Understanding Your Google Ads Metrics With the Latest Interface

How do you know what the metrics in Google Ads mean and which ones matter the most? The latest version of Google Ads’ interface has a particularly large number of metrics, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you first log on.

How do you know what the metrics in Google Ads mean and which ones matter the most? The latest version of Google Ads’ interface has a particularly large number of metrics, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you first log on.

Each page has a table full of data, including a graph of metrics and various reports. It’s a little like looking at an airplane cockpit for the first time, with all its lights, switches and gauges. However, experienced advertisers know that all the information in Google Ads allows you to dig into your campaign performance and find ways to improve it.

Which Metrics Really Matter?

The most important Google Ads metrics include the following:

  • Cost-per-click (CPC)
  • Clickthrough rate (CTR)
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA)

CPC

CPC is an advertising model in which an advertiser pays a website owner each time a user clicks on an ad. First-tier search engines like Google Ads typically use a CPC model, because advertisers can bid on key phrases that are relevant to their target market. In comparison, content sites typically charge per 1,000 impressions of the ad.

CTR

CTR, or clickthrough rate, is the ratio of users who click a link to the total number of users who view the ad. CTR generally indicates a marketing campaign’s effectiveness in attracting visitors to a website.

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the ratio of goal achievements to the number of visitors. It’s essentially the proportion of visitors who take a desired action as a result of your marketing activity. The specific action that a conversion rate monitors depends on the type of business you’re promoting. For example, online retailers often define a conversion as a sale, while services businesses consider other actions, such as a request for a quote, a demo sign up or a report download, when measuring conversion rate.

CPA

CPA, or cost per action, is the total cost of your ads divided by the number of conversions. Again, the specific action depends on the type of business you’re promoting. For example, CPA for online retailers is typically the cost per e-commerce sale. Services businesses typically measure CPA as a cost per lead. This number is critical, because it tells you if your campaigns are profitable or not.

How Can Metrics Help You Improve Performance?

Poor metrics can indicate courses of action that can help you improve your Google Ads campaign performance.

CPC

A high CPC could mean that you need to raise the quality scores for your ad, which could reduce the cost of each click. You can also accomplish this by using ad scheduling and geotargeting to ensure your website doesn’t show ads during times or in locations where you don’t do business. Additional strategies for reducing CPC include using demographic targeting, in-market audiences and remarketing to narrow your audience to just the people who are interested in your business.

CTR

A low CTR can indicate that you need to review the keywords and ad copy in your Google Ads account. For example, you should ensure that you’re only bidding on keywords that relate to your offers. You should also perform A/B testing on your ads to determine the factors that interest your prospects the most, whether it’s features, benefits or some emotional trigger. You can also improve CTR by ensuring that your ad takes up as much room as possible by implementing ad extensions.

Conversion Rate

A low conversion rate can indicate that you need to take a closer look at your landing pages, where visitors go when they click on an ad. These pages should be very clean and quick to load to ensure visitors don’t lose interest after they click. Your ads should always send visitors directly to a dedicated landing page, rather than just your home page or even a general landing page.

CPA

A high CPA means that you aren’t getting a good return on investment (ROI) from your ad spend. Possible causes of a high CPA include a high CPC or low conversion rate, which often means a poor choice of keywords and ad copy. Concentrate your budget on high-converting keywords with a high intent to buy.

Conclusion

Google Ads provides many metrics that can tell you how to improve website performance. However, this information can also be daunting to interpret if you don’t know what it means.  Follow the tips above to monitor your key metrics and make adjustments to improve your Google Ads performance.

Want more tips to improve your Google advertising? Get your free copy of our “Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.”

 

Analytics Isn’t Reporting

Today, virtually all organizations have challenges in effectively leveraging analytics to drive business performance. Odds are pretty good that when you read that statement, you thought of at least one example in your organization. Perhaps you thought about the systemic contribution that analytics is making or a frustration you’ve had with analytics performance. If so, you’re hardly alone.

Today, virtually all organizations have challenges in effectively leveraging analytics to drive business performance.

Odds are pretty good that when you read that statement, you thought of at least one example in your organization. Perhaps you thought about the systemic contribution that analytics is making or a frustration you’ve had with analytics performance. If so, you’re hardly alone.

Here’s my home base for thinking about “analytics” in your organization.

