Permalink

Subdomain Vs Subdirectory: Which is Better for Search?

There are hundreds of factors that go into determining which site should rank for a specific query. While Andrew Lipattsev famously shared the top three with the world in 2015 (Links, Content and RankBrain), how important are the other couple of hundred factors?

In the past I would have argued that while the other factors played a significant role, tediously optimizing around them would yield little return. A few months ago I decided to test my assumptions.

When I began using HubSpot as my marketing automation software, I did what many HubSpot users do and moved my blog over to a subdomain. Since I was rebranding and relaunching my agency, I figured I could just make sure I created great content, generate links and make sure my posts were optimized.

And that’s exactly what I did. Over the next few years I published new content regularly, built links and took the time to ensure my posts were optimized. As you would expect, my site traffic grew and so did my organic visibility. But I am not one to just settle.

I began to notice that my organic growth, while still growing, was growing at a slower pace. So I began to dive a little deeper into the data to see if I could see why. Our backlink profile was clean and growing, so no issues there. We were consistently creating great, contextually relevant content, so again no issues there. So why did we hit this wall?

I began to research more to see if there was something I was missing. I remembered a session at PubCon South FL, where Bill Hunt shared on the power of SEO fundamentals. In his presentation he stressed that if SEO’s would simply focus on the basics of fundamental SEO, they would see a huge return.

This lead me to another one of my go to resources, “The Art of SEO” by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, and Jessica C. Stricchiola.

This book is full of knowledge and insight on everything search. In the section about “creating an SEO friendly website,” they break down all of the essential aspects of having an SEO friendly site. One section, on subdomain vs. subdirectory caught my attention.

“If a sub-folder will work, it is the best choice 99.9% of the time. Keeping content on a single root domain gives the maximum SEO benefits, as engines will maintain all of the positive metrics the site earns around links, authority, and trust, and will apply these to every page on the site.” (Page 251: The Art of SEO)

After reading this section I knew what I wanted to test. It was time to move my blog, the main content drive of my site, off its domain and into a subdirectory. Since I had a ton of content attached to my subdomain, this was going to be a much larger job that changing a few settings on my site.

Getting Started

Before I made the move, I needed first to know the URLs of every blog I had on my current sub-domain. So I used my trusty old friend Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl my site and give me all of the URLs I needed. In total there were 397 pieces of content that needed to be mapped and redirected once I changed my URL structure.

Creating the Map

To ensure that we didn’t create a ton of new 404 errors, we then used this excel spreadsheet to map out the old URLs and the new URLs. While this was a very tedious process, it was extremely important to ensure that our site was working correctly and that we didn’t lose rank for any of the terms for which our blog articles were currently ranking.

Once we finished with the mapping, it was time to create the sub-directory on our site and flip the switch. Since our blog posts were live and we wanted to minimize downtown as much as possible, we waited to upload the 301 redirects until after the domain switch was made. This gave us about 10 minutes between the switch and propagation of the new URL to ensure that everything was redirected. The time we spent mapping the URLs out ahead of time allowed us to do this very quickly.

Making the Switch

Every CMS and register is different, so this next section won’t apply 100% to all cases, but it will give insight into how it works. Our website is hosted on HubSpot, but we manage our domains using WHM CPanel. Since HubSpot connects to domains using CNAME records, and we no longer were going to use our subdomain, we just needed to make sure that our main URL was connected.

The next step was to change the default domain for our blog inside of HubSpot. To make this change, we went to Content > Content Settings > Domain Manager. We removed the “blog” sub-main as the default blog URL and made our main URL the default for blog content.

Next we changed the blog URL in the blog content settings. To access this section in HubSpot go to Content > Content Settings > Blog. Make sure that your main URL is now in the drop down box and add you desired subdirectory location.

Once you’re finished, hit save!

At this point, my blog was now on my root domain and in a subdirectory. But my work was not finished yet. While all of my content was moved, I also just created nearly 400 new 404 errors. Since my subdomain and all of its content were indexed, as far as Google was concerned, I just shut my blog down. In order to ensure that I retained rank, I needed to alert Google that I had moved my content permanently to a new location.

Redirects

Creating the master redirect list ahead of time allowed me to make sure that I accounted for all the domains. HubSpot has a simple redirection tool. To access this tool go to Content > COS URL Mapping.

The bulk redirect option is very easy to use. Since I had my URLs in an excel file, I just exported them to CSV and was able to copy and paste the data into the URL mapping tool.

I checked the box, and clicked “Add URL mappings.” I then checked the old domains to make sure that they were redirecting properly.

Finishing Touches

Since I just added nearly 400 new pages to my site, I wanted to make sure that Google recrawled my site as soon as possible. Search Console is one of the best tools for webmasters and SEOs to not only view site statistics but also connect to Google.

Using the sitemap link under “crawl” I added my sitemap to be crawled again. While this doesn’t force Google to recrawl your, it can help to get your site crawled sooner. After any major URL, content or site structure update, I recommend that you resubmit your site to Google.

