Helping ONLINE & OFFLINE Businesses Get MORE Customers

- August 19, 2016 - Edition #765 Circulation 4300+ Weekly - Ron Richardson - Editor -

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In this issue:

1. Notes from Ron (Editor): Generate Consistent Leads and Sales for Any Business...using LinkedIn

2. Internet News You Need: Google launches imported call conversions

3. Mobile Marketing: Mobile Web vs. Apps vs. Native SMS: Tips for Mobile Engagement Success

4. Feature Article: Six Essentials for Good Storytelling—and Great Content Marketing

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2. Internet Marketing News You Need

Twitter channels Snapchat filters with Promoted Stickers
In its effort to prove that it’s not dying, Twitter is casting a wide net. For example, it’s investing heavily in live sports streaming. But while some of Twitter’s efforts appear to hedge against irrelevance as a core social platform, Twitter isn’t giving up on core social yet either…
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Google launches imported call conversions
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Mobile Marketing Leader Swrve Completes Most Successful Quarter to Date
Swrve, the mobile marketing technology company that pioneered the fast-growing mobile engagement marketing space, just completed its best-ever quarter and record half-year. Driven by growth in revenue and bookings, and significant new customer wins in North America and Europe, the company is poised to quickly become a global standard for mobile marketing and engagement…
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3. Mobile Marketing

Mobile Web vs. Apps vs. Native SMS: Tips for Mobile Engagement Success
Jessica Langdorf, Doreen Saxby 

Over two-thirds of Americans now possess a mobile phone, and we use it for just about anything and everything, multiple times per day. And we've all heard those reports that shock us with the extent of our mobile obsession, suggesting that people are willing to give up beloved vices like chocolate rather than give up their phone.

So knowing the significance of the mobile phone to our everyday lives, and quite frankly our personal identity, how can brands effectively master communications with customers in a way that achieves results—in a way that is respectful of the user? And what methods should we take to reach them? Can brands just build a mobile app and call it a day?

It isn't that simple.

The opportunities for businesses to engage with mobile users go beyond simply creating an app or mobile website. Mobile communications need to be informed, responsive, intelligent, and mindful of the user's unique experience on mobile versus other platforms, such as the desktop.

Here's why it matters: The micro-moments (a term coined by Google) that occur when people instinctively turn to a device to act on a need to learn something, take action on a task, watch something, or buy something... are intent-driven, highly personal moments when choices are made and preferences are formed.

But how or why people choose to open an app or a mobile Web browser, or initiate or respond to a text, can affect usability design and customer communication strategy.

One way to give mobile communications a boost is to provide real-time chat sessions to engage with customers to capture their attention in the micro-moment. That can be facilitated via mobile Web browsers, mobile apps and SMS. But which is best?

Simply put, they all serve a purpose based on why the user has chosen that specific medium. All three should all be employed as part of an effective mobile messaging strategy. Let's look at each one a little deeper.

The Mobile Web: Reaching the Widest Mobile Audience

Perhaps the most compelling reason to give special attention to the user experience on mobile browsers might be the size of the audience, which is estimated to be twice that of the mobile app audience. With more eyeballs viewing and fingertips tapping in browsers each day, it is an important part of the mix.

But we also have to consider the top reasons users are there: referencing information, shopping, and general education. Also worth noting is the fickle nature of the Web user, who often consults many different websites infrequently, without having a strong affinity to a specific website or a desire for repeat visits or purchases. Welcome to the world of the transient eyeball.

The easily distracted nature of this audience should guide customer engagement element design:

·         Make it transparent: The engagement window (whether chat or automated engagement) should be made slightly transparent, as the typical mobile Web user consults various websites and easily gets distracted. Those transient eyeballs should be assured that they were not taken away from the site, and they should be able to see the content on the site while chatting.

·         Design to fit your brand: Customer engagement design elements for mobile Web browsers should be fully integrated into the brand's website design. For instance, customized, page-specific embedded click-to-chat buttons should be supported where contextually relevant (for example, on the Contact Us page or next to the tele-sales call to action).

·         Anchor it: Users who are targeted should be shown an anchored button that opens an engagement window (for chat or automated tools) that is easy to access. Usability testing has shown that the optimal position for this button is in the upper right corner, and that when the user first lands on the page that button appears to be fixed but it actually remains anchored to this position as the user scrolls down.

·         Make it smart: Because of the temporary nature of the user's behavior, the best-practice for engaging with new visitors on the mobile Web is to not put them in a queue; thus, the button should not be displayed if there is no immediate agent availability.

·         Respond fast and brief: Because the user's presence is fleeting and the user is focused on the task at hand and expects instantaneous results, agents should respond to each user query in less than 15 seconds. Agent responses should be no more than 160 characters, which is the standard maximum length of an SMS text message.

Mobile Apps: Interacting With the Highly Engaged Mobile User

Unlike their approach while using the mobile Web, consumers are highly selective when using apps. They tend to download and engage with only a handful of apps, but they use those apps on a regular basis, spending a majority of our mobile time on these few apps.