“The promise of marketing analytics isn’t esoteric, or abstract — it’s fundamentally simple — analytics generates evidence of problem or opportunity that can be used to drive a specific business impact.”

Yet marketing analytics all too often fails to live up to its full potential. When it comes to the Web, almost a decade after the advent of mass adoption of Web analytics platforms like Google Analytics, engagement and conversion rates are still struggling to make methodical progress forward, and bring the business to materially greater profitability.

One of the biggest errors in strategy is the inadvertent substitution of “reporting,” or even “dashboards,” for a robust analytics process. It helps to first appreciate how subtle that difference is and why it happens:

  1. Analytics Is Interesting. Analytics can be intellectually stimulating, but some individuals and organizations spend too much time in the rapture of how interesting all that data can be. I was recently at an event where a smart young woman had a name badge on that said “I love data” below her name. I was tempted to write “I make money with the data” under my own.

    While I’ll be the first to express a life-long affair with the database and discovering “interesting” things in the data, that’s just not enough. So we have to monitor when analytics isn’t producing the evidence we need to affect change and deliver a business impact. While that can take a tremendous amount of work, the purpose itself must remain clear to create value.

  2. Reports Don’t Always Have the Right Questions Behind Them. Most of us came up in business generating and reading reports. I confess that I remember craving a report we used to call “the blue book” (if you still remember paper). I looked forward to every week when I ran my business line off of it in a large company that razed many a forest generating blue books. Thankfully, they email them now — but these reports are the same static, one-dimensional view of the business, many years later.

    The problem comes when we see our “standard reports” as the answer, even if the question we should be asking has changed.

    When you’re dealing with fickle consumers, and infinite choice is a click away, those questions sometimes change faster than “reporting standards” can realistically keep up with.

  3. The Relevancy Is Gone. Better than 80 percent of the time, I see marketing organizations with ample “stats” on their historical activity — yet they often fundamentally lack a strategic big picture and framework to consistently improve marketing and business decision-making. Frequently, the same organizations struggled with aligning the technical implementation of analytics and metrics required to drive business growth.

  4. Continuous Business Improvement Sometimes Requires a Cultural Shift. Cultural shifts of any size aren’t trivial, of course. I recently attended an all-day digital commerce strategy summit at a large brand I’ve done strategy work with during the past year. Dozens of staff, vendors and executives attended. The ultimate revelation for some of these executives who made the six-figure investment in the event was, “this requires patience, and is very methodical and testing-based” — it took a huge amount of effort, resources and time. To the credit of the executive who sponsored this event, a necessary cultural shift was recognized. While all in attendance knew intuitively about “test-optimize-learn” and had a large investment in their analytics software platform — she recognized that her organization was playing catch-up culturally — an achievement in itself.

5. Prioritization Is Key. Many large and more traditional organizations have very deep roots in a task- and reporting-based culture. This stifles Data Athletes from doing their jobs. Prioritization is key. As the old saying goes, “If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.” Executive sponsors need to make choices on where to dial effort back; focus can then be applied to build a point of view based on evidence, and the opportunity to create and discover the context of opportunity and problems.

Forward vs. Backward Analysis.
Very frequently, I’ve helped organizations that started analytics processes or programs by looking “backward” at tactical reports; these reports can only show if a past tactic has or hasn’t worked. You cannot tell if a different tactic or mix of tactics would have done better, and by how much. Worse yet, the very volume of these “reports” often obscures the bigger picture. The solution … Look forward.

Analytics Should Be Forward-Looking. It’s driven not only by analyzing the past, but by creating a framework for planning and creating future performance. In other words, what to test, how to test it, and how to use the results of those tests to drive continuous improvements in the business.

In short, analytics done well creates visibility into what you should be doing and suggests the delta with what you are currently doing. Think about the aforementioned necessity for prioritization — Analytics done well helps you set those priorities.

Analytics professionals and and the executive team must all work together according to one principle:

Analytics is the process of identifying truths from data.
These truths inform decisions that measurably improve business performance.

Analytics Must Be Purpose-Driven.
Here’s a simple approach to create focus and align the specific implementation of analytics to serve you and your business growth:

  • Your business’s Purpose drives specific Business Objectives.
  • Those Business Objectives, in turn, inform Goals.
  • Your Goals are tracked via KPIs.
  • The KPIs are continuously compared against Benchmarks.

