The days in between

Calendars are obviously artificial.

Leap year isn’t a thing. Unless we want it to be.

A bonus day, to do whatever we like with.

Actually, we can have a bonus day whenever we choose, because the cadence of our days is up to us, more than we often want to admit.

If you had more time, what would you do with it?


Grain Surfboards: Building Fans by Inviting Customers into Their Inner Sanctum

Businesses that can gain the trust of their customers are poised to have incredible success.. Through my five years of research on fandom, I believe that putting the needs of customers above all else will help businesses build the trust necessary to win over consumers. 


Why do you Need Care Fees and Wealth Protection Services

Have you been worrying about writing a will so that loved ones may secure their inheritance without any hassle? Your years of hard work can pay rich dividends for your family only if they can get hold of what is deservingly theirs. Given this, it is very important to get in touch with a will writing company at the earliest. They will talk to you and assess the circumstances of your family before suggesting the way forward. With their help and timely guidance, you will find it easy to get the best products to protect the interest of all those under your care.  

You can also expect the best possible help if you’re planning to appoint a reliable entity to take care of your health, welfare, financial issues, estate, property, and business. Here, we help you figure out the need for will writing, an act that’s best left in the hands of professionals.  

 

Care Fees and Wealth Protection  

The payments for care homes are subjected to the testing of means and circumstances. However, very few people are aware that their home may not fall into the purview if it’s occupied by the surviving spouse. So, what happens if a partner has to go to care? This means that the wife or husband no longer resides in the estate or property belonging to the owner. For instance, they may also fall sick, die, or go into care. What happens in such a situation? In such a case, the property held by both partners in the capacity of ‘joint tenants’ would automatically pass to the surviving member in the marriage. Any other clause written in the will would stand overruled.  

Different problems may come to the fore when the entire wealth of the couple rests in the hand of the surviving partner residing in the care home. The value of the property in question will be considered in the means test. As per experts in will writing from Will Power Estate Protection, the real problem would surface if the property value crosses the threshold value prescribed by the means test. The surviving member becomes responsible for paying the entire care fees in such a situation. Will writing and estate protection companies come to the rescue in such a situation and can handle the care fees and other issues convincingly.  

 

Manage the Situation  

Adequate planning and foresight can decrease the probability of such a situation arising in the future. For example, professionals in will writing and estate protection can sever the property ownership from the category of a joint tenancy to that of ‘tenants in common’. They suggest and help make specific changes so that the surviving partner in a marriage can get the rightful property share without having to run from pillar to post. If you are worried about asset protection along with the writing of your will then it would help to reach out to all related services under a single roof.  

 

Protect Your Assets  

Hire specialists in care fees and wealth protection cum estate planners to create a deed of trust, transfer your property, generate an equity release or discretionary trusts, etc. It’s important to protect the interests of your family, start the process today.  


“What should we remember?”

Years from now, after this event is long over, what should we remember about it?

A week from now, when the crisis hits, what should we remember about this meeting?

Tomorrow, when the day gets busy, what would you like me to remember about the discussion we just had?

Begin with the end in mind.


How to Funnel Users Toward A Conversion

As digital marketers, we know that the best campaign is an intentional, integrated sum of all our design, content, and development efforts. However, when it comes to setting goals and evaluating performance, we can become laser-focused on the impact of a specific channel or new platform and expect stellar conversion results fresh out of the gate. It’s all too easy to lose sight of the reality that customer decision journeys are complex, cross-channel, and often non-linear.

Yet the fact that you can’t control a user pathway shouldn’t stop you from helping a potential customer find their way to your product. This requires being visible to your customers, positioning your brand in the right place at the right time throughout their decision-making journey, and optimizing their interaction with your brand in every stage of the marketing funnel.

What is the Difference Between Your Marketing Funnel and a Customer Journey?

A marketing funnel is a visualization of the stages of a customer’s engagement with your brand, from awareness through action. A customer journey is a map of all touchpoints with your brand a customer has, through searches, outbound, inbound, on-site, and off-site experiences. In many industries, the marketing funnel is used to make projections based on qualified leads, while the customer (or user) journey is most often employed to inform content and site design recommendations.

