9 Keys to Increase Website Conversion Rate and Turn Visitors into Customers

by Eric Tsai

9 tips to effectively increase your website conversion rate

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you might remember a post I wrote recently called Why Attention is the New Currency Online. When I wrote it, I had been working to create a process to audit website conversions.

Ultimately it turned into an article about capturing attention online because without attention there would be nobody looking at your links, images, videos and compelling content.

And without people reading your content, you certainly won’t get any clicks. When people read your content online, links and clicks follow.

However; you don’t want just any click, you want qualified prospects clicking on your links, visiting your website and consuming your content.

Let’s be clear, getting attention is only part of the equation to help you increase conversions but it does not automatically equals to conversion.

For those of you who don’t know why qualified traffic is important, let me just say that if you want to increase conversions of your landing page or your ecommerce store, this is crucial.

What is a Conversion?

How does the value of a conversion relate to the return on investment of a marketing campaign?

Basically a conversion is an action a user takes on your site that has value to your business.

Typically it’s a sale but it can also be a newsletter sign-up, a download of a file, viewing of a video, or a request for more information.

If you know what a conversion is worth to you, and the percentage of traffic visiting your conversion page versus the traffic that do convert (the conversion rate), then it is easy to calculate your return on investment (ROI) for just about any marketing campaign.

Conversion Rate and ROI Calculation

From the calculations above, you may think that if you want to increase ROI, you just need to increase CR right?

You’re on the right track but that’s not the entire story here because conversion rates typically depend on two factors:

  1. Qualified traffic – The goal is to capture only traffic that’s more likely to convert. This is where direct marketing is heavily used to grab the attention of the visitors. A valuable piece of content, a paid search ad or recommendations from social media channels are just a few ways you can use to obtain qualified traffic.
  2. Landing page – A landing page is a specific area of your website where traffic is sent (via links from online advertisements, organic search results, social media or email) specifically to prompt a certain action or result.  And since a visitor usually lands on a page after clicking on a link, it’s important that the links you use to send traffic to your website is relevant to what that person is looking for. Once on your landing page, it’s basically a tactic of one-on-one selling so if it’s not what people are looking for, you will likely get a low conversion.

There are tons of strategies to get qualified traffic (paid search, SEO, email, display, affiliate, etc.), but today we’re going to look at things that you can do to your website to help you improve your conversion rate.

These tips are easy to implement and can start improving your results immediately.

9 Keys to Increase Conversion Rate

I’m going to give you my recommendations, I also want to share a few principles that I believe are crucial in building a website that attracts thousands of high quality links.

The following steps can also be used for your landing page audits.

Use a simple scorecard format to quickly determine what you may need to do to increase your conversion rate.

Here is an example of a score card (you can download the landing page audit scorecard here)

landing page scorecard

1. Know Your Audience

The most important thing that you can do to increase your conversion rate is to know who you’re targeting and tailor your content for that person.

When a new visitor lands on your site for the first time and clicks on a link or goes to your product page, and doesn’t buy anything (or fill out a lead form), then you’ve probably lost them for good.

In my own testing I’ve found that addressing your message to a specific demographic can give you a nice life in conversions.

In fact, when I tried to cover as much features and benefits as possible (thinking that’s just adding value), I tend to get less clicks and low conversions.

2. Focus on Positive User Experience

A landing page is tailored to fit the specific call?to?action (that you designated) and is often the first page a visitor sees when clicking on a link. The challenge is to ensure that you are optimizing an exceptional online experience for visitors and also producing high ROI.

So what is considered an exceptional online experience?

It’s basically providing visitors with accurate, relevant and useful information to meet their needs. But do it in an entertaining and engaging way to differentiate yourself.

None of the bait-and-switch tactics or hype that’s overpromised and under-delivered.

positive user experience ads

A positive user experience usually focuses on a single message with a strong call-to-action that are written in plain language with no more than 7-12 words.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to combine all the features and benefits of your offer, instead focus on the highest value outcome.

Once you have a clean and precise message, you can make it credible with branding elements such as logos and security icons (third-party verifications) or use stories and testimonials. This will give confidence to the visitor which can have a positive impact on conversion as well.

Perfecting, or at the very least improving, customer experience has replaced customer loyalty as the ultimate corporate PR and brand reputation.

Put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and ask: would I scroll down and read this?

Would I fill out this form and give my personal information?

Why would I click here?

3. Develop Your Value Proposition

A value proposition is basically your offer. What are the main selling points? Why should the visitor buy right there and then? It may sound obvious to you but a clear value proposition is the foundation to your conversions.

