Thursday, November 16, 2017

How Optimizing Google My Business Can Improve Your Local SEO

How Optimizing Google My Business Can Improve Your Local SEOA lot of businesses today are now seeing the value of SEO and how it improves their visibility on the internet. This allows them to get leads that would be interested in their products and services, some of which would be converted into sales. A business with a solid SEO and linkbuilding strategy greatly benefits from this system.

For local business, it is important that you will be able to track your local SEO, as it would help more people near your area know about your business. One of the best ways to do so is by using Google My Business, as it can help you get spotted on Google Maps, and allow people to give their reviews as well. This is an effective tool that would give your businesses visibility and customer input, which is why optimizing it would be beneficial. Here are some ways to do it effectively:

Keep Things Up to date

One thing that people usually encounter in some businesses that use Google My Business is that some of them are not updated properly. Some of the information, like address, contact details, opening and closing hours, and images are out of date. This is not good for business, as potential customers are not getting the right information.

To keep this from happening, make it a routine to update the information as regularly as possible. This means updating every important piece of information about your business. This includes your address and telephone number (If you have moved), business hours, and your images. Doing this would ensure that people would see that your business is still running and active.

Make use of the “Virtual Tour”

Nowadays, some people would like to have a first-hand impression of what your business would look like by looking at your images. While having images is always a must (as mentioned earlier), you can make it even more interactive by using the virtual tour option. This allows potential customers to be able to take a look what is inside your business by “going around” virtually.

This is helpful for business in a way that they already have an idea of where they are going. More and more businesses have been using this option, and have seen positive results from it. Alternatively, you can also use the Street View on Maps, which can help people find your business.

Google+

One handy feature that Google My Business has is that you can link it up with Google+. You can use Google+ to constantly update your customers on your business, like product promos, company announcements, events, inquiries, and other relevant news. This allows your business to be able to interact with your customers, which helps improve customer trust and reliability if done right.

Listen to your reviews

Reviews are always a subject of a good amount of scrutiny, whether it be positive or negative. With Google My Business, it can come from anyone, from field experts, regular customers, and anyone else in between. Reviews are one way that helps your customers get their concerns straight to you, which is why it is important to respond back.

Customers and experts alike would be appreciative of business responding to their concerns, as it means that they are making an effort to improve or refine themselves, and show that they have good customer service. Always keep in mind to always respond to reviews in a calm and rational manner, whether it be a 5-star review, or a 1-star review. Constructive criticism should always be welcome to ensure growth.

Study your insights

Google My Business shows important customer data through their insights. By using insights, you would be able to see how people came across your business, and how they are looking for it. You can also see how many customers access your business website, and how many times they have viewed your images and virtual tour. This is important data for your SEO strategy, as you can instantly see how well you are doing, and see what new strategies and techniques you can use as well.

Key Takeaway

Having a business in today’s world is a challenge, as you would be always facing a lot of competitors. It is always a great thing to find ways to stand out, and optimizing your Google My Business account would do just that. Through this tool, you would be able give your business the visibility it needs, and help potential customers find you.

If you have questions and inquiries about Local SEO and other SEO-related topics, leave a comment below and let’s talk.


How Optimizing Google My Business Can Improve Your Local SEO was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Capturing Your Audience: Making Your Podcast Grow With SEO

Capturing Your Audience: Making Your Podcast Grow With SEO

The internet has grown into the world’s largest media provider, with millions of people accessing a wide variety of it every single day. These forms of media include videos, music, images, and even podcasts. For the latter, podcasts are some of the most popular forms of media with a wide audience listening about various topics such as sports, cinema, gaming, technology, and even SEO podcasts.

With the increasing number of listeners every year, getting them heard by the right audience is imperative, and one of the best ways to widen your audience is through the use of SEO. Like other strategies, podcast SEO requires certain techniques that only work for this specific platform. Here are some effective tips and techniques on how you can use SEO to let your podcast audience grow.

Get the Audience's Attention and Interest

Get the Audience’s Attention and Interest

The main reasons why people listen to podcasts is because the topic is something that they are interested in. With a plethora of topics and podcasts already available to the audience, finding a way to set yourself apart is one of the top priorities. One effective way of doing so is by crafting some interesting and eye-catching titles for your podcasts.

It is best to get straight to the point and show what your podcast is about. A good title can involve a clever reference to your topics, or a catchy name. Along with a good title, you must also have the right keywords, which would help get you into search engine results pages. Once you have a consistent amount of audiences, you can also add subtitles and captions, which would help get you searched more easily.

