Web Tip – B2B personalization in action

Did you miss our recent webinar with Episerver, Getting B2B Personalization Right: A Buyer-First Blueprint? (We embedded the video below, so you don’t miss a thing.)

B2B-Personalization-Delights-CustomersWe’re just OBSESSED with personalization. We admit it – we’re head over heels for the stuff.

Whereoware has been in the personalization business for more than 10 years, long before it became a trendy buzzword. We’ve proven how personalization can help resolve brands two biggest challenges: making customers happy, so they’re forever brand loyal; making business operations more transparent, consistent, and effective.

Today, we recap why we’re pretty much addicted to making B2B business more personal and relevant.

About B2B Personalization

“Personalization” simply means collecting everything you know about your business (a customers’ actions on your website, a sales reps’ actions in the field, how your audience interacts with your email, etc.) and letting this data tell you what strategic changes to make or targeted promotions to create.

Every brand has preconceptions about their business and reasons they operate the way they do. Personalization cuts through the “what we think we know” preconceptions into the concrete story your data is telling you.

What does personalization look like?

B2B personalization might be hard to picture. Here are three examples:

You see customers start your five-step checkout process, but don’t complete it. Many keep stopping at step 4: complete their address. You update your checkout process to be three simple steps with a visual indicator showing customers where they are in the process (so customers know what to expect and are less likely to get frustrated ). You personalize the process by pre-populating address information, so the contact can breeze through this step. Your website data told you where customers were getting stuck, so you could fix it. Pre-populating the address makes the checkout process quicker and easier, so fewer customers drop off.

You work for a software company and see that Prospect A downloaded a white paper about your newest software. You email him a complimentary FAQ sheet about the software. When he visits your website a second time, the hero image offers him a free, no-pressure demo of the exact software he browsed (but everyone else sees a default software). Again, your website data told you which white paper the contact downloaded, so you could offer an additional relevant asset, enhance his experience, and guide him towards a demo.

Sound like a bunch of witchcraft to you? Our client Sullivans, a B2B wholesaler, knew based on their data that retailers were only shopping from one product line, not all three.
Instead of emailing their whole database with the same promotion, they grouped their retailers into three, product-based buckets (called personas) – Everyday Items, Artist Collections, or Seasonal Products. By segmenting their audience into personas, Sullivans now sends relevant, targeted emails showcasing the products recipients want, and their website is also personalized to display persona-based content and imagery to each visitor.

Sullivans_personalized_homepage

B2B personalization makes shopping easier

B2B personalization aims to make the interactions between businesses more seamless and efficient.

For example, our client Mud Pie’s B2B website caters to busy retailers stocking their stores. In addition to an entirely personalized website that displays imagery and content to suit each website visitor’s product interests (similar to Sullivans’ website. Read about their product-based personalization here), Mud Pie wanted their Retailer Portal to be more personal and relevant for each retailer.

Personalized Retailer Dashboard Mud Pie

Their new Retailer Portal gives retailers access to past orders, account information, resources, and customer service from one intuitive dashboard. Mud Pie leverages order and browse activity data and their site’s recommendation engine to suggest Frequently Purchased Products, Top Selling Products, and Recommended Products that suit each retailer’s needs. Quick Inventory Lookup lets retailers look up items by the SKU number, and they can even create and send customized product wish lists and presentations.

By giving busy retailers simple and effective tools tailored to their unique stores, they’re more likely to make Mud Pie their one-stop-shop to fulfill all their inventory needs.

B2B Personalization is better business

Personalization uses behavioral data to interpret how to enhance customers’ experience with your brand. Subsidizing a business’s big picture goals with granular data offers real-time insights cemented in reality (not preconceptions). It tells businesses how to better target customers with the right product or asset they’re seeking, suggests creative promotions more likely to boost conversions, and also helps businesses pinpoint operational waste and inefficiencies.

