Engagement, Loyalty and Sharing Superior Experience

There’s one element of loyalty I might add that should not be overlooked: the immediacy of sharing … good and bad. But for once, let’s look at the good side of experience sharing:

customer loyaltyNext month, hundreds of marketing professionals will gather in New York to fete numerous business leaders in our field at the EDGE Awards (June 6, this is Marketing EDGE’s only national fundraising event).

Among the honorees is Hal Brierley, who recently discussed how the loyalty business hinges on meaningful engagement. It really doesn’t matter what generation you are, if a brand is not engaging its stakeholders, there can be no loyalty, right? Says Hal, “In my mind, what the consumer wants is simplicity and immediacy of rewards.”

The rise of “Zombie Malls” also says something about loyalty. The future of retail may very well depend on who can best engage, who can deliver an experience, who can reward — and how will these tangibles and intangibles manifest.

But there’s one element of loyalty I might add that should not be overlooked: the immediacy of sharing … good and bad. But for once, let’s look at the good side of experience sharing:

I was in Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store last week, midday, and on the main floor — and I thought I was in a museum. Quiet. Attentive salespersons aplenty. But hardly a shopper in sight, back among the high-end jewelry counters where I entered the building. When the elevator door opened on the shoe department, eighth floor, it was the exact opposite — a beehive of shoppers everywhere, and it seemed to be multi-generational. (Sak’s calls its shoe department, “Shoes 10022” and I’d say it’s a destination.) Maybe shoes lend themselves to physical shopping – simplicity and immediate rewards – you walk in, try them on, buy them and walk out. There was scarcely a single customer, they were in groups — this was a social shopping phenomenon.

Remote shopping, courtesy of Amazon and others, can replicate shoe-buying well enough, but even a brand like TOMS, which started online, quickly expanded to retail distribution to achieve scale. But scale doesn’t equal loyalty. I wear TOMS partly because of the social responsibility tie-in, and they’re comfortable. I’m part of a community of TOMS wearers, instantly recognizable by the heel. I know Adam Ruins Everything – so I get it, but there’s still plenty of kids in the world that appreciate a free pair of shoes, and profit isn’t evil. Affinity is tribal by nature.

Take the perfect cup of coffee … Liz Kislik’s quest for a “quality” latte is both funny and a tasteful lesson in a superior customer experience. Sometimes we’re punished when we wander from our tried-and-true. Simplicity and a 90-minute delay in rewards appears to have sealed the deal for her — but I loved the way she blogged about it, too.

So as digital transformation disrupts, killing business models and creating new ones, what can a brand do? Keep it simple, delight the customer, and reward early and often — your customers will evangelize for you.

Blogs: The Long and Short of It

Many marketers struggle over blog content—and that’s never more apparent than when you stare blankly at your screen, hoping for inspiration. According to WP Virtuoso, there are over 152 MILLION blogs on the Internet and a new blog is created somewhere in the world every half second. Of course that translates into a mishmash of quality content, so I’d like to suggest a blog amnesty program

Many marketers struggle over blog content—and that’s never more apparent than when you stare blankly at your screen, hoping for inspiration.

According to WP Virtuoso, there are over 152 MILLION blogs on the Internet and a new blog is created somewhere in the world every half second. Of course that translates into a mishmash of quality content, so I’d like to suggest a blog amnesty program. Let yourself (or your brand) off the hook; step back and evaluate what role your blog is playing in your marketing mix. Honestly scrutinize the content, carefully evaluate the time you invest to create that content and the value it’s adding to your brand—and then determine if it makes sense to continue.

A recent study from Curata on Content Marketing Tactics found that 71 percent of marketers plan to boost content marketing spend in 2014. That translates into even more articles, posts and blogs, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into quality posts.

How are posts evaluated? It depends on the topic and the writer.

If you are extremely knowledgeable about your area of business, and you know how to write and share helpful insights, then by all means, go for it.

For example, to stay abreast of industry best practices and the latest trends, I read a lot of marketing blogs. One of my favorites is from Seth Godin. The author of 17 books (many of them bestsellers), Seth was one of the founders of Yoyodyne, where he promoted the concept of permission marketing. He contends that the only way to spread the word about an idea is for that idea to earn buzz by being remarkable.

