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22 Nov 16:57

16 surprising negotiating tricks to help boost your salary

by Áine Cain

men talking negotiating conversation listen

Negotiating skills aren't applicable to every situation, but they're definitely good skill to have in your arsenal.

That's because no matter what your field, your ability to negotiate can often impact you salary quite a lot.

With that in mind, here are 16 unexpected hacks that'll help you boost your salary at your next wage negotiation:

1. Always use precise numbers in offers and counter-offers

Throwing out your target salary as $103,500 seems a little bit silly — doesn't $100,000 tell pretty much the same story? — but research from Columbia Business School suggests that using precise numbers makes a more powerful anchor in negotiations.

According to Malia Mason, the author of the study, kicking off a negotiation with exact-sounding numbers leads the other party to think that you've done research to arrive at those particular digits — and that, in turn, makes them think you're likely correct.

But ...

2. ... it's better to suggest a salary range rather than a single number

Using precise numbers doesn't mean using single precise numbers. In a separate study, Mason and her Columbia Business School colleague Daniel Ames found that presenting a salary range — including and above your desired target — is the best way to get results.

In the past, organizational psychologists thought a range would work against you — wouldn't people just fixate on the lower number? — but Ames and Mason found that's not the case.

Presenting a range works for two reasons, they say: It gives your boss information about what you're actually asking for, and it makes you seem polite and reasonable — which means you're less likely to get hit with a hard-line counteroffer.

3. Open with something personal, and your negotiating partner will respond in kind

In an experiment where Kellogg and Stanford students negotiated by email, those who shared unrelated personal details over the course of the negotiation — hobbies, hometowns, etc. — ended up getting significantly better results than those who kept things to name, email, and the dry monetary details.

Opening up a bit sends a signal that you're trustworthy, according to Wharton professor Adam Grant in a LinkedIn post, and makes it more likely that they'll reciprocate.

4. Think of the negotiation as a competition

In most salary negotiations, you're going after something that the other party doesn't particularly want to give you. That makes it a competition, and viewing it such leads to better results, according to research from George Mason Professor Michelle Marks and Temple Professor Crystal Harold.

The team looked at five different negotiation strategies: accommodating, avoiding, collaborating, competing, and compromising. And — spoiler alert — compromising was not the best strategy.

Instead, Marks and Harold found that people who use competitive or collaborative strategies — employing "open discussion of issues and perspectives" — ended up with higher salaries than those who were "accommodating" or "compromising."

5. Don't go face to face until you have to

Generally, if you're the one asking for a higher salary, you are not the one in the position of power — the person who is hiring you or determining your raise is in control. They have to agree to the number in the end, and they usually have more power over your career and work environment at the organization.

In face-to-face negotiations, a study out of Imperial College London research finds that the more powerful person will usually win out. People think differently when they're apart, and power hierarchies matter less from a distance. If you're negotiating with your boss, you have a better chance when negotiations are conducted by email.

6. If you're meeting in person, make steady eye contact

Not every negotiator resorts to deception. But it's often in their interest to hide how excited they about a candidate — and how willing they might actually be to bump up their offer.

According to a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the most effective ways to keep people honest is to make steady eye contact.

7. Put any concerns you have on the table all at once

When getting an offer, many people want to seem happy, and avoid looking too needy or disappointed. They might bring up a concern or two, but gloss over other issues that — inevitably — end up coming up later.

That drives hiring managers crazy, according to Harvard professor Deepak Malhotra. The best strategy is to reveal all of your concerns at once, and note which ones are most important, so you can work through them together.

8. Make the first offer

Conventional wisdom is that you should wait for the other party to make the initial offer in order to get more information to act on. The problem with that thinking, though, says Wharton professor Adam Grant in a LinkedIn post, is that it's wrong.

In reality, it's much better to make the first offer because you get to set the "anchor," the figure that affects the trajectory of the negotiation. People who make very high first offers end up with a much better result.

The first offer pulls the other person in its direction, and it's difficult to adjust the other way.

9. Get them to talk about themselves

While you clearly want to make an assertive case for your position, it might be wiser to open negotiations with a little chit-chat — especially if you can get your negotiating partner to talk about themselves.

According to Harvard neuroscientist Diana Tamir, the author of a recent study on the neurological effects of talking about yourself, it can trigger the same sensations of pleasure as food or money.

10. Rank your priorities, and share them

"In a job offer negotiation, for example, you might say that salary is most important to you, followed by location, and then vacation time and signing bonus," Wharton Professor Adam Grant writes in a LinkedIn post. "Research shows that rank-ordering is a powerful way to help your counterparts understand your interests without giving away too much information."

Then follow up by asking them for their priorities, and look for mutually beneficial trade offs on the most important issues.

11. Be a little unpredictable

The default for negotiations is a relatively level and less emotional approach, an attempt to be as rational as possible. But injecting some passion and unpredictability can create an advantage.

A study from Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky found that emotional inconsistency from negotiators leads to greater concessions from the other party because they feel less in control of the situation.

Expressing anger, alternating between anger and happiness, and alternating between anger and disappointment all yielded bigger concessions.

12. Consider tears (but tread carefully!)

Going into a high-pressure negotiating situation, it makes sense to try to stay on an even keel: you're controlled, you're balanced, you're in charge of your emotions.

But a study from ESSEC, the University of Michigan, the University of Paris, and EMLYON, found that in certain situations, expressing sadness — and even tears — can apparently make you more likely to get what you want from the negotiation.

If your negotiating partner sees you as "low power," if they anticipate continued interactions with you, and if they see your relationship as collaborative, then it's possible that what Science Alert calls a "warranted display of pathos" could — maybe — get you what you your raise.

But even if it's true, it's very very very risky (do you really want to be seen as low power forever?). In the long run, it seems likely you'd be better off with a power pose, a well-chosen salary range, and a competitive spirit.

13. Try to open up a bit

In any negotiation, you might think it's better to hold in all your information until the last minute. Staying aloof gives you the edge against your opponent, right?

Wrong.

According to Kristi Hedges, writing for Forbes, that's just not the case, arguing that "revealing some information, even when it's unrelated to the negotiation, increases the outcome":

"You don't have to put all of your cards on the table at the outset. Simply putting something of yourself out there — your hobbies, personal concerns, or hopes — can set a positive tone that's conducive to gaining agreement," Hedges writes.

14. Keep your hands down

Writing for Fast Company, Sally Hall explains that it's important to avoid conveying weakness by shielding your face, mouth, or eyes with your hands

"Appear confident and truthful by keeping your hands away from your face, un-clenched, and open as much as you can," Hall writes.

15. If you can't make the first offer, don't get stuck

Your best bet is usually to make the first offer. When you're going up against an experienced party, that's not always going to be possible.

In an article for Forbes, Hedges writes that's important to avoid getting "anchored" down by the first offer. Citing advice from Wharton professor and author of "Give and Take" Adam Grant and Northwestern professor Adam Galinsky, she notes that your counter offer shouldn't be too altered by the other person's offer.

In fact, if your numbers are exceptionally disparate, that will tell them that their offer was far too low.

16. Realize that negotiating is not a natural behavior

In "I Will Teach You to Be Rich," Ramit Sethi writes that negotiating will "feel really odd and uncomfortable the first couple of times you do it." He recommends practicing with friends who will give you feedback before you try it out with your boss.

Rachel Sugar and Max Nisen contributed to earlier versions of this article.

SEE ALSO: 15 people who prove you don't have to wake up early to be successful

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Skinnygirl founder Bethenny Frankel shares her best advice for negotiating

22 Nov 16:48

Outbound vs Spam – The Ultimate Battle

by Susan Ostojska

We hate receiving spam. Our mailboxes are always full of unread emails which pile up and we feel that we lose control over them.
But we love receiving messages which bring us value. What is the key to success? How to become a salesman who sends useful emails instead of boring and inappropriate ones?

The key issue in outbound is putting pressure on quality, not quantity. It is not about sending thousands of emails to random people but rather preparing a personalised communication to the proper prospects. If you find people who probably need your solution and you send them messages bringing value, it will not be considered as spam. However, how to define such prospects? How to maintain high standards in communication? And what to do if it’s too late and you’ve already got blacklisted?

Targeting the right people

It’s really important to know who you want to contact and why. If you reach out to the right people, there is a higher possibility they will be interested in your product. When you just send out emails to random prospects, they will consider your messages as irrelevant and mark them as spam.

Find your market-fit

Before starting outbound, you should define your ideal customer profile – determine in which industry the potentially best companies for you operate, how many employees they have and where they are located. It’s also important to know which decision-makers are usually interested in your product – don’t contact technology directors if your product will be used by salespeople. If you are not sure who your perfect customers might be, analyse your current clients, check what they have in common and why they use your product. This is an easy way to find a market fit.

After a campaign, analyse both your positive and negative replies. Check who was interested in your product and determine the factors which make them similar. What’s more, negative feedback can be even more precious – note the reasons for non-interest in your product and validate your ideal customer profile. The more precise you are with prospect selection, the higher chances are that your message will be well-received.

Bringing real value

spam2-min

Know your prospects

When you find people who may be interested in your offer, use your knowledge about them and adjust messages to their needs. You should know what problems they encounter every day, so try to show how your company can help. Take into account that C-level and managers meet various obstacles and have different expectations – don’t be “that” salesman and adjust your communication to the prospects’ job position or type of business. Don’t try to sell the product via email – its main goal should be getting in touch and making the prospects interested. Show what problems you can solve and let the proper time for sale come later. Write your message as if it was from one friend to another, without pushing. Then read it again and ask yourself whether you would like to receive such an email. It’s also great when you are able to show that you share similar interests with your prospects. Thanks to this, you can get people curious. If they see the message is relevant, they will not mark you as spam.

Good practice:

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-2-50-44-pm

Bad practice:

bad practice message

To learn how to write a killer email campaign, read this blog post.

Timing

You cannot do outbound without follow-ups, but remember to respect the prospects you are contacting and not to send messages too often. Don’t send emails every two days at the same time. The first follow-up can be delivered after three days, but leave longer pauses for the rest. No one enjoys being overwhelmed with the emails they don’t want or don’t have time to reply.

Make the communication user-friendly

It’s also important to write your messages in a casual style. Avoid inserting too many links, especially the shortened ones such as bit.ly, and attaching files or pictures. The more sophisticated your formatting is, the higher the chances that spam filters will catch your messages. Be aware that some specific words and expressions can automatically mark you as a spammer: “offer” and “free” will not escape the spam filters’ notice. You can read more about them on the Hubspot blog.

Always give an opt-out option. It’s worth to gently underline that the prospects can unsubscribe from getting more messages. If they reply in a negative way, just remit it or kindly thank for the message and ask to let you know in case they change their mind. Take care with invalid email addresses, and try to keep your bounce rate as low as possible.

Don’t blame the blacklists

We all should love spam filters, really! Thanks to them we do not get spam into our mailboxes and we save our precious time. What’s more, they just encourage us to send high-quality communication. If we prepare our communication according to the best practices, we don’t need to worry about them.

Sending multiple campaigns

Outbound is a great way to grab a lot of warm leads while spending a little time on it. However, it doesn’t mean you should do it without a strategy – each email operator has daily limits (e.g. 200–300 emails in Gmail). We recommend you create more email channels such as firstname@domain.com or firstname.lastname@domain.com and send about 100–130 messages daily from each one. Even if you send messages from different email addresses, try to have a pause of about 1.5 hours between batches. Schedule the first campaign for 9 a.m, the next for 10.30 a.m, then noon, etc. – spam filters not only check how many messages you send from one channel but also consider the domain.

If you do outbound, juggling different messages is a must have. Try not to send the same email campaign twice in a row from one domain. If one of your templates is extremely successful and you want to use it the most, prepare at least two versions of it for each email channel and change it regularly – we recommend every two weeks. Keep the same framework and simply rewrite some of the sentences using synonyms. This way you keep high standards and great quality of your communication.

A good practice is to use custom fields (parameters changing according to the contacts’ details) in the subject line (e.g. {{ first_name }}). Thanks to this, almost every message will be sent with a different subject and will not look like an automated email.

Take care of your domain

It is very important to take care of your domain and not spoil its reputation. When you do outbound, a good idea is to have more domains (e.g. company.com and company.co), as they are two separate entities. You can, for instance, send two batches of emails at the same time. Also, with the less important domain, you could try more risky tests – different target groups and campaigns.

When you create a new domain, you need to use it for a while to allow its reputation to build. Send emails to your friends, coworkers and existing customers, and wait for their replies. When you’ve created natural traffic, you will be ready to start doing outbound.

spam3-min

Keep your finger on the pulse

Even if you do your best to avoid being marked as spam, you need to constantly monitor your domain’s and IP’s reputation. The easiest way is to keep an eye on your open rates. If you notice a sudden drop in this metric, it’s time for more advanced analysis of your mailbox. To check whether you have been caught by Gmail spam filters, send a message to any Gmail address you haven’t been in touch with yet.

There are also a lot of websites and tools that can check your email server reputation score. If you use Gmail, we recommend mail-tester.com, which offers a deep analysis of both your message and your mailbox. You can check how the content you send is assessed by spam filters and whether your server, IP address or domain are authenticated. The test also checks if you appear on any of the 22 most common blacklists. Do not panic if you notice your score is not 10/10 – over 7/10 is a really good result. Always analyze where you lost your points and try to improve your weaknesses.

When it’s too late . . .

Getting off blacklists

It may happen that your IP address or email gets blacklisted. It’s not the end of the world, but you should do your best to get it removed. Each blacklist has its own procedures for getting de-listed. The most popular ones are self-service and time-based removal methods. When you know the name of the blacklist you are on, you should find information about how to proceed – maybe it will be enough to wait one or two weeks. When you appear on a blacklist for the first time, getting removed is not very complicated. However, after such an incident, you need to be much more careful. Being listed for the second time will cause a lot of trouble and the removal process will be much more complex.

It’s worth keeping in mind that there are not only blacklists but whitelists, too. Appearing on such a list shows that the IP address/domain is trustworthy and allows all messages to be delivered.

The key to success in outbound is to base your strategy on sending the high-quality communication which is adjusted to your recipients and brings them value. Being aware of your potential customers’ needs let you adjust the messages you send and offer them helpful solutions. Have you been marked us spam? You are doing it wrong. But you still have one chance. Work on your domain’s and IP address’ reputation, and take care of maintaining high standards in the future. With high response rate, you will never be considered as spam.

TL;DR? A few most important lessons about spam:

  • Send messages to the people who meet criteria of your ideal customer profile
  • Analyse both positive and negative feedback from your prospects
  • Make messages relevant to the people needs
  • Keep longer pauses between follow-ups
  • Avoid sophisticated formatting, links, pictures and attachments
  • Give an opt-out option
  • Send about 100-130 messages from one email address daily
  • Keep at least 1.5 hours pauses between sending batches from one domain
  • Juggle different templates, don’t send the same one two times in a row
  • Do tests assessing your server reputation
  • If you get blacklisted, take proper actions to be removed

And how do you care about the quality of your communication?

22 Nov 16:48

What the 2016 Election Teaches Us About Values-Based Content Marketing

by Patti Podnar

values-based content

Did you ever read something that made you look around to see if there were hidden microphones or cameras nearby? Something that so perfectly encapsulated who you are and what goes on inside your heart and your head that you felt like it was written just for you? Something so insightful that you’re convinced you and the author are BFFs who simply haven’t met yet? If so, that was most likely content that resonated with your core values. That’s some powerful content indeed…and marketers know it.