Want to talk about getting more personal with customers? We’re here if you need us – gabbing endlessly about why personalization is a better way to do business. (Also, don’t miss the webinar video below)

Getting B2B Personalization Right – A Retailer-First Blueprint

Email Tip – Colonial Candle April Fool’s Day Campaign

Brands send a flurry of emails leading up to important shopping holidays like Black Friday, Christmas, and New Year’s, but there are so many under-celebrated holidays throughout the year. Sometimes, brands’ offbeat holiday promotions make an even greater impact, because they face far less inbox competition than on larger holidays.

April Fool’s Day is one overlooked holiday that allows brands to step out of their comfort zone + engage customers in ways that would NEVER fly any other day of the year. (Did you see what we did?)

Our client Colonial Candle took a creative approach to their April Fool’s Day promotion. See how it paid off big time.

Colonial CandleWho:

Colonial Candle is a B2B+ B2C retailer of candles + candle accessories.

Challenge:

Colonial Candle wanted to celebrate April Fool’s Day without being gimmicky. They intended to intrigue customers with different creative than their typical email designs and drive them to the website to ultimately convert.

Solution:

Colonial Candle Email > WebsiteColonial Candle created an April Fool’s Day email campaign announcing their new product – the world’s tallest candle.

The email’s subject line: We have breaking news!! + snippet text: Find Out what we’ve done, click “shop now”! convinced customers to open the email. The mobile-friendly email template ensured a seamless experience for users across multiple devices.

When customers landed on the website, the special April Fool’s promotion was revealed – “We’re going wild with our largest sale EVER.”  Customers used the promo code: FOOLEDYA16 to get 55% off all full priced candles, a higher discount than most of their typical promotions.

Results:

Compared with their recent March Madness 40% off promotion, Colonial Candle saw amazing results with the April Fool’s Day campaign:

  • 150% increase in Revenue
  • 123% increase in website sessions

The PPC + Facebook ads run for April Fool’s also saw high returns.

Takeaway:

Customers are on the lookout on April Fool’s Day to see if their favorite brands will try to trick them. Colonial Candle’s playful “largest candle” hoax drove customers to the website, but the fantastic offer convinced them to purchase.

Start thinking about your plan for next year’s April 1 (and other ignored holidays), + you could see “wild” results like Colonial Candle.

April Fool’s Day Winner Announced!

Our April Fool’s Day prank was a great success! Thank you to everyone who checked out our redesigned website and took part in the fun. We not only met our visitor goal, but exceeded it, and we couldn’t have done it without you!

(No idea what we’re talking about? Check out our post from last week.)

We’re happy to announce our April Fool’s winner is…..

Jacolyn Gleason! Jacolyn nominated The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to receive Whereoware’s $2,000 donation ($5 for every visitor to our prank homepage).

Winner - Jacolyn Gleason“Thank you Whereoware for using April Fool’s Day as a platform to do good, and thank you for allowing me to not only be a participant, but to humbly win such a generous donation for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.”

“The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is very dear to my heart. Two of my uncle’s, who I grew up with as my brothers, passed away from the disease.

For my family, part of keeping their memory alive is continuing in the fight to find a cure. Since their passing, now decades ago, there have been significant advancements in treatment, life expectancy, etc. This is due not only to the hope and strength of those suffering and their families who support them, but through the help of donations like this.

I am humbled to accept this donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I would like to dedicate Whereoware’s donation to my Uncle Owen and my Uncle Robert, and anyone else who is affected by the condition.”

Thank you Jacolyn for playing along with our April Fool’s Day prank, and we are honored to make this donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

 

 

Behind the Glasses – Lauren

behind the glasses - laurenEach month, we interview one of our fab employees here at Whereoware. For April, we get to know Lauren, our Account Manager, a little better.

WHO:

What’s your name? Lauren Bobby

Job title: Account Manager

BACKGROUND:

Favorite food: Pizza
Hidden talent: Lip syncing
If there were a movie of my life, I’d be played by: Kristin Wiig
One item you would bring to a desert island and why: Old Bay – I’d eat a lot of fish on a deserted island.
In a zombie apocalypse, my weapon of choice would be: Spiderman’s web-shooters, because it’s a quick + scrappy way to trap someone and escape by swinging away.

