Digital Marketing Spotlight: Amy Lamparske, Head of Social Media at 3M

Amy Lamparske

Amy Lamparske

One of the great benefits of social media is the dual effect of creating access to people of influence while helping individuals with expertise and points of view become influential themselves. One of my connections that serves as a great example of this is Amy Lamparske, Head of Global Social Media at 3M.

Local events and blogging undoubtedly created mutual awareness, but I didn’t meet Amy in person until she was Director, Digital Marketing at Walmart and then again when she was Director, Digital and Social Media at General Mills. In her current role at 3M, I’ve been able to see Amy’s thought leadership in action in situations ranging from being a keynote speaker at the first Brandwatch user conference to host of a Conference Board event on Social Media. Each time was a learning opportunity because Amy provides a view into enterprise social media marketing and advertising that is deep, insightful and fast moving. I’m not alone in this sentiment:

“Amy is a world class expert in social media strategy. She understands how to reach, influence and transform minds in the corporate setting and beyond. Genius and a fantastic execution partner!”

Kamal Manglani, currently Director at eBay

Amy has plenty of experience with large brand social media advertising, operations and governance, but I’ve chosen to focus on the topic of social media influencers. In this interview, Amy talks about how influencer marketing has had an impact on social social media marketing, how to activate influencers, scale influencer marketing in the enterprise and measures of success.

I believe in empowering small autonomous teams to plow through roadblocks and old school thinking.

You’ve worked for multiple global brands throughout your career, tell us what you’ve learned through your experiences?

Every company has so much potential in digital and social – it seems every executive leadership team sees the dollars and wants to embrace the opportunity. Change management and organizational readiness are the keys to driving transformation and enabling digital to thrive within large complex organizations. I’ve had some amazing sponsors throughout my career; a huge blessing that allowed me to have fun being a change agent – disrupting from the inside out. I’ve learned to be more patient and persistent while recognizing how best to influence, inspire and motivate others. I believe in empowering small autonomous teams to plow through roadblocks and old school thinking.

Brands don’t talk…People talk.

How are influencers, or how is influencer marketing changing your industry?

Early in my career, a close friend shared “brands don’t talk…people talk.” This remains true today – this space is about relationships not simply clicks. Plus, brands aren’t able to get as far as they once did with organic social. In terms of content creation, brands don’t need to be the experts anymore. What is shifting is we’re giving online influencers the ability, power and control to develop content on our behalf. Some large companies struggle with content creation while simply trying to remain relevant. It can be far more efficient and effective to go with a third party and look at their expertise, credibility and authority online.

Brands are partnering more and more with influencers to insert themselves, provide value or utility and share their stories. There’s tremendous value in speed to market activating the crowd. Buying behavior is shifting dramatically – we see an influencer publish content one day and the next thing we know, we are buying it. Influencers are growing trust, people relate to people like themselves, not always executives or celebrities.

How can brands best activate influencers to help share and promote brand content?

There are a lot of options for brands to partner and activate these days – technologies and solutions continue to sprout ongoing. I view partnerships both from a media standpoint as well as with customers to be a simple way to improve content performance. Demonstrate offline relationships online for transparency and reach purposes. Some brands still try to control the message and the way content is developed via influencers – the best approach is to provide appropriate direction from the start, and allow them to run with it. External ideas can be fresh and drive business growth in new ways. If you crowdsource content, embrace it and promote it even if it’s not 100% on brand.

You’ll want real friends online that have your back when negative sentiment comes knocking.

How can you scale influencer marketing at an organization?

Build an influencer or blogger network internally so the organization has a clear understanding and can tap their relationships on an ongoing basis. Ensure this isn’t simply paid influencer efforts – you’ll want real friends online that have your back when negative sentiment comes knocking.

With anything in social media, if you can’t scale it, don’t bother.

How do you know when its time to scale up with influencers?

We continue to grow within the B2B side of our organization. Some areas of the organization are new to working with influencers while other businesses have already built up relationships and programs. With anything in social media, if you can’t scale it, don’t bother. The idea is to provide something that is of huge value to be leveraged ongoing across the organization. Scale it yet be smart about how you make it relevant and customized for each individual influencer involved.

What are some of the most important measures of success for social influencer marketing?

Measures that drive business outcomes including: sales, stock performance, lead/demand generation, share of voice, enhanced sentiment breakdown and volume or mentions to influence the crowd.

I’ve seen brands invest too heavy on the paid side where it backfires eventually – brands need to balance.

Do you have any advice to share with other brand marketing executives when it comes to paid vs. relationship based influencer engagements? How do you decide?

It varies – if it’s something that simply makes sense for the brand and company to be involved with ongoing, true relationship based influencer engagements are the way to go. If you are looking to activate a chapter in your always-on book or align with a major tent pole event, product launch or seasonality; a blended approach is fine. I’ve seen brands invest too heavy on the paid side where it backfires eventually – brands need to balance this.

Now let’s play a little social network word association. After each platform, share the first thing or short reaction that comes to mind.