The Results

After I made the switch, now it was time to sit back and collect the data. While I was hoping that this would result in more visibility, I was also praying that I covered all my bases to ensure that I didn’t destroy all of the hard work I had put into driving traffic over the last few years.

I wanted to be sure that I gave the search engines some time before I made any conclusions. While I expected it to take longer, I started to see a big change just a week after the switch was made. The graph below will show that on November 19, 2017, I had 35 indexed pages on my root domain. By December 3, 2017, 689.

Great news! This means Google was picking up my blogs and attaching them to my root domain. But how was this impacting site visibility?

Two weeks prior to moving to a subdirectory, From November 9 to the 23rd, my site had 79 total click, 41,547 total impressions and an avg. CTR of 0.19%.

Two weeks right after the switch this is what we saw: 562 total click, 93,527 total impressions and an avg. CTR of 0.6%.

To be honest, this blew my mind. I knew moving traffic from a subdomain by default would increase these numbers because all of the blog content was not on the root domain. But the pages that had the largest increase in traffic were my home page and SEO services page.

While our blogs are a clear traffic driver, moving them to a subdirectory clearly added value to our site as a whole.

Since making the move, we have seen a moderate increase in organic traffic (4.22%) and continue to see other indicators that Google approves of our move. While these numbers aren’t as astronomical as the search console date, they clearly show that we are headed in the right direction.

What About Rank?

One area I was concerned with during this whole process was losing rank for a number of keywords we worked so hard to gain authority around. Moving to a subdirectory greatly increased the visibility of our content. We are now ranking for the first position for a number of our focused terms and have better positioned our site to drive more qualified traffic.

ranking3

ranking1

ranking2-1

Conclusion

As stated in the quote from “The Art of SEO”, if you can have your blog in a subdirectory, by all means do it. The benefits to your domain as a whole will be huge. Now, just because you make the switch or start with your blog connected to the root, doesn’t mean you’ll get results. You still need to create great content, have sound on-page optimization and build links. By having your content connected to your root domain, all the hard work associated with your blog will increase the visibility of your site as a whole.

Permalink

What Product Managers Are Focused On In 2018

Now more than ever, PMs at every level bring value to their product and beyond. The deep understanding PMs have of their customer base helps drive decisions across their organizations, which means they often look outside of their field to help drive strategy.

So what are the best in product management thinking about in 2018? We had the pleasure of interviewing seven expert PMs from Alaska Airlines, Gap, SiriusXM, Care.com, TUNE, and Alkami Technology to find out.

We asked our interviewees, “What are you looking ahead to in 2018?” Check out what they’re excited about, working on, and looking ahead to this year in their answers below.

Francis Brown“As a product group that focuses on the internal customer, we’re looking forward to how the mobile tools will revolutionize how we do things in the airline. We’re in the process of building the apps now, but it can lead us to a lot of interesting use cases with beacon technology, chat communication, and AI. It’s really about making the job easier for airline employees.”

Francis Brown from Alaska Airlines

Lauren Lee“I’m most excited about two tech trends. First, I think we’re going to start to see VR and AR cross the chasm in 2018. There was a ton of hype around these technologies in 2016, then 2017 was relatively quiet, and in 2018, I think we’ll see a lot more apps adopt these technologies as they figure out how to leverage them in a way that drives business. The other trend that is really taking off is voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home. They’re still in infancy stages now in terms of the skills that they have, but I see them being incredibly useful as their functionality expands. I’d love to see how both VR/AR and voice assistants can be used to assist seniors and people with disabilities access technologies and improve their quality of life.”

Lauren Lee from Care.com

Patrick Haig“I’m personally looking to develop as a director and what that means in terms of helping clarify our product strategy, keeping it clear for our teams, and reinforcing it constantly. And, naturally, trying to take stock of any missteps along the way and what I can learn from them. :)”

Patrick Haig from TUNE

Tom Padula“For my current project at SiriusXM, I’m really excited to wow our customers with some great new features and functionality we are planning to launch this year. Our mobile products have come a long way recently, and we’re about to make even bigger strides into current and future technology in 2018. On a personal note, I can’t wait for more and more things in my house to become automated. I’m already on board with connected thermostats, cameras, sound systems, and lighting controls. I can’t wait until I can walk into a room of my house and the technology will know exactly what I want to do there.”

Ethan HollinsheadTom Padula from SiriusXM

“I’m working with a great team at Strava that has largely remained together for the last few years. We’ve also grown a bit recently and the team is really hitting its stride. We’ve got an ambitious roadmap for 2018 and I’m excited to work with this team on implementing it.”

Ethan Hollinshead from Strava

Andrew Wang“I’m looking forward to new personal challenges, including a shift in my role to store technologies. I’m also looking forward to emerging technologies. AI seems to be really popular right now, and I can’t wait to see all the different applications. On a personal note, I recently proposed to my girlfriend, so I’m looking forward to getting married in 2018!”

