February 19

The role of CRM in a solid marketing strategy | Three Piece Marketing

The customer is always right—this old adage still [...]

The customer is always right—this old adage still rings true today. Irrespective of your approach to business development and whatever strategy you put in place, if business success stories have one thing in common, it is that it is essential you put your customers at the centre of your decision-making process, else, you’re headed for disaster. And central to this, is a Customer Relationship Management program (CRM).

 

Whether it is retaining old buyers or attracting new ones, you need to integrate different customer relationship and customer advocacy action plans into your marketing strategy. How you do that needs to be based on a few different things. To help you out, we’ve compiled a run-sheet of sorts. Check out our tips below.

 

But first, what is CRM?

It would be slightly remiss if we did not check we are all on the same page. Just to clarify, when we talk CRM solutions, we are not just using a definition in keeping with the Salesforce definition: “… a technology used to manage interactions with customers and potential customers.” We take it slightly further and see CRM as the use of different integrated technologies, strategies, and customer advocacy platforms, created to help businesses and organisations improve their sales, profitability, and customer service using past and existing customer data.

 

And how is customer data collected?

When customers interact with your company –  be it through email, chat, website, phone, or even via various social media platforms, a well-developed CRM system will compile these interactions as data points. These points are then recorded against a profile, allowing your company to make decisions as to what best next step to take in order to drive the desired outcome.

How do you determine what to do next?

Over time, through doing the things you do, you have developed an innate insight into what signs point the way to a likely sale and what other ones point to a potential lost sale. This data and knowledge can be taken and fed into automated strategies, thus meaning when a customer does X, the CRM knows that E+A is needed to turn a potential customer into a sale and that you need to do C+E+N to ensure that the sale is not lost forever.

 

Embedding CRM into your digital marketing strategy and then into the website

 

If you have a CRM system in place, the simple question is, are you leveraging it to its full potential? Specifically – and not surprisingly given what we do as an agency – we mean are you embedding it into your digital strategy in such a way as to create customised campaigns targeted to those users with similar profiles?

 

Your marketing efforts will be more concise and reap better returns if and when you evaluate which phases your potential customers are at and how to lead them forward through the process and not lose them. We are talking about refining your messaging and imagery in different email streams, tightening your customer advocacy program, knowing when to offer incentives, and just being smarter with campaign timing so as to improve the quality of your leads and your number of conversions. All driven with the intent of boosting your sales and profitability (or returns if you are a NFP. In fact NFPs often have more to gain from a well executed CRM program as it can reduce cost of acquisition significantly).

 

There are a plethora of ways in which your company can benefit from a CRM system embedded into your website and other digital marketing platforms. Whatever the system, think of two different (in very general terms) streams you need to control – Data capture and trigger responses.

From a data capture perspective:

  • How are you defining who a lead is?
  • How are you capturing the information and where are you storing it? Is it a lead form, a phone call, a competition entrant, a website download etc (all of these are good starts)
  • Also think about how you identify that lead next time, or on a different platform (no use having a CRM if you can’t identify the same user across different touch points).
  • You then need to categorise this data so you have a number of defining rules.

With that determined, then you need to consider your trigger point so you know how to respond to a lead and when. Consider things such as

  • Does action in-store lead to an email, or does a phone call push out a thank you etc.
  • How long should you wait between getting someone’s sign up data and sending a thanks
  • What loyalty programs do you have in place which add value and retain customers?
  • When do you consider a lead lost, or how do you know when to keep pushing?

Ultimately, this all then need to be translated into meaningful implementation across all touchpoints, inclusive of your website, because if it isn’t integrated into your site, you are wasting the opportunity to tie up all of the valuable market data you have and enjoy a seamless and more intelligent way of analysing the data and leads generated from all of the activities of your buyers and prospects.

So now, do you embed a CRM tool into your website?

While different CRM providers offer unique solutions, you need to keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to CRM integration. You must ensure that the CRM you pick matches your business type and your needs. Are you a small business? A cooperative? A large-scall e-commerce shop? A non-profit organisation? Do you operate your business offline? Fully online? Do you use a website only to get leads and conversions or do you also employ different social media networks to promote your brand? All these you should keep in mind to find the right CRM that will work best for your business model.

 

Next off, make a list of the workflows and processes in your website that you want your CRM to automate. Is it notifying your sales team of new leads? Is it sending emails to potential customers who visit certain landing pages? Being able to identify important process that need CRM support will help you streamline your processes and respond better to any behaviour your customer is doing.

 

If you do not have one in house you can speak to, find and then sit down with a CRM expert to identify the most ideal CRM integration solution for your business.  Always keep your most pressing needs in mind and visualise what you want your system to achieve to ensure that you and your CRM team’s expectations and goals are aligned. Some of the common objectives you can go for might include:

  • Eradicate manual processes and improve your team’s productivity
  • Improve the quality of the leads generated online
  • Faster response times to customers’ queries, thus promoting better customer service
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Intelligent data that can easily be analysed
  • A better understanding of individual customer profile, thus building better relationships and more targeted campaigns

A real-life example: our WordPress ONTRAPORT integration work for The Landscape Association

When we first met with The Landscape Association (a member organisation) they had multiple and disparate systems in place which they used to manage different functions. The issue was, there was no one centralised source of truth, nor a single view of customer (defined as members and would-be members as well as the general public). Working with them we defined that they required a unified system to manage all their functions, tie all their data together and ultimately simplify matters for staff and customers alike. We were commissioned to create a single digital platform that minimised data handling, membership renewals, event management and eradicated to the largest extent possible, any errors.

Our team’s recommended solution required the implementation of a new CMS and front-end website which integrated seamlessly with their new member management platform (ONTRAPORT), managed their ticketing sales and integrated with their back end accounting systems.

Through a year long process, we worked to tidy their data, define their membership interactions and develop workflows which would achieve all the above. Through the implemented system, they can monitor upcoming membership renewals, see how many people have registered for events, see revenue snapshots against different filters, monitor interactions between staff and their members and create email updates that go to all or even just a defined audience. Furthermore, there are a number of built-in triggers that automate multiple processes (both in the sales process and in the lead generation process), allowing staff to concentrate on what they need to, not on making sure the system works.

You can read more about our work with the TLA in our case study.

Time to invest in a solid CRM integration to your WordPress website

Platform integration into a WordPress website might sound easy but it takes an analytical mind, strong technical skills, and strategy to successfully fill in the gaps and simplify seemingly complex functionalities and workflows involved in running a business online.

At Three Piece Marketing, we understand that bringing value to your consumers while maintaining a responsive and highly visible website are key to a good digital presence. If you are keen at improving your WordPress site and want to discuss how you can achieve your business goals through it, speak to one of the 3PM team today.

Or if you are just researching and looking to build your arsenal, let us give you one piece of advice: start simple, build-up and keep refining.

February 10

5 Strategies to improve website performance | Three Piece Marketing

You should be routinely ensuring you are optimizin [...]

You may be surprised at how many people think spending tens of thousands of dollars getting someone to build a website and launch the business in the digital space is enough to make money. Others think that undertaking website performance optimization on an existing site, may similarly, be enough to attract new customers and grow their profits. Sadly, this is not the case.

It’s the equivalent of Ferrari building a perfect F1 car and then putting it on the starting grid without fuel. It looks good, but no one gets to see it really perform. The key as you’re no doubt guessing is to ensure you do more than just launch the site. In fact, after your website has been built, you should be routinely ensuring you are optimizing it (taking it into the pitts), promoting it and ensuring your messaging is consistent across all customer touch points.

But today, let’s take a look at the first aspect – optimization – and the role it should play in your ongoing marketing. Specifically, let’s look take a look at:

 

  • Identifying pain points
  • User experience across multiple devices
  • Role of content
  • Calls to action
  • The need to ensure Lead sourcing messaging (SEO, PPC, email etc) matches website content

Identifying pain points

Once upon a time a website may have been classified as one of two things – a “brochureware” site, or a transactional site. The former was a site that served to convey messaging to people and grow their awareness. These sites still exists, but in a refined capacity – informational websites which work to educate. Another type of site is the one which exists to get people to transact in some way – a sale, providing their phone number or address, signing up for something and so forth.

In the latter’s case, getting the customer to convert is key! If they do not you miss out. This is where Conversion Rate Optimisation of your website (CRO) plays a pivotal role. That is, undertaking certain activities to ensure you are doing all you can to optimise the chances of a conversion.

When investigating the Conversion Rate Optimisation of your website (CRO), it’s vital you garner insights with regards to where the real pain points are for your customers. It is important to note that, while there might be ideas or assumptions you might want to test (“Hmm is a red button better than a blue for conversion?”), these items may not be the most pressing ones that should be addressed first, and, after its all said and done, they might not be issues for your users.

Instead things you may want to investigate are things such as:

  • What are the most common user pathways through the site?
  • What buttons and activities are most clicked? Are they top of page?
  • What pages have the highest exit-rates?
  • What pages or what part of the conversion cycle causes the highest opt-out?

 

Gathering this information may sound difficult, but the truth is, there is an abundance of capacities in various tools including Google Analytics, VWO Insights, Heap Analytics, Mixpanel, UsabilityHub etc. They permit you to get an informed glance at your audience and how they interact with your website.

 

These tools help you better comprehend your client’s activity and how they are utilising your website. With an in-depth analysis, you can better convey your thoughts on website improvement strategies to improve your chances of buy-in from decision makers.

 

User experience across multiple devices

Consistency is the key to success, and this is true of the customer experience at every touch point. There is no use for example, doing a roadshow with all the bells and whistles and directing people to a website that leaves a lot to be desired, and similarly, having a super schmick website and asking people to come into your store and then underwhelming them is not good for business.

In a similar vein, it is essential that your website experience (and app) is cohesive and intuitive on all different devices and experiences. With growing use of mobile devices, designing and/or optimising your site to be mobile-first is critical. Use the above diagnostic platforms to ascertain what your mobile visitation is, and where it is found to be predominantly mobile, work to ensure your strategy and design strategy is mobile-first, then look to progressively improve the experience for desktops and tablets. When this is done the number of unnecessary dependencies will be reduced.

 

QUICK TIP: Google’s Mobile Website Auditor offers a minimally demanding approach to checking your site’s ease of use on mobile. The test will show your site’s score by a choice of usability criteria, like viewpoint configuration, plugins, the proximity of clickable elements and text readability.

 

 

Role of content

 

As with all marketing, solid strategy is required to ensure optimal outcomes. When it comes to content, the same rule applies. Set objectives (and ensure they work within the broader marketing strategy)

You need to develop concrete objectives and a program that consistently yields quality website content.  Identifying that which you are looking to create or inform your customers and readers is essential to planning your website content and the goals you want to achieve. From there, ensure that you understand your competition, your audience, and have identified those subjects which people have curiosity about so you can add value to them. From there, investigate and develop the keywords which need to be implemented to assist people in finding your content.

Otherwise, you may contribute a great deal of time and assets in content creation, and still botch the opportunity to connect with your customers.

However, well written, value adding content is one thing. As I mentioned above, it needs to align strategically with your overall marketing roadmap. In doing this, you need to ensure the value-add content you are creating, is supportive of the messaging you are putting out through other channels – in other words there must be some synergy. In short:  build a longer-term road map and consistently publish quality content that aligns with your enterprise-wide goals.

 

Lastly, as with all marketing, look to improve. Your content is worthless if it is not being read, or isn’t prompting other desired actions like sign-ups. Take the time to regularly identify top performing content and evaluate its performance to your other content pieces (be they blogs, vlogs, TikTok Videos, or site content). You should note the engagement rate (e.g., time on site, page views, visits, etc.) of top performing content vs. your other efforts etc.

 

 

 

Calls to action

A weak call to action (CTA) with no sense of urgency ranks as one of the primary reasons why most landing pages and sales pages fail to convert leads into customers. Hubspot found that more personalised/customised CTAs can increase conversion by as much as 202%, which, when you think about it is Huge.

Having simple buttons or Hyperlinks asking people to do something is better than nothing (‘Join’ or ‘Purchase Now’, ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Buy Now’), but enriching the CTA with relevant content will assist.

