When the push is the process the mountain moves closer

“Special Report: e-Commerce Payment Processing & CRM” by Mira Allen and Laura Quinn (NonProfit Times, 1 April 2010). It’s not easy being a 501(c)3. With so much focus on the mission the necessary level empathy for those on the outside looking in can be difficult to muster. This is especially true when it comes to fund raising. Rarely will the guest (outside) be as committed as those fulfilling the mission (inside). Guests have their own mission(s) as well. Work, wife, kids, etc.

In short, successful donor engagement is no longer a once a year push, but an ongoing process. Resources are of course tight so management must embed the push in the day to day process, which in turn needs to align closer to the day the day lives of the target audience(s).

Mira and Laura (from www.IdealWare.org in Maine), cover many of the highlights in how to best to eat the donation elephant.

“As for any campaign, it’s important to formulate a plan before rushing out to ask for money. Start by developing a compelling message to inspire people to donate. Tell supporters a story — not just about why it’s important to support your organization, but specifically what the donations will support. Maybe the goal is a scholarship fund to help more people take advantage of your programs or a new piece of equipment. When possible, put names or faces to the people the campaign will help, or paint a vivid picture of what the hoped-for results will look like.”

Actually, for best results the story should be ongoing. It’s something that should reflect the mission and be constantly reinforced with every “blurb” that your org puts into circulation. Marketing in the 21st century is about a two-way conversation and not just traditional one-way messaging. It’ s a walk the talk world so be prepared to show them what you got. And then keep showing them! Additionally, it’s getting to be more difficult to meet fund raising goals when the marketing machine only gets ramped up once or twice a year. How do you think it makes your donors feel when you only come looking for them when you want money? While that might not be entirely true, if that’s their perception then consider it written in stone.

Whatever your medium, make sure you create compelling hooks to encourage people to donate. A simple “Help support our organization” might not get the same response as a “Help add 100 books to the library by midnight!” Almost any online message — whether ad, email, or status update — should be crafted to grab attention. Entice your constituents with intriguing and motivating calls to action.

At the risk of sounding like a broken mp3, do realize that the hook is for the donors, not for you. It’s not what those on the inside should find engaging and only have time for. What’s most important is what do those on the outside of the .org hear and/or expect to hear. How many times have we all seen an advertisement – not just from a nonprofit – that is about what the sender wants to say, and not about what the receiver is expecting to hear as well as how they are wanting to hear it. A product/service benefit isn’t a benefit unless the receiver thinks it is.  For example, the sender say,”Been around for 50 years…” While the receiver thinks, “Big deal! What are you going to do for me today?” That’s not to say tradition and established aren’t important to some, but hey are certainly further a way from the benefit target than “saves you time” or “saves you money”.

Btw, as a rule any “sales pitch” should avoid “cute” and don’t over think “creative”. If it’s not reinforcing the idea(s) then it’s probably a distraction. Nine of out of ten time KISS is will get the job done. Do you have the time to wrestle with unraveling a “cute” message? Don’t be that sender.

It’s more difficult to tell how many people are responding to your social networking appeals, but you can look for spikes in donations when you post something to Twitter or Facebook. It’s also possible to collect donations inside Facebook (using the Causes application), making it very clear how much is coming from Facebook users.

Actually, and this goes for you for profits as well, there’s a tool from Google called URL Builder that is an extension of their free website Analytics offering.  In short, you can add parameters to each of the links you post and Analytics will be able to better track that incoming traffic for you. And not to worry, the URLs generated with URL Builder still work with URL shortening services like TinyURL, Bit.ly, etc. Yes, URL Builder adds 120 seconds extra step but it’s time well invested if your .org want to analyze and understand what worked and what did not.

One SEO step at a time (Part 10-16)

More from this ongoing series on SEO from Stoney deDeyter over at Search Engine Guide (http://www.SearchEngineGuide.com).

