Content Marketing

Featured

Business storytelling: what you can learn from journalists

Those who use exciting stories are captivating. However, many people make big mistakes in storytelling: they tire instead of enthusiasm. In this text, you will find the essential storytelling rules taught at journalism schools – and you will learn how to apply them to your business. 

What is storytelling – and why are so many people doing it the wrong way?

Maybe you just got an email again from someone who told you a sad story long and wide to want to sell you a product – and then you see great guys everywhere in your Facebook timeline Carts that used to be miserable like the church mice (which they spread out in a long text to get you signed up for a free webinar).

Yes, that’s storytelling too.

But not particularly imaginative. 

Because this type of storytelling is now predictable, annoying in the long run and can even provoke rejection – for example, if heavy topics such as depression, suicidal thoughts, or cancer are used too obviously to sell.

Therefore, a first warning: Those who go too flat in business storytelling can be shipwrecked!

However, doing without storytelling is not a solution. Because it works! (If you do it cleverly)

But how do you do it, right? And what happens when we tell stories? 

3 Effects of storytelling – and how it benefits your business

Suddenly everyone is a listening room full of people, you report essential things, give tips and instructions, give numbers, make the urgency of the topic clear – and look into tired eyes. 

But then you start talking about your grandma who once said this one sentence to you …

And that affects: Suddenly the audience looks interested. 

Why? 

I’m not a brain researcher – but I have been told that listening to a story activates many more areas than listening to facts. Senses are activated, feelings are evoked. It’s like the listener is witnessing the situation! 

Also: if a story begins, we want to know how it ends. And that immediately increases attention.

Even if only one concrete example is mentioned and a real person tells it, we pay attention: Because examples are storytelling on a small scale.

Journalists also learn this very quickly during their training: 10,000 traffic fatalities hardly trigger emotions unlike Katharina, 35, who had to die because she couldn’t avoid a ghost driver in time. Her 3-year-old daughter was sitting in the back seat.

That makes us swallow. Sympathize. And it does more to us than any number, no matter how high it could be.

That is why journalists are looking for specific examples – individual fates. And that’s why you should also talk about people if you want to illustrate a topic.

(And here’s a little test: don’t you MUST now know if the little girl survived in the back seat? I bet you want. Because: see above.)

  1. You create closeness – and that promotes sales.

As soon as you start talking about yourself, people listen to you. Especially when you talk about depths, crises and problems.

This affects two types of storytelling in particular:

  • The cause-effect principle:
  •  This is about the vivid explanation of why something is as it is. 
  • I live healthier today, BECAUSE … 
  • I only advise offline, BECAUSE … 
  • I only go hiking barefoot, BECAUSE … 
  • Usually, this “because” has to do with a negative experience. And of course, we have to talk about that if we want to explain why we are doing something. If we do this in a descriptive and exemplary manner, we do 1A storytelling.
  • The hero journey:
  •  The storytelling known from Hollywood is always about
    • a hero
    • a problem
    • overcoming the problem 
    • the change of the hero
    • a message associated with it

Most of the stories (of you, of customers, of friends) can be squeezed into this pattern!

What happens in the other person’s head in both cases: he or she develops empathy. You build a connection. Closeness arises.

And once there is proximity, the decision to buy is easier. Storytelling is, therefore, a great sales vehicle.

Is that manipulation?

Oh well. The Duden defines manipulation as “an impenetrable, skillful procedure that gives someone an advantage, wins something they want”. And then, I found this definition: “Influencing decisions without the decision-maker being aware of it.”

Accordingly, any sale is manipulative. 

But of course, the manipulation can take on different dimensions. For me, it is negative if dramatic stories evoke empathy, if we sympathize infinitely, then buy an incredibly expensive product – such as high-priced coaching – but the closeness builds up abruptly with the purchase of the product. The coaching ends turned out to be access to calls with dozens of other customers.

Then I have only one word for it: fooling around.

2. People remember you better.

Have you ever been to a lecture where you wrote a lot? And did the lecturer tell a little story about himself or another person in the middle of all his facts?

I would bet: two weeks later, you had to look in your notes to recall the information – but you still had the story in your ears.

Our brain sorts stories in a different, more critical drawer than pure facts. We remember them longer because they made more of an impression. We felt something when we heard them. It makes a big difference.

So if you want people to take an essential thing from a lecture, workshop, or seminar, the best thing to do is wrap them up in a story. It doesn’t have to be Hollywood drama – sometimes it is enough to give an example of a real person.

That’s working!

Listeners are also more likely to tell other people about you – because you impressed them more sustainably: “The X, who recently said something similar, take a look at their website!” 

Ten situations where you can use storytelling

  1. On your website 

Your homepage (in detail) and you’re about me page are ideal for storytelling. But be careful: Nobody wants to see too much text! That means that you shouldn’t spread a long story on the homepage. 

However, if you can say “I’ve been in this situation before” or “I’ve overcome a problem that you as a website visitor may know,” tell us about it! 

Warning: Do not tell any stories “because I am supposed to do storytelling”, but focus on the experiences that have something to do with your website visitor. In which he empathizes and with which he can do something.

2. In social media

Platte advertising posts have not worked for a long time. Therefore, you should try to get closer to potential customers as a person. What do you experience, what does it do to you, what insights can you share with others?

And if it’s just anecdotes from your everyday life: stories get to know you better.

For example:

  •  An observation from your everyday life from which you have drawn a conclusion (which has something to do with the life/business of your followers)
  • Something that just happened to you that made you think
  • An encounter with a person that triggers an eye-opening effect from which you have learned something

You mustn’t merely describe an event, but connect a message to it! Then the element “hero has changed” is fulfilled (even if only in tiny details) – and storytelling becomes a story.

3. In blog posts and books 

Have you noticed how many times I’ve given small examples in this blog post? How many times have I described situations to you? That is already storytelling, if only on a small scale. 

We all learn best from examples. That is why American non-fiction books are teeming with descriptions of individual cases.

4. In emails 

Many have come to believe that storytelling should be used in newsletter marketing. This can be seen in countless emails with subject lines such as “I finally did it!” Or “That was the worst birthday of my life”. 

If that piles up, I have to admit that at some point, it gets annoying.

So I advise you about the right balance. I often tell little episodes in the newsletter – but I don’t write every subject line to cry out for storytelling. And I often focus purely on imparting knowledge. In this way, I avoid the appearance of fatigue (“Oh, now there is a storyline byline – and when does something come here that helps me … ???”).

Nevertheless: Please don’t refrain from telling stories in your newsletter from time to time! It is precisely these emails that give me the most feedback.

5. Live in front of the camera.

Do you sometimes make videos for your business? Then get started with a short story next time – immediately! Do without “Welcome …”, “Great, I’m living!” And other fuss. You will quickly have more attention – and more people will hear what you have to say afterward because they have stayed with it longer.

6. Talking to potential customers

 If you want to convince people of yourself or something, examples, and small, “I know that” stories will help immensely.

Sometimes it is enough to tell about another customer who has already achieved what your counterpart wants to achieve. Packed in a little story, it will make a more significant impression than any good argument!

7. On landing pages

I tell you about me on almost every landing page, because people buy from people. So if I advertise a freebie or would like to invite you to an event, I can prove by telling a short story: I am familiar with the topic!

If you too can briefly outline that you have done something that has to do with the topic – then do it!

8. For presentations

PowerPoints are all well and good – but the moment you deviate from them and just tell an anecdote on the side may be the best in the entire presentation. 

For every presentation, think about: What point can I substantiate with an example? What eye-opening effect can I bring my listeners to by telling a story?

That will make a lot more impressive than any string of facts. 

9. During press work

If you’ve looked around this page a little, you’ll see that I preach one thing repeatedly: offer your stories to the press! 

My customers keep seeing that that’s precisely what works – and suddenly journalists report back when you send them stories in their inbox:

  • Chocolate sommelier Stefanie was able to tell on Impulse.de how, as a very young boss, she met the expectation that she should appear “nicer” – and how she overcame this problem
  • Qi-Gong expert Angela reported on woman.at how her mother had helped her out of the mess (a little later she was also allowed to give Qi-Gong tips on the site, which had never met with interest before)
  • Fitness coach Beatrice told in several magazines how she found life through sport after burnout and cancer diagnosis

10. On stage, prominent speakers know exactly: on stage, it is not a question of conveying as many facts as possible, but of sending one or two central thoughts that are remembered.

So I strongly recommend that you approach this central idea with a story! 

If we witness how the speaker concluded, we will still remember it weeks and even months later.

What journalists learn about storytelling – and what you should check out

Have a “hero.”

 Every journalist learns right at the beginning of his training: If you want to describe a problem, find a person to whom it applies. All articles, radio features, and television reports that go beyond news reporting take this rule of thumb to heart.

So if you want to use stories, don’t talk about “many people” having problem XY. It was about how Sabine, 47, was suddenly confronted with this problem, what it did to her – and how she could finally overcome it.

Do you want to tell a story about yourself, not someone else? Great, then you are the hero of your account!

Unfortunately, your topic mainly consists of facts and figures? Then find yourself a sample person who has an impact on these facts and figures – and use it to illustrate why the topic is so important!

Let something happen quickly

Who would watch a film where Tom Hanks flies calmly on an airplane over an island and then arrives at home in a good mood …? 

No, the plane crashes, of course, Hanks lands on a desert island – and suddenly has to fight like Robinson Crusoe for his survival and against going mad. 

Most Hollywood films work according to this principle: Often, something happens within the first five minutes that changes everything – and dominates the remaining 85 minutes. 

So what is the “plane crash” in your story? In your customers’? Every good story, no matter how small, needs a “Suddenly …”.

Again: It doesn’t always have to be the great story of suffering, the tragedy of your life – after all, there are enough small events that involve coping with a problem! If only as a convinced vegetarian you ended up in a small Argentinian town and suddenly had to find out: it was almost impossible to find something to eat that did not focus on a roasted pink piece of meat …

If you describe this vividly and according to the rules of storytelling (a hero is suddenly confronted with a problem and has to find a solution), you are sure to have open ears – without it having Hollywood potential.

By the way, journalists sometimes apply the “let something happen quickly” rule in the first sentence – even before we get to know the hero. Something like this: “It was a rainy Thursday afternoon when the horror came to Niederbüll.”

 The order of the elements mentioned here can, therefore, be changed! The main thing is that they are included in your story at all.

Say what the problem is

Ideally, when you tell a story, you should clearly state what the problem is here. If SUDDENLY something happened, you should take the whole thing to a higher level again, make the meaning clear: 

  • What is at stake here right now? 
  • Why does the problem have to be solved? 
  • What will happen if not …?

So you give your story additional depth. In the journalism school, I learned the following sentence, which describes this aspect of storytelling very well: “Get into the helicopter”.

That means: look at what has happened from above as if from an airplane. What more significant dimension do you see? What are the effects of what happened to the big picture?

 Journalists then often use a sentence like “Sabine Hansen is not an isolated case”. Then numbers usually follow, such as how many others are affected by the problem.

 You don’t have to stick to it blindly – but maybe you find an aspect that is “bigger” than the person and their problem? Then name it.

Describe small details

Good journalism describes vividly – in the right places. Many texts start with scenery in which little things are mentioned in detail. So readers can imagine the situation correctly.

This works especially if you want to make it exciting. If you work towards a SUDDENLY telling a story, you can build tension by describing: Where are we? How is it there? What can you hear, smell, feel?

This will “pull” your listeners into the story; they will be more attentive – because while they are empathizing with the situation, many different areas of their brains are active (unlike if they only had to process facts). 

Have a happy ending – and a message

When we hear about a problem, we want to know how it ends. Our brain is particularly satisfied when it hears a happy ending. Therefore, think of stories that have an outcome. What is still “work in progress” is not suitable for storytelling.

For example, it would be very unsatisfactory if Tom Hanks just lived on his lonely island at the end of the film. 

 A story needs development. And development also means: How did it end? How was the problem solved? What did that do to the hero?

The next time you read a magazine text, just pay attention: Does the author return to the hero and his problem at the end of the text? This is a classic journalistic trick to create a common thread.

Even if other people had their say in the middle part of the text – other people affected, experts, supporting actors: In the end, the journalist usually “closes the bag” and picks up on the scene described in the introduction. A typical exit describes what the hero does today, how the problem related has changed him or her.

Ideally, your story, therefore, has a message and makes it clear to me as a listener: Here, a change has occurred that has something to do with me. 

This also applies if the story did not turn out positive for the hero! He or she will have learned something anyway – and for the listener, that is something like a “happy ending.”

Five mistakes you should avoid when storytelling

  1. Avoid too many details.

Many of my tips tempt you to get lost in details. Describe what it takes. Add something here and there and there, because this and that, and that is somehow important.

In other words: getting into the LANTERN.

That is the death of good stories.

How do you know if your descriptions are still exciting?

By looking into the faces of your listeners (if that’s possible). How attentively do you listen?

The big challenge is just to give details that pull your audience into a situation that creates tension. 

Depending on the situation, you should handle this differently: In a short video in which you describe a short event, a few details are enough. You can take a little more time on stage, especially if the story has a larger dimension.

My tip: tell the story in front of a sample audience – or give your text to a few test readers! Ask them to tell you where to remind yourself to stay tuned honestly.

2. Avoid digressions

In journalistic research, I often wrote half a notebook – and ended up using only about 10 percent of my notes for the text. 

Because a vital journalist rule is: only select the people, events, and descriptions that are relevant to your core topic, your message.

This can go so far that protagonists are accompanied and interviewed and do not even appear in the text afterward because the experiences were not typical of the text’s essence. 

For example, if the topic is “single women are statistically more stressed than women in a relationship, even if it is a bad relationship,” the journalist needs someone who can best illustrate this. If it turns out that the selected protagonist is only semi-stressed, the story no longer works – and the journalist will look for someone else.

What you can learn from it: If you tell a story, concentrate on the CORE. 

If you know which message you want to end with, you should only choose the critical events and developments for this message. 

3. Avoid naming too many people.

Maybe you could tell several stories about the same phenomenon. Journalists do just that in many texts: they have two or three protagonists. However, the following rule applies: Each protagonist should illustrate a different aspect of the topic.

If we stick to the thesis that single mothers are stressed out, a journalist would, for example, choose a woman who lives alone with her child and only copes with everyday life with great effort – and a mother who is in a relationship that is more difficult than it should be everything is significantly less stressed.

Each protagonist stands for something and is carefully selected by journalists. It rarely takes two protagonists who have experienced the same thing!

For your first storytelling steps, I would recommend focusing on one protagonist so as not to confuse your audience or readers.

(Exception: there are a hero and an antagonist. If your hero has an opponent, you must include both in your story – after all, the antagonist embodies the hero’s problem.)

4. Don’t just tell THE ONE story.

Sure, if you bring along a good story that describes great why you are doing what you are doing, you should tell it repeatedly. It doesn’t matter whether you already have customers or are just at the beginning: a good justification story makes a difference.

But please don’t focus ONLY on that!

Because stories are suitable for so much more, you can make decisions understandable, lead listeners to an eye-opening moment, convey knowledge.

For me, storytelling is an addition. I use it here and there.

  • to illustrate a point
  • to work towards a conclusion / a message / a “moral from history.”
  • to create ties (“Yes! I feel the same way!”)
  • to create more interaction (nothing triggers more than small, unadorned stories from my life …) 

Therefore: Whenever you can explain something using an example that follows the sequence hero – problem – solution – change, you do real storytelling!

(With that, I would like to take away the high standards again: It doesn’t always have to be Hollywood material, even small anecdotes can work correctly!)

5. Don’t overdo it

One final request: don’t kill your audience. Because if from now on, you only come around the corner with blood-sweat-tear-stories, then I promise you: It will tire in the long run.

As a customer, I react grumpily when I realize that a person always uses their personal (dramatic) story exactly when it comes to selling. Then I feel manipulated – and I’m gone.

It is like everything in life: A healthy mix is ​​essential. 

Featured

Search terms Google – How to generate traffic with the right keywords

“If you search, you will find” – this saying applies not only to everything in life but of course also to the Internet. This lesson is particularly important when it comes to your website. Because your potential customers should find you or your company, whom they carry out a search query that deals with your core business. The noise is loud on the Internet – you will encounter a large number of companies that are also trying to direct search queries to specific terms to their websites. With this article, we would like to show you how you can increase the traffic on your site with the appropriate tools and strategies by choosing the right search terms Google.

What is part of the ideal search engine optimization (SEO)?

As we have already indicated, the right choice of focus keyword, which should lead interested users to your website, is critical. But how do you find these terms and make use of them? When we talk about SEO optimization, we also have to talk about SEO keyword. Through the ideal method of the right keywords, you contribute to the fact that search engines – and thus also users – are referred to your website faster. The search result leads directly to your company.

Of course, some aspects are entirely logical and require no further keyword research – if you have a flower shop, for example, it is clear that terms such as “flower shop, flowers, flower arrangements” etc. are among the names that your potential customer is looking for becomes. Only this type of keyword determination is not enough to get the best results. Intensive keyword research is of particular importance and requires effective  SEO online marketing.  Your on-page optimization. This way, search queries are ideally used to give your company even more reach. It also helps to find new topics for your content marketing strategy.

Search terms Google – Learn to think about how your customer is looking!

Think carefully about how your customers can reach you. Most entrepreneurs use  Google Ads accounts to become more visible on the Internet. These are filled with the appropriate keywords. There are a variety of different sources available to help you find the right ones to improve your search engine marketing.

For example, consider the following when determining keywords:

  • Your website: Always keep it up to date. Find gaps between the content of your website and your keyword list.
  • Your products: Make sure that your products can be found quickly and easily on Google. If you’re a retailer, things like product names and models can make keywords powerful.
  • Your brand: also think about your brand. The name of your brand – together with the product – already represents a new keyword group.

It can also make sense to enter your URLs as keywords. Some people also search for them on Google if, for example, they cannot remember the name of a product.

An essential feature for optimal SEO – keyword tools

Your keywords should reflect all of the different types of user queries that could help someone find your business when they’re looking for something you offer. So that the Google search of your potential customers also ends on your website, you should use a keywords tool. One of the best known is the so-called Google Keyword Planner. This tool has the task to find the right search terms for your Google Ads campaigns and shows you how high (or how low) specific words are in the course about the topic of your choice.

The Google Keyword Planner offers the following options.

  • Search for keywords and find ideas for Google ad groups
  • Ranking of existing keywords that you enter yourself
  • Creation of various keyword lists

Step-by-step: the Google Keyword Planner

To use the Google Keyword Planner, you need a Google Adwords account. If you don’t have an Adwords account yet, you can set it up in a few minutes. By the way, you do not need to initiate an active Adwords campaign to use the tool – nevertheless, you should install the Adwords account completely.

Next, log in to your Google Adwords account. Then click the wrench icon in the toolbar at the top of the page and select the Keyword Planner tool. Now you have two options – on the one hand; you can find relevant search terms from the planner or have your keywords checked for significance. Fortunately, these two SEO-oriented keyword research tools are enough to generate thousands of potential keywords. The tremendous new SEO offer optimized texts.

Generate keywords in different ways

If you want to generate new search terms instead of checking existing keywords, the search field shows you the option to type words, phrases or URLs that relate to your topic. How good the results of the research are depending on your input, which is why you should be strategically wise here.

  • “Word entry”: These are individual words that describe your company (e.g. “car” or “vacation”). This enables you to access Google’s internal keyword database for various industries.
  • “Phrases”: Here, you enter terms that consist of one to three keywords. For example, if we assume that you have a pet shop, you can enter terms such as “feed for rodents” or “grain-free animal feed” here. Terms that your customers would use in their Google search to find what they’re looking for.
  • “A URL that relates to your company”: This is primarily for Adwords users. But even in this way, you can sometimes find important keywords by entering the URL of your website or an article on your homepage.

Check your keywords

This is a function that is useful if you already have a long list of keywords and want to check their search volume. To put it in a nutshell, this option will not help you generate new keyword ideas. You may also discover new online marketing trends for your industry. Nevertheless, the information determined in this way is by no means uninteresting. Copy a list of keywords into the search field and click “Go”.

Search terms Google – What is all about SEO?

Determining the right keywords is a measure that influences a wide variety of factors in the ideal SEM search engine optimization. The correct search terms are also useful in connection with services such as Google Suggest. But Google has come up with much more for the optimal traffic on your website.

Here is an overview of the essential features:

Google Search Console

The Search Console ensures that your website always stays up to date. Thanks to the Google Search Console, you can find errors in the code, internal links and other areas of the site. The Search Console also shows which online search queries the user came to the website and which terms were relevant. Since many users are now only online via smartphone, Google’s Search Console also shows how well your site is displayed on the go. The feature also shows you how often specific keywords are used within the domain.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool that produces detailed statistics about website activity. Google explains on its website that the system “helps to analyze the traffic on a website and to get a complete picture of your target group”.

Google Analytics uses a Javascript tracking code to collect data about visitors to your website and their interactions on your page. You then insert this code on your website.

With Google Trends, you can observe specific topics and search terms. This is also important for keyword analysis. Thanks to the tool, and you can see the search interest in a question or a search term within a specified period and also see which words are searched in addition to the first time.

Google Suggest

It is not easy to improve your status on Google Suggest or to provide the keywords that ensure that auto-completion is in your company’s favour. You had already noticed how important Google Suggest had become when you started a search query on Google. The tool is strongly oriented to the search behaviour of its users by logically merging term groups according to their temporary popularity.

As soon as you started typing a term, the word was completed by not only spelling it out but adding alternative names. Wouldn’t it be nice if your company could also benefit from this feature?

The direct influence on Google Suggest is challenging to control – it is essential in this context that you conduct meaningful content marketing and try to identify suitable keyword trends using Google Trends and include them in your content strategy. Because in the end, it is always about generating content in which the terms that users are looking for are incorporated.

Conclusion: Anyone who says SEO must also mean keyword optimization

Even if proper keyword research can be a bit time-consuming, it is worth it. After all, you want your new, potential customers to find you and your offer immediately if you are looking for services or goods from your core business. With the right key terms that you can generate with the right tools, you can find out exactly how your target group is looking. You then incorporate these terms into your content marketing strategy and your general online marketing measures  – and thus manage to generate traffic to your website.

Featured

Yoast SEO – advantages and disadvantages for your optimization

Do you want to learn more about the WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast? Then just read this post by giving you the most important one.

What is Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin, and what does it offer?

As the operator of a website, you want your page to be found by search engines. Rank in Google and Bing search results is one of the purest forms of internet marketing. The so-called search engine optimization mainly consists of two large fields: on-page and off-page. Off-page are, for example, other websites that link to your page and thus “recommend” you. On page is all you can do on your page to appear for a keyword in the index. An SEO plugin helps with these SEO measures.

You have to consider a few things when writing your posts, and every article has the chance to rank well with search engines for the right focus keyword. It also gets more clicks. More clicks on your entry on Google means more readers on the website. This, in turn, brings you more conversion. Depending on the intent, more transformation can mean higher advertising revenue through more reach or more sales. What exactly do you have to consider when optimizing your website for a search engine? The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress will help you with this.

The plugin shows you additional fields such as meta description, meta title, page title and focuses keyword under each article. These are necessary so that Google and other search engines can understand what your page is about. This information is also used for your entry in the index. You can also get more conversion if you are already ranked, but your meta description or the page title in the search results is not appealing enough.

Installation

In the WordPress dashboard, go to Plugins and enter Yoast SEO in the search bar. With one click, you download the plugin and install it on your WordPress. After installation, the configuration wizard will guide you through the necessary settings and functions in ten simple steps, if you want. If you have previously installed other SEO tools such as wp SEO or All-in-One SEO, you can import the settings into the installation of Yoast SEO and do not have to create everything again. To do this, go to Import and Export and “Import from other SEO plugins” in the Tools tab. Put a tick, click import, and the settings will be transferred.

As the operator of a website, you should be registered in the Google Search Console, formerly Webmaster Tools. If Google detects problems with your page, you will be informed. You can connect the Search Console to your WordPress. Statistics, i.e. essential data for your SEO measures and tips for better conversion, are displayed directly on the dashboard. The SEO plugin can also help you with the traffic light.

If you already have a relatively large page and are installing the plugin for the first time, you can see in a clear dashboard which posts need optimization. With a simple traffic light system, each of your pages is marked in green, yellow or red. With each field that you have optimized, more traffic lights jump to green. Of course, no one wants to edit over 100 pages individually and optimize them for a focus keyword. Therefore, the Yoast SEO plugin offers so-called templates. Just create a rule like A field “title” should always be composed of “Category: Page title” or the meta description should always be the first 120 characters of the post. And you’ve already optimized hundreds of pages in five minutes. But that is only the beginning.

All functions of Yoast SEO at a glance

Both versions of the Yoast SEO Plugin (Premium and Free) have the following functions in addition to the necessary additional fields required for SEO in WordPress:

Keyword check

The SEO plugin automatically calculates how often your focus keyword appears in the text and uses the traffic light to show you whether it is too little or too often. It also checks whether the keyword is in the right places. This is possible, for example, in the page title and the first paragraph of the text. Of course, your keyword should also be found in the “Meta description” field and the URL to achieve a good entry in the index. This is a good start for your  SEO measures.

Legibility

The Flesh Reading Ease Score is determined automatically. This tells you how simple or complicated your text is written. The calculation is based on a simple formula. A score of 60-70 is easy to read for an eighth-grader; a score between 0 and 30 is only understandable for university graduates. An important factor here is short sentences and the use of binders such as before, after, nonetheless. The Flesch Index is probably the best-known indicator of excellent legibility of texts. However, there are other indices for readability, such as the Viennese exact formula and the Gunning Fox Index.

Breadcrumbs

Something that you write either fits into different categories or you change the article types when writing and the breadcrumbs get mixed up. With the plugin you can easily define the first category and determine the subsequent taxonomy without having to work long in the backend. If you have not yet created breadcrumbs on your page, you should consider such measures in SEO think. They are accommodating for good online marketing of your website. Google partially takes over the breadcrumbs in the entry. So instead of the URL http://www.meinehomepage.com/neuerartikel under the blue heading in the snippet in small letters is http://www.meinehomepage.com> Category> Subcategory> Third level. This way, the search engine knows better whether your page matches a keyword. The searcher also knows quickly and clearly that he wants to read your page.

Duplicate content

Avoid duplicate content! The Yoast SEO plugin helps you via canonical to mark the original content. For example, if your page can be reached at the URL www.deinehomepage.com and yourhompage.com, these are two different URLs with the same material. To avoid that a search engine classifies this as duplicate content, you simply set a so-called canonical link. There are also so-called scraper websites on the web. These search the internet for exciting content and automatically copy it to a collection page that should rank for a specific keyword. If you have an RSS feed, this SEO plugin adds it to the link building feed with a canonical link each time. So everyone who takes your content automatically links back to your page and is not classified as a duplicate content.

Technical SEO

You have no idea what robots.txt, .htaccess files, clean permalink URL and sitemaps are or how you access the backend of your site? You don’t have to know that either. The Yoast SEO Plugin is easy to install and automatically configures a few essential technical SEO aids in the backend. This will make your page more visible. The clear dashboard is helpful to make things in the backend easy to understand. If you are already familiar with .htaccess, Permalink and robots.txt, you can easily optimize them using the SEO plugin. Also, you do not need an additional plugin to create an XML sitemap.

Noindex and Nofollow

Most of the time, you want your posts to have a Google entry, but not the many archive pages on the keyword. Then you should set the Permalink to noindex here. Or you have an article that is only available for advertising purposes, and you want the Permalink in the text to be set to nofollow in order not to spread the link juice unnecessarily. This is also easier to change with Yoast SEO than in the standard WordPress dashboard or backend.

Images SEO

An often neglected field of search engine optimization is SEO. First of all, of course, you have to consider whether you want your images to appear in Google Images Search. If this is the case, then Google must know what can be seen in the pictures. You can tell the search engine this with an image title on the one hand and with the alt attribute on the other. The alt attribute is the meta description for images. If you prefer to write “What a beautiful forest” as a caption for a picture of a squirrel that eats a nut, then you should write in the alt attribute what can be seen: “Squirrel eats nut”. If someone searches for squirrels in the image search, they will find your image as an entry for this keyword.

Linking

The Google algorithm was initially based on not merely listing all the search results that match a keyword. Above all, it was essential to enter the pages particularly high in the index, which have many links from other pages. This type of recommendation mechanism made Google better than other search engines. Therefore, it is part of proper search engine optimization. It is a kind of code of honour for online marketing. So if you find something useful on the net, don’t just write about it, but link it. Make sure to link a page with Permalink. This is a page where the link does not change. If you search for a product in the search engine, the link to the search will no longer be active approx. 20 minutes later.

Timeliness

Have you ever heard of a panda or penguin? In the online marketing world, these are not just animals, but above all significant changes in the Google algorithm, which often lead to a sudden sharp drop in visibility in the index. This can also affect pages that are well optimized. Google even makes small changes, about 500 to 600 times a year. The Yoast SEO plugin is updated every two weeks. So if Google spontaneously changes something in the algorithm, your page is quickly up to date.

Preview

What does your entry look like in the search results? And what if a potential customer or reader is looking for you from a cell phone? Sometimes this is good to know before the text goes online. Therefore, the Yoast SEO Plugin shows your Google Snippet directly under each article. You can see a section of the search results or what they will look like. Google also uses so-called “rich snippets”. This means that your Google “snippet” is enriched with other functions, depending on the article type and keyword. Rich snippets are, for example, the sightseeing carousel, if you are looking for a place, or the box on the right, adding pictures, names, excerpts from Wikipedia,

Even if the standard Google entry begins with breadcrumbs or with stars because it is marked as a rating, this is already considered a “Rich Snippet”.

The advantages of Yoast Premium compared to the free version.

One of the main arguments for the premium version is, of course, support. If you like to leaf through FAQs and Yoast’s knowledge base, you will have no problems finding help. However, the premium version offers round-the-clock support by email for one year.

Also, the premium version not only has a preview of what the snippet shown in the index will look like later. It also shows a preview for Facebook and Twitter. This is how you will find out what your page looks like when someone shares it on Facebook or Twitter. The plugin shows you which text and which thumbnails are used for posts so that you can make changes before you press the “Publish” button. If you don’t want to think about it for every article, you can simply set a template for the social media metadata in this SEO plugin so that it is always the right title and the right picture in the correct format.

When it comes to internal linking, the premium variant automatically makes suggestions as to which of your pages you can link to in the new article. And while you are writing. No (internal or external) linking would be a waste of a good text or a well-running material. You cannot always keep all the pages and article types of your homepage in mind. However, the plugin can check all of your pages and make suggestions that would be suitable for internal linking. The internal link is an integral part of on-page optimization.

Content Insight

Automatic content insight is particularly useful. The five keywords that appear most frequently in the post are displayed. So you can quickly compare whether they correspond to the desired keyword for which the article should rank or whether another focus keyword has crept in. This is particularly helpful if you like to deviate from the topic in the page title when writing. BTW: If you want to optimize a text for more than one focus keyword, you can create several keywords with Premium, on which your text should be optimized.

A redirect manager is also included as a feature in Yoast SEO Premium. Redirect plugins are available in the plugin store for free and like sand at sea. However, sometimes it is better if everything comes from a single source, and you have no additional installation. The more plugins installed in WordPress, the higher the chance of performance or compatibility problems, especially with updates. The practical thing about the Redirect Manager in the Yoast SEO Plugin is that it asks you every time you delete a page, and the Permalink threatens to go nowhere to redirect the URL in the backend. So no user ends up in 404 nirvana, and the dashboard is clear.

Internet marketing digression

A little internet marketing digression on redirects: For example, if you want to switch from the URL with http://www.meinehomepage.com/456132 to a speaking URL like http://www.meinehomepage.com/here standing essential things, you should redirect the old page to the new URL. If you wrote an article about new buildings ten years ago under the URL http://www.meinehompage.com/neubauten2008 and you want to write an updated version under the permalink http://www.meinehomepage.com/neubauten2018 and delete the old material, you should, of course, remove it Link new ones, and no user will land on a 404 error page. Also, all the old links then link to your pages and they have a good start in the search results. Make sure the title and URL are similar on both.

The SEO plugin also offers a CSV export in the premium version. Of course, you can manually create an online marketing table in which all pages are listed with their focus keyword or simply use the WordPress dashboard so that you do not appear in the search results with multiple pages on the same keyword. But that’s Sisyphean work. With the installation of the premium version, you can easily export and download this table, including SEO scores into a CSV file. This feature saves time.

Finally, unlike the free version, this premium version is, of course, ad-free for all types of items. For this, you pay 79 euros net for one year, including support and updates.

Disadvantages of the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

In contrast to the free version, the premium version naturally costs money. But you get an excellent package of features. But whoever searches, finds. So you can also name a few disadvantages with this SEO plugin, but they tend to border on “complaining at a high level”.

Some functions of the premium variant should be used with caution. If you are not familiar with SEO measures and simply accept all suggestions for internal linking, readers will quickly end up in a click circle. Also, it is not pleasant, and the readability on page disturbs if five words are underlined in each sentence.

Optimizing a text for several keywords is feasible without prior knowledge, but not always useful. For example, to optimize it, you need to know that the keywords are very similar and should cover the same search intent.

Google can now see very well that online marketing, online marketing and online marketing are the same keywords. The Yoast SEO plugin cannot. It only finds exact matches in the traffic light rating with meta description and title in the snippet.

In particular, the semantic feature with Flesh Reading Ease Score for readability does not always work correctly in languages ​​other than English. The feature content analysis in the premium version is also not available in all words. Previous languages ​​for which it is optimized are: English, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Russian.

Snippet

Sometimes Google automatically picked parts of the page for the title or description in the snippet because no metadata was stored. For example, if you change the “Meta description” field, the piece in the index is still the old one and different from the preview. It happens that the snippet displayed under your article does not match Google. That may be surprising, but it doesn’t matter. Your SEO measures will still appear in the search results over time. The social snippets sometimes look a little different than in the preview. For example, less text is used for the title or Facebook / Twitter posts show more of the URL.

The Yoast plugin itself is not actively looking for duplicate content. For example, the SEO tools sideliner or FeedWordPress SEO Fix are much more suitable.

The underlying parameters of the plugin are, of course, standardized and therefore do not cover all article types. This means that if you write a glossary with many short texts, the tool will recognize it as not optimized and make suggestions for improvement. Among other things, that it should be more than 300 words. You want to keep this page as short as possible.

We, therefore, recommend the Yoast SEO plugin

Even the free version offers extensive functions to optimize your page fundamentally. The Yoast SEO Plugin is simple to use and easy to understand. It covers the essential SEO requirement that your website needs to be found by a search engine. You suddenly know what a page title is and what your preview looks like. The plugin is easy to install, and on-page optimization is covered with a solution. It also prevents one of the most significant risks of good content: duplicate content.

It is also the best known among SEO tools. It has over 40 million downloads, is stable, and helpful. The installation is also not only available for WordPress but also Magento 2, TYPO3 and Drupal. However, WordPress remains the market leader among the CMS, with a 60 per cent market share.

A unique gimmick of the Yoast SEO plugin is the traffic light. The evaluation for good, medium or bad for the individual SEO parameters is carried out using a small circle that lights up green, yellow or red – similar to a traffic light. This is not only pretty and easy to understand but can be a real motivating factor. If you edit the metadata for the preview of a snippet and slowly see how the traffic light changes from red to yellow to green, this immediately stimulates the internal reward system.

Conclusion

All in all, Yoast SEO is an excellent tool for starting online marketing and very helpful for on-page optimization. The premium version is especially recommended if you rely heavily on social media marketing in your internet marketing mix. Or if you just want personal support. If you have fundamentally exhausted all SEO measures with the tool, optimized every field and your page still does not rank as you wish, then you should consider the human factor. Let an SEO expert look over your site. Because a page with infographic often lists better or has a better conversion because you use more than one content type on one page. The Yoast SEO Plugin does not tell you that yet.

Featured

SEO for Online Shops – The Monster FAQ!

You have an online shop, and you have questions about SEO? Then you are right here! Welcome to the Monster FAQ on SEO for Online Shops.

Basic questions

If you already know your way around, feel free to skip these questions. But I tried to shed some light on aspects that not everyone knows. Maybe there is something for advanced users too!

How does search engine optimization work for online shops?

Phew, there is usually a lot to do. But to put it roughly, you try to achieve several things:

  1. Your shop should be accessible and legible for Google. Google (or any other search engine) needs to recognize that it’s a shop and what products it sells.
  2. The shop should deliver the best result for the user on this topic, i.e. also give the user exactly what he was looking for.
  3. The shop should have a good reputation online. This works mostly through links from other useful websites. Google also evaluates other signals such as social media and the like.

What SEOs do now is to improve the online shop on these three points. Everyone does it differently. And everyone sets different priorities. While some swear by link building, other shops optimize technically such as page loading speed down to the last detail. Still, others focus on the content of the website and offer the user the best experience. Since it is an algorithm, there are several ways to get there. In the last few years, the first final points felt to have become more critical, the first point lost relative to the others. You should always keep an eye on all three to get the best results.

Is search engine optimization prohibited?

No. Neither Google nor the legislator has anything against search engine optimization – on the contrary! Google even wants you to make your website more readable – this will make your work more comfortable, and the search engine will find good results faster – which will help users and ultimately make them more satisfied with Google.

However, some techniques violate the so-called webmaster guidelines. For example, if you artificially procure links (for example, by bribing other webmasters with money instead of getting real recommendations to link to your website, you can book advantage for yourself in the short term. However, there is one at Google own team that takes care of exposing these techniques. If you get caught, you may be deliberately downgraded a few places or even flipped entirely out of the Google index so that you may be accurate accomplishes the opposite of what you want.

Apart from this, techniques such as the purchase of links and the setting of links in forums for advertising violate the Unfair Competition Act (UWG). Since you don’t want to show Google that you are buying links, bought links are rarely awarded. Unfortunately, many search engine optimizers – especially agencies – still buy links today. This works mainly because of the principle “Where there is no plaintiff, there is no judge”. If you do something big here – as is currently the case with Instagram influencers with unmarked advertising – then the link buying industry is in bad shape.

How long does it take for my online shop to have good rankings?

To make it short: It depends a lot on the market environment, the desired keywords and your website. Generally speaking, SEO is a matter of months to years, not a matter of weeks. There are some techniques – such as optimizing titles and descriptions – that can affect very quickly (i.e. in a few days or weeks). But if you want to gain trust with Google with a brand new domain, you should plan for a long time. However, initial successes can be visible very soon – especially for niche keywords that do not have a high level of competition.

Why does SEO seem so crucial for my shop?

For most websites, SEO is one of the most cost-effective channels for high-quality visitors – despite the work that you have to do yourself or for which you have to pay an agency or a freelancer. You get targeted visitors with SEO who googled for “Buy blue hiking pants XL”. Anyone who offers such hiking pants (and has matching pants and a beautiful online shop) will have a good chance of buying them. Many high-quality visitors can only be obtained via Google Ads. Google Ads is excellent too, but usually costs more per order (compared to SEO). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t book Google Ads – most shop owners run SEO and Google Ads at the same time.

But you don’t have to do SEO. Some shop operators rely 100% on Google Ads. Others go full offline marketing with flyers and Co. That also works, and SEO is just one channel out of many.

If you want to sell a product, also consider whether you don’t want to just do it on eBay, Etsy or Amazon? The fees there are high – but you save the costs of an online shop, marketing (mostly) and many other things. Likewise, SEO doesn’t make sense if you have a completely new product that no one knows about yet. In that case, nobody is looking for your product because nobody knows that it exists. Here, however, it makes sense to optimize for relevant terms and keywords in the environment of your product, for example, the “problem” that your product helps with, rather than the product itself. A company magazine and content marketing are ideal for this.

How much does SEO cost?

The question “What does a website cost?” Or “What does a car cost?” Is similarly simple. It all depends on what you want to achieve and where you start. Do you sell puzzles online?

The following models exist – the more SEO, the higher the costs, of course:

  1. You can completely implement SEO yourself.
  2. You can do most of the SEO yourself, with a programmer and SEO consultant at your side.
  3. You can give SEO completely to an agency and programmer.
  4. You can hire an in-house team for SEO, i.e. one or more permanent SEOs who do nothing but SEO.
  5. You can hire an in-house team for SEO and have it supported by an agency. This works with them and is available as a sparring partner for essential questions.

The whole thing is, of course, not static. Successful online shop operators often go all the way from 1-5 (over many years). 

How do I find a reputable SEO agency for my shop?

I find this question incredible because it is so often on agency websites. The answer is then as neutral as possible, whereby towards the end of the solution, it becomes clear that your agency is the only one that uses the Rankingbooster3000. But seriously: It is incredibly difficult to see from the outside how good an SEO agency is. Most of the time, you can only see from the outside how professional the sales department is. Even I often do not know how well or poorly other agencies work until I am brought up with one or the other. And also then you should be careful because opinions are often very subjective. Just because the work at one agency’s client was catastrophic does not have to apply to all of the agency’s other clients and vice versa.

I have been doing SEO for 12 years, and two methods can reliably help you find the right agency:

  1. Inform yourself beforehand in detail about the topic of SEO and know your way so far that you can assess the statements of your counterpart. The more knowledge you have, the less you can fall for dubious offers and the more you can identify which agency suits you best. Ask the agency of your choice if you have holes in your stomach – the more, the better! The principle also applies to craftspeople, car workshops, doctors and any other service provider.
  2. Ask acquaintances, friends and colleagues if they can recommend someone to you. Unfortunately, this is not the panacea, because sometimes spam techniques work well for your friends and they recommend you to someone who is not dangerous. Therefore tip 1 is much more effective. Another good advice is to take your friend/acquaintance into the conversation with the agency. So you learn what your acquaintance values. Incidentally, this also works great when buying a car with a friend of my car mechanic. 

How is SEO success measured? How important is visibility?

There are a lot of tools that give SEO points, show visibility and with which many SEOs work. The best known are SistrixSearchmetrics and Xovi . These three tools regularly monitor millions of keywords, assess their value and use them to calculate an index that then reads like a stock chart. This can be important for an initial assessment of a domain – or when comparing different areas in the same industry. However, the values ​​are an approximation and sometimes do not say much about the actual SEO traffic.

The visibility of various SEO tools shows the actual SEO traffic only to a limited extent

You can ultimately make the most reliable statement about SEO success if you use your web tracking tool (e.g. Google Analytics) to check how many visitors come to your shop via SEO – and how many of them buy. What you need are more acquiring customers about SEO – no SEO visibility. The Google Search Console is an indispensable tool for determining which terms visitors use to come to your website and where you appear on Google.

Can I do SEO for my online shop myself?

Of course! Why not? Especially when you are at the beginning of your business, you often have no money for an agency. The alternative is to read yourself in and then take action yourself. So if you have the time, there is nothing to be said against trying it yourself. By the way, this is how I came to SEO myself. My t-shirt shop did not have enough visitors and a forum member in a shop operator forum advised me “Try it with search engine optimization”.

Of course, it will be the case that you don’t use the levers that a professional would use from the start. This means that you make wrong adjustments or invest a lot of time in things that are not worth the time. So in my first days as SEO (in 2007) I wasted days on an XML sitemap. At some point, I realized that firstly there are sitemap generators and secondly that sitemaps are not so important. Only one thing: If you don’t have time for SEO and no money to pay someone else to do it, it looks terrible.

Questions about online shop technology

Which shop system is best for SEO?

I hear the question quite often. It is like this: you should choose your shop system according to what other functions you need. Basic SEO can do most just fine. SEO is often more about the template (i.e. the design) than the system itself. My advice is: get a system that is as widely used as possible. There are usually right SEO extensions for this, and you also ensure that updates continue to come. Also: good web agencies only work with sound shop systems. ShopwareShopifyMagentoGambioWooCommerce– these are widely used systems. You should do detailed research, only then choose a suitable method. At least shop systems work “off the shelf”, most require adjustments to your individual needs.

Small “quick-and-easy” solutions may help you get started quickly, but changing a shop system later is usually very expensive. Therefore, I would always rely on one from the start that is easily expandable.

When do I start with SEO in my shop?

You should get an SEO specialist on board as early as possible. The best time is when it comes to the basic design, and you have already considered the categories for your shop. A basic plan should already be outlined (as a sketch), but the SEO can change that again for usability reasons. He can also question the categories after performing a keyword analysis. Another possibility is that you create the shop and then have an SEO overlooked before going live. Here, however, there is a high risk that you will have to knock down a lot. I would do it after choosing the shop system, create a dummy without a design and also a sketch of the shop – and then wait what the SEO says about it.

What should my URLs look like?

One thing that is often screwed up at the beginning is the shop URLs. Google wants thematically arranged directories, so you have achieved that well. Of course, you should only introduce subcategories if they make thematic sense so that you can structure them well. Think of your categories a little like a guide in the department store – how would you design one? And what would you put in which aisle and then on which shelf?

What is a good headline structure for online shops?

First of all, headings are not as relevant as you might think. The reason? Many web designers misuse layout headings so Google can’t rely on them. Depending on the page type, the product name or the name of the corresponding category should be defined as an H1 heading in your shop. Further small lines such as the article description, unique features and the like can then be in H2 entries. Under no circumstances should design elements in the sidebar or the footer be marked as headings – here the template designer should work with CSS and not with lines. 

How do I get to number 1 for my keyword?

There are very few industries where a single keyword is essential. For most of the shops that I optimized, even the most critical keywords were often responsible for less than 5% of sales. Conversely, niche keywords were relevant for 95% of sales. It is also felt that the more search volume behind a keyword, the more difficult it will be with the ranking. If you want to start wisely with SEO, then book Google Ads and see which keyword groups you use to generate good sales – and later try to achieve granular success there.

How important is page load speed for SEO?

Google has repeatedly stressed that page load speed can be critical. It is also confirmed that a fast-loading online shop leads to more conversions. You should have a quick loading page. But it is certainly not the most important factor, just one of many. Only because you load the fastest in your industry, you will not be in the first place.

Shop content

Do I have to enter a product description for each product and a category description for each category?

As smart as Google is, it is unfortunately, still a text-based search engine. As a rule, it makes sense that you create unique product and category descriptions. Do not use the one that the manufacturer provides for free. And conversely, please do not make them available for free price search engines. But yes: you need individual texts for your shop.

Can I use automated/standard texts for these SEO texts?

Of course, you can buy cheap texts. However, it is not advisable. If you have a large number of products and cannot afford the texts for so many products, you may ask yourself from the other direction: Do you need so many products? Prefer to prioritize your range: What are your most important products? Start with these and create good product descriptions for them that inspire the user to buy and that are optimized for search engines.

Many people will advise you about additional content. Why? Well, if Google has a choice of 50 different online stores that sell the same thing and have similar prices, they’ll put those in the forefront who go the extra mile and advise, inform, or maintain the customer. Your customers will also be happy if you don’t just provide an item description, but a tutorial on how to use the product.

What one understands by good content, the opinions of experts differ widely.

  • Videos
  • Good descriptions that answer my customers’ questions.
  • Instructions for your products
  • Examples of use
  • Excellent and large photos – the more visual the product, the more important
  • FAQs on shipping, ordering, delivery costs and returns.
  • A shop magazine that provides news about the products or shows insights into your company.
  • Helpful tips on your products.
  • Reviews from other customers about the product

I recently ordered a hedge. A glossy loquat “Dicker Toni” to be precise.

I ordered them from Pflanzmich.de. Plantmich.de is not a customer of ours, by the way, just for information. If you look at the product page, you may notice why I ordered there. There is a lot of detailed information about the product that I urgently needed. The excellent content here was about the growth rate or the height, and much more. The product text is very informative. Probably someone wrote it who had detailed information about the product. There are also so-called “master questions” at the bottom “- this is an APP that answers all sorts of questions about plants and gardens free of charge. In the meantime, that’s 31992 responded to questions – that’s quite a lot.

