Gap Found Between Customer Expectations And Reality 04/26/2017

Mobile To Give Live Streaming, Video Targeting A Boost 02/08/2017

Video will have the highest growth rate of any mobile application, representing 78% of all mobile traffic, while live video will represent 5% of total mobile video traffic by 2021, according to
Cisco data released this week.

The findings in Cisco’s 11th annual Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (2016 to
suggests that by 2021, more members of the global population will use mobile phones — 5.5 billion — than have bank accounts at 5.4 billion, running water at 5.3 billion or landlines at 2.9

In fact, mobile will represent 20% of the total IP traffic globally, up from 8% in 2016.

Sensors and triggers will support ad targeting with machine-to-machine (M2M)
connections and the growth of Internet-connected devices representing 29% or 3.3 billion of total mobile connections, up from 5% or 780 million in 2016.



Live streams and mobile video makes the
connection with other media such as television more compelling. Since mobile is location-sensitive, advertisers are learning that combining the small screen with larger screens to target specific
messages provides a higher return on ad spend.

“We’re currently seeing lots of cross-platform campaigns where TV delivers the branding part of the campaign, with follow-up on mobile,
driving a call to action,” according to the recently published report.

Mobile could become the catalyst to increase linear TV ad spend based on behavior. Videology has seen a 273% increase in
spending on linear TV advertising campaigns and an 840% increase in the number of linear TV impressions available to be bought and sold programmatically.

In December 2016, Videology reported
survey results where agency advertisers cited behavioral-based targeting such as lifestyles and preferences as one of the most popular methods of targeting — used by 67% –to reach consumers when
running digital video campaigns.

While the advertising market for live streaming remains nascent, Landin King, communications lead at Videology, explains in an email that marketers can apply
first-party data to running ads in mobile video. “For instance, if someone was watching a CNN clip on their mobile phone and an ad came up— data about the viewer would be used to inform what
kind of ad was shown,” he wrote.

The data also tie mobile video ads to TV ads and vice versa, which is done through an integration with Nielsen, he explains.

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3 ways technology can boost CX while keeping costs under control – even during challenging times

3 ways technology can boost CX while keeping costs under control – even during challenging times

30-second summary:

  • With an industry so dependent on reviews and word of mouth recommendations, customer service and experiences are the foundation of the travel industries.
  • By leveraging AI and machine learning, companies can sift through data and extract trends to find improvement areas, identify blind spots and make a course correction on the most common customer complaints.
  • With voice-enabled AI solutions, businesses can better understand the nuances of each customer interaction by identifying the true intent of each call through the real-time analysis of emotions and stated needs versus implicit needs.
  • Because automation helps call centers and agents be more efficient, call handling times drop, leading to cost savings for the enterprise.
  • In using AI, managers can monitor customer service performance and provide key metrics to help agents improve, ultimately enhancing the overall experience for each individual customer.
  • The better you’re able to understand your customers, predict their needs and effectively solve their problems, the more willing your customers will be to write a positive review after they change or cancel their plans.

The travel industry is overwhelmed. As the coronavirus continues spreading around the globe, thousands of customers are calling hotels and airlines to cancel or change plans based on highly variable and unpredictable changes – and as a result, millions of travel-related jobs will be lost.

With an industry so dependent on reviews and word of mouth recommendations, customer service and experiences are the foundation of the travel industries.

Yet, we’re facing unprecedented times, and every customer is different. Each individual is having to make dramatic, sometimes emotional decisions about their plans for the year.

So, those in the industry must ask: How do you efficiently and effectively deliver more human experiences, especially during increasingly serious and stressful times?

As the CEO of Uniphore, I absolutely know that implementing the right technology is the answer – even if technology seems counterintuitive when trying to build human experiences.

Here are three ways you can weave technology into your service strategy to ensure every single customer has the best experience possible during this pandemic – and that your enterprise is saving money:

1) Tap into your existing troves of data to better understand blind spots

Many hospitality businesses – especially hotels and restaurants – are sitting on stockpiles of customer data. Records of everything from reservations to supply inventory to years-old satisfaction surveys can tell you about customer needs. More importantly, they can tell you where you are falling short.

By leveraging AI and machine learning, companies can sift through data and extract trends to find improvement areas, identify blind spots and make a course correction on the most common customer complaints.

For example, posing the most common discoveries as FAQs at the time of a hotel booking can better inform customers while providing better customer service.

Businesses can also use customer data to build FAQ pages on their website for customers who may not have the time to call and sort through the nitty-gritty details.

This means you’ll be able to meet customers where they’re at while saving them time and energy. Businesses can also use data to improve agent performance during the deluge of cancelations and changes and foster career growth. It’s a no brainer.

2) Use technology to learn how to “read” your customers’ minds

It can be surprisingly difficult to get to the root of a customer’s service problem – especially if the customer doesn’t actually know what it is or can’t describe it to representatives over the phone.

With voice-enabled AI solutions, businesses can better understand the nuances of each customer interaction by identifying the true intent of each call through the real-time analysis of emotions and stated needs versus implicit needs.

So, as a person speaks and describes their issue, digital agents behind the scenes parse through their words and tone to determine the best recommendation in the quickest possible way.

Voice AI can also analyze recorded phone calls and use automated agents to pull from previous and real-time customer data. These technology-enabled assistants will likely be able to help companies spot underlying questions before a customer can even articulate their needs themselves.

