Calls to Action: 50 That Sell and 10 That Repel

When a customer opens your email, they usually skim it for relevant information. Subscribers typically read the first line, check out the picture and glance at your call to action. That’s why creating a compelling call to action (CTA) is so important. It’s one of the few items within your email that can draw attention and encourage the reader to act.

What makes one call to action better than another? We’re glad you asked. To help distinguish between good and bad calls to action, we’ve created a list of CTAs that sell, and a list that repels. At the end of each list, we explain why they work, or don’t work.

50 Calls to Action That Sell

We scoured inboxes and created a list of 50 CTAs that sell, and broke them up by category.

Email sign up

Seriously, sign up!
What do you have to lose? Sign up now
Hot deals in your inbox
Get our monthly newsletter
Subscribe today
Be the first to know about new arrivals
Sign up

Events

Limited seating available
You don’t want to miss this!
Save your seat now!
Will you be there?
Register now
Reserve your seat today
Join us

Service-based businesses

Schedule a service call now
Call us for free demo
Limited time offer
Save on classes
Book your next appointment now
Book ahead and receive 10% off
Make holiday cleaning simple
Save on your membership

Retail

Shop now!
Check out this sale
Claim your coupon today
Get your discount code now
Want a sneak peek at this sale?
Save now
Explore new arrivals
Find a store
Download now
Shop clearance

Social media

Follow us
Check us out on Facebook
Vote now
Enter the contest
Yes, I want a shot at winning
Give us your feedback
How’d we do? Yelp it

Content

Learn more
Keep reading
Read more on our blog
More tips and tricks
Take the quiz
Download now
Read the ebook
Read full story

Referrals

Share with your friends or family!
Refer a friend and claim your deal
Love to share? Please do

Why These Calls to Action Sell

Descriptive and informative

All of the calls to action are descriptive and provide enough information for subscribers to act. You don’t even need to read the entire email to understand its purpose.

Urgent language

Calls to action should encourage an instant reaction. All of the CTAs above use urgent language to do just that. Words like “now,” “today” and “limited time offer” show a need to act immediately.

Creative

There are a few traditional calls to action like “shop now” and “read this post,” but the list also has quite a few original ideas too. For example, “Love to share? Please do” isn’t a call to action that you see every day. It’s okay to think out-of-the-box and be creative when you write a call to action.

10 Calls to Action That Repel

Now for the not-so-great calls to action. Here’s a list of 10 CTAs that could repel your customers.

Click here
Shop
Review
Get our custom report
Next
Add your contact info
Continue
Get it later
Go
www.YourEntireWebsite.com 

Why These Calls to Action Repel

Lack of information

Most of the calls to action on this list don’t provide any real information. For example, what does the call to action “continue” mean? Is it encouraging a customer to continue to a website? Is a customer supposed to continue shopping? Or should a subscriber continue on to a brand’s Facebook page? There just isn’t enough information to inspire a customer to act.

Not focusing on the customer

The call to action “Get our custom report” focuses on the business, not the customer. A call to action should focus on the customer. In this case, it’s better for the call to action to explain how the report helps a customer. For example, “Download now to increase your traffic” is a better call to action because it defines the value of the report to the customer.

Bad practices

Some of the calls to action are just bad habits. You don’t need to tell customers to “click here” anymore; everyone understands the concept of clicking on a link.

You want customers to act quickly so why would you ever use a call to action that says “get it later?”

You don’t need to write out your entire website address. Instead, just create a call to action that says, “Learn more on our website.”

Conclusion

Remember, a call to action is one of the most vital components of your email. Take some time to create one that’s descriptive, creative and encourages customers to act fast.

 

This article was written by Lisa Furgison from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


10 Keys to Developing an Agile Brand Strategy

We live in uniquely uncertain times for brands. According to brand strategist Rod Parkes, in a discussion on The Evolving Meaning of Brands, “The meaning of a brand literally depends on how you look at it.” He cites a number of brands as examples, including Google. He says,

“Internet users see Google as a search engine company, but from a business perspective it is at heart an advertising company… So the meaning of the Google brand differs depending on whether you are a search engine user or a potential advertiser.”

The point is, the consumer defines the brand. This means brand strategy must account for constantly altering perspectives—a high level of uncertainty.

In military strategy, if you are unsure of the terrain ahead, then mobility is your key strategy. In volatile market conditions, branding is no different. Agility and responsiveness, adaptability and rapid reactivity are essential traits for market survival. Consequently, the brand strategy process must become faster, less linear, more flexible, and more collaborative.

  1. 1+1>2 = Working in Parallel

All parts of the brand strategy process should proceed in parallel rather than in series; this delivers results greater than the sum of their parts

Agile thinking rejects the overly linear step-by-step framework in favour of combining tasks or performing them in parallel whenever possible to accelerate the branding process. Ideas can come from anywhere.

Whereas traditional brand strategies will say that the process starts with research which informs the strategy which in turn informs creative development, agile thinking turns this on its head and says that any part can inform any other part.

A great visual can inspire the brand strategy. An idea in the brand strategy can lead to a breakthrough in the research. Working in parallel is a core tenet that underlies all of the other keys below.