NERD QUIZ:

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook
iOS or Android: iOS
‘Nerd’ or ‘Geek’: Nerd
Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Wars

What’s the best part about working at Whereoware?

Everyone is so creative here.  It’s really inspiring to see how everyone is so passionate about their job.  I could tell Whereoware was the right fit from the first day I stepped into the office.  I’m really excited to be a part of the team.  I look forward to kickin’ it with everyone on the rooftop at some point!

Email tip – welcome emails start relationships right

When prospects engage with your brand, are you just leaving them hanging? Let’s change that!

Instead, when a prospect interacts (by signing up for your email list or downloading a case study, for example), show them how much you value their attention by sending them a friendly + helpful  Welcome email.

A timely Welcome email tells recipients you are excited to start a relationship. They’re well worth the effort – Welcome emails typically see higher engagement than other emails, because the prospect has shown they’re interested + are open to hearing from you in the future.

Ready to show your audience you adore them by sending an excellent Welcome email? Get our Welcome Emails case study to see proven tactics and real-life examples of getting the customer relationship started on the right foot.

Welcome Email

 

Web tip – April Fool’s Day Hits

We admit it – we’re a bunch of giant kids, but we totally geek out on April Fool’s Day. For generations, this underrated holiday encouraged outright lies between loved ones, mayonnaise and toothpaste replacements in cream filling, saran wrapped toilet seats, rubber-banded faucets, and endless other hoaxes and hijinks.

Today, we applaud big- and small-name brands who get into the holiday spirit, and try their hands pranking beloved customers. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites.

(In case you missed our April Fool’s prank –  Check out Whereoware’s “redesigned homepage”– #comicsans4life! We redirected our homepage to our “redesign” and asked for feedback on our new look. Everyone who submitted feedback was entered into a raffle to win a gift card for themselves and $2,000 for the charity of their choice. The promotion ended at COB April 1.)

April Fool’s Day emails + landing pages we love

With their nonstop sales, free shipping, and Kohl’s Cash, Kohl’s is the destination for crazy deals you can brag about to your friends. Well, the endless deals came to an abrupt stop last April 1st. (We love the GIF. Click to see the full email).

Kohl's April Fool's Day

Between the breathy whispers and sweaty athletic bodies, this video looks like any other fitness-related Instagram ad. It’s only when Reebok reveals their newest fragrance, Swet, that we sense something’s not quite right here.

We love a good gym sess, but we’re not ready to rock the sweat smell all day long.

Sometimes, April Fool’s Day brings us fake products we kind of wish were real!

Although Target’s FannyBasket brings back night terrors of our grandma’s favorite neon accessory, we don’t hate the idea of searching Target’s shelves hands-free with a Frappucino and phablet close by. Target went all in on this April Fool’s Day product prank with a serious-sounding product video focused on utility and mobility, while still hammering home their commitment to innovating customers’ retail experience.


All we’re saying is we’re happy to rock a basket evenly across the hips, maybe even sidesaddle.

We love beer just about any day of the week, and April Fool’s Day is no exception.

Blue Moon had a #brewingbreakthrough last April Fool’s Day to give their beer’s beloved sidekick – an orange – a starring role. They tweeted, “We worked with renowned fruiticulturists to invent the world’s first beer infused oranges.”

Blue Moon's April Fool's Day Tweet

We know a few people willing to adding this particular orange to their healthy diets.

Pizza Hut teams with brewmasters to take advantage of beer being an indisputable crowd favorite with their very own pizza-flavored Pepperoni Pilsner! No one in the video cracks a smile or gives away the joke, causing us to a pause on whether its a hoax. (We might be willing to be guinea pigs!)

Next up, three of our favorite elements join forces: Groupon, Uber, and… cats! Grouber helps us redeem our favorite Groupon deals fast, with a fleet of feline drivers to get us there.

The Grouber landing page is chock full of puns and wordplay on their typical services – you can even add Feline Feedback to rate your Grouber driver. None of the CTA’s are functional except the initial “get the app,” which links to the Groupon app.


