Content Intelligence: Like Car Navigation for Your Marketing

Artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to permeate the marketing landscape. But how do you best use it to your advantage? One exciting application is a new marketing technology called content intelligence, which utilizes artificial intelligence and big data to offer unprecedented marketing insights.

Content intelligence refers to the systems and software that transforms data into actionable insights for content strategy and tactics. Companies currently using content intelligence to power their software include: Salesforce which uses Salesforce Einstein to improve customer experiences, OneSpot which uses image recognition and natural language processing to automatically tag and categorize content and images, and Conversica which uses AI to automate the lead contact and qualification process.

Content intelligence gives marketers the full context of an individual piece of content. It helps marketers understand what the content is, what it’s related to, and how it’s performed in the past. This includes understanding how competitor content may have performed as part of the broader context it sits in.

Content intelligence technology allows you to understand everything there is to know about a piece of content. It analyzes how content has performed in the past to help predict the future and make recommendations. It may sound like a pipe dream, but when compared to the advancement of technology in other industries, it’s a natural progression. Think car navigation systems.

Maps: Spreadsheets or Nothing at All

Thirty years ago if you got lost driving in a city you would look around for street signs, consult a map, look at a grid and get a rough idea of where you were.

The information a map gives you though, is helpful but incomplete; much like using a spreadsheet for your content marketing platform. You don’t know any of the speed limits, or where there are stop lights. Forget about real-time changing conditions such as roadwork or traffic. Similarly, a spreadsheet doesn’t bring in any additional information outside of what you’ve manually plugged in, doesn’t update in real-time, and doesn’t give you input on how to move forward with your strategy.

Many content marketers are currently at the map or spreadsheet stage when it comes to content strategy. Sixty-eight percent of content marketers don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, and only eight percent of marketers consider themselves “very successful” or “extremely successful” at tracking content marketing ROI.

Part of why so many marketers don’t understand where they are is because they look at ‘vanity metrics’ such as page views or social shares. They don’t measure content lower in the funnel, or show content’s impact on your business.

GPS: Marketing Analytics Tools

Next in the evolution of car navigation came the advent of GPS, which let you pinpoint exactly where you were on your journey, although it didn’t necessarily tell you which path you needed to take.

Similarly, some marketers today go beyond a spreadsheet and connect all the dots by using technology to pull in significant quantities of data that’s hard for a human to compile, let alone compute. These companies pull data from many disparate sources and apply that to content to get a fuller understanding, manifested as analytics and reporting. 

Much like GPS did for location, they can look at a report and get a comprehensive look at where they are. They can then make an intelligent and informed decision about a course of action, which was formerly not possible. These marketers are using technology to understand where they are, but are deciding how to move forward on their own.

Car Navigation: Where Advanced Content Marketing Platforms Are At

Now Google Maps exists for drivers. This technology tells you both where you are, and how to get where you want to go. These platforms have real-time traffic data—not to mention satellite navigation such as Sirius, offering a real-time dynamic understanding of traffic flows and patterns.

As AI marketing technology advances, content marketing platforms are evolving in a similar direction to navigation systems. Analytics gives you a much more accurate picture of where you are, while AI will offer suggestions to help you get where you want to go in terms of revenue and other KPIs. (Currently, this is where marketers apply their intuition.) These suggestions could include whether or when to refresh an evergreen article, or advising whether to spend money on paid promotion for an article that’s popular and could go viral.

The Self-Driving Car: The Next Step in Content Marketing Technology

The future of AI in transportation is self-driving cars. At this stage of the technology, you not only know where you are and how to get where you want to go—AI drives you there. It’s completely automated.

Content marketing is unlikely to become completely automated by AI. The creative aspect of the job requires a certain amount of outside the box thinking. But AI will help content marketers by providing a ‘hands-free option’ that automates some parts of content creation as well.

Content intelligence software from Narrative Science can already automatically write simple stories. Persado meanwhile, uses content intelligence to create Facebook advertisements and recommend content to readers on your website. Content intelligence will soon have the power to automatically recommend which content to create, which format to create it in, and automatically promote and distribute it in an optimal way for that piece. The main reason it can’t already is because of a lack of data—which is changing fast. 

It’s easy to see why content intelligence will become an integral part of the content marketing industry over the next two to three years. It will automate the process of content measurement, prove which content is working, and streamline content strategy and ideation. Early adopters of content intelligence will enjoy a significant competitive advantage in driving leads and revenue. If you’re intrigued about what content intelligence could offer your business, read Content Intelligence: The New Frontier of Content Marketing Technology for an in-depth exploration of the subject.