  • Facebook – Oldest yet most robust targeting
  • Vine – Short & sweet video
  • LinkedIn – B2B, requires real content marketing not simply snackable pieces
  • Periscope – Was pretty cool for six months
  • Twitter – When will you be bought? Partnership w/Google is good for SEO. Love you yet need you to be respected.
  • Google+ – Enhances SEO, good for brands w/reputation management issues, product could offer the world so much more coming from Google
  • Snapchat – Where everything is headed, wish I could just play here all day
  • YouTube – Oldie but goodie, will love you forever
  • Instagram – Requires high design, starting to provide analytics and better ads
  • Flickr –Old school photo sharing still kickin’

Thank you Amy!

You can find Amy on the social web at:

Twitter (@amylamparske)

LinkedIn (in/amylamparske)

The post Digital Marketing Spotlight: Amy Lamparske, Head of Social Media at 3M appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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How Personalization Can Help You Close Leads and Win Customers (with Examples)

Remember the last time you landed on the Amazon homepage and saw a bunch of recommendations based on your browsing habits?

Or that time when you got an email from your favorite airline thanking you by name and even mentioning your home city?

This is the power of personalization.

Personalization is easy enough to understand: the process of crafting personalized experiences for individual customers through data.

The data is pretty clear: personalization is good for your customers and your bottom-line.

  • 75% of customers say that they like when brands personalize the shopping experience for them (Aberdeen Group).
  • 74% of online customers get frustrated with website when content appears that has nothing to do with their interests (Janrain).
  • 86% of customers say that personalization affects their purchase decision (Infosys).
  • Marketers who personalize the user-experience and are able to implement the changes see on average a 19% uplift in sales (Monetate).

In this post, I’m going to help you understand personalization and show you how you can use it in your business.

Three Types of Personalization

Broadly speaking, you can divide any kind of on-site personalization into three categories:

1. Product-Specific Personalization

In this type of personalization, you show customers products based on what others have bought, or products that go well together (also called “affinity analysis”).

Essentially, it’s a way to upsell additional products based on what the customer is already viewing.

As an example, consider how Amazon shows you popular product combinations (“Frequently Bought Together”):

amazon-frequently-bought-together

Amazon also shows you products viewed/bought by other customers:

customers-bought-viewed-after-product

According to one study, this type of personalization generates the highest revenue for E-commerce stores:

personalied-product-recommendation-type-usage

It works due to three reasons:

  • Knowing that there are others who’ve bought similar products acts as powerful social proof, improving conversions.
  • Product recommendations are served right when customers are ready to buy. Think McDonald’s “Would you like fries with that?” upsell.
  • It encourages customers to view more products. Even if they don’t buy them, you get additional data and customers get exposed to new products.

This type of personalization is relatively easy to setup since it doesn’t require user-specific data. You can even set up product combinations (aka “Frequently Bought Together”) manually if you have a small inventory.

Similarly, setting up recommendations based on behavior of other customers (aka “Customers Who Viewed this Also Viewed”) is relatively easy if you have data on your customers’ behavior flow.

2. User-Focused Personalization

This personalization-type focuses on crafting customized experiences for every user.

You can further divide it into two sub-categories:

A. Data blind personalization

In this case, you know nothing about the user, so you gather key information right on the landing page itself.

For example, NakedWines asks you specific questions at the start to give you a personalized shopping experience. The more information they have on you, the better wine they’d be able to recommend.

nakedwines-survey-questionnaire

Unless you have a lot of customer data, most of your personalization will be data blind. You’ll have to use tactics to quickly gather customer information when they land on your site (more on this below).

Alternatively, you can personalize your site depending on information you already know – the user’s location, browsing device, referral source, etc.

For example, if you browse LLBean.com from Mexico, you’ll see an alert in Spanish notifying you about international shipping. LLBean can easily get this data from your browser itself.

ll-bean-geolocation

B. Data backed personalization

Users who’ve registered or bought something from your store fall into this category. Since you already have some data on these users’ preferences and shopping behavior, you can use it to create personalized experiences/recommendations.

For example, look at Amazon’s “You might also like” or “Inspired from your browsing history” recommendations.

amazon-inspired-by-your-browsing-history

Or Amazon’s “Featured Recommendations” based on recent history:

amazon-featured-recommendations

Data-backed personalization is a powerful tool for improving your conversions. Since it’s based on past user-behavior, you can show highly accurate recommendations to customers and increase your customer LTV.

3. Real-Time Personalization

Real-time personalization is a personalization technique that uses data collected from visitors to create personalized shopping experience on the fly.

In a way, it’s another form of data blind personalization, except it works in real-time.

For example, take a look at Burton‘s real-time weather-based personalization. Based on the weather at the user’s location, a tile on the homepage adapts and shows relevant products to buy.

burton-real-time-weather-personalization

Here’s another example from Volcom. Depending on your location, you would see two entirely different pages:

volcom-personalization

Real-time personalization often creates serendipitous “wow” moments for your customers. Using it too much, however, can leave visitors confused. Some users might even see it as an invasion of their privacy.

If you must use it, use it sparingly.

Before You Start Personalization: Things You’ll Need

We’ve seen how personalization can help you increase conversions while also improving your customer experience.

