Categories
CRO Customer Engagement Data Strategy Highlights Paid Media Reaching New Customers SEO Strategy

Engage and inspire: Powerful digital marketing strategies for nonprofits

Animal welfare, environmental conservation, youth services—your nonprofit is fighting for a great cause! Who wouldn’t want to donate? Unfortunately, with nearly 2 million public charities in the U.S. alone* vying for your donors’ attention (and dollars), those donors have many options, and yours may not be at the top of the list. 

While you’re trying to increase total donations, bring in net new donors, and lower your cost per acquisition (all in the name of saving baby gorillas), you’re likely facing challenges with competition, user experience, financial constraints, or accurate reporting that hinder your ability to meet those goals. Let’s explore some digital marketing strategies for nonprofits that can help you overcome these obstacles and protect those gosh darn baby gorillas!

Meaningful moments: Connect with your audience to stand apart from competition

With so many competitors in the market, your donors have to make the tough decision of which nonprofit organizations they want to financially support (civic engagement is great and all, but also, baby gorillas). As such, it’s crucial to resonate with your audience in a way that makes you stand apart from competitors and increase brand awareness. You can do this through:

Knowing your audience: Prospective donors don’t give simply as a function of their demographics; their giving is a reflection of their values. Taking a valuegraphics-based approach to understanding your audience will empower you to position your cause in a way that resonates with the ultimate decision driver: values.

Impactful storytelling: By sharing compelling stories, you can evoke emotion and illustrate the tangible impact of your work, making your mission more relatable and memorable.

Influencers and ambassadors: 69% of consumers trust influencers over information coming directly from a brand. Consider partnering with influencers and ambassadors to amplify your message and leverage their reach and credibility to broaden awareness and build trust.

Community building: Building an online community fosters a sense of belonging and engagement. This strategy is particularly impactful for establishing a base of sustained donor relationships as opposed to singular donations.

Personalized digital experiences: Tailoring digital experiences to individual preferences and behaviors make interactions more relevant and more meaningful. Knowing when to send someone to a landing page for ocean conservation versus, say, baby gorillas, could be the difference between a one-time $20 donation and a sustained monthly donation of my entire paycheck.

Make it easy: Drive action through improved UX

You’ve connected with a potential donor and got them to your website, but now they’re not sure where to go to make a donation. Once they find the donation page, it defaults to a $100 donation, and they can only give $50 but can’t figure out how to change the amount. Fine. They’ve decided to forego Starbucks this month so that they can afford the $100 donation, but now they don’t have a credit card nearby and the mobile payment platform doesn’t take ApplePay. UGH. Your potential donor just left your site and has no intention of coming back. Be sure that you’re providing your website visitors with a great user experience and making it super easy for them to donate. You can do this by incorporating:

User-friendly features: Create or enhance features that simplify the donation process. That might include adding a prominent donate button on the homepage and throughout the site, giving users intuitive ways to change their donation amount and frequency, or providing a variety of payment methods for donors to choose from.

Accessible website design: Ensure you’re creating a welcoming space for all by designing your website and mobile app according to WCAG accessibility standards. Accessible websites and apps remove barriers for a significant portion of the population, allowing you to tap into a wider audience.

CRO strategy: Conversions rate optimization (CRO) strategy is a continual testing and optimization cycle that identifies and addresses friction points on the website in an effort to drive ongoing incremental improvement to conversion performance. Addressing even the most minor pain points on your website will improve user experience and increase your donation rate. In just 3 months, we helped an e-commerce company double its revenue with a strategic CRO campaign.

Embrace efficiency: Invest in tactics with limited waste

If you are a marketer at a nonprofit, you’re likely operating with a limited budget and resources while also striving to make a significant impact. Every penny counts, so it’s crucial to invest in tactics that drive sustainable results with minimal waste. Consider:

Google Grants: Google offers nonprofit organizations up to $10,000 of advertising credits per month. While there are some restrictions, it’s basically free money. Make sure your nonprofit is taking advantage of this great tool.

CRO strategy: We already mentioned it once in this blog, but it’s so powerful, we have to bring it up again. A strong CRO strategy is an insurance policy for your paid media campaigns. If you invest in paid media, you are spending a lot of valuable money driving people to your website, but what if they get to the website and they’re met with a bad experience? They drop from the site before ever making a donation, and given the poor experience, they’re not likely to come back. We call this the “leaky bucket effect,” and it’s something that can be greatly reduced through CRO strategy.

Full-funnel marketing: A lot of nonprofits invest heavily in lower-funnel tactics like paid search, because they can see the direct conversions. But neglecting upper-funnel awareness and consideration tactics chokes your funnel which has major downstream impact as you lose your ability to reach net new donors. Invest in a full-funnel strategy to set yourself up for long-term, sustainable growth.

Data is king: Prioritize analytics to drive growth

Accurate and accessible data can provide meaningful insights, drive strategic decision-making, and enhance the effectiveness of your mission. For many nonprofits that often find themselves wading through more data than they know what to do with, consider honing in on these strategies:

Strengthen your data foundation: A strong data foundation is the cornerstone for any organization that seeks to harness the potential of its data. Not only will this enable better decision-making throughout your organization, if you wish to level-up your marketing game with things like personalization or AI, a strong data foundation is essential. 

KPI alignment: Because nonprofits often put such a heavy emphasis on driving donations, there is a tendency to misalign marketing tactics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Bottom-of-funnel tactics, like paid search, are meant to drive conversions (a.k.a. donations), and therefore, conversion rate (CVR) or cost per acquisition (CPA) are appropriate KPIs for paid search. A podcast ad, on the other hand, is an awareness tactic that sits at the top of the funnel. It plays a crucial role in your marketing strategy for reaching net new potential donors, but it’s not likely to drive direct donations (its impact will be felt downstream through those low-funnel tactics). As such, the success of podcast advertising should be measured based on KPIs like reach, frequency, and audio completion rate (ACR).

See how right-sizing a national environmental nonprofit’s unbalanced measurement approach enabled us to implement a full-funnel media strategy that increased their conversions by over 60% and resulted in a 22% lift in peak-season giving.

Data storytelling: You’ve worked so hard to connect with your audience, stand up an efficient marketing strategy, and capture meaningful data. Make sure this isn’t lost on your executive team. Communicate data-driven insights effectively through data storytelling. By transforming complex data sets into a compelling narrative, you avoid unnecessary complexity to prevent misinterpretation, foster engagement, and enable understanding across teams.

Great marketing strategies support even greater missions

A smart marketing strategy can help you overcome many of the common challenges faced by nonprofits, setting you apart from the competition and setting you up for long-term success. Not sure where to start? Tallwave can help. Let’s save some baby gorillas together.

* Source: Statista Research Department, and Jan 5. “Public Charities by Subsector U.S. 2021.” Statista, 5 Jan. 2024

Categories
Customer Engagement Highlights News Product Design SEO Uncategorized UX Design

Leveling up: How gamification in UX drives engagement 

Imagine this: you open an app, complete a task, and a delightful chime rings out as a virtual trophy pops up on your screen. You feel a surge of satisfaction, a small rush of accomplishment, and maybe even a drop of dopamine activates in your brain. This is the subtle power of gamification in UX design.

What is gamification in UX design? It is simply the strategic use of game-like mechanics in non-game contexts, and it has become an undeniable force in the digital landscape. As consumers, we increasingly expect playful engagement in the apps and products we interact with, even if we don’t realize it. 

But for marketers and business decision-makers, understanding the science behind gamification and its impact on user behavior can be a game-changer (pun intended) for driving long-term engagement and success.

The game is afoot: Why gamification in UX design works

So, what’s the secret sauce behind the effectiveness of gamification in UX? It all boils down to a powerful trio: motivation, reward, and positive reinforcement.

Studies have proven over and over that our brains are wired to respond to challenges and rewards. Gamification taps into this inherent human desire by:

  • Introducing elements of competition: Leaderboards, point systems, progress bars, and other visual game elements trigger a sense of healthy competition, motivating users to strive for the top.
  • Unlocking rewards: Whether it’s virtual badges, exclusive content, amassing points, or even merch and discounts, the promise of a reward incentivizes users to complete tasks and keep coming back for more.
  • Delivering positive reinforcement: The aforementioned chime, a congratulatory message, or even just a simple progress bar filling up all provide positive reinforcement, triggering the release of dopamine, the increasingly rare neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and motivation.

This positive reinforcement loop keeps users engaged, fosters a sense of accomplishment, and ultimately drives desired user behaviors, whether it’s completing a learning element or module, consistently using an app, or making repeat purchases.

Image showing gamification in UX design.

The science of fun: Who does gamified UX appeal to?

(Spoiler alert: It’s everyone.)

While gamification might conjure up images of overly anxious Millennials amassing stars to swap for coffee at Starbucks or Boomers swiping away at Candy Crush, the reality is that the appeal of gamification in UX is far-reaching. 

The core psychological principles behind gamification are universal human motivators, tapping into our deep-down desires for accomplishment, recognition, and social connection.

Studies have shown that gamification can be effective across various demographics and in all kinds of applications:

  • Learning and development: Gamified learning platforms can make educational content more engaging and improve knowledge retention for all ages.
  • Employee engagement: Gamified internal applications can boost employee motivation, productivity, and collaboration. And we all know the employee experience matters.
  • Wellness and fitness: Fitness trackers and health apps incorporating gamification elements encourage users to adopt and maintain healthy habits.
  • Ultimately, gamification speaks to the inner competitor, the reward seeker, and the social butterfly within us all.