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Sasha Laferte is Curata’s Content Marketing Manager. She’s written for several digital marketing publications including Content Marketing Institute, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog, HubSpot’s Blog, and Young Women in Digital. Her experience spans writing content for marketing software companies to creating viral media for Wenner Media (the parent company of Rolling Stone and Us Weekly). Sasha enjoys marketing, tech, travel, fitness, sushi, and her cat. Sasha has a BA in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

Are You a Traditional Marketer or a Scientific Marketer?

Ever wonder why the failure rate of most inbound marketing experiments hovers around 97 percent? It’s because marketers rely on growth spikes from one-off successes but can’t repeat them. Unfortunately, this isn’t a game of roulette — it’s business.

Rather than base marketing on gut feelings and guesswork, embrace science. When you treat marketing like a scientific experiment, data reveals the levers you can pull to grow your company faster, driving more accurate predictions about what’s most likely to work.

A smart growth-marketing process requires a system that gets you more data than your competition has. Without one, you’re guessing in the dark on what might increase ROI.

Real-World Solutions, Real-World Success

Do I believe in scientific marketing? Absolutely. It’s a process we use all the time, and it’s helped us uncover amazing opportunities.

We recently analyzed our marketing funnel and found a win that increased our ROI by more than 150 percent. After months of optimization, we had multiple channels successfully driving traffic to our website and converting at a cost per qualified lead that was exactly in our target range.

Digging deeper into our down-funnel sales metrics, however, we noticed that only 12 percent of requests were actually booking sales demos. That meant our cost per demo booked was 10 times higher than we’d previously calculated. Recognizing a new high-impact area to test, we executed a series of email, on-site, and CRM tactics traditional marketers would never think to touch. The result? The rate at which leads booked demos increased to 35 percent.

A system of data-driven marketing can effectively solve common marketing and sales issues before they sap your revenue. You just need to ask a few questions:

1. Which customers are best for my business?

Your marketing consultants gave you customer personas — throw them out. “Professional Pam, the single 25- to 32-year-old woman working in accounting or finance in New York” is a terrible audience for digital channels.

To compete, you need hard data to determine who buys your products, and then find and target the exact audiences that fit your ideal customer profile (that nobody else is targeting!). If you honestly knew — and didn’t just assume you knew — your customers, you could effectively boost inbound sales leads and generate data.

Consider Facebook Audience Insights, an advertising tool offering customer information such as likes and dislikes, relationship status, education, net worth, behaviors, etc. Getting specific allows you to drill deeper and tap into personas your consultants never dreamed of. Facebook Lookalike Audiences can do this at scale using machine learning. No human can replicate this, even with access to all of Facebook’s data.

By systematically targeting specific customer profiles on digital channels and tracking them down the marketing funnel, you can validate which audiences drive the highest ROI.

2. Which customer behaviors indicate buying intent?

When Facebook discovered that people who added seven friends in 10 days were more likely to stay, it pinpointed actionable growth opportunities that helped it grow to 1 billion users.

You need to find your business’s “aha!” moment. Services such as Mixpanel and Amplitude can help you determine which user actions correlate with retention by tracking mobile and web application activity.

Case in point: When Calm wanted to analyze user behavior, it partnered with Amplitude to see how it could improve its meditation app features. The data showed that Calm users who were prompted to use the app’s reminder feature had the same boost in numbers as those who found it on their own. However, 40 percent of those who saw the prompt set the reminder, which meant Calm could better control user behavior and results.

Find your North Star metric like Calm and Facebook did — you can center your organization’s strategy on optimizing it.

3. How can we use science to enhance the art of our brand?

Some creative and message options work better than others; however, it’s impossible to pick winners without testing. Test across every customer touchpoint with combinations of audience, creative, message, and channel. Test different value propositions, then integrate these data-driven learnings into your brand and your offline marketing campaigns.

Get creative with your channels. Find clever ways to reach the right customers, like web scraping, less obvious likes and interests, and unique custom audience data sets. At my last startup, we launched a cold email campaign based on a Yelp scrape of bar and restaurant owners. Within two months, we had 50 venues sign contracts, thousands of pre-launch customer sign-ups, and our marketing funnel economics mapped out, leading to a $100,000 angel investment.

Optimizing the onboarding of new venues and subscribers served as a multiplier for us, making every marketing channel perform better and helping us outbid competitors on digital channels. Knowing how your customer thinks and feels, yet validating your assumptions with hard data, is a combination of art and science.

If you build a modern company with traditional marketing — ignoring the fact that fewer than one in 10 inbound marketing experiments bears fruit — you’ll starve. Adopt a scientific marketing mindset to execute ROI-driven strategy that gives you an advantage.

Everyone says data is important. The challenge is being one of the few to actually build a system that capitalizes on it. How will you do that?

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Jon Brody is CEO and co-founder at Ladder, an ROI-driven company that’s a one-stop shop for growing businesses across all marketing channels and funnel stages.