Crazy Egg have a very strong, very unique CTA which makes it very compelling to sign up. In fact, you sort of feel you are missing out if you do not sign up.

Ensuring your CTAs are working, then refining them and improving upon them is the key to improved website performance.

The need to ensure Lead sourcing messaging (SEO, PPC, email etc.) matches website content

 

Most marketers use the process of optimizing web pages and their content to be easily discoverable by users searching for terms relevant to their website. This is done through search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing in their web traffic toolboxes.

 

While this is part of generally accepted website optimization best practices, it is equally important to ensure that content aligns with the overarching strategic and programmatic content within the organization and other marketing efforts and MORE importantly, that it adds value to users.

We also recommend that businesses undertake PPC and SEO activities in unison as they can increase the performance of your website, allow you to make ongoing refinements easily, and take learnings from PPC which are fed into your Organic work.

There are many other tips we have up our sleeve, but we won’t give them all away. Suffice to say, <a class=”btn” href=”https://threepiece.marketing/contact-us/”>learn how we can help you, you should get in touch with us today.</a>

 

January 28

Driving digital marketing through Forrester’s 5Is Model | Three Piece Marketing

Read about Forrester's 5I's model and ho [...]

Welcome to 2021. 2020 was one of those years that a lot of people are happy to see in the rear-view mirror. However, our take on it is somewhat more positive. We figure, if you are reading this, are still in business and are looking to grow, then you got through the worst of 2020 and are ready to take off this year. And as people come back to work, ready to get stuck in, what better time than now to help you get up to speed with the evolving market.

After all, in order to stand the test of time and thrive in a highly competitive space, you need to equip yourself with the right skills and knowledge.  Arming yourself and your team with a valuable strategy-led framework will help you plan for the long term. Leading market research and marketing organization Forrester developed a new model – the 5I’s – a couple of years ago, however, we believe it hold merit event today and believe you can leverage it to benefit your ongoing digital marketing efforts.

 

So, what is Forrester’s 5I’s model?

Ahead of releasing the 5I model, Forrester conducted research which led them to the conclusion that the traditional marketing funnel was dead, hence they proposed ‘engagement’ as a new metric. In this, the 5 Is are basically a measure of engagement that focuses on 5 specific elements that begin with the letter ‘I’.  These are:

The model recognised that a linear progression (a sales funnel) was not as simple as it had once been, and the more a user, visitor or customer was ‘engaged’ with the brand, the more successful the outcome for the brand.

In and of itself, engagement is not a new concept, in fact it was examined and presented as a factor by many scholars, as far back as 1991, when a team from Western Michigan University shared their research on ‘the experience of flow in computer-mediated and in face-to-face groups’. In this case, ‘flow’ is about being ‘in the zone’ or being very involved with something.

 

Bringing it all back to Forrester, the team there concluded that a better model upon which to build strategy relates to the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence an individual has with a brand over time.

 

Let’s delve into each part of the Is of the model in further detail.

Let’s take each element and understand what it all means a little better.

 

Involvement is tied in with getting the client or customer involved with the brand, product or service. Normally, this is measured by utilizing website analytics, for example; page views, site traffic, time spent, etc.

 

Interaction tends to an individual’s actions, for example, buying an item, signing up for an email, posting a remark on a social network site, photo uploads and so on. This is commonly measured through customer interaction with the company or brand.

 

Intimacy is the emotion that a person shows in the things that they say or the actions in which they take. A good example is how one feels about the meanings and authenticity of a product review or a comment left on a social network website.

 

Influence refers to the likelihood that an individual will recommend or talk about a product or service to another person in a positive way. Likewise this can also relate to brand loyalty and verbal marketing and referrals to friends, family and acquaintances. This is generally measured through share rates online, reviews and online mentioned.

 

Individual means the model puts the spotlight on the individual person, as opposed to a group of people or communities. In makes it more granular and less generalized.

 

Applying the 5 I’s of marketing strategy in today’s digital landscape

 

With improved traceability across multiple devices, the ability to monitor engagement is better than it has ever been, thus making the relevance and use of the 5Is more relevant than ever. For instance, the 5 Is can be leveraged to examine the behaviour of Pinterest users; where they begin looking for a particular thing, how they then search for more information and how they comment, engage and ask questions before or after making a purchase.

 

But the 5 I’s is not a set and forget methodology. Years’ after launching the original concept, Sean Corcoran, a member of the Forrester team, reviewed the principles in 2011. He noted: “Any good marketer knows that just getting a customer to be involved or to interact with an application or campaign is typically not enough to drive results — even basic awareness.”

 

He went on to clarify: While the 5Is may be useful and indeed each item “met”, it didn’t mean a campaign had succeeded. Rather, he proposed the best way to guarantee this model works is to zero in on the company’s objectives, ensuring that any campaigns or plans were based on relevant engagement (not vanity metrics), to attain results. Furthermore, Audience engagement with a brand ought to consistently be referred to against a timescale. For instance, the the Smart Insights RACE framework considers short-term interactions in social media which can prompt transformation and longer-term customer engagements.

 

Expanding on past research, in January 2020 Forrester published Five Consumer Lessons from the original publishing date through to 2020.

 

Lesson 1: Technology intimacy grows even as devices come and go

 

In the last decade, we saw consumer ‘flow’ advancing. Specifically, customer-centric innovations unleashed a craving within consumers for improved digital intimacy – also known as customisation. In fact, they now almost demand it.

 

Even as consumers cycled through devices, their dependence on personal technology has consistently grown. The proportion of consumers that acknowledge technology’s importance increased more than two-fold between 2010 and 2019.

 

The coming decade will see the coming of voice interaction and AI-enabled experiences for even closer digital experiences.

 

Lesson 2: Consumers are fueled by an “almost infinite appetite for distraction.”

 

At a dizzying pace, consumers absorbed new devices, experiences and services and were more willing to experiment – often at the expense of existing brands. Online, adults are happy to try out new brands and items, thus giving rise to market disrupting brands such as Uber, to Netflix, The Iconic, MenuLog and so forth, all coming at the expense of iconic storefronts.

 

Lesson 3: Anxious consumers crave connection

 

How people share, learn and engage has changed a lot since the 5Is were launched, but in a way which has cemented the relevance of the 5Is. In 2010, Facebook had overtaken Myspace to turn into the largest social networking site and was carefully watching a growing Twitter.

Today, as we know, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are behemoths in their own right (not withstanding the controversies and Anti-trust suits being touted) and have made engagement online even easier. In fact, consumers now crave social media so much so that there have been numerous studies showing that the first thing people do when they wake up is check social and the last thing before they sleep is do the same.

 

Lesson 4: Consumers internalize companies’ externalities

 

The political climate and, as a result, cultural and social overtones are shaping our preferences for products and services. Two presidential races shook international affairs and broke the USA’s facade of solidarity, uncovering profoundly established divisions. Across the pond, Britain’s opposing political powers caused gridlock for a nation stuck in the looming shadow of uncertainty before impending Brexit. Populist politics swept from the US to India and Hong Kong while authoritarian-driven Russia and China established new global awareness.

 

Brands that commonly skirt controversy jumped into the fray of contentious political and social debate. Consumer awareness about companies’ socio-political and cultural affiliations has been mounting for over 10 years. History demonstrates that consumers employ their wallets to make public statements about the qualities and convictions they choose to support. Where they feel a brand is aligned too closely with something they are not comfortable with, they will speak out with their voices (online) and their wallets. Case in point was Disney’s decision to drop Johnny Depp from a movie based on court decisions.

 

Lesson 5: Perception of control is the most powerful consumer motivator

 

Our notion of public and private. Movements like #MeToo and whistleblower prevalence began compelling the general population to confront tough conversations about how individuals act in private. Data privacy contours blurred as consumer awareness and tolerance of data sharing practices ebbed. Commercially, broad consumer exchange among a fast growing and sharing economy expanded the limits of the public arena and reclassified ideas of private property and ownership. What people are / were comfortable with is changing.

 

Ultimately, evolution, as always is the key to not only survival, but success. Brands that expressly welcome consumers to partake in a relationship in return for utilitarian and not just monetary gain, as well as experiential or symbolic value that strengthens consumer control will drive relevancy and through it, better customer relationships. If you want to learn more about this concept, consult the team at Three Piece Marketing, we will help you drive your strategy to new heights.

January 15

Why Bespoke Website Design is Better for your Business | Three Piece Marketing

A template website may seem fit for purpose but wh [...]

When it comes to website development, there have been a lot of leaps and bounds made with different platforms. Easy to use, templated websites that are sold as being designed for a specific industry can be found quickly and easily if you do a search. And truth is, it is easy to be tempted by a smart-looking templated design, especially if you don’t have an in-house marketing team that can develop and tailor your bespoke website and overall digital presence.

The thing is though, despite there being thousands of ready-to-use designs available online, and you think there is a template that perfectly fits what you need, there are questions and things you need to consider before choosing this option. Just because a template seemingly seems right for your business, doesn’t mean it will be good for your business, and it may actually end up doing your brand harm. After all, what you are getting is a cookie-cutter approach. Let’s take a look and compare a template vs a custom website.

 

Differences between template and custom-designed websites

Is a templated website option better than a bespoke website design, or is a custom-designed site a better option than a template or even a block-builder platforms such as Squarespace? How does a template site fare with in terms of costs, functionality, integration, security, and other important considerations?

Speed of Development

As we alluded to before, templated sites are basically pre-assembled websites. Listed on sites such as Behance, you can browse thousands of pre-developed sites where everything from the layout, to the styles, to the colours and much more are created and ready to download for you to enter your own content.

Once you make your choice, you can work with a developer or get your own hands dirty in changing the colour palette, adding logos, images and your own content before setting up the links, creating the sitemap and getting it ready to publish.

Another option you may consider is a block-builder site such as Squarespace, WebFlow, or Bubble. These platforms are designed in such a way that you can drag elements (say a block of text, or even a video placeholder) to an area of the page you want it to be and then populate it with the content you want.

In essence, what may take a couple of weeks for a developer to build from scratch, may take you half the time to create in a block-builder or to download, customise, and then launch.

 

If getting to market quickly is of importance, then a template design, or website builder platform may be the choice for you.

Flexibility in design

Getting your site live may be something you want to do quickly and cheaply (more on that below) and thus a template is the way you want to go. However, it is a generally accepted fact that pre-built websites are not entirely flexible or adaptable and, in many ways, (some expected and some unexpected) the site owner is restricted to the parameters of the format.

For starters, applying brand identity consistently is often difficult as you are often (extremely) restricted in terms of what you can do with the template. Layout functionality, site navigation, the number of options you can display, and even the number of categories you can show for a product, maybe limited thus impeding the overall user experience.

Another problem we often see when clients (eventually) come to us for support is that the template used was built utilising substandard and outdated code. This is in part, a potential cause of the aforementioned lack of flexibility, but above and beyond this, it also can have negative effect on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The code-base itself may be written in such a way to make the site look amazing, but it does little to assist with ensuring your site and the content within it can be easily found and indexed. Furthermore, code-bloat (where the ratio of code to the amount of text is too high) can cause the site to load slower than it ideally should, causing your site ranking to drop and more importantly, potential visitors to get annoyed with the time it takes for your site to load. In this way, poor coding can affect overall user experience.

Browser compatibility issues

Looking great is one part of the user experience puzzle. Another issue with templates and platforms such as Wix is that not all templates – nor the designs you choose – will necessarily work the way they are intended to across all web browsers either. Where a bespoke web designer will write the code for, and then test on Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer and other browsers, a template site is left to you to test. Great if it all works as you expect, but what do you do if you find that your site is not performing on the newest browsers as expected? You will need to either learn to code or even find a new template which you need to start from scratch with.

Our tip if you really need to use an out-of-box website is to be as thorough as possible in ensuring your site will meet the latest and upcoming standards (including inbuilt mobile responsiveness), as this will ensure good UX and also give you a greater chance to achieve your marketing goals.

As some templates have been around for some time, they will not take advantage of the most recent innovative technology and trends, hence their design may not be easily responsive across a number of devices. With worldwide Internet access toping 3 billion people and, practically 40% of web browsing done on mobile devices or tablets it is imperative you do not ignore the power of a responsive design and format for your website.

