Integrated Marketing Strategy – How to Integrate Search, Social for eCommerce

by Eric Tsai

Beyond Search: Social Customer, Social Commerce, Social Media

It seems as if all the talk in web marketing these days center on algorithm updates, social signals, mobile and display opportunities. Marketers and brands are eager to make adjustments trying new strategies to drive sales and increase profits.

I think it’s important to know the difference between a sales channel and how sales are made.
Search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO) and social media are all channels to engage and carry out your message with prospects and customers.

Simply put, the medium is not the message. It’s a venue for you to generate demand and drive qualified visitors to your conversion funnel.

And we all know what conversion funnel is all about – getting those sale!

This is why it’s important to figure out how these channels work together (and independently) to help drive qualified traffic to your web properties.

Not only will this increase the chance of converting that traffic into sales (higher conversion rate), it will also bring clarity to your marketing investments.

The key is to realize that social media is turning customers social as a result transitioning eCommerce to social commerce.

The Social Customer: More Research, Less Impulsive

Today, if you want to find a restaurant or buy a product you can start by getting opinions from your social circle on Facebook and Twitter or read reviews on public venues such as Yelp and Amazon. In addition, you get to compare prices across multiple deal aggregators and coupon sites.

It’s indicative that consumers are no longer buying based on impulse but cold hard facts.

According to a recent survey conducted by Yahoo! and Universal McCann to help marketers understand the new dynamics in the path to purchase, “The abundance of online tools has evolved shopping, empowered consumers and ultimately renewed passion and excitement within the path to purchase…Consumers have learned what information sources to filter and what sources they can rely on. And when it comes to media, Internet comes out on top as 2 in 3 people stated they trust the Internet for researching their purchases.”

How consumer uses internet for shopping

I particularly like the recommendations under “Implications for Marketers”:

  • Marketers should contribute to the social ecosystem by becoming part of the conversation. Leverage your brand as a contributing member of 3rd party communities (e.g., fan page, micro-site, etc.) to create a more personal and authentic relationship with your customers.
  • Create reward systems that deliver the “consumer win” by making the consumer feel special — such as tailoring deals to their expressed interests and encouraging viral sharing.
  • Marketers don’t necessarily need to be considered a consumer’s “friend,” but should leverage the right media to aid consumers — like expert reviews. Trusted sites perform better.
  • Online sources influence purchases just as much as, if not more than, offline sources so it’s important to make sure your brand is integrated in the online experience.
  • As shoppers use digital tools to gather info and narrow down options, your presence doesn’t need to be purely rational. It can and should delight emotionally.

If we can identify the potential “decision path” and buying landscape of our prospects then we can build better campaigns to truly engage in a relationship that brings value to both sides.

Social Commerce: Why Consumers Connect with Brands

Whether it’s through social media, organic search or paid search, it helps to understand why certain types of consumers elect to go down a specific path that ultimately led to a purchase.

Once you figured out the complex scenarios of a purchase funnel, then it’s time to craft a campaign that can effective in gaining your prospect’s attention.

Why attention?

Because more attention means higher chance of clicking, and more clicks brings in more traffic. You may want to read the post on Why Attention is the New Currency Online.

The important thing about traffic is that we want convertible traffic not media with strenuous acquisition costs.

Social media is a complicated media where customers are willing to interact with brands but it’s difficult to track and measure.

According to a joint research project by Shop.org, comScore and Social Shopping Labs, “42% of online consumers have “followed” a retailer proactively through Facebook, Twitter or a retailer’s blog, and the average person follows about 6 retailers.

Here are the top reasons shoppers follow a retailer:

Shop Social Media 2011 - How Shoppers Interact w/ Retailers

As you can see from the data above, most people connect with brands with some level of transactional intent in nature.

The key is to realize that this type of digital relationship is built on mutual benefits.

For brands, this means being creative with incentivized-advertising that leads to trial, trial to purchase, and purchase to become a regular customer.

And it’s very likely that some if not the entire process take place online.
Each contact point may be discoverable by search forming a contributing factor to influence the purchase experience.

This is a high level way of viewing social commerce. And it requires careful planning beyond marketing.

This is why for example, customer service, sales and marketing needs to stay connected. It’s about linking different part of your business to help optimize the social commerce experience.

And to do making each department social is a great place to start.

Social Media: Turning Search Social

In order to combat Facebook, Google decided to counter with Google +, a social network that mimics many social features of Facebook. (I’ve just started using this and will keep an eye on it as it grows.)

The value of SEO and the success of Google is undeniable but the fact is Facebook has become the central hub of the increasingly social web.

Accordingly to ComScore, time spent on Facebook nearly doubled compare to Google even though Google continues to attract the greatest number of unique visitors in general.

average minutes spent per visitor on google and facebook, june 2011

What this tells me is that there is a fundamental shift in how we fit the Internet into our lives.

This also means that search is evolving from a utility-focused function (of finding information) towards a more connected engagement environment.

The initiate discovery builds meaningful relationship that’s based on the human network.
This is the reason why all social networks are gaining traction, not just Facebook.

For example Twitter is also becoming a force to be reckoned with according to Compete:

  • Twitter is the preferred platform for learning about new product updates. While those who follow a brand on Twitter and “Like” a brand on Facebook do so to learn about discounts and available “free stuff” to a similar degree, the Twitter followers are much more likely to use the platform for “updates on future products” (84% to 60%). Clearly Twitter is viewed as a medium in which consumers can directly communicate with the stewards of the brands they are most interested in. See chart below for details on why consumers choose to follow or Like a brand.

reasons for follow-like a brand

And the next interesting insight was shows that Twitter has the potential to drive sales.

  • Twitter is more effective at driving purchase activity than Facebook. 56% of those who follow a brand on Twitter indicated they are “more likely” to make a purchase of that brand’s products compared to a 47% lift for those who “Like” a brand on Facebook. This is further evidence that marketers can drive ROI with Twitter by engaging followers through compelling content. See the chart below for more details on usage outcomes across Twitter and Facebook.

social media usage outcomes

Of course, not all engagements are created equal and this is where online marketing is changing.

Consumers will decide which channel to use for their own benefits so as marketers, you need a approach these venues with meaningful engagement in mind aggregating valuable conversations over time.

It only make sense to start your engagement strategy by understand today’s consumers. Once you gain an understanding of the larger trend, then it all comes down to narrowing your target audience and tailor your message to fit the medium.

The Take Away

You can now purchase or bid on highly targeted media to carry out your ads that gets distributed instantly.

The result can be tracked and analyze through various attribution models.

Although there are still limitation to data transparency across all channels, one thing is clear, modern marketers now must try to understand all the touch points prior to conversion (making the sale) to get an idea of the impact of these channels.

It’s time we realize that social media provides significant influence across the social web.

It’s not just about page rank with SEO or ad rank with PPC; you now must consider measuring the depth of engagement as a competitive advantage within your marketing toolbox

What are you doing beyond search?

Learn to Extract Marketing Insights from Data

by Eric Tsai

Learn to Extract Marketing Insights from Data
In working with many smart business people and analysts in the past few months, I came to appreciate the ease of accessing web analytics.

Who knew that math and data would become a main revenue driving force for businesses big and small?

Every business is fast becoming a data-generating machine.

From upstream to downstream, data rewards us with actionable insights to make profitable decisions via controlled experiments allowing us to advance our business models.

And yet, this is just the beginning as the number of people connected to the web continues to grow, so too does the vast amount of information about those individuals.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, “collecting, storing, and mining big data for insights can create significant value for the world economy, enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of companies and the public sector and creating a substantial economic surplus for consumers.”

 Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity

Collect and Analyzing Data for ROI

We can’t mine data we don’t have, so now is the time to focus on data gathering.

Simply put, data will produce new value for businesses whether it’s setting up web analytics, collecting email addresses or compiling transaction data, the ability to turn data into actionable insights equals the ability to make money on the social web.

In addition data is the foundation for business return on investment (ROI) that enables predictive analysis to explore highly targeted and optimized marketing campaigns.

ROI-centric businesses focus on maximizing the lifetime value of a customer, which in many cases refers to customer retention and the cost of sale.

That means leveraging weighted algorithms and attribution models to target and re-target the “next-best” opportunity.

The key is to put data in context and “translate” them into meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs).

For example, a controversial topic that I often come across is the concept of social media ROI.

In reality, social media analytics and engagement data do not have a transparent cause-and-effect ROI so analyst Jeremiah Owyang of Altimeter Group came up with a simple formula to look at social media ROI.

