you’d need to ensure that this independent web developer is working on tasks that aren’t central to your business, lest they be considered regular employees. 

If most of the work is central to your business, you’d need to reclassify them accordingly. 

You can always, of course, consider outsourcing administrative tasks like managing and publishing on your company’s social media page, or tasks that don’t cover your business’s line of expertise, such as bookkeeping if you’re not an accounting firm.

Exemptions to the rule

While it seems like the new legislation covers absolutely every kind of independent contractor out there, it doesn’t affect professions in various industries that are still considered independent contractors according to the ABC test. 

These include doctors, insurance agents, stockbrokers, real estate and travel agents, lawyers, graphic designers, freelance writers, and several other professions

Notably, ridesharing and delivery companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash insist they’re not covered by the new AB5 law. 

You’re covered. Now what?

So your business is based in California or you’re working with independent workers in the state.

First thing you can do? Lawyer up. If you think your business might be affected by AB5, get an employment law attorney to examine the classification of your current workers. 

While the AB5 will affect all companies that rely on independent contractors solely in California, we know from previous experience that whenever a new law is passed in California, other big city-states like New York and Washington may just be one step behind.

AB5 also means additional business costs and a potential adjustment to your business model. However, failure to comply with AB5 has significant legal ramifications as well. 

Your business could be fined, penalized, or face litigation. That’s why it’s best to be guided by a skilled lawyer along the way. 

Conclusion 

The AB5 will be implemented by January 2020, and its supporters are looking forward to receiving the benefits that the new law promises. However, many employers and workers are still in the dark about how the AB5 will affect them. But for now, the AB5 means added costs to businesses and potentially the loss of the much-desired flexibility for contract workers. While the future is unclear for independent work in California, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared and stay one step ahead of the law.

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Social Media Marketing Strategies

Steps to Run a Profitable Social Media Contest in 2021

According to a late 2018 survey result among marketers, 92.6% use social media giveaways on at least one platform. 66.8% of these marketers use more than one social network to host online contests, where nearly half of all respondents (45.5%) use Instagram and Facebook for their contests to about an equal extent.

Most brands use Facebook and Instagram for social media contests. (Image source)

While contests and giveaways are popular lead generation strategies for many brands, it’s worth noting that, because of algorithm changes, running a successful contest in 2020 and beyond may need more strategy and work.

When only 10% of followers see your social media posts, how can you create a compelling and profitable social media contest?

In this post, we walk you through the 7 essential steps to run a successful social media contest in 2020, as well as some of the best practices you’ll want to keep in mind.

Table of Contents

Steps to run a social media contest

Set your goals

First, determine why you want to run a social media contest in the first place.

Here are some examples of goals you might consider when setting up your contest:

  • Increasing awareness for an upcoming launch
  • Increasing engagement on your social media pages
  • Generating more leads

Knowing your contest’s primary goal helps you determine what kind of contest to create, the mechanics, and the target KPIs you want to hit.

Create your landing page

Set up a dedicated landing page to help you capture traffic off social media networks and on your actual website. When you create a self-hosted branded landing page for your contest, it’s easier to design and make your page exactly how you want it.

Many page builders also integrate with the leading contest and giveaway apps, like Wishpond. 

Example of a social media contest landing page created with Wishpond. (Image source)

Select which channels to publish the contest

Now that you know your contest goals decide which channels are most appropriate for spreading the word.

For example, conducting contests on Facebook means treating copy and graphics differently than on Twitter. Or the form of your content will vary if you choose video-centric YouTube as a marketing channel for your giveaway than if you’d chosen Instagram for your contest.

Choose your prize carefully

Your prize needs to be something relevant and exciting for your target audience. If not, they certainly won’t feel enticed to join your contest or spread the word.

For example, it wouldn’t make sense for a clothing brand to raffle off a year’s supply of books, would it?

Go back to what your customers want to have or experience, and see what prize you can give them. The more the prize connects to your brand, the better.

If you were an event organizer, maybe raffle off tickets to a concert of an up-and-coming band? Or, if you were a makeup brand, give away your best selling items in an exclusive kit.

Ticketmaster’s giveaway is for a Super Bowl experience. (Image source)

Develop your contest

Finally, you know your goals, the channels you want to use, and the prize you’re giving away.

Now it’s time to develop the mechanics of your contest. Think of how you want customers and leads to engage with your contest: 

Is it through user-generated posts? Or can you do a simple like-tag-and-share contest?

Remember that mechanics ought to be simple enough for customers to want to join. Keep mechanics short, with no more than 3 steps if possible.

Simple mechanics encourage more people to engage and enter. (Image source)

Create a buzz before launching the contest

You’ll want to create some buzz before you launch your contest. Create teaser posts that will build excitement and hype around your giveaway. You can even tap influencers in your industry to help you create buzz.

Here are a few ways you can announce your contest is coming:

  • Sending an email to your current subscribers
  • Tapping local bloggers and YouTubers with small to large followings
  • Run teaser ads to start generating a following

Cross-promote the contest through other channels

Last but not least, once your giveaway is live, promote it on other channels. Just because your contest is on Instagram, for example, doesn’t mean you can’t post about it from your Twitter account.

And when you self-host your contest on your site, post on your existing channels, or run ads to lead customers to your contest landing page.

Best practices when running a social media contest

Now that you’ve got the steps to build a profitable social media contest, take note of these best practices when you’re getting started.

Review each social media channel’s policies for running social media contests

Every social media network has its policies that may affect the way you run or promote your contest.

Most policies have to do with copywriting and graphics attached to the campaign, so be sure you’ve read up on any possible contest restrictions beforehand.

Make sure your copy won’t be considered clickbait

Clickbait risks skewing audience expectations. Sometimes, clickbait copy only encourages bounce rates from your website, especially if users find that the contest was irrelevant to them or not what they were expecting.

Instead, keep things clear and concise from the get-go. Announce right away that your posts are contest-related to manage expectations. And mention the prize right away, so people don’t feel forced to click-through to your page to find out what it is.

Clearly define the rules

Rules must be clearly communicated, so audiences know exactly how to enter and join your contest. Include all necessary mechanics as well as eligibility terms, such as:

  • Age
  • How to join
  • Open contest dates for entry.
  • Number of entries per person
  • Purchase required or not

Clearly state them in your social media copy, landing page, or email blasts to make sure audiences are thoroughly informed.

Have all the proper disclaimers in place

If you have any disclaimers to provide, keep them visible for audiences. 

For example, if your contest is only open for a certain state, region, or country, make it clear from the get-go. Or if your contest is open for international countries as well, make that apparent.

Other disclaimers also include the actual prize, how you handle data of those who’ve entered, and how you plan to use this data (e.g. names, emails, and addresses, etc.).

Make your landing page lightning fast

If your landing page takes even a second too long to load, most people will abandon your site. This could have negative repercussions on your contest engagement, so be sure to use the best practices that keep your site speed up

Have the right tools in place

Use the right tools to host and manage your giveaway. Wishpond is one of the tools you can use to create different social media contests and promotions while integrating with tools you might already have, such as Shopify, MailChimp, and Zapier.

You can create contests that let users enter more than once in exchange for shares. (Image source)

Track and monitor the results and feedback

Last but not least, review the performance of your contest. Check if you met any targets you set, such as several entries or desired reach.

Conduct some social listening to find any feedback about your contest. Did users get excited by your contest enough to say something online? Did some users request another contest with a different prize?

By monitoring your results and feedback, you can create better and more engaging contests in the future. Keep experimenting to see which types of contests do best for your brand.

Key Takeaways

When it comes to creating an engaging social media contest, it’s important to plan properly and use the right tools. Set your goals, define your contest, and be sure to reach as many people as you can. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, but use these tips above to help you create an awesome contest this 2021.

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All Ecommerce Marketing Strategies

10 Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practices for eCommerce Businesses

Do you know how to boost your conversion rates for your ecommerce business?

Here’s a quick refresher: conversion rate is the number of visitors who you convince to take some of the desired action on your website—share a page, fill out a form, or make a purchase, etc.—divided by the total number of visitors. 

If your conversion rates are low, that doesn’t bode well for your site. This is especially true in eCommerce, where low conversion rates often translate to low sales.

There are no hard and fast rules for what your conversion rate should look like. After all, this can vary widely between industries. In this post, we take a look at the most effective, industry-agnostic conversion rate optimization best practices for eCommerce businesses.

Table of Contents

10 Best conversion rate optimization tips

Optimize your landing pages

A key part of your conversion optimization strategy should be to optimize your landing pages. A great landing page has relevant, easy-to-read elements that cover essential details a buyer would want to know. When people stumble upon your site, the page they land on has to deliver answers based on your buyer persona’s search intent.

One way to engage a website visitor immediately is by being creative with your landing pages. Include videos that showcase different use cases for your product, and provide testimonials that appeal to your different customer types. Dream up an emotional, benefit-driven copy and cta buttons that will convince visitors they need your product.

Many of the best eCommerce platforms do a great job of developing landing pages and product pages that address their buyer persona’s pain points at each stage of their marketing funnel. Don’t be afraid to learn from the best!