The example below of a Portent marketing funnel created in Google DataStudio aggregates data on the number of impressions (Action), unique visitors (Interest), form completions and calls (Desire), and leads and sales (Action). This dashboard helps the client understand not only their performance tied to funnel stages, but how paid channels are working together to drive awareness and ultimately, sales.

Digital Funnel Assessment in GDS that correlates levels of the funnel to performance metrics like impressions (awareness), visitors (interest), contact (desire), and leads/sales (action).Digital Funnel Assessment in GDS that correlates levels of the funnel to performance metrics like impressions (awareness), visitors (interest), contact (desire), and leads/sales (action).

In the past ten years, some businesses have moved away from the marketing funnel—except as tied to their CRM or lead stages—to focus more on a customer lifecycle. However, both of these models should be used together to evaluate an omni-channel marketing strategy for your business and industry. We can help funnel and direct potential customers toward a decision, yet we cannot force them to read a specific blog post or read all of the comparison content on a landing page before completing a form or making a purchase. The key to a successful strategy is introducing your brand to your consumers and then continuing to stay top of mind until they are ready to make a purchase.

According to McKinsey, “For most marketers, the difficult part is focusing strategies and spending on the most influential touch points. In some cases, the marketing effort’s direction must change, perhaps from focusing brand advertising on the initial-consideration phase to developing Internet properties that help consumers gain a better understanding of the brand when they actively evaluate it.”

Add to this that customers now expect a more personalized, relevant user experience, and their brand loyalty is waning. This means you need to think carefully about where to invest time and money in your marketing channels and how to evaluate not only performance, but your customer engagement over time.

How to Assess Your Marketing Funnel

Although your potential customers most often start engaging with your business at the top of the funnel, it is often easiest to evaluate your funnel and customer lifecycle and the strategies that surround them from the bottom up.

Illustration of the marketing funnel with an arrow indicating an assessment from the bottom up: action, desire, interest, then awareness.Illustration of the marketing funnel with an arrow indicating an assessment from the bottom up: action, desire, interest, then awareness.

Start by asking questions about your primary conversion KPI or, more specifically, a campaign landing page:

Action

  • What is the goal of my website/digital presence?
  • What conversion action do I want users to take (i.e., complete a form, make a purchase, demo a product, sign up for a newsletter)?
  • How consistently is this action communicated across my marketing channels in headlines and calls to action?

Desire

  • Is there comparison information I should provide about my brand versus my competitors?
  • How are verified reviews or testimonials included to help solidify the customer’s decision?
  • What award or other trust signal badges could I include?

Interest

  • Are the product descriptions clear?
  • Is my target audience(s) clear? For example, would the potential customer feel like this landing page is relevant to them?
  • What else does this user need to know about my brand to trust it?

Awareness

  • Do I answer questions about my product or services?
  • Do I share information about related topics that are relevant to my audience and industry?
  • Is my owned, earned, and paid content reflective of my brand voice and values?

Supporting Middle of the Funnel Opportunities

One of the biggest gaps for many marketers is evaluating and developing strategies to support the middle of the funnel opportunities. The awareness and action phases are much clearer and can be more easily attributed to specific channels, yet the interest and desire phases require more targeted communication and nurturing.

We naturally think about getting customers in the door and closing the sale, but there are phases in the funnel and in the user journey where the customer is still deciding.

Even if a person is a qualified lead or has a product in their cart, they still have a decision to make that could be supported or influenced by on-site or off-site content. Identify those mid-points in the funnel and decision journey for your product and industry. Then, create content that responds to customer needs in that phase of their decision-making process and promote it. Here are a few examples:

Position Your Product for Buyer’s Guides

Many project management software companies create feature-focused content on their own websites. Yet, some also use digital PR to connect with bloggers, influencers, or journalists in their industry to help make their brand visible in the SERP and relevant listings and comparison guides.

