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Authenticity Matters: The Marketer’s Guide to Choosing Compelling User-Generated Photos

Marketers and writers of the world, let’s chat about something important, yet overlooked: The visuals that accompany our written work. If you’re anything like me, you probably just let out an audible groan. Bonus points if it startled the person next to you.

Visuals are usually left to the creative directors and designers in the office. But when those visually gifted folks aren’t around, we tend to slap a vaguely related microstock photo on top of our content and call it a day. Or if we’ve had a little more caffeine than usual, we’ll open Canva and spruce up the stock photo with a quote or headline. It’s not our fault when visuals aren’t our area of expertise.

Over time, though, I discovered that more authentic visuals can spur target audiences to click on and engage with your work — obviously an important goal. My perspective shifted even more after taking a Content Editor position at a photo-licensing startup called Scopio. As it turns out, user-generated content — or UGC — isn’t just a great tool for marketers and writers, but also for editors and designers. These visuals just feel more human compared to the ones you’d find on stock websites.

The problem? A lot of folks aren’t sure where to find great user-generated photos. Sometimes, they’re not even sure how to use them.

When it comes time to choose visuals to complement email campaigns, blogs, social media posts and other forms of written content, don’t be afraid to try something user-generated (or at least more realistic). Keep these pointers handy, too!


Give ’em something real


user-generated content example

Photo by Nazariy Kravchenko/Scopio submission


What kind of message is your image putting across?

There’s a reason why the “Women Laughing Alone With Salad” meme went viral, or why fast food chain Wendy’s pokes fun at the perfection of stock photos in their newest set of ads. The internet allows us access to a staggering amount of content. So over time, we’ve also become more skilled at detecting inauthenticity.

If your image of choice happens to be a typical microstock photo (think someone with a too-perfect grin framed by a heavily photoshopped background), that image just wasn’t created for anyone in particular. It was born with one goal in mind: To become a flawless, one-size-fits-all art piece.

If you’ve ever seen the same stock photo used over and over in marketing articles or on company websites, you’ve seen this concept in action. The Wall Street Journal noticed this embarrassing faux pas back in 2006, but stock photo sharing is still commonplace. If you don’t believe me, do a reverse Google image search on a free stock photo.

When choosing images for blogs, social media posts and other types of written content, it’s up to you whether your photo is up to par. Does it speak to your message? And more importantly, does it align with your audience’s goals and values? If you didn’t answer these questions with an instant “yes,” you might just want to switch things up.

For those who write for larger agencies, brands or companies, it’d definitely be worth it to look into a platform that helps you find and license user-generated photos and videos, as they tend to be more, well, real.

In fact, a study by Crowdtap and Ipsos Media CT noted that millennials find user-generated content 35% more memorable and 50% more trustworthy than other forms of media. And though this study looks at UGC as a whole, it’s a good indicator of the images we should be moving toward.

I see this at work every day. When companies, nonprofits, media outlets and others use user-generated content to tell stories, they end up with better engagement, click-through rates and ROI just by publishing something more relatable. That’s powerful.


Think “human”



user-generated content example

Photo by Carmen Ramirez/Scopio submission


Audiences respond to visuals that are more candid or human, meaning you’ll also earn more engagement when you use them. Think back to a memorable piece of writing or advertising that you’ve seen. It probably has a human element.

The visuals we use don’t have to carry the same weight, but they should feel real rather than staged — think groups of people planting trees for Earth Day rather than something resembling Microsoft’s classic “Bliss,” or a candid photo from a lifestyle blog instead of a posed family photoshoot.

The most obvious way to go about this is to choose photographs with faces. Back in 2014, a Georgia Tech study noted that posting photos with faces on social media upped the likelihood of receiving likes and comments by 38% and 32%, respectively. “It is widely accepted in neuroscience that face perception is perhaps the most highly developed human visual skill,” they wrote.

