Tag Archive | "Companies"

Will Swayne: How Agency Owners Can Use Their Skills To Start New Side Companies

 [ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud | Raw RSS ] All the way back in 2005, Will Swayne appeared on my podcast as my first ever interview guest. Before then I’d only done short solo episodes. Will had started a direct response internet marketing company called MarketingResults.com.au, and we talked for 20 […]

The post Will Swayne: How Agency Owners Can Use Their Skills To Start New Side Companies appeared first on Yaro.Blog.

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David Hauser: Founder Of Virtual Telephone Company Grasshopper (Acquired By Citrix For $170 Million) Explains How He Builds SAAS Companies

[ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud | Raw RSS ] I can remember listening to many podcasts over the years that featured a certain sponsor – Grasshopper, a company that provides virtual telephone services. David Hauser is the founder of, among many companies, Grasshopper, by far his most successful business. It reached $ 30 […]

The post David Hauser: Founder Of Virtual Telephone Company Grasshopper (Acquired By Citrix For $ 170 Million) Explains How He Builds SAAS Companies appeared first on Yaro.Blog.

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Microsoft’s Bing for Business Aims to Make Companies More Productive

Bing is often seen as the underdog of search engines, but it recently held center stage at Microsoft’s recently concluded Ignite conference. Held in September in Orlando, Florida, the conference allowed the company to disclose how it plans to proceed with the enterprise software.

With that goal in mind, Microsoft introduced Bing for Business, a novel intelligent search service that focuses on enterprise users. The software is not available to the general public yet but users with existing subscriptions to Office 365 will be able to take advantage of a private preview.

This special version of the search engine will reportedly offer an “intelligent search” feature that combines several data sources to help companies become more efficient. It will also allow company employees to find information that is relevant only to the organization. If properly utilized, Bing for Business can become the technology that many companies would be using in the future to disseminate company knowledge.

Bing for Business will provide businesses with more than the usual web results. The software can scan for information across a company’s shared files, emails, recent documents, and team sites, turning it into the central hub of all information gathered from Office 365.

Instead of providing each app with a distinct search bar, users won’t have to go to another page or site to get particular information about the business. Instead, they can just do a normal web search and have the relevant content delivered. Said content will be presented as cards after the result is finished, with the business data set at the forefront.

System administrators will also reportedly benefit from Bing for Business. The software can integrate with current admin controls so it can be managed by IT enterprise managers. Search traffic will also be protected so that business listing won’t reach the Internet and custom branding options will be provided as well. This will allow companies to keep their identity unique and protected.


Image credit: Microsoft

The upcoming service will be powered by AI and Microsoft’s centralized API, Microsoft Graph. This combination permits for search to collate data from all corners of Office 365, from SharePoint team sites to specific words in office documents. The software will also be linked to the company’s available data analytics tool, like Delve and Power BI.

Users of Office 365 Enterprises, Business and Education can avail of Bing for Business’ private preview by requesting an invitation.

[Featured image via Microsoft]

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Internet of Things to Drive the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Industrie 4.0 — Companies Endorse New Interoperable IIoT Standard

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will be the primary driver of the fourth Industrial Revolution and Cisco and other companies are at the forefront. It’s commonly referred to as Industrie 4.0.

“Industrie 4.0 is not digitization or digitalization of mechanical industry, because this is already there,” said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Gutzmer, Deputy CEO and CTO of Schaeffler AG. “Industrie 4.0 is getting the data real-time information structure in this supply and manufacturing chain.”

“If we use IoT data in a different way we can be more flexible so we can adapt faster and make decisions if something unforeseen happens, even in the cloud and even with cognitive systems,” says Gutzmer.

From the 2013 Siemens video below:

“In intelligent factories machines and products will communicate with each other, cooperatively driving production. Raw materials and machines are interconnected, within an internet of things. The objective, highly flexible individualized and resource friendly mass production. That is the vision for the fourth industrial revolution.”

“The excitement surrounding the fourth industrial revolution or Industrie 4.0 is largely due to the limitless possibilities that come with connecting everything, everywhere, with everyone,” said Martin Dube, Global Manufacturing Leader in the Digital Transformation Group at Cisco, in a blog post today. “The opportunities to improve processes, reduce downtime and increase efficiency through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is easy to see in manufacturing, an industry heavily reliant on automation and control, core examples of operational technology.”

