Digital New Years Resolutions for Web Workers – The 2013 Edition

This post originally appeared in Website Magazine’s December 31, 2012 issue.


Resolutions are all about action – pushing ourselves to achieve ever greater results in our personal, and yes, professional lives. 

As Horace Mann once said, “I have never heard anything about the resolutions of the apostles, but a good deal about their acts.” But as a Web worker – be it in interactive design and development, or digital advertising and marketing – what actions (and acts) should you concentrate upon and on which should one’s efforts be focused?

Here are just a few digital New Year’s resolutions for Web workers, along with a few “actionable” tips, to ensure 2013 is the best year yet for your ‘Net business.

Add new dimensions to your analytics

The more you know about the performance of your website and the interactions that occur on it the greater results will be achieved. While many interactive/digital departments are content with a particular set of analytics, adding in new dimensions to analytics enables enterprises to understand how they can make better use of resources (both time and financial). For example, instead of tracking unique visitors, consider exploring how and when each unique source of traffic sends the most/best traffic. Marketers may discover that one source drives the most traffic early in the morning, or that a substantial number of users come from a particular source across the globe. Developing promotions with these insights in mind are near sure-fire ways to have a merry year indeed.

Reduce the barriers to entry

It’s not uncommon for there to be barriers to the engagement of a website visitor. There are both experiential barriers, such as poor navigation and barriers to engagement which prevent website visitors from becoming product or service buyers. For example, if there is not a clear path for a user to take (with detailed navigation and a strong call-to-action) how can they ever be expected to purchase anything or move further through the conversion funnel. And if there are barriers to converting (such as forcing registration or high shipping rates) then perhaps a campaign to test ease of entry should be implemented. Post-visit surveys are a proven way to capture information from departing visitors about their experience and why they did or didn’t engage with the site’s unique selling proposition.

Minimize the performance problems

It’s impossible to convert a user if they aren’t around long enough to convert. In several frequently cited and well-publicized studies several years ago, for each additional second of load time, the conversion rate falls by a certain percentage. In 2012, 56 percent of consumers who spend more than two hours per week shopping online have canceled an order due to an error or slow response time. With more third-party integration’s than ever before and a greater reliance on others to host and integrate features on our own sites, performance problems will inevitably arise. Minimizing the most significant performance issues is a proven way to ensure that it is even possible to put your best foot forward with design and expose visitors to the Web businesses’ core products and services with creative promotions.

Accelerate the promotions

When the website has been optimized to provide a smooth and seamless experience (one without performance problems or outrageously high barriers to entry), it’s time to accelerate promotions in the new year. Armed with more meaningful insights (see the resolution above related to adding new dimensions to analytics) Web workers will find new ways to accelerate promotions. From posting fewer, but better, updates on social profiles (or switching a social strategy entirely to accommodate a new approach; one perhaps that is more focused on customer service than marketing) to employing more integrated advertising and marketing promotions on the Web and mobile (see below), there are myriad ways to accelerate digital promotions, and have a brand – and its products or services – seen and experienced more regularly.

Push the mobile strategy

2012 has been the year of mobile, and 2013 stands to bring the same amount of attention to the channel. Whether you are currently investing in implementing a mobile Web design or deploying a shiny new mobile application, even starting additional local-mobile marketing campaigns, there are plenty of mobile best practices and tactics available for digital-centric enterprises. In fact, most leading enterprise and even mid-level Web content management systems have made available features, which makes brands increasingly compliant with consumers’ evolving digital expectations. Pushing mobile in 2013 won’t be hard, but taking those first few steps are crucial.

Maximize local investment

Unchanged for many years, most queries conducted on search engines are of a local nature and the percentage is actually far higher on mobile devices. That alone should make an investment in any and all things local (even for the largest businesses in the digital landscape) a good use of time and dollars. From expanding local advertising and expanding a local footprint on the Web, enterprises will be in front or users more likely to buy and do so at a lower cost than ever before.

Rethink Social Participation

Of all the resolutions that readers will find herein, this will likely be the most controversial. While there is an ever-expanding list of social media destinations clamoring for consumer attention and brand investment (from bookmarking to networking sites), the role that brands (both B2B and B2C) play on these networks is changing. Today and likely for the foreseeable future, brands will have to work harder or pay more to achieve the same level of awareness on these networks.

