Episode 2 — July 2019 Growth Report

Source: https://www.autogrow.co/july-2019-growth-report/

As I write this, my team and I are 9 weeks into this new journey we started at the beginning of June.

For those who don’t know, I recently relaunched AutoGrow’s productized Done-For-You service.

The “destination” we’re headed for is getting clearer every day.

Our short-term vision is to build a scalable service to help busy business owners like you, plan, create, and optimize your sales funnels on an ongoing basis.

It has been an amazing journey filled with lots of powerful lessons and painful mistakes, but, how’d we do this last month?… 

Well, so far we’re doing great. 

We staffed up a handful of people these past weeks. The team is only getting stronger and more solid as we get the right people in the right roles (still working on that and you’ll see why).

But I also had to remove several people from the team because of UNACCEPTABLE behaviors… 

I’ll share what I learned from those uncomfortable but necessary situations… 

Revenue-wise, we grew our monthly recurring revenue (MRR) from ~$5,400 to $13,493, which is a 250% increase. I’ll tell you how this was possible… 

I think that is pretty great but I’m not ready to “drink the Kool Aid” just yet (ever? haha). What I mean is, this is a tough business model to start up and scale, and I’ll tell you more below about some of the challenges we’ve faced and how we’re already overcoming them.

In addition, I’ll tell you some really interesting story anecdotes from working with my team and the clients, that I am sure you’ll relate to.

Let’s go! 

Performance

MRR for July is up 250% (we went from 3 clients to 7 client accounts in just one month).

Revenue overall is up from ~$8,900 to $15,636.95 (a 64% increase).

This was all possible because of the extraordinary effort the team and I have put on the company and the extra hours of hard work I have invested in all of our clients.

We now have 7 active clients using our service and we’ve already earned a fistful of testimonials.

One client canceled, but I’m proud to say it had nothing to do with us. In fact, he actually gave us a powerful testimonial.

The Best Company I’ve Ever Worked With” one said, along with a detailed 5-star review, and the well-earned compliment that he’d recommend us to anyone.

But focusing solely on our Done-For-You service has made the revenue for our products go WAY down. Here’s why:

Until the end of last month, we totally neglected to keep up with publishing new content.

I felt sort of bad about this since we’d had a very consistent streak of publishing at least one article weekly since 2014.

Still, it was sort of necessary. 

Hiring, selling, systemizing, QAing deliverables to clients, updating the website—all took up way a ton of time and simply were a higher priority.

Plus, compared to 2017 when we launched an earlier version of the Done-For-You Funnel Service, our traffic is 2X higher now. So, inbound lead generation hasn’t been our top concern. 

Leads came in steadily right from the start.

Now that we’re publishing new and valuable content once weekly again, I expect $1,100 in revenue to rise significantly in August.

So far, it’s definitely up but I want to see us get back to $3,000 at least in the short term.

The focus since the beginning of June has been on providing a high-quality service to each new clients as they sign up, though.

I’ll admit that focusing on the quality of work and quality of the experience was *not* our top priority with the previous version of the service in 2017. We were much more growth-focused! And that was a mistake…

But we’ve 110% corrected for it now, and we are earning weekly testimonials as a result of our triple quality check guarantee.

In a short amount of time, we’ve really invested (developing internal systems) to make quality assurance part of the DNA of our company and the service. 

I think this is what will help us stand out from any copycats long term since we launched the web’s FIRST productized funnel service back in 2015.

I got the idea to make quality assurance a focus because (1) if I were a client of our service, high-quality work is what I’d expect, and (2) we have been re-enforcing our current service from studying the negative reviews of such copycat companies that sprung up after us—and other productized / scalable services in general.  

As I already alluded to, we’ve earned a fistful of testimonials from clients already, so it’s more work but it is definitely paying off.

In the near future, as we grow, I want to tally up the leads / sales we’re generating for clients and use that as a measure of our impact in these Growth Reports as well.

Afterall, it’s cool to share how AutoGrow is doing, but I think it adds to our story and is more interesting to you if I include stories and examples of our work.

For example, here are 5 recent lead generation / sales landing pages we have launched or are about to launch for clients:

Clients are definitely very happy with all the time we’re saving them too. From what they tell me, that’s also a huge value add. 

I’ve learned that the people who don’t recognize how valuable this aspect is (i.e. we plan, create, optimize everything in the funnel—top-to-bottom), the are not our target market.

For instance, here’s what one client said:

“A key piece that people don’t realize is that every little decision you have to make along the way of setting up a funnel is a potential rabbit hole to get stuck in. Especially those of us cursed with perfectionist tendencies. And once you go down a rabbit hole chunks of time magically disappear. You guys are the rabbit hole prevention team.” – Brian Maiolo, Hardnut Advertising

Process

I’ve been doing a lot of financial modeling and projections in a spreadsheet recently. 

The analytical side of my brain loves this because numbers are so “perfect” and “beautiful”…

“What’s that? $4 Billion in revenue in 4 years? Sounds wonderful.”

But then the more realistic and experienced entrepreneurial side of my brain says: shut up Matt and get back to work—because HEY, those numbers? Yeah, those numbers = a ton of hard work.

Our process right now is to set a cap on the number of new clients we can take on each month.

This helps ensure we grow fast enough, but not too fast where “the wheels come off”. It also helps us make sure every client gets high-quality work and a great experience.

Setting a cap like this is also something I teach as a marketing tactic in my most recent ebook (and audiobook) “Productize & RELAX.”

The idea is, that as a service, most people see the inability to take on infinite clients as a disadvantage. But, this is actually an advantage.

By the way, if you want to save yourself a ton of time and “AutoGrow” your leads and sales, we have 2 out of 3 spots left for this month. One of those will be taken soon.

Check out our Done-For-You Funnel Service here.

We started documenting and writing down large portions of our work systems. It’s incremental though. We’ve already locked down much of the process, but we’re also making improvements to it daily.

For that reason, my project manager, Belle and I are working with each team member individually to help them learn the workflow.