Social Media ROI

By focusing on business goals, he recommended companies to develop a standardized way to measure first based on objectives, a fundamental starting point to put ROI in context.

An important aspect of reporting ROI is to put data in perspective for everyone involve. It’s indicative that social media ROI requires mapping the right data to the right role because different data sets mean different ways of measuring, segmenting and analyzing.

The Increasingly Social Search: Social Media Data

Although search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have provided tremendous insights into customer behavior, the rise of actionable social media data is adding fuel to the explosive growth of digital information.

Now that Search engines are integrating social signals into their algorithms, social is going to play an important role to increase efficiency in targeting.

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can help generate even more granular, multifaceted customer segmentation from profiles, posts, click histories, and usage logs by identifying influencers and leaders within social groups, as well as their followers and outliers.

Not only can Social media distribute marketing messages out faster, they allow companies to gain deeper insight into customer behavior in much more detailed than it has ever been.

In addition, social media enters into early majority phase of adoption according to a recent survey by Regus, more firms are using social media to engage with existing customers than a year ago, with the following highlights:

  • 50% of businesses in the U.S. use websites such as Twitter to engage, connect with and inform existing customers
  • In the U.S., 55% of firms encourage their employees to join social networks such as Linkedin and Xing
  • 38% of U.S. companies dedicate up to 20 percent of their marketing budget to business social networking activity
  • Globally, the survey reported a seven percent increase in the proportion of businesses successfully recruiting new customers through social networks such as Facebook

Geolocation: Adding Space and Time to Data

Local data is one of the most valuable forms of data because it can put local business in touch with potential customers while they’re in the vicinity of the business.

Do you wonder why all of a sudden people are “checking in” on Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook and Twitter?

According to IBM Engineer Jeff Jonas, “With roughly 600 billion data transactions from cellular phones on a daily basis, adding space and time to traditional data objects can help predict where someone will be on a given day and time with up to 87 percent accuracy, for example. Adding space-time works because, oddly enough, of physics.”

Watch live streaming video from gigaombigdata at livestream.com

The Take Away

The bottom line is that it is about giving youself the highest chance of marketing success by targeting customers that fit your business model.

Needless to say that it is important to collect the right data (context counts!), but the intrinsic value is in your ability to extract actionable insights beyond trends and patterns that reveal profitable opportunities.

The only question that remains for you is this – what data are you collecting, why, and how does that fit into the big picture?

I recently gave an interview to Adobe’s CMO.com about this topic.
Check it out: McKinsey Report Calls For New Generation Of Web Marketing Analysts

Why Attention is the New Currency Online

by Eric Tsai

Like many digital marketers, I consume and create large amount of content daily. Whether it’s doing research or analyzing data, I’ve come to realize the economic value of attention.

It’s relatively easy to create and publish content nowadays because technology has made it cost-effective and efficient.

This isn’t the case when it comes to consuming content because our attention simply doesn’t scale. Just like our personal values have to be sorted and ranked in order for us to make wise and consistent decisions, so do our values for consuming information.

As more and more businesses and individuals continue to produce digital content, one trend is starting to emerge as the explosion of content proliferates – the role of curators.

Moving forward, it’s important to look beyond the value that content creates but also how it gets consumed.

The gatekeepers to quality: Content curators

Unlike traditional media authorities such as The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, new media curators are the barometers of quality content that help harness our inherent need to consume personalized information.

Think of it as a filter for personalized content from trusted sources.

This is different than competing for page ranks in search engines or displaying authority in social media.

This is about access to audience and the ability to be heard.

Content curators rank and decide which information offers the most value and enriches you in the process of indulging your curiosity.

And the idea of curation isn’t focused on individual pieces
of content, but the ability to piece together cohesive patterns that contribute to a larger trend.

The challenge is not just in grabbing attention but also maintaining it until the content consumption process reaches its peak value.

This is why popular blogs continues to be popular because of original content curation that follows a narrative.

You need to deliver high value content regularly instead of just sharing the same content as someone else.

So how do you differentiate yourself in a space full of re-hashed content?

First you need to understand and optimize your content for online browsing and reading.

People read more online than print

People only want to spend time online with content they find valuable but if they don’t read it, how would they know if it’s valuable?

Let’s look at an eyetracking study by The Poytner Institute (excellent study) to see just how different we read newspaper content online vs. in print.

  • Online readers read an average of 77% of story text they chose to read
  • Broadsheet readers read an average of 62% of stories they selected
  • Tabloid readers read an average of 57% only.

When measured whether a story was read from start to finish:

  • Online readers read 63% of stories from start to finish
  • Broadsheet readers finished 40% of stories
  • Tabloid readers, 36%

Here is an interesting data from the perspective of people that read online: When looking at story lengths, online readers still read more text regardless of the length.

These findings shows that people have different habits when reading online and it could be because websites are viewed as real-time with up-to-the-minute content.

Another key to point out is that in print, headlines and photos were the first visual stop while website navigation was the first stop for online readers.

Web layout and design plays and important role in how your content gets viewed.

Web browsing habits matter

Web browsing habits affects how users absorb and internalize online content, especially when your declining digital attention span is sliced between multiple browser tabs.

Parallel browsing is like multitasking splitting your concentration in different browser tabs.

Microsoft research Ryen White and Information scientist Jeff Huang recently studied the behavior of 50 millions web surfers and habits regarding tabbed browsing on 60 billion pages.

They found that instead of users viewing more pages with tabs, it simply leads to multitasking cutting user’s online attention span!

  • Parallel browsing with different tabs occurs 85% of the time
  • Viewers often view 5-10 page per tab
  • 57.4% of the browsing time are used for parallel browsing with tabs
  • Most web surfers do not create tabs (branch out) from search engine result pages, but more from non-navigational queries
  • Users open new windows and tabs because they’re waiting for a page to load

Now ask yourself these questions.

How are tabs being used by your customers?

How does this affect the time spent per page on your site?

How attention span affects content decay

So how do you overcome the challenge of maximizing the value of great content?

You need to first understand what Steve Rubel calls Attentionomics (of social media platforms) – the fact that content is infinite, but your attention is finite.

Let’s look at some examples on how attention spans works in social media.

First up: Twitter.

According to a research by Sysomos:

  • 92.4% of all retweets happen within the first hour of the original tweet being published
  • 1.63% of retweets happen in the second hour
  • 0.94% take place in the third hour

So much for the longtail in attention even with 110 million tweets per day!

Next we’ll look at how video content gets consumed on YouTube.

According to research by TubeMogul:

  • A video on YouTube gets 50% of its views in the first 6 days it is on the site
  • After 20 days, a YouTube video has had 75% of its total view
  • In 2008, it took 14 days for a video to get 50% of its views and 44 days to get 75% of its views.

The proliferation of video content is setting new standards in both reach and speed. However; at the same time most online video viewers watch mere seconds, rather than minutes, of a video.

According to another study by TubeMogul, “most videos steadily lose viewers once ‘play’ is clicked, with an average 10.39% of viewers clicking away after ten seconds and 53.56% leaving after one minute.”

And finally let’s check out Facebook.

The thing to keep in mind is that Facebook has their EdgeRank algorithm which determines what content users will see from the pages they “like.”

Basically it’s like the organic links in Google. If you want to grab attention you need to first format your content so it’s Facebook-friendly and then send it out at the right time.

For the optimize time to market on Facebook, I’ll turn to Dan Zarrella’s infographic on the “5 Questions and Answers about Facebook Marketing.”

I’ve seen studies that put the percentage of posts that make it through to users’ news feeds at less than 5% while post feedback ranges from 0.01% to 1.5%.

The bottom line is that Facebook is more relationship-focused than push-focused so it’ll take time for marketers to come up with a standardized metrics that measures something meaningful.

The other interesting development is Facebook’s own CPC network (like AdWords) called Facebook ads that has the ability to deliver quality traffic on a comparable volume scale.

The difference is that Facebook ads tries to look less like an ad and more like an editorial that’s of interest to the user. (I’ll be going over this soon)

The value of social

For now I don’t have the answer to the intrinsic value of social media, but I do know that it’s not just about increase advertising impressions or click through rates.

Still, as Facebook continues to roll out new products and revise its algorithm, it’s best to monitor and allocate small amount of time and resources to do your own testing.

And finally, keep in mind that the content decay data provided above are on logged-in users “actively” engaging each social media platform.

What does this mean?

Social media is just one channel and a user may engage in multiple channels (email, search, offline ads) and within each channel he/she may have different accounts for different purposes so treat each platform autonomously.