Before you can start the personalization process, however, there are a few things you’ll need.

1. The right audience

Unless you have a treasure trove of customer data and a crack team of data scientists to make sense of it (like Amazon), most of your personalization tactics will revolve around your “ideal” buyers.

These are buyers who have the money, the motivation and the need for your product.

The best way to identify this ideal audience is to create a thorough customer profile. This should more than just a brief statement like “Men who are above the age of 40 and who like sports”.

Instead, your “ideal buyer” customer profile should include the following:

  • Demographic information: This may include age, gender, location, ethnic background, marital status, income, and more.
  • Psychographic information: This information is about the customer’s psychology, interests, hobbies, values, lifestyle etc.
  • Firmographic information: This is more relevant to B2B businesses. Information on company name(s), size, industry, revenue etc.

How do you find this data?

This post from Chloe Mason Grey is a good place to start.

Most businesses will have multiple “ideal buyers” (say, a shoe store that sells running gear as well as formal dresswear). Use the data you gathered above to segregate your customers into distinct customer profiles.

2. The right message for the right customer

Different messages resonate with different customer profiles. Your 50-year old customer who buys $400 formal footwear isn’t going to respond to the same message as the 20-year old buying skateboarding shoes.

The next thing you’ll need for personalization, therefore, is the right messaging for different customer groups.

For example, if you sell software for businesses, you may want to show different landing pages for different segments of your target market.

DemandBase, for instance, mentions a customer’s company name and custom image (in this case, Salesforce) on its landing page:

demandbase-salesforce

Ideally, you should have separate messaging for each of your identified customer profiles.

For instance, suppose you identify two ideal customer profiles for your shoe store:

  • Millennials under 25 who buy cheap casual shoes, read Complex magazine and buy 10+ video games every year.
  • Professionals above 35 who buy expensive, but quality formal shoes, read niche fashion sites and occupy senior management positions.

You can then craft personalized messaging for both these customer profiles.

For your millennial buyers, for example, you might send them an email informing them about a new sneaker recently reviewed by Complex. For your older buyers, you could send them a personalized email about a classic Alden shoe that pairs perfectly with a quality suit.

Organize these messages in a “Messaging Matrix”, like this:

messaging-matrix

3. The right place to show your messages

Now that you know who your audience is and what messages resonate with them, it’s time to figure out where they hang out.

Ask yourself: which websites and social networks do they visit frequently? Do they regularly check their emails? Are there any apps they can’t live without?

Doing this will ensure that your personalized message reach your audience at the right place.

For example, if your customer research shows that most of your audience spends much of its time on email instead of reading blogs, investing time in personalized blog posts will be a waste of time.

Use this data to prioritize your message distribution. If you’ve worked out the message to get more conversions, then make sure you place it where the traffic is high (and of high quality).

For instance, Target shows its personalized recommendations right after you add a product to cart:

target-guests-also-bought

This will likely have strong conversions since it shows up right when the customer is ready to checkout.

How to Use Personalization in Your Business

By now, you should have:

  • A detailed profile of the “right” customer(s)
  • Messaging that resonates with these customers
  • A distribution system to deliver this messaging to your ideal customers.

The obvious question now is: how do you actually apply all this to personalization?

In this section I’ll share some strategies for using personalization.

1. Focus on capturing data

Data is the heart of personalization. In any personalization campaign, your focus should be to capture as much data as possible. This should include data for both logged-in and raw users.

Here are a few questions you should have answers to:

  • Traffic source: Where does your traffic come from? What devices and browsers do they use?
  • Behavior flow: What other pages do your visitors view? How long do they stay on these pages? Do they click/purchase anything from these pages?
  • Engagement metrics: What pages do your visitors engage with the most? What parts of the page do they spend the most time viewing?
  • Subjective data: Can customers actually find what they were looking for on your site? Use on-site forms to ask users such questions.
  • Click behavior: What links do your users click on? What links to they ignore?
  • CRM data: What part of the buying cycle are your users in? Use your CRM data to figure this out.
  • User data: When did your customer sign-up with you? How many products have they purchased from you? What is their average order value? Where are they located?
  • Search data: What keywords are customers searching for on your site?

Besides the above, you can also collect data when a user lands on a page and customize the experience on the fly. A very simple example of this is Lufthansa asking users what region and language they want to see the site in:

lufthansa-my-country-language

Here’s another example from Doggyloot. Instead of simply sending customers to the homepage, Doggyloot shows them a custom landing page based on the size of their dogs.

doggyloot-custom-landing-page

You can gradually ask for more and more data from the user to create more customized experiences. For instance, on the Sales Benchmark Index homepage, users are asked to choose their current role:

sbi-choose-your-role

Based on their choice, users are sent to a page with handpicked posts from the SBI blog:

sbi-personalized-page

If a user downloads an eBook or guide, SBI shows them additional content recommendations:

sbi-similar-blog-posts

Even the most basic data can help you create personalized experiences. JetBlue, for example, sent out customers a “happy anniversary” email to thank them for signing up.

jetblue-happy-anniversary-email

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need your own data to run personalized campaigns. Most ad platforms will likely already have lots of data you can leverage to create such experiences.