Part 10: Everything You Need To Know About Keyword Qualifiers
Part 11: Everything You Need To Know About SEO Copywriting
Part 12: Everything You Need To Know About Page Content
Part 13: Everything You Need To Know About Links
Part 14: Everything You Need To Know About Link Anatomy
Part 15: Everything You Need To Know About Linking
Part 16: Everything You Need to Know About Building Links
Part 16: Everything You Need to Know About Building Links

Btw, one thing worth mentioning is that SEG could probably do a better job with keywords in their URIs.

One SEO step at a time (Part 5 – 9)

Opps. Looks like we’ve fallen a bit behind in keeping you in the loop on this ongoing series on SEO from Stoney deDeyter over at Search Engine Guide (http://www.SearchEngineGuide.com).

Part 5: Everything You Need to Know Domain Names
Part 6: Everything You Need To Know About Search Engine Friendly URLs & Broken Links
Part 7: Everything You Need To Know About Site Architecture and Internal Linking
Part 8: Everything You Need To Know About Keywords
Part 9: Everything You Need To Know About Keyword Core Terms

One SEO step at a time (Part 1 – 4)

The use of the word everything is an over-statement. None the less, this is a damn good round up by Stoney deGeyter to get your search engine optimization (SEO) juices flowing, as seen on SearchEngineGuide.com (http://www.searchengineguide.com).

Part 1: Everything You Need To Know About SEO
Part 2: Everything You Need To Know About Title Tags
Part 3: Everything You Need To Know About Meta Description and Keyword Tags
Part 4: Everything You Need To Know About Heading Tags and Alt Attributes

Looking at the world through empathy colored glasses

“The Three-Minute Rule” by Anthony Tjan (Harvard Business Review, 22 January 2010). Let’s look past the trying too hard title and focus on bottom line — context. Nearly everything from web design, ad design or a phone conversation, to buying a product or using service – exists within context. Furthermore, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the context is often not yours but theirs. So, as has been mentioned here quite a few times before, be sure to add Context’s twin Empathy to your checklist.

Essential pull quote:

These situations illustrate the narrow-mindedness to which it is easy to fall prey. In the Thomson example, we were thinking of ourselves as a data provider, though we were really part of a broader workflow solution. We failed to realize the importance of customer context over our own product capability. In the cross-selling and shopping-basket examples, the three-minute rule reminds us that rearranging the context of a shopping experience to better meet customer patterns can be extremely effective. Customers seek solutions, but it is likely that your offering is only part of one. The three-minute rule is a forcing mechanism to see the bigger picture and adjacent opportunities.

Understanding context is certainly important, but to truly interpret it correctly one must also have a healthy supply of empathy.

Mashable does it again

“Mashable’s Social Media Guide for Small Businesses” by Matt Silverman (Mashable.com, 4 December 2009). Brilliant! So jam packed with goodies that the best thing to do is get out of the way and let you jump right in. Enjoy!

The Art of The Twitter

“How Twitter Is Revolutionizing Business (140 Characters at a Time)” by Jason Ankeny (Entrepreneur magazine, December 2009). Jason rounds up both a history lesson as well as bits on the current state of The Art of  The Twitter. Unfortunately, the Entrepreneur web site is not as current as the print version. Not to worry, just whip up a Google/Yahoo! alert so you know when they finally get around to sharing this article digitally.

In the meantime, here is the run down on the sites/services mentioned:

oneforty.com — “A Better Way to Discover Twitter Apps. oneforty is your Twitter outfitter, with tons of resources for all things Twitter. Currently tracking 2031 apps that make Twitter even better.”

ChirpCity.com — “Local Twitter search, latest tweets from and about your city… and a top user list for the cities (listed) above.”

NearbyTweets.com — “Instantly find Twitterers nearby.”

Tweepz.com — “Search, find and discover interesting people on Twitter.”

SocialOomph.com — “Tools to Boost Your Social Media Productivity.” For example, schedule your tweets.