Provide search options 

Adding a search bar on your website can make products instantly accessible to users, saving them valuable time. However, for a search bar to be effective, it has to be noticeable—if possible, make it one of the more prominent elements on the page.  

Amazon.com has one of the best examples of a conspicuous search bar. It is located in the site’s hero section and takes up a lot of room. The placement and size encourage users to start searching immediately. 

(Image source)

A search bar can do wonders for your eCommerce conversion rate by delivering the most relevant content for your visitors in a timely way. Not all users are in the mood to browse, so the faster they can find what they’re looking for on your eCommerce site, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

Personalize the shopping experience for your customers 

Research from Salesforce indicates 57% of people are willing to give up more personal information in exchange for personalized offers and discounts. Based on this information, we can reasonably assume that a personalized shopping experience can persuade more shoppers to convert. Instead of providing broad, general content that could appeal to anyone (or no one!), companies—especially eCommerce stores—should take the time to learn about their target audience. 

You can personalize the shopping experience for your users by using a chatbot for your eCommerce business. Chatbots are software programs powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that mimic human conversations. These technologies train your chatbot to “remember” your customer’s product preferences: the more your customers interact with it, the more personalized their experience will be.

The ShopBot on eBay’s Facebook page is a perfect example of how chatbots can personalize your customers’ shopping experience. Once initiated, the chatbot offers the user a selection of different products and categories to choose from. Underneath each item, users can decide whether they’d like to learn more about the product or be given other micro-conversion options.

(Image source)

The chatbot also asks questions to help narrow the user’s search.

(Image source)

The more the users interact with the chatbot, the more the chatbot learns about items the users want to purchase. The next time eBay launches an offer for one of its products, it will know which customers to contact and easily set up conversion tracking to verify their efforts.

Allow customers to start and complete purchases across multiple devices 

If you want to optimize your conversion funnel, make the buying process as user-friendly—so much so that even a multi-screen user would find it easy to complete the purchase process. 

According to an analysis of two billion global e-Commerce sessions back in Q4 of 2017, more buyers used their mobile phones instead of desktops as their primary way of communicating and purchasing. 

While it’s not a significant difference, more people used their mobile devices (40%) than their desktops (37%) for their initial journey.

(Image source)

With this in mind, remember to cater to users with different shopping habits. After all, you can have one user who prefers to browse on mobile yet wants to complete the checkout process on desktop, and vice versa. One way to implement this step is by making sure your site is mobile- and tablet-friendly (responsive), ensuring an equal user experience across all channels as much as possible.

Include trust indicators on your eCommerce site 

With all the scams happening today, it’s no wonder that some people have issues with eCommerce. To ensure your consumer trust rating remains high, don’t hesitate to add trust indicators across your eCommerce site. 

Testimonials and product reviews from previous customers are a great trust indicator to show visitors you’ve successfully delivered on your promises. Security badges also do well to boost trust in your site and improve conversion optimization.

Examples of security badges to establish trust. (Image source)

Other significant trust indicators include explaining how users can cancel an order or get a refund. Things like 30-day guarantees also do well to boost conversions, as people are more likely to try your product if they know they can get their money back if they’re unsatisfied.

Your eCommerce site should also have an SSL certificate—this shows up as a “secure connection” on browsers.

Google Chrome warns users if they’re on a site with no SSL certificate, which could severely harm both SEO rankings and conversion rates. (Image source)

WaveApps, an accounting and payroll solutions provider, does a great job of showcasing trust indicators, utilizing some of the ones mentioned above, and adding a few of their own.

First, they include testimonials from actual satisfied customers with a photo as a form of social proof:

(Screenshot is taken from Wave)

Since the company is aware that its customers will be submitting sensitive information and details as they use the platform, Wave addresses security concerns by describing its measures to keep data safe on a separate page.

Provide multiple payment methods

There is no universal payment method people are using right now. As such, it should be a  priority for eCommerce sites to provide multiple payment options. 

In an infographic highlighting survey results compiled by Milo, about 56% of respondents mentioned that they expect at least a few different payment options on the checkout page

It’s unnecessary to offer every single option available, but you can cover basic payment gateways like credit cards, PayPal, or Stripe payments. If it’s possible for your business, users could even pay with cash upon your product’s delivery (COD).

Put a remarketing or retargeting strategy in place

Remarketing refers to an automated marketing campaign that reminds a potential customer about the products and services they might have viewed but ultimately didn’t purchase.

There could be several reasons why someone doesn’t complete a checkout: they may have gotten distracted just as they were about to buy, they may have found a better price, didn’t feel a burning need to purchase right away, etc. With remarketing, your product shows up in retargeting ads to shoppers with good conversion potential to entice them to reconsider purchasing. Social media or email are two common channels for remarketing. 

Some companies offer customers exclusive discount codes and additional freebies, such as free shipping, in their retargeted ads. Even a simple reminder about the product the customer was considering can prompt people to purchase.

Example of a retargeted ad. (Image source)

Evoke a sense of urgency

Scarcity increases the perceived value of a product (think about the allure of “limited edition items”). What better way to boost conversion rates than by infusing your product pages with a little urgency? After all, if someone knows a product will be available forever, the risk of losing it is low, and there’s no reason to acquire it immediately.

But if they knew what they wanted was only temporarily available or only had a small window to buy it, it raised the risk of losing the product significantly. If you employ these tactics, you can expect they’ll complete the checkout as soon as possible!

Some examples of urgency tactics are trigger phrases like “Only until,” “Limited Edition,” “Expires in,” or “Only five left.” You might also consider adding countdown timers when doing promotional sales or seasonal deals.

This is one reason why Kickstarter campaigns can be so successful. All of them run for a limited time, and there are a set number of slots per “reward” available for customers.

Kickstarter campaigns showcase how many days are left to back a campaign. (Screenshot from Kickstarter)

Another example of an urgency tactic on Kickstarter campaigns: limited purchases per price tier. (Screenshot from Kickstarter)

Automate abandoned cart emails

Sometimes a user will go through the entire checkout process only to suddenly abandon their cart. If your eCommerce host supports this feature, you can send an automated email follow-up to remind customers about their cart and the products inside it.

Build your own email marketing campaign that can entice visitors to complete their purchase. You might even include exclusive discounts or deals in your abandoned cart email conversion rate.

(Image source)

Ensure quick website loading speed

Website optimization is a big part of any conversion rate optimization program. For many site visitors, a slow-loading website is often the main reason they leave a site without purchasing. In fact, every second delay after the first 2 seconds can lead to higher bounce rates.

If your eCommerce site takes more than five seconds to load, you might want to optimize it for speed. Here are common ways to decrease your site’s loading time:

  • Optimize images and other media
  • Review your theme (some themes aren’t optimized enough and can cause websites to load more slowly)
  • Optimize website code
  • Use a better web host provider (not all providers are created equal—a few can provide more resources that allow your site to load faster than with other hosts)

Those recommendations are just scratching the surface; there are many more ways to increase the speed and improve your website’s performance. Think of improving site speed as an ongoing CRO process that you will need to evaluate continually. If you improve it over time, your website traffic will show their thanks by converting more frequently.

Improving conversion optimization in your online store

Whether your eCommerce site is new or has been around for decades, a higher conversion rate should be a top priority if you want to continue to generate more sales. Constantly review your analytics, don’t be afraid to experiment, and keep innovating the way you do business. Be sure to implement the tactics above as a starting point for your CRO strategy, then keep tweaking to continue increasing conversions on your website.

Categories
Marketing Strategies All

7 Ways AI Can Help Scale Your Small Business

Reports on the average American’s personal finances and financial literacy show that many Americans may be spending above their means, getting deeper into debt, and lack the necessary budgeting skills to get them by.

And while this is the golden age for getting into business, we have to deal with the reality that competition for the eyes and wallets of now money-conscious customers can be fierce. 

Everyone is trying to entice the average consumer, who already has such to spend what limited money they have, on their products – making it crucial and necessary for small ecommerce store owners to do everything they can to market and grow their business.

But how does one accomplish this with limited manpower and an even more limited budget?

Our answer: artificial intelligence, of course.

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Ways to scale small business using AI

From letting us order food from our favorite restaurants on-demand to doing a complete Google search simply by talking to our phones, artificial intelligence is everywhere

And small ecommerce businesses especially should be making the most of this to reach their customers, deliver spectacular brand experiences, and scale their businesses.

Ready to scale your small business using AI? We’ve identified 7 areas where even a small online business owner can leverage AI.

Predict marketing campaign performance

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First and foremost, the effectiveness of marketing campaigns – even future ones – is no longer a matter of guesswork.

Using AI, you can make as-close-to accurate predictions as possible for future campaigns. Predictive analysis tools let you design your campaigns in ways that fit into your customers’ lives while telling your brand story. 

These predictive tools can usually tell you based on insights, content audits, market analyses, and previous data which of your campaigns will most likely perform best.