As a customer, I ordered there because other shops, particularly in the garden area, often only had scant information about the individual plants. What I like as a professional: Pflanzmich.de thinks up from the user. There you think about what the user needs and wants about hedges. I want to know how fast the fence grows and how high it gets. Unfortunately, 90% of the hedgerow shops do not answer that. So much for my hedge example. Incidentally, it has already been delivered and looks great!

User experience (UX) and shop SEO

Do you already know Google’s GrowmyStore? There you can have your shop tested for user-friendliness. From Google – for free. It is not unusual that the tool exists, but how it works. Automatically. The device not only recognizes how well your product details are described (see picture below), but also whether your pickup offers in the store or a flexible order execution in terms of express delivery. According to the FAQs, this works by searching for specific keywords. I am not sure whether Google also incorporates such results into the ranking, but it would be possible – too resource-saving and straightforward. And the engineers at Google like that. 

Google automatically recognizes whether your product details can be found quickly and described adequately.

How important is UX for the SEO success of my online shop?

Very important. If your users despair during the ordering process, your categorization is not user-friendly, and your shop is otherwise difficult to use, you can no longer win a flowerpot today. Take this sentence to heart, unfortunately, I have seen some otherwise good shops slowly dying. From a Google perspective, a website gets a good ranking if it serves its purpose well. The use of an online shop is to inform you about products, to present them well and to make them easy to buy. This works out!

How do I improve the user experience in my shop?

Three approaches are best made one by one, starting with the 1:

  1. There are specific basic rules that you should use in your online shop. Your logo is at the top left, the shopping cart and “Checkout” link are at the top right. You should check and apply these rules. You gain a lot with that. 
  2. You can put users in front of a monitor and watch how they operate your shop. You will learn a lot. This can be done quickly and inexpensively, for example with rapiduser tests.
  3. You can do AB testing. Here you present different versions of your website to different users. You can even do this for free with Google Optimize. 
Featured

Mr. Zuckerberg, take responsibility! Or why Facebook can never be an independent platform that provides users with the ultimate truth

Washington and Brussels call for far-reaching regulation for Facebook: Above all, it is the opinion of the world’s largest social network that politicians are suspicious of. But with increasing political intervention, the risk increases that Facebook will become an organ controlled by the state and special interests.

Don’t let the politicians lie – fact-checking is a must

It was only a matter of time before social networks themselves would become the subject of the US election campaign. Because at some point, a politician would demonstratively exceed the limits of what is still permitted on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook according to the company’s guidelines. And that has now happened: Twitter recently provided a tweet by the President of the United States about the susceptibility of postal elections to fraud with a “fact-checking label” and thus offered users further information on the subject, some of which was contrary to Trump’s post. Facebook even had a number of its posts deleted, which dealt with the problems of the left-wing militant network Antifa and which had used symbols that were also used by the National Socialists.

President Trump sees the measures as an interference with freedom of speech and wants to prevent such interference with the content published on the platforms in the future with the recently issued executive order “Protection against online censorship”. Meanwhile, leading employees of Facebook, parts of the advertising industry, many politicians and parts of the population of Facebook and Twitter are demanding exactly the opposite: “Intervene more in the content, don’t let the politicians lie – fact-checking is a must”, says they argue.

The current regulation of social networks in the United States

In general, a dispute has arisen in the USA about how social networks should deal with content. It is hardly surprising that there is no consensus in this polarized country about what is only keen rhetoric or perhaps a call for violence, and that in the hot climate a post is quickly referred to as a false message or disinformation, even though the content is only controversial. The Americans will elect their President in five months. And the political establishment is shaking with the influence that Facebook, Twitter and Youtube could have on the outcome of the elections. Whether politicians, lobbyists, civic associations, trade unions, advertisers or employees: in the end, they all want to be in charge of what can be posted on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube. Private opinion now needs state borders – social media regulation is required. Such efforts are also being made in Brussels.

But instead of regulation that offers politicians a gateway, it needed framework conditions that strengthen responsibilities and market mechanisms. Do we want the political influence on such essential opinion platforms like Facebook or YouTube to increase? Which opinion will be considered acceptable on Facebook in the future, if discussions about topics like racism, environmental protection or American politics often threaten the emotional, moralizing club of opinion?

What was needed rather than the influence of moralizing opinion leaders on Facebook would be a competition-promoting regulation that, first of all, transferred to Mark Zuckerberg what an entrepreneur had to carry: responsibility. Secondly, it would be a matter of adjusting the business model, in which the user would finally have to become a customer (today he is the product). And thirdly, any regulation should start from a responsible and courageous media consumer and strengthen them.

The current regulation of social networks in the United States dates back to the childhood days of the Internet. Long before Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, the American legislature had already created the ideal legal conditions for its success. At that time, in 1996 – Zuckerberg was just eleven years old – the Communication Decency Act (CDA) was passed in the USA. It was the time of the first Internet service providers (ISP), and the main aim was to prevent pornographically but also other inappropriate content from poisoning the climate on the Internet. Article 230 decoupled the right to intervene from the obligation to be ultimately responsible for the remaining content:

According to popular belief, these 26 words created the Internet. They became the legal business foundation of Facebook, which was founded in 2004. The social network is still a neutral platform on which users post their content. The company assumes responsibility for this to a minimal extent by referring to Article 230. There are no limits to Facebook’s growth: Today, several hundred million posts are posted on Facebook every day; 2.8 billion people access the social network every month.

Facebook, like a publisher, has to take responsibility for what is seen on its pages is

However, Facebook generally only has to assume responsibility for what happens on the platform in exceptional cases. And if you don’t want that at all, you’d better retreat to the position of neutrality. Facebook’s impartiality or independence is an illusion. Of course, the company intervenes massively in the news feed – this is the stream of content that reaches the user on his own Facebook page. Facebook’s algorithms control what the user gets to see when and how often. Your goal is to keep the user on the page as long as possible. Because the longer he is on the page, the more advertising Facebook can show him. The more Facebook can learn from the user (via his posts, the likes distributed by him, the Internet pages that he uses when he has long left Facebook has, etc.), the more expensive it is to sell advertising space to advertisers. Ultimately, the user is the product that Facebook sells to the advertising industry.

The group is increasingly countering the criticism that is increasingly permeating Facebook that it is a platform for false information and campaigns for disinformation, with self-regulation: General rules of conduct, fact-checkers and a newly established oversight board are intended to walk the tightrope walk between freedom of movement resulting from the CDA law Manage opinions and exceed the limit of what is permissible. Facebook now pays a whole army of external, supposedly objective fact-checkers. They check controversial posts for their truthfulness. Depending on the result, Facebook removes such positions, or the algorithms ensure that they slide far down in the newsfeed and become virtually invisible. And the twenty-member oversight board, which is staffed by external experts is to decide in disputes and doubts whether the content has been rightly removed or marked with comments from Facebook.

Self-regulation

But this type of self-regulation is hugely problematic. First, Facebook is getting very close to publishing. Second, it is based on the false assumption that there is only one truth and that facts are separate from opinion. However, an allegedly objective assessment of a controversial claim does not necessarily refute the latter.

Against this background and given the increasing attempts by politicians to exert institutional influence on Facebook and its content, it would be time to create clear responsibilities: Facebook, like a publisher, has to take responsibility for what is seen on its pages is. This responsibility would mean Facebook’s duty to remove illegal content. It would also give the company the freedom to edit, classify (according to fact or opinion), curate and select content according to its style. That would massively change the face of Facebook today. Facebook could no longer hide behind the illusion of neutrality, and users could no longer be deceived by it. It would probably be assumed that Facebook would become less attractive as an advertising platform for the advertising industry. Users might be asked to checkout. But with that, they would finally become a product and a customer, and Facebook would become their product, not an advertiser.

At the same time, competition in the social network market should finally be stimulated: it should be possible to switch from Facebook, including all contacts and connections – the so-called social graph – to another social network. Just as in the mobile phone market the right to take the phone number to another provider that made the competition play properly, the portability of the social graph should be guaranteed. The design of the various social networks would then be guided more by user demand and not by politics and interest groups, as is to be feared in the future.

But the social media user cannot avoid one thing: he must act as a responsible and courageous media consumer. It is not brave to arbitrarily topple historical statues from the pedestal in virtual rooms, to ban opinions that deviate from the mainstream or to raise demands for the protection of minorities or the environment to a quasi-religion. It is also not brave to indulge in the illusion that there could be a Facebook that will provide users with the ultimate truth as an independent platform. Responsible citizens dare to deal with the ideas of dissenters on social networks, and they can do it rationally and critically.

Featured

How to write comments that bring visitors (but don’t make you a spammer)

I had to laugh.

A few days ago, I saw a funny photo, and I found the statement particularly apt.

In the photo, we see two older women chatting on the street:

I only dare to go out on the road. It has become too bad on the Internet.

Sometimes it is. People scold, swear, troll, and annoy so much on the Internet that the street is already safer than the Facebook timeline.

On the Internet, many people seem to be losing their manners.

You can see this on blogs too: comments that are pure spam, that offend or that are subliminally arrogant.

Comments are an excellent tool for getting new visitors – if you do it right, because almost every blog offers you the opportunity to leave your URL when you comment.

If the readers find you attractive, click on your link, and you have won a new reader.

Another feature of comments is almost as important: they create a relationship between you and the blogger. Usually, the blog comment is your first encounter with another blogger. So you should make a good impression.

But how do you write good comments?

1.Have a face

Have you ever had a date when you showed up in a Spiderman costume? Or as a Duckwin Duck with a cape and mask?

Of course not.

People with a mask are immediately suspicious. They are up to something or hide something under their cape. You don’t trust such a person.

It’s no different on the Internet.

If you comment, there should be a face – your face.

As a gravatar, do not use childhood heroes or other “masks”. You shouldn’t just use the gray silhouette, which is set by default.

Take a photo where you can sleep well and look beautiful and use it as a gravatar.

Everything else just makes people suspicious – and suspicious people don’t click your link.

2. Have a name

On the Internet, many people like to hide behind a pseudonym.

If it were legally possible, many would even like to blog with a pseudonym – but this is not possible due to the obligation to provide an imprint.

I am not a dating expert, but if you introduce yourself as “Master Yedi” on your date, then I am sure that the meeting will go wrong – unless you are lucky and your counterpart does not label yourself as schizophrenic.

Therefore, use your real name when commenting.

And no, please do not use your domain as a name: “Harry from CoachingDeluxe.de.”

That looks spammy. It looks like you want to put your domain in the comment as often as possible.

So don’t do that.

Just do it: “Harry”.

There is a separate field for the domain.

3. Don’t scatter links.

Links in comments are like fire: they can keep you warm and bring joy, but you can also burn your fingers on them.

So you should treat links to your blog very carefully.

My advice: leave it.

Sure, you may be able to contribute something to the discussion, but no matter how good the link is, it always leaves an impression on the blogger:

He just wants to spread his links.

Maybe some readers have this impression too. It is tough to post a link in the comment without acting like a spammer. And spammers immediately leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

Above all, you should refrain from comments such as: “Cool, I also wrote something on this topic [Link].”

Sincerely: who cares? You join the “me too” shouts at a flea market. You can be happy if the blogger unlocks your comment at all.

If you want to arouse interest and trust, leave the scattering of links in the comment field entirely.

There are better ways to get backlinks.

4. Don’t stink

Self-praise stinks, even on the Internet.

Some people love their voice so much that they can tell you for 15 minutes what they had breakfast and how tenderly the butter melted on their tongues.

Unfortunately, you can also see self-praise in blog comments. And to clarify: self-praise has lost nothing.

How to read comments like:

  • “I’ve been implementing all these tips for years. That’s why I have the leading blog in my niche. Have a look; there you can learn something. “
  • “Nothing new in this post, I’ve been doing everything for years.”
  • “Oh yes: I can make a good living from my blog income and only paid the deposit for my Mercedes SLK yesterday.”

My thought with such comments: Nice for you. You get an order. Pat your shoulder three times.

Seriously: hold yourself back in a comment with self-praise. Otherwise, you are immediately unappealing.

Oh yes: mockery, destructive criticism and sarcasm also stink.

5. Read the article

Yes, this is not a matter, of course.

This phenomenon is often seen on Facebook, where people only see the headline of the article, but are already diligently writing hate comments on Facebook or otherwise adding their mustard.

If you don’t want to go through as a mustard slingshot, then show with your comment that you’ve read the article.

So don’t write: “Great article.”

But: “I loved the example with the mustard. That made the problem so clear to me. “

Do you see the difference

Be as specific as possible and refer to the article – the more specific, the better, because then you can also start a dialogue.

6. Show appreciation

People love recognition.

And when you give others credit, it has a significant effect: people love you too.

Imagine your circle of friends, and a “new” comes into the round. He criticizes each of your friends, enumerates quick facts, and makes an effort to stand in a great light.

Then a second newcomer comes around, and he gives praise. He sincerely praises your friends’ shoes, their smiles and is interested in them.

Which person do you find more likable?

The second, of course. Those who give recognition also get recognition from others.

Therefore, you should always show appreciation in your comments. No, you shouldn’t crawl or slime in the other’s butt, but give honest praise.

As a reminder: When you put it in, you tell people what they want to hear. When you praise, you tell people what they don’t expect.

So your comment should contain a simple element: the compliment.

I don’t say that because I want you to praise me in the comments, but because it should be so. Compliments are the best way to make yourself accessible.

7. Increase the value

Now comes the coronation.

The most important aspect of a useful comment is that it offers added value. Ideally, your comment should increase the value of the article and not decrease it (as unfortunately, spam comments do).

You can deliver added value in the following variants:

  • Tell about personal experiences – Often, in a blog article, you only see one person’s skills. If you bring your expertise into the discussion, people will know that it works for others or that you can do it differently. A good experience report leads readers to this reaction: “Oh, he had the same problem as me. I’ll take a look at his blog. “
  • Ask meaningful questions – in your comments; you should ask questions that others might ask – then other readers will see the answer directly. You should also ask questions that are as specific and goal-oriented as possible. An excellent question is always: “How would you approach Problem X? I can’t get any further … “
  • Add a point – Many bloggers like to write list posts with a fixed number of points. If you can think of another, it would be the perfect material for comment. But please don’t be spiteful or with your big index finger. Just put your tip on the table. If you are lucky, the blogger will even add your comment to his article.

Improve the world

There are enough trolls and spammers on the Internet to make the web a place you don’t like to travel.

We can change that. We can start with ourselves and write comments that are not spammy. Comments that add value. Comments that give honest recognition and do not burst with self-praise.

In the end, only everyone can win: the blogger gets more comments. Good comments get you more attention. And you two enter into a dialogue.

What more do you want?

Featured

4 simple steps so that your content ranks well in the search engine

Imagine that you have created excellent content.

You invested 20 hours, did a lot of research, and packed the findings nicely. It is a little masterpiece. Everything is perfect. Nearly.

With all the effort, you forgot one important thing: good old search engine optimization. By now, you should be convinced that SEO plays a vital role in inbound marketing.

Every inbound marketer should have a bit of space in their hearts for SEO.

So let’s take a look at why SEO is essential and what steps to optimize your content for the search engine.

Why is SEO important?

On the surface, there seem to be significant differences. But if you look at SEO and inbound marketing from different perspectives, you will see that they complement each other perfectly:

When you research for a topic, you do it from the gut or through market research (inbound). But you should also consider proper old keyword research (SEO). Further sources are also good for the consumer (inbound), but they are internal and external links (SEO) simultaneously. After creation, your content must be promoted. The best way to do this is via influencers and guest posts (inbound), but at the same time, you also get external links (SEO). Finally, take a look at the shares and comments and see how well your content performed (inbound). But the search engine rankings are also a good criterion (SEO).

You see, SEO and inbound marketing are a perfect combination. Whereby SEO is just one piece of the puzzle, inbound marketing without SEO would only be half as effective.

Therefore, you should always create content for people and then adapt it to the search engine. And you do that with the following four steps.

1. Research

You might think of search queries and competition when you think of keyword research and the keyword planner, to pure vital figures.

But you should take a vital thought step in advance. You should always speak the language of your target group. You should find out what words your customers use. Different target groups often use different names for the same ideas or concepts.

If you know your target group’s exact words, you can take a look at the key figures:

  • Search queries – Here, you can see how many queries there are for this keyword in a month. Make sure that there are enough search queries. A rough guideline is 1,000. But don’t drive yourself crazy, even a keyword with 50 search queries can be interesting if you catch the entire target group with it.
  • Competition – Here, you can see the game in AdWords for this keyword in most tools. With this, you can derive the game in the search results. Logically, the most attractive are many search queries and little games.
  • Trends – Trends is also an interesting point in the research phase. Google Trends sits on important data and can show you the seasonal popularity of a keyword or generally show whether there is an upward or downward trend.

I do quick keyword research for every content idea to get an impression of how popular the topic is and how difficult it will be to rank.

You can also use keyword research to find new ideas for topics that are important to your target group. Another helpful tool for this is KeywordTool.io.

2. Optimization

Here you have to make sure that Googlebot understands that your content is the desired keyword. The Googlebot is relatively intelligent, but you still have to provide it with a bit of context.

You do this primarily with the classic OnPage optimization. Pay attention to the following points:

  • Title Tag – Your keyword should appear in the Title Tag. Ideally, as close to the beginning as possible. Also, make sure that the title tag does not exceed 75 characters.
  • H1 heading – Your keyword should appear in the H1 line.
  • URL – Your keyword should appear in the URL. In general, your URL should be as short and descriptive as possible. Also, make sure that your entire URL is no longer than 90 characters.
  • H2 and H3 headings – If it fits, it can be an advantage if your keyword appears in the H2 and H3 headings.
  • In the actual text – Depending on the length of your content, your keyword should appear approximately twice in the exact wording. Frequently used related words can also help here.
  • At least 1,000 words – Except for content landing pages, we always recommend writing at least 1,000 words. Correlations repeatedly show that lengthier content ranks better.
  • Bold or Italic – Once your keyword is formatted in bold or italic, preferably as close to the beginning as possible, it can have advantages.
  • Image, alt attribute, and file name – You should have at least one image that contains the keyword as an alt attribute and as a file name.
  • Meta Description – Keywords in the meta description are not a ranking factor, but ensure higher click rates and, therefore, possibly more top rankings. Again, make sure that your meta description does not exceed 160 characters.

Another critical point in this phase is the linking. You or others certainly have content in use that continues to work on a topic that you have outlined. This helps your consumer, but also the search engine. So make sure that you have at least three additional links. We always have a lot more. If you set internal links, be careful not to overdo the anchor text. Always ensure a healthy and natural anchor text ratio.

3. Doctorate

Now the real work is just beginning. In general, you should always actively promote your content. A good guideline is 50/50. So if you spent 50% of the time creating it, spend another 50% supporting it.

Inbound marketing is a long term game. That’s why you should think long-term and build real relationships with influencers in your industry:

If you know a lot of influencers, you can always ask them for links, shares, or guest contributions.

Therefore, create an extensive list of all influencers and start building relationships slowly but strategically.

Another critical point is the topic of link building. You should get into the habit of asking for links regularly. You should build it into your workflow. For example, get in the habit of writing to 10 operators after each publication and asking for links.

It is also interesting to analyze the competition at this point. What does the already ranked content do well? What can you learn from them? With tools like MOZ’s Open Site Explorer, you can find out what your competitor’s link profile looks like and try to build a more robust profile over time.

4. Tracking

Finally, you should always keep an eye on your external links and rankings. After all, you need to know how well you’ve worked and whether you still need to improve, right?

You can use the external links e.g., B. also find out with the Open Site Explorer. But you have to start it manually every time, and the tool is limited to a few requests per day. To monitor the ranking, you can e.g., B. Use Rank Checker. But here, too, it is a bit cumbersome if you want to find out the current classification for your entire client. It’s especially tricky with a ranking history.

In general, it makes sense to create evergreen content. Over time, your rankings should slowly improve on their own, because you will always get new links and shares actively and passively.

What are the content landing pages?

Before we finish, one last thing. It is so small and inconspicuous that it is used far too rarely. But this little thing is the key to good rankings.

If you found a longtail keyword (e.g., “how do I eat a banana”) with little competition during the research phase, simply create content for it. But if you have found a short tail keyword (e.g., “banana”) with higher competition, you should take a detour via a content landing page.

Content landing pages are primarily simple pages that are optimized for a specific keyword. They do not generate their benefits directly but through their further content. Hub pages usually unite one topic. So you find z. B. on our content landing pages on the subject of headings, all new content. It also ranks quite well for that.

You will always link to this content landing page from internal as well as external sources. Due to the high added value of the site, influencers like to share and connect it. So you ensure that you can rank long-term with lucrative but highly competitive keywords.

Conclusion

You should invest a lot of time in creating content and always create content that delivers value.

But with all the effort, you must not forget the good old search engine optimization. SEO and inbound marketing are a perfect combination. Only then will you maximize your results and get an effective marketing strategy.

Let’s summarize the individual steps again:

  1. Research – Find an attractive keyword that is important to your target group.
  2. Optimization – Put the keyword in certain places to give the Googlebot context.
  3. Linking – Set further internal and external links that provide the consumer with even more added value.
  4. Influencers – Promote your content using influencers by asking them for a share, link, or guest post.
  5. Analyze the competition’s link profile and see if you can build a better profile over time.
  6. Tracking – Keep an eye on the external links and rankings and find content that could be improved and optimized.

You can accomplish these steps with the tools mentioned. Unfortunately, these are often only accessible to a limited extent or are very cumbersome.

Featured

SEO tips: off-page optimization in 2020 – how it works!

Even people who otherwise have little to do with SEO should have heard of the topic of on-site SEO. But what about off-page optimization? Is it just about link building, or is there more to it?

Off-page and on-page are two sides of the same SEO medal. Off-page optimization defines all processes and methods that take place away from your website – for example, references from external pages (links).

The ultimate goal of off-page SEO is to attract as many visitors to your website as possible. This can be used to generate sales in the following, or to inform customers about the offers in a retail store, depending on the goals pursued a website.

But how specifically will you tackle off-page optimization in 2020?

Clean link building in magazines, blogs and forums

For search engines, backlinks are still the basis for building trust. The main focus is on the value of a page that issued the link.

If premium magazines, newspapers and Wikipedia link to your site, this is a great sign of trust for Google and will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the ranking.

The term clean link structure is also understood to mean that the pages concerned are selected. Not every page should refer to your page, because this could look like spam. A search engine like Google will see through such measures in the medium term and even punish the landing page in case of doubt.

Link building through resource pages

Resource pages are pages that publish high-quality content on a specific topic. These can be found among others as follows:

“Keyword” + inurl: links

“Keyword” + “Question”

“Keyword” + “resources”

The next step is to check out the free backlink checker from Ahrefs and have the domain checked.

If the page is good enough for a backlink, there are the following approaches to get a backlink from the desired page:

  1. Broken links method. The requested page is scanned for broken links. If you find one, you point this out to the website operator and suggest a replacement. Of course, this should be a suitable, own destination URL.
  2. Guest posts. The operator of the desired page is advised to write a guest post on a specific topic to place the desired backlink then organically.
  3. Find suitable articles on external sites. The blog or website operators are contacted and referred to a new, appropriate source on their landing page and asked whether they would like to incorporate it into their page. This is legitimate because Google also honours when websites are kept up to date and refer to relevant sources.
  4. Answer questions on portals such as Quora, gutefrage.net & Co. to include the appropriate backlinks in the qualified answers.
  5. Write and publish high-quality forum entries that refer to the destination URL.
  6. Create high-quality reference contributions on your page and link them to Wikipedia.
  7. Link exchangeWrite to thematically related pages whether you are interested in a link exchange.
  8. Infographics: If you create great infographics, other people may want to include them on your website. The condition for using the infographic is that a backlink is set.

No matter which of these ways you want to go, creating high-quality content is always part of building backlinks.

One cannot expect much from dubious ranking packs for a few available euros, for example, from Fiver and Co. Here you usually get to deal with “black hat” SEO methods, which will always damage your reputation in the medium term, for example, if there are entries from spam websites under your company name or the backlinks are generated via hacked websites.

People don’t link to your site because they don’t know they exist; and they will not usually know, that they exist unless you tell them about it. “

– Julie Adams, Our Beautiful Planet

Buying premium backlinks and having the link building service carried out by professionals to achieve a sustainable SEO effect makes absolute sense. There, SEO agencies that specialize exclusively in the topic of off-page optimization are recommended.

Other factors of a useful link

If excellent content is provided on the website, organic backlinks will inevitably also result. Forums, in particular, generate some links if the topic is worth discussing. Blogs or newspapers can also mention your page as a reference.

The link strength results from the anchor text, the position of the link in the article and the number of backlinks.

To analyze organic backlinks in more detail, it is worth taking a look at tools such as Seobility (which offers up to one domain and up to 10 keywords for free), Openlink Profiler (completely free) or the Moz Link Explorer.

About the anchor text, it should also be mentioned that a so-called exact match anchor text has its disadvantages. If too many anchor texts with a single specific word or order appear in the link profile, it is reasonable to assume that these are not organic links, but instead, activities related to link exchange or link purchase.

How effective are social signals?

In addition to pure link building (link building), there are also so-called “social signals”. These are mainly tweets, Facebook posts, and all other “social” platforms on which content and links are shared.

Although a direct connection between ranking and social signals is controversial, a correlation can be seen in any case. Google has also confirmed such a relationship:

Social annotations drive a 5% -10% increase in click-through rate, on average.

ZMOT Handbook, Thingwithgoogle.com

Social signals don’t just include tweets and Facebook posts. Social signals are also comments, likes and retweets. Those who focus on this generally have more traffic, since the platforms automatically promote a lot of interaction through the algorithm. Efficient social media marketing should, therefore, also take place.

Also, customer reviews on external sites as Amazon or Google My Business are among the so-called social signal.

Become an opinion leader and strengthen your brand

If you are looking for a specific search term, you will notice that large portals (with a lot of traffic) appear in the top places. This is primarily because Google, Bing and other search engines prefer strong brands and opinion leaders. A well-known brand, therefore, has it more comfortable and more relaxed.

But how can you strengthen your brand? This works especially when there is a lot of talk about a brand name. The mentions on the Internet show that it could be a relevant company. But a large number of high-quality backlinks and a large number of subscribers on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Co. can also be an indication of this.

This is again proof that social media should not be put on the siding, even if you have a limited reach in social media. You can counteract this by, for example, “managing” the current social media trends, that is, by publishing suitable content for popular hashtags.

Criteria on the website

To understand the rankings in the search results, you have to ask what Google values. Google’s goal is to show the best and most relevant content for a given search query. For this, Google uses the so-called user signals, e.g. the length of stay and the bounce rate.

If the user lingers on the page for a long time and even clicks on further pages, then it is a sign that it is relevant content. Google will then reward the page with even more visitors.

Create a monthly report of the off-page optimizations

To draw an interim conclusion, it is worth creating a report with the most important key figures once a month. The reporting can include the following numbers:

Website key figures

  • number of visitors
  • Number of page views
  • Sessions per user
  • Home page views
  • Top 10 Articles
  • The average length of stay per session in seconds
  • Pageviews per session
  • Bounce rate
  • The main traffic sources
  • Share of organic traffic
  • Direct traffic share

Social media

  • Follower XING
  • Twitter followers
  • Facebook likes
  • Followers on Pinterest
  • Followers on LinkedIn
  • Followers on Instagram

In this way, it can be systematically recorded whether the methods in off-page optimization made sense or whether one’s efforts in a particular area still need to be intensified.

Conclusion

With our contribution to “Off-Page Optimization in 2020 – How it Works”, we have prepared a broad overview of the topic for you and showed you how systematic backlinks could be built up.

However, all of this means that high-quality links exist on the target page. Every effective off-page optimization in 2020 goes hand in hand with on-page optimization. In this way, parameters such as loading speed and bounce rate can also be improved.

Featured

How to create content step by step that gets more traffic

If you want to get visitors now, you need to create high-quality content first.

But before you start with the actual work, you should invest a little time in the planning.

Step 1: content planning

By now, you should have roughly defined your inbound marketing strategy and created a buyer persona.

Let’s take a closer look at critical strategic points related to content marketing:

Step 1.1: Define your rough topic

You start by defining your big topic. What category is your company in? Your topic could also be your industry here.

Step 1.2: Define your subtopics.

After you have defined your topic, you should consider the associated subtopics. As a rule, your topic is very rough. What components can you split it into?

With us, it is possible to divide our topic into the following areas: content marketing, social media marketing, blogging, search engine optimization, advertising texts, landing pages, conversion optimization, analytics, design, and marketing automation.

These are the pillars around which your content will turn.

If you follow these two steps, you have mostly automatically defined relevant short head keywords with which you want to rank in the long term. Short Head means that it is short keywords that are searched a lot, but accordingly have a lot of competition.

As a rule, you should find 5-10 subtopics. You can also call these topics or terms “seed keywords.”

Step 1.3: Think about content ideas.

Your seed keywords are the big categories for which you should create content. Here you can choose your rough topic or one of your subtopics (e.g., “Inbound Marketing”) and think about content ideas (e.g., “Inbound Marketing Benefits”) for your editorial plan . At this point, think about a publication rhythm such as B. “once a week”.

Et voilà, you already have an exciting idea and also a keyword that you should focus on. With this, you have automatically defined a long tail keyword. In contrast to the short heads, these are longer and therefore have fewer search queries, but less competition.

Step 1.4: Do keyword research

In between, you should always do little keyword research with the Google Keyword Planner and pay attention to the following points:

  • Relevance – How relevant is your idea to your potential customer? What does he expect? What exactly does your keyword describe?
  • Search queries – How often is your opinion searched for per month? Is the work worth it? Anything over 100 searches is worthwhile.
  • Competitors – How strong is the competition for your idea? How difficult will it be to rank with it?

Since it is not so easy to rank with short head keywords, you should first focus on long-tail keywords with little competition and pick them up first. Let’s do it too! 😉

Step 1.5: Choose the content medium.

In general, you should not start with several media (text, image, audio, video) at the same time, but limit yourself to one medium.

Even if you, For example, a good copywriter up to, creating content that has a marketing function is a bit of a bummer. You have to learn and perfect that first. I only started with text in 2012.

I also recommend that you do not create news-heavy content, but focus on evergreen content. Many of my posts from 2012 are still valid today and are shared diligently. Timeless content is much more efficient. Above all, small businesses always have to struggle with the scarcity of resources. That is inevitable.

Duration: about 1 hour

Step 2: content research

OK. Research doesn’t sound as exciting as letting your creativity run wild and creating content. But solid research is essential if you want to be successful with inbound marketing.

It is about collecting so much data (statistics, examples, quotes, theories, ideas, and stories) for your potential customer to provide them with sufficient information. This is also one of the most common mistakes I see:

Unfortunately, the content is often far too thin.

This is due to a lack of research. Fittingly, Wilson Mizner once said so nicely: “If you steal from an author, it’s called plagiarism. If you take from more than one, it is called research “. I don’t mean that you should copy other content. But you can calmly inspire yourself. After all, there is no monopoly on ideas. It is essential that you bring your own words, your own words, and only your way in your point of view. This makes your content unique.

You will then no longer have any blockages because you have plenty of material that you can use. Even if you’re an expert in your field, you should always research to find exciting ideas that you didn’t have before.

But how do I do it correctly?

Step 2.1: focus on a keyword.

When planning content, we came up with a few content ideas and found a few new keywords to match.

It is crucial here that you focus on a keyword. The trend is in the opposite direction, but that’s how you keep it friendly and straightforward.

Step 2.2: Brainstorming keyword variations

Let’s stick to our example with the advantages of inbound marketing. Here I have z. For example, simply search for “inbound marketing advantages”, “inbound marketing benefits,” and “inbound marketing advantages”.

Step 2.3: Scan the first 100 search results.

I checked the first ten pages for each of these terms, so I scanned all 100 search results. Here I mainly look at the headline and select the posts that seem appropriate to me. Sometimes I find inspiring and exciting articles on page 10. In-depth research pays off! 😉

Then I scan all the posts and filter out those that are not relevant. Amazingly often, there is still inferior content.

Step 2.4: Consume the found content.

Finally, I consume the content and keep taking notes at the same time. I also collect essential sources such as studies or statistics, which I will link later.

During this research, you automatically check your competitors. So look at what they do well and what they do bad. Then think about what you can do better.

Step 2.5: stay up to date.

Also, you should regularly consume a lot of third-party content to acquire plenty of inspiration, ideas, and metaphors. Therefore, you should also follow your influencers and look at their content.

Duration: about 4 hours

Step 3: Content creation

Anyone can create mediocre content.

But producing content that is regularly read, shared, and linked is a somewhat higher art. An art that is hard and takes time. The resources and knowledge needed.

Now let’s take a look at how the process works in detail. Whether you choose text, image, audio, or video, the workflow always remains the same:

Step 3.1: Think of your buyer persona.

First, take your buyer persona at hand, imagine it again in your mind’s eye and start producing content just for them!

Step 3.2: Create a heading

Your headline is the essential element. It is a promise in return for the valuable time of your prospect.

Therefore, make sure that your heading contains a benefit. What does your prospect benefit from? What’s in it for him? A simple trick here is to start with a “like you” heading. When you do that, you automatically force yourself to think about its benefits.

Take your time here. You should create at least 10-30 variations of a heading.

Always remember that everything is only temporary. The finishing touches come later. I always choose the first best. But over time, I keep changing it because I find something better.

Step 3.3: Create an introduction

With the introduction or the intro, you have to pull your prospect into your content. That is why it is the second most crucial element.

Tell something exciting here, make a definite statement, ask a provocative question, or list exciting statistics. Work here with things that draw attention. You are welcome to tell a story that, at first glance, has nothing to do with the topic.

Step 3.4: create a structure.

Then you think of a structure that breaks up your content into small parts. If you focus on the text, we are talking about the subheadings here.

Make sure that they are in a logical order (such as the post you are reading). You should also remember that the beginning and the end are essential. These are the points we humans remember.

Step 3.5: fill in the blanks.

If you have a structure, you have created a form that you only have to fill out. This makes the whole thing much more comfortable.

So start by writing down everything you can think of and what you’ve learned from your research. Don’t pay attention to structure or spelling. The main thing is to put your thoughts on paper!

Step 3.6: Don’t forget the conclusion

A missing conclusion is one of the most common points that I miss from our guest authors and generally on the web.

Therefore, summarize the entire topic in a few sentences, since many only look at the conclusion. In the end, feel free to ask an open question to encourage comments or make a direct call for action. An exciting cliffhanger is not wrong at this point, either.

Step 3.7: do the finishing touches.

You have now created a rough draft. Now you have to grind it again from start to finish.

The previous steps were your notes or script if you focus on image, audio, or video. Now it’s about the creation of the recording.

Make sure that your content is personal, that you use everyday language (content is not an essay), and tell stories.

Step 3.8: take a break.

Yeah, congratulations! You have a robust design! You can now retake a look at it, but editing or editing it doesn’t do much.

You’re just too blind, too deep in the subject.

So you shouldn’t do anything at first. It sounds ironic, but it is true. Have a beer or wine to celebrate the day. Relax! 😉

The next day you should start again with fresh eyes. I do it in detail like this:

  • Day 1: Research, brainstorm, and make enough notes. Then nothing. Then take a break.
  • Day 2: Make a first rough draft. Bring in a little structure and order. Then retake a break.
  • Day 3: Fine-tune your content until it’s perfect. Then feed him in and publish it.

It works well!

Step 3.9: Optimize for the search engine.

After the fine-tuning and the break, you take care of the on-page optimization. Here you simply make sure that your focus keyword appears in the following element on your page:

  • Title tag
  • URL
  • H2 and H3 heading
  • In the actual text
  • Bold or italic
  • Image, alt attribute, and filename
  • Meta description

Also, you could now do OffPage optimization and take care of what’s outside of your website. All to get links. But here is the most straightforward strategy to start with to create content that is automatically linked because of its added value.

Step 3.10: Add your content

Finally, you have to enter your content. To do this, copy your text into your CMS and, if necessary, upload your infographic, podcast episode, or video.

Make sure that your spelling is correct, that you are using further links and show notes, and that the formatting is designed appropriately.

Duration: about 4 hours

Step 4: content marketing

Unfortunately, the fun doesn’t stop after the content is created. That was only 50% of the work. You should spend the remaining 50% doing your doctorate.

The internet is just a crowded place. Your content may be great, but finding it is a problem.

Getting your content closer to your target audience is hard work!

To make things a little easier, follow the steps below. Of course, you don’t have to take them all now. But the more, the better results:

Step 4.1: Create an email campaign

Your audience should always know about your new content first. And email is still the best way.

Your email subscribers are your real audience.

That is also the basic idea of ​​inbound marketing. You start with a small audience and let it grow bigger and bigger, and they help you more and more to spread your content and your brand accordingly.

Step 4.2: Link from older content

Many like to forget this point. You should link from your older content to your new content. Here you already have perfect prospects and customers who may also be interested in your new content.

Step 4.3: Promote via social media.

Social media is the best place to discover content. That is why you should share your content there via your fan page, relevant groups, and also via your private profile.

Here you can promote your content more often. In the past, we only got a doctorate once. Today we do five promotions per content. Much more effective.

Step 4.4: leave comments.

High-quality comments that add value to entertainment are excellent content that can draw attention to your new content.

You should have thought about who your influencers are in your inbound marketing strategy. So leave comments on relevant posts and link your new content.

Step 4.5: contact your influencers.

If you’re already with your influencers, slowly build a relationship with them and ask them to share your content or link them where appropriate.

Step 4.6: Write guest posts

Guest posts are an excellent strategy to reach the audience you want quickly. Everyone involved benefits. Guest posts can also provide relevant links that can have a positive impact on your rankings.

Buffer has e.g., B. wrote 60 guest posts at the beginning and thus got 100,000 customers. Not bad, right?

Step 4.7: Unlock Paid Ads

You can also spend a bit of money and promote your content via social ads (such as Facebook ads) or search ads (such as Google AdWords). Facebook, in particular, makes it pretty easy with its boost function.

Step 4.8: be creative.

Finally, you can get creative with your marketing. Mint has z. B. worked with badges with something like, “I’m horny for mint” on it. Over 600 blogs took part, linked the website, and gave Mint a lot of visitors and links. Blog parades count e.g., B. also here. Or how about a crazy marketing stunt?

It is even more relaxed if you already plan your doctoral strategy when it is created. So you can e.g., B. mention, quote, and link your influencers in your content. So you have a good reason to let them know afterward.

Duration: about 4 hours

Step 5: content optimization

When many hear “content optimization”, most think of the search engine. But just focusing on it here is a bit too short.

After all, inbound marketing is about more than just the search engine!

So let’s take a look at the individual steps to optimize your content so that it produces better results.

Step 5.1: optimize your content.

First, take a look at your visitors. Does your content marketing work at all? Do you even get visitors with your content?

If not, you should first look at your formatting. Your content has to be attractive. Even if that sounds like a trifle, I often stumble across content that looks inferior but is not.

Then you should look at your quality and ask yourself if your content is of high quality. At this point, also look at your grammar, spelling, content length, and whether you get to the end.

Step 5.2: optimize for social.

In this step, you look at your shares. Is your content shared at all? That’s a good factor in whether your content is of high quality.

Another, not so unimportant, point is the social media images. Do you have an exciting picture at all? Can you see your intriguing headline in the picture?

Also, it can only be due to marketing. Therefore, check again if you can go more about influencers and guest posts.

In some industries (most sensitive topics), content is not shared publicly. Here you simply have to focus on the search engine.

Step 5.3: Optimize for Search

Here you look at the absolute criterion: your rankings. How well does your content rank for your focus keyword? You should also see how many links your content has received. Links are still one of the most crucial ranking factors.

What can you do about it? First, focus again on the good old OnPage optimization and see if you meet all the points from step 3.9. Often you go over here quickly and like to forget some points! 😉

You can still do link building and ask for links to essential content influencers, magazines, bloggers, and other websites. The best thing to do is simply go through guest posts here.

Step 5.4: Optimize for conversions.

Finally, you look at the business indicators. Is your content already generating leads? Can you attribute your content to your sales?

What you can do about it is challenging to say. Then you probably have a strategic problem. Then you should dig in-depth, conduct interviews with your prospects and customers, and try to find out why.

Check out what the best content is. Why does it work so well? Can you create more content like this?

Duration: infinite

Conclusion

The core of inbound marketing is always about content marketing. So you have to start with quality content to get traffic.

But before you start, you should plan a bit and think about your keywords and content ideas.

After that, you should do extensive research and collect enough data to provide your prospect with enough information.

Only then will you be able to create content that delivers value.

Once you’ve created your content, you should market it via email, social media, comments, influencers, guest posts, and paid ads.

Your content is never perfectly optimized. Always better. That’s why you should run there regularly.

Inbound marketing is a journey. And no campaign.

Featured

7 easy steps to create a simple content plan

If you want to start with content marketing, you have the best ideas.

You have the best ideas. You think that you can let off steam and get creative.

You can see how your content is going viral and loved. You dream of creating the largest content hub in your industry that is respected and even a little idolized.

Everything is super. Everything is rosy. So you just get started. You start without a strategy. And without a plan.

And what happens? Nothing. The success is missing.

Why? Precisely: lack of planning. All of this is just not so well thought out.

I understand you all too well. I am a big fan of “hands-on” and “just do it”. But you have to plan! At least a bit.

Therefore, create a simple content strategy. And then a simple content plan. We will now discuss in detail how the latter works.

But one by one.

What is a content plan?

A content plan is similar to a project plan. There you define activities, milestones, and dates.

In principle, you do precisely the same thing with content planning, only about content marketing.

With your content strategy, you first determine the rough direction you want to go. You answer the following questions:

  • Where do you want to go
  • Why do you want to go there
  • How do you want to get there roughly?

In your content plan, on the other hand, you describe the exact things you want to do to make your strategy come true. Your questions become more detailed:

  • What exactly do you want to do?
  • How exactly do you want to do it?
  • When exactly do you want to do it?

So it’s the tactical plan you want to go to. So it’s far more than a simple editorial policy.

Why is a content plan so important?

Benjamin Franklin once said: “By making mistakes in preparation, you are preparing for the mistake.”

And if you don’t prepare at all, it can only be a mistake. Then how can you win at all?

With proper content planning, you simply increase your likelihood of success.

If you want to go on vacation and have no plan at all where, how, and when you want to go there, how do you ever want to get there?

A content plan clarifies the path you need to take to make your content strategy a reality.

So you save time that you would otherwise waste by going the wrong way. This makes everything more efficient, effective, and targeted.

If you then document the whole thing, i.e., write it down, you double your chance. Because 60% of companies that have a documented content strategy feel effective, 39% only have a verbal plan.

It’s really like this: A solid strategy and a solid plan distinguish good from great content hubs.

Step 1: set your content goal.

Think about precisely what you want to achieve with your content plan. What is your goal? Why do you want to do content marketing at all?

You usually have the following options to choose from:

  • Awareness – You want more people to know your brand, company, or you.
  • Visitors – You want more traffic on your website.
  • Contacts – You want more leads or more subscribers.
  • Customers – you simply want more customers. (We all want that!)
  • Customer Loyalty – You want your customers to stay longer, buy more and more.
  • Unique selling point – you want to set yourself apart from your competitors through content.
  • Authority – You want to position yourself as a thought leader and expert in your industry.

We mostly want to achieve all the points. Nevertheless, you should commit to one goal, if possible – The One Thing.

Then you align everything towards this goal. You make sure that you achieve the goal or that the key figures go up.

You are speaking of critical figures. Also, think about how you want to measure your goal. If it is known, it will not be that easy. You can measure the rest with Google Analytics or Matomo.

For example, we only focus on our subscribers. As long as they grow, everything else becomes (shares, registrations, sales, etc.). So we don’t think “in leads,” but “in the audience.” Our goal is to build a growing audience.

For example :

  • Subscribers

Step 2: Choose a content medium (and a content hub)

The next step is about your content medium, which in turn determines your content hub.

You have the following options to choose from:

  • Text – Create an excellent blog.
  • Audio – Create a podcast (which should technically also be on a blog).
  • Video – Create a video channel (which should also be technically in a blog).
  • Image – Create infographics (which should also be technically in a blog).
  • Course – Create a free member area.
  • Print – Create a magazine or book (technically, you would need at least one landing page for that ).

I observe some who want to serve all media at once. So a great blog, a great podcast, and a great video channel. Everything at the same time. And then best of all, a print book afterward! Good luck!

Therefore, you should always concentrate on one medium at a time. You have to master one medium before you can start with the other.

Also, you may not like every medium. Or not every medium fits your company and your customers. And that’s okay too.

At the moment we are only focusing on text, for example (although I am so keen on podcasting again). We want to keep this focus for some time. At the same time, I’m writing a print book.

Example:

  • text
  • Print

Step 3: Choose your content formats

Now you are considering which content formats you want to use. The forms are related to the choice of your content medium (and content hub).

You have the following formats to choose from:

  • items
  • Podcast episode
  • Video
  • Infographic
  • Webinar
  • PDF (e-book, white paper, etc.)
  • Print book
  • Print magazine
  • Photo / graphic / sketch note
  • Slides / Slideshare

You can also focus on e-mail and create a pure e-mail newsletter, such as The Hustle or MorningBrew.

However, I would not commit myself so strictly here. For example, if you usually create blog articles but have the idea for an infographic, you should also cut out the infographic.

Of course, you can also combine the formats, for example, insert slideshares in your blog article.

But in the end, this is also about the focus:

Therefore choose as few formats as possible.

Also, don’t just choose a format because it’s hot right now (it might even be smarter to choose the opposite). Choose the sizes that suit your company, your customers, and you.

For example, I would like to see infographics and podcast episodes again. But until I muddle in there, it’s quicker and more efficient just to write a blog article.

Example:

  • Blog article
  • Print book

Step 4: determine your content mix.

A solid content mix rounds off your content marketing. It ensures that everyone is happy and that you get the most out of it.

To determine your content mix, you should know the different properties that make up your content.

Let’s take a closer look:

  • News content – current content.
  • Entertainment content – only entertaining content.
  • Evergreen Content – Useful, timeless content.

Think about what kind of content you want to create. I always recommend Evergreen Content because it is the most efficient in the long run. The other two can also work.

  • Search content – content that is found in the search results.
  • Viral content – content that spreads virally via social media.

Think about whether you want to focus on the search engine or virality. Back then, with the monkey blog, for example, there were no searches. So I only focused on viral content.

  • Quality content is of high quality (e.g., a blog article with 1,000 words).
  • High-Quality Content – content that is of very high quality (e.g., a blog article with 2,000 words).
  • Skyscraper content is very long and of very high quality (e.g., a guide with 10,000 words).

Determine how deep you want to go in your content creation. This is a crucial unique selling point.

  • Company content – content that revolves around your company.
  • Personal content – content that revolves around you.
  • Influencer content – content that revolves around influencers in your industry.
  • Opinion content – content that has a clear opinion and divides the camp.
  • Heart content – content that is close to your heart, and that simply need to be said.
  • Community content – content that comes from your community.

These points already go in the direction of content ideas. But you must think about it. These are all essential qualities that you should address and should not forget.

  • Guest Content – Content created by guests.
  • Sales content – content that revolves around selling your products or services.

Finally, determine whether you want guest posts and guest appearances as well as sales-oriented content at all.

You can now make individual pieces of content from these content properties (e.g., “The ten best marketing experts”), or you can weave them in again and again if it fits (e.g., you mention the ten marketing experts in 10 different articles).

But I wouldn’t be super strict here either. If you don’t usually create skyscraper content, but suddenly have the idea for it, go for it!

Example: 

  • Evergreen content only
  • Focus on search content
  • Quality (+ a bit of high quality)
  • Integrate Company + Personal + Influencer + Sales
  • Guest content (if it fits)

Step 5: Choose your content frequency.

