World Media Awards 2018 shortlist revealed

The World Media Group has unveiled the shortlist for the 2018 World Media Awards, revealing the world’s best content-driven, cross-border advertising campaigns. The Awards attracted interest from across the globe, with entries coming in from Austria, Botswana, Canada, Finland, Malta, the Netherlands, Israel, Pakistan and the USA amongst many others – targeting global audiences in [more…]

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6 Ways Marketing Content Can Support a Customer Service Team

“Hold on, let me just confirm the solution for you,” the service rep responds as she scrambles to look up the answer to a customer’s question.

It’s the corporate equivalent of a retail employee wandering aimlessly down each aisle when you ask where a certain product is, like you couldn’t have done that yourself.

Customers will eventually stump customer service (a department sometimes known as customer success, if it’s more focused on proactive goal-setting than reactive troubleshooting) with a question they ask over the phone or in a live chat window. And that’s okay; it’s hard to always have all the answers at the ready.

What’s not okay is when this becomes a pattern — customer success employees seeming puzzled by the same problems or questions every time their clients bring them up.

Does this sound like the situation at your company? Consider tapping your marketing department to fill those knowledge gaps.

You may have heard the term “smarketing,” which describes the ideal alignment of Marketing and Sales through shared goals and direct communication. What if I told you the same alignment could benefit Marketing and Customer Success, too?

There’s a critical opportunity for both Marketing and Customer Success to help each other better serve their common audience. Here are six ways Marketing can help customer success managers (CSMs) and service reps transform the client experience, and the benefit Marketing can receive in return.

6 Ways Marketing Content Can Support a Customer Service Team

1. Distilling Marketing Content Into Monthly Digests

Customer Success might already receive their company blog’s newsletter, but their conversations with clients can benefit from more tailored recommendations.

A dedicated roundup email just for these employees — offering a digest of the most product- or customer-focused material from the previous month or quarter — can ensure the team is always tuned into the issues Marketing knows their audience is most interested in.

A good place to start? Identify the latest ebooks, how-to articles, and data sheets your website is offering for download, and highlight the key points across each piece in this recurring email. Also known as “middle-of-the-funnel” content, this type of content can be hugely helpful to a customer success team because it reinforces product and value proposition comprehension.

Putting this material in client-facing hands ensures their remarks to customers are consistent with what people are reading on your blog or website.

2. Creating a Content Library on the Intranet

An internal wiki or intranet for sharing resources with coworkers is the perfect space for a content library. According to CMO Council, 40% of salespeople’s time is spent looking for content that Marketing has created. Because Customer success talks to customers just as often as Sales does, it stands to reason they do the same thing.

Rather than letting your CSMs Google everything Marketing has published — and potentially sending a dreaded “unusual traffic” signal to Google if they search too much — repost this content as links on an intranet page created just for Sales and/or Customer Success.

Sort the relevant articles and offers by common customer queries: An article on good email subject lines, for example, might be appropriate bucketed under the topic “how customers can stay out of their own clients’ spam folders.”

3. Reporting on Social Media Interaction

What do social media and community managers have in common with customer success managers? They see lots of customer complaints — but in a Twitter post or Facebook comment, rather than over the phone or in a live chat window.

And yet customer service experts at Sparkcentral suggest only 8% of marketing and customer service employees work together on social media. This is a missed opportunity.

If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that people are more willing to be honest about their feelings and experiences from behind a computer screen than they are in person or over the phone. That means Marketing could be sitting on a goldmine of feedback from social media followers that the folks in customer success hasn’t seen.

Want to help them serve your customers better? Open a line of communication with Customer Success to report on the latest interactions with followers of the brand’s social media accounts on a regular cadence. This should include both public comments and private messages, allowing CSMs to see how Marketing talks to users and diagnoses problems their clients may not be revealing directly.

4. Joining Kickoff or Implementation Meetings

Customer success departments that also onboard new customers are sometimes thrown broad questions about the industry during initial calls.

For example, in the marketing industry, a customer might ask, “what content should I publish?” versus or in addition to, “how do I integrate my content management system (CMS) with your product?” The first question may go beyond the product issues that service reps are trained to handle.

Luckily, industry best practices are marketers’ bread and butter, making them excellent wingmen during these kickoff meetings. Including just one marketing employee in this process can help keep the customer thoroughly educated in the early stages of a business relationship.