 

Plugin Compatibility issues

Another not-so-fun fact about using templates which require plugins is that whilst the plugins may be updated, the older codebase may mean that site-security is at risk.

Suffice to say, there are two types of template website users; those who HAVE been hacked, and those who WILL be hacked. Taking the path of least resistance, many hackers know that template website platforms are not the most secured and can easily discover weaknesses on similar sites and exploit others with the same attack type, doing untold damage and reputational damage to a business.

It might not seem serious, yet template sites fundamentally give hackers an online guide to your front door. Once there, using specialised software, they can start guessing your password which is a great danger to the safety of your data. While you will likely save money by not needing custom coding, you run a huge risk of being hostage to plugin developers and hackers who do damage which requires you to spend time and money fixing things.

In essence, a template site is likely to become quickly outdated, especially with so many plugins and software updates happening on one platform. Installing these into a theme all crammed with code is a recipe for disaster and huge tech support costs.

Lastly, the open-source nature of some template websites is another danger to be mindful of. Since the framework publicises changes and security measures with each release (part of their ongoing marketing as much as a patch to fix the old problems) this information is accessible to developers and hackers. Although precise code changes aren’t detailed, anybody with some backend development experience can peruse the public data and distinguish weaknesses that were rectified in the new releases, and know precisely where to focus in sites with previous versions of software.

Fit for Purpose, not Fit For you

Let’s call it as we see it. A template or drag and drop site may market itself as fit for purpose (there are pages and pages of options for people looking for sites for florists, websites for small business and websites for eCommerce shops), but what is right for an overall industry is not necessarily right for you. After all, you did not go into business to offer the same as everyone else, so why would you want to market yourself the same as everyone else?

A template may be customizable to some extent, but is it right for you? Does it mirror your brand, does it make life easier for you and will it allow you to easily scale? If not, then why would you use something that will only make your life more complicated later?

 

Building a Website From Scratch

So, what are your website choices as an established or new business looking to improve your online presence?

Template and out-of-box website solutions have some advantages: Quick to build, relatively cheap to deploy and there are thousands of them, making it easy for people who may lack creative and development nous. However, once the site is downloaded, the issues can begin, especially for those who lack experience in development.

If you are looking for a site which presents your brand in the best possible way, then build a custom website (also known as a ‘bespoke’ site) that is tailor-made set to the particular expectations of your business.

Yes, you will need to engage a team who will design and work on it, but you will be getting the expertise of people who will make it as pain-free for you as possible – now and into the future. We understand, it will obviously require a more significant investment, yet it is the most ideal approach to create a unique and interesting experience that can have an impact on your market.

Once you have your strategy, designers and developers invest their energy breaking down your requirements, interpreting your brief; involving you at each stage to develop a design unique to your needs. Additionally, this ensures the business and/or brand identity remains consistent all through guaranteeing an overall positive user experience.

At Three Piece Marketing (and we are sure most other digital agencies) we build sites using the most recent W3C HTML and CSS coding practices, design with flair that lets your site shine and stay on top of the best plugins for your needs. In other words, you get function and aesthetics which you know will work. Developers ensure that your website is optimised for search engines and works with various browsers. We also ensure the design is aesthetically pleasing across many desktop formats, mobile devices, and tablets and, should we are on-hand after launch to help rectify any technical issues that may occur.

When you pay more for bespoke website design services, you are investing in; experience, advice and information and this guarantees that your online presence does the things you need it to – build your brand. You can also design your bespoke website to grow and develop in tandem with your business; whether through plugins, integration with other platforms or any other reason. This ensures that future expansion and changes on the site can be hassle free and actualized seamlessly.

 

If you are here on our website researching which option is the best for you, then let’s have a chat. There is no obligation, other than your time in having a chat to determine what will work best for you. We are here to help.

December 11

Why Brand Reputation is Important | Three Piece Marketing

Positive brand reputation increases customer loyal [...]

I have a few core truths I hold to when it comes to marketing, and one I reference quite often is that Consistency is the key to success. It matters not if you are an athlete, a chef or a small business; if you are not consistently churning out the results, you will fail to achieve what you want. In commercial terms, consistency truly shapes your brand reputation. If people know what to expect, then they can trust you and what you say.

Now we know, every business’s ultimate goal is to earn the trust of their target audience and to have consistently positive perceptions ementating from the market. But there is a large gap between knowing something and making it a reality. As we move towards the end of the year we enter a period of time where many people step back from the grind and start to plan ahead. If you are one of these people, then take the time to think not only about your goals, but also about your brand and building your brand reputation.

 

What is brand management?

The process of building, overseeing, and improving a brand is, in the simplest form, Brand Management. It is basically the art and specialty of creating a brand and making sure it endures, through a process of analytical and planning processes concerning how the market perceives your brand and the process of understanding existing perceptions, and then seeking to (re)align perceptions by changing internal processes, designs, pricing, service etc so the two sides are in equilibrium.

In more simple terms, brand reputation management is the process of defining a promise to the market and keeping it. This entails the definition of the brand, positioning the brand, and delivering the brand.

Try this; think of a brand. Anything. It could be Hertz, Starbucks, Disney or even your local Thai restaurant. How does the brand make you feel? Does it fill you with confidence, are they expensive? Do they produce quality items? Do they meet expectations? All of these factors shape their perception of your brand.

Customers connect emotionally with brands and use brands as a means to show and express, “This is what I stand for.” This is why people are so fiercely Apple or android lovers. People connect with brands that stand for things that are important to them and remain loyal to brands, turning to advocates for those brands.

The best part of solid brand management is that brand equity is built over time. When people know your brand without necessarily having used your products then your brand is doing the heavy lifting for your ongoing growth. But conversely, poor brand management, or failing to maintain your brand

 

Unfortunately, there are some great brands that have found themselves at the mercy of the market due to poorly managed expectations and as a result, poor brand reputation.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

 

The statement above stems from Warren Buffet the notable investor and it should be at the forefront of all brand management thoughts and strategies. This is on the grounds that it addresses brand and reputation, values that many businesses ought not to ignore – but do.

Due to social media and social reviews, a positive brand reputation is more significant now than perhaps any other time in history. Keeping up a positive brand image increases customer loyalty, builds trust in the market, and can even help position you as an innovator in your space if that is the way you want to go. The key is to know what your business goals are and to then align your strategy in a way that can make a meaningful impact – and because this is more authentic, it will be more likely to be consistent.

But it is not an easy feat, in fact, brands large and small can run afoul of the customer if they stray even a little from their brand persona. To illustrate my point, let’s take a look at three well know brands that failed to offer consistency across all touch points and thus, got it wrong.

 

United Airlines

Physically dragging a passenger along the floor might not be the best way to deal with an overbooked flight. However, it’s what United Airlines did in April 2017, The Guardian reported.

Four airline employees needed to be on the plane and as per the company’s policy, United offered travellers cash to surrender their seats, sadly nobody volunteered. United’s employees at that point chose to select four travellers for automatic de-boarding, by gauging various factors, for example, corresponding flights and how long the delay will leave the client at an airport.

One of the passengers selected refused to give up the seat he’d paid for because as a doctor he needed to see his patients in the morning.

Security forced him out of his seat and dragged him screaming down the aisle, leaving him bloodied.  According to his lawyer, the passenger lost two teeth and suffered a concussion in the incident. Recorded by several other passengers, the event was posted online with United Airlines receiving a huge backlash. According to CNN their market value fell by almost 1 billion dollars.

 

Tesco

In 2016 a boy was awarded £3,000 from Tesco for being unfairly stopped and searched seemingly only because he was of mixed race.

According to the lawsuit, it argued that he hadn’t displayed any suspicious behaviours when he visited the Maida Vale store in 2013.  In any case, this didn’t keep him from being grabbed and confined in a back room with no clarification by a worker. Only after he was searched by employees was he was permitted to leave.

The boy was left shaken by the experience with solicitors making a successful claim for race discrimination after Tesco agreed to “settle the case with no admission of liability.” As a store chain that promoted a wholesome, family value, this ran contrary to what they delivered resulting in consumer backlash.

 

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is one of the world’s oldest brands, founded in 1852.  The Wells Fargo’s logo—a stagecoach drawn by eight horses—was specifically intended to evoke that kind of nostalgia with the company eulogised in The Music Man, the Oscar-winning 1962 musical.

By 2019, however, the Wells Fargo brand had been genuinely tarnished. In late 2016, it was uncovered that the organisation goosed up its business numbers by opening many fake accounts without consent. Subsequently, the organization was fined $525 million and has paid $15 billion in settlements. From that point forward, the company has been attempting urgently to rebrand the embarrassment out of existence.

Dishonorable Mentions

These three brands are not the only ones who mismanaged their brand. Here are a few others that got it very wrong

  • Volkswagen when they were found to have tampered with the car emissions recorded in order to achieve higher ratings
  • Bic pen’s promotion that encouraged women to use their pens and “act like a lady, think like a man”,
  • Ford in American ran an advertisment during the era of #metoo. During the saga, they ran an ad with 3 women bound and gagged in the boot (to show the space). They were accused of being tone deaf and at odds with women.
  • Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica example that shone a light on the privacy (or lack thereof) of the social giant, which was trying to nurture an image of being there for the community first and foremost.

Learning from the giants that fell – putting it into practice

Ok, so now you know what can go wrong, if you want to avoid the misfortunes of the brands mentioned above, here are some highly-effective brand reputation management tactics for improving your brand reputation and growing your business.

 

Excel at content marketing

A key component of inbound marketing, content marketing consists of producing educational content that solves common problems for your audience. It is a critical element of effective brand reputation management. Produce; eBooks, blogs, infographics, etc., that will educate rather than have a sales-oriented angle. The more value you add, the more people come to – wait for it – value you.

 

Improve customer satisfaction

This is an easy decision. Fulfilled clients remain with you longer, spend more on your products and services, providing solid and long-term income streams. Ensure you have programs or methods in place to foster ongoing engagement with your would-be customers all the way through to post-purchase.

 

Focus on the customer experience

If you don’t deliver a stellar customer experience, customers and prospects will look for a competitor that does. This is because customer trends are constantly changing and they are making purchasing decisions based on experience rather than price point.

 

Your customer support should be on point

Customers are looking to have their support issues resolved quickly and effectively. The better you handle this the better your brand reputation will be. The worse you are/the longer they wait for example, the worse your reputation.

The use of reputation management software such as help desk automation systems can help you streamline the process – and keep track of issues which you can in turn use to improve processes.

 

Use social listening tools to respond to negative comments

It’s important that you respond as quickly as possible when someone posts a negative comment about your brand on social media. Negative sentiment fans out quickly via social media, so you have to put that fire out at the earliest opportunity. You can do this by utilizing social media listening tools.

Respond to the comment as quickly as possible when you get a notification and make sure when you respond you are adding value and not downplaying or criticising the poster. Diplomacy and empathetic responses are the best since all your responses will be publicly-visible for the world to see.

The Linchpin – Foster brand advocates

Satisfied customers, employees, or anyone else who loves your brand are arguably your brand advocates. For me, advocacy is better than testimonials, as advocates are people willing to promote your name at all times, not just when asked. They become the most effective tool for brand reputation management, enough to speak positively about it and recommend it to others in a way that makes them an active sales agent for your business. They will promote your business from a third-party perspective, and represent social proof – one of the best motivations for potential buyers there is. They are not easy to get, but if you look after your customers at every touchpoint and can be consistent with them, then maybe, – and I am not guaranteeing it, as you can’t do that – you stand a greater chance of improving your reputation and through this, improving your business.

December 11

WordPress Plugins to Improve Your Website’s Performance | Three Piece Marketing

Want to know how to improve your website’s perform [...]

You’re a savvy marketer/businessowner, right? So you know that it’s not enough to just have a website, upload content and an odd blog, and sit back hoping your target market find you online – right? As a business, you need to take proactive steps in order to ensure that you are visible to search engines, that you are optimizing content that is contextual, and that you are doing all you can to ensure your website ranks well so it appears high up on the SERP (search engine results page).

But here is the thing, with the ever evolving algorithm updates that Google, Bing and others undertake, not only do you need to ensure you have a good search engine optimisation strategy in place but that you are considering options for the back end of your site that will help boost site performance – specifically essential plugins designed to improve site metrics.