However, it seems that not all photos featuring faces are created equal. The Nielsen Norman Group suggests that while viewers on a web page pay close attention to photos of everyday people (in this case, portraits on a company’s “about” page), they make a hard pass on “stock photos of generic people” used to spruce up web pages. The lesson here isn’t that user-generated content is a cure-all for marketers — it’s that audiences sniff out inauthenticity more than we think, and it could help to feature something more trustworthy. Going forward, this data should spark more conversations about the effectiveness of stock photography versus UGC or in-house photos and videos.

If you want to avoid dead-end visuals, it’s as simple as searching through hashtags and keywords on social media and licensing a candid photo from someone. And if you have a bigger wallet to work with, try hiring a photographer to create the kind of visuals you’re looking for.

Even if candid photos with faces aren’t a good match for your content, there are other ways to use this to your advantage. Whether it’s a beloved Golden Retriever, a pair of hands holding sunglasses or an indistinct city scene, choose a photo buzzing with life to project authenticity.

Because after all is said and done, candid, real-life shots often resonate better than a still life or a frazzled-man-in-business-attire stock photo.


Go beyond static on blogs


user-generated content example

Photo by @veryjinjing/Instagram


Resist the urge to just write a few paragraphs on a blog post and call it a day. Instead, try including more actionable elements for your readers to glance at or play around with. This simple trick is often overlooked by writers, but can boost stats like you wouldn’t believe.

To create something dynamic, the first step is to give your readers some breathing space. That’s actually as simple as using relatable photos to break your writing up into digestible chunks.

Research from BuzzSumo supports this. After analyzing more than a million articles, they found that the golden ratio of pictures to words is about 1 image per 75 to 100 words. This magic number can also double shares on social media as opposed to articles with less visuals.

But don’t limit this just to photos. The actionable elements I’m talking about can be anything from an embedded Tweet to a gallery of user-generated content images sourced from social media, which could increase your pageview time by 90%.

Go ahead: Play around and find a solution that works for your readers.


Avoid legal grey areas


Photo by James McMinn Jr./Scopio submission


It’s safe to assume that most of us wouldn’t steal a painting or sculpture, brush it over with a few coats of paint it and sell it to an art gallery under our name. And even though digital photos should be treated with the same deference, stolen content is far too familiar in the era of social media.

If you’d like to edit and publish a photo or video you sourced from a social site, great! But be prepared — either have a watertight legal agreement drafted up for photographers to sign or try out a platform that does the hard work for you. This will help avoid the legal grey areas that could get your team in trouble and tarnish your brand’s image.

Embedding user-generated photos and videos is another option, but the effect can wear off after a while. You’ll have the freedom to creatively repurpose photos and videos if you can get the rights to them.

As the old saying goes: It’s better to be safe than sorry … Or in legal trouble.


In conclusion

User-generated content — including images and photography — can add an element of authenticity that encourages consumers to engage with and interact with your company… which can, down the line, lead to increased sales. Have you successfully incorporated user-generated content into your marketing? Tell us about it in the comments below.


authenticity matters: how to choose good user-generated content

The post Authenticity Matters: The Marketer’s Guide to Choosing Compelling User-Generated Photos appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

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3 Steps to Creating an Organized Entryway (Even If You Don't Have the Space)

Drop zones, mudrooms, utility rooms, entryways, “places to leave your stuff.” Whatever you choose to call them, these spaces are invaluable as a spot to kick off your shoes, drop your keys, and keep everything you’ll need for the next day right where you left it.

Sometimes these spaces can be hard to come by, especially if you live in an apartment or studio. Without organization, shoes usually end up piled in front of the door waiting to trip an unsuspecting victim, and an array of backpacks, mail, dog leashes and knickknacks can clutter your home to the point of embarrassment.

Photo from Zillow listing.

But having a dedicated, organized and stylish drop zone for all of your daily needs – and to welcome your guests – is absolutely achievable, no matter the size or design of your living space.

Try these tips to establish a functional entryway in a home of any size.

Make a little room

Since it’s generally not possible to remodel or add on to a rental apartment, you must work with what you have.