  1. Multidisciplinary Collaboration

The client and brand consultancy become one integrated team

Typically, a branding team will consist of the marketing team on the client’s side, with limited input from the CEO, and 3-4 brand consultants from the agency. The team presents strategies that need to be approved rank by rank within the company.

The essence of the agile branding approach is forming one team with all the decision-makers present—the agency and client work closely together. Instead of each task being a time-consuming separate link in a long chain of command and approval, a cross-disciplinary team works together to bring the brand to life in real time, cutting months off the process.

  1. Overlapping Thinking and Action

Involve design as early as possible to ensure the message is transported to every cell of the brand

A key aspect of agile strategy development is combining thinking (analysis and strategy) and action (creative design and prototyping) into a single process—this ensures every great idea is actionable from the outset.

When strategists and designers work together to evolve a result jointly, the process is not only faster, but frequently yields unexpected insights. In many organisations this may mean having the product developer, web developers, branding team and marketing team all working together.

  1. Rapid Prototyping

Creating better results though an iterative process

This is an agile process of creating and releasing beta versions of the brand strategy. It starts by building several branding models and positioning directions and assessing the feasibility and implications of each in real time.

This means that each time the team meets, it’s for a prototyping workshop. Select team members based on their ability to collaborate and push ideas across the finish line. Egos, and anyone sitting on the sidelines disparaging others’ ideas, need to be removed from the team as early in the process as possible. Continually improve with each meeting and turn the process into common company practice.

  1. Designing your Brand as an Experience

People remember experiences better than brands

Every point of contact your customers have with your brand is an experience—an opportunity to inspire and delight. Specifically design touchpoints as an engaging experience that reflects your brand’s personality and message. Outline every touchpoint in the rapid prototyping process, and run every idea through the filter of each touchpoint in real time.

  1. Separating Principles from Features

Keep your focus on the high level principles of the brand, and the tactical details will fall easily into place

Today’s brands must be flexible—evolving to meet rapidly changing consumer needs—but this doesn’t mean a brand is infinitely malleable, or it would lose all meaning. Identify and preserve the core principle of the brand—the unalterable brand promise that the customer can rely on over time—while leaving all other facets in constant evolution.

  1. Finding your Unique Buying Tribe

Customers like to buy – not to be sold

Customers want to be better humans and follow higher-order wishes and values. They seek satisfaction through and while purchasing. They create unique buying tribes to combine and pursue their wishes—creating new dynamics. For example, social listening and similar online analytics allow you a fast track to find out who your specific customer groups are.

Brands reflect personalities, and consumers tend to like brands that they see as an extension of their own personality. The task for brands becomes less one of defining the brand than of identifying the customer group that identifies with the brand and letting them define it—managing the brand to meet their needs and aspirations.

In this scenario, those who share the same personality traits are potential recruits to the tribe. This enables lifestyle brands to sell on the basis of their unique personality rather than having to compete on the traditional and overcrowded battlefield of heritage and high-quality craftsmanship.

  1. Monitoring in Real Time and Recalibrating

Harness social listening, and doubleclick and other analytics

Most new brands conduct extensive consumer research before launch, but don’t assume those findings will remain valid forever. Three months is the data half-life for many industries.

Data mining and other analytical tools can keep your knowledge of your consumers up to date, facilitating rapid response when their needs and wishes change. This means any agile strategy team needs to be tech-savvy and on top of analytics on a daily basis—using it as a primary navigation tool for beta version development.

  1. Internal Alignment

An inspired workforce = greater profits

Ensure that the agile strategy development is transported to every cell of your organisation. Organisations that have engaged staff well versed in the new brand strategy grow profits much faster and outperform competitors. This means keeping the whole company in the progress loop and training staff at every brand strategy release.

  1. Mobile First

Design for people on the go with a message that is granular

Today’s markets consist of people on the go. In many countries, especially emerging markets, mobile devices have overtaken desktop computers as the dominant channel for Internet access. Ensure that your brand message can reach potential audiences across multiple communication devices with a granular message.

Social insights to inform product development, campaign content, and measure campaign success are increasingly important. But getting the data organized and working for you isn’t as easy- it requires designing a purpose, involving the right people, choosing a platform, and developing or refining processes. Learn how social insights can move the needle on business objectives across the organization with our webinar on the topic.

This article was written by Daniel Matthews from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

 

 

Brand Crisis or False Alarm: Learning from the Backlash on Coca Cola’s One-Brand Redesign

Last week, Coca-Cola announced a package redesign driven by its One-Brand strategy. Criticism was swift. Did Coke blur the product lines too much? Did a powerhouse brand just make a massive blunder on par with its infamous New Coke campaign?

It doesn’t take much to push PR pros (and audiences at large) into fight or flight mode. But before we spend our PR budgets fighting the wrong fires, we should always step back and make a proper media intelligence sweep. Here’s how we’d go about assessing the response to Coca-Cola’s redesign.

CokeNewLook.pngMonitor media and social channels to uncover brand mentions, their reach, and public sentiment.