In this step, you determine how regularly you want to publish content.

You simply answer the following three questions:

  1. How many times a day/month/year do you want to publish?
  2. On what day of the week you want to post?
  3. How much are you want to publish?

Make sure that you plan enough time. Instead, publish less, but correct and in good quality. As a rule, you also have to deal with day-to-day business.

In general, regularity is essential. This is how you demonstrate that you are reliable. This is the only way to build a stable relationship of trust with your potential customer.

Example:

  • 2 times / month
  • on Monday
  • 8:00 a.m.

Step 6: create your content calendar.

Your content calendar is your editorial plan . It shows how your content marketing looks from a bird’s eye view over a specified period.

You can map it analog (e.g., as a calendar on the wall), digital (e.g., as a Google spreadsheet ), or as an app (e.g., with Trello ).

When creating a content calendar, pay attention to the following columns, which should be there:

  • Headline – What is the preliminary headline?
  • Tags – Which tags, topics, or categories can you assign?
  • Author – who is the author of the content?
  • Date – When should the material be published?
  • Status – Is it still in the idea or draft stage, or has it already been published?

In theory, you can even omit the date. You have already set the content frequency. Then you would just knock the part out once it’s done. But a specific time ensures that you also comply with the publication.

After you have created a structure for your editorial plan, you have to fill it out. 

Plan only 3 to 6 months. Things just change too quickly today; you have to be able to react to them. Therefore, also plan a buffer. It always takes longer than you think. And you can then respond quickly to trends.

Example:

Step 7: define your content guidelines.

Finally, we set a few rules. These ensure that you, your team, and your external content creators (e.g., freelancers and guest authors) produce a uniform appearance.

There are no rules on how to set up such a set of rules. But here are some points that you should consider:

General

  • Length – How long should your content be? (eg “at least 1,000 words”)
  • Art – How should your content be? (e.g., “profound, detailed and concrete”)
  • Salutation – Duzen: How should the “d” be written?

Spelling

  • Brand names – Are there any special features about your brand name? (e.g. “monkey blog” – the “a” was always small)
  • Terms – How do you write English terms, like German-English terms? (e.g. “content marketing” – i.e., without a hyphen, but “content creation” – with a hyphen)
  • Numbers – spelled out or as a number? (eg “6 months”)
  • Percent – written out or as a sign? A space in between? (e.g. “7%”)
  • Area – What about “from-to”? Spelled out or as a sign? Also, a space in between? (eg “10 – 20”)
  • Bullet points – what needs to be considered? Do they have a period in the end?

miscellaneous

  • Formatting – How do you want to emphasize things? Bold or italic?
  • Links – How to link? As short as possible or whole groups of words?
  • Abbreviations – Is there something to be considered here? Do you want to use any at all?
  • Emojis – is there anything to consider here? Do you want to use any at all?
  • GIFs – Is there anything to consider here? Do you want to use any at all?
  • Response times – How quickly should a comment be answered?

Wordlist

Finally, you maintain a list of words with words that everyone writes differently and thus define a uniform spelling (e.g., “e-book”).

Your content guidelines are a living document. So if you stumble across something (such as a new word for your word list), add it.

Example:

Conclusion

As I said, I always start with one thing immediately. But so that your dreams and ideas do not burst, you should first create a content strategy and then a content plan.

It can be effortless. You can do that in my head too. The main thing is that you think about it and don’t just get started. Then I would be happy!

Currently, our content marketing finally feels good! A bit of strategy and planning has never hurt anyone! 

Featured

The Sales Funnel: Really everything you need to know about it

“Know, like, and trust.”

This is how John Jantsch describes marketing.

So it’s always about your potential customers getting to know and like you first. Only then will they build trust.

That’s why inbound marketing is about your customers finding you.

It’s a good start, but it’s only the first step. But what happens afterward?

This is where the sales funnel comes into play. This is based on the right, old AIDA formula. So let’s start with that.

What is the AIDA formula?

In 1898, a marketer by the name of Elias St. Elmo Lewis came up with a tried and tested method of turning prospective customers into customers:

  • Attention (attention) – Win the attention of your potential customers for your solution.
  • Interest (interest) – Keep your potential customers interested so that they can deal more closely with your answer.
  • Desire (wish) – Awaken the wishes of your potential customers by communicating the benefits.
  • Action (action) – Make a clear call to work so that your potential customer will buy your solution.

It is the classic buying process that everyone goes through. Everything in marketing is based on this simple formula. For example, your homepage, your email campaigns, landing pages, and your sales funnel are inbound marketing process.

But what exactly is the latter?

What are a sales funnel?

As a rule, every company uses a sales funnel. Consciously or unconsciously. Complete or incomplete.

You can think of a sales funnel as a funnel. Put a lot of water in at the top, and a fine jet comes out at the bottom. Accordingly, you pack visitors in at the top, and perfect customers come out at the bottom.

But with a household funnel, the same amount of water comes out at the bottom. However, this is not the case with a sales funnel. So the metaphor of a holey sales funnel is much better.

So you lose visitors, leads, and customers along the way.

The sales funnel is often also called “conversion funnel”, “marketing funnel”, ” email funnel “, “content funnel” or simply “funnel”. In principle, everyone thinks the same thing, always has a slightly different perspective. Sometimes with subtle differences.

According to the inbound style, the sales funnel lacks an important part, namely, what comes after the deal.

Therefore, the new customer journey is much better as a starting point.

What role does the customer journey play in the sales funnel?

The customer journey is the journey that your potential customer goes through until he becomes a customer:

Let’s go through the individual phases briefly:

  • Awareness – Your potential customer recognizes their problem or need, has become aware of, and is interested in your solution.
  • Consideration – Your potential customer is considering buying your solution. He is thinking about how well she can solve the problem or satisfy the need.
  • Conversion – your potential customer buys your solution and uses it.
  • Retention – Your customer is satisfied or even enthusiastic about your answer. If possible, he will repurchase your answer.
  • Advocacy – Your customer is so excited that he tells his friends, family, and colleagues about your answer.

If you e.g., B. wants to buy a new car, don’t go straight to the first best dealer, do you? Most people first think about buying a new car. Go peddling a bit with the thought. They then search and research online. You get several offers and compare them. Finally, they do one or more test drives. If everything is correct, only then will they buy the new vehicle.

This process is anything but linear. That’s why it’s a trip. A wild trip. It can take a long time. In between, there can be short or long breaks. There are many points of contact with the company. Usually, there are about seven until it is bought.

If we now take the customer journey and compare the AIDA formula, it looks like this:

It’s two sides of the same coin. Nearly. Because, as already mentioned, an important part is missing, namely what comes after the sale.

Therefore there is a lot of criticism. The question that arises: Is this sales process still up to date today?

How important are the sales funnel today?

There are many posts ( herehere and here ) that describe that the sales funnel no longer so important. That it’s too linear. Today the customer journey has gotten a lot of wilder with lots of different touchpoints.

In response, McKinsey has created an exciting model that is circular:

They call it the “Customer Decision Journey”. But here, too, some voices say that the model is out of round. Because it’s not just about the decision, it’s about the relationship.

Brian Clark from Copyblogger has developed another exciting model that does not look at the funnel from the side, but from above and focuses on inbound marketing:

Of course, I agree with all of this. For me, the models often mean the same thing. Sometimes a little something is missing, but I would like to add it! 🙂

The thing is, everything is based on the right old AIDA formula. Because that’s the buying process that we all go through, that was the case 100 years ago and will remain so for the next 100 years.

However, as a company, we still have the responsibility to not stop after the sale and to keep delighting our customers.

What are the advantages of a sales funnel?

If you keep in mind the metaphor of a funnel, there are several advantages:

  • Clarity – it becomes clear to you that it is quite reasonable for not all of your prospects to become customers. You also have a solid overview of your sales process.
  • Measurability – You know the individual phases and can measure your success precisely. You know which screws you should turn to increase your sales.
  • Forecasts – You know your key figures and make better and easier predictions for future sales growth. This gives you a better basis for planning.

The focus on your sales funnel brings you more efficiency and a higher customer lifetime value. Simply put, you sell more.

How do you create a sales funnel?

A simple sales funnel can be divided into three levels and looks like this:

If you like, you can still pack “opportunities” (qualified lead) between leads and customers. Or split your points into MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) or SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads). There is no right or wrong here. It always depends on your company and your sales funnel.

  • Visitor – The visitor is attracted by high-quality content and lands on our website.
  • Lead – The visitor becomes a lead by downloading our free e-book or signing up for our free updates.
  • Signup – The point sees the calls-to-action on our website and receives emails to test Chimpify.
  • Customer – The user checks our platform, possibly gives us feedback, and buys our solution. Mission accomplished.

Since I am a big fan of keeping things as simple as possible, I recommend that you start with the three simple steps and add some if necessary.

What else should you be aware of in your sales funnel?

Another vital part that is somewhat invisible is the value ladder.

But because you are now looking at your offer in stages, you notice gaps to be able to accompany your customer even better.

It also increases your customer lifetime value because a customer who has already bought something from you is more willing to buy something from you again.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re a coach. Accordingly, a simple value ladder would look like this: e-book (lead magnet)> book (frontend offer)> conference (middle offer)> seminar (backend offer). At first glance, this doesn’t seem particularly exciting, but it is powerful.

Mainly because of backend sales. So you can afford not to be profitable in the frontend or only to cover costs (e.g., if you publish your book for free or very cheaply) because you know that you can expect a long-term customer relationship later. Provided, of course, that you know your key figures.

If you are a software company, you usually automatically have a value ladder in it. Because here, the packages are limited by defined factors. With us, these are e.g., B. Email contacts. And when your customers grow, you grow with them.

With your funnel, think about which products that build on one another and could offer (preferably with costs, but also free of charge), so that you can accompany your customers perfectly and get the most out of your company.

What do a sales funnel looks like in inbound marketing?

After taking a simple sales funnel, let’s take a quick look at what it looks like in inbound marketing.

Since inbound marketing is very content-heavy, it is about which content you should deliver at which phase of the customer journey or sales funnel. Here you should make sure that you always use the entire content.

Which key figures should you consider in the sales funnel?

Fortunately, with a simple sales funnel, there are not many indicators that you should look at. In essence, it’s always about the number of conversions and the associated conversion rate.

Above all, you should always keep an eye on the conversion rate. It is the lever for more efficiency.

Here are a few benchmarks that you can use for a fixed rate:

  • CVR visitors to lead: 1-3%
  • CVR leads to customers: 0.5-5%

As always, with benchmarks, that’s one thing. They should only give you a rough direction. The main thing is that you focus on regularly increasing your key figures.

We track our funnel daily to keep our finger on the pulse. We also look at it together every week and think about where we can still optimize.

Conclusion

Inbound marketing is always about being found by your potential customers. But just being seen is not enough.

Therefore, you should focus on your sales funnel.

Your goal should be to set up your funnel as quickly as possible, track it regularly, and optimize it. In this way, you gently guide your prospects from one phase to the next and accompany them on their customer journey.

Even if some voices think that the sales funnel no longer relevant, it is nevertheless. It’s just the classic buying process that we humans go through. You can’t shake it.

You mustn’t forget your customer after the sale.

A sales funnel often ends up with sales. But that is also automatic (as the Atlassian story shows, for example ).

Featured

Mobile marketing with augmented reality? Tips, tricks and ideas!

When it comes to the latest trends in online marketing, augmented Reality should not be missing. Since the great success of Pokémon Go in summer 2016, many marketers have the technology on their watchlist. Still, often ideas and concrete use cases were missing to implement their AR projects. With seven use cases for mobile marketing with augmented Reality, I would like to provide you with initial inspiration that makes you want to use innovative technologies in marketing.

With GoogleAR, brands can present their products as a 3D model in the search results.

Augmented Reality? What is that?

In contrast to Virtual Reality, where users can fully immerse themselves in the virtual world with VR glasses, with augmented Reality the real world is preserved, and digital elements are added. We need suitable technical aids for this: Google Glass, Microsoft Hololens, and Magic Leap are the first AR glasses for this purpose. However, the models are still far from the mass market and are currently used in various industrial solutions. Due to their short reach, they are presently hardly relevant for marketing. So does that mean we have to wait a few more years for AR marketing?

No, we don’t have to. Fortunately, augmented Reality can also be experienced with a smartphone or tablet, so that AR marketing measures currently take place primarily in the field of mobile marketing. AR software extends the smartphone or tablet camera image with 3D-registered and, in the best case, real-time interactive elements, which results in exciting application possibilities. I want to use the following seven use cases to demonstrate how Augmented Reality can be used to achieve marketing goals:

Awaken the desire to travel with augmented Reality

To encourage long-distance travel, Lufthansa used the AR function of the Shazam app as part of a price campaign. The so-called walk-in ads open virtual portals with which travel destinations can be experienced virtually. To do this, users have to click on an advertisement within Shazam, and without an additional app download, they end up in the augmented reality experience. For this purpose, a virtual gate appears on the smartphone display, if you walk through it with your cell phone in your hand, you will find yourself on a virtual viewing platform in New York and can view it from a 360-degree perspective. Atmospheric sound effects support the visual experience.

Lufthansa is sure to attract the attention of users with this unusual advertising medium, as the AR-Ad stands out from the pool of known ad formats, especially since so far, only a few consumers have contacted AR advertising. The extent to which the AR application is suitable for converting users to book flights has remained unanswered.

Shop virtually with an AR app

Augmented Reality also has an increasing right to exist in e-commerce. AR can help, especially when it comes to products where photos and videos are not enough to adequately represent them. This is how OTTO makes it possible with the AR app yourhome To try out pieces of furniture digitally in your own home. Using the smartphone camera, the app calculates the room dimensions about the product, so that the two-dimensional camera image creates a true-to-scale, three-dimensional space for furnishing. Buyers can then place the desired objects in it to check proportions, try out different setting options, or assess whether the new floor lamp fits so well in the planned living room corner or not. Amazon also enables a comparable user experience with the Amazon AR View Home app and offers furniture, electronic products, household appliances, and toys as 3D objects that can be placed virtually in your own home:

Augmented Reality in Google search results

Since the announcement by Google manager Aparna Chennapragada at the I / O developer conference in May 2019, we have known that the search engine is using augmented Reality in the search results pages (SERPs). Various brands have already created the first use cases of the new AR function as part of mobile marketing. For example, if you search for the SUV model “XT6” from the Cadillac car brand on your smartphone, Google offers the option “view in 3D” and the car can be virtually parked in front of your garage entrance and can be viewed in three dimensions from all sides. This allows brands to emotionally bind potential buyers to the product at an early stage by integrating it directly into their own consumer lives.

To use Google’sGoogle’s AR feature, 3D models of your products must be uploaded, and you can find them by adding a code snippet. The algorithm of the company currently decides whether the 3D model then makes it into the search results or not.

Screenshot of GoogleAR in the SERPs

Fire free for AR couponing

Burger King launched a creative attempt in augmented Reality last year in Brazil. Burger King equipped its app with an AR feature for the “Burn that Ad” AR campaign. If users aimed the front camera in their smartphone at the logo of the competition, it went up in flames. As a reward for a virtually flared McDonalds billboard, there was then a voucher code for a free Whopper burger the next time you went to the restaurant. The campaign aimed to publicize the new payment method by smartphone in Brazil.

Virtual try-on with augmented Reality

While Facebook and Instagram have already integrated augmented Reality into their platforms, YouTube is now also testing with “Virtual Try-on.” The cosmetic brand L’OrealL’Oreal is currently one of the guinea pigs of the new function and offers customers the opportunity to see a tutorial in the upper part of a split-screen, while they can virtually try out the lipsticks themselves in the lower half of the screen.

Since buying ModiFace, which specializes in AR and AI, L’OrealL’Oreal had increasingly been using virtual try-on in 2018. With augmented Reality, L’OrealL’Oreal customers can try out different makeup and hair colors on themselves, for example. In addition to successful product advice, the goal of AR deployment is to increase brand loyalty and awareness, by merely sharing the virtual try-on via social media. The app is not only available for users at home but also on tablets on-site in stores to lower the inhibition threshold for downloading the app.

AR filter in social media

AR filters are becoming increasingly popular in social media marketing. Snapchat was a pioneer here for a long time, but Facebook is closely following. AR filters can create funny and surprising effects in selfies and expand photos with products, film, or advertising characters. The key to your AR filters is called Spark AR, a software developed by Facebook that is easy to understand even for laypeople and beginners. Netflix provided an example of augmented reality marketing with AR filters at the start of the second season of Stranger Things :

The entertainment factor of AR filters is significant and leads to the fact that users actively interact with the advertising and, in the best case, disseminate the results. In combination with influencer marketing, AR filters can become a real awareness magnet. Influencers can use the filters created by the brands to draw attention to the product, service, or event in question.

Find the right size with augmented Reality

The DHL Packset app offers a practical AR application that helps customers find the right package size. Everyone has probably faced the question of whether the “S” size is sufficient or should be sent as an “M” package. Augmented Reality can now help by scanning the object that they want to communicate with their camera: The AR function shows the different package sizes so that it is easy to see whether it is too small. The object would protrude, for example. Once the correct package size has been found, the shipping label can be booked directly on the go, and the order can be completed in an e-branch of Deutsche Post.

Nike offers a similar AR application and measures the user’s feet to suggest the correct shoe size. Augmented Reality is particularly convincing in that it makes the buying experience even easier for the customer.

Conclusion: a good time for augmented reality marketing

Currently, more and more brands are starting to try out augmented reality marketing, because the timing is perfect: On the one hand, the creation of AR content is becoming more relaxed and more comfortable, so simple AR applications can already use common assets such as text, images, and videos generated, but they unfold their full effectiveness with 3D models. This makes the technology attractive not only for consumers but also for industrial goods marketing since suitable data is already available in many cases.

The decisive factor for marketing success, however, is above all the increasing distribution and improved usability: Where previously an app download was necessary, there are now more and more options for browser-based AR measures that can be integrated directly into social media, for example. Here, brands can currently particularly benefit from the novelty of the technology, since consumers have not yet had enough of the new format. Another advantage is the activating effect of Augmented Reality, which offers users the opportunity to deal intensively with the AR application instead of passive consumption. So technology provides a lot of creative potentials to reach users in new ways.

Featured

Dropshipping can never be worth it!

Dropshipping is not economical and even less ecological.

Oh, that was a tough nut, wasn’t it? But how do I get it?

Dropshipping – what is it?

Let’s start at the very beginning with the question of what dropshipping is, what’s really behind it and why most companies inevitably have to fail because of it.

Most retailers already know dropshipping as drop shipping. In the case of a drop shipment, the dealer accepts an end customer’s order, even though he does not have the goods in stock himself. He forwards this order to his wholesaler or manufacturer, who in turn delivers (sometimes anonymously) directly to the end customer.

A simple business model and sounds very profitable, because we as a dealer have no own storage costs, but outsource this cost point to the supplier. This business model takes advantage of marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and even real, -. In the markets mentioned, we as dealers immediately benefit from an enormous reach, excellent infrastructure and established customer service. In return, we pay a relatively low sales commission. Simple principle and most online retailers have been familiar with at least two of the marketplaces for more than ten years. But how is it that the whole thing should not be worth it?

How dropshipping works

To do this, we have to go a little further:

Let’s take a look at how a drop shipping business is structured in detail. First of all, there is an end customer who comes to us with a demand. We confirm that we can meet this demand at a price mentioned (ideally this is the MSRP), but (currently) we do not have the item in stock ourselves. After our end customer has ordered, we pass the order on to our wholesaler or manufacturer with the request to deliver directly to the customer. Our wholesaler is now checking whether he can provide the ordered quantities at the required conditions. If he cannot do this, he passes the order on to another location or rejects our request. If he can fulfil them, the only question left is who will bear the freight costs?

Oh, we haven’t considered that yet! Who takes care of the freight? We already have a first stumbling block here, why many companies have to fail because of the dropshipping business model. They do not take freight costs into account in their pricing.

Who delivers dropshipping?

After we have clarified this, another hurdle has been cleared. Our supplier prepares the order for delivery and hands it over to the shipping service provider. He delivers the request to the end customer; everyone is happy.

Nearly! Because now it comes as it had to come: the end customer doesn’t like or doesn’t like the goods, and he wants to send them back. We naturally reject that, don’t we?

Dropshipping – who is liable?

Wrong, the end customer has an unlimited right of withdrawal and that for two weeks from delivery. Also, he is entitled to at least 24 months warranty for purchased products. So the goods come back, have to be checked, and if everything goes well, they have to be resumed. But first the question again: Who pays the return shipping costs?

And we have already reached the next stumbling block for the entrepreneur. Who takes this into account? After all, the customer orders because he likes the goods (it says: ‘Goods bought as seen’ and ‘Illustration can differ from the delivered item’ – everything is clear). Is that so? What about your ordering behaviour?

Correctly, in reality, the clothing sector alone returns around 65% of the items purchased – more from women, less from men. So we also have to factor this factor into our price calculation, and we shouldn’t forget that we probably paid for the original shipping out of our own pockets. Quite apart from the fact that we have paid for the ordered goods, but the customer gets his money back!

Is it dropshipping on the side – a success story for founders?

And it is becoming increasingly clear why the dropshipping business model does not pay off, even if the entire online world is currently tempting it as the panacea for e-commerce. It is easy to manage from the living room and even part-time. But in the real world, there is a lot more to it. If you are seriously dealing with the topic of dropshipping and maybe even in your online shop, you have to include some factors in your calculation.

Because seasoned shop owners know: Without marketing, there is no turnover. And without sales, certainly no profit!

So if you are considering the idea of ​​building and operating a successful company using the dropshipping business model, you have to come up with a good plan. And a good plan is based on a crisis-proof calculation. If you plan that well, you can also easily organize your e-commerce venture from the living room.

How do you start dropshipping?

But there is a long way to go.

How do you find dropshipping suppliers?

Let us examine from the beginning how we will achieve our goal: First of all (after we are clear about our range) we have to choose one or more suppliers.

What are our requirements for a suitable supplier?

Sure, it has to be reliable, but it also has to ship quickly, has a high never-out-of-stock stock, ideally provides a regular inventory file and provide all relevant product data and image links in one file. We also have to negotiate good terms with the supplier so that our margin is as high as possible. We’ll cover margins a little later, though.

After choosing the supplier, we have to think about suitable products and their distribution channels.

Dropshipping – what to sell?

What requirements do we place on our products?

Ideally, they are easy to explain or self-explanatory, we have a meaningful data structure and a detailed picture or video material. Furthermore, the price structure can be selected so that we can comply with the RRP and still get the highest possible profit from every sale. The return rate also plays a not insignificant role – if our supplier already has data on it, this can make a decisive contribution to the selection. Of course, articles with a relatively low return rate (always measured against comparable articles) are best suited, because each return costs us (depending on the calculation) valuable euros and thus decides on the success and failure of the business model.

Where to sell using dropshipping?

Now for the appropriate choice of the distribution channel. The distribution channel can vary from product to product.

What options do we have? And what are your advantages?

In e-commerce, we differentiate into two sales channels: our online shop and external marketplaces. One of the first considerations is which product is suitable for which sales channel. Because not every product fits every shop, some products are too special, too extravagant, too cheap or only not suitable for this target group. To reduce unnecessary costs, it is, therefore, necessary to ask the question where my end customers buy for each product. Does my product fit into the portfolio of the online shop? And where do other retailers or manufacturers sell similar products?

After we have clarified these fundamental questions for our products, we now know whether the selected products fit into our shop, on Amazon, on eBay or another e-commerce marketplace. The next step is data preparation according to the specifications of the chosen online shop. The more detailed the data can be delivered, the higher the likelihood from the beginning that our offers will be found quickly or easily by the end customer.

What do I have to consider with dropshipping?

How is the data structured?

Perhaps you already have detailed data in an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or PIM (Product Information Management) system. All you have to do is transfer it to the correct format. Otherwise, the suppliers can be asked for help. Usually, you will quickly receive a comprehensive file with all available product data or make it possible for download. Make sure that this file also contains media links.

If there is no ERP, but we are talking about product data maintenance, the question arises at the same time with which interface you want to connect. There is no question that one or maybe two online shops can easily be operated with Excel tables, but then it gets confusing. Or what do you do when an order has to be split between several suppliers? You can quickly lose track of things.

Hence my advice: Think about which software you want to work within a good time.

How do you manage your offers?

I work with Tradebyte, an interface that can connect to over 90 channels in more than 16 countries. Here you deliver your product data, network it with the connected chain, and from there it runs almost automatically. I have already integrated a PIM for each channel, I keep an overview of stocks, and I can control prices for each channel individually.

Oh, yes, the sales prices … Didn’t I talk about the correct calculation earlier? How was it the same?

What does dropshipping cost?

Let us first consider what we know. There is a purchase price that we negotiated with the supplier. We have to think about the freight costs, i.e. how high the freight costs to the end customer are for me. How high do we estimate the return rate and what expenses can be expected per item? Because we have to assign the return freight (measured by the quota) as a percentage to each article sold. Also, there are costs such as packaging material, processing of returns (also as a percentage) and possible customs duties or other VAT rates than are customary in Germany. In the Netherlands and Belgium, for example, it is 21%. However, these are easy to calculate if we expect net prices. Also, there are all sales commissions and the necessary fees. Caution is advised with staggering sales commissions,

In the illustration below, I once inserted such a calculation formula. It quickly gets confusing, doesn’t it? But do not worry, in this rare case, it is an astronomical price calculation for a graduated commission with four price scales. I also got into the habit of never selling below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, because I’d instead allow a little more leeway for a higher return rate or reserves for a new connection than one day find that the item is no longer profitable.

Closing word – When is dropshipping successfully implemented?

This brings me back to my initial

claim: dropshipping is not economical and even less ecological.

I stick to it! Unless I set up a realistic price calculation in advance, in which I also plan margins for myself. And I’d instead calculate a few cents more for innovative packaging – so make my contribution than offer the lowest price on hell. Because otherwise, my business model is exactly that: cheap! And I will never be successful and crisis-proof on the market. The current economic situation clearly shows how vulnerable most companies are when sales have been falling for a month.

Anyone who thinks “that alone is no guarantee of success”, I immediately agree with 100%. Because being successful is a constant process of monitoring, adjusting offers and observing the market. Only those who know what is going on in their economic field will build a permanently successful dropshipping company that is profitable in the long run.

Featured

Digital visibility increases success in online marketing

How does digital visibility work in strategic online marketing so that the content of potential customers can be found on the Internet in a visible manner via Google search and at the same time is interesting to read for your persona? Both are important for a successful online marketing strategy.

With digital visibility, company goals such as expert positioning, customer acquisition, and retention are more comfortable to achieve. I present the mechanisms of action, practical strategies, and tools in the article. It allows you to get warm leads from customers and hot leads from search engines.

What is digital visibility?

With this term “digital visibility,” many people first think of SEO measures. This is true because Google plays a vital role in this. But digital visibility doesn’t just affect Google. It is the interaction of complex mechanisms of action with different factors, such as user behavior, the speed of the Internet connection, and the webserver performance.

What is the visibility index?

The Visibility Index is a measure of the visibility of a domain on the Google search results pages. The higher the value, the more visitors the area gains through Google. The visibility index is suitable for evaluating the success of search engine measures for competitor analysis in the relevant set and for analyzing changes in the Google algorithm.

Many SEO experts use the Sistrix Visibility Index to do this, e.g. B. to measure the SEO performance of a website. The Sistrix Visibility Index can be used to identify and measure a time course (success) and any problems  . Sistrix defines the visibility index as follows:

This index value shows the visibility of the domain in the organic search results from Google as a central key figure. It is based on the rankings found in the domain in the top 100 search results for a representative keyword set.

The visibility index has established itself as a critical figure in the industry. It serves as an indicator of domain visibility. To generate this index, the tool provider Sistrix crawls about half a million keywords and evaluates the search results pages. This estimates how many keywords can be found on your page and at which positions in the search results (SERPs) can be found.

How do you measure digital visibility?

With Sistrix Analysis, you can analyze the digital visibility of websites and carry out meaningful competition analyzes. For example, the most successful sites can be identified in a segment, which can then be used as best practice examples to increase your success. In this way, successful SEO strategies can be recognized and adapted; for example, the visibility index in the benchmarking of digital health providers, as the following analysis by Sistrix shows.

A comparison is only possible within the industry because the keyword sets are different. The most significant insights can be drawn from the observation of the course of time. By showing your development, you can easily see when there are reasons for review or when the page is thriving.

How do you measure people’s digital visibility? Is it the number of contacts on Xing, Facebook, or Twitter? No, it goes beyond that. It’s not just about quantitative key performance indicators, but also about quality and commitment. In the digital age, others are evaluating the importance, significance, and reputation of the brand. That is why it is a strategy for digital marketing 

Digital visibility solutions

Is it just about being online and e.g., B. Share blog posts on social media? No, it’s much more than that! The relevance of the content is the number 1 criterion for digital visibility! Content marketing can increase digital visibility through relevant content for the dialogue partners. That is why a strategy for digital brand positioning is required in the plan for a digital profile. It answers questions like:

  • Who am I? What products and services do I offer?
  • What are the benefits of my unique selling proposition?
  • What services do my customers appreciate?

Digital marketing for digital visibility

A strategic concept for digital marketing for digital visibility is helpful to avoid bouncing and wasting resources. At SwaCash, we combine a mix of content and inbound marketing with marketing automation and acrossmedia campaigns for the action plan.

  •  Expert positioning sis built up with content marketing.
  • The content is distributed using social media marketing.
  • Leads (potential new customers) are won with inbound marketing
  • , Which are transformed into new customers by marketing automation. 

1.Strategic digital marketing with an action plan

It is not enough to create social media profiles; you also have to maintain them regularly. Profiles in online business networks such as Xing or LinkedIn should be filled in entirely and routinely updated. After that, status reports and activities should be carried out regularly.

This is done by creating your posts, for example, on “LinkedIn Pulse.” Comments on discussions are also relevant, as are helpful comments on other contributions. Feedback on your contributions should also be answered promptly.

Community building is also essential. Network with colleagues and potential customers, employees, and partners. Work on quality, not quantity. It is not about collecting 10,000 contacts in a short time, but about relevant connections.  

2.Expert positioning 

If you found the successful digital visibility of potential customers, that’s good, but still not enough for new business. As an expert, you must also be digitally visible with your personality (personal branding) with your know-how and references.

Posts on brand-appropriate and customer-relevant keywords are published regularly in the corporate blog and the topic blogs and shared with newsletters, mailings, and social media marketing. 

3.Marketing automation

Using marketing automation tools, marketers control their digital marketing measures and control processes that were previously controlled manually. They are coordinated in the planning in the workflow with triggers of digital triggers. Marketing automation makes the results more efficient and productive. 

This minimizes the input and increases the output. Specifically: less investment is required, and more sales are generated. Marketing automation tools such as Hubspot cover many aspects in digital marketing, e.g., campaign management, content marketing, and social media marketing.

4.Build trust

Ultimately, digital visibility alone is not enough. In addition to the profile of expert positioning, evidence from references is needed. For example, Hilker Consulting uses customer surveys on ProvenExpert for credible references, where we evaluate our customers transparently and openly. This helps new customers build trust through customer feedback on the projects and ways of working. 

Evaluation portals are a new marketing measure for digital visibility. You can let others evaluate you, e.g., B. My customers rate me as a consultant at ProvenExpert. This promotes reputation, credibility, and transparency in the entire process: from research to booking and customer loyalty. Referral marketing in social media is beneficial for acquiring new customers.

5.Show personality

Personal branding allows you to present personality as well as specialist knowledge. It is essential to create a digital brand identity in advance. The personality traits should be analyzed and strategically communicated digitally through content marketing with texts, photos, and videos with digital visibility.

6.Positive brand experiences for customers

But in addition to digital visibility, you must inspire potential customers in the customer journey at the relevant touchpoints through experiences (customer experience management). The website visitor becomes a customer and a brand fan and a regular customer who shares his enthusiasm through recommendations online. That is why customer experience management is critical in digital marketing. Read tips about this in this post. Create experiences with customer experience management. 

Featured

Conversion rate optimization

The conversion rate is one of the most commonly used terms in online marketing. Many marketing and sales teams can no longer imagine their daily work without the conversion rate. Wherever leads are generated, products are sold, or paid campaigns are carried out, the conversion rate is used. In this article, we take a closer look at what is behind the conversion rate, what you need it for, how you calculate it, and what measures can be used to increase it.

How is the conversion rate defined?

The term conversion rate (abbreviation CR) is translated as a conversion or conversion rate. In the marketing language, it also occurs as a conversion rate. The marketer can individually define a conversation. The conversion rate is one of the most critical success indicators.

The conversion rate is the ratio between the number of website visitors and the transactions made on the website. A sale (e.g., an order) can take different forms. The conversion rate indicates the percentage of visitors that are required to achieve a conversion.

A conversion does not necessarily take place after a purchase has been completed. A translation can also be measured when a seminar is booked, a catalog is ordered, or test access to an online tool is booked on a website. The download of a white paper or a newsletter registration can also be counted as a conversion.

Note: Each website pursues its business model and defines itself in achieving its own goals. Therefore the calculation of the conversion rate must be determined individually.

The conversion rate is not only measured for successful actions on your website. It is also used to compare the performance of marketing campaigns. So you can compare the different Google AdWords campaigns with each other and measure the success of varying traffic channels (email, organic, paid, etc.). The conversion rate can be measured for the entire website (macro conversion) or only for individual landing pages (micro conversion).

That may sound complicated, but it is not! Continue reading…

What do you need a conversion rate for?

The question is pretty easy to answer: at the end of the day; we want to know how successful we have been. So the task of the conversion rate is to measure the success or failure of digital marketing activities in the company. We have a vast database in online marketing. If clean tracking is stored on the website, we can measure all imaginable transactions on a website. This is what makes online marketing work so incredibly exciting!

However, many website visitors are not sufficient if they do not make the desired transactions on the website. It follows that the conversion rate provides valuable help for every marketing and sales team. On the one hand, it supports strategic decisions, and on the other hand, it shows the way to the best possible solutions. As the link between marketing and sales, the conversion rate shows whether marketing campaigns and landing pages are performing correctly. After all, visitors should become leads!

If you have your paid campaigns controlled by an external agency, you can use the conversion rate to check the quality. But don’t make the mistake of only evaluating the success of a landing page or marketing campaign based on the conversion rate.

Why? Imagine that you run an online shop for greeting cards. In the past, your traffic was primarily brought to the website via expensive Google AdWords campaigns. In your campaigns, you mainly created keywords relevant to the purchase, such as “order greeting cards online” or “greeting cards online shop.” The conversion rate of your online shop was, therefore, relatively high.

At some point, you discovered content marketing for yourself. That is why you have integrated a blog into your online shop. In the blog, you write articles about what to look out for when writing a condolence card or how to formulate business Christmas greetings correctly.

Now you get a lot of organic visitors to your website via Google. For the most part, these visitors are not interested in buying a page; they just want to find out more. As a result, the conversion rate of your website has dropped. Is that negative now? No, it is not!

The traffic and visibility of the website have increased significantly. At the same time, many of the visitors who were initially been not interested in buying nevertheless placed an order in your shop. This, in turn, is reflected in increased sales.

The same principle applies to paid campaigns: If you only display your ads as an exact match when entering the keyword “order cheap running shoes,” the conversion rate will be higher than if I only show my ads as a broad match for all search queries related to this Play the keyword “running shoes.” In addition to the CR, other vital figures must also be used to evaluate the campaigns, such as the CPC or ROI.

Note: The conversion rate is a significant key figure. It can be used to control which sources, channels, devices, etc. perform best. However, it must never be used in isolation for evaluation!

How do you calculate the conversion rate?

The conversion rate calculation is relatively simple and can be supported by digital analysis tools (Google Analytics, Econda, Matomo, etc.). Depending on the marketing budget and individual needs, both free and fee-based tools can be used for this purpose.

The conversion rate formula is: Take the total number of conversions made (e.g., downloads of a white paper), divide this by the number of visitors, and multiply the result by 100.

It is worth noting that the conversion rate is displayed as a percentage. The total number of desired transactions and website visitors relates to a predefined time frame.

Here are two typical examples from practice:

Example of an online shop: An online shop recorded 1. million visitors to the site last year. During this period, 20,000 orders were placed. Accordingly, the conversion rate is 2 percent:

page. To get traffic to the landing page, a campaign was created at Google AdWords. In the first month, 1,000 visitors came to the site in this way. Fifty visitors downloaded the white paper. The conversion rate is 5 percent:

To prevent falsifications when calculating the conversion rate, you should make sure that you eliminate the fake traffic by referrer spam in your Google Analytics account. Otherwise, the conversion rate will be worse than it is.

But what is the percentage of a reasonable conversion rate? We take a closer look at this below.

What is a reasonable conversion rate?

There are some studies on the Internet (including smartinsights.com and wordstream.com ) in which conversion rates are shown and compared according to industries, device types, and countries. If you compare different studies with each other, you often get an average value of 2-4%.

From my own experience, I also know that there are website projects with a conversion rate of 15%. In my opinion, there is no generally valid comparison value! If I run a website with a conversion rate of 15% and have 10,000 visitors per month, while my direct competitor with a conversion rate of 5% has 50,000 visitors on his website, this leads to more conversions than at the end of the month. Here we are again at the point that the conversion rate should never be viewed in isolation. The conversion rate says nothing about the revenue generated and the marketing budget used.

If you look closely at your website’s conversion rate, you will quickly realize that there are significant differences in the source of visitors. Such analyzes provide useful insights into which channels are working well and which are not. For holistic evaluation, it is again essential to include further vital figures.

How can you increase the conversion rate?

Conversion rate optimization is about removing all obstacles that prevent a website visitor from making transactions on a website.

Sometimes even small adjustments can lead to significant improvements. Depending on the business model, an increase in the conversion rate is directly reflected in sales. Also, it is often much more comfortable and cheaper to improve the website’s conversion rate than to attract new traffic to the site.

Here are twelve tips to boost your website’s conversion rate:

  1. Buyer Personas and Buyer’sBuyer’s Journey

The creation of buyer personas is the prerequisite for long-term sales success. If the landing page and the promotions are tailored to buyer personas’ needs, a higher conversion rate is achieved. Based on customer surveys and the analysis of existing customer profiles, ideal customers can be sketched precisely.

In combination with the Buyer’sBuyer’s Journey, you have a powerful tool in hand to provide your Buyer Persona with the right content in the respective phase of the buying process.

2. Videos

Vidoes can get to the heart of complicated products within minutes. For example, we use the following video on a landing page that we want to use to reach customers looking for a content marketing agency:

3. Live chat and meeting tools

A live chat is a great tool to increase the conversion rate. On the one hand, a potential customer can contact the company directly and without obligation, if they have any questions. On the other hand, a live chat symbolizes user proximity and customer service.

For companies that offer a service or a consulting-intensive product, meeting scheduler tools are a great way to optimize the conversion. On our website, a CTA is displayed in the header with the words “Make an appointment.” If you click on this, you land in the calendar of our company owner and can set an appointment for a free consultation with a few clicks.

4. Offer contact options on each page.

Offer the user as many options as possible to get in touch with you. Show your phone number popularly and allow your users to contact you quickly via contact forms. This creates trust, which in turn leads to a better conversion rate.

5. Call-to-actions

Small changes can have a considerable impact. It is, therefore, worthwhile to deal with the subject of color psychology. We have found through tests that red CTAs perform best.

The second important lever is the text in the call-to-action. The text should encourage clicks and make the user understand what happens after the click. A CTA with the text “Download now” will convert better than a simple “download.” If the word “free of charge” is added to the CTA “Download Now,” this has a positive effect on the conversion again.

The higher the CTA is placed on a website, the more often it is clicked on. There is nothing wrong with placing several calls-to-action on one page.

Don’t you believe that? Then run an A / B test. In the first step, test two CTA colors against each other. Then test two versions of CTA with and without the word “now” against each other. We are currently checking in the CTA shown below, whether the color blue or the color red performs better.

6. Employee pictures

Employee images create trust and give the company a face. Use the “About Us” site and the “Team Page” to present your visitors with a friendly picture. We even go so far as to integrate selected employees with a short profile into our landing pages. Potential customers then know directly with whom they will work with us.

7. Customer testimonials

People like to be guided by the recommendations and opinions of other people. By using customer voices, website operators can create credibility. And that increases the conversion!

Therefore, ask selected customers for a two to three lengthy sentence statement. Integrate the report into the landing page along with a customer photo, as well as your name and job title. Below is a customer statement as we use it on a landing page:

8. Customer references

Customer references give the company credibility. All the more so when it comes to well-known customers. While we only show the logos of our top customers on the landing pages, we describe our company page in detail how we helped our customers solve their problems. This enables us to demonstrate our expertise to potential customers.

9. Trust elements

Trust elements such as certificates, awards, and seals of approval are an effective means of increasing the willingness of website visitors to convert. If possible, trust elements should be placed several times on the page. So not only on the start page and in the landing pages, but also on the footer or the header.

10. Forms

It is highly recommended to make forms as lean as possible. Only ask for information that you need: the more information the user has to fill in, the less willing to send it.

You can also use the form to make an attractive and understandable value proposition to the user. The interested party must understand what they get when they fill out the form and what benefits they get from it.

You can also create additional familiarity in forms by incorporating an employee photo and demonstrably increase the conversion rate. Be sure to use real employee images and don’t make the mistake of choosing stock photos. Most users will recognize this directly. The effect would then be negative.

11. Pop-up banners

Pop-up banners that are used correctly are a great way to increase the conversion rate. If a pop-up window opens immediately after opening a website, most users find this annoying. The user experience is, therefore, interrupted directly and thus negatively influenced.

We, therefore, recommend using exit-intent pop-ups. These only open when the user intends to leave the page. Discounts, registrations, or assets can be offered on the banners. Depending on which phase of the buyer’s journey the user is currently in, you can be very successful.

12. Analyze user behavior

Use analysis tools to analyze how users behave on the landing page. This tells you how far the users scroll on the page, where they click, and where they may even stop. We use HotJar on our landing pages and blog posts to successively optimize the pages based on the findings.

The bottom line

Now you know what is behind the conversion rate, what you need it for, how you calculate it, and what measures can be used to increase it to generate valuable leads.

But don’t make the mistake of only evaluating the success of your website based on the conversion rate. Do not compare this value with other industries, either. These comparisons are not meaningful!

Conversion optimization should go hand in hand with generating high-quality website traffic and be part of everyday work in online marketing. Small optimizations can sometimes be very successful.

Also, look for benchmarks. You often see the same or similar patterns among the big players in your competitive environment. You can start here.

Do active A / B testing! Optimize continually and test different forms, CTAs, texts, and images!

If your Buyer Persona does not find your website, all efforts are in vain. Therefore, analyze your traffic sources’ conversions and use your workforce and budget correctly based on the findings!

And very important: Make sure to use analysis and testing tools – these should be used daily! This is the only way to find out whether your work is bearing fruit. You also have a strong line of reasoning to discuss with colleagues, supervisors, and agencies and justify your budget.

Featured

B2B content marketing: not always just blogs – these types of content generate more leads

Content marketing, especially for B2B companies, can help to attract the attention of the target group and to differentiate itself from the competition. In the following blog article, different types of content are presented, which have proven themselves in the business-to-business market and are very well suited for lead generation.

Special features of a B2B target group

Before you start researching topics relevant to target groups, you should first think about the unique features of the B2B market. In the business-to-business market, as the name suggests, the products or services offered are aimed at other companies. Defining your corporate target group and later addressing them precisely and with relevant content is no easy task. Traditional market segmentation according to, for example, socio-demographic data or interests only makes work in content marketing practice more accessible. Therefore, it has proven itself in the B2B market, personas for the different decision-makers within the purchase decision process. The thematic orientation and format selection of the future content should be based on these sample persons and their points of view within the customer journey.

As a rule, the need for information and advice in the business-to-business market is much higher than in the B2C market. This reduces the spontaneity when making a decision, and the emotions that lead to the purchase are sometimes different. Building trust with potential customers, therefore, plays a critical strategic role.

  • Attention ->  supplying potential customers with useful information, for example on the USP of the product or service
  • Building trust ->  Building and strengthening the relationship of trust with potential customers, for example through information on problem-solving
  • Customer loyalty ->  Sufficient advice from customers on common questions, e.g. on the application, installation, etc.

Rand Fishkin published an exciting video on a “Whiteboard Friday“, in which he mainly focuses on the differences between B2B and B2C content marketing target groups.

Content marketing within the SEE-THINK-DO-CARE framework

Content marketing is a part of inbound marketing and is, therefore, part of SEO. Content marketing primarily serves informal search queries and offers help on specific topics or problems.

Content marketing measures are usually one of the first points of contact for users and help answer informal search queries. At the same time, it offers the opportunity to position yourself as an expert in certain specialist areas and thus gradually build up authority and a relationship of trust.

Below you will find various types of content for the B2B market that have proven themselves online, especially in connection with marketing automation in lead generation. It should be noted in advance that the basis of content marketing activities should always be a well-founded target group analysis and a well-thought-out content marketing strategy.

Overview of the possibilities

  • Webinars
  • Video tutorials
  • Meetups
  • Case studies
  • White papers / eBooks
  • Blogs
  • Social media
  • eBooks
  • Infographics
  • Workshops & seminars, lectures
  • Events (conferences)
  • Free trials
  • Newsletter
  • Guest contributions (print and online

Webinars                     

A webinar is the same as a classic seminar – but takes place online. A significant advantage of the webinar is that the participants are not tied to a specific location and can, therefore, participate easily. Communication takes place interactively, and the participants have the opportunity, mostly via chat functions, to ask specific questions about problems. In particular, intensive advice in the B2B market can be implemented online.

Theoretically, there is no limit to the number of participants, and there are no space or space problems. Registration usually takes place by email, and a company has the opportunity to generate new advertising contacts using an opt-in procedure. There are various software providers, such as Web-Ex or Go To Meeting, which facilitates the implementation and administration of webinars. It often makes sense to record the webinars and offer them online for long-term access. In this way, sustainable visitors, for example, via the SEO channel, can be attracted to the company side, for further information.

Video tutorials

Let’s stay with the audiovisual media. It is often much more comfortable to explain matters in video format than in text form. For example, if you want to learn something about the exact use of individual machines or tools, nobody wants to torture themselves through long operating instructions in text form. A video tutorial is a more efficient and uncomplicated solution. Useful videos can also quickly give you a competitive advantage.

If you manage to differentiate yourself through practical and innovative content formats, you can quickly secure a portion of the information-based search engine traffic. YouTube is now the second-largest search engine in the world. Video marketing in connection with YouTube SEO, for example, offers a lot of potential for attracting attention and for building trust among future customers in the B2B market.

Lectures

In addition to webinars and video tutorials, lectures also offer an excellent opportunity to present your know-how or to present new knowledge on specific subject areas.

For example, lectures have established themselves as a tried and tested means for our MeetUps, as they offer a reasonable basis for open discussions. Furthermore, this format can be combined with almost all of the content formats listed here.

For example, the lectures can be streamed using Facebook Live Videos (or Instagram Live) and thus made available to an even broader target group. So you have recorded the video directly and can spread it on YouTube or Facebook. Of course, care should be taken to ensure that the quality is correspondingly good and that the image is not blurred (it is best to work with a tripod).

The lectures or presentations can also be uploaded to file hosting platforms such as Slideshare so that users can call them up again and again.

Case studies

Case studies usually deal with a real situation, for example, a specific project, which is implemented clearly and understandably. At the end of each case study, there is an evaluation and assessment. Case studies are particularly interesting for the B2B area, as this gives the customer a comprehensive impression of the product or service. Case studies usually also create identification, and potential customers can often be found in the described situation. Ideally, case studies are published in cooperation with satisfied customers. This transparency creates a high level of trust, and the company has the opportunity to expand its expert status. Case studies are, therefore, a powerful tool in reference marketing.

