CX and Your Website: It’s Not about You

CX and Your Website: It’s Not about You

Are you familiar with the term customer experience (CX)? Not just for app developers or folks operating on the fringes of innovation, CX is a pervasive value system that will affect your company’s success. So what exactly is CX? I like Forrester’s definition for its simplicity:

“How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”

Anytime you interact with a customer, whether it is online, in-person or over the phone, you are engaging in forming customer experience—good, bad or ugly. Most of us, apparently, feel that we’re doing a good job—only we’re not. According to Bain & Company, 80 percent of CEOs believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8 percent of their customers agree.

How do companies bring those two numbers closer together? When it comes to your first chances to nurture positive CX — your website and social media profiles — it’s important to set your brand ego aside. Think about this…

“There are only 86,400 seconds in a day. Given that we are universally bound by this limited resource, how can we make things easier, quicker and simpler for our customers?”

This question, posed by MGM Resorts International’s chief experience officer, Julie Hoffmann, at the American Marketing Association’s National Conference in September, is one that you should ask regularly.

In addition, here are two exercises you can do today to positively impact the online customer experience you provide.

Exercise 1: How would you describe your company or product to a 10-year-old?

Now look at your website. Without scrolling, does it answer this question in under eight seconds?

The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a recent study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds.

If a first-time visitor sees only your clever brand tagline, then it’s time to make one critical change on your home page. Add a succinct single line message that explains your value proposition. A quick web search turned up these examples of effective home page value messages:

  • The easy, fast, affordable way to send money online—from your desktop, tablet or mobile device.
  • Comprehensive, easy-to-use cloud-based law practice management software.
  • Software for automated sales tax compliance. “Sales tax is hard. We make it easy.”

That value message will help a visitor confirm their interest in your product or service. Make sure this simple description also lives on your social media profiles.

Within the first eight seconds, visitors should also see one or more simple, low-risk ways to engage with you. An opt-in subscription form, download offer or free trial may extend the visit well beyond eight seconds.

Exercise 2: What are the top five questions your prospective customers ask you?

You are sitting on the most valuable insights money can buy—actual customer interactions. Ask your sales team to account for the questions they continually get asked by prospects at the beginning of the relationship. Do you address these questions on your website’s most important pages? How many pages and links does it take to get the answers? Your customers are coming to your website to figure out if you provide a solution for their pesky, nagging pain point. Is there a way to provide relief in fewer interactions?

Sometimes, particularly with B2B, we get caught up in trying to deliver so much information that the most customer-relevant part gets lost or left out. You don’t need a new website to make real strides in your CX. Real improvements can result from simply creating headlines and separating blocks of copy and important callouts with more white space.

Your brand is not just a tagline, a collection of bright colors and a logo. Ultimately, your true brand is your customers’ experience of your company over the duration of their relationship with you. Your website is a prominent part of that, so start your CX initiative there.

This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on The Edge Room.

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About the Author

Kim Tidwell, Inbound Marketing, Content Strategy & Development and Social Media Management ConsultantKim Tidwell is a storyteller and creative marketer, with a consultancy focused on content strategy and inbound marketing.

An avid community-builder, she splits her time between Austin AMA and CreativeMornings/Austin.

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Related Topics on the AMA Austin Blog:

Marketing Craft Spirits: Q&A

On Marketing Craft Spirits: 4 Questions, 4 Answers

As a hotbed for entrepreneurism, a laid-back attitude and an appreciation for local goods, it’s no wonder that Austin’s distillery scene has grown as much as it has.

Not even counting the craft breweries, wineries or cideries, there are 80 craft spirit brands that call Texas home—with 18 of them right here in the Austin area, says Lamar Romero, Chief Executive Dragon of Dragon Spirits Marketing and Promotion and moderator for the Austin AMA Distillery Panel on Nov. 19th.

What’s it like to market these burgeoning brands? We caught up with Lamar to learn more. And don’t forget to register for the Nov. 19 happy hour panel, Craft Spirits: A Conversation with Austin Area Distillers, at Casa Chapala to join in on the full conversation of making booze in the ATX.

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What’s something most Austinites might not know about the distillery industry right here in the ATX?

What are some of the most unique (and fun) ways that craft spirits marketing is maybe different than other industries’ marketing?

As a marketer who works specifically with craft spirits, you really seem to have an awesome job! How did you break into that niche?

It seems like distilled spirits has absolutely exploded in Austin lately. Is that true? If so, why do you think that is?