Your landing page should address the top questions and concerns prospects have about your offer. And it usually goes back to the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place and promotion.

Too often, marketers focus too much on “promotion” instead of combining the other three Ps.

You may find after studying the competition that increasing or decreasing your price is likely to result in better conversions, for example. Perhaps there is a distribution channel, such as the social networks or email marketing; you haven’t fully integrated into your marketing mix.

And with products, developing a new product or re-package an existing product may provide a lift to your overall conversion as well.

You are likely to increase the chance of conversion if you have a clear value proposition that pushes the visitor to take action with your offer.

Ask yourself whether your landing page is helping people to make their decision.

If it’s not, then why should people do what you ask of them? (Purchase a product, sign up for newsletter or request a demo…etc.)

Don’t forget to research your competition so you know how your value proposition stacks up.

The new consumer-led digital revolution is all about exceeding customers’ expectations via influence.

Simply put, influence is conversion rate.

4. Cater to Online Reading Habits

What doesn’t get read doesn’t get clicked on. This is a simple logic that many marketers failed to recognize that there is a fundamental difference between people reading online and offline.

Accordingly to Dr. Jakob Nielsen’s eye tracking studies, “People rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences.”

Unlike traditional media or what he calls “linear media” such as print and TV, people expect you to construct their experience for them. Basically readers are willing to follow the author’s lead.

However websites are considered “non-linear media“, where the rules reverse. Users want to construct their own experience by piecing together content from multiple sources, emphasizing their desires in the current moment.

In fact, Dr.Jakob conducted an eye-tracking study and found that people are read in F-shaped patterns when reading web content.

F-shape reading pattern

This is why you should use attention call-outs such as headers, subheads, paragraphs, and bullet points with words that users will notice when scanning down the left side of your content in the final stem of their F-behavior.

The idea here is to layout your content so the readers will WANT to read but keep in mind that the F-pattern should be considered descriptive, not prescriptive.

It’s all about giving you the highest chance of grabbing attention.

5. Create Compelling Copy with Clear Headlines

The first things a visitor reads after landing on your page is your headline. This is when you need to pass the smell test.

If your headline is anything less than clear, informative and compelling, you  will bore or confuse your visitors into leaving.

On the other hand, a well-written headline can drive your visitors to take a closer look even if it’s just text.

Have you noticed how some landing pages are super long?

These landing pages are called “long-form” sales letter that typically consists of a title, subtitle, bunch of paragraphs, images, testimonials and a few buy buttons on a plain-looking page that you have to scroll on and on.

Think about it, if it doesn’t convert well why would there be so many long-form landing pages online?

The truth is people only read what they’re interested in even if it appears to be too long!

The key is to do so in an engaging way that will connect with your audience, it can even be fun and entertaining.

One of my ways to start creating engaging copy is to use the five W’s and one H technique. Here is an example of this:

  • Tell them why they’re about to read the page
  • Tell them who’s it for
  • Tell them what’s in it for them
  • Tell them where they’re at or where they can get it
  • Tell them when they can get it (i.e. limited time offer)
  • Tell them how it works or how it relates to them

The goal is to focus on everything you think will push them one step closer to taking your converting and nothing more.
Make sure you get to the point with actionable content (tell them what to do next) that focuses more on the outcome rather than the feature.

You may want to check out the following articles to help you create compelling content:

How to Create Magnetic Copy to Maximize Your Content Appeal.

7 Ways To Elevate The Perceived Value Of Your Content.

If you know your customer well enough, you should know what they want.

Focus on wants at the beginning not needs.

6. Leverage Image or Rich Media to Direct Attention

Images, videos or testimonials can motivate visitors and trigger emotions. This can have a positive impact on viewers to want to read more about your product and explore the site longer.

Studies have showed that people perceived websites as more “professional” or “trustworthy” when they had images of people on the site.
However; you don’t want to just take any stock photos that relates to your message and load it up on your site.

Instead images can be used to effectively change visitor behavior substantially.

According to a study by Bunnyfoot, subtle changes such as using the right images can direct and guide the visitor’s eyes where you want them to go.

Visual Eye Tracking Study

I thought this was an interesting study and one that you should consider when adding images to your landing page.

When using images and videos, ask yourself whether that piece of content is drawing attention away from your persuasive message or adding to it.

7. Create Content with SEO in Mind – SEO Copywriting

A great tactic that you should put in practice is to integrate your copywriting with SEO (search engine optimization).