We used sentiment analysis to scan one year’s worth of Coca-Cola news coverage. We found the dates with the most circulated bad news, then drilled down for the corresponding headlines.

CokeNewsSentiment.pngCoke’s recent announcement did not generate its worst spikes in negative sentiment this past year. The top three were in May, October, and then February. What caused them?

The Best of Times and the Worst of Times

Some stories were negative in scope, but nonetheless showed Coke as a positive influence amid the drama—see how the big sponsors responded to the FIFA scandal in October 2015. A savvy comms person might play up the company’s core values.

Other stories reported the negative impact of external forces—when a strong dollar could mean weaker profits—which might have affected all competitors in the same space or multiple sectors. Without getting too educational, a comms person might explain to investors that a strong dollar means bigger purchases of raw materials and real estate abroad, or a net positive investment in operations and infrastructure. Growth doesn’t just come from revenue, it also takes reinvestment and future planning.

Once we found the juiciest headlines, we compared the share of voice (SOV) of each story among all negatively scored articles.

CokeNegNews.pngHere we pull in all negative news and ignore positive stories.

Media intelligence identified the worst news of the year for Coke: sales of Diet Coke are tanking. With the public stance on artificial sweeteners, that isn’t a surprise; however, were a media frenzy to develop over declining sales, it might be mitigated with a campaign on naturally sweetened products or promoting Coke’s Dasani brand.

Gone Fishin’ for Social

Before calling it a day, we dove into the sea of social media and found the biggest fish of the year.

Coke_Exposure_NewsSocial.png

Here we look at the most negative news story on social media.

We clicked on the surge in social mentions and saw that a Muslim passenger aboard a United Airlines flight was denied her request for an unopened can of Diet Coke. This piece on racial profiling struck the biggest nerve with consumers according to our sentiment analysis, but Coke wasn’t directly at fault for it.

Tahera.pngCoke stayed out of the United Airlines controversy. Of course, they’ve made it easy on their portal for consumers to take sides by, say, sharing a coke with the passenger.

The latest media criticism was that Coke’s redesigned packaging will make it harder for consumers to find their preferred variant on the shelves. It remains to be seen whether this is true, because it’s never an issue until it affects the bottom line. For now, we’ll keep comparing news and social, comparing and investigating spikes. It’s good to not get baited by sensationalist headlines. And with social media monitoring, brands can check whether the smoke and the fire are caused by the same issue.

How to Use the New Twitter Moments Feature for Your Business

Twitter Has Launched Moments and You Can Use It for Your Business

When you logged on to your Twitter account this week, you should have noticed a new option in the tool bar. It’s the new Twitter Moments feature. (Look for the lightening bolt.)

Before adding Moments, Twitter users could see what was new in their own network or look at the trending hashtags and jump in on various conversations. But now the Moments feature shares the best of all across Twitter in an instant, according to the Twitter blog.

Twitter rolled out the feature in the U.S. and targeted iPhone and Android users, and offers as a desktop version.

How It Works

The Twitter Moments will work kind of like a breaking news feature. Twitter’s curation team will be in constant update mode and share what’s happening right now in the world. They are also allowing content from some of their content partners: Bleacher Report, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Fox News, Getty Images, Mashable, MLB, NASA, New York Times, Vogue and the Washington Post. The contributors’ list is small for now, but they plan to expand it in the near future.

How You Can Engage

There are many options to engage with Twitter Moments.

Engage with a Twitter Moment

  • Follow the main stream, or choose a topic of interest like Entertainment or Sports.
  • Click on a particular moment to learn more about what is going on.
  • Moments are heavily tied to digital content like auto-playing videos, vines, GIFs, and immersive full-bleed images.
  • Twitter fans can embed the moments onto your website or blog, or share them as a link. You can also retweet, favorite or comment on Moments. Or send it along as a Direct Message.
  • Use the Follow feature to stay on top of the event. This is perfect for tracking your favorite game or a live event, or updating your followers on an industry topic. Following a moment sends updates right to your timeline.

How to follow a Twitter Moment

How Can Small Businesses Use Moments?

As Twitter expands its list of contributors, there will be more events for business owners to engage with, and connect with the event followers. But getting started, one of the best features about Moments is it brings your target audience right to your door. Look for topics that resonate with your target audience. Follow the Moment’s fans and begin connecting.

See a moment that highlights a problem your business can solve? Connect and share your solution.

Does your business offer more content relevant to the event or topic? Connect and share!

Embed Twitter Moment’s in your content marketing, blog posts, articles, newsletters, and email campaigns.

This article was written by Jo Lynn Deal from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Successful Product Launching

No matter how amazing your products and services may be, in today’s saturated market, it still won’t get enough traction on its own merit. Even the biggest brands in the marketplace rely on amazing product launches to stay on top. One brand most well-known for this is Apple, who launched virtually every product it ever made to resounding success. Here’s how public relations specialists ensure clients build the buzz they need.

Starting Early

One production company doing this best might surprise you. In 2010, Illumination Entertainment successfully launched Despicable Me – a children’s movie attracting a following of adults and children alike.