Create a Post for Each Episode

You might have an interesting podcast that has compelling content, but it would all be wasted if you do not have a good website to post them on. Just like posting articles on your blog, it is important that you have an individual page for each of your podcast episodes. For example, if you have a SEO podcast, you can dedicate an individual post for each topic you would be discussing.

This would help you share each episode more conveniently, and help more users search and access your content. Getting more traffic to your website would mean more listeners, which would help build your podcast into a trusted and authoritative source.

Present It Well

Presentation is also key, as adding relevant images and graphics would definitely attract more people to your podcasts. This would give your users the impression that you are a reputable site that puts effort into creating episodes that have top-notch content. Examples of good presentation include a user-friendly layout that allows you to navigate the site easily, and images that are relevant with your topics. You can also make use of headings and meta descriptions, which are the first things that people would see in their search results.

One of the newest SEO trends is getting your website optimized for mobile through AMP. With a lot of people accessing content through their mobile devices, this will undoubtedly help you get more listeners, as a lot of people listen and download their podcasts on the go.

Share Your Content in Social Media

Share Your Content in Social Media

Social media has become an important element in SEO metrics and analytics, as content sharing increases internet traffic by a good margin. Methods of sharing your content vary from each social media site, so it is best to do some research. For example, sharing on Twitter is different, due to the fact that you only have a limited amount of characters for each post, which is why adding images and a concise description would do wonders for your rankings.

Meanwhile, Facebook allows you to share your content through various methods. One of them is sharing your episodes on your podcast page, on your personal accounts, and in Facebook groups. This will help you reach your intended audience as Facebook pages and groups have members who have specific interests that you can tap. Use the power of social media to your advantage, and it would help your audience grow.

YouTube

YouTube is one of the most accessed streaming sites on the internet, with videos containing a wide variety of topics. You can take advantage of its wide audience base by converting your podcasts into videos. There are tools you can use to convert your audio files into videos, and you can also record videos of your podcasts.

More people would see your podcasts and access your site through YouTube, and give you a consistently increasing viewer count. Being a different site unto itself, YouTube SEO is a different kind of animal. Luckily, we have the ultimate guide to YouTube SEO which you can access here.

Key Takeaway

Podcasts are a great place to listen to a wide range of discussions, which is part of the reason why more people listen to them on a daily basis. With so many podcasts available on the internet, having a consistent number of listeners would help keep you going. By using these podcast SEO tips and techniques, you would be able to get more people to listen.

If you have more questions and inquiries about SEO strategies and techniques, leave a comment below and let’s talk.


Capturing Your Audience: Making Your Podcast Grow With SEO was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

6 Easy Ways to Discover Your Search Competitors

Who hasn’t heard the proverb “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”? This phrase alludes well to a key aspect of good SEO strategies: knowing who your search competitors are.

Your search competition is made up of sites competing for the same search visibility as your own domain. Search visibility refers to how visible your website is in search engine results. You need to who you are fighting against in the search results battlefield (and understand what their strategies are) because that's how you can suss out where your SEO efforts will be best spent.

Even if you know who your traditional business competitors are, you need to bear in mind that if they are not competing for the same keywords as your sites, then they are not a “search” competitor.

So, how can you easily find your real online competitors? There are many ways to do this manually (using search engines), as well as free and paid tools to help automate this process. Here are six quick and easy tools to help you with your competitive research:

Prep work: Identify your keywords

Before getting started, you need to know what key terms your site is targeting (and ranking for). If you don’t have a seed list of keywords or know which ones you’re ranking for, I recommend using Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush or Moz Keyword Explorer to discover them. You can read this keyword research guide if you need further help on the process of how to find keyword for your business. Not all keywords and phrases are made equally, however: pay special attention to phrases with high and mid average search volume (this means a high or moderate number of searches for a particular keyword usually in a month) and an achievable difficulty score. Once you have established your list of key search terms, it’s time to find your competitors.

1. Google Search

This is the most manual process for finding your online competitors and is totally free / straightforward. Now that you have your seed list of top keywords, it’s time to search for these terms on Google. Which pages consistently rank in the top 10 positions? If you sell bespoke sofas, for example, and you search for this term, you will see who’s ranking in the top six spots:

Tip: The results you find will depend on your location and how Google personalised your search, however, you can construct your own Google search URLs to avoid personalised searches. For example:

https://www.google.com/search?q=example+query&pws=0&gl=gb&hl=en

q=example+query - this means you're searching for "example query".

pws=0 - this disables personalisation.

gl=gb - this means you're searching as if you're in the UK.

hl=en - this means you're searching as if your browser language is English.