SEO copywriting is a technique that tries to optimize your site around a keyphrase that can send you organic search traffic. Done right you can even turn research-intent traffic into converting traffic.

The goal is to get search engine rankings for a relevant phrase around what you’re trying to rank for that can bring you “qualified” traffic.

For example, if someone is looking for “men’s running shoes review” and your online store happens to have a blog with articles comparing all the latest running shoes on the market, the visitor may read the article and decide to bookmark and come back later. Or better yet, the visitor reads the article ended up buying a pair of shoes from your online store.

Obviously you need to know the keywords that your audience uses in order to rank for those keywords.

You can get an idea on the competitiveness of your keywords by using Google’s Keyword Tool to see what phrases are popular and the volume of searches on them globally and locally.

Once you have those keywords, simply remember to use it in your content in addition to HTML areas such as the title tag, meta tags, anchor text in links, and permalinks.

Here is an example of my SERP result, notice the bolded words that highlights the keywords that’s in my title and descreption.

SEO copywriting title descreption

If you use a platform like WordPress (what I use), then all you have to do is install one of those All-in-One-SEO plugins and you’re set.

8. Test, Adjust and Repeat

The golden rule of any direct response marketing is to ensure you evoke a measurable, tractable response.

This means constant testing of your landing page using methods such as a/b split testing or multivariate testing.

The concept is simple.

You want to have variations of the page to be tested on an ongoing basis so you can improve conversion rate.

  • What is an A/B split test? A classic direct marketing tactic, A/B testing is a method of marketing testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response rates It’s typically performed to determine the better of two content variations
  • What is a multivariate test?
    A slightly more complex test, multivariate test is a process by which more than one component of a website may be tested in a live environment. It can be thought of in simple terms as numerous A/B tests performed on one page at the same time.

By conducting tests on your landing page, you will be able to determine which headline is more effective or what layout works better.

Here is an example case of an A/B split test that I did on my email marketing.

The objective was to determine if removing the sidebar would result in a better overall performance. I also tested two different email subject line to see which one opens better.

split test email

The obvious winner here is the control version. The result indicated that the new version (without sidebar) has a higher open rate compare to the control version (email with sidebar), but the conversion rate was substantially lower.

Keep in mind that with testing you want to make sure you gather enough data (sample size) to ensure that your tests are statistically relevant.

Sounds complicated?

Well, thanks to Google, you can use their Google Analytics Content Experiments to conduct both of these tests for free!

Or for more advanced folks, you can try Visual Website Optimizer, UnbounceMonetate, or Sitespect.

When it comes to testing, here are some ideas you can use:

  • Test different headlines, sub headlines and ad copy
  • Test different version of the same logo, icons, layout of testimonials and even colors
  • Test different call-to-actions and buttons (i.e. try this vs. buy now)
  • Test different images or videos (swap image for video and vice versa)
  • Test different forms (embed in different areas of the site, reduce required fields)
  • Test different offers (use incentives to see how discounts or coupons work differently)
  • Test long versus short sales page
Checkout WhichMVT for a full list of reviews and comparisons on testing tools.
And for case studies and test ideas, visit WhichTestWon.

9. Track and Analyze Your Landing Pages

One thing that you can do to benchmark your landing page is to install Google Analytics. If you are using Google Analytics you will know that it’s an invaluable tool that’s again – totally free!

By using Google Analytics you will know the sources that deliver traffic to your landing pages from pay-per-click (PPC), email marketing, social media, organic searches or even offline advertising channels.

Knowing the source of your most profitable traffic is the key to increase ROI.

The more detail you get with where traffic comes and goes the more clear you will see how visitors reacts to your offer.

There are many ways to aggregate your website data from Google Analytics but if you want to focus on conversion rate, start by looking at the following areas (just to name a few):

  • Traffic source – where are people coming from? This is your channel acquisition strategy.
  • Visitor loyalty – How long do people stay? How many pages do they visit and how many times do they visit between two or more times.
  • Bounce rate – How relevant is your landing page? Bounce rate measures the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from where they landed on. The more relevant your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert
  • Keywords – This shows you what queries (keywords) are mapped to your landing pages that sends you traffic. This is a good indicator of what keywords your website is ranked for and how search engines interpret your content.

There are so many important variables to consider when tracking your pages, you can also track clicks or heatmap on your layout and navigations via Google Analytics (In-Page Analytics section) or something like Crazy Egg, Click Density, Click Tale or Attention Wizard.

heatmap analytics

Last but not least, listen and learn from your customers to make sure what you’re tracking matches to the story your data is telling you.