Try a narrow console table for tight hallways as a place to drop your keys or leave your outgoing mail.

If space is really tight and all you have is the wall behind your door, hang hooks for coats and bags so they stay off the floor.

Another small-space trick: Temporarily remove your coat closet’s door, and add a stool or small bench inside as a place to sit and take off your shoes – and still have room for coats.

If your apartment is inside a secure building, you may be able to leave out a basket or tray for shoes in the shared hallway.

Add functionality

A mirror can also go a long way in opening up and brightening tight areas by reflecting light and giving the illusion of more space.

Retailers like IKEA sell modern pieces that can be modified to fit narrow spaces or hung on the wall. Measure your desired entryway space, and find furniture that will make the most of the room you have.

Having dedicated spaces for accessories also will make your drop zone a functional center. A devoted bowl or hook to hang your keys, a folder to sort your mail, and a basket to keep your shoes in really makes a difference in the flow of your day.

Leave a message

Bump practicality up a notch by having a message center in your drop zone where you can pin important reminders or leave messages for family members. It’s a great way to keep everyone connected as they go in and out.

A docking station to charge all your electronics can also be useful here. Look for compact and small accessories that will fit your space, yet serve the purpose you need.

By customizing your drop zone with features you need that will fit your home, you’ll keep everything streamlined and easy to find when you need it.

See more entryway inspiration.


Originally published December 3, 2015.

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Byron lands top-tier ride at Hendrick Motorsports in 2018

A racing fan who grew up in North Carolina, William Byron remembers peering into windows at Hendrick Motorsports. He saw cars built for Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt … Click to Continue »

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Using a Quiz to Double-Down on Your Leads

How just one question can transform your business.

“You will never know if you do not ask,” says marketing and sales whiz Trish Witkowski, “that is why quizzes and surveys are so invaluable: they help you get inside the mind of your target market.” That is just one of the valuable insights that Trish uncovered while researching the most efficient lead scoring strategies in the world.

You see, a year ago Ms. Witkowski set off on a journey to understand why some seemingly mundane businesses can generate massive success using simple (and often overshadowed) marketing tools: tools like email and surveys. (By the way, if you are interested in what she learned from Vegas Card Counters, read this article.)

“It is so easy to find yourself chasing audiences on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, but hidden inside your existing audience – your current prospects and customers – is the profit-producing insight you need to be exponentially successful,” Trish says. That’s right. All you need to do is dig deeper into the audience you already own.


The audience you already own

In Trish’s research, she sat down with several companies who’d leveraged their existing customers and prospects to find game-changing insights – insights that would propel their businesses to the next level.

“Some companies realized that if they homed in on a particular sub-segment, they could increase their margins and generate higher profits. Others found that a simple quiz could eliminate time-wasting sales efforts on tire-kicking leads to close bigger deals faster,” notes Ms. Witkowski.

“Unfortunately, most companies squander the opportunity to drive intelligent business insight from their surveys and quizzes because marketers make one massive mistake: they forget to make the survey or quiz about the customer,” Trish found.

It was a story Trish heard from an agency executive named Danyl Bosomworth in London, England that blew her mind.


The Taste Test and the multi-million dollar data point

A few years ago, Danyl Bosomworth ran a small education travel division inside a multi-billion dollar travel company. Danyl’s group sold travel and teaching experiences to college students around the world.

“Danyl’s sales and marketing processes were pretty traditional. Danyl’s team bought relevant keywords to drive prospects towards an opt-in form. Those that expressed even minimal interest received a high-quality direct mail brochure and a few days later a call from the sales team,” explains Trish.

The team’s approach yielded an industry standard 3% conversion rate. “Danyl knew he could do better, then just the industry standard,” Trish notes.

“Danyl and his sales team realized that a particular ‘type’ of person buys teach and travel experiences – people who like adventurous food, for example. So, they decided to develop a fun online quiz to test a prospect’s appetite for adventure. Danyl planned on using the new insight to attract and identify the individuals who possessed a few key characteristics they were looking for,” explains Ms. Witkowski. “Because if they could find those people, they could close more business.”