Mistakes still pop-up this way, but it allows us to stay flexible and quickly optimize tasks or the workflow in general.

The engineer in me wanted to diagram and document everything on day 1, but I’m glad I held off on that.

This is also me to practice what I preach, as it related to what I teach in “Productize & RELAX.”

People 

This might sound odd to some of you… or you might nod your head and say “I know exactly what you mean”… 

But one of the things I’m most proud of in my personal and professional growth recently in being able to tell people NO.

What I mean by that is:

  • No, this copy or landing page doesn’t meet our standards, we need to make it better.
  • No, disappearing for 2 days when we’re expecting an update form you is not ok.
  • No (to people applying to work with us who don’t have the right experience, attitude, attention to detail, etc.)

In the past, I used to have poor standards for our team. I used to be shy when it came to saying NO to someone.

Maybe I was simply avoiding what I saw as conflict.

MaybeI didn’t set the bar (“This is good work and where we want to be, up here—and this over here is not acceptable) because, I worried that losing someone would “throw the business into chaos”.

But, as it turns out, saying “the bar is up here” actually makes the best people stay, and it works (almost) automatically to remove the people who aren’t performing well.

We are currently hiring (for the Strategist, Content Writer, and Project Manager positions in particular) and place the right people in the right roles because for us, someone who’s just “going thru the motions” is not a fit for AutoGrow. 

On the other hand, people who are excited to learn, grow, do their best work, AND yes, earn $ are a fit.

For instance, we’ve gone through a few copywriters in just the last two months.

And by a few, I mean 4. XD

By the way, I’m not shy to share this info because this is a BIG part of the value we bring to clients. Because if it wasn’t AutoGrow streamlining the hiring process behind the scenes, the client would have to deal with it, and that would be a BIG waste of time for them to go through all the hiring, interviewing, managing, etc.

I won’t mention any names here. But I will tell you all about these challenging situations. Hopefully you can learn from my experience…

  • Our first copywriter simply was not a copywriter. She was a content writer with too many grammar errors.… BYE! That was the fastest I’d ever removed someone from the team, and it was the right call.
  • Our next copywriter was very responsive and wrote quickly… unfortunately, he asked to be paid a ridiculous hourly rate which didn’t work with our model and was not win-win at all. I tried to find a win-win solution since I liked him, but he wouldn’t budge. SEE YA!
  • The next copywriter was always annoyed by the feedback the editor and I would give him to make his copy better and more persuasive. He was a nice guy and actually improved a lot as we pushed him, but he wasn’t willing to meet our standard. We parted ways soon after that became clear.. 
  • Finally, we had a  content writer in training to be a copywriter would disappear for long periods of time, DAYS. She wouldn’t reply to our requests for updates, and didn’t deliver the work on time. So that was the end of that. Some people fire themselves.

One thing all of this has taught me is that a lot of copywriters actually do not know as much as they should about how to write persuasive copy

And that’s the key difference between a content writer and a copywriter. 

A copywriter SELLS. A content writer primarily educates and communicates.

As a result of facing and solving these difficult situations, we’re becoming more and more rigorous with the hiring process, and I’m putting together a detailed training process for new copywriters. I think we’ll probably sell it to our email list too as its own training product in the future.

Long story short, at the beginning of this month, we hired Alex as our new copywriter, and copywriting has been TOTALLY removed as a bottleneck in the process. He’s doing great and is really a pleasure to work with.

Plus, our QA Editor enjoys editing copy again 🙂

Still, we need to keep improving our hiring process to attract more talented, serious people in the future. And we will have to figure out how to do it 100X faster than we do today.

Stay tuned…

This is where product development comes in.

Turning AutoGrow into a Truly Scalable Service for Busy Business Owners

As we grow, we need a better way to keep track of client tasks and tracking results.

So, we’re building a piece of software to help us do it.

You can actually get on the waiting list from our Pricing page to try it.

I’d say that was another minor win for the month of July by the way—hiring a developer and he learned what I coded so far for the AutoGrow App. He began work on a few new features too.

We’re currently using Trello + Gmail to communicate with our clients, but I want to centralize everything and automate tracking of results as well for after we launch our funnels.

It will also give our clients an amazing experience because they can send us tasks (on demand) and see them being worked on in real-time (progress bars).

It’s part of our long-term vision.

Here’s how I’d explain what we’re creating…

Remember how in Aladdin he finds “the lamp” with the blue genie (Robin Williams)?

Well, at AutoGrow, we’re building the magic lamp to give clients an “instant marketing team” who can plan, create, optimize, and maintain every piece of their digital marketing funnel.

It sounds crazy ambitious, I know. But it’s what we’re doing.

We’re on track to start testing the software internally next week.

We’ll see how it goes… Since I am delegating the coding of it, the process has been moving more slowly. I’m hopeful I can work with our current developer to speed up the process because we are SO CLOSE!

I’ll share more on this in our next update

Conclusion

Looking ahead to the next month, my goal is for us to break $20K in revenue for August.

I think we can do it, but we’ll see…

Leads in August have been slower, partly because we haven’t been putting out valuable content as regularly as we would prefer.

We’ll also be launching the ability for people to buy our Funnel Strategy Blueprints directly from our website. 

These are the plans we create and customize for each new client account. It includes a TON of really useful stuff so clients can even go and use it to implement a successful sales funnel themselves if they want to.

For instance, AutoGrow’s Funnel Strategy Blueprint includes:

  • An ads analysis
  • Funnel diagram
  • ALL the steps for the first 90 days broken into 3 phases (launch date within 6-7 weeks)
  • Growth tracker
  • 1-on-1 consultation 
  • And more…

It’s the first stepping stone on the path to having AutoGrow plan, create, and optimize your sales funnel.

Book a call with us if you have questions or if you would like to order your blueprint.

Other priorities for this month include hiring a Project Manager and a Funnel Strategist.

The challenge with the latter will be making sure I delegate effectively and with proper training (working on that now).

I think those are our biggest areas for improvement too because Belle and I are getting a bit overloaded with work as we grow.