The Purrtinent Answers Within (P.A.W) section of the landing page answers all of our burning questions right meow, like, why cats were chosen over dogs (they chase the red lasers beaming from the front of the car, navigating the trip. Their laser diligence makes them more safe and skilled drivers.) Also, can we tip with catnip (only in Colorado and Washington).

Now, for an April Fool’s Day #tbt. Codeschool offers interactive programming courses and coding challenges to help advance our coding skills. They debuted an exciting new course on April 1, 2014: Try Flux, an introduction to the foundation for time travel. The email is simple with a large CTA to Play Now and the landing page keeps the gag going.

CodeSchool's April Fool's Day 2014
They’re not really sure time travel is possible, but if the risk is simply destroying all known existence in a swirling unrelenting inferno, why not give it a go?

Keep the April Fool’s Day gags coming

Our April Fool’s Day examples show brands can get extremely clever to fool their audience, while staying true to their mission statements.  The promotional quality is outstanding, while the promises are hard to believe. We can’t wait to see what this  year brings!

If you see a great April Fool’s Day email, social share, or website update, please send it our way, and we’ll gladly add it to our roundup!

PPC Tip – Goodbye Sidebar: New Google Ad Layout

Zoe - Search ManagerThis week, we welcome a guest post from our Search Manager, Zoe Zhang. Zoe is a PPC + SEO whiz and keeps us up-to-date with the latest + greatest in Search Marketing.

So What’s Changed in Search Marketing?

When performing Google searches recently, have you noticed the page looks a little cleaner + less cluttered? Google debuted a new ad layout at the end of February, eliminating the right side panel text advertisements – this space is now reserved for Google Product Listing Ads.

You will now see that four ads have been added to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) + up to three at the bottom of the SERP, for a total maximum ad count of just seven ads (compared to 11 previously).

New Google Ad Layout

Bottom SERP Ads

This new layout is commonly seen in what Google is calling “highly commercial queries,” or searches expected to garner a high intent to purchase. Some examples are: wedding dress, used car, proposal writing services, + puppy adoption.

Now, depending on the search, you might see Google Shopping Ads in the right side panel. These ads differ from the normal Google text ads. They feature a product image, fed through Google Merchant Center.

Google Shopping Ads

How Does Google’s Change Impact Marketers?

Less real estate for text-based Google Ads (seven ad spots down from the old 11 ad spots), means more competitive bidding for top-of-page ad locations. Simple supply and demand.

Top-of-page ads are more apt to drive up CPCs (Cost per Clicks) than bottom-of-page ads, due to users usually clicking on the first ad or organic search result they see and not scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Are you currently thinking: “Why would Google do this to me?”

According to Google, “[the new] layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”

There is a potential for higher click through rates + better conversions for the ads that get the top 4 ad positions, because competitors’ ads get bumped to the bottom of the SERP. In some cases, organic search results are not listed above the fold (the point when you need to scroll to see more content), which will lead to potentially higher click through rates for paid ads (the first results searchers will see).

Unfortunately, more focused results for users comes at a higher price tag for advertisers, thus hurting those with smaller PPC budgets + resources. Additionally, how you present your text-based ad matters more than ever, with fewer opportunities to get noticed by the customer.

So What?

Evaluate where your ads are stacking up in highly commercial queries. As the new format takes hold, you will probably notice your spend going up and your impressions going down. You will need to reevaluate campaign ROI and make adjustments. Try getting creative with new campaign ideas and longer tail keywords.

I warned you! Keep a close eye on your campaigns with this new Google ad layout.

Behind the Glasses – Chris

Each month, we interview one of our fab employees here at Whereoware. For March, we get to know Chris, our Online Marketing Manager, a little better.

Chris GrougeWHO:

What’s your name? Chris Grouge
Job title: Online Marketing Manager

BACKGROUND:

Favorite food: Any kind of breakfast food.
Hidden talent: The amount of food I can consume in one sitting.
If there were a movie of my life, I’d be played by: Chris Hemsworth
One item you would bring to a desert island and why: Sunscreen. I have fair skin and would love to vacation on the beach.
In a zombie apocalypse, my weapon of choice would be: Crossbow, because Daryl Dixon is my spirit animal.

