Conversion Rate Optimization

Hot or Not? Check Your Images with Heat Maps

heatmaps

Do you suspect that your sales page leaves people cold? Do you think nobody’s reading your content – or, at the very least, they’re ignoring your Call to Action (CTA) buttons? Are the images on your website turning visitors off – or confusing them?

What are your visitors thinking?!?!

If you’ve posed any of these questions, or just want to know what your visitors like and don’t like, heat maps are the super simple (and crazy valuable) answer.

Copywriters and designers take note: This will change the way you do everything. Ready? I’m going to show you how to use heat maps to get the most out of your visual content. Best part? These programs are usually free or affordable (I recommend five favorites at the bottom).

Read More on SEMrush

Product Management

Make better products with your team’s input: using NPS-style internal polls

make-better-products

You already know the value of net promoter scores (NPS) and feedback forms from customers. Their opinions drive the direction of your company, determine your product, and validate your product experiments (sometimes signaling the need for a change in direction).

And you undoubtedly also understand the vital importance of building a culture of innovation so that new ideas and solutions can come from anyone on the team. You’ve created this environment to capture the benefits reaped from so carefully selecting the brilliant people who make up your workforce.

Then, why don’t you tap into the resource of validating product experiments and company direction with internal NPS and team polls?

Your team knows more about the product than anyone else. They know more about the challenges, concerns, potential issues, and greatest achievements of the product and process – because they’re on the front lines. Not tapping into their insights leaves you vulnerable to mistakes and missed opportunities.

Which is crazy – since tapping into those insights is so easy.

Let’s look at some ways you can leverage those collective insights with team polls to make your company stronger, and help ensure it’s headed in the best of all possible directions. Regularly tracking your team’s sentiments over time can also give context to your business metrics and help you understand the success or obstacles of your company.

Read More on Notion

Customer Success

An Early Customer Thinks They’ve “Outgrown” Your Product: A Customer Success Close-Call

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Here is Part 2 of our series, Customer Success Failure: How the Pros Lost Customers (and Learned from it). Pros share their stories of losing, or almost losing, an account. Their lessons learned can help you develop your Customer Success function and improve retention rates.

Sometimes, you can save a client relationship (and make it so much stronger.) Which is what happened with Zendesk, as shared by Sary Stefanki, Sr. Director of Global Customer Success.

Zendesk really does everything right. Their Customer Success program is robust. They deeply care about their customers. Sary explains, “As we grew, we created a customer success program that identified customer goals and developed metrics so that there was a transparency around where we stood on all those goals. We boiled these success programs down to concrete success plans, mapped back goals to our Zendesk products and ID’d the metrics we needed to hit.”

To strengthen alignment from the top of the company down, they concentrated on communicating their goals “up, down, and across teams, so that everyone knew the customer goals and we were aligned on all fronts.” Zendesk has become well known for its cross-departmental communication and interaction.

But Zendesk didn’t start out that way. This company has grown by leaps and bounds, making headlines in 2010 for a record growth rate of over 300 percent.

Read More on Wootric

Creativity, Diversity, Marginalization

Don’t Wait for the President to Make Changes – Bring About Change All Year

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve never found it harder to “not get political” than with this election. Can any two candidates be more polarizing? Can Facebook get any more fraught with zealously divergent opinions? I hope not. But, the election is still several months away, and friends – it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

In the midst of this political mire, it’s easy to forget that we actually have a lot of power to create the changes we want to see. Going to the polls isn’t the only way to vote – and one might argue it’s not even the most impactful. We also vote with how we spend our time, and with how we spend our money.

We also vote with how we spend our time, and with how we spend our money. Click To Tweet

Here are a few of my ideas for how we can bring about positive change in the tech industry all year.