[button color=”accent-color” hover_text_color_override=”#fff” size=”large” url=”https://austinama.org/events/craft-spirits-a-conversation-with-austin-area-distillers/” text=”Register today for A Conversation with Austin Area Distillers on November 19th!” color_override=”” image=”steadysets-icon-checkmark”] [divider line_type=”Full Width Line” custom_height=”15″] Lamar Romero is Chief Executive Dragon at Dragon Spirits Marketing & Promotion. Headquartered in Austin, Dragon Spirits Marketing is a master broker and elite marketing firm for artisanal distilled spirits and other unique beverages for the state of Texas. During a tequila sipping session with his wife Laura, the pair decided to help market a brand a new tequila in the Austin market. Under their guidance, this tequila became the #1 premium selling tequila in 2012 (in the Austin area). Lamar and Laura founded Dragon Spirits Marketing in 2013 leveraging their technology and sales experiences to help small, artisanal, high quality distilled spirits, wine, and beer become love and discovered in the state of Texas.

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Brands Bands and CX

Brands, Bands, and CX – Volume One

Successful brands and musicians have at least one thing in common. They both understand how to deliver unique and valuable customer experiences (CX).

How important is customer experience for these seemingly disconnected entities?

If you are a music lover like me, you know that there are unfortunately many talented artists who will always remain relatively obscure. On the other hand, KISS, one of the most recognizable (and highest earning) acts in the history of popular music, are commonly cited by critics as one of the most talentless groups of musicians ever.

The difference? From their legendary outfits and makeup, to their explosive, circus like concerts, and even more recently, their unified and interactive digital presence, KISS have always seemed to deliver unique and ‘valuable’ experiences to their audience.

Similarly, there are countless examples of corporate brands who have used CX to de-commoditize themselves in otherwise commoditized product markets. CX has always been important to growing a brand, but Gartner has boldly declared that almost 90% of all business are now competing mainly on customer experience, because, let’s face it, where else can value be created at scale? Almost everything outside of experience has become a commodity.

A great example of an Austin brand embracing CX in a big way is YETI Coolers. YETI essentially created the ‘premium’ cooler category in 2006, and the brand has since grown at an astonishing rate.

VP of Marketing, Corey Maynard graciously took the time to speak at last week’s 2015 AMA Marketing Jam and explained how delivering an authentic and consistent experience has proven essential to growing the brand. In stark contrast to the aforementioned band example, Corey’s philosophy is that a world-class product is absolutely the first requirement to building a world-class brand.

YETI’s #BuiltforTheWild social campaign and their new 5-min In Current video documentary are testaments to the team’s customer experience-focused approach.

My love of all things guitar and good music, coupled with my fascination of CX and what it can do for brands and musicians is the inspiration for the Brands, Bands, and CX series. I hope you enjoy the series. Have a suggestion for a band or brand you’d like me to feature in an upcoming post? Drop me a line, and stay tuned for Volume 2.

[divider line_type=”Full Width Line” custom_height=””] Michael Bogart, Brands Bands and CX Austin AMA BlogMichael Bogart

Michael Bogart is a current resident of “the Live Music Capital of the World.” Michael discovered his love of music while growing up in Cleveland, “The Rock and Roll Capital of the World,” and further explored this interest while a student at Ohio State University. His passion for all things guitar and music quickly led to an ongoing fascination with how customer experience influences buying decisions. As a representative for social software platform Sprinklr, he helps B2B and B2C brands in the south Texas region evaluate their CX strategy.

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Top 5 Things to Know about SEO in 2014

Tommy-headshot-croppedSept-With Inbound Marketing on pretty much any good marketer’s radar, it has become increasingly important to understand SEO. Most of us are up to speed on the basics of on-page optimization, but that’s only the start.

Because of very spammy behavior that was clogging up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) back in 2010, Google has released a series of algorithm updates and penalties to improve the quality of the SERPs. Rather than go through a list of changes, let’s take a moment to boil down the current state to the most important SEO topics you need to take seriously this year.

1.   Everyone Should be on Google+

When Google first launched Google+, there was an initial wave of interest followed by a big fat collective yawn. Over its first year or two, the platform was referred to as a “ghost town” and considered another failed experiment in social media by many. In reality, all of this criticism was short-sighted.

Fast forward to 2013, and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt revealed that Google+ was more important for identity verification, as opposed to a foray into social media for Google. That’s right, it was built as a social network but intended to provide Google with a way to verify identity. Keep in mind that the old days of the internet were akin to the “wild wild west”, in that anonymity was commonplace. It was much easier to spam or scam the masses, and simply keep one’s identity secret.

If you want to succeed at SEO, the natural conclusion is that Google+ is a must. This extends beyond social to author markup, local SEO, and even publisher authority. Check out a deeper explanation of the thinking in my post Google Plus: Six Reasons You Should Be Using It.

2.   Social SEO is Part of the Game

So if Google Plus is more about identity than social, where does that leave social networking? It remains a critical piece of the online marketing puzzle.

There are a few ways that social can impact SEO. One of the indicators of a successful site to Google is the volume of traffic / visits the site receives. If your content is good and drives shares and likes, you will get referral traffic from social.