In fact, we love our apps so much that by some estimates over 80% of consumers will check at least one app first thing in the morning, sometimes before getting out of bed.

It's safe to say that mobile apps excel in getting users to engage in order to accomplish one or a few very purposeful tasks for which they specifically downloaded the app. The repeat usage of apps is why businesses are willing to make a costly investment in app design and app maintenance, and in return this investment translates into increased usability for customers.

Having an app installed on your phone guarantees quick access to the desired content; and because an app is built for mobile devices, it enables smooth, fast and intuitive use. Apps are built to perform on top of the phone's native features, while the ability to do that on the mobile Web is limited. For example, just reflect on how much more usable a banking app is because it can use the phone's camera to take a picture of a check for a deposit.

So, with all that in mind, here are three tips for engaging the mobile app user:

·         Focus on how the app works: Put a higher focus on live assistance in task completion and education regarding other available features to ensure that customers know how to use it in order to self-serve.

·         Make it a permanent option: Engagement windows should appear as a fixed button element within the app displayed to all visitors, based on agent status, and preferably within the application's standard navigation toolbar. For example, the chat button should use button states, meaning it should look different when agents are available vs. busy vs. offline.

·         Be responsive: The brand should be as responsive as it is with mobile Web users, since app users are often in transit when on the phone and the phone has limited real estate. Live representatives should respond to each user query in less than 30 seconds, with agent responses of no more than 160 characters, which is the standard maximum length of an SMS text message.

Native SMS: Building Loyalty With Customers

Perhaps no medium gives a greater opportunity to communicate on a personal level than mobile text messaging, or SMS. It's probably the most personal type of conversation you can have with a consumer via mobile.

Mobile texting is the most widely and frequently used capability of a smartphone, for both personal and business communication needs, and SMS today is used the way consumers used email for about 10 years ago: personal conversations.

Customers who opt in to mobile messages are highly involved, and the ability to engage with a business through the native messaging app makes the brand more "accessible" to consumers.

Consumers are more likely to read a message sooner if it's an SMS than if it's an email. Moreover, due to its highly personalized approach to customer engagement, SMS produces significantly higher engagement rates than email, with average click-through rates for URLs in text messages surpassing industry estimates for email.

However, customers value using this private communication channel with brands only if the message that is sent is highly relevant to the consumer. We see this in the most favorite tasks consumers complete via SMS: to check order status, to schedule or change appointments, and to make or confirm reservations.

There are no engagement-design considerations for brands, since the engagement with the customer is conducted within the phone's native text messaging interface. However, it is essential that brands reply to each text within a standard response time of 90 seconds. And brevity is required, since text messages allow only up to 160 characters. That means not all conversations belong in a text message. If the content is complex and lengthy, chatting via SMS is not ideal and should be redirected—to the mobile Web, mobile app, or perhaps a phone call in relevant cases.

The main takeaway here is that the user appreciates the ability to have increased access to the brand for a private conversation, but only when it's relevant. To build loyalty, brands must focus on building a relationship with customers that is respectful of the user.

* * *

Here's what it all boils down to: Businesses need a strong mobile engagement strategy as mobile usage grows at a rapid rate; however, consumers use the mobile Web, apps, and SMS for different purposes.

That's why businesses need to think about how to use each, and not simply which to use, then take that knowledge and design for the best experience in real-time communication.


About the Authors
Jessica Langdorf is VP, Digital Interactions Lab, at TouchCommerce (now part of Nuance Communications), a provider of omni-channel customer engagement solutions for market-leading brands. She is a Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) with an Award of Achievement in Web Analytics. - LinkedIn: Jessica Langdorf (Gammon)

Doreen Saxby  is director of the Digital Interactions Lab atTouchCommerce (now part of Nuance Communications), a provider of omni-channel customer engagement solutions for market-leading brands. She consults on strategic launches with best-practices for the advancement of cross-device omni-channel UX, data usage, and automation.

4. Feature Article:

Six Essentials for Good Storytelling—and Great Content Marketing
Jennifer Smoldt

"Storytelling" is often used loosely as a term for good writing. Which makes me wonder: Do marketers actually understand storytelling in the context of content marketing?

Yes, it's a borderline cliché buzzword. And, like "content marketing," at times ambiguous.

But all that aside, here's why storytelling matters: Social media has ignited the need for good storytelling—the key word being "good." Simply put, content now spreads in nanoseconds, so there's more risk in marketing than ever before. Brand reputation is at stake. Thus the importance and relevance of good storytelling.

Historically, storytelling traveled by word of mouth; bad stories were lost in time, but good stories stood the test of time. Now, thanks to a plethora of social outlets (for good or ill), it all travels at the speed of social lightning.

Not to mention social sharing occurs whether or not a story is engaging, making share stats a questionable success metric. Now, bad stories aren't lost in time; they live forever as a black scar on your brand's reputation.

Take McDonald's Hamburglar campaign or Bloomingdale's creepy "Spike your best friend's egg nog when they're not looking." Oops and ouch.