3 Ways I Choose to Contribute to Positive Change

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve become more and more vocal about promoting inclusivity and diversity in tech – for people of color, transgender people, and every other marginalized population. But if you’re not the CEO or hiring manager of your company, you might feel like you have limited say in who gets hired or how they’re treated (or, if you’re a contract worker like me, you have NO say). My answer to you is this: Think outside your box.

Join Fund Club

Anyone can support marginalized people in tech at Join Fund Club. When you become a member, you get a monthly email with Fund Club’s new pick: a project, initiative, event or organization focused on diverse communities in technology. You commit to give $100 to the month’s selection, directly to the recipient project (no middle-men taking a cut). Make no mistake – it IS a commitment, and you don’t get to pick and choose who or what gets your money. But, from my experience, each project chosen has been pretty incredible. Example: CallbackWomen’s mission is to radically expand gender diversity at the podium of professional programmers’ conferences.

Sponsor Model View Media

Model View Culture is a magazine about technology, culture and diversity. In fact, I think their description of their latest issue says it best:

“In this issue, we deconstruct the rhetoric of imposter syndrome, cover the implications of artificial intelligence for queer and trans people, and critique claims behind the 3D printing “revolution.” We look at the cost of the Lean In industry on women in tech, and ponder bots and digital dualism. Plus, unpacking the mythology of indie success in the games industry, and a new organization focused on trans women in software.”

And that’s just ONE issue! You can see why I’m excited. You can support them by purchasing a print subscription or digital subscription, or you can donate a subscription for someone who can’t afford it.

The fact that it’s interesting and well-written is Model View Culture’s biggest selling point – but how does supporting it create positive change?

For this, I go to Becca Edwards, Strategy Director at Rallio, who contributed some words of wisdom on the power of awareness.

“I think awareness is key to bringing about change. A friend or mentor pointing out where you can improve and you taking the time to absorb their criticism. Maybe it’s awareness that there can be a better way. Or that an action or mentality affects more than just you. Or that you’re loved and worth love, no matter what you are or what you do, and that you have a safe space to change. That’s when I would evaluate what I’m doing and take complete stock of the situation. I’m a reader, so I’d look for research and writings on the thing I need to change to get a better understanding of it. After that, it’s setting goals (starting with small steps) and reasonable expectations for meeting those goals.” 

Support Projects on Patreon

Without art and creativity, where would the tech industry be? Probably in someone’s garage, or in an uninspired office park. You don’t have to code to be in tech – and you don’t have to have an aversion to numbers to be an artist, writer or creative. Patreon is a crowdfunding platform, but unlike Kickstarter, the goal isn’t to raise one large lump sum, but to fund creators who create a stream of smaller projects. It’s more like a paid subscription. For $2-$7 a month, you can help support someone’s work and get regular “rewards.” Another difference – you get the goods before you pay, which, if you’ve been burned by Kickstarter projects, is a nice thing.

There is a huge range of artists and creative projects, from Cosplay to independent journalism. One project I find interesting is Egyptoon, an Egyptian cartoon on YouTube that presents social and political issues and current events in Egypt and the Arab world with humor and sarcasm.

Then, with a decidedly more techy bent, there’s Why I Need Diverse Games, which sponsors attendance at gaming conventions, promotes game creators who make diverse games, and highlights the work of underrepresented people in the games industry.

Lauren Van Mullem says she uses Patreon to support the work of a writer who traveled to Sweden to record the stories of Syrian refugees. For $2 per story, she gets a unique glimpse into the refugee situation from their perspective.

How Other Awesome People are Making Positive Change

Creating and supporting positive change is a team effort, so I opened up the question to some of my favorite people in the tech industry. But first, I ran across this post from Erica Joy that I’d love to share with you. My favorite sentence (because it’s hilarious):

The Bay Area is full of photographers. Throw a burrito in any direction in San Francisco and you’ll probably piss someone off for getting queso fresco on their brand new lens. 