But when Despicable Me finally hit the big screen, for many of us, this wasn’t the first time we saw it. This movie advertised as “Coming Soon!” for roughly a year or two before it finally launched. By the time it came to theaters, it developed such a buzz that many people simply had to see it. As a result, the animated film made $474.2 million in profit.

Many product launches fail because companies want to wait until they have a finished product to begin advertising. This can mean trying to create a buzz with only months or just a few weeks before launching, setting products up for failure.

Making a Grand Entrance

Today, when most people think of smartphones, they think of Apple or Samsung. But not long ago, the smartphone craze began with Blackberry. Time after time, Blackberry pushed the boundaries of what people expected from phones, and perhaps their last great product launch was the Blackberry Torch.

Why? Because the phone made a statement and the ad emphasized it with a grand entrance. Blackberry, in response to the touch-screen craze Apple began, finally gave users a bigger and better screen. In the ad, they seemed to play Apple’s game well enough. Then, when you least expected it, a keyboard slowly descended from inside the phone; allowing users to enjoy the absolute best of both worlds.

Initially, people were reluctant to switch back from the iPhone, or to upgrade from older Blackberrys. However, by the fourth quarter of the year of release, RIM shipped out a record amount of smartphones, showing just how far a good release can go.

Know Your End Users

Whether it’s a product or service, you must know your target market. This might prove tricky for companies new to the market, as the purpose of a product may change over time. Just take a look at Viagra, and how it changed from heart medication to a recommended treatment for ED.

Still, companies who did proper market research should know who’s most likely to use their product, and where to focus their marketing dollars. Apple built their reputation as the cool kid on the block and the best friend of the bourgeoisie struggling artist.

As a result, Apple commonly grabs the attention of the youthful, the creative, and those willing to spend extra money on a phone sharing virtually the same specs as less expensive brands. In fact, most true techies know that arch rival Samsung – often marketed as the second best of the smartphone market – makes most of the iPhone’s main parts, like the A4 Chip, flash memory, RAM, and even its retina display.

Of course, there’s much more to successful product launches, but keeping these three key factors in mind will take any product launch to the next level.

Starting early builds familiarity and piques curiosity. Making a grand entrance like a young maiden at her coming out party in days of old, makes a statement to the audience and captures their interest. And finally, knowing your end users or target market allows you to tailor your campaign, so the product seems most appealing to the niche you wish to reach.

PR with Influence

Influencer PR and marketing has been around from the beginning. Remember all the times doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc., have promoted products or concepts. But in the social media world we live in, the number of influencers has expanded. Essentially there are five types of individuals who have influence on the consumer’s buying decisions as outlined by Ed Keller and Jon Berry in Influencers.

These include trendsetters, activists, those who are connected, those who are looked up to by others in the field, and those who have multiple areas of interest and knowledge.

Product Launches

When a PR firm prepares to launch a new product or campaign, influencers can offer an effective jump-start to the process. But some research needs to be done before that happens. Determining the most effective influencers in the field is vital. That may include magazine editors, bloggers, journalists, stars in that field, and more. As an example, if the client is a fashion designer introducing a new line, then contacting the above types of contacts with pull in the specific area that designer wants to sell and allowing them to attend an exclusive fashion show where they can mingle with each other and enjoy an excellent meal could be a good venue.

Because fashion is a very diverse sector, care should be given when choosing the guests. Inviting those known for haute couture to a sportswear show would be a waste of everyone’s time. But a knowledgeable PR specialist with good contacts in that world will know who to invite for specific occasions. During such an event, introduction to crafted hashtags can be made, and encouragement for attendees to use them as they speak about the line pushes a greater awareness of the product to consumers.

Providing attendees with a packet containing information, pictures, presentation ideas, etc. gives them resources for after the event, especially if taking pictures is not allowed, which might be the case for a fashion designer with avant-garde ideas.

Create an Influencer

Another way to use influencer PR includes creating an influencer from the head of the client company. Take a pharmaceutical company who has a new drug ready for the market. The CEO or their chief of R&D might be one of the best informed and educated people on that drug and the problem it will be used to treat. As such, he can become an influencer. But if no one knows who he is or what he has to offer, it lacks the necessary punch. So the first step in that influencer campaign would be to get him known to journalists and others through interviews with high-level sources known to the industry or the general public such as the Wall Street Journal.

Remember the Consumer as Influencer

Some of the best PR companies receive comes from friends and family of the person considering a new purchase. Make sure your customers are happy with the product and service you offer. Figure out what they want most and a way to ensure they receive it. You’ll not only have return customers, but you’ll also see new customers from recommendations. This may take more time than the initial PR campaign, but the service and product meeting the needs of customers becomes the follow-up punch to keep the business moving forward.

Learn how a technology solution can help you maximize the quantity and quality of product launching with our e-book, Five Steps to Smarter PR Campaigns. Develop stronger media relations to deliver measurable business results for your earned media coverage.

This article was written by Ronn Torossian from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

 

 

Crisis Management: Help! My Facebook Page Is Full of Reputation Attacks!