“The ‘Teach English as a Foreign Language Taster,’ or ‘TEFL Taster’ as it became known, started out as one question and grew to be about 15 questions,” says Danyl Bosomworth. “It became very interactive.”

For example, one question invited prospects to watch a video clip of a ‘teachers view’ inside an African classroom. At the end of the clip, the TEFL Taster would ask the prospect if the video made them feel excited, scared or nervous, or intimidated.

“We had audio clips and multiple-choice sliders even simple A/B polling questions. We collected all the data anonymously and only asked for an email address at the very end of the survey,” Danyl explains. In fact, Danyl’s team learned two valuable lessons:

  1. You will capture more data by asking for personal information at the very end of a survey.
  2. Even the anonymous data possesses value.

“Suddenly, Danyl had more information and insight into his prospects than ever before,” Trish says with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a real data-driven marketer.

“Overnight, they knew the ages of their prospects; they knew their food preferences and their language skills, they better understood whether they were the right fit for a TEFL adventure. Danyl could now quickly determine who would most likely pay for a teach and travel experience given the insight they had provided in the quiz,” Trish says.

The survey, in essence, was a goldmine.

“It did not take long for Danyl to refine their entire sales and marketing approach. In fact, only the most ‘qualified’ leads received the expensive direct mail brochure and his sales team focused first on the most viable leads. Suddenly, they were closing more deals, more often, more efficiently, at a reduced overall cost” says Trish. The Taste Test was working!

“We found that people who completed the entire TEFL Taster, received one lead tool (like the brochure or a specific product inquiry,) were 80% more likely to convert,” notes Danyl.

Before Trish told me about the unexpected, million-dollar outcome of The Taste Test, Trish revealed a few simple keys to expanding your audience understanding using simple surveys and quizzes.


The three keys to successful customer data expansion


1. An irresistible question

Using simple, even one-question surveys to expand your understanding of your audience can yield tremendous results. In Trish’s travels, she uncovered the story of a garden supply company that tried month after month to get more insight about their customers. “Their survey response rates were dismal,” explains a disappointed Trish.

“But they did not give up. One month, the garden supply team asked customers to tell them how BIG their garden was. (Who does not want to brag about the size of their garden, right?) Suddenly, the flood gates opened. People gushed about how big their garden was, what type of garden they grew, even how they created it. Finally, they had found the key to unlocking new insight,” says Ms. Witkwoski.

So, “look for an irresistible question your audience would love to answer,” Trish adds.


2. Look for small signals

Long surveys can be cumbersome. Think about mining your current wins for small signals that might lead to bigger success if you consistently ask the question.

“Danyl’s team used a hunch – the idea that if you do not like adventurous food might mean you will not be a good fit for a teach and travel experience in rural Asia – as the basis for the first version of The Taste Test,” notes Trish.

All you need is a hunch to get started expanding your audience insight. Don’t over complicate it.


3. Make sure there’s a benefit for the audience

“One of the reasons Danyl’s approach was so successful is that the quiz was positioned to help the prospect determine if a teach and travel experience was right for the prospect (not for the company),” notes Trish. “This is important,” she emphasizes.

Instead of asking the audience to tell you what they want or what they like, consider the reasons your survey will help your customer. “Position your survey as helpful for your prospect, and you will see your response-rates skyrocket.”


Unexpected new markets

So, what was it that Danyl uncovered with his Taste Test?

“Danyl’s new marketing tool did not come without its share of surprises,” Trish says. As it turns out, the quiz also yielded an entire category of customers that they had never recognized: “the mature adult in transition.”

“Yes, the quiz revealed one surprising new insight. The team discovered that college kids were not the only people who wanted to get away from it all while doing something good for the world. In fact, empty nesters, retirees, career-changers, and divorcees also wanted in on the action,” reveals Trish.

Armed with a mountain of new customer data brought in by a simple quiz, Danyl, and his talented team grew the size of the program by 30%, and the revenues tripled over three years.