It’s easy to dive into the weeds, get lost in the data, lose patience with the process, and begin a bottom-up approach. This deceptively simple framework I’ve suggested will help you take a top-down approach to analytics that ensures you are measuring the right things — correctly. When you do, you will become a true analytics-driven organization.

Doing so will help your organization grow faster, more consistently and reliably — and that makes for a valuable and happier organization. Be a Data Athlete, not an analytics nerd — and you’ll make all the difference in your organization.

Google Opens the Door to the Trusted Stores Program

Google has changed the requirements for its Trusted Stores program to make it easier for stores to join the program. What does this promise for the consumer, for merchants taking advantage of the offer, particularly those who went through the initial vetting process necessary to obtain the designation, as well as for Google? When Google first set up its Trusted Stores program, it provided a level of purchase protection for consumers and a conversion enhancement incentive for merchants displaying the Trusted Stores badge. The program badge provides consumers a level of confidence prior to purchase, and for consumers opting-in at time of purchase, a free purchase protection program; whereby, Google promises to intervene if there was an issue with the purchase. To display the Google Trusted Stores badge, the merchant had to submit feeds with shipping and cancellation information to prove that the merchant met specific levels of shipping and customer satisfaction performance set by Google.

Google has changed the requirements for its Trusted Stores program to make it easier for stores to join the program. What does this promise for the consumer, for merchants taking advantage of the offer, particularly those who went through the initial vetting process necessary to obtain the designation, as well as for Google? When Google first set up its Trusted Stores program, it provided a level of purchase protection for consumers and a conversion enhancement incentive for merchants displaying the Trusted Stores badge. The program badge provides consumers a level of confidence prior to purchase, and for consumers opting-in at time of purchase, a free purchase protection program; whereby, Google promises to intervene if there was an issue with the purchase. To display the Google Trusted Stores badge, the merchant had to submit feeds with shipping and cancellation information to prove that the merchant met specific levels of shipping and customer satisfaction performance set by Google.

What Has Changed and Who Benefits?
To increase merchant enrollment, Google has announced that it is dropping the requirement that stores submit shipping and cancellation information. To be a member of the program, a store must do a sales volume of 200 orders per month, so the program will still exclude the casual on-line merchant fulfilling just a few orders a day. The merchant must also provide assurances that email inquiries are addressed within one day. When the program was initiated some merchants were reluctant to join because they did not want to provide Google, an ad-selling monolith, business sensitive information on their order volumes. Google has removed this barrier.

A change benefitting all merchants in the program is that they can now custom position the badge on their site and display it on their https pages. Previously, it had to appear in the lower right hand corner of the home page. An additional carrot to attract new enrollees is that reviews garnered through the Trusted Stores program will help advertisers, using Google’s AdWords program, qualify for review extensions that boost click through rates by offering the consumer merchant quality assurances.

Google’s intent is clear. The ad giant wants to enroll more high volume merchants in its program. A greater number of stores would enhance Google’s position as a shopping resource. By dropping the data sharing requirement, Google removes a clear and significant barrier to participation. Surely, a merchant with a stellar performance rating, attaining the coveted review extensions for AdWords and enjoying enhanced click through rates will be more willing to purchase more AdWords, a clear win for Google. To industry watchers, this move is not just a program change or a way to gain more AdWord sales. It is a strategic move to counter the growing influence of Amazon as a commerce source for consumers and to consolidate Google’s position as a source of trusted reviews versus other review platforms. This program change is a signal of things to come and bears careful watching.

McKinsey Thinks Bland, Generic Loyalty Programs Are Killing Business – And They May Be Right!

A recent Forbes article by McKinsey, “Making Loyalty Pay: Six Lessons From the Innovators,” showed loyalty program participation has steadily increased during the past five years (a 10 percent annual rate of growth), with the average household now having almost 25 memberships. For all of that growing popularity, there are huge questions for marketers: Are the programs contributing to increased sales? And what is the impact of loyalty programs on enterprise profitability?

A recent Forbes article by McKinsey, “Making Loyalty Pay: Six Lessons From the Innovators,” showed loyalty program participation has steadily increased during the past five years (a 10 percent annual rate of growth), with the average household now having almost 25 memberships. For all of that growing popularity, there are huge questions for marketers: Are the programs contributing to increased sales? And what is the impact of loyalty programs on enterprise profitability?