Tools: Google Business Tools,

Understand your customers and competitors better

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Many businesses use AI to keep track of their competitor’s next business moves and current campaigns, which can often give them better insights about their customers as well.

You can keep track of market trends, especially from big name competitors who may have wider access to tools. Leverage their knowledge and campaigns, get to know any changes they’re making in their own marketing, and use that information to adapt and craft your next campaigns.

Tools: ZoomInfo  

Personalize your marketing offers 

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AI tools are great for personalizing marketing offers. With 77% of customers actually expecting personalized offers and content, this tactic could make or break your brand in the eyes of customers.

Many customers are willing to surrender personal data like names and email addresses if it meant getting highly targeted offers right in their inboxes. So to avoid spam filters and make the most of the trust, be sure you’re sending emails from a custom domain email.

The right AI tools can help you segment customers based on a number of characteristics, including age, gender, geo-location, previous transactions, interests, and more. Using this segmentation, it’s easier to send relevant content and offers that then helps boost customer retention and loyalty.

Tools: Pardot

Improve your customer service

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When you’re a small ecommerce store owner, you know you can’t compete with established brands for reach. But you can still scale your small business by giving fantastic customer service that makes customers feel truly valued.

Tap into different channels for your customer service. Over 67% of users have engaged with a brand’s social media, for example, in order to try and ask for help.

Maximize your social media presence by integrating chatbots to improve customer service as a small business. And as your business grows, you can also think about implementing live chat straight from your site.

Tools: ManyChat

 Streamline your checkout and delivery process

For you to successfully scale your small business, you need to lower abandonment rates. That’s why it’s important to optimize your checkout and delivery process. This means making sure it’s easy to take payments at checkout using multiple gateways, keeping customers updated about their order confirmation and deliveries.

You can also optimize your packing, delivery, and returns experiences using automation. By making your processes as simple and easy as possible, you can deliver fantastic brand interactions that can get customers coming back over and over.

Tools: Selz

Retarget abandoned carts

Cart abandonment rates across all industries is at about 70%. On mobile, that number can rise to about 85%.

Many small business owners are losing out on sales because of these abandoned carts. Use AI to help you save customer details so you can retarget them later through a cart abandonment email.

These emails can help recover up to 28% of lost sales, making this tactic an essential step for you to scale your small business.

Tools: Privy

Track your performance

Last but not least, we are far from the days when tracking our marketing campaigns felt like guesswork. Today, you can use AI to see just how well your campaigns are doing, from social media ads down to your total sales vis-a-vis site visits.

Pay attention to these metrics as they can pave the way for important insights that can help you switch gears as needed or keep pushing campaigns that are working.

Before incorporating AI into your small business

To make the most of all these steps and AI use cases so you can scale your small business, make sure you do the following to harness AI’s full power:

Review your buyer persona

Your buyer persona contains all the information about your customer that may shape, influence, and inform your marketing campaigns.

This personal contains basic demographics, their goals, and relevant pain points that are keeping them from achieving said goals.

To maximize the power of AI, it’s important to refer back to your buyer persona – so you know exactly how to set up and deploy these tools and in which tools to even invest in the first place.

Identify key areas to integrate AI in your buyer’s journey

Once you’ve revisited your buyer persona, you can then think about where you’d want to boost your business processes with the help of AI. 

If you’re trying to scale your small business, you might want to integrate chatbots in their Facebook Messenger, allowing leads and customers to interact directly with a bot and even access useful information in real-time.

Small businesses trying to reach a bigger audience can make the most of programmatic advertising, letting your website or ad be seen across countless others. 

You can also implement social media retargeting campaigns for anyone who’s recently viewed your website or social media accounts using Facebook pixels.

Keep your website safe and secure

Last but not least, if you’re going to be installing and integrating AI tools to scale your small business, it’s important to keep your website safe from hackers.

Most third-party apps have heavy privacy and protection for users, but it’s still good to secure your website as much as you can.

Keep admin account passwords strong, use a VPN when accessing sensitive information, and backup all data about your company.

Key Takeaways

Artificial intelligence is paving the way for streamlined tasks, better insights and projections, as well as the opportunity to scale your small business by creating more interesting marketing campaigns and products. Refer to this article for some of the most effective ways you can integrate AI in your company, and soon start scaling that small business to the big leagues.

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Remote Work

8 Tips for Managing High Performing Remote Team

Remote work isn’t anything new. We’ve long seen the advent of completely or partially remote teams, with several companies implementing work from home days once or twice a week or companies operating beyond the four walls of an office altogether.

And let’s not ignore how the current COVID-19 pandemic is only speeding up the need to be able to work remotely. Even after this global pandemic reaches a manageable point for countries and towns to lift local quarantine measures, we’re likely to see several businesses try to make the switch permanently.

Whether you’re working remotely to adapt to current events or are planning to run a team remotely in the long-term, there are ways you can ensure your team runs like the well-oiled machine it ought to be.

In this post, we’ll take you through some statistics that show the future is remote, the benefits of building a remote team, and finally, how to manage a high-performing remote team from scratch.

Remote work statistics

In their 2019 State of Remote Work report, Owl Labs surveyed 1,202 United States employees and found the following:

  • 62% of workers were able to work remotely even once a week, while 38% worked on-site full-time.
  • 42% of remote workers intend to increase their remote workdays in the future.
  • Of the 62% total remote workers who took part in the survey, nearly half (49%) say they work remotely full-time. Only 17% say they work remotely once a week, 13% less than once a month, 11% at least three times per week, and 10% at least once per month. (See graph below.)

Source: Owl Labs

These findings show us that remote work isn’t the future but is already the present. Are there findings that show the benefit of remote working for a business? Unsurprisingly, the data says yes.

Reasons to build a remote team

Here are the reasons you ought to invest in a remote team, as shown by surveys and research.

Lower overhead costs

According to Global Workplace Analytics, “Based on conservative assumptions, we estimate a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year.” This estimate is based on savings a company can enjoy because of increased productivity, fewer absences and tardiness, lower turnover rates, and less cost on office rent.

Increased productivity

Like this one from Hubstaff, many reports have shown employees feel they are more productive when they can work remotely. Atlassian found an interesting preference among employees as well, saying 76% of employees prefer to avoid being in their office when they need to concentrate on a project at hand.

Increases job satisfaction

Employees thrive in environments where they feel valued, heard, and trusted. Remote work often encompasses these needs, and employees themselves are aware of this. 

In Owl Lab’s report, 83% of respondents say the ability to work remotely would make them happier, 82% would feel more trusted at work, 81% would recommend their company to a friend, and 80% agree that being able to work remotely shows that an employer cares.

Adds value in the eyes of labor market candidates

In Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce report, they found that flexibility – including the ability to work from home – was one of the most highly-valued perks for millennial job-seekers, beating even student loan or tuition reimbursement.

Softchoice published a similar finding that showed that 74% of employees would consider switching companies if it meant they could work remotely, even if no pay increase came with the job.

How to manage a high-performing remote team

Convinced that remote work should be the norm for your team? Follow these 8 essential tips to make sure you manage a high-performing remote team right from the get-go.

Have a “remote foundation” from every stage

A remote foundation means embracing remote work from recruitment, hiring, and onboarding. With improvements in technology and communication, you can assess, interview, and even test job candidates without ever having them in the same room.

One benefit of embracing a remote foundation is also giving job candidates a taste of working remotely with your company, and especially if they’ve never worked remotely in the past. Yet another reason to establish a remote foundation is, so you already set up your remote team to scale your business right away. 

Of course, depending on the nature of your company, some jobs, especially in-person customer-facing jobs, might not be able to work remotely, so think ahead to make sure you know exactly which positions you’ll be offering this perk.

Choose your remote team model

A remote team model is an important tool for you to see where you need to fill in gaps and help you achieve your company goals faster. Below are examples of team models you can base your team set up on.

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In the Independent Growth Team Model, employees work autonomously. Using this model lets you organize your team either according to metrics or workflows. 

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Meanwhile, with the Functional Growth Team Model, every team member reports directly to a function head. Using this model allows your team to have more structure, support, and direction to drive your business forward. 

 

Check-in individually with employees

First time for your team to go remote? Just recently hired a new addition to the remote team? Either way, it’s important to check in with employees individually to see if and where they need any support.

Get a feel of how employees are doing and feeling with their deliverables and responsibilities as early as possible. This way, you can see where you can optimize your processes or improve workflows. 

If this is the first time your team is going remote, expect a few bumps on the road. But if you maintain open communication with employees to see what isn’t working so well, it gets easier to iron out the creases. 

Invest in the right tools

The right tools can only help your team meet their goals and perform better together without ever being in the same room. We recommend investing in a few tools for a high-performing remote team, depending on the use case.

Video conferencing

Video conferencing is vital for effectively managing your remote team.

For starters, up to 97% of communication is nonverbal. Facial expressions, hand and head gestures, and body posture are just a few examples of nonverbal communication.

They also serve as cues to let you know whether your remote team understands what you’re explaining. At the same time, they give you further context regarding what your remote team members are actually trying to say.