But if there’s one thing this election taught us, it’s that values can vary dramatically from person to person. And that people are often shocked and disoriented when they discover that the values they hold most dear just don’t resonate with somebody else. Or, if they do resonate, that they hold a very different spot on their list of priorities.

What are core values, anyway?

The psychological definition of a value is, “the goals and beliefs that guide our actions and behavior. Values motivate how each of us thinks, feels, reacts, and communicates….values tend to stay constant over time, even through major life changes. Values are the non-negotiables.”

But, while we choose to align ourselves with certain values, we don’t consciously choose core values. They’re part of us….so innate that we don’t think about them. But they affect everything from what we buy and where we work, to whom we marry and how we vote. Our core values are the lens through which we view everything else.

It’s a lot like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — other values get your attention only after your core values have been satisfied. That’s what we saw with the 2016 election: It really wasn’t a matter of opposing values; it was a matter of shared values being prioritized differently. What were chosen values for some were core values for others, and that made a big difference at the voting booth.

What’s that got to do with content marketing?

Because content that talks to people’s values works.

Values-based marketing has been around for a while, but the explosion of content marketing has given us exponentially more opportunities to practice it — from blog posts to LinkedIn updates to Tweets. All of that content can be designed to tweak certain core values. Not only does that strengthen your connection with your customers, it helps you spread the word, because people share, like, and comment on things that tell people who they are…things that reaffirm and validate their identity. It’s really the whole point of social media.

Need some proof? In a study conducted by Zenzi and reported in Psychology Today, customers who made purchases that reinforced their core values were more likely to:

  • Share information about the purpose
  • Write an online review of the product or service
  • Invest more time researching the purpose and involve more people in that research

So a values-based marketing campaign extends far beyond the original customer to include their friends, family, etc. In fact, values-based marketing campaigns garner 6% more social shares than traditional marketing campaigns.

But…

You knew there was a “but,” right?

As powerful as values-based content is, content that does a great job of tapping into a certain value isn’t going to do you any good if that’s not a value that’s important to your target customer. In fact, it can create a disconnect that’s the complete opposite of what you were trying to achieve.

Here’s an example of the kind of disconnect I’m talking about:

Once upon a time I was attending a conference in Chicago with a bunch of folks from my company. At dinner one night, I ordered barbecued fish. I’ve always been somewhat of a foodie, and barbecued fish sounded new and exciting. Except that, when my fish arrived, there was no barbecue sauce. It was grilled fish.

I still remember how disorienting it was to realize that there was a whole ‘nother definition of “barbecue” that was completely different from the one I grew up with and accepted as universal truth…kind of like finding out that people outside of the South breathe helium instead of oxygen. It was a very small thing, but it still forced a readjustment of my worldview. Content that targets the wrong values can be even more disruptive.

So how do you do values-based marketing without messing it up? In all honesty, there’s no fail-proof way to do it. But values-based marketing is effective, so it’s worth considering. Here are some things you can do to help mitigate the risk:

How to Develop Values-Based Content

Use credible data (with caution)

There’s lots of information out there about what and how different groups of people think. I believe that it’s a mistake to take it too literally and conclude that everyone in the group fits the mold. However, data gleaned from properly conducted research can provide useful insights…as long as you keep the words “In general…” in the back of your mind. Preferably in big, flashing lights.

This chart, for example, lists traits of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. As an overview, it’s probably pretty good information. But then you have people like me. I’m technically Gen X. But I don’t fit the model because I was a “tagalong” baby. I was raised by “Greatest Generation” parents who were the same age as some of my friends’ grandparents. They were kids during the Great Depression and came of age during World War II. Their core values — which they passed on to me — included hard work, self-reliance, accountability, personal responsibility, honesty, etc. And those core values are now so ingrained in me that I can’t separate them from who I am.

It’s exceptions like this that skew everything and underscore why you have to take your data with a grain of salt.

Typically, however, the more thinly sliced the research is, the more accurate it is. Spend 5 minutes on LinkedIn, for example, and you’ll likely see a number of posts on Millennials: What they’re like, how to market to them, how they’re impacting the workforce, etc.

As a group, Millennials value:

  • Belonging
  • Recognition
  • Need for ease (path of least resistance)
  • The “sharing” economy, with less emphasis on ownership

You’ll notice that my core values of self-reliance, hard work, and responsibility didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean that Millennials don’t value those things, just that they’re not a priority. And if you don’t understand that and work it into your strategy, your content will completely miss the mark.

Bottom line: No generalization applies to every member of a group. But credible research can provide valuable insights to fuel a discussion with your team.

Get real

Or, in other words, listen. Not just to the people in your life whose worldviews differ from your own. Listen on social media. Follow trending topics on Twitter, and pay attention to what Millennials (or any other target group) are saying about them. Read posts on forums like LinkedIn and Medium. And don’t just read the posts; pay close attention to the comments, too. (Trust me…talk about eye-opening!) Take note of the things that the people in your target market accept as unquestioned truth. Pay attention to which values they prioritize over others. Ask lots of questions, and really listen to the answers.

Ping off of those insights — but do it subtly.

The thing about core values is that you don’t have to explicitly point them out. You don’t have to say, “Hey, I’m showing you people who work hard because I know you value hard work.” It’s implicit. Your reflection of those core values resonates with people on a level that’s so deep that they don’t even realize it’s happening.

Be ready to change course.

Despite your best efforts, sometimes you’re going to get it wrong. Most of the time, your customers will forgive you if you fix it. They just want to know that you’re listening.

Values are powerful, but they’re not one-size-fits-all. “Good” people can have strikingly different core values, and understanding that is critical to getting values-based content right.

22 Nov 16:38

On-Page Linking for Stronger Quality Scores & Deeper Engagement

by Randy Milanovic

Content may be king, but publishing content without structuring it is simply wasted effort. By strategically incorporating links, marketers can encourage click throughs, improve page quality scores and keep visitors engaged.

website-user-experience.jpg

While links may be placed almost anywhere within a web page, being strategic about their placement can make a big difference. Main navigation aside, these 4 locations provide a wonderful opportunity to make your web pages work smarter for you:

  1. a link within a paragraph
  2. a link in contextual side navigation
  3. a link on a visual CTA or advertisement
  4. a link on a button

Let’s take a closer look at the link options

1. A link within a paragraph

Compare the following:


A:Click here to learn 4 strategies for link placement within a paragraph to improve reader engagement.”


B: “Click here to learn 4 strategies for link placement within a paragraph to improve reader engagement.”

While it’s certainly an obvious prompt to action, the linked phrase “Click here” in A encloses inert anchor text with no real relevance to the link’s destination. Plus, “Click here” feels a lot like “Buy Now”, which for an inquisitive reader is much too early in their discovery process.

In contrast, the phrase “4 strategies for link placement” encloses a powerful statement and describes the link destination.

link-in-text-example.png

By linking in this manner, marketers are able to create a visual clue that not only emphasizes a point, and sets search-friendly anchor text, but also provides an obvious prompt for the reader that they’ll find more information on the topic by clicking.

It also makes things perfectly clear to search engines what the topic / content on the linked page is, enhancing the link value (“juice”) it passes to that linked page.


Key Takeaways: Prompts placed naturally within text content keep visitors on-site, discovering additional material. Relevant anchor text influences search engines positively.

Deeper discovery helps build trust in you as the information provider (and over time, as a thought leader). Multiple page views in a session send a positive signal to search engines and provide clues to visitor intent.

Additionally, Google is assumed to consider text around a link when evaluating relevance. Many SEOs believe this to include as much as 200 words.

2. A link in contextual side navigation

Pretty well every website you visit will have a main navigation bar at the top of the page. You know, the type of navigation where you need to go back up to the top of the page to click a tab or link to go to another page. That’s not a great user experience.

contextul-menu-example.png

On well-optimized lead capture websites like the ones we create at Kayak, you’ll find a minimal main navigation, along with inside-page side menus displaying a collection of topically related links.

For example, a page talking about furniture refurbishing may include a short list of related accessories, such as paints, paint brushes, or even tutorials, linked in the side-bar.

When you present links to related information, you create a cluster of related information, which is in tune with how people think, and the way search engines look to connect information.

3. A link on a graphical call-to-action (CTA)

Graphical CTAs provide an opportunity to communicate that there’s something substantially ‘More’ on a linked page, such as a white-paper, ebook or other download, or a subscription opportunity.

Visitors clicking a CTA are typically deep within the Consideration stage of their buyer journey seeking deeper or detailed information on the topic.

CTA-example.png

Generally speaking, visitors clicking to an offer are more likely to provide contact info (email, name, etc), as you’ve earned their trust through a good user experience and great information.

4. A link on a button

We all know what happens when we flip a light switch. It turns on or off. You’ve seen a lot of “Buy Now”, “Request a Quote”, “Free Trial”, and “Contact Us” type buttons on many websites – to know what they do.

button-example.png

Visitors clicking these types of links are ready to make contact, placing them in the Action stage of their buyer journey.

Bonus Tip: Don’t use “Submit” on any form, call-to-action or other website button.

Intent-based On-Page Linking

Consider for a moment that a hyperlink and a graphical CTA may reside in close proximity to one another on a web page.

link-plus-cta-example.png

A visitor who is ready to engage is more likely to click the CTA. Whereas, a reader clicking the hyperlink is likely still in research mode, not yet ready to take action.

If you are tracking visitor activity (you should be), you’ll be able to see which link is selected, presenting an opportunity to decipher your visitor’s intent.

I recommend ending each page/article with both link options. Like what you hear? Let us know in the comments or in social.

website design, designed for results – learn more about search optimized web design

22 Nov 16:38

How Integrating Social Media With Your Online Store Boosts Sales

by Yana Yelina

Tips on integrating social media with your online store

Everyone knows that online purchasing is on the rise: around 1.4 billion people made online purchases last year. And according to Selz, 50% of the online population has bought something online more than once. The number of online stores is growing rapidly, not least because a wide range of customers would prefer to shop without leaving their apartments.

Consumer behavior is changing every year, so to keep up, business owners need to improve their eCommerce sites. This usually involves IT-savvy experts and employment of new technologies to make sites more mobile. But, there are ways to boost sales with the help of social media, as great customer experience can satisfy existing clients and entice new ones.

Social media is great for brand exposure (when done well). And according to eMarketer, 68.3% of the online population used social networks in 2016 (with over 1.71 billion monthly Facebook users). Moreover, the number of worldwide users is anticipated to reach about 2.95 billion by 2020.

With this in mind, here are eight ways that you can integrate social media into your online store and marketing to boost sales.

8 ways to boost your online store with social media

1. Call-to-action buttons on social media

Social networks are a great medium for sharing. To boost sales, create a “Shop now!” button on your Facebook page that goes directly to a wide range of products on your online store. On other sites, try changing the website link whenever a new collection arrives or an event comes around. You can also add some links in posts, but remember to post great content and engage with your audience, that way they are much more likely to react.

Furthermore, make sure to feature your unique points, share news about your company and outline fresh trends. Don’t forget to let your followers know about the discounts, special offers and giveaways you are organizing.

ASOS make use of the CTA on Facebook to navigate customers to their online store

Image source: ASOS Facebook page, November 2016

2. Social media plug-ins and widgets

There are many widgets you can add to your site without the help of an external developer. These can help you track which items are popular and help your customers share their favorite pieces.

Consider the number of social accounts: LinkedIn will unlikely be the right fit if you sell consumer products. Apart from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, make sure to add Instagram and Pinterest too. Remember to also add a “Like” button to track the number of your social users.

3. Social media authorization

Why not save your future clients’ time and let them seamlessly log into your store with their social media network credentials. This eliminates the necessity to enter personal info for the customer and can give you better insight in where your customers hang out.

Etsy.com allows customers to register and sign in with their Facebook and Google+ social media accounts

Image source: etsy.com

4. Start a business blog

Relevant news can be displayed not only on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ but also on your business blog. In addition to boosting your SEO, you will now have another place where send customers from social media networks (as a product page can be too much of a hard-sell). You can also invite customers to share their photos or their personal experience of shopping with you.

5. Make it easy to share experiences

Social network users love sharing pictures and videos as long as they are having a great time. Aim for providing a great experience, and make your company #hashtag clear, thereby giving them a chance to tag your business in their posts. When you find customers mention your brand on either of the social networks, follow up on them and share the best photos. Remember, a great user experience is great for your online store and business.

6. Feedback integration

Positive mentions, reviews, and comments left by clients can be just enough to convert your next prospect. Win their confidence by integrating with a tool that allows to automatically display social comments in your online shop. You can also source positive feedback on review sites to increase trust.

Integrate social media comments and mentions on your online store

7. Social media videos & streaming

Video content is gaining popularity on social media, and so live video streaming. So why not create some helpful how-to videos for customers, where products are shown in action? You can also create videos to describe how easy it is to use your ecommerce store, and where to find different types of products. Another idea to consider is to film early arrivals, behind-the-scenes action or interview employees to raise brand awareness. And all these can be shared on social media, your blog or relevant product pages.

8. Promo games and gamification

With the right product, you can turn your next collection or promotion into a game. Another way how you can attract prospects to your business and online store is by creating a game or an app that is a joy for customers to use. You can also gamify their experience and reward them with exclusive content or points for being loyal customers. But do mind that you need to plan your budget thoroughly to know what you can afford (game creation is an expensive and meticulous activity).

Remember the basics of running an online store

Before you run off promoting your products on social media, don’t forget to follow some basic tips on how to run an online store successfully:

  1. Focus on your target audience: remember to meet the needs of every targeted group, paying attention to certain characteristics: gender, age, social status, profession, etc. Such factors become even more important when you have an array of e-shops for different brands.
  2. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so, employ metrics and estimations. The easiest way to track your consumers’ activities is to use dashboard statistics: independently of the CMS your shops is built on, you’ll get the necessary info. Moreover, you can receive insightful data on how you are doing on social media with a social media management tool.
  3. Track and manage user reviews: your online reputation is worth the time. Manage mentions of your online store, and don’t delete negative ones – rather deal with them in a constructive manner.
  4. Use secure payment gateways integration, granting clients a possibility to pay via credit and debit cards, and popular providers like PayPal, Authorize.net, Intuit, Dwolla.

Conclusion

Taking into account all the tips, it becomes evident that managing an online store is no easy task. The list of integration tips can be certainly expanded, and you can come up with your own fresh ideas when marketing on social networks.

But, bear in mind that any process connected with your online store has to be secure and bring positive outcomes. May it be social media, payment gateways integration or even creating content. Thus, be sure to always ask for advice from an experienced developer before making any big changes. Hope these tips help you intensify your efforts to gain customers’ confidence and make your e-business flourish.

22 Nov 16:37

Get 457% more replies to your sales emails with the 1, 2, 3 hack

by steli@close.io (Steli Efti)

increase-email-response-rates.jpg

Any great salesperson knows that you want to make it as simple as possible for your prospect to take the next step. Yet, so many reps send out sales emails that make their prospects do all the heavy lifting. (Most of the time, prospects won’t. They just delete the email. Opportunity lost.)

In today’s post, I’m going to share a very simple method you can use to improve your response rates dramatically. I’ve seen cases where response rates went from 7% to 39% (a 457% increase)!