Connectivity between machines is vital for the success of Industrie 4.0, but it is far from simple. “The manufacturing environment is full of connectivity and communication protocols that are not interconnected and often not interoperable,” notes Dube. “That’s why convergence and interoperability are critical if this revolution is to live up to (huge) expectations.”

Dube explains that convergence is the concept of connecting machines so that communication is possible and interoperability is the use of a standard technology enabling that communcation.

Cisco Announces Interoperable IIoT Standard

Cisco announced today that a number of key tech companies have agreed on an Interoperable IIoT Standard. The group, which includes ABB, BoschRexroth, B&R, Cisco, General Electric, National Instruments, Parker Hannifin, Schneider Electric, SEW Eurodrive and TTTech, is aiming for an open, unified, standards-based and interoperable IIoT solution for communication between industrial controllers and to the cloud, according to Cisco:

ABB, Bosch Rexroth, B&R, CISCO, General Electric, KUKA, National Instruments (NI), Parker Hannifin, Schneider Electric, SEW-EURODRIVE and TTTech are jointly promoting OPC UA over Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) as the unified communication solution between industrial controllers and to the cloud.

Based on open standards, this solution enables industry to use devices from different vendors that are fully interoperable. The participating companies intend to support OPC UA TSN in their future generations of products.


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Progressive Tech Companies Want Trump to Protect Sharing Economy From Dem Attacks

Michael Beckerman, President & CEO at Internet Association which represents big internet focused tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, Uber, Netflix, Twitter, Lyft, PayPal, Salesforce, Rackspace and many more, sent a congratulations letter to the Trump transition team today. In it they sought to inform Trump how important the internet is to the economy and gave their take on issues dear to them.


The entire letter is available here (PDF).

One very interesting area the group focused on is the sharing economy, which has been under severe attack by progressives and liberal Democrats around the country. Perhaps Trump isn’t Silicon Valley’s worst nightmare after all, considering he is likely to agree with them on these planks:

By harnessing the power of the internet and internet-based commercial cloud technology, sharing economy platforms allow individuals to use their free time and resources to earn significant supplementary income under a flexible working arrangement that allows people to earn money how, when, and where they want. Although still in its nascent stage, the sharing economy is projected to account for $ 335 billion in global revenue in 2025, up from $ 15 billion in 2013.

Offer Consistent, Smart Regulatory Approaches: The rapid rise of this new sector of the economy, however, has been met by piecemeal regulatory approaches at the local and state levels that often feature misguided or overly burdensome rules driving up costs for consumers and workers. By steering clear of burdensome regulations, policymakers at every level can ensure this rapidly growing sector of the economy sees its full potential.

Protect the Flexibility and Economic Opportunities of the Sharing Economy: On demand and sharing economy companies are driving new economic growth and opportunities by providing individuals with unprecedented flexibility and control over the decision of when, and how, they earn income. By attempting to apply the same static workplace regulations of the 20th century to this new economic model, policymakers could threaten the very entrepreneurial spirit that drives these 21st century earning opportunities.

One of their other key concerns is safeguarding platforms like Facebook from lawsuits because of things their users post which means not weakening current intermediary liability laws:

“Weakening intermediary liability laws would not only chill innovation and free expression online, but would also threaten investment in the next generation of ideas fueling our digital economy. If digital content intermediaries were responsible for the content uploaded by users, over 80 percent of investors would be less likely to fund startups. In addition, 85 percent of investors are uncomfortable investing in digital content intermediaries open to unpredictable legal action.”

Another major concern is copyright law safe harbors, such as fair use, exemptions, compulsory licenses and first sale doctrine:

“Threats to the flexible framework, such as weakening limitations or exceptions to safe harbors, would create barriers to entry for internet startups and creators, which would deny users the ability to access content

They also want policies that promote pro data innovation rules:

“However, new regulatory proposals on how data is used and collected threaten to reduce this value. U.S. policy must ensure businesses in every U.S. industry can keep a competitive edge by innovating with data. To do so, policies should champion data innovation by acknowledging the crucial role of data in the modern economy and promote pro-innovation rules. This includes taking a harms-based approach to consumer privacy, instead of a collection-based approach, and stopping data minimization efforts or other proposals that would inhibit innovation.”