If you want to take it one step further, you can analyse results’ digital relevance through observing their Domain Authority (DA). DA is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that measures the predictive ranking strength of entire domains or subdomains. Learn how Domain Authority is calculated with this link.

You can view a website's DA by using MozBar, a free Chrome extension:

A Domain Authority score ranges from 1 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank. Pay special attention to those that have a higher score than yours, so in the next step, you can try to understand the reasons why they are outranking you.

Also, you may find competitors within the paid results, as shown below:

Keep in mind that these two websites with the label “Ad” in green you see above are not organic results. These brands are bidding to appear, in this case, for the keyword “bespoke sofas,” so they are not showing up as a result of their page’s relevance for this search term.

2. Google “Related:” search operator

Another way of using Google to find your online competition (which is less time-consuming than checking search results by manually typing in your target keywords) is by performing a search using the operator “related:” followed by your domain. It will help you identify websites that Google thinks are similar to yours and therefore they might be considered as your competitors.

You need to type “related:[your URL website]” in the search box. In this example, I searched for domains related to “argos.co.uk”:

Note that the "related:" operator may only work for certain industries, and is typically best for larger sites. That said, it’s quick and worth trying to spot any overlapping domains, and potentially identify ones you may have otherwise overlooked.

Check out the Google search operators list to learn more.

3. STAT (paid)

STAT is one of the ranking tools that we use every day at Distilled. In order to find who your search competitors are in STAT, you need first to set up keyword tracking. Plug in your domain and keyword seed list, then let STAT do its thing for about 24 hours (it takes at least a full day for ranking information to populate). Once the information is available, go under the “Competitive Landscape” tab - there you will find your top search competitors based on the keywords you’ve given STAT.

Within this same section you can track organic “share of voice” to see which domains are winning, which ones are losing and those that could become a potential threat:

Competitive Landscape Analysis Example. Source

Most Frequently in Top 10 in Google and Bing Example. Source

One of the most useful functionalities available in STAT is a keyword tagging tool, that allows you to group your keywords by specific types. If your company sells pet products, you may have a tag to group keywords targeting all variants of pet food searches as opposed to a tag grouping keywords targeting pet grooming searches.

Aside from tracking your domain’s performance across groups of keywords, you can analyze whether you have different competitors within each keyword segment. Using our pet store example, if one of your segments is pet food and another is pet grooming, you will probably find that competitors differ between these two categories.

4. SEMRush (paid)

SEMRush is a competitive research tool that provides keyword ranking and traffic data. You need to pay for a subscription for unlimited data. However, SEMRush does provide a “freemium” model that allows you to see some information in its free version.

To find out which websites SEMrush considers your competitors, enter your domain and scroll down to the “Main Organic Competitors” section.

Domain Analytics Overview Section on SEMrush.

SEMrush calculates your competitors based on the analysis of the number of keywords of each domain and the number of the domain’s common keywords. This means the more keywords you share with a website, the higher the competition level would be. Focus on the five or six competitors with the highest competition level.

Competitors Section on SEMrush.

5. Searchmetrics (paid)

Searchmetrics will also give you an overview of your current online presence, including some of your main competitors, for both organic and paid. To use this tool, you need to pay a monthly subscription and, as opposed to SEMrush, Search Metrics doesn’t provide any free data.

Go to the “SEO Research” tab and click on “Competitors”. One of the nice features this tool provides, different to SEMrush, is the competitor chart (below) where you can see in a graph how many keywords you share with your most related competitors. On the right side you will see your broad competitors, the ones you share fewer keywords with, and to the left the ones you share more keywords with. You can display up to 250 different competitors on the graph.

Competitors Section on Search Metrics.

6. Google Maps

Google Maps is great when you own a local business and you want to find your local competition. Go to Google Maps and search for your [“keyword” + Location], you will see all your competitors near you:

Google Maps results for “pet shops near Wimbledon”

In the example above, we search for “pet shops near Wimbledon” and Google shows similar businesses on the map as well as listings on the left side. If, for instance, due to proximity you want to include also New Malden as an area to find competitors, you can zoom out the map to expand your results across Wimbledon and New Malden. Otherwise, if you want to look into a more specific area of Wimbledon, you can zoom in the map to shrink your competitors’ results.