Download your free copy of Cold Email Hacks here to learn how to send emails that turns prospects into customers.

Less friction. More sales.

Like so many times, it comes back to empathy: Put yourself in the shoes of your prospect. They—like everyone else—are overwhelmed. Their inbox is overflowing, they’ve got too many things competing for their attention and only so many hours in their day.

And then there’s your sales email. Let’s assume your subject line works well enough and the prospect opens the email. What are they looking at now?

Is it a long, 10 paragraph email that talks about your company, your product, the innovative solution you’re offering and the 15 ways it could help them become more successful?

Or is it a very short and succinct email that addresses a need they actually care about?

And what’s the thing you’re asking your prospects to do as a next step?

Are you asking them to write a lengthy response?

Or do you make it easy for them to reply?

3 rules for successful sales emails

There are 3 simple rules you need to follow if you want to send emails that create results:

  1. Be relevant.
  2. Get to the point fast.
  3. Make it easy for them to respond.

improve-response-rates.png

That’s it. I’ve talked about writing relevant sales emails in the past. I’ve also shared advice on how to get to the point fast. Today, I’ll cover how to write emails that make it easy for the recipient to respond.

The 1, 2, 3 email

The concept is simple: Present your prospect with three scenarios that are likely to apply to them based on the information you have about them. Ask them to choose which scenario applies to their situation. All they have to do is hit reply, enter a number and click send. Friction removed.

1, 2, 3 cold emails

Instead of your usual introduction spiel, ask your prospect to select what their biggest challenge is right now. Once they’ve done that, you’re going to respond with advice that’s catered to their specific needs. Here’s an example: 

cold-email-hack-1-2-3.png

You’re giving the person clear options and a low-friction CTA. All they have to do is hit reply, type in a number, click send.

Get replies to follow-ups

I’m all about the follow-up. Whenever your lead turns cold, the 1, 2, 3 tactic is an excellent way to re-engage your prospects. Imagine you’ve sent out your standard follow-up emails with no success. Here’s what to send them instead:

cold-email-hack-1-2-3-follow-up.png

This version is a bit more tongue-in-cheek and light-hearted, but effective nonetheless. You’ll probably be surprised how well it works. The email is highly relevant with an added entertainment value, creating a very powerful way of hacking your response rate. Find out more ways to increase your response rate by downloading your free copy of Cold Email Hacks.

What we did to increase our call request responses at Close.io

One of our Success Managers tried to proactively offer product training for a specific segment of our customers. So she sent out emails suggesting to schedule a call. She followed up repeatedly, but some customers never responded. Eventually, I sent out the following email.

cold-email-hack-1-2-3-customer-success.png

Start using the 1, 2, 3 email today

The beauty of the 1, 2, 3 email is that the prospect can provide you with a lot of information simply by choosing a number.

Pick your most important email or worst performing email

Start by picking your most important email or one that gets a really low response rate. Split test your current version against the 1, 2, 3 email and let the results speak for themselves.

Start from the beginning

Starting from scratch? Follow these simple steps to use the 1, 2, 3 hack:

  1. Choose a small list (100 leads is enough) in your sales CRM.
  2. Define three relevant options.
  3. Create a list of resources to use once your prospects reply to your email.
  4. Set up a new email template with same structure as example one.
  5. Fire away.

That’s it. You’ll now get more replies that’ll convert to more opportunities and ultimately more deals. Want to send better sales emails? Get our free cold email guide! (Click on the book below.)

Download Cold Email Hacks... Free!

Recommended reading:

How to improve your cold email response rates
Say you’re sending cold emails to drum up business. Your open rates are great (20% or higher), but your response rates suck (5% or lower). Here's how to fix this ...

Six simple steps to getting started with cold sales emails
Learn the basics of lead generation via cold outbound emails.

How to experiment your way to more effective cold email templates
What works great today will lose its effectiveness over time. That’s why you should keep testing new email templates. Here's how to do it in a systematic way. 

21 Nov 17:43

This letter General James Mattis wrote to his Marines is a must read in military history

by Paul Szoldra

AP110201148779

Retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis is something of a legend in the US military. Looked at as a warrior among Marines, and well-respected by members of other services, he's been at the forefront of a number of engagements. 

And with the 66-year-old retired four-star general having met with President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday to discuss a possible job offer as defense secretary, it's worth looking back on what he was really like in uniform.

He led his battalion of Marines in the assault during the first Gulf war in 1991, and commanded the task force charging into Afghanistan in 2001. In 2003, as a Major General, he once again took up the task of motivating his young Marines to go into battle.

One day before beginning the assault into Iraq, on March 19, 2003, every member of 1st Marine Division received this letter, written in Mattis' own hand.

In the letter, he tells them, "on your young shoulders rest the hopes of mankind." He conveys a sense of staying together and working as a team, writing, "keep faith in your comrades on your left and right and Marine Air overhead. Fight with a happy heart and a strong spirit."

He finally signs off with the motto of 1st Marines: "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy."

You can see the full letter below:

general mattis marines letter iraq

SEE ALSO: 19 unforgettable quotes from legendary Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis

Join the conversation about this story »

21 Nov 17:41

Putin vows ‘countermeasures’ to NATO expansion as Russia deploys more mobile coastal defence missiles

by David Filipov, Washington Post

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to take “countermeasures” in response to NATO expansion, a report said Monday, pointing to possible critical tests for the Western alliance and President-elect Donald Trump’s calls for outreach to Moscow.

No details were given on possible Russian action, but Russia announced Monday it has bolstered its defensive missile strength in the Eastern European enclave of Kaliningrad.

The Kremlin has voiced concerns about the membership in NATO of former Soviet republics and countries from the former East Bloc.

NATO, meanwhile, has moved to strengthen its presence along its eastern flanks, including the Baltic states. But a major wild card has been introduced by the election victory of Trump, who has suggested that his administration will seek to improve relations with Russia.

Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia Network
Ernest Doroszuk/Postmedia NetworkNATO fighter jets fly in formation above the NATO airbase in the city of Siauliai, the home of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission in Lithuania on Sept. 1, 2014. Clockwise from the left: British Typhoon, Polish Mig-29, Canadian CF-18 and Portugese F-16.

“Why are we reacting to NATO expansion so emotionally? We are concerned by NATO’s decision-making,” Putin was quoted as saying in an interview to be broadcast on Russian TV later on Monday. The advance text was carried by the state-run RIA news agency.

Hours before the broadcast, Russia said it had deployed mobile coastal defence missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland. In October, Putin stationed nuclear-capable cruise missiles in Kaliningrad, further arming a region already bristling with weaponry on both sides.

Putin has expressed optimism that the election of Trump, who has questioned the U.S. commitment to NATO allies, might improve relations with the United States, currently at a post-Cold War low. On Sunday, Putin told reporters in Lima, Peru, that “the U.S. president-elect confirmed his intention to normalize U.S.-Russia relations.”

Putin also met for what was probably the last time with President Barack Obama, whose relationship with the Russian leader soured over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, its proxy war in Ukraine, and its aerial and missile bombardment in Syria of forces opposed to President Bashar Assad.

“I said both of us always treated each other’s positions with respect, although the dialogue between our two countries was rather complicated and sometimes it was difficult to work with each other,” Putin told reporters at an economic summit in Lima. “I thanked him for the years of joint work and said we would be glad to see him in Russia anytime if he found it possible or necessary or had a wish to go there.”

21 Nov 17:40

The One Sales Tip I Give Every Sales Person [Spazz Out 10]

by Keenan

There are a lot of skills and attitudes sales people must have to be successful. But there is one sales tip that rises above the rest that I share with everyone.

It’s the importance of giving a shit.

What does that mean?

It means, if you want to take your game to the next level in sales, you have to care more about your customers and prospects than you do you.

In Spazz Out 10, I break down what it means and why it matters to give a shit in sales.

How well are you adhering to this advice? How much emphasis do you put on your customers issues and problems vs your own?  Are your motivations about your advancement or your prospects?

It matters.

Does anyone have any good stories on how giving a shit  has worked for them?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Drop them in the comments.

The post The One Sales Tip I Give Every Sales Person [Spazz Out 10] appeared first on A Sales Guy.

21 Nov 17:40

5 Essentials To Build A Survey

by Erika Goldwater

We rely on data and statistics from various surveys, vendors and publications to form opinions and develop insights into our lives and our business. When you want to build your own survey, what essentials do you need to gather specific data, analyze and produce unique research? It’s hard work. A lot of hard work, but worth the effort if you can do it.

Three years ago, we at ANNUITAS wanted to understand the challenges enterprise B2B marketers in demand generation roles were facing. We scoured the web to find data, reports and relevant information on this unique group of marketers, however, we found most data skewed towards mid-size organizations or small business. That wasn’t going to work for us. So, we decided to build our own study and then share the data with the B2B market to help us all become better marketers.

For those of you thinking about developing your own research, you should go for it as it provides great insight into your target audience. It’s an invaluable experience, providing a unique opportunity to engage with your peer community and to establish credibility.

Here are 5 areas to focus on when developing a survey:

Define key objectives:

It sound like a no-brainer, but understanding what you want to achieve by creating a survey is an essential first step. Be honest. If you just want something for click-bait, fair enough, but know that this is NOT best-practice. Clearly define and map your objectives for the research to ensure you are asking the right questions to accomplish your objectives.

In the ANNUITAS study, we wanted to hear directly from B2B enterprise marketers working in demand generation in organizations with annual revenues of 250 million dollars or more. We didn’t want to learn about those in smaller organizations, we were interested in the complexities that come with large, global, multi-product organizations with complex sales and marketing organizational structures.

Identify your audience:

Know who you want to hear from and accept nothing less. The more specific the audience, the more challenging it may be to get responses, but the better your data will to meet your objectives. Most survey platforms enable selection of key criteria to segment survey respondents making obtaining the most relevant respondents possible.

Size of organization

Anticipate challenges:

When conducting a survey from unknown participants with specific criteria, expect things to take longer than expected. Plan for this, especially if you are doing this for the first time. Define your cadence for communication through a variety of channels depending on what preferences your audience has and adjust based on the volume of responses needed.

Always aim for more responses than you need for a valid study and set a limit for the minimum of responses to keep focused.

Be objective with the data:

Let your data do the talking. After obtaining responses and compiling your data, keep your opinions to yourself and rely on what the data presents to build your insights. Developing insights is not easy, however. According to a recent Harvard Business Review, gathering metrics is easy, but building insights is the hard part, as they are rare.

It’s important to remember you may not get all the information you need to build insights with the first round of data collection as some data may be best suited for discovering broader trends rather than developing specific insights.

Share:

Have a solid, documented plan to share the data and any related insights developed from your survey and data collection. Slice and dice the data to highlight different aspects of your study and distribute the data through a variety of channels and mediums. Make it easy for others to use your data too. In this sharing economy, make sure you provide the results in a variety of formats to best enable sharing across multiple platforms or even other languages.

We develop two versions of our study (full version with analysis and a condensed version), a webinar, an infographic later in the year, post the slides from the webinar up on SlideShare and will use the data for various content pieces throughout 2017. Use the data anywhere and everywhere it makes sense.

Before you develop your survey, take some time to read this article from SurveyGizmo. It shares some helpful tips based on their extensive experiences in the field and might save you from making a few mistakes along the way.

21 Nov 17:36

17 travel tricks flight attendants say can save you time, money, and aggravation

by Business Insider

flight attendant

  • Want the best travel tips and packing hacks? There's no one better to ask than flight attendants.
  • Flight attendants have a great deal of experience making the travel process more efficient and enjoyable.
  • From how to secure upgrades and free goodies to hacks for packing lighter, flight attendants shared their best travel tips and packing hacks.

Traveling can come as second nature to flight attendants, who often spend more than 80 hours in the air a month.

So, who better to turn to for travel tips and tricks than the people with extensive knowledge on the matter?

We asked flight attendants to share their best travel hacks and packing tips with us, and we scoured the internet for more.

Here are 17 secrets that could help make your travel experiences easier and more enjoyable:

SEE ALSO: 8 things cruise-ship workers want to tell passengers but can't

DON'T MISS: 11 truths about flying only flight attendants know

Get more attentive service from your flight attendants

"While most passengers tend to choose seats that are at the front of the aircraft so that they can disembark first and have a better chance of securing their preferred meal option, flight attendants know that if you're sitting towards the back, you'll receive the most attentive service," a flight attendant with 2.5 years' experience wrote for Oyster.

"The reason is simple: We like to avoid responding to call bells from the front of the plane because answering one means potentially flaunting whatever item the passenger has requested to everyone else along the way," she wrote. "This can cause a problem since planes often don't have enough extra vodka, pillows, earplugs, and toothbrushes, or the time on shorter flights to deviate from the service schedule."

"For passengers sitting near the back of the plane, however, it's much easier to slip in that second mini bottle of wine," she added.

Read more: The 10 best airlines in the world in 2019, according to travelers



Iron your clothes faster

"Use your flat iron to touch up your clothes when you're in a rush and there's no time for the ironing board," a flight attendant with 30 years' experience told Business Insider.



Always sleep in clean sheets

"Don't sleep on hotel sheets that don't have creases from being folded; someone slept on them already," a flight attendant with 19 years' experience told Business Insider.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
21 Nov 17:35

Hybrid Pay-for-Performance PR: The Right Side of History

by Ed Schauweker

Four years ago, while working at a Top-5 global public relations agency, I thought about opening a firm that catered exclusively to small and emerging tech companies. My goal was to offer industry-best practice media and influencer relations, for startups, while delivering the highest ROI for building clients’ industry thought leadership.

In addition to offering these services, I was looking for a pricing model that would be profitable for the firm and best serve the needs of startup clients.

The firm we envisioned would rely heavily on fostering and nurturing client relationships with industry influencers. This forced us to examine the billing models from a different perspective. Which turned out to be hugely positive.

So, a little more than three years ago, we opened the doors to a new firm. It leverages what we call a hybrid pay-for-performance model. As discussed in my previous article — there are a number of valid pay-for-performance pricing model criticisms. We believe the hybrid pay-for-performance model that we evolved successfully addresses those shortcomings.

Small Retainers

We have a very small retainer that ensures our clients are incentivized to engage with us. It also covers small tasks like managing influencer and media lists, weekly calls, etc.

Course-of-Business — Client Strategy & Counsel

For larger strategy and counsel activities, we’re investing in our clients’ businesses. Excellent strategy and counsel are essential elements of any successful PR campaign. Therefore, our firm is incentivized to provide the best strategy and counsel available, because it will help generate a higher quality and frequency of coverage. So, we don’t directly charge for strategy and counsel.

The firms that solely leverage the budget / retainer-based pricing models have failed to see, or admit, that billing 30-40% of their fees for strategy and counsel is outdated. If they don’t provide excellent strategy and counsel, they won’t generate coverage for their clients. And you can see where that would lead.

Flat Fees for Secured Media & Influencer Meetings

We charge a fee for the media or influencer meetings we schedule. If the client cancels a meeting, they still pay — after all, we did the work. If an interview is conducted and, for whatever reason, an article is not generated, we still charge the interview fee. If the reporter or influencer cancels, we don’t charge the client, because we didn’t complete our assignment.