Andrew Wang from Gap

“I’m personally interested to see what gains the voice systems such as Google Home and Alexa make in the market. Will this just be a toy in the home, or will we start to see a real focus on functionality available to users in their homes with voice assistants?”

Jason Pace from Alkami Technology

Looking for more product management tips?

Product management has moved front and center in many business strategies, and will continue to expand its reach in the years to come. We hope these insights from our expert product managers get you thinking about what’s next for you and your company’s product roadmap.

Grab your free copy of 6 Lessons from Expert Product Managers to hear more from the expert PMs featured above, and let some of the best brands in the product world help shape your 2018 strategy.

Permalink

How to Know Whether You Are Getting the Salary You Deserve

Capri23auto / Pixabay

Money questions are often awkward but just as often on your mind. It can be hard to know what is a fair salary and when you are being paid what you deserve. Having an accurate idea of that is vital when it comes to salary negotiations when you are being hired or when the question of a raise comes up at work.

Here is our advice for making sure you get paid what you deserve.

Thorough Research

Without doing some digging, you’ll never know the kind of salary you should expect. This also allows you to approach any negotiation with objective fact instead of personal feelings which can lead you astray.

Websites like Glassdoor and Payscale can give you an idea of what people in similar positions and companies are earning. When using these sites, remember that the size and stage of the company will also have an impact on salary. What you’ll earn at an early-stage company is generally lower — you are taking on a greater risk for greater potential reward.

It is also important to look at salaries in your location. Various factors, such as cost of living and job market conditions, can make salaries generally higher or lower in different cities and countries.

In addition to those sites, you can also use your network. Ask friends at similar companies or who work in similar roles what they earn — only if they feel comfortable sharing, of course.

Know What Sets You Apart and Use It

If you do have something special to offer that could allow you to earn above the average, it’s important that you fully understand this. In order to negotiate for that additional salary, you will need to be able to clearly and persuasively explain the extra value will offer in return.

Hopefully, you already have a list of ways to demonstrate your value. (You should be preparing these for any job application or interview.) Each and every item you bring up needs to be backed up by persuasive evidence, though.

Look Back on Your Professional Growth

If you have made significant advances in what you do and have taken on greater responsibilities, it is more likely that you deserve a higher salary. Be warned, if you want to use this to ask for a raise, you will need to have the numbers to justify it. Arm yourself with clear metrics as to what you have done to deserve a salary increase.

Understand the Marketplace

If your role or skillset is in high demand in the job market, you are likely able to command a higher salary. If you know other companies are higher positions similar to yours for more than what you are getting paid, you have the potential to negotiate an increase. Tread carefully, though, or you could alienate your employers.

Permalink

Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un Impersonators Get Kicked Out After Crashing Winter Olympics Ceremony

Impersonators of President Donald Trump and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un were unceremoniously kicked out of the 2018 Winter Olympics after they crashed the opening ceremony. It was unclear what the two impersonators were doing but they did enough that it made a scene to warrant their removal. The fun was short but memorable at the start of these Olympic games.

The Los Angeles Times reported that at first no one reacted, but slowly media and Olympic spectators took to the pair and proceeded to snap photos and shoot video with their phones. It all lasted about a minute before the volunteers in the area walked over to escort them back to their seats.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Trump did not travel to South Korea as there is current political tension on the Korean peninsula mounts as the president has maintained a standoff over nuclear power with Kim. Rather, Vice President Mike Pence went in his place. Kim remained in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, where he oversaw a huge military parade the previous day.

The Kim impersonator told Reuters that the two men decided to appear together in Seoul “to show the world, this is what peace could look like when two leaders get along.”

“We get along personally, so I believe that Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, if they talked they’d probably get along. Because in my opinion, they’re pretty much the same person,” he said.
“And Dennis Rodman has confirmed this and he’s met both of them personally,” he added, referring to the former NBA player who has met with Kim multiple times.

“So let’s start talking and stop with all the missiles and everything else,” the impersonator said. “We want peace, everybody wants peace, nobody wants war.”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Here are some reactions on social media with regards to the impersonators.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

If that dram were not enough for you, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the controversial North Korean leader, shook hands with South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in during the opening ceremony. Additionally, the countries’ athletes entered the stadium together, under a united flag. In the same observation box, Pence, representing Trump, could be seen sitting not that far from Yo Jong.

What did you think of the impersonators at the Winter Olympics? Would you like to see more of them throughout the events or should politics be pushed to the side? Let us know in the comments section.

Photo Credit: Source

Permalink

How to Use Email Marketing to Boost Brand Awareness

email marketing help

Keep reading to earn how to increase your email marketing results!

Building brand awareness is one of the biggest challenges for small businesses and startups. They often don’t have the means and channels big business have at their disposition and can’t afford to spend thousands, and often millions, on huge marketing campaigns that might not even bear fruit. However, email marketing is one of the best ways to build brand awareness easily and on the cheap. Here are a few tips on how to boost your brand’s visibility through email marketing.

Make Sure Your Audience Comes First

Too many newsletters come off as self-serving and are nothing but glorified ads. Users are already bombarded left and right with advertising messages, the last place they want to see them is in their inbox.