Summary

Now you have six different options for finding your search competitors. We suggest combining between free and paid tools when possible, so you can take advantage of the specific functionality / feature from each option:

Tool

Paid/Free

Specific Feature or Benefit

Google Search

Free

Know in which position your competitors are ranking for your keywords directly in search results

Google "Related" Search Operator

Free

Find your competitors by only typing your URL

STAT

Paid

See different competitors according to the keywords categories/tags you create

SEMRush

Paid with free options

It offers the widest number of competitors

Searchmetrics

Paid

It displays a graph showing up to 250 competitors with the number of keywords you share with each one

Google Maps

Free

it shows competitors by searching for localisation

How often should you check who your online competitors are?

New competitors may come to the scene over time, so it’s important to stay on top of the domains within your search landscape. TL;DR? Identifying your search competitors isn’t a one-and-done exercise. Depending on your industry, you may see rapid or regular influxes of new competitors for your terms.

For example, Amazon began selling tickets to music concerts, West End theatre performances, and Off West-End shows two years ago. Shortly thereafter, this giant suddenly became a direct search competitor of tickets sellers’ websites (London Theatre, Ticketmaster, London Theatre Direct, etc). As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In order to be prepared for new competition, we recommend you repeat this competitive research every quarter or at least twice a year.

Next steps

By this point, you have already identified your online competition and have a list of five or six brands for you to monitor. The next step is to perform a competitive analysis, which will allow you to observe why they may outrank your site, and point you in the right direction to craft your own SEO strategy.

Try this process out, and let us know what you find! If there are other ways you like to find your online competitors, share your tips as well.


6 Easy Ways to Discover Your Search Competitors was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Capturing Your Audience: Making Your Podcast Grow With SEO

Making-Your-Podcast-Grow-With-SEO

The internet has grown into the world’s largest media provider, with millions of people accessing a wide variety of it every single day. These forms of media include videos, music, images, and even podcasts. For the latter, podcasts are some of the most popular forms of media, with a wide audience listening to discussions about various topics such as sports, cinema, gaming, technology, and even SEO.

With the increasing number of listeners every year, getting them heard by the right audience is imperative, and one of the best ways to widen your audience is through the use of SEO. Like other strategies, podcast SEO requires certain techniques that only work for this specific platform. Here are some effective tips and techniques on how you can use SEO to increase your podcast audience.

Get the Audience's Attention and Interest

Get the Audience’s Attention and Interest

The main reasons why people listen to podcasts is because the topic is something that they are interested in. With a plethora of topics and podcasts already available to the audience, finding a way to set yourself apart is one of the top priorities. One effective way of doing so is by crafting some interesting and eye-catching titles for your podcasts.

It is best to get straight to the point and show what your podcast is about. A good title can involve a clever reference to your topics, or a catchy name. Along with a good title, you must also have the right keywords, which would help get you into search engine results pages. Once you have a consistent amount of audiences, you can also add subtitles and captions, which would help get you searched more easily.

Create a Post for Each Episode

You might have an interesting podcast that has compelling content, but it would all be wasted if you do not have a good website to post them on. Just like posting articles on your blog, it is important that you have an individual page for each of your podcast episodes.

This would help you share each episode more conveniently, and help more users search and access your content. Getting more traffic to your website would mean more listeners, which would help build your podcast into a trusted and authoritative source.

Present It Well

Presentation is also key, as adding relevant images and graphics would definitely attract more people to your podcasts. This would give your users the impression that you are a reputable site that puts effort into creating episodes that have top-notch content. Examples of good presentation include a user-friendly layout that allows you to navigate the site easily, and images that are relevant with your topics. You can also make use of headings and meta descriptions, which are the first things that people would see in their search results.

One of the newest SEO trends is getting your website optimized for mobile through AMP. With a lot of people accessing content through their mobile devices, this will undoubtedly help you get more listeners, as a lot of people download and listen to their podcasts on the go.

Share Your Content on Social Media

Share Your Content on Social Media

Social media has become an important element in SEO metrics and analytics, as content sharing increases internet traffic by a good margin. Methods of sharing your content vary from each social media site, so it is best to do some research. For example, sharing on Twitter is different, due to the fact that you only have a limited amount of characters for each post, which is why adding images and a concise description would do wonders.

Meanwhile, Facebook allows you to share your content through various methods. One of them is sharing your episodes on your podcast page, on your personal accounts, and in Facebook groups. This will help you reach your intended audience as Facebook pages and groups have members who have specific interests that you can tap. Use the power of social media to your advantage, and it would help your audience grow.