Flat Fees for Secured Coverage

For coverage, we charge a flat fee for all client, pre-approved media. For bylined articles that we edit, submit and have published; we charge the same amount. This eliminates the hassle and client confusion of trying to price coverage for different outlets. It also ensures that clients receive a good mix of coverage across their targeted media. Additionally, it means we must be very good at keeping track of media we have approached.

We have even gone one step further. If we conduct an interview with a reporter or influencer, and an article or report stems directly from that briefing, we only charge for the coverage.

For special projects like positioning or messaging sessions, we offer a la carte (service fee) pricing, just like the more traditional firms.

Monthly Budget Ceilings

In order to ensure that a single month of heavy coverage is still affordable for clients, we put a pre-determined ceiling on charges. The larger the client, the higher the ceiling.

Social Media

The one area I have not addressed is social media. Public relations firms could price for coverage based on a certain number of shares or some other message penetration metrics. While we offer social media consulting tailored to each individual client — we do not offer tactical, social media relations services. Nor do we plan to do so in the future. So we can’t speak to the effectiveness of leveraging the pricing model for social media.

Delivering the ROI

The goal in developing our hybrid pay-for-performance pricing model was to deliver the highest public relations ROI. It fairly compensates the public relations firm while ensuring that clients have a PR partner that is optimally incentivized to generate coverage. It also means that clients are getting an optimal strategy / outreach mix.

You won’t find any reference to hybrid pay-for-performance pricing on our website. We believe that our influencer and media relations services are the best in our industry. Although our firm is just three years old, we have had a very positive experience with this model, albeit with startups and emerging businesses, our firm’s sole focus.

I believe that as clients demand ever more accountability, the entire public relations industry will evolve toward hybrid pay-for-performance as its standard pricing model. It is likely to be painful, but change exacts a price. The PR firms that don’t innovate and transform their businesses in order to leverage the hybrid pay-for-performance pricing model will be left on the wrong side of history.

21 Nov 17:34

These economic 'black swans' could rock global markets

by Elena Holodny

Societe Generale is out with its latest quarterly chart of swan risks that threaten to rock the global financial markets. 

This time around, China is the big "'pure' economics" risk in the G5. SocGen argues that it's the major economy with the "most significant risks with pockets of significant excess in housing, high debt levels and a burgeoning NPL problem," and thus they see the risk of a hard landing at 20%. Taking it one step further, they added that "insufficient" structural reform "leaves the economy at very significant risk of a lost decade, which we set at a 40% probability."

In their chart, SocGen lumped together broader political risk, pointing to the numerous upcoming European elections, potential spillover from policy uncertainty in the EU, and "significant uncertainty" regarding future US policy. But overall, they note, Europe's the big space to watch politics-wise. 

Separately, they also argued that bond yields are the "Achilles' heel of global markets," arguing that "market pricing on Fed rate hikes, however, remains modest and there is to our minds significant risk of a more disorderly repricing of global bond yields. Such a scenario could have very negative spillover, not least to emerging markets."

We should note that it's a bit of a faux pas to call these forecasts "black swan" events, given that black swan risks are, by definition, nearly impossible to see coming. But when they materialize, it's bad — and that's the point SocGen's team seems to be making.

On the positive end, the team also points to two upside risks: significant fiscal accommodations and fast track reform in the US, as well as more capex.

black swans november 2016 COTD

SEE ALSO: GOLDMAN: Here's one of our favorite trades for 2017

Join the conversation about this story »

21 Nov 17:34

Consider Content a Gift To Your Future Customers

by John Miller

contentmarketinggift.jpg

Is your business a giver, or a taker? Obviously, your business has to take at least a little something or else you won’t be in business very long. But is your company perceived as helpful? Or are you viewed as piranhas looking to devour every cent you can from the market?

If you’re viewed as piranhas, you won’t be successful for very long; it’s not a very repeatable way to conduct business. But there’s also some nuance here – you might not be seen as out-and-out bad guys, but you also might not be perceived as caring about your customers’ fate.

In other words, are you more focused on your own needs than your customers’ needs?

While the wheel is turning in terms of how businesses interact with their potential customers, the majority of companies remain extremely focused on making the sale. That’s obviously vitally important, but if you lead with what is going to line your pocket you are not going to be very successful. Your brand’s success is an outcome, not the sole purpose of conducting business.

People and companies today want to do business with companies they know, like and trust. You must have a strong relationship in order to gain and keep someone’s business. You need a relationship that is seen as mutually beneficial.

Truth: Your marketing department’s job is to build a relationship with potential customers. It is not to tell the world how awesome your company is. You’re paying them to make customers want to buy from you.

This is easy to say but not always easy to do. And, certainly, a lot of companies never get the distinction right. These companies might realize some near term sales wins, but they’ll always be playing catch-up.

The Buyer’s Journey begins with you inviting potential customers into your space by offering them something – consider it a gift, something that shows how much you care, that demonstrates some small amount of sacrifice on your part. When you’re operating online, this gift is almost always some type of content (not a single blog post, but maybe a series of posts, or the content hub that offers thoughtful articles and other content). Consider it an olive branch that demonstrates your empathy for their situation. Forget going for the sale right now; they’re not going to sign a contract today anyway, right?

They key is to understand how reciprocity works. It’s about the give-and-take between you and your customers – they already know that you want to sell them something, you don’t have to be all up in their business about it. However, most customers today want to know that you don’t just want to sell them something; you want them to succeed. They want to know they have a partner that is committed beyond just the initial sale. If that isn’t you, then they can certainly find it somewhere else in the global marketplace.

When your brand demonstrates it’s trying to help them live their lives or run their business, they become interested in having that relationship.

In today’s customer-driven marketplace, you must give your potential customers something of value. Something that’s good for them, something they want, something so good they’d actually pay for it. This is how you build good will; ultimately, some of those prospects are going to return your good deed. It doesn’t mean they’ll automatically buy from you, but it does make them far more likely to do so.

21 Nov 17:33

3 New Stats You Need to Know About Social Customer Service

by Tamar Frumkin

We are living in the middle of a digital, social revolution. These words may not resonate as strongly inside of your being as they should, since this message has been trumpeted for years. Warning bells are awakening our society to embrace the rapid technological changes to our lives, while reminding us to savor the remnants of old school, human service and engagements that we may in fact be taking for granted.

As we’ve witnessed the internet meld every online store, checkout counter and storefront into one marketplace, it has never been more competitive or challenging for brands to get the necessary edge to “win”.

Social Retains Humanity

Commentators and armchair sociologists have given countless insights on the stunted socialization of Millennials who grew up in Social, as well as the negative effects of too much screen time for the rest of us. But, social channels, when used as engagement platforms and not merely publishing portals, are just another way for human-to-human, and human-to-brand contact.

Where the nuances of human engagement may be void, technology on social has found ways to capture a sort of digital body language and tone enhancement to create a more robust experience on social channels. With platforms such as WhatsApp, Messenger and iMessage supporting photo/video sharing, audio notes and even the drawing, heartbeat features on iOS 10, a more palpable human experience is being delivered, particularly on private, social messaging channels.

This humanity is one of the main features that brands can use to individuate themselves in a one marketplace world. When things go wrong, as they always do, social channels are what your Millennial customers (and Millennial-minded customers) trust to find human engagements and actionable conversations.

3 New Trends in Social Customer Service

In August of this year, Conversocial conducted a survey to understand Social, Mobile customer trends to investigate if brands are really connecting with their consumers on the channels they love. Here are the top five takeaways that you need to understand about this newly evolved, empowered social customer.

socialstats_v2-01.png

1. The Rise of Social Service Privatization

Sharing that Facebook Messenger is a channel customers love isn’t shocking – considering this private channel has surpassed the one billion user threshold after only five years in existence. However, despite the growing list of service-oriented features being steadily rolled out by this Social giant, some brands are still hesitant to adopt this preferred channel for Social Customer Service.

3 out of 5 consumers under 65 (not 35) prefer you connect with them through channels like Facebook Messenger. – Conversocial Report: The State of Social Customer Service

Consumer-Channel-Preference-Age.png

Social’s unique value props are efficiency and humanity, and Messenger has both in spades. An entire customer relationship can be managed now on Messenger as well as bot integration for automation of the high volume, repetitive queries needing an extra helping of efficiency and requiring less agent attention.

2. Your VIP Customers are #SocialFirst™

You may automatically assume that only Millennial customers prefer Social Channels to resolve their service issues. Considering that this segment of the population is just dipping their toes into the workforce, the image of a #SocialFirst customer base may not summon a very high value segment. However, that is simply not true.

There is a positive correlation between income and preference to use Social Customer Service.
Customers earning more than$150K per year, undeniably prefer Social Customer Service.

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3. Brands Need to Step Up Their Social Game

Unfortunately, not all brands are available for their customers on Social channels. And customers who depend on these channels to connect with their favorite brands find themselves disappointed by digital dial tone when reaching out for service on social.

In our study, we found that 30% of the respondents who use Social Customer Care say that issue never got a response or resolution; 30% say it took more than thirty minutes. Thirty minutes is an eternity for customers reaching out in crisis mode. The rule is no longer fail me once, shame on you…it’s fail me once, goodbye! In fact, 62% of consumers have stopped doing business with a brand or organization due to one poor customer service experience. (2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report) Ouch.

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But there’s more…

In our latest report: The State of Social Customer Service, we gained many more insights about this new breed of social, mobile consumer, what they prefer and what is still frustrating. To learn more about the latest trends in Social Customer Service, download our report now.

21 Nov 17:33

Simplifying Email Marketing: 6 Ideas for Reaching and Engaging Your Subscribers

by Richard Smith

email-marketing

Believe it or not, emails are still one of the best ways of reaching out to people. If reports and surveys are to be relied upon, marketing products and services via emails enhances the sales figures by a whopping 138 percent. This figure is actually substantial as compared to marketing campaigns initiated via other avenues. Therefore, it is imperative for every business to indulge into email marketing while keeping up with the newly devised concepts.

Why Email Marketing?

There is a definite reason why you should value email marketing. Your subscribers are hungry for newsletters, insights and specific hacks which are best released in the form of emails. While the metamorphic dotted line has finally been drawn, most of the subscribers are already primed to purchase your products and services. Individuals keep on checking their inbox and almost everybody trusts you and your vision.

The idea here is to keep up with this trust while making some serious profits. This is where email marketing comes right into the picture.

While there are many conjectures focused around this form of marketing, here are six of the most effective ideas for amplifying the results. These tips delve into the basics of email marketing while unearthing the hidden treasures for the marketers.

So let’s get started

  • Focus on an Impactful Subject Line

Every marketing strategy or rather campaign emphasizes on an impactful initiation. When it comes to email marketing, this cardinal rule becomes all the more important. While creating an email, you must clearly focus on the heading or the subject line to be precise. Unless you opt for a strong subject, the email ends up in Spam or Trash as subscribers hardly have the time to read out the entire matter.

In this section, I will be summarizing a few ideas to optimize the subject lines— in order to resonate perfectly with the concerned individuals.

  1. Aim for Shorter Lines– When it comes to creating the perfect subject line, you shouldn’t invest in more than 6-10 words. Rambling isn’t the way to go as emails with shorter subject lines have the best open rates.
  2. Be Wise with the Words– Refrain from sales rhetoric and opt for something classier.
  3. Personalize– Bulk emails will never get you the desired profits and this is where a personalized approach can be of great help. If a subject line is carefully drafted for a company or a subscriber, the email is more likely to be opened. A survey suggests that personalized mails are opened 41.8 percent more than the general ones.
  4. Being Benefit Oriented– This is where efficient copywriters pitch in by creating subject lines with defined prospects. Do summarize the mail-opening benefits, associated perks and the gains while being original and definitely within the desired word limit.
  5. SHOUTING isn’t the Way– Typing everything in Caps is a strict no-no unless it is done occasionally. Typing words in caps feels more like shouting to the subscribers and this approach shouldn’t be used while drafting the subject line.
  • Work on Call-to-Actions

From a marketing perspective, an email without a CTA is only an attractive showcase of your vocabulary. You must let your prospects or subscribers know what action you need them to take. CTAs are more like the subject lines— they should be short, clear, concise and still pretty descriptive.

The CTA must resonate and actually convince the readers— compelling them to click-through. Once you have distilled the CTA to its core benefits— you must curb the verbosity and look to added punchiness to the same. Apart from a typical written approach, you can also opt for time-sensitive offers— encouraging people to pitch in. FOMO is something which is still perfect for pulling in a sizeable audience.

  • Leverage Emails (Mostly Transactional)

Here is a trick that most marketers are missing out on. Transactional mails are like receipts with definite offers and other form of CTAs. They help with cross-sell and upsell. Moreover, they have at least 4 times higher open rates as compared to other emails.

Many firms which are already leveraging these kind of mails are actually reverting back to the user with a definite call to action— dipped into a sumptuous sauce of time-specific offers. Transactional emails confirm a registration and even enlist the points which made the user register, in the first place. Once the recapitulation is initiated, these mails leverage the emotional quotient and reveal the offer— which can then be availed by clicking through or subscribing.

  • Large Scale Personalization is Imperative

While personalizing the subject line comes in as an optional resort, the body needs to be customized— every single time. The best part is that personalized emails have higher open rates and even better click-throughs associated with them.

However, before we start discussing them, it is important to understand what personalized emails actually mean. These are user-specific mails which are customized according to the preferences, purchase history, location and even specific interests of the subscriber base.

Unlike the years gone by, email marketing strategy has evolved and the concept of personalization has also changed. Even though the emails are drafted according the specific interest levels, there are software in the market which can automate the mail sending process and sometimes even the entire campaign.

The only thing you need to do as a marketer is to gather information and specific data sets— corresponding to the subscriber. This info can then be fed into the servers and used for personalizing the emails.

To be clear, transactional mails work on the same principle of personalization. The response mail from the company is triggered by a specific action of the subscriber. This approach needs to be extrapolated in order to covert customers and appeal to them on a larger scale.

  • Go Mobile

Here is a vital piece of information which suggests that almost 70 percent of daily emails are read over a mobile interface. Marketers should therefore target the smartphone audience or rather the millennials, often via a dedicated approach. Firstly, the concerned emails need to be responsive i.e. they should look good even on mobiles.

Next, you should look to reduce the length of the emails as a reader logging in via the smartphone won’t be willing to read a lot of text. The next step for marketers should be to root their smartphones for unlocking the true potential of the device. This allows them to install specific applications which can then help with the email marketing campaign.

As a marketer, you need to be on the move and willing to work at all times. A rooted handset can therefore be a great resource to have. Apart from this technological input, marketers must look to invest in the sentiments associated with a marketing strategy. While the iOS and android root guide helps with the technical aspects, here are some of the important tips for revamping the email marketing strategy, targeting a typical smartphone:

  1. Trim the Text
  2. Always Include a CTA
  3. Fit in Images

There are many email marketing platforms which offer a sneak peek of the way a specific mail looks on the mobile interface.

  • Opt for a Split Test

While each one of these tips can be useful towards catering to a specific audience base, it all pans down to split testing for refining the marketing campaign. The idea here is to segregate the entire audience base into smaller pockets and bombarding them with specific campaigns. Depending upon the reception of each campaign, you can opt for the most popular strategy.

The idea here is to change one variable at any given time as experimenting way too much can negatively impact the performances. You can either change the subject line, corresponding CTA, headlines, images and even the layout— targeting large-scale split testing.