 

Why Aren’t More CEOs Using Social Media? 5 Ways to Change That

Every company and small business in the country has some kind of social media presence. I can’t imagine a business not having a presence in this day and age.

At every level of corporate America, CEOs want their companies to have a vibrant social media presence, but they themselves aren’t jumping into the fray. According to a 2015 Social CEO Report, 61 percent of CEOs have no social media presence whatsoever and none of the Fortune 500 CEOs are active on all six major social platforms.

Why the disconnect?

One way to possibly answer that question is because change doesn’t come easily, especially at the top. Many top-level executives are entrenched in their ways and they see social media as a waste of time, not a place to conduct business, and they simply don’t see the need in carving off time in their schedule to read their Twitter feed. Not to mention, the very real fear of screwing up and inadvertently creating a social media crisis.

While these are legitimate reasons not to tweet, or use Facebook Live, it’s not an excuse NOT to. The other side of that argument is the benefits CEOs can reap from being active on social media, even without posting on a regular basis. Social media can be an effective productivity tool, a global broadcast channel, a place to gather information on both consumers and competitors and a useful public relations tool.

Here are 5 ways CEOs can take advantage of social media:

Create buzz and brand awareness

CEOs can use social media to create buzz around a new product being launched into the market or a big company announcement. It can be a staggered effort, too. When I launched my book, Think Big, Act Bigger, in 2015, I used a number of social media initiatives to let people know about the new book. I started months in advance and ramped up efforts as the launch date drew closer. I did numerous Facebook posts, I tweeted regularly, and reached out to all of my LinkedIn followers, who themselves are influencers. This resulted in me sending galley copies to a select group of people who, in turn, told their friends and so on. Create a chain of people who will evangelize your brand.

Show your personality

CEOs are human beings too, so why not show that to the world? This doesn’t mean posting dinner pictures (unless the food is unique), but if you’re doing something for charity, have a cool hobby or are talking to a celebrity, let your followers get a sneak peek about what makes you, you.

Showing off your personality is an effective, yet simple, way of letting people know that an actual human being is running the company. Richard Branson has mastered this because he shares personal stories, career advice and shows everyone how much he enjoys life.

I take a slightly different approach.

Everyone knows I’m a workaholic and that I enjoy what I do, so I use social media to show people pictures of my fishing excursions, speaking engagements, and all that goes on behind the scenes with my show C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett, and my podcast, All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett. I love giving my audience a sneak peek about upcoming interviews, give them a chance to ask questions I can ask my guests and even get some good feedback in return.

Thought leadership

CEOs are seen as leaders, so why not add some content to your social channels? When people think of CEOs, they think of someone sitting up in an ivory tower, sharpening No. 2 pencils and flipping through a Rolodex of contacts acquired from all their years in the industry, barely knowing how to use a computer.

Times are changing.  

Adding value-added content to the mix helps establish CEOs as thought leaders who have their finger on the pulse of their respective industries. People are always looking for content that is engaging and gives them valuable information and writing content on a regular basis, even a blog post, will establish you as someone looking to perfect their craft – just like your audience is.

Build trust in the brand

While many still have an image of the CEO as aloof and someone you only hear from during a crisis, things are moving in a different direction. If a brand wants to create loyal followers, they need to present a real, human face to consumers. Social media can create a powerful and efficient ways for CEOs to connect with consumers efficiently and at scale.

This doesn’t mean that company executives need to respond personally to every consumer request or complaint. But, a CEO can easily jump into a conversation and leave a big impression. For example, T-Mobile CEO John Legere randomly tweeted someone who praised their data plan (and regret about being locked into another company’s plan).

I don’t know if the company got the guy to switch over or not, but Legere definitely demonstrated the ability to show the world that ‘corporate’ cares about their customers. In an era where ‘less corporate’ is the new normal, nearly 70% of senior professionals say that seeing a CEO tweeting makes the company more attractive, according to Weber Shandwick and KRC Research.

Message amplification

With social media being such a powerful tool, your message can reach a worldwide audience within seconds. At times, it seems a simple Facebook post by a CEO can have the same impact a press release had a few years ago, not to mention more gravitas while adding another layer of credibility.

Social media reflects more than just a technological shift. It also represents a leadership and cultural shift. Research by McKinsey estimates that companies who can apply a variety of social technologies in the next few years can add $1.3 trillion in value to their brand. That’s the kind of numbers that any CEO can get behind! 

The bottom line is this – CEOs can no longer afford to hide in their perch. They need to roll up their sleeves, become immersed in social media and learn how to take advantage of every possible avenue that enhances the brand, puts a face to the name and reaches a wider audience. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the quickest, and fastest, way to grow (and join the 21st century).