For example:

  • A per who uses email may have two email – one for personal, the other one for work. Personal email usually don’t get checked as often so time-sensitive content needs a clear segmentation and different engagement tactics. Or a use may only check personal email on their mobile device so optimizing for mobile experience would be a priority.
  • A user may have multiple social network accounts but choose to engage each at different time for different purposes. This requires tailored content for for each social network in order to deliver the optimal experience. You may use similar content from a content strategy perspective, but the ad copy or marketing message must fit the context within the social network.

Here is an overview of how often people use social media from a combination of comScore reports and research by Wedbush Securities.

Clearly Facebook is the dominating platform with a huge distance between itself and the rest of the social networks in terms of unique visitors.

In fact, Hitwise has been reporting for months now that Facebook had passed Google in terms of time spent online!

There is also further data to show that people are using Facebook more frequently than did on a daily and weekly basis compare to sites like Twitter and Linkedin.

When it comes to social media marketing, keep in mind that each social network has their own unique user experience and habits thus size may not always be the most important factor.

There is no one-size fits all strategy.

The take away: As the “gold rush” to producing content continues, the need for curators will increase disproportionately to the number. The value of content on social media will continue to evolve bringing new challenges for your content to stand out in the digital realm.

Simply put, if content is currency, then attention creates leverage by serving up the right content at the right time.

Do not shortcut your best ideas for easier consumption, instead, focus on your desire outcome with measurable ROI.

As Seth Godin has said, “We don’t have an information shortage, we have an attention shortage.”

Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Tailor your content for each social media platform in relevancy. (short-form goes to Twitter, medium-form goes to Facebook, long-form goes to blog etc.)
  • Reiterate content for behavior change with an emphasis on quality not quantity. (repeat is ok but there is a fine line between consistency and spam)
  • Focus on optimizing your content so users can consume them in the least amount of time.
  • Make it simple but not simpler and as straight forward as possible.
  • Run experience test to see how your content performs  at different time frames, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds…etc.
  • Use your Google analytics to help you identify what visitors are doing once landed on your site. (How long do they stay, how many pages do they read, when do they return again…etc)
  • Use engaging call-to-action without been pushy or salesy.
  • Conduct an usability audit on your website user interface. (what got clicked, where do people go, bounce rates…etc…use In-Page Analytics from Google Analytics)
  • Balance your design with function that support each page’s objective.
  • Run simple A/B split testing, multi-variant testing and user experience testing. (mix and match images, graphics, headlines, copies and layout)

If you made it this far, why not let me know what you think?

Or if you’re just scanning, I hope you go back and re-read this post again!

How to Build Influence and Earn Trust via Enchantment: An Interview with Guy Kawasaki

by Eric Tsai

Information doesn’t sound like it’s worth a lot of value. In fact, most of the time information wants to be free and are free in the sense of accessibility. In order to make information so valuable that people will pay money for them, you had to turn organized knowledge (i.e. stuff you find on Google, Wikipedia or on the Internet in general) into insights.

That’s what most experts, gurus and teachers do. They sell insights in the form of ideas packed inside a book, a seminar, a podcast or any information products. The value of the information isn’t just in what you present, but how you present it.

Enchantment book

This is precisely what Guy Kawasaki did in his latest book “EnchantmentThe Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.”

Guy took influence to another level by providing action steps, how-to guides, case studies and various examples to help you understand the power of social influence in the digital age.

What I particularly enjoy is the fact that the book is formatted in a way that’s easy to consume and gets the point fast with excellent use of headlines, subheadlines, bullet points and pictures were spotted on.

Here are some of the key parts that I found useful.

  • Chapter 1-3: Explains in detail what Enchantment is all about including likeability and trustworthiness.
  • Chapter 4-7: How to leverage enchantment to launch a business or a product.
  • Chapter 8-9: How to use market via push technology like presentations, e-mails and Twitter (or what marketers call outbound marketing) and how to use pull technology like Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn (inbound marketing).
  • Chapter 10-12: Tips on building relationships with your boss, employees and resist the enchanting wiles of others

It felt like the book is trying to get you to learn it instead of just jamming jargons down your throat. If you want to learn social media influence and persuasion, I highly recommend this book.

I’ve also had the pleasure of speaking with him about his new book recently. You can click below to listen to the podcast: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You can buy Enchantment from Amazon.

Interview with Guy Kawasaki – transcription

Eric: So, can you talk about the difference between this book and the nine previous books?

Guy: Well, some of the nine previous books are easy to differentiate. One was about funny definitions. One was about databases and one was a collection of interviews. But the meat of my writing has been things like “How to Drive Your Competition Crazy”, “Selling the Dream”, “The Art of the Start”, “Reality Check”.

And those books contain some similar material focusing primarily on evangelism. And I would say that “Enchantment” takes evangelism and persuasion and wooing and influence to another level that a lot of those techniques are for transactions.

You evangelize a Macintosh.You persuade someone to buy a Macintosh. You influence someone to buy a Macintosh. But if you are truly likable and trustworthy and have a great product, you can take it beyond the transaction. Beyond the one time purchase of a Macintosh and delight the person with the relationship that’s so strong and so permanent that they’ll not only buy a Macintosh, they’ll buy a Macintosh, an iPod, iPad, iPhone, i anything. And buy books from iBooks and movies and songs.

That’s sort of the goal of the book, to take it to that level.

Eric: OK. That’s great. So, in the book, actually, I had to read it really fast but you defined enchantment as more powerful than traditional persuasion, influence or marketing techniques.

How has the Internet changed traditional persuasion, influence and marketing techniques?

Guy: As opposed to changing enchantment?

Eric: Well, as opposed to, for example, before the Internet came along the way it is today, can people embrace enchantment?

Guy: Yeah. Well, first of all, I have sort of a…perhaps even somewhat contradictory response. On the one hand, if you are likable person and you are trustworthy and you have a great product or service, you could rub two sticks together and be enchanted.

Eric: [laughs] (totally agree)

Guy: OK? The flip side of that is if you are not likable and you are not trustworthy and you have a piece of crap, you could have the most expensive, extensive social media, Internet, digital technology campaign in the world and you won’t be enchanting.

So, it’s not so much that people are enchanting because of social media. It starts with the basics.

Now, if you got the basics, the trustworthiness, the likability in the product, then social media can just take you beyond. Faster, cheaper and easier than ever because you can reach so many people so quickly anywhere in the world.

Eric: OK. So, basically, would you say Internet allows you to build relationships in a mass scale, right? But are they authentic? Are they the same relationship that you would have (in real life) ?

Guy: Well, by definition, if you… with people’s time being finite, if you have a thousand relationships versus 10 and you suspect that the thousand cannot be as deep as the 10.

But having said that, I’ll tell you that in my personal case, I have relationships with thousands of people I could never have prior to the Internet. And so, it depends on how you look at it. Is the glass half empty or half full?

Half empty says, “Well, Guy, you have all these friends that you’ve never met face to face. You’d never have dinner with them. You don’t know what their kids look like.”

It’s very wide but very thin. That’s the half empty.

The half full is, “Guy, you know people in Istanbul and Moscow and everywhere in the world, Brazil.” So, these people you would have never known at all. So, half full is a wow, you have a lot more friends in the world. That’s the way I look at it.

Eric: I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, I looked at almost all the photos that you took when you travel because I’m subscribed to your Posterous. (I was one of the first group of people to sign up and use Posterous and it’s got some interesting people o there.)

OK. So, in this book, you talked a lot about ways to influence others through actions, likability, trustworthiness and even got endorsements from the Godfather of influence himself, Robert Cialdini.

Guy: Yeah.

Eric: I mean he’s just an amazing guy. I love his book. I actually reference it a lot in my marketing. So, how important is influence in becoming enchanter?

Is it like celebrity fame where you can’t just go to the public anymore because people are just going to come up to you? Or is it like the Klout score for Twitter like where you have influence and it’s a number?

Guy: Well, I think that all enchanted is influential but not all influence is enchanting. So, the enchantment is perhaps purer form of the influence. And as I said, influence can be on a transaction basis. One time, temporary, whatever. Whereas enchantment, I think it is a more permanent relationship.

So, Cialdini is definitely the Godfather and created the foundation and I’m just taking it often in a slightly different direction. But yes, he did endorse the book which is pretty influential.

Eric: Yeah, when I saw that I was like, “It’s over. We’ve got to get a couple more copies of this book when it comes out.” So, which quality of persuasion is more important in order to enchant someone?

