Make Me Care: The Power of the Story


By Sue Brady


If I asked you to click on one of the three ‘first sentences’ below, which one would you choose?

“It was just a faint glimmer really, so faint that I wasn’t sure I’d actually seen anything unusual. Very slowly I started to push the door open.”

“The weather was perfect, we had a full picnic basket, and the children were happy. What could possibly go wrong?”

“After effectively running my first webinar, I decided to give SlideShare a try.”

I’m guessing your choice would not be the third option. Why? Because everyone loves to read a good story. If it’s interesting/engaging/compelling, people will read it.

But sometimes, you might say, it’s hard to tell a story when I’m just trying to sell a widget. And that’s where you’d be wrong. Let’s say I had to sell Internet service (something I did for several years!). I could take this approach:

“Internet Service XYZ lets you connect to the Internet and enjoy faster upload and download speeds. Our unique service uses nano-technology to allow you to stay connected while enjoying the fastest speeds available. You can look at pictures, connect with your friends and shop online from the privacy of your home! We’ll even provide you with 5 email addresses and 10 gigabytes of storage.”

Or, I could use this one: “Sally Jones won the science fair contest four years in a row. She showed how photosynthesis worked, studied the impact to plants of clay in the soil, evaluated projectile speed as related to the arc of a trebuchet and studied the effect of salt on wood. When Sally grew up, she created a line of children’s science games. As a 100% online business, her Internet connection was her lifeline and eventually helped her earn her first million dollars. We are so proud that xyz company played a part in Sally’s success. How did we help? …”

See what I did there? Rather than telling you about what my product does, I showed you what it does by relating a story that showed how it’s used.

As a marketer, it’s your job to tell your story. As with all content marketing, the trick is to make it interesting, relevant to your audience, and engaging. Tweet that! You want them to read what you’ve written, and perhaps come back for more as they proceed through their buying cycle.

Gini Dietrich, founder of her own communications firm and author of the SpinSucks blog, is really good at storytelling and provides some great tips on how to write a great story here. She talks about the five essential parts of a good story: Passion, the Protagonist, the Antagonist, the Revelation, the Transformation. She explains how you can tie those pieces together to create your own brand’s story. It’s a great guide for you as you try to start writing stories your audience will want to read.

You can find many other lists on the Internet of the components that make a good story. The good news is, they’re all similar:

  • Know what you want to convey
  • Use your own experiences (or that of your customers)
  • Have a problem
  • Have a hero
  • Resolve the problem

Famous filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Toy Story) did a Ted Talk on storytelling a couple of years ago. One of his key takeaways was the importance of “making me care.” If your audience doesn’t care, they won’t listen to your story. Set aside 20 minutes and give this a watch. And then I challenge you to tell a story for your next marketing campaign.

It was a dark and stormy night…

More stories!

ROI From Social Media? Is that Possible?


By Sue Brady


ROI is a key performance indicator (KPI) that most marketers hold near and dear. Why? Because most brands use marketing to generate product/service sales. And typically, a marketer will spend fully in the most efficient resource before allocating funds to the next channel. I know what you’re thinking: My campaign wasn’t about sales, it was about ‘likes’ on Facebook. And to that I would ask: Why did you want likes? And you would say: To get sales! So there you go.

The standard definition of Return on Investment, or ROI, is ‘dollars made’ minus cost divided by cost:


$$s generated – investment (to generate those $$s)

Basically, what did you get for what you spent, and was it worth it?

For social media this is admittedly a difficult task. It’s hard to track the steps involved that moved your customer to the final click. But it’s not impossible. I wrote this post last year on attribution, and the field is ever changing. Earlier this year, Google bought an attribution company called Adometry and they’re now happy to help you determine what steps your customer took in their buying journey.

Attribution modeling is probably the trickiest part of figuring out your social media ROI, but it’s really important. Let’s say someone saw your ad while they were on Facebook and clicked. They read your landing page but decided they weren’t ready to buy. The next day they saw a tweet that you or a fan posted and clicked on that to continue with their research. But they still weren’t ready to buy. Then perhaps they saw an email from you, they clicked and made a purchase. Attribution companies can tag each of those touches so that they can tie them together. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than giving all of the revenue attribution to the email campaign.

To figure out what your social media is worth, you’ll want to track the purchase behavior from those who ‘liked’ your page, the click/purchase behavior from those who clicked through on your tweeted link, buying behavior from those who watched your YouTube video, and any other action you have prompted. As you can see, it’s much more complicated than figuring out your ROI on that last direct mail piece you sent. And speaking of direct mail, that can also impact your social ROI, along with TV advertising, radio etc. etc. etc. Some things you’ll be able to directly track, and some things you won’t.