Should be an exciting rest of the month as new client accounts begin going live and seeing leads and sales come in.

That’s it for this month’s update.

Leave a comment and let me know what you got from this article that was most beneficial.

Also, what questions or info do you wish I’d included if any? 

Let me know and I’ll reply to you directly.

Keep funnelin’, stay focused,

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Luxury Marketing: 5 Tips to Retain Today’s High-End Customers

Source: https://postfunnel.com/luxury-marketing-5-tips-to-retain-todays-high-end-customers/

Brand loyalty is waning among affluent shoppers. 56% find themselves less loyal to brands than in previous years. As consumers redefine luxury, brands need to move beyond marketing based on the traditional standards of prestige in order to retain them. We’ll share some tips on how you can reinvent your luxury brand to appeal to today’s affluent population.

Connect With Young Affluent Consumers

Speaking directly to young affluent consumers will go a long way toward fostering loyalty. Generations Y and Z accounted for 47% of luxury consumers in 2018 and will represent 55% of the luxury market in 2020. Retaining this segment of consumers is key to continued business growth. Read on for some key strategies on how to engage this segment.

Engage on Social Media: While the mass appeal of social media doesn’t intuitively flow with the idea of a luxury audience, 95% of Gen Z luxury consumers indeed use social media to interact with their favorite brands. Create social media content and campaigns focusing on themes like aspiration (rather than accessibility) to maintain an air of exclusivity. Work with influencers to shape their buying decisions, and leverage social commerce features such as shoppable posts and Instagram Checkout for a frictionless shopping experience.

Sustainability: 64% of Gen Z luxury consumers are influenced by sustainability ethos. Use responsibly sourced and eco-friendly materials, highlighting their use in your marketing and emphasizing your efforts to lessen the environmental impact of your production. Prove you take environmentalism seriously by publishing a sustainability report.

Promote Individuality: Modern luxury consumers seek products that convey their unique personality. Allow consumers to personalize products through an in-store customization kiosk where they can work with a craftsman to create their preferred design. Consider building an online personalization platform so consumers can customize products themselves and see what the final product will look like as they make their selections.

Invest in Collaborations

In today’s fast-moving world, innovation is key to remaining relevant and building customer loyalty. One way to encourage innovation is through collaboration. Collaborations also increase brand awareness and the likelihood of luxury consumers to purchase. Consider these tips when planning your collaboration strategy:

Partner with Brands: To stand out and strengthen your brand appeal, focus on partnerships that are unusual and surprising. Two years ago, luxury brand Louis Vuitton and streetwear brand Supreme released a series of limited-edition apparel and accessories.

Source

To avoid brand dilution and ensure mutual profitability from the partnership, collaborate with a strong brand. If your audience is comprised of millennials and Gen Z, focus on creating unique experiences by combining streetwear with luxury.

Release Limited Editions: Offer your collaborative products as limited merchandise to create hype, visibility, and urgency. Your limited edition strategy should be driven by a big idea that’s authentic and unique to your brand. For International Women’s Day, Bergdorf Goodman partnered with visual artist Leah Tinari to create a new logo and designs on a set of limited edition products. To maintain exclusivity and control accessibility, place products at selected upscale locations.

Improve the Luxury Digital Buying Experience

38% of luxury spending takes place over the internet, and though most luxury brands are online, the experience is far from what many consumers are used to. The right digital strategy differs for every brand – but here are three universal strategies for delivering an effective digital experience that’ll maintain your brand’s prestige:

Website Personalization: 45% of luxury shoppers want more personalized products and services. Provide localized websites for each country you serve, create a personalized style guide to help with sizing, provide an online expert to answer questions, and use artificial intelligence-powered platforms to send personalized recommendations to website visitors.

Mobile App: Design your mobile app for on-the-go shopping by including features such as multiple payment options, synchronized shopping carts, and visual search. Incorporate new technologies like augmented reality to help consumers experience your products.

Omnichannel Experiences: Focus your omnichannel strategy on delivering a differentiated customer experience and allowing consumers to interact with your brand physically and digitally. Key omnichannel services include real-time product availability online and in-store, in-store returns, and click & collect. Cartier offers customers free returns and Buy Online & Pickup in Store services:

Source

Product Quality

Product quality is a key driver of luxury spending, with 88% of consumers stating that they buy luxury products due to their premium quality. Here’s how you can showcase the quality of your products.

Showcase Craftsmanship: Craftsmanship is an important reason why people buy luxury products. Keep the focus on product quality by using one-of-a-kind artwork and strong designs that showcase creativity and technique. Bottega Veneta’s leather bags forgo branding, but they appeal to luxury-oriented consumers who appreciate minimalism.

Source

Offer Handmade Products: For a large number of luxury consumers, handmade equals well-made. Offer bespoke handmade collections or limited-edition products. Radiate authenticity by showing consumers how your products are made.

Provide Particulars: Consumers appreciate information on how and where products are made. Highlight quality by showcasing the materials and the precise methods used in production. Upscale goods company LMVH’s Journées Particulières programme invites luxury buyers to workshops and demonstrations of how luxury products are crafted.

Emotions drive luxury purchases. 59% of affluent consumers are predisposed to purchase from brands with which they have an emotional connection, and 53% will pay more for that connection. Here are a few strategies you can use to build emotional ties to luxury consumers.

Create Experiences: Form an emotional bond with consumers by giving them memorable experiences. Open interactive stores with attractive designs where consumers can have fun, engage with like-minded individuals, and interact with your brand. At the Hermès Carré Club, consumers can watch artists and designers work in an on-set atelier.

Use Storytelling: Brand stories are a great way to connect with your audience. Your stories communicate brand values, heritage, tradition, and craftsmanship. Create relatable content by sharing real stories that put customers front and center.

Nostalgia: Craft a blast from the past campaign to reach your audience on a whimsical level. Use vintage visual and verbal cues to recreate scenes, but don’t be afraid to remix the story. Tiffany and Co’s Believe in Dreams campaign paid homage to the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s and featured a modern remake of the classic song Moon River.