For example, you can run two Facebook campaigns:

  • Campaign #1: Targets 20-something first-time entrepreneurs who like TechCrunch and Hacker News.
  • Campaign #2: Targets CIOs at large companies who read CIO magazine and subscribe to niche industry blogs.

Since you’ve already qualified your audience, you can now create two custom landing pages for each of these two customer profiles.

For instance, your campaign #1 landing page might say “If you love Hacker News, you’ll love our tech community as well”, while the second landing page might share a whitepaper on a topic recently shared by CIO.

This is very raw personalization (if any), but it’s a quick alternative to combating a lack of data.

2. Personalize based on current position in the buyer’s journey

A user you’ve already touched multiple times wants to see very different things than a user landing on your site for the first time.

By combining data from your CRM, you can personalize your experience based on the user’s current position in the funnel.

For example, you might email a user late in the funnel a discount coupon to close the deal. A first-time visitor, on the other hand, can be sent to a personalized page with a beginner’s “how to guide”.

Lynton, an inbound marketing agency, shows this landing page to customers who haven’t been converted to leads yet (i.e. they are in the Awareness stage):

lynton-non-converted-leads

After Lynton has qualified the lead, it shows a custom landing page (for inbound marketers):

lynton-custom-landing-page

If you don’t have CRM data, you can also use keyword data to estimate the user’s position in the buyer’s journey.

For instance, if you’re selling analytics software, a user who searches for “what is analytics?” is likely in the “Awareness” stage. A customer who searches for “analytics software discounts” is probably in the “Decision” stage and can be shown a different page.

HubSpot, for example, has dedicated landing pages for “what is inbound marketing” (an Awareness stage keyword) and “best inbound marketing software” (a Consideration stage keyword).

inbound-marketing-consideration-awareness-stages

3. Personalize based on user’s past behavior

If the user has interacted with your business earlier, you can use that data to personalize her current experience.

For example, a customer named Emily (who has already bought from you in the past) lands on your site. However, instead of her usual USA location, she seems to be browsing from Europe. You can change your site to show prices in Euros, or give her shipping information for Europe (while also greeting her by name).

There are a few things you must consider when personalizing your content based on past customer behavior:

  • Positive behavioral indicators: If you dig through your analytics, you’ll find that certain behavioral indicators signal a high conversion chance. For example, suppose your data shows that customers who view an item > 4 times are highly likely to convert. A personalization campaign that focuses on such customers would be more successful.
  • Exclude repeat customers: Showing personalized campaigns to customers who’ve already bought the same (or similar) products recently is a waste of resources. Dig through your analytics to exclude any such customers from your campaigns.

One easy way to personalize on-page content is to use “Smart Content”. This is content that essentially updates automatically based on available user data.

For example, on the “Play Like a Girl” homepage, new visitors see this message:

welcome-to-play-like-a-girl

Logged-in users, however, see a personalized greeting:

play-like-a-girl-personalization

Here’s another example from Nike showing how even simple data (in this case, the user’s gender) can help create a more personalized experience. Male users see the page on the left, while females see the page on the right:

nike-male-female-website

You can use user-data to personalize everything from landing pages to CTAs and forms. In fact, HubSpot’s data shows that personalized CTAs regularly outperform non-personalized CTAs:

hubspot-personalized-ctas

4. Personalization based on data from other users

This strategy involves using data from other users to personalize a user’s shopping experience.

For example, suppose your data shows that repeat customers prefer downloading whitepaper #5 while new customers read whitepaper #2 multiple times. You can use this information to push new users to the right download in your emails.

To make better use of customer data for serving personalized recommendations, there are a few things you need to know:

  • Ensure segment overlap, if possible: Instead of making blind recommendations based on-page behavior, show recommendations of similar products bought by customers in the same segment. For example, if you know a user belongs to the “millennial movie lover” segment, consider recommendations based on what other customers in this segment also bought, instead of generic recommendations.
  • Limit price variance: A customer looking at a $20 product isn’t very likely to buy a recommended product that costs $200. Setup maxima and minima prices for your recommended products to improve conversions.

The “customers who viewed this also viewed/bought” personalization is the best example of this. Besides what Amazon does, you can also push conversions up by showing the difference between what customers viewed and what they actually bought.

Target does this exceptionally well:

guests-also-viewed-ultimately-bought-target

If you don’t have a lot of customer data, you can also do product-level personalization. For example, ASOS upsells other clothes worn by its models with a section titled ‘Buy the Look’ after you add a product to your cart.

asos-buy-the-look

This technique is effective because the customer can see how the other items already fit together. Plus, it doesn’t require extensive user-data.

Another example that uses very little data is this landing page from Barilliance showing the number of marketers who’ve downloaded an eBook recently:

barilliane-personalization-whitepaper

Conclusion

Personalization is a powerful strategy for increasing conversions, but it is also easy to get overwhelmed by it.

If you haven’t already put this system in place by now, start small by using personalization on your top-converting pages. Split test personalized vs. non-personalized versions of these pages to see whether your users respond to these changes.