Whilst we will help clients with a number of different CMS platforms (from WordPress to Kentico, to Shopify etc) in this article, we wanted to focus on improving WordPress sites with plugins.

 

First things first… why do we need plugins?

Plugins are tools that expand what you can do with your WordPress website without having to manually write or edit codes. These website tools make it easier to add more functionalities to your website.

But best of all, not only do plugins improve your codebase, but they can be used to effectively ensure that two different components or even platforms can work together where they may otherwise have operated individually.

 

Here are some of the most commonly used yet highly valuable Website plugins that you can take advantage of.

 

SEO plugins you should consider for your WordPress site

Yoast SEO

This is the most popular SEO plugin on WordPress. With an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars, it is deemed as the favourite optimisation tool that those with little to no knowledge of SEO can use.

Yoast SEO has XML sitemaps functionality and technical WordPress SEO options. It will tell you how to best incorporate your target keyword, whether you have used the keyword enough times on the page. Further, it makes the process of optimising your title, meta description, and URL for the keyword relatively simple.

It comes with a page analysis feature, allowing it to quickly scan any web page for images, ensuring that each one has an alt tag that matches the primary keyword for the post. It checks your content for length and confirms if your meta description is satisfactory. If you are not using Yoast, or something very similar, you should be.

 

All In One SEO Pack

The All In One SEO pack has a lot of the same functionalities as Yoast SEO, however, it’s just a little more customisable and has a few extra features.

With this website plugin, you don’t need any experience to get started. All you need to do is input the right data in the right fields, and the plugin will do the rest. In fact, some inputs are designed to limit your interaction, as you can stick to the defaults or you can change the format, whichever you prefer.

Additional features include automatically generating and submitting sitemaps to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other popular search engines that can help maximise your web presence.

Overall, this must-have WordPress plugin will let you control your site however you want.

 

W3 Total Cache

Site speed is a big ranking factor for search engines and that is where W3 Total Cache plugin comes into the picture. Although it is often called site speed, it should be referred to as Page speed as it is a measure of how quickly key pages of your site load. As Moz reports, page speed affects User experience and thus, is one of the signals used by the Google algorithm to rank pages.

This must-have WordPress plugin can  help identify where and how to improve your site’s speed as well as the overall user experience through caching, minifying, and CDN integrations so that you can minimise your download times.

 

Rank Math

Rank Math is perhaps the most powerful WordPress SEO plugin. How so? Well, it is a combination of being feature-packed and user-friendly.

It has Google Search Console Integration, redirection (301, 302, 307, 410, 451), card previews for Facebook and Twitter, and Rich Snippets Markup, which displays additional valuable information alongside the title, description and URL.

Also, it has 404 error monitor that can let you eliminate the issues by redirecting or reinstating a dead page and removing internal links to the 404. Rank Math even tells you the referrer so you can see where the link was clicked.

But the best part is that this WP plugin helps you optimise your site by providing real-time insights about your posts without having to leave the WordPress interface.

 

Optimisation and Insight Plugins for WordPress

MonsterInsights

Jumping back and forth between your website and Google Analytics can take up a lot of time. If you are finding this is the case, then MonsterInsights will be of great help.  MonsterInsights brings Google Analytics right to your WordPress dashboard which provides insights on how to improve your site.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to see exactly how people find and use your website. It has a content report that shows which pages on your site are visited the most,  allowing you to make decisions on how to create more content that is interesting, engaging, and which drives end goals; all without leaving your site.

If you want a simplified and streamlined way to look at your stats, then MonsterInsights is the right website plugin for you.

 

Broken Link Checker

When you create more and more content, it can be difficult to manage your site. So, this where Broken Link Checker comes to the rescue.

By its name, this WP plugin helps check your content for broken links and images, both internal and external. Broken Link Checker keeps a watchful eye on your website by notifying you of any broken links.

Once you’re notified of any problems, you can easily fix the issue as it provides you a list of suggested replacements built from working links. Plus, it runs in the background all the time, so it continuously checks for issues.

As your site expands, as pages go offline or are replaced, you don’t want your site to be littered with broken links. Broken Link Checker allows you to focus on your work, not worrying about broken links that may affect the UX or search crawlers.

 

WPtouch Mobile Plugin

In today’s day and age, your website should be mobile-friendly, right? So, let WPtouch Mobile Plugin help you out. From logging in to social media sites to browsing services and products, it is important that your website can easily be viewed with just a touch of the fingertips.

WPtouch Mobile plugin “automatically adds a simple and elegant mobile theme for mobile visitors to your WordPress website.” This ensures that any mobile visitor of your website can review your content in a seamless manner.

Once the plugin is installed, you can use the administration panel to customise the mobile appearance of your content or select a default option which takes the decision making away.

If you don’t have the time, money, or resources to hire a developer to make your website mobile-friendly, then WPtouch Mobile Plugin might be the plugin you need.

 

Security Plugins for WordPress

All In One WP Security & Firewall

A super fast, well indexed website is great, but not if it comes at the expense of site security. Sure, WordPress is designed to be secure, but there are a lot of risks and ‘nasty people’ out there, so doing a little bit more to protect your website (and customer data) from these risks is essential. This is where All In One WP Security & Firewall is a godsend.

One of the best features is it provides a security points score based on your current set up, but beyond this there are many security features this website plugin offers such as password strength tool, stop user enumeration, and most importantly, the ability to detect any accounts with identical display names or logins, which poses a high risk from hackers trying to access your website.

This tool exists to protect your site. And we highly recommend you implement this or a similar tool. Not only does it protect your data, but evidence shows when a website is hacked your search performance may be negatively affected.

 

Wordfence

Similar to All In One WP Security & Firewall, Wordfence offers great security for your website. This is probably one of the most popular WordPress security plugins and for good reason.

Wordfence provides powerful protection tools such as strong login security features and security incident recovery. One of its best features is you can gain insight into overall traffic trends and hack attempts.

From firewall blocks to protection from powerful attacks, Wordfence is an impressive free solution. Whilst there is a paid version which may be an option for larger sites and organisations, the free version is powerful enough for smaller websites.

In a nutshell, Wordfence checks online core files, bad URLs, SEO spam, malicious redirects, code injections, themes and plugins for malware, and backdoor access code. Plus, it has the added benefit of checking your website for known security vulnerabilities.

 

WPForms

WPForms is the most beginner-friendly WordPress contact form plugin out there; but best of all it is both easy and powerful.

WPForms has drag & drop online form builder which makes it easy to use. You can easily create an amazing form in only a few minutes without using or writing any code. Plus with pre-built form templates which you can choose from you can save even more time.

The platform allows you to develop forms which allow you to not only design contact forms, but forms that you can use to collect payments, donations, or process online orders, survey & polls add-on all without hiring a developer. And for those of you who need to facilitate subscriptions, WPForms can integrate with your preferred email marketing platform.

Another thing is WPForms has survey & polls add-on which we have found to be one of the best WordPress survey solutions. Use it for things such as interactive survey reports, real-time polls, and survey fields like star rating, likert scale, NPS, and more.

But, it doesn’t stop there: WPForms also offers you the ability to build forms with smart conditional logic, file upload, geo location, form abandonment, and user registration for WordPress. You can see all your form submission right inside your WordPress dashboard and get customised email notifications.

If this is not one of the best tools out there, we’d be highly surprised.

 

UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus is one of the best WordPress backup plugins. With over a million active installs, it is regarded as the most popular backup solution for WordPress.

One of the main benefits of UpdraftPlus is that is allows you to perform full, manual, or scheduled backups without a fuss. This lets you backup your entire website including your database and all WordPress files. Additionally, you can schedule a backup to run automatically, giving you peace of mind that at all times, you have a copy of your important data.

With the ability to backup to a remote location, this is highly recommended to help you secure your information from server-wide risks. It supports multiple cloud storage options such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Amazon S3.

UpdraftPlus has an Importer add-on that helps you restore your website from any other backup plugins as well.  This website plugin makes it easy to set up and restore a backup for new users and it supports more cloud backup options than most other plugins.

 

ShortPixel Image Optimiser

ShortPixel is an easy-to-use, lightweight, and install-and-forget-about-it image optimisation plugin. This WP plugin can compress all your previous images and PDF documents with a single click while new images are automatically rescaled and optimised in the background.

The best part is that it increases your website’s SEO ranking by optimising any image or PDF document on your website. It has both lossy and lossless optimisation available.

It offers glossy JPEG compression which is a very high-quality lossy optimisation algorithm. Optimised images means better user experience and better UX means better site engagement.

As it supports almost all image formats (JPG, PNG, GIF, PDF, WedP), with no file size restrictions, it is a powerful and easy to use tool. Plus, it has the option to automatically convert PNG to JPG or GIF that will result in smaller images, with little to no impact for most sites (If you are a photographer wishing to show off your image quality, then maybe this is not for you).

If your website has been found to be too slow because of a number of uncompressed images, then ShortPixel is the tool that will help you.

 

Final Thoughts

This list may seem quite comprehensive, but truth is, we are really only scratching the surface. We will do another blog in the next little while focused on plugins which can aid business performance. This was more a look at plugins designed to improve site performance and to simplify your CMS life. For any advice, help in updating your CMS or existing plugins, tidying up your WP environment, or anything else, get in touch with us and let’s have a chat.

November 20

Voice Activated Search Marketing | Three Piece Marketing

Voice searches are on the rise. So what do you nee [...]

For the last two years, voice-powered devices (Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana) have been infiltrating our places of work and home. Our ability to talk to them, ask them things, or ask for help to identify what we need has made them somewhat ubiquitous. Part of this is to facilitate home automation and part of it is voice activated search.

We know what it means personally, but what does it mean for our businesses? What do we need to do to improve our ability to be found via voice search—what should we do to help people faster and more soundly? And what do we need to know from a security point of view from the perspective of our customers?

There are a few things we can do; the key is knowing what.

Who uses voice search?

Ok so don’t believe us that voice search is as big as it is? Maybe these statistics will make you realise that it is time for you to get serious about optimising your business for voice search.

  • According to Google, 20 per cent of today’s queries are voice searches.
  • In a study by HubSpot, voice searches have increased by 3,400 per cent between 2008 and 2017.
  • Around 65 per cent of the people who use Amazon Echo, Google Home, and other similar voice assistant technologies use their smartphones less often. This means they are relying on the results of the platform they ask to make the decision.
  • A research by iProspect revealed that there’s a 57 per cent adoption of voice search in Australia, rooted mostly on utility.
  • The Works and the University of Technology Sydney surveyed 2,000 Australians and found that almost seven in 10 people now use their voice to interact with assistants and smart speakers.

How do Australians use voice technology?

By our very nature, Australian’s are not known as early adopters. It is why Australia has been used as a test market so extensively over the years. However, when it comes to voice technology, Australians seem to have no reservations at all. In fact, in 2018 alone, there were already 1.35 million Australian households using smart speakers at home, and they were using them extensively on a daily basis.

Some of the most common uses of voice assistants in Australian homes include weather check, daily news updates, as well as music and film consumption.

In a survey by The Works and the University of Technology Sydney, 58 per cent of Australians said they use voice tech to get the latest news; entertainment inquiries represented 53 per cent; events research was 40 per cent; transport information, 37 per cent; restaurants, 34 per cent; health, 31 per cent; travel, 30 per cent, and retail, 39 per cent.

 

So what does this mean to you as a business?

More and more people are shifting to using their voices to consume content, to find answers to their questions, and even command their mobile devices—simply because doing so is more convenient and faster than typing. It also means they do not need to stop what they are doing.

In fact, when Google AdWords rebranded as Google Ads, it was already preparing to move away from keyword-based advertising, acknowledging the fact that audiences and machine learning will come into play.

As a business, it is therefore essential that you optimise your digital marketing activities to match the behaviour of your audience. If your target market is using voice search more, then you need to adapt to this change right away or be left behind.