Sometimes his posts are long—600-plus words—and sometimes they’re extremely short—24 words!—but they’re always Seth’s point of view on a topic that represents his personal brand. And they get tweeted, shared and Facebook liked a LOT: 2,100 Facebook likes and 2,029 tweets alone for this pithy 62 word post on September 1:

Forgive yourself for not being the richest, the thinnest, the tallest, the one with the best hair. Forgive yourself for not being the most successful, the cutest or the one with the fastest time. Forgive yourself for not winning every round.

Forgive yourself for being afraid.

But don’t let yourself off the hook, never forgive yourself, for not caring or not trying.

Seth posts to his blog daily—whether it’s a long discussion on “Understanding substitutes” or a short one on “Who named the colors?”

So take a good long look at your own blog. What’s your point of view/brand voice? Why are you blogging? Does anyone care? Will anyone share?

Why You Should Beware the ‘Quick SEO Copywriting Fix’

The question comes up during almost every conference at which I present: “I hear what you’re saying about writing quality content. But I need immediate results. What’s a quick SEO copywriting fix I can try?”

The question comes up during almost every conference at which I present.

“I hear what you’re saying about writing quality content. But I need immediate results. What’s a quick SEO copywriting fix I can try?”

I understand this mindset. I really do. Now that the recession is easing its iron grip on marketing budgets, companies are trying to make up for lost time. Now, more than ever, forward-thinking businesses have the opportunity to make a huge impact on their search engine rankings. And they’re doing what they can, where they can—as fast as they can.

But here’s the thing. There is no “quick SEO copywriting fix.” There’s no “easy way to get to the top of the search engines” like the spam e-mails promise. You can’t wave a magic algorithmic wand and transform your copy into search engine goodness.

You just have to roll your sleeves, do the hard work and get it done.

Unfortunately, many companies fall prey to this quick fix mentality and do stupid things that mess up their SEO campaigns, branding or both. For instance:

  • Building out stand-alone “SEO pages” geared to pull rankings

  • Hiring $10/post bloggers to write keyphrase-stuffed posts

  • Tweeting incessantly about their products or services without becoming a part of the Twitter community

Although these folks feel like progress is quickly being made (“Woo-hoo, now we have 50, poorly-written posts about legal services”), what they don’t realize is the unforeseen consequences. Poorly written content doesn’t convert. “Stand-alone” pages typically are over-optimized messes that search engines ignore. Splattering your sales message all over Twitter makes your firm look like a spammer.

So, what can you do to start seeing the search results (and conversions) you crave? I am so glad you asked …

1. Evaluate your existing content. Every marketer can leverage its own low-hanging fruit and focus on what specifically matters for its site. For some sites, penning new page titles can drive amazing results. For others, keyphrase editing (adding keyphrases to existing content) may be appropriate. Consider bringing in a consultant for this part of the process. The reason? The consultant doesn’t “own” the copy and can see it with fresh eyes. Because he’s not close to it, he can notice opportunities your marketing department may not.

2. Check your keyphrase research. It’s easy to let your keyphrase research stagnate when you don’t have the time (or funds) to spend on your site. Now that you’re planning a content overhaul, it’s crucial to examine what other keyphrases opportunities you can leverage – especially keyphrases that represent the research phase of the buy cycle. Research tools like WordStream, Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker can help you see what phrases people type into the search box to find products and services like yours.

3. Develop a (workable) content schedule and budget. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your site won’t be rewritten overnight. Work on your most important pages first, and set up a schedule where you’ll work on a certain number of pages a month. Or, if you know that writing content in-house isn’t your style, hire an experienced SEO copywriter and have him help. Creating content in baby steps is completely OK – and gives you the satisfaction of seeing continued improvement.

It’s tempting to fall prey to the SEO copywriting quick fix. But when you take strategic baby steps and focus on what’s really important to your site’s success, you’ll finally realize the search ranking (and conversions) you crave.