As a result, your agents will become mind readers, answering customer questions before they are left with a non-refundable flight or excursion to deal with.

3) Use technology to boost employee performance and productivity – and save money

In the end, your employees are your best customer experience ambassadors – even those who are not in traditional customer service or customer-facing roles.

For example, technology can reduce time-consuming, redundant tasks, such as changing a check-out date, and free up employees’ time to help with more complicated inquiries, like personalized recommendations or activities.

Your employees will feel more empowered and be able to relate to each customer in a real human way – and customers will see agents as truly helping them solve issues.

I like to paint this picture: I imagine a call center where agents don’t have to use a keyboard or a mouse. They can actually listen to the customer while technology takes care of all the paperwork.

Think how much better customer service would be if employees actually listened – and imagine how much more fulfilled customer service agents would be. It’s a win-win for all parties.

This will also lead to severe cost savings. Because automation helps call centers and agents be more efficient, call handling times drop, leading to cost savings for the enterprise.

AI and automation also save time and allow agents to take on more calls as a result. During peak travel season, call centers won’t need to hire and train seasonal agents to handle the influx of calls – automation’s boost in efficiency will take care of the increase.

Implementing the right voice-enabled software can be daunting. But those in senior customer service roles – who may no longer actually be dealing with customers on a daily basis themselves – should use AI to mentor and coach representatives.

In using AI, managers can monitor customer service performance and provide key metrics to help agents improve, ultimately enhancing the overall experience for each individual customer.

Final thoughts

The better you’re able to understand your customers, predict their needs and effectively solve their problems, the more willing your customers will be to write a positive review after they change or cancel their plans.

In a world where one viral comment can make or break your business’s reputation, having an AI- and data-infused customer experience strategy is critical.

Umesh Sachdev, Co-founder, and CEO of Uniphore, is a modern-day entrepreneur with a passion for technologies that have massive societal impact. He co-founded Uniphore with Ravi Saraogi to bridge the communication gap between man and machine using voice and speech. Umesh was globally recognized in 2016 as one of the ten ‘Next Generation Leaders’ by Time Magazine. He has been conferred with the title of ‘Innovative Entrepreneur’ by the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Technopreneur Promotion Programme (TePP).

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Amazon’s ad revenue defies coronavirus crunch with 40% boost to $3.9bn

Amazon’s ad revenue defies coronavirus crunch with 40% boost to $3.9bn

Many ad companies and traditional media owners are braced for painful contractions as coronavirus brings marketing spend to a halt. However, Amazon’s ad business has emerged as a bright spot in the company’s Q1 financial update despite belt-tightening from brands in other areas.

The e-commerce giant disclosed on Thursday (30 April) that its ‘other’ division (which chiefly comprises revenues from its advertising arm) had seen a gain of 44% over the past three months to reach $3.9bn. Though Amazon doesn’t break out its ad revenue figures, chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky told investors that the Q1 ad growth rate was in line with Q4 2019, when he disclosed that it grew at a 40% clip.

The trajectory outstripped the growth of its more established offerings like online sales (24%), subscription services (28%) and Amazon Web Services (33%).

Overall, Amazon’s total earnings for the first three months of the year showed the retailer to have been an early winner of the global pandemic. The behemoth pulled in the equivalent of $33m an hour, with revenues clocking in at $75.4 bn between January and March.

Amazon’s Q1 profit was $2.5bn, down from $3.6bn on the same period last year, and Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos cautioned that this would dip further in light of Covid-19-related spend.

Bezos cautioned that despite soaring revenues, shareholders should “take a seat” because the company planned to spend $4bn or more in the next three months on coronavirus-related expenses – such as getting products to customers and keeping employees safe.

“This includes investments in personal protective equipment (PPE), enhanced cleaning of our facilities, less efficient process paths that better allow for effective social distancing, higher wages for hourly teams, and hundreds of millions to develop our own Covid-19 testing capabilities,” he explained.

This $4bn spend from Bezos will be equal to Amazon’s entire profit for Q2, a reality which caused Amazon’s shares to plummet immediately after.

Amazon’s director of investor relations Dave Files said it had seen “some impact” from advertisers belt-tightening as a result of Covid-19.

“In March, [we saw] some pullback from advertisers and some downward pressure on price, but how but advertising continues to advertise at a high cliff,” he said.

“It wasn’t as noticeable maybe as with what some others are seeing, and it’s probably offset a bit by the continued strong traffic we have to the site. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag. We have again, as I said, downward pressure a bit on pricing.

He also noted that a “large portion” of the firm’s advertising related to Amazon sales, “not [to] things like travel and auto” – sectors which have been disproportionately impacted by coronavirus.

“Our advertising will prove to be very efficient as well,” he assured investors. “And it can be directly measured. So even as people are cutting back perhaps on advertising, or are their costs, I think this will be one area that will prove its value. It has in the past.”

Amazon’s boom in business comes as platforms and media owners look for ways to stave off the impact of coronavirus on their ad revenues.

For its part, Facebook posted a rise in revenue and profit in the first quarter of 2020, but cautioned its advertising business could be impacted by the ongoing situation.

In the UK, broadcasters like Channel 4 and ITV have predicted their ad sales could decline by as much as 50%.

Advertisers have had mixed responses, with Coca-Cola putting the brakes on all marketing spend while P&G has pledged to ramp up its investment.

The most recent Bellwether report from the Institute for Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) revealed that UK ad spend had hit its lowest ebb since the 2009 financial crash.