These kickoffs can take place frequently, though, and it’s important to be respectful of the marketing department’s time. If your marketing employees are separated by industry specialization, consider rotating them into kickoffs for clients that fit their area of expertise.

If their workload simply doesn’t allow for it, having marketing’s leadership staff (such as the CMO or VP of Marketing) take this responsibility may be in the best interest of the rest of the team.

5. Reporting on Chatbot Conversations

Chatbots and similar chat tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) aren’t yet ubiquitous in marketing, but for companies that have deployed AI-powered chatbots, these transcripts are invaluable to your customer service team.

(Skeptical about the AI hype? Research shows you may already be using AI and not realize it!)

Chatbot technology allows companies to talk to customers via messaging apps — or natively as a feature of their website — with an automated “bot” programmed to answer common questions about their services.

If your company hosts a chatbot on, say, HubSpot Conversations (get it for free here), it was likely set up to handle quick-answer queries so client-facing staff can spend time solving more complex problems for the customer. A smart move, no doubt about it.

However, this might also mean a log of some very interesting dialogue between a prospect visiting your website and a robot who speaks on the company’s behalf is going unseen by employees who can learn from it.

This chatbot might be designed to lighten the load of questions normally posed to a human service rep, but don’t let the automated conversations go to waste. Go a step further and examine how people are interacting with the chatbot.

57% of people use AI chatbots from customer success to get business information.

People tend to lean on chatbots for open-ended, educational needs rather than technical issues, so examine your transcripts for trends in what users need the most information on when perusing your business’ website.

For example, you might baffle Customer Success with how many people ask the chatbot about a third-party integration your product offers relative to how little detail your website or CSMs provide on the subject themselves. Time to create some informational middle-of-the-funnel content …

6. Using Their Insights to Make Your Marketing Content Better

Like in Smarketing, the role of Marketing to Customer Success is a two-way street. Customer Success can offer valuable client insights right back to Marketing, which allows marketers to improve their content so it’s addressing the questions Customer Success typically needs help answering for clients.

Just as marketing teams have the opportunity to distill their content into an internal email specifically for service reps (per section 1 above), Customer Success likely keeps transcripts or recordings of their conversations with clients. Consider working with your Customer Success peers on a simple report that highlights call FAQs. Who knows? The company blog or website may be neglecting your customers’ most burning questions.

In addition, brainstorming sessions shouldn’t always be exclusive to the Marketing team. Everyone at the business can bring valuable content suggestions to the table, and Customer Success in particular has a breadth of on-the-job experience with clients that could make for a great how-to article or video.

Don’t hesitate to invite them to your next idea meeting.

Companies with the best customer experience share information across every department, and Customer Success is no exception. By keeping this department informed on what Marketing does all day, you equip them with the answers they’re expected to have and offer a more stable buyer’s journey to everyone the company works with.

from Marketing

First ad tech co receives IAB “Gold Standard”

Inskin Media has become the first ad tech company to achieve certification for the IAB UK’s Gold Standard, the initiative designed to raise standards in digital advertising and address the key issues facing the industry. The seal confirms that Inskin’s ad practices have met the Gold Standard’s three criteria: reducing ad fraud by implementing the [more…]

from TheMarketingblog

Hotwire Reels to provide global video capability across 35 countries

Latest : Hotwire, the global communications agency, announces the launch of Hotwire Reels, a branded partnership with Irresistible Films created to deliver global, multi-lingual video services to its network of 35 offices, partners and affiliates around the world. The venture expands Hotwire’s existing video capabilities by offering clients greater scale and speed in the production [more…]

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How (and Whether) to Invest in and Structure Online Communities – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Building an online community sounds like an attractive idea on paper. A group of enthusiastic, engaged users working on their own to boost your brand? What’s the hitch?

Well, building a thriving online community takes a great deal of effort, often with little return for a very long time. And there are other considerations: do you build your own platform, participate in an existing community, or a little of both? What are the benefits from a brand, SEO, and content marketing perspective? In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, Rand answers all your questions about building yourself an online community, including whether it’s an investment worth your time.

How and whether to invest in and structure online communities

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, we’re chatting about how and whether to invest in and structure online communities.