Story: I used to work for a company that ran a lot of TV advertising, and also sent steady direct mail. Over time it was clear, even to management, that if we had to scale back the TV, the direct mail rates would suffer. So we were eventually able to establish how much the ‘halo’ of TV was worth. It improved the ROI of our TV ad campaign.

Your first step is to figure out what you hope to gain from your social media, and then make sure you can measure and track it. Do this by tagging your media, making sure your coupons offered via Facebook are coded, tracking all clicks from that consumer and having analytics in place.

And even though I said at the beginning of this article that it’s all about revenue, I realize that sometimes your content really is not about that. If that’s the case, know what the goal of your content is to determine if you’re achieving what you wanted to achieve. This might be engagement via answers to posed questions, or it may be shares…or in fact, it may be revenue.

“The Customer is Always Right”


By Sue Brady


“The customer is always rigCustomer is Kinght.” This slogan has been attributed to a few different people over time, but the crowd favorite seems to be Harry Gordon Selfridge, Founder of Selfridges, a store Harry opened in 1909 in England. Somewhere along the way, marketers and brands moved away from the meaning behind this way of thinking…until now.

The ‘refreshed’ phrase that I’ve been hearing a lot more over the past several months is Customer Obsession. Why the resurgence? My opinion is that it has everything to do with social media. In today’s world, if you serve your customers well, they’ll talk about it… a lot. They’ll share their experience on Facebook or Twitter, or they’ll share their opinion when someone posts: ‘Buying a car, running shoes, adopting a pet. Can anyone recommend a dealer, shop, adoption agency?’

Being customer obsessed is how it should be, now more than ever. It seems so obvious: Grow your business by listening to your customers and providing them with what they are asking for.

There are multiple advantages to getting in line with this way of thinking:

You’ll become more in tune with your customers

Being more in tune with your customers means you’ll develop products that your customers want, you’ll modify existing products to better meet unfilled needs, you’ll be able to head off potential disasters. This means you really have to listen to what your customers are saying. Listen in your call centers, listen in social media, listen to your sales team.

You’ll create customer advocates

Customer advocates = social proof. Tweet that! Social proof is the best kind of advertising there is. Consumers care about the opinions of their friends and colleagues. And, reviews from others sway the decision to buy. It’s a proven fact. In a Dimensional Research study conducted last year of consumers who read online reviews about local businesses before purchasing, 90% were influenced by positive reviews and 86% were swayed by negative reviews. The survey also revealed that positive reviews are most often seen on Facebook (44%). Social media matters.

Customer advocates can help you generate new business. This is different from social proof, though closely related. Customer advocacy refers to proactively engaging with your customers to create advocates and letting them help you sell. Here’s an example of how that works. I went to a marketing seminar a couple of months ago that was put on by Oracle. I knew there would be a sales element to it, but several of the sessions sounded so interesting, I wanted to go anyway. The speakers were senior marketers at their companies, and they all used at least one Oracle product to make their efforts successful. And the sessions were informative. The speakers were all Oracle customer advocates. They loved the Oracle tools that they used and in a broader marketing sense, they freely discussed how these tools made their lives easier, improved their marketing programs, generated more sales etc. etc. etc.

And once you have a group of customer advocates, you can make them feel special by asking them to speak at a seminar, asking for feedback on your planned marketing campaign or feedback on the latest product enhancement. People love giving their opinions, so let your advocates tell you what they think!

A Story. I once worked for a company that produced printed airline flight schedules. This was in the age of the dinosaurs, when the Internet was not mainstream. There were some really smart people who worked there who designed a sort of real-time version of the product. It was DOS-based and pretty cool. You could use it to look up flight schedules online! The problem was, travelers weren’t ready to get their information in that way. It had been worth a shot, but the product was shelved. And here’s where that company went wrong. They didn’t listen to their customers when Windows became a thing and the Internet started growing and becoming more available. They missed the signs because they were product focused and not customer obsessed (and I take partial responsibility since I was in Marketing). And only a couple of years later, Expedia and Travelocity were born and became hugely successful practically overnight.# 1

There’s a lot to this customer obsession idea.

Do you make your customers #1?


Don’t Read this Post…Unless you Want to Write Better Copy


By Sue Brady

Brain Last week I attended my first Content Jam. This gathering of content professionals features a wide variety of super smart speakers who want the attendees to be better at what they do. Content Jam 2014 was hosted by a handful of B Corps: StoryStudioChicago, Orbit Media and Mightybytes. Here are the notable tidbits I picked up during my day of learning:

Brian Burkhart on Beliefs and Writing Engaging Copy @BrianSaysBeBold

  • Find those who believe what you believe
  • You can’t give what you don’t have
  • If you believe in something, others will believe in it too
  • Let others know what you stand for. Make it about them. Talk about price after that.