And, my favorite part (because it’s pertinent):

Making sure diversity permeates all aspects of the business, voting with dollars to support other companies who value diversity, making diversity the first thought in the decision making process, all these things are how a company builds not only a diverse environment, but an inclusive environment.

With that in mind, check out what these people are doing – small scale and large scale – to make the world a little better and a little kinder for everyone.

Ashe Dryden founded AlterConf. She wants to bring about “critical cultural discussions in tech and gaming.” As the Twitter profile for AlterConf notes, “We’re moving the diversity conversation beyond 101. Coming to a city near you!” Check out the many ways you can participate to support AlterConf.

“My favorite charity is Give Directly. It’s a very data-driven and research-backed approach to maximizing financial contributions to improve people’s lives. Being the contrarian that I am, I also love that it works so well despite so many people disbelieving and fearing its impact.”

— Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz

“1. Get involved with organizations that encourage women/girls and people/kids of color in STEAM subjects. See some groups here.
2. Join HandUp and support unhoused neighbors.
3. Volunteer. Find opportunities here.
4. Continually inform yourself about unconscious bias, privilege, and being an ally instead of expecting lesser-privileged people to educate you. (See some good resources here.)
5. Talk to others about unconscious bias, privilege, and being an ally often.
6. Speak up when you see discrimination, but use your privilege to make room for lesser-privileged voices if they have the energy to say something.
7. Make it a point to expand your circle of contacts to people you don’t normally mix with.
8. When you mess up, apologize for the hurt caused and don’t focus on your own intent.”

— Michelle Glauser, Advocate & organizer of underrep-ed people in tech

I recommend expanding your social network among marginalized people (especially queer/trans people) and spending time donating money to them when in need and also doing rideshares/car pools to help get them to informed consent clinics for hormone therapy. QT people, especially the younger ones, have so many issues with finances due to homelessness and general poverty and are also gatekept from HRT due to ridiculous and transphobic standards that are found at any clinic that is not an informed consent one.”

— Ramona KnivesRamona Vs. Cis People

“There has perhaps never been a more important year in America to join, help spread the word about, and support TurboVote. Go beyond your own vote to help bring about change.”

— Raju Narisetti, Senior Vice President, Strategy, NewsCorp

A lot of times when people think of change, they think way too big instead of focusing on the micro-interactions we have with people and the change we can bring through 1-on-1 relationships. I personally know that change won’t happen overnight but I personally commit to providing a positive influence and educating people on a daily basis through my personal interactions.

This also means going out of your way to make time. I try to take at least 30 mins – 1 hour each day to personally mentor or provide guidance to those who need it. Also make sure that your avenue of change is something you’re passionate about. It’s much easier to be dedicated to making change when you’re passionate about what you’re doing. We all have issues that matter more to us.”

— Everette Taylor, Entrepreneur & Marketing Executive

“For me, creating positive impact is about making time to help people in our everyday lives. It’s all about the small things for me, but one big thing I’ve done is co-create the Copy Muse Collective, which helps newer writers learn the ropes of freelancing from established writers. I had a tough start as a content marketer, and I’m passionate about making that path easier for others to follow so that more women can define their own career paths outside of male-dominated spaces.”

— Lauren Van Mullem, Founder of Truer Words

Customer Success

Learning from Customer Success: “It was like a Gut-Punch — No Warning”

learning-from-customer-success-failure

Welcome to a 3-part series, Customer Success Failure: How the Pros Lost Customers (and Learned from it). Pros share their stories of losing, or almost losing, an account.  Their lessons learned can help you develop your Customer Success function and improve retention rates.

Some say the mark of success isn’t that you never fail, but how you react when failure occurs. Failure happens, but when handled well, something far more powerful can happen: Growth.

Jay Nathan, SVP of Customer Success at PeopleMatter, workforce management software used by Del Taco and Charlotte Russe among other brands, was taken by surprise with his first cancellation: “The first major cancellation I received after taking responsibility for retention was like a gut-punch – no warning.” He reacted like any of us would: Try to figure out what went wrong, see if there was anything he could do to stop it, and figure out how to prevent nasty surprises like this in the future.