It’s as easy as picking up the phone and call the customers yourself!

If you aren’t able to do that, try conducting regular online surveys or implement some type of post-sale customer feedback system.

The Take Away

In the era of engagement, consumers no longer separate marketing between in-store or online experience—it is the experience.

Whether you’re making a sale in person or receiving a conversion online, conversion rate is the vote of confident that creates personal relationships.

It is trust, likability, authority and ultimately, influence.

Nothing prevents you from trying to increase your conversion rate. If you do nothing, your conversion rate will normalize over time (stays the same).

However; while conversion is an important factor to the profitability of your marketing, you shouldn’t lose sight on the big picture – that’s building your brand equity.

When you have brand equity, you have top-of-mind recalls.

This means you command attention and your message will have a higher chance of cutting through the noise of the increasing irrelevant landscape of “push” advertising.

Conversion rate will eventually reaches the point of diminishing returns – when your investment yields progressively smaller profits.

That’s when you need to take your budget and put it into a higher ROI marketing vehicle.

Until then, keep testing.

 

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

A Holistic Approach to Marketing: Integrating Social, Search and People

by Eric Tsai


As the dust begins to settle on the endless possibilities of social media, marketers are gearing up for the next wave of digital growth.

From Google’s report on mobile is finally making an impact on search to how social media is used by 25% of the companies worldwide, I’ve always focused on opportunities that align with business objectives. Especially if there is a win win situation for both consumers and brands.

As the demand for businesses to be more transparent and social media becomes mainstream so has the technology that supports it. This is happening both in B2C (business to consumers) and B2B (business to business) verticals creating a massive disruption to challenge traditional business models.

It’s also the reason why the future of marketing will require media channels to integrate into a dynamic attribution model that supports business intelligence.

Information influence learning and learning = behavior change

Today, consumers demand quality services, accountabilities and value for money.

Whether you’re an agency, a consultant or a business owner (trying to do your own marketing), marketing now demands you to back up your assumptions about your customers with data and actionable insights.

Effective marketers are already using direct response tactics to abstract data  for re-targeting and segmentation.

As the adoption curve is changing how consumers engage brands online, the value proposition is changing.

And if the value proposition is changing, can you sell in the same way?

Your marketing strategy should emphasize on getting more insights on your target market to help you improve your value proposition. (what does your customer want today vs 3 years ago?)

Besides the ROBO (research online, buy offline) and TOBO (try offline, buy online), you now have social influence, digital word-of-mouth and public reputation records.

This is why I’m a big believer in a balance portfolio of media acquisition from search, social to SEO.

Paid search: Google, Bing and Facebook

If you want to get immediate, relevant traffic, I invite you to check out paid search such as Google Adwords, Microsoft AdCenter (Bing) and Facebook Ads.

If you don’t have any affiliates or email lists but you want rapid result, there is nothing better than putting some money to work for you in terms of testing your hypothesis on where to get your traffic.

Especially with Google and Bing, you will be able to target those that are either doing research or those that are ready-to-buy but just fishing for the best deal. People submit a search query and you display your direct response ad copy to see if they click on your link.

So why would Facebook ad qualified as paid search?

Well it’s because Facebook is the latest hybrid of search and social.

Although Facebook users are passive, it offers mass reach with hyper-targeting opportunities based on a user’s profile, “likes,” and interests.

You see if you’re logged in to your Gmail while searching on Google, your search results are ‘personalized’ for you. On the other hand you friends’ recommendations show up in real time when you’re logged in Facebook while searching on Bing.

The search engine is becoming more tailored towards user interests and the influence of their social networks for even better direct response and behavioral targeting.

Although Google is still the dominant force in search engine marketing, I must say that Facebook is facilitating a new kind of marketing online leveraging social interactions.

An easy way to look at it is to understand that in Google you’re targeting people that are further down the sales funnel while Facebook targets the entire conversion funnel that includes demand harvesting demand generation.

I see the viral potential via the social factor in Facebook as a good enough reason for brands to start building a fan base while the cost is still low.

Like Adwords, the cost of Facebook ad will only going up as it’s already been reported by Efficient Frontier that the CPC (Cost per click) has gone up 40% from last year’s Q1 to this year’s Q1 as competition heats up.

I will go into more detail on Facebook marketing in upcoming post.

Content marketing: Social media and SEO

Content marketing has long been about creating quality content as leverage for SEO to build and raise an online profile. This is why content distribution and syndication tactics were widely used in the past few years to create inbound links that build authority in the eyes of the engines.