That is success.

“You will never know if you do not ask,” reiterates Trish Witkowski. “What irresistable question are you going to start with?”


Meet Andrew at ResponseCon in October!


Use a quiz to double-down on your leads

The post Using a Quiz to Double-Down on Your Leads appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

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Quiz: Can You Guess the Price of These Homes?

Note: There is a widget embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s widget.

Top image, as well as the first and last quiz images, from Zillow listing.

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Hunt for other worlds: 3,500 exoplanets and counting

Since the first planet beyond our solar system was discovered almost 30 years ago, the search for exoplanets has turned up thousands of fascinating worlds. 

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6 Success Factors of Ecommerce Business Strategy

As an entrepreneur, getting into ecommerce is a significant step towards growing a business and increasing profits. For those who are just starting a business, ecommerce can potentially be the foundation of a profitable company. Whichever you are, know that ecommerce is not simply putting up your products online and hoping for the best.

There is a good bit of strategy that goes into making it work.  Understanding how ecommerce can affect a business is crucial in making it a success.


What is ecommerce today?

Ecommerce is now ubiquitous to business in developed countries, but developing countries have yet to catch up with its adoption. However, things have been coming along as ecommerce has started to grow in a big way throughout Asia, especially in China.

In the meantime, mobile has pretty much become the biggest thing in ecommerce these days. However, a lot of businesses aren’t converting to m-commerce fast enough to make the most of the mobile user base. With the ecommerce market becoming more competitive than ever before, this may change down the line, as businesses continue to find new ways to gain an edge.

There is also a future in subscription-based business models. Presently, there are already a number of online services that offers monthly subscriptions for a variety of things. Expect this business model to grow even more in the coming years.


Six factors in ecommerce success:


1. Regulation of product pricing

It’s natural for customers to compare prices between brands. It’s expected of entrepreneurs, as well, to be aware of how much competitors are charging for their goods. Fortunately, there are different tools available to easily see and compare prices of competing ecommerce websites, such as DataCrops and

Various pricing strategies are employed to get the sweet spot in attractiveness and earnings, depending on the market and the kind of products being priced. For instance, one of the most common pricing strategies is keystone pricing, which is basically the doubling of wholesale price.

That usually works, but consider additional factors so the price is just right, not too high or too low. There is also discount pricing, psychological pricing, competitive pricing, value-based pricing, and so on.


2. Maintaining high quality products

For a long time, people had the notion that products from ecommerce sites were inferior quality when compared to products from physical stores. While much of that myth no longer exists these days, there is still a lot that must be done to convince customers that your products are comparable in quality as those found in malls and other stores.

Make sure you procure your products from well-known and trusted suppliers of high quality goods as well.

Your must uphold your standards consistently across the board. If you ever ship a subpar product to a customer, it will definitely be a blow to your business even if you have a return/replacement policy in place. Overall customer satisfaction is crucial to the business’ continued survival, and bad product quality can break your business down.

Keep System feedback transparent to the changes in input, and corrective action must be taken as soon as possible. This is a continuing process as there are always other ways to improve.


3. Improving store accessibility

The design of your ecommerce website (online store) must accommodate all types of customers. The online store is your main tool of communicating and transacting with them. It must be able to relay information fast and concisely to evoke the trustworthiness of your business to your customers.

Accessibility is of utmost importance as it helps your business be within reach to all sorts of customers; i.e. people of different cultures, people with disabilities, etc.  Being able to have your online store set to other languages can potentially widen your customer base, as long as they are a significant part of your audience. It may also be accessible to people with visual disabilities like color blindness and impaired vision, by using high-contrast visual theme and a larger font size for text.

There are also things you can do to make the online store viewed better by mobile devices, such as using responsive design and optimizing your images so they can load faster. The more you improve your website’s accessibility, the more people can potentially view it.