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Jeffrey Hayzlett is the primetime television host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives LIVE on C-Suite TV and is the host of the award-winning All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on C-Suite Radio. Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, Hall of Fame speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman of C-Suite Network, home of the world’s most trusted network of C-Suite leaders.

7 Ways to Use Reviews and Testimonials For More Believable Marketing

Marketers know Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, Google, and other reviews are a huge part of buying journeys.

But how can you use existing customer reviews in your marketing content to make the things your company says more believable? And what if you're in B2B and don't have a wealth of traditional review sites to pull from?

In this week's episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, the award-winning marketing podcast from Salesforce, learn how to use customer reviews and testimonials to bring a new level of credibility from your marketing.

Take a listen here. For the full conversation that's filled with many more insights, subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play MusicStitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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We're interviewing two leading experts in customer testimonials and reviews:

  • Daniel Lemin, author of Manipurated and head of consulting at Jay Baer's Convince & Convert
  • Andy Crestodina, cofounder and strategic director of Orbit Media Studios and planner for hundreds of websites

For all the tips, listen to the full episode of the Cloudcast. Here are a few tips to start upcycling your existing testimonial content to make your marketing more believable and resonate effectively with potential customers.

 

1. Save social media mentions.

 

According to Andy, customer reviews and testimonials help marketers "fix all those unsupported marketing claims which probably appear all over your website. The purpose of a testimonial is to add evidence to support all those marketing claims that we make all the time."

One crucial place to start that works for B2B and B2C brands alike is social media. You probably have positive tweets or Facebook comments floating through your streams all the time. But if you don't encourage social media managers to start collecting them, those wonderful customer stories are barely a blip in the radar. 

 

2. Use positive feedback from emails.

 

After you successfully complete a customer service interaction from email, customers are likely to thank you for your great service and for solving their problem. Again, this tip works regardless of if you have a prolific local Yelp page, for companies of all industries. Are you saving this social proof for more believable marketing?

Andy explains, "Everything we say is marketing. Everything your customers say is social proof." So whenever you train employees on email, train them to not only solve the problem, but save positive feedback and ask customers if it's OK to use their words on your website.

 

3. Avoid the dreaded testimonials page.

 

"The worst place to put a testimonial is on a testimonials page because visitors tend to not go to those pages. It looks and smells like marketing. They can see it a mile away, and they know that's just going to be filled with positive social proof, and it's not likely to answer any of their top questions. So, I don't recommend making testimonial pages."

So if testimonials don't go on a testimonials page, where should they be? That leads us to our next way to use them.

 

4. Make every webpage a testimonials page.

 

"Probably the best answer for where to put your most impactful, most authentic, most genuine testimonials would be on simply the highest traffic pages. So, go look at your analytics and see what the top-visited pages are and those are your highways. Your testimonials are like billboards. Put the billboards on the highways — that's how you are going to get the maximum impact and maximum number of views to them," shares Andy.

 

5. Highlight your best reviews in emails.

 

Daniel says it's important to place reviews wherever in "the variety of places consumers shop for your products. Look at the purchase funnel, or the touchpoints they have before they buy from you, and think about the ways you can feature reviews in as many of those settings as logistically possible or reasonable."

He shared a great example of using reviews in email: "I have pet insurance for my dog and every month, I get a newsletter from the insurance company. In [the email newsletter], they feature a review the month in their newsletter." Just seeing other customers' reviews encourages people to write their own. Wherever your customer journey would benefit from a bit of social proof, that's a great place to feature a review.

 

6. Collect public-facing reviews more strategically.

 

If you don't have enough good reviews on sites like Google or TripAdvisor, Daniel says "you have to look at why you don't have good reviews. If people keep mentioning the same things over and over again, maybe parking or air conditioning, if that's something you need to fix and you can, certainly take that action. If you can't fix it, at least find some reasonable explanation for it, because if you keep asking for reviews and you don't fix those things, you're going to keep getting the same feedback. The outcome's not going to change just because you ask more people."

 

7. For better content, focus on the law of large numbers.

 

Daniel says you'll have better, more positive customer testimonials to pull from if you focus on the law of large numbers. "Simply growing the number of reviews you have is a great way to defend yourself against the downside of any one stray negative review that may come in. That's something I always say to businesses: you have to think about this as a numbers game. If you have a 4.3 average rating on Yelp and you have 100 reviews, it's going to be very easy for a group of upset customers to impact that. If you have 1,000 reviews, it's a little bit harder. If you have 10,000 reviews, it's much, much harder. The law of large numbers is in your favor there.”

There's much more to learn from Daniel and Andy in the full episode of the Marketing Cloudcast.

 

Have you heard the new podcast format?