Bottom Line

Email marketing is resourceful but needs to be pushed out of the oblivion in order to make a difference. These six strategies can be extremely useful for those marketers who are willing to delve into the world of emails while reaching out to their respective subscriber base.

21 Nov 17:33

Giving Patients an Active Role in Their Health Care

by Len Schlesinger
nov16-21-99310833

As payment and care delivery models shift in the United States from episodic, fee-for-service care toward population health and value-based reimbursement, health care leaders are focused more than ever on patient engagement as a key to driving down costs and improving outcomes. And yet, as so many of us know who have attempted to manage our own care or tend to sick family members, the U.S. health care system rarely feels like it’s been set up to help us succeed.

What’s needed is a fundamental redesign of the patient’s role — from that of a passive recipient of care to an active participant charged with defined responsibilities, equipped to dispatch them, and accountable for the results. In other words, we need to view the patient’s role as a job and then design that job in such a way as to drive the best health outcomes possible.

The Patient’s “Burden of Treatment”

Patient advocates and others who have studied the U.S. health care system have catalogued the degree of “unpaid,” and unsupported, work patients take on in service of their own care. The average, low-risk patient must follow up on referrals to specialists, fill and manage medications, and comply with physical therapy and other regimes. With legacy, pre-internet software systems still the norm in most hospital environments, patients also become unpaid couriers, shuttling critical health data from one provider to the next.

According to a 2015 survey on the patient experience, nearly 30% of patients physically carry x-rays, test results, and other critical health data from one provider’s office to the next. And 55% say their medical history is missing or incomplete when they visit their doctor.

Insight Center

For patients who suffer from chronic or complex conditions, as a Mayo Clinic paper recently argued, the “burden of treatment” must be shouldered alongside the “burden of illness.” A 2012 study cited by the study’s authors estimated that the self-management of a chronic illness demands, on average, two hours of patient work each day — work that is often poorly supported, stressful, and frustrating in nature.

For all the articles advocating for “patient-centered care,” this is the change that we ultimately must be willing to make: Rather than having patients as passive recipients of care, they must be active producers of their care, in partnership and coordination with physicians and clinical staff. So what are the requirements for getting to that end state?

Account for Patient Work Across the Full Care Journey

First, we need to acknowledge and account for all the patient work that now goes unrecognized and unsupported. This means grappling with the complexity of tasks patients take on as they seek care across an ever-expanding number of settings — work that varies widely depending on acuity level, disease state, demographics, insurance type, socioeconomic conditions, and so on.

For years, hospitals and medical groups, looking to move the needle on patient satisfaction, have focused largely on managing and optimizing isolated episodes of care. CAHPS surveys, for example, which serve as the industry standard for measuring the patient experience, focus on patient satisfaction with individual encounters within a single institution.

But the way we access and experience care has changed. Where we used to have a lifelong relationship with a family doctor, we now switch doctors frequently due to scheduling issues, changes in insurance coverage, and other factors. We’re also more likely to seek care outside the walls of health systems or the boundaries of specific networks — whether it be through urgent care visits, virtual consults, or alternative therapies. And we know that much of what affects our health, for better or worse, happens between visits. Who is accountable for measuring the patient experience over time and across all of these disparate care settings?

As we shift toward population health, with provider reimbursements tied directly to improved outcomes, we need to move from managing episodes of care to managing the entire patient journey across the full ecosystem of care. The patient journey becomes the operational backdrop against which patients, physicians, and other staff and caregivers must play their respective parts.

Intentionally Design the Patient’s Job into the System

If the patient is to have a job in the care-delivery process, we must apply the same principles of intentional work design to their jobs as we do to those of physicians and clinical staff. In a recent Physician Leadership and Engagement Survey conducted by athenahealth with 2,000 doctors, we found that only 20% of doctors surveyed reported high levels of engagement in their jobs. Those who were highly engaged, however, pointed to a few key drivers: trust in leadership and the system, open communication and feedback, and an operationally effective work environment that allows them to deliver high-quality patient care. It’s not a stretch to suggest that patients would be engaged and motivated by the same drivers.

We know from classic management theory (e.g., the work of J. Richard Hackman and Greg R. Oldham) applied and tested in other service-industry contexts what good job design looks like. Well-designed jobs, for example, give individuals a clearly defined role to play with sufficient autonomy and regular performance feedback built in. This not only allows people to execute tasks effectively but also gives them a sense of meaning and satisfaction in their work by seeing the connection between their efforts and outcomes.

In contrast to this ideal work scenario, the roles and responsibilities of patients currently are almost never clearly defined or fully supported. Patients routinely take on frustrating tasks, such as the transfer of vital information from one provider to another, that technology should be designed to handle. They struggle to get access to the information they need to tend to their own care, and get little feedback or satisfaction from seeing their actions move the needle on results. For patients to be satisfied with care, motivated to play their part, attentive to required screenings, and compliant with care, they need the support of a system designed to help them do their jobs effectively.

Support the Patient through Network-Enabled Technology

Saying that the patient has a job to do does not in any way suggest that patients must shoulder the burden of their responsibilities unsupported. Technology is the key enabler of patients’ success, providing the information, visibility, and feedback they need to do their jobs.

So what does this look like? As part of its research and development efforts around population health management, athenahealth has begun the work of mapping out a series of patient journeys tied to distinct patient types. The goal is to understand all the key points of engagement that are needed in order to support the patient before, during, and between visits. Naturally, the patient journey and points of engagement look very different for a healthy 28-year-old than they do for a 55-year-old smoker with diabetes and hypertension. But both have jobs to do that can only be done effectively with the support of surrounding technology.

For example, data aggregated from a multitude of sources — from electronic health records to insurance data — can be used to paint a complete picture of the patient. Smart scheduling systems and patient portals help patients access care on demand. Reminders via text and other modes help the patient arrive on time and prepared. Open data exchange allows personal health information to travel from one provider or encounter to the next so the patient isn’t playing courier.

For high-risk patients, wearable devices and care management apps help them stay compliant and connected to care teams 24/7. Technology can’t do patients’ job for them. They still need to embrace behavior change and take accountability for their own care. But it can make their job easier to do, more likely to be effective, and more satisfying and rewarding.

It’s widely accepted that we will never realize the goals of health care’s Triple Aim — reducing costs, improving the health of populations, and improving the patient experience — without putting patients at the center of their care. To do this effectively, however, health care leaders must do more than retool old mission statements or retrain physicians and frontline staff. They will need to reorient their thinking to acknowledge the critical job of the patient, design it thoughtfully into new operational frameworks, and invest in the networked technology required to support it all. Only when patients, physicians, and staff are all working together, fully engaged and enabled to do what each does best, will we achieve the clinical and financial outcomes we are all aiming for.

21 Nov 17:31

Social Outreach: Right Brain First, Left Brain Second

by Alex Hisaka
  • right-brain-left-brain

We make buying decisions based on emotion. The latest iPhone you’ve convinced yourself you need. The overpriced, artisanal roast dinner that reminds you of grandma’s cooking. The flashy sports car you shelled out for (when what you really need is a SUV).

It’s how our brains are wired. While we tell ourselves our choices are based on level-headed logic, cognitive science suggests that we careen through life making snap-decisions based subtle (and sometimes, not-so-subtle) emotions. Then we justify our choice with logic.

Emotions play a critical role when it comes to business decisions. But long before it’s time to buy, emotions are also key to initiating and developing valuable sales relationships via social selling.

Whether personal or strictly business, all relationships are built on emotion. We form impressions of the people we’re buying from based on emotional reactions. And if we like and trust the person selling to us, or believe they like us, we’re more likely to buy.  

The best salespeople know how to trigger emotions in their prospect. When done skillfully, this can help them create connections, inspire interest in what they’re selling, and close the deal.

Social selling is a great strategy to do this at speed by arming salespeople with insights.

Connect With Emotion

Social selling is geared towards building emotional connections. With a wealth of insights on prospects right at your fingertips, you can instantly make a warm connection—rather than going in cold. To increase your chances of getting a response, make your initial outreach personal and aim to engage the right brain.

Check out their profile before you make contact to glean insights on their interests, passions, and career goals. Look for common ground—did you both graduate from the same college? Root for the same team? Browse the recent posts they’ve shared, liked, and commented on. These may be clues to the business problems they’re grappling with right now—the problems you can help solve.

A personalized engagement yields better results than an impersonal email from a stranger. It’s the difference between a subject line that reads “Boost you ROI!” and “Loved your recent article on growing a small business!” Which are you more likely to open?

Dazzle With Logic

Emotion is just the tip of the spear: once you’ve got a foot in the door, hit them with logic. You’ve delighted your prospect with an unexpectedly friendly message. You’ve drawn them in by establishing a connection. You’ve sparked emotion. Now, you have to appeal to the logical left brain.

This is when you give something meaty. Teach them something new.  Surprise them with an insight about their profession, company, or industry. Hint at how your products and services will help them solve their business problems. When you combine a logical message with an emotional connection, the logical reasons to respond will resonate much more strongly.

Social selling is just that: social. And that means emotional. From initial outreach to building the relationship and closing the sale, feelings drive every decision your prospect takes. Emotional connections should always be the first step. Trigger the right emotion and your prospect will be much more receptive to your logic-driven sales pitch. 

Selling should be simple—it’s all about human connections after all. But with increasingly more power in the buyers’ hands, sales can be a tricky process. Social selling simplifies things.

Find out how in our Simplifying Sales: The Effortless Guide to Using Insights for Sales Success eBook.

      
21 Nov 17:31

It Would Be Funnier If It Didn’t Hurt So Much – Marketing Blunders

by Randy Milanovic

We see blunders all the time in marketing, especially when people try to take shortcuts or listen to bad advice that ends up working against them. No matter what kind of decision you make, though, you can rest easy knowing that someone else has probably done worse.

Today we want to help everyone feel a little bit better about the guffaws they’ve committed, and to show just how surprisingly easy it is to do something that will make you want to smack your own forehead at times.

Marketing Blunders

Here are three blunders that will leave you sighing in relief that you didn’t make them…

#1 “Leads? What Leads?”

A while ago, we undertook a complete website redesign and development project for an established business. A successful enterprise with a great product, smart management team, and dozens of positive success stories.

That’s why I was so surprised when I got a call one day, out of the blue, from an executive at the firm. He seemed a bit baffled that all of our activity hadn’t led to a single lead. He was getting some phone calls, sure, but nothing from the website form we had anticipated would be popular with prospects. His question, basically, was “where are all the leads we should be getting?”

confused by no lead notifications

That’s not the kind of question I’m accustomed to receiving, and my mind momentarily went blank. Then I started digging. In the back end of their contact management system, I could see dozens and dozens of contact requests.

A few questions later, I learned he had been annoyed by the number of email alerts he was getting, so decided to unsubscribe. Yes, his website was generating multiple sales opportunities a day, but they weren’t even going into his SPAM folder.

Mystery solved, his sales team frantically began calling the leads. Some of them were saved, but a lot of the opportunities were lost. The losses probably totalled several hundred thousand dollars. Luckily, though, new leads continued to come in. He has since re-subscribed to his email notifications.

#2 Going Old School Sales on New Prospects

Working with another client, my team helped to create a rather large website. The company had customers around the world, with differing personas and motivations. In order to help them appeal to buyers, we created tailored campaigns, each with specialized content designed to attract and qualify prospects.

I was sure that we had done great work, and that the organization was going to be very pleased with the results. However, through the course of a few short meetings, I learned that they were becoming increasingly distressed with the lacklustre sales and revenue figures that were coming in.

After looking through the relevant metrics, I couldn’t understand what the problem might be. They had a great search engine position, lots of engagement on their content, and a few thousand new contacts from interested prospects (more than quadruple historical numbers). I wondered what possibly could be going wrong?

hard selling prospects can leave them feeling alienated

The only way to figure it out was to trace a few of the opportunities from start to finish.

What I discovered with a bit of detective work revealed that their old-school sales team was taking information requests and treating them as buying signals, pouring on the sales pressure. As a result, an embarrassing low ratio of leads had committed to take the next step.

The moral of this story is that the Internet has changed everything. Buyers like to gather information and move forward at their own pace. Deploying an inbound lead generation approach only works if you understand the buying process. Come on too strong, and you’ll scare the game away.

#3 Patience Is Still A Virtue

A couple of years ago, we had a client come to us with a unique challenge: they had a new professional development program, and wanted to attract a very specific type of international enrolee, but we had to do it on a shoestring budget. We were intrigued and relished the chance to see what we could do.

By optimizing an advertising spend of just $500 per month, we were able to increase this site’s key page views by a staggering 15,000%. At the same time, we beefed up their content and optimized their website to the point that their Moz (DM) ranking rocketed up from 2.4 to 6.4, taking them from obscurity to the top of their industry in just a few months.

I was shocked to learn one day that they were dissatisfied with our work. Rather than looking at these early indicators of success, they expained that very few prospects had decided to commit to purchase.

foreign enrollment

In drawing these conclusions, they overlooked the fact that their target audience was living and working overseas and would have to relocate to North America in order to attend, plus the first courses wouldn’t begin for many months, and that the goal of the campaign was to build awareness.

Do you have a better blunder to share? Get it off your chest by sharing your story in the comments below or in social!

21 Nov 17:29

Why ‘Trumpflation’ may not provide the growth fix that the world’s largest economy needs

by Joe Chidley, Financial Post, National Post

Bond yields are rising. Stock markets are exuberant. The U.S. dollar is soaring. The generally accepted reasoning is simple: With the U.S. election victory of Donald Trump, markets are expecting higher growth and higher inflation in the world’s largest economy.

Inflation, when it’s tied to economic growth, can be a good thing. And for years since the Great Recession, inflation globally has been desultory — even in the U.S., which has been growing more robustly than other developed economies. As well, Trump has been clear that stronger economic growth ranks high among his ambitions. His campaign has officially estimated 3.5 per cent GDP growth under his policies; less officially, Trump himself has said four or even five per cent is doable.

So the inflationary boost of Trumponomics, assuming it happens, will be fine, right?

Well, the answer to that depends on what kind of inflation we’re talking about. Will it be the good kind that comes from sustainable economic growth? Or will it be more of a sugar rush that comes from government spending and short-term fiscal stimulus? Or, worst-case, will it be the really bad kind, where prices increase but growth stagnates or even declines?

Obviously, it’s hard to project because the actual outlay of Trump’s economic policies is still very much up in the air. We can really only go by his campaign promises, such as they are, and so far there is little indication he plans to veer far from his script.

Part of that script is a pledge to revitalize infrastructure, something that even Democrats have agreed is sorely needed. His plan involves throwing a trillion dollars at building stuff over the next decade. That seems like a lot of money.

But is it? As a share of the overall U.S. economy, it’s kind of a “meh.” Let’s say the trillion is spent evenly over 10 years, which amounts to US$100 billion annually. America’s nominal GDP at the end of the third quarter was just under US$18.7 trillion. So the projected direct spend on infrastructure would boost GDP by only about half a per cent.

Even that spend, however, is assuming a lot. According to an October paper by Trump advisers Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, the trillion in infrastructure would come largely from the private sector, incentivized by a tax credit. Now, no doubt there’s a lot of room for private equity in infrastructure, but the public-private partnership model isn’t really feasible for every project. Private investors might be all over infrastructure with clear future revenue streams — like toll roads — but they might be skeptical about the likely returns from “fixing our inner cities,” something Trump cited as a goal in his victory speech.

