Last week, I went to the Together Digital 2020 Digital Trends panel. I learned that voice continues to be a powerful force, with more people using smart speakers to search for things. It’s becoming critical that content on websites is set up to answer voice questions. I’m starting to ask my Google Home more and more questions so I can keep learning about voice search.
Thank you to the panelists April Jones, Stephanie (Stevi) Cannon, Sheryl Mckenzie, and the moderator Kimberly Lee Minor, CLSSBB.
My key takeaways from the event:
Always wonder what’s next digitally
Look at what’s happening outside the USA – that’s the future (Example: GDPR, 5G, etc)
The emergence of 5G is coming in 1-2 years, they still need to build infrastructure
Voice is big (like Alexa, Siri, Google Home)
Make sure your website is set up to answer Voice questions
Mark up your website with schema for voice
People are using voice for healthcare “Alexa, remind me to take my pills.” “Hey Google, make a doctor’s appointment for me.”
Create content for voice with long tail conversational tones that answers questions
Today, we need to provide faster customer service, nearly instant because customers are becoming used to this level of service
Digital health apps, like Apple Health or FitBit are collecting tons of data about us, even about single short activities (going on a short run can generate pages and pages of data)
Use data to tell your story
You need cross functional teams, diversity, innovation
What can you do in 8 hours to get closer toward your overall career goal?
So, I’m recently engaged and have been researching reception venues and attending wedding shows to get ideas. With my digital marketing knowledge, I can’t help but think that some of the vendors I’ve interacted with aren’t doing the best marketing they could. I want to take a moment to reflect on what I observe wedding vendors doing and what I think, from a digital marketing perspective, they ought to be doing.
Adjust your CTA for your audience
What they do: At wedding shows, most vendors seem to all have the call-to-action of “Buy Now!” For example, photo booth vendors told me how they were offering a discounted price, but only if I booked today. I was at the bridal show just to browse and to get ideas. I even told the photo booth vendor that I didn’t have a date yet, no venue, but he still gave me his brochure advertising his today-only-deal and wanted me to book him right then. No way, dude!
What they should do: Meet your customers where they are at. At wedding shows especially, switch your CTA to match brides who are in the awareness stage. Make your CTA “Subscribe to my email newsletter for wedding planning tips” or “follow me on Instagram to enter for a chance to win something” so you’re adding value to the bride, and you’re staying top of mind for when she’s ready to book. Maybe some brides are ready to book the photo booth that day, but you need to talk to her first and assume that every bride is in the awareness, not the decision-making stage of the marketing funnel. Measure the success of a bridal show by new website visitors, Instagram followers, and email subscribers, not by the amount of revenue made that day.
Meet in person as soon as possible
What they do: A lot of wedding vendors have a Contact Us page on their website and when someone fills that out, they email the bride back with more information and it becomes this back and forth email chain until eventually, someone stops responding.
What they should do: Immediately offer to meet the bride for coffee. Try to schedule an in-person meeting as soon as your schedules will allow. Vendors who I met in person, I felt a strong connection to and was extremely more likely to book with them. I felt loyal to them, I knew them, I trusted them and wanted to work with them.
For example, When I was looking for a wedding planner, I sent out several emails asking different planners for more information about their services. One of the planners emailed me back the next day asking to meet up for coffee, another planner asked to schedule a phone call, and the third asked me to fill out an online questionnaire. Guess which planner I ended up booking? The one I met in-person. You can’t underestimate the power of a face to face real conversation. I’m reading Sherry Turkle’s “Reclaiming Conversation” right now and her thesis is that young people are losing the ability to hold a conversation and that no amount of technology can replace the power of a face-to-face conversation. I may be young but hell no, I’m not going to sign on a contract with someone I haven’t met face-to-face. I need to meet you in person and feel a connection if I’m going to work with you on my wedding day.
No response from her means don’t send her any more emails
What they do: A bride requests information so the vendor emails the info to the bride. She asks a question, they respond over email. She doesn’t respond again. The vendor then sends her emails with additional pictures of the venue, additional information, additional dates, etc. These emails continue, once a week, if not more. Eventually, the bride marks the emails as spam, hurting the vendor’s email domain reputation.
What they should do: Listen to your customer. Respect their wishes if they don’t want to hear from you. If they don’t ask you any follow-up questions or request a tour, assume this means they are thinking about it. They’ll let you know if they have questions! You risk damaging your reputation and coming off as difficult to work with if you badger brides with continuous emails. It’s a delicate balance between one follow up email a week or two after your first email and then no follow up. I’d lean toward no follow-up, because from my perspective, no follow up will change my mind.