It can be useful to research frequently asked questions from customers online and to treat them in the form of a suitable case study. The document can then be offered for download on an optimized landing page. This allows potential customers who are still in the information phase of the purchase decision process to be addressed while researching at Google. Here, case studies offer great potential for generating leads. This can be used even better in connection with marketing automation.

White papers

White papers deal with common problems and show appropriate solutions. It should be noted here that the advertising character moves firmly into the background and the focus is on the consulting service. A white paper contains advice and recommendations and should consist of at least two pages. As a rule, white papers are more extensive than case studies and are written in an academic style. White papers are also used in the area of ​​PR and are used for corporate communication. Here the customer is not so much in focus, but rather the product or service.

In the case of white papers, the approach is theoretical and deals with a fictional issue. The white paper should help the customer solve a problem, understand a matter, or get a basis for a decision. A white paper, therefore, starts earlier in the purchase decision process than a case study. As a rule, white papers should already be used in the problem-solving phase. Relevant data of potential customers can be obtained on a landing page with a download function optimized for the topic. Integrated marketing automation can help accompany the customer’s decision-making process and ideally guide the right content through to conversion.

Blogs

Not to forget the blog, of course, with all the formats. Anyone who has been following our blog for a long time will have noticed that it has grown over several years and is now one of our most valuable traffic sources.

Blog articles offer a perfect way to address users and potential customers and to provide new information.

Here, the services or the product should not be advertised too much, since a blog should satisfy the informal search intention of the user. Therefore, extensive information should be provided to help the user.

With the help of marketing automation (e.g. Hubspot), workflows can also be created to provide the user with further information from a specific point in time. In this way, the user can automatically receive a white paper by email (provided that the email address and consent are available – #DSGVO) if he has viewed at least three pages on the topic of SEO. The user is helped and at the same time, reaches the next phase in the customer lifecycle.

MeetUps

The motto is “Everything can, nothing must” (Copyright MB ). Exchange is the main focus here.

Instead of classic frontal lectures, the focus is on interaction. After 2-3 talks on the subject, everyone can exchange ideas in a relaxed atmosphere. The primary purpose of this format is to get to know new people from the industry and to exchange ideas about specific problems and to help each other. Of course, you shouldn’t fall directly into the house here and turn everyone instantly on their product or service.

At MeetUps, you can share your knowledge with others and learn something yourself. As a company, it is valuable to host a MeetUp without always giving lectures yourself, because the reputation automatically passes to the organizer. Meetups are also a useful channel for employer branding and recruiting.

Social media

For a long time, social networks were considered pure B2C platforms and were avoided by B2B companies. However, the latest statistics show that B2B companies are increasingly represented on social networks.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has established itself in the area of ​​B2B networks in recent years. Even if the number of users between LinkedIn and XING is almost the same, LinkedIn offers the advantage of international orientation.

However, LinkedIn offers more than a social network to keep its customers and partners up to date. Thanks to the specific targeting options, LinkedIn also offers the opportunity to address the target group very precisely and thus reduce wastage as much as possible. LinkedIn also provides retargeting. This means that different phases of the SEE-THINK-DO-CARE framework can be mapped via a network.

As a counterpart to the paid ads, LinkedIn offers the file hosting service Slideshare.

Here you can upload presentations, lectures, white papers or other documents to make them available to other people – #knowledge transfer.

This service can be used, for example, to store the above formats and thus make them available to customers or potentially interested parties. For example, white papers or webinars on specific topics can be uploaded here so that they are open to a broad target group. This can also support reputation and lead generation.

Facebook

For a long time, Facebook was considered a pure B2C network and companies avoided it. But these times are a thing of the past.

Today, more than every second B2B company is represented on Facebook – and the trend is rising.

The reason for this is that Facebook is still the largest social network and therefore offers the most significant potential reach. At the same time, Facebook offers a variety of functions to provide new or existing customers with fresh content regularly. For example, Facebook Live Videos have established themselves as the most proven medium when it comes to reporting on events live.

Also, Facebook offers distinctive targeting options in the area of ​​paid ads, so that B2B companies can reach their potential target group without large wastage. Again, the network can be combined with various other measures, for example:

  • Create and promote events (MeetUps)
  • Apply for white paper / eBook download
  • Share blog articles / share videos / anteater

eBooks

eBooks are another content format that has established itself in the B2B area. An eBook aims to summarize its competencies and specialist know-how on one topic and thus offer the customer significant added value.

As part of the SEE-THINK-DO-CARE framework, eBooks are in the THINK phase, since it can be assumed that users who are interested in an eBook have already dealt with the topic in more detail.

Furthermore, eBooks can also be perfectly combined with marketing automation tools. For example, the link to the eBook can be automatically sent to users who have read two blog articles on SEO in advance and have also visited the “Inbound Marketing” service page at least twice.

Infographics

Infographics help to present longer content or processes in a simplified manner and have become established in many industries. The spread of infographics also has the advantage that they can be found in the best case via Google Image Search.

This leads to users finding content based on the image search. An excellent example of this is, for example, infographics on the most critical image sizes in social networks. Here all content is presented compactly on a large picture without talking too much about it. At the same time, such infographics or the page on which they are integrated offer the option of generating links, which in turn can lead to more (referral) traffic.

Workshops & seminars

Another format that belongs to content marketing in a broader sense is workshops and seminars. These form a perfect opportunity to position yourself as an expert in a specific area. At the same time, it offers the chance to pass on your knowledge to others.

Workshops, particularly in the B2B environment, can help to train potential customers or existing customers. Here, too, it is essential not to put your products or services in the foreground, but rather to impart the knowledge to your (potential) customers in a neutral manner. The aim is to offer the customer added value and at the same time to support them in improving their know-how.

Because: The more your customer understands your products or services, the easier it will be to work together. At the same time, you signal to your customers that your knowledge is not protected and ensure transparency.

Events (conferences)

In addition to workshops or seminars, any form of the event offers the opportunity to interact and therefore supports lead generation. It is not necessarily about large conferences. You must attend an event that best suits your needs, your target group and your business goals. A look at the list and any recaps from previous years will help you to get a first overview of the event. At conferences, the exchange with speakers or spectators is mostly automatic over coffee & cake or the subsequent after-show party. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal so that even the junior consultant can talk to the CEO of an international company.

Important: Take enough business cards with you to exchange contact details so that you can connect again later.

Free trials

Almost everyone knows free trials and has probably already tried a trial version. These are particularly popular for services (e.g. Amazon Prime), because the customer does not buy “the pig in a poke” directly, but can first test whether the desired product or service suits them

But that’s not all: To enable potential users to take out a test subscription, you generally need personal data such as your email address and first and last name and permission to send newsletters. Ideally, you can convince your customers during the free trial so that your customer decides on a (paid) version. Even if this is not the case, you can use the data to win him as a customer with further offers by email.

However, caution is also required here: If the potential customer receives too many newsletters, he or she will unsubscribe from your newsletter sooner or later. A marketing automation tool can also help here. This allows you to track what the customer is doing with the emails. If you find, for example, that he has opened a newsletter for a new product or a planned event, you can send him a follow-up email with further information on the topic (e.g. 10% discount when registering for the event). The possibilities of Marketing Automation Tools are so versatile that a blog article would be worth it.

Newsletter

Even if many newsletters consider an obsolete model, this type of content marketing still works very well. Newsletters are now offered on almost every page on which there are products or services to buy.

The various application options become clearer using an example:

A new user has signed up for your newsletter. The user looked at the category pages and references in advance. So you can send him a case study and a company presentation (as a PDF) to get you started (SEE / THINK).

You can see that the user has opened the mail and the attachments and then on the more extended product page A has stopped. Then after 4-5 days, you can send him a newsletter with further information on product page A (THINK / DO). If the user also opens this content, you can now go into the DO phase, for example, with a newsletter with a direct address and the offer of a phone call. Alternatively, you can offer your potential customer to contact you using the contact form if further advice is required or if there are any questions (DO).

If you work with a marketing automation tool, it is possible to send all of these newsletters automatically in different scenarios.

Guest contributions (online & print)

Another form of content marketing is guest posts, both in print magazines and in (renowned) online portals. Guest contributions are based on the give and take principle.

The operator of a website or publisher of a magazine asks whether there is interest in writing a guest post. The very fact that you are asked for it shows that you are perceived as an expert.

But how can a guest contribution support lead generation?

By publishing a guest post on another platform (or magazine), you will most likely reach a new target group that does not yet know you.

With the help of the guest contribution, you generate attention, which can serve as the starting signal for a successful customer journey.

Conclusion

Content marketing can also help to win new customers in the B2B market. It is essential to know which problem solutions and information the target group is looking for. The Internet offers many opportunities to provide potential customers with information relevant to purchasing decisions. However, there are also various formats available offline to boost lead generation. Especially in connection with marketing automation, content marketing is a useful tool for generating leads.

Featured

13 tips for sustainable forum link building

Forum links are the “cheapest” type of link building. You don’t have to spend money to buy backlinks or produce content that is worth linking. The only thing you need is a little bit of time and a good strategy. I would like to give you tips for a good plan in this article.

Sit down and think about all the topics that fit your website or product.

  • Who is interested in it?
  • What interests potential doubters?
  • Where is my product still used?

Tools such as answerthepublic.com are available for this.

If you have considered several questions, look for all forums that deal with these topics. Then it is time to select and create the user.

You can safely leave out forums that have not received a new post for several weeks. The effort here is not worth it, as these forums will “die” shortly. On the other hand, you should be aware that very active forums often have more meticulous admins and pay close attention to the links set. So: more effort, but more traffic/quality!

Also, you should pay attention to whether links are removed regularly or maybe only visible in logged-in mode. Here too: let it be, the effort is enormous, and the yield is much lower.

1. Choose the right forum.

The alpha and omega of a forum link in the topic of relevance. There is little point in putting a backlink to a nail salon in a forum about drills. Even if traffic should come through this backlink, the search intensity is undoubtedly not suitable.

And as we know, harmful user data has an impact on our rankings.

Therefore: Pay attention to the topic relevance! Only build links in forums that fit your product!

2. Complete your profile completely

Forum link building is a duel against the admins. If the admins think your link makes sense, if it offers added value to the thread and thus to the forum and the readers, they allow it. However, if your relationship looks unnatural and therefore stands out, the admins will take a closer look at your profile.

If the admins see a completely completed and well-kept profile, the doubts will be cancelled in many cases. However, if the profile picture is missing in your profile, for example, this does not appear dangerous.

If you say now: “No, so I’m not uploading pictures of myself in any forum”, this is of course completely understandable. If necessary, just take a picture of a cartoon or something that appeals to you. The main thing is that it is filled in?

  • Fill out your created profile completely. You want to act like a “real” and trustworthy user. In the absence of seriousness and conspicuous link building, your profile and the links you have set will most likely be removed.

3. Don’t post a link too soon.

You mustn’t place a link immediately after creating a profile. The admins are prepared for “bad” link builders. As already mentioned above, it is essential that you only link URLs that offer added value, otherwise the whole principle makes no sense.

How early you should post your first link also depends on the quality and activity. If you want to post a link in a forum in which over 200 posts are written every day, it is, of course, essential to write more posts before the connection is created than in a forum in which something is only posted every 3rd day.

A recommendation on my part is that you should set a link at the earliest two weeks after registering your profile. Also, depending on the activity of the forum, so many posts (questions AND answers) should be written before the link is set. Your account must be active and, as already mentioned several times, offer the forum real added value.

  • Don’t post your link too soon. Only write articles for the first 2-3 weeks and THEN put your link first.

4. High-quality posts

If you post in a forum (even without an integrated link), pay particular attention to the quality. Don’t just answer “yes” or “no”, but make an effort to write detailed answers. Again, it is essential to pay attention to the quality and activity of the forum. If you have a complicated question that requires background knowledge to be answered well, you shouldn’t respond with just one sentence. In general, you should vary here between detailed answers, which may answer more than just the question, and short, precise answers, which explain the issue directly.

You can also ask questions where you think there will be many answers and possibly a discussion in which you can interact a lot. Perhaps even with admins who also reply here?

If you want to show off here, you can also have your contributions checked in a WDF * IDF tool.

  • Pay attention to the quality of your posts. Do not write too high in “simple” forums. Likewise, you should not incorporate spelling mistakes into a linguistically high-quality forum. Adapt to the jargon of the forum. Also, a proper contribution should contain at least 100 words.

5. No duplicate content

Don’t ask the same questions everywhere and don’t answer the same on all forums. The forum operators also only want unique content and quickly notice if someone is doing clumsy link building here. Rethink your topic in every forum and use different issues.

6. Set the link correctly!

Simply writing a post and then posting the link is, in most cases too easy. The admins deal daily with link builders who just want to have a backlink, whether it brings traffic or not. Use only soft anchor texts (e.g. here ) or the URL. However, never use keyword anchor texts.

Also, pack the indecent link content (see the previous point).

Posts such as: “Hello guys, what do you say: http://www.swacash.com” Are anything but severe and are very likely to be removed.

  • Put your links only on soft anchor texts or the appropriate URL. But never on keyword anchors. Also, show that the link is related to the post, and it is essential to answer the question.

7. Time between links

If you would like to place several links in a forum, it is advisable to leave enough time between the links. If you initially only wrote posts for 2-3 weeks and then set 4 backlinks in a short time, this can quickly become apparent. Also, it will be very noticeable in the long term if you place a backlink to your page every two weeks, that is 26 backlinks a year. It is better to leave 2-3 months between setting the links (when setting links for a website).

Of course, this also applies if you have several users in one forum. If you want to do link building for your website and have found a suitable forum, it is, of course, useful to set up several backlinks here. If you now follow the previous rules, you should also take care to approach the whole thing with a time lag. For example, if you create four accounts in KW 20 and then post four backlinks for your website in KW 22, this is of course just as striking. So take care!?

  • Leave enough time between the links (min. 2-3 months) so that they don’t act too conspicuously. Even when using different accounts, you should take care not to post all links in a week.

8. Discuss on your contributions

Once you’ve posted your link, you should keep those threads going. Don’t just post a question, but also get the answers. Animate the discussion. Because: More answers mean more content, more content means better rankings and better rankings means more traffic?

There is also the trust factor of your user. Users who simply ask a question and then no longer respond to the answers appear unnatural. Stay in the discussion until the end.

  • Keep your threads up to date. Current threads are read and discussed more often. More readers will probably also get more clicks on your link.

9. Quote your old posts

In the course of your work on the forums, there will be lengthy discussions among your questions or posts. If so, it is not uncommon for your link to slip to the second page of the forum. It is advisable to quote your contribution (which contains the link) and bring it back to the first page. The advantage here is that the link may be displayed again and is therefore on two pages. Also, your contribution will be “updated” yet, and new readers will be made aware of your link directly.

  • Quote your posts to repost the link on the page and keep the post containing the link up to date.

10. Use multiple users in one forum

With niche products, in particular, it is difficult to find suitable and still active forums. It is therefore advisable to create several users in one forum. Another advantage is that “dialogues” can also be held here, which stimulates a discussion.

But what do you have to pay attention to:

11. Different email addresses

This is no longer possible in new forums, but especially in older forums, it was possible to register multiple users with the same email address. However, if you are noticed negatively with an email address, all will be blocked immediately. Annoying!

12. Use the TOR browser.

Many forums also pay attention to your IP addresses. The TOR browser is, therefore, an important “tool”. This is essential for very active forums and an essential prerequisite for not being noticed.

13. Different usernames

Actually, of course, but in some cases, it is still done wrong. Never use the same username, not even in different forums! Also, the usernames should not be similar either. If a “PascalP1985” is noticeable, then it is evident that “Pascal1985” should also be checked.

  • Be creative and don’t use 0815 usernames. The user names should also be different across forums.

Conclusion

Although link building is still widely discussed and has many followers, forum links are rarely talked about. But there is still a lot of potential right here to get honest and very high-quality traffic to your site. Only users who may be interested in your product write in forums that fit your topic. Use this collection of potential customers and get active. But be careful, because if you notice, all your work has been wasted.

I am aware that my article is intended to help precisely those people who are not in the mood for all forum operators.

In the end, I always advise one thing: only move in the forums of your branch in which you are a real expert. Because finally the backlinks don’t have to be the most important, but with a practical and active profile in the forums you also strengthen your expert status!

Featured

The fine art of content marketing

In the meantime, everyone should have noticed that content marketing has become extremely important in online marketing! For several years now, the term has been buzzing around the online marketing scene.

But why is content marketing so important?

With good content, the brand/product brand/product…

…Life!

… be explained visually!

… generate specific emotions for the customer of your choice!

… Generate customers/leads!

In theory, very quickly said, but how do I implement this in practice?

A hip product certainly has a lot of starting points here to supply the in-house blog with content for several months or years. But how does the operator of boring products do that? Products that are about as exciting as waiting in a traffic jam you understand.

Examples?

It doesn’t need one. Just read this blog article and think about the extent to which the content can be adapted to your brand/products. If good ideas come up, we have achieved what is intended with this blog article.

I have these content formats available for content marketing.

Content means more than text. Good content marketing is a combination of different content formats:

  • Texts

This means the typical blog article, a product description, interviews or guest articles. In principle, everything that the written word represents.

  • pictures

Pictures are the ideal way to trigger emotions in the viewer.

Attention: The human brain demonstrably works best / preferably with pictures, and especially women react to visual stimuli.

Images are also ideal keywords.

  • presentations

Use presentations! With Slideshare or a PDF reader, you can expand your content in a precious way.

  • Videos

Sometimes moving images are much better at explaining a product or issue than any written text.

  • Tables

Tables, in particular, can be used to prepare and illustrate data and facts very well.

  • counsellor

Do you have a product or service that requires explanation? Write a guide for more comfortable use or better example.

  • Infographics

Relatively complex, but a first-class way to present explanatory routes visually, interestingly and appealingly.

  • software

Any tool that makes your dream customer’s job easier? Maybe even a free (slimmed down) version of the device you want to sell.

  • Competitions

Competitions attract a lot of attention but often attract the famous “cherry hunters”. It is not always the audience that finally buys my product.

  • Survey

Pick up the customers you want and ask them about their needs. Surveys help to get to know the desired customers better and to align the products optimally. Customers feel flattered when asked for their opinion.

  • Podcasts

Podcasting is currently experiencing a kind of renaissance. It is ideally suited for users or target groups who are less read-friendly.

  • Webinars

One of our favourite content formats, which creates an extended stay and has a positive impact on perception and status.

  • eBooks

The perfect solution to build up an extensive mailing list in your target group.

  • miscellaneous

Theses, white papers, statistics … there are so many types of content.

For some readers, there was probably already an idea that broadened the horizon of possibilities. Most people understand content primarily as text, text and again text. Material or content marketing means much more. And if you want to have “awesome content”, the best thing is to create a blog article that contains several (or many) of the content above formats.

Content marketing needs goals.

Before you deal with the content, set goals! The best thing to do is to develop a good content strategy to achieve these goals.

However, please note that the pursuit of several or competing goals can often prove to be an obstacle, and this must be avoided. True to the motto: less is more! In this area, inexperienced marketers should concentrate on their current content in the best case on only one objective and pursue it consistently.

Possible objectives are divided into three areas as an example:

Engagement goals

  • Call to action
  • Downloads
  • Orders
  • Leads

Corporate goals

  • Brand building
  • acquisition
  • New customers
  • Market research
  • Feedback reputation
  • Customer loyalty
  • Customer satisfaction
  • inspiration
  • Community building

Communication goals

  • Social buzz / social signal
  • Notoriety
  • Visibility/rankings
  • Fan assembly
  • Link building

You can try to combine goals from all three areas, but this is not always possible. It is relatively easy to produce content that is written as a brand-building measure (strategic corporate goal) and thus leads to greater awareness (operational communication goal) and thus leads (leads goal).

But there is also the possibility to provide inspiration with a webinar and thus to do link building via a targeted influencer marketing. However, there may only be existing customers among the webinar participants so that no new leads can be generated. However, since the webinar promotes customer loyalty and customer satisfaction, it can make a lot of sense even without new leads.

Basically:

You should always ask yourself what you want to achieve with your content and only then start to align the content with the goals and produce accordingly.

These points are primarily assigned to the area of ​​”strategic content marketing”. Before you start thinking about targeted content, you should understand the essential characteristics of your content marketing:

  • What needs do your dream customers have, and can I divide them into need groups?
  • What exactly is staged? Brand, product, service or person?
  • What tonality do I base my measures on?
  • Which channels should be used? Which content do I need for which channel or which type is suitable?
  • Are only your channels used, or should you also access third-party resources (seeding via social networks, native advertising, etc.)?

The part of strategic content marketing deserves a lot of attention, but should not be expanded here because this article has a different focus. 

Essential rules in content marketing

There are a few fundamental rules in content marketing that you should follow if you want your content marketing to work.

Just write what you know

You are in a shop talking to a seller. The seller tries to recommend a product to you (or put it negatively, it could also be called “gossiping”), but you immediately notice that he is not familiar with the product. In the worst case, he even contradicts himself with his statements.

A negative feeling develops – would you still buy?

The same applies to your content. Why should someone use your service when they realize that you are not competent?

Conclusion: Only write about things that you are knowledgeable about.

Do not do anything halfway – only deliver top quality.

But it is not enough just to know your way around. You have to show it too. Don’t do things by halves and don’t put “half” or “unfinished” items online. If you have something to say in a blog article, plan it meticulously and extensively.

At SwaCash, we proceed by first creating an outline for an article. Then we look (if available) at other items on the same or similar content and add further ideas to our structure.

If it has already been determined in advance which keyword the article should rank on, you should deal with as many items as possible that appear under this keyword on Google and try to write a better (more extensive and more in-depth content) article.

Only then will the article have the right to appear on a better ranking. A lot more ranking factors play a role in achieving a top ranking on Google with its content, but if you don’t have a high-quality article, the essential prerequisite for a sustainable top ranking is not there from the start.

Create added value

Think about who you want to help with your article. Do not try to help everyone, but focus on the people you want to target with this article. This can be all of your potential customers or any other predefined target group.

Think about the problems or needs your desired customers have. Answer their questions because the moment you can answer questions to your target group or meet their needs, you also have the chance to win them over as customers.

It is essential at the point that you mention relatively early in your content which problem should be solved with this article. The reader must quickly recognize the added value the report gives him, only then will he read it to the end.

However, you should be careful not to make empty promises. If you promise someone a problem-solving at the beginning of your content (e.g. blog article), this problem solving should also come. If you have made empty promises, you are not only losing a potential customer, but you may also be running around a disappointed reader or negative multiplier who expresses yourself accordingly negatively and whom you cannot use at all. Evidence shows that bad news spreads much faster than positive news.

Only produce the amount of content that you can manage.

Attention: Your content on the website should always be up to date. I would like to refer to our blog here.

The topic of online marketing is very fast-moving. Things that we describe today may already be out of date in a few months or may no longer apply.

However, online it is easily possible that a potential customer will only come across our article in about three months and then read it. However, if a reader notices that an item is no longer up to date, or even worse, its content is now incorrect, and out of date, he will stop reading it. Also, he will not like him, share it or recommends it in any other way. Nobody wants to consume content that is out of date or simply wrong.

So make sure that your content is always up to date. Please continually update an old article before creating a new one.

An example from real life:

“Do not have a third child if you are unable to take care of the first two children.” The same applies to texts on your blog. Better keep 20 blog articles up to date than always creating new things. Your rankings will thank you.

And by the way: An updated blog article is an excellent reason to share it again via Facebook, Twitter or a newsletter.

Content has to live

This point is based in part on the previous one. Of course, content must always be up to date, but you can also update or expand your content before it becomes obsolete.

Earlier in this blog article, I told you about various content formats. Think about whether you can add a decisive extension to an already written essay. That would be a significant update.

Examples:

  • Offer a checklist as a PDF download
  • Create a ppt that summarizes the whole article on the main points
  • Speak the item as a podcast to give the lazy visitor a chance to consume the item.

An article extension is also an excellent reason to redistribute the article over the entire range. By the way, returning visitors are also a superb ranking signal. In this respect, article extensions can also be very beneficial for the respective rankings.

Write for the customer and not for the search engine.

Do you know these texts that are so loaded with keywords that they are no longer pleasant to read? At least not legible?

These are mostly texts that were only written for a specific keyword, in which someone tries to rank easily, stupidly.

And unfortunately, this still works in part, which is why such texts can always be found. With every Google update, however, the likelihood of good rankings of such texts continues to decrease, whereas excellent content is increasingly upgraded.

Thanks to the increasingly better evaluation of user data, Google is getting better and better at identifying good (user-friendly) and bad (user-unfriendly) texts. Positive user data play an increasingly important role for good rankings.

Illegible articles are often not finished reading and leaving, which means an increase in the bounce rate. The time spent on these texts is usually concise. Both are essential user signals that flow more and more into the search result when evaluating the content or its rankings.

These examples quickly show how important it is to offer real visitors (and not the search engine) added value or an authentic experience. Create content that captivates the real reader or encourages interaction, and you get such a useful user data that possibly not an optimal use of keywords is more than compensated.

Another little tip: Write the content of the article as entertaining and professionally as you can. For further optimization, you are of course free to “readjust” the article to one or the other keyword using a good WDF * IDF tool. But please, without making the article appear less readable.

You can even find content for boring products!

Of course, knowledge is, above all! But in the second step, the reader also wants to perceive a specific authentic connection between the writer and the content (e.g. the product).

“Do we know our product, do we live our product or would we buy our product ourselves?”

The easiest way to get a blog article is to identify ourselves with the product, use it or know it from the inside out.

Do you know your product? Then you will surely think of enough topics to write about.

What does the competition write about?

Of course, you should always keep an eye on your competition. What content are your competitors producing and what problems are they trying to solve?

But be careful, because you have two types of competition: firstly, the competition that represents your competition offline in the real world and secondly, all those who compete against you online on the desired keywords.

There are essential differences to differentiate here so that both sides have to be taken into account.

Tip: Please do not copy any existing content, just let yourself be inspired. Take up topics and try to answer these topics even better, more comprehensively and more in-depth.

Ask your customers

How close are you to your customers? Ask about their needs and open questions; then you know precisely what graphic content you need to produce.

In consultation with your customers, write detailed advice and guidelines on how to use your products and services.

Collect the FAQs of your customers and think about processing these FAQs in detailed blog articles.

Also, a customer often feels flattered when asked about his needs. Even better if the requirement is also satisfied at a later point in time.

Ask your employees

If you do not want to confront your customers with these questions directly, it can be a sensible alternative to get your employees on board. What questions are your employees constantly facing? The customer service staff in particular should consider the topics that are important for your content.

It is your employees who often have a completely different view of things than you do. Do not limit yourself to your perception, but open yourself to the views and opinions of others. After a long time with the same product or service, a certain degree of blindness sets in. Your view of things changes over time, and you often lose sight of the essentials. If you accept that and successfully control it, you will become even more successful in the long term.

Use tools for better topic development

There are a lot of tools on the market that simplify topic research and topic development.

a. W-question tools

Which questions are asked most frequently on Google? Just enter a question word (where who, how, what, …) in connection with a keyword on Google. You will immediately be given various suggestions (Google Suggest) as to what the question could be.

These Google Suggest questions refer, among other things, to the frequency with which a problem is searched on Google.

With the use of a W question tool, it is straightforward to determine which questions should be dealt with in the planned content.

b. WDF * IDF

The abbreviation stands for Within-Document-Frequency * Inverse Document Frequency. Explained in one sentence, this means: “How does an article relate to a certain keyword compared to other articles (documents) that rank on the keyword?”

The context keywords are also decisive for relevance. If you have chosen the keyword “content marketing”, then keywords such as inbound, online marketing, marketers, AdWords, visibility and seeding should also appear in the respective content. These context keywords are simply highly relevant to the selected main keyword, and the more often these context keywords are called, the more certain Google can be that an article is related to the corresponding main keyword.

You can also get a lot of ideas about the direction in which the content should develop using the keywords mentioned here.

c. statistics

Statistics have a lot of potentials to describe certain things. Statistics are often very informative and answer many readers’ questions.

We are delighted to use Statista.com, which has an extensive list of statistics. However, the use and integration of the statistics are chargeable.

Another good source is the Federal Statistical Office. Many statistics are available here free of charge and are therefore, an excellent content provider.

At that point, I looked for statistics on the topic of “content marketing” and found a lot. There is certainly a lot of good content to expand or decorate my content.

Pay attention to trends.

Trends can be a perfect way to do proper content marketing. However, this content production is very current and therefore, time-critical. The content will often lose its topicality over time, which prevents long-term use.

What have been typical trends lately?

Some examples of trends come up spontaneously:

  • pepper spray

Following the shocking New Year’s Eve incidents in Cologne, the number of hits on the keyword pepper spray has increased massively. An outstanding possibility was to generate massive traffic with a fast article and possibly even sell products.

  • Pokemon

This is also a trend. When Pokemon Go was launched, it was (felt) ubiquitous. My Facebook newsfeed has exploded, and all the young people have just walked across the streets with their noses sticking to their cell phones.

In the meantime, the situation has calmed down somewhat, but the trend is still going flat.

In this context, Google Trends is a perfect and free tool that can be used to research such trends.

Think about the future

Are there future events in your industry that are predictable?

If so, you should produce the content for these events today so that you can rank on these keywords at the right time.

Football is a perfect example. We know precisely that there is a world championship every four years. An online shop that sells jerseys should already be producing content for upcoming major events such as the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Do a keyword analysis and determine what the users were looking for at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Now produce content that covers the same search queries for the 2018 World Cup.

In other industries, this can also be upcoming trade fairs or special events. These events are often only briefly in the focus of the general search behaviour, and yet they offer an excellent opportunity to draw attention to your website. The same applies to other types of recurring seasonal factors.

What else you should pay attention to with your content!

In addition to the technical content, there are a lot of other things that you should consider with your content.

No spelling errors/commas

Yes, misspellings make an article look human. That’s right, but the material seems so unprofessional. It is effortless to avoid spelling mistakes.

Simply copy your content (insofar as the material consists of text) into a simple Word document, and Microsoft’s spell checker will help you to eliminate simple mistakes.

It becomes a little more problematic when setting commas!

Up to the time of researching this article, I did not know of any tool that could also be used to correct the comma.

Grammarly has a spell check online that also checks the comma. I tried it right away, and although it is a beta version, it seems to work quite well.

However, using it is a bit tedious because the free version only allows 800 characters. With a holistic article that contains more than 3,000 words, it becomes a very nerve-wracking process. But at least it is possible.

Test reader – You are blind; let the target audience read the text.

Before you put a text online, you should have it read by your target audience. Look for test readers and discuss the text with the readers. It’s not about the readers patting you on the back, it’s about getting real feedback.

What content is missing, what is not written well enough so that the layperson (or potential customer) understands the article?

Under no circumstances, feel personally attacked when someone criticizes your content, but use it as an opportunity to improve your article.

A headline that arouses interest

Create the content and then give it a headline that arouses interest.

Choosing the right heading is undoubtedly a science in itself, but it’s one of the most critical points in content creation.

You can create the best and most exciting content, but if the headline doesn’t pop, nobody will look at the article.

Since the headings also have a very high SEO relevance, I will dedicate my blog article to this topic at a later date. Until I have written this article.

Cool pictures

Images immediately catch the eye in the positive as well as on the contrary case. You should assign very high importance to the cover picture in particular.

Poorly chosen pictures are often a reason why many readers jump off again. An image should attract attention or go very well with the article.

A tip: Hire someone who knows about it. A graphic artist, for example, or take suitable, creative screenshots.

But please do completely without stock photos. Stock photos from well-known image platforms are accessible to everyone and frequently used images quickly become apparent.

Who of you knows this picture?

How do you feel?

The picture is undoubtedly impressive, but you have seen it too often for it to be something unusual.

Create unique content, this also applies to the images used.

Work meticulously on a structure.

An article without structure is often not read to the end. It is about the typical common thread that guides the reader through the material. Create content that builds on each other and goes in-depth at the right place.

Always keep in mind that a person scans an article first.

Just as you scan a newspaper for your headlines before buying, so does other content. And not only you, but Google also scans content based on its headings, so that subtitles should also be used from an SEO perspective.

As already mentioned in the point above, I will dedicate my blog article to the headings and go into detail about the importance of the headline here.

You should also make sure to look at a situation from different perspectives. Different perspectives help a reader to understand better.

The essential content of the structure is a good summary. Many readers are already familiar with the facts described and may just want to find out a few small things. With a table of contents (and associated anchor texts), we simply bring them to the right places in the content and create a high level of satisfaction among users.

Just stay

Remember that many of your readers are nowhere near as knowledgeable about the subject as they are. Keep it simple, especially at the beginning of the content. Here, too, you can use a good structure (standard thread) to go from a simple explanation to a very detailed and technically in-depth (perhaps complicated) description. In this way, each user is picked up, and everyone can decide how deeply they want to get involved in the topic.

Schedule updates

I have pointed out the importance of timeliness and regular updates in this article a few times. That can also be planned. Write self-contained content. At a later point in time, you can further deepen individual parts and thus write updates.

In this context, it is recommended that you should always use share buttons instead of like buttons when using social plugins. Why is it easy to explain, each content can only be “like” t once, but “shared” several times.

Thus, every user who has shared the article in the first version can share the article again with an update. The people who shared the article the first time are potentially vulnerable to finding the article even better after the update.

In this way, you can provide your content with permanent traffic and thus also strengthen user data. They show the search engine that your article is engaging over a more extended period and that it would make a lot of sense to show your article as far ahead as possible among the relevant keywords.

Outdated texts are a conversion killer.

I do not want to go into the text updates again here but would highly recommend not assigning content to date. Blog articles in particular often have time, in the worst case even in the URL.

With us, in online marketing, it is merely the massive conversion killer to have an article from the blog over three years ago. Even if the article is still up-to-date, quite a few will not click on the blog article because the date suggests that it is not up-to-date.

A well-run blog only has articles that are up to date. There is no need for a date!

Gain distance

Write your article and save it. After a few days, you should reread the article and revise it. You will notice that just a few days apart changes your own opinion on various passages in the article. The same goes for any other content you produce, of course.

I have noticed very often that this way the quality of our articles is massively improved.

Choose metadata cleverly

The metadata is undoubtedly worth its blog article, but I have to cut it short, at least in this blog article. We have already spoken extensively about the headline, i.e. the meta title, but the meta description is also essential to guide readers to your article at all. Especially if these readers should come through the search engine.

The meta description is (felt) 90% of the time shown in the Google snippets, and is therefore massively decisive whether a ranked content is clicked or not!

It is therefore crucial for Google’s CTR on the respective article and is therefore highly relevant for your search engine ranking.

The right seeding

The best content is worth nothing if no one can find it. This is where well-thought-out content seeding comes into play.

Yes, excellent content will always have particular relevance in search. Depending on how secure your website is, this may be the case earlier or later. Since Google is now placing a strong focus on the user data of a website, detailed articles with a long duration of stay should rank better and better over time due to the user data and thus consistently get more readers.

What if I don’t want to wait for readers to come to us by searching? How can I support this?

There are many ways in which the content can reach the desired target audience.

Owned media

In principle, everything that you have built yourself in your reach or which channels you can control yourself is included here. Even if making your channels/range is of course, very time-consuming and cost-intensive, distributing the content via your structures is the quickest and easiest way to get attention for the intended content or article.

Above all, the company’s website should be mentioned, on which the respective content should, of course, be placed. Depending on the level of awareness, your website will already ensure a regular flow of visitors by addressing visitors who are interested in new articles.

Also, your email marketing is a fantastic opportunity to bring new content to the interested target audience. If you regularly publish fresh content on your website, you should set up a newsletter. Having your newsletter distributor is a strategically important decision, especially to build up a very sound, alternative traffic source.

Finally, seeding via your own social media channels is, of course, critical. The choice of social media channel depends on where the target audience is for the corresponding content.

Earned Media

The expert defines earned media as the distribution of one’s content via third parties without paying for it. So media performance that you “deserve”.

At this point, we can, of course, take advantage of our existing traffic on our website and, by integrating social sharing buttons, use the readers to receive more traffic. Since readers will only share if you like the content, this is called “earned media”.

Earned media also includes the activation of your network. Do you know influencers who can spread the article? Influencers often have a broad social reach, so their shares can have a significant impact on visitor numbers. With a little luck, these influencers will also link to your content on their website or even publish it in their newsletter.

Scour your network and think about who could be an influencer (regardless of whether you are large or small) for the respective content and enter into a dialogue. Depending on the content or type of content, these can, of course, also be different people. The influencer of a past content need not be an influencer for the current content.

Paid media

There are now many ways to get paid content to people. We now see the best targeting options on Facebook. The target group can be narrowed down to the last detail on Facebook, thus minimizing wastage. But Twitter also offers excellent opportunities here. The targeting options on Facebook are certainly worth their blog article. This should not be discussed at this point. But take it as a hint to deal with Facebook Ads. The possibilities are nearly unlimited.

Another perfect way of mass-disseminating content that many do not yet have on their radar is providers such as plista or Ligatus, which bring enormous reach into the game through their cooperation with the major newspapers. Here, too, there are already excellent targeting options based on the user behaviour of the potential readers.

As part of a seeding strategy, you can also think about purchasing in relevant newsletters. Google Adwords and Bing Ads are certainly noteworthy alternatives.

Highjacked media

By highjacked media, we mean the positioning of our content on other websites that fit thematically very well. However, this is a point that caution should be exercised from a search engine optimization (SEO) point of view. In the end, this is nothing more than building a link, at well-fitting places.

A typical case is the blog comment of a reader, who links to his article under an article. This can work and go well, but if it is too pronounced, it can also hurt your rankings in the search engine.

The same applies to the distribution of content in topic-related threads in various forums.

Used correctly and carefully, this can lead to good traffic increases. Misused, a search penalty would also be possible.

Conclusion:

I hope I was able to give you a good overview and broaden your senses about your content production.

The most critical finding is certainly that content is not created on the side, but requires targeted planning. Unfortunately, content becomes very expensive in this way, but it’s worth it. Professional content allows right conclusions to be drawn about the person or company behind the content and ultimately strengthens yourself and your reputation. Who wants to look unprofessional?

Featured

Microphone turned off

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg defended his power at his group’s annual general meeting – once again. How long can this go on?

Facebook, as many observers see it, actually suffers from the fact that creator Mark Zuckerberg has too much to say, including his definition of freedom of expression. Yes, that he even acts like a dictator.

Nobody can get past Zuckerberg.

On Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg must have felt what it was like to suddenly have no voice for the first time in a long time. The Facebook boss had just made a fiery plea for freedom of expression.

At 11:11 am local time in California, – Zuckerberg just explained at the annual general meeting of Facebook, which was held entirely online this time, why his cyber currency Libra is so essential for his company – the conference service provider ended the meeting without further ado. And so abruptly turned the microphone off the Facebook boss and thus the worldwide audience.

Even the most talented satirist couldn’t have done it better. The irony is perfect. The breakdown is a steep step for the growing number of critics of the social network. Because, as many observers see, Facebook suffers from the fact that its creator has too much to say, including its definition of freedom of expression. Yes, that he even acts like a dictator.

It’s not that Zuckerberg doesn’t have a voice. But on the contrary. The Facebook founder and CEO own 81.8 percent of Class B shares, representing around 363 million papers, each giving him ten votes. He outdoes ordinary Class A shareholders who have only one vote and, with 53.1 percent of the votes, is unchallenged on Facebook. He even has a further 4.8 percent buffer thanks to Class B shareholders who have given him his vote.

This year’s Facebook general meeting was, therefore – except the abrupt end – as it has been in recent years. At least for the most part, because there was no riot from the audience and demonstrations in front of the building at the virtual meeting.

All the motions submitted by Facebook were approved, the majority by other shareholders were rejected. NorthStar Asset Management’s proposal to abolish multiple voting rights and thereby give ordinary investors a say? No chance – like in previous years.

Now it is not the case that Zuckerberg invented multiple voting rights. Instead, the fall in Silicon Valley goes back to the founders of Google, Sergey Brin, and Larry Page, who made such a construct popular among the founders of high tech when they listed their company on the stock exchange in August 2004. Brin and Page, in turn, took the suggestion for this from Donald Graham, the longtime publisher of the Washington Post, whose mother Katharine secured the family’s influence when the media company went public in 1971. Don Graham, in turn, was on the Board of Directors of Facebook from 2009 to 2015. And that as – the summit of irony – leading independent members.

Brin and Page also control the Alphabet parent company. But there are still two. Alphabet’s board of directors is also not known to instigate revolts against the founders. But is perceived as more independent from the outside.

On Facebook, at least Jonas Kron of Trillium Asset Management thinks that is not the case. Among his newly confirmed members on Wednesday are such top-class players as Netscape creator Marc Andreessen and Hedgefond billionaire Peter Thiel. You are not exactly known as a yes-man. Drew Houston joined the team in February. The founder of Dropbox is a longtime friend of Zuckerberg.

Facebook is not a democracy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Andreessen and Thiel, it is said in Silicon Valley, should often represent opinions other than Zuckerberg. But they cannot do more than advice, let alone control effectively. You are personally close to him. So close that Zuckerberg, even against considerable public criticism, declined to dismiss Thiel from the Board of Directors because of his publicly cultivated support from Donald Trump. That speaks for the loyalty of Zuckerberg. But it should be one of the reasons why Netflix founder Reed Hastings left the Facebook board last year.

“Facebook is not a democracy,” said Zuckerberg at a meeting of his employees. He is right about that. If Facebook were a democracy, every investor would have an equal vote. Depending on its shares, of course, but also on the economic risk.

It’s true: thanks to his power, Zuckerberg can lead his group more effectively, easily fend off hostile takeovers and quickly pull through his own. The fact that Facebook has become so powerful and continues to grow is also because Zuckerberg bought potential competitors such as Instagram and WhatsApp. He was able to negotiate this at the kitchen table in his home in Palo Alto without having to convince his supervisory board for a long time.

Do multiple voting rights damage a group’s economic prosperity? Opinions differ. In the case of Facebook, it can at least be measured by the market value. That has climbed from $ 242 billion to $ 652 billion in the past five years, despite all the scandals and a handpicked board of directors.

But thanks to critical voices, could Facebook have avoided a few wrong steps, and could it be even more valuable? Surely it could have kept some talents.

Even more: May a company that includes WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram, reached around three billion inhabitants of the earth and thus has considerable political and social influence, are led by a, well, dictator, as observers from Zuckerberg describe?

Even Zuckerberg is likely to swan that this will not go well for long. On Wednesday, he referred to the recently launched content supervisory body, which was ridiculed by critics as a “censorship committee.” But can the team of former top politicians, lawyers, and journalists stand up to the CEO? Will he implement recommendations that are not pleasant to him as promised?

Doubts are appropriate. Chris Cox, former Facebook Product Manager, longtime friend and confidant of Zuckerberg, and even a candidate to succeed him as CEO, surprisingly left the group last year. He intervened unsuccessfully against Zuckerberg’s plan to encrypt the content of WhatsApp and Messenger. There are many good arguments for encrypting communication that competitors like Apple also share. But

There are also dark sides, including harrowing ones.

As Michael Passoff made clear during the Facebook general meeting. Proxy Impact’s CEO wants to stop Facebook’s encryption plans. “Facebook is the largest source of child sexual abuse material worldwide,” Pass off claims. Encryption would make it even harder to stop or even notice this flood, he warns. Zuckerberg, himself the father of two children, certainly didn’t make the decision easy. It is a burden. However, which would be spread over several shoulders and more comfortable to carry.

Featured

Project management: a comprehensive guide

Whether you are pursuing agile methods, managing projects more traditionally, or opting for hybrid project management – there are countless approaches to planning and controlling projects. However, each of these projects has one variable in common: the people who work together for one goal. But what is the best way to use their skills productively, creatively, and efficiently?

In this article, we will show you the most well-known project management methods, tell you which software will help you and what else you should know.

What is project management?

Project management refers to the administration, coordination, and control of all elements contributing to the achievement of a project goal. Project management is often divided into the following five phases: initiating, planning, controlling, controlling, and completing.

Many terms and methods are established, but new approaches are continually being developed to do justice to a changing world of work.

What is agile project management?

The methods of agile project management follow different agile principles: For example, individuals, interactions, and the short-term response to changes are more critical than higher-level processes, the tools themselves, or following a plan.

Typical of agile project management is an iterative (subdivision into temporal stages) and incremental (building on each other) approach.

Why is project management critical?

You probably know it from your own experience: To achieve the best results on a project, experts from very different areas must come together.

Be it the marketer who works for a successful Facebook ad, copywriter, designer, or the sales employee who includes controlling and the field staff to plan the next steps.

The best-case occurs when everyone pulls together, and synergy effects arise in the team. And this is where project management comes into play: It is responsible for effectively connecting all elements and leading them to the shared project goal.

Project management certainly requires proper planning. However, the effort for the company that arises at the start of the project pays off.

The advantages are apparent:

  • Lower costs,
  • early detection of deviations from the plan,
  • better coordination between those involved and
  • ultimately the achievement of the set goals.

The development of project management: from classic to agile?

Companies are in a time of change. If they cannot keep up with digitization, technical progress, and other innovative impulses, success will fail. To keep up with the changing world of work, various methods of project management have developed in recent years.

There is a trend of classic project management divided into five phases towards more agile methods. Although they deliberately lack the structure on which other types of control are based, we will also introduce below – if implemented correctly, the degree of flexibility increases. Because agile project management relies on personal responsibility and flat hierarchies, it often takes longer, especially in larger companies, to establish flexible structures.

Ultimately, it also depends on the industry and the environment in which the project management style works best. So that you get an overview, we will now introduce you to the most critical methods.

The five project management phases

Project management is often divided into five phases: preparing, initiating, planning, controlling, and completing.

1) Prepare

The first phase involves weighing up or deciding for or against a project.

  • Should it be done at all?
  • What overall goals would you pursue?
  • And what results do you, your customers, or superiors expect from the project?

Depending on the company, a project application could be submitted in this step. If it is a customer project, for example, in marketing, this phase begins with the specific coordination with the customer, whereby a cost estimate may already be drawn up.

2) Initiate

The second phase begins with the project order. This is about creating the basis and clarifying framework conditions. It is essential to set and record the specific project goals. Success factors and risks are also identified in this process.

Now the project manager assembles his team, coordinates content, plans the communication and organization between the participants, and determines quality criteria.

The economy should always be kept in mind. What exactly belongs to the “Initiate” item can vary depending on the company, type, or size of the project.

3) Plan

The fact that planning is the third phase of project management can be a little misleading at first. Because planning competence is not concentrated at a specific point in time but is necessary throughout the entire project.

However, a project plan should now be drawn up and coordinated at the latest. This includes specific tasks, deadlines, costs, capacities, results, and milestones.

Depending on the project, further questions may arise:

  • May contracts have to be concluded?
  • Is reporting desired or sensible, which is continually being adjusted and the framework of which should therefore already be set up?

4) taxes

During the project, the project manager continuously checks the implementation and the results – above all, based on the three factors of qualitytime, and costs. Excellent communication is essential not only here, but especially at this point.

The fact that the implementation deviates from the planned at one point or another is the rule rather than the exception here. The main responsible then has the task of reacting to this.

The project plan must then be adjusted (new) tasks distributed or priorities set differently.

5) Complete

Because the goals were clearly defined initially, the team had an easy game at the end. Now the profitability is checked and, if necessary, a report is created in which the results and the project are documented.

The feedback is obtained from customers, employees, or other participants. The experience gained flows into later projects.

The most popular project management methods

The five phases of project management can be seen as a kind of cornerstone on which most of the project management methods are based. On this basis, various ways have gradually developed, all of which lead to the goal, but can be used differently depending on the requirements.