4. Making a wonderful first impression

Users know if they like a website or not by just a glance, and that first impression usually lasts. Making a good first impression is imperative in getting more customers in your online store. Make the best, eye-catching design possible, in order to entice people into coming in and making use of your ecommerce website.

Good web design has principles you can follow that will help you convince people to take a look at what you have. It should not be too loud nor too barren.  Everything on it should be easy to understand, yet maintains its own personality.


5. Securing your shipments

One of the main concerns with ecommerce for both entrepreneurs and consumers is the issue of security. With personal and financial information being handled online, there is always the potential for ecommerce websites being compromised and customer data stolen for nefarious purposes. This is especially true for credit card information that gets entered in online every single day.

Make use of SSL to secure your customers’ online shopping experience. SSL ensures that transactions and data are encrypted so that there is less of a chance for them to be compromised. Two-factor authentication is also a good way to further secure your online store, and adding other verification methods (without making it too hard for your customers) should help as well.


6. Taking advantage of m-commerce


mobile ecommerce business strategy


The mobile user base has grown exponentially over the last few years, thereby the need for online stores to become mobile commerce ready has become virtually mandatory at this point. If your online store is not optimized for mobile devices, then you are missing out on a lot of business.


Some of the things that make an online store optimized for m-commerce are things like responsive design with easy-to-use navigation menus, solid mobile search features, and easy checkout and payment, all done over mobile. You need not have a mobile app to do it, just have your website optimized for mobile if possible



If you’re looking to get into ecommerce, there is certainly no better time than now. With a public that has been getting more and more familiar with the use of ecommerce to avail of various products and services, we are going to see more amazing things through ecommerce for both entrepreneurs and consumers.


6 Success Factors of eCommerce Business Strategy

The post 6 Success Factors of Ecommerce Business Strategy appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

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Adopting Marketing Automation: Key Challenges and Solutions

The benefits of using marketing automation seem clear. Every year more marketers decide to move away from “spray and pray” campaigns and choose to automate their communication instead. But adopting marketing automation isn’t a walk in the park, as our research found.

In our survey, we’ve asked more than 2,500 marketers around the globe about the top challenges they saw when adopting marketing automation in their companies.

Having collected the data, we decided to ask some of the brightest minds in the marketing industry about why they thought those elements caused such a struggle and what could one do to overcome them.

Below you’ll find the chart showing the results of the above mentioned research, along with the comments from marketing experts and practitioners like Michael Brenner, Kath Pay, Erik Qualman, and more!

Once you’ve read them, please share your thoughts with us.

What were the biggest marketing automation challenges for your company and how did you overcome them (or how are you planning to overcome them)? Are the results from this study in line with what you’ve experienced?

Let us know in the comments below.


Top marketing automation adoption challenges – GetResponse report


Key challenges and solutions

1. Securing budget (36.1%)

Michael Brenner – CEO of Marketing Insider Group

Marketers’ biggest struggle with marketing automation is securing budget. And this is true despite the fact that we rate email marketing as the most effective marketing channel. Imagine if all our marketing efforts (time, budget, people) were directed at the programs that deliver the greatest impact.

Instead, too many marketing organizations are focused on checking the boxes. We do what our boss thinks might work. We create brochures for the sales team that get thrown in the trash. We run banner ads because the brand team asked us to. The main reason we struggle to secure budget is that we don’t measure the impact of our marketing activities on our business. Too often we forget to ask if our customers really want or need the things we invest in.

Email marketing works because our customers have to opt-in and they have the ability to unsubscribe. This forces us to really focus on creating valuable content that helps them. So we need to measure these results and learn how to present the business case for marketing automation in business terms that executives can understand.


Kath Pay – CEO of Holistic Email Marketing

I believe the problem lies in a couple of places. Firstly, 36.1% say that securing budget is a problem, yet only 15.1% have an issue with lack of buy-in/vision from the senior managers. There is a big discrepancy there and shows that a good percentage of senior managers have bought into it, yet aren’t allocating the budget. In my experience this is simply because marketing automation has been sold as a tactic, which sounds good, but without any specific business case as to what problem it will solve, and therefore the managers are hesitant to invest into it.