Moreover, video conferencing tools like Lifesize give you additional features like screen sharing and a virtual whiteboard. These features can further help you explain your points and ideas to your remote team to ensure that everyone’s on the same page.

Project management

Project management tools can ensure your team stays on track with different tasks and goals for each project. After ironing out your entire project management plan, you can plot out sub-tasks and milestones your team needs to get done.

Crowd-favorite project management software includes Trello or Asana, known for letting teams see work progress at a glance while also being able to assign specific persons to tasks, manage deadlines, and comment on tasks and items in real-time.

File sharing and collaboration

In a remote setup, it might be difficult for employees to share files. Instead of relying on email attachments back and forth, consider investing in cloud storage that will streamline the process of file sharing. 

G Suite even lets teams collaborate on documents and spreadsheets in real-time, making it a popular choice among remote workers.

Prepare onboarding documents and processes

According to Novel Coworking, “Today, teams don’t always have to onboard new hires using lengthy seminars. Over time, you’ll see that you can create a quick and painless onboarding process for your entire remote team, so that new hires not only feel welcome but also know how to proceed from their first day onwards.”

One best practice for this is to partner your new hire with a senior team member

Through this virtual buddy system, your new hires know who to turn to when they have any questions. At the same time, this gives your new hires the chance to make a new friend and feel more comfortable working with you.

Set expectations early

Be sure to iron out exactly what you expect from employees while you work remotely. This doesn’t necessarily mean expectations like being online all simultaneously (more on that in the next section). 

Instead, here are a few guide questions that might help you identify which expectations to set and communicate as soon as possible:

  • What benefits do remote employees get from your company, and how may they use these benefits?
  • How can employees effectively file their sick leaves and vacation days while remote?
  • How often do you intend to meet, i.e., in person or virtually?

Aim to be “asynchronous” 

Many remote work setups currently mirror what life is like at the office – which, according to this article, is redundant and can be incredibly counterproductive.

To truly manage and run a high-performing remote team, it’s important to aim for what’s called asynchronous communication. As the name might suggest, this means teams can properly delegate tasks, monitor progress, and collaborate on projects without the need to be online all at once.

This is often where remote companies with employees across multiple time zones and countries thrive – they’ve mastered the art of communicating effectively and clearly, “passing the baton,” and giving their employees much-needed time to think and process new information and requests in the way that works for them.

To master asynchronous communication, here are some tips:

  • Only schedule meetings or make phone calls when necessary, i.e., when something is urgent.
  • Allow employees (and yourself) to respond to emails and messages whenever they have to.
  • Always be clear in what you need from somebody, and encourage this communication type among employees themselves. Provide as many details as needed for employees to understand the context and what you expect from them.
  • Always communicate deadlines and due dates.

Schedule regular face time as a team

Last but not least, keep team morale high by having regular virtual coffee chats and team check-ins. This doesn’t have to be mandatory – but often, by making this an optional activity, like a real-life coffee break in an office pantry, many employees will come together of their own free will.

You can have your team take the reigns when they want to schedule face time together, or your company can organize virtual team-building exercises that keep everyone connected.

Build and scale your remote team with ease

Are you ready to take on the present and future that is remote work? With the right tools and habits, you can easily manage a high-performing remote team from your home office. Be sure to keep these tips handy to make sure you’re doing the best you can to keep your team productive, your goals met, and your company growing.

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Social Media Marketing Strategies

How to Succeed With Facebook Messenger Marketing

Facebook Messenger is the second most-downloaded messaging app. And that isn’t counting how many people are on Facebook and use messaging features without mobile apps. The average Facebook user spends about an hour on the platform. This number can be even higher, depending on the region or country.  (Image source)

That said, Messenger can be a prime platform for brands to engage with audiences and provide better customer experiences, especially with how close Messenger is to SMS messaging.

Are you looking to implement Facebook Messenger marketing this year for your business? Then you’re in luck because we’re giving you the top strategies you should use to succeed at Messenger marketing.

Challenges that marketers face when it comes to using Facebook messenger for marketing

Before we jump right in to see how you can get started with Facebook Messenger marketing, you should first understand what businesses and marketers consider as the main challenges on the platform.

Knowing these, you can then craft your strategy accordingly to avoid these challenges altogether.

The first main challenge marketers face is the continuous changes in Facebook’s algorithm. In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced, “As we roll this [algorithm change] out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

The second has to do with privacy concerns, especially after the Cambridge Analytica fiasco that had millions of users’ personal data collected and used for political advertising – without consent.

Given these, it’s important to remember the following as we go through the steps for successful Messenger marketing: your marketing messages must be engaging and meaningful for audiences, and you must put customer data privacy on top.

Strategies to become successful in Facebook Messenger marketing

Ready to grow your business using Facebook Messenger? Here are some important steps to get you started.

Add a Facebook chatbot to your website

About 67% of customers have used chatbots as a customer support channel. And if a user lands on your website and sees you have a Facebook chatbot ready, you stand the chance to generate more leads faster and take people through your sales funnel quicker. 

Not many users may think to visit your Facebook page first, so be sure to integrate your Facebook chatbot on your website. One challenge to this is that plugin and integrations may have a tendency to slow down your site.

Because speed is the name of the game if you want to reduce bounce rates and get those leads, be sure you have a reliable website hosting provider with great site uptimes and can load your landing pages and site quicker. 

Look into some great hosting providers and reviews about them to see the best option for your website – as an example, this HostGator Cloud review gives a detailed take about the provider’s speed and reliability.

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Create a Facebook Messenger marketing funnel

Like any platform, turn Messenger into its own marketing funnel to take customers through a journey. Once people are part of your Facebook Messenger contacts – after, say, sending your page a message or opting in – you can take them through a marketing funnel as usual.

You can send them to lead magnets to nurture your relationship or send them links to new free content to provide more value, or even offer exclusive deals and promotions right in their Messenger inbox. 

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Segment your leads and customers

You can segment leads and customers right from the Messenger app using conditional triggers, much like with email marketing. So if you were a clothing store, you might be able to segment users based on gender, interest in certain collections, purchase history, and level of engagement.

When leads and customers are properly segmented, you can proceed to send highly-personalized content and messages that lessen your risk of being flagged as spam.

For a step-by-step guide to setting up Messenger for segmentation using third-party tools, check out this guide.

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Give your bot its own personality 

You can create better relationships with your audience if it felt like they were speaking to one specific person on your business page’s Messenger. This is why many brands and companies give their bots a unique personality to add a personal touch.

You can create a simple persona, such as giving your bot a name and avatar. This persona captures what your brand is all about, communicating messages and offers in your brand voice while staying relevant to leads and customers.

Pro-tip: be sure to never position your bot as though a real person were speaking to customers. Some laws require you to divulge whether or not a person is interacting with a bot.

LEGO calls their bot simply the LEGO Gift Bot. (Image source)

Integrate your bot with your

Facebook ads

One of the best ways to make sure your leads and customers can interact with your brand on multiple touch points is linking your Facebook ads to your Messenger bot. This way, people are able to engage with your ad without ever leaving Facebook, as some users might not want to be redirected to an external landing page.

Toggle your ad’s call-to-action (CTA) to “Send Message” so they can take action right away. Depending on your campaign, you can either encourage viewers to either opt-in to a lead magnet or make a purchase instantly.

Example of a workflow for the Facebook ad to Messenger inquiry and checkout. (Image source)

Replace the opt-in forms on your landing page

On your landing pages, be it for webinars or free downloads, you can swap out your usual opt-in forms for instant opt-ins using Facebook Messenger. This is miles more convenient for viewers since they avoid filling out lengthy forms (that can lower conversion rates) or even misspelling their emails.

Not only is this more convenient for customers, but it’s also more convenient for your business. By having users opt-in to your Facebook Messenger marketing, you’re able to easily target these users in future ads – while being certain they’re a qualified lead.

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Use to send reminders for your webinars and offers

Last but not least, Messenger is a fantastic tool for sending reminders about events and expiring offers. Because it works like text messaging, you’re able to reach more users faster and enjoy higher open rates and engagement rates.

Open and watch rates using email marketing vs open and watch rates using chatbots. (Image source)

Be sure to make your messages timely and to use last-minute “urgency” reminders sparingly. You don’t want users to report your page for spam, after all.

Key Takeaways

Facebook Messenger marketing might just be the future for brands who want to increase engagement with users when other platforms like email or organic social media posts just aren’t performing as great. Follow the strategies above to make the most of your Facebook chatbots to get more leads, nurture customer relationships, and make more sales.

Categories
Marketing Strategies

11 Easy Steps that Humanize Your Brand and Marketing Campaigns

You’ve probably heard the marketing advice along the lines of, “Brands must become persons.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean turning your brand into an actual person or assigning a mascot to represent your company. Instead, it points to the importance of connecting with your audience and becoming an important part of their lives.

We know that people connect with other people, and this can be a challenge for a brand. After all, how does one connect with their customers in the same way that another person can?