Here are some of the most important things that you can do:

  • Focus on conversational questions and answers rather than on keywords. In other words, contextual search. Voice search technology now continues to evolve and it now values context even more. In fact, search engines have dramatically improved to be able to interpret natural phrases. Therefore, opt for long-tail keywords over short ones.
  • Ensure that your content is designed to answer the common and possible questions that your target market will most likely ask. Identify what their common pain points are, list down the possible concerns they have, and provide concise yet helpful answers. You can even start with a headline in question form and start your article directly with an answer to the question posted in the headline.
  • Take advantage of schema markup and rich snippets. Inject the code in your website so that search engines like Google can better understand the context of your question-and-answer content and FAQs.
  • Target hyper-local queries (restaurants in Sydney, hotels near me) especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store. Make sure your operating hours, addresses, contact information, and other important Google My Business information is always (and we mean always) up-to-date. Don’t forget to include a good description that will immediately tell your potential customers what your business is all about. Because this is what Google (and others) will read out to your customers.
  • Make sure that your website utilises responsive design. As we all know, most voice searches happen with the use of a smartphone so it is just right that your website should also be mobile-friendly in case they do choose to pick up their phone and look at what has been found.

Is voice search really the future?

We’ll really never know where voice technology will bring us 5 years from now. But with its impressive popularity worldwide, it is not something that you should ignore. You need to go back to the planning table and adjust your digital marketing strategy to start optimising for voice search.

Remember, voice assistants are continuously improving, with their accuracy and comprehension ability increasing by the day. Before this industry becomes saturated and more marketers have jumped into the trend, take advantage of this period to get ahead of your competitors.

If you need help with voice search optimisation and other intentional digital marketing strategies, contact our team at Three Piece Marketing.

November 16

Snapshot view: The Best in Interactive Digital Marketing | Three Piece Marketing

What is interactive content marketing and what can [...]

Let’s start at the very beginning with a definition: Interactive marketing involves marketing initiatives that are triggered by potential customers’ interactions (hence the term interactive), behaviours, and preferences. It differs from traditional marketing in that it is more one-to-one than one-to-many. Ideally, the audience feels that they are getting something that is suited to them.

With that covered off, perhaps the best way to wrap your head around this concept is to see examples of best-of-breed. In this blog, we review 5 great interactive marketing campaigns and summarise why they are so good.

 

Nove Bike’s Aero X Design Your Own

Perth-based bespoke custom bicycle company Nove Bikes gives its customers full control in designing their bike through their website-based customisation tool. Shoppers can choose the frame, colour, specs, the wheels, groupset, saddle,  and more, all with the intent of ensuring the buyer gets a bike that matches their individual style, their riding sport, and what is best for them. The tool basically shows an updated look of the bicycle, every time a user clicks on an additional part, until the desired look and specs are achieved.

 

What makes Nove Bike’s Design Your Own Bicycle a great interactive marketing activity?

The bicycle customisation tool gives buyers peace of mind because they can visualise the final look of their bicycle before hitting the Order Now button.

If you are more than an occasional biker, and take it a little seriously, you know that a bicycle is a series investment and it usually takes someone many hours of deliberation before finally deciding the specs and look they want for this specific purchase. By giving a customer the power to design their own bicycle, the user is likely to come back more often to tweak the order and this, in turn, will engage them and move them through the buying journey more quickly, thereby shortening the gap toward conversion and decreasing the probability of overall cart abandonment.

 

Clinique’s Foundation Finder

In an attempt to help women (and men) simplify the process of finding the perfect foundation that matches their exact skin tone, makeup brand Clinique launched a simple experiential tool called Foundation Finder. Basically, a website visitor answers a series of questions starting with their skin tone. Different images of women with different skin tones are shown and the would-be customer  just needs to select the one that is closest to their own skin colour. After that, she will be asked additional questions such as her undertone, her makeup coverage preference, and overall skin goals. Once she completes the interactive questionnaire, Clinique comes up with the foundation shades most suited to the person’s skin tone, which is based on the provided information.

 

Why is Clinique’s Foundation Finder a good interactive marketing tactic?

Similar to the above, the Foundation Finder is a great way to offer a personalised service to Clinique’s target market outside the physical store. It’s a move designed to make it feel like you have an in-store consultant working with you online to assist those who don’t know what product fits them. The more the consumer shares information about her skin, her preferences on shades, and other concerns, the more customised the skincare product recommendations from the AI consultant will be.

For all businesses, integrating an experiential website feature such as the Foundation Finder is important for big and small brands alike because it helps narrow down the gap between the Consideration and Conversion stages in the buyer journey. Because someone is there guiding the customer real time—with the latter providing input and engaging through an interactive medium, and because the purchase is monetarily much smaller than say a bike, there is an increased chance that the customer will add the recommended products to their cart purchase them right in the same session.

Samsung Unpacked 1H launch

In February 2020, Samsung, together with its executive marketing agency Cheil Worldwide, unveiled the brand’s latest phone model via a Livestream—a virtual event that had 55 million views worldwide.

The product launch showcased the power of the new Galaxy S20 devices, which themselves were exclusively used to cover the Unpacked event, moving away from the traditional studio cameras. With millions of people watching from different parts of the world, Samsung was able to demonstrate the high-quality broadcasting power of smartphones.

 

Why is the Samsung’s 1H Launch a successful experiential interactive content marketing?

Let’s be honest, a typical product launch is usually filled with bells and whistles. Sure there are a lot of product attributes that are promoted, but a lot of it is a gimmick. While the features and benefits of the product are highlighted (oh look a new emoji), they are not really put into use in the event itself.

With Samsung’s Galaxy S20-powered virtual launch, consumers were able to witness, first-hand, the exceptional functionalities of the latest smartphone from the brand. They were able to see—live—the photo and video capturing capabilities of Galaxy S20 in a large-scale, real-time experience, putting whatever doubts and reservations consumers have against the smartphone to rest.

 

Tinder’s Swipe Night

Dating app Tinder has rolled out an interactive content series where users can join in a virtual apocalyptic adventure and decide what happens next. This is how it works:

  • Users are shown different choices across various episodes
  • They select their choice by swiping
  • Their selection becomes visible in their individual Tinder profiles.
  • Others see what they have chosen, thus providing more detail about the other person than before.

According to this popular matchmaking application, such experiential activity will trigger great conversation starters and possibly, a starting point to finding love.

What made the Swipe Night a hit interactive digital marketing move?

Swiping left and right on Tinder can get old (That’s what we heard anyhow). IF you fail to provide a reason for people to want to engage with you, then they will look to other alternatives that provide what they want in a way which piques their interest.

Activities like the Swipe Night is a great way to reignite the users’ interest in Tinder and to sustain engagement. In fact, in the US where it initially launched prior to its global release in September 2020, the matches on Tinder increased by 26 percent and the messages rose by 12% — all thanks to the Swipe Night.

 

LEGO Wear and Snapchat’s QR Code-Powered Pop-Up

At this year’s London Fashion Week, LEGO Wear decided to forego the traditional showcase of clothing worn by models. Instead, they partnered with Snapchat and created a pop-up store that didn’t have any clothing at all other than a giant Snapcode.

When scanned in Snapchat, the customer was brought to a virtual reality setup complete with the LEGO Wear clothing collection, exclusive items for purchase, an arcade machine, an interactive DJ booth, and even a LEGO bouncer.

 

What made the augmented reality pop-up store stand out?

Lego is big when it comes to the offline world. People are known to converge in their brick and mortar stores as well as in their theme parks in order to enjoy their latest offerings.

By partnering with Snapchat and creating an interactive digital marketing experience for the customers, Lego was able to bridge the gap between its offline community and its online following through a shared passion.

 

The Key to it all

Like all marketing, success is rarely a fluke. It takes time, well-considered execution, and of course, a sound strategy that ties it all together. You will not achieve success through a wing and a prayer, nor will every brand find that interactive marketing works for them. However, if you have the time (the summer shutdown is coming) to sit down, discuss your options and why you need an interactive campaign, you may just find that you can come up with something that really differentiates you, but more importantly, which makes your customers want to engage with you even more.

November 07

Content Marketing Strategy for 2021 | Blog | Three Piece Marketing

Stay relevant and top-of-mind with solid content a [...]

The pandemic has changed how consumers behave and now as we head to the end of the year, as marketers it is our job more than ever, to shift our content marketing approaches so as to engage and add value to customers. There is fatigue from old messaging, there are shifts in the value propositions people react to, and there is a real shift in what is important to people. Frankly, if you do not adapt to your target audience’s rapidly shifting behaviours, then you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities for your business. And with research from The Content Marketing Institute showing that 72% of marketers have results that show content marketing increases leads, having content for your consumers is essential.

 

But therein lies the question: how can you ensure you are providing the right content for the right consumer at the right time especially in this new world?  Here are our top content marketing approaches that you should consider.

 

What are businesses doing wrong?

Actually, let’s step it back a bit – let’s look at what businesses are doing wrong, then reframe it to look at what you should be doing.

Being online is not a guarantee that you will be able to drive traffic to your website and get people to purchase your products or services. Nor is having great content the secret to driving traffic either. As our founder Hamish often says to clients “I can give you the best paper on Napoleon Bonaparte, but if his history is not relevant to your business, then it shouldn’t be on your website. Content needs the X Factor to add Context”.

Here are some other areas where you may be missing the mark with your content development:

  • The lack of a clear strategy – Who cares if you have tons of content shared online? If articles and pieces are not strategically targeted to the right audience and if the information shared is irrelevant to your customers, then they are a wasted investment of time that is thus a waste of your resources.
  • Messaging that lacks intent – If you speak to your audience in a general tone, not mindful which stage they are in the buyer journey, you will have a hard time relating to them. You will sound tone-deaf and oblivious of their problems, which will make it even harder for your target market to trust you.
  • Obsessing over sales – If your content is too salesy All the time and not really structured in a way that will help resolve a customer’s problem, existing and potential customers might be turned off.
  • Not mixing your content up – You wouldn’t enjoy having the same meal every time you ate, and nor do you clients enjoy digesting the same type of content from you each time. Mix up your communication and the ways you add value – consider long form blogs, infographics, videos, newsletters, podcasts, short-form videos such as those on Instagram or TikTok.
  • Using the wrong platforms – Just because everyone is using Facebook or Instagram doesn’t mean that they are the best networks to use for your business. No matter how awesome your blog posts or your videos are, if they are distributed in the wrong places, you still won’t be able to benefit from them.

 

Developing meaningful marketing content

Being mindful of the above, developing content should be a methodical, strategy-led exercise that seeks to actively solve problems for clients and would-be clients – remember to talk to all points of your (re)purchase cycle.

Establish a well-defined plan.

 

A marketing strategy that defines the problems you solve, your audience and your point of difference is great, but if you have not considered how you will execute upon this, then you are missing a pivotal component. Make sure that your Strategy includes tone of voice, execution parameters (what to say, where to say it and even where not to) and actively solves problems. The build out a content calendar that covers everything from site content, white papers, blog content, guest editorial content, videos, social media and even press releases.

It is also important to identify meaningful key performance metrics which you can measure against so that you can make adjustments as and when needed.

 

Customise your content.

Using the buyer journey as a guide, look to create different pieces of content that will be more likely to resonate with the intended buyer group. Focussing on a “Buy Me” or “Shop Now” Call to Action (CTA) in content which should be educating those who are in the consideration phase will likely alienate the greater majority. To run with the analogy we’ve started, when visitors are still in the consideration stage, share educational videos and posts that will help them see the benefits of choosing your brand over the other.

As a word of warning: whilst the messaging should change in each piece of content you share depending, the tone of voice, and who you present as a brand should always be consistent. Do not make claims you cannot substantiate or present yourself in a way which is not ion keeping with your brand.

 

Strategise your content distribution.

As with all marketing, there is no one-size-fits-all solution in content marketing. When creating your plan, make sure that the distribution channels are identified too.

What types of content are you sharing on LinkedIn? On TikTok? On Facebook? How about on Twitter? But as importantly, should you be sharing on these platforms, or should you be keeping off some?

Further, have you considered channels beyond social media to determine where else you can distribute your content. Are you going to use a guest post service? A company newsletter or even online presentations.

But it doesn’t stop there, because as important as it is to be (or not be) on a certain platform it is just as important to work out how the different platforms work to support each other and similarly, how they drive users to progress down the funnel.