Overall, companies with loyalty programs have grown at about the same rate as companies without them; but there is variance in performance value among industries. These programs produce positive sales increases for hotels, for example, but negative sales impact on car rental, airlines and food retail. And, companies with higher loyalty program spend had lower margins than companies in the same sector which do not spend on high-visibility loyalty programs.

McKinsey has noted that, “Despite relative underperformance in terms of revenue growth and profitability, over the past five years, market capitalization for companies that greatly emphasize loyalty programs has outpaced that of companies that don’t.” This, as they see it, may be indicative of hope among companies with programs that long-term customer value can be generated.

Within the McKinsey report, several strategies are offered for helping businesses overcome the negatives often associated with loyalty programs. Key among these are:

  • Integrate Loyalty Into the Full Experience
    Companies can link the loyalty program into the overall purchase and use experience. An example cited in the article is Starbucks, which has created its program to reflect the uniqueness of its café experience. Loyalty is built into the program by integrating payments and mobile technology, which appeals to its target audience.
  • Use the Data
    This may be the most important opportunity represented by loyalty programs. Data collected from the programs can offer competitive opportunities. Tesco, the largest supermarket chain on the planet, has been doing loyalty program member number-crunching for years through DunnHumby. Similarly, Caesars Entertainment has rich databases on its high-rolling program members. One retailer has combined its loyalty program with a 5 percent point-of-sale discount, building volume from its highest-value customers. In another well-documented example, a retailer has used its loyalty program data to identify future mothers before other chains, thus targeting offers to capture both their regular spend and new category purchases as buying habits evolve.
  • Build Partnerships
    As stated on so many occasions, organizations that build trust generate stronger, more bonded, customer behavior. This applies to loyalty programs as well, where there is ample opportunity to build cross-promotion for customers with non-competing products and services. In the U.K., Sainsbury, the major supermarket competitor of Tesco, has partnered with Nectar, a major loyalty coalition. Nectar has more members than Tesco, and participants can collect rewards across a large number of non-competing retailers. Through partnership, Sainsbury’s offers customers a broader and deeper value proposition; and Nectar also generates data from coalition partners, which it uses to better target promotions to customers.
  • Solve Customer and Industry Pain Points
    Numerous customer behavior studies have shown that people will gravitate to, and pay more for, better service. A perfect example of this is Amazon Prime, where additional payment gets customers faster delivery and digital tracking. This is good for Amazon (estimates are that members spend more than four times more with Amazon than non-members), its customers, and its suppliers, who also get access to Prime customers and the positive rub-off of affiliating with a trusted brand.
  • Maximize Difference Between Perceived Value and Real Cost
    Often, program elements can represent high perceived value without adding much in the way of bottom-line cost to the sponsor. The example cited is Starwood Hotels and Resorts where, through its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program, there is a focus on personal leisure travel rewards for high-spending frequent guests.
  • Allocate Loyalty Reinvestment to the Most Valuable Customers
    Many companies have only recently come to the realization that some customers are more valuable than others; and, to be successful, loyalty programs need to target the higher revenue customers. In 2010, Southwest Airlines revamped its loyalty program to make rewards more proportional to ticket price; and this has better targeted the most profitable customers, as well as enabled the airline to adopt a loyalty behavior metric that is closely tied to actual revenue generation.

Loyalty programs continue to grow, but they are also tending to become more closely integrated with brand-building and multichannel customer experience optimization. But, there is also lots of commoditization and passivity were these programs are concerned—sort of the “If You Build It, They Will Come” syndrome at work. And, of course, there’s a mini contra movement among some retail chains, where they have removed established loyalty programs—or never initiated them in the first place—in favor of everyday low prices and more efficient performance.

Too Big to Fail – But Not Too Big to Suck

On a recent “Real Time With Bill Maher” show, Maher responded to the announcement that Time Warner Cable would merge with Comcast Corp. in a $45 billion purchase. He noted that, combined, the two cable systems represent 19 of the 20 largest U.S. markets; and, apart from suppliers like Dish and DirecTV, they have no competitors in these metros. Further, Maher said, the two companies have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any cable system. So, as he asked his panelists, where is the value for customers in this merger if both companies are known to have questionable service performance?