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Facebook Looks to Boost Transparency on High-Reach Pages, Instagram Accounts – Adweek

Facebook Looks to Boost Transparency on High-Reach Pages, Instagram Accounts – Adweek

Facebook will begin providing information on the location of high-reach pages and Instagram accounts on every post they share in an effort to boost transparency measures prior to November’s presidential election in the U.S. and similar events in other countries.

Facebook product manager Anita Joseph and Instagram product manager Georgina Sheedy-Collier said in a Newsroom post that the initiative will begin with Facebook pages and Instagram accounts that are based outside of the U.S. but have large audiences that are primarily based in the U.S.



They added that the company is exploring ways to extend these transparency measures further.

Joseph and Sheedy-Collier wrote, “We want to make sure people use our services authentically and can understand who is behind the posts they’re seeing. This is particularly important when it comes to elections, so we’re taking extra steps to make pages and accounts with large audiences more transparent … These changes are part of our broader efforts to protect elections and increase transparency on Facebook and Instagram so people can make more informed decisions about the posts they read, trust and share.”

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How to Use Images to Boost Conversion Rate in 2018

How to Use Images to Boost Conversion Rate in 2018

The right image can make or break your site.

People remember more than 2,000 pictures with at least 90% accuracy. That means it only takes one good image to cement your brand in their mind forever.

That’s why my website design team spends so much time picking the right image for our clients.

Not only does it make your brand unforgettable, it’ll also boost your conversion rates.

How to Use Images to Boost Conversion Rate in 2018

So how exactly can an image help you reach those conversion goals that you have planned for your website?

First, let us quickly go through what conversion rate means for a website.

It is the ratio of the number of visitors who have completed the desired goal on the website, (could be buying the product or services, contacting or may be subscribing for a newsletter) and total visitors who visited the site.

t’d be legit to say that the conversion rate is the mission of creating a website. The essence of conversion is quite simple.

Create an unforgettable experience for the users.

Now there are more than one ways of creating an unforgettable experience when the visitors come to your website. Some of the most popular being seamless navigation, fast loading pages and compelling buttons and images.

It is imperative to obtain this perfect blend to encourage the visitors to consume your content the way you want them to and eventually influence their decision-making.

Without much ado, here are 8 ways to boost your website conversion rate using images:

Picking the Image

Looking for images and shortlisting is not the tricky part. What is tricky is doing the research before that. When you pick an image, you are actually picking an emotion. An emotion that is accepted and taken well by your target audience.

Your understanding of the target audience comes into play here. The gender, age, interests etc. of your target audience will determine the emotion of the image you will pick.

For example, if your target audience is aspiring entrepreneurs, you need to choose colors that are appealing to the age group 25-40. You need to show strength, ambition, motivation and creativity. Something like this:

Images have the power to create an emotional connect. Thus, pick the right images and hit the nail right on the spot.

No Compromises on Quality

It is important to understand that the page where the user lands, that is the landing page of your website, is the first look of your product. Therefore, the right balance should be struck when it comes to image size.

A very big image or a very small image can possibly annoy the visitor and negatively affect the brand impression. Based on my knowledge, experience and the number of website development projects I have handled, the following image sizes give the best look on your website:

Banner Image: 2000px wide and 800px long
Slider: 1920 px wide and 890 px long
Icon: 300px wide and 300px long
Post/ Event: 425 px wide and 220 px long
Portfolio: 1920px wide and 768px long
Blog: Images in the blog vary as per the content area. The width should be equal to the area of the content and the height anywhere between 400-500px.

Needless to say that pictures should be HD. The image quality also plays a very important role in forming an impression on the mind of the visitors. Here is an example from a website that has low quality images.

The quality of image shows how serious a brand is about its reputation. Low-quality images equal non-professionalism and non-seriousness. You can fail at the very first step of gaining the trust of the visitors.

Never Lose Context

If mere showing the product off could get you conversions, why would big brands spend so much on models?

The images without context are like words without emotions. Until you are not able to take the visitor on a nostalgic or fantasy journey where he can visualize himself using your product, you just cannot expect him to buy it.
An image with faces, be it a stock photo, a celebrity photo or your own photo, increases your credibility and psychologically assures your visitors that you are not hiding something.

Even the website eye tracking studies reveal that users ‘Users fixate on those elements on the page that are relevant for their task’.

It means if the visitors come to your website looking for a dress, they would definitely connect better with a model wearing a dress instead of a photo with the dress on a rack or a hanger. By focusing on this parameter, you can control the way the user looks at the images.

Prefer images that focus on people using the product or images that have people in the background. This gives the images a realistic touch. Remember, 2018 is all about humanizing your brand whichever way possible.

Be Particular About the Focus

This has made the work even more challenging. Human brain has an ability to decipher the whole image just by understanding what a portion of the image is about. Putting it in simpler terms, our brain focuses on small portions of the image at a time to get the hang of the emotion hidden beneath it.

This is the reason why it is advised not to bombard your landing page with multiple images and focus on a single, effective image. Your message will be delivered most powerfully when you will not confuse the brain with too many ideas and images.

An image should have one and only one focal point. When the visitor sees the picture, his eyes should stop right on the focal point and rest everything should become faded in the back of his mind.

See the image above. The image of Nestle Cheerios on the right-hand side of the webpage is mesmerizing. If you pay close attention, the bowl of milk has the right portion of Cheerios in it, enough that the focus still remains on the Cheerios and not the milk or the bowl.