In this post, we’ll take a look at why you ought to be humanizing your brand if you want to see better results on your marketing campaigns. And later, we’ll take a look at actual easy steps you can implement today to humanize your brand and marketing.

Table of Contents

Why humanize your brand?

You can truly live out your brand story

A brand story is at its core the story you tell audiences about how your company came to be and what that means for people like them. People are drawn to stories, and every story needs characters – and your brand is the main protagonist in yours.

When you humanize your brand, you have the opportunity to tell your brand story in more engaging, relatable ways. And when you do that, customers can connect with you, and your brand becomes a bigger part of their lives.

Later, we’ll see some steps you can take to do just that.

The easiest way to connect audiences to your brand story is by connecting them to real people that are a part of your brand.

You can engage your team like never before

Your team might not always admit it, but they love being recognized. And as you implement the steps to humanize your brand, you can show off, recognize, and engage your team in ways that make them a critical part of your brand’s success story – seen especially in the eyes of your customers. 

You can increase customer loyalty and sales

The ultimate goal of marketing is to increase sales. And data shows that when a brand truly connects with its audience, 57% of audiences are more likely to purchase more from the said brand while 76% will choose to purchase from this brand over a competitor. 

What does this tell us? Humanizing your brand isn’t just a feel-good tactic. It works.

11 Steps to Humanize Your Brand and Marketing Campaigns

Ready to connect to your audience better? Here are 11 steps you can implement as early as today to humanize your digital marketing campaigns.

Start from inside your company

We’ve all heard it from Simon Sinek: Start with why. 

To start humanizing your brand means getting everyone in your company on board this shift. Make sure everybody, not just your marketing and sales team, is familiar with your brand’s mission and your buyer personas so you always create customer-first services. 

It’s easier to humanize your brand in the eyes of your customers when you’re operating from a place that is actually about its people, both in and out of the company.

Show off your team

You can show customers just who is behind your company when you show off real-life photos of your team. Many companies choose to do this through a dedicated page on their websites, but there are other ways you can implement this.

Tawk.to has a creative way of showing off their employees using caricature instead of actual photos.

Consider using your team as the subject of social media posts. Post interviews with your team members or even have regular Meet The Team-themed posts one day a week. 

People love seeing the faces behind their favorite brands, and there are endless ways you can show off your team online.

Starbucks has a dedicated account that puts the spotlight on its “partners” aka employees.

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Make a stand

Customers are more than simply two-dimensional people. Outside of their buying and media habits, they have strong opinions about real-life issues and care deeply about causes. Your brand can stand behind your customers’ support for said causes, letting you connect with audiences in more meaningful ways.

An example of a brand making an important stand leading to great results is when hosting company GreenGeeks took its name to the next level and branded itself as a green, eco-friendly brand.

Because of this shift, many customers have lauded GreenGeeks for the move, noting that their service, speed, and performance was not hindered in the slightest even when they made the eco-friendly stand.

GreenGeeks communicates their eco-initiatives clearly on their site, instantly connecting with customers who care about their environmental footprint.

Give audiences a peek behind-the-scenes 

People love being in the know of exclusive news and updates. And it’s easy to delight your social media followers or email list subscribers by giving them first access to new projects and updates.

Show your customers what you’re currently working on. This doesn’t only build up hype, but doing this also tells them they’re important enough for their favorite brands to give them updates about projects, initiatives, and updates.

This is why Kickstarter campaigns often receive great success: crowdfunding campaigns rely nearly entirely on updating backers about new developments about their product or their operations. Brands are able to connect with their customers in newer, more personal ways.

Macy’s uses social media to show behind-the-scenes takes of their shoots. (Image source)

Empower employees as brand ambassadors

70% of consumers say they feel more connected to a brand when they see the CEO being active on social media. It was also found that leads generated from employee advocacy campaigns were 7 times more likely to convert than any other leads.

We already know that people are more likely to trust other people – and your employees can provide glimpses into a company’s products or strengths that people outside your organization just cannot provide.

To turn employees into brand ambassadors, you’ll want to create an employee advocacy strategy that guarantees organic, high-value engagement from your employees.

Start an online community

Engage with your customers like never before in a dedicated online group. Many brands have created their own moderated Facebook groups for fans to interact and connect.

Within these groups, your customers are able to interact with your employees directly, share new ideas and recommendations, and even get instant access to customer support by engaging on the page. 

Be sure to keep these groups active and interesting by assigning moderators to start weekly or daily conversations. You can even reward the most engaged members by inviting them to be volunteer moderators to your group – consider it yet another way to engage customers in more meaningful ways.

HBO created an official Big Little Lies group for fans to talk about their favorite episodes, share theories, and even connect with other fans.

Personalize, personalize, personalize

Add a personalized touch to your marketing efforts using the automation tools you already have. For example, be sure to use customers’ first names in your email campaigns and use relevant segmentation rules so you only get to send targeted and highly-specific content that will resonate with different consumer groups.

You should also map out different content and campaigns based on where your customer is on their journey with your brand. So if a customer is new to your brand and has signed up to your email list, you might want to send them through a nurture series that helps them get to know more about your products and services before, say, trying to sell them something right away.

This also applies to different campaigns. You don’t want to send a cart abandonment email to someone who hasn’t added anything to their cart, for example. 

There are several different touchpoints you can personalize for your audience completely on autopilot, so be sure to make the most out of your marketing automation tools.

Give a physical gift

If your company can afford it, send a physical gift to new customers in the mail. This can be something as simple as a postcard or as elaborate as a welcome gift pack.

Opt to send one with each new purchase or perhaps as part of a limited time offer. You can also send mail during holidays or birthdays. 

Clothing brand Hugh & Crye send their customers postcards in the mail to promote their new seasonal collections. (Image source)

Interact with audiences online

Customers love when their favorite brands interact with them on social media, and this step is easy if you already have a dedicated social media team. If a customer tags you in an Instagram post, give that post a Like and leave a sincere comment while you’re at it.

You can also curate user-generated posts to show that you’re listening and seeing what people tag you in. Several brands on Instagram even create branded hashtags for their followers to use for a chance to get featured. 

It takes no time at all to interact with people who are tagging, mentioning and messaging your brand, but it has a huge payoff in the long run.

Media publication Refinery29 curates user-generated content on their feed using their #R29regram hashtag

Show faces in your marketing efforts

One effective yet simple way to humanize your brand is using actual faces in your marketing efforts and brand collateral. An easy place would be to sprinkle photos of people across your website or services page. 

Many brands opt to use faces of people who represent their ideal market – for example, if an American business had a service specific to the Asian immigrant community, then they’d do best to use photos of Asian immigrants to connect with their audiences right away.

Other areas where you can display some friendly faces include author photos in blog posts. If your blog accepts guest contributors, be sure to ask for professional photos you can use.

Optionally, you can include a photo of your CEO or CMO, or customer support head when sending email newsletters. Needless to say, when you decide to do this, it’s crucial to craft those newsletters in first-person. For that added personal touch, sign off your newsletters with a digital signature.

Finally, feature your staff on social media posts. People can connect with faces on social media, and it’s been found that posts on Instagram that contain faces perform 32% better than those without – meaning they get more Likes and are likely to get more customers.

Admit your mistakes the right way

Another thing you can do to humanize your brand? Doing the human thing and admitting mistakes if they ever arise.

Brands are run by people, and you’re bound to run into setbacks or make errors along the way. And while you ought to be transparent and admit your mistakes, there’s a right way to do so.

For example, we can learn from the 2011 event when the PlayStation Network was hacked and the personal data of up to 77 million users was exposed and made vulnerable. While the scandal was huge, media reports may have blown the issue out of proportion by claiming that passwords were unencrypted – an issue Sony could have avoided completely had it been clear about the details of the hacking from the get-go.

Sony, later on, would clarify the issue on their blog, saying: 

“While the passwords that were stored were not ‘encrypted,’ they were transformed using a cryptographic hash function. There is a difference between these two types of security measures which is why we said the passwords had not been encrypted. But I want to be very clear that the passwords were not stored in our database in cleartext form.”

What we can learn from this is that brands ought to be very clear and punctual in moments of mistakes or shortcomings, leaving no room for speculation or media fallout – which can be its own PR nightmare. 

Your Next Steps

If you’re ready to take your branding and marketing efforts to the next level, it’s time to follow the age-old advice of humanizing your brand. Remember that these efforts are meant to help you connect and engage with your customers like never before, eventually boosting customer loyalty and sales along the way. Follow the steps above to add a more human touch to your marketing efforts.

Categories
Ecommerce Marketing Strategies

Ecommerce conversion rate optimization tips to crush industry benchmarks

If you’re looking for eCommerce conversion rate optimization tips that will ensure you crush industry benchmarks, then look no further.

We’ve all seen the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on eCommerce businesses. Many products and industries aren’t deemed “essential” as customers worldwide shift their priorities and prepare to tighten their belts. And even businesses who sell these essential items – like food and medicine – are struggling to hit their own revenue goals.

We’re all navigating uncharted territory, and for many eCommerce business owners, we need to do more than simply pivot in order to survive. 