Screenshot of PC Magazine's project management software comparison guideScreenshot of PC Magazine's project management software comparison guide
Image courtesy https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-project-management-software

Create Non-Branded Comparison Content That Supports “How Do I Choose” Questions

In my search for a “trail running checklist,” I saw two featured snippets followed by two organic results: REI’s “Trail Running Gear Guide” and a listing for a specific gear brand, Salomon, linking to a blog post titled: What equipment do you need for trail running? This post is followed by links to a guide and posts on related content: how to choose your trail running shoes, how to choose a running backpack, and how to prepare your trail running backpack.

Screenshot of the title of a blog post on trail running by SalomonScreenshot of the title of a blog post on trail running by Salomon

Screenshot of the suggested related content on a blog post on trail running by SalomonScreenshot of the suggested related content on a blog post on trail running by Salomon
Images courtesy https://www.salomon.com/en-us/running/trail-running-advices/what-equipment-do-you-need-trail-running

Create Testimonials or Case Studies by Audience or Industry

Usertesting.com includes a testimonial quote above the fold on their case study page followed by sections for business to consumer, business to business, and agency case studies.

Screenshot of a testimonial quote on usertesting.comScreenshot of a testimonial quote on usertesting.com

Screenshot of a group of B2B case studies grouped together on usertesting.comScreenshot of a group of B2B case studies grouped together on usertesting.com
Images courtesy https://www.usertesting.com/resources/case-studies

What Tools Can You Use to Evaluate Your Marketing Funnel and Customer Journey?

When it comes to assessing your website content and user journey, there is no shortage of tools to help you understand how your marketing channels are working for you. At Portent, we’ve refined our list to focus on the following reports and research methodologies:

  • Google Analytics Reports
    • Conversions  – Assisted Conversions
    • Conversions – Multi-Channel Funnels – Top Conversion Paths
    • Behavior – Site Content – Exit Pages
    • Google Ads – Campaign Paths – Source/Medium
    • Behavior – Landing Pages – Source/Medium
  • Google Optimize for A/B testing on your top landing pages
  • SEMRush, Ahrefs, and GetSTAT for keyword research and identifying question queries associated with your top products and topics
  • User research through interviews, focus groups, card sorting or usertesting.com

What Channels Should You Consider When Performing Your Assessment?

The short answer is all channels. The longer answer is to begin with evaluating the channels where you’re investing the most time and money. Keep in mind that more and more of the user journey is happening on mobile devices. These days, having a site and campaign components that are mobile-friendly is not an option; it’s a requirement.

How to Optimize Your Marketing Funnel and Decision Journey

Once you’ve evaluated your strategy and identified gaps, you need to prioritize how you’ll improve your communication with potential customers across all channels.

Align your existing channels and strategies to stages in the funnel. Regardless of the sales cycle or user journey length, channels consistently align with specific stages. Yet, keep in mind that not every channel will be the most relevant fit for each business or industry.

For example, the funnel for a B2B company that wants to increase organic search visibility and brand awareness utilizing SEO, paid social and paid search, could look like this:

Illustration of the marketing funnel with examples of content at each stage to increase organic search and brand visibility. Awareness content includes news articles, blogs, videos, display banner, Facebook prospecting ads. Interest content includes non-branded search, product descriptions/features, industry applications. Desire content includes Facebook remarketing ads, branded search, reviews/testimonials, product comparisons and demos. Action content includes on-site contact form, trial signup, sales team chat.Illustration of the marketing funnel with examples of content at each stage to increase organic search and brand visibility. Awareness content includes news articles, blogs, videos, display banner, Facebook prospecting ads. Interest content includes non-branded search, product descriptions/features, industry applications. Desire content includes Facebook remarketing ads, branded search, reviews/testimonials, product comparisons and demos. Action content includes on-site contact form, trial signup, sales team chat.

Once you’ve identified the priority content and channels, you should build a roadmap that outlines how to connect these channels over time so they best align with a campaign and overall marketing strategy.