Even more powerful, the relationships you build through social media can drive word of mouth to spread your message. With enough of a social graph behind you, natural links to your website will result over time. This is very important – links are the fuel that drive website / domain authority, which in turn pushes you further up the SERPs for the keywords you target. Naturally earned links are like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and Social can contribute to your success in this area.

3.   Organic Performance Matters FAR More Than Ranking

A few years ago, it was typical that 15-30 keywords drove 80 percent of a site’s organic traffic. In that situation, it made sense to keep close tabs on where your site ranked for these keywords, referred to as “head terms” in the industry.

Then Google rolled out their Hummingbird algorithm update last summer, and head terms started to decrease in importance. Hummingbird was more than a minor tweak like previous updates. It was a complete rebuild and relaunch of the way they match results to search queries.

Post-Hummingbird, we are seeing a large number of websites deriving the bulk of their organic traffic from long-tail queries (search terms with 3+ words in them). One client of ours completely flipped the equation – rather than seeing an 80/20 split between head terms and long-tail, they are seeing a 20/80 split today!

This truly changes the game. You can’t over-focus on a few items and hope to win the game. Businesses are being forced to look at real business metrics to evaluate SEO performance, which should have been the focal point all along.

So today, it makes more sense to measure performance based on overall traffic, overall organic traffic, conversion volumes, traffic to each individual URL/page, and internet health metrics such as time on site, bounce rate, and pages per visit. If you are still obsessing over where your head terms rank, move on. That ship has sailed.

4.   Mobile Needs to be a Priority

In February 2014, mobile browsing surpassed desktop in volume for the first time, ever. If you have been holding out on optimizing your website for mobile, you are already behind the game.

Did you know that Google takes user experience (UX) into account when ranking your website? Did you also know that Google’s evaluation of your UX is platform-dependent? That’s right, if you don’t make it easy to maneuver your website on mobile, you simply won’t rank as well for mobile searches.

There are multiple ways to get your site optimized for mobile, but without a question, a responsive design is the best option. A responsive platform senses what platform or screen size is being used to view a website, and reflows the presentation of the site to suit the device.

There is no need to build a completely separate mobile site on an “m.domain.com” subdomain any more, now that we have the responsive option. Why waste time optimizing two separate websites anyway, when you can do it once and walk away? For anyone with resource constraints (i.e. all of us), it makes no sense.

5.   Manipulating Search Algorithms Is Dangerous

Speaking of penalties and algorithm updates, Google has gone to great lengths to not only penalize cheaters and manipulators of the algorithm, but also to make an example of them. Take for example the recent spate of slaps for spammy guest blogging, where they slapped an entire guest blogging network to send a message to webmasters and SEOs worldwide.

The benefit of all this mayhem is that we rarely speak with clients any more who think SEO is something that can rank them #1 for a keyword in a matter of days or weeks (thank you Matt Cutts). There simply are no more shortcuts, and those of us who choose to dance around the rules are only buying time.

Keep this rule of thumb in mind – if you have to ask yourself whether something is questionable or not, it probably is. When in doubt, opt for the ethical path. You’ll be happy you did.

Summary

SEO is a dynamic and changing area of marketing, and this has been particularly true the past several years. As we head into the middle of 2014, keep these five pieces of advice in mind. Build them into your overall approach, and you will reap the rewards in due time. Thanks for reading, and happy optimizing!

Tommy P. Landry has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and business strategy, at companies ranging from startups to enterprise. Having launched three businesses since 2001, Tommy is currently president and founder of Return On Now, a forward-thinking social SEO and inbound marketing consultancy in Austin, Texas that helps businesses increase their website visibility, traffic, and lead flow.

Return On Now (http://returnonnow.com)

 

Online Video is Great for Boosting Visibility and Conversion

By Adam Levy,

Just five or six years ago, many website owners treated video as a frilly add-on. Sort of like elaborate flash animations–cool looking possibly, but not essential.

Website owners shouldn’t make that mistake today.  Video is essential for increasing sites’ online visibility and converting visitors once they arrive at the site.

One of the main driving forces behind the necessity of video is Google.  Google owns YouTube (the second largest search engine, well ahead of Bing) and Google believes video is an integral part of the future of search.  Google includes video in blended search results and is always looking at ways to further integrate video.

Getting your video to be found by Google requires optimization.  Google crawlers can’t natively read video, so you need to provide the relevant data.  All videos should be uploaded to YouTube, and you should absolutely take advantage of the opportunities to fill in your title and description with relevant information that includes targeted keywords.  Invite your fans and friends to 1) like your video 2)watch it all the way through and 3)comment on it. Respond to these comments, create activity and community and Google/YouTube’s algorithm will take notice. Especially in longtail, local niches.  Video, even though it is growing rapidly, is still a differentiator.  More sites don’t have it now than do.  Optimize and promote your video and you’ll end up, in all likelihood, occupying a nice piece of real estate on a SERP.