Once the user sees the images of your products, it is your responsibility to drag their focus on the product and make unimportant details disappear!

So choose wisely on which aspect of the image you want to grab the user’s attention to and then amplify that aspect using zooming, highlighting or using the line of sight technique where the images point in the direction of text or object that the user is supposed to see.

A Responsive Image

When we talk about responsive web design, it means adaptable layouts or liquid layouts that smoothly flow and fit different screens of the users. It has the ability to detect the users’ screen orientation and change layouts accordingly.
While selecting images for your website, ensure they have the same characteristics. Always test the image on your mobile screen to make sure that it doesn’t get distorted.
Check if the images that you have chosen fit screens of all sizes. With 80% of internet users having a smart phone, of internet users having a smartphone, it is very likely that your website is viewed on a mobile instead of a desktop. So when you pick images for your website, make sure they fit all screens and are equally effective.

It’s wise if you pick image according to mobile size as that will resize easily on the website.

Also, with 91% of social media users are accessing social channels via mobile images should be resized keeping in mind various social media platforms.

Here are the standard image sizes of the posts on various social media:

Facebook: 1200 x 900 pixels
Instagram: 1080 x 1080 pixels
Twitter: 506 x 253 pixels
Pinterest: Width of 238 pixels
Snapchat: 1080 x 1920 pixels
LinkedIn: Width of 350 pixels

Multiple Angles

Speculation and contemplation is a collective psyche of consumers while buying a product. This process gets even more prolonged even more time when the product they are buying is expensive and holds much importance for them. Being in that state, it is natural to not settle for the first thing that they see.

To this psyche, it is necessary to depict a detailed version of your product. Include maximum features in the product image and as many close-ups as possible. If you are offering a product having intricate details, zoom in feature on the image enhances the user experience fourfold and increases reliability.

Include different angles of the product images to help your users gain correct perspective of the product. Include different focus, angle and details in every image you add.

This how multiple angles of Sennheiser headphones give the customers a clarity on what they will be getting once they order it.

This enables the users to get a better judgement about your product and deepens the faith in the mind of the visitors.The more clarity the visitor has about the product, the more trust is built around the brand.

Connect With a Mascot

This is another way of building emotional connect with your target audience. A mascot can be animal, person or an object.

Don’t you all recall cute little the moment you think of Hootsuite?

It should not be confused with a logo which is strictly meant for branding purposes. A mascot also gives a friendly and warm feeling and leaves a long-lasting impression.

Apart from that the look and feel of a mascot is fun and approachable which helps the company to build those vibes. This especially works wonders for small business owners wherein a mascot helps them to win a brand recall from the visitors.

If you’re convinced that your brand needs a mascot (believe me, it does!), the next process is selecting which mascot fits the best for conversions.

There are two aspects of creating a mascot for the brand.

  • You can create a mascot that is the personification of your brand. This involves using the emotions that fit your brand. If it is modern, casual, fun-loving etc., the colors and the mood of the mascot will be set according to what personality your website wants to wear.
  • You can also create a mascot that is the personification of the customer’s persona. This rolls mainly on visitor’s emotions. All that time that you spent researching your target audience and defining user personas pays off here.
  • Your mascot with personality traits of your users can evoke a feeling of nostalgia and relatability.

Here are some of the most memorable mascots that are standing out from the competition.

So decide how you want to approach your visitors and create that indelible impact that you’d been dreaming of.

Be Creative with Stock Photos

Often it is prescribed not to use pictures from stock photos and give more preference to professionally clicked photographs because of the redundancy that the stock photos have today.

However, I have a slightly different take on this. Professionally clicked photos are all good, but what if you want to save some time and bills on that?

You can use stock photos for your website after retouching and tailoring keeping few points in mind. The challenge always remains in how you do the retouch.

There are some critical points that you need to keep in mind while choosing the stock images for your website:

Never use images that are generic without adding text. Stock images without text look so offbeat and boring and out of context. Why would you want to bore your visitors?

Give the stock photo a tinge of your brand. You can use your brand specific colors on these images or even use your logo. This transforms a regular stock photo into your brand specific photo.

Change the focus of the stock photo to use only those components that are essential to your content. You don’t have to use the whole photo, be creative and change your focus. Zoom into parts of the image that holds weight as per your content.

Check out the image below:

If that image were to be used for website development services, it would not hold much weight on a visitor’s mind as the focus of the image is somewhat unclear.

Now check out this image:

Here, I zoomed in the laptop, threw some light on the image, and made my message quite conspicuous that I am offering website development services.

Use tools like Canva for these retouches and editing and you will successfully be able to use stock images to your benefit without looking redundant and boring.


A website is like your online store that is open 24×7. It is the cheapest and the easiest way to put your product out there.

That is why 55% of the inbound marketers consider growing company’s website as their topmost priority.

Website conversion rates don’t happen overnight, you need to work hard and keep testing to stumble upon that perfect formula that works for your audience.

Even though every business has its own unique formula, the ingredients remain the same. It’s just the matter of ratios.

About the Author: Uzair is the VP, Sales & Marketing at Enterprise Monkey; an Australia based website and app development company which helps Small-to-Medium Enterprises, Large Enterprises and Startups increase their productivity and profitability. Uzair possesses a comprehensive experience in B2B and B2C marketing. Pursuing his vision to help Small and Medium Enterprises, he has successfully helped many such organizations increase their revenue and efficiency.