For example, SEO on-page optimizations or interlinking could take months to positively affect your organic search visibility. Yet those strategic content changes need to be implemented well before digital PR, PPC, and paid social campaigns are launched, for the channels to be adequately utilized in collaboration.

Once you have created your roadmap, implement it and evaluate your “marketing mix,” then A/B test and iterate on those tests. Keep an eye on specific channel ROI, yet look for signs that channels are working together.

Why Should You Keep The Marketing Funnel and Customer Journey Top of Mind?

Few customers will find your product all on their own: it has to be visible at multiple points during their journey. Even fewer people will find it and purchase it without distraction or further research. Competition is increasing, advertising platforms are becoming more crowded, and brand loyalty is waning.

Paying for traffic or investing in PR campaigns will only carry you so far if your website doesn’t build trust with your customers. Likewise, if your site content is thorough but the social media campaign and outbound communication it’s associated with is disjointed, you could lose loyal or potential customers.

To remain relevant and build trust with your audience, it’s essential to own and promote your brand and similarly create non-branded content on topics aligned with your brand and values.

The Wrap Up

Here are a few takeaways:

  1. Build your marketing funnel and customer journey as a framework from which to plan your campaign strategies. Know they both will evolve over time.
  2. Evaluate the performance of your marketing mix, not only individual channels, on a monthly and quarterly basis.
  3. Seek customer insights through A/B testing and feedback from your target audience and teams in communication with them. Apply what you learn to your content, budgets, and active channels.
  4. If you’re not sure where to start, ask for help:
    • Hire an agency to help with auditing your marketing channels, assessing your content strategy and building your marketing funnel and user journey
    • Work with internal teams who can provide qualitative or quantitative insight into customer engagement. Facilitate a brainstorm meeting with your product managers or ask your customer service team what is resonating in conversations with customers and where there are content gaps on your website.

As you plan and forecast your budget and assess your marketing strategy this year, remember to keep both your user’s journey and your marketing funnel in mind.

Invest time in building cross-channel content and a customer-centric approach for each marketing channel, and it will affect engagement with your brand and visibility on search engines.

The post How to Funnel Users Toward A Conversion appeared first on Portent.


“So far”/”Not yet”

What to do in the face of failure? What happens when you’ve done your best and it still doesn’t get the review, close the sale or win the race?

One approach is to embrace the easy path of “did my best” = “failure” therefore, I should give up or simply accept mediocrity.

The other, the growth mindset, is to realize that while you did your best, it’s not your best forever, it’s just what you’ve done so far. And that while you haven’t created what you set out to create, the key word, the one you have to remind yourself of daily, is yet.

That growth mindset demands advice and collisions with the marketplace. That mindset means that you need to see what those you seek to serve have to say because without that insight, your ‘yet’ might not arrive.

By all means, ignore those that aren’t in on the joke, that haven’t signed up for the journey, that don’t want to go where you want to go.

For everyone else, though, the answer is, “thanks, wait until you see what’s next.”


What does ‘better’ mean?

It’s trickier than it sounds. It’s often conflated with ‘quality’ (which means consistent adherence to spec) and ‘luxury’ (which means it costs more than it needs to).

Here’s the thing: Swedish matches are better. They might be the best in the world. They do everything a match should do–but better. They light more quickly, burn hotter, and give more match satisfaction.

Except you probably don’t have a box in your house.

Because you don’t care that much about matches.

Because for you (and for billions of non-match-loving people around the world), this sort of better isn’t your sort of better. Your sort of better, when it comes to matches, might be: free and handy.

The lesson is simple: better is always in the eye of the beholder.

 

PS Coming back by popular demand is the Story Skills Workshop, led by bestselling author Bernadette Jiwa. We open for registration on March 3rd, and you can register for more information by visiting here.

 


The Benefits of a Customer-Centric Culture

I originally wrote today’s post for Customer Contact Week (CCW). It appeared on their site on November 8, 2019.