On a recent “Real Time With Bill Maher” show, Maher responded to the announcement that Time Warner Cable would merge with Comcast Corp. in a $45 billion purchase. He noted that, combined, the two cable systems represent 19 of the 20 largest U.S. markets; and, apart from suppliers like Dish and DirecTV, they have no competitors in these metros. Further, Maher said, the two companies have the lowest customer satisfaction ratings of any cable system. So, as he asked his panelists, where is the value for customers in this merger if both companies are known to have questionable service performance?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will, of course, have a great deal to say about whether this merger goes through or not. During the past couple of decades, we’ve seen a steady decline in the number of cable companies, from 53 at one point to only six now. Addressing some of the early negative reaction to its planned purchase of TWC-which would increase Comcast’s cable base to 30 million subscribers from the 22 million it currently has (a bit less than 30 percent of the overall market)-Comcast has already stated that it will make some concessions to have the merger approved. But, that said, according to company executives, the proposed cost savings and efficiencies that will “ultimately benefit customers” are not likely to either reduce monthly subscription prices or even cause them to rise less rapidly.

Comcast executives have stated that the value to consumers will come via “quality of service, by quality of offerings and by technological innovations.” David Cohen, their Executive VP, said: “Putting these two companies together will not deprive a single customer in America of a choice he or she will have today.” (Opens as a PDF) He also said, “I don’t believe there’s any way to argue that consumers are going to be hurt from a price perspective as a result of this transaction.” But, that said, he also admitted, “Frankly, most of the factors that go into customer bills are beyond our control.” Not very encouraging.

As anyone remotely familiar with Comcast’s history will understand, this is not the first time the company has navigated the river of communications company consolidation: 1995, Scripps, 800,000 subscribers, 1998, Jones Intercable, 1.1 million subscribers; 2000, Lenfest Communications, 1.3 million subscribers.

In 2002, Comcast completed acquisition of AT&T Broadband, in a deal worth $72 billion. This increased the company’s base to its current level of 22 million subscribers, and gave it major presence in markets like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia and San Francisco-Oakland. In a statement issued by Comcast at the time the purchase was announced, again there was a claim that the merger with AT&T would benefit all stakeholders: “Combining Comcast with AT&T Broadband is a once in a lifetime opportunity that creates immediate value and positions the company for additional growth in the future. Shareholders, employees, and customers alike are poised to reap considerable benefits from this remarkable union.”

There have been technological advances, additional content, and enhanced service, during the ensuing 13 years. But “immediate value” and “considerable benefits”? Having been professionally involved with customer research conducted at the time of this merger, there was genuine question regarding the value perceived by the newly acquired AT&T customers. In a study among customers who discontinued with Comcast post-merger, and also among customers who had been Comcast customers or AT&T customers prior to the merger, poor picture quality (remember, these were the days well before HD), service disruption and high/continually rising prices were the key reasons given for defection to a competitor.

Conversely, when asked to rate their current suppliers on both key attribute importance (a surrogate measure of performance expectation) and performance itself, the highest priorities were all service-related:

  • Reliability of cable service
  • Availability of customer service when needed
  • Speed of service problem resolution
  • Responsiveness of customer service staff

On all principal service attributes except “speed of service problem resolution,” the new supplier was given higher ratings than either Comcast or AT&T. And there were major gaps in all of the above areas. Overall, close to 90 percent of these defected customers said they would be highly likely to continue the relationship with their new supplier. When correlation analysis was performed, pricing and service performance were the key driving factors. In addition, even if Comcast were now able to offer services that overcame their reasons for defection, very few (only about 10 percent) said they would be willing to become Comcast customers again.

Finally, we’ve often focused on unexpressed and unresolved complaints as leading barometers, or indicators, of possible defection. Few of the customers interviewed indicated problems with their current suppliers; however, as in other studies, problem and complaint issues were frequently surfaced for both Comcast and AT&T.

It should be noted that having lost a significant number of customers to Verizon’s FiOS, Comcast has a winback program under way, leveraging quotes from subscribers who have returned to the Xfinity fold. In the usual Macy’s/Gimbel’s customer acquisition and capture theater of war, this marks a marketing change for Comcast. As often observed (and even covered in an entire book, with my co-author, consultant Jill Griffin), winback marketing strategies are rather rarely applied, but can be very successful.