Learn more about how Tallwave creates outstanding digital experiences through design.

Image showing gamification in UX design.

Beyond the badge: The power of personalized gamification

While leaderboards and badges were the early pioneers of gamification, today’s approach goes beyond the superficial. Forward-thinking gamification personalizes the experience, tailoring rewards and challenges to individual user preferences and behavior. This means:

  • Dynamic difficulty: The difficulty level can adjust based on user performance, ensuring an enjoyable experience for both beginners and seasoned users.
  • Adaptive rewards: Rewards can be personalized based on user preferences, making them feel valued and motivated. 
  • Segmented experiences: Gamification elements can be tailored to specific user segments to drive relevant actions, like encouraging first-time users to complete onboarding steps or incentivizing loyal users to try new features.

This personalized approach fosters a deeper connection between users and the product, fostering long-term loyalty and brand advocacy. 

The future of personalized gamification in UX is even brighter with the integration of Artificial Intelligence. AI can leverage user data (assuming consumer consent and privacy requirements are met) to recommend relevant rewards and suggest social connections within the app, creating a truly individualized and engaging experience for each user. This level of personalization can further boost user motivation, satisfaction, and loyalty.

Real-world wins: Gamified UX success stories

Seeing the power of gamification of UX in action is as simple as opening up your smartphone or clicking over to your favorite retailer’s online storefront. Here are some inspiring examples of brands using gamification to achieve remarkable results:

Duolingo

This language learning app extensively uses gamification, with points, badges, leaderboards, and a daily streak system to keep users motivated and engaged in their language learning journey. The result? Duolingo boasts a high user retention rate and a loyal following. A social media presence dominated by an unhinged owl helps, too.

Starbucks Rewards

The Starbucks loyalty program is a masterclass in gamification. Users earn stars with every purchase, unlocking rewards and exclusive benefits. This program incentivizes purchases, builds brand loyalty, and encourages repeat visits.

Image showing gamification in UX design.

Sephora Beauty Insider

Sephora’s loyalty program, Beauty Insider, is a prime example of gamification done right. It uses a tiered system with point accumulation and rewards that incentivize purchases and brand loyalty. Members earn points for various actions, like making purchases, leaving reviews, and celebrating their birthdays. These points translate into rewards ranging from exclusive discounts and samples to early access to new products and invitations to special events. The program also incorporates a progress bar element, visually showing members how close they are to reaching the next tier (Insider, VIB, Rouge). It adds a touch of friendly competition and motivates them to keep engaging. This gamified approach fosters a sense of accomplishment and keeps customers returning for more, solidifying Sephora’s position as a leader in the beauty industry.

These examples showcase how gamification can seamlessly integrate into various applications to drive user engagement and achieve business goals.

Ready to help your brand win with gamified UX?

By incorporating gamification principles into your UX design, you can unlock a world of possibilities:

  • Increased user engagement: Gamification keeps users coming back for more, fostering long-term product loyalty.
  • Improved learning and onboarding: Gamified experiences can make learning and onboarding processes more engaging and effective.
  • Enhanced brand advocacy: Positive user experiences fueled by gamification can turn users into brand champions who spread the word.
  • Measurable results: User behavior data from gamified elements provides valuable insights to optimize your UX strategy further.

But wait, there’s more: Best practices for winning results

Here are some key considerations when implementing gamification into your digital product experience:

  • Align with your goals: Ensure gamification elements directly support your overall product objectives. Don’t just add points for the sake of adding points!
  • Keep it relevant: Tailor gamification mechanics to your target audience and the specific actions you want to encourage.
  • Don’t overdo it: Too many bells and whistles can overwhelm users. Keep it simple and seamlessly integrate gamification elements.
  • Measure and iterate: Track user behavior data to see what’s working and what’s not. Be prepared to refine your gamification approach based on insights

By strategically incorporating gamification into your UX design, you can create a more engaging and rewarding experience for your users, ultimately driving success for your business.

Partner with a digital agency that understands gamification

At Tallwave, we believe in the power of gamification to elevate the user experience. Our team of UX design experts can help you develop a gamified digital product strategy that seamlessly integrates with your overall vision and goals. Let’s work together to create a user experience that’s functional, fun, and engaging. We’re waiting to hear from you.

Categories
News Reaching New Customers SEO UX Design

How can businesses benefit from a CDP vs. a CRM?

Think about all the different ways and places you’re interacting with your customers today. They’re visiting your website, interacting with your social channels, seeing your ads, engaging with your sales people, receiving emails from you, participating in loyalty programs, the list goes on. It takes a diverse lineup of tools and platforms to make all those interactions happen, each leveraging different data sets to drive and inform their operations and each creating and collecting data as those interactions happen. 

Data is the lifeblood of modern digital marketing ecosystems. But with the ever-growing data deluge, managing and leveraging it effectively can feel like you’re dealing with a data tsunami. Enter two essential tools: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms and Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). While CRMs have been a mainstay for sales teams for years, CDPs can be game-changers for marketers. Let’s break down their distinct roles and how they can work together to supercharge your marketing efforts.

CRMs: The building blocks for customer relationships

Not only is it true that not all CRMs are created equal, they aren’t all designed to fulfill the exact same roles. In fact, there are 3 main types of CRMs, all of which are designed to enable businesses in different ways:

  • Collaborative CRMs: These are designed to combine and integrate marketing, sales, and customer service data to support a more effectively orchestrated customer journey. They’re used for interaction and channel management to illuminate the customer journey from initial touchpoint to conversion.
  • Analytical CRMs: These are designed to gather and analyze customer data to uncover customer insights. They’re used for data warehousing, mining, and online analytical processing (OLAP) tools to deliver actionable customer insights.
  • Operational CRMs: These are designed to simplify and streamline sales and marketing processes to enable and accelerate the path to conversion. They’re used for automation of marketing and sales activity, CX improvement, and driving to and tracking high-value actions.

More often than not, our clients are using operational CRMs to help sales and marketing teams manage customer interactions and relationships and track, assign, and manage action on leads, opportunities, and accounts. They enable sales teams to nurture and maintain long-term client relationships and maintain a clear view of the sales pipeline. However, it’s important to understand the limitations of CRMs when it comes to marketing:

  • Data silos: CRM data often exists in isolation, offering a snapshot of sales interactions but lacking the broader picture of customer behavior across different channels.
  • Limited personalization: While CRMs might support basic segmentation based on demographics or purchase history, they generally lack the sophisticated data analysis capabilities needed for truly personalized marketing campaigns.
  • Limited activation capabilities: While CRMs can be effective for enabling activation against customer data in channels like email and social, they often don’t offer sufficient capabilities to activate on all the channels marketing campaigns need to enter to meet customers where they are.

CDPs: Helping solve the customer journey Rubik’s Cube for digital marketing success

Remember all those channels and touchpoints where your customers could be engaging with you and all the data being leveraged and created through those interactions? That data is hard to take advantage of when pieces of it live in different places. A CRM might address some of them, but the complete picture, encompassing the full spectrum of customer behavior, remains elusive. This is where a CDP shines. 

For marketing teams, a customer data platform provides a solution for achieving a persistent, unified customer database. CDPs ingest vast amounts of online and offline data from many sources then match and merge this information into a single customer view. This includes:

  • Online and offline channels: Website interactions, purchase history, email clicks, social media engagement, CDPs gather it all, painting a holistic picture of customer activity across digital touchpoints.
  • Transactional data: Purchases, product preferences, abandoned carts, no detail escapes the CDP’s watchful eye, providing insights into customer buying habits and preferences.
  • Behavioral data: Website behavior, content consumption, search queries, CDPs unveil a detailed portrait of customer actions and interests, revealing how they engage with your brand.

This provides businesses with much greater insight into who their customers are and what they’re doing throughout their journeys. But the real value of a CDP is making that multi-source data actionable for marketing teams, giving them the insights they need to reach the right audiences at the right time, with the right message, across multiple channels, empowering them to:

  • Craft laser-focused campaigns: Analyze customer behavior, preferences, and interactions across all touchpoints to deliver personalized messages that resonate deeply. Imagine sending birthday discount codes to loyal customers or recommending products based on their past purchases.
  • Align with buyer needs: Understanding the buyer’s journey is essential for effective marketing. CDPs enable businesses to align their marketing efforts with buyer needs and cycles, ensuring that messaging is timely, relevant, and impactful. For example, if you ran an ecomm puzzle business and found that customers purchasing large, complex puzzles were also consuming blog content puzzle tips and strategies, this insight would allow you to proactively serve up content on advanced puzzle-solving techniques and special offers on puzzle glue designed for large projects.
  • Optimize marketing spend: A CDP can help you track which marketing channels are most effective at reaching your target audience and driving conversions so you can allocate resources efficiently. For example, you might see that your social media ads are generating more sales than your email campaigns and then adjust your budget to allocate more resources to social media advertising. This data-driven approach ensures you get the most bang for your marketing buck.
  • Measure campaign effectiveness: CDPs allow you to track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across all channels to more effectively analyze impact and identify areas for improvement. For example, being able to track how many purchase conversions came from traffic that was generated from specific channels and campaigns allows you to measure ROI and optimization performance across multiple channels.