So in this article, we want to show you everything you need to know to crush eCommerce industry benchmarks in 2020. First, we’ll take a look at the current landscape of the eCommerce industry before zooming in on the challenges faced by eCommerce businesses this year. 

Then, we’ll show you 16 of the best eCommerce conversion rate optimization tips to get you ahead of the competition.

Table of Contents

Ecommerce statistics in 2020

To get the best understanding of how to optimize your conversion rates for your eCommerce business, we should first look at what the industry looks like today.

There’s no denying that the recent COVID-19 pandemic has affected the eCommerce industry, regardless of the kind of goods and products they sell. 

For example, according to QuantumMetric, there was an almost 9% year-on-year increase in eCommerce sales in February of this year. According to the company, this same kind of “buying urgency” is typically only seen on Cyber Mondays. 

The growth can be explained by the surge in panic buying accompanied by the beginning of stay-at-home measures implemented by local governing bodies. 

Many consumers flocked online to make sure they had everything they needed to prepare for a lockdown or prolonged quarantine. And today, consumers are now adapting to the habit of shopping online for things they normally would have purchased in a brick-and-mortar store.

A similar finding by ccinsights shows that US-based online retailers saw a 68% year-on-year growth in April of this year, even citing that this growth is typically only observed during the holiday season. 

And while we know these new behaviors are being driven by the stay-at-home orders happening in most countries, this still points to new habits that consumers are now adopting. Customers are learning of the convenience that e-commerce gives them: being able to save time and sometimes even money with online-exclusive promos and perks.

Besides, the pandemic scare is sure to help sustain these new online shopping habits for several months to come. 

About 24% of consumers said in a survey that they’re not comfortable going shopping in physical malls and stores in the next 6 months minimum, especially since April of this year.

Survey findings from Morning Consult on consumers’ expectations vs comfort level on resuming regular pre-pandemic activities. 

Indeed, these findings show us that the future for any eCommerce store is bright, as long as you play your cards right – meaning optimizing your conversion rates to make the most sales possible. 

But with these sudden changes, we’re also seeing new challenges spring up. In the next section, we’ll talk about three of the new main challenges eCommerce businesses might experience that may affect their conversion rates.

Struggles eCommerce businesses are now facing

Changes in tax laws

Sales tax changes have always been ever-changing territory, but even more so now. 

With evolving tax laws, online business owners are now faced with bigger obligations to stay tax compliant. Ecommerce owners have to stay on top of regulations and know how they can practice utmost compliance.

For one thing, within the United States, different states require different taxes and rates. Ecommerce and globalization have made it easier for a user in, say, New York, to purchase an item they can only find in, say, Seattle. 

For the unprepared eCommerce owner, they may not know which tax rate to follow or how to properly set tax rates for interstate customers.

The challenge may even be more apparent for businesses who accept and deal with international markets. 

While the opportunity and ability to reach a global market can prove lucrative, eCommerce business owners must be prepared for any regulations – such as customs duties or tariffs, and the like.

We should also expect more states to expect more revenue in taxes from online sales. So you can stay on top of local regulations and changes as they come. Follow official accounts of local governors, congressmen, and offices to make sure you’re in the loop.

Fortunately, we’ve constantly been seeing the rise in automated taxing technology. Often, the creators of these tools stay on top of these ever-changing tax laws, both local and global, and make the tax projection and collecting process much easier. 

So most eCommerce business owners only need to invest in the right eCommerce tools to make sure consumers are seeing accurate tax requirements and information. Then from the eCommerce owner’s side, this tax information can be easily reflected in their business accounting software when integrated.

Disruptions in the supply chain

A second challenge for eCommerce business owners is staying on top of demand while managing limitations and disruptions in the supply chain. 

COVID-19 has definitely affected countries and businesses all over the globe. Many businesses depend on manufacturers from different cities, states, or countries to be able to sell finished goods. So as unequal lockdown measures and regulations are enforced, some eCommerce owners have had to deal with finding new – especially local – suppliers and manufacturers.

Those who don’t look for new manufacturers may even need to face delays in shipping their goods. Most businesses have been forced to operate on a skeletal workforce, which causes a domino effect to every other business around it.

One way to stay on top of this challenge is to adjust usual enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to note new lead times. It may entail predicting possible shortages sooner so as to be able to make timely orders for new raw materials that won’t hamper actual sales and deliveries. 

Ecommerce owners can also communicate with delivery services to make sure they’re able to communicate any delays in shipments and product fulfillment with customers.

Health and safety concerns about receiving online purchases

Last but not least, consumers are becoming warier of contact with outside objects, especially as studies have found that the COVID-19 virus can technically survive on different surfaces for a given amount of time.

While eCommerce store owners can do whatever they can to make sure items are properly disinfected prior to delivery, once parcels and products are out of their hands, there’s little they can do. 

The best solution that’s come up for this challenge is courier services themselves emphasize their safety precautions when handling deliveries. They also post reminders for customers themselves to practice disinfecting parcels and personal hygiene when receiving such deliveries.

And now that we understand these challenges that eCommerce businesses face today, you can keep them in mind when implementing the essential conversion rate optimization tips we’ll discuss in the next few sections.

What is conversion rate optimization

Before we name all the best eCommerce conversion rate optimization tips to help you soar over industry benchmarks, let’s go back to basics and see what conversion rate optimization is.

We should start by breaking it down to its root word: conversions.

In the case of eCommerce stores, a conversion can be simply getting a customer to make a purchase from your online store within a given period of time. 

Of course, you can have conversion goals for a myriad of other marketing and sales activities, such as email marketing conversions that indicate new subscribers.

In business, you have to optimize for conversions. Whether they’re conversion goals for users adding items to their wishlists, leaving reviews, or sharing your products online, you must focus on your conversion rates.

Conversion rate optimization for eCommerce stores is essentially the process of implementing online sales and marketing strategies in order to hit a specific goal, e.g. sales.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll be focusing on sales conversion rates for this article. So now let’s get to know what different industry conversion rate averages may be at this moment. This way, you can preview how your eCommerce conversion rates are vis-a-vis industry benchmarks.

Conversion rate benchmarks by industry

Conversion rate benchmarks vary by industry, and data about average sales may differ drastically per industry this year compared to last.

Here are a few key statistics about different eCommerce industries in the time of COVID-19, according to a report published by Nielsen:

Health-related goods like medical masks, thermometers, and household disinfectant sprays are unsurprisingly up. Medical masks, in particular, reported over 300% year-on-year dollar growth as of February this year.

Source

 

Shelf-stable consumer goods sales also saw an increase, with some products like milk substitutes also seeing 300% dollar growth compared to last year. Consumers are preparing and stocking up their pantries, as we also saw in panic buying amid the growing pandemic scare earlier this year.

Source

Other studies from different groups are also shedding light on other industries selling different goods. 

ShipBob, for instance, studied their 3,000+ eCommerce merchants’ sales data through the months and saw an average 20% decrease each month. As of late July, however, the apparel industry seems to be seeing a comeback.

Source

Beauty, personal care, and cosmetics seemed virtually untouched as the industry continued to see steady sales despite the pandemic. ShipBob notes that the beauty and personal care industry is often one of the most resilient industries even in previous seasons of economic hardship.

Source

Another industry that seems steady is the electronics industry. This may be explained by companies and schools shifting to remote work and learning. 

Source

Interestingly, toys and games are on the rise. We can attribute this trend to families needing home entertainment given the recent stay-at-home orders as well as several schools delaying their in-person learning activities. 

Source

And finally, another unsurprising finding was the spike in sports and fitness products especially at the beginning of lockdowns and quarantines. Because gyms were deemed some of the riskiest places for infection, consumers had to invest in at-home gym equipment.

Source

 

How to calculate your conversion rate

Industry benchmarks can be a great place to start. You get to anticipate and see how other businesses in your chosen eCommerce niche are performing.

With this information, you’re able to set appropriate conversion rate goals for your own eCommerce business. 

Fortunately, calculating your average conversion rate is simple. Say you have 10,000 visitors to your eCommerce store each month. Then say you made 100 sales. That makes your conversion rate 1%.

The formula for conversion rate is your total conversions for a given period divided by your total visitors for the same period, then multiplied by 100 to get the exact percentage.

And in case you were wondering about the average conversion rates for eCommerce stores in general, the answer is between 1-3%. Of course, depending on the existing strategies you’re using, you might not even see that 1%.

So move on to the next section, where we’ll show you 16 essential conversion rate strategies to help you crush the eCommerce benchmarks.

 

Conversion rate strategies to help you crush industry benchmarks

Get to know your buyer persona again

Let’s start at the beginning: your buyer.

We talked a lot about different trends and challenges for eCommerce businesses in 2020, and many of these trends are a result of customers’ changing priorities and new habits.

So it only makes sense to return to your buyer persona and give it a few tweaks. You might need to only change it a little, depending on your main customer, but it’s possible you’ll need a complete overhaul altogether.