Each of these methods depends on goals and their precise definition. There is the so-called SMART model, an acronym consisting of the words Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, Time-Bound.

The goals should be set according to these criteria – a formulation of purposes such as “increasing customer satisfaction” is not concrete enough.

If you have formulated your goals using the SMART method, there are various ways to achieve them.

1) Critical path 

The critical path procedure is particularly suitable for more complex projects with many variables. It describes a process that takes account of the dependencies on tasks.

The tasks and three components are shown in a graphic representation:

  • The duration of the tasks,
  • the earliest possible and the latest possible location of subtasks 
  • and their relationship to each other.

What sounds complicated is based on a simple principle: The goal here is to depict dependencies and thus to be able to decide which task has higher priority than another. For example, because the first task can only be started with the second, then only with the third and so on.

Tasks on the critical path usually have no time buffers and, therefore, little leeway. They must be closely monitored in their execution by the project manager so that bottlenecks can be anticipated. 

2) Waterfall model

The waterfall model divides a project into different sequences. It is characteristic that the second phase only begins when the first has been completed.

This step-by-step method creates a clear structure and an easy way of project control.

The method is suitable for projects that have constant requirements and do not require short-term correction loops. When a phase is complete, it is difficult to adjust.

The method is, therefore, unsuitable for projects that require a high degree of flexibility or in which unpredictable factors could tend to play a more significant role.

3) Milestone trend analysis

As the name suggests, this method is based on defining milestones and, on reaching them, continuously measuring, planning, and adapting the project. In the course of the project, character stand and test dates are held again and again, on which individual results are evaluated. These dates will be used to decide on the further course and the next steps of the project.

sinking or rising curve shows how early, or late the milestones are reached. Horizontal trends mean that the sign is expected to be achieved as planned. In this way, the project status can be grasped at a glance and quickly read where the focus has to be.

To a certain extent, the milestone trend analysis, like the waterfall method, is a step-by-step method. However, this is much more flexible, and the project status can be seen at a glance.

4) Kanban method

The Kanban method uses the so-called Kanban board, divided into three columns, in which the different project tasks are classified according to their status:

Either as a todoin progress or done.

Image: Slidemodel – Kanban board

The columns can be expanded or renamed as required. For example, Kanban is well suited as an approach for projects with special requirements, or that can still change significantly.

This method is even more flexible than the milestone trend analysis and is often used in agile project management.

5) Methodological instruments: the magic triangle and the utility analysis 

The so-called magic triangle of project management is more a systematic instrument than an own project management method.

This consists of three target values ​​of timecost, and quality. As soon as one of the three parameters changes, it immediately affects the other two components.

To achieve the project goal, changes to a component must be compensated for by adapting the other two parameters.

The utility analysis helps to make difficult decisions at one point in the project, especially when there are several different options for solving the problem.

In this case, the various options are written down, and their advantages are assessed with points. In short, it tries to quantify qualitative decision criteria.

New wind: agile project management

Agile project management has its origins in software development but is used today in very different areas. The methods follow agile values ​​and principles, which were written down in the Agile Manifesto in 2001.

The values ​​of these project management methods are characterized by flexibility in terms of time and content, close cooperation, individual responsibilitysimplicity, and self-organization.

To consistently carry out agile project management, companies often have to exit from established hierarchical patterns. This may be challenging, but it also offers a variety of new opportunities.

For a good overview, we have compiled the essential key points that make up agile project management :

1) Agile project management: advantages and disadvantages

Agile project management thrives on regular, frequent deliveries of (interim) results. This can be an advantage for customers and superiors. The proper coordination also makes target and plan adjustments much more comfortable to implement – for example, if the requirements of the market change.

However, the advantages are only one side of the coin. With a high degree of flexibility, there is always a high need for coordination and thus costs. Also, concrete project results are more difficult to predict, and projects are more challenging to document.

2) The iterative approach through timeboxing

Agile project management proceeds iteratively – which means nothing other than: “divided into time stages. ” In contrast to classic methods, in which a project is split into work packages, the work to be performed in agile project management is tied to time sections.

The timeboxes, therefore, specify the duration of the work, and then – to put it simply – to determine at what point the project, the team is.

3) SCRUM method

The SCRUM method is often used to implement agile projects. This defines different roles in the team, but only a few cornerstones or rules of procedure.

The SCRUM method is characterized above all because it works in different sprints in which continuous progress is to be achieved piece by piece.

Teamwork and personal responsibility are also in the foreground at SCRUM – the significant advantage:

This method leads to success when a motivated team is working on the project – and if it is not yet, there is a high probability that the employees will be motivated by the personal appreciation and responsibility assigned!

4) Hybrid project management

The methods of project management are varied. Thus, no straightforward way of thinking in black or white is possible when classifying project management. Successful are those who decide on a method, adapt it selectively, and try out ideas from other project management styles – and in the best case, change it.

The term hybrid – ” mixed ” – project management probably fits well with what most companies do anyway: They mix different types, for example, classic and agile project management, into a proper method that provides the individual approach and the company’s environment.

This explains, for example, how the ” Scrumban ” method came about.

Decisive help: project management software and tools

Project management tools and software make a decisive contribution to the successful implementation of your projects. But since the selection of providers is so large, we will briefly present some of the most popular ones below – however, the list does not end there. The tools offer different advantages for different methods.

1) Asana

The cloud-based software Asana is easy to use and includes all the basics of project management. You only have to pay for the maintenance of the software, for updates and backups of data. Personal customer service is also subject to a fee.

Asana is useful for getting started – however if many features are desired, the software will eventually reach its limits.

2) Trello

Trello has only one project view – this is based on the  Kanban method, so Trello is suitable for organizing projects using boards.

If you want to visualize projects in time and the long term, you won’t find an appropriate option at Trello. This makes Trello a clear and easy-to-use tool, but it is only suitable for uncomplicated projects.

3) Wrike

Wrike is a bit more sophisticated and complex. Accordingly, a specific training period in the software is necessary. But then the tool impresses with extensive features:

With a marketing module in which workflows (including briefings, review, and approval functions) can be integrated, comprehensive and complicated projects can be bundled.

4) factro

The factro tool is user-friendly and enables a quick start. From Kanban via a structure tree to a tabular view, users can view a project in a wide variety of views.

factro also impresses with fast and personal customer service, should any questions arise.

5) Team leader

In addition to functions for project planning, Teamleader has helpful features for invoice creation and monetary recording of projects. The tool is intuitive to use and is therefore also suitable for beginners.

With its features, the software goes more broadly than deep: it has extensive functions but is not highly sophisticated. If you are looking for exceptional services, you can run into limits with Teamleader.

6) todo .vu

The functions of todo .vu offer a mixture of customer relationship management, task management, time recording, and billing.

The tool is free for freelancers – however, the device costs as soon as several users access it. From eleven users, however, the price is capped. The software is particularly suitable for agile projects.

7) Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a hybrid between project management software and a spreadsheet program such as Excel. It, therefore, offers various options.

The disadvantage: you have to learn to deal with it first. Helpful documentation and many templates make it easier for you to get started and show you what is possible with it. Then the software is particularly suitable for project planning.

You can obtain these project management certificates.

A certificate can be helpful to demonstrate project management skills to customers and superiors or simply to learn something new. Various national and international providers enable you to obtain one. The most important at a glance:

1) Project Management Professional (PMP)

The US-based and internationally oriented PMP certification does require 36 months of project management experience for a bachelor’s degree or 60 months of project management experience for a degree comparable to a university entrance qualification. However, if you have this and pass the computer test, you have an internationally recognized award.

2) Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam is suitable for beginners, requiring significantly fewer participation requirements.

Exam preparation is currently the same as for PMP certification. The advantage: If you want to do this at a later point in time, some requirements have already been met. The costs here are around 1,800 euros.

Certifications for special areas

If you are looking for certificates and further training in niches, you are guaranteed to find them – especially for agile methods like SCRUM; there are more offers. The Scrum Alliance and Scrum.org, for example, are two providers that already have a mature offering.

We note that there is no shortage of alternatives when it comes to project management . Rather, it is about choosing exactly what suits you from many options. It depends on the requirements of your company and the type of project. The method must also suit the employees and not least you. So it is worth trying a few practices and researching which ones will give you the best experience. 

The same applies to project management tools . It may take some training here until the systems are a natural part of everyday work – but then processes and communication processes can be successively optimized.

In the end you always save time. Because everyday and technical processes run smoothly, you have the space to make your projects a little bit better with creative impulses.

Featured

Net Promoter Score: What is the NPS?

Whether it’sit’s a move, a new job or the next vacation – most of us will probably take a similar approach when making such decisions: We search the Internet for information and ask friends and family for recommendations.

In a study by Talk Triggers, the “”Chatter Matters: The 2018 Word of Mouth Report “”, 83% of respondents said they trusted recommendations from friends and family members more than any form of advertising. To be able to measure these values, the Net Promoter Score, or NPS for short, is used

Who uses the Net Promoter Score? Such numbers are of great interest to companies from all industries because customers particularly like to share negative experiences. Companies need to collect customer feedback and identify problem areas as quickly as possible to make improvements.

The Net Promoter Score is a measure of customer satisfaction.

Today, it’sit’s easier than ever to share your opinion online with a large number of people. And this is where the NPS comes in.

In this article, we look at the following topics:

1) What is the NPS?

2) How is the NPS calculated?

3) Why is the NPS so important?

Net promoter score: definition

The Net Promoter Score is a benchmark for customer satisfaction. It measures how likely it is that customers would recommend your brand or offer.

How is the Net Promoter Score calculated?

To determine the NPS, you first need to ask your customers. This question is mostly used for this: “”How likely is it on a scale from 0 to 10 that you recommend the product/brand to a friend or colleague?”” The answers to this question can be divided into three groups:

  • Advocate: Customers who vote on the 9-10 scale
  • Passive: Customers who choose on the 7-8 scale
  • Critics: Customers who choose 0-6 on the scale

The names of the individual categories make it clear how the respective customers are likely to behave: 

Advocates (also: promoters ) are enthusiastic, loyal customers who are very likely to tell their friends and relatives positive things about your brand and thus help you win new customers. 

Passives are more of a tie. You could become an advocate – but also switch to the competition. 

Critics (also: detractors ) are dissatisfied customers who may not have been your customers for long. And what’swhat’s more, there is a risk that they will damage your brand if they tell others about their negative experiences.

TO CALCULATE THE NET PROMOTER SCORE, SUBTRACT THE PERCENTAGE OF CRITICS (CUSTOMERS WHO WOULD NOT RECOMMEND YOUR COMPANY) FROM THE PERCENTAGE OF ADVOCATES (CUSTOMERS WHO WOULD RECOMMEND YOU).

Calculate how many answers you got in each of these two categories and subtract the detractors from the promoters. This gives you value or a measure of the likelihood that the average customer will recommend you. The group of passives is not included in the calculation because it is not clear whether they would pass on positive or negative opinions.

It is essential to have more advocates than critics – ideally, a lot more. 

An exemplary calculation of the NPS

Suppose you survey 100 customers . With 40% critics and 50% advocates, your NPS would be 10 (50% – 40% = 10).

If, however, you had only 20% critics for the same number of respondents, your NPS would be 30. This would correspond to a 20% higher probability that your customers would recommend you.

If you regularly interview your customers and find out how they talk to friends and relatives about your company, it will be easier for you to find out where there are weak points and opportunities for improvement. It is therefore recommended that you allow customers to provide comments and feedback. This gives you a good starting point to tackle aspects that customers may be dissatisfied with and to improve the customer experience. 

For companies to achieve a good net promoter score, they should orient themselves on specific benchmarks. 

Why is the Net Promoter Score so important?

With the help of the customer NPS, companies in every industry have the opportunity to assess customer loyalty – and the likelihood that their customers will recommend them. This value can also be used to determine how likely customers are to migrate, i.e. not to renew their subscription, not to renew a product or to buy from another company.

In general, it is not only significantly cheaper to bind existing customers to a company than to win new ones, but also more profitable. With only 5% more customer loyalty, a sales increase of 25 to 95% can be achieved.

As you work to attract and convert new customers, keep in mind that retaining existing customers will pay off even more.

It is therefore essential to identify those customers who are at risk of being lost to the company. Here, the customer NPS offers a prominent key figure, especially if you keep track of how it develops over time.

Changes in the overall NPS indicate how likely the average customer is to recommend the brand or productChanges in the individual values, broken down by advocates, passives and critics, can show a customer success team in which direction the overall NPS is developing.

For example, if the number of critics decreases and the number of passives increases, this can be a sign of positive development in customer perception. However, a decline in advocates and an increase in liabilities can indicate that there is an increased risk of customer churn and negative reviews.

A low Net Promoter Score is a warning sign.

Changes in the customer NPS can be an indicator – or a warning sign – of current customer satisfaction and the risk of customer churn.

For example, SAP, a provider of software solutions, was able to use improved and more regular NPS surveys to find out what had led to a lower rating of customers and which aspects should be improved accordingly. The new and significantly worse NPS has shown that only 27% would recommend the company. According to the Handelsblatt, this was due to the digital conversion of the company and the subsequent complex projects and portfolios. With this feedback, SAP was able to initiate further measures to improve customer satisfaction.

Find opportunities for improvement.

It happens that customers choose a low value on the scale, maybe even a 0, in the NPS question. Of course, this is uncomfortable, especially if it happens more often. But you can also see something positive in it, namely the opportunity to improve your product or service according to customer feedback.

Therefore, you should allow your customers to justify a bad rating in your NPS surveys. When customers point out specific problems, you should try to resolve them to improve the customer experience for your product or service.

Not every feedback will be helpful, but you will undoubtedly receive information about specific errors, poor user experience or a sparse conversation with a customer service representative. And these tips are an excellent way to talk to the responsible team about opportunities for improvement.

Referral marketing is more effective than other marketing methods.

Companies can use the customer NPS to see how likely they are to be recommended by customers – and we have already seen how important these recommendations are.

  • 71% of social media users who had a positive experience with a brand said they were likely to recommend the brand to friends and family.
  • Also, over half (51%) of users trust the recommendations of influencers.
  • Customers won based on recommendations have a 16 to 25% higher lifetime value – and a higher ROI – than other customers.

Businesses can benefit from referral marketing by asking for case studies, testimonials, and online reviews that can help them attract new potential customers. In turn, companies can reward customer loyalty with brand ambassador and “incentive” programs – for example, with vouchers, promotional items or discounts. Referral marketing can, therefore, be a symbiotic relationship between brands and customers. However, this only works with satisfied customers. The NPS can help you identify these satisfied customers.

study from 2019 showed that in online marketing, the increase in customer satisfaction by one point (on a scale from 0 to 10) increased the conversion rate from visitors to a website to buyers by 3.9%. The number of cancellations among customers who are considered promoters is also significantly lower than that of detractors or passively satisfied customers.

An optimized NPS promotes customer satisfaction.

If you have analyzed your NPS data and (hopefully) have found many satisfied advocates, you should not sit back and relax. Seek dialogue with satisfied customers. Perhaps you can include them in a referral program so that they remain happy and also attract additional customers for you.

Featured

The Bigger Picture: Content automation with artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is on everyone’s lips, and the digital transformation is noticeable in every corner of our lives. We encounter and use more and more AI-based applications – often without us being aware of it. There is undreamt-of potential for communication, in particular: machines use natural language processing (NLP) to analyze, generate, and speak our language. So what is the use of artificial intelligence for content automation? How do we make profitable use of the technologies – already now?

3d rendering mini robot in human hand

To begin with, there is the question of the definition of artificial intelligence. It is a generic term for various research fields that deal with how machines can achieve services that correspond to those of human knowledge. So there is not this one AI – instead, artificial intelligence is a collective term for numerous intelligent applications – from autonomous driving to humanoid robots to machine processing of human language.

Man or machine – who is smarter?

All currently existing systems can be assigned to the so-called weak artificial intelligence. In contrast to the “all-round solution AI”, which is often communicated in the media, these systems were developed to fulfill a clearly defined task and use the same methods to solve problems. They act purely reactive, so they do not gain a deep understanding of the actual problem and do not have independent consciousness. People are versatile – we can drive a car, write novels, or learn different languages. Machines can either do one or the other or – in most cases – neither.

On the other hand, systems that mimic the entirety of human intelligence and can solve new problems independently instead of just simulating individual social skills fall under the category of strong or general  AI. They are often referred to in the media as “superintelligence.” We’re not that far yet. And it remains to be seen whether we will ever get this now.

So as long as artificial intelligence has difficulty concentrating on more than one task at a time, we don’t have to worry about super-intelligent machines and dwindling jobs. Especially since various studies have confirmed that automation will lead to a change in the world of work, but a long-term increase in employment. This creates new job profiles and exciting challenges, as well as new ways of working and demanding constant and flexible learning.

So back to the current developments: How far does artificial intelligence go? There is no question that machines represent an expansion of our potential since they can do things that exceed our capabilities – conversely, we also outperform the tools in many ways.

Technology is ahead of people in data-driven and standardized tasks – people’s strengths lie in creative, original, and creative assignments. And of course, it is not only the complicated and demanding things that are reserved for us humans but also the conscious feeling and experience of the beautiful things.

In this sense, the term “artificial intelligence” may be misleading – instead of a machine image of human intelligence, it is much more about efficiently expanding or supporting our skills because personal information is a complex, challenging to define construct and will probably never be wholly reproducible or copyable.

An interpretation of “AI” as “Augmented Intelligence” instead of “Artificial Intelligence” would be more precise – depending on your perspective, we are ultimately more intelligent than AI, but AI is also more intelligent than we are. The question remains, how can we use this fact profitably and intelligently expand our intelligence.

Is artificial intelligence revolutionizing communication?

If you pair artificial intelligence with linguistics, we are in the research area of ​​”Natural Language Processing.” The NLP deals with the mechanical processing of human language – It can analyze it, develop semantic connections, and generate it.

You have stumbled upon this yourself when using apps and websites with chatbots or smart assistants. Language-based on AI is often generated within these applications. The technology behind it is called “Natural Language Generation” (NLG). More and more websites use automatic text generation to provide targeted, personalized, or merely a wide range of high-quality content.

When news portals use NLG software to produce sports news, weather reports, or stock market updates, there is often talk of “robot journalism”. Real estate portals, tourism providers, and online retailers use the same technology to create offers or product descriptions. Banks and insurance companies legally secure financial texts and agencies implement new content strategies with automatic support.

Really?

“These skinny fit jeans from Tamaris prove to be a real stroke of luck when you try them on for the first time. It immediately becomes an essential part of every new favorite outfit with its flattering fit and cutting-edge cut. It is not for nothing that the extremely tight fit of this cut is beautiful, as it skilfully highlights the curves of the wearer and is also comfortable to wear. […]”

Yes. Because this text comes from the pen of a machine.

NLG opens up completely new possibilities: Personalized content can be created in different languages in real-time – tailored to a specific region or a particular market.

The numerous advantages are apparent: With NLG, message-driven portals can expand their coverage to niche topics and increase their reach. Direct coverage of current events increases reader satisfaction and loyalty, as well as user engagement with the offer.

Online retailers can quickly and easily customize content and update their catalogs when needed, e.g., For example, they can respond to conversion optimization data or promote seasonal promotions. Unique texts can be generated for the same data record at the push of a button, which enables individual texting on multiple play channels. The often cumbersome analysis of the data situation in various contexts is also carried out automatically, and the results are presented to users in an easily understandable, naturally formulated text form.

The result is increased productivity and more time-efficient work: the technology takes over routine tasks, and people have more time for demanding and creative work.

So what are the prerequisites for companies to successfully implement NLG and to benefit from all these advantages?

One factor is crucial: structured data. They form the foundation of every NLG application; with them, the entire text generation project stands and falls because only structured data can be processed mechanically and used efficiently.

“Structured” means that the information is available in an organized, for example, tabular form. When creating a weather report, this would be, for example, the temperature, the probability of precipitation, or the expected number of hours of sunshine at a specific location. Stock market news can be the price fluctuations or values ​​such as the increase or decrease in an index while texting product descriptions, article characteristics such as color, material, size, or weight.

Ergo: If something is measurable, it can be recorded in data. And if it can be recorded in data, then it can be automatically texted. Areas of application for automatic text generation arise wherever recurring and standardized form of communication is required.

To transform this structured data into naturally formulated texts, an NLG system must be set up in advance for the specific area of ​​application – the desired format of the content must be structured, threshold values ​​defined, and variant formulations added. The scalable text generation is then possible. Depending on the available data and the complexity of the specified conditions, Natural Language Generation can present facts or interpret numbers in detail.

To return to the initial question, it is by no means an exaggeration to speak of a revolution in our communication; of evolution but perhaps more appropriate. Because stagnation would be a cause for concern – that society is developing and changing is only desirable. And Natural Language Generation is just one area of ​​application for artificial intelligence because digitization runs through all areas of our daily life and creates an unbelievable number of different opportunities to improve and expand our communication even further – for example, through chatbots, smart speakers or machine translation.

“AI for everyone”?

The existence of new technologies is one thing: the possibility of using them is another. Such a “privilege” can be restricted to selected groups of people who have specialized (programming) knowledge, pursue specific research purposes, or can afford to buy expensive applications. Thanks to digitization, more knowledge is available globally and publicly – everyone can experience innovation not only passively, but also actively shape the developments.

This is also the case with the Natural Language Generation: NLG software is offered as a Software-as-a-Service application (SaaS) and can be connected to any CMS and operated intuitively, without any programming knowledge. This enables users to create NLG content independently. In contrast to purchasing a complete NLG service solution, users are responsible. Because even if NLG experts and developers are experts in what they do, they cannot be experts in every particular area that needs automated texts. Industry-specific, perhaps competitive background knowledge and relevant relationships, are best known to industry specialists. Who could set up such an NLG project better than the experts themselves? 

Of course, the users are not on their own. An intelligent analysis of the data and text input automatically takes linguistic peculiarities into account. Other complex functions and the possibility of automatic translation are bundled in an intuitive web interface. Onboarding and advice from the NLG service provider should be part of the excellent service to enable users to use the technology successfully. And this is how this successful assignment can sound:

“Bathroom taps like this fit in every bathroom. The timeless design nestles wonderfully into the ambiance without attracting too much attention. Thanks to the stylish shape and the beautiful gloss in chrome, the basin mixer is a welcome eye-catcher at the washbasin. Benefit from Grohe’s branded products and purchase this copy from the Euroeco Special series.”

Online shops such as calmwaters.de from Badorado GmbH use NLG solutions such as the textengine.io from Retresco to meet their permanent need for current product descriptions – especially in sales have to convince not only technically, but also on an emotional level. Every shop operator knows the challenge of texting a large number of products in a uniform address – and that as flexibly and efficiently as possible. Automatic text generation enables them to distinguish themselves from the competition and standard manufacturer texts.

In the media environment, process optimization, in particular, is a decisive argument in that journalists are given more time for in-depth research and creative tasks by doing less routine work. However, natural language generation can also be used to offer users an optimized customer experience through an additional service: For example, ImmobilienScout24 automatically texts the critical data entered by its advertisers into appealing property exposés. The application options for text generation are diverse and open up enormous potential for various industries with a little imagination.

This is how content automation with artificial intelligence succeeds.

The content creation today is not a purely editorial task more; the process through automation can economically make sense. 

In the course of the digital transformation, it is essential to remain agile and actively shape progress. New technologies are to be understood as valuable tools that can make a significant contribution to the individual (content) strategy.

Automation per se, however, does not mean progress if it is not used correctly. Natural, human intelligence will always be seen as the basis for the strategic application of artificial intelligence – however, the intelligent combination of the two enables companies to advance their sustainable business success.

Featured

Find employees in social networks: dos and don’ts in social recruiting

The battle for the best talent has already started. For this reason, companies have to adapt to new trends in recruitment continuously. The increasing importance of social media, which extends to almost all areas of our everyday life, is causing a change in the recruiting world.

Recruitment Hand Picking Business Person Candidate People Group Flat Vector Illustration

The change in recruiting

While the recruiting process used to focus more on the company, today, the employee is moving more and more into the foreground and is becoming more critical. Applicants become courters, and companies do everything they can to attract the best.

The days of passive personnel selection are over at the same time. Businesses can no longer afford to wait for applications and hope that the right person for their business is among the batches of requests. On the contrary: you have to search actively.

The role of social media

How do you find the best employees today? Today’s methods for recruiting include:

  • external job advertisements,
  • your company website,
  • Job fairs,
  • Employee recommendations
  • and, above all, the targeted use of social media.

What role does social media play in this context? A significant trend in recruiting is the so-called social recruiting. What exactly falls under this term, how best to implement social recruiting and what should be avoided, let’s take a look at the following.

What is social recruiting?

Social recruiting or social media recruiting includes all recruitment activities that take place via social media channels. It is one of the most critical recruiting trends in recent years. A distinction is made between direct and indirect social recruiting:

  • Direct social recruiting describes measures in the area of ​​”active sourcing”, which means that candidates are addressed directly. Recruiters use the profile information and interests to decide whether the targeted person fits into the company or not.
  • This contrasts with indirect social recruiting, which includes advertising measures. In this way, candidates who are not actively searching are made aware of the company or the vacancy.

Which method proves to be more efficient in terms of time, and the result depends entirely on the role you are looking for. “For commercial and other roles that are easier to fill, you can search indirectly to be very efficient. In the case of technical roles that are difficult to fill, companies have to address candidates directly because there is no indirect source for candidates,” explains Benjamin Osler, a recruiter at Gartner.

The currently most important and most widespread social recruiting channels  are Xing, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Future perspective: Artificial intelligence in active sourcing

Artificial intelligence (AI) is particularly worth mentioning in connection with active sourcing. AI can help recruiters select suitable staff and establish the first contact between companies and potential candidates. In this case, the tedious letter of many connections is replaced by a chatbot.

It goes even further: AI can provide a pre-selection to candidates by filtering the CVs by specific keywords, but it can also make appointments with the candidates. If a contact from a social network is interested, for example, to learn more about the company and agrees to a job interview, the chatbot compares the calendar of the necessary recruiters and offers suitable appointments. This is a very time-saving and efficient way to make initial contacts with candidates on social media.

Opportunities and risks of social recruiting

Integrating social recruiting into company recruitment measures can prove to be extremely favorable due to the many advantages of social networks (such as the high reach).

A high social media presence gives recruiters access to a lot of information about potential employees. Since users aged 16-24 years spend an average of 3 hours a day on social networks, especially young talents, can be recruited. Also, job advertisements on social platforms are spreading much faster than with conventional forms of distribution: This includes sharing a job advertisement on your career website, which means that only active seekers are made aware of the open job offer.

The rapid spread and high reach can also hurt companies if the company’s contributions do not trigger the desired response. Assuming a company posts a post that generates negative comments and makes the rounds quickly, this can damage the reputation and drive out followers.

Dos and don’ts in social recruiting

So what do you have to look out for in social recruiting?

DOS

Use different platforms

Each platform has its audience, so use different channels for the respective target groups. Accordingly, you must also select the content that is appropriate for the target group and platform. Each network also has different functions that must be used correctly. Posts on Twitter, for example, should always have hashtags and briefly and concisely convey the message. In contrast, Facebook offers unlimited characters. So you can write more detailed texts, but also here you have to be careful that the most critical content is not lost.

Pay attention to your profile.

Create an attractive company profile and offer enough interesting information, for example, about the corporate culture.

Social recruiting is not just about writing to potential employees. There is much more to it than how to present your own company as attractively as possible.

Share enough pictures and videos of company events, for example. Videos are much better viewed and shared more often on average. Also, pay attention to an appealing headline to support your image and video material.

The content must look authentic and credible. Otherwise, the posts trigger a rather undesirable effect. One way to support credibility is to ask your employees to like or share the posts.

Be active and participate.

Become part of relevant social media groups, for example, on LinkedIn or Xing, and post your exciting contributions to attract potential candidates. You should be exactly where your target group is. This makes it easier to recruit new employees for your industry.

It is essential to interact with group members. It enables you to create a level of trust before contacting candidates. Posts can always trigger adverse reactions, so it is essential to draw a social media crisis plan beforehand.

Don’ts

Don’t annoy your candidates with spam

Do not send potential candidates irrelevant messages, but personalize message texts and match them to the respective candidate profile. Instead of writing that someone has an “interesting profile,” focus on the person’s specific skills or experience. This increases the response rate and gives the company the impression that it carefully selects its candidates and is interested in the person chosen.

Don’t post too much

Quality instead of quantity: only share informative, varied, and target group-specific articles. The company should act exclusively and professionally on candidates. The company page should only post relevant topics so as not to appear as a source of spam. Share useful information and tips for the target group, for example. And instead of merely posting something every day, they post less but valuable content.

Don’t do social recruiting on the side.

Continuity is essential for success, so you should distribute the content regularly and respond promptly to inquiries. Above all, you shouldn’t only be active when a position is to be filled! That gives the impression of a boring company. Social recruiting should be a long-term goal because building a community and developing relationships with potential candidates can be time-consuming. Contacts must be cultivated, so the company must always be present. It is also essential to familiarize yourself with the social media language, for example, a more relaxed rather than too formal approach.

Three helpful tools for social recruiting

Mass information on the Internet often makes it easy to lose track. Therefore, some little helpers make the recruiting process much more comfortable. Such software supports the administration of a company through applicant and job information management. Applicant information is collected from their help, and the skills of the candidates are filtered and evaluated based on job requirements.

Below we present three tools that will support you in your social recruiting activities and help you to implement them successfully.

  1. Teamtailor

Screenshot team tailor

Teamtailor is an employer branding and recruiting platform. Teamtailor has an applicant tracking system and analysis dashboard to help HR management find suitable candidates for the company. The software enables the connection to all social media channels of the company. Interested parties can apply for jobs quickly and easily with just one click on their smartphone or tablet. The software provides candidate-specific career pages that provide interested people with the necessary information about the job. Furthermore, job advertisements can be shared on the respective social media channels from the career page.

The Teamtailor software is rated 4.9 / 5 stars on Capterra.

2. Breezy HR

Screenshot Breezy HR

The Breezy HR software helps companies to modernize the recruiting process and applicant tracking. It offers various functions such as tools for planning interviews, follow-ups, or video interviews. Manual tasks such as the distribution of job advertisements are automated and save HR staff a lot of time. Breezy HR also includes a social networking tool like LinkedIn to find suitable candidates. Candidates can be imported into the platform directly from the social media channels. With the help of an analysis tool, you can easily collect and organize CVs of applicants. In addition to candidate management, it enables questions and requirements to be created for applicants.

Breezy HR was rated 4.5 / 5 stars on Capterra.

3. Smart Recruiters

Smartrecruiters screenshot

SmartRecruiters is a web-based recruitment platform that is suitable for companies in all industries. In the user-friendly interface of SmartRecruiters you can publish a job advertisement with just a few clicks. The software replaces complex, manual processes. You can find candidates through direct sourcing through social media channels. Furthermore, relationships can be maintained across all social platforms. You can easily design career pages using a drag-and-drop tool. Smart Recruiters automates application processes and enables candidates to track the status of their application.

The recruiting software achieved 4.2 / 5 stars on Capterra.

Final word

The search for suitable personnel will always remain a significant challenge for companies. However, keep in mind that the cost of a vacancy is much higher than that of advertising. It is therefore worth investing in new trends to provide your own company with the best employees.

You can also see digital changes as an excellent opportunity to automate manual and monotonous processes in the human resources world. This creates more time for HR professionals to focus on more valuable tasks and, for example, to focus specifically on recruiting strategies.

It is essential that companies use a combination of different recruitment measures and not just focus on one. Depending on the age group or industry, the best employees can only be found this way. If you look at the fact that over 90% of the population is online, especially in social networks, it quickly becomes clear why social recruiting is so important.

So we summarize: Social recruiting is an increasingly important measure that recruiters should take in any case and should complement the traditional methods.

Featured

Marketing goals for founders and entrepreneurs

Marketing is not an end in itself. It is all the more important to define goals that should be achieved with the individual (already existing) marketing measures. This is especially true for larger companies – but smaller companies are also more successful if they formulate their marketing goals.

Marketing goals – that may sound a bit off the mark for some founders and small business owners. Ultimately, these can be directly subordinate to the corporate goals that every self-employed person should set, regardless of whether they have their marketing department or have to take care of the formulation and implementation of the goals themselves because only those who have a clear view of what they want to achieve can choose appropriate measures and use them precisely.

SMART formulate your own marketing goals

The SMART method is a project management formula that can be applied to all areas in which specific goals are to be achieved. It describes how these must be formulated to be successful:

S specific: The goals should be defined as precisely as possible.

M edible: The results should be correct; appropriate instruments are selected.

An attractive: The objectives should be formulated so that they are often tackled.

R realistic: The objectives should be able to be achieved in a mated time frame.

T erminier: For the targets, a specific schedule as possible should be created.

What marketing goals are there?

The number of conceivable objectives becomes more manageable if you group them. An overview of the most common classifications follows.

Quantitative and qualitative marketing goals

Marketing theory divides the possible goals into two broad groups: the quantitative (economic) and the qualitative (psychological) marketing goals. In practice, these are not always clearly distinguishable from each other, since there are many intersections and the purposes are partly mutually dependent.

Quantitative marketing goals

This is about hard facts. These have a decisive advantage over the psychological goals: They can be clearly defined in advance and can be measured precisely. If the desired success is not achieved within the set time frame, this can be quickly determined and corrected.

Marketing goals with numbers refer to:

  • sales
  • Profit
  • paragraph
  • contribution margin
  • value-based market share (sales revenue)
  • quantitative market share (sales volume)
  • Number of customers
  • growth

These quantitative projects aim to improve in the area concerned and are often superior to the other goals.

Qualitative marketing goals

The qualitative goals are rightly called psychological marketing goals because they have a lot to do with emotions. Often unconsciously, these play a significant role in the decision for a brand or a specific product. Companies can take advantage of this.

Qualitative marketing goals are geared towards achieving an increase or improvement in the following areas, among others:

  • quality
  • image
  • Awareness
  • Customer loyalty
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Trust (in brand or company)

In contrast to the economic goals, the psychological goals are challenging or sometimes not measurable at all. It is still the easiest way to determine the achievement of goals that relate to the level of awareness – but also not by a quick look at the database, but only by extensive surveys and surveys.

But even if they cannot be quantified, the qualitative marketing goals are just as important. The examples are given here provide the prerequisites for realizing the above-mentioned economic goals.

Strategic and tactical marketing goals

The termination plays a role in this division. It is also essential at which hierarchy level the goals are arranged. The strategic marketing goals are located at the management level and are rather long-term goals (achievable over several years). These are goals, such as increasing growth or sales.

The tactical marketing goals are pursued at the operational level to speak of functional or operational purposes. They should instead be reached in the short or medium-term and are therefore subordinate to the strategic goals. For example, to achieve the strategic goal of increasing sales, the tactical marketing goal can be to raise awareness.

Area related marketing goals

Marketing goals can also be formulated for each area or department. For example, a company’s sales can consider creating more offers and take the necessary measures. The online department may want to attract more unique visitors to the website and have the corresponding content created.

Define your own marketing goals for your company

The more precisely you work out the plan, the more intensively you can pursue your goals and measure the results of your measures. The following steps are useful for implementation:

  1. Perform actual analysis

This term also comes from project management and describes the starting point on which all considerations are based. Take a close look at your company and create an analysis. These questions help:

  • Where is my company currently?
  • What resources are available?
  • Which areas need to be expanded?
  • Where are (acute) problems?
  • Which measures have been successful/unsuccessful so far?
  • How do sales/profits/sales etc. develop?
  • How much do they differ from the target?

After this as-is survey, it should be reasonably clear where there is room for improvement and what needs to be done. Involve your employees to get the most precise possible picture of the current status. Also, your employees will certainly make some suggestions for implementation or improvement.

2. Specify quantitative goals

One of the targeted marketing goals will likely be to increase sales and profits. Perhaps even more customers should be won. This is, of course, not very tangible and must, therefore, be poured into concrete numbers.

In cooperation with the employees involved, you should set a precise and realistic target with a binding time frame (see also the SMART method mentioned above ). A simple “expand the customer base,” for example, becomes: “20 percent more existing customers by September 20XX”. If in doubt, it makes sense to set the desired vital data somewhat lower. Increasing the numbers after the first controlling is much more motivating than correcting them downwards.

3. Determine qualitative goals

Clarify with your employees or as a sole trader for yourself which qualitative goals can be used to achieve the quantitative goals formulated under point 2. Let’s stick to our example: To expand the customer base, it makes sense to rely on customer loyalty, since satisfied existing customers also bring new customers to your company through recommendations.

At the same time, it is advisable to include customer satisfaction and awareness, which is essential for founders in the plan. Even if the results of these goals are not so easy to measure, you should be as specific as possible when formulating them.

In practice, both quantitative and qualitative marketing goals will be a combination of multiple targets. Rarely is there a single specific goal.

4. Select marketing measures

Once the goals have been set, instruments must be put together with which it is likely that they can be achieved – the marketing mix must be defined. Like the corporate goals, the planned measures should be worked out as accurately as possible. This includes a precise schedule for the individual steps and a written record of who is responsible for which implementation.

For example, a service call can be introduced after a job has been completed to increase customer loyalty. The best way to instruct the employees entrusted with this is in writing how to conduct these discussions and how to respond to customer complaints.

5. Define controlling

The best goals and measures only remain approximate if you don’t control their results. You should, therefore, determine immediately after the package of rules with which control instruments and when a review should be carried out. Determine in advance which numbers need to be corrected. This avoids misunderstandings when interpreting the data and enables a faster reaction.

6. Commit employee

The employees who are already involved in the decision making are already in the picture. Now it is a matter of informing all employees about the planned measures and highlighting their importance. Everyone has to pull together. Corresponding employee motivation works more than any horror scenario that could occur in the event of a failure. Make your employees accomplices of a common cause.

7. Carry out a check

The first controlling should take place at the specified time. If everything moves within the desired framework, the selected measures can continue according to plan. If the results are weaker than expected, improvements must be made. If they are significantly above expectations, the quantitative targets should be revised and, if necessary, adapted to the new situation.

Featured

Creative advertising ideas: hidden champions for your marketing

Printed advertising media are available in all shapes, sizes, and for every occasion. Used differently than usual, classic printed products and popular promotional items unfold their potential as creative advertising ideas. Get inspired and discover new applications for your marketing.

Good advertising stands out, arouses emotions, sticks in your memory, and, in the best case, encourages you to buy. So much for the theory. In practice, however, there are some disruptive factors. The constant overstimulation and the advertising of other (competing) companies can cause distraction. To stand out from the crowd, you have to do some things differently than the others. Creative advertising ideas with that specific something are in demand.

We took a look around in the color printing and advertising world. There are many underestimated advertising materials or giveaways from a different perspective that can attract the attention of your target groups. To inspire your marketing, we examined our print products about secondary, further, and third-party recycling. So much can be said: Some classics have the potential for creative advertising ideas. Let our “hidden champions inspire yourself”.

Creative advertising ideas for classics

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to become an eye-catcher: a fancy motif, an unusual location, or a picture that breaks with our viewing habits can be enough. Simply reinterpret traditional advertising media such as posters or business cards: Use uncommon formats, unique materials, or merely other printed products than usual to put your advertising messages in the limelight.

Posters as advertising playgrounds

The oldest form of outdoor advertising still plays an important role today. Despite all the animated and multimedia light boards, the printed poster holds its own in the public eye because it offers a lot of space for creative experiments. Whether as wrapping paper or as a guide, for a competition or a design competition, posters can be used in a variety of ways and can be created and printed quickly and cheaply.

Classics never go out of style. Posters can be used in many ways: to attract customers, to inform them, or to encourage them to take pictures.

Design funny posters in front of which your customers can take selfies and share them with their friends. This will keep customers in business and provide entertainment. Link your marketing activities and use analog posters for digital competition. For example, for example: According to the motto, “The most beautiful photo in front of our posters that is shared on Instagram with the hashtag XYZ wins!”.

Floor sticker for the aha effect

They are often pioneering in the most real sense of the word: floor stickers are commonly used as directional arrows to direct customer flows to where you want them. Place your advertising on the way to your shop or leave mysterious messages or footprints to spark customers’ curiosity and prospects for your offer. There – and go – they stand on it. Have you ever thought about using floor stickers? We have put together a few creative floor sticker advertising ideas for inspiration:

Classically used as a signpost

With directional arrows, the stickers traditionally show the way to an event or trade fair event. Guests gratefully accept this as support. If you want to lure spontaneous decisions, you should also put a short advertising message or invitation on the floor sticker, such as “Visit …”. Depending on the place of use and the surface, you can order the labels for indoor or outdoor use.

For promotions: the way is the goal

Stickers are generally prohibited in public spaces. The city administration can, however, grant exceptional permits for temporary actions. And you should apply for this if you want to attract the attention of your customers with (floor) stickers.

You can use rectangular floor stickers in the standard DIN formats. More striking and chic, however, are stickers in a more unusual shape. The directional arrows already mentioned, which point to the uniqueness of the offer, are simple but effective: “Only today” or “Be quick before everything is gone” “A cool refreshment is only a few steps away”.

A little more unusual is a single sticker that directs the customer’s line of sight. This is possible, for example, when opening a store: design a circle or target in a striking color that the customer should stand on. Use lettering such as “Please place here” or “Take a seat for the best view” to ask the customer to look at your business or your campaign. Show humor: If the passers-by do not position themselves right away, you can include additional information in smaller letters. It says something like “a little more to the left” or “a little more”. If the line of sight fits, the actual request is made with another sticker or poster: “Just go straight – and enjoy”.

Permanent advertising that sticks

If you want to refer to individual offers in a large shop or book advertising space in a shopping center, you can advertise on the floor for more extended periods. Customers’ needs can be addressed explicitly with questions or short statements: “How to save money” or “Relaxed today?”. The reference should be apparent, either through direction indicators or stickers placed immediately in front of the offer.

There is even more: Instead of text messages, use meaningful pictures or graphics – this will attract attention. They are original when they break with viewing habits, offer particularly unusual motifs, or provoke in any way. A 3D effect makes image advertising on the floor spectacular. The phenomenon we know from street painting lets us stumble across a picture. A supposedly high pile of books draws attention to a small shop in the part of the shopping center with less walking crowd. A sticker designed as a gaping hole in the tiles almost made us fall and thus noticed the insurance office opposite.

Whether floor or wall, advertising is particularly useful when it offers interaction. This can be done directly through a request or indirectly causes a sensation, such as with Frontline advertising: With a large advertising motif of a scratching dog, Saatchi & Saatchi in 2009 brought the parasite protection agent to life in a unique way. They chose a heavily frequented place and brought the motif to life through busy passers-by who acted as oversized insects from above.

More than privacy protection: creative advertising ideas on fence banners etc.

Fence banners and tarpaulins cover unsightly construction sites and busy conversions. They offer a lot of advertising space. If the tarp only says, “This is where you are going to …”, the potential is being wasted. Make the areas entertaining – for example, with beautiful pictures, funny sayings, or more detailed information about the building.

For example, use large-scale motifs that advertise your offer. You can also stand out from the crowd with minimalist designs. With the many images that invariably affect us, this is what sets it apart from the surroundings. Awaken the curiosity of passers-by with a brief question or statement. An isolated, large “What is being built here?” In the middle of the cloth encourages us to come closer so that we can read the much smaller printed answer in the bottom right corner. The selection of the font (s) is particularly important.

Time for a selfie

Or how about a creative selfie wall that encourages passers-by to join in? Again, you can bridge the gap between offline and online measures. For example, there could be an action that calls for images to be posted online with a specific hashtag at the topping-out ceremony. A contest connected with this increases the willingness to participate and, at the same time, ensures a social component.

Fence banners or the most entertaining privacy screen in the world? You are responsible for the design of your fence banners; But what is there against consciously pointing out, informing, and entertaining passers-by to the construction site? In this way, you can ideally combine offline and online advertising measures.

Banners in city centers or frequently visited locations need nothing more than an original motif or lettering. This can simply be the sentence “We are Berlin”, under which you group yourself into a photo. There are also funny placeholders for people, who are then referred to by various names such as “princess” or “hero of work”. Think about what is currently up to date with your target group. And don’t forget the company logo. It should be placed so that it is visible in the photo and, if possible, not covered by the selfie posers.

Exceptionally unusual: advertising media with additional benefits

Some printed products contain a lot more than you can see at first glance. With a little misuse and imagination for secondary use, customers are offered additional advertising benefits. There’s more to stickers, coasters, and door hangers than you might think at first glance. Even business cards can exchange contact more. Great variants such as multiloft and letterpress business cards also make a kind invitation and entry cards are ideal “save-the-date” cards, gift tags, or accompanying cards for a taste.

Fancy advertising with stickers

The self-adhesive advertising media are viral – provided the motif is right. Decorate stickers with fresh designs and funny sayings, often clearly visible, folders, booklets, and bags. Stickers with funny sayings and reference to the product make an excellent addition to mailings. But that’s not all:

Collect and stick

Stickers are an excellent collector’s item, as the Panini booklets have proven for decades. There doesn’t have to be an album for it, but it should be an incentive to collect. Different motifs are conceivable that together form an image, or words that can be combined into a saying. Of course, self-adhesive loyalty points are also possible. Since these are already available in umpteen versions, an original design would be beautiful, for example, an image in which the individual stickers have to be fitted.

A new trend? Laptops with funny stickers can always be found in many advertising agencies and start-ups.

Even more creative advertising ideas with stickers

In the appropriate format, a sticker can also be sent as a postcard, which means mutual upgrading. The label has an impressive size; the letter becomes more valuable due to its additional benefits. It also looks great as an invitation or admission ticket. A self-adhesive admission ticket is both useful and practical. It sticks to the lapel by itself and ideally still looks good. You can achieve a more extended stay on a briefcase or bag if you make a kind of discount voucher from the sticker, counted towards the admission price each time.

Since everyone likes to win something, stickers that also act as luckless are extremely popular. This can also be combined with a campaign in which the sticker lot has to be stuck on and photographed. Some radiostations have already done this to identify your listeners and delight them with a win.

End consumer-oriented

Address labels are also available in the B2C area. In addition to an order, the customer receives branded stickers with his address. He can stick them on letters or use them to label water bottles and other items in the office. Also practical: medical or physiotherapy practices can issue stickers to their patients as appointment slips. So the note is not somewhere where it is difficult to find, but always sticks where it should be: on the refrigerator door, on the notepad, in the wallet, or on the tablet box. For this purpose, the stickers should be printed on writable paper, for example, offset paper.

Window stickers attract a lot of attention if they are stuck on, preferably in the office. First, they should look good, and second, they should fit the product or company. For example, a tour operator could advertise with the image of a luxury resort, along with the saying: “This is how the view from your window could soon look”.

Marketing ideas for beer coasters

The small cardboard coasters should not be missing in any pub, but sometimes they do well outside of the catering trade. So far, however, breweries or beverage manufacturers have mainly used their advertising potential. Many others miss something! Because beermats can also be used for advertising in other companies and industries – guaranteed to attract attention.

The small cardboard coasters not only look good in the catering trade – but beer mats with cool designs also tempt you to play or arouse the urge to collect.

For information, as a postcard, or for customer loyalty.

Thanks to their small size, the coasters are also suitable as flyers or to be taken along with a beverage crate. Since wine and non-alcoholic drinks can also be placed on the coasters, non-beer drinkers also become aware of the beverage manufacturer. The beer mat gets even more attention in correspondence when it is sent solo as a postcard. So it is particularly suitable as an invitation to social gatherings.

Beer mat remains a beer mat.

Of course, you can also make an impression at events with beer coasters. Who acts as host, be it at a trade fair or an event, can design beer coasters with the fair trade motto, a clear advertising message, or a funny saying, especially for this purpose. If a particularly original lid succeeds, the likelihood that guests will take it home with them increases. If coasters are used regularly for advertising, it is worth designing new designs more often to appeal to customers’ collective drive. Numbered motifs, which, for example, only form a broad picture when put together, or various limited editions that are published at different times, attract even more attention.