I mean is there one more important than the others? The ethical persuasion (techniques) like reciprocity, scarcity, liking authority, social proof, consistency?

Guy: Well, in that section, I list the techniques that you just described. And I don’t think it’s so situational that social proof could be very important if you are introducing a consumer gadget.

You want people to see that lots of people have iPods, so lots of people buy iPods. So lots of people see iPods so lots of people buy iPods, all right?

So, that social proof. In another circumstance, it could be reciprocity. You’re not trying to get thousands of people to reciprocate. You are just trying to get one person to reciprocate.

So, it’s like saying what’s the most important marketing technique? Well, it kind of depends on the situation and the product.

Eric: You provided some pretty specific entrepreneur strategies and tactics on creating, launching, and sustaining a business. In order to be successful, what’s the most important thing to master as an entrepreneur beyond having a marketable product or service? I mean obviously, you got to have product and service, right?

Guy: Yeah. I mean you say that as if it’s that easy. [laughs] But it’s not that easy. But let’s assume for a second that you do have that. I think there’s two things.

One is you have to plant many seeds. Today because the Internet has flattened influenced and persuasion. It’s not as simple as well, there’s this opinion leader and he writes for the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times or Business Week and if you get this opinion leader and he or she blesses your product then she or he is going to tell the great unwatched masses to just do what I tell you and game over, right?

That may have been true in the old days but that’s not true anymore. So, now, it could be lonelyboy15 that makes your product successful and he’s got 250 followers on Twitter. And he has a hundred friends on Facebook. How the hell did you know he was so influential and so powerful? Probably, he didn’t know he was.

But it’s all those people who add up that make a Facebook or make a Twitter, right? I don’t think it was because any industry guru declared Facebook and Twitter winners at the start.

Eric: So, how should a beginning enchanter, an entrepreneur, deal with tasks outside of his/her expertise?

Like obviously, everybody got dreams. Everybody talk about it. When it comes to actually doing it. “Hey, I’m just not good at writing copy. I’m not just good.” Obviously, you do that well. I see all the references to the people you give and how do you go about that?

Do you just pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I need help? Help me out.”

Guy: Well, I could tell you what works for me but I maybe an unusual case.

Eric: Well, you’re Guy Kawasaki, by the way. (just a reminder)

Guy: Yeah, well… But it’s not like I’m Nelson Rockefeller’s son or something, right? I didn’t come into this world with any special advantages.

So, in my career, I attribute most of my success to two things. One is I grind it out. I’m willing to grind it out. I’m willing to do an interview anytime you want, any way you want, and I answer my own emails. I do this kind of stuff. Well, most of them, anyway. And so, my secret is grinding it out.

The second thing is I really believe that life is win win. And so, in the book, I discussed that there’s two kinds of people. One is a baker and one is an eater.

And an eater believes there’s this pie and it’s fixed in size and I got to get a bigger slice of the pie as possible.
A baker believes that you can bake bigger and bigger pies. So, I’m a baker. I’m a baker on steroids. I believe that life is not a zero sum gain and I think that attitude… when people understand that’s where you are coming from, they tend to help you.

In this book, the creation of this book, you would be pretty amazed at how many people helped you.
I mean let me just tell you some ways. I need examples because I like to use new examples that Malcolm Gladwell hasn’t used yet, right?

Eric: Right. (now we’re talking!)

Guy: So, I post these kinds of questions on my blog and I say I need an example of this or I need an example of this or tell me your personal story of enchantment.

Every chapter has this personal story at the end, right?

Eric: Right. Love that.

Guy: There are 12 of them. And of the 12, I knew one before the book which is Garr Reynolds. Everybody else came through the woodwork in the Internet. And so, I got these stories from the Internet, from strangers in quotes.

People help me with my Power Point. I’m about to put out badges for the book. Two people did that for me for free just because they… I don’t know. They love me. I don’t know because they love the book and it just… I did a crowd sourcing cover contest and there was a thousand dollar price for that.

And the guy who won is an engineering student in like Singapore or Cambodia or Malaysia or something.

Eric: Indonesia. (Yes, I read the book)

Guy: Professional designer. I’m sorry?

Eric: Indonesia, I think.

Guy: Indonesia, yeah. And so, just time and time again, this kind of stuff just happens and I don’t have scientific proof for but it I think there is a karmic scoreboard. You help a lot of people, help comes back to you.

Eric: So this book has ways to be becoming enchanting as an entrepreneur as well as an employee which kind of what surprised to me when I was reading it towards the end.

What is your recommend for longtime employees who want to enchant on their own journey that lack direction?

Guy: Well, are you saying how to enchant your boss.

Eric: No, like let’s say you are working for someone and you kind of want to just break out of that and start your own thing.

But you don’t really have a direction. You have the passion. Maybe you are tired of it. Maybe you got an idea up.
Do I just buy this book and say follow the whole formula before that and it works.

Guy: Well, just to be accurate, this book presumes that you want to be enchanting, whether it is in your current job or future job, or a new company.

So if you want to learn how to quit and start a company, you should read another of my books called the Art of the Start. I am not to pimp myself too much. But that’s the book for that purpose.

Eric: All right, so make sure you get that book everybody. [laughs] OK, so you had a chapter on overcoming resistance. How should an enchanter deal with failure?

When things don’t go right, and maybe you lost a lot of money doing something, the software is not working…

Guy: Yeah, well first of all, as you get older I think you come to expect that lots of things will fail as opposed to this romantic notion that everything will succeed off the gate and you are the next Google after six months.
So part of that is just this realization that life is tough. And then it becomes a matter of your personality. Do you give up or do you keep going?

And that is one of the toughest decisions to make. I think one of the hardest decisions is when do you decide that it is not working and you should give up.

A very difficult decision.

Because you always hear these stories about the guy who founded FedEx he was on his last payroll and he went to Las Vegas and he made 10 grand. And he met the last payroll and then things turned around the next day.
So you love that kind of story. But for every one of those there is probably a thousand people who didn’t make the last payroll and died.

So you don’t read about those, right?

Eric: No.

Guy: So that’s the challenge. And when you face an adversity, of course it is easy for me to say because I am not facing your adversity, but you just have to suck it up sometimes.

I wish I could tell you that for $26.95 you can buy a book that’s going to fix adversity and prevent you from lot of failure because if that was true, that is a lot, and we’ll price the book a lot higher. And infinite copies would sell. I would wipe up all the forest in the world, cutting down trees to print this book, because so many people would buy it.

No book can do that. We could give you tips, we could give you insights, we can give you slightly better ways, we can even inspire you.

But at the end of the day man, you got to suck it up and you have to grind it out actually.

Eric: Well, one of the things that I’ve noticed about the book, I don’t know if this is the right way to say it, but it makes me feel I need to be a better person, or maybe there are other agendas behind everyone’s actions.
But it’s kind of like when you talk about social proof and when we talk about persuasion and stuff like that, it makes you question yourself.

It makes you question the things you do, that tactics that you use, and how you engage with other people.
And in a way I would say this is kind of similar to Robert’s approach to a lot of things except you kind of put that whole thing into Internet (marketing) strategy with Twitter, Facebook, social media and how to deal with people in general.

So I guess my next question is what do you think about improving yourself through the Internet or is it possible to do that, through building a relationship that you have with people over the Internet, does that help you?

Guy: Well, certainly it helps you. I think it can broaden your perspective; you can gain sort of a 360 view of the world, and of yourself.

And it brings diversity to you in terms of age, and color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, I mean you name it.
So, yeah compared to what, compared to an extreme where you are living in a forest area with no cable, [laughter] yeah absolutely.

I think it has been my experience and I travel all over the world. And maybe I don’t see every element of every society clearly I don’t. But people are more similar than they are different.

And basically people want to have a good life, and have a even better life for their children. It kind of boils down to that. And I have more similar than it is different around the world.

And I think partly, a book like enchantment can help you arrive at that because it helps you change people hearts, minds and actions.

I have a great deal of the book dedicated to the ethics of enchantment, because I think for enchantment to truly work and to truly last, you have to have a very high degree of ethics.

And just in case people encounter people who don’t have a high degree of ethics, there is a chapter though about how to resist enchantment. Which I felt was very important to put in.

Eric: So one last question about the title. Because I am marketing guy and I love book covers and stuff like that. Is that your idea to put your name at the top? It’s almost bigger than the word enchantment?

Guy: Well, we went back and forth about that. So one theory is as the person in a coffee shop tell you, people are going to be confused and think Guy Kawasaki is the title.