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Find influencers, create campaigns, boost awareness in one easy-to-use platform from Intellifluence

Find influencers, create campaigns, boost awareness in one easy-to-use platform from Intellifluence

Intellifluence is an affordable, end-to-end influencer marketing platform that helps you create campaigns, select influencers, send outreach, and manage payments.

On this webinar, we sit down with the team from Intellifluence to show you how their platform allows you to create influencer marketing campaigns that meet your specific goals, manage the entire process–from messaging to payment–in one easy-to use platform, and even invite qualified influencers to apply to your campaigns and pitch possible candidates to find the right fit.

This tool is available for a limited time at


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Advanced Google My Business Maps 2020 BOOST Your Local SEO | Brock Misner

Advanced Google My Business Maps 2020 BOOST Your Local SEO | Brock Misner

Do you want to DOMINATE your business in your local area? Stop your competitors from stealing your customers! We can implement this strategy and much more! Schedule a call or email me directly below:
[email protected]

This is a tutorial on how to create Google My Business My Maps that will drastically impact your local SEO, as well as boost your rankings with your GMB. Google my business is one of your best assets as a business owner. GMB drives web traffic, calls, and driving directions to your place of business.
What Is Google Maps Marketing?
In a nutshell, Google Maps marketing is the process of using Google Maps’ functionality to make your business easier to find. Although this can be very useful (and expected) for large companies, it’s even more indispensable for smaller businesses. However, Google Maps marketing isn’t just about visibility – it’s about positioning, and not just that of your store. If used correctly (and strategically), Google Maps can play an important part in your digital marketing strategy.

What’s the Point of Google Maps Marketing?
The ultimate objective of Google Maps marketing is to achieve as high a placement as possible in the local business results listings on the Google Maps results on relevant Google search engine results pages. Let’s take a look at what this means.

Proximity Based Google Maps Results
The first type of Google Maps listing is that based on your physical location. With mobile search volume increasing, this type of search (and Google Maps result) is becoming much more common. If you’ve ever performed a search for a specific type of business from your mobile device, you’ll almost undoubtedly have come across a google my business listing.

Join the BEST Facebook Group for Digital Marketing here:


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5 Essential Social Media Tools to Boost Your Profile

5 Essential Social Media Tools to Boost Your Profile

Expelliarmus! shouts Harry Potter and the dark wizard loses his wand. Heroes of the fantasy world are incomplete without their tools: Thor’s Hammer, Captain America’s Shield, Iron Man’s suit, and let’s not forget the most tool dependent superhero of them all, Batman.

You don’t need to save the world from the apocalyptic intentions of villains, but you do need tools to save yourself — from the avalanche of strict deadlines, and monotonous tasks. We aren’t talking about hammers, axes, or shovels, we’re talking about the modern war for attention that takes place on social media.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of social media tools that will help you survive. The criteria for the list? The tool has to be versatile enough to be used by both a freelancer just starting out in social, and also by an experienced digital media agency team. It also needs to be simple enough to use for a non-technical person. Finally there are brownie points for being fully functional on a smartphone.


1. Buffer Publish

TLDR: A social media publishing application with enough power to suit almost everyone’e needs. Comes with a free plan.

The Achilles heel for modern social media platforms remains their media guidelines. Instagram leans towards square dimensions for photos, while Facebook uses the cover layout for photos, and Twitter…well, that’s another story.

The predicament continues with posting times. While you may want your post to stay relevant throughout the day, in reality, it will be lost in the sea of opinions in just a few moments. Your Instagram posts may stay pertinent for longer, but you won’t be able to hang on to that for long either. How does one battle through these intricacies and still come up on top? You add a social media management application to your arsenal.

The ability to tailor media and descriptions for the same post but for different platforms is awesome

We’ve tested several social media publishing apps, and while many have introduced some radical features, the nod still goes to a veteran application: Buffer Publish.

Buffer allows you to simultaneously post on up to five social media platforms, while also allowing you to schedule posts using a queue. The Unsplash tab on the media hub offers a plethora of royalty free images with just a few clicks. The ability to tailor media and descriptions for the same post but for different platforms is awesome. In addition to previewing your posts, it even warns you of the platform limitations, if you were about to cross any.

Perhaps the most important feature of Buffer isn’t often highlighted: it doesn’t make you use the web version, almost everything you need is right there on the mobile app (iOS and Android).

The free plan, which allows for one user to manage three social media accounts with up to ten scheduled posts is good enough to get started; however, for higher brand ambitions and integrity, you must go pro! Paid plans start as low as $12/month for individuals and $99/month for businesses. All paid plans come with trial periods.

Buffer does have its setbacks, if you are a small digital marketing team that heavily relies on team communication then paying a hefty sum of $99/month isn’t ideal, in that case, you might try SproutSocial or Hootsuite, which are built for teams by default.



2. Animoto

TLDR: A web video creation/editing application that won’t replace a serious video editor such as Premiere Pro, but will do enough that you question whether you need a serious tool in the first place.

Would you rather watch a video of Lebron James slam-dunking a basket or scroll through ten images of him in the process? Unless he’s the reason your team keeps losing — in which case you won’t watch anything at all — you would choose the former. That’s the thing about video, it’s just more engaging than other media.