If, however, you went to the C-suite and said “80% of our database is made up of one-time buyers and we could make X% more revenue with a second purchase program to convert them into buying a second time” or “PPC is costing us $xx.xx and we keep paying for people who have already visited the website or signed up to our newsletter and therefore we should implement a robust first purchase program in order to not only convert these people into being customers but also reduce our PPC expenditure”, you’d provide clear persuasive reasoning that would get the C-suite’s attention.

This then brings us to the next issue, which is implementing marketing automation because they know or think they should implement it. If a customer journey and data insight review was performed, this would clearly show the missed opportunities that could be resolved by marketing automation – with the aim of solving business problems and achieving business objectives. Most marketers want to implement it because they believe it will free them up and make their life easier. This is not a reason that the C-suite will readily buy into, but resolving business pains will. And this business case can be put together by reviewing the customer journey and the data. I know this because we do it all the time!

Another example could be that, if you mined your data and found that people who spend an AOV of $xx.xx and have bought three times are more likely to go on to being your best customers with a high CLTV, then you could build a case to implement a third purchase program targeting those who have this AOV and have bought twice.

So don’t implement marketing automation because you think it’s a good idea or everyone says you should. Try and align it to your company’s business objectives and speak to the C-suite in the language they understand.


Erik Qualman – #1 bestselling author and motivational speaker

For many organizations and companies marketing automation is a new frontier. Like any new frontier this is a new line item on the budget ledger and it is often a challenge to secure funding for it.

If you are the person attempting to secure budget the key is to remember that this is a new destination and you don’t use old maps to get to new destinations. Remind your executives of this and also remind them that you are glad they are pushing back as pioneers get pushback.

Pushback is a signal that you are actually pioneering. You are blazing the trail. Help walk them through that in the long term this will actually reduce cost, improve customer experience, and make the company more human, not less, by automating redundant tasks and allowing employees to have real conversations with the customers.

Be patient and frame items in words they already gravitate toward: revenue, customer service, and cost reduction.


2. Quality of customer data (35.3%)


Andrew Davis – bestselling author and keynote speaker

It’s not surprising to hear that the quality of customer data is such a large barrier to finding success with marketing automation. In an age where “big data” is all the buzz, you’re much more likely to find success in small data points that point to major insights.

For example, I’m a proponent of “progressive registration”. The simple idea that lots of small choices from your email list over time can paint a really powerful picture of your customers and that’s where you’ll find actionable insight.

Instead of trying to marry all of your data together in one place, start by using small email interactions to trigger new insight. For example, if you send an email with two video choices to watch – one designed for audience A to watch and one designed for audience B, use their click choice to set a custom field.

For example, if one video is for C-level executives and the other is designed for entry-level tacticians, use marketing automation to set a custom field, like “C-Level=Yes.” Now, you can start to segment your list and provide new paths for those who’ve self-identified as C-level.


3. Knowledge to set up different types of automation, e.g. rules, lead scoring (35.2%)


Dave Chaffey – CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights

Our research found that there were 5 major problems of marketing automation which were rated at a similar level, with around one third of businesses experiencing each challenge. I was personally surprised that securing budget was the highest rated challenge, since most businesses will already be investing in an email marketing service. Many of these services now including highly capable marketing automation features as part of the fee, so it should be possible to overcome this problem by switching vendors, although this requires planning and an investment of time.

The other challenges require recognition of the issue and then putting in place processes to overcome them. Developing specialist knowledge inside the business is also important. Some vendors have better levels of advice and support to develop these, so you should consider the level of support available from your vendor. Alternatively, you can use an online education platform like Smart Insights, which offers advanced advice on email and marketing automation.


4. Producing engaging content and communication (33.9%)


Jamie Turner – author, speaker, and the CEO of

There are two key issues many marketers face regarding content.

The first is that there is a huge amount of existing content on any and all topics already, so it’s getting more and more difficult to break through.