 

Three weeks ago, we shifted the Marketing Cloudcast to an entirely new format and style (think narrative with multiple guests — more Freakonomics, less live interview), and I'd love to know what you think!

Join the thousands of smart marketers who are Cloducast subscribers on Apple PodcastsOvercastGoogle Play Music, and Stitcher.

Tweet @youngheike with feedback on this episode — or ideas for future guests and topics.

Embrace the Universe Beyond Your Website. Become an Everywhere Brand

There’s a new race to command more visibility for your brand’s people, places, and products across the internet so you can attract more customers.

Website + App = Source of Truth...Right?

For nearly 25 years, the battleground has been your website. Face-lifted every 18 months or so, your brand’s website has been your source of truth. Then came the smartphone, when your brand shifted its focus to creating an app, which ultimately became a companion to your website — places you controlled fully, to the benefit of your brand and bottom line.

However, consumer attention is a finite resource, and you need to capture it when and where consumers are searching. With 2020 fast approaching, it’s time to look beyond your website and app, and give your brand the visibility and opportunity it deserves by becoming The Everywhere Brand.

What Is The Everywhere Brand?

The Everywhere Brand is a brand whose digital knowledge — the factual assets and attributes about a company’s brand, people, products, events, and locations — exists consistently and accurately in many online locations, not just on a corporate website and app.

A brand’s digital knowledge include its address, hours of operation, phone number, photos, credentials, locations, and office hours. Even more granularly, digital knowledge can include the availability, price, location, and ingredients of specific products as well as the date, time, location, and content of brand events.

Your digital knowledge lives across hundreds of intelligent services including Google, Apple, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Instagram, Snapchat, MapQuest, Waze, Siri, Cortana, and Amazon Alexa. These are the places your customers seek instant information in the moments that matter. And it’s up to you to ensure the information that appears about your company in each service is on-brand, accurate, and up-to-date.

How Do I Build The Everywhere Brand?

Friend, marketing guru, and all-around good guy Jay Baer and I just co-authored an ebook on this very subject. You’ll learn about these seven key traits that you must develop in order to be an Everywhere Brand:

  1. Customer-Centric

  2. Active

  3. Organized

  4. Real-Time

  5. Granular

  6. Responsive

  7. Innovative

These traits are imperative to becoming an Everywhere Brand and will teach you the importance of having accurate data everywhere consumers search. You will also learn how to experience exactly what consumers see about your brand across every device, and discover how to fix bad data problems with a combination of people, process, and technology.

Start to see your brand from every angle. Fix your inaccurate information. Bring the right people to the table. Deliver information about your brand in real time. Don’t be afraid to get detailed. Work on those star ratings. Be an innovative risk-taker. These are the true characteristics of The Everywhere Brand.

So what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to become The Everywhere Brand. Grab the free ebook today and let me know what you think on Twitter (@jkrohrs).

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Jeff serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Yext, the digital knowledge management leader, and co-authored The Everywhere Brand ebook with Jay Baer. Jeff previously served as Vice President of Marketing Insights for Salesforce and ExactTarget, and his first book, AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers (Wiley 2014), has been lauded by marketers and executives alike as a must-read for those interested in the rise of proprietary audience development as a core marketing responsibility. A Clevelander now working in the heart of Manhattan, he relishes the fact that he lived to witness the Cavs win a championship. He holds out no such hope for the Browns.

 

4 Ways to Get More Out of Your B2B Marketing Automation

Connecting with customers. Staying on top of leads. Running nurture campaigns.

Yep, B2B marketers wear a lot of hats these days. So, it’s no wonder you’re always on the lookout for new tools or tips to help you automate, simplify, and streamline whatever you can.

We hear you. At Salesforce Pardot, we love coming up with new ways to help you market and sell faster and smarter. It’s what we’re all about. I’m excited to tell you about some new resources that can help you get more out of your marketing automation.

Accelerators for Pardot are one-on-one engagements with Salesforce Specialists, who help you to achieve a specific goal. What makes Accelerators so effective? Not only do we put together a plan tailored to your business goal – we walk you through the process, so you know how to repeat it in the future.

We have four Accelerators for Pardot. They’re designed to address the stage of your implementation, your team’s strengths and areas where you want to grow, and your marketing and sales goals.

Here’s a quick overview of our Accelerators and how each one can help you reach your goals:

Getting Started with Pardot

If you’ve already implemented Pardot and are looking for best practices to get the most out of the platform, you’ll want to check out this Accelerator. You’ll learn how to build, execute, and report on marketing automation campaigns. This Accelerator will help you get a deeper understanding of your Pardot accounts and teach your marketing team how to build and report on their own campaigns. Ultimately, you’ll increase accountability and make your daily marketing practices more efficient.