Although seemingly low cost compare to paid search, SEO isn’t just about links or quality web content because you pay on the backend in the form of time and up keeping of your links.

Think of it as getting a really good deal on an expensive car, there is still the cost and risk of ownership and maintenance.

In fact, generally SEO is a far more profitable strategy for long term lead generation especially if you can corner a niche with little competition for certain keywords, you will be able to show up on the first page of Google with little effort.

And now, the search engines are adding social signals to the mix as an additional measure of quality and relevance.  Social content such as images, articles, video, tweets and even comments directly correlates to search queries are now inbound link in organic search results.

Let’s look at an area that I think are widely overlooked by marketers.

For example, explore local searches via social profiling (name, address, phone, site, social links, etc.) to boost the visibility of your local site on the web.

Start with Google Places Listing if you want to be listed locally then go through other categories on the side bar of Google searches.

From my observations in Adwords and SEO, geo-local keywords aren’t yet as saturated compare to general keywords which presents a lower barrier to entry if you combine it with your “brand” keywords.

Identify the keywords you want to rank for in top search engine results page (SERP) and often you’ll find low-hanging fruits in longtail keywords that aren’t as competitive especially in niche markets.

And finally, search Google with keywords that your customers would use in another state to see if you can tie localized keyword in there. You’d be surprise on how different the search results may be.

Don’t forget the social factor in SEO. The fact that Google and Bing organic links can display peer recommendations is another attribution to conversion.

The take away: Advertising online is easy, you place an ad on Google or send out a tweet on Twitter or even leaving a comment on a blog can bring you traffic.

Acquiring quality traffic that will help you achieve your goal whether it’s to build your email list, sell your products or call you for a consultation, it simply has to be relevant. Combine search, social and SEO is the optimal way to get the most out of your Internet marketing efforts.

For short-term validations, pay per click (PPC) in any form is one of the most cost effective online advertising methods to test out your hypothesis.

For short-term campaigns, add social media to your targeting strategy will help you abstract more data about your target audience.

For long-term sustainable ROI, I recommend incorporating SEO strategy to help you reduce affiliate leverage and take control of your overall marketing costs (think diversification).

It’s indicative that marketers should incorporate a holistic approach to gain full visibility of the marketing funnel.

This meaning to attribute the proper “assists” across all the touch points from social to search.

At the end, it’s all about having the right data that tells you what people actually do so you can make better business decisions to optimize and engage.

The Two Essential Elements for Online Marketing Success

by Eric Tsai

Much has been written about Internet marketing strategies and how marketers can leverage techniques to get the desire outcome. What isn’t discussed enough, at least from my perspective, is the need to go beyond techniques, tools and analysis to get a long-term sustainable ROI (return on investment).

To be success in Internet marketing, you need to have the ability to see the big picture strategically and zoom in to the details tactically with your execution.

It’s what Steven Schussler calls the “helicopter view,” so you gain enough mental altitude to see the overall objectives while still be able to descend, hover, and see the details, too.

Sustainable ROI goes back to the roots of direct marketing and direct marketing focuses on measuring, iterating and never stop testing.

But where do you start and how do you know what you’re doing is right?

Well, I’m going to share some tips that have guided me for years.

Understand Significance vs Success

The key to online marketing success isn’t just about getting the ROI, increase conversion rates or fascinating content that gets viral social media sharing.

It’s your ability to identify the significance and success of what you do.

Let’s get into more details here.

Significance: This is about making the most impact with what you can do. This is also an area where you select the weapon of your choice whether it’s SEO, email marketing, social media, paid search (PPC) or content marketing.

Think in terms of how to get the most value out of the tactics you choose with the least effort. This requires you to further question your objectives and dig deeper to ask the question why and how.

Success: This is about achieving your goals. Sustain high ROI in PPC, be on the first page of Google organically, receive thousands or retweets and Facebook likes and finally delivering the sales target for the month.

It’s the satisfying aspect of your marketing that keeps you going and bringing you money. It’s also a confidence booster to keep measuring and testing your hypothesis.

You know you’re doing something right to attract the audience you want and your strategy is working.

Not only does this give you more motivation to be even more successful, it also aids in elevating your credibility and authority as a marketer.

Find what’s significant

Many marketers and business owners are used to the way they approach their business that often they forget business is a living, breathing thing. It requires constant innovation to develop a business model that’s sustainable for the short-term.

I’d argue that the same applies to marketing strategies.

