5 Ways to NAIL your About Us page (+ examples)!

We are always trying to figure out the best conversion strategies for our websites. The best UI, the best content—when we should be focused on optimizing our relationships with potential and current clientele (yes, that includes online as well).

The best way to do this is to write an amazing, kick-ass, About Us page. Behind the Home page, the About Us page is typically the next page your audience will go to when first visiting your site. Get it wrong, you can turn people off to you without you even realizing it. Get it right, you could have a highly converting lead on your hands.  

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10 Social Media Mistakes Small Businesses Make

Stop me if you have heard this one: You are scrolling through your social media feed when you see a post from a local business page. It’s too promotional, dry, and has no real focus–much like every other post you see from them. Disinterested, you unlike the page and continue.

Social media can be a double edge sword for small businesses–on one hand, it allows them to compete with big business and get their name out to more people in their community, on the other hand, if done wrong they are left with a lot of work and very little return. This conundrum was the core of my talk at a recent keynote I gave for a Seattle chamber of commerce meeting. While the talk was a little over an hour and a half long, just for you, I summarized my points below (aren’t I nice?):

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We’re All in This Together: Product Co-Creation

So, a few nights ago, I was watching High School Musical(HSM) with my roommate, and while I could have sworn the acting was better when I was 13, the ending number still hit me with a powerful message: We are all in this together.

allinthis

Tell me you didn’t sing that line…just try.

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How to Strike Gold in the Mobile Gold Rush

So not many people know this, but I am a huge crafts person;  I actually just got back from Aki-Con where I sold some of my beaded crafts with my family. In preparation, I had to frequent JoAnn’s a lot and by a crap ton of supplies. I almost never have coupons with me, but thanks to my JoAnn’s app, I can simply use that to scan all the coupons I have through my JoAnn’s account, and be on my merry way. It’s quick, easy, and has me choosing JoAnn’s over any other craft store, because I have everything on my phone.

That’s simple mobile advertising right there. Easy right? Yea, 33% of businesses today think so too. Mobile marketing has become the new ‘internet’ gold mine. Having some type of mobile strategy will get you better engagement with your customers, supplement your business’s current marketing strategy, and can generate new revenue streams for your business. But where should you start?

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Utilizing Paid Media to Perfect Your Marketing Triforce


Any Legend of Zelda fan knows of the legendary Triforce; golden sacred triangles left behind on Hyrule after the Golden Goddesses left. The Triforce of wisdom, courage and power when combined have the power to grant the wish of anyone who has an equal balance of the three in their heart. If someone does not have that balance however, the Triforce breaks apart, leaving the piece that best suits the person with them.  I believe this is a perfect parallel to explain the current imbalance of marketing today. Trends have been popping up for marketers to bandwagon on and take advantage of for their own strategies. The latest one just so happens to be inbound marketing. While it is very important to be engaging with your customers, a talk on Thursday from Content Harmony’s Kane Jamison had me pondering something: With everyone jumping on the social media and content marketing wagon, how are we now to differentiate ourselves in an over saturated trend? The answer is in our roots; Paid Media.

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Content Marketing: 3 Steps to Building a Relationship That Lasts

Businesses are starting to realize the power of content marketing, as consumers are no longer being influenced by traditional, intrusive messaging. With an estimated 60% of businesses employing inbound marketing last year, it is safe to say that the consumers have spoken. Besides being a better experience for readers, content marketing has become the best way to increase SEO rankings, find leads, and build a strong audience. 

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What Zillow Taught Me About Data Driven Content

I had the great pleasure of attending this year’s PSAMA Marketing Mix. Needless to say, it was very interesting. With every workshop and speaker who I heard from, the topic was overall the same: Data drives sales.

marketmix

WHAT? I thought it was all about Content?!