CalTweet.com — “Social Events Sharing Tool via Twitter & Facebook.”

Seesmic.com — “Stay connected and share information with your friends.”

Twitalyzer.com — “For Tracking Influence and Measuring Success in Twitter.”

ExecTweets.com — “Find and follow top business execs on Twitter.”

Tweetdeck.com — “TweetDeck is your personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook and more.”

BingTweets — “BingTweets enables you to see deeper, real-time information about the hottest topics on Twitter by fusing Bing search results with the latest tweets.”

Twidroid — “The Twitter & Identi.ca client application for android mobile phones.”

And while you’re waiting for Entrepreneur to update their site, be sure to check out Mashable.com’s Twitter Guide Book — How To, Tips and Instructions.

Good stuff, eh? Looks like Black Friday will have to wait. How about you? Please leave a comment to share any sites you feel should have been on this list.

Great relationships require trust

“The Cure for the Common Virus” by Jessica Tsai (DestinationCRM.com, October 2009). Wow! Yet another I-wish-I said-that article from Ms. Tsai — especially for those seeking to break their 20th century marketing habits.

It’s a holiday week so you’re either quite busy or slowed down to enjoy the moment. Either way let’s skip the usual intro and jump to some highlights.

Measuring the totality of viral’s impact is extremely difficult, if not impossible. After all, how do you measure emails forwarded from personal accounts? Or URLs copied-and-pasted into instant message windows? Or a remark passed over a fence? And yet, no one would argue that messages spread virally are extremely powerful. After all, consumers are far more likely to trust one another than any marketing pitch out there. (See “Who Do You Trust About Trust?,” and our interview with “Trust Agents” co-author—and 2009 CRM Influential Leader — Chris Brogan, in Required Reading.)

According to customer experience company Satmetrix, and codeveloper of the Net Promoter score (NPS), word-of-mouth recommendations by promoters are increasing year over year in all industries. The uphill trend is not due to an increase in viral marketing–specific campaigns, says Deborah Eastman, chief marketing officer; rather, the Internet and social media have ignited a sharing frenzy.

Customers don’t care if you want them to pass something along. Abandon the PR lingo and the corporate speak. No one wants to listen to it, let alone pass it on to their friends. “Share honest information,” says Tom Anderson, managing partner of Anderson Analytics. “What are you worried about—your competitors seeing it? Big deal. Everything’s instantaneous now.”

The bottom line is this… If you want to tap into the natural conversational energy of the crowd, then you have to give them something worthy of discussion.  But you also have to take that a step further and realize that worthy is defined by them, not by you. Traditional marketing’s one-way, dictate it and they will listen approach no longer applies. In fact, spin might only get you backlash.

We are by nature social beasts and that can certainly work to your advantage. Nothing beats word of mouth! But in order to win you must be honest and you must be authentic. Most of all, you must give them something truly worthy of their time. Because don’t you expect the same?

Be careful what you wish to measure

“The Dangers of Bad Data” by Vik Torpunuri (CRM Magazine, 1 Oct 2009)

“You Are What You Measure” by Lior Arussy (CRM Magazine, 1 Oct 2009)

“Goals Gone Wild” by Stephanie Overby (CIO Magazine, 15 September 2009)

No one will deny that setting goals and measuring progress are important. What’s even more important is setting the right goals, using the right measurements to determine progress, making sure the data is accurate and complete, and then how those measurements are used to manage the initiative.

For example, Google’s AdWords preaches the value of Click Through Rate (CTR), as well as cost per click (CPC). While both are helpful and should be monitored, they are both in many instances the wrong measurement. The better measurement is conversations as well as what Google Analytics calls goals. In theory you can have a great CRT and CPC for one campaign, but another campaign can have a lower CTR and a higher CPC but lead to more or better conversions. It’s an issue of quality verse quantity.