Salesforce Engage QuickStart

Once you’re feeling good about your Pardot implementation, your next step might be implementing Engage, a feature that automates alerts, campaigns, and reports to help marketing and sales teams work together more effectively. This Accelerator gives you a guided overview of how to implement Engage within your environment. You’ll learn how to set up and update page layouts, assign user licenses, publish campaigns, and track adoption with reports and dashboards. Plus, your Salesforce Specialist will give you personalized recommendations to help you reach your specific goals.

Salesforce Engage Best Practices for the Marketer

After you set up Engage, you’ll need to get your Marketing team on board. This Accelerator teaches your marketing team how to create and deploy Salesforce Engage Campaigns, email templates, and nurture programs that your sales team can share with prospects. Plus, your specialist will help you set up reports and alerts, so you can see what’s working (and what isn’t), then improve the way you connect with customers. You’ll also save your marketing team and admin time by automating repetitive tasks, sharing tasks among the team, and making it easier to edit sales emails and other assets.

Salesforce Engage Best Practices for Sales

Engage helps your sales team take advantage of marketing automation, so you’ll want to make sure the team knows how to use this powerful feature to close more deals. This Accelerator shows sales how to send marketing emails to prospects and add them to nurture campaigns. Your specialist will help you demonstrate how Engage aligns with their sales goals and makes it easier to reach them.

How to get started with Pardot Accelerators

Thinking about signing up for a Pardot Accelerator? Check out the Accelerator Library to learn more about how to get started. Once you’ve found an Accelerator that’s right for you, go to Help & Training to request an Accelerator, or contact your Account Executive for help.

If you’ve got a Premier for Pardot Success Plan, Accelerators are a benefit included with your plan. To learn more about Premier for Pardot, check out our blog post or contact your Account Executive for more information.

5 Email Call-to-Action Best Practices to Drive Conversions

You’ve probably come across a few calls to action (or CTAs) over the past few days, if not the past few hours or minutes. Whether you’re reading emails, scrolling through social, or ordering on a mobile app, every company hopes that you’ll heed its call to action.

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Each call to action is different, but the goal is the same: to get you, the consumer, to do something — hopefully something clear and specific. Even in a confined space, such as an email, marketers have to find creative ways to make every call to action stand out. And that doesn’t have to include MAKING YOUR CTA BIG AND SCARY, showing off with some bold text, or adding enthusiasm with an exclamation point!

People are used to filtering all that spammy noise because they see it all too often. Marketers can break through the noise with a few email call-to-action best practices.

Here are five tips:

  1. Be honest. People see enough clickbait throughout the day to know when they’re being toyed with. Let’s say you get an email from a new company; perhaps you signed up for its email list after clicking on an Instagram ad. It sends you a welcome email that has an interesting call to action at the end. It says, “We Dare You to Click Here.” While this phrasing could work, depending on how well the company knows its audience, it’s a bold risk. The call to action reads like clickbait and may come off as disingenuous to some readers.

    To avoid this, make sure your call to action is honest and clear. Audiences prefer to know what they’re getting into when they click. To know for sure, it’s best that you test multiple calls to action to find out which perform best.

  2. Test options. To figure out which calls to action get the most clicks and conversions, it’s best to test out a few. Through A/B testing, you can decide exactly how to write a good call to action because your data will tell you which options are working — and which aren’t. “Learn More From Our Blog” might perform better than “Explore Our Infinite Wisdom.” Testing each option is the best way to drive more conversions.

  3. Use action verbs. Beginning your calls to action with strong action verbs will make your message pop in every email. Take a look at these two calls to action.

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    Which one is more inviting and more direct? The first one offers both clear information and a directive.

  4. Pick a color. When you choose to use a call-to-action button instead of a text hyperlink, it’s best to pick a color that stands out from the rest of your email. For example, if you use a lot of green in the rest of the email, it’s a good practice to avoid using green for the call-to-action button. You don’t want your button to blend in with the rest of the email content.

  5. Keep it short. Imagine this text linked: Register today for the best conference to hit San Francisco this summer. Linking all of that text with that ubiquitous blue hyperlink color makes it seem like you’re calling out every part of the text, which isn’t necessary. Instead, keep your calls to action short and sweet. Readers prefer quick, direct action items, not lengthy sentences.

Using effective email calls to action can help you drive conversions, but they aren’t the only thing you need to consider for an effective email strategy. Check out more email marketing tips that break through the clutter and capture customer attention.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Email Trends [infographic]

“Online shoppers abandoning their carts is a natural part of the buying process, but it’s also a high-value behavior that’s worthy of a response,” Salesforce points out in its 5 Blueprints for Building Smarter Emails. That report highlights eight “IQ Boost Opportunities” for your shopping cart abandonment emails—many of which are backed by the latest joint research by Litmus and Salesforce Marketing Cloud into these highly effective automated emails.