Now don’t be freaking out just yet. Storytelling is still the driving force for getting people to your business. If the content isn’t good, you aren’t going to get any customers. However, if that content doesn’t have data to support it, then it’s all a bunch of baloney. People like to feel smart–if they are armed with knowledge, they can make an informed decision and not be swayed by all the advertising. If you give the people what they seek, they will come to you. People are emotional shoppers, but data driven buyers.

schoolhouse

That is what Zillow did. Our keynote speaker, Zillow’s CMO Amy Bohutinsky told us how her team got 5 million users in Zillow’s first month without spending any money. How did they do that, you ask? With data driven content. Zillow has tons of data on house values, neighborhoods, schools, etc, and all they had to do was turn those numbers into a story.  With social media, blogs, and connections with journalists, they managed to get on Jeopardy, a reality TV show, and hundreds of blogs and magazine mentions. Zillow’s goal was to inform, and with that promise, they managed to attract millions of users (literally).  They are even the leading experts on celebrity housing! Want to know who has the most expensive homes on the market? Zillow’s blog could tell you.

With that, here are the top 3 tips I received while at the conference:

1. Data is an asset, not a solution

Data isn’t going to be your Superman to help save your business–it’s more of a sidekick. In the seminar “Big Data, Smart Data”, one speaker talked about how businesses should sell solutions, not tools to make big data work. What he was talking about was selling the story, not so much the data. Data is useless if it can’t be turned into information. Don’t make the mistake of thinking data is the solution, it’s an asset to help you find it.

 2. Why so Serious?

whysoserious

One of my favorite things Amy said during her presentation was that they weren’t always so serious when building up their brand. If you haven’t notice with my blog, while I do speak a lot about marketing trends and being up a lot of statistics, I usually wrap it up in a fun article about something nerdy (See my Uncle Ben, Zelda, and Justice League posts). Just because you have data, doesn’t mean you have to be so stoic in presenting it. Zillow created a trick or treat housing index where they show parents the safest (and richest) neighborhoods near them so that their kids can get the most candy. They also started reporting on the White House’s value, and would see how it fluctuates during each President’s term. The content wasn’t focused on pushing the product, but instead a nicely packaged story that promoted the product naturally. That’s what consumers want. Be serious only when you need to be.

3. Start Small

I know with all this talk of “big data” it can seem that you need to go big or go home when conducting your marketing campaigns. Don’t let that idea seduce you. You always want to be sure that the data you are using is proven worth to both your customers and you. I’m not the only one who thinks this. Bill Franks from Teradata released this article talking about how to get your firm started with big data, and it starts with beginning small. The idea of using “big data” is still new, so you want to start small to see exactly what data benefits your business the best.

Now as I have mentioned before, you can’t just rely on content to get you thousands of sales; the content just gets you started. With Zillow, Amy mentioned that while they were doing well, 60% of American households had no idea who Zillow was. In order to grow their brand, they needed an accelerant; they needed advertising. This is when you start to use paid media to help with your earned media. be cautious You don’t want to start with advertising when trying to build your business. Amy used the following metaphor to explain it best, “You can’t start with the accelerant to build a fire. You first need to build a small fire that has room to grow.”

I strongly suggest that if you have never been to a marketing conference, to sign up with a nearby AMA chapter and get to one quick. Being able to learn and network with other marketers is an invaluable experience.

Do you use data to drive your content? Let me know in the comments below!

Uncle Ben’s Advice for Understanding Social Privacy

Uncle Ben was one of my great heroes growing up. He was right up there with Batman, Wonder Woman, and Mickey Mouse. However short his life was in the Spider-Man series, his legacy, and teachings was what helped create the Spider-Man we all know and love today.

greatpower

With Great Power…

Now how does this apply to you? With the internet being, well, the internet, privacy seems to be more of a luxury than a right. Anything you post can be found, and information given over the internet has the potential of being stolen via hackers (the bad kind, not like growth hackers). This article by Bloomberg Business week says it best,

Adults have long warned kids that if they weren’t careful, questionable behavior would end up on their permanent record. Over the decades, that record has become larger, more searchable, and more available to the public. “-Felix Gillette, Business Week 2013

Let’s dig a little deeper into what privacy means for people. According to this New York Times article, “It’s understanding what happens to your data, and having the ability to control it.” With data being freely given through social media, it seems easy to just get the data you want since it is so easy to access. Apps have used this data by sharing it in order to ‘help’ it’s users find anything from a store they are looking for, to potential dates in a nearby bar. However, having that amount of information out for everyone to see, can be extremely creepy; and really annoying.

nonsensetingling

Check out this social media experiment done by Jack Vale.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P_0s1TYpJU&w=560&h=315]

He got all that information from Instagram alone! Should being social have to mean giving up your privacy rights? Where do you define the line of personalization and “creep factor”?