NERD QUIZ:

Facebook or Twitter: Twitter. Sometimes all you need is 140 characters to get your point across.
iOS or Android: iOS
‘Nerd’ or ‘Geek’: Geek
Star Wars or Star Trek? Star Lord.

What’s the best part about working at Whereoware?

Being surround by people who genuinely love what they do. I knew Whereoware was the right fit for me, because I could see how passionate and motivated everyone is to create something totally unique and awesome. Going the extra mile for clients is nothing rare around here. We work hard and have fun doing it.

Web Tip – 6 Tips for Writing for the Web

Alyson Hunter Whereoware's Internal Marketing ManagerToday, we hear firsthand from one of the voices behind-the-blog: Internal Marketing Manager Alyson Hunter. Alyson is responsible for our content marketing strategy and writes our blog, case studies, newsletters, website copy, and other content pieces. 

Writing for the web means short attention spans and heavy competition.

Typically, your audience is scanning articles and deciding within seconds whether it’s worth their time to keep reading. Meanwhile, a video of a cat wearing a shark costume, while riding a Roomba and chasing a duckling is competing for their attention.

Can you rival a cat riding a Roomba? I can’t!

Cat on Roomba
Whether you’re writing a blog post or updating website copy, writing for an online audience takes different finesse than writing for print. Ignore what your ninth grade English teacher told you (well, some of it), and try out my 6 tips for writing for the web.

Be human and focus on your customer

Lesson number one: be human, aka, write in everyday language. (This is where we depart from ninth grade English. Hate to say it, but Shakespeare would receive no love online.)

A reader finds your content because they’re searching for something they need or want. Whether they’re seeking entertainment, education, or to reward themselves with a new buy, ultimately they’re thinking about themselves, not about you.

Write content that answers your audiences’ burning questions or simplifies a complex subject. Don’t use a long or uncommon words when a simple word suffices.

Impart wisdom or witticism around a subject, and get there fast, before you bore your audience to tears. Capture their attention in the first paragraph and follow with clear objectives, a thoughtful layout of ideas, and interesting visuals.

Write about topics that stay relevant

Write timely content, but also pieces that never go out of style. You’ll learn to love “evergreen” content, because it consistently drives traffic to your site long after you hit “publish”.

For example, in 2011, we published “Google Analytics: Direct vs. Search Engine vs. Referral Traffic” on Whereoware’s blog. This post defines different types of traffic sources found in Google Analytics. If you’ve worked in Google Analytics before, you know it can be overwhelming to learn, and it doesn’t help that Google often changes their algorithm and terminology.

In this last week alone, 16% of our organic traffic landed on this blog post. It ranks as one of our most highly read blog posts year after year, and it was published way back in 2011.

Our Google Analytics post isn’t especially popular because we spent a lot of time or money promoting it. Instead, it drives tons of traffic because visitors search for an easy-to-follow explanation of search terms and definitions. They need answers, and we provide relevant content.

Buzzwords torpedo writing

Get rid of nonsense words! If your website is peppered with words like, “top of the line,” “best-in-class,” or “mission-critical,” your readers’ eyes are glazing over.

Remove industry buzzwords and instead find descriptive words or metrics demonstrating the true business solution or problem your service addresses. (Unless you’re solution truly is mission-critical. If so, have at it).

Get a cheerleading squad

You beat the competition. You’re faster, cheaper, and award-winning.

Like your drunken uncle who won’t stop talking about his glory days, boasting about accomplishments diminishes your credibility.

Instead, let your customers brag for you. Customer testimonials or customer reviews are very effective at influencing buyer behavior, because they’re deemed trustworthy and reliable.

For example, Sandals’ testimonial page promotes Sandals resorts as an excellent vacation destination, without Sandals saying so. Seeing real customers enjoyed their stay will make prospects feel comfortable booking a trip.