Don’t use scare tactics
What they do: At bridal shows, I hear vendors ask questions designed to spark fear and insecurity. “Do you know what you’re going to do for your first dance?” “When’s the big day?” “Where are you getting married?” “How will your guests remember your big day?” “Have you booked this yet? Time’s running out!” “Have you thought of what you’ll do with your wedding dress after your big day?” “Did you know fall is the busiest wedding season?” “Good luck choosing 10.10.2020!” Ack!
What they should do: Ask questions to get to know the bride, not scary questions that will only stress her out even more. Build a relationship with her. Don’t just talk to her like she’s a clueless pile of cash. I wanted to hear more vendors ask general simple questions like “Where are you with your wedding planning?” “How’s the wedding planning going?” This question allows me to volunteer the information I feel comfortable sharing and my answer doesn’t make me feel bad.
Acknowledge how you got my email address
What they do: After I attended my first wedding show, I suddenly got all these emails from vendors I had never heard of. No introduction, no explanation of how they got my email, just a cold hard sales pitch.
What they should do: Acknowledge that you got my email from the wedding show and tell me you’re adding me to your email newsletter. Give me the option to unsubscribe, front and center. In this age of increased data privacy and customers trusting brands and businesses less and less, be transparent with your customers about how you obtain your marketing data.
Follow up by email or phone
What they do: I talk to a vendor in person, we connect, I ask for a follow-up, they say they will, and then I never hear from them.
What they should do: Stay true to your word. Follow-up with a bride you connected with by email the next day. Remind her what you talked about, give her additional details, and thank her for her time. Do what you told her you were going to do and follow up by email when you say you will.
If you really want to knock it out of the park, try answering her email with a phone call. Depending on the bride, she could be impressed by your dedication and appreciate the ease of a phone call rather than a long email. I experienced this where I emailed a vendor with questions, he called me 15 minutes later to answer my questions and we ended up talking for 30 minutes and of course, I booked a tour.
One more note is that I’m always impressed by businesses in the wedding industry who treat their customers like human beings. I think the venue, The Henry Manor, did this best with their plain-text follow-up email to attendees of a bridal show. Note how in the second paragraph they state how they want to earn my business. That was so refreshing to read because it contrasted all the other wedding emails I’d received. I appreciated this down to earth email:
I hope you found this informative and hey, if you know of any wedding vendors in Columbus, I’m in the market!
I attended the Together Digital national conference on Thursday and Friday. It was jam-packed with informative sessions, case studies, and panels. I got to hear from some of the most talented, motivated and compassionate women in the marketing industry. Part of what makes Together Digital so unique is that members commit to 12 Asks and 12 Gives each year. This can be anything from asking if anyone knows anyone at a company you want to work for all the way to giving members an audit of their LinkedIn profiles. When women ask for help and give support to one another, we can build each other up. The group has been instrumental in shaping my career.
There were so many awesome sessions to choose from at the conference, I found myself wishing I had a time-turner like Hermoine’s from Harry Potter. I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the key takeaways I learned from the conference.
Kickstart Your Organic SEO Strategy by Caitlin Boroden, Director of SEO, Catchweight
– SEO is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic. The three pillars of SEO: Technical SEO + Content + Digital PR (link building). I think of this as a pyramid with Technical SEO on the bottom.
– When you’re doing an SEO Audit it can feel overwhelming at the amount of stuff you need to fix. Conduct an Impact vs Effort analysis for when you have a laundry list of changes needed. This will help you map out what tasks are high impact- low effort, etc.
– Make sure to use smaller image sizes on the website so the page can load quickly.
– Be sure to fill in meta descriptions and alt text to help it be understood by Google. Each page should have H1 tags.
Creative ways to drive email conversions by Amanda Scarnechia Manager, CRM & Consumer Data of Scott’s Miracle-Gro
– If you don’t have the data, ask for it. Scott’s Miracle-Gro wanted to let their audience know about a new product they had for people with an irrigation system. They didn’t know who in their database had an irrigation system so they sent them a short one question survey in an email. Ask your audience a basic question.
– Write at a fifth-grade reading level or below. Average American reading level is about seventh grade.
– Apply the learnings from other departments. Maybe your paid social media team has already figured out what copy works for your audience and you could borrow that in your email campaign.