Eric: Well, it just happened. (I told Guy earlier that I was reading it at a coffee shop and someone saw the book and thought Guy Kawasaki was the name of the book.)

Guy: Yeah, so that’s not good. On the other hand more people who have heard of my name than they heard of the book by definition because nobody has the book yet. And so we went with the marketing decision that the initial recognition would be the name and not the title.

And we’ll see, what I am really trying to do is I am trying to make the butterfly an icon that, it’s like sort of easily recognizable.

I am trying to own the word enchantment, right. Tom Peters owns Excellence and Geoffrey Moore owns Chasm and Robert Cialdini owns Influence and Persuasion, and Malcolm Gladwell owns Tipping.

And I want to own Enchantment. And so the whole thing is with the butterfly and the red cover, everything is pushing towards that goal.

Eric: Right. I would expect to see your name attached to that when I go to the dictionary.com or Wikipedia.

Guy: Yes, certainly Wikipedia. [laughter]

Eric: One last tricky question. There is a story, really interesting story about you and Richard Branson in there. And I am just kind of wondering, do you ride Virgin more or do you ride United more right now.

Guy: Well, let me tell you something. As of Richard Branson, well just two things. One is Richard Branson. Because he just got on his hands and knees and started polishing my shoes, that’s a kind of leverage.
But the second thing is, this is a good institution of a gentleman. So he has likeability and trustworthiness. That’s two and a three.

But Virgin America is a great airline. The airplane is really nice. It’s WiFi on everyone. The flight attendants are nicer. The cabin is more beautiful, et cetera, et cetera. So if it was just Richard Branson, and he had a crappy airline, I would not fly it. But there is all three. And so I am global services on United, which is the highest level you can be.

And if I was flying to some place that United flew and Virgin flew, I would fly Virgin. And you know, that the way you get to be global services is you have to amass not only a lot of miles, you have to amass a lot of revenue.
Because if someone flies the cheapest coach ticket, a 100 or 150,000 miles a year, is not as good as someone who flies full fare first class a 100 or 150,000 miles a year, right.

So when you start flying other airlines, you risk your global services status. But I just like the plane better and in San Francisco where I fly out of, Virgin America flies out of the international terminal, which is cleaner, newer, cooler, shorter lines.

Because the international terminal is busy late at night, when everybody is flying to Asia and flying to Europe. And you fly at midnight; you get there at 7:00 am, that kind of thing.

So during the day, it’s not nearly as crowded. So you get through the line faster, and to my great sadness this service Clear, kind of died, it is coming back now. It is in Denver, in Orlando, but Clear was the great equalizer.
Because if we had a Clear card, it didn’t matter whether you had first class or coach or whether there was a first class or coach line, because there was always a Clear liner, that was always fast.

But Clear doesn’t exist in San Francisco right now. So it matters. And so for all these factors, yeah, I am a Virgin America.

Eric: It’s almost like they have a superior product in every way that you would not have discovered it had he not polished your shoes.

Guy: You know, that is kind of true. I think, eventually I would have taken it and figured it out.

Eric: I bet, but then you have already invested emotionally, financially into United. And so it is difficult thing, I got a lot out of that story because it is enchantment. He did that. And it doesn’t cost him anything. But that was incredible.

Guy: Yeah. It is also true that he might not do that for everybody, right? But still I can tell you a lot of people who would have done that for no one.

Eric: All right Guy, I really appreciate your time.

Guy: Thank you, bye.

Enchantment infographic
One simple diagram that explains the basics of enchantment.

Enchantment Infographic

Need more enchanting evidence? Check out these Enchantment slides and videos.

Social Media Science: The Five W’s of Twitter Marketing

by Eric Tsai

Social Media Science: The Five W’s Of Twitter Marketing

If you’re doing any kind of Internet marketing you know the importance of fact gathering especially if you’re just starting out investing time, money and resources in social media. We’re now well into the “early majority” phase of social media, it’s time to take a look at some interesting data for a peak behind the social media curtains.

When strategizing your marketing campaign it’s critical to give yourself the highest chance of success. And by that I mean taking meaningful actions from reliable data not just making assumptions.

The “medium” is no longer the message, just habits and channels.

The message, in fact, IS the message.

The Five W’s (and one H) of Twitter

Twitter is probably one of the most talked about social media platform amongst marketers. However; business owners tends to have unrealistic expectations of what it actually can do so let’s focus on the 5 W’s and one H of Twitter.

Since insights don’t announce themselves, I’m going to use the reports from Edison Research, Hubspot, Dan Zarrella and Pew Research to illustrate my points.

These are organized information that can be very useful to help generate insights about your target and the technology they use.

When you have more than just organized data you can make better informed decision on where to allocate your time and resources for your marketing efforts while stimulating new ideas.

Why Tweet

People love to use Twitter to update their personal or professional lives as well as to comment on a relatively wide range of topics. And here is what people like to talk about on Twitter:

what people use twitter for statistics

Although location-based tweets and links to videos are the least commonly mentioned, I suspect that they’ll catch up soon with better, faster and cheaper devices and access to Internet.

Why people follow people?

Another interesting data from Dan Zarrella’s research reveals a list of names you can call yourself to get more followers than the average Twitter account.

Twitter bio words

No surprise here because people naturally like to follow authorities that “appears” to have some sort of influence.

Who Tweets

Despite its popularity, Twitter has yet to go mainstream. But it’s still interesting to see who is using Twitter to identify the demographic should you decide to focus on this channel.

To my surprise there are actually a much higher percentage of African Americans and Hispanics use Twitter than whites.

According to Pew Research, “8% of online adults said they do use Twitter—with 2% doing so on a typical day. This survey also showed that 74% of American adults are internet users, meaning that the Twitter cohort amounts to 6% of the entire adult population.”

Twitter user demographic group

HubSpot’s report also pointed out that 40% of the top 20 Twitter locations in January 2010 are outside North America.

In fact, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science also confirmed the diversity of Twitter users.

The interesting part of it is that Twitter seems to self-segregate around topics and issues with different ethnic groups. So instead of bringing people together in new and innovative ways via technology and Internet, people are more divide as a result.

Another fascinating data about Twitter users is that they tend to be more educated with higher household income which can be cross referenced via data from Edison Research.

Twitter users education

Twitter user income level

For those targeting market segments that are well educated with money, Twitter is definitely worth a look.

The next piece of attractive data is valuable specifically for businesses:

  • 42% of Twitter users wish to learn about products and services
  • 41% already provide opinions about them
  • 28% want discounts and offers and 21% claim to purchase products
  • 19% are using Twitter for customer support

Twitter users  follow brands

If you want to generate some new top-line revenue for your business, you would likely focus on new customer attraction and Twitter is a great place to start. And to do so you should consider putting together a promotional program with discounts to attract those deal hunters.

However; if your goal is to build long term relationship with your customers who will want to keep buying from you, tread carefully before you start tweeting discounts to one-time customers who will never pay full-price.

Knowing your customer on Twitter can greatly increase the effectiveness of your Internet marketing campaign especially when combined with direct response marketing tactics.

Once you know who you’re talking to you just have to find them using a combination of Google and Twitter search, a technique I’ve outlined in this post: How to Use Google and Twitter to Find Your Customers.

What to Tweet

Ahhh…the $54,000 question of what do people tweet? What should you tweet? Well, it really depends on why you’re using Twitter for what purpose.

For this we turn to another Dan’s awesome research on what to tweet to get the most retweet “scientifically.”

what to tweet

What I like about these data is that it provides a solid starting point to craft your Twitter campaign. Needless to say that in marketing “everything is a test” so make sure you are sending out interesting, relevant tweets that communicates value.

When to Tweet

If you’ve done email marketing, you know the importance of timely delivery. It’s about being at the right place at the right time and this applies to Twitter as well.

According to HubSpot’s report, the best day to tweet is Thursday and Friday while the best times to tweet are 3 -5 pm as well as 9 – 11pm Eastern Time.

Twitter tweets distribution by hour

Twitter tweets distribution by day

I’ve personally seen traffic statistics that agrees with those days and times.

Again like the W for “what to tweet,” time to tweet serves as a good foundation to start sending out your well crafted tweets.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean you won’t get retweets or clicks during off peak hours, you just have less traffic to engage with but it also means less competition.

Similar to how often you check your emails, how frequent Twitter users check their tweets also reveal the fact that half of the Twitter users NEVER check their streams which means there is a high chance that they simply won’t get to read majority of your tweets.