Source 

Out With the Old

As the meaning of luxury continues to evolve, brands must devise new ways to remain relevant and retain consumers. Embed values like serenity, vitality, and wellness in your offerings to deliver heightened experiences. Maintain exclusiveness by reducing the number of entry-level products you offer, limit sales to a few times per year, and physically distance off-price outlets from city center stores.  Above all, remember that today’s luxury shoppers are after the same top quality – with a fresh new twist.

Retail Pulse

The post Luxury Marketing: 5 Tips to Retain Today’s High-End Customers appeared first on Post Funnel.

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Spoil Your Presentation!

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheWebinarBlog/~3/kYwacZWI4A0/thewebinarblog~Spoil-Your-Presentation.html

Several years ago, the University of California at San Diego did a study on spoilers. Psychology professor Nicholas Christenfeld wanted to know how much spoilers ruined enjoyment of a story.

The findings were surprising and counterintuitive. Readers were given any of three versions of a story. The versions either presented the story as written with the original surprise ending, or included a prefacing spoiler before the story started, or had a spoiler paragraph stuck in the middle as if it were a part of the work. The study tested ironic twist stories, mysteries, and straight literary works. In all three cases, readers preferred the “spoiled” version over the surprise version. Huh!

How does this relate to the world of business presentations?

The most common way to construct business presentations is to build them linearly. You start from background, add some facts, and then reach a conclusion as “the big reveal” at the end. The belief is that if you give away the conclusion at the beginning, there is no reason for people to stick around. You’ll lose their attention and probably their business.

But it turns out that your audience is not that shallow. You don’t need to surprise them to satisfy them. In most cases, you are better off establishing your main point right up front. Don’t start with “First the Earth cooled, then microorganisms emerged…” then end up 60 minutes later with “Ecce homo! Modern man!”

Instead, try turning it around. “Modern man! The culmination of eons of evolution. How did we get here?” Now you have established your main thrust right up front. If an audience member gets an emergency call half way through the presentation and has to leave, they have still received the key message you wanted to convey.

In newspaper writing, this is known as The Inverted Pyramid. Start with the main point of the story. Then fill in supporting facts and background later. The news reporter does not start with the history of railroads in the U.S., the development of the automotive industry, and then in the last sentence work up to the fact that a train hit a car yesterday. That information is the lead (or lede in journalistic lingo).

Think about a prosecutor’s opening statement to a jury. The first thing he or she says is “This man is guilty. He committed a crime. You are going to hear the evidence over the next few days and when you do, there will be no doubt left in your mind that he needs to go to jail.” No prosecutor in his right mind would ever build up to a surprise ending that the defendant is… (gasp) GUILTY!

Don’t be afraid to tell your audience up front that your product or service solves a problem. Don’t be afraid to give away the results of your study in the first slide. A well-designed and well-delivered presentation will hold interest even without a surprise conclusion. According to UCSD, your audience is likely to prefer it that way.

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When Salespeople Attack, It’s Time To Rethink Your Entire Go-To-Market Strategy

Source: https://www.square2marketing.com/blog/when-salespeople-attack-its-time-to-rethink-your-entire-go-to-market-strategy

CEOs And Sales Leaders: Your Teams Are Aware That Your Strategy Is Massively Flawed

We do a ton of educational sessions with CEOs, sales leaders and marketing leaders. One of our favorite questions in the session involves asking the executives if they answer their own office phones, answer their cell phones if they don’t recognize the number or still have phones in their offices.

You wouldn’t be surprised to learn that 95% of the people are unreachable by phone of any kind.

For our next question, we ask how many of their revenue generation strategies involve using cold calls to reach their prospects. You might be shocked to know that 80% of the people still have their teams making cold calls.

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The Elephant in Every eCommerce Room: Three Approaches to Dealing with Amazon

Source: https://postfunnel.com/the-elephant-in-every-ecommerce-room-three-approaches-to-dealing-with-amazon/

“Your margin is my opportunity” may the most influential quote of the internet era.

Even as revenues soared quarter after quarter, profits flatlined. And yes, Amazon kept finding opportunities to translate Bezos’ quote into reality.

This focus on delayed gratification ultimately paid off, with Amazon accounting for a staggering 49% of the US eCommerce market. But that’s just one of many impressive stats:

And if you think Amazon is going to stop after cornering 50% of the online market, think again. At an all-hands meeting last November, Bezos replied to this question about the company’s future, saying:

“I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years… If we start to focus on ourselves, instead of focusing on our customers, that will be the beginning of the end.”

This growth-oriented paranoia, while great for Amazon and shareholders, signals turmoil for everyone else.

If you’re an eCommerce company of any size, how to survive and thrive in the shadow of the beast? There are three options.

More from PostFunnel on Amazon:
Asking the Experts: How is Amazon Conquering the Advertising Realm?
7 ways Amazon Delights Their Customers
Cutting through the Amazon Jungle

1. All eggs in the Amazon basket

Baby diapers are a tough market to enter. First Quality, a small diaper manufacturer, did not feel like it could beat the competition. So, it collaborated with Amazon to create an Amazon-exclusive brand called Earth+Eden.

Within a few weeks of its launch, sales increased threefold.

Pros

Joining the Amazon Exclusives program can be a substantial win for companies. These companies pay Amazon 5% of sales revenue and can expect:

  • Better counterfeit protection (through Project Zero and other initiatives)
  • Dedicated branding and advertising consultants
  • Access to special promotions
  • Automatic Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) designation
  • Automatic qualification for Prime delivery

According to Retail Dive, there are currently 223 brand partners in the Amazon Exclusives program.  Most of the products are in the food, health care & beauty, and household goods categories.

Cons

Amazon Exclusives is an invite-only program. And being an Amazon Exclusives brand doesn’t mean you can relax. If your product gets traction and is a demonstrated winner, Amazon might copy it and launch it as a private label (it already has 119 of these).