Russ Henneberry on creating a Lead Magnet (by offering white papers, cheat sheets, tool kits, check lists, resource lists) @RussHenneberry

  • Rather than an ebook, find the sliver – the one important thing that your prospects want
  • A lead magnet has value, solves a specific problem with a specific solution
  • On your lead form, don’t ask for information you don’t need. Usually an email address will suffice.
  • You can give some content for nothing in return. But be sure to include the ‘next installment’ tease – only available once the reader gives up an email address.
  • Surveys and quizzes are great for interactions. To see the results, the user has to give up their email address.
  • Speed of delivery of information is key – how long does it take for the user to get the content
  • Speed of consumption is key – how long will it take the user to read the content. Give them the sliver!
  • If you write a blog, make sure you include a visible email opt in to get folks to come back
  • Use paid ads to drive traffic to your lead magnet offer

James Ellis on Measurement and Analytics @saltlab

  • Use Google Analytics carefully. Overall campaign averages are not important. Averages for your specific segments are way more valuable. For instance, looking at the overall ‘time on site’ metric means little. But comparing ‘time on site’ for visitors that came from Facebook vs Twitter will give you really useful information.
  • You want to know where the ‘stayers’ (users who stayed on your site) and buyers came from – figure out what they read that made them stay and buy
  • Use the Google URL Builder to help you understand which URL a user came from.

Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media on Brain Science and Web Marketing @crestodina

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  • Use Social Proof! “When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other” – Eric Hoffer, writer 1902- 1983
  • Get influencer endorsements
  • ‘Trust Seals’ make a difference for online purchases, but some are more important than others. Check out this blog post (spoiler alert: Norton was most highly valued by users).
  • Don’t put your testimonials on a testimonials page! Make them a part of all of your website pages.
  • Test results showed that ‘calls to action’ that included social proof received more clicks. Example:
    Join the 75,000 people who read this newsletter vs Sign up to receive this newsletter
    The one with social proof will always win!
  • How can you offer social proof?
    • Testimonials
    • Endorsements
    • Social shares
    • # of happy customers
    • Product/service reviews
  • Only 1 thing can be the most important thing on a web page
  • Readers have higher attention and retention for items at the beginning and end of lists. Argh, this ended up in the middle of my list!
  • Write your content at an 8th grade level, even if your audience is filled with PHDs. This is supported by studies!
  • Make your blog posts scannable by using bolding, subheads, internal linking, copy chunking, bullets.
  • Picture choice, color choice, and orientation of faces matter. Posts with pictures of brains have higher trust value, red attracts attention, an image of a person looking a certain direction will draw the reader’s eye in that same direction.
  • Baskerville font is the most credible font on the Internet. Comic Sans is least credible.

Heidi Cohen on Content Creation and Curation @heidcohen

Curated content is content gathered from other sources.

  • Curated content must be fully credited. You must add some of your own editorial to the front and make sure it’s clear when you show content that’s from someone else.
  • Provide editorial value with a human touch to content you curate. Add your own photo.
  • Only 1 in 5 people will read beyond your headline
  • 51% of your readers will come from a great headline, 5% will come from social sources
  • If you seek out material from influencers, make it easy for them to answer your questions.

Gini Dietrich, Founder of Spin Sucks on Truth in Content @ginidietrich
Spin Sucks

  • As a content marketer, make sure you have verified your facts and give attribution where it’s due.
  • Don’t gift people to write positive reviews for you. It’s illegal!
  • Don’t publish lies and don’t do bad things!

Great way to end a great day!





1st Position is Still the Best Place to Be in Google Search


By Sue Brady


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Seasons change, fashions change, sports go in and out of season. Change is a part of life. Except when it comes to the value of buying branded terms in search and landing in the top position. Almost a year ago I wrote a post about why it’s important to buy your own branded marketing terms.Today I read an article in MarketingProfs by Ayaz Nanji  that talked about the value of being in first place in Google ad listings based on a new study by Marin Software. So indeed, this particular thing hasn’t changed.

Ayaz pointed out that first position on Google gets the most clicks, regardless of device. Clickshare for the first position on desktop is noted to be 30%. But the big change seems to be in mobile devices and tablets where the share of click has risen to 39% and 36% respectively. Also important to note is that the click-thru rate on first position ads on mobile phones and tablets is over double from position 2. I wasn’t surprised to see this on mobile, since sometimes only one ad will show on a device, but on tablets all three positions show, so that one’s harder to explain. And that also makes it interesting that click-thrus on position one on a desktop are 33% higher than position two. It’s still high, just much lower than the other devices.

The conclusion from this is that it’s important to bid yourself into first position from a click-thru standpoint on all devices, if your budget supports it. And, it’s still easiest to get in first position when bidding on your own branded terms because your quality score for those terms should always be higher than others bidding for the same, and position one will be cheaper for you because you are the brand.

As always, check your ROI for your ad word campaigns to make sure your bidding strategy makes sense. But I’ll bet that no matter what, if you’re the brand, being in position one is always the place you should be.