It should be noted that Google only gets paid for clicks not for conversions. So much for “Don’t be evil”, eh? Also, the next time some SEM “expert” starts praising himself/herself about CTR and CPC ask them about their conversion rate. Ask them about the impact their efforts were able to make on the bottom line. CTR and CPC isn’t enough and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Success is much more holistic than that.

Another example, is a call center. We’ve all phoned an 800 number looking for help with an issue only to get bounced from rep to rep to rep. Guess what? In that call center lenght of call probably factors into a rep’s review. Should length of call be measured? Yes, it should be. Should it be used to alter behavior of the reps in such a way that it compromises the relationship with the guest? Probably not.

The bottom line is this… measurement is important. Just be careful that you’re doing it right. And always question numbers and graphs when they are presented to you. Never assume that the messenger is right and is telling you what you really need to know.

If your message falls on deaf ears/eyes, does it still make a sound?

“Prospect Research” by Waddy Thompson (The NonProfit Times, 15 September 2009). Please note: The link to Mr. Thompson’s article will actually take you to his web site, not NPT.com. NPT, being an old media outfit (?), did not have the article posted on their web site. They also did not respond to an inquiry as to whether it was going to be added any time soon. And old media wonders why they’re losing readership. I don’t get it. Actually, they don’t get it. Oops, I digress.

Waddy does a super job here in laying out a framework for segmenting your mailing list and why that matters. What’s beautiful is that this mindset works for all types of businesses, not just 501(c)(3)s. With tools such as Salesforce.com or Zoho’s CRM offering (http://crm.zoho.com/crm/) the possibilities are powerful, inexpensive and nearly endless.

Here is another article of interest (that has been sitting in the to-be-posted pile, so please excuse the delay, the information is still spot on): “Email Segmentation for Higher ROI” by Peter Prestipino (Website Magazine, February 2009).

Don’t forget, targeting your message is not only good for you but it’s even more good (note: the word play was intentional) for your guests. They, just like you, have limited time and attention. The better you stay on *their* message, the more likely they are to keep you in their conversation. It’s not so much about what you want to say, but about what they want to hear. Right? Right!

Bees or flies? – Part 2

Time for a little bit of shameless self-promotion…

The original post dates back to June or so. This letter was printed in the September of issue of CRM Magazine (online: www.DestinationCRM.com). Unfortunately, CRM did not post the letters of the September issue on their web site. As you know, they have done so in the past. (Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.)

Beautiful article by Associate Editor Jessica Tsai (“Search Engineering”, July 2009, http://sn.im/0709tsai). Search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and online marketing in general continue to be hot topics. The theory is, why chase customers when they can find you? Yes, when done right, it can work quite well.

Ms. Tsai does the subject matter justice, with a thorough (even fantasic) overview of SEO. There are a few things I’d like to add to her efforts, however, that I believe will help the CRM masses.

1) The design and user experience (UX) of the site itself is critical. While not part of SEO, per se, there is a very important connection: There’s no point in driving traffic to a visually unpleasing and/or dysfunctional web site. Guests will judge a book by its cover, and if they don’t like what they see or how it works they will bounce. In order to fully benefit from SEO (i.e., inviting guests over), we believe more companies should first focus on cleaning up the house.

2) The article focuses on the value of a web site “homepage”, but the current approach is that there is no such thing as a homepage anymore. Since search engines will drop a person into any page of a site, it’s not safe to assume the homepage will be the point of entry. The relationship can start anywhere, so plan accordingly.

3) One essential factor that’s too often overlooked — click fraud in paid search (PPC) — appears in one of the article’s sidebars (“Bad and Ugly SEO”): “Some reports indicate that one-third of clicks on paid search are fraudulent — the result of developers creating bots to click on competitions’ ads, raising those competitors’ costs.”

Even with Google’s much-vaunted AdWords/AdSense, some estimates put the click-fraud rate above 15 percent. Either figure represents a pretty significant amout of waste to not be aware of — especially for anyone new to pay-per-click advertising. Yes, search engines say they prevent it but the general belief is to the contrary.