One of the key consumer concerns, especially as it may impact monthly bills, is the cost and control of content. For example, Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast for an exclusive direct connection into its network. As one media analyst noted, “The largest cable company in the nation, on the verge of improving its power to influence broadband policy, is nurturing a class system by capitalizing on its reach as a consumer Internet service provider (ISP).” This could, John C. Abell further stated, be a “game-changer.” Media management and control such as this has echoes of Big Brother for customers, and it is all the more reason Comcast should be paying greater attention to the evolving needs, as well as the squeeze on wallets, of its customers.

Perhaps the principal lesson here, assuming that the FCC allows this merger to proceed and ultimately consummate, will be for Comcast to be proactive in building relationships and service delivery. There’s very little that will increase consumer trust more than “walking the talk,” delivering against the claims of what benefits customers will stand to receive. Conversely, there’s little that will undermine trust and loyalty faster, and more thoroughly, than underdelivery on promises.

What Customer-Centric, Customer-Obsessed Companies Must Do

In building relationships with and value for customers, my longtime observation is most organizations tend to progress through several stages of performance: customer awareness, customer sensitivity, customer focus and customer obsession. Here is the “executive summary” version of some conditions of each stage.

In building relationships with and value for customers, my longtime observation is most organizations tend to progress through several stages of performance: customer awareness, customer sensitivity, customer focus and customer obsession.

Here is the “executive summary” version of some conditions of each stage.

Customer Awareness
Customers are known, but in the aggregate. The organization believes it can select its customers and understand their needs. Measurement of performance is rudimentary, if it exists at all; and customer data are siloed. There’s a traditional, hierarchical, top-down management model, with “chimneyed” or “smokestack” communication (goes up or down, but not horizontal) with little evidence of teaming.

Customer Sensitivity
Customers are known, but still mostly in the aggregate. Customer service is somewhat more evident (though still viewed as a cost center), with a focus on complaint and problem resolution (but not proactive complaint generation; internal groups tend to point fingers and blame each other for negative customer issues). Measurement is mostly around customer attitudes and functional transactions, i.e. satisfaction, with little awareness of emotional relationship drivers. The organization has a principally traditional, hierarchical, top-down management model, with “chimneyed” or “smokestack” communication (goes up or down, but not horizontal), with some evidence of teaming (mostly in areas of complaint resolution).

Customer Focus
Customers are both known and valued, down to the individual level, and they are recognized as having different needs, both functional and emotional. The customer life cycle is front-and-center; and performance measurement is much more about emotion and value drivers than satisfaction. Service and value provision is regarded as an enterprise priority; and customer stabilization and recovery are goals when problems or complaints arise. Communication and collaboration with customers, between employees, and between employees and customers is featured. Management model and style is considerably more horizontal, with greater emphasis on teaming to improve customer value processes.

It’s notable that, at this more evolved and advanced stage of enterprise customer-centricity, complaints are thought of more in terms of a life cycle component, and recovery is more of a strategy than a resolution.

Customer Obsession
Throughout the organization, customer needs and expectations—especially those that are emotional—are well understood, and response is appropriate (and often proactive).

Everyone is involved in providing value to customers—from C-suite to front-line—and everyone understands his/her role. Customer behavior is recognized as essential to enterprise success, and optimal relationships are sought.

Performance measurement is focused, and shared, on what most monetizes customer behavior (loyalty, emotion and communication metrics—such as brand-bonding and advocacy—replace satisfaction and recommendation).

Customer service (along with pipelines and processes) is an enterprise priority, and seen as a vital, and profitable, element of value delivery.

The management model is far more horizontal, replacing traditional hierarchy; and there is an emphasis on teaming and inclusion of customers to create or enhance value.

Companies that are customer-obsessed, and what makes them both unique and successful, have been extensively profiled by consultants and the business press. Often, they go so far as to create emotionally driven, engaged and even branded experiences for their customers, strategically differentiating them from their peers.

In addition, these companies focus on the complete customer life cycle, and much more on retention, loyalty and risk mitigation (and even winback) than acquisition. Support experiences are strategic, nimble and seamless, and often omnichannel. Multiple sources of data are used to develop insights. Recognizing the information needs of their customers, they invest in altruistic content creation (over advertising); and they communicate proactively and in as personalized a manner as possible

Customer obsession, what I refer to as “inside-out” customer-centricity, has been a frequent subject of my blogs and articles: One of Albert Einstein’s iconic quotes reflects the complete dedication of resources and values needed for an organization to optimize its relationships with customers: “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master.” Mastery requires, as well, a storehouse of experience coming from experimentation; so, just like in the pole vault and high jump, we can expect that the customer-centricity bar will continue to be raised.