Facebook can be a wonderful tool for business promotion. With a little bit of time and effort, you can share the silly and sassy side of your company culture with hundreds or even thousands of your fans, living close by or hundreds of miles away.

But, Facebook can also be an intensely dangerous site, in terms of your company’s online reputation. Those same people who could like, share or compliment your company could write nasty reviews, slap up unflattering snaps or curse through your comments. In short, you could log in one morning and find that your page is the nexus of a very serious reputation problem.

What should you do next? I’m here to help you through it.

Step 1: Gather the Data

Find out as much as you can about the person attacking you, and nail down when the attacker last had some interaction with your company. Is the attacker a former employee? A one-time customer? A competitor?

Then, gather the facts about the issue in question. If the person is complaining about a specific employee or staffer, talk to that person about the event. If the attack has to do with a product, talk to the supplier and determine if this is a common complaint.

As you research, get as much specific data as you possibly can. Look for dates, times, names, prices and locations. All of those facts can help you to combat a rumor, and that might shut the attack down, pronto.

Step 2: Block the Attacker

Once you’ve gathered your data, block the attacker from writing on your page. You’re about to go public with your side of the story, and you want to make sure that your responses don’t become opportunities to launch new and annoying secondary attacks. Block the original attacker, and craft a watch list of anyone who approved of the original attack.

Step 3: Issue a Response

Once you’ve created a safe space for your words, craft a comprehensive post that details exactly what happened to prompt the attack. Be as specific as you possibly can, and keep the language professional. You’re not trying to fan the flames, but you are trying to bring the truth to light.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you run a pet shop, and some of the fish you’ve sold to a customer died within a few days of transport. Your response could read something like this: “Recently, we saw posts about fish on our page, and we were just as disturbed about the issue as many of our customers were. So we did some investigation. On Saturday, this customer came to buy three fish from us, and after careful selection, we netted three healthy goldfish for him to take home. They were placed in a plastic bag with water at 65 degrees F. The customer was told to take the fish home and put them into his aquarium within 30 minutes, floating the bag for at least an hour before releasing the fish. The customer signed an agreement to follow the rules. But the customer left his fish in the bag for an hour in a warm car, and then did not float the fish in the bag. We’re distressed that these fish died, but we cannot be responsible for customer choices once they leave our store. We thank the community for ongoing support.”

This is a long post, but it’s the detail that makes the company seem reasonable and correct. The attack just seems silly now.

Step 4: Post Something Positive (and Pay for Promotions)

Once you’ve addressed the issue, create a post that has nothing at all to do with the controversy. Release a new promotional set of pricing, or share a photo of a staffer crafting something wonderful. Don’t address the original controversy anywhere at all in this post, and pay to promote it.

You’re not trying to hide the issue with this post. What you are trying to do is point out that your company is more than the terrible thing your attacker is claiming. You’re trying to remind your fans that you do good things and that people tend to like you. It’s a way to shift the conversation in a much more positive direction.

Step 5: Hide or Delete Secondary Attacks

If you see more attacks on your page, either as responses to an original attack or as new responses to new things on your page, delete those comments and block the commenter. You’ve addressed the issue already, and there’s no need to keep repeating your innocence. Simply delete, block and move on.

Step 6: Repeat as Necessary

Hopefully, with this approach, you’ll neutralise the original attack and get your page moving in the right direction. But it’s possible that you’ll see new attacks in the weeks and months that follow. If you do, follow this same set of steps to clean up the damage. And be sure to watch your page closely, so you’ll see new attacks as soon as they start.

To learn more, download our ebook Media Intelligence for Crisis Communications.

crisis-comm-ebook.png

 

This article was written by Jean Dion from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Build an Employee Brand Ambassador Program

Consumers no longer trust in the marketing content brands release into the world. In fact, recent research found only 55 percent of consumers considered a company’s marketing materials to be a trusted source of information when making a buying decision.

Fortunately, you can get your marketing message in front of the right person at the right time AND in the right way. How?

Employee brand ambassadors. Employees are well-positioned to act as the bridge between a company and potential customers.

Ambassador_employee.png

Benefits of an Employee Brand Ambassador Program

Although any company employee will have a perceived bias for their company’s product or service, employee brand ambassadors from outside the sales and marketing teams will come across as providing a more authentic point of view. Additionally, the fact that they are willing to endorse a product and personally vouch for a brand validates that brand.

When cultivating employee support and advocacy on behalf of your brand through a formal employee brand ambassador program, the extra training provided to brand ambassadors—including ensuring they are kept up-to-date on the latest content and product enhancements—can benefit existing customers as much as prospective clients. The same cues that employees watch for with prospects can help them provide exceptional service to existing customers, including providing them with new tools for software adoption, adding a module to address a customer’s new business focus, or even a hands-on refresher session on your product’s functionality. The more employees know about the resources available to them, the better they can create a personalized and curated experience. This personalization can, in turn, strengthen and increase the longevity of their customers’ brand relationship.