End the Laggards, Focus on Winners Alone

Resolutions aren’t just about adopting new actions to achieve success (or perfection) but also to end those practices that are preventing success. One of the savviest practices in business is to kill laggards, those products, services or feature, which don’t lend an assist to conversions or experience low usage in general. For example, say for instance that of the 10 features rolled out last year on a Web property, one receives far less usage than the others. While it’s not uncommon to keep features because someone within the enterprise has some virtual connection to it, eliminating them should they be preventing improved usage (as determined by conversion) should be the focus.

Remember, resolutions are all about action. You might be saying to yourself that these resolutions are all important but how should an enterprise actually start following these resolutions. Simple – just take the first step. Once you get started, you’ll be glad you did this time next year.

How QR Codes Can Grow Your Business

by Jeff Korhan

This article first appeared on Michael Stelzner’s SocialMediaExaminer.

What are QR codes and how can they help your business? Keep reading to find out.

Quick Response codes (QR codes) and other two-dimensional codes are expected to achieve widespread use this year – and for good reason. Consumers want immediate access to what’s relevant and QR codes are being used to make that possible.

QR Codes 101

If you’re not yet familiar with QR codes, they’re similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at the point of sale. The key difference between the two is the amount of data they can hold or share.

sme codeQR code to the Social Media Examiner home page.

Bar codes are linear one-dimensional codes and can only hold up to 20 numerical digits, whereas QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) matrix barcodes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information. Their ability to hold more information and their ease of use makes them practical for small businesses.

When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled Smartphone, you can link to digital content on the web; activate a number of phone functions including email, IM and SMS; and connect the mobile device to a web browser.

Read more . . .

Making Data Relevant: The New Metrics for Social Marketing

by Prashant Suryakumar

This article first appeared on MASHABLE.

Social media has come of age. Marketers now have the ability to augment their traditional marketing approaches with rich behavioral and activity-based targeting that should increase marketing ROI significantly.

However, businesses are facing an uncomfortable truth: There are no “best practices” for measuring a successful social media campaign. Crowd behavior is dynamic and context-specific, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to build a “one size fits all” solution.

A structured approach to capturing, measuring, analyzing and refining marketing strategies in near real time is essential to executing a successful social campaign. Initially, however, companies need to invest in infrastructure to make such a learning cycle possible.

Invest in Data

Measuring the impact of social media campaigns is systemically different from that of traditional marketing campaigns. Since the medium touches all the aspects of the customer purchase cycle, a holistic measurement of awareness, transactions and brand impact is essential.

Additionally, social media is a two-way communication medium and businesses need to invest in listening capabilities that capture the activities of their existing or potential customers online. Several paid and “freemium” tools that monitor online chatter can be found online.

While data is abundant, it is by nature unstructured. Integrating listening data with internal web behavior metrics captured by JavaScript tags, customer care logs, brand surveys and transactional data can enable a business to get a 360 degree view of the activities of customers across all of the purchase touchpoints.

Real-Time Monitoring

A typical online conversation has a life span of about one to two days. As a result, it is imperative for companies to respond to conversations in nearly real time. During this short window, they not only need to understand the context and content of the conversation, but also create an effective response mechanism. All of this underscores the need for real-time monitoring and analysis.

Companies like Dell and Best Buy are adopting different strategies for listening to InternetInternet chatter. These investments help keep a finger on the pulse of every conversation active on the networks.

Sentiment Analysis

Text mining and sentiment analysis are the flavor of the season for social media analytics and a common complaint is that the current tools are not able to classify a high percentage of the comments about your brand.

Step back and think about a conversation you had in the last 30 minutes. How many statements in that conversation were unambiguously positive or negative. Not many, right? Getting a 20% sentiment mapping for individual comments is a very high number.

On the other hand, think about the same conversation; Was the overall sentiment of the conversation positive or negative? That is far easier to cognitively classify. If businesses shift their focus to a conversation-based, rather than a comment-based sentiment analysis, they will be able to get a far better read on the aggregate sentiment of online chatter.

New Metrics

The need for improvisation and identification of new metrics is high. Currently, three categories of metrics need to be developed to enhance our understanding of social activities.

  • Metrics that help understand conversations and engagement (e.g. aggregate sentiment, conversation heatmaps),
  • Metrics to spot influencers in a community (e.g. influencer score, Klout score), and
  • Metrics that help in measuring holistic impact of social media activities on the business.

The Interplay Between Buzz, Branding and Sales

Measuring the impact of increased chatter for your brand might not always translate to more revenue for the business. Measuring cause and effect between buzz, branding and sales might show different dynamics for different product groups. For example, the Old Spice social media campaign saw an 800% increase inFacebookFacebook interaction and a 107% increase in sales. The numbers are related, but not necessarily 1:1.