 A real-life example of a CDP solution

Now that we have outlined some of the business benefits of a CDP, let’s take a look at some concrete examples of how a niche cable provider uses their CDP to improve their business:

CDPs streamline sales and lead management

The company uses a CDP to track and manage sales opportunities across multiple channels, including online inquiries, inbound calls, and retail store visits. The CDP integrates data from various sources, such as website interactions, lead forms, and customer inquiries, to create a unified view of sales prospects within a single system. With all this data in a single system, when a customer submits an online inquiry about cable services, the CDP captures the lead information and assigns it to the appropriate sales representative based on predefined criteria, such as geographic location or service area. The sales representative receives a real-time notification and can follow up with the prospect promptly, updating the lead status and progress within the CDP.

CDPs foster deeper relationships and personalized experiences

They also use their CDP to enhance customer relationships by personalizing interactions and delivering tailored communications based on individual preferences and behaviors. The CDP aggregates data from customer interactions across various touchpoints, including website visits, support calls, and billing inquiries. If a customer contacts the customer service department to inquire about upgrading their service plan, the CDP retrieves the customer’s historical data, including past purchases, service requests, and usage patterns, to provide the representative with a complete view of the customer’s account. Armed with this information, the representative can offer personalized recommendations tailored to the customer’s needs and preferences, such as suggesting a bundled package with additional channels or faster internet speeds.

CDPs can maximize growth

With the CDP, they are able to easily analyze customer data and identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling additional products and services. The CDP leverages built-in predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms to identify customers who are most likely to respond positively to targeted offers and promotions.

For example, when they launched a promotional campaign to encourage existing customers to upgrade to a premium cable package with exclusive sports channels, they used the CDP to identify customers who frequently watch sports-related content and have expressed interest in premium channel packages in the past. The CDP generates personalized offers tailored to each customer’s viewing preferences and history, such as discounted upgrade packages or free trial periods. By targeting the right customers with the right offers at the right time on the right communication channel, the cable provider can drive revenue growth and increase customer satisfaction.

Integrating CDPs and CRMs for enhanced insights

While CDPs and CRMs offer distinct functionalities, integrating these platforms can unlock powerful insights and synergies:

  • Deeper data integration: Seamlessly integrating CDP and CRM systems allows businesses to leverage customer data effectively across the entire organization. By breaking down data silos and enabling cross-functional collaboration, integration enhances visibility, efficiency, and decision-making.
  • Supercharged segmentation and targeting: Rich customer data from CDPs and CRMs enables businesses to create targeted segments based on demographic, behavioral, and psychographic attributes. By tailoring messaging and offers to specific audience segments, marketers can increase relevance and engagement, driving higher conversion rates and ROI. Especially when it comes to targeting, utilizing your existing first-party customer data is likely to yield a much more accurate view of lookalike audiences for example versus purchasing these audiences from a third party.
  • Powered-up personalization: Personalization is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have for modern marketers. CDPs and CRMs empower businesses to deliver personalized experiences at scale by leveraging AI and machine learning algorithms to analyze customer data, predict preferences, and automate content delivery across multiple channels.
  • Leveled-up lifecycle marketing: Customer journeys are complex and nonlinear, spanning multiple touchpoints and channels. CDPs and CRMs enable businesses to orchestrate personalized, omnichannel marketing campaigns that guide customers through the entire lifecycle, from awareness to advocacy.

Navigating ethical considerations and data privacy

CDPs are central to the ongoing and real-time collection, storage, and utilization of customer data for marketing purposes. As such, they play a crucial role in the age of data privacy regulations and heightened consumer awareness. It is critical to ensure ethical considerations and data privacy practices are upheld within marketing strategies according to the following:

  • Transparency and consent: CDPs aggregate data from various sources, including customer interactions, transactions, and engagements. Marketers leverage this comprehensive view of customer data to personalize marketing campaigns and improve customer experiences. However, to do so ethically, businesses must ensure that customers are fully informed about how their data is collected, used, and protected within the CDP. This transparency fosters trust between businesses and customers, enhancing the legitimacy of data-driven marketing efforts facilitated by the CDP.
  • Data security and compliance: Protecting customer data is not only a legal requirement but also a moral imperative. Businesses must implement robust security measures and comply with data protection regulations to safeguard customer information from unauthorized access, breaches, and misuse.
  • Fairness and bias mitigation: AI and machine learning algorithms have the potential to perpetuate biases and discrimination if not carefully monitored and mitigated. Businesses must ensure fairness and equity in algorithmic decision-making by regularly auditing models, testing for bias, and implementing corrective measures.

Implementing CRMs and CDPs with a dedicated partner 

CDPs and CRMs are complementary and indispensable tools and can be a powerful duo in a business’s digital marketing toolbox. While CRMs excel at managing customer interactions and sales activities and providing a record of individual customer journeys, CDPs illuminate customer behaviors across all touchpoints, drive more nuanced customer segmentation, and activate marketing efforts against customer data across all channels at scale. When used together, they offer a holistic view of the customer, enabling marketers to craft highly targeted campaigns, personalize content and offers, and optimize marketing spend.

However, it’s crucial to choose CDPs that integrate seamlessly with existing CRMs and to invest in the data discovery—requirements gathering, data architecture, and data classification and mapping—and data retrieval and harmonization efforts required to ensure smooth data flow, avoid creating data silos, and set your implementation up for success. It’s also important to adopt a responsible approach to data management that prioritizes transparency, security, and fairness to uphold ethical standards and foster customer trust. An experienced partner can help you unlock the combined data-driven power of a CDP and CRM to fuel higher performing digital marketing strategies while applying responsible practices for data privacy. ready to build out your business use cases for implementing a CRM or a CDP, or integrating the two, let’s talk.

Categories
CRO Customer Engagement Paid Media Product Design Reaching New Customers SEO

Small wins, big results: How Marginal Gains Theory supports significant growth

The pressure to deliver outstanding results can feel immense in today’s digital business landscape. Marketers strive for significant campaign performance boosts and consistent growth. But what if the key to achieving these goals lies not in sweeping changes, but in a series of small, strategic improvements?

This is the philosophy behind Marginal Gains Theory. Popularized by British cycling’s dramatic performance improvement under coach Sir Dave Brailsford, it suggests that by focusing on a multitude of minor optimizations, you can unlock a surprising level of overall success. Imagine shaving off a few seconds here or optimizing a specific keyword phrase there—these seemingly insignificant tweaks, when combined, can lead to a substantial competitive edge and transformative improvement.

What can a strategy focused on marginal gains mean for marketers?

The pursuit of continuous, incremental improvement is a cornerstone of business success. While major breakthroughs are exciting, it’s often the seemingly insignificant adjustments that unlock significant progress. Marginal Gains Theory embodies this philosophy.

At Tallwave, we embrace this philosophy. We meticulously analyze and refine every step of the business journey, from initial brand awareness to user experience optimization, SEO strategies, and post-purchase communication. We believe in the power of “sweating the small stuff” to achieve significant results.

Here’s how marketers and other business leaders can apply Marginal Gains Theory to achieve incremental gains that add up to major impact:

Focus on measurable improvements

By tracking key metrics and focusing on areas with the most significant impact, you can ensure your incremental optimization efforts are targeted and effective.

Prioritize efficiency

Small tweaks don’t require massive investments of time or resources. Putting focus on those allows you to experiment more frequently, identify winning strategies faster, and optimize your marketing efforts with greater efficiency.

Build sustainable growth

The beauty of implementing tactics that encourage marginal gains lies in their cumulative effect. By consistently making small improvements across various marketing channels, you can create a sustainable growth trajectory for your brand and marketing efforts.

Foster a culture of experimentation

A strategy focused on marginal gains and small wins encourages a culture of experimentation and continuous learning within your marketing team. This fosters creativity, data-driven decision-making, and a willingness to test and iterate for optimal results.

Reduce risk

Large-scale marketing changes can be risky and expensive. By focusing on smaller, more manageable optimizations, you minimize potential downsides while maximizing the potential for positive outcomes.

Establish a long-term competitive advantage

In today’s dynamic marketing landscape, the ability to adapt and improve is crucial. By embracing a strategy focused on marginal gains, you develop a strategic advantage by constantly refining your approach and staying ahead of the curve.

Prioritizing incremental and iterative improvements empowers marketers to achieve significant results through a series of small, data-driven enhancements. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, but the consistent pursuit of continuous optimization can create marketing strategies that deliver exceptional results over the long term.

How can we apply Marginal Gains Theory in digital experience optimization?

Through our digital experience optimization (DXO) work with a diverse client base, we’ve found many opportunities to implement small changes that have a significant impact on improving conversion rates, lead generation, and full-funnel strategy growth.

Here are a few areas where we can turn the concept of marginal gains into tangible tactics:

Technical touch points and website health

When it comes to your website, every millisecond counts. Here are some tactics that can continually improve how users (and search engines) might interact with your site:

  • Implement caching mechanisms: This allows your server to store frequently accessed data, reducing the load time for returning visitors.
  • Optimize image sizes: Large, uncompressed images can significantly slow down your website. Use tools to compress images without sacrificing quality.
  • Minify code: This involves removing unnecessary characters and spaces from your website’s code, resulting in a smaller file size that loads faster.
  • Leverage a content delivery network (CDN): A CDN stores copies of your website’s content across geographically distributed servers. This ensures faster loading times for users around the world.