Best Practices for Launching an Employee Brand Ambassador Program

Although employee brand ambassadors can be a successful part of marketing, there needs to be some groundwork to ensure a successful brand ambassador program. Start with doing an employee engagement pulse-check. If your employees are unmotivated, a brand ambassador program is unlikely to take off. And with only 32 percent of U.S. employees engaged in 2015, according to Gallup, (a number that’s been flat since 2000), it’s likely that most companies’ uninspired workforce won’t support a brand advocacy effort. Disengaged employees are not optimal ambassadors for your brand’s story.

But, once you’ve identified a core group of engaged employees, a small pilot program with internal brand advocates can likely bring others onboard. Pinpoint the natural leaders, regardless of title, who consistently drive collaboration on their teams. Reach out to them and gather input on what a compelling brand advocacy program would look like, then put their suggestions into action on a small scale. For example, you can start with a weekly email highlighting a few key pieces of content and provide click-to-share links that can quickly populate a message on the social channel of the employee’s choice. The easier you make it for employees to share content and engage with prospects, the more likely it is they will participate.

Untitled design (10).png

Common Employee Brand Ambassador Pitfalls to Avoid

You have an engaged employee base and an awesome product, so the employee ambassador program is guaranteed to be a raging success, right? That depends entirely on its execution.

I worked with one leader whose point of view around employee advocacy was, “if they (employees) don’t want to share our content, then they shouldn’t work here.” If that’s your point of view around employee brand advocacy, I encourage you to take a step back. Is there significant value in an entry-level customer support employee sharing your bottom of the funnel analyst report in their Facebook stream? Possibly, but it’s more likely that they’re annoying their friends with irrelevant content.

Instead of having an expectation that employees are sharing all of your content across their channels, ask them to share the content that most resonates with them. Some may choose to share projects they worked on and are proud of while others may share job listings or the latest blog posts. Allow employees to take on only what feels like a natural fit.

Speaking of good fit, although employee advocacy platforms have the benefit of making it quick and easy for employees to share corporate content, they may also result in a deluge of status update spam. There’s nothing authentic or compelling about a prospect seeing four of your employees posting the same canned message and link in unison across social platforms. Or even worse, a company leader whose “set it and forget it” approach means they’ve shared the identical generic pitch for the annual customer conference every day for a month on their social channels. There’s a fine line between automation being a helper and hurting your brand. Whenever possible, make it easy for employees to customize their social messaging when sharing content, so you don’t fall into this trap.

And last, but not least, make sure there’s something in it for the employees for participating, above-and-beyond corporate profits. Award the most active employee champions of your brand with a symbolic award or even, an invitation to your annual President’s Club. Use a leaderboard to make each employee’s contribution transparent and encourage friendly competition. In these small ways, you can integrate brand ambassadorship into the company culture, and increase its effectiveness.

For a head start in getting your  employee ambassador program up and running, download Meltwater’s employee social media playbook template.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 9.35.58 AM.png

 

How to Use Hashtags on Social Networks Other Than Twitter

The hashtag has proven to be an effective model for businesses and individuals to keep themselves engaged in relevant conversations while tracking their social media reach. Though most people associate the hashtag system with Twitter, it wound up becoming so effective that a myriad of other social networks have adopted this scheme. To jump on the bandwagon, it helps to understand the way hashtags are supported on common networks you may use.

Hashtags on Facebook

Facebook hashtags are a little more unique in how they unite concepts. You can theoretically add an unlimited amount of hashtags to any post. While this sounds like it’s excellent for maximising your reach, that’s actually a little bit deceiving.

Facebook doesn’t allow a direct search for hashtags through its search bar. The only way to find posts related to a hashtag is to click on the hashtag when you see it. There is a shortcut, although it’s not promoted. If you manually visit facebook.com/hashtag/(search term), you will then be directed to a page where you see all results in aggregate, with posts by those in your network showing up closest to the top. Facebook hashtags tend to work best when you’re attempting to cash in on something that’s already viral.

Hashtags on Instagram

Instagram caps hashtags at thirty per post, which is more than enough to get your point across. If you left out some hashtags you feel are important, you can retroactively place them in the comments section of your photo, and Instagram will consider them valid. Instagram’s search results display in ascending order, so newest posts will show at the top.

On Instagram, people utilise hashtags to find people they have something in common with. There are also a number of games and challenges that involve posting with a specific hashtag, and the people who participate in those often look at what others have posted. They’re also interested in finding people in their own areas, so using hashtags that reflect your current location will also boost your visibility.

Hashtags on Tumblr

Tumblr is essentially a blog site, so hashtags work like general post tags. This makes Tumblr’s hashtags unique, because you’re able to include numbers, spaces, and characters which are forbidden by most other social networks.

Tumblr is a big place to investigate trends and curate content. Because of this, people will often spend a great deal of time looking at the things that have been posted under a specific hashtag. If you’re following Tumblr’s trends, just adding the proper hashtags can direct tons of visitors to your blog.

Hashtags on Flickr

Flickr supports hashtags, but they don’t actually seem to make a difference. They don’t do anything to improve your presence and are mainly used as an organisational tool. You can add hashtags for your own personal benefit, but they’re never going to reach other users.