4 Things Mobile Users Need

With the speed at which mobile technology and innovation is occurring these days, it’s almost impossible to keep up. With more and more consumers adopting smartphones or tablets and relying on them in everyday shopping decisions, it’s put them in the driver’s seat. As a business owner, it’s your job to keep up.

With the speed at which mobile technology and innovation is occurring these days, it’s almost impossible to keep up.

With more and more consumers adopting smartphones or tablets and relying on them in everyday shopping decisions, it’s put them in the driver’s seat. As a business owner, it’s your job to keep up.

The best way to keep up with mobile consumers is to understand their needs.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about an interview I had with Brad Frost, a thought leader in the responsive design community. He broke down what is essentially the mobile hierarchy of needs.

He used the pictured pyramid to discuss a mobile user’s needs as it relates to a mobile website; however, I believe these needs apply to more than just mobile Web …

In fact, I think these four needs are key to business success when integrating mobile into the business.

1. Access

At the foundation of the pyramid, you have Access. As Frost will tell you, this means giving the users what they want. When we’re talking about mobile Web, this essentially means giving them the info they are looking for. If they came to your site for tips on cooking the perfect steak … they should be able to find that.

As for overall mobile strategy, you need to consider what your mobile customer needs. Can you give them access to tools that will help them in their lives? Can you give access to specials or coupons while they are on the go?

Access is the first and most important component of success with mobile.

2. Interaction

As Frost mentioned in our conversation, interaction usually results in navigation as it pertains to your mobile website.

Simply, can the user get around your site to accomplish the desired result?

When considering your overall strategy, creating campaigns that allow consumers to interact with you and your business will often lead to deeper engagement and increased conversion opportunities.

3. Performance

Performance is often overlooked—mainly because marketers make too many assumptions about our user.

Your users won’t always have the fastest Internet connection and, despite that, expect your site to load faster than the desktop, although that rarely happens when looking at most mobile sites vs. their desktop counterparts.

Your mobile strategy should be focused on performance, as well. When I think of performance from a strategic standpoint, I think of giving the users what they want as fast and efficiently as possible at my lowest cost.

4. Enhancement

At the top of the pyramid, we have enhancement.

As Frost explained, mobile is inherently different from desktop. Mobile browsers can do things that desktop browsers cannot.

If your customer needs to complete a mobile Web form, you can offer your user different keyboards to help provide important info, such as a phone number.

When it comes to strategy, it’s important to remember mobile is different. Thus, you must consider how you can leverage that in reaching your goals. Can you use location or the accelerometer to give extra value to your customers as you begin to better understand their context?

Whether you’re developing a mobile website or looking for guides as you develop a winning mobile strategy, moving forward with the hierarchy of mobile needs in mind puts you in the best position to succeed.

As a small business owner, this can be your advantage. Because, quite frankly … many big brands fail to do this today.

Now it’s your turn … What are you doing to satisfy your customer’s mobile needs?

Can Micro Social 6-Second Videos Work for Direct Marketers?

Is it really possible to apply direct marketing principles to those new “micro social” 6-second videos? … And expect to monetize it? We’re about to find out, and we’d like to invite you to get on board with the campaign test with your ideas. In turn, we’ll share with you the results and statistics we’ll gather from email blasts, Facebook posts, YouTube views, and ultimately sales performance. You may know about Twitter’s latest foray into “micro social” with 6-second videos on Vine, and

Is it really possible to apply direct marketing principles to those new “micro social” 6-second videos (like Twitter’s Vine)? … And expect to monetize it? We’re about to find out, and we’d like to invite you to get on board with the campaign test with your ideas. In turn, we’ll share with you the results and statistics we’ll gather from email blasts, Facebook posts, YouTube views, and ultimately sales performance. You may know about Twitter’s latest foray into “micro social” with six-second videos on Vine, and if you’re like us, you shake your head and ask, “really? Who would do that and why?” Moreover, is there a way to make money from this?