Beyond the need to consider the platforms, the inference is, you actually need to understand the platforms you are looking to use, and how your audience who use these platforms actually use them.  In other words, if you want to maximise the potential of getting your brand known online, you have to learn which platforms your target market uses, what their behaviours are, and which content format is most effective for them.

Mix It Up

Perhaps James Bond’s infamous cocktail direction is the best way to frame how you create content: Shaken not stirred. If you go out there and consistently serve up subtle variations of your content, you are really not shaking things up. People will potentially become tired of your content if you fail to serve them something new from time to time. And if they become bored, then they will shut off and you may lose a potential chunk of your audience.

Consider SEO

When you are writing content, especially content that may sit on your site, remember your SEO principles. Don’t keyword stuff, and do not look for quick wins, but if you do know that your customers may be searching on a specific term, look to add value which answers that exact query.

If you are creating images or videos, then use the description and meta data to enrich the

Monitor your performance.

Why share content if you do NOT know what is working? As we mentioned, it is important that you define metrics as part of your strategy which you can use to litmus test your content. Whether it is a landing page, a blog, or a social media video, you should have a way to measure whether your content is working. We know that the content of each piece will have its own intent and can be measured against slightly different metrics, but you should have an overall measure which you use to determine how well your strategy is working.

Measure the results of your content marketing efforts using analytics and data and then apply these insights to identify loopholes and gaps and then improve on your strategy.

Ultimately, producing content – as long as it is consistent with your overall branding – is a key approach to boosting your profile. The key is to turn ad hoc into meaningful content, as this then gives you a better chance of improving the results you get.

October 27

Brand Building towards 2021 | Three Piece Marketing

If 2020 taught us anything it's change is a r [...]

The year 2020 is proving to be a unique year. Not only has it challenged humanity with a variety of historic events, the pandemic included, but it also has seen a sudden shift in customer behaviour. Just one example; we’ve seen a drastic increase in the volume and value of online shopping, especially as regards people purchasing their groceries and personal hygiene items via the web.

But what we have also seen is an outpouring of support for small businesses, where the community have come together to support their local businesses, and similarly, we have seen the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses who have transitioned from what they were doing to a brand new model of operation.

Now, as we move deeper into Q4, 2020, we may think the year is done, but truth is, the trends that have sprung up, are likely to push through the Christmas period and into 2021 and become future branding reality.

Any business and entrepreneur worth their salt realises that building a brand character requires a solid comprehension of who they are, the market around them and what others are doing. This enables a business to set itself up and its products or services to stand out from the crowd so to speak.

To do our part to help you as a business, here are some of the things we encourage you to consider so that you not only maintain your relevancy next year, but improve your business, consider these some simple Branding Opportunities.

Technological disruption in online presence

It is projected that there will be 3.02 billion social media users worldwide by 2021.This, represents almost half the world population and by inference means there is a massive market out there looking for the right business to solve their needs. Whilst not every business can leverage the worldwide market (we know that a local restaurant is not targeting women in Nairobi for example) the point we are trying to make is that there are platforms and solutions which you should be leveraging to boost your profile. And just because you are not targeting that lady in Nairobi I mentioned, does not mean that if you are a restaurant in Sale (Victoria), that once your COVID restrictions lift, you should not look to market yourself to someone in St Kilda – because let’s face it, once those restrictions lift, Victorians are going to be ready to explore near and far.

. Social media represents a chance to interface with customers who meet your target profiles. However, we are not just talking targeted advertising or social posting, but rather, value-adding via engagement.

In fact, businesses can build genuine, lasting connections and relationships when they leverage technology like chatbots and other software applications that allow you to effectively communicate with an audience in real time – a solution which can amplify campaigns and enhance online branding efforts.

Best of all, however, these platforms offer the opportunity to do more than just try and boost sales. In fact, they can be used at different points of the customer life cycle for the purposes of deepening connection.

Makeup brand Sephora, for instance, resolved its customer experience and service issues by engaging chatbots to keep up with the demands of their thousands of customers who wanted personalised attention simultaneously in real-time. It created an AI-run personal assistant that provides shopping recommendations to customers through product reviews and ratings.

Another notable brand leveraging technology to ensure their customers’ experience with them is easy and convenient is Pizza Hut. Whether they’re using Twitter or Facebook, customers can order their favourite pizza via personal messaging and even pay and have the food delivered to their homes without leaving the social media platform.

TIP: Take the time to identify where your customer engagement piece could most benefit and be improved, then determine what interaction you need to provide to make it worthwhile to your market. Once you identify this, you can work out which platforms to use, and how to write the content that automates the process.

Build more authentic and genuine engagements

Brand leadership is attained by brands that are authentic—not the ones with carefully created corporate wording. What you say about your business doesn’t matter, as ‘public perception is more of a reality’ for your customers and prospects.

It is important to create a carefully-cultivated brand grounded in reality. The Internet is too powerful, with infinite amounts of information at our fingertips, people have become too savvy and sharp. People are also worn out on being taken in and misled by brands who say one thing, yet do another, to permit masquerading brands to survive for long.

Today’s customers reward transparency and authenticity in brands and give their loyalty to companies that have these values.

Businesses exist to make money but, more and more now it matters to customers how you make that money and what you do with it. People also want to know that your business has values and, want those values to align with theirs. Marketing expert Mark Ritson has written extensively about this space before and took a new angle on why successful brands should build brand which is mirrored not just in what they say, but what they do operationally. It is worth a read.

The market value brands actually conducting business according to those values. Consumers have an increased consciousness of the types of companies they deal with, and want to engage with the faces behind those companies, safe in the knowledge that all that work in the company embody what they say they do. At this point, the human element is very important as people want to do business with real people and are increasingly wanting that on social media, especially in lieu of being able to get into bricks-and-mortar shops.

Tip: You can’t truly understand your market just through assumption, history and luck. Nor can you fake what you don’t believe. 

What you should be doing is identifying through reasearch what your market want, what they do and where their pain points are, and then and only then identifying what brand values you have which address (some of) these aspects. Then you can craft your strategy and communications. The key lies in research. 

Research your audience and competition

Thanks to insights and analytics tools embedded in social media networks as well as in Google Analytics, Bing, and the like, businesses can gather consumer data and leverage these to help understand their audiences better.  Businesses should be harnessing this insight to delve further into their market to learn who their audience are. Who you think your audience are, may then in fact be different to reality, but this in itself gives you an insight which can be leveraged. Similarly, knowing your audience allows you to ensure that your values align with theirs.

A recent video by insight pioneer Les Binet, is definitely worth a watch, as it sheds new light on the role of search as a predictor for human action and beliefs.

Analysing your competitors, which you can also do via comparative data tools, and additionally focusing on the things that make your business unique lets you know what branding strategy will work. You should also consider and focus on what you can give your clients that others can’t, especially during these turbulent times.

 

Connect people to your brand story

Simply put: Brands contend for individuality and recognition within a crowded market. This is what helps them attract (and retain) customers.

Customer consciousness and awareness has peaked this year for the story behind the brand, not just simply the item advertised. Businesses need to give the shopper what they need: an association that goes further than the transaction.

Tip: Properly deployed stories are very strong marketing tool and provide excellent branding opportunities. This is mainly because stories are all about the emotional connection they build inside a consumer. Good stories bypass the head and pull directly at the heartstrings of the customer. But this story (see above point) needs to be rooted in authenticity, and be consistent to the brand’s core values. In other words, your brand identity is key here.

Anticipate

If you are looking to foray into social engagement and are looking to leverage chatbots or other automation tools, take the time to think like your customers. Not just at the point of sale, but at the point of confusion, the point of dismay, anger, post purchase and after sales. As many points as you can. Then build out questions, and corresponding answers which will help a customer with a particular pain point, to get to a solution which not only helps them, but endears them to your brand.

 

Respond

A brand that exceeds expectations requires a strong social media response strategy. In the previous years, advertising/branding and client support groups operated in silos and often without any data insight overlay. However, with social media, there is a greater overlap between these functions. Today, brand building requires collaboration and coordination between these functions to build and convey phenomenal brand experiences and customer care through social media channels.

So, it should go without saying, you should keep an eye on your accounts always and, endeavour to respond when people reach out to you on social media. Active conversations grow into authentic relationships and are a great driver for brand identity.

It is important to manage and respond to social media comments and organic posts regardless of the comment type. Generally public responses via social media are adequate (replies to replies), but there are circumstances where the discussion ought to be moved to private channels.

Tip: Social listening tools (Social Bakers, Mention, Sprout Social and Awario are just some of the options you may want to consider) will be a huge asset for you. If you can set up these tools to monitor your brand and brand-related terms and topics on both your channels as well as others you interact with, you will be going a long way to improving the way your customer base perceives you.

 

As with all marketing, there is no simple fix, no silver bullet. Good marketing takes ongoing perseverance, solid strategy and authentic consistency. It starts with your brand identity and encompasses your creative execution, your digital marketing and your customer service. Leaving just one part out can be catastrophic to your brand. But getting it right can set you on a path to success. If you are looking for a partner to help build your brand, or if you feel a little confused or are unsure how to implement an appropriate strategy, get started with the help of expert marketing strategists here at Three Piece Marketing. We are here to help.

 

October 27

Online Marketing Platforms | Three Piece Marketing

To make it big as a business, it is vital that you [...]

You know how it is not enough to just have a toothbrush and expect your teeth to be clean? Well because your teeth don’t really clean themselves, you need to take said brush, apply some tooth paste and then get scrubbing if you want to see results (or not have ongoing gum and teeth issues). Well in the same vein, having a product or service on your website or social media is not enough to drive your business. You need to have a plan for using these platforms and adding something to them (the paste) if you want to see results.

To make it big as a business, it is vital that you create a strong online presence, which means taking advantage of a variety of digital marketing platforms available today.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of online marketing platforms that you should consider (each business and industry are unique so some may be more suited to you than others) in order to reach your business goals.  We’ll go through each one and explain which part in your strategy each platform may work best.

 

What is a digital marketing platform?

 

According to Gartner.com, one of those companies that ooze gravitas when it comes to leading research and advise, digital marketing platforms are “designed to support an extensible set of requirements within a single neighborhood or two…” referring to a specific realm of marketing or domain in the online world. Some of these platforms claim to “… address virtually all digital marketing neighborhoods  but the methods and objectives of each neighborhood vary widely. Any platform sufficiently general to span them all would take the form of a general-purpose tool such as a spreadsheet or a browser with applications outside of digital marketing. So any platform in digital marketing needs to address requirements specific to a limited number of neighborhoods or domains.”

 

Simply put, each digital marketing platform, albeit powerful, has its limitations and only covers a specific component of digital marketing. Where you try to get it to do something outside it’s intended realm, its impact becomes more generalized and less impactful. In short, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will allow you to extend to other elements. By being cognizant of this reality, it’ll be easier for you to understand that you need more than one platform to ensure your success online.

 

So which platforms do you really need?

You know the analogy about a shotgun approach vs a sniper rifle, whereby you may cover more territory with the first method, but you are likely to get more accurate and meaningful results with the latter, so instead of using everything, it is essential you evaluate each platform deliberately. Make sure each one suits to your business, your target market, your time limitations and even your budget.

 

Before deciding which marketing platform to leverage, endeavour to answer these questions first:

  • Where does your target audience hang out online?
  • What platforms are your competitors using?
  • How will your use of a specific platform affect your existing and future branding?
  • Do you have time to utilize this platform correctly?
  • Do you have the skill set to maximise the platform’s value
  • What is the potential revenue your business will generate from the use of particular digital marketing platforms?
  • What is your budget?
  • How savvy are you with marketing?

 

Keep in mind that different people use online platforms differently. So make sure that you understand how your audience and your prospects consume online content and how and where they access the information they need before you invest in a particular platform or which of the platforms you should prioritise first.

 

Social Media Marketing

 

Did you know that as of December 2019, the boffins at Brandwatch.com worked out that a person has an average of 8 social media accounts? On top of that, between October 2018 and October 2019, social media users grew by 328 million, making today’s social media users total around 3.725 billion.