To create a clear and effective buyer persona to optimize your eCommerce conversion rates, here are the following steps you can take:

  1. Start with your customers’ demographic information. List down their age, location, job title, and income bracket.
  2. Evaluate what their goals might be, especially now. For some industries, their goals might have shifted as new priorities came up because of COVID-19. For other industries, customers may have the exact same goals but simply new habits.
  3. Note their likes and dislikes, their new habits. If you can, narrate a day in their life. Also, zoom in on possible sites and social media accounts they’re fans of.
  4. Then think about any problems or issues they might be facing that can get in the way of their goals. 

Knowing your buyer is the first essential strategy that can inform every other strategy or tactic you use. By knowing your customers’ demographic and psychographic information, you can create better products, copy, and marketing plans.

Source

Evaluate your eCommerce business model

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: now that the world has changed, we need to pivot.

Maybe the next best eCommerce conversion rate optimization tip for your business is to revisit your business model. 

Ask yourself if there are ways you can be more sustainable or relevant in this new normal for customers. Think of the added value you can give at no extra cost to customers. Brainstorm new services or products that will help your customers even more.

Could your eCommerce store offer a subscription box service for easy refills? Can you offer online consultation for customers needing personalized recommendations? Could you create a collection of products that will help them thrive in the new normal?

Conduct a user study

You know what they say. Ask and you shall receive.

Sometimes to optimize your conversion rates, you just need to ask your customers about their needs or concerns. 

If you’ve already built out a customer base or email list, send them a short survey to get to know the most important things about them. Ask about their current circumstances and what they’re looking for.

Be sure to read between the lines after getting these responses. After all, users can say they want one thing but can also mean they want another. Get to the heart of their responses and see how you can best serve them.

One idea to display user study surveys: at the end of order confirmation emails. (Source)

Identify your top traffic sources

You can improve your marketing ROI by only zooming in on your top traffic sources. 

Use tools like Google Analytics to help you identify where your top traffic referrals are currently coming from. Ideally, you want to find out which channels get your eCommerce store the most organic traffic. But you should also look at the performance of your paid ads and see which one has the biggest ROI.

If you’re on Google Analytics, here’s how you can find your top traffic referrals:

  1. Navigate to Acquisition
  2. Go to All Traffic, then select Referrals
  3. Under Source, you should then be able to see the top ten URLs that are giving your eCommerce store the most traffic. It may be possible to have different URLs from the same domain, for example, google.com/news or google.com/page2
  4. Also, pay attention to the number of sessions (both repeat sessions and new sessions) from each. It may happen that you’re getting the most significant traffic from only a handful of URLs and very little from the rest.

Source

Reduce your product offerings

When it comes to sales, we used to believe the “Walmart Way” – that is, the more products we have on sale, the more potential for more sales.

It turns out, this may not be the case. A 2018 survey conducted by Zoovu found that 54% of customers between the ages of 17 to 69 said they stopped buying from a specific brand or retailer because it was too difficult to choose the right product. 42% even said they’ve abandoned purchases and carts simply because of too many choices.

Does this mean you ought to shave off all your product categories and just sell one main product? Not necessarily.

There’s a way to help customers avoid cart abandonment caused by decision fatigue, and it can start by reducing your product offerings. 

You can also reduce the perception of too many products by doing the following:

  • For products with multiple variants (colors, sizes, etc.), offer them under one product page only.
  • Curate different products into benefit-centric categories. For example, a skincare brand may have a category page called For Hydrated, Glowing Skin, or For Acne-Free Skin.
  • Releasing products in limited-time collections or seasons like holidays.

Assure your customers that your eCommerce store is safe

With online security becoming a hot topic, you need to assure customers of your eCommerce store is safe.

Fortunately, this can be very simple and straightforward to do.

The first place you’ll want to display your site security is on your domain name. Install an SSL certificate to ensure visitors and customers see you’re a trusted website.

Then you can display trust indicators across your website. For example, using your chosen landing page builder, add icons like “Safe checkout with PayPal” or “30-day money-back guarantee” and other security badges to ease customers’ minds about your store.

Examples of trust badges (Source)

Update your policies to align with the times

New times call for new business practices. 

Revisit your existing customer policies to make sure you can keep up with everyone’s needs without compromising your own business.

Note that shipping and deliveries can experience delays, so if you have a returns and exchanges policy, be sure to clearly state any changes or adjustments you’re making because of this. 

Communicate these new policies and updates to customers in key areas of your eCommerce store, but also send them alerts via email to make sure they’re in the loop.

Review abandoned cart users to identify checkout problems

There are varying studies and reports that try to pin down the exact abandoned cart rate for eCommerce stores. 

All we’re certain of is that abandoned cart rates can vary per industry and niche. But abandoned cart rates are quite high – never less than 50%, at the minimum – for eCommerce stores, likely because of how easy it is for customers to leave a website before checking something out.

Pay attention to your own store’s abandoned cart rate so you can optimize your eCommerce conversion rates. Try to glean insights from the data you gather. 

Can you pinpoint when users dropped off? Were there any broken promo codes? Are shipping fees too high?

While you can never completely get rid of cart abandonment, you can still optimize your store to reduce the chances of them happening as much as possible.

Add special offers like discounts and free shipping

Sometimes all you need to boost your eCommerce conversion rates are offering special perks like discounts and free shipping.

Encourage users to checkout right away by making these promos available only for a limited time. 

Consider, too, giving a free shipping incentive after customers can hit a minimum order amount. This can be a great way to not only increase average order value but also encourage repeat purchases from customers.

(Source)

Take out bottlenecks from your checkout process

Part of building an excellent user experience on your eCommerce store and optimizing your conversion rates is removing any bottlenecks from your checkout process.

Remember that the easier it is for users to check out, the more likely they are to actually complete their purchase. 

And that starts with making sure that you build your online store using a platform specifically designed for eCommerce websites. This ensures you have the right features and tools in place to create a seamless shopping experience for your customers.

Here are some tactics you can use to eliminate as many bottlenecks as you can:

  • Enable guest checkout as an option for first-time customers.
  • Encourage users to sign up for an account after purchasing via guest checkout. Tell them that making an account with your store will allow them to save their address and any payment information.
  • Let users view what’s inside their carts. Show photos and product summaries and order quantities before asking them to checkout.
  • Allow users to check a box that makes their billing address the same as their shipping address.
  • Only ask for the information you need to fulfill the order. These include one mobile number, a complete name, and a complete address. Any other information should be reserved for feedback forms or user surveys.

Add Live chat pop up on checkout exit intent

As users are about to exit your store, you may be able to boost your chances of turning them into conversion by having a live chat pop up before they leave their tab.

Let the chatbot pop up with a friendly question like “How can we help you?” or “Tell us what you’re looking for.”

You’ll never know if a user was simply unsure about where to start. With the right live chat programming, you can create an automated process that helps personalize the shopping experience for users using a given set of questions and answers.

You can even let users see any FAQs about your business, such as shipping or delivery estimates. 

Launch a customer loyalty program

One of the best strategies to really nail your conversion rate optimization efforts is focusing on what’s already working well. This includes customers who have already bought from you.

By encouraging repeat purchases, you can increase your overall sales and conversions as you get more purchases from fewer visitors.

A customer loyalty program might be all you need to do that. Create a compelling incentive for customers to keep buying from you, such as racking up points for discounts or hitting milestones for exclusive perks.

Double-down on your social proof

Studies show that 90% of users rely on online reviews about a product before they purchase. People trust testimonials and reviews from strangers almost as much as they do if the review had been from a friend.

Display reviews and testimonials on your product pages. Share these comments on your social media accounts like Instagram. 

You can even display how many people are currently on the same product page. Or you can display when the most recent purchase of the said product was if only to prove how popular or best-selling the item is in your store.

Source

Source

Include non-promotional content in your email marketing campaigns

Customers won’t always want to receive promotional emails from you. 

Sometimes they’ll appreciate content that is still relevant to them while also reminding them about your brand.

This means investing time and resources into creating highly valuable, personalized content that serves your customers in new exciting ways. Put yourself in the position of providing value first, then trusting that customers will make the sale when they trust your brand knows what they need. 

If you’re an apparel store, you can email customers guides about working from home loungewear, or tips for dressing up for a video call. If you sell food and beverages, you can send recipes or party ideas.

Your goal for creating content like this and including them in email campaigns is to become the top-of-mind brand for customers the next time they’re looking for something in your niche.

Retarget your customers on social media

Retargeting is another essential conversion rate optimization strategy you should take for your ecommerce store. A study found that 92% of customers who visit online stores don’t make a purchase right away.

Sometimes users have different search intents, such as looking up prices. But most of the time, users are likely just browsing and comparing items.

So if a user ends up in your eCommerce store and leaves, they’ll most likely forget about your store right away.

Remind them about the items they were looking at on your store by retargeting them on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. A friendly nudge might help them convert into a sale, especially if they were browsing and didn’t make a final decision yet.

Make A/B testing a habit

Last but not least, make A/B testing a habit. If you’re going to really optimize those eCommerce conversion rates, then you’ll want to experiment with different strategies and tactics to see what works best.