The second is that most corporations are reluctant to put in the extra effort to get their content to break through.

Those two issues — the huge amount of content and the resistance corporations have about going the extra mile — are interrelated. That means if you solve one of them, you’ll solve both of them.

There are three secrets to breaking through the clutter with your content:

  • Target niches: By narrowing your audience, you actually increase the odds of your content breaking through. So, instead of writing a post titled “7 Secrets to Get Your Blog Posts Shared” you would hyper-target the post so that it reads “7 Secrets Every Accountant Should Know to Get Their Blog Post Shared.” By hyper-targeting, you actually increase the odds of breaking through.
  • Take a contrarian viewpoint: If everybody is saying one thing, then you can stand out by taking the opposite point of view. For example, if everybody is writing posts about what a great CEO Steve Jobs was, then you should write a post saying, “Why Steve Jobs Was One of the Worst CEOs of All Time.” That approach can help you break through.
  • Use paid ads to promote: Most businesses have been led to believe that they can break through the clutter by promoting their posts organically. While that’s still true in some cases, more and more businesses are realizing that they have to pay in order to expand their visibility. (We can thank Facebook for that trend.) Don’t be afraid to use paid ads to promote your best and most viral posts.


5. Measuring effectiveness (32.9%)


Daniel Brzeziński – COO at GetResponse

Adapting new marketing technology is never an easy process. Especially when it’s meant to be used by different teams who have their own long-term objectives and KPIs. You can see it very clearly in the case of marketing automation, which – among many things – is meant to break down the silos built by sales and marketing departments.

Seeing the results from our study, it’s not a surprise that budget is the top challenge marketers face when they first adopt marketing automation in their companies. It’s directly linked to the other challenges mentioned, notably to the problem of measuring results.

Teams responsible for running marketing automation campaigns need to figure out the shared criteria for measuring their effectiveness. They need to find a common ground and understand each other’s objectives. Measuring campaign performance by the number of generated leads may be sufficient for the marketing team, but understandably, it won’t be good enough for the sales department.

Gather your team, get them to sit down and list all the essential metrics and requirements for reaching their objectives. Be clear about what makes a marketing-qualified and sales-accepted lead, and be open to re-evaluating this after some time. Plan your campaigns, always having the lead acquisition cost in front of you, along with the CLV you get from each of them.

Then getting the buy-in from your CMO or securing a budget should no longer be a challenge.


Where to start

Regardless of whether you still haven’t decided if marketing automation is the right fit for you or you’re already thinking of what you’ll do with all that extra time and resources, you’ll want to come prepared when the time’s right to launch it in your company.

So before you jump right in and hope for the best, take a moment to get familiar with these best tips for getting started with marketing automation, and learn how to measure the ROI of your automated campaigns.

Good luck with your campaigns!


adapting marketing automation

The post Adopting Marketing Automation: Key Challenges and Solutions appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

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Rachael Ray Is Selling Her Southampton Home for $4.9M

Photo: Shutterstock

Celebrity cook Rachael Ray and her producer husband, John Cusimano, are ready for new digs after being longtime owners in the Hamptons. The couple paid $2.1 million for their 3-bed, 5-bath Southampton estate in 2008.

Nearly a decade later, they are asking $4.9 million for the home, which was renovated during their ownership. In addition to being located in an exclusive Long Island zip code, the home sits adjacent to the Southampton Golf Club.

The 3,000-square-foot pad feels airy thanks to a white and beige color scheme throughout the home.

Unsurprisingly, a kitchen designed for both functionality and entertaining awaits the future owner. Guests can sit on a conveniently placed window seat in the middle of the wraparound counters while the cook selects a bottle of wine from the island’s built-in wine rack.

Photos courtesy of Brown Harris Stevens

The backyard is also designed for entertaining, with well-maintained gardens, a blue stone patio and an enormous gunite pool. Also located on the 6+ acre lot is a pool house that boasts additional rooms for sleeping, living and entertaining – including a second kitchen.


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