Remember that you don’t have to personalize every part of your site, just the bits that matter.

And finally, always keep testing.

About the Author: John Stevens is a seasoned marketer and entrepreneur. Currently, he’s the founder and marketing head at HostingFacts. He also helps businesses select better site building tools at WebsiteBuilder.org.

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6 Ways Marketers Can Optimize Their LinkedIn Profile

optimize-linkedin-profile

With more than 450 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network–and it’s growing every second. In fact, LinkedIn reports that people are signing up for the platform at a rate of two members per second.

For many of us marketers, LinkedIn’s continued growth is no surprise. Not only is LinkedIn the place to showcase your own talents and experience, but it also holds incredible networking and marketing opportunities for promoting our clients and our own brand or agency to the masses. From bolstering professional credibility to building thought leadership to maintaining client and prospect relationships, LinkedIn is an amazing tool.

But are we all using this wonderful tool to its full potential?

It all starts with maximizing and optimizing your profile. Whether you’re reaching out to prospects for your own agency, connecting with industry influencers on behalf of a client or just looking to make some connections, your profile is quite obviously the first thing people will see. And you want it to look gooooood.

Below we dive into some best practices and tips for optimizing your profile so you can use it to build your own professional brand as a marketer and make it a powerful tool to further your marketing objectives.

#1 – Cover the basics.

The very top of your profile page is prime real estate, providing a little snapshot of who you are and what you do. This is where you want to make a good first impression and encourage people to scroll and learn more about you.

LinkedIn - 1

Some best practices and tips for this section include:

  • Upload a professional and high-resolution head shot. Make sure the photo is sized 400 x 400 and it’s in a JPG, GIF or PNG format.
  • Write a catchy headline. Use this space to sell yourself a bit. You can certainly go simple by including your job title and company, but a little creativity and uniqueness can go a long way. But remember you have just 120 characters to work with.
  • Include the industry you work in. Select the industry that best represents the space you’re currently working in.
  • Add experience and education information. Basic information from the Experience and Education sections will be pulled into your top overview, so make sure you have where and what you studied, and current and past job titles and companies at a minimum.

#2 – Get specific.

LinkedIn is not meant to be your online resume, as resumes are often tweaked and tailored to meet the requirements of a specific job. Linkedin is where you can showcase all your past professional and volunteer work history-as well as your interests and a little personality.

Use the Summary, Experience and Education sections, as well as others that you can add onto your profile, to dive deep into your qualifications, experience and accomplishments.

Summary

The Summary section is your elevator pitch. Include relevant information about your current role and company, as well as the experience that got you there and what drives you to do quality work. Consider writing this section in the third-person and include keywords that will help your profile come up in search results.

Again, this is where you make your pitch so don’t be afraid to brag a bit about some of your accomplishments. And if you can, back it up with some examples of your work. Below is a great example from TopRank Marketing’s Ashley Zeckman.

LinkedIn Summary Section

Experience

While you want to be specific and detailed, make sure you’re clear and concise as well. Start out with a brief overview of your role. Then highlight specific responsibilities, accomplishments and the results you’ve gotten in a bulleted list. Below is an example from Kevin Cotch, TopRank Marketing’s awesome SEO Analyst.

LinkedIn Experience Section

Education

Go beyond listing the high school or college you’ve attended to include your areas of study, activities or societies you participated in, and any honors or awards you may have received. Connect it with the institution’s LinkedIn page if you can. This will help you explore profiles of fellow alumni. Here’s a peek at what my own Education section looks like.

LinkedIn Education Section

Adding Other Sections

You can also beef up your profile by adding additional sections such as organization you’re involved with, certifications, volunteer experience and more. Again, the more information and detail you display, the better.

When you’re in edit mode, you’ll find this option directly under the top overview section.

LinkedIn Other Sections

Click on “View More” to see all the options that you haven’t yet utilized on your profile. Here’s what opportunities are available on my own profile.

LinkedIn - 6

#3 – Showcase your top skills.

The Skills & Endorsements section allows you to show off all your areas of expertise. The beauty of this section is that you have the ability to prioritize which skills you want to call attention to in the Top Skills portion of the section.

LinkedIn Top Skills Section

If you’re in edit mode, click on any of the edit icons to get to the editing dashboard. Then click and drag skills into the order you want. Also, make sure to check you’ve opted into serving your skills up as endorsement suggestions for your connections.

LinkedIn Reordering Skills

#4 – Add examples of your work.

Documents, images, presentations, links and videos can all be added to various sections of your profile, allowing tell your story in a visual way and letting people see your work in action. Below is a peek at content featured in TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden‘s Summary section.

LinkedIn Publishing

#5 – Make use of LinkedIn’s publishing platform.

Taking advantage of LinkedIn’s publishing platform has a number of benefits. First of all, all your posts become part of your profile, living in a section directly under the top overview section.

In addition, when you publish something new it’s shared with your connections and followers. The content is also searchable on and off LinkedIn, which is huge.

LinkedIn Pulse Content

When it comes to actually writing your posts, choose a topic that you’re experienced with and stick to it. If you try to include too many elements, you’ll lose readers. You could also use the platform to repurpose existing content. Of course, write a click-worthy headline, use keywords and aim for around 300-600 words or so.