So, what is "storytelling" as it pertains to content marketing?

It's not just good writing or engaging prose. It's not a one-off ad or campaign. Storytelling is planned, integrated, and purposeful. It's empathetic, original, consistent. And it doesn't sacrifice brand integrity. Storytelling employs both creativity and strategy.

Here are six essential traits of storytelling...

1. Good storytelling makes customers care

You've got 8.25 seconds to make them care. That's right, humans now have a shorter average attention span than a goldfish's. So, you need to answer the customer's "what's in it for me?" or "why should I care?" questions—like pronto.

Why you matter to them is the answer to those questions: Why your brand, service, or product matters to your target customers. To combat short attention spans and create super-persuasive and engaging content, you must know your differentiators.

Joel Pulizzi said it best: "You can be delivering content in every channel on the face of the earth to dozens of audiences, but if it's not relevant, not compelling, not differentiated, and not consistent, it will not work."

Which leads me to...

2. Good storytelling is original—or at least it has a creative spin

Let's say your product or service is similar to your competitor's offering (maybe not such a stretch). In that case, discovering your distinct differentiators (proprietary process, historic milestone, product feature/functionality, brand positioning, etc.) becomes increasingly important.

Many plot lines and stories throughout history are similar (think comparative mythology and hero stories). But what is the key element that differentiates hero stories? The hero! The hero is always distinctive.

Your distinct differentiators are the heroes in your story. They solve the customer's problems. So make them as unique, proprietary, and super-powered as possible.

3. Good storytelling sells

Don't forget that the purpose of content marketing is "ultimately to drive profitable action." We think of storytelling as gumballs and jujus, but in marketing it resonates if it strikes a nerve with the customer's pain.

Stories have conflict. Metaphorically, "conflict" is your customer's pain. They're also conflicted about how to best solve their problem.

Your storytelling should answer how you can uniquely alleviate your customer's pain.

4. Good storytelling is delicately crafted strategy

"Delicately," because storytelling, in the context of content marketing, is not overt. It's planned persuasion. It's integrated and embedded within your content marketing strategy. Constructing the big picture allows you to strategize about the desired outcome of your story and how supporting initiatives can perpetuate and feed the story.

Think about it like chapters within a story. Each chapter, or marketing initiative in this analogy, fuels the story and brings you a step closer to its resolution. What each initiative should not do is to deviate from the story. Don't let the stress of getting a project out the door eclipse the need for strategy.

We've all been there... You love the creative and want to use it somehow, someway. Only... It. Doesn't. Quite. Make. Sense. Don't be a Hamburglar waiting to happen. Remain consistent to your story and brand.

5. Good storytelling is empathetic

You must relate to your target customer in order to create compelling content, and by "relate" I mean feel their pain.

Empathy enables you to create content that motivates customers to take action. But, if you don'tknow your customer, you can't create a compelling story. That's why knowing your customer demographics and psychographics is absolutely critical, but only a start.

Next, conduct thorough research. (Take a look at the P&G research examples at the end of this article, including The Mom Report and Always #LikeaGirl emoji research.) Moreover, in-house marketing departments, your product knowledge should be on par with that of Product Development's.

Test the product/service, conduct transactions, take it for a spin—whatever it is—and get to know competitors, features and functions, market forces, etc. Then you can create content and creative that's personal, relatable, original—and effective.

6. Good storytelling in content marketing doesn't happen in a day

It's a process intrinsic to content marketing. It ebbs and flows with your brand, product, or service—unfolding over time while creating connections and establishing loyalty.

Too often I encounter companies that know what they are, but not who they are. What you do or provide is obvious. What's hard is the introspection it takes to define who you are as a company.

Call it "the Force," "the Chi," or whatever, but our brand is what we're made of, not what we make.

That is the path to good storytelling.

Check out these recent storytelling campaign favorites

P&G "Thank You Mom" Campaign: "It takes someone strong to make someone strong." Brilliant.

For a glimpse at the research behind Procter and Gamble's campaign strategy, view "The Mom Report."

Always #LikeaGirl—Girl Emojis: In Always's continuing campaign to empower girls and blast stereotypes, young females point out blatant stereotypes in the standard Unicode emoji set.

Apple iPhone 6 "Hey Siri" starring Cookie Monster: These Apple iPhone 6 Cookie Monster and Siri commercials appeal to young and old alike while telling the hilarious story of Cookie's impatience and Siri's helpful hands-free features.

For more great storytelling, check out the AdAge list of Top Ad Campaigns of the 21st Century, including the Metro Trains "Dumb Ways to Die" campaign—which claims a 21% reduction in accidents and deaths on its network as a result of the campaign. Also, the Old Spice campaign strategy video and Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty."

About the Author
Jennifer Smoldt is a marketing consultant, copywriter, content strategist, and founder of Precision Marketing & Communications, where she helps companies discover and market their distinct differentiators. LinkedIn: Jennifer Smoldt

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