The best and only way to build a solid audience is by offering value first and foremost. The large majority of your messages should be purely informational in nature and involve no selling whatsoever. The first message should ideally be a free resource, such as a free guide, course or any other resource of value. A discount or freebie will also be welcomed and will help establish trust. Your subscribers will then value your list and look for other discounts later on and you’ll be able to use your list to promote your brand or advertise product launches once you’ve provided enough value.

Compartmentalize Your List

Another mistake that a lot of email marketers do is send one size fits all messages to members of their list. If you want to successfully build your brand and retain subscribers, you have to make sure that you list is well compartmentalized depending on factors like where the subscribers came from and what your prior interactions were with them.

If someone subscribed after they made a purchase for instance, sending a message on the product they bought would not only be useless but will look unprofessional as well. A follow up email asking for their opinion would be better. Also, if you happen to have gathered a list independently through an email checker service like theemailfinder.co, your approach should be different as well. You should work first on establishing trust and keep the selling to a minimum. If the subscriber came from your social media page, then you could showcase social media specific promotions or direct them to raffles or contests you might be holding.

Remember to Remain Consistent

Consistency is essential with any email marketing campaign. The frequency of your emails as well as their format should be consistent if you want to build your brand image and build a relationship with your list. In some industries, converting a client could take years, and consistency is key if you want to keep your brand at the top of your audience’s mind when they do decide to make a purchase decision.

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to build brand awareness. When used correctly, it allows you to reach your customers directly and build a long-lasting relationship, as long as you focus on providing genuine value.

Permalink

There is No Future for Digital Marketing

data mapping techniques

The infographic below is based on LinkedIn’s report of the marketing team of the future and highlights to changing landscape of digital marketing. Will the future for digital marketing look like the one we see today? If not, how will that future differ? How can companies get ahead of the changes in digital marketing to face the future successfully?

These are just a few questions that keep CMO’s and VP’s of Marketing up at night. Today, we’ll look at how digital marketing might look in the future and how companies need to build the skills necessary to compete in tomorrow’s digital marketing world.

There is no future for digital marketing

First, let’s get one thing straight. There is no future for digital marketing. Period.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we’ll always see marketing on digital and mobile platforms. In fact, I think companies who aren’t already on these platforms may be so far behind, they’ll never catch up–becoming the dinosaurs whose carcasses we’ll find in a distant future at the bottom of some metaphysical tar pit.

What I mean is that all marketing is now, and forever will be digital marketing. Or, at a minimum, digital-first marketing. And the implications of this statement are far-reaching; impacting the way we train and criterion we use in hiring and evaluating marketing professionals.

That’s because digital marketing turned traditional marketing on its head. All marketing now involves components we didn’t really incorporate sufficiently until we moved into the digital realm. And, that’s a post for another day.

Here are major aspects that moved from digital marketing to just plain marketing:

  1. Analytics. You can no longer run a marketing program with squishy numbers like awareness and produce new products based on what the engineers can do. You need cold, hard facts to back up marketing decisions.
  2. Faster timelines. Agile and lean have changed how we develop new products. The name of the game is to fail fast and move on rather than taking months or years to develop products that no longer (or never did) have a market. You also can’t let customer complaints stew, rely on slow means to address customer questions, or pipe in on major news. Customer service must be always on and ubiquitous and you need to adjust your messaging on the fly when outside events call for it. Pricing has to be dynamic, based on current conditions.
  3. Use social as a listening post even if you don’t market there. This is an important element in your sense and respond process.
  4. Personalized marketing.
  5. Customer experience management.

How can companies embrace the concept of no future for digital marketing?

  1. Marketing professionals require different training so look for the following skills when hiring marketing staff:
    • Excellent writing and editing skills
    • Analytics skills, including data visualization, SQL, Google Analytics, and Adobe or other analytic tools
    • Creativity and knowledge of design to create graphics, video, and other forms of content
    • Online computer skills such as HTML, CSS, etc.
  2. These enhanced skills require commensurate increases in salaries, a commitment to continuous training, and flatter structures that push decisions to creators rather than long approval processes.

What happens to traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing, especially the concepts that underpin traditional marketing will always exist and are expanding through the research of dedicated academics and practitioners who constantly push the envelope of our knowledge. That doesn’t mean we’ll always have a place for traditional advertising, which, despite decades of telling students that advertising is but one (minor) aspect of marketing, is how the average business person views marketing.

What is traditional marketing?

  • Consumers have always and will always go through a decision-making process influenced by peers, family, celebrities, etc. Understanding the circuitous (rather than linear) nature of that process and how influence, information, and recommendations guide it will always help marketers provide for more productive customer experiences that both make customers happy and translate into improvements in a company’s bottom line. That’s marketing.
  • Pricing is important not only as an economic reality of exchange but because it guides customers in their choices. Contrary to the economic theory of the “rational man”, customers never did and never will choose products solely based on which product boasts the lowest price. Instead, pricing has a complex impact on customer decisions that must be understood fully to optimize profitability. That’s marketing.
  • Producing high-quality products that consistently meet customer needs and innovating to produce products that meet customers’ future needs is critically important for firm success. Husbanding the firm’s resources and managing this process strategically and tactically is the difference between success and failure. That’s marketing.

And, I could go on, but you get the idea. The principles of marketing will never go away, although they might evolve and deepen over time.

How should companies embrace the reality of traditional marketing?

Hire marketing graduates.

There’s been a disturbing trend of hiring non-marketing students, because they’re cheaper, or quant folks, like engineers, because they can handle the analytics stuff. Neither of them knows a whit about marketing. Face it, marketing is a major because knowledge of marketing principles contributes value to an organization.

As educational institutions, that means we need to spend more time teaching APPLICATION of marketing principles and analytics.

Trends in digital (and mobile) marketing

Take a look at the graphic to look at the future for digital marketing. Here’s what you should see:

  • More money
  • More data and analysis
  • Faster information, ie. real-time analytics
  • More content and more varied forms of content
  • Better customer experiences and more loyalty
  • Better use of technology, such as bots, automation, and personalization tools

image courtesy of Brand Equity

How can companies embrace these trends?

You can’t get the skills necessary for digital marketing (or any type of marketing if you buy into my thesis that all marketing is digital), without a strong commitment to ongoing training, adequate compensation and motivational programs, and good management. Of course, none of this is really new.

Training students in the future for digital marketing

With the future for digital marketing–or simply marketing–gaining clarity, we need to think about how our marketing training should change to accomplish the goals of organizations of the future. As a marketing educator for over 20 years, here are my suggestions to administrators:

  • Incorporate analytics training. Most marketing majors take marketing research, which is important, but not sufficient for today’s complex analytical needs. Students need at least 1 additional course focusing on digital analytics/ data visualization. Supporting courses to learn SQL are also needed. Plus, each course should contain a substantial analytics component that requires students to apply analytical techniques on the subject matter.
  • More focus on application and depth of learning versus coverage of broad, superficial topics. Each class should involve doing, not (just) testing.
  • Emphasis on acquisition of technical skills such as HTML, SQL, R. proper use of analytics software, etc.
  • Develop design skills such as Indesign, Photoshop, Premier (Adobe) or similar tools plus theories of design.

Permalink

How to Write an Elevator Pitch

how to create an elevator pitch

How to Write an Elevator Pitch

A great elevator pitch’s only goal is to generate interest in a prospective buyer and turn a 30-second meeting into a 15 minutes sales call. This can literally be in an elevator (as originally designed) or a chance encounter at a coffee shop. Perfecting your elevator pitch is the key to closing those meetings into sales calls.

In 30 seconds your pitch should express 5 key pieces of information.

  • Name of yourself
  • Name of business
  • What you do/What results you create
  • 3 Typical benefits of working with you
  • End with a thought-provoking question

How we are going to do this is by first breaking your elevator pitch down formulaically. Once you fully understand the steps I will show you my secret formula for crafting that killer elevator pitch and give you an example.

Your name

Your name creates the first impression of your elevator pitch. We make judgments on how a situation will be resolved solely on a name. If you don’t believe me, call tech support for your credit card company. Chances are you will encounter someone from India with a heavy hard to understand accent with a fake name like Jonathan.

This is a bit culturally insensitive, I know, but this is the real world and I want to speak plainly with you.

I am not saying you should or should not change your name to win in business, that is insanity. It is just abundantly clear we judge others based on their name alone.

Pro tip: starting with your name in an elevator pitch also helps you set up the pitch with the right tone of voice. We all know our names and can say them proudly. Being firm, confident, and enthusiastic during your pitch will 100% affect the success or failure of your pitch. Start with your name, and be confident through the end of your 30-second pitch.

Your business name

Naming your business is almost one of the most important aspects of building your brand. It is the most recognizable feature of your business. One of the major keys to building a great business brand name is having something that is easy to say. If you can’t say your business name, what makes you think your prospective client will know how to say it?

Spend some time spitballing names, and trying them out.

What you do/What results you create

Here is where you get your prospect interested in what you have to offer. Your prospect doesn’t care what you do; they are only interested in what you can do for them. What results have you generated, what gives you credibility?

This is where you get to show off why you are awesome.

  • What sort of testimonials or results have you generated?
  • Do you save time, money or resources for your clients?
  • Have you made them money?
  • Are there any press mentions about you, your brand, or your business?

You only have 30 seconds and this is your one and only chance, don’t be humble.

Three benefits of working with you

Why do your clients come to you? What do they typically get as a benefit for working with you? Listing three benefits gives you an extra advantage. You have three opportunities to sell why you valuable.

This also helps you start to qualify if this prospect is right for you. If you solve their pain, they will let you know they are interested in learning more. If they are not the right fit, they will also let you know.

The best result is the prospect says “hey let’s talk further”, The second best result is “thanks, I am not interested.” At least you don’t have to waste your time anymore :).

End your pitch all with a thought-provoking question

Ending your pitch with a thought-provoking is a very cool psychological trick. When you ask a question, it engages the listener’s brain and the human brain always wants to answer questions. It gives us a sense of completion or resolution. This cool trick, mentally makes the listener think about your elevator pitch.

Now that you know the formulaic approach to an elevator pitch, let’s bring it all together.

Here is an example of powerful elevators pitch.

Hi, I am Austin Iuliano of d.science. I am a social media consultant that has helped my clients generate over $2,000,000 in revenue. Typically the clients I work with have a hard time breaking through the noise of social media, they don’t know how to grow their followings and attract the right community, and can’t seem to make the right content that goes viral. Do you know anyone who has these challenges?

The breakdown goes like this.

Austin Iuliano of d.science is my name and the business name, easy enough.

I am a social media consultant that has helped my clients generate over $2,000,000 in revenue. What I do, and what results I have accomplished.

Typically the clients I work with have a hard time s breaking through the noise of social media, they don’t know how to grow their followings and attract the right community, and can’t seem to make the right content that goes viral. Do you know anyone who has these challenges? These are three benefits of working with me and also very tangible and emotional benefits. Most people I encounter have one of these three things they need help with.

Do you know anyone who has these challenges? Thought provoking question. Asking this question has the listener either think “Hey I need that” or “I know someone who could use that…

And that is how it is done! BOOM!

Bring all these components together in your elevator pitch and you will be making more sales in no time. In 30 seconds you can get prospects interested in your offer and open for a meeting in no time.

The Follow Up

Let’s not kid ourselves here, there are more accounts then I can count where I have used this pitch and had people on the spot say “oh I need help with xyz.” That 30-second elevator pitch just turned into a 2-15 minute sales call. Are you ready for it, and do you know what you need to do?

As a quick breakdown, all sales calls I am trying to do X things.

  • Qualify the prospects interest level. Lots of people are interested, not a ton are ready to buy right now
  • Determine if the person has a budget that can afford my services.
  • Figure out if I am interested in the persons business and brand.
  • Figure out if I can actually help them, or if they will turn into a problem client.

If all the criteria line up, a quick 30-second elevator pitch can turn into a 15-minute chat at a coffee shop that turns into $$$. Practicing and perfecting an elevator pitch is, therefore, a revenue generating exercise. Practice your elevator pitch, and leave it in the comments.

Just make sure you have these five components

  • Name of yourself
  • Name of business
  • What you do/What results you create
  • 3 Typical benefits of working with you
  • End with a thought-provoking question

What is your elevator pitch? Let us know in the comments!

Permalink

Why Referral Program Design is More Important to Advocate Behavior Than You Think

Whether you’re trying to grow your customer base or boost revenues, referral marketing is an efficient and powerful tool to add to your customer acquisition arsenal.


But all too often, people quickly throw together a basic “give $10, save $10” referral offer and call it a day. Even though this is a reasonable starting point, these folks might be missing opportunities to attract customers and get their friends to act on the referral.

Successful referral programs are ones that are optimized and undergo regular testing to make sure there’s alignment between the structure and design of the reward.

Successful referral programs are ones that are optimized and undergo regular testing to make sure there’s alignment between the structure and design of the reward.

With these pieces working together, you set yourself up to attract easy wins and build an effective growth engine.

This is how to build referral programs that cater to your specific goals and get customers to respond the way you want them to.

Designing a framework to give your referral program direction

The way you structure your referral program depends on how you want to optimize it. Meaning, what you want to get out of it depends on how you design the offer. That’s why structure, combined with clear and concise goals, helps you to get customers to react and helps you make sure customer quality is where it should be. After all, friends of existing customers are your brand’s best customers.

So there’s no shortage of goals to choose from. Maybe you want to increase advocate share rates and friend conversions, or maybe you want to lower your customer acquisition costs (CAC). Maybe you’re already acquiring a ton of customers through referral, but you want to increase the average order value (AOV) of referred customers.

Whatever the case, it’s crucial that you align the structure of your rewards program to the broader goals of your referral strategy. Carefully designing a referral program allows you to exercise granular control over specific outcomes.

You can break down a reward program into three main component parts:

  • The reward to the friend
  • The reward to the advocate
  • The referral type. Instead of the “do this, get that” formula, use other types of rewards like account credits, loyalty programs, or gift cards.

Each of these works as a lever that helps you drive specific behaviors and reach key metrics. You can crank up one lever more than the others or dial them all up to get the outcome you want.

Here are a couple examples of how you can design referral to meet specific goals:

Lever Goal Reward Design
Reward to Friend Increase friend conversions Increase offered to friend
Lower CAC Implement a points system loyalty program
Reward to Advocate Increase # of referrals sent Increase reward compared to # of referrals
Increase referral follow-up rate Offer gift cards to increase conversions
Reward Type Increase loyalty signups Offer loyalty points

Referrals are about creating interactions between people — advocates and their friends — as much as anything else. You can optimize this interaction by playing around with the levers.

Let’s go a little deeper and look at how these levers have been used by popular brands.

Starbucks: Setting the standard for loyalty programs

[Source]

  • Reward to friend: A free drink of their choice
  • Reward to advocate: 60 stars towards their Starbucks Rewards
  • The referral type: The referral program is part of Starbucks’ loyalty program. The more points advocates collect, the more rewards they get. For example, more than 300 points pushes members to Gold member status where they get a personalized rewards card.

Starbucks introduced its loyalty program as a way to grow its business by getting people to buy more products. By all accounts, it’s worked out well for them. They have over 12 million active users in the US alone and have earned over $2.65 billion in revenue from the program.

Their primary goal is to get more people to use the loyalty program. Let’s face it, lots of people buy Starbucks coffee but think of how much more growth there’ll be when people are incentivized to buy through the loyalty program. By putting more focus on the “reward to advocate” lever, Starbucks has created a powerful way to grow its business.

By making the value to advocates higher — the more points they get, the more bonuses you get — Starbucks has been able to get advocates to share more and entice more casual customers to consider joining the loyalty program to reap the benefits.

DocuSign: Boosting advocate engagement with gift cards

[Source]

  • Reward to friend: Free 30 day trial and 10% off
  • Reward to advocate: $20 Amazon gift card
  • The referral type: To encourage people to share the service more, DocuSign uses gift cards for a popular brand that resonates with its customers.

With B2B SaaS, what works is giving advocates a relevant incentive to refer more people. For DocuSign, this centers around lowering their CAC and getting people using the product even deeper into the funnel they’ve created. Instead of offering advocates a discount or credit to future purchases, DocuSign offers them a gift card. It’s an effective way to keep CAC low and LTV high because their “reward to advocate” is fixed.

The “reward to friend” also helps with the CAC:LTV ratio because DocuSign can focus on acquiring customers at a predictable cost.

This approach puts the focus squarely on customer acquisition and getting people to try out the product. This is not a program designed to grow a loyalty program.

American Giant: Managing conversions with tailored rewards

[Source]

  • Reward to friend: 15% discount on their first purchase
  • Reward to advocate: Earn $15 when their referral makes a purchase
  • The referral type: For the advocate, this referral is a combination of accruing money and saving towards their next purchase.

American Giant’s referral program is a little different from others out there. It combines two reward types — a percentage discount with a store credit. This serves two purposes:

  • It hooks new customers who can save a max of 15% on everything they buy for the first time. This helps to build brand loyalty because they’ve created a customer experience that emphasizes the value that American Giant is known for, while also allowing these new customers to save.
  • It encourages advocates to share more but at a fixed expense. By offering an account credit, American Giant is basically capping its acquisition costs.

This is an excellent example of how to design a referral program for behavior. American Giant wants to get new customers to buy as much as possible while ensuring that advocates keep sharing. Both the “reward to friend” and the “reward to advocate” are cranked up to get these results.

This approach has worked really well for American Giant because they’ve reported that 10% of their online sales come from their referral program.

Getting started

Start by figuring out what your marketing goals are and then use your referral program to meet those goals. You don’t have to rely on standard programs to get there either.

Play around with the levers until you find a combination that gets you results. If you want to increase conversions, you have to focus on the reward to friend lever. If advocates are already in the habit of sharing, the more emphasis you put on the refer a friend lever, they more likely you are to increase conversions.

Get to know your customers because chances are their friends are similar. Use this information to create a referral program that resonates with potential new customers. Perhaps offer a free trial or increase the monetary reward to get referrals to take notice and do something.

Permalink

3 International Shipping Problems and How to Avoid Them

As more of the world’s population become digital buyers, opening your e-commerce store to cross-border selling proves to be a wise business move.

In fact, merchants’ attitudes toward cross-border e-commerce are increasingly positive. Payvision asked industry players from all over the world about their confidence in selling internationally online and 50 percent of respondents agreed that cross-border e-commerce is profitable.

That being said, it’s inevitable that issues may occur—but it shouldn’t deter you from taking your business global. Here’s how to solve those sticky international shipping problems you may come across.

Surprise shipping fees

Postal couriers, such as USPS, have simple pricing structures where you mostly pay for your shipping costs. Express couriers, such as UPS and FedEx, offer faster and more reliable services, but with a more complex pricing structure.

Becoming familiar with the common surcharges that express couriers have can help you avoid the feeling of sticker shock when you receive your monthly shipping bill.

Unavoidable surcharges

  • Fuel surcharge: Calculated as a percentage of the shipping costs, this varies weekly or monthly depending on the country. The price of gas can have a significant impact on your bills.
  • Remote area/extended area surcharge: Delivery addresses that are far from the usual collection path of the courier can incur this additional charge. You may want to tell your customers at checkout that extra shipping fees may apply for certain locations so they know what to expect.

Tips to avoid surcharges:

  • Failed deliveries: Express couriers can charge you for delivery re-attempts, address correction fees and return fees. Ensure you are collecting valid and accurate contact and address information from your customers at checkout.
  • DDP (Deliver Duty Paid) surcharge: Many express couriers are qualified customs brokers that can process customs duties for a fee. One option to avoid these additional charges is to choose the DDU option (Deliver Duty Unpaid).

However, if you choose the DDU option, your package will be delayed as customs needs to receive the duties payment before your shipment can be released. So using the DDP option could be better for your business because it reduces the chance of your shipment getting delayed in customs, which could cost you even more.

What to do when your shipment is stuck in customs

There are many reasons why a shipment might be stuck in customs, varying in severity from high (your goods are prohibited for import) to low (having the incorrect paperwork).

To get your parcel out of customs limbo, it’s best to do the following:

  • Contact your courier directly. As mentioned above, premium couriers can also be customs brokers, so they can figure out what the issue is and help clear your shipment.
  • Find out if outstanding taxes require payment. If your shipment has any unpaid duties, arrange payment as soon as possible to settle the balance.
  • Ensure there is no missing or incorrect paperwork. Provide any details, corrections or paperwork required by the customs official to process your shipment.

To help your shipments get through customs faster:

  • Ensure your product is not prohibited in your destination country. Research what’s allowed to be shipped. Easyship’s Countries page is a great resource to check.
  • Provide accurate customs values on your paperwork. Never under-declare the value of your items. Customs can confiscate your shipment if they suspect it’s more valuable than you claim, or it can take longer to process and turn into a worse situation.
  • Choose shipping solutions that provide good tracking. Premium solutions that offer frequent updates can alert you to the status of your package in customs so you can act quickly.

Handling international returns

Not going to lie: handling international returns is tricky.

Still, it may be worth considering. Sixty-six percent of online shoppers check an e-commerce site’s return policy before deciding on a purchase, which suggests that having a return policy will get you a higher conversion rate and a better chance of gaining a customer’s trust.

To simplify international returns:

  • Choose an express courier. This is basically for the same reasons: they are more reliable with tracking and have the ability to handle any customs issues.
  • Consider writing off the item. If the value of the item is less than the shipping cost, it might be better for you to just send a replacement free of charge instead.
  • Find a platform that can automate returns for you. Aftership Returns Center or Returnly can easily set up an automated returns process for your store.

To minimize the chance of returns:

  • Have clear photos and descriptions of your items. Taking pictures from multiple angles and having high-resolution photos will show customers exactly what they’re getting.
  • Pay attention during order fulfillment. If you are fulfilling orders yourself, double check that the orders are correct. If you are using a third-party fulfillment center, ensure they are trustworthy and accurate.
  • Start collecting data on why your items are getting returned. This can give you insights on how you can improve the quality, display, description or shipment procedure for your goods.

Permalink

The Importance of Personalization for Financial Services [Infographic]

personalization for financial services

Personalization is such a hot topic in the world of marketing these days. But personalization isn’t just another marketing buzzword — it’s a critical strategy for delivering a better experience for prospects and customers. Every person that visits your site, uses your app, views your emails, calls your call centers, or visits your branch is unique. Each person is looking to accomplish her own goals and has her own interests.

Currently, a personalized experience is often seen as a competitive advantage in the financial services industry, and a way to increase customer loyalty. But with advancements in machine learning, real-time processing and big data, personalized experiences are becoming increasingly common. And as consumers experience more and more personalization, they are expecting it from all businesses they interact with. In the not-so-distant future, personalization will become table stakes for marketers across all industries.

We created this infographic with industry statistics to demonstrate why personalization is an imperative for the financial services and insurance industries, and to explain why those industries still have work to do.



Financial institutions (FIs) estimate that if they could successfully offer customers an individualized experience, they would earn an additional 14% in annual revenue. And 79% of FIs consider it “very” or “extremely” important to deliver guidance to customers in real time. Clearly, FIs recognize the value of personalization. One of the key ways that marketers across industries provide personalized experiences is with machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence (AI). Half of all banking providers believe artificial intelligence will have a significant impact on their business model going forward.

At the same time, customers are experiencing personalization from companies in other industries and are beginning to demand those same types of experiences from FIs. Two in five millennials feel that the offers they receive from their banks are not personalized, and 40% of consumers say that a personalized service would change their loyalty to their bank.

Although FIs recognize the importance of personalization and the consumer demand for it, there is still work to do. Roughly 40% of all but the very largest financial institutions consider themselves “static” — which means they offer no personalization. The top two reasons cited by FIs for why they cannot effectively leverage big data to deliver better experiences are 1) data is too distributed and 2) there is a shortage of talent to analyze the data.

The good news is that 74% of banking providers believe that partnering with third parties will be the best way for them to access machine-learning technologies. To learn how Evergage can be that third party, request a demo today. And for more detail on the importance of personalization and some great examples of how financial services and insurance companies can leverage personalization, download our latest eBook, The Personalization Imperative: Insights and Examples for Financial Services & Insurance, today.