If private investors don’t step up, the federal government could just borrow the money. That will add to inflationary pressure, incentivizing the central bank to raise rates, while not producing very much incremental growth.

With the U.S. nearing or at full employment now, inflationary pressures are already there. But they will be aggravated by Trump’s plan to cut personal and corporate taxes. By independent estimates, those cuts will amount to more than $6 trillion over the next decade. Given that Trump has no clear plans to cut net expenditures, the U.S. budget deficit will soar.

A family court judge ruled the situation was 'entirely lawful' and Kyle Casson has been allowed to adopt the baby — his son but also, legally, his brother
A family court judge ruled the situation was 'entirely lawful' and Kyle Casson has been allowed to adopt the baby — his son but also, legally, his brotherA British mother has helped her 24-year-old son become a father by carrying his child as a surrogate. In the procedure, the first of its kind, Anne-Marie Casson, 46, became pregnant using a donor egg fertilized by her son Kyle’s sperm. Kyle, gay and single, had wanted to be a father "for some considerable time." After surrogacy clinics across the country turned him away, and a female relative who had volunteered to be the carrier developed medical difficulties, Ms. Casson and her husband, Alan, decided she should step in and be the surrogate mother. A family court judge ruled the situation was "entirely lawful" and Kyle has been allowed to adopt the baby — his son but also, legally, his brother. Lawyers point out that family members are increasingly acting as surrogates in the U.K., but the Cassons’ case is unique: Kyle is the first single man in the country to have a child through surrogacy and the first to use his mother as the carrier. "I cried and cried," said Kyle, describing his happiness at his son Miles’s birth. "I could not believe it." [protected-iframe id="4a9d6b61b54b97de2c356038a98316fc-37979189-35425974" info="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/embed/video/1165215.html" width="620" height="403" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"] The Cassons’ case has ignited huge controversy: the procedure may have taken place in the sterile surroundings of an IVF lab, but the participants’ consanguinity raises the spectre of one of the few remaining taboos — incest. Twitter reaction to the story ranged from "nothing wrong with this" to "gross," "disgusting" and "selfish." Robert Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, spoke of his "many concerns and worries" about the case. Jill Kirby, a social policy analyst, finds it "very disturbing that any mother would consider it healthy or appropriate to give birth to her son’s child. What is even more worrying is that the High Court has granted the son an adoption order, partly based on the ‘closeness’ of the relationship between the family members involved." Ms. Casson countered these attacks by pointing out that Miles "is not biologically tied to me, other than he’s my grandson. I love being a parent and for Kyle to experience that. I would do this for him." She and Kyle have said that friends have been overwhelmingly supportive. [related_links /] Lawyer Natalie Gamble, whose firm was involved in the Cassons’ case, said surrogacy using close family members has become commonplace. "We have seen many instances where sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins, help one another out in this fashion," she says. "It is difficult to speak of precise numbers, but U.K. law, which does not permit advertising for a surrogate or for a surrogate to offer her services, is pushing couples to look among family members for surrogacy." For Ms. Gamble, the only issue raised by the Cassons’ case is a legal one. "U.K. law does not allow singles, like the son [Kyle] in this case, to apply for a parental order, or birth certificate; so the young man had to apply for an adoption order instead," she says. 'I love being a parent and for Kyle to experience that. I would do this for him' She is campaigning to change the law, which she says condemns children to forfeit "a U.K. birth certificate which reflects their true parentage, and instead must either become adopted children, or live in limbo without resolved legal status." A report described how baby Miles, now eight months old, "clearly has formulated a secure attachment to the father," adding: "The father understands that the child will need to know about how he was conceived and feels that he will utilize the security of the family structure to support his son in understanding that he is a very much wanted child." The Cassons’ case has set a precedent. More and more unconventional conceptions like theirs are likely to ensue. "I did not choose to be gay. I was born that way. I was born unable to have kids,’’ said Kyle Casson. ‘‘Being a dad was a high priority in my life and now I have done it."

Supply-siders will argue that the tax cuts will spur economic growth enough to cover the deficits, but history suggests otherwise. When Ronald Reagan became president in 1980 pledging trickle-down benefits, the deficit was 2.5 per cent of GDP; by the time he left, it was five per cent. Notably, Reagan presided over a recession from mid-1981 to late 1982. For the early part of that recession, inflation ran in the double digits.

Of course, that was a different time. But Trump’s economic vision includes other elements that may well result in both higher inflation and lower growth.

One of them is his anti-immigration stance, which would kick people out of jobs that domestic workers don’t want.

Another is his protectionist bent, which includes punitive tariffs on imports from Mexico, China and potentially Canada, among others. Trump claims these measures protect jobs. But even if we accept that (I don’t), somebody has to pay for them. Generally, consumers foot the bill, in the form of higher prices. Again, history: In 1980, successively more restrictive tariffs and quotas on carbon steel cost consumers more than $85,000 for every job saved. That’s nearly $250,000 in today’s dollars.

Let’s not forget that consumers comprise two-thirds of the U.S. economy. They are the least likely to benefit from Trump’s tax cuts, although the wealthy will do very well. They are already at or near full employment, suggesting there aren’t many more jobs to be gained from stimulus. If rates rise, and inflation ramps up, everything will be more expensive for them. Wages may go up, but probably not fast enough to keep up with inflation, nor modestly enough to leave corporate profits unscathed. That will hinder, not help, growth.

Of course, it’s possible Trump’s economic “plan” will result in higher growth and acceptably higher inflation. Maybe the U.S. can avoid rampant consumer price increases and higher deficits. Maybe a recession isn’t around the corner. We’ll see.

But in the meantime, let’s not pretend that the lessons of history can’t apply in the brave new world of President Trump.

21 Nov 17:28

‘A fresh start’: Wind rebranded as Freedom Mobile, promises to free customers from contracts

by Emily Jackson

TORONTO — Wind Mobile is changing its name to Freedom Mobile in an attempt to ditch lingering baggage associated with its brand before it launches its new LTE network in its biggest markets, Toronto and Vancouver.

Freedom Mobile
Freedom MobileFreedom Mobile's new mascot.

The Freedom brand unveiled Monday reflects a shift under Wind’s new owner, Shaw Communications Inc., which has spent millions on network upgrades since it bought the wireless upstart for $1.6 billion almost a year ago.

“It was a chance for a fresh start with fresh new owners and a fresh new network,” CEO Alek Krstajic said in an interview on the new brand, which aims for likeability with a teddy bear mascot named Freddy and an upbeat jingle.

“It’s hard to say, ‘I don’t like Freedom,’” Krstajic joked.

Wind is trying to distance itself from the old Wind branding as it rolls out its LTE network in two markets on Nov. 27, well ahead of schedule, with an expected completion of fall 2017 across its entire footprint.

Poor network quality and customer service problems plagued Wind when it entered the market seven years ago as part of the Conservatives’ push for four competitors in each market. But Shaw gave it a chance to change its reputation by investing $121 million on network upgrades in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta in the first six months after the deal closed. Wind surpassed one million subscribers this summer.

While the Big Three still have network and handset advantages — Wind customers will need new handsets to use Freedom’s LTE network since most phones are not yet compatible with the AWS-3 spectrum band it uses — Krstajic said the upgrades help level the playing field.

It was a chance for a fresh start with fresh new owners and a fresh new network

Freedom will continue to push Ottawa for advantages for smaller wireless competitors in the upcoming 600 MHz spectrum auction, Krstajic said.

“The three incumbents have had a big head start, they were given their big tranches of spectrum for free 30 years ago,” he said. “In order for us to be able to survive and have a sustainable offering, we need low band spectrum.”

Shaw plans to launch its own mobile service eventually, Krstajic said, but for now is setting up Freedom as a less expensive flanker brand, similar to Rogers-owned Fido and Telus’ Koodo.

“We’ve been pretty clear there’s going to be a need for two brands,” he said, although he kept silent on the timing.

Meantime, Freedom will follow Wind’s strategy with plans at an implicit discount to the incumbents. There are no plans for “crazy discounting,” Krstajic said, noting that the new entrants went bankrupt when monthly plans were in the $20 price range.

Freedom’s flagship plan will cost $45 per month for unlimited talk and text and 6 GB of data.

Analysts welcomed the rebranding and the earlier-than-expected LTE launch.

The announcement was a “milestone” that will give the carrier a shot at attracting more profitable customers in time for the holiday shopping season, Scotiabank analyst Jeff Fan wrote in a note to clients. Shaw will also save money on the increasingly costly licensing agreement with former Wind owner Vimpelcom to use the Wind brand, he wrote.

Barclays analyst Phillip Huang noted the decision not to use the Shaw brand for wireless indicates it will take some time to close the network quality gap with the Big Three.
“Rebranding to Shaw would dilute the brand for its cable business,” Huang wrote.

The announcement comes just before the federal government is expected to make a decision on whether to approve Bell’s proposed acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Services. That could take the number of wireless players in Manitoba down to three.

Huang wrote that Shaw’s investments outside its traditional footprint “may reflect some success with lobbying the government in entering other markets” such as Manitoba.

Financial Post
ejackson@postmedia.com
Twitter.com/theemilyjackson

21 Nov 17:26

Google and other tech giants are rushing to invest in new Montreal artificial intelligence research lab

by Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — Artificial intelligence, once relegated to the realm of science fiction, is now found in everything from translation services to virtual assistants to video games.

And as companies race to develop self-driving cars and offer increasingly personalized online experiences, they’re building on research that was largely pioneered by a group of Canadian researchers who are still attracting plenty of attention and investment dollars.

Montreal, in particular, has developed a concentration of expertise in the area of AI, largely thanks to the efforts of Universite de Montreal professor Yoshua Bengio, head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA).

“(AI) will affect pretty much every economic sector; right now is just the tip of the iceberg,” Bengio told The Canadian Press.

“One of the things we are going to see more of is how these technologies affect how we interact with computers.”

As a result of its research, Bengio says the institute has attracted interest from “most of the major IT companies,” some of which have also provided funding.

Now, tech giant Google is jumping in, investing $4.5 million over three years to support the institute’s research, as well as opening an AI research group at its Montreal office.

This comes on the heels of the Canadian government announcing an investment of more than $200 million in three Montreal universities — including Bengio’s — to create a learning hub to explore artificial intelligence and big data.

Cole Burston/Bloomberg
Cole Burston/BloombergGoogle Canada's engineering headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.

Shibl Mourad, the head of engineering for Google’s Montreal office, says the company hopes to help turn the city into a “super-cluster” of AI knowledge that will attract corporate investors, burgeoning startups and researchers.

He said much of the credit goes to Bengio and his colleagues, whose research over the last decade has put the city ahead of its competitors.

“Their contribution was foundational,” he said.

Had these researchers not invested that decade of their lives, “we would not be where we are,” Mourad said.

The lab Bengio leads is one of the largest in the world dedicated to studying Deep Learning, one of the underpinnings of AI.

Over the past decade, they learned that by layering several “neural networks” that mimic how the brain works, computer programs could “learn” to solve complex problems on their own instead of needing to be programmed step-by-step.

At some point you’ll just talk to computers and they’ll understand what you want and what you need

By analyzing a large number of examples, the program could eventually learn to identify patterns — such recognizing objects in photos or language patterns.

This fundamental research has led to breakthroughs in translation programs, personal assistance, “smart” cameras and self-driving cars, among others, Bengio says.

“At some point you’ll just talk to computers and they’ll understand what you want and what you need,” he said. “It may take years, but we’re clearly going in that direction.”

Bengio says AI knowledge also has broad applications in the medical field, and could be used to help doctors read scans, research and diagnose conditions, or sift through the massive amount of information contained in the human genome.

In the short term, he’s hoping the new investments will help Montreal “capitalize on its advance” by attracting corporations and startups to set up in the city — hopefully reversing the brain drain that has seen many of the brightest researchers leave to find employment elsewhere.

He says its a hopeful sign that former Montrealer Hugo Larochelle will be returning to the city to head up Google’s new research group.

“We’d like to see more of that, and we’d like to attract people who aren’t Canadians to Montreal,” he said.

The Canadian Press

21 Nov 17:21

2 Key Factors that Distinguish Satisfying Content from Forgettable Ideas

by Stefanie Flaxman

Have you ever read a blog post, listened to a podcast episode, or watched a video and thought: “I kind...

The post 2 Key Factors that Distinguish Satisfying Content from Forgettable Ideas appeared first on Copyblogger.

21 Nov 17:20

Beware of the Dark Side of Marketing Performance Measurement

by David Dodd

illustration-for-091116-post

“Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side.”

For the past several years, marketers have faced growing pressure to prove the value of their activities and programs. As a result, they are placing greater emphasis on measuring the performance of marketing tactics, channels, and programs, and some marketing leaders are allocating budgets and basing marketing mix decisions on performance measures.

Overall, this has been a positive development. It’s hard to argue that marketers shouldn’t track and measure the performance of their activities, and use performance metrics to guide marketing investments. Common sense says that this approach should lead to better marketing decisions.

But there’s a potential dark side to the current fixation on marketing performance measurement. The problem arises when the ability to measure a marketing activity becomes the primary criterion for determining its value.

When taken to the extreme, this way of thinking can lead marketers to choose marketing tactics based largely on ease of measurement. As a recent blog post put it, “While marketers once accepted as fact that they didn’t know which half of their budget was wasted, today they’ve done a 180 and believe that if it can’t be measured, it’s not worth doing.”

I can understand why marketers are tempted to think this way. After all, in an environment where proving the value of your work can mean the difference between keeping or losing your job, marketing methods that are easily measured can appear to be the safe choice.

But making ease of measurement the prime criterion for determining value is short-sighted and ultimately dangerous. It’s a classic example of the McNamara Fallacy at work. The McNamara Fallacy was named for Robert McNamara, the US Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. The term was coined by the noted social scientist Daniel Yankelovich, who described it this way:

“The first step is to measure whatever can easily be measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can’t be easily measured really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.”

Ironically, some of our efforts to improve marketing performance measurement have also exacerbated its dark side. For example, most marketers are now focused on measuring the impact of marketing activities on revenues. So, we’re now constructing complex attribution models in an attempt to assign revenue dollars to specific marketing activities.

Measuring the performance of marketing activities that produce quick results is relatively easy. It’s much harder to measure the performance of marketing activities that may not bear fruit for months or even years. For example, the content that you create and publish this year can produce a positive impression in the mind of a potential buyer, and that impression can influence a buying process that won’t even begin for a year or more. Likewise, some of the sales you closed this year were probably due, at least in part, to marketing activities and programs that you ran last year .

In a recent interview, David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, described the importance of long-term effects in these terms: “You do well this year, not because of what you’re doing this year, but because of what you did in the previous 5 years.”

Marketing activities with long gestation periods, and those whose impacts are several steps removed from the final buying decision can be very difficult to measure. But many of these activities are vitally important for marketing success. Unfortunately, when we fixate on ease of measurement, we can end up under-investing in these critical marketing activities.

As Albert Einstein purportedly wrote on his blackboard: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Illustration courtesy of Kory Westerhold via Flickr CC.

21 Nov 17:20

How to Write a Killer Cold Email Campaign – The First Message

by Marta Zalewska

Creating a successful cold email campaign is the Holy Grail of a cold mailing. It’s also a pain.