A/B testing and understanding what words work

Don’t underestimate the power of tweaking your website’s headlines and calls to action (CTAs).  Here are some tactics that can produce marginal gains through A/B tests:

  • Test small variations in wording: Focus on specific elements within your headline or CTA, like changing a verb or adding a power word.
  • Track user engagement: Use heatmaps and analytics tools to see where users are focusing their attention and how they respond to different headlines and CTAs.
  • Embrace data-driven decisions: A/B testing allows you to experiment and identify the most effective messaging for your audience. Even a minor improvement in click-through rate can translate to a significant increase in leads over time.

Friction-fighting forms

Analyze your website forms and eliminate unnecessary fields. Here are some tactics to achieve small wins:

  • Identify essential information: Only ask for the information absolutely necessary to qualify a lead. Every additional field creates friction and discourages users from completing the form.
  • Pre-populate fields when possible: Use cookies or autofill features to pre-populate fields with information users have already provided. This reduces the amount of typing required and streamlines the process.
  • Offer clear value propositions: Explain why users should provide their information. Highlight the benefits they’ll receive in exchange for completing the form.
  • Simplify form design: Use clear labels, intuitive layouts, and avoid CAPTCHAs whenever possible. A user-friendly form experience encourages completion.

Data-driven SEO and content optimization

Leverage website analytics and data strategy to identify high-performing content and low-performing pages. Earn marginal gains through:

  • Topic cluster optimization: Identify high-performing content and create supporting content that dives deeper into specific aspects of the topic.
  • Content refresh: Update existing content with fresh information, keywords, statistics, and visuals to maintain user engagement.
  • Internal linking: Link relevant content pieces together to improve website navigation and user experience. This also helps distribute link juice and improve search engine ranking.
  • Optimize for user intent: Analyze user search queries and optimize your content to address their specific needs and pain points.

Laser-focused landing pages 

Make sure your landing pages are laser-focused on a single conversion goal.

  • Clear CTAs: Each landing page should have a clear and prominent CTA that tells users exactly what action you want them to take.
  • Targeted messaging: Craft compelling and targeted messaging that aligns with the offer or lead magnet on your landing page.
  • Clutter-free design: Avoid distractions and maintain a clean, user-friendly layout that guides visitors toward the desired conversion action.
  • Mobile responsiveness: Ensure your landing pages are optimized for mobile devices as a significant portion of website traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets.

Unleash the power of experimentation and iteration with marginal gains

The beauty of Marginal Gains Theory lies in its continuous improvement mindset. By consistently monitoring data, identifying areas for optimization, and implementing small changes, you create a culture of iterative improvement that can significantly impact your marketing results over time. 

Want to know more about how small wins add up to big improvements? See our case study about how we helped an e-commerce company double revenue in just three months.

Ready to play a long game of small wins?

Marketing success rarely happens overnight. It’s the result of a consistent effort, a commitment to data-driven decision making, and a relentless pursuit of improvement. By embracing the philosophy of marginal gains, you can transform your marketing strategy from a series of random acts to a well-oiled machine of continuous optimization.


At Tallwave, we believe in thoughtful rigor and sweating the small stuff, just like Sir Dave Brailsford did when he coined Marginal Gains Theory. Let’s talk about the big growth we can drive with small improvements.

Categories
News Reaching New Customers SEO

Reddit for SEO: Why user-generated content dominates search results

Is it just me, or DAE wonder why Reddit has become such a significant holder of SERP real estate? As a user and consumer, I’ve increasingly noticed that Reddit forums dominate the results I see for product and service-based queries, and as an ever-curious SEO and content strategist, I need to know why.

So, what’s happening here? Why has Reddit emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the SEO game? And what does this mean for us as marketers? Brace yourselves: we’re about to explore the complex and evolving world of Reddit and SEO, as well as the profound impact “the front page of the Internet” has on how users seek and interact with information.

ELI5: What even is Reddit?

Before we delve into the “why,” let’s quickly recap what Reddit is for those unfamiliar with this online behemoth.

Think of Reddit as a massive, decentralized forum where users create and share content on a wide range of topics. These communities, called subreddits, cover everything from news and technology to niche hobbies and local interests. Personally, I’ve used Reddit to discuss SEO news and trends with my professional cohorts, find volunteer opportunities in my community, and, most recently, connect with a fellow “elder emo” music fan to snag a ticket to a very much sold-out show for a “bucket list” band. Simply put, there’s something for everyone (YMMV on concert tickets).

Reddit’s diverse user base has more than 267.5 million weekly active users, solidifying its position online as a veritable melting pot of voices and perspectives. This rich and varied audience actively engages with all kinds of content, creating a dynamic platform where discussions and user-generated content (UGC) reign supreme.

Why is Reddit taking over search results?

Now, onto the juicy part: why is Reddit suddenly showing up everywhere in search results? Here are a few key factors contributing to its rise:

The power of user-generated content

In its relentless pursuit of providing the best user experience, Google’s algorithm increasingly values authentic, unbiased, and people-first content. Reddit thrives on UGC, offering a treasure trove of real-world opinions, experiences, and insights that traditional websites often lack. This authenticity resonates with search engines, making Reddit a valuable source of information.

Diversity and depth of content

Reddit covers a mind-boggling range of topics, with in-depth discussions and detailed information on virtually anything you can imagine. This depth allows Reddit to address long-tail keywords and niche queries with a level of specificity that traditional websites might struggle to match.

Community-driven authority

Reddit thrives on user engagement. Upvotes, downvotes, and discussions within subreddits organically signal the value and relevance of content. This community-driven authority system likely helps Google identify high-quality, trustworthy information.

The Reddit IPO effect

While maybe not a direct cause, Reddit’s recent IPO may have contributed to its increased visibility in search results. With heightened public interest and media attention, Google might be placing a greater emphasis on crawling and indexing Reddit content.

TIL why Reddit matters for marketers and SEOs

So, what does this Reddit SEO phenomenon mean for us as marketers and SEO professionals? A lot. In fact, you might think of Reddit’s rise in SEO and SERP positioning as both an opportunity and a challenge:

  • Opportunity: Reddit offers a powerful platform to connect with real users, gather valuable insights, and build brand awareness. Engaging with relevant subreddits allows you to participate in organic conversations, address customer concerns, and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
  • Challenge: Reddit is a community-driven platform with strict guidelines and Reddiquette, not a marketing playground. Spammy tactics or self-promotion will be met with swift backlash. Building trust and providing genuine value are required for a visibility victory on Reddit.

Case in point: How brands are rocking Reddit

Is your brand up for the challenge? You’ll find success stories from brands like Nordstrom, Toyota, and Xbox One that have implemented effective Reddit engagement strategies.

Spotify was a pioneer on the platform. In 2014, the music streaming service created a branded account and sparked a virtual thread asking users to share the most emotionally impactful songs in their lives, and ended up with more than 10,000 responses. Leveraging this user-generated content, Spotify made a unique playlist, demonstrating their understanding of their audience and building trust within the Reddit community. 

Other examples of brands taking on the Reddit challenge:

  • Toyota: They’ve tapped into Reddit communities like r/forumla1, r/cars, and r/trucks, providing helpful content and insights from their engineers, fostering trust and brand loyalty among car enthusiasts.
  • Xbox One: By actively participating in gaming subreddits, hosting AMA (ask me anything) sessions with game developers, and addressing user concerns directly, Xbox One has built a strong community around its brand.

But wait, there’s more. Reddit’s presence at CES 2024 walked marketers through how their platform is an essential touchpoint on the customer journey with an activation called “Key to Context.” The hands-on walk-through experience showed how instrumental the platform was in a car-buying experience and unlocked opportunities for brands to engage with consumers through UGC and strategically promoted posts.

Who owns brand Reddit strategy? It’s a team effort

While Reddit engagement might fall outside typical job descriptions, brands can create a “Reddit village” for success. This village includes passionate brand advocates (including employees, partners, and even consumers), community managers who curate content, and SEO/content teams who translate Reddit insights into broader strategies.

LPT: 5 ways to use Reddit for SEO and online visibility

Now, the million-dollar question: how can we leverage Reddit’s SEO potential within the spirit of the platform’s core values? I’ve got a few pro tips and ideas from my experience and research, as well as those collected from the SEO hivemind.

  1. Find your niche: Identify relevant subreddits where your target audience actively engages. Research their interests, common discussions, the language they are using (linguistic profiling), and the overall tone of the community.
  2. Become a valuable contributor: Don’t just drop in and promote your brand. Actively participate in discussions, share your expertise, and answer user questions genuinely. Provide insightful comments and contribute valuable content that benefits the community.
  3. Focus on long-tail keywords: Reddit excels at long-tail queries due to its in-depth discussions. Optimize your content for these specific keywords to increase your chances of appearing in relevant search results.
  4. Embrace UGC: Encourage users to share their experiences with your products or services within relevant subreddits. This organic UGC can be incredibly powerful for building trust and brand sentiment.
  5. Track and analyze: Monitor your Reddit activity and track the impact on your SEO metrics. Use tools like Semrush and Google Analytics 4 to measure organic traffic and identify which subreddits and posts drive the most engagement.