– Set the agenda. State here’s what we’re going to cover. Set the time for the topics. Email the agenda the day before.
– Talk about the bigger picture first before diving deep. Start with the big picture. Don’t just start in the middle. Give context and orient them.
– Help them make decisions. Using analogies to communicate complicated concepts in a way that’s commonly understood.
– Repeat their vision back to them, helps them feel understood and heard. Then say we have two options, here are our recommendations.
– Know your leader and how they want to be presented to.
Social Marketing & Media Case Study
– You can create buyer personas for each social media platform like a Facebook persona or Instagram persona.
– 78% of users who follow a brand on social will visit their physical store.
– Provide social media training during the onboarding process to teach posting best practices. Have your social team teach the sales team how to use social selling correctly. Provide content the sales team can share, teach them about a complete LinkedIn profile, educate them on what a Facebook business page looks like. Do a yearly audit of sales reps social profiles.
– Make social-first content. Reframe social media to be a business driver. A/B test to learn what your customers really want.
– Facebook is the best place to reach Moms. Moms are online for support and community.
– Bad social media goal: Grow your social media following. (That’s not specific nor timely.)
– Good social media goal: Increase purchases on our website from Instagram by twenty percent by the end of the year.
– In your social media photos, have a clear focal point. Make your product pop. Show the product in action. Show how to use the product, explain what it is. Product demos. Real customer highlights.
And that’s a highlight of some of the things I learned from the Together Digital National Conference in Columbus, Ohio on September 19-20, 2019.
Yesterday, I went to a digital marketing conference in Columbus called interact19. I’ve been to several conferences before and I can honestly say this was one of the best I’ve attended. Every presentation and speaker was filled with actionable knowledge that I could take back and apply to my workplace. So many of the tips were practical and cost-effective, requiring just time and skill.
I’m starting a new job later this month and in my interview, my future manager asked if I knew anything about Voice Search and I said I wasn’t that familiar with it and needed to do more research about it. Well at this conference, two of the speakers talked in-depth about the state of voice search, how to use it and where it’s going in the future. Now, I have practical information I can tell my new boss about how we should be using voice search. By attending, I learned something I can apply in my job and I can show that I’m staying up to date on marketing trends and best practices.
I definitely would recommend this conference and want to go back next year. I’m grateful to Volunteers of America for making it possible for me to attend.
I want to share what I took away from each session at yesterday’s conference:
Below is the September Thrift Newsletter that we emailed out on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Formatting wise, I promise it looked better in email inboxes, than it does here.
I’m proud of the copy in the opening paragraphs and the blog posts. I wrote the first and third blog posts. I wrote the blog post about upcyling fall decorations last year and the blog post about the truths of a thrift store on Monday.
It’s Debbie, your trusty guide for all things thrift!
It’s a bummer to see the summer months leave but at the same time, who doesn’t love the early signs of fall? Falling leaves, falling temperatures and the regular falling prices you’ll find only at one of our thrift stores.
You’re sure to find autumnal fashions your whole family will love, like jeans, scarves, vests or sweaters. And because our prices are so low, you’re able to buy fall clothing and accessories with money left over. But more importantly, shopping at Volunteers of America helps uplift homeless veterans, families and individuals across Ohio.
As the leaves begin to change color here in Ohio, the holiday decorating season looms ahead. Thrift stores are full of so many things you can use to decorate with around the house. With a little upcycling you can give all your thrifted finds a new life. Learn how to spice up your pumpkin a latte so that you’ll wow all of the trick-or-treaters.
When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? How about your whole home? As the seasons change, fall is the perfect time to finally tackle that overstuffed closet or clear out your cluttered garage. And with Christmas right around the corner, Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio thrift stores are in huge need of donations to fill their shelves.
It shouldn’t be a big secret how thrift stores operate, sort donations and how much they value the clothes and household items donated by community members like you. The proceeds of Volunteers of America thrift stores support life-saving programs for community members in need.
Save 50% on everything next week!
On Tuesday, Sept. 25, everything inside all of our thrift stores will be half-off! This includes furniture, showcase items, new products and miscellaneous items. It’s all 50 percent off!
I went to my third Women in Digital conference last Thursday and Friday. My favorite part is always meeting new women who are total bosses at what they do. They inspire me to be more confident and a better digital marketer. I also like staying up to date on trends, best practices and hearing what other companies are doing.