Responsive Search Ads: What They Are, and How to Use Them

Google is always adding new options and beta features to Google Ads. From expanded text to custom intent audiences to the new lead form extensions, there are plenty of new things to try out and test in your account. One of the latest and most radical changes is the addition of responsive search ads.

Responsive search ads are one of the most significant additions to Google Ads to-date and have the potential to improve your cost per click, clickthrough rate, and conversions. In this blog post, I’ll outline what responsive search ads are, how to use them, and share some examples of best practices.

What Are Responsive Search Ads?

Responsive search ads (RSAs) are a new form of search ad that allows you to input as many as 15 headlines and four descriptions into the ad. Google then automatically tests different combinations of ad copy and slowly begins to favor the highest performing combinations. This is much more customizable than traditional expanded text ads, which limited headlines and descriptions to two and one, respectively.

Additionally, Google is even offering extra incentives for using them. By using RSAs, Google will show combinations of up to three headlines and two descriptions, compared to just two headlines and one description in traditional expanded text ads. That doesn’t mean it will always be showing all three headlines and both descriptions, because Google tests all different ad variations, including those with fewer headlines/descriptions.

How To Set Up Responsive Search Ads

Setting up RSAs is easy. To create RSAs in your account, navigate to the “Ads” tab. Click on the blue plus sign and find “Responsive Search Ads.”

Screenshot of the ads tab in Google AdsScreenshot of the ads tab in Google Ads

You’ll be taken to the ad creation page, which looks like this:

Screenshot of ad creation page in Google AdsScreenshot of ad creation page in Google Ads

In these fields, you can enter up to 15 headlines and four descriptions. If you already have expanded text ads created in the account, Google will auto-populate your existing headlines and descriptions into these fields.

As you’re creating the ads, you’ll see this preview field on the right side of the page:

Screenshot of the ad preview field in Google AdsScreenshot of the ad preview field in Google Ads

As you’re filling out the headlines and descriptions, the preview field will show you what you’re ad will look like in the SERP. It will also determine your ad strength and give you suggestions and best practices to improve your ads, which leads us to my next point.

Best Practices for Responsive Search Ads

Just like expanded text ads, RSAs perform the best when you follow certain best practices.

Fill Out All Fields

The main benefit of RSAs is the sheer amount of content you can have in one ad. That benefit is wasted if you’re not utilizing the full amount of headlines and descriptions that Google provides. Having at least ten headlines and three descriptions will allow the ads to work to their highest potential.

Use Unique Messaging in Each Field

Similarly, the potential of RSAs is wasted if you’re saying the same thing in slightly different ways. A rule of thumb is to have your messages be unique enough so that any of them can be displayed together, and the ad still makes sense. You wouldn’t want three headlines that are extremely similar used in the same ad, so be sure to differentiate between all of your headlines and descriptions.

Use CTAs (Calls to Action)

Now that you have more ad real estate to work with, it’s easier than ever to include a CTA in your ad without skimping on your brand messaging. Test out different CTAs (Subscribe, Call, Learn More, etc.) and see which ones perform the best.

Test One RSA in Every Ad Group

While RSAs seem like a groundbreaking addition to Google Ads that provide more variation and ease of testing than ever before, it’s not time to abandon traditional ads quite yet. Due to the nature of the machine-learning aspect of RSAs, their performance can be pretty variable compared to standard expanded text ads. Sometimes, non-optimal variations of ads will be initially created, leading to lower CTR and higher CPC. This will eventually correct itself, but it can lead to decreased performance early on. This is why we recommend testing one RSA in every ad group alongside your normal ads.

This gives you more variation in your campaigns and gives you a nice benchmark to compare your RSA performance against.

Responsive search ads are a potentially revolutionary addition to the world of pay-per-click advertising. The level of customization mixed with Google’s machine-learning gives this ad format the possibility of performing extremely well. By using the best practices mentioned above and not over-committing to the format (only one per ad group!), you can level up your Google Ads account with more targeted and customizable ads to help improve your KPIs.

The post Responsive Search Ads: What They Are, and How to Use Them appeared first on Portent.