Check out LinkedIn’s advice on writing long-form posts.

#6 – Don’t be shy about endorsements and recommendations.

Endorsement and recommendations from those you’ve worked with give your profile the depth it needs to build credibility with connections. After all, who better to describe what you have to offer than the people who’ve actually worked with?

Reach out to former supervisors, co-workers or clients you’re close with and ask them to endorse some of your skills or write a recommendation. To get more endorsements, reach out using In-Mail or email. For recommendations, scroll to the Recommendations section at the bottom of your profile and click “Ask for Recommendations.” This will allow you to select what job you want to be recommended for and the connection you want to reach out to.

LinkedIn will generate a message for you, but personalizing it will make it much more effective.

LinkedIn - 11

The bottom line is you want your profile to be a reflection of who you are as an individual and a marketing professional. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for people to get to virtually know you, allowing you to build connections and credibility, and push your marketing efforts forward.

Do you have a favorite formula for writing a catchy profile headline? Or any other LinkedIn profile tips? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


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The post 6 Ways Marketers Can Optimize Their LinkedIn Profile appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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The Interactive Graphic Roundup: When Roundups & Infographics Had A Baby

Roundup posts are so 2012. I hate to say it, but they really are. True, we still see them, and they actually still work in some niches, but by-and-large people are getting exhausted with them. Readers are becoming tired of […]

Post from: Search Engine People SEO Blog

The Interactive Graphic Roundup: When Roundups & Infographics Had A Baby

Written by Jeremy Page,

The post The Interactive Graphic Roundup: When Roundups & Infographics Had A Baby appeared first on Search Engine People Blog.

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The Best Conversion Rate optimizers do NOT make changes to webpages…

Editor’s Note: For anyone new to this blog, Adam Lapp has been MarketingExperiments’ head of optimization for around three years. He’s been optimizing web paths for much longer, though – somewhere in the ballpark of 10 years. I’ve personally worked with Adam for five years now, and he has, hands down, the most brilliant optimization mind I’ve ever seen.

So naturally, I was thrilled when he sent me a draft of this post for the blog. It’s been a while since Adam took some time out of his busy schedule to write for our blog, but his posts are full of real-world optimization wisdom that many of our readers have found invaluable in the past.

The casual tone of this post may be a little different from what you might be used to on this blog. That’s because I’ve left Adam’s personal writing style, for the most part, intact. This post is written by a true expert and I wanted it to be as directly from the source as possible.

I hope you enjoy. Here’s Adam…

Best,

Paul Cheney

Managing Editor

 

Best Conversion Rate optimizers_Adam

 

I remember I once I designed and ran four tests in a row – two product page tests and two homepage tests – for a Fortune 500 industrial supply company, and lost every time. The designs were solid – better navigation, easier to find buttons, improved copy and value proposition – but they all lost.

When I look back at it, these four tests lost because I was trying to optimize webpages.

So, what the heck am I talking about?

Well fortunately and unfortunately, the probability of a prospect converting begins increasing or decreasing long before they get your website.

At the beginning of the customer journey, when they are in the act of shopping, they likely have several tabs open, have a blurry vision in their head of what they want (that may or may not match what’s on your page), and could be anywhere from “super-urgent-peeing-their-pants” to fulfill their needs or just half-heartedly window shopping. At any time, these prospects potentially get a metaphorical puddle splashed on them by a metaphorical car driving down the metaphorical promenade.

The fact is, the problem you are trying to solve does not exist in on the page, it exists in the mind of the customer.

If you are focusing on the page, then you’ve already lost. You have to understand where prospects are in the process, what their values and pains are, and what mental conclusions they need to make prior to saying “yes” and buying.

You have to harness your customers’ motivation before you start changing page elements and writing new copy and putting that new design up on Adobe Target or Optimizely.

So how do you do this? Well let’s say you are staring at your ecommerce product page right now (well not now because you are reading this post) wondering why none of your recent changes have made an impact…

Step #1: Ask some questions to get inside the mind of the customer:

  • Who am I optimizing for? Well, most people that come to my professional photography equipment site are small business owners who are concerned about price. I can’t compete with Amazon on that, so why would they buy from me? Well, one reason is that my staff knows everything about every camera and I doubt one out of 10,000 customer service reps at Amazon do. I’ll emphasize that on my product page.
  • Where are they in the thought sequence? Well, everyone who lands on my iPhone 6 smartphone page probably knows most of the details already because they’ve been researching for months or have had an iPhone before. So I probably don’t need to use valuable space for phone details but rather why they should buy the phone from my company. Or better yet, maybe I shouldn’t have much content at all and just get out of their way.
  • What conclusions do they need to make? So when a customer lands on my in-person corporate training page, they need to first conclude the product matches their need, then trust that my company can deliver the product, then conclude they want me to provide it to them, then know what the cost is, then conclude the value is worth the price, then feel comfortable filling out a form, then fill out the form. Okay, does my page currently help them make all these conclusions and in this order?  No, okay, I need to make some changes.