Read More on Wootric

Content Marketing

The Power of Visual Storytelling: 15 Stunning Examples to Inspire You

the-power-of-visual-story-telling

Before the days of neon lights and marquee signs, business owners had to get creative when it came to advertising their establishments. In fact, wine bars in ancient Rome used to hang bunches of vine leaves outside their door as a nod to the God of Wine, Bacchus. And when weather conditions left them with a short supply of vine leaves, barkeeps turned to bushes — inns called Bush, or Bull & Bush, still exist today.

But others didn’t even have that. They had to get artistic. And with a largely illiterate population, pictorial signs were the only logical advertising choice.

Visual storytelling — or passing on a lot of information through a relatively simple visual aid — has been a cornerstone of marketing for thousands of years. I’d like to say we’ve come a long way, but really? What worked then works now: We see what we want and we’re driven to buy it.

Perhaps, if anything has changed, it’s what we want from life. That’s where today’s visual storytellers have a chance to not only say “Hey, you can get this here!” but also lead the consumer into a whole new world of possibilities.

Below you’ll find 15 of the very best examples of visual storytelling from B2C, B2B, crowdfunding, and SaaS. These companies know how to tell a brand story that seeds desire, starts relationships, and inspires nothing short of love. Check ’em out.

Read More on HubSpot

Content Marketing

How to Support Your Copy with Images (Instead of Just Dropping Pics on a Page)

how-to-support-your-copy

“I want to go to there,” says Liz Lemon.

She’s just watched a sexily rumpled John Hamm walk out of the kitchen only to tell her:

Now that’s an image that inspires action, amiright?

We see.

We want.

We make happen.

The connection between sight and longing is visceral, primal – not to be ignored.

Except here’s the thing: most of us content creators do ignore it. In an effort to draw a prospect in with our words, copywriters may dismiss the power of images. Or, at best, we may find ourselves using them as meek supporting characters to the textual stars of our shows.

But images are far too powerful to be relegated to the backgrounds.

And words with images? You put the right ones together and you not only get momentum – you could start a movement. Says science.

Read More on CopyHackers

Metrics, SaaS, Startups

Why Every Team Needs Quantitative Goals

whyeveryteamneedsquantitivegoals

The mistake I see most often: Companies hit a million or two in revenue, and not every department has quantitative goals. Sales always has a goal – but does marketing? What are their quantitative goals in customer success? What are engineering’s quantitative goals it has to hit this quarter? Do you have a point system? Do you have a card system? Most marketers are like ‘I don’t have a lead commit, I just have a budget.’ We’re not in that world anymore. We all have to set measurable goals.

– Jason Lemkin, founder of SaaSTr, Metrics that Matter Webinar, April 26th 2016

Jason Lemkin, venture capitalist and founder of SaaSTr, says the biggest mistake he sees with companies in the start-up phase ($1mm – $2mm ARR) is not that they don’t track CAC or LTV or one single metric, but rather that each division, from sales to marketing to product to customer success, and even engineering, don’t have specific quantitative goals.

In short, each department needs to find their key metric to drive success in order to keep getting better.

And, while Lemkin doesn’t go into the specifics for each department, his rule of thumb is crystal clear:

Figure out a goal for every department. Most importantly, set a baseline based on what you know, then drive that up or down.

Sales has always been driven by metrics and quotas. Why not other departments? With the data gathering and tracking technology we have at our disposal, there’s no excuse not to try and optimize every process, every department and every team.

Here are some suggestions for success metrics — Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) — that make sense for the key players in your start-up phase company: Engineering, Product, Customer Service, and Marketing.