It takes a ton of time, effort, nerves and a slight caffeine overdose to craft a masterpiece.

And yet, when you click send and wait for a tsunami of positive replies nothing happens… I bet you’ve experienced this at least once.

After a year in a company that lives off cold email campaigns, I’ve learned that there may not be a universal email template that converts everyone but with a few simple steps you can achieve great results.

In a cold email campaign, testing is everything

The first thing that you should always keep in mind, whether this is your first cold email campaign or you’ve already sent hundreds of messages, is that each target and each prospect is different. There is no single message that will be effective in every market for every product.

The only thing that will get you consistent results is constant testing. Improve your templates, compare results and remember to only test one part at a time – this way you will be able to see which approach works better. This may sound a bit overwhelming at first but don’t worry, we’ve outlined the essential guidelines to help you craft your killer cold email campaign.

Subject line

The ultimate goal of your cold email campaign is to turn a cold prospect into a paying customer. But before you can persuade anyone with well-written email copy and a great offer, you first have to convince them to open your email. And that’s why a subject line can either save or kill your whole cold email campaign.

Never forget to:

  • Personalize – If you include the prospect’s first name in the subject line, it’s less likely that email clients will flag your message as spam. Plus, it will grab a prospect’s attention if they see their name among a sea of impersonal email.
  • Keep it as short as possible – It’s best to keep it less than five words. Long subject lines look salesy.
  • Never mislead your prospects! – It may give you higher open rates but once they see that your email and subject line have nothing in common they will either: a. completely lose interest in your product, b. report you as spam, or c. give you bad press.
  • Avoid using ‘salesy’ words Terms such as ‘buy’ or ‘offer’ trigger spam and that’s not how you want to be perceived. You can check which words should be avoided here.
  • Make it casual – You can write a question or an unfinished sentence. Another idea is writing subject lines completely in lowercase letters.
  • Send up to 3-4 messages in one thread – Try to make it continuous but once you see that one approach is not working switch it to something a bit different. Remember, always be testing.

The Preview

The subject line is only one element that encourages a prospect to open your email. Another crucial part is the preview. The preview is the opening of your email that’s already visible in the inbox before clicking on the message. It’s crucial for getting your message opened so remember to:

  • NEVER start with describing you or your company! – Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes for a second. Would you care about some stranger’s name and occupation? Probably not.
  • Start with something you have in common – Mention a conference you both attended, the same type of company, anything that will make them feel like you’re not just a random person but someone who understands them. When they see that in their inbox they will be more willing to read your email
  • Make a personal touch – Write like their friend, not a salesperson. One technique we like to use is to write your email to a friend you actually know first. This will help you keep the content real and conversational.
  • Address a problem – Mention a problem which can be solved by your product which shows you understand and can relate to their pain. This approach is called the ‘event’ and is one of the most effective in the cold mailing. It appeals to both a recipient’s head and heart – you can make their job easier and spare them stress and time.

The Body

After writing the opening it’s time to get to the meat of the message – the body. Most people don’t read emails (especially sales emails) thoroughly. How do we know that? One day I sent a draft of a cold email campaign with an internal note in the message to 300 people (I know, it was stupid. Lesson learned). But I still received replies from people who praised my message. Conclusion? Prospects just skim emails and decide if your offer is worth their time if something catches their attention. So remember:

  • Keep it as short as possible – Most of the people check their email on mobile devices and don’t bother to even skim long messages. Your first contact should be about getting their attention.
  • Use more paragraphs – They make the message clearer, easier to read, and help you keep it better organized.
  • Make your keywords stand out – Putting keywords in bold, italics, or underlining them will draw their attention to the most important points. However, be careful not to overuse it because the message may look sloppy and unclear.
  • Use bullet points or lists – List the 3 most important benefits or features to highlight the most important points to the reader.
  • Use short, simple sentences – Three simple sentences are easier to tackle than one long elaborate sentence. This is especially true for non-technical readers in your market.
  • Try to keep it casual – Try to make it sound like you’re sending a message to your friend or colleague.
  • Use positive language – Avoid using negative terms as they are counter-effective. Show the profits your product can generate by creating a positive image of your company and product.

Write the body of the email so it is worth the time of the person reading it.

The Pitch

Another critical component of your email copy is the pitch. You are selling, so you need to communicate how special your offer is.

  • Sell value – Remember to always put emphasis on ‘you’ and ‘your’ rather that ‘I’, ‘me’, or our’.
  • Keep it casual – Just like the rest of the message.
  • Focus on BENEFITS, not features – Emails should serve the customer not the product. So show the results that your product will deliver and not just the cool bells and whistles of the product. Start with the “why” not the “how”.
  • Don’t reveal all of your cards in one message – If you do, it won’t be clear what the most important point is and you won’t have anything new to add in following messages.
  • Use numbers – They stand out in plain text, draw attention, and give solid information about your product.
  • Give social proof – Show how you’ve helped other companies, preferably ones that are similar to your prospect. Talk about how you specifically solved their problems.

The Call-To-Action

After you’ve addressed the problem and showed the solution, you need to guide the prospect to where they can learn more about your offer (and buy). It’s time for your Call-To-Action.

Your Call-To-Action (or CTA) should be:

  • Short – Choose one consistent CTA, it’s easier for the receiver to know what to do.
  • Direct – Propose a date of the call or meeting. You may also give some options for the prospect to choose but remember to stick to one action.
  • Specific – The more specific you are, the more tangible the offer becomes. The more tangible the offer, the more likely someone is to take action.

The PS

Last but certainly not least, is the PS. And please never underestimate it. The PS is one of the most frequently read parts of an email.

It significantly stands out, after your signature, from the rest of the message which makes it a great place to give some additional info. You should include something important about your product, company or offer. Be sure to keep it short – don’t ruin the advantage of PS by adding more than one or two short sentences.

21 Nov 17:16

Wall Street is finding ways to make money off your every move

by Rachael Levy

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron poses for a selfie with young entrepreneurs, during an event with members of StartUp Britain at Number 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, in this June 23, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/Files

Wall Street is finding ways to make money off your every move

Investment firms like hedge funds are big buyers of so-called "alternative data."  That's data that comes from the apps we use, the online shops we buy from, and the GPS tracking within our smartphones.

This info helps investors figure out where to put their money and gives insight into, for instance, how stocks will perform – which companies will continue to rake in cash, and which ones are likely to flop.

The market for this data is expected to double in the next five years in the US, from $200 million today to $400 million, according to a recent TABB Group report. The amount of data that can be packaged into investment insights is expected to increase as our devices and apps glean more info from us. 

"The deployment of billions of sensors that can monitor any type of device, from fridges to gas tanks, will significantly increase the quantity and quality of data that is made available for analysis," the report said.

Below are some of the ways vendors are tracking your spending and tastes, according to the report.

SEE ALSO: There's a new breed of trader on Wall Street, and they're becoming the new 'masters of the universe'

Satellites are tracking cars in store parking lots

It's already common for satellites to track the number of cars in shops' parking lots. This helps investors figure out which stores are popular – or which companies may be having layoffs if fewer cars are showing up.

Investors used to track this kind of data manually, so satellite imagery is a big step up in terms of efficiency.

This imagery is also expected to get better, with better detail of objects on the ground. Drones and airplanes are expected to provide higher resolution images, too.

The photos can even help determine the health of the soil and agriculture on the ground. That's particularly valuable to commodities investors that bet on factors like crop yields.



Shopping receipts in your email inbox are being monitored

They say nothing in life is free. That goes for the apps that organize our emails, send us coupons and help process refunds. In turn, those free apps may sell the data that we produce.

One of the big sources in this category is receipts. Investors are already using anonymous data gleaned from credit card statements, but the rise of online shopping, and the digital receipts we get in our email, is a boon. That's because emailed receipts are usually itemized, giving investors greater detail into what people are buying.

This type of data sharing should increase, since online shopping is expected to grow. At the same time, brick and mortar stores are also increasingly sending digital receipts.

The data doesn't come without its challenges. For one, receipt data may be biased to a particular demographic or age group – i.e. those that are most likely to shop online. This type of tracking is also harder to implement in Europe, which has stricter privacy rules than the US.



Your phone is tracking the shops you're going to

More than 90% of purchases are still made in brick and mortar stores.

Cell phones, and the location tracking within them, can help investors figure out who is shopping where.

Social media apps like FourSquare have already predicted earnings results, by tracking how many people were going in to a store.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
21 Nov 17:15

Here's what will happen if Amazon tries to sell new cars online in the US (AMZN)

by Matthew DeBord

Amazon Vehicles

Business Insider's Eugene Kim reported last week on Amazon's desire to sell cars online

The internet giant is rolling out a program in Italy, in partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, that appears to be aimed at initiating transactions for car dealers, then turning them over for the finishing touches.

This makes sense in Europe, where many buyers spec out their vehicles before taking delivery.

However, if Amazon hopes to supplant car dealers in the US and sell new vehicles online, it should drop that plan immediately. Car dealers will never stand for it, even if consumers might love the idea.

The only way to sell new cars in the US is to own a car dealership as a franchise. Tesla is an exception in over 20 states where it has established stores as a manufacturer selling direct to consumers, but it has been stalled in other states, and in any case, the automaker isn't currently big enough to be a threat to car dealers nationally.

Rather than taking on car dealers — an undertaking that's rife with failures, as the major automakers have discovered when they've tried to do it, even before the internet came along — Amazon will probably pitch itself as a generator of very high-quality sales leads.

How it might work

Buyers will likely visit the Amazon Vehicles site, research a new car, maybe even start to spec one out, and then be presented with dealership, financing, and insurance options. This package will then the passed along by Amazon to a local car dealers or dealer network that's partnered with the program, in order to complete the deal. 

Amazon will pocket a fee if the sales goes through, and the dealer will get the sale.

This is already an established online business, with a variety of auto-information sites generating dealer leads.

There is a potential problem, however, with Amazon's entry into this business: pricing.

In Italy, a 30% discount is being applied to sales. Dealers in the US might accept a price cut like that for very slow-selling models, but if the leads that Amazon passes on to them for other vehicles are so substantially discounted, dealers will lose too much money. If they're flooded with el-cheapo leads, then they won't want to participate in the program.

What about Amazon at some point becoming a true direct-seller of new cars?

car dealership

Again, the discounting could be a problem. Amazon would have to buy new vehicles from carmakers and devise ways of delivering that inventory to customers. It would in effect become a car dealer in its own right. If it moved into insurance and financing, it would eventually have to build physical dealerships. 

There are some car mega-dealers in the US who might see that as a pretty big threat and would use their influence and the state and federal level to block it. The automakers would get sucked in and have to choose sides, and if history is any lesson, they'd choose the dealers. 

From the consumer side, Amazon.cars might sound great, but car buyers' longstanding issues with car dealers are actually economically counterproductive. The price is never set in stone. Everything is negotiable — and ultimately the dealer has four key goals: sell you a car; sell you a car loan (or get you to lease the car); sell you insurance; and get you back to the dealership for service and eventually a trade in.

If you walk off the lot over something as trivial as price, then the dealer achieves none of those goals.

The car-buying process is intimidating, especially for first-time buyers, so people think that they internet will somehow save them from the struggle. But the internet already helps them, by greatly increasing their ability to research vehicles and sales information, to come to the dealership with a solid idea of what they should pay.

What companies like Amazon really want to do is aggregate potential buyers in large numbers so that they can create a mass discount market. But Amazon probably already knows that both dealers and carmakers wouldn't stand for this, so it's reasonable to assume that buying a new car directly from Amazon won't ever happen. 

SEE ALSO: Amazon is going to sell cars online

Join the conversation about this story »

21 Nov 17:10

23 Sales Podcasts Every Rep Should Listen To

by afrost@hubspot.com (Aja Frost)
After a long day at the office, Netflix is usually more appealing than cracking open a sales book or streaming a sales training video on YouTube.

Fortunately, there's a simpler way to learn new sales techniques without having to set aside extra time in your day -- through podcasts.

The next time you're walking the dog, commuting, exercising, cleaning, or doing any other task that doesn't require mental energy, pop in your earbuds, press "Play," and learn from sales leaders and experts.

1. Conversations with Women in Sales

Dedicated to becoming the best resource in the world for female sales professionals, Barb Giamanco's podcast is a platform for female sales leaders to share their stories. Episodes highlight leadership, career management, overcoming adversity, and more -- all featuring female executives you need to hear from.

Notable Episodes:

2. Your Sales MBA Podcast

Looking for a podcast with actionable advice? Look no further. Aparo and Hoffman produce weekly shows that dive into how to craft the perfect pitch, maneuver tire-kicking, and close deals faster -- a perfect listen for the rep who's actively selling and looking to scale their skill set.

Notable Episodes

3. B2B Growth Show

This daily podcast is geared toward helping B2B sales executives achieve growth. Learn about sales team management, creative business development strategies, time-saving sales tools, B2B strategic partnerships, aligning sales with marketing, effective prospecting, negotiation techniques, and more.

Notable Episodes:

4. The Advanced Selling Podcast

This podcast focuses on tactical tips and techniques you can implement immediately. One week, Caskey and Neale discuss lead generation; the next, they talk about communicating value or resolving objections about price.

You can get even more out of this podcast by downloading its app, which'll give you access to bonus content and the ability to ask the hosts questions. Listeners can also join the LinkedIn group for the opportunity to connect with other sales professionals and swap advice.

Notable Episodes:

  • How Not to Annoy Your Prospects: In this episode, Caskey and Neale interview the head of a digital agency to learn buyers' biggest pet peeves.
  • Commission Detachment: While money is always a powerful incentive in sales, reps must also genuinely want to help prospects. This episode covers techniques for balancing your motivations.

5. Women in Tech Podcast

  • Hosts: Espree Devora is producer of "The Girl who Gets it Done," host of "WeAreLaTech.fm," "Uniting LA Startups," and, of course, "WomeninTech.fm."
  • Length: 20-60 minutes
  • Listen on: Player.fm | iTunes

Get inspired by just a few of the top female executives in tech. You'll get tips on how to excel in your career, promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, empower yourself as an independent business owner, and more.

Notable Episodes:

6. Sales Gravy

Excited about the idea of podcasts, but not sure when you'd have the time to actually listen to them? Try the Sales Gravy podcast. Most of its episodes are around five minutes, so you can easily fit them into your schedule.

Blount consistently shares practical and inspiring advice on everything from overcoming your fear of rejection to doubling your callback rate.

Notable Episodes:

  • 3 Steps New Sales Managers Should Take Now: Transitioning from an individual contributor to a team leader is challenging -- especially in the sales world. Discover the three things you should do when you first make the jump.

7. The Salesman Podcast

If you're eager to learn more about the role of influence, body language, and psychology in sales, subscribe to this almost-daily podcast. Sales professionals at all levels will find value in Barron's interviews. He has a knack for asking questions and letting his guests take center stage.

Along with sales leaders like Dave Kurlan and Trish Bertuzzi, you'll hear from former FBI agents, Stanford University professors, and startup CEOs. Barron's questions are designed to elicit tactical advice you can implement right away.

Notable Episodes:

8. Sales Success Stories

This podcast features interviews with the top 1% of sales professionals. Scott uncovers everything about the best sales professionals, including their favorite sales books, habits, routines, and tips.