So we’d like to add a caveat to the feature story: SEO/SEM is not a panacea. It will not make up for a visually dated web design or a marginal user experience. Nor will it fix a shaky business model, poor customer service, or a second-rate product or service. SEO/SEM is merely a way to attract customers.

Mark Simchock
Chief Alchemist
Alchemy United

Your vision . Our passion . Success realized

We feel honored to be validated (again) by another respected authority. This time it is CRM magazine.

You have to start somewhere

“The Essentials of E-Marketing” by Sara Baker (NICHE Magazine, Summer 2009). Time is tight so let’s get right to it. For some this article is a nice overview, or others it should function as a healthy refresher.

What? Yes. When? Not so much so.

“What Data Mining Can and Can’t Do” by Allan E. Alter (CIO Insight Magazine, June 2007) The subject of business intelligence (BI) came up in a meeting a couple days ago. The discussion centered around using broad patterns, as well as past behaviors of individuals to make future predictions. This article isn’t new but given the authority of Mr. Peter Fader (who is the interviewee) it will help you properly wrap your mind around this topic.

In short, there seems to be a fair amount misunderstanding when it comes to BI. Well, at least Prof. Fader thinks so.

Bees or flies?

“Search Engineering” by Jessica Tsai (CRM Magazine, July 2009). Beautiful. The theory is, why chase customers when they can find you? Yes, when done right it can work quite well. Search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and online marketing in general continue to be hot topics. Ms. Tsai does the subject matter justice.

One essential factors that is too often “overlooked” comes in one of the article’s sidebars:

Bad and Ugly SEO
Click fraud in paid search. Some reports indicate that one-third of clicks on paid search are fraudulent—the result of developers creating bots to click on competitors’ ads, raising those competitors’ costs.

We’d also like to add an AU caveat. SEO / SEM is not a panacea. It will not make up for a visually dated web design or a marginal user experience (UX). Nor will it fix a shaky business model, poor customer service, or a second rate product / service. SEO / SEM is a way to attract customers. The question is — Is what your brand puts forward best suited for attracting bees or flys? If you need someone to be your trusted and objective mirror please give us a ring.

5 more CRM-isms from CIO

“5 ‘Zero Cost” CRM Strategies’ By Thomas Wailgum (CIO Mag, 26 May 2009) Another to the point article in CIO’s “5” series. It will only take you a couple minutes to read but the odds of a useful takeway look good.

Even free has a price

“Levin’s Law On Cheap and Easy Marketing Mediums” by Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Robert Levin (The New York Enterprise Report, June 2009). Once again Mr. Levin uses his From The Editor address to deliver an optimal amount of wisdom in less than a full printed page. No one is too busy to consume such an amount of valuable information.

The one thought that is missing is the idea of not only having a compelling message but also having a compelling business behind it. Getting guest to your party is half-the battle. The other half is deliving on the promise of an experience worth staying for. Word of mouth is still the most cost effective form of marketing. Tweet that!

Lipstick isn’t enough

“Put Ad on Web. Count Clicks. Revise.” By Stephanie Cliford (New York Times, Sunday 31 May 2009). Let’s jump right to the AU caveats:

  • Yes, this approach is helpful but what the quants and the bean counters are not considering is that the ad with the most clicks does not necessarily make it the most effective. An ad can draw more clicks but ultimately lead to less satisfied guests. In other words, it totally discounts The Guest Experience and simplifies that relationship into one that based on the perspective of the companyand a single click and not the guest and their value over the long run. As we all agree by now, that’s a no-no.
  • Yes, if you’re a “little guy / gal” it’s smart to watch the big dogs and see how they’re running. However, in many cases resources might be better spend getting the house in order first. In other words, take a hard objective look at the design of your site (or better yet engage someone else to do so); strongly consider what the UX (i.e., user experience) is like and how that will lead guests to draw conclusions about your brand; also check the responsiveness and thoroughness of your guests services. Unfortunately, one of the current trends is “I just need SEO…” Well, you can SEO/SEM – yes, we just made it a verb – ’til the end of time but you can’t put lipstick on a (less than ideal web site) pig and expect stellar results. In fact,  driving traffic into a sub-par experience can do more harm than good.
  • For example, twice in the last two weeks we have used the contact form on the site of the MLS’ Philadelphia Union (www.PhildephiaUnion.com) and have not gotten so much as a auto-reply. It should be noted that this is an expansion team that has yet to play a match. It’s not a good sign when your number one focus is to energize supporters and there’s no response to the Contact Us form.

Let’s talk about the solutions

The latest issue (May 2009) of The New York Enterprise Report (NYReport.com) is bursting with must-reads. Below are the highlights with an essential pull quote from each, as well as a few caveats.

Enjoy! Pass it on…

“Marketing Matters More Than Ever” by Robert S. Levin

The reality is that marketing is on the back burner of most small businesses, but marketing is what puts your company on the front burner of your prospects.

AU caveat: As tbarriers to entry (read: costs) for marketing falls for the amount of clutter is going to increase. Now more than ever the quality and relevance of the impression is as important as the quantity.

“Levin’s Law on Cheap and Easy Marketing Mediums” by Robert S. Levin

There is no magic pill in marketing, regardless of the cost of the medium. Success in marketing depends, and always will, on hitting the right audience with a compelling message.

“Get The Right PR For Your Event In 8 Steps” by Beth Silver

Whether in magazines and newspapers, or on radio, TV, or the web, it’s vital to understand the different types of media and audiences that are available, and what is correct for your audience.

AU caveat: Where Step 4 speaks of focus we would use target, targeting, etc.

“Maximize Your Online Presence” by Tony Grass

SEO is not about chasing marginally interested traffic and then trying to sell everything to everybody, it’s about targeting and pulling in those customers who want to buy, and selling to them by featuring what they are searching for. To put it another way, traffic quality means more than quantity.

AU caveat 1: If it’s been three years since you’ve revisited the objectives of your web site – or any other part of your business for that matter – then it’s probably time for a redesign or at least a serious make over.

AU caveat 2: When done property SEO is all part of the up-front analysis / design / development process. Yes, there are adjustments that can be made after the fact but doing so once the site has been built is the less than ideal approach.

AU caveat 3: To paraphrase President Obama, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig.” All the SEO / SEM in the world is not going to save an ugly site with a poor UX. Get your house in order before you decide to invite guests.

AU caveat 4: In 2009, if your designer / developer isn’t insisting on a content manamgent system (CMS) then engage someone else. ASAP!

The guest expects more than a “just a web site” experience

“The Promise of Private-label Media” by Matthew Egol, Leslie H. Moeller and Christopher Vollmer (Strategy + Business, Summer 2009). As found in the latest print issue – not yet available online. Here’s a summary of the take aways:

– The days of “just a web site” are over.
– While the article doesn’t address it, the mindset / approach outlined e is available to single person companies all the way on up.
– Traditional media’s value add used to be having a unique channel that attracted eye balls. That value add is losing value. Why pay someone else for something you can develop yourself.
– The consumer is agnostic, as they should be. Their need is entertainment and information. The channel through which that is consumed is irrelevant.

We’ll post the link once S+B makes it available.

The never ending story of the new evil empire

“Companies Object to Google Policy on Trademarks” By Miguel Helft (New York Times, 15 May 2009) Simply put, all hype and blind envy aside, Google is a publicly traded company and is oblicated to act in the best interest of ther shareholders. If Google can make a profit on a service in spite of a couple random lawsuit then they will continue to do that regardless of how evil it is. Ignore the slogans and the tag lines – once again, actions speak louder than words.