YouTube

YouTube is one of the most watched video streaming sites on the internet, with videos garnering millions of views daily. You can take advantage of its wide audience base by converting your podcasts into videos. There are tools you can use to convert your audio files into videos, and you can also record videos of your podcasts.

More people would see your podcasts and access your site through YouTube, and give you a consistently increasing viewer count. Being a different site unto itself, YouTube SEO is a different kind of animal. Luckily, we have the ultimate guide to YouTube SEO which you can access here.

Key Takeaway

Podcasts are a great place to listen to a wide range of discussions, which is part of the reason why more people listen to them on a daily basis. With so many podcasts available on the internet, having a consistent number of listeners would help keep you going. By using these podcast SEO tips and techniques, you would be able to get more people to listen.

If you have more questions and inquiries about SEO strategies and techniques, leave a comment below and let’s talk.


Capturing Your Audience: Making Your Podcast Grow With SEO was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Call Center Optimization: How a nonprofit increased donation rate 29% with call center testing

If you’ve read MarketingExperiments for any length of time, you know that most of our marketing experiments occur online because we view the web as a living laboratory.

However, if your goal is to learn more about your customers so you can practice customer-first marketing and improve business results, don’t overlook other areas of customer experimentation as well.

To wit, this article is about a MECLABS Institute Research Partner who engaged in call center testing.

Overall Research Partnership Objective

Since the Research Partner was a nonprofit, the objective of the overall partnership focused on donations. Specifically, to increase the total amount of donations (number and size) given by both current and prospective members.

While MECLABS engaged with the nonprofit in digital experimentation as well (for example, on the donation form), the telephone was a key channel for this nonprofit to garner donations.

Call Script Test: Initial analysis

After analyzing the nonprofit’s calls scripts, the MECLABS research analysts identified several opportunities for optimization. For the first test, they focused on the call script’s failure to establish rapport with the caller and only mentioning the possibility of donating $20 per month, mentally creating a ceiling for the donation amount.

Based on that analysis, the team formulated a test. The team wanted to see if they could increase overall conversion rate by establishing rapport early in the call. The previous script jumped in with the assumption of a donation before connecting with the caller.

Control versus Treatment

In digital A/B testing, traffic is split between a control and treatment. For example, 50% of traffic to a landing page is randomly selected to go to the control. And the other 50% is randomly selected to go to the treatment that includes the optimized element or elements: optimized headline, design, etc. Marketers then compare performance to see if the tested variable (e.g., the headline) had an impact on performance.

In this case, the Research Partner had two call centers. To run this test, we provided optimized call scripts to one call center and left the other call center as the control.

We made three key changes in the treatment with the following goals in mind:

  • Establish greater rapport at the beginning of the call: The control goes right into asking for a donation – “How may I assist you in giving today?” However, the treatment asked for the caller’s name and expressed gratitude for the previous giving.
  • Leverage choice framing by recommending $20/month, $40/month, or more: The control only mentioned the $20/month option. The addition of options allows potential donors to make a choice and not have only one option thrust upon them.
  • Include an additional one-time cause-related donation for both monthly givers and other appropriate calls: The control did not ask for a one-time additional donation. The ongoing donation supported the nonprofit’s overall mission; however, the one-time donation provided another opportunity for donors to give by tying specifically into a real-time pressing matter that the nonprofit’s leaders were focused on. If they declined to give more per month for financial reasons, they were not asked about the one-time donation.

To calibrate the treatment before the experimentation began, a MECLABS researcher flew to the call center site to train the callers and pretest the treatment script.

While the overall hypothesis stayed the same, after four hours of pretesting, the callers reconvened to make minor tweaks to the wording based on this pretest. It was important to preserve key components of the hypothesis; however, the callers could make small tweaks to preserve their own language.

The treatment was used on a large enough sample size — in this case, 19,655 calls — to detect a statistically valid difference between the control and the treatment.

Results

The treatment script increased the donation rate from 14.32% to 18.47% at a 99% Level of Confidence for a 29% relative increase in the donation rate.

Customer Insights

The benefits of experimentation go beyond the incremental increase in revenue from this specific test. By running the experiment in a rigorously scientific fashion — accounting for validity threats and formulating a hypothesis — marketers can build a robust customer theory that helps them create more effective customer-first marketing.