TL;DR: Reddit and SEO success requires a long-term, user-centric approach

Reddit’s growing prominence in search results is a testament to the power of user-generated content and authentic online communities. As marketers and SEOs, we must adapt our strategies to embrace this shift. Success on Reddit comes from building genuine relationships, providing value, and becoming a trusted member of the community.

Leveraging Reddit in your online footprint is a long-term integrated digital marketing game, not a quick SEO win. But by approaching Reddit with a user-centric mindset and focusing on providing value, you can tap into its immense potential and elevate your brand to new heights.

Ready to talk about Reddit and SEO? We are. Let’s connect.

Categories
News Reaching New Customers SEO Strategy

Let’s talk about voice search optimization

Picture this voice search scenario: you’re elbow-deep in flour and cocoa powder, trying to satisfy a late-night chocolate craving by testing out a new recipe for killer brownies. However, as you’re about to mix up the wet ingredients, you realize there’s only one egg left in the carton when the recipe calls for two. If you’re like me and many others, your next move is to call out and ask a smart speaker for help. 

And depending on your intent and your preferred device, your pleas might sound like any of the following:

  • “Hey Siri, what’s a good substitute for eggs in a brownie recipe?”
  • “Alexa, can I order some eggs online for same-day delivery?”
  • “Hey Google, how do I get to the nearest bakery with brownies?”
  • “Hey Bixby, what are the top-rated brownie places closest to me?”
  • “Cortana, are any grocery stores near me open right now?”

In this moment of utter desperation, you’ve just proven the value of voice search optimization for queries with all kinds of search intents: informational, transactional, navigational, commercial, and even local. Data from Juniper Research suggests that consumers will interact with voice search on more than 8.4 billion devices by the end of 2024, doubled from just 4.2 billion devices in 2020. 

With so many devices in use and consumers seeking answers, voice search optimization is an increasingly important consideration in a robust digital marketing strategy.

Why should voice search optimization be part of your digital strategy?

It’s a scary truth: ignoring voice search will leave a giant chunk of potential customers on the table. Here are a few of the reasons why you should jump on the voice search optimization bandwagon.

Voice search is everywhere

More than a quarter of all searches in the Google App are conducted by voice. This presents a massive opportunity to reach new audiences who are actively seeking information and making purchases through voice commands on their smartphones and mobile devices.

Voice searches are high-intent and convert

Voice search queries tend to be more specific and have higher conversion rates compared to traditional text searches. It’s estimated that voice search generated over $40 billion in 2023, and that number is still on the rise in 2024. People using voice search are often closer to making a purchase decision, making it an important part of the sales funnel.

Voice search optimization improves brand awareness

Optimizing for voice search can help your brand appear in those coveted “featured snippets” displayed at the top of search results. This increases brand visibility and establishes you as a trusted source of information.

Voice search is rapidly becoming the preferred method of search, especially for mobile users. By optimizing now, you’ll be ahead of the curve and ready to capitalize on this growing trend.

What factors impact voice search rankings?

Remember our late-night brownie crisis? Imagine how many other people ask similar questions with their voice assistants every day. Optimizing your website for voice search boils down to understanding how people speak, not just how they type.

Here’s some of the secret sauce behind how voice search optimization works:

Keywords vs. natural language

Forget stuffing your website with generic keywords. Voice search users ask questions in a natural, conversational way. Think “How do I…?” or “What are the best…?” Optimizing for long-tail keywords and natural language phrases is key.

Local optimization

“Hey Siri, find a bakery near me” are powerful words for local businesses, especially those who cater to consumers on the go. Voice search in cars is rapidly replacing the center touch screen in our cars, with Volkswagen even integrating ChatGPT into its vehicles for the 2024 model year.

Mobile-first indexing

Because most voice searches happen on mobile devices, prioritizing a mobile-friendly website is crucial. Fast loading times, a user-friendly interface, and clear click-to-call buttons are all essential elements.

Structured data markup

Think of this as labeling your website’s content for search engines. Structured data and schema markup help search engines understand what your website is about and can improve your chances of appearing in rich voice search results. For example, a recipe website could use structured data to highlight ingredients, cooking times, and nutritional information.

How is voice search optimization different from traditional SEO?

We all know that SEO is here to stay. It remains the foundation of a strong online presence, ensuring your website is crawlable, indexable, and relevant for search terms. However, voice search optimization takes SEO a step further and into the future. 

Here’s a tasty analogy: traditional SEO is like your brownie base. You focus on high-quality ingredients (relevant keywords), precise measurements (on-page optimization), and a solid baking technique (website structure). This ensures a delicious foundation for your brownies. Voice search optimization is like adding the finishing touches to your brownies. You sprinkle on user intent with long-tail keywords and natural language phrases. You might then add a layer of conversational content, ensuring it’s clear and answers user questions directly. Finally, you can even consider adding some “voice search sprinkles” like schema markup for extra flavor and improved search ranking.

How to optimize a website for voice search

Are you ready to start a conversation with your customers and stand out in voice search results? 

Here are some actionable tips to get you started with voice search optimization, building on the strong foundation of your existing SEO strategy:

  • Focus on conversational AI: As voice search technology continues to evolve, consider how conversational AI can enhance your website’s user experience and inform voice search responses.
  • Conduct keyword research with a twist: Look at all kinds of keywords in your research but focus on long-tail and natural language phrases people might use in questions.
  • Consider content a conversation: Think of your website content as a conversation with a real person. Use natural language, answer questions directly, and address user intent.
  • Embrace long-form content: In-depth content that provides comprehensive answers to user queries is valuable for voice search.
  • Optimize for featured snippets: Aim to get your website featured in the coveted answer box at the top of search results. Focus on concise answers to frequently asked questions.
  • Prioritize local SEO: Since many voice searches have local intent (“find a restaurant near me”), optimizing your local SEO strategy is crucial. Ensure a consistent brand voice and accurate information across local listings like Google Business Profile, Yelp, and Apple Maps.
  • Implement schema markup: Structured data markup helps search engines understand your content and can improve your chances of appearing in rich voice search results.

By implementing these tactics and building on your ongoing SEO strategy, you can optimize your website for voice search and capture conversational users with a variety of search intents at varying positions in the conversion funnel.

Remember, the goal is to be there when those late-night brownie cravings (or any other search queries) strike, providing users with the information and resources they need through the power of their voice.

Is voice search optimization on the tip of your tongue? We’ve got ideas to keep the conversation rolling. See how Tallwave can support your digital endeavors with integrated marketing services and more. Let’s chat.

Categories
CRO Customer Engagement News Paid Media Reaching New Customers SEO Uncategorized

The rise of social shopping: How your feed becomes your marketplace

The way consumers interact with brands has undergone a significant transformation with the growing popularity of social ecommerce. This emerging form of shopping allows consumers to explore products and complete transactions through social media while creating a more engaging consumer journey and presenting new opportunities for brands to capture consumer interest. What once served as platforms for sharing photos, connecting with friends, and staying updated on the latest trends have now transformed into dynamic marketplaces where users can seamlessly transition from liking a product to making a purchase, all within the same app.

The emergence of social ecommerce

Online shopping has seen substantial growth thanks to the swift expansion of social ecommerce.  Global regions like China are setting the social ecommerce bar high for all brands by hosting 2-hour live shopping experiences on Tik Tok, and by creating augmented reality (AR) lenses on Snapchat that allow social shoppers to “try-on” items and share with friends. These sales-generating trends have illuminated a social shopping opportunity that the US has begun to emulate, leading to an increase of social shopping. McKinsey estimates that by 2025, social commerce in the US will have generated about $80 billion in sales (up from $37 billion in 2021) and global sales will have exceeded $2 trillion.

Social platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat have integrated social ecommerce capabilities into their user experiences. Instagram’s ecommerce shop feature is essentially a storefront housed inside of the platform, making it easier for consumers to find and buy things featured in their feeds by enabling businesses to tag products in their posts and stories. In a similar vein, TikTok has debuted shoppable livestreams, which enable brands to showcase their goods in real time and enable instant transactions. This in turn allows customers to communicate with content creators directly during the live streams so they can ask questions about the featured products. This convenience creates a better customer experience that drives incremental sales. 

Customer behavior and mobile-first shopping 

The popularity of mobile shopping is another element fueling the expansion of social ecommerce. Through the use of mobile phones, consumers can link directly and immediately to brands, which in turn enables personalized recommendations as well as targeted ads and real-time promotions. Social media platforms are internet marketplaces where users can explore products, read reviews, or even interact with different brands in a single interface. Basically, social media apps have made it very easy for people to browse, share, and buy products, making shopping more accessible and convenient than ever before thereby completely changing the retail landscape. With social media platforms evolving to become more mobile-friendly and creating mobile-first experiences through their apps, the influence of mobile shopping is expected to further accelerate, shaping the future of ecommerce.

Blurring boundaries: Content and social ecommerce strategy 

In the contemporary digital world, remarkable social media content is critical in creating interest, user engagement, and subsequent purchases. Top-tier content incorporates helpful visuals, enlightening videos, and captivating product stories that go beyond basic product descriptions and feature lists to forge emotional bonds with customers. This blend is crucial for grabbing user attention and fostering trust. Leveraging targeted messaging, product tagging, and in-app showcases, brands can bring their offerings to life, highlighting their distinctive value propositions while tackling consumer concerns head-on. Additionally, user-generated content, plus real-life testimonials, helps boost credibility and influence purchasing choices made by consumers. Great social media contents enable brands to develop close relationships with customers, thus enhancing brand loyalty as well as conversion rates all through the immersive world of social ecommerce.