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How Companies Can Solve the China Puzzle

Amy Karam, author of the book, The China Factor:Strategies to Compete, Grow and Win in the New Global Economy, recently was interviewed at Google’s Mountain View campus, providing insight for companies to better compete.

“The main intention of “The China Factor” is to equip western-based companies with strategies and tactics and knowledge to better compete with emerging entrants like those from China,” says Karam. “China has risen, they’re doing a great job, there a strong force in our economy and they do business differently. The premises is that we as western-based companies need to change our game. We need to know that emerging competitors have different approaches and we need to be more creative about that.”

“The other element is the innovation advantage and how do we protect or maintain and evolve our innovation advantage?” she asks. “How did China become so strong? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each side, the West and the East?”

Working for Cisco in China Was Eye Opening

Karam’s time at Cisco where she was involved in the Cisco sales strategy shaped her opinions of how Western companies can better compete. “The results were eye opening,” she said. “Wow, this isn’t business as usual. It’s not like our domestic competitors. It’s not a product superiority play anymore, where it’s like my box is better than your box so I’ll win the business. That’s not what was happening in emerging markets and especially with some emerging competitors.”

“That was the catalyst for me to say, wow, this is not a trend, this is not a blip, this is here to stay.” She noted some big competitive differences with Chinese companies. “First is the severe price discounting and that’s no shocker right? Most of us know that that’s generally a pretty consistent market penetration strategy, but there was really no bottom to it. I encountered a lot of escalations where they say, hey my competitors just discounted me by another 25% and I need approval for another discount. We realized that wasn’t going to be a successful strategy for either competitor and even for the customer, it wasn’t a winning game.”

“Another big thread was financing, which we didn’t really get into very much as a Western based company but that’s a a real helpful tool for emerging customers. This competitor would help them with financing and to an extreme degree. Sometimes they would help finance over a very long
period of time and that was a real great value to these emerging markets customers.”

“Another huge trend that came up was the use of politics to influence business decisions,” Karam said. “We’re like whoa, where did that come from what do we do about that? I would get escalated complaints from emerging markets that we’ve been working this deal for two years, we had in the bag and in the eleventh hour they would just say it was a an influence from above and we have no idea where it came from. It was government-to-government influencing for business decisions at a more granular level.”

What Can Western companies Do at the Practical Level?

“For those who are business geeks, you know there are the 4 P’s of marketing… product, price, place, promotion, so I created the 5th “P” which is politics,” said Karam. “I created the 5 P’s of Global Marketing framework. Because this has become such a a big world but it’s small at the same time, we need market access, we want to play and other peoples sandboxes, but there are certain rules and there are certain limitations that we need to encounter. When Google pulled out of China in 2010 for censorship reasons that was a big decision and the implications were huge. You could have affected 1.5 billion people in terms of access to knowledge, but there were really good reasons and those were the the boundaries within which a Western based company decided that they did not want to operate.”

“Recent headlines say that Google is going back in,” says Karam. “So market access is really important and reach is really important, so the political element is knowing that co-oppetition is is the new element. It’s an integral part of a strategy going forward, it’s not us versus them. It’s how do we all play together within our own boundaries and desirables to get ultimately the success that we need. That’s it at a high level.”

“Then how do we at the working level deal with politics?” she asks. “Politics even happens at the organizational level and generally there’s a pretty negative connotation to politics, but it’s really important, we can’t ignore it anymore, we we need to embrace it and apply it.

“So how do we apply it from a sales perspective is to educate the sales teams on some of the tools available from the US government and the local governments in the different countries,” asks Karam. “How can they engage with their own government to help influence their own sales locally? Reaching out to the consulates, how do you get them involved, how do you know that some of these deal opportunities are happening early on in the game? There may be unfair trade issues that you’re experiencing so that maybe some intervention sooner rather than later so it’s not at the eleventh hour when we oftentimes hear about it.”

“We’re also organizationally changed and we’re able to convince the senior vice president of government affairs to shift the focus from just a policy perspective to helping with sales objectives,” she says. “Using the influence that they have in the government affairs group for more of the end result in terms of numbers and not just policy has been very effective.”

How Should Western Companies Evolve and Change?