Read More on Notion

Customer Development, Customer Success

How to Become Customer-Centric like Trunk Club, Invision & Atlassian

customer-centric

You’re all about your customer – I hear you. You make what they want, deliver what they need, and bend over backwards, forwards and sideways to help them if they should run into trouble. Maybe you’re doing everything right, but maybe your company still isn’t customer-centric.

A truly customer-centric company involves their ideal customer from the beginning, in the product development phase (aka. customer development) to accurately target problem-solution fit. From there, a Customer Success strategy takes over, building into the product, company model and marketing whatever it takes to deliver the ideal customer’s desired outcome. Then, the customer-centric company keeps tabs on their success rates through something like a regular NPS survey, and adjusts accordingly.

Read More on Segment

Content Marketing, Diversity

Influencer Marketing: I’ve got a bone to pick with you – wanna meet me outside?

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Joanna Wiebe has this great formula for writing compelling posts. As she puts it, “pick a fight.” Well, there’s been a battle brewing between me and one marketing idea for a very long time: Influencer marketing. It’s hotter than a June bug in July right now. Everyone’s talking about it, and almost everyone’s doing it.

The idea behind influencer marketing isn’t a bad one altogether.

Some have described it as “the opposite of authority marketing” – instead of you being the one drawing people in with your charm and expertise, you’re instead courting others who have already built up their authorities in your niche (or related niche) and asking them to introduce you to their audiences (preferably with a glowing review, or an anchor-text heavy guest post).

A more succinct definition from VisionCritical: Influencer marketing is the practice of “engaging and partnering with people deemed to have online clout.” Bloggers, internet personalities, celebrities and industry experts are all fair game.

The promise?

“Companies expect that influencer marketing will drive sales because bloggers are able to expose the brand to a captive audience and increase brand awareness.” – Elspeth Shek, “Influencer marketing’s big, bad problem, and what companies can do about it,” VisionCritical

So, best case scenario: Your influencer has a large, highly engaged, niche-specific audience that will listen to *anything* s/he says, and buy whatever s/he recommends.

Some influencers have that much power. If you’re a new perfumer and you get Dita Von Teese’s public endorsement? You’ve got it made in the shade. Why? Because her audience is devoted to the point of being fanatical, and she has won their trust through her own integrity of only supporting brands (and scents) she genuinely loves.

But, most influencers don’t have that much sway. They may have large followings, but maybe half are active, and the other half are “lurkers” (and at least one technology researcher and strategist, Alexandra Samuel, contends that “lurkers” are not only less likely to comment and engage, but also less likely to follow recommendations).

Still, the potential benefits of winning an influencer over to your cause are big, juicy, and understandably tempting, spawning a million-and-one articles about how to do influencer marketing. This article  isn’t one of them.

This article is about whether you should use influencer marketing at all, and if you do, how you can benefit other people in addition to your brand. Yes, I could have titled this article “How you can use influencer marketing to make the world a better place,” but I’m not running for Miss America anytime soon.

Big Picture: How Ethical – not to mention effective – is Influencer Marketing?

“The voice of the customer has always been one of the most powerful concepts in marketing, and today’s social media platforms act as one giant megaphone for that voice.” – Kyle Wong, “The Explosive Growth of Influence Marketing and What it Means for You,” Forbes

The theory is that by choosing the right influencers with whom to partner, you’ll get an all-access pass into the minds and hearts of their audience (who is also your target audience). But first, you have to choose your influencer, and there’s a scientific approach to this called “influencer targeting.”

According to Forbes, the winning influencer targeting equation is:

“Influencer = Audience Reach (# of followers) X Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) X Strength of Relationship with Followers”

I’ve written about The Problem with Influencer Marketing before. My biggest beef is that because of the way influencers are chosen, only the voices that are already the loudest get amplified. Brands who pick influencers based solely on numbers ensure the people who already dominate the conversations continue to do so.