Try experimenting on product pages. Will product pages with video showcases work best? (Note that you don’t need to invest in fancy video editors either, as free video editing software makes for a great place to start.)

You might also be able to test out different product descriptions by playing around with copywriting. Or you can A/B test your SEO to increase your chances of getting discovered organically.

 

Key Takeaways

Ecommerce is undoubtedly the present, so it’s up to you to stay ahead of the competition. Look no further than these best eCommerce conversion rate optimization tips to help you crush industry benchmarks and grow your business like never before.

Categories
Marketing Strategies Content Marketing

6 Steps to Start a User-Generated Content Campaign for Your Brand

User-generated content (UGC) is a great way to keep posting branded content on your marketing channels while also boosting customers’ perception of your brand.

So how exactly do you start a user-generated content campaign? In this post, we’ll show you why you should consider using more UGC in your next marketing efforts, then show you a step-by-step process to help you plan your own UGC campaign.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Using User-Generated Content

Want to know why you should be using more user-generated content? We’ve compiled a few reasons.

Can increase conversions

This study Reevoo tells us that people consider content created by peers or “people like them” is more influential than any kind of content a brand may create.

Image source: Reevoo

Of course, you shouldn’t consider that finding as a sign to stop creating your own branded content, but instead, consider user-generated content as content that supplements your original content.

For instance, your brand may promise different benefits and features from a particular product or service. But when a user sees that these claims are backed up by reviews or stories from real-life customers like them, then they are more likely to convert.

Makes customers feel part of a community

Another benefit of user-generated content is you’re able to create a community around your brand. By giving users and customers the space to create content around your brand – from your products to your values – you can create deeper ties that will help encourage customers to stick around longer.

In a Community Roundtable report, they found that the majority of brands who try to foster online communities empowers customers “frequently or all of the time” in the following ways: posting questions, delivering solutions, networking, voicing thoughts, getting noticed, and leading.

Steps to Start a User-Generated Content Campaign for Your Brand

Define your goals

Is this UGC campaign going to be an evergreen campaign? Or will it only run for a limited time, e.g. a contest? Depending on the type of campaign you want to run, you can then set campaign-specific goals for each. 

For example, if you want to run a contest to get more user-generated content, then you might set goals for the number of entries you want to get. 

If you want a more evergreen campaign, think about the number of curated posts you want to publish each week or month. This way, you know how often to promote your UGC campaign efforts to encourage users to create and submit branded content.

Say your goal for an evergreen UGC campaign was to curate one fan- or customer-made post per week on Instagram. This goal then informs the rest of your campaign: how will you encourage fans and customers to post to get featured on your feed? How will you collect their posts? How often will you post about your UGC campaign?

Identify your channels

Next, identify any marketing channels you can use to help you implement and promote your campaign.

Here are a few channels you might already have, as well as channels you might consider adding into your marketing mix for a UGC campaign:

Website

Your website can have key areas that let users submit any user-generated content. For example, you can use forms to let users submit links or photos and videos that feature your brand.

If you’re trying to get more UGC for a specific promotional campaign, you might even consider creating a subdomain for the said campaign. Volusion was able to break down the average cost of maintaining a website and domain and found that this can go from $300 to $12,000 a year, depending on the size of the business.

You can always register for a free domain to help you save on cost while still having a dedicated space to curate user-generated content. And if your goal is to start a new content hub for your UGC campaign, then you’ll likely need fewer tools and features to keep it up and running, unlike your main website.

Long-running UGC campaign by OfficeMax called ElfYourself has existed since 2006. Image source: ElfYourself

Email newsletters

You can make the most of your email marketing to reach users for your UGC campaign. Send broadcasts and emails about any new contests or ways they can submit branded content that you might feature.

Update your newsletter templates to include a section on your UGC campaigns, especially if it’s more long-running and evergreen. 

For instance, you can place a Share Your Experience section at the bottom of each email, to encourage customers and users to leave a review about their brand experience. Or create a section that reminds customers to use your brand-specific hashtags when posting about your products.

Image source: Shopify

Social media

You can create social media ads that retarget existing customers to answer a survey or leave feedback or use social media to promote campaigns like contests. 

Social media is also a popular place to post curated content that will help visitors see social proof from real customers and fans.

Influencers

Influencers and thought leaders in your niche are also great channels to help you promote your UGC campaigns and even get more user-generated content in the long run.

Fans and followers feel closer to these influencers when they purchase products and services that they promote, so build relationships with quality influencers whom you know have an engaged following.

Create mechanics for your campaign

You’ll have to iron out exactly how users can contribute content to your campaign, so you can communicate these to them.

Your mechanics for gathering more user-generated content could be a simple brand-hashtag that gives users of the hashtag a chance to be featured, like how Blavity does this on their Instagram. But you might need to put more thought into more complex UGC campaigns, like contests.

Revisit those goals you had for your UGC campaign. This not only helps you craft your mechanics better but may even help you identify creative ways to get more user-generated content into your campaign.

Consider incentivizing users 

Aside from a UGC social media contest with a prize at the end, there are other ways you can offer great incentives and perks for customers who contribute content like reviews, testimonials, or curation-worthy social media posts.

Sometimes the chance to be featured on your marketing channels is incentive enough for some people, but it doesn’t hurt to get creative and really rake in more engaged users.

Offer a discount code for users who successfully complete a survey that will help you inform your next content marketing strategy. Send free gifts to users who often create social media content featuring your products.

Want to use your existing customers as a case study or success story? Invite them for an interview and give them gifts at the end.

In a campaign by Thrive Themes, for example, they invited some of their active members to become case studies that they would later turn into video content and blog posts to promote their products.

As a big incentive for participating and completing the case study process, they offered users a free lifetime membership for their existing product suite.

Display CTAs on major brand touchpoints

Be sure to display call-to-actions across major brand touchpoints where you’d want to generate more UGC.

One simple application of this can be leaving a CTA on your social media posts and bios asking people to either tag you or use your brand-specific hashtag for a chance to be curated on your feed.

If you sell products on an eCommerce store, add a Leave a Review section on your product pages, and be sure to have the same CTA in any Order Update emails you might send.

In the example below, we also see a unique way that a company encourages users to leave reviews on their website to help make their content more valuable.

Image source: coschedule

This is a fantastic way for them to give readers and users the chance to rate their own experiences to their product.

Keep it legal

Last but not least, be sure to read up on any regulations that may limit or affect your user-generated content campaigns. 

Curate content responsibly and respect other people’s privacy. For example, if a user has a private account on Instagram – and even if you’re following them – and they post a product photo you want to curate, it’s best to ask for their consent to repost their photo.

While we can assume that people who publicly tag our social media accounts and use our brand-specific hashtags generally consent to our brands reposting their content, the same isn’t true for users on a private account.

If you also have contests or campaigns that require people to submit content that you may later use in promotional content, be sure to highlight these terms where users can see. 

Create a separate Terms and Conditions page, or list down any disclosures at the bottom of submission forms.

Image Source: FreePrivacyPolicy

 

Additional Tips for a Successful UGC Campaign

Here are a few extra tips to help you execute a successful UGC campaign for your brand:

Make it easy for your customers to contribute

If you’re relying on customers and users to create content for you – from simple reviews to even bigger projects like fan-made videos – then you’ll want to make things as easy as possible for them.

Make sure your mechanics are clear and simple and don’t take too much effort to understand. 

Also, use tools that will help you streamline and monitor your user-generated content easier. Use customer review software to help you collect and manage customers leaving feedback about your products and services, and make the most of your social media analytics dashboards to track branded hashtags and ongoing contests.

Give credit where credit is due

A good rule of thumb when curating or sharing user-generated content is always giving credit where credit is due. After all, your users and customers own their content – you’re simply reposting or sharing them.

Tag users in their own photos and videos. Make it clear that these content pieces were originally created by somebody else.

One good practice is also to always ask for permission before using UGC for major brand collateral, i.e. a website header or paid commercial. In these cases, you will need to compensate users for their content because you’d be doing more than simple curation.

Also, if a user requests your page to take down their content, then promptly honour that request. 

Take negative reviews as an opportunity

Sometimes in your UGC campaign, you might solicit negative reviews and feedback from unhappy customers.

This actually becomes a good opportunity for your brand to do some outreach and deliver exceptional customer service that will change their brand perception.

A Salesforce report tells us that 62% of surveyed customers will share a negative brand experience with others – so if you aren’t manoeuvring to fix bad experiences, you might just be getting bad press.

By actively soliciting user-generated content, you’re able to encourage users to leave reviews and offer feedback. These are valuable insights: customers are essentially telling you what they love and don’t love about your brand.

Be sure to mitigate negative reviews by reaching out individually to these customers, so you can begin the process of turning their negative experience into a small moment and not a lasting impression.

Wrap up

User-generated content campaigns help you deliver better brand experiences for existing customers while inviting new users to be part of the community you’ve built. Follow the steps above to help you plan out your own campaign, and soon you’ll start seeing the social proof and new content to curate for your brand and business.