Conducted during the height of the 2013, 2014, and 2016 holiday seasons, our research into shopping cart abandonment email trends among U.S. retailers reveals clear trends around:

  • The post-trigger delay in sending these emails
  • The use of a series of cart abandonment emails
  • Highlighting the item(s) abandoned in the email and its subject line
  • The recommendation of alternative prorducts
  • The inclusion of seasonal messaging

Our findings, which are summarized in the infographic below, also reveal that less than a third of major U.S. retailers send shopping cart abandonment emails. That’s a big missed opportunity for retailers and other ecommerce companies to increase their conversion rates by helping their customers, who may be confused about pricing or shipping, uncertain about their product choices, or may just need a reminder about the items they left in their basket.

Whether your brand has an existing shopping cart abandonment program or is planning to set one up, use this data to inform how you build out yours so it effectively serves your customers and generates stellar returns.

How a Leading Spirits Brand Gained 1,300 New Leads in Just 10 days with Customer-Centric Advertising

As the number of channels consumers interact with on a daily basis have exploded, CRM has evolved. Businesses simply can’t grow sustainably without consistently leveraging information about their consumers at every touchpoint. Granted, a key challenge is connecting that information to tangible business outcomes. This is a particularly common theme in industries that are not outwardly direct to consumer, like Consumer Packaged Goods. But while challenges exist, it’s an exciting time for marketers because businesses are being driven towards more internal creativity and collaboration in order to meet the needs of their consumers. As marketers, we must keep a pulse on the “now” – what’s happening in society, where the overlap for our brands is, and how we can activate that overlap in a way that adds maximum value for consumers. That’s the journey we’re on.

Consumer centricity is critical to us at Pernod Ricard, as our goal is to be the leader in spirits. Over the past 43 years, Pernod Ricard has built a unique premium spirits portfolio of brands with international reach. Today it is one of the most comprehensive and innovative spirits companies in the marketplace. As the lead on Performance Marketing for our USA portfolio, I’ve partnered with the Malibu brand team – Pernod Ricard's premium rum brand – to focus advertising investments around capturing consumer information on as many touch-points as possible. One of the initiatives I'm most excited about is a new pilot program we just launched for Malibu, leveraging Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Advertising Studio. It’s focused on using consumer data from Facebook Lead Ads to power meaningful follow up Email communications that lead to product purchase and enrollment in the brand’s most prominent activation campaign: #BecauseSummer.

Every summer we aim to create a wealth of exciting, inspiring content for our Malibu audience. Salesforce is enabling us to distribute this content in a smart and efficient way, and providing us with invaluable insights into how and when these messages are being consumed -  continually helping us to build a more sophisticated digital eco-system.” -Jilly Gray, Digital Manager, Malibu

With Advertising Studio, we're able to reach existing consumers that fit our target segments and deliver relevant ads to them on Facebook (where they spend a large amount of time) based on their interactions. We’re also able to acquire new prospects with Facebook Lead Ads using two key tactics:

  1. Create Lookalike Audiences of our best customers.
  2. Target people interested in music festivals our brand is sponsoring, or who have liked the Malibu and other rum pages.

Since we don't want the relationship to end there though, we're also adding these audiences to a custom journey in Journey Builder, using Salesforce's Lead Capture App, to send leads directly into Marketing Cloud as soon as they come in. This way we can provide more information on offers via email or re-target consumers who don't engage with emails by using ads to re-engage them.

After just 10 days, we’re seeing phenomenal results with 1,300 net-new leads, and open rates of journey emails between 43%-77%! What stands out to me here is how incredibly qualified the leads are and how relevant the content is to viewers. These results would not be achievable without the Malibu brand team creating a powerful platform to reach consumers, coupled with consumer data at the center, helping us bring in audiences that demonstrate affinity for our offering and are efficient to capture.

This pilot has not only blazed the way for CRM-driven advertising programs at Pernod Ricard, as nothing like this has been done before, it's also raised awareness of the tremendous possibilities around being more and more consumer centric. It's brought to life new KPIs like “journey completion rate,” surfaced important tactics for the company to start thinking about around consumer engagement, and highlighted high-performing strategies to double-down on. It’s an exciting time and we're just getting started!

In an ideal world, we will have a universe of relevant customers that we can regularly engage, and associated business outcomes that align to both our corporate and marketing KPIs. We don’t want to just optimize the funnel – we want to optimize the journey. Fundamentally, there is a huge difference as optimizing the journey means we don’t operate as if there are exit points in our communications with consumers. If we want to achieve this and continue to be innovative, data-driven, and consumer centric, it’s critical that we work between stakeholders to enable the ideal state of individual consumer-level marketing, as that will only be as good as the people and processes involved.