Know your customers: Social shopping by generation 

It is important to note that each generation views and utilizes social media shopping differently. Hubspot compiled data on generational shopping habits over a three-month period and unveiled how each generation shops on social media platforms, which can be used to inform marketing strategies. According to Hubspot, Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X exhibit more enthusiasm for shopping via social media platforms compared to Baby Boomers. Gen Z takes the lead with 23%, closely followed by Millennials at 21%. In contrast, Gen X accounts for 13%, while Baby Boomers lag significantly behind at 3%. Among those interested in online shopping, 28% of Gen Z and Millennials have made direct purchases through social media, with 18% of Gen X also participating, whereas only 4% of Boomers engage in social shopping.

Gen Z is dominating the realm of social shopping. This is probably in part because they grew up in such a technologically advanced era. This generation is using social media platforms as search engines in order to discover brands and their shopping behavior indicates that though they are buying fewer items, they are buying items with a high value. For all generations, posting high quality content on organic and paid social media channels, setting up social media storefronts, and tagging products are great ways to build trust, especially with the Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers who browse but do not always commit to making a purchase on social platforms. It’s important to remember that even if social ecommerce isn’t the preferred channel for transacting purchases, it can be an important part of the path to purchase in other channels. So a good social ecommerce strategy is cross-generational.

Challenges and considerations for brands

Social ecommerce, the amalgamation of social media and ecommerce, represents a dynamic frontier for brands seeking innovative ways to connect with consumers and optimize their marketing strategies. As with any new frontier, there will be both opportunities and bumpy roads ahead. 

Through data analytics and tracking tools embedded in social platforms, social ecommerce provides valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences for brands. This information includes user interactions and engagement patterns as well as purchasing history that can help companies identify opportunities for improvement. Effective businesses will often use this data to segment their target audience so they can deliver content that has been personalized to meet individual tastes and wants. As a result, businesses develop stronger customer relationships resulting in brand loyalty.

However, despite its promises, social ecommerce also presents a range of challenges. One significant hurdle is the saturation and competitiveness of social media platforms, which makes it difficult for brands to cut through noise and attract consumer attention. One way for brands to do this is by doubling down on personalization to ensure relevance and increase the likelihood of grabbing consumers’ attention. Additionally, ever-changing algorithms adopted by different networks together with rules governing advertising create another, requiring companies to continuously realign their tactics. One potential solution is for brands to focus on building a strong foundation for their marketing strategy. This may include: 

  • Diversifying advertising on social platforms: This can help mitigate the impact of sudden algorithm changes on any single platform.
  • Audience engagement: Actively engaging with the audience on social media can help brands build a strong community that will continue to engage with their content regardless of algorithm changes, mitigating the impact.
  • Analytics and data: Regularly analyze advertising data and performance by conducting A/B testing to understand what strategies are most effective. This data-driven approach can help you optimize your tactics in response to algorithm changes.

Moreover, privacy concerns and data security issues are paramount considerations in the realm of social ecommerce. When collecting consumer information for personalization purposes, transparency, consent, and data protection must be observed to maintain consumer trust and compliance with regulatory requirements. If not properly addressed, these issues can not only damage the reputation of a brand but also lead to legal implications. Brands that wish to use social ecommerce should therefore put in place strong data governance practices and ethical principles so that they may protect consumer privacy while enhancing trust with consumers. 

Read more: Is SEO the secret to social media success? It could be.

Even though there are numerous opportunities for brands to foster engagement and sales through social ecommerce, marketers must exercise strategic, holistic approaches that consider both opportunities and potential obstacles.

Embrace the social media shopping revolution

The emergence of social ecommerce signifies a paradigm change in the way companies interact with customers and conduct online sales. Marketers can turn their feeds into dynamic markets that increase engagement, encourage loyalty, and increase revenue by utilizing social media’s power and embracing social shopping technologies. With the boundaries between social media and ecommerce becoming increasingly hazy, the future of shopping is in our hands as our feeds transform into virtual marketplaces.

Are you ready to grow your strategy for marketing? Get in contact with us, and together, we can begin converting your social feed into a dynamic marketplace that drives results. 

Categories
CRO Customer Engagement Paid Media Reaching New Customers SEO

The road to victory: Paid media strategies in an election and Olympic year

For a few months every four years, the U.S. presidential election and Summer Olympics dominate the media landscape and create major challenges for advertisers trying to establish reach, maintain ad frequency, and meet cost per acquisition (CPA) goals. From roughly mid-July to early November, election campaigns and Olympic promotions overtake ad inventory, limiting supply and driving up costs for other advertisers. 

In 2020, the Tokyo Olympics attracted $2.25 billion in U.S. ad revenue and the U.S. election cycle totaled an unprecedented $2.5 billion of ad revenue. And that’s just for TV ads! With all of that extra competition in the market, breaking through the clutter and maintaining effective reach and frequency without breaking the bank becomes a major challenge for most advertisers.

Let’s explore how a thoughtful election- and Olympic-year paid media strategy can help you emerge victorious from this quagmire. After all, who doesn’t love a good underdog story?

Politics and pentathlons: The negative impacts on marketing

Before we discuss strategy, it’s important to understand what is at risk during these quadrennial events. Here are some of the ways your current paid media plan might feel the impact of the election/Olympic year:

Limited inventory

Channels like traditional broadcast, out-of-home (billboards, transit, airport advertising, etc.), and even CTV, have a finite amount of ad inventory. As politicians, advocacy groups, super PACs, the Olympic Games, and the likes buy up ad inventory, it becomes a challenge for other advertisers to secure inventory for themselves. 

For election candidate advertising specifically, the FCC requires broadcast stations and cable systems to charge legally qualified candidates the lowest unit prices, making TV advertising more affordable, and increasing the likelihood of those candidates purchasing a lot of inventory. Additionally, because candidates are guaranteed the lowest unit price that other customers receive, this means that you likely won’t be able to secure any zero-cost added value spots during this time.

In an effort to treat competing candidates fairly, the FCC also requires broadcast stations to abide by the “equal time” rule. This means that if one candidate gets a spot in the 6p news, the other candidates must also be able to receive a similar spot. As such, many non-political advertisers get preempted (“bumped”) during this time and may not receive makegoods during the desired window. This rule makes it especially challenging for advertisers who are operating within very specific promotional windows.

With political and Olympic ads taking over the airwaves, it becomes difficult for other advertisers to secure any ad inventory at all, yet alone enough to maintain an effective reach and frequency that will grow brand awareness or compel action from potential customers.

Cluttered ad space

As politics and Olympic promotion overtake traditional advertising outlets, many non-political and Olympic advertisers will move into the digital realm to secure inventory and lock in flat rates. The political and Olympic advertisers will be here too by the way. As you can imagine (or have experienced first hand in years past), the digital marketplace becomes inundated with heated political messaging and inspirational (usually sports-themed) stories, on top of all the normal ad clutter. 

It can be extremely challenging to break through all this noise. Consumers often get overwhelmed by excessive advertising, making it less likely that they will engage with or be influenced by ads.

Increased costs

While broadcast stations are required to keep costs low for advertisers, digital channels are not. Costs on Google, Meta, and other auction-based platforms will surge as competition increases. Cost per clicks (CPCs) and cost per conversions (CPAs) will increase as advertisers bid against each other to win ad space. Target CPAs are going to take more work to hit as each impression becomes significantly more expensive to secure. While you can still serve ads within a set budget, your paid media dollars won’t go nearly as far in auction-based platforms as they normally would outside the election and Olympic seasons.

Taking the podium: Overcome obstacles with a winning strategy

While the challenges that exist during an election and Olympic year may seem daunting, it’s not too late to implement a winning strategy. Strategically planning ahead can help mitigate these challenges:

Adapt your channel strategy

Perhaps the most obvious response to the challenges highlighted above would be to adjust your paid media channel strategy. The limited inventory on traditional broadcast channels will make it difficult to maintain an effective reach and frequency and auction-based digital platforms will experience increased costs. While you may not want to exclude these channels altogether, consider countering those challenges by:

  • Secure broadcast sponsorships and packages: These often guarantee a minimum number of impressions without the possibility of being preempted.
  • Extend your broadcast impressions with digital video and streaming audio: These channels have more inventory and often allow you to negotiate flat CPM rates.
  • Invest in podcasts: Podcasts break through the clutter by speaking to highly engaged listeners.
  • Incorporate flat-rate digital platforms: Plan ahead and collaborate with digital partners that will guarantee flat CPM/CPC pricing to avoid the increased bidding costs.

Understand your audience

As inventory shrinks and costs rise, efficiency is key. Don’t let your advertising dollars go to waste serving impressions to people outside your audience. 

Many marketers use demographics to define their target audience, but demographics have little to do with why a person takes a particular action. Well ahead of the Opening Ceremonies and primary elections, consider investing in values-based persona research to more clearly define who your audience is and what motivates them so that you can tailor your messaging and creative accordingly. Effective ad messaging and creative that resonates with your audience will help break through the ad clutter and drive action during a time when consumers are faced with significant distractions.