Hashtags on Pinterest

Much like Flickr, Pinterest supports hashtags, but you really can’t do anything with them. The search function turns the hashtag into a broad search term that won’t necessarily direct you to the content you’re looking for. It’s never a bad idea to use a hashtag for branding, but the hashtag only really serves as decoration.

Hashtags on Google Plus

This is the only network that will automate hashtags for you. When you’ve posted an update, the system will take the liberty of adding hashtags it believes are relevant to your content. These hashtags will unite you with a broader group of people that you may not already be connected with. In function, hashtags on Google Plus serve as an exploratory tool rather than a promotional trend.

Read our ebook to learn more about the potential and power of social listening.

Listen-Up-ebook-new-232x300.png

This article was written by Sophia Beirne from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Let’s Talk About Engagement – Not Loyalty

There’s often a big difference between what customers say and what they do. That’s one of the reasons why customer loyalty, usually measured by surveys, is a flawed metric. Look at customer engagement, though, and you’ll get a more valuable picture of what customers think of you – and a more powerful tool for generating profitability.

Customer loyalty has always been difficult to measure in reality, which is why Net Promoter (NPS) and Customer Loyalty Index (CLI) surveys came into their own. However, we know that what people say they’ll do is often very different from what they actually do, so loyalty scores, which only measure stated intent, can never give a true picture. As well as being subjective, customer loyalty is a “lag indicator” of business success rather than a driver, pointing to the consequence rather than the cause.

The good news is that there is a powerful alternative measure. Thanks to technology and social media, we can use customer engagement, which many studies have shown to be an effective leading indicator of both loyalty and profitability. It is not only a metric, but a powerful driver to keep customers happy, build advocacy, keep people buying from us and deliver profits.

Customer engagement is the extent of a customer’s willingness to invest his or her discretionary time with a company for mutual benefit. It reflects the depth of the relationship a customer has with a brand, each interaction builds engagement: making a purchase, reading a tweet, seeing an advert, conversation with a friend, etc.

Relevant activity builds deeper engagement and profits

This chart from Simply Measured (below) shows that the more active the brand is on social media, the more engaged customers are.

Simply Measured Q3 2014 Study

Simply Measured Q3 2014 Study

Engagement drives profits. Research by Hall and Partners shows that up to two-thirds of a brand’s profits may rely on effective consumer engagement. Another organization, PeopleMetrics, reports that companies focusing on customer engagement see a 13% increase in revenues, compared to a 36% revenue penalty for companies that get in the way of customer engagement.

Consumer marketers understand this well. The need for data analytics has always been great when dealing with thousands or millions of customer interactions. However this approach is just as important, and sometimes simpler to achieve, in the B2B world of fewer customers but deeper relationships.

What is engagement marketing? Unlike the top-down, one-way, awareness-building approach of the past, it is a more evolutionary process by which customers are encouraged to interact with and shape their communications with you. It’s more targeted and personalised, designed to stimulate people-to-people communication. It spreads ideas and ultimately builds advocacy.

B2B engagement versus communication

When I talk about customer engagement it’s important to distinguish this from communication. Both are necessary but it very much depends on your customer segment how you engage, with whom, using what tools. Here’s a mini case study from a personal project I’m involved in. This type of approach could easily be adopted in the B2B world.

I’m involved in a few local environmental and wildlife groups where I live. Well OK, I started a couple of them. Due to my involvement in these I’ve been asked for advice on another local initiative that’s been receiving a lot of anger from residents. This is a multi-million pound initiative: let’s call it Project X. So I’ve looked at Project X’s way of communicating, both the style and the content, and it’s obvious to me what’s happening and what’s gone wrong. Here’s my summary:

  • The communication has been largely one-way, from Project X to residents
  • There have been a couple of public consultation events and there is a website, so Project X expects residents to be aware of its plans
  • There is no-one on the Project X team who is responsible for communications, let alone engagement

In order to harness motivation and action by residents and all people (I’ll call them stakeholders from now on) there needs to be local engagement as well as local communication. Different approaches are needed for different stakeholders. Some need communicating to and others will need full partnership engagement.

The diagram below illustrates the relationship between stakeholder influence/power and stakeholder engagement approaches.

Stakeholder Engagement

Image reproduced with permission of T Morphy stakeholdermap.com

Each approach is valid, but suited to a specific stakeholder type. “Pull communications” are one-way and depend on stakeholders deciding to access the information. At the other end of the pyramid, partnership engagement approaches give shared accountability, decision making, joint learning and actions.

Project X hasn’t thought this through. I think it should first identify its different stakeholder groups, then for each one, answer:

  • What’s their attitude and behaviour?
  • How will Project X affect them?
  • What influence can they have on Project X?

Then, they need to:

  • Use engagement approaches that are appropriate to each stakeholder group
  • Make sure the communication plan isn’t over-reliant on push or pull communications
  • Spending enough engagement time with influential stakeholders and not too much with less influential stakeholders
  • Replace costly push communication methods like printed materials with cheaper options like email, social media, online surveys or online newsletters.