Just think about the number of people using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other social media platforms—TikTok included. Whilst the majority are not going to be in your target market, it is hard to ignore the wide reach that social media marketing offers. In publishing relevant and engaging content (whatever that means for the chosen platform) you can create awareness for your brand. And once you have awareness, you have the ability to go beyond that and generate conversation leading to leads and (hopefully) conversions.

If you are a small business starting out and want an affordable and easily accessible platform to promote your products and services, getting into social media marketing should be on your list.

 

Search Engine Optimisation

While it is true that each person has a preferred online platform, more often than not, people generally choose between Google and Bing to conduct an online search. Whether it is hunting for a new bicycle or looking for restaurant recommendations, people’s daily online experience usually includes the use of a search engine.

Because of this, it is vital for you as a business to invest in search engine optimisation aka SEO. Aim to rank on the first page of the search engine results page for search terms that are relevant to your business and to your target market. By optimising different elements of your website—including the code, content, and images—you should be able to reach a large number of people who might be interested in what you are offering.

This all said, remember that SEO is a long-term strategy and you won’t see immediate results. But if you abide search engine best practice and are somewhat familiar with how the different algorithms work, you should be able to attract high-quality traffic to your website that, when partnered with impressive copy and strong website design, will result in conversions too.

 

Paid search marketing

Paid search marketing, which is also known as search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click advertising (PPC), refers to paid listings shown in a search engine’s results page, its network, or its partner sites. Usually, advertisers pay only when their ads are displayed (cost-per-thousand impressions), when clicked (pay-per-click), or when a call is generated from a specific ad (pay-per-call).

Google Ads is probably the most used digital advertising platform for paid search marketing today but it is for a good reason. Being a search engine giant, Google has thousands of partner sites and related networks where you can run a plethora of campaigns: search, shopping, app promotion, display, and even video.

 

Content Marketing

You know your audience, you know your product, and (hopefully) you know their pain points. The key is to now build content that speaks to the common intersects of these three things. But the key here is not to focus so much on the second part (your product), but rather to focus on adding value to your audience by discussing and providing solutions to their pain points. By inference your product or service is why they are reading or viewing your content.

The next key is to tie in your content in such a way that it is native to the platform you share to and as importantly, that you are considering where in the purchase cycle they may be. If you are posting on Instagram, are they generally in the awareness stage, consideration phase, or even a potential repeat purchaser? Remember that your end goal is still to influence their buying decision not to scream at them what to do. Influence, not dictate, so you avoid coming off as an insensitive and pushy business looking desperate to bring in sales.

 

Funnels

If you are relatively familiar with the above methods, then you may be ready to step up and consider marketing funnels (which we have discussed in a post (The Role of Sales Funnels in Marketing and Business Development). We are not talking about the old-school approach of pushing as many leads as you can into a sales process which are then hounded and called by a team till they convert. Rather we are referring to the use of multiple digital platforms that seek to engage, add-value to and then hopefully convert would-be customers. Think of it as marketing automation driven at converting you to a sale.

It is seeking to engage customers on a platform and drive them to an action which in turn triggers a series of other actions which should hopefully, add value to them, nurture them and then turn them into a sale. But they shouldn’t stop there, they should then move them into a new funnel which keeps them engaged and keeps them returning for more sales well into the future.

Think of it as a CRM on steroids. A system that seeks to keep your target coming back for more, and which you can tease into the right direction.

It requires you to have many steps, and value-adding content for these steps and these may be something which we need to tackle in their own right (stay tuned for that blog). Suffice to say, a funnel may have multiple components including:

  • Lead generation across search marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing and newsletter updates
  • Landing pages and forms
  • Lead nurturing
  • CRM integration And campaign management
  • Lead scoring, tagging and triggers
  • Visitor tracking
  • Analytics and optimization

 

There are many ways to approach this type of marketing, but ideally it involves use of digital platform. There are many to choose from, so researching what is right for your needs is essential.

 

Staying Competitive in 2020 and Beyond

If you want to be relevant and stay ahead of the game in the digital marketing world, you need to make a splash across different channels. Learn how to piece each one together to be consistent with your overall digital marketing plan and ensure you have a cohesive net to capture as many people as possible. And if you need any help with any of it, give us a shout.

October 07

Wrapping your head around conversational marketing | Three Piece Marketing

Conversational marketing may or may not be a term [...]

Conversational marketing may or may not be a term you are familiar with. It is a relatively new concept (by marketing standards) which seeks to engage would-be customers and buyers through authentic and meaningful content and conversations.

As people grow cynical, ever more time-poor and new ways to connect become available, switching to conversational marketing is something more businesses need to do.

For a better understanding of what you need to consider, what tools you may want to use and other tidbits of info, come on a journey with us, and let’s break it down for you.

 

What is conversational marketing?

Conversational marketing is a relatively new standard in digital marketing. In simple terms, it is the concept where brands and businesses engage with their customers in a personalised, two-way experience in real-time. It is designed to build a good relationship with potential and existing customers through personalised, highly targeted messaging instead of a generic ad or content.

Conversational marketing is a dialogue-driven tactic where consumers can feel the human side of a business. The interaction starts usually via a question (by either party), and depending on the answer of the user, dialogue ensues. To make it possible a platform of some description is required, and as should be no surprise, common tools used include chatbots and messaging applications.

The exciting part of conversational marketing is that it can exist at all touch-points within the sales funnel – from building awareness, through to facilitating information gathering, through to post-sales support. But better again, it doe snot need to be siloed and as part of an integrated digital marketing strategy used at multiple points, not just one.

Why should you care as a business?

The modern customer no longer cares about how awesome you claim your product or service to be – and there is social media to verify with others what they think. But even if you have the best offering in the market, if a consumer doesn’t have a great experience with your business, she will never come back or patronise you in the first place if you don’t meet or exceed expectations from the get-go. Worse, she will tell the general market place about how bad your customer service is.

In a consumer world that relies heavily on recommendations from family and friends and word of mouth, it is vital for you as a business to maintain a customer-centric reputation at all times. This is where conversational marketing comes in. If you find a review that is not up to standard, conversational marketing allows you to reach out, ask a question and through conversation, potentially turn around the experience they had.

 

In conversational marketing, the key is understanding your customers more.

To have an effective conversational marketing strategy, go back to the drawing board and assess your target market’s behaviour before you start working out responses. Anticipate the issues they may have, the feedback they may share or the questions that they may ask, no matter how crazy they may be and document them. Then categorise the items on the list into common categories and down into the segment of the sales cycle so you can develop responses which are helpful and still on-point with your broader marketing strategy.

The key is offering something valuable and helpful to answer those queries. Remember, customers don’t care if you’re speaking to 1,000 people at one time; all they care is that their concern is addressed right away and that they feel heard. Remember to engage the customer, seek to understand their pain points, and provide recommendations and solutions to their problems.

It is also important to bear in mind that customers want you to be there for them at any time. Whether they’re having their morning coffee or lying in bed in the middle of the night, once they decide to get in touch with you, YOU NEED TO BE THERE in some shape or form so that you don’t miss the opportunity. Whilst it is not mandatory, it is helpful for your overall marketing if you do consider utilising automation.

Conversational Marketing Tools That You Can Use

Automation sounds scary at times. touching on the realms of AI, automation within marketing refers more to the use of scripted responses which best answer an enquiry. There are a few options you can use, but similarly, you can still rely on humans and use other options available to you.

Chatbots

This is the most budget-friendly way to implement your conversational marketing strategy. Run by artificial intelligence, you can set this up in Facebook Messenger, as website chat support on most platforms, and other messaging platforms to respond to the customer in real-time. Chatbots usually offer pre-programmed answers as a way of engaging in ‘conversation’ with someone. These platforms try to understand the context of the conversation via conditional logic so that it can give the most appropriate response.

 

Live chat

A Live Chat plugin can be integrated into your website so that your site visitors can directly ask questions and speak to someone on your staff looking for more information about your products and services. In the case of higher-priced options, a live chat feature can transition to a chatbot for out of hours service.

Customer engagement platforms

There are software programs that allow you to design a comprehensive conversational marketing solution that involves the use of chatbots and scheduling calls with your own rep. Different platforms have the capability to segregate your interactions with the customers and qualify score as leads (cold, warm etc), making it easier for you to remarket to those that expressed interest in your products and services.

Examples of these tools include Tidio, Draft, and Intercom.

 

Stay ahead in the competition with exceptional customer experience.

The world of business and entrepreneurship has become extra competitive especially with the growth of different web-based platforms and technologies. Even big brands that have massive marketing budgets can no longer guarantee a big share of the market pie, purely because there are plenty of alternatives rising up, foccussed on both great experiences and service/products for their customers.

It goes to show that aside from having a great product, what matters today is customer experience. How do you make people feel special? How well do you respond to enquiries? Is your customer engagement timely? Are you offering help or are you being pushy with your products and services? How does someone feel when they are not talking to you?

With conversational marketing, you have the opportunity to better connect with potential and existing customers and meet their needs for special attention, support and personalised solutions. Being there to answer their concerns will also open up a plethora of opportunities for your business. Let’s say for instance, a customer is comparing two products, and asked you what made one better than the other. If you are not there to offer a recommendation, you may lose the customer, who was already deciding which product to buy.  If you are there and con show them you are invested in them as much as they are in your decision, you have a better chance of locking them in.

If you want to bridge the gaps in the buyer journey, conversational marketing is a tool you should consider in your overall digital marketing game plan. Of course, if you are unsure, or need to ask for advice on platforms or integration into your website, speak to our team here at Three Piece Marketing.

September 17

Strategic Digital Marketing | Tips and Tools to Make it Easier

With all the changes in the world going on at the [...]

Strategic Digital Marketing: Tips and tools to make it easier

September 15, 2020

Posted by Hamish

 

The world of marketing is full of complicated twists and turns. With the ever-changing behaviours and attitudes of consumers plus the rapid and often unannounced changes in various marketing platforms’ algorithms, it truly takes a resourceful marketer to thrive and stand out in his niche. Yes, we are talking about strategic digital marketing, but we are also talking about much more than just this.

If anything, during COVID, what has been evident, is that succeeding in the online world no longer relies on a marketer’s expertise but also on the ability of the entire firm to adapt and to find opportunity in a seemingly hostile environment.

Whilst this means changing how you do business, it equally means, changing how you use using a variety of tools, resources and strategies on an ongoing basis.

But staying on top of it all can be hard work, so to help you understand what is transpiring in marketing and online, here’s a rundown of what we see as important tutorials and insightful digital marketing industry articles.

 

Your Marketing Strategy

As we have espoused countless times, the key to achieving your marketing goals and reaching your KPI targets always starts with a solid marketing strategy in place. This includes an understanding of your target market and having a clear picture of your mission and vision. Without these, any marketing plan is irrelevant and likely to be unable to help your business propel forward.

Our recommendation is to start a plan with data and insight. Insight into your pain points, insight into your market, and their pain points, and insight into what has been happening to date through the market.

Whether you are developing a new business, launching your brand for the first time, or creating a new campaign, data and analytics always play a huge role. These four articles shed some light on the need to get all these ducks in a row:

 

Importance of Content Marketing

Content is king, as the popular saying goes. But no matter how great your videos, blog posts, images, infographics, and other types of content might be, they won’t help you achieve your business goals if they are not distributed to the right channels or are lacking relevancy for your audience. As our Founder is often heard saying to clients “I can give you the best white paper on Napoleon Bonaparte you have ever read, however, if your business is paint, then this paper is going to be meaningless to you”. In other words, make what you say to people relevant to what they need to know – when they need to know it.

As we move towards the end of the year and you ramp up your end-of-year activities, these articles may help you better understand avenues open to you (assuming you know the right things to say to your market). Is email marketing saturated or is it still a gold mine waiting to be uncovered? Should you use social marketing more? Is a landing page better than a Facebook page? Discover some useful tips through these articles:

 

Providing Value to Your Customers

As we enter the last quarter of 2020 and move beyond it (here’s to a more positive 2021), concentrate on fulfilling the needs of your target customers. This will be more essential than ever due to COVID, Australia’s first recession in 30 years, Christmas and the Summer holidays all combining to create times unlike what we have ever experienced before. It will be critical that you bridge the gap between consumers’ needs and aspirations, and what you can provide to solve that issue. If you can you will benefit. If you can’t, others will fill the gap you cannot. As such, you should give yourself every advantage possible by using insights and data.