The point is that when you do marketing, you should keep questioning yourself on what’s important and why.

Perhaps you have a goal to increase traffic by 200% but how significant is that to the business?

Does more sales equates to more profits?

How do you gain top line profits?

Are repeat customers buying high volume, low margin items?

The point is that you need to translate the value of your marketing objectives to a long-term business value. It’s not just about translating web and social analytics to business data. It’s looking at for both short-term and long-term impact of your actions.

How does social media fit into my media acquisition strategy?

What does the number of Twitter followers, Facebook fans, RSS subscribers mean to a brand?

How will it change in 3 years? 5 years?

Clarity matters but more importantly, it’s about developing a framework around the strategy you’ve developed to achieve business goals for the long run.

Define meaningful success

It’s true that you can get clients with a proven ROI, to the point that it becomes your marketing (reputation is marketing).

But ROI is really only half of the story.

The truth of the matter is, you can’t have really good ROI without really good data. And since businesses are using data as the top performance metric, it’s really important to know what to measure and how to measure success with data.

Why? Because there is an oversupply of data and there is a growing demand in manipulating and extracting meaning from large data sets. We simply don’t realize just how fast and how much data is being created that may help us make better business decisions.

Simply put, you need to define meaningful wins and back it up with data that supports your success.

In fact, I couldn’t agree more with the statement “data is the plastic of the 21st century” made by Om Malik of GigaOm said during the Structure Big Data Conference.

Business models evolve with human behaviors so why wouldn’t KPI (key performance indicators) evolve too?

This is especially true with disruptive technology that creates the perfect storm like the one we have now with social, search, mobile and cloud computing.

And to keep up with these changing landscape you need evidences to support your decisions.

The take away: If you find that your Internet marketing strategy isn’t delivering the result you want, maybe it’s time to go deeper to identify meaningful success and tie-ins that are significant.

Don’t be satisfy with the data you have on hand; simply look for new ways to access data that can help you define success once you understand what’s significant.

Check and see if the strategy fits the objective by examining the business from both high-level and granular-level to ensure your success is truly success

Although online marketing will depend on these two critical elements, it’s also important to know that this applies to our lives as well.

As Michael Josephson of Character Counts, also talked about the difference between success and significance.
He says,

Why is it that as they get older, highly accomplished people often feel a need to measure their lives more in terms of the impact they have rather than by what they have?

Management guru Peter Drucker called this the shift from success to significance. Success is achieving your goals; significance is having a lasting positive impact on the lives of others.

The irony is that living a life focused on the pursuit of significance is more personally gratifying than one devoted to climbing the ladder of success.

As author Stephen Covey warns, it’s no good climbing to the top of a ladder that’s leaning against the wrong wall. Not many people say on their deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”…

Success can produce pleasure, but only significance can generate fulfillment.

I encourage you to go deeper to define your win (beyond profits) on the meaning of success and significance for your online marketing strategy.

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!

Riding to a New Destination: I’m Joining WebMetro

by Eric Tsai

Today I have some special news to share with you – I’ve joined WebMetro.

2 years ago I informed you about designdamage’s transition to become a blog. I started blogging because of my passion for understanding the impact of disruptive technology and social media has on our everyday lives.

Since then I’ve learned a great deal about Internet marketing that I’ve come to realize marketing isn’t just a job to me — it’s who I am and what I’m about. From endless nights of writing blog posts to reviewing trends and data on the weekends, marketing is a passion that’s part of my life.

This is why I share my experiences, observations and insights exploring the impact of Internet technology on marketing, advertising, media, business, communications, and culture.

But despite the unique experience, I’ve decided to take an opportunity which I feel can accelerate my growth and a good fit for my family (I just got married 6 months ago).

As of last Wednesday I’ve started my first day as an eMarketing Analyst with WebMetro, a marketing agency specializes in creating high-conversion, interactive direct marketing services via internet marketing – PPC, SEO, contextual and display advertising.

Personally, I can’t think of a better way to put my ideas to action when this opportunity came out of nowhere. Working for myself offers freedom and control but working at a firm like WebMetro offers scale with a wealth of great minds working together not to mention they’re a team of ROI fanatics.

Although WebMetro had exceptional success in PPC working with Fortune 500 companies, I hope to bring some perspective on a more holistic and integrated approach with social media, SEO and content marketing.

You can expect to see me working with new clients and moving the WebMetro digital presence forward.

I’ll still be blogging right here, tweeting, and writing about Internet marketing strategies and tactics.

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.