In the case of diapers, Amazon already owns the Mama Bear brand, and according to One Click Retail:

“In the Q2 2018… smaller brands like Honest Company and Bambo Nature were at risk of losing out to Mama Bear. As of September, Amazon’s private label controls the largest market share of the three brands, beating them with their significantly lower per-unit price ($0.18 for Mama Bear vs. $0.27 for Honest Company vs. $0.34 for Bambo Nature).”

Solution

The only way to firewall yourself against Amazon’s predatory tactics is to bake a strong and unique brand into your Amazon presence. Buzzfeed, for instance, has its main store on Amazon where it sells uniquely branded merch like T-shirts and sweatshirts.

These designs are trademarked by Buzzfeed with on-brand captions and graphics, which Amazon cannot replicate in a private label.

2. Hedging your bets on Amazon

Pop-A-Shot is an iconic 35-year-old brand which sells basketball arcade games. It was struggling financially when the new owner decided to open the official Pop-A-Shot Amazon store.

Within a month of its launch, the brand saw a stunning 971% upswing in sales.

Pop-A-Shot has its own website as well, but Amazon continues to drive volume sales. Without Amazon, this brand would not have survived.

Pros

For any seller, this middle-of-the-road path has multiple options:

  • Selling directly to Amazon
  • Selling on Amazon Marketplace
  • Using FBA
  • Drop shipping through Amazon

While your margin will vary based on the option you choose, a major benefit of selling on Amazon is rapid product and price testing. Here’s how:

  • Test to see which SKUs have the highest conversion rate and then add them to your Amazon store.
  • Write Amazon-specific product listings to improve your conversion rate (note: keep your categories as niche as possible).
  • Get rapid feedback in the form of customer reviews and ratings.

As an example of marketing copy optimized for Amazon, here’s an example of how the same shoe is described differently on a website versus:

Cons

Solution

For legal and procedural issues, you may need the help of IP attorneys and third-party Amazon consultants. You can also enroll in the Amazon Brand Registry.

Preventing price cannibalization is straightforward: set up a minimum advertised price (MAP), and enforce it strictly.

Lastly, closely monitor your brand and customer experience with the goal of diverting the majority of your sales to your own site.

3. Out of Amazon’s walled garden, into your own

For two years, mobile phone accessories maker PopSockets sold products at wholesale directly to Amazon. The merchandise was a smash success. But when Amazon pressured the brand to reduce prices and increase marketing spend, PopSockets decided to go the Marketplace route.

Amazon’s response? PopSockets was pulled from the platform entirely. But that wasn’t entirely bad news.

Pros

Brands that care about delivering a unique customer experience have done more than draw a line in the sand; they’ve built moats, walls, and bulwarks against Amazon. Why? According to Digiday, it’s due to

“…Amazon’s refusal to share meaningful customer data, its lack of nuance and expertise in areas like premium fashion, the lack of discoverability on Amazon’s search platform, the inability to track attribution from platforms like Facebook, its general user experience, its faceless customer service.”

The growing anti-Amazon crowd is made up of direct to consumer (DTC) brands who haven’t just decided not to sell on Amazon, they’ve also turned down investments as well as advertising and FBA deals worth millions.

Many of these brands have ambitions to be category owners. Some, backed by VC funding, are taking pages out of Amazon’s playbook to grow fast and develop new products. All are fanatically focused on end-user experience.

Cons

In the short term, brands who have given up on Amazon might see their sales and profits dip, especially if they don’t have strong brand recall. For commoditized or cheaper products, knockoffs will inevitably pop up on Amazon, and squashing them can become a full-time job.

This strategy also means either investing internally or outsourcing for software, customer service, marketing, and — most dauntingly — shipping and logistics. All things Amazon sellers take for granted.

But to willfully exile yourself from Amazon is the only way to ensure long-term brand value and direct connection to your customers.

Surviving Amazon

The foolproof guidebook to successfully navigating Amazon marketing doesn’t exist. What truly matters is knowing what you want your company to achieve and aligning those goals with the pros and cons of what Amazon has to offer.

Fight, join, or co-exist? Ultimately, the only wrong choice is not to choose, thus leaving the fate of your brand in the hands of a man who wasn’t joking when he said, “Your margin is my opportunity.”

Customer marketing challenges and opportunities

 

The post The Elephant in Every eCommerce Room: Three Approaches to Dealing with Amazon appeared first on Post Funnel.

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Consumers Care About Your Company’s Values

Source: https://postfunnel.com/consumers-care-about-your-companys-values/

Staying mindful of various groups’ values, beliefs, perceptions, emotions and issues isn’t just a nice way of doing business; it’s become mandatory for companies that want to attract and retain customers.

Brands no longer just sell products and expect consumers to be satisfied. Today, consumers choose to do business with brands they have relationships with and that share their values. That comes in part from the younger generation’s expectation of communicating directly with brands and caring more about who they’re buying from — opting for brands and products based on criteria beyond price.

While Millennials have the highest expectations of brands — nearly 70% in the United States say they actively consider company values when making a purchase — the total number of all US adults who say the same is 52%. They expect companies to eschew lip service, instead incorporating their values throughout the entire company: from onboarding employees, to supporting a good cause.

There are plenty of good — and bad — examples of companies focusing on cultural-social awareness as a core value, but it’s important to find the approach that works best for your brand.

Taking a stand on an issue around a certain social or cultural issue is great — but only if it makes sense for your brand. An extreme example would be a meat producer saying they understand vegetarians. This would come off as fake and disingenuous, turning off more consumers than if they’d said nothing at all.

Ask yourself what rings true for your brand and what would feel authentic to your customers.

One example of a campaign that’s a natural brand extension is Cigna’s ‘Go. Know. Take Control’ campaign, which features celebs like Nick Jonas, Queen Latifah, and Ted Danson. This wellness campaign focuses on its customers’ mental and emotional health, and how those factors can also affect their physical health. As awareness for mental health continues to grow, it makes sense for the health care provider to pour resources into advocating for ways to get help. Since launching this campaign two years ago, Cigna has increased its annual check-ups by 18%.

