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1 How and Why to Create Smarter Content

For several years now people like me have been advising you to create educational content as a foundational element of your marketing – and many of you have listened and profited.

Smart Content

law_keven via Flickr CC

But, and you knew this was coming; it’s no longer enough. Now that pretty much everyone gets that content is a must, it’s time to send your content creation and distribution to school to get smarter and more sophisticated.

The technology that gives you the ability to tailor your web content to the more specific needs and attributes of individual visitors exists right now and is very affordable.

Smart marketers are using these tools to deliver entirely different web page, message, offer and browsing experiences tied to the history and known data of the visitor.

It just makes complete sense that someone that comes to your site by way of a very specific search term, for example, would respond better to content that specifically addresses why he or she came in the first place, rather than the default home page experience.

Starts with analytics

The engine that drives the smart content experience is data. To gain full access to this level of personalization you must use a tool such as Google Analytics or Spring Metrics (a client) that can allow you to access publicly available data on your visitors such as IP address and location.

You can further enhance this approach by integrating CRM data as well. Imagine how powerful it would be to deliver only upsell products to current customers or special offers and discount coupon content as a way to reward customer loyalty.

Social tells story

For years I’ve followed the notion that 20% of your customers offer the opportunity to produce 80% of your most profitable work and sales. This isn’t new math, most people get this, but the trick is oftentimes it is difficult to identify the 20% simply based on their past purchase behavior.

I believe that social media offers us one of the greatest opportunities to identify those 20% based on a layer of influence, sharing and activity. A seemingly small client, in terms of purchasing from you at the moment, may be your greatest referral source if treated as such. Adding the social layer of data allows you to put metrics to that assumption.

What would happen if, for instance, you were able to determine a customer visiting your site had a high Klout score and therefor equipped them with content, context and offers that made it easy for them to talk about you. We all know hotshot online folks that get all kinds of free stuff in hopes that they will talk about their experience. What if your content on your site could automate that for even the smallest business?

Location based content

In my mind, there are several very obvious uses for smart content. One of the first is location based. Imagine if you had a business with offices in a couple cities. What if you could deliver the hometown office info to visitors by city?

Services such as Get Smart Content are springing up to make this a very simple thing to do at the full page or even page region level. Imagine if you were holding an event in a specific community and wanted every visitor to your site from that community to get a sales message for that event while people from everywhere else got another message. Now you can.

Segment based content

Many businesses successfully sell multiple market segments that have very different needs. Imagine how powerful it could be to deliver market segment content based on how a visitor came to your site.

Get Smart Content founder Jim Eustace showed me a mini case study for truck dealership that sells a line of very green electric delivery vehicles as well as traditional commercial trucks. They found that it was rather easy to distinguish, through search queries, the very different content needed by these two market segments.

Cycle based content

By adding CRM type of data to the measurement mix you can customize content delivery on your site based on the history of a prospect. Someone that has come back to your site after requesting a free eBook by filling out a form or clicking on a link is probably ready for different information or even very specific product or service information based on their past activity.

There is no magic wand one can wave to make this work for every business. It is certainly a trial, test and refine project that will get it wrong from time to time, but even simple enhancements to what content gets featured and when can dramatically impact the initial and ongoing experience for your visitor and allow you to use content as a clear competitive point of differentiation.

3 Digital Coupons as Real Time Conversion Content

Coupons have been with us for a very long time. In fact, they remain one of the last vestiges of the offline print conversion realm. While many offline lead conversion tactics have been rendered obsolete by inbound methods, print coupons have held up for traditional coupon shoppers.

But, that’s about to change as coupon behavior, stimulated by millions upon millions of Groupon type coupon users. Digital coupon use is closing in on print coupon use at an astoundingly rapid pace.

Digital coupons are fast becoming a medium that every type of business must explore. Consumers are growing to expect them, admit they help seal the deal and remain loyal to brands that offer them.

While coupons were once looked at as a low rung consumer product come on, they’ve matured in the digital world and through efforts by Google and other online advertising mechanisms, coupons have matured into a sustainable and profitable staple.

Add mobile use and location based intelligence and digital coupons are quickly moving to the top of the list of loyalty building tools favored by brands in every industry.

The popularity of sites like Coupon Sherpa point to the growing popularity and acceptance of digital, clickable coupons across every imaginable demographic.

Recent advancements in web conversion technology have turned coupons into real-time conversion content. As the use of content has evolved to include every type of interaction, smart marketers have discovered ways to deliver coupon content that involves behavior.

Spring Metrics (a client) has developed a technology called Smart Offers that turns the humble coupon into a conversion tool loaded with knowledge about your site’s visitors.

To me, this is the future of all content. The key to building trust, educating, nurturing and eventually closing with content is to find a way to tune the content so that it’s delivered to the right person at precisely the right time.

In the very near future we’ll see content management systems that use customer and visitor data to deliver all manner of content based on the specifics of each visitor.

The infographic below, developed in conjunction with Spring Metrics, goes deep into the current and future world of digital coupons as an evolving online consumer behavior.

Digital Coupon Infographic

Click to enlarge and download

8 Weekend Favs September Three

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr.

Image Joris Leermakers vis Flickr

Good stuff I found this week:
Spring Metrics – real-time conversion tracking and analytics that is much easier to use than Google Analytics.

Online Convert – This tool allows you to convert a wide range of media files from one format to another – upload an MOV and convert it Flash or dozens of other formats.

CurationSoft – Desktop content curation tool that makes it very easy to find and sort content related to any topic you choose.