I wanted to take a moment to share some of my notes and photos from the conference.
These are the notes I took during the Power Hours. My strategy at the conference was to go to the Power Hours because those would not be recorded. I will watch the recorded main stage presentations later.
When working with influencers, have an influencer agreement with dates, goals of impressions or engagement, clarification about content ownership, requirements to see proofs ahead of time and spell out a set number of edits allowed.
Pay to boost the influencer’s post. Win-win for them and you.
SMS is the new email
Personally, I have hesitations about this intrusive form of communication but I recognize it has benefits when used sparingly.
To track in-store success of online efforts, use offers and codes
Okay, not ground-breaking advice but useful to remember
Let your followers define your hashtag. Ask them
“I #VoaThrift because…” or “I’m #aeriereal because I love my freckles”
Weekly use of the hashtag
Aerie did a campaign in the summer where when followers used #aeriereal they would donate $1 to National Eating Disorder Awareness non-profit
Love this idea because it allows brands to give back while encouraging social engagement.
Aerie put sticky notes in dressing rooms and encouraged folks to write down encouraging body positive messages
I went to the Aerie store at Polaris today and yep, there were green and yellow sticky notes around the mirror. My favorite one said Yassss Queen.
Ask questions of your followers to increase engagement
Twitter is best for sharing news, asking questions and getting feedback
Using user-generated content leads to a higher conversion rate
I’ve seen this personally from VOA: Regrams outperform photos that I take. I find regrams from when people tag the thrift store’s location. Be sure to give the original user credit for the photo.
I attended my first Columbus Startup Week yesterday. I’d heard others tell me how neat this event was and the price of the conference was right. It’s all free! It was an inspiring day with a diverse group of people who all shared a love for both Columbus and innovation. I just attended on Thursday which was the Marketing and Technology day. I’m grateful that I work at a company that believes in professional development and allows me to take time to attend events like this.
I love to take notes and so during the day I jotted down points that I found interesting in my notebook and typed them up. This process of reading over the notes again helps me better process what I wrote down. These are my notes:
How to Use Data and Research when Building Your Brand
This was the first session of the day and it was a panel of four guys who each own their own business and talked about their career journey and got a little side tracked by also talking about how much they like traveling. I appreciated their stories of what it took to get them where they are today.
A lot of brands are using colors effectively in their names and identity
Orange Barrel Media, Purple Mattress
Creative and emotional content is best
Netflix tracks every click someone makes so then they use that data to craft hit shows. Data is so valuable.
One of the panelists, a photographer, met a hotel owner, stayed in touch, sent messages back and forth which led to a life-changing gig photographing a luxury hotel in Costa Rica
Making money and helping others aren’t mutually exclusive
A creative filmmaker took a gig out of grad school shooting commercials for Wal-Mart and while he wasn’t thrilled at the opportunity it turned out to help his career and he made the best of it.
Every now and then you meet a presenter who makes you want to bow down and say “I’m not worthy.” Barry Enderwick really understands branding and impressed me with his passion for transforming companies.
A brand is everything a company does and how the world perceives the company
Every company has a brand
It’s shaped by news, employees, scandals, products, etc
Brand Promise is the problem that a brand solves for a customer
Netflix 2001 brand promise: Best Way to Rent DVDs
This is too transactional. Makes them seem like just a vending machine.
Later revised brand promise to: Movie Enjoyment Made Easy
Brand Attributes: tone of voice, persona
Instead of “customer service phone lines open 24/7” they phrase it “Call us anytime”
Brand Story: how the brand came to be, what problem the founder wanted to fix
Netflix used to require customers to call to cancel subscriptions but that was a hassle for customers and employees so they switched to an unheard of at the time, 2 clicks to cancel model online. This led to increased customer satisfaction and customers more likely to return.
Brand Advertising: No call to action
Nike Just Do It
Can be expensive, requires existing brand awareness
Create a customer survey to better learn about what your customers want
Netflix partnered with DVD manufacturers and put a free trial sticker on DVD boxes and gave DVD manufacturers a cut of the profits.
InstantPot sent their product to bloggers, optimized their Amazon listing, and chose to focus on grassroots influencer marketing
Diesel’s brand is about letting people express themselves so they opened a pop up shop in New York City with a knock off Deisel brand.
Do not talk about your competition in your marketing materials. Why would you give them free advertising or exposure?
Alaina from Women in Digital spoke about her career journey, Cement Marketing and Women in Digital.