All of the available data suggests video is terrific for conversion.  It grabs people emotionally–more so than static pictures and text.  And the explosion of animated explainer videos to deliver value propositions over the last couple of years is driven wholly by the very strong conversion numbers achieved when these videos are done well.  Attention spans are held longer.  Video is also just a lot easier to grasp on a small screen than pinching out text.

Three quick pieces of advice for DIY video: shoot tight (close up) because your screen is already small.  Leave your CTA on the final frame–don’t fade to black.  And use b-roll/non-interview footage.  Don’t rely exclusively on talking heads.

One final note: one of the myths out there is that serious business decisions, especially in B2B, aren’t informed by online video.  It just ain’t true.  We put together an online video (below) to highlight some of the data about how big online video is in general and how effective it is reaching decision makers. Hope you enjoy it!

Adam Levy Profile (1)Adam Levy, President, LDRK Media, attended the highly regarded film editing program at The Edit Center in  New York City and is the former Director of Marketing at Advanced Veterinary Technologies. In 2010, Adam  started the online video marketing firm LDRK MEDIA. LDRK helps businesses and nonprofit organizations build their online brands and increase their online engagement and conversions with custom video and  animation.

 

Why Every CEO, Business Owner & Founder Should Be A Spokesperson

By Ellie Scarborough

 

I don’t believe that anyone is inherently bad on camera. In fact, I believe that we each have something incredibly valuable to share with the world, we just need the right tools to feel confident and poised while sharing and to know how to speak with purpose and passion.

If you’re a CEO or founder or business owner by title, you need to be the champion of your message above anyone else. Period. And guess what? No one’s suited to do it better. How do I know? I decided to step up as spokesperson after launching a business to help women get over heartbreak in 2010, and the results blew me away. I was on the TODAY Show within a month of launch, sitting across from Kathie Lee & Hoda. Within a year I’d shared my story with The Wall Street Journal, SHAPE magazine, Cosmo radio and The New York Times, to name a few. I also cultivated a loyal following of thousands in just months through online videos.

Now it’s your turn. And here are five reasons why you should start speaking up for your brand right this second:

1. Everyone wants to here the story behind the brand and no one is more suited to share it than you. Simon Sinek calls this your “WHY.” It’s the reason behind your business, it’s why you do what you do. And, if you’re sharing it in an authentic way on camera, it’s your most powerful and compelling part of your brand. It’s what makes people care. It’s what creates loyalty.

2. The celebrity factor. Using video & media to get your message out to the world allows you to form powerful and long-lasting connections with your customers on a MASSIVE scale. I call it the celebrity-factor. Have you ever felt like you knew a favorite celebrity even though you’ve never met them? You can save time AND energy by leveraging the same principles in your business.

3. Becoming the expert in your field gives you instant credibility. And guess what? Media outlets DEPEND on industry personalities & experts like YOU! When you can discuss what you do with confidence, clarity and relevance, you can easily position yourself as the go-to resource. And more publicity equals more money in the bank.

4. Using online video on your website and blog opens the door to a continuously growing online market that is willing to share your message with friends and family. Over 2 BILLION videos are viewed on YouTube everyday! How much is 2 billion? Combine the audience numbers of all three major broadcast networks. Now double it!

5. You can give your cause context. Speaking in media interviews and in online videos allows you to share the core values, beliefs and principles of your brand in a totally unique way. You can answer questions from clients, share insights they wouldn’t necessarily here otherwise, and continue to reiterate your messaging in every on-camera appearance.

Here’s the bottom line: People who master the art of sharing their story on-camera make more money, have more fun and grow bigger empires than their competitors. So what’s holding you back?

 

About Ellie Scarborough, Founder of Media Bombshell: After reporting on NBC for 7 years and founding a popular online business devoted to helping women get over heartbreak, she developed a unique process for building bombshell brands quickly. Now she works exclusively with visionary business owners who are serious about positively impacting the planet with their passion + moxie + services and who are ready to harness the power of video and media to do it.

Her story has been featured on the TODAY Show, Cosmo radio, in Wall Street Journal, New York Times, SHAPE magazine and many more. By using online video, traditional media and social media, she attracted thousands of loyal fans across the country in a matter of months. Forbes, CNBC, and others have featured her as a video and community expert. She was a featured speaker at Spark and Hustle in Houston in July.

Be sure to catch Ellie as the featured speaker at our October Austin AMA Luncheon Series: “Engaging Your Audience with Impact-full Online Videos

  • Thursday, October 18, 2012 11:30 AM –   1:00 PM
  • Cool River Cafe 4001 West Parmer Lane Austin, Texas 78727