Tip: How about individual beer coasters for autumn, Father’s Day, International Women’s Day, or a limited edition for the Oktoberfest? Use current occasions to attract attention with the beer mat designs. You can also score points for the next soccer World Cup or European Championship with matching beer coasters from all teams – give them away in a set together with a large poster to your customers. Printed on both sides, the coasters represent a country and your brand.

Win with beer coasters

Beer coasters can also be the focus of a competition or design competition. Simply have a few beer coasters printed with a number code or a motif that wins. Not every day, but that’s why it’s good to attract attention: a design competition with beermats. The winner’s proposal will be awarded a prize and be included as a draft in an upcoming advertising campaign. Such a competition is also entertaining as an accompaniment to an event.

Beer coasters have a lot of potentials, whether as an unusual postcard format or to entertain your guests.

Tempting to play: coasters not only protect tables from unsightly watermarks, they can also be used for entertainment. The coasters can increase the gaming factor of an event: With appropriate designs, you can use them to win four, play memory, or start a competition to build the tallest / fastest beer coaster house.

Creative advertising ideas for door hangers

Classically, these signs hang on the hotel room doors. The red side says “Please do not disturb!”, The green “Please clean up the room”. This is useful, but individual hotels or chains stand out from the crowd if they become a little more creative here: pictograms, pictures or sayings bring variety and make the guests smile.

Even in his capacity as a door hanger, he doesn’t have to be limited to the hotel and restaurant industry. As a giveaway for business partners, for example, sayings like “Please do not disturb!” Boss has to think”. If there is a lot of public traffic, the trailers also do well in their own company. Visitors will then see signs such as “This is where the XY team is working on new solutions”.

Even more options

The tags, which can be printed on both sides, can also be converted into a flyer for a mailing and sent as an info post or invitation to customers and interested parties—a nice reference to the actual use of the sign. A sentence starts like “So that you can finally be undisturbed …” is enough. The signs also make cute bookmarks: unusually large, but functional. When the hour of leisure finally comes, the flag can be hung on the doorknob for its original purpose to browse undisturbed.

If the customer receives a fine red wine as a gift, the gift gets the right whistle with a funny bottle tag. Here too, as with bookmarks, the actual purpose can be incorporated as a door sign. For example, with “Do not disturb, taste buds to unfold! I enjoy the XY Bordeaux.”

Be creative: less elegant, but sometimes very helpful: the back scraper. Yes, a sturdy door hanger (300 to 400 g / m² thick paper) can also be used. Anyone who often sits alone in the office for a long time knows about the beneficial effects.

Unusual advertising with table stands

The cardboard displays offer advertising at eye level: on the counter, on the shelf, at the table. They are used particularly frequently in the catering trade, but also prove themselves in shops and have potential as creative advertising ideas. But there is more:

Original as a card or packaging

The displays can be included in a mailing as a kind of pop-up card. When opening, you motivate with funny office sayings or crisp motifs. Prism, as well as square and hexagonal stands, are particularly suitable as packaging for T-shirts or some other malleable giveaway. So that the case gets its value, it should be as original as possible and complement the gift.

Use table displays differently: a printed T-shirt, a pop-up invitation card or funny packaging, a printed T-shirt

Versatile – with a few simple steps

At events with fixed seating, smaller displays are eye-catching place cards, which attractively tempt you to take them with you, and may also offer an additional benefit: In summer, which is increasingly coming up with hotter days, a table display is used as a fan. To do this, depending on the type of display, it must either be folded up or unfolded. Point out this practical aspect with brief instructions. Or how about a second use as a flag at a sporting event? Simply convert the table displays from the champagne reception and cheer on your favorite team.

Wherever children spend a long time or are waiting for adults, be it in a restaurant, doctor’s office, or a shop, the table display can become a craft sheet. With areas for coloring, a work of art is created that the little ones – discreetly branded – are happy to take home with them.

New life for underestimated giveaways

At trade fairs, they are coveted objects by B2C and B2B customers who love to collect. Despite the mass of giveaways from the competition, well-made giveaways are useful. The following promotional items could also be classified in the category “simple, often underestimated but effective”:

  • Sticky notes
  • Notebooks
  • Glasses wipes
  • Mini display cleaner
  • bottle opener
  • Lanyards

Everyone can use sticky notes, so they are a very welcome giveaway. Blocks or booklets with self-adhesive markers offer plenty of space for a funny self-presentation and are often placed on the desk. It is similar to notebooks – they always attract attention in the field of vision. A practical elastic band closure stimulates the play instinct because it is so easy to snap. If you want to take advantage of this, organize a small competition to shoot gummy bears or the like at the event. The creative advertising idea is so quick!

You decide which promotional items will have your stamp or logo printed on them. It is exceptional to stand out from the crowd. Your brand should always be visible

Clear vision is not only popular with people who wear glasses: branded glasses wipes are a useful accessory and can also be used for sunglasses and all displays. For mobile phones, in turn, there are special mini-display cleaners that can simply be stuck to the back of the smartphone. So you don’t get lost and are always at hand. This also applies to bottle openers that are used as key rings or bottle opener buttons. With a funny saying and magnets, they “stick” to the fridge and keep important notes.

 

Featured

Digitization in fast motion: In the USA, the pandemic is changing some industries forever

New Hollywood films are launched in the living room instead of in the cinema. Many Americans now visit the doctor via the iPad, and former home office opponents like Facebook are opening up for homework.

Netflix’s business model, which relies entirely on subscription fees, pays off in the corona crisis.

More and more communities in the United States are loosening the rules after about two months of statehouse arrest. But the reality in which citizens are now returning has changed massively in the weeks of house arrest. In several industries, the pandemic has accelerated digitalization like a time-lapse. 

Acceptance of home office

Facebook of all people in Silicon Valley was previously known for the fact that employees were not allowed to work from home, and colleagues had to travel overseas for meetings. A few days ago, Facebook and Google announced that the employees could work in the home office until the end of the year. Twitter went one step further: its 5100 employees can now work permanently from home or in a café, a mountain chalet, or wherever they want. Only those who want to or who are forced to do so for professional reasons can return to the office in September. By 2021, however, all personal meetings would have been canceled anyway, said the head of HR. “Reopening the offices is our decision, when and if our employees come back is up to them.” Each employee was given $ 1,000 for office equipment.

“My opinion of the home office has changed completely in the past two months,” tweeted the head of the real estate platform Zillow, Rich Barton. Before the pandemic, just 2% of the company’s 5000 employees worked permanently at home. Now Zillow has extended the possibility of working from home for the entire workforce until the end of the year. “I expect that this will have a long-lasting impact on the work of the future – and the home.”

Also, for cost reasons, “work from home” – or as the slang is said: WFH – is likely to develop into a broader trend. In a recent survey conducted by market research firm Gartner among chief financial officers in the United States, three out of four said that at least part of their workforce would continue to work from home. One in four even noted that an additional 10 percent of the workforce would be working from home if they hadn’t done it before. “The data shows the lasting impact that the coronavirus crisis will have on the way companies work,” said Alexander Brant von Gartner. “The CFO sees an opportunity here to realize savings through a remote workforce.”

Digitization of work

Millions of workers have had to learn what Zoom, Slack, or teams are all about in recent weeks. Because of the corona crisis and the forced homework have digitized more and more work processes. This benefits smaller companies, such as the video conferencing software provider of the same name Zoom, whose share price has increased by 150% since January, and by Docu Sign, a company based in San Francisco for digitally signing documents. The Slack communication platform has also grown to the extent that the co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield recently described as “pretty incredible.” Throughout the last quarter of 2019, the company had gained around 5,000 new customers, and this spring, it was a proud 7,000 within six weeks. It currently feels like this, said Butterfield.

On the other hand, the technology groups also got a tailwind: Microsoft reported in mid-March that the demand for its collaboration program, teams, had grown by more than a third within a week to 44 million users a day. Crews are on the phone for 900 million minutes every day. “We believe that this sudden, global shift to homework is a turning point in the way we work and learn,” wrote Jared Spataro, responsible for the Microsoft 365 software package. Google reports something similar: its video conference program Meet was used 25 times more in March than in January, and the software Classroom also seems to have been created for the crisis.

The pandemic had served as a technological leveler, Nadja Yousif of the Boston Consulting Group in London told CNBC: “People were more patient learning and trying out new technologies simply because they had to be. We all develop new skills in practical work. » The communication channels are also likely to change in the long term if not all of them work together in one office, says Yousif: video conferences would increasingly replace meetings, more would be communicated via email and chat services such as Slack. Ironically, this technological change could also affect Silicon Valley, wrote Margaret O’Mara, a fellow at the Silicon Valley think-tank joint venture,  in an analysis. Technology developed in the valley could allow more companies to realize that their employees no longer had to be located there.

The power struggle between Hollywood and cinemas escalates.

Even before the corona pandemic, cinemas had a hard time attracting guests. With 3D or even 4-D films, karaoke performances, or disguise evenings, many operators tried to make the film experience and lure people from the couch to the cinema. The success was moderate; on average, one American went to the cinema four times a year. From the big Hollywood studios, the business with cinemas is anyway less profitable than the rental through digital platforms. With cinema operators, the studios have to share the sales in half, with platforms like Amazon Prime or Apple TV they can keep 80% of the sales.

However, all attempts to wrest the exclusive film rights from the cinemas have failed in recent years. Until the corona crisis came: For the first time in April, a large Hollywood studio did not launch a film in the cinema as planned but switched to digital platforms at short notice due to the pandemic. Viewers were able to watch the Trolls World Tour universal studio production at home for $ 20 for 48 hours. The offer hit like a bomb: Within three weeks, Universal Studios earned $ 100 million with the animated children’s film, more than it had made in five years with the first «Trolls» film in five months in cinemas.

Inspired by this success, Universal Studios recently announced that it would continue to experiment with such digital releases after the pandemic ended. This is further bad news for cinema operators, who are already in a deep crisis due to the corona pandemic. The world’s largest cinema operator, AMC, has had to send all employees, including the CEO, on forced leave in the past few weeks. AMC now threatens to stop showing universal productions if it does not get the exclusive film rights again.

The coming months will show how the power struggle continues. But the crisis has shown that consumers are quite willing to pay as much money for films on their home screens as they do for a cinema ticket.

Netflix wages in “streaming war.”

For a long time, Netflix founder Reed Hastings was criticized for not showing any ads on his streaming platform. Given the growing digital advertising market, it seemed like a lost source of income. When Netflix increased its subscription prices last year, some observers predicted the beginning of the decline of the world’s largest streaming platform.

But in the Corona crisis, Netflix’s business model, which relies entirely on subscription fees, pays off: the currently slumping advertising market is not affecting the streaming service at all. But the demand from viewers has exploded: Around 16 million people subscribed to Netflix in the first quarter; the company itself had expected 7 million new subscribers. A total of almost 183 million viewers worldwide now pay for the streaming service. Netflix’s last quarter earnings of $ 709 million are more than double that of the previous year, and the stock has risen 50% since January.

But Netflix believes that the wave of success will subside as soon as citizens have more leisure options than permanent television. He expects the number of viewers to decrease, said Hastings recently when presenting the quarterly figures. 

However, a recent Morning Consult poll found 80% of respondents said they would use their Netflix subscription at least as much, if not more, once the crisis is over. This value was only slightly lower for the competitors Disney + and Amazon Prime. The streaming platforms have grown very dear to viewers in recent weeks.

The streaming business is booming even in the crisis.

Telemedicine

The possibility of medical care via telephone or video calls has been around for decades. Still, the corona crisis has given the offer enormous tailwind, as several hospitals and telemedicine providers report. The decisive factor was probably that health insurers had adjusted the rates for virtual consultations to those of regular visits. They also include the major state insurers Medicare and Medicaid, for the elderly and the needy, which covers a third of Americans. Many insurers previously paid less than half, doctors report. The federal government in Washington has, for the first time, allowed medical professionals to treat patients via telemedicine in member states in which they are not licensed. 

Ohio and Florida-based Cleveland Clinic hospitalized 60,000 virtual patient visits in March, down from an average of 3,400 previously, reports Kaiser Health News, a health-related news service. Similar reports are published by several platforms that arrange video consultations between doctors and patients: The Virginia-based CareClix platform reported a 50 percent increase in March, as did the New York-based provider Teladoc. Other companies, such as Zipnosis from Minneapolis, dispense with direct contacts between doctors and patients. Instead, the patient fills out a questionnaire that the doctor evaluates and then makes a diagnosis based on. In an emergency, the patient is advised to go to a clinic.

The high demand for telemedicine can be explained firstly by telemedicine’s symptoms of Covid-19 can be determined relatively easily by telemedicine, including a characteristic cough. Insurers and doctors had asked the population to resort to telemedicine for milder symptoms. Secondly, many patients with different complaints were afraid of being infected with coronavirus when they went to the hospital. Virtual appointments with psychotherapists are also in higher demand. 

In a McKinsey & Company survey conducted in early May, 13% of respondents said they had used telemedicine for the first time or more since the outbreak of the corona crisis. The consulting firm writes that the number of users for physical complaints has increased by 178% and for mental illnesses by 125%. In the long term, this development is likely to benefit mainly rural regions in America, where there is often a lack of specialists.

Featured

Emotional marketing for strong brands

Feelings are involved not only with a romantic rendezvous but also with every purchase decision. Brands use this to their advantage – in emotional marketing. We explain what the marketing method is and how you can successfully use emotions in your advertising.

Joy, anger, sadness, surprise, pride – emotions are intense, reliable and hard to hold back. Or have you ever seen a wedding proposal in which the person in question remained completely emotionless? Admittedly, an extreme example. But it is precisely these spontaneous reactions that get under the skin that companies use in advertising. This is summarized under the term “emotional marketing”, which gives every campaign the decisive pep.

In this context, “decisive” is really to be understood in the most real sense of the word, because in the case of purchases and orders in both the B2C and B2B sectors, emotional impressions tend to tip the scales. Especially with almost interchangeable offers in competitive markets, the decision is made in favour of the provider that you remember (from advertising) and with whom you “feel most comfortable”, with whom “you have a good feeling”.

How does emotional marketing work?

Emotions are psychophysiological reactions that are triggered by an event or situation. They are accompanied by a noticeable physical change, for example of muscles, heartbeat or breathing. In a strict sense, emotions are, therefore, not the same as feelings. The latter occurs less in effect, but include a wide variety of psychological experiences.

  • Emotions: interest, disgust, love, envy, disappointment, joy, pride, etc.
  • Feelings: jealousy, insecurity, enthusiasm, melancholy, etc.

However, the terms are often equated. And in marketing, too, there is no clear distinction between emotions and feelings.

Emotions influence the decision to buy

Buying decisions are made with both halves of the brain. For his publication Descartes’ Error (review on Psychology Today), the American neuroscientist Antonio Damasio examined that the emotional component plays absolutely no subordinate role. For this purpose, he carried out a study with people whose connections between the left and right brain were broken.

The study participants were able to process the available information rationally but were not able to choose between different alternatives. To make a choice, you have to be able to find out how you think about the individual options or how you feel about them. The activity of the corresponding brain regions can be measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

About decision-making, emotional marketing comprises two aspects: First, it is about the customer rationally realizing that he needs a particular product. The research initially relates to information. When making the final purchase decision; however, feelings and emotions prevail (often unconsciously). In the B2C area, it may also be the case that the consumer does not need anything in principle, but develops a desire to buy through smart, emotional marketing.

Additional studies, called Psychology Today, have demonstrated that.

  • Feelings in the form of personal experiences come into play when evaluating brands and not the product-related facts.
  • The consumer’s emotional response to an advertisement has a far more significant impact on their intent to purchase than the content of the ad.
  • The sympathy for a particular brand, the best indicator is the extent to which advertising is to increase sales.
  • Positive emotions towards a brand have a more significant impact on customer loyalty than trust and judgments from others.

The more emotional the bond with a brand is, the more loyal the customer will be to it. So it’s worth investing in emotional marketing.

Emotional marketing in practice

The purpose of emotional marketing is to combine positive feelings with the brand message. The product is therefore not explained in terms of its technical properties, but rather in terms of customer benefit, which in turn evokes (hopefully pleasant) feelings among users. It is precisely these emotions that potential customers must feel immediately.

We have known this well enough from classic advertising, for example on television, from clean men shining into the camera, cheering children and sighing homemakers with a sigh of satisfaction. What was used quite strikingly in the 1970s often works a little differently Today? The desired feelings are awakened but more subtly than before.

Determine the target group

As in all other marketing areas, the target group should be narrowed down first. The better you know them, the more precisely emotional marketing can be tailored. Find out what makes your target group tick, what needs, what desires, what fears it has. The age structure and interests are also essential to find functioning starting points.

Find the right emotions.

Happiness, joy, enthusiasm – these are the feelings that advertisers want to trigger among the clientele. However, it is not enough to simply present these positive emotions. As we know from Antonio Damasio’s study, among other things, buying decisions mature through a perfect interaction of the different brain areas.

This means that the rational components must also be right, first of all, the quality of the product. Then it’s about finding emotions that match the product and brand being offered. For example, a married couple shaking with excitement doesn’t seem particularly credible when it comes to the next tax return. If a service provider offers help here, there is a feeling of relief.

Depending on the offer, negative emotions can also be linked to the product or service of the target group. For example, if a security service advertises particularly efficient burglary protection, emotions such as fear and discomfort are also present. The art is to convey a feeling of security that outweighs negative emotions.

The task of marketing is to find a credible situation and suitable emotions that help to describe the offer. Customers should find themselves in the case with their wishes and needs. When it comes to problem-solving products, there must be a solution with positive emotion that remains permanently connected to the brand.

Colour psychology in emotional marketing

Specific colours trigger individual associations and thus certain feelings. Although the taste of each customer is very different, there are particular properties of the colours that are supposed to have a relatively uniform effect on the psyche while blue is associated with calm and reason, among other things, red stands for passion and danger.

Knowledge of colour psychology can be used excellently in emotional marketing and should be taken into account, for example, when choosing an image background or the colour for the logo. For international campaigns, it is essential to know that colours may have different meanings in different cultures. And then, of course, there is always a personal aversion to specific colours.

Let pictures speak

Our brain takes pictures much faster than written or spoken words. And not only that: they are also stored much better and linked to the permanent information. If the first few seconds are decisive, an eye-catching image is indispensable – just as little as for the marketing message to have a lasting effect.

The images must also arouse the desired emotions among consumers and should be as authentic as possible. This means that your photos are best suited instead of images from image databases, which may also be found in the competition.

Search for starting points

Emotional marketing works particularly well if you build on what is already known. Positive memories come into question. The advertising often appeals to a happy childhood, which revives it briefly in advertisements and spots. Or the first big love, the first purchase with self-earned money etc. The awakened nostalgia should be fulfilled with the help of the brand associated with it. In reality, this does not always work for the buyer, but it does create the feeling that it could be – and that is enough.

Another option in emotional branding is the use of significant events, movements and megatrends. It can be a soccer World Cup or the Olympic Games, or maybe a film that draws millions into the cinemas – everything that arouses emotions in us. Since the “Fridays for Future” demonstrations at the latest, many people have reacted sensitively to climate and environmental protection issues, especially if they still have a regional connection.

The same applies here: it must fit the brand and the message. If it is too evident that a trend should benefit in all circumstances, the next shit stream is usually not far.

Tell stories

With storytelling, the most boring technical backgrounds can be packed into exciting stories. Every customer starts their head cinema; images are created in the subconscious that can be used for emotional marketing.

Emotional conditioning

This term from behavioural research is often used in connection with emotional marketing. It describes the process of combining two different stimuli and subsequent effects. This means that a brand (neutral stimulus) is always presented in combination with a particular emotion (emotional stimulus). After successful conditioning, the consumer will always automatically associate the previously neutral brand with the same feeling.

The link between the brand and the desired emotion can, as already mentioned, be brought about by appropriate images. Another possibility is direct verbatim statements. The best example: McDonald’s with its claim “I love it!” Visiting the fast-food chain means having a good time together (former claim: “Every time a good time”). Positive emotions are awakened through advertising and applications, which are then linked to the visit – and ultimately also to the McDonald’s brand.

Podcast

Featured

Cooperation marketing – opportunities for small businesses

If you want to survive in business competition, you have to look for allies in the long run. You can get this through cooperation marketing, which also offers small and medium-sized companies a lot of opportunities.

Having a brilliant business idea and getting it ready for the market is one thing. To win customers for this is quite another. And even if you have successfully placed your company, you can’t sit back and relax. Digitization, leaps and bounds in consumer behaviour and growing price sensitivity are forcing the most considerable flexibility that small companies can rarely afford on their own in the rarest of cases. If you want to be well-positioned for the future, you should think about cooperation marketing.

Cooperation marketing: focus on the target group.

The target group is the linchpin for future marketing cooperation. It has to be definedreachedconvinced and repeatedly wooed.

The most important prerequisite is, therefore, to know your customers and their needs. This is not as natural as it sounds. Young companies, in particular, often take their target group too far, so that they do not address them precisely. This is where an intensive target group analysis is helpful, to which you may need to consult a marketing expert.

The target group leads to possible cooperation partners. Because they should have access to the desired clientele or at least part of it, of course, the potential partner must not be a direct competitor but instead must offer something that complements their performance. If this is the case, the desired triple-win situation or win-win-win situation has been achieved. All three parties benefit the customer and cooperation partners one and two.

The target group should be limited as precisely as possible for cooperation marketing measures.

Brand cooperation goals

What do I want to achieve with cooperation? Advancing your own company with outside support and using synergy effects, in general terms. In practice, of course, concrete goals are required that can be plannedimplemented, and the results measured, including:

  • Increase awareness
  • Strengthen your image
  • Maximize sales
  • gain new clients
  • Increase range
  • open up new sales channels and sales markets
  • Improve customer loyalty
  • Save costs
  • Expand offer
  • Add know-how

Most respondents clearly emphasize expanding the sales market. The points of competitiveness and knowledge are likely to become more critical in the future. This is suggested by at least one study by the digital association Bitkom :

Digitization as a cooperation project

“Four out of five companies cooperate with other companies to drive digitization,” is the conclusion of the Bitkom study. The motives behind it:

  • Knowledge transfer to your own company (48 percent)
  • Cost reduction (45 percent)
  • new markets (27 percent)
  • new customer groups (21 percent)
  • Develop new products or services (20 percent)
  • Pooling forces in the competition (18 per cent)

To a large extent, however, the cooperation only consists of outsourcing specific tasks for cost reasons. Bitkom general manager Bernhard Rohleder calls for “real cooperation” for the future so that the digital transformation in Germany succeeds. Cooperation “between global players, medium-sized companies and startups” is also essential.

However, one form of cooperation that has only become possible through digitization is already working well: reciprocal links to achieve a better ranking for your website.

Forms of cooperation marketing

Sponsoring is a particularly striking marketing cooperation

Cooperation marketing has many faces. There are rather striking models such as co-branding and sponsoring that catch the eye of many laypersons.

There are also more subtle forms that are hardly noticed by the public. The boundaries between individual measures cannot always be drawn. Many intersections can be beneficial in a cooperation marketing mix.

  • Affiliate Marketing: The affiliate partners advertise products and services of an e-commerce provider on their websites. If the link leads to a business transaction, a commission flows. The big advantage for small business owners: no financial risk.
  • Barter Deal: Barter (the short form) denotes a counter transaction in which no money flows, but services are exchanged.
  • Co-advertising: Two or more brands come together in a joint promotion, in which all are perceived individually.
  • Co-branding: At least two brands form a new product, but are still recognizable as independent brands.
  • Co-Events: The partners organize and finance an event for the joint target group.
  • Co-marketing: The partners bundle their marketing measures for a product or service to reduce costs. The advertised product can be a form of co-branding.
  • Co-promotions: At least two brands work together on this particular advertising measure. These can be information stands, competitions or the distribution of samples, for example.
  • Cross-selling (sales cooperation): The companies use the sales channels of the cooperation partner to reach new target groups.
  • C (S) R cooperation: The abbreviation stands for Corporate Social Responsibility, whereby the S for Social tends to be left out. The companies are involved in various areas such as childcare and the environment, which in turn can be achieved through different forms of cooperation.
  • Ingredient branding: The component of a product is made visible as a separate brand on the product and the packaging. Closely related to co-branding.
  • Licenses: The licensee receives the right to use the trademark (s) of the licensor for a fee.
Local branding limits cooperation marketing in one place.

Local branding: Suitable for companies whose marketing partners are mainly located in the same place. Based on the concept of regionality, however, local branding is not a separate form of cooperation, but somewhat limits the selected ways such as co-events and co-advertising to the local environment.

Media cooperation: A company cooperates with selected media. For example, collaboration can be such that the company provides information and receives editorial reporting.

Product placement: Better known as “product placement”, it is about placing products as elegantly as possible in the media, mainly films. Most significant risk: suspected surreptitious advertising.

Sponsoring: The company supports athletes, clubs or events financially and is named as a sponsor and receives advertising space.

Testimonial cooperation/influencer marketing: celebrities, influencers or bloggers advertise a product or service.

Which forms of cooperation are best suited depends on the objectives and groups as well as the requirements and financial opportunities of the companies involved? According to the marketing agency Connecting Brands, the most frequently implemented measure or form of cooperation marketing in Germany is co-promotion.

Find suitable cooperation partners.

Many companies get to a cooperation partner without really looking for one. A chance encounter triggers a conversation that ends in cooperation. That can work. However, a previous analysis and a targeted search for a suitable partner promise more success.

Own network

The best prospects are cooperation with a partner you already know. That is why your own business and private network is the first choice when searching. Not only are people with whom you deal every day, but also more extensive or less frequent contacts.

Customer database

In this regard, your customer database can also be a real gold mine, especially if employees with direct contact keep feeding them additional information. In this way, it is not only possible to filter which of the business customers offers which products and services, but also which one is already entering into cooperations or is thinking about a new collaboration.

Online

This is the method with the lowest inhibition threshold and the least effort if you do not yet know a potential cooperation partner. On the Internet, where a large part of the young companies are already at home, you can take a sneak peek and make contact.

Social media

Business partners have also found each other on Facebook. However, the first choice is business portals such as Xing or LinkedIn, where you can get the right contact person for the chosen company.

Contact exchanges

A more targeted search is possible via various contact exchanges, such as from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK)perspective SMEs and Biz Trade. This can also be used to search for successors, financing, licenses and company investments. There are more specific portals for individual sectors and regions, such as the city ​​of Munich’s cooperation platform

If you are looking for a suitable cooperation partner, it is worth considering all possible ways.

Chambers

If you like to get an overview of the various companies in a particular region yourself, you can search through the relevant registers of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Chambers of Crafts online. The stored company profiles reveal who is a potential cooperation partner.

Real-life networking

Networking events are offered in all major cities and can be found via city portals or Xing. You can also get opportunities to scan for partner suitability at industry meetings, congresses and trade fairs. The latter explicitly offer space for networking.

Influencing factors in cooperation marketing

The agency connecting brands also dealt with the factors in your study that are most promising for brand cooperation.

Partner choice

The choice of the right partner takes according to the study results, with 77 per cent of the main square one. The compatibility of the two companies must be checked carefully beforehand. It is not limited to the fact that products, services and objectives fit together. The sympathy bonus also plays a role. After all, one plans to work together over a more extended period.

Creative concepts

The creative cooperation concept follows in second place. It is not enough to bundle the activities. You need an approach that stands out from the crowd and offers customers real added value.

From marketing to management

This leads us almost directly to the desired win-win-win situation. However, the respondents rate the marketing of cooperation as more important than this. Because a campaign or campaign can be so good – it fizzles out silently if the target group does not notice it. Professional management is still classified with enormous influence.

Controlling

Controlling, which is treated somewhat neglected, is not directly responsible for the initial success of brand cooperation. Still, it does play an essential role in the course of the collaboration. Those responsible should continuously review the goals set so that they can be improved if necessary. In the event of adverse development, only the exit helps. This is noticed in good time by professional controlling so that no damage to the image occurs.

Cooperation marketing for small and medium-sized companies

Smaller and tiny companies, in particular, can benefit from cooperations, and in many cases are even dependent on them if they want to survive permanently. The idea is obvious to look for a cooperation partner from the “own league”. Often, especially in the context of digitization, it is necessary to look for partners who are much smaller or larger than your own company.

Companies of the same size

In some cases, it is advantageous if the cooperation partners have a similar number of employees and resources.

The three-person graphics office keeps getting inquiries as to whether it can also deliver texts. In cooperation with a small text agency, it can make a complete offer to customers. The writing partner can then offer his clientele an all-round carefree package with layout and illustration. In this way, both cooperation partners receive more orders, which, however, do not exceed their capacities.

According to Nils Pickenpack, pure marketing cooperation works best between larger companies that are at eye level. Here it makes the most sense for the process if the departments involved have similar capacities.

Startup and medium-sized companies

In the study series “Success Factors in Medium-Sized Enterprises “, Deloitte explicitly examined “Cooperations between Medium-Sized Enterprises and Startups “. The results of this study show that companies with between 50 and 3,000 employees and small companies with only a few employees are somewhat alien to one another. Still, there have already been many fruitful collaborations between these different cultural companies.

For small and medium-sized businesses and startups, cooperation can give just the right boost.

Different ideas

According to the study, both types of the company agree that cooperation in the areas of strategy, business model and innovation is necessary, but have different ideas. Medium-sized companies prefer a cooperation period of at least 36 months, whereas startups prefer one-off projects with an average duration of eight months.

Good chances of success

The Deloitte study mentions supplier relationshipsloose cooperation (for selected topics, which are usually not fixed in writing), pure project cooperation, and often longer-term and contractually regulated contractual partnership as promising cooperations for this partner constellation. Sometimes collaboration also leads to the creation of a joint venture or equity investment.

Practical example

Using the specific example of a medium-sized hardware company, the study shows what cooperation can look like in practice. As the hardware business is declining, the company is building a data centre. To be able to offer customers a broad portfolio of software services, the medium-sized company is cooperating with a startup for IT solutions that complement the offer.

Cooperation partner for large companies

Larger medium-sized companies have been working with corporations for a long time, for example, as classic suppliers for complex products such as machines or cars.

Even small startups are increasingly sought after as cooperation partners if they have products and services in their portfolio that corporations cannot offer. Some traditional business models no longer work with digitization. “Large companies are too sluggish to think out of the box,” explains Nils Pickenpack. For this reason, they cooperate with young startups, which in the following often leads to a takeover.

Startups often think “out of the box” and are, therefore, attractive cooperation partners for large companies that have often become sluggish.

Specifically, Nils Pickenpack mentions a car company as an example that secures entry into car-sharing or a specialized app via a startup. At Daimler, for example, this is done by participating in the mytaxi driver app.

Step by step to cooperation

Spontaneous collaborations can work, but in most cases, proper planning makes sense.

  • Assessment and analysis: To be able to enter into cooperation, I have to be clear about where my company is, what kind of collaboration it needs and what it can offer in return.
  • Objective: What do I want to achieve with cooperation? Do you want to open up new business areas for more new customers who bind existing customers better? Or a combination of several goals? The more precisely the goals are named, the greater the chances of success.
  • Looking for a partner : Once the first two points have been clarified, I can look for a suitable partner. The optimal candidate offers me what I need, is not a direct competitor and benefits from the offer that my company can make.
  • Establishing contact : The first contact is non-binding. If it becomes more concrete, it is necessary to get to know each other personally. In order to work well together, the employees involved not only have to harmonize professionally, they also have to be friendly. If my gut feeling speaks against it, it will be difficult with the cooperation.
  • Negotiations : At this point, the potential cooperation partners must deal openly with one another. Then the possibilities are explored. Skills, preferences, and capacities need to be on the table to pinpoint the framework for collaboration.
  • Fixation : For smaller cooperations or if I have known the partner for a long time, oral agreements may be sufficient. Otherwise, a written fixation makes sense. The common goals are defined in a concept. How should these be achieved? And who has to perform which services? How often do meetings take place? What should the controlling look like? This also includes regulations in the event of failure: How is unforeseen profit slumps, negative headlines of a partner dealt with? Who is liable and how? What happens if a partner has given false information or kept negative developments secret? When will the cooperation be terminated?
  • Success monitoring : Only a regular review can ensure that the goals set are also achieved. How this should be carried out should also be part of the written fixation.
Featured

Plandemic documentary: conspiracy theorists celebrate their new heroine

An alleged corona virus unveiling video is viewed millions of times on YouTube – and then deleted. The case shows how important the fight against the infodemic is. The social media platforms are therefore increasingly using fact checkers.

The corona pandemic is accompanied by a worrying “infodemic”: fake news and disinformation are booming, conspiracy theories are flourishing. This is currently shown in the example of the pseudo-documentary “Plandemic”. The film is scheduled to be released in summer but is already featured in a 26-minute video. This was also published on the video platform Youtube and has been viewed millions of times.

The protagonist Dr Judy Mikovits, a controversial American researcher who worked at the National Cancer Institute. In an interview with filmmaker Mikki Willis, the molecular biologist claims that leading US experts such as immunologist Anthony Fauci are covering up the truth about the new coronavirus to gain power and money. The pandemic is a conspiracy of people trying to benefit from vaccines. In addition to several unprovable claims, she also explains that vaccinations help people get Covid-19 because they weaken the immune system.

Furthermore, the short film assumes that protective masks spread the virus. However, since it can take up to 14 days for someone to show symptoms, masks are said to prevent droplet transmission. The interviewee thinks that the beaches should reopen quickly because people are protected by “healing microbes in saltwater”. The fact-checking portal Politifact has compiled the false and non-verifiable claims made in the document.

Offended pride because of a career break

Right at the beginning of the interview, Mikovits is staged as a victim whose career has been willfully destroyed. Specifically, this is a work from 2009. At that time, the researcher co-wrote a paper that put forward the theory that a retrovirus discovered in mice played an essential role in the development of chronic fatigue syndrome. Since several laboratory tests could not confirm the thesis, the investigation was withdrawn due to technical shortcomings.

After further controversy, Mikovits initially lost her job and was even briefly arrested after a house search. The failure of her academic career is still attributed to Fauci, the adviser to the US President, who is currently the most crucial expert in the corona crisis in America. The allegations go back decades: She claims that Fauci threatened her and benefited from her work on the HI virus. “The whole world is listening to him right now,” the interviewer stated in the video. “How do we know he is telling the truth?” He asks his counterpart. “What he says is pure propaganda,” replies Mikovits, who also claims that Fauci has been complicit in millions of deaths since 1984. 

In the course of the interview, the interviewee mentioned other names of well-known people who were part of a vast conspiracy. However, due to the one-sided perspective and the dramatized presentation, the audience quickly gets the impression that this is primarily about the offended pride of a woman who uses the current pandemic as an occasion to rehabilitate her burst career and her battered reputation. This assumption is confirmed by the fact that Mikovits recently published an Amazon bestseller book that deals with corruption in science.

Dr When asked by various media, Fauci said he had never worked with Judy Mikovits, and he dismissed the allegations.

QAnon, anti-vaccine and right-wing extremists celebrate their new heroine.

The original video, which generated at least eight million views on YouTube, has since been deleted from various significant platforms. However, this does not prevent conspiracy theorists from uploading a dozen copies of the video. They found a new “whistleblower” in Mikovits. The pseudo-scientific video is particularly well received by anti-vaccination groups, right-wing extremist news portals and the QAnon movement, which a secret government in the United States claims to have recognized behind all evil.

This “deep state theory” is also becoming increasingly popular in Europe. In Germany, conspiracy theorists like Ken Jebsen try to hijack the public debate with their crude theories. His fans are happy to describe the so-called “New World Order”, a profoundly anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. The narrative that Bill Gates benefits from a corona vaccine is also prevalent and is also mentioned in the Plandemic video.

Doctors use YouTube for debunking videos.

Doctors, doctors and scientists are currently doing educational work on YouTube. If you are looking for “Plandemic” on the platform, you will be shown fact-checking videos with attached links to trustworthy sources such as the WHO. Some of these reaction videos have already been viewed millions of times.

In the expert videos, Judy Mikovits’ claims are exposed as false or misleading, and the fake news and myths are contrasted with facts (so-called debunking). “I am shaken,” says Dr Zubin Damania in a video, “That Americans are so stupid to believe for a second what is said in the conspiracy video.” And another doctor named Dr Todd Grande says: “You always have to ask yourself whether there is evidence to support the claims and what sources are mentioned.”

46 per cent of all fake news comes from Youtube

According to a recent study by the scientific journal “BMJ”, YouTube has a massive problem with disinformation and fake news. According to this, more than a quarter of the most viewed videos on the platform show misleading content. There are a total of 62 million views worldwide. In contrast, videos from trustworthy sources are underrepresented during the current pandemic. The researchers are, therefore calling on health organizations to act even more aggressively against disinformation.

According to the research portal Correctiv.org, 46 per cent of all fake news originated on YouTube. From there, they are distributed on Facebook, Instagram and Co., where they achieve a high reach. Whatsapp is the most common distribution channel, explains the portal, which specializes in fact-checking. Corrective founder David Schraven told the NZZ that the messenger service Telegram was also very dangerous. It plays a growing role in the dissemination of fake news because unlike Whatsapp; you can set up more substantial groups and exchange information there.

Twitter and Facebook are cracking down.

Now that YouTube also wants to work more closely with fact-checkers in the USA, other platforms have also stepped up their measures. As announced by Twitter , tweets with content that experts have misleading or wrong that could harm people are to be deleted. Controversial information should therefore be provided with a reference to trustworthy sources. Leading politicians such as US President Donald Trump could also meet this regulation. “These labels apply to anyone who shares misleading information that meets the requirements of our guidelines,” a spokesman told DPA.

Facebook has already taken steps to curb the spread of disinformation. In April alone, the platform provided 50 million posts with false or dubious posts about the coronavirus with warnings. The measure shows success: In 95 per cent of the cases, users did not click the link when they saw the sign, according to Facebook. The basis for the information would have delivered 7500 items from fact-checkers. Also, 2.5 million posts were removed, which were about the sale of masks, disinfectants or Covid-19 tests.

Podcast

Featured

UX storytelling: Make the user journey a hero journey

Storytelling can be used not only to tell stories in marketing but also in UX design. Staging the visitor’s customer journey as a hero journey can increase the conversion rate. We show how to do it.

The heroes of each story involuntarily embark on great adventures, fight villains, overcome unpredictable problems, receive unexpected help, and finally return home: wiser, more experienced, and usually quite tired. For thousands of years, people have been telling stories and experiencing the adventures, sufferings, and moments of happiness of others. Stories touch us. They make us sad or happy, angry, or satisfied.

UX designers have now recognized the potential of storytelling for their work. They use storytelling as a tool to trigger emotions among users. Visiting the website is quite like a hero’s journey. Because just like Frodo, who has to destroy the ring in “Lord of the Rings,” or how Arielle, the little mermaid, is pursuing her goal of living as a human being, every website user has a mission: if only a theater ticket to buy, to book a train ticket or to find out information.

The first impression counts

Which emotional journey user experiences when visiting a website depends heavily on the functionality of the page. The web design of the delivery service has different requirements than that of a hotel operator. And yet there are some basic rules. For example, a clear value proposition on the website decides whether a user chooses a product or a service. The first impression is significant. Therefore, the home page should convey the essential functions and a message.

To ensure this, website operators should test their site on first-time users and ask them what impressions they have: What feelings does the website trigger? What is its purpose? What added value? Companies with complex products and services face a particular challenge here because a sentence or two is often not enough to convey their value proposition.

Visual storytelling is particularly useful here, i.e., images, videos, illustrations. Because where texts take a few minutes to read, a user processes the photos within a few milliseconds. They convey emotions faster and more immediately. They build an emotional relationship with the product and explain abstract facts and universally. In contrast to stock photos, self-made photos increase the recognition value and thus the interest of the user.

Lemonade is an excellent example of this. On his homepage, visitors receive a clear value proposition: “Everything in a flash. Fragrant prices. Big heart.” Translated this means: fast, cheap, customer-friendly. A short video explains how the company differs from other insurance companies.

Navigation as a mentor

Clear navigation encourages you to click further on the website. Here companies should make sure that they choose the right terms. If “complaints” or “return” is given instead of “contact”, this triggers negative associations. The company often seems to be dealing with problems and defective products. UX designers should rename such terms or move them to the FAQ area. Second, times are often misleading. Navigation elements should be clearly and formulated. Creativity is out of place. Calling the donation area of ​​a website “doing good”, for example, can be misleading. Is the user doing good himself? Then what does that mean? In the worst case, someone visits the website to donate – and leaves it again,

For a user to achieve his goal without problems, he needs a precise orientation. Because, unlike books or films, he does not experience the history of a website linearly. The user has to choose between different options on each page. Does he click on the link in the text? Or does he return to the home page? A good UX design always shows the right, i.e., the shortest route. Companies often make the mistake of wanting to present all sections of their website on their homepage. But that seems confusing and overwhelming. You should instead give users a clear starting point and then guide them to the goal as linearly as possible, for example, through a clear call-to-action, through interaction elements or directly through minimalist design.

A comparison of the interface designs of German and Swedish railways shows the difference: At Deutsche Bahn, users have too many different interaction options. The Swedish railways, on the other hand, provide a clear starting point by placing the simple question, “Where do you want to go?” Very large and prominent. By restricting the choice for users, it provides a clear direction.

Motivate to be a hero

Users have to be motivated again and again on their journey through a website so that they do not lose interest. Especially if you are visiting the site for the first time and you are new to the company and its product or service. Users are motivated by encouraging them to keep clicking. For example, by cliffhangers, like the open end of every Netflix series. Teasers at the bottom of a page cause visitors to continue scrolling. Among other things, UX designers can easily place part of the following content at the bottom of the page. But be careful: If there are apparent gaps when scrolling, users may overlook the content.

Less is more, as the comparison of the UX design of German and Swedish rail shows: While Deutsche Bahn overwhelms its users with too many interaction options, the website of the Swedish rail gives a more precise orientation through a reduced, minimalist design.

Texts should also motivate. Numerous studies on reading behavior on the Internet have already shown that Internet users are mainly skim-reading today. Because their attention span is also decreasing, UX designers have to design bright and clear websites. For this reason, a good UX design does not have long body texts. And if it does, then only with precise subheadings and pictures. In this way, users can orient themselves on the various focus points. Also, designers should place content on the left or in the middle, since users are used to reading from left to right and therefore typically scan a page in a Z or F pattern.

Smooth usage delivers a good user experience. However, this is not a unique selling point. But what makes a website unique? Good stories! Therefore, the success of a web design today depends not only on the functionality but, above all, on whether it generates emotions, the best positive one. Some brands do this by touching the user through pictures and videos, through their speech and choice of words. The messenger service Slack has found a proper implementation: It welcomes its users in a friendly manner, motivates the participants, has apparent features that everyone understands intuitively. The Mailchimp platform also shows how emotions can be aroused by celebrating the successful sending of an email campaign with a fun animation.

But which feature works? When do users feel motivated when do they lose interest? Do users understand the content or message of the company? It is all about finding out as early as possible. The basis of good UX design is, therefore, communication with users in the form of tests or surveys. Designers need to understand how users interact with a website and how each feature affects them.

To optimize the websites, a more detailed test in which the users are observed is suitable. These tests show how well an interface design supports the user in his mission – and what hinders him. Based on these results, UX designers can create personas, a kind of prototype for the target group. They also make it possible to generate a detailed customer journey map, in which the needs of users and customers are recorded so that they can better understand their decisions.

Conclusion

Storytelling offers many ideas for a successful user experience design. Anyone who sees their users as heroes who experience the visit to the website as a journey to a specific destination can offer them a bright, appealing, and exciting design of their website. With visual surprise elements, a positive and emotional response as well as the simple presentation of complex content, users have fun clicking and scrolling.

Podcast

Featured

Why a strategy is needed for online marketing

Marketing online without a strategy is like a ship without a steering wheel and compass that is torn apart by the wind. The online marketing strategy helps to select the right channels, to use them correctly and to set priorities.

In online marketing, in particular, countless routes can be taken. The strategy accordingly brings a shared understanding of where the journey should go. 

Because without clear objectives, resources such as time and money cannot be used efficiently, and projects can only be assessed insufficiently. 

If the strategy is lacking in advance, it is also challenging to measure later successes and derive further measures from them. 

Often there is no common thread in corporate communication so that the customer does not perceive the brand on different touchpoints as one unit. 

Holistic marketing approach

Often, it is not only online and offline communicated differently, but also within related areas in online marketing, such as on the website, in social media, in the newsletter and online advertising. 

This happens when the different departments in the company do not work together and do not have a common understanding through a predefined strategy. For this reason, it is essential to show that holistic online marketing can only be successful if everyone rows in the same direction and knows the destination of the trip.

The strategy also ensures that resources are used more efficiently if the funds are used sustainably through a clear objective

Excellent team coordination prevents tasks from being duplicated and additional resources being wasted. 

With a rigorous approach, measures can be successfully implemented so that effort and income are ultimately balanced

Addressing the right target group

Perhaps you are familiar with this situation: You know that you want to attract more visitors to your website and therefore generate more sales.

But you probably have not (yet) wondered which users should be addressed, what their search intent is and whether their search needs and expectations are met when visiting the website. 

This also raises the question of whether more traffic on the page brings the desired added value. Or whether other factors such as relevant content and thus SEO visibility, user behaviour or selection of keywords play a role in search ads

After all, a short visit to the website alone is not enough to increase sales. The goal is always to trigger interactions with the customer, e.g. via contact inquiries, newsletter registration, order confirmations, etc.

Collect data about user behaviour

Interactions on the website provide clues about user needs and at the same time, generate relevant data about user behaviour.

The data collected not only help you to understand your target group better, but also minimize wastage. 

If you cannot pinpoint your target group and you do not know which channels they are on, you may reach people who do not belong to the target group and thus unnecessarily increase your advertising costs

But to find out which data is relevant, you need a strategy with clear goals.

Without a strategy, it is difficult to find out which goal is being worked towards and how promising the activities are. 

Also, new opportunities can be discovered when developing a strategy by collecting comprehensive insights about the business area, its market and its target group, as well as needs. 

Instead of merely creating classic target groups or buyer personas with socio-demographic characteristics such as gender, age, income, marital status or school education, the findings can also be grouped and assigned to so-called user types

Components of an online marketing strategy

For example, the following characteristics can be analyzed:

  1. User
    needs What are the different needs of the individual user types? 

    Motives like motivators or intentions are interesting here, why someone should buy or use the desired product or service. 

    Think about the different interests of your target groups and how you can best address them. 

    Ideally, the needs and motivations are based on real (online) data and are coordinated with the micro-moment journey (cf. blog post The 4 micro-moments of Google search queries and their influence on SEO ). Then give your user types meaningful names that make it easier for you to assign them.
  2. Channels
    On which channels and platforms can the different user types be found? 

    Based on the needs and interests, you can derive which advertising options appeal to your user types. 

    This will help you find out whether you can reach your target groups, for example, through email marketing, affiliate marketing, viral marketing, social media marketing and / or search engine marketing.
  3. Promotional touchpoints
    How online-savvy is your target group?

    Ask yourself whether the user type uses online or offline media (social media, TV, print, etc.), how often he does this and which formats they are (reviews, blog posts, apps, on-demand solutions, etc.) ).

    Address your target groups wherever they are and spend money.
  4. Messages
    To which content does the user type react positively or possibly negatively?

    You reach environmentally conscious people by emphasizing resource-saving and sustainable advantages. Bargain hunters, on the other hand, react particularly with content with cheap offers and bargains.

    Think of suitable messages for your user type, which can help you, for example, to write the right advertising messages.
  5. Key figures
    Determine suitable key figures how you want to measure the success of the goals for your user types later.