Twitter user checking tweets

That doesn’t mean you can’t keep “pushing” out messages. In fact, Guy Kawasaki tweets every minute of every hour of everyday, with repeat tweets too! That seems to be working for him so make sure you have a way to measure and track your retweets and clicks like how you would track your website statistics with Google Analytics.

You can start with free tools like Hootsuite or TweetDeck.

Where to Tweet

Much like the diversity we see in who’s tweeting, the location of where people are tweeting is relatively proportional.

Twitter self reported locations

Location can be a key piece if you’re business requires foot traffic such as retail stores, restaurants or if you’re selling to a specific geographic. Its just another metric to keep your eyes on and overtime you may see a trend developing that’s worth conducting another split testing.

How People Tweet

According to Twitter’s own blog post “The Evolving Ecosystem,” 16% of all new users to Twitter start on mobile now.

Besides Twitter app for mobile devices such as the iPhone and BlackBerry being the most popular ways to access Twitter, third-party apps make up 14% of all unique Twitter users.

top 10 twitter apps

Again this is in line with Twitter users being educated with high household income. I fully expect more mobile usage out of Twitter and more integration efforts from brands to cultivate this dynamic channel.

The take away: Twitter is like a huge chat room (or a big party) with people talking about different things. And people can choose from a variety of interesting conversations on Twitter with different purposes.

Like all decisions in business you must first identify your desire outcome before you jump in. A clear well-defined business and marketing objectives will bring clarity to unrealized assumptions.

And assumptions in marketing should be based on relevant data that can help you connect to your customer’s needs and desires in an attempt to reveal more about how people want to feel rather than just what they think.

Simply put, most of us just won’t come out and say how we feelabout everything in life and this applies to how we buy as well.

We buy base on how we feel not just what we think, it’s a constant battle between the two during the decision making process.

If you want to build a long term relationship with your customers, focus on relationship not just triggering the buy button.

And Twitter is another great platform to cultivate that relationship.

Why are you interested in using Twitter for marketing? Why do you believe you’re better invested there than in other channels of marketing?

I have no doubt that there will be more bright shiny objects like Twitter to come alone in the future but the critical element remains the same: identify the “Five W’s” (and one H) first: why, what, who when, where and how.

At the end, social media is just push marketing with the ability for the other side to push back.

Why You Need Email Marketing More Than Social Media

by Eric Tsai

With more than 500 million active users and the recent surge overtaking Google in time spent on site, you would think that Facebook is the king of content sharing. However; a recently research from Chadwick Martin Bailey found that email still tops Facebook for content sharing.

According to eMarketer, “86% of survey respondents said they used email to share content, while just 49% said they used Facebook. Broken down by age, the preference for email is more pronounced as users get older. And only the youngest group polled, those ages 18 to 24, reverses the trend, with 76% sharing via Facebook, compared with 70% via email.”

So what does this mean to your business?

For one, just like what the article points out social network sharing revealed much of our self-interested motivations behind sharing.

People love stories, especially stories about themselves. Unless you’re an effective marketer, most of us make decisions on how we feel about the relevancy of the content based on what we think was interesting, funny or helpful. Furthermore social sharing via Facebook is more about the person sharing while sharing via email is more about the recipients.

This goes back to knowing the customer and understand the habits of what people use and why. Social media will continue its explosive growth but marketers must not focus on tactics at the expense of strategy.

Here are 3 tips to help you focus on strategy rather than tactics:

Picture Your Outcome

You need the right motivation to help you identify what needs to be done to get the results you want. A Facebook fan page, be on the first page of Google or a YouTube channel is not a goal. They should be the contributing factor to getting your goal.

Set your objectives (usually has to do with sales goals) and figure out the tactics that can get you there efficiently and cost effectively. Reverse engineer from your outcome by doing research, ask questions, conduct tests and architect your sale funnel.

Talk to every customer facing points of your business, come up with a mixture of tactics so when one doesn’t work you have alternatives to implement immediately.

Become Your Customer

It’s always interesting to me that everyone talks about listening and conversing especially in the topic of social media marketing. Don’t get me wrong, there is definite value in monitoring Twitter feeds, LinkedIn Answer or check your sentiment via Social Mention.

The challenge for most marketers is that you’re still thinking from your perspective to simulate what might be going on in your customer’s head.

Don’t just send out surveys. Sit down and talk to as many customers as you can and just drill down with meaningful questions deeper and deeper. Figure out where they’re coming from and what do they think they want.

What does your solution have to do with their challenges? Is it obvious to them that they need your products or services to overcome their problems?

Know the difference between listening and feeling like your customers.

Identify Quality vs Quantity

Generating high quality leads should always be the number one focus over the amount of leads. From a business perspective, it’s about what you do with the lead and the opportunities it generates.

This applies to content as well across blogs, landing pages and social networks. Your audience will find value in your content if it’s relevant in solving their problem. Move the “free line” so they will step into the funnel.

Come up with your own system to rank your leads, clicks, retweets, likes on an ongoing basis and measure the effectiveness and impact of each channel.

It’s useless if you have bunch of weak leads that you spent a lot of time on trying to convert, instead focus on capturing those sales-ready prospects and lead them down the funnel.

Remember people have all kinds of reasons not to buy, it takes time to nurture leads so put more emphasis on finding those already looking for your solution (hot leads) will yield optimal ROI (return on your invested). Try testing your ideas with Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising.

It’s cheap to spend a little and get some proof of concepts that brings clarity to your assumptions.

The Take Away: Email marketing is about your audience and should be consider your top weapon from your marketing toolbox. It’s more personal and secure in many people’s eyes so tread carefully but don’t be afraid to test and find out about your customers. Learn, create, measure and improve.

I’ve always been an advocate of email marketing and will continue to stick with my opinion that email marketing is here to stay but business owners and marketers must recognize the implications of social medias well as SEO on email marketing. For more information on integrated the 3 read: How to Integrate Email Marketing, SEO and Social Media for more details.

How Will Social Media Impact Your Business

by Eric Tsai

I saw a video on the State of Social CRM post on Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang in which Paul Greenberg talks about how companies are having difficulties with cultural changes internally to execute against the new bread of customer, the social customer.

In case you don’t know what CRM is, it’s Customer Relationship Management as described in Wikipedia as a “technology that allows companies to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service.”

What an ear full!

My version would be just an application that keeps track of customer facing activities so you can find the gaps in your service and make adjustments to be more efficient.

The point both Jeremiah and Paul are making is that businesses are still figuring out how to integrate CRM and Social Media so the combination provides meaningful business value.

The shift in how customers use social media is forcing companies to add the social element into their CRM system. They’re both spot on.

It also raises the question that if you’re not in the business of generating value and serving to keep the customer, then what are you in business for?

Social media encourages interaction which leads to generating a new type of intelligence that CRM system were not tracking before. Data such as reactions, activities, sentiments, locations, behavior and preference are converging providing a never seen before clear picture of each customer.

So how does this change the dynamics of your business moving forward?

Well, for one thing you have more leverage as a result of having more available data to target your niche and identify your prospects. In fact, as social CRM matures, I would expect to see companies shift their corporate strategy to ensure that every aspect of customer touch point is aligned with their marketing and sales strategy.

And this is the reason why it requires a true “cultural” change, a mindset really, for businesses to not just think from the perspective of their customer but to become their customer, to feel and empathize with them.

Furthermore, this would mean that the employees may have to do the same by constantly thinking and enhancing the customer experience to the fullest. Instead of just using tools to do sentiment analysis by listening in on what customers are saying, companies can anticipate what customers will say and do before they’ve done it.

Checkout how Salesforce is making their CRM social with Twitter.

This would probably be the ideal desire outcome for most businesses: to proactively facilitate prospects and customers toward a market funnel and minimize customer frustration as problems are addressed before they happen.

Imagine a prospect is interested in finding out more about your product before a purchase, not only would you be able to answer questions using social CRM data to anticipate them, but to personalize your communication and create real-time offering to increase the rate of conversion.

By delivering relevant communication crafted with exactly what the customers want at the right place at the right time, this will be the next phase of effective social influence marketing.

The take away: It is important to recognize this emerging trend in CRM and social media. Even though a cultural shake out would be necessary for companies to fully utilize the benefits of social CRM, it would be wise to start making some basic evaluation of how going social may impact your operations and bottom line.

What’s needed to make that jump and if you’re already using a CRM system, think how you can rally your staff to start thinking about new marketing processes and research more on how you can streamline social media into your CRM.

How to Integrate Email Marketing, SEO and Social Media

by Eric Tsai

Social media is changing how businesses find customers and how customers engage with brands. There are many reasons to believe that it will eventually overtake email marketing, but I’m a firm believer that it’s here to stay.