“Very simply, go global,” says Karam. “A lot of times Western based companies have been hesitant to go global. The second part is let’s move out of emerging markets being a novelty. I think a lot of Western based companies dabble in emerging markets thinking it’s really cool, it’s let’s try it out let’s throw a few people and in there and see how it works out, and then… oh no, not making the ROI that we need so we need to pull out. It needs to be a longer-term investment, it needs to be a commitment and you need to know that it’s it’s not just a temporary thing.”

“Make sure that your product development is catering or customizing to local customer needs,” she says. “We can’t just recycle, saying this is a mature product in this market and let’s just throw it over the fence and see if they’re going to like our old product.

How Can Wester Companies Maintain Their Innovation Advantage?

“Every company, East to West, really wants to be innovative because that’s where the next phase of growth comes from,” says Karam. “We see contingents of emerging folks coming to Silicon Valley wanting to learn the secret of how is Silicon Valley innovative, how do you do it how do you become creative? But the idea is that we have to also be creative – we have to be innovative at being innovative, so you can’t just the rest on your laurels. This whole concept of innovation is evolving and as more players from different backgrounds are becoming innovative they’re bringing different business models.”

“Some business model innovations are coming from the East,” she says. “They’re really good and commercializing things and we’re really good at making things, really cool things, but they’re really good at making money yet from really cool things or even making money from ok cool things.”

“We also talked about supply chain or process innovation,” said Karam. “There’s the reputation of manufacturing, they’ve got it down. One venture capitalist who I interviewed for the book says, you know all this business about bringing manufacturing back to America, we don’t have the efficiencies, we don’t have the ecosystems yet to do that, and some of the Eastern countries do. We need to either establish that ecosystem or just understand that there’s there’s a different source of innovation happening out there.”

“What I’m saying s let’s get more creative, let’s figure out what’s our what’s our innovation 2.0,” she says. “How are we going to step up our game and learn from others as well?”

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Study: Content Marketing Inefficiencies Cost BtoB Companies Nearly $1 Billion

Content Marketing InefficiencyHow Efficient is Your Content Marketing? That’s the question Sharon Goldman asks in the August issue of BMA Buzz that Robert Rose and I did our best to answer. The article was inspired by a new study that finds content marketing waste and redundancy cost business to business companies nearly a billion dollars a year.

Not only are companies challenged to create a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis with clear ROI, but the making of the content is wasteful as well.

Whether you’ve made progress towards increasing the effectiveness of your content for marketing or not, I think there are some important choices to be made when it comes to marketing organization, leadership and strategy. Here’s the full article:

A study sponsored by Kapost and conducted by the research firm Gleanster found that inefficiencies in companies’ content marketing efforts are costing U.S. B-to-B companies big bucks – to the tune of nearly $ 1 billion annually. The majority of marketers blamed coordination issues – related to everything from people and channels to versions and schedule – for content inefficiencies.

Content marketing has been embraced by the vast majority of B-to-B marketers in recent years. Eighty-six percent, in fact, now use content marketing as a tactic and create a variety of content types as part of their overall marketing strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

90% of marketers say meeting task deadlines and redundant content creation are their biggest inefficiencies.

Nine out of 10 marketers said the most inefficient areas of their content marketing efforts are meeting task deadlines and redundant content creation. A majority of marketers also blamed coordination issues — related to everything from people and channels to versions and schedule — for content inefficiencies. What’s more, most respondents said they use various and disparate technologies to support their content marketing creation and distribution efforts, such as email marketing platforms, spreadsheets, project management tools, and content management systems.

“It makes sense that these inefficiencies exist, with such a myriad of solutions and perspectives on how to get content marketing done,” admits Lee Odden, chief executive officer at TopRank Online Marketing, a Minneapolis, Minn. based digital marketing agency. “Companies have so many different approaches and resources allocated that fragmented efforts result, creating duplicity and inefficiencies.”

A Lack of Structure

Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at the Content Marketing Institute, points out that in most businesses, the content created by marketing is typically a byproduct of what sales or other parts of the organization need at the moment, diminishing its impact. “Unfortunately, most marketing organizations have become nothing other than on-demand content vending machines for other parts of the business,” he explains. “This argues for a stronger and more structured content marketing function to exist, in order to create more efficient and effective results.”