Testing Mechanisms

Social media is a fertile testing ground, and businesses need to appreciate the importance of a robust testing protocol for social media-based actions. Having a mechanism to measure the effectiveness of comments will ensure that businesses can learn quickly and adapt to the social dynamics.

A key point to remember is that the instance and context of the test is as important as the test itself due to the temporal nature of conversations.

Some of the tests that can be conducted are:

  • Who are the right “influencers” to target for a particular product or service?
  • What is the right time to message these influencers?
  • What is the impact of competition activity on our buzz?
  • What is the impact of traditional marketing on social media and vice versa?
  • What are the type of comments that work for selling a product?
  • What are the type of comments that work for selling a service?
  • What are the right pricing strategies?
  • How should the business tap into current affairs?

Behavioral Segmentation

Behavioral targeting dramatically changed with online advertising, and now social media can take this effectiveness to new heights. Activity-based segmentation is far different from traditional demographic segmentation, and this is typically driven by a difference between the purchasers and the consumers of a product. Businesses can draw parallels from traditional marketing (targeting kids so that they can influence their parents) and build a unique social targeting mechanism.

Crowd Behavior

Businesses have tried to artificially stimulate a conversation by mettling in their own communities or creating artificial hype. This approach usually fails miserably. They need to understand that social networks emulate real-world interactions, and excessive policing of user generated content can be detrimental to the natural growth patterns of a network.

Math, business technology and behavioral sciences are the key ingredients for good decision making. Understanding organizational dynamics, flock behavior and complex adaptive systems are all directly applicable to social media. Integrating analytics with a deep understanding of how humans interact in a sociographic and psychographic sense can help a business stimulate a conversation within a community, or trigger flock behavior amongst customers.

Integration Into Existing Business Models

Once companies understand the impact of lead indicators, like buzz, on transactional metrics, like revenue, they can include such metrics into their forecasting models and predict short-term revenue with greater accuracy. Additionally, since a good social media campaign will improve the brand health, the long-term impact of these campaigns can be assessed.

While every business wants to understand the impact of its social media spend, it might not be so easy to integrate that into a media mix model. A good social media campaign might manifest itself in increased brand scores or customer loyalty and will impact the lifetime value of the customers more than the immediate transactional metrics. Including indirect metrics like buzz or sentiment might be one way to capture social behavior.

Product Design

Social media can be a direct line of communication with the end user of your products. Businesses can leverage this very effectively in product design by soliciting input from the end user on what features they prefer in the product. Getting feature specific intelligence from the customer can help in building a product that caters to most of the population and also helps in building a sense of loyalty among the user base. Good examples of this include IdeastormVitamin Water and Fiat.


The framework above is the first step in helping companies understand the who, what, when and where of social targeting. The obvious next step is to integrate all this knowledge into traditional marketing and CRM.

Prashant Suryakumar is a Social Media Engagement Manager at Mu Sigma and is currently focused on social media analytics. This post was co-authored by Dhiraj Rajaram, the founder and CEO of Mu Sigma.


10 Steps for Successful Social Media Monitoring

by Maria Ogneva

This article first appeared on MASHABLE.COM.

Maria Ogneva is the Director of Social Media at Attensity, a social media engagement and voice-of-customer platform that helps the social enterprise serve and collaborate with the social customer. You can follow her on Twitter at @themaria or @attensity360, or find her musings on her personal blog and her company’s blog.

Recently I wrote about the differences in social media monitoring and measurement, as well as the importance of doing both.

However, taking the first step to actually start monitoring can be daunting. And then what? How do you act on what you find when listening?

How do you engage? To ensure that you are successful in your monitoring and measurement efforts, here are some definitive steps you should follow.

I’ve developed these throughout my career and as part of my regular listening, participating and contributing to the space.

1. Define an Objective

Why are you monitoring? If the answer is “because everyone’s doing it,” you are in trouble. You need to have a clear goal in mind, such as:

  • I want to monitor because I want to be alerted immediately when people are saying bad / good things about my brand.
  • I want to quickly respond to all customer service queries, and I’m going to set up a way to collaborate and exchange information seamlessly with my support team.
  • I’m monitoring so I can quickly see who is talking about [insert industry keyword] and join the conversation to bring more credibility to my brand.
  • I’m monitoring so I can keep my finger on the pulse of the market so I can figure out what the market actually needs and then create it.
  • I’m monitoring so I can easily identify people in need of my product and help them at the point of need.
  • All of the above, and more!

Having an end goal in mind will help you target your resources correctly, select the right tool for the job and be more effective in the end.

Read more . . .