In fact, I believe email marketing combine with search (SEO) and social media will the best strategy moving forward.

However; let me get a few things straight. First, email is the original social network. Second, you need email to open social network account and get alerts.

And third, search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) will continue to index and aggregate social network data not to mention most social network has their own internal search engine as well.

It sounds like there is a lot of cross-over between the three, so how should you use these three tactics to help you strategize your marketing efforts?

It’s hard to realize how these tactics can impact your business without some basic understanding of the big three. Let’s look at how each works and what you can do to get the most bang for your marketing bucks.

The Big Three #1 – Email Marketing

Why email – Today it’s hard to find someone without an email account and majority of account holders have had it for a while (I still check my hotmail from 14 years ago) thus letting it go is not likely for most.

Account holders may reduce the time they spent on email but it doesn’t have the abandon rate (Facebook, Twitter) like majority of the social networks.

Almost all basic business communications are done via email not via social networks.  The perception is that it’s more secure, private and user friendly (centralized contacts, integrates with calendar, easily accessible via mobile devices).

Simply put, people will use what’s easy to achieve the same goal – to get work done and to communicate.

Another benefit of email is that it’s a direct private channel of communication to alert customers on new product offerings or promotions. At the same time, customers can use e-mail to provide feedback and ask questions.

Done right, you will be kept away from the spam folder and earn a permanent spot on the white list.

This is why great email marketers tend to focus on delivering high value content at the right time, with the proper frequency using attractive subjective lines that encourage clicks and forwards.

Building your email list should still be all marketers’ top priority. Give people a reason to subscribe and to remain subscribed is the ongoing art and science of email marketing.

The Big Three #2 – Search Engine Marketing

Why SEO – This one should be a no brainer. What is the first thing you do when you’re looking to buy a product? If you do your homework you would first Google it.

This applies to almost anybody looking to learn more about a company, a product or how to do something.

Often times, people don’t even question the search results because it’s just easier to trust Google’s rankings and feel good about the decisions you’ve made based on what was found.

It’s no surprise that 79% of United States hiring managers and job recruiters search online information about job applicants according to a recent research commissioned by Microsoft.

This is why smart businesses (and individuals) are putting more emphasis on content marketing and shifting their mindset to operate more like a media company.

They understand search engine is catered to “people” and people want relevant, valuable content that’s going to move them a step closer to identify the information they’re searching for.

The key is to create great content around what your customers are interested in when looking for your product; such as how things work (the outcome of your product or services), step-by-step guides or research reports that reveals product comparisons.

Then tie these high quality content with relevant keywords and over time you’ll likely to move higher through the non-paid “organic” rankings. And today you can SEO anything from websites, blog posts, videos, images, podcasts you name it.

SEO is one of the key marketing arsenals especially for retailers, direct marketers and authors.

The latest Internet Retailer Survey (some sample data below) clearly shows a growing interest and investment in search to drive more online sales. It’s not a matter of why, but how.

There is simply too much information and too little time. Search engine is our instant gratification to today’s ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder) society.

The Big Three #3 – Social Media

Why Social – If search engine is a way for people to find information, then social media is a way for people to find conversations and be part of them.

It adds the credibility fuel to the fire of trust since social media is basically word-of-mouth. Instead of just believing in what you read from company websites or reviews you found online, you can talk to people you trust or listen to experts you follow.

Similar to search, you can get people to your site with social media, and it’s a great tool to tell customer stories, demonstrate expertise, and stack up your social proof to win business from competitors.

The goal is to connect with customers on an ongoing basis to further understand their needs, wants and concerns.

This will help you to build strong, lasting and engaging relationships with your customers for future business as well as referral opportunities by getting people to share your products on social networks to bring in traffic and find new customers.

And since social media is word-of-mouth, it’s your brand’s reputation on the line. Your digital reputation is your first impression and perception is reality.

How The Big Three Can Work Together

Although you can choose to only do one or two of the three, but to get the most out of your marketing investments, you should consider doing all three.

Here are a few ideas to consider on how to leverage the big three:

1) Create Once, Recycle Many– Focus on content not just promotions and sales, it’s about facilitating people through the sales cycle.  People usually don’t buy base on just one piece of data think of it as adding “trust points” to people’s decision to buy.

If prospects consumed a great piece of educational content on your landing page, that’s one point.  If they read some great reviews about your product from a third party site, that’s another point.

If there is more positive comments than negative ones about your brand in social networks, that’s another point.

The goal is to accumulate enough trust so prospects feel good about why they’ve made the decision over you than others.

You want to invest your time and money on creating the best blog content, how-to articles, educational videos, whitepapers or anything that will get your audience to bookmark, download and share.

Then make sure you optimize the content for search engine with the proper keywords and deliver them to the right people in your target channel via email and social networks.

For example let’s say you have a really good article on how to do something (try not to involve your product first, focus on solving the problem then introduce your product later when appropriate), you can package it in a downloadable PDF put it on a landing page that’s highly optimize for SEO.

Then abstract the summary from the content for your email newsletter so you can send your subscribers to that very same landing page, a typical web marketing campaign.

But let’s take it a step further by turning that piece of content into a video (using screen capture tools like Camtasia, or with a webcam or FlipVideo) and upload it to YouTube, Ustream or Vimeo to drive traffic back to your landing page.

Then post the video on your blog, tweet it out via Twitter, send it to relevant groups on LinkedIn or submitted to social network sites like Technorati, Digg, Reddit or StumbleUpon. Continue to produce great content and after 3-6 month you can recycle that piece of content with some updates and do it again.

2) Streamline with Process – Think about how your customers consume information and respond to connections.

It’s NOT jamming the information down their throat like traditional one-way push advertising but allowing them to discover and get permission to establish a relationship.

Talk to your customers, ask them what they read, who influence them and why? Understand what they don’t care about (don’t be surprise if it’s a lot of what you do) is just as important as what they care (a lot of what you should know).

If you make the wrong assumption it will bring you the false conclusion which will impact on how you strategize your campaign.

For example if you know your customer reads certain blogs regularly, should you advertise on their site or is it better to build a relationship with the blogger?

Once you’ve made your decision, focus on identifying the path to your web properties.

Take out a piece of paper and map out that path and create a process to streamline every possible step that your customer may take so you can funnel them via your sales pipeline.

Remember, not everyone consumes media the same way, some people like to read while others prefer to watch videos or listen to a podcast.

It’s important to have as many media options as possible available to maximize engagement opportunities.

3) Target, Track and Repeat – Without the right data you won’t know where to focus your marketing efforts and no accountability in your actions.

What happens after your prospect conducts a search?

What actions were taken after consuming your content?

Was it shared on Facebook or forwarded to a colleague?

The biggest benefit from tracking your email, search and social media analytics is that you will be able to tie them all together and figure out your ROI.

You’ll know where your site visitors are coming from, which email links they clicked on and what gets shared so you can make adjustments to improve conversion rates.

Why continue to do something that doesn’t work?

You need to know so you can keep doing what works and stop doing what doesn’t. Perhaps Facebook is not the best social network to target your audience or is it because your marketing messages aren’t resonating with them?

Marketers must aggregate customer behavior information to build a holistic view of the customer.

This means analyzing quantitative data to measure and monitor customer-related metrics such as customer attrition rate, customer retention rate, number of products purchased, repeat purchases, likelihood to recommend, etc.

When you have the right customer insights, you’re in a position to address customer needs, improve processes (to shorten the sales cycle), and to maintain a strong connection for an opportunity to turn customers into fans and fans to brand evangelists.

Do Your Homework, Fish Where Fish Are

Before you start, you should learn where your customers are at, the tools they use and why.  This allows you to make better informed decisions and build a framework for your assumptions before you jump in. You can find some valuable research data from the internet and here are two examples I’ve found.

First is the Morgan Stanley Internet Trends Analysis, which has a lot of in-depth information about all things internet, mobile, cloud computing, email, social networks and more. (Check out slide 12 on social networking vs email usage).

Morgan Stanley Internet Trends Analysis

The second report is from Edison Research on “Everything You Need To Know About Who’s Using Twitter.” I found it particularly interesting that people actually go to Twitter to learn about products, far more than they do with other social networks. (51% of active Twitter users follow companies, brands or products on social networks)


Twitter Usage in America 2010

The take away: Email marketing, search engine optimization and social media are all great, but it takes a combination of know-how and creativity to get people just to open your e-mail, to click on your search results or to retweet your messages.