Scott not only continues to produce a continuous stream of interviews with top performers but has also built the Sales Success Community to help listeners connect with like-minded sales achievers.

Notable Episodes:

9. In the Arena

On this podcast, sales expert Anthony Iannarino interviews well-known sales professionals from both B2B and B2C companies. The topics run the gamut from social selling and sales automation to balancing your priorities and eliminating excuses.

Every guest provides a fresh perspective on sales, making this show a great choice if you want to expand your knowledge.

Notable Episodes:

10. The Ziglar Show -- Inspiring Your True Performance

This top-ranked business podcast is focused on self-improvement. Each week, Ziglar and Miller spend roughly 30 minutes to an hour exploring new ways to improve your career.

Most of the episodes are inspired by Zig Ziglar's philosophy; however, they're not explicitly focused on sales topics. To give you an idea, past subjects have included positive peer pressure, meditation, and purposeful procrastination.

Notable Episodes:

  • Sell With a Story -- Paul Smith: If you want prospects to remember your points, Paul Smith (yes, the same Paul Smith from #6. recommends framing them in stories.

11. The Sales Evangelist

Enjoy tips and actionable wisdom from a B2B sales pro who knows how to hustle in this daily podcast. Sales trainer Donald Kelly interviews experts in sales, business, and marketing, so you can learn how to take your career up a notch.

Notable Episodes:

  • Rethinking the Way You Sell: Sales expert Jeff Bajorek talks salesperson-centric versus customer-centric selling, the power of connection, strategies for scaling, and more.

12. Bowery Capital Startup Sales Podcast

  • Host: Rotating hosts from the Bowery Capital team, an early-stage venture capital firm focusing on technology startups
  • Length: 25-45 minutes
  • Listen on: iTunes

This podcast focuses on the unique challenges of startup sales. However, its tips are applicable whether you're working at a young company or a large-scale enterprise. Previous episodes have delved into subjects like writing emails that convert, perfecting your sales script, and balancing personalization with automation.

Like what you hear? Bowery Capital has been producing this show since 2014, so there's a lot in the archives.

Notable Episodes:

13. Accelerate!

Six times a week, Paul interviews sales giants like Jeffrey Gitomer, Robert Cialdini, and Jill Konrath. You'll learn strategic insights to generate value for your customers and advance your career.

Notable Episodes:

  • What Do Buyers Want From Sellers: Deb Calvert, president of People First Productivity Solutions, breaks the code of how to tell what buyers really want from salespeople.

14. Get in the Door: Sales Prospecting Strategies & Tactics

Get in the Door is a podcast that focuses exclusively on helping you connect with new accounts. During each episode, host Steve Kloyda interweaves practical suggestions with examples and stories taken from his own sales career. Kloyda believes strongly in serving the customer and thinking about the "why" behind your goals.

Notable Episodes:

15. The Sales Babble Podcast

This show features selling tips for small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs. Helmers explains sales concepts in easy-to-understand, plain language.

The topics range from broad (prospecting, setting the right mindset, winning referrals. to specific (selling new or unproven products, pitching startups, selling to government institutions, and so on..

Notable Episodes:

16. The Jordan Harbinger Show

If you can't form genuine connections with your prospects, you'll probably struggle. But all hope isn't lost if you're not naturally charismatic. Harbinger says he was lacking the social skills he needed to advance professionally -- so he decided to learn them. Now, he shares his insights with his podcast audience.

Each episode features several fresh, research-backed tips from guests like Simon Sinek, Nilofer Merchant, and David Burkus.

Notable Episodes:

17. Sell or Die

Together, Gitomer and Gluckow have created a podcast that centers around the art and science of selling.

They invite leaders in sales, marketing, and personal development to join the conversation on each episode leading to lively discussions on dealing with rejection, artificial intelligence in sales, and more.

Notable Episodes:

  • The Toughest Sale: Gitomer interviews insurance industry expert Mark Steinberg as they discuss the toughest sales in their careers.

18. Sales Pipeline Radio

Have you caught the latest wave in sales growth? Industry favorite Matt Heinz is here to help. Each episode features an expert in B2B sales or marketing.

Learn about driving greater volume, velocity and conversion of sales pipelines, from demand gen to lead management and more. The goal? To help you find, manage, and win more business.

Notable Episodes:

19. Make It Happen Mondays -- B2B Sales with John Barrows

  • Host: John Barrows, founder of JBarrows Sales Training
  • Length: 30 minutes
  • Listen on: iTunes

This sales podcast is recorded live on Facebook every Monday and covers everything in the sales cycle from calling to closing, along with career growth and success topics. Each episode features actionable takeaways and anecdotes from John's career.

Notable Episodes:

20. The Sales Podcast

Host Wes Schaeffer answers questions about growing your sales, inbound selling, and the entrepreneurial mindset. Looking for a straightfoward, practical take on sales? This is your podcast.

Notable Episodes:

  • Michelle Weinstein is the Pitch Queen: Shark Tank veteran Michelle Weinstein shares her tips on adding value on top of value, anticipating and addressing objections in your pitch, and her secrets for practicing.

21. SaaStr

Hear weekly interviews of the most prominent operators and investors on how to attain success in the world of SaaS. You'll learn how to get from $0 to $100m ARR, how to scale, and how to hire. Sales, investing, and entrepreneurial tips meld effortlessly in this industry-favorite podcast.

Notable Episodes:

22. Conquer Local with George Leith

If selling to local businesses is your game, this weekly podcast is chock-full of tips and strategies that make it easier. In each episode, George Leith interviews sales leaders and talks about his own 30 years of experience in the industry.

Notable Episodes:

  • Rank Fishkin: Startup struggles & sales strategies: In this episode, George sits down with Rand Fishkin to talk about his experience growing Moz, and what he learned as an entrepreneur and CEO. Plus, Fishkin has a ton of valuable advice to improve your sales strategies.

23. The Failure Factor

  • Hosts: Megan Bruneau, therapist, executive coach, and Forbes contributor
  • Length: Approximately one hour
  • Listen on: iTunes | TuneIn

For salespeople, fear might look like worrying that if miss your quota again, you'll lose your job. Fear is part of a salesperson's career, and therapist Megan Bruneau has strategies to help you do more than cope with it. She shares how listeners can capitalize off their failures to achieve fulfillment and success.

Notable Episodes:

Roughly one in five U.S. adults say they're monthly podcast listeners. If you're not already one of them, the shows on this list might convert you. For more sales resources, listen to our playlist of motivational songs next.

21 Nov 16:41

Do I Choose An Inbound Or Outbound Marketing Strategy For Lead Generation?

by Lewis Stowe

Do I choose an inbound or outbound marketing strategy for lead generation?

Should I pursue an inbound or outbound marketing strategy?

Have you ever asked this question? Your business depends on getting leads to convert into sales and you have limited resources with which to do it.

I am in a unique position to answer this question as I work on inbound strategy for a company whose solution helps other companies maximize the effectiveness of their outbound marketing strategies. How does that work?

I’ll let you in on a little secret. There isn’t a single answer. Every business has different resources and needs. Inbound might be great for one business and outbound might be great for another. That said I believe that the combined use of both inbound and outbound marketing strategies will deliver the best results for most businesses.

The benefits of using an outbound marketing strategy

outbound marketing strategy

An outbound marketing strategy is for those who want, to quote Aaron Ross outbound guru, predictable revenue. An outbound marketing strategy has a few discernible benefits:

  • You start talking to clients immediately
  • Email automation helps it scale
  • Your company will see predictable growth

One of the hardest things about starting a business is uncertainty. Will people buy my product? Will I have enough funding to keep going? Can I deliver on my promises?

It’s up to you to deliver on your promises but an outbound marketing strategy can answer those first two questions.

The beauty of an outbound marketing strategy is that you have a sense of control over what you are doing. You still need to persuade people to buy your solution but you are the one who is seeking them out, not the other way around.

The first step

The first step in identifying your customers is creating an ideal customer profile. You can target the exact people who could most benefit from your product and would be most likely to buy from you, with your ICP. More importantly, you can start talking with them immediately. It beats waiting for your customers to find you. That sounds pretty tempting, right?

And that’s not even the best part. It can be done entirely through email. Why is that a benefit you ask?

  • Because emails can be automated and scaled.
  • An email has a better chance of getting past gatekeepers, going directly to the decision maker you want to connect with.
  • Depending on the tool you use, you can spend as little as five minutes a day sending out your drip campaign, compared with the hours you would need to spend calling up leads individually, only to get denied by their secretary.

So what is the result of all of this?

When done correctly, you can see predictable growth. This means that you can generally gauge your conversion rate by the number of people you have employed to do lead qualification and close deals. This all sound pretty good right?

Challenges with an outbound marketing strategy

Well, there are some challenges to consider when employing an outbound marketing strategy.

  • Costs rise in a linear fashion
  • You need high-quality prospects

Outbound does scale! Still, one person can only qualify so many leads at a time. Therefore your prospects will only grow as long as you are spending more man-hours qualifying leads.

The other big sticking point is the quality of the leads that you get. There is a lot of lead generation data out there from multiple sources. It can be a lot to sift through. The best strategy is to buy high-quality data which is up to date, as the value makes up for the extra time you need to qualify bad leads. Of course, this can cost more so you need to be prepared to shoulder this burden. Luckily there are some great tools out there to automate the process like Growbots. They provide up to date data and integrated emailing tools. So is there a way of ensuring that I get good leads which grow in an exponential fashion? There is, it’s called…

An inbound marketing strategy

outbound marketing strategy

The fact that you are reading this shows that the first stages of our inbound strategy have worked. It has a few main benefits.

  • Growth is exponential
  • It doesn’t require a huge team
  • You get very high-quality leads

You can start inbound from your first day. The difference is the amount of patience required. It usually takes half a year to really get going. If you do it right, you get showered by good leads. So how does inbound work?

A good mantra for inbound is the same one that my grandmother had for persuading people to do things, “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.” Now you may be asking, what does inbound marketing have to do with my grandmother wanting me to smile more often?

Think about it. When you smile more, people want to spend more time with you. You develop a reputation as a likable and engaging person. You will be somebody people will want to listen to and spend time with.

In the same way, inbound relies on content that people like and find engaging.

Good content

With good content,

  • You show that you have mastery of the field that you operate in.
  • Your customers will be more likely to see if your product would be a good solution for them
  • Your customers will come directly to you, unlike with outbound.

Therefore a lead generated through an inbound marketing strategy will already have some knowledge of your product and will have signaled an intent to buy. So does it require a ton of people to pull this off?

The great thing about inbound is that it only requires an individual or a small team.

As they create more content, more becomes available to draw in customers. If done correctly, the popularity of your content will increase. With a good SEO strategy, your content crawling up search rankings leads to a self-perpetuating pattern of more clicks and higher rankings. This pattern leads to exponential growth without having to grow your team exponentially. Sounds great. Why would you use any other strategy? There are a few…

Challenges with an inbound marketing strategy

While the rewards can be great there are some things you need to watch out for:

  • It takes a long time to see results
  • It requires a more skill to reach the desired outcome
  • The outcomes are less predictable

The biggest thing going against inbound is the amount of time you need to wait before you see any results. You need to make a larger upfront investment and then be prepared to wait for it to pay off.

Additionally, you need to be prepared to either spend time developing the skill set or hire someone who has it already. There is a skill set to develop with outbound as well but it is generally a bit easier to bring to a functional level.

After all that, the rate of growth is less predictable than with outbound. You can’t be certain that a piece of content will convert in the way you want it to for a while after it’s published. So which one should you choose?

Find a balance

outbound marketing strategy

It is best to employ a balanced inbound and outbound marketing strategy. There are some businesses which might work best employing exclusively outbound or inbound.

  • If you want to start growing immediately and don’t mind hiring people to qualify your leads or using a service like Growbots, outbound is a great option.
  • If you want to keep your overheads low and are willing to wait a while for your content to start paying dividends, then inbound is great for you.

Most companies that I have come in contact with fall somewhere in between. They have found it is best to use both strategies to create cost effective scalable and sustainable growth.

So how can you get these two opposing ideas to work together? It isn’t that difficult. They are two methods for achieving the same end. What is that end?

Producing qualified leads.

Let’s say you are the CEO of a startup and have just released your product. Congratulations! Let’s get you some leads to sell to. You have probably already been personally glad-handing personal contacts and people you meet at conferences. It has probably worked so far but it doesn’t scale that well. Now it’s time to establish sustainable growth.

Three things you need to do first

  1. Create an ideal customer profile
  2. Establish a blog
  3. Start scraping the web for leads or start going through Growbots’ database.

Your ideal customer profile is the person who you are going to be writing your blog and your drip campaigns to. It is very important for setting the tone for the rest of your communications so better get this one right.

Once you are done with that, start writing for your blog. Think about the topics that your customers are interested in.

Don’t use it as an advertising circular. Think of it instead as a conversation with your customers. If your conversation is good enough, they will want to learn more about you. Don’t forget to keep SEO in mind while you do it. Try to publish regularly, say at least once a week. If you can do more than that, even better!

Now don’t expect your blog to get you very far initially. You are investing in more click-throughs later on.

Think of your blog like a savings account. Each blog post is a deposit and click-throughs are compounding interest. As each post gets more click-throughs, your search ranking will go up. With higher search rankings, your click-throughs will get even higher.

Start prospecting for leads

When you are not writing your weekly blog post, you can start prospecting for leads. This process will take more time than your blog post. You should focus your efforts here because lead prospecting will be more important for creating revenue in the short term.

As soon as you start generating targeted leads, it is time to start putting together drip campaigns. Through these, you will be able to test your message by reaching out directly to your potential clients. You should start seeing results after about of month, which should turn into a predictable revenue stream.

As you make more money hire more people to prospect, all while you are writing the blog. It might even be possible to hire an additional content creator but your priority should be people to work on your outbound funnel.

Now let’s fast forward six months

outbound marketing strategy

If you put together your blog right, you are now generating strong leads from your inbound funnel which complement the steady stream from your outbound funnel. Inbound can take a few tries though so maybe you are still relying on your outbound funnel to keep your account executives busy. The beauty of combining both methods is that you never lose your revenue stream while you figure out inbound. Once you have both, you can use them together to continually sustain growth.

So how do I proceed?

  • Evaluate your needs and decide on whether you are going to pick one strategy or go for a mixed strategy
  • Create your ideal customer profile
  • Start prospecting, blogging, or both
  • Evaluate how things are going. Optimize the strategies that are working and experiment with new ideas with the strategies that aren’t

If you choose to go for an inbound marketing strategy, you can look for a blog platform here. If you choose to go for an outbound marketing strategy, you can do yourself but be aware that Growbots is a cost effective way to automate the process. Doing it manually may take you a day to prospect 200 leads and send out messages to all of them. The cool thing about Growbots is that you are able to go from prospecting to starting your drip campaign in as little as five minutes.

You can get started by reading about how to prospect, write the first email of your campaign, and write the follow-up emails as well. For those who want to supercharge their outbound marketing strategy by automating it, check out Growbots.

21 Nov 16:41

How to Use the Six ABM Processes to Align Sales and Marketing and Drive Real Results

Account-based marketing is built on six processes that flip the focus from generating leads to courting the companies you want to do business with. An added benefit: total sales and marketing alignment. Read the full article at MarketingProfs