So, if video is the undisputed king of all media types, why don’t we often see it posted on social media? Well, videos take a lot of work to create, edit, and publish; not to mention the tedious learning curve of video editing software.

Hold your horses though, Animoto is trying to lessen the blow here, by simplifying video creation, one tedious task at a time. It all starts with templates, choose a template that matches your requirements and you’ve already set the foundation for your video. All that then remains, are personalizations, you can customize text, color, border, shadows, animations, transitions and much more, there is hardly an attribute that you can’t change.

Need more flavor? Choose from a myriad of royalty free music tracks tailored for tutorials, demos, slideshows, teasers and everything else you might need.

While pitch perfect video creation, or editing on a smartphone app is miles away from ideal, the Animoto app, available on Android and iOS tries its best, so much so, that you rarely feel the need to use the web version.

Having said all of this, comparing the precision on Animoto to an application such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro is like comparing apples with oranges.

Animoto doesn’t offer any free plans, you will have to shell out at least $9/month for the basic plan, which includes everything that an individual may need. If you need more, you can go for the professional plan which will set you back by $64/month and they’ve also provided a business plan, which will cost you $94/month. If you don’t want to spend much but still want something more premium (and if you don’t mind a learning curve) Adobe offers the Premiere Pro for $33.99/month.

Animoto is a tool for everyone looking to bypass video editing software, with enough ability to yield good quality videos that’ll make you stand out from the crowd.



3. Canva

TLDR: An ‘all-in-one’ photo creation/editing application that will have an impact on your current social media reception.

If video is the undisputed king of media types, then image is the crown prince!

However, the prince of media types suffers the same fate as the king, images are harder to create than text and the editing part is better left of to a professional, not to mention the cost of expensive photo editing software.

Canva is trying to provide high-quality customized images to people who would prefer to avoid the learning curve and hefty license fees. Canva offers you templates that cater to Display pictures, cover photos, brochures and even book covers.

We are talking social media here, so lets stick to it, whether it be designing a cover photo for your Facebook/Twitter page or be it a fancy Instagram post, you can do it all with Canva. Selecting a template sets the foundation for the image, then you can design however you wish and your designs will come out very professional.

I found that when the servers are undergoing maintenance I can’t work at all

Even when I do know how to work my way around a photo editing app, sometimes using an app like Canva is just easier, when I am not worried about contrast, photo filters, and all that jazz, it’s just much quicker to use a template from Canva.

Canva does offer a basic free plan, which is good enough for a newbie but if you want to unlock the real potential of this app, then you must go pro. The paid plans offer better typefaces, stock images, larger cloud storage and much more. The paid plans start from $12.95/month, which you can try for free on a 30-day basis.

While Canva is great most of the time, it is an online app. I found that when the servers are undergoing maintenance I can’t work at all, literally! The application tells you to come back later, which can be frustrating when you want things done quickly.

Canva is a blessing of an application for all sorts of people who don’t want mega accuracy with their edits and who don’t want to bother themselves with overlay definitions and Photoshop’s learning curve. If you can live with the glitches of a web application, then for sure, you must try out Canva.



4. BuzzSumo

TLDR: A tool that unfolds enough clues to solve the content puzzle without ruining it for all creative purposes.

It doesn’t matter if you have a social media manager app like Buffer publish, custom art from Canva, the most eye-catching videos made with Animoto, in the end knowing the content that interests your audience is the key differentiator for your social media success. It’s like being a baker and knowing exactly what kind of muffin the neighbourhood likes.

It’s like being a baker and knowing exactly what kind of muffin the neighbourhood likes

BuzzSumo is one such app which lets you know exactly what kind of content is trending around the world. While we do have free apps such as Google Trends, BuzzSumo takes it to another level. While many of us make the same mistake of labelling apps such as BuzzSumo as a mere ‘Keyword Search’ tool, there’s so much more to it than we may think.

You can filter trending topics based on date, location, trends, effectiveness and much more. Having problems coming up with topics? BuzzSumo suggests/recommends content topics for you, all done with a sophisticated tab. BuzzSumo even lets you keep a tab on content posted on pre-defined tags/topics, so you always know what your competition is up to.

BuzzSumo isn’t cheap though, plans start at $99/month and can go up to $499/month. A newbie social media content creator can benefit from knowing what is trending, however, paying $99/month is a bit too steep, especially when you have a free tool such as Google Trends available. BuzzSumo is for the level two tier for content creators who want that edge over their competition, and if you fall in this category, it is well worth the price tag.



5. Buffer Reply

TLDR: A tool that will streamline all your audience has to say, so that you can connect more with less.

While your content quality may invite audiences, there are other factors that keep them there. One of them is how your audience connects with you, and this connection is what builds a loyal fan base. While you may automate analytics and uploads, the communication part is done by hand and that is where the problem lies.

From the team that brought us Buffer Publish comes Buffer Reply, the younger sibling that does enough to make a name for itself.

Buffer Reply collects the comments/replies/mentions on all of your social media accounts and presents them in an ‘all in one’ inbox. It also features an auto responder which can add a professional touch to a business account/profile.

All this comes at a price though — there are no free plans — the paid plans start at $50/month. The subscription fees are worthwhile for those who have a considerable following on most of the social media platforms, for individuals who are just started, it may not be worth investing that much money.



Featured image via Unsplash.