Getting serious about content as a strategic asset and a corporate priority is of paramount importance. The problem, Odden says, is the lack of confidence from marketing leadership that investments in content will deliver on the business objective. “There is often a gap in the time frame that it takes to implement content marketing programs and see revenue growth,” he says. That time frame can differ markedly between companies: A well-known brand with a strong customer base, for example, will likely enjoy a shorter path to revenue than a startup.

Large businesses that want to get off the hamster wheel of content production must not only reduce the amount of content they create, but optimize their technology stack, Rose says. In other words, while technology can help B-to-B marketers streamline their efforts, jumping on every tech fad can be detrimental to a business.

“Marketing has gone on a shopping spree of technology without utilizing it to great effect.” @Robert_Rose

“Marketing has gone on a shopping spree of technology without utilizing it to great effect,” Rose says. “It’s shocking to me to understand that the amount of penetration of marketing automation systems is still in the single digits.”

Whether companies choose a centralized marketing automation system or separate technologies (e.g., editorial calendar, tools for collaboration or social curation) to power their content marketing programs, they must keep efficiency top of mind, Rose says. “It’s not about fashion, it’s about creating higher impact content marketing,” he adds.

Becoming More Strategic

The good news, Odden says, is that B-to-B companies are becoming more strategic and sophisticated about how they use content to support the marketing function and the overall business strategy. They’re also adding increasingly sophisticated technologies to the mix, such as predictive analytics.

Perhaps most importantly, Rose adds, companies clearly recognize the need to become more efficient — even if the majority is still struggling to make that happen. “If two years ago 80 or 90 percent of companies advertising were trying to build a business case for content to exist, that has flipped,” he says. “Eighty percent now recognize that content is important, but they don’t know how to scale it.”

Ultimately, Rose says, the issue is one about people: “It’s a question of who should own content as a function, who is the right keeper of that function.”
The answer to that question? “Making a decision — and not avoiding doing so — is the right answer,” Rose says.

Robert Rose and Lee Odden are among the featured speakers for BMA-Minnesota’s half-day skill-builder workshop on content marketing, September 22 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This article by Sharon Goldman originally appeared in the August issue of BMA Buzz – republished with permission from the Business Marketing Association.

Image: Shutterstock

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4 Digital Marketing Investments All Companies Should Be Making Now


It’s safe to say that not one company is sitting around scratching their head saying “I have all of this marketing budget to spare, what can I spend it on?”. Budgets are tight, and marketing budgets are often the first to feel the pain of cuts.

Traditional marketing tactics often come at a high price, and it can be difficult to track return. Alternatively, the vast array of digital marketing tactics evolve frequently and can quickly become overwhelming.

Each year, companies are investing more and more in digital marketing. In fact, Econsultancy found that 77% of marketers were planning on increasing digital marketing budgets in 2015. But the question on many marketers’ minds is: Where exactly should these digital marketing funds be invested?

Below are 4 areas you should consider investing your digital marketing spend in 2015.

#1 – A Technically Sound & Optimized Website

A website is your calling card to the outside world. If it doesn’t work or isn’t optimized for mobile customers, they’ll quickly move on and will find one that does what they need.

Does your website pass the following tests?

  • Page Load Speed: Google’s PageSpeed tool will provide you with a page load speed score and provide recommendations for fixing any issues.
  • Responsive Design: The number of mobile users searching the web will only continue to grow. Use a tool like Am I Responsive? to see how your website displays across multiple devices.
  • Encourages Lead Conversions: Are your customers finding what they expected when they reach your website? Are you making it as easy as possible for people to reach you via contact forms or phone numbers? If the answer to either of those questions is no, your website is not optimized to encourage lead conversions.
  • Optimized for Organic Search: If you’re not an SEO expert, it can sometimes be hard to understand what exactly it takes to make your website optimized. All of your website content including title tags, meta descriptions, urls and more should all be optimized for the key terms and phrases that you want to appear for in search engine results.

#2 – Understanding Your Customers

Your customers should affect every aspect of your digital marketing strategy. The way that they interact with and consumer information should inform your SEO, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media strategies and beyond.

In order to better understand customers and make a more impactful digital marketing strategy, you must complete:

  • Customer Research: This can take on many forms. Your current customers are the best place to start. Depending on your business model you can schedule a conversation with some of your best clients, or send out surveys to customers that have purchased once or many times.
  • Persona Development: Once you’ve collected customer data, you need to begin understanding how to mold a digital marketing strategy around that information. The data collected will help inform what topics and types of content makes the most sense for customers based on their needs and stage in the buying cycle.