 

…Comes Great Responsibility

So with all these weary consumers not wanting to share information on the net, how can you, as a marketer, help ease their worries while taking their information? This is where the second half of Uncle Ben’s advice comes in; “responsibility.”  There are quite a few measures you can take to make sure that consumers aren’t feeling creeped out with all the data you are supposedly collecting.

1. Have Users Opt-In: While Spiderman doesn’t usually ask before saving someone, as a company, and a smart marketer, you should. Building a relationship with a consumer is just like building any other relationship: it starts with trust. Make sure the consumer feels comfortable with sharing information with you, and know that you will guard that information with your life. Don’t be like those creepy dating apps that just share your information with the world, ask and then execute. It makes everyone feel more comfortable.

2. Be An Open Book: Let users know what you are collecting and why. The one thing I love about Paypal is that not only do I know they have a lot of encryption software to safeguard my information, they ask me every step of the way if I am sure I want to share a certain tidbit of information. They then explain why they need that information, and what they do with it.  i feel safer because I know why they need my information, and I know exactly what they are using. Snap Chat was able to target this peculiar situation of privacy by allowing someone to see an image or video for only 10 seconds before it is destroyed, making an erasable social media.

3. When your users go, so does their data: Don’t have your users be afraid to delete an app or profile to your business because of the data you have accumulated. Once they are gone, their personal data is as well. Data is constantly changing, and you don;t need to hang on to personal information about a long gone client. Instead, you should focus on why they left.

Ultimately, being given this vast amount of information about people is a big responsibility on your shoulders, and being open, and honest is the best policy to making sure your clients feel safe sharing their information, whether organically or via a social media channel, with you.

yadidgood
“You did good, kid” Wouldn’t you like to hear this from your customers?

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Growth Hack:Building An Audience with No Marketing

Le gasp! A marketing blog talking about a no marketing strategy for businesses? Say it isn’t so!

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It will all become clear soon my friends. I am going to be talking about one of the buzziest buzz words out there in the business world; growth hacking. To get started, here are a few synonyms I found for it:

  • ninja
  • super marketer
  • Hustler
  • rock star

Thoroughly confused? Let me break down what growth hacking is, and why as a marketer, you should know about this.

What is Growth Hacking?

Sean Ellis, the guy who coined the term “growth hacker” explains it best this way,

“A growth hacker is a person whose ‘true north’ is growth.”

My favorite description comes from a Mashable article I read this week, “growth hacking has marketing goals, driven by product instincts.” So you can all breathe, I am still talking about marketing. You’ve heard of the term ‘lean start up’? Well growth hacking is the ultimate lean start up marketer. The soul purpose of growth hacking is to build up the audience of start ups.  Here’s the kicker though: growth hacking ISN’T marketing. At least not in the traditional sense. They are, in a way, a specialist marketer focused on growth alone; using whatever means necessary. That means using A/B testing, website analytics, API integration, among other means to get to the users. Growth hacking is responsible for how things like Facebook, Dropbox, and StumpleUpon got there impressive amount of users.

The reason growth hacking works is because of a little thing called Product Market Fit. This is making a product that is designed to fit a specific need for a very targeted audience. You are testing and tweaking that product until you find the perfect fit for that audience. Personalization at it’s finest. A great example of growth hacking is Zynga, a gaming startup that was one of the first to integrate with Facebook’s API.  Remember all those Farmville requaests and updates you’d see from friends on Facebook? That would be the work of Zynga’s growth hackers. 