Data-driven marketing partnered with intentional messaging is a winning recipe and something it is never too late to use. Check out some of the below for some advice on what to consider:

 

Keep an eye of Reviews and Social Opinion

Did you know that according to Hosting Tribunal – up to a staggering 72% of customers will not take action and purchase/commit until they have read reviews? Good reviews are a god-send, but a bad review can sway people away. Whilst you cannot change a review necessarily (we are sure you don’t have many) what you can do is respond to the review and show positive action on your behalf. This then shows your customer lifecycle extends beyond the purchase and into ensuring the enjoyment is ongoing. This can change opinions and it can also bring people back.

Take the time to keep across platforms such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, travel sites (if relevant), food sites (if relevant) and so on to make sure you are across the reviews being shared about you.

A couple of tools you may want to consider are listed below, just to make your job a tiny bit easier.

 

Wrap it all up

Ultimately, good marketing is only part of the puzzle, the other part is what you are doing to provide the best in class service/product you can. But where a brilliant product cannot market itself, good marketing can help you grow your business to a point where you can invest back into your product, improving it so you can be even better for your customers.

Make sure you take the time to get the balance right and reap the rewards.

August 24

Get Results with Your Remarketing Campaign | Three Piece Marketing

It’s time to rethink your remarketing campaign if [...]

Posted by 3PM Team

Visitors who put products in their carts but leave them there…

Shoppers who add your item in their Favourites list…

Customers who keep on viewing your offering every day for an entire week, but nothing else…

 

You know you have all have these types of website visitors. But what are you gonna do with them? Sitting and keeping your fingers crossed that they come back without any prompting is not going to cut it, you know you need to  up your game.

Today marketing is not just about building awareness and creating intent, a true marketer knows you need to have a user journey mapped out (from first impression all the way through to multiple repeat purchases) with ways to entice a user to get to the end goal – a(nother) sale.

But how do you remind users who have checked your website to visit you again and complete their goal (READ: sales)? Through a remarketing campaign, of course. You know those ads that follow you around the internet, and even more so the ads that suddenly be there when you need them to be – we’re talking that type of campaign.

The process of making a website visitor complete a purchase is a tricky one. So today, we thought we’d shed light on something many people know, but not everyone understands with a view to helping you convert more website visitors into actual paying customers.

Getting started with remarketing campaigns

 

Search engine giant Google defines remarketing campaigns as activities aimed “…to show ads to people who have visited your website or used your app.”

These ads show up in various places online:

  • when your past visitors are watching YouTube videos;
  • when they are browsing through a variety of websites; or
  • when they are reading their favourite online news magazine, among others.

Remarketing ads basically serve as a reminder — to prompt your previous visitors to come back to your website and finish a goal; whether you’ve set it as subscription, signup, purchase, pr anything else which adds value to the visitor.

If it’s your first time to set up a campaign of this type, Google will ask you to create a remarketing tag and lists. You can easily do this by choosing specific conditions from the “Visited pages” drop-down in your Google ads setup. Simply explore and add values that are applicable to your campaign and you’re pretty good to go (refinement will go a long way to improving this, but for all intent and purposes, you’re set).

One important note you need to remember is to make sure that your remarketing tag (a script or code that can capture data about the pages visited by viewers) isn’t associated with any sensitive or personally identifiable information (PII). Running afoul of Google’s personal advertising policies is not a good idea, nor is it a nice thing to do to your potential and actual customers. Your remarketing lists could get disabled and you won’t be able to use these anymore in your ad campaigns. Accounts can also get suspended if you’re found to have made several violations, and any new accounts you create could automatically get suspended, as well.

Strategies for the best remarketing campaigns

Now that you’re all set up, what are the most effective strategies for enticing customers to finally hit that Buy/subscribe/CTA button? There are several options (of course), but the following is a short cheat-sheet of shorts which you can cherry pick from and use as a general rule-of-thumb:

Keep things simple

You know that acronym – KISS, well it applies here too. We know you are thinking you should dazzle and wow your targets so much that they’ll have no choice but to type in their credit card information in a hypnotised trance, but the truth is, sometimes simple is best?

There’s a reason why the basics are the basics, and that’s because they work. The Google Display Network, for example, manages to reach approximately 90 percent of folks online. That’s not bad at all for a “basic” strategy which works to put ads in front of people. It gets even more impressive when you consider that remarketing on the Display Network typically has a Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) that’s equal to only 2 percent of the CPA on Google AdWords.

For a basic remarketing ad, you can opt to only target website visitors from a set period, like the past 30 days or so who did not get to a target page (like the Confirmation page). This makes sure that their interest in a product is fairly recent, so they’re still likely inclined to make a purchase.

Get their emotions involved

At the core of marketing any product, the most important question that you need to ask is this: How will this make a customer’s life better?

Let us consider smartphones, for instance. Any model that allows a user to connect to the web and use applications is, in essence, a smart device. But why do some phones sell more than others? And why do people who still have perfectly fine gadgets decide to toss them and buy the latest model every time one gets released?

It comes down to customer perception of certain brands, which is inherently emotional in nature. Customers may check spec sheets as much as they want but at the end of the day, they pick a model based on their preferences or gut feel. That’s why there are Apple “Fanboys” for example.

Using emotional triggers in your ads will not only grab attention but also encourage engagement. This can help draw back previous visitors to your website. Maybe you can appeal to people’s fear of missing out on a good deal, or maybe you can appeal to their greatest desires or need to fit in. If you get their emotions involved, they’re more likely to buy your product.

Use funnel-based ads.

Once you’ve got your remarketing list, you can sort them into different funnel stages. These stages correlate to the buyer’s journey and where each potential customer is currently at, which is crucial if you wish to present the right offer to someone at the right time.

If someone is still at the awareness stage, for example, then they’ve only just started researching to better understand their pain point. This type of audience would not appreciate it if you immediately start pushing your product at them when they themselves barely know what they’re looking for.

Whether you’re using Google or Facebook, you can segment your remarketing list and switch your offers by each funnel stage so you can get the best results. To do this, you need to target the specific pages on your website that can point to where a user is on the buyer’s journey. If someone has already ended up on the pricing page, for instance, then they’re a better remarketing target compared to someone who has visited your site, but not made it to a product page. Make sure you target the right users with the right ad content and then, the right page.

Target custom audiences.

Finally, remarketing can be its most effective when you narrow your focus on the customer profiles that can afford your product. General remarketing ads that try to appeal to a broad audience can be successful, yes, but at most you would only be converting 2 to 4 percent of website visitors. Yes, that’s not bad considering the low cost involved, but why settle when you can aim for a higher figure.

Identifying your typical customer profile can help you cut through the masses of average visitors and serve highly targeted ads. You can refine your audience list by demographics including gender, age, income level, location, etc. to correspond to your customer profile. This helps you to accomplish more in less time because you’re directly placing your product in front of the people who are most likely to buy it.

Time to plan your next retargeting campaign!

Remarketing campaigns can lead to a higher return on your investment. They give you the opportunity to convert customers who might otherwise never visit your website again. Remarketing also helps you build up your brand profile at a cost that’s considerably lower than what you would spend on other advertising channels.

We’ve compiled these simple introductory strategies to help get started on your own campaign and take the first step on the path to greater success. However, if you have questions, or unsure or need some help, speak to one of our team for more information or insight on just how we can help you and how affordable our marketing services are.

August 24

Why Web Development and Digital Marketing Go Hand in Hand | Three Piece Marketing

It is no secret that marketers often feel they are [...]

It is no secret that marketers often feel they are attacked from all sides. CFOs and the accounting department, in general, are always looking to curtail budgets, the sales department are looking for more qualified leads and point to a failure in marketing if this is not the case and consumers in general often deride any marketing which they feel isn’t in-line with the brand as a whole.

So perhaps it is time that within the marketing department for more cohesion and less bickering between roles and functions. In this case, we are looking at developers and digital marketers.

While developers are focussed mostly on the code, UX and functionalities of a website, digital marketers are usually concerned with site optimization: how easy it is to find the site through search and other channels, Click Rate Optimisation, making the site sticky and ensuring (in-line with product teams) that people make multiple repeat purchases. Both roles are trying to achieve the same thing, but a failure in communication often means that because both professions prioritise different things, more often than not, it takes numerous exchanges between these two departments before a well-optimised website is ready for launch/the market.

So as we asserted above – it is time for the marketing department to function more cohesively and with joint purpose.

 

Stop looking for quick Wins

Once upon a time, it may have been enough to build a site with a view to a quick way to increase SEO rankings and online traffic. But those days are LONG gone. In fact, it is no longer enough to simply build a website, load it with keywords, get it up and running online, and keep your fingers crossed that your target market finds it. If you want people to actually visit your website, use it, and return to it regularly, you need to ensure that it is designed intuitively and optimised properly for search engines. But this is not about spammy use of keywords or hundreds of inbound links. Rather it is about adding value to the site visitor in such a way that they get more than a transaction from it.

Similarly, it is not a case of executing a gorgeous looking or highly functional site as part of your web development. You need to have the insight of the digital marketing professionals within the team (analysts, strategists, and those working to engage the customer) to be able to identify on-site optimisation activities, which your web development team can implement. This then needs to be mapped in a way which allows the site to be created efficiently and with a view to ensuring that the code base of the site allows the marketing team to draw down on the insights they need to make the right decisions moving forward (case in point: adding “no follow” and “no-index tags” and including a JSON script in the code that digital marketers know they need but are unsure how to implement).

 

Cooperation – everyone wins

 

Brand awareness is ultimately one of the most powerful indicators for a brand’s success. Early uptake will come from good marketing, but ongoing brand awareness (driven by the consumers themselves) will be what gives a business true advantage. When your broader digital marketing team is on the same page, it is easier for your business to develop and maintain a clear branding message and core promise. This clarity is what your consumers want – a clear understanding of what you stand for and what they will get through interacting with you.

Bringing it back to your website design, upfront there needs to be discussion and agreement on how the core brand message (your identity) will be implemented and designed into the site. With this agreed to and shared with all, mapping out how everyone can contribute and what the expectations are is the next important step. Your web development team will rely on the other team for creating a design that relays the vision of your business. But they need to also consider landing page design, heading use, and so forth, so that the promotional efforts of the others in the team are optimised from the getgo. This means the analysts and strategists need to work in-step with the developers and creative teams to think through the process so all assets and functionalities can be captured early and built-in as part of the scope.

In other words, it is important that everyone is aligned and cooperating right off the bat.

 

Improves Data Gathering for Analytics

It may be obvious to most, but if you are not analysing user behaviour on your website, then you are potentially missing out on key information that can improve your business. This data is essential for future decisions, but for a developer, this data is less exciting than knowing how fast a page loads. This is again where both teams need to work together to implement the tracking mechanisms in such a way that pulling live data as and when needed is easy, as knowing your audience will give you an advantage in terms of formulating ongoing development and digital marketing strategy.

That is why it is essential to Incorporate analytics in your website. While the marketers have the goals and metrics in hand, it will be the web developers who will insert the necessary tracking codes and pixels that will help generate data about your website’s performance and your actual audience. Having these in place will help you understand the customer journey, the abandonment possibilities, and the channels where your audience has reached your website, among others.

 

Avoid Costly Mistakes

When your web developers and marketing personnel are not coordinating with each other, costly mistakes are more likely to happen. Without proper communication, more time might be required on redesigning your website.

But perhaps worst of all, failure to plan will likely mean that there may be features missing and you might need to push back on your website launch and the content developed for the site may be low-quality which would not only hurt your SEO efforts but turn your potential customers away as well.

 

Web Developers Working Hand in Hand with Digital Marketers

Well-synchronized web development and digital marketing campaigns are one of the secrets to your business’ online success. The roles of a digital agency providing web development and design services as well as digital marketing are vital in building a strong website and making sure that you achieve your business goals.

If you are looking for an agency that understands the balance between web design, web development, and digital marketing, or if you are looking for an agency that can balance the make-up of your own in-house team, let’s have a chat, our experts are ready to help you.