#3 – Consistent, Creative & Compelling Content Creation

The 2015 B2B Content Marketing report shows that marketers recognize that blogging is not content marketing. While it’s a very important component, it’s not the only tactic you should be focusing on:

b2b content marketing tactics

However, before you begin deciding which tactics to invest in, you must first get a handle on:

  • Audits: If you’ve already identified your digital marketing opportunities, congratulations! However, for most marketers, the hardest part is knowing where to start. Either internally or with an agency like TopRank Marketing, we recommend that you audit the performance of your current content marketing activities and uncover your biggest opportunities for impact.
  • Content Marketing Strategy: A comprehensive content marketing strategy will include the targets, tactics and promotion for every content marketing asset throughout the year. As mentioned above, blogging is merely an element of a content marketing strategy, not a strategy all in of itself.
  • Resources: Today’s customers require compelling content and visuals that inspire them to take the next step. A content marketing strategy is only as good as the team that you have working for you. It doesn’t matter if it is internal team members or external resources, this is an incredibly important of digital marketing to invest in.

#4 – Paid Digital Marketing Amplification

What good is digital marketing if nobody sees or shares it? While it is always important to maintain a strong organic search and social presence, you should also consider making an investment in paid tactics.

  • Paid Social: Organic reach on social media platforms just isn’t what it used to be. Paid social on websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can help you target your digital marketing to the right people, for the action you want them to take.
  • Paid Search: Incorporating a paid search strategy can be the added boost that your digital marketing needs. There is an art to writing paid search campaigns and they can become expensive so make sure that you’re working with someone that can help guide you on your approach.

Knowing When to Partner with an Agency

It doesn’t matter if you’re a large enterprise company or a small startup, sometimes you need to ask for help. Below are three signs that you may need the help of a digital marketing agency:

  • You’re Looking for Expertise: Agency teams are typically comprised of teams that specialize in specific areas of digital marketing. Instead of hiring a team of experts, strategists, practitioners and project managers, you may want to consider partnering with an agency.
  • You Have Other Priorities: You may recognize that you have a digital marketing need, but your internal team is already strapped and focused on larger business objectives. If you want a team that can integrate with your existing staff, and help you work toward common business objectives an agency may be right for you.
  • Hiring Your Own Staff is Too Expensive: The cost of hiring new employees and paying their salaries, benefits and any other miscellaneous costs can quickly add up. One of the many benefits of working with an agency is that you have access to a whole team of digital marketers, at a reasonable price.

If you’ve felt the pressure to increase your digital marketing budget, you’re not alone. A marketing program can be a big investment, but it should be data driven and focused on results. If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency whose core values and business objectives align with your own, consider trying on TopRank Marketing for size.

Image via Shutterstock

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How Some Companies Succeed at Converting Visitors yet Fail to Earn Great Customers – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

It’s easy to think that conversion is the end goal for most marketing teams, but any business that relies on customer loyalty needs to take a it a step farther. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains a few of the reasons that people we thought were new customers often decide to leave.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video transcription

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m talking about some conversion rate optimization mistakes that we’ve made. They’re pernicious and challenging to understand, because we’ve succeeded in one big important aspect of CRO, which is converting visitors into customers. That might sound like a great thing, but in fact sometimes being great at that can be a terrible thing. I’ll talk about exactly why and how.

I’ve seen this at Moz. We’ve had a little bit of a problem with it. I’ve seen this at many, many other companies. I want to try and use Moz as an empathetic example to everyone out there of how these problems happen.

Succeeding at converting visitors into customers is not the end goal for the vast, vast majority of companies, unless you have a product that you know you’re only ever going to sell once, and that will be the only brand interaction that you hope to have with that human being ever or that organization ever in your lives. Well, usually that’s not the case.

Usually, most companies have a relationship that they want to have with their customers. They’re trying to earn that customer’s brand loyalty, and they’re trying to earn future sales from that person. That means building a longer term relationship, which is how CRO can occasionally go very, very wrong.

I’ve got the three primary examples. These are the three types of things that I’ve seen happen in company after company. It’s not just true in software, but software makes a particularly good example of it because we have a retention type model. It’s not just about converting someone, but it’s also about keeping them part of your service and making your product consistently useful to them, etc.