Ultimately, you cannot optimize a webpage … only how your customer experiences a webpage.  That’s why I said the act of converting on your site begins with birth. From age zero until now, your prospect has developed a unique way of looking at the world, and thus your webpage and copy.  There’s a sequence of thoughts that has brought them to this page, and a sequence of thoughts occurring as they experience the page, that if you ignore, you will achieve minimal impact on conversion.

Step #2: Determine the where your customer is in the thought sequence

Where have they been and what is the next step in their thought sequence?

There are a few key things you can do to determine this:

  • Find someone in that customer type. Let’s say you are marketing a website that provides articles, policies, and templates for IT professionals, you would be a fool not to get out of your marketer’s blind spot and your cube, and go over to the IT department at your own company. HINT, it’s usually the office or building with the lights out. Show them what you are working on, ask them questions, and figure out what would make them buy.
  • Role play with a group. Let’s say most of your team leans toward the left.  But your target audience leans toward the right. Would you send a donkey to sell to an elephant? No. So for an hour, become elephants. Feel their pain, where they are coming from, their values. Have people who participate do some up front preparation to get into character. Have fun with it. But more importantly, come out of that meeting with a new perspective on your target audience.

Step #3: Create a business-sensitive test plan

I’ll cover this in depth in part II of this blog post. Stay tuned next week and I’ll even provide a helpful infographic you can use as a cheat sheet for planning your tests.

 

You might also like…

Website Optimization Webinar: See research conducted with over 900 consumers applied live to real-world digital marketing campaigns

Landing Page Optimization: 6 common traits of a template that works

A/B Testing: Example of a good hypothesis

Quick Lifts: 4 ideas to increase email clickthrough

 

 

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Starting from Zero? A Customer Acquisition Playbook for New Websites

Every new ideas begins with a new domain name.

And with every new domain name, comes hundreds of problems.

Hosting, at this point, is the least of your worries.

Go ahead with some crappy shared one like Bluehost.

Because chances are you’re not going to get enough visits to even matter.

Here’s why, and how to fix it.

Why ‘Search’ Can’t Help You

Search engines haven’t really changed all that much over the past few years.

Sure, they use machine learning now. There was a Panda, a Penguin, and a Hummingbird.

Things have evolved. Been refined.

But they haven’t changed.

The principles are still the same.

They still use ‘spiders’ or bots, crawling and gathering data on millions of websites. Those pages are indexed; grouped into similar topics based on relevancy.

Higher rankings (i.e. greater visibility) still comes largely from the citations of others, increasing your popularity, authority, and overall trustworthiness of a site (including even qualitative factors).

The trouble, is that search engines have been designed – from the beginning – to reward websites that have been around the block (incorporating things like the domain age as a ranking factor).

Throw in the growing preference towards established brands and you got a problem.

New websites are anything but popular, authoritative, or trustworthy. In fact, you typically have to work twice as hard, because no one knows who you are (and they certainly don’t trust you – ready to hand over their credit card).

So while it’s tempting to wait around for the Google God’s to smile upon you, sending thousands of ‘free’ visits overnight, it ain’t likely.

But wait, because it’s about to get worse!

Advertising Probably Ain’t Gonna Happen, Either

One of the greatest misconceptions small or new ventures have that advertising is either (a) ineffective or (b) too expensive.

When done correctly, it’s neither.

Groupon successfully used it to fuel massive growth, acquiring 33 million subscribers in a single quarter. Bootstrapped AppSumo used it too.

But despite all this…

There’s an opportunity cost.

You need bodies. Equipment. Leases. Available money typically gets absorbed by the mind-numbing quantity of stuff needed to get a new venture off the ground.

Unless you’re Color (wow, how’s that for a dated reference?!), there’s probably not enough cash in the bank to throw around for advertising initially.

Hate to break it to you, but this now effectively rules out the two best methods for acquiring new customers.

That doesn’t leave us with very many other options.

So of those restricted possibilities, here are some of your best bets for a customer acquisition playbook for new sites.

Then Where Are Your Early Visits Going to Come From?

If you’ve looked at any analytics program in the past, you’ll notice that we’ve ruled out Search and Advertising. Only a few sources left.

Direct, or people typing in your URL, also isn’t likely initially because no one knows who you are.

So strike that one off your list too while you’re at it.

That leaves us with Referrals, Social and Email.

Awesome. Now we’re getting somewhere.

The DNS is pointed, WordPress blog up-and-running, and you’re ready to rattle off ~500 words about your latest and greatest.

Don’t.

Because nobody cares. That’s harsh. Unfortunately, also true.

Sure, you should get a landing page up. Create a blog. Prep. Cause you’re gonna need someplace to send people.

But then turn your attention outside. Because the biggest opportunities for early visits are going to come from proactively reaching out to other people.

Other communities, media properties, group’s, companies, bloggers, journalists.

In short, influencer marketing.

And while that phrase makes me cringe, using it in a blog post is guaranteed to shoot you to the top of Inbound.org (so alas, my hands are tied).

I’m also not referencing the half assed, trite, “Nice blog post!”-style of influencer marketing. Nor the incestuous, growth hackers talking about growth hacking to growth hackers, that’s also common these days.