Our opinions on such wild concepts, however, don’t matter. Results are what drive us as direct marketers. So rather than pour cold water over a new tool, we decided to dive into it to see if we could make it work. We’re about to test the concept and find out if we can make it a success. We’ll report on what’s happening over the next few weeks and in April we’ll have the final results.

(If the video isn’t just above this line, click here to view it.)

This six-second video test starts next week, so it’s early in the campaign with time to adapt and adjust. And that’s where your ideas can come in. The campaign extends into early April, allowing plenty of time to adjust it along the way.

But there is a twist: because the organization we’re testing this concept for doesn’t have a large Twitter following, we figured, heck, why not create short video blasts that can reside on YouTube, Facebook, and a web landing page (where we already have a large audience), and see what happens.

We invite your participation in formulating this test by answering a few questions (along with other questions and suggestions you think of) in the comments section below. Here’s how you can participate:

  • If you were in charge of marketing this 6-second series of videos, what would you do?
  • What would you put on the screen of these 6-second videos? What about other production ideas?
  • What would you do to expand the reach beyond the organization’s email list and Facebook presence?
  • Would you use YouTube annotations?
  • Would you use Facebook promoted posts? Or Facebook pay-per-click ads?
  • What other social media options would you try to expand the reach?
  • For every 100 fans, what would you project engagement levels to be?
  • What percentage sales increase over last year’s performance would you expect for this campaign to be considered a success?
  • What other key performance indicators, or KPI’s, would you use to evaluate the sales results of this campaign?

Please share your ideas in the comments section below, or email me directly. We’ll keep you updated in our future blog posts, and we’ll find out together if all of this worked. If it’s a bust, we’ll tell you that, too.

With so much new coming into our marketing world, the more we share successes and failures with each other, the more effective and profitable we’ll all be.

Turnaround Tired Direct Marketing Campaigns With Video

Online video marketing has the ability to transform and turnaround a tired direct marketing campaign. We wouldn’t make this claim if we hadn’t witnessed a 20 percent lift in sales from an integrated campaign using video. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you may recall how we took you inside a successful video marketing program for a performing arts organization in October. At that time, we were testing a “proof of concept” of video marketing

Online video marketing has the ability to transform and turnaround a tired direct marketing campaign. We wouldn’t make this claim if we hadn’t witnessed a 20 percent lift in sales from an integrated campaign using video. If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you may recall how we took you inside a successful video marketing program for a performing arts organization in October. At that time, we were testing a “proof of concept” of video marketing to sell tickets to a Fall performance.

Because the proof of concept using video worked, we applied this approach during November and December to promote the organization’s Christmas shows.

We’re delighted to report that this latest online video campaign worked, lifting sales by nearly 20 percent over last year. And it wasn’t just ticket sales that were impacted. Product sales at the event broke new records, too.

Because the proof of concept in the Fall worked, it gave confidence to the organization to commit to significant changes in marketing direction for the Christmas season.

A series of five “behind the curtain” videos were created to create curiosity in the upcoming performances, interspersed with three “music” videos where the product was, in effect, given away.

A primary advertising channel (and expense) for the organization in prior years—radio—was dropped entirely.

Email marketing was leveraged in a big way because the videos gave purpose to frequent messaging. The previously established Facebook “group” approach wasn’t robust enough for marketing purposes, so we started all over with a Facebook “page.” Twitter and Pinterest played a role. Direct mail remains an important vehicle because the demographics of the group. This was a true multi-media, offline and online direct marketing campaign.

There was some concern that we would “oversaturate” to the installed base of thousands of patrons on the email list and they would unsubscribe in droves. Or that we would “over post” on Facebook and turn off fans who would “unlike” us.

Yet, because we applied sound content marketing practices, not only were patrons not alienated-they asked for more.

It was the viral effect of the video at the core of the campaign that drove engagement, and brought in new patrons to the performances that had never before heard of the group. On Facebook, using promoted posts and ads, friends of friends were introduced to the organization, and many of them came to the show.

Why did this happen? Because weaving everything around online video transformed the entire direct marketing campaign.

The turnaround of a tired effort from the past resulted in three transformations that turned the campaign around: with video, the direct marketing campaign 1. had purpose, 2. enabled frequency and 3. we could use the content marketing component of “free.”

We’ll elaborate on these three transformational components, and how we made them work, in our next blog in early January.

In the meantime, we invite you to watch this video for background about the “proof of concept” campaign from last Fall.