The next challenge

Today’s challenge in both B2B and B2C is less about measuring loyalty after the event but assessing ongoing engagement with customers and creating strong, engaging brand experiences. The key here is creating the experiences pre-emptively, so rather than designing from where you are now, design what journey you want to take the customer on. This should match what they will engage with and what you want to achieve as a business. Now that’s the next article.

Delving into engagement is at the heart of what Meltwater does, read more about how media intelligence can help with your B2B and B2C efforts.

 

This article was written by Cindy Barnes from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 4.14.41 PM.png

 

Non-Marketing Employees: An Untapped Content Resource

Content marketing is a newish role, and we can’t always find that person with a journalism background. So what do you do? Spotting and mentoring talent has become an important skill for content marketing managers.

Creating engaging content continues to be a focus for content marketers, with 2016 Content Marketing Institute research citing it as the top priority for B2B (72 percent)  and B2C (56 percent) marketers. Content as a priority is due, in large part, to the difficulty in having the resources to create compelling content that maps to the varying stages of the buyer’s journey.

Many marketers pursue increasing their freelance writing budgets or syndicating content to fill those gaps. And although those are great tactics, they overlook a frequently underutilized content resource: your current staff outside of the content team.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 7.18.26 AM.png

Early in my content marketing career, I spotted a departmental administrative assistant with some extra time on her hands who had a knack for proofreading and copyediting. In fact, it turned out she had been doing significant research and rewrites for one of our team’s writers on a regular basis. Like any smart content marketer would, I sat down to talk to her about career goals and asked if she was interested in pursuing a marketing career. Once I found out that she was, I gave her bite-sized writing assignments, kept track of customer praise for her work and met with her regularly to provide mentoring and feedback.

In a few months, I was able to make the case for promoting her to a writer position on the team. Not only did this broaden our team’s writing bench strength, but it also launched her on a career path she’s still on today. As the manager who saw that initial spark, that feels great.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 6.56.00 AM.png

Who are good candidates for content mentorship? Of course, not everyone is interested in joining your content team. Many employees are happy to be right where they are with a full plate of duties. Still, I have consistently found content rock stars in a few of the same roles:

Product Managers: With insight into your product road map and a knowledge of your customer’s key issues your customers bring up, these folks can help you identify the day-to-day problems your customers face and how to fix them.

Sales Reps: Your sales team spends every day talking to prospective customers. If they’re engaging in social selling, they can be a great resource for the latest trends and news that you can build off of for your content, not to mention insights on thought leaders to quote.

Data Analysts: Whenever you see a great piece of content that involves slicing and dicing an organization’s user or customer data in a meaningful way, you’ve likely been consuming the work of a data analyst. They can help pinpoint unique and exciting data while deriving insights your customers find interesting.

Customer Success or Community Managers: If you’re looking for stories to elevate and real life examples for how your product or service is making a difference in customer lives, these are the folks who can uncover the right stories to feature.

Executive Admins: These professionals often have a better sense of what’s going on in the company—from what partnerships are in the works to what the CEO said in his most recent media interview—than anyone else. And thanks to spending the bulk of their days on executive communication activities, they typically have sharp and efficient writing skills.

Ideal Buyer: In many cases, your organization has someone in the functional role that your company sells to (B2B), or has numerous people who make up your typical consumer base. If they have access to and experience with your product or service, they’re a valuable resource for your content team.

How to start mentoring new content team members

Once you’ve identified a couple of prospective content mentees, how do you begin a mentorship relationship with them? It all starts with a conversation. Set up a private in-person meeting to talk to them about the content team’s needs and ask them about their career goals. How do their goals and your content needs overlap?

This conversation will serve as the foundation for your mentorship road map. During your initial meeting, you’ll be looking to determine what sort of role, if any, this person is interested in and how to make the most of their time. By the end of the conversation, you’ll want to know:

  • Do they have an interest in writing for the blog or creating other written resources?
  • Do they have another skill or talent, such as photography, videography or illustration, that they can use to produce content?
  • What unique perspective or information do they have that you can amplify?
  • What expertise can they contribute to the content team?

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 6.57.34 AM.png

While it may seem time-consuming, even daunting, to set up a series of meetings to recruit employees onto your team, this approach is more successful than sending out a blanket call for blog authors or another narrow, tactical request. Why? Because instead of framing your appeal through the lens of what team members can do for you, you’re approaching them from the perspective of how this opportunity can assist them in their career.

Your company culture will dictate if you will want to setup a more formal mentoring program, or if a casual approach is best. Regardless of which approach you take, a few common best practices will come into play:

  • Set clear expectations. How often will you meet? How long will the mentoring last? What is the result? Make sure both parties are aligned.
  • Define a goal, and how to get there. In this context, it could be writing a specific number of blog posts, completing an e-book, or creating a template.
  • Encourage and inspire your mentee. Invite them to content team brainstorms. Acknowledge their contributions in all-hands meetings.
  • Celebrate their success and attainment of their goals. Provide timely, constructive feedback.

For more ideas on how to increase your content team by nurturing internal talent, check out our recent infographic, Infographic: Don’t Outsource Content Creation–In-Source It! and e-book In-Sourcing Your Content Creation.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 9.54.06 AM.png