I want to say a thank you to @DaveCraige on Twitter. Dave, thank you very much for the question, an excellent one. I think this is something that a lot of content marketers, web marketers, community builders think about is, “Should I be making an investment in building my own community? Should I leverage someone’s existing community? How can I do that and benefit from an SEO perspective and a content marketing and a brand awareness perspective?” So we’ll try and tackle some of those questions today on Whiteboard Friday.

Strategy first!

First off, before you go and invest anywhere or build anything, I urge you to think strategy first, meaning your business has goals. You have things that you want to accomplish. Maybe those are revenue growth or conversions. Maybe they have to do with entering a new sphere of influence or pursuing a new topic. Maybe you’re trying to launch a new product. Maybe you’re trying to pivot the business or disrupt yourself, change with technology.

Whatever those business goals are, they should lead you to marketing goals, the things that marketing can help to accomplish in those business goals. From that should fall out a bunch of tactics and initiatives. It’s only down here, in your marketing goals and tactical initiatives, that if online communities match up with those and serve your broader business goals, that you should actually make the investment. If not or if they fall below the line of, “Well, we can do three things that we think this year and do them well and this is thing number 4 or number 5 or number 10,” it doesn’t make the cut.

Online communities fit here if…

1. A passionate group of investment-worthy size exists in your topic.

So if, for example, you are targeting a new niche. I think Dave himself is in cryptocurrency. There’s definitely a passionate group of people in that sphere, and it is probably of investment-worthy size. More recently, that investment has been a little rocky, but certainly a large size group, and if you are targeting that group, a community could be worthwhile. So we have passion. We have a group. They are of sizable investment.

2. You/your brand/your platform can provide unique value via a community that’s superior to what’s available elsewhere.

Second, you or your brand or your platform can provide not just value but unique value, unique value different from what other people are offering via a community superior to what’s available elsewhere. Dave might himself say, “Well, there’s a bunch of communities around crypto, but I believe that I can create X, which will be unique in ways Y and Z and will be preferable for these types of participants in this way.” Maybe that’s because it enables sharing in certain ways. Maybe it enables transparency of certain kinds. Maybe it’s because it has no vested interest or ties to particular currencies or particular companies, whatever the case may be.

3. You’re willing to invest for years with little return to build something of great long-term value.

And last but not least, you’re willing to invest potentially for years, literally years without return or with very little return to build something of great long-term value. I think this is the toughest one. But communities are most similar in attribute to content marketing, where you’re going to put in a ton of upfront effort and a lot of ongoing effort before you’re going to see that return. Most of the time, most communities fail because the people behind them were not willing to make the investments to build them up, or they made other types of mistakes. We’ll talk about that in a second.

Two options: Build your own platform, or participate in an existing community

You have two options here. First, you can build your own platform. Second, you can participate in an existing community. My advice on this is never do number one without first spending a bunch of time in number two.

So if you are unfamiliar with the community platforms that already exist in interior decorating or in furniture design or in cryptocurrency or in machining tools or in men’s fashion, first participate in the communities that already exist in the space you’re targeting so that you are very familiar with the players, the platforms, the options, and opportunities. Otherwise, you will never know whether it’s an investment-worthy size, a passionate group. You’ll never know how or whether you can provide unique value. It’s just going to be too tough to get those things down. So always invest in the existing communities before you do the other one.

1. Build your own platform

Potential structures

Let’s talk quickly about building your own platform, and then we’ll talk about investing in others. If you’re deciding that what matches your goals best and your strategy best is to build your own platform, there are numerous opportunities. You can do it sort of halfway, where you build on someone else’s existing platform, for example creating your own subreddit or your own Facebook or LinkedIn group, which essentially uses another community’s platform, but you’re the owner and administrator of that community.

Or you can actually build your own forum or discussion board, your own blog and comments section, your own Q&A board, your own content leaderboard, like Hacker News or like Dharmesh and I did with, where we essentially built a Reddit or Hacker News-like clone for marketers.

Those investments are going to be much more severe than a Facebook group or a Twitter hashtag, a Twitter chat or a LinkedIn group, or those kinds of things, but you want to compare the benefits and drawbacks. In each, there are some of each.