Beyond the Obvious

Sometimes a brand’s best approach to finding a cultural-social focus isn’t so straightforward. Instead of looking at the surface level for how to connect with consumers, dig deeper into your brand — its history, how its products have affected different groups, who uses the product and their social concerns, and key overall values.

Reebok’s “Flipping the Game” podcast focuses on why women are still fighting for recognition in the sneaker world three decades after the first women’s sneaker came out. Dan Mazei, head of the global newsroom at Reebok, told NewsWhip they use the podcast as a way to expose inequalities that still exist for women — both inside and outside the shoe industry.

On the surface, women’s equality and a show brand might not seem like an obvious pairing, but they found a way to connect the two. The podcast earned 4.9/5 stars with 96 ratings on Apple Podcasts, clearly resonating with their intended audience.

Responsibility > Metrics

Whereas likes, retweets, shares, and email opens are a tangible way to track certain campaign’s success, increased loyalty doesn’t have as clear KPIs. That doesn’t make it any less important, however. Many consumers view it as a company’s responsibility to support and invest in different causes. For others, their connection with a brand on a cultural-social level is a main reason they interacted with them from the start.

Even if a specific focus isn’t as popular at the time, brands need to be in it for the long run. Take CVS, for example. When they made the decision to stop selling tobacco products in 2014, they became the first national retail pharmacy chain to do so. The company said they pulled tobacco because “it conflicted with our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.” The shift initially resulted in an 8% drop in general merchandise sales for the following quarter, but the company has since had a $16 billion increase in CVS Health’s pharmacy benefits management business, an increased ability to recruit better talent, and mostly positive media coverage about the decision. And since the change, tobacco sales have dropped for all retailers, according to the American Journal of Public Health.

The company’s decision to drop a big seller is obviously much bigger than a marketing campaign focused on cultural or social awareness. It’s an example of how a brand understands its core values and accordingly makes a move revolutionary within the industry, considering they were the first to make the jump. CVS is also working to eliminate photoshopped images from the beauty brands it carries, a step tailored to address other social concerns.

The bottom line is that there are countless cultural and social issues your brand can address, and more consumers are expecting the companies they do business with to be aware of those issues. Whichever issue your brand decides to engage, make sure it comes across as authentic and that it resonates with your customers.

How to build your customer model

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Interactivity and Personalization: The Future of Video Marketing

Source: https://postfunnel.com/interactivity-and-personalization-the-future-of-video-marketing/

Earlier this year, we discussed how to approach your video marketing initiatives in a way that provides value to your audience and helps reach your business goals. We talked about formats, how to use video to nurture prospects, and how you can best engage the modern consumer through interactive and personalized clips.

Need a refresher, click here.

More from PostFunnel on video marketing:
“Go Online Now, Every Other Thing You’ll See is a Video”
Hitting Play on Video Marketing
Winning the Video War: Strategy for Success and Conversion

In this article, we’ll discuss why interactivity and personalization are so effective and provide examples of modern brands successfully employing these tactics.

Let’s dive in.

Interactivity in Video Content Marketing

When we asked an audience of marketing specialists what the future holds for video content, the response was almost unanimous:

The future is all about interactivity. But this isn’t a surprise. As Content Marketing Institute found in its 2016 report on interactive content:

  • 81% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs audience attention more effectively than static content
  • 79% say interactive content enhances customer retention
  • 66% say engagement levels of their audiences have increased due to their use of interactive content

As coordinator of marketing and branding at thumbprint, Morgan Lathaen, explains, “The benefits of interactive video are that it turns passive viewers into active viewers and [allows you to] easily track the decisions each viewer makes.”

Interactivity has two parts:

  • Interacting with the brand through the content
  • Interacting with the content itself

There’s no shortage of brands using the first of these approaches. Grazia UK, for example, took to Facebook Live to host a Brexit-focused debate in which the on-camera team ­addressed questions from their online audience.

Watch our #GraziaxFB Brexit Debate with Stella Creasy, Yvette Cooper MP, Penny Mordaunt, Theresa Villiers and chaired by Anushka Asthana.

Posted by Grazia UK on Wednesday, 15 June 2016

360° video and VR technology allow viewers to engage with their favorite brands on a deeper level. As CEO of Anabolic Bodies Eddie Johnson explains, such technology allows viewers to “completely immerse themselves in the world of the video blogger” in a way that has only recently become possible.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10153538607278951

Taking a more direct approach, fashion brand Ted Baker uses video to showcase trending products and allow viewers to navigate directly to specific product pages from the video:

(Source)

As Lathaen mentioned, brands are also using video content to collect feedback from their audience, both proactively and reactively.

Regarding proactivity, many brands use channel-specific features to include polls, surveys, and questionnaires within their video content. This prompts users to actively engage with the brand while also providing valuable information regarding their needs and expectations.

(Source)

Getting your audience to interact with the video content is where you’ll have a chance to reactively analyze and assess your audience’s needs. Think about it: the more interaction opportunities you provide, the more information you’ll stand to gain based on how they do so.

Take a recent interactive episode of Black Mirror, for example.

For those not familiar with the premise, it’s essentially a “choose-your-own-adventure” story: At certain points throughout the video, the viewer is asked to make a decision; the story then unfolds based on the choices the viewer makes.

(Source)

Such an innovative approach is bound to generate some major exposure, no matter how it’s used. In Black Mirror’s case, despite the episode earning mediocre reviews, the virality of the premise more than made up for its shortcomings in storytelling.

Take this premise and apply it to your own video marketing campaigns. Customers tend to enjoy a highly engaging experience. On your end, you’re collecting data on each viewer’s preferences as they choose different paths while navigating the content.

You can take a similar approach when presenting other types of interactive video content, such as 360° video. Based on how your audience engages, you can get a better idea of what part of the video they’re focusing on, where they’re most engaged, and where engagement starts to drop off.