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Abercrombie & Fitch to build out local marketing teams as part of ad spend boost

Abercrombie & Fitch to build out local marketing teams as part of ad spend boost

Abercrombie & Fitch will boost marketing spend for the second consecutive year to complement the growth of its new regional marketing hubs.

The company’s chief executive, Fran Horowitz, said the company is currently in “transition” between running its marketing entirely out of the US and splitting the spend between HQ and local markets.

Abercrombie & Fitch, which owns Hollister as well as its eponymous label, has opened offices in London and Shanghai to run its EMEA and APAC regions respectively. Those hubs have begun producing their own individual local campaigns, working alongside the global marketing operation rather than for it.

Now, Abercrombie & Fitch is building out those teams and investing more cash into its “localization efforts”, according to chief financial officer Scott Lipesky.

The company is currently advertising for two brand marketing managers in London and Shanghai as part of the pivot.

The latter marketer will be responsible for launching campaigns on Chinese online retail site Tmall – the “biggest piece” of Abercrombie & Fitch’s digital business in APAC.

“We’re really excited about some merchandising and marketing talent that we put into the Shanghai office, and really building an assortment for Tmall and building a better strategy for Tmall versus what we had in the past,” said chief executive Fran Horowitz on a call with investors this week (4 March).

“There’s clearly a lot of noise out there in key markets in Europe and with the coronavirus in Asia and moving less,” added Lipesky “But we are optimistic long term, and that’s going to be a key driver for us long term.”

A marketing ‘step-up’

Abercrombie & Fitch is planning to raise marketing budgets globally after last year’s spend increase paid off in “positive cross-channel traffic and support ongoing digital growth”, said Lipesky.

Spend on ‘marketing, general and administrative expenses’ was reported as down on 2018’s $485m at $465m, however Lipesky confirmed broken out marketing spend increased year-on-year.

“We made a really nice step-up back in 2018 with marketing,” Lipesky said. “We continued in 2019 and will continue in 2020.”

The company has made a concerted effort to speak to its core Gen Z customer by spreading media buys across new platforms such as Tik Tok and Twitch, as well as YouTube, Instagram and Spotify.

The brand also reworked its creative to speak more “authentically” the to its teenage audience by way of the ‘World Teen Mental Wellness Day’ and the ‘Hollister Confidence Project’.

Results for the year were positive overall, with net sales rising 1% to $3.62bn. Comparable sales also rose by 1% but growth slowed from 2018’s 3% year-on-year increase.

The end of 2019 marked the second full year of Abercrombie & Fitch’s ‘growing while transforming phase’, which – alongside striving for operational efficiencies – aims to move the brand from its days of trendy stores and topless models to an era of positivity and inclusivity.

Its “Fierce” campaign, for instance, features the likes of athletes Megan Rapinoe and Kyle Kuzma sharing “their personal experience from self-empowerment, body positivity and overcoming obstacles”.

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How to Boost Engagement with User-Generated Content on Instagram

How to Boost Engagement with User-Generated Content on Instagram

Searching for new social media content to share on Facebook and Instagram? Hoping for more engagement? You can accomplish both of those goals with an Instagram campaign of user-generated content, or UGC. UGC is content created by users which can come in a variety of mediums, such as text, images, videos, and audio.

On Instagram, UGC created by your target audience can help other potential customers see themselves in those creative assets and can then enter your sales funnel through a variety of means. In addition, it will help build trust in your brand, drive more engagement, and ultimately, help your bottom line. Regardless of your business size, encourage your customers to share content and if they already are, share it!

user-generated Instagram post from Jeep

In this guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know to effectively use user-generated content on Instagram:

  • How to source user-generated content
  • How to use your UGC on Instagram to boost engagement
  • How to provide a high-quality customer experience

Let’s get started!

How to source UGC for Instagram

Where do you begin? Well, the beauty of social media is that you can make it social, conversational, and creative. Some ways we recommend to clients and see success with is to start a hashtag trend, as a question, engage in influencer partnerships. Here’s how you can get started sourcing UGC for Instagram with these methods.

1. Start a hashtag trend

Encourage your fans/followers to contribute and show off what they have using a unique hashtag you created. If you have some in mind, check their usage by searching the Instagram hashtags in the respective channels. Your posts to encourage users to use your hashtag could be a way for them to show how they are styling a retail product you are selling, a tool you are providing and what they’ve built using it, or the ways your service makes their life better. An added perk of doing this is that you can then easily track submissions, especially on Instagram where you can search and follow a hashtag. This will also serve as your creative arsenal anytime you want to share some UGC content.

Check out the effective way that procreate encourages their customers and people who aren’t yet to do so below.

call for user-generated content on Instagram from procreate

2. Ask a question

This one’s simple: Post a question and simply encourage your followers to share a post and tag you. After all, people enjoy being featured and feeling special.

American Eagle is even more direct about asking their fans if they want to be featured, right in their Instagram bio and all users have to do is use their hashtag.

call for user-generated content on Instagram from American Eagle

3. Partner with influencers

On a larger scale, we often see celebrities endorsing products on social media. This requires a larger budget, so it may not be so easy to come about for small businesses or limited budgets. Worry not, as there are ways you can partner with microinfluencers. For example, if you are a clothing boutique, seek out a local fashion blogger in your area and discuss a small partnership opportunity with them. If you’re a law firm, seek out local businesses that you’ve worked with before and do the same, because you may have helped them incorporate when they opened and they can share a story about how you were involved. If you’re in real estate, there’s plenty of opportunity there with people you helped purchase or sell their homes. Influencers are great at creating unique content that is genuine to them and their followers, giving you fresh user-generated content to work with.

influencer content on Instagram

Another thing you can do with your influencers is have them run a contest from their accounts. If you can, give away one of your products or services. If the cost is too high, you don’t have to give away anything big and still find success with something like this. While product giveaways have been successful, we have seen great success with any type of prize, such as branded tees, bags, and even stickers. Again, making the user feel special.