Here’s our friendly Joe Searcher. Joe goes ahead and searches for SEO tools. Then, Joe gets to the free trial of Moz Pro, which you could conceivably get to if you search in Google for that. We often have AdWords ads running for things like that and maybe we rank too.

Then, Joe goes, “All right. Yeah, maybe I’ll give this a spin. It’s a 30 day free trial.” He sees all the stuff in there. He’s like, “All right. There’s the Moz Bar. Maybe I’ll try that, and I’ll set up my Moz Analytics campaign. I see I’m getting some crawl errors and keyword scores.”

Then, Joe is like, “Man, I don’t know. I don’t really feel totally invested in this tool. I’m not sure why I should trust the results. Maybe I don’t know quite enough about SEO to validate this. Or I know enough about SEO to know that there are some little things here and there that are wrong. Maybe they told me to do some keyword stuff that I don’t feel totally comfortable with. I don’t trust these guys. I’m out of here. I’m going to quit.”

Well, that kind of sucked, right? Joe had a bad experience with Moz. He probably won’t come back. He probably won’t recommend us to his friends.

Unfortunately, we also provided a customer with access to our stuff, ran a credit card, and accumulated some charges and some expenses in his first month of use, and lost him as a customer. So it’s a lose-lose. We were successful at converting, but it ended up being bad for both Joe and for Moz.

The problem is really here. Something fascinating that you may not know about Moz is that, on average, before someone takes a free trial of our software, they visit our website eight times before they take a free trial. Many, many visits are often correlated with high purchase prices.

But for a free trial, there are actually a lot of software companies who convert right on the first or the second visit. I think that might be a mistake. What we’ve observed in our data and one of the reasons that we’ve biased not to do this, to try and actually avoid converting someone on the first or second visit, is because Moz customers that convert on the first, or second, or third visit to our website tend to leave early and often. They tend to be not longstanding, loyal customers who have low churn rates and those kinds of things. They tend to have a very high churn and low retention.

Those who visit Moz ten times or more before converting turn out to be much more loyal. In fact, it keeps going. If they visit 14 times or more or 20 times or more, that loyalty keeps increasing. It’s very fascinating and strongly suggests that before you convert someone you actually want to have a brand relationship.

Joe needs to know that Moz is going to be helpful, that he can trust it, that he’s got the education and the knowledge and the information, and he’s interacted with community, and he’s consumed content. He’s been like, “Okay, I get what’s going on. When I see that F Keyword Score, I know that like, oh, right, there’s some stemming here. It might not be catching all the interpretations of this keyword that I’ve got in there. So I give Moz a little leeway in there because this other stuff works well for me, as opposed to quitting at the first sign of trouble.”

This happens in so, so many companies. If you’re not careful about it, it can happen to you too.

Another good example here is, let’s say, Mary. Mary is a heavy Twitter user. She has great social following and wants to do some analysis of her Twitter account, some competitive Twitter accounts. So she finds Followerwonk, which is great. It’s a wonderful tool for this.

She says, “Okay, I want to get access to some of the advanced reports. I need to become a Moz Pro member to do that. What does Moz have to do with Followerwonk? Okay, I get it. Moz owns Followerwonk, so I’m getting to the free trial page for Moz Pro. Weirdly, this trial page doesn’t even talk about Followerwonk in here. There’s one mention in the Research Tools section. That’s kind of confusing. Then, I’m going to get into the product. Now you’re trying to have me set up a Moz Analytics account. I don’t even own and control a website or do SEO. I’m trying to use Followerwonk. Why am I paying $ 99 a month if my free trial extends? Why would I do that to get all this other stuff if I just want Wonk? That doesn’t make any sense, so I’m out of here. I’m going to quit.”

Essentially, we created a path where Mary can’t get what she actually wants and where she’s forced to use things that she might not necessarily want. Maybe she doesn’t want them at all. Maybe she has no idea what they do. Maybe she has no time to investigate whether they’re helpful to her or not.

We’re essentially devaluing our own work and products by bundling them all together and forcing Mary, who just wants Followerwonk, to have to get a Moz subscription. That kind of sucks too.