    The online strategy helps you to find suitable KPIs and optimize them.

Market and target group-specific analyzes help to refine the strategy and increase the success of marketing measures. 

A look at the existing customer data and the information collected on the website also help with the evaluation and structuring of relevant information. 

Use all possible data sources such as your CRM tool and tools from third-party providers such as Google Analytics, Search Console from Google, Facebook Insights, Youtube, Pinterest or Instagram Analytics and look for any abnormalities and similarities in user behaviour and the characteristics of your customers. 

Don’t forget to audit your existing website, social media channels and marketing activities. Because how do you optimize your performance if you do not know where your strengths and weaknesses? An initial audit also serves as a “zero measurement” to measure the success of optimization measures.

We now know that many roads lead to Rome. But only through a well-developed strategy can you know which of these is the most efficient

Of course, you can try many different paths without a guide to see which one is the right one. But you lose a lot of time and money. 

The relevant tools such as a compass, world map and weather forecasts, on the other hand, take you to the safe harbour without any major detours. 

So use the right tools in online marketing and plan your trip.

Conclusion

There are six good reasons why a strategy is needed in online marketing:

  1. The plan is trend-setting and sets priorities
  2. It creates a shared understanding of where the journey should go
  3. It reveals opportunities and potential
  4. The strategy helps better to understand target groups and markets and their needs
  5. Potential customers can be addressed with the right message at the right time
  6. The overarching strategy not only saves time and money but also supports you in optimizing your goals

Podcast

Featured

The 4 micro-moments of Google search queries. And their impact on SEO

Since the advent of smartphones, more and more users have been using search engines on the spur of the moment and are making a search query ( micro-moment ) in the middle of everyday life. According to Google, most searches fall into one of four main categories (search intentions).

The four main types of micro-moments:

  • You want to know something (e.g., from Wikipedia)
  • You want to go somewhere (Google Maps, route planner)
  • You want to do something (How-to YouTube guide)
  • You want to buy something (e-commerce shopping)

Depending on the search intent, the hit list shows explanatory information or a map, instructions, or online shops.

If your website content is to appear high up on search engines, the individual user need must be known and how Google responds to it.

“Micro-Moments” summary

Consumer behavior has changed . Especially since the spread of smartphones. These are available to us at any time and are ideally suited to answer any questions of everyday life. Whether from a discussion, when looking for an address, a guide, or when comparing prices, we always pull out our mobile device and spontaneously look for a solution ( intent-driven micro-moments).

The search query is communicated to Google by voice control or text, and the answer appears as the appropriate result.

To appear at the top of the hit list in these crucial moments, suitable content must satisfy the search intent of the user. If all questions of the searcher are answered, his user behavior will signal this (eg, put away the smartphone, do not return to the hit list after visiting a website), and Google will rate the result shown as right.

For subsequent searches by other users with a similar search profile, Google will again consider the result that satisfied the corresponding search intent in previous searches.

Decisions in the micro-moments determine the success or failure of web offers.

How Google sorts the hit list by relevance

Using various dimensions such as the location of the user, the end device used, the search history, and the useful search content (topics, keywords, and their semantic context), Google tries to identify in milliseconds what the search intent of the user is.

The information about the search intent makes it easier to sort the possible hits by relevance. Olaf Kopp has clearly described this connection in a  blog post with our software partner Searchmetrics.

So if you want to optimize your content for high visibility in search enginesyou have to identify the search intent of potential prospects.

Then you can publish appropriate content: If you are looking for information about a purchase, you may be interested in the price comparison. Anyone who has already made the purchase decision is looking for an e-commerce shop. That is diametrically different content. On a single page, you will probably not be able to satisfy both search needs in a targeted manner.

Does your information offer answer the most burning questions of users?

The perfect search engine understands precisely what you want to know and delivers the exact result you want.

Larry Page, Google Co-Founder, 2002 (!)

How Google judges the quality of content

But how does Google find out what the relevant answers are to users’ questions?

RankBrain is Google’s filtering algorithm, which brings together the intent of searchers and the context of content in the search results list (to put it very simply).

The Google Quality Rating Guidelines are an excellent source for understanding Google’s demands for good content. One hundred eighty pages define what a good search result is.

The manual testers not only assess the actual websites but also whether they meet the user’s search needs. The inspectors are not only presented with search result lists for assessment, but also with the identified user intent!

Does the content meet Google’s “Quality Rating Guidelines”?

Accordingly, you should put yourself in the position of readers when writing content :

  • What is your search intent?
  • Which of the four micro-moments does your search belong to?
  • Does the published content meet the user’s need at the critical moment?

If the search intent is not met, the readers will leave the found website and switch back to the hit list (referred to as “pogo-sticking”). Google sees this as a negative signal, since the user has probably not found what he was looking for.

The four micro-moments of Google search queries

Google developed the concept of micro-moments to explain the differences between search queries on mobile and desktop: Because the device is always at hand and everywhere and logged in, searches on smartphones often have a secure context, for example, where and when.

Real-time, intent-driven micro-moments are the new battlegrounds.

Joseph Corral, Head of Marketing for Micro-Moments, Google

Joseph has confirmed BlueGlass CEO Raphael Bienz that users click less and less on the 2nd or 3rd page of the Google hit list: They prefer to modify their search if the desired result does not appear on the first page!

According to Google, the average search intention can be divided into four main types:

  • I want to know (curiosity, need for information)
  • I-Want-to-Do (trigger action, seek advice, find support)
  • I-Want-to-buy (something to buy)
  • I-Want-to-Go (physically go anywhere)

If you search for “BVB,” for example, information about the Borussia Dortmund football club is displayed (I-Want-to-Know Moment). On the other hand, if you are looking for “BVB jersey,” transactional information from e-commerce shops (I-Want-to-Buy Moment) appears.

Google search for “BVB jersey” with an overlay of e-commerce shops

Google search for “BVB jersey” with overlay of e-commerce shops

If you search for “BVB” again, in contrast to the first search, new advertisements appear that try to skim off a possible purchase intention. For this, Google refers to the search history with the previous search “BVB jersey.”

Micro-Moments Examples “Travel” and “E-Bike”

Every website operator has to break down the micro-moment principle individually to his serviceGoogle offers comprehensive examples and statistics for the travel environment.

Micro moments for booking trips

The identified user needs serve as guidelines for the creation of web content (content marketing): Typically, you should offer a content-relevant page for each topic or question, if possible with explanations, photos, illustrations and, for example, video interviews with product managers or suppliers and producers ( Rich content).

It merely has to be the best website on the internet for a specific question. Then Google will consider the content prominently: If the page answers the topic or question comprehensively and conclusively, the user will be satisfied with it (e.g., long-form content, relevant listicles, good video).

Google registers the excellent usability and then shows the page for the same question from other searchers above in the hit list.

The SEO visibility rises so. If the search snippet is also well written in the hit list (title and description tag), the click rate will increase (CTR) and thus the number of organic visitors to the website.

How do you find the relevant questions for the micro-moments?

The possible decision-making processes of prospective customers and customers (user journeys) can be derived intuitively, or various tools can be used to support them. Google Autosuggest offers practical and free help by supplementing search queries with similar searches.

Also, at the bottom of the search hit list is a list of other searches related to the search term. These are based on statistical data and allow conclusions to be drawn about possible user needs.

Answer The Public also offers keyword evaluations free of charge. Theme trees and other possible questions can be derived from this.

Podcast

Featured

15 Questions and Answers on “Online Marketing Strategy”

A carefully designed business strategy is crucial for the long-term success of a company. This leads to the most critical questions regarding the online marketing strategy.

  1. What is an online marketing strategy?

The online marketing strategy defines which goal is to be achieved with which means: Which product or service is positioned in which submarket and how is it marketed? The plan includes components such as 

  • User personas or even better micro-moments from the customer journey
  • Content and tonality of the message
  • Communication channels such as website, blog, social networks, newsletter, PR, affiliates, influencers, native advertising, etc.
  • Value map of the products or services
  • Analysis of the potential of different target markets
  • and much more
  1. What is the added value of a strategy?

We live in a world full of VUCA today. The acronym stands for

  • V volatility
  • U uncertainty
  • C complexity
  • An ambiguity.

So we have to orient ourselves daily in a world full of impermanenceuncertaintycomplexity, and ambiguity. The strategy gives us support and determines what needs to be done, who benefits, how the market is worked on, and how success is measured.

The marketing strategy specifies the plan and the KPIs for the implementation of marketing measures over the next two years.

Even if a business is already booming, or precisely because it is running, there is at least a subconscious strategy behind the success.

In today’s environment, with the ever-accelerating digitalization, a good strategy in the medium to long term should be decisive for the successful preservation of marketability.

  1. What online marketing strategies are there?

We differentiate between push and pull strategies: Under “push,” we summarize advertising that interrupts users in their work.

Examples of this are social ads in the news or video feed, display ads, or native ads: users are not actively looking for this interrupt advertisement. It is shown to you based on the content you are currently consuming or based on your user profile.

We understand “pull” as content that is actively sought and requested by users. Examples of this are websites (SEO), blogs (SEO), but also search ads (SEA) on Google or Bing.

I see more and more Pinterest pins in this category: As the only social network, it also brings visitors to websites in the medium and long term! Because of this property, its founders claim that it is not a social network at all …

Why is the difference so significant? If a company offers services or products that are new and, therefore, unknown, the pull channel SEO is of little use: users do not look for this solution because they are unconscious of it.

In such a case, they are helping push strategies that awareness to increase and thereby increase (in a second step) the sales or conversions. This means that translations via push channels tend to be more expensive to buy because users have to be convinced first.

Often, several contact points are required via retargeting or newsletter marketing. Users actively search in the pull channels so that purchases or orders are more comfortable to achieve.

The advantage of the push channel is that it brings measurable success promptly. The disadvantage: Each measure costs conceptual and media budgets for the respective channel. Also, you interrupt the user in his work and can thus appear intrusive.

The advantage of the organic pull channel is that the relevant content is so attractive that users actively search for it and, in the best case, even share it with their friends and acquaintances.

The disadvantage: creating such attractive content is complex to design and produce. Also, any success does not appear until 3 to 12 months after publication.

If you are dependent on short-term success, the paid push channel is recommended. If you are looking for long-term success, the organic pull channel via content marketing is more interesting if the significant investment in the small Swiss market can be recovered!

Of course, the organic channel can be combined with the payment channel by initially advertising new editorial content with a media campaign.

  1. What are examples of effective strategies?

Example 1: Content marketing strategy at Digitec

Online shops can be technically optimized for search engines. However, if several providers use the same product descriptions, for example, for PCs or cameras, it will be difficult for Google to identify the best shop for their hit list.

Digital, therefore, urges its numerous technical specialists to publish editorial texts on their areas of expertise. Well-researched, relevant articles with comments are created, which are integrated directly into the online shop. This gives Google a strong indication that this shop is probably one of the best.

Here is the development of the organic visibility of digitec.ch at google.ch since January 1st, 2017:

Organic visibility of digitec.ch at Google Switzerland since 1.1.2017

Example 2: Influencer & content marketing strategy at UPC’s eSports.ch

The cable network operator UPC offers services related to mobile subscriptions and fast internet. Reaching the target group that decides on the Internet provider in households is more challenging today than ever: IT-savvy users install ad blockers, watch a little TV, and read no newspapers.

Thanks to its pioneering work in the booming eSports environment, UPC was able to position itself attractively with the target group with its platform eSports.ch: They speak the language of gamers and offer products that make their lives easier.

Case study on UPC / eSports influencer content marketing

  1. I have a strategy. How do I check it?

Strategies often have far-reaching consequences that will only have an impact in the future. Given the high degree of uncertainty about future developments, reviewing the policy is correspondingly demanding.

For strategy audits, we analyze data-driven potential future effects based on historical data. 

For example, if customers give us their targeted target markets, our analyzes of the seasonality of the search volume on Google or the organic strength of competitors provide essential clues about the expected competitive pressure.

If, for example, an attribution analysis from Google Analytics shows that conversions come primarily from organic visitors (SEO) or from users who enter the URL directly (high awareness thanks to branding), then it must be clarified how vital social media channels are. Are they still needed or only with reduced effort?

Attribution models are used to define which marketing measures have how many shares in which conversion paths. The rules are then optimized accordingly.

  1. How do you develop an online marketing strategy? Is there a process?

At SwaCash, we work according to a structured strategy process. Based on the market analysis and a good understanding of the product or service of our customers, we develop the necessary information for the documentation of the online marketing strategy.

The summary of the strategy in a “strategy poster” is particularly popular with our customers: All strategic components that are crucial for customer communication are shown on a single page:

  • Definition of goals and measurement of their achievement
  • defined target groups (personas or micro-moments )
  • Positioning and content of the messages
  • Channels and tonality of communication
  • Priorities and stages of the measures
  • and much more

Employees from different departments base their operational implementation on the strategy poster and all work in the same direction.

In large corporations, in particular, aligning employees to a specific goal is a significant challenge.

Do I know: Do I offer Candy, Vitamin, or Painkiller? From a strategic point of view, it is essential to understand whether a product/service is nice-to-have (candy), whether it makes the end customer/user more robust (vitamin) or whether it is merely essential (painkiller).

Omer Khan documented this fact very clearly in his article Candy, Vitamin, or Painkiller. Investor Kevin Fong is said to judge business ideas according to the following principle:

We divide business plans into three categories: candy, vitamins, and painkillers. We throw away the candy. We look at vitamins. We like painkillers. We especially like addictive painkillers!

Kevin Fong, investor

All three categories produce well-known business models: gaming and esports, for example, may fall into the candy category, but still, generate billions in sales.

Depending on the category in which you invest, this changes the type of market entry and the appropriate communication strategy.

  1. How do I add online marketing guidelines to my strategy?

The online marketing strategy is derived from the business strategy. It expands the overall plan with online components such as channels (e.g., push vs. pull) and specifications for the corresponding content.

In the age of digitization, a functioning website is central to many companies: In contrast to social networks, you have full control over formats and content.

For this, one is dependent on high-performance content to attract users organically via Google. In this sense, you are also reliant on an external algorithm with your website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) of your content is correspondingly important: the services should be found on Google and trigger conversions on the website, such as orders or inquiries.

  1. The previous measures do not work. What can I do?

Many companies underestimate how competitive the online environment has become today. It is no longer enough to publish a “beautiful” website.

The content must satisfy the search needs of potential customers. Google sees no reason to direct searchers to pages with thin content.

In our SEO audits, for example, we check how well search engines can technically read the content of websites. Also, we show the organic visibility on Google Switzerland or in other countries.

Organic visibility of the SwaCash website at Google.ch, according to Searchmetrics between 2018 and 2020. The rising index indicates that the probability of being found on Google increases.

The audit shows whether your content can stand up to competitors or whether there are gaps between the requirements of the market and your offer (content gap analysis).

  1. A strategy is theoretical. My practice looks different.

The strategy should always be based on reality. We are not interested in developing beautiful concepts for the drawer. Since we are data-based, based on effectively entered search queries and search volumes, our strategies are easy to implement in practice.

The implemented measures can be checked using various KPIs.

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle: Why, What, How?

The purpose of commercial ventures is to generate sales and, above all, profit. This is the only way to pay wages and promote innovation.

But if you target sales and profits, you will not be successful. Simon Sinek impressively demonstrates this with his Why-What-How thinking scheme :

  • In the first step, it is useful to clarify the internal motivation with which you are offering a service (Why?)
  • What do you offer (What?)
  • And with what means do you offer something (How?)

Only when the “Why” is correct will customers understand the messages surrounding the service and want to buy the services or products.

Simon Sinek explains Why-What-How thinking: Why do you do what you do?

  1. What does an online marketing strategy cost?

Strategies can be developed more or less extensively. The more data you want to store, the higher the effort.

The larger a company is, the more departments have to be picked up, and the higher the time required for workshops with different stakeholders.

Online marketing strategies for smaller online shops with simple products can be designed for CHF 9,000 to CHF 18,000.

For larger companies with more complex services, we expect investments in conception, workshops, presentations, and documentation from CHF 24,000 to CHF 29,000, depending on how many workshop levels are necessary.

  1. What is the minimum implementation budget to achieve success with the strategy?

We recommend small companies to use an operational online marketing budget of at least Euros 1,000 per month as a media budget for Google or Facebook, etc.

Below that, it is challenging to achieve measurable success. Depending on the competitive pressure, 1,000.00 per month corresponds to a minimal amount.

If specialist support is also required from an agency, its agency fee comes to more than 2,000 per month, depending on how many channels are to be used in how many languages.

Our customers invest between 4,000 and several 10,000 per month in the implementation of their online marketing campaigns.

  1. What know-how does the company need to develop the strategy?

If you want to develop the strategy entirely in-house, you need experienced, strategically thinking project managers with enough free resources. Your task is to control the process and to collect all relevant stakeholders.

Here it can make sense to consult external consultants: They bring not only the necessary time resources but also experience and templates for products such as value maps, which steps have to be followed to achieve a useful result as quickly as possible. 

They also support the final document so that everyone involved is clear about the next steps for implementation.

At SwaCash we have developed a framework of workshops: It includes all the necessary clarifications with various departments of a company to come up with an effective strategy,.

  1. How many resources do I have to plan internally and externally?

For small SMEs, it may be enough for us to identify the workshops necessary for his company with the CEO. The clarifications can then be completed in two half-day workshops.

Larger companies often need three to four workshop days to cover all components of the business model. A stakeholder should then provide sufficient time for each department or business area to clarify in-depth questions.

An overall coordinator of the strategy process on the customer side is an advantage.

The lead time for an online strategy project is optimally between 2-3 weeks and 1-2 months.

  1. Who can help me design a strategy?

A service provider can advise you if you do not write the strategy internally. When evaluating, I recommend the following criteria:

  • The agency should not only be familiar with an online discipline, e.g., only strategy or only SEO or only social media, because their recommendations are either not feasible or favor a specific channel.
  • The advisors should provide relevant reference examples.
  • The process of strategy development should be understandable.
  • Agencies with implementation experience may create more practical strategies than pure strategy consultants.
  • Support in measuring key performance indicators KPIs in the implementation phase should also be offered (it is not trivial)
  • The strategy is decisive for the success of the business. When evaluating, I would only look at the price last.
Featured

Record better smartphone videos with few resources

Video is an excellent means of bringing something of a personal touch to communicate with customers and prospects in the current situation.

online culinary show. blogging and live streaming. phone camera on tripod recording video.

Why video is in demand now

Due to the cancellation of numerous trade fairs and customer events, personal contact is currently no longer available. To maintain customer relationships in the current situation, you have to communicate effectively and efficiently at the same time.

In addition to creating blog posts and editorial work, successful content strategies focus, among other things, on emotional communication in the form of videos. After all, how can you build trust better than speaking directly and personally to your customers?

It has also been proven that people remember the picture and moving picture content longer than plain text. Of course, this does not mean that your content must only consist of videos. However, it could be a perfect addition to market your content, and your readers will get a good impression of you and establish a personal connection to you and your other content.

In short: Videos make their content human and personal. You can use this opportunity to gain the trust of your customers.

Specific examples and ideas

What videos can you now create from your home office? Here are some patterns and designs:

Score with personality

A video allows you to score with personality without putting people at risk through direct contact. Create a short video in which you introduce yourself and your company. Explain to your viewers what makes your product or service so unique and why you can rely on your team even in times of crisis. Let your employees also have their say.

Demonstrate product

With videos, you can present your product quickly and understandably. You may also be able to film it from home and explain the functionality. Your customers will be grateful if they can watch a short tutorial in video format instead of a written instruction or if they see your product in action. It is, of course, also important what distinguishes your offer from others and what makes it unique.

Let customers have their say.

Instead of putting yourself in front of the camera, you can ask your customers or influencers to talk about you or your company because the significant advantage of video is the spreading of emotions. If your customers tell you how satisfied they are with their product or service, it will increase their credibility enormously. If they then share the videos on their network, this also gives increased attention.

Internal videos

In the current situation, companies can also save time and money with videos for internal communication. Since there is no need for personal meetings, updates, onboarding processes, or briefings can be communicated via video. This not only saves time for the creation of a circular email, but complex content can also be transmitted efficiently and sustainably.

Scope and platforms

No general statements can be made about the perfect length of videos. It depends very much on the target group, the topic, and the platform chosen.

For example, you currently score on YouTube with detailed videos. This applies not least to advise and explanatory videos. In all of this, YouTube is ideal for content that should be found in the long term, because many people use the platform like a visual search engine.

Instagram, on the other hand, is designed for short videos. With the built-in video platform IGTV, it can be longer than a few seconds or minutes. Nevertheless, videos that are intended for the moment and where it is not essential that they find new viewers in a few weeks or months are better served here.

Other social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter are designed for short video formats. On Facebook, you will also find the stories format known from Instagram.

From theory to practice

With all of this, you don’t necessarily need a film team to create good video content. Because employees already have the essential video creation tool in their pocket: the smartphone. Many current devices have a camera with a 4K resolution that can deliver excellent quality.

When filming with your smartphone, you only have to pay attention to a few rules:

Choose the right camera.

One of the advantages of shooting videos with a smartphone is that there is a camera at the front and rear. The front camera is mostly used for short selfie shots such as Instagram stories. You always have an eye on how you are in the picture. These cameras have recently increased in quality because they are no longer only used for video calls. For more professional videos, however, it is usually recommended to switch to the camera on the back of the housing, which generally still offers more here.

The right position

The camera should be at eye level. So don’t film yourself from below or above, but like a (virtual) conversation partner.

Pay attention to your position in the picture frame. Most of the time, it makes sense to be central or, for horizontal videos, also to the left or right. In the middle, however, you don’t do anything wrong.

Your eyes should be approximately at the level of an imaginary line that is a third below the top edge (rule of thirds).

If you only see your head, you are too close to the camera. On the other hand, if you see your stomach or even your legs, you are (far) too far away.

Record these videos while standing, because they automatically make you more dynamic than when sitting.

But how do you take care of yourself in the home office without helpers? For this, it is recommended to purchase a smartphone tripod or a corresponding adapter for a tripod that may already be present. This way, you can guarantee that your video is not blurred and that you have the necessary freedom of movement.

Lighting conditions

Another essential step for successful shots is the right lighting conditions. Because even the best smartphone cameras still have a weakness here compared to professional video cameras.

Therefore, ideally, you should look for a significant light source, for example, a window. In front of the window, the motto is: avoid backlighting! That means: The best pictures are taken when they have the window in front of them. However, if it is behind you, you only see a ghostly silhouette.

If there is not enough daylight available, you can also use artificial light from a lamp. This lamp should be slightly ahead of you. Do not use a lamp that shines directly on you from above or below because the unsightly shadow casts on your face.

By the way, professionals work with two to three lamps. One is the leading light from the front. Another is on the other side and a little further away (or dimmed): This softens shadows. And in the studio situation, a third lamp comes from behind and above to illuminate the back of the head, because this gives the person a subtle contour and stands out from the background. When shooting outdoors, however, natural light and a reflector are often used.

You don’t have to go that far. But if you have two light sources, you can experiment with a similar setup.

Background

Find the most straightforward possible background that is not too distracting. A bit of atmosphere is allowed. Bookshelves are always accessible.

Otherwise, a neutral white wall is also the right choice. Do not stand directly in front of it, but leave some distance: Otherwise, you may cast a shadow on the wall or look more like you are standing up for a police photo …

Sound quality

Your smartphone has not only an excellent camera to offer but also a microphone. To be understood at the end of the video, make sure that you do not accidentally cover it with your hands if the smartphone is not on a tripod.

Important to know: The sound quality depends heavily on the room. Bare walls reflect the sound, which leads to echo. You can quickly check this by clapping your hands in different places: It will sound very different in the bathroom than in the living room—basic rule: the less echo, the better for speech. Carpets, curtains, shelves, upholstered furniture, etc. swallow or scatter the sound.

If you are too quiet in the video, you may need to get used to speaking louder and more precise. It shouldn’t sound like theater. But who else has a quiet voice should dare a little more here? Also, the following applies: the camera loses some of a person’s dynamics. So you always have to exaggerate a bit to look natural afterward and not sleepy.

There are also simple clip-on microphones that can be connected to a smartphone. They can significantly improve the sound quality.

Final word

With these tips and a few good ideas, you can create excellent videos with limited resources and from your home office. They won’t achieve professional studio quality, but at the moment, viewers will be happy to forgive you. In this respect: Don’t put yourself under too much pressure. Formats like the Instagram Stories are ideal for experimenting, as the content disappears on its own. Test all of this in a very playful way, without wanting to publish the videos because more self-confidence in front of the camera comes with more experience!

Featured

Emoji Marketing: Necessary or Overrated?

You are familiar with the little yellow faces and symbols, but have you never heard of Emoji Marketing? Today I will show you numerous best practice examples and tips on how to spice up your social media marketing with emojis and tell stories across languages.

Emoji Marketing: Do you like it?

Emoji Marketing: Why? Why? Why?

Honestly, in our fast-paced world, we can’t imagine communication without emojis, can we? Why tap your fingers sore when a simple spaghetti plate or a pizza slice is enough to determine the dish of the evening? Why make long speeches when we can convey our emotions in almost all variations via messenger or social media with a small yellow face?

According to Duden, an emoji is a “pictogram originating in Japan, similar to an emoticon, which is based on emotional states, objects, places, animals, food, or the like. Refers (in electronic messages) “.

Oh yes, by the way, here is an unbeatable argument:

95% of internet users have used an emoji before. Over 10 billion emojis are sent every day.

These figures, published in 2018 – based on a study by Brandwatch – prove that emojis are the “most popular language on the Internet.” But what does that mean for our communication and marketing activities?

Nowadays, almost everything can be expressed with emojis.

My contribution to visual storytelling was primarily about the power of stories and the fact that – in contrast to the written word – we can remember up to 80 percent of what we see. Transferred to the use of emoji, this means that we can save many words and emotionalize our corporate messages with suitable smileys. This statement, however, has to be considered theoretically and broken down quite a bit, because marketing with emojis is not that easy, as my examples will show in the practical part.

According to a study by quietly from 2017, the use of at least one emoji per post on Instagram leads to an average of 47.7 percent more interactionsLarry Kim also confirms this trend about Twitter: Tweets with emojis on average, ensure a 25.4 percent higher engagement, and, at the same time, lower costs (paid media). From my point of view, we can also transfer the same thing to Facebook.

Tip: Jenna Schilstra speaks in her TED Talk “In defense of emojis” about the historical development from the hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptians via Japanese characters to the positive effects of smiling faces that can be determined today:

Storytelling with emojis: 4 best practice examples

With emojis, you can quickly and succinctly package your corporate message as a story that accommodates the current consumption behavior of users for snackable content. Another plus point, which in my view should not be underestimated: emoji marketing campaigns are in principle cross-language and can be deciphered (almost) anywhere.

MC Donalds

In 2015, the most famous fast-food chain in the world took up everyday situations in its storytelling campaign and cleverly “tells” the plot with suitable emojis:

A couple goes shopping. She buys outrageously, expensive shoes. And of course, you pay with the standard credit card. He is more than shocked by the high price. A few repetitions of the same scenario reinforce his state of mind. Remedial action comes quickly: The well-known burger restaurant is the rescue in need and ensures that men and women can enjoy their “good times” at McDonald’s at the end of the shopping tour.

Conclusion: Typed the story sounds banal and boring, right? Even if one or the other user can undoubtedly put himself in the protagonist’s position here. Illustrated with emojis, the scenario (especially the multiple repetitions) looks amusing and harbors a small but subtle puzzling character: a hidden trick.

IKEA emoticons

IKEA thinks even more significant when it comes to emoji marketing: In the store, the furniture company has launched specially created emojis for iOS and Android. Among them are numerous brand-typical furnishings as symbols. And of course, the infamous meatballs Köttbullar should not be missing here.

Conclusion: From my point of view, a smart marketing trick, which aims to integrate unique selling points into the everyday communication of users and to create an unmistakable recognition value.

Domino’s pizza

In May 2015, the delivery service Domino’s ensured engagement, brand awareness, and publicity with its extraordinary Twitter campaign. American users could easily order via pizza emoji using the “tweet-to-order” system.

A unique feature: With the help of Emoji Art (a large overall picture is created from many individual emojis – here a giant pizza slice), the post is scattered on Twitter and subliminally promoted for the delivery service.

By sending a pizza emoji, orders could be placed directly with Dominos’s as part of the 2015 Twitter campaign.

Conclusion: From my point of view, the main aim of this campaign was Dominos’s to attract attention and to address a busy, younger audience. There was virality for free!

ALDI North & ALDI SOUTH

A joint campaign by ALDI Nord and ALDI SÜD did not cause a sensational advertising stunt until 2018: meals in the form of an emoji.

The cake from the ALDI emoji marketing campaign looks shockingly good.

Dishes such as tortellini, cake, or a classic omelet are staged with the right ingredients and easily converted into the most common emojis. The cross-media campaign was not only shown with specially created slogans (for example, “Shockingly good prices!”) On billboards, digital advertising space, and as an advertisement in various daily newspapers, but also played out on social media.

Conclusion: As part of the emoji campaign, the two ALDI giants were primarily concerned with reaching a younger target group and increasing the coolness factor. To be able to play at the front and continue to win customers, eventually, in the dusty discounter business, sooner or later, new paths must be taken. And what is more suitable than the most popular language on the Internet?

Use emojis correctly: 7 tips.

  1. Match your emojis to your products: Here, you should think about which emojis can illustrate your products or check whether there are suitable ones for your products. For example, if you sell office supplies, you can use food of emojis on social media (🖋, 📆, 🗄, 🗂, 📎, 📌, 🤓). To find out what options you have, just browse Emojipedia.
  2. Get an idea of ​​your target group: Develop a feeling for your target group and answer questions like “Who are my users?” And “How do they communicate?”. The topic of gender also plays an important role here, as men and women express their feelings online in very different ways, as Brandwatch has determined. At least on Twitter, the traditional code applies: Boys don’t cry!
  3. Emotionalize your company messages: With emojis, you can do storytelling and to tell (short) stories. In the McDonalds example, of course, there is a large-scale advertising campaign behind it. But that doesn’t mean that you need a lot of budget for your stories. You can also simply decorate your posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with suitable emojis or leave a post without text and only with emojis.
  4. Communicate with your target group on a more personal level: this is about emotions and sympathy. On Facebook, for example, you can use the “Feel / Activity” button to express how you are feeling. If you want to use this function, it always depends on the topic. For example, if you have received an award and want to shout your joy out into the world, it is legitimate to feel “thankful” or “fantastic.”
  5. Avoid emojis that could lead to misinterpretation: In this case, caution is essential! There are some emojis that are misleading or have other uses in common usage. Because honestly, we all know what the eggplant means, right? 🍆
  6. Check the display of your emojis on different devices: Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and Co. – the various methods represent a hurdle when using emojis because the symbols are often displayed differently. Here I advise you to compare the desktop view with that of your smartphone. Then you have at least two possible forms of presentation in your sights.
  7. Don’t use emojis in your social media marketing in an inflationary way: that’s all well and good, but you should still use emojis in your social media marketing in a targeted manner and not overdo it. Note: The emojis used should always match the topic and your brand.

Excursus: And what does the Duden say?

Have you often asked yourself where in the sentence the emoji has its place correctly? Before or after the punctuation mark? Don’t worry; we can breathe a sigh of relief because in April 2018, the Duden, the highest grammatical authority in the German language, took on this case.

Well, if anyone knows, then probably the Duden.

One thing is now – thank God! 🙏 – so clearly: emojis should be placed after the punctuation mark in complete sentences. But what about emojis that replace whole words? In my opinion, that should be okay from a grammatical point of view, because there shouldn’t be any rivalry between emoji and punctuation marks here.

Incidentally, it is no longer uncommon for dictionaries to deal with contemporary forms of communication such as emojis. In 2015, the emoji with tears of joy was voted “Word of the Year” by the British Oxford Dictionaries.

The Word of the Year 2015 in the UK: Face with Tears of Joy.

Digression: Emojis in the Google SERPs

Perhaps you have already come across them when you put a search query: emojis in the Google SERPs. Three years ago (2017), Google released the function to work with emojis in both title and description.

When searching for “barfen tips,” the third snippet, peppered with emojis relevant to the topic, appears in the Google SERPs.

Although the snippet for the search query “barfen tips” is only in the third position in Google SERPs, the title and description are so striking that the search result from barfen.info at least visually outperforms the competition. Emojis are used here to attract attention and attract attention.

Now honestly: Which search result from the top 5 catches your eye here?

Emojis are increasingly found in the description and are also displayed more frequently on the desktop than in the mobile view, as SISTRIX has found out. In principle, the result is not surprising since symbols such as hooks, arrows, or the telephone are often used in the description.

But in this case, too, the principle applies: The emojis used should always fit the topic and your brand.

Featured

Excel: A comprehensive guide (not only) for marketers

Is Excel old fashioned? Not at all. The program is one of the most used planning tools in everyday office life. The fact that a community has built up around Excel shows that the program is still highly relevant – but also that it is not always understandable at first glance. 

We will show you the basics, tips, and tricks you should know about Excel in the following article.

What is Excel?

Microsoft Excel is the best known and most widely used spreadsheet program. Calculations with formulas and functions can be created in Excel, whereby the commercial, statistical, and date functions are particularly versatile for companies.

The program is part of the Microsoft Office 365 package and is available for both Windows and macOS.

What do I need: Excel Online or the Office Package?

Due to the different packages and similar names of Microsoft products – Office 365, Office 2016, Office Online – it is not always easy for users to directly understand precisely what the differences are. If you don’t already have the Office 365 package, you will probably want to find out which version of the program suits you best. The price question at this point: is the free Office Online enough?

There is no clear answer to this question. Just because Office Online is free, it still has its justification. You can efficiently perform less complex Excel tasks such as the visualization of functions and diagrams.

In addition to Excel, the online world of Office also includes other Microsoft products such as Word Online or PowerPoint Online. But it is also clear that the version is limited: 

So only 5 gigabytes (GB) can be stored. And in terms of design, users have to work with a template so that the online version reaches its limits when it comes to more complicated and individual presentations.

Who Excel would, therefore, like to use regular or establish it in his company is well-advised to afford the Office 365 package – for private users or beginners, the online version can once be a good start.

How does Excel work?

Excel is still one of the most widely used software in the world because it offers so many uses. Everything can be calculated and planned in one central location.

With the large scope of services of the basic equipment and the formulas that each user can also create themselves, a program is a beneficial tool for companies, especially in project management, controlling, and other commercial areas.

The highlight of Excel: formulas and functions

Before we move on to the most important of the hundreds of functions that Excel already has without your intervention, let’s take a look at how to create your own formula in Excel .

A simple and common example of creating a formula is to calculate percentages :

Let’s say we have a product price of 90 euros and would like to add sales tax to it. It ‘sIt’s straightforward because you just multiply the amount you want to calculate by a percentage and then add that result to the original amount. This can be used to practice the principle of Excel, which, once understood, can be used for all possible functions.

The formula for calculating a price including VAT is as follows:

VAT =

Net product price * (1 + VAT rate)

Now enter in Excel:

In the A1 field: 90 euros

In the field B1: 19%

Now click on the empty field C1 and then on the function symbol – fx  (directly above the table). At this point, you need to create a formula.

The entry of the formula always begins with an is-equal sign. Then create the rule according to which the calculation should work. In our example, we base this on the formula for VAT above:

fx = A1 * (1 + B1)

Click Enter  – and you’re done! If the displayed gross price is 107.10 euros, you have done everything correctly.

Of course, Excel can do more than just calculate sales tax – that would also be easy with a calculator. However, you now have the option of linking any formula for individual fields using the same principle.

You go one step further by using add-ins. We will now explain what this is all about.

Excel: add-ins and macros

First of all, we need a definition: What are add-ins? And what are macros? Let’s bridle the horse from behind:

Macro is a term from software development. It describes a summarized sequence of instructions so that they can be carried out with a simple call.

Add-ins, in turn, are ready-made functions or macros that are integrated into software applications and can be fully integrated into the main program. Add-ins are external services that can be integrated into Excel so that you can do even more with the program.

Accordingly, these optional commands and features for Excel are not immediately available but must be installed and activated. Some are free, for some you have to pay. The good thing about it: You will find add-ins for all possible purposes, which are provided by different providers.

Add-ins: example of search engine marketing

Let us move on to marketing: In the area of ​​search engine marketing, for example, add-ins are often used to evaluate SEO projects efficiently and in a time-saving manner.

Such add-ons are available from various providers. The best known is called  SEO Tools for Excel. With the add-in, you can create great SEO analyzes in Excel. All you have to do is install the add-in in Excel and import your data from Google Analytics into Excel using the add-in.

You can easily do this by:

1) unzip the zip file after downloading,

2) then open Excel and

3) Drag the SeoTools.XML file onto the Excel datasheet.

SeoTools” now appears in the menu bar, and you can work directly with the add-in. Even if you want to work with add-ins from other providers – the principle remains the same, and you are usually guided through the process with explanations.

Not only search engine marketing is an excellent example of how marketers can use Excel in everyday life. In the following, we will introduce you to other areas and uses for which Excel is a helpful and widely used tool.

How does Excel help me in my everyday work?

Excel is mainly used in project management, purchasing, or controlling. One of the uses for which the software is undoubtedly used the most is the income-expenditure overview.

Income-expenditure overview: Excel bundles it

In controlling or the accounting of larger companies, the income-expenditure summary reaches its limits when it comes to the fact that the presentation is also sufficient for a tax audit later on. Still, the overview is particularly helpful for small businesses.

For individual projects, the income-expenditure overview with Excel has a great advantage that it clearly shows personal budget items.

This includes:

  • recording income and expenses ;
  • the automatic addition of expenditure and income, with which you form a surplus or deficit ;
  • Deduct input tax and sales tax paid ;
  • Determining an expected sales tax burden ;
  • Creation of the annual, monthly or project evaluation and
  • the visualization of income and expenditure in a diagram.

What sounds complicated is based on the most straightforward functions of Excel, such as the percentage calculation or the sum function. The table can then look different depending on the area of ​​application.

Use for project management & Co.

In project management, in particular, Excel is a widely used tool to support everyday tasks and plan campaigns.

A particular Excel chart is famous for monitoring lead and traffic numbers: the waterfall chart. This allows you to determine interim results and present them. Based on these numbers, you can find out at a glance whether you have made progress and whether you are on track to achieve your goals.

Another table is interesting for marketers – and anyone else who works with data – the pivot table. This is a special kind of meal: Not only can it summarize data, but also highlight and research trends. This is particularly useful if you have long rows or columns whose values ​​you want to add up or compare.

The trick is not to add data, numbers, or information to the table, but above all, to reorganize it so that you get valuable new perspectives. Hence the name “Pivot”, which means “pivot point” or “turn”.

Determine values: Typical questions / FAQ

Although each user and each area of ​​responsibility uses Excel in their way, some functions and tricks are used very frequently, are always useful, and are part of the multiplication table of Excel.

1) standard deviation

The standard deviation measures the spread of data – or, to put it more simply, it indicates the extent to which the measured values ​​deviate from the average cost.

Assume that you have determined the click-through rate of ten ads: The standard deviation gives you an idea of ​​the difference in success between the ten ads.

small standard deviation shows that all ads have approximately the same success. A high standard deviation, on the other hand, should make you pay attention because it means that some ads are more successful than others.

2) VLOOKUP function

The Excel link helps you to combine two data records in different worksheets into a single table. When could that be useful? We give an example:

For example, in a situation in which you have the names and email addresses of contacts available in one table and the same email addresses in a second table, but only the name of the respective company in addition to these. You now want to create a chart that shows all three components, i.e., names, email addresses, and the individual company.

With the VLOOKUP formula (= VLOOKUP), you can now merge the two worksheets without having to copy individual columns or fields laboriously.

3) Sum function

As the name suggests, add values ​​with the sum function. You can add individual costs, the reference to select cells or ranges, as well as a combination of all three. What sounds complicated is very simple, and certainly one of the most used functions in Excel.

We give two examples: 

1) The formula:

= Sum (A2: A10) 

adds up the values ​​in the cells from A2 to A10.

2) The formula:

= Sum (A2: A10; C2: C10)

adds up the values ​​in the cells from A2 to A10

and in cells C2 to C10.

4) Create “IF” conditions

The IF formula can be used to create conditions: is the queried value identical to the expected value or not? If this query is true, a specific case is to occur. If the query is incorrect, another case should occur. So the formula follows logic:

If A, then B, otherwise C.

We will explain it to you using an example.

The basic formula in Excel is as follows:

= IF (check; then value; otherwise value)

Check: There must be a condition here.

Let’s say you want to measure the success of a campaign; your goal is achieved when there are 100 conversions. So your test could be:

Higher than or equal to 100 (> =).

Then value: Here, you enter what should happen if the queried condition is true. You can enter values, words, or other functions here.

But let’s make it easy for this example: When 100 conversions have been achieved, the words “Campaign successful” should appear in the next column. The then value is “campaign successful”. It is important to put the value in  quotation marks (“value”) .

Otherwise value: This third value is optional. Let’s say the next column should say “Campaign unsuccessful” when 100 conversions are not achieved. The otherwise value is then “Campaign not successful”. Don’t forget the quotes here, too!

Your if the formula could then look like this:

= If (A1> = 100; “campaign successful”; “campaign unsuccessful”)

So there are reasons why Excel is still one of the most used applications in everyday office life despite many alternatives, such as special planning tools:

The diverse application options for different business areas from project management to accounting make Excel a valuable tool for companies – regardless of whether their area of ​​activity is in marketing or completely different industries.

And yes, we know it too: Sometimes users are just annoyed when one or the other function doesn’t work right away. But the reasons for this are usually found quickly. And with this article, you already have an overview of the most important functions and formulas at hand.

Featured

How the coronavirus is affecting the digital advertising

A crisis is a moment when the proper drivers and doers differ from the less good ones. We see that these days also in the matter of Corona. And we also see it in the area of ​​digital marketing.

At SwaCash, we currently receive inquiries from companies every day who want to start communicating digitally. It should be quick, in extreme cases, within a few days. It shouldn’t cost that much either, crisis, you understand. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and poor quality should be “authentic.” This argumentation is then congruent with the idea that Mercedes could build more miserable cars because they would be “authentic.”

On the one hand, these inquiries show that the last ones are now waking up and realizing that “digital” has become a necessary marketing discipline. On the other hand, they show that very many believe that this branch cannot be cost-intensive if ordinary people run blogs, produce high-quality videos, or stream live.

Digital marketing costs are not the same as investments.

One thing is overlooked: whether influencers, bloggers, podcasters or brands, companies, companies – they all reap what they have sown over the years. These days, as many are becoming digital to digital in one fell swoop, those who have been dealing with the subject for a long time are doing easier to easy.

Therefore, the cost view needs a different perspective. Of course, it costs almost nothing to stream live with a mobile phone via Youtube. But those who do this with long ranges have been trying out for years, have built a community, and put a lot of brainwash into the technical structure and formats. This cannot be caught up in a few days.

These years of trying out apply to all areas of digital marketing. Because whoever is active here, for whom digital is not another world, but everyday life, develops a different feeling for what is possible – and what is not.

Worst case Adidas vs. Best case zoom

An excellent example of this is the comparison of the crisis communication from Adidas and Zoom. Adidas, it initially seemed, did not want to pay the rent for its stores due to the Corona crisis. Then it was about a deferral; then, only non-private landlords should be affected. It takes days for a real statement to appear. This was hidden on the corporate homepage, which is not intended for consumers, is static, and difficult to read; it was signed with “Your Adidas Team.”

In all seriousness, this text was also published as a newspaper advertisement. Anyone who believes in 2020 that they can overcome such a crisis with print ads has not yet reached the current millennium.

And in the meantime, people vomited on the group’s already mediocre well-run social media accounts, mostly without contradiction, only with some delay did some in the comments notice the reference to the statement on that corporate site.

This image of the rental parasite will cling to Adidas for years and will harm it.

Quite a different zoom.

With the video conference provider, huge security gaps were revealed within three months, given the dramatic growth from 20 million to 100 million daily users.

However, Zoom already has a greater sense of digital communication due to the industry. CEO Eric Yuan spoke up on the company blog quite quickly (or, let’s face it, his communications department on his behalf).

The text is almost five times as long as Adidas’ counterpart and contains clear measures that have already been implemented and others that are still being implemented. An update with further tests followed a week later.  Every week, Yuan also answers questions from interested parties via a webinar. This is how communication works in the digital age.

Even on a small scale: digital experience pays off

Even the smallest ramifications of the economy show that those who have at least laid a foundation for digital communication in the days of Corona fare better, for example, in the catering industry. Several good restaurants gave up their concepts for delivery or pick-up menus due to a lack of interest. Others, who used Facebook and Instagram at least as you do as a restaurateur, experienced from the first day that their guests kept them in line – if you could communicate to them that there are new offers.

At this point, some are even developing new business models. Several yoga and Pilates studios offer courses via zoom – including a view of the trainers at the participants and correction of their posture.

The Cologne-based Einerner “Neobiota” is experimenting with surprise wine packages, which may soon be available as a subscription. Other restaurants open up access to their suppliers and sell boxes of food that average consumers cannot get – a small disruption of their business model.

All of this arises from an underlying feeling for how communication works on the web and how your customers think, what values ​​they expect from their service providers and what can be tried out.

What is missing: creativity

Like Adidas, many brands seem to lack the feeling for the wishes and the value system of their target groups. In a nutshell, everything is currently doing the same thing: TV spots with chubby piano music and the message that we will all do it together and that the brand sees itself as part of this community.

Do not you believe it? Is it too generalized? Then take a look at this collage:

Few companies are currently thinking ahead—an example: the Canadian fast-food chain Mary Brown’s. Instead of merely booking advertising, she concluded a no-paid content deal with a Canadian publishing chain. For two weeks, the paid content barriers fell with the house media, sponsored by Mary Brown’s. Advertising thus becomes an added value, the brand an enabler and not an advertiser who stands in the way of the reader.

And, yes, I am shocked that German publishers are not trying to sell exactly that as an innovative advertising format …

Or Samsung and the online magazine Dezeen: The two launched a competition to make useful things out of packages that may be arriving more frequently than usual.

It is a mystery to me that non-commercial institutions develop more creative ideas than the big names in the advertising and brand world. An excellent example of this is Alba Berlin. With its daily sports lesson for children, the sports club landed a massive hit with up to 1.5 million singles.

The Dyson Foundation, on the other hand, helps parents in the home office with experiments that the offspring can do at home.

For me, it is a mystery why no brand engaged a single musician and called courtyard neighborhoods to apply for a performance by this musician – of course, including the live stream of the concert.

Why don’t companies now produce videos in which their experts, such as natural scientists, business people, or engineers, act as temporary teachers? I think a lot of parents would enjoy this.

  1. Strategy. Now.

However, I am also afraid that if you want to do something digital quickly, you will only be able to succeed to a limited extent. It would be more essential to think long term. We will return to normal at some point. And then even the digital third world country, Bosnia, will have become a bit more digital. Contact less payment will become everyday life; the desire to try out new platforms like Zoom will increase, online retailing will become daily life even in the food sector.

And that’s why now it is less time to do something quickly on the Internet again. Instead, all those companies that have so far neglected digital should first do their strategic homework and get ready for everyday life. Because one thing is sure: the time after Corona will be longer than the time during Corona.

Featured

Sales planning: a comprehensive guide

The determination of sales is one of the essential tools for decision-makers in companies. The sales forecast is the dominant size in the budget and ultimately decisive for the question: How many sales must for which cost budget achieved? Only those who know this can plan realistically, set high goals, and successfully manage a company.

But making realistic forecasts is not an easy task.

In this guide, we explain in detail how you can be sure that your sales planning and sales forecasts are as accurate as possible.

The revenues (including revenue) refers to the sum of all goods sold by a company. All funds and claims that arise from the sale of products or services are included in the turnover. It shows how much money a company has made.