Sandals customer testimonialsSimilarly, adding a quality seal to your website, like the Norton Shopping Guarantee on our B2B + B2C e-commerce client Mud Pie’s website assures customers Mud Pie is a reputable company with a safe and secure checkout.

Norton Seal Mud Pie

Highlighting awards in a subtle way achieves the same goal. It proves you aren’t the only one who thinks your company outperforms the competition, a judging panel agreed!

Save your words for conveying important points and principles, and then let your cheerleading squad show how you rock.

Break up text with visuals

Online audiences are looking for a quick fix. Keep your content short whenever possible. Break up ideas into shorter paragraphs. Use bullets to call out key points. Bold important words and headlines.

Expect your audience to only scan your article (remember, cat riding Roomba). Visual cues make it easy for scanners to grasp your main points, whether they read your post in entirety or not.

Edit

Here’s where your English teacher had a point. No one wants to read content riddled with errors. If anything, error-leaden writing immediately destroys your credibility.

Spellcheck your content before posting (both text AND graphics). Check your verb tense is consistent and doesn’t switch back and forth. Delete sentences that don’t impart value or information. Replace buzzwords with meaningful descriptions.

A few extra edits I perform with every post:

1. Use Word’s Find and Replace function to highlight “the” and also “that.” These words are overused, frequently unnecessary, and slowdown a reader’s progression.

For example, if the sentence is, “I like writing that compels readers.” Can the sentence standalone if I remove “that”? Nope, “I like writing compels reader” is incorrect. The sentence “Use testimonials to prove that your products are valuable,” on the other hand, can be rewritten to “use testimonials to prove your products are valuable” without changing the sentence’s meaning.

2.  While you’re at it, use Find and Replace to highlight adverbs, like “quickly” or “efficiently,” and delete them if they aren’t necessary. Even better? Swap them out for better words. Change “quickly ran” to “fled” or “yelled loudly” to “shouted.”

3.  Whenever possible, ask someone else to read your piece. An objective proofreader will help you identify mistakes, clarify ambiguous statements, and delete superfluous content.

Takeaways

Your writing is only effective if your audience understands it. They’ll only take action, like following up with you or revisiting your website, if you grab their attention and get your point across. Remember, you’re competing with every writer, sensational news story, and puppy video on the web.

Whereoware is a finalist in the Helios Apollo Awards

Chantilly, VA – March 4, 2016 – Whereoware announced today that it has been named a finalist of the 10th Annual Helios Apollo Awards.

Whereoware is one of 33 finalists and was selected in both the Community Outreach and Innovative Technology categories. The Apollo Awards, presented by the Helios HR, honors human capital excellence in talent development.

The awards are open to all employers, regardless of size or industry, with a location in Greater Washington. Out of the 250 nominations received, the honorees were selected by a panel of judges independent of Helios HR, comprised of industry experts, Chief Human Resource Officers and former Apollo Award Winners.

Whereoware is a digital agency with over 16 years of experience building awesome personalized websites, developing intuitive mobile applications, creating award-winning emails, and getting huge results with data integrations. Headquartered in Chantilly, Va., Whereoware’s clients span industries across the nation.

“Whereoware has set the standard in building a culture of intention by focusing on the growth and development of their people,” said Kathy Albarado, CEO of Helios HR and Founder of The Apollo Awards. “This award recognizes the progression, creativity, and vision of our finalists in addressing the talent challenges employers face today.”

“We’re honored to be named a Helios finalist in both the Community Outreach and Innovative Technology categories,” said Teya Tuccio-Flick, Partner, Marketing. “We’re committed to supporting our community and giving employees the flexibility to champion their own charitable causes whenever possible. We’re also all about pushing the status quo and finding creative, cost-effective ways to use digital channels to enhance and advance our clients’ businesses. It’s a fun, innovative company culture.”

Whereoware will be honored at the high energy, Apollo Awards breakfast ceremony on Wednesday, June 1st at Hyatt Regency Reston, where category winners will also be announced.

To register for the ceremony or view the full list of honorees, visit www.helioshr.com/apollo-awards.