Don’t create the same content as competitors
How to Create Marketing Partnerships That Grow Your Business
This session was after lunch but trust me when I say nobody was dozing off in the audience. The panel of local business rockstars was very knowledgeable and open to speaking about their marketing partnerships. Claire Coder of Aunt Flow struck me with how she’s only 21, is incredibly extroverted, talks up the brands she works with and is killin’ it. #Goals
A marketing partnership could mean samples, trials, etc. It doesn’t have to be an exchange of money.
It does have to be mutually beneficial and elevate both brands
Approach big corporations with a shower of love and appreciation for them. They don’t need you, you need them.
Aunt Flow partnered with Ask Pattie (a company that certified auto dealers as being female friendly) because they are similar businesses, like-minded “Give your bathroom a tuneup!”
You can find marketing partnerships all around you, with the people you meet. Just ask them and message them.
Big companies like working with smaller companies because they have passionate followers and trustworthiness.
Come to the table with a specific ask. Do not say “Do you want to collaborate?” Do the work if you’re asking and propose an idea with a specific set of dates.
Be careful of politically charged partnerships (Ex. If you work with Planned Parenthood, then Catholic churches might not work with you in the future.)
Have a dedicated contact person at the company you’re working with. If shit hits the fan, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters?
Marketing Without A Lot of Money (My favorite session!)
This session was packed! Man, this guy is the real deal. He knows how to break through the clutter and stand out. I love presentations that tell stories rather than rattle off statistics next to stock photos. He was honest, real, and friggin’ human. My biggest takeaway from his talk: Don’t be a turd. (I loved how he looked to the audience and was like “Some of you are turds. I know it, but like don’t be. Sometimes I’m a turd, yeah, but I try really hard to not be a turd.”)
To stand out at SXSW, his emerging marketing agency handed out scrolls, not business cards. It was an ice breaker, memorable and made follow up calls easier “We’re the guys with the scrolls.” Budget: $135 Don’t steal his idea. No seriously.
To advertise an Homage clearance sale, they held a carnival where people could spin a wheel to win a prize. They started out knowing they wanted to do something with a carnival and spinning a wheel and decided Facebook Live would be the best medium for this idea. They told their fans in advance and then on the specified day, every hour on the hour, they did Facebook Live, spinning a giant wheel, giving out prizes to commenters and having inside jokes. They just used just an iPhone on a tripod. Budget: $400
Message before the medium. Who’s the audience? What’s their language?
What freebies can you offer?
How can you lighten up?
What can I do to listen to my customers?
How can I gamify my services?
People want to win something and they like free stuff.
To move Hot Chicken Takeover from a takeout window in Old Towne East to the North Market they needed to keep it authentic and please their loyal fans. They chose to hand make everything, like hand painting the menus, using pallets on the walls, chalk board signs etc. Budget: $610
Listen to your customers, store managers, people on the ground floor. They know best.
Show your personality in Instagram Stories
Barter for your services. You can do marketing for a lawyer to pay for your legal fees
Send handwritten thank you notes (amen!)
Join the chamber of commerce
What the top CMO’s have to say about Marketing
I learn best when I hear from people who are on the ground doing marketing. This was a panel of CMOs from big local companies. They didn’t say a whole lot that I found to be earth shattering. Yeah, I know that data is important and voice is an upcoming trend.
You can’t fix what you can’t measure
Vlog like a Boss: How to Create Video that Gets Attention
Man, this was not her first rodeo. Amy Landino was an experienced presenter who knew how to keep the crowd awake and listening. I’d heard her speak before at a Columbus Young Professionals event and again was struck by how much of a boss she is. She’s good at what she does.
Make videos of frequently asked questions. People like customer-service style videos that will help them.
Your video will last on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for about 24 hours but will be on YouTube for years.
Video making process
Idea, research, outline
Upload and optimize
Make a custom thumbnail
When doing a tutorial or vlogging, show the end result first. This adds trust and keeps the viewer watching.
At 8 sec, people decide to keep watching or leave
Keep their eyes moving, use B Roll, text on screen, different angles
End your video with one CTA that you say out loud
Don’t link to YouTube videos on Facebook. The platforms don’t like each other and don’t want traffic leaving their site. If you need to share your YouTube video also on Facebook, natively upload a different and shorter video to Facebook.
Talking head videos don’t work on Facebook. Not engaging to people scrolling thru news feed