This is no different than assessing the completion rate of your videos, the average time your audience spends reading blog posts, and other such metrics. The more interactivity you provide, the more information you stand to glean regarding how your audience engages with your content.

The fundamentals of video content marketing haven’t changed. The goal has always been to spur viewers to action.

With interactive video content, you aren’t just inspiring viewers to take a single action at the end of the video, you’re encouraging them to do so throughout their experience — which will make them more likely to take the ‘big step’ at the end.

Personalization and Individualization in Video Marketing

If you follow PostFunnel, you know how highly we regard personalized marketing.

And why wouldn’t we?

When we talk about ‘personalized video content,’ we’re not talking about those videos that merely plug in the recipient’s name and photos in the appropriate spots:

This technique may have been innovative and novel back in 2014… but at best, it’s par for the course by today’s standards. Polly Kay, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at English Blinds, echoes this sentiment, explaining that “personalization alone is no longer enough to gain an edge over the competition when it comes to video marketing; consumers today simply expect no less.”

If you’re going to implement this type of automated personalization in your video content, you need to go deeper than using superficial information about your audience members.

For example, Nike+ sent out the following video to over 100,000 recipients:

Each video provided data regarding the individual viewer’s usage of their Nike+ products, such as the number of steps they took and distance they traveled throughout the year. While the overall ‘wrapping’ of the video is the same for all recipients, the data included within each is unique to that individual.

But again, this approach adds just a touch of personalization to content created for a mass audience. The future of personalization in video marketing is true personalization.

Optimizing your video marketing campaigns to individual customers means you only need to send certain content to certain people at certain times.

The team at Nextiva creates videos thanking individual customers who have given positive feedback or otherwise provided social proof of the company’s value:

CMO of Nextiva, Yaniv Masjedi, explains:

“We’ve had a lot of success garnering customer engagement by posting video shout-outs. In these 1-2 minute clips, we’d call out a customer by name – always within the first 10 seconds –and then make sure we tag them in a Twitter post. This managed to build out a campaign that netted mini-viral posts on a weekly basis.”

These videos don’t need to be created in a studio with expensive cameras and equipment. All you need is a smartphone and access to the channels your individual customers use most.

Creating personalized videos for your individual customers on a case-by-case basis should feel as routine as replying to an email in a personal manner.

Say that one of your Instagram followers reaches out to you with a question about a product. In response, you can do one of the following:

  • Write back with a templated response that points them to an explainer video on your website
  • Write back with an individualized response addressing their specific issue, along with a link to the explainer video
  • Write back with an individualized response addressing their specific issue and a video created just for them explaining the written instructions a bit further

Which do you think they’ll appreciate most? Which will provide the most value to them? Which will best prove your team’s dedication to their success?

Again, you don’t need to do this all the time. In fact, you shouldn’t feel the need to use video merely for its own sake. But take advantage of the opportunity when you can use video to:

a) Best communicate specific information

b) Enhance your individual customer’s experience through video content created just for them

Wrapping Up

As we move into 2020 and beyond, we’ll likely see innovations that allow for even more interactivity and personalization in video content.

Masjedi suggests that we’ll start seeing “personalized AR video ad experiences for prospects and customers, triggered by a certain location, action, or a tripwire/checkpoint in their customer journey.”

The potential that AI, AR, and VR tech hold is pretty darn exciting. But as is the nature of technology, what’s innovative and new today will become stale soon enough. Still, it’s unlikely that consumers will soon get bored of ultra-personalized video content that allows them to engage with their favorite brands in unique ways.

Continue looking ahead to the ‘next big thing’ in video marketing technology as time goes on; just keep in mind that it’s not the technology that allows for interactivity and personalization, it’s how your team uses it. This is what will determine how your customers engage with your video content now and in the future.

Multi Channel Marketing E-book

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13 Tools to Get Inside Your Customers’ Minds

Source: https://postfunnel.com/13-tools-to-get-inside-your-customers-minds/

Are you truly putting your customer at the heart of your business?

McKinsey recently found that 65% of businesses felt customer insights should be a true ‘thought partner’ of the entire organization. And yet, only 23% have achieved this level of maturity.

More from PostFunnel on marketing tools:
8 Tools to Keep Your Marketing, Sales and Customer Success Teams Aligned
Run Your Outreach on Your Own: The Best PR Agency Tools
Freebies! 11 Tools to Use for Your Retention Marketing

Good news: affordable tools abound to help you figure out exactly what your customers — existent and potential — are looking for, so you can crawl inside their minds and deliver an experience they love.

TLDR: If you’re short on time, each tool listing has a one-line summary to give you the absolute top-level benefit. Otherwise, let’s dig in.

TrenDemon

Improve your content marketing efforts. 

TrenDemon analyzes your website to identify which sources, pages, and paths yield the highest ROI and conversion rates based on your established goals. The advanced platform then presents personalized content, recommendations, and unique CTAs for each visitor.

A tool like TrenDemon is useful for any website, but particularly beneficial to sites experiencing low conversion or high bounce rates.

With TrenDemon, you can expect much lower “do nothing” rates – the percentage of visitors who simply come and go – because it creates personalized content based on the unique visitor, rather than generic messages and a one-size-fits-all approach.

You can also set, track, and optimize specific goals like lead generation, social media shares, or email sign-ups.

Omniconvert  

Find the conversion leaks on your website, then optimize and improve.

Omniconvert’s promise is to help you get more conversions on your website from the same amount of traffic. They do this by offering four useful methods for online marketers: UI/UX audit, quantitative research, qualitative research, and technical audits.

Omniconvert stands out with its advanced audience segmentation.

The platform’s ability to show visitors unique content based on geolocation, weather patterns, referrer, and on-site behavior means you can capture your audience’s attention in ways you may not have thought possible.

Crazy Egg

Understand which pages, buttons, and ‘hot spots’ are getting traction.

Crazy Egg is like a pair of X-ray glasses that lets you see exactly what people are doing on your site, which makes it the perfect addition to this list. It uses heat maps, scroll maps, overlays, and confetti maps to show visitor activity on your website.