Calculate sales: how does it work?

The formula for calculating sales is straightforward: you simply add up all the income. So everything you bill others and goes to your account or checkout. The result is sales, also called revenue.

What are the sales forecasts?

Sales forecasts are used to predict the sales that individual sales employees, teams, or companies are likely to achieve in a certain period. They help with planning, setting goals, and controlling economic success. They also serve for reporting to the company management as well as members of the board and/or shareholders.

Profit and break-even point

The turnover should not be confused with the profit:

The sales tell you how much money you take without asking how much you have spent. 

 You get the profit if you deduct all of your costs from sales.

The break-even point is particularly relevant in connection with sales and profits. It denotes the point at which purchases and costs are the same. If it is exceeded, there are profits; if it is undershot, there are losses. The break-even point is, therefore, also called profit threshold or benefit threshold.

The break-even point gives you the answer to the question: How much turnover does my company have to generate to cover the fixed costs?

Why are sales forecasts so crucial in your sales planning?

A key advantage of sales forecasts is that they can help identify potential problems relatively early. And that is fundamental to your success because the sooner you learn about a problem, the more likely you are to choke it. For example, sales managers need to find out at an early stage if their employees are having trouble meeting their quotas.

The sooner they become aware that, for example, one of their competitors is threatening to entice their customers away with generous discounts, or that they should revise their new remuneration model because it hurts the motivation of their employees, the better.

Revenue forecasts are also needed to make various decisions – from hiring new employees to resource management to planning goals and budgets.

For example, if your forecast predicts a 26 percent increase in sales opportunities, it would be conceivable to hire additional staff to meet increasing demand. Conversely, it would make sense to temporarily put any recruitment measures on hold should a decline become apparent.

Such a forecast may also suggest investing more in marketing campaigns and/or training your employees on customer acquisition to reverse the negative trend promptly.

Sales planning is a motivation tool

Based on sales forecasts, you can check the progress of your team weekly and compare it with your planning so that you and your team always have an overview of the current status. For employees who have a performance improvement plan in place, it is even a good idea to record their progress daily to prevent them from falling behind.

As mentioned earlier, you should do everything you can to make accurate forecasts. However, this does not mean that you have done something wrong if your assessment ultimately does not fully match your results. In fact, slight deviations are to be expected; after all, you cannot see clearly.

It only becomes problematic when there are apparent discrepancies. But as long as your sales planning is based on reliable data and you choose the right method (see below), your forecasts will provide you with reliable data on how you can effectively grow your business.

Create a sales forecast: Requirements for realistic sales planning

To create accurate sales forecasts, you need the following:

  • Sales targets (at team and employee level)
  • These serve as an objective yardstick for the neutral assessment of the performance of your employees.
  • Clearly defined, documented sales process
  • To be able to predict the likelihood of business deals realistically, all salespeople must follow the same process and a fixed sequence of steps.
  • Uniform definitions of the lifecycle phases that your contacts go through
  • The admission criteria for your individual lifecycle phases (e.g. potential customers, leads, opportunities, customers) must be clearly defined.
  • A CRM system
  • To be able to make accurate predictions about the probability of business deals, CRM is required, in which the individual interactions with contacts can be correctly understood.
  • Shared responsibility
  • If sales reps don’t meet their quota, you should try to get to the root cause.
  • Are your employees not motivated enough, or are they missing something important in the sales process?
  • Are there any blockages?
  • If the situation occurs more frequently, you should examine the set goals to see whether they are realistic at all and adjust them if necessary.

Important factors that influence sales forecasts and sales planning

There are several factors to consider when making sales forecasts.

1) Internal factors

  • HR decisions
  • If you lose employees and cannot replace them quickly enough, you should expect corresponding losses in sales in your next forecast. Conversely, you should be able to plan a significant increase after you have expanded your sales team by a few employees.
  • Policy changes
  • Note that changes such as the introduction of a new compensation model can affect the performance of your sales staff.
  • For example, if you introduce that your salespeople are deprived of commission if customers drop out within the first four months after closing, your sales will temporarily decrease. Because your employees will then only sell to customers whose requirements your products fit perfectly. In the long term, however, this measure will significantly reduce your churn rate so that you can expect an increase again about a quarter later.
  • If you stipulate that your sales staff can only grant discounts until mid-month, the closing rate will be significantly higher in the first two weeks of a month and then fall below the previous value in the remaining two weeks.
  • Responsibility changes
  • When sales reps move to another area, it understandably takes a little while for them to get used to their new area of ​​responsibility, and their pipelines are slowly filling up.
  • In this case, a temporary decline in the completion rate would be expected. But if you have planned the change well, it should recover quickly.

2) External factors

  • competition
  • Companies do not operate in a vacuum, so the successes and failures of their competitors can also have an impact on their results.
  • If one of your competitors offers generous discounts, you may have to catch up to prevent customers from migrating. Conversely, the demand for your products will likely increase if one of your competitors disappears from the market.
  • Economic situation
  • The better the financial situation, the more willing buyers are to invest. If the case is terrible, on the other hand, you have to expect a longer sales cycle because buyers weigh their investments more carefully.
  • Market developments
  • The behavior of your customers can affect the demand for your products. For example, companies that specialize in advising hotels should always be aware of the current trends in the tourism industry.
  • Industry developments
  • This applies, for instance, to complementary products, i.e., products that are in demand because they complement each other. If the price of one product falls, the need for the other increases. An excellent example of this would be computers and software.
  • Changes in the law
  • Since changes in the law can have an impact on the demand for your products, you may also have to take them into account in your forecasts.
  • Product changes
  • If you introduce a new function, a new pricing model, or additional products or services, this will probably have a positive effect on your sales – in the form of a higher average order volume, a streamlining of the sales cycle, or an increase in business transactions.
  • Seasonal factors
  • Depending on who your customers are, they may buy more at certain times of the year so that you may have generally stronger and weaker quarters.

Sales planning: Excel and other tools help

There is various (fee-based) software for sales planning, but Excel can already be a solid start here. Because the numerous templates that are often offered free of charge on the Internet can be of particular service to start-ups and freelancers when starting their sales planning.

For most templates, the sales planning tables are already part of a comprehensive financial plan that includes additional items such as taxes, profits, marketing expenses, and more. This also gives you an overview of costs and revenues that goes beyond sales planning.

Especially when you are at the beginning of your financial planning, the advantages of ready-made formats and tools are obvious: You can start right away without having to worry about the structure of the sales plan and then step through the individual items step by step to let. You just have to fill it out. 

What may still be possible independently in sales planning becomes significantly more demanding when it is integrated into a larger financial plan. Finished formats help you – and since they provide different calculation models, the right format for your business model may already be included.

So our tip is that you look for a template for sales planning that you can work into. Excel may be sufficient for smaller companies, but with larger and more comprehensive financial plans, it may be worth switching to one of the software that offers more options and is usually more intuitive to use.

Sales planning and forecasting methods

  1. Forecasts based on the progress in the sales process
  2. Forecasts based on the average length of your sales cycle
  3. Forecasts based on empirical values
  4. Forecasts based on comparative data
  5. Predictions based on various factors
  6. Predictions based on custom variables

All of these methods offer different advantages, and which approach is appropriate in a particular case depends on various factors.

1) Forecasts based on the progress in the sales process

With this method, you calculate your forecast sales based on the likelihood that contacts will become customers in a certain phase.

The following applies: The further customers have progressed in their purchase decision process, the higher the likelihood that it will be concluded.

If you assume that the purchase is 100 percent, you could weight the agreement of the first analysis interview with 10 percent and planned product presentations with 30 percent.

To forecast your sales for a certain period – be it a month, a quarter, or a year – multiply the potential order volumes for all contacts in your pipelines by the respective probability of completion and then add all the results.

With a potential order volume of EUR 1,000 and a probability of completion of 40 percent, this results in a forecast turnover of EUR 400.

In this way, forecasts can be created quite easily and quickly, but they are also correspondingly inaccurate. Because here it is ignored how long contacts have been in your pipelines.

In this way, all contacts with the same closing date are weighted equally – regardless of whether the first contact was made a week ago or three months ago. So you should be able to rely on your salespeople keeping their pipelines up to date, which is not always realistic.

Another disadvantage of this method is that current internal company developments are not taken into account. If, for example, you make changes to the communication with contacts, products, or your sales process, this can also change the likelihood of completion that previously applied to the individual phases of your sales process.

You also need extensive data on the interactions with your contacts to determine these probabilities. Otherwise, your forecast is more of a guess.

2) Forecasts based on the average length of your sales cycle

With this method, too, you base your calculations on the probability of completion. In this case, however, you determine this based on how much time has passed since the first contact about the average length of your sales cycle.

If your sales cycle is an average of six months long, the probability of closing contacts that have been in your pipelines for three months would be around 55 percent using this method.

One of the advantages of this method is that you leave out the subjective assessment of your sales staff, which automatically makes your forecasts more objective. Because you don’t calculate the likelihood of completion based on the progress of the sales process, it doesn’t matter if salespeople in some cases accidentally move on to the next step too early.

It is also no problem with this method to include several sales cycles of different lengths. Depending on how you won leads, it can take a long time for you to make a decision. This can take around six months for typical inbound leads, perhaps only one month for leads who have been recommended for your product and eight months for leads that have become aware of you at trade fairs. To take this into account, all you have to do is make sure to categorize your contacts by sales cycle length.

It’s important to be able to track exactly when and how leads were added to your sales reps’ pipelines.

Here it is advisable to use a CRM system that can be integrated with your marketing software so that all interactions are logged automatically. Otherwise, your sales reps will have to manually document each step they take, which would take an enormous amount of time.

3) Forecasts based on empirical values

You can also simply ask your sales staff for their assessment.

This has the advantage that you take into account the experience of your sales staff – and they know their customers best. However, caution is required here. On the one hand, the sales staff could be a bit too optimistic, and on the other hand, you have no way of understanding their assessments.

Because you would have to have been involved in the entire sales process, i.e., in every phone call, meeting, or all written communication.

Therefore, this method is mainly useful in cases where there is little or no data, for example, for young companies or after the introduction of a new product.

4) Forecasts based on comparative data

If you need a rough forecast as quickly as possible, you can simply see what sales you generated in the same year (month, quarter, or year) in the past year and then assume that you will generate at least the same sales this year.

So if your team had generated monthly recurring sales (MRR) of 80,000 euros last year in October, your forecast for October this year would be at least 80,000 euros.

To make this forecast somewhat more reliable, you could also take into account sales growth. So if your turnover increases by an average of six to eight euros per month, you would cautiously forecast a turnover of 84,800 euros for November.

However, this method has some shortcomings. For one thingexternal factors, such as the economic situation, are not taken into account, so that your forecast would be void if industry-wide sales were to fall in November.

On the other hand, you automatically assume that there is a constant demand for your products, but this does not necessarily have to be the case. In summary, it can be said that this method only works as long as no unexpected event occurs, and the market is not saturated in the foreseeable future.

Therefore, it is best to use comparative period data only as an approximate measure and not as a direct basis for forecasts.

5) Predictions based on various factors

To get reliable forecasts, it is advisable to consider several factors at the same time, including comparative data, the average length of the sales cycle, the probability of closing based on the progress in the sales process, and also the performance of your individual sales staff.

Here is a simplified example to illustrate this: You have two sales employees, both of whom are currently serving one customer. Employee A has arranged a meeting with her customer’s purchasing manager for Friday, and employee B has just had a meeting in which he presented a product to his customer.

Also, in case A, the progress in the sales process, the relatively large potential order volume, and the number of days remaining until the end of the quarter result in a probability of 40 percent. The forecast turnover is 9,600 euros.

Employee B is still at the beginning of the sales process, and the order volume is lower in his case, but his completion rate is relatively high. This results in a closing rate of 40 percent for him, and sales of 6,800 euros can be expected.

Now you only have to add these two numbers – EUR 16,400 – and you already know what sales you can expect in the next quarter.

Of all the methods mentioned here, this usually gives the most accurate result. The downside is that you need a top-notch analytics tool with rich features, and that can be a problem for companies on a budget. And even if you have an excellent tool, this will only help you if your sales staff document the progress of their contacts conscientiously. Otherwise, your data will not be reliable, nor will your forecasts.

6) Predictions based on user-defined variables

With this method, too, you base your calculations on completion probabilities, but in this case, they are calculated based on user-defined variables. This means that you can also take factors such as the completion rates of your individual sales employees and the respective potential order volumes into account. Again, it is advisable to use appropriate software, since the manual effort would be (too) large. 

If your sales team typically completes deals in a range between $ 5,000 and $ 8,000 over 60 days, then you could increase the likelihood that all of the current deals in your team’s pipeline that fall into that sales category will also close during that period be brought up as very high. You can then use this data to create a monthly or quarterly forecast. 

And as always, your forecasts are only as accurate as of the data on which they are based. It is, therefore, crucial that your sales staff document all interactions in your CRM system. Otherwise, your forecasts will lose significance.

A CRM not only helps you to keep an overview of your current sales and sales goals. You can also automatically log all information about contacting potential customers (emails, calls, social media interactions) – exactly the data you need to determine the likelihood of business deals as accurate as possible.

Featured

This is how artificial intelligence saves content marketing from destruction

Marketers have created a monster that is about to destroy content marketing as we know it. 

And do you know what’s worse? Almost all marketers use content marketing. Yet less than half of B2B marketers feel that their efforts are paying off. We now have a unique chance to take countermeasures.

According to Seth Godin, content marketing is the only marketing approach that we still have. If that is true, we should take this opportunity.

Fortunately, there is an artificial intelligence that can potentially save content marketing from extinction. We have to want it.

Live chats, streaming services, voice assistants, and contactless payment options – which new technologies do consumers want?

Now you probably hope that thanks to this artificial intelligence, you can get rid of the most time-consuming tasks, such as writing.

Not so fast.

High-quality content cannot yet be fully automated. Artificial intelligence can, however, be used to support this.

Some chatbots are already smart enough to collect data that is relevant to us, faster than we could ever do.

GrowthBot, for example, communicates with over a dozen systems and APIs and is already used by over 12,000 marketers.

Yes, artificial intelligence can indeed write entire blog articles independently. There are quite a few such articles. You may have read an article that was written using AI without knowing it.

Associated Press is already using AI to create articles in the sports and finance sectors that contain a lot of statistics.

Engadget put together a million words and a few rules to create a “blogbot” that wrote a complete, if somewhat dry, announcement.

 With their systems for text generation, providers such as retresco offer the option of automating the depiction of a Bundesliga game:

During the break, the home team was in the fairway and booked a strong lead. The first successful action after the change of sides was Kostic, who scored in the 64th minute to make it 2-0 for Frankfurt.

Not so surprising that a machine wrote it, isn’t it?

As far as coherence and creativity are concerned, this is probably the most that AI can do. However, these current restrictions could be an advantage, because too much content doesn’t work either.

What matters is quality. High-quality content provides readers with a unique experience. High-quality content meets your goals and those of the reader. High-quality content stands out.

“The volume of content plays an important role. Companies have to produce a lot of content in various forms and for different channels. However, the quality must not be left behind. To prevail in the flood of information, content has to stand out. “

– Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute

Can AI create content that really stands out from the rest? Not until now. However, AI can help research, edit, and manage so you can optimize your content marketing.

Do you remember Karl Klammer, the paper clip that got on everyone’s nerves ? This paper clip may not have been particularly smart or useful, but it was already announcing a future for content marketing , as Vedant Misra, founder of Kemvi, a machine learning company, imagined:

“Machines help us to produce content. They suggest content elements that we can use when creating content. The author still has the last word, but the generation of ideas and the production process are becoming increasingly automated. Similar to Karl Klammer, the Microsoft Office Assistant, but with a much larger brain. “

While this idea has not yet been fully implemented, the matter is taking shape and could end up being the lifeboat that prevents us from being lost in the flood of content.

AI-powered tools can examine trends and give you clues as to what content your readers would like to read. And these tools can make read suggestions to readers based on their behavior or a host of other data.

But are these tools also able to write entirely new, captivating articles? Yes. Take Atomic AI, for example.

When this intelligent program has enough target audience data for an item (or email, etc.), it calculates readability and provides you with custom, predictive recommendations in real-time.

But of course, that is only the first step. AI is much better at interpreting data than people are.

AI-based platforms derive behavioral patterns from a series of data entries; it would take us years to organize and evaluate.

And that’s not all. These platforms can even show you how to use this knowledge best.

“By analyzing hundreds of data points for a single user (including location, demographics, device, website behavior, etc.), AI can display the right offerings and content.”

Then when you have the perfect personalized content, an intelligent system can give you advice on when, where, and how often you should publish the content to achieve the highest possible effect.

Then everything starts from the beginning with intelligent recommendations on which topics your target group is interested in. These recommendations are based on how users interact with your content.

However, the use of AI is not only limited to the creation of rousing blog posts.

In a study by Evergage and Researchscape International, 70 percent of the companies surveyed said that personalization is the most important of all channels in email marketing.

Fortunately, AI makes it easy to personalize email content based on the topics subscribers are interested in.

In this way, you can ensure that your emails are read.

The user experience and conversion rates can also benefit from intelligent personalization.

With the help of an AI-based platform, you can offer users the entire content and optimal products in every phase. This increases the likelihood of conversion, and the churn rate decreases.

This means that artificial intelligence has the potential to free us from harmful content. This is not to say that we, as content marketers had done everything completely wrong. But maybe we meant it a little too well.

We have created too much content with too small intelligence and are now being presented with the invoice. Consumers have shown us that they expect high quality. And relevant content. You want the perfect solution at the ideal time.

You want engaging content marketing.

Additional help in creating content that stands out from the crowd comes in handy. And AI is the most promising tool because it expands our natural abilities.

Artificial intelligence cannot replace content marketers but supports us in our work.

Featured

8 strategies for the future in content marketing

93% of B2B companies use content marketing.

However, only 5% believe that their measures are also particularly useful.

And an estimated 50% of all content is not used at all.

What went wrong here?

Just a few years ago, you could put 1, 2, 3, or 300 blog articles on your website, direct a lot of traffic to this content via all social media platforms and generate masses of inbound links for this content. Also, you could simply choose a few keywords and quickly achieve a good ranking on Google.

Reaching your target audience and winning new customers was (almost) a piece of cake.

Unfortunately, those days are over.

But these unclouded years are unfortunately over: As Gartner correctly predicted in his hype cycle, we are now at the low point of the disillusionment phase.

Like all the other waves of enthusiasm for specific marketing channels (billboards, TV spots, e-mail, etc.), content marketing first reached its peak, only to then quickly slide towards a new low point.

After massive success for a few early adopters, content marketing was used by more and more companies, and the “new” quickly lost its appeal.

The resistance has increased, but the expectations – at least in marketing – have not entirely evaporated. But the more the marketers cling to it, the more ineffective content marketing becomes.

So how should it go on?

In any case, giving up is not an option. One cannot simply dispose of content marketing in the trash of marketing history thanks to its blurred boundaries, as some other more clearly defined strategies.

If you define content marketing as the strategic distribution of valuable content, it is an integral part of almost all marketing strategies in today’s world.

Content marketing can again become as powerful a tool as it was a few years ago.

But first, we need to understand what has changed since the hype peaked, what obstacles are in our way, and how we can overcome them.

We don’t have to throw away the guide – we just have to revise it thoroughly.

Very easily:

Less is more

One thing is clear: we are drowning in too much content.

Businesses generate more content than ever before; according to a Beckon study, annual growth is 300%.

The problem with that? The need for content among our target group remains the same.

We cannot read, process, and share more and more.

We still appreciate excellent content, but as our needs become more saturated, fewer and fewer content elements still achieve outstanding results.

But that’s not all.

As the study mentioned above shows, only 5% of corporate marketing content generates 90% of customer interactions.

If you do a bit of research on content marketing yourself, you will find many results that point in the same direction, e.g., For example, an average of 19 out of 20 content items get little or no attention, or a team that produces 90% less content would continue to get the same results.

The solution is simple: publish less. Publish correctly. Only publish useful content.

Then you can use the time gained to optimize your evergreen content.

Evergreen content

  • Evergreen content is characterized by the fact that it does not lose its usefulness over time.
  • Temporary content, on the other hand, is only relevant in the short term.

Of course, both types of content have their justification. Brief content provides a breath of fresh air and allows you to react to short-term trends. But it is your evergreen content that helps you achieve the long-term accumulated results that originally made content marketing so valuable.

Of course, it is tempting to continue with our fast-paced online life and continue to produce a flood of temporary content. But relying on these short-term outbreaks of interest is a) expensive, b) time-consuming, and c) unsustainable  – because the results will continue to deteriorate.

Even if a post gets a lot of attention initially, studies show that many shares do not necessarily lead to many links.

Evergreen content, on the other hand, is characterized by the fact that it has been proven to generate the greatest possible amount of organic traffic over time with the least possible effort.

It’s not about focusing 100% on one type of content, but when in doubt, you should invest more in your evergreen content and less in the temporary content.

However, evergreen content must of course also be regularly updated so that it remains current and relevant.

Historical optimization

The process of updating and revising older content to generate more leads and traffic is called “historical optimization “.

This is particularly worthwhile for:

  • Content with a high conversion rate but little traffic
  • Content with a lot of traffic but a low conversion rate
  • Content with poor performance that was generated with a lot of effort

With historical optimization you get the best out of already tried articles.

As you revise content, you should improve: accuracy , timeliness, and scope .

These areas are particularly suitable for revision: headings , text quality , internal and external links , images , meta descriptions and calls-to-action .

On GrowthBot you can find out which keywords you are already ranking for and compare them with the keywords of similar companies.

Your revised content should then be published as brand new (with a new publication date , because Google favors new content).

Dissemination and reprocessing

How you distribute your content is almost as important as the actual content.

If you focus on redistributing existing content, you can achieve the same (or even greater) reach with little effort. At the same time, you can reduce the pressure on your team to create more and more new content.

With this strategy, online magazines such as The Atlantic , whose traffic comes from 50% of content that was not produced this month, have significantly increased their readership .

When it comes to content reprocessing, there are various options: popular evergreen content , newly edited articles , older content that suddenly becomes relevant again, or simply information or studies that continue to be useful.

Everything comes down to the much-quoted definition of content marketing: to support the right target group with the right content at the right time.

If you keep an eye on the current trends, you can judge whether it is worth repeating (or rewriting) a post and how best to disseminate it.

But you shouldn’t just rely on reasonable assumptions. Automated research, for example with GrowthBot, can help you find out what is interesting for your target group. On GrowthBot you can find out, among other things, which articles are currently trending on a certain topic or which posts are viewed the most on a relevant page.

Another useful tool to identify popular content is Ahrefs’ Content Explorer .

Smarter search engine optimization

Nowadays, the main channels for distribution are in the hands of a few large companies, especially Alphabet and Facebook (and their subsidiaries, such as Google or YouTube).

Therefore, we are at the mercy of their algorithms, which are also constantly changing.

  • For example, the Google algorithm has been changed so that “real experts” are rated better for a certain topic than content machines or students who publish a few articles to pay their rent.
  • Search engines (and new technologies such as Amazon’s Alexa) are generally becoming more sophisticated and complex – in the meantime, they can even identify semantically related concepts .
  • Due to personalized search algorithms , it is becoming increasingly difficult to calculate or predict keyword rankings.
  • Google displays highlighted snippets on its search engine results page.
  • Facebook has updated the algorithm for weighting the organic content in the news feed for the same reason, namely to avoid that users go to other websites.

These changes represent a paradigm shift in search engine optimization.

The first step is of course that your content is interesting and relevant, not only to appear as high as possible in the search results, but also to motivate your readers to go from the search engine results page to your page .

But that alone is no longer enough these days.

Use topic clusters

To position yourself as a “real expert,” you have to focus consistently on a certain topic and not just produce one-time articles that are aimed at certain keywords.

Topic clusters have already been hailed as the future of search engine optimization and content strategy, but the data situation is still fairly uncertain. (So ​​now is the right time to get started!) Topic clusters are groups of related website content that cover a core area. Each cluster has a Pillar page that broadly outlines the topic and more specific supporting content that points back to the Pillar page.

The core content links to the subordinate content and this in turn links back to the core content, whereby the same keyword is always used as anchor text .

If one of the pages performs well, this has a positive effect on the ranking of the entire topic, which in turn leads to more visitors, a positive feedback loop and even more traffic and conversions.

This in turn has a positive effect on the ranking of similar content on your website, which can even lead to your company occupying several positions on the search engine results page for a certain keyword.

The organization and architecture of a website is made clear through the introduction of topic clusters. It also encourages a more conscious approach to posting content.

In the past, content was usually posted because it was interesting or current. With the introduction of topic clusters, however, organic gaps in the cluster can now be used as a strategic starting point.

Highlighted snippets

highlighted snippet is the search result with the best ranking, which is displayed in a field below the advertisements on Google. It is intended to answer a user’s question immediately.

It is of course no surprise that highlighted snippets get a lot of attention: Ben Goodsell from RKG Merkle , for example, saw a 677% increase in sales among organic visitors and a 400% higher click rate .

Ahrefs reports in a study that 99.58% of the highlighted snippets are already in the top 10 on Google. So if you already have a good ranking, your chances are good.

As detailed in this excellent Moz guide , there are tons of ways you can optimize your content and increase your chances of appearing as a highlighted snippet on Google, for example: keyword research , on-page SEO , Twitter observation , structure , format and images .

It is also important that you answer as many similar questions as possible .

You can also search for relevant snippets from other companies and try to be mentioned in them.

Also very useful is the “Asked also” function, which you can use to find out what Google links. This enables you to discover untapped content potential and develop strategies for the future.

Facebook

Facebook has completely changed the value chain in digital advertising by combining pay-per-click with recommendation algorithms.

According to a study by Buffer , the new Facebook algorithm is based on three active interactions: commenting , sharing and reacting .

Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, explains : “Posts that lead to conversations between people move up in the news feed.”

On the other hand, companies should avoid posting content in which they lure their customers so that you can comment on, share or otherwise react to the post, as this will cause their content to slide further down the news feed.

The interactions must arise out of genuine interest and not just in response to a tempting offer.

Incidentally, the algorithm makes no distinction between privately and publicly shared content.

For most companies, reach and referral traffic will continue to decline. So maybe it’s time to think about the budget and resources you’re investing in Facebook.

There is no secret recipe – to be successful, your content simply has to be authentic, relevant (and usually appealing).

Brian Peters from Buffer sums it up : “Instead of developing content for a company with which people should then interact, we have to generate content for people who trigger enough emotion in them to comment on or share the post.”

We have to break out of our rut

The final hurdle is our dependence on the same worn methods. This strategy may have worked in the past, but it no longer does today.

It is therefore extremely important to continuously test different channels and strategies for customer acquisition.

In doing so, you build up a wealth of experience that you can always fall back on when your current strategy needs to be revised or exchanged.

This experience also benefits you if you want to open up new target groups or find out more about the interests of your target group.

Here are some suggestions you can try.

Conversational marketing

Conversational marketing means that you have a personal conversation with a customer or prospect.

According to a recent study by Twilio  , 90% of customers would like to communicate with companies via messenger apps. Platforms such as drift or intercom enable this communication to be scaled.

This also clearly shows how the distribution of content has changed. The idea that the customer receives the right content at the right time, d. H. when he just asked about it , it has become a reality.

Alex De Simone, CEO of Avochato, said: “We are seeing increasing machine learning technologies that help marketers deliver customized content for each customer. This paradigm shift from traditional content marketing to AI-supported conversational marketing will radically change the work in marketing and enable marketers to provide better content in a scalable manner.

Video marketing

Video is already the fastest growing and most sought after channel today. Many experts are convinced that video will be the most important content marketing platform of the future.

In a world where everything is becoming more and more automated, the video also appears to be one of the last communication channels in which nothing can be faked.

Not convinced yet? The numbers speak for themselves:

  • In 2019, the video will account for more than 80% of web traffic.
  • 96%  of consumers say that videos are helpful when making a purchase decision.
  • Digital marketing expert James McQuivey estimates that a single minute of video content is worth 1.8 million words.

Websites such as Simpleshow and GoAnimate are a good place to start.

Video marketing is so effective because it appeals to two senses – seeing and hearing – at the same time, so users can remember it better than plain text. And when customers remember your video, they remember your brand.

Emerging technologies

Emerging technologies will be mainstream over the next two years, opening up entirely new opportunities for content optimization.

By 2021, early adopters who redesign their websites to support both visual and voice searches will increase their digital commerce sales by 30%.

Also, experts say augmented/virtual reality will generate $ 150 million by 2020, which is just further evidence that visual content will evolve from an optional to an indispensable element in marketing.

Although virtual reality is still completely unknown territory for most, its unstoppable advance should serve as a warning to us to continuously experiment with visual content, such as interactive graphicsimagesvideos, and apps.

As Ginny Mineo puts it nicely, you should: “Adjust the weighting in your strategy between organic, regular, and experimental content channels.”

If you want to be successful as a content marketer in the future, you have to be able to learn from the past and quickly adapt to the present.

Content marketing will go through a fundamental transformation process and will use AI and new technologies to provide selective content of even higher quality.

 

Featured

12 ways to be recommended by customers

Consumers like to talk about their experiences with companies – and this raises the question of what you can do to ensure that your company scores positively in these conversations.

When consumers face a buying decision, 83% of them rely on the opinion of family and friends. In this light, it doesn’t seem particularly smart to rely solely on marketing activities to attract interested parties.

It is essential to use the proven effect of word of mouth for yourself. Therefore, many companies use customer referral programs to encourage more customers to recommend their brands, which in turn leads to more qualified potential customers. Because they naturally trust people, they already know more than they would ever imagine your ads. This is an inexpensive way of acquiring customers for your company.

1. Use LinkedIn

With a little preparation, you are more likely to get recommendations than if you simply ask for it.

When you approach a customer, you should already have a name or company that you want to contact in mind. So your customers don’t have to worry about it. Practical help is the extended search for people from LinkedIn. This makes it easy to find second-degree contacts that your customers can introduce to you.

To do this, click on the search bar at the top of the page and select “People” from the dropdown menu. Now you can filter your search for second-degree contacts or additional information such as industry, job title, keywords and location. This gives you a list of potential referral opportunities from which you can select suitable candidates and suggest them to your customers.

2. Look for opportunities for the positive feedback

The best recommendations come from situations where customers have seen the value you can offer them.

You probably wouldn’t ask your boss for a raise if you didn’t meet your monthly targets. For the same reason, it is not advisable (or effective) to ask a customer for a recommendation after disappointing their expectations.

You have the best chance of success if you keep your customers up to date with the results they achieve with your products or services. Satisfied customers are happy to recommend your brand. It starts with a successful onboarding process that gives customers a clear idea of ​​what they can expect at what time and what is required for it.

Then try to combine the request for a recommendation with positive customer experiences.

If you have just been able to tell your customer that your products or services will help them generate higher monthly earnings – ask them directly to recommend your company.

What if you couldn’t reach all the key figures that you had jointly defined for the quarter? Then wait with your request for a better time.

3. Provide a template

Don’t forget that your customers are probably busy (that’s why they work with you, right?).

So instead of making your request for a recommendation and hoping that your customers will eventually find time, be proactive and do some of the work for them.

You can get the ball rolling with an email template like the following example:

[Addressee],

I may have mentioned that I’ve been working with [your name] for a few months. We had talked about some of the issues we shared with [your name] before, and it occurred to me that I should introduce you two to each other. So …

[Addressee], that is [your name with the URL of your LinkedIn profile].

[Your name], that is [addressee, with the URL of a LinkedIn profile].

I’ll leave the rest to you.

See you soon.

If your customer is not convinced of the idea, do not push them further.

4. Respond to positive feedback

In order for you to get more recommendations, you have to prove to be recommended.

To ensure that you really meet the requirements and expectations of your existing customers (better: surpass them), you should absolutely get feedback and react to it regularly.

SurveyMonkey is software for online surveys. It allows you to easily create and distribute customer satisfaction surveys – so you always know what you are doing well and where there is room for improvement.

Before starting a survey, think carefully about how and where you want to position it. After all, you want to get honest and accurate answers. So write useful questions for the survey and choose the right survey type that fits your needs.

5. Spread your content and resources

According to the Google study on the “Zero Moment of Truth”, consumers deal with an average of ten content elements before making a purchase decision. This means that most of your customers used many of the resources that you put together so painstakingly before they become your customers.

This shows how important it is to strategically disseminate this content so that it can attract qualified prospects. And since your potential customers are already using your offered content, you can use a simple link such as “Share with a friend” in the automated emails about your offers or on your thank-you pages to ensure that your content is disseminated among potential customers.

By making it as easy as possible for your customers to pass on their resources to their qualified contacts, even before the deal is closed, you are always one step ahead.

6. Offer potential advocates different options

If you encounter resistance when asking for customer recommendations, first distance yourself and allow your customers time. It is not so important for you to know the reason for the rejection, and you should respect the “no”.

After a while, however, you could approach customers with another proposal to gain them as advocates without them specifically recommending your brand to anyone. Instead, you could write a review, make yourself available for a case study, or write a testimonial.

This means less effort for customers but can still help your company generate more potential leads. And a respectful relationship with customers is not jeopardized. Ask them what they would easily share and try to put their positive feedback on your website or social media.

7. Set up a customer loyalty program

It will probably be your most loyal customers who recommend your company most often and most likely. By setting up a program that rewards you for your loyalty and recommendations, you can show your gratitude and appreciation to exactly these customers.

Such a system can be point-based, but can also simply consist of free premium membership. No matter how you design the program in detail, make sure that your customers feel valued. You will then be more inclined to support you.

8. Consider your customers’ values

Before you ask them for a recommendation, find out what is important to your customers. Then you can adapt your incentive or thank you accordingly and convey to the customers what positive effects their recommendation could have.

An example: Your customers use your product for charity projects or are involved in private or professional work as an advocate for a good cause. In that case, you could offer a donation on behalf of customers as a thank you for a recommendation. Small gestures like this show your customers that you have more than just a business relationship – a partnership.

9. Exceed expectations

Word of mouth is the most effective way to get recommendations for your business. In essence, however, it only works with loyal customers, and you have to earn them.

For your customers (or potential customers) to rave about your service and like to talk about it, you have to inspire them.

Pull a leg out for your customers. Not only by sharing their goals with them, but also by sharing their content on social media, quoting them on your blog, and proving to be an essential resource for you. If you succeed, your customers will automatically spread their positive opinions about your brand.

10. Set up a customer referral program

An official customer referral program is a great way for businesses to be proactive in generating recommendations. Such a program also shows that you are convinced of your products and services as well as of your team, and this will not remain hidden from your customers.

Also, such a program provides a clear structure for recommendations, which removes obstacles for customers and thus encourages them to recommend your company to their networks.

11. Recommend other companies

Conversely, if you ask your customers to recommend your company, they may expect the same from you. By offering to recommend other companies to your customers, you create an equivalent exchange.

But be careful: if you pass your customers on to other companies, your reputation and good relationships are at stake. So you need to be sure that you only recommend companies that you can be sure that they will deliver what they promise.

12. Offer incentives

Hardly anyone likes to work without getting something in return.

If your customers go to the trouble of finding suitable contacts for a recommendation in their networks, you should reward them for it.

Your customers deserve a thank you for helping you connect with qualified leads. For example, it could be a voucher for Starbucks or Amazon, a free subscription for a month, or just plain cash.

One way to create such incentives is through formal referral agreements. These can be a good source of new leads for your company as they create a system that rewards influential customers.

Referral agreements

What is a referral agreement?

A referral agreement is a contract between a company and a third party that the company agrees to reward the third party for successfully recruiting new leads. Both sides are suitable on terms that are acceptable to them and officially sign the agreement. This is an ongoing relationship from which both the company and the third party can benefit.

What should be included in a referral agreement?

When you set up a referral agreement, you should include the following elements in your template:

  1. A heading that contains the name of your company and the respective third party and the date of the agreement. The usual legal formalities.
  2. A description of the relationship between the parties involved, with the company as the owner of the capital and the third party as an external “service provider”.
  3. The definition and requirements for the mediated contacts. Do you have to become a customer, or does the agreement already apply to the status as a lead? Recommendations do not necessarily have to lead to new customers, so it is important to note when the agreement comes into effect.
  4. A description of how the external party is remunerated. This can be about a fixed amount per lead, or the quality of a lead can determine it. In some cases, the reward is only paid when the leads become customers.
  5. Conditions for the premium payment, such as whether there is a certain period in which the payment must be made. If mediated leads must first become customers before the premium is paid, it is important to note the period in which the conversion to the customer must take place. If brokered leads become customers within this period, the agreement applies, and a premium is paid.
  6. Does the agreement apply to repeated conversions if a previously referred customer buys from the company again? If you pay premiums in such cases, you may be able to motivate your partners to mediate leads of higher quality.
  7. Whether the agreement is exclusive or not. If you don’t want your customers to have similar agreements with other companies, you should record that.
  8. A confidentiality or confidentiality clause. This can prevent the parties involved from disclosing confidential information while the agreement is valid. This can also act as protection for intellectual property that may be compromised under such agreements.

When should a referral agreement be used?

An Amazon coupon as a reward for finding new leads is probably not a sufficient basis for a referral agreement. This should be reserved for large customers or accounts and cases in which the parties involved significant exchange amounts of money. Then an official agreement creates collateral and ensures that the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Featured

11 strategies for positive customer reviews for your company

Customers’ buying decisions are influenced by many factors.

We all know that: we ask friends and acquaintances whether we should buy something or not. Maybe they have a recommendation – or a warning. And of course, we thoroughly research the various options on the Internet.

Online shopping is quick and so smooth that contact with sales staff is no longer necessary. The Internet practically takes on the role of the sales staff. And that has a significant impact on whether a customer buys from you or not.

Your company’s most effective marketers and salespeople aren’t necessarily employees of your company – they’re your existing customers. 

Customers have less and less trust in companies. HubSpot Research was able to show that customers trust recommendations from friends and family rather than the marketing and advertising campaigns of brands and companies. According to a study by BrightLocal, 85% of consumers believe online reviews as much as personal recommendations, if no one from the social environment has a tip at hand – making them the most trustworthy and credible “advertising” there is.

According to HubSpot Research, 60% of consumers rate customer reviews as “trustworthy” or “very trustworthy.” So if a company manages to collect a lot of positive reviews, the chances are that customers will choose to buy from that company.

The BrightLocal study mentioned earlier also found that positive customer reviews gave 73% of consumers greater confidence in a company, and 57% of customers visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews. For companies to not only survive in today’s highly competitive market, which is primarily determined by online sales but also to grow, they need satisfied customers who disseminate positive reviews so that other consumers visit the company’s website.

Fortunately, customers are usually more than happy to help: 68% of the 74% of customers who asked for feedback was willing to do so, according to BrightLocal. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers a favor – you just have to ask them, and they’ll most likely be happy to help.

So how do you get your customers to write the positive reviews that help you get more deals? How can you ensure that your customers are so satisfied that they also respond to the request for a review? In this article, you will learn which strategies you can use to get positive customer reviews.

1) Provide different review options

Make sure potential customers can learn about your business before they visit your website, no matter where they start researching online before making a purchase.

There are some third-party websites that consumers like to visit to learn about a company or product:

1. Yelp

BrightLocal found that consumers in the United States considered Yelp and Facebook to be the most trusted sources of customer reviews. But you should also register your company for target groups from other countries and always keep the entry up to date. For information on how to take over a business listing  (or add your business if it’s brand new), see Yelp for Owners.

Don’t forget to check what feedback you get from this profile regularly. Responsive owners are highlighted by their average response time and response rate, and this can be an argument for readers to become customers with you.

2. Facebook

You should also use your company’s Facebook page so that potential customers can find you and learn more about you without leaving their social network. This platform also rewards responsiveness, so it is best to have an employee responsible for keeping an eye on all incoming messages on the channels that you want to optimize for customer acquisition.

3. Google

Also, use Google My Business to register your company in the world’s largest search engine. This is how potential customers can find you when they search for information on Google or use Google Maps. (This is particularly important for companies that are not only active on the Internet but have “real” branches and therefore want to attract walk-in customers.) Reviews are also written on Google.

4. Amazon

If you are an Amazon seller, you should, of course, also claim and adapt your Amazon page. 

Amazon displays a variety of search results for different searches. Make sure that your Amazon page conveys the history of your company correctly, as you can see it on your website. If a buyer finds your brand through an Amazon search, your page should include product details, testimonials, and reviews.

5. Yellow pages

In the “Yellow Pages,” many will think of the useful old direct mail items and a tome made of wafer-thin recycled paper, depending on where they live. But far from it, the yellow pages are also available as a digital business directory across World.

Companies can set up a start entry there free of charge, which receives an increased ranking in the hit list with their branch in your location for three months. After three months, this “starter bonus” is reduced (it can be extended against payment), but the entry remains.

If there are rating websites specific to your industry, you should also use them. Examples are TripAdvisor for travel and hotels, G2 Crowd, GetApp and Capterra in the software industry or gastronomy for restaurants. Make sure that your contact information, a link to your website, business hours, and offers can also be found on these more specific websites.

2. Optimize content

Satisfied – or dissatisfied – customers can write reviews on third-party websites without being asked.

It should also be easy for customers to leave reviews when they visit your site.

Optimize your website, blog articles, online profiles, and emails so that customers can quickly and easily find a way to write a review:

  • Set up widgets to direct visitors to your YelpFacebook, and Amazon sites to read and write reviews.
  • Optimize your website for mobile devices  – this is important for visitors who come to your website while they are active on their smartphone in social networks or searching the Internet.
  • When emailing customers for a review, be brief.

3. Create incentives

Time is valuable. Not just yours, but also that of your customers. Therefore, you should give them a reason for a review.

Even if a lot of customers would probably write you a review without receiving anything in return … it won’t hurt if you offer them an incentive. This can be a discount code or a voucher code, participation in a competition with even better prices, or gift cards for coffee, online shopping, or even plain cash. 

4. Ask at the right moment

You get the best reviews if you ask customers at the appropriate point in their purchase process.

It depends on the right time: if you ask at the wrong moment, a customer may write a negative review, which may read hundreds of potential customers who are considering whether or not to buy from you.

Ask your customers for a review if they just had a positive experience with your brand, for example:

  • after experiencing or reporting success with your product or service
  • when you buy or order something again
  • after tagging your brand in a social media post
  • if they are visiting your website (again) and find out about other products or services
  • if they have recommended your company to other customers through a referral program

These are just a few examples of situations that can give you information about your customers’ satisfaction. And in such moments, customers would most likely write a positive review.

In this Etsy example, customers are asked a month after they buy something there if they want to leave a review. In this case, it was gifted for a hen party, and there was enough time in a month to find out if the product was a success.

However, this period would be too long for other products or services. The Lyft taxi app usually sends a request to rate the experience immediately after the end of a journey. And the language learning app Duolingo asks for a rating in the app store after users have completed a lesson or reached a milestone.

5. To meet the customers

Don’t email your customers asking them to write a positive review on Yelp.

Your request should show customers the exact way to the platform they should choose for a review. So if you ask for a customer review in an email, add a link that will take customers directly to where they can post that review. If you would like reviews for your Facebook page, you could send the request via Messenger. If it is unavoidable to ask for a review via another platform, integrate the desired platform as well as possible: Link to your Yelp page in your email signature or write to customers who have something on your Amazon site bought a follow-up email.

This request for a review comes from a seller on Amazon – along with a few tips on how to get the most out of the recently purchased product:

6. Get started with open questions

Don’t fall straight into the house and ask for a customer review.

Better start a conversation. The best way to do this is with an open question.

“How satisfied are you with the product?” Or “Would you like to order the product again?” Or “How did you find contact with customer service?” – with such questions, you get the conversation going and can better assess how satisfied the customers are before you ask them for a review.

And that has two advantages:

  • You get helpful feedback from your customers.
  • You don’t accidentally ask for a review before you learn that customers have had a negative experience with your company.

With open questions, you collect customer feedback and can also make sure that customers are satisfied before prompting them to write a review. Of course, negative reviews cannot be completely avoided. However, if there are customers that you need to help with a problem first, focus on that before asking for an evaluation of your business.

7. Answer all reviews – even the negative ones 

Mistakes can happen to anyone, and sometimes they cause customers to leave a devastating one-star rating on your website, on Facebook, or Yelp.

Take the time to think carefully about such an assessment. Do not be defensive, but try to find a solution. If you work in customer service, this is the right way – your company can benefit in the long term.

The Harvard Business Review found that companies that respond negatively to reviews online actually get better reviews overall. Not only is human being wrong, so are your customers. Sensitive, empathetic customer service hits a nerve with customers and leads to a slight increase in overall ratings – and especially positive ones.

8. Share existing positive customer reviews

When you get the first positive reviews from your customers, use the momentum, and share this feedback so that other customers may do the same.

On Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Glassdoor, and many other review sites, owners (and website visitors) can rate reviews as helpful. Well-rated reviews are shown higher up on the website and are therefore read by more visitors. Therefore, you should regularly rate positive reviews as helpful so that the best is always displayed on your company’s page.

You can also share positive reviews on your brand’s social media channels to reach your target audience. Or share positive Facebook reviews in a post on your page or positive design reviews as quotes for Instagram for your followers.

Social proof is an effective marketing tactic – when customers see other people like you share reviews; they are more likely to do the same. So not only should you ask for new customer reviews, but you should also ensure that the positive reviews you receive are disseminated through the different channels of your brand.

9. Give customers a positive review

If you want to get customers to write a review, go ahead and write a review about the customers.

Depending on the industry or product, this is not always possible, but in many cases, you can motivate customers to return the favor.

If your product or service is suitable for evaluating customer profiles – as is the case with Uber and Airbnb, for example – leave a positive rating so that the customers do the same. Of course, you don’t have to do this for uncomfortable customers, but if you want to get more reviews, it often helps to take the first step.

Another great option is to recommend your customers on LinkedIn. If you work in customer support and deal with certain customers over a long period, you can give a recommendation or support on LinkedIn. Both are extremely helpful for your branding and could lead you to reciprocate and leave a positive review for your company. And if customers thank you for the recommendation, you can politely ask them to write a review on another platform.

Customer: Thank you for recommending me on LinkedIn! I appreciate that.

Account manager: You’re welcome! I have enjoyed working with you over the past few months, and I just wanted others to know what your ace in web design is. I hope you enjoyed working with me, too – and if so, I’d be happy to review our product on G2 Crowd.

This strategy is particularly recommended if you have built a real relationship with a customer over a long period. If a practically unknown person arbitrarily recommends customers on LinkedIn, this can easily seem scary and will not result in these customers making recommendations on their part.

10. Ask customers personally

If you work as a Customer Success Manager or hold a leading position in customer care and were able to establish a close relationship with your customers, you can ask your customers to write a review in a personal conversation.

A good opportunity, for example, is when you go out to dinner with a customer or invite him to an event at your company. Have a casual chat and add a question to ask if your product or service has worked. (Ideally, you already know from your regular conversations whether the customers are successful or not – and then ask those who you know have achieved their goals.)

If your customers are satisfied, tell them that their opinion and loyalty is important to them. And then ask if a positive review would help you reach potential new customers. Take another look at the beginning of this article. Most customers like to write a review – you just have to ask them.

11. Organize an event

User conferences or industry events that add real value to your customers in addition to the products or services you sell are a great opportunity to personally ask for reviews (as described in the strategy above). With such an event, you create conditions under which customers are happy to write a positive review.

Help your customers to an inspiring and helpful experience, in which they can make contacts, get to know new products first, use discounts, and meet their contacts in your company personally. Your customers will be in a positive mood, and you will most likely get more reviews. You could even incorporate customer reviews into your post-event feedback process: After your customers take part in a survey to evaluate the event, ask them if they want to share a few highlights of the event on a public rating website.

Featured