In this case, the “customers” were donors. After analyzing the data in this experiment, the team discovered three customer insights:

  • Building rapport on the front end of the script generated a greater openness with donors and made them more likely to consider donating.
  • Asking for a one-time additional donation was aligned with the degree of motivation for many of the callers. The script realized a 90% increase in one-time gifts.
  • Discovering there was an overlooked customer motivation — to make one-time donations, not only ongoing donations sought by the organization. Part of the reason may be due to the fact that the ideal donors were in an older demographic, which made it difficult for them to commit at a long-term macro level and much easier to commit at a one-time micro level. (Also, it gave the nonprofit an opportunity to tap into not only the overall motivation of contributing to the organization’s mission but contributing to a specific timely issue as well.)

The experimentation allowed the calling team to look at their role in a new way. Many had been handling these donors’ calls for several years, even decades, and there was an initial resistance to the script. But once they saw the results, they were more eager to do future testing.

Can you improve call center performance?

Any call center script is merely a series of assumptions. Whether your organization is nonprofit or for-profit, B2C or B2C, you must ask a fundamental question — what assumptions are we making about the person on the other line with our call scripts?

And the next step is — how can we learn more about that person to draft call center scripts with a customer-first marketing approach that will ultimately improve conversion?

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingExperiments, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

You might also like

Lead Nurturing: Why good call scripts are built on storytelling

Online Ads for Inbound Calls: 5 Tactics to get customers to pick up the phone

B2B Lead Generation: 300% ROI from email and teleprospecting combo to house list

Download the free Quick Guide to Lead Generation


Call Center Optimization: How a nonprofit increased donation rate 29% with call center testing was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Friday, November 10, 2017

Semantic Keyword Research and Topic Models

Seeing Meaning

I went to the Pubcon 2017 Conference this week in Las Vegas Nevada, and gave a presentation about Semaantic Search topics based upon white papers and patents from Google. My focus was upon things such as Context Vectors and Phrase Based Indexing.

I promised in social media that I would post the presentation on my blog, so that I could answer questions if anyone had any.

I’ve been doing keyword research like this for years, where I’ve looked at other pages that rank well for keyword terms that I want to use, and identify phrases and terms that tend to appear upon those pages, and include them on pages that I am trying to optimize. It made a lot of sense to start doing that after reading about phrase based indexing in 2005 and later.

Some of the terms I see when I search for Semantic Keyword Research include such things as “improve your rankings,” and “conducting keyword research” and “smarter content.” I’m seeing phrases that I’m not a fan of such as “LSI Keywords” which has as much scientific credibility as Keyword Density, which is next to none. There were researchers from Bell Labs, in 1990, who wrote a white paper about Latent Semantic Indexing, which was something that was used with small (less that 10,000 documents) and static collections of documents (the web is constantly changing and hasn’t been that small for a long time. There are many people who call themselves SEOs who tout LSI keywords as being keywords that are based upon having related meanings to other words, unfortunately, that has nothing to do with the LSI that was developed in 1990.

If you are going to present research or theories about things such as LSI, it really pays to do a little research first. Here’s my presentation. It includes links to patents and white papers that the ideas within in are based upon. I do look forward to questions.


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Semantic Keyword Research and Topic Models was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Customer Theory: How to leverage empathy in your marketing (with free tool)

Think about every marketing message you saw yesterday. Every newspaper ad. Every email. Every sign being twirled around on the side of the street.

Did you stop to read each message? Watch every commercial? Think about the message? Decide if you should go for the call-to-action?

No you didn’t, did you? You ignored the vast majority of the messages. A few you actually noticed and rejected. You consumed less of them. And maybe acted on a handful.

And the reason is, when you saw most of those messages, you probably weren’t waiting to be sold. You were busy doing something else. Maybe something related. At best you were probably looking for a solution to a problem. Or maybe something totally unrelated and didn’t even notice the message.

Now flip the script. That’s how you act as a customer, but when you’re the marketer, account executive, copywriter, art director … how do you approach each piece you create? You likely have a deep understanding of the product, the copy, even little details of the ad. Perhaps even a deep affection for the product, the landing page or the ad — after all, many marketers end up entering their work into awards shows because they’re so proud of it.

Bridging the customer-marketer divide

As a marketer, you need to do the seemingly impossible. You need to bridge this divide for your entire team. The divide between the customer and the marketer.

I found myself in this very situation recently while working on a video script for The BairFind Foundation, a nonprofit that uses sports marketing to raise awareness for missing children. MECLABS Institute has taken BairFind on, pro bono, as a Research Partner to use our conversion optimization methodology and practices, which we usually apply to business challenges, to help this nonprofit meet its own goals.