5 Tips for Successful Post-Sale Communication

Successful marketers have to keep a 360-degree view of the customer experience. From converting a lead into a customer to maintaining the loyalty of that new customer, businesses who have a solid post-sale communication strategy stand a higher chance at maintaining their hard-won customers.

While many businesses focus on customer conversion, the real gold is in customer retention and that starts with the post-sale relationship. Did you know that it’s six times more expensive to convert a new customer than it is to keep an existing one?

Here are some tips on how to improve your post-sale communication with customers:

1. Purchase confirmation

The first step after a customer makes a purchase from your business is the confirmation message. This is your first post-sale chance to win your customer’s heart with a branded confirmation message. Think it’s not worthwhile investing in an awesome post-purchase message?

Consider the fact that 64 percent of people think that confirmation emails are the highest priority messages in their inbox. And, at 114.3 percent, their open rates soar above bulk emails’ 14.4 percent open rates. So spending time crafting a branded message instead of generating an automated purchase confirmation is a chance for you to captivate your customer at a time when you know they’re going to be paying attention.

Forgo the plain text and the generic writing for a message that gets the customer excited about doing business with you. Use fonts that are pleasing to the eye, add a personalized touch, and use images that reaffirm your brand’s style.

2. Delivery status updates

After making a purchase and receiving their confirmation, the next thing customers want to know is “When is my purchase going to arrive?” Communication about delivery status is key to maintaining happy customers with 66 percent of consumers saying that a positive experience with shipping with a brand is a deciding factor in their purchasing experience.

Senior Director of Marketing at Gilt Group Cynthia Kleinbaum says that “confirmation is a rare occasion when a customer wants to get an email, and open it… after that everybody wants to know when their package has left the distribution center, and a lot of people like to get that push notification.

Keeping customers up to date with the status of their purchase, especially if there is a delay or another issue, is important. In fact, 47 percent of consumers decide not to do business again with a brand because of lack of transparency about the status of their purchase’s delivery.

To offer the most up-to-date delivery status information to your customers, use text messaging. Did you know that 91 percent of texts being opened within 3 minutes of being sent? It’s the ideal communication tool for urgent information.

3. Offer loyalty program membership

The moment after a lead has become a customer is the ideal time for you to offer them a loyalty program membership. They have already taken the leap of faith to purchase something from your brand, so why not seal the deal by rewarding them for it and offering them the opportunity to earn discounts and access to special deals by becoming a club member?

Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert, urges brands to use apps for loyalty programs:

“[T]he convenience of using an app is a powerful driver of loyalty. It’s human nature to stay with a company that is easy to do business with. Once customers know how the company operates and how to use the website or mobile app, they can rely on a consistent experience, and customers like consistency. It creates confidence. That’s what drives loyalty.

Businesses such as Starbucks, Walgreens and Amazon Prime have tapped into what their particular customers most desire through their loyalty apps. For Starbucks, it’s lifestyle enhancement and the convenience of having their designer coffee without having to wait in line to pay. For Walgreens, it’s refilling prescriptions, using their phone to pay for orders and earning rewards.

For Amazon Prime, it’s benefits such as free shipping, unlimited streaming of music, movies and TV shows and cloud storage. What do your customers want from your loyalty program?

4. Offer omnichannel customer service

Consumers today prefer to use a variety of communication channels to connect with brands. Offering customers the option that is most convenient to them, be it live chat, SMS, email, social media, voice call, or video call can improve their experience with your brand.

Did you know that 60 percent of millennials and another 60 percent of Gen Y’ers use at least three connected devices that they use multiple times a day from multiple locations? Beyond that, 43 percent of Americans shop online while they’re in bed while 25 percent shop online while they’re in a physical retail store.

Given these habits, make sure that your business can cater to customers on the go and through the platform of their choice to drive more retail dollars and higher customer loyalty.

5. Upselling and cross-selling

Some businesses may think that upselling and cross-selling come off as pushy. But customers have reached out to make a purchase from your brand to fulfill a need or a desire and offering suggestions that will enhance their experience with that purchase or even suggesting that they go the next step up can greatly improve customer satisfaction.

Automated suggestions after a purchase is made, or having a trained agent with knowledge of your entire product line guide a customer through their buying process, can both increase sales and provide a better experience. That way you provide the customers with exactly the product(s) they need to have the experience they want. Amazon is the master at this with 35 percent of their sales revenue coming from cross-selling.

Post-sale communication isn’t something you can ignore. Hopefully, these post-sale tips will help you enhance customer experience and improve customer satisfaction!

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Alexa Lemzy is the customer service expert and content author at TextMagic. She mainly writes about customer communication, mobile marketing, and small business. Alexa is also a fan of all the things that make processes effective and teams productive.