This is problematic when, as I found:

Of the “50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2016,” published by Entrepreneur magazine, you’ll find that:

74% are male

86% are white

This isn’t only an issue of diversity in sex and ethnicity; it’s an issue of differentiation. When the same voices are retweeted by every brand’s social media, every brand starts to sound the same. And that means that, pretty soon, your brand’s social media will have all the impact of white noise. (Get it? White noise? Ha!)

But what if brands chose their influencers differently, and with a weather eye towards diversity?

What if we could change the way brands and influencers and audiences interact altogether?

Mirror, mirror on the wall – who’s the cloutiest of them all?

My theory: Truly effective and impactful influencer marketing can only be built on a foundation of trust, mutual respect, and mutual benefit. And, if you’re building your influencer “network” based on a formula, rather than making genuine person-to-person connections, you won’t have that.

Here are my new and improved formulas for your consideration:

influencer

influencer2The only kind of brand/influencer relationship that works in the long-term is one that is not just mutually beneficial, but mutually supportive. I’d like to see brands, marketers and entrepreneurs create circles of authentic relationships that support each other – which is actually far easier than cold-Tweeting influencers with variations on “Hey, can I use you to sell our product to your audience? KThanks!”

In short, Building trust with influencers requires not having the attitude of “What can you do for me?”

Let me share with you one of the nicer requests I’ve received. She starts out great, with lots of compliments (compliments will get you almost anywhere), but her message missed a vital component. Can you guess what it is?

Hi Nichole,

I’ve read your article on “Truly Awesome Tactics to Gain Traffic from Twitter” on Moz and found it very interesting and inspiring.

I especially like your point about storytelling and writing clickbait headlines.
We operate in the Tech/Business space as well, so I’m sure we’ll be able to collaborate.

We’re currently looking to increase our brand awareness, and I really like the quality of your article, I thought I’d reach out to you personally.  Do you think it would be possible to mention [company] on one of your articles on Moz?

We’re a business software directory specializing in the software reviews and deals. You can check out blog to get an idea about the type of topics we cover, here.

I’d be happy to hop on a call for a quick introduction. :)

Thank you so much in advance!

Honestly, I get so many similar requests that my responses have become downright terse.

Hi [Marketer], thanks for reaching out, but that doesn’t really sound like a collaboration, and I can’t think of any articles that I’m writing soon for Moz in which “software reviews and deals” fit.

Regards,

Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

I love to collaborate with great brands, but let’s check that dictionary definition: “to work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something. Synonyms: Join forces, band together, ally.”

Essentially, help each other. This marketer had a firm grasp on how I could help her, but had nothing more meaningful to offer me that a little sweet talk. I like compliments as much as the next human being, but c’mon. And I’m not talking about financial remuneration, though offers are always appreciated. I’m much more interested in forming real partnerships with genuinely good, customer-centric businesses.

And that typically doesn’t result from an unsolicited private message from a marketing department.

Yet this is what influencer marketing encourages: People reach out to influencers without building real relationships, without any real connection, and asking for a one-way exchange.

“The best way to approach someone in demand is to not approach them! In general, this feels like a shortcut, but it’s not. The opportunity is to create your own sphere of influence, curate your own content, lead your own tribe… it might take longer, but it doesn’t put you at the mercy of the delete key.” – Seth Godin

What I would like to see instead is this:

Brands increasing their brand awareness the right way, by practicing customer success, creating delight, and building an army of brand advocates who will spread the message for them.

Essentially, we’re turning the idea of an influencer on its head.

Instead of reaching out to an established “influencer” – brands can make their own through empowering their most enthusiastic users. Then it’s not based on numbers; it’s based on passion, existing trust, and an existing relationship that will only continue to strengthen and grow.

And if you must have influencers, I recommend this:

  • Choose people based on who you, personally, would love to get to know;
  • Look for voices that are outside of the mainstream (but who still have passionate, engaged audiences);
  • And forge a genuine relationship with them.

Their audience and yours will respond far more positively to authentic relationship-building than a clearly transactional plug. Trust me on this.