Business owners and marketers need to have some technical knowledge of what methods produce positive results.

Your goal should be to have a mix and balance of the big three utilizing content strategy that is useful and easy to share.

Think like a publisher, not only do you have to figure out ways to engage your subscribers (and to remain subscribed) but also prospects, people on the fence and try to sway influencers your way.

Yes, it’s time consuming like what Jay Baer mentioned recently but think of it as investing in your customers, you get what you put in.  It’s easy to setup your email newsletter, social network accounts and have SEO gurus optimizing your site, those are executions of tactics NOT strategy.

First, learn before you start, listen before you talk and research before you decide.

You’re better off investing your marketing dollars to build your own targeted database (and customer segmentation!) with accurate information.

Questions on email marketing, search engine optimization or social media? Subscribe to my newsletter and get more tips on the full potential of integrated digital marketing.

3 Keys to Build Your Online Community

by Eric Tsai


There has been a few interesting development recently on the social web specifically with Facebook replacing the ‘become a fan’ phrase with a ‘Like button‘ and launching ‘Community Pages‘; expect all mainstream websites to gradually adopt the like button enabling visitors to see if their friends or family like the content (peer influence) as well as the number of people liking something.

The other news is Twitter’s new tool that allows tweets to be directly embedded on third-party sites, making it easier to quote and share content .

This growing trend of the web becoming social will continue to encourage people to use it social.

The more social the web gets, the more conversations it generates resulting in a permanent record of everything and anything people talk about, including your brand. Even if you’re not online or don’t have an online business, internet will continue to record down what people say about your brand.

And reputation is word-of-mouth thus it will only benefit your business if you include your community in defining your brand. So how can brands take control of their reputation via the social web?

One solution is through community building, the foundation of your brand’s reputation.

What’s In A Community?

Think of your community as a single platform where people can all gather to interact with your brand and each other expressing their opinions about your products and services.

You don’t need  thousands or even hundreds of people to start a community, it can be started with just a few people with the same interest and are willing to participate.

When building a community consider the following groups that makes up the community ecosystem:

Prospects – Interested in your product or want to learn more about it
Customers – Made a purchase already
Employees – Individuals that works for you and/or stakeholders
Vendors – You bought from them (suppliers, service providers, operating expenses)
Partners – Companies or individuals that you have business relationship with, a reseller or distributor of your products
Media – Journalist or publications that covers your industry or your product category
Regulators – Authorities or individuals that regulates your industry, could be government or non-government

If you’ve been in business for a while, you should be familiar with the groups above.  The idea of having your own online community is to centralize communication via a single platform where you can empower members of your communities to interact with each other and engage with your brand.

How Communities Benefit Brands

Why would companies want to spend time, resources and money on building their community? The answer is simple, community defines your brand, demonstrates social proof and creates business opportunities.

Defining your brand – So instead of trying to control how you want people to see your brand, the ideal approach is to become part of that process by providing a dedicated community.

A platform that allows prospects, customers, peers, colleagues and stakeholders to interact with each other,  ask questions about your products, comment on their service experience or simply give praises.

This is why brands are uniting their customers and fans online using platforms such as an online discussion forum, a Facebook Fan Page, or a LinkedIn Group as their primary ‘homebase’ to build their community. It’s fast, simple and easy to do.

In addition you can expand the community offline or locally adding tools such as Meetup.com, Amiando or Eventbrite. The goal is to provide easy access across multiple channels for your fans to hangout and express their feelings and ideas about your brand.

Social Proof and influence -The best way to change people’s behaviors is through peers that they trust and/or respect.

Done right, your community will become one of your most powerful marketing vehicle helping you sell via conversations and defending your brand during crisis.

This is also an emerging trend as many brands are leveraging customers and employees as brand advocates to help spread the “brand voice.”

If prospective customers read some comments on how great your services are and sees many happy customer feedbacks (via your Facebook wall, Yelp, Amazon or blog), you’re likely to move them further down the sales cycle not to mention the information can be used for marketing as well as support reference.

Even Toyota is bouncing back from it’s PR nightmare because the brand still has a strong following and they’ve earned their customer’s trust over a long time. This is why sports fans are loyal to their teams and often go to the distance to defend their teams/players because they are part of a specific team’s fan community.

Opportunities to improve – Another benefit of building an online community is over time your community will accumulate enough information to enable you to abstract valuable insights to improve your products, services and reputation.

One of the more popular approach is using crowdsourced data to help craft marketing campaigns and get the community involve to deepen the trust and create brand awareness.

And with those that are concern about negative word of mouth?

My recommendation is to have a plan in place so you can respond in a timely matter with the right social media and crisis management policies.

This way, when things go south, you can quickly pinpoint the problem and identify the proper solution to resolve the issue. In fact, it’s an opportunity to turn negative buzz to strengthen the relationship with customers.

As for managing the community it really depends on how your organization is structured for customer engagement.

For example, during presale you can task your sales team to answer pre-sale questions and have your customer support staff responsible for postsale engagement.

Then categorize and archive the Q&As to be used in the future for prospectives and customers.

You can import them into your CRM system or publish them as FAQs.

Keep in mind that managing the community should not be limited to the marketing department.

In fact, the marketing department should help facilitate the interaction to improve the brand experience by providing insights abstracted from the community to other department.

Product engineers can learn how customers are using the product, sales staff can identify the main concerns of prospective customers and marketers can better position and communicate more effectively.

If your organization needs to hire a community manager, I highly recommend following the Community Maturity Model by The Community RoundTable, a private peer network for community managers and social media practitioners.

According to The Community RoundTable, “this model does two things. First, it defines the eight competencies we think are required for successful community management. Second, it attempts – at a high level – to articulate how these competencies progress from organizations without community management that are still highly hierarchical to those that have embraced a networked business ecosystem approach to their entire organization.”

This is an excellent way of looking at what’s necessary to build a serious, large scale community.

As for small businesses, I recommend to simply focus on 1 or 2 of the competencies below that aligns with your business objectives and just keep working at it.

Use a systematic approach to nurture your community and determine how it impacts your business.

Are you ready to start building your online community?

3 Keys to Building Your Community

1) Intent vs Outcome – Know why you’re doing this, what the community is about and be prepared to respond to unexpected outcomes.

Create policies and define a clear purpose also helps to motivate members by giving meaning to participation and build collaborative work by providing a common focus.

With clarity, members will define the purpose on a common ground to grow the community.

Once trust and respect are earned from the community, members will be more incline to be loyal to your brand and what you stand for which should be beyond just a profit-making machine.

It’s a commitment between the community and its members.  Your reward as a business should be fueled by the appeal you have with the community.

This is why a growing number of companies are investing in content marketing by publishing free resources to influence the perception of brand value and demonstrate expertise.

2) Communicate with Meaning and Authenticity – The key in building a meaningful community is to be authentic and stay true to you brand.

If you ask your customers what your brand means and you don’t like the answer, perhaps you need to rethink your brand strategy, marketing communication and your corporate culture.

Effective communities develop leadership teams, equip and deploy members for action, understand and engage with their community purpose to achieve impact.

Besides, if you already have customers out there, they may be waiting for you to provide a platform to speak.

Companies are humanizing themselves and to be human is to have a personality. You must accept that you will make mistakes and not everyone is going to like your personality.

However, you should be able to demonstrate expertise in whatever it is that you provide via free education and resources.

If you say what you mean and mean what you say, your community will be on your side.

3) Serve First, Sell Later – The perception of an expert is not only to have invaluable knowledge but a positive reputation. Focus on the needs of your members by making things as easy and frictionless as possible.

It’s a team effort, the community as a whole never just about one person but a collective effort to keep the community going.

The bottom line is community builds trust and it’s not related to making money.

Focusing on financial gain leads to short-term decisions based on cost that’s not sustainable for the future. A focus on the community (or the customer), on the other hand, can lead to happy customers, employees, and partners.

I thought this TEDtalk by Derek Silvers on “how to make a movement” was an interesting way to think about building a community for your brand and why leadership may be over glorified. The video is about 3 minutes long.

The take away: Brands have customers and when these customers have reasons beyond the product and services that they sell, there is a cause.

That cause is what motivates people to connect and spread your brand’s idea.

The greater the commitment to a cause the greater the commitment to the community.

Like the great American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed. It is the only thing that ever has.”

Whether it’s in a social network or a weekly local meeting, ALL brands should consider fostering relationships through community building.

For me, I have my blog and Facebook Page to build my community.

Do you have a platform to grow your community? Where should your customer go when they want to be part of what you do and what you believe in?