How to use your UGC on Instagram

Now that you have all of this great content, let’s discuss the various ways you can use it to not only improve the appearance of your profile, but also boost your engagement and conversions. Using Facebook and Instagram, you can share the user-generated content, as long as the user account does not have their account set to private. Though, with Instagram, if a private user tags you, they have an option on their end to select if you can share it in your Instagram Stories. Often times, users will select this if they tag you.

Here are some excellent examples of what brands are doing with their UGC that perhaps you can find inspiration with and emulate with your own flavor as it relates to your brand.

1. Reshare

Is someone raving about you? Repurpose and reshare it on your channels and showcase real people sharing genuine and glowing content about you. The best content does come from true fans posting unprompted content, such as this one that thanks and reviews one of my personal local favorite wineries, Serrano Wine in Paso Robles. Loryn Powell shares a review of her visit to their tasting room on Instagram Stories.

user-generated content example from Loryn Powell

She raves about how the owners were so wonderful to speak with, and she talks about their wine and how everyone should try it. The kicker is she didn’t get paid to do it.  As a comedian, this user has 50K fans on Facebook and 90.1K followers on Instagram. This was an excellent opportunity for Serrano Wine to expand its reach and potentially get more people into the tasting room as a result of the genuinely good service and products. Resharing posts like these, or even posts with your product featured, is a must.

2. Post with a cause

Find user-generated content that you can append to a relevant post. For instance, here’s a terrific example from Hydro Flask on Facebook, where the company shares an informative post about how you can join it in reducing single use plastics and complemented their post with a beautiful nature photo with their product placed from a customer.

user-generated content on Instagram example from HydroFlask

3. Share reviews and testimonials

Collecting reviews? Put those to use! Either share them in the copy of the post or more effectively, create an image or video using the review like Dove does below in this Instagram ad.

user-generated content on Instagram example from Dove

If someone loves your brand, don’t be shy and ask them for a photo or video review, too. People are often very willing to provide assets such as these.

4. Create an offshoot account

If you have a large volume of Instagram UGC that could serve your brand well in a standalone account, try it out, like Uber has with their Overheard Uber account.

Uber's UGC Instagram account

To encourage submissions, Uber invites rideshare users to DM the account with submissions. Another thing to take note here is that the company saves its Instagram Stories and categories them so you viewers can view them even after the ephemeral content disappears 24 hours after the initial post.

5. Impact your audience

While the possibilities are endless, given the many variables out there that are business and audience specific, if all you have is a photo, simply sharing that, too, can be effective on days where you need to post something but may be short on content. If it can make someone smile, inspire an idea, open up a conversation, inform, educate, or help, use that content to do so.

UGC Instagram content from Wags

6. Promote with Facebook and Instagram Ads

If you have a budget for Facebook and Instagram Ads, take your organic efforts to a new level. Expand your reach, visibility, engagement, and sales with new audiences and reconnect with ones that may already be familiar with you by promoting your user-generated content. Even if you have a budget of only $5/day, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. Of course, if you have more budget, that’s better, as you can cast your net wider to bring in new people to discover your brand, and move them further along your sales funnel. The faster you can learn what is and is not working well with particular audiences, messaging, and ads, the quicker you can make decisions on what to stop and where you can ramp up.

How to provide a high-quality customer experience

Remember, users aren’t necessarily generating content for your brand to share. Interactions with your customers or followers on Instagram are still reflections of your brand, and it’s important to treat them that way. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind using Instagram UGC.

1. Ask permission

Before sharing someone else’s content, even if they tagged you in it, it’s best to ask for permission to minimize any backlash. Comment on their post or DM them and ask if you can share it. Take a screenshot of the approval as back up and save it as a precaution. Other times, a legal disclaimer added to your posts that source UGC can be an alternative. To be safe, ask your business attorney for their recommendation.

tweet about asking for permission using UGC on Instagram

2. Give credit where it’s due

If someone took the time to share a post and tag you in it, give them credit by tagging them in your reshare. Some brands use copy that says “image courtesy of @___,” others add a camera with flash emoji 📸 followed by the handle of the content creator, and others use #rg ____ which stands for “regram” on Instagram.

An example of the latter can be seen use on American Eagle’s Instagram account:

UGC on Instagram example from American Eagle

3. Give thanks

Comment on the user’s original post to let them know you appreciate it. It can go a long way by making them feel special and you may even get yourself a customer for life.

4. Keep track

Create a way of tracking your UGC. Typically, with our clients, we will create a spreadsheet with links, screenshots, and details about who shared it, when, and other helpful information about the types of campaigns we can use them for.

Go get started with UGC on Instagram!

Now we’ve covered all the basics and best practices for boosting engagement with UGC for Instagram: how to source the content, how to use it for organic and paid means on Facebook and Instagram, and how to make sure you offer a great customer experience. With user-generated content, the possibilities of the ways you can use them to benefit your business marketing efforts are plentiful. Have fun, get creative, and generate success!

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