AirBnb, a housing rental company, had their growth hackers ‘hack’ Craigslist, and have people who list their space on their site, also have an option to list it on craigslist. 10s of millions of users that they were able to gain access to, for a fraction of the cost. They were able to steer people from Craigslist to their site and boom! New users acquired.

hellyaykronk

Other startups who have used hacked their way to new users are:

  • Pinterest: with a staggering 70 million users, Pinterest’s “insta-follow” and easy integration where you can ‘pin’ anything on the web, has helped it to grow to one of the top social networks.
  • Spotify: Thanks to their integration with Facebook (they were one of the first), Spotify has been able to gain new users everyday; currently 24 million are active users.

Growth hacking is obviously not the only way to gain an audience; inbound marketing, SEO, among other techniques in a traditional marketing strategy can work just fine for companies.  Like Sean Ellis said, growth marketing isn’t a replacement for marketing, nor is it ‘better’. It is simply different than marketing. Meaning, you can use marketing tactics in tandem with growth hacking. Please note though that growth hacking works best seems to work best for start up tech companies that are looking to gain the largest audience as possible. Can you imagine McDonald’s using a growth hack strategy like Zynga? Neither can I. Always remember this with anything I post: it ALL goes back to your strategy, and what your goals are.

How You Can Do It

What does this mean for marketers. If you are looking to get into start ups, you need to be able to:

Get technical: Kind of a given, but you don’t want to think in the traditional marketing sense. The internet opens up thousands of opportunities, so you need to think more technical. Here is a great quote that captures how society has shifted,

“Instead of roads that lead up to local movie theaters, we choose to browse Youtube.”–The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking, 2013

Being a part of the product creation, marketers need to look at each aspect of the product, and tweak the product in order to reach the greatest amount of people. This means knowing web analytics, product engineering, and utilizing a lot of creativity.

Know When Less is More: This tip comes from Kissmetrics; if you are utilizing growth hacking, more than likely people aren’t entering your site from your homepage. It will be some page shared from friends, or from some page you have SEO’d the crap out of. When these potential users get interested in you and click to get to your homepage, you want to get them signed up as quickly as possible. To do that you don’t need a complicated website. Look at Tumblr:

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No home screen, no videos, nothing fancy, just a login/signup page. However, if you have seen any of those famous gifs or tumblr posts that have been circulating on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Buzzfeed, you would need to sign in in order to see the full post. They have roughly 30-50 million users.

Think you would like to be a growth hacker? Think growth hacking is over rated? Let me know in the comments below!

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Now Accepting Mobile: Payment by Phone Hit or Miss?

I have always been fascinated with how quickly our society adopts new practices as technology opens new doors for us. I have been tracking the Google and Apple watches, and let me just say that as someone who grew up envious of the Power Ranger watch communicators, I will be one of the first to get one of these things. Something else that has been gaining attention by businesses and consumers is this shift to dependence on our phones. Because of this, retailers are trying out different methods of accepting accounts via our phone, as payment.

saywhat

No I’m serious. Garter predicts that mobile payments will surpass $235 billion in 2013. This article here, predicts that in the next 3-5 years, 50% of transactions will be mobile. In addition to money, mobile devices on us literally 24/7. I know that I get fidgety whenever my phone is more than 3 feet away from me. So why not use it to make purchases as well? Businesses also benefit because you are able to gather more information from your customers to use for personalization marketing strategies (cough database marketing cough).These are all promising points, but is mobile really becoming a mainstream mode of transaction? Are we ready to allow our phone, our most precious gadget, to become our wallet as well?

Types of Mobile Payment Options

Lets start by looking into the different types of mobile payments methods:

1. Near Field Communications

iphone5-nfc

You recognize this nifty scanner pictured above? That would be an example of near field communication (NFC) mobile payment.You link the phone either to a Google Wallet account (tied to your bank or credit card), to an NFC credit card account (like Mastercard PayPass), or to an Isis account (tied to your mobile phone billing), then tap a terminal at the checkout to pay.   Certain devices, mainly Android and Blackberry phones ( no Iphone? Whaaat?), have NFC capabilities. What’s cool about this is that businesses who accept NFC payments, pay lower interchange fees, which in turn can lower some prices for consumers since that “swipe fee” isn’t driving prices up. While this seems like a cool, futuristic way to pay, that seems to be it’s only selling point.  According to Garter, while in 2017 they forecasts $450 billion users will make mobile payments, only 5% of those payments will be from NFC.  Also, in order to use NFC, you would need to have one of the specific phone with NFC, and I wouldn’t pick one phone over the other only because of it’s NFC capability. Perhaps if NFC was more widely used, it would justify leaving the house without cash or credit card. 