But the good kind. That resembles old school marketing at it’s finest.

Specifically, here are five sources to tap today.

Source #1. Channel Partners

Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Sales and Marketing uses a visceral story to explain this first source: “Racking the Shotgun”.

The idea, which I’m no doubt about to butcher, is to go after the people most likely to respond.

Understanding distribution helps. In other words, where do people already go to buy stuff like yours?

Health conscious people buy organic food direct or at specialty food stores.

That’s why Liquid Aminos perform best on Amazon or Whole Foods, but probably not your neighborhood grocery market or (God forbid) Walmart.

If you want to find the people most likely to purchase your widget, go first to the places people are most likely to purchase something similar.

People learning how to code, are most likely going to freelance and send an invoice at a certain point in their life. Freshbooks working out a deal with Treehouse is a perfect example.

treehouse-student-perks

These can be official partnerships or revenue sharing agreements that can be tracked using specific codes or conversion points (like specific forms or landing pages).

Even simple, basic, old school cross promotions would work, such as running a joint-contest or sending email promotions to each other’s audience.

Source #2. Offline Events

Real people don’t read.

Normal people (i.e. your customers) don’t spend all day on Hacker News or Inbound.org.

So where do they get their news? Where do they find solutions to the big problems (like the ones you solve)?

Outside. IRL. At events.

Step 1. Go to them. (Shocking.)

Step 2. Volunteer/speak/help them.

Working events puts you in the middle of the action, and the people who matter, who can refer you and connect you with the best attendees. And volunteering effort, time or expertise is almost welcomed.

For example, there’s meetups happening all around you every single day.

sf-bayarea-machine-learning-meetup

Hakka Labs attends, records, and distributes the audio records of engineer related events making them a valuable asset to the community (and getting props in return).

hakka-video-of-talk

Source #3. PR Outreach

Everyone’s favorite PR advice is to just jump on HARO and… wait?

The problem with that approach, is that passiveness is a cancer in new ventures.

Instead, do some research to build your own media list. (After all, that’s what you’re paying for with most PR companies anyway.)

It’s easy. Here, I’ll show you.

Search Engine Journal was literally the first industry blog that popped in my head. I opened up a recent blog post and found the author.

Hi, Danny!:)

facebook-wants-to-kill-clickbait

The easiest way to ‘break the ice’ would be through social somewhere, where people are much more likely to actually respond (as opposed to cold email which makes you look like every other spammer imaginable).

For example, you could try LinkedIn to see if you have any connections who could recommend you. Now for some good old fashioned internet stalking… (c’mon – don’t act like you have no idea what your ex is up to now).

linkedin-common-connection

See. Literally the first try.

You can also save prospects in the LinkedIn Sales Navigator to get each and every single one of their updates in a specially tailored inbox that allows you to begin engaging with them on the daily until they recognize you.

I’d show you a picture, but I think I’ve already creeped Danny out enough for one day.

Source #4. Referrals from Your Early Visits (or Customers)

Some of the most successful companies on the face of the planet have used distribution hacks like referrals to skyrocket user growth (and revenue).

Dropbox, for example, went from 100,000 paying customers to over 4 million. In one year.

One of the Lean Startup’s “engines of growth” focused on sticky businesses, where you prevent people from churning and inspire true word-of-mouth so that growth “comes from the action of past customers”.

ReferralCandy is an excellent example, removing the technical requirements (and excuses) to implementing simple referral campaigns. They even integrate with Shopify!

referral-candy-referral-programsImage Source

The primary value proposition on Lob‘s website says, “Programmatically send physical mail at scale”. Um, yes please?! (Someone’s been reading their Copy Hackers.)

That means you can automatically kick off stuff to go out in the mail to new customers without doing, well much of anything after setting it up.

Giving your customers a reason to spread your Gospel doesn’t take a ton of effort. Just show you care and appreciate them.

Source #5. Become a Sought-After Expert

‘Thought leadership’ sounds like one of those business school myths perpetuated by narcissists.

But in reality, it makes everything easier.

Being your own brand gives channel partners a reason to work with you. It makes speaking at offline events (or working with online ones like Kissmetrics webinars) simple because they’re in constant need for industry practitioners who can share their expertise.

measure-influencer-roi-webinar

It gives you a ‘Halo Effect‘ when reaching out to the media or speaking with your own customers.

Best of all, becoming a thought leader also gives you an audience who’s willing to cite, recommend or share your expertise.

Which raises your online popularity, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Which, if you remember, is the catalyst to finally getting scalable traffic from Organic Search.

Conclusion

The quicker you realize that new website visits aren’t coming from passive sources like Search or Advertising, and only from proactive ones like Referrals, the better.

It’s a tough pill to swallow at first, but it gives you a critical posture change that’s required to succeed in getting a new site off the ground.

Your initial prognosis is only as good as the people who can potentially refer you.

So as soon as possible, start focusing the bulk of your attention on helping others – whether as a resource, speaker, volunteer, rev-share partner, or whatever – the better your odds of success.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad’s blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

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