Additionally, make sure you’re investing in your first-party data to understand consumer behavior. Today, marketers collect more data than ever before, but often struggle to harness the power of that data in a way that yields actionable insights. Effective data quality management enables you to analyze the right data points that help you understand your customer, enhance their experiences, and optimize campaigns for more efficient and effective results.

Invest in Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy is the insurance policy for any paid media plan. A strong paid media strategy can drive significant traffic to a landing page, but if users are met with a poor website experience, they might leave without converting, thus creating a leaky bucket situation. A strategic CRO program systematically tests various iterations of website design and functionality to weed out points of friction and increase conversion rates. 

By investing in CRO strategy ahead of the election and Olympic year, you can help prevent valuable paid media traffic from trickling away pre-conversion during that time when paid media traffic is more expensive and harder to come by. During election and Olympic years, when digital costs increase and consumer attention is being directed elsewhere, decreases in conversion rates are almost guaranteed. An effective CRO strategy will help offset the anticipated decrease in conversion rates.

Learn more about CRO and other Integrated Digital Marketing Services from Tallwave.

Emerge victorious

Strategically planning ahead is key to ensuring strong paid media performance during election and Olympic years. Ready to get started? Let Tallwave help you get the most out of your paid media budget this election and Olympic year.

Categories
News SEO Strategy

The future is now: Leveraging AI prompt engineering

Ever felt like you’ve squeezed every creative drop out of your content calendar? Struggling to brainstorm fresh campaign ideas? Need help turning numbers into actionable insight? Welcome to the age of AI prompt engineering, a technique that empowers you to unlock the potential of powerful generative AI tools.

Think of tools like ChatGPT, Bard, or Copilot as the next evolution of search engines. Instead of simply returning relevant web pages, they can generate creative text formats, translate languages, write different kinds of creative content, complete complex math equations, and even assist with coding tasks — all based on the prompts you provide.

What is prompt engineering?

Imagine having a powerful conversation partner with access to a vast library of information. This is essentially what you get with AI-powered language models. However, just like any good conversation, the quality of the interaction hinges on how you initiate it. This is where prompt engineering comes in.

Prompts are the instructions you provide to the AI, guiding it toward the specific outcome you desire. The more precise and well-crafted your prompt is, the more helpful and relevant the AI’s response will be.

Think of it like searching a library. A vague query like “find something interesting” will yield a mountain of irrelevant results. However, a focused prompt like “find books on the history of artificial intelligence published in the last year that are also available in ebook format” leads you directly to the information you seek.

These language models are trained on massive amounts of text data, giving them the ability to predict the next word in a sequence and understand the nuances of human conversation. They learn and adapt as you interact with them. That’s why providing the right prompt from the outset is crucial for unlocking the full potential of this powerful technology.

How are content marketers using prompt engineering in 2024?

One of generative AI’s most relied-on (and perhaps most controversial) uses in 2024 is content creation. Simple AI tools like Grammarly can run spelling and copy-editing checks, but a handful of tools take things a huge step further. Consider the following benefits of using AI for content creation, along with some engineered AI prompts that might help inspire content creators when using generative tools like ChatGPT:

Streamline content creation

Prompt-based AI can help you brainstorm new blog posts, generate product descriptions, craft engaging social media captions, and even write website copy in different tones and styles. 

Example prompts for content creation: 

  • “Create a listicle blog post with 10 engaging tips for businesses to leverage social media marketing in 2024.”
  • “Write a personalized email campaign for customers who haven’t purchased in the past three months, offering exclusive deals and re-engaging them with our brand.”
AI prompts can support content creation.

Banish writer’s block

Hit a creative wall? AI can help you jumpstart your writing process. Use it to generate outlines, suggest alternative phrasing, simplify technical terms, or even draft entire sections based on your initial ideas.

Example prompts to get the creative juices flowing: 

  • “Continue this paragraph about the benefits of using explainer videos in marketing campaigns, focusing on increased engagement and improved conversion rates.”
  • “Explain the concept of blockchain technology clearly and concisely, suitable for a general audience with no prior technical knowledge. Use simple language and relatable examples.”
AP prompts can inspire creativity

Diversify content formats

Expand your content repertoire beyond traditional text. Use generative AI prompts to create scripts for explainer videos, product descriptions in a conversational tone, or even catchy email subject lines.

Example prompts to expand your content’s range:

  • “Write a 2-minute script for an explainer video that introduces the key features and benefits of our new productivity software, targeting busy entrepreneurs.”
  • “Generate five engaging email subject lines promoting our upcoming webinar on social media marketing best practices, using a sense of urgency and highlighting the potential benefits for subscribers.”
AI prompt can help you diversify content creation.

A word on risk: Responsible use of AI-generated content

It’s important to remember that AI-generated content is a powerful tool, but it’s not a replacement for human expertise and is often easily detectable to human readers. Here are some key considerations:

  • Fact-check and edit: AI-generated content may not always be factually accurate. Always double-check the information and edit for clarity, tone, and brand consistency.
  • Prioritize ethical considerations: Be mindful of potential biases in the training data of AI models. Use prompts that promote inclusivity and avoid reinforcing stereotypes.
  • Maintain human editorial oversight: The human touch remains essential. Use AI as a springboard for creativity, not a crutch for critical thinking.

Another essential risk of AI content creation: sinking your site in the SERPs. Google’s most recent core algorithm update in March 2024 has caused significant volatility for sites with AI-created content. Proceed with caution and ensure you are using AI responsibly to avoid being penalized in the SERPs.

Beyond content creation: Using AI as your technical teammate

While content creation support can be a benefit of prompt engineering, AI offers all kinds of technical applications for marketers and growth leaders. Let’s explore how leveraging AI can go far beyond catchy headlines and blog posts:

Unveil customer insights with statistical modeling

Gone are the days of gut feeling or intuition driving marketing decisions. AI tools can analyze vast amounts of customer data to identify trends, predict customer behavior, and inform targeted marketing strategies.

Example prompts for uncovering actionable insights:

  • “Using historical sales data and customer demographics, develop a statistical model to identify which customer segments are most likely to respond positively to our upcoming discount promotion.”
  • “Analyze customer sentiment from social media conversations and online reviews to identify areas of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction with our brand, focusing on recurring themes and potential areas for improvement.”
Using the right AI prompts can help draw insight from collected data.

Forecast future success (and slowdowns) with sales prediction

Predicting future sales performance is crucial for strategic planning. Marketers can utilize AI to analyze market trends, competitor activity, and historical sales data to generate accurate sales forecasts.

Example prompts to help you look ahead and see what might be around the corner:

  • “Based on current market conditions, competitor analysis, and historical sales trends, predict our sales figures for the upcoming quarter, incorporating a best-case, mid-range, and worst-case scenario.”
  • “Develop a machine learning model that forecasts customer churn based on past purchase history, website activity, and demographic information. Identify customers at risk of churning and implement targeted retention strategies.”
AI prompt engineering can inform future predictions and modeling.

Automate routine tasks

Marketers often spend valuable time on repetitive tasks like creating basic website landing pages or email marketing templates. AI can streamline these processes by generating basic code snippets based on your specifications.

Example prompts for automating routine tasks:

  • “Generate the HTML code for a simple landing page promoting our new e-book, featuring a signup form and a product description with a clear call to action button.”
  • “Create a Python script that automates the process of generating email marketing campaigns based on pre-defined templates, dynamically inserting personalized customer data and product recommendations.”
The right AI prompts can help you automate routine tasks.

Leave the numbers up to the experts. Learn more about Data Strategy services from Tallwave.

The art of the effective AI prompt

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of prompt engineering potential, here are some key tips to ensure you get the most out of your AI collaborator:

  • Clarity is key: The more specific and clear your prompts are, the better the AI will understand your intent and deliver the desired output. Avoid ambiguity and focus on providing all the necessary context.
  • Start simple, refine gradually: Don’t overwhelm yourself with overly complex prompts initially. Start with basic instructions and gradually refine them based on the AI’s response.
  • Embrace iteration: The beauty of prompt engineering lies in its iterative nature. Experiment with different prompts for the same task and see what generates the best results.
  • Leverage examples and templates: Many AI tools offer built-in templates or successful prompt examples from other users. Utilize these resources as a starting point for your own prompts.
  • Remember context is king: The more context you provide about your target audience, brand voice, and desired outcome, the better the AI can tailor its response.
  • Think like a teacher: Imagine you’re instructing a student on how to complete a task. Frame your prompts in a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand manner.

Balancing efficiency and ethics in AI

AI has become a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal, promising to streamline tasks and unlock new levels of efficiency with perfectly engineered prompts. However, this exciting new frontier comes with a responsibility to ensure its ethical and responsible use. 

At its core, AI ethics is a framework of moral principles that guide the development and use of artificial intelligence. Organizations like UNESCO are actively creating guidelines to address potential issues like bias and misuse.  

Why should marketers care about ethics in AI? While these tools can be performance game-changers, neglecting ethical considerations can lead to brand damage, legal problems, and even product failures.  

Understanding key concerns like data privacy, fairness, and potential biases within algorithms is crucial for navigating the ethical landscape of AI marketing. By acknowledging these challenges and taking proactive steps, marketers can leverage the power of AI responsibly, safeguarding their brand reputation and building trust with customers in the process.