Benefits & drawbacks

So forums and discussions, those are going to have user-generated content, which is a beautiful thing because it scales non-linearly with your investment. So if you build up a community of people who are on an ongoing basis creating topics and answering those topics and talking about those things in either a Q&A board or a forum discussion or a content leaderboard, what’s great is you get that benefit, that SEO benefit of having a bunch of longtail, hopefully high-quality content and discussion you’re going to need to do.

Mostly, what you’re going to worry about is drawbacks like the graveyard effect, where the community appears empty and so no one participates and maybe it drags down Google’s perception of your site because you have a bunch of low quality or thin pages, or people leave a bunch of spam in there or they become communities filled with hate groups, and the internet can devolve very quickly, as you can see from a lot of online communities.

Whatever you’re doing, blog and comments, you get SEO benefits, you get thought leadership benefits, but it requires regular content investments. You don’t get the UGC benefit quite like you would with a forum or a discussion. With Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups, Twitter hashtags, it’s easy to build, but there’s no SEO benefit, usually very little to none.

With a Q&A board, you do get UGC and SEO. You still have those same moderation and graveyard risks.

With content leaderboards, they’re very difficult to maintain, being a good example, where Dharmesh and I figured, “Hey, we can get this thing up and rolling,” and then it turns out no, we need to hire people and maintain it and put in a bunch of effort and energy. But it can become a bookmarkable destination, which means you get repeat traffic over and over.

Whatever you’re choosing, make sure you list out these benefits and then align these with the strategy, the marketing goal, the tactics and initiatives that flow from those. That’s going to help determine how you should structure, whether you should structure your own community.

2. Participate in existing communities


The other option is participating in existing ones, places like Quora, subreddits, Twitter, LinkedIn groups, existing forums. Same thing, you’re going to take these. Well, we can participate on an existing forum, and we can see that the size and reach is on average about nine responses per thread, about three threads per day, three new threads per day.

Benefits & drawbacks

The benefit is that it can build up our thought leadership and our recognition among this group of influential people in our field. The drawback is it builds our competitor’s content, because this forum is going to be ranking for all those things. They own the platform. It’s not our owned platform. Then we align that with our goals and initiatives.

Four bits of advice

1. If you build, build for SEO + owned channels. Don’t create on someone else’s platform.

So I’m not going to dive through all of these, but I do want to end on some bits of advice. So I mentioned already make sure you invest in other people’s communities before you build your own. I would also add to that if you’re going to build something, if you’re going to build your own, I would generally rule these things out — LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, Twitter hashtag groups. Why? Because those other platforms control them, and then they can change them at any time and your reach can change on those platforms. I would urge you to build for SEO and for an owned media channel.

2. Start with a platform that doesn’t lose credibility when empty (e.g. blog > forum).

Second, I’d start with a platform that doesn’t lose credibility when it’s empty. That is to say if you know you want to build a forum or a content leaderboard or a Q&A board, make it something where you know that you and your existing team can do all the work to create a non-graveyard-like environment initially. That could mean limiting it to only a few sections in a forum, or all the Q&A goes in one place as opposed to there are many subforums that have zero threads and zero comments and zero replies, or every single thing that’s posted, we know that at least two of us internally will respond to them, that type of stuff.

3. Don’t use a subdomain or separate domain.

Third, if you can, avoid using a subdomain and definitely don’t use a separate domain. Subdomains inherit some of the ranking ability and benefits of the primary domain they’re on. Separate domains tend to inherit almost none.

4. Before you build, gather a willing, excited crew via an email group who will be your first active members.

Last, but not least, before you build, gather a willing, excited group of people, your crew, hopefully via an email group — this has served me extremely well — who will be those first active members.

So if you’re building something in the crypto space, as maybe Dave is considering, I might say to him, hey, find those 10 or 15 or 20 people who are in your world, who you talk to online already, create an email group, all be chatting with each other and contributing. Then start your Q&A board, or then start your blog and your comments section, or then start your forum, what have you. If you can seed it with that initial passionate group, you will get over a lot of the big hurdles around building or rolling your own community system.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and we’ll see you again next week. Take care.

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from The Moz Blog

Laughter Spot : “The one about a big puddle outside the pub”

The rain was pouring down. There standing in front of a big puddle outside the pub was an old Irishman, drenched, holding a stick, with a piece of string dangling in the water.. A passer-by stopped and asked, “What are you doing?” “Fishing” replied the old man. Feeling sorry for the old man, the gent says, “Come [more…]

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