Once you know where visitors are looking, clicking, and especially what they’re struggling to find, you can adjust your site and content to facilitate better experiences for them, and more conversions for you.

Fanplayr

Create sales and content offers that are personalized to an individual customer.

Fanplayr is fairly similar to TrenDemon, with an added focus on eCommerce optimization. It collects “digital body language” – characteristics like referral source, page views, product views, price ranges, and cart additions – to analyze visitor behavior.

Before in-depth personalization tools came around, marketers had two options for sales offers: focus on a few items people may or may not want, or markdown the whole shop.

Now, you can abandon both strategies for a much more appealing one: making great offers on items individual customers are sure to love.

CartStack

Increase your sales by reaching out to customers who have abandoned cart.

CartStack’s mission is to help you recover 15% or more of abandoned carts with automated cart recovery emails. It’s easy to implement, featuring WordPress compatibility as well as top online shopping cart providers such as Magento, ZenCart, and BigCommerce.

Barilliance found that over 75% of shoppers choose to leave a site without completing a purchase. Why? Another study by Statista revealed that the primary reason is high shipping costs, followed by ineffective discount codes.

CartStack can help you figure out the main reasons your buyers are jumping ship and get more of them back on board.

Oktopost

Feed social data to your marketing automation platform and deliver better social media experiences.

Oktopost is a social media management platform made specifically for B2B businesses. Though it boasts several useful tools, the best one for gaining keen real-time insight into the minds of your audience is its social media monitoring dashboard. This feature allows you to create live streams that track keywords, mentions, company pages, and more.

With Oktopost, you can easily follow and join conversations that impact your brand, engage with potential business prospects and partners, reply to feedback from customers, track key competitor activities, and find inspiration for your next campaign.

Simply Measured

Gather advanced social data to measure, inform, optimize, and learn.

Considering 23% of consumers would snub a brand after a negative social interaction, it’s important to prioritize your brand’s positive connectibility.

True success on social media isn’t just about putting out great content and engaging in conversation — you need to be measuring and analyzing the market and your performance as well. That’s where Simply Measured comes in.

Recently acquired by Sprout Social for its advanced analytics, Simply Measured not only helps you assess the behavior of your audience in quantitative terms — trends, keyword usage, etc. — it also helps highlight the impact of wider brand activities among your target audience.

Topsy Analytics

Analyze and explore billions of social conversations in a digestible format.

Topsy is most known for its global social data index, but its Twitter dashboard is perfect for comparing keywords, mentions, and domains. The index includes every tweet since Twitter launched in 2006, giving you access to millions of conversations and topics.

Once you enter up to three keywords into the tool, it graphs usage stats for the past month. Topsy’s attractiveness lies in its simplicity.

Topsy has one very specific function, but it’s powerful if used wisely. For example, you can easily measure which topics your audience cares about most and craft your future content around it, instead of guessing or wasting your efforts covering irrelevant material.

You can also use it to assess the popularity of your own past blog posts (using the domain feature) as well as your competitors (using the @mention feature).

Klaviyo

Gather granular insights about your audience to build stronger eCommerce experiences across email and other owned channels.

Email marketing holds a treasure trove of insights about your audience. Moreover, the data gleaned from your subscribers is more valuable than what you’d get from general site visits and social media.

When it comes to email statistics, few tools go as in-depth as Klaviyo while still providing an aesthetically pleasing user-friendly interface.

With Klaviyo, you can target customers based on the products they purchase, what they looked at on your site, where they interact with your emails, and how much they spend.

Rejoiner

Learn which email copy, designs, and segmentation drive the most revenue.

What Fanplayr and TrenDemon do for websites, Rejoiner does for email. Behind the scenes, it tracks customer behavior onsite and in emails so it can send highly relevant personalized messages to past and potential customers to help maximize revenue, convert abandoned carts, and optimize email campaigns.

The best audience insight tools are the ones that not only track the data but also allow you to act upon it by providing customers exactly what they’re looking for.

Another bonus with Rejoiner is that you get the hands-on consultation of an email marketing agency included with the software. Or, you can just opt for their self-service version.

Get Satisfaction

Extract actionable feedback from your own online customer community.

Get Satisfaction provides a community platform to help your customers and potential customers get answers and information quickly, both from you and other users.

The platform integrates directly with your website and social media channels, allowing you to provide public support as well as conduct private discussions — making it a full customer support and knowledge database solution.

By providing a central location for customers to have discussions about and around your product, you are in a unique position to hear directly from them regarding:

  • What needs improvement
  • What they love about your product
  • How they rank you in comparison to competitors
  • What they expect from you in the future

Medallia for Digital

Collect real-time customer feedback across multiple channels.

Medallia for Digital is a product which combines Medallia’s powerful data analytics platform with Kampyle’s (acquired by Medallia in 2016) state-of-the-art web and mobile feedback.

Medallia for Digital delivers a true omnichannel customer experience view and allows you to act on the data across all customer touchpoints.

Use the analytics dashboards to easily gauge your customer experience performance in both historical and real-time, identifying where your program is succeeding and where additional investments are needed.

Yelp (and other review sites)

Craft marketing messages using language your audience is already using.

Review sites for businesses and service providers such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, and even the Better Business Bureau, hold a wealth of insights into what customers are looking for and where your competitors are falling short.

These sites are also great sources for discovering the right messages and phrasing to include in your site and headlines.

If they’re using it in reviews, chances are they’re using it in their searches as well. Moreover, stealing (or “borrowing”, if you prefer) your customers’ own words is a guaranteed way to make sure your message connects with them.

Where to begin?

This list might seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to implement all the tools mentioned.

Instead, identify the areas most likely to give you the best insights based on the stage of your business, then pick the tools that match up.

Start with the free trials and don’t be shy to negotiate terms.

The only wrong move is to avoid audience insight tools altogether and make blind business decisions as a result. In today’s intense eCommerce climate, you need all the tricks you can get – and these tools were designed to provide exactly that advantage.

Keep Your First-Time Customers Coming Back

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