2. Brand Specific Apps

starbucks

This is my personal favorite of the mobile payment types. Like I discussed in my previous post, apps seem to have been the way to go when it comes to alternative payments. With an app, consumers are able to input credit card info and “load” money on the app for in-store payments.  This benefits “regulars” the most; by combining the payment functionality with apps that track purchases and reward loyalty, they can go to their favorite shop without needing a wallet.  Best example? Starbucks app. Starbucks has been the pioneer in mobile app payments; by using their mobile app to connect with their loyalty program, it prompts users to use their phones over a card whenever they make a Starbucks run. 

3.Payment Apps

Smartphone buy application

As opposed to using a specific store app, companies like Square and Paypal allow you to store money in their accounts, and use their apps to pay for things like a digital wallet. Stores that offer payment by app either let you key in your mobile phone number and a pin or use location data captured by your phone, in which case the phone will generate a QR code to be scanned at the register. LevelUp, another front runner in the mobile wallet race, actually does this buy using QR codes to allow consumers to pay for items in stores. They also connect this payment option with a loyalty program, ensuring a steady amount of customers use that payment method. It seems to be working too, since over 3,800 retailers nationwide use LevelUp.  While stores still need special equipment or merchant accounts to run these, the credit card processing fees are cheaper for businesses, and opens up transactions to those who prefer their online account over a bank account.

So let’s tally up our score shall we?

Hits

-Cheaper Card processing fees

-More integration with a tool you use all the time anyways

-Easier way to store information of customers for database marketing

Misses

-Security 

-External Equipment

-Doesn’t Solve a Pressing Problem

My Opinion: While I believe mobile payments are logically the next step in our technological adoption, I don’t think we can call it mainstream just yet. The main problem with mobile payments is that it’s not necessarily “solving” anything pressing. I mean, how difficult is it to swipe a card?People mainly connect mobile payments with web transactions. I would rather, for example, pay for something online through an app or mobile website, as opposed to using it at a physical place. That’s what cards are for. I think mobile payments have their place, but only when tied with something else at this point and time. Now as far as using mobile payment equipment in a business setting, i think there is a market there. Lean start-ups may not have the money at the beginning to afford processing hardware, which is where companies like the ones mentioned would be of benefit. Square actually just came out with a Square Stand, which is a sleek, light weight replacement of the cash register, that takes away the card reader, and allows for more accurate card reading and expanded business operations such as inventory, and analytics for I-pads.

I had asked opened up a discussion on my Facebook account asking what people thought of using mobile for payments, and here were some of their thoughts:

” I don’t!! Too much can be accessed through cell phones. And are we really turning so lazy that we can’t carry wallets now? Businesses obviously want is to download google wallet or a Starbucks paying app to increase loyalty but I don’t think they are necessary from a consumer perspective at all. An advantage: while dangerous to put that stuff on your phone, might also be a better alternative to losing your card somewhere”

“Love love love paying with my Starbucks app and I am counting the days i can leave my wallet at home and pay for everything on my phone.”

“Our phone or any other mobile device is vulnerable to attack in public places – it’s extremely easy for you to get hacked by someone, especially in a store over WiFi. I’d advise against it – just use your card or plain old cash.”

“As a Starbucks employee, it is very helpful when people don’t have to rustle through purses (coats, pants pockets, etc) in order to pay. It’s very convenient for us and people who are almost always holding their phone in line anyway.”

What do you think of mobile payments? Do you use mobile? Where have you gone recently that accepts mobile?  Discuss with me what you think!

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