BairFind has signs in 151 Minor League ballparks across the nation, with pictures of missing children. It was recently featured in USA Today. League and team presidents were hungry for a video to play in their stadiums about the nonprofit organization, and it was my job to deliver.

So this was a quick-turnaround project, and I had little familiarity with the intended audience of the video. Ever find yourself in this situation? Here’s something that might help …

Free customer theory development tool

I took what I learned from  University of Florida/MECLABS Institute Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program and began to build a customer theory dossier. I’ll show you how I used it in just a moment, but first — you can download a free version of it as well, and use it as a tool on your next ad, campaign or marketing initiative.

FREE CUSTOMER THEORY DEVELOPMENT DOWNLOAD

Step 0: Identify as many distinct customer profiles as necessary

Before you can even start building a customer theory, you must determine which type of customer you’re building that theory for.

Here’s why this pre-step is so important. If you’re building an ad or other marketing pieces with a strong, unique value proposition, it will speak very directly to a specific type of customer. Boom. Hit them square in the chest, so to speak.

You can’t do that if you try to be everything to everyone, if you’re blandvertising.

This is also important. While there are certain types of customers you shouldn’t try to serve because you aren’t the best solution for their needs, there are other types of customers you can serve.

Some marketing communications will speak to all those types of customers at once. But more likely, for most of your marketing campaigns, you’ll want to zero in on as unique and homogeneous a group as possible.

As an example, here are the possible customer profiles I listed for BairFind Foundation.

  1. Parents at a Minor League Baseball game
  2. Grandparents at a Minor League Baseball game
  3. Children at a Minor League Baseball game
  4. Adults with no children at Minor League Baseball game
  5. Marketer from a retailer or other potential corporate sponsor
  6. Minor league team presidents
  7. MiLB league presidents
  8. Marketers at MiLB teams
  9. MiLB baseball players
  10. Sports and other local and national media

For the video script, I chose to focus on parents at a minor league baseball game. If you watch the video (embedded at the bottom of this article), you can see why that choice is important. I sought to grab their attention from the very beginning and hit them hard with something they could easily relate to.

I couldn’t have done that if I tried to write a video for all 10 of BairFind’s customer profiles. Even just adding a second customer profile would have made that harder.

This doesn’t mean that customers in those other profiles won’t be able to understand and perhaps act on the video. But it means I wrote the video with those specific people in mind.

Step 1: Create a list of preliminary customer insights

For my selected prospect profile, I began to list out some basic insights about the ideal customer — parents at a Minor League Baseball game.

I started with my own gut and intuition, and expanded using some basic internet research. This was, of course, a very small project. And a pro bono one at that. But if you have a larger, higher profile project, you might want to conduct deeper research to get these insights — social listening, focus groups, interviews, surveys, etc.

It helps that I’m somewhat in this demographic. (I am a parent, although the last time I attended a MiLB game was before I became a parent.) But this exercise is all the more important when you’re not in the target customer profile. Marketers often fall into the trap of “I’d want this” or “I’d want that.” But if you’re not the ideal customer for that product, the actual customer might want something very different.

So this tool helps you get as close as possible to a fundamental insight — not what you’d want if you were in the customers’ shoes, but what the customers in those shoes actually want themselves.

Here are the insights I came up with:

  1. Parents age 21-54
  2. Have children 0-16
  3. Limited external funds for entertainment
  4. Focused on having fun at the ballpark, not really thinking about other issues at that time
  5. Family oriented
  6. Diverse level of education
  7. Diverse ethnicities
  8. Don’t have much additional spare time to help community
  9. More likely than the general population to have smartphones
  10. Community minded

Step 2: Categorize these preliminary insights

Next, categorize these preliminary insights into attributes, context, desires and fears. As you do this, it will likely inspire you and your team to come up with new insights you hadn’t considered before.

The context is an important reminder. For example, you may view a print ad in isolation, nicely mounted on a piece of blackboard. However, the customer will view the ad in a newspaper with many competing articles and ads trying to get their attention. In addition to what’s in the newspaper, they may be reading in a crowded coffee shop or subway, or perhaps they’re at home with children who are trying to get their attention.

In this case, we would view the video in a studio on a nice hi-def superwide Apple monitor with superb audio speakers. However, the customer may be viewing it on a washed-out screen in a noisy stadium between innings.

In addition to the context, it’s important to understand your ideal customers’ desires and fears. We all move toward pleasure and away from pain. What are they trying to achieve? What are they trying to avoid?