By the way, we validated this with data. On average, visitors who come through Followerwonk and sign up for a free trial perform terribly. They have very, very low stickiness until and unless they actually make it back to the Followerwonk tool immediately and start using that and use that exclusively. If they get wrapped up inside the Pro subscription and all the other tools, Open Site Explorer, Moz Analytics and Moz Bar, Keyword Difficulty, and Fresh Web Explorer, blah, they’re overwhelmed. They’re out of here. They didn’t get what they want.

The other thing that really sucks is we’ve seen a bunch of research. There’s been psychological research done that basically suggests that when you do this, when you bundle a whole bunch of things together, they are inherently cheapened and believe the value to be less, and they feel themselves cheated. If you buy all of this stuff and you only wanted Followerwonk, you feel like well, Followerwonk must only be worth like $ 20 a month.

That’s not actually the case. Inside the business we can see, oh, there are all these different cost structures associated with different products, and some people who are heavy users of this and not heavy users of that make up for it. Okay, but your customers don’t have that type of insight, so they’re not seeing it. Again, quick conversion has failed to create real value.

Number three, what is SEO? We’re going to have Fred here. Fred’s going to do a search for “what is SEO.” He’s going to get to the free trial of Moz Pro maybe because we were running an advertisement or that kind of thing. Then, Fred’s going to go, “All right. Yeah, that sounds good. I want to do SEO on my website. I know that’s important. Search traffic is important.”

Then, he starts getting into the product and goes through the experience. He has to enter his keywords, and he’s like, “Man, I don’t know what keywords they mean. What do they mean by keywords? I need to learn more about SEO. I’m out of here. I’m quitting this product. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

The problem here is an education gap. Essentially, before Fred is able to effectively use and understand the product, he needs education, and unfortunately what we’ve done is end around and put the conversion message ahead of the education process and thus cost Fred. This, again, happens all the time. Companies do this.

There are ways to solve these. There are three things you can do that will really solve these conversion issues. First, measure your customer journey, not just your conversion path. So many folks look at paths to conversion. You have your reports set up in Google Analytics, and you look at assisted conversions and path to conversions, but you don’t look at customer journey, which is what do people do after they convert.

If you’re an e-commerce or a retail store, you care about this too, even though it seems like a one-time purchase. Do they come back? Do they buy more stuff from you? Are they amplifying? Are they sharing the product? Do you have a good score with them when you ask people on Net Promoter Score like, “Hey, would you suggest or recommend using this service, using our ecommerce shop? Did you have a good experience?”

If you’re seeing low scores there, low return visits, low engagement with the product that you’re offering, chances are good that you’re doing something like this. You’re converting someone too early.

Second, you don’t want to cheapen, mislead, or bundle products without evidence that people will actually enjoy them, appreciate them, and that it matches your customer need, as we’ve done here by bundling all of these things with Followerwonk. It may be the case that this can go one way and not the other.

You might say, as we did, I was like, “Oh, I’m in SEO and I love Followerwonk. It’s so useful for all this stuff. But I wasn’t thinking about the 600 people a day who go into Followerwonk just for Twitter analytics and don’t really have a whole lot of need around other SEO tools.”

So optimizing the bundle one way and not the other was probably a mistake. I think it’s a mistake that Peter Bray and the team are working on fixing now, my mistake that they’re now working on fixing. I apologize for that.

This bundling can also be very misleading. You need to be careful in validating that customers actually want two products, two services, two goods together.

Finally, this is a huge part of how content marketing works. You want to educate before you convert. Educate before you convert and find ways to filter for not right customers.

Imagine if in Fred’s process here, he’d searched for “what is SEO,” and he got to the Beginner’s Guide. Then, he got to the free trial page, and we had identified, “Hey, Fred’s never been here before. He just got done with the Beginner’s Guide when he got to the keyword page here.”

We can nudge him maybe with some proactive suggestions here. But if he goes through and starts entering keywords and he can’t figure it out, maybe we need someone from our Customer Success Team to actually email him and say, “Hey, Fred, is there something I can help you with? Can we set up this process for you? Do you want to have a phone call,” these kinds of things. We need to provide some assistance.

Likely you’re doing one of these things as well. When you get aggressive about converting customers fast and early, yes, you can really juice your revenue. You can turn a low conversion rate into a high one. But you can also in the long run cost your company if you aren’t measuring and thinking about the right things.

Hopefully, you’ll do that and have a great customer journey experience throughout your conversion process. We will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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