Embrace the future of digital marketing with Tallwave

While AI offers undeniable power and efficiency gains, it’s crucial to remember that marketing is ultimately a human endeavor. The ability to understand customer needs, craft compelling narratives, and build genuine connections remains irreplaceable. The key lies in striking a harmonious balance between cutting-edge AI tools and the irreplaceable human touch.

This is where Tallwave comes in. We can help you navigate the exciting world of prompt engineering, empowering you to leverage the strengths of AI while ensuring your marketing efforts resonate with a human audience. By working together, we can unlock the full potential of AI marketing, achieving success that’s both ethical and impactful. Let’s talk.

Categories
Customer Engagement News Paid Media Product Design Reaching New Customers SEO Strategy

Building a business-ready website: Beyond the surface of your website strategy

In the fast-evolving digital landscape, a website is more than a digital brand extension— it’s a dynamic tool that can either advance or inhibit business. Creating a high-performing website requires moving beyond surface-level aesthetics to consider the functionality required to meet business goals effectively.

A website is arguably the most persistent external expression of a brand and one of the hardest working tools in the digital marketing arsenal. It’s the digital front door of your business and a frequent destination for customers at multiple points in their journeys. And yet, website strategy is often only skin deep, focused heavily on how a website looks rather than on how it functions. And it’s often short-term, considering the roles your website plays for your customers and your business today and note how it will need to evolve to meet needs in the future. When it comes to creating high-performing websites built to go the distance for both brands and customers, three is the magic number. 

The magic triangle: Role, goals, and audience

A triangulated approach that considers roles, goals, and audience can help you plan for successful and sustainable websites. This interconnected approach ensures that the website is not only visually appealing but also aligned with the broader business objectives. Let’s break down the elements:

Role: The purpose of your website

Understanding the role your website plays in your business is the first consideration in this website strategy power trio. At a basic level, websites can play two roles: business-enabling and revenue-driving. 

Business-enabling websites can support your business in a number of ways, including:

  • Acting as a support system for external revenue channels: Business-enabling websites act as a powerful support system for your existing revenue channels, such as your sales force. They don’t directly generate revenue themselves, but they play a critical role in nurturing leads, building brand awareness, and ultimately driving conversions through those external channels.
  • Encouraging high-value microconversions: While not the final sale, business-enabling websites excel at capturing high-value microconversions. These actions represent significant steps forward in the customer journey, indicating a prospect’s growing interest in your brand. Examples include lead capture forms, content downloads (e.g., white papers, ebooks), and newsletter signups.
  • Fueling the customer journey: Business-enabling websites are instrumental in moving potential customers through the buyer’s journey and down the sales funnel. By providing valuable content, educational resources, and clear calls to action, these websites nurture leads, build trust, and position your brand as a leader in your industry.

On the other hand, revenue-driving websites support transactions and encourage conversion, directly contributing to a brand’s bottom line. Consider how revenue-driving websites can support your business:

  • Acting as a revenue generating powerhouse platform: Revenue-driving websites are the engines that directly power your business’s revenue generation. These websites are transactional in nature, facilitating online purchases and financial transactions. Examples include traditional e-commerce stores selling physical goods, food delivery platforms where customers can order meals, travel booking websites where users can reserve flights and accommodations, and service-oriented e-commerce sites.
  • Encouraging transactions: The primary function of revenue-driving websites is to facilitate secure and seamless online transactions. This includes features like shopping carts, secure payment gateways, and clear order fulfillment processes.
  • Suiting your needs: Revenue-driving websites encompass a wide range of e-commerce models. From traditional product sales through an online store to service-based transactions, these websites cater to a variety of industries and customer needs.

Clearly defining whether your website plays a business-enabling or revenue-driving role for your business sets the foundation for the subsequent decisions in your strategy, from critical KPIs to key features and functionality, necessary integrations, and more. It also sets the stage for the expectations users will have when visiting your website.

Goals: What you seek to accomplish with your website

Now that you understand the role your website plays in your business, it’s time to define your website goals. You might consider setting these objectives with SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Website goals will vary depending on your website’s role and your overall business objectives. 

Consider the following examples:

  • Business-enabling website goals:
    • Generate a set number of qualified leads per month
    • Increase brand awareness and website traffic
    • Drive event registrations or webinar signups
    • Improve content engagement through downloads or shares
  • Revenue-driving website goals:
    • Increase online sales by a specific percentage
    • Grow average order value
    • Reduce cart abandonment rates
    • Improve customer lifetime value

Establishing clear and measurable website goals can help you track progress, identify areas for improvement, and ensure that your website strategy aligns directly with your business objectives.

Audience: Who your website is speaking to

Your target audience plays a critical role in shaping your website’s design, content, information architecture, and functionality. Here’s why understanding your audience analysis is vital when thinking about website strategy:

  • Tailored user experience: By understanding your audience’s needs, preferences, and online behavior, you can create a user experience (UX) that resonates with them. This translates to a website that’s easy to navigate, informative, and facilitates desired actions, ultimately influencing conversion rates.
  • Content strategy alignment: Knowing your audience empowers you to develop a content strategy that truly connects. This means crafting content that addresses their pain points, interests them, and guides them through the buying journey.
  • Personalization potential: Audience insights can unlock personalization opportunities. This could involve tailoring website elements, product recommendations, or even entire landing pages to specific audience segments, leading to a more relevant and engaging experience.
  • Search engine visibility: Understanding your audience paves the way for essential SEO optimizations fueled by linguistic profiling and search journey analysis. Implementing data-driven optimizations based on these findings can improve search engine rankings and organic visibility for your business.

Learn more about SEO and other Integrated Digital Marketing Services from Tallwave.

Having a clear understanding of your target audience is the bridge that connects your website’s features and functionality with the user experience that drives results. Effective audience analysis involves:

  • Buyer persona development: Create detailed profiles of your ideal customers, including demographics, valuegraphics, needs, challenges, and preferred online behavior.
  • Website analytics review: Utilize website traffic data to understand visitor demographics, interests, and content consumption patterns.
  • Market research: Conduct market research to gain insights into broader industry trends and competitor audience strategies.

By combining these methods, you can create a comprehensive understanding of your target audience and leverage that knowledge to build a website that truly resonates with them.

Evaluating your website’s business readiness: Beyond the surface

While websites serve as prominent brand outposts, often acting as the initial point, their multifaceted nature can pose a challenge. Teams can get caught up in the aesthetics – visuals, interactive elements, and the like – neglecting to truly get under the hood and identify underlying strengths and opportunities.

Before you put your website to work, it’s essential to get down to business and review your site under the following lenses:

  • Technical infrastructure: Is the website’s technical foundation robust enough to support your business goals seamlessly, both today and into the future? This includes aspects like website speed, mobile-friendliness, security measures, and content delivery efficiency.
  • Customer experience (CX): Does the customer journey feel intuitive and cater to your target audience’s needs? Assess whether the website is optimized for high-value conversions aligned with your business objectives.
  • Accessibility: Is your website accessible for users with disabilities? Ensure that your website’s design and content adhere to WCAG guidelines. This means implementing features like alt text for images, keyboard navigation options, and proper headings.
  • Navigation paths and flows: Does your website seamlessly guide visitors toward their next steps, building upon interactions with other digital touchpoints in your brand ecosystem? A well-structured website anticipates user intent and facilitates a smooth journey towards conversions.
  • Design: Does the website effectively reflect your brand identity? Validate your website against your brand guidelines to determine if the visual elements, as well as content, are applied consistently across all pages.
  • Marketing and sales strategy alignment: Is your website an active participant in driving your marketing and sales efforts? It is important to make sure your website integrates with your marketing automation tools, facilitates lead capture, and effectively supports your sales funnel. It’s also critical to ensure the content management system on which your website is built supports the frequency with which updates may need to be made and the level of technical skill of those who will be responsible for making them.

This multifaceted evaluation approach can help uncover hidden roadblocks and optimization opportunities that ensure your website is not just visually appealing but strategically positioned to support your business goals.

Ongoing optimizations: Sustainable website strategy

Your website is a living entity, not a static brochure. Don’t “set it and forget it.” To maintain your website’s strategic effectiveness, you must plan for ongoing and iterative optimizations. Here are some key practices to keep in mind post-launch:

  • A/B testing: Test different website elements, like headlines, call-to-action buttons, or page layouts, to see what resonates best with your audience and drives conversions.
  • Data-driven decision-making: Leverage website analytics and user behavior data to inform website improvements and prioritize resources effectively.
  • SEO optimizations and content enhancements: Regularly update your website content with fresh, keyword-rich, relevant information to maintain user engagement and improve search engine ranking.
  • Mobile-first approach: Even in B2B scenarios, first contact often happens in the palms of your customers’ hands. Ensure your website is responsive and optimized for mobile devices.
  • Security maintenance: Regularly update your website’s security measures to protect user data and website functionality, especially when relying on cloud-based tools and data storage.

A well-defined website strategy is no longer optional – it’s a necessity. By understanding the role your website plays in your business strategy, your target audience, and your desired goals, you can create a website that is not just visually appealing, but strategically designed to drive impactful results.

And you don’t have to go at it alone. Tallwave is eager to create website strategy solutions that align with your consumers and meet them where they are when they need you most. Let’s talk.

Play Video

Bunger Steel

Doing some things and making some impacts