You’ll note in my example below that not everything I included directly relates to the BairFind Foundation, missing children or the call-to-action. It’s very easy for us as marketers to only focus on what we want customers to do, or the tiny sliver of their life that relates to our product or ask.

However, real human beings aren’t two dimensional. And their experiences in life are much broader and deeper than just those that relate to your product.

And at the end of the day, all those perceptions ultimately affect how they regard your message. After all, as the Talmud says, “We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”

Attributes (Demographic Characteristics)

  1. Ages 21-54
  2. Diverse education level
  3. Diverse ethnicity
  4. Moderate household income, however, 29% HH income $100K+
  5. 78% own home

Context

  1. Family of four can see ballgame for $62
  2. Some fans attend just a few games per year; some are season ticket holders
  3. Between innings, they are distracted
  4. Receive many promos throughout the game
  5. Children will be going back to school soon
  6. Likely watching on a washed-out screen in a noisy stadium

Common Desires (Moves Toward)

  1. Experience budget-friendly entertainment
  2. Create happy memories together
  3. Be a part of the community
  4. Be the hero to their kids
  5. Be a good parent
  6. Be an upstanding member of the local community
  7. Relax with family
  8. Escape pressures of life
  9. See a future big leaguer
  10. See the local team win
  11. Have a story to tell their friends the next day
  12. Watch the mascot do something funny

Common Fears (Moves From)

  1. Something bad will happen to my children
  2. I can lose my job, and I won’t have enough money to support my family
  3. The home team will lose
  4. Will my kids throw a temper tantrum if I don’t by them cotton candy at the game?
  5. Crowds and traffic leaving the game
  6. Violence will come to my country/my town/this baseball game
  7. Will this game get rained out?
  8. If I text a donation, will I be continually sent text messages
  9. What if I think I know the missing kid, tell the cops, but I’m wrong
  10. Will my kids need a nap at the game?

Step 3: Unanswered questions about the prospect

Generate a list of the most important unanswered questions about the customer’s identity and behavior.

Unanswered Questions about the Prospect (Parents at a Minor League Baseball game)

  1. Will they be too distracted to pay attention to a video between innings?
  2. Will the donate message make them more or less likely to look at the sign?
  3. Do they understand how to text to donate?
  4. Is $2 the right amount to ask them to donate?
  5. Is a video the right way to ask them to donate?
  6. Would they refer a friend to donate?

These first three steps are part of the MECLABS Seven-Step Customer Theory Development Framework that is taught in the University of Florida graduate program. The full framework also includes conducting experiments to build a robust customer theory discovered from customer behavior to answer some of these questions.

In the case of this project — a simple video for a nonprofit — we were unable to go full on through all seven steps and conduct experimentation. However, I still find this step helpful because it instills humility as part of the process. As much as you have certain assumptions about the customer, it forces you to admit there’s still a lot you don’t know.

It also doesn’t hurt to look back at these questions when you’re working on the next project, see what the results of the previous project were, and continue to build a base of knowledge about the customer.

Getting everyone on the same page

In addition to helping the creators of the advertisement (copywriters, art directors, video producers, etc.) get in the minds of the customer, this tool helps everyone working on the project — from an account coordinator to the vice president of marketing, on the agency side and the client-side — get on the same page about which customers will (and won’t) be talked to and what is important to those customers.

This can help reduce rework, and lay the groundwork for successful creative pitches to clients.

Which is what happened in this case. After I filled out the Customer Theory tool, I sent it over to Dennis Bair, Founder, The BairFind Foundation. I asked him for his perspective on the ideal customer as well, before writing the first word in the script.

Once I was able to incorporate his insights, I wrote a script and sent it over to Dennis, and he loved it, providing only minor feedback. Here’s the result:

It’s just an example of how successful copywriting is about so much more than just great writing. So much fantastic writing never sees the light of day because it never gets the green light.

Successful copywriting requires customer intimacy, but it requires client intimacy as well. Get on the same page with everyone you must collaborate with, and have the client share their key insights about the customer before you begin the creative process.

And the same is true in reverse if you’re on the brand side. Be proactive and make sure your internal or agency creatives have the same understanding of the customer as you do. As Sun Tzu has said, “Every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.”

If you’d like that free tool to use with your own clients, agencies and marketing projects, here it is again …

FREE CUSTOMER THEORY DEVELOPMENT DOWNLOAD

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content, MarketingExperiments, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

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Customer Theory: How to leverage empathy in your marketing (with free tool) was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing