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Posts by Mark Kilens

Create a Unique Experience for Your Website Visitors

create a unique experience for your website visitorsYour company’s website is usually the first impression a visitor will get of your business. The website must grab and keep their attention. From the first point of contact, you should strive to create unique content and messages that focus on what visitors need and want. The first step in creating a unique experience is collecting data about your visitors.

Two easy ways to collect visitor data is through Web forms and email newsletters. A more challenging method is by requiring them to create a unique username and password in order to access the content on your site. I’ll discuss this in a separate, upcoming blog post.

When a visitor subscribes to your email newsletter, you should ask them simple, close-ended questions. Use checkboxes and rating scales to determine what the want to receive, what they need, their interest levels, and how frequently they want to be communicated with.

Web forms and their corresponding thank you pages are also a simple way to collect data from your visitors. Collect data on what they downloaded, how many times they visited your website, what web forms they completed, and other short questions that would be valuable to you.

First, use a very basic web form to get them to download your content. Ask for their name, email, and maybe one other piece of information. However, the thank you page with another call-to-action (CTA) and offer is extremely important. The CTA could be a simple form asking them if they would like to sign up for your newsletter or what types of content they would like to receive. It could be another piece of related content with a form asking what their impressions are about your site or content. Think outside the box because this is the best opportunity to learn about your visitors and create a personal experience.

Once you have collected data, use it to create content, emails and web pages that align with your visitors. I would start by putting the visitors into different groups. Enable web cookies to remember your visitors and tailor your CTAs, offers and copy to. Use emails and social media channels to communicate and stay relevant with your visitors. It probably will require you to create multiple web pages and emails, but your customers and potential customers will be much more likely to keep coming back to your website.

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create a unique experience for your website visitors

Create a Unique Experience for Your Website Visitors

Photo by: cygnus921

Listening: the Doorway to the Future

Listening the Doorway to the FutureCustomer service can be argued as one of the most important responsibilities of marketing. It can either be a company’s best friend or it’s worst enemy. People talk about their experience with products through hundreds of platforms and companies need to be listening and responding to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Listen During The Sales Cycle

Why stop listening after the sale is closed? Listening is the most important part of retaining a customer for the long-haul. Failing to effectively listen and communicate what they need can create a disconnect between the customer base, brand, and company. Companies should invest in technologies that will make them better listeners and create better experiences for their customers. Josh Catone stated, “One of the most useful ways that startups are employing social media is for customer service.”

Benefits of Listening

Listening can: create new products, uncover business opportunities, find product problems, ideas for content, blog topics. Listening is the catalyst for determining what direction a business should take. Listening is the easiest way to create a customer experience that makes customers return again and again.

In today’s world, companies can’t afford to do just what it takes to satisfy their customers. They will see fast enough if a company doesn’t genuinely care, and will jump ship. Companies have tools like HootSuite and Radian6 that enable them to better understand how they can serve their customers.

Your Community is Your Direction

User generated content should be the core part of a content strategy. Respond to what people are saying and provide them what they’re asking for. I have a friend who is starting his own photography business and is starting by simply listening to what pictures people need and want. He’s creating his product and answering their problem both by listening. This skill was taught to us in grammar school, but doesn’t come easy. Most people aren’t great listeners, and I try to practice better listening everyday. As you become a better listener, you learn to better respond to what you hear.

Your Marketing Strategy: Listening & Responding

Every company’s social media plan should revolve around listening, responding and optimizing their content and messages. Get down to human basics and don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Listening and responding will create customer and brand advocates that are very faithful. In return, providing you with the best form of marketing, word-of-mouth.

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Listening the Doorway to the Future

Listening the Doorway to the Future

Photo by: Kevin T. Davis

Landing Page Forms: What to Ask and How to Respond

Your website is the most important part of your inbound marketing or social media strategy. It must be optimized for SEO principles so people can find the site, it must have content that pulls people into the site, and it must have ways where those people can leave their information so you can contact them in the future.

All must align and be easy to find, understand and receive. The website form is critical to having people convert from a visitor to a customer. Web forms can’t ask for too much information, but they need to ask for enough and instill confidence in the visitor that their information will be used appropriately.

A great web form is short, understandable, and delivers what’s promised after filling out the form. The following is a list of techniques you can use with website forms

  1. Must have a clear reason or call-to-action to why they should fill out the form
  2. Design them so they’re easy to understand and find
  3. Ask for just enough information so you can qualify them as a potential customer or existing customer
  4. Explain to them how their email address or phone number will be used
  5. Don’t sign them up for an email newsletter unless the opt-in
  6. Don’t bait and switch, promising one thing and giving them something else
  7. Test website forms to find the right balance of questions
  8. Respond swiftly, if appropriate, for good customer service and to seize the opportunity for a sale

By applying these principles you’ll get more high-quality web leads. This way you’ll spend less time trying to find customers and instead they’ll find you. You should have a plan that describes how to handle each lead so you can follow-up appropriately. The follow-up should be executed quickly and strategically so you can get the maximum value from the lead.

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Landing Page Forms What to Ask and How to Respond

Landing Page Forms What to Ask and How to Respond

What Marketers Can Learn From Apple

What Marketers Can Learn From AppleConsistency and quality are the two most important things for product, marketing, customer service, and profit. This is very hard to achieve and requires amazing people, technology and a revolutionary vision. Apple has done all three of these things extremely well over the past 10 years and they’re continuously increasing and exceeding people’s expectations. The funny thing is Apple is not a very transparent company. They don’t disclose many things and their employees must follow strict policies, yet, that adds to the marketing machine that is Apple. Because of their secrecy people want to dig deeper and investigate further.

In the age of information super highway, Apple has created a consistent brand image, name, and engineers innovative products that are the revolutionary. Their products create enormous buzz (word-of-mouth) marketing and sets everyone’s expectations very high. They create the products with high-quality materials and software that is easy to use and understand. By doing this, they restrict things that other platforms allow; one of the most talked about is Flash. In order to create a great experience, Apple engineers their products to different standards than mainstream products.

It’s very important, but also difficult, to create a consistent experience, one that exceeds people’s expectations and leaves them wanting more. It takes content, deliverability, and consistency to create a truly revolutionary experience. Apple has achieved with their products, service experience and deliverability. I used to be a campus rep when I went to UNH and they were in midst of launching color and flash-based iPods, and transitioning from IBM processors to Intel processors. It was a very important time for the company. They were releasing the most innovate products at the time with the most advanced technology available.

Jobs then took the company to the next level by creating a product that changed the game of an industry that has tremendous room to grow. The mobile industry has just started to catch-up to the computer and the marketing revolution. Apple doesn’t and won’t appeal to everyone. They’re trying to create products that are easy-to-use, that have great customer service, and aren’t expensive (debatable). Every marketer should apply those same principles to their inbound marketing strategy.

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What Marketers Can Learn From Apple

What Marketers Can Learn From Apple

The Inbound Marketing Maze

the inbound marketing mazeWhere should you spend your time trying to target and interact in the millions of conversations going on? There’s no simple answer to that question and it varies on dozens of factors. Factors that I’m still trying to figure out. Keyword searches is an easy way to determine where you need to be communicating and sharing content. So you find hundreds of places where you can could comment, share, or optimize to get the right people to start listening and responding to you. Again, now what?

Now you need to pick no more than five places where you should start to engage and share content. Your web site would be one of those places and SEO is the way to optimize it. The other places vary from company to company. Another place that every business should be part of is either Facebook and/or LinkedIn depending on it’s industry and if it’s a B2C or B2B company.

Other places can include blogs, photo sharing web sites, micro-blogging sites, directories, location-based sites, mobile platforms, the thousands of other places. I started with LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs and a small amount of Facebook. I actually deleted my Facebook account after college and boycotted it until I started learning about inbound marketing and how it has changed marketing. I only use it for personal reasons and when I do, I primarily use it to send someone a quick message, share something I like or share one of my blog posts.

My favorite out of those four is definitely blogs because they can have so many different personalities. Twitter helps me find the blogs and LinkedIn helps answer my questions and connect me with people and groups. Those are some of the most common places to start engaging and sharing. How did you start engaging with social media platforms?

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What Marketers Can Learn From Apple